My Life’s Tower of Fantasy

Here at the end of all things, Samwise Gamgee the end of the second Silmarillion Awards, wherein we celebrate all things fantasy, Tolkien, and favorite characters, I have a bit to say about these things and their importance to me in my life so far.

So today, the 63rd birthday of The Fellowship of the Ring’s publication, seemed a good time to do so.

*distant cries of “Happy birthday!” and Bilbo saying (un?)complimentary things concerning knowing people half as well as he should like etc.*

*also birthday cake for one and all*

*and 63 still-burning candles to feed to your dragon*

(You’re welcome. I hope he likes wax.)

Warning:

The following is a somewhat lengthy post that is more of an essay than many posts I’ve written (don’t worry, it’s broken into segments with handy headers, so you might survive), and contains such things as Middle-earth, Diana Wynne Jones, Prydain, Stephen Lawhead, epic heroines, tower metaphors, nostalgia of some books/series that have shaped me, and how wonderful and life-changing Fantasy can be.

If this does not sound like your cup of tea, turn around and flee — for here in the realm of Faerie and Fantasy, truths are hidden behind every tree, characters are noble as can be, fancy runs free, and here . . . there be dragons.

On The Silmarillion

This month, using the Silmarillion Awards as a much-needed excuse, as I was re-reading The Silmarillion for the first time in many years, it startled me how much it felt like coming home. I used to read that book (as well as The Lord of the Rings, etc.) a lot when I was younger and just discovering the amazing worlds of Middle-earth. I lived in Middle-earth and The Lord of the Rings and The Hobbit, but I lived in Beleriand in The Silmarillion too, and in a sense that was more “mine” since fewer people were into it than LOTR. The Silmarillion and surrounding mythology was like my special world that I went to live in, learning to write the Tengwar Elvish alphabet in calligraphy, studying maps, creating family trees of all the characters I knew by name…

It’s been a lovely journey, returning there and meeting these long-lost friends in this place I’ve been absent from far too long. I’m also bringing more to it now at a slightly older age, which has been fascinating. I’m aware The Silmarillion might not be for everyone, but it’s extremely special to me. I met it at a younger age and was so immersed in it that I knew all the names so well that returning was like going home and meeting old friends.

On The Tower of Fantasy

I’ve been thinking about the impact Tolkien’s works and other beloved works of fantasy have had on my life. Looking back, I can trace a few books and series that stand out as those important, life-changing, core-of-your-being books that I believe everyone (or all bookworms, at least) have. Those ones that are so much a part of you that, consciously or unconsciously, you are changed by them and they inform much of who you are and what your life is, your tastes in fiction (and in writing, if you’re a writer like me), and form a core part of your heart. They are different through the years, and that’s how I measure parts of my life (about three or four of them so far, I think) — by what was the most ME books I was reading or loving or living at the time.

Imagine your life is a tower that you are slowly building as the years go on. I see those books as the building blocks of the tower of my own life, the stones of my foundations (or at least, for the purposes of this post, the foundation for my love of fantasy in both reading and writing, which is what I’m here to talk about) that come and go in a way as I gain new interests, so that sometimes it feels like betrayal . . . How could you move on? But I can always go back down the winding stairs of the tower and visit them again, and they’ll always be a part of me. They all inform who I am, and what my reading taste is, and how I think, and what I want to be and do, and most especially (for this writer) what I write as well.

I can see blocks of time in this Fantasy Tower of my life.

Level One: Prydain and MacDonald

It started with George MacDonald’s The Princess and the Goblin, and Lloyd Alexander’s Prydain Chronicles. I don’t know which were first, I only know, looking back, that they were very early and, I believe, introduced me to Fantasy. Those are at the base of the tower; they were the first, and I read them and was enchanted. I LIVED in those worlds, and I loved those stories and characters so much. I still do, as with all of these. I’m afraid some of my earliest writings bore an uncanny resemblance to both those works, but we all start somewhere, yes? 😉

So, first was my beginning years of loving fantasy, with MacDonald and Prydain. (I believe Narnia came in somewhere around there a little after, and other works of Fantasy, though I don’t know how extreme their influence was.) That’s the first layer of stones at the base of the tower of Fantasy. They’re awhile ago from when I was younger and wasn’t aware of my tower, so it’s a little jumbled and vague, hidden in mists near the ground, and more instinctive than my deeper understanding of the later portions as I grew older, as I look back and remember better.

(Do you know why it’s called “in the mists of time”? Because YOU CAN’T SEE VERY WELL INTO IT. Ahem. Foggy memories… *shakes head*)

Level Two: Tolkien

The next really big thing, which is the largest on the fantasy tower so far, was Tolkien.

I read The Hobbit at one point, and then I later read The Lord of the Rings for the first time when I was ten or so, I believe. Some writers (and readers) come to Tolkien first, as their big fantasy introduction, but for me I already had the groundwork of fantasy laid; Tolkien served to strengthen it and built the next part of the tower, and was a focus of mine for many years, my absolute favorite. As I mentioned, I was enchanted and fell in love with these books, and went on to read The Silmarillion (several times), as well as reading any other works, finished or unfinished, by Tolkien that I could get my hands on. But not only were these stories, this world, these characters and languages, epic and beautiful and beloved and some of my favorites of all time, but the author himself simply seemed . . . right.

Tolkien was a kindred soul, and I know that sounds pompous to say, but when I read his letters and thoughts, I find myself agreeing with him and thinking “Oh! Yes! I’m just like that!” on so many levels. He and I just agree so well and have such similar temperaments. I’m not saying I’m anywhere near his level of talent or genius etc., I’m merely saying that he and I click, in a way that no other author that I can currently think of who I’ve run across does.

Tolkien’s works remain the next solid layer of my Fantasy tower, a very large portion of it, and still inform so much of my life and core personality and interests today.

Level Three: Diana Wynne Jones

(also concerning strawberry icecream)

Then, in 2012, I read Howl’s Moving Castle on a highly-trusted recommendation, and discovered Diana Wynne Jones. This is the third layer of my Fantasy tower. As some who read my blogs might have noticed, I’ve been very big on DWJ for awhile now. XD I’m captivated by and addicted to her books, particularly certain ones which have just stuck with me really well. I love her writing style and the humor she always had in her books, and her quirky but charming and lovable characters, and the absolute originality of her fantasy, mashed together with other genres to make her books unpigeonholeable (not a word, but should be), as well as how I always learn things about life and the world and people when I read her works. I’ve seen a bit of an influence on my writing as well, wanting to write more whimsical and amusing things.

It’s funny: when I decided Howl’s Moving Castle shared my top-favorite spot with The Lord of the Rings, and have been very DWJ focused, I didn’t realize (until recently) this thing about the Tower of Fantasy, how I can have different stages and favorites; and because I had just come from the Tolkien stage, I felt disloyal to Middle-earth, as if loving something else as well meant that I was betraying it by not loving ONLY it.

But I’ve realized that we have different stages in our lives, and that’s okay — it doesn’t make the previous stages any LESS important or less a part of you, you’re just on a different part of your journey so different things are more important right now. It’s not a betrayal. It’s growth and continuing and layers over the core.

I’ve always thought of myself as the girl who loves Middle-earth and the color green and Celtic music and chocolate and writes medieval fantasy. That’s still at my core and I will always be that person. But lately, if I’ve been a DWJ person who loves the color blue and dabbles in Christian rock or pop and loves strawberry ice cream and writes contemporary fantasy . . . that doesn’t mean I’m not STILL that same person as before too.

Because I can love both, I can have different layers of favorites, different layers of interests, and it doesn’t mean that blue or green or chocolate or strawberry are better than each other, or that in trying other kinds of books, music, and genres, that I’m abandoning the ones I used to have. I can do all of it, and it can all be me.

This is a slight tangent, but I feel like I need to address it while on the subject of moving through different books that are your favorites at the time. It’s okay to have different favorites at different times in your life, and it’s not being disloyal. I’m saying this partly to remind myself (especially when I feel bad about not having re-read some of these favorites in several years; I still plan to sometime), and partly in case anyone is having problems with it like I have. XD

I still interchange LOTR and Howl’s Moving Castle as my “favorite” books (and let’s be honest, sometimes I put Paper Crowns by Mirriam Neal up there because I love it and it’s amazing) but hey, I can have more than one top-favorite, right? 😉

Level Four? (Bright Empires)

It’s always hard to know, while you’re currently on a part of the tower, if something you’re reading is going to be the next part or if it’s just another great fantasy work but not quite a core one. But I think and suspect that, perhaps (time will tell), my latest addition to the Fantasy Tower of my life are Stephen R. Lawhead’s works. I just read his Bright Empires series, and while (like I said) I can’t be sure whether or not they’re the next ring of building blocks for my tower, at the very least, it’s the best series I’ve read in a long time.

Definitely favorites, the Bright Empires books have expanded my mind so much, broadened my horizons, were thoroughly epic, mind-boggling, and fun, with beloved characters, and introduced me to the first heroine in a very long time who I want so hard to be, namely Mina. She inspires me so much. Plus, the books are simply masterpieces. I think very differently after reading these books, I clicked so well with them, and they were absolutely amazing.

Speaking of Mina, let’s talk about heroines for a minute, since the award I hosted was Most Epic Heroine.

Of Heroines

Heroines are hard to write, my friends. One strange thing about my personality is that I rarely come across a favorite female character. I think it’s because I’m a girl and I find that it’s harder for an author to write a girl character that I actually like, because I am one and we’re complicated, and the fictional girls often end up either too tough or too wimpy, neither of which I like. I more often am interested in the male characters, who are generally cooler and doing more interesting things. I do run up against female characters that I like sometimes, and that’s often a sign that the author is a good one.

But there have only been a handful that have stood out as my favorites, the ones who at some level I feel like are ME, and at another level I feel like are what I want to be, what I want to become, what I want to take and emulate because they are noble and good and show some part of humanity that I want to BE. They make me want to be a better person, while I also feel like I am them.

And those are basically:

  • Princess Irene from The Princess and the Goblin
  • Princess Eilonwy from the Chronicles of Prydain
  • Eowyn from The Lord of the Rings
  • Luthien Tinuviel from The Silmarillion
  • Wilhelmina “Mina” Klug from the Bright Empires series.

(I think on some level, I was Lucy from Narnia when I was younger, and many of Diana Wynne Jones’ characters have been instant connections for me, like Sophie and others, as well, though I haven’t thought as much about those for this post; likely because they’re more recent for me but not as mind-blowing as Mina was — who was the character that got me started thinking about all of this — so I haven’t thought them out as much.)

(Also, I find this a good time to mention the dedication in The High King by Lloyd Alexander, which I never understood until now: “For the boys who might have been Taran and the girls who will always be Eilonwy.“)

Of Heroism/Nobility versus Mediocrity/”Realism”

And I think it’s important to have favorite characters one can look up to, have as role models, but still feel you are like them. There’s a sort of connection there that is marvelous. Heroes tend to be more favorites of mine than heroines, and I can learn things from them as well, of course, and they’re simply awesome sometimes, so there’s that; but I can’t exactly BE them, quite the way I can be a heroine like Eilonwy or Mina.

I think these heroines stand out to me partly because it is so rare for me to find a timeless one like that. There are many other noble and wonderful heroines I’ve liked over time, don’t get me wrong! Some even other favorites. But these are my FAVORITE favorites, the ones I want to be like. 🙂

And that’s part of why I’m tired of this “make them relatable and ‘realistic’ by giving them flaws and making them fallen and ordinary” trend in modern writing.

No.

I don’t want mediocre Main Characters. I want Epic Heroines.

If your favorite characters are mediocre, you’ll only want to be mediocre, you’ll only believe that’s how far you can go.

If, on the other hand, your favorite characters are noble and epic and extraordinary, then you’ll want to rise above your ordinary and mediocre, fallen and flawed life, and try to emulate them, to BE them; and these fictional characters who aren’t “real” can change your life and make you a better person. All by being fantastic characters. What’s not to love?

Things These Core Books Have In Common

What do all these books and series have in common? They are Fantasy, yes. But they each hold things that truly resonated with me — not just one thing but all the elements and the whole.

I love the stories. I love the worlds. I love the characters — not only the heroes, not only the heroines, but both, as well as the entire cast of characters, really. They have favorite heroes. I want to be the heroines. I want to live in the books.

“The typical expression of opening Friendship would be something like, ‘What? You too? I thought I was the only one.'”

(from The Four Loves by C.S. Lewis)

I also “click” with the authors — when I read things that these authors like Alexander, Tolkien, Jones, and Lawhead say (in fiction and nonfiction) I’ve had these wonderful “me too!” moments, those times when, like in the C.S. Lewis quote above, you form a friendship from a shared thought or feeling. We share the same truth. I feel like they’re kindred souls, and suspect that’s one of the reasons I love their fiction so much. (It’s interesting: when I love an author’s fiction work enough to try out their nonfiction, that’s when I discover my favorite works of nonfiction, essays, etc. It’s happened so many times with these and a couple other authors.)

And I learned things from these favorite, core books. Yes, shocking as it may sound to some, these fiction books, these works of *gasp* fantasy, have taught me so many things that, as I think about it, my mind boggles and I can’t even begin to explain all the things I’ve learned from these wonderful works of literature and art. (I did do a post about a few of those things, awhile back, but that was only scratching the surface.)

Because fantasy is true. These things may not have happened in our world, but they have Truth, and I learn things far better when they’re woven into a tale (a parable, perhaps?) than I can reading some boring textbook. I can see the things unfolding and understand things about the characters and wonder about things and want to learn about them. Fantasy may not always teach “facts” like how big the sun is or how many threes make a dozen (though they might teach that too), but they teach me real things about life and about love and about how people work and how to surmount obstacles and to try to be a better person like my heroes (and heroines).

I don’t know if these fantasy authors try to put these things in their works (I know I certainly don’t, but sometimes things creep in somehow), or if they simply are trying to tell a good story and their worldviews are shining through the particular leaf of the Tree of Tales that they are telling and coming out as good wholesome lessons from the Writer of all Lives, but regardless, I’ve found so much Truth in these and other works of fantasy.

And all of that as a bonus to reading simply amazing fantastical stories about fabulous characters in imaginative worlds. What is not to love? Who would have thought it, but Fantasy is fantastic in all meanings of that word, and that is why I love it as I do.

Plus, I mean, Fantasy has dragons. And there’s the icing on the cake.

*passes around the last of the LOTR birthday celebration cake and breaks out Gandalf’s fireworks to celebrate Middle-earth and Fantasy with a literal bang*

(P.S.: If you have a Fantasy/LOTR themed post this week, feel free to share the link in the linky over on Jenelle’s post!)

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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! 🙂

#SilmAwards2017 Award Presentations Begin This Week!

Just a very small, quick announcement-y post today . . .

The votes are counted, the results are in, and now it’s time for the winners of the best fantasy book characters in the Second Annual Silmarillion Awards to be presented!

(Never gets old. XD)

Here’s the schedule and the links of where to go to “attend” the 2017 Award Presentations for each Silmaril! So they will all be coming soon, and I can’t wait! 😀

Award Presentation Schedule / Participating Blogs

I only know the winner of the award I’m hosting on my blog, so I’m just as much on the edge of my seat to find out the other winners as you all are! Thanks to everyone who voted, and I hope you’ll all enjoy celebrating the winners, whoever they may be! 😀

Be sure to come back here next Monday, July 24, when a brave heroine of Middle-earth will be presenting the Most Epic Heroine Silmaril to the most-voted fantasy heroine, here on The Road of a Writer . . .

Now if you’ll excuse me, I have a post of my own to write for July 29th about my love for Tolkien’s works and other beloved fantasy literature, not to mention that I also have characters to manage for said Award Presentation Ceremony which must be prepared for all you readers next week, and the clock is definitely ticking . . .

So I will bid you Namárië for now, and I hope you enjoy the Silmarillion Award presentation posts throughout the next couple weeks!

Which award are you most excited about finding out the winner? Have you enjoyed the #SilmAwards2017 so far? Thanks for reading! 🙂

Most Epic Heroine Nominations! #SilmAwards2017

And so it begins, my friends!

The Second Annual Silmarillion Awards start today, so it’s time to nominate your favorite fantasy characters!

(Plus, don’t forget to enter the giveaway at the end of this post!)

The Silmarillion Awards are a just-for-fun “Fantasy Oscars” blog event to recognize our favorite characters from fantasy literature by awarding them “Silmaril” awards for best-in-category — more about it here, if you’re new.

We (myself and 9 other awesome bloggers, not to mention all you fantasy fans out there!) hold it in July to coincide with the anniversary of the publication of The Lord of the Rings. This is the perfect year, too — did you know Tolkien’s earliest pennings of the tales of The Silmarillion can be found in notebooks dating as far back as 1917? That’s 100 years ago, people! :O

The Silmarillion Awards is one of my favorite times of year — a time to celebrate all things Tolkien and fantasy, particularly the beloved inhabitants of our favorite fantasy books!

Here on this blog, I’m hosting . . .

The “Most Epic Heroine” Silmaril

The Most Epic Heroine Silmaril should go to a character who is a truly great heroine: she can be intelligent, brave, loving, with an inner or outer grace that defines her as a most epic heroine, willing to fight (either physically or with her intellect) against all odds for what she loves — a heroine beloved by other characters and readers alike; whether quiet or spirited, she should exemplify the spark of higher qualities which the great heroes and heroines of fantasy fiction hold.

This Silmaril will be presented by a certain shieldmaiden from the home of the horse-lords, famed for her heroism, strong will, persistence in the face of danger, and defeating a foe no man could slay, eventually finding her true place as a fair lady of healing; a graceful and truly most epic heroine.

And now, my fabulous fantasy friends, this is where you come in. These awards are fan-voted, which means you!

Nominate your favorite heroines here!

This post is the place to nominate your favorite epic heroines from fantasy, which you can do by commenting below! (Please mention the book the character is from, as well!)

If someone has already nominated a character you wanted to nominate, you can “second” (or “third”, “fourth”, “fifth” etc.) their nomination by replying to that comment.

The top five characters in each category with the most seconds/nominations will go to the next round of voting (beginning July 10).

A few guidelines…
  • When nominating, please mention which book the character is from!
  • You can nominate or second as many characters as you like!
  • Nominations are only open to fantasy characters, as these are “Fantasy” awards (hence, things like The Hunger Games don’t apply — since that’s Dystopian, for example).
  • Don’t nominate Tolkien’s characters (they’re already the standard for these categories!).
  • Don’t nominate a character you wrote (though your fans are welcome to!).
  • As lifetime awards, the characters who won last year aren’t eligible (though “Most Epic Heroine” is a new award this year, so there’s no one off-limits on that count for this one!).
  • Spread the word on social media using #SilmAwards2017
  • If you have questions that I did not answer, feel free to ask!
  • Have fun!

These awards are just for fun, so enjoy yourself and have a blast celebrating all things fantasy and applauding your favorite characters (including heroines! ;)) from fantasy literature! 🙂

Timeline

Nominations are open July 3 – 7, so nominate away! 🙂

  • July 10-14: Second Round Voting
  • July 17-28: Awards Presented
  • July 29: Fantasy Celebration

The Other Awards

Don’t forget to drop by the other blogs to see the other categories and nominate (or second) characters for those as well! (The other hosting bloggers have more fantasy giveaways too, so be sure to enter those!)

(FYI: You can get this gorgeous graphic by DJ Edwardson on a commemorative t-shirt or mug this year! For 10% off, use coupon code: TOLKIEN2017 [Proceeds go to support future Silmarillion Awards events.])

Giveaway

Speaking of epic fantasy heroines… I’m so excited to share a delightful giveaway with you here on my blog today!

Enter the rafflecopter below for a chance to win one of two epic fantasy-themed prizes, featuring great heroines as well. 😉

One winner will receive:

Firethorn Chronicles Prize Pack (Kindle copy of The Firethorn Crown, paperback copy of Midsummer Captives, dragon wing necklace, bookmark), provided by fantasy author Lea Doué.

I’ve read and enjoyed The Firethorn Crown, and as a retelling of The Twelve Dancing Princesses, it definitely has several great fantasy heroines! 😉

A second winner will receive:

A paperback copy of Paper Crowns by Mirriam Neal, provided by yours truly.

Paper Crowns is one of my top favorite fantasy books of all time, and also features one of my favorite heroines ever. 🙂 So it seemed like the perfect thing to give away! (Plus, everyone needs to read it. XD)

Enter the giveaway HERE via the Rafflecopter

(Giveaway is open for residents of US and Canada, running through July 3 – 9, and winners will be announced sometime thereafter. :))


So what are you waiting for?

Nominate away, my fabulous fantasy friends! Who will you nominate (or second!) for Most Epic Fantasy Heroine? Comment below through July 7th and celebrate your favorite heroines! I can’t wait to see everyone’s nominations! 🙂

NOMINATIONS ARE CLOSED; VOTING BEGINS JULY 10.

Life Lessons Learned From Fantasy Tag

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Tag time! And Fantasy time! At the same time — which makes it doubly exciting!

February is Fantasy Month (hosted by Jenelle Schmidt — go check out the linkup and short story challenge for more fantasy fun) and since Jenelle tagged me for this neat Fantasy tag, I thought I’d jump in and do it! 🙂 Thanks, Jenelle!

Rules

1. Link back to Jenelle’s blog
2. Use the image above
3. Tell us 5-10 lessons you’ve learned from reading a fantasy book (or watching a fantasy movie) – lessons can come from multiple sources, as well, of course
4. Tag 2-4 other bloggers to keep the game going

Lessons I’ve learned from reading fantasy? It might be easier to ask what lessons I’ve NOT learned from fantasy… which may be why at first I was having a difficult time with this! (Okay, that’s a slight exaggeration. But still.)

Here are just a few of the books and series that have helped show or further illustrate important things for me and are helping to shape me into a hopefully better person.

List (Because Lists)

1. Lloyd Alexander’s Prydain Chronicles, and George MacDonald’s The Princess and the Goblin, started it all and introduced me to the wonderful world of Fantasy — at least some of my earlier memories of it — thereby widening my horizons and showing me heroism first off.

2. J.R.R. Tolkien’s The Hobbit taught me (and continues to teach me) that it’s okay to be both adventurous and a homebody, introverted and extroverted, bookish and active, Tookish and Baggins-ish — there’s a place for each of these things, I don’t have to be just one or the other; that if I switch back and forth between them, that’s all right; and the place to be is probably somewhere in the middle… which I can therefore strive toward.

3. The Lord of the Rings taught me so many things that I don’t even know where to start–including nobility, selflessness, and pressing on when things seem darkest. Such a rich well from which so many things can be drawn out.

4. C. S. Lewis’s Chronicles of Narnia books showed me so much through Aslan, and continues to do so.

5. Patrick Carman’s Land of Elyon series (affectionately called “The Alexa Books”) helped show some things through allegory like about the Creator/heaven/happy endings and so on (also due to Narnia as well).

6. The Bright Empires series by Stephen R. Lawhead is teaching me a lot about life at the moment, particularly Wilhelmina Klug, “Mina”, showing me the kind of woman I would like to be (role-models exist in fiction for a reason, people). Also that nothing is a coincidence. About friendship, love, and loyalty, hospitality and kindness, and loving our enemies. The difference one person can make. That there is a bigger Plan in the universe which can make one feel so much less small and alone. And so many other things.

7. Diana Wynne Jones’ Chrestomanci series illustrates so well things about people and the choices we make, shying from wrong and choosing the right one — I’ve just been noticing the things in this series on my second read and it’s amazing.

8. Speaking of Diana Wynne Jones, Howl’s Moving Castle showed me a way to deal with things when I’m a coward about something (i.e. procrastinating) — that I can “Howl myself into it” as I call it… trick myself into doing things I need to that daunt me. In Howl’s words: “Not likely! I’m a coward. Only way I can do something this frightening is to tell myself I’m not doing it!”

Something as seemingly small as that can change a person for the better, and there are a million little things one can, and does, and will continue to, learn from Fantasy.

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When life seems insurmountable, it’s only natural to compare it to the problems faced in beloved tales of Fantasy — if I’m daunted by an event, I say I’m feeling Baggins-ish and want to stay home, and only need to try to be more Tookish to survive. If something sounds impossible, I can’t even count the times I’ve said, “Well, if Frodo can get the Ring to Mount Doom, I can do this…”

Fantasy in general shows me life in a new light, a new angle, so that it’s fresh and can be seen clearer than through the usual dusty glass of normalcy.

Fantasy taught me that happy endings are possible, that light is stronger than darkness, that love is the greatest thing we can give. It teaches me all the time through truths which are easier to see in other worlds than in our own, and through characters who face it all and yet still stand noble and true. It’s something to look at and think, “I want to be that way.”

Fantasy is such an entwined part of my life that I don’t always think of it as such — it’s as natural as breathing and makes just as much sense. It’s a part of me and I know I would not be who I am today without it.

I Tag…

Christine @ Musings of an Elf | Sarah @ Dreams and Dragons | Claire @ The Overactive Imagination | Tracey @ Adventure Awaits | You, fellow lover of Fantasy who is reading this, if you want to!

(Obviously no pressure to do it; just if you want! ^_^)

What about you, Roadlings mine? Do you love Fantasy (please say yes)? Has it shown you things? And are you going to pop over to Jenelle’s post with a linky and join the Fantasy fun this month? Tell me all in the comments! Thanks for reading, and remember that . . .

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