Friday, April 4, 2014

D is for Dwarves - In praise of Fanfiction

Before we move on to our guest today, I'd like to take a moment to send my heartfelt prayers and thoughts out to a blogging friend, Natalie Aguirre, and her family. Natalie lost her husband, Rudy, this past weekend. There are no words of comfort I can give to take away the pain of such a loss. Know that if there were, I'd gladly offer them. May peace and love hold you close, Natalie. ~Sia~


Our guest today is Saralee Etter. Although she's a published romance author, her not-so-secret crush is on Thorin Oakenshield, a dwarf in the Hobbit books (actually, it's on Richard Armitage!) She's also a fanfiction author.

So there’s this new movie trilogy based on JRR Tolkien’s beloved children’s book, “The Hobbit.” So far, two of the three installments have been released, and they’ve been popular around the world.

Some of the biggest attractions of the Hobbit are the “hot dwarves.” These fellows aren’t the squat, hairy, cantankerous little miners of Snow White. They’re badass warriors with rough charm to spare.  There are three main objects of fan adoration: the majestic leader of the company, Thorin Oakenshield, played by British actor Richard Armitage, and his two nephews, Fili and Kili, played by Dean O’Gorman and Aidan Turner respectively.

One of the ways fans have shown their appreciation is by writing fanfiction – stories that take these characters and send them on new adventures, exploring who they are and what could have been.

If you’ve ever finished a story and wished it hadn’t ended, fanfiction is the answer to your wish. People who write fanfiction are your fellow yearners, those who wanted to know what happened next, or what might have been. They are writers with fire in their bellies and an unquenchable desire to share their story with the world, and they do it for no other reason than that they are in love with a story.

This means that fanfiction works, in my opinion, tend to have an enthusiasm and vitality that’s sometimes lacking in works created by professional writers. Fanfic writers may not always have the technical expertise but they’ve got excitement to spare.

Fanfiction has been around longer than you might think, according to this post from Tumblr, written by someone who identifies themselves as a professor of literature:

Most of the history of Western literature (and probably much of non-Western literature, but I can’t speak to that) is adapted or appropriated from something else. Homer wrote historyfic and Virgil wrote Homerfic and Dante wrote Virgilfic (where he makes himself a character and writes himself hanging out with Homer and Virgil and they’re like “OMG Dante you’re so cool.” He was the original Gary Stu). ….

Shakespeare doesn’t have a single original plot—although much of it would be more rightly termed RPF—and then John Fletcher and Mary Cowden Clarke and Gloria Naylor and Jane Smiley and Stephen Sondheim wrote Shakespeare fanfic. Guys like Pope and Dryden took old narratives and rewrote them to make fun of people they didn’t like, because the eighteenth century was basically high school. And Spenser! Don’t even get me started on Spenser.

(Note: RPF stands for “Real People Fiction,” which is just what it says on the tin. Tom Clancy added a bit of RPF to his novel Patriot Games when he had Jack Ryan give marital advice to the Prince of Wales.)
Now, two years after the first installment of the trilogy came out, The Hobbit has inspired more than 10,000 works of fanfiction on An Archive of Our Own (AO3) and 6,400 fanfiction works on (
And impressive as the numbers of Hobbit-related stories is, there are other fandoms with more: The Harry Potter series has inspired 678,000 stories and the Twilight saga has spawned 216,000 fanfiction works on The TV show Supernatural has given rise to 66,000 fanfics on AO3.
Those are some of the big fandoms, but there are fan-written stories that celebrate and explore a wide variety of works, from Arthurian legends to Phantom of the Opera, Sherlock Holmes to video games, anime and manga, Pride and Prejudice, A Song of Ice and Fire, Gone With The Wind, and many more. Browsing the fandoms on both sites can provide you with an idea of what is out there for your reading pleasure.
If you’re looking for new stories to read, why not explore the world of fanfiction? You might find some delightful new tales that feature your favorite characters!

Let's chat: Have you ever read fanfiction? Written it? What book or movie might inspire you to read or write fanfiction?

Miranda Luce expected to make her debut at Almack’s, but when her father’s death leaves her penniless, she becomes an actress. But when her brother-in-law is wrongly arrested, it’s up to Miranda to  help him. Lord Justin Devereux is desperate for a fiancée in order to take control of his inheritance. Hiring an actress as a faux fiancée seems like a good plan. But neither Miranda nor Justin expected their pretend engagement to lead to true love…
Saralee's fanfiction:
When Thorin Met Tauriel (M/F, general)

Dwalin and the Pearl (M/F, mature)

It Takes a Thief (M/M, explicit)

Saralee Etter loves to read and always knew writing was the only career for her. Her lighthearted, fun, Regency romances are the perfect way for her to combine her love of history, romance, and adventure! She also writes fanfiction.

The "D" Books and Authors List:

Dan Brown: Love him or hate him, he sells millions of action thrillers and never fails to engender a strong reaction. Put me in the "fan" camp.

David Sedaris: Non-fiction, some of the best humor I've ever read. Holidays On Ice is a favorite.

Dresden Files by Jim Butcher: A wizard for the grown ups. The audio versions are great!

Damon Runyon: The book Guys and Dolls is nothing like the movie, but the toe-tapping, syncopated rhythm of his writing will throw your speech patterns off for days!

Images courtesy of 

Wednesday, April 2, 2014

B is for Bestseller - Insecure Writers Support Group

The first Wednesday of the month is devoted to an article about the writing life for the Insecure Writers Support Group. In also keeping with the A-Z Challenge,  today’s letter is B, for Bestseller.

I recently became a bestselling author. No, I didn’t make any of the “lists.” When authors say “bestseller list,” they generally mean the New York Times and USA Today. Hitting those lists and being able to put that designation on your books is like grabbing the brass ring. It’s a great goal to reach for and it’s a mark of success that’s recognized in the writing world.

But as writers, we too often despair of making those lists, and beat ourselves up if we don’t. Goals are good, but we also need to stop and pat ourselves on the back occasionally for reaching other important milestones. For me, “bestselling” meant that in March I had my best selling month ever and reached a personal milestone of selling more books in one month than ever before. Some authors sell more than my number in 3 minutes. But where I might lament selling so “few”, I was quickly reminded by another author, also just starting out, like me, that she would KILL to sell that many.

Writers tend to be their own worst critics and we set high standards for ourselves. We need to remember to celebrate the journey as well. Celebrate all the small steps that lead to making those lists. Finishing a chapter. Finishing a book. Surviving a tough round of revisions. Publishing a book. Making sales, no matter how many. 
Let’s chat: If you’re a writer, is making a bestseller list one of your goals (or have you already made it?) Do you celebrate milestones, and if so, how (mine always includes cake!)? If you’re a reader, does “bestselling author” on the cover impact what you buy? Do you check the bestseller lists for new books?

Our theme this month is favorite books and authors. Today's "B" list:

L.B. Beckett: Guild of Spies: A fantastical Victorian-feeling adventure with steampunk elements in an almost real place, in an almost real time.

Byron: star of the Cassa novels by Alex J,Cavanaugh, sci fi military space opera action!
Steve Berry: Action thrillers with a good dose of history and exotic locations, for fans of Dan Brown
Lisa Brackmann: Thrillers with wonderfully gritty realism, complex characters, and exotic locations.

Trophy image courtesy of digitalart /

Monday, March 31, 2014

Monday Musings - The Accidental Blogger

Hi, Kat Sheridan here. First up, an update on Sia. For those who don’t know, Sia has been having a tough time lately, as she explains here.
I’ve heard briefly from Sia and her hubs. Surgery day last Thursday was long, but Sia is at home now, floating on a sea of painkillers, and typing one-handed, but she’s recovering! YAY! She dictated a comment for her hubs to type for her on last Monday's blog that reads:

surgery went well but a lot more damage than we first thought. Serious recuperation time and still a lot of pain--thank God for pain meds. But seeing all these comments made the pain in the heart the heart, much better.


~Dan taking dictation from Sia~

I’ll be keeping the lights on and the coffee hot here at Over Coffee for the month of April until Sia is back with two good arms! Sia wanted to participate in the annual A-Z blog challenge. I’ll be keeping that commitment on her behalf. Because the blog only appears three times a week, we won’t hit all the letters, but I’ll do my best to bring you content I hope you’ll enjoy, by the alphabet. Our theme is “Favorite Books and Authors.” I’ll have friends stopping by on occasion throughout April, talking about everything from Dwarves to Zombies, and I’ll be filling in with articles that reflect my weird, eclectic taste in books.
And of course, I'll be counting on all of you to help me keep the conversation going!
Here's a secret: I never meant to be a blogger. I admire folks like Sia, and many of the commenters here, who blog regularly. It’s a huge commitment to keep coming up with fresh ideas and to have the patience and skill to produce enticing content day after day and to build an audience.

When I first started my own website, I had to decide if it would be a fairly static site that would include only news of my books, or if I would join the legions of bloggers on the interwebs. At the time I was working 60-80 hour weeks, learning my craft, and trying to fit in work on my fiction in the odd leftover moments. I chose not to add blogging to that list. I’m grateful to Sia, however, for inviting me to join her here as the occasional co-host and accidental blogger! And of course, I love being able to "lend a hand" (LOL!) to a friend like Sia!
Though it may look or sound a little different in April, you can always count on this here at Over Coffee: we'll be talking about books and writing, there will alway be a pot of fresh coffee on the counter, and something good to eat! So grab a muffin and kick back!

Let’s talk:  What makes a blog appealing to you? How did you find, and start following the blogs you follow? And if you're a blogger yourself, what made you start it and what keeps you going?