Tag Archives: writing

In Defense of Fanfic

Standard

Whenever I see an author up in arms about how bad and horrible fanfic is, I can’t help but to scratch my head and ask, “But what is so wrong about it?”

Sure, the appearance and popularity of fanfic-turned-original-novel is meant to take some of the blame. Would 50 Shades of Grey be so popular if it hadn’t started out as Twilight fanfic first? Would EL James have gotten a huge following regardless? What about writers like Alice Clayton, Jamie McGuire, etc? Truth is, no one knows. But it opened the discussion of authors using their standing in fandom to garner a following, and whether was it right for them to pull-and-publish their fics with different characters.

(I’m using Clayton, James, and McGuire as examples, but seriously, a list of published Twilight fanfics is not hard to find. It’s really not.)

Is it wrong? Unless someone’s lifting complete passages off your book, then no, not really, at least from a legal standpoint. Whether it’s morally wrong or not, jury’s still out on that one. But ask yourself: if you had a readership of millions, and got offered a book contract if you changed the names and setting, would you do it?

Personally, I don’t think I would. I think my fic is meant to stay in the confines of what inspired it, and it’s meant to be free. I may have created some original concepts in fic that I’ve then ported into original works, but those were original concepts. They were mine, and as such, I can use them as I see fit. At the time, I put them in fic to experiment, and those that worked, I decided to dedicate books to. So, in a way, fanfic helped me train. And if you ask writers, some of them will tell you the exact same thing.

A lot of the criticism for fanfic appeared during the 50SoG debacle. Before, some authors were vocal about their distaste for fic (such as Anne Rice and Robin Hobb) to the point sites like fanfiction.net forbade users from posting fic based off those writers’ comments. But the more 50SoG earned, the more comments I saw deriding fanfic, and the people who *gasp* like to write it in their free time.

Back in 2003, when Anne Rice told people not to write fanfic based on her work, do you think people stopped? You bet they didn’t. Some actually stopped buying her books, because they were mad. So, remember that every time you oppose fanfic, you may actually be alienating some of your own fans.

It’s not because they want to steal the characters. It’s not because they’re thinking about “oh, I’ll write this fic, become popular, then pull it, change names and get a million bucks!”

It’s because people love the work so much they feel inspired to write. They love the world, the characters so much, their heads won’t stop thinking about it. They will sit down and put said characters in situations the author didn’t. They devote time, put themselves out there in the fandom world, and hope others will like their spin on things.

And that is one of the highest compliments a writer can get.

You cannot keep people from writing whatever the hell they want. And if they’re choosing to write about your characters, for chocolate’s sake, let them.

“But if they become popular then they can make millions off a work that’s based on my work!”

Well, true. But so what?

If they make millions off a work based on yours, I’m sure it’s because you already have big recognition. All the “big” pulled-to-publish fanfics came from Twilight, and what did Twilight have already? That’s right, a huge following. Trust me, no fanfic of a small fandom is going to garner thousands of followers, much less a million-dollar-publishing contract. Not to mention EL James, Alice Clayton, and all the Twi-fic authors didn’t really steal readers from Stephenie Meyer. Meyer’s fans will still buy Meyer’s work. Meyer never really lost any readership from having people writing fanfic of her work.

And neither will you. Neither will anyone, really.

“But they should be spending time on their characters, not mine! They should be creating their world!”

People spend time doing whatever the fuck they want. If they want to write about your characters, they will do it. And the truth is, sometimes, people just want to write in a world’s that’s already set, with characters they already know. Believe it or not, it teaches them something. It teaches how to stay in character, how to use a world and follow its rules. Hell, even if it’s AU (Another Universe), it’s still a great training exercise, because you keep the characters but build a new world for them.

“People should be reading real books instead of fanfic!”

People should read whatever the hell they want. If it’s fanfic, then they are going to read fanfic. In fact, just last week, as I was playing Ace Attorney: Spirit of Justice, I found myself craving serious Phoenix/Maya fanfic. So, I went and read some. And it was glorious.

Just like when I’m playing a Bioware game (it happens with Bioware games 99% of the time), and my future game husband is being overdramatic about lyrium addiction, you bet your ass I’m going to spend however long I want writing about it. Because it’s fun. It’s liberating. And sometimes, it helps connect to like-minded people. Fanfic led me to meet amazing people who I’ve stayed friends with for over ten years.

“But knowing how to write fanfic doesn’t mean you’re ready to write books!”

Sure, there are many things you do in fanfic that you don’t do in books, because fanfic has no purpose other than what you want it. Ultimately, though, more than it harms, fanfic helps. I know it helped me.

Fanfic helped me realize I did want to become a writer. Fanfic helped me improve my English, my prose, my skills. Sticking to a fanfic for years even though people rarely left comments in it taught me discipline, and it taught me how to write just because I love writing.

And if you, as an author, are inspiring people to write, take it as a compliment, because it is one. Obviously, don’t police the fandom, or participate actively in it (look at what happened to Marion Zimmer Bradley when she did), and don’t tell them to stop, because you never know how important it might be to them.

2016-10-19-21_43_41-diana-pinguicha-connors-pinguicha-%e2%80%a2-instagram-photos-and-videos

Norbert and Truwitch – which I’m currently making fanart for!

 

 

Advertisements

Why I Write in English

Standard

 

I’ve been asked this often, both by native speakers and non-natives, which is why I decided to share my (in)finite wisdom today. I’ve spoken about it briefly on my “Getting the Call” guest post on Michelle Hauck’s blog, but here’s a longer version.

It’s not a secret I’m a huge, huge video game fan. Until I was 12, I’d only had basic English classes at school (basically, two years of learning basic verbs, numbers, how to say the English alphabet, and some questions/answers such as “What’s your name?/My name’s Diana”). Not knowing English on a fluent basis was a very big barrier to my enjoyment of video games, and when I got Ocarina of Time, the world, characters and story were all so vivid and wonderful, I found myself wanting to understand everything. So, like the stubborn little girl that I was, I armed myself with a dictionary. I noted down words I didn’t know to memorize them later.

Now, if you’ve played Ocarina of Time, you know the ending. You also know that any incurable romantic like me wanted more. Zelink is life. Zelink needs to be cannon. I also got hooked on Resident Evil, and the Chris/Jill pairing that everyone knows it’s secretly real at Capcom.

Then I discovered fanfiction.

I lurked on ff.net a lot. I eventually discovered the Resident Evil fic of this wonderful lady named Louise. We started talking. I told Louise that I’d love to write, but there was no point in doing it in Portuguese because no one would read it, and I was afraid of writing in English because mine was so broken. Louise, being the awesome kick-butt lady she is, told me to do it anyway. So, I did.

My first fics were shit. They were riddled with grammar errors (I will never forget my iconic use of “Zelda runned”). Still, people somehow liked them. Errors aside, they liked the story, and kept encouraging me. And I kept writing.

By then, I was in 7th grade and had this wonderful English teacher who nurtured my then-above-average English. I’d ask her to translated some game passages when I was stuck, and she’d do it. I remember learning verb conjugations from her, and finally, I understood that the pas of run, was ran. Similarly, my Portuguese teacher (who I hated back then, but eventually realized I was being a little stupid shit) told me to write more, because he always enjoyed my short stories. So, I did.

At 14, while on an away hockey match, my parents bought me Tomb Raider: The Angel of Darkness. This was significant, because they hate video games, but since yours truly was a model student, and we’d just won the hockey match, they gave it to me as sort of a prize.

You have no idea what sort of doors that game opened. AoD brought on a pivotal change to my life, and it came in the shape of the KTEB. I joined their forums and met the most amazing group of people, some of whom I’m still friends with. My English still had problems, but they never mocked me for it, and they gave me support when I needed it most. I probably wouldn’t be here if it weren’t for them. My Sanistas and Manistas are my second family, and they inspired me in many, many ways. A lot of them wrote amazing Tomb Raider fanfic, and I found myself thinking “I wish I could be as good as they are.” I would never have met them had it not been for video games, and my need to learn English.

Now, school was not easy for me. I was a straight-A student, the kind who’s also good at sports. I was bullied, terribly. People gave me hell for playing video games. People gave me hell when I said I learned most of my English from video games. I got spat at in class, hounded at recess, and this obviously caused me to withdraw.

Cue to more video games, and subsequently, better English. I started drawing just because I enjoyed it (my drawing saga in itself deserves another post, but for now, just know that everyone said I’d never be good). I wrote so much fanfic, it was embarrassing. I played Planescape: Torment and it made me realize games could have amazing, complex stories, with great writing to boot.

PS:T is a work of genius and everyone should play it. Seriously.

By then, I was 15, and my English was pretty damn good. So good my parents decided to send me to summer camp for two weeks in Cambridge as a reward for my good grades. It was expensive, but my parents, in spite of all their flaws, never held back when it came to my education.

I went to summer camp twice: first in Cambridge, then in Manchester. Met incredible people there, and my teachers back then also encouraged me to write more. And that second year in Manchester, I got to meet some of my Sanistas in person. It was amazing.

When I was in 9th grade, Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix came out after a long wait. You think I was going to wait two more months for it to be translated in Portuguese? Hell no! It was the first book I read in English, and I got much use out of my dictionary. Same thing went when I discovered Juliet Marillier’s new book was out in English while the Portuguese release was 6 months away. Wait? Hell no!

(In case you don’t know, Juliet’s my favorite writer, and her books are made of magic. READ THEM.)

Fast-forward a couple of years, and I read an amazing Knights of the Old Republic fanfic by Trillian4210 (who I discovered now writes romance under the name Emma Scott). Its scale and scope inspired me tremendously, and after playing Neverwinter Nights II, I decided to try my hand at something epic. If I could commit to it and finish it, I’d then try to write a book.

That fanfic’s still up. It’s called Full Circle, and yes, you guessed it, it’s complete.

I was in college for Computer Engineering by the time I finished it. By then, I’d realized I wanted to write, and went to Engineering to pursue game development. But Engineering is hard, especially when you’re so engrossed in your hobbies you forget to study, so it took me a while to get that damn degree. But I did it.

Halfway through my Bachelor’s, I asked my parents to pay for my Proficiency in English exam, just to have it. They thought I should have some classes first, so I went to Cambridge School in Lisbon and took their test. I started Proficiency classes next week.

I had about six months of classes. Once, our teacher, Harry, told us to write a short story. He loved mine so much he told me to quit Engineering and go to an University in England (he recommended Sussex) and get a writing degree. Unfortunately, my parents couldn’t afford it, so couldn’t, but that was when I decided to pursue writing seriously.

After that, I decided to do NaNoWriMo. At first, I thought I’d do it in Portuguese. Then I met Leonor, fellow animal-lover and Juliet Marillier fan. Friendship immediately struck. Thanks to her, I gained more knowledge of the Portuguese publishing industry – enough to not want to give it a try.

Fantasy (which is what I write) doesn’t sell very well in Portugal unless you have a TV show or a movie. And then there’s the fact that most of the books we get are imports, and not from national authors. If you write Crime novels, then you might have a shot, or Historical Romance. I’ve heard of an established Hist Romance author who sells well, but her editors refuse to even read her fantasy manuscripts, because “Fantasy doesn’t sell.”
So I gave Portuguese a big middle-finger and went on with writing in English. After years of fanfic, it came surprisingly easy. In fact, it started coming easier than Portuguese itself. But I was still afraid my knowledge of the language wasn’t good enough.
Now, I could try the Brazilian Portuguese market, but Brazilian Portuguese, while very similar, has some differences from European Portuguese, and I’ve watched enough Brazilian Soap Operas to know those differences are significant. I could’ve researched, true, and learned how to write in Brazilian PT, but I felt I had a better shot with English.

Soon, I had a book (which was crap). I learned about the submission process in the US. I queried. I got rejections. But I also got one of the most surprising responses, and it came from Russ Galen – who reps Juliet fucking Marillier. He passed on the novel, obviously, but gave me great advice that I follow to this day. He also said he didn’t believe I wasn’t a native speaker, because my English was better than most of the submissions he read.

Ego boost gained. I stuck to English. I didn’t give up.

I wrote another book. Then another. Finally, on my fourth try, I got rep (the wonderful Natalie Lakosil at Bradford Lit).

So, here’s the gist:

I started learning English at school. I got better because of video games.
I started writing in English so people would read my fanfics.
I kept writing fanfic in English. I got better.
I met the most amazing group of people. Interacting with them made me better, both as a person, and as an English speaker.
I started writing in Portuguese, but gave up when I found out how hard it was to get an unknown author’s fantasy book read by publishers.
I wrote in English because, believe it or not, getting an agent abroad is easier than an unknown getting published here. Especially in Fantasy.
All my support was mostly from English speakers, and it was easier getting feedback if I wrote in that language.

So, there’s why. As for the how:

Ultimately, I practiced. And ultimately, I got better to the point no one knows I’m not a native speaker – unless they actually hear me speak. Accent: I have it.

Here we go again! #PitchWars #PimpMyBio

Standard

Well, looks like it’s that time of the year again!

FreshPaint-14-2015.08.09-11.21.33

I’m Diana, and I will be entering PitchWars with a YA Dark Fantasy manuscript called A Trace of Madness. It has mind witches, shadow people, weird nymps and crazy friends with questionable intentions. It’s the fourth novel child I’ve birthed and it’s, so far, my favorite! (yes, I know, I say this about my latest book every time, but it’s true!)

So here, have some facts about me:

I'm so classy!

Wait, not THOSE facts.

Let’s try again.

tumblr_mqw28pmyQc1r42l11o1_500

1. I have the best pets ever. One’s a Persian cat called Sushi, and she’s kind enough to let me live in her house; then there’s Jubas, my super-cuddly, kissy-face, all-around sweetheart Maine Coon cross (we think). Finally, there’s Norbert (aka Norby, aka Bubba), the One Dragon to rule them all, whose favorite activities include being awesome and playing video games with me.

2. I have a degree in Computer Engineering and am halfway through my Master’s in Video Games. I also work part-time at a serious game start-up (as in, games for educational purposes, not the other kind of serious games), and it’s seriously the best job ever because I get to drink lemon beer at five in the afternoon and I can bring Norbert to the office once in a while.

3. I’m from Portugal, and although I’m seriously considering changing countries, I probably never will because our food is delicious and our weather is seriously good.

WP_20140422_037

Seriously. This was at 9 am. In March. It’s awesome.

4. I once met Ray Muzyka, Warren Spector, Jason Gregory and spent the entire time fangirling over games. I may have embarrassed myself thoroughly, especially since, in the case of Warren Spector, a bunch of us were having dinner and I was maaaybeee slightlyyyyy drunk. #noregrets

5. I also met one of my favorite authors once (Juliet Marillier) and we went shopping for dog clothes. Again, I probably also embarrassed myself there.

1456516_3586303591590_1218111641_n

6. I’ve made some games, some of which are available in my portfolio.

Me and my team, presenting Sightless to a jury. We were the runner-up!

Me and my team, presenting Sightless to a jury. We were the runner-up!

7. I also draw and paint a lot (or used to, before my hand decided to crap out on me). Mostly portraits, but, you know, I sometimes do other stuff for the sake of variety. All this because my 8th grade art teacher told me I’d never be good at drawing (so did my mom). I decided to prove them wrong and started practising. I now earn money painting things—HA!

8. I have three tattoos: two are for 1984, one of my favorite books of all time. The other is for Planescape: Torment, my favorite game of all time.

9. Most of my closest friends came from a Tomb Raider forum dedicated to Kurtis Trent. Twelve years later, we’re still friends. In fact, two of them (my real life OTP) married recently, and I got to fulfill my lifelong dream of being the ring bearer for their wedding. AT 26. THIS PROVES IT’S NEVER TOO LATE!

10983570_10153590466036501_3854599513112010096_n

My “I’ve kind of been crying” face at said wedding, with my co-ring bearer, Lara. (thanks for this caption, Anna xD)

10. In case it’s not obvious, I’m a video game junkie, something that still leaves my mother livid. Some of my favorite games (aside from Planescape) are: Ocarina of Time, Pillars of Eternity, The Longest Journey, The Witcher trilogy, Transistor, the Mass Effect trilogy, the Baldur’s Gate saga, Dragon Age: Origins, Grim Fandango, the Saints Row series, Final Fantasy VI, the Ace Attorney series, Silent Hill 2, Shadow of the Colossus, Baten Kaitos, Resident Evil (mostly from 1 to 4), Deadly Premonition, Bayonetta AND I’D BETTER STOP NOW

WIN_20150722_231802

Our usual video game playing scenario.

11. I love, love, LOVE a youtube series called The Most Popular Girls in School. It’s Barbie dolls cursing a lot, stop-motion animated and it’s brilliant. I quote it a lot, especially the most pertinent question of our generation: “What the #$%& is the Wifi password?”

12. Some of my favorite authors are: George Orwell, Juliet Marillier, Rae Carson, Susan Dennard, Sara J Maas, Philip K Dick, Marion Zimmer Bradley, Glenda Larke, Jacqueline Carey, Marianne de Pierres, Tolkien, JK Rowling, Anne Bishop, Garth Nix, Chris Wooding and Kristin Cashore.

13. My English is mostly self-taught. At 12, I played Ocarina of Time with a dictionary beside me, and it did wonders. At 13, I wrote dreadful fanfic with tons of errors, but the writing practice helped me improve. Then, at 15, I realized I could read books “earlier” if I read them in English and do you really think I was going to wait another two months before reading Order of the Phoenix? NO. WAY.

14. From 5 to 19, I played roller hockey at a competitive level. I quit because, college, and I still miss it after 7 years.

15. I LOVE traveling, but I’m also TERRIFIED of flying. It’s incredibly inconvenient, but I try to push through it because I like to see new things and meet new people. Also, someone’s cast a curse on me and whenever I go abroad, I come back sick. Went to NYC, came back with a stomach flu. Went to the Netherlands in August, got a crippling cold. Went to Croatia, got heat exhaustion on a boat that knocked me down flat. Went to England, came back with tonsillitis. I can’t wait to see what Las Vegas has for me next year.

16. Some of my favorite TV shows are: Parks and Recreation, Community, Arrested Development, Battlestar Galactica, Breaking Bad, House of Cards, Sense8, Malcolm in the Middle, Hannibal, Killjoys, Modern Family, Shameless (both UK and US versions!), Veep, The Unbreakable Kimmy Schmidt, 30 Rock, Children’s Hospital, Twin Peaks, and, like with games, I’m going to stop now.

 

17. My favorite kind of movie is the mindbending genre. Some of my favs (again!): Requiem for a Dream, eXistenz, Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind, Shutter Island, The Man From Earth, Pi, Fight Club… – okay, basically anything you can find here: http://classreal.com/

18. I’m hard-working and versatile. Bribes to my possible (please pick me! MEEEEE!) mentor will include drawings, silly times with yours truly, enthusiasm, eternal love, geekery, and maybe some food. AND THAT IS ALL I’LL SAY!

Go to Christopher Keelty’s blog for more awesome #PitchWars mentee bios!

If you’re still in doubt, remember: my pets are the cutest.

(also, one’s a dragon. A DRAGON)

Panicking Over Ghosts

Standard

I have seen a lot of friends in various states of despair over their revisions, changing their latest novels through and through because either a) agents aren’t biting, b) they’re getting feedback, or c) because they simply want to.

And a lot of them are getting tired and disillusioned because no matter what they change, it’s never enough. Or because they don’t want to, but have to change things in order to make their novels more commercial. Or for several other reasons, and they’re weeping and panicking because they don’t know what else to do.

I’ve been there. I’ve done that. My advice? If you’re pulling the hairs out of your head, if you’re screaming because you can’t find the new path you need to take, if, in general, it’s making you miserable, then please:

Stop.

I’ve had a lot of anxiety-related problems in the past. I have them still, sometimes. I’ve driven myself into holes I couldn’t get out of. I’ve cried myself to sleep over the most menial things, and was it worth it?

No.
No matter how important something is to you, it’s not worth it if it puts you in a constant state of self-deprecating madness. Nothing is.

I get that it’s your dream, but sometimes, you should take a break. Don’t force yourself into changes that are not organic just because you want to please someone else. If you love your novel as-is, don’t change a word because agents aren’t biting. Don’t tire yourself out over something that’s beginning to saturate you. It’s not good for you, and it’s not good for your novel.

No one benefits from complete exhaustion. Not you. Not your novel. Not anyone.

Sit back, relax, leave it be, and come back when you have a fresh perspective. In the meantime, write something else, or play a game, or watch a new TV series – do whatever you need to do – but put yourself first. Your writing won’t exist without you, and it certainly won’t benefit from you being so sick of your story you can’t stand it anymore. You’re not abandoning your child, although it can feel like you are. But rather, think of it as going on a much-deserved vacation, and your novel will still be there when you return. And when you come back, you’ll see that everything will flow much better.

No one’s after you. You don’t have to be published right now. You don’t have to be published next year. If it’s meant to be, it will happen, and it will come at the cost of hard work and dedication – but those things rarely happen when you keep on beating a dead horse with a stick. There’s no pressure, except the one you put on yourself.

My point is: don’t drive yourself mad over something you’ve been constantly changing to please someone else. If you’re doing it for yourself, fine. Otherwise?

Yeah, take a break. Or don’t. What do I know?

I’m not your mother. Just a stranger giving unsolicited advice.

Writing Process Blog Tour

Standard

Next stop is Lisbon, sitting in sunny Portugal with some of the most amazing food in the world. Most of the country is still experiencing summer, though we expect rain to start drizzling any time soon as fall settles in (along with hot cocoa). It’s friendly, it’s fun, and it’s one of the best places to be in all year around.

1. Introduce the author who passed the blog tour to you and link back to their blog.
The amazing Natasha Raulerson passed this onto me. I met Natasha through the In With the New contest hosted by Michelle Hauck, and during PitchWars we hung out on Skype sometimes – I even co-hosted Whiskey, Wine and Writing when her kick-ass co-host Tiffany couldn’t make it, and, like Natasha and Tiff, it was SO MUCH FUN!

2. What am I working on?
Currently, it’s a YA Fantasy named Mind Witch. The main character, Zéphyrine, can manipulate people’s thoughts and

Ubik was a big inspiration for Mind Witch

Ubik was a big inspiration for Mind Witch

memories (hence the title), and she was one of the leads in my previous project (Withering Spring). Mind Witch came from my first CP telling me Zéph was her favorite character and that she was sad Zéph’s story started out in media res. I didn’t plan on writing it, but one thing led to another and now it’s too much fun to stop.

3. How does my work differ from others in its genre?

Mind Witches/Psions are usually more of a sci-fi thing, so there’s that. I’m also telling the story from a more antagonistic perspective, and doing a play o the Chosen One trope by having the person who’s supposed to deliver the world from evil wanting to take it for herself rather than retiring from heroism – and no, it’s not the MC.

Iriae seems very sweet, but actually, she's insane.

Iriae seems very sweet, but actually, she’s insane.

Oh, and I’m illustrating it as well, so… that too?

4. Why do I write what I write?
I write Fantasy because, aside from being my favorite genre to read, I enjoy creating worlds that don’t have the same restrictions as ours – and because I love it.

5. How does my writing process work?
I often start novels with only a vague idea, either a scene that’s hounding my head and needs to be put into words before I forget, a theme I want to explore – those things. Then I start mulling it over and expand on it using a series of bullet points like “MC can control people, is sent to turn a country upside down”. I write a preliminary query, ask friends/CPs “Hey, is this something you’d read?” and then go for it.

6. Introduce the next author on the tour and link to their blog.
Next stop will be at Kyra Nelson‘s blog! Kyra interned for a literary agency, and I first came across her when she was offering query critiques (Mind Witch was #2!) and she gave me great pointers. Her blog is filled with useful writing advice for both queries and novels, not to mention the actual query crits she does are extremely useful and have information we can all take for our own query-ous nightmares!

So, I’m a grown-up now

Standard

Not that I haven’t been an adult (technically, anyway) for seven years now. But I have a grown-up job that finally allows me to be monetarily independent. YAY!

And since I’ve been quiet for a while, here are some illustrations I did for Withering Spring (Belladonna) and for Sightless 2.0, the game.

BellCharacterScreen_AislingV2 many sketches

Link

New Short Story!

An Anthology of European Speculative Fiction was given for free to all the Eurocon 2013 attendees and guess who has a short story there? ME! 😀

All other short-stories are of amazing quality as well. So go on and read it. It’s FREE!