Hamlet and New OFMD Fanfic Chapter

Today on Book Riot:

In May, I wrote and posted Chapter One of “Full Circle,” an Our Flag Means Death fan fiction on my Ao3 account.

In July, I posted a second chapter. I gave the first chapter a Teen rating and the second a Mature rating. As I wrote in the author’s note, the second has more sexual references and non-explicit sex, but I didn’t want to write explicit sex scenes or graphic descriptions of violence. I also added an AU cameo with characters from the 2020 YA fantasy novel The Mermaid, the Witch, and the Sea by Maggie Tokuda-Hall. I liked Tokuda-Hall’s novel, and I couldn’t find anything on AO3 about it. Thanks for reading!

New, Original Short Story, YouTube, and Book Riot!

This is my most recent story and first fiction publication since February 2017!

“The Only Way to Travel” in Corporeal! Thank you so much to the editors for accepting it, publishing it only 3 months later, and letting me record an audio version!

You can read more about the story’s background on my Medium.

In April 2021, I analyzed “Good Country People” by Flannery O’Connor from a critical perspective on Book Riot, on my Medium, and then in December on this blog. I also mentioned The Uncanny in this story. I’ll always write about some stories and ideas in both my fiction and my criticism.

Or, if you’d prefer to view it in one file, I’ve collected all my critical analysis of O’Connor below:

And my work on Freud’s “The Uncanny”:

And new on Book Riot:

I previously wrote about magical realism for our student magazine, Rolling Stonehill, in college in 2010. I still have a copy or two but don’t think it’s online.

I also recently recorded an a cappella cover of Donna Missal’s 2018 song “Keep Lying.”

Thanks so much for reading and/or listening!

Ship Names

Today on Book Riot:

I know that shipping pun about Our Flag Means Death is corny, but I’m corny sometimes! Thanks to my editors for letting me lead with that joke and pic.

I love how Stede invents little free libraries in the show by replacing the books he’s stolen with old ones he’s already read.

I also recently posted an OFMD fanfic on Ao3. Thanks so much to anyone reading my work and giving it bookmarks and kudos! Since I last posted here, OFMD has been renewed! Yay!

Speaking of ship names, on Ao3, romantic and sexual relationships are tagged with a slash /, for example: Skyler White/Walter White. Ao3 also separates 2 names for the same character with a straight line, NEVER a slash. For example, here are 2 characters from my fanfics tagged on Ao3. From OFMD: Blackbeard | Edward Teach and from Breaking Bad: Jimmy McGill | Saul Goodman. If you’re new to Ao3, that may be confusing! Those aren’t relationships, just 2 names for each character!

spoilers for OFMD and my fanfic of it below:

As I Tweeted last year: work that’s actually published or premiered is understandably held to a higher critical standard than fanfic, which is just for fun. It’s often a safe place to explore scenarios the writers know would be traumatic or abusive IRL, or even in an original work. Fan fics are also distinct from interpretations, head canons, and predictions. I think my OFMD fic works as a prediction for how I’d like season 2 to start, but not all fanfics are like that. Fanfic had specific content warnings way before most mainstream, original fiction did, which is good. I like that fanfic writers often explicitly acknowledge when they know an aspect of a story is messed up.

I’ve read fanfic since I was a teen, so I’m not surprised that some OFMD fanfics apparently jump to Ed (as Blackbeard in full kraken mode) abusing or threatening Stede in some way for leaving him. They feel out of character to me, though, and skip over his inevitable relief that Stede’s alive and back! Sure, Ed’s heartbroken and angry at the end of the season, but I think he’s also grieving.

So, I hope Izzy’s over-the-top threats in my fan fic can be read as a parody or subversion of fics where Ed goes in that violent direction, or an exaggeration of Izzy’s triangulation in the show itself. I think we all agree: a Stede/Ed reunion will be highly anticipated and tense!

You know what is allowed on Ao3, but I think is legally iffy, unethical, and creepy? RPF (real-person fanfic). I don’t care that celebrities are public figures. Public figures still have a right to privacy. “Shipping” real people together crosses a huge boundary, potentially fetishizing and invading privacy.

GIF: Michael in Arrested Development, saying, “I don’t know what I expected.” This is the “dead dove; do not eat” scene. That phrase has become a meme & a warning tag for extremely graphic or triggering fanfics.

As you may know, I’m also a Susan Sontag fan, and I basically agree with this great essay on how campy OFMD is. This explains why it’s so over-the-top, polarizing, absurd, ahistorical/anachronistic, and earnest at the same time.

Our Flag Means Death

I really enjoyed this show and just posted a fanfic of it on Ao3. Thanks so much to everyone who read it already! I hope OFMD gets renewed!

I know everyone makes a “shipping” pun about Our Flag Means Death, and why not? Cannons on the ship, and three canon LGBTQ couples, etc. . .

Anyway, OFMD is a very silly, outlandish show, and I love it. The characters as they appear in the show are totally fictional.

As Kaz Rowe said in their excellent video: “These were bad people. They’re not our little meow-meows.” Exactly. They say repeatedly in the video we’ll never know most of the real, historical details about pirates. The historical Stede Bonnet was a colonist and slave owner who owned a 400-acre sugar plantation in Barbados.

I have noticed lately that whenever I Google a fictional work to research it or other writers’ criticism of it, one of the first Google suggestions is: “Was [Title] a true story?” This happened when I researched OFMD, The Thorn Birds, The House of the Spirits, or almost any other fiction I’ve written about recently. I recently saw: “Were pirates real?”

All fiction is inspired by real life in some way–sometimes only the vaguest way possible. That doesn’t make it any less than 100% fictional! As a fiction writer, I don’t understand why believing that fictional characters resemble their namesakes makes a story more interesting in any way. I think the opposite: making things up requires imagination, which is usually more interesting. I’m glad many people are at least trying to distinguish fact from fiction, though.

A common disclaimer prefacing works of fiction, even if there’s no possibility of libel lawsuits, is this: “Any real names or events are either coincidental or intentionally used totally fictitiously.”


GIF: Stede Bonnet in OFMD, wearing his golden dressing gown AKA “battle jacket” and saying happily, “Well sussed!”

Literary POV

Today on Book Riot, I published a short introduction to POV (point of view) in literature:

For my short, introductory essay, I focused on 1st, 2nd, and 3rd person. Tense is important to narrative too, but that was too complicated to get into. A lot of books are written mostly in the past tense, but they have to use past pluperfect and imperfect to describe what had already happened earlier (pluperfect) or what happened habitually (imperfect). I got way better at this as a fiction writer after taking French in high school. Bilingual writers are often great at it.

I recently read The Map of Salt and Stars, which does a great job with split timelines and POV. Nour, the first-person, present-day narrator, narrates in present tense. She also tells, in third person past, the story of Rawiya, a mapmaker from 1,000 years earlier. The setting and tense make it instantly clear which timeline we’re in. I loved it.

To recap: if the book is mostly in present tense, past actions are simply in past tense. If the book is in past tense, most of those actions that are further past have to be pluperfect or imperfect: what “had already happened” or “used to happen.” Writers have to deconstruct language and put it back together–in Derrida’s sense and many others.

I admit it can be confusing! A lot of people think To Kill a Mockingbird is narrated by 6 to 9-year-old Scout, for example. It’s first-person Scout but as an adult, remembering events when she was 6-9 years old.

Also, not to pick on Throne of Glass too often, because I enjoy the SJM coloring books even more than the novels, but it had terrible dangling participles and head-hopping. At the beginning of Crown of Midnight, Celaena is in the throne room with the King and his son, Dorian. And in the next paragraph, it’s like, He wished he could impress this girl…I was like, Who, Dorian? We’re in his attraction to Celaena now? I was just starting to get into her head, and it’s a paragraph away from the end of the chapter. He could start a whole new chapter, but no.

“Academic” Profiles

I’m not an academic, but my work gets cited and taught a bit. I now have free Google Scholar and Academia profiles with some of my citations. I recently found out I could have them without an institutional affiliation. I added some highlights. These aren’t all my publications, just the ones that get linked often. I think Google crawls the web frequently to update them. I know I have more mentions in Google Scholar that aren’t showing up here. Oh well; it can’t hurt!

Google Scholar profile

Academia.edu profile

Too Much Book Review and Orphan Black

I posted my review of Too Much: How Victorian Constraints Still Bind Women Today by Rachel Vorona Cote on my Medium. It was a very interesting read overall, with lots of citations.

I’m also coloring the Orphan Black coloring book.

As I mentioned in the caption, from the ages of 12-15 (2001-04), I wrote an unpublishable novel about human cloning. I haven’t nerded out about the structure of DNA in a while, but I researched that and much more on genetic engineering for the book. It’s interesting how I was thinking about ableism and eugenics even then, although I didn’t know the word ableism.

I mentioned cloning on Book Riot:

To use a word Cy (Jillian Weise) coined, the Neolution folks in Orphan Black seem like tryborgs to me. I checked Google & Twitter, and I think I may be the first to call Orphan Black’s Neolution tryborgs, but they totally are! Plus eugenicists of course.

Aldous Leekie’s Neolution lecture starts with an ableist joke about an ageing Plato becoming deaf and blind. He assumes of course Cosima would want to cure her eyesight. Neolution is an explicitly eugenicist venture in the show–and also obviously tryborg.