Tag Archives: creative writing

The Last Stand: Jim Kraven’s Diary #3

Círdan’s Note: And now we return to the mind of our very own Jim Kraven (aka 145barbarian) as he recounts our latest foray into The Last Stand, a roleplaying game invented by your young adults. When you support Grey Havens YA through Lucky’s Bags for Change this quarter, you are helping us to continue to provide these young adults with the environment they need to be imaginative in community.  Be sure to read Jim’s latest diary before diving into this one. If you want even more explanation, check out this video as one of our GMs (Game Master) catches us up on the story so far. Enjoy!

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Day 4
I can see the GMs now. That must mean we’re about to get out of limbo. Timmy is going to cry again. I can already tell. Every time we come out of limbo, he cries. Maybe he feels something we don’t while in limbo. I wish my wife was here. She always knew how to calm down Timmy when he cried. We’ll see her again someday. Hopefully.

*BAAAANG* I run to the window. Nothing in sight, but Timmy’s crying even louder so I know I’m not the only one who heard that explosion. Bucky’s back! He must’ve caused the explosion. The zombies are gone. We can finally go outside again!

“Come on Timmy,” I said, extending my hand to him. He grabs it, and I lead him to the door. There’s a new guy. Galahad is his name. Timmy and I stare up as a flash of light fills the sky.

“Daddy,” he says, “What is that?”

I stare down at him. “I don’t know.”

The light is getting closer. It crashed into a hill near the village. It’s binging now. The light is stuck in a crater.

There’s some sort of creature inside it. It wants out. Who would’ve known! It crashed into a strange place, and now it wants out of the wreckage. Bucky ripped the door off. Istar is the creature’s name.

Gunfire rings through the valley. It’s coming from our base!

The group is heading back. I’m still here with Timmy and Eadlyn. I think they forgot about us…

They’re coming back. Our healer actually did something useful for once! She healed Eadlyn’s broken legs.

Timmy is gonna go across the river on the gorilla’s corpse. I’m glad the gorilla is dead. Timmy didn’t like him very much. I’m gonna walk across. Timmy is floating slowly over to us.

We’re heading back to the base. This’ll be quite the walk. I can hear Timmy running to catch up to us.

Woah. I feel really tired all of a sudden. Unknown fell asleep. Everyone is starting to space out and sit down. Istar stays awake. People are starting to pass out. Something is forcing us all to sleep.

Timmy is out like a light. It’s the first time in years that he’s slept without me reading him a story.

I heard Duke Brilliance yell, “There’s something in here!” — then I fell asleep.

——————–S-L-E-E-P-I-N-G——————–

I see my wife. She’s holding Timmy in her arms. Am I dead? No. No, not dead. I must be dreaming. I remember getting back to the inn, then passing out. I just stand there and stare at her. She’s so good with him. Part of me wishes that she was the one here with Timmy, not me. I walk over to her and smile.

“Shhh,” she says, “Timmy is sleeping.” I sit down next to her. I miss her so much. I don’t know when I’ll wake up. Maybe I won’t. I’d be ok with that. Either way, I’m going to savor these moments for as long as possible.

“How have you been?” I ask her.

“I miss you both so much,” she utters through her tears, “I’ve been doing ok….lonely, but ok.” I lean down to give her a hug. As I lean out, I notice blood all over my hands.

“No…” I utter, “Not again!” She collapses as I get transported to some sort of waiting room.

—————————————————————————

Looking around here reminds me of the day when my wife and I found out that she was pregnant with Timmy. It was a great day.

Everyone is here in the room. Well, most everyone. Other than us, the room is empty. None of us know what is going on. All we know is that the Nightmare put everyone to sleep. Nightmare. I guess that’s what’s doing this. That probably explains the whole thing with my wife. People are starting to mingle and move around.

Timmy’s crying again. I pull out his story book and read him his favorite story. The same story that I’ve been reading for the past couple years. I don’t even need the book anymore. I know it by heart. I keep the book so that Timmy has something to look at. Something to distract him from all the violence and chaos going on around us.

Duke Brilliance just informed us that the Nightmare is watching over us, controlling us. The Nightmare can kill us. It doesn’t kill often, but it isn’t very comforting knowing that it can do so.

We know of a remedy to this sleepiness now. Garlic, vinegar, and mint can help counter getting pulled into this world. The walls are full of weak points. It appears that the only way to expose them is to get everyone into the dream world. Istar just summoned a puppy. It’s chasing the bunny around.

There’s a way to summon Siri, a goddess of light. They did it! She’s here! She’s confused. Pure light can be used to destroy the Nightmare. We’re all here now except for Nutmeg. Well. We’re all here. The Nightmare says that she’s lonely. She wants to play a game. Doorways start opening up for us. Three people for each door. A white light emits from each of the doors. I guess we’ll have to break up into groups now. The group is erupting in chatter. The games consist of a bunch of puzzles.

I tried to send Timmy through one of the doors. The door pulled me in too. One more person for our door. I hope we can get out of here.

——–S-L-E-E-P-I-N-G—D-R-E-A-M-S-C-A-P-E——–

A room just materialized around us. It’s me, Timmy, and Feather. She has the bunny with her. I hope our puzzle has nothing to do with dexterity. I’d assume by now that everyone is breaking off and going into their doors. The Nightmare is here. Must be giving Feather and I our puzzle. Here we go. Well that was easy. All we had to do was create three squares using some lines. Feather is gone. Now Timmy. The world goes black again.

——————–R-E-A-L-I-T-Y——————–

We’re awake again. Feather, Timmy, Bucky, Istar, Lunefasentia, and I are the only ones awake so far. Istar’s puppy came through to the dream world. The bunny’s back as well. Gell and (Nick’s Character) are awake now. Let’s see if anyone else can get out of the dreamworld. Duke Brilliance, Lisa, and Kaylen are awake. Bart and Malone are awake. There are still some people asleep. Ok. Everyone’s awake! The Nightmare left since we all played the games.

Here comes limbo. I’ll write more tomorrow.

Círdan’s Note: What an enchanting tale of a Nightmare who’s only wish was to not be alone. Thanks for a great recap, Jim! 
Send us an owl: What do you think of the story so far? Are you excited to see what happens to the company next time? I know I am!

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Buy a Great Series, Support Grey Havens YA!

You can probably tell that here at Grey Havens YA, we love books, and that makes it pretty exciting when the authors of those books love us back! This holiday season, the brilliant Colorado author Stant Litore is offering readers a chance to buy some great books and support Grey Havens YA all in one transaction. Keep reading to find out how!

fb_img_1448597602611.jpgStant has been a constant supporter of the Grey Havens Group, and we consider him a member even though he doesn’t live in the area. He is a part of our community, and we are honored to know him. Some of you may remember that he was one of our guest authors at the Grey Havens Real Myth and Mithril Symposium last April. It was there that he really started to connect with and experience the magic that is Grey Havens YA. In a follow-up post about the event, he writes: “Talking with these teens who are fully embracing, unashamed, their love of the imagination — all I can say is that I would have given a great deal to be part of such a group when I was a teen.”

Stant is the author of many daring works, but it’s his first series that’ll hook you and reel you in as a fangirl for life: The Zombie Bible. These five* books re-imagine Biblical stories and ancient legends as if they were set in the larger context of humanity’s constant struggle against hunger…. and the hungry dead.

We don’t think we need to say any more than that, because we know you’re intrigued already — but we will! Reading Stant’s series will not only enrich your imagination and engage your philosophical thinking, but when you purchase the Silver Edition Digital Box Set before the end of December, 50% of the royalties will be donated to Grey Havens YA.  All for only $5.99, 60% off the individual price! What a great deal!

Read more from Stant’s post on his website:

GHYA is a shoestring-budget operation, and I want to help by giving them 50% of my royalties for The Zombie Bible: Silver Edition Digital Box Set to GHYA through December 31, 2015. Please help me by sharing the word and, of course, by buying the books! If I can get GHYA just $250, that supplies their book budget for the spring. If I can get them $500-$1000, they’ll be able to increase their membership, or perhaps get equipment to replace the truly archaic and at-the-brink-of-breaking computers and projectors they currently work with.

zombiebibleStant is an incredible human being, and we’re so glad to be able to offer you such a fun and easy way to support us this season. Who knew you could do your Black Friday / Small Business Saturday / Cyber Monday shopping AND support Grey Havens YA at the same time?! Thanks, Stant! Click here to see the other ways you can support us.

*The Silver Edition Digital Box Set includes The Zombie Bible Volumes 1-5. Volume 6 will be released in 2016 — so go ahead and get caught up now! 😉

Send us an owl: Which is your favorite Stant Litore book?

The Right to Free Imagination

Círdan’s Note: Grey Havens YA just finished discussing our fourth book, Epic by Conor Kostick. Robyn, our co-director, also recently finished an old book she acquired at Readcon: Reading Lolita in Tehran by Azar Nafisi. She wanted to share these thoughts with you.

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Here at Grey Havens YA, we place tremendous value on the imagination. We often say, “Nothing was ever made by human hands or realized in the intellect that was not first conceived of in the imagination,” and you can read more about that on our about page.

Dr. Azar Nafisi writes of the importance of imagination and literature in her memoir:
“I have this recurring fantasy that one more article has been added to the Bill of Rights: the right to free access to imagination. I have come to believe that genuine democracy cannot exist without the freedom to imagine and the right to use imaginative works without any restrictions. To have a whole life, one must have the possibility of publicly shaping and expressing private worlds, dreams, thoughts and desires, of constantly having access to a dialogue between the public and private worlds. How else do we know that we existed, felt, desired, hated, feared?

“We speak of facts, yet facts exist only partially to us if they are not repeated and re-created through emotions, thoughts and feelings. To me it seemed as if we had not really existed, or only have existed, because we could not imaginatively realize ourselves and communicate to the world, because we had used works of imagination to serve as handmaidens to some political ploy.”

This passage made me think both of the world in Epic and the world of Grey Haven YA. The characters of Epic play a game, a game that is not played or explored for pleasure, but rather studied and completed for the sake of government. The game is the government, it’s how those in power control the people. At the end of the novel, we glimpse a possibility for a new way of government, and we talked about this in depth at our last meeting.

We talked about how the powerful in Epic seek to control the universities, and Kelly and I mentioned the idea that if you control the universities, you control the knowledge, the culture of the people. Nafisi faced this in real life in Tehran where she tried to teach literature for its own sake and not the government’s.

Even when learning about literature in the United States, one still has to fight for the beauty of it over the end result of a test score. A few of our members have told us that they don’t mind if we read books in the group that they’ve already studied in school because at Grey Havens YA, “We get to talk about the book a lot more and go deeper than we ever did in class.” It is a joy to see our YA members express their love for stories and to get to see them embrace imagination.

I don’t at all mean to downplay the horrors of the real government that Nafisi and her students faced in Tehran. What I mean to say is that I am so grateful for the insights in her book, and I am grateful that a group like Grey Havens YA exists where imagination can be encouraged and nurtured.

Our culture right now is obsessed with STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering and Math) fields, and our young adults are caught in the tension between wanting to create but also wanting to code. Many of them want to be both artists and scientists. Isn’t it true that there could be no STEM without first imagination? And to nurture the imagination, one must first nurture the value of story. I’m so honored that we get to do that here in Grey Havens YA.

As Albert Einstein said: “Imagination is more important than knowledge. For knowledge is limited to all we now know and understand, while imagination embraces the entire world, and all there ever will be to know and understand.”

If you live in the Boulder County area and would like the chance to nurture your own imagination a little more while also helping out Grey Havens YA, stop by Lucky’s Market in Longmont on Saturday, November 21st from 11am-4pm to Gobble Up a Good Book. You can donate any amount and take home a mysterious wrapped book. We hope to see you there!

Send us an owl: What are you thoughts on the value of imagination? 

A Trip To Hogwarts!

Círdan’s Note: Not only did Grey Havens YA lead a magical Hogwarts Preparatory Academy this summer, but also some of our assistant professors got to visit the real Hogwarts! We are fortunate to have an account brought to us by Assistant Professor Noble. Enjoy her tale and her photos below!

Hogwarts Castle

About a month ago I received a letter from Hogwarts School of Witchcraft and Wizardry stating that I was to report to Diagon Alley and board the Hogwarts Express, courtesy of the Hogwarts Railways, to the one and only Hogsmeade and the famous wizarding school itself! Why, you could only guess what emotions I was feeling! You rarely hear about wizards from other wizarding schools being asked to visit Hogwarts! I am currently a witch at the Beauxbatons Academy of Magic or, for us, l’académie de magie de Beauxbâtons which is an all female wizarding school located in France. Perhaps you have seen us compete at Hogwarts for eternal glory during the Triwizard Tournament? So of course, without a second to spare, I found my trusty Silver Arrow, and was off to Diagon Alley to accept this offer. I would have used my fireplace, but sadly I ran out of floo powder. (I would have made some, but nobody can quite get the recipe right! I don’t want to look like a mess when I arrive at Hogwarts.)

When I arrived in Diagon Alley, I paid a special visit to my vault at Gringotts to snag some galleons, and ran around like a mad woman trying to buy everything I might possibly need for this weekend at the best school in the world, I finally decided to dash over to the platform to board the Hogwarts Express. Whoa! As I was on my way to Hogsmeade, I made the startling discovery that I only had four galleons in my pocket by the time I was done! I ended up spending a little more galleons than I had planned… I mean, doesn’t everyone who goes to Diagon Alley visit Madam Malkins for a robe and scarf, the Leaky Cauldron for a bite to eat and a butter beer, Weasley’s Wizard Wheezes for some laughs and love potions, Florean Fortescue’s Ice Cream Parlour for a sweet treat, Ollivanders for a much needed wand repair, Scribbulus Writing Instruments for fancy new writing quill, and still have money to spare? I mean, I didn’t buy too much butter beer or pumpkin juice. Only enough to satisfy myself.

Hogwarts Express Sign

When the train finally pulled up at Hogsmeade and I managed to squeeze out of the busy station, I breathed a sigh of relief. I have made it! In the distance you could see the castle towering above everything on a beautiful cliff. I scurried through the village dropping by Honeydukes to give up my last four galleons to purchase some Bertie Botts Every Flavour Beans. Right when I opened one and plopped one into my mouth, I knew I made a terrible mistake! It was a troll bogey flavor! And, in an attempt to counter this terrible taste, I had another. I must be a magnet for bad bean flavors. It ended up being a dog food bean! After that, I stuck the beans into my robe pocket and vowed not to eat them until I got back from Hogwarts. I will have to combat the flavors at a later time. I am still a little shaky from the incident, but I am on my way to a brilliant recovery. Perhaps soon I will be strong enough to continue eating them.

Bertie Botts Beans

Hogwarts Symbol

After leaving Hogsmeade, I stood before the bridge leading to the castle and I stared at two of the pillars at the entry way. Writing appeared and disappeared in a blink of an eye. Magical writing that is. What did the writing say? I can not quite remember. My sister, currently a bold Slytherin at Hogwarts, could tell you but as for myself, I think I accidentally had a small sip of a forgetfulness potion while I was lounging around in the Gryffindorr Common Room. The inside of Hogwarts was truly magical though. Talking pictures, which know exactly where you are at every time, magical classrooms, ghosts, common rooms, stained glass, witches, wizards, magic,  you name it! It was breathtaking. Now, the argument that another fellow witch of mine had with the Fat Lady was rather odd though. Even though she was a Gryffindorr, she was denied access into the common room several times after the argument until the Fat Lady finally gave in and let us enter. That of course gave the rest of the witches and wizards behind us a laugh. I spent the night there in the Gryffindorr common room, even though I would say that I am a Hufflepuff at heart, and the next day I was able to advance deeper into the castle and learn even more about Hogwarts. I even got a sneak peak at Dumbledoor’s office and the famous sorting hat!

My time at Hogwarts was short and I have no doubt that I will be back some day in the future. I have several friends there that I intend to visit, as well as family. There is so much to tell you, but right now, the quill that I purchased in Diagon Alley is running low on ink so I must go buy some more before I can talk my experiences that I had there in greater detail. But for right now, that is all that I can write. Hopefully, I will be able to collect enough galleons to buy more ink since this trip wiped out the majority of my vault! Wish me luck!

Best,

Catherine Noble

Witch at the Beauxbatons Academy of Magic

What A Nerd Looks Like in Germany!

Círdan’s note: We are thrilled that the essays written by our members have sparked a movement for others to share what being a nerd looks like. Today, it is Grey Havens YA’s tremendous pleasure to get to share with you the following essay from one of our social media friends. Isn’t the internet incredible? We’ll let Julian introduce himself to you; we hope you are inspired and we welcome you to share your own stories with us! What does being a nerd mean to you? How are you spreading nerdiness to those around you? Please send us an owl (comment below) or email us at greyhavensya@gmail.com. #ThisIsWhatANerdLooksLike

Friendship, Inspiration, Creativity: A Little Nerd Manifesto by a German High School Teacher

wpid-julian.jpgMy name is Julian Eilmann and I am a 35-year-old high school teacher (subjects: German, History, Filmmaking) at the Inda-Gymnasium in Aachen, Germany. I would like to introduce you to the Inda-Fellowship, which is the only school based Tolkien club for young people in our country. Our nice school is based at the green borders of our lovely home town Aachen, which is one of the most western cities in Germany next to the Dutch border.

Being a nerd seems to be the same in the USA and Germany these days. Although nerdism appears to be just another trend in mainstream culture for some years now and everyone who wants to be cool is wearing “nerd glasses,” this is not what nerdism is all about. Being a nerd is all about dedication, enthusiasm, and a true love for great stories and characters in all their manifestations (books, films, comics, games etc.). And this is what the Inda-Fellowship is all about too. So, are we, in this sense, nerds? Of course we are. Our Fellowship is the home for all lovers of fantasy at our school!

We are all dedicated to the works of the founder of the modern fantasy genre, J.R.R. Tolkien, author of The Hobbit and The Lord of the Rings. When I founded this club in 2010, I had been a Tolkien and fantasy fan since my own youth. Since I first listened to the great German audio play of The Lord of the Rings on the radio at the age of 12, a new and wonderful world was in my imagination. In the following years I read everything from Tolkien I could get my hands on and played the pen and paper role-playing games with my friends (does anyone remember MERP? – that was fun!). This was another fine way to become part of this world of endless adventures. In some ways, I have been under a spell ever since these days and have been constantly enchanted by Middle-earth, which is in fact an imaginary home for me where my thoughts travel at least once each day. Apart from enjoying Tolkien’s work just for my pleasure, I have been researching Tolkien’s work for a decade now and am right now writing my PhD study on “Tolkien: Romanticist and Poet.”

wpid-inda-group.jpg.jpegTolkien’s Middle-earth novels and, even more so, my beloved Silmarillion do leave me breathless and still fill me with great joy. When in the end Frodo passed away into the West, there were some tears, but we learn from the wisdom of a famous grey Wizard that “not all tears are an evil.” These misty eyes do rather signify that you have made a great experience. One you will never forget. I can truthfully say that I got inspired by Tolkien and have been for my whole life now. And now it is my goal as a teacher to inspire children and teenagers at my school, because I am convinced that Tolkien has left us in fact a modern mythology that offers endless joy, excitement, and wisdom for each generation.

And it warms my heart that the Inda-Fellowship has been progressing so well over the years. At the moment, the group consist of 17 boys and girls of the age of 11-17 and four teachers, who love to immerse themselves in Middle-earth with these wonderful kids. As has been said, being a nerd for us means dedication to our hobby – or rather our passion. Therefore, it comes as no surprise that our group motto is “Friendship, Inspiration, and Creativity!” Our Fellowship is the place where one can meet likeminded people who share the same love for imagination and fantasy, especially in the works of Tolkien, but also apart from that. And, as friendship is a major topic in The Hobbit and The Lord of the Rings, we are forming our own alliance to spend time together in our beloved Middle-earth. It is a delight for everyone involved – teachers as well! – to debate all things concerning Tolkien and beyond. Friendship means that everyone’s opinion is valued, and in a relaxed atmosphere one can feel free to share his ideas with other Tolkien nerds in the group. For example, we have two teenage boys in our group who started in our Fellowship when they were in 5th class. Now they attend 10th class, are in their home-stretch for the final exams in two years – but are still among us. In fact, they have spent their whole high school time in our group which proves that this group can be more than just another afternoon school club.

Furthermore, the Inda-Fellowship offers many ways for young people to get inspired. The last five years have shown how we all get constantly inspired by our joint exploration of Middle-earth. One source of inspiration was our journey to Tokien’s Oxford in the winter of 2011, where we had the chance to take a look at Tolkien’s manuscripts at the Bodleian Library and visited the picturesque Merton College, where the professor lived. To get so close to our beloved author and the place where he created his mythology was the chance of a lifetime for participants. Some of the kids said: “This was the best time of my life yet!” For me, it is a lasting experience too.

wpid-inda-cosplay.jpg.jpegThe third pillar of our group is creativity, which is a force that is essential for Tolkien’s work. We don’t want to be passive too. We rather want to get our bottoms up and find interesting ways to create something our own. Recently we have spent quite some time producing hilarious stop-motion films with Hobbit Lego sets. This has been a lot of fun for us and we received a lot of positive response from the audience. Right now, we are building Middle-earth models in the school’s workshop. If you can imagine 17 boys and girls and four teachers working with clay, wood and paint to build the Black Gate of Mordor, a Hobbit Mill or a Rohan house, this is exactly what we have been doing the last months.

We have lots of great ideas for the future, and we love to get in contact with other Tolkien fans around the world. Although Middle-earth will ever be the core of our group activities, we also like to chat about other fantastic universes. With this in mind, we greet the Grey Havens YA – you guys seem to have as much fun as we do and we wish you all the best for your future.

To learn more about Julian and the Inda-Fellowship, check out their website: https://indagefaehrten.wordpress.com/ 

When Fandoms Collide: The Quest for the Mithril Coat

At the Grey Havens Symposium titled Real Myth and Mithril 2015, Grey Havens YA performed their latest fandom skit. Named “When Fandoms Collide: The quest for the Mithril Coat,” this skit combines some of our favorite characters in a plot so delightful that it perfectly compliments its predecessor “The Hobbit: An Unexpected Journey, When Fandoms Unexpectedly Collide.” Our members devised the plot and wrote this themselves, including the incredible puns at the end. Watch the skit here, and, if you’d like to read the full transcript, see more below the video! #ThisIsWhatANerdLooksLike

Continue reading When Fandoms Collide: The Quest for the Mithril Coat

How do you nerd?

Grey Havens YA has been taking the #ThisIsWhatANerdLooksLike campaign on the road, and it’s been a pretty awesome journey! First, we stopped at the Longmont Museum’s Robots Rising exhibit. Next, we headed to the Longmont Library’s Summer Reading Program Kick-Off.  As seen on Twitter, the signs have been traveling far and wide, but sometimes we also get to have a Nerd Table. The Nerd Table encourages patrons to be a part of our interactive art project by drawing or writing about how they nerd. This could include anything from fandoms to sports to hobbies to equations– and even to equations that when read aloud become limericks. It’s been quite an amazing and nerd-tastic experience! Check out some of our photos below, and like our Facebook page for even more nerdy content.

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At the Library, we also did a short presentation of our Fitness for Nerds program! It was so fun to replicate this program for younger kids. I think our members had a blast leading it, and we saw so many little ones laughing and dancing.

wpid-wp-1432577330804.jpeg wpid-wp-1432577343064.jpegDance like Baby Groot is my favorite! We also did some nerd yoga, Hermione hand-raises, and fangirling. And of course, we had to end with The Big Finish:

wpid-wp-1432577315354.jpegIt was fantastic!

For more photo fun, remember to check out our Facebook page. If you want to bring Fitness for Nerds to your community, leave us a comment or send us an email. Thanks for all the fun and support. Remember, it’s how you love it!

 Send us an owl: How do YOU nerd?

What a Nerd Looks Like: Guardians and Game-Changers

We hope you’ve enjoyed all four of our recent essays about Grey Havens YA and being a nerd. This next post comes to us from Judah. He wrote this after our April symposium, but we’ve had so much content to share with you that we are just now able to publish it. Judah wrote this because he felt inspired to do so, not because we asked him to, and we hope that it will inspire you too. Please consider sharing with us your own stories and supporting our group. Thanks! Now #ThisIsWhatANerdLooksLike, and it is amazing.

wpid-wp-1431895064722.jpeg I was asked a life changing question this weekend. Well- more of a request. But still, it changed my way of thought, and reminded me of my childhood. I attended an event called The Real Myth and Mithril Symposium, an event created by The Grey Havens Group. The Grey Havens Group is an educated group of Tolkien fans that organize events such as The Real Myth and Mithril Symposium. At the Symposium, numerous panels and roundtable discussions were conducted. I had the honor of being on the Grey Havens Young Adult panel along with some of my young adult friends that were within the group. Grey Havens YA is a young adult group dedicated to young people that have a passion for reading, and is a place where we are free to express ourselves. The panel was a great deal of fun, and we were laughing the whole time. The adults in the room marveled at how free we were, talking about our fandoms (a fandom is any sort of thing you are a fanatic about). We discussed our favorite fandom, how we joined the group, and what we liked about meetings.

Later on in the panel, towards the end, a woman raised her hand and said something I will not soon forget- she said something along the lines of: “I admire how freely you express yourselves. I want to commend you on it. But I want you to remember those kids who don’t express freely like you.” There was a hint of desperation in her voice. “Those kids who hug the walls, who are silenced by everyone around them. They are nerds, just like you, but in a different way. Find them, and help them. Please.” She asked.

That made me think. It made me think hard. I recalled being in middle school, and realizing that hugging the walls was not an option for me.

I saw those kids, and I avoided them. I forced myself into popularity, and started accruing talents to help me in my journey to popularity. I did not realize that that was a path to high school celebrity, but then later, a real life nobody. Those kids who hugged the walls are the people going somewhere. But how are they to go somewhere if there are football players and cheerleaders harassing them, or just blatantly ignoring them? How can anyone be successful if no one around them is urging them to be? No person can have success if they are being told they can’t be successful.
But that brings up a brand new topic: what about the adults in their lives?

If no one is bringing them to adults that can help them, and if they are too afraid to talk to their teachers, then what authority figure can help them? No adult is going to stop the so called “positive insults” that happen in schools. They ignore it. We need people who are going to act.

I go to Skyline High School. There, the adults do try to stop the bullying, but it doesn’t work. They don’t have the power to stop anything that someone says to another at schools. Adults try their hardest to stop it, but it just isn’t working. I still see kids everyday, that walk into school, afraid just to walk down the middle of the halls. They have been told by everyone that they are ‘different’. And according to those people, this kind of different is not welcome in their comfort zone. But did they stop to think that different may be good? And that maybe that kind of different is acceptable?

I have tried to talk to some of them, and they just turn away. They rush down the side of the hallway, glancing around nervously. The wall has become their savior. If they even try to be confident, they are crushed immediately by the crowd of rushing teens, all desperate to make their mark. What is some random kid to them?

I think its time to stand up. I know that you have seen kids, and even adults, that struggle with this. So please, listen to what I’m saying here. Help them, and guide them if you are an adult. If you have children, tell those children to respect everyone else. They can be above the bullies, and they can befriend that boy who likes computer programing. They can hang out with that girl who likes Doctor Who. They can even get along with them.

If you are reading this as a young adult, then I know that you know what I’m talking about. You can look into their faces and see it. Try walking next to them in the halls, even if you don’t talk to them. Sit at their table, even if they don’t look at you. Invite them to sit with you at lunch. You may find them a lot more fun than they appear to be.

But then there are those of you who are that kid. You see all these teenagers, laughing and having fun, and you walk to the side. Well I’m going to tell you this. You don’t have to walk along the side of the walls. Walk alongside everyone else. You are just as good as they are. If you can, find people that will talk to you, hang out with you, and respect you. I know you can. I believe in you. All of you. You can be that person that everyone follows around. You can be that person that people confide in. You are a human being, with the same rights as everyone else. So get out there… And be the best kind of human. Whether you are a Whovian, a computer nerd, an athlete, or just yourself. Get out there. Be yourself. And be confident.

Send us an owl: What do you think of Judah’s challenge to be yourself and stand up for others? Will you be a guardian and a game-changer? #ThisIsWhatANerdLooksLike

What a Nerd Looks Like: Connecting and Blooming

You are amazing! Our #ThisIsWhatANerdLooksLike campaign just keeps getting bigger and bigger. Remember, we’re continuing to share some great pictures on our Facebook and Twitter, so please message and tweet us @GreyHavensYA with the hashtag and/or send us your photos and nerd stories via email at greyhavensya@gmail.com.

In case you missed it, here’s the essay from Ethan that started it all. You’ll also want to check out our second essay from Eliza here. But that’s not all– check out our third essay from Roxy too. And don’t forget to read our most recent essay by Katie and Jayne here.

Now, we would like to share with you the final essay submitted to us for our at Denver Comic Con panel. I cannot believe that only less than a month ago, we asked our members to write a minimum of 250 words about what Grey Havens YA and fandom culture mean to them, just so we could confirm their commitment to be a part of our small 4-member panel. Those essays sparked a movement — they even sparked Kelly and Robyn to ask DCC if we could bring all 6 with us, and so we shall! — AND we’ve got more writing to share with you in the coming weeks from our other members who were inspired to share their thoughts and their stories with us to show the world what a nerd really looks like.

This essay comes to us from Kaiya, one of Grey Havens YA’s younger members. It has been a privilege to watch Kaiya grow in the past two years and to see her find community in our small, amazing group of nerds. If you want to help Grey Havens YA continue to thrive, please consider supporting us, and check out our Community Programming page to find out how you can bring a part of Grey Havens YA magic to your community. We also always welcome TARDIS phone-calls.

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My mom is a member of the Grey Havens Group in Longmont, CO. About a year and a half ago, she found something, called Fandoms Unite, that the leader of this group does on the second Saturday of every month. So, in October I went to see what is was about. That was also the day that they were talking about and signing up for a new group that Kelly (the leader of GHG)  was starting, Grey Havens Young Adult (or Grey Havens YA). It was to be a Sci Fi and Fantasy Book Group for young adults in the Longmont area. When we first started meeting, I was kind of shy and quiet, but as we kept meeting I made friends and realized that these people understood me. Whenever I would say something about Doctor Who or Supernatural at dance or with family friends, they didn’t know what I was talking about, but these people did, they even agreed with me!

Before Grey Havens YA, I didn’t really have anything that I was excited for. There was nothing that I was like “oh I just can’t wait,” but now every week I’m looking forward to our meetings, I’m looking forward to Fandoms Unite, I’m looking forward to all our discussions. We help the community, put on shows like the Geek Show we had last summer. We teach, we sing, and most of all, we have fun. For our first book, we read The Hobbit by J.R.R. Tolkien, and when we were finishing this book our discussions kept leading back to dragons, so once we finished the book we had a meeting all about dragons. We taught each other what we knew, we shared pictures we had drawn, poems we had heard, everything. Not because we had to or because we were reading a book about it, but because we wanted to, and one of the librarians had heard us talking about all these dragons, so she wanted us to teach a class or event about dragons, as a part of their summer reading program. We taught them how to raise dragons, how to draw dragons, what different kinds of dragons there are, we did lots of fun dragon crafts, and sung the Dragon Tales theme song. It was a lot of fun.

Last year, we also got invited to be a part of Mythcon 45, and this year we get to host a panel at Denver Comic Con, these are some of the reasons I love being a part of Grey Havens YA. It gives me something to look forward to. It’s a place where I can be myself and thrive. Grey Havens YA has changed my life forever.

 

Send us an owl: Where do you find your community, your place to truly be yourself?

What a Nerd Looks Like: Confidence and Friendship

Have you been following our #ThisIsWhatANerdLooksLike campaign? It’s really taking off, and we couldn’t be more excited. We’re continuing to share some great pictures on our Facebook and Twitter. We’re even bringing this campaign to the people and asking Longmont community members one question: How do you nerd? We had a great time at the Longmont Museum and Cultural Center this weekend, and we’ll be at the Longmont Library’s Summer Reading Kickoff on May 21st. Thank you everyone for your awesome support!

In case you missed it, here’s the essay from Ethan that started it all. You’ll also want to check out our second essay from Eliza here. But that’s not all– check out our third essay from Roxy too. And now we’re going to share another one with you!

Robyn here. I would like to take a moment to personally introduce our next essay from Katie and Jayne. This friendship between two of our YA members warms my heart, and their confidence inspires me. When I was a young adult nerd, I never had such confidence in myself that I see in these two, and it is a privilege to watch them thrive in their element. Come see us all at Denver Comic Con on Sunday, May 24th!
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We are awesome, and everyone needs to know this. Okay, not everyone. We aren’t really as egotistical as Tony Stark, but we do not hide our tendency to be rather epic. Our fuel comes from passion, a power so intense it could power a T.A.R.D.I.S. Various forms of nerd culture are at the  center of our existence. Being a nerd is part of who we are.

Our lives revolve around nerd culture. Without that passion as a driving force, our lives would be quite dull and boring (not very fun…). Starting back from when our young minds were ready to be filled, fandoms opened up. Even before we knew it was LARPing and fangirling, we were pretending to be wizards or superheroes. Places like game stores, comic shops, and most importantly, conventions, are where we find our people, where we fit in. These places are all but native to us. With lifelong nerdiness and leading lives involving frequent and joyful interactions with other nerd lifeforms, we are great candidates for the ComicCon panel.

In addition to being nerdy through and through, we are really attractive. Okay, okay, that sounds ridiculously self-centered of us. But the primary point of such a bold statement is that we can pull off some pretty epic cosplays! This means some fun banter and awesome, convincing acting; it is natural for us to slide into character. We are also really good at bouncing off of what the other says, and the conversation doesn’t really die. Beside that point, this means some pretty awesome and interested nerdy people – being a human magnet can work here! I don’t know about you, but more people in the audience is better- come for the attractive people and stay for the epic nerdiness! Drawing others in and having some pretty great entertainment is definitely excellent. Also, did I mention that we are super humble?

A main part of our usefulness in a panel situation comes from our communication. Our communication skills are more than efficient. With a combination of the previously mentioned easy banter and ability to respond well and nicely, the conversation will continue to thrive in a nicely simple way. Even with the occasional strange connection we pull from our deep vortex well of experiences, it is not difficult to tie the discussion back nicely and understandably. Even an odd question can be deciphered by our intricate minds, and we can keep positive up against the potentially very odd comment. We can also present two different arguments and respect both sides without attacking each other. The two of us have a good system of reining each other in if one gets distracted or goes off on a tangent.

We decided to write this essay together because we both want to be on the panel, and neither of us want to be on the panel without the other. At school and at Grey Havens, we are usually seen as a “set.” At school it’s typically Katie and Xan and at Grey Havens it’s Katie and Jayne. Grey Havens YA itself is the reason for this. My (Jayne’s) mum gave me a flyer in October of 2013 about a Fandoms Unite event at the library.  I was planning a totally awesome and geeky mash-up costume, so I had to tell the one person I occasionally talked to in French class all about it (who sported a Thor costume the day I wore some Ironman gear).  She asked what it was for and I told her about the library event, and she immediately wanted to go.  This person was Katie.  I really had no intention of inviting her, but at Fandoms Unite we pretended to be friends because we didn’t really know anyone else, and then we just didn’t stop pretending to be friends.  We initially laughed at the article in the paper about Grey Havens YA because it said “Now, Cook and her good friend Brown run a monthly trivia night during the Longmont Library’s After Dark event.”  We’re not just good friends, we’re Sam and Dean, Loki and Thor, Sherlock and Watson.  And we owe this friendship/brotherhood to Grey Havens YA.

Send us an owl: What’s your nerd story? Do you have any friendships/brotherhoods that were based on/started with Fandoms?