LUNACY'S FAN FICTION REVIEWS
FREQUENTLY ASKED QUESTIONS
Compiled by Lunacy - firstname.lastname@example.org
Last modified: November 03 2012 12:33:13
How do I get my story reviewed?
I do not review all the stories that are written nor do I review stories on demand. I review only stories that I personally enjoy or find notable for some other reason. Your best chance of getting a story reviewed is simply to post it on the Web and make sure it appears in one of the XWP indexes. Reviewers monitor the various fanfic archives and the indexes for new stories and read those as they appear.
Currently I am primarily reading Xena Warrior Princess fanfic and uber-Xena or original fiction inspired by the show. I also read Star Trek Voyager alternative fanfic pairing Janeway and Seven.
What happens if my story doesn't get reviewed?
There are a number of Xena review services now available so if I don't review a story one of those other services might. Take a look at the list of review sites and consider contacting them about reviewing your story. Keep in mind that like myself those reviewers will typically only review stories they personally enjoy so if your story doesn't appeal to them it still may not get reviewed. It is NOT the end of the world if your fiction is not reviewed NOR does it necessarily mean that you're a bad writer or that the story is awful. Reviewers, like every other reader out there, have their own taste in fiction. Even though a reviewer may not have liked your story enough to review it, other readers may love it so first and foremost make sure YOU have fun writing your story and then when you post it make sure it's listed in the indexes so readers can find it.
On a personal note, my web site includes a lot of reviews because I started reviewing Xena fanfic back in 1996. However, I'm not as active in the fandom anymore and I'm not reading every story out there anymore either so DEFINITELY do not assume your story is bad simply because I may not have reviewed it. I may not have even read the story at all. With ubers in particular, if I'm not interested in the setting or the time period or the pairing you chose to write about I will most probably not read it because it simply is not the type of fiction I'm likely to enjoy. This site IS very much a reflection of MY personal taste in Xena fanfic - NOT necessarily what's BEST in the genre.
I just read a great story but I don't see it reviewed at your site. Why not?
If the story was just released within the past 1-2 weeks it could be that I simply have not read it yet. If the story is unfinished it could be that I'm waiting for it to finish. I do normally review unfinished stories but if I'm uncertain about the direction a story is going in I will wait until the story is complete before making a decision as to whether or not I will review or even read it. The third possibility is that the story may simply not have been what I enjoy in Xena fanfic. You're welcome to e-mail me about the story to draw my attention to it in the event I may not have seen it yet. However, if it appeared in a fanfic index 99.9% of the time I would have seen the story.
Also keep in mind that as a reader YOU can review the story yourself. There are review sites that accept independent reviews from readers. There's also a site now that post reviews by bards. You don't have to wait for me to review a story - you can get the word out to the fanfic community yourself.
Can I post my story at the LUNACY'S FAN FICTION REVIEWS site?
No. This site is STRICTLY for reviews written by me of fanfic archived elsewhere on the Web. I do not host fan fiction. I include links at the end of the reviews to the locations where the stories can be found. The indexes maintain lists of the various fanfic archives currently available. You should visit those to identify one or more where you would like to post your fanfic and to find out what the site(s) policy is concerning story submissions.
Can I contribute reviews to your site?
Nope. I'm the one and only Big Cahuna at this site :) All the reviews here are written by me. However, there are other review sites that accept independent reviews. Check the list of review sites for those.
Do you ever change your reviews after you intially post them?
Yes. This happens most often with unfinished stories. As the story progresses I may alter the review to reflect my feelings about the story at a later point. I may give the story progressively better reviews. If the story goes in a direction I don't enjoy I might end up removing the review. Occasionally I've also changed the reviews of finished stories after rereading them again some time after they were posted.
There are certain bards you never review. Why is that?
There are bards who are interested in a type of fiction that I am not. It's as simple as that and there's NOTHING wrong with that. It doesn't mean I hate those bards. Everyone has different tastes in fiction - some people like mysteries, others prefer romances, some hate stories with sad endings, some don't mind those, some like fiction that is very realistic, some like their fiction to be escapist, some enjoy stories that are plain erotica, others prefer more emotional love stories. If you happen to be a bard whose taste in fiction differs significantly from that of a reviewer chances are that reviewer isn't going to be recommending your stories.
Also - there are more and more bards out there writing series in which each of their successive stories is strongly tied into whatever happened in the previous entry in the series. Again - NOTHING wrong with that, people love sequels - myself included, BUT chances are if the first story in a series wasn't something a reviewer enjoyed that reviewer isn't likely to enjoy successive entries. If all of the bard's stories are part of that series, share a similar premise and feel, then chances are strong that reviewer isn't going to be reviewing that bard - doesn't mean that bard's readers aren't gonna be REALLY happy to see the series continue. There are some very talented writers with popular stories and series out there I've never reviewed. Always keep in mind that a reviewer's recommendation isn't necessarily indicative of the abilities of a writer or the worth of a story. The major thing a review is really indicative of is the tastes of the reviewer.
I maintain a web site where I host some of the stories you've reviewed and I would like to make available your reviews of those stories to my visitors. Can I do that?
I ask that webmasters NOT include any of my actual reviews at their sites. This is because I want to make sure my reviews maintain a standard look to them and that they remain available only through my pages. I do make changes to reviews on occasion and I don't want to have to keep track of where different reviews are. However, any webmaster/bard is welcomed to LINK to any of my reviews. I use anchors in my review pages so that you can link directly to a specific review by using a URL in this format:http://lunacyreviews.com/filename#Story_TitleFirst comes the main URL for the site - http://lunacyreviews.com Then the filename where the review is located followed by the # symbol and followed after that by the story title. The story title should have the first letter in each word capitalized, all the words should be connected by an underline symbol and leading articles are included at the end in parentheses. Here are some examples:The story HEAVEN DOWN HERE is at:
The story THE CABIN is at:
The story I AM AMAZON is at:
If a URL isn't working you can use your Web browser to go to the review, then look at the source page where you'll see the actual HTML (most web browsers have a feature that let you do this) and see what the anchor looks like. The anchors are at the beginning of each of the reviews and look like this:<A NAME="All_Through_The_Night"></A>
You can then simply add this part to the end of a URL to make sure you're linking to the right anchor:http://lunacyreviews.com/loststories.php#All_Through_The_Night
If you link to any of the reviews or any of the pages at my site I would appreciate you letting me know because I do keep a list of sites that link to mine so that when I make changes that affect those links I can notify the appropriate webmasters.
My story isn't on the Web yet but if I send it to you will you review it for me?
Nope. I consider stories for review only AFTER they've been published on the web. If you simply want feedback on a story you're working on I would urge you to consider contacting a couple of the volunteers in the BETA READERS DIRECTORY so they can point out any technical problems with the story and let you know what they think about it overall.
I've created a piece of fanfic art - will you announce it through your site?
I announce new fanfic art on my WHAT'S NEW page regardless of whether or not I've reviewed the story that inspired the art. If I have reviewed the story I also include links to the art from the appropriate story review. I do reserve the right NOT to announce new art when I find it very explicit or I'm uncomfortable with it for any other reason.
If you have a new fanfic art piece and want to make me aware of it please e-mail me at email@example.com with the URL for the site the art is located at. Whenever possible I like to use a link that brings the specific art piece directly up. However, I prefer NOT to link directly to a graphic because that doesn't give visitors going from my site to that other site any indication that they are indeed accessing a new site and it doesn't give them a chance to then explore that other site. I encourage artists and webmasters who host art to either post the individual pieces on separate pages with links on those pages to the rest of their site OR to use HTML name tags and anchors on their pages so someone linking to their site like myself can direct visitors to a specific art piece on a page featuring several. If you are new to HTML and don't quite know how to do this e-mail me and I'll try to help.
Also, make sure to let the art indexers know about your new piece so they can list at their site. The art indexes will list any new Xena art not just fanfic art. I ONLY announce fanfic art at this site.
My story is getting published - will you include the information on your COMMERCIAL REVIEWS page?
If your story was initially released as a Xena fanfic uber title and I reviewed it then yes I'll transfer a copy of the review to the NOVELS page. I'll add the information as soon as it is possible for interested readers to start ordering the title.
I've saved the pages from the Lunacy site on my PC and would like to read them offline but many of the links don't work. Why is that?
I use "local links" throughout my site. These are links that point to specific sections of a page so that, for instance, when you see a link at the end of a review to the sequel for a story, clicking on that link will take you to the page where the sequel's review is located and will automatically place you at the exact spot on the page where the review starts. I also use a naming system for the files that has them all ending with the extension .php. I have to use that extension in order to use a feature called server side includes or SSI that my web hosting service (Simplenet) makes available. Unfortunately, the web browser Internet Explorer does not seem to recognize local links in .php files. If the extension on the files were .htm the local links would work after being saved in your PC but with the .php extension Explorer wont be able to show you any local link. You'll get a message saying it can't find the file. Explorer will be able to read my pages without any problem when you're online and actively visiting the Lunacy site but if you're offline and trying to read the saved Lunacy pages in your PC those local links will not work. You can do one of two things. You can either download and install the Netscape Navigator browser and use it to read the pages offline. Or you can devote several days to changing the filename extensions from .php to .htm and changing ALL the local links throughout those saved pages so that instead of pointing to .php files they then point to .htm files. I would recommend you go the Netscape route if you insist on saving and using Lunacy pages in your PC on a regular basis since I update those pages constantly.
I'm looking for a story. Can you help me find it?
First thing to do is read my article SEARCHING FOR XENA FAN FICTION - I discuss there a number of different sources and strategies you can use to find a story. We're extremely fortunate in Xena fanfic in that there are a number of excellent indexes and guides and other similar sources people can use to find fanfic. If after trying some of those methods you still can't find the story you're looking for the next step is to post your question in one of the Xena mailing lists - especially those that often discuss fanfic and include fanfic announcements. I will be glad to help you if I can and all these other methods fail BUT I advice you to post your question to a mailing list first because if you just ask me it may be a while before I read your e-mail. If I can't remember the story right away it may take me more time after that to try to find it. When you post your fanfic question to a mailing list it will reach hundreds of people at once - it may reach me at the same time too because I subscribe to some of those mailing lists but the point is that you'll have a better chance of getting the correct answer right away because you'll be asking lots of fanfic addicts instead of just one :)
I'd like to read one of the stories in your LOST STORIES page or some other story that is apparently no longer on the web. Is there any way I can get that story?
The most direct route to take is probably to ask the bard for the story if the person still participates in the Xenaverse and there's an e-mail address readily available (you might be able to get an e-mail address from another story written by the bard). Another approach (and sometimes a quicker one) is simply to post a message in one of the mailing lists or in one of the other Xena discussion venues requesting that someone send you the story. Unless the story was a very obscure one not widely read, it will likely appear in your mailbox within a matter of minutes.
On an aside - when you read a story you like MAKE SURE TO SAVE A COPY IN YOUR OWN PC!!!. There is NO guarantee that the story will remain available on the web. In the next few years as the Xena TV series draws to a close it is very probable that web sites will close and bards will leave the Xenaverse. That will likely lead to the disappearance of more and more stories. I always urge bards to keep their stories available but they don't always do that. My advice if you want to have your favorite stories available long-term is to dedicate a few weekends to scouting the various sites and saving those favorite titles. Then get into the habit of automatically saving any new ones you enjoy.
What are all these terms I keep hearing about in reference to fanfic - uber, crossover, slash, alternative, Merpups?
Check out my DEFINITIONS page.
What are the best fanfic stories on the Web?
If you ask ten different Xenites this you'll get ten different lists. People have different taste in fanfic so what is boring to one may be brilliant to someone else. I keep a list of those stories I've given a HIGHEST RECOMMENDATION to - there are a number of classics on that list that long-time Xenite readers seem to universally love but there are MANY other OUTSTANDING stories out there and throughout my site. My advice - don't limit yourself to any list or any one person's recommendations. Read widely and develop your own taste in fanfic.
What things should I consider in getting my story ready for posting on the Web?
Please take a look at my article POSTING YOUR FAN FICTION STORY ON THE WEB for advice on this.
Is there anyone who can help me proofread my story so that it's as good as it can be?
I maintain a BETA READERS DIRECTORY listing a number of volunteers who are willing to help bards with their stories. These beta readers can proofread your story to catch any spelling or grammatical errors. They can also provide more intensive feedback on the plot, characterizations, etc. Make sure before contacting any of the beta readers to read the document SUGGESTIONS FOR BARDS USING THE X:WP BETA READERS DIRECTORY.
I found a story that reads suspiciously like one I wrote. I think my story was plagiarized. What can I do?
The easiest form of plagiarism to identify is the word-for-word variety. If a section of your story appears in another story exactly as you wrote it - word-for-word - that's a pretty cut and dry case. However, keep in mind that with 3,500+ Xena fanfic stories out there it's inevitable for stories to have some similarities. It's not inconceivable for bards to use in their stories short descriptions or dialogue exchanges that may in fact be almost if not exactly the same. For instance - take a look at the following:"Gabrielle please get on the horse."
"No Xena - I prefer to walk, thank you."
Keeping in mind the number of stories that have similar scenarios simply because it has long been part of the Xena canon that Xena rides Argo and Gabrielle prefers to walk beside her - it is entirely possible that two bards could come up with this exchange independently of one another. If two stories simply share a common exchange like this one consisting of a line or two, that is not likely to be proof of plagiarism in most people's opinion. If entire paragraphs are the same or a number of lines throughout the stories are the same or if there's only one small section that's the same but it's a very unique section not likely to have been created independently by two different bards - then the plagiarism argument becomes stronger.
Plagiarism becomes even more difficult to prove when the writing in the two stories is NOT the same but the plot or characters are similar. Because Xena fanfic revolves around the same characters in similar settings and situations it's a given that story scenarios are likely to resemble one another. Even uber stories can legitimately resemble one another because those are by their very nature as ubers typically based on the same character types and plot situations. Xena is an action hero so it follows that you're gonna find ubers which have the uber-Xena in an action-heavy role as a secret agent or police detective or outlaw or something similarly action-oriented.
When the plagiarism is not word-for-word very often it's a judgement call on the part of readers to decide whether or not the similarities are intentional. One or two common similarities may not be but if the stories share something that's rather different or unique or if there are a great deal of similarities then it may very well be a case of plagiarism.
When word-for-word plagiarism is involved my advice to bards is that they immediately contact the webmaster hosting the story so that it's removed. In your e-mail to the webmaster include the relevant passages that were copied - particularly if the stories are long. You may want to notify the XWP fanfic indexers and reviewers so that these can remove the story listing from their sites if they have included it there. Let them know as well which passages were plagiarized because they will likely want proof of the plagiarism before removing a story listing. What further action to take against the plagiarist is up to you. The webmaster/indexers/reviewers may choose to name the person or not depending on their individual policies. If you have your own web site or subscribe to mailing lists you can choose to go public with the information through those forums or not - up to you. My advice if you do decide to go public with it, however, is to first make an effort to confront the plagiarist privately to try to get all your facts straight.
If the plagiarism is not word-for-word I would STRONGLY encourage you to get the opinion of other readers - not just one other person but a group and not just friends. You want people who can look at the two stories and be honest with you about whether they think the similarities constitute plagiarism or not. If you want to publicly confront someone about this type of plagiarism I would also advise you to be VERY VERY certain about the whole situation first. Word-for-word plagiarism can't be denied but this second type can sometimes be a matter of opinion. Your primary aim with this type of plagiarism if you feel very strongly that your story was indeed plagiarized is to try to convince the webmaster who's hosting the second story to remove it.
I've noticed a number of bards are now getting published. How can I go about getting my story published?
First of all one VERY IMPORTANT POINT ABOUT COMMERCIAL PUBLISHING. You cannot publish a story that features the Xena and Gabrielle characters from the Xena television series, nor any of the other characters that are unique to that series. Renaissance Pictures and Studios USA own those characters and if you attempt to commercially publish stories featuring those characters without their permission you will be in copyright violation and will likely get sued. The stories that are getting published are uber stories that although INSPIRED by the Xena television series, feature ORIGINAL characters. Uber characters may resemble those in the TV series, may have a similar relationship, may even behave like them up to a point but the TV characters have unique traits that if present in your story could result in copyright infringement. The people who created Xena do not hold a copyright on the concept of a female warrior or the notion of two female friends traveling around, or even the idea of having two heroines in a story - one tall with blue eyes, the other a shorter, green-eyed blonde. Xena's chakram, however, is a very unique, identifiable trait of the character - as is her war cry. If your story featured a female warrior with those traits and you tried to get it published you'd likely be setting yourself up for trouble.
You could also have problems if you published commercially a story which featured TOO many similarities to the Xena TV series - if you had a female warrior in ancient times meeting this young bard-wannabee and traveling around with her - occasionally running into Hercules and the Greek gods. Those characters may not be called Xena and Gabrielle in your story but the similarities are such that legally the Xena copyright-owners could have a case against you.
There are certain types of stories, like parodies, which I believe can be published even when these include characters copyrighted to others. However, I'm NOT familiar with the legalities of this. You should seek advice from people in the publishing business if you're curious about this.
Now, if you do have a story which you feel you can legitimately publish then what's the mechanism for doing that? Right now there are a couple of new small publishers, JUSTICE HOUSE PUBLISHING and RENAISSANCE ALLIANCE PUBLISHING, that are showing interest in publishing fanfic bards. For information on their policies and submission process visit their websites at:
Justice House Publishing
Renaissance Alliance Publishing
Trying to get your story published by one of the larger, better known commercial publishing houses is EXTREMELY difficult and often requires that you submit your story through a literary agent. For more information on how to get published commercially, particularly if you're gonna try this route, visit your local library or bookstore and get yourself a book on the topic. Be aware also that there are traditional publishing houses that will pay YOU as the author for the right to publish your book and will pay you a percentage of sales - and there are "vanity presses" that will publish a book for you but charge YOU a fee for doing so. If you're aim is to eventually go commercial with your writing your best course of action is to educate yourself on all the aspects of the publishing industry.
Is it better to post a story in parts or wait until it's finished?
It completely depends on the bard - what may be best for one bard, may not be best for the other. There are advantages and disadvantages to either approach. Here are some things to consider:
- If you post in parts you can start posting your story right away when you're most exited about it. However, if your story starts out slow or you don't get the reaction you wanted right away this may discourage you from finishing the story and/or may result in you losing readers who wont bother with the updates in weeks to come because you didn't grab their attention with those first parts. Some readers wont read serialized stories until those are finished.
- If you post in parts you can get feedback on how the story is going as you're writing which may help you to identify problems immediately instead of having to go back and change a story once it's finished and you realize that something didn't work for readers. On the other hand, reader feedback (or lack thereof) before a story is finished may cause you to loose your focus taking a story in a direction you didn't plan and aren't happy with simply because you think you aren't pleasing the readers. An alternative many bards turn to is the use of beta readers - they ask a few readers to read and provide feedback as the story is being written but don't actually release the story on the Web until it is finished. You can find volunteers willing to beta read for you in the BETA READERS DIRECTORY. Something else to consider when it comes to readers and serialized posting is that few readers will go back and actually reread parts of a story once they've already read those SO when you're posting in parts even if the feedback you get causes you to rethink the story, go back and change something chances are most of your readers wont go back and reread. It's important to get those parts that are posted on the Web as fine-tuned as possible the first time they're posted.
- Once you start posting an unfinished story there's more pressure to continue writing it, to write it at a faster pace and to actually finish it. Readers may contact you asking for more parts or for more frequent updates. Some bards like this because it keeps them on their toes forcing them to write. Some bards dislike the pressure and start feeling used when readers just write asking for more parts. Bards typically are happiest posting in parts when they're the types of writers who update frequently (readers are content that way) OR, if they don't update frequently, when they are perfectly happy posting at their own rate and don't allow reader pressure to get to them.
- Serialized posting keeps your story in the "public eye" for a longer period of time. If you post a completed story the index and review sites will announce it that day - you may yourself announce it on the mailing lists that day and that's it. If you post a story in parts the index and review sites may mention it each time it is updated and you could post an announcement about the new part in mailing lists each time it's updated.
- If you decide to post in parts you should feel confident first that you'll be able to update the story with some frequency (ideally every few days) and that you'll finish the story. If you start posting a story and then a month goes by before you update it chances are good you'll loose readers who wont remember what your story was about by the time you update it and wont bother to go back to the first part trying to refresh their memory. When you start posting a story you enter into a sort of UNOFFICIAL agreement with readers that you're gonna finish that story. If you don't chances are good readers will loose confidence in you and will be less likely to read any other stories you write in the future for fear you wont finish those either.
- When you start posting a story in parts - particularly if you plan for it to be a long story - you run the risk of your story and the TV series going in very different directions. That may matter to you or not depending on how close your story reflects what's happening in the TV series. Just be aware that if you start a serialized story based on some event in the show, a few episodes later that event may have been revealed as a hoax or illusion or may no longer be relevant for some other reason but may still be a big part of your story. This type of scenario will tend to lessen the impact of your story. With a story like this, if you had released the finished product all at once at the right time the impact on readers would have been greater.
- From a reviewer's point-of-view, finished stories are much easier to review and at least with me tend to get better reviews simply because the story can be judged as a finished story. If I only have part one of a story - that part could be OUTSTANDING but I have no way of knowing what direction the story is going to go in so I'll tend to hold back on the critical acclaim 'til the story is done.
- Keep in mind that a successful serialized story tends to have a different flow than what the same story would have if presented as a finished product. Writers who've become known for delivering high quality serialized stories typically release updates that read like mini-stories in themselves. When you release a story in its entirety parts of that story may have very slow chapters but that's ok because the story leads up to a climax and the reader will get there in one sitting. When you're doing a serialized story, in order to keep your readers wanting more you ideally don't want to have a number of slow updates over a matter of days or weeks because the reader will loose interest so you may have to throw in some extra scenes in there that you wouldn't normally include in the completed story just to make the updates INDIVIDUALLY interesting. You should also try to avoid very short updates of just a few paragraphs because again those typically wont be satisfying for the readers. If you only have a couple of paragraphs it will probably be best to wait until you have a completed chapter or two.
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