Friday, March 30, 2012

Fanny Friday

Nope, not talking about rear-ends here. At least not this week. I'm trying to set up a schedule of things to talk about. In reality, my life is boring--that oughta get you reading in droves! LOL At any rate, Fridays will be the day I discuss something related to fan fiction or fanning in general. Today, I wanted to discuss the beginnings of my fan girl ways. I was going to tie it in with my writing, but when I thought about it, I was a fan girl even before I put pen to paper (yup, I'm that old--carry on reading and I'll give more away).

[Errol Flynn as Robin Hood]

My first real fan crush was...Errol Flynn as Robin Hood. Mind, I was watching thirty-five years after the movie was made (there's your hint, math wizards). Or was it Bugs Bunny, with whom I had a date every Saturday morning? Either way, from the very beginning, I loved (and still do love) a man who can get himself out of trouble with sarcasm and a witty plan. Mind, being able to fight his way out if necessary is important nowadays, and looks are good. There are men that, as my gramma used to say, “I wouldn’t throw out of bed for eating crackers.” However, if they’re in the bed, eating the crackers, and too stupid to hold a conversation or trade barbs, they’re outta there. As soon as I’m done with them.

I love a man who is strong, but not a body builder. And I love a bit of scruff now and again, depending on the guy. Sometimes, I love the broody man, but not if he’s always brooding—he must have the occasional smile. And when he smiles, it should go to his eyes. A man who smiles with his eyes, smiles with his soul. If he can see humor in the darkest of his situations and laugh at himself, I'm totally lost to him. Don't care if he's tall, but I'd rather not have him shorter than me (I'm 5'5"). I like a nice bit of hair, but nothing long--I often said that if Fabio and his ilk were my heroes, I would pull a Delilah and cut their hair while they slept. I love a nice military crop. I mean the cut of the hair, not a short leather stick. I'm not getting kinky. Yet. He should be well-proportioned. Trim is nice, but a little paunch is no longer a turn-off for me like it was when I was younger.

So who was your first “star” crush? What qualities did you like best about him or her?

Gramma's crush (James Garner as Jim Rockford):

[Jim Garner as Jim Rockford}

Thursday, March 29, 2012

The Importance of Being Betaed

First of all, what is a beta? A beta or beta reader, is someone who checks over your fan fiction for spelling, grammatical and characterization errors. They also check for consistency in your story. For example, do you spell the hero’s name two different ways? Were they in the mess hall in one part of the scene and in the hangar bay in another part of the same scene?

The importance of being beta-ed:

peeple like to reed storys that are well ritten it makes it easier on them when u use the write punctuation too.

All right, it’s a little extreme, but I’ve seen stuff that’s nearly this bad posted on various fan sites and personal blogs. I have a BA in English. My plans, before becoming a wife and mother, were to become an editor for a big New York or Boston house. What I’m saying is that I may be a bit more particular than your average reader.

That does not mean, however, that the average reader won’t catch grammar gaffs or the misuse of homonyms—to them, these mistakes will just “look” or “sound” off and your story will make them uncomfortable. Uncomfortable readers stop reading. I once read a similar thing about manners—good manners are nearly invisible but make the guest feel welcome.

As I mentioned in my last blog, my first attempts at writing went largely un-beta-ed. That was because I didn’t really know any better, nor did I know anyone who could provide this service for me. Luckily, with my background, the grammar and spelling issues were few and far between, at least to the untrained eye. When I began writing a longer piece, I looked for and found two wonderful betas—one who was great at catching story inconsistencies and characterization issues and one who was my grammar goddess. Those two eventually disappeared, reclaimed by “real life”, but I soon found another.

I am proud to say that my current beta is her chapter’s president of the Romance Writers of America. She has written articles on writing fan fiction, as well as on general writing issues and has had a short story published in a romance anthology. Jen has taught me a lot over the past two years of our internet acquaintance. She has taught me about POV, dialogue tags and keeping the story tight. It’s Jen I have to thank for urging me to join RWA, as well as my local chapter. Soon, I will be taking Jen’s advice when it comes to getting myself a local crit partner; when I do, you will hear all about what I learn from that experience.

Asking for help is not a bad thing. Like I said, I have a BA in English. I think I know how to write pretty well. That doesn't mean that I know everything or that I can't, on occasion, miss things. After reading our own works over and over and then over again, our mind tends to fill in the mistakes. A good beta is not afraid to let you know that they have no clue what you're writing about, since sometimes we can write things that make sense in our heads (where we have the whole scene laid out), but do not make a lick of sense on the page without more scene setting. 

So, what's the long and short of this whole thing? All right, it's a little too late for the short, but anyway... If you are going to write anything that others may see, have someone knowledgeable run a second pair of eyes over it. You just might get the chance to thank them for saving your from looking a bit stupid.

Wednesday, March 28, 2012

Attack of the Plot Bunnies

[pic of Captain Kirk with tribbles]

Plot bunny.  Fanglish (fanspeak + English). A rodent of varying size, sometimes travelling alone, sometimes in ravening packs. They show up completely out of the blue, carrying fillers for plot holes, ideas for new adventures and are sometimes amorous (see the part about ravening packs). Now and again, when a fan fiction writer does not write fast enough (ie, skip pesky things like work, family, food, and sleep), the plot bunnies will hide behind the dust bunnies under the fan fiction writer’s bed and sulk.

When I began writing fan fiction, the plot bunnies attacked hard and fast. I wrote a lot of short pieces, usually of the flash fic to ficlet length. Most people agree that flash fics range from around 100-500 words, with ficlets hitting the 501-1000 word mark. If you don’t agree with that, that’s fine—being unique is cool. Kidding! Don’t get your knickers in a bunch! If you ever have a different opinion than I do, I welcome your input. I’m occasionally wrong. Or often. Depends on which of my kids you’re talking to, the teen or my little stooge.

I digress. Often, but this time specifically here. So the plot bunnies were attacking, my fingers were sore from typing and I was putting out a bunch of un-beta-ed work. I was still receiving some pretty positive feedback, which is like plot bunny carrots. They munched the feedback carrots, snuggled with other plot bunnies and produced more little plot bunnies.

As I wrote more and more, and got hits, visitors and reviews on my fan fiction stories, I started thinking. Maybe, just maybe, I could write an original story. I had scads of ideas for those, too, and wrote many of them down. On my computer. Whose hard drive decided to take a virtual nose-dive off the Chrysler building. At any rate, I have since gotten a new computer and some new plot bunnies have come scratching at my door. So, if you see me writing historical or sci-fi or fantasy, if you see my romances ranging from the sweet to the downright erotic, blame it on the plotus rodentia

Tuesday, March 27, 2012


I am new to Blogger, learning as I go. So please, be patient with me. My site may not be perfect, or even very pretty at first. Any and all suggestions will be cheerfully accepted and some even applied.

I learn by doing, by trial and error. I started to set up a WordPress blog, but they do not accept adult material. I might not always have adult material on my site, but I want the freedom to be able to post what I want, when I want, so here I am. I found WP a little easier to use, but it is worth learning Blogger to have my own personal version of freedom of the press.

If anyone is reading this and knows how to make parent and child pages (a simple version, as I'm not very tech-savvy), I would appreciate it.

Monday, March 26, 2012

The Road to Indie

My journey begins with the spark of an idea. A character came up to me in my dreams and whispered, “write about me.” Now, this was nothing new to me—characters had been doing this to me off and on for over thirty years. For many years, their voices were drowned out by self-doubt and then by the incessant crying of babies and nagging of the waitressing job that (barely) helped to pay our bills. I watched a lot of TV in those days—days when I came home at 1:00 or 2:00 in the morning, too exhausted from a long night’s shift to even think.

I watched reruns of Stargate Atlantis and Robin Hood on BBC’s On Demand channel. As I watched them, a strange thing happened. Characters began to speak again.

Major Lorne: “I’m the 2IC of Atlantis. Why wasn’t I on that mission?”

Sir Guy: “I’m not a monster. Tell them about the pain I was feeling.”

I began to write their stories, sometimes jumping out of bed at 3:00 despite having to be up at 7:00 to get the kids ready for school. I had discovered a world steeped in controversy, the world of fan fiction.

Now I don’t give a rat’s pitooty what anyone thinks of fan fiction—they can call the authors of fan fiction talentless hacks or world/character thieves all they want. Fan fiction brought me back to writing, a passion I had put by the wayside for many years in an effort to work and raise two boys.  For that alone, I will always be grateful, even if I never get published.

But not being published has never been a goal of mine. Since I was a little girl, I’ve wanted to write stories and share them with others. I was off on a side road for a bit, but now I’m back on the highway and I’m inviting you all to share the road trip with me. I plan to share my triumphs and my failures, my hard work and my goofing off. The road I am on is also steeped in controversy. It is the road to Indie publishing. So come along—sometimes the road will be straight and smooth, other times it will be bumpy or even washed away, but we will make it to our destination.