Friday, March 25, 2016

My Top Six Favorite Composers

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Mae Govannen!  (Well-met, to those of you who have not read The Lord of the Rings!  :)

Speaking of LOTR, though, puts me in mind of film score, the subject of this post today.  
I listen to a lot of film score and so does most of the other members of my family.  If you happened to walk into our house during clean up time, it would sound like the climax of a very emotional drama, or possibly an epic battle.  (Those crusty dishes never go down without a fight, after all.)
I figured it's probably about time I did a list of my favorite film score composers- and I've got a lot.  So I'd probably better stop rambling on and just get to the good stuff!

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My number one spot is kind of tied between James Horner and John Williams.  They both write such wonderful music!  But in the end, James Horner is the one who writes the music that I hear in my heart, but have no skill to put on paper.  The chord progressions he uses and the semi-celtic melodies that always seem to occur seem like home to me.  
Horner was one of the few famous people I actually had an honest desire to meet in person, just to give them my appreciation.  My list is of course smaller now after his passing, but I've still got a few left.  

My favorite piece:  The Princess Pleads for Wallace's Life  (Braveheart)

Other beautiful pieces:  Main Titles:  The Land Before Time,  Theme from the Pelican Brief, Rooftop Kiss (The Amazing Spider Man)



And since he did't get the number one spot, he must have number two. This modern-day classical genius has probably influenced every other film score composer of the past few generations.  Exciting, beautiful, and intelligent, Williams' songs have a distinct style that sets them apart from any other artists'. 

My favorite piece:  Anakin's Betrayal  (Star Wars Episode III)

Other beautiful pieces:  You Are the Pan (Hook), Hatching Baby Raptor (Jurassic Park), Theme from Always



Although I cannot help but try to crack jokes about his last name ("Alexander Diplodocus"), Alexandre Desplat's works have a kind of serene magic to them that is unique.  Though influenced by John Williams very much, he has developed his own style, and I believe he will continue to be one of the best composers of this age.

My favorite piece:  Girl With the Pearl Earring (from Girl with the Pearl Earring)

Other beautiful pieces:  Lily's Theme (Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows), The Master is Painting (Girl With the Pearl Earring), River Waltz (The Painted Veil)



Thomas Newman's scores have a kind of depth to them that makes my bones vibrate.  Every time I listen to one of his more emotional songs, I find my creativity soaring.

My favorite piece:  Whisper of a Thrill  (Meet Joe Black)

Other beautiful pieces:  Cathedral (Road to Perdition), Define Dancing (WALL.E), Just the Feller (Road to Perdition)



I have to admit, I had a very difficult to decide whether I should put James Newton Howard as number 4 or number 5.  He and Thomas Newman have very similar styles, with subtle details to set them apart.  Regardless of his standing on this list, Newton Howard writes beautiful and intriguing music with may different colors.

My favorite piece:  Reflections of Elijah  (Unbreakable)

Other beautiful pieces:  Aurora in Fairyland (Maleficent), Fairy Dance (Peter Pan), Tinker Bell (Peter Pan)



Lovely piano melodies are featured prominently in many of Aaron Zigman's pieces.  He composed the score for one of the most iconic romance films of this age, The Notebook.

My favorite piece:  Flight of Magorium (Mr. Magorium's Wonder Emporium)

Other beautiful pieces:  Main Title (The Notebook),  On  the Lake (The Notebook), Main Titles (Bride to Terebithia)

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And that concludes my list for today!  What are some of your favorite composers and soundtracks?  Let me know in the comments below.  I'd love to hear your thoughts!

-Emmarayn Redding

(DISCLAIMER:  I do not own any of the songs contained within this post.  Credit goes to the copyright owners.)

Tuesday, March 22, 2016

"That's Just Plane Wrong!": A Lego Stop Motion Short by My Brother

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Hey, there readers!  Greetings and salutations.  :D
This morning my ten-year-old bother Eli' finished up a Lego stop-motion short he's been working on for the past few days.  He's really psyched about it, and I am very proud of him.  I wanted to share it here with all of you- it's worth a watch, especially if you like dark humor.  XD  Frankly, I'm not sure how a boy of his age comes up with this stuff... it must be because he's a boy.  

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That's Just Plane Wrong

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Congratulations, Eli'!  I'm so happy for you.  Well done!  

-Emmarayn Redding

Thursday, March 17, 2016

And the Winner Is... [drum roll]

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... Sarah of Dreams and Dragons, correctly guessing that the Madman's riddle described The Moon!
Congratulations Sarah!  Your book will be shipped to you on the day of its release, which is soon to be announced.

Thanks so much to all of you who participated in the contest.  You all did a wonderful job.  And to those of you who did not- thanks for being here anyway, to watch the fun.  Your support is very important to me.  ^_^

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-Emmarayn Redding

(Image taken from the Public Domain)

Wednesday, March 16, 2016

Cover Reveal and Riddle Solving Contest! The Madman of Elkriahl and Other Fairy Tales

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It's here!  I am proud to reveal to you the official cover of The Madman of Elkriahl and Other Fairy Tales!

Isn't it beee-oo-tiful?  XD

I want to give a big thank you to Hannah Williams, who did a wonderful job with this front piece.  Also to my dad, who put together the title text and designed the spine and back cover.  I couldn't have done this without you two! Well done.  

Victory is not far away!  The release date is just around the corner.  But before I announce that, I wish to bring to you a special opportunity... The Riddle Solving Contest!

Those who wish to enter this contest will have the chance to win a free copy of the book as soon as it is released!
The rules are quite simple:

1)  Take a look at the riddle below and do your best to solve it
2)  Post this cover on your blog and tell your friends.  If you have a Facebook page or other social media outlet, I'd love to see it there too!
3)  Email me with your answer to the riddle, your mailing address, and a link to your blog post and wherever else you might have shared the cover.  My address is
4)  The first person to send me the correct answer will receive a free, autographed copy of the book!

And that's that.   ^_^   So without further ado, I give you... The Madman's Riddle.

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Silver thread

rarely blue

sometimes red,

always true

See me new

dressed in black

my beauties

hidden from you

See me old

white as wool

when the night

has made me full

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Good luck to you!  I look forward to seeing your answers.

-Emmarayn Redding

Tuesday, March 15, 2016

Top 6 Favorite Movie Scenes

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In my experience, there are four types of movies- 1)The kind that you can't believe you just wasted precious minutes of your life on, 2)The so-so flicks that you enjoyed, but probably wouldn't watch again, and 3) The classics, which you love and will share with your future children, and 4)  The awesome strokes of genius that JUST, NEVER, GET, OLD.

The following scenes are taken from movies just like that. They can range from comical, to emotional, to triumphant, or just plain intriguing.   Spoilers ahead, for any of you who are unfortunate enough not to have seen these works of art!

So, grab your popcorn and turn out the lights- for now, we begin.

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Ever After:
Carrying the Prince

This adaptation of the Cinderella puts a unique twist on the story.  In this scene, Danielle d'Barbaraque (the Cinderella) shows her cleverness by saving herself and the prince from a band of gypsies.


Pride and Prejudice
Mr. Collin's Proposal

 The 2005 adaptation of Jane Austen's classic novel is my favorite of all I have seen. This scene cracks me up every time.  XD


The Count of Monte Cristo:
Final Duel

This fascinatig tale of revenge differs greatly from the book, but I love it just the same.  This scene is by far my favorite- when Edmond Dantes finally faces off against his old enemy and former friend, Fernand Mondego.
I couldn't find a full version of the scene without any extra add-ons by the maker of the video.  So here is the climax of the fight for your enjoyment.


Pride and Prejudice:
Mr. Darcy's Proposal

Ah yes, yet another proposal scene from Pride and Prejudice. In this scene, Elizabeth Bennet has just found out that her elder sister's happiness with her true love was taken away because of her unfit social standing.  As she attempts to come to terms with this i(njustice, the very man responsible for it comes to her with the last request she would have ever expected.


The Princess Bride:
The Duel

This movie is one of those movies that you're bound to see at some point in your life, unless you live in a country where television is hard to come by.
In this scene, the mysterious masked man enters a duel to the death with Inigo Montoya, the (almost) finest swordsman in all the world.


The Man from Snowy River:
Jim's Ride

In this coming of age movie, young Jim strives to prove his worth as a man after the tragic death of his father.  This climactic scene finds him on a desperate ride to recapture the Colt of Old Regret, an extraordinarily valuable stallion.  When all hope seems lost, Jim proves that he's got more to him than meets the eye.

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What do you think?  Have you seen any of these great movies?  What are some of your favorite scenes of all time?  Let me know in the comments!  I'd love to hear your thoughts.


Tune in tomorrow for the cover reveal of my new book, The Madman of Elkriahl and Other Fairy Tales, as well as a chance to win a free copy of the book upon its release!

-Emmarayn Redding

(DISCLAIMER:  All credit for these scenes goes to the copyright owners. No copyright infringement intended.   This has been posted for entertainment purposes only.)

Wednesday, March 9, 2016

Jekyll and Hyde: A Different Look

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For a long time, I've wanted to write my own take on The Strange Case of Dr. Jekyll and Mr. HydeCurrently, I'm too wrapped up in my own stories to take the time for a full novel, but I was taken by the inspiration for this "excerpt from a novel I may someday write". 
As a preface, I will say that for this adaptation, I have taken elements from the original novella, as well as from the musical version and my own imagination in order to create a (hopefully) fresh look at this classic story.
So, without further ado, I give you my exploration of the Jekyll and Hyde story.
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His heart thudding, Utterson stopped before the front steps, feeling a sweat gather on his brow. The large townhouse seemed to tower over him, its normally cheerful brick walls looming like an ominous warning. There was a deep sense of wrongness about this whole situation that made his heart within him feel cold and withered.
Swallowing, Utterson shook his head and clenched his fists in resolve. Enough of this ludicrous fear and futile fretting. What good would it do him to turn back now, when his friend needed him most? After all these months of hounding Jekyll for answers, would he really turn away now that he had received a genuine plea for help? And what of Elena? Could he go home now and tell his sister that he had been too much a coward to help her fiance? Never!
Utterson closed his eyes and breathed deeply. Steeling his nerves, he marched firmly up the steps and opened the door, not even bothering to knock. He knew for a fact that Poole had not been called to work for more than a week.
“Henry, I've come.”
Silence. Not a sound greeted him as he stepped into the foyer. All around him, darkness hung like a shroud over the once lively household. A film of dust lay over the dark wooden floors, and the portraits on the wall hung crooked. The walls of the hallway leading to the sitting room were stained with muddy hand prints and what looked like- to Utterson's horror- blood.
“Henry?” he called again, his own voice sounding strangely panicked in his ears. Cursing his lack of control, Utterson pushed himself further into the house, dreading what he might find.
The entire house was in disarray. Papers were scattered everywhere, with messy, fragmented writings scrawled across in no particular order. Moldy food sat on the table, and a glass goblet had been upset and never cleaned. The wine lay in a dried puddle on the floor. Utterson quickened his pace, desperate now to find his friend.
“Answer me, Henry! Where are you?”
He reached the library, the big oak doors shut tightly. Praying they would not be locked, Utterson tried the handles. To his immense relief, the doors opened. Forcing himself to stay calm, he pushed into the library, preparing himself for the worst.
A fire crackled on the hearth, casting flickering shadows against the tall shelves.  A man sat sprawled across the armchair before the fire, and Utterson felt relief wash over him.
“Henry, thank God!” he breathed, coming closer. But his heart skipped a beat as the figure rose and turned to face him.
His form was like Henry's, and he was wearing Henry's robe, but it was not him. This man was pale, and his dark hair hung around his face like a hood. Though in the right light he might have been called handsome, to Utterson he seemed almost deformed by some innate wickedness radiating forth from him. In his eyes there was a cruel and desperate light.
“You... I know who you are!” Utterson whispered, his voice laced with contempt.
The figure tilted his head backward, looking down his nose at the lawyer.
“Do you, now?” he asked in amusement. “And just who am I, do you suppose?”
“You are Edward Hyde, wanted murderer and betrayer of my dearest friend.”
Hyde grimaced, then laughed. “Is that what you think? Ah, you hurt me, James. A murderer I may be: but I have never betrayed Henry Jekyll. Not once.”
Smirking, Hyde picked up a poker and stirred the fire. Utterson swallowed, eyeing the sharp utensil glinting in the light. Hyde's use of his first name unsettled him more than he cared to admit. He forced himself to breath calmly. It wouldn't do if he allowed himself to become overwrought. Was this not the opportunity he had been waiting for all this time? Here was the man himself, standing before him.
“If you were the loyal friend to Henry that you claim to be, you would not affect him as you do. For weeks I have watched him agonize over your actions, pouring money and time into covering up your misdeeds, risking his position and his relationships all for your sake. I'm no fool, Hyde. I see what's happening. I've guessed your secret!”
Hyde stiffened momentarily, and his fingers twitched. “Have you? Tell me, I'm curious! What is my secret?”
Seeing the man's barely perceptible discomfort, Utterson felt the briefest moment of pleasure. Matching Hyde's smirk, he shook his head. “Oh, come now, it's not that hard. I see your resemblance to him- almost the same man, at first glance. My guess is you're a close relative of his- possibly a brother- illegitimate, of course. The result of some indiscretion on his father's part, no doubt. Now you've come to extort him in exchange for silence on his family's disgrace.”
Incredibly, Hyde seemed rather relieved by this conclusion. He shrugged in the most unperturbed way and left the poker leaning against the fireplace, moving across the room to lean on the lab table.
Utterson squinted. Was it his imagination, or had he detected a slight limp in Hyde's gait?
“Oh, James... if that's true, then why bother your head about this? Henry knows full well that the only way out of blackmail is to tell the truth. He's perfectly capable of taking care of himself you know.”
“Obviously not- this has gone on far enough. Henry called me here today asking for help, and I intend to give it wholeheartedly.”
As soon as the words left Utterson's lips, Hyde's eyes snapped up. “He called you? Then you have it!” He advanced on Utterson, who jerked back in spite of himself.
“I must admit, I didn't expect it to be you. I thought it might be that fool butler. But no, I suppose you are his friend. Well, be quick about it then! Give me the formula!”
The frenzied look snapping and crackling in Hyde's eyes set Utterson's blood pounding in his veins. Contempt and anger getting the best of him at last, Utterson drew himself up to his full height, looking down at the man by a full inch.
“Not until you tell me what you have done to Henry Jekyll,” he stated calmly, his voice as even and cold as a steel blade.
Hyde's eyes widened. “What have I done to him?” he half shrieked, half laughed. “Wrong question, man! What has he done to me?”
Casting off the dressing robe, Hyde held his arms wide, revealing a white shirt stained with blood. Utterson felt his own blood drain from his face.
Hyde cackled, tears gleaming in his crazed eyes. “You know, your friend isn't nearly so perfect as you believe him to be! But if you care for him at all, you'll give me that formula now.”
Utterson's lip curled. “Never. You're not getting anything from him.”
Before he had a chance to put up a hand to defend himself, Hyde grabbed him by the collar, shaking him roughly.
“Drat you, James, give me the formula! Henry told you to bring it here! He asked you to trust him- can't you do that just this once? Give me the formula! His life depends on it!”
Something in the desperation of Hyde's tone caught Utterson's attention. The man that stood before him was a fiend and a murderer yes, but somehow his concern for Jekyll seemed genuine.
Releasing Utterson's collar, Hyde threw his hands in the air and backed away, glowering at him under dark brows. His voice trembled in a tremendous effort for control. “Please. If you have any regard for Henry Jekyll at all, give me the formula, right now. If you do, I promise to give you the truth.”
Utterson blinked, assessing him. Slowly reaching into his pocket, he pulled out the formula, sparkling green in the crystal vial.
Hyde seized it in claw-like fingers and bounded toward the lab table. Deftly, he gathered several other vials and poured their contents together into a metal bowl and started a flame beneath it.
Utterson frowned, confused. “What is this? What in Heaven's name are you doing?”
“You wanted the truth didn't you?” Hyde snapped, not taking his eyes from the concoction. Tiny bubbles surged to the surface, and he quickly turned off the flame. Fanning a hand over the bowl, he grabbed a syringe and drew out a full dose of the concoction.
Raising his eyes to Uttereson, he tilted his chin and sneered. “Well, here you are, then. The ugly truth. Be careful what you wish for.”
So saying, he stabbed the needle into his arm, grimacing in pain. The syringe clattered to the floor, and he groaned. Convulsing, he clutched the table for support. Coughs wracked his body.
Utterson watched in horror as Hyde collapsed to the ground, writhing and groaning like a dying animal through clenched teeth.
Then suddenly, his voice changed. It rose in pitch, now a low tenor. The cries became less animal-like more sane, more human. With one last shudder, he relaxed and was still.
Utterson hardly dared to move. Then, slowly, Hyde raised his face to him--
--but it wasn't Hyde.
It was Henry Jekyll.
Utterson fell to his knees.
“James?” Henry murmured. Regret and shame twisted his agonized face. “Good grief, he showed you, didn't he?”
With trembling arms, Henry pushed himself up to his knees, moving slowly and carefully. His shoulders sagged, and he wore a look of utter defeat.
Utterson watched him, frozen in shock. Words stuck in his throat, and he shook his head in disbelief.
Henry gathered his loose hair and tied it behind his neck, seemingly at a loss for words as well. At last, he sighed.
“Well, now you know, my friend. I cannot hide any more...” he glanced up at Utterson and noted his deathly pallor. Concern flared up in his eyes, and he rose and held out his hand.
“Good heavens, James- are you alright?”
Utterson stumbled backward before he could stop himself. His mind rebelled against his eyes; he saw Henry Jekyll, but his intellect screamed that it was Hyde, it had to be! Had the abominable murderer not stood before him but thirty seconds ago?
The moment of revulsion did not escape Henry's eyes. He stopped, pain etched on his face. He slowly held up his hands in a disarming gesture.
“It's alright,” he murmured pleadingly. “It's me, truly. I'm you're friend- you need never fear me...”
Utterson shook his head quickly, straightening his jacket and waving his hand dismissively. “Nonsense-” he managed to choke out, “not afraid, Heavens, no!” the pathetic attempt at nonchalance left him strangely close to laughter, despite the nightmarish circumstance.
“But you are afraid,” Henry said sadly. “I knew you would be. I tried to warn you... even as Hyde, I tried to warn you.”
“Afraid! I am horrified!” Utterson scoffed. He shook his head and rubbed his temples. “Forgive me, Henry. I don't mean to be harsh. Please, help me understand. What have I seen? Who are you? What's happened to you?”
Henry was silent, refusing to meet his eyes. At last, he stirred. “It began several months ago,” he said haltingly. “I was conducting a series of experiments attempting to study the dual nature of man. The side that desires goodness and honor, and the side that craves sinful pleasure.”
He rubbed his face and slouched down into an armchair. Utterson eased himself down into the seat opposite.
“I was making progress too, wonderful progress! Bit by bit I was uncovering the secrets of the inner workings of the human heart. I wanted to create a formula that would effectively suppress the wickedness inside, and allow the inner goodness to shine through. One night, I was certain that I had it. Every ingredient, every process through which I put the formula, was perfect.”
Even now, Utterson could hear the joy and passion in Henry's voice. For a moment, the old Jekyll showed through- young and free and full of dreams.
And then that joy faded as he continued the tale.
“But I was mistaken. So gravely mistaken,” he sighed. “I was impatient, and desperate to test the formula, and I thought, what better subject than myself? So I did it. Alone in this very study, I infused myself with this blasted formula, and thus my sorrows began.”
Suddenly restless, Henry jumped out of the chair and began to pace, growing more agitated by the second. “Somehow the formula went wrong. Instead of suppressing my darker nature, it freed it! I suddenly found myself without inhibitions, without conscience. Instantly, I was consumed by the desire for all forbidden things. I saw no reason why I should hold back, and so I went out and indulged- in everything I could imagine! That night, I felt as I had never felt before, and I knew I needed a new name. I called myself Edward Hyde.”
All the energy seemed to drain from him, and he seemed years older. “And there you have it- the story of my greatest shame and guilt.”
Utterson swallowed. He began to understand. He could not claim to know science, and in no way could he conceive how this disaster had happened, but at least he now knew the facts. As long as he had facts, Utterson knew he could survive. Rising up, Utterson approached Henry cautiously.
“Henry... it isn't your fault. There was no way you could have known what would happen.”
“Don't you understand, it is my fault!” Henry whirled on him sharply. “I am to blame! It wasn't just one night! Didn't you hear me? I indulged. I found enjoyment in that freedom as Hyde. Or at least, what I thought was freedom. Only now I have come to understand- wehave come to understand- that this wretched life is bondage. We are enthralled to our desires and passions and wickedness. There is no freedom in sin, there is only slavery.”
“But isn't it Hyde's doing? Is it not his fantasies that you fulfill as him?” Utterson asked, hoping it was only Henry's guilt speaking.
But Henry shook his head in anguish. “No, James. I once thought so too- but I know now it is a lie. We call ourselves different names, but... deep down, Hyde is me. All he has ever done is the things I have considered myself, in my darkest moments. I would never act on them because I know right from wrong. But as Hyde, I have no such qualms. He is the worst of me, that's all there is to it.”
Silence fell on the room, both men lost for words. Utterson hardly knew what to think, let alone what to do.
Turning his back on Utterson, Henry crossed the room and gazed out the window. “Do you understand now why I pushed you away? Why I pushed Elena away?”
Utterson felt a sudden lump in his throat. What would he tell Elena? He had sworn to her that he would save Henry for her... but now? Impossible, it seemed.
As if reading Utterson's thoughts, Henry turned. “Elena must know nothing of this, I beg you. If she knew, she would come to me, and that must never happen. If I saw her again in all of her beauty, I am sure that Hyde would surface, and I-” he stopped and clapped a hand over his mouth, eyes wide in horror. “I can't bear to think what might happen. Don't let her come to me, James. Keep her safe, please! Keep her away.”
Utterson nodded. “Of course. For her sake and yours, she will not know of this. I swear it.”
Henry nodded, his relief evident. “Thank you. Thank you.”
He sank down to the floor and put his head in his hands.
“She was right, you know,” he murmured. “I always disagreed with her, but I see now that she was right. There is no inherent goodness in man. Goodness and morality is a learned thing, given to us only by the grace of God. Underneath, we are but wretched fiends who can only dream of righteousness.”
He lay his head back, and Utterson's heart ached with pity.
“All I can do now is beg the Lord for forgiveness. I have exhausted all my efforts. I don't know what to do. The formula is running out, and after it has gone, I know that Hyde will win. Only God can save me now.”
Utterson nodded. “Then in God's name, let it be so. I won't rest, Henry. I will do all that I can, you have my word.”
Henry smiled tearfully. “I know you will. Now go, and send Elena my love.”
“I will.”
Reluctantly, Utterson tore himself away, shutting the doors tight behind him. Ah! Elena... his poor sister. What was to be done now?
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-Emmarayn Redding

(DISClAIMER:  Picture does not belong to me.  It was pulled from a random Google Search.  All credit goes to the photographer/artist.)