Category Archives: Fic Recommendations

Exploring the Creative Process, Part V: Interview with Julia Daniels

We welcome the last fortnight of 2015 with the fifth instalment in our Creative Process series. This time we chat  with  another published romantic author, Julia Daniels.Julia

What type of environment do you need to write?

I have two wonderful teenagers in my house. I thought when they finally reached this age, they would be less needy of my time, but I was wrong! I try to be wherever they are, because I want to be around them as much as I can before they leave home!

So, to avoid distractions and still be somewhat accessible, I wear headphones and listen to music to drown out the noise from their video games and whatever Netflix show my daughter happens to be watching. I create a playlist for whichever book I am writing at the time, with a certain theme to the music. For example, when I wrote Master of Her Heart, I used a lot of British tunes, classical music they may have listened to at the time, or music with lyrics that reminded me of scenes from the book or mini-series. It usually puts me in the right frame of mind as I write, too.master

How do your ideas come to you?

My ideas usually start with the characters. I think about what odd situations I can create for them to fall into. Mr. Thornton is hard to manipulate much, he’s pretty perfect the way he is, but Miss Hale… now she definitely needs her head adjusted from time to time!

My latest idea came about in such an odd way. A friend of mine develops cross stitch, rug hooking and needle punch patterns. She was selected as a finalist in a contest Martha Stewart was running at her website for “Handmade in America” products. Well, my friend didn’t win, but the company that did is a family-run sock manufacturer in a sleepy town in the south. Alarm bells went off in my head and immediately I had Thornton as a sock manufacturer in the south and Margaret a snooty gal from the north. This one will be a contemporary novel. I cannot wait to write it!

Do you plan a story from the beginning to end or start with an idea and let the chapters come to you as they do?earl

I started using a new software called Scrivener that lets me skip around. So, on the current book I’m working on for my upcoming Mill Master’s series, I had all these scenes way later in the novel suddenly popping in my head. With this software I can add whatever I want and not get lost in the storyline.

Usually, I have the major plot points and characters in my head from start to finish, but there are often scenes and incidents that suddenly appear as I write, so I have to be flexible to let the characters lead the story!

Which do you find easier to write: dialogue or description or are the equally hard/easy?

Good dialogue is the key to a good book! It shows the interaction of the characters, and characters are the driving force of the book. Description, of course, draws the pretty picture of the scene, but without strong characters and snappy dialogue the book falls flat for me.

Is there anything that you won’t write or feel uncomfortable writing?duchess

I am not a big fan of erotica or sexually explicit romance. That’s not to say there won’t ever be flush-worthy scenes in my novels, but sex for sex sake won’t happen. I’m also not very comfortable with child abuse or graphic incidents of harm to animals or people.

What advice can you give to new writers who might be scared to post their stories?

Go for it! I’m hungry for new stories, and new authors. Remember there is no “grade” associated with your submission and the comments I have received are very kind and supportive. Take a risk, you will be really glad that you tried! Just make sure you are willing to keep up with your stories. I get super frustrated when I get addicted to a story and then it’s never updated.

What is your favorite book and why?choices

Oh so many! The Little House on the Prairie Series, Sarah Plain and Tall, Pride and Prejudice and of course North and South (although I do like many of the adaptations better!).

Visit Julia’s official site: https://juliadaniels.wordpress.com

You can also find her on Facebook and Twitter. To purchase Master of her Heart or any of Julia’s works, go to AmazonUS or AmazonUK.

Sample the first chapters of her latest North & South story, “Milton’s Mill Master: A Variation of North & South”, on Wattpad.

ETA: Julia’s posting a Christmas story that will serve as an epilogue to her North & South novel “Master of her Heart”. You can find it on Wattpad: “A Mill Master’s Christmas”

 

 

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Exploring the Creative Process, Part IV: Interview with Nancy Klein

We invited Thornton and Guy fan fiction  author Nancy Klein to share how she works and offer some advice.

GWIW

What type of environment do you need to write?

Quiet helps. A cup of coffee. I’ll often sit down to write after I’ve just exercised or done a bit of meditation and my mind is quiet.

 
How do your ideas come to you? Do you always write them or do you let them disappear?
A lot of my ideas come when I’m doing my daily walk. I’ll just go along day dreaming and things will often pop into my head and I’ll play with them. I try to write them down when I get home-this works sometimes, and sometimes the ideas are gone. Ideas also come to me in my sleep, but I never remember to keep pen and paper by the bed.
Nancy Klein
Nancy Klein
Do you plan a story from the beginning to end or start with an idea and let the chapters come to you as they do?
I have to have a plan from beginning to end–not every detail, but just to know where the main thrust of the story is going to go.
 
Do you prefer writing easy, quick stories or long, layered stories?
Long, layered stories are what I write, even when I think I’m going to create a quick story. Ideas end up branching off one another, and the story sometimes takes a detour or two.
 
Which do you find easier to write: dialogue or description or are the equally hard/easy?
Dialogue is by far the easiest for me–my betas often have to prod me to put more details in my descriptions.
 
Is there anything that you won’t write or feel uncomfortable writing?
I won’t write detailed sex scenes–I feel silly doing it. 
[Armitage Authors note: Don’t believe that her stories lack passion, however! Nancy’s sex scenes pack a powerful punch without all the mechanical details.]
 
What do you do to cure writer’s block? What advice can you give to new writers who might be scared to post their stories?
Just keep writing, even if you do a few pages and throw them away. Keep at it. Write descriptions of your characters, things they might say. Try writing the last chapter first, just for fun. Everyone is afraid of posting their stories–I still am, and I’ve posted three pretty long ones. Ask someone else who writes to look at your story. I have the best betas in the world–they make sure I stay true to the characters and details, and nag me when I’ve gone too long without posting (like now, ahem). Also, reading helps me. I will read something wonderful–often poetry–and it will inspire me to get in front of the computer again.
 
What is your favorite book and why?
I don’t have a favorite book–it seems like every fifth book I read is my new favorite. But there are some that I read over and over again, and I feel like they are fresh that 20th, 30th time–North and South, Wives and Daughters, Persuasion, Jane Eyre, Shirley. Right now I am in love with Ruth Ozeki’s A Tale for the Time Being. What she does with point of view and plot is amazing.
 
howfartheworldwillbend
Nancy’s North and South story, How Far the World Will Bend, is available at Amazon here.
And don’t miss her fantastic Guy and Marian story, Grant What I Wish, at Wattpad.com here.

Through the Looking Glass

In Einstein’s equation, time is a river. It speeds up, meanders, and slows down. The new wrinkle is that it can have whirlpools and fork into two rivers. So, if time-travel-clockthe river of time can be bent into a pretzel, create whirlpools and fork into two rivers, then time travel cannot be ruled out.
Michio Kaku

A few weeks ago, wholly immersed in the heartbreaking and horrific journey of Richard’s latest creation for the small screen, I couldn’t help but wish I could conjure up H.G.Wells’ proverbial time machine to have grown-up Dolarhyde meet Reba before there was no turning back or to provide baby Francis with the loving and nurting family he was denied.

Let’s face it, how many times during our exploration of Mr. Armitage’s body of work have we asked ourselves “What if?” or yearned to rewrite painful, implausible, sloppy or out-of-character storylines?

Life might not give us a chance to rewrite the past, but if we let ourselves believe, we can pour ourselves a cuppa, sit back and enjoy a good story in which our favourite character gets the lady of his dreams, takes a different path and lives to see the final credits roll.

To get you started, I have put together a list of stories featuring some of Richard’s best-loved creations- and one that is seldom written about. There are both time-travelling journeys and plots where past and present juxtapose and characters from different shows cross paths.

Take your pick and  let yourself be led to the fourth dimension by some of our fandom’s most creative authors.

  • Elizabeth Gaskell’s North & South

Kleindog’s “How Far the World Will Bend”

After having her fortune told by a gypsy, Meg Armstrong moves through a mirror from 1920s England to 1850 Milton–and finds out she has stepped into the shoes of Margaret Hale. She has been sent back in time with a mission to fulfill–to save John Thornton’s life. But will she be able to fulfill her mission without losing her heart?

Longhairedtoad’s “Once Upon a Time”

Based on the classic novel North & South by Elizabeth Gaskell, this modern story of John and Margaret takes them on a magical adventure filled with intrique, suspense, and romance.

John Thornton spends all his waking hours working in the family business. In his leisure time, he hunts for antique books. When one literally falls on him, he is shocked to find the ancient looking text is written about him.

Margaret Hale has no time for love. Having started a bakery with her best friend Tara, she needs to concentrate fully on that venture for now. But at her cousin’s wedding reception, a stranger approaches and explains he is the man she will marry in three months time.

Julia Daniels’ “Master of Her Heart: A Time-Twisted Tale of North & South”

Modern day Margaret Bryce is in a jam. Her graduate dissertation is due in mere weeks, and despite the enormous help her adviser, J. Whitman Bell has provided, there’s something missing from her paper. Dr. Bell decides the best option is for her to travel back in time to a Victorian mill town, so she can better understand the struggles–both economic and personal–people of that era faced. She agrees to his insane scheme, knowing it’s only a joke, a way for her to dig deeper within herself to find the answers. Only, when she wakes up in Milton, and finds the year to be 1851, she knows she’s in trouble…

  • Agatha Christie’s “Ordeal by Innocence”

theearth’s “What if? Philip Durrant”

Philip looked around. He found himself on the bed in the shabby guesthouse from yesterday’s dream. He could feel his body, he could feel his legs! The same old carpet he remembered from back then, faded and wrinkly. Even the stain from the glass of red whine he had knocked over a day before. No, not a day before. In truth he was sitting in his wheelchair in the library of his house a few years later, reading a book. He’d wake up later, but wake up from what? What was that?

  • Robin Hood

Therapne’s “The Tale of the Hologram”

A student takes a step too far when she plays with her friend’s ‘hologram’ and finds herself thrown into a strange medieval world. But that experience is nothing compared to the problems she encounters when she escapes the ‘hologram’s’ clutches and has to face the music with the authorities.

  • Robin Hood/Spooks

VelocityGirl1980’s “A Matter of Life and Death”

Lucas North’s life is unraveling fast and the walls are closing in. Alone and cornered, his flashbacks take on a new intensity, including new visions of a strange time gone by. But he has no time to work out what they mean. He plunges to his end from the Enver Tower, but ends up somewhere else. Full summary inside. Not entirely serious. Mostly RH fic.

VelocityGirl1980’s “A Fate Worse than Death”

A life taken in violence is like a shout in the mountains: it leaves an echo. A life left un-lived cannot pass on in peace, especially when a destiny is as important as Marian Knighton’s. Murdered by a man who would rather see her dead than with the one she truly loves, something somewhere blocks her passage to the dead, and she wakes up somewhere far away.

Smithylass’ “Coming Home”

Set in the Charente valley in France right after the end of Series 8 of Spooks.

(Present Day) Marian Knighton sat bolt upright in her bed, panting for breath. Her emerald green eyes were wide with fear and exhilaration. She was soaked with sweat and shaking in reaction to the dream. It had happened again – he haunted her dreams and she had no idea who he was…

“Hello…” a deep husky voice broke the silence, making Marian jump. She turned at the sound and nearly dropped to the ground in shock. Standing in the doorway was the Domaine’s house guest – Marian stared into the stunningly beautiful face and piercing blue eyes of the black knight of her dream.

time-machine

A/N: The first two stories mentioned on this list are also published novels.

Nancy Klein’s “How Far the World will Bend”

M.Liza Marte’s “More than Words”

Please, feel free to leave your own recommendations in the comments.

Of Knights and Monks

I’d like to start my first post by expressing my gratitute to both Trudy and Jazzbaby for inviting me to join them in this project. I’m truly honoured to be able to share in our love for the talented and beautiful human being that is Mr Armitage- our Muse and inspiration in more ways than one.

I’ve spent the last few weeks browsing my archives in search of a few stories that I thought would be the perfect vehicle to celebrate Richard’s latest Medieval project- “Pilgrimage”, which has just wrapped up. All of them have Sir Guy of Gisborne as the protagonist and feature our favourite Black Knight in dealings with monks or considering a future in the Church.

Guy at prayer

From the moment Richard announced he was going to take part in this Irish project during that interview he granted Omelette at Comic Con Experience’s (Saõ Paolo, Brazil), the fandom started speculating about his future role. Would he play a knight or a monk? Although most people seemed to be convinced he’d don a robe, my bet was on him playing a knight once again- after all, there was some pretty reliable evidence to tip the scales in that direction and, eventually, I was proven right.

Ultimately, it was fun to spend several months discussing the project, researching about religious orders in the Middle Ages and seeing our fandoms’ creative minds at work.

Guy on horsebackThis post is meant to have us immerse ourselves in the world Richard’s been living in for the past month and also to reminisce about a character who, despite the years that have elapsed, is still firmly entrenched in our hearts.

Enjoy!

P.S.: I’ve tried to keep the descriptions to a minimum to avoid spoilers.

medieval_scribe’s “To Cozen Fortune”: Pre-canon. Guy and Isabella in exile find refuge in a French monastery. Guy’s offered a place as a postulant. Is religious life his true destiny?

http://archiveofourown.org/works/266230

Therapne’s “The Apothecary’s Daughter”: In which Guy considers taking holy orders.

http://armitagearmy.proboards.com/thread/15401/apothecarys-daughter-new-guy-story

http://armitagearmy.proboards.com/thread/15402/apothecarys-daughter-chapter-1

Jayarjay’s “And from the Darkness Comes the Light that Heals” (still a WIP but beautifully written and well-worth the read): Post-series 2. Guy returns to the Holy Land intent on paying his dues by serving his fellowmen, but a surprise is awaiting him.

http://www.dreamerfiction.com/forum/viewtopic.php?f=212&t=6012

hjcrane’s “Guy Meets his Match”: Post-Series 1. Jilted by Lady Marian, with nothing to lose and everything to gain, Guy accepts taking part in Vasey’s latest scheme. Will it be his making or final undoing?

http://c19.proboards.com/thread/31713/guy-meets-match-chapters-1

Marianne aka theearth’s “Illusions”: Late Series 2. Guy opens his eyes to the truth and makes a life-changing decision.

https://www.fanfiction.net/s/4165396/1/Illusions

Khandy’s “Black Knight’s Deception”: Appearances are sometimes deceptive, and Nottingham’s about to be shaken by the best-kept secret in town.

http://c19.proboards.com/thread/36463/black-knights-deception-ch1?page=1

velocityGirl1980’s “Everything but the Girl”: Everything’s a choice and Guy of Gisborne knows that as well as Robin Hood. What happens then when Guy chooses to act against the Sheriff to save Marian from the Earl of Winchester after all? Set in Series II- Episode 6 (up to a point), but then completely AU. [This fic made it to the list because there’s a good portion involving Guy & Marian in dealings with monks.]

https://www.fanfiction.net/s/9169952/1/Everything-But-The-Girl

Jayarjay ‘s “Three Hearts”: Post-Series III. Guy’s pilgrimage to the Holy Land to bring two hearts together and set his to rest.

http://www.dreamerfiction.com/forum/viewforum.php?f=238

EndlessBlue’s “Bound Home”: Post-Series III. A beautifully-written fanfic with an unusual pairing on their own private pilgrimage.

https://www.fanfiction.net/s/8126083/1/Bound-Home

Love Is In The Air: To Sir, With Love

I kind of came into this fandom sideways, through fan fiction. I’d seen the proposal scene from North & South but hadn’t watched the whole thing and while I knew who Richard Armitage was I didn’t really engage with the fandom at all until I read a Guy of Gisborne fan fiction at FanFiction.Net. Tall, dark, and broken is a trope that really appeals to me so I sought out more fic and then the source material, the BBC’s retelling of Robin Hood. The fic that I read that night and the author who wrote it are long gone but I’d like to thank that writer for pulling me in.

Guy isn't really sure if he's thankful or not.

Guy isn’t really sure if he’s thankful or not.

Guy of Gisborne is not an easy character to love but it’s certainly fun to try. The bad boy who might be redeemed by the love of a good woman is nearly irresistible and when he’s wearing leather? All bets are off, especially in the hands of these writers.

Grant What I Wish by Nancy Klein at Wattpad. Marian recovers and heads back to Nottingham.

Love Is A Wound by Hazel Osmond at Wattpad. Guy becomes enamored of a woman who is decidedly not Marian.

A Lady’s Nightly Vigil of Love, a Sir Guy Ficlet by Gratiana Lovelace at Wattpad.

Manna From Heaven by Zee’s Muse at An Archive Of Our Own. NSFW Time travel involved with this one. Zee recently started posting a companion piece, Aside From Heaven.

The Dragon of Throxenby by Melanie Goldmund at the author’s website. All knights have to face a dragon sometime, right?

Sloth Fiction by Fedoralady at Wattpad. Is Guy really dead? Not if the amount of junk food disappearing from Fedoralady’s pantry is any indication. Multiple characters but she loves Guy best.

Remember by lillianschild at Wattpad. Remember the time Nottingham was going to be burned to the ground? Guy does.

How The Sheriff’s Guard Got their Feathers by Whatcatydidnext at Dreamer Fiction. Very silly. 🙂

Wolf’s Head by corrielle at LiveJournal. Follows Guy’s story from when he takes over Locksley Manor.

Second Chances by Nyphette at An Archive Of Our Own. Alternative Universe where Meg survives. WIP, at fifty-eight chapters.

So what’s your favorite Guy of Gisborne fan fiction? Leave a link in the comments and don’t be shy about linking your own work. One piece of housekeeping: the winner of The Tempest and My Lady Gisborne by Charlotte Hawkins was Jennie Colleen Newbrand, congratulations!

 

I Need A Hero: John Porter Fic Recommendations

The first time I watched Strike Back I wasn’t really expecting to like it. While I like things like 24 and The Unit I’m kind of particular and I went into it expecting just a regular shoot-’em-up. Wow, was I wrong. I loved the way Richard Armitage developed John Porter into a hero I could truly root for as he struggled to reconnect with his family and who he could have been before the tragedy that cost him everything. Unfortunately (or fortunately, depending on how you feel about later seasons), Porter didn’t survive the transition to American television but he thankfully lives on in fan works. Here are some of my favorites. As always, Dreamer Fiction requires membership to view fics while An Archive of Our Own and Wattpad don’t.

johnporter

Recovery by Obscura4now, in which John Porter meets Original Female Character in a pub. Link will take you to An Archive of Our Own but it’s also at Dreamer Fiction here (The Longest Night) and here (Recovery).

Truce by fedoralady: Porter and Layla, very romantic and very NC-17 after about chapter 4. Archived at Dreamer Fiction, along with the ficlet Captive, inspired by the Strike Back viral video at YouTube here.

Laila by AmandaJane, a retelling of Rapunzel featuring a 12th Century John Porter, archived at Dreamer Fiction.

Complex Maneuvers by sahRAobsessed, an NC-17 John Porter fic also involving Layla and Dani, archived at Dreamer Fiction.

Absolution by khandy, in which John Porter rescues a British Aid worker  in South America. Archived at Dreamer Fiction and at Wattpad here.

Home for Christmas by ladyanne, who says that “a lot can happen in four and a half minutes.” Archived at Dreamer Fiction.

Very, Very Carefully by Melanie Goldmund. Something traumatic happens to John Porter during a rescue attempt. Archived at the author’s website.

Percussion by szerafina7, a John Porter/Reader story about an upcoming mission. Archived at AO3.

Lifeline by roane. Katie Dartmouth finds comfort with her rescuer. Archived at AO3.

Two Agents and A Para Walk Into A Firefight by a_xmasmurder. John Porter in a shootout in Afghanistan, with a couple of other familiar faces. Archived at Ao3.

Do you have any favorite John Porter fics that you don’t see here? You’re welcome to link them in the comments. Happy reading!