Tolkien 5 Star Review

I just came back from watching the movie Tolkien. On the way to the theater my husband and I were listening to the radio. Someone came on air with a review that pretty much knocked the movie out of the water. I was ready to say to my husband “Well that’s it then,” and suggest we turn around and go home.

That radio review was not the first negative review I’ve heard or read about the movie either. Unfortunately, I’m assuming many people will listen to those reviews and not bother to see the movie.

How sad.


Being a filmmaker, I have a differing opinion. I like to approach a movie with an open mind because nine times out of ten, I differ in opinion from the critics. Well, it happened again.
I found this movie expertly produced. The casting, the costuming, the sets were just beautiful. The reenactment of life in the trenches during WWI was emotive. From what I’ve read about Tolkien, and how the war affected him and his writing, the story was spot on. There was much more to the man than an hour and 12 minutes can cover. But for an introduction, Tolkien did a really good job of allowing us to see a part of his life.

As a fantasy author, the movie touched home. I think that perhaps, judging from the critics, one must almost be a fantasy author to understand.

We see J.R.R. Tolkien’s childhood and the heartbreaks he experienced, all a part of who he was and how he let himself slip into another world.

The movie dramatizes the creation of the languages he invented which he used in his fantasy novels later in life.

In the appendices to Lord of the Rings Extended Version there is a documentary on J.R.R. Tolkien which tells of his deep depression during one of the most brutal wars in history, and how after the war he coped with the death of his close friends through his writing and the magic of a fantasy world.

J.R.R. Tolkien was a passionate man who saw the world in more than one dimension, something that science fiction and fantasy authors do on a daily basis, but which is uncommon for those who don’t appreciate or understand the genre.

If I were to sum up the movie in one word, that word would be “sensitive”.
I was brought to tears in a few places and I think those who have the sensitivity of an artist will enjoy the film. It’s no Lord of the Rings, no. Do not expect it to be. This is a story about a compassionate man with revolutionary ideas concerning the world around him, and his journey to tell the tale of evil and the fight for survival which often can only be heard through parables.

Perhaps the motion picture world of glamor, glitter and superheroes cannot slow itself down enough to breathe in a quiet and compassionate telling of a man who addressed so many wrongs in this world. But I would hope others would take the time.

You who read my blog know that I’m a fantasy story advocate. Not only do I read and write fantasy, I encourage the indulgence of it. Why? Because we were given imaginations to cushion us from the cruelties of this world. Not an escape, my friends, but an open window that lets us breath in some fresh air!

(FYI…for Christians who complain that not enough of Tolkien’s Christianity came through in the film, if you look closely you will see a crucified Jesus on the battlefield. I don’t think much more than that needs to be said.)





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Why Fantasy?

Why love fantasy stories?


I have heard many times from people I know that they just don’t read fantasy and sometimes I wonder why not.

Perhaps to concentrate on matters at hand, the political arena, or science, or some form of ‘reality’. Perhaps a hesitation to release the imagination, fearful that some insane journey would take them far away from the here and now when their time is best utilized for matters at hand.

Those who know me know I am an advocate for the creative, for the far fetched. For lands and times beyond. I do not disguise my eagerness to day dream any more. Yes I was told at a young age it was wrong. But now I understand perfectly what C.S. Lewis meant when he said “someday  you will be old enough to read fairy tales again.”

“Imagination is more important than knowledge. For knowledge is limited to all we know and understand, while imagination embraces the entire world, and all there ever will be to know and understand.” ― Michael Scott, The Warlock

I appreciate the dedication to the gaining of knowledge. History, science, and other academics are certainly subjects we all should pursue.

But in the defense of science fiction and fantasy, I have to stand for the reality that seeps its way into fictional stories. Those golden nuggets that seal themselves into our soul and shape us into the people we are.

“Fantasy is silver and scarlet, indigo and azure, obsidian veined with gold and lapis lazuli. Reality is plywood and plastic, done up in mud brown and olive drab. Fantasy tastes of habaneros and honey, cinnamon and cloves, rare red meat and wines as sweet as summer. Reality is beans and tofu, and ashes at the end.” ― George R.R. Martin


Often there are truths hidden in a good piece of fictional literature that just cannot be told any other way. Ancient culture used spiritual truths in parables or fables which were meant to impart wisdom.

It wasn’t just about the story, but more about what the story told.

When I was little, we were always taught to ‘look for the moral of the story’ which may or may not be so obvious, which may prompt the reader to think beyond the words.

A fantasy tale, such as Tolkien’s Lord of the Rings, or Jordan’s Wheel of Time, or C.S. Lewis’ Narnia series, leave heartfelt truths the reader can chew on and digest long after the book is set back on the shelf. I think that is why true science fiction and fantasy enthusiasts love the genre.

So much wealth to ponder!


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Official Trailer for Ian’s Realm

Filming was such fun and we have such a dynamite team. Four days in the mountains with actors Robert Miano, Jeff Stillwell, Manny Colin, Bruce Weech, John Henry Whitaker, Kandace Caine. Our fantastic director Chris Love and our camera crew with Tylor Jones. Couldn’t ask for better company! Here’s a teaser. More to come!


When Ian Wilson travels through a portal to another world looking for his father he is caught in a cross fire between dragon worshipers and those warring to rid their world of evil. To learn more about our upcoming short film Ian’s Realm Proof of Concept, visit
Adapted from the novels Ian’s Realm Saga by D.L. Gardner
Screenplay by D.L. Gardner
Directed by Chris Love
Cinematography by Tylor Jones

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Abbi’s Turn

October 27, 2018
D.L. Gardner
I’ve been listening to you, my fans, concerning Ian’s Realm. you’ve read the trilogy and many of you have commented on wanting to know more about Ian’s adventures in the Realm. Sadly, Diary of a Conjurer happens 8 years later. What was going on with Ian and Abbi before that?

Well, it’s writing time again.

Having filmed a short proof of concept film for Ian’s Realm this month, putting faces to the characters has inspired me to continue Ian and Abbi’s story. So I’ve already begun the premise of the next adventure they take.


Kandace Caine (Abbi) and Jeff Stillwell (Ian) on set of Ian’s Realm Oct 2018

All is not well in the Realm, nor in the real world for any of them. Abbi’s begun a difficult nursing career. Elisa gets some tragic news that is difficult for a girl her age to handle, and Ian struggles with fitting into reality. It’s no wonder that the magic of Ian’s shield alters their course. But what a course it turns into!
I’ll be writing as often as possible, juggling my time with getting this fundraiser to completion (please take a look at our page. We need funds for post production and would really appreciate your help even if it’s the $20 you’ll need for the password to view the completed short film).

While you wait for this story (and I hope it doesn’t take too long. Walks in the woods are again shaping the tale) take a look at all the neat little behind the scenes videos we have on our FB page and on the updates of our Seed and Spark fundraiser page! We want to include you in all that we do!

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Ian’s Realm is Live

It’s been over seven years since the Ian’s Realm Saga has been published. Lots of rewriting and editing has happened and I finally got the books to where I’m happy with them. It’s a good thing too because if you haven’t noticed, I and a group of talented filmmakers are breathing life into the story.

As we learned with Cassandra’s Castle, filmmaking is an extremely labor some and expensive medium, but it is more rewarding than you could even imagine! My partner Shawnaci Colin and I have been working ever since the spring of this year auditioning, casting, budgeting, and scouting for the best crew to produce a 15 minute short to present to film festivals and pitch to executive producers and distributors.

Ian’s Realm Crowdfunding Video from Dianne Gardner on Vimeo.

Early this month we filmed. An experience that sent me on cloud nine. Now we need to finish gathering funds to pay off people we owe and finance the editing and special effects.

If you have it in your heart to help back our efforts, it would be very much appreciated. We have some wonderful perks, including a special edition of Ian’s Realm that was signed by our actors, including the famous Robert Miano.

Thank you!

Follow this blog, I’ll be posting some fun things we’ve been doing behind the scenes!

Us trucking up a mountain to shoot a scene from Ian’s Realm.

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About Now

Wow! is all I can say about what is happening in our world today. So much trauma, violence, and emotional outpouring. The human race is in upheaval politically, and I look at the book and film industry and see how in-line the popular stories are with current events.

I wonder about my own work. Do fantasy tales have a place in all of this?

They must. I’m convinced that there will always be a place for the imagination. I stumbled upon the words of C.S. Lewis this morning and was encouraged.



Story telling isn’t only for making political statements. When I think back on the books and movies that left an impression on me when I was a teenager, I am reminded of heroic adventures that gave me hope. They built a foundation within that kept me moving forward.

I can’t say I was always a happy teen. I had a lot of issues when I was young. Bullied because I was too tall. I never lived up to my parents expectations because my sister was a genius and I was not. I spent a lot of my younger years in a shell, huddled in the dark of my mind reading Edgar Allen Poe, or Shakespeare.

I sought answers.

How does one move from the crevices of depression into the light?

Poster Finalsm

If it weren’t for other stories of people who overcame the dragons in their lives, I’m not sure I could have survived. But there was Sir Lancelot, there were Frodo and Sam, there were Black Beauty and Merrylegs, there was Alice, and Peter, and the Prevensies. There was Seabiscuit. And there was David against Saul.

This quote from C.S. Lewis is real to me. All through life we will meet cruel enemies. People who care less about our feelings, or about the things that we do. There will always be forces against us. Walls that we need to break through. Without inner strength, our battles will be hopeless.

That is why the stories of brave knights, be they of yester-world, make-believe, or real, need to be told.

Because even if they are fantasy stories, each of us wants to connect to the soldier inside ourselves who presses on. We don’t want to be defeated. We want to survive. We want to live.

Tell me the tales of brave knights and heroic courage. I need to hear them. I need to be them.

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Following a Dream.

It’s interesting how one can become so obsessed with a dream. We all have them. Aspirations that we choose to make our goal in life.

When I think back in my childhood, I’m amazed that despite the decades of obstacles in my journey, my goal has always been to be part of a story-world. When I was young I wanted to be a cartoonist for Disney. We lived so close to Disneyland. Our family visited the park the first week of it’s opening and I was completely enamored by this ‘other world’.
In those days Mickey Mouse and Snow White were simple drawings, and I wanted to be one of the artists who drew them! The thought of working with other artists and producers and musicians in a Disney environment was utopia to me!

But the time wasn’t right, not for me, and not for my parents. The early sixties was an era of turmoil. College selection was scrutinized. Vietnam and civil rights stirred controversy on college campuses. These were the days of riots in Watts, Kent, Berkeley. Just as my father had to abandon his dream of being a commercial artist because of WWII, I was discouraged from pursuing my dream. He warned me that I had better find a more stable course for my life. He wanted me safe and secure. A teacher, a lawyer, a nurse…I was to choose one of those professions or marry into them.

Needless to say there was a glitch in my life that kept me well off the trail.

Fifty years later I am in a comfortable place still following my dream. I may not get that job at Disneyland, but there are other worlds out there that need nurturing, and with the help of friends who believe in the vision, the stories are coming to fruition. I doubt I will ever give up.

Our goal now is to bring Ian’s Realm to reality. I’ve thought it, I’ve written it, I’ve recorded it, I’ve had someone sing its songs.This world is magic, intrigue, peril, and even a touch of humor. Now we want to make it a movie.

To raise funds, I’m offering some of my artwork. We’re having an auction here in Port Orchard. If there is any piece any of you are interested in, please write me a message and perhaps we can barter. We need to raise $20,000. I probably have more than enough in my studio in the form of fine art.

You can donate to the cause on our donation page where even more perks are available.

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