Author has written 6 stories for Batman Begins/Dark Knight, and Batman.
- - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - ~ THANK YOU ~ - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - -
I want to take the space here to pass along a genuine Thank You to everyone who has read or currently is reading my stories! Knowing that people are reading these stories is very fulfilling. Seeing that people take the time not only to read, but also review, is incredibly flattering, and I am genuinely humbled. You've all been so understanding and patient in waiting for story updates. I appreciate it so much, and your loyalty does more for my spirits than I can put into words.
- - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - ~ A BIT OF BACKGROUND, FOR ANYONE WHO IS CURIOUS ~ - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - -
~ Where did your pen name come from?
It literally just came to me as I was setting up my account. I don't know why it flew into my head, but it did. I tried to clear my mind, and see what else came to me, but "4ofCups" kept returning. It wasn't until I finally decided to use it that I looked up its meaning. It signifies someone who isn't happy with things as they are, and feels disengaged. That sums me up socially to a T.
~ Who are you, anyway?
I graduated from one of the Seven Sisters colleges in the US with a double major in Economics and Germanic Studies. I work in an extremely male-dominated field, with few female peers. I like animals much better than I like people. If I'd been born a man, I'm certain I'd have been a prolific serial killer. Writing about demented, psychotic clowns seems to help channel a bit of the rage I carry with me. I'm a female INTJ, but I genuinely don't like employing sarcasm if it would hurt anyone's feelings. Taurus sun / Leo moon / Cancer rising. Life path 25/7. Enneagram 5. DiSC Practitioner. Chaotic Neutral. Card of destiny is 4 of spades... just like Heath Ledger. My ideal man is imaginary: an amalgam of Heath Ledger's Joker, Hannibal Lecter and Dexter Morgan. (Maybe it's a good thing no one like that exists.)
~ What is the biggest challenge of publishing on this site?
Hands down, it's the finality of real-time publishing. Once you publish a chapter, it's out there. Dedicated readers may even read it within the first 15 minutes (or less!) of publishing, and -- while flattering -- that can create a significant hurdle if you decide to take your plot in a different direction than you'd originally planned. You can't retroactively delete chapters because you don't like a plot line or you want to change the role a character plays, because your storyline has already been read. Writing online has been a real lesson in commitment, because you have no choice but to stand by what you've already written. Sometimes, it means coming up with silly plot lines to explain away situations or events that you wish you hadn't published... but that's just how it goes. It teaches writers the value of mapping out their stories ahead of time, which forces more critical thinking. I'm guessing that a lot of Deus Ex Machina-type of endings in some stories were the product of piecemeal publishing: sometimes the only way to resolve a story predicated upon a regrettable foundation is to come up with an implausible ending.
~ What advice do you have for writers, new or seasoned?
I would advise 3 actions for everyone:
1. I cannot possibly overstate the importance of this: always, ALWAYS put a date on EVERYTHING THAT YOU PUBLISH ONLINE. It doesn't matter if you think what you've written is good or bad. DO IT. They say that imitation is the sincerest form of flattery... but there's a thin line between flattery and outright plagiarism. Over the years, I have been genuinely shocked to read portions of others' writings that were unapologetically lifted from what I've written, right down to very specific details of some scenes. As long as someone credits another person with their own original idea, it's all well and good. However, I happened to find people passing portions of my work off as their own, and that's incredibly disheartening. There is a level of trust we all put in each other on this site, but not everyone honors it, sadly. Protect your work, for your own state of mind. Put a date on the end of any chapter, so that there is no question as to when you wrote something.
2. How often do all of us monitor traffic stats after publishing something? Let's be brutally honest: while seeing that people are reading your work is encouraging, you know that's not what you really want. My second piece of advice is to leave a review for everything you read on this site -- without fail You don't have to review every chapter (though it is quite appreciated by the author), but at least let the writer know that you've acknowledged the work they put into their writing. I'm not speaking for myself, so much as I am for new writers who pour their hearts into something, not to get a single review. Think about that: that's like getting dressed up with hours of preparation and anticipation to go to a school dance, only to end up on the bleachers without a single person talking to you. If the work is fantastic, give the author praise. If the work is atrocious, give them encouragement, and point out something positive. Christ knows there are enough anonymous trolls on the Internet already; don't be just another person who can exercise cruelty for sport. Be kind. Always be kind. You don't have to lie, but there's always a way to help someone. I've read unnecessarily cruel reviews for new writers' stories, and my heart breaks for them. Remember... true writers are more prone to depression than the rest of the population. Many people use writing as their therapy. Leaving a kind word for someone may give them more hope than you may know.
3. This is the toughest one of all: don't be ashamed of your writing. If it came from you, and it felt real to you when you created it, OWN IT. If you want to write saccharine love stories where everyone has lots of happy babies and lives happily ever after, write it. If you want to write sci-fi / fantasy crossover sex stories where unicorns fornicate with transformers in the shape of bicycles that double as a kitchen sink garbage disposals, write it. If you want to write violent stories with gore and pain and suffering and torture, write it. (Better to write it than to do it in real life.) Don't take down stories after you've written them. Even if you look back and groan and think, "Oh jeez, that was such an embarrassing phase, I can't believe I wrote that!", never delete a story out of shame. Life is about progression. You're not the same person you were a year ago. You're not supposed to be. Don't delete a product of who you were because you have evolved. It's a record of a period of your life that is worth marking. What you think is embarrassing in retrospect could just be the very story that someone loves enough to inspire them to write. Don't blow out any candle you've lit because you don't like the color or shape of the candle anymore; someone else you don't even know may be depending on its light.
~ Over eight years to write "Not Playing with a Full Deck". OVER EIGHT YEARS. What gives?
When I started the story in late September 2008, I had far fewer job responsibilities than I now do. Since starting this story, I've lived in 5 different residences, held 5 different job titles, and I do my best to navigate the waters of clinical depression, which can be crippling at times. There was a period where I went an entire year without a single story update, then two other years where I only wrote 2 chapters. It was always my intention to write the story to its completion, but I wanted to make sure that each chapter written had purpose and continuity to the story. I didn't want to write chapters, just so I could tick off the box on a "to-do" list. If they weren't going to have merit, I wouldn't write them at all. The size of the spreadsheets I had to maintain to keep all the plot lines on track were no laughing matter. Every single chapter required hours of research before the first word was even typed. Hands down, completing this story is THE biggest accomplishment in my life. I'm more proud of this story than of my college degree and my career -- combined. The length of time it took to complete the story proves that nothing is over until you say it is. I would recommend that no one ever abandon the stories they start to write. You owe it to yourself to complete them.
~ Is there going to be a sequel to "Not Playing with a Full Deck"?
~ When will you start the sequel?
As soon as I can get a few more accomplishments under my belt in my private life, because the sequel will require as much work as "NPWAFD". That story was very dark and very violent. Decidedly twisted. Any sequel needs to play out in accordance with the tone that has been set. I have a number of ideas of where I want to take the story, and it won't be a trip to Candyland.
~ Will a sequel take as long to write as it took you to write "NPwaFD"?
Sweet Jesus, it better not. I don't have the stamina for another 8-year writing job like that.
~ How long does it take to write a single chapter of "Dear Joker"?
Longer than it appears. On average, about 4 to 4 1/2 hours of work goes into every chapter. (Some require a lot more time than that.) Half of the time it takes to write the chapters is spent on the formatting. MS Word automatically corrects purposeful misspellings and random capitalization (the hallmark of the Joker's scattered thought pattern), so I draft the skeleton of the story in Word, then upload it into the FF word editor. This is where all the editing takes place. It's very time-consuming to capitalize random letters, and select certain (hidden) phrases with bold font, but every bit of formatting is done with precision and with a purpose. Often I increase the length of the letter between 50-75% with additional thoughts after it's been uploaded into the FF editor.
~ Why does it seem to take so long for updates to "Dear Joker"?
Unfortunately, my career is fairly demanding. In the 17 years I've been with my current employer, I've worked a 40-hour work week only about 3 times. Overtime is expected, and it's not compensated. (See what some of you have to look forward to when you're out of school?) I'm in front of a computer for at least 8 hours at work every day, usually working with multiple spreadsheets in a reduced-size font, so there are many days when I literally cannot see font on a computer screen when I return home from work. I've written a few chapters of "Dear Joker" with tears running down my face, because my eyes are so strained that they sting horribly. On the weekends, I run errands to finish the things I couldn't do during the week, so finding spare time to write is very challenging sometimes.
~ How do you select which letters to answer in each new chapter of "Dear Joker"?
Up until Chapter 37, I was trying to be fair by answering every question in the exact order in which they were received. However, this is creating a tremendous bottleneck. Also, many of the letters have the same theme: namely, written from the point of view of either a reader or a fictitious character who is infatuated with the Joker and either proclaims it to the Joker, or says something to provoke him. Now, don't get me wrong -- I *completely* understand the appeal of wanting to engage the Joker directly in some frisky banter. However, there is a finite number of creative responses that I can summon to the same type of question. I also want to provide a bit of variety for the readers. Please know that if I pass over your letter, it's nothing personal! Going forward, I'm trying to pick the letters that will offer different replies.
~ Does it get on your nerves when readers write only a brief comment as a review?
Never. I THRIVE ON REVIEWS. Truly, they mean a lot to me. It's great to know that people are reading my stories, but it means so much more to get feedback, as validation that someone connected with something in the Joker's reply. I'd rather get a review of "Hellz yeah!" or "Ha ha, a bat-schlong!" than nothing at all. However, if someone waxes philosophic about something I wrote, or if they expound with a lot of detail, it's the literary equivalent of a Girl Scout Samoa cookie.
~ Do you reply to all reviews?
I do everything I can to reply to everyone, but I know I am HORRIBLY BEHIND. Like... years behind. If a reply is just a straight-up question to the Joker, I won't reply until the question comes up and becomes a chapter. However, if a reader has chosen to spend their time reading one of my stories, and furthermore takes time to comment on it, I feel that I owe them a thank you for the courtesy of feedback. (The Joker wouldn't recommend replying to every review, but Ms. Grace would. I think that she's got the better hold of polite etiquette of the two, so I prefer to reply to everyone. Don't tell the Joker I just dissed him.) However, sometimes (for the time-constraint issues I mentioned above) it may take a while for me to reply. If I have not yet replied to one of your reviews -- no matter for which story they were submitted -- please know that I appreciate your feedback and will send you a note as quickly as I can. However, if a reviewer is not signed in when they leave their review, I won't have a link to click on to send a direct reply. Also, if you've disabled Private Messaging (PM) in your profile, I will not be able to reply to you.
Unfortunately, in addition to having a smothering corporate job that sucks away all my time, I have had security issues with my email account and I lost a great number of review notifications. I fear that there are many, many reviews I haven't replied to. If you're reading this and you left me a review and received no acknowledgement thereof, I apologize sincerely! Please know that I value EVERY comment, and I appreciate readers' willingness to reach out. I will say a mass "THANK YOU!!" to everyone who reviews, especially if yours was one that never received a reply. I truly feel awful for that. I was raised with manners, and it troubles me to think that anyone may think that I've ignored them intentionally or that I take their time and praise for granted. Not at all -- I am so very grateful for all readers. :)
~ How much do you write in your replies to readers' reviews?
I write as much as my time allows. Please know that a short reply from me does *not* mean that I don't appreciate your input. I appreciate all comments. Particularly the positive ones. However, for the sake of time-management, I'm afraid I just can't reply to all reviews to the degree for which I wish I had the time.
- - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - ~ ARTWORK FOR MY STORIES ~ - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - -
One of the greatest compliments I could receive is to see that a story of mine has inspired a reader to submit a graphic depiction of a particular scene. To me, having a reader create an original work of art based on something I've written -- whether dramatic or comedic -- is about the highest form of praise I can think of. If you are so inspired, PLEASE feel free to let me know if you've drawn, painted or created anything based on my writings! I am thrilled that there are some very talented readers who were generous enough to share their drawings with me! I invite you to view them below -- they're wonderful.
Additionally, if anyone else feels compelled to draw something inspired by a story of mine, I would be flattered if you'd submit it to me. I will link to your pictures in my profile below, so that all other readers can enjoy them as well! Much to my frustration, this site deletes all links to fans' artwork. I wish this weren't the case, because readers put a significant amount of work into their creations, and they deserve to be seen. However...
...let's see if we can find a way around that...
To view all of the artwork created by fellow FanFiction.net writer Kichi (check out her stories!), who was generous enough to take the time to make the following drawings and share them on her Deviant Art account, here are the instructions for viewing it. Thanks, Kichi, for creating this fantastic visuals for some of my stories! Navigate to Deviant Art's main website, look up her username "Kichisama666", click on her profile, click on the Gallery tab at the top of the page, then use the search box to search for the following works by their name, shown in bold font. Many were inspired by "Not Playing with a Full Deck" (NPwaFD), the story of the Joker exacting revenge on Lois Lane for an insulting broadcast about him. Thanks, Kichi, for creating this fantastic visuals for the story!
1. Drawn for "NPwaFD" story // Who knew that an abused, battered and scarred body could look so enticing? Color for 4ofCups
2. Drawn for "NPwaFD" story // Here's a great picture of the Joker taunting Lois Lane... his favorite pastime in this story: Loisssss...
3. Drawn for "NPwaFD" story // Here he is looking quite badass, yet with a hint of a come-hither look in B&W: not playing with a full deck
4. Drawn for "NPwaFD" story // As Lois is pushed further to the brink of guilt-induced madness, the Joker enjoys shoving her closer and closer to the edge with his verbal digs: NPwaFD Lois' Guilt COLOR
5. Drawn for "NPwaFD" story // Make sure you enlarge this one to see all the detail! This one is from Chapter 47, where the Joker confronts his new hostage -- the Batman! not playing with a full deck47
6. Drawn for "Dear Joker" story // This drawing depicts a scene described by the Joker in his reply to Dr. Crane's letter in Chapter 17: Joker germs for 4ofups
7. Drawn for "Dear Joker" story // This drawing illustrates a suggestion from the Joker's reply to Dr. Crane's other half, the Scarecrow, in Chapter 21: sackcrow for 4ofcups
8. Drawn for "mY fAVoritE tHinGS" // Look at what she came up with for this little ditty the Joker likes to sing: my favorite things for 4ofcups
I was also extremely flattered to receive another submission from Absoluteroro, who created a great picture based on Chapter 42, where the Joker disrobes in front of Lois. Unfortunately, it doesn't appear to be visible any longer on the corresponding Deviant Art account, sadly.
The wonderful fellow writer Lauralot (check out her publishings on AO3) also submitted her own work, based on the Joker answering an advice question she submitted, but I can't find an active link to that one, either. :(
Here is a truly jaw-dropping graphic manipulation, based on the pivotal moment in Chapter 5 ("A New Insult"), when the Joker sees the broadcast of Metropolis Live, which gets the whole story rolling. Thank you, lisbuff! I continue to be in awe, every single time I look at this! Trust me, people -- it's worth typing out what I've written below into a blank URL box:
http: SLASH SLASH i369 DOT photobucket DOT com SLASH albums SLASH oo140 SLASH lisbuff2 SLASH jokerani.gif
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