Sunday, February 20, 2011

Why? Part 1

I have had a blog since 2007 and up to now, have written very little about myself. First of all, I didn’t think anyone would really be interested in anything nonfiction that I had to say. That may still be the case. I don’t purport to be an expert on any subject, including my own thoughts and motivations. And second of all, I only started the blog as a place to dump book reviews which I mostly don’t like to do, but for which I felt obligated to do. I mean, how dare I ask others to review my book(s) on their blog if I wasn’t willing to reciprocate?

But I am no longer feeling that obligation. I will, on occasion, review a book, if it’s totally of my choosing and not something pressured on me by a tour group. Next on my list is “Murder in the Vatican” by Ann Margaret Lewis, slated for a review here on April 20th. It’s supposed to be a Holmesian novel and I am a complete sucker for Sherlock Holmes in all its incarnations (Did anyone else see the BBC production of “Sherlock” that aired on PBS? Wow, I bought those three episodes right up on DVD. You simply MUST watch them 3-4 times just to catch everything. Absolutely and utterly brilliant!)

But enough about why I started this blog and have done with it in the past. I am now going to do something a little different, and that is attempt to answer the question “Why?”, more specifically, “Why do you write fanfiction?” Granted, not very many people have asked me this. Just a few. And I’m not sure my answer has all that much value. I am well aware that writing fanfiction puts me in the “black sheep” category of writers and most people would rather just shake their heads and/or ignore me. That’s fine. Not going to try to persuade anyone otherwise. I don’t claim to be sane, so no sense starting that flamewar either. Call me crazy and I’ll agree and that’s the end of that.

Perhaps I should start with a little history. Two years ago, I was trying to write original fiction, but I was stuck. I had written two fantasy novels already--big, epic novels. But they didn’t sell very well when they were self-published and I did not yet have the offer from Splashdown. The jury is still out on the Splashdown editions as to whether they are doing well or not. But since all this happened BEFORE I had the new contract, it’s a bit irrelevant. Just know that when I talk about my fantasy books not doing well, I’m talking about the self-published versions.

Anyway, the first two books did so poorly that I completely lost motivation to finish the trilogy. And before anyone jumps to conclusions, it’s not about money. If you knew how much money I have thrown away on this hobby, you’d know it couldn’t be about money. We refinanced our home so I could go to a CBA convention (talk about monumental WASTE) and a writing conference to meet an agent for ten whole minutes. I homeschooled during the day while working nights at Blockbuster (30 hours a week) just to scrape up the money to pay an artist for a book cover. I have sunk way more money into this than I will probably ever make, short of becoming the next JK Rowling.

It has never been about money. But it is about readers. I believe one of the main purposes of fiction is to entertain. You can’t entertain anyone who isn’t actually reading, no matter how brilliant the writing is.

Unlike some others, I don’t feel like I have been “called” to write as some sort of mandate from God. If God tells you to write, of course you should obey, but God hasn’t really told me I have to write. Does a Christian have to be “called” to knit? Or can it just be a hobby? If you are one of those people who thinks crosses or fish symbols must be woven deep into every design of every scarf in order for knitting to be a legitimate use of a Christian’s time, feel free to read no further. You and I must agree to disagree on this point. Nothing else I say is going to make any sense, so don’t waste your time.

If, for the joy of knitting, I take the time to create 100 beautiful scarves, is it wrong or vain or egotistical of me to wish that my lovingly knit creations were hanging around 100 cold necks rather than just one around my neck and the other 99 gathering dust in my drawer? At this point, someone is sure to pipe in with how stupid I was not to just knit one scarf and not waste all that yarn and time if I didn’t have anyone who would want the finished product.

Voilà! My problem in a nutshell. I felt like it was stupid to waste time, emotions, and brain cells on writing yet another book in my fantasy trilogy if there were no cold necks out there wanting to be warmed by my artistry. I enjoy writing and I personally love to read what I produce, but I really want to write something that other people would enjoy too. So I shelved book 3 of the Ascendancy Trilogy (for the four of you out there who actually read and liked the first two books, you should know that I want to write book 3 someday; this isn’t abandonment, it’s postponement).

I had this idea for an undersea sci-fi novel, tentatively named “Neptune’s Gambit”. I mulled on it quite a while. I even tried to write it during NaNo of 2008. I have an awesome setting all worked out. I have a fairly fresh idea (how many sci-fi novels are NOT set on a spaceship or some other planet/space station?). My problem was, I didn’t like the characters I created to live in my glorious setting and carry out my awesome plot. They were “well rounded” with enough flaws to be real, but I just didn’t care whether they attained their goals, learned their lessons, lived, or died. And if I didn’t care, I couldn’t make readers care either.

So “Neptune’s Gambit” is dead in the water (pun intended). Unlike Book 3 of Ascendancy that just needs my keyboard time, I don’t have what this book needs and if the right characters don’t come to me, then this book will never be written. But I was really “into” the setting. With an eye to studying what makes characters work for others as well as to survey what else was already written in this narrow sub-genre of sci-fi, I started devouring any undersea fiction I could find--everything from Jules Verne’s “20,000 Leagues Under the Sea” to Orson Scott Card’s novelization of “The Abyss” (even better than the movie, btw) to Tom Clancy’s “Hunt for Red October”.

I didn’t limit myself to books because frankly, there really are NOT a lot out there. That’s a good thing though. At least the market isn’t saturated. I have watched nearly every underwater movie Netflix has in stock either as DVD or on Instant.

Then I found out that the 1990’s TV series “SeaQuest DSV” was on DVD. Oh. My. Gosh. Jackpot! The way the oceans were colonized in that series was the closest to what I had in mind for “Neptune”. I don’t have the SyFy channel, so I hadn’t seen it in YEARS. I saved my Amazon gift certificates from doing online surveys (Heinz pays me $10 a month to tell them why I don’t buy Ore-Ida French Fries or which new ketchup bottle looks coolest) and bought the first and second season sets.

I loved that show back when it aired and I still love it just as much today. Maybe even more now because Jonathan Brandis and Roy Scheider are gone from this world. I watched the DVDs over and over. I found the authorized novels in a used bookstore and I read those. One of them is pretty good. But the others I couldn’t help but think, “I could have done a better job than this.” Well, once that thought settled in my brain, I was a goner.

Now I am to the point where I can’t really discuss this without going into particulars. If you’re not familiar with SeaQuest DSV or don’t care to become so, then this is going to be boring. Consider yourself excused from reading any further.

Still interested in my journey? Okay Go to Part 2.

Rather just skip the process and get to the GOOD STUFF? Check out the fiction links instead:

Redemption, Chapter One on
(black text on white background, ability to leave reviews, ads all over)

Redemption, Chapter One on
(white text on navy background, hosting ad at top, some pictures)


  1. Um...clicking "Go to Part 2" takes me back to part 1...

    Anyway, great analogy about the scarves! It really is like that. And add to it--even if we did give away those 99 scarves, we want the recipients to actually wear them. The money is our indicator that people have our books in their hands because they CHOSE them, and because they have intent to read them.

    Glad to see you blogging! :D

  2. Kat! I had no idea anyone actually READ my blog! LOL! Part 2 wasn't ready yet when I posted that, but I had no idea anyone would see any of my posts before I announced on FB or something. I just put Part 2 up, but the link to part 3 won't work until I get that written, which may be another 24 hours or so. So you can either read part 2 now or wait until I can get the third part done too. Up to you. I can hardly believe anyone would read this, so THANKS!