Living The Dream: From Fangirl to Author


You may be surprised to learn that there are many ways you can turn fandom into a business.

You can become an etsy seller, a professional cosplayer, or even an academic who studies fandom (my friend is going for a PhD in it). But many of us fans dream of doing more than discussing and promoting our favorite works… we want to create our own.

This may be because we have our own stories clawing at us from deep inside, or may just be because we are tired of queerbaiting. Either way, a lot of passionate fans are also passionate creators, no matter what the medium may be.

But how do you make the jump? And how did I not only make the jump, but make the jump with a story about fandom?

It Started With Fanfiction

I started writing fanfiction back in 2003, and I never did stop. I started with (really bad) Harry Potter fanfiction about the Marauders. It included self-inserts. I was only twelve, don’t judge me.

Death Note fanfiction is where I really hit my stride, and it’s the period when I realized I really wanted to be an author. I loved writing. I was constantly having new ideas, especially for AU stories about Mello and Matt. I even became a bit of a household name in the Death Note fandom (I’m still proud of that). By the time I was heading off to college, I’d written hundreds of thousands of words and was planning to major in creative writing.

Being a Creative Writing Major

I did get some scorn for majoring in English with a focus on creative writing. I knew I wanted to be an author, but I wasn’t sure exactly what I’d do with my career beyond that. I imagined I would work in the publishing field in some capacity, and my editing and publishing class only made me that much more certain.

At first I struggled to write content that wasn’t focused on characters that already existed. It was difficult to pull myself away from the typical fanfiction tropes. While many of them make for great stories, a lot of them don’t make for great novels. This was probably my biggest struggle when it came to my English courses. In a way, writing my original work just seemed boring to me.

I also faced a lot of stress about my future career. I’d chosen English knowing it made me more marketable than other degree options, but I still felt rather limited in what careers I could actually pursue. So, naturally, I just focused on my writing classes.

And I did get better. I was always reading, for fun and for classes. My final exams were writing short stories or essays about literature. I got used to critiquing people’s work. I took English courses in satire, utopia, literary fiction, experimental fiction, and folklore. By the end of my college career, I had a better understanding of myself as a writer.

Writing Novels That Sucked

My first 3 novels, 2 of which I never properly finished, were terrible.

The first two were actually just complete garbage. The third tried, but really did not go very well.

Here’s a small list of the problems these three novels had that made them garbage:

  • Little character development

  • Cliche plots

  • Unnecessary scenes

  • Lack of focus

  • Bad writing

On the bright side, I learned a lot from those three failed projects. They helped me learn to improve those things, and they helped me figure out how to craft characters I loved so much that I never wanted to leave their world.

Seeking Utopia

This is a novel I don’t discuss here often, but it is the first novel I completed that I felt had a shot at publication. Seeking Utopia is the first in a trilogy about a girl who travels between dimensions using cracks she finds in the world.

Okay I know this sounds similar to FanFact, but they’re actually really different. Seeking Utopia is based on science and physics. It features about a dozen different dimensions, all very different, and has a very different feel. It’s a book series that features a bunch of strong queer women with a man or two thrown in here and there.

I do plan to go back to this series. The first book is finished, and the second in the trilogy is in progress. Once I finish FanFact I’d like to go back to it and start edits.


FanFact is my baby. The idea grabbed me about a year ago and has consumed my life. I fell in love with the characters and the world before I even began to write it, and I think that shows in the novel.

In fact it’s one of the first things I ever wrote about on this blog!

This novel really brought me back to my roots. It’s a novel about being a fangirl, about slash pairings, and about magic. It’s a novel that even features fanfiction, but moves beyond that to flesh out new original characters, but from a fangirl’s perspective. It is exactly the novel I want to write.

It’s been a long road to get here from being a fanfiction consumer, but it’s been an amazing ride. You don’t have to be an amazing cosplayer or artist to have a career in fandom life. You can create your own fandom, using your own original ideas.

Get out there. Make something amazing, and find amazing people to share it with!

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The Real Difference Between Professional Writing & Creative Writing

Are you a creative writer who dreams of making a living by writing professionally? And I don’t mean as an author -- I mean writing content for an actual job position. Is it as amazing as it sounds to spend your entire day writing at your job, then going home to work on your novel?

Well, not exactly.

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Professional Writing

Pretty much everyone assumed that when I said I was pursuing an English degree that I was going to work as a teacher. Absolutely not. Teachers do amazing work, and I actually used to write about education frequently at my old job. But I wouldn’t want to be one.

There are a lot of jobs you can do with an English degree, but if you want to work with words you’re most likely to end up in marketing/communications. That’s what I do.

Writing at a computer

My first job out of college was as a Copywriter, and I pretty much did it all. I wrote copy for blogs, advertisements, social media, websites… you name it, I was the one writing it. I’m working as a Communications Manager now, and while the job is still primarily writing, it’s more focused on email marketing and magazine publication. But both jobs involve a lot of writing.

But It’s More Than Writing

When you work as a professional writer, you aren’t just sitting at your desk typing all day. To create content, there’s a lot of things you have to do before and after the writing process.

  • Researching information for the content you’re writing

  • Interviewing others to enhance your content

  • Writing content according to brand guidelines

  • Utilizing keywords in your copy

  • Meeting requirements such as word/character count

  • Fact checking names, dates, and pretty much everything else

  • Getting approval on copy you’ve written

  • Working with graphic designers to solidify layouts, photos, & more

  • Tracking analytics to determine how effective your copy is

  • Researching marketing trends and tools to stay up-to-date

I spend the majority of my time writing, but there’s also a lot of hours that go into all that other stuff. If that doesn’t appeal to you, you’re not going to enjoy a career in professional writing.

Professional Writing Topics

But hey, at least you’re writing for a living, right? That has to be more interesting than most other jobs out there. Here’s an example of the type of topics I’ve written content about in my professional career:

  • Digital Signage

  • School Supplies/School Furniture

  • Cardboard Boxes

  • Mailboxes

  • Postal Uniforms

  • Bubble Wrap

  • Arts & Crafts Instructions

  • Product Descriptions (thousands and thousands of them)

  • Trends in Education

  • Marketing

  • Corkboards

That’s just a sampling. As you can see, there’s some really cool topics in there. Digital signage, marketing, educational trends-- that can all make for some exciting content. But what about corkboards and boxes? How boring are these things to write about?

Part of your job as a professional writer is to make these seemingly dull topics interesting. That can be a challenge, and for me it’s a rewarding challenge. If that doesn’t sound very rewarding to you, writing professional copy may not be for you.

Why Creative Writing Is So Great

I doubt I have to list the benefits of creative writing to you, but I will for the sake of argument:

  • Ability to write whatever you want without rules

  • Create brand new worlds

  • Make characters do whatever you want

  • Do research on topics that interest you

  • Share your story with others

But creative writing is still a lot of work, just in different ways. If you’re serious about becoming a published author, you have to worry about marketing. You need to understand the publishing process. You have to do a lot of intense editing work, like I’m doing now, and you have to think about scene structure, dialogue choices, and hundreds of other little things. Sadly, creative writing isn’t always fun. Most things aren’t.

Do I Enjoy Writing Professionally?

I love it. There’s no job I would rather be doing. But if you’re only interested in the creativity of writing and only want to write what interests you, you may want to go into another field of professional work.

I still can’t believe that my job is to write for a living. There’s a lot of other things involved in it, sure, but at the end of the day my job is to write. It’s challenging, extremely gratifying work, but it isn’t for everyone, even if you love writing.

How does professional writing sound to you? I’d be happy to answer your questions!

Behind The Scenes: Editing FanFact

As you may have seen, I’ve finished my first draft of FanFact, the story of a fangirl who stumbles into her favorite fantasy book series. After taking a brief break to give myself some space from the manuscript, I’ve started the editing process.

Every author has a different editing process, and I’m just starting to really understand my own. This is my third fully completed novel, but it is the first I’ve gone back to do hard edits on. I think part of the reason for this is because I had such a firm handle on this story from day one, and I have a more vocal support group than I used to.

This time I think I’m actually going to get through the editing process without losing my mind!

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Step 1 - Beta Reader

The first thing I did was hand off my finished rough draft to my first beta reader. During this time, I didn’t go anywhere near my manuscript. You need to give yourself space right after you write something, otherwise it is easy to ignore mistakes because you don’t realize something in your head didn’t make it to the page.

I’ve sent my draft to several people for feedback, but I only waited for one of them to finish their critique before I went back to work.

Having a talented beta reader is necessary when working on a novel. They point out plot holes, where there needs to be more character development, inconsistencies in the text, and so much more. Once I have these notes I can move on to step two.

Step 2 - Making Notes On The Manuscript

After reading the notes from my beta reader I drove to the local library on a breezy, cloudy day. Before that day I had never printed any of my manuscripts, mostly because it seemed like a pain and I didn’t see the point when I could make the edits directly on the computer.

But what I’ve come to understand from working as a professional copywriter is that printing materials you write on a computer is one of the best things you can do in terms of editing. Why is this?

  • We’re conditioned to expect computer documents to be neat and organized. Track changes look messy.

  • It is easier to write notes (“Re-write”, “Expand this section”) on paper, versus on the computer where it feels like the changes should be made immediately.

  • It’s easier to spot typos on paper.

  • It is impossible to get wrapped up in re-writing specific sections, because there’s just no room to do it.

I’m really loving making my edits on my physical manuscript. There’s something extremely satisfying about it. For this round of edits I’m ignoring typos and grammar, and instead focusing on sections of the text that need re-writes.

After I make it through the manuscript the first time, I’ll have a full manual stating where I need to put in the most writing work. Then it will be back to writing again based on those manuscript notes, until I’ve gotten through all of them.

Step Three - Back To The Beta Readers

After I finish making all the noted changes, including the changes proposed by my beta reader, I’ll send the manuscript back out. Hopefully this time I’ll only get a few, smaller notes for improvement. The goal is to not have any major rewriting to do after I get my second round of feedback.

As notes from my beta readers come in, I’ll start applying changes as needed. By now my writing should be at its best.

Step Four - Proofreading & Fact Checking

This is the bit of the editing process that I am looking forward to least. Step four is a much more monotonous undertaking than the first three steps, and it requires I pay very close attention to every single word I’ve written.

This isn’t just looking for typos and grammar errors. This is the final run before I start to pitch to agents. That means that everything has to be as perfect as it can be. I need to fact check not just my research, but my own writing.

From page to page, all the little details have to be consistent. Liam must be the same age across the entire book. Small details, such as town names, must always match. Details that are unnecessary and distracting must be removed so they don’t create confusion for the reader.

My beta readers will make some of these corrections themselves, but that doesn’t get me off the hook.

As I continue through the editing process I’ll be sending exclusive previews to my email newsletter subscribers. Sign up so you don’t miss out!