2019 Wisest Counselor: Silmaril Awards

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There is an air of anticipation beneath the enormous Party Tree. Overhead, the stars flicker like gemstones scattered across a blanket of black velvet. Tonight, they gleam extra brightly, as though they are leaning nearer to the ground in hopes of overhearing what the mortals are up to.

An enormous crowd has gathered on the soft, green hillside in the peaceful Shire. Food has been plentiful, the musicians have been busy, the dancing has been fast, and the laughter loud. Stories have been shared since the party began in the early afternoon, but now, night has fallen. With the fading of the sun, torches flared to life by some unknown magic. Though some of the hobbits exchanged a knowing smile with an old man in a tall, pointed hat, who has been sitting beneath the party tree entertaining groups of rambunctious children.

The crowd has begun to drift towards the Party Tree, taking their seats as they do, so I take this moment to step up on the platform. At my appearance, the crowd quiets, staring expectantly.

“Good evening, ladies and gentlemen,” I begin. I glance about, but the person I am looking for is suddenly nowhere to be seen. I frown, well… wherever Gandalf has gotten himself off to, I’m not too worried. He will appear precisely when he means to, and not a moment before. “You all know why we are here. Tonight we kick off the 2019 Silmaril Awards Ceremonies!”

There is a great cheer and applause. The crowd surges to its feet, and I can see many familiar faces scattered throughout the crowd. Dr. Pym, with three young children sitting around him, Aethelbald with his bride on one arm and a few friends surrounding them (and I’m sure I saw a large, yellowish cat prowling around earlier), a wizard with a somewhat faraway look on his face who was having a hard time with the spoons… oh! I forgot to tell them not to use the actual silver-ware! I knew I forgot something! (Planning this party has been rather an event all by itself!) there are several wizards, with their students in tow, a tall man who has been playing with various different knives all evening, a very polite mechanical butler accompanied by two men who performed stunning illusions for the crowd earlier in the day, and quite a few more faces I don’t recognize. In fact, only one person on the invite list has not appeared… but that is unsurprising, considering the fact that he is hosting rather a lot of dragons in his home cave currently….

I shake my head, pulling myself out of my observations.

“Tonight, we present the Wisest Counselor Silmaril. This award…”

“Excuse me, young lady,” a voice behind me interrupts. “But I believe this is my job.”

I grin. “Please,” I wave him forward and a tall man with a long, white beard and a knobby staff strides onto the platform. “Join me in welcoming the presenter of this award, the standard of wisdom and guidance himself, Gandalf!”

Gandalf winks at me as he passes by, and I take my seat.

“As our gracious host was saying,” Gandalf says, “this award can only be granted to the wisest among you. It must go to one who is willing, not only to teach and guide others, but one who is willing to go above and beyond the call of duty for his or her students or proteges. There are many of our creed in the various fantasy realms, but this year, the readers have spoken, and five among you have been singled out for special favor.”

He nods at the five finalists seated in the front row.

“In fifth place, with eleven percent of the votes, we congratulate Beana of The Goldstone Wood!”

The nanny goat ambles up onto the platform, a young girl walking beside her. The audience bursts into enthusiastic applause. The young girl, a veil covering her face, gives an awkward curtsy, then gently pushes the goat’s nose away from Gandalf’s robes. “Beana! You can’t eat Gandalf’s cloak!” she says sternly.

The nanny goat gives a mournful bleat and the two of them move over to the far side of the stage.

Gandalf bows his head to the nanny goat. “You do a fine job with your young charge, my lady. I know how difficult it can be to pretend to be less than you are.”

A knowing silence passes between them, and I’d swear the goat smiles at Gandalf.

The wizard turns back to the microphone. “In fourth place, with thirteen percent of the votes, we have Rayad of the Ilyon Chronicles!”

An older man in simple clothes reluctantly stands up, urged forward by the younger man sitting next to him. Rayad turns to the younger man and beckons, but he shakes his head.

“Jace! You talked me into this foolishness, you’re going up on that platform with me or I’m leaving right now,” the older man says gruffly. “I’m not standing up there by myself, and that’s final!”

The younger man heaves a sigh and stands, ducking his head as though self-conscious about his pointed ears. (He does not appear to notice that such a characteristic is neither rare, nor a frowned-upon trait in this land). There is another round of applause as together they shuffle up onto the stage and do their best to stand behind Beana and Rose Red.

Gandalf eyes Rayad kindly. “You shine the Light when all seems to be darkness. Do not grow weary in your task.”

A burden seems to lift from Rayad’s shoulders, but he merely nods.

“In third place,” Gandalf continues, “with twenty percent of the votes, is Ranger Halt from the Ranger’s Apprentice!”

The crowd surges to its feet, then pauses in confusion. The place where Halt and Will sat is vacant, and neither ranger is anywhere to be seen. A moment later, Halt stands before Gandalf, Will at his side, seemingly appearing from nowhere. The audience resounds its approval at this clever trick, and Halt takes Gandalf’s proffered hand before striding across the stage to stand next to the other nominees.

“You show wisdom in your teaching,” Gandalf says, “and also in your careful choice of apprentice.”

Will’s face turns a bright shade of red at this unexpected compliment. Halt glances sideways at the young man, and a rare smile tugs at the corner of his mouth before his expression returns to its usual stony grimness.

“I would have to agree with you, there,” he acknowledges.

Gandalf laughs outright at this and turns back to the audience. “In second place by only three votes…” he pauses.

An expectant hush falls over the crowd.

Gandalf lowers his bushy eyebrows.

A massive firework bursts in the sky like a sunflower filled with diamond dewdrops and the crowd gasps with awe.

“With twenty-seven percent of the votes, we welcome…. PUDDLEGLUM!”

A cheer resounds through the audience and a tall, weedy figure unfolds himself from where he has been slumped in his seat. He climbs slowly up onto the stage, his face pinched into a mournful frown as he comes up to stand next to Gandalf.

“Second place,” Puddleglum shakes his head. “Rather more than I expected, really. When it comes to advice, well… I never expected to be nominated at all. But if you want my advice,” he glances at the sky. “You should take these proceedings inside. It’s likely to rain, I shouldn’t wonder.”

“My good fellow,” Gandalf looks down at the gangly figure. “There’s not a cloud in the sky.”

Puddleglum straightens slightly and gives Gandalf a long, measuring glance, then nods. “Best to put a bold face on it. Wouldn’t want to go scaring folks when such an enormous storm is coming. Times like these, they test the mettle of a man.”

“Er… yes… rather,” Gandalf for the first time looks a little unsettled as the marsh-wiggle meanders over to the side of the stage to stand with the others. “Well, we have come to the end, as it were. The winner of this year’s Wisest Counselor Silmaril… with twenty-nine percent of the vote… is REMUS LUPIN!”

There is a sound like thunder as the crowd surges to its feet, many knocking over their chairs in their enthusiastic response. A young man, stands up, his light brown hair flecked with gray, belying the youth of his face. His shabby, much-darned wizard’s robes flutter about him as he steps uncertainly up onto the stage beneath the pale light of the moon. He glances up nervously, then looks about. A trio of young people, also wearing wizard’s robes, trail after him, their expressions encouraging as Lupin steps up to stand next to Gandalf.

“It is my honor to grant you this award,” Gandalf intones. “May the Light of Valinor ever brighten your path and lead you true.”

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He hangs the medallion around Lupin’s neck, and the wizard straightens slightly, the weariness falling from his eyes as the medallion shimmers softly against his chest, shining with an internal light that rivals that of the stars themselves. He smiles down at the students around him.

“It is my honor,” he insists, shaking Gandalf’s hand, “to accept this award. And I am humbled. I only hope that my poor attempts to counsel these bright young minds help them in the various trials I fear they may encounter.”

“Professor,” the curly-haired girl protests, “really….”

“You’re the only teacher we’ve ever had who taught us ANYTHING worthwhile,” the dark-haired boy with glasses speaks at the same time.

“What they mean to say, really, is that we think you’re brilliant,” the red-headed boy says in a matter-of-fact tone.

The dark-haired boy nods his approval at his friend. “And nobody deserves this more than you.”

Lupin gives a self-conscious smile. “Thank you, all. I appreciate your support.” He glances around, as though hoping nobody will ask him to give a speech.

Another burst of color lights up the sky, distracting the crowd from the people on the stage. Gandalf, in his wisdom, smiles kindly at the finalists.

“I think it is time for some cake,” he suggests. “And perhaps some more stories.”

They all brighten and hurry off the stage beneath a shower of sparkling lights that burst across the sky in intricate designs never before beheld in any realm… the mentors and their proteges find themselves quiet tables where they can talk and reminisce long into the night….

The sun rises the next morning on a field strewn with banners and streamers and sadly deflated balloons. But those bustling about to clean up the aftermath of the party do so with glad hearts. For the fun is just beginning, and they have all been invited to the next celebration!

And you are invited as well! Make sure to head over to the next awards ceremony TOMORROW where we will find out this year’s Most Epic Heroine!

~ jenelle

Silmaril Awards Voting Form

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Last week was seriously crazy awesome!!! You all did SUCH an awesome job nominating all the characters and keeping us hosts extremely busy as more and more characters showed up at our humble abodes. At final count, we had FIFTY-FIVE wise counselors nominated over a total of ONE HUNDRED FIFTY-TWO comments. And this wasn’t even the most popular category!

We all feel that we each earned at least a minor in accounting just from tallying up all the seconds, but now, the dust has settled, and most of the nominees have been sent home (some went more willingly than others, I’m… quite happy not to be hosting Villains or their Henchmen this year… though the assorted counselors have seen fit to give me unsolicited advice on just about every aspect of my life all week… but… their advice has been filled with wisdom, so I can’t really complain!)

And now things have calmed down rather a lot and we are each left with only five house-guests each for the rest of the duration of the Silmaril Awards.

But there can only be one winner.

Okay, ten winners.

One per category.

It sounded better the way I said it… more final and exciting.

From fifty-five down to five… the Finalists in the Wisest Counselor category are:

Halt – a highly qualified Ranger and mentor to young Will Treaty. His grim, unsmiling visage conceal a heart of gold that feels much more than he shows. He cares deeply for the people he loves, and will do anything for them, even if it means losing his own status, reputation, or even his life.

Puddleglum - an extremely pessimistic marshwiggle with a tall, weedy appearance. Puddleglum always expects the worst to happen, and yet he always encourages everyone to put forth a bold face.

Remus Lupin - a wizard and Defense Against the Dark Arts teacher at the wizarding school of Hogwarts, Lupin is distinguished as being perhaps the only teacher at the school who ever did anything to teach the students how to actually defend themselves against the dark arts. A caring teacher who actually listens to his students.

Beana - a faerie Knight of Farthestshore, Beana often wears the disguise of a nanny goat while protecting her young charge, Varvare/Rose Red and guiding her in the Near World. Beana is often a comfort to Rose Red, and one of her most constant companions.

Rayad - wanted by the emperor as a rebel, Rayad is a father-figure and mentor to a young ex-gladiator slave. Though he can be gruff at times, he is most known for being kind, thoughtful, and always there to offer advice, hope, and words of wisdom.

Unlike with the nomination posts, you can access the entire voting form below. But I would encourage you to continue on and read the other posts throughout the week to refresh your memory on each of the 50 characters who have made it to this final round!

Let the voting commence! Hurry to get your votes in! The polls close at midnight on Friday the Thirteenth! scary music wails eerily from an unknown source

Um? What was that? Lupin? Did you take your tonic thingy that keeps you from turning into a werewolf? No, Puddleglum, I don’t think it will rain at the ceremony, I do have some say in that, you know. Ahem.

Anyway…

(For clarification purposes: Polls close at 11:59pm on Friday night… but “midnight” sounds so much creepier… but tends to lead to confusion… so… yeah… see you at the Award Ceremony!)

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Visit the other Award Hosts to learn more about the finalists…

Most Magnificent Dragon

Least Competent Henchman

Strangest Character

Most Epic Heroine

Most Epic Hero

Most Nefarious Villain

Most Silver Tongue

Most Mischievous Imp

Most Faithful Friend

~ jenelle

Space Lanes: New Flash Fiction

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Published again!

I’m so excited to share with you that I’ve got yet another story published over at Havok today.

My last piece was super sweet and sad and heart-string pulling… but this one… is TOTALLY DIFFERENT.

This one is… kind of zany. Which explains why it’s posting on Havok’s “Wacky Wednesday.” There’s snark. There’s chaos. There’s a redneck space-trucker. There are bits falling off the ship. There’s even a SPACE DRAGON!

You don’t want to miss it!

If you’re looking for a laugh, and possibly a space adventure… then I highly recommend you swing over and meet Blake and Earl and their rusty bucket of bolts… because they are super fun and I love them to bits. I believe I can easily foresee myself writing more stories about these two… possibly an entire book, if not a series!

I had an absolute blast with this story, dear reader. I really cut loose with it, and… well… if you’ve ever read anything of mine before, the “voice” on this one might take you a little off-guard as it is extremely different than anything I’ve ever written before. It’s a little wacky, a little sci-fi, with just the barest hint of fantasy. I’ve titled it SPACE LANES and I really think you’ll get a kick out of it.

This story stretched me rather a lot, and even though it was accepted… I practically had to rewrite the entire thing before it was ready to publish! Which is something I really enjoy about both writing flash fiction AND working with the Havok team of editors. 1) You can take a piece from rough draft to polished in a very short amount of time and 2) they know their stuff over there! And they do a great job of seeing the potential in a story encouraging us writers to really put out the effort to make the story shine as much as it can.

For any of you who do not have a paid subscription to Havok e-zine, TODAY is the ONLY day you can read this short story for FREE!

This month’s theme is part of Havok’s “Stories that Sing” series, and September’s stories are all connected in some way to songs from the 70s! Part of the fun is trying to guess which song inspired the story!

I would be extremely honored if you would consider stopping by to read this zany little story of mine, and I’m curious to see if any of you guess the song correctly! (If you do, I will know that you are one of those people who listened to “all the right sorts of music” when growing up). Votes and comments are all tallied by the editors when it comes to choosing stories to be included in the bi-yearly anthology, so if you read the story and it touches your heart, would you consider leaving a comment and/or a vote?

Even if you’re not a Havok member, you CAN comment! It might look like the comments aren’t going through, but they ARE, they just need to wait for approval by the moderators, after which point, they will be visible. 

TAKE ME TO THE STORY NOW!

~ jenelle

Wisest Counselor Nominations: Silmaril Awards 2019

Nominations are now closed! Make sure to come back next week to cast your votes in the final round!

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Returning for the FOURTH year in a row, it’s MY personal favorite event of the year… THE SILMARIL AWARDS!

And this year, I get to host the award for the WISEST COUNSELOR!

They tend to be old, bearded, and have a somewhat “larger than life” sort of presence to them. Their massive wisdom often lends to a sort of gruff exterior, and perhaps even a hint of impatience… but you know that deep down, they have hearts of gold and truly care about the adventurers they are mentoring.

This award should only be given to the best mentor, the surest guide — for the purity of the Silmaril demands nothing less.

Choose wisely!

Nominate your favorite character(s) for this award by leaving a comment on this post!

A few quick rules and reminders as you get ready to nominate a character:

1. Just a quick reminder that Tolkien’s characters are not eligible to win these awards. We creators of the Silmarillion Awards see them as the ultimate standards for these categories already, which is why they are the Presenters of the Silmarils.

2. These awards are for FANTASY characters! This means no science fiction. However, if you can make a good, solid argument for the fantastical elements in a particular science-fantasy, then by all means, go ahead! (For example: The Lunar Chronicles are admissible due to elements of magic and the fact that at their core they are fairy tale retellings)

3. Please mention what book the character is from in your nomination. While the hosts of the Silmaril Awards are wizards in their own right and voracious book dragons of speculative fiction, we haven’t all read EVERY book out there, and we might not recognize certain characters.

4. You are welcome to nominate as many characters as you wish and “second” as many characters as you wish. The top 5 MOST seconded characters will go on to the final voting round.

5. If you are an author, you are welcome to participate, but please refrain from nominating your OWN characters. You may, of course, direct your fans to this event, though.

6. Characters who have won in a particular category in a previous year are ineligible to be nominated for the same award again. The Silmarils are Lifetime Awards. For a list of the previous winners in each category, please check out our Hall of Fame.

Previous winners of the Wisest Counselor Silmaril:

7. Please remember that these are Fantasy Book Awards. Therefore, a movie character is only eligible for nomination if they were a book first! 

8. Most importantly… have fun! And don’t forget to visit the other 9 blogs and nominate characters for ALL TEN awards!

Please spread the word far and wide! If you are on social media, our official hashtags are #SilmAwards2019 or just #SilmAwards invite your friends to the party, the more, the merrier!

Let the nominations commence!

 

And don’t forget to stop by the other blogs to nominate characters in ALL the Award Categories!

Most Epic Hero

Most Epic Heroine

Most Mischievous Imp

Least Competent Henchman

Most Nefarious Villain

Most Silver Tongue

Most Faithful Friend

Strangest Character

Most Magnificent Dragon

 And this year, we even have a shiny new facebook group where you can follow the progress of the awards, interact with the hosts, get reminders when the voting form goes live all in one easy spot!

Awards Schedule:

The awards this year will go by the following schedule:

Nominations week — September 2-8

Voting week — September 9-15

Awards ceremonies — September 16-27

~ jenelle