Short Story

I have a short story in this month's issue of Swords and Sorcery Magazine. I'm posting the link here because I thought maybe some of you might recognize it as based on my fanfic "The Spy," which was about Beliond rescuing a town. I de-Tolkienized it and then realized I had to give it some meaning that it lost in that process.

It's free to read it if you're interested.


It is with great sadness that I tell you Nilmandra died today after a long battle against a degenerative disease. She was 52.

I met Nilmandra in early 2003 when I posted my first fanfic on and she was the first reviewer. By the time I finished that story, she was my beta reader and was beginning to teach me most of what I know about writing. She was in the middle of posting "May the Valar Protect Them" and of course went on to write many more stories.

She founded Stories of Arda in July of 2003 after a month in which was down more than it was up. At that time, the two major places to post Tolkien fanfic were (which was and still is open posting) and HASA (where each story had to be voted into the archive and had to be complete to be considered). Nilmandra wanted a story archive that would be technically reliable and devoted to well-written stories that fit within what she saw as a canonical Tolkien world. Her sister Rorrah designed the site, and SoA was born.

I know the fate of SoA will be of interest to many people reading this, and they should rest easy. Nilmandra and Rorrah arranged between them to have SoA go on unchanged.

Though she had little use for organized religion, Nilmandra was a devout Christian and drew deep comfort from her faith, especially as her health failed. Additionally, she told me that among the things she valued most were the friendships she'd made through Tolkien fanfiction. She wrote me: "It was Middle-earth that brought us together, and I pray that after all the critical things are done, we will have a chance to sit with the professor and get answers to some of our questions about twice born Balrog slayers, whether Gimli sailed with Legolas, if both twins were reunited with a happy Celebrian and Elrond in Valinor etc ,but there will be so much more that we will want to know about his creation and how he intended to end it."

I will miss Nilmandra deeply. She was my teacher and the person who created the site I think of as my fanfic home. More than that, she was my friend. I am sad beyond my ability to say.

I will cross post this to the SoA Yahoo list, Nilmandra's LJ, and my own LJ. Please feel free to share it with anyone you think might want to know about our loss.

"And the ship went out into the High Sea and passed into the West, until at last on a night of rain, Frodo smelled a sweet fragrance on the air and heard the sound of singing that came over the water. And then it seemed to him that as in his dream in the house of Bombadil, the grey rain-curtain turned all to silver glass and was rolled back, and he beheld white shores and beyond them a far green country under a swift sunrise."
--"The Grey Havens," Return of the King, J. R. R. Tolkien.

Interested in newsletter?

I'm getting ready to send my first newsletter early next week. I decided to summarize blog posts in it, so people could just wait to see if there was a topic they were interested in and click through. I'll also include any events I went to (this month, I-Con) and maybe interesting links if I find them.
If you're interested, you can sign up in the sidebar of my blog ( or just message me the email address and I'll enter it myself. I'm using Mail Chimp (assuming I can get it to work) and they don't sell your data. I'll send only once a month so you don't get too annoyed

New blog at WordPress

I miss how lively LJ used to be. I miss a lot of things about the old LOTR fanfic days, actually, but the friends I made on LJ are what I miss most. However, my new publisher says I need a blog and it needs to be on Word Press. So, today I made my first post there. It's about how studying engineers and writing ya fantasy are totally alike. I can't figure out how to make the post appear directly here. So in the meantime, I'd love it if you went over and read and commented.

If you sign up for my newletter there, I'll send you that once a month with a summary of what's on the blog so you can click if you want and don't have to make separate trips.

Guest blog post on cussing in secondary world fantasy

I have a guest post up at Unleashing Readers today.

Here's the first couple of paragraphs:

When you write a story set in a made-up or secondary world, one of the small but significant problems you run into is giving characters a good way to call on their god(s). They could be cursing, invoking a deity as witness, or maybe asking for a god’s help.

This is challenging because in a secondary-world story, the author makes up things like the god(s), the cultural notions of the afterlife, and what kind of supernatural creatures might be around to tempt or help a character. A character can’t say “hell” if the culture doesn’t believe in such a place, or “she looked like an evil cherub” if the world doesn’t have cherubs.