The Fanfic Phenomenon

Yesterday, one of my favorite fanfiction writers updated a story that I’ve been reading for several years.  I’m pretty sure it’s the longest fanfic in history, and I absolutely love it.  I started thinking about how fanfiction helped me get motivated to write again, and I thought I’d share the story with you.
True confession time.  I used to be addicted to soap operas.  Well, not soaps plural, but one in particular.  I recorded it on my VCR every day and when I got home from work, I watched my story.  I got frustrated though, because my favorite couple just *wouldn’t* get together.  After another teasing storyline, I decided to try to find a forum or something online where I could whine out my frustrations.
Jason Morgan, from General Hospital
I found a great one, and commiserated mightily with the other members.  We were all fans of this star-crossed couple, and wanted nothing more than a brief HEA for them.  Hey, it’s a soap.  We all knew he’d cheat on her, or she’d fall in love with his dad or something. 
But then, I saw this little topic labeled fanfiction.  With a clickity-click of the mouse, I found a few stories written by forum members where they did have their HEA.  I read everything I could get my hands on and discovered another little link buried in one of the stories.  The author couldn’t post the story in the group because it wasn’t my favorite couple.  It was my guy…and another guy!  What’s this?  *gasp and flutter*  So of course, I did the clickity-click again, and after I shorted out my laptop from all the drool, I realized that I’d found something to read that I really liked.
There were only a couple “slash” stories written about my guy, but I had to find more.  I found a site that hosted a bunch of different fanfiction and lo and behold I found my ultimate super favorite TV show in the list. 
I read for days.  I’m not kidding.  Days.  Couldn’t stop. And I realized…hey, I have a story I want to write.  So that weekend, I sat down and wrote my first fanfiction.  Twenty six thousand words of it, to be precise.  I didn’t know what I was doing.  But I posted it to the site anyway.  And got 300 hits the first night, and multiple comments begging for more.  Well, if that wasn’t enough to get my heart beating faster, I don’t know what was!
I posted a chapter every day for two weeks.  Then someone told me I should post it over on another site.  Alrighty, I thought, and off I went.  It started a new obsession for me.  I spent time reading and writing every day.  Comments poured in.  It was a real boost to the ego.
Two years later, I realized I was trying to force original ideas to fit the fanfiction mold.  My best friend (met on one of those fanfic sites btw), told me to get off my duff and write my own.  So I did.  And a year later, here I am, polishing up my first original manuscript and hoping beyond hope to become a published author.
I know some folks give fanfic writers a lot of flack. Heck, some of it is deserved.  But if it brings more people to writing?  I say slash, slash, and slash some more!

The Trixie Belden Effect

One of the questions I most want to ask other authors is “When did you first start writing?”.  For me, the answer is easy: after I read my first Trixie Belden book back in 1985.  My best friend from middle school had several of them and she let me borrow the first of the series.  I was hooked.  I read “The Secret of the Mansion” at least twenty times. My poor dad had to scour used book stores to help me get the next book in the series and when I was in between books, I made up Trixie stories of my own.
Trixie wasn’t like the other big teenage mystery heroine of the day.  That Nancy girl was rich, smart, and beautiful.   Not my Trixie.  Oh, she was smart, but that rich and beautiful thing?  Not so much.  Kind of like me.  We both lived out on a farm and cursed our freckles. We minded our Mommas and looked for adventure everywhere we went. She was the first character from a book that I really related to and more than anything, I wanted to be like her.
There are over 30 books in the Trixie series.  I was never able to get all of them as a kid, but the first thing I bought from Ebay was “The Hudson River Mystery”.  It completed my collection.  I still have the entire set, plus several different editions of them at this point.  I can never resist checking used book stores for rare copies. A few years ago, I saw a Trixie book at a big retail store.  They had re-released new editions. Oh, there was some fangirl squeeing going on. 
The thing is, that first book that takes you away?  That sparks your imagination?  That’s the one that sticks with you forever.  Over the years, I’ve read hundreds and hundreds of books. But not a one can give me what Trixie did.  That first glimmer that maybe I could write a book, too.
This week, over 25 years later, I completed the first draft of my first book.  So thanks, Trixie.  I couldn’t have done it without you.