Tuesday, August 28, 2012


My apologies for not updating this sooner, dear readers, but I have been distracted by the many personal and professional demands upon my time. The small-minded idiots at work, my so-called "managers," refuse to give me a moments peace, and insist on hounding me with a never-ending list of tedious chores they expect me to complete. Haven't I done enough for them? And then there are all the other things I have to do, like clean my kitchen, and . . . no, no I won't lie to you dear readers. I will save the make-believe for my tale-telling. The truth is, I have not written Chapter 3 because I have been distraught.

What has brought this on? Nothing less than betrayal. The betrayal of someone I thought I could count on, someone I thought was a true friend.

You may recall that, back in Chapter 1, my friend Laura was assisting me, pushing my fictioneering to ever-greater heights. Chapter 2 started off well but then, toward the end, everything went wrong. Laura became suddenly critical of me. I responded in kind and, I'm sorry to say, hurtful emails were exchanged. "Too sensitive," she says. "Unable to take criticism." As if! I have spent a lot of time in deep personal reflection, and have eaten a great deal of ice cream, and I can now say with confidence that I don't need her help anyway, as you will see, when I write this, the third chapter, all by myself, with no help at all.


Bella, who was a 3.0 GPA, and could have done better if she applied herself, cried herself to sleep. She couldn't understand why no one loved her, why they insisted on criticizing her, and then, when she responded to their criticism, on calling her too sensitive. That night she woke up in the middle of the night, groggy at first, but then she remembered the hurtful words of a "friend," and cried herself to sleep again.

She dreamed of rejection. And bacon.

When Bella got to school the next morning everyone was talking about the upcoming football game against Riverdale. Even the new students, like Willow and Hermione, were taking part in the conversation. Bella saw them talking to some of the other new girls who had recently moved to town, who were named Veronica Mars and Maeby Funke.

"Have you seen Riverdale's quarterback, Moose?" Veronica Mars asked. "That guy is unstoppable."

Bella avoided them all. She was in no mood to talk. She did not want to talk to anyone, but still it bothered her when no one tried to talk to her. Why didn't they want to talk to her? What was wrong with her, anyway?

"It doesn't matter," she said. "I can do this all by myself, with no help at all."

After home room--in room 316, near the cafeteria--she went to the bathroom, and cried until she threw up.

In a stall in the bathroom, the mysterious figure who had been watching Bella earlier--I mentioned that that would be an important plot point, remember--continued to watch her.

Meanwhile, in faraway Transylvania, which is somewhere in Europe, it was a dark and stormy night. In the middle of the fog-enshrouded moors, in a spooky old castle, the Vampire High Council came to order.

On a throne on an elevated dais sat a dark be-caped figure: the King of the Vampires, Dracula. At his side sat Marceline, the Vampire Queen.

"Tell me, lackey," Dracula said to his lackey, in a low menacing tone, "How goes our plan to enslave the land known as 'America'?"

"The plan proceeds apace, sir," said the lackey, who was sweating, because he was frightened. "We have spies there now."

"What of our son?" Marceline asked. There were two holes in her neck. "What of my dear boy Edward?"

"Edward is in Fork City," the lackey said.

"Fork City?" Dracula said, frowning. "Where the hell is that?"

"I believe it's somewhere near Riverdale, sir."

"Riverdale?" Marceline asked. "I hear they have a pretty bad-ass quarterback."

At that very moment Bella was in the bathroom, cleaning the vomit off her face. She heard a noise. Out of the corner of her eye she saw something move. She whirled around, and saw that her friend Laura had walked into the bathroom.

"Oh," Bella said, "It's you."

The previous day Bella and Laura had gotten into an argument, when Laura had accused Bella of plagiarism, when Bella was just making a creative use of Wikipedia, which is, after all, a public resource.

"Listen, I was thinking," Laura said. "I was entirely wrong. I never should have criticized you. And I'm really sorry for those things I said in those emails, about how you're too sensitive and you can't take criticism. Really, I'm the one who should be criticized, not you. Never you."

Bella smiled. "It's okay," she said generously. "I forgive you, Laura." They hugged.

Now that they were both happy, and friends again forever, they walked out . . .

No. No, I'm sorry, I can't do this. I thought it would be therapeutic to, you know, work out some of my feelings in this story, and I think my emotional turmoil has been a good match, and has led to some exciting characterization for Bella, but this, this scene is a lie. Laura and I have not hugged and made up . . . I said some hurtful things in that email exchange, and Laura is still angry at me.


Friday, August 10, 2012


(In case you missed the first epic chapter, you can find it here.)

While I have not yet started a bidding war among publishers (yet!) I am pleased by the positive response my first chapter has received. Clearly there are still connoisseurs of fiction out there who know quality when they see it. And to those who did not enjoy my first chapter, let me simply say this: you are objectively wrong.

As I said, there is not yet a bidding war, but I have already gotten several promising emails from a publisher called “Lulu.” I don’t want to take the first offer that comes along, of course, so I am currently playing hard to get.

Before we get on with the story, I would like to once again thank my faithful assistant and good friend, Laura, for her feedback. And I suppose I should mention that Katniss Everdeen and her love interests were created by Suzanne Collins and are, of course, used here without her permission. Also there will probably be other characters too, but we’ll disclaim those later. On to the story!

Katniss Everdeen sat in a dark room in the future and thought angry, confused thoughts. She remembered back to the day of The Lottery, when she boldly stood up and shouted out, “I WILL TAKE MY SISTER’S PLACE IN THE HUNGER GAMES!!!” And she had done so, and now she was fighting to overthrow the evil Capitol. But that was not what made her angry and confused.

Katniss was in love with a boy named Peeta but she was also in love with another boy named Gale. How could she work this out? Could she maybe date both of them without the other one knowing? If, say, she went out to eat with Peeta, but then slipped off to meet Gale at the ice cream shop next door? Then excused herself to use the bathroom, and went back to Peeta? Or did she even need to keep it a secret? How open minded were Peeta and Gale, anyway? Would they freak out if she proposed a non-traditional relationship?

(Team Peeta all the way! –Laura)

“But if I married both of them,” she thought, “whose last name would I take?” The question made her angry. She wanted to shoot something with an arrow, which was not just an idle thought, because she had a bow and arrow in her hand. She looked around for something to shoot.

The door opened. A man walked in. “My name is John Connor,” he said. “Come with me. We are going to put you in a time machine and send you back in time so you can destroy the Capitol before it even comes to be.”

“Do I get to shoot people with arrows?” Katniss asked.


She shrugged. “Okay, let’s go.”

Meanwhile, back in the past, Bella walked down the street in the rain. She felt sad.

(Not to criticize, but traditionally, fan fiction writers tend to be a bit more . . . florid? You know, describing things more vividly. Maybe give that a try. –Laura)

Meanwhile, five hundred years, six months, seventeen days, four hours, and twelve minutes prior to Katniss’s offhanded acquiescence to the enigmatic John Connor’s shocking, out-of-nowhere offer to send her spiraling back into the depths of history itself so that she might cut out the root of the malignant weed she knew only as “The Capitol,” in order to stop its unholy growth before it might even have begun, the tormented melancholy youth known as “Bella,” whose name meant “beautiful” but who felt like nothing more than a hideous splattered piece of roadkill, a squirrel on the road of life, who tried to cross without looking, and whose intestines had now been ground into paste by a passing Volvo, trudged down the sidewalk in Fork City, a sidewalk that had only recently been built thanks to action taken by the Municipal Development Committee, which passed in a 12-6 vote, as rain rushed into her like a barrage of shots from a million water guns.

Bella shuddered under the unending barrage, even as she reflected on how perfectly it suited her mood. The rain was cold, bitter, and wet, just like her heart. The wailing of the wind echoed the wild wailing in her soul.

(Bingo! –Laura)

(You’re like a muse, Laura, pushing me to heights I had not even previously imagined I could reach. –J.L.)

(Awwww, thanks! –Laura)

“Raaaarrrggghhhh!” Bella cried out, trying to give vent to the demons that toiled and labored on their infernal machinery, to unknown ends, inside of her. Then she realized she was yelling like a crazy person, and shut her mouth.

From a distance, a mysterious stranger watched her every move. The rain poured down on the mysterious stranger, as it pours down on saint and sinner alike, but the mysterious stranger did not seem to care. The mysterious stranger did not even have an umbrella, yet the mysterious stranger kept standing there, in the rain, standing perfectly straight, as if the rain were not even there. Bella could not see the mysterious stranger, and did not know he—or she?!—was there. I only mention it so that you, the reader, will know, and can feel the delightful anticipation of waiting for the mystery of this mysterious stranger to be revealed.

Bella tried to distract herself from herself from her misery. Almost as a reflex, her thoughts flitted to an old and comfortingly familiar topic. She thought of Pope Pius V, who excommunicated Elizabeth I of England for schism and persecutions of English Catholics during her reign. He also arranged the formation of the Holy League, an alliance of Catholic states. Although outnumbered, the Holy League famously defeated the Ottoman Empire, which had threatened to overrun Europe, at the Battle of Lepanto. This victory Pius V attributed to the intercession of the Blessed Virgin Mary and instituted the feast of Our Lady of Victory.

(Um, did you just copy and paste that from Wikipedia? –Laura)

(Wikipedia is a free public resource. Why not take advantage of it? –J.L.)

(Well, sure, the information is publically available, but you can’t just copy the text and pass it off as your own. That’s plagiarism. –Laura)

(Wait a minute, now I’m confused. You’re my muse—you’re supposed to be musing me, not confusing me. Weren’t you the one telling me that fan-fiction was a way to overthrow the old hierarchies, the outdated concepts of “ownership,” and liberate ourselves as writers? And now you’re telling me that Wikipedia is somehow off limits? –J.L.)

(I’ve told you this before, J.L. The point of fan fiction is that it allows us as fans to express our love for our favorite characters. Like, for instance, my favorite character on Battlestar Galactica [2004-2009 series] was Margaret Edmondson, callsign “Racetrack.” There were a lot of characters on the show and, unfortunately, Racetrack did not get the screen time she deserved, although she did make several key discoveries and without her everyone would have died. But in my Racetrack fan fiction (plug! plug!) I can make up for that oversight on the part of the show’s producers, and give Racetrack the spotlight she deserves. While I respect the established canon of the series, I’m interested in crafting my own tales, and I would never copy someone else’s words and use them without permission. Does that make sense? –Laura)

Bella thought back bitterly to the events of the day. Mainly she thought about her friend Laura—her so-called friend Laura—who had stabbed her in the back. Laura had so acted supportive when Bella had started a new endeavor, but was secretly jealous of Bella’s talent. Who wanted to read about Racetrack, anyway? Racetrack was barely even a supporting character.

She slammed the door as she walked into her house. Her father was, as usual, passed out on the kitchen floor in a pool of his own vomit. As she flipped him over, checked to see if he was breathing, and wiped the vomit off his face, a single tear rolled down her cheek.

“No one loves me,” she whispered. “Why won’t someone love me?”


Tuesday, August 7, 2012


My friend Laura recently told me about a woman who wrote some Twilight fan-fiction, changed the name of the characters, got her fan-fiction published as a book, and made millions of dollars. Though I have long been interested in the craft of fictioneering, I had never previously considered attempting a fan-fiction. I am, however, very interested in millions of dollars. I was immediately inspired to begin writing a fan-fiction so great that every publisher would want it. I imagine that, by the time I am finished, there will be a bidding war, and then it will just be a simple matter of going back and changing the names.

I may not be an expert on fan-fiction, but what does expertise matter when you have passion? 
That’s the whole point, isn’t it? Taking the reins of fiction away from the artistic elites who think they somehow “own” the characters they create. But since I am undereducated on the subject I have brought in Laura to help out. Laura is an expert, having previously read AND written fan-fiction. Since this is a work in progress, Laura’s comments will appear periodically throughout the text.

(Hi! –Laura)

According to Laura, fan-fictions usually begin with disclaimers. First I should mention that, while I will be changing the names of these characters at a later date, at which point they, and any associated movie rights, will belong to me, I am starting out with the names of existing characters. Bella and her friends and family were created by Stephenie Meyer for her Twilight series and are used here, while not with her permission, in a spirit of authorial camaraderie and not in any way that should prompt a lawsuit. Besides I will, as mentioned previously, be changing all the names eventually. There are other characters, too, who were technically “created” by other authors, but we will see how they flourish and blossom under my care.

A word of warning—this tale is not for the faint of heart. This first chapter features the words “asshole” and “lascivious,” as well as a hint of lesbianism. Don’t worry, there will be more lesbianism in later chapters, as Laura tells me that sort of thing is essential.

Now that the disclaimer is out of the way I take great pride in presenting to you, without further ado, the fan-fiction to end all fan-fictions . . . FIVE HUNDRED SHADES OF GREAT.

Bella was sad, angry, and bored as she stormed into her bedroom. A high school student, Bella threw her book bag onto her bed, which was in her bedroom. Her cell phone fell out, which made her yelp in horror, since teenagers are all so obsessed with their cell phones.

“I hope my cell phone is alright,” she said, picking it up and cradling it. Her walls were decorated with pictures of boys from boy bands. She was a normal, if klutzy, teenager, little aware of the shocking revelations that would soon be coming her way.

Her phone rang. She gasped in shock, and dropped it, then picked it up again. The screen said the caller was “Unknown.” “Who could it be?” Bella asked, her voice trembling. With shaking hands she pressed a button, accepting the call, and brought the phone to her ear. “Hello?” she whispered.

“Hello? Who is this?” an unfamiliar voice said.

“B . . . Bella,” she gasped.

“Sorry, wrong number.”  There was a click, and the voice on the other end disappeared as quickly as it had come.

Now what? Since her father, who was a police officer, was off at work, she had the house to herself, yet since she was new to town she had no friends. What to do? It looked like another evening would be devoted to her favorite hobby: getting on Wikipedia and reading about the lives of the popes.

(I hate to ask this, J.L., but have you ever actually read Twilight? –Laura)

Halfway through the entry on Pope Urban VIII, Bella fell asleep, and she did not awaken until her alarm clock went off at 6:15.

“Dang it!” she blurted out. “Now I have to go to school!” She showered and dressed, in a black t-shirt and black pants, and went downstairs for breakfast. There was one Low-Fat Eggo Waffle left in the box. Her father had drunk all the orange juice in the fridge, so she had to make some more from concentrate. She pulled the plastic tube out of the freezer and carefully pulled off the

(Do you think maybe we could skip ahead to something more interesting? –Laura)

(This is a little thing called “establishing character,” Laura. But you’re right, I’m trying to cater to the ADD generation, so I’ll go ahead and give ‘em what they want.  –J.L.)

As Bella walked down the hallway at Fork City High, she saw a girl she had not seen there before. The girl was short, with short red hair and a big smile. When the mystery girl saw Bella staring at her, she walked in Bella’s direction. Bella trembled in terror.
The new girl stuck out her hand and said, “Hi, I’m Willow Rosenberg.” Bellow shook her hand. Willow continued, “I just transferred here from Sunnydale High.” She leaned in close and, in a conspiratorial whisper, said, “I’m a lesbian.”

“A, w . . . what?” Bella stuttered. “Does that mean you’re, like, an actor?”
Willow laughed. “Oh, you poor na├»ve thing! Don’t worry, though, I’ll teach you a thing or two.” She gave Bella a lascivious wink, but Bella did not think of it that way, since she did not know what the word “lascivious” meant.
Then someone further on down the hall caught Willow’s attention. “Who is that?” she asked.
A girl with curly hair walked up to them. “Hi,” she said. “My name’s Hermione. I just transferred here from a school in England.”
“That’s a sexy accent,” Willow said.

 (I dunno, J.L., I know you’re planning on changing the names later, but I’d be careful. J.K. Rowling is pretty sensitive about her characters, and she’s richer than God. –Laura)

(Good to know. Thanks for the heads-up! –J.L.)
“What I was saying, before you interrupted me,” Hermione said, “is that I’m from New England. I’m as American as you guys are. And there are lots of girls named Hermione, right?”
“Your accent’s still sexy,” Willow purred. “Say, ‘Park the car.’”
“Pahk the cah,” Hermione said.
Willow squealed with delight.

“Wait a minute,” Bella said, suddenly putting two and two together. “Willow Rosenberg? You’re . . . you’re Jewish!”

“Yes,” said Willow. “And a witch. And . . . you know.” She winked again.

“A witch?” Hermione said, surprised. “I, uh, used to know someone who was a witch.” Her tone suggested something more, that she had a hidden mystery she was not revealing, but Bella did not notice that. She was too busy freaking out.

“I, I’m sorry, Willow,” Bella stammered, “I can’t talk to you . . . my dad would kill me!” She thought back to the time had staggered home blind stinking drunk from the Klan rally, ranting for hours about the “Zionist Conspiracy” that ran the world banks. “Kike bastards!” he had shouted through the tears, and hurled an empty bottle of Mad Dog that missed Bella’s head by inches.

(No, seriously, you haven’t read Twilight, have you? –Laura)

(Twilight is a cultural phenomenon. You don’t have to “read” it to “get” it. Besides, I’ve seen the trailers for all the movies. –J.L.)

“Your dad sounds like a real asshole,” Hermione said, her arms crossed in front of her Boston Celtics sweatshirt.

“You don’t . . . you don’t understand!” Bella gasped, and she turned and ran. She hurled herself through the bathroom door, then into a stall, then crumpled into a fetal position on the floor. The tears flowed out of her like a raging monsoon, the kind that only came during monsoon season. The other kids at school didn’t understand her—no one understood her! If only she could meet someone, that special someone, that magical special sparkling brooding someone, who would take her away from all this pain and confusion.

At that moment, hundreds of years in the future, a serious meeting was taking place in District 13, somewhere near the region formerly known as Appalachia. “It has become clear,” the leader of the meeting said, “that our enemies are too powerful. We cannot overthrow the Capitol.”

“Outrageous!” someone else shouted. “Would you have us give up the fight?”

“No,” the leader said. “I have a better idea. What if I told you we could send an agent back in time . . .