Wednesday, 25 July 2012

JBNP awards for 2012

The JBNP awards were announced yesterday.

How blown away was I to get an award in nine of the ten categories that I was nominated in? Unbelievable. I truly thank everyone who voted for me.
I am honoured to be the All time favorite wolf author for 2012.

I think the one that I am most proud of is the beta award. I really like helping people get their own stories out of their heads and onto paper, as it were. I get a real kick out it.

Feebes was a reader of mine who kept sending me story ideas to write. She inspired me to write a funny outtake at the end of Closer to God. We were laughing about exactly how Paul the womaniser would cope with his daughter dating. I encouraged her to write her own stories down and her first was ‘Shades of Grey’

I was so proud of her when she won the favourite breakout story in the last JBNP awards. She has gone on to write other things and has won some other awards, too. Her current epic is passing 150k words and still isn’t finished yet. She (like me) likes to write the whole story before she publishes it. It is Jake/Bella. Each time she pushes herself to write things she hasn’t done before. I love seeing her develop that way.

I also beta for Ruadh sidhe. I met her on a Vin Diesel site and we became friends when I made some comments on her stories and we got chatting. She has had some issues with so isn’t posting there much anymore.

She doesn’t write twilight fanfic, she writes Vin Diesel characters from his movies, including: Riddick from Pitch Black, Shane from the Pacifier, Xander Cage from Triple X, Sean from A man Apart, and Toorop from Babylon AD. She also writes original fics; with a heavy fairy bent, as in fae of the Celtic world; some dark elves and that kind of stuff, too. Her current major work is a crossover of Aliens and Riddick that has just passed 115k. And she has made some notes for a new crossover story of Riddick and Predator.

For each story, I try to do my research; watch the movie, read the book or whatever. I can’t brainstorm and help if I don’t know what I’m talking about.
They both read my stuff in return. Seems like a raw deal to me! lol. My word count is way more than theirs.

I have also helped out bmitw with her Gods and wolves pre twilight story. She was nominated for a couple of things recently, too and has been doing well on fanfic and a few other sites. I dragged Feebes into that one too. We needed specialist advice and she is good on the brainstorming. This one is about Ephraim and the original pack. If the Cullens had never left Forks? What issue would that have for the Quileute?

I am also trying to encourage blahblahblahinifinity to finish something she ran past me ages ago. It’s a great story concept and I really hope she gets back to it. It is a Quil story and there aren’t enough of them out there. She did have almost 10k words written and some great ideas.

I also beta’d for another writer who has given it up recently, furyangoddess. She used to write Riddick, Twilight, Supernatural and Heroes fics.

I spend a few minutes each day sending a message to anyone who joined JBNP and mentioned my name as either their nominee or in their favourite fic list. I feel if I invited them to the party, I should welcome them on their arrival. A helping hand and a kind word when someone is new can make all the difference, I think. So many people asked me how the JBNP site worked when they first joined, that I actually ended up typing out a ‘how to’ guide that I could just send them before they asked me.

I have done some pre-reading for a pile of other people. I have given writing advice to others. I often get grabbed in chat by people who want to run ideas past me.

I don’t mind. If I am busy I will just say so. I have turned down a few people who asked me to beta for them, too. I just don’t have the time to get that involved in more fics, but sometimes a really neat idea will grab me. And your beta does get involved. They have to talk you down off a ledge occasionally. Convince you not every word you have written is complete crap; assure you that people will like it, read it and review (please). They also have to know the story well enough to argue with the person writing it. No way is your main character gonna do that - no way. Back in chapter three he said he would never go there again and now he is? You had better have a reason, and a thought process laid out to convince your beta let alone all the other readers.

But I swear, some days, I think my head is going to explode.

Thursday, 19 July 2012

Neil Gaiman advice

I don't have a tumblr account (be thankful for that - lol) but if I did I would totally reblog this answer that Neil Gaiman gave to a fan on his account.

My faith in humanity and in writers (who take the time to answer fans) is restored.

Hi, Neil. In a recent VlogBros. video Hank Green said that 50 Shades of Grey has sold more copies than the number of books Ray Bradbury sold in his lifetime. That worries me, and I’m afraid that it will become increasingly difficult to find brilliant literature in the future. Do you think the commercialization of literature (if that’s an appropriate phrasing) has put good, thoughtful and valuable literature at risk? The aforementioned statistic seems rather ominous. Thanks for reading.

If ever you’re curious, go and look at the annual bestseller lists for years gone by. You’ll find a lot of books that sold an unbelievable number of copies when they were fashionable. I’m sure The Revolt of Mamie Stover also sold more books than Ray Bradbury will ever have sold in his whole life in its year*. Have you read it? Heard of it?  Off the top of my head, Peyton Place in its year, or The Gospel According to Peanuts, or The Ginger Man, or even Jonathan Livingstone Seagull in their years undoubtedly outsold all of Ray Bradbury. But when their day is done, mostly those kind of books drift back into the void, and go, if not out of print, then back into a world where, even if a select few people like them, nobody quite knows why they sold that many copies any more. (Do you know who Gilbert Patten was? He sold about 500 million books in his lifetime…)
Meanwhile, Ray Bradbury sold quite a lot of books in 1956, and quite a lot of books in 2006 (Fahrenheit 451 alone has sold over 5 million copies by now), and he found his readers for his books and his stories in every year. And I’ll wager a hundred years from now he’ll still be read…
So, honestly, I wouldn’t fret, if I were you.
Nothing’s changed.Some books are, often inexplicably, even with hindsight, bestsellers. That’s been the way of it for a hundred and fifty years or more.
Read the books you love, tell people about authors you like, and don’t worry about it.
*1951. It sold over 30 million copies.

Monday, 16 July 2012

My mind and WIP

I had the bare bones of a hilarious blog post in my head last night, just as I was falling asleep. Did I write it down? No. Do I remember it this morning? No. Sigh.
My mind… honestly, I’ve lived with it for a long time now - you would think I knew it better than anyone? Wouldn’t you? I have a pen and notebook by my bedside for just such brain storm emergencies, but last night I wanted to sleep and now the idea is gone.

My problem, generally, is too many ideas and not enough time to write them all up.
I did an update on one of my fanfic stories to ask people to vote in the jbnp awards and to tell them what I am up to writing-wise. So I may as well tell you guys, too. Slight spoilers, if you haven’t read the fanfic stories.

1.            Home for Christmas.
I wrote this one shot after chatting in JBNP chat box one day about Bella's thing for older guys. Edward was 106 after all. She picks up a guy in a bar and it is not until the last line that we all work out who he really is. I think it will have to be extended - everyone says they want it extended!

I am planning it now. But there are a lot of things to think about. For example: why, after leaving Forks for five years, does she come back now? Are the wolf gods sending them both back? Via dream messages, if so, why now? Do they need all available wolves? What if the older generation of Quileute phased too? Who is Embry's father? What the heck is Sam/Embry/Jake going to say? Are the Volturi coming? Are the Cullens still around? Has Jake imprinted in the five year gap?
I must say, I asked readers these questions and they answered me in droves. I thought it was wonderful; they got so invested in the story that they all sent me their ideas. And some were pretty good. I kept them all and will make sure to thank them when I finish writing it.

It works for me for a few reasons. I object to Stephenie Meyer’s continuous obsession with age. Why can’t a person in their forties be a shape shifter, too? Sam changed when he was 19 or 20; way beyond puberty. Book Bella thought her world was going to end when she hit eighteen; I mean really?

Also I can fix up the awful family trees that Meyer produced. She made almost every kid on the rez an only child from a broken or single parent family. Think about it. Only the Clearwaters and the Blacks have siblings and even they don’t have both parents. I assume it was some attempt to contrast them all with the perfect Cullen ‘family’.

So yeah, I want a pack of older guys (and girls?). All rejuvenated and running around getting into trouble and weirding the younger pack out with their memories of aching knees and midnight toilet visits. And who would they imprint on? Now that could be fun. Double the packs, double the trouble?

2.            Swan’s mate for life
This was a femslash challenge that a friend gave me. I had never read femslash (oh wait - one, I beta’d for feebes) let alone written any. It turned out super sweet. But of course, my mind can’t leave it there.

I am messing with an idea to extend it. With Paul. Sigh. I know. *rolls eyes* He is totally my muse; it explains everything really. Lol. Not sure when I changed from the porn fairy to the poly fairy, but there you go.

I worry because a few people commented that it was so rare to see femslash and my mind wants to change it into something else. Am I betraying that? Maybe I can leave the original one shot intact and beef it up a bit for a full multi-chapter story?
The only way I could see it going is dark, complex and super angsty. If the girls actually get Paul into bed with them, what the heck would happen then? What about imprinting? If there are two wolves, there are no guarantees that they won’t imprint on someone else? What do they get out of it by complicating their previously happy relationship?

And you thought Hurt was bad? Lol
[update: 14th feb 2013. Done - ended up nearly 218k words. whoops - a real wringer of emotion]

3. Billy smut
First off, I need to say writing wheelchair sex is hard. This was a challenge from tamfan, a very involved reader of fanfic. I did want to do it for her- I have even done some research on people who provide such services (snort) for disabled people.

There truly is a need for specialist sex workers. I read a wonderful interview with the mother of a quadriplegic who organises such dates for him. She shrugged and said she already did everything else for him, so it wasn’t an issue. There are some real gems in the world.
[ done Second chances on JBNP at HERE ]

Original fiction
1.            The necklace
I was watching Torchwood, an English spinoff of Doctor Who. Totally worth it just to watch Captain Jack Harkness. Oh, and the scene in episode one of season two where he and Captain John, played by James Marsters from Spike/buffy fame, fight and then kiss and make up? Can I just say, ‘wow’.

But I digress. Mind reading. The episode was about mind reading. And of course, Edward from Twilight has such a gift.

I have often thought that it would not be a gift. We have a thousand thoughts cross our minds every day that are not ever meant to be spoken aloud. And especially not to the person you are thinking them about.

So I came up with the idea of a gypsy who has such a gift that will be passed to her granddaughter. She doesn’t want her to have it; she knows it is a curse. She imprisons the ‘gift’ in her favourite teacup. The teacup is made into a necklace. Whoever wears it has the ability to read minds.

Now, think about it. If you could read minds, what would you do?

Some people would use it for good, others for nefarious purposes. It’s human nature. So I have started writing a series of short stories; linked together by the necklace. With certain rules. If you use it for evil, the necklace is lost or stolen from you. If you use it for good, you may sell or give it away.

I was going to try to make each story fit within the seven deadly sins/seven virtues list, but I think that is too ambitious. How the heck do I write chastity or temperance?

2.            Second chances
This is an erotic one. An unhappy wife goes on a second honeymoon. Her husband ignores her during the day but at night she has a dream lover. She knows he is not entirely human, but what is he? And what do they both want? What happens when the holiday ends?

And I can let the smut muse loose.

3.            Promise
Everyone loves my Paul. I have no idea what note I have struck that resonates so well with readers, but rather than pull to publish one of my fanfic stories, I am trying to replicate that guy in an original world. He is a smart mouthed womaniser. She is his opposite; of course. Gotta follow the romance rules. Lol.

I want to make them supernatural hunters, or hunters of the supernatural. I do like writing things that are a little out of the ordinary; it’s fun, but I don’t want to make him a werewolf for obvious reasons. I also don’t want to go the instant love recipe, so I think I will go the bound together for some reason and hate each other route.

Yeah - that sounds like fun. I warn you that feebes, one of my betas, really likes this one. She convinced me to put Best Friends on fanfic and told me it would be my biggest story. I still can’t judge my own work.

4.            London.
This is another erotic romance. But this time, it is an older woman who picks up a much younger guy at a party. It was an impetuous decision and then she finds she can’t get rid of him. He won’t stay in the casual sex, toy boy box she’d prefer him to stay in. She is divorced, has kids and has her life sorted out - even if her life isn’t exactly full of the best things for her. Like a lot of mothers, she puts herself last on her list of priorities.

It also struck me that no one notices when an older guy dates a younger woman, but the other way around? Everyone has an opinion. Society and its massive double standards. Ugh.

This one is probably closest to being finished.

5.            Watchword
This is an alternate worlds, steampunkish fantasy story. A god has two children; twins, a boy and a girl. They gravitate to two different areas; he to death and war and her to life and growth. They fight like all siblings do. The god decides to set them a task, to make them work together. Together they must create one hundred worlds.

But they cannot do everything themselves, so they create a community to train, educate its replacements and to guard their worlds; The Watchers. The Watchers have Windows; one for each world. The Windows show a glimpse of the world within. But still the twins fight.

It goes very wrong. He is caught in a trap his sister has set and she realises too late, that they are linked; in trapping him, she has trapped and weakened herself.
The Watchers stumble on without guidance. But they forget. They lose their purpose. They make mistakes. The worlds suffer.

A girl exists who is everyone’s last hope.

I have written a heap on this one. Over 100k words. But somewhere, I have lost it. I have written A, B and D but C is missing. I have actually left it alone for a while in the hope that distance would allow me to see what is wrong with it. I know something is wrong, I just can’t see it. I even printed it all out in the hope that seeing the words on paper would help me to fix it.

It is, I suppose about technology and forgotten ways. Progress is not necessarily a bad thing but neither are some of the things from the past that we have forgotten.
So, that’s my list of current works in progress. It doesn’t list small scraps or ideas, just the works I am seriously writing on.

Yes, I know. Pick one and finish it.

Monday, 9 July 2012

My Trent obsession

Anyone who knows me in my fanfic persona (alter ego?) will know I have a thing about Trent Reznor. Even my username on fanfic is mrstrentreznor. My excuse is that when I was trying to log on to the site for the first time, the Nine Inch Nails were playing on my CD player, I had tried about a dozen other usernames, they were all rejected and it accepted that one. Yeah, whatever, and I am sticking to that story. He got married about a month later - karma - she hates me… lol. Goth girls world-wide went into mourning.

But at any rate, I love his music. I love the lyrics. I love the power of their live performances. I do have yet to see them live. They don’t often tour Australia. I even like his ethos. The band offer whole album downloads for free on their website.

I play the NIN loud in my car, with all the windows down. And I mean LOUD. I had to pick my daughter up from school one day when she was about eleven. I came roaring up and in one of those unfortunate coincidences; it was ‘Closer to God’ playing. With the unforgettable chorus line of ‘I want to f*** you like an animal’. She rolled her eyes at me as only small girls can do and announced that I was embarrassing. Bwahaha. “What’s that, honey? I can’t hear you.” lol

Trent has won an Oscar for the soundtrack for ‘The girl with the dragon tattoo’. Gah, the cover of The Immigrant song was awesome! The David Fincher video is currently streaming on the NIN website. I can forgive Karen O for not knowing who Led Zeppelin were (yes, really) if she can sing that well. That one is on my wish list. It takes me a while to save my pennies for a three CD soundtrack.

My favourite saying is: “I’m good but not cheap.” My children assure me that I am cheap and then we have a discussion about the difference between cheap and thrifty. Thrifty is good, people. But I digress.

I use NIN song names as fic titles, like Closer to God. With acknowledgement of course. (Shhh don’t tell fanfic. They would delete me for that - and HOW does that make sense? It’s fanfic. I can break book copyright but not song?)

I have used NIN lyrics as chapter titles in Hurt. I think I was too clever with that one. Most people didn’t realise until the last chapter when I explained it. I thought it would look totally neat to click on the chapter list and see the lyrics written out for the song. I still think it works, by the way… so just shut up.

It was actually quite spooky how well the lyrics went with the story.

So this week I was having a discussion with a net buddy, littlefurrycannibals on the meaning of the lyrics to ‘Right where it Belongs’ from the album With Teeth. It's a sad, haunting one. Reznor poetry.

I argued that I thought the song was about the isolation of fame and maybe his drug issues. That he has made this world he now inhabits - a world that he feels is now a prison (a cave) that he can no longer leave. He is so alone and so confused that he is not even sure that any of it is real any more. He can no longer judge reality. Also it applies to the world in a matrix-like way; that we all could be living in a world of illusions. If we know that it is not real, do we take the blue pill or the red pill? Do we continue to live in our false world of illusion or do we shatter the cage, walk out of the cave and expose ourselves to things and feelings, experiences that can hurt us? Do we step out of the safe zone? To see ourselves?

She argued that Humanity had built the cages; for the weak, for the ill, for the deranged, for the dangerous and then they sat back and patted themselves on the ass, saying a job well done. All the while, the hollowness they feel is because they've cut themselves off, missing the fact that the creatures they have boxed initially, came from the same side as them. The ideologies of society are an elaborate dream. We move and function as a herd but it's what we've been told to do and the few that step out of the stampede and hold up a sign saying "Uhh, are you sure about this? What if we..." get trampled. The herd is afraid to look at itself as individual pieces that make up a whole.

We disagreed; clearly. But she played her trump card which was that I should write Harry Potter fanfic.

What the?

She based this argument on the fact that Trent Reznor is clearly Severus Snape. She offered this pic as proof. [image from]

Well dayum.

Thursday, 5 July 2012

JBNP awards 2012

I have one or two nominations for the JBNP awards, actually… ten. Voting is open until July 22nd. Go to the awards site to vote. You do NOT need to be a member of jbnp, all votes count.

3. The Howl Award - Favorite Short Story or One Shot - Any pairing, any wolf. As long as it’s fewer than 15,000 paw prints.

4. The "Don’t Get Me Upset!" Award: The Underdog Fic - The story that nearly made you phase because it got you so riled up due to the injustice/discrimination/twists.

5. E is for Erotic: Most Erotic Wolf Lovin’ - Any pairing, any wolf, as long as it just makes your loins tremble and weep with desire.
Best Friends... Share Everything by mrstrentreznor

6. Canine Comedy Award: Funniest Wolf Fic – Any pairing, any wolf. "Dammit! Stop Laughing like a Hyena! You're a wolf for Chrissakes!!"
A Forksummer Night's Dream by mrstrentreznor
Best Friends... Share Everything by mrstrentreznor

12. The "Maybe Even Then..." Award: Best Vamp/Wolf pairing -
Freaks of Nature by mrstrentreznor

13. Wolfish Grin Award -  SLASH/BDSM - Kinkiest fuckery of all wolf types
Best Friends... Share Everything by mrstrentreznor

'Special' Categories:
16. Best Beta Award: #1 editor/pre-reader -Damn, this beta freaking rocks. I could have never done it without her/him.

18. All-Time Favorite Wolf Story - The one story you can read over and over again. You have recommended this story to everybody you ever met. You get the drift...
Apologies by mrstrentreznor

19. All-Time Favorite Wolf Author - I can't get enough of her writing. No matter what this author writes, her stories consistently take my breath away!

Thank you to everyone who nominated me.

Wednesday, 4 July 2012

Book sales

I was reading an article from Bubble cow about book sales. It is a great site, full of useful information for writers/editors and has a cute cow image that is instantly recognisable in all media forms.

See? (So that’s what a cow lick looks like? Boom boom)

They were talking about book sales for the entrants in the Man Booker prize for 2010. Personally, I gave up on the Booker prize years ago. Honestly, if you write a book that makes your readers want to hang themselves or slash their wrists, you are a shoe-in for a nomination. I read a whole pile of seriously depressing novels when my book club decided we needed to read all the Booker prize books one year. Maybe it was the ‘thing’ for that time. Who knows? I got scarred by the experience and now drop the book hurriedly if there is a sticker on the cover that mentions the word ‘Booker’.

But at any rate, I would assume that if you were nominated for such a prize, then you must sell a few copies. They must be best sellers by definition, right?


According to Bubble cow:
“Four of the six books on the Man Booker prize list stand out as selling less than 6000 copies prior to the announcement.
Parrot and Olivier in America by Peter Carey sold 5987 in seven months,
In a Strange Room by Damon Galgut sold 1210 in five months,
The Finkler Question by Howard Jacobson sold 3505 in one month,
C by Tom McCarthy sold 2649 in one month, and
the other two titles on the short list Room by Emma Donoghue and The Long Song by Andrea Levy, sold 33923 and 15251 books respectively.

A few of us in the fanfiction world have expressed dumbfounded amazement at the massive sales figures for ‘50 shades of Grey’ the notorious EL James rewrite of a fanfic story. I had hoped many months ago that she might increase awareness of both fanfic and fanfic writers… but, alas I was wrong. James and her publisher seem to have spent an inordinate amount of time both denying that it was a fanfic and trying to remove all traces of it from the internet. Are they insane? As if you can remove something from the Internet once it is out there?

The books has sold millions and even the new box set is selling in the high hundred thousands. Compared to the Booker entrants list, that’s very sad.

But back to Bubble Cow. When I first signed up for their website I got a lovely personal email from Gary Smailes, the head of Bubble cow. He asked me a couple of questions and I fired off a long response detailing my writing process, history and current hit rate for fanfic and ebooks.

Facepalm. It wasn’t a personal email. Silly, silly AMG. Picture me embarrassed.

But Gary (bless him) sent me a response. He told me that I was doing well. He actually said “doing better than most of the writers I come into contact with”. Wow. Now picture me amazed. A positive comment from someone in the ‘real’ fic world? Wow.

I just checked my sales figures and downloads on Smashwords, and I now have 13 sales and 2910 downloads. So I could argue that I am halfway to Peter Carey (or not).

Sometimes I think I am crazy to even be attempting this writer thing. But each time I get some positive reinforcement like the comment from Gary, or a writing prize like the one from Biting duck press, or an award from a popular vote like the non-canon award for Best Friends, it tells me that I am doing okay.

So I will keep trying. Wish me luck.