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Fandom Snowflake Day 5 asked participants to "post recs for at least three fanworks that you did not create." I went *ahem* a little above and beyond. I did ten. I've been reading a lot of Tolkienfic lately--it is one of my goals for the year to make time for reading, as it is often one of the fandom pleasures that falls first to the obligations of running a website--and I wanted to share some of my favorites from among what I've read. I feel like I need to make up for a few years of rarely reading and commenting while I was in grad school. Most of these stories are Silmarillion-based, but there are a few that are from The Lord of the Rings.

Please check them out and, if you like them, consider leaving the author a note letting them know.

The Choice by Keiliss. Thank goodness the prompt that inspired this story gives away the ending or I don't think I would have been able to take it. I still teared up at multiple points in this tenderly written and beautifully human story about Elladan and his daughter making their choice about whether or not to sail for Aman. Few of Tolkien's unanswered question have inspired the speculation, angst, and fanfic as the question of whether the sons of Elrond sailed, and Kei's story deserves a place at the top of the heap. Her characterization, too, of characters who only appear in passing speak of why she is one of the giants of Tolkienfic. This story is simply wonderful.

Elendili by hadastheunseelie. I picked up this story for the Fandom Snowflake challenge that asked participants to reach out to someone new. I'll admit that I hesitated. It mentions a teenage girl and glitter in the summary, and while I totally support teenagers writing fanfic--a lot of my students do and I think it's awesome!--I also reserve the right not to read said fanfic when it's not one of my students! And the story was long. But, in the Snowflake spirit, I gave it a go and OMG. OMG, y'all. It is probably the strangest story I will rec here--which anyone who knows me will know I mean as a compliment--but Hadas is one of those writers with a gift for wielding words like a knife between my bones where they actually hurt. The imagery is stunning: sometimes gritty and very anchored in Modern-earth (where this story is set) and sometimes ethereal and otherworldly, making that familiar world of colleges and coffee shops Elvish somehow.

Eyes Bright with Honor by heget. Heget is working on telling the tales of the ten companions who died in the dungeon with Finrod in defense of Beren. The Beren and Luthien story has never particularly entranced me (Finrod's on the other hand ... *ahem*), but I walked away from this story getting it: getting some of the magic that people (including Tolkien) see in that story and in the character of Beren in particular. The story meanders through time, mostly looking back to the life of the OC Consael whose story Heget tells in this piece, and it is a story where the pieces all coalesce and make beautiful sense in the end. This is one of the most horrifying episodes in The Silmarillion to me, yet I could walk away from this story with a rare sense of feeling uplifted and hopeful instead of imagining those eyes kindling in the dark ... Heget plans to write about all ten companions, and I will be checking out the other pieces in the series on the strength of this one.

Galadriel: There and Back Again by Himring. If someone were to task me with writing the life of Galadriel, I would sweat over it for a year and turn out a sprawling, half-million word epic. And I still don't think I could top this story. Himring is perhaps one of the most underappreciated masters of Silmfic, and this story shows why. Her Galadriel manages to be stubborn, strong, and vulnerable with a no-nonsense wisdom that probably explains her survival alone (almost) of her family. And in well under 2000 words! Every wrenching, poignant word counts in this piece that stitches together the Galadriel who competed with (and feared) Fëanor and she who gave Frodo the light of Eärendil that saved him.

Home for Midwinter by Tallulah Red. I will echo Tal's several reviews on the LotRGenFic community--this was written for their annual Yule Exchange--who praised the world-building in this story. The story was written for Indy, who wanted to see Maglor adopt a family from among the Avari. Although a short piece, it sparkles with believable characters and culture, taking a different take on the Avari than most writers do. And in a fandom that has a Maglor-walks-by-the-shore-and-laments trope, it was refreshing to read a story that allows him happiness in the future while also not shying from his history.

Journeys by Independence1776. This story was written for me, for the MPTT/LotRGen Yule Exchange. I remember writing a story once for a friend that she described fitting like a pair of gloves that could only be selected by someone who knew her well. This is such a story. It is Maedhros and Maglor and a conversation in a cave, yet the dialogue simmers with much more than can be seen on the surface, and Indy achieves an easy camaraderie between the brothers that is delightful to read. It is simply wonderful, like Indy dove into my mind and extracted a story I would have loved to have written for my own verse. I'm officially adopting this one into the Felakverse.

The Purple Dress by Avon. This story gave me chills. Set in Númenor, a young woman flouts convention in her choice of dress color ... but this story is so much more than that. It is one of those pieces that unspools in slow revelations so that, as a reader, you're never entirely on steady ground. And once you realize what is going on, you're not there yet; the ending simmers with delicious double entendre. There's A LOT going on in this short piece, and every word and image count.

Though the Road Darkens by Marta. Marta's story tells the tale of Gorlim the Unhappy through the eyes of his companion Gildor. The voice in this story is simply magnificent; you feel like you are sitting at the fireside, hearing Gildor tell his tale. A complicated story, it brings in folklore, myth (Middle- and Modern-earth), and questions the historical tradition, offering different look at Gorlim's story. Oh, and it's beautifully written, the kind of words you want to lean back and savor like wine. If you're thinking--like I probably would have if Marta hadn't asked me to read this story--that you'd never be interested in a story about Gorlim, take a chance and prove yourself wrong. (I'm happy to admit that I was! :)

Winter Came Earlier by Oshun. She calls this "just a bit of fluff" in the summary, but saying this is "just" fluff is like saying the Grand Canyon is "just" a sidewalk crack. This is a layered and thought-provoking story in which Elladan faces, through Arwen and Aragorn, his own worries about mortality and what it means to be Peredhil. But don't let my summary scare you into thinking that this is a deep, heavy story that one can only read in a bright-lit room. This is Oshun, after all, and her work is as ever sweetened with romance and humor that balance perfectly with the deeper themes of this short, lovely work.

Winter Sons of Gondor by Elwen. It was my turn this month on MPTT to archive the challenge stories. This necessitates skimming each piece so that I can add the meta-data to it about character, genre, et cetera. Most of the time I do just that--skim--and I started to do so with this story but got hooked in despite my intentions to make quick work of posting it. Young Boromir and Faramir are coping with the pressures of their father's growing madness when they decide to escape for a morning to enjoy a rare snowfall. But their journey takes an unexpected turn. This story is a page-turner, and I could not have left off reading it and gone back to skimming if I'd wanted to.
I have spent the weekend trying to keep my head above the water in terms of lesson planning and grad school after our trip, so I have not yet posted here about my new story or the lovely story that Elleth wrote for me! D^: This year, I decided to participate in MPTT's Yule Fic Exchange. In the past, because I'm usually taking two classes, I could never manage.

Elleth wrote the story that I received. I love Elleth's work, so I knew I would enjoy this as well, and I was not wrong! I am going to be lazy and copy over the rec I wrote on Tumblr:

Elleth wrote this story for me as part of Many Paths to Tread’s Yule Fic Exchange. It’s a beautiful story, and I hope more people will read it and leave her lots of love in the form of comments and kudos! :)

My request was for a story about friendship between at least two women of the House of Finwë. The story begins after the Darkening of Valinor (one of my favorite time periods to write/think about) with Nerdanel (one of my favorite characters! :) seeking a form of redemption for her family’s deeds by working on the defenses of the Calcirya. In the midst of her labors, she receives a letter from a most unexpected person …

Elleth’s stories are, imho, consistently some of the most gracefully written in the Silmarllion fandom. This one is no exception and deftly includes magical elements that make Elleth’s descriptions feel otherworldly—Tolkien might say “elvish.” Elleth also nails the voice of Nerdanel’s correspondent perfectly (I want to keep it a surprise who it is!). This is a character I’ve not written in any significant sense, in part because she intimidates the hell out of me. But her voice in this story is like Elleth crawled into my head and made my vision of her real.

This is a lovely and thought-provoking story, and I hope you’ll take a look! It is on SWG, AO3, MPTT, and LiveJournal.

My story was written for Wheelrider to fulfill the request for "A story that passes the Bechdel test! Meaning it features at least two women who talk to each other about something other than a man. Any characters, any time period, any Tolkien source are fine." Here is the summary of "Daytracer":

After the Darkening of Valinor, the Aulendur struggle to find a way to bear aloft the final fruit and flower of the Two Trees. Nerdanel finds a unexpected ally in Arien, who helps her discover the secret knowledge that will return the world to light.

"Daytracer" is on SWG, AO3, MPTT, and LiveJournal.

Reading Week

Jun. 8th, 2006 11:44 am
dawn_felagund: Skeleton embracing young girl (Default)
Once I am back from Puerto Rico, I am declaring for myself a Reading Week, 26 through 30 June.

My first involvement in Silmarillion fan fiction was strictly as a reader. I spent a large portion of my day reading stories on I actually read all of the Silmarillion stories posted there that pertained to my favorite characters, i.e. the House of Finwe, Ecthelion, Glorfindel, and a few of the more interesting Valar. Most of you on my flist, I knew first as authors I admired rather than as friends.

However, I haven't read fan fiction except for beta purposes in probably over a month now. And I miss it. I have become so caught up in writing that anything else related to fandom or creativity has suffered. On one hand, this is good; I have had my most productive month in a while. In the past month, I will have completed a novella, two short stories, and an original drabble series. I don't even want to speculate how many words that will be.

I also recognize my potential for burn-out though. After NaNoWriMo in November and twenty holiday stories immediately after, I didn't write except when I had to (to meet my posting schedule for AMC, for example) for almost two months.

I don't want that to happen again.

And so I am declaring 26 through 30 June to be my reading week. Just writing. The muses are going to get their own vacation that week. I am going to read the stories that I have meant to read for months now, including those posted at [ profile] silwritersguild that I have neglected. And also, I am going to go to and read stories by authors whom I do not know. I don't like that my participation in the fandom has become so insular, that if I am not doing a beta for a friend, then I am probably not reading. When I do read for fun, it is always stuff posted on the LJs of my flist.

What I would like to ask of you, my flist, is to recommend to me one story that you think I should read. It can be one of your own stories or someone else's. If I have read it already, I will let you know, and you are free to recommend another if you'd like. You're welcome to recommend longer stories, but I can't guarantee, of course, that I'll finish them in a week. I will read anything, any rating, het or slash, and I have no squicks, so don't let such worries stand in the way of suggesting a story that might bother less evol more sensitive audiences.

I don't care on what archive the story you recommend is located. I belong to them all, lurk on them all, and have read on them all at one time or another.

There are some stories that I've started and want to finish or that I have intended to start. Here are the ones that I can remember right now. There might be more, and I'll add to the list as I remember them. If you're listed here, you're welcome, of course, to make another recommendation.

Stories Already on My Reading-Week Agenda )

So what are your recommendations?

Additionally, those on my flist who want to do their own version of Reading Week, I encourage you to join me by reading at least one story each day and taking a chance on a new author as well!
A few months ago, I posted a chapter I'd been dreading to AMC. Dreading? Why? Because it went beyond the realm of "slight AU" in which I usually play and did something flat-out awful and extreme to a canon character. Granted, it is never said that this flat-out, extreme treatment of such a character didn't exist...but I think we all agree that it was mostly my twisted imagination.

In AMC, the loremaster Rumil of Tirion is a survivor of Angband who was mutilated horribly by Melkor, both deafened and muted, leading him to design the Sarati as a means to communicate. I thought that I'd be skewered by readers for this little non-canon spin, but the chapter actually provoked some of the best discussions of any of my AMC chapters.

Still, I was quite surprised when, a few nights ago, [ profile] tuxedo_elf IMed me to ask if she could borrow Rumil. Not her usual adorable Lorien Rumil but my angsty mutilated one.

She showed me the resulting story today, and I must say that I thoroughly love it. It expounds on the tragedy of his story but ends with hope and leaves me loving his character all the more. If Tux isn't on your flist, I encourage you to check out her story, "A Gilded Cage".

And thanks, Tux, for writing such a wonderful story! :)

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