Winners!

Hello, my Roadlings!

I’m just here today to let you know that the Silmaril Awards voting has ended and the winners have been chosen — who those winners are remains to be seen and Presentations begin TODAY, running through September 28 — and to announce the winners of my 5-year blogiversary giveaway!

Silmaril Awards 2018 Ceremonies Schedule

Visit all the blogs over the course of the next several days (I’ll try to update the links as they go live, and I’m sure you can check out the official website as well) to find out who the ten winners of the 2018 Silmaril Awards are! EEP! I’m so excited to find out myself. ^_^

And be sure to come back here next Monday (Sept 24) to find out who has been deemed Wisest Counselor! Be sure to show up for the awards ceremony, and don’t be late, because a wizard is never late, and a certain wizard is present this one, so he might not approve of lateness in others! 😉

Also, there are a couple of other cool Tolkien-related parties going on this week online, and Jenelle recapped them in her post, so check those out! 🙂

Giveaway Winners

I’m excited to announce the winners of the epic giveaway I held last week to celebrate my 5 year blogiversary! Thanks for entering, everyone! ❤

The names have been selected by random draw out of my viking helmet (yes, this was a thing)!

The winners of the five books (from me) and the two sets of Electrical Menagerie cards (courtesy of Mollie Reeder) are . . .

*drumroll*

  • The Electrical Menagerie (+ character cards) — Elizabeth Koetsier
  • Magician’s Ward — Arielle
  • Conrad’s Fate — Faith (Florid Sword)
  • The End of the Third Age — Rayleigh Gray
  • If You Want To Write — Donna Darling
  • second set of character cards — Skye Hoffert

Congrats, guys! I just contacted you by email to get your information (so be on the lookout for that, and if you see this and haven’t heard from me, let me know if you didn’t get the email), and I will get your prizes shipped out ASAP! 🙂

Thanks so much to everyone who celebrated my blogiversary with me! You’re all awesome and I wish I could give you ALL something. ❤

But giveaways are super fun, so hopefully I’ll do some more in the future! 😉

Also, don’t forget that The Electrical Menagerie ebook is only 99 cents until next Monday, so if you didn’t win the paperback, you can still pick up your very own copy! (I highly recommend it. ;))


Thanks, everyone! You’re the best! ^_^

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Silmaril Awards 2018 Wisest Counselor: Voting!

The time has come! *cue Gandalf fireworks*

It’s time to vote on the second round of the Silmaril Awards!

Silmaril Awards: Top 5 Wisest Counselor Nominees

There were so many amazing wise counselor characters from fantasy nominated this year (you can see them all in the comments-section), but in the end, only five could progress to the voting stage.

The top five mentor characters nominated for the Wisest Counselor Silmaril are…

Halt (Ranger’s Apprentice series by John Flanagan)

Halt is a Ranger, a master of stealth and secrets, always slipping about almost unseen in his great grey Ranger cloak. Normal people are a little afraid of him, and he seems grim and mysterious at times, but also has a dry sense of humor and an unexpected snarkiness mixed in with his seeming grouchy unapproachableness. He always seems to have some sort of private joke, disguised enough that you sometimes don’t even realize he’s having fun. Despite his powerful presence and quiet strength, he’s unexpectedly short (a slight sore spot, since it means people don’t always believe he’s the famous Ranger Halt). Well respected among the Rangers, he makes the perfect mentor to young Will, and I doubt if there are many readers of this series who wouldn’t want to be Halt’s apprentice. 😉

Rayad (The Ilyon Chronicles by Jaye L. Knight)

Rayad is an older Arcacian man wanted by the emperor for being a rebel. He is the father figure and mentor to a young ex-gladiator-slave. At this youngster’s darkest moments, Rayad is there to offer advice, hope, and words of comfort and wisdom. He can be a bit gruff at times, but is kind, thoughtful, and knows where the Light comes from. He is also a member of the main council of the Resistance.

Prince Aethalbald (Tales of Goldstone Wood series by Anne Elisabeth Stengl)

Aethelbald at first glance seems to be an entirely ordinary, uninteresting young man with brown hair and earnest dark eyes. He’s far more than he seems, of course, being in fact the ageless Prince of Farthestshore. There is none kinder or wiser, or more full of quiet, knowing power, in all the lands Near, Far, or the Wood Between. But he can also be simply a good friend with a sense of humor and a simple word you need to hear — or perhaps a Wood Thrush’s song…

Professor Digory Kirke (Chronicles of Narnia by C.S. Lewis)

Professor Kirke is a delightful old gentleman with shaggy white hair and a beard, who lives in a very old, strange house in the country — with a certain magical wardrobe. Having experienced going to Narnia in his youth, he’s the perfect wise counselor for the Pevensie children — he understands them and believes their story. He’s very knowledgeable about many things, including other worlds, time, and logic, and always has a wise thing to say, even though he won’t say more than he needs to. He’s someone who you can seek counsel from, confide your secrets and adventures to; he won’t laugh at you, but will give you advice about how to recognize those who have had similar adventures, and deal with those who haven’t. Professor Kirke is the adult who can be trusted because he listens and understands, and is just the right person to tell you what you need to know if you don’t know it yet — because “Bless me, what do they teach them at these schools?”

Puddleglum (The Silver Chair by C.S. Lewis)

I shouldn’t wonder if everyone already knows this most famous of Marshwiggles (especially since he won the Silmaril for Strangest Character in 2016) so the bright side of it is, perhaps he needs no introduction. You may find him making eel stew or predicting rain or the worst possible things to happen, but despite his apparent pessimism, he can sometimes be a wise counselor. He’s famous for “making the best of it,” and he’ll often have a wise word when you least expect it. He’s good at sticking to things and reminding you about what’s important.


To read all about the top five characters in the other categories, you can visit the rest of the host blogs:


Silmaril Awards Voting Form (voting is open Sept. 10 – 14)

Go forth and vote on your favorite mentor (which you’ll find at the end of the ballot) and your favorite character from each of the other 9 categories!

*********CLICK HERE to vote!**********

We’ll be posting the winners later on our various blogs, from September 17 to 28.

You can also visit the Silmaril Awards website at www.silmarilawards.com.

And may the best characters win!


Giveaway

ALSO! Check back here tomorrow (Tuesday), because (spoiler alert) it’s going to be my 5-year blogiversary and I’m going to have a giveaway of bookses (Preciousss…) aaand, speaking of Silmarils, one of the items will be a Tolkien-related book, so you don’t want to miss this. 😉


Which of these mentors are you most excited about? Is it going to be so hard to pick? (AAHH!) Are you excited to find out who wins? 😀 Drop all your Silmaril Awards thoughts below!

And thanks so much, everyone, for all your great nominations and seconds! We couldn’t do this without you. ❤

Silmaril Awards 2018: Nominations! (Wisest Counselor)

It’s that time again! Welcome to the third annual Silmaril Awards! They have returned, and this week is the time to get in your nominations!

This year, I’m hosting the Wisest Counselor award, for our favorite mentors and wise characters from works of fantasy fiction! I’m excited. 😀 (I mean, I do seem to have been talking about mentors a lot this year… like hereand here…)

Not sure what these awards are? They’re a just-for-fun fan-voted award for the best characters from fantasy books! Sort of an Oscars-type event for fantasy characters.

Since characters from J. R. R. Tolkien’s The Lord of the Rings are the gold-standard, they will be the ones “presenting” the awards (called “Silmarils” in honor of the jewels from Tolkien’s The Silmarillion) to the winners, who YOU get to nominate and vote for!

You can find out more about the awards and visit the hall of fame to see previous winners at www.silmarilawards.com, with links to the awards ceremonies, details about the hosts, etc. 🙂

How it Works

Round 1: Nominations (Sept 3 – 7)

You nominate a character by going to the category’s blog post (there are ten of us hosting these) and leaving a comment there. (Nominees for Wisest Counselor are to be left in a comment on this post; other character categories can be found in a list below.)

You can also SECOND (or third/fourth/etc.) someone else’s nomination by replying to the comment and saying that you second that nomination.

You may nominate as many characters as you like, and you may second as many characters as you like.

Round 2: Voting (Sept 10 – 14)

For the voting round, the top FIVE characters in each category (the ones with the most seconds) will be moved to the second round and you may vote for one favorite character in each category on a voting form which we will link to.

Round 3: Awards Presentations

The final part of the awards runs from September 17 – 28, and will be the announcements of the winner of each category, on each of the 10 Silmaril Awards host blogs. There will be one post per day, with award presentation ceremonies, featuring Lord of the Rings characters presenting the awards to the winners, chosen by your votes in the second round.

A few rules

  1. Authors may not nominate their own characters (but, of course, are more than welcome to tell their fans about the awards).
  2. You may also second as many characters nominated by others as you choose. The more “seconds” a character receives, the more likely that character will move on to the VOTING round, which will be the top five most nominated characters from any given category.
  3. Nominations are allowed for FANTASY BOOK characters only! (Movie characters are not allowed, unless the BOOK came FIRST). If you aren’t sure if a book qualifies as “fantasy” you can leave a comment and ask, and we’ll get back to you on that.
  4. Characters who have already won a Silmaril in previous years are part of the “lifetime” Hall of Fame for that award and may not be nominated for an award they have already won (though they may win other awards).
  5. Tolkien’s characters may also not be nominated, since, as mentioned, they are already the standard for fantasy characters, and we want to give other character a chance to earn their due. 🙂

So what are you waiting for? Nominate away!

Awards list and participating blogs (visit each of them to nominate more characters!)

You can also visit this page on the official site.

Nominate your favorite Wisest Counselor characters by leaving a comment below!

(Not eligible for this award: Aslan from The Chronicles of Narnia by C.S. Lewis [2016 winner], Professor Charles Hamilton from the Dragons in Our Midst series by Bryan Davis [2017 winner], and Gandalf, etc. from The Lord of the Rings and Tolkien’s works.)

Also, feel free to spread the word about these awards with any of these graphics, the official www.silmarilawards.com link, and/or #SilmAwards2018 on social media!

Who is your favorite mentor-type character or “Wisest Counselor” from fantasy fiction? Share in the comments!

EDIT: Nominations are now closed. Voting on the next level will open on September 10!

Steampunk, Explosions (Almost), & All the Writing: May 2018 Ishness

Well… I’m back!

In the famous words of Sam Gamgee (I was creative about the punctuation, but still). Which most people consider to be the end of The Lord of the Rings — EVEN THOUGH THERE WAS A PERFECTLY GOOD EPILOGUE AFTER THAT WHICH SOMEBODY CONVINCED TOLKIEN TO LEAVE OUT OF THE PUBLISHED VERSION AND WHICH I’VE STILL NOT FORGIVEN WHOEVER-IT-WAS FOR DOING BECAUSE REALLY. IT NEEDED THAT AWESOME EPILOGUE.

Ahem.

Pardon my Middle-earth rabbit-trail.

Anyhoo, I’m back from my May hiatus-of-sorts, and I’ll now proceed to fill you in on aaall the writing/reading/watching/etc. that happened while I was away from blogging!

Including snippets and the time my street almost blew up. Ish.


Writing

I wrote 15,000 words in May, which I’m extremely happy about! Especially since that’s more than I wrote for April Camp NaNo. XD

Most of that was due to a lot of lovely wordsprints during Indie E-Con, which had a week-long word-war… which I won due to my 10K words that week. 😀 I was kiiind of really excited about that! I actually wrote 11.5K words that week if you count Sunday — just over the amount of words I’d written in the entirety of April for Camp, so I’m very pleased!

I wrote parts of a couple other things, but mostly I was working on my steampunk-fantasy novel, The Siren and the Skyship, which is flying along quite nicely! I’m extremely happy about this. 😀 I’ve been writing mostly out of order, just a scene here and a scene there (but they’re connecting, finally!), sometimes in a messy draft-zero form, and the plot is still being stubborn and I KNOW I’ll have to rewrite a ton, but at least I’m making progress and having a BLAST. It’s so much fun and I love this story so much. ^_^

I wrote over 13K words on S&S in May, so last I knew, the story has reached about 67K words. I’m getting to write actual-big-important-scenes and it’s fabulous. 😀

In short, I wrote a TON (for me) this last month, and I’m having the absolute best time, and IT MAKES ME SO HAPPY. ❤


Snippets (from The Siren and the Skyship)

Keller threw up his hands. “You were tracking me? I always knew the stories were right and stepbrothers are evil.”

“It’s stepsisters,” Gerias protested, “and I’m not evil.”

“You put a tracking on me without my permission. What do you call that?”

“People rarely put trackings on people with permission,” Tasmania mused.

Gerias sighed. “No offense, Captain, but you’re not helping.”

Keller pointed at her. “You are, actually. Thanks for that.” He sent a pointed look at Gerias.

***

“You know, we never did get that time hanging out and chatting, just the three of us,” Tasmania said.

Percy’s face dropped. “Oh. I—I forgot. I had that thing and then— I’m so sorry—”

“Don’t. I know you’re busy. It’s just… this is fun, you know? Just getting to chat for a minute. Alone. Ish.”

Ish here meaning in a ballroom surrounded by about three hundred people,” her brother said wryly.

Tasmania wrinkled her nose, but she was smiling too. “That’s exactly what ish means.”

“Well, you know what? Forget social thingamawhatsits and duties and whatnot; they can go hang,” King Percival said recklessly. “The three of us do need to find a time to just chat—let’s do it tonight.”

“What, after the ball?”

“Yes, exactly.”

“At, like, midnight?” Tasmania raised an eyebrow.

“We’re grownups. We can stay up late,” Percival said bullishly.

Tasmania laughed. “I meant, there’s that whole coronation thing tomorrow morning. Are you sure you want to stay up late talking all night the night before? You’ll be all bleary and half-asleep and red-eyed, and you’ll fall asleep while you’re being crowned or something.”

“Exactly. It’ll be glorious. Why not live a little, I say? And then I can always say anything that goes wrong was your fault, you know,” he teased.

“Just you try,” Tasmania said, smirking.


Reading

I read some lovely books this month!

  • If you’re curious about these, you can click the following links to read my reviews of: Kate’s Dilemma, The Story Peddler, Mythical Doorways, and The Stealthmaster’s Shadow. I really enjoyed all of them!
  • Oh, oh! And Mythical Doorways had some delightful short stories (and it’s FREE, so you should totally pick it up!), including one with my new favorite character, Jayden. I’ve only met him in short stories, but HE’S MY FAVE. If you hear me randomly flailing about him, this is why.
  • Common was SO SWEET. Lovely fantasy/fairytale-esque romantic YA, reminiscent of things like Ella Enchanted. I loved it. ^_^
  • Trial by Song was a FASCINATING modern retelling of Jack and the Beanstalk and was SO INTENSE. O_O *collapses* It also ended on a terrible cliffhanger from which I’ve still not recovered.
  • A Sidekick’s Tale was a hilarious western novella — kind of like if a Bertie Wooster story was a western. XD
  • AND THEN THERE’S THE ELECTRICAL MENAGERIE. People. You need this book in your life. It’s a steampunk (ish) novel with a buddy story (kind of) and snark and humor and show business and illusions and murder and danger and plots, and I can’t really categorize it but IT WAS SO GOOD AAAH. I currently have a book hangover from this delightful book. How will anything ever be this good again? *collapses* The Electrical Menagerie is releasing this week. Anyway. If you’re not sure if you’d like to try it or not, you can check out Arbrook Huxley and the Star-Crossed Lovers to see if you’d like more of the same, since it’s a short story which is free on the author’s newsletter and is HILARIOUS. XD (Butbutbut. Carthage and Huxley. They’re my favorites. :D)

(I’m not going to link to all the titles but if you’d like to check out any of these books, you can find links to them on my Goodreads Reading Challenge page.)


Watching


  • So, I saw Avengers: Infinity War and Solo: A Star Wars Story. And, in an attempt to be a good blogger and share things I thought about them in this post, I wrote up thoughts on both at least three times and erased them and… yeah, no, not going to have opinions because I hate having those (or at least sharing them) and I don’t want to be roasted by (or hurt feelings of) any who feel strongly one way or another. I had mixed thoughts on both, disliked some things, enjoyed others. 🙂 The end.
  • I also randomly re-watched the Lord of the Rings fan-films Born of Hope (THE SONS OF ELROND!) and The Hunt for Gollum. XD
  • And just a few episodes of the usual suspects: Once Upon a Time, Trollhunters, NCIS, and White Collar. And a little re-watching Sherlock. Still enjoying all of ’em in their way! 🙂

Also, speaking of movies, there’s a poster for the next How to Train Your Dragon movie AND AAAAAHH LOOK AT IT!!!! ❤

(I’ll just be over here QUIETLY SHRIEKING about this, thank you. *muffled “squee!” noises*)


Life

I’ve been working on a website and some branding/theme stuff for my writing self, so I’m hoping to share some of that in the next month or so. 🙂


I guess the most exciting thing that happened was my street almost blowing up.

I may exaggerate.

Slightly.

“We may experience some slight turbulence and then… explode.”

Okay, so some roadwork people hit a gas line right in front of my house, and they kinda-sorta evacuated half the block. We grabbed laptops and went down to a cafe thing for a couple of hours and saw reruns of the Royal Wedding, and mostly just hoped they (the road workers, not the royal people) wouldn’t accidentally blow up the block or anything. But it got fixed and we went home and everything was fine. It was just… an interesting day. *cough*


My sis and I have also been jogging occasionally, which has been fun because we’ve named ourselves the “Like a Quick Lady” Writer Fitness Club. Because writers need to get out too.

It’s a reference to a line from Beggar Magic by H. L. Burke:

She started to run, but heard her mother’s voice in her head, “Do you want to be so out of breath you can’t even say ‘hello’ when you find your friend? Walk like a lady.”

Like a quick lady, Leilani decided.

(Beggar Magic is an excellent book I really enjoyed, and if you’re curious to read it, it’s currently the free thing you get if you sign up for H. L. Burke’s fun newsletter. FYI.)

I just like that line, and “like a quick lady” is something I say when I’m in a hurry. XD So when we’re jogging, we say that a lot, as well as “On your left!” (Because Captain America.) Because what fun is jogging unless there are lots of fandom-y, inside jokes? 😉


Also, fresh apricots are STUPENDOUS, I TELL YOU. That is all.


June Plans

Well… it’s June (HOW??) so Realm Makers is less than a month and a half away, which is TERRIFYING (I mean… exciting, too; but still terrifying), so I really have to get on that to-do list of mine and start finishing up some of the projects I’ve been working on, like my official website and things. 😛

So I’ll be focusing on various writerly pre-conference things and trying to juggle life, while also hopefully keeping up with a bunch of book releases and reviews because some little otter secretary seems to have signed me up for a lot of blog tours and review books right when I need to be busy with other stuff. 😉

But that’s how these things go, and I’m super excited for all the books (you can check out all the bookish things going on this month in my Bookish News post on my book blog!) so yeah. It’s going to be fun! I just feel extremely busy. XD


How about you? Thoughts? What are your June plans? Share in the comments — I’d love to hear all about it. ^_^ I hope you have an amazing summer! Thanks so much for reading. ❤

Diana Wynne Jones: 6 Quotes to Live By

I love Diana Wynne Jones books.

One of the things I love about them (besides the brilliant humor, the original fantasy elements, the larger-than-life-characters, and the sheer un-pigeon-hole-able-ness of the books) is the writing.

I love those times when you run across a line and have to stop reading and sit back and stare unseeing at the universe, and think: “Wow.”

I’m sure I’m only scratching the surface, but here are a mere half a dozen of those gems, which personally impacted me or which I feel have something to say about life that we should listen to. 🙂

“There goes Mig with her happy endings again,” Chris said. But I don’t care. I like happy endings. And I asked Chris why something should be truer just because it’s unhappy. He couldn’t answer.

— from Aunt Maria

This one kind of sums up my thoughts on happy endings. XD I really believe that happy endings and eucatastrophe are important in fiction. Life has enough darkness and sorrow. Fiction — especially fantasy — is the place where one can have happy endings that give hope. I’ve often seen it said that happy endings or certain good things in fiction are “unrealistic”. My response is like Mig’s. Why should something be truer just because it’s unhappy?

“When you grow up to be an author and write books, you’ll think you’re making the books up, but they’ll all really be true, somewhere.”

— from Witch Week (Chrestomanci series)

I love this one! It really makes you think, you know? It’s one of the things that really fits with my work-in-progress novel I’m writing, The Other Half of Everything. It also seems to fit in quite well with Tolkien’s idea of a “Tree of Tales”, which he wrote about in his essay On Fairy Stories. I recently read The Game by Diana Wynne Jones, and this quote seems to fit with that too, with the idea of the Mythosphere in that book, where stories are really out there and really true.

“Only thin, weak thinkers despise fairy stories. Each one has a true, strange fact hidden in it, you know, which you can find if you look.”

— from Fire and Hemlock

This one was from Thomas Lynn, one of my favorite characters. I could probably do an entire post about Tom and his sayings in Fire and Hemlock, including one I often quote, about not leaving a book open, lying on its face (the poor thing’s in torment!). But this one is one of my favorites, and I agree with it. I mean, look at the true, strange facts I find in Diana Wynne Jones’ books! I think it’s true of all really good fantasy — real fairy stories.

“Only way I can do something this frightening is to tell myself I’m not doing it!”

— from Howl’s Moving Castle

I mentioned this quote in a guest post I did, all about my writing technique, Draft Zero. But it’s not the only thing I use this “Howling myself into things” method for! I just love this one, because I can apply it to most things I don’t want to do. It really taught me something about myself when I read that. I think many of us relate to Howl on this point more than we would like to admit… Or at least, that’s the case for me! 😉

“Can’t you treat yourself with a bit more consideration?”

“Why should I?” Mordion said […]

“Because you’re a person, of course!” Ann snapped at him. “One person ought to treat another person properly even if the person’s himself!”

“What a strange idea!” Mordion said.

— from Hexwood

This is a rather complex one. It goes on to say, later: “Ann had once more put her finger on something he did not want to think about.” And I’d say, yes, it’s one of those things that, like Mordion, I didn’t really want to think about — but it made me. And that’s one of the things about Diana Wynne Jones books, is they’ll do that to you.

How often am I simply too hard on myself about things, when I would never dream of treating another person that way — only myself? Because, well… I don’t matter, so that’s silly. But… well… it’s not. Because I’m a person too, and I ought to treat another person properly, even if the person’s myself.

And when I’m reading the book, I can see exactly why Mordion feels the way he does, because (not to go into spoilers) the villains are horrendous and Mordion was brought up a certain way, which is why he doesn’t see himself as a person, and it takes Ann snapping at him to make him see this and to realize he is one after all.

But the contrast between Mordion’s terrible life and my own ordinary one, with both of us feeling the same way, is startling, because I have absolutely no excuse, and yet I can see myself saying, with Mordion, “What a strange idea!” And Ann replied: “It’s not strange, it’s common sense!”

“I think we ought to live happily ever after.”

— from Howl’s Moving Castle

Of course this has to be included, last of all! 😉 I don’t think it needs much explaining . . . I can only say that I wholeheartedly agree, Howl!

(All quote images were designed by me, using free images.)

I’m posting this in honor of March Magics 2018, hosted by Kate @ We Be Reading.

What are some of your favorite quotes, from Diana Wynne Jones or otherwise? And what do you think of these? Thanks for reading! ^_^