Random Thursdays: Random Happiness

Unexpected happy-making things, both big and small, have happened all this week.  Don’t know why, don’t care, but I’m enjoying them all.

 oooOOOooo

Pumpkin bread for breakfast this morning, courtesy of Downith, who sent me her recipe!

I would have taken a picture of the results, except I tasted them first, and then the family woke up and all that’s left is crumbs and a grocery list with MORE PUMPKIN written on it and underlined twice.

Spice cake was already on the list, because Lyra’s recipe kicks it, too!

oooOOOooo

On Tuesday, I helped a nice lady find a photo of her grandson in the newspaper and order a print copy from the website.

I found out today that she took the time to write out a comment card saying how helpful and friendly I was—those things go straight to the director, and my annual evaluation is coming up!

oooOOOooo

 Janie had her softball awards ‘ceremony’ at the local ice cream parlor two evenings ago—her trophy is featured in yesterday’s post.

I took Sunny along and we stood in line for ice cream while she charmed the socks off the older couple behind us.*

The woman mentioned that their children and grandchildren had come down for the holiday, but they’d all gone home and the house was far too quiet.

Our house isn’t quiet,” said  Sunny.  She pointed to Janie’s group.  “I have a sister.

Ice cream and shared laughter.  Awesome combination.

oooOOOooo

 

I got my FOID card in the mail yesterday, which means I can rent a gun at the local shooting range and  practice.

I’m hoping to work up to the broad sides of barns, but we’ll see . . .

oooOOOooo

Wayne E. Pollard, creator of the webcomic Bo’s Café Life, is going to have a collection out soon!

Wayne is a great guy, and his gang of struggling writers at the coffee shop are spot on—laughing at them imeans laughing at ourselves, and that can only be a good thing in this business!

He also gives the occasional nod to writer support services:

The comic has been featuring interviews from editors, agents, critics, and others in the industry, as well as an Ask Dingbang feature that I never miss.

The morning doesn’t start until I get my Bo fix— and soon I’ll be able to read my favorites without worrying about my wireless connection!

oooOOOooo

My husband brought  my packed lunch to work for me before I even realized I’d left it on the kitchen counter this morning.

oooOOOooo

I have no idea why this feels like a huge confession . . . but I’ve been known to write a little fanfiction—for practice, experimentation, relaxation, the occasional dare, the instant feedback, because I’m a huge geeky nerd, whatever.

I’m well aware that I’m choosing to use some of my writing time on derivative things that can’t be published, but this is something  I enjoy doing, and I know it’s improved my writing.

I haven’t participated much lately, but this past month, the Leverage fandom at the site where I post held an awards thing, where readers could nominate and vote on their favorite stories and writers.

Someone was kind enough to nominate one or two of my stories in a couple categories,  and I was up for best author, all of which was quite the ego boost.  I voted for other people’s stuff, and then the voting period was extended, so I forgot about it.

Then yesterday, I received a ton of e-mailed congratulations.

Turns out, one of my stories placed first for best original character, best alternative universe,** and best overall story, and tied for second for best general-category (with its sequel, if you can believe that).  And I placed first for best author.

I know that this isn’t the type of thing one mentions in a query letter, and I know that fanfiction is generally vilified—be honest, how many of you read the previous paragraph and thought well, how hard can that be?

But let me explain why this is important, personally, to me:

There are about eighteen-hundred stories in that fandom at last count and an average of three new ones pop up every day.   I wrote that story three years ago.  And readers still remember it.

That’s the real award, right there.

And a challenge to do the same thing, all on my own.

oooOOOooo

This week has been great so far!  How’s yours going?  Any random happiness to share?

________

* As she does to any grandparent within a thirty-foot radius.  So far, she’s only used this power for good instead of evil, but I’m keeping a close eye . . .

**Which I’m taking to mean that the events in the story occurred outside of the shows, though it obviously referenced several.

Random Thursday: Duck Tales!

 

 

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Today is my parents’ forty-ninth wedding anniversary! 

How about some applause?

They met at Miami University, in Ohio—both were school teachers taking a summer graduate course.  They sat next to each other in class, but hadn’t spoken much.

One day, it was very hot in the classroom, and flies kept buzzing in through the open windows.  My father, being a man of many diverse skills, killed the flies that landed on his desk by flicking them with his pencil.  After each kill, he would take the corpse and place it on Mom’s desk.  She was either too embarrassed to protest or was trying not to laugh, depending on whom you ask. 

By the end of the class, Mom had a small mountain of dead flies and Dad had a ride back to Cincinnati.  Their relationship was strictly platonic, at least on Dad’s side—he was dating someone else.  Mom only says that he was very good-looking, if a bit slow on the uptake for a guy destined to be a psychologist.

Mom drove him back and forth throughout the entire summer,  until it finally dawned on Dad that he was having more fun with her than the girl he was dating.   So he stopped dating her and started dating Mom.  Finally.

The rest, as they say, is history and a lot of hard work.

Congratulations to the two coolest people I know!  Thank you for setting such a high benchmark!

oooOOOooo

 
For those of you who didn’t choose the fourth option in today’s poll, here’s your chance:

 

oooOOOooo

Sixteen days until the (arbitrary) deadline for my first draft of Pigeon.^   There’s a lot to do, but I know I can make it.

This isn’t another shipwreck.   I finally know how it’s going to end.^^  I know whodunnit and why and how.

I’m almost afraid to tilt my head in case the last chapters fall out of my ear and the twists unravel and the logic balloon collapses like a soap-bubble.

Please let it work. 

Please let it work.

oooOOOooo

A Fanfic Recommendation.  No, seriously.

My friend Siobhan (she of the double dog dares) has been on bed rest for the last two weeks of her pregnancy,* which has given her a lot of time to cruise fanfiction.net.  Fanfic is her alternative to daytime television, because, as she says, some of the stories are actually good.

She’s particularly fond of strange crossovers and alternative universes—because she doesn’t have to stew about canon—and sends me links to the weirdest things, like the stars of Supernatural as dolphins fighting demonic tuna, or something.**

But I have to admit, she finds some awesome stuff in there, including a story she sent me two days ago.

If you enjoyed the BBC’s Sherlock series, or at least the original stories, and have read Terry Pratchett and Neil Gaimon’s Good Omens, then I highly recommend this story,  in which Aziraphale and Crawley feed some rather unusual ducks.  Ducks who behave completely in character.***

It’s eleven in a random (hey-oh!) series of BBC Sherlock shorts by a talented and extremely well-read writer who goes by Silver Pard.

C’mon—humor me.  Give it a try.

oooOOOooo

 

Janie thanks everyone (with blushes and giggles) who congratulated her on passing the third grade and agrees that she was a cute baby, though she thinks she looks better with hair.

She would also like for me to hurry up and post this, so she can play Barbie Fashionista Grand Prix, or whatever it is.

What’s the magic word, kid?

______________

^Yes, I am counting today, because my main writing sessions are in the evenings, after the kids go to bed.

^^With a $#!%load of editing, right.  Besides that.

*They had the date wrong, apparently, and pushed her due date back an extra three weeks.  I’m not sure she was told to stay in bed for the baby’s sake or because her OB was afraid she’d seek revenge.  And neither is her husband.

**No.  No.  I’m making that up—but I promise you someone out there is working on it already.

***No duck slash, I promise.

Show vs. Tell vs. TMI

The talented and hardworking Jeph Jacques had posted one of the funnier (and possibly NSFW) examples I’ve seen of showing vs. telling over at Questionable Content.   And the frustrations over explaining it.

The previous comic will bring back wincing memories for anyone who has ever been asked for an honest opinion by  a brand-new, shiny writer—or, in my case, ever been a brand- new, shiny writer who didn’t want too much honesty.  At all.

I’d like to think I’m better now . . . most days I am. . . mostly.

*****

In other news, the mostly hardworking Sarah W has sent off her newly finished Fun Project section this morning hours before deadline* and will be taking a small breather before plunging into the world of the WIP tonight.

For those of you who might wonder  (and I know who you are), I believe that I’ll be indulging in the rest of Terminal State rather than erotic Harry Potter fanfic**, however showy it may be.

____

*I would have sent it night night, but my Netbook decided it was funny to flash the Blue screen of death right before I saved the final edits.  Twice.  It was either shut down and walk away or break a window with it.  This morning, everything was fine.  Time outs work on electronics and writers, too.

**I’ve got nothing against fanfiction—quite the opposite.  I just prefer plot and romance over Rule 34—as one of my favorite fellow fanfic fans said, “You’ve got to buy me dinner, first.”

In Defense of Fanfiction

I can understand the problems people have with fanfiction.

It’s derivative—that’s the point.  A lot of it is badly written, a lot of it isn’t canon—generally speaking, fanfiction is probably the main conveyor of Rule 34.  It isn’t original and it’s just this side of plagiarism\outright theft.  It’s unlicensed usage, and it doesn’t make anyone any money.

Novelizations, or serials credited to a single pseudonym, are different.*  Permission has been granted; in fact, writers are sometimes invited to write to the specifications of the producers\studios\creators\keepers o’ the canon.  The manuscripts go through an editing process.  The majority of the books are well-written—though I maintain that if a writer isn’t a fan of the original, there’s something missing.  And they make money for the writer and the owners of the original.

One is done for love and the other for money.

Me, I write fanfiction for the fun and the practice.

I watch several amazing television shows I would kill to write for, and being neither murderer nor scriptwriter,**  I write stories.  Canon-interpretations, usually, though once or twice I’ve ended a story arc my way—generally out of impatience or curiosity.  I’ve always been off, but my interpretations could have worked, if the rest of the episodes weren’t already in post-production.

And Lord, how I love me some  inside fan geek jokes!

But besides the entertainment value and the challenge of working within an established structure, it’s the instant feedback that keeps me coming back.  I post a chapter and readers react almost instantly.  A lot of readers.  If they want to read more, they put the story on alert.  If they love it, they put it in their reading lists. And many of them are gracious enough to send me reviews and comments.

One of the best things a writer can learn is the difference between what she thinks she’s written and what different readers know they’re reading.   Another is to learn how to take criticism—or leave it.  Fans are particular—not just about canon and characterization, but about plot and craft.

So are readers of original novels, of course, but an author doesn’t find out how the majority (ie, non relatives and non-industry people) are going to react to a novel, or why, until years after it’s done.  If a book doesn’t do well, getting the next one accepted for publication may be a problem .

If something isn’t working in one of my fanfics, you better believe I’ll know why almost immediately, and in time to do something about it.  If the story tanks, most readers will still give my next one a try.

Writing fanfiction, to my way of thinking, provides invaluable learning experience in a safe environment.

And my writing is improving.

So, sure, I’ve entertained the fantasy of one of the Powers that Be finding a link to my work*** and being offered the chance to submit a proposal for a Real Book™, like a waitress being offered a screen test by a Hollywood producer in a Poughkeepsie diner.

But I’m not holding my breath, and I’m not sitting on my rear, either.^  I haven’t stopped working on original projects—in fact, writing fanfiction has encouraged me to keep going with my own stuff.  Maybe  I’ll even submit that novelization proposal someday—when I do, I’ll have the experience to prove I can handle the job.

So, yeah.  I write fanfiction.

What’s it to you?

_____

*Movie adaptions aren’t included , here.  I’m not saying it doesn’t take talent and skill to do adaptions, but I’m comparing what-if to what-if, not what-if to what-was.

**It might be lack of experience with the form . . . but I think it’s a different mindset.

*** <Cough John Rogers cough Dean Devlin  cough over 43,000 hits for this one cough e-mail me cough>

^Okay, yeah, I am, but the chair is parked in front of a keyboard, so I’m allowing the metaphor to stand.  Sit.  Whatever.