Newsletter: December 2011

Table of Contents

SWG News

FAQ Revisions

What is the question most often asked by authors who want to post to the SWG? Yes, that perpetual quandary: How does the SWG define 'Silmfic' or 'Silmarillion-based writing'?

Since our FAQs were written some time ago, we found that this is a good moment to clarify our answer to that question. If in doubt whether the story you’re planning to post can be considered a Silmfic, please check it: there you’ll find different parameters (sources, ages, races, places, characters) that will help you decide if our archive is the most suitable place for your story. We've revised the FAQ to clarify the eligibility of stories that feature characters and races that play a prominent role in both The Silmarillion and LotR/The Hobbit. Our policy hasn't changed; we've just (hopefully) clarified a gray area.

If you’re still in doubt, don’t hesitate to contact the moderation team at

Additionally, we have updated the FAQ regarding the use of images on the archive. More specifically, we have clarified the action taken by moderators when otherwise permissible images are placed in disallowed locations, such as story summaries. Rather than contact the member to ask that the image be moved, we now allow a moderator to move the image to a permissible location, then contact the member about the action taken. This saves steps for everyone involved.

As always, contact us for any clarification or assistance with our site policies.

Back to Middle-earth Month 2012

December is here and, together with the end-of-year celebrations, habitual complaints about extreme weather (cold or hot, depending on the hemisphere), and overeating, it’s time for us to think about our classic event--Back to Middle-earth Month--to be held in March 2012. As we did in past years, we will be holding this event together with our sister group, Many Paths to Tread, so the project we choose will appeal to the wider Tolkien fandom, rather than to Silmarillion fandom only. As always, we welcome not just writers but artists as well.

If you’re not sure what we’re talking about, please see our LiveJournal post about Back to Middle-earth Month 2012. If you have an idea for this year's event or if you liked a particular challenge we've done in the past, please let us know, either in a comment to that post or by email to

Finally, if you are interested in volunteering, or if you run a fandom group or website and your group would be interested in joining us this year, please let us know that as well.

Art Gallery Update

One of our projects for this past summer was to complete work on an art gallery on our website for our talented artists to show their productions. Sorry to say, six months later, we're not that much closer than when we started. Unfortunately, due to a bad case of Real Life, we have had to put off work on this project. We hope to resume work on the Gallery in 2012. Thanks to all who have provided us with input so far--your ideas and suggestions will be most helpful once we pick up work again on the Gallery!

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New at the Archive

Completed Works

At least Elegance, at most a Revelation. by Urloth [Teens] (1311 words)
Summary: Indis is strong, brave and loves her Queen so very much.

A Length Of Ribbon by Himring [Teens] (3694 words)
Summary: The fate of a bit of blue-and-silver ribbon before and after the Nirnaeth Arnoediad.

Beloved by Erurainon [General] (10854 words)
Summary: A dark and perelous quest to Doriath in the first age conducted by a captain from Eithel Sirion to defeat an uncoming Orc army. On his way he will meet heros of the first age and a certain hand-maiden of Melian by the name of Erulasse who catches his eye.

Beyond the Hither Shore by Erurainon [General] (2069 words)
Summary: A tale of a tale and of the history of a history bound in an age unknown and yet fitted to the spectrim of the realms of Arda.

Harvester of the Dead by Erulisse [General](1848 words)
Summary: When the fëar coming to Námo’s Halls suddenly consist of mostly women and children, the Vala of the Dead calls into question his ability to continue performing his job. A response to the prompt “Harvest”. Tied for First Place in ALEC September 2011 Contest.

In Darkness Bound by Fiondil [Teens] (466786 words)
Summary: In the aftermath of the Darkening, three kings search for meaning in the midst of tragedy. One seeks absolution; another, vengeance, while the third merely endeavors to salvage what he can from the disaster and protect his people from future harm. All may find what they are looking for, though not necessarily in the way they expect, for, as always, the Valar have their own agenda. 

Just Another Quest by Erurainon [Teens] ( words)
Summary: In the years of the Second age a rash yung man is forced from Numenor to embark on a quest as the Thirteenth Warrior. Inspired partly from the film and the book, Eaters of the Dead.

Narn-Beornoth, The Tale of the Lord Beornoth by Erurainon [General] (4422 words)
Summary: The inspiration of the Beowolf legend as it might have happened in the first age. Recounts the adventures of the lord of Hithlum in a mode and manner like to that of the Silmarillion.

Run Rabbit! by Chilled in Hithlum [General] (5143 words)
Summary: Tuor and Voronwë, travelling from Nevrast to Gondolin, stop to prepare a meal and as it cooks the young man tells the Elf of his former life as a thrall...

Strange Beginnings by Urloth [Adult](7187 words)
Summary: The elves were content and dwelt long under the stars of the forest Cuiviénen. After many years with many groups and cultures multiple and different rites of passage and ways of living will evolve. Under the ever dark sky a child awakens in the forest and knows only that she is young and her name is Míriel.

Works in Progress

A Light from Afar by Erulisse [General]
Summary: A series of drabbles centered around the theme of different types of light and featuring Earendil and Elwing. I hope that through these small stories some light may be cast on the personalities of these characters.
Chapters added this month: Chapter 1 - Sacrifice, Chapter 2 - A Voyage of Hope, Chapter 3 - Searching for Answers and Chapter 4 - Sharing the News.

Almaren by Silver Trails [Adult]
Summary: The events after the Spring of Arda, seen through the eyes of three Valar and an Oarni
Chapter added this month: Chapter 3.

Another Man's Cage by Dawn Felagund [Adult]
Summary: In the Time of the Trees, during the Bliss of Valinor, the young family of Fëanor experience the everyday triumphs and tragedies of life in paradise. But as Fëanor's genius blossoms and his sons grow into their roles in Tirion society, tensions build that will sunder the House of Finwë and drive the House of Fëanor to open rebellion.
Chapters added this month: Chapter 6: Maitimo, Chapter 7: Maitimo, Chapter 8: Maitimo, Chapter 9: Maitimo , Chapter 10: Nerdanel , Chapter 11: Nerdanel ,Chapter 12: Findekáno , Chapter 13: Findekáno , Chapter 14: Tyelkormo and Chapter 15: Tyelkormo .

Chasing Mirages by Russandol [Adult] †
Summary: A 'what if' tale of darkness, light, love and betrayal over the Ages of Eä.
Chapter added this month: Acceptance.

Of Draugluin by Huinare [General]
Summary: Wherein a denizen of Utumno is roped into a peculiar project, the repercussions of which are inescapable.
Chapter added this month: Cuiviénen

Of Stars and Kings by Kimberleighe [General]
Summary: The reign and life of Ereinion Gil-Galad.
Chapter added this month: Prologue

Pursuing with weary feet, the road called life. by Urloth [Teens]
Summary: Maedhros' suicide takes the Silmaril he bears deep into the embrace of the earth. For the eldar concerned this was the end of the sorry saga. For the silmaril in question it was not.
Chapters added this month: Birth ~ A sort of prologue and Úan ~ a monster is found in the night..

Telpetari's Tapestry: Tales of a Silver Queen by Kaylee Arafinwiel [General]
Summary: What was Celebrian, daughter of Celeborn and Galadriel, wife and cousin of Elrond, the Lady of Imladris like? We really don't get to see her, but these (mostly previously unrelated) stories will feature her along with her family.
Chapter added this month: Dear Naneth....

The Darkest Season by Elleth [Teens]
Summary: News arrives at the stronghold on Amon Ereb in early winter 506, and three Fëanorian soldiers find themselves faced with an unwelcome predicament. Written for adventchallenge on LJ.
Chapter added this month: Chapter 1.

The Prisoner and the Hobbit by Dreamflower and pandemonium_213 [Teens]
Summary: A prisoner in the Halls of Mandos, although grateful to be alive, nonetheless finds his days to be monotonous, that is, until a most unusual person, and one whose life was affected greatly by the prisoner's masterwork, accepts an offer to begin a correspondence.
Chapter added this month: Chapter 6: Distant Kindred.

The Traveller by Maglor Makalaure [Teens]
Summary: It is the tale of Kanafinwë Makalaurë, as he returns to Valinor and attempts to make amends for the deeds he has done, all the while struggling with the pessimism in his mind. He cannot decide whether life is really worth living, being torn between the love of his friends and family and a man who wishes to break him.
Chapters added this month: Chapter One, Chapter Two, Chapter Three, Chapter Four and Chapter Five.

The Word made Flesh by Erurainon [General]
Summary: A retelling of the gospel acording to John taking place in the first age. This tale is of how Eru so loved Arda and EA that he sent his only son onto the world so that all might be saved which is to say that he took the form of man and walked amung the great even as Christ acording to Christianity. This however is not a tale of preaching. My goal is merely to tell an interesting story and may faith decide the rest. Yet if herein is caught some faith of the truth of the word of which this is but a crude echo then indeed this may be acounted perhaps the greatest story ever to have been founded within the confines of this middle earth.
Chapter added this month: The Gospel Acording to he who the lord loved.

Short Works

A Binding Shadow by Erurainon [General] (647 words)
Summary: Of the shadow of Maeglin

Arrange Your Face by Agelast [General] (218 words)
Summary: A pair of drabbles about Fingon and Maedhros.

Dispelling Rumours by Kaylee Arafinwiel [General] (615 words)
Summary: Soon after Fingon rescues Maedhros from his imprisonment, the two Exiles discuss a rumour that has been spreading in Maedhros' camp...

Maglor's Star by Maglor Makalaure [General] (341 words)
Summary: Maglor asks his big brother for something.

Of the Ruin of Brethil by Erurainon [General] (895 words)
Summary: Of the deeds there done and of the vallor and yet tragic defense of the woodmen against those who invaded the lands of the Haladin after the deaths of Turin and Nienor.

Sand and Music by avi17 [Teens] (760 words)
Summary: "The only constants as time passes are the sand and the music, and the lingering ghosts..." Maglor wanders.

True Priorities by Himring [Teens] (101 words)
Summary: Celegorm's first reaction on hearing about the outcome of the Hunting of the Wolf in Doriath.

Library of Tirion

In the Seventh Age by Deborah Judge [General] (1360 words)
Summary: The final fate of Maglor son of Feanor.
First published; June 26, 2002

Narn Gil-galad by Earonn [General] (25528 words, incomplete)
Summary: The life of the last High King of the Noldor.
First published: December 28, 2002

Silver and Gold by Oboe-Wan by Oboe-Wan (13543 words)
Summary: Galadriel and Celeborn meet in Doriath
First published: July 7, 2002.


By the Shores of Nevrast by Erurainon [General] (105 words)
Summary: A brief lay of the grief of Arda and the shadow of Morgoth upon a traveler on a lonesome quest which ends in darkness.

Heartbreak by Adonnen Estenniel [General] (51 words)
Summary: Melian, on the topic of loss.

Minstrel by Erurainon [General] (59 words)
Summary: A lay of Glirhuin made in Doriath long ago.

The Song of the Seafarer by Erurainon [General] (87 words)
Summary: The lay of the strange fate of one man of the seas

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Character of the Month Biography

Varda Elentári


Varda Elentári, also called Elbereth (Star-queen), Gilthoniel (Starkindler), and Fanuilos (Ever-white),is among the better known of Tolkien’s demigods and probably the best known of the Valier, those among them referred to as the Queens of the Valar. She and Manwë reign from Taniquetil. They are described as having compatible attributes. She is known for her phenomenal hearing while he is given the ability to see farther than any others (1).

With him was Varda the most beautiful. Now the Ainur that came into the world took shape and form, such even as have the Children of Ilúvatar who were born of the world; but their shape and form is greater and more lovely and it comes of the knowledge and desire of the substance of the world rather than of that substance itself, and it cannot always be perceived, though they be present. And some of them, therefore, took form and temper as of female, and some as of male. But Varda was the Queen of the Valar, and was the spouse of Manwë; and she wrought the stars, and her beauty is high and aweful, and she is named in reverence. (2)

Many of Varda’s various names are related to her most notable accomplishment, which is the mythical creation of the stars. The name Varda itself means the exalted, the lofty, the sublime and is said to be a translation into Quenya of a Valarin title (3). She is also referred in Quenya as Elentári, the Lady of the Stars, and Tintallë, the Kindler (4).

How and when and in what form Varda created the stars is not a question which is easily answered. (See more on this in the last section.) For the purposes of a summary biography of Varda, it seems pointless and counterproductive to try to draft a better general biography of Varda than the one which exists in the Valaquenta within the published Silmarillion.

With Manwë dwells Varda, Lady of the Stars, who knows all the regions of Eä. Too great is her beauty to be declared in the words of Men or of Elves; for the light of Ilúvatar lives still in her face. In light is her power and her joy. Out of the deeps of Eä she came to the aid of Manwë; for Melkor she knew from before the making of the Music and rejected him, and he hated her, and feared her more than all others whom Eru made. Manwë and Varda are seldom parted, and they remain in Valinor. Their halls are above the everlasting snow, upon Oiolossë, the uttermost tower of Taniquetil, tallest of all the mountains upon Earth. When Manwë there ascends his throne and looks forth, if Varda is beside him, he sees further than all other eyes, through mist, and through darkness, and over the leagues of the sea. And if Manwë is with her, Varda hears more clearly than all other ears the sound of voices that cry from east to west, from the hills and the valleys, and from the dark places that Melkor has made upon Earth. Of all the Great Ones who dwell in this world the Elves hold Varda most in reverence and love. Elbereth they name her, and they call upon her name out of the shadows of Middle-earth, and uplift it in song at the rising of the stars. (5)

One would certainly believe that Varda/Elbereth is the best loved of the Valar among the Elves if one were only to have read The Lord of the Rings. Conversely, in stories of the Elves of the First Age and prior, as recounted in The Silmarillion, one hears a great deal about the unique relationship between the Noldor and the Vala Aulë and the special reciprocal affection which linked the sea-loving Teleri to Ulmo and Ossë. No one is described as invoking Varda in times of need during the First Age. Upon finding Maedhros unreachable chained to the cliffs of Thangorodrim, Fingon calls upon Manwë and is sent the eagle Thorondor to assist him.

However, in The Fellowship of the Rings, simultaneously with the readers’ first introduction to the Elves, one also learns of their admiration and love for Varda or, as she is referred to therein, Elbereth, “[t]he usual name of Varda in Sindarin, 'Star-Queen'” (6).

No one can deny that stars and starlight are compelling in myth, legend, and storytelling across diverse cultures. People in societies with Christian roots are reminded at this time of year of the story of the Star of Bethlehem, which guides the Magi to worship the newly born Christ child. Most adolescent readers of English hold as one of their first memories of Shakespeare the dozens of references to stars in the tale of the star-crossed young lovers Romeo and Juliet.

In modern American pop culture, Walt Disney takes advantage of the innate yearning for a magic contained within the stars, ever visible and yet untouchable, when he commissions, for example, the song "When You Wish upon a Star" for his film adaptation of the children’s story Pinocchio. Many English-speaking toddlers prattle “Twinkle, twinkle little star” as their initial attempt to raise their voices in song. The references to the firmament abound in cultural references ranging from the sublime to the ridiculous, from the interpretation of the heavens and the naming of its bodies within Greek mythology to Disney cartoons. In our primary world, we continue to look to the marvels of the night sky as a source of inspiration. Scientific explanation seems not to have dampened our primitive fascination. Tolkien touches upon that innate enthrallment when he writes that the favored creatures of his mythology, the Quendi, awaken and begin their lives in a world illuminated only by starlight.

Tolkien fills his work with references to stars for simple practical purposes such as to pinpoint the hour; his stars shine brighter against the blackest skies and dimmer in contrast to the sky which lightens in the hours closest to dawn. But his repeated allusions to stars are most often an artistic element inserted to add enchantment and poetry to his work. The vision of the first Elves awakening at Cuiviénen looking up in wonder at the glittering stars strikes a primal chord in the heart of the reader. Such attraction to the stars surfaces throughout his fictional history of Arda. In The Silmarillion, the House of Fëanor is represented by an eight-pointed star. In The Lord of the Rings, the flag of Gondor includes seven stars on a field of sable.

We rarely comes across more graceful prose or lines with a lovelier cadence than the words put into the mouth of Aragorn: “I have crossed many mountains and many rivers, and trodden many plains, even into the far countries of Rhûn and Harad where the stars are strange” (7). The tale of Tolkien’s most idealized couple, the mortal Man Beren and the quasi-immortal Elf-maiden Lúthien, is sung replete with its own distinct stellar imagery.

And in the glade a light was seen
Of stars in shadow shimmering.
Tinúviel was dancing there
To music of a pipe unseen,
And light of stars was in her hair,
And in her raiment glimmering. (8)

It is not surprising that Varda/Elbereth, the Queen of the Stars, is the deity who is cherished most out of all of her brethren by the protagonists in The Lord of the Rings. Arda exists without any forms of organized religion, while the Valar hover above it, usually appearing forgetful or at the very least remote. These demigods have a history of occasional interventions that become rarer and rarer as one nears the climax of the story of the Elves in Middle-earth. The origins of the Elves dating back to a period of starlight unrelieved by the light of a sun or a moon would make Varda as the star-kindler more visible to them than most of the other Valar.

Comparisons are made by certain Tolkien scholars between Varda and the Virgin Mary. Tolkien himself avoids making that direct association, although he does acknowledge an intercessory relationship with Varda comparable to that of believers in the powers of the Virgin Mary in our world: “The Elves often called on Varda-Elbereth, the Queen of the Blessed Realm, their especial friend; and so does Frodo” (9).

It is early on in the adventures of Merry, Pippin, Sam and Frodo—even before they have encountered Strider—when they first speak of Varda/Elbereth and her particular significance to the people of Middle-earth. They hear in the dulcet tones of Elves the song from which the following lines are taken:

O stars that in the Sunless Year
With shining hand by her were sown,
In windy fields now bright and clear
We see your silver blossom blown!
O Elbereth! Gilthoniel!
We still remember, we who dwell
In this far land beneath the trees,
Thy starlight on the Western Seas.

The song ended. 'These are High Elves! They spoke the name of Elbereth!' said Frodo in amazement, 'Few of that fairest folk are ever seen in the Shire. Not many now remain in Middle-earth, east of the Great Sea. This is indeed a strange chance!' (10)

Throughout the remainder of The Lord of the Rings saga, Varda/Elbereth is the one among the Ainur who is most frequently called upon and looked to for guidance and assistance (putting aside Gandalf/Olórin, of course, who is an active participant in the struggles of the people of Middle-earth). Legolas calls upon her, as do Frodo and Sam repeatedly. Galadriel sings of Varda in her haunting Lament, which is the longest piece written in Quenya included within The Lord of the Rings. It is not precisely translated there, but, instead, we are presented with words that are claimed to be a later paraphrase made by Frodo from his memory of Galadriel’s song:

`Ah! like gold fall the leaves in the wind, long years numberless as the wings of trees! The long years have passed like swift draughts of the sweet mead in lofty halls beyond the West, beneath the blue vaults of Varda wherein the stars tremble in the song of her voice, holy and queenly. Who now shall refill the cup for me? For now the Kindler, Varda, the Queen of the Stars, from Mount Everwhite has uplifted her hands like clouds, and all paths are drowned deep in shadow; and out of a grey country darkness lies on the foaming waves between us, and mist covers the jewels of Calacirya forever. Now lost, lost to those from the East is Valimar! Farewell! Maybe thou shalt find Valimar. Maybe even thou shalt find it. Farewell!' (11)

There Are No Galaxies Here

I had written more than half of this biography beating a deadline half to death already before I realized that I did not have the expertise to write intelligently about Tolkien’s cosmology, much less the time to acquire such knowledge. I have tried to give the reader the other most basic biographical details and some literary considerations. Most likely, this particular biography would have best been written by a student of astronomy. If you are looking for stars and galaxies, you will not find them here. However, the Silmarillion Writers' Guild does have in its research section an essay The Stars That Varda Made, written by Kitt Otter, which compares the mythical stars made by Varda and named in the texts in Elvish with identifiable matching stars existing in our primary world.

More importantly, this article does not concretely discuss the changes to Varda’s participation in the creation of the firmament of Arda and its actual physical makeup. Tolkien continually revised the physical complexion of his world. Along with that are the revisions of the works of creation and the deeds of the creators. In his short discussion of such questions in Myths Transformed, he gives us his late thoughts about the basis for discussion of his physical world:

The High Eldar living and being tutored by demiurgic beings must have known, or at least their writers and loremasters must have known, the 'truth' (according to their level of understanding). What we have in the Silmarillion etc. are traditions (especially personalized, and centered upon actors, such as Fëanor) handed on by Men in Númenor and later in Middle-Earth (Arnor and Gondor); but already far back - from the first association of the Dúnedain and Elf-friends with the Eldar in Beleriand - blended and confused with their own Mannish myths and cosmic ideas. (12)

Papers have been written parsing and comparing Tolkien’s evolving cosmological texts, from the earliest versions dating to drafts compiled in The Lost Road and Other Writings (Volume V of The History of Middle-Earth) all the way through Tolkien’s inclusions in The Lord of the Rings, and Christopher Tolkien’s final choices for the published version of The Silmarillion. One such article is “The Evolution of the ‘Queen of the Stars’,” (13) which is available online, written by Kristine Larsen, Professor of Physics and Astronomy at Central Connecticut State University, who has also written a number of other interesting articles on the underpinnings of Tolkien’s physical world and the evolution of his cosmology.

Her summary of the elements of the evolution of Varda’s role in the creation of Arda is as follows:

As with any mythology, Tolkien’s legendarium evolved in its repeated telling, leading to sometimes significant changes in the relative importance and powers of certain characters. This analysis has demonstrated that Varda, Queen of the Stars, is a vivid example of this character development. From her earliest stages as companion of Manwë who “played” at placing stars into the heavens, Varda had clearly become one of the mightiest of the Powers by the time of the publication of The Lord of the Rings, perhaps only second to Ilúvatar himself. However, in light of the ‘Myths Transformed’ texts and their related amendments to works such as the Annals of Aman and the Ainulindalë, one can speculate that Varda might have, to paraphrase Galadriel, diminished and gone into the West, if Tolkien had continued tinkering with the legendarium in any concerted way. (14)

Works Cited

  1. The Silmarillion, Valaquenta.
  2. The Lost Road and Other Writings, Ainulindalë.
  3. Helge Fauskanger, Valarin - like the glitter of swords, Ardalambion, accessed 1 December 2011.
  4. The Silmarillion, “Index of Names.”
  5. The Silmarillion, Valaquenta.
  6. The Silmarillion, “Index of Names.”
  7. The Fellowship of the Ring, “The Council of Elrond.”
  8. The Fellowship of the Ring, “A Knife in the Dark.”
  9. The Letters of J. R. R. Tolkien, in a footnote to 211 to Rhona Beare.
  10. The Fellowship of the Ring, "Three Is Company."
  11. The Fellowship of the Ring, “Farewell to Lórien.”
  12. Kristine Larsen, The Evolution of the ‘Queen of the Stars’, Mallorn, The Bulletin of The Tolkien Society, accessed 1 December 2011 through the blog of the BlogulSocietăţii Tolkien din România (Tolkien Society of Romania).
  13. Morgoth's Ring, Myths Transformed.
  14. Kristine Larsen, “The Evolution of the ‘Queen of the Stars’."

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Current Challenge

The Storyteller

'Each of us has been designed for one of two immortal functions, as either a storyteller or as a cross-legged listener to tales of wonder, love and daring. When we cease to tell or listen, then we no longer exist as a people. Dead men tell no tales.'
-- Bryce Courtenay

We have all come across them: storytellers. You know the kind. You're at a party, bored out of your mind ... until Uncle Saul walks in. Before you know it, you are engrossed in another of his wild and crazy stories.

Storytelling is an interactive art, using words and actions to bring a story to life while encouraging the listener’s imagination. In many cultures, storytelling is much more than entertainment: it is a way to pass on history and cultural traditions. Even in modern times, storytellers still hold a special rank amongst their people, from Naghāls to Bards.

This challenge is all about storytellers in the Silmarillion tapestry: maybe someone like Finrod Felagund enchanting men or long-lost elves who can treat passersby to songs and tales of old? What epic do they pass on and to whom? How does the crowd interact with the speaker and help him or her to embellish the tale? What is their way of life? What status do they have within their community? Are they a wiseman of the Edain or a wanderer hoping to earn some coin on the road? What drives them and what have they experienced?

It is up to you to tell their tale.

Challenges Revisited: A Gift of a Story

This December, as in Decembers past, we ask our members who want to participate in a challenge to write a story as a gift for someone else.

With winter holidays and the end of 2010 approaching, there is no better time--and no better way--to thank those who have helped and influenced us throughout the year. Whether a beta-reader, a loyal reviewer, or a good friend, writing a story for a person is way to say thank you or to show that you care ... and to give them something that they're sure to enjoy and treasure for years to come!

Our authors often write stories as gifts for other people. Check out all stories written for the A Gift of a Story challenge here.

Quote of the Month

There are two mistakes one can make along the road to truth ... not going all the way, and not starting.
- Hindu Prince Gautama Siddharta, the founder of Buddhism

Want more challenges? Check out our complete challenge listing for more than three years' worth of challenges to inspire your writing!

Have an idea for a challenge? Some of our most popular challenges have been created by you, the members of SWG! If you have a plotbunny gnawing at your ankle, a favorite quote, or a favorite character that you think might inspire others as well, please send an email to and we'll try to include your challenge in our next newsletter!

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Around the World and Web

Teitho: December Challenge--Alcohol

December is a month of celebrations, be it Christmas, Chanukah, New Year or some other holiday in the different parts of the world. It belongs to the celebrations just like delicious food and good mood. Yes, we are speaking about our December topic--Alcohol. In Middle-earth you can get drunk just like anywhere else. The deadline for this challenge is December 25th. The Teitho website has more information.

A Long Expected Contest (ALEC): December Challenge--Coming in from the Cold

In winter, there is nothing more satisfying and comforting than moving from the icy climes outside to the shelter and warmth within friendly walls. In relationships, there can be nothing more redeeming than moving from being an outsider to behind allowed the comraderie and support of friends, colleagues, and family. December's challenge is to explore the ways in which the peoples of Middle-earth find themselves moving from chill and isolation to warmth and inclusion. Entries are due by December 28. See the ALEC website for more information on how to participate.

The Inklings' Podcast

A new Tolkien-related podcast is now being produced and available to download and subscribe to for free! Find The Inkling's Podcast on iTunes!

Middle-earth Fanfiction Awards

The MEFAs are underway! We'd like to congratulate all the authors whose stories have been nominated. From August 7th to December 31st members will be able to review stories and their reviews will be visible on the website. See the MEFA website to vote for your favorite stories and find more information on how to get involved.

Around the World and Web is provided for our members to inform them of events in the larger Tolkien community. SWG is not affiliated with and does not endorse the groups that we feature in Around the World and Web, and we are not responsible for content on sites outside of our own. Please use discretion and caution when visiting unfamiliar sites on the Internet.

Would you like to see your group or event featured on Around the World and Web? See our Promotions Page for more details or email us at

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