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 Adjectives

Disclaimer: I don’t own Merry or Pippin. They just popped by and asked if they could help out. So, of course, I said yes. 🙂

“Pippin, I’m writing a story about our adventures in Isengard, and I can’t seem to remember something.” Merry chewed on the end of his quill pen.

“Well, I’m here to help!” Pippin bit into an apple. “What do you need to know?”

“Was Legolas’s hair ‘long, lovely’ or was it ‘long lovely?” wondered Merry. “I think I need a comma between the two words.”

“And I was just about to say you didn’t,” Pippin sighed. “I don’t know which is correct.”

Merry looked forlornly down. How was he supposed to finish his story without knowing whether to use a comma or not? This was a grammar conundrum indeed. Luckily, Merry and Pippin, all you have to do is read this post, and you’ll find the answer to your question!

Let’s start by defining what an adjective is. An adjective is a word that describes a noun or pronoun. Black, seven, pretty, mad, cozy, soft, and hungry are all examples of adjectives. Now that we know what an adjective is, we can answer Merry and Pippin’s grammar question.

Legolas’s long, lovely hair is his pride and joy.

If you can interchange the adjectives and the sentence still makes sense, then you need a comma. For example, if you say Legolas’s lovely, long hair instead of long, lovely hair the sentence still makes sense. That means you need a comma between the two adjectives.

Tauriel is jealous of Legolas’s silky, shiny hair.

Another way of telling if you need a comma is to see if an “and” could be added between the two adjectives logically. It still makes sense if the wording is silky and shiny hair instead of silky, shiny hair. That means a comma is needed.

Legolas’s brown leather armor goes well with his hair.

There is no need to put a comma between brown and leather because you can’t exchange the adjectives or add an “and” and have the sentence still make sense. You wouldn’t say leather brown armor or leather and brown armor, so you wouldn’t need a comma.

Legolas’s sharp elven knives were a gift from Thranduil.

You cannot switch the adjectives here. Elven sharp knives just doesn’t make sense, so no comma is needed.

“I guess you were right, Merry. It does need a comma!” Pippin noted as Merry carefully wrote out the words “long” and “lovely” in the book, being sure to include a comma.

“I’m glad I know the difference now. I’d hate not to be able to finish my story. I’m going to call it How Two Hobbits Took Down Isengard and Plundered Isengard’s Salted Pork. I still think it’ll be better than Frodo’s story, The Lord of the Rings.”

“At least it will have correct comma usage!” Pippin said, leaving his friend to continue working on his story.

Merry and Pippin say thank you for reading! 🙂

~ Kayla

Monthly Link Share – Creating Epic Heroes

Welcome to June’s link share! Today I’m going to share some links I’ve found helpful this past month.

This first link has tips on creating epic heroes gleaned from Tolkien’s works. I really enjoyed the article, and it gave me a lot to think about when I’m creating my characters. At the bottom of the page, there are links to other “Tolkien Tips.” You might want to check them out!

http://writingishardwork.com/2012/05/08/tolkiens-10-tips-for-creating-epic-heroes/

Last month, I wrote a post on how to use commas which you can find here. In that post, I linked to two TedEd videos I found really helpful. Well, those two videos are part of an entire writer series from TedEd. I’ve watched several of them and found their advice to be really great.

http://ed.ted.com/series/the-writer-s-workshop

This is a Tumblr blog devoted to ways you can tell you’re a writer. I can relate to many of them, and it gave me a good laugh!

http://youknowyoureawriter.tumblr.com/

This was a fun story I found on YouTube about a teen writer who was published. I found it very encouraging!

Thanks for reading and clicking!

~ 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

Word Usage – Myriad

(Note: There is no proof that this conversation is canonical, nor do I know if this word is used in the Shire. Also, I do not own Merry or Pippin; however, they had so much fun helping me out with the grammar rule post, that they decided to help me out with this word usage post. 🙂 )

It was time for afternoon tea, and Merry and his friend Pippin were coming home after a long walk in the Shire.

“I’m starving, Merry!” Pippin said suddenly. “I could eat a myriad of mushrooms I’m so hungry!”

“Oh, but Pippin, I don’t think you’re using myriad right,” Merry said, concerned for his friend’s improper word usage. “It should be myriad mushrooms since myriad is an adjective,” corrected Merry. This seemed to go over Pippin’s head, so Merry tried clarifying. “You wouldn’t say I could eat countless of mushrooms would you?”

Pippin shook his head.

“Then you shouldn’t use myriad of, since countless of is essentially what you are saying,” finished Merry.

“I don’t think so,” Pippin said. “I’ve always heard myriad of. After all, it is a noun.”

“No,” replied Merry, “Myriad is an adjective.”

They couldn’t agree on myriad’s part of speech. The two Hobbits were confused (as well as hungry!). What were they going to do? Well, Merry and Pippin, read this post, and you’ll have your answer. 🙂

The question is whether the word myriad is a noun or an adjective. To use an “of” or not to use an “of” after the word. Which is correct? To answer this question, let’s start at the beginning. The very beginning. Back to the Ancient Greeks, actually. Myriad used to be the Greek word myrias meaning “ten thousand,” and it was used most commonly as a noun. From there it can be traced to the Latin word myrias and then to the French word myriade in the 1550s. What does this have to do with knowing whether to use an “of” after it or not? Well, a lot actually. You see, myriad started life most commonly as a noun. Even in our English language it was used as a noun. Then around 1800, the adjective form of myriad came along and was so frequently used, it came to be thought, even today, to be the only correct usage of the word. However, both uses of the word are correct.

So, the point of this long-drawn-out story is that both Hobbits are right.

“You see, Merry, we’re both right!” cried a triumphant Pippin.

Merry shook his head. “Well, I guess you were right, Pippin. But I still don’t think you can eat a myriad of mushrooms. That’s a lot.”

Pippin rubbed his stomach, “You’d be surprised, Merry. I think I can eat myriad mushrooms, and I’d like to start now!”

With this dilemma out of the way, the Hobbits could focus on the more important things in life – such as finally enjoying their afternoon tea and seeing just how many mushrooms Pippin could eat.

In case you’re still a bit confused or want to read more about this word, here’s a link to a really helpful article I found:

http://www.talkwordy.com/2009/02/a-myriad-of-misconceptions-well-just-one-really/

Thanks for reading, and thanks again to Merry and Pippin for their help! 🙂

~ Kayla

An Interesting Word – Snickersnee

It is the Council of Elrond. Frodo has just told the Council he will take the Ring to Mordor, and Gandalf has agreed to help him see it done. Suddenly, Aragorn stands up and says, “If by my life or death I can protect you, I will. You have my snickersnee!” Wait a minute. That’s not exactly what happened, is it? You, the viewer of all Middle Earth movies, would protest. What is Aragorn talking about? Is he speaking in Elvish? Aragorn could pledge his life, honor, or sword, but his snickersnee?

Well, it turns out that if Aragorn had pledged his snickersnee to protect Frodo, he would have been correct. A snickersnee, according to The Free Online Dictionary, is an archaic word that means “a knife resembling a sword” or “the act of fighting with knives.” According to http://www.etymonline.com/index.php?term=snickersnee, the term snickersnee was first used in the 1690’s and comes from the term “snick-or-snee” which was in turn derived from the Dutch phrase “steken of snijden” meaning to stick and to cut. 

There’s a Louis Carroll poem, Jabberwocky, that mentions something similar to snickersnee, a snicker-snack.

“One, two! One, two! And through and through
The vorpal blade went snicker-snack!
He left it dead, and with its head
He went galumphing back.”

There’s also another quote that includes a snickersnee from W. S. Gilbert in The Mikado.

“Oh, never shall I / Forget the cry, / Or the shriek that shrieked he, / As I gnashed my teeth, / When from its sheath / I drew my snickersnee!”

Here’s a video that includes the definitions of some other interesting words, including snickersnee:

Since you can’t have too much Lord of the Rings, I included the extended edition Council of Elrond scene. Just imagine Aragorn saying, “You have my snickersnee!.” 😉

If you’d like to know more about this cool word, you can read about it here:

http://www.worldwidewords.org/weirdwords/ww-sni1.htm

If you have a unquenchable desire to own a snickersnee, then I have great news for you! You can buy one off of Ebay!

http://www.ebay.com/sch/i.html?_trksid=p2050601.m570.l1313.TR12.TRC2.A0.H0.Xsnickersnee&_nkw=snickersnee&_sacat=0&_from=R40

Thanks for reading!

~ Kayla

Monthly Link Share – Ideas that Inspired

Welcome to January’s Monthly Link Share!

The first link is to a site listing some of the ideas that inspired famous books such as The Hobbit and Animal Farm. It was a short, interesting read and really fascinating to see how these famous authors were inspired.

http://www.writersdigest.com/whats-new/the-ideas-that-inspired-the-hobbit-animal-farm-8-other-famous-books

The next link is to an article by George Orwell, author of Animal Farm (which I’m reading for school right now!) and 1984. The article is about how and why he wrote. It was interesting to read about the reasons why Orwell wrote and what experiences in his life led him to become an author.

http://orwell.ru/library/essays/wiw/english/e_wiw

This is a list of the some tricky grammar mistakes. I know I’m guilty of more than a few of them! The blog is written by Gloson, “a kid blogger who lives in Malaysia.” He is a published author of two poetry books!

http://www.glosonblog.com/most-common-grammar-mistakes/

While the following video really has nothing to do with writing, it is very entertaining! Ten2ndRule is a Youtube channel dedicated to making, you guessed it, ten second skits illustrating a point. (If you’re a Wretched fan, you’ll know what I’m talking about! 😉 ) There’s a new one every Friday. These are two of my favorite ones:

Thanks for reading!

~ Kayla

Grammar Rule – It’s vs Its

(Note: There is no proof that this conversation is canonical, nor do I know if this grammar rule applies in the Shire. Also, I don’t own Merry or Pippin. They just volunteered for the skit. 😉 )

It was a fine day for a walk in the Shire, and Merry and Pippin were taking advantage of it.

Its a fine day for a walk, Merry,” said Pippin, while looking along the road for mushrooms.

“But Pippin, you’re wrong. Its not a fine day. It’s a fine day for a walk. You wouldn’t use its. At least, I don’t think you would.” said Merry, afraid his friend had made a horrible grammar mistake.

“That’s not what I remember learning,” protested Pippin. “I always use its.”

Well, this was certainly a dilemma, and one that neither Hobbit knew how to solve. Luckily, Merry and Pippin, all you have to do is read this post, and you’ll have the answer. 🙂

It’s a long walk to Mount Doom.

The best and easiest way to figure out which “its/it’s” to use is to remember that “it’s” is a contraction that means “it is” or “it has.” So, if you can replace the “its/it’s” in your sentence with “it is” or “it has” and have it still make sense, then you should use “it’s.”

It’s always been raining in Bree.

You can replace “it’s” in this sentence with “it has” and the sentence is still clear. So, in this case you would use “it’s.”

The map hung in its place on Bilbo’s wall.

If you replace “its” in this sentence with “it is” or “it has,” the sentence doesn’t make much sense. The “its” in this sentence is the possessive form of “it” and doesn’t use an apostrophe.

Sting earned its name in the forest of Mirkwood when Bilbo fought the spiders.

“It is” name or “it has” name doesn’t make any sense. Once again the possessive form of “its” is needed.

It’s a fine day for a walk in the Shire.

Sorry, Pippin. It looks like Merry was right. Since “it is” makes sense (It is a fine day for a walk), it’s the correct “its/it’s” to use.

“Well,” said Pippin, apologizing to Merry as they were walking back, “it looks like I was wrong. Its not a fine day for a walk. It’s a fine day for a walk. Now I know, and I don’t feel like such a fool of a Took!”

Hopefully this post has been as helpful to you as it has been to Pippin! Thanks for reading, and thanks to Merry and Pippin for their help! 🙂

~ Kayla

Bag End – Part 1

“In a hole in the ground, there lived a hobbit.” I’m sure everyone knows by now how much I love The Hobbit.  I love the book, and I love the movie. So, it wasn’t long after watching the movie before I started writing fanfiction for it. Today I’m going to be posting that fanfic! The main character is my OC, Nerissa of Rohan. Hope you enjoy!

A hole in the ground. That’s where my adventure truly began. I stood outside the round, green door feeling excited and nervous all at the same time. Lifting my hand to knock, I found the door already open. I stepped inside and stood in the hole. Not a nasty, dirty, wet hole, full of worms and oozy smells; this was a Hobbit-hole. I could smell good food, feel the warmth, and could tell that this hole had all the comforts of home. The low murmur of voices coming from another room caught my attention, though I could not make out what they said. Following the sounds, I crept as softly as I possibly could around the hallway, my heart pounding. This was the moment I’d been waiting for since I’d first heard about “adventures.” That’s what I had always wanted more than anything, my own adventure, like the ones in stories. Now, I had my chance. As I turned the corner, I could see a small dining room, crammed full of chairs and people. All men, or should I say dwarves.

“They say our quest is ours, and ours alone,” a deep voice said at the end of the table closest to me. I could see the back of his figure, tall, (at least by dwarvish standards) stately, and majestic. The other dwarves murmured, seeming disappointed.

I started to take a step forward, and then shrank back, too nervous to take that first step.

Oh, come on, Nerissa! This is an adventure. You’re supposed to be adventurous and take chances. I inwardly scolded myself. I started to press my boot down on the floor and take a step, and recoiled once again, as if that floorboard were made out of hot lava.

“You’re going on a quest?” asked a small (even smaller than the dwarves) man. He had curly hair and shockingly large and hairy feet.

“Bilbo, my dear fellow, let us have a little more light,” I heard a rough voice that I knew well. It belonged to Gandalf, an old family friend. It was through him I’d first learned of this adventure. I had to act now … or I never would.

I took a step forward, and with as much confidence as a terrified girl can possess, I stepped into the light, in full view of the dwarves. As soon as I did, the dwarves at the other end of the table stood up. I tried to fight the fear welling up inside of me and the common sense side screaming, “this is a HORRIBLE idea!”

The person in front of me slowly turned, and I suddenly found myself facing the dwarf I’d later learn was Thorin Oakenshield. “Who are you?” he ground the words harshly out.

I wrapped my gloved hand around the edge of my cloak’s dark hood and slipped it off my head. My dark, glossy curls tumbled loose, my pale blue eyes meeting Thorin’s glare. “I am Nerissa of Rohan.” I paused to stop the trembling in my voice.

Thorin growled before I could announce my intentions, “What do you want?”

“I want to join your quest.” As I spoke, I felt the trepidation melt away.

“Why? To claim the gold that is rightfully ours?” he accused.

“I do not want your gold; only the adventure in retaking it.”

“Why would a girl come to my aid when dwarves, my own people from the Iron Hills, would not?” he directed the question more to the absent dwarves of the Iron Hills than to me. At least, I hoped so.

“However, I have no need of children on this quest,” he scowled at me. “This is not some game. Come back when you have seen the world.” He turned his back on me and faced his people again. I felt as if my chance had slipped through my fingers.

Tune in next week to see if she’ll be able to join the adventure!

~ Kayla