November's Challenges

Four Elements

The four elements--earth, fire, air, and water--are commonly used in fantasy stories, and Tolkien is no exception. Literally and symbolically, Tolkien's works are filled with mentions of the four elements. Beyond that, fan fiction writers often use this theme to connect ideas in meaningful ways.

This month's challenge asks you to write four pieces, each of the four centered around a different one of the four elements. You are welcome to be as ambitious as you'd like with this project, and entries ranging from four hundred-word drabbles to four full-length stories are all welcome. Or four poems, or four nonfiction pieces, each exploring a topic that can be tied back to one of the four elements.

The ideas are limitless, but here are some possibilities:

The Quote of the Month Challenge

The Quote of the Month challenge asks you to write based on the themes and thoughts the quote inspires or about the event in which the quote occurred. You may write in any format--poem, story, essay, or drabble--with any characters, genre, or rating.

“And Varda hallowed the Silmarils, so that thereafter no mortal flesh, nor hands unclean, nor anything of evil will might touch them, but it was scorched and withered; and Mandos foretold that the fates of Arda, earth, sea, and air, lay locked within them. The heart of Fëanor was fast bound to these things that he himself had made.”
-The Silmarillion, “Of the Silmarils and the Unrest of the Noldor”

Character of the Month: Námo Mandos

A few months ago, I wasn't in the mood to work yet found myself curious about how other Tolkienites' interests compared to my own, and so I devised a completely frivolous poll and posted it in my LiveJournal. One of the questions asked people to choose their favorite Vala. Mine has always been Námo, but since my tastes in fiction are sometimes rather dark, I thought myself alone in this.

Apparently not. Námo won that day, and since then, I have read some stories involving him that are intriguing, complex, and thought-provoking. This month, I wanted to deviate the character of the month from the Children of Eru and consider some of the world's makers--the Ainur--and Námo seemed an intriguing choice.

Pronouncing dooms, making judgments, and guarding the spirits of the dead...Námo is indeed a fascinating character whose purpose and personality often seem shrouded in mystique. Tolkien himself said that little is known about what went on in the Halls of Mandos, and as a result, this has become a fun playground for many fanfic writers. This month, we honor the character of Námo and all fiction that dares to explore the character of the mysterious Vala a little deeper. As usual, please feel free to share your stories and thoughts on this character (and any others that catch your fancy!) or toss a few story recommendations out for those eager to learn more about Námo Mandos.

News and Announcements

Volunteers Needed

As I announced last month, I have purchased for our group the domain This will become the online home for our group (though the LiveJournal and Yahoo! groups will remain in existence and hopefully as active as they are now!) and, eventually, a fiction archive where we can share our Silmarillion writing. I have a basic website designed already, but there is some old material in the Yahoo! archives and LiveJournal that I would like to put up on the website. Several members have expressed their interest and willingness in helping to work in HTML, so if anyone is available and wants to help out, I would be very grateful!

At the moment, I would first like to get all of our old newsletters ready to put up on the webpage. This is a simple matter of copying, pasting, and inserting the necessary HTML tags; unfortunately, it's not something that I have room to fit on my own agenda for this month. Even if you have time to only convert a few old newsletters, that would put me that much closer to getting them all finished and publicly available.

I ask only that volunteers for this task have some basic understanding of HTML. By "basic," I mean very basic--enough to insert paragraph and heading tags and do minimal work with changing the style of text. The layout of the webpage is entirely based in CSS, so no knowledge of layout or tables is necessary. I will send anyone interested a newsletter shell into which to copy and paste the material.

Additionally, I have been trying for some time now to get our LiveJournal community properly tagged to make finding stories by a particular author or on a particular character a single click away. However, it has become fairly clear to me also that this is something that I would love to do but will never get to in time to tag all of our old entries. Anyone who would be willing to help me with tagging old LJ entries would be much appreciated by me and by readers on our LJ who, at the moment, are left navigating more than a year's worth of archive material. All that you need for this task is an understanding of how the LiveJournal tagging system works. If you aren't entirely clear on this, I'd be happy to help you out. Again, even if you can only tag a month or two, that would be a tremendous help!

If you are interested in either or both of these jobs, please email me or leave a comment in this entry with a way that I can contact you. Again, all help is appreciated!

My Website Goals

My goal this month is to get all of our files updated and transferred to the new host. I am in the process of writing an email that doesn't want to end to our other moderators so that we can get an idea of where we will be focusing our energy in the coming months. As usual, member ideas and input is highly appreciated, so feel free to email me at any time if you have any ideas, suggestions, or want to help out.

National Novel Writing Month

This month is National Novel Writing Month (popularly known as NaNoWriMo), and I know that many of our members will be particpating! Best of luck to everyone writing novels this year and may the muses smile upon you!

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