Saturday, October 19, 2013

The Human Mirror Factor

What is the making of a villain?

epic Khan pic

 That is a question so many of us ask ourselves, writers or not. What lies at the heart and will, where tendencies and beliefs, and perhaps untested aspects of one's nature just wait for life to throw them a fast one, making them emerge into a new light?

epic Khan pic

 I was able to see Star Trek: Into Darkness recently, and I can honestly say that I found it to be excellent, and a very interesting study in regards to this question. The story was told in a way that was balanced, believable, and potent; different layers build into a coherent whole. It was a story of what one does for those they hold close, and for what they stand for. Through loss, whether through another, or of another, the sacrifices we're willing to make to protect those we care about, and what things we're willing to defend. And, at the same time, perhaps realize what beliefs and things we hold to be true about ourselves, and what sometimes happens in life. What choices we're willing to make.

  And it is this theme that makes the Into Darkness villain so powerful, because Khan is willing to do the same, without conscientiousness. His passion is for his crew, his people. His own. This is something both he and Kirk equate to enormously in this story--both of them understand. Both of them can be ruthless, but only one exercises his actions at a cold, brutal level, with no indication that it is the boundary of his capacity.

  I have not seen the older episodes or movies, but judging from this movie alone, Khan is incredible. Benedict Cumberbatch did a tremendous job. From the moment he shows up to when he is finally--well, I won't give it away. Khan is understandable. A created being, for savageness and intellect, yet human to the extreme. Only with him, his morals and point of view can condemn a race. He can use people like pawns, because he understands them, even as he disregards them. Looks down on them for being beneath their potential, for accepting their weaknesses.

my name is Khan

  Perhaps what it takes to make a good villain is a hero that is also human. Mirror effect. It is the example of the story--the stark (or at times, not so stark) contrast. Kirk will do anything for his crew. Only he shows that he is bigger than the plain, personal satisfaction of revenge. There is that struggle there, but he makes the harder decision to follow the right course, further doing whatever is needed to protect that which he represents, and those he leads. His course took one way--Khan another. It's not often that we get such good, close characters to compare. Perhaps I'm just not watching the right movies. But I hope that I will be able to put forward more examples, for myself and for others trying to delve into this mystery, this mystery of what makes people good men or villains. (I say men generally, as in mankind). But then, it is tempting to paint humanity in such simple colors, when we know that we are not that in the least.

  These are stories that always draw people, because, I believe, we wonder what lies within ourselves. Someone good, someone in between...someone capable of unknown things? What really lies within us?

  ~E. C. Shore

Wednesday, September 18, 2013

The Pen Is Stronger Than the Sword---Philippa Gregory, The White Queen

philippa gregory author

Real people are what drive the course of events in the world. Human beings, doing what they do, making the choices they make. That is something I look for in reading. It's the reason I like Gone With the Wind so much. As much as we know (or at least I do) that Scarlett O'Hara is a brat and does thing purely for self gain, I admire her guts. Her tenacity, and strength when the harshest of reality tries to beat her down, as it has so many others. These are characters that last. I love characters that are good people, of course. But it's easy to write of someone who is the typical, good person. Or what it is perceived to be. But that sort easily feels like a manufacture--a farce.

  I just finished The White Queen by Phillipa Gregory. It was worth the read, absolutely. The format was strange for me, in that Gregory jumped time so much, but I thought in the end that it accomplished what she needed to do well. And her character, Elizabeth, is a real person. That blurred in between of good and evil that so often is a part of our lives, especially in politics. I can't say it one of my favorite books--but it is a book I would say that is written well.

  One thing I will say, is that there is one part that I would read the entire book for just to read that part. It was so potent, human, and real. The truth of the reality of war. Here is an excerpt:

I should close and bolt the gate behind them, but I do not. I stand in the gateway to watch. I think of myself as a heroine in a story, the beautiful queen who sends out her knights to battle and then watches over them like an angel. 
  At first, it looks like that. My brother, bareheaded, in his beautifully engraved breastplate, goes quietly towards the camp, his broadsword in his hand, followed by his men, our loyal friends and those of our affinity. In the moonlight they look like cavaliers on a quest, the river gleaming behind them, the night sky dark above them. The rebels are camped in the field by the river; more of them are quartered in the narrow dirty streets around. They are poor men; there are a few with tents and shelters, but most are sleeping on the round beside campfires. The streets outside the city walls are full of alehouses and whorehouses, and half of the men are drunk. Anthony's force forms into three, and then at the whispered word everything changes. They put their helmets on their heads, they drop their visors over their kindly eyes, they draw their swords, they release the heavy ball of their maces, they turn from mortals into men of metal.
  I somehow sense the change that comes over them as I stand at the gate watching, and even though I have sent them out to battle and it is me they are defending, I have a feeling that something bad and bloody is about to happen. "No, " I whisper, as if I would stop them as they start to run forward, their swords drawn, their axes swinging.
  Sleeping men stumble up with a cry of fright and get a blade in the heart or an axe through the head. There is no warning: they come out of dreams of victory, or dreams of home, into a cold blade and an agonizing death. The dozing sentries jump awake and scream the alarm, silenced by a dagger through the throat. They flail about. One man falls into the flames of the fire and screams in agony, but nobody stops to help him. Our men kick the campfire embers  and some of the tents and the blankets catch fire and the horses rear up and neigh in fear as their fodder blazes up before them. At once the whole camp is awake and running in panic as Anthony's men go through them like silent killers, stabbing men on the ground as they roll over and try to wake, pushing men down as they rise up, slitting an unarmed man's belly, clubbing a man as he reaches for his sword. The army from Kent rolls out of sleep and starts to run. Those who are not brought down grab what they can and dash away. They rouse the men in the streets beside the Tower, and some come running towards the field. Anthony's men turn on them with a roar and charge at them, their swords already red with blood, and the rebels, country boys most of them, turn and run.
  Anthony's men give chase but he calls them back: he won't leave the Tower undefended. A group he sends down to the quayside to capture the Neville ships; the rest head back to the Tower, their voices loud and excited in the coldness of the morning. They shout at each other of a man stabbed in his sleep, of a woman rolling over to be beheaded, or a horse breaking its own neck, rearing from the fire.
  I open the sally-port gate for them. I don't want to greet them, I don't want to see any more, I don't want to hear any more. I go up to my rooms, gather my mother, my girls, and Baby, and bolt our bedroom door in silence, as if I fear my own army. I have heard men tell of many battles in this cousin's war, and they always spoke of heroism, of the courage of men, of the power of their comradeship, of the fierce anger of battle, and of the brotherhood of survival. I have head ballads about great battles, and poems about the beauty of a charge and the grace of the leader. But I did not know that war was nothing more than butchery, as savage and unskilled as sticking a pig in the throat and leaving it to bleed to make the meat tender. I did not know that the style and nobility of the jousting arena had nothing to do with this thrust and stab. Just like killing a screaming piglet for bacon after chasing it round the sty. And I did not know that war thrilled men so: they come home like laughing schoolboys filled with excitement after a prank; buy they have blood on their hands and a smear of something on their cloaks and the smell of smoke in their hair and a terrible ugly excitement in their faces.
  I understand now why they break into convents, force women against their will, defy sanctuary to finish the killing chase. They arouse in themselves a wild vicious hunger more like animals than men. I did not know that war was like this. I feel I have been a fool not to know, since I was raised in a a kingdom at war and am the daughter of a man captured in battle, the widow of a knight, the wife of a merciless soldier. But I know now.

  How incredible true and powerful is that? I was stunned. I had enjoyed the story up to this part, but when I came to this...this is why I read. I want what is real, and good. The truth. Phillipa Gregory did that beautifully, savagely. She is a craftsman of words, words that pierce. To me, this is the best piece of writing in the entire book, although I enjoyed the whole of it. I am looking forward to reading more of her work.

  But it makes me speak so potently, what knowledge did Gregory have that made her speak like this? Tell something so vivid, and real? What changed her understanding that she knew?

  As a writer whose work often includes fighting and warfare, I often wonder about the reality of war. As someone who has not served, I cannot speak from personal experience. I can only imagine through what I've learned, try to open my understanding to the reality of what it is. Because there is always a difference between someone who knows, and someone who only has an idea. I want my work to be real.

  What are your thoughts on this? Please leave a comment below, and tell me what you think.

  ~E. C. Shore

P.S. I just discovered that they are making The White Queen into a miniseries. Looks interesting...but I also discovered that like most medieval shows--there is nudity and sex scenes. Typical. I would love to find a great medieval show that has class.

Monday, August 26, 2013

Those Who Are Real~Peter Jackson, Epic Director, and "Limn the Mask", by Danielle Notaro

  Today I have two reviews for you--the first, as can be guessed, is the bio I've been reading on Peter Jackson. The second is for Limn the Mask, a poetry book I've been reading, (and was quite good!) by Danielle Notaro. Now to get started....

peter jackson director

  You know, just recently I learned that the filming for The Hobbit finished. I finally learned what it felt like to be a fan, knowing that something epic had ended. At least there will be more news. But I can already see myself, telling my kids in the future, "I remember the day I learned the filming for The Hobbit had ended. And I finally knew what it was like to realize that an era had ended." I'm weird, so I likely will say something like that. Whether out of seriousness or just being funny, doesn't matter. Possibly both.

  But with all this news and anticipation, and reading the Ian Pryor's book Peter Jackson: Prince of Splatter to Lord of the Rings, it really made me think of PJ--as a director, and as a person. Because many things surprised me, reading that book. Rest assured I don't take everything an unauthorized book (or even an authorized book, sometimes) as complete truth. This is a person's perspective. But I realized that I actually knew squat about PJ. Realized that his tastes were somewhat different than what I had imagined.

peter jackson lord of the rings

  A few things were really true, and they were things I could just see for myself, watching behind the scenes footage. (Believe me, I actually watch the Making of Lotr for fun, and as a learning curve, as I want to get into the film industry). He's enormously creative, and he operates like an artist--but he's profession-smart. His tastes are for the strange, the far fetched. (And this was one of the things that surprised me) he also did a movie about puppets. Meet the Feebles. Carnage+puppets? That's different. What made me realize how very much out there his tastes can be, is that the author described the movie as slightly pornographic. (I felt like he went back and forth between "slightly" and just "porn", to be honest. No real clear idea). Pornographic puppets? Personally I find that disgusting on a different level. I can see, from a secular+creative point of view, how PJ might think this is just another "far out thing, that just is" that he wanted to try to pull off and might find "fun". And I think that it is also that enormous penchant for expanding creativity which gives him such good things to bring to film. Like what he brought to Lord of the Rings.
peter jackson director

  But do not think that I'm condoning even slightly pornographic material. I'm not. Like I said, I found the idea revolting and stupid. I'm just trying to understand the mindset, the nature that makes people do vastly different things, whatever their beliefs and backgrounds. I have seen what PJ put into Lotr, and the first installment of The Hobbit so far. It takes something real, to portray and make movies that good. That inspiring. And I've heard so many people say what a genuine, kind, understanding person he is.

peter jackson martin freeman
  Reading this book was like getting to see many different aspects. Part of his nature, (from an outside perspective of course, so therefore taken with a grain of salt) part of his professional prowess, his passion, perhaps faults. I found myself wondering what I'd do in certain situations. I do that more and more nowadays. Although I'm still very much a "be your best, no excuses" person, I'm finding more compassion in areas I didn't before. And in others, I feel more judgemental. It's strange, how both change and grow.
  One thing was certain, reading this book. I think PJ is an incredible artist, a magnificent director. I feel like amidst all the studio-controlled "creativity" out there, PJ stands for just being real, as much as possible. I like real people. I like people who tell great stories. There's not enough of them. My understanding of who Jackson is has broadened--and still I like him, respect what he's done.

peter jackson bio

  If you'd like a copy of Ian Pryor's Peter Jackson: From Prince of Splatter to Lord of the Rings, you can find it here on Amazon.

danielle notaro

  Now for my review of Limn the Mask by Danielle Notaro--it was a nice find. Written from both a natural and a modern secular perspective, it had content rich with an eye for beauty, life in its kaliedoscope of varied expression, and wells of feeling. Though I couldn't analyze the meter like some people, (a skill I'm lost on) just the arrangement and choice of words had a pattern and flowing quality that I found very smooth, relaxing, and professional. The content ranges from simple words conveying a single expression or image, to voicing the soul's wondering commentary and statement of things perceived. Genuinely liked many of the poems here.
  One thing I really liked was that although some of the content was frank, it was not written in an explicit way--it expressed without trying to shock, or shove beliefs and emotions in the reader's face. There are too many books out there that feel like they have to be gratuitous to just put themselves out there (sometimes quite obviously doing the equivalent of flipping the finger). Here, I didn't find that at all. It was just simple and sincere. I respect authors like that. And I enjoyed the skill and talent portrayed in these poems! Many were quite beautiful, and I truly enjoyed the read.

limn the mask
Limn the Mask is available here, on Createspace and on Amazon, in paperback and Kindle.

             ~E. C. Shore

Tuesday, August 13, 2013

Fantastic Voyage Interview with Peter Jackson

peter jackson director pic

  As I mentioned recently, I am reading a bio on director Peter Jackson, who directed the epic Lord of the Rings films. I just came across this interview with him from the DGA Quarterly, shared by It was an awesome article, giving good depth to how Jackson sees himself and movie-making, things he's learned, and hopes to do. There were many photos of him that I had never even seen before, and it was great to be able to learn even more about him through this interview.

  Hopefully in the next few days I'll have finished Peter Jackson: From Prince of Splatter to Lord of the Rings by Ian Pryor, and I'll have some more stuff for you! In the meantime, enjoy the interview.

  E. C. Shore

Sunday, August 11, 2013

Keepin' On and Geekin' Out

  You know, there are just those days when you feel like there are so many beautiful things to experience, so many things you want to do--so many things you see other people doing that you think are awesome. And you feel swamped. I feel swamped. Trying to achieve the things one loves is taxing. Thank goodness for endurance.

  Things I'm doing right now include writing (two things at once, my epic, and my romcom--weird combo, right? Oh, and whatever poems/songs etc. after that), learning to play guitar, getting books relevant to topics/genres I'm working on read. Doing reviews. Networking. Working on my business. The works. I sometimes just stop and wonder if these little things add up to what I'm working for.  (Good grief, that was a lot of "work" words). But...well, a simple good thing is that I'm a stubborn mule, and passionate. Stubbornly optimistic. It'd just be nice to get some prove of progress.
  I know a good pick me up. Some geek-off time. I think I'll watch some Dr. Who while getting some writing done. But here is a Youtube StarWars Medley for you, from Lindsey Stirling and Peter Hollens! It was awesome, and so funny. The making of was amusing to. The awesome things people come up with. ;)
  I'm geekin' out about the new Star Wars movie. How 'bout you guys?

  ~E. C. Shore

  P.S. I'm currently reading the bio of Peter Jackson. I'll be reviewing it soon! It's very interesting, with surprises and things i didn't expect. (Well duh--that's the definition of "surprises" right)?

Friday, August 9, 2013

The 360 Degree Heart Poetry Review

The 360 Degree Heart
  Okay guys--another poetry book review! This one I'm really excited about. I enjoyed it so much. It's The 360 Degree Heart by Maja Dezulovic. She wrote with a real feel of experience and personal expression--many I found original, and lyrical. They had a beat. It covers topics from mistaken love, lost feelings, heartbrokenness--without the typical "woe is me". It just had that simple, strong humanness that took things as they came, learned from them (or tried to), and moved on. Kept moving on.
  Part Three is what thrilled me the most though. This portion by far I found the most intriguing, the most original. It was like a mini story, told in free verse, over telephone calls. I felt like I was really following the characters, realizing who they were. It was completely natural, completely believable. So personable. I was thrilled at this unexpected piece! I enjoyed it so thoroughly, I just had to tell Maja how much I enjoyed it.
  I would strongly suggest that you go pick up a copy of The 360 Degree Heart, and after you've read it, I'd love to hear what you have to say about it!

~E. C. Shore

Tuesday, August 6, 2013

Wizard of Oz Collection

  I recently did a post on my reading of the first Wizard of Oz book. Recently while looking at other things on Kindle I found a collection of the books for $.90. How nice is that? So I of course got it. Hopefully I can get through them over the next couple of months. And it'll be interesting to see if any of the books are the source of inspiration for either of the Wizard of Oz movies. Perhaps there's Ruby Slippers in one of the other books, or perhaps the Wizard will reappear in one of them. One of the other books, not one of the Slippers, although that'd be hilarious. I'm looking forward to seeing how they are. I still find it amusing that it took me this long to discover that there was more than one book.
  Here's a link to the collection that I got on Amazon.

  ~E. C. Shore

I also did a review on the first installment of Ellise C. Weaver's The Huntingson Saga, a Christian romance novel. I had mixed feelings, but it was enjoyable. Here is the link

Thursday, July 25, 2013

The Wizard of Oz~A Dash of Whimsy Over the Canvas of Imagination

  It's raining and moody...drips are falling from the eaves, and the dogs are hiding in their houses. Wonderful weather for reading, isn't it? Just the other day I went to the library and found Wizard of Oz. It's been on my list for quite awhile, and finally I endeavored to read it. Little did I know....

  It's a series. How on earth did I not know that before?

wizard of oz landscape scott gustafson
Source: Scott Gustafson, pinterest

  Wizard of Oz, like for most of us, was introduced to me by the movie. It's a timeless favorite, I still watch it, enjoy it. Especially on days when I'm making treats. (And especially when it's autumn). I rebuked myself for taking so long in actually getting to read the book. I remember listening to the audio when I was little, but I don't count that. And I remember so little. The only part I distinctly remember is the part when the lion knocks the hideous spider's head off. Loved that part. It's easy to see that I've always been a lover of action and battle.

vintage wizard of oz picture

  What does a timeless classic teach us? With Wizard of Oz, it was simple--and easily beloved because it was so simple, and fun. It shares a universal truth--often enough what we're really looking for is right in front of us. Life. Home. There is something so precious and timeless about these truths. They will never get old. Because we will always keep searching, up and away, down and over--for the thing that we feel we are looking for. Sometimes it is Out There. But often enough, we just need to go away so we can see what we had--and if we're lucky, return. Dorothy was lucky. And there is also the turth that often we feel like humbugs--fakes. But we are who we make ourselves, as the characters of this book showed so well.

dorothy and toto picture

  Dorothy was a spunky little girl we could relate to. So was the Scarecrow, the Tin Man, the Cowardly Lion. I was thrilled to see how many adventures they had. Finished it in a few hours. (I was surprised that the Slippers were silver, and not ruby--I guess that is something that the movie makers decided to change)!

  A dash of whimsy, a canvas of imagination--that's enough to take anyone over the rainbow, isn't it? If you've read the books, what were your impressions? What did you love?

I am definitely getting the rest.

  Soon, as part of my reviews of the Wizard of Oz series, I will also be doing a commentary/review on the new movie, which I really enjoyed! 

emerald city landscape

E. C. Shore

Friday, July 12, 2013

Why Do We Really Love Him?

epic aragorn photo
  I have just finished reading an article by Quickbeam of TORN ( on the subject of Aragorn's character. It is an excellent personal discussion on what really makes Aragorn the character he is, and a good piece to read (not only for the sake of us Aragorn fans) as something to think about in character development in writing. And of course, I see it also as just more food to the challenge I set for myself--the understanding and constant fight to really see my characters.
  Think about it for a minute. What makes us love characters like Aragorn, or King David (granted, King David is a real person, but you get my meaning)? They're not just "strong characters". They are that, but much, much more. They have terrible burdens. But something always keeps them going. We find that they keep finding just enough strength somewhere within to help them put one foot in front of the other.

  So go read this great piece, and then share what you think!

~E. C. Shore

Monday, June 24, 2013

Paul Simon: A Life

paul simon guitar pic

  I love music. A few years ago, through my parents, I came in contact with the work of Paul Simon. I immediately liked some of his songs, especially some Simon and Garfunkel songs. Most notably, The Boxer. Over the past couple years my appreciation for his music has flamed into all-out devotion. I just love it. I love the lyrics, the poetry of it—the originality of the music. I am a lover of many different things—the world fascinates me to no end. It is always new. And the way Paul Simon blends so many different sounds and just sings to my soul in a way that goes deep, but burns with the fuel of life in all its bigness and beauty. It's safe to say that I think he is the one of the greatest musicians that will ever be. He is a personal music-idol.
paul simon fur hood pic

  But something that irritated me, was that I was having a hard time finding an in-depth bio on him. I wanted to know more. Wanted to know who this person was, what his roots were—not just what I could read in his music. I wanted his history. To know the artist.

  So when I found Paul Simon: ALife, by Marc Eliot, I was beyond thrilled. To say nothing of actually finding it at the library! I just devoured the book. It was so real, so personable, simple. It breathed life into my meager knowledge of the music industry of Paul Simon's (and on-going) time, and for my understanding of the artist himself. It is times when I read bios like this that I feel like they are the fodder for authors looking for ways to figure out their own fictional characters—these are real. And we get a more intimate understanding, which feeds into understanding characters we create. If anyone asked me what book would I suggest for reading up on Paul Simon, I would advise this in a heartbeat. With all the things we love about the artist, and those who were/are in his life, there are those flaws that we know just fills the everyday. Things we don't like, but can understand—others we can't. Some things we can't love them in spite of. Because it is this utter humanness that makes them so special—because it is what they breathe into their art. And that, in turn, is what makes it so big. So larger than life.

paul simon recent picture

  Who can't be touched by BridgeOver Troubled Water? It is a song to sing as a testament of your devotion to another, in a way that is so simple, sincere--sweet. And who doesn't understand the gutting pain of The Boxer? Every human being who has walked the earth is a boxer—they have had their dreams, and have suffered the beatings life throws them. But still humanity remains in the ring. Still going. And there are so many other songs, that are just a wild celebration of life as it is.

  So what is there not to relate to in the words Paul Simon has to share? I have a high mark to strive for in my own music. An incredible example. I have my eye on a gorgeous guitar that has my name all over it, and my fingers can't wait to strum its strings, to breath life into its voice. I can only strive as high as others have done. I have no excuse to not give it my gut-wrenching best, to walk the road of those who have gone before, and are still walking.

  Go and get the book, and tell me what you think! Paul Simon: A Life is available on Amazon.

~ E. C. Shore

famous Paul Simon picture

Wednesday, June 19, 2013

Amber Koneval~Drunk Dialing the Divine

Drunk Dialing the Divine
 This is an introduction to Amber Koneval, writer of Drunk Dialing the Divine.
  Just like many of my fellow writer buddies, I am a Goodreads fan, and recently I met Amber Koneval there. She is a poet and women's fiction writer, with a new poetry book release, “Drunk Dialing the Divine”. (Awesome title, right? I know it certainly would catch my attention)!

As part of her book tour, I agreed to cohost and do an interview. Here it is! And at the end of the post will be a giveaway for her book, so don't forget to enter, and share the news with your friends!

When did you first begin writing? Tell us a little bit about yourself.

AK: I first began writing when a teacher forced me to back in middle school. I hated it then, to be honest. I really didn’t start enjoying it until I decided to take a Creative Writing class on a whim in high school. Figured it would be an easy A. But the teacher was just so passionate and open about the different ways in which poetry could be written, and so encouraging, that I ended up really wanting to be good about it. For a while after that, I wrote basically mimicking other poets that I read. Only recently have I begun to really own my own style and be able to defend myself in my writing. It’s nice.
About myself- I’m the middle child of six. I’m Roman Catholic, and very Irish. My only pet is a royal (also known as ball) python named Seviper. I love cats, though. I write both poetry and fiction, under separate names. I’m about to graduate from college this December, with a double major in English and Religious Studies through the Honors track.
Amber Koneval Drunk Dialing the Divine

What places can we find you at?

Physically? I hang around Denver, Colorado where I live- so the Innisfree Poetry Café, or the Tattered Cover on Colfax for Open Mic Nights.
Electronically? I have a website (, Blog ( and Tumblr ( I’m also on Facebook, Twitter and LinkedIn, as well as having profiles on Poets & Writers, the Colorado Poet’s Center, and plenty of other writing sites.
So when did you begin putting together “Drunk Dialing the Divine”?
I started putting together ‘Drunk Dialing the Divine’ while I was in the middle of shopping a full manuscript of all of my poetry called ‘To My First Love at Midnight’ sometime last May. I ended up realizing that a) a lot of presses were rejecting my manuscript because of the religious poems included and b) I wrote a lot more religious poetry than I thought I did. I realized that I would be better off writing my religious poetry and my autobiographical poetry separate. So I pulled out all of my religious poetry and started seeing how I could put it together. I ended up finding this theme with my earlier religious poetry that surrounded around a sense of anger and confusion- so I decided that my first collection would be about that. It was the starting point of my own faith journey, and so it would be a fitting start for my religious poetry collections.

How would you describe it to a reader?

It’s not ‘common’ inspirational poetry, but it’s not blasphemy either. It’s this in-between kind of collection. If it was a person, I would suppose it would be that kid you know at church who wants to be religious, really does, but just doesn’t have the confidence or the trust in order to put their faith wholly in God- but then goes to a retreat where she realizes that she doesn’t have to give up her doubt in order to have faith. That doubt and anger can, in their own ways, be indicative of a strong relationship with God- if we have the courage and humility to be honest about how we feel
with our Creator. It’s poetry you give to someone who is struggling, but doesn’t want to be patronized or told to just pray it away. It’s a story of the beginning of a true relationship.
Drunk Dialing the Divine

What was the inspiration for it?

There’s a poem in the collection of the same name that I usually cite as the inspiration of the collection as a whole. A friend called me at three a.m. one night, drunk as a skunk- but instead of doing the usual awkward asking for sex or random rambling, he all of the sudden, very clearly, asked me to pray for him. It’s a moment that’s really held me for some time. It’s given me a lot to think about- was this guy blasphemous for daring to speak of God when he was very obviously blasted, or was he holy for having God as the first thing on his mind, even when gone? How do we ourselves treat people who call out for God’s help at their lowest points? Do we scoff at them for being bandwagon Christians, or do we commend them for seeking His grace? I’ve seen plenty of people do the first, and less the second- even to themselves. So many people get so down on themselves for wanting to believe in God but being mad at him, or making a mess of their lives but still wanting to pray. I wanted to explore this idea of struggling in God meaning being completely honest with oneself and with one’s God- it being okay to be angry or lost or confused, as long as it’s dealt with constructively, and in love.

What is the poem most definitive of your work? Most important to you?

Oh, jeez. I’ve written more than four hundred poems over the past couple of years, and I will never be able to answer that question. My work is always changing, just like I am, so there’s no real ‘definitive’ poem. Also, what is ‘most important’ to me changes every month, because I’m in a different emotional state every month. Right now, that poem would be ‘Our Lady of the New Advent’, which is forthcoming in an issue of St. Austin’s Review. I have a deep devotion to Mother Mary, and my reflection poems regarding her and prayers invoking her help are most helpful to me when I really feel lost in my own calling and feel weak as a woman. Focusing on her and her role in salvation history is a source of strength for me, and I need that right now. So that poem is most important to me today. Tomorrow, it will be something else.
Drunk Dialing the Divine

What are the stories, historical or fictional, that inspire you most?

Fairy-tales. I love fairy-tales. I love the way that they are, or can become, applicable to every situation in almost every culture with just a tweak here and there. In my fiction writing, I myself re-tell fairy-tales in order to bring awareness to women’s issues.
I also really enjoy re-tellings or historical fiction regarding Biblical stories (like the Red Tent, or the Bad Girls of the Bible series). A lot of people tell me that those things are campy, but I honestly thing that these stories continue the work that the Bible itself does- bring the revelation of God to His people where they need it, and in a way that becomes understandable in today’s context.

Do you have a pattern for writing that you've formed? Do you like to listen to certain kinds of music while you write? Do certain kinds inspire you?

I bring my little notebook with me everywhere, so that I can write whenever I’m inspired. I tend to write an entire stanza in my head before I’ll put it down on paper, though. But I write in weird places- in class, at concerts, in movie-theatres, during dinner, at Church. I like to catch in-the-moment feelings as much as humanly possible. So I tend not to have any fixed routine that would prevent me from writing the second inspiration hits.

What do you hope to accomplish in the next few years, and in the future?

I hope to publish my next two collections to complete my ‘faith journey in poetry’ pseudo-trilogy. It’s taken a bit of a back burner in regards to my fiction writing at the moment, but once I graduate college here in the next semester I’m going to have plenty of time to finish those up. I really would like to be able to live off of my writing, but that’s not going to happen if I don’t work hard every single day from here on out. If I have to work, though, I want to continue to work for the Church, particularly as a youth minister or sacristan. I love working in a faith environment. It's comfortable and challenging.
What can we expect to see of your writing over the next few years? Anything particular you're working on?
Right now, I’m working on getting my second collection published- it’s a collection of poetry that I wrote while on a missions trip to Kenya in 2010, when I thought I was dying. It’s a continuation of my faith journey- first I had to deal with the anger, then I had to really get outside of myself and my comfort zone to see the bigger picture. I’m also compiling my third collection, which will take the lessons learned through the first two collections and show the continuing struggle to apply those lessons to daily life in devotionals and applying blanket lessons about faith to bizarre situations (that happened to me) that challenged what I thought I knew and my capacity to love and trust.

I really enjoyed getting to know Amber. I suggest that you all visit her website, read her book, and tell me what you think! It's certainly on my list!

E. C. Shore

Friday, June 14, 2013

On the Subject of Magic in Fiction~Longish

Hey guys, just wanted to share a link to an article my friend Longish wrote on the subject of "Magic in Fiction", partially inspired by the article I shared recently, from I found it very good. It can be found here.

  ~E. C. Shore

Thursday, June 13, 2013

These Things Obviously...Take Time

  I have not written in a LONG time. I do apologize for that. I was at a loss for awhile, when it came to my writing posts. And of course, one must not sure what is not coming directly from the heart. But enough of that.

  During my  last few weeks, I've gone on a great trip to San Diego, and just recently opened an Etsy shop, Transcendence Designs. So I have been one busy camper! My writing had been put on hold for awhile, but I've been able to get work going again...with redoing the beginning yet again. But I can honestly say I love this new version. It just feels right.

  I realized, after I had gotten a ways into writing my last draft of the beginning, that I wasn't showing who Alexis really was--what she was doing to keep her family afloat. And I realized how much of a better impact actually showing her plowing those fields and earning extra money by the sweat of her brow would mean to the story. The reader would actually get a feel of how hard and how passionate she is about doing whatever it takes to keep her family from losing their home. And not only that, showing this can also be a reflection of something that comes later--how she fights for a different people. Just by doing simple, but hardworking things. Although they turn into something bigger as the story goes on.

  But don't the big things in life get reflected by the simple, day-to-day things? Don't we see who a person is by the actual work of their hands?

  And another thing--why on earth did it take me six years to get this part of the story in my head?

  Would love to hear your comments and personal stories on THIS universal subject. Leave your comments below!

  ~E. C. Shore

P.S. Just as a piece of excited nerdism, the first teaser trailer for The Desolation of Smaug is here! Here is the link! Needless to say, it is AWESOME.

Sunday, May 26, 2013

Power In Lord of the Rings~Food For Thought

I came across a good article today, on one of my favorite sites, It discussed the nature of the abilities of individual in Lord of the Rings. So many books at there have a gauge for powers, for the power that runs the world, and what we are able to “manipulate”. But Lord of the Rings is different. Something I find closer to real life, and is one of the things that makes Lord of the Rings the best.
Read the article here.

Grey Havens picture

Saturday, May 4, 2013

Shannon Sonneveldt~Puppy Poetry

puppy poetry

Read the last poetry book by Shannon Sonneveldt, Puppy Poetry: The Exhausting, Funny and Sweet Moments that come With Being Owned By Puppies, and enjoyed it very much! It was so cute, and made me remember so many things about my puppies! Especially the poem Tornado. I know my family has felt that way with our boxer, Precious. After her first night I woke up in the morning, went in the kitchen, and there was trash and torn up paper towels ALL OVER THE FLOOR. But of course, she thought it was funny. And Explorers was so cute. I could just picture the puppy going all through the house. I remember my own pups doing that. So adorable!
My Heart Melts was perfectly expressive of our love to our puppies. Certainly one worth inclusion and definitive of the book.
I would certainly suggest this to anyone who is a lover of pups! I'm certain you'll enjoy it!


Saturday, April 27, 2013

Experience Life Through Poetry: Random Life Observations, Parenthood, and Growing Up

   Yesterday I finished reading the second collection of Experience Life Through Poetry, Random Life Observations, Parenthood, and Growing Up. I enjoyed this one even more than the first, especially the first section. It was beautiful, conveying truths, beauties, and sorrow of life. Many were lyrical, and held a simple beauty that I truly enjoyed.

Shannon Sonneveldt

It opened up with World Class Artists, which I found lovely with its subtle, almost lyrical language. It was a nice opening into the book. And as a more Southern girl, I had a natural liking for My Cowboy poem. Heaven knows we women love our beautiful men. And Talk!Talk!Talk! certainly resonates with some of us—I think we can all honestly say we've come across someone who can talk all day but in the end, has nothing to share at all, really. I quite liked After the Fairy Tale Ended, with a good take on dysfunctional families, lost love, and fairy tale projections. Earth's Mistake I could relate to, on many levels—I regret the loss of what has been, although I still hold hope. Man is Earth's curse and blessing. It depends on our choices.
What I thought was really good, though, was Laughter. It spoke with knowing conviction of some people's tendency to laugh everything away, in pretense. Lying to one's self. It's a comedy cover up. I thought the message was well presented.
One that made me laugh was Arrogant. It spoke very plainly:

Always thinking you're
Of the
Never ending proof
To the contrary

No One was very bittersweet and lonely, and the verse about her looking at the stars reminded me of a poem I wrote for myself.
The Truth of the Matter was good, in pointing out how much truth can be misconstrued by rumor, and that we should do our own listening to what is really going on—or even better, mind our own business. Love that little piece of wisdom. Although I DO believe in defending the truth, and seeking it out when necessary.
What About Us spoke about America's growing need to care for itself. I've thought about this for quite awhile. If we drain ourselves caring for everyone else, how will we adequately tend to ourselves? In nature, the mama bear feeds herself first before feeding her cubs. For if she does not have the strength of nourishment, she cannot provide for them. That is true for any guardian. I appreciated that Shannon included this in her collection.
A Calm Cool Night I really enjoyed! It was suspenseful and creepy. I love creepy writing, especially symbolism, our fears as figures. This one, in the figure of Memory, was delightful. Lovely shivers.
I could really relate to Close Your Eyes. Just from this poem alone, I'd think the author and I must be soul sisters. We both see beauty in different ways, especially when we close our eyes and open ourselves to everything that is around us.

But when I close my eyes
I discover another world
I smell new smells
Hear things I've never heard

I'm Not Selfish was showed how much this person could give, but harshly drew the line at the heart.

Because I'm a selfish person
My pride you can't slay
My heart you can't take
And my spirit you can't break

I really liked the end verse, almost like a declaration on a battlefield.

The poems covering family were as nice as those in the first collection. Love Time Two I found really cute, about having twins, with double the fun and expectation, and blessing. I just thought it was so sweet.
Silently I Pray comes from the heart of any good mother striving to do right by her children. Thankful for them, and for the blessing of knowing some of what is good, so that it is a guide to directing children to the best.
Aruba Memories was really fun, and made me think of when my own family went on a vacation.
The Greatest Reward is the sweetest though, I think. I'll let you discover it while reading. ;)

In the third part was in the theme of children and growing up. The first was Close To The Heart, expressing the love everyone has for children's way of bringing joy just by being what they are.
Growing Up made me think of Peter Pan, talking about having tons of different dreams, and saying that if growing up means losing them, then you don't want to grow up.
Expectations really resonated, and spoke truth of what many of us, growing up, feel. The ending line, “Expectations can kill” strikes to the core. I have felt that, although I think it has also taught me great things that I would not trade away. I believe it has made me tougher, and better able to discern what is worth striving for.
I loved List of Some Days. Although not by the same title, I have a list of things I want to do in my life, and I loved reading Shannon's poem. Made me think of all I want to do.
But oh man, I LOVED The Perfect Costume, covering the subject of the idea of women and beauty in modern thinking. I loved the personal feeling and sense of regret and almost loneliness. But there also seemed to be a strength conveyed in the poem.

This collection deserves as space on my shelf, and I enjoyed reading it. I hope you guys will consider checking it out! And prepare to brew a cup of coffee and curl up to read.

You can find Shannon Sonneveldt here:


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Wednesday, April 24, 2013

The Real Story of Peter Pan

I finally finished reading the classic story of Peter Pan, after finding an unabridged version. I finished it by the end of the day, I enjoyed it so much. I have always had a wonder for the story of Peter Pan, through books and stories.

peter pan and hook picture

 I first became familiar with Peter Pan's story watching Hook when I was really little, and it's been a lifetime favorite. Just recently I was able to watch the 2003 version Peter Pan. Both are extremely good adaptions, true to the magic and imagination of childhood.
But reading the story, and thinking about the movies, it made me wonder—exactly what it is that makes me feel, as the reader, that it is a wonderful story? What are the elements that come together to weave this piece of precious magic? Why do we love Peter Pan? Time and again he completely wins over new devoted fans with his cocky self, the pirates, the Lost Boys, the amazing Captain Hook—the fighting to the death. And imagination! The absolute game and joy of it all. For Peter, being Pan in Neverland is being and living an incredible adventure

peter pan and wendy picture

Coming from a reader's point of view, and mixing that with a writer's more analytical (though for me, greatly instinctual) approach, I thought about it deeply. I'm a curious person, especially about the things that make me love them. For boys, at least from what I have been able to see, Peter Pan is the epitome of the “all boy”. He's confident and sure, cocky, skillful—full of life. Girls admire those characters as well, especially in real boys.

wendy heart picture
Their admiration is on a slightly different level, as well as the appreciation of another person's full adventurous spirit, same as anyone else. Even in the book, Peter Pan holds children in awe. Parents in the story only faintly remember him, if at all. (They have my pity). There is a distinct element of the effect of parents and parentage in the story though—a very tangible element. That world of the “grown-ups”, and growing up. What is Peter Pan's meaning and place in all this?

mr and mrs darling picture
Perhaps Pan symbolizes the escape we covet sometimes, as we are afraid of growing up. Some of us, we can confess, are rather mystified at their parents. They were once children. How can they not completely understand us now? (Fortunately, some hold on to their childhood understanding—something I hope to never completely lose, and what little I have I hope to regain...although I claim to be growing increasingly childish, and no one contradicts me).
Considering the theme of Peter's “dislike” of “real mothers”, I thought perhaps it is actually the fear of what they end up turning us into—adults, and therefore something we consider not ourselves—that is the real issue. Mothers have such a strange, strong power of guiding us along this mysterious road called “growing up”. And Peter is well aware of this mysterious, mystical-like quality, whether he actually realizes it in so many words. And as children, we fear becoming what our parents are, losing a piece of ourselves. But what Peter, as the everlasting child, does not see is that there can be a real blessing to it. For there is no greater Adventure than Living, growing up, falling in love, having a family—even with the sorrows that come with its joys.
But who says we must lose our sense of our inner child? That is something than can be held onto, if we choose—sometimes we have to fight for it, but it can be retained.

peter and wendy picture
But the strange thing about Peter, is that he actually needs a mother, despite his utter dislike for real ones. He needs his Wendy. He needs her to “play” taking care of him. He still has that natural desire, but he is unwilling to go the normal route. Wendy, the little mother she is, and captivated by this beautiful, mysterious Peter Pan, is more than willing. There is that innocent, natural attraction, as well as the feminine instinct to care for something that needs looking after.
robin williams peter panPersonally I think Peter Pan is a slightly tragic figure. He has so many joys, but will not allow himself to have the one joy that makes life truly worth living—to live and have a family. What greater blessing is there? But at the same time, to be what he is is to stay true to his nature, his joy. His sense of adventure. 
  This was something I liked about the movies. They present a Pan that is thoroughly in need—in need of real life. In Steven Spielburg's Hook, he falls in love with Wendy's grandchild. He has been drawn in the end by the ultimate adventure. In the course of the movie, when Peter finally remembers his childhood as Pan, he tells Tink, “I remember why I came back. [To the real world] I wanted to be a father.” And that is his Happy Thought. The fact that he is a Daddy

peter and wendy picture

In 2003's Peter Pan, Wendy is a threat to Peter in that like any normal boy, Peter is drawn to a girl. It's the classic dilemma since Adam and Eve. (And I'm not saying this because I'm a woman, I say it because it is the truth of the matter). I have found there have been two common views of womankind/girlkind—the idealized and the demeaned. But since Peter Pan is a testament of innocence and purity, the idealization and mystification towards the girl is a profound element in the story. What do Peter and the Lost Boys do for Wendy when she comes to Neverland? They build a house around her. Their “service” is almost worship, the kind any innocent boy gives. (Whether or not we girls are able to see their “services” as gifts). 
2003 Peter Pan Wendy picture

In 2003's Peter Pan, they build the house around her because their hands are too dirty to carry her. They will not touch something they see as a being of purity with their soiled hands. In life women often are, for some reason, viewed as supposed to be having the higher morality—the greater purity. It's still not something I have been able to analyze the reasons for, myself. But in what I've read, from what men have said, it is true. A lot of men hold that view of women.
In the book Peter and Wendy play parents. Wendy wants it to be real. (Personally I don't blame her. I know I want a big Pan myself). Peter, ever wary of anything real and threatening to his eternal boyishness, wants to always remain as he is, although he wants his Wendy lady to remain. In the book, he is confused at her, but wants to keep her. He wants a lady to take care of and admire him, like any normal boy/man does.
In Hook, Peter finally takes the leap years after meeting Wendy, when he falls in love with her granddaughter. His desire has won out at last, however latent it can be at times. In 2003, he desires/needs Wendy's friendship and admiration. We actually see, better than we have in other adaptions, he's actually beginning to fall in love. He is both drawn and frightened by this, and later, hurt that he is not enough for Wendy. Wendy realizes that she does want to grow up. She wants more. She can't be satisfied with a boy who, as wonderful as he is, will always remain a boy—she will need a man. But she wants Peter.

peter and wendy fairy dance  What I like about the 2003 Peter Pan was that it showed more unapologetically of children's feelings at this stage in their lives—they're beginning to become young adults, beginning to take greater notice of the other gender, beginning to become more curious of the changes they're so mysteriously going through in life, from different directions. Peter is not immune to this. In the book, and in this adaption, he will always remain the boy Peter Pan. In the end, the fact that Wendy does care for him, and still must return home, is all right. It is enough. Wendy goes to where she belongs—Pan will remain where his heart is.
(I will make a note here that I would greatly suggest you consulting the parents guide before you watch Hook or 2003's Peter Pan with your children—especially the latter. It had some content that I was displeased with and wouldn't let children see, and I feel it only right to point that out, considering appropriateness).
2003 peter pan hook picture

Now to come to Hook—that mysterious, exciting, epic figure. I absolutely adored his character as a kid. Still do. But what is he? He is a man of disappointment, of malice. I think the movies expounded better on understanding Captain Hook better than the book. Just the fact that “Peter was so cocky” was not enough for me, to believe that was the sole reason (aside from the crocodile/hand incident) that Captain Hook pursues Pan so obsessively. In the 2003 version, I found something more that I can believe in. Nothing so clear, as much as hinted at—this Captain Hook is very expressive. He understands loneliness. He understands disappointment. Exactly what from, is not known. But his jealousy of what Peter has in the movie, and in the book too—joy, cockiness, freedom of spirit, and Wendy—we get a better glimpse. Perhaps he was in love once. Perhaps he feels bound by this world, although it has incredible blessings. Perhaps he never a belonging as a child. I feel that we really got to know Hook better in this adaption, and Jason Isaacs did an awesome job. In this one, Hook is both funny and dramatic, and we can even feel some sympathy for him. And his end—well done. Go down with good form. Unlike the book, which I was really disappointed with, regarding his end. BOO. Sorry, I like my epic drama.
robin williams hook
As Peter's arch-nemesis, Hook really delivers. Aside from his exciting, dramatic appeal, Hook is everything Peter isn't. He and the pirates represent the rape of the joys of the world—the plundering of it. And they know bitterness. They cannot ever fully have satisfaction. Whereas Peter is the epitome of the lover of Living, of basking in the beauty and joy of the world, as it naturally is. He has his Eden. Captain Hook never will, because he will never let go of his obsession and disappointment, his hateful plundering. His malice. I think there is an element here that hearkens to the theme—the fear of growing up. The fear that in growing up, we will lose something of life. Something precious that is a part of ourselves, and a part of living. And there is, sadly, enormous truth in that. So many of us “grow up” in such a way we take a grayer view of life. 
jason isaacs hook picture
We let its burdens and sorrows crush parts of us that we are not the children we might once have been. I am not trying to emphasize an idealistic view of childhood—I know all too well there are so many people who have had horrible childhoods. What I'm saying here is that at its best, when we are able to hold onto the child-like aspect of ourselves, as children and later as adults, we hold a great part of our essence. Our own beauty and wonder.
  Personally, I wonder if Hook also symbolizes what we might turn into—someone so bitter with what his life has turned out to be, he is a horrible old man... “old, alone, done for”. Perhaps that is his element in the story.

  So we have parents and Hook as the archetype of grownups and the future—and to extent, Wendy is too. She is a call, maybe even the word temptation can be used, to growing up. But she too is still part of the world of childhood, along with the Lost Boys, her brothers, and most of all, Peter Pan.

peter pan and lost boys
With Peter Pan, and to a lesser extent the Lost Boys, we have that symbol of eternal play, of reveling in life. Their part in the story, while serving this archetype, points to something else in the end—the Lost Boys get adopted, because they are lured by the novelty of a mother. A real mother, and real life. Peter Pan—he is himself. The epitome of the free, wild boy in love with the world, and in love with being a boy. Even though, at the same time, he can know much of loneliness, and the desire to have a Wendy.
robin williams hook picture

So what is the story of Peter Pan? I think it is a testament to how big, adventurous, and beautiful life is, in all its different times and places. As children, we have a greater sense of that, when left alone. We make games, and see the world as it is—a wonderment. LIFE is an adventure! There is no greater blessing than to live! To experience its pure joy! To breathe, to move, to shout, to dance—to sing and play. To make friends and go on adventures together, big or little, in your backyard or far away. No matter how old you are. Could we ever ask for more? J.M.Barrie's story is a testament of LIFE.

beautiful landscape picture

It is also what I love about God's gift. It is a promise of joy. So many bad things have happened, and continue to happen, but there will always be beauty out there. It is the nature of the world to remain itself, although always effected by the choices of mankind.
  And what I LOVE about the movie Hook is that it shows the later life at its best—not a departure from childhood, but almost a return—having children of your own. Knowing that joy of life and “childhood world” that children can bring back to the parents. To me, adults are but big children. Except for those who have so completely lost that aspect of themselves. And what a loss it is. Peter Banning, a victorious older Peter Pan in the end, has found his joy. His wife, his love—and his children, his joy. He is not a disappointed old man anymore. He was close to becoming that. As Granny Wendy said in the beginning, “So, Peter—you've become a pirate.” She senses and knows far more than she says. And it is true. But Peter finds himself again. Not in staying in Neverland, but finding himself, and finding what his happiness really is. The joy of having known the best of both worlds—Eternal Childhood, and Life. He regains his love for it. 

hook family picture

Peter Pan's story is all about life, and the beautiful wonder and adventure of it all. Life's adventures are never over. 

So seize the day.

Wendy: “So your adventures are over.”
No. To live would be an awfully big adventure.”
~Peter Banning, Hook

  ~Elora C. S.