I met Nilmandra in early 2003 when I posted my first fanfic on Fanfiction.net 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 Fanfiction.net was down more than it was up. At that time, the two major places to post Tolkien fanfic were ff.net (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.