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The One Ring Forums: Tolkien Topics: Reading Room:
The TAS Feedback Thread, for the July 2013 TAS

TORn Amateur Symposium
Bree


Jul 29 2013, 3:00am

Post #1 of 25 (393 views)
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The TAS Feedback Thread, for the July 2013 TAS Can't Post

The TAS team wants YOUR feedback, TORn Brethren!

Not that the July, 2013 TAS is at an end - it's not! Please do feel free to continue discussions, and enjoy the fine offerings from our authors.


We want to thank everyone involved in this, the first TORn Amateur Symposium, including the TORn Modar and Founders, our membership and very particularly our authors. This has been a wonderful experience, and it could not have happened without the support, enthusiasm and talent of all of you!

What we would like to know today is what you thought of the Symposium in its first launch. We would like to know, for the future improvement of the TAS, what things you thought worked and what didn't work; things you liked and things you did not. Perhaps some ideas you would like to see. We are interested in what you thought about:


- The structure of the TAS

- The pace of the Symposium

- The visual elements, such as the layout and the hosting

- The use of Category posting

- Specifically, the idea of the essays being available for reading one week before the discussion threads open, to allow Members and Guests to view the pieces and have more time to formulate opinions.



And anything else you want to tell us!

We plan on taking all of your thoughts into account, to continue make the TAS grow even more, in the spirit of enjoyable inquiry. We will take all of your comments into account to continue to further develop the TAS. If you wish to discuss something with us more privately, you can PM the TAS username with any issue you would like to bring up.

The next Symposium is planned for November 10, 2013. So .... do you have an idea about something interesting that relates to JRRT's world? If so, start writing! We would love to see YOUR ideas HERE, in the next TORn Amateur Symposium!



Magpie
Immortal


Jul 29 2013, 5:24am

Post #2 of 25 (269 views)
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pace: too fast [In reply to] Can't Post

I'd be lucky to get one paper read a week. Two maybe. But I just got overwhelmed with the volume and pace.

If I read, I need to post then. Or all is forgotten. Making me wait won't help. Posting 1-3 a week and allowing immediate discussion is best.

If you do a grouping of abt. 3 a week, then each one can go in it's own thread and it will be slightly easier to track the conversation, as well.


LOTR soundtrack website ~ magpie avatar gallery
TORn History Mathom-house ~ Torn Image Posting Guide


demnation
Rohan

Jul 29 2013, 8:55am

Post #3 of 25 (259 views)
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I'll echo Magpie [In reply to] Can't Post

and say it's moving a tad too fast. Other than that, this whole thing has turned out great, I think! Congrats to all involved.

"In the beginning the Universe was created.This has made a lot of people very angry and been widely regarded as a bad move.” Douglas Adams, The Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy


Lothwen
Rivendell


Jul 29 2013, 9:55am

Post #4 of 25 (246 views)
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I second everything [In reply to] Can't Post

Magpie has said. I think it would be better to stagger the release of the essays more, and have separate threads for each one. Maybe you could have a category a week.

Thanks Brethil, Daniel and Elaen for making this TAS possible. Smile


Followed by that awkwarder moment when you realize that you think this is awesome...


noWizardme
Tol Eressea


Jul 29 2013, 12:33pm

Post #5 of 25 (241 views)
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Congratulations... [In reply to] Can't Post

...to both organizers and contributors. It clearly has been a major success. Thank you all.

The range of subjects, and quality of the contributions was great.
I had no problems accessing the essays on Google - a good way of doing this, I think.
I had the good luck to have plenty of time for reading that week, so kept up - but that would not have been the case in other weeks, and I agree that it would be good to experiment with a slower pace. I'm sure there will never be any pace which perfectly suits all - we had an uncannily similar discussion about how fast to do the current Silmarillion read-through, which is proceeding at ~1 chapter/week. But too fast can be daunting - especially if the paper stimulates a lot of discussion (a late-comer then has to read that too, so as not to repeat points made "upthread"). Maybe a paper a day?
I liked the division into themes - I can see that sometimes several papers hang together to make a larger whole (the two papers about communication and sentience with/of animals for example). But largely, if the papers had been presented 1 per day/week whatever, then that would have been fine too.

Presenting the papers before comments are allowed - not sure how you would in practice do that - whatever thread you post can be replied to immediately (by the impatient or inattentive).. For myself, the opportunity to read in advance & be ready would sometimes be helpful, but sometimes not (depends upon whether I find time to read it during the read-only phase; also whether it is the essay, or someone else's comments which spurs me to comment myself).

I would have liked papers to have had a short abstract, presented in the forum post announcing them. Not only would that give one an impression of the author's main arguments before reading the paper, but it will help people and search engines in the future, tracking down these essays for re-reading, or for reading by people who have not yet joined us.

I'm glad there will be another one in the autumn - looking forward to it already. Cool

Disclaimers: The words of noWizardme may stand on their heads! I'm often wrong about things, and its fun to be taught more....

"nowimė I am in the West, Furincurunir to the Dwarves (or at least, to their best friend) and by other names in other lands. Mostly they just say 'Oh no it's him - look busy!' "
Or "Hold off! unhand me, grey-beard loon!"


rangerfromthenorth
Rivendell

Jul 29 2013, 2:50pm

Post #6 of 25 (229 views)
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speed or amount [In reply to] Can't Post

A slower process may have worked, or limiting the amount of entries. Perhaps having potential writers turn in an abstract and then selecting a total of 3-5 papers for each symposium. I am not sure if we got so many papers because it was the first time and the numbers will go down, or if the number of entries will increase because of the success of it all. Fewer entries I feel may be the best route to go.

Not all who wander are lost


telain
Rohan

Jul 29 2013, 3:50pm

Post #7 of 25 (218 views)
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Thank you! [In reply to] Can't Post

...to all who organized, sent out reminder messages, wrote essays, and/or posted comments. I was (am still!) genuinely energized by the TAS: the whole idea of TAS, the range of topics, the fact that so many different people were involved -- truly great fun!

Things I liked:
Range of topics! People are so creative...
Participation by a wide variety of posters (especially those posters I don't get to read --- for whatever reason -- as often.)
Well-written essays of many styles (one doesn't have to write like an academic to participate in TAS and I think that should definitely continue to be encouraged!)
Well organized! The way it was run clearly contributed to the success of the first TAS and this includes the Structure and Layout -- I had no problem accessing any of the essays.

Other things
Personally, my only disappointment is that I was unable to participate more. I was teaching a 4 week intensive university summer course and the week that TAS was presented online was the final week of classes, which meant I had significantly less time (and mental energy). I read almost all the essays, but my ability to comment was severely hampered (especially after the discussions got going!)

But I also wonder if the next one might be organized in-between book discussions (or within a pre-arranged hiatus from book discussion)? Not only was I behind in the TAS, but now I am also dreadfully lost re: the Sil discussion... That might have happened anyway, but maybe I wouldn't feel so behind...

Some have suggested a slower pace -- maybe two or three days per topic? I wouldn't want much more than that for fear of losing cohesiveness and/or momentum.


dernwyn
Forum Admin / Moderator


Jul 29 2013, 4:27pm

Post #8 of 25 (222 views)
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Agreeing with Magpie and Telain. [In reply to] Can't Post

On both pros and cons. The range of presentations is fantastic, and proof that there are some very talented folks here! Cool

But I'm still working my way through the essays, and have not yet had a chance to respond. Unsure I like the idea of a slower pace, with one topic a week, if there's 2-4 essays per topic. And maybe hold it at 12 maximum submissions per Symposium?


~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~

"I desired dragons with a profound desire"






DanielLB
Immortal


Jul 29 2013, 5:56pm

Post #9 of 25 (211 views)
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Thanks for the feedback so far everyone. [In reply to] Can't Post

We had discussed about using abstracts in posts - however, it was a late minute thought between us, so we didn't want to ask for authors to give us more. It's something that we're very likely to implement next time round. It might be nice to spread it out longer as well, as long as people are happy for TAS to take up Reading Room space over longer periods.

I'm not sure how we could limit submissions for each symposium. We always want(ed) to emphasise that anyone can pull out whenever they want. We could have back-up essays, but it seems unfair for someone to have written a 2-3000 word essay, only for it not to be read. Likewise, how do we chose the 12 submissions to be posted? But it may never come to that - who knows what number of essays we will get next time. Just thinking out loud. Wink

And of course, if we do spread it out over a longer period, then it might not matter if there are 12+ essays - depending on the number submitted, TAS could be anywhere from a week- to a month-long event.

I want to personally thank everyone involved - all the contributors (regular and non-regulars), all the lurkers (you know who you are), and everyone that participated (you also know who you are). It has been a very fun event, and it's nice to see so much activity in the Reading Room. I also want to thank elaen32 and Brethil as well - over 200 emails later from elaen32's original idea, we were able to make it happen. Thanks everyone.

Smile

The first TORn Amateur Symposium starts this week in the Reading Room! Come and join in!



Brethil
Half-elven


Jul 29 2013, 6:34pm

Post #10 of 25 (206 views)
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Thanks Furincurunir! And everyone! [In reply to] Can't Post

For their great support and feedback!!!!

And anyone reading this that did not post - if you just read along we still value your feedback.

As Daniel posts, we will be making considerations at to pace while keeping it as open and accommodating as possible. With the creativity of our membership the topics and approaches are boundless. It may translate into longer time stretch, but that may work out just fine.

The abstract idea may work in very nicely too.

It has been an amazing experience, and I will call out a TAS Team Thank You there as well. One could not ask for better fellow Travellers on the Road! Heart

The first TORn Amateur Symposium starts this week in the Reading Room! Come and join in!









noWizardme
Tol Eressea


Jul 29 2013, 7:04pm

Post #11 of 25 (196 views)
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It would be a shame to limit the number of contributions [In reply to] Can't Post

Face-to-face symposia must limit the sessions, because you can only hire the Lecture theatre and keep people in hotels for so long. It forces the organisers to make things intense. We don't have to do that, unless we feel its a feature.

If there was a TAS so enthusiastically supported by contributors that it took months, would that actually be a problem? I don't think so (from the public-facing pov: it might become a huge amount of work unless the committee could scale up).

If contributions to a read-through or other events dropped that might be an issue, but again that's about the load on readers. Up to a point, people just come here more. Which is unpredictable, so I think the thing is to carry on trying sensible things, and adapt.

Disclaimers: The words of noWizardme may stand on their heads! I'm often wrong about things, and its fun to be taught more....

"nowimė I am in the West, Furincurunir to the Dwarves (or at least, to their best friend) and by other names in other lands. Mostly they just say 'Oh no it's him - look busy!' "
Or "Hold off! unhand me, grey-beard loon!"


elaen32
Gondor


Jul 29 2013, 9:10pm

Post #12 of 25 (191 views)
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Thanks for the Feedback so far everybody [In reply to] Can't Post

We will take all ideas into account when planning the next TAS. As Daniel and Brethil have said- we plan to ask for an abstract next time- it was a bit of a last minute idea this time, so we didn't want to make more demands on contributors, many of whom had submitted already.
Re the pacing- it is difficult to get the balance right. I am not sure that we want to limit the numbers of essays thus curbing or preventing people from contributing. The problem with planning is not knowing until relatively well on in the process what topics people are going to post on. Sometimes it would not make sense to split similar themes over several days. I myself had the same problem in keeping up, since I found my myself working 10 hour days all of last week, covering for a colleague who had told me his leave dates incorrectly Frown (not just bad planning on my part!) and I found it difficult to keep up with discussions, so I understand the problems with this. The thing is, if we string it out over too long a period, it will become "just another regular thread", which wasn't the original intention.
We will talk among ourselves and with the admin and those of you who have been involved over the weeks before the next TAS to try to improve the experience for all.
Thanks again everybody!Smile


Is there a Tolkien topic that you have wanted to look into more deeply and write about your thoughts on it? If so, we'd like to here from you for the next TORn Amateur Symposium- coming in November. Happy writing!



Aunt Dora Baggins
Half-elven


Jul 29 2013, 9:59pm

Post #13 of 25 (188 views)
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I agree with Magpie too. [In reply to] Can't Post

I skimmed through as many as I could manage (I used Natural Reader to read them out loud so I could listen while I graded papers) but I didn't have time to comment much.


~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~
"For DORA BAGGINS in memory of a LONG correspondence, with love from Bilbo; on a large wastebasket. Dora was Drogo's sister, and the eldest surviving female relative of Bilbo and Frodo; she was ninety-nine, and had written reams of good advice for more than half a century."
~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~
"A Chance Meeting at Rivendell" and other stories

leleni at hotmail dot com
~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~



rangerfromthenorth
Rivendell

Jul 30 2013, 2:57am

Post #14 of 25 (187 views)
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Abstracts and duration of symposium [In reply to] Can't Post

The idea would be to submit the abstracts for proposed topics before they were written and then select a few to be written. But it appears everyone prefers more open and more submissions which I am all for. But the question is can we sustain reading this amount for more than a one time event? Some of us yes others I bet no.

Another possibility would be to select topics and then see who writes on them but I feel that idea may be even more troublesome.

But if we go the route of having let's say one paper a week and there are twelve papers that is twelve weeks and it would hardly seem like a symposium and the plan of having a symposium every couple of months would lead to a never-ending "symposium" but that is just me thinking out loud.

Either way I think it was a smashing success! And I fully trust the leaders of it to make wise decisions!

Not all who wander are lost

(This post was edited by rangerfromthenorth on Jul 30 2013, 3:05am)


sevilodorf
Gondor


Jul 30 2013, 3:25am

Post #15 of 25 (182 views)
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Timing is everything.... [In reply to] Can't Post

how much is too much.... how much is too little....

I think that keeping it limited to a set time period rather than an on going thread is a good idea, but two weeks would be better than one because there simply were so many great ideas and not enough time to read them attentively and respond in a thoughtful manner.

The quality of writing was awesome, so applause to all the contributors.

If spread over two weeks I would say separate threads for each paper.

As for having them available to read before opening them for discussion... you're never going to be able to meet the timing needs of everyone in this huge forum, so I'd say once it's posted let the talk begin.


and... if my count is correct... I finally made it to Gondor.... I'll be here a long while I'm sure so I think I'll rent a few rooms in the third circle and enjoy a view of the river.

Fourth Age Adventures at the Inn of the Burping Troll http://burpingtroll.com





Brethil
Half-elven


Jul 30 2013, 4:03am

Post #16 of 25 (175 views)
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Thanks Sevilodorf - and welcome into Gondor! [In reply to] Can't Post

Exactly what we will be weighing over the next few months - too much versus too little.

Enjoy the new land, and the river view! Smile

The first TORn Amateur Symposium starts this week in the Reading Room! Come and join in!









sevilodorf
Gondor


Jul 30 2013, 4:49am

Post #17 of 25 (170 views)
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Thank you, it's been a long, slow trip [In reply to] Can't Post

I lurk much more than I post.

Fourth Age Adventures at the Inn of the Burping Troll http://burpingtroll.com





sador
Half-elven


Jul 31 2013, 11:23am

Post #18 of 25 (226 views)
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Time was an issue for me as well [In reply to] Can't Post

But it usually isn't, as I give the RR precedence over other forums in TORn. It's just that I wasn't on board much this week. As it is, I am still dawdling behind.

The question is whether you are aiming at a symposium, to induce people to research and write (in which case a tight schedule is fine), or at prompting discussions on a wide range of topics.
If the idea is to have people write and publish on the Internet (some people have suggested abstracts to make the essays more researchable), this also asks for a different kind of orientation - more of a critical peer review, focused on the merits and faults of the presented essays more than a free-for-all discussion of the topics presented by them. As I haven't been commenting so far on the essays, I can yet aim at either... that is, if the authors are interested in peer review. And would the essays be updated if necessary? I mean, if one of the authors has made a factual error, who does s/he submit a correction to?

A third question is whether this symposium "belongs" on the RR, or rather on Main. For instance, DwellerinDale's great essay was not about the books at all - part I was about the FotR movie and part II about the Hobbit one. But on the other hand, inducing more people to come and look in the RR is most definitely good; so I'm rather torn about this.

In general, I have enjoyed the seven or eight essays I have read so far very much, even if I take issue with the basic premises of some of them. Well done, both organisers and writers! I am not sure whether I would dare to submit one next time, even had I the time to write it!


Brethil
Half-elven


Jul 31 2013, 4:15pm

Post #19 of 25 (148 views)
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Thanks for your input Sador [In reply to] Can't Post

and glad you have had time to read some of the pieces!

Overall we aren't going for a peer-review or a correction system of perusing the essays on the merits, but more of the other format you mention, of promoting discussion on many and varied topics. This is all 'enjoyable inquiry' as we see it, and it came about with the united ideals of the practical inability for us all to have regular 'Symposiums' or conferences in person; yet appreciating that our membership both has a passion for the world of JRRT and unique personal and professional insights.

It gives people the idea to post their ideas in a longer, more fully explained and supported fashion than a simple thread post would offer. And the Reading Room seemed a good fit for us as it is 'reading' at its core - the essays themselves being the subject matter (and related to JRRT's source material.)

We note that pacing is an issue, and going forward will consider how to keep the 'event' feel while allowing more time for reading and discussion of the entries.
If you ever do decide to write something (and find the time Sador) you know where to find us! Smile We would love to feature it.

The first TORn Amateur Symposium starts this week in the Reading Room! Come and join in!









cats16
Valinor

Jul 31 2013, 10:50pm

Post #20 of 25 (152 views)
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My thoughts... [In reply to] Can't Post

I loved seeing all of this come together! I manage to lurk in the RR when I can (still trying to read The Sil. by the end of summer!!), and it was great seeing all of these concepts gather into a fantastic, well-run event.

I won't say too much about the time aspect, as several have said what I would comment on. I'll just have to see how much I can keep up during November's TAS, as things get busy near the end of the year. I was able to stay on pace for this one during the first two days, but got behind and just caught up a day or two ago.

A random thought as I type: I'm sure this has been proposed, but what about "themed" TAS's. As general/specific as you choose, but some degree of guidance in themed pieces. I can't say how that will affect submissions for future TAS's, but it's something I hadn't seen mentioned yet in this thread (here's my "oops" to the hypothetical poster who did say this Tongue).

But that's only a proposal. I love this event, especially the great back-and-forth between authors and readers. Clarifications are sometimes needed in this sort of format, and sometimes one simple clarification can open another door of discussion.

So, in short, *high five*. SmileCool


Brethil
Half-elven


Aug 1 2013, 3:52am

Post #21 of 25 (126 views)
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Thanks for the *high five* Cats! [In reply to] Can't Post

Nice to know you are around! Smile

And thanks for sharing your thoughts too.

Is there a Tolkien topic that you have wanted to look into more deeply, and write about your thoughts on it? If so, we'd like to here from you for the next TORn Amateur Symposium- coming in November. Happy writing!








Brethil
Half-elven


Aug 1 2013, 3:56am

Post #22 of 25 (143 views)
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Thanks Ranger! [In reply to] Can't Post


In Reply To
The idea would be to submit the abstracts for proposed topics before they were written and then select a few to be written. But it appears everyone prefers more open and more submissions which I am all for. But the question is can we sustain reading this amount for more than a one time event? Some of us yes others I bet no.

Another possibility would be to select topics and then see who writes on them but I feel that idea may be even more troublesome.

But if we go the route of having let's say one paper a week and there are twelve papers that is twelve weeks and it would hardly seem like a symposium and the plan of having a symposium every couple of months would lead to a never-ending "symposium" but that is just me thinking out loud.

Either way I think it was a smashing success! And I fully trust the leaders of it to make wise decisions!




For your thoughts and for your writing! Angelic

You put your finger on some excellent and important points (ie: the never ending Symposium issue...)

Is there a Tolkien topic that you have wanted to look into more deeply, and write about your thoughts on it? If so, we'd like to here from you for the next TORn Amateur Symposium- coming in November. Happy writing!








CuriousG
Valinor


Aug 5 2013, 2:34am

Post #23 of 25 (100 views)
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Events and timing [In reply to] Can't Post



In Reply To
But I also wonder if the next one might be organized in-between book discussions (or within a pre-arranged hiatus from book discussion)? Not only was I behind in the TAS, but now I am also dreadfully lost re: the Sil discussion... That might have happened anyway, but maybe I wouldn't feel so behind...

Yes, I agree, Telain, I think in retrospect we should have suspended the Silmarillion discussion for the TAS, even if the TAS were to last 2 weeks. I personally am behind on everything, but it's a pleasure to have too much to read in the RR than too little. Whatever book we discuss next, I'd suggest halting it for the TAS, and I don't think we'd lose too much momentum on the book. I'm sure we'll eventually read through LOTR again, and that, of course, takes 1.5 years, but it could easily go on hiatus whenever a TAS came up, if the TAS's become a lasting feature here.

Just from my own perspective, I'd be happy to see the TAS essays appear once a week, every week, for as long as it takes, because I enjoy reading them, but that would detract from the "event" atmosphere if it was a never-ending event. Maybe you could have fewer papers each time and save some for the next one, and have TAS more often? But I realize this is a lot of volunteer work hours from Brethil, Daniel, and Elaen (for which the rest of us are very grateful!!!!!), and it may be easier for you to concentrate your efforts to a few times a year rather than every 2 months or whatever. Just a thought.

The logistics were flawless, and for anyone who's ever organized anything, not just conferences but birthday parties, you know when logistics are flawless, a lot of time and effort went into making things work smoothly. Praise you all with great praise! I'll look forward to the next one and hope to block out more time for it.


Brethil
Half-elven


Aug 7 2013, 2:27am

Post #24 of 25 (87 views)
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Thanks so much for the ideas CG! [In reply to] Can't Post

I agree, in the future we can keep in touch about event planning vs. book discussions, as we have more notice now and an idea of when we are holding the Symposiums.

Thanks for the positive thoughts! We are thrilled that we could post these wonderful pieces and share them with you all!

Is there a Tolkien topic that you have wanted to look into more deeply, and write about your thoughts on it? If so, we'd like to hear from you for the next TORn Amateur Symposium- coming in November. Happy writing!








elaen32
Gondor


Aug 11 2013, 9:09pm

Post #25 of 25 (79 views)
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Thanks CG... [In reply to] Can't Post

for the kind comments. We enjoyed organising the TAS and it was certainly a learning curve for all of us. I think that a few times a year event is easier all round really- certainly in terms of fitting in RL commitments!
I hope your wrist is better now- I missed your input into TAS. And sorry for the delay to this reply- I haven't been on the boards for over a week due to said RL commitments!


Is there a Tolkien topic that you have wanted to look into more deeply and write about your thoughts on it? If so, we'd like to hear from you for the next TORn Amateur Symposium- coming in November. Happy writing!


 
 

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