Monday, November 30, 2009

Author Interview: Forbidden-Fruit81

1. What got you to decide to start writing fan fiction? To post fan fiction?

My dream is to be a writer, but the biggest hurdle was for me to actually put myself out there and open myself up to criticism of my writing. I thought fan fiction would be great practice, so I borrowed Stephanie Meyer’s great characters and turned them into my own. My best friends believed I had a great talent for writing and encouraged me to step out on my own, rather than hiding behind one shots of their stories, and Mens Rea was the result.

2. In Mens Rea you built a pretty complicated set up, leaving the possibilities pretty open as to what actually happened, how did you come up with the idea to write this? Was there anything particular that inspired this idea?

I work in the legal field day to day, so defense work is my life, though I work on the civil side and not in criminal work. It wasn’t very hard to create the scenes or flesh out the plot. Most of the plot has come very naturally to me. I decided to weave a very intricate web, though, because I personally love mysteries or other works of literature that make you think and just don’t “give” you the who, what, when, where, why and how.

3. How much research do you do for each chapter? Is there anything interesting about the legal process that you’ve learned since starting this that you didn’t know about before?

I’m a research nut and I’m very anal about the details. I research a lot. My friends help me research crime scenes, look at autopsy photos, study death certificates and whatever else I need to do for each chapter. I read a lot of case law and since I don’t live in Washington, I research state law. I always refer to the Federal Rules of Criminal Procedure and the Federal Rules of Evidence to make sure I’m writing things correctly. I think my friends and betas probably go pretty nuts with me, though they’re kind enough not to tell me I’m driving them crazy. My anal tendencies have paid off, though, because most of my reviewers thank me for all of the detail. It’s worth it in the end. As far as learning about the legal process, I’m not very familiar with prosecution so that has been a learning process. I have wonderful attorneys that really do this in their daily lives writing me, helping me, encouraging me and assisting me. When you have a real attorney telling you that you are doing a good job that kind of compliment goes pretty far.

4. Does music play a part in your writing process, how a chapter will come out? Are there any plans to create a playlist for the entire story once it’s complete?

I’ve never thought about creating a complete playlist, but that’s a fantastic idea! Music is a huge part of me. I have a really big appetite for music and I worked in the music business for many years before switching to a legal career. All of the music featured in my playlists and in chapters come straight from my iPod. Insane, right? I always have ideas for songs, but my iPod is very kind to me when writing, and if I put it on shuffle, it usually throws out songs that make me go “WOW! That will work great in Chapter Fourteen!” So I type out a little note on my phone’s notepad to remember later and then refer back to them when I begin writing that particular chapter. I also have a list of songs that I’ve heard the past few months attached to the end of my story outline. I want to use those songs eventually, so I write them down so I don’t forget them.

5. Who are some of your favorite authors? Do they influence your writing, how you approach each chapter?

Geez. I’m a classics geek, so I love Jane Austen. I got to visit Bath, England last summer and I was all sorts of in love with that town. I wanted to bring a notebook, sit on the pavement and just start writing. I plan to move to England soon and do just that… write. My favorite books are Anna Karenina by Leo Tolstoy, Atlas Shrugged by Ayn Rand and the Harry Potter series. Those are the ones I re-read over and over again, but I’m always looking for great books.

What is one thing that we might be surprised to learn about you?

There’s a lot of things you’d probably be surprised to know about me. Most recently, I acted as Jose Zuniga’s makeshift bodyguard (Mr. Molina in Twilight) when the crazies came after him for breathing Robert Pattinson’s carbon dioxide emissions. I speak in an English accent when I’ve had too much to drink. Oh, and I LOVE to drunk dial hot Swedish chicks (hi Wifey!!!!!).

Sunday, November 29, 2009

Guest Fic Rec: ElleCC Sets Her Priorities


Okay, deep breath. I'm about to do something I never expected to do. I fully anticipate that my mental health will be questioned and people will start talking about how I've finally gone off the deep end and how everyone was expecting it and it was only a matter of time... See? Deep breath.

I am recing a fic that prominently features Alice. Yes, Alice. She-Who-Must-Not-Be-Named.

Okay, so it's really Alice/Jasper/Bella (and it's a triangle, not a V, folks, so you can rearrange A-B-J any which way you want). But still, it's Alice.

About a month ago, I was lamenting on Twitter that I needed a new J/B fic. Mopstyle, an author I came to know and admire through her For the Love of Jasper contest entry Into Strangers (which has since turned into a multi-chapter), spoke up and asked, "How do you feel about Alice?" Well, the truth is that I don't feel good about Alice at all, and I told her that. She said, "Well, just in case...." and passed along the link for "A Priori," her AU, in-progress fic.

I think my dislike for Voldalice is fairly well known among those who know me, as is my penchant for Jasper, and I was optimistic that she wouldn't have recommended AP if the J/B hadn't been noteworthy.

So, I read all of the posted chapters on a Saturday night when I was stuck at work. I wrote my reviews in a Textpad doc first, just in case I got part of the way in and couldn't deal with the Alice and had to bail. I hate starting to review something and then just stopping because I have to flounce.

I was incredibly happy to find that I flew through all of the chapters, writing my little reviews, and was able to post them all in short order as soon as I'd finished chapter eight, which was the current one at the time.

All right, so the story itself and why I didn't run away screaming.

“Alice!” I hissed.

Her name was perfect for hissing. I wanted to name everything Alice, just so I could hiss it all day long. Jasper, home from the grocery store: ‘Did you get the Alice?’ At the bar: ‘Can I get a shot of Alice, please?’

“Bella,” she groaned at me. The sound of her voice made my eyes flutter closed. My beautiful Alice.

A hiss and a groan. This was us. When we could reduce each other to basal sounds, we could forget that what we really were was a complicated string of words, difficult to translate.

“Alice, God. Don’t stop!” It should have been illegal, what she could do with her hands. Her hard pale body had always been a dangerous temptation to me. She was capable of breaking me in two, of draining me of life in seconds. Her silky smooth skin glistened with our juices. I left a trail on her with everything I had in me. She slipped from under me and lifted my legs up and out.

So, that right there is the very first passage of the story. While I'm no stranger to slash, I can count on my hand the number of femslash fics I've read. But with promises of Jasper looming large (like in the "Bella & Jasper" tag on the story), I kept reading.

The story is not told linearly - from reading her stuff, I've found that Mopstyle doesn't really do that whole chronological thing. AP is told in a series of past and present scenes. The past lays out how Bella met Alice and Jasper and how their relationships formed, and the present addresses the imminent drama, which is introduced at the end of the first chapter (this is a huge plus in my book - I like to know right away that there's something interesting coming (and by "something interesting," I mean stuff that will probably make me cry)).

While the rest of the Cullens live in Alaska, Alice and Jasper live in Forks. Several years before the story starts, Alice and Jasper left the rest of the family and moved south in search of something - someone - Alice had been seeing in visions for years. Someone who is meant to play a huge part in their lives.

When she first meets them, Bella obviously doesn't know what Alice and Jasper are, but she suspects, right from the moment she meets Alice in a dressing room, that Alice isn't quite... normal. The attraction between Bella and Alice is immediate and well done; there's no la tua cantante draw (we have to save something for Edward when he arrives, right?), but they definitely have that physical-attraction-at-first-sight thing. It should be noted that this Bella is not quite canon!Bella, which is fine with me. I like my Bellas grittier, more jaded, more real (more foul-mouthed, more experimental, more interesting).... The eventual revelation about what Alice and Jasper are is surrounded by tension and dire circumstances - for all three of them - and is not drawn out for chapters and chapters, which is another plus.

As we read along, we find there is promise of Volturi, more Cullens, and - what will lure many of you in - Edward. In fact, the summary for the story actually says: "AxJxB ExB." While I am biting my nails and hoping that Edward doesn't screw things up too badly, the rest of you can cheer for him and what could come to be. Although, I'll warn you, the first Edward / Bella meeting is pretty interesting... in a good way.

We were less than a mile from our home, our new beginning. We ran parallel to the road, quite a ways into the wood, purposely slowed after our recent glut. I could smell the ancient cedars that lined the forest of our property, the river, and the saw dust from the nearby mill; so many scents so long ago forgotten. Among the rotting thicket underfoot, covered lightly by a dusting of wet, melting snow, I caught a new scent; one too warm and vibrant to be growing out here in winter. It rang like a bell through my head; softly sweating freesia and berries. The pulse, I finally heard, sprung forth from underneath the sound of our footfalls and the relentless chatter in my head. That invitation eclipsed all others and Carlisle’s frantic words were lost.

“Edward, no! Edward! Edward! Edward, stop!"

My legs were moving of their own volition. My sense of smell and the scent of sweet, hot life were in control.

I heard no more in my head, just hollowness. I was sailing towards this succulent scent, magnetized. I would devour whatever it was. The greens and drab browns of the flora dimmed and red spilled over my surroundings; tainting it, driving me and my instincts, to capture this prey.

Venom filled my mouth and I imagined it was the blood; velvet and scorching. With one hand I seized the creature. I grabbed it and pinned it. I could hear the rapid beating of its vibrant heart. The warmth under my fingers was enticing and all consuming. I heard a low wail and felt its body unhinge under my palm. It's bones shift under my tight grip as electricity ran through my entire body.

And Alice... Alice is fine, in this story. She's not the overbearing, caricatured pixie that so many fics have made her out to be. She loves both Jasper and Bella, and when something happens with one of them that shakes her faith, she steps away to think about it, without unnecessary drama. She's caring and sexy, and doesn't abuse her gift. This is an Alice I respect (although I admit that Jasper's feelings for Bella make the Jalice more palatable for me).

One aspect of AP that I really enjoy is that Mop doesn't skim over the whole "Bella's blood is enticing" bit - it is a legitimate concern, throughout. She doesn't neuter Jasper's bloodlust (or Alice's, although it is explained why Jasper's (and later Emmett's) is stronger), and there is a funny moment in the opening chapter in which Bella describes all they had to go through before Jasper and Bella could be intimate; Bella refers to it as, "a fucking lab experiment." I appreciate this more realistic treatment of physical union between human and vamp, because, honestly, I think canon!Edward was on the right track: it would be difficult and dangerous.

The story is not about sex, regardless of the first chapter. Their intimacy is a factor in their relationships, but there is much more to all of it than that. It is more about the irrevocable change that comes from the tight bonding of one person - or vamp - to another, and what happens when the two worlds meet. And isn't that what drew us all into Twilight in the first place? If you're looking for a story that's only about threesome smut, this is not it. If you want something with depth, a unique storyline (from what I've seen in Twificland, so far), and emotional charge, stop and take a gander.

By this point, I'm so invested in the whole thing that if it does take a turn for the terrible, and something rips Alice, Bella, and Jasper apart (*coughEdwardcough*), I know I will stick around to find out what happens to them all.

In addition, detroitangel, who betas for and has co-written bits of AP with Mopstyle, has published some AP alternate points of view and outtakes, including "A Priori - Speechless" and "Jazz's Game."

Elle loves Legna, making sad Jaspers happy with LaViePastiche, and fixing commas. She writes one hot Peter. She's sorta bottled amazing sauce.

Tuesday, November 24, 2009

Author Interview: IAdorePugs

1. What got you writing fan fiction in the first place? Where did you hear about it?

I was introduced to Twilight fan fiction early in 2009 by EtomyB, a good friend. I had no idea it existed. Originally I started writing “A Stable Romance” as a private story for my best friend Amy. She was so impressed with it she told me I should post it on fanfiction. I passed it on to EtomyB and she told me the same thing. Finally I sent it to a non-biased fellow author. When he also said I should post it, I bit the bullet and did it.

2. Does your family know about your Twilight/fan fiction habit? If so, what do they think about it?

My whole family knows I love Twilight, and most are aware I love Rob too. My sisters are the only family who know I read and write fan fiction. They are both in the process of reading A Stable Romance. They are very proud of me, and think my new hobby is a great way for me to use my creative mind. My older sister says our mom and grandma would be tickled pink with what I am doing.

3. How much time do you shelve away every week/day for writing fan fiction? Is there a specific time you write best during?

Now that vet school is back in session, my time free for writing has definitely decreased. I try to get in an hour or two every night. On the weekends I can do a bit more if my exam schedule allows. Sometimes I will write while I take notes in class to help stay awake.

I usually find it easier to write in the evening, between 8-11pm. I put some good music on, often my Rob iPod playlist, and unwind from my day writing.

4. What is your experience in dressage and why did you choose to involve it in "A Stable Romance"?

I have been riding English for 21 years, and focusing on dressage for 18 of those years. I own two horses, Gunner and Sparty. Gunner I have had for 18 years, Sparty for 3. I have shown both of them in lower level dressage.

I choose to involve it in A Stable Romance because it’s the riding discipline that I know the best, and the one I love. It takes a lot of discipline, patience, and hard work. There is also a need for attention to detail and precision that appeals to me. I think it’s those attributes that made me start thinking about what if Edward rode dressage. Then I started thinking about Edward wearing breeches, and well, it was a given that I needed to involve dressage at that point.

5. Did the idea to write a story about horse training and dressage or the idea to write an AU, AH Twilight story come first?

I would say the idea to write an AU/AH Twilight story came slightly before the idea of including dressage and horse training. Not by much though. They say to write what you know, so I decided the best way to approach my first attempt was to involve dressage.

6. Did you ever picture Edward or Bella as being horse-lovers/trainers/riders while reading the Twilight books? What is it about their personality that makes them fit into the horse-lover characters you portray them as in "A Stable Romance" so well?

No I never really did picture them as that while reading the Twilight series. It wasn’t until I’d read some other AU/AH fanfiction that put them in other occupations that it crossed my mind.

Edward’s personality fits because he is dedicated and has a strict attention to detail. He doesn’t cut corners or do things half ass. Unfortunately there are many people in the dressage world who just like to buy the fancy horse, and show it, without learning to ride properly, or understand the fundamentals that are essential. It struck me that Edward, if he was a dressage trainer, would feel that was unacceptable. At the same time, a type A personality like Edward, can be too hard on himself for little things. This can make dressage a tougher pursuit because it is something that takes time to learn as a rider, and to successfully train a horse. Edward, once he had decided he was going to succeed at something, wouldn’t stop working until he did.

Bella’s warm heart was part of what I knew would attract her to animals in general. She also has the level of dedication to what she loves to excel at whatever she sets her mind to. To me Bella is always looking for ways to learn, and find her place. I decided that maybe Bella could find her niche in dressage and working with horses. Her struggles with her self confidence and patience with herself would be tested, but also improved with dressage. Bella carries an aura of peacefulness to me that grows in the Twilight series. I could see her using that as an aid to work with troubled or more difficult horses.

Together they both have a strong sense of right and wrong. I thought seeing the professional horse world through their eyes and experiences together would be interesting. Plus I knew that a type A, slightly anal retentive Edward, training Bella in dressage, was a recipe for lots of interesting interactions and adventure, leading to romance.

PeaceLoveTwilight can be found at her blog, Peace. Love. Twilight!, on Twilighted as PeaceLoveTwilight, or on as CedwardPattinsonian. She is currently working on her stories “Acceptance”, “Reservation for Ten” (a collaborative work) , and “Delusion & Devotion”. When she is not writing, e-mailing, blogging, reading, eating, or sleeping, she is…well, not really doing anything!

Monday, November 23, 2009

FandomFluff: Fiscterly Musings on New Moon

Fiscterly Musings on New Moon

Hoosier Mama

I was an innocent, my mind as pure as the driven snow when I sat in that theater last year at midnight to watch the movie Twilight with all of the other Twilight-obsessive-compulsives. The stories of AngstGoddess003, Gondolier, adorablecullens, and all the other writers were not even a twinkle in my eye. In fact, I was not even aware of their existence, let alone the existence of fan fiction.

Oh what a difference a year makes.

Being simply Twilight-obsessed is so passé. Now that I’ve joined the ranks of the corrupted, yet fashionably fanfic-obsessed, and my mind has taken a turn or two in the gutter thanks to some of our steamier writers, what would I make of the second movie? Would visions of “Beautiful Bastard”, Domward, Tattward, “Rich Kid”, Catholicward and all the other Edward incarnations I’ve read and loved interfere with my enjoyment of canon Edward in the movie?

And what about the bigger questions:
  • Would Chris Weitz be able to create a film that satisfied and soothed the screaming hordes of fans? Would it be good enough to enlighten those pesky, quarrelsome Twi-virgins, so they can quit mocking us and finally understand…us: the card-carrying members of a secret yet crazily obsessed fandom?

  • Would Melissa Rosenberg capture all the essential elements from the book and include them in a cohesive, understandable script?

  • And finally and most importantly, would the emotional roller coaster ride experienced when reading the book be duplicated in the movie theater? Would we get the same bliss, dread, angst, pain and finally, euphoria that we get from re-reading the book, when we view The Twilight Saga: New Moon?

The answer to all of the above bigger questions, in my humble opinion, is a qualified yes.

The movie Chris Weitz made was, not surprisingly, very different from Catherine Hardwicke’s Twilight. Stylistically it’s simply breathtaking; it’s also a more polished, elegant movie than the first one. The special effects were mucho, mucho better than Twilight; Mr. Weitz clearly took advantage of the additional funds available to him from the studio.

The writing? Hmmm, what can I say about the screenwriting? That disappointed me the most in Twilight, even more so than the cheap and cheesy special effects. (i.e. the hospital scene? It should have been so much more…although the writer totally redeemed herself with the prom scene. *sigh*) I’m happy to say that Ms. Rosenberg did a much better job with New Moon and with a tougher assignment. The book’s plot was changed very little and it seemed to me what departures there were, were done in order to condense the plot into a usable movie format. Purists will have a hard time complaining about the transfer from book to movie. My only worry is that in an effort to include so much from the book,
someone who had never read it might find themselves befuddled. Everything after the return from Italy moves extraordinarily fast and the action is extremely condensed. (Newcomers might think, “Weren’t we just with Bella and Edward in her bedroom? Why are we suddenly at the Cullen house?”) I haven’t actually spoken with anyone who saw the movie without reading the book, so that’s just conjecture on my part.

When I was sitting in the theater just before midnight, I told myself if the movie didn’t make me cry it would fail the test. This was New Moon, the most depressing book I’ve ever read; the movie should have the audience in tears. I honestly don’t know how many times I’ve tortured myself by reading the damn break-up scene in the book…and I’ve cried…every. freakin. time.

My Kleenex tissues sat unused in my lap when we left at 2:30 am.

But I truly don’t believe that it’s a fault of the movie. It’s like I’ve finally become immune to it. I’ve read it so much, experienced it through Edward’s eyes (in two fantastic fics: “
Dark Side of the Moon
” and “
Ithaca is Gorges
”) in addition to playing that clip of the movie over and over again, until the most painful lies ever uttered – “I don’t want you anymore Bella. You’re no good for me” - became almost blasé.

(Author’s note: I wrote the majority of this the morning after the midnight showing. When I saw it the second time on Saturday, for some reason, I was much more emotionally involved. My daughter felt it too. It is overall a very dark, sad story with lots of places to get misty-eyed…and we did. Speaking of which, after our second viewing, we also noted the unfortunate absence of Bella’s tears…)

For the most part, the roller coaster ride of emotions was there. The movie showed how blissfully happy they were at the beginning (Thank God! They were actually smiling at each other! I really worried about this…), all the angst and pain was there (the passing months scene was well-done), the Team Edward types in the audience were soundly tortured by watching Bella grow closer and more in love with Jacob (My biggest unfulfilled wish was that they show a little of the hell that Edward was living during those months.) The time in Italy was…wow. Thrilling…sexy…surreal (hello? the elevator ride?)…scary…and agonizing. Yeah, I liked it.

As for fans of Twi-fanfiction, we’ve evolved one step beyond the original canon storyline (which enables us to watch the movie without rose-colored glasses) but at the same time we’re much more involved with the characters. We’ve delved into their pasts and their futures; we know what makes them tick more than your typical Twilight fan. As much as we love the various versions of Edward that exist in the Twi-dom, canon Edward will always hold a special place in our hearts as the vamp that started it all.

Passing thoughts on the movie:
  • I asked my daughter what she was looking forward to seeing in the movie. Without skipping a beat she answered, “Lots of half-naked guys.” She’s 19 so I suppose she can be excused for thinking that way. I, on the other hand, being an old fart, worried that there would be too much gratuitous “half-naked guy” scenes which would make it risible to the male half of the population. However, my fears were relieved; I felt a good balance was struck.

  • On that note, the lady behind me that kept gasping and moaning every time Taylor Lautner’s bare chest was shown annoyed the hell out of me for two reasons: A. She was old enough to be his grandmother and the kid is under the age of 18. That’s just creepy. B. Her sexually-charged vocals then caused 15 seconds of laughter in reaction from the audience around her, which totally covered up the dialogue. Please ladies! A crowded theater is no place for personal gratification. Wait ‘til you have the DVD in the privacy of your own home before doing…whatever you do while you watch…if you know what I mean…

  • For the love of all that’s holy, somebody please fix Jasper’s hair!

  • Edward’s last kiss on Bella’s forehead before he disappears was painfully beautiful to watch. You could see Edward’s agony from his “blasphemous lying” to her in that kiss. That was a critically important 3 seconds. Well done.

  • Both Edward and Bella appeared much better looking in this movie than in Twilight. I don’t know if it was the clothes, or hair, or make-up, lighting, or camera angles, but yeah, they looked more attractive…except when they needed to look distraught…which is understandable.

  • Do the filmmakers honestly believe that men in the future will dress like Barry Manilow from the 70’s? Interesting clothing choice in Alice’s vision….

  • I wanted to see more Carlisle: more of his past with the Volturi, more of his conversation with Bella when he is doctoring her arm, and more of his conversation with Edward during the vote. I blame this entirely on two fic writers: Emilie Fauve (“
    In My Power
    ”) and giselle-lx (“
    Ithaca is Gorges
    ”). You’ve made me a closet Carlisle fan and ahem, I’m sure Peter Facinelli had absolutely nothing to do with this…

  • Before the movie started, a guy from the audience stood up at the front of the room and said, “Ok, how many here like Edward?” People cheered and raised their hands. “Now, how many here like Jacob?” he continued. To my chagrin, a few more people cheered. In the silence that followed, my fearless daughter yelled, “Charlie!” to a smattering of laughs. And she was right. Billy Burke as Charlie continues to steal the show.

  • Some scenes sort of dragged while others felt rushed. Is this the fault of the editor? The director? Best boy? Composer? Grip? I have no idea. I know nothing about making movies. It’s just something I felt while watching it.

  • I don’t know about anyone else, because I haven’t read any other reviews, but I loved, absolutely loved the last line of the movie…and Bella’s little gasp. It gave me the tingles. It was picture perfect.

So that’s what I thought. I give it 3 out of 4 stars. What about you? Do you agree? Did you hate the movie? Or did you love it? Let me know in the comments section! And now, if you’ll excuse me, I need to thoroughly annoy my husband by going to the theater to see the movie again, and again, and again. Maybe by the fifth time I’ll actually need to use that Kleenex.

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

Sunday, November 22, 2009

Guest Fic Rec: Burning Feathers

The last time I wrote a book report was when I told my fellow fourth graders all about my love for Cloudy With A Chance Of Meatballs, a book which I am now positive gave the women of my generation their food issues. Seriously, check out the obesity rate of women in their 30's, coincidence? Pffft.

So when asked to write a review for this lovely blog, I was a little nervous. I mean, I am part of a podcast that discusses buttsecks on a regular basis, stuck vjgm in a popemobile, and sings naughty words to the tune of Hot Pockets. Additionally, the most popular character in any of my own fics is a cat. A cat. Not kidding, an actual pussy.

But here is my dirty little secret. Come close chickens, sit on my lap. I. Love. Angst. I love it when my tummy gets ripped out and shown to me. I love when the characters are hopelessy flawed and the HEA is not a guarantee. And I love when I am constantly surprised.

So when a reader rec'd me Burn And Shine by pulsepoint, I ate it up. Ravaged it. Then grabbed a plate and headed back for seconds.

When we begin this fic, Bella and her ladies have been arrested for teepeeing a sorority house. Mysterious bad boys Jasper and Edward are also in the pokey. With this set up, it seems as though you know exactly where its going, yes? I have never been so glad to be wrong.

This Edward is dark, cryptic, wholly unlikable, and yet once his onion starts to be peeled a little, he is heartbreaking. He has dealt with many many issues from his past, issues that continue to haunt him to this day. What happened to him in his childhood is a topic that has been well covered by this fandom, however pulsepoint uses it in a way I have not seen before. Abuse stories are typically told through the female perspective, and yet it is Edward who has seen some dark days. It effects him on a daily basis as he struggles to get by in his gypsy like life, and my heart breaks again and again for him.

This author uses this backstory to slowly reveal a very strong and very proud young man, who continues to deal with his past that manifests itself in the worst ways. As Bella begins to get to know the shut down and shut off Edward, she is confused by his rudeness, his lack of interest. She doesn't quite know how to handle this beautiful boy that seems so angry and so interesting at the same time. Like a moth to a flame, she is drawn to him without question, but can she handle the darkness that threatens to overwhelm him.

Edward continues to push Bella away, and Bella is refuses to back down. She is challenging, she is pushy, she is charming. And when these two finally begin to make their way towards an understanding, it isn't easy for either of them.

Why is this story so much better than others? There is an easiness to this writing, a clear sense of these characters. Despite Edward's outward abrasiveness, this author has crafted such layers without setting them up in an obvious way. Each little nugget of information is revealed slowly, and purposefully. And in a fandom littered with unearned fucking and canyon sized plot holes, this story gets you where you need to be exactly when you need to be there.

I am very easily entertained, I am not easily impressed. I read too many fics, and am admittedly distracted by shiny things. However, there are few that stay with me, that make me squeal like a fangirl when I see the alert in my inbox. Burn and Shine is one of those stories. I adore this fic, and encourage anyone that wants something to hold on to, that wants to feel and squeal and cry and laugh and watch two perfectly matched halves stumble towards their whole. And because I am who I am, heh heh...I said whole.

Ramona Quimby said never end a book report with "And if you want to know what happens next, read this book." I normally don't disagree with Ramona as a rule, but I am the kind of reader that can't stand knowing too much in advance. I hate when someone spoils a story for me by telling me chapter 12 when I am on 2. So I simply will not reveal anymore, I will just nudge you with my big toe in the direction of Burn and Shine by pulsepoint. Do not let another day go by without experiencing this world.

Now I want meatballs...anyone else?

Feathersmmmm is the genius creatoress of Clive (best O.C. ever), and the author of such wonderous fics as Edward Wallbanger and I Love LA. She loves Panera. She is also a tea-kettle giggling hostess on Twigasm. She is sorta super.

Thursday, November 19, 2009

Admin Essay: Judging Jasper

Judging Jasper is a Jarring Justification to Juggle Jubilation.

October was a very busy month for me. It wasn't so much writing as much as... reading. You see, I did this little thing in which I agreed to judge a contest. It was my very first and I was completely ignorant as to the specifics and rules and etiquette and... everything.
lovingly walked myself and the other judges
, and
through what was to be done.

I mean, look. I'm nobody. I'm in no position to judge anything. I haven't written much and what I HAVE written is barely certifiable as amateur. I have no illusions, but I was definitely honored and humbled to be asked to fill the position in the contest. It was like... a pretty big deal to me, you know?

I read a lot of Jasper fic. No. Really. Like... A LOT. I wasn't a skimmer, either. I had a spreadsheet, dudes. I was anal-retentive like you wouldn't believe. I wanted to rate every aspect and facet of each paragraph. I wanted to be thorough and find the gems, pick them out, rec them to the world, and ask the authors for continuations. Among the nearly 100 stories that I dutifully read, many stood out to me. Many of those were recognized as either winners or honorable mentions. But some of them didn't, and every judge has their favorites, as we're all individuals.

This is my list.

When I first spotted the pairing on this, my first reaction was utter shock. James/Jasper? Seriously? I mean... I didn't know if I could handle all that. Luckily, it wasn't 'like that'. I kept waiting for some slashy times, and was even... shamefully... a little disappointed that they were just friends. Of course the weirdness continued throughout this whole story. In a very good way, mind you.

James, the star of this fic, is a terminally ill dude. He's not villainous or bad or mean spirited. He's just a guy trying to make the best of the time he has left. That alone brought a little pang to my heart as I watched him struggle through his diagnosis, come to terms with his fate, console his mother, and deliver the news to his best friend, Jasper.

Jasper was waiting for me, just as we’d arranged.

“What’s new, bro?” He asked, grasping my hand and patting my back.

“Same shit,” I said.


“You said it.”

“You gonna have to go through all that treatment again? Shit dude.”

“Not this time,” I mumbled, pulling out my papers and rolling me a bad boy. Jasper offered me his lighter and I dragged that amber nectar in my lungs and savoured the burn.

“I should fucking quit, this shit’ll kill you.”

“Nah,” Jasper muttered. “Cancer kills you; smoking just makes you care less.”

Jasper is the quintessential wing man here, James' right hand man. We get a sense that they've been friends for a very long time, but it's not a cheesy friendship or anything. One of the most admirable facets of this story for me is how the author was able to keep us inside the head and relationship of two men. It's mutual, yet never overbearing, deep, yet never sickly sweet, and understanding, yet never unfeasible. Their

friendship is relateable and practical.

“We should put him out his misery,” Jasper suggested.

“I can’t,” I whispered. The dog was hurt, that much was obvious, and we had no cash on us to pay for vet bills. Besides, the new bank balance wouldn’t be enough. Those bills could be immense.

“We can’t leave him.” Jasper edged closer. “That’s inhumane, dude.”

“I can’t do it,” I said again, brushing my hand over the crispy fur. The blood was dry and I could only imagine how long this poor creature had lay here.

I don’t know why, but I felt tears fill my eyes. The alley was dirty and cold, and this dog was all alone and dying. Jasper was right. We should end his misery.

“Do you want me to do it?”He offered.

“You’re gonna have too, I can’t.” I stood and let him pass me.

“Shush,” I heard him whisper as he caressed the broken animal, and the dog whimpered, but looked back with eyes full of trust. It fucking killed me.

I turned and walked to the entrance and waited for him to do his job; I couldn’t watch.

I heard movement behind me but didn’t want to imagine what the fuck was going on behind me. Jasper eventually came and stood beside me; I handed him a roll up and we smoked in silence for a while.

“It was the right thing to do,” Jasper finally offered. He’d done the deed, but he was comforting me? This was fucked up shit and so like him; always neutralizing the crap out of any situation.

This story starts rolling when we're introduced to Victoria, a bank teller, and Jasper gets the brilliant idea that they should rob the bank she works at. James' mother will be left with all of his exorbitant medical bills once he passes and he longs to leave her something, anything to make it easier on her. Yeah, pang again. James agrees, and so begins their adventure of procuring the loot with which James will seal his final duty on earth. This whole bank heist could have easily been ridiculous and shark jumpy (can you jump the shark in a one-shot? Hmm...) but the author did a magnificent job of making it entirely logical, right down to the characters inside of the bank. I was on the edge of my seat until the final line, where I must admit, a few tears may have escaped.

“I have a plan,” he told me and I listened in disbelief as he regaled the finer details of bank robbery. It sounded absurd to even be discussing such a preposterous idea, but as he talked, I finally had to admit, it just might work.

“You’ll make sure she gets my share?” I asked him again as we sat in contemplation.

Jasper nodded. “Cross my heart Dude.”

“Fuck that shit! Do I look like a 13 year old school girl?”

He laughed and tussled up my hair. “With that pony tail? Fuck no.”

I moved my head away from his hand. I was proud of my hair; it had taken me two long years to grow it after I’d shaved it all off during treatment. It was evidence that I’d survived.

“You will do it then?” I asked him, my voice quiet this time.

“I always keep my word,” he said. He raised his hand and I met it with mine, palms slapped; comrade in arms.

What the fuck were we doing?

This story stuck with me weeks after I'd read. Nestled like a little gem amongst all of the romance fics in the contest, it was a breath of fresh air to read about the casual connection between two dudes--one just trying to make it in the world and the other trying to find an easy way out of it.

It's no big secret that I covet the well-written dry hump. It's no big secret that I covet the well-written slash fic. Combine these two things and I have an instant ficrection, straining against my proverbial ficzipper. Too much? Meh. I'd do the little 'boing' sound, but that seems kinda childish, considering, yeah?

Anyway, Need an Excuse starts out oddly enough, with Edward and Jasper breaking into Bella's house. Edward has taken a rather sizable blow to his ego when he was dumped by his girlfriend, Bella. She may have insulted his sexual performance upon ending the relationship. Edward is not amused and plans to steal Bella's much adored vibrator in order to vindicate himself. He drags along his poor, closeted gay friend, Jasper, who we find to have been nursing a secret crush on Edward for some time. Poor dude.

So, why was I helping my best friend get back at Bella for tearing his ego to shreds? Well, he’s my best friend for one, duh. That should really go without saying. My secondary line of thought was how I couldn’t understand why she felt she wasn’t getting the hottest piece of ass on the planet. Edward just exuded sex from every fucking pore and, while that drove me out of my God damn mind, it pissed me off even more to see that Bella didn’t appreciate that.

Needless to say, this otherwise harmless B&E (points for puns?) takes a turn for the worst when Bella comes home, forcing the two, symbolically, into a dark closet to hide from her. Oh, BFig, your symbolism is WIN WIN WIN! I'm ashamed to say, it took me a while to get it. Let's keep that between us, though, kay?

So... Bella comes home and decides to play with her little vibratey friend for a while. Resounding moans and overall hilarity ensue when Edward grows aroused by her vocal masturbation, which in turn, arouses Jasper, who is pressed just so close to him yummy friend...

I heard another chuckle from Edward. This time I just sighed and raised an eyebrow at him. What now?

“Dude, you’re hard.”

Oh fuck. Kill me now. Please.

“Close quarters, Bella’s dancing like a gypsy, can’t help it, man, I’m sorry.” He didn’t have to know that Beatnik’s dancing wasn’t doing anything for me.

“Don’t worry about it. I just wish I could turn around,”

Believe me. I wish you could, too.

So, what did he do? He shifted his body again, somehow thinking he can turn around.

And holy hell. I’m not the only one with a problem.

“Shut it, Jazz. Don’t you say a word.”

I swallowed hard and tried my damndest to keep my eyes from rolling in the back of my head.

“Wasn’t about to,” I lied.

Cue the hump.

And I mean... WOW.


The UST here is palpable! Edward just needs his little issue taken care of and figures that Jasper does too. After all, Bella is quite loud and what straight man wouldn't be turned on by all that moaning? Oh, you blind fucker. It's cool though. Edward makes up for it with a little friction in the form of humping.

But there's a clincher here, folks. The entirety of this dry hump?

It's vertical.


Right now, my hands were twitching by my sides as Edward’s were pressed against the wall behind me on either side of my waist. As his breaths turned to ragged pants, I felt his hands shift against the wall and work their way closer toward my body.

No way. No fucking way.

“I’m sorry…don’t be mad at me…I..I can’t help it,” he whispered in my ear.

I couldn’t say anything in response and thought my heart would stop when his hands settled on my hips. Instead of stopping, it sped up as I pressed harder against him.

“Jesus, Jasper…seems you need this as much as I do,” Edward gasped.

You have no fucking clue.

Off in some distant land I could hear Bella swiftly approaching her climax as her cries grew more insistent. And, of course, as the intensity and volume of her vocalizations increased, so did Edward’s. Soft, restrained moans and whimpers bathed my ear and he actually began to rhythmically grind his hips against me.

Good GOD, it's just too awesome for words. I'm growing incoherent even attempting. Bravo BFig for some of the best fanfriction I've read in a long time. Is it hot in here? Jesus. GUH.

I talked about this oneshot for weeks, making Touchstone67 fill people in with the title and author once I was out of proverbial earshot.

I just gave it my own name: Real Men Do it Vertically.

BFig, bb. You HAVE to continue this. You just... you just have to. I can't even imagine a reality in which you don't, okay? So just... dew eet!

"Oh. My God," Bella whispers. "Look at Edward. Look at what he's wearing. His hair- Jesus Christ. Do you think it's like that when he wakes up? Do you think he purposely does it like that? What do you think he tastes like? Do you think..."

She keeps going on and on, popping her gum and discussing the boy that had gotten out on the passenger side. Bella has a thing for Edward Cullen. But me? I can take him or leave him.

I'm a Jasper Whitlock kind of girl.

Jasper reaches up and brushes his disheveled, dirty blonde hair out of his eyes, and for a second, I swear my heart stops. He's holding his red, spiral notebook in one hand, and twirling his keys around the index finger of his other one. He's wearing nothing but a simple, tight, white t-shirt and his well worn, ripped and tattered jeans, which are hanging dangerously low and being held up by his signature, leather studded belt. I want to be that belt. The wallet chain hanging out of his pocket is pulling his pants further down. I can see his gray boxer briefs. I am in heaven.

I figured this was ooohlalalala once I finished. I'm a huge fan of her shit. Neighbor Boy was on my rec list for a long time, not to mention her multi-chaptered gems which consumed me for days at a time.

Lost and Found offers us the very appealing and rebellious pair of friends, Edward and Jasper. They're pretty much those two dudes in high school that were bad ass without trying, unattainable to all, but spoken of often. Alice and Bella are the underclass(wo)men, swooning from afar, inspecting and obsessing over what the duo might be like, should anyone have the balls to find out. Well, this wouldn't be an awesome fic if someone didn't.

It's Alice who first breaches, meeting Jasper by chance at a cafe while sneaking out of her house one night. They talk a little, kiss a little, then Edward and Jasper take her home. For Alice it's basically like spending an hour with... idk who the kids like nowadays, but I'll say Jackson Rathbone, cause he's yummy and it fits, kay? Anyway, he ends up showing up at her house the next night, where she sneaks out again, runs to his truck (did I tell you he drives a truck? Why is this hot? Fuck if I know) and promptly makes out with him.

This goes on and on and Alice is plunged into a nightly routine of sweaty truck cab romps with her fantasy beau. Eventually, this isn't enough, and we see more than a little angst as Alice come to terms with being a

very likely fling.

The real clincher of this fic is Jasper and oooohlalalalala's portrayal of him. His is J.I.L.F.y like a mofo, folks.

Because Jasper and Edward don't give anyone the time of day. Not ever. They sit against the brick wall of the cafeteria outside during lunch and they smoke cigarettes, sometimes joints when they‘re feeling extra bad. They skip gym class and drink beer under the bleachers by the track while everyone else is running. They lean against Jasper's locker and talk about classic rock music and cars. They are the epitome of cool, and they don't even try.

They just are. They just always have been.

One day last year, Jasper was leaning against his locker with just his shoulders, and his hips were out in front of him, and his shirt rode up and I saw his treasure trail and I swear I almost wet myself because that was the day I found out he has a tattoo. No one in Forks High has a tattoo- well, except for maybe Edward but I've never seen his so I don't care. I don't know exactly what Jasper's says, but it's black and near his pelvic bone, and I made it my personal goal in life to find out what that tattoo says. And maybe to see how it tastes.

Ooooohlalalalala captures the essence of teenage UST, angst, confusion, wit, and hormonal sex drives once again. How does she DO it? I don't know, but I kinda want to marry her a little (lot). I know, she's no longer writing new fic. I KNOW! MY HEART IS BROKEN INTO A MILLION PIECES AND I CAN NOT SPEAK OF THIS FOR I WILL LOSE MY SHIT.

The end.

It ain't easy being a southern dude. Darlin' britches, you gotta get your twang on the up and up, or I'll get flouncy before you can spittle on yer griddle.

Not an issue here! AHelm and Ilsuocantante capture the atmosphere of the south and Blessing, TX (Which I'm told exists) with such perfect clarity, that I can taste the red clay dirt and feel my pits getting all moist

and gross.



Well, it's named after a Skynard song, so already, I'm cautiously intrigued by default. Bella, attorney at law and big city girl with a penchant for pencil skirts. Jasper, attorney at law, down home boy, raising his little firm from his sexy little bootstraps. Their clients? Sam and Leah Uley, of course.

Whitlock and Associates was actually a bit of a joke, seeing as it was really just me.

I guess you could call it wishful thinking, but I really hoped that one day, it would be an accurate statement.

I’d opened the office six months prior and worked my ass off to get where I was. I’d graduated with my law degree a year before and moved back to the tiny town I’d been born in, Blessing, Texas. There were less than a thousand people there, but my grandparents, who’d raised me, thanks to my absent mother and father, lived in Blessing and therefore, it was where my heart resided.

There's no catch here to Jasper. I mean, being southern doesn't exactly mean that you can expect him to be chewing on a piece of straw and wearing a ten gallon stetson. That's what I love so much about this Southernsper. He's no different from everyone else. Ahelm and ilsuocantante didn't feel it necessary to exaggerate his roots in his dialog and gestures. He's just a normal dude with manners, a love for a small town, and a desire to keep things... simple.

Each placed on one end of a rather nasty divorce case, Jasper and Bella are forced to collaborate over... legal... stuff. I'm not versed in this subject, kay? Jasper is all hot and my mind wanders. Bella uses his office for some much hard-to-come-by broadband internet, Jasper admires her from afar, one thing leads to another, bada bing, bada boom...

I have to admire the smut written here. I noted it, clearly impressed by the writers' ability to keep the moment fresh and as intense as it should have been.

I took him in my hand, hard and hot and throbbing and the needy groan that tore from him was an echo of my own. His hands grazed my thighs, pushing my skirt to my hips as they ascended. He pulled back from my breasts, watching his hand as it palmed me through my panties. I was drenched and aching and even that small touch sent shockwaves through my body. One finger stole beneath my underwear, sinking into my heat, stroking my flesh, tearing a whimper from me with the intensity of his simple touch.

I'd never felt anything so raw; I was pure sensation.

You ever read one of those stories that is either complete shit or pure genuis, depending on the intention? I mean... I was pretty sure this was crackfic, but guys... I read like 100 fics and the quality was... ahem... varying, if you know what I mean. So I kept floundering, certain at one moment that it was crackfic--which made it AWESOME--but then I'd get a little wishy washy and wonder if the author wasn't being serious--which would have made it NOT awesome.

I've concluded that it's crackfic. I know it is. It has to be. And this is why it's GENIUS. Pure, shining, hilarious glory.

Jasper is a cat, and well, we don't 'get' that right away, so he just seems a little... freakishly skiddish, and... a little demented, yeah?

I jumped off the bed and followed Alice downstairs. Edward and Bella were talking quietly on the couch. Alice snuck up behind them and whispered, “Spread your legs, Bella, because you are seventeen now,” into Bella’s ear. This was something she had been doing quite often, and I found myself laughing every time she did it. It never got old.

I always brushed up against Bella and went between her legs when Alice said something like that. It was true; you could often see the beginning of cobwebs forming between Bella’s legs.

I was all, "WOAH! What?" Then I was all, "Dude. Tell Edward to go fuck himself or something, wtf?" Then I was all, "Wait. What?" Then I was all, "Is this serious?" Then I was all, "BWAHAHAHAHAHAHAHA." It's gold, people. Alice is his owner/protector/maker-of-jokes-about-Bella's-cobwebby-private-regions. She's deliciously melded with all of those recognizable fic cliches in the most hilarious of ways.

As Alice and I walked in to the dining room I could see why Alice had been so busy all day. It was like Barbie had vomited, and all she had eaten all day strawberries. Every surface was pink; pink table cloth, pink glasses, a huge pink cake and pink balloons. Oh balloons, my favorite! They won’t mind if I pop them. Alice looked at me right at that second and said, “Don’t you dare pop those balloons, Jaspy! I spent hours blowing them up.” Then she turned to Bella and quipped, “Blowing. Bella, you should try it.”

Same goes for Edward and Bella, the couple that is but isn't. Even Esme and Carlisle are bearing the stigma of fandom abuse in all of their parently disregard. In a funny way. I'm not explaining this very well, am I? You just have to read. It's quick, lighthearted, hilarious, snort-out-your-Dr. Pepper awesome.

I'll leave you with this totally glorious New Moon rendition, if everyone were human. And Jasper was a... cat.

I could sense how Bella was feeling (I could always sense people's emotions). She was nervous and scared. She wouldn’t be so scared if she would just open her legs. Jeez there must be really big cobwebs up there by now! Bella was playing with the sparkly object, and Edward was looking at her the way I look at tuna yum dinner. I began to get obsessed with this sparkly fabric. I crouched low on the couch


I wanted to play with that sparkly fabric. I could not wait to get my hands on it, to run my nails through it. Heaven! Mid-pounce, I felt something throw me back. I looked up and saw that Edward, of course, had knocked me away from getting to the wooly sparkles. Damn him, always ruining my fun.

I Always Knew was one of my favorite angst fics of this contest. The author gave us a history and allowed us to progress with the characters. I also secretly adore tomboy Alice with her bravery and tenacity and willingness to get dirty with the boys without being prissy. Her character is endearing from the very start.

Jimmy and I looked at each other, before he shook his head. “You’re a girl, so you can’t be a pirate. Only boys are pirates. Girls get rescued from pirates.”

She stomped her foot again and glared at him. It was an intimidating look, even at such a young age. Jimmy shifted uncomfortably.

“I am a pirate,” she said with distinction and a low growl. “Not a girl.”

“Okay,” I said agreeably, making her straighten and look over in surprise. After a moment, a huge grin lighted her face.


I shrugged. She had been saying she was a pirate, so why was she asking me?

“Thank you, thank you, thank you!” she exclaimed, rushing forward and wrapping her arms around me. I froze unsure what to do, and looked at Jimmy in a panic. He looked just as scared by her as I was.

“Uh…” I said slowly. “I don’t think pirates hug.”

Jimmy nodded his fervent agreement, and the girl immediately stepped away, scowling and nodding. “Of course. I knew that,” she insisted.

So, you get another on of those... years pass, they're bound at the hip, Jasper discovers that girls are pretty and in turn, so is Alice, and BAM! You have the setup for some pretty nice angst. We even get a little attached to Jasper's sensible, loving mother. Well, before the author promptly kills both of Jasper's parents in a fatal car accident. Viva la angst!

Jasper has to go away to Texas to live with his only remaining relatives, where he grows up in a hostile atmosphere full of bitterness for his new life and his anguish at having lost his perfect one. We're pulled into his journey when he finds Maria during high school and, out of apathy, allows her to manipulate him into doing her dark deeds and satisfying her every whim.

Maria loved to gamble. Especially in underground fighting. Before I even realized what was happening, she had me fighting. I hated it, because these people didn’t care if they killed you or if you were hurt so badly that you were never the same. Maria told me I had a talent for it, and pointed out how I always seemed less sulky afterward. That was her reason that she gave for pressuring me into the fights.

She made money off of me, and then she spent it on drugs, alcohol, and Lord knows what else.

Eventually, she had a few other guys who fought for her. She had a just-above crappy house that we all lived in. The other guys mainly hated me, because I was her favorite. The favorite fighter, the favorite lover, the favorite in fucking general. They didn’t know how fucking lucky they were not to have so much of her attention.

Two years of my life was spent like this. Fighting. Drugs. Drinking. Maria. Fighting. Maria. Drinking. Drugs. Maria. It was monotonous, unfulfilling, and I spent much of my time when I wasn’t doing one of the aforementioned staring into space and trying to ignore the aching hollow in me.

Jasper's self-described 'hollowness' is often palpable and very vivid to the reader. After a moment of clarity, he eventually decides that he doesn't want to live under Maria's thumb anymore, at which point, we feel a ray of light that just proves how good angst is. IDK. When I can feel hope, I know it's because I've spent so much of the story with a lack of it, you know? This is what gets me about this story. I'm hoping for Jasper, in his place, as he finally decides that enough is enough.

He returns to Georgia and his childhood neighborhood and is reunited with Alice and her mother, who manage to pull from him the tale of his life post-Texas. All in all, this one-shot is a journey, Jasper taking us along for his rollercoaster ride. I feel like it really captured the essence of the contest theme, to explore Jasper's mind and emotions, his logic for reacting to certain situations, and his loyalty to what he eventually finds passion for.

The original title for this banner award was "AngstGoddess003-s Favorite Holy Fucking Christ, Why Don't I Just Hand You The Razorblades Now and You can Just Fucking Slit My Wrists First and Save Me the Agony, Okay? JFC.

But that didn't fit.

This fandom has a new fascination with death lately, and I don't mean the usual "kill Bella so you can fuck her without shattering her pelvis" kind of death obsession, either. It's everywhere I look, it seems. Deadward deadward deadward. I get the pull to writing tragedy, I do. I love angst just as much as the next psycho. I think the first story to really jump out at me in the recent string of tragedy was Always Charmed. It is such a sweet story, the growth and tale of Bella and Jasper's childhood friendship. The author does a magnificent job at showing its progression and maturity over the years.

It all starts with a charm bracelet that Jasper gave Bella in first grade when they were selected to be one anothers' Secret Santa.

“Merry Christmas to you, too. Aren’t you going to open your present?” he asked, his knee bouncing in excitement under his desk.

I looked down at the little red box perched in front of me. I opened the lid and this time it was my mouth that was gaping open.

Inside was a thin silver bracelet with one tiny charm - a Texas Ranger star.

“My Mom said that girls like jewelry. And I wanted something that you would remember was from me. Do you like it?” he asked apprehensively, his knee still bouncing wildly.

I was more of a tom boy than most girls and didn’t really like jewelry all that much. But there was something about that tiny silver bracelet that made me want to wear it immediately, and every day thereafter.

“I really like it, Jasper, thank you. Will you help me put it on?”

As they grew inseparable, Jasper proceeded to give Bella new charms for her bracelet, each one symbolizing something unique and special to their bond. I know, that seems so gross fluffy, but the author does such a fantastic job of making this relatable and all together, sweet, but not nauseating. I got lost in the connection between the two, picking out little signs as I went that showed that, maybe, Jasper was feeling more for Bella than simple friendship.

Then comes the fail.

God, I'm choking up just thinking about it.

Jasper is sick with a bad heart condition and needs a new one. Bella is lost and trying to remain strong for him, but we can feel her palpable agony in every sentence.

And then... the heart comes, but...

And then I didn’t have to wait anymore, because I could feel it. I didn’t need to see the somber-looking doctor walking down the hall toward the waiting room where Jasper’s parents and I were lingering. I didn’t need to hear him say the words. I didn’t even need to feel the linoleum bruising my knees as I fell to the floor in my deep blue prom dress.

I could feel him leave me, leave me soul.

He dies.



He leaves Bella packages and instructions to only open each one when the occasions arrive. There's one for graduation, for which she opens to find a new charm for her bracelet: a little silver diploma. The final charm, the twenty fifth charm, is Bella's favorite flower, and she opens it, as instructed, on the day she gets married.

Heartrending isn't even a strong enough word for this story. I'm literally, crying right now having read it once again. God, this is embarrassing.
There were so many more, honestly, but I couldn't banners for all twenty and blurbs and... sigh. I'm just so busy with
stuff, but I do hope that everyone will give a looksie to the above stories and not neglect the very awesome
For the Love of Jasper archive
, simply because the contest is over.

To see the winners of the contest, please visit
The FtLoJ Blog

Thanks so much for reading! ♥

Angstgoddess003 is the angst-loving, dry-hump promoting author of Wide Awake and Withering the Ferns. If you didn't notice, she also happens to have a Jasper fetish. She also likes to curse and rant about ASCII code and unlubricated slashin' and the social dynamic among her cats. She's the nicest, most-giving person ever. (And yes, Pastiche wrote this bit.)

Wednesday, November 18, 2009

Riting School: It Started Once Upon a Time

Once Upon A Time…

Getting your multi-chapter story off the ground.

I get comments like this a lot:

I have this great idea for a story and I really want to write it. I’ve never written a long story before, so how do I get started? Do I need to do an outline?

For you seasoned writers who know this stuff, bear with me and consider this a refresher course. I’m directing this article at first-time writers who’ve been bitten by the bug and have an itch that needs to be scratched (not that itch, pervs). So my plan is, when I (or other writers) get this question, we can simply point the inquirer to this wee lil article, complete with pretty formatting and examples.

12 Steps to Pre-Novel Planning

In grad school, there was always an undercurrent of fear when fellow creative writers mentioned they were slated to take “The Long Project.” This class was a semester of getting that novel they’d always wanted to write off the ground, churning out chapter after chapter, then laying themselves bare for brutal feedback during peer workshops. (Some of you fanfic writers might be wondering what the big deal is. Well, congratulations—if you’ve already experienced life as a “chapter machine” and had debates with reviewers over your work, then you’ve one-upped many CW grad students.) This class also took the ideas floating in our heads and made them tangible realities—realities that often require year-long commitments, which can be kind of scary. But when your lil idea baby grows up and you complete the story, you’ll have such an incredible feeling of accomplishment and euphoria.

Before you actually begin writing your first chapter, a strong foundation needs to be laid. Trust me that doing the prep work will save you a lot of headaches in the long run.

1. Finding an Idea

They say truth is stranger than fiction. So true. The best story ideas come from simply opening your eyes and being aware of what is happening around you…

  • Spend a day people-watching at an airport or a park, and let your imagination grip you.

  • Visit a museum and read the displays not for information, but for story ideas.

  • Scour newspapers and media sites for those odd little news bites, and build on them.

  • Flip through your old photo albums, diaries, and yearbooks—mine your own experiences.

  • Go to the library, pull three random books off the shelf, and weave a story with them.

  • When you have interesting dreams, take note—Stephenie Meyer did (ker-ching!).

Tip: Buy a little notebook you can carry in your purse or bag to jot down ideas. They will hit you when you least expect them, so record your light bulb moments before you forget.

2. The Story Map

Your story map will shift and change as you write, but it is exactly that: your story’s map. When you take a trip with a destination in mind, you need a map to help you get there. That is the purpose of your story map—as you write, it will help you stay on course so you don’t write yourself into a dead end.

Once you have your idea, it’s time to get your basic story map down (keep in mind this will grow and shift as you develop your plot and characters). But to begin with…

  • Tell your story in a general way, and freeze at moments when the story shifts. These are actions or events that cause your main character’s course to shift. Think Back to the Future and the whole parallel universe thing.

  • Highlight your top ten most important story shift moments. This is the core of your story—the moments you are always building toward. (E.g., In Twilight, the first major story shift occurs when Bella lays eyes on Edward Cullen and vice-versa. That’s a game-changer.)

  • Identify generic conflicts of your book (E.g., Bella loves a vampire, Cullens have a secret life).

3. Geographic Setting

Aside from theme, nothing gets ignored more than the geographic setting of a story. Remember, “place” is a character, too—an important one. The setting shapes who your characters are, the types of conflicts they might struggle with, even the style and tone of your writing. Before you start developing your characters, identify your location. And this requires research. Even if you plan to falsely depict a location (hello, trendy boutique-infested Port Angeles), at least know in what ways you are fictionalizing a place.

  • Is your story set in a depression-era mining town western Pennsylvania? Find out what you can about the location—the scenery, the climate, demographics, culture, history, special events, unique characteristics.

  • Find a map of the location you are writing about or patterning a fictional place after. If this is a fantasy story and there is no map, create one yourself.

  • Pick a visual representation of your story which embodies not only the place, but the mood. This is your “banner.”

4. Historical Events

Another key element of developing your story’s sense of place is the time. If your story is depression era Pennsylvania, research events that are happening at a world level, then national, then regional, then local.

  • List key events that were of importance to the people in the time period you are writing about, even if it’s present day.

  • Have a good understanding about what events would have influenced your characters. Is this Vietnam era? Then your main characters might be worried about the draft. The Civil Rights Movement would have also had huge influences.

5. Central Characters

Once you’ve researched your setting, you’ll have a better picture in your head of your central characters (e.g., Twilight’s central characters are Edward and Bella). In fact, ideas may be flying from your brain too fast to jot down. So now it’s time to lay the groundwork for character development. I can’t stress how important this step is—having a solid sense of who your characters are and how they react will shape the rest of your story. It will make or break it. Sketching a character is a valuable way to understand a character’s personality, appearance, desires, motivations, strengths and weaknesses.

Character sketches should include:
  • list of defining character traits, strengths and weaknesses

  • paragraph with brief history

  • 1-2 sentences on character’s primary and secondary conflicts/motivations

  • picture closely resembling your character

I’ve used this character sketch example before in my “Baddies” series, but I’ll pull it up again for reference:


Character traits:

  • Is evil and wicked, but sure could fool us!
  • ‘Father of Lies’
  • Speaks beautifully
  • Oozes sex appeal
  • Epic warrior qualities (brave, fierce fighter, regal appearance)
  • Desires power
  • Jealous
  • Filled with hate, rage, vengeance
  • He’s the first rebel (today, he’d ride a motorcycle, smoke ciggies, wear a leather jacket, and have a sexy bouffant ala James Dean. Dean, I said. Not the other bouffanted beauty).
  • The great Mick Jagger describes him as “a man of wealth and taste, been around for a long, long year…”

Backstory: He’s been cast out of Heaven by God after leading an epic rebellion, and is trapped on a rock in the middle of a fiery lake. He was an angel of light—Lucifer—who fell after growing greedy for power. His tragic flaw is his desire for power and revenge. While he may be beautiful, speak seductively, and sometimes appears as a phallic serpent to a virginal young woman whose name starts and ends with an ‘E’, don’t be fooled—he’s sided with evil instead of good.

Character’s Primary conflict: Satan wants revenge on God for booting him out of heaven and into, literally, the fiery pits of Hades. He’s out to hit God where it hurts the most.

Character’s Secondary conflict: Adam is such a goody-two-shoes, there’s no way in hell Satan (pardon the pun) will get him to bite the forbidden fruit. Eve, on the other hand…

6. Central Theme

Once you’ve developed your basic story map, setting, and characters, you’ll start to see themes, or “subject matters,” naturally emerging. This is slightly different from your conflict, in that it’s broader (but your conflict is almost always rooted in your theme). To find your theme…

  • Do some brainstorming—what would the “prom themes” be for your story? What naturally emerges when you think about your plot and your characters? (E.g., several Twilight themes include Personal Choice, Love, Isolation, Mortality, Sacrifice, Appearance.)

  • Once you’ve come up with your themes, write a couple of sentences about how and why each plays a part in your story.

7. Primary Conflict

Now that you’ve explored the depths of your story’s foundation a bit more, time to revisit those initial conflicts you jotted down. Given what you now know about your characters, setting, and theme, has anything changed? Do you have new ideas?

  • Write a paragraph summarizing what the main conflict of your story is and why. (E.g., the main conflict of Twilight is that Bella is human and Edward is a vampire…therefore, we have a star-crossed lovers scenario).

  • How will this conflict play out? What sort of resolution will it have?

8. Secondary Conflict

You’ve identified your primary conflict, so take a look at your characters and setting, and think about what sort of secondary conflicts might develop. Take into consideration both internal and external conflicts…

  • Which of your characters’ traits and motivations might cause them to clash with others? Do any conflicts emerge?

  • What about internal conflicts? Perhaps one of your central characters is at war with him/herself? (E.g., an internal secondary conflict of Twilight is Edward’s abhorrence of his vampire nature).

  • Now factor in the setting and time period. Does that exacerbate anything? Are outside forces brewing that might cause trouble for your characters? (E.g., an external secondary conflict of Twilight would be James’ desire to kill Bella.)

9. Supporting Characters

You’d got your central characters down, as well as your conflicts. You have a better idea of what roles will need to be filled, and by what type of character. Let’s do your casting call—sketching your supporting characters. Supporting (or secondary) characters are not your central characters, nor are they your minor characters. (E.g., Supporting characters in Twilight would include Charlie, Renee, Alice, Carlisle, James, Jacob). These are the characters that have crucial roles to play in your plot by their presence, or even absence (as in Renee’s case).

  • Identify at least five supporting characters

  • Do a character sketch for each

  • Find a picture representation of your character (or draw one if you can’t find one)

Tip: Unless you are writing a melodrama, don’t create perfectly good (or bad) people, or your characters will be flat. Sometimes it’s easy to fall into the “heroine is victimized” trap, so be aware…everyone has flaws.

10. Exploration of Tenses and Point-of-View

We’re almost ready to dive into your story, yay! Just a few things to take care of, stylistically (for a more in-depth look at uncovering your story’s style, see a previous Riting Skool article, “Bella’s Got Style”). Before you begin writing, decide which tense fits the story you want to tell. Will you use a first-person narrator or a third-person narrator with multiple points of view?

I could go into in-depth analysis of why certain POVs and tenses work better for particular stories (again, see “Bella’s Got Style”). But here’s a very practical trick…

  • Pick one of your moments from your story map and begin writing that scene in 1st person, past tense. Make sure you include both scene (dialogue and action) and summary (reflection, backstory).

  • Once you’ve written an excerpt, now rewrite it using lots of different tense and POV combinations. Maybe even try telling the story in 1st person from an unlikely character’s perspective (how would Twilight change if Carlisle told the story?). As you repeat the excerpt in different tenses, you’ll begin to see which combinations come more naturally to the story you want to tell. Some spark while others feel like pounding the wrong puzzle piece into place.

It’s not uncommon for writers to get halfway through a book and find they are struggling to write their story. Often, the problem is not the plot itself, but who is telling it and how. If find yourself in this situation, experiment with tenses and POVs again. You may want to consider rewriting the entire thing from a different perspective (I did this with my thesis—the rewrite was a nightmare, but the end result was magic).

11. Visual Motif

This is another of those fancy stylistic things that sounds difficult, but is actually a very simple way to add depth and cleverness to your story. A “visual motif” (or narrative motif) is a reoccurring object, description, place, idea, or statement that reflects your story’s themes. This is not just an extended metaphor, though the use of metaphor is certainly part of creating a motif. Visual motifs intensify a reader’s experience by giving them tangible symbols to emphasize your theme.

  • The trick to developing a strong visual motif is subtlety. Don’t beat readers over the head with overt symbols. A handful of well-placed variations should do the trick.

  • Avoid cliché symbolism—be creative with your imagery.

A good example of an effective and creative visual motif is used in Cormac McCarthy’s The Road (OMG, I can’t wait to see this movieeee!). The story takes place after the breakdown of social order, followed by the complete devastation of all living things. (Even dialogue punctuation rules have been discarded by McCarthy, which is just damned brilliant.) Thus, it is a fight for survival for those few humans who are left—a theme of “Death and Life.” Throughout his novel, McCarthy uses bleak, stark visual images of ruined wasteland, destroyed homes, cities, rural and urban civilization to emphasize his theme. Here’s just one example:

"The land was gullied and eroded and barren. The bones of dead creatures sprawled in the washes. Middens of anonymous trash. Farmhouses in the fields scoured of their paint and the clapboards spooned and sprung from the wallstuds. All of it shadowless and without feature. The road descended through a jungle of dead kudzu." (McCarthy)

In the end, as the story’s theme comes full circle, McCarthy’s series of subtle visual motifs now fit together in a stunning, completed puzzle.

As you write, consider what sort of visual motifs organically grow from your setting. How do they emphasize your themes?

12. Beginning and End

Hurrah! Are you ready to just do it already? (Geez you pervs, I swear.) It’s time to start writing. But…remember how I mentioned at the beginning of this lil 12-step program that you need to know where you are going? Well, you last step is to actually write where you are going. Before you start cranking out chapters, write your opening scene and your ending scene. Your ending is likely to need rewriting by the time you actually get there. But writing it at the onset will get it out of the way, and give you something tangible to work toward.

Having a beginning point and an ending point sets your course. Now you just have to fill in the chapters between.

There’s the meat of laying the foundation for your story. The rest of that stupid “Long Project” course is just suffering through workshops, getting feedback that makes you cry and drink, and ignoring half that feedback because it’s coming from other CWs who only skimmed your story anyway, and had to come up with something clever to say during workshop.

I’ve saved you a semester of tears and hangovers and egos. You can thank me later.

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.

Monday, November 16, 2009

FandomFluff: The Importance of Being Edward

The Importance of Being Edward

Hoosier Mama

One of my son’s high school classmates is named Gilbert. And he goes by…Gilbert.

I was totally jazzed to hear it.

“Awww that’s so sweet!”

“Why in the world would you think the name ‘Gilbert’ is sweet?”

I explained to my son that his mom probably named him after Gilbert Blythe.

“And who in the world is Gilbert Blythe?” He sounded irritated.

“The guy from Anne of Green Gables,” I replied. “The one Anne falls in love with and marries.”

For some reason my 16-year old son could not wrap his mind around the concept that parents would actually name their child after the love interest of a literary character. I tried to explain.

“Gilbert was a sweetie. And I suppose Gilbert is a better name to call your son than…Darcy.”

“Darcy is a girl’s name, mom.”

“Yeah, I wonder how that happened…”

He rolled his eyes at me. He does that a lot.

“Look, the equivalent today would be naming your son ‘Edward’…you know, the character from...”

“I know, I know.” He shuddered mockingly.
In ten to fifteen years, will high schools be populated with ‘Edward’s and ‘Bella’s? I don’t know but I do know what Shakespeare had to say on the subject…

What’s in a name? That which we call a rose by any other name would smell as sweet.-(Juliet, from Romeo and Juliet)

Yeah, well, clearly Shakespeare never wrote Twilight fan fiction. A name means everything to us. It tells us immediately who will get the girl in the end (or in a slash fic, who gets the guy in the…never mind). The point is, we immediately know who our friends are, who we’re going to despise, and who we want to see roasted for all eternity on a slow spit in the fiery depths of hell.

A beautiful strawberry blonde shows up in a fic named Tanya; what’s our immediate visceral reaction? No, No, No! She wants Edward; stay away from him, Bitch!

A friendly, good-looking guy meets Bella and introduces himself as…James. What do we readers feel? No, No, No! Don’t go out with him! He’s evil!

Angela = good. Lauren=bad.

Then there’s this new guy in the story. He could be anything from an unrepentant serial killer to a priest, but as soon as we read that name… Edward…we don’t care what he is or what he’s done. We simply relax, knowing that on some deeply satisfying level, we’ve found our man.

Just as Gwendolen would never marry a man unless his name was Ernest in Oscar Wilde’s play, we would never fall for a man in a fanfic unless his name was Edward.

(I’m sorry…I’ll never understand you Team Jacob types.)

It seems strange to me that we enjoy (ok, not just enjoy, but drool obsessively over) reading assorted stories that use the same names and descriptive appearances (messy bronze hair; chocolate brown eyes) for characters yet somehow we never grow tired of them. Doesn’t that seem odd? Doesn’t that take something away from the reading experience?

In order to keep some element of surprise, I thought if I ever wrote a multi-chapter fic, I would give Edward a nickname, so readers would be kept in the dark about his identity until the end. Or I would give a couple of guys the name Edward to keep readers in suspense as to which one Bella should actually be falling for. (I know - stupid idea. It would be way too confusing.) Maybe I wouldn’t use any of Stephenie’s names at all…but then it occurred to me that if the story were about Bill and Susan, I wouldn’t be writing Twilight fan fiction; I would be writing a damn Harlequin romance and…Eeew! Where’s the fun in that?

This is when I realized, we fanfic readers like knowing our characters ahead of time. Just like a favorite series of books or TV shows, or movies, it’s comforting knowing these individuals as well as we do and figuring out what the author has in store for them. The suspense comes with not knowing how our well-loved, familiar characters will respond to any certain situation.

Plus not everything in the Twi-dom is a given based on a character’s name.

A character named Jacob gets introduced. Hhmmm, suspicious... He could either be trouble with a capital T or a loyal best friend/big brother type. He’s ambiguous; we have to read more to figure out which incarnation of Jacob the author is using.

Or, my favorite, Jacob could simply be the name of Edward’s or Bella’s pet dog.

This knowing the true character of a character reminds me of an old silent movie that later became a fun play called, “The Perils of Pauline”. The dastardly villain wore a black cape and a fake handlebar mustache and every time he appeared on stage the audience would eagerly hiss and boo. Whenever the handsome good guy would walk on with a wide, toothy smile, the audience would stand, applaud and whistle appreciatively. In the fandom, we relish knowing who we’re rooting for and who we can metaphorically throw rotten tomatoes at in a story…and we can, based on their names.

So, a rose by any other name may in fact, smell as sweet. But in Twi fan fiction, no other name will suffice to describe the perfect tortured soul we all love to love, but Edward.

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

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