dawn_felagund: (silmarils)
I am still working on my rec list (Day 5) and my fanwork (thanks to Himring's thorny prompts from the Silmfic prompt generator!), but so as not to fall too far behind, I'm going to work a bit out of order for the Fandom Snowflake. I had intentions of doing three days in one post, but Day 9 got away from me a bit. It's no wonder. As I started to write, I realized how much I rely on my comoderators and how little recognition they get for what they do, most of which occurs behind the scenes. So I wanted to give this small gesture of recognition to the people without whom the SWG would not exist.

Day 9 asked us to leave feedback.

Send feedback to two fannish people — they can be anyone you want: a writer who’s made you happy, a moderator of your favorite exchange (not us!), a fanartist you avidly follow… There are so many possibilities. Just let someone know you appreciate their work.


I've left two comments on stories between yesterday and today; I'm trying to read more (and therefore comment more, since I try to say something about everything I read). But I also want to shout out to the admins and moderators who keep the Tolkien fanfic community so lively and vibrant.

We are one of the few fandoms that has created its own websites, archives, and institutions over the years. Some of these groups, sites, and events have been around for a decade or more. None of this happens without a lot of dedication and effort, often from a tiny fraction of the people who participate in fandom.

I work a lot behind the scenes and know how much goes into it. And because I'm the owner of the Silmarillion Writers' Guild and usually its public face, I get a lot of recognition for my work. But my comoderators do not because most of what they do is never seen outside of our circle of moderators.

Uli (ford_of_bruinen) has been on hiatus for a few years now. But without her the SWG would not exist. She was one of the first people to join, and she pushed me to promote and grow the group rather than sitting in huddled terror, wondering what I'd done and half-hoping no one noticed. In the SWG's early years, she was a friend and a mentor, when I was young and very new to fandom, and she kept me from doing a lot of stupid things and helped us as a group achieve a lot of great things.

Jenni (just_jenni) was our second moderator. She stepped down as a moderator to care for her son many years ago. She did a lot for the SWG in the years she was with us, and she was one of my best fandom friends, always able to make me laugh when I needed it the most and always there when I needed her.

Rhapsody. Oh, Rhapsody. Where do I begin?? She is probably the person who does the most for Tolkien fandom with the least recognition. I don't think most people know half of what she does. Rhapsody has had a hand in so many things: not just the SWG but Many Paths to Tread, working to keep Naice a Nilme alive, helping to run Quills and Ink for years, a major player on Open Scrolls Archive, a volunteer for the MEFAs for years, and a moderator for many years on Back to Middle-earth Month. She has been my right hand on the SWG. She fixed the site the time I accidentally deleted all of the challenges. She takes on the boring, monotonous jobs (like mucking the spam from our moderator email!) without being asked. She responded to emails with diplomacy and kindness when my patience was frayed to a thread. She is one of the kindest people I know, always urging me and our comods to give the benefit of the doubt. She is one of the people I turn to when I need to rant or cry, and she always has a wise word and a virtual hug for me. She's probably going to throw tomatoes at me for writing all of this! But I want people to know how much of our fandom is built on the efforts of this one extraordinary woman. If anyone wants to say thanks to her? Here are her stories; she manages to be a gifted writer in addition to a cornerstone of our fandom. Go review one or ten of them.

Tarion Anarore has also been on hiatus for a while. She helped us tag our LJ community back in the early years of the SWG, and we asked her to be a mod, and she stuck with us for years. Tarion was instrumental in shaping the group in its early years. There are few people whose opinions and judgment I trusted more, and she is one of those people who seems able to do everything: graphic design, HTML coding, proofreading reams of documents and policies.

Angelica has also been with us a long time and has done so many diverse things for us that it's hard to list them all. I admire Angelica for her willingness to always step forward and learn. So many times, I've said that something needs to be done, and Angelica will say, "Teach me to do it, and I will." She's also really good at catching my typos and mistakes (one English teacher to another!) and always pushing me to do better in what I write for the group.

Russandol has been a lifesaver so many times. She's the only one of us that codes well, so when we need something done, guess who we turn to? And she steps to the challenge every time, without complaint. She puts the newsletter together every month, which is a task that takes a lot longer than anyone probably realizes it does and that frees me up to do other things. I also trust her judgment so much.

Elleth is our newest mod. Even when she was our Tumblr mod, she still gave us great ideas and feedback about all aspects of running the SWG. She was a full mod a long time before she had the title. Elleth is one of the most talented people I know--a gifted writer and artist and a thoughtful scholar--and I am so grateful always that she has chosen to share those talents with us.

Oshun is not a moderator on the SWG. I have asked her multiple times, and she always says no. But I want to recognize her nonetheless. She has, to date, written eighty biographies about Silmarillion characters for the SWG. I think sometimes about how the newsletter always seems to arrive at the worst possible time, and how it is hard to carve out the hours needed to put together, and I wonder how Oshun comes up with such thoughtful and thorough biographies month in and month out. I know it is not any more convenient for her, yet she works through just about everything to meet a deadline. Her biographies are one of the favorite part of the SWG site and not without reason. They're an amazing resource, and when I get to copyedit them monthly, I often come away with the itch to write about that character, which is the epitome of skill and inspiration, in my mind. I also learn so much from them.

For a long time, I believed that collaboration didn't--couldn't--work for me. I thought I was too willful and opinionated to work with others. I thought that collaboration tended to end up with me doing most of the work while having to share the credit--that was what "groupwork" in school taught me collaboration was. My SWG comods restored my belief in the synergy of a good team. Because of every person I just shouted out, we have accomplished something on the SWG or done something better than we would have otherwise. They are the people who hustle to fix bugs or delete spam in the small hours of the morning. They are the ones who respond when I say, "OMG I don't know what to do." They are there whenever it is not convenient, but needed. They have to listen to me chatter at them, often every day, for years at a time! They put aside their lives and things they'd rather do to serve this group we've built together.

I am so grateful to all of you.
dawn_felagund: (silmarils)
Today's Fandom Snowflake challenge is to make a fandom wish list. I have skipped Day 5, not because I'm not doing it but because I'm reading a lot of stuff that has been posted recently in an attempt to create a rec list that includes both friends and writers new to me.

Here is today's challenge:

In your own space, create a list of at least three fannish things you'd love to receive, something you've wanted but were afraid to ask for - a fannish wish-list of sorts. Leave a comment in this post saying you did it. Include a link to your wish-list if you feel comfortable doing so. Maybe someone will grant a wish. Check out other people's posts. Maybe you will grant a wish. If any wishes are granted, we'd love it if you link them to this post.


Wish lists are hard for me because I'm very well treated in fandom in terms of feedback on my work, in the form of comments, recs, and people wanting to do stuff with my stories like draw or translate them. So to ask for more of those things when I already feel like I'm treated so well seems greedy and wrong.

So once again I have to think outside the box a little.

I'd like people who write Silmfic to post it on the SWG and to comment on stories there. Here are the twenty-five most recent stories posted on the SWG. Go comment on one of them! I haven't read them all, but some are superb! There are a dozen different authors represented there and stories about all aspects of the canon.

If you don't write Silmfic? Post to another Tolkien-specific archive and comment there every now and then. Here's a list. I don't know why I have such a sense of urgency about this now, but I do. Perhaps it was the demise of the MEFAs and HASA, one right after the other: those inviolable giants from my early fandom days.

Be brave once this year (it doesn't have to be right now) and say hi to someone new or tell someone whose work you've admired from afar how much you appreciate what they do.

And finally--a little more fun, perhaps--roll a prompt with at least four elements on the Random Silmfic Prompt Generator and either write that prompt or post it here and I will write it (or both).
dawn_felagund: (out of the light star)
In true Fandom Snowflake tradition, I have fallen behind. Fandom is, appropriately enough, the reason I have fallen behind. The beginning of the month is filled with posting challenges and compiling newsletters. My free time at home for the past two nights has been entirely consumed by fandom chores. I'm still not 100% finished and have a beta to do, but I'm taking a break to get at least a little caught up.

Day 3's challenge:

In your own space, set some goals for the coming year. They can be fannish or not, public or private. Leave a comment in this post saying you did it. Include a link to your post if you feel comfortable doing so.


Man oh man *rubs hands together* I love setting goals! I'm going to set three in different areas of fannish participation.

  1. Start writing the prequel to Another Man's Cage. I've actually started writing it twice now. Once, I got four chapters in and the files corrupted. (This was pre-Dropbox, which tells you how long I've been promising this prequel.) The second time, the magic just wasn't there. Three's a charm, right? I've been promising this story for years, so it will be my next long work, just as soon as I can wrap up Tamlin.


  2. Solve the eFiction problem. This feels so super ambitious that I'm kinda scared just writing it. But I am hoping that it will also focus me and allow me to make this work a priority.

    The "eFiction problem" is that we do not currently have a good option for fanfic archives. eFiction was a gift that was probably too good to last. It's beginning to show its age. Yeah yeah yeah, eFiction 5 is in the works, but I'm not encouraged by how long it's taking and also reluctant to go to the work of changing to something that would also become obsolete if the developer also abandoned it. Once bitten, twice shy.

    What I'm trying to do is to figure out how to make a fiction archive using a CMS. I've been studying Drupal and have looked into Wordpress as well. (I have to admit that I am in love with Drupal like whoa. I think I've been a casual Wordpress user for so long that I don't really recognize its full potential, so I need to give it a fair chance too before committing to Drupal.) Whatever I figure out--because I will figure this out, y'all--I will share what I learn so that as other archives want to transition from eFiction, they hopefully can do so. We need to keep our small archives alive.


  3. Finish and send out that historical bias paper. Attainable Vistas was initially almost twice as long because it contained quite a bit of original research demonstrating historical bias in The Silmarillion. The editors advised that I cut most of that and submit it as a separate paper to JTR or elsewhere. I'd already felt it was two papers and so was glad to accept this advice; I had worried that the paper might be rejected for lack of evidence and so thought to cover my bases many times over. Probably a rookie mistake.

    Anyway, because of this, I have an academic paper basically written. I need to finish that and send it somewhere. I have no idea where. My current plan is my usual plan of aiming as high as I can and being prepared to cheerfully aim lower if my hopes are thwarted.
dawn_felagund: (feanorians)
Here is today's prompt for the Snowflake Challenge:

In your own space, share a book/song/movie/tv show/fanwork/etc that changed your life. Something that impacted on your consciousness in a way that left its mark on your soul. Leave a comment in this post saying you did it. Include a link to your post if you feel comfortable doing so.


I would, of course, choose The Silmarillion. It is not my favorite book, but it is absolutely the book that has had the most outsized influence on my life.

 photo silmarillion_zpspycpzqog.jpg

I came to The Silmarillion as a newly minted Tolkien fan, having gotten hooked by the LotR movies, an interest that was only galvanized by reading Lord of the Rings and The Hobbit. My first copy of the Silm was the one to the right, with the weird cover that has Fëanor with graceful hands, flowing leopard-print scarves, and what appears to be an owl eating his head. The back of this particular edition, which is of course sitting right on my desk in front of me because I need to look something up in it at least weekly, reads:

The Silmarillion is Tolkien's first book and his last. Long preceding in its origins The Lord of the Rings [sic], it is the story of the First Age of Tolkien's world, the ancient drama to which characters in The Lord of the Rings [sic] look back, and in which some of them, such as Elrond and Galadriel, took part.


Now to a new fan such as myself, ravenous for more of LotR, this sounded promising! Elrond and Galadriel! I knew them!! I had no idea, of course, that the book wasn't about Elrond and Galadriel, who more or less have walk-on roles in The Silmarillion, but about a cast of dozens, everyone's name of which seems to begin with Fin-. I was also very new to the fantasy genre and really had no idea how to read a book like The Silmarillion. I went into it with my brain relaxed, expecting a frivolous sword-and-sorcery worthy of a beach read, instead of honing on every detail and storing away every name. I failed miserably in my first reading of it. I was about halfway through when Fëanor was mentioned, I looked him up in the Index of Names (the very fact that there is an Index of Names in the book should have been my first clue, no?), and realized he was someone important whom I should have remembered.

It was only because I was stubborn and embarrassed by my failure that I decided to give it another go, this time knowing better what I was getting into and more prepared to read the book as it needed to be read. And I fell in love with my second reading.

It sounds trite to say that Tolkien's world is rich but it is, and I am far from the first to become ensnared in Middle-earth via LotR. LotR, however, did not offer me the complexity of character that I had learned to appreciate in modern literature. I found that much more in The Silmarillion, where few characters are cut-and-dried good or evil but pretty much everyone is floundering around, trying to make the best of a shitty situation. That really appealed to me. The fact that the characters are barely sketched in made it possible to interpret them in myriad ways, drawing on my knowledge of human psychology. (I was a psych undergrad at the time.) When I discovered fan fiction, The Silmarillion practically begged for it: all of these complex characters only skeletally drawn. I found ample raw material for my own creativity.

And I found that The Silmarillion was only the surface of a very deep pool. LotR is a gateway drug that, if you're not careful, you'll find yourself before long flopped on a couch in a dim room arguing with a stranger on the Internet about how to interpret Laws and Customs among the Eldar. In addition to my creative side, The Silmarillion appealed to my intellectual side because there was not only a whole literary history underlying the creation of that particular book--meticulously documented in The History of Middle-earth series that I began to acquire despite my poverty at the time--but an entire pseudohistoriography. The result was a mashup of creativity and scholarship where the borders blurred. I was in love.

The Silmarillion and what it inspired of my creative and intellectual work has had reverberations through most of my life. When I picked it up, I had no idea what I wanted to do with my life, but I was terrified to imagine that my love of writing and creativity should be a major part of my adult life. Becoming involved in the Tolkien fandom through my love of The Silmarillion empowered me to embrace my love of language as a core of who I am. I went back to graduate school. I became a teacher. I eventually earned my MA in the Humanities and have had my scholarly work published. All because of The Silmarillion.

Through the Tolkien fandom, I have gained confidence in my skill as an artist, my voice, and the importance of my work. I have met amazing, lifelong friends whom I cannot imagine my life without. I have done things (like present at conferences) and learned things (like web design) that I never would have imagined as the young undergrad picking up The Silmarillion for the first time.

It's hard to imagine such a tiny action as picking up a book to read as having such far-ranging consequences. I still remember standing in the Barnes & Noble on The Avenue at White Marsh and holding my now-battered Silmarillion in my hands, deciding to spend my meager money to have more of this world, clueless that I had just decided to change my life. It's humbling and scary to realize that one's life is very rarely shaped by huge forces or in moments that one recognizes as turning points but in the tiniest of decisions that, looking back, set off a cascade of forces so that nothing was ever the same again. It is both frightening and hopeful to step daily into a world where that is possible.
dawn_felagund: (silmarils)
I am going to try to do the Fandom Snowflake challenge this year. Like all of it. I usually do a day here or there, but I've liked journaling daily as part of the photo-of-the-day (although if my performance on that is any indication, then I'll miss a few days of Snowflake as well).

Day One's challenge is:

In your own space, post a rec for at least three fanworks that you have created. It can be your favorite fanworks that you've created, or fanworks you feel no one ever saw, or fanworks you say would define you as a creator. Leave a comment in this post saying you did it. Include a link to your post if you feel comfortable doing so.


So *rubs hands together* ... let's dive in!

I've self-recced stories for Fandom Snowflake and other challenges before, and my stories are the first place my brain tends to go when asked for self-recs. But I'm going to mix things up a little bit and also, in the spirit of the Snowflake Challenge, break the rules a little by only reccing two things. But they are two big things! So maybe that counts for something.

I am reccing the two sites that I built and that I currently help moderate: the Silmarillion Writers' Guild (which I also founded and own) and Many Paths to Tread.

Really, as far as fanworks that define me as a creator, here you have it. Yes yes, I've spent many hundreds of hours writing stories, and I'm not going to play coy and pretend that some of those stories haven't been important to the Silmarillion fandom, but deciding to turn my energies to learning web design now more than ten years ago was life-changing and--I like to hope--something that shaped the Tolkien fandom in positive directions.

For anyone who doesn't know the story, I decided to found the SWG after a night of insomnia in which I decided that the Internet needed a Silmarillion-only group and I should be the one to build it. I chickened out immediately upon setting up the SWG on Yahoo! Groups (remember that?!) and LiveJournal, but thankfully I was found by Uli/ford_of_bruinen, who would become my first comod, and pushed me to follow through on my dream. When SWG members wanted an archive, I set about learning to do what I'd need to do to build one. I taught myself HTML and CSS from books and started working with eFiction. This led the LotRGen moderators to approach me about building a site for them. I was impressed with the fact that, as a genfic group in an anti-slash point in fandom history, they were open to allowing any stories at an R-rating on below on the site, regardless of the orientation of the couple(s) in the story. So I agreed to help them build their site, and that brought me to MPTT.

I say all this because I've been in the Tolkien fandom for a long time now, and I'm seeing things start to change in ways that I don't like, namely that Tolkien fandom is becoming increasingly comfortable with centralization, and many fans are losing their self-sufficiency in the process. Back in the day, there were dozens of homegrown groups owned by people in the Tolkien fandom, and it wasn't particularly extraordinary to do what I did and learn specialized skills in order to run fandom projects. Plenty of people who couldn't do much more than switch on the computer when they started in fandom learned to write HTML, design graphics, and manage online communities.

There are disadvantages to local control, whether in government or fandom and I won't pretend this was always utopian, but one thing was certain: We did not depend on the blessing or existence of anyone but ourselves and our own minds and hands to have our communities. I will be blunt: I dislike how centralized Tolkien fandom has become. I dislike the snide way people look down their noses at websites like mine because we're not as advanced as AO3. I dislike how everything is on AO3 or Tumblr now. And let me be perfectly clear: I am on AO3 and Tumblr both myself. I have no problem with either site. I like both sites. I was an extremely early adopter and supporter of AO3 and continue to think that they are very much a needed part of the fan community. Notice I said "part." Because AO3 and Tumblr are not the Tolkien fandom, y'all. WE are the Tolkien fandom. These sites will not represent and defend our interests when they are different from Fandom as a whole. If you need proof, just look at the AO3 piped tag debacle, in which AO3 told Tolkien fandom to go fuck itself rather than listen to feedback about a usable system for tagging characters and pairings. And our fandom is weird. Tolkien-based fanfic is more than fifty years old; we have a history and a complex canon that is unlike any other fan community. Our needs are and will continue to differ from Fandom as a whole, and we deserve sites run by people from our own communities that listen to our needs and interests.

For my part, I plan to continue to fight to keep my sites alive and relevant. They are my proudest achievement in this fandom, and I continue to believe strongly that they are needed and important. I hope Tolkien fans reading here will make more of an effort in 2017 to support a Tolkien fandom site or project. Post your stories to a Tolkien archive; comment on something that isn't on AO3 or Tumblr; volunteer to help with an event or challenge. It doesn't have to be the SWG or MPTT, but do something to keep our Tolkien fandom institutions alive.
dawn_felagund: (morgoth)
Important ETA: Over the past few days, I have been in correspondence with other Tolkien archive admins and the abuse team on AO3. It seems that my initial fears that this incident was "bigger than us" were well-founded. This person has been found on several Tolkien archives (although they don't seem to have posted as widely anyplace but the SWG) and may be linked with a chronic plagiarist on AO3 and ff.net. That makes vigilance more important than ever for all of us. Readers, if you see a story on an archive that looks familiar but isn't by the author you recall writing it, please say something to an admin. It is worth pointing out that we were able to catch and quash this person on the SWG as quickly as we did because we had several members who saw something that didn't look right and reported it. Finally, many, many thanks to everyone who has spread the word. I know it's been a lot of you. (This post was in the LJ Top 25 for a while!) /ETA

As some of you already know, we recently had a major incident of plagiarized work being posted to the Silmarillion Writers' Guild. Given what my comoderators and I discovered during our investigation, I have reason to believe that this is not an isolated incident on our site alone, nor is this person confining their activities to the Tolkien fandom. I have contacted the authors whose work was stolen, and my comods and I have also reached out to the admins of other Tolkien archives (MPTT, Faerie, SoA, OSA, and NaN*) and the abuse team on AO3 to share our findings.

*I couldn't find a contact address for LOTRfanfiction.com, if there is even an active admin on that site anymore. If anyone has one, I'll forward my findings there as well. ETA that Keith has been brought into the loop ...

I am sharing this information publicly here with the intention that it be shared with other admins and authors. Please feel free to link, share, and repost any of the information here. You don't have to ask. I don't care if you credit me (although doing so is probably practical so that anyone with questions about our findings can contact me directly). The important thing in my mind is making sure that this person is shut down before they can do more harm and empowering both admins and authors to do so. If your actions are done with that goal in mind, trust I am going to be cool with it.

A brief summary of what is going on:
  • Multiple accounts were used on the SWG to post plagiarized stories. These stories were stolen from multiple authors.

  • The person or persons behind this was/were responsive to feedback from our moderation team concerning what was allowable on our archive and actually exchanged emails with me on a couple of occasions. They were clearly not part of the Silmarillion fandom (I'm fairly certain they don't even know what The Silmarillion is) and may not be familiar with fandom and fanfic at all. But they were good enough at impersonation that it took us two weeks to catch on to them.

  • They appear to be stealing stories mostly from AO3 and Fanfiction.net. However, there is evidence that they are stealing from other sites as well, and we know for a fact that they have started their shenanigans on OSA. (We've contacted the OSA admin.)

  • They appear to be stealing primarily stories that are recently posted or updated. Again, however, this is not 100% the case.

  • They were insistent of their innocence, even after we found overwhelming evidence to the contrary. I don't know the motivation behind that; it doesn't appear that they were invested particularly in the works they had posted but seem to have selected them somewhat at random.



A version of this post has also been posted to the Stop Plagiarism community on LJ and is in the queue to be reviewed by a moderator.

ETA ... it is now also posted on Tumblr.

What Happened )

Screencaps and Links )

Summary of Usernames, Emails, and IPs )
dawn_felagund: (silmarils)
I want to thank everyone who sent me a birthday card for the SWG's 10th birthday. I was very generously treated and am grateful for each and every one. Quite a few had heartfelt messages that made me wubble hard and that I will cherish for a long, long time.

As a result of putting this together*, I am hella behind on pretty much everything else fannish, so if you are waiting on me for an email reply, a beta, archive stuff ... I'm huffing and puffing but slowly catching up! In addition to Alex (who is doing extremely well, though we are still waiting on biopsy results), things have been pretty heavy at work recently. I feel like my time has been crunched down to fit into a jack-in-the-box and springs out at random to bop me in the nose; I am back to waking up in a panic periodically, convinced that I've left something undone. (I have! Many things!) This weekend is pretty empty except for a hafla on Sunday, so I should have everything set to rights very soon.

*And, yes, a few people have asked: I did do my own birthday card album! :D That was my modly job, to upload the cards to Photobucket as they came in. Trust me, it did not diminish the joy I felt to receive such lovely cards and messages, and I pretended yesterday like I hadn't seen them all already and went through and looked at them again. My comods even set up an email for me, so I even got an email with a password like everyone else. ;) And Russa did use her mod access to sneak one past the form, so I did get a bit of a surprise!

It's hard to express how much the SWG and the people in this community mean to me. Starting this group was life-changing, and I don't mean that I spend a lot more time than I would have otherwise using Notepad to write code or debating the finer points of copyright law with my obliging comods. I mean that, before fandom and before the SWG, I did not take my writing or my love of language seriously. I forced myself onto any path but the one I secretly longed for, where books and writing and words were the chief delight.

I mean that I would not be a teacher, would not be working with at-risk kids, would not be a grad student in humanities, would not be starting to publish my scholarly work (would not have scholarly work) without the people in this community. I have been so generously treated over the years by people who have pushed me to see myself differently. To recognize my value in this world, which I was honestly struggling to do when, bored at an unrewarding job that I took only because I didn't know what I truly wanted to do with myself, I began to write Another Man's Cage and not long after set up the SWG. I sometimes worry that I can never repay the kindness and generosity with which I have been treated. The SWG is an attempt to do so, to create a version of the way I was myself treated, in hopes that others might continue to find their voices through the humble mode of fanfic. I am sometimes terrified when I imagine what life would have been like if I'd never discovered fandom, never started writing AMC, never founded the SWG because, for all my grumbling and complaining--some of it petty, some of it very legit--I am so happy in my life and am doing what I love and want to do for as long as I can do it, fighting the good fight to change the fact that "everyone speaks but few are heard."

So I am grateful to you all for what you've done for me over the years. And I am saying that to those of you who sent me a card and those of you who didn't but have been a part of the fandom, the SWG, and my life for these last ten years.

Thank you.
dawn_felagund: (feanor fall)
Okay, at long last, I am sharing the video of my presentation at the New York Tolkien Conference here. The full title (which will not fit in the space allotted for titles) is "The Loremasters of Fëanor: Historical Bias in the Works of J.R.R. Tolkien and Transformative Works." It discusses both the evidence for historical bias in Tolkien's works (especially The Silmarillion) and how the fan community uses that bias to create fanworks.



You won't be able to see the data and other visual aids on the screen behind me. That data (as well as a detailed synopsis of the paper) is available on my blog The Heretic Loremaster.

Also, a friendly reminder that The Heretic Loremaster does have a feed set up on both LJ and DW at [syndicated profile] heretic_lore_feed. Following this feed will bring new HL posts directly to your flist. Because my journal has come to be just that--a journal--it is usually the last place that I bring fannish stuff; however, I know a lot of people who friended me here did so because of our shared fandom involvement, so if you miss seeing that stuff here, the HL feed might help a bit. (Just a bit because it is infrequently updated thanks to my grad school schedule!) Also, please remember that I have no ownership or control over this feed, which means that I don't receive comments left on feed posts. Please comment directly on the posts themselves; no membership is required to do so.

The paper will eventually be available to read but I need to clean up citations first. If you don't mind my sloppy sourcing and want a copy early, just let me know.
dawn_felagund: Ainulindale--star photo from hubblesite.org. (ainulindale)
Well, when it rains it pours, in a good way this time. Some of you might remember a few weeks ago when I had mad deadlines for things and was biting my fingers till they bled (how I react when stressed out!). Both being due simultaneously meant that they were both published within the past two days.

My article "Fictional Scholarship: How the Peter Jackson Films and Fandom Archives Make Tolkien Fan Fiction Writers into Competent Critics" is out in Mythprint 52:1. It is a shortened version of my Mythmoot paper (which will eventually be available for free online in the proceedings) but does introduce some new data and expands on some of the points I couldn't really delve into in my Mythmoot paper because of time. Unfortunately, I don't have a link for this one, but Mythopoeic Society members will get it as part of Mythprint. There were no strings attached on this article, so I can reprint it wherever and whenever I want, and I will post it on the Heretic Loremaster in a couple of weeks. I just want to give Mythprint the courtesy of having it first for a while.

And my article In a Stone House by the Sea: The Founding and Governing of the Silmarillion Writers’ Guild is available in Signum University's Eagle. (Here is the entire March edition of the Eagle.) The timing on this was perfect because, believe it or not (and I am still having trouble believing it), the SWG's tenth begetting day* is tomorrow.

*Just like an Elf, the SWG has a begetting day and a birthday because I set it up on March 15 and then chickened out about doing anything with it until later in the year, having been utterly unqualified to start anything of that scope, even as I imagined it then. Uli pushed me in the summer to try to actually, um, get people to join, so I count the end of July as its birthday.

Finally, I wrote an essay, We Are Fëanor? Thoughts on Reading Moral Ambiguity into the Characterizations of the Fëanorians, which I posted to the Heretic Loremaster and also Tumblr. (Also a reminder that [syndicated profile] heretic_lore_feed will display HL posts on your friends page. I don't use the HL very much these days but it [and the entire Midhavens site] will be getting a facelift and some renewed attention once my MA is done and then I hope to have regular updates from me and People Not Me.)
dawn_felagund: (hermione)
Over on the post about my paper presentation this weekend, the issue of genre was brought up because I didn't address it in the paper but I definitely asked about it in the survey. I decided not to include it in the paper because it involved defining and explaining terminology (genfic, het, slash) that I just didn't have time for, and I wasn't sure I could introduce the topic in so short a time in such a way that I could impress upon a non-fanfic audience all of the significance and sometimes emotion that accompanies these genres. However, it certainly interests us, so I'm going to share some data here. (I did post some data in the conversation on the earlier post, but the comments are becoming convoluted enough that I worry that it's going to become difficult to find and discuss it, and it is worth breaking out into a place where it is easier to find and talk about.)

I am going to share the data sets for the four genres for readers and writers from my survey and also from Centrum Lumina's AO3 Census. It is important to note that the questions I asked and she asked are not identical and, in fact, measure slightly different things, but I think they are similar enough that we can at least look at them side-by-side to see if there are any trends between the Tolkien fandom and fandom as a whole, at least as it exists on AO3.

Data and Discussion below the Cut )
dawn_felagund: (silmarils)
I had to let the video upload on YouTube run overnight because of my current Internet situation but--at last!--the video of my presentation on Saturday at Mythmoot is finally ready. The full title (which is too long to fit in the title field) is "Transformative Works as a Means to Develop Critical Perspectives in the Tolkien Fan Community." The paper covers the history of Tolkien fan fiction, the development of online communities, and the use of Tolkien fan fiction as a means for writers to not only learn more about the texts but to become more analytical and critical readers. This is probably not news for anyone here, but keep in mind that I was presenting to a general (and not necessarily fanfic-friendly) audience at a fantasy studies conference.

The handout for the presentation can be found here. An audio-only version of the presentation can be found here.



Thoughts and reactions are most welcome, of course! :)
dawn_felagund: (silmarils)
In January 2015, I will be presenting a paper about the Tolkien fan fiction community at the Mythmoot III conference in Baltimore. While other fandoms have been studied in depth, particularly television fandoms, very little study has been done on the Tolkien fandom, and my ten years of experience in this community have caused me to conclude that, while we share some similarities with other fandoms, we also differ in some important regards. I hope, through my Mythmoot presentation, to provide not only background on our community, its history, and its practices for an audience that may not be familiar with the fan fiction community, but also to begin to identify and examine some of the ways that our community differs from how fandom has been understood and presented by scholars.

As part of this, I have put together a survey for participants in the Tolkien fan fiction community. The purpose of the survey is to collect data on the habits, beliefs, and preferences of Tolkien fans who participate in reading and/or writing fan fiction. No identifying information, including IP address, is collected as part of the survey. You may skip any questions you do not want to answer or quit the survey at any time. I estimate that it will take about 15-20 minutes to complete.

If you have ever read or written Tolkien-based fan fiction, you are eligible to participate.

Click here to begin the Tolkien Fan Fiction Survey.

Please feel free to direct any questions, comments, or concerns to me via email (DawnFelagund@gmail.com) or private message. And do feel free to share the link to the survey or a link to this post; I would like to get as many perspectives as possible from as many corners of our community as possible.
dawn_felagund: (out of the light star)
[X-posted from [community profile] silwritersguild. Apologies to those getting it twice, but this is important.]

As you've probably heard by now, HASA will be closing at the end of 2014. My quick count showed that to be just under 6,300 publicly available stories. Since the site is twelve years old, a lot of those authors aren't active anymore and might not get the notice to save their stories, even if they wanted to. Some of those stories are archived nowhere else but HASA. In some instances, it is a fair assumption that their authors may not even have a copy anymore. When HASA closes, we risk a significant loss of both stories and Tolkien fandom history.

HASA Story Rescue Project


The SWG mods along with the moderators of the Tolkienfic archives Many Paths to Tread and Faerie have been working together to identify those HASA stories at greatest risk of being lost, save them, and contact the authors for permission to "rehouse" them on another Tolkien archive.

The mods of the three sites (and a few volunteers who made the mistake of telling me privately that they'd like to help! :) have made a good start on the first phase of this project. However, 6,300 stories is a lot of stories to sift through in just three months, so we could use more help with this. Here is what the current phase of the project involves:

  • Volunteers claim a group of stories to work on. You begin by searching the story and author to see if it is archived elsewhere on the Web. If it is, you record the story information, as well as links to the sites where it can be found.

  • If the story cannot be found elsewhere, you record the story's information (summary, characters, etc.) and make a copy of the story or the story's HTML so that it will be possible to archive the story elsewhere, even if we hear back from the author after HASA closes.

  • All of this material will be shared among all of the volunteers, either on Google Docs or Dropbox. (We will be maintaining shared folders on both.)


It is not difficult work but it is time-consuming, so anyone who is available to help with even a little bit of it will be very much appreciated! :) Please comment here with your email address if you are interested in helping, and I will send you more information to get started. (Comments are screened, and I will not unscreen any comment that contains contact information.) Please also feel free to ask questions here, if you have them. You can also email us at moderator@silmarillionwritersguild.org to be added to the project or with questions.

We have contacted the HASA admins about what we are working on, so they are aware of it and okay with it. They have also contacted the Organization for Transformative Work's Open Doors project but haven't heard back yet and weren't yet committed to that as a solution, even once they do hear back. If they end up going with Open Doors, then we can stop our preservation work, but since three months is not a lot of time for the volume that needs saving, then it is best to start with the expectation that, if we want stories to be saved from HASA, then we will have to do it ourselves.

Other Ways to Help


Please spread the word about HASA closing. The initial announcement went out on the HASA_News Yahoo! group, which has only 47 members; as I and other HASA members can attest, no direct contact has yet been made with authors on the site. Many people have helped spread the word about HASA closing via social media and mailing lists (thank you!), but the more of us that get the word out, the more likely it will be that people who have stories and other content on HASA will have ample time to get their work saved.

Here is a list of links on HASA about the closure and steps being taken by HASA to preserve work there:

HASA News: All Good Things Come to an End: http://henneth-annun.net/about/news_view.cfm?nwid=431&list=yes
HASA Closure Discussion thread: http://henneth-annun.net/forums/messages.cfm?confID=0&forumID=915&messageID=55476
HASA News: Migrating Your Stories: http://henneth-annun.net/about/news_view.cfm?nwid=432&list=yes

The mods of SWG, Many Paths to Tread, and Faerie are all willing to help authors to archive their work on those sites. All three sites can also bring over comments on your stories. If you know an author who is having difficulty getting work saved or re-archived, or if you are having difficulty getting your work saved or re-archived, please contact the admins of these sites for help. You can also comment here, and I will be happy to help you get in touch with the appropriate person(s). All we need is the author's permission to move their work onto the site or sites of their choosing. So, yes, it is as simple as saying, "Please move my stuff from HASA to *site*," and we will do the rest.

I cannot say enough that every work on HASA is important and worth saving.

Finally, the SWG has its Library of Tirion project. (MPTT is working on a similar project, and I will update this post with a link as soon as it is ready.) Through the Library of Tirion, you can request authors that you would like to see archived on the SWG. We will work on contacting that person for permission and archiving their stories on the SWG. Normally, we only accept recommendations from prior to 2007, but in light of HASA's closure, we are accepting any recommendations for Silmarillion authors from HASA. (Thank you to those who have sent their requests already!)

Please signal-boost this post. Again, awareness is key at this point, and the more help we have the more we can save.
dawn_felagund: (out of the light star)
I have always understood why the Elves used their Rings of Power. I am a progressive person who works to change things for the better, yet there are places and things associated with joy for me that I would like to wave a magic ring over and leave unchanged.

For those who have not heard, HASA is closing at the end of the year. The SWG is coming up on ten years, which means that I've been involved in fandom to varying extents for longer than that, and as I look around, I see the landscape is changing. The idea of HASA being gone is like looking west to find one of the mountains missing. Maybe you went weeks without even noticing that mountain, but it was there and it has always been there, and the empty sky it once filled is not an improvement.

Within the past few years, we've seen changes great and small in the Tolkien fandom. The MEFAs ended. LotRFanfiction stands a shadow of its former self. Several smaller archives--the Last Ship and Quills and Ink come to mind--closed their doors. Activity on Yahoo! Groups has all but ceased, and LiveJournal is no longer the hub of activity that it once was.

Of course there have been good things too. Faerie opened its doors. Tolkien fandom activity on Tumblr and AO3 have increased. And many Tolkien groups that have been active for years remain active. But the landscape has changed nonetheless.

Read more... )
dawn_felagund: (silmarils)
My Mythmoot proposal is due in about one month (eeeeeeeeeek), and I have an idea, but I need to make sure that what I'm planning to write and reality actually bear some resemblance to each other. So I have a simple question for all my Tolkien fanfic writers out there:

Why do you write Tolkien fanfic?

Thanks in advance to anyone with a moment to answer. (As always, private responses are welcome as a PM or email to DawnFelagund@gmail.com.)

And yes, this means that this year's presentation will not be about cosmogony ... ;)
dawn_felagund: (death of an idea)
I have had a busy, busy day so far today, rearranging my closet and moving my stuff from the drawers in the bedroom into the new furniture in the guest room. I have also banished my sentimentality (almost*) and donated a bunch of old clothes and shoes to Goodwill. Some of these I have had since high school. Most of it I haven't worn in years, but because I tend to buy only things that I really really love, then I get attached to things.

I kept one shirt and one dress that I can't bear to part with.

As a result I wasn't on the computer much today, but when I did pop in, someone over at ff.net had followed and favorited and poured the whole bucket of ff.net accolades on me and AMC ... except to comment on the story. :^| To be fair, maybe she or he hasn't read the whole thing yet and wants to wait till the end. Read more... )
dawn_felagund: (silmarils)
One can tell that I am getting antsy as the school year (both grad school and work!school) comes to a close because I am doing fannish stuff when I really should be doing other things. *sigh* Anyway, here's what I've been up to the past few days.

Does Kindle Worlds Mean the End of Fandom? And Monster-Shouting. Because I had typed this post in truncated form so many places, it seemed as though it should go on my permanent record somewhere. And the monster-shouting thing was one of those get-it-off-your-chest kind of things, being as it's one of my pet peeves in life, not just fandom.

I would like to say that I then stopped thinking about Kindle Worlds, but then Rhapsody posted a link with some interesting insight from one of the authors who wrote for the launch, about the contracts and vetting process.

New Information on the Kindle Worlds Contract and Vetting Process

That one gets the prize for my most creative title ever.

Now I am done talking about Kindle Worlds. Promise. I have posted on my Tumblr asking for any ideas of what people would like to see me write about on the Heretic Loremaster next, preferably something Tolkien-related, as all this real-world stuff is kind of getting me down. I'm open to ideas here too, of course!

Finally, I have posted my in-progress and messy but hopefully somewhat useful "consolidated timelines" for the Years of the Trees and First Age in The Silmarillion. I started this project years ago and got the worst of it done before my life became what it is and has been for several years now, and time for working on stuff like this went out the window. Once upon a time, I was super-sensitive about the unfinished nature of these and used to share them sparingly (I even have a copy I shared on a group once that has a threatening-sounding warning about not sharing them beyond the group!), but I'm kind of over that. They'll do more good unfinished and unpolished than they would unposted. So here are the consolidated timelines on Google Docs.
dawn_felagund: (can of worms)
As my semester draws to a close, I am trying to rev up the Heretic Loremaster again, so I've posted my initial thoughts on Kindle Worlds here. (For those of you who haven't heard, Kindle Worlds is "the first commercial publishing platform that will enable any writer to create fan fiction based on a range of original stories and characters and earn royalties for doing so." Here are the guidelines.)

Here are some other links:

Letters from Titan: Kindle Worlds: Not bigger on the inside

[personal profile] heartofoshun: Amazon now wants to pay writers for fanfiction

Scalzi: Amazon's Kindle Worlds: Instant Thoughts

Heidi8: It's Kindle Worlds, we're just living in it?

Please do comment with other links to your own blog/journal or elsewhere! :) And, as always, I welcome discussion everywhere: on the HL, here, or wherever. It is easier for me to reply on the HL or Dreamwidth since I can access those at work. LJ replies have to wait till I get home, as I can only access LJ in the teacher resource room, and I like to make doing that a rarity.
dawn_felagund: (feanorians)
Okay, so first of all, I caved. I'm now on Tumblr. I'm still figuring out how it works! I haven't posted anything yet. I'm planning to use it for fannish and writerly stuff only; this place will still be where I babble about a combination of RL, writerly, and fannish stuff. I'd certainly appreciate anyone who wants to follow me or who has any good ideas of who I should be following. Like I said, I'm clueless at this point.

I've updated my profile! It's needed it for a long time now.

And, finally, apparently Skype "unfriended" at least two people who I had added. I barely use Skype for fannish stuff, but if I friended you there and you're no longer friended, please let me know so that I can add you back. I have no idea how this happened. I don't unfriend people except in very extenuating circumstances (that's in my profile now!) and felt horrible that I apparently left at least two people wondering what they had done wrong.
dawn_felagund: (art not war)
I am a day late on my toast because, as circumstance would have it, I was busy at work yesterday and then busy in my free time finishing up the SWG newsletter. While evidence of my membership in the "deplorable cult" would likely not please Tolkien were he alive to know my reasons for being late, I wish him a happy belated birthday nonetheless, complete with a toast with my travel tea mug!

Picture and More beneath the Cut )

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