The Pride and Perils of Fanfiction Decadence

See? Fanfiction. Not for general consumption.

Fanfiction. Not for general consumption. Ultra Magnus © Hasbro. I’m not certain I’d like to admit that I created Arty, but there’s always a special place in my heart for her. Maybe, if she’d quit the bottle and take up yoga. But I digress.

Yes, I am guilty of this. But can one be truly guilty if it helps towards one’s writing career?

I’ll admit: I started writing Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles fanfiction back in 1991. That’s twenty years ago. No, you may not read it. Not because it was horrible (it was) but also because I sent them off Viking-Funeral-Pyre style, minus the boat, in the backyard of my friends the Pyromaniacs Bullards in 2005. There may have been gasoline involved.

Thankfully, those never saw the light of the internet.

The Gargoyles and Transformers fanfiction, on the other hand, did make it online. And whilst I’m not (completely) ashamed by them, I do see them as a bit…juvenile.

For starters, yes, I was a blatant abuser of the Mary Sue (that would be Gargoyles, between the years of 1996 and 2000, with a revisit in 2005, I believe, to finish up a story which had been sitting on my harddrive for five years.) Without going into too much detail, main “original” character, female, love interest of one of the popular main characters, daughter of established character-reformed-villain (Dude, Macbeth rocked harder than Manowar at 120 decibels), had fae blood, cursed, et cetera, et cetera, et cetera, ad nauseum.

Then came the Transformers revival, which actually happened around 1997 and took root in fanfiction in either ’98 or ’99. From a writing evolution point of view, I suppose, looking at TMNT was crawling out of the primordial ooze, Gargoyles was developing opposable thumbs, and Transformers was the dawn of modern warfare.

Around the time I lost interest writing Gargoyles coincided with my discovery of the Mary Sue. It was too late to save my current character, so I killed her off. Just like George R.R. Martin, only he kills everyone we like. Except Vesyris. I’ve never wished death on a character so badly. But I digress. Returning to Transformers, the next “original” character went into Anti-Sue. She was a classic “wrong place, wrong time” “victim” whom, stemming from one bad choice in her past, ended up untrustworthy, an alcoholic, used by everyone (and vice versa) and ultimately befriending other unsavoury characters. And accidentally getting hold of the Matrix, and thus causing the Autobots to descend into a bloody civil war which was a catalyst into the birth of the Maximals and Predacons, which during the Beast Wars the character attempted to seek redemption — still failed at that too. Still cheesy, still fanfiction, but damn it all to Unicron if it didn’t really whet my taste for tormenting characters and royally destroying worlds and universes, let alone character development.

And heavens to Metroid, all of my fanfiction arcs were connected by using Michael Moorcock’s Eternal Champion concept as well as breaking the fourth wall. At least once in an arc, a character would comment on how the current events reminded them of a Moorcock novel.

But I digress.

So what is my point, asketh the reader of this blog? Where are you going, oh rambler in the night?

Simple: when fanfiction crosses over into original fiction.

Apologies in advance, Christine; I’m bringing this up.

Hubs, the amazingly multi-talented man that he is–and no, you can’t have him, and yes, he did just walk up behind me–did cover art for some of Christine Morgan’s earlier books, published through Sabledrake. We had met Christine through the Gargoyles fandom, and I’ve even read a good chunk of these ‘fics as well. (And seriously, if you didn’t know who Jericho was, you weren’t too deeply in the Gargoyles fandom.) But back on topic, Brian, as part of the payment, received copies of each book of which he did the cover. Understand one thing about Brian: he loves to write, hates to read. He reads my stuff, but only because I threaten vegetarian meals on him if he doesn’t. So naturally, these books don’t get read. Curious, being a fan of her fanfiction, I picked up Black Roses.

There’s something about fanfiction: it’s appealing when one is in a darkened room late at night with a cuppa in reach and the mouse cradled in your palm, scrolling down as one reads on a monitor the words of a known fictional universe. When it comes to original fiction, it’s best curled up in one’s favourite chair with some music and that same cuppa as one turns the pages.

I have a hard time meshing the two, so when I finished Black Roses (and for me to finish something, there needs to be a certain level of grammatical correctness involved,) I felt as though I’ve read a Gargoyles fanfiction with slight name changes.

This is an obscure, cult reference. Christine is known in fantasy and fandom circles, but if I asked a random patron here at the library if one knew of her, one’d give me a blank look.

Now, something a little more mainstream: Cinder by Marissa Meyer. Now here we have an extremely well-written young adult novel, and, as I had reported back to my friend Ellen of the Children’s Book Cellar, predictable but enjoyable. But it was Jenny whom picked up on this, as she was more of a fan of this fandom than I: Marissa brings up in her acknowledgements a Sailor Moon message board.

Oh, snap, now that makes sense. And what little I know of Sailor Moon (some of Sailor Moon R and the live action series, which is too fun with its gratuitous panty shots…but I digress) comes crashing into my realisation. I’d still recommend the book, but at the same time, I now visualise Prince Kai, as Tuxedo Kamen.

Now, even more of a horror upon horrors for me. Even though she runs a shop called Children’s Book Cellar, Ellen does have adult books in stock, and yes, she does carry Fifty Shades of Grey  by E.L. James. My first introduction to this series was from an art buddy of mine, whom recommended it with a caveat: “It has a great plot, but don’t think too deeply in the grammar.”

Now let’s step back here. What was the reason why I couldn’t finish the Twilight books, other than the fact I ran out of Lord Calvert’s by the time I reached the baseball scene and had to crawl to the bathroom to bow before the porcelain god? (PS: Thank you, BBC, for helping me be able to like “Supermassive Black Hole” by Muse once again. Amy and Rory playing darts inside the TARDIS trumps ALL.)

That’s right, true believers: glaring grammatical issues. (And see “What’s with the hating…” thread if one needs a refresher course in my issues with grammatical issues.)

It got worse.

Back to Ellen. She had on her counter a copy of Fifty Shades of Grey. I pick it up, open the cover, and start reading. First person point of view, present tense. Granted, I’m not fond of either one of those by preference — I find first person fiction pretentious, and present tense too limiting — but there have been exceptions. So other than style preference, I’d keep trying it.

Oh, my brothers and sisters, if you’ve had the misfortune to read Star Ruby’s “Megatron’s Unexpected Surprise,” consider yourself warned when I compare Fifty Shades of Grey to that fanfic. (Thankfully, the fanfict was short, and I had access to alcohol and WordPad. Yes, I MiSTied it, and it ultimately ended with GIR from Invader Zim giving birth to a beanie baby car named “Jeffy.” But that’s not the point.) Fifty Shades of Grey starts out reading like a fanfiction, which should have been a warning sign.

And, lo and behold, I find out that yes, it had started life out as a fanfiction.

And not just any fanfiction.

It is originally fanfiction of Twilight.

(And originally named after my favourite song by Hawkwind, to boot, but I seriously doubt that was the case. E.L. James is English, however, so there could have been a possibility, but hopefully, no, that isn’t the case, because I’d so hate to destroy my lovely vintage vinyl of Doremi Fasol Latido in angst-stricken grief.)

I’m finding myself gazing longingly at my collection of British pulp science fiction of the sixties and seventies (mostly Michael Moorcock) and reminiscing on when guilty pleasures not only had fun, fast moving plots, but did so with compound sentences and semicolons.

Fanfiction really should stay fanfiction.

And no, I won’t show you the notes to my Doctor Who fanfiction which will never be written.

Virtua-On! Write-a-thon

THe Hermit

The Hermit from the Pier Six Tarot Project. Cade Guillory & artwork © A.K. Cyrway.

I really need to get myself a PAL converter so that I can play that game.  My little bro got me the game a long time ago for the Sega Saturn, unbeknownst that it was in fact the PAL version.

I signed up for the ClarionWest’a Write-a-thon, with the goal of 500 words a weeknight, one thousand words on the weekend days, in hopes to finish a prequel to Sin’s Tethers, as an introduction to two of the major players. Eventually, when my user page is up, I’ll link it up to this blog. Part of the Write-a-thon is also a fundraiser, as Clarion is a 501(c)(3) educational non-profit organisation. Patrons may sponsor writers towards their goal.

The Write-a-thon officially starts tomorrow; I’ll be keeping everyone posted, with more information posted tomorrow.

Excelsiour!

“Ah…fresh meat!”

Butcher's Room

© Blizzard Entertainment. Used without permission.

Back in, oh, 1999, I was playing this game, Diablo, an overhead dungeon crawler that was a bit bloody violent for its day.

So picture this: I’m on a second-hand computer which I bought off of my then-best bro-now-husband, with a 13″ VGA monitor, past midnight on a work night (when you’re 21, you still have that type of stamina) and the speakers are cranked. You come across a room in the middle of the dungeon, you open it up, and you see the picture to the left. And that’s not the worst of it, because this huge demon comes at you with a meat cleaver and shouts, “Ah, fresh meat!”

And proceeded to filet you six ways till Doomsday.

That seriously freaked me out. Moreso than Daggerfall did (which, by the way, even with the advances of Skyrim, I’m no longer surprised by enemies sneaking up on me. With Daggerfall, there’s no bar warning of enemies, nor does the controller vibrate whenever a dragon approaches, but I digress) two years prior, and never again until Sadako climbed out of the television set two years later. (The American version of The Ring, I found, was boring. Ringu , which I watched afterwards, unnerved me, to the point where my television was facing the wall for eight days [to account for travelling the international date line, I suppose.])

But ultimately, the whole point of mentioning Diablo (other than posting the Butcher’s Lair) is because I finally got to make my barbarian Leela (although I wanted to add “of Servateem, but it wouldn’t let me add spaces.) Afterwards, I installed Diablo II onto Metatron, but haven’t played it yet.

Because I’m setting up an operating room of my own, at least in the virtual sense. Thanks to the awesomeness of Google Docs/Drive, Jenny and I are able to work on the same document, at the same time, with a chat window for a scratch pad. On top of going back and forth with The Doctor (Dylan, that is–and if anyone’s to blame for my Doctor Who revival, it’s his fault. COMPLETELY. And he’s loving it) for plausible issues.

So no rejection letter today–I just wanted to prove that I’m still alive and working, at least on writing.

Excelsiour!

“His voice really does go all squeaky when he panics!”

Doctor Who © BBC. Whoever added the caption was a bloody genius. Or drunk. Either way, I can’t take credit for it, other than yoinking it off of a friend’s Facebook page.

Last night, after finishing off the latest Sherlock on Masterpiece, I decided to throw all caution into the wind, not wait for Logopolis, and just watch one of the Davison-era episodes of Doctor Who. Two things are certain: 1.) I still don’t like Adric, as much as I try to convince myself that he may be a British, er. Alzarian, brother of the Winchesters, and 2.) for as much as I don’t like Adric, (and Martha, as stated in previous posts,) Tegan is worse. But Nyssa isn’t bad at all — in fact, I’m really liking her. It just seems a little crowded with three companions. (Although I really didn’t mind it when Jackie and Mickey were with Rose and the Doctor. Those were fun because there was dynamics that went further than just travelling together. And when we throw Captain Jack into the mix…but I digress.)

We received another form rejection letter today:

Dear Author,

Thank you very much for giving us the opportunity to read your submission.  We appreciate you considering us for representation of your project.

Unfortunately, after careful review, we have decided that the [insert agency name here] might not be the right agency for your work.  This industry is incredibly subjective, and there are many agencies out there with many different tastes.  It is for this reason that we strongly encourage you to keep submitting elsewhere, in the hopes of finding an agent who will be an enthusiastic champion for you and your work.

We apologize for the form letter reply, but the volume of submissions we receive has finally made it impossible for us to personalize responses as [insert agency name here]  had for many years.  We hope you will understand and forgive us this necessary efficiency.  In addition, we do not feel it is appropriate to provide detailed editorial feedback on projects we have decided not to represent.

We wish you all the very best of luck and success with your writing.

Sincerely,

[Insert Agency Name Here]

In other news, mead is very nice. And I checked my Netlfix queue. Logopolis is next. There is a heavy sadness in my heart. For the end of the Tom Baker episodes available. And I’m out of mead. But I digress.

“No time for love, Doctor Jones!”

The Hanged Man from the Pier Six Tarot ProjectMy quote for Series 3. Which, by the way, is actually a quote from Clerks, which in turn is truncated from the Indiana Jones and the Temple of Doom: “This no time for love, Doctor Jones!” But I digress.

Actually, this is all about rejection. We received our first rejection letter yesterday:

Dear Author,

I greatly appreciate the opportunity to consider your query letter – thanks for sending it.

Alas, the query wasn’t quite intriguing enough to inspire me to offer representation or further consideration of your project. I have read your query letter myself; I wish I had time enough to respond to everyone personally and with constructive criticism, but it would be overwhelming, hence this form response.

This business is highly subjective; many people whose work I haven’t connected with have gone on to critical and commercial success.  So, keep trying!

I am grateful that you have afforded me this opportunity to find out about you and your project, and wish you the best of success with your current and future creative work.

All best wishes,

(Name withheld)

There’s still five more out there. I’m probably going to look at the query letter again and see what could be spiced up a bit for the next round of submissions.

“Can one learn internal medicine in a day?”

The Fool from the Pier Six Tarot Project.

Nata Bìsson © Cyrway & De Salme. Artwork by Cyrway.

To paraphrase my friend and medical expert whom I constantly tap for anything having to do with medicine and bodily injury.

Currently, I’ve requested fourteen items from the MINERVA system. For those unfamiliar to MINERVA, it is the interlibrary loan website for the state of Maine’s library system. For Waterville Public Library patrons, it’s a free service. A definite tool when one must research.

As for research, I am collecting information for the second book, codename: Exodus. Or “AKBAR.” It could be a trap. Originally, it would focus on the were-critters in our universe. Then we kinda decided the were-critters were kinda silly and kinda dumped them. (This really had nothing to do with the saturation with were-critters in mainstream young adult fiction, either — we really couldn’t see how lycanthropy could advance the plot. And the fact that the former-were-critters could do the same thing, only better, as humans.) Which scrapped most of Exodus’s major plot in the process.

But I am undeterred, thus the fourteen–now fifteen, I just requested a book on the Spetsnaz–reference books dealing with (the exception being the one about the Spetsnaz) anthropology–biological and forensic–and archaeology. Some of these are “forbidden” or “alternative” studies. Hey, if the History Channel can have documentaries regarding aliens, why not?

Scratch that. The one on the top is “Song of Ice and Fire” (“Game of Thrones” to those watching the HBO series) audiobook, which I had to return because there’s a waiting list ten patrons deep and I was only on disc 16 of 28. So fourteen reference books.

I love researching. Expanding one’s knowledge base is engaging and fulfilling, and it helps to pretend one knows what one’s doing. Or end up creating disturbing entertaining films for sick ducks like The Human Centipede. Which is not based on actual science, regardless of what the tagline claims.

Which also helps having people like The Doctor (Dylan, the same guy whom, when picking up on my reluctance on seeing the third live action Transformers movie, suggested that I watch the new Doctor Who series. Yes, he’s to blame, but at the same time, it made me realise that I was suffering from a media Stockholm syndrome, as Michael Bay had been holding me hostage, as I was convinced that I had to watch the third Transformers movie because I was a Transfan, not because it was a good movie. Thus, I broke the cycle and, to this day, I have yet to see the third Transformers movie, and to that I am glad and thankful that The Doctor had saved me from wishing to watch more Michael Bay movies…unless Michael Bay decides to do a Doctor Who movie. Then I’m swearing off all fandoms and becoming a hermit. But I digress.) on call to run stuff by to see if it’s remotely plausible. Which apparently the dude who wrote Human Centipede did. (As did the writers for the Doctor Who season 17 episode Creature from the Pit, where they had discussed with physicists on the probability of utilising a neutron star as a weapon by encasing it in aluminum, which turned out to be a head-scratching moment for this Whovian with her rudimentary understanding of astrophysics.)

But The Doctor (Dylan, that is) is a neurologist (and yes, that is a sonic screwdriver in his pocket), which I hope means he knows his stuff. Because seriously, would you like the guy whom gave advice for The Human Centipede be your gastroenterologist? I know I’d be a little worried if that guy was staring through an endoscope.

In the long run, the time taken for research — the time it takes to clean an automatic pistol versus a revolver, or the difference between biological and sociological anthropology, or what branches of science take out-of-place artifacts seriously — can make or break a book, methinks.

Kind of like how Firefly rocked because the space battles outside of the ship were dead silent (thus making the trip through Reaver territory during  Serenity even creepier in the long run), versus other sci-fi shows, where big, loud explosions were the norm. Which does one take seriously?

And how did this blog post turn into a biopic of geekdom?

And, for the record, no, I don’t watch Big Bang Theory. A customer of ours said it best: “Avoid shows with a laugh track.” And apparently, Big Bang Theory’s science is flawed.

Fridge Logic: The House of Leaves is a dying, malfunctioning, insane TARDIS

It's bigger on the inside...

The House of Leaves by Mark Z. Danielewski. Image from Wikipedia.

Thursday was…interesting. I was nearly done Slaughterhouse Five  by Kurt Vonnegut, Jr. (not so much a science-fiction book, I felt, than a call to consider post-traumatic stress disorder as a serious condition which shouldn’t be swept under the rug) and had walked into Hannaford’s, (a chain grocery store, for those whom are not familiar with the Northeast) and, sitting on the top of the book donation box for the United Way, was a near-mint, full-colour edition of House of Leaves by Mark Z. Danielewski (brother of alternative rock siren Poe).

Without going into too much detail, it’s about a house which is bigger on the inside by 5/16″. Hallways appear, walls grow larger, and the owners of the house, along with the writer Zamparō, Johnny, the kid whom stumbled on Zamparō’s manuscript, and the readers of the book are dragged down into a labyrinth of madness.

So it goes.

I’m about an eighth of the way through. Navidson went through the hallway and is exploring the blackness for the first time. And I’m reluctant to put it down, but I need to finish A Song of Ice and Fire before the 10th, when it’s due back to the library; due to the waiting list, I may not be able to renew it. But I digress. 1

Today I’m working on the website; this afternoon, we’ll be working on submissions. From there, it’s free game. Although it looks as though we’re going to need to pick up another wine kit soon (I’m looking at Johannesburg Riesling; I think Brian’s wanting another red. My idea for a label for the Jo’burg Riesling would involve an alien from District 9 sitting at an overturned box with a can of catfood and a bottle of wine atop of it. Brian reminded me that I was thinking the wrong Johannesburg.)

Tomorrow I may try to sneak some time to see The Avengers2 in the afternoon. Flagship lets one see movies for free on one’s birthday. I’ll be 34, I think. Not that it’s a big deal.

Back to work, then!


1As I had told a friend of mine, my impressionable youth coupled with ADHD had been ravaged by Naked Lunch by William S. Burroughs, which leads me into strange tangents and digressions which will eventually return to the point. But I digress.
2Because the House of Stark is not complete without Tony.