A Dreamwidth community I belong to (ushobwri) has a Monster Fest during October when members are prompted to write about various ‘monsters’ and link to things they have written in the past as well as reccing work they have enjoyed by others. At the end of October they are encouraged to upload their offerings to a collection on AO3.
(At this point they go into support mode for members who are doing nanowrimo in November. The group’s name is a condensation of ‘you should be writing’.)
Not all the work is fanfic. AO3 is happy to host original work if it is part of a fannish collection or uses obvious fannish tropes. Members of the group are mostly interested in fanfic but write original stuff too.
One or two of the things I posted are already on this site in among other ‘free stuff’ and poetry, but most of the ficlets apart from the first one are new. The shifter ficlet is mm romance (nothing explicit) but otherwise the fics are gen. I have still used ‘not rated’ and ‘chose not to warn’ because my volunteer work for AO3 showed me you can never second guess what will trigger readers.
They are, inevitably, very short, because there were only a couple of days between prompts. But taken as a whole I’m quite pleased with them. I hope you will be too!
I was going to write about what appeals to me in the books I give four and five stars then I saw this meme.It’s one a few of my friends have done. I think it was originally conceived for the world of fanfiction but it works for original fiction tastes too, although it doesn’t cover crime stories which I also like. If you want to play, copy and paste the whole thing then post substituting your choices.
Slow burn OR love at first sight
Slow, please. Love at first sight always seems more like lust at first sight and either unrealistic or realistic but doomed. It can be fun, but not for longer stories or novels. Besides, I like following the details of decisions made over time.
Fake dating OR secret dating
Fake dating, because it’s fun to read as it gradually turns into not-so-fake. Secret dating – if that means people are in the closet about their attraction to each other and don’t want to be seen together – no, not for me. Again, if it means one or the other is already in a relationship, it’s a no-no. Not that I don’t think it can happen, and might make a good topic for a novel, but it isn’t a trope I go for.
Enemies to lovers OR best friends to lovers
I like both. If I have to choose I’ll have best friends to lovers because, as with the previous tropes, I like the slow realisation. With the enemies trope it sort of depends why they’re enemies in the first place.
Oh no there’s only one bed OR long distance with correspondence
I like long distance correspondence fic. I find it amusing and it’s usually a nice slow burn. I’m not keen on the one bed trope – it’s been done to death, and I don’t find it all that realistic.
Fantasy AU OR modern AU
I write fantasy… So I’ll say fantasy but I prefer urban or sci fi fantasy and don’t go much for the heroic kind unless it happens to be Lord of the Rings or Game of Thrones. Modern AUs are fine in their own way – I assume this mostly refers to fanfiction. I can’t be bothered with many coffee shop fics, and college fics are a turn-off, but sticking the characters of e.g. SGA in an urban American setting can be interesting. I’ve personally written modern police characters in a mediaeval setting and find using a different period/location is a good way of exploring the core character. I do think quite often the writer ends up with an original story, merely hung on the names and character traits of the originals.
Smut OR fluff
I don’t really like smut if that means erotica. I tend to skim long sex scenes to get to the next bit of plot. I don’t really like fluff, either, since I like stories to have something serious about them as well as the romance element. Above all, I’m there for the story, not the details of the sex or romance. If I have to choose, I suppose fluff. I have read some very sweet short stories but I would quickly lose interest if they were longer. Mutual pining OR domestic bliss
Mutual pining can be interesting. Domestic bliss rarely is. The details of other people’s domestic trivia simply don’t appeal. Having said that, I do like domestic details – if the characters don’t seem to shop, cook or eat I start to suspend disbelief. Alternate universe OR future fic
Both please. In fanfiction I’m very happy with AUs in which canon characters don’t die, or make irrevocable bad decisions. I’ll even write it/have written it. I like future fic – I think good sci fi lets us explore our own society in a new context, and the same goes for any story set in a future, near or distant.
One shot OR multi-chapter
I have read lots of short stories I’ve enjoyed, but if I have to choose, the longer the better. And I do like people to break their work into discrete chapters, preferably with chapter headings. I actually seek out trilogies, too. I have a horror of unfinished WIPs, though, so each book has to stand reasonably alone. Think Robert Jordan… until Brad Sanderson took over there were a lot of angst-ridden fans, and at the moment the same applies to George RR Martin
Kid fic OR road trip fic
Kid fic if it’s well written. But I suppose that goes for anything, really. Road trips are OK as part of a longer story but I wouldn’t choose to read something with a road trip as the focus unless it was written by a friend and I felt obliged…
Reincarnation OR character death
Neither if it can be helped. I am very wary about reincarnation or anything similar that presupposes religious premises. And I dislike major character death quite intensely though I don’t mind if someone is recovering from losing a loved one who died before the story starts.
Arranged marriage OR accidental marriage
I think arranged marriage is interesting as a concept. In fact, I’ve just written a novel based around it. I find accidental marriage unlikely and can be irritated by the trope. It almost has to be a comedy and I don’t choose comedies often.
Time travel OR isolated together
Isolated together stories (e.g. snowed in cabin) can lead to some good character exploration. I don’t like time travel much.
Neighbours OR roommates
I think I prefer neighbours. Room mates tend to be college fic or very young adult fic which is not really my scene. Neighbours demand some serious world building which I enjoy.
Sci-fi AU OR magic AU
I like sci fi – as I’ve mentioned once or twice already. I also like magical universes and write them… So both, please! If I have to choose I’ll go with the magic but be sad about abandoning the space. Having said that, I don’t much like space opera any more than I like earth-based military fiction. So it rather depends on the context. Bodyswap OR genderbend
I’m not particularly keen on either of these. Bodyswap is difficult for authors to present in a way that lets me suspend disbelief. Genderbend can be interesting, but frankly, I’d sooner read a story about someone who was trans, or cross dressing, or something more seriously in need of fictional exploration.
Angst OR crack
What a strange pair of tropes to set against each other. I’ve read brilliant versions of both and can’t choose.
Apocalyptic OR mundane
I quite like post apocalypse future fic but am rarely keen on zombies. Mundane modern stories have to be extremely good to hold my interest over a whole novel but some authors do a fantastic job.
I thought since it is almost my birthday I would try this ‘over the past year’ meme, adapted to include both original writing and fanfiction. Incidentally, I removed my birthday from all social media when I read an article that suggested it was an easy hook to enable hackers to access and use my personal data. I have read nothing to encourage me to put it back. I cheerfully help other people celebrate but I’d prefer to keep my own celebrations confined to close friends and family. If you want to wish me a happy October, go ahead!
Have I been consistent in my main writing over the past year?
I haven’t included previous figures for comparison because it was hard enough to tease this lot out. I’ve gone with dates of publication/posting which is by no means the same as writing… Any other data set was too convoluted to share.
Total works October 2019 to October 2020
Fanfiction: 3 stories plus 1 piece of meta.
Published works for sale: 3 novels and 1 collection of 5 short stories.
Free original works available on my website (includes ficlets, short stories, meta and poetry but not critiques): 11
So: 23 or 21 if you want to subtract the meta.
What’s your first and second most common work rating?
For fanfiction on AO3 I always use ‘not rated’. Occasionally my work is totally general and needs no ratings but I prefer to use ‘not rated’ as a default. I know some people will therefore not read but frankly, that’s not important for me.
For original work I sometimes put the adult warning on Smashwords. It really depends how I think parents would view a book if a younger teenager read it. By that, I don’t mean my own attitudes, just the majority ones.
I don’t write ‘erotica’ in either format, but I do take the characters as far as sex. This is usually non-explicit but definitely present in the text.
How many fics have you written in each relationship category?
The fanfiction and the original stories, free and for sale, are all either mm or ff (or both) except for Answering Amanda which is for children even though it’s in my fae ‘verse. (It’s on my website.)
What are your top four fandoms by number?
For fanfiction I’ve written three auction fics this past year. One was SGA and the other two were Star Trek spin-off shows. I’ve written quite a bit of SGA in the past. Star Trek was a new venture.
For original work I’ve finished my fae series and my elf detective series and written some short stories, some of which were actually written earlier but polished for publication or posting since October 2019.
Who are your top seven characters?
In fanfiction this doesn’t apply this year. The three fics were totally different characters and pairings.
Obviously in my original work the bulk of my time was devoted to the main characters in my two series. The short works were very diverse and not connected with the series, apart from Answering Amanda as already explained.
And top six relationships?
Again, not really applicable.
If we’re thinking about the ones I’ve most enjoyed writing and have put a lot of work into, for fanfiction I had fun exploring John Sheppard and Todd the Wraith from SGA, and then Hugh and Elnor from Picard.
For my original fiction, I’ve brought both series to a conclusion and am sad to say goodbye to the characters. The focus of Living Fae is the mm relationship between Harlequin and Yarrow. The strong sub plot in The Skilled Investigators is the mm relationship between Fel and Rath. In the final volume I gave the major character, Genef, a possible romance in her future when a would-be suitor turned up, but she’ll have to get on with it without my assistance.
I started wondering about word count.
A lot of people are a great deal more prolific than I am but often their works are much shorter. I do have ficlets (and poems) in the mix and it was difficult to come up with an exact count but I think taking everything above into consideration I’d give a ballpark figure of 272,000 which I consider quite respectable and about average for me.
Meanwhile I’ve written a short story for Christmas which is about 10,000 and have extensively polished a short novel which is about 60,000. These are both in the editing/formatting process so I haven’t included them above. I’ve also written 7 ficlets for a writing community monster fest – more about that when I post the collection. That adds about another 40,000.
Altogether I’ve worked on approximately 382,000 words in the past year. Maybe I should look back next year, too! But the projects I have in mind are nowhere near as word-intensive so maybe not!
The recommended if you can still find them anywhere.
Galaxy Quest***** (1999) I adore this film and was seriously happy to watch it yet again. A wonderful spoof of Star Trek but also a wonderful space adventure in its own right.
Manctopia**** BBC looking at the building boom in Manchester (where I live) and assessing the effects on various slices of the population.
Cyberbully**** Maisie Williams (think Arya in Game of Thrones) is alone on the screen for a riveting hour in a drama about cyber bullying.
Opioids Inc **** Interesting look at the start of opioid addiction in US and the results, plus the influence of the big Pharmas.
Plague Fiction BBC4**** A look at literature written during and about plague, particularly the Black Death throughout the ages.
Des (and factual follow up) – with David Tennant**** The arrest, interrogation and trial of Desmond Nielson, who killed and dismembered at least fifteen young men. Gripping and gruesome. I quite like these docu-dramas that revisit crimes I was aware of at the time; somehow they put everything into context.
The Princess Spy **** Noor Inayat Khan was a young woman who was Indian royalty but died as a spy in occupied France, working on behalf of Britain, her adopted country. A blue plaque has recently been placed on her home in London.
The watchable but not highly recommended.
Secrets of Center Parcs*** How the holiday venues were founded and made popular.
Star Trek: Discovery Season 1*** I watched with intense concentration so that I could write a fanfic for an auction bidder who is thankfully pleased with the result. Plot and characters are interesting but I could do without all the space battles and special effects so might not get round to watching Season 2.
The Cult that Stole Children (Storyville) *** The chilling story of a woman and her friends who got away with kidnap, child abuse, and a great deal of falsification of documents in Australia. They had friends in high places and although they were brought back from US to answer for their crimes, they were merely fined. The woman died recently in her nineties, in a care home for those suffering from dementia. I would have liked more detail and less drama.
Galaxies and Oceans by NR Walker***** An mm romantic mystery set on Kangaroo Island off the south coast of Australia. Gorgeous.
In a House of Lies by Ian Rankin***** Siobhan, Malcom and Rebus are catapulted into a cold case when a body is found in an abandoned car. The usual vivid detail about Edinburgh, the characters, and modern policing.
Romancing the Undercover Millionaire by Clare London***** An exciting mm thriller set in the wine trade.
Alike as two bees by Elin Gregory***** Stonemasons, stone carvers and the people who employ them in Ancient Greece. Lovely romantic mm story that brought the period and place to life. I was reminded of Tom Holt’s The Walled Garden but this had a more delicate touch.
Dark/Darker by Paul L Arvidson***** Bks 1 and 2 of Dark Trilogy. What I want to know is when book 3 is coming. It was supposed to be published earlier this year. Fascinating sci fi with memorable characters. To say anything further would give spoilers; a lot of the pleasure stems from the gradual unfolding of the plot and the world. Warning: it could have used better proof reading but in spite of that I give it five stars.
In the Middle of Somewhere and Better than People by Roan Parrish**** Two sweet and well written rural mm romances, neither quite gripping enough to make me buy the sequels.
A Vineyard in Andalusia by Maria Dueñas**** Great historical detail about nineteenth century life in Mexico, Cuba and Spain and excellent writing but I didn’t like the characters.
The Unspoken by Ian K Smith*** Too many gangsters in Chicago. I nearly abandoned this thriller but wanted to see what happened. I believe there are sequels but I won’t be buying them. (I didn’t buy this; it was a free read from Amazon Prime.) Well done, just not to my taste.
The Brandy Trade under the Ancien Régime by L.M.Cullen.*** Some interesting information about the growth of the international trade in spirits but too much dry financial and legal detail so I skimmed.
The Layered Mask by Sue Brown*** Regency mm with rather stereotypical characters and a somewhat contrived ending. Well written.
My Anti-Marriage by DJ Jamison*** Too much sex and a very slight story though it’s a pleasant plot and well written.
Rain by Nick Thiwerspoon*** A nice ficlet on Nick’s blog.
Nothing abandoned this month! Is this a first?
Torchwood High by Pooky1234 **** Very clever and well done. Alexa has been promoting this on her author FB page and I can add my recommendation. A convoluted story about the staff (and a few kids) in a Welsh high school. However, I like Torchwood for the aliens and really missed them… It’s long: 290619 words so take a deep breath! https://archiveofourown.org/works/22937830
Riders of the Purring Sage by Edonohana **** A delightful very short story (2906 words) about cat herding in the old wild west. No romance, just lots of cats and a possible ghost. Could be a good Hallowe’en read. http://archiveofourown.org/works/12934236
I finally finished my last auction fanfic. I had only offered one for FandomTrumpsHate but the mods asked if people were willing to write for the second highest bidder. In a moment of insanity I agreed!
The problem was that it was, to me, a new fandom. I had, admittedly, offered to write anything! So, I had to binge watch the first season of the show (Star Trek Discovery) and then find a friend who already knew it to hold my hand through plotting and writing. It was also a het pairing which is not something I write frequently. Plus, it was a canon romance so I had to be doubly careful. However, I managed to twist canon to give the characters an extra mission on another planet and had fun creating aliens for interaction.
I’m glad, on the whole, that I offered to write for the auctions. They were both very good causes. Fandom For Australia was for charities with a focus on the aftermath of the fires, and FandomTrumpsHate was for a variety of charities including justice for migrant children, gay rights, and other causes I support.
I did contribute a small amount to various charities anyway, but thought that writing and having my bidders contribute was a way to make extra for them!
I might offer again but I think I would be careful only to offer fandoms I’m already familiar with. All three requests were very specific and required a lot of research and careful watching of episodes. It wasn’t that I didn’t enjoy it – I did – but it was very time consuming, and to add to that, it was hard to find beta readers/proof readers who were also familiar with the fandoms because of course my friends and usual readers tend to share my tastes!
So, to recap:
*A story in Star Trek Picard for Fandom For Australia. I ended up loving the show as much as my giftee does but again it meant a lot of time catching up! And the pair she wanted spent all of ten minutes together on screen plus it had to be an ‘everybody lives; nobody dies’ story to make sense of the request.
*A story in SGA for FandomTrumpsHate, with a rare alien/human pairing. That was hard but once I’d got my head round it the idea was fun to explore.
*A story in Star Trek Discovery, also for FandomTrumpsHate. Canon het romance but one which is in some ways doomed so working out a plot was hard. Also, needed binge watching.
My stories are on AO3 and are all getting kudos which is nice. The SGA giftee is thrilled with their fic, which is good. I haven’t heard from the other two yet. I hope they’re equally pleased.
The graphic for this post was made by me in Photoshop and Paint using two promotion photographs of the main characters in my Discovery story, on a background of stones by James Coleman (free download on Unsplash).
As the pandemic passes it would seem
Each night and every morning
I step into a vivid world of dream.
Lurid landscapes beckon
With skies bluer than before con trails disappeared.
Vast disasters threaten
With casts of everyone
I’ve ever known.
I cannot call
These nightmares; I am unscathed,
Barely concerned for my own safety through it all.
I watch events unfold,
Never able to warn or aid,
Just seeing the world around me fall apart
In brilliant pieces as if the jeweller’s art
Applied itself to our humanity
Creating necklaces of catastrophe.
Like a horseman of the apocalypse
Revolve before my gaze
And those affected
Are my parents (long gone)
Or others from my past,
Before I ever heard of a pandemic,
Before our world
Was suddenly undone,
Before figures of mortality or cases
Filled our news,
Assaulted us with dread,
Never knowing who would, next, be dead.
Try as I might,
Avoiding cheese, coffee, alcohol or blue screens
Late at night,
Reading uplifting books,
Watching heartwarming films,
Even while my family remains untouched it seems
I am fated to live, each time I sleep,
In Covid dreams.
(Like others, I’ve been having long strange dreams since the pandemic took hold here. So I wrote about them, wondering how many people’s sleep is similarly disrupted.)
Woodstock: Three Days that defined a generation**** Interesting. My generation but I think we were on our honeymoon at the time – at any rate, we missed even mentions on the news!
George V: The Tyrant King**** Fascinating look at the life of a rarely mentioned monarch.
The Teacup Poisoner **** Another programme about Graham Young the psychopathic serial killer, or just possibly a re-watch
Teacher with Tourette’s**** Interesting and I hope her career goes well
True Lies *** (again) Once the novelty and suspense have worn off, the film loses its sparkle. Try telling my husband that.
The highly recommended:
Master Wolf by Joanna Chambers ***** (Capital wolves bk 2) Werewolves in historical Edinburgh. Delicious.
Nightvine/Shadebloom by Felicia Davin***** The Gardener’s Handbook 2 and 3. Gorgeous trilogy which mixes fantasy, politics and lgbtq themes.
Spellbound/Starcrossed by Allie Therin***** Rory and Ace with magic in 1920s Manhattan – look out for Wonderstruck in 2021!
Romantic Renovations by Blake Allwood **** a TV reality show plus skulduggery. Very readable.
Moonstone by K-lee Klein**** Stone Magic bk 1 Tattoos and magic. Nice story and I might buy the sequel.
Echoes of Blood by Fiona Glass**** Liverpool vampires. A slightly dark story, outside my normal reading. Very well done.
Don’t make a sound by TR Ragan *** Unmemorable thriller centred round a disfunctional US family and their partial memories.
Paper Girls by Alex Smith*** Humdrum UK police procedural.
The Stranger Diaries by Elly Griffiths*** Another humdrum UK thriller. Merely having a detective of colour is not enough…
Meet me in Cocklebury Bay by Nicola May*** Nowhere near as good as the first because it lacks the novelty and suspense but I’ve bought the third so will read it.
As Big as the Sky by Amy Aislin*** nicely written but ultimately unmemorable mm romance.
Summer with the country village vet by Zara Stoneley*** Basically boring romance (chicklit?) with a lot of repetition/padding.
Work for it by Talia Hibbert*** Another sweet but unmemorable mm romance set in a small English town during the elderflower harvest.
And the dire:
Edinburgh Twilight by Carole Lawrence* Poor writing and research. It began to be obvious that this was an American author with a sketchy understanding of Scottish culture.
None this month
The Herring Seller’s Apprentice by LC Tyler – a boring whodunnit
A Light Amongst Shadows by Kelly York – it didn’t seem worth wading through present tense
Trust No-one by Debra Webb – a prologue that gives away part of the ending put me off
Stealing the Crown by TP Fielden – an odd concept with crime in Buckingham Palace.
Murder at Melrose Court by Karen Baugh Menuhin – too much forced humour
The Hawk and the Wolf by Fledhyris***** Loosely based on Supernatural and Ladyhawk, with echoes of various mediaeval books and shows. Lovely writing though I would say that as she’s my daughter. https://archiveofourown.org/works/25004080
Perpetual Motion by esteefee***** SGA/Sentinel fusion in an alternate universe. Probably accessible to anyone with the faintest idea of the characters and the concept. https://archiveofourown.org/works/23990572
I’m telling you about my fanfiction again because I spent a great deal of time this year writing for the Fandom Trumps Hate and Fandom For Australia auctions in which someone bids for your work. The highest bidder gets a fic and pays to a specified charity. I foolishly agreed to write another fic for my second highest bidder in FTH and am still working on that.
My highest bidder wanted Stargate Atlantis, which is one of my fandoms, and requested an unusual human/alien pairing. I had great fun researching and writing the story and so far, people seem to like it.
Writing fanfiction is interesting and in no way do I regard it as less valuable than my original work. It does require slightly different skills with regard to plot, location and character, but it demands the same attention to language and story structure.
I explored the breakdown of team dynamics in the face of one member moving in a different direction, and possible aspects of the culture of an alien race who were only ever depicted in the show as a stereotypical enemy.
The story is very loosely based on canon, with an alternative perspective on some events, until near the end when it veers off into an alternative universe altogether with a happy ending. I think if you know the show at all you will probably find it all makes sense, but I also think anyone who doesn’t know the show and characters might find the story confusing at times because I condensed various references to canon in order not to spend ages writing about things fans already know.
Readers might notice that all the chapter headings are based on quotations from various books, shows and songs. The graphics are by me. The title is the title of a film I like which also has a human/alien romance though nothing else in common with my story.
Anyway, some of you might like sci-fi and some of you might like the human/alien romance. If so, give it a try and I hope you enjoy it!
Just a brief post to let you know what I’ve been doing. The first of my fandom auction fics is posted. My winner in the Fandom For |Australia auction is a close friend and when she asked for this particular pairing I had to watch the show rapidly! My story has spoilers for Season 1 so unless you’ve either watched or don’t intend to watch, don’t read! It was hard work turning ten minutes of screen time into ten thousand words but I thoroughly enjoyed the process. I hope some of you will enjoy it too. I especially hope my giftee likes it!
I don’t often mention my fanfic here but thought I would since it occupied a huge chunk of my time and was also for a very worthwhile cause. I think between us my winner and I contributed a great deal more than buying the odd bracelet!
The last volume in my Skilled Investigator series is live on Amazon and Smashwords and will be distributed to Smashwords’ varied retailers. (I use Smashwords as well as Amazon to let people choose which e-reader they prefer.)
This time around I’ve had a battle with formatting because Word, which both sites prefer, chose to hide formatting from me and the mess only showed up when Smashwords tried converting to EPub. I think Word hates me. I certainly hate it back! It really shouldn’t be necessary to convert to EPub to see hidden formatting. I know all about pilcrows etc. but this really was hidden – different font sizes appearing in other formats when they were perfect in the source document. As Smashwords said, the only answer was to ‘nuke’ the formatting via Notepad and start again.
It seems like forever since I started this series, and indeed the first volume was already a chaos of plans and notes before I published anything else. I’ve lived with the characters and world in my mind for about ten years now, longer than some relationships last. Genef has, I hope, grown during the series and is now a fully fledged Investigator, mentoring Scratch, who is nearing the end of his own training. There will soon be a dragon Investigator in the Guild after this final case, which takes place in Stoneyhill, Genef’s childhood home, and closely concerns both her friends and the mine where she found Scratch hatching from his egg. There’s the usual gay romance sub-plot for Fel, who finds a happy ending, and there’s romantic hope for Genef too. In case that sounds too sweet and sickly, let me add that there is plenty of death, disappearance and detection for Genef and her dragon companion to solve. I’ll miss them but it was perhaps time we parted company.
Now that this series, and the Living Fae one, are finished, I’m wondering whether to try creating boxed sets. Any thoughts?
I’ve also written a short story in the Living Fae ‘verse, and that’s with my editor; I expect to post it as a ‘freebie’ round about Christmas. Besides that I’ve been working on the rewrites for my stories written for the fandom auctions.
Anyway, all that, especially the formatting fiasco, explains why I’ve been fairly absent this month. I haven’t even managed my monthly in-depth review. All I can say is that I was away on holiday for a week then plunged into formatting which stole my brain.