2015 Fandom Achievement Award

CaraNo
Christina Lauren
jandco and wtvoc
The Blessing and the Curse
We Were Here
Wide Awake


- Blinkie by beegurl13 - 


- Tribute by Lisa A. Hollett -

CaraNo saved my life.

No, I’m not actually being dramatic at all. (Please contain your surprise.) It began, as so many fic rec stories do, with a tweeted link to a story someone couldn’t put down. I don’t even recall who recommended that first story of hers to me back in 2011, but I do remember once I started reading her words, I could not get enough of them.

Flash forward a few years, through some twists and turns the likes of which break lesser people, and she ended up moving in to my guest room for a few months last fall. We had an amazing time full of Caribbean cruises and road trips and all the best and worst food America has to offer. She’s back home in Sweden now, but I’m not sure she has forgiven me yet for introducing her to Lemon Drops on a night only parts of which I can recall.

Though she got her start as a writer in the Twilight fandom, Cara doesn’t only write fic. She’s a successful Amazon author with more than one #1 bestseller to her credit. When she branched out into original fiction as Cara Dee, I was lucky enough she wanted me to stay at her side as her editor. And when I was so rudely ousted from my full-time job earlier this year, it was the confidence she’d helped me build as a fiction editor that enabled me to grow my fledgling indie editing business and keep myself busy, profitable, and well-fed. (Hence the life-saving mention up above.)


Even if you’ve never read one of her fics or books—Hello, you there, under the rock! Come on out. We don’t bite. Much…—you’ve undoubtedly read something influenced by her style, skill, or stories. Her impact on the fandom cannot be understated. She introduced a ton of us to Daddy Kink, which we didn’t even know was a thing, let alone a thing we liked. She made slash stories a genre we never knew we always wanted. She’s written redneck Edwards and shattered Bellas, but she’s always stuck to her two simple rules: no cheating and always an HEA. In the world of fiction, as in real life, those rules are pretty much all you need to get by. That’s part of her talent, creating multiple different worlds all originating from the same place of love, happiness, and optimism. She makes her words a safe place for all of us.

I could write a blurb on why each one of Cara’s fics and books is amazing, but for space (and attention span) limitations, I had to keep it to five.

Isla de Cullen: This was one of Cara’s early fics. Posted like twice a week in the beginning, let me tell you, on update days, I was refreshing my email like a mofo. The story of Takeward and Little Bella, IdC was a dip of the toe in the waters of BDSM and a whole lot of sexy. I was not her beta when she wrote this, and believe me, I wanted to be involved so desperately. Maybe I pestered her over PM to let me beta it. Maybe. So, funnily enough when she had me re-beta the whole story later, I found myself with a new chapter to edit on a late-night flight to Vietnam. I hit page down in my aisle seat only to find she’d added NSFW manips to the doc. I’m not sure I’ve ever closed my laptop lid faster. I only hope whoever was seated on the plane behind me enjoyed the show.

Look but Don’t Touch: Originally titled Daddy’s Touch (with a cover that you wouldn’t want your mama glimpsing over your shoulder), this was Cara’s first original fiction book. It’s hot, it’s taboo, it’s Daddy-kink. It’s the first book in her BDSM Touch series, which has a kink for everyone. (Yes, even you!) Kayla is still one of my all-time favorite characters of Cara’s.  And, little-known fact—when I edit for certain clients like my girl Cara, I do an out-loud editing round. For this one, I actually sent an audio file to Cara of me reading one of my favorite scenes with Kayla and her Daddy. If you ever encounter a drunk-me, which is not unlikely, maybe I’ll recreate it for you. Her words just lend themselves to reenactment…

Northland: Cara has found a great deal of publishing success in the M/M fiction genre. She sent me a few M/M e-books for my birthday a few years back, and I quickly joined her on this bandwagon. Everything she works on she meticulously researches but perhaps none of her books more than her North series. Set in the far-reaches of Alaska, Northbound and Northland detail the inner workings of the winter activities at an adventure camp. There are wolves and bears and dogs and sexy men hot for each other and an adorable little garden gnome named Justin. Even if M/M isn’t your jam, you should check this one out because it’s a Cara story, and all of those are worth reading.

Grand: It was a drabble fic when it began. Not a 100-word chapter one, but short chapters posted frequently, detailing the story of Las Vegas mafioso Junior and his favorite stripper Hummingbird. What started so small, so simple, so perfectly period grew to encompass five decades featuring dozens of characters, a lot of unique ways to die, and over 350,000 (!) words. If the stars and our vacation plans align, next summer Cara and I are headed to Vegas to walk in the Maisanos’ footsteps. We’ll let you know if Junior is still wandering around in that bathrobe with the comb in his pocket waiting for his favorite show on the Discovery Channel. And if Hummingbird invites us over for an Italian feast, you know we’re not saying no. You wouldn’t either.

Close Your Eyes: No sampling of Cara’s work is complete without an angsty story, and Close Your Eyes was one of her best (or “worst,” if you’re an angst wuss like me). Orphaned Bella, abused Edward, a Carlisle I’d like to run down with my SUV. This story illustrates for us the power of pain in shaping young lives band also how love and compassion and forgiveness can transform even the most broken soul.

And if you’re a reader of Cara’s, I’m sure you’re asking, “But what about Whistler or Anthony from Power Play or the zombies or Second Page with little Josie or O Holy Christmas with that passel of kids in the holiday lodge or Our Yellow House and all the tears we cried or All Nighters with Lisa’s favorite semicolon use of all time or…or…or?” That’s the hallmark of a great writer. When you have to pick just a few to mention, you have to leave so many off the list. And that’s the beauty of Cara’s work. Just because I didn’t single it out doesn’t mean it’s not awesome and doesn’t mean you shouldn’t put down that work assignment and download the book or the PDF and read it at your desk. Hey, losing my job worked for me because of Cara. Maybe it’ll work for you!

But, really, that’s terrible advice. Don’t take that. Though, do listen to me and read everything Cara has written. Then let us know what your top five are. You’ve got roughly fifty fics and books from which to choose. Pick wisely. Or, hell, don’t. They’re all fantastic, and that’s not just the wine talking. It’s the magic of Cara.


- Blinkie by beegurl13 - 


- Tribute by JiffyKate -

Smart.

Witty.

Funny.

Smutty.

Is that a word?

Clever.

Sweet.

Friendly.

Exuberant.

Classy. Sometimes classy is spelled with a “K,” but still…

As we were brainstorming exactly what to say about this dynamic duo, these were just some of the words that came to mind. Oh, and vulva. We can’t forget vulva.

Christina Lauren. That’s two people, just in case you didn’t know. They write so seamlessly, it’s hard to tell that by their words. They began as two girls writing in the land of Twilight fanfiction, and today, they’re on every Best Sellers list out there.

The Office, and its beautiful bastard, is one for the fanfic history books. It’s spoken about in must-read threads and often mentioned when someone asks for a reader’s all-time favorite fic. When it was being published as a work-in-progress, it created a frenzy on posting days. Like so many other fanfic greats, readers waited with baited breath for each new chapter. 

Since its publishing date in February of 2013, Beautiful Bastard, has topped the charts. With each new installment, Christina Lauren have continued to kill it. And by ‘it,’ we mean us and our panties. Their novels are just like them: smart, witty, and sexy. There’s something so familiar about each of them—always a smokin’ hot dude and a funny, strong woman. But with each new book, they give us something fresh and new.

And can we talk a minute about the books? So. Many. Books. These girls are writing machines! The Beautiful series now has four full-length novels and four novellas. Their newer series, Wild Seasons, now consists of three full-length novels, with a fourth one coming out early next year. Not only do they write steamy hot adult books, but they also have two YA books, Sublime and The House. Whether it’s a sex-filled book about a beautiful bastard and his beautiful bitch or a haunting book about a boy and a ghost, they spin tales that suck you in and latch onto your heart.

As human beings, they’re two of the nicest people you’ll ever meet. We can attest to their genuine kindness and infectious personalities. On their blog, they describe themselves as “partners/besties/soulmates/brain-twins,” and it’s true. They’re hilarious together. If you ever get the chance to meet them in person, DO IT!

We have a few people we strive to be like, and Christina Lauren is at the top of our list. They’re not only fantastic authors, but they’re good people, too. And, let us not forget, they were featured on BuzzFeed as romance’s hottest writing duo!

From one writing duo to another, we’d like to thank them for their contributions to this fandom and for setting such a wonderful example in the publishing world.


- Blinkie by beegurl13 - 


- Tribute by Amanda Weaver aka spanglemaker9 - 

When I quietly crept into the fandom in the spring of 2009, the party was already well underway. Fics were exploding, readers were gobbling them up, and people couldn’t stop gushing about the drop everything update of the day. Several “fandom superstars” were already cranking out stories and epic review counts, but for me, nobody had the combined star power of wtvoc and jandco.

It seems impossible to imagine a fandom without The Teenage Angst Brigade. It pushed boundaries, it got people talking, raging, freaking out, and it was also really good. How could something so outrageous and wicked also be so wildly entertaining? jandco figured out how.

But wait… She was about more than smut and teen drama. How about dark, twisted love? The kind that gives you knots in your stomach just reading about it? Mutually Assured Destruction was the car accident we couldn’t look away from. She took the line “my own personal brand of heroin” and took it to its bleak, all-too-human conclusion. The characters made you rage, cry, scream at your laptop in frustration, but the one thing you had to do was keep reading. She defied fic conventions when Edward and Bella got back together in the end and all it did was leave us feeling bereft and depressed. That’s some edgy stuff.

If you needed a palate cleanser after all that self-destructive misery, she did that, too. Perfectly Imperfect had a train wreck Edward that made us love him despite himself and tons of snarky dialogue that kept us laughing non-stop. Few writers can so effortlessly tackle such diverse storytelling and get it right every single time.

Then there’s her other half, wtvoc. Must Have Been Love was one of the earliest fics I read when I came into the fandom, and to this day, hearing the title makes me think of Edward and Bella as they’re about to kiss while sitting in the dark on a porch swing on Halloween. Talk about moments that lasts forever.

Of course, I’ve gotten to know Kristen pretty well since then, and we’ve wandered off into new fandoms and new obsessions.Whether she was writing about Edward Cullen, Mr. Darcy, Ichabod Crane, or Captain Hook, she’s made me swoon over and over. Some of my favorite moments reading fic have happened while reading her words.

Now.

Let’s talk about jandco and wtvoc together.

I’m pretty sure the earth shifted on its axis the day the two of them encountered each other online. I know for a fact they’ve changed each other’s lives for the better, and they’ve made all of ours immeasurably better, too.

In the world of fic, they’ve ripped our hearts out and smashed them flat with Dear Isabella. Fic doesn’t make me cry. Dear Isabella made me bawl like a baby. Fess up. You know you cried, too. Scotch, Gin, and the New Girl is a seminal fic for so, so many of us. To this day, it’s still one of the great AH teen fics in the fandom.

Then, just when it seemed they’d gone radio silent in the world of Twific, a new story showed up on everyone’s radar. The Consequence of Miracles was amazing. A horrific, gut-churning read, so brilliantly executed that you had to keep going, even when you knew it would break your heart in all the worst ways. And it was written by this enigma, Travis Birkenstock. Who the hell was that? Who could have taken on such challenging subject matter and dealt with it so deftly, crafting a story that had everybody in the fandom on the edge of their seats for weeks? None other than our own wtvoc and jandco, of course.

I had the privilege to pre-read their first original fiction, Failure to Navigate, and I mean it when I say it was a privilege. When I finished, I felt immensely fortunate to have been a part of a community that could generate talent like this, that our crazy little corner of the internet had produced writers who could create such a beautiful, harrowing read.

And through it all, as popular as their fics became, as ubiquitous as their names have been, they’ve both remained so damned nice. They’re like those girls in school, the coolest ones, who listened to the hottest music and wore the best clothes and knew absolutely everybody, but who were still the friendliest, most down-to-earth girls you’d ever meet. I’m honored to consider them both friends.

They’re working on a new original work, and it will no doubt be as brilliant, as witty, as gritty and real and beautifully written as everything else they’ve done to date. Our fandom has produced a lot of writers. It’s no exaggeration to say that we’ve changed the face of publishing in some ways. But for me, the most talented of the bunch are jandco and wtvoc. I think I speak for a great many people when I say that I can’t wait to see what they come up with next. Without a doubt, it will blow us away. 


- Blinkie by beegurl13 - 


-  Tribute by Rochelle Allison - 

Throughout time, as long as humans have lived, they have believed in soul mates. One person out there…the missing piece of their soul.

…But fate does not intend an easy path for all.

…Sometimes the bitterest pill to take is the soul mate that has been there all of your life. The soul mate who wants to consume you, to own you, to drink your strength…

…On one side of the coin, it was a blessing, because Bella had her soul mate by her side since the moment she first opened her eyes on this world. But on the flipside, the blessing was her curse: her wicked soul mate could hear her thoughts, read her like a book and use what he wished.

Some stories stay with you.

You think about them at odd times, finding yourself returning to them time and time again for a quick re-read of a scene or passage. They pop up on lots of “favorites” or “classics” lists because they’re genuinely that good. And like any popular story − whether fic, published novel, or movie − there are those that weren’t crazy about it because it’s so intense, because Edward’s so intense. They remember it, though. It impacted them all the same. I remember when this was a WIP; the excitement and anticipation that accompanied each chapter was crazy. Flails and discussion were the norm.

When I was asked to talk about The Blessing and the Curse by The Black Arrow, I was honored. That might sound corny, but this story’s so well-loved, so epic, that to be able to write a love letter to it (and its author) was an opportunity I couldn’t pass up. (I mean, it’s in my personal top five!) The timing was perfect, too, because I’d coincidentally re-read TB&TC the week before. And what hit me, with this most recent read, was how timeless the story is. Not all fan fiction ages well, but TB&TC remains a gem. For me, it raises the bar. The prose - whether describing “The Cullen Dimension” (the Forks estate that feels like a moody character itself, as if Edward is personified through its weather) or the cast of characters that rounds out the story - is still pristine and gorgeous, richly detailed but not quite purple:

He was like a city that had been bombed, and no one could bear to rebuild. (Charlie)

Edward’s overwhelming obsession with Bella *still* made my stomach flip. And, like Bella, I spent the chapters caught between wanting to smack his perfect face and make out with him.

He had faint stubble, and his lips always looked like he had just been kissing. He lounged on the rock as though he were reclining on a feather bed. He was completely, utterly delicious.

But, she told herself as she slapped herself mentally, he was also completely dysfunctional, self centered and immature.

And that, right there, is the crux of this story. It goes beyond the usual “forbidden love” or “friends to lovers” or “I hate you so much I love you” tropes; this is Edwardian angst at its best. Edward and Bella’s strange connection (their literal connection - he can see her thoughts when they touch) is quite nearly a character of its own. They seem to become different people when they’re together, as if their relationship is a veritable third party.

Edward and Bella share a birthday. She was born three hours after him, as if “she couldn’t bear for him to be in the world without her,” according to a now ailing Esme. Bella’s mother dies soon after, and when it becomes obvious that Charlie can’t handle it (or being a parent), Esme, who was Renee’s best friend, unofficially takes her in. Edward and Bella are inseparable from their days in the (usually shared) crib, and their relationship only intensifies as they grow. The people around them can see it’s becoming unhealthy, especially as they hit their teen years, but nothing they do helps. At one point, Charlie and the Cullens agree to send Bella to a boarding school to give them a break, but Edward does something to ruin that, and within months, Bella’s back in Forks. (The story never says what he did, but The Black Arrow’s beta, bookbag, wrote a steamy and no longer available one-shot titled Denying Difference that fills in the blanks.)

When the story opens, a newly engaged Bella has returned to Forks to stay with the Cullens. Esme, her surrogate mother over the years, is finally succumbing to cancer, and the family wants to spend her last days together. Although Bella has her insecurities, the family loves her as one of its own, so it’s natural for her to be there. Naturally, Edward can’t help but be his usual manipulative self. In fact, he wants her to pretend they’ve fallen in love so Esme can pass away knowing they’re happy together, something she’s always secretly wished for. Bella balks at first, but she eventually plays along, partly because she cannot resist Edward and partly because of her desire to make Esme happy (even though Esme loves her regardless).

The thing is that as selfish and obsessive and arrogant as Edward is, he actually does love Bella. He always has. He just has a messy way of showing it.

Because when Bella thinks about their past, she remembers Edward’s possessiveness, his jacket on her shoulders (much to the envy of his many female admirers), keeping her from other boys at school, holding her hand at the bus stop. She recalls his cruelty; he can see her thoughts, so he knows she’s always found him beautiful. He knows she loves him, but he’s had dalliances with every girl he can, even the few girlfriends Bella’s had.

So it’s not until they reunite in the present that we realize just how deep his feelings actually run.  Anyone who’s read this story remembers the chapter in which Bella snoops in Edward’s laptop and finds his photographs. He’s a talented photojournalist, and his war-time images are gripping, but it’s the thousands of photos of Bella that floor her. He doesn’t want her to find them, but she does. Edward’s finally laid bare, vulnerable, for the first time in their relationship. She also discovers he’s only ever been able to “hear” her, and then… she realizes she can “hear” him. And then they finally connect physically, and it’s glorious.

He was a dark stained glass window finally lit; damaged and cracked, but all the more breathtaking for it.

When her fianc√©, Michael, finally tears himself away from work and joins them unexpectedly, there’s an obvious friction. Bella’s left to make a decision (that we all know isn’t really a decision at all; come on).

He wants a wife…I want my soul back.

Melt.

This story is about love, from the all-consuming love and devotion between Edward and Bella − which toes the deepest, darkest lines but ends in the purest light − to the relationships between Carlisle and Esme, Emmett and Rose. It’s about familial love, the ties that bind, love that brings us back to the places we love, the people that know us, and our true selves.

Every reading of this dynamic story is a treat. It transcends itself; Edward and Bella could be any couple, even though the familiar names give it that extra appeal. Just like the first time I read it, its words had their hooks in me from the very first line.

You have been mine, all along. Give in to me.


- Blinkie by beegurl13 - 


- Tribute by LayAtHomeMom - 

Ever had that moment when you finish reading a fic and you’re left sitting there in awe, with your phone clutched to your chest and your eyes closed, savoring every word you just read, every feeling you felt, and wanting nothing more than to start all over again?

And eventually, when you do open your eyes and stop the savoring, you start the flailing… to everyone and anyone who’ll listen. I’m talking about going door-to-door, Latter-day Saints-style flailing, asking peeps if they’ve read the good word. Or even turning to your bestie and saying, “If you don’t love this, we’re not friends.”

It’s totally normal, right?

It is, and it should be completely expected when a fic speaks to you on every level like that, captivating and ruining you in the very best of ways.  

For me and so many others in our fandom, that story is We Were Here by lola-pops.

Where to even begin… Everything about this fic is absolute perfection: the storytelling, the visuals, the fantastic ensemble of characters… and the Edward. *shivers and does the sign of the cross at the thought of him*

We Were Here is a story about love and life, growing into and finding yourself and all the mistakes you make along the way, especially when you’re swept up in the peaks and pits of being in love. This is where lola-pops absolutely shines, capturing that madness and passion. But more than that, she manages to absolutely nail the flawed reality of it all, where nothing is typical or easy even when it’s meant to be. I think that’s why the entire vibe of this fic resonates with readers, because it’s so relatable. We’ve all been there, stuck in that moment of in-betweenness, where you’re trying to reconcile who you were with who you are, all the while searching for who you want to be. 

The story begins with Bella, a popular cheerleader, whose life has, up until this point, been relatively smooth sailing. But there’s an emptiness there, a void casting a shadow over her seemingly sunny existence.  And in an effort to fill that void, she cheats on her long-time boyfriend, Jasper, with Edward. Although she and Edward have known each other for years, they don’t necessarily run in the same circles. He’s more on the fringe; quiet and seemingly closed off, a beautiful, brooding boy whose words often fail him. Give him a can of Krylon spray paint, though, and he’s an open book.

When you put these two together, the chemistry’s as explosive as it is unlikely. I’m talking a white-hot smolder that could set a city on fire. But for every ounce of heat these two generate, they match it in hurt. This Edward and Bella make an absolute mess of it, and the fallout’s extraordinarily painful. But that might be one of the things that readers love most about this fic. When lola-pops cuts, she cuts deep and lets it bleed until it scabs. There’s no rush to put a band-aid on it, no tender kiss to make the pain go away. We as readers get to feel everything, and while we don’t always necessarily agree with their actions or decisions, we understand them; we’re living and breathing right along with these characters as they learn and love… and heal.

On behalf of a grateful fandom, I want to thank lola-pops for gifting us with her brilliance and her beautiful words. We Were Here has left its mark on so many of us, permanently etched onto our hearts and minds. And someday, when our time in the fandom has come and gone, those of us who love this story will look back and we’ll remember…

All that matters is that it happened.
Once we were everything.
Once we were here.


- Blinkie by beegurl13 - 


- Tribute by T.M. Franklin aka Tkegl- 

When I was first approached about writing a tribute for Wide Awake, I was excited, but then it quickly turned into full-blown anxiety. I mean, how could I do this beloved fic justice? How could I boil down the effect of a story that's impacted so many people in a few short paragraphs? That's a lot of pressure on a girl!

There are tons of reviews out there of Wide Awake − on fic sites, Goodreads, blogs − by people much better than I am at analyzing plot, character development, theme, tone − all that stuff you learned in English class. But I was tasked with writing about this mega-fic's legacy and how it affected me and the fandom. This, I figured, I could do, since Wide Awake was the first fic I ever read and is to credit (or to blame) for me being here in this crazy, awesome fandom in the first place.

Back in the olden days, I originally resisted reading Twilight. I wasn't much into horror stories, to be honest. And vampires? Come on. That had been done to death. I finally gave in after hearing all the hype and subsequently devoured all of the books in about a week.

Then I wanted more. Could there possibly be more?

I'm not sure what I searched for on Google, but the link led me to this crazy story. Edward wasn't a vampire but a foul-mouthed, cigarette-smoking badass, and instead of being sweet and innocent, Bella was abused, broken, and sleep-deprived. And baked awesome cookies. Can't forget that part.

It was entirely new to me, this idea of fanfiction − of loving a story so much you didn't want to let it go when you turned the last page,  of wanting to stay on the ride just a little bit longer. And Angstgoddess003 took us on quite a ride.

I was instantly absorbed in the story. It was still a WIP at that point, and I waited anxiously for every installment. Along the way, I discovered other people waiting right with me − other readers and (oh, my!) more writers! More stories! More fic! Lots and LOTS of fic!

I remember chatting with other readers on Twitter when I read that scene in the gymnasium. (You know the one.) My heart stopped as Bella lay curled up on the floor and Esme was all mama-bear fierceness as Edward slowly approached her, about to reveal their secret relationship. Bella's trauma was heartbreaking. Edward's knight in rather tarnished armor made us fall in love with him. We cried with the characters, laughed with them, and rooted for them.

Is it a perfect story? Well, probably not. Maybe I'm thinking back on Wide Awake with rose-colored glasses, with fond memories of my early days in the fandom when everything was fresh and new and exciting. Maybe that's why I haven't gone back and read it again. I don't want to tarnish the memory of a fic that touched me and so many others so deeply.

But it was my first fic, and when I think back on reading Wide Awake, I always smile − not only because of the story itself, but because it was a beginning for me. Because of Wide Awake, I discovered fan fiction. Because of Wide Awake, I met other readers and writers in a fandom I came to love. Because of Wide Awake, I eventually wrote my own fic and, eventually, wrote and published original fic. It seems trite to say, but it's true: Wide Awake really did change my life.

So thank you, Angstgoddess003. The fandom misses you, but thanks for leaving your awesome fics behind so we can continue to love and enjoy them!

1 comment:

  1. Well said . Wide awake was my first venture into the world of fanfic and it had me hook line and sinker

    ReplyDelete