Saturday, March 30, 2002

I'd Like to Thank the Academy...

Thank you to everyone who voted for me in the ASCEML Awards! I appreciate it! I'm so honored and flattered to be in such distinguished company. Wow, I'm just, wow, speechless, breathless, um... I'd like to thank my wonderful minions (whoever and wherever they are), my betas, my make-up and wardrobe team, my wonderful and supportive computer which made writing possible, the pure vision of Gene Roddenberry - I know I'm forgetting someone - yes, yes! The creative inspiration of Brannon Braga and Ken Biller for spurring me to action - thank you, gentlemen, you raise me to new heights! Thank you to the feedbackers whose encouragement and tacit support make it a pleasure to write. (Orchestra music swells...) I'm not finished! Your two minute time limit is .... (louder orchestra music...) Okay, I'm finished. Thanks again, all. I'm really honored and flattered.

  • Erosion - 2nd place VOY Best Single Person
  • Irrational - 3rd place ENT Best Single Person, 3rd place ENT Best Story

Thursday, March 28, 2002

I found the WB. Oh how weird it is to live in a small town with flaky cable. Apparently, the second randomly ABC affiliate turns into the WB at 11 pm. But only on Thursdays. And I call it the 'randomly' ABC affiliate because it's not always ABC - sometimes it's PBS. Other times it's just really bad television. I'm wondering if CBS turns into UPN after Letterman. And unfortunately, I'm way too sleepy to stay up for "Gilmore Girls," but at least I know that it is possible to watch it here... did I mention that we still have two broadcasts of the same Univision station?
For Victoria...

Okay, so maybe not so much for Victoria, but her "why aren't you people updating?" question sparked me into action and I can't think of a better title at the moment. So, sort of for Victoria and hopefully a little amusing as she's at work, I'm at work and I guess we just need to be amused (especially since I can hear the new health product corporate broadcast down the hall... gak). Anyway...

I've started to compile my thoughts on fic about a million times in the last few hours and everything comes out whiney and y'all don't want to read me whine about anything. But I think it's this whole burnout thing going on with a slight tinge of resentment mixed with obligation. Seriously. I was thinking about it in-depth today when I really should have been updating the database and I was wondering if I owed fandom anything and if I didn't, why do I feel that I do?

On the flip side, if I walked away from fandom today, seriously would it be such a loss? And I'm asking really seriously. Because there are so many other authors out there who have new, fresh, innovative ways of looking at fic and characters and fandom needs new blood - maybe that's where the 'spirit' to write comes from - when you see someone reveal a vision that's so radically different from yours and what you've read in the past, that you're pulled back into that universe.

If I did 'go,' where would I go? This is the question de jour. It's not like I've taken up with another fandom. No, it's merely a realization that 2001 was a terrific writing year for me. Don't think I can top it. Don't know if I want to try. And so where do I go from here? Another fandom where I start all over again? Do I keep trying to get 'better' at Trek, and that's provided I was even good to begin with?

And this isn't a rant on insecurity, not at all. It's more of a, "Okay, I think I've done what I set out to do. What's next?" And that's the thing. I can't see the next thing and I envy people who do. I envy people who can jump from fandom to fandom, keep it fresh and exciting, and manage all of that canon and fanon in their heads - how do you do it? I envy people who haven't turned into BOFQs - I've been denying it up until now, but I think I am slightly BOFQ. It started when they killed Jadzia and I felt the need to resurrect her in 80 million different ways.

I don't feel like I have anyone to resurrect anymore. I don't want to have to resurrect anything. I don't want to a write a story that isn't mine. You laugh, but it happens - yes, you find yourself writing things and later, you look at it and it's like, "Oh my God, why did I do that?" And you realize you're just going with the flow because that's what is acceptable behavior. If anything, this may turn out to be the Year that Seema Officially Goes Odd Pairing or generally, just odd.

So I'm contemplating the state of things and thinking that it won't last long - these moods of mine never do. I always come back stronger than ever and I'm too attached to Trek to ever go to far away; besides, who would want me anyway?


Etiquette dinner. Lovely last night. Sponsored by the Graduate Women in Business and afterwards, I realized that I've been raised by wolves. Absolutely no question about it. For instance, I've been doing the napkin thing all wrong (proper pronouciation in these here parts 'nepken') - you actually wait until the host picks up the napkin before you do. And then there is the etiquette of putting the napkin on your lap - fold it in half, with the half pointed at you, but do this all underneath the table. Apparently, hanging one's purse on the back of a chair is a no-no as well - purses go on laps, beneath said folded napkins. Also, you don't eat those tomatos in the house salad - silly me - I thought you did, but proper etiqutte deems that you don't eat them unless you're looking for a goopy challenge.

And then there is Continental and American styles of using tableware - I'm Continental. The American way is too slow for me (cut bruschetta in half, put knife down in the proper position on the top of the plate, scoop bruschetta onto fork, eat, pick up knife and repeat...). In Continental, you're practically in the ready position at all times, with fork and knife in hands (apparently, you do not put these utensils down once you pick up - which looked kind of dopey when we were waiting for our courses and we were literally en garde with our silverware). Plus, in Continental style dining, you can stab your food, which trust me, you appreciate after trying to scoop lettuce.

Hmmm, other things. You blot your lips with your napkin. Never wipe your mouth with it. Place your silverware in the 10-4 position so that the waiters know you're done. When passing bread, first offer it to the person on your left and then take the bread yourself before passing it on to the right. Apparently, you cannot just toss salt and pepper across a table either. You have to pass it from person to person and mind you, it's very rude to season your own food with said salt and pepper if you're in mid-pass. And oh yes, if someone says "Please pass the salt," you're suppose to pass both the salt and pepper, not just the salt.

There may have been more rules, but these are the ones I remember off the top of my head. But if any of you have questions, I have a whole notebook now devoted to how to eat like a big girl.


Found the link to the Voyager Fanfic Feedback Forum in my bookmarks (on my work computer, no less!) and was poking around there and found their review of "Comfort" - which was my first ever VOY story and was beta'd by RL friend and member of my writing group, Rebecca. Weird. Hadn't thought about that story literally since it was posted to ASC. More of one of those "Ohmigod, I can't believe I wrote that..." But then I feel that way about 85 percent of my stories. But the review cheered me greatly though, even if it is two years old. I wish those folks were still around. As far as honest reviews, they were the best site that came around, but unfortunately, they disappeared way too quickly.Tough job though, that review business. I can't even read the fic I want to read, let alone review every VOY fic posted to ASC - yes, that project did have burnout written all over it. But still, it was nice while it lasted...

Wednesday, March 27, 2002

Got flamed in my guestbook today. Ah well. Along with the flame in my comments from a week or so ago, I think I'll take that as proof of 'making it.' Maybe.

Too tired to think tonight, but will tell y'all about the etiquette dinner tomorrow.

Tuesday, March 26, 2002

Bummed. Shouldn't be, but I am. Funky funk funk. And I can't even tell y'all why. I should console myself that ethics are good, that you should always Do the Right Thing, even if it screws you. So why does Doing the Right Thing - at least in this particular instance - make me feel just so... bummed?
My school email account is like the black hole of email accounts. Seriously. I just responded to some poor undergrad who asked *last* week for tutoring. I barely acknowledged the reminder to turn my student worker forms by *this* Friday, I missed the deadline for the etiquette dinner sign-up, but thankfully I'm friends with the organizers, so it's all good. Also managed to miss the email on mentors and what we're supposed to be doing. Yes, indeed, that account is like a black hole - email me there, and I'll open it, but nothing will ever be retained, nor will I ever do anything with the information you send me. Strange how that is...

Also, note to self: Never parody a professor in email and send it to the class distribution list. They always find out. But still, P, brilliant email. Just wait next time until final grades are in ;-)

Monday, March 25, 2002

Believe It or Not

A Fugue in Blue Minor: Cantata is up. Whew. My gratitude to Liz Logan for hand-holding, general support and betas. Also, mucho gracias to Sara for pointing out the contradictions and managing to track down missing words with a diligence that would make the NYPD proud. Liz has also compiled a timeline of Lines in the Sand for those of you who need a quick refresher but don't want to slog through 800k again. Hope you enjoy. "Interludes", a short story that takes place directly after this one, should be up by mid-April. Thanks so much for your patience. I hope the story is worth the 15-month wait.

Saturday, March 23, 2002

Congratulations to Victoria for getting inducted into the CMFAA's Hall of Fame. I don't really know what that is, but it sounds really, really cool and way to go, Victoria!

What fic writers do with their spare time...

Lori and I spent an obnoxious amount of time at this site today. We were greatly amused.

For instance, don't you just want to buy this book based on the opening paragraph of its summary? NECESSITY-DEMAND is a dual mode dependant function and this needs to be directed with curiosity. In order to sustain the Curiosity, an index for progress has to be identified as a directed beam triangular structure. This structure, basically, is the backbone for Intellectual Growth. Many western countries have shown considerable physical progress as an Index through integration of Human Resources endowed with basic intelligence.

You can read ebooks by talented authors such as: Jeff went on to set sales and marketing records as a sales associate and later as the Vice President for Target Marketing, Inc. by day, while at the same time becoming the youngest certified sales instructor internationally for Dale Carnegie® Seminars by age 27 at night. In 1991, after experiencing down-sizing for the second time, he started his own publishing, training and organizational development firm.

We also learned that: Blood is a wonderful fluid. From it, we give life and a constant cleansing of our bodies. Almost everyone knows that the human body must have certain basic elements to survive, vitamins and minerals that we usually find in our daily food. This book, btw, was written by a "Self retired Truck Driver."

Go, visit, have fun.

Thursday, March 21, 2002

So You're A Star Trek Fan... by E. Michelle Logan, aka Liz the Intrepid Beta... Scarily I can answer 'yes' to many of these.

Regarding the Intrepid Beta, we talked tonight. My plot hole in "Fugue" is not that obnoxious. She doesn't think it needs to be reworked because it makes sense given what has happened in "Lines in the Sand". So I feel better, but I may add a little more to the story in order to "fill" it out more and explain that little plot hole a little more. "Fugue" is back on. But whew, I was sooo afraid that she would make me go back to the drawing board (and she would, you know, she really would...) especially since she's now working on the academic version of "Lines in the Sand" and looking at it very closely...

I also want to mention that this spring makes four years since the Intrepid Beta and I started working together. I remember being so excited when she emailed me years ago and said that despite being a J/J writer, she did like some of my W/D stuff - and believe me, back then, that was praise of titanic proportions.

Anyway, so she was my first beta ever and one of the bravest I've encountered - she's been with me through the good and bad (especially the bad, for those of you who did not know me back in '97, I put out some horrendous stuff and one of those stories, "Demons," is still banned from ever being posted). Anyway, "Fugue" is for Liz, for saving me so many times from making a complete and utter fool of myself...

Now I'm getting all weepy just thinking about it...

I wish Beta Reader Appreciation Day would come back so I can tell my betas just how much I appreciate them. They are wonderful. So publicly, I'm thanking the following people for putting up with me for the last year and offering their kind comments and much support, not to mention gently suggesting when I was going completely the wrong way: Liz the Intrepid Beta, Rocky, Monica, Stace, Bjorn, Rob Morris, Illaria, Annie M and Kim. Mucho gracias.
I'm realizing every day that the Blog World isn't that nice or that friendly. Makes me very, very grateful for the nice little blog circle we've got going here - for some reason, it feels normal, like water-cooler talk, rather than some of the viciousness I've seen in some blogs, from either the blogger or the commentators. I guess when you put your blog out there, you're giving free reign to the world in general to talk back to you - which makes me question what our responsibilities as bloggers really are.

To be honest, I got my blog over a year ago because my brother recommended it and I couldn't fathom what I'd do with it. But it was one of those brother-sister bonding moments as he showed me how to set it up, so I did it. I honestly didn't think anyone would read it, but now my stats show something different. And so yes, I do censor myself to an extent because of that awareness. I really don't want to hear negative comments here - I really don't. I get it enough in real life. I see the blog as a way of occasionally venting, but mostly to document quirky things in life or my occasional thoughts on fandom. In the end, this is all about me, and maybe that's egotistical, but hey - blogging is inherently that. Why would we put these things out there if we didn't want other people to know what we thought?

I am, however, slightly concerned about Lori and her Russian mafia thing though.
Thoughts on an idle afternoon

This is Seema playing hooky from work because she cannot stand the sight of another database after working for many hours on various databases last night

I'm debating whether to edit "Fugue in Blue Minor" today or to go out. I've been doing this weird thing where I started at the end of the story and worked my way back. Or rather, I used the last chunk of beta I received to edit the last quarter of the story before tackling the first 3/4s of the fic. Anyway, the reason why there's an issue is because I found a plot hole big enough to fly the Defiant through. Or Voyager. Starship of your choice. Maybe it's not a huge plot hole, but it's definitely one that wouldn't stand up to much scrutiny. I already did "Lines in the Sand" on a rather flimsy premise - do I want to do that again now?

Anyway, I want to finish this story already! It's been lingering on my hard drive since a year ago February and already, I feel like I'm losing the 'writing style' of a year ago. Theoretically, I could start on a different writing style and see what happens there, but not on a story that is already pretty much finished.

At the same time, it's Thursday afternoon and I literally spent my entire day on campus yesterday, including six hours in the windowless computer lab, helping fellow classmates get their database project together. The sun is out, the skies are blue, and it's a lovely day in BCS. So I think that pretty much makes my decision for me.


Why oh why won't Yahoo deliver my email to me? Now there's a rumor that it will get rid of POP email access - which is a good thing to know before I leave for France so I can figure out an alternative email address for those of you who email to my POP account.


Story request if anyone knows of a story like this or feels the need to write one - blame Yvonne for putting the thought into my head. An "Endgame" coda basically where canon is left exactly the way it ends in "Endgame." Meaning, C/7 stay together, Tuvok doesn't go crazy etc. I've read plenty of 'revised' endings but I'm interested to see if anyone actually takes on the challenge of leaving things as the status quo. And if so, there will be at least one reader...

Wednesday, March 20, 2002

Help! I'm stuck in the computer lab and I can't get out!

Tuesday, March 19, 2002

Is anyone else really disturbed this casting for the new "Little House on the Prairie" movies. From left to right, that's Pa, Ma, Laura and Almanzo. Click the 'back' button to see other pictures from this movie. I just saw the sequel on Sunday night and was mortified by the idea that Laura could have anything but brown hair. And Mary has (gasp!) red hair in the film. What strange, weird universe is this anyway? Anyone else see this movie Sunday evening?
My company has an updated jingle. I've been hearing it for the last 10 minutes on the live corporate broadcast. It's kind of catchy in a bubble-gum pop type way. Listen for it on a television or radio station near you...

The controversy over the finance midterm hit the fan today. The basic story is that a group of enterprising students managed to get a copy of last year's midterm and answers, which they then proceeded to use as a study guide. This year, the midterm was almost exactly the same as the previous year's, which as you might guess, gave some people a rather unfair advantage. They basically had the answers even before they walked into the room. I wasn't even aware of the existence of this exam until about 45 minutes before the test started and another female classmate says that she finds it significant that none of the females in the class received a copy of this exam. Anyway, the professor found out - it was obvious, he said, that some people had an unfair advantage over others. He even went as far as to say that he could tell which students had had a copy of the exam versus those who hadn't. As a result, the curve was completely shattered and those who got As by having the midterm from last year basically screwed the rest of us - thanks, guys.

So what does the professor do? He gave us all 100s on the exam. Every single one of us gets 100 regardless of how we actually did. Now this might sound wonderful to y'all, but it really sucks as a solution - it means that everything is riding on the final; the grades are relative. The top twenty percent get As, everyone else gets Bs and Cs. So even if he gave the entire class 50s, it makes no difference - we're at the same point we were before the midterm.

Anyway, this leads into my epiphany. I was planning on a May 2003 graduation, but I'm starting to think that I lack staying power. I've done really well so far in the midterms (the bogus grade in finance notwithstanding), but I'm not enjoying myself anymore. The team problems, the petty politics, the competitive nature - not for me. So I'm thinking about a December graduation now. I'm already getting 6 credits by going to France and I'll be back well before the second summer session begins - I can pick up another 6 then and finish off in December by taking 12 credits that semester (which is nothing compared to the 16 I have now). Which means I can get back to my fulltime job in six months rather than in one year. Opportunity costs, you see - I have to think of what I'm losing every month I stay here, which is basically 50 percent of my income, not to mention my sanity (though my brother already thinks I'm nuts). The sooner I get back to RL, the better.

Monday, March 18, 2002

The guy upstairs is breaking up with his girlfriend. He actually lives diagonally upstairs from me, but for some reason, they feel the need to break-up on the stairs. Or rather, she does. She has been running up and down the stairs for the last hour, banging on the door, screaming, "I'm talking to you!" His response: "I told you to get out." As you can see, it's a real high brow argument here. Every now and then, she yelps and I can't help but wonder if I need to call the police. Though, truth be told, she sounds like the more violent person, but still, I have this vague horror of one of these two doing something stupid to the other.

Once again, miss my quiet house, my quiet neighborhood...

Sunday, March 17, 2002

Big News!

Okay, maybe not big news to you people, but we have a new big grocery store in BCS! Whoohoo... it's lovely. I meant to stop just to get coffee and sugar, but instead, ended up getting a whole bunch of things. Best part of this store? The vegetarian and natural organic section - lovely to be able to be in a section of a store where I don't have to check the labels of each and every thing I take off the shelf. They even have Ben & Jerry's ice-cream and of course, I had to indulge and get a pint (coffee heathbar crunch, for those of you who love those kinds of details). Of course, the parking lot of death has simply moved from there to here, but for a grocery store this lovely, I'm willing to brave it.

Now, my dear friends, off to do more homework (see what happens when you slack off for a week?) with a hope of spending an hour of "Fugue" tonight, whipping it into shape so that it will see daylight before April. I have, however, uploaded tiny spoilers for those of you curious.

Saturday, March 16, 2002

Ironing, my friends, is an evil thing. We can send a man to the moon but we cannot get pants to iron themselves to that the creases fall perfectly (I'm very jealous of people with perfect creases in their clothes - I suspect they buy them like that, wear it once, and then throw it away). I'm debating how big a faux pas it will be to show up at a baby shower with slightly wrinkled khakis on - granted, no VPs will be around, so this is a Good Thing - but I don't want to look so studenty either in front of my coworkers. And then I'm hoping perhaps my mere presence will make everyone ignore the slight wrinkles - since it did take 2 hours to drive here, right? On the other hand, I am thinking way too much about this and I probably should just wear a dress.

Friday, March 15, 2002

Web Design Thoughts

Rant ahead...

There are 'cool' designs for websites and then there are, well, not so cool website designs. The most recent 'fad' (sorry, couldn't come up with a better word) is the splash page phenomena featuring lovely graphics (which also hog bandwidth) and then in microscopic print below the pictures are words that could be links or tell you what the site works best with (IE versus Netscape). Pretty pages, yes, but slightly annoying because of the extra click ("Enter") and the fancy graphics. Then there are the sites with the mystery meat navigation - I stumbled across one the other day where all the links were numbers - that's right, click on '1' and you end up on a fanfic page, '2' gives you a brief bio of the author. Cute and original bet gets old really fast when you are stumbling around endlessly looking for one story in particular.

So my tips on web design (fwiw):

  • Keep it simple - don't overdo it with graphics because Photoshop 6x just showed up (yes, I know how cool Photoshop 6 is - I've lost hours of my life playing with this, doing graphic manipulations).
  • White backgrounds are simple and easy to read - nice for large amounts of text. Under no circumstances should you use something you would wrap a gift in as a background. Especially as a background for fic.
  • Blinking, spinning, revolving things - not necessary. IE has deprecated the blinking text as a built-in safety for designers who insist on using this tag.
  • Directories are a very Good Thing. For you, not necessarily for the end user. Especially if your site gets enormous. It will make life easier for you.
  • No splash pages, please. They really add nothing of value, I'm sorry to say, and just necessitates extra clicking. Especially if they don't even tell you what the site is about and merely put up some lovely graphics (and I have to say, I am amazed by the talent putting out manipulations). Also, remember some people connect still at 26.4 - yes, slow as a snail, but it does happen (especially in areas where telephone lines have yet to be upgraded).
  • Make your links understandable. No mystery meat navigation. Add text boxes if you must, but please make it clear where things are. Links called "About Me" are just right - descriptive etc. Links called "1" tell the user absolutely nothing. On a related note, graphic links are not good. Again, bandwidth issues and if the user has turned off images, once again, you've got mystery meat navigation. If using graphics for links, make sure you have text alternatives.
  • Frames. Simple. Don't use them. Don't 'frame' someone else. If you get framed, there's a nice little piece of javascript you can use to avoid that in the future. But in general, easy to update, but really not fun to deal with it if you're the clicking-through person.
  • You should be able to reach every page in your site in no more than 3 clicks. Can you do it? Make sure navigation is provided on every page.
  • Index pages are very nice, as are sitemaps, when you have large volumes of material on your site. The less scrolling down, the better. People don't tend to like to use the 'page down' button if they can help it - it's nice when everything can be seen on one screen. BTW, this doesn't apply to fanfic - it's nice to break up a story into chunks of about 30-45k - but not necessary.

That's it. For today. But I may just revisit this topic in the future. You have been warned.
Finished up my taxes today. Whoohoo, for once, I'm filing before April 15. And that lifetime education credit is a beautiful thing - thank you, Bill Clinton.

Thursday, March 14, 2002

Blog Round-Up One

Christine asked, "How do you know if your writing is any good?"

Good question and I don't know. Theoretically, I could depend on my FB, but FB is another beast in itself - the good, the bad, the boffo, at some point they all get FB. I could listen to my mother who believes it's all good or to my friend Tracy who insists that the novel is worthwhile.

But I kind of think that Christine hit on something when she said that 'good' just might mean better than reading the phone book (or even the newspaper, for that matter - do you know how many typos there are in a typical daily paper? ACK!). Because people also think John Grisham is a good writer and Mary Higgins Clark sells way more books that Jhumpa Lahiri ever will. Which goes to prove that 'good' is all in the eyes of the beholder.

All I know is that the stories I don't consider my best work elicit the most FB, strangely and perversely enough. I see major flaws in Among Bluebonnets, just to name one story that got a lot of positive FB. But then stories like Surfacing, which I adore, virtually went unnoticed.

In the end, I think 'good' is defined as what captures the reader's interest, in terms of storylines and plotting and the characters the stories focus on. "Among Bluebonnets" got a lot of attention because it was an early Janeway and Chakotay friendship story, but in my mind, the story dealt with two of Chakotay's major friendships - B'Elanna and Kathryn. I never saw it solely as a J&C story, but none of my FB even mentioned the earlier chunk of C&T or that that friendship was even important; people were eager for a J&C story and this one fit the bill perfectly, even though there was much more going on. Hence, was it good? I don't know - I think it requires a little revision, but I don't think it was bad. It just goes to prove that the writer's intent isn't always properly interpretated (can you imagine what Emily Bronte must be thinking of modern day interpretation of "Wuthering Heights"? I can only imagine her marching her into a classroom, exclaiming, "You all have it wrong!") nor is FB necessarily a gauge of what's 'good' - only that at some point in time, what you wrote appealed greatly to a particular audience for a particular reason.

Sorry, Christine, that I couldn't answer your question, but for what it's worth, I thought "Beautiful People" was an excellent, well-written story - one that was truly 'good writing.'
They review Trek profic, including the SNW volumes. Not for the faint of heart, decidedly - especially the SNW reviews, but I appreciated the honesty, especially since I can't disagree with a lot of what they have to say here (admittedly, one of the things that is holding me back from entering SNW - but that might change this year. We'll see). Looks like they also review other profic books including the "Day of Honor" series - I have the TNG and DS9 volumes of this series (both good, but the TNG one is very gory), got bored with the VOY one in the bookstore (the actual episode is better than buying the book) - and early reviews of TOS books. Still looking for a site for more up to date reviews on books other than the "Avatar" series. Know any?

Wednesday, March 13, 2002

Anyone know of a free, web-based newsgroup service? is temporarily discontinued and Google has once again accused me of being a spammer. I only need access for about 3 minutes - and this isn't a problem when I'm using my own computer with an ISP that has relatively decent NG service, but as fate has it, I'm about 2 hours away from my computer and I still have three ASC Award digests to post before midnight (which is not long enough for Google to forgive me for posting 10 Award digests to this point). Ah, the days of Deja, when we were all free to post endlessly...

And while I'm on the subject, why can someone post a message asking for funds for an orphanage in Russia to ASC while me, with a genuine ASC mission in life, is accused of spamming the NG? Inquiring minds need - want - to know!

Tuesday, March 12, 2002

The WDFA somehow has gotten itself listed on a porn site. I only know this because I got an email from said porn site's webmaster today complaining about the lack of traffic coming from the WDFA. Um, fanfic? Porn? No, not the same thing. And this webmaster person was very huffy, saying if I didn't add a link back, I would lose my 70,000 hits a day to the WDFA from its site - um, okay, thanks, but 70,000 hits a day? Surely you jest. I think the WDFA is doing beautifully with approximately 25 a day. Weird the favours people think they are doing for you. But it certainly explains why so much of the content in my wdfa email addy is, well, x-rated and just generally Bad For Seema.

That wdfa email address has been a lot of trouble - it somehow got listed on an Arabic matrimonial site at some point - endless source of amusement for JEWEL, btw, as I received countless proposals from men addressing me as "Dear Wdfa" - sometimes in broken English, sometimes in gibberish (ie Arabic script that didn't come over properly in my browser). Five or six of these a day - go figure. And most of them were along the lines of: "My name is Mohammad. I am well-educated. I am looking for a bride. Please write me." And what amused me greatly was that wdfa email address is generic - it stands for Worf Dax Fanfic Archive - nothing else and how they decide that I was female and Arabic is very interesting. I did get the emails to stop when a nice gentleman with perfect English emailed me and I took the chance to explain the situation to him. He apparently wrote to the site where my email address was listed and I've not gotten any proposals since then. Nice man, that one.

That email address is quite the adventure, I have to say.
Finally got to watch "Silent Enemy" last night - mucho gracias to the little brother who has faithfully taped "Enterprise" for me since last November. And for bonus points, he also got me the Madonna concert on HBO (on his own, no less!) and "Galaxy Quest."

What did I think of "Silent Enemy"? It was decent - characters still haven't grown on me and I don't feel the need to explore their motivations. Yet. Spoilers (highlight to read): It was a little cheesy that the big powerful ship was destroyed by itty, bitty Enterprise - and while I can extrapolate why the skeleton-like aliens were running around Enterprise, I still don't quite get the point - other than a reason for Enterprise to get their own guns. Did like Archer biting down his pride in order to summon the Vulcan High Council and loved Trip's comment: "Are your ears turning pointy?" Generally a good episode though and I'm a little disappointed, because the quality of "Enterprise" shows what B&B could have done with "Voyager" if they had even cared just a tiny bit about that show. Just a little bit of care would have given us the ending we'd want... (and no, I didn't want J/C to run off happily into the sunset hand in hand, but I would have liked to see the whole group get some well-needed counseling...)

Now, off to review my memory on She Who Is TNG...

Monday, March 11, 2002

Sugar and Spice, and Everything Nice

Made my quarterly trip to Babies R Us today and no matter how many times I go, the store continues to baffle me. When I went for Shelby's baby last fall, I spent an inordinate time examining pacifiers. There were pacifiers with Pooh motifs and glow-in-the-dark pacifiers (so you could, um, find them in the dark?) and other pacifiers with lots and lots of strange features. In the end, I skipped the pacifiers and went with the low-tech sippy cup and spoonware Shelby wanted. Thanks to the fact that my relatives and coworkers keep having children, I'm really not an innocent to Babies R Us shopper, but who knew babies needed so much stuff? And how come some of it is more high-tech than my car?

A trio of women were staring at a wide assortment of humidifers and finally, one of them just grabbed one of the shelf. Her friend asked if she was sure this was the right humidifier and the other woman promptly said, "It better be because this is the one they're getting. I can't spend my entire day in this aisle." Amen, Sister.

This time I grabbed a saleswoman and had her take me around the store. My days of endlessly walking around Babies R Us are officially done. Everyone's getting a pacifier from now on.

Sunday, March 10, 2002

Watched the "9/11" special today on CBS - talk about raw. I mean, really raw. I think what got me was when I heard this loud crashing - several times, as a matter of fact, and the narrator matter-of-factly said every one of those crashes was a body - a person falling out of a building. And he said, "how horrible must it be up there that your best option is to jump?" And all through the background, even over that swollen, swelling music CBS insisted on playing throughout, you could hear the crashes.

And of course, I started to think. Because anyone who knows me in RL knows that I'm an absolute wimp. I'll do most anything for anyone, but never have I had to do anything where the possibility of death was there. And those fire fighters, they kept running up those stairs, even as the debris was falling around them and the ground was shaking. I think it would be stupid to say that they weren't afraid. Of course they were. But they kept going. There are so many people like that - who will do anything for anyone, even if they die in the process.

I wonder if I would be brave like that. Or maybe it's not bravery, but rather the conviction that you have to do good. And being good is so hard in regular times, that we often let it go, don't pay attention and whether we were good that day or not makes no difference - but in extraordinary times, we bestow the title of 'hero' on those who refuse to move until they have done good.

So my question is, why do we wait until we're tested? Why not just do it now? I don't mean run into a burning building or performing CPR on people - but I mean, be genuinely good people? Don't ask me to define good - well, I probably could in the personna of my best friend from undergrad who is probably one of the most good people I know out there - and she makes it look so easy! So considerate, so kind, so genuine, so willing to help out - and I wonder how is it so easy for her when it is so hard for me? Are people just born 'good' or is it something you have to work at? Please tell me you have to work at it because every day and if you don't have to, what is your secret?

Friday, March 08, 2002

Updates Galore!

Zendom has updated with its latest articles - our recs for rare & unusual pairings from Buffy the Vampire Slayer to X-Men. Looking for something to read? Start here!

Also, new fic, Forbidden Love, inspired by Operations Management and well, a comment Jemima made, is now up.

Addendum to the Stages of Fandom

I forgot to mention this one: The Busy Bee stage. Put that right after Innocence and Bliss. What is this stage, you ask? This is the one where you're so overwhelmed by the wonder that is fandom and the desire to "do right", you end up volunteering for every awards/archive/beta/mentoring list around. You want to do everything and you're determined to come up with new and more creative ways of archiving every fic ever written in your fandom of choice. You have energy, enthusiasm, and you're surrounded by great friends. BTW, this "energy and enthusiasm" only lasts a few months - burnout follows very quickly after you archive fic 1,001 (archivists - ye knew of what I speaketh) and you go on searching for a replacement - who never, ever volunteers. You also get irritated with your email about people complaining about disclaimers, ratings, categorization, etc. You had it and you step down (unless you're thick-skulled like me, who is still endlessly archiving at the wdfa, and eventually the readers who were whining about your archiving abilities earlier are now whining about the fact no one ever updates this archive. This stage leads beautifully into the next stage, the Wall.

Or more precisely: that would be 10 accounting free days!

Whoo hoo!

Thursday, March 07, 2002

The Stages of Fandom

So I was thinking about this whole concept of getting burned-out by fandom or alternately, getting burned by fandom. The former makes a lot of sense to me - been there, done that, still here, weirdly enough - but the second one, I've never been quite sure of. But more on these in a moment. First, the stages of fandom (with my apologies to Victoria for the second person POV :-)).

First comes the Thrill of discovery. You get on the Internet, type in "Mulder, Scully, love" and voila - you find a whole gaggle of 'shippers who are interested in these two getting together just like you are. So happiness. You read every single story in the MSR Archive, not to mention the MSM Archive. And you are happy. Very deliriously happy.

The Discovery of the Diva stage then occurs. You figure out who the big names in fandom are and you camp out at their sites. You visit multiple times a day in hopes of finding a new story to savour. You'd bring a sleeping bag if you could.

Then comes the My Turn! stage. You've been reading, maybe feedbacking, but mostly reading. You've liked the majority of the stories you've read but there's something missing. So you decide to try it yourself. You write a fic. Hopefully, your first fic is marvelously written and not at all embarassing (unlike many of us who are hoping that no one ever reads our first fics ever again). You're still new to fandom and even though you've seen the term 'beta reader' around, you're unsure of how to get one of these strange entities.

You're now at the Newbie stage. Self-explanatory. You've read your story a million times, edited it just right and it's starting to look a little better to you - but you're not entirely sure. You consider asking one of the Divas to help you out, but you figure, why would they bother with you? You've got this image of them being surrounded by a court of fawning fans (as envisioned by their Who's Who guide in their author's notes) and you decide to leave them alone and rely on your spellchecker and Bill Gates' version of grammar.

Once you've corrected your story to the best of your ability, you end up at the Nail Biting stage. Will someone read your story? Will they like it? Will they hate it? Will you get flamed? Will it get ignored? You feel like you've just left your child in the deep, dark woods. You check your email obsessively - 80 times a day - in the hopes that some redemption will show up. If you're lucky, yes, you get noticed, but the Magic Eight Balls says that all signs usually point to no.

But you decide that you like this fanfic writing thing. So you Keep At It and write more stories. Eventually, someone writes. They are helpful. You adopt them immediately as a beta reader. If you're lucky, they stick around and help you develop more coherence to your writing, generate ideas and generally provide companionship in the Big Scary World of Fandom. But you have a beta reader. That's a sign of almost beginning to make it - really. Don't y'all remember how hard it was to find a beta who would stick around for more than two paragraphs?

You're still lost in the Innocence and Bliss of fandom. Your stories generate some FB, not quite on the scale of the Divas - after all, they took years to get to where they are, didn't they? - but you're doing quite well. You have joined 30 to 40 mailing lists and you read every single story every posted and have something to say about 85 percent of them.

That's when you hit the Wall. You've been prolific, churning out 5 stories a week and all of sudden, slam! There's that wall. The muse is gone and not even chocolate can entice her back. So you read your FB, reread old stories and shudder at the mistakes, characterizations etc and compliment yourself on how much better you've gotten. You don't read as many stories now, even though you have all the good intentions to, but you realize you've gotten more discerning as a reader. However, the one good thing you've got going for you at this stage is a close circle of friends who all think along the same lines as you. You find yourself mentioned in author's notes in that same breathless manner that you once envied months ago when you were a Newbie to fandom. You wonder if you have made it.

Now, you've got two choices here, the Wall stage can turn into the Burn Out stage, where you feel that you've done all you can for this fandom and you want to leave at the top of your game or you can Mentor others into fandom. There could be other options, but these are the two I've come up with. Burnout implies that you walk away and don't come back for a while or at all. Mentor means you lurk, occasionally write, and be generally supportive of the fandom which was once so supportive of you.

From the Mentor stage, you either get back into the swing of writing again, doing the 5 stories a week thing, or you slowly fade away - either lured by the seductiveness of another fandom or the pesky interferences of Real Life. BTW, conversion to Diva can happen at any time, but is most likely to happen around the Mentor stage.

From the Burn Out stage, you either leave fanfic writing entirely, slamming the door behind you and going to eat chocolate, or you discover pretty new fandoms where you repeat all of these stages over again, ad nauseaum.

There's also a stage here that I neglected to mention - the Burned By Fandom stage. That could happen anytime between the Innocence and Bliss and the Wall. I don't know much about this stage, but apparently it happens that there are huge keruffles in fandom and everyone disperses to their separate corners to lick their wounds. I sincerely hope this doesn't happen to you. But this is an optional stage.

Did I miss any?

I Surrender

The plumber has officially won. I have responded to conversations that have not happened yet and I've voted for the Golden O's before the ballots were officially declared open. How can this be possible, you ask? Ah, it's the strange, twisted world of Yahoogroups, that's what it is. Join a list and you too can enjoy this strange parallel universe as well.

All right, I'm so going to bed now...

Wednesday, March 06, 2002

Killing Time

Exactly one hour to go to exam number 4 and theoretically, I ought to be doing something other than checking email. Mind you, I've only been online for about 9 minutes - which isn't that much in the scheme of things and how much can one possibly review in 9 minutes? Anyway, I was thinking that the blogs weave a tangled web. I bounce around from blog to blog, see familiar names, see new ones. Along the way, I've come across discussions about BNF/divas (what are they? how do you become one? Do you want to be one? What is the negative connotations?) and then there are so many meta discussions that my head absolutely swims and I've got to go sit by the pool and have a strawberry margarita. It's almost as if fandom has entered a brand new phase: we spend a lot of talking about why we do what we're doing and what makes it good, what makes it bad, what could be better.

We're looking for answers. Why didn't my absolutely wonderful story get FB? Why doesn't my story win a contest, when, if nothing else, its techniquality ranked above the rest of the entrants? Why is someone a BNF and someone else not? How do you end up in a clique? Does an award matter when it's really just friends voting for friends? Should you vote for yourself in a contest? Are there ethics in fanfic? Should underage kids be reading slash or writing it for that matter? Do disclaimers really CYA or does it just make us feel better? Does POV matter? Why do so many women writers write slash? Why fluff? Why angst? Why PWP? Why write? Research or not research? How do we keep the newbies sticking around? How do I get over being a BOFQ? Edit or not edit? How do I find a beta reader who will stick around for any length of time? Do I even need a beta? Why oh why won't people use a beta? etc.

And so you see, the questions go on forever and then you end up in this fascinating loop of people attempting to answer these questions and their thoughts inadvertantly spawn more thoughts and new questions. Which leads to an entire new round of blog entries with more and more people jumping into the fray and offering their two cents and suddenly your blog rounds have grown from the 5 or 6 per day (multiple times a day) to 40 or 50 because you keep clicking because every meta blog has to refer to its predecessor and if you want to know what's going on, you click - adding yet more to the burden of fic taxes, because theoretically, if you're in fandom, you've got to know what all of the BNFs are saying and what the readers are saying; it's kind of like watching the McNeil Lehrer newshour.

The one positive thing is that the meta discussions are multi-fandom - which means you start talking to people you wouldn't have necessarily otherwise. But I also wonder if all of this meta talk also keeps us from what we do best - reading and writing (and of course, feedbacking) fanfic?

Tuesday, March 05, 2002


The best part of reading the WSJ right now is to see the full page ads run by Carly Fiorina and Walter Hewlett. It doesn't get anymore down and dirty than this. Today, Hewlett said that "HP doesn't need Compaq." Yesterday, Fiorina claimed that not merging would lead to HP's "retreat" from the market. Last week, Fiorina said something about innovation and Hewlett said something about risking the future of a strong company on a company weakend by the increasingly commoditization of the market. And so it goes...

Beautiful work, people, of putting those shareholder dollars to work. At least the lawyers aren't complainin'. I will be sad when the proxy does actually happen, as these ads are what I look forward to in my WSJ. I bet the WSJ will be sad too, when they lose this daily source of income (my college newspaper, with a circulation of 25,000 charged $1,000 for a full page ad - can you imagine what a full-page in the WSJ costs?).

Monday, March 04, 2002

Addendum to the Below

My brother wants y'all to know that he is also among those that I need to explain myself to. If I ever feel the need to explain myself, that is. But then again, my brother is almost a foot taller than me. So I guess, he could probably get anything out of me that he wanted too.

He also says no one visits his blog so if you're bored, go visit and if you want to make him really nuts (please do), send him an email to let him know you stopped by and that he needs to install comments.

My work here is done.
Okay, so I had this whole rant up earlier and then my computer froze (dang ME!) before I could publish it - and in retrospect, it was probably a good thing as I was in a horrificly bad mood and I admit, some of my rants were directed in one particular direction.

However, I took those particular thoughts off to a private email and life is better now. I'm still in a bad mood - beware - but thanks to sympathy from a good friend who has "been there, done there," I'm a little more calm. But not much. But I'd like to make some things absolutely crystal clear so that there is absolutely no doubt in anyone's head about where I stand on certain things:

  • I write fanfic because I enjoy it. When will I stop? When I stop enjoying it. I don't need any more justification than that and I certainly don't need to answer to anyone about my love of fanfic; let's put it this way, my mother is okay with it (well, I'm not on drugs...) and she and my father are the only people I ever have to explain myself to.
  • Don't send me your work for editing before using spellcheck. Actually, don't send me your work for editing before asking me first. I already have a group of people who I edit for and they take priority. I hate to disappoint you, so please ask first before sending me a story with nothing more than your name on it. Thanks.
  • I don't take submissions, I don't pay for submissions, and no, I can't help you get published. Sorry and good luck.
  • Thanks for letting me know about your school project on Henry VIII. Yes, I know it's a fascinating subject and Anne Boleyn was certainly an interesting woman for her time, but I think you'd enjoy it more if you do the research yourself. Good luck.
  • Thanks for letting me know you have a new story up. I hope to get to it soon, but as some people know, my "to read" list is extremely long. I will take a look at it, but unfortunately, not today.
  • Yes, I'm interested in DSL, but please understand when I tell you that I cannot afford it right now. Don't try to sell me a long-distance plan or an international calling plan. I only have one friend internationally so I can't justify the expense. But thanks for asking.
  • There's no such thing as a free lunch. Ever. I send you to Jemima's article on fic taxes for further clarification. You get what you pay for and the internet is a prime example of that adage.
  • Unless I say you can call me something else, call me Seema. You'd better have known me for a really, really long time - say a minimum of 15 years - before you can even start thinking about giving me a nickname. And right now, there are only 3 people who are not family who qualify to call me something other than Seema.
  • Thanks for the note about how you think my exclusion of erotica/pornography on my site is degrading to the art. I understand your concerns, but we obviously have very different ideas of what art is. And the answer is still: no.
  • Unless you've walked a mile in someone's shoes, don't criticize. And actually, while I'm on the subject, got a problem? Don't talk to me unless you've got a solution. If you're a friend, ignore this rule - it doesn't apply to you.

I think that's all I have for today, but I reserve the right to add to this list at another time. Hmph.

Saturday, March 02, 2002

Site updates

Forgot to mention: both this site and WDFA have been updated.
Oh My Kingdom for Water!

The water has been turned off in my apartment since I got up this morning. That means it's now 10 after 10 and I woke up at 8:30 and NO WATER!!! Do you realize this means no coffee? Actually, I think I might have a jug of stale water in my refrigerator, which might be okay once boiled, but still, folks...! And if I could, I would pack up my toothbrush etc and head over to campus, but guess what? Thanks to construction (new addition to the academic building), there is no electricity or water there...

Humph. Disgruntled I am. Very.

Friday, March 01, 2002

To Fanfic or Not

Harry and Bjorn have been going back and forth in my comments section of this last past re the value of fanfic and whether one should spend their time on other writing endeavours than fanfic. Granted, Harry and I have known each other a long time - we're SE alum together - so I've heard this from him before :-) but it was interesting to hear Bjorn's point of view.

So why do I write fanfic when allegedly I could be working on my novel or the third story in my Nocturne series? Good question.

Maybe it's instant gratification. Since SE went under, I've lost the base of people who I relied on to help me with my original short fic, not to mention moving to another town absolutely killed my weekly writing group meetings. Granted, I still keep in touch on a regular basis with Tracy and Tracie, it's just not the same as posting and hearing from these people regularly. And yes, I admit it - I need the motivation from others to keep writing - and I feel lost without my writing group and the SE folks.

With fanfic, there's this whole other community of people out there who are eager to exchange ideas, help out with writings and soothe your ego when you're feeling down. They send you their WiPs and you send them yours. You get insta-FB from these betas - they tell you when you've fallen short of the mark, they tell you when you've nailed. I don't think necessarily that I need 'hand holding' when it comes to writing, but it sure makes it easier and more fun to write, even if it does mean you go off into strange directions you never expected to before. (I hereby refer y'all to the lawsuit recently filed in the Supreme Court of Fanfic Matters titled "Seema vs Rocky...").

Does this mean I've given up on original fic? No, I haven't, but the muse comes quicker when it comes to fanfic. I see something on television and all of a sudden, I'm thinking, "What if..." and suddenly, I'm sitting down at the computer, typing away at the expense of doing other more academic pursuits.

Fanfic also helps with 'stretching.' I've experimented with things in fanfic that I've never tried in original fic. Second person, present tense, alternating POVs, pronoun vignettes, etc. I feel like there is a safety net there when I 'stretch' - ie a beta is going to tell me, "Whoa, girl, start over" or "Okay, this works." In original fic, I don't get that, so it's harder for me to want to experiment.

Plus fanfic is just incredibly liberating. You're writing in this imaginary universe, embarking on this weird virtual life (which, btw, is completely cut off from RL for a variety of reasons) and when you're in fandom, you show up "and everyone knows your name." Well, mostly. I'm just feeling all warm and fuzzy from zendom - which is just more fun than I thought it would be (see Lori's comments on zendom). And Harry, if you're reading this - zendom feels like the SE felt when it was first started, where it was like coming in, flopping down on a couch and just knowing that everyone respected what you had to say, even if they didn't agree with you. So how can I pass up the opportunity to talk about writing with people who want to talk about writing? Even if it is fanfic?

Okay, is fanfic derivative? Yes, maybe. Does it have any less value? Not in my mind. Does it mean that it's not as "hard" as original fic? No, that's not the case at all. There have been amazing entries in the world of fanfic written by amateurs/professionals masquerading under various nom de plums and we do it all in the name of good fun. We are running around in own little cliques (zendom comes immediately to mind as a successful multi-fandom clique - can I pimp this list enough?), enjoying the company of crazily creative people with quirky senses of humour and it feels comfortable. A connection has been made, even if it is only fanfic.

My original fic has been online longer than the fanfic and other than SE alum, it's been next to impossible to make connections with people who aren't fanfic writers. I get the feeling that for the most part, fanfic writers leave their egos at the door, they have no expectations of publication - nor do they necessarily desire success in publication - nor do they have the driving motivation to "be the best in fandom." Rather, they are more interested in nuances and doing the best they can in putting out quality fic in a manner that makes them happy.

I have read fanfic that is of exceptional quality and I've read fanfic that has made me want to go dunk my head in a bucket of Clorox (Hey, Lori, how are we doing with the Clorox inventory?). The same goes with original fic - mostly published on the shelves of Barnes & Noble fic. So why strive for that level of incompetence when you can go online, find a group of writers utterly devoted to what they do, and who have high expectations and a desire to get better? I don't think you can compare original fic versus fanfic. It's not the same thing, not at all.

Just my two cents on the subject...