Friday, February 9, 2018

Adding Fanfiction to Your Writing Tool Belt

Image by Lexi on We Heart It
Pick a fandom, any fandom, and there’s probably a community of fanfic writers and readers camped out there and having fun.  For those that haven’t heard the term before, fanfic is short for fan fiction and refers to written stories of any length inspired by books, movies, video games, television programs, music and/or celebrities. That’s a broad spectrum of fiction and the internet is riddled with it.

But why would an author writing original fiction want to consider reading and writing fanfiction as well?  Fanfic is actually a useful tool you can add to your arsenal. There are two broad areas where fanfic is useful: first as a creative catalyst and second as a research tool.

Fanfic And Creativity

Almost every writer has had moments when you hit a wall on your work-in-progress. Call it writer’s block, call it brain fog, call it a momentary blip in your creative genius. Either way – the words aren’t flowing the way you’d like them too. Fanfiction can be a great way to take a break, but still flex those writing muscles.

Pick a fandom you love, or even better, one your target readers also love, and write a flash fiction piece. Write a short story. Have fun! Indulge every ship, every pairing, every dramatic or romantic or ridiculous thought and potentiality that you like. Write until you’re smiling so big your cheeks hurt. Then take a step back and read over your work. What about it makes you happy? Yes there are characters and worlds that you love in there, but beyond that – what themes do you see? What situations? Would any of those work in your original writing?

You can use fanfic as just a break, a chance to blow off creative steam. Or you can use it to find what sparks might reignite your passion for your own work-in-progress. Either way, if you’re having fun, it’s worth every moment. Just make sure you do get back to that work-in-progress before too long!

Fanfic As Research

As of this article, An Archive of Our Own (one of the largest and most active fanfiction communities online) has close to 25,000 fandoms represented, over 115,000 users and over 300,000 works posted. More are added every day. That’s a lot of information in one place and if you know who your target readers are and the fandoms that appeal to them, it’s a great way to get a peek inside what they’re passionate about!

Head over, pick any fandom you like, and sort the results by the most popular. Look for common themes. Go read the comments on a few of the most popular pieces – what are the readers saying? What are they most fired up about? What storylines seem to get the most interest? Why? What do you think makes those stories stand out (beyond good writing)? Read a few fanfic pieces and see if they spark any ideas for your own work.

Whether you use fanfic as a way to shake off the writing-blahs or as a jumping off point for your next big idea – it’s definitely worth having a look!

Tuesday, October 3, 2017

YA Scavenger Hunt: Orange You Having Fun?

Welcome to my stop on the Fall 2017 YA Scavenger Hunt! I'm here representing Team Orange. Let's hear it for the least rhymed vegetable and most overlooked color in fashion! Orange doesn't get as much love as it should, in general, but if you check out the amazing authors I'm lucky to share some blog space with, I think it's clear which color is the clear winner in this year's scavenger hunt:

Never heard of the YA Scavenger Hunt? YASH is a bi-annual event originally organized by author Colleen Houck as a way to give readers access to exclusive bonus material from their favorite authors...and a chance to win some awesome prizes!

There are seven contests going on simultaneously, and you can enter one or all! For the Orange Team contest, one lucky winner will win 20 different books from the Orange Team authors! But don't forget, there are six other teams and you can visit all of them for a chance to win a whole different set of books from each.

If you'd like to find out more about the hunt, see links to all the authors participating, and see the full list of prizes up for grabs, go to the YA Scavenger Hunt page.


Directions: Below, you'll notice that I've hidden my favorite number. Hint, it's in orange. Collect the favorite numbers of all the authors on the Orange Team, and then add them up. 

Entry Form: Once you've added up all the numbers, make sure you fill out the form here to officially qualify for the grand prize. Only entries that have the correct number will qualify.

Rules: Open internationally, anyone below the age of 18 should have a parent or guardian's permission to enter. To be eligible for the grand prize, you must submit the completed entry form by Sunday October 8th, at noon Pacific Time. Entries sent without the correct number or without contact information will not be considered.


But YASH isn't just about winning books (although that is pretty awesome). I'm pleased to welcome Larissa C. Hardesty to my blog today! 

Larissa Hardesty is a Young Adult author of speculative fiction. Having lived a fairytale when she met her husband while on vacation at Disney World as a high school senior, all of her stories have at least a touch of romance. When she’s not writing, she can be found pursuing her passion for music as an elementary music teacher and handbell choir director. She lives in Central Florida with her husband and three children.

Larissa's novel, KISS ME, KILL YOU came out in June and sounds as intriguing as its gorgeous cover.
Emmy Duivel believes in true love: heart-stopping kisses, candlelight dinners, and a connection that lasts forever. But not the kind of kisses that land your date in the hospital. Emmy always knew she was different, but not in the supernatural sense. Not in the succubus sense.

Paul Andinn had only one job: watch over Emmy and make sure she doesn’t expose the supernatural world. It should have been easy, but the moment he looked away, she kissed that boy, and everything changed.

He should be more upset. But he can’t. Not when he’s falling hard for her.
To find out more about Larissa, visit her website or follow her on Twitter and Facebook. Add KISS ME, KILL YOU on GoodReads and pick up a copy at Entangled Teen.

I'm so thrilled I get to share an exclusive for KISS ME, KILL YOU with you! Larissa put together the following playlist especially for the book; make sure to click the KMKY image below so you can listen to the playlist on YouTube. I heard a rumor there were 7 more songs, but they're being suppressed by the supernatural world as they give too much away! Here's what Larissa has to say:

Thanks so much for hosting me, J.C.! I listen to very long playlists when I write, and I tend to get hooked on certain artists for each book. While writing KISS ME, KILL YOU, I was listening to a lot of Evanescence, Avril Lavigne, and Maroon 5. For me, it's more about feel than words, since I'm not really listening to the words. But there are a couple in here where the words really fit the story. Those may have been replayed more than the others. LOL. If you have any suggestions for my next playlist, I would love to hear them!

Don't forget to enter the contest for a chance to win a ton of books by me, Larissa, and many more!


To keep going on your quest, you need to check out the next author! Head on over to Sherry Ficklin's page for your next secret number and even more exclusive content.

Saturday, May 6, 2017

DFWCon - Presentation Link & How Not To Share Info

I was lucky enough to present several different classes at this year's DFWCon writing conference in Dallas, Texas. It is, by far, one of my favorite conferences and I always learn a ton every time I attend. Getting the chance to present was even better.

But sometimes things go a bit wrong. For instance, let's say you finish your powerpoint presentation in the wee hours of the morning, hopped up on allergy meds and coasting on the fumes of consciousness. You might, possibly, transpose two letters while setting up the spiffy custom URL for your class attendees to download a PDF of your presentation. THEN you might not realize this huge error, put the correct (but broken) URL on the last slide of your presentation and blithely tell these lovely people they don't need to take notes if they don't want to because they can just get the PDF later.

And then, when an attendee points out the URL doesn't work thanks to the magic of smart phones, you might, perhaps, toss up a different URL at the end of that slide show and tell everyone to check THAT link later. Only to discover later that evening that your blog/website won't let you do a custom URL that way.


Learn from my mistakes, people. Allergy meds and lack of sleep are dangerous. And I should not be trusted with URLs. Except now. You can totally trust me now.

To everyone who attended my Wheel of Fortune: A Guide to Writing Contests presentation, THANK YOU. Sorry for the last minute hiccups. Here's the real, working (and tested twenty times) URL: