The Hobbit: The Battle of the Five Armies Quick Review

Disclaimer: If you haven’t seen the movie yet, don’t read beyond this point! There are spoilers below.

I went to see The Hobbit: The Battle of the Five Armies today. Most of my readers know I’m a huge fan of Tolkien, and I finally had a chance to see the newest Hobbit movie. I really enjoyed it. Even with the major deviations from the book, I still really liked the movie. And I had pretty high expectations for the movie since I loved the first two, and I was pleasantly surprised. It was sad, though. I cried on and off from Dwalin’s argument with Thorin to the end of the movie. All my favorite characters always die! :,(

Things I liked:

1. Legolas riding on the legs of that bat creature – come on, that was awesome!

2. Thranduil was extra awesome in this movie. And so was his elk/reindeer/moose thing.

3. Bilbo’s line about stealing the keys from Thranduil’s guard was very funny.

4. The Strider scene! I fangirled so hard at the mention of his name. It was a clever connection.

5. “The Last Goodbye” song. I sobbed when that started playing.

6. Smaug’s lines to Bain and Bard in Laketown were chilling.

7. Thorin going mad was so well acted by Richard Armitage. I loved his character development, and I loved seeing the gold covered hall.

8. Thorin’s ending line was straight from the book. Kudos to Peter Jackson for leaving that in!

9. Three words for those who have read the book: Lobelia Sackville-Baggins. I’m so glad she got to have an appearance.

10. Galadriel fighting at Dol Guldur. She looked really cool. Don’t mess with Galadriel!

11. That ending with Bilbo and Gandalf. It was perfect.

Things I did not like:

1. Kili’s death. I still cried my heart out when I saw him die, but I HATED how he died with Tauriel.

2. The whole Kili/Tauriel romance was so unnecessary and unbelievable.

3. Fili deserved a better death scene. In fact he deserved more lines and screen time, too.

4. The deaths of Kili, Fili, and Thorin were expected, but disappointing. They should have died in battle next to one another like in the book instead of apart.

5. The amount of Alfred in the movie. Seriously, there seemed like there was a ton of him!

So, what did you like about the movie? What didn’t you like? Comment below and let me know!

~ Kayla

Monthly Link Share – Cliches and Chapter Breaks

Welcome to January’s Monthly Link Share. Today I’m going to be sharing links that have helped me this past month. 🙂

From when to use clichés to how to turn them on their head, this article is really interesting and helpful in dealing with clichés in your writing.

https://lisavoisin.wordpress.com/2013/08/29/fiction-friday-ya-authors-speak-out-about-cliches/

Since I never divide my rough draft into chapters, a question I have to answer when I go back and edit is where to put the chapter breaks. This article gives some great advice as to where those breaks should be!

http://www.writersdigest.com/writing-articles/by-writing-goal/complete-first-draft/3-ways-to-know-when-to-end-your-chapters?et_mid=466821&rid=2960426

This article gives 25 tips that are relatively quick and easy to help improve your writing. Number 15 has some great ideas that I’d like to try next time I’m stuck.

http://www.writersdigest.com/whats-new/25-ways-to-improve-your-writing-in-30-minutes-a-day

I love movie soundtracks, and one day, when I was looking a song from Pirates of the Caribbean, I came across Taylor Davis’s cover of it. It turns out she is a violinist who does covers of movie, TV, and video game soundtracks, and I recognized a lot of my favorite songs from the Legend of Zelda, Doctor Who, The Hobbit, and the Hunger Games. If you haven’t seen any of her videos, check her out! 😀

Thanks for reading and clicking! 😉

~ Kayla

Quote of the Week

This week’s quote is from one of J.R.R. Tolkien’s letters. Tolkien is a favorite author of mine, and I’m sure most of you know that he wrote The Lord of the Rings and The Hobbit. This quote isn’t so much about writing advice as it is about Tolkien’s own writing style. Most writers I’ve heard of always say they use outlines to plan their story. I, personally, don’t. It was really cool to hear that the great fantasy master himself apparently wrote his epic without knowing exactly what would happen next!

“I met a lot of things on the way that astonished me. Tom Bombadil I knew already; but I had never been to Bree. Strider sitting in the corner at the inn was a shock, and I had no more idea who he was than had Frodo. The Mines of Moria had been a mere name; and of Lothloriene no word had reached my mortal ears till I came there. Far away I knew there were the Horselords on the confines of an ancient Kingdom of Men, but Fanghorn Forest was an unforeseen adventure. I had never heard of the House of Eorl nor of the Stewards of Gondor. Most disquieting of all, Saruman had never been revealed to me, and I was as mystefied as Frodo at Gandalf’s failure to appear on September 22.” – J.R.R. Tolkien, in a letter to W.H. Auden, June 7, 1955

~ Kayla

 

Grammar Rule – Commas and Introductory Phrases and Words

Previously On Grammar Rule: We learned about commas in a list and commas and conjunctions. In case you missed last month’s installment, you can find it here. In today’s Grammar Rule, we are learning about commas and introductory phrases and words. Don’t go anywhere because we’ll be right back with this month’s episode of Grammar Rule!

*insert catchy theme music here*

First of all, we need to clear up what exactly is an introductory phrase. A phrase is a group of related words that do not have both a subject and a verb. An introductory phrase is a phrase that comes at the beginning of a sentence and prepares the reader for the rest of the sentence. Now that we’ve got that cleared up, we can now move on to the commas. After most introductory phrases, you will need to add a comma.

Slipping on his ring, Bilbo turned invisible.

To find the Arkenstone, Bilbo had to face Smaug.

Drawing his two swords, Fili ran into the orc battle with a shout.

A fearsome and malevolent beast, Smaug was considered the greatest calamity of that age.  

“Slipping on his ring,” “To find the Arkenstone,” “Drawing his two swords,” and “A fearsome and malevolent beast” are all types of introductory phrases, so a comma is needed to set them off.

By firelight the dwarves heard the tale of the Battle of Moria.

In this sentence there’s an introductory phrase, but no comma. No, that’s not a mistake. If you have an introductory phrase with five words or less that starts with a preposition, there’s no need for a comma. However, it’s not considered wrong if a comma is placed after “firelight.” Crazy, I know.

Occasionally, the dwarves would hear orc screams at night.

If your sentence starts with an adverb like “occasionally,” you will need a comma after it.

Meanwhile, Gandalf travelled to Dol Guldur to find the Necromancer.

Introductory words that help sentences to connect and flow together like “meanwhile” need a comma after them.

No, Kili has never washed his hair.

On the other hand, Legolas washes his hair at least twice a day with special Elf shampoo.

Interjections and common expressions also need commas after them.

Here are a few links that I found helpful while writing this post:

http://grammar.ccc.commnet.edu/grammar/commas.htm

http://www.grammarly.com/handbook/punctuation/comma/11/commas-after-introductory-phrases/

http://grammar.ccc.commnet.edu/grammar/quizzes/nova/nova2.htm – this one is a quiz you can take to test your comma knowledge

Join me next month for the next installment of Grammar Rule!

*insert more catchy theme music here*

~ Kayla

 

Grammar Rule – Commas in a List and Commas and Conjunctions

Are you ready to embark on a journey of many months that will leave you more grammatically knowledgeable? Of course you are! Over the next couple of months on my grammar rule posting days, I will be sharing the many and complicated rules of commas as I attempt to learn exactly what to do with these pesky little punctuation marks. With any luck our quest will be successful. May our journey through the land of commas begin!

Commas in a List:

Bill the Pony walked up the hill, trotted across the field, and ran through the gate into the Shire.

The first rule today is about commas in a list. The rule seems fairly straight forward: when you have three or more items in a list, you should use commas between the items to avoid confusion. While everyone can agree that there should be commas between the first two items, there is an all out war about the third comma, more properly called the Oxford comma. This little comma is a source of great strife among grammar lovers everywhere. Some want to remove this comma, while others want it to remain. What it all boils down to is that you can chose to use the Oxford comma or not to use the Oxford comma. However you chose to punctuate your lists is up to you, as long as you’re consistent in your usage. I personally use the Oxford comma, so my examples in this post will include the third comma. If you’d like to know a bit more about this war, here’s a great video from TEDEd which you can find here.

Thranduil, Tauriel, and Legolas are all elves from Mirkwood.

Now that the confusion over the Oxford comma is cleared up, we can continue on our little journey. In this example, there are three elves in this list, which means commas are needed between them to avoid confusion.

Kili and Fili are brothers.

In this sentence, there are only two dwarves in the list, so there is no need to add a comma.

Commas and Conjunctions:

Legolas fired at the orc with the bomb, but he missed.

The second rule is about commas and conjunctions. This rule is pretty straight forward as well: when there are two independent clauses joined together with a conjunction, a comma is needed before the conjunction. The hardest part about this rule is the terms. A conjunction is a word that joins two other words or clauses together. “And,” “but,” and “or” are all examples of conjunctions. An independent clause is a clause that has a subject and a verb and expresses a complete thought so it can stand on its own in the world of grammar.

You can tell if a clause is independent by reading the two clauses separately without the conjunction in the middle. “Legolas fired at the orc” is a full sentence. “He missed” is also a full sentence. So, in this case, there are two independent clauses, and there is a conjunction connecting them. Therefore, there needs to be a comma before the conjunction.

Legolas and Tauriel were not in The Hobbit book.

In this example, the conjunction “and” is not connecting two independent clauses. Neither “Legolas” nor “Tauriel” are full sentences by themselves, so no comma is needed between the two.

Smaug is fire, and he is also death.

Both “Smaug is fire” and “he is also death” have subjects and verbs and express complete thoughts. That means a comma is needed before the conjunction.

Here’s another great TEDEd video about commas and conjunctions, which you can find here.

Thanks for reading!

~ Kayla

Five Favorite Writing Soundtracks

I’ve mentioned before how much I love to write to music. The “writing music” I listen to can affect the mood of my novel and even inspire characters and plots. And the winner of my favorite type of music for writing is (drum roll here) movie soundtracks. Why? Well, they’re perfect for writing since you can match the mood of the album to the mood of your novel, and there are not usually any distracting lyrics involved. Another plus is that you can find most soundtracks uploaded to YouTube for free. So, here are my top five favorites that I like to listen to while writing.

5. Thor Soundtrack

Last November, I participated in NaNoWriMo and wrote a sci-fi novel titled Homeland. It had a ton of action sequences and dramatic moments, and I needed a soundtrack to match. Thor was perfect for that. The album has a sci-fi vibe to it with fast, exciting tracks perfect for writing an action-based plot. My favorite song off the album was “Prologue.”

4. The Pirates of the Caribbean Soundtracks

After watching the first movie, I found myself with “He’s A Pirate” stuck firmly in my head. There was only one thing to do: get the soundtrack! While I have never written a whole novel to these soundtracks, I love to listen to them when I’m working on something without an established soundtrack (such as Star Trek fanfiction, or the beginning of a novel idea). My favorite songs from the albums are “He’s a Pirate” from The Curse of the Black Pearl, “Jack Sparrow” from Dead Man’s Chest, and “Up is Down” from At World’s End.

3. The Importance of Being Earnest (2002) Soundtrack

I read the play for school. And then I watched the movie. And then I had to write a paper about the play. I couldn’t decide what to listen to while writing the paper, and on a whim, decided to look up the soundtrack on YouTube. I don’t know if it helped the paper, buy it turned out to be the perfect soundtrack for God Save the Queen (my Camp NaNo novel), and as crazy as it sounds, having that soundtrack helped my writing. I went from disliking my novel idea to loving it. The upbeat music helped turn my dark plot into one that was lighter and more comical. My favorite songs from the soundtrack are “Front Tiles” and, despite the distracting lyrics, “Lady Come Down.”

2. How to Train Your Dragon Soundtrack

I originally tried this soundtrack for Homeland, but it ended up not fitting the story line. Then I tried it with Snow, and it was a novel/soundtrack match made in heaven. It’s a wonderful soundtrack, and I can safely say I love every single song on the album. The album has a Celtic air to it with a great mix of fast, action-packed songs, and slower, more dramatic tracks. I’m pretty excited about the new How To Train Your Dragon movie, but I can’t decide if the excitement is for the actual movie or the soundtrack! 😉 My favorite songs are “Romantic Flight,” “See You Tomorrow,” and “Forbidden Friendship.”

1. The Lord of the Rings and The Hobbit Soundtracks

Big surprise there, right? 😉 Even though I might be a bit biased when it comes to the movies, I think even non-fans can say that these soundtracks are quite beautiful to hear. They are my go-to fanfiction writing soundtracks, and even when I’m not writing, I love to listen to them. They even inspired the name of the blog as “Concerning Writing” is a play on the song/chapter title “Concerning Hobbits.” Four of my favorites are “Evenstar” and “King of the Golden Hall” from The Two Towers soundtrack, “Axe or Sword?” from An Unexpected Journey, and of course, “Concerning Hobbits” from The Fellowship of the Ring soundtrack.

What music do you like to listen to while writing, if any? Do you listen to movie soundtracks? If so, which ones? Comment below and tell me. I’d love to find some new ones! 🙂

Thanks for reading!

~ Kayla

Grammar Rule – Beside vs Besides: A Romantic Tale

In my grammar book’s units, there is always a lesson concerning those pesky little words that people tend to get confused. Now, I like being grammatically correct, but those are killers. Well, this unit’s words are “beside” and “besides.” Ugh. I still can’t remember the difference between the two. Not only are the words almost exactly alike, they also can be used as the same part of speech. I’m hoping by writing this short romantic tale, I’ll be able to help myself (and maybe a few of you) remember how to use these words correctly.

Disclaimer: Despite the content in this post, I absolutely do NOT approve of the Tauriel/Kili relationship. In fact, I hate the whole thing and cannot listen to their theme in the Desolation of Smaug soundtrack without disgust. However, since no one asked my opinion when they made the movie, I am forced to live with it. Besides, it makes for some interesting sentences. 🙂

At the Elven feast, Kili wanted to sit beside Tauriel.

Beside is all about location and means “next to” or “close to.” Since Kili wanted to sit next to Tauriel, you’d leave off the S.

Fili also wanted to sit beside Tauriel, but Kili discouraged him with a dirty look.

In this case, Fili wanted to sit next to Tauriel as well, so again you’d leave off the S.

Besides Kili and Fili, Legolas also wanted to claim the seat next to Tauriel.

“Besides” means “in addition to” or “apart from.” Since I’m saying  in addition to Kili and Fili, Legolas wanted to sit with Tauriel, the one with the S would be correct.

Legolas told Tauriel, “I cannot believe you would sit next to that dwarf. He smells horribly, his hair is unkempt, and besides, he is so short!”

Tauriel replied, “Well, at least he doesn’t spend hours and hours gazing at himself in front of the mirror! Besides, he’s quite tall for a dwarf.” 

“Besides” in this conversation is used as an adverb and means “furthermore.” This one is easy to identify because it’s set off by itself with a comma.

In the end, none of them sat beside Tauriel. She chose to sit next to Dwalin, because she liked bald men, or should I say, bald dwarves.

Here’s a link to a website that I found helpful writing this post. It even has a test down at the bottom for you to take to see if you really do know how to use beside/besides!

http://www.grammar-monster.com/easily_confused/beside_besides.htm

Thanks for reading!

~ Kayla

 

Five Favorite Fiction Books

I have been reading ever since I was three. From picture books to chapter books to full-length novels, I’ve read a lot of books. Today, I’m sharing five of my favorite fiction books of all time. There are about, oh, a million books I feel bad about leaving out, but this is only one version of the list of my favorites. It does change from time to time. 😉

5. The Phantom Tollbooth by Norton Juster

I don’t remember how old I was when I first read The Phantom Tollbooth. What I do remember is that my mom had ordered it from the library for me because she had seen it recommended somewhere. I was a little uncertain, but after reading it, I fell in love with the book. It’s been one of my favorites for years, and I imagine it will always have a place on my shelf. It’s the story of a boy named Milo who thinks life is boring. One day, he receives a purple tollbooth in his room. He has nothing better to do, so he jumps in his toy car, drives up to the tollbooth, and travels to another world. He encounters creatures like Tock the Watchdog, the Doldrums, and the Demons of Ignorance all while trying to rescue the Princesses Rhyme and Reason. The witty word play and clever puns make this book a classic.

4. Rakkety Tam by Brian Jacques

I first listened to Redwall read by Mr. Jacques himself (He’s got the most amazing accent ever. I could have listened to him talk all day long!). I fell in love with the book, and now I have quite the collection of this series on my shelf. My favorite book in the series is Rakkety Tam. It’s about a squirrel from the highlands and his friend who work together to stop a savage wolverine from taking over Redwall abbey. Brian Jacques was a big influence on me wanting to be a writer. My first story was very much inspired by him and his work. 🙂

3. The Robot Wars by Sigmund Brouwer

I found this series when the first book was offered for free on Kindle. I finished it in about a day and got the rest from the library and blew through them in a few days. The Robot Wars is a Christain scifi series that is not at all preachy (which is a pet peeve of mine) and has an excellent story. The main character is Tyce, a paralyzed boy who lives on Mars and has never visited Earth. The books chronicle the adventures Tyce and his good friend Ashley have as they try and save the colony on Mars. Sigmund Brouwer is also one of my writing influences as he was the one who inspired me to try writing sci-fi.

2. Annals of Wynnewood by Chautona Havig

I love Chautona Havig. She’s one of my top favorite authors of all time (I love her Aggie’s Inheritance series). This is her fantasy series, and wow, it’s good. It’s the story of a boy who befriends a creature in the woods. The creature turns out to be a cloaked girl named Dove who refuses to let him see her face. I read the first one when it was offered for free one day, and then bought the last two because I had to find out what happened. It was money well spent. I read for hours to find out what happened and what Dove was.

1. The Hobbit by J.R.R. Tolkien

I almost didn’t read The Hobbit. I think I can hear all the Tolkienites dying. 😉 I wanted to be surprised by what happened in the movies, but on a whim I decided to read the book beforehand. I am so glad I did! And yes, full confession here, I did get a little teary-eyed reading the Battle of Five Armies. Reading the book enhanced the movies for me and started me down the path of reading Tolkien. The Hobbit, in case you happen not to know, is the story of a Hobbit, Bilbo Baggins, who is convinced to go on an adventure by a wizard named Gandalf to help a company of thirteen dwarves reclaim their mountain home.

See any of your favorites on my list? What are your five favorite books? Comment below and tell me! 🙂

~ Kayla

 

 

An Interesting Word – Tomnoddy

“Quite apart from the stones no spider has ever liked being called Attercop, and Tomnoddy of course is insulting to anybody.” (The Hobbit by J.R.R. Tolkien, “Flies and Spiders”) When I first read that, I thought two things: Bilbo better hurry up or the dwarves were going to be eaten by the spiders; and what in the world was a tomnoddy and why should I be offended by it? Well, today I decided to find out exactly what a tomnoddy is and share it with you.

According to thefreedictionary.com, tomnoddy means “a fool; a dunce; a noddy.” In Scotland, it can also mean “a sea bird” or more specifically “a puffin.” I’m going to assume Tolkien’s intention was to call the spiders fools and not puffins. 😉

This interesting word has an even more interesting etymology. According to http://english.stackexchange.com/questions/103878/why-does-tomnoddy-mean-dunce, tomnoddy was originally “dodman,” which meant “snail.” “Dodman” changed into “hodmadod” which meant “snail,” but it also came to mean “a deformed or clumsy person” which brings us one step closer to being an insult. Since “hodmadod” just wasn’t strange enough, the word morphed into “hoddy-doddy” which also meant “snail,” as well as “a short and stout person” and “a fool, blockhead, or simpleton.” After “hoddy-doddy” came “hoddypoll.” This word had nothing to do with snails, thank goodness, and meant a “fumbling inept person.” Then came “noddypoll” which was shortened to “noddy,” which meant “stupid person.” Then noddy met Tom, and together, they became tomnoddy. And of course, that brings us back to Tolkien.

The most famous quote using tomnoddy is from Tolkien. He uses it in the quote at the beginning of the post and also in the song that Bilbo sang, from the chapter “Flies and Spiders.”

Old Tomnoddy, all big body,

Old Tomnoddy can’t spy me!

Tom Noddy is also the stage name of an American entertainer. He performs on TV and all over the world. His “bubble magic” act involves clear and smoke bubbles, building structures with them, and creating cube bubbles.

I couldn’t find a video where someone actually said the word tomnoddy. But I did find a clip of the spider scene from The Desolation of Smaug. I think that was a wasted opportunity to have Martin Freeman sing the spider song from the book! 😉

Thanks for reading!

~ Kayla

Writing Habits Questionnaire

A few days ago, I read a post on a blog I follow, Like Star Filled Skies, featuring a questionnaire she had borrowed from another blog. After reading through her answers (which you can find here http://likestarfilledskies.wordpress.com/2014/03/03/writing-habits-questionnaire/), I wanted to get in on the fun and answer the questionnaire as well!

Writing Habits 

1. Typed or Handwritten?

Typed, definitely. I can’t think unless I’m typing. And with my messy handwriting I would lose half the ideas I’d write down just because I couldn’t decypher them. I always wanted to write longhand since a notebook is easier to carry than a computer, but alas, it just doesn’t work for me.

2. Cursive or Printed?

My handwriting leans more to the printed side, though, it occasionally crosses over to the cursive side.

3. Show us your favourite pen.

My favorite pens

My favorite pens

My favorite pens are a couple of colored PaperMate InkJoy pens and a Foray Rolle rollerball I used to use for inking my drawings.

4. Where do you like to write?

I like to write on my bed since it’s more comfortable for long writing sessions. I also write on the couch if I need a change of scenery.

5. Who are your five favorite authors in terms of authorial style?

J. R. R. Tolkien, Brian Jacques, Ted Dekker, Sir Arthur Conan Doyle, and Chautona Havig.

6. What are your three favourite books on writing?

Writing Conversations by Cherie K. Miller and Go Teen Writers: How to Turn Your First Draft Into A Published Book by Stephanie Morrill and Jill Williamson. I don’t have a third, yet.

7. Have you ever competed in NaNoWriMo?

Yes, in 2013 I did the YWP NaNoWriMo. It was my first one.

8. Have you ever won NaNoWriMo?

Yes! I won last year with 40,000 words (my goal was 35,000), and I’m currently editing that novel.

9. Have you ever had anything published?

No, not yet. 🙂

10. What projects are you working on now?

I’m currently editing my NaNoWriMo novel, working on fanfiction for The Desolation of Smaug, and fighting the urge to stay focused on editing instead of starting two other novels that desperately want to be written. 😉

11. What is your soundtrack to writing?

I typically listen to movie soundtracks while writing. My favorites are The Lord of the Rings, The Hobbit, Pirates of the Caribbean, Thor, and How to Train Your Dragon. I do occasionally listen to Owl City or my character’s theme songs while writing if I’m feeling uninspired.

12. Do you have a writing pump-up song?

I don’t have a specific one, but listening to one of the songs that reminds me of one of my characters always inspires me to write their story.

What would be your answers to these questions? Post them in the comments below. 🙂

~ Kayla