Tuesday, March 31, 2009

Author Interview: thatwritr

1. You're a long-time reader of fanfic in Harry Potter and other fandoms, and have edited for authors. So what was it about Twilight that made you want to "cross to the dark side" and write fanfiction for it?

I'm not sure, to be honest. To make it all even funnier, I read almost exclusively slash fanfiction in HP, House, and SGA. But here I am, writing het Edward/Bella!

I think part of what draws me to slash are issues of relationship equality. Unlike some slash readers, I don't believe that opposite-sex pairs are automatically unequal (I have seen some slashers dismiss het categorically that way) -- but same-sex pairs highlight issues of equality. I think that's why they're popular among straight women writers. It's not JUST the idea of "two hot male bodies instead of one!" -- it's also the chance to explore equality issues in relationships, which we -- as women-- tend to be more sensitive to (in part because we've historically been the less equal partner).

Yes, I know slash can be about unequal pairs just like het, but in my own reading, I stick to couples who are roughly the same age or come into the story as equals. I don't read slash where the characters are, say, teacher-student (like some Snarry ... Snape/Harry). If it's a grown-up Harry with Snape, that's different, but I prefer pairings like Remus/Sirius (HP), or House/Wilson (House), or Sheppard/Mckay (SGA).

When I read Twilight, I was bothered by the fact Edward was so much older than Bella, not just in chronological years but in experience. Yet when I talked to other fans, I found that didn't register for many. They were more squicked by the idea of an older-looking Bella with teen-looking Edward even if she's not truly older. It was about the age they appeared to be, not the age they really were. So I wanted to write a take-off on the (then-)popular New Moon AU in which Edward never returns, but in my version, Bella really did get over him, married someone she loved, and grew up.

When Edward comes back in In the Blink of an Eye, it's an adult -- and more equal -- Bella he must interact with. Initially she's not happy to see him and tells him to go to hell. They must rebuild trust, and reinvent what it means to be together -- much like problems faced by same-sex couples. They don't fit "proper" social molds for couples (she looks older than him, in this case), but what others see when they look in from the outside isn't how Bella and Edward really are. So I reckon it has a lot of the same themes found in slash fiction, even if it's not slash itself.

2.What is your previous experience in writing?

I'm trained as a journalist, and spent a few years working for a small newspaper in North Georgia where the staff was so small, we wore lots of hats! But as it became increasingly clear how the wind was blowing and the days of newsprint were numbered, I went back to school to get a doctorate so I could teach communication and rhetoric at the college level. I wanted to be sure I'd still have a job in ten years. I still love newspapers, though.

Writing fiction is both very different and not so different from some of the human interest writing I did. It's still all about evoking emotions and painting pictures through words. Also, one has to do a lot of research, which journalism helped me with. What's different is the whole plotting thing. Plotting is EVIL, I tell you -- EVIL. (Don't laugh, Min.) I had no idea how much effort went into making all those plot threads work out and come together. I'm still crossing my fingers and holding my breath that the end of In the Blink will make some sort of sense!

3. Why did you choose to write vampire AU instead of another Twilight fanfiction type?

Oh, I like the vampire element because I like both horror and science fiction. I know all-human stories are quite popular, but if there are no vampires, then Edward and Bella are just another romance, and while I don't mind those (I'm quite the sucker for romantic comedies!), I wouldn't necessarily read fanfic about them unless the basic story idea interested me too. I'm not sure that made sense. What I'm trying to say is that I'm intrinsically interested in the problems presented by Edward's vampirism, but in all-human, I have to find the plot idea interesting or the story doesn't interest me. I suppose that's somewhat true for any story, but I find it matters more in all-human because there's no vampire element. It's not Edward/Bella that draws me, but vampire-Edward/human-Bella. So I do read (and really like) some all-human stories, but for reasons beyond the fact they involve Edward and Bella (or Alice and Jasper, or ...).

4.Do you find that any certain characters are more difficult to write than others?

There are some I try to stay away from for various reasons. The Native American characters, for instance, just because it's hard for me to write them in that context, although outside that context is another matter. What I mean is that I stay away from writing Jacob and Irene as Native Americans because I'm not one, but I'm all right with writing them as seen from the outside by Bella or Edward or others.

Otherwise, I'm not sure I find any of them "difficult" in that it just takes sitting down and considering their motivations. I feel the closest to Bella in personality, but I think Rosalie may be the most fun to write, just because I wish I had the guts to say some of the things she does!

5. Despite the fact In the Blink of an Eye is an E/B romance, you have a particular interest in writing strong women characters from your grown-up Bella, to kick-ass Rosalie, to the original characters of Irene Black (Jacob's wife) and Martha Jackson (Mark's mother). Talk about your commitment to strong women in fiction.

One of my major tiffs with the original books is that -- whatever SMeyer may say (or believe) -- her women characters aren't particularly strong role models for girls. I understand why the books are attractive, and I certainly think Stephenie's Bella is an authentic voice for a teen girl. But Bella in the books is too ready to give up her future (and her life) for a boy, and seems to have little self-identity beyond her love for Edward and Nineteenth-Century Romance novels. Now as I said, this might reflect the way some (maybe a lot of teen) girls see themselves, but Stephenie never challenges that by offering a genuine alternative. Part of why I so disliked Breaking Dawn is that it doesn't really challenge the status quo, it only appears to. Her Bella is too inclined to define herself in relation to others, and teen girls already get enough of that in the real world. We are defined by our cliques, friends and boyfriends. A lot of us still take a man's name at marriage, are walked down the aisle by our fathers and "given away" to our prospective husbands, and later we're known by our children's names, not our own: so-and-so's mom. These are centuries-old patterns that still define our romantic myths -- Perfect Prince Charming arrives on a white horse (or in a silver Volvo) to sweep us off our feet and carry us away to live Happily Ever After. "The End." But real life doesn't end there and I think we need to radically redefine what makes up "happily ever after."

Fanfic about Twilight is one way of doing that -- of appropriating the myth and rewriting it. What I love about online fandom and fanfic is that it's "women's space" far more than most areas of society (not just Twilight, but fandom in general). In fact, that's one reason it's looked down on. People outside fandom tend to define it by the kink, and are either genuinely unaware of, or too inclined to dismiss as an anomaly the more inventive and plain SMART stories and meta discussions that happen in fandom. They're shocked to find just how many academics write or read fanfic, both professors and grad students. It's marginalized and dismissed like so much of women's space is, and the few positive media pieces on fandom (which I notice as a journalist) tend to be written by ... wait for it ... WOMEN. But groups like The Organization for Transformative Works belie these belittling charcterizations.

Nonetheless, I'm often troubled by the negative images of women I find perpetuated in fanfic, whether it's a bitchy femme fatale who challenges our heroine for the hero in het stories, or the equally bitchy alternative love-interest of some slash fiction. We women authors can treat other women in fiction just awfully. There's something wrong with that picture. I categorically refuse to write "bitch" female characters. That doesn't mean a woman can't be a "bad guy," but I'm not going to turn her into a caricature.

In general, I try to stay away from simplistic love triangles. I'm more interested in the ties that women create with one another. So the friendship that develops between Bella and Rose, or the mother-daughter relationship between Martha and Bella, or the old friendship between Bella and Irene, and Bella and Alice -- even the slightly uncomfortable interaction between Bella and Esme -- all exist APART (or mostly apart) from the relationships these women have to the men in their lives. If we were to remove Emmett or Edward or Jasper or Carlisle or Mark or Jacob, Bella would still have relationships with these women -- as witnessed by Martha's insistence that she stay in Bella's life even after her son, Bella's husband, is dead. Their ties aren't dependent on men for permission to exist -- nor defined by men.

This is very important, I think, for our daughters and sisters and girlfriends (and even mothers) to see. Women can be -- and are -- defined by themselves and each other, not by fathers or brothers or sons, boyfriends or husbands. And our inter-relationships are a lot more complicated than just about our men. I don't like either fiction or fanfiction that reduces the relationships between women to being all about men.

6. number of plot elements from In the Blink of an Eye are taken from your own life experiences. Talk about them, and why you went that route.

Well, as I think a lot of readers know, my older sister is in a wheelchair with an injury much like Bella's. I chose that so I'd know better what Bella can and can't do. Why did I put her in a wheelchair at all? I guess because I wanted the contrast between this more physically restricted Bella, but a woman who knows herself at last. One reader characterized it something like, "a broken spine but a backbone of steel," and I liked that.

Also, after some conversations with other readers and as a result of my own background, I was aware how "whitewashed" Stephenie's vampire world is (at least until the last book), so I wanted to throw in a little color. Mark -- her late husband -- is African American. When reading, I noticed that Bella's drawn to what's "different" -- vampire Edward, Native American Jacob. Very WASP Mike Newton holds no interest. So I decided that her tendency to choose "the Other" would hold true. Why an African American instead of, say, somebody Hispanic or Korean or Jewish? Well, I dated/lived with a black man for 7 years. We finally split up because our careers took us in different directions, but we're still friends and I still visit his family. I also wanted to deal with the racial tension of the old South versus the "new" South. Racism is still around, but it's different from what Jasper knew, or most of the Cullens.

I set the story in North Georgia because it's where I was raised. I did consider putting it in Alaska, as I live here now and Alaska figures in the original books, but it's a relatively recent move and Georgia is nearer to Jacksonville, where Renee is with her new husband. Given the descriptions of Charlie's house in the book, I knew it'd be virtually impossible for a disabled Bella to stay with him after the accident without the house being completely gutted and redone. So it made sense to me that she'd move to Florida. Also, I wanted to make Mark a Morehouse Man -- so that put them in Atlanta for at least some of the time.

7.What do you like to see in a review?

I really like to hear from readers what they identified with, or if there was something they didn't buy or couldn't relate to. Also, theories about where the story is going are a lot of fun for me to read, so bring on the theories! So far, I don't think anybody has figured it out, which is good -- I think.

8. I know from our personal conversations that you have an interesting take on Edward's telepathy. Talk some about that, if you can without giving away plot secrets.

I can't say a whole lot, but yes, a lot of Edward's troubles relate to his ability to hear others' thoughts. I gather that when he was a teen, he was pretty normal, if "sensitive" -- not the misanthropic, self-hating guy he now presents as. I think his telepathy makes him feel overly confident, but also exposed him to ideas and ugliness that he wasn't ready for at 17. Even if he wasn't a child, he was apparently a fairly idealistic and somewhat sheltered young man. Just imagine everything he would have heard after he woke as a vampire, and how that would have re-shaped his views of humanity?

9. Last, because I know you want to, share the Anzaldua poem that inspired your take on the Cullens.

LOL! You knew I wanted to discuss Gloria Anzaldúa. All right, anybody working in the area of feminist theory is already familiar with this poem, but for those who haven't read it before, it's perhaps her most famous work. I think it fits the Cullens because by choosing not to feed on people but remember their human fore-lives, they choose to live in the Borderlands. They are neither "full" vampires, nor are they human, but something of both. They live "in-between," and Bella IS the Borderlands -- sin fronteras. All roads meet in her: white and African American and Native American, abled and disabled and superabled, vampire and human and werewolf.

To Live In The Borderlands Means You
To live in the Borderlands means you
are neither hispana india negr Espanola
ni gabacha, eres mestiza, mulata,
half breed
caught in the crossfire between camps
while carrying all five races on your back
not knowing which side to turn to, run from;

To live in the Borderlands means knowing
that the india in you,
betrayed for 500 years,
is no longer speaking to you,
that mexicanas call you rajetas,
that denying the Anglo inside you
is as bad as having denied
the Indian or Black;

Cuando vives en la frontera
people walk through you, the wind
steals your voice,
you're a burra, buey, scapegoat,
forerunner of a new race,
half and half—both woman and man,
a new gender;
To live in the Borderlands means to
put chile in the borscht,
eat whole wheat tortillas,
speak Tex-Mex with a Brooklyn accent;
be stopped by la migra at the border checkpoints;

Living in the Borderlands means you fight hard to
resist the gold elixir beckoning from the bottle,
the pull of the gun barrel,
the rope crushing the hollow of your throat;

In the Borderlands
you are the battleground
where the enemies are kin to each other;
you are at home, a stranger,
the border disputes have been settled
the volley of shots have shattered the truce
you are wounded, lost in action
dead, fighting back;

To live in the Borderlands means
the mill with the razor white teeth wants
to shred off
your olive-red skin, crush out the kernel,
your heart
pound you, pinch you roll you out
smelling like white bread but dead;
To survive the Borderlands
you must live sin fronteras
be a crossroads.

Monday, March 30, 2009

Reader's Series: Savage Juno

I have always been a friend of shadows, always resided happily in the background. But today I am putting on my brave shoes and stepping into the all too bright spotlight. Why? Because this is what the writers do – they put themselves out there time after time, exposing themselves to criticism and scrutiny. It’s not an easy place to be, and I think we readers sometimes forget that while we sit comfortably in the dark. So here I am, out of my comfort zone for a little while. It’s the least I can do, after all.

I read a ridiculous amount of Twilight fanfiction - the good and the not so good. As a reader, I am constantly in search of that moment. We have all witnessed it. The recent Bellie Awards even acknowledged a concentrated manifestation of it with the Best One-Liner category. It’s that moment when the writer finds that magical place where words meet emotion...and merge. Good writers journey there on a regular basis. The best writers live there.

Not long ago, one of these best writers told me that I was like a cheerleader. I won’t lie, the title stung a little at the time (sorry, cheerleaders everywhere…no offense intended), but then I started to think about it a bit more. You see, the thing about cheerleaders is that they are not merely spectators. They may reside on the sidelines, but they still have their own role in the game. So often, the literature I read exists a great distance away from me. That’s not to say that I am not affected on a personal level by these works - because I am - but I am always aware that they come from another time, place, or way of life, one to which I do not have immediate access. The beauty of the fanfiction genre in general, and communities such as Twilighted and The Lazy, Yet Discerning Ficster in particular, lies in the access they grant to the creative process. I may have never sat in the coffeehouses of 18th Century London, and what I know of popular modern authors comes to me through the filters of press releases and advertising campaigns. But I have watched as jandco, who is practically Twilight fanfiction royalty, voiced her concern that her last two solo efforts might not be good enough (ridiculous, I know). After reading a particularly moving piece by halojones (chapter 12 of She’s Royal will always stand out as an example of excellence for me), I have been overwhelmed by her reply thanking me for my review. I have watched withthevampsofcourse’s humor play out on forums, even while she kicks me in the throat with Edward’s point of view in Scotch, Gin and the New Girl. I have been privileged enough to have an inside glimpse into some of the meticulous planning and writing and rewriting that goes into Jfly/Thallium81’s work (seriously, it’s amazing what she does). These are just a few examples of the many I have seen as I watch readers and writers alike encourage each other to dive into the creative moment. For somebody like me, who constantly resides on the reading/evaluation side of literature, this interaction is a remarkable thing to witness.

So, I will continue to don my pleated skirt and pom-poms (figuratively speaking, of course, because, trust me, nobody really wants to see that). I will cheer (yes, Jfly, cheer) as I watch new writers search for that place of literary magic while veteran writers lead the way. And even though I may not be in the game, so to speak, I will take my place on the sideline. I like it there. It’s not so blinding.

Author's Blurb by Jfly/Thallium81

Gimme a J!
Gimme a U!
Gimme an N!
Gimme an O!

Savage Juno deserves a cheer for the thankless support she provides.

When a chapter is posted, the writer gets the parise or criticism, the giddy squee or the bored groan, and all the attention.

Those comments, reviews, PMs, and forum posts by thoughtful readers are sweet sweet candy to the writer. And it turns out that the more reviews there are, the more important the thoughtful reviews become.

I get scuvry in the sea of "Great job! Keep going!" and "OMG! :P I smell lemons!". And then Savage Juno comes along with a nice boost of vitamin C wrapped up in a review that tells me she caught the reference to Browning or Eliot or Milton. She bouys me up when she compares one of my metaphors with a work she cherishes. She makes me feel like I'm not a lunatic for writing what I write in a world where most of the popular stories are completely alien to me.

And more than that, she does it all with this infectious positivity. I am, as many of you know, decidedly NOT chipper and excited about much of anything. So it's energizing to me to have contact with someone who can contageously effuse an upbeat outlook toward my writing-- who can make me feel like my ideas do come across and my pictures are accurately painted by my words. Not only this, but Juno has a knack for finding subtleties of phrase that even I was unaware of. She shares her point of view eloquently. She pull phrases. She ASKS QUESTIONS. Juno provides the writer the precious opportunity to see her fic through other eyes-- eyes that GET it. And you know if Juno doesn't get it, then you've missed your mark.

Savage Juno is the name you want to see in your review box. She's well-read enough to see every detail for what it is, and she's joyful and enthusiastic enough about the written word that she takes every damn thing she can from each chapter. Not as a glutton or a nitpicker, but as a gourmand who can detect the quarter teaspoon of cinnamon or fine French marsh salt in the mole sauce and savor those ingredients on his tongue while also appreciating the dish as a whole and even admiring its presentation.

And she doesn't just do this for me. She reads a LOT of fic, and she admires a LOT of deserving writers, and she shares the encouragement all around.

Three cheers for Savage Juno and everything she gives back! Because as much as review time is the writer's moment to bask and shine, from the writer's point of view, it's the hour of the reviewer.

Sunday, March 29, 2009

GuestFicRec: Her Love Lives On...Nothing Cidal About It

Romanticidal Edwardian

When I first entered the Twilight Fandom, aka Twilight fan fiction, Eclipse had just been released. The release of that book triggered an onslaught of a certain brand of story: the series continuance. The wedding, the change, the life after entering the vampire world, ect. Most of the good versions of people's interpretations are quite well known.

The story I'm going to introduce to you is not. But it should be.

Ice Makes Passion, by ronOReds, is a sweet, funny, and generally IC continuation after Eclipse. It's rated 'M' but truly it never gets too graphic, and all passionate scenes are kept extremely in character, maintaining Edward and Bella's love and devotion to each other. Even the author herself mentions at one point that she hates to describe the scenes as "smutty" because it just doesn't seem to describe any kind of physical relations that would occure between them. I mean, at least while Bella's still human. But even after she's changed in the story, when longing desire shifts to sweet lust, it's never overly graphic or out of character.

Speaking of change...as anyone who has been in the fandom long enough to have read plenty of 'what happens next?' fics, every single person has had their own interpretation on what the change into a vampire, and more specifically what Bella's change into a vampire, would be like. RonOReds was one of the few that stuck with me. I knew that the entire change scene would probably not be in Breaking Dawn, but there were certain aspects that made so much sense to me at the time, that even while I was reading BD, I kept thinking back to this story and asking myself, "Wait, why isn't this happening?" And then I'd have to remind myself that Ice Makes Passion was merely a fan fic, and not the cornerstone from which the change scene originated. Still, very interesting.

One of my favorite aspects of the story (except if you're a strong Jacob-lover, you won't agree) was the smoothness of which the Jacob situation was handled. It was addressed in the first chapter briefly, but in such a way that it wasn't like the author was brushing Jacob aside, but the fact that he doesn't make an appearance in the story is still understandable and makes sense. I was always very much in awe of the slick grace with which it was handled, and when you read it you'll see what I'm talking about. In fact, she does this numerous times throughout the story. She has talent for taking big issues and scenes, and condensing them in such a way that they don't feel condensed at all, and help the story move on swiftly and smoothly. If you're a writer at all, you'll appreciate the talent behind that skill.

The story is a twenty chapter rollercoaster, taking you to different places and different feelings - all with a grace that is both astounding and natural. The beginning of the story ensues hilaraity (here's a little preview: a bachelorette party and the most adorable drunk Bella ever written, and I mean that) while the middle melts effortlessly into the more serious issues of the wedding, the wedding night, and the change. And the end results in the fated Volturi fight.

Yes, for all those looking for action, a fight with the Volturi does occur in this story! While it's obviously nothing that would ever actually happen in the books (as we've seen) it was still so intriguing and well-written that it's hard not to enjoy. Action scenes are extremely difficult to write, but the author moves through them with a natural swiftness that allows you, the reader, to become involved in it despite the shortness of the actual scene. And if you like the twist at the end, there's even a sequel for you to read. I haven't read all of that, just the first chapter, so I can't vouch for the entire thing but it seems to read just as well as the first one.

Another thing that stuck with me even after the story was another one of the challenges that authors of 'what happens next?' fics encountered - Bella's power. I won't give it away, but it was probably one of the ones I liked the best, mainly because it was just so interesting and full of potential. It wasn't similar at all to what we now know as the canon power of Bella - the protective mental shield - but still valid and good in its own right.

And throughout everything, the author never forgets the most important thing of the entire series, and its foundation - Edward and Bella's love. It carries through the whole thing with just as much purity and beauty as when it started.

The 'what happens next?' fics were all epic tasks, and I believe ronOReds deserves recognition for tackling such a daunting undertaking and delivering it with magnificence and cheer. For those looking for a dark story - don't look here.

Just for fair warning though, I will add in minor infractions in the story that may bother people: One, grammatical mistakes are made, especially near the beginning of the story. Don't take that the wrong way though! None of them are truly atrocious nor do they make the story unreadable - really, the only people who would be affected are us grammar Nazis. And also, a slight misunderstanding in the vampire canon is made in the fourth and fifth chapters - but honestly, the misunderstanding doesn't actually influence any change in the story and it's also done for hilarity purposes. So just be prepared to roll with it and enjoy the laughs.

Now that you've been informed of the amazingness (and equally warned of minor un-amazingness) what are you waiting for? Go read! As this story came out very soon after Eclipse, it became buried under the onslaught of fan fictions rolling in. Because of that, in never achieved the popularity it deserved, in my opinion. Let's make up for it now =]

And as us Temptation podcasters say: Don't do drugs, review!

The Romanticidal Edwardian is the author of many fanfictions, including "A World Without Sound". You can hear her delightful self on the Temptation Twilight Podcast where the neverending Edward vs. Jacob "discussion" between her and Rialle never gets old.

GuestFicRec: Ficsterian Wishes


As some of you know, I run a LiveJournal community called The Twilight Enabler. It was started for purely selfish reasons: I wanted my friends to have a place to recommend stories to me. Though, I quickly found that, in general, if my friends read a story that they like that much, then they would simply email to tell me. And then a miracle happened and suddenly my little LiveJournal community had members who weren’t just people who I’d known from Harry Potter or people who I knew really well. And as more people joined, more people began participating, more people began making recommendations, and suddenly there were stories that I’d not read or heard about before. The Enabler is how I was hooked-up with this little gem.

Paved With Good Intentions by 4JACE.

My first love in the fanfiction world was alternate universe. The kind that is that the story changes somewhere along the way. Whether Bella never jumped off the cliff in New Moon and Edward never came back, or whether Edward actually did bite her that first day in school, I didn’t care, I loved them all. My second love was the all human genre. So unique, so much originality, so much possibility.

This story combines those two loves.

The summary tells us very little about this story. In its most basic form, Bella has the opportunity to make a wish, and for once she thinks more about what Edward wants than herself. However, every action has an equal and opposite reaction. Every choice has a consequence. Things never turn out the way that they expect them to. And nothing is ever truly predictable.

Oh, and of course, there is the small matter that Bella never actually asks Edward what he wants or consults anyone that she should have.

The story is angsty and emotional with cliffhangers from hell. Which, truly, that is the key formula for fanfiction, is it not? Combine that with the fact that the story deals with a concept that is incredibly complex, but the author makes it simple. The whys and wherewithals don’t truly matter. It is how every situation affects the characters… that is what is important, and the author doesn’t skimp on any of that.

Bella is the epitome of the character that I believe we were meant to see portrayed in the books. Edward is her world, and she’s selfless, giving, and will sacrifice anything for him. And to grant him the one thing that she truly believes that he wants above all else, she is willing to give up her entire world.

It will be as if I never existed.

Although wouldn’t the price seem negligible if Edward would’ve been able to make those words real? As I said, every action has a consequence.

I am one of those people who believe that there are very few original plots out there, what matters is the way that the author spins the story, how well they know their characters, and how well they can relate the story to the reader. Cliché may be cliché, trite, done and done again… but that doesn’t mean that it can’t be great.

We’ve all heard of ‘Edward as a human stories.’ They are a relatively common plot device. This story is reminiscent of Only Human by Amethyst Jackson and The Antidote by jandco. However, it very much stands on its own with its unique twists and turns.

The author knows her characters, she understands how they think, how they feel, and she relates that to the reader.

It is the storyteller that makes a story worth the time and effort it takes to read… and this story is worth the investment. Bella’s interactions with Carlisle alone make this story worth the read.

GinnyW, besides being an avid Ficsterian and Smellyia's beloved Snermione pusher, does write a bit and might be known for a little story called "Coming to Terms". When not PM stalking or being lovely in gerneral, she is pushing her main homeslice head first into the Twilight Fandom. Crack never looked so good.

Saturday, March 28, 2009

Column: Pastiche Pen's Advice On The Newbie Power & The Fandom Tower

How to Win Friends and Influence People to Read Your Story Part II


So, fannyfickers, last week we talked about making friends—which was coffee-and-a-scone pleasant, but today we're talking about the "party." Tis to say, communicating in the public forum in our fandom. The goal here is to publicly promote yourself as an author in creative, useful, and non-annoying ways. So hop out of your shell, hermit fannyficker, and come play with the debauched lot of us on the boardwalk!

(And yes, the beach theme is completely arbitrary, but I go to great lengths to amuse myself.)



Contests, with such examples as The Dirty Talking Edward Contest, The Steamy Movie Crossover Contest, or A Very Cullen Christmas Contest, are fun little ditties designed to encourage new authors, amuse old fogies, and generate smut for the most part (heh).

The Newbie makes a debut: You probably won't actually win any contests if you're brand new (unless they're JUDGED as opposed to tallied by popular poll vote), so why should you enter?

(1) Because contests one-shots are popular reads - you get more attention.
(2) It's good practice. Contests often force you to write what you normally never would have written
(3) Cuz you love the community and it's fun.
(4) Maybe, you could win (a banner)?

What some contest-pros have to say on the matter.

Fiberkitty, author of Lost and Found and co-host of the Who’s Line Is It Anyway? Contest

A great way to get your name out there as either a new fanfic author or an obscure author is to take part in contests. I don't think I can emphasize that enough. People read contest entries as they will often follow their favorite authors over and then read the competition. If you have other stories posted, give a quick blurb in your author's note of the contest entry so readers will know where to look for more. I have taken part in two contests. Each time my number of profile hits jumped greatly over the days following my story's addition to the C2. Use contests to expand your comfort zone. If you only write M, try writing a T rated one-shot. If you solely do first person POV's, try a third person- or vice versa. Contests are a great way to gain exposure, learn what the readers as a whole want, hone your craft, and best of all, to write that little plot bunny that has been bouncing around in your head but you needed a good excuse to take time and write.

Isabel0329, author of Campus Liasons and co-host of The Dirty Talking Edward Contest

I've often found some of my favorite and most beloved fics by searching through archives of contests in which I'm either interested, participating, or actively involved in running. When I participated in the Sexy Edward Contest run by Jayeliwood, I tried to read as many of the other entries as possible—not necessarily to compare them to my own entry but to see what was out there. A variety of authors entered, from the well-established to the newbie new. Participating in a popular contest can really help a new author get her name out there. Most contests maintain some type of community archive so that community subscribers will learn about your story.

Muggleinlove, author of Readjusted and Between Love and Duty

Competitions seem to have become a staple of the Twilight fan fiction community and I couldn’t be happier because of it. They give established authors a chance to showcase their talent while it allows new authors to test the waters. It gives new authors a platform in which to get noticed and build up their own following. I know of at least one author who got her start while writing for a competition. I, personally, have entered two different competitions and they were both very rewarding experiences. My Twilight/Harry Potter crossover one-shot, The Quidditch Match, won the Steamy Movie Crossover Contest, but I do not think these competitions are about winners and losers. They are about giving the fandom a variety of fun stories to read. Next time there is a competition I hope you would all enter. I promise it will be a lot of fun!



Don’t think about doing it unless you can "market" it. This is achieved by:

(a) having a ridiculously popular story
(b) partnering with an author with a ridiculously popular story
(c) being a longstanding name in the community.

I make these points not to discourage you, but rather because I don't want you to be heartbroken when no one participates in your contest. So, how exactly do you "market" a story? You partner with another author—or two or five—and post on the boards, on blogs/podcasts/etc., on your profile, on your LiveJournal, and in your next chapter update in your author's note. Also, be sure to explain where and how to find the C2 – some people simply can’t figure it out. One final tip – consider how to make your contest manageable in terms of the number of entries. Think about word length, whether or not it will be based on popular vote, judge’s call, or a mix. Think about the prizes, e.g. banners, TwiCon tickets, special feature (withthevampsofcourse and jandco did this for the Very Cullen Christmas contest – they put the five favorite stories in a sandwich between their own piece), or simply the glory of participation. And Pastiche wants to get on her high horse and really, really encourage hosts to use some aspect of “judging” – and not solely popular vote. Why? Because this highlights new talent better than any other method.



Step back for a minute and imagine –an entire collection of completed Twilighted fan fiction being delivered to you on a day to day basis. As a reader, there’s nothing better, and this is the gloriousness that is the fic exchange. Currently, the Twilight Gift Exchange, hosted by GinnyW and Shug, is underway with 38 fics and art pieces scheduled to start posting in July. Thus, each day there will be 1-2 new art/fic, with stories ranging from ficlets to 120k masterpieces—and they’re all COMPLETE. Building on this bit of wonderful completeness is the HUGE sense of community –cuz it’s tit fer tat!

Now, exchanges are a wonderful opportunity for new authors – because readers are willing to check out your story and all its delicious completedness. Moreover, you’re not just writing for you—you’re writing for someone else’s prompt, so you can rest easy with the satisfaction that SOMEONE will read your story.



So, I’m one of those people who writes really long author’s notes. It annoys some people, but I keep doing it. Why? Because every time I post a new chapter, I make a note on telling folks what I’m reading. A lot of my readers really like this—they tell me. I’m sure that other readers are slightly annoyed by it, but I’m not going to stop. In fact, I’ve had authors thank me for sending folks over. This delights me. Also, I'm a person writing crap for free. I don't get my picture and a bio on the back cover either, so I feel like I can do what I damn well please. Moreover, you might notice that only a fraction of your readers click on your profile page, but a great, large number clicks on each new chapter you post. The author's note is the way to take advantage of this.

Now, however, I must caveat, because I do think there are limits to this. (1) Distinguish your author's note as an author's note - don't let it sit there and blend in with your story. Use a line divider, bold or italicize the text, or put funny symbols in between. (2) Be to the point. If you're going to have personal anecdotes try to keep tham as short as possible. If your author's notes end up being longer than your chapters, you got some issues...




1. Comment on a blog
2. Vote for your favorite fic on the Eddies/Bellies
3. Email the Temptation Podcast
4. Stalk Smellyia and Guilt Her into Letting You Write an Article

So, one of the great things (in my less than humble opinion, I know) about this blog—is how it’s connected to other blogs and sites. These sites promote each other, which deepens the sense of community and allows fannyfickers to participate in new and more meaningful ways. So, there are all sorts of lovely ways that we all can feed this, by commenting, reading the stories and voting in contests and awards, emailing the podcast or the blog about contests and special events that are coming up, and many other ways (like stalking Smellyia – really DON’T she’ll frack you and cut me, but anyway…).

On podcasting and community:

Moon.witche – momma podcaster extraordinaire and author of Echoes of an Enigma

Podcasting is fun. Podcasting is awesome. Podcasting is...a lot of hard work. Somedays, I'm sure that if I never see another audio editing program it will be too soon. But its all worth it. I love every opportunity I get to meet new people. I love the idea of knowing people through their voices and their real names versus type and screen names. They feel more real to me that way, and less like I made them up to fulfill my need for more Twilight. We've been podcasting for about two three months now and already I've met so many new people and talked to people I never thought I would because of it. And, yes, I've had people read my work because they knew me from the podcast. I like to think I've brought people together as well. I hope I have. That was my own personal goal with a podcast, causing other people to reach out find that there's more than just a screen name to these people. Our motto on the podcast is, "Don'tdo drugs: review!" And we really mean it. Not just because its the nice thing to do but because of it can lead to. This podcast probably never would have happened if I hadn't sent a nervous, short, stuttered PM to Claire (our first direct communication ever) saying something like, "Would you really want to?"



A group of people working together on fan fiction can really come up with any number of great ways to promote fan fiction. So, don’t feel like what’s discussed above in anyway limit you, rather they are established avenues, and seriously, be bold about creating your own.

Pastiche's Pen Tip: I decided to make a list of what's currently going on.

1. Nominations end TODAY for The Lion and Lamb Awards - Go Nominate! And volunteer to help out with the reading and judging!
2. Temptation Twilight Audio Fanfiction Contest! Submit a voice recording of your favorite fic. End 3/31
3. "That's Mr. Hot Bitch to You" by: Kittenmischief - Hot Bitch C2; End April 12.
4. "Jizz on my Uterus Contest" a The Bad Lemon Contest by: DanBane.E Jizz...on my uterus; End 4/15
5. Twi-Con's Happily Ever After Contest; End 5/30
6. Bethaboo and TheEdwardEmmett's Make it Count - Tell a Story in under 1k!; Currently Voting
7. SUPPORT STACIE AUCTION - Bid to support a worthy cause and get a fic from your favorite author! 4/3-6

Pastiche Pen is a propagator of fanfic reader and writer love and a fellow believer in fandom hippie values. You can find her here. Go review her. Become her friend and others, because she would agree that it's all about spreading the love. But not that big, grossly gratifying inbred orgy love. That's just wrong.

Friday, March 27, 2009

AdminRec: The OC Is Not A TV Show

I have just one fundamental question to ask about the OC (original character) in the Twilight Fandom: why is it that only when the prescriptive labels of Bella or Edward are used, we are more accepting of a character that is just virtually an OC? Calling something out of character means that it’s NOT THE ORIGINAL CHARACTER! But for some reason, we need that comfort of familiarity to embrace a story and to spam it with love. Us humans and our little persnickety penchants.

I notice there is one trend that seems predominant when we see that OC (aka OOC in AU-Human in my opinion) in a Canon/AU piece. The tendency to speculate that it must mean Mary Sue/Marty Stu is rampant and many run screaming for the cover of our Fandom Hills clutching to canon names like they are the second coming.

For shame!

Why? Because we assume someone can’t add another dimension to a story many find faultless (I am not one of those people.) Here we are in the midst of a serious talent and yet, we pass it by because of something that takes such liberties as using a different name? When I see a piece of work that not only stays true to the canon of any fandom, but then has the absolute audacity to include their own OC to mix up the established order of things, I am completely awed with the skill of the FanFic Author.

And it’s all because of Elisa and her creator, Avalonia/Ava Sinclair.

Any of you Twilighted old-schoolers will most likely recognize the story Evening Falls by the banner if not by name. It’s the banner with that cute little blonde chick from Gossip Girl and it’s attached to a fic about a girl who was most definitely not in the original Twilight Saga. Elisa is a fully developed and brilliantly actualized original character who is assimilated authentically into the story of our beloved Cullens.

Her journey actually begins in the first installment of a three-part series Avalonia has planned. The first completed fic, Extraordinary, introduces us to Elisa, an average Twilight enthusiast. You don’t have to read Extraordinary to follow Evening Falls, but it’s your loss if you decide to skip it. You’ll miss out on what makes Elisa so fantastic.

Her simplicity.

She is a parable for every girl: you, me, our sisters, and friends. She is a tween whose life doesn’t quite make sense and whose parents just don’t understand. She is slightly self- serving in her rationalizations without being petulant like most giirls that age, but as she experiences loss, we see her mature.

As Evening Falls begins, we see an Elisa who is a bit more wise, but still retains the little quirks that make her endearing, such as her love of books and her precocious snark. She has learned how to accommodate the needs of being a daughter, friend, and sister, but without compromising herself.

"And without thinking, without worrying about the fact that fifty people were watching, Harry kissed her..."

"It's about time, Harry." I muttered, turning the page as I shifted to a more comfortable position in the dining room chair. "She's only been waiting on you to get a clue for five years..."

At the start of the story, she is no longer in the Twilight universe, but circumstances of life are about to change that – permanently. A wrong place, wrong time situation occurs and she is transported back to Forks and to the home of the Cullens’ amidst the planning of Edward and Bella’s wedding. With true human perseverance she forges ahead to make the most of herself, including doing everything possible to help Bella and Edward’s reach their HEA.

What’s so subtle about Evening Falls is the relationships Elisa forges with all of the other Cullens. Rosalie becomes so much more than Mommy Dearest and Emmett is the big brother he was always alluded to be. Alice is wonderful as per usual, but it’s Jasper who is the glitch in Elisa’s new family. That’s right, he kinda doesn’t want her there. His motivations are just being revealed and I have no intention of spoiling it for you.

Elisa blends so seamlessly into the story that I swear she has always been there. With each step of her journey, we are introduced to even more original characters which are each pleasant surprises in and of themselves. In addition to the new faces, the canon character stories are not lost. No worries. We still have hefty doses of Edward and Bella for all of you purists.

But in the end, for me, it’s Elisa’s voice that completely captures the reader’s attention and makes everything else white noise. The following passage is one of my favorites in all of fandom. It’s directly after the La Push wolves are demanding Elisa come live with them, but she declines. This is only taken well, depending on where one is standing in the argument, because she has no intention of going vamp unlike our determined Bella. The family is curious about her reasons, because why would anyone not want to be sparkly and immortal?

"OK, well, I want to finish school, of course, and go to college. I don't really know what I want to be yet. I used to want to be a dancer, or an actress, and I still kind of do, but now I think maybe I want to do something that isn't just about me. Something that helps people, but I haven't figured out what that is yet. And sometime between...I don't know, seventeen and twenty-one, I guess, I plan on finding the love of my life. Around twenty-five, I'll get married, and I'm going to have kids. I think I'd like a lot...like maybe four or five. It was just me and my brother growing up and I love him, but we never had much in common, plus he and my dad were totally bonded. I used to feel like I didn't belong. It was hard sometimes, never really fitting in. I always thought if I had more brothers and sisters there would be someone that could be more than a sibling...that could be my friend, and that's what I want for my children.'

'So anyway, I'll raise my kids, and have a career, and shop a lot, and be kind of vain all through my thirties and forties. You know what I mean...I'll color my hair, do a little Botox, and lie about my age. Then, somewhere about fifty, I'm just going to let it all slide, go gray, gain about forty pounds, because I think it's important to be huggable when you're a grandma, and bake cookies all day. And I'll retire, and spoil my grandkids until my children get mad at me and travel the world with my husband until I die peacefully in my sleep. So that's it...that's the big plan. Go ahead and laugh." I folded my arms defiantly.

I swear I said the same exact thing when I was her age. Granted, it didn’t work out that way, but the thought is nice and the thing is, Elisa is more the girl next door than Bella ever was. She has dreams and goals, and a little thing like relocating to an alternate universe is no reason to stop her. She is the anti-emo in a fandom so inundated with the tragic, angsty heroine. She is at the very least refreshing, needed to remind us all that it doesn’t have to be dark and dank to be good.

I love her dearly not only because through her, I met a friend, but because I see so much of the burgeoning female in her that it makes me nostalgic at every turn. This is SOLID story-telling. So many of the things that have endeared us to the canon are mixed with the refreshing voice of this lovely girl, that I can’t help being sucked into the purity of this story. So join me and my eighties-hair sized grin the next time Avalonia updates. You won’t be disappointed.

Smellyia is the administrator for this blog and is still emo over the end of BSG one week later. She has been told lately that she rants in her sleep, but always tops it off with a resounding and definitive "So Say We All!"

Thursday, March 26, 2009

AdminEssay: Deconstructing the Story Series

In my quest to figure out why I adore writing and reading so much, I am finding myself having to redefine the basic tool of it all – the Story. This is the first in a series of articles I plan on doing on this subject. This won’t encompass Styling, as my homeslice Emibella will be waxing rhetorical on all things of that nature, but it will include things of which I know absolutely nothing about.

I am not schooled in the English Language and Word Craft like so many of the fantastic ladies who write for you. I can wield a scalpel like a mofo, bark out orders and answer ten pages in under three minutes, but when it comes to a story; I know very little. So what makes me qualified to speak on the construction of one? Nothing, but the desire to learn.

Over the course of a series of articles, I will be researching through various mediums the basic constructs of the story. I plan on exploring the available material and seeing just how cohesive opinions are on the art of writing -- so far, not so much. The lessons I learn and my own perspective on any new information I glean, will be shared here with you all. I am banking on some smartypants who has ten degrees in this sort of thing to occasionally school me and tell me I’m mucking this whole thing up and that is perfectly fine. I don’t mind an elitist peering down their overly pointy noise at me. Go for it! But know that I plan on reading about plot, themes, how NOT TO USE WORDS LIKE ORBS (sorry, had to Mini) and what I am starting with today – Characterization. This is not all there is to say about characterization, just a jumping off point and as I learn more about what makes a character real; I’ll share.

So join me as I pound away in the pursuit of Craft Enlightenment and give me a chance here, learning is about making mistakes.


The basic tool of any story is an easy guess: the initial idea. No idea means no story; it’s as simple as that. We get ideas based off of so many things in this world that it’s impossible to name all the influences we come into contact with daily. If you want a more clear-cut idea on this, just look out your window. There is an idea there.

But what about beyond that?

Ahhhh. Here is where the author’s real work starts. You have an idea, but you need a character to fill in the blanks. This character must have facets to them to make the idea work. They need depth, complexity, description, actions, thoughts and so many things that I can’t count them all. But the main thing they need is a purpose; a motivation for being there.


Whether it’s your hero or heroine, your comic relief or your side-filler; they need a purpose for existence. The purpose can be declared very plainly and loudly or it can be subtle and quiet, but the motivation has to be there. Desire for something the character does not have; knowledge, sense of self, resolution, material items or another person, is the motivator for any character. They have to want something. I would go as far to argue that life exists because of the natural human desire for something they don’t have, so why not fiction written about people or beings that resemble them?

We see this in many popular works; Harry wanted to exist beyond his cupboard, Lyra wanted to find her friend, Frodo wanted Bilbo to have a nice birthday party. All of these drives started off stories we all know and love. Were they the ending desires? No. But they led to the story and when one desire was satiated, another replaced it, sending us on a journey with the characters in a search for their resolutions.

At the beginning of Twilight in particular, we have Bella leaving her sunny home in Arizona and the comfort of her coughflakycough mother. Bella doesn’t really want to move to Forks, but she does want her mother to be happy. At this time, it’s Phil that makes her happy. For the first chapter or so in Twilight, we are wrapped up in Bella’s initial purpose and are identifying with this loss and gain, but it isn’t until Edward enters the picture making smelly faces at her that we start to shift focus into a whole new purpose. A purpose that includes desire.


The strength of the desire is also important. The stronger the desire, the more powerful a character’s purpose is. Enter Edward. His own desire at first is predatory, the basest of animalistic instincts. It morphs into intrigue and the dichotomy of bad/misunderstood boy is too much for our fair heroine to resist. Eventually, they each have this almost unreasonable want of each other set in a romantic plot with a dash of sense mixed in occasionally. This appeals on so many levels to the reader.

While it definitely helps that Edward is the “Adonis” of all of our dreams, I don’t think that is where his true appeal comes from. The conflicted nature of his desire for Bella is what draws us to the dynamic of their relationship. If Edward was not constantly warring between his perceived “selfish” desire to be with Bella and her ultimate safety, I think I would have been quite bored. It’s enough to blindside the most feminist of readers into submission, thus making his controlling nature more protective than stifling (well, at least until his sparkly hotness wears off).

If a purpose or desire is weak, as if the character only sort of wants to get to this particular place in their lives, or they only maybe want to get a milkshake, or taking a roll in the sheets with that chick would be kinda nice; what do I care as a reader? I might nod and be about my way, the story and author losing my attention. I want to see a single-minded determination, an obsession or addiction. Whatever the desire and subsequently the purpose is, I have just come to the mind that it must be strong. It has to be the driving force. It has to be the foundation upon which I form my attachment to the character. Because in the end, why do I really care what the color of their hair, eyes or cars are if they hold no purpose other than just being there?


Weak: Say we have a young girl who is thinking about asking a boy to her high school dance. Okay, sounds good, but what if it’s just some random guy who may or may not be the one of her dreams. She thinks it would be nice to have a date standing next to her in a cheesy picture, but if she isn’t really invested in having this boy be her date or any other aspect of going to the dance, what does it matter if she ever asks him out or not.? It doesn’t, and her subsequent choices won’t have much impact behind them because her initial desire was vapid at best. If the reader actually sticks with story, instead of abandoning it out of sheer boredom, they will not be very invested in the outcome.

Strong: If we switch the scenario around and make the motivator her obsession to having the perfect wallet picture to share with her friends after the dance, we now have something that is unique and identifiable by many women who have given out the same item after their homecoming – it is a status symbol of sorts. In the quest to get the perfect picture, the girl will go to any lengths to ensure its fruition. She will find not just any date, but the perfect date to compliment her skin tone. She will have that perfectly cut dress and if that limo driver is even one second late, the wrath of teenage hell shall descend upon him. Through her obsession, we will hopefully encounter multiple conflicts on our way to a much-awaited resolution. Maybe the girl will find out her best friend was really the boy who was perfect for that picture and her, but whatever the closure to this is, it doesn’t matter because we are already attached to experiencing it. Why? Because she started and hooked us all with that one thing; the basic and sound purpose of the character.

Yes, It's ALL Been Said Before, BUT Repetition IS The Best Practice, No?

I know this sounds so simple and many of you may be shaking your heads at me saying “Well, DUH, Smellyia. Of course we know this.” Most of you probably do, but how often is it that you actually sit down and think about it? It wasn’t until I actually started researching the different aspects of story creation that I saw the pieces as a puzzle rather than one big mishmash of ideas in my little head.

So while motivation may be fairly obvious, how often do you think about WHY your character exists? What their purpose is? How much of a driving force does it create? Does the desire for something lead to a conflict of some nature? Is this a chain reaction that will lead to the layers your character will take on as your plot develops?

I think reflection on these questions for any author is the first step in building a character who truly comes alive and is a new friend to your readers.

Obviously this is not all that goes into characterization, but I think it’s the building block of a well-developed character. No matter what I read or discuss pertaining to character building, purpose seems to be the one thing that has to be established before anything else makes sense. I know I’ll personally be taking a long hard look at the reason for each character’s existence in all of my future writings and maybe through careful understanding, my characters can take on dimensions of which I didn’t know they were capable -- you never know.

Bits of Words for Resource:

The Craft of Writing, or Yes, Virginia It's a Learned Skill by Macedon
**Resource provided by Minisinoo**

Oh and before I let you all go -- what about the awesome that is my new header? A round of applause to AG for her graphics skillz and Angel and my sweetling -- Emibella for their input on it since I was out of commission during the creation. You guys are quite lovely. THANK YOU!

Smellyia is the administrator for this blog and is completely unqualified to be so, but she'll do it anyways because it completes her like watching the BSG finale and listening to "All ALong The Watchtower" over and over does.

Wednesday, March 25, 2009

FicDive: Mmmmm......

Diver Alias: The Hotdog Bitch Slapping Porn Peddler (AKA Ninapolitan)
Mission: Carlisle! Dressed-Up with a Bowtie (yeah I meant it in a dirty way. It's not what I got)
Parameters: Humor/Parody

The Pearl: Carlisle The Clown by shewhoshallwrite
Summary: Carlisle quits his job at the hospital. Why? To pursue his life long dream of becoming a clown. WIP– Twilight – Rating K+ – Humor/Parody – Chapters:3 – Words: 1,661 – Reviews: 194 Updated: 3/20/09 – Published: 3/5/09
Why I Read This: Because of the title and I immediately had the image of Peter Facinelli dressed in just a bowtie. Not quite the image a K+ fic intends to convey but I'm a Perv. It's grammatically correct which I didn't expect I'll be honest. It's funny, Alice throws a fit because her shopping habit won't be supported anymore without Dr. Daddy's hospital salary. Jasper has a hilarious emotional breakdown over his fear of clowns so he cowers in the corner and cries as Emmett and Edward make fun of him. On Carlisle's first day at the circus he asks Emmett to be his assistant because poor Emmett always has the mentality of a toddler So now we get the mental picture Emmett with a red nose, a bowtie and some balloons.

Mission: New Moon Redo AU
Parameters: Romance

The Pearl: Abbracciare il Cantante by brattyvamp
Summary: What if Edward left Forks after his first encounter with Bella, and he never returned? Fate couldn't keep these two apart. But meeting at a later time and place might have changed the nature of their relationship.
WIP– Twilight – Rating M – Romance – Chapters:26 – Words: 49,960 – Reviews: 475 Updated: 3/24/09 – Published: 2/16/09
Why I Read This: I like the idea of fate bringing them together and honestly, I loved the title. I'm Italian, sue me. Basically Bella made it through High School without ever knowing Edward. Enter Mike Newton! They're in the process of continuing their long distance 'relationship' when she meets Edward at college. Fate puts them in a class together. She has a vague memory of Edward from his one at Forks High and they begin building a friendship while working together over a vampire project (ha!). The UST is yummy, but I have to be honest. Jasper is HIGHLARIOUS. Thinking of naked cartwheels. Trying to get drunk, skinny dipping in Eddie's hot tub. Explaining to Edward why his trouser snake is suddenly growing when Bella is around. Regardless of the hilarity that is Jasper. The story itself is really very good. I'm enjoying the pacing of it, that he's still lusting both for her body and her blood. Different spin. Cool story and it's updated almost daily.

Diver Alias: The Prodigy's Sparkly Boobies (aka feathers_mmmm)
Mission: Funny/Sexy Edward
Parameters: Humor/Parody/Edward

The Pearl: The Virginity Pact by herinfiniteeyes
Summary:For the SMC contest. The girls vow to lose their virginity by prom night. Will they succeed? One-shot. E/B, J/A, Em/R. Lemons. MA for mature. American Pie-Twilight crossover. Complete - Twilight - Fiction Rated: M - English - Humor/Romance - Chapters: 1 - Words: 9,327 - Reviews: 136 - Updated: 1-6-09 - Published: 1-6-09
Why I Read This: I was intrigued with the idea of a contest to lose ones virginity, and come on, when it is Sex and Edward on the table? I am in. This is a cute one-shot, written for the Crossover Movie Contest, and is based loosely on American Pie. Bella, Alice, and Rosalie go to an all girls boarding school, and are friends/brothers with our favorite Guy Trio, Edward, Jasper and Emmett. Rosalie and Alice are tired of being virgins, and make a pact to lose their virginity by the end of the school year. Bella is a virgin as well, although in no real rush to lose it. In Comes Edward. She of course has a crush on him, he of the ever present green eyes and the messy hair. He of course also harbors a secret crush on her, creating a spark and friction when he finds out about her unwilling participation in this pact. He offers to be the one to deflower Miss Bella, and she takes him up on it. The sex it actually quite steamy, and has a few good lines, “I want to worship you with my hands and my words,” and “Don't you worry my dear, you'll get your 8 inches in heaven,” Always a dick joke to lighten the mood of any deflowering. Actually, there were some sweet moments, as this Edward is truly concerned with making sure she has a great first time, and is taken care of by someone that knows what he is doing. And this Edward does, using a line like, “I've waited a long time for this, and if you think you're getting away from me without a thorough fucking, you've got another thing coming.” Another thing coming indeed...

Mission:Edward/Sex/Losing Control
Parameters: Edward/Mature

The Pearl: Don't Worry, It's Only Kinky The First Time by Edward's Necrophiliac
Summary:What happens when our favourite Twilight pair are sharing a sweet and cute moment? What if Edward, our lovable, old-fashioned Edward, was thinking naughty things all the while? The real dirty side of Edward and his hot fantasies. ExB Smut. Complete - Twilight - Fiction Rated: M - English - Romance/Humor - Chapters: 1 - Words: 2,559 - Reviews: 29 - Updated: 11-30-08 - Published: 11-30-08
Why I Read This: I couldn't NOT read this when I saw the title, and then the authors pen name was too fantastic, and a little trippy. So this was not what I was expecting, and I was quite pleased with this one. Edward and Bella, sweet and innocent in their meadow, while an inner dialog from Edward's perspective highlights what he wishes he was actually doing to Bella as they chastely kiss. He has one hot imagination. He explores every inch of his Bella from within the safety of his own mind, and keeps their morality above question. The imagery is steamy, and loaded with lemony love. To flip between external and internal monologue is interesting, and one that I don't see as often. Yes, we often have a comment or two of subtext, but this is literally 2 different scenes overlaid on top of each other, and artfully arranged. To say that I was pleasantly surprised by this is an understatement, I really enjoyed this. The title was not too closely linked to the meat of the story, but other than that I give it two panties up!

Monday, March 23, 2009

GuestEssay: Manyafandom and the Call of the Natives

Hello, The Fandom Called - It Wants It's Good Stories Back


So I think that I should slap a disclaimer right at the top of this before I start. The following are my opinions and thoughts, not necessarily the right or correct ones. I can only speak for myself here, and this is the way I feel and think. You may agree with me or not, and I am perfectly okay with that. Thank you for taking the time to read.

Back in November there was an uproar in the fandom about the stories coming out. How a wave of stories with deviant behavior, strictly smut, and honestly not very good stories were flooding the fandom. There was a call placed by the reader to the fandom to produce a higher quality story. Stories that weren’t smut just for the sake of it, didn’t include “shock” value behavior just because they could and generally a better all around story. Putting more focus on the characters and their motivations and the story the author was trying to tell, a deeper story, a smarter story. Me, personally, I think the call has been answered. And I’ll tell you why.

The quality of stories being written in the fandom recently is of a level and of an abundance that I have never seen before. Some may attribute this to the explosion in the size of the fandom over the past couple of months. That simply, there is more out there to choose from, and to some extent I agree. But, I think or feel that the craftsmanship of the stories being told has increased as well and that the writers are doing an overall better job. Now, I am not saying that this is in direct result of the grumblings and call for better stories, but maybe in some way it is. Either way, the stories are better and I really don’t care how it came about, just that it did. Hopefully this trend will continue as the fandom grows.

I think I should clarify myself a bit. I know, already I’m off to a good start. I am not saying that there weren’t good or great stories out there before the renaissance of sorts that is happening in the fandom. There was or are stories that inspired me and many others to start writing, as well as the writers that we all strive to be as good as.

I cannot talk about a higher quality story without mentioning Jandco. To me, she is the platinum standard that we should all hold ourselves to. In my opinion it does not get any better than her and her stories. Not just because of the stories she tells, but the way she tells them. She mixes a depth of her characters with intriguing and thought provoking story lines, while weaving words together that illicit an emotional response in the reader. Isn’t that what we all want? I know I do. I want to be able to do that. There are others that do this as well; caracol with “A Rite of Passage” and “The Way Back”, vjgm with “Boycotts and Barflies”, Amethyst Jackson with “Only Human” are just a few out of the many.

Now I know that the terms “quality” and “good” are subjective. Something that I think is good and worth a read, someone else will think is crap, and vice versa. So I guess I should explain what makes a story good or of a higher quality to me.

It’s not the lack of grammatical errors, the proper use of their/there/they’re and so on…though that does help. What makes a story good or of a higher quality to me is all on the author, the author’s commitment to telling a story worth telling. Knowing their characters and their motivations in such a way that they are not just moving the characters across the stage but every action and thought has a purpose and rings true. Having a depth to the characters, not just caricatures or pale substitutions of the characters that are so beloved from the books. And then of course having a story that is worth exploring down to its deepest level in the first place. A story and its events that are well thought out and planned. A story that goes beyond the books or takes us to a completely different realm. All the while using words to weave a tale that leaves us breathless and on the edge of our seat wanting more and more. Using imagery and words that are so rich, lush and detailed you can't help but to fall into the world with the characters and see it play out like a movie through your mind. Or using the bare minimum of the right words to achieve the same thing. A story that evokes physical and emotional responses in you. Something that makes you feel. To me, a combination of all of the above is what makes a story good or of a higher quality.

So, you are maybe thinking “okay, I can kinda see your point, now show me some examples”. Well, I happen to have examples. We’ve all read or heard of "Innocent, Vigilant, Ordinary", "Black & White", "Wide Awake", "Coming to Terms", "Hiding in Plain Sight", "Sanctuary", and "The Submissive". All wonderful stories, perfect examples of what I am talking about and initially posted around the time frame I’m referring to. Well worth the time to read, and if you haven’t read them, why not? Trust me, you will not be disappointed. The Ficster has introduced us to other such gems as "Irritable Grizzly Adams", "Salacious Behavior & Earnest Speaking", and "The Nymph and the Waterfall".

But I have more. Yes, I have a few stories that you might not have heard of. Some of the below stories take the deviant and “shock” value concept and use it in a most amazing way. To paraphrase something gustariana once said to me “The behavior is the painting or the picture on the wall. Not the people or the room itself.” The following stories were first posted in the time frame of early November to the present and also are prime examples of excellence in writing and storytelling that I talked about previously. At least to me they are.

I’m going to start off with a rather odd story and one that you don’t see often in the fandom, "I Love L.A." by feathers_mmmm. This is a Rob fic. Yes, you read that right, a Rob fic. And it is oh so good. It mixes the witty, the sweet and the steamy with an honest look at what someone in Rob’s situation might go through in Hollywood while falling in love with a woman that is just about perfect for him. Alice, the writer tells the tale from a snarky and comedic point of view while conveying an innocence and depth and realism that is rare. The term “I laughed, I cried” definitely applies to this story.

Next, I have to talk about the story that owns me right now, "Behind Enemy Lines" by adorablecullens. This is love story in its purest form and about what someone is willing to do to save the one that they love. After nine years of missed connections and it not being the right time, Bella and Edward are finally at a place where they can be together. But Edward must go and do what he thinks is right and morally correct, putting himself in a war zone to defend the country that he loves so much. Edward is lost and has disappeared off the face of the earth. Against impossible odds and with great personal danger Bella goes into enemy territory and saves the man she loves, he in return saves her back. I am going to use this term over and over, but the love between them is palpable. You really do feel it, the emotions and the stress and heightened tension of the situation.You are immersed into the physical conflict as well as the emotional one.

You might dismiss "Return to Sender" by melissa228 as another high school story where Edward is hyper sexually active while pining for Bella as she secretly pines for him as well. And in a way you would be correct, but there is more to this story than has been revealed. I can’t say anymore without giving it all away, but there is more going on just under the surface that is slowly and really, perfectly being exposed piece by piece, layer by layer. Melissa228 is tackling something or an idea that I have yet to see done in the fandom. Taking on a very serious topic and portraying it in a very real and human way.

Now for a taste of the dark and yet completely humorous, "Bonne Foi" by Amethyst Jackson. Edward is a vampire abandoned by his sire after his change and never came into the consciousness he had in the books. His only thought is about his next meal, preferring young co-eds above all else. He meets Bella and as we all know is drawn to her blood in a way he has never encountered before. Also her mind is silent to him, thus intriguing him. He lures her away to a secluded spot to feast on her delicious smelling blood only to find her silent mind an advantage that brings out other feelings in him, feelings of lust. He battles with himself over drinking of her or seducing her, eventually choosing the latter. The hoops that he jumps through and his thoughts as he pretends to be human for her just so he can have her again are highly entertaining. Bella changes Edward in ways that he is not aware of. Amethyst is a master at conveying that concept, the changes in Edward that even he has not realized yet. The story is told completely from Edward’s point of view. Edward is very dark, as he is a vampire that feeds on humans, but also he is witty and snarky at the same time. Amethyst meshes those traits together in a wonderful and perfect way. Again the confusion and lust and need for Bella is palpable.

Now the last two stories deal with deviant or taboo subjects. But as I said before the deviant or taboo is not the whole story it's just one aspect of it.

"Promises of Forever" by forever_dreamer tackles the taboo subject of a student/teacher relationship. For now it is a one-shot with the possibility of a continuation of the story. It is told from Bella’s point of view as she struggles with the secret relationship she carries on with her teacher Edward. You feel like you are in the head of a confused teenager trying to come to terms with what she knows is right and what her heart wants. It’s honest and real and holds nothing back. I hope that she chooses to continue it.

Now my last story is not going to be every one's cup of tea. I already know this, but I feel that I have to talk about it because of the depth of characters and emotions and the words and imagery used to convey it all. "Over the Top" by starfish422 is a slash story. And slash for those not in the know, is a relationship between two people of the same gender, in this case Jasper and Edward. Now I love this story not just because it is one of the few good, not just smut slash stories in the fandom. But because it is about a journey of self discovery and breaking down of pre-conceived notions about one’s self and finding that person that simply gets it and you. That sees who you are underneath all the bullshit, or the person you are capable of being. It’s raw and real and touching and sweet. If the story was between a female and male character it would still be all of those things, it just happens to be between two men. Even if it is something that you would never ever think about reading, give it a try. You might be surprised.

In doing research for this story I asked several respected writers and readers to give me their opinions on the subject. The responses that I received were positive and negative and all completely different. This is what I think makes our fandom so great. You ask one question and you will get a different answer every time. I personally, like to see all sides of an idea or concept. It helps me to better form my own opinion. And though I may not agree with all the responses I received, I do see their points of view and where they are coming from. So let’s see what others have to say about the quality of stories in the fandom recently.

From KatieBelle, author of "Warmth", "Surprises" and co-author of "Place Your Bets":

I have been extremely impressed with the rise in the quality of fanfiction within the past few months. The efforts put in by authors as of late are obvious and numerous, spanning from more frequent use of betas to in-depth research of their stories. Storylines are becoming increasingly intelligent and well thought-out, and realistic characters are being created more and more frequently. For me, it has been immeasurably refreshing to find so many new stories that have been planned and crafted in such a way as to add numerous layers of depth and emotion, thereby allowing me to fall into their worlds. I am exceedingly pleased to say that, in my opinion, the call for higher quality fiction has been answered, and I hope to see many more in the future. Of course, this leaves me with just one, little problem - how the hell am I going to tear myself away from the computer now?

From GinnyW, author of "Coming to Terms":

There was a glut of porny, smutty, sex-filled fics over the summer that were hugely popular. In turn, that led lots of people to try their hand at writing their own story where they pushed the limits to the extremes in an effort to be "the next big story." What a lot of those people didn't realize is that those hugely popular stories had something that a lot of people failed to put into their own story.

An example would be "THE TEENAGE ANGST BRIGADE" by jandco. That story pushed a lot of limits. But the reason that it works is because jandco didn't shy away from the emotional depth of the characters. She showed the consequences of their actions. It wasn't just one huge porny romp. It was a story about a group of messed-up teens and how their decisions affected them all. There were reasons for the characters' actions and for their decisions. There was a purpose to the story. How many copycats emerged from that story alone?

There is a difference between a writer who takes a set of characters and simply dictates what is going to happen and the writer who sits down and asks why a character does the things that they do. It reminds me quite a bit of playing with dolls (I prefer to play with Sims, but same thing.) When you play with dolls, you move their arms and legs, make them sit, stand, etc. A large number of people write like that. They have a plot and they decide that Edward, Bella, Emmett, Jasper, Rosalie, and Alice are going to star in it, and then they write how they picture the dolls interacting in their imaginations. The characters mostly behave as nothing more than caricatures of what they were in the books (or their behavior is based off of a characterization in another fanfiction.) Rosalie is a beautiful bitch, Alice loves to shop, Emmett is a big, burly jokester, etc. Really, there is nothing wrong with that, except that the author typically doesn't know exactly why the characters act the way that they do. They don't know their histories. The characters simply do as their told. And, when that happens, the reader can tell.

Those other authors, the ones who write the stories that tend to draw us in, they work differently. Instead of telling the characters what to do and say, these authors know why the characters act the way that they do, they know how each decision will affect them, and with that knowledge, they allow the characters to dictate the scene. They know everything about their characters. They understand them. And if they don’t know something, they try to figure it out.

There were some excellent stories before this last fall. I read them and I loved them. They were what I aspired to write like. There just weren’t nearly as many before as there seem to be now. But, really, there wasn't nearly as much Twilight fanfiction out there either. There has been an absolute explosion in the Twilight fandom over the last 9-12 months, I believe.

From Limona, author of "Hiding in Plain Sight" and "Merger of Two Hearts":

There were always good stories being written. It is natural that there are more good stories now than there were several months ago because the pool of people writing is larger. Twilight is a relatively young fandom, and I think it is growing and maturing a bit. There is still a ton of smut for smut's sake, but the tide of Twilighted opinion has turned somewhat, and people are giving it less word of mouth. I will agree that more emphasis has been placed lately on discovering the good stories that maybe don't get as much word of mouth, but I doubt that the motivating factor for the authors is a call for better stories. What I do thinking is happening in the Twilight fandom, and it's something I'm psyched about, is that people are actively looking for and noticing superior storytelling.

Here is an opinion that is the complete opposite of mine. I appreciated the opposing viewpoint and complete honesty of the commenter, who will remain anonymous. It was very refreshing and made me pause and re-evaluate my own opinion. I’m choosing to not reveal their identity as to not start something that doesn’t need to be started.

At the risk of opening myself up to dirty looks and rotten tomatoes, I have to say that quality has not really improved. Quantity has risen sharply. Twilight fanfics are spewing at us from all directions, and if you've found more fics that meet your requirement for "quality" I'd say that's simply because there are more to choose from.

I am less enthusiastic about the stories I have discovered lately than ones I found back in the summer. I actually mourn the days when the fics were about exploring the beloved characters or expanding on a facet of the original stories that needed a deeper treatment than SM allotted.

Many newer stories have characters who share absolutely no personality traits with the originals; the only common tie is the familiar name and hair color. Or the theme of the newer story is completely foreign to anything explored or touched upon in the Twilight Saga.

I'd say we have moved away from fanfic completely and have developed a community where amateur writers can explore their craft and their own ideas. This is valid and great in and of itself, but it has very little to do with Twilight. And the wide-open arms of this community have encouraged an influx of every kind of garbage that hungry readers must now wade through--- thus the birth of the Dumpster Dive!

I think, if anything, quality is suffering more now than ever. I feel like the most popular stories are pandering to the lowest common denominator, grammar and plot have fallen entirely to the wayside, and the things that charmed me about Twilight in the first place have been completely lost.

So, I guess what I am trying to say after all this rambling is that I love the Twilight fanficdom right now. I love the product (stories) being posted and shared. I love the lengths that the authors are going through to give us their best. I appreciate the effort, more than mere words could ever express. If anything, there is too much good stuff to read right now. I feel hopelessly behind and like I will never be able to read them all.

I was given many story recommendations when I went about researching this article. Some I had read, some I would never consider recommending because they were not what I thought of as good, some which are on my long and ever increasing “To Be Read” list, and some that I had never heard of. But because I have not read them...yet I can’t list them here. Sorry. Maybe next time.

I hope you enjoyed my ramblings, I enjoyed writing them.

Manyafandom is the author of "The Arrangement", a mega hot 'accidental threesome' relationship story, and "All I Ever Knew", a life-altering journey of two men (one who previously self-labeled as heterosexual) who fall in love. She has managed to turn even the most slash skeptical Twifans on to her stories by writing believable, flawed, lovable characters. She's an OP (Original Perv) and a contributor to the Perv Pack's Smut Shack Blog and spends her days chasing after her cute kids, ignoring housework, dreaming of Robward and Jacksper and reveling in all things geek. She frequently pretends to write, but is probably actually reading more often than not. manyafandom has a taste for the deliciously deviant, as long as it is well written, and will try just about every flavor of Twific at least once.

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