Sunday, February 8, 2015

Love Letters

How do I love thee? Let me count the ways…

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!

Dear Tammy, (aka Tnuccio)

This year I wanted to create a Valentine that centered on gratitude.

Gratitude towards a person that helped me learn a lesson in this life that felt overwhelming in its goal, but one that I felt I needed to persevere to complete a part of me that was still wandering the world.

I was told in my sophomore year in high school, that I didn’t understand Literature or Writing. It hurt more than I let on to the teacher who told me these this, and I believed her for many years afterwards that I was a failure.

As much as I loved the written word, I thought that I would only be a reader, and regulated all of my thoughts for stories into that very select category. After all, I had another very prominent talent that took center stage, and in my head “that was that.”

Many years later, after losing my job in November 2008, I was reading Twilight fanfic left, right, and center to keep me company during one of my lowest times. I awkwardly searched and read many fanfics, but I kept returning to a few that really captured my imagination.

A Person of Worth was among them.

I had read about Bella and Edward in every situation possible. All were fantastic reads in fantastical situations, but my mind kept turning back to your story that showed two very human people with flaws that were building a relationship. There was no supernatural answer to their problems. No wave of the magic wand to make true love work into a fairy tale ending. There was no riding off into the sunset. Nothing of the scifi/fantasy storylines I tend to favor…and I was completely gob smacked by how involved I was in their relationship. The amount of hope I felt for Bella and Edward had me racing through the chapters.

This was true uncharted territory for me as a reader. I tended to run from contemporary stories. I was most likely to be found looking for Fantasy or Sci/Fi based stories by Neil Gaiman, Mercedes Lackey, or Anne Rice.

It wasn’t until I put pen to paper (or fingers to keyboard) a few months later that your story would influence me beyond my first interest.

In the Spring of 2009, I had finally gained the courage to try writing again since high school. It had been decades, but reading all the different fanfics stirred something in my head and wouldn’t go away. I felt the need to try writing something of my own.

I was scared, but determined. I had this idea that I would write about Witches in a contemporary setting, but that was just a side part of it. I wanted to touch these character’s humanity. I wanted to focus on relationships that were not just about romantic love, but unconditional love between family members as well as lovers. This was the overwhelming thought that I couldn’t shake.

It was during that time that I kept returning to A Person of Worth, and thinking about your characters. It became one of my greatest influences when writing Elemental. My story became what it is because of your strength and investment into your story.

So, Valentine, thank you for being part of the teaching process that showed me that I was indeed worthy of the written word.

I owe you pie. Lots and lots of pie.

                                                                                            Much Love,

Dear FarDareisMai2,

It may be weird to get this letter from me, since we talk on Twitter pretty much every day. LOL! But when Nic asked me if I'd write a love letter to a fic author whose work has touched me, I knew it had to be you.

There are a lot of authors I've talked about many times before: Angstgoddess003, who wrote Wide Awake, the very first fic I ever read. Psyche001, author of Set in Stone, who was my first "fic friend" and introduced me to the wonderful world of Twitter (and it was all downhill from there!) When I initially got this assignment, I explored my list of favorite stories and was nearly overwhelmed by the number of authors whose stories I've enjoyed and that have touched me in one way or another.

Then, I looked at it in a different way. Thinking back before Twilight (yes, it exists!) to books that impacted me one way or another. There were many, but I started to see a pattern when it came to stories that really stayed with me. Quite a few came to mind - some classics, but also some that I read with wide eyes and varying levels of shock - The Judy Blume Books, Flowers in the Attic, The Thorn Birds (RIP Colleen McCullough). All of them were ground-breaking, taboo, and challenged me in unique ways.

When I first came to fic, I read strictly canon couples and enjoyed them greatly. I never even thought about reading non-canon, or (gasp) slash. But then I read a beautiful story you wrote called Just Like Chocolate. I can't even remember what led me to it - I think AngstGoddess003 might have recommended it because it was part of the Slash/Backslash contest. In any case, I read it and I was... blown... away.

It was the very first slash story I ever read, and it STILL resonates with me. It's such a beautiful story, and it was through that story that I had an epiphany of sorts: It didn't matter if it was Edward & Bella, or Edward & Jasper - the romance, the writing, the love, and the emotional impact is what matters. You grabbed my heart with that story, and dragged it along until I was legit crying at the end.

Of course, as you well know, that was the first of many of your stories that I enjoyed, and  of MANY slash stories, in general, that I've read since then. But yours was the first, and it definitely made an impact on me. I've left behind my hard fic limits (LOL!) and I'll try just about anything as a reader now. You've created a monster! I don't restrict myself anymore, because I've realized how much I miss out on if I'm not willing to stretch my boundaries a little, or a lot. :)

So, thank you, FarD. Thank you for your amazing stories, and for your continued friendship. You're awesome!


My Dearest Kelley, (aka Kr2009)

I love you more than I love pizza. And you know how serious that is to me. Once upon a time I reviewed a story. And then that author reviewed mine. It started like any other fandom love story, but ours has grown into the best friendship I've ever had. If it weren't for you, Fatherhood wouldn't exist — none of my stories would.

You've made me a better writer, and there's no one else I would rather read for. Like, if I could read one author for the rest of my life, it'd be you. You'd write me doctorward and daddyward and sweetward. Your stories make me feel and grow so wildly attached to the characters. Omg Perfect Love Emmett is so big now *cries*.

But our love goes much deeper than fic. You are the first person I turn to and who I stay up wayyyy too late to talk to. Remember that time you messaged me that Strange Addictions episode? It was awesome and like three a.m. and I was eating chocolate. We laugh together about the weirdest things, and I love that we can start singing Bohemian Rhapsody in Twitter DMs and we don't stop until we're done. We commit to it. We could probably spend a week speaking in memes and gifs and clearly communicate with each other because we know what's up.

Things change as years pass, but I know our love never will. We've grown in the past five years and our lives are changing, but you'll always be my bestest friend. You'll always be the first person I turn to. I know in twenty years I'll get a plot bunny and the fandom probably won't even exist, but I'll tell it to you and we'll still get excited. We'll probably write it together and you'll handle the plot and important stuff and I'll just write the smut and procrastinate. Or we'll procrastinate together. Yeah, that. I'll grab the brownies.

You are the fruit snacks to my juice pouch. The Anna to my Elsa. The Pascal to my Maximus. And the Bruce Banner to my Tony Stark. Without you life would suck and wouldn't be near as fun. Like, you're ninety percent of my funness.

I hope you never, ever doubt how wonderful you are in so many ways — in fic life and real life. I'm still so proud of you for graduating nursing school while being the All-Time-Best-Trivia-Player-Ever. How did you do that, by the way? I still think it's true what they said — you're a vampire. Except I know you're not because you didn't sparkle at Disney World.

You are the reason I'm still in this fandom. To this day, you still post fic recommendations and read more than I could ever dream of. I hope you know how much I love you and cherish you. ILY times like, 4728191759281. Is that even a number? Meh. I love you too much to measure.


Dear Lay,

Happy Valentine’s Day. I choose to send you my letter of love because there is no other like you. You’re the center of my fanfiction universe, a galaxy far far away from my real world, and your force continues to pull me in when I’m floating out in space.

You first drew me in to orbit during reviews for “In Your Room,” when you impressed me with the brave way you write. You went to places where I’m sure no one had gone before, and it surprised me when these shocking incidents made me laugh out loud, like LOUD. I soon became that reviewer, commenting on every chapter, and then your replies were like bonus material where your real voice was just like the characters in your story.

Maybe I was the only one awake sometimes when you were still online doing review replies, but we used up some space on the fanfiction server. I couldn’t understand how you found the time to write with four small children. You couldn’t understand how people write and work full-time. Still, lots of common ground emerged, a sort of simpatico where we might be real friends if we lived in the same city, instead of different hemispheres.

When you started to review my work, it was humbling. A review from Lay was the highlight of my week, full of paragraphs of sunshine.

Then you were there to welcome me to Facebook when I finally landed after resisting for so long, and it was like arriving at a party in full swing. Thank you for that. It was fun, not the overwhelming place I’d expected.

Lay, you have no idea what it meant to see those gifs you posted when I uploaded a new chapter.

Since then, you’ve connected me with amazing people, a galaxy of women who are outstanding, bright and unique. Because of you, I have a place of trust where I can share, vent and show empathy anytime. Thank you for the Triangle, and for Hadley. I know how lucky I am to call her a friend too.

Your talent with pre-reading is remarkable. You sharpen focus and fill moments in space and time with fundamental movement. Your critical eye and how you use it is possibly your greatest gift, and I believe that’s the reason your characters are so vivid. They all get a spot in your light, whether they’re the boyfriend, the friend, the annoying acquaintance, or the enemy. With a sideways look at the exact moment, or a roll of the eyes, you show so much, Lay, and that’s clever.

There are so many examples I could list here, but that pint-sized dog with Cujo’s growl in “Hooked Up and Locked Down” was a treat. Edward standing up to Charlie, calling him “Chuck” in “In Your Room” was another piece of brilliance and I wanted to jump into your words and smash Alice so badly in “Girl Code,” enjoying every moment of hating that bitch, cheering while reading the catfight chapter.

Seeing a message from you always makes me smile BIG.  “Missing you, just checking in, pal,” is like a solar flare, a reminder that there’s more warmth if I want to come closer. Sometimes our conversations take many moons to complete with sporadic updates due to the crazy time difference. Other times I can’t believe the amount of words we’ve written during some ludicrously late hour in America when I’m just settling into the afternoon down under.

Thank you for sharing yourself, your talents, your characters and your gift of words with me.

I love you, Lay. You’re a star.


Dearest Bratty Vamp:

I’m not very good with dates, therefore I don’t know exactly when I discovered fanfiction other than knowing it was sometime in 2009. I was feeding my newfound, human Bella and vampire Edward addiction and discovered some great stories and authors to do the job: classics such as Dark Side of the Moon by blondie aka Robin and Bonne Foi and Only Human by Amethyst Jackson. They kept me up many a late night, reading about alternate adventures the vampire boy I was in love with could get into. At the time, I had absolutely no interest in reading about a “Human” version of Edward. Everyone knew Edward was a vampire; why turn him into a boring, old human?

I can’t honestly say what drew me to read your story, “The Best Man.” I can’t even remember what the summary for it was. I know that it had already been marked Complete. Perhaps the number of reviews convinced me to skim through it. All I know is that I was suddenly in a love so deep for this very human Edward who knew nothing of drinking blood or sparkling, who slept and ate and could venture into sunlight without any issues – yet who was somehow still the same sexy, brooding and angst-ridden man I’d fallen in love with in “Twilight.”

From then on, I made it my mission to devour every single one of your stories, from “Abbracciare Il Cantante,” which did feature a vampire Edward, to “Ring of Stars.” But it was the All-Human stories…the ones with everyday characters that I could somehow relate to, that touched me in a way that no other fanfic yet had.

The way that no other fanfics have to this day.

I followed the rest of your stories as Works-in-Progress - “Click and Strum” and “Four Summers,” “In Vain” and “Green” – and I can honestly say that each and every single story you wrote became one of my all-time favorites.

If I ever had to write down a list of my top ten fics, your stories would take up about half of those spots.

Bratty, you had such a simple and down-to-earth way with prose that somehow managed to awaken every single one of my emotions, from joy to the most painful angst (“The Best Man” readers can totally back me up here), from fury to the biggest chuckles. My stomach tingled with happy butterflies whenever one of your timely updates pinged on my laptop. Your Edwards were all so different yet so relatable, from nerdy teenagers to twenty-somethings not quite sure who they were. And yes, there were even one or two Vamp Edward stories thrown in there for good measure.

Again, I’m not good with dates, but I do remember the day you left the fandom. I don’t know where you went, Bratty, but I hope that wherever you are, you’re still writing. A talent like yours is not meant to be wasted.

I’ll tell you one more thing, and it’s something I always declare quite proudly and without hesitation:

“The Best Man” is my favorite fanfic of all time.

I can probably quote sections of it word for word. It’s my go-to fic whenever I need a good sigh or a good cry.

Thank you so much for that story, Bratty, and for all your stories. And thank you for being my inspiration. Reading your beautiful words made me want to try writing some of my own. I can only hope that I’ve somehow done you justice.

Bratty Vamp, wherever you are, love ya!

Hugs & Kisses,
Patty Rosa

Dearest Coldplaywhore,

You were one first authors that I started following when I found fic, and your words have made me laugh out loud, swoon, and cry. I think you have an amazing way of conveying true emotions and making the characters we all love so different, while still keeping them recognizable.

What I find absolutely inspiring is that you have thirty-nine stories on FFn, and they are all so good. The quality of your work is fantastic, whether it be a lovely romance like The Life Aquatic, something more dramatic like Love with Come Through, or even angsty like Lack of Color, or just something completely funny like Finding Bree Tanner or Maybe I'm Falling for You.

Without a doubt, you capture each of the characters so well and weave stories that are believable and relatable. Even though these stories have the same cast of characters we all know and love, you continually brought something new and different with every single story.

American Girl was the first fic I ever read of yours, and it holds a special place in my heart when I think of the fandom. As a reader, I felt all the ups and downs that come along with navigating the rocky terrain of adolescence to adulthood, and the awe of traveling through Europe then making a home in NYC. And without a doubt, I'll never forget the hot, summer night in Vienna at the park.
So, CPW, thank you so much for sharing your words with us. Your stories have stuck with me, and there's a special collection on my Kindle with your name on it.

Lots of love,
Katie (Tanglingshadows)

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