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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Do’s and Don’ts of NaNoWriMo

Are you ready for National Novel Writing Month? If you’re participating in NaNoWriMo, November feels like it flies by in an instant. It may be the start of the month for you or it might be the end, but it’s never too late to win NaNo.

There’s plenty of posts out there about how to win NaNoWriMo. But you don’t have time to read those, do you? It’s November already so it’s time to write!

Here you go, your list of do’s and don’ts for National Novel Writing Month, simplified so you can get back to writing that novel.

Nano do and donts

Do Write Everyday

It may not be a lot, especially during holidays like Thanksgiving, but get something written every single day.

Don’t Take a Day off

You’ll regret it, and you’ll just have to write double tomorrow.

Do Socialize Online and at Events

These are the people who understand what you’re going through. It’s an amazing community that will provide you with the motivation you need to win.

Don’t Use the Writing Prompts

A lot of times at events or online you’ll see writing prompts being used. If you’re serious about your novel and the story you’re trying to tell, ignore these.

Do Try Word Sprints

Word sprints, or word wars, are amazing ways to increase your word count. You may not have thought that writing could be a competitive sport, but it absolutely can be.

Don’t Delete Anything

Maybe there’s a scene that just doesn’t work, or maybe 10,000 words in you hate the story but have a great idea for a new one. Don’t delete anything! Use it as part of your word count anyway.

Do Work Ahead

Ahead by 3,000 words? Excellent! Now make sure you sit down and write your 1,667 words anyway.

Don’t Edit

If you’re like most writers, editing is soul-sucking and an easy way to get discouraged and lose a lot of time. Focus on editing during NaNoEdMo.

Do Decide You’ll Win

Because you will. Don’t let yourself think otherwise.

Don’t Stop Writing

Once November is done and NaNoWriMo is over, keep writing. Keep working on your novel. If you made the time for NaNo all month, there’s no reason you can’t write at least a couple thousand words every month of the year.

Good luck, fellow WriMos!

Need More Motivation?

Your Guide to a Successful NaNoWriMo

The Used Bookshop That’s Bigger On The Inside

There is no shortage of used bookstores in the country, and each of them have their charms. From the small, niche bookshops covering only psychology to the Half Price Books littered across the nation, there’s plenty of used bookstores to go to.

And then, there’s Dickson Street Bookshop in Fayetteville, Arkansas.

Large long bookshelf with books
Maze of bookshelves crammed with books

My wife and I visited a friend in Arkansas over Labor Day weekend, and this bookshop was one of the places she suggested taking us. But she didn’t warn us that we would be walking into the most impressive bookshop I’d ever been to.

When you first step inside it doesn’t look that different from your typical bookstore. It’s a bit chaotic, there’s books from floor to ceiling, and everything is organized with labels on the shelves.

But then, as you look down one of the aisles, you realize the store keeps going. And going.

Rows of bookshelves

It’s actually a maze inside. It’s possible to get turned around in this bookshop. That’s because the layout does this very unique thing where it splits off into different rooms, which sometimes are only accessible by taking a strange one-way route.

For example, I took a right at a shelf, followed immediately by a second right down some stairs. Suddenly I was in a mini branch of the bookshop, with rows of bookshelves and small gaps between shelves where I could see the main corridor. But there was only one way to get into the section I was in, and it had been hard to find. You can literally spy on people shopping from these little nooks.

Bookshelves surrounding a small stage

I spent the first half hour just wandering around the bookshop, discovering all the nooks and crannies before I even started to browse. Pretty much any topic you’re looking for is covered somewhere in this shop.

The shop also carries a wide selection of rare and out of print books near the front of the shop. These books are absolutely beautiful. I love old books, so I got a lot of joy out of staring at them.

Plus there’s all these fun literary cartoons and odd book advice taped to the walls and shelves.

How to open a book printed paper

There was something just a little bit magical about this bookstore. It felt like one of those places where an adventure could begin.

Bookshelves and handwritten signs

Basically, if you ever find yourself in Arkansas, stopping in Dickson Street Bookshop is worth the time. I could have spent a full day there if my group allowed it. I hope someday a couple copies of my novels find their way into the shelves of this beautiful bookshop.

girl with a coffee surrounded by bookshelves