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! ❤

Advertisements

When Writing Doesn’t Happen

When writing doesn’t happen, because life is happening and you can’t stop to write . . . it’s okay.

When writing doesn’t happen, because the worlds are alive in your head but they won’t go on the page yet . . . it’s okay.

When writing doesn’t happen, even though we’re halfway into the first month of that year you were really going to start working toward those writing dreams . . . it’s okay.

When writing a blog post hasn’t happened, because it’s late and your brain doesn’t function and your week has been too busy to allow time for writing a post . . . it’s okay.

It’s okay
because plans go amiss
and life goes awry
and all those dreams don’t always work out
but sometimes they work out better than you planned
because off the beaten path
and off the line on the map you’ve drawn
may be better than anything
you could have wished for.

It’s okay
because if the worlds are alive in your head
there’s no need to fear (like you are secretly fearing)
that they will never be caught on the page again
because that will only happen if you are afraid.
But there’s no need to fear.
Remember?

It’s okay
because two weeks is not make-it-or-break-it
especially when life is busy
and not having started toward that dream
doesn’t mean you’ve failed.

It’s okay
because if you don’t post on your blog one week
nobody will notice or care or be upset at you
and the world will not end.

When writing doesn’t happen . . .

. . . it’s okay.

I promise.

Because you can always try again.

Because the negative space of “I haven’t…” is not stronger than the positive space of “I have.”

And between the two is “I will” — a dream, and a promise, and a hope for the future.

So we’ll write when we can. And when we can’t . . . it’s okay.

When the busy week is up, or when the worlds are bursting to come forth onto the page, or when the new year calms down and you stop worrying about how much you’re getting done (or not getting done), or when the blog inspiration is there . . . then you will write.

The words will be there. Later. When they’re ready.

These are things I’m trying to learn, so I thought I would share them, in case they help you too.

Sometimes you need to try. But other times . . . you need to let the road surprise you, and relax on the journey.

Sometimes you find Narnia when you’re not looking for it.

And sometimes, just sometimes, when you’re not trying . . . is when you succeed.

And oh, look, I have a blog post after all. 🙂

Most Epic Heroine Silmaril Award Presentation #SilmAwards2017

The time has come at last, and you’re so excited to be attending the Most Epic Heroine Award Ceremony. You hurry to a door and knock quickly, hoping you’re not too late; the woods of Ithilien left you a little lost and you had to ask the way from a Gondorian guard.

The sun has just set, leaving the world in a twilight of stars, which is when the award presentation was supposed to take place. Hopefully you’re not going to miss it!

Light floods outside across you as the door is pulled open by a tall man with raven hair and keen grey eyes in a kind face.

“Am I on time?” you ask anxiously.

The man smiles. “We were only now about to begin. Enter, friend, and be welcome.”

He guides you into a courtyard edged with pillars of white stone, full of flowering trees and shrubs and many herbs, a breathtaking haven of a garden, lit with many bright lanterns as though the stars themselves were hung in the trees.

The courtyard is currently filled with a crowd of eager people staring at a dais at one end of the open, tree-filled place. You sigh in relief that you’re not late, and join the crowd, waiting expectantly.

The man who let you in mounts the steps to the well-lit dais and stands by a pedestal hung with a black cloth with a silver tree on it, which has an object sitting atop, covered by a gold-embroidered green cloth. A small mound of flowers lies over all.

“Welcome to our home in Ithilien,” the dark-haired man says, smiling. (You suddenly realize that it’s Faramir—the Steward of Gondor himself let you into his house!) “I will be brief, as this is not my day, but another’s. May I present the White Lady of Rohan, Princess of Ithilien, the shieldmaiden and healer Eowyn, who will be presenting today’s Most Epic Heroine award—and I, for one, believe her to be quite qualified to do so,” he adds with a quirking of the corner of his mouth.

The crowd laughs.

Faramir steps down from the dais to join the rest of the people, and smiles as he passes the lady mounting the steps, who goes to stand by a pedestal on the platform.

Eowyn turns. She is fair of face as she smiles down at the audience; her hair is like a river of gold, and she is clad in white, with a midnight-blue cloak with stars around the hem and neck. The audience applauds.

“Greetings, fair friends,” Eowyn begins, as the crowd falls silent in a hush of intent listening. “I bid you all welcome to the Award Presentation for the Most Epic Heroine Silmaril, which I am here to present. I do not know if I am qualified as such, although certain biased parties might say otherwise . . .”

The audience laughs again, applauding.

Eowyn laughs then too, merrily, like a tinkling waterfall. Then she continues. “But someone must, so I will gladly do this duty. I have here with me five heroines.” Eowyn gestures to one end of the dais-stage, where five figures stand among the pillars and trees to one side. “All of them are doubtless worthy heroines, but today, one of them will be announced as the most worthy of receiving this honor, as chosen by the will of the people here gathered.”

Eowyn turns toward the five heroines and beckons one forward. “In third place we have Cress of The Lunar Chronicles.”

Cress, a short, spunky young woman with an unruly mess of wavy blonde hair and a dash of freckles across her face, moves to the center of the platform. Eowyn takes a bouquet of white flowers from the pedestal and hands them to her. Cress accepts them, waves half shyly, half cheerily at the crowd (from which there are some cheers and a spattering of applause) and troops across the stage to the other side.

“Tying for second place,” Eowyn continues, “we have three heroines: Kyrin of The Ilyon Chronicles, Cinder of The Lunar Chronicles again, and Rose Red of The Tales of Goldstone Wood.”

At her name, Kyrin, a tall young woman with brown hair and grey-blue eyes, comes forward and takes her flowers. She smiles her thanks at Eowyn and at the applauding audience, her gaze sweeping each as if storing them away in her memory, and returns to her former place by the side pillars.

Next, Cinder, a thin, casually dressed young woman with straight brown hair pulled back in a messy ponytail, who may or may not be holding a wrench, crosses the stage, takes the flowers with awkward thanks, to the sound of clapping, and quickly crosses to the other side of the platform to stand by Cress. They put their heads together, chatting quietly.

There seems to be some difficulty with the fourth person, who has a slight frame all covered in somewhat dirty white veils so that not an inch of her can be seen. She seems reluctant to come out of the shadows, and appears to be having a hushed argument with the goat calmly chewing its cud next to her.

“I don’t want to be goin’ out there in front of so many people. I cain’t—” the girl in veils says.

There seems to be another voice—from the goat? But that couldn’t be . . . “Of course you can, child. Go on out just for a moment and have done with it.”

The veiled girl, Rose Red, crosses the stage and Eowyn hands her a bunch of red roses like her name. There is a lot of applause. Rosie mumbles her thanks to Eowyn and returns to her place by the pillars with Kyrin and the goat. The goat starts chewing on the roses.

“Don’t, Beana, you’ll be sick,” Rosie is heard to mutter.

“Bah,” scoffs the goat.

“And now,” Eowyn announces in a clear ringing tone, “last of all, in first place, we have the long-awaited winner of the Most Epic Heroine Silmaril. May I present:

Lucy Pevensie, Queen Lucy the Valiant, of the land of Narnia.”

The courtyard erupts into thunderous applause and cheering as a girl comes laughing out of the shadows and crosses on light feet to the center of the platform.

She is merry of face, a light of joy about her as she seems to be drinking in the beauty of the place, of the garden courtyard under the stars. From her shoulder is slung a bottle that looks like it is made of diamond, and at her side is a gleaming dagger. She moves to stand by Eowyn.

“Welcome, Queen Lucy,” Eowyn says. “I am told that you too are a healer and shieldmaiden as the circumstances require; that you are brave and kind, valiant and loving, and have the heart of a lion. May I present to you the title of Most Epic Heroine and this Silmaril.”

Eowyn sweeps aside the green and gold cloth and holds up the Silmaril for a moment for the gasping crowd to see, its beauty breathtaking, the lavender glow shining brilliantly across the fair faces and hair of both heroines on the dais.

Eowyn passes it to Lucy.

“Oh, thank you!” Lucy says. “It’s a great honor, I’m sure, though I don’t deserve it really; I’m sure there are others who should deserve it more, and I only did what I had to do . . .”

Eowyn smiles and says, “As a wise Lion once said: if you had felt yourself sufficient, it would have been proof that you were not.”

“I suppose that has to be true, when He said it; it’s just hard to apply it to oneself, you know . . .” Lucy says. “Well, thank you—all of you,” she adds, bowing a little to the audience. “I’ll try to be worthy of the title, and I’m very grateful I’m sure.” She smiles and waves. “I hope you’ll all try to be heroes and heroines too.”

The applause is deafening.

“Thank you all for coming,” Eowyn says when it dies away a little. “And now, friends, the hour has come—away! To the feast in the hall which is awaiting us during this time of celebration. Queen Lucy, if you will lead the way?”

The crowd cheers and streams under the stars after Eowyn and the laughing Lucy who goes first, shining the glow of her Silmaril to light the way.

POSTSCRIPT:
A NOTE FROM DEBORAH

There you have it, everyone! Congratulations to Lucy, and thanks very much to Eowyn for presenting. 🙂

For those curious, here are the results:

Lucy Pevensie from The Chronicles of Narnia 54%
Kyrin Altair from The Ilyon Chronicles 14%
Cinder from The Lunar Chronicles 14%
Rose Red from The Tales of Goldstone Wood 14%
Cress from The Lunar Chronicles 4%

Next up will be the Most Mischievous Imp Silmaril over at E. E. Rawls—I’m excited to find out the winner of that and the remaining awards!

And if you come back here on July 29, I have a special post about fantasy literature I can’t wait to share with you all. ^_^

Thanks so much for reading, everyone, and for being a part of the Silmarillion Awards! 🙂

FIFTY

(What? People who do NaNoWriMo are totally allowed a couple weeks of ignoring their blogs after Novemer 30th… *cough*)

1st order of business: This is my fiftieth post on this blog!

50th

2nd order of business: I managed to write fifty thousand words in November and therefore win NaNoWriMo 2014!

Winner-2014-Web-Banner
…Hence the fifty in the title. (Yay double meanings!)

This was my craziest NaNo yet.

And if you know anything about my first NaNo (completely pantsing the story, no idea what I was doing, had to write 8k the last day to finish), you will understand the full meaning of that statement. Allow me to explain.

My brain is tired so I’m going to do a list. Okay? Okay. List it is.

  • My story was not plotted because I had not had time before November 1st hit.
  • Which means I was effectively pantsing my whole NaNo. I’m a planner. This was not going to go well.
  • I was also MLing. NaNoWriMo Municipal Liaisons (that’s me; fancy title, eh?) are volunteers who organize local NaNoWriMo regions, so I was taking care of a regional forum, answering question, and helping organize and attend write-ins and other events. I was also writing regional broadcast messages to keep my Wrimos up to date and encouraged. This all may sound like a walk in the park, but when you throw it on top of trying to write 50,000 words and keep up with regular life… it’s gets a little less walk-in-the-park-y.
  • All of this, while I was getting ready for, and then gone on… a roadtrip. Out of state. For the last two weeks of November.
  • Let’s just say I made enormous use of 15 minute word wars against myself. And basically freaked out all month long because I wasn’t sure if I would be able to make it to 50k.
  • And I wrote a lot in the car.
  • A lot.

My view for much of the trip. Yay music.

I also wrote extra for a couple days when we were snowed in ish at my uncle’s longer than we thought we’d be.

View out the window. Who knew my uncle lived in Narnia?

Which brings me to my next point.

Snow.

Snow, people. As you may be aware, I live in that very big and very warm state known as Texas. Although it is not actually a desert full of cacti as many non-Texans seem to believe (at least not the part I’m in), snow is a rare occurrence. We get an occasional dusting. Every few years or so. Once, I remember we got two or three inches. Unheard of, I tell you! But on this trip… I saw SO much snow. There was like 8 or 10 inches at my uncle’s. It was so weird/awesome. I discovered, for instance, that the snow crusted on the top so that you sort of had to break through it, and you had to lift your feet high when you walked, because my goodness, that snow was taller than my boot!

(…Okay, so I don’t have all that much experience with multiple inches of snow. I’m from the South. Sue me.)

Moving on. And whoops, I fell out of my list.

Well, the long and short of it is, despite perils obstacles (and icicles. Another thing about traveling north-ish in November: IT’S COLD. ALL THE TIME. I was so happy to get back to my warmish southern sunshine, and 60 degrees felt so WARM in comparison. Normally at 60 I’m shivering in several layers of hoodies and sweaters. But after constant 20s and 30s and even getting to 14 degrees–seriously WHY?–60 felt positively summerish. After getting home, I sat on the steps in the sun and rolled up my sleeves and it felt fabulous. Naturally the weather is laughing at me now and it’s nearly freezing all the time, so I’m back to my normal winter state as an icicle, but the contrast was nice for awhile there…)

Obstacles. I mean icicles. They weren’t really obstacles…

…Where was I? Icicles and obstacles. Right. Despite obstacles of numerous sizes and shapes, I pressed on intrepidly. In the midst of a crazy last-day-of-NaNo all-day writing event, closed in at the library with several other kindred spirits all typing madly away… I made it to the other side, triumphant with 50,000 words of my novel Heartseeker.

NaNo2014dashboard

It needs a ton of editing, and it’s probably only about two-thirds done. But it was a fun crazy journey and I love the story so far and made the goal of NaNo 2014 when I was sure this would be the first time in five NaNos that I would fail. But I made it!

2014NaNoStats

The day I caught up in the middle there was at said uncle’s house in Narnia.

…Of course as soon as I finished NaNo, I promptly collapsed and wanted to do nothing ever again after such a long and stressful month of craziness…

There is that…

But still.

Aaaand this post is not 50,000 words, but seems to be rapidly approaching it, so I’m going to cease and desist regaling you all with my epic adventures, and leave you with a bit of a photo-dump of some pics from my trip. Enjoy.

On the road…

Train

A TRAIN on a bridge next to the one we were crossing. So exciting. Made my day.

Christmas scenes are all apparently from snowy places. And I managed to catch one. So beautiful!

Christmas scenes are all apparently from snowy places. And I managed to catch one. So beautiful!

orphan's song

The only book that traveled with me, which I was reading during NaNo. THAT BOOK. <3<3<3 I must review it but cannot find the words to express how much I love it. (Soon, though.) Also pines. Because PINES. (Pines do not exist very much where I live. So they are exotic and beautiful.

And a baby dinosaur I met. (...Okay, it was at a museum.)

And a baby dinosaur I met. (…Okay, it was at a museum.)

A very blurry picture of inside a cave I visited.

A very blurry picture of inside a cave I visited.

Typing at my uncle's. You can't read the "NaNoWriMo" on my hoodie very well. But I wore that thing nonstop in November and it kept me nice and warm. <3

Typing at my uncle’s. You can’t read the “NaNoWriMo” on my hoodie very well. But I wore that thing nonstop in November and it kept me nice and warm. ❤

This was at a restaurant. I thought of Sherlock and freaked out. Of course I took a picture.

This was at a restaurant. I thought of Sherlock and freaked out. “Lucky cat.” Of course I took a picture.

It should say "Except on Party Business" instead. Doesn't it know it's the month of The Hobbit??

It should say “Except on Party Business” instead. Doesn’t it know it’s the month of The Hobbit??