Spring Ishness 2019 (The End, Merlin, & Camp NaNo!)

Oh, hi! I live! *gasps of shock*

In this edition of Ishness (which accidentally became quarterly instead of monthly this time), I:

  • finished writing a book (!!)
  • survived Camp NaNo
  • saw several delightful films (including How to Train Your Dragon 3, Endgame, and BBC’s Merlin)
  • read some lovely books
  • and met some famous people! (Kinda.)
  • Also, lots of pictures at a book fair or two.

Shall we dive in? 😀

March, April, and May Ishnesses, all squished into one! (Yes, the last time I did one was for February. *cough*)

Writing

March: #WIPobsessed

I had mentioned joining in on the #WIPobsessed challenge (which is actually the latest non-review post on here; oh help), but I neglected to report back on the results of that on here. (Whoops!)

I’m excited to say that I completed my challenge of writing three hours in three days — in fact I wrote 4.5 hours/3.5K words — on KW2! It was rather fabulous and I’m so glad I hopped aboard, and grateful to Liv K. Fisher for hosting! It was also good practice for . . .

April: Camp NaNo

I participated in and won Camp NaNo! Huzzah!

I set a 10-hour goal (since I didn’t know how much I had left to write, and thought that I might finish and go on to do plotting for a different book the rest of the month — HAHAHA).

About halfway in, things weren’t looking so well . . .

But I rallied and pulled a 4+ hour day, got over 3K words in, and finished up the climactic ending chapter of The Secret of Kedran’s Wood!

Which just left a wrapup chapter or two, which is how I occupied the rest of the month . . .

I hit my 10-hour goal with about 10K words, with a couple of days to spare, and then I just kept on writing — I wrote nearly 7K over the course of the last two days and SOMETHING REALLY COOL HAPPENED.

I FINISHED KW2!

Sometime in the area of 2:30 a.m. on the night of April 30/May 1st, I finished writing The Secret of Kedran’s Wood, which is book 2 in my contemporary fantasy series and a book I’ve been working on for OVER FIVE YEARS.

So. Yeah. That was pretty momentous. 😀

The end is a bit messy, but first drafts, you know. (We just won’t discuss the fact that it’s currently a 145K word monster. *cough*)

So then I stayed up past 3 a.m. because I couldn’t sleep because I was so excited. XD

ANYWAY. It was a lovely end to Camp NaNo, which I ended with 17K words and one completed book. ^_^

May – June: What now?

I may have also started working on a new, smaller Kedran’s Wood story and I’m doing some plotting for another book, so I totally plan to do a WIP update post and talk about my writing projects, soon! Maybe I’ll also share some snippets. 😀

Writing Totals

I wrote just shy of 25,000 words over the course of three months! Which may not sound like much to many prolific writers out there, but I’d been majorly stuck ever since NaNo ended, so it felt amazing to write so much, particularly finishing a story and starting another! (Which are the best things. ;))

Nearly all of that was Kedran’s Wood stuff, which makes me and my character Tare happy. 😀 (I mean, as much as he’s capable of being happy. You didn’t hear it from him. >.>)

I’m basically a happy writer right now!

Life Highlights

In March, for my birthday, I got to go to a homeschool convention where I got the chance to see a talk on C.S. Lewis by Douglas Gresham (and he signed my copy of The Horse and His Boy!). So that was cool, to hear Mr. Gresham give actual personal recollections on Lewis and his life!

The best part of the day was getting to visit with author friends Claire Banschbach, Mollie E. Reeder, and Gillian Bronte Adams and hang out at the Realm Makers Mobile Bookstore run by the inimitable Scott and Becky Minor. It. Was. The. Best!

*pic dump*

Realm Makers Bookstore! They travel to different events, and even have an online store.

Gillian Bronte Adams!

Busy! Friends! Books!

Becky Minor and the beautiful sign she made!

The Wingfeather mini-film is SO CUTE. I need to finish reading the series…

The Rabbit Room was there too!

Can you tell I like chocolate? *cough*

In April, I got to attend two absolutely fabulous talks by author Bryan Davis, about writing and the Hero’s Journey, and hang out with the delightful people of Lorehaven Magazine!

Bryan Davis!

E. Stephen Burnett, Lacy Rhiannon Burnett, and Marian Jacobs at the Lorehaven table!

How about Lacy’s FABULOUS hat? 😉

I got this magazine, featuring Morgan L. Busse (author of Flight of the Raven which I just reviewed)! You can sign up for the e-magazine list at Lorehaven.com for free! They have book reviews and all kinds of speculative fiction awesomeness!

Throw in get-togethers with some other dear writer friends of times past and it’s been a happy few months. ^_^

Between March Magics, Camp NaNo in April, and a social media hiatus in May, during which I stepped back to catch up on some things like review books and my editing job, it’s been quite a time!

Watching

I actually saw four new movies in theaters over the course of three months, and that’s not something I do . . . ever. XD But it was fun!

  • How to Train Your Dragon 3 — IT WAS SO PRECIOUS. The first movie is my favorite animated one of all time, so I was really excited and nervous about this one. It was GORGEOUS and I loved it! Especially Toothless and the Light Fury, and the Hidden World, and the end. So much laughing! So many tears! But I loved it SO, SO MUCH. ❤ (Even if I kind of don’t remember/care about the actual plot part involving a villain or whatever happened. I was just here for the gorgeousness and the epic music and the CHARACTERS like the dragons and Hiccup and Astrid. But I’m that way about a lot of things. XD) TOOTHLESS IS THE BEST. It made me so happy. ^_^
  • Captain Marvel — I’d heard totally conflicting views on this, both that it was awful and that it was the best thing ever. XD So I guess it’s no surprise that it’s simply a fun movie. It’s not my favorite ever, but I quite enjoyed myself watching it, and there were a few really fun moments, particularly with young Nick Fury, and Coulson briefly, and the cat. 😛 (I knew most of the spoilers before seeing it, sadly, but it was still fun.) I liked Captain Marvel herself much more in this one than in Endgame for some reason. Also the villain was neat. And it was really weird having it set in the ’90s. Like. ’80s and ’90s are historical fiction settings now? IT’S SO WEIRD.

  • Endgame — No spoilers, don’t worry! But I actually really enjoyed this one, and aside from a few quibbles (like how one character was treated and a few plot things that I didn’t like or think are stupid), I thought it was super epic. 😀 I ADORED the time-travel and the characters and I laughed a lot and cried a bunch near the end but also less than I thought based on how some people had acted. XD I did see a fair handful of spoilers online before though, so . . . meh.
  • Tolkien — I was actually determined NOT to see this one, on principle, since I was sure Tolkien would hate it. >.> But I caved and went after all. I haven’t actually sorted all my thoughts on it. I think I enjoyed it as a movie, but can’t quite reconcile it to being about my favorite author as a person. I’m a super-huge Tolkien fan and just from that and reading his works, including his letters, I feel like a lot of it just didn’t get him right. I don’t know as much about that time of his life as I could, so I can’t back up all my doubts with fact, and they did stick to the big points in his life that I did know about, but . . . I don’t know. I have really mixed thoughts. I went “really?” a lot, but I did laugh too (the spears moment. XD I really liked the actor who played his younger-younger self), and there were some good moments. Just . . . I don’t feel like it was quite right. Very gorgeous movie, though, and I loved the shadow credits at the end. (Also, for anyone who’s seen it and/or has read The Beast of Talesend: there was a TOTAL Cordelia moment! It was probably out of character but it totally made me think of Cordelia. XD)

I also saw a few other movies and shows, but the highlights were definitely:

  • Christopher Robin — I adored this one! It was the best. ^_^ I mean, it was sort of like Mary Poppins Returns, plot-wise, but better! And so funny too. XD (Also, Mycroft is the villain. XD) I loved Ewan McGregor as Christopher Robin, and how Pooh and the others from the Hundred Acre Wood felt and looked a bit more like their real selves from the original books, which I grew up on. It just made me happy. ❤
  • The Incredibles 2 — Yes, I finally saw this one! At last I have seen the Incredibles movies and caught up on the hype. XD But it was so much fun and I had a blast watching it. 😀 I just love them! Especially Dash. XD And baby Jack-Jack and the racoon! *dies laughing*

And for shows . . .

  • Merlin

I at long last started watching BBC’s Merlin! Yes, I know, I’m only a century late on this one. *cough* But since March I plowed through four whole seasons, and since I’ve heard from reliable sources that the final season gets sad, I miiight call it quits there, at least for now.

SO YES. I’ve now seen Merlin and enjoyed it tons! XD It’s not my favorite thing ever, and there were definite missed potential things, but it’s just absolute loads of fun and a total blast! 😀 Merlin and Arthur are so much fun, and Gwaine is the BEST.

Absolute best bit = the donkey ears. XD

Reading

March

March Magics was a bit slower of a reading month than I wanted it to be, but I still found time to read a handful of delightful Terry Pratchett and Diana Wynne Jones books!

And there are the rest of my March reads, all quite good. You can read more about all of these in this Book Ishness post!

April

April was a very interesting month of reading, since I read some nonfiction, a bunch of delightful sci-fi short stories, and re-read some old favorites, as well as reading a couple of new-to-me Sleeping Beauty stories. XD You can read more about these in another Book Ishness post.

May

In May, since I was on internet hiatus, I actually focused more on reading than usual, and plowed through the rest of my review books, as well as a couple for-fun reads, and managed to read 8 novels and 2 novellas. IT FELT AMAZING. I haven’t read so much in a very long time and it was a blast! And I caught up on review books (for the moment) which was also a glorious moment. 😀

These were all excellent as well, and you can read more about them here — which is also my 200th post on my book blog!

All in all, I’ve had a very delightful last few months of reading! And I also hit my Goodreads Reading Challenge goal of 50 books for the year, so that happened. 😛 (A lot of them are short stories, I promise. XD)

Listening

In audiobook news, I started Cress and then promptly derailed myself on that one by listening to The Electrical Menagerie audiobook, in full, and enjoyed myself to no end! (Read my audiobook review here.)

I’m getting back to Cress this month, though!

I also re-discovered the band Red and have been listening to them ever since. 😀 I hadn’t really paid attention to them back before I started enjoying Christian Rock, but I’m really enjoying their music now! (Some songs are too metal for me, but for the most part = delightful! I may have listened to their calm, melancholy song Hymn for the Missing 876384768 times in the last few months and have zero regrets.)

May Hiatus

I neglected to share about it on this blog (whoops) but I went on a blogging and social media hiatus in May. I pulled back from the internet somewhat and focused on catching up on my editing job, beta-reading, review books, and a few blog posts ahead! It was delightful and so refreshing, as well as productive, so I feel really good about it! (I also felt like I was barely home in May so it’s just as well I didn’t need to be online much. XD)

Now that I’m back, I’m honestly a little overwhelmed but I’m trying to make it through each day. (Doesn’t help that I’m fighting off a cold as I write this.)

June Plans

  • I’m back to blogging! Hurrah! (I know I’ve only been gone for . . . forever. *cough* I’m so sorry! I’ve just been terribly busy!) I have a few posts in the works so I’m hoping to get back on something of a schedule again on both my blogs. I’m so excited!
  • It also happens to be five-ish weeks until the Realm Makers writers conference in July, and just typing that is making me hyperventilate because I’m laughably unready. *nervous laughter* But I’m so excited for it, too! So I’ll be trying to gear up for that!
  • Otherwise, June is looking to shape up to be a busy one (and is somehow already a third finished?) but hopefully will contain lots of books, blogging, editing, and maybe a smidge of writing thrown in if my characters cooperate. 😉
  • Also, I’m trying to post every day on Instagram this month! Just because. XD So check out my account if you like. Aaall the books.
  • I’ll have to work on that writing WIP update post to introduce you guys to my next couple of works in progress!

WHEW. If you read all that, you deserve a medal, or at least a virtual cupcake. *offers you one* How’ve you been? I’ve missed you guys! Let me know what you’ve been up to in a comment — or share your thoughts on any of those movies I mentioned, or whatever strikes your fancy! Thanks for reading. ❤

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#WIPobsessed & Middle-earth Day!

G’day, my Roadlings!

Today there are two exciting things going on!

MIDDLE-EARTH DAY

March 25th has been dubbed Middle-earth Day and Tolkien Reading Day, in celebration of the day the Ring was destroyed. (It’s also more or less New Year’s Day due to that, as decreed by Aragorn, so . . . let’s brush up some new New-Year’s-Resolutions, shall we?)

Here’s a huzzah for all things Lord of the Rings and Tolkien!

(I’ll be celebrating by smiling over the two Tolkien books I’ve read so far this year and crying over how I haven’t been keeping up with my History of Middle-earth book-per-month personal challenge. 😛 *cough*)

Anyway, I had to mention because I’ll never not celebrate a Middle-earthean holiday! 😉

CALLING ALL WRITERS

The other thing is actually a three-day-long thing:

#WIPobsessed, an online writers’ retreat hosted by Liv K. Fisher!

It runs March 25-27, and the idea is to pick a goal and work on some writing during these three days, and share your progress and updates with the #WIPobsessed hashtag on whichever social media you prefer!

(Here’s the info on Liv’s Instagram, and on her blog.)

I don’t know about you, but I’ve been far too busy all month to do much of anything remotely writing-related and it’s been devastating. So even though Camp NaNo is around the corner, I thought this would be the perfect excuse to push me into at least dipping my toe back into the writing waters. I can make time on three days to write, right?

Since I’m also terribly busy this week, and my saner half (sorry, my saner 3/8ths) says I have no business even thinking about writing, I’m going to set a low but hopefully achievable goal of one hour per day for a total of 3 hours of writing. Maybe that will add up to 3K words. We can hope!

I’m setting a secondary goal, if I pass the first, of finishing writing KW2 during #WIPobsessed (which I calculate, or rather hope, has about 5K left).

So there!

I’m announcing this which means I have to work toward it and at least try to set aside this time, even during an insane week, to do a little writing.

I hereby give myself permission to write for an hour each day for three days. Because that’s the only way writing is going to happen.

(Isn’t it dreadful it has to come to this? XD)

And besides, it’ll be good practice for Camp NaNo starting in exactly one week. 😉 (Please tell me I’m not the only one who is TERRIBLY PLEASED that April is starting on a Monday! XD)

SO WHO’S WITH ME? Why don’t you commit to writing even ten minutes or 100 words per day for the next three days? Join in the glorious swirling of creativity/mutual support!

It’s not like it’s a month-long challenge like NaNo. Just three days. Because every day counts!

I’m not sure how much I’ll be sharing or where, during these three days, but hopefully at least an update or two over on my Twitter, Facebook, or Instagram!

Go forth and join in, and get #WIPobsessed! May the words be ever in your favor!

Fantasy Favorites Tag!

G’day, my Roadlings!

It’s the LAST day of February (say what? How did this happen?) so I’m squeezing in at the last second of February Fantasy Month to do this lovely tag that the hostess of this awesome event, Jenelle Schmidt, put together.

No, I’m not late—what gave you that idea?

Ahem. On with the tag, shall we? All of these questions are so hard! O_O

What is your favorite fantasy book?

(I lied. This question is super easy.)

The Lord of the Rings/The Silmarillion and Howl’s Moving Castle. I KNOW. SUCH A SHOCK. XD

(Okay, I know that’s not one. But. You know.)

Also, I’m looking forward to reading Howl’s Moving Castle for the sixth time (I think?) next month for March Magics since there’s going to be a readalong for it! 😀

What is your favorite fantasy movie or TV show (or both!)?

At first I couldn’t think of any fantasy TV shows, which shows a definite problem somewhere . . . But I’m going to go with Ren: The Girl with the Mark, which I mentioned before, and if you haven’t checked it out, I totally recommend doing so!

I’m going to be posting about that soon, regarding a possible season 2 (!!) so stay tuned!

For movies:

(I need to see the new How to Train Your Dragon movie! Aaahh!)

  • How to Train Your Dragon
  • The Lord of the Rings
  • Prince of Persia

And if you haven’t seen Prince of Persia yet — what are you even doing with your life?

Prince Dastan can’t believe you haven’t watched it, either

Who is your favorite fantasy hero/heroine?

I have SO MANY FAVORITE HEROES, I’m not even going to try listing anybody. My mind overwhelmed itself and short-circuited with the sheer amount and left me suddenly unable to recall anybody. I’ll regret it later but I’m going to skip that.

Instead, I’ll just do heroines, since that’s a much shorter list. 😉 Here are some:

  • Mina Klug (The Bright Empires series by Stephen R. Lawhead)
  • Eowyn (The Lord of the Rings) and Luthien Tinuviel (The Silmarillion), both by J.R.R. Tolkien
  • Eilonwy (The Prydain Chronicles by Lloyd Alexander)
  • Ginny (Paper Crowns by Mirriam Neal)
  • Cordelia Beaumont (The Beast of Talesend by Kyle Robert Shultz)
  • Echo (Echo North by Joanna Ruth Meyer)

It takes a LOT to write a heroine I really love and admire. I’m not sure exactly what quality these heroines share but they’re all fabulous! (You can read a post I wrote which in part concerned those first few heroines, if you like.)

Who is your favorite fantasy side-kick?

Uuuurgh. Do you realize how difficult this question is? Do you realize how many amazing fantasy side-kicks there are? This is threatening to short-circuit my brain again.

*panics* *scrambles around* *grabs one name from the swirling mass and tosses it out*

CRISPIN BEASLEY HE’S JUST THE BEST OKAY BYE

*panting*

*thrusts The Beast of Talesend haphazardly in your face*

*hurries on*

Who is your favorite fantasy villain? (the one you most love to hate?)

For some reason all I can think of right now is the Gentleman with the Thistledown Hair from Jonathan Strange and Mr Norrell. He’s just . . . really creepy. O_O

(I was tempted to list Carhartan from Orphan’s Song or Rupert de la Mare from Plenilune or the Keeper from Entwined but “most love to hate” might not apply; it’s more like I HAVE FEELINGS WHICH MAY BE HATE I DUNNO. I talk about villains here.)

I . . . don’t want to linger on this question; there’s a sort of chill in the air over here. I’ll just . . . Yeah, I’ll move on.

*sprints hastily to next question and locks door behind self*

What is your favorite fantasy sub-genre?

*breathes sigh of relief* Much safer, cozier, warmer question. 🙂

Fairytale retellings, and steampunk-fantasy or Regency-fantasy! Those are ones I’ve been really into lately, anyway.

I love a good classic epic fantasy, too!

What is your favorite thing about fantasy?

The limitless possibilities and imagination and wonder. There’s just so MUCH that can happen! It also has great potential for my favorite sorts of character types, and of course fantastical creatures and settings! And . . . well . . . everything.

Fantasy is my home, and while I enjoy other genres from time to time (non-speculative fiction, and non-fiction occaaasionally), they just often seem . . . dry. They don’t have the wonder. I enjoy visiting them sometimes but Fantasy is where I live.

It has so much potential. I find I learn truths about life more deeply when I encounter them in fantasy.

Lloyd Alexander said it best.

What is your favorite fantasy realm?

Tolkien’s world, absolutely. I have recently been re-immersing myself in Middle-earth and particularly Beleriand and the other lands of The Silmarillion, reading Tolkien’s Book of Lost Tales and The Fall of Gondolin.

I “grew up” there, living and breathing the richness of his world and the far-reaching wonder of the ages of Middle-earth. I had no idea how much I missed it until I went back again and realized it was so natural to slip back into this world. I do need to give The Lord of the Rings a good re-read one of these days soon, but at the moment I’m enjoying going through the older drafts of what later became The Silmarillion and having a blast.

If you need me, I’ll be walking the shores of Valinor or visiting the hidden valley of the city of Gondolin between the mountains; treading under the trees of Doriath with Luthien and Beren or staring at the wide sea from the cliffs of Beleriand; visiting the Shire or the Lonely Mountain or Lothlorien or Minas Tirith; spending a couple of weeks by the fire in Rivendell with the music and the books, the food and the Elves; galloping the vast plains with the Rohirrim; or walking the woods of Ithilien with Faramir. Watch out; I may never come back. 😉

What is your favorite fantasy magic system?

I’m not sure! I don’t always pay that much attention to how the fantasticalness works in the fantasy I read? But I will say that I know I liked Spellsmith and Carver (where it was half like computer coding) and Beggar Magic (the “strains” sort of like music), both by H.L. Burke. And the Song from the Songkeeper Chronicles by Gillian Bronte Adams, and the aether gifts in the Sentinel Trilogy by Jamie Foley, are all coming to mind. So I guess I’ll go with some of those. XD In Echo North by Joanna Ruth Meyer, I ADORED the book-mirrors where you can step into a story, so if that counts . . .

Sell me a fantasy book! Have you written a fantasy book? Give me your best pitch for it! Have you read an exceptionally great fantasy book recently? Convince me to make it my next read!

Wellll. I have written a fantasy book, or several. But they’re not exactly available yet. XD *cough*

My latest is basically a Steampunk-Fantasy Little Mermaid. Except that the Little Mermaid is neither little nor Mer nor a maid — being a cloud-siren prince on a quest to find his father’s killer — and he gets mixed up with Princess Tasmania who is the captain of a skyship. Cloud cities, assassins, tea, love, and clockwork dragons ensue.

So yeah, that’s The Siren and the Skyship, currently in needs-to-be-edited limbo. I’m working on trying to figure out the plot for the sequel right now and it’s giving me headaches.

Maybe I’ll do an update post about how my writing is coming, since I haven’t talked about that or anything on here in awhile . . .

Actual book

In the meantime, how about a book that is actually finished! and published! and awesome!

I wanted to screech about Echo North or The Electrical Menagerie, but since y’all prooobably know by now how much I love those (given all the shrieking I’ve done. XD) and things like Howl’s Moving Castle, I think I’ll give a quick shout-out for a book I haven’t talked as much about for a little while! (But seriously, go check those out if you haven’t!! They make me happy!)

Blood Ties! By Hazel West!

Alternate modern Ireland! Warriors with swords and fast cars! Brothers by blood and by bond with great messy relationships I love! SNARK. Fighting. Epic characters! (I love them ALL! AWK!) Loyalty and goblins and castles and cell phones! (Those are good because they’re all together in one book, not because goblins or cell phones are necessarily inherently good in themselves.)

Did I mention Ireland? Because it’s almost Saint Patrick’s Day so you OBVIOUSLY need something to read for that.

I love it so much and I’ve been missing this series (the sequels are just as good if not better) and wanting book four BADLY. So go read this one if you haven’t. 😀

And look, I’m part of Ciran’s Company! And I have a real BPAFF (Bureau of Protection Against Fair Folk) shamrock necklace I won from the author, so if any of you reading this are actually malevolent fae or goblins trying to convince people not to read this book, I KNOW WHO YOU ARE AND WHAT YOU’RE DOING. Ciran and I are comin’ for you. And the rock band Swords and Shamrocks are going to write a ballad about it. So watch out.

So there you are! I hope you enjoyed this fantasy tag and my answers — do feel free to steal the tag to use on your own blog, even if Fantasy Month is over. Because the time for fantasy is always!

What are some of YOUR fantasy favorites? Let me know in the comments!

Wisest Counselor Presentation Ceremony (Silmaril Awards 2018)

The White City of Gondor is packed.

Everyone has gathered in Minas Tirith, from all across Middle-earth and other lands far beyond, for the third annual presentation of the Wisest Counselor Silmaril Award.

The sable curtains, bearing the image of the white tree of Gondor, part and draw back. I stand in the center of the stage and wave at the expectant audience.

“Welcome, everyone!” I call. “Thank you for coming to the Award Ceremony to present the winner of the 2018 Silmaril Award for Wisest Counselor!”

The crowd cheers, and some hobbit near the back, who is a little confused about what the reason for the gathering is, raises a mug and calls, “Happy birthday!”

There is laughter.

I smile and carry on. “In previous years, as winners of this award, we’ve had Aslan himself from Narnia—not sure where he is today; not a tame lion, you understand—as well as Professor Hamilton from Dragons in Our Midst, who is visiting.” I wave toward the back of the stage where the grey-haired professor stands, smiling.

The audience applauds.

“And now, to present this year’s nominees and the winner, I’d like to welcome Gandalf onto the stage. Mithrandir, as some of you know him, is one of the wisest counselors in all of Middle-earth—even in all of Arda—and therefore highly qualified to present this award. Friends, I give you . . . Gandalf!”

I gesture to the right of the stage. Nothing happens. I wait several long, awkward moments, and laugh nervously. “Sorry, folks, looks like Gandalf is a little late this evening.”

“A wizard is never late, my dear blogger,” says a voice. The crowd laughs and applauds as Gandalf himself steps onto the stage, sweeping across it in his long grey robes and silver scarf and grey pointy hat. “I arrived precisely when I meant to.”

“Of course, of course. Well, I’m sure you were busy with something important, as always.”

Gandalf furrows his bushy eyebrows and looks mysterious, but I suspect he’s hiding a smile in his long grey beard.

“Thanks for coming, Gandalf. I’ll turn things over to you.” I nod to him and slip off the stage, finding a place in the front row where the applause for Professor Hamilton had been loudest, between a teenage boy and a girl with—wings? I spin back to look at her again—oh, she’s only wearing a backpack. Must have been my imagination . . .

I settle in with the rest of the excited audience to watch the following proceedings on stage.

The Nominees

“Welcome, Elves, Men, Hobbits, Dwarves, and . . . others,” Gandalf says. “Allow me to present the nominees of this year’s award.”

The audience’s murmur hushes in anticipation, and then they applaud as each name is announced.

Rayad of Arcacia from the land of Ilyon.”

A somewhat grizzled man in a simple tunic steps onto the stage, bows, and then smiles and nods toward two members of the crowd near the end of the front row—a teenage girl holding hands with a young man whose black hair falls over his ears, a black wolf lying at their feet. The young man nods back to Rayad, quiet and unobtrusive but proud.

Professor Digory Kirke of Narnia, come all the way from England via wardrobe.” Gandalf glances toward the ornate wooden wardrobe near the back of the stage.

An old man with shaggy white hair and equally shaggy beard comes into view and waves at the audience. There are cheers—particularly from the very middle of the front row, where four children—two boys and two girls, one of whom is a familiar face from last year—sit together and are heard to say things like “Hurrah for the Professor!” and “Good old Prof!”

Puddleglum of Narnia.”

A tall, thin Marshwiggle steps forward on webbed feet, shaking his head with the pointy hat rather like Gandalf’s, and muttering, “I don’t see why I’m always being called to these things. A mistake, through and through, I shouldn’t wonder . . .” A girl and a boy in the front row, between a fair-haired prince and a large white owl perched on an empty chair, applaud and grin, shaking their heads.

“Ranger Halt,” Gandalf continues, before pausing and looking around.

The audience scans the stage in search of Halt, and for a moment nobody sees him.

“Wizards may not be late, but perhaps Rangers are—though not a certain other Ranger I know,” Gandalf mutters.

But just then, a shadow moves away from the dark curtain, revealing Halt himself, camouflaged in his long grey mottled cloak. “I’ve been here all along,” he says dryly, stepping forward.

“A fellow grey wanderer. I can approve.” Gandalf nods.

A rather small but wiry boy in the audience applauds loudest, between a girl and a hulking young knight-to-be. There’s a sturdy pony next to them where a chair used to be. I’ve no idea how they got it inside . . . Stealthy Rangers.

“And Prince Aethelbald of Farthestshore,” Gandalf finishes, ending the list of nominees.

An unassuming young man with a quiet, thoughtful face and deep, kind eyes, wearing fine clothes and a simple golden circlet, bows from the stage. A young woman in a white gown seated in the front row—with a smug-looking fluffy orange cat on her lap—smiles.

And the Winner Is . . .

“And now,” Gandalf says, “here at last, on this stage in Minas Tirith, comes an end to the voting and anticipation. May I present the winner of this award, a very remarkable man, and one whom I am glad to call a friend . . . Professor Digory Kirke!”

Cheering fills the air. A massive silver firework explodes overhead (no doubt why Gandalf was . . . erm . . . that is . . . not late). There are gasps and laughs of surprise, and a few more cheers. Gandalf chuckles.

Professor Kirke joins Gandalf in the center of the stage. “How did you manage to set that off while you were on stage?” the Professor asks. “Logically, somebody must have . . .”

“I may have had an assistant,” Gandalf says noncommittally.

“I love Minas Tirith!” yells a small, rather sooty hobbit figure before disappearing into the crowd.

Everyone laughs and I shake my head.

So does Gandalf, muttering, “Fool of a Took.” He clears his throat and turns to Prof. Kirke. “In recognition of your wisdom and guidance of certain young charges, Professor, I present you with this Silmaril.” Gandalf holds up a glowing golden sphere on a ribbon.

A hush falls across everyone as the gem shines out like the sun—or like an echo of the glimmer of the golden tree Laurelin from the land beyond the western seas many an age past.

Gandalf drapes it around Professor Kirke’s neck. “Bear it well, my friend.”

“Thank you, Gandalf, and thank you, everyone.” He turns to the crowd. “I’m quite at your disposal, I’m sure, and I’m honored that in your very careful consideration you should think me worthy of such an award.”

The Professor bows to the audience, to the sound of thunderous applause. Then he turns and steps past Gandalf to where last year’s winner, Professor Hamilton, stands. The two shake hands and smile.

Professor Kirke glances beyond him to where a great golden Lion, who was not there a minute before, sits quiet but majestic in one corner of the stage, his golden eyes laughing but wise—the ultimate Wise Counselor and the winner of the award two years past. A look passes between them, and Professor Kirke, feeling more like a young boy named Digory every moment, bows to the lion—who the next moment is no longer there.

“One last announcement,” Gandalf calls. “To the feast! There are a few hobbits here, who can be quite fearsome eaters in a pinch—or, well, at any time. If you want anything to eat, you had better get going before they eat everything—even though it is the finest feast King Aragorn could provide.”

There is laughter as everybody follows Gandalf toward the feast hall and its delicious aromas.

Well, almost everybody.

Halt and Rayad are on their way down the street toward a tavern to chat over mugs of ale.

Puddleglum is already planning on going back to fishing, muttering about coming rain.

Aslan is still nowhere to be seen (well, he’s not a tame lion), and nobody knows where the Prince of Farthestshore has gotten to.

Professor Kirke and Professor Hamilton are headed off in another direction for a quiet cup of tea, deep in conversation—discussing their adventures, their young charges, and (probably) logic.

“Yes, and after all of that, with the dragon slayer and everything, I was quite done with teaching there,” Professor Hamilton is saying.

And Professor Kirke’s voice floats back as they walk out of sight together: “My dear chap, of course you were. Bless me, what do they teach them at these schools?”

Fin

Thanks for joining us for the awards presentation ceremony of the Wisest Counselor Silmaril Award!

You can find the rest of the winners here (some are still to be announced in the coming days).

For those curious, here are the final results:

  1. Professor Digory Kirke (The Chronicles of Narnia) 86 votes / 43%
  2. Halt (The Ranger’s Apprentice series) 39 votes / 20%
  3. Puddleglum (The Silver Chair) 30 votes / 15%
  4. Rayad (The Ilyon Chronicles) 22 votes / 11%
  5. Prince Aethelbald (Tales of Goldstone Wood) 21 votes / 11%

As always, thanks for being a part of this fun fantasy character awards! What did you think of the ceremony? Who were you hoping would win? Let me know in the comments, and thanks for coming! ❤

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! ^_^