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I’m at college

I’ve been at college nearly two weeks now and I love it. My courses are exciting (except Latin which is killing me), I’ve met many awesome people and made some new friends who are already close. Our Lady Seat of Wisdom is everything I expected it to be!

The best thing about it, though, is that the college is in a small northern-Ontarian town which feels remote from anything else. I barely feel a desire to go online or worry about things besides school and money 😂 It’s also a scintillating feeling to be in charge of what activities I choose to do and when. (I can choose which Mass to go to on Sundays which is particularly satisfying; I’m not certain why.) Adulting is painful but it’s a lot of fun at the same time.

Anywho, there’s a quick little update! Hope you all are doing well, and if you’ve been noticing my absence online lately, there’s why.

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I do a candy fast, and why I’ve been gone (aka me getting real)

I have gone a week without candy or sweets, save for mid-morning snack and post-dinner dessert. I've survived. We'll see what the second week brings, but I think once I get through the official fast, I'll want to keep going… I feel really healthy. 😆

As for why I've been gone… so I burned out around the beginning of March. Finishing the lest vestiges of high school was driving me to distraction, my new job was taking over my life, and in short, I couldn't even think about blogging – or even working on my WIP –  without getting stressed and anxious. So I let it all slide (without even explaining online about why I wasn't blogging or doing much social media, for which I do apologize).

At this point, thankfully, I am completely finished high school, college and freedom beckon to me from a mere 35 days away, and work has become a routine. I still don't have a clue when Dark Flower is going to be finished or whatever, but I'm gonna start getting back into the periodic blogging routine. Yay. 😀 And that's my story.

In other news, I've opened a Teespring store where I sell awesome geeky t-shirt designs including LOTR (duh) and Doctor Who.

And as always, I do semi-regular stuffs on Twitter and Facebook so make sure you're following me there!

A Party of Special Magnificence

Entries are open for our Tolkien fan contest! The prizes are epic – a paperback Silmarillion, a Lorien brooch, even ebook copies of my own trivia book! Y’all should defs enter. 😀

The Ivy Bush

We’ve been publishing The Ivy Bush since August 2012 – and that means that we’re coming up on our fifth anniversary! In celebration, we are hosting a Party of Special Magnificence, otherwise known as a super-duper awesome contest.

There are two categories: Stories & Poems, and Art & Cosplay. Scroll down for the full guidelines/rules and a list of prizes!

General Guidelines

  • Entries open on May 1, 2017 and close on July 20, 2017.
  • Each entrant may not submit more than 5 entries in either category.
  • Submissions should be emailed to contact.theivybush@gmail.com. Please include your real name, your pen name if you would prefer to remain anonymous, and your email address.
  • Winners will be announced on August 1st.

Stories & Poems

Rules

  • Stories must be maximum 1000 words or one page long.
  • Poems must be a minimum of two stanzas or ten lines.
  • Please submit your entry in a Word…

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Cover Reveal: COILED by H.L. Burke

I’m back from a long and unexplained blogging break (very sorry about that, will explain soon I promise!) with a cover reveal for the lovely H.L. Burke’s upcoming release!

Coiled

A Young Adult Mythological Romance from author H. L. Burke and Uncommon Universes Press

A healing touch. A hideous face. A looming curse.

As the ugly twin to a perfect sister, Princess Laidra lives her life in the shadows – until her parents offer her as bait for a giant serpent.

Her escape attempt leaves her shipwrecked on a secluded island with only one inhabitant: Prince Calen, who lives under a curse. If anyone looks upon him, he turns into a giant serpent. Speaking to him in the darkness, Laidra sees past the monster to Calen’s lonely soul, and she determines to free him from the magic’s hold.

But if Laidra can’t break the curse in time, Calen will become a mindless creature of scales and fangs forever.

A YA mythology/romance that retells the myth of Eros and Psyche with adventure, magic, and true love.

CoiledFrontCover (1)

You can pre-order Coiled here!

About H.L. Burke

hlburkeBorn in a small town in north central Oregon, H.L. Burke spent most of her childhood around trees and farm animals and was always accompanied by a book. Growing up with epic heroes from Middle-earth and Narnia keeping her company, she also became an incurable romantic.

An addictive personality, she jumped from one fandom to another, being at times completely obsessed with various books, movies, or television series (Lord of the Rings, Star Wars, and Star Trek all took their turns), but she has grown to be what she considers a well-rounded connoisseur of geek culture.

Married to her high school crush who is now a US Marine, she has moved multiple times in her adult life but believes that home is wherever her husband, two daughters, and pets are.

Follow her personal blog at http://www.hlburkeblog.com.

TWT: Faramir, Boromir, and the Fellowship of the Ring

In an analysis of the Fellowship of the Ring, one member is glaringly distinct from the others. Most of the Company is there out of concern for the common good, or for love of a friend. One, however, is there, at the least, simply to get home, or at the best, for the faramirfurtherance of his country’s interests. Boromir son of Denethor seems a curious selection for what is arguably the most important alliance of the Third Age. Later, when we meet Boromir’s thoughtful, grave brother Faramir, the latter appears to be a far better option for such a critical mission than a man driven by his emotions, a man who is not totally invested in the success of the quest.

Throughout the book are subtle hints that Faramir should have been in his brother’s place. Several characters mention that Faramir wanted to be the one to search for Imladris, but Boromir insisted on his own precedence. Politically, too, at such a dangerous time it is far wiser to send a younger son, not to mention the one who is not so renowned as a valiant warrior. Character-wise, Faramir is wise and prudent, whilst Boromir is rash. There is a clear disparity between the man who says “clear proofs will be required”1 when his soldiers only think to rejoice at a rumour of the king’s return, and the man who urges the use of the Ruling Ring without consideration of such a route’s pitfalls.

Should logic and common sense fail to convince, it is tenable that the Valar hoped for Faramir. An identical dream shared by two people must be supernatural, and both brothers dreamed of Imladris, the broken sword, and Isildur’s Bane. Neither Gandalf nor Elrond sent such a dream, as is evidenced by the fact that they did not expect Boromir at the Council. The Valar are the most promising source for the dream – perhaps specifically Ulmo, a Vala with a history of sending dreams as guidance, and the only one who still took an active interest in Middle-earth in later years. Faramir, it should be noted, saw this vision many times, and Boromir only once.2 Why the emphasis on Faramir, unless the Valar preferred the wiser, more cautious brother as player in a momentous game?

The reason for this hypothetical preference is unmistakable. With his greater moral strength, it is likely that Faramir would not fall prey to the Ring’s lure as his brother did. The way he reacts to its presence in Ithilien is most telling: three hundred men to follow his order in a heartbeat against two halflings barely armed, and he lets them go. Granted,boromir21 unlike Boromir, Faramir never lays eyes on the Ring. Yet I believe we may take him at his word when he declares, “Not if I found it on the highway would I take it.”3 The statement seems preposterous considering the vulnerability of all creatures, and especially humanity, to temptation. Faramir, however, is a nobleman in every sense of the word. Númenórean blood runs true in him as it apparently does not in his brother; he reverences Elves and the Elder Days. Perhaps his assertion is mildly hyperbolic, but its general theme surely holds true to his character.

It might even be proposed that Men as a race are not overly more susceptible to temptation than anyone else. The hobbits we meet in The Lord of the Rings are extraordinarily resilient to the Ring, but even that race does not have a blanket resistance – Sméagol falls immediately. The same idea, inversed, may be true of mankind. Due to a natural fear of death and the unknown, it is unsurprising that they grasp more urgently for power; nevertheless, Aragorn refuses the Ring when it is freely offered him in Bree, and Faramir refuses even to see it before he sends it away from him. If it is true that Men overall are necessarily quicker to weaken, then it must be a personal weakness in Boromir’s character that leads him to confront Frodo – a weakness which does not exist in Faramir.

All this considered, Faramir is a clear choice over Boromir. And even so it is Boromir who goes to Rivendell. I thus conclude that whilst the Valar seem to want Faramir, a higher authority seems to want Boromir. The Valar, with their far-reaching yet limited foresight, see the immediate picture, and that picture presents Faramir, a noble young prince. Eru, the All-Father, sees the full picture, and that picture presents Boromir, a noble but flawed young prince, whose mistakes ultimately lead to a greater good.

1Tolkien, J.R.R. The Two Towers (New York: Quality Paperback Book Club, 2001), 272.

2Tolkien, J.R.R. The Fellowship of the Ring (New York: Quality Paperback Club, 2001), 259.

3Towers, 289.


This article is part of the March/April 2017 issue of The Ivy Bush.

Flash Fiction Challenge Day 1

Day 1: Select a book at random in the room. Copy down the last sentence and use this line as the first line of your new story.

The prompt sentence here is from the end of Thrones, Dominations by Dorothy L. Sayers and Jill Paton Walsh. My story got rather serious! 😀


“Must be reading the wrong book – will ask Harriet to lend me War and Peace,” she groaned. Then slammed the book shut on the spooning couple and tossed it across the grass. Why she’d even thought of reading a Western romance she couldn’t say. The bantering, the flirting, the kissing. The same plot as every romance novel ever, hashed and rehashed. All so sweet and innocent. With oh so little depth.

Her polar opposite.

She rolled over, stroked her pistol with a fingertip. It wasn’t loaded – not anymore. If she had to be frank, she’d admit that was a relief. A relief, not to be on guard every moment. It was a week now since he’d been locked away. The only remaining person who wanted her dead couldn’t reach her.

Then again, maybe she deserved punishment, be it death by his hand or the life sentence he was serving. Anyone who had done what she had done deserved some sort of penalty. And yet… she’d changed. She knew she’d done wrong, and she’d sworn never to do it again. She might stumble sometimes, but she would never go back to her old life.

She picked up the pistol and flung it into the lake.

And then she went to confess.


There you have it! I have no clue whether it’s any good at all, but hey – at least I wrote something again! (Other than the million and three essays I’ve been doing for school…) Also hopefully my fic for Day 2 will be a little more lighthearted lol. We’ll see.

30-Day Flash Fiction Challenge

I’ve been running low on blogging inspiration lately, as you may have noticed. Searching around for ideas, I noticed that one of my blogger friends is doing a 30-day Phantom of the Opera challenge right now, and what better to do than something that can last a month or more?! There are so many 30-day challenges, though, and I wanted to pick something special – not something specific to one fandom, or done a million times before (a.k.a. a LOTR one).

When I found this flash fiction challenge, I knew it was the perfect one. And “challenge” is certainly the right word for it – short stories have never been my forte, so this is a little out of my comfort zone. It’ll also challenge me to do more writing; with all that’s been going on in my life lately it’s not been easy to find the time or the motivation to write.

Some of the prompts I will tweak a bit to make into proper stories – such as #5. I wouldn’t bore you with a list of supermarket items. 😛 And some of them I’ll change to things I’m more familiar with. And ones that are supposed to be about the writer specifically (like #’s 9, 10, 11, etc.) I will fictionalise.

I should have the first story up within the week! I can’t wait to see where this goes.

So, how do you like it?

I had some pretty great feedback regarding a new title for Seascape, and I ended up deciding on Sea of Crystal, Sea of Glass. To be honest, I kind of fangirl over this title because it’s awesome.

In any case, a new title calls for a new cover of course, so I played around with the original design. I wanted it to be familiar to people who read it under the original title, but I added an element that I’d considered putting in the original cover but never did: a chess king. I’m very pleased with the result; the chess piece adds a kind of focal point and relieves the monotony of the colours in the background.

My favourite thing about this, though, is the titling. In my humble opinion, it’s beautiful! And it makes the cover look very YA Fantasy, which is good.

The one thing I’m not sure about is the blurb/review/whatever at the bottom. It balances the cover out but I’m not sure about the white text, and it doesn’t show up well in a darker colour.

I’d love to hear your opinions and suggestions in the comments. 🙂

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A call for aid (scroll for poll)

I find myself in dire need of thine aid, my friends.

A long time ago in a galaxy far far away, I thought it would be super cool to name all my books titles like Starscape, Seascape, Songscape… you get the idea.

This was not as good an idea as it seemed.

Starscape’s title is going to remain the same, but after getting a number of questions recently about whether it and Seascape are part of a series, I’ve finally decided to rename the latter.

I have a few possible titles right now: Though the Waves Toss and a variation thereof, The Waves May Toss, or Sea of Crystal. (Also, come to think of it, Sea of Crystal, Sea of Glass could be cool too.) In keeping with the chapter titles, I’ve taken these titles from Bible verses as I’d like to keep the theme going.

What I’d also like are your feedback or suggestions. What do you think of the titles I’ve thought of, and do you have some other promising possibilities?

TWT: Arwen’s Song

This is possibly the best poem I’ve ever written.

Arwen’s Song

We met at dusk in Imladris wood;

He called, “Tinúviel!”

As Beren called in years long past,

Far west of Rivendell.


In Lórien of singing gold

We met at length once more;

I plighted troth to Arathorn’s son

On Amroth’s hill of lore.

I turned away from Elven-home

And gave to him my love;

Immortal life I rejected then

And naught could my heart move.


Estel went far a-journeying

Till war inevitable came.

Through Eru’s grace Ring passed away,

The Shadow fell in shame.

In City of Kings our hands were joined

At midsummer of year;

And though he’d kingdom, wealth, and power,

‘Twas me he held most dear.

But at long last his years were spent;

He lay in Silent Street

As still and cold as hardest stone.

Our son took Estel’s seat.


I chose to bear the Doom of Men

That day so long ago;

I now must bear the Doom of Men,

Would I or would I no.

I’ll not be conquered at last test –

I who renounced the Foe.

There’s life past death, Eru’s gift to Men,

Relief from bitter load.


My mortal love, I grieve for you

Beneath these fading trees

Of what was once fair Lórien,

Forsaken for the seas.

I too now lay me down to sleep

Upon this hill of ours,

To lie, perchance, forevermore

In nature’s golden bower.


O Elbereth Gilthoniel,

Your daughter Arwen sleeps.

O Eru, take me to Your land

Beyond the Sundering Seas.