Thursday, July 30, 2009

two rivers, two coreys, a jayne, a jane, a jewel

Summer! How’s yours going? I might be old enough to be an adult, but I’m still on a student’s schedule (and I’m also at the mercy of my kids’ school schedule) and I have the summer off. It’s been worse than during the school year, too; as I write this, I’m at my kid’s swimming lessons. I live in Southern California and it’s overcast, gloomy, and cold. What the hell, dude? A week ago I sat on this bench and got more tan as I wrote updates… now I’m sitting here, freezin’ balls and bitching about it, heartily.

Anyway, on with the questions. And for those of you wondering which updates I just referred to… go check your inboxes, if you have me on alert: I’m actually updating today. You can thank the swimming lessons for allowing me to multi-task. This is a short article, though. That’s what she said.

Dear Wtvoc-

I have some bones that need pickin', and I really don't know where to turn to. Maybe you can help.

First thing: I've been writing FFn for a year now. I've got a healthy little following of readers, but that's just it- it's little. I guess I'm not sure what I'm doing wrong. I always take great care with editing my chapters and I try to update on a regular basis. I try to stay away from the typical characterizations of the characters, and I almost never use words like "center" and "mound" in my smut. So what gives? I've yet to win any contests or awards, and it's kinda tearin' my dream down, man. It's bummin' me out! Maybe you could let me in on the secret, cuz I'm definitely feeling like I need to step things up.

Second thing: Maybe I'm just a poor sport, but sometimes when I read some stories that have thousands of reviews and a healthy following, I'm left wondering. Most of the time, they're amazing. Sometimes, though, I just see the need for a better beta. I find myself tempted to tear my hair out when I'm reading a story I really like, only to have the author switching their "than" with their "then" or their "you're" with "your." How can these authors get such a following if their stories are so riddled with mistakes? To me, it just doesn't display care and attention to their craft.

Oh! And it drives me nuts, especially when I see a note at the beginning of the chapter thanking the author's beta. I mean, really, did they post the unedited version? I just want to email the author and tell them to fire their beta or find a secondary editor to fix their shit. I know we sometimes pick betas because we respect their opinion more than because they have any editing background, but still. It's too distracting and my interest in a story (that may be absolutely AMAZING) wanes if I have to mentally correct things as I'm going through. I try to take care with my chapters, and an accident may occasionally slip through, but I make that effort and I guess I just expect others to make that effort, too. I wanna see a clean chapter so I can enjoy your story, dammit!

And for the love of god, how many more mouths will "crash" together, how many tongues will "beg for entrance" or be "granted access"? And don't you dare rub on my "bundle of nerves"!

Okay, my rant is over now. I feel like a spoilsport, but really. I hate it when these things happen. It makes me wanna cry harder than I did when Tofutti stopped making my favorite flavor of vegan cream cheese. Ugh.

-Becky (Herinfiniteeyes)

Dear Sporty Spoiled Spice:

Look, here’s the thing.

You speak of poor editing and betas and perfect characterizations.

What I want to know is this-

Why are you here?

Are you in it for the laughs, or the validation?

What I’m about to say might be construed as rude, and I apologize in advance, but it isn’t intended to pick on you, or anyone, really, just me being blunt, but-

-this is fanfiction. You call it “craft”, I call it funtimes and exercising my writing muscle. I think there’s a distinct difference between a “craft” and a “hobby”, and the difference to me is what you expect to get out of it.

As a craft, writing would give you some sort of return, some sort of validation, I guess. The satisfaction of a job well done. That’s what the reviews are for. As a hobby, you do it because it’s fun, or because you love writing, or it relaxes you, etc.

It doesn’t really matter which of the two fanfiction is for you; it sounds like you’re on the craft side, and over the last year of writing for this fandom, I’ve decided to remain firmly entrenched on the hobby side. Nothing wrong with it being a craft, either; that’s not what I’m saying.

But what I’m saying is this: it’s not craft for everyone. Plenty of people are in this for the fun and could give a shit about syntax, plot development, editing, etc. God knows my stuff isn’t perfect, and that’s because I refuse to get a beta.

Now, the rabid readers are often finding themselves in one of two camps: srs bsns OHMYGODYOUSHOULDPUBLISH and HOLYSMUTTINGFUCKINGSHITTHAT’SHOT (or sometimes, a crazed combination of both). Heh, I know I’m generalizing broadly, but consider me General Broad here- not all readers are in it to read stuff that transcends canon and could be turned into a book, just like not everyone is in it to read the most graphic, pilates-questionable, googling-“BDSM” material possible.

Dude, I don’t even know what I’m talking about. I guess what I’m saying is that not everyone is as serious about it as you seem to be or others are, and that’s okay. Do I read stuff and question its popularity? You bet your ass. Do I wonder who these betas are that don’t know the difference between accept/except? I roll my eyes every time. Does it keep me awake at night? Never.

Now, as to why your story isn’t getting the reviews or popularity… dude. There are people who get paid millions consulting with Hollywood as to which movies are going to make the boocoo bucks, and they’re often wrong. Who can tell? A lot of it’s promotion, sure, but it’s not like there’s a sure-fire rule about how to effectively promote your shit. Just keep doing as you do. Promote yourself in any forums you participate in; rely on word-of-mouth with your readers.

And godspeed, love.


dear wtvoc,

lets get down to it shall we?

when writing a fic i want to know how the hell you start? i have sooo many ideas for stories and i have pages upon pages of random chapters and ideas for said stories. my problem is that i cant seem to get a good enough start and the chapters i do write, i read over and over and wonder if ill ever be satisfied enough to post. (dont even get me started on the concept of actually posting -- where i will find the balls to actually do it is beyond me) it doesnt make it any better that these stories are floating around in my mind all dam day while i am sitting around with my thumb up my ass.

another problem i have is my writing skills. i love to write but english and i have a messy relationship and as you can tell by this email, i have no regard for grammar or anything in its vicinity . (im also pretty sure there are a couple of run ons in bad dog)

any help you can give will be greatly appreciated and who knows? maybe ill actually have a story up once i get over myself, yes?

thanks a bunch

--- mrs. robward cullenson

Dear Mrs. C-

I don’t know what you’re asking of me. How does one write, or how do I write?

I can’t speak for others; I just sit down to write, and I generally find it effective if I just type and type and go back later, editing and adding and deleting as I go.

Now, if English and you aren’t on the best speaking terms, I would definitely suggest getting a beta. Just because I’m not a grammar Nazi in my fics (see above question), doesn’t mean it doesn’t irritate the shit out of me when I see really bad errors. Project Team Beta is a livejournal community created for the express purpose of finding people betas. I don’t use it because I edit my own stuff, but I do hear wonderful things.

If you wanted to know how I, specifically, start- I just do. It’s hard to explain. One day I’m sitting here, talking with jandco, the next we’ve written three chapters of Scotch, Gin and the New Girl.

Good luck, dear. If the story’s hollering to you loud enough, you’ll get it written. If not… there’s also a livejournal for people who have ideas/need ideas. Lemme dig that one up for ya, if you want it?


Yeesh, everyone’s asking srs bsns today. I feel like I’m a stern librarian, chastising you guys for making too much noise. >:( DON’T YOU KNOW THE DEWEY DECIMAL SYSTEM?

Darling Dirty Uncle,
I had a question for you about the Twilight books. This blog primarily deals with the glorious world of FF, but I was wondering if you could give me the final word on the books themselves? I'm a bookish person, and when I stepped into the Twilight realm, I noticed two categories of Twilight readers.
a) frightening obsessiveness
b) hyper uber anti-Twilight
I've gotten mixed impressions of Twilight, but mostly I regard it as tasty braincrack, and not much else. What do you think? You seem to appreciate it on some level, but it's no secret that you object to certain parts. Can you break it down for me and give us the final word?

Hey Mrs. Wilsonnnn!

The more I hang around this fandom, the less I like the books.

I’m trying to figure out why. I actually tried to read Twilight recently to aid my writing of wolvesnvamps’ auction!fic, and my mind kept wandering. I remember when I first read it last February that I couldn’t put it down and couldn’t stop thinking about it; now it kind of bores me.

Is it fic? Is it the legions who start websites devoted to mocking it (one of which I love, is super notorious, and I love the girls in it to death and no, it’s not the Gazebo)?

More like a combination. I mean, we’ve all read some good fanfiction that is much better than canon (Dark Side of the Moon, anyone?) and we’ve all seen the hype and subsequent Twilight Movie backlash.

I, personally, still like the series, but maybe not as much as I did last year. I think it’s because this fanfiction thing I’ve found has brought me so much more enjoyment than the books did- the people, discovering I love writing, Rob (haters to the left, please), this blog, my new stuff, etc. I’m a book person, too; I’m currently reading five books at the same time. But who was it who said “Books are fine in their own right, but they’re a mighty bloodless substitute for life.” Err, something like that. I can’t google, the pool has no internet, dammit. Anyway, yeah- the internet Twilight has given me so much more pleasure than the books, and that’s rare. This fandom is so very large and so very involved, and I have too much fun in it sometimes.

Okay, final word:

Twilight: still my fave. After the prefanfic/fifth reread, I began to let the weaknesses in writing and fail characterizations bother me; ‘tis why I clicked on the “mature fanfiction” link on a certain website who shall remain nameless.

New Moon: I am not a Jacob fan, sorry. Mostly because his biggest failure is choosing a girl who wasn’t good enough for him. That makes sense right now, and it probably won't make sense tomorrow, but whatev. I won’t lie, though- the scene in Volterra where Edward's all “Carlisle was right” is my favorite in the series. Aside from the “leg hitch heard ‘round the world”, which is a phrase I stole from someone in the Gazebo. I think?

Eclipse: love/hate. This is when I really start questioning Edward Cullen’s motives, man. He’s so fucking manipulative in this one, which I love and would hate it if it were me being manipulated. The thing is, I can see why Bella was so blind-sided by Edward; we all were, initially (those of us who actually like the book, anyway). You see what S.Meyer wanted you to see, and you fell in love with Edward, too. But for me, with each re-read, his character quirks started making me question him, completely. Like, why was he a virgin for so long? Why such a fucking hold-out? Sure, it’s romantic to think that a guy waited for you, and maybe I admire it, but I’m not entirely sure, man. I write sex scenes and get a little horny; he sees people’s dirtiest fantasies and does nothing about it. Come on. What kind of guy is like that? Maybe a complete gentleman, maybe not.

Breaking Dawn: alright, look. I didn’t hate the book, even though it definitely fails. They got married, they had sex, Bella became a vamp, Edward stuck around. Those were my conditions going into it, those conditions were met. The fact that Jacob was given more personality than Edward stung. Edward was mysteriously missing from the thing. Needed more Jasper. ALICE FUCKING LEFT. Rosalie was never redeemed (Rose is the unsung hero of Twilight, if you ask me). And don’t get me started on the plotline-that-wasn’t-supposed-to-be-possible.

Anyone else have any thoughts on the books?


I wanted to know if u guys are going to finish Saturday School and of course Must Have Been Love... I seriurously love ur stories and Im going trough withdrawal without updates on those.

Thank you so much for ur stories, and keep em coming

Dear Lil-

Check your inbox. No Saturday School, though; I fear that one may never finish.




I've noticed an epidemic in Twific that I'm concerned and ultimately frustrated about.

I’ve tried to take and apply the advice that Alice and Rosalie offer Bella in the countless club/dancing scenes that have been plaguing Twifiction, but I can’t seem to attain her acquired grace.

How does someone as clumsy and uncoordinated as Bella manage to seductively "sway and grind" against Edward every single time they are at a club simply by “feeling the music” even though she has never danced before?

Am I simply handicapped or does that shit happen in real life?


Dead Serious

Dear Joker:

Well, here’s the thing. Mary Sue Swan does a lot of shit in fic that we writers dream about. I’m an old bitch and prefer to write about the stuff I have done because it’s easier to write. My lack of imagination is my true motivation for writing, really. But a lot of stuff is written that you can tell the author has no experience with, whether it’s sex, living in Seattle, being a doctor (oh god, my biggest pet peeve is medical shit. I have a medical background, and those errors drive me craaaaaaazy. My husband can’t even watch old ERs with me because I rant at the television.) or you get the picture.

Is there something wrong with this? Nah. A lot of people pull off their stories with good research, and only those who are some sort of expert on the subject know the difference (especially with all the fics dealing with some sort of psychological condition that you see lately).

But as for dancing? Well. I like to shake my ass and these hips don’t lie, but I’m in it for the fun. How does a clumsy, graceless oaf suddenly turn into Jenna Jameson on the dance floor?

Wishful thinking. No, it’s not you.


Jasper Hale Question o’the Week:

Dear Ms. Wtvoc -

As ever, I appreciate your insightful response to my inquiry on behalf of my brother and his betrothed. Alice was able to keep Bella's embarrassment concerning the topic to a minimum by discussing your advice with her privately. Edward was alternately touched by your compliment regarding his virtue and offended by what he perceived to be an insult to his... stamina. Regardless, he begrudgingly listened to your advice and seems to be slightly more optimistic about the human's survival, if not her enjoyment.

I apologize for failing to address the question regarding vampires' ticklishness last week. The short answer is that I am not ticklish. However, neither is anyone in my family, nor have I encountered any ticklish vampire in my many years of existence. I am aware that many humans are ticklish, and I became curious about the difference. Wanting to be as thorough as possible, I asked Carlisle to address the issue. He was kind enough to draft a written response.
Ticklishness is a neurological response to stimuli. This much is easily understood. What is more difficult to assess is why some humans seem to be more ticklish than others, and why even some humans seem to have very little tickle response at all. I believe some of the theories on this issue may also answer the question of why vampires do not seem to be ticklish.

Many scientists believe that ticklishness is an evolutionary development. They theorize that the tickle response developed in humans as a defense against insects and spiders, a physiological response alerting the body to a specific type of threat. This theory explains why particularly vulnerable areas of the human body - feet, abdomen, and armpits - are among the most ticklish.

Vampires, having skin that is impervious to insect bite or burrowing, would not have developed such a physiological response.

I hope this answers your kind reader's question to her satisfaction.

As it would happen, my question to you this week dovetails nicely with a topic you desired us to discuss. In your column last week, you featured what appears to be a still image from a film loosely based upon my family. It would appear that the talented thespians in the photograph are certainly giving their all in the scene.

With the exception of Bella, the members of my family have all existed since the earliest days of filmmaking, and our eidetic memories provide us with the means to have lively discussion about which actors we think could best portray us. Therefore, my question to you this week is this: if you could cast each member of the Cullen family with any actor, living or dead, who would you select?

Until next week,
Jasper Hale

P.S. Rosalie, perhaps justifiably, does not believe any human actress could adequately portray her superhuman beauty. Nevertheless, I would still be interested in your selection.

Dear Mr. Hale

I am rather satisfied with your tickling answer, and I agree with it to an extent. I’ve read a theory that states tickling is sexual in nature, and I won’t lie- I rather hoped you would’ve addressed that, but alas.

I’m keeping it short because your question is going to be answered in a major page rape kind of way. Consider yourselves warned. If you don’t know who the followering actors are, shame on you. Or you can just ask.

Twilight, as cast by withthevampsofcourse:


Bella Swan:


Charlie Swan:


Renee Dwyer:


Jacob Black:
(shut up. my column, my choice.)

The Cullens

Edward Cullen:


Carlisle Cullen:


Esme Cullen:


Emmett Cullen:


Rosalie Hale:


Jasper Hale:


Alice Cullen:


The Other Vamps







The Volturi






Hugh Dancy Pictures, Images and Photos





Volturi Guards 2 and 3:




Forks High

Mike Newton:


Jessica Stanley:


Lauren Mallory:


Tyler Crowley:


Angela Weber :


Ben Cheney:


Aaaaand Garrett:


Disagree? Have a better option? Wanna give me a job as a casting director? Comment below, or write me a scathing email.

‘Til next week, gents. Stay classy. Don’t forget to write to your dirty uncle: .

withthevampsofcourse is currently undergoing maintenance in the form of writing the winning auction!fic for wolvesnvamps as well as writing for this blog and maintaining the musicsundays affiliate blog. And likewhoa, she’s actually updating today!

Fic Dive: Rubies, Coins, Emeralds... and Pearls!

Investigator at Large: britpacksuccubus
Diver Alias: The Alpha Betafish

Mission: To step outside my comfort zone and find a hidden gem.
Parameter: Genre = Hurt/Comfort
The Pearl: Crack the Shutters by Ish Cat
Summary: Edward has just learned that he has cancer. Him and Bella decide to go on a cross-country road-trip to experience everything he hasn't yet experienced...with a few little bumps along the way. AH EPOV. M for a reason!
Twilight - Rated: M - English - Drama/Hurt/Comfort - Chapters: 18 - Words: 28,463 - Reviews: 52 - Updated: 7-5-09 - Published: 6-19-09 - Edward & Bella - Complete

Why I read this: Not gonna lie, my heart literally ached and I bawled like a baby reading this. It's along the lines of watching The Notebook over and over even though you know what's coming and that you'll need a whole box of tissues. You just can't stop yourself. We get to be in Edward's head as he deals with his tragic fate and undying love for Bella. They live their lives to the fullest before she has to face a life without him. This very young author did an excellent job portraying love and hurt experienced through life and death. Reaffirming that life is short, but that someone can live on through their legacy. The time transitioning gets a little blurred within chapters, but it's not hard to figure out. If you're not afraid of heartfail or are in need of a really good cry, I highly recommend this quick read.

Mission: Find some fluff to quell my angst overload.
Parameters: Genre = Romance
The Pearl: Ivy League Romance Part I by ReddTwilight
Summary: By God's Grace, or so it would seem, I got into an Ivy League college. At first it felt like I didn't belong here. But now there's someone making it all worthwhile. His name: Edward. AU- All human!
Twilight - Rated: M - English - General/Romance - Chapters: 27 - Words: 82,148 - Reviews: 60 - Published: 5-10-09 - Bella & Edward - Complete

Why I read this: Needing something to calm my heart after a few rough updates, I found this either little known or underappreciated story about Bella going off to college. Although Bella wasn’t very confident in herself or her abilities, she wasn’t the sacrificial lamb that is portrayed in the books and many fics. She hadn’t given up her life and friends in Phoenix to accommodate Renee. It’s Freshman Year at an Ivy League college where Bella rooms with a genuinely pleasant Jessica, who describes Edward Cullen as wealthy, well-known and reclusive when Bella lays eyes on him at a party. They meet when Edward asks Bella to be his lab partner, but there are some minor bumps in the road. Bella and a virginal PoliteWard do finally strike up a very close friendship eventually discovering that it’s so much more. An enjoyable read with very little angst which did my heart good.

Investigator at Large: ilsuocantante
Diver Alias: Peenpire Extraordinaire

Mission: Find an angsty HS fic that isn’t lamesauce
Parameters: Genre = Romance/Angst
The Pearl: Changing Perspectives by OrionCat
Summary: Bella arrives to live with her father in Forks instantly adored by the town except for one person, Edward Cullen. An accident brings them together, but what happens when he chooses to leave his family and her? AH/AU mild OOC
Twilight - Rated: M - English - Romance/Angst - Chapters: 7 - Words: 35,901 - Reviews: 30 - Updated: 7-10-09 - Published: 5-21-09 - Bella & Edward

Why I read this: Because instead of Edward saving her outright from Tyler’s Van o‘ Death, he helps Bella pick up the pieces after she is seriously injured. Though she feels the burden of her physical limitations, Edward’s presence in her life keeps her afloat. When he goes New Moon and leaves suddenly to reunite with his biological father, Bella gets all sad spice – but I don’t blame her, Edward doesn’t even attempt to contact her while he is away. She questions his feelings for her, and her insecurities are further validated when he returns wants her to stay away from him for unknown reasons. (Probably because he’s Edward, and therefore emo-tastic.) The fic is low on the normal teenage angsty drama, and for that alone it is worth a read. At times the writing does feel amateurish, but she improves with every chapter and I am interested to see where she takes us next.

Mission: Find an indie Jasper/Bella fic
Parameters: Genre = Tragedy/Romance
The Pearl: Peace and Answers by abbymickey24
Summary: Bella came to Seattle wanting peace. Jasper came wanting answers. Both would find something much more important. All human. B/J, E/A, Em/R.
Twilight - Rated: M - English - Tragedy/Romance - Chapters: 4 - Words: 6,879 - Reviews: 5 - Updated: 7-2-09 - Published: 6-29-09 - Bella & Jasper

Why I read this: Because the very first chapter drew me in. Bella moves to Seattle to escape her abusive ex-husband and start over. She changes her name and alters her appearance (dude, she used to be blonde. The mind reels.). Jasper is an FBI agent (hot) on a mission to solve the mystery of his parents’ murder. They meet and are immediately attracted to one another. One of the best things about this is that there is not even a whisper of a love triangle. Edward is with Alice (ikr?! Ngl, it kinda threw me, too but I’m hoping they’re going to be secondary characters so the squick fact will be minimal) and when he and Bella meet there is absolutely nothing there for them. It is refreshing and well-written and intriguing, I can’t wait to read what happens next. There’s dancing involved. Possibly even some J/B grinding. I know, I’m excited too.

Wednesday, July 29, 2009

Affiliates: Final Day to Vote for Indies!

Why are The Indies so fucking cool?

1. Because we can show love to people who haven't won awards yet, but totally deserve it.
2. Because it highlight stories that we possibly haven't read, but really should.
3. Because it has a pretty website.
4. Because the coding is GOOD.
5. Because it has these little rollover thingies.
6. Because it is good for the fandom to see new things.
7. Because Pastiche will read this and beta me by saying "'Things' is too vague!"
8. Because the staff over there worked their asses off.
9. Because the authors who made it to the final round worked THEIR asses off.
10. Because there's no better way to say "Thanks for sharing your story" than to vote for it.

Please vote for Indies! Voting closes today! There is no email verification or any run-around. Just a one-page click-through. Simple. Quick. Easy. Fun.

Click link below for voting page!

Gondolier on the Metaphor

Alice is to Pixie as Edward is to Adonis

Simile and Metaphor in Fiction

You’ve used every adjective and adverb in your dictionary. You find yourself describing scenes like a play-by-play announcer. You can’t think of another possible way to write about Bella’s clumsy feet, Edward’s bronze hair, or Alice’s bouncy enthusiasm. Perhaps you feel as though you’re stuck in a writing rut, using the same descriptions over and over again with your limited MS Word thesaurus.

I’ve been there, time and again. Whenever I finish a first draft of a chapter, I read through it and make it “fresh.” In other words, I look for places where I’ve used blah language and spice up my descriptions. And the quickest, most effective way to make a story vivid and new is to use simile and metaphor.

How to Use Simile and Metaphor

In Storytelling

The definition of simile is “a similarity between like features of two things, on which a comparison may be based: the analogy between the heart and a pump.

A metaphor is “a figure of speech in which a term or phrase is applied to something to which it is not literally applicable in order to suggest a resemblance, as in “All the world’s a stage.”

[Note: Remember in grade school, how you were taught to tell simile and metaphor apart? Simile uses “like” and “as”, while metaphor uses “are” and “is.”

Description: Caius’ hair was sleek blonde.

Simile: Caius’ hair was sleek, like corn silk.

Metaphor: Caius had sleek, corn silk hair.]

Basically, similes and metaphors transform ideas into living, breathing pictures. They take one phrase or object and compare it to another phrase or object that is somehow equal. On the surface, the two objects are seemingly unrelated. It’s your job as the writer to make the connection. Working simile and metaphor into your writing takes the three S’s (sight, sound, smell) to the next level.

We use simile and metaphor to:

1. Enliven ordinary language, making it strange and extraordinary. Which is more interesting to read?:

“Rosalie was fashion-conscious since birth.”

“Rosalie popped from her mother’s womb in Prada.”

2. Encourage an audience to actively read and engage in a story. Force your readers to interpret!

“I stepped out of my car into the cold air and snow.”

“I stepped out of my car into an Arctic tundra.”

3. Give maximum meaning with minimal words. Rather than plug out an entire paragraph about how Bella’s dorm was cramped, poorly lit, and uncomfortable, simply say “Bella’s dorm room was like a prison; her floor, the cell block.”

4. Create new meaning for an experience that is emotionally complex or hard to explain. This is especially effective when writing poetry.

“Bumberfans enthusiastically waved their umbrellas, cheering for the next grunge band to take the stage.”

“Bumberfans raised cane umbrellas like a canopy of swords to hail their ermine flannel grunge court.”

5. Signal intelligence. When used properly, nothing screams smart writing like the use of simile and metaphor. Developing metaphor means finding similarities in the dissimilar, which takes imagination.

In Environment

When writing a story, evoking a sense of place is just as important as developing your characters. The story’s environment shapes the plot, the conflict, and the characters. Similarly, using metaphors tied to your story’s environment evokes a certain mood that makes your setting all the more vivid. Is your story set in New York City?

“Jasper fled the room faster than a yellow cab leaving Harlem.”

The environment in which your characters live shapes who they are. Often, characters are an extension of their environment. Take Twilight. While the Cullen family has travelled the world, they settle in remote, cool, and sunless places. Likewise, the Cullen family is stand-offish, cool-skinned, and pale white. They are an extension of their environment—the Olympic Peninsula.

Whatever environment you are writing about, give it as much care and attention as you would a character. Bring it to life. Make a list of character traits for your environment, then find ways to work those traits into simile and metaphor descriptions. Infuse your story with subtle metaphors suited to your story’s setting.

Extended metaphors and environment often go hand-in-hand. (An “extended metaphor”, or “conceit”, sets up a main subject with several subsidiary subjects or comparisons). For example, in Hydraulic Level 5, I use an extended metaphor for Edward and Bella’s “symbiotic” relationship that has roots in their Pacific Northwest environment:

Bella: brown, dirt, ground, roots, home. She has remained in Forks, close to her roots. But she hardens (like dirt) without green growth (Edward) to enrich her.

Edward: green, trees, pines, moss, growth. He has “grown” away from home, but cannot survive without the ground (Bella).

After developing these characterizations, I worked them into my descriptions via metaphor.

HL5 Bella often describes Edward as having “moss eyes”:

“But I lost myself in moss, and pine needles, and rain-soaked grass…everything I cherished about the Pacific Northwest.”

Likewise, HL5 Edward writes that Bella has “brown eyes as deep as ancient earth,” and hair that “was snarled and stringy, like clumps of dirty flower roots.”

Creating an extended environmental metaphor can be as simple as taking the setting of a particular scene and drawing a character description from that setting. In this paragraph, the setting (a garden) and the character (Aunt Alice) are inextricably tied to each other:

“Aunt Alice was lovely…quite possibly the loveliest woman I had ever seen. Her looks, while not dazzling, were suffused with a sober noblesse, as though she had floated down from the hazy, painted gardens of a Monet. The lady had wrapped herself in a filmy oriental shawl, its gold and green flowers warming her skin…Colorless lips…classic chin…keen eyes as black as a baccara rose. Even the dusky circles that rested above her petal cheekbones did not detract from her elegance...“Is the tea too hot?” Aunt Alice asked. Her low voice was barely discernable from the gusts of wind rustling through the leaves. Closing my eyes, I breathed in the faint, sweet scent that had haunted me for the past hour. It was my aunt, not the garden, who smelled of flowers.”

In Themes

Just as simile and metaphor can stem from a story’s environment, they can also be pulled from a story’s theme.

In Daniel Woodrell’s Winter’s Bone, the book thematically dwells on primal death and poverty in the Ozarks. Throughout the story, Woodrell infuses his descriptions with metaphors of raw meat, wounded animals, and butcher shops. At the climax of the story, the main character is ruthlessly beaten and compared to a dead thing on a hook, keeping with the themes of the story.

A well-crafted story, whether fanfiction or otherwise, makes use of thematic metaphors. JFly’s Sanctuary cleverly uses religious metaphors, from Madonna complexes to mantras, in a story about a priest struggling with his humanity. In WTVOC and Jandco’s Scotch, Gin, and the New Girl, metaphors are used more playfully to evoke the snobbish, booze-saturated culture of their prep school setting. Thus, drinks become thematic extensions of the characters themselves—Edward is “scotch” and Jasper is “gin.”

If done effectively, a story itself can be one big metaphor (we call this an “allegory”) for something else—death, war, religion, society, love, etc. Edgar Allan Poe was a master of allegory, as were Italo Calvino, Jorge Borges, C.S. Lewis, H.G. Wells, and even J.K. Rowling. An entire Riting Skool series could be done on allegory, but to cut to the chase, allegory is not so much about shaping descriptions as metaphor, but shaping the entire plot as metaphor. (Wizard of Oz, anybody?) Allegory is code language. The Greeks loved it. So did the Renaissance writers. Now it’s primarily found in science fiction (which will be what Lit grad students study two hundreds years from now, trust me).

[Extra Credit: Write a paragraph describing someone or something of importance in your life. First think of the basic ideas you wish to describe, then formulate a central metaphor you can use to enhance your description. Remember, metaphors are very visual.]

What NOT to Do with Simile and Metaphor

While metaphors can be oh so much fun to play around with, misusing them turns a good story ridiculous. Here are the major pitfalls that come with using similes and metaphors:


Mixed metaphors are the awkward, often silly use of more than one metaphor at a time. E.g.: “The movie struck a spark that massaged the audience's conscience.” Make sure your metaphors follow the same line of thought. To fix the above, change “massaged” to “burned”.


The key to making simile and metaphor effective is moderation. Creative writing doesn’t need metaphors in every paragraph or even on each page. If used too often, they become distractions. If a metaphor or simile just isn’t working, don’t force it. Make it organic (grown from the situation or the setting). If in doubt, leave it out. That way, when the well-placed metaphor appears as if out of nowhere, your readers will squee.

Similarly, don’t push an extended metaphor too far. Take, for example, the earlier paragraph about the garden and Aunt Alice. If this metaphor had continued on throughout the chapter, it would have become ridiculous overkill. Read your extended metaphor and look for the point where it becomes old. Once it loses its freshness, time to end it.


When similes and metaphors become cliché, they no longer pack the creative punch. We call these “dead metaphors.” They are a part of everyday speech. Can you still use them? If you like, especially when enhancing vernacular dialogue. Just know they won’t have a creative impact on your reader. Examples of dead metaphors:

“Tie up loose ends.”

“Wear my heart on my sleeve.”

“Light as a feather.”

And there you have it! I’m hoping to read an influx of stories employing metaphor. For fun, take a look at Carrie McCarthy’s list of the worst metaphors. [] Now break out a brewski and write a terrible Twilight simile or metaphor. Let’s get them out of our systems!

Gondolier is officially sticking it to the MAN by sharing her wealth of wordcraft knowledge with the likes of fandom. She demonstrates her tremendous skills with every chapter she posts of her wondrous story, Hydraulic Level 5.

Tuesday, July 28, 2009

Books off the Hook: The Hunger Games

Episode Three of tlydf's premiere podcasting project, Books off the Hook!

In this episode Amelia, Shannon and I sit down and discuss The Hunger Games by Suzanne Collins.

Show Notes
-Our favourite passages from the text
-How do we feel about Katniss?
-Peeta and Gale.
-The other Tributes.
-SPOILER section
-What do we want to see in Catching Fire?

Subscribe to us on iTunes or download the episode directly here.

Our next episode will be out in August and we will be discussing, The Princess Academy by Shannon Hale.

I would love to hear all of your thoughts on the Hunger Games!

Moon.witche you all are beautiful!

Monday, July 27, 2009

Author Interview: Krum Cake

Pastiche interviews the finger-licking good Krum Cake, author of the most epic dude Twific of all time on man-journals, the New Moon trailer, and whether or not Bella really smells like Freesia.

1. Why Seth?

Because Seth is that guy. The goofy one. The ridiculous one. The sidekick. And my bordering-on-obsessive love for secondary and minor characters demanded that I embrace Seth with all my heart and soul, as cheesy as that sounds. Because there is always so much more going on with the goofy sidekicks than their original stories let on. That’s why Kronk from “The Emperor’s New Groove” ended up getting his own movie, you know? Not just because he’s awesome, something he and Seth have in common, but because there’s more to his life than the small slice we see in Emperor Kuzco’s story. Similarly, I felt like we were only getting a slice of Seth’s life in Bella’s story. And so I wanted to dive into his head and get the scoop—on the ridiculous realities of imprinting, on the Cullens, on his sister, on his dad’s death, on his mom’s relationship with Charlie, on everything. Even the sidekicks have stories to tell.

2. Why a man journal?

Two reasons:

  1. First-person POV and I do not get along in story-telling. I always get all jumbled up, unsure of when it’s appropriate to use the future tense as opposed to the past tense, and how to include enough details to appeal to all the senses while keeping true to the character voice. So Seth’s man-journal is partially an exercise in writing first-person stories for me. I’d like to think I’ve improved, but who really knows?
  1. I love stream of consciousness. I love pointless rambles. I love dialect. I love fun character voices. A diary format was the best way to ensure that I would have a hell of a fun time writing Seth’s story.

3. Have you ever written anything before? And what prompted you to get into writing fan fiction for Twilight?

Lame as this sounds, I have been a writer for as long as I can remember. I think I first realized how much I loved to write way back in first grade. We had to write stories all the time in school, but I distinctly remember how successful I felt after writing this one short piece about accidentally tripping into a rocket ship and going into outer space, where I met a friendly postal alien who kindly delivered a letter to my mother to inform her that I was currently stuck on Mars. In middle school I started writing a quartet of “books” which I only got halfway through. They were about these cats who had their own kingdom and got betrayed by evil lions and fell in love and got kidnapped and had some babies and fought wars and dabbled in magic and…that’s enough of that.

As for writing Twilight fanfiction…it just sort of happened. I have said more than once on that I am not Twilight’s biggest fan, and I stand by that claim. But I do love me some shape-shifters, and one day last summer I was feeling bored and the heat made me feel like I was on crack, so I just began to write Seth’s man-journal. And here I am. (There is more to my fanfiction history, and you’ll get that exciting story later on in the interview.)

4. How does it feel to be writing in the mind of a teenage boy? Do you have to down Bud Light and eat Slim Jims prior to writing?

Ahaha, not quite. Actually, I have never had Bud Light or a Slim Jim, so it’s possible that they would make me feel even more testosterrific and I’ve been missing out on the world’s greatest muse ever:

“Okay, seriously, the beer and jerky thing is getting really old. Your breath smells like feet.”

“Sorry guys, gotta eat and drink my way to inspiration, you know? It’s a tough job, but someone’s gotta do it. I’ve perfected the opening-Slim-Jims-with-my-teeth technique and can now open forty-seven in thirty seconds. Wanna see? I could give any horny teenage boy a run for his money in a condom-opening contest, that’s for sure. It’s a skill.”

Wow, anyway. The truth behind my ability to get inside the mind of a neurotic teenage boy is that I used to do a lot of RPing. I have years of useless RPing experience. I started on Xanga doing Harry Potter RPs, then I got more into forum-based RPing where people basically wrote mini-novels back and forth and in order to snag a character, you actually had to write out long, detailed personality descriptions and life histories. We all took it way too seriously, but it was amazingly helpful for character development. And since almost no one ever wanted to play guys, I always found myself getting inside the minds of guys (you know, taking one for the team), and honestly, it was a lot more fun than playing girls. For some reason, I always sucked at girls. But let me tell you, I made a kickass James Potter.

Good God, I am a serious nerd. But my point is that it’s something that simply takes practice, at least for me. I’ve gotten better as time goes on. Oh, and another embarrassing tip: watch The Bachelorette. I’m totally serious, too. You get like fifteen men shoved together in a tiny little house, and when they interact, it’s like watching them in their natural habitat. Not only is it informative as to the daily workings of the average American man (except for the spectacular scumbags like guitar-playing Wes this season), but it is also the most hilarious thing you will ever see. If I’m being entirely honest, it’s my preferred form of entertainment, watching the men on that show interact. Their sheer guyness is enough to make me piss my pants with joy.

Aaaaaaand I’m done embarrassing myself enough for one day.

5. Which do you get more of: readers asking for more on the Cullens? or readers thanking you for giving them a break?

Far and away I get more people thanking me for the break from the overwhelming number of Edward/Bella fics in the fandom. It’s sometimes very difficult to find Quileute-centric stories, so I think people are just appreciative to have found something a little different.

6. How did you get involved in fan fic?

I have my sister to thank for that. I still remember going into her room one day way back in like, 2002 or something and finding her reading something on the computer. I was all, “What’s that?” and she was like, “It’s this story someone wrote about Snape being Harry’s real father, blah blah blah,” and the rest is history.

For the record, I’m not really a fan of those Snape father-figure stories, Severitus or whatever the hell they’re called, but I have to admit that I feel a sort of affection for them because one of them was my introduction into the fanfiction world. All of my first fics were horrible Harry Potter stories that would have made dear J.K. Rowling hurl into her handbag, and from there I ventured into hobbit-centric Lord of the Rings stories, back to Harry Potter, made a pit stop reading Pirates of Caribbean stories featuring my beloved James Norrington, and finally made my way to Twilight. And that is the boring and unnecessary history of Krum Cake’s fanfiction experience. Thanks to this interview, I’m pretty sure you now know more about the history of my writing in general than you ever cared to know ever.

But wait, there’s more! Random tidbit I just thought of! I think my first fanfiction was based off of the Baby-Sitters Little Sister series by Ann M. Martin, which was a spin-off of her Baby-Sitters Club series for a younger audience. I wrote a book—made a cover, copyright page, ISBN number and everything—that is probably the most embarrassing item currently buried in my bedroom, and that includes my diary from middle school detailing my varying crushes. Yes, I still own the book, titled “Karen’s Camp Trip.” Yes, I’m afraid to go anywhere near it. (Lie. I just whipped it out seconds ago to confirm its existence. Sadly, that is my name on the cover. There is no denying my creative ownership.)

7. What fics are you reading now? What's your favorite?

My current favorite is Waiting for the Sky to Fall by Kobe Grace. It’s a Leah-centric fic that takes place after the events of Breaking Dawn, and it’s not your typical “Leah sets off on her own to finally leave La Push and grow as a human being” story. Kobe’s story has got character. She really understands interpersonal relations, because Leah’s varying dyads—with her now-step-sister Bella, with her similar yet mythologically opposite sort-of-friend Rosalie, and even with her bud and Sudoku-whiz Emmett—are startlingly realistic. I really can’t praise this story enough. If you’re a fan of Leah and literacy and snappy dialogue, then you absolutely must check out this story.

Also, I definitely need to promote But Inside I’m Screaming by epicinsanity101. This may sound surprising, but it’s the astonishingly heartfelt and hilarious diary of Jessica Stanley. Yes, Jessica Stanley. It really gives depth to a character that, let’s face it, was pretty 2D in the books. Epicinsanity101 does not warp her character in order to garner sympathy for Jessica—she simply tells Jess’s story as honestly as she can, from her weight issues to her crazy mom to her frustrating love-hate (but mostly hate) for Mike Newton.

I have about a million more, and if anyone is looking to get into pack fics but doesn’t know where to start, I’m your woman! I’m more than happy to recommend the hell out of my favorite Quileute-centric fics.

8. What are the corresponding Bath and Body works scents for the Cullens? I must know this. In fact, can you do a chart?

I think the scents differ on who you ask, but I will happily give you Seth’s observations. And while each of the Cullens might seemingly smell almost bearable on their own, walking into their home is the equivalent of walking into Bath and Body Works store for Seth, and we all know that men’s noses are simply not equipped for that kind of olfactory overload.

Not that Seth would ever admit to anything being sensual about Bella, considering he’d like to keep his balls in tact for at least another few millennia, but there’s no denying the passion in that little girl, and sometimes he swears she’s still got a beating heart underneath all that cold skin of hers.
Sensual Amber
Dr. Cullen is not a complicated or fancy man. Sure, his hotness makes him worthy of being on “Grey’s Anatomy” or “General Hospital” or something, but he’s just this really nice dude trying to live his life as nicely as possible considering he’s an undead, bloodsucking creature. To Seth he smells clean, fresh, and happy, which is definitely an overwhelmingly puke-worthy combination.
Dancing Waters
Dancing Waters
If there’s a logical explanation for this, Seth doesn’t know it. He swears that Emmett sometimes slathers Sweet Pea lotion on his hands to fuck with Seth’s nose even more. The double-attack is enough to render him near unconscious.
Sweet Pea
Seth is pretty sure that Mrs. Cullen’s goal in life is to smother him with her boundless motherly love. She smells so sweetly comfortable and maternal that sometimes he starts thinking that he can smell the same wretchedly lovely scent on his own biological mom.
White Tea and Ginger
All I’m saying is that this is the only Bath and Body Works fragrance that Seth can stomach when Sue or Leah buys it to stink up the house with, because c’mon, we all know Seth has a major man-crush on Edward.
Warm Vanilla Sugar
Thankfully, since she’s only half-vampire, taking in Nessie’s scent is only half like choking to death on an industrial-sized tub of lotion while being intravenously injected with body spray. To Seth, she smells cute, fresh, and young—in excess, of course.
Pink Grapefruit
My personal favorite, which is neither here nor there. Seth sees Rose as someone who is terrifyingly gorgeous, strong, and just not someone to be messed with, which is exactly why he adores her. She smells like feminine strength.
Moonlight Path
Sometimes Seth forgets that Alice doesn’t smell overwhelmingly sweet and energetic like Nessie does. But whenever he sees how serious she can be, how unconditionally she loves her family and Jasper, how much scrap lies beneath her tiny frame, it doesn’t surprise him that she attacks his lungs with summer and radiance and tiny little scarlet fruits.
Sun-Ripened Raspberry
Seth likes to claim that he once got high from snorting cinnamon, and the resulting dizziness is not unlike the confusion he feels around Jasper, because he’s always afraid that Jazz is using his powers to fuck around with his emotions. But there’s also something rich, deep, and mysterious about cinnamon and pumpkin, and if Seth’s wasn’t so monogamous about his man-crushes, we all know he’d totally have the straight-hots for angsty and tortured Jasper.
Sweet Cinnamon Pumpkin

9. Have you seen the recent New Moon trailor/pack picsdoes it even remotely resemble your mental picture of the shape shifter transformation? And just who do you think would make a good Seth for Eclipse?

Okay, excuse me for a moment for buying into the movies’ ideology that the males of Twilight are just slabs of delicious, delicious man-meat, but OH MY GOD, Jacob was looking FINE in the trailer! I mean, I was smack in the middle of giggling over Laurent’s claim that Bella was mouthwatering when I found myself quite suddenly recoiling away from my computer in complete and utter shock over the appearance of a very shirtless Jacob. Man, I’m fanning myself just thinking about it. Give me a sec’ while I re-watch the trailer to hone in on my opinion of the transformation and ogle at Jacob some more like the shallow, shallow hypocrite I am.

The transformation looks pretty good to me. There were even bits of Jacob’s clothes drifting to the ground like confetti after the fursplosion, which makes up for the fact that the epic leap into the air and surround-sound growling were just a tad dramatic. But hey, it’s the movies.

As for Seth, I have no earthly clue who I’d like to see play him. If there was such an actor who had the endearing bumblingness of Michael Cera, the lanky-yet-strong physique of Joseph Gordon-Levitt, and the appropriate Native American ancestry, he would be born to play my imagined version of Seth. But I have faith in the casting director, because he/she’s done a pretty good job so far, if you ask me.

10. Why Krum Cake for your pen name? Is this a Harry Potter ref...?

You know it! By now, my love for minor, misunderstood characters is starting to become rather apparent, and one of my first obsessions was with Viktor Krum from the Harry Potter series. He’s a big, flat-footed, crooked-nosed, silent, moody Bulgarian. C’mon folks, what’s not to love? I got my penname from something one of my friends yelled out in the movie theater when the Durmstrang boys manly-manned their way into Hogwarts: “Cut me a slice of that Krum cake!” Please and thank you.

11. Also, if you have anything you want to rant about, let me know. I LOVE rants.

I love to rant. I can rant for days on end. And of course, now that someone has actually asked for me to rant about something, I can’t think of a single thing I’d like to whine and complain about, which would shock my mother to death, I’m sure. Although I do sort of wish the chimpanzees in my game of Zoo Tycoon would stop breeding like rabbits. I mean, seriously. It’s getting ridiculous. It’s gotten to the point where the other chimps get those green happy faces over their heads when I play Russian Roulette with the poor things and start selling them off randomly, and that’s just cold. Still, I prefer the chimps to my lowland gorillas—those guys are total douches.

Author Interview: Locqua

1. What made you decide to write Twilight fanfiction?

This is kind of a weird/funny story, because I completely stumbled into the world of FF unintentionally. For the record, I had no idea what it was when I started writing my stories - seriously!

After reading the books and falling in love with everything Twilight, I became absolutely obsessed - like crazy-obsessed. From the moment I started the first book, I could not get Edward out of my head, and even after finishing BD, I didn't feel any sense of closure, or that I was ready to let go of the characters. I simply couldn't get enough, and felt this indescribable urge for more.

One of my fellow Twi-hard friends told me to check out SM's website, where I quickly read through all of the "extras and out-takes", as well as the partial draft of Midnight Sun....multiple times. This helped feed my craving, but didn't end the obsession. In fact, it was a combination of SM's POV changes and "missing moments" that spurred the idea in my mind that if there was nothing more to read, I could simply write my own to entertain myself, even though I felt like a total dork at the time for doing it. The first thing I wrote was "Rose's Wish", because I had a soft-spot for misunderstood Rosalie, and I wanted to try and see if I could walk a mile in her shoes. That, along with a fast-forming love affair with Midnight Sun, led to "The Day I Lost Edward", followed by a couple of other short pieces that have never seen the light of day.

Then while browsing through SM's page a month or two later, I found a link to the "Twilight Fanfiction and Art" website (which features only in-canon, T-rated or under FF), and discovered that I wasn't the only obsessed fan writing my own accompaniments to the series - I had no idea so many people were doing it, and I was pleasantly surprised to find that a lot of it was really good. Finally, a way to feed my cravings for everything Edward! After discovering, I decided to take the plunge and post some of the one-shots I had written just for fun. As I got more involved with the fandom world, certain stories/writing challenges spurred new ideas, which led to the creation of all of my other posted stories, including Music Lessons.

2. It is obvious you put in a lot of thought to your musical selection in "Music Lessons", what made you choose the pieces you did?

Probably one of the biggest draws to the Twilight series (for me personally), is my love for Edward, and subsequently the feeling that he and I have a lot in common (love of music/pianists, obsession with cars and speed, pessimistic-romantic tendencies, etc). Stemming from that, I thought I could really get into his head when it came to music - particularly classical piano music. The first question I asked myself was "what kind of pieces would Edward prefer to perform?" In my opinion, pieces from the Baroque & Classical eras seemed too stuffy and unemotional for Edward - he was definitely the type who would gravitate towards the music of the Romantic and Contemporary eras, much like myself. So that's where I started.

My favorite piece to perform on the piano is Aufschwung (Soaring) from the Fantasiestucke Suite by Robert Schumann, because it perfectly conveys the extremes of my emotions and demonstrates musically how quickly I can go from feeling absolutely on top of the world to hating life in the blink of an eye. When thinking about Edward's inner turmoil, the dynamic expressiveness of the piece seemed to to fit him too, and as I started researching the song and Schumann's motivations for writing it, I realized how ironically well the piece melded with Edward - it was almost as if it was written just for him.

Thus Music Lessons was born, though it started as just an exercise of attempting to expound upon the Edward we read about in Midnight Sun, and to see if I could write his POV in the same style as SM. How would it feel to be an angsty vampire, performing such a piece for his true love, and how would he describe his emotional state to the reader when he lost himself to the rapture of the music?

After finishing the first chapter, the piano pieces came to me effortlessly as the story unfolded and grew. I stuck to using pieces I had performed, because for me, I had to really know the compositions inside-out in order to accurately describe them from Edward's POV. Upon finishing the third chapter and immersing myself in the Schumann Piano Concerto, I realized Bella's education really needed to expand to a more broader definition of music appreciation, and not just stick to compositions written for the solo piano. So I dug up my old orchestra programs and concert tapes to build the playlist for their trip to San Francisco. I had so many fond memories of performing various concertos, symphonies, and other works over the years that I simply transposed those experiences into Edward's head. In fact, Music Lessons was supposed to end at Chapter 3 with the "piano" lessons. Then with Chapter 14 at the finale of their trip to San Francisco. Then at Chapter 17, once the "out-takes" were finished. But I had so many songs that I was dying to use, that the story kept growing, and eventually I found myself writing a second "trip" for E&B just to fit all of the music into it.

The pieces listed in each chapter were chosen in two ways. First, I tried to match the mood of the piece to Edward's emotional state. The more lighthearted pieces were used when he was feeling particularly jubilant; the somber pieces were used when he found himself melancholic or doubting his control. Also, the vast majority of the music used in the story was introduced to me during my volatile and impressionable teenage years, therefore the pieces bring back a certain set of intense, and sometimes raw emotions that synced up with Edward's quite nicely, including first-love, fear of the unknown as you grow into an adult, etc. Second, I wanted each piece to act as a soundtrack for it's respective chapter. I absolutely loved how SM had "playlists" for her books, and I wanted to borrow that idea and incorporate it into my story. Although the timing doesn't always line up, the story is meant to be read while listening to the music referenced in each chapter.

Lastly, much like SM has described in how she writes, I tend to visualize stories as "movies" in my head. As I was writing, I needed a soundtrack playing in the background in order for me to really get into the mood of the story and to feel what Edward was feeling as his relationship developed with Bella. For me, the classical music was the catalyst that brought the movie out of my head and onto the page.

3. Are you an experienced musician of sorts yourself?

I guess you could say I am - or was (I haven't played proficiently in over ten years). I started taking piano lessons when I was seven and continued for 13 years. I competed in the yearly MMTA State Performance Contest eleven times, competing at all levels up through Senior Young Artist, and performed in the State Honors Concert at Northrup Auditorium at the University of Minnesota twice. I spent the better part of my childhood and teenage years competing, performing in dozens of recitals, taking theory and comprehensive exams, attending various music camps and workshops, and even composing a little.

My biggest accomplishment on the piano was performing piano concertos. I competed twice in the St. Cloud Symphony Piano Concerto competition, and I was blessed with the opportunity to perform the Schumann Piano Concerto with my H.S. Orchestra during my senior year. I also got to perform "The Carnival of the Animals" by Saint-Seans with the orchestra my sophomore year. For a pianist, performing with a full orchestra is quite an experience!

The piano isn't my only muse; I am also a cellist. I started playing cello when I was ten, and took lessons for nine years. I was active in my school Symphony and Chamber Orchestra through my senior year, and was chosen for All-State twice. In addition to performing with my classmates at numerous orchestra concerts, I participated in several HS & community musicals as a member of the pit orchestra, performing either on cello or piano. I was also a member of the Quite Lite Opera Company pit orchestra for three years, performing Gilbert & Sullivan musicals every summer, and I performed at the Cherry Blossom Festival in Washington DC.

When I wasn't performing with the orchestra or in piano recitals, I was busy teaching piano to beginner students, playing keyboards occasionally with my HS Varsity Band, and singing in my HS Concert Choir, Chamber Choir, and Women's Ensemble. I continued to play piano and cello in college for a couple of years, but eventually switched my minor to Creative Writing. :) I guess everything happens for a reason....

4. This is technically a Canon piece, what made you opt to do a non-Canon alternative ending?

When I started writing FF, I made the decision to only do in-canon stories because they were what appealed to me. The only liberty I allowed myself was marginally pushing the "T" rating of the original books, because as much as I loved SM's "less is more" writing style, I thought she left out a lot of good stuff, particularly between the engagement and the wedding. Therefore, Music Lessons was designed to be a missing moment between Eclipse and Breaking Dawn - when all of the vague "practicing" was taking place prior to the wedding. Also, this was one of those rare periods in E&B's relationship when there was no extraneous "drama" - it was one of the few truly happy times for the couple when they could focus all of their attention on one another. Sadly, a lot of these types of scenarios were either missing from the books, or way too brief.

I tried to write the story and the intimacy between E&B in a way where those readers who wanted them to go further physically could interpret certain scenes in that way, even though I envisioned them to be relatively innocent. As a reader, I personally enjoy stories that leave the more intimate scenes vague, because it gives you the freedom to imagine whatever you wish, and this was my way of hopefully appealing to a broader audience.

However, as the story and the sexual tension grew, I had a lot of readers begging me to break canon and let E&B "go all the way". Although I knew I'd never morph the story from in-canon to AU, I also couldn't ignore the requests, because honestly, I had been gunning for E&B to give in as well by the time they left Port Angeles on the ketch (more times than you can imagine!). Midnight Sun had shown that Edward's internal dialogue and thoughts weren't quite as chaste as he led Bella to believe, so it made perfect sense to me that he was as horny as Bella - he just hid it extremely well in the published books. So really, all of the ingredients were there...and oh, how easy it would be to let them off the hook and do what they wanted to do so badly....

But, one of my secret reasons for sticking to in-canon stories is that I'm absolutely terrified of writing lemons - even tasteful, non-explicit ones. I mean, come on - after reading some M-rated FF, I knew I'd pale in comparison, plus it seemed like everyone wrote them, therefore there wasn't much room for creating something unique and different - it had all been done before. So I had to work through some substantial fears (plus, this little voice in my head kept screaming "what if your Dad, or brother, or boss reads this?"), but eventually I caved and took a stab at it. I still like to think of the story as being in-canon....just with an extra little chapter for those AU fans.

5. Have you written in any other fandoms?

No, I have not. As I mentioned before, I didn't even realize there was such a thing as Fan Fiction until last fall. I can't really see myself writing for any other fandoms unless something better than Twilight and Edward come along. I'm not holding my breath!

6. Do you have any original writing?

Yes I do. In college as a Creative Writing minor, I wrote a lot of different things, including a short play, children's book, short stories, and lots and lots of poetry. I also did some work with scripts (I was a TV/Radio Production major) and wrote quite a few articles for print media.

Once out of college, I stopped writing on a regular basis except for my personal journals, and it wasn't until Twilight entered my life that I got back on the old writing-horse again. I was a little rusty at first, but in the past nine months I've realized how much I missed this form of creative expression, and have no plans to quit anytime soon.

When writing last fall, I actually started a novel about a young woman who completely walks away from her life after her love tragically dies, and attempts to reinvent herself. My original plan was to use my FF stories as "practice" to get back into a writing mindset, then dedicate my time to working on the novel. But writing FF is highly addicting (at least, for me it is) and I found myself spending less and less time working on my story and more and more time writing FF. I haven't touched the novel for about six months now, and I'm actually a little scared to go back and look at it because I'd probably either trash it completely, or hack it to pieces and start re-editing versus continuing on.

I have also toyed with the idea of morphing it into a Twilight AH story, but I'm not completely comfortable doing that because I'd have to change a lot of details I love, and I'm not sure how I'd fare in the AH realm. But you never know - it might see the light of day in one form or another....someday.

7. Do you prefer to read or write Canon or AU in this fandom?

At this time, I prefer to write in-canon. I'd consider doing an AU story, but I have so much respect for SM's characters and storyline, that I wouldn't drastically change the known canon. I find stories that take one tiny little detail and change it are much more intriguing than the ones that skew the canon out into left-field.

As for reading, I started off reading all in-canon, and a little AU (but all under a "T" rating). I used to tell myself I wasn't interested in anything that wasn't in-canon, because of my love for the books and because I wasn't interested in reading gratuitous erotica that runs rampant in a lot of the AH stories. But through recommendations (and honestly, because there's only so much in-canon stuff out there, and hey, I was curious), I slowly dipped my toes into some AH stories, and found that there are some really good ones. My all-time favorite AH story is still "Wide Awake." AG - please finish it! :)

8. If there is any one composition you could choose for the readers to listen to, what would it be?

Just one? Oh man, this is hard....

In fact, after sitting here forever trying to decide which one is my all-time favorite, I just can't do it. So I'm going to take a little liberty with the question. I would highly recommend all six of the below - they are my all-time favorites, in no particular order:

Solo piano piece: Chopin's Nocturne in D-flat Major
Concerto (all movements): Rachmaninoff's Piano Concerto #2 in C Minor
Overture: Bernstein's "Overturn to Candide"
Symphony: Sibelius's "Symphony #2 in D Major"- Allegretto
Suite: Stravinsky's "Firebird Suite" - 1919 version
Ballet: Tchaikovsky's "Swan Lake" - Moderato

Sunday, July 26, 2009

The Comic-Con Fan Fiction Panel

The Comic Con fanfiction panel
that featured our fantastic
Co-Administrator Angstgoddess003
as well as tlydf contributors Angel,
Bethaboo, Manyafandom, Psymom,
Ninapolitan and Americnxidiot,
took place yesterday in San Diego.
You can read about their journey
to get there here.
Cullenboysanon put the video up
on youtube so we are able to share
with you the panel in it's entirety.
Great job ladies!

GuestFicRec: Finding the One of Worth


I was thrilled and nervous when I got the opportunity to recommend a story here on TLYDF. I immediately pulled up my list of fics and started scrolling through them, looking for a worthy AH story, since I seem to be drawn to them. I like all genres but I find the relatable AH stories very interesting and fun to read. One of my favorites popped out at me because the review count was lower than I expected. When I read a story so extraordinary I automatically assume that everyone else is reading it as well. I can assure you, this is one you should be reading.

A Person of Worth has a great deal of mystery to it. Tnuccio keeps your attention by revealing bits and pieces as the story progresses. It starts with a grieving Bella trying to get through the anniversary of a tragic event, yet you don’t know what it is, only that this event has changed her life entirely. This particular night Bella wanders into a bar on her way home from work, in hopes to lose herself from her pain. Only to be captivated by the man baring his soul on stage through his music. She generally keeps to herself and has very people that she lets in, one of which is Jasper Whitlock. I absolutely adore this Jasper and the relationship that tnuccio has created between them, along with Alice who is Jaspers girlfriend. They are always there for her, encouraging, yet never pushing too far to break out of the cage she has created around herself.

Switching to Edwards point of view, we find another tortured soul full of mystery. Yet he lives his life as an accomplished and very compassionate doctor and loses himself in playing music on his nights off. He’s very close with his family but he hasn’t found true happiness and worries that he never will.

This story also introduced me to my favorite original character I have come across. I usually have a hard time with original characters in fanfiction, but not in this instance. Hope is a young teenage girl who is under the care of Edward, who basically lives at the hospital and regularly checks on her even on his days off. They have a truly unique relationship. Even though she is the sick one and he is the caregiver, she helps him in ways that no one could. Seeing life through her eyes has a very strong affect on this storyline.

A few chance encounters bring Bella and Edward together, along with the whole crew. Slowly Bella begins to open up as Edward gently rattles that cage she is in, and he finds a greater meaning to his life. Showing her new things, introducing her to music, eating pie, it’s the small things that he does to pull her out of her comfort zone.

I love tnuccio’s writing style and her ability to make you care for the characters. It’s like you can see the happiness they both deserve on the horizon and you can’t wait for them to find it. Each chapter is fulfilling and keeps you wanting more. I’ve really enjoyed following this story from the beginning and I am so excited to see where it goes. Take an afternoon or an evening alone to enjoy this amazing story. It will bring a smile to your face.
Anniej13 is the reader we all wish we had. She is no noob to the fandom and has read all the greats. It is when you get a review for her that you can count yourself one of the lucky ones.

Saturday, July 25, 2009

A Malevolent, Negligent, and Extraordinary Interview with Oxymoronic8

Pastiche Pen Pulls Out Her Notebook to Interview Oxymoronic8, author of Innocent, Vigilant, Ordinary

So, Pastiche Pen decided she really, really liked doing interviews and demanded to do some outside of the recced fics, and Smellyia said "yes," thus unleashing her and allowing her to reek utter havoc and question-mark chaos on the fandom. Oxymoronic8 was her first victim... (Heh-heh-heh.)

Okay, first things first. (And yes, I feel very Rita Skeeter doing this questioning) How did you choose your name? And do you think there's anything oxymoronic about the number eight?

The Oxymoronic part came from me never being able to pigeonhole myself into a single description. I’ve been “Oxymoronic81” in various capacities online since early high school. I was born in the 1981, and I didn’t want the fandom to know how old I was, since I stupidly thought most writers would be in their teens and didn’t want to reveal my age. Hence, the change to Oxymoronic8.

So, yeah… There’s nothing oxymoronic about the number eight.

On Innocent Vigilant Ordinary… You write a Bella who wants to go to a top tier college—and yet, what I found really interesting is that it was Edward that originally pushed her to apply. Later on, Bella makes the goal of going to college her own idea, but this plot line left me curious, was this partially a reaction to Breaking Dawn for you? And do you wish canon Bella had been stronger?

I finished my outline for IVO and started posting before Breaking Dawn came out, so that book isn't a factor in anything that happens in my story. However, it was pretty clear in Eclipse that Bella's interests were all Edward-centric and that college wasn't a priority for her. That left me scratching my head and ended up impacting how I wrote her in IVO. While I don't think college is for everyone or that a college degree makes one person stronger than someone who doesn't have one, the way Bella was written in Twilight made me see her as someone who would have really thrived in a college environment. She was smart, loved to read, and enjoyed doing her schoolwork. I pictured college helping her grow out of her insecurities and furthering her passion for literature. But then Edward came along, and Bella never objectively considered that she could have both—a life with Edward and a college experience (as a human). In the end, for me it wasn't so much of a question of Bella being "stronger"; I just wished she'd been a bit more mature in some of her decisions.

Okay, so on the (second-to-last) last posting of IVO, you wrote the following:

So was this a WTF for you (or just a AFT (about f-ing time))? I have two basic factions of readers: those who think Edward is an ass who needs to suffer and those who think Bella is too self-righteous and needs to get over herself. I can't please you all. I have no idea how either group is going to feel about this chapter. Some will be pissed, I know, but believe me, I'm not shoving Bella's trust and forgiveness issues down the drain. To some of you the kiss is too soon, but Bella is in such an emotional state right now that she wanted to feel something other than the pain of what Jake did to her. There are, of course, so many obstacles both she and Edward need to overcome, which they will over the next chapters. I'm just going about addressing them in a different way than some of you expected.

So, my question is how much do the factions affect you when you write? (And do you ever wanna flip anyone the bird?) I’ve noticed that everyone seems to think you’re going to do whatever they as individuals want, which is clearly not the case. Was this post basically a reminder to keep the book open and prep everyone?

Oh Jesus. Reading my own A/Ns is like listening to a drunken voicemail message the morning after. I always write them seconds before I post, when I'm at my most neurotic, not thinking straight, and basically incoherent.

Anyway, I love them to pieces, but my readers have no affect whatsoever on the overall plot arc of my story. I’m notoriously stubborn and refuse to change IVO to please people who want it to be something it’s not (i.e., fluffier, smuttier, faster-paced, less angsty, etc.). I have had a detailed outline from the beginning, and I rarely stray from it, though sometimes I elaborate on certain things if readers seem to be confused. Either people like the story or they hate it, but I won’t change the heart of what the story is just to make everyone happy. Even if I did want to appease readers, they don’t agree with each other anyway as to where the story should go, so someone would always be pissed off.

That A/N was basically my way of bracing everyone for what’s to come. A story ends once conflict ends (or at least it should), and just because two characters work out some issues doesn’t mean everything gets fixed overnight. Edward and Bella finally kissed in the story, and I didn’t want people to interpret it as meaning I was bailing on all the issues they still have to resolve.

As for wanting to flip anyone the bird, usually I just shrug off the nastiness, since I asked for it in the first place by posting my work online. Plus, I find any annoyance or bitterness is easily solved by a few well-mixed gin and tonics.

A girl after my own heart...

Tanqueray, Schweppes, and fanfiction belong together. There's no denying it.

Feeding into this, what are your biggest fears when writing?

Uh, sucking on an epic scale?

Seriously, my crazy A/Ns make it quite obvious I freak out about a lot of things—word choice, metaphors that make sense only to me, unrealistic dialogue, painful pacing. The list goes on and on. I have zero experience writing a love story or a piece of fiction over 30 pages. With IVO, I feel like I still have the training wheels on; it’s a huge learning experience for me.

Hmm... Is this the reason you write angst so well? ;-)

Surprisingly enough, I'm a pretty nonangsty person in real life, outside of obsessing about my writing. Actually, I think I'm into angst because real life is pretty hum drum and drama-free for me. Writing intense conflict gets me all worked up (in the best possible way), so I run with it.

You read M fics, obviously, but you write a T story. So, why did you choose to write a “T” fic in an “M” fandom? Did you ever consider changing the rating?

Initially, I figured if IVO ever had any sex, it wouldn’t happen until the final chapters, and I didn’t want people reading the story thinking “Where the hell is the sexin’?” A T-rating tells them from the get-go this story isn’t about sex. Case in point: I ended up having to rate IVO NC-17 on Twilighted because of their rules regarding underage drinking. Now, I get a couple of reviews a month complaining the reviewer picked up the story for smut based on its rating and was disappointed by the lack of heated cores and hardened lengths and whatnot. One even told me the story was unrealistic because I never included any scenes with Bella and Jacob fooling around beyond just kissing.

That said, sometimes, sex is imperative to the plot, and several of the stories I read do this effectively (The Office, Consecuencias, and Art After 5 come to mind). While I do think sex could fit into IVO, ultimately I gave up on the idea because some readers chose the story because it doesn’t contain graphic sex scenes, and I don’t want them to have wasted all this time following the story only to be misled.

Also, I’m kind of sick of the bum rap T-rated fics get. I don’t think you need to have sex in a story for it to be worthwhile or realistic or even “mature.” We’re all here in this fandom because we read Twilight and loved it, and it, of course, has no sex. T-rated fics aren’t just for kids, so I guess I’m trying to show that you can write for grownups and not necessarily have to play the smut card or include a slew of expletives in every chapter. I can make this story work with or without sex and an excess of foul language, so I’m sticking by my T-rating for IVO, though I look forward to doing something different with future stories.

Heh. Does "something different" include sex?

Indeed, it does. I'm looking to branch out, as I've never written a sex scene before. I have a M-rated novella in the works, and it's focused on one sexual experience between a human Edward and Bella. Also, limona and I have a collaboration piece planned that will probably be a little smutty, but the jury's still out on how crazy we'll get with the sex.

Now, onto the topic of your forum thread for IVO—there are like introductions made every time a new person comes on, the posts are just epic long, and those girls engage in what might be close to literary criticism. First, does this scare you ever? (I’m scared on your behalf, honestly.) And how the heck did the thread evolve into having "Oxyminions?"

My thread comments initially made me nervous because I never thought of IVO as a “smart person’s” story and wasn’t prepared for it to be scrutinized so closely. Now, though, I embrace it. I love that they dig into the details and look at the subtle layers of my characterization and plot. When I write a new chapter, it takes me a lot longer than it used to because I don’t want to let them down; I want IVO to stand up to that kind of intense examination. Basically, the people on the thread make me a better writer because they won’t let me get lazy and rush or gloss over certain details or character development. Their discussions also help me hone in on things I need to make clearer or plot holes I need to fix. I can’t thank them enough for forcing me to raise my game. That’s probably why the “Oxyminions” thing seems so strange to me (and just to clarify, that name was NOT my idea). I find it funny that they claim to be my minions, because truthfully it's the other way around: they totally own me.

Anyway, the thread isn’t always so intense. We spent, like, six pages debating whether Nutella was disgusting and another five or so posting the nastiest kisses in pop culture history (I think the Lisa Marie-Michael Jackson make-out session at the 1994 VMA’s won, by the way). So it’s not like everyone’s a bunch of uppity brainiacs comparing fanfic to Voltaire. It’s a good mix between friendly debates and goofing off.

Until more recently, you didn’t have a favorites list, and from forum posts etcetera, you’ve admitted to not being a super reviewer, so first, why so shy? Second, what fics are you reading that you’d like to give a shout out to?

I always joke that I’m the fandom recluse, but I think it’s more that I’m lazy than shy. I admit I belong in the seventh circle of fandom hell for my lackluster reviewing. There’s really not a reason for it, other than I read most fic on my Blackberry and I hate typing on the damn thing, so once I get my giant fingers to a normal-sized keyboard, I usually forget what I wanted to say about a story. It’s probably a blessing in disguise for a lot of authors, though, as I can be kind of blunt. But I do and try to make the effort when something really blows me away.

As for the favorites thing, I've had a favorites list on for a couple of months now, although at first, I didn't because I only wanted to add fics once they were complete. But I got sick of waiting, so I took the plunge and updated my profile along with adding a couple of my favorite stories.

Right now, I’m reading a lot of stuff, but I’m especially ga-ga over:

1. La canzone della Bella Cigna by philadelphic, an amazingly well-written story where Bella’s a soprano and Edward is her pianist. It has some twists in it, and the author clearly knows her shit about voice training.

2. Disciplined Breakdown by ahealthyaddiction is UST gold, and the writing’s pretty kickass. Edward and Bella work together but don’t speak, and Bella’s putting on this tough-as-nails façade to impress her hardass boss—who also happens to be her father. Plus, its last chapter had a reference to Edward’s bare forearms, which to me is better than hardcore smut.

3. Answering Bell by ilsuocantante is the only Bella-with-a-kid fic I’ve ever read that I love. The budding relationship between Bella and Edward is poignant and sweet, as is the way they change each other’s lives for the better.

4. I also have an unhealthy obsession with Hydraulic Level 5, but who doesn't?

You’re a lawyer. You have to write a lot of boring crap. Do you ever find that any aspects of your legal writing seep into IVO, or is Fan Fic the big escape?

Yes, it is excruciatingly boring. It sucks the creative energy right out of me, so last summer, I took the plunge and started writing fanfic to keep my creativity alive. I was a creative writing minor in undergrad and aside from the weight I wrote down on my driver’s license renewal form, I hadn’t written a drop of fiction in five years. Weirdly enough, though, I approach IVO the same way I do a brief or a legal memo: I build on logic, usually, and try to lay a foundation for what’s to come in the story the same way I would start an argument in the legal world.

Finally, any tips for newbies in the fandom, trying to get their stuff out there?

Don't give up. If no one’s reading at first, don’t pull your story or stop updating out of frustration. It takes time for new authors to build an audience. I mean, IVO got at most 20 reviews per chapter for the first 20-something chapters, but I was having too much fun to quit. If writing is something you love, write for yourself and try not to obsess over review count or number of hits.

Thank you, Oxy. :o)

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