With Valentine’s Day right around the corner, love is in the air here at The Lemonade Stand. So we asked a group of authors to choose an author they love – someone who moves them, be it through their words or uplifting presence in our fandom – and write them a love letter. Due to the overwhelming positive response, we will be posting these daily, from now until Valentine's Day!
Happy Valentine’s Day to JiffyKate (Jiff Simpson and Jenny Kate)!
When I was invited to participate in this love fest, I immediately thought of you two. I picked you two for a reason – several reasons, actually.
When I first came to this fandom, things worked a little differently. We were sucked in by the writer’s story, their words, and the love on the page. Once social media came into play, the rules sort of changed. We got to “meet” our favorite readers and writers. We all became friends…or enemies, depending on the drama of the hour. We could laugh, cry, debate, theorize, and chatter all day long about our favorite characters.
With you two, it happened backwards for me. I got to know you through social media before I’d ever read anything you’d written. Shame on me, I know! I’m kind of glad, though, because what I saw was something special.
I want to thank you. I want you to know that you two brighten my day. In a world filled with anger and drama and hate, you two bring something light and fun and easy to this fandom. Your friendship is strong, and even on a bad day, you’re laughing at silly, fun stuff. That’s so damned important.
What I don’t think you realize is that it translates to your stories. I think I’ve tried to tell you both many times, but it doesn’t hurt to say it again.
While humor plays a big part in your stories, there is this feeling of pure hope that comes through even the toughest of subjects. Your story Bella Donna, which is a personal favorite of mine, was an excellent example of that. Your Vampward, which is a genre I can’t say no to, seemed harsh and cold, but he wasn’t, really. He was lost, and watching him find his way was a fantastic ride, not to mention that hint of Pretty Woman that sucked me in completely.
However, your current project is quickly climbing up to the top of my faves list. The Other One is a brilliantly woven story. Nothing shows hope better than this story. Nothing. It has been an amazing thing to watch this Edward, who truly was broken – both physically and emotionally – come back to life with the help of a Bella that I absolutely adore. She’s the epitome of strength, hope, and the light at the end of Edward’s very long, dark tunnel. You guys consider it a slow burn, but I never felt the “slow” side of that statement. I think it’s your best work, and the pace is perfect.
So I thank you. I thank you for your stories, for those little glimmers of happy and easy.
I also want to thank you from my side of the coin. As a writer, there are days where it’s tough to read the harsh reviews, the ugly things people can say. You two bring so much fun my way. Your excitement gets me excited, and that’s a huge deal to me. It means more than I can explain here in this letter.
So I hope you guys have a happy Valentine’s Day, and know I send big hugs and smooches your way.
When it comes to our friendship, I find it hard to actually recall when it started - at this point, it’s hard to remember not being friends.
What I do remember is it began when there was so much buzz about EP and I had only just begun reading it. I recall reading the first chapter and thinking “Holy crap, this girl is so talented” (I assure you there were more expletives in that statement, but I’m trying to be a lady here. LOL) but at that point, I really had no idea how truly accurate that statement was. You have always had a raw, natural talent for writing - you have this way of crafting your words so that everything you write paints such a vivid picture and I’ve always admired that about you. Even back when you were...shall we say “a little wordy”(haha)...your writing was so extraordinary that people still wanted to soak up every last word you wrote. Not a lot of authors are able to do that and you always have...even in the very beginning.
Once I started working with you on your story, I watched your talent blossom before my eyes. With just a little support from me, you took off flying - and you just keep getting better and better. I am floored as I read each of your published works how far you have come and at the same time, it’s even more so mind blowing because you were already so damn good to begin with.
You recently said to me that you couldn’t believe that you were lucky enough to do something you love every day for a living. I think your words were, “Who woulda thunk it” if I remember correctly. I did. And I bet a lot of other people who have read and loved every word you have given us would agree with me. Your larger than life heart and your up front, no bullshit honesty is refreshing and it’s reflected in everything you write. That’s a rarity and it draws your readers in like a magnet, making them want to come back over and over for more and more.
You, my friend, deserve all the success you have achieved and more. I feel so lucky to have been able to watch you evolve into the amazing author you are today and am even more so grateful to have been fortunate enough to be even a little part of that. I will never forget all of the laughs we had while you were writing EP, or how I triple dog dared you to write me a My Best Friend’s Wedding/Twilight crossover with the ending we both wanted and without hesitation, you gave us all Pinky Swear.
On a personal level, I also will never forget all the wonderful things you did for me and my kids, especially when I was struggling to keep my sanity through tough times. You never failed to keep my spirits up and were one of my biggest cheerleaders -- it helped me more than you realize.
Anyway, I just wanted to take this opportunity to tell you that you seriously amaze me and I am so proud to call you my friend. We may not have the ability to chat all day every day like we used to (I don’t know about you, but I really miss those days), but not a day goes by that I’m not thankful to have you in my life. I love you to pieces!
When I started reading Twific, I didn’t know about sites like this one, and a well-written sex scene often seemed like a minor miracle. Then I stumbled across your “Let Your Light Shine,” in which human Bella and vampire Edward consummate their marriage without trauma, and then enthusiastically repeat the experience for several more chapters. Their love-making is not free of emotional hiccups, but it is fully committed without being sappy, and their encounters explicit enough to make me blush but not cringe.
What’s more, your “LYLS” and its sequels, “A Life Extraordinary” and “This Hungry World” had something that seemed to be a rarity in fic. By then, I’d read a lot of sex: sex against walls, in hot tubs, on beds with golden bedspreads and ornate wrought-iron frames; first-time sex, slash sex, D/s sex; sex in corporate boardrooms, in bar restrooms, in tattoo parlors and in meadows.
But what I hadn’t encountered much of is the most common kind of sex of all: married sex.* (Despite all the stereotypes, the people who have the most sex aren’t swinging singles.)
From a literary narrative standpoint, there’s a good reason for that. If the arc of a romance novel is -- forgive me for being hetero-normative -- girl meets boy, girl loses boy, girl finds boy again and finally professes her love and proposes, The End, when you add sex to the mix, it’s necessarily going to be unmarried sex. (What seems to be popular right now is a couple who secretly love each other but because of misunderstandings and/or insecurity claim they want to boink with no strings attached.) And, of course, sex that is dangerous or is forbidden in some way, and thus the opposite of married sex, carries an extra frisson of eroticism.
But your “LYLS” trilogy just teemed with married sex. In “A Life Extraordinary” and “This Hungry World,” Bella has become a vampire and so even the obstacle of human limits is gone. Yet the sex remains as emotionally compelling as before. Bella and Edward often have the sort of sex that only supernatural creatures could, but it’s reasonable in the world you set up. There’s also sex familiar to regular married folks: long-distance sex and interrupted sex, with the incursion coming in the form of wolves instead of toddlers. And through it all Bella and Edward are exploring not just bodies, but minds.
The whole trilogy is a lesson in how sex scenes can serve as character study, and in how fucking while married can be really, really hot.
And as someone with no experience in writing fiction but who was starting to get her own ideas about playing around with an ExB story, I was fascinated by how your style developed as you wrote at what seemed to be a furious pace, from the mammoth “LYLS” trilogy to a double-track post-“New Moon” story, “My Yes, My No,” and then “The Sweater,” a little gem of a novella with a single lime, but a doozy of one. (It was awfully hard to memorize verb declensions when I knew that a wonderful new chapter from you was waiting.)
Nowadays, you’ve moved out of Twific and onto the best-seller list as half of the Christina Lauren erotica team. I enjoy the books: the encounters are both romantic and imaginative, and there are glimpses of the utterly devoted Edward of “LYLS” in the heroes, but the stories have pretty much stuck to the standard sex-with-misunderstandings script of modern romance novels. That may be because that’s what you guys want to write, or it may be a realistic understanding of what sells. I can’t fault anyone for that.
But maybe one day the two of you will publish a novel in which a openly-in-love wife and husband are the heroine and hero. I’d snatch it up. If anyone can make married sex sell, it’s you. In the meantime, dear Lola, thank you for so many hours of fabulous reading.
*The exception in Twific, of course, being wedding-night sex on an island off the elusive “west coast of Brazil.”
It’s been a while since we’ve seen you, but we know you’re out there somewhere.
I miss you and your stories. I do hope you’re still writing in some capacity, because you’re pretty awesome at it. I know you said you were fresh out of ideas, but some of us still think of you once in a while, and cross our fingers that something will pop up in our inboxes.
I remember a long, long time ago reading Room 15, I think, and thinking, man this is good; I need more of this stuff. Your stories were sweet...and hot...and awesome, and I wanted to be able to write stories like that, because THAT was the kind of stuff I loved reading.
You didn’t have anything to do with why I started writing, but I remember fangirling so hard when you reviewed something of mine. I don’t remember how, when or why, but it stuck in my head that, like, OH MY GOD Coldplaywhore (cue the squealing) was reading my shit!
You laugh, but dude, I was terrified and excited and a total fangirl, I swear. And I actually told you this, like legit, replied and told you. I know it sounds silly, but I had always enjoyed your words, so to be read by you (among several others who may or may not have rolled their eyes when I replied with an OMFG!! comment) gave me the confidence in those dark times (you know, when the words just don’t want to come together) to keep going.
So because of this, thank you. Thank you for writing what you did and somehow being an inspiration to other writers such as myself.
Thank you for reading and reviewing, and being so incredibly supportive.
You’re funny and witty and sarcastic and sweet, so thank you for not being all weird on me because I’m a dork. (Though, I will totally understand if you’re creeped out by this.)
Dear Heather (aka Twilover76),
When TLS asked me to write a love letter, it took me all of two seconds to respond, and no time whatsoever to know who I was going to choose. Surprise, it’s you!
It was easy to pick you, because we’ve grown from reader/author to friends. I truly count myself lucky to know you. I don’t know when our friendship formed; I just know that it did. I got to know you through reviews, then on Twitter, then off. Your friendship has been one of the many gifts this fandom has given me that I’ll always treasure.
The first story of yours I read was Twelve Days of Christmas. I was immediately captivated by your words and your imagination. I remember you freaking out when you found out I was reading your words. I don’t know why, because they were wonderful.
Right after that I was on to Fated Love, and then, my favorite, Choices. I could rhapsodize over that particular story for ages if you let me. It’s my favorite alternate Twilight story. I love the thought of Edward and Bella, forewarned and forearmed with what would happen, and making the choice to be together. The changes you made captivated me from the very start. I reread it every few months or so, even though it’s not quite done yet. No pressure, I swear! It’s just that it’s that good.
Then No Ordinary Proposal came along and everybody saw just how awesome and talented you were. And I’m grateful for that, because everyone should have the gift of your words, and you yourself. You’re one of the nicest people in the fandom, and I’m better for having known you.
You’ve not only been a friend; you’ve been a pimper, supporter, cheerleader, and of course my fantasy football cohort in crime. In fact, I can blame you for the obsession the latter has become for me. Blame, thank, whatever! Know that I appreciate it, even if your quarterback killed my powerhouse team. (Yes, forever bitter!)
You brought me into the world of Skype writing, and in fact, I popped my cherry with you by writing a sex scene for WWF. That was fun to share when we compared notes. I guess in a way, we sexted. How about that? Just another manifestation of my love for you!
I let you sucker me into bad sports bets, using my love against me, but since the bet was for a love poem, we both won in the end. I’ll finish my love letter to you with another love poem, because that’s our thing (and Jaspy’s, of course).
Roses are red,
Violets are blue,
I’m lucky to have a friend,
As sweet as you.
You make me smile every day,
With your pics, and your words so kind.
I adore you in thousands of ways,
Won’t you be my Valentine?
That was Jaspy level poetry just for you. I’ve officially written you more poems than anybody in my life, so that says it all. Thank you for your talent, your sense of humor, your words, and most importantly your friendship. It means the world to me.
Amy (aka Nolebucgrl)
Dear Tara Sue Me,
My rose colored glasses have been shattered into a million jagged pieces, my mind is still in disbelief by your words that are always visually stimulating. Doctors almost had to be called to stop my racing heart. Psychologist fees almost had to be paid as I explored an unknown chartered path along with your heroines. What was once taboo is now more mainstream all because you allowed us into your imagination.
What I love about your novels is how quickly you drift into the storyline. I love authors that can visually bring one into their stories where you climb in, not wanting to leave until the last word has been read. I also love how I feel when I'm reading them. If I'm laughing, crying, or wound up in the sexual tension, the ripples of emotions flow effortlessly. That is an art; a skill that you have perfected.
I consider myself a romantic with a dirty mind. I love anything and everything regarding romance. It doesn't matter how cliché or cheesy; the thought behind the sentiment will always win out. In 2010, my love for the Twilight series grew when I stumbled across fanfiction by reading the fandom comment sections online. There were stories such as First and Ten, Master of the Universe, The Office, The Last Tango in Forks. The list kept growing, and I read them all. Many are no longer available as fics but are now published works. Each had their own twists on each of the Twilight characters. Many opened my eyes to a world I knew nothing about, and it was a privilege being able to read these incredible stories. But over and over again, The Submissive, The Dominant and The Training were recommended countless times. I soon discovered that many writers, some published authors credited your works as inspiration as well.
Your constant nod to fanfiction is honorable and well respected. Both your character and works have not only inspired me, but countless other writers to express themselves openly, and with a new passion.
Thank you Tara Sue Me for sharing a part of yourself to the world.
My dearest Katinki,
I'm such a huge fangirl of yours. Your work is so inspiring and such a delight to read.
I still remember when I read the first chapter of Dark Games & Twisted Minds. You killed people! Well, not in the first chapter, but still, I was hooked. The best part was when I sent you a p.m. and told you'd I wanted to be your pre-reader and you said yes! Best day ever!
Your ability to write all genres; drama, angst, horror, porn AND comedy, remains to be one of the many things about you to admire. From your humor in Renfield and Chiclets, to your romantic prowess in Love Songs in E Minor. To the angst of An Angry Man and then the beauty and drama of Requiem. Then, the world you're weaving currently with the dramatic and suspenseful Operation: Break the Dawn and finally, the amazing, touching, hard to read but too important not to, A Voice in the Darkness. These and all the rest of your work is what writers everywhere should recognize and aspire to emulate. Your talent is astounding.
Our time together in the fic world has been such a treat for me. I stand in awe of the mutual love of one set of books, turning into talented people such as yourself writing continuations of Edward and Bella for us.
You honor me with your friendship in real life and I can never thank you enough for your encouragement and support when I wanted to try my hand at writing myself. You mean the world to me.
Keep writing, you're too fabulous to stop! I still say you could publish your stories and/or put out original fiction, I bet they'd be bestsellers.
All my love,