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Posts Tagged ‘J.R.R. Tolkien’

On the off-chance that you find yourself reading a book (like Tolkien) and are stumped by some of the more archaic measurements, this list may be of some use:

  • furlong: 22 yards
  • league: 2.4 to 4.6 miles
  • fathom: 6 feet
  • coomb: (from combe) a deep, narrow valley
  • ell: 45 inches 

Bonus marginally-related factoid, for Jim Butcher fans:

  • rill: a very small brook or a personified force of nature from an alternate world

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Photo by Nathan Anderson on Unsplash

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I always wanted to be able to draw. In high school, I had a friend who was a wizard with a pen. It was a form of magic, really, the translation of life to page. I could just about manage a creditable human eye and that’s it. It’s match was beyond me; the second one was never quite the same. I spent a good bit of my time in French class trying to improve (apologies to my French teacher) but eventually gave up and turned my hand to personalized on-demand poetry for my classmates. (It’s amazing what you can do with a hard deadline.)

I was better at the poetry. But I still wanted to draw, at least a little.

Thank you, computer graphics!

I’m not a wizard, but I was able to fill at least some of that gap with Illustrator, Photoshop and the like. And of course I write, another way to translate life to the page.

* * *

In art and life, find a way to do the things that call to you. The path may not be the one you expected, but it can take you to your destination just the same.

My personalized monogram in the style of Tolkien’s glyph.

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Star Wars: The Force Awakens has premiered and the hype it is a-ramping! I’m excited. Really excited, like Fanboys excited, but I can’t see the movie just yet. Why not? Why am I not suited up in a Han Solo outfit (complete with super cool hip holster) and posting this from the ticket line at my local theatre? Because Star Wars isn’t just my thing, it’s a family thing.

See, I grew up without a television. My father had a minor (read major) TV problem and realized that having one meant watching one. All the time. So no TV. What we did have was a black and white lab monitor and a tape of Star Wars. On Betamax:)

We watched that tape a lot. Until the video track died, actually, and for a while after that. Most nights after dinner, Dad would make giant bowls of popcorn spackled together with butter and salt and we’d settle on the couch for the movie.

The. Movie.

Yeah, I was that kid, the geeky one who could quote the whole thing. (Droid dialog included, of course. I can’t tell you what it means to have your mostly secret childhood obsession become the new cultural darling, but I may not have to. Maybe you were that geeky kid too. Awesome, right?)

The original Star Wars was a great movie but it was also an anchor in turbulent times. My parents split up around then, my mother had health issues, I moved to a new school. The usual kinds of transitions children go through, and need a foundation to weather well.

Star Wars, and the bond that formed with my brother and father around science fiction and fantasy, was a big part of that anchor. It’s also a big part of why I write speculative fiction. In the way only fiction can, the movie proved that the good guys can win, that wrongs can be righted, and that a scrappy band of rag-tag rebels can change the course of history. (Also that parsecs are a measure of time, support garments aren’t necessary in space, and that no matter what Obi-Wan says, stormtroopers can’t shoot worth a damn. Hey, nothing’s perfect;)

My father also read us Tolkien, and when the The Hobbit and The Lord of the Rings movies came out we all went together. Now those movies are done but we have a new hope (see what I did there?;). This year I’m going home for Christmas, and for Star Wars: The Force Awakens.

But, that means I won’t be able to see the movie for ten days. In the meantime? There’s time for a bit of fun:

So have a great time at the movie whenever you can get there, but #nospoilers please!

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Here’s an encouraging article for writers via HuffPost:
New Authors, Fret Not. Most Successful Authors Made Their Mark After 30

The headline sums it up but if this topic interests you it’s worth checking out the attached infographic. It allows you to highlight author age at first published book, at their “breakthrough” book, and also shows a nice timeline of the number of books published before and after death. J.R.R. Tolkien was 46 when The Hobbit was published (also, Nora Roberts is a publishing machine, and I mean that in the best possible way).

So fret not, and keep at it. Because writing well is a skill, and skills take time.

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