Author Archives: Jean Beausoleil

About Jean Beausoleil

Here are my most recent posts

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Write-ins. ALL THE WRITE-INS.

Category : Event

There are several write-ins this month. “Write-ins” gatherings of writers to get together and write at a cafe/library/gathering place. Writers don’t generally write collaboratively during these events, but rather focus independently on their own projects, but may occasionally ask the group for advice. Sometimes, a host of a write-in my propose a “word war” in which the writers try to write as many words as possible within a set amount of time.

April Write-Ins: (For the Fan Fiction Initiative and Camp Nanowrimo, all writers welcome to all events)

Tuesdays, April 5th, 12th, 19th, and 26th, Green Line Locust (45th and Locusts St.s) 6:30-8:00, Jean hosts.

Sundays, April 3rd, 10th, 17th, 24th, at Panera in Jenkintown, 1-4pm, Jules (aka TheMortalPoet) hosts.

Wednesday, April 13th at Saxby’s Coffee in Haverford 5-6:30pm hosted by Jean.


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…And the Fan Fiction Initiative begins!

Thanks to all who braved the snow and drunken St. Patrick’s Day crowds for the kick-off of this year’s Fan Fiction Initiative.  Didn’t make it? Stay posted to the FFI page for updates to the resources.

You can still participate! We will have a series of Write-Ins, coordinated with Philadelphia regional Camp NaNoWriMo (in which you can set your own word count goal, for those daunted by the November 50k goal line.)

Fan Fiction Initiative/Camp Nanowrimo Write-Ins:

Tuesdays, April 5th, 12th, 19th, and 26th, Green Line Locust (45th and Locusts St.s) 6:30-8:00, Jean hosts.

Sundays, April 3rd, 10th, 17th, 24th, at Panera in Jenkintown, 1-4pm, Jules (aka TheMortalPoet) hosts.

Wednesday, April 13th at Saxby’s Coffee in Haverford 5-6:30pm hosted by Jean.


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Thanks for coming out to our Mixer!

Category : from the CAOs desk

We had a tremendous turnout to tonight’s Writers Meet Up. Thank you to all who came out, we had a great time swapping advice on the writing process, finding editors, and publishing. We’ll definitely be having another mixer, probably after the summer break. Stay tuned for announcements, and watch our google calendar.


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NaNoEdMo Begins!

Category : from the CAOs desk

Hello Writers!

We have several upcoming events for the unofficial National Novel Editing Month. At the end of November’s Nanowrimo, we asked “wrimos” (read: NaNoWriMo participants) what kind of programming they would need most for NaNoEdMo.  We heard that, while many reached their word count goals in the 30 days, they did not have a complete manuscript. Thus our NaNoEdMo programming will be useful even if you don’t have a full story. Additionally, we have “Edit-Ins” which, of course, can be used for writing. There will be word wars!
“Crafting Your Second Draft: Tools of the Trade”

Saturday, January 16th, 1pm. Philadelphia Free Library, Walnut Street West branch.

Finishing your first draft is a daunting task, and one that certainly deserves celebration, but on the road to finishing a book it’s only the first of many steps. Moving forward means locating plot holes, eliminating extra characters, and rewriting favorite scenes. In this seminar, editor JR Wesley will talk about useful tools and how to get started on your second draft, plus offer hands-on guidance about applying what’s been learned.

“Crafting Your Fiction: Villains and Antagonists”

Saturday, January 30th, 1pm. Philadelphia Free Library, Walnut Street West branch.

In any story, the hero can only be as epic as his villain. Readers get to know the protagonist through the course of the narrative, but the antagonist is mostly seen as a counterpoint, a force that clashes with the main character’s goals. Getting readers to invest in that struggle means that the antagonist needs to be fully fleshed out so they can push the protagonist to their limits, offering more difficult obstacles and a more intense struggle. Editor JR Wesley will be offering insights and tips on how to make a villain the star of his own show to take your story to the next level, and how every author can use sympathy for the devil to hook the audience and keep them reading.

Edit-Ins (Those still in the writing-phase are welcome!)

Thursdays, January 21st and 17th, 7-8:30 pm, at Green Line Cafe on the corner of Locust and S. 45th streets.


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Looking Back at 2015, Looking Forward to 2016

Category : from the CAOs desk

We at the PFWA headquarters want to get a big Thank You to all who supported us throughout our second year. We continued our major initiatives and, in response to community desire, began to host writers social and networking events. 2015 began with our National Novel Editing Month event. This year, we scaled back due to an inclement wintery season. Despite the weather, writers still showed up in droves for our Editing Extravaganza event in February, in which the editor of a local micropress gave a morning informational session on editing and the tools to use, and followed it with an engaging afternoon workshop on refocusing manuscripts and preparing for revision.

In March we ran a trial writers networking event. It was successful, with discussion ranging from how to find an editor to the pros and cons of self-publishing. We will continue to host occasional writers’ mixers in 2016.

In April we had our second annual Fan Fiction Initiative, and this year we made leaps and bounds. The event kicked off with an informational session on “What is Fan Fiction and How it is Changing the World.” With our partnership with the regional Camp NaNoWriMo, we jointly hosted ten write-ins during the 30 days for local writers to come out and write.

We broke for the summer and rejoined with Philadelphia Regional National Novel Writing Month in the autumn. During the November of writing madness, we aided in hosting over half of the 50+ NaNoWriMo events in the region.

2015 was a banner year for our programming initiatives with great speakers and educational and stimulating content. In 2016 we will continue with our Big Three programming pushes (NaNoEdMo in the winter, Fan Fiction Initiative in the Spring, and  NaNoWriMo in the fall,) and we will host occasional writers’ mixers due to the success of the pilot networking event. Also in the works is updating the resources page for local writers and continuing to add new writers groups to our community calendar.

We thank you all for your support and hope to make 2016 a great year for Philadelphia writers.

Our Most Sincere Gratitude,

Jean and Jesi

 


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Our Community Calendar is Fixed!

Category : from the CAOs desk

Hello Writers,

We’ve been working hard on compiling a calendar of events that would be of interest to you–from write-ins to poetry open-mikes and workshops. Previously, you could only find this calendar through a direct link to the google calendar, but it has now been uploaded to the “Community Calendar” page. Just click on the green calendar picture on our homepage.

Thank you for your patience as we work out more techno-kinks,
Jean


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Year in Review

Category : Uncategorized

We at the PFWA headquarters want to get a big Thank You to all who supported us in our first year. We made great progress for our inaugural year, with three large initiatives granting resources and education to local writers of Greater Philadelphia. Last January we held a “National Novel EDITING Month” with six events, including two editing workshops  on “Crafting your Second Draft” and on the popular drafting software Scrivener. During the spring, we held our first annual Fan Fiction Initiative, which was comprised of eight write-ins and a lecture on “How Fan Fiction is Changing the World.” Our final large push was partnering with the local Philadelphia chapter of National Novel Writing Month in November, during which we aided the region by hosting over twenty events. Over the year, we provided writing resources and networking opportunities to over 200 people. What a great success!

In 2015 we will be adapting to the region’s needs and evolving our programming to fit the feedback we’ve received from local writers. We will shift focus to our networking goals, connecting more writers and building on and between the existing local writing groups and institutions. We will still continue offering our resource-filled newsletters, write-ins, and social mixers, so regularly check the website to stay in the loop

Thanks again to all who helped us in our first year! Without your support, the Philadelphia Free Writers Association would not have been the wonderful organization it has grown to be. We endeavor to continue to provide you with the resources you need to grow as writers.

Our Most Sincere Gratitude,
Jean and Jesi


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From the CAO’s Desk: FFI- A Subjective History of Fan Fiction Reading

websites mentioned: ffnet, AO3, wattpad and kindle worlds.

I first started reading and writing fan fiction, as many others on ffnet (www.Fanfiction.net). The first fandom I fell into was Kingdom Hearts, a Japanese RPG videogame of which the protagonists travel from an origin of a small, isolated island to distant worlds themed after Disney films. It is important to note that my introduction to the medium was of a fandom of videogame origin, since many writers now fall into fanfic via American TV and film fandoms.  It has been my observation that fandoms and the type of media that spurns the most fanfic is constantly evolving. In 2010, I remember Final Fantasy and Kingdom Hearts both occupying spots in top ten list of amount of works on the site.

After exhausting Kingdom Hearts stories, I stayed in media of Japanese origin: investigating similar stories in Final Fantasy and then Naruto fandoms. Once I was done with those stories, I jumped into original fiction posted on ffnet’s sister site, Fictionpress.net. It would be three years until I would find another site that would offer free community published works, and only then through my association with local writers in the Nanowrimo movement.

In 2013 I learned of Archive of our Own from a fellow local community chorister who is also a Whovian and Merlin fan. The site was (and currently is) in beta (read:developmental phase) so gaining an account to post and review required (requires) an invitation. Reading, however, is open to everyone. This site is American media-centric. Through reading stories posted there, I developed a taste for Merlin, Supernatural, Suits, and, most recently, Teen Wolf and Hannibal.

There is a tangent I should mention here. One great element of fanfic is the wonderful manner in which fanworks cross pollinate not only source media, but secondary media as well. Through AO3, for example, one can read a story that has elements of a source TV show’s narrative, but also integrates songs from a fanmix on 8tracks. Someone else may make fan art for the story, which the author can also link in the notes at the beginning of the story. Reading such stories have not only inspired me to watch the shows, but also buy mp3s of the songs featured in the mixes/OSTs.

The concept of fan fiction working as marketing for source work is not going unnoticed. Authors, (noticeably Orson Scott Card,) academic institutions, and even companies are becoming increasingly aware of the positive influence of fan work on the exposure and guerilla marketing of products. Most days, I’m an unabashed Teen Wolf fan (other days, it’s a mere guilty pleasure .) MTV not only has the episodes online for free streaming, but in the same queue has multiple promotional videos, including an interview show with the actors and an informal after-show with young avid fans who show fanshared videos and offer reaction commentary on what is going on in the show.

To return to the idea of literary consumption, the production of fanfiction has gained validity on two notable publishing websites. WattPad is a community publishing site for serious, professionally minded writers. Reputably, this site receives more attention from publishers than other sites. It has recently added the genre of fanfiction among categories for selection. The second website  of note is the well-loved behemoth that is Amazon. Kindle Worlds, established in May 2013, offers fanfiction writers of certain fandoms to professionally publish and sell their work. A limited amount of fandoms are licensed by Amazon, but the idea has gained momentum and at least one other website is deliberating on copying their idea.

When I began reading fan fiction in 2010, they were mere black words on a white page website with no graphic and only the language to recommend it. In four short years, this genre has bloomed into a true mode of fanwork exchange, linking art and often music to literature and sourceworks. Moreover, it has gained credibility and significance in the literary and commercial worlds. I can’t wait to see how dynamic and empowered fans will contribute to our society’s culture next.


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From the CAO’s Desk: FFI- The Stigma against Fan Fiction

This past weekend, I was a presenter at Anime Boston. The previous day, I had attended a panel on “Hunger Games and Battle Royal,” which compared and contrasted the American YA novel and film with the Japanese film and manga. Also at the con, was a panel about Culture Convergence, in which the presenter-who is in an anthropology Doctoral program–spoke about how anime cons are becoming more inclusive of American fandoms. Walking the halls of the convention center, I saw many Queen Elsas and Doctors and Daleks.

Sunday, the final day of the con, I give my “Introduction to Fan Fiction” presentation. I frame it in my own personal narrative, including how Japanese culture strongly played a part in my integration into the fanfiction community: my first experience with fan fic was of the Kingdom Hearts variety, I never understood the appeal of Naturo until I read some fan fic of it.

I then integrate a historical overview of how fanfiction in the US started with Star Trek fanzines. The conversation continues and I also mention that I’m currently working on Sterek (Teen Wolf) and Johnlock (BBC Sherlock) fanfic. These topics stimulate a lot of audience discussion, which is great: for conventions, in which a large part of the experience is community and not necessarily pure, high-brow education, I prefer presentations to include an interactive quality, rather than just being an info dump. Unfortunately, one of the male audience participants decided to heckle “You’re at the wrong con,” when I was reacting to some of the points of US American fandom. I responded with a counter point about the con culture convergence and inclusivity. (It’s kind of nice being the one up on the stage with the mic and therefore having more power over mere attendees.)

The next day I’m on a seven and a half hour Megabus ride returning home to Philadelphia, and I have a moment for some reflection. A few thoughts come to mind: First, would this man have made such a comment if we were discussing Avengers (or another more male dominated) fandom? Secondly, I was glad I responded as constructively and assertively as I did, because, after the presentation concluded, an 11 year old Teen Wolf fan (sporting a hoodie featuring the fictional high school’s insignia) and her mother came up to the stage and greeted me. I’m glad I could indirectly show her my support argue that such a young girl did have a place at the con.

Fan fiction writers encounter push back not only IRL at cons, but also constantly on the internet. We are dismissed by other fans, other writers, members of the press, and sometimes (although less and less frequently) the creators and main players themselves.

In my humble opinion, much of this negativity stems from a discrete form of sexism. Fan fiction originated in the US from Star Trek zines, and most of the stories, then and now, are slash. Slash challenges not only heteronomality, but also the traditional gender paradigm, in that it is fiction written by women for a feminine audience and thus does not appeal to a masculine audience that is used to all literature being written by and for them.

Many would also assert that “Fan fiction is all porn.” Such a statement is categorically untrue, and is as accurate as saying that “All videos on the internet are porn.” Certainly, there are many stories that are pure literotica; however they are far from the norm.

What negativity or positivity have you encountered with fanfiction? These are my observations, but by no means a scientific study. I hope to hear some writer’s opinions!


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From the CAO’s Desk: FFI- “How did I get into Fanfic?”

To those who know me from Nanowrimo (National Novel Writing Month,) this story will be a familiar one. In February, 2010, I returned to the United States after living for 18 months abroad in Europe and Asia. As someone who was always preoccupied with picking the right words to convey a message, I had a big problem: After becoming fluent in two other languages and speaking in foreign tongues everyday, my English ability was not where it once was. I struggled with expressing basic ideas, the foreign words and grammatical structures always at the forefront of my mind.

I needed to consume English language texts in a huge and immediate way.

Thus I came upon fanfiction.net. Here was a vast collection of stories, cleanly categorized in clumps of similar narratives and characters.

I read, and read, and read. My vocabulary increased back to its previous levels, and I had fallen in love with a new medium that allowed people like me to express themselves on topics not brought up in mainstream America.

I loved fan fiction then because it got me my words back. I love it now because it helps give me, and others like me, a voice.

In fan fiction stories we can communicate and commune on points omitted in TV, videogames, film, and pop novels. For many adolescents, fan fiction gives an opportunity to discuss bullying, unfair adults’ expectations, struggling with the social pressures of growing up, the pervasive strain of school life, fallible authority figures, overcoming poor self esteem, finding the right people to surround yourself with, and how to have a healthy lifestyle. Added to these somewhat common themes, fan fiction also gives them a safe place to talk about darker truths of being a teenager: alcoholism, drug abuse, cutting, suicide, and domestic (parental and romantic partner) abuse. Teens can find peers with whom to commiserate their problems and celebrate their (often small, but powerful) personal victories.

Teens are a huge share of the fan fiction writing community. College educated 20-something women make up much of the rest. This is my demographic (my people!) and fan fiction for us, gives us a chance to take back the male dominated cannon of US American pop culture. College educated women are faced with a dilemma which reaches all across the globe: how do we balance professional ambition with our personal (domestic) lives? How does our gender affect us professionally and socially? How do we counter the idea that we are “weaker” and less worthy than our male counterparts?  With a lack of both fictional and real feminine role models who are successful both personally and professionally, we make our own.

Simply, I love fan fiction because it gives me a space to talk about problems I encounter, gives me a community of peers who are wonderfully creative and intelligent, and empowers me to grab my ahold of my agency and shape my future.

I hope over the coming weeks, the Fan Fiction Initiative will give all of you at least a bit of what I’ve come to love about fan fiction.


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