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T is for Translated Fiction #AtoZChallenge

by Donna Huber For the A to Z Challenge, I'm discussing different book genres/categories. Each day, I will give a few details about the ...

October 10, 2014

Donna's Fan Fiction Writing

by Donna Huber

I thought it might be fun as part of our fan fiction theme to share a little from a a fanfic story that I once started writing. I changed the names so you don't know which fandom it's from. 

“Ugh!” I can't sleep. “Little one, are you about ready to greet the world?” I absently rub my hand over my abdomen. I probably won't get any more sleep after she arrives, but hopefully the few hours I do get will be more peaceful. Ha! Peaceful, who am I kidding, but at least this pain will be gone.

“Little one, the doctor says you'll be here any day now.” I guess I should go to the bathroom since I'm awake. It seems that I'm constantly in the bathroom these days. I will be glad when this pregnancy is over.

Don't get me wrong, I've enjoyed being pregnant. It is indescribable the feeling I get thinking about a new life growing inside me. I've eagerly followed the growth on a website that describes my baby's development each week since I found out I was pregnant. However, the last few weeks I have been miserable: I am fat, tired, hot, achy... like I said miserable.

I heave a sigh and scoot to the edge of the bed. “Ugh!” I rub my belly as I stand and shuffle to the bathroom. I only make it a few steps when “OH!” Oh my goodness! Oh my goodness! Of course it has to be a night I'm alone! Why did I tell Jennifer I would be okay and send her home?! “Oh goodness!”

Ok calm down, think. We have a plan. Yeah, the plan was not to be alone! Ok not helping...

Deep breath. There is nothing I can do about that now. As my therapist has advised on several occasions I need to let go and follow the flow.  Okay, I need to focus and not panic, everything is going to be okay. I need to find the phone!

“Where's the phone?” I frantically chant as I turn towards the nightstand. I quickly locate the phone and push the 2.

“Please pick up... Please pick up...” becomes my mantra.

After two rings “Katie?” the voice on the other end answers.

“I...I think my water just broke. Ugh!”

“Okay. Stay calm. I'll be there in a few minutes. Remember to breathe,” the voice responds calmly with an air of authority before the line goes dead.

“Breathe Katie” I mentally chant to myself as I head to the closet to get my bag and my “going to the hospital” outfit Jennifer laid out for me. As quickly as possible I change my clothes and head to the bathroom to brush my teeth. I cannot leave the house without clean teeth. As I hurriedly brush my teeth I stare at my reflection in the mirror. Is there anything else I need to do? No, of course not.  The plan stated I only needed to make the one phone call, if I was alone. Everyone else would take care of the rest ... as long as they follow the plan.

“Ugh!” I hope for once everything goes according to the plan.

So what do you think? Can I write fiction?

October 9, 2014

5 Ways Fan Fiction Can Make You a Better Writer

by Donna Huber

Yesterday Alison discussed fan fiction from a reader's perspective and I have shared how fan fiction can help an author develop a fan base in the past. But did you know writing fan fiction can help you develop your writing skills? Here are 5 ways it can help you with your writing.

1. Gives you a writing group

Not everyone is lucky to find a writing group that is in close proximity to them or meets at a time that fits your schedule. As Alison mentioned a lot of people are reading and writing fan fiction. One of the major cornerstones of the fan fiction world is the leaving of comments. These comments can range from "great story, can't wait to read more" to actual critiques that are helpful to improving your writing, "too much telling and not enough showing" or in my case - "use more contractions". Obviously you will need to post your writing to one of the fan fiction sites (or more than one) to reap from this benefit.

2. Work on certain aspects of your writing

Following from the previous point, you can work on one aspect of writing at a time. For writers that are just starting out, putting together an entire story from scratch can be daunting and overwhelming. If you aren't confident in a certain aspect of writing, say writing dialogue, you can use established characters and plots so you can focus on improving your dialogue writing. If you are working on a certain aspect of writing you can put a note at the beginning of the "chapter" so that it will be more likely for people to leave useful comments.

3. Helps with writer's block

Do you ever get stuck on your story? A change of focus can be just what you need to get the creative juices flowing again. Playing in someone else's sandbox may give you inspiration, insight, or a new direction that can be applied directly to your story. While with the first two you needed to post your fan fiction in order to get feedback, with this one it can be kept all to yourself.

4. Push boundaries, test the waters

As Alison mentioned, a lot of fan fiction is heavy on the sex. I think the rise of erotica is some what tied with all the fan fiction authors writing it. Writers (those writing fan fiction and not) could see that readers were interested in these story lines. I know some of the stories I read really pushed the envelop on deviant behaviors. For some of them I think the writers were trying to see how far was too far.

5. Try different styles

The great thing about fan fiction is that you can do what you want to basically. You don't even have to write full stories. There are one shots, which range from a short story to just a scene. There are drabbles which may only be 100 words long. People write poetry and songs. It can be freeing to write fan fiction. You can skip back stories or world building if you want and dive right into the action because everyone reading is already familiar with the basics and they just want to see where you are going.

Stop by tomorrow as I will be sharing a little bit from my own ventures in fan fiction writing.

October 8, 2014

It Isn’t Over Until We Say So

by Alison DeLuca

The Star Trek fanzine Spockanalia contained th...
The Star Trek fanzine Spockanalia contained the first fan fiction in the modern sense of the term. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)
I’ve been on a fan fiction kick over the past year. This is during all my free time when I’m not parenting, writing my own books, or creating columns for the lovely Girl Who Reads, you understand. However, there’s something very addictive about stories exploring known worlds and characters. There’s no tedious back-story, for one thing – we all know who Luke Skywalker is or what Hermione Granger did.

This column is to offer a guide so you can, if you wish, explore the huge universe that is fan fiction. Let’s start off with some basics:

Just be aware that most fan fiction centers around sex. A lot. There are some terms you’ll need to learn in order to avoid (or find) the types of stories you want: lemons (a rather outdated word for sexual content), slash (male-male sexual content), femslash (female-female sexual content.) Luckily, the host sites always provide ratings, so do be certain you’re checking for G (general) T (teen) or M (mature) before diving into a long story.

Quite a large percentage of fanfics are slash, so there’s that. 

There are two main websites to bookmark if you’re a fanfic reader: and is the better known, but my favorite is AO3. Here’s why: FF is clunky. The text is plain text (and I do understand why since the site hosts millions of stories.) However, it’s the outdated search engine that made me run to AO3.

Cover of Old Friends and New Fancies, by Sybil...
Cover of Old Friends and New Fancies, by Sybil Brinton, considered to be the first work of Austen fan-fiction. (1913) (Photo credit: Wikipedia)
AO3 offers a wonderful tags interface. For example, if you’re searching for Jane Austen all you have to do is start a search and click on a story’s tag. By tag I mean relationship (Fitzwilliam Darcy / Elizabeth Bennett) or story idea (First Kiss.) Once you’ve done that, lists of fanfics set in Austen-verse will come up based on that tag (more on this later.)

The next thing to know is there’s a lot of, well, crap out there. Some fanfic authors are writing in a second language, bless them, and others start ambitious projects only to drop them months later when real life gets in the way. Plus, some ficc’ers are so bad there is an entire site devoted to the unintentionally funny things they put in their works called wtffanfiction. Feel free to go and have a laugh, but be aware a lot of the slash shows up in that site. And as always, remember these stories were written by authors just starting out, and yes, they have feelings too. 

I always try to be sensitive about that.

And now on to the fun stuff. 

Let’s say you read Pride and Prejudice by Jane Austen (I told you we’d get back to her) and you loved it. Not only that, you want to know more about those characters. You’re hardly alone in this – I see books written about every character in the Austen-verse on library shelves, aka PUBLISHED fan fiction. 

Maybe you’d like to read about a first kiss between Elizabeth and Darcy, since Austen neglected to give us any physical interactions between them at all. Fear not, there are plenty of stories to fill in the gap, including this well-written piece called Hearing Light.  

Or let’s say you’d like to read an alternate universe where Darcy is the woman and Elizabeth the man, or where they meet in a modern setting, or Elizabeth and Darcy work through the delicate matter of impotence. It’s all here, compiled under the couple’s tag in AO3

When you bring up your tag you can sort it by kudos (the number of times readers have left compliments on a piece.) It’s a good idea to do so, since you can avoid most of the abandoned or sloppier writing that way. However, do read the blurb first, and avoid any that proclaim, “I suck at summaries.” Writing a blurb may be difficult or boring, but there’s no excuse for leaving out that little exercise if the writer starts with pre-existing characters and world building.

As you go through the search results you may see some crossovers pop up – stories based in Austen-verse (to continue this example) but including other pairings. Just be cautious or you could get sucked into a new universe of characters you really didn’t want to read about. I suppose I have to add Johnlock as an example here – Sherlock Holmes / John Watson seem to show up in every search on AO3. Yes, as a couple. Yes, it’s slash. Feel free to indulge or run far away, as you wish.

Gaiman (Photo credit: Wikipedia)
There are many famous authors who make a point of writing fan fiction, and here is a list of ten of them. Some extremely famous books were written as fan fics to begin with, and if you decide to mock that tradition you might have to start with Shakespeare and his plays based on Plutarch, Holinshed, and the Ur-Hamlet

Then there’s Tom Stoppard, who wrote a play called Rosencrantz and Guildenstern are Dead based on Hamlet.  

Let’s not forget Wicked, based on the movie called The Wizard of Oz, based on the series of Oz books by Frank L. Baum, which were continued after his death by Ruth Plumly Thompson.

Let’s not forget Kindle Worlds, the sanctioned Amazon kindle store that sells fan fiction. 

Mock fan fiction if you wish, but be aware the concept is hardly new. It’s been around since one bard heard another bard sing an ode and think, “Okay, that’s cool, but what if …?” And thus fan fiction was born under the weighty title of bardic tradition.

To keep with the fan fiction theme, Donna wrote a review of Fangirl by Rainbow Rowell yesterday and will give us a special treat on Friday. Fan fiction may have a bad reputation, but there are some amazing stories out there all proclaiming, “The story isn’t over ‘til we say it is.”

Girl Who Reads is an Amazon advertising affiliate; a small fee is earned when purchases are made at Amazon through the above links.

October 7, 2014

Review: Fangirl by @RainbowRowell

First Chapter, First Paragraph is a weekly meme hosted by Bibliophile by the Sea

FangirlFirst Chapter, First Paragraph

There was a boy in her room.
Cath looked up at the number painted on the door, then down at the room assignment in her hand.
Pound Hall, 913.
This was definitely room 913, but maybe it wasn't Pound Hall - all these dormitories looked alike, like public housing towers for the elderly  Maybe Cath should try to catch her dad before he brought up the rest of her boxes.
"You must be Cather", the boy said, grinning and holding out his hand.
"Cath," She said, feeling a panicky jump in her stomach. She ignored his hand. (She was holding a box anyway, what did he expect from her?)
This was a mistake - this had to be a mistake. She knew that Pound was a co-ed dorm... Is there such a thing as co-ed rooms?

The Review

Fangirl by Rainbow Rowell has been on my to read list for a long time. I had been approved for a Netgalley ARC when the book first came out, but this was before I knew to check archive dates and the galley expired before I got to it. Every time I went into a book store or the library I was drawn to it, but there were too many books in my review pile. So I was super excited to see it listed at the digital download library as an audio book AND it was available for immediate download. SCORE!

I figured Fangirl could go one of two was - be corny and mock fandoms or be really cute and poke fun at the sometimes over the top fanaticism. I'm happy to report it was the latter. I giggled through the whole story. Rowell crafted some great lines and if I hadn't been listening to the audio book I would have a long list of witty lines to share with you. And they were delivered wonderfully by the narrator Rebecca Lowman.

Fangirl took me back to my own college days. Cath and Wren are twins (their mother didn't know she was having twins and only had picked out one name) who are starting college. Though they are identical they are like opposite sides of the same coin. At first I thought Cath was just an introvert, but she is almost debilitatingly so. She didn't even know where the dining hall was for her own dorm community and was too shy to even ask her roommate. She found it only because her roommate thought she had an eating disorder and forced her to the dining hall. By the way, I loved Reagan. And I want my own Levi. He's so sweet and doesn't love Cath despite her weirdness (her word) but because of it.

I hated when the end of the story came. I wasn't ready for it to end. I want more of Cath and Wren and Levi and Reagan. Is there going to be a sequel?

I think I would rate Fangirl by Rainbow Rowell as one of my top 5 favorite coming of age stories. It was made all the better because it incorporated all the fun cliches and hit just the right tone for poking fun at fan fiction and fandoms (in the way that only members of a fandom can poke fun at one another and not be hurtful). If you are part of a fanfic fandom and can't laugh at yourself, then you might want to skip this book. But really it is just kind of tongue in cheek comedy. And it was just a bonus. The best parts were the developing relationship between Cath and Levi. This relationship is also why I want a sequel. I'm just not ready to say goodbye to this adorable couple. Hmm... I wonder if there is a fandom for Fangirl....

If you are looking for a fun, light read then look no further than Fangirl by Rainbow Rowell. It should be on every girl's reading list.

Buy Fangirl at Amazon

Book info:
Available formats: ebook, audio, print (448 pages)
Published: September 2013 by Listening Library ISBN13: 9780804121316
Genres: humor, coming of age, chicklit, romance
Audience: New adult
Source: Digital Library
Listened: October 2014

Girl Who Reads is an Amazon advertising affiliate; a small fee is earned when purchases are made at Amazon through the above link.

October 6, 2014

Review: Twisted Dreams by @MarissaFarrar

by Claire Rees

A coming of age story with a twist!

Twisted Dreams

‘I am a dhampyre- born of a human mother to a vampire father. My parents did their best to raise me as any normal child, but hey when your dad survives by drinking the blood of other people, something like that is always going to play on a girls mind’ – Elizabeth Bandores

The Review

I have read all the previous works of this author and jumped at the chance to read and review Marissa Farrar’s newest release Twisted Dreams.

We start off with a girl, Elizabeth, leaving home for the first time and going to college in a different town to the one she grew up in, in order to gain some independence.  However Elizabeth is no ordinary college girl, she is a Dhampyre; half human and half vampire.  Elizabeth hopes that by moving away from home that she can lead a normal life for a change.

But this is not the case, on the way to college an electrical wire has been knocked onto the middle of the road. It hits Elizabeth’s car and fries the electrics.  With her car in the garage she manages to get to college a little late but unharmed.  From here on she makes a few friends and goes to the carnival that has set up in town.  She has a premonition that one of the rides is faulty and that people are going to be hurt and rushes to tell the tall dark and handsome carnival guy who is controlling the ride. It turns out her premonition comes true and now she is under suspicion from the police and her friends as she cannot explain how she knew the ride was faulty.

She has also gotten the interest of the carnival owner and his thugs who are not so friendly and she finds herself in terrible danger and doesn’t know who she can turn to or trust. Even her friends have magical secrets.

I would recommend this book to all who love the paranormal and magic. But also to those who love YA books and coming of age stories full of danger and mystery.

Buy Twisted Dreams at Amazon

Book info:
Available formats: ebook
Published: September 2014 by Warwick House Press
Genre: paranormal romance, coming of age
Audience: New adult
Source: Author
Read: September 2014

Girl Who Reads is an Amazon advertising affiliate; a small fee is earned when purchases are amde at Amazon through the above link. A free ebook was provided for this review.