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[sticky post] fanfic master list

Below is a list of my various fanfic and blog posts discussing different books, TV shows and movies. Feel free to poke around and read anything that strikes your fancy.

The fiction in particular often carries specific warnings and benefited from the help of beta readers and (in the case of some poetry) co-authors. Rather than trying to recreate this information here, please find it at the archive where the stories are posted. If you've helped me out over the years and I haven't properly thanked you, please let me know so I can correct it. Most of the links point to ArchiveOfOurOwn.org, which I joined several years ago, and while I've done my best to give credit where due, I do know my own limitations in this area and am willing to fix any mistakes.

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I've been thinking about beta-reading as disability accommodation lately. Don't let the jargony words scare you off, please, because I think this should be important to all kinds of folks who craft fandom spaces. Plus it's interesting.

As a kid I was diagnosed with a variety of written-expression disorders, and as a teen with ADHD. Add to that a few psychological issues stemming from some prolonged and complicated grief that built up some truly unhelpful coping mechanisms over the last decade, not least of all most of the symptoms of clinical depression (can't be diagnosed as such, apparently, because it's based in experiences to which those symptoms are rational responses, but as my therapist points out, if it quacks like a duck....), and a self-esteem so microscopic they're still working on the instruments sensitive enough to detect it.

There's that dark sense of humor that's not all that helpful. ;-)

And really, I'm not aiming at sympathy here. I'm not 100% convinced those diagnoses are all on the money, though there's something mighty familiar in a lot of them. I also don't think I'm necessarily unique. In parts, but not at all; lots of people probably struggle with crippling lack of self-worth, sadness that makes it a bit hard to get up and go, or any one of a number of neuro/learning issues that makes it a mighty struggle to make the words go.

My point is, it's hard. Not impossibly hard, but hard in the way it might be for someone with fibromyalgia to walk across a parking lot. They can do it, maybe, once in a while, but boy will it take it out of them. Best to give them that handicap parking spot by the door. Or to take another example: how a shoe-horn might really make dressing yourself easier for people who struggle to bend over, not that they absolutely can't on their own but it just makes life a little less onerous and autonomy a little more practical. It's actually hard to the point that there's a higher "entry cost" to start writing (even when inspired and willing, it just seems to take such effort), and I'm both less able to detect certain writing errors than most people are (I'm infamous for using similar-sounding words and not being able to see the difference). That's the cognitive side. The psychological side makes it harder to bear up under the embarrassment or sense of failure of publicly posting a story full of that.

I'm sure this all takes a different form for different people, and is probably more or less imposing for some than others. But I think most people experience this to a degree, and for a lot of people (not all!) it's actually prohibitive. Or at least limiting. There's probably a spectrum of increasing difficulty and less likelihood they'll actually participate as a writer. And there's also probably unnecessary negative experiences that make it harder to want to create a second time, too. Again, at the risk of getting too personal, I'm dealing with a smidge of that at the moment; I've dealt with worse and the past and I know other people have dealt with worse still. And so even if you push through and write the once, doing that without the helpful support makes it hard to write again, too.

Which is a shame. Because, again speaking for myself, I'm good at writing! I love having-written, and I think other people like when I've written, too. And even if people can't make that statement about themselves for whatever reason, I think they're still missing out on positive things. The ability to get better, or to have their ideas and imaginings read, or the community or the ability to play with fiction and pop culture in the unique writerly way. There's reasons this is all so good.

I think in fandom we talk about betas as a gift to the reader, a way to make sure the stories are suitably polished and easy to read. But I think also they can be such a huge help for the writer, giving her the tools and confidence and cheerleading and whatever else she needs to actually do the thing. I wonder if it would be helpful to think of beta-reading and helping betas find authors (and vice versa) the same way we do as coding sites so they work well with screen readers for the visually impaired, or avoiding flashing graphics and certain color schemes out of deference to epileptics and folks with certain kinds of color blindness.

All of which makes me think this is a problem community-builders and site-designers should tackle systemically. Not that we need to guarantee a beta for everyone, but building the spaces to help people find each other effectively is on the same level as those other disability-friendly design elements.

Durned if I know how to do that in practice, though. Devil's in the details, as always.
I'm listening to the Lord of the Rings BBC radio dramatization, which is lovely, much more a love-letter to the book than the Jackson films (which I also love but for very different reasons). But they still entirely skip over skip over the whole sequence between leaving in Crickhollow and arriving in Bree, and those chapters matter to me. Granted, I've been living in them these last few weeks while I was writing, but I think they've always So I want to talk a bit about why.

They're delightfully pastoral but at the same time utterly magical. It's a sequence full of sentient trees and ridiculous men and their dyad-like wives and truly terrifying wights and landscapes that look like half-decaying teeth protruding from the gums. It's so unusual to me encountering it at the end of the twentieth century, and that shocking-me-out-of-my-contemporary-reality quality just fires up the imagination, doesn't it?

The hobbits are all so foolish (or naive) about how they navigate it, and broken (I love Frodo's moment of temptation to leave his friends to the barrow-wight). But there's more than just luck there. They show they can learn to navigate this world, and they have a central courage and goodness about them that kind of shines through. And having it shine through first in these dangers just beyond the border of their home, that somehow makes them that much more approachable to me. I feel like they're going through things only a half-step beyond what I could go through, and seeing this very human, imperfect way of navigating that just feels... familiar, I guess.

It also makes the world feel fully fleshed out. It's like filling out around the corners as they say in the Shire, isn't it? You have these baddies who are local, not really an obstacle directly related to your main quest but just a general bit of danger that must be navigated around. And on the other side, you have allies like Tom Bombadil and Goldberry, but only in a very limited sense. They're imperfect, they're driven by their own priorities and are only going to be an asset in a very limited way that also must be navigated. It feels like the hobbits are swimming in a churning river with all these churning currents and peaceful stretches and perhaps even an occasional log they can use to buoy themselves up, and they have to endure it all to get to their final goal, but the fact that those obstacles and helps are there somehow makes the adventure more organic and certainly less limited than it could have been. I can't quite explain it, but it's such a poorer world without all that.

There's also such a sense of history: about the ancient old Forest that connected up with Fangorn and the like back in the elder days, the ancient kings with their ancient blades and the whole history of actual wars and kingdoms falling and an ancestral graveyard that predates them, the ambiguity of just who Tom and Goldberry are and where they fit into all this, and the barrow-wights too, whether they're some sort of evil spirit called down by Melkor/Sauron/the Witch-king, or whether they're more like Shelob, an independent source of malevolence that even Sauron has to navigate around. It's all just so beautiful and interestiong and... yeah. What an hors d'oeuvre to the feast!

(Though, admittedly, Tom B.'s actual songs are a bit silly and not particularly well done. Less actual poetry would have been a good thing here!)

Donald Trump is No Longer a New Yorker

... and I can still not embed Comedy Central videos to save my life. However, this deserves a celebration.

Do yourself a favor and head over to the old Daily Show site for Jon Stewart absolutely railing Senor Drumpf for how he eats pizza. It's been a while since I've laughed this hard. (He really gets going around 1:09.)
Tonight I watched a bootlegged version of "It's the Great Pumpkin, Charlie Brown," complete with 80s commercials.

Let me just say, it was a weird half-hour. The commercials, yes -- soup's main selling point seems to be "It's hot!" -- but also the show itself. Broad swipes at religion and ecumenical division, large segments devoted to Snoopy not being so much a costume-wearer as an actual WWI flying ace mourning his dead friends, lessons learned (or perhaps not) about the importance of having your written agreements notarized.

I didn't actually laugh, but I smiled so broadly and for so long my cheeks are sore.

If you're interested, both YouTube and Amazon seem to have legit versions you can rent from $3.99....

SSP - Heed No Nightly Noises

"The Barrow-Wight" by John Howe

When I was recently telling my story about the hobbits' adventure with the barrow-wight in The Lord of the Rings, how he was essentially a malevolent ghoul haunting a grave that devoured the soul of anyone who strayed into his domain, her response was an incredulous "Tolkien wrote that?"

He really did, though he didn't tease out the details as much as a fan of all things spooky might prefer. That's why we have fanfic, though. So just in time for Halloween, have a story about Pippin's night trapped by the barrow-wight. Read on, if you dare.

Heed No Nightly Noises (4,725 words; rated Mature)
Featuring Pippin, Merry, a rather twisted Lalia the Great, and an OC Dunedain soldier


Beta needed

I've fallen so far on the margins of the Tolkien fandom, I'm not sure who's still involved and who might be interested in betaing a story. It's currently about 4,700 words and I'm looking to get it beta'd by Wednesday so I can post before Halloween if at all possible. It's Lord of the Rings books based, but I'm pretty comfortable with the canon if that's not your specialty. I'm much more interested in someone who can help me tighten up the writing and perhaps spot any Americanisms.

Fair warning- this is a horror story with some fairly intense violent imagery. I understand if it's not everyone's cup of earl grey.

If anyone is interested and/or have the time, email me at marta-dot-fandom-at-gmail-dot-com and I can email you the file.
Tolkien fandom is apparently the place where we can say "yes, that got a bit grizzly, but not only is it tasteful and necessary, it's actually not beyond what JRRT put his characters through himself, so I think we may be good."

I must say, I kind of like that.

Oct. 23rd, 2019

I'm trying to help save as much MEFA content as can be saved. Aranel Took is doing the lion's share, really, but I've been poking around trying to find as many banners from back in 2004 as I can, from before the files were saved on the Yahoo site. One way I'm doing that: opening every story that won an award in 2004, to see if any of them still have functioning banners on display.

I feel a bit like I've been punched in the gut, really. HASA is gone. OEAM is gone. Anything on Geocities or Angelfire is gone. So has Freewebs. So many authors have pulled their fic off SOA. Dwimordene's page, one of my favorite haunts in the old days, is gone. At least half the links I'm opening are just... non functional.

I'm sure a lot of this content is available elsewhere, but really, all that lost art and the passing away of the projects that host it deserve a moment's mourning.

Then the people like Aranel, Dawn, and so many others deserve a round of applause. OTW, too, and other groups like them. Thank you, friends, for trying to preserve as much of the history as you can. I'm grateful.

(Aside- if any of you have MEFA banners from 2004, email me at marta-dot-fandom-at-gmail-dot-com. I'll make an official post this weekend, but I'd love any help I can get.)

Joker Thoughts

I've watched Joker twice now and I think I've started to work out just why it leaves me so cold. It's actually pretty durned racist, but it does it in a pretty sly way. It's subtle. At a gut-check level I think I knew something was wrong, but it was really hard to connect to at a surface level.

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