Category Archives: inspiration

What 10 Books Mean to Me in 10 Words or Less

O, there is lovely to feel a book, a good book, firm in the hand, for its fatness holds rich promise, and you are hot inside to think of good hours to come. – Richard Llewellyn, How Green Was My Valley

This week I thought I would simply share with you 10 books (ok, or series…!) from the long list of books that have meant the most to me throughout the past 20+ years of my life. I set myself the challenge of stating how each book affected me in 10 words or less – no simple task!

My words may be a description of the book, or simply the way in which the book changed me – sometimes both.

10. The Old Man and the Sea by Ernest Hemingwayold man and the sea

An old man’s stubborn heart touched my young one.

 

9. Queenmaker by India Edghill

An age-old tale from an intimate perspective.

 

8. The Bible

God’s heart – the light to my path.jane eyre

 

7. Jane Eyre by Charlotte Bronte

A passionate, restless, plain girl, much like myself.

 

6. Treasure at the Heart of the Tanglewood by Meredith Ann Pierce

A spell of words woven into a deep-earth, epic journey.

wildwood dancing

 

5. Wildwood Dancing by Juliet Marillier

My childish dreams merged strangely and naturally here.

 

4. The Wolves Chronicles by Joan Aiken

Quirky, edgy. Wild imagination that opened new worlds.

 

3. The Chronicles of Narnia by C.S. Lewis

My heart’s fairytale with a true secret at center.

 

2. How Green Was My Valley by Richard Llewellyn

Proof that the beauty of words could break a heart.

 

1. Till We Have Faces by C.S. Lewis

A lesson that “Nothing is yet in its true form.”

 

Ten words … that’s hard!  It leaves much to say on the thoughts and emotions I felt for each of these books. What about you? Which are the books that have made the most impact on you – heart, mind, and soul – through the years? Can you describe one or two of them in 10 words or less? Comment below. I’d love to hear about them!

Lizard’s Leg and Owlet’s Wing … and Other Spells

Spells, enchantments, potions, charms, hexes and curses … call them what you will, they make up a huge part of both fantasy fiction and the fantastical characters many of us know and love. And though I believe the true magic lies in a well-written story and in the characters that speak to us and endure, that certainly doesn’t stop me from getting pleasure in seeing the varied ways authors and writers of books and movies have used words to express traditional magic! I hope you enjoy them as well.

The Summoning Charm
Is there anyone within a few years beyond or behind my generation who isn’t at least familiar with this one? Ok, so maybe I’m being a little fanatic. Most Harry Potter fans are. But what else can you expect from someone who instinctively calls out “Accio keys!” while searching frantically through my purse …?! Short and sweet, this one simply means “I summon.”

Accio!

stone table2

Deep Magic
This is the magic law that is etched into the stone table Aslan was killed upon. It is full of power and meaning that, for me and many others, goes far beyond the fictional Narnian chronicles.

If a willing Victim that has committed no treachery is killed in a traitor’s stead, the Stone Table will crack; and even death itself would turn backwards.

Crossroads Uncrossing Spell
Earthy and timeless, these words come from Eileen Holland’s Spells for the Solitary Witch. I don’t know about you, but my somewhat dramatic imagination sees a fey creature, arms outstretched to the skies, crying out this chant.

Guardians of the North, grant me power!
Guardians of the West, send me strength!
Guardians of the South, give me energy!
Guardians of the East, know my spirit!

Fire Spell
In the BBC miniseries, Merlin, our main character – Merlin himself! – works magic in nearly every episode. This is one of many examples that I could give – a spell of fire, which translates literally: “You are air in fire’s heat; defeat the hostile one.”

Lyft sy þe in bǽlwylm ac forhienan se wiðere!

Enter the Three Witches …
The evil of the three witches who set out to destroy Macbeth is palpable in the following lines, which are only a few taken from the much longer spell in the play by Shakespeare.

Fillet of a fenny snake,
In the caldron boil and bake;
Eye of newt, and toe of frog,
Wool of bat, and tongue of dog,
Adder’s fork, and blind-worm’s sting,
Lizard’s leg, and owlet’s wing,—
For a charm of powerful trouble,
Like a hell-broth boil and bubble.

Love Charm
In April or May, fashion a heart out of willowy rosemary branches. Secure your heart with a yellow ribbon – and for added strength, weave in a piece of your lover’s clothing or a strand of his or her hair. Place the charm in a white envelope, then place the envelope beneath your pillow. When the charm has worked its magic and brought the one you love closer to you, burn the rosemary heart in fire, thinking all the while of the fiery nature of your passion and love. (Taken from The Good Spell Book by Gillian Kemp).

Shield Us From Fire
Eragon spoke these words in the Inheritance series by Christopher Paolini. They diverted fire from both him and his dragon Saphira.

Skölir nosu fra brisingr!

Rush, Waters of Bruinen
Arwen turns to her pursuers, the Ring Wraiths, and utters this spell. Anyone who has seen the movie The Fellowship of the Ring remembers the elven tongue … but what do these mysterious words translate to in English? “Waters of the Misty Mountains, hear the word of power. Rush, waters of Bruinen, against the Ring Wraiths.”

Nîn o Chithaeglir lasto beth daer; rimmo nín Bruinen dan in Ulaer!

There are spells of length, one-worded curses, rhyming and metered enchantments, a deceptively simple string of words … an endless variety of ways the words of magic have been portrayed through fiction and beyond. For me, no one of these methods is better than the other – each seems to fit with the story that is woven around it, and is meaningful and effective within its context.

Which are your favorites, from the above list or otherwise?

Finding Fairy Tales in Everyday Life

forest

Once upon a time, I discovered that fairytales are not just stories.

They became not just my book obsession, not just an infatuation with princesses and mythical kingdoms. Fairytales became, for me, a way of life, and a way of thinking. Something that, as a child, came straight from my heart and has, over the years, wound through my entire being, even finding its way into my logical thinking.

I can remember the first time I read a fairytale that transported me completely from this world into another. I can still remember the way it felt as if I had just discovered that magic truly existed. I can remember the smell of the book and the feel of my hands on it, the way the sunlight was coming into my bedroom as I sat cross-legged on my bed, leaning over my book until I developed a horrible crick in my neck … but kept reading anyway.

And I knew I could never be the same again.fairytale

Yet I grew older I experienced troubles and heartbreak, just as everyone does. I became cynical and cautious, and almost lost hold of the fairytale in me. But God gave me a second chance in the form of my own child. I have learned to see things through his eyes. And does he see things!

When he was only two, he pointed out a large chink in our neighbor’s driveway, stooped to carefully examine it, then stated most seriously that he had found a dragon footprint.

I related the above event to my husband, rapturously declaring that our son had the imagination of a genius (well, I’m a mom, so I can say those things …). And of course, while he is no doubt a genius, I think the thing that truly struck me that day (and has struck me countless times since) was how something so astoundingly mundane could become so, well, astounding. And all in the course of two seconds – all because of a handful of words, a different point of view, a tiny drop of imagination and the guileless courage of a two-year-old to see something for what it could be instead of what it in fact was.

It’s not a new concept by any means, looking for inspiration in unexpected places. But even so, it’s one that is all too easy to forget in the hubbub of our daily lives, in the busyness of our work and family schedules and the running to and fro.

Mostly it just takes a conscious will to stop, or at least slow down, and look around you. It doesn’t matter if you live in a bustling city, or a small town, or out in the middle of nowhere. Nothing is off limits. Everything can be fairytale. Is it ugly? Is it boring? Is it broken? Those things make some of the most beautiful fairytales of all.

gnome homeBecause really, when you think about it, aren’t we living out epic tales of our own? A tale called “life” that’s tragic and involved and messy and glorious and heartbreaking and, most of all, full of hope.

Today my son found a “gnome home” in the hollow of a tree as we walked in the woods. That was his fairytale. And my fairytale? Yes, I found one today, too, but not in the tree. It was in the thrill of love I felt watching my son’s brown eyes widen with excitement as he made his own small, but crucial, discovery. And I was transported into his world.

Isn’t that just how fairytales are supposed to make you feel?

8 Reasons Why Readers and Writers Should Be On Pinterest, and 4 Lists of Awesome Boards to Follow

dragon computerWhen I first discovered Pinterest, I will admit – I was addicted for about two months straight. My husband didn’t know what had happened to me – I rarely came up for air. So many pictures! So many ideas! So many sites, and thoughts, and inspiration! All in one place, too. And I’m an organizer … ooh, I loved organizing my pins into boards, and my boards into groups… Everything was in its place. Just how I like it.

I soon noticed, though, that things in the real world were most definitely NOT in place. The laundry, for instance. And the dishes. I mean, who has TIME for those things, when you are so busy pinning brilliant ideas about them?? I certainly did not.

After I mellowed out a bit, and stopped getting depressed because I didn’t have “the house of my dreams,” and hadn’t followed the “10 steps to a perfectly organized life,” I found another, more inspiring, reason for Pinterest …

It can be a great tool for writing, and an excellent resource for reading.

I began a Pinterest account specifically dedicated to book lovers, readers, and aspiring writers, and the rest is history! I soon discovered there are thousands of others who are just as obsessed with books as I am. (If you want to visit my Pinterest page and see/follow my boards, click here!).

So, how does Pinterest help the reader and/or writer, you ask? Well, here are some of the ways I have found it useful:

1.  Inspiration. I like to surf pins, especially of fantasy and fairytale imagery, to get inspiration for stories I want to write, or to better visualize the one I am currently writing.underwater castle
2.  Quotes. Yeah, they’re all over Pinterest, but if you get choosy about who you follow, you can filter out the corny, melodramatic, and pointless ones! I especially like to follow boards with quotes from my favorite authors or books, and I love quotes about reading and writing as well. Try following a board of quotes that is honed in to something specific you like (i.e. fantasy, humor, dogs, forgiveness – you name it!).
3.  Recommendations and reviews. There are boards dedicated entirely to book recommendations and book reviews, and many of these boards are split into genre (Romance, Historical, Biography, etc.) or age-group (middle grade, young adult, etc.), which makes it even easier to navigate to the specific ones you would like to follow.
4.  Writing prompts. Ideas to file away for future use.
5.  Literary media. Follow your favorite authors’ or publishers’ boards (or someone else’s boards about those authors!) to get updates on interviews, blog posts, giveaways, upcoming book releases, and contests.
6.  Eye candy. Yep, you heard me. Some people call it “book porn,” although that’s a bit much for me. It comes to the same thing, though … people who simply love pictures of books, libraries, cozy reading nooks, and everything else bookish. Sometimes, when I’m not drooling, I actually get some great ideas from these pictures when it comes to organization and/or display (and believe me, with upwards of 3,000 books in my house, I need those tips!).
7.  Geekery. Find nifty accessories, clothing, gadgets, and other paraphanalia made specifically with book lovers in mind. This one is just plain fun. Quotation cufflinks, anyone?  literary cufflinks
8.  Articles and posts. This one sounds kind of boring, I realize, but if you are a writer and, like me, don’t have time every day to read posts from the 30+ writing blogs you follow … what could be easier than just pinning them to a board to save for a lazy Sunday afternoon?

So, with these excellent reasons in mind, I set myself a fun assignment and researched some of my personal favorite boards so I could list them for you to check out. If you are a reader, a writer, a book reviewer, a lover of fantasy and fairytale imagery, or all of these things – you won’t want to miss these! Just be sure you don’t drown in all the bookish goodness!

Boards for Readers
Read Aloud Book Recommendations for Children
Teen Book Recommendations
Our Book Reviews
Night Owl Reviews
Fantasy Book Reviews
Author Interviews
Book Trailers

Boards for Writers
Sharing Writing Tips
Writing Prompts
Your Writer Platform
Getting Help With Your Writing
Business of Writing: Publishing and More
Quotes: Writing

Boards for Fairytale & Fantasy Lovers
Once Upon A Time …
Tales
The Wee People
Fairy Dust
Mystery and Mischief
Other World
Mystical
Makin’ Magic

Boards for Bibliophiles
The Library
Book Art and Display
Book Gear
Literary Humor
Beyond Books~Shops and Stores
Reading Nooks

If you are on Pinterest already, in a reading or writing capacity, what are some of the ways in which you have found it useful? I’d love to hear. It may just inspire me to add one, or two … or maybe ten more boards to my own profile!

An Enchanted Forest in a World Far Away

cropped-forest11.jpgYou are standing in a semi-lit wood.  Ancient, twisted trees tower above you on all sides, their knots and hollows casting strange shadows at your feet.  A cold, curling mist winds its way around your ankles, sending chills up your spine.  Perhaps you see a swift movement from the corner of your eye – a flash of wide eyes and a tiny green cap flowing behind as a small fey creature whisks by you – but when you turn to look at it, you see only a small brown tree stump with a crowning flow of bright emerald leaves.  A branch snaps like a whip and you turn quickly to see the flick of a white equestrian tail through the trees … you’re almost certain you can see a shining golden horn coming from its noble forehead.

You are in an enchanted forest.  A place that can be as terrifying as it is awe-inspiring.  And that chill that went up your spine just a few moments ago?  It was one-part fear, but two-parts pleasure.  Wasn’t it?

I’m not sure about you, but if I could choose a place in all the faerie tale worlds to visit, an enchanted forest would be my first choice.  The worlds of fantasies that live in my imagination, planted there by the countless stories of such places I have been reading my entire life, can come alive when I envision such a place.  Sorcerers, fairies, centaurs and unicorns, magical pools, fairy rings, mysterious caves and hidden portals – who would even try to resist?

There are endless novels and short stories that revolve around enchanted – or at the very least, mysterious – forests.  And honestly, where would fairy tales and fantasy stories be without them?  I have compiled a short list of a few that I highly recommend you check out.

But I want to hear from you, too … what are your favorite stories that involve (or take place in) mystical forests?  I’d love to hear your recommendations!

  1. The Forestwife by Theresa Tomlinson (Mary is an orphan who flees into the forest seeking freedom from the nobility of Medieval England.)
  2. Wildwood Dancing by Juliet Marillier (Jena’s home has a magic portal that leads beyond the mysterious wood and into the Other Kingdom, a world she visits every Full Moon with her sisters and her constant companion and friend, a frog.  With a sister falling in love with a dangerous creature, a father who is deathly ill, and a frog who may just be more than meets the eye … things seem to be leading toward heartbreak.)
  3. Keturah and Lord Death by Martine Leavitt (Young Keturah follows a hart deep into the wood beyond her home and becomes hopelessly lost, only to be found by Lord Death, who wishes to make a bargain with her she’s not certain she is capable of making.)
  4. Messenger by Lois Lowry (Matty serves as a messenger, communicating with villages on either side of a treacherous wood.  But his village decides to close its gates and Matty must fight his way through the forest, which seems to have a mind of its own, before he is shut out forever.)
  5. The Magician’s Nephew by C. S. Lewis (Digory and Polly use a magical ring and find themselves in the Wood Between the Worlds, an place full of enchanted pools that each lead to a different and exciting world. #6 in the Chronicles of Narnia)
  6. Beauty Robin McKinley (The classic tale of Beauty and the Beast retold.)
  7. Phantastes by George MacDonald (A young man journeys through a world of fantasy on a quest for joy and surrender.)
  8. A Midsummer Night’s Dream by William Shakespeare (Two pairs of star-crossed couples get lost in a magical wood only to have the fairy king Oberon tamper with their lives and loves, making everything a glorious mess.)
  9. Mythago Wood by Robert Holdstock (The “Wood” is larger on the inside than on the outside.  It contains a labyrinth of love and beauty … that just might drive you mad.**This is an adult booki, not YA)
  10. The Fairest Beauty by Melanie Dickerson (Sophie and Gabe flee from their parents together to the forest and the Cottage of Seven.  Both are promised to others – but find their feelings for each other becoming dangerously warm.)
  11. On Fortune’s Wheel by Cynthia Voigt (Birle goes on an unexpected journey through forests and faraway kingdoms, running away from the man she was promised to wed, accompanied by a man who is not all he seems.)
  12. A White so Red by K. D. Jones (A retelling of the story of Snow White)
  13. Beyond the Deepwoods by Paul Stewart and Chris Riddell (He lives in Deepwoods among wood trolls, but Twig decides to begin a quest to find where he truly belongs.)
  14. Scarlet by A. C. Gaughen (Scarlet poses as a boy and becomes one of Robin Hood’s thieves.)
  15. The Outlaws of Sherwood by Robin McKinley (Classic retelling of Robin Hood by a master storyteller)
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