The World of Writing Music Artist Feature: Howard Shore


My featured artist today hardly needs an introduction. His unprecedented scores for The Lord of the Rings and The Hobbit are known and loved worldwide by people of all ages for their beautiful themes and epic scale. I present to you: Howard Shore.

About the artist: Born in Canada, Howard Shore started studying music around the age of eight or nine, and by the time he had reached college age, he had learned multiple instruments, played in bands, and was sure he wanted to pursue music professionally. He got into composition soon afterward and started writing film scores, but it was his score for The Lord of the Rings that garnered him the most attention. In addition to scores he has written classical works, including concertos for piano and cello, a piece for organ, and an opera.

Why I recommend him: His scores for the Middle-earth movies are unparalleled in the history of film for their musical complexity and wealth of thematic material. It’s real music. It’s moving and massive in scale, and when someone writes music for one of the most epic books ever written, well, it has to be pretty good.

What I use his music for:

-General playlist music

-Listening through an album start to finish

Favorite Albums:

The Fellowship of the Ring

The Two Towers

The Return of the King

The Hobbit: An Unexpected Journey

The Hobbit: The Desolation of Smaug

The Hobbit: The Battle of the Five Armies

Favorite Tracks:

Concerning Hobbits (The Fellowship of the Ring)

Many Meetings (The Fellowship of the Ring)

The Breaking of the Fellowship (The Fellowship of the Ring)

The Riders of Rohan (The Two Towers)

Theoden King (The Two Towers)

Samwise the Brave (The Two Towers)

The Black Gate Opens (The Return of the King)

The Grey Havens (The Return of the King)

Dreaming of Bag End (The Hobbit: An Unexpected Journey)

Erebor (The Hobbit: An Unexpected Journey)

The Dwarf Lords (The Hobbit: An Unexpected Journey)

The Edge of the Wild (The Hobbit: An Unexpected Journey)

A Very Respectable Hobbit (The Hobbit: An Unexpected Journey)

Feast of Starlight (The Hobbit: The Desolation of Smaug)

Kingsfoil (The Hobbit: The Desolation of Smaug)

Courage and Wisdom (The Hobbit: The Battle of the Five Armies)

Sons of Durin (The Hobbit: The Battle of the Five Armies)

There and Back Again (The Hobbit: The Battle of the Five Armies)


Have you heard any of Howard Shore’s scores? If so, which are your favorites?

Book Review: A Time to Die



Today I am very excited to review Nadine Brandes’ book, A Time to Die. I had my eye on it for quite some time (that cover, though!) and after hearing many good things about it, I decided I had to give it a try.

Synopsis: How would you live if you knew the day you’d die? Parvin Blackwater has wasted her life. At only seventeen, she has one year left according to the Clock by her bedside. In a last-ditch effort to make a difference, she tries to rescue Radicals from the crooked justice system. But when the authorities find out about her illegal activity, they cast her through the Wall — her people’s death sentence. What she finds on the other side about the world, about eternity, and about herself changes Parvin forever and might just save her people. But her Clock is running out.

My thoughts:

The plot was tight and fast paced, and the futuristic elements were very unique without distracting from the plot. There were several surprises where the author did something I truly did not expect her to do. However, there were other things Parvin did not see coming that I saw a mile away.

My favorite character was Parvin’s brother Reid. He was kind, well-behaved, and a good example. Like Tadashi from “Big Hero Six”. Second to him, I liked Hawke. And Skelley Chase. He was one of my favorite characters simply for how he was written (definitely not for who he was). He was interesting, strange, and sometimes you hated him, but he was so himself. I found Parvin to be a nice young lady, though a tad quick-tongued. Her impetuous nature got her into quite a lot of trouble. I didn’t relate to her much—that might just be me, though.

I did not enjoy the end the way I had hoped. The main character *minor spoiler* is not feeling well, *end of spoiler* and I found that it overwhelmed the plot at the end for me. However, that’s just what comes sometimes from reading books in first person present tense. There were a couple graphic descriptions, for the weak of stomach, but nothing that felt assaulting.

One thing I really appreciate is the author’s voice. It’s clear, it doesn’t tangle you in too much description or too little, and it stays out of the way of the story. I think for that alone I would enjoy reading anything written by Nadine Brandes.

All in all, I greatly enjoyed the book, and I am looking forward to reading the sequel.



A Peek Into My Story Planning Process

A Peek Into My Story Planning Process

As many of you know, my book Crowning Heaven is currently out to the first round of beta readers. What most of you probably don’t know is that this is (was) my first real writing break in several years…the first time since 2010 that I haven’t had planned out which story to write next. I was planning to enjoy that break for at least a month, possibly two. If I felt like dabbling a little with other stories, so be it, but I wasn’t really going to commit.

That lasted a full fifteen days.

An inkling of an idea, a song, and a classy-looking notebook later, I am over 2,000 words into my next epic.

So, since my head is full of story planning anyway, I thought this would be the perfect time to give you a little snapshot of what goes on in my head when I begin a new story.


Pray—I love new stories, and I am always thinking of them. While this can be a good thing (never a lack of things to work on!) it also presents a challenge: is this something the Lord is laying on my heart, or am I just doing this for myself?

Make a Pinterest board—Most of you are probably better at this than I am. I usually just browse boards in my general genre (fantasy, dystopian, or in the time period if it’s historical) and pin any picture, setting, quote, or actor that catches my eye. Even if I don’t end up using it, it all helps make up the general impression I need in my own head.

Cast characters—For me this is crucial. I’m visual, and a face is key to understanding who I am working with.

Create a story playlist—For my current story, there is a lot of opera. For Crowning Heaven I used a lot of movie scores and Thomas Bergersen.

Collect ideas—I start a notebook or a Word document where I put any random ideas, snippets of dialogue that come to mind, or fragments of outline.

Start writing—I usually start writing as soon as I can. For me, to wait is to lose very precious inspiration that comes with the start of a book. If I wait too long I overthink it and the story goes nowhere.

Oftentimes I purposely don’t plan too far ahead in my story. Yes, I already have a faint inkling of how the end will go, and I definitely know some major plot points that are going to take place, but I enjoy having a great deal of unknown ahead of me.


What is your process when starting a story? I would love to hear how you do it!