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Medium Dawn Felagund of the Fountain

An FYI for Tolkien Fanfic Authors, Particularly Group Mods

The (Cyber) Bag of Weasels

bread and puppet




"About as much fun as a bag of weasels"...when I first saw this Irish adage, it made me think of the life of a writer: sometimes perilous, sometimes painful, certainly interesting. My paper journal has always been called "The Bag of Weasels." This is the Bag of Weasels' online home.

An FYI for Tolkien Fanfic Authors, Particularly Group Mods

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hugo reyes--dude
As most of you know, I despise online drama, particularly drama related to fan fiction. It's ridiculous. This is a hobby, and there is no reason for people's lives to be ruined, for there to be tears and death threats made about fan fiction.

In keeping with this, I have always taken care not to mention names when discussing individuals behaving negatively in the fanfic community in my LiveJournal posts. Likewise, I generally f-lock material that might start a "flame war" or any sort of drama with these individuals. The fact remains that this is a hobby for me. I have a family, a job, a life, and a budding writing career that are all more important than raising my blood pressure and, most importantly, wasting my time than some idiot's personal beef with my fan fiction.

However, things have escalated to the point where I would like to make a sort of "FYI" to others who participate in the Tolkien fanfic community, particularly moderators of groups, archives, and communities. Most of you have been well aware of this individual for some time now, but as I said, things have escalated to an unacceptable level.

That I must waste a perfectly good Sunday afternoon, fit for writing or working on my website, is dismaying in itself but such is life, I guess. :)

I am going to avoid naming individuals (except the guilty) and particularly archives, as I do not know what is public knowledge and what individuals want to be revealed. (If you are involved and do not mind your name being known, or if you are part of one of the archives involved and wish that name being published, please let me know, and I will edit my post.) However, it recently happened that a friend of mine posted a Maedhros/Fingon slash story on a small archive that accepts stories from multiple fandoms as well as original fiction. The archive was "slash friendly," though (apparently) not much slash was posted there.

Many of you are familiar with the author who used to post under the pen name "The Last Temptation of Homer" and now uses "The Battling Bard." Well, she had sung the praises of this archive for months, primarily because she is in bitter opposition to slash and not much (if any?) was found there. Well, when this slash story was posted, she proceeded to flame the author, despite the fact that story was clearly labeled as being "slash" and "AU." On a moderated archive, this should not be acceptable, and the archive took some steps so that slash was more clearly marked as slash and posted a public reminder that the archive was "slash-friendly" and that readers needed to use their discretion in choosing what stories to read.

Now The Battling Bard had recently been kicked off of another, much-larger fan fiction archive for her aggressive behavior towards authors who did not meet her rather nebulous standards of "quality" or "canon." Shortly after being kicked off of this archive, she began a personal vendetta against it, claiming it as one of the worst in the Tolkien community, despite having embraced the same place before, prior to being kicked off after numerous warnings for her antics. Now, she has started the same behavior towards the "slash-friendly" archive.

Nonetheless, this reeks of simple fandom drama: She can't abide by the rules or TOS at a place, so she slams the archive for protecting its other members. Nothing odd there. However, in a thread on the fanfiction.net forums called The Pushuruk Awards, she made a death threat against the author who had posted slash at the "slash-friendly" archive. It has since been removed, as the management of ff.net was informed. However, this is what she said:
I have a sudden desire to murder all slash writers. For a number of blissful years, *archive omitted* has been slash free, now it's been invaded by one of those bloody 'tasteful' slash writers. It's Fingon/Maedhros. They're cousins for bloody gods sake! THAT IS SICK DIE YOU SICK slash writing B**TARDS!! What I wouldn't do to have 5 minutes alone with that author in a closet with a semi automatic. That offend you? GOOD!
The thread in which this threat was issued is here. Later, she says:
As for the 'death threat'. For gods sake get over yourself, I was only messing around. I'm going to delete that post anyway because someone reported it to ff.n.
Clearly, this person (and others who comment in this thread) are nuts who really need to get a life, a boyfriend (or girlfriend ;), or a good vibrator. In the past, I have been happy to ignore them or write them off as nuts, but this is just a step too far for me and many others who have had contact with The Battling Bard in the past. She ignores the mission and TOS of a site, gets reprimanded, and proceeds to make death threats against the author whose story she didn't like because she (The Battling Bard) ignored the TOS...yes, the logic of that escapes me too. It's kind of like reading on the side of a Styrofoam coffee cup, "CAUTION: HOT"; being verbally warned by the person serving you the coffee that it is hot; intentionally dumping the hot coffee in your lap; and then suing the person who served you the coffee because it was hot. No, it makes no sense, but what more do we expect from someone like this?

I know that many people have been trolled by this individual in the past. I have received correspondence from authors who will not post on ff.net because of the behavior that is permitted there in terms of reviews. I know of people who have stopped posting there or deleted their accounts because of certain reviewers there, and yes, The Battling Bard's name comes up quite often in those discussions. I can't make decisions for other writers, but it is my hope that authors stop allowing asshats like The Battling Bard and "Celegorm" and others who act like disgruntled Neanderthals with hemorrhoids to bully them around. These individuals clearly have no interest in enjoying themselves in this community. They do not review to help or encourage authors. They are quite likely playing a few cards short of a full deck, and at the very least, they have exaggerated the effect of fan fiction on the fate of the world. They also have trouble finding the BACK button on their browsers. These are not people that we should respect. And so these are not people whom we should allow to affect the fun and enjoyment from what is--for the most part--a wonderfully amiable and supportive community.

But that aside, as the owner/mod of a fan fiction group, I do take these things seriously. I want people to have fun in my group, and idiots like The Battling Bard are toxic to this purpose. And so those of you with groups or communities, if you don't know her name, then learn it. She previously went under the moniker of "The Last Temptation of Homer." If you manage an LJ community, please be aware that she has an account here (battlingbard22), and I suspect that it's only a matter of time before she begins trying her antics on our comms, since she's quickly running out of archives where she is welcome.

Unfortunately, although LJ allows us to monitor when we are added as friends by another user, it does not enable the same of our comms...at least, so far as I can tell. FAQ #84 details how to remove and ban troublemakers from communities. Hopefully, none of us will have to use it, but it's good to know what we can do in case we do.

Sadly, because of her behavior, as I try to get the SWG site off of the ground (even if just barely hovering ;), I have spent most of my discussions with my co-mods not on the archive or the references or cool things that we might do with the group...no, we have talked about policies and reprimands and what we will do when (inevitably, I fear) one of these idiots decides to test the waters in our group.

However! There is a spark of light: Apparently, I am just as high on her shit list as she is on mine. Yep, the estimable satismagic and I have been picked out by The Battling Bard and "Celegorm" as The Smuggest Fan Fiction Writer of the Year in their little Pushuruk Awards. Given the fact that jael_the_scribe has been added since I last viewed the forum this morning, I can reliably conclude that "smug" actually means "people that either give their bullshit right back to them or advocate behaving in a mature and rationale manner with regards to fan fiction." Juno, of course, is the author of the excellent How to Review and moderates a ff.net forum of the same name. Jael's replies to their idiocy in some of the threads above are applause-worthy, and I have had the distinct pleasure of corresponding with both The Battling Bard and "Celegorm" about some comments that they made on my stories. Neither replied or provided me with the citations that I requested, and I haven't heard from either since, though apparently, I must have been memorable.

But silliness aside, this is an individual who has made death threats against an author over fan fiction. Please keep that in mind and also (please please please) help to stop this trend of allowing asshats to influence where we share our work. These people do not deserve our respect, and they especially do not deserve our attention.

Now I'm off to try to enjoy my Sunday afternoon. And don't forget to vote for Juno, Jael, and me as the Smuggest Fanficcers of the Year! :)
  • Thank you! *evil grin* I have been assured by Homer herself that there will be a banner for the winner...if I win, then I will gladly share the honor with the other three, since we're all deservingly smug. ;)

    And don't worry that she likes your work. She likes the Caranthir/Haleth that I wrote for you as well. (Maybe she has a thing for Caranthir and Haleth?) She also liked Jael's work until she discovered that 1) Jael writes slash, 2) Jael is purportedly "old" (and that is sick, you see, that a woman older than her mid-20s should enjoy writing and particularly erotic writing because we all die down there past age 30), and 3) Jael is mean.

    Applying logic to her really is quite futile. I personally like your theory about her writing not being good enough. I totally agree. For example, her "Pushuruk Awards" are in answer to the MEFAs...and it is important to note that none of her works won. And I've learned through my short years as a writer on this earth that people who can't write well themselves boost their perception of what they do write by harping on and tearing down authors less experienced or skilled than they are, by focusing on "rules" and "quality."

    Personally, I try to let my stories speak for me rather than pointing my fingers at new or young writers and constantly dwelling on how awful they are to make myself look better. That's just sad.
  • Personally, I try to let my stories speak for me rather than pointing my fingers at new or young writers and constantly dwelling on how awful they are to make myself look better. That's just sad.

    I think this logic deserves some applause. *applauds*
  • And don't worry that she likes your work.

    Oh, I don't exactly. It's always flattering to receive positive reviews, certainly. But I simply have a problem with her attitudes and how she wants to make other authors look bad, like in the review she left at French Pony's 'Natural Children'. Even if it hadn't been you but another author, I think it's simply bad style to go around posting reviews along the lines of "OMG, that's so much better than xxx's version of events!!" (Not to mention the unbelievable span of time and distance between AMC and French Pony's story that she seems to have missed somehow...)

    She also liked Jael's work until she discovered that 1) Jael writes slash, 2) Jael is purportedly "old" (and that is sick, you see, that a woman older than her mid-20s should enjoy writing and particularly erotic writing because we all die down there past age 30), and 3) Jael is mean.

    Yeah, reason no. 2 made me go particularly cross-eyed. She also said that she won't write fanfic anymore when she's older than 30 because then she'll be 'too mature' for it, or something like that. Eh, does she believe someone will automatically hit the 'mature bottom' when she hits thirty. She's about as old as I am and I've realized years ago that there's no such thing (respectively on my 12th, 16th, 18th and 20th birthday which I somehow expected to completely change my world and yet... nope, nothing like that happened ;-P).

    Also, reading Tolkien she should have seen that immaturity may be a good thing. I mean, really, do you think Tolkien would have made-up written about Middle-earth if he had ever really grown up? (And I mean this in the most positive sense you can think of)

    And Dawn, you really think there are women past their 30s still interested in that? You little sicko, you. Ewwww. ;-P

    Personally, I try to let my stories speak for me rather than pointing my fingers at new or young writers and constantly dwelling on how awful they are to make myself look better. That's just sad.

    Agreed. I mean, I don't very much like the typical 'Girl falls into ME' either, but - and we already had this discussion some time ago I think - we have to take a look at who writes these stories: Most of them are young girls. Now when I remember what kind of stories I rode at their age; well, all of them: blatant Mary Sues. And let's be honest; that's what most teenager will write at first. (We simply have to take a look at Eragon for the famous published example)

    Back then I used to exchange those stories with my friends at school and what do you think they gave me? Concrit? Well, no. More like "OMG! [insert gushing praise here]" But I think that's not a bad thing at that age. It encourages you to keep writing and when you're reaklly interested in doing this, a soon as you grow older you're most likely going to develop a sense of what is good and what not. A let's say, thirteen year old girl - what with puberty and all - will more likely think she's no good at all confronted with the most well-meant of concrit than she's going to strive to be a better writer.

    And when I look back, did my sparkly Sues cause any harm? As far as I'm concerned my friends are still alive and sane, I didn't accidently cause this globe to implode/explode/insert catastrophe of choice, nor did the seas rise up to swallow my poor unsuspecting continent. Really, let those girls have their violet-eyed half-unicorn super-heroines. If we want something more mature we'll simply have to go and look for it.

    Preach post for today finished. Amen. ;)
    • BTW, I should probably mention that with the above post I didn't mean that from now on we should start leaving "OMG!" reviews instead of concrit... I simply meant it won't cause harm if teenage girls leave "OMG!" reviews for other teenage girls. *scratches head* :)
      • I knew what you meant. :)

        Unless a person likes that sort of story, I don't think that we should either. Although, if approached by a teenager and asked to look at her fiction, then I would gladly take on the role as her personal cheerleader. I would offer to help her as well, but the degree to which I would do so would depend on what she needed, could understand, and could handle.

        But if I read a story that I knew was by a teenaged author and found it full of errors and whatnot, I doubt I'd say anything; maybe leave a note and ask how she felt about concrit before providing any.
    • But I simply have a problem with her attitudes and how she wants to make other authors look bad, like in the review she left at French Pony's 'Natural Children'.

      Just realized that wasn't Bard at all. Me stupid. But I guess she wouldn't be above that either...

      ... and who knows, 'bookminion' might be her sockpuppet anyway, tehehe. ;)

      (I'm really spamming today, am I not? ;-P)
    • Amen!

      (Not to mention the unbelievable span of time and distance between AMC and French Pony's story that she seems to have missed somehow...)

      Yes, because the issue seemed to be my rather happy-go-lucky Nelyo compared to French Pony's grimmer Maedhros...okay, there's probably one thousand years between the portrayals. "Nelyo" lives in paradise; "Maedhros" has seen several wars, been captured and tortured, exiled twice, lost part of a limb, had his grandfather murdered, watched his father and five brothers die, witnessed countless kinsmen and friends die...

      But no, that does not explain the difference in characters at all. *rolls eyes*

      She also said that she won't write fanfic anymore when she's older than 30 because then she'll be 'too mature' for it

      Personally, I've always felt that people who can turn on and off their will to write (and what to write about) are not really writers. Most writers I know sometimes loathe the compulsion and the act and the fact that it is such a waste of time for little gain...but they cannot help it. We dream about the characters while sitting on buses and are compelled to put those words to paper. Hell, I was incredibly embarrassed to be writing fanfic when I started AMC...but did that stop me? I also (stupidly) thought myself too good for such silliness...it didn't stop me.

      Juno has a theory that Homer and her fanminions have this terror of their own impending loss of youth that they express with their sheer displeasure with any woman who enjoys herself (creatively, sexually, intellectually) past the age of 30. I remember at 22-23, I would sometimes think of how close I was to 30, then 40, then 50...and I'd get scared. Actually, coming into this fandom helped with that. Most of my friends are older than me, in their 30s at least, and I see how much fun they still have. Heck, my dad is in his mid-60s and still has fun!

      The saying is stale but true nonetheless: Age is only a number. :)

      (We simply have to take a look at Eragon for the famous published example)

      *evil grin*

      That poor lad is one day going to look back with such regret at letting those books be published...

      But I think that's not a bad thing at that age. It encourages you to keep writing and when you're reaklly interested in doing this, a soon as you grow older you're most likely going to develop a sense of what is good and what not.

      Well, I remember being that age and what I thought was "good"...

      I once thought that I would be happy if I could be as good a writer as V.C. Andrews. (Do you have V.C. Andrews in Germany? If not, I'll find you an excerpt as an example of my poor judgment. ;)

      I also remember going with Bobby to the movies for our second anniversary at the age of sixteen to see Jurassic Park 3 and, OMG, that movie was so good. Well, I thought it was then. ;)

      Everything seemed so new at that age; I didn't see cliches or formulae yet because I was too young to have read enough to pick up on what was truly creative and what was just a tired rehashing of something that had already been done better. Then, it was all very "glitter and flash" for me: If something held my attention, I liked it.

      At that age, I simply would not have comprehended the sorts of concrit that I want on stories now. Then, being a good writer meant knowing how to use commas and choose cool names for my female characters. The notion that those characters should be flawed, that I should try to use original language, that I could (and should!) occasionally bend the "rules" in the name of style...I didn't understand those things. Because then, characters, language, and style were not what I wanted out of a story.

      I agree with you that young writers do need mindless encouragement. They need reason to keep reading and writing; soon, their tastes will mature and evolve, just like in anything else. If their urges are quashed at age 13, though, they will never have the chance to mature. And so, in a way, people like Homer do more to keep authors in that "Mary Sue" stage than they do to encourage authors to move out of it.
      • Hell, I was incredibly embarrassed to be writing fanfic when I started AMC...but did that stop me?

        That was about the attitude I had when I started WRU. But it was also what really got me back to writing. I hadn't properly written for years but from that point on I've been furiously scribbling on anything resembling paper (now to put these scribblings together... that quite a different story... ;-P). And I can honestly say I've probably learned more about creative writing during 2 years in fanfic than back at school.

        (Do you have V.C. Andrews in Germany? If not, I'll find you an excerpt as an example of my poor judgment. ;)

        Oh, please do! Because I've never heard of V.C. Andrews. ;) (As a young girl I was totally into any book that had horses... and the thing with those books is probably that only young girls who like books with horses will think these are good books... hehe)

        Then, being a good writer meant knowing how to use commas and choose cool names for my female characters.

        Oh yes, yes! Sometimes I wish I had kept my first attempts at writing, really. :-D
      • I have been reading this comment and I think TBB never left the teenager age. Those who she gathers around her are, I dunno, still in their teens at the very least. The whole snobby attitude of ow Silm fic is oh so elite by them, I never got that to be honest. Why would the Hobbit or LOTR not have good and outstanding stories? It's just the way they respond, also about age. I mean, since when is age such an important thing. Life doesn't end when you get past thirty. Imho it gets more intense on many levels.

        Yes, because the issue seemed to be my rather happy-go-lucky Nelyo compared to French Pony's grimmer Maedhros...okay, there's probably one thousand years between the portrayals. "Nelyo" lives in paradise; "Maedhros" has seen several wars, been captured and tortured, exiled twice, lost part of a limb, had his grandfather murdered, watched his father and five brothers die, witnessed countless kinsmen and friends die...

        But even so Dawn, being gentle and merry can be a mask too. I think some folks have to get rid of narrowmindedness regarding this: so many authors, so many takes on a character or an event.

        Personally, I've always felt that people who can turn on and off their will to write (and what to write about) are not really writers. Most writers I know sometimes loathe the compulsion and the act and the fact that it is such a waste of time for little gain...but they cannot help it. We dream about the characters while sitting on buses and are compelled to put those words to paper. Hell, I was incredibly embarrassed to be writing fanfic when I started AMC...but did that stop me? I also (stupidly) thought myself too good for such silliness...it didn't stop me.

        Oh good lord, yes. Muses. Muses who don't care if you want to sleep, muses who don't care if you are in the middle of something, but demand their moment *now*! I can't turn it off, and I also can't write an fixed amount of words a day.

        Juno has a theory that Homer and her fanminions have this terror of their own impending loss of youth that they express with their sheer displeasure with any woman who enjoys herself (creatively, sexually, intellectually) past the age of 30. I remember at 22-23, I would sometimes think of how close I was to 30, then 40, then 50...and I'd get scared. Actually, coming into this fandom helped with that. Most of my friends are older than me, in their 30s at least, and I see how much fun they still have. Heck, my dad is in his mid-60s and still has fun!

        I think the more you fear losing that or crossing that line, you will be missing out on a lot of good things. I still have to laugh when people say that I am old, I don't feel old, what is age to an artist actually: it really matters naught.

        They need reason to keep reading and writing; soon, their tastes will mature and evolve, just like in anything else.

        Honestly, I think every writer evolves, regardless what age. Those who are gifted or work hard to master the craft of writing will grow in their works and reap the awards by just working hard. Those who are new should be treated differently, guide them gently and take them strep by step through it. Yes that takes effort, yes that takes time. But as we grow and learn how to stand on our own, it is up to us to help a new generation or others for that matter by teaching them what we learnt. That is why I beta (also newcomers), and why I reach out to others, why I have learnt to write concrit and write it gently without having the writer run away screaming or drown themselves in a glass of alcohol. Writing reviews is the gift of feedback, but do respect their style, their voice and try not to slap the author down so hard. That is simply uncalled for unless you truly feel like a snob/smug [insert something here]. We all started out once, once we had an idea to write, some immediately started in a nurturing environment, others (like me) had to fight hard to get where we are today, but that does not mean that I do think that newcomers should be flamed and burnt down to the ground by me because it happened to me when I started.

        • Rhapsody, I want to give a big AMEN on this! Seriously, you said so many things that I have thought over the last week (!!!) of this bullshit.

          On the age issue...she's very keen on labeling, have you noticed? "This one is an American author" or "This one is a perverted old crow." The funny thing is that she labels without any clue to the truth, like when she called me a "desperate housewife" when I am only two years older than she and gainfully employed besides. Or when she calls you "old" when--newsflash!--the low 30s is far from old.

          But I think that it comes from this urge to be acceptable based on being "young and British" because she can't find self-esteem from other outlets. Why be proud of being born in the UK? Or in 1983? I don't think that she chose either of those things, so why be proud of them? I am proud of how I treat people, of my work and my contribution to the world: That I am American or 25...who cares?

          But even so Dawn, being gentle and merry can be a mask too.

          I totally agree. This is what I was going for, with his character in AMC. He is a diplomat, a politician: He is very good at appearing to be what people want him to be. Inside, he may be angry or hurt, but it will not show. For that reason, I find his PoV the hardest to write because his character almost censors himself even to me.

          Personally, I find "good guys" very hard to write as deep flaws seem inherently indicative of more complexity to more people. But if they cannot see what I am doing with Nelyo...maybe they are just shortsighted or maybe I need to write him better. :)

          On nurturing new writers, I cannot agree more. How can I hold someone just starting out to the same standards as I hold someone who's been writing for twenty years? Personally, I feel that it is something just for beginners to get words on a page, to coherently express an idea. That is special in itself; many people cannot do that. Gently guiding newbies to move beyond that should be done gently and thoughtfully...and people also need to understand that everyone does not wish to become the next Neil Gaiman but perhaps just to have fun with words and a particular universe. And that is okay too. :)
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