Fanfiction What? – Guest post by Lindsay

I made a goal for myself this summer…to read some books. I even went to a library and took out nine books of a variety of genres and authors in the hopes to kick start this goal. It’s August 1st as I write this and I haven’t touched a single one of them. Yet, I have read over 1 749 260 words since July 1st. A MILLION AND A HALF WORDS! Which, based on an average 80k word book, is roughly 22 books. But I haven’t opened a physical book…or actually, I haven’t opened any published books. Allow me to introduce to you a written world often unknown, often disgraced…the world of fanfiction.

For those of you not in the know, Mirriam-Webster defines fanfiction as “stories involving popular fictional characters that are written by fans and often posted on the Internet — called also fanfic”. So basically, a story created by someone who isn’t the original author. Sound familiar? Your thoughts might automatically jump to Fifty Shades of Grey, one of the most infamous examples of current media that started off as a Twilight Fanfiction. But many popular stories can be fit into this definition. Lion King? Simply a lion AU (alternate universe) version of Hamlet. While on the topic of Shakespeare, Romeo and Juliet? One of the most famous love stories of all time? Basically a fix-it fic of Arthur Brooke’s The Tragical Historye of Romeus and Juliet which could be viewed as an AU of the legend of Tristan and Iseult and it just keeps going.

My first experience with fanfiction was asking my sister what she was reading on the computer when I was in grade 6 (after the fourth book came out). “A book about Harry Potter written by a fan,” she answered after several minutes of my persistent asking. WHAT? My brain was so confused – why would someone a) write a Harry Potter book that wasn’t J.K. Rowling and b) why would someone read a book written by someone who wasn’t J.K. Rowling? Fast forward four years to me in high school, lamenting to my friend that I really wanted Ron and Hermione to develop a romantic relationship in the series. “Why don’t you just read some fanfics? I know a couple you would love!” WHAT? Fanfiction? NOoooooooooo. But I gave it a go…and haven’t looked back since.

So why is the main social perspective of fanfiction viewed so poorly? What uses are there for this form of storytelling? The answer to the first question is one I cannot answer, but probably stems from the fact it is mostly written and read by marginalized people looking for representation. That is a whole other aspect that could be examined in another article (there are some awesome posts and threads about this on Tumblr and Twitter that are far more eloquent than anything I could write). The answer to the second question is far easier to express.

Writing fanfiction is a great tool for writers.

  • Want to work on characterization without having to world build? Write about original characters in a certain fandom world
  • Want to explore creating a functioning society but don’t want to character design? Write an AU for characters you know well
  • Struggling with dialogue? Struggling with descriptive passages? Practice with characters and worlds you already know well
  • Spelling and grammar a problem? Practice with fanfiction!

Reading fanfiction is fun and easy for readers.

  • TAGS – the best thing about fanfiction is how easy it is to search for the kind of story you want. Want angst with a happy ending? Hurt/comfort. Want sweet wholesome anxiety-free stories? Fluff. Want raw emotions expressed physically through vigorous lovemaking? Smut…well…just adjust the rating to R or E and you can pair that with any other tag to really hone down the type of story you want!
  • Short or long – based on the amount of time or energy you want to invest in a reading session, you can find short stories to novellas to novels to epic long series
  • Tropes galore – like reading a certain trope? People love writing them too so you can spend as long as you want exploring the same flavour of story again and again
  • Unsatisfied with the media you consumed or you simply want more of that world – Fanfiction will fix it or provide you with enough content to satisfy your needs

So yes, I’m obsessed with reading fanfiction and have even dabbled in writing it. There’s a fanfiction from your fandom, about your favourite characters waiting for you for whatever kind of story you are interested in reading. Go forth with an open mind and you can discover some literary gems. Explore fandoms you haven’t even seen the original media of (I’m so into Teen Wolf fanfic right now without ever having seen a single episode), read a genre you don’t normal expose yourself to, and have fun!

Resources

(some of these I hesitate to recommend but I’m trying to be impartial):


Lindsay is an all around geek who mostly spends time consuming fan-created content rather than the original piece of media.

She can be found pottering around TumblrTwitterInstagram, or her portfolio site.

Having a theft-free vacation

Telling people you’re planning on travelling comes with all sorts of advice and warnings. One of the most persistent and scary is the threat of theft. Being away from home and having your ID, money, clothes, and/or belongings stolen is the opposite of fun.

The best way to avoid armed robbery or other extremely traumatic experiences is to talk to your travel agent and check advisories.

For smaller thefts, it seems that Pickpockets have gotten a near mystical reputation. Hollywood would have you believe that one bump and the thief will have your underwear. Thankfully they’re not quite that good.

Pickpockets are still a big issue, especially in big cities.

What can you do?

There are a few tips and tricks for you to keep your valuables safe.

1. Don’t carry everything.

A thief can’t pickpocket something you don’t have with you.

2. Don’t flaunt it.

Try to avoid traveling with unnecessary valuables. Try not to have too much cash.

If you have to have the valuables try not to flash them around like you’re a bigshot. Try to only take out a little bit of cash and not a whole wad.

3. Hide your stuff

Wear a money belt or some other form of hidden pocket. And don’t put everything at the same place. That way, if they do get one hiding spot, you still have something.

4. Zippers!

A zippered bag or purse is much more secure than one that has just an opening. One that has a lockable zipper is even better.

5. Watch your stuff

This seems obvious, but the easiest target is one that isn’t paying attention. If your bag isn’t attached to you or something solid, it’s an easy target. Same with one shouldered bags. Wear them crossbody to avoid a quick snatchings.

Don’t put your cell or laptop on the table after you’re done with it. It should stay in your hand, your secure bag, or your pocket.

6. Avoid distractions

The number one way to lose your stuff is to be distracted. This is the oldest trick in the book. Someone gets your attention and someone else frees your stuff. Still enjoy the busker, but make sure you keep an eye on your things.

Also don’t accept things from random strangers. I mean if it’s Mardi Gras or you’re landing in Hawaii then expect something, but otherwise be wary of gifts. They could be distractions or they could come with a hidden cost.

7. Don’t go anywhere with a stranger

At the risk of sounding like your parents; don’t get into a vehicle with a random stranger or follow them to less crowded areas.

If someone needs help, call the authorities or wave down someone who works in the area.

8. Don’t risk your life

If someone is robbing you and they have a weapon, it’s best to just give them what they want. Your things are not worth your life. Be safe.

9. Wear your bag on your front

If you are worried about people slashing or getting into your bag, wear it on your front and hug it. That way you’ll know if someone comes for it.

If you carry a cell or wallet, consider wearing in the front pocket of your pants. It’s a harder target.

10. Buy an antitheft bag

If after all this you’re still worried, go ahead and buy yourself an anti-theft bag.

There are all kinds out there from $30 on Amazon to $500. They all have different features and ways of preventing theft. You can also buy a mesh cage for your current travel bag.

The most important features are a slash proof bag, locked or hidden zippers, and hidden pockets.

The three best companies that I’ve found for bags are:

Great features of both the Nomatic and Bobby are that they are also crush-proof, meaning your laptop or tablet won’t get destroyed by over-zealous baggage handlers or if you sit on them.

What about RFID blocking?

RFID means Radio-frequency identification. You may know it as Tap or Interact Flash. Your credit cards, phones, bus passes, work passes, passports, and a ton of other things work with this technology.

A lot of people have been worried about RFID theft or cloning. There’s been demonstrations and hackers have shown that it is possible.

But according to The Identity Theft Centre: “There are far better behaviors you could adopt if you want to keep your information and your funds safe[.]”

There have been no known thefts from this method and it shouldn’t be on the top of your list of worries. It’s easier to steal the card than it is the RFID information and then use it. Even if they get your RFID data that doesn’t include your three digit security code on the back or your PIN.

As for your passport, all they can get from the RFID is your name and basic information. So unless you’re pretending to be someone else, you should be fine.

If it makes you feel better, however, there is no harm.

Any other safety precautions we missed?


References

Rick Steve’s Europe: Outsmarting Pickpockets and Thieves

USA Today: Lessons from the Louvre: How to avoid pickpockets

The Savvy Backpaker: How to avoid pickpockets in Europe — Tips for outsmarting the thieves

Wirecutter: Dear Wirecutter: Are RFID-Blocking Wallets Necessary?

Slate: The Skimming Scam

Global News: Reality check: You don’t need RFID protection in your wallet


Are you interested in travelling? You can contact Jennifer Desmarais through Orleans Travel. jennifer.desmarais@orleanstravel.ca

Discover Japan

Today, I was asked to price out a trip to Japan. Since the quickest way to figure out an approximate price for something is to search for tours that already exist, I went to G-Adventures because they are both an amazing tour company, and sustainable. They only offer small group tours, and always make sure that they hire local guides. Among many other things. Plus, they’re Canadian!

I also did a quick estimate for flights. I found that it costs between $1600-1900 CAD per person to fly from Ottawa to Tokyo. Not bad, considering it costs about half that to fly from Ottawa to Vancouver.

This tour completely blew my mind: Discover Japan. It covers temples, castles, and gardens outside of Tokyo, as well as giving the travellers plenty of opportunities to purchase food on their own.

For the geeky traveller, there are tons of things that you can do in Tokyo before and after the tour. Here is an article that helps you to find a bunch of apps that are pretty cool: with one, you can type in your question in English, and it will translate it for you!

If you like robots, (who doesn’t like robots?) the US challenged Japan to a giant bot-fight, and that will be happening next year, date undeclared at the moment. Pacific Rim or Real Steel, anyone?

Akihabara seems to be the place to go, if you’re interested in seeing video games, popculture collectibles, and other attractions.

If you like monster movies, like Godzilla, here is a pre-planned walking tour by Vili Maunula, complete with mini descriptions of the sights you will see.

Mt. Fuji with fall colors in japan.
The beauty of Japan. Image courtesy of www.japaneseammo.com

This article sums up the best high-tech locations to visit in Tokyo, including the incredible National Museum of Emerging Science and Innovation.

Japan is definitely on my bucket list! If you are interested in any of these tours or trips, contact me Jennifer Desmarais through AJ Travel.

Suggestions for the next place you’d like to see me write about are welcome! Where would you like to go?

The People I’m proud of

Good Morning,

Today I’m going to gush a little.

Wife

My wife has started a new job, it’s a summer job that will go into part time while she finishes her degree but I’m very proud of her. She’s a Travel Agent with AJ Travel Canada. She’s a specialist in Fandom Travel and Special Needs Travel.

Please feel free to contact her starting in May for all your travel needs.

Fandom Travel Logo from AJTravel.ca
Fandom Travel Logo from AJTravel.ca

Brother

Another person in my life that is ridiculously talented is my brother. He’s an actor, director, screen writer.

He directed and played the joker in this fan film based off of Batman and Silence of the Lambs.

Here’s his writing and directing debut.

 

If it’s no obvious, I’m ridiculously proud of both my Wife and my Brother.

Poll

The Poll for my next serial story is still open.

Faeries Vs Robots Vs Aliens

An Urban Fantasy / Science Fiction, following a faery woman who must do one last job for her robot overlords before they let her go free. Can she stop the aliens from invading or would they be better than the robots?

Read the First Part

Only Human

A Supernatural Action/Romance, following a human girl who’s enrolled in Monster University in order to avenge her parents. Can she slay her new friends, keep up with classes, and avoid the cute demi-god that likes her?

Read the First Part

The Cosmic Cuckoos

A Science Fiction adventure, following a girl who is trying to save her friend from becoming just another clone warrior. Can a normal human girl really save her friend from the most powerful empire in the galaxy?

Read the First Part

What serial story should I continue this year?

  • Only Human (56%, 5 Votes)
  • The Cosmic Cuckoos (33%, 3 Votes)
  • Faeries Vs Robots Vs Aliens (11%, 1 Votes)

Total Voters: 9

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Latter days,

Éric