Wednesday, October 28, 2009

Affiliates: 1st Time Writers Challenge Now Til Friday!!!

Deadlines Extended for
The Indies First-Time Writer Challenge!

FYI - FF requires authors to wait for 2 days from profile creation to first story posting - so we extended the deadline to friday night. See our home page.

Genre Series: The Lore of Gore

It's getting dark earlier. The temperature is dropping. Cool autumn winds blow crispy dry leaves in scratching cadence down the streets while dead tree branches tap-tap-tap against an upstairs window. Light a fire and snuggle up. Roast some marshmallows and let's tell spooky stories.

There is a reason that Halloween is a multi-billion dollar industry. People like to be scared. Scientists have many theories about this. Some believe that people like to be scared because we have an innate need to explore and master frightening situations. Some believe that it's hormonal... we like the adrenaline rush we feel while being scared (when we are actually excited more than afraid,) or that we suffer through the fear portion of an activity simply because we love the euphoric sense of relief when we get to the end.

My opinion? Concentrating too long on the scientific reasoning just sucks the fun right out of it. And this is supposed to be fun. Right?

While playing around one night in gchat, JeesieChreesie pointed
something out to me. There isn't enough horror in Twilight fan fiction. I have to admit, I didn't even think to look before then. But when I did, I found out... she was right.

In Twilight Fan Fiction, poor grammar and borderline (balls-out) porno-sex scenes are the predominant sources of horror. Scary stuff... I promise you. *shivers* I maintain Edward what-what'ing in the butt is far more terrifying than anything Stephen King wrote...

Vampires and werewolves? Should be GREAT material for horror stories. But the characters we have learned to know and love in the Twilight universe are probably less scary than my Aunt Claudia's mustache (Seriously, ask a Buffy fan if the Cullen's are real vampires...) And not many people venture into taking them a darker direction. I'm not talking about "darkward" stories. Giving Edward a few tattoos, a filthy mouth, and a love of all things anal isn't fulfilling the need for good old suspense, blood and gore. (Repeat after me, spanking, the word "fuck," and mental illness does not make a character dark it makes them kinky, troubled, or a just a dude in general. Killing, maiming, and torturing makes you dark with a lemon peel twist of psychopathic.)

We took a chance and decided to comb down the pompadours, get rid of the sparkles, and get down to the nitty-gritty of the monsters that could have been. Then we decided to sit back, and encourage some of you to do the same. Abandon all hope all ye who enter, for here there be wild things...

I have decided to put my responses in the closest color I can find to pink. Therefore Katie = this strange boysenberry color.

Yeah... and I'm (Kat) gonna rock out my two pennies in green.

When we decided to tackle this article, we both agreed that maybe we should actually do a little research about writing horror stories. Imagine our shock and surprise when we found dozens of “how to” lists on the subject! We took the time to pull out some of the suggestions that were repeated time and time again to make a new list here. As were our constant remarks of, "I didn't know I was supposed to do that..." So while we perhaps should have perused these articles in advance of writing our own stories, we can at least do the work for you. Or we can just open ourselves up for mocking as we recount how horribly we failed to follow directions...

1. Try to be original.

No, this is not an oxymoron in fanfic, or as obvious as it sounds. While Summit may try to market Twilight for dudes by throwing in some extra badassery in the form of fight scenes, in the end this is a mushy love story and the vampires are pansies. (She's using a nicer word than I typically do. But it starts with the same letter. So, yeah.) What this means is that you've got a huge opportunity to branch out of the Twilight mold and yet still have a gold mine to play with in canon. Because while Stephenie Meyer may not have received the memo, vampires are scary. For most people, that penetrating stare and neck-happy habit tend to be terrifying, and not so much dazzlingly sexy. Don't just take the books and twist a scene or two, or copy Stephen King's It and make Alice the satanic clown. (Admit it. You can see it. Nobody should be that perky all the time.) You're trying to write horror, so go to that place inside you, where all your deepest fears exist.... and Let. Them. Out.

I didn't really tap into any of my own personal fears... I tapped into my own twisted and sick sense of humor. Don't forget it can be FUN to be scared. That's why Halloween is such a popular holiday. It's why scary movies make tons of cash. Aforementioned scientific reasoning aside, I literally sat and laughed like a maniac while writing several pieces of my story. So whether you pull up inspiration from your inner-scaredy cat, or your inner-psycho... take a deep breath and challenge yourself to do something different.

2. Create strong, identifiable characters

So take the characters to a new level. Let Edward's anger issues and stalking habits be *gasp* bad. Maybe even...irredeemable. Let Rose's inner bitch be channeled into the psychopathic rage that she unleashed on Royce. Play with Emmett's shrugged off snacking of his own singer, and need I even delve into Jasper's potential? And Alice the penultimate mischievous meddler was in an insane asylum. The possibilities are endless, and that's just playing in AU. Though mess with Carlisle and Esme at your own risk, because making them evil is more foreign than Mr.Phoeny giving bad advice.

We are talking about fanfic here. Steph has given us great spring-board characters. Don't be afraid to jump! Take these kids on a spin. Horror is about the unexpected. Play with that. Don't be afraid to give the characters your own twist. But take the time to make it believable. Own it. If you wouldn't half-ass it while making Edward a romantic hero... give him the respect he deserves as a villian as well.

3. Study the classic horror novels. And read, read, read everything you can get your hands on.

Um... about that. We kinda hate horror books and movies. I'm a big old chicken shit when it comes to the extent I was positive the Scream killer was coming to eat me in sixth grade, and my sister and I attacked our Dad with frying pans when he unexpectedly came in the back door late one night... So we skipped this step, for the safety of our loved ones. But it's a good idea. Read some Edgar Allen Poe. He kind of defines this genre, and he's more spectacularly awesome than terrifying, and he does it all through his word choice, unpredictability, and symbolism. Say it with me now..syymmmmbbbboooollllissssmmmm, not symbology (If you don't get that, stop reading this, and go watch Boondock Saints. Actually consider that your homework, because the violence is spectacular and it will spawn your creativity.) It is a key element in the genre. The black as death raven, the blinking clocks in Final Destination, the big-boobed blond running upstairs in a teen horror movie... it all give the reader a hint at what's to come. Normally it's death, but hey, feel free to switch it up a bit.

I don't read horror books. And I usually try to avoid scary movies (unless there is some sort of humor element involved so that I can laugh about it.) Just HEARING the music from the Excorcist reminds me of all the freaking nightmares I've had about that film! But I guess that it's probably good advice to pass forward. If you want to write like Stephen King, read Stephen King. If you want to write like Dean Koontz... read Dean Koontz. Learn from the writers that you would like to emulate.

4. Try to pick a subject that scares you, personally.

Consider it cathartic and free therapy. You know the truth will set you free and all that balls. That's really a big lie, but the truth of the matter is that if you're not invested in it, you won't make it scary or have it effect people. Nearly every review I get for my story includes, "OMG GROSS," and I nod my head and think really freaking is nasty. Thusly I've written my worst fears; slit throats, fires, eyeballs, the heart organ in general...I'm completely disgusted by it in every way, and therefore the readers are too. It's also basic common sense. Write what you know. Well I'm not a doctor or a mortician, so I don't know much about death, but I know what haunts me and that's what I write. Except for spiders. That shit's nasty.

Yeah... I wrote a spider. A big, freaking, hairy one. Because I didn't sit back and consider the things I am personally afraid of. (Okay, spiders DO creep me out.) But I did chuckle and think about typical spooky-movie props. Dark road? Check. Broken down car? Check. Secluded cabin in the woods? You get the idea.

5. Think about horror ideas in the dark

Now this is actually one I've done... and be warned, your sleep habits will be destroyed in the process. The first month of writing Masque, I woke up every hour on the hour from an ongoing nightmare about the story...and I jotted it all down immediately and put it into the story. Horror plays on our basest nature. The characters in the stories only ever have two options, fight or flight, and sometimes either way they'll still die. This genre brings that out in us, that place in which no matter what happens we know our fate, we know there is no protector to rescue us, and that death is coming for us long before we expected. And that is why you have to think about it in the dark. Let yourself slip into the shadows of the night, where everything is distorted, and anything could be standing behind you, waiting to reach out and do god knows what to you. That's what scares us. The unknown. So let it wrap it's cold foreign tendrils around you and invade your mind. You will be amazed at what possibilities suddenly open up to you...if you survive the process....

Nope. I'm way too much of a wuss to ever follow this piece of advice. Moving on.)

6. Take care of the details

For all my abstract ramblings, horror is in the details. It's those little things that you see in your own life and suddenly make you think it could happen to you. It's what takes you out of being told what's happening, and you can feel it instead. In 'Toye" Bella wets herself in fear, and it doesn't just say, "oops I peed." No you feel the steaming urine trickling down her leg coalescing in her shoe and providing the first warmth she's felt in days. It shows the readers how terrified she is, how long she's been in that cage, and how horrifying the events unfolding must be. In The Emperors of Washington by gallantcorkscrews Edward the sociopathic killer smells like rotted milk and baby powder, and yet Bella leaves with him regardless. This shows us not only that is he so bad he's rotten, but also that clearly Bella is just as twisted because she doesn't mind.

However, there is another side of the details that's specific to horror. That's the gore, and it's a very delicate balance between just right and too much. The main goal, is to only use what's necessary. I stabbed a pen through someone's eye in my story. And that's disgusting. But just stating it doesn't accomplish much, so I added an analogy of the sound, and how it felt sliding in, and suddenly myself and anyone reading it were throwing up in our mouth because it became real. You don't need to account for every splatter of blood, but a few big details done quite specifically puts the reader inside it, makes them feel it, and twists their gut uncomfortably. It is horror after all...

Katie has got this one covered. Little known fact about me... I never think too much about what I'm writing. The stuff plays out in my head and I just type as fast as I can to get it out. And I try to explain what I "see" in a way that will help someone else to "see" it too. Look around the scene in your mind and paint the picture. Writing is creative. Use your imagination! If you want to explain how something tastes... imagine actually tasting it. Then... just write. And if you do it well, we'll be able to imagine the taste too.

7. Make sure your masterpiece has no spelling mistakes or other grammatical failings. (Gross-checker)

Once again this is fairly obvious, and I think we all know by now we need an editor. But, do you have a gross-checker? You know that person who reads your story and judges whether you need to be locked in an asylum for being a complete creeper or if it's just shy of that point, and therefore ok? Or who gives you the heads up on if it's a tummy clencher or if she really threw up reading it? Maybe they tell you're playing with something too taboo. Maybe if you've got a completely fabulous beta like I do, she'll tell you to up the ante. Point is, in this genre in particular, you need an extra set of eyes...after all you never know when the pen you're using might take out one of your own...

A beta or an "early reader" can also be counted upon if you want to find out reader reactions. If you are actually lucky enough to be able to watch someone reading your story... even better. To see their nose scrunch up, or their mouth pop open... to see them chuckle or even cry while reading? THAT lets you know if you are on the right page. If you aren't in the position to have someone read your work that way, make sure you have a beta you can trust who isn't going to blow smoke up your ass. False compliments and encouragement do more harm than good. Badfic? That's a whole different type of horror...


From scary movies to roller coasters... from bungee jumping to freaky fanfiction... people throughout history have enjoyed being scared as a form of entertainment. And many people like to be the ones to do the scaring! Whether you want to play with campy scary stories or titillate and terrify, there are plenty of monsters to play with in the books. So put in your favorite creepy mood-music and give it a shot. (I, personally, LOVE the soundtrack to Bram Stoker's Dracula![No seriously, it's all about the Dark Knight soundtrack. Slip on "Why So Serious" and tell me you don't feel like creating a little chaos..] ) Trust me. If two girls who don't even like horror stories can have fun doing it... you can too!

Wanna get your spook on? Try these very freaky, yet very different tales on for size. We haven't read all of these, (we told you we were chickens!) but we've only heard good things about know, especially the ones we write... (Please, direct your mocking to fandom_wank...)

The Masque of the Red Death by JeesieChreesie.

Her blood would be mine. As would she. Once she begged, pleaded, demanded, and wept for my bite. And she would. The only question was how many would die first." Vampire AU. Mature audiences only. NO sexual abuse.

Toye by Bratty_Vamp

Vampires like to play with their food. A campy and kitschy horror short-story that lets the men of the Cullen household be the monsters that Edward always claimed they were. Extremely OOC.

The Emperors of Washington by gallantcorkscrews

Edward is a killer. But it can't be explained away by his vampire nature. He's just a sociopathic, human teenager. CAN I MAKE A LOVE STORY OUT OF THIS? ExB.

The Dollhouse by Kambria Rain

We were all going to die. I used to be an optimistic person, but that went out the window as soon as the hot mountain man decided we were going to hunt the hunters. AH. Warning: So far, there are minor character deaths, and Edward's a little scary [complete!]

Short list eh? What? We told you we don’t read scary stories! But if you feel the urge… search for something else to get your pulse-hammering here:
Darkward’s Dungeon
or The Darkward Contest.

Happy Spooking or Maiming!


The Horror Hoars
Katie (JeesieChreesie) and Kat (Bratty_Vamp)

Brattyvamp is the prolific author of such Twilight fan fiction as Abbracciare il Cantante and her current work, My Escort. Besides the aforementioned horror fic, JessieChreesie is the great mind behind Atlas Shrugged.

Tuesday, October 27, 2009

Angel Interviews the Blue Lady

Author Interview with In.a.Blue.Bathrobe By Angel

I was super excited when P and AG offered me the opportunity to interview In.a.Blue.Bathrobe for the blog. I HEART Tropic of Virgo. I fan-girl her obsessively even if she isn’t fully aware (most of this is behind her back while AG rolls her eyes and sends me LOL cats and stuff that I don’t understand). But TOV really became the story I waited so eagerly for updates. I have literally read it at least three times. I have no idea why it captivates me so much but it does. And most of you know I loooove Edward. Well, TOV Edward is the fic of dreams and fantasies and endless g-chat discussions.

I popped Blue’s G-Chat cherry by inviting her to talk to me on the spot. She answered my questions, fan’s questions, talked tattoos and even played Kill-Fuck-Marry with me… I was in fangirl heaven.

. . .

Angel: Okay, so I'm going to start by telling you that I had heard of TOV and was a little skepticalof the poet/musician theme plot. I have no idea why, but I just am a skeptic. So my really good RL friend (FF name greenyellow) whom I turned onto FanFic and now gives me recs told me to read it, and I did, and I was just FLOORED at how much I loved it. So I think I read maybe the first 15-17 chapters or so all at once—which thank goodness, because I would have lost my shit if I had to wait for updates early on. But something about the plot and the characters and the writing just really made me happy.

Blue: Erg. well, thank you. I still get blushy and crap when people say nice things like that.

Angel: Awww, well, it's true... at least I think so and your legions of fans agree.

Blue: The poet musician thing is really overdone, and if I had realized how much, I probably wouldn't have done it.

Angel: Maybe—probably? I don’t read many of that type, so I don’t really know.

Blue: I actually had read only a few fics before I started the first chapter, and the first chap was really a one-shot.

Angel: Oh, that's even better. I’m sure, you weren't as… ummmm... influenced, maybe, by having not read as much?

Blue: I hopefully wouldn't have used so many of the gawdawful cliche's if I had... ew.

Angel: Hmmm, well, they didn't bother me. To me the clich├ęs are not about, well, the cliche, but how they're written. I have no idea if that makes sense?

Blue: How much had you read before doing CoH?

Angel: Fic? Wow, well, I've been in the fandom for over a year, and COH started in January, so I had been reading FF for about 6 months, but I didn't read many AUs at all.

Blue: AUs seem difficult to write!

Angel: It’s different. You have to think of "everything with the vamps," but I like it.

I have a question about something I have heard that you may have heard as a crit. (I have heard this about TOV.) People sometimes say that the "misunderstandings" between the characters are kind of annoying or whatever. Personally, I love these in this fic because they seem very, very realistic to teenagers. People seem to forget e/b are teens and that sometimes you wake up or sit next to that guy or girl in bio class and are just FREAKING OUT and not thinking clearly and really worried that you like them way more than they like you. Did you do this on purpose?

Blue: Yeah, in a way. After the initial chapter, I set out to really divide them into three separate levels-Logical thought (D_88 and O_G) Emotional thought, Bella and Edward. And then the sex and music thing, which was visceral.

Angel: Yes. I was surprised at how much I liked their text and email communications. Normally, this kind of thing annoys me a bit? But here it worked very, very well. Okay, let me ask questions from yer fangirlz.

Q: In ToV did the poetry have other inspirations then your B&E characters?

Blue: It ties very closely to whatever music I was listening to while writing, I'm sure, but not much more than that.

Angel: So, basically your poetry and by result your entire fic kind of was inspired by the music you listen to?

Blue: Yeah, but I have to admit that there was a little bit of Henry Miller and Anais Nin, too.

Q: How did you come up with the premise for ToV?

Blue: Well, Nina had this cocktease contest, and...

Angel: You know—I didn’t know this was a one-shot to start. I never would have known.

Blue: Yep. That's why the first chapter is so raw.

Angel: Ugh. Yeah—it’s good. So good. Well, it's solid too. Better than most first chapters (due, I guess, to being a full one shot).

Blue: You know how you can look at the story stats and see the hit count on the chapters?

Angel: Yes (<—obsessed with stat page).

Blue: Only ten to fifteen percent of the readers go on to chapter two.

Angel: From yours? Really?

Blue: Yep. Most people can't get past Jessica and the tequila.

Angel: OMG I LOVE THAT PART. Which is so weird for me, but I do— it stands out, and it was not a full lemon or anything but raw and just powerful.

Blue: Which is what I was going for, so thanks. I got four votes in the contest, and one of them was mine.

Angel: Aww, you know I did a contest once and came in really low. Meh.

Blue: It makes me giggle. I wrote Nina and asked if I could just continue the story since I sucked so bad.

Q: Anything in the story related to a personal experience of yours?

Blue: I've had an online crush or two. And erm, well, some of the lemons may have some basis in fact... A lot of it, actually. I'm not a musician, but my family is, and Esme and Carlisle are very much based on my crazy parents.

Angel: Well, speaking of sex—when I read the bathroom sex/angst I immediately cut and pasted and sent to Angstgoddess003 and made her read it because it was just
Delta of Mercury Playlist

Delta of Mercuryugh... so heart-fail yet hot, yet confusing, yet hot. THEN, like a week later, my husband was watching The Wrestler (the movie), and there is this just… nasty, skank bathroom sex scene and I was like ....."wow, yeah, SEEING bathroom sex and reading it are just two different things."

Blue: That's funny. Fats made this great avi with Rob behind K, just their faces... and we looked at it, and were like, THAT'S WHAT THEY SEE IN THE MIRROR!

Angel: Ha! Yeah. No thanks

Blue: And Fats goes, "Dammit. You made my avi weird."

Angel: Well, I mean, if it was rob and not Mickey Rourke, I may not have minded so much…

Blue: Mickey Rourke? Ew. He was hot in his day, but that is looong over.

Angel: For serious. Moving along from bathroom sex.

Q: Are you musical? Been in a band, etc? If not, you could have fooled me.

Blue: I used to sing a bit. Dad's an operatic conductor and a concert pianist... Stepdad plays guitar and collects music. All kinds.

Angel: I love how you use so many remakes. It’s unique. It fit the characters nicely.

Blue: It's weird to write about music if your readers don't know the pieces, but I wanted at least a little bit of something new. I don't know how to say what I mean. :(

Angel: No, that makes sense.

Blue: I wanted stuff to be familiar, but with a new twist if folks went looking. Like with Fever... I got a lot of messages that said, "Oh, I love Ray Charles!" Ray Charles is sooo not Edward.

Q: Could we get a complete list of all the songs/artists mentioned in TOV?

Blue: Yes, I keep meaning to put that on my bio, I just never can get my lazy ass around to doing it. I will. Soon. Promise.

Angel: Yes—well and if you want, you could make this a deadline??? js...

Blue: Yes, maam.

Angel: Ha! IF YOU WANT.

Q: Do you play any musical instruments? Who does she see as TOVward (bc she said Rob "sometimes")? Have any tattoos?

Blue: I used to sing a bit, but I kind of suck, and I can read music, but I don't play anymore. There is a tarnished flute from junior high band under my bed. I see Edward as Rob when he looks young and is smiling and messy, but its a concept thing. There could be a bit of Zac in there, but then I feel all weird and like pedocougarphile.

*I have 6 tattoos. 3 stars, one cat, and two, well, that's a whole nother story. I'm sort of writing that one at the moment... Might be part of the "mix it up."

Angel: Hmm, six tattoos... did this girl know this? TOVward doesn’t have one does he? I’ve read it three times I dont recall this…

Blue: Nope, not a ToV story.

Angel: <—has two tattoos (no judgments).

Blue: What are your inks? If I can ask?

Angel: Oh—I have one that is a sun type thing, I’ve had it for… gah 15 years and then I got one last year, a star like three stars "layered."

Blue: Nice! Mine are just little turquoise five-points, one on each ankle and one between my shoulder blades.

Angel: My star is kind of big not huge, but it’s on the middle of my upper back/lower neck. It may be bigger than I wanted but... not really.

Q: Poetry is woven so beautifully into Tropic of Virgo. Do you write poetry apart from fiction, and if so, do you find that the two different forms (poetry and prose) influence each other?

Blue: I'd never really written much of anything before I found fanfic six months ago; a few teenage poems and a self indulgent blog, but that's it. So I'm not sure how to answer
Tropic of Virgo Playlist

Tropic of Virgothat. Choosing words seems a lot like picking the right crayon out of the box: instinct and mood make you grab a certain color. Poetry is like an impressionist approach to drawing, or even abstract expressionist, while prose is more representational. Blech. I think in images, I suppose.

Q: I know the popularity of ToV came as a bit of a shock, but what, if anything, has it taught you about writing fanfic? What's been the best part of the experience? What, if anything, would you do differently going forward?

Blue: There's no accounting for taste?! Urm, I don't know really. I learned that angst is a powerful thing, and folks will retaliate if they feel hurt by your words. Next time, I'll give myself a little more time than 5.5 days on average between chapters; ToV was written at such a breakneck speed that I made mistakes.

I'm a resident artist at a theatre, and when you get good enough at your art, they make you an administrator over other artists, and you don't get to be artistic anymore. So fanfic has given me this incredible outlet in a medium that I'd never really played with before.

The best part? I've met a lot of fabulous women who are intelligent, creative, pervy and fun, who support and encourage each other to be even more so.

Q: Fave book? Fave album ever? Age she wrote 1st poem?

Blue: First poem? Prolly as soon as I could rhyme in baby talk.

Fav book? a dictionary? That's like asking which body part you love best. Oh, wait.

Angel: Ha! For real! You know what's funny? I bet no one in the fandom would say that Twilight is their favorite book, which is kind of odd but...

Blue: Where the Sidewalk Ends? Tolkien, this great writer John Burdett, who writes weird psycho mysteries set in Bankok, Patricia McKillip, Edgar Allen Poe, oodles more.

Angel: Fave album?

Blue: Abbey Road? Temple of the Dog? Little Earthquakes and Houses of the Holy.

How about you? Fave book?

Angel: Hmmmm…I do really like Harry Potter, my husband teaches 5th grade so we have always been into YA literature, but that’s not really my favorite. I love The Book Thief… its amazing.

Blue: Is that the Shakespeare stealer series? and I do love me some HP.

Angel: No, it’s umm Markus Zuzak. It’s YA although really you wouldn’t know it—I didn’t know when I read it.

Q: There's so much twific out there now. What kinds of stories draw you in?

Blue: Weird ones. I like immediately clever plots or strange twists on canon, or a nifty ambiance that draws you in right away.

(Digression on books, comics, ComicCon, geekiness and other nerdy behaviors…which per usual rounds back too…)

Blue: Is Rob your Edward?

Angel: No, not really, Rob looks like a totally hot 35 year old man to me half the time and he is completely a spaz and dresses badly (sigh, which i love) and is all scruffy and weird and that to me isn't Edward although at the same time he does have all these traits that are very Edward-ly.

Blue: (I'm giggling, because I think I understand that...)

Angel: Yeah, sorry. That’s kind of how I work with rob, but it’s funny… okay, Fun Angel Fact: I’m an artist, so I am very visual, but I do not ever really imagine what characters look like in books if I see the movie first or if it becomes iconic like HP or whatever I do kinda insert them.

Blue: Yes. Me too.

Angel: But when I read Twilight, I didn’t know who was playing the roles yet so when I found out it was Rob aka Cedric I was like," OOOOOO.o." and was excited. He fit perfectly for me because really Cedric is a little like Edward in a human way.

Blue: Yeah, I liked Cedric a little too much....

Q: I know you're a working mom. How do you fit your writing in? Where and when do you like to write?

Blue: I don't sleep much. I only have one kid, and her finally hitting high school helps. I like to write when everyone else is asleep. It's the only time I get to myself. Luckily, Mr. Blue and the kidling usually sleep 'til noon on weekends.

Q: My question is: what do you like in a review? What's helpful and what just makes you 100% happy?

Blue: Any question or comment that makes it clear they've read the story. Genuine interest is a real ego boost; I'll admit that. I get fussy when people ask if Bella is on birth control, or why don't they use condoms. It was enough of a plot element that I want to yell, didn't you read it?!

Angel: Good grief! Yeah, that was pretty clear. For TOV did you get many flames or hater reviews?

Blue: Yes. I got quite a few when he wakes up with Lauren...

Angel: Oh. I liked that part, but then I wasn’t reading it updated

Blue: And a whole lot of hate fot the ribbon mashed in the dirt. "fot?!"

Angel: Ha—whatever… What about on the forums and stuff any haterade there?

Blue: That was the point where a lot of people said too much miscommunication fuckery.

Angel: Well, I told you about this. I loved it. Let me also explain why. Mainly, because it was miscommunication, which is realistic, and IT WAS NOT YOUR PLO. Too many fics have a plot that is really just one long stupid miscommunication.

Okay, my question: out of anyone famous, who would you kill, fuck, marry?

Blue: Oh, hell, narrow it down for me!

Angel: Okay, The Beatles.

Blue: Kill Paul, Fuck George (a lot) and Marry John. You?

Angel: Hmm. Kill Ringo, Marry George, Fuck John

Next: Janis, Jimi or Jim?

Blue: Kill Janis, Fuck Jim and Marry Jimi.

Angel: I would... kill Jimi, fuck Jim, marry Janis.

Next: Vampires.

Blue: Girls or guys?

Angel: Either

Blue: Kill Bella, fuck Rose, and marry Alice.

SM's guys: Kill emmet fuck jasper marry edward.

ToV guys, fall on my own sword after watching them do each other.

Angel: I'm not doing twilight ones... I would kill Bella, fuck Angel and marry Edward. How about...? Well, I don’t know if you read these: WA fuckward, Teenage Angst Brigade Edward, or TOVward

Blue: Oh, that's hard!

Angel: I KNOW! (I’M SO SO SORRY, AG. PLEASE FORGIVE ME!) Kill WAward, fuck TTABward, and marry TOVward.

Blue: Kill Angstward, Fuck Tovward, marry Fuckward.

Angel: Hahhaaa ! We are so opposite! I just told AG—I said Fuckward has to die because he comes with too much baggage and can only get into community college (She is now not speaking to me—FYI, and I expect hate mail from her fangirlz.).

Oh yeah, one more!

Q: If you are going to write the sequel: Tropic of Gemini?

Blue: Aside with a Wolf is probably the start of that. But it's in the Jasper contest, so I can’t add on for a bit.

Angel: Oh, well then you need to start hoarding chapters (hint-hint-nudge, nudge)

Blue: Delta of Mercury is a side story, part of the the Twi25 thing. But, Gah, I'm still trying to come up with a plot!

Angel: Ha, well... I would really love to see you do a good job of writing them Alice/J and keeping e/b involved a little but not taking over.

Blue: That's the plan.

Angel is the Rob-sessed, Vampward writing, marathon-running author of Creature of Habit, and more recently Daedalus in Exile. She also makes nifty art stuff.

Monday, October 26, 2009

FandomFluff: At the Movies

At the Movies

Hoosier Mama

December 19, 2001: I’m standing in line at our favorite theater for the midnight showing of LOTR: The Fellowship of the Ring. People are smug, arrogant…rude even. I wonder how many of these people have read Tolkien. Probably most of them since the air is thick with pretentiousness. I don’t care. I can hold my own; I’ve been a Middle-earth fan for decades. Hmmm…does that thought make me pretentious?

A friend of mine finally arrives at the theater. I see him standing alone and wave him over to join us in line. I am told by the people behind me that no “cutting” in line is allowed. I point out that I’ll be saving him a seat when we get inside the theater anyway, so why not let him wait with our little group? “No.” The two orcs behind me stand firm. Whatever. I’ve been anticipating this movie since I read the books twenty years ago, and thanks to the asinine behavior of the people around me, I’m in a crabby mood, the two hour wait is unpleasant instead of exciting, and I catch myself wondering if it’s all worth missing three hours of sleep over.

Flash forward to November 21, 2008: Same theater, same time of day, different book, and, thankfully, completely different attitude.

We excitedly arrived before 10:00 pm to find the theater lobby completely devoid of life. My daughter and her three friends looked at me accusingly. Evidently my anticipation was greater than everyone else in town. Embarrassed, I gave the girls money to get coffee next door at Panera while I took a seat on a bench by the restrooms, the guy behind the popcorn counter smirking at me the whole time.

When they returned, a line had officially formed: a girl and guy from the university were thankfully first, and then…me. My girls sat around me; grins and high-pitched voices betrayed their caffeinated excitement while the line slowly grew.

For the next two hours we killed time. We played the dice game Zilch. We ate overpriced popcorn and candy. We giggled at cell phone-generated photos. We played Euchre. (Everyone in Indiana plays Euchre. You’re not allowed to live here unless you know the difference between a left and right bower.) And we traded Twilight stories with those around us; everyone we spoke to was there because of their love of the books. The university guy in front of us read the series because of his sisters, and was jazzed to be seeing the movie an hour ahead of his family back home in Texas. I convinced him that calling his sisters one hour into the movie to gloat over this fact was not a good idea.

The two women behind us wore Twilight Mom’s shirts. They sheepishly confessed their greater love for the boy wizard, but we forgave them this character flaw, all of us having been fans of HP as well. One of the girls actually got a re-occurring babysitting gig from one of the two moms she met that night.

We shared what we knew about the movie. We debated our favorite scenes from the books, what we were looking forward to seeing in future movies and we rambled on about the actors. And we discussed Edward…always Edward.

I quickly realized that we weren’t just killing time; we were…having fun. A feeling of fellowship was rampant; people were friendly and excited to be there. Everyone wanted the movie to be good; it was definitely a home team crowd, cheering everything right with the film while ignoring the bad.

I saw the movie at least 6 more times in the theater, but the best viewing experience by far was that first time in a packed theater full of excited, devoted, like-minded fans. Will the midnight showing of New Moon be the same magical experience? I hope so. If you happen to be in a theater in small-town Indiana on November 19th and see a lady wearing a Hydraulic Level 5 t-shirt, eating Milk Duds, sitting on the floor having a blast, stop by and say hi.

Often, when people around me ridicule the Twilight fandom, I think about my different experiences at the midnight showings of these two movies. I compare the fun-loving joy and camaraderie of the Twi-fans with the stick-up-their-butt arrogance of the LOTR crowd. I think about that guy from Texas, the Twilight Moms behind us, and our little group playing games, happily anticipating our squeals of delight, enjoying our time together on the messy carpeting of our local theater.

Honestly, which group would you rather be associated with?

This has been a Fandom Fluffy Moment brought to you by
Hoosier Mama

Sunday, October 25, 2009

Guest Fic Rec: SleepyValentina & The Cannabean Bethothal


I have to admit, the title The Cannabean Betrothal confused me. I avoided reading it for weeks, convinced it was about an arranged marriage in which the dowry consisted entirely of marijuana. I nearly passed on it altogether, but then I remembered how much I love ItzMegan73's other stories, A Rough Start and The Tutor, both of which are tender and warm without sacrificing necessary realism.

About to take the plunge, I closed my eyes and tried to imagine what pot-smoking Rastaward would look like. It was a bit of a stretch, but then again, so were Tattward and Piercedpeenward. I pressed forward, thinking I'd read the prologue and decide then if I wanted to continue. From the very first sentence, it was not what I expected:

Cannabean. A clannish society, often compared to Amish or Mennonite communities. Although more accepting of modern conveniences such as electricity, technology and the like, Cannabeans do not subscribe to the mainstream ideals that plague modern marriage, nor do they believe in the dissolution of marriage. Their daily living is centered on their faith, family and a firm foundation in the Cannabean Way.

I quickly read through the available chapters (during which not a single character smoked a doobie) and realized Cannabeans are completely unrelated to cannabis. Even more surprising, I found myself ravenous for the next chapter--a reaction which, based on the prologue, I did not anticipate I would have.

In the opening chapters, we meet Carlisle and Esme Cullen and their three adult sons, Emmett, Jasper, and Edward. The (fictitious) religious communiity to which they belong is dwindling, and finding an apropriately pious Cannabean wife for Edward is far more easily said than done. When Bella arrives in Forks with her parents, Edward takes interest in her immediately. Educated yet dutiful, she is the physical manifestation of all of Edward's ideals. He asks for an introduction, and their courtship begins.

Told in third person, each chapter opens with a fact about Cannabean marriage practices making the story almost feel like a documentary. As details are revealed, we learn that underneath the carefully cultivated exterior of the ideal Canneban family, the Cullens are not what they seem. The three brothers barely speak with one another because of a mysterious rift that occurred a few years in the past. Edward did not always ascribe to Cannabean teachings, but changed his mind during a dark period in his life. For reasons as of yet undisclosed, Edward seems to want Bella to have nothing to do with Alice.

As a person who largely detests both organized religion and patriarchy, I was prepared to pity the lot of them. Instead, I'm starting to recognize the appeal of insular faith-based comunities. When religious doctrine dictates life choices, non-believers often focus on the experiences its followers will never have. It's hard to imagine never going out on an unchaperoned date or not being able to wear a sleeveless dress. The Cannabean Betrothal presents us with the other side. Yes, the religion itself is strict but so far, every person we have seen practicing it is doing so by choice. Cannabeans undoubtedly miss out on some of what life has to offer, but conversely, they are spared a great deal of heartache. Ignorance can indeed be bliss.

The first time I read Twilight, I remember feeling blown away by its not-so-subtle religious subtext, but because of its genre I didn't think too much about it. Young adult novels are often thinly veiled cautionary tales extolling the benefits of chastity, integrity and hard work, sometimes without aknowledging the existence of an alternative. The Twilight Saga was not an exception. Bella wants to have premarital sex with Edward, but (Eclipse notwithstanding) she relinquishes the decision to him. Truth be told, she relinquinshes the majority of her decisions to him. They marry, and after she reiterates the novel's abstinence message in her internal monolgue, the narrative fades to black. From that moment until the very end, Bella's life becomes the penultimate happily ever after. We're so distracted by her dreams coming true, we never ask what happens next. We never know if Bella's complete faith in person, seemingly worthy though he may be, ever fails her. We fade to black a final time, resulting in an idealized fairy-tale with an obvious message--be good, dress modestly, stay chaste, and listen to your man. It's so... Dare I say it?... Cannabean.

And this is what makes The Cannabean Betrothal so compelling. It takes the subtext of the original and makes it overt, and the result is every bit as fascinating. Will Cannabean Bella reap all the rewards given to canon Bella? Only time will tell. Regardless of the outcome, I have sneaking suspicion there will be no fade to black.

Sleepyvalentina is a retired actress for whom the fandom is the latest in a series of diversions she has used to avoid actual productivity. While not working on Art After 5, Counterpoint, and My Life to Be, she can be found in Philadelphia, fake smoking and drunk tweeting.

Saturday, October 24, 2009

Admin Rec: Pastiche Ogles the Southern Gothic

Finding really amazing writing is something of a chore with fan fiction. Now, that's not to say that there aren't lots of wonderful stories.

There are cyber-barrels full.

However, I personally separate storytelling from writing when I categorize my reading list. I tend to see it as follows:

The story is the skeleton. Writing is the sexy muscles.

Amazing writing is Irritable Grizzly Adams, Cowboys and Indians, and Sanctuary. You can feel the atmosphere in those fics. It sweeps around you. There are original characters that feel as real as our stock fan fiction character set. You can taste the wine. You can see the sky change with the burgeoning threat of the tornado. You feel like you could reach down and pinch the frosty-wet of the snow.

Mary, Full of Grace is like that.

Mary, Full of Grace is the story of Mary Alice Brandon. Told in the style of Southern Gothic, there is the lurking sense of the grotesque in every "turn-of the-page." We know that something horrible happened in Alice's past—she ended up in the asylum, afterall. Moreover, as a vampire, she was devoid of all human memories. But the question is: WHY? What parents would turn away a child that they allegedly loved—yet keep their other daughter? How did the visions come about? Who was she? Why did she prefer "Alice" instead of "Mary?"

The story begins in the present with Jasper interviewing a woman from Alice's hometown:

He appeared out of nowhere near the end of dusk, standing at the edge of an overgrown field across from her house. I heard him approaching, Franny told herself later, but truthfully all she remembered was pouring herself some sweet tea and, when she looked up, there he was. He was young, twenty perhaps, about six feet tall and wearing a white collared shirt and blue jeans. He was light-skinned, paler than anybody from around Pearlington. A large cowboy hat sat on his head, covering his face. Definitely not from Pearlington, Franny thought.

Elise Montgomery gives us a delightfully dark and twisted rendition of Alice's secret history. I must warn you in advance—there are loads of what might be considered stereotypical turn-offs to a story. Lots of original characters. Rape. Also, this isn't a BellaxEdward story (in case you didn't notice). And yet, in spite of all the fandom red flags, I'm not remotely worried. The reason why I often hate reading original characters in fan fiction is because they're normally flat, but with Mary, I immediately feel like I've met them before, even if it certainly wasn't from Twilight. I often could care less about Alice in fics, but again, that's because she's got all the depth of "that one nice cheerleader from your high school!" But Mary Alice is born the outsider before she even knows what the word "outsider" means.

What I'm telling you is that this story is the exception to so many rules. I shivered at the end of the prologue. I gasped through the second chapter. I felt like crying in the third. Only a prologue and two chapters in (though almost 20k), and it's already blossoming like a heavy magnolia.

So, yeah, read this story. It's gorgeous.

Pastiche Pen is a mouthy, ornery admin, who often seizes control of this blog. Sorry 'bout that. Really. (Okay, well, maybe not, but I may eventually feel some modicom of guilt...?) Anyhoo, she is currently writing Psychotic SuperPowered Vampirism, which is scaring away all the sane people and is making a strange amount of sense to all the people on prescription medications and lines of Patron hooked up to their major veins.

Friday, October 23, 2009

Tutorial: Photo Manipulation

Fun With Manipulation!

So, let's talk manipulation. No, not the weird "Do I dazzle you?" kind of manipulation, but PHOTO MANIPULATION!

It's really fun to play manip. But lettuce not fool ourselves, some of the most hilarious photo manipulations ever weren't intended to be funny.

They were just really shitty.

The worst manip I've seen this week is this:

Yeah. That's just... really awful. His head is frightening, and I know Angel insists that ROB JUST HAS AN EPIC HEAD (which, he does, to an extent), but guess what? It shouldn't be eating Bella, kwim? It's just bad. The positioning isn't proportionate to his shoulders and body and ewwww. Seriously, Summit, I need a fucking job and you need a fucking graphics designer. Call me.

Also, anyone else wondering why they're using a crescent moon all over NEW MOON? I mean, fucking hale, symbolism, people, get with it. Makes no sense to me, but idk... I digress...

Lettuce Talk Picture Hunting

If you plan to give manipulation a try, you'd be better be prepared to scour the internet high and low for the right pictures to use. For your base image, you want to find something high quality that won't get you sued. I personally frequent stock websites like or's stock image section.


I look for jean ads. Yeah, I know, but if you think about it, the models are already positioned for hotness, the lighting is always great, they are always really kinda artsy, and they're ADS. They're already public and even though I'm certain some copyrighting exists, you won't see Levi's emailing you anytime soon to request the image be removed. They have better things to do. Like find really anorexic bitches to hump all up on some ripped dudes.

Another option is using movie promos, photoshoots of other actors, or bands, or just... fuck. Get creative. Anything labeled "PROMO" is copyright flimsy. They want you to promo their shit anyway.

For this tutorial, I'm using the below Levi's image. It was chosen from a Twitter poll.

So, a little angsty E/B, yes?

Now we need to choose two corresponding images of Rob/Kstew to make this work.

The most important thing to remember about photo manipulation is this: The more work you have to do to make it look natural, the more unnatural it'll be. It doesn't matter how long you tweak and work to make it perfect, if you HAVE to keep tweaking, then it's all wrong.

Consider these.

1. Position.
This is obviously important. Is the model looking down or up? Left or right? Consider perspective and depth and how that will relate to your Rob or Kstew.

Here's a really shitty and quick sketch I did to convey position and depth. We need to find poses from our Rob and Kstew that mimic this, as much as possible.

You can rotate a head to a certain degree, but if you do it too much, you get this:

Now, at first sight, we don't know what's wrong with this, we just know it's kinda... off. Well, look at their hair. It has no gravity. Hair always falls toward the ground, unless it's styled otherwise. In this case, Bella and Edward were obviously taken from a picture of them standing. This is a nice photo, but that one thing ruined it. Well, that and the fact that the lighting is emanating from between their faces and not ambient but... that's next...

2. Lighting.
Nothing gives away a manipulation like lighting deviation, Sure, you can tweak a little, but the big shit matters. Consider where the light source is coming from and how bright it is, like the below examples illustrate.

So we see where the light source is coming from in these. They are fairly direct.

Fortunately, I have chosen a photo with more ambient, outdoor lighting. These are the easiest because, for one, most studio photoshoots do the ambient dealy. They're big on lighting. So more of the Rob/Kstew pics you find will be in this range.

3. Size.
Size does matter. You can't blow a picture up. Making it larger ruins the quality. So always get the biggest possible images when hunting. You can shrink later, if necessary.

The images that I chose to best suit the above base image are these.

These fit my parameters nicely! Now we just need to move them over to the base.

Step Lists Are Fun

Yeah, I'm using Adobe Photoshop for this. Sorry for all of you that don't/can't use it!

Click on the "Step" link to see a diagram of my Adobe panel for that step.

Step 1.
Open all images.

Step 2.
Desaturate all images. It's not even worth it to try to match color and tone for all. Just desaturate each one by clicking Shift+Ctrl+U (Win).

Step 3.
Cut out Rob. We're doing him first (that's what she said), so we want to whip out our path tool (diagram) and start clicking around the parts of his head that we need (that's what she said). We won't need the hair cut out because the backgrounds are both conveniently white (I swear, I totally didn't plan that).

Step 4.
Make Selection. Right click inside the path you created and choose, "Make Selection." (diagram). You can then make certain you have the first Rob layer selected in your layer's palette (diagram).

Step 5.
Get out your "Move Tool" and then drag Rob's face over to the base image (diagram).

Step 6.
Flip him. Obviously, he needs a horizontal flipping (that's what she said). We do this by going to "Edit>>Transform>>Flip Horizontal"

Step 7.
Putting Rob in His Place. We're going to lower the opacity on Rob's head to 50%, so we can still see the image below him. Then, we're going to use our "Move Tool" to position him correctly. Click the option to "Show Bounding Box" to rotate and shrink the image if necessary. In this case, it is.

Step 8.
Lining Him Up. You can use the base's and Rob's nose, lips, jawline, and or ears as reference for placement. For this one, I used face outline, nose, chin, and ear to position it.

Now we have this:

Step 9.
Blending Him In. We're going to make a layer mask by clicking "Create Layer Mask" at the bottom of the palette.

Step 10.
Using a small paintbrush, we're going to begin painting black on our mask to hide the white stuff we don't want (that's what she said).

Step 11.
We may need to lower opacity to get the stuff by the girl's head. I used a bigger, softer brush for this.

Ahh. that looks better, but it's still pretty obvious, yes? This is because we need to consider shadows and highlights.

Step 12.
Add Shadows. Get out your "Burn Tool" and choose a soft round brush (I used 69px because it makes me giggle) and, being certain your Rob Head is selected and NOT your layer mask still, burn the edges of his jaw like so (diagram). Really consider where shadows would naturally fall given surroundings. Here, her head is an obvious shadow producer.

Step 13.
Add Highlights. In this case, we're only going to use the "Dodge Tool" to fix that hair smudging. See the following settings and locations that best suit it.

Now that looks pretty damned natural, yes?

Step 14.
Now we're going to repeat steps 3 and 4 on our Kstew image by using our path tool to select her hair and face.

Step 15.
Drag her over to the base canvas, just like we did with Rob.

Step 16.
Flip her horizontally, again, exactly like Rob.

Step 17.
Set the opacity down to 50% and use your "Move Tool" to scale and rotate stew's head to match the base model's.

Now we have:

Step 18.
Kstew's hair isn't as big at the top as our base model's. We must get rid of the base model's hair by clicking off visibility for kstew, making a new layer, and using the color picker to determine what our background color should be. In this case, it's just white, and rather easy. In other pieces, you may need to use the clone tool instead of painting. For this, we're just painting white over the model's hair.

That's better.

Step 19.
We need to erase parts of her neck and hair to blend the image into the background.

Step 20.
Add shadows by using your "Burn Tool" once again to darken her neck and the left side of her face.

Step 21.
Yeah, so I made the head a little bigger because once it's on the body, we can use our eyes to guage how natural it looks. A good tip at this point is to flip your entire canvas horizontally. Sometimes you'll stare at it too long and grow comfortable with things that should look uncomfortable. It's an opposing view to the same image. I just tweaked the size a bit.

Step 22.
I just don't like her hair. It's all flat and BLAH. I want more hair! Big hair! But how we just get more hair? Simple. Duplicate the head layer, select the bottom-most head layer in the palette, and move it around a little. Since it's behind the actual head layer, you'll see the edges of her hair peek out when you move it. I moved it up a little, and to the right. It gives her a nice little... crown bob... thingy... whateverthefuck they're called. I repeated this again with the hair at her neck.

That's about it, folks. Now you have a good manipulation.

What are you going to do with it?

Well, you can add some color, firstly, it's okay. I like to apply actions to mine because I'm lazy in that way.

Download this action file
follow the instructions in the diagram to load them.
(Credit to

Done? I'll give you a second.


Step 23. Go to "Layer >> Flatten Image" to flatten this to one layer. Then, with that layer selected, choose an action from the list of your spanking new pretties collection (I chose "Broken Camera"), and press the "Play" button.



Magic and stuff.

Now you can crop this out for a pretty banner, add some text and a border and maybe a nice bokeh texture, and viola! You're a manipulator.

And you didn't even have to sparkle...

Fault is an UHMAZING new AH E/B fic. Please to be checking it out and showing the awesome author some awesome love for her awesome shit? Thanks.


Edward and Bella were childhood friends, but a catastrophic event in Junior High separated them. Can their relationship be repaired once they have both changed immensely? DARK AH.
Twilight - Rated: M - English - Romance/Angst - Chapters: 9 - Words: 20,633 - Reviews: 147 - Updated: 10-19-09 - Published: 10-8-09 - Edward & Bella

Download the .PSD source file?

Next Tutorial: 3 Layer Banners, Easy Peasy Blending Pie.

Thursday, October 22, 2009

CharacterExploration: AHward - A Rose By Another Name Wouldn't Smell As Sweet


Doucheward. Tattward. Geekward. Shyward. Dickward. Fuckward. Frennyward. Bikeward. Scotchward. Bardward. Skittleward. Gayward. Pedoward. Cuffward. Marineward. BATward. Vladward. HIPSward. Priestward. Catholicward. Domward. Balticward. Whoreward. Beautiful Bastard. The Sugar Queen. Curseward. Chefward. Reboundward. Thrustward. Trustward. Logicward. Rich Kid. Resistward. SWCIFD. Youngward. Poetward. Flannelward. Authorward. Debussy_88. Eddie. Betaward. Humpward. Blindward. Deafward. Teddyward. Pinkieward. Stutterward. Sweaterward. Daddyward. Fallingward. Hoboward. And so on, and so on, and so on.

It’s enough to give a girl (and the occasional guy) a headache.

I don’t think it’s a stretch to say that most of us fell a lot in love with Edward Cullen while reading The Twilight Saga. In fact he’s probably the reason that most of us started reading fanfiction in the first place. I’m no different. I felt unjustly robbed by the lack of sparkle peen in that meadow at the end of Eclipse, and I wanted some more Edward in my life, preferably sans pants. For the first few weeks, I guzzled down smutty vamp one-shots like it was my job.

But somewhere along the lines, things changed. I read Passion Fish, the now defunct all-human fic where Edward and Bella meet during a blindfolded kiss. I was a little confused because Edward wasn’t 107 and he wasn’t a virgin, but I read it nonetheless. And then I read
Meyer University
. And then
Boycotts and Barflies
A rite of passage
Only Human
, and that was all it took. I was hooked on green-eyed, flushed-cheeked Edward.

I’m here today to sheepishly attempt to figure out the phenomenon that is all-human Edward. What makes us love him so much? Why do we choose to read/write about him, and what makes him so appealing?

Who says Edward can’t be a Swedish body-builder?

Plus he doesn't creep on you while you're sleeping.
"All human" is kind of a strange concept if you think about it. For some reason, we love making some popcorn and reading along happily as authors take our sweet, stubborn, virginal vampire and turn him into all kinds of depraved teenagers/young adults/men. AHward is at once a sexual deviant, a renaissance man, the quiet boy in the back of the classroom, and the troubled teen who just needs the love of a young Bella to set him straight.

That really is the appeal of writing all-human Edward: he can really be whoever you want him to be.

Vampward is great, but he has a lot of restrictions. If you’re using SMeyer’s canon (for powers and the like), then you have to make sure that everything fits together. Even if you’re going for straight AU, it’s a lot harder to come up with a plausible, original story line while still appealing to your readers. Maybe it’s just me, but having written Vampward and AHward, I find Vampward much more difficult to write.

The only thing that's really consistent with AHward is his physical appearance: bronze hair, green eyes, tall, and generally lean and in good shape. Everything else is up to you. He might play piano, but he doesn't have to. He might hate 60's music (one of the most ridiculous traits of canon Edward, in my opinion), but he might love it. He can be Tupac's number one fan if you want him to be.

All human gives us the gift of variety. It also gives us the chance to write what we know. Do you work at a law firm and find yourself inspired by the cute new intern who is probably too young for you? You can channel that into a Lawyerward, like the one in
I Hate You, Kiss Me
by stacybumblebee. Did you really love Sixteen Candles and can't get that last scene out of your head? Write a JakeRyanward like in
Seventeen Cakes
by vanessarae.

There is also a certain amount of originality that can come into play with AHward. All human allows the writer to flex his/her original fiction muscles without having to actually write original fiction. You can take the parameters set by SMeyer and then let your imagination run wild. I've written a horny teenager, a loner suffering from mental illness, a bitter ex-piano player, a father fighting for a doll for his daughter, and a few others; and my Edwards are just a glimpse into what is out there as far as all human fics.

As a reader, AHward has the same appeal that he does for writers. Everyone gets tired of vampires eventually, even if only slightly, and the human genre lets us keep loving on Edward while reading something a little different.

A rose by any other name does not smell as sweet.

"My name's Edward. Are you ready to do me now?"
I’m going to be blunt for a second and make a potentially controversial statement: almost all human Edward’s are not "Edward" as we know him. They’re just not. I can probably list the truly “in character” human Edwards I’ve read on one-hand. Most AHwards are so out of character and so far removed from canon, that we’re left with someone who might be devastatingly appealing, but is really “Edward” in name only.

Ah… but that’s the thing, isn’t it?

His name is Edward, and therefore we jump right on board.

This provides a lot of freedom for the all-human author. We can write a male character pretty much any way we want. Stick some bronze hair atop his head and give him green eyes, and we as a fandom are loving on him. Give him russet skin and a few more inches, and we are shaking our fists and cursing the author for making a Jacob who is only there to stand in the way of true love.

Now of course it’s not as simple as this. But us Edward enthusiasts are often a stubborn breed. I know it frustrates people when they try to recommend a non-canon fic to me, and I shoot it down simply because Bella is paired with someone else. I can’t help it. My devotion to Edward does not allow me to truly enjoy when his lady-love is loving on someone else. But take Jasper and give him the right hair color and name? Then I probably won’t have a problem with it.

In summary, when I asked people on twitter what makes a fic too out of character for them to read, one lovely reader answered, “There is no such thing as too out of character, as long as they have the right names.”

Keep that little tidbit in mind as I lamely segue into my next section.

How far is too far out of character?

The mullet does not approve of your shenanigans.
This is where things get tricky for the AHward. Because there is so much available variety in the all human world, there are going to be stories that some people say take it too far. Everyone has different tastes, and therefore everyone is going to have a different tolerance for depravity and extreme-out-of-character behavior. It's really a matter of personal opinion.

Because of this sort of "personalization" of our own ideal fics, I couldn't come up with these on my own. So I asked some readers and authors what they thought made a story/character too out there for them to enjoy. I got back a ton of different answers, so I thought I'd just list a few of more common things here. A huge thank you to my friends on twitter for helping me out with this.

  • when Edward's behavior is not consistent with the canon
  • excessively violent Edward
  • when Edward and Bella aren't drawn to each other immediately
  • a "shockingly stupid or mean" Edward
  • Edward paired with someone he is related to by blood/family in canon
  • poor (as in not wealthy) Edward
  • slash
  • Edward not paired with Bella
  • possessive/psychotic Edward
  • cheating Edward
  • abusive Edward
  • Edward on hard drugs
  • unexplained out-of-character behavior
Some of these qualities are probably universally disliked. Not many of us want to read a fic where Edward is a cruel and sadistic sexual predator. But others are entirely a matter of opinion.

For example, I won't read stories where Edward and Bella are with other people unless it's really really well written slash (oh, and Bella cannot be in the story at all in order for me to enjoy it). I've enjoyed stories where Edward is a drug addict, and I think the poor Edward in
by autumndreamer is entirely endearing.

This is one of the best things about AHward. If you don't like one genre, there are tons of others out there for you to choose from.

Everybody knows that the ‘ward is the word.

As you can probably see from the very beginning of this tl;dr (too long;don't read [AG takes pity on the acronym impaired.]) article, there are way too many kinds of ‘ward for me to go into all of them here. So I picked three of the ‘wards that I think have made the biggest impact… or maybe just the first three that jumped to mind.

"Bitch thinks she's hot enough to tap this?"

He is that guy you hated in high school. The one who laughed with his friends when you drunkenly admitted he was cute at a party. The one in college who looked at you like you were the only girl in existence, then stopped talking to you once he got in your pants.

In fic he tends to fully claim his devastating good looks and uses them to play every girl in the tri-county area. Though frequently drunk, he magically evades STDs and teen pregnancy while sticking it to whoever will let him. And yet there is something about the Doucheward that makes us want to read about him again and again. Maybe it’s the joy of his redemption, maybe it’s the vicarious pleasure we feel watching Bella bring this tool to his knees, but he’s been one of the most popular ‘wards since the AH genre really took off.

There's not much more I can say, so I'll let a primo Doucheward explain it for me.

QUOTE from
I Like You So Much Better When You're Naked
by marve and wish_girl:
FuckinmotherfuckinMonday. I rolled over in my bed, accidentally knocking what's-her-face to the floor. She squealed her indignation at me and I shrugged. Occupational Hazard of sleeping with an Adonis.

And by Adonis, I mean me.

Damn it feels good to be a gangstah.

Some Douchewards for your consideration:

by Marve
The Caged Bird
by Kristen Nicole
Faking It
by spanglemaker9

"I wish I were your derivative, so I could lie tangent to your curves."

This Edward is the anti-doucheward. He makes your heart hurt, because he’s just so sweet and doesn’t think he stands a chance. He’s often shy and nerdy, and may be really close with his parents. Sometimes he’s just geeky enough to give him a hard time picking up girls, but other times he is a complete loner without any friends or sense of purpose. Either way, we can’t help but find him completely endearing.

The object of his affection might be a Bella that is beautiful and well-liked, or she might be just as much of a loner as he is. We watch in heartfelt awe as the unlikely couple grows closer, and the Geekward slowly but surely gets his happily ever after. It’s every high school fantasy come to life.

Some Geekwards/Outcastwards for your consideration:

Bright Like the Sun
by Dryler
Real Relationship: A Geeky Love Story
by booksforme
Boy in the Red Sweater
by starrynytex
Bad Boys and Book Nerds
by MPants

"So many guys, so little time..."

This is actually one of the few ‘wards that I have trouble getting on board with, mostly because I don’t really read non-canon pairings. But there’s definitely something about the idea of a PYT like Edward cozying up with an equally handsome dude. His partner is usually Jasper in fic, though he may also be Carlisle or some other person. The two (and sometimes three) meet and sparks fly, whether Edward and boy know they are gay or not. They can’t resist the chemistry and before they know it, the two (or three!) are making beautiful boy/boy music together.

Plus, there’s usually buttsecks. Some people are really into reading that.

Some Gaywards for your consideration (as recced by my friends):

Show Me a Garden That’s Bursting Into Life
by atypical-swan
What I Failed to Realize
by Beautiful Figment
Begin Again
by C-Me-Smile
After all the time, I can say without a doubt that Edward is my favorite character in the saga. Whether vamp or human, I can't help but have a soft spot for that pale sort-of-redhead. I think I'll probably be reading and writing different AHwards until I finally say goodbye to fanfiction at some point in the future.

If I had to pick one kind of AHward as my favorite, I would probably say Geekward/Outcastward, because I'm a sucker for good fluff and awkward boys. Plus that kind of angst just tears at my heart in the best way.

So I ask you, wonderful people who managed to get through this longass character exploration:

What's yours?
is the author of such AHwards as
, and
. Her stubborn refusal to read non-canon pairings has caused her friends to dub her "Queen Vanilla", but she is unapologetic. Don't mention Deadward to her unless you are looking for a fight.
Archived Explorations:

Upcoming Characters:
Fic Bella, Jessica, Sam/Billy, The Volturi, James/Victoria, Rosalie, Seth, Lauren.

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