Someone at MGC suggested I do a self-promo with a random book and/or series every week. But I feel like just telling you “oh, yeah, I wrote this, buy it” is probably…. well. Look, I think if I’m going to sell you something, I should at least make the commercial fun. Perhaps not as much fun as those commercials that you end up singing the jingle for apropos nothing years later (husband was doing that yesterday night and I thought he’d gone insane, since I recognized neither the brand nor the jingle. Turns out to be something from when he was very young.)
Anyway…. If all goes as it should — the internal, self-sabotaging periods of absolute silence seem to be …. shorter now — I should have something new soon, and then, you know, a lot of things that I can link as promo. We also haven’t dropped the promo site thing on the floor, we’re just working on around everything else, and the last week was a weird wasteland of “I don’t feel like doing THAT.” On the interesting and “This must stop now” side, I’ve now achieved the level that I’m so self-isolated so long that going to the grocery store and maybe talking to the cashier produces the same reaction as going to a large, loud party with strangers used to. Note this is not happy making. Note also I’m not NEARLY the most introverted person around. In my normal state, I need to see strangers everyday — note see, not interact with beyond perhaps ordering some food, and/or paying for something — which I understand is a fairly high level of engagement for an introvert. So, we’ll deal with the silence, but this is freaking me out, for the record.
So, now for the self-promo…. And today — gestures towards lovely, non-existent assistant for reveal — we’re going to promo my Austen fanfics. Since I only have two up right now, and one is a short story, I’ll do them together. Actually if the lovely ontologically challenged assistant can wait till the end of the post, that might be best.
When I put this out on FB as “I wrote this” a lot of people were shocked and confused, and my response was to link the meme above.
But of course it wasn’t true.
For one, most of Austen fanfic I’ve written, both the finished and almost finished, and that needing only a good scrubbing with the editor’s sponge, was written for free. Because at the time there was no indie publishing and self-publishing required an enormous investment of time, plus getting Dan to typeset it, because typesetting was way harder.
It wasn’t however done for no reason.
Cast your mind back to the fraught and perilous times of 1998. My husband had a traveling job that involved being away from home 5 days a week, and a day usually spent preparing to go out. I was at home with kids aged 7 and 4. Sure, I went out and did grocery shopping, and because younger son was a picky eater and cooking for two has never been one of my skills, I knew every single “kids eat free” diner and restaurant around, and which days they offered this. (It was a wash. Younger son didn’t eat at all. Older son, OTOH ate like a farmhand, so particularly in buffets I made out like a bandit.)
I had a friend, also a writer, whom I called as soon as the kids were safely at school and before I sat down to write. She figures prominently in my “9/11 experience” story, as she was the one called me screaming “Turn on your TV.”
Normally, one of us called the other, and we talked about ideas, plans, where the story on the drawing board would go today, etc, all while walking around the house and doing a bit of clear-up. Flushing toilets, picking up kids’ clothes. Making sure the dodos hadn’t forgotten their books/homework. You know, the usual. And then I’d make and drink my coffee, sometimes while finishing the conversation.
But I was still lonely. Friends lived across town, and anyway, they had their lives and their routines. And most of the time it was just me, or me and two kids in the house.
At the same time, 98 was the year that tried writers’ souls. It was the year I wrote Darkship Thieves. And a lot of other stuff, to be honest. BUT everything I sent out was either rejected or — for contests — ignored. This while people around me were selling who had been writing a lot briefer time.
Now, some of that stuff eventually sold exactly as was; other had minor tweaks. There’s started novels never finished, which I need to make decisions about. But for the record, sure, there was something missing from my writing at the time.
I had reached the point in my acculturation 10 years after naturalization where I was no longer getting all the wrong responses. Not even close. But I still didn’t fully understand the audience. And I’ll be honest, I’m not even sure that this has anything to do with acculturation. It has more to do with the fact I’m a very strange person (as you’ll see) and I didn’t know where to aim for what other people look for in stories.
More or less because I was bored, wasn’t sleeping much, needed time to unwind after the kids were in bed, I found fanfic boards. Which is weird, because as you guys know, I don’t watch enough TV/movies to really be a fan of visual stuff. And that’s what most fanfic is about.
At some point a lightbulb went on in the back of my head. You see, it goes something like this: part of the problem I’m having with writing is that I never get any feedback. “Thank you, this doesn’t fit our needs” is not feedback, as it might be true or not. And when I got feedback, it was often bizarre and made me go “arooo” like the one that accused me of stealing a TV show plot. Again, we had a TV (that thing I turned on on 9/11, but we were in a very small mountain town, and mostly the TV showed snow, with some vague images (it sort of did that on 9/11 which is why my visual memories are fuzzy.) Which meant while we bought tapes of movies and hows, occasionally, and the kids had a bunch of cartoons and stuff, we didn’t WATCH any series. I no longer remember what the series was but when I tracked it down I found that one of the characters had the same name as in the story and VAGUELY the same physical description. No commonality of idea or plot, but oh, well, editors.
Also I was pessimistic enough to think I might never get published, but writing isn’t complete if no one reads it, so fanfic would fulfill that.
I started actively looking around for a fanfic I COULD do. I briefly read a McCaffrey Pern fanfic site, but before I could write in it, it was shut down.
Which made me look for a fandom I a) understood the originals of. b) was not going to be shut down by the copyright owner.
Keep in mind at this time, I’d read no romance as such, save for Jane Austen, because grandma had Jane Austen and I read all of it, and then Dan gave me the leather-bound collection of her works when we were first married. (It would be five years before Dave Freer demand I read Heyer which was in a way the road to perdition. Okay, not really, I still don’t read a ton of romance, though I do revisit Heyer periodically.)
So, Austen wasn’t the first thing I thought of, and I don’t remember how I stumbled on it. When I did, though, I was perfectly happy to use it as my outlet. There were several sites, ranging from purist to erotica (I went to that one once, but never wrote in it, because — again — to me this stuff is not a spectator sport.)
What If He Were To Pick Me? Was my first work of fanfic. It got me thrown out of one of the more…. literary sites due to “unrully pillows” which frankly was not even a sexual allusion, just insanity that fed on itself.
In fact, the entire short novel is galloping and ever-ramping-up insanity. If you remember I was stuck at home with two genius-IQ kids, 4 and 7 and that most of my “professional” career consisted of getting rejections, some of them rude, I think you’ll get where this came from.
I’ll note that in reading over this before it went up, I found it was quite fun. Provided you leave sanity behind with no regret, of course. If you think about it as galloping madly down an increasingly silly path you’ll be fine.
He Turned Out Very Wild, OTOH was written four years later. And it was …. played for “serious.” There are others, including how Lizzy and Darcy’s son falls in love with Miss Collins, and a few others. But those are either not finished or lack internal consistency. As life opens up a little, I’ll try to get those up too.
Keep in mind, I’m not looking down on the fandom. I am the fandom. In fact, when stressed I default to reading Austen fanfic from KU, and get incensed if people change the characters completely, (kind of, on What If He Were To Pick Me, but it’s more like I made caricatures of the characters, which was necessary to fit the premise. Not like I just used the names.) I particularly get very upset when people take the characters and make them different for no Earthly reason. Particularly if they make everyone unpleasant.
The one where Jane becomes the villainess, they made some effort to explain it (amounting to “you can’t be that nice all the time without ending up resentful particularly when all people praise about you is your beauty.) and I read it in sick fascination. OTOH the ones where for no good reason people marry other people, and people behave quite differently from in the original work without explanation…. those bother me. And often get deleted. One which bothered me by having Jane marry the Colonel and not Bingley for what seemed like insufficient reason, I forgave when it became clear the author was a veteran who identified with the colonel. If you can’t Marty Stu a little in fanfic, and give yourself the prettiest wife, where can you do it?
I do think I’m somewhat askew to normal Austen fans, but it’s entirely possible I’m somewhat askew to the world in general.
Anyway, what fanfic taught me, that I could never have learned from a writing course was this:
1- Make your book easy to enjoy. No matter what your literature professors taught you, don’t make the reader work for the enjoyment. Sure, you can have little jokes, and fun stuff in the prose, but make sure it’s not something the reader needs to enjoy the work at its most basic level. This was much needed, because ABD in literature warps a woman.
2- People really don’t like to work hard. I.e. despite this being AUSTEN fanfic, the most popular stories were set in present day. Mind you, I don’t GET this. I still prefer regency Austen fanfic, but you know…. I’m not right n the head.
3- There’s surprises and surprises, and every fandom/subgenre has surprises they won’t tolerate. For the Austen fanfic, say you started with Fitzwilliam marrying Caroline. The cry would go up “Fix this now.” In the same way, making your hero the villain halfway through the book is not well received in any genre. Having the villain be impersonal forces also tends to p*ss off readers.
In fact, you could say what I learned was to respect and play fair with the reader. Which explains also why shortly thereafter I started getting published, and continued to this day.
Now, my beautiful non existent assistant will unveil the lovely fanfic books, to include the fantasy collaboration in the Witchfinder universe (but not world.)
Take it away, assistant.
What if Mr. Darcy, trying to avoid the appearance of being lofty and proud, so far mistook himself as to be charmed by Lydia Bennet?
How long could the fair strumpet lady hold his interest? How would Elizabeth Bennet feel about it?
As all the Bennet sisters fall into the strangest of relationships, you’ll fear you lost your mind. But you haven’t. Just grab your sweetie and a whip – in case of unruly pillows – and hire a Bennet coach to Gretna Green. They have the best carriages, and guarantee no one will catch you.
Then hold on to your hat. You’re in for the ride of your life.
In the original Pride and Prejudice by Jane Austen there was only enough good between Darcy and Wickham to make a “good sort of man.”
But what if this were not true? What if what we — and Darcy — think we know about Wickham was all wrong? What if sweet Jane Bennet were right all along, and there was some great misunderstanding?
In this short story of intrigue and crime, one might end up feeling sorry for George Wickham himself.
A Pride and Prejudice Variation.
In a world that puts shape shifters to death, Mr. Darcy was unfortunate enough to be born as a were-dragon.
But the cruel laws don’t always find their victims. Mr. Darcy has survived and protected Mr. Bingley who is a werewolf.
Meanwhile, in Hertfordshire, Lizzy has been protecting her sister Jane who turns into a beautiful hunting dog.
When Mr. Bingley rents Netherfield, the Were-Laws and the shape shifting of three of them add extra complications to the flowering of romance between the well-loved couples. And Mr. Wickham. joining the Royal Were Hunters, lends additional danger to the situation.
Will they get together despite the danger, Lizzy’s active imagination and Mr. Darcy’s excessive nobility of character?
And that ladies and gentlemen is the extremely awkward self-promo of the week! 😀