Monday, January 13, 2014

Wherein I Didn't Win the Jennifer Armentrout Fanfic Contest But Show You My Entry (Lux Series)

If you're a fan of Jennifer Armentrout/J Lynn, then you probably know that back in September she had a FanFic contest with an epic grand prize. I have always loved reading, and not too long ago, I decided to start writing. Just, give it my own go, see what I'm made of. Whatever, right? You can't get anywhere if you don't try new things.

Well I love Jen's books. So much. She is an amazing storyteller, and the characters and stories that come out of her are mind boggling. When I saw this contest, I knew I had to try. 

Now, Jen has a ton of fans, and gets a ton of new fans every day, so I was afraid that if I didn't get my butt in gear that I wouldn't make the cutoff. Of course, her fandom surprised me, and she never hit the limit on the number of submissions she was willing to accept, so maybe I could have taken longer than five days. In any case, I lost. I'm pretty bummed because the RT Convention is an AMAZING opportunity - a ton of YA and NA authors, writer workshops, chances to meet people and network. ALSO, my husband is almost done with his fourth deployment, and I could really use some me time that is a vacation and a fabulous opportunity, rolled into one.

Really bummed.

But here's a snippet of the email I sent with my submission, explaining where I was coming from, and then my submission itself. 

I wanted to write about Alex, or even Avery, because I assume the Luxen and Katy will be the most popular topics since Origin was released so recently. However, as I thought about it, I realized that I don't get Alex at all, and I spent a bunch of time yelling at Avery to buck up and tell Cam what was up. I considered Sydney, especially since I'm married to the school friend I had a crush on, but I'm so drawn to the Lux books overall. As I am short (5') and a book lover, I identify with Katy the most. However, I'm pretty sure you're going to get a ton of stories about DAEMON BABIES so I'm not going there :) Instead, I thought about poor Adam, the nice guy who was in love with the nice girl but died too soon. Why was Dee upset at prom? How did they evolve from tears at prom to spending time together planning Thanksgiving break and running away to The Smoke Hole to give Katy and Daemon alone time? I wanted to know, so I found out. 

I really wanted to take some characters and stick them in a Biggerson's, eating Pepperjack Turducken Slammers with snotty waiters in flare, or to have the whole story as something Chuck wrote, but I realized 1500 words wasn't really enough for all that. Maybe another day! 

I was terrified, but I knew I had to do it anyway. I ran up the steps to her house but stopped just outside her front door with my hand paused in midair. I sighed, and instead of knocking I ran my hand through my hair – I’d been so distracted that morning that I had forgotten to brush it – I just had a shower and ran out the door, eager to get to Dee. I couldn’t figure out why this was so difficult for me – technically we’d been seeing each other for a while – but then it was only because we thought we had to default to each other, not because we necessarily wanted to be together. I knew I had to stop thinking about it before I lost my nerve altogether, and so I knocked.

I could hear Dee’s footsteps as she approached the front door. The door opened, and there she was, in black sweatpants and a green tank top – the same shade as her beautiful eyes, but her eyes weren’t as radiant as usual. She barely looked at me, and I knew then that she was still upset about prom last night, not that I’d had any doubts that she would be. I had messed up, and let my anxiety about our relationship and my evolving feelings overshadow the night, so I panicked and ended up avoiding her for most of the night. I felt like such a jerk, and I was scared she would be done with me forever, but I couldn’t stop now, so I pressed past her and walked into her house.

“I’m sorry,” I said, pacing the living room as she came in behind me. “I’m sorry about us and I’m sorry about prom. I screwed up. I was distant and distracted and I was a jerk. I could have been better. Should have been. I’ve spent so much time lately thinking about Daemon and Katy, and about Dawson and Beth, and I let it get to me.”  She looked up at me and then sat down on the sofa, so I sat next to her and turned to the side so I could face her. I waited to see if she had anything to say, but I could tell she wasn’t ready to speak yet, so I kept speaking, mostly to fill the awkward silence. “I was nervous about prom – I knew that you had big expectations for it to be amazing and fun and perfect, and I wasn’t sure I could give that to you, or that you even wanted it to be with me. I wasn’t even sure that I was the guy you wanted to go with, or should go with.”

With that her eyes narrowed at me, and she interrupted. “Adam. I wanted to go to prom with someone who wanted to go and who wanted to go with me. If you only asked me out of some sense of obligation, that’s not what I wanted, no matter what my feelings are. I don’t want someone who thinks they have to be with me, I want someone who likes me . . . who wants me. You couldn’t even stand to be near me for most of the night.”

She sat next to me, staring straight ahead, her arms crossed angrily, her cheeks reddening, but I couldn’t speak. I couldn’t believe what I was hearing – she thought I wasn’t interested? And was she interested in me, in us, in more? I really had screwed this up. Tears started to run down her face and I knew that they were tears of anger and frustration, not of sadness. She was too strong for that.

I took a few slow deep breaths as I tried to compose myself and figure out what I wanted to say. I wondered if the truth, as hard as it would be for me to get out, would be easier. It had to be easier than upsetting Dee – we’d been friends for so long – at one point we’d thought our friendship felt familial, but I knew now that for me, that was wrong – it wasn’t like that at all – and I hoped that she felt the same. I took another deep breath and I put my hand on her face and gently turned her towards me. I stared into her eyes, her magical green eyes, and hoped I was doing the right thing. That I could finally say the right thing.

“For years it’s been expected that you and I would be together – we had no other choice, not really. But then Dawson found Beth and they fell in love and disappeared, and now Daemon has Katy. . . . I didn’t even know if you wanted to be with me. I thought that maybe I was just a temporary thing for you – someone to be with until you found a human to love. I kept thinking that you didn’t want me, that you couldn’t want me. I saw how dejected Ash felt after Daemon chose Katy, and it scared me,” I said. “I’m sorry that I’ve screwed up so badly that you can’t see my feelings. That you can’t tell that you’re more to me than you think you are.” My heart caught in my throat as I waited to see how she reacted, to find out if she felt the same.

Dee’s eyes lifted to mine, and I couldn’t believe it had taken me so long to figure out my true feelings. To realize that she was amazing, and that I was so lucky she was the one I was supposed to be with – meant to be with. I leaned towards her and slid my left hand from her cheek to the back of her neck, and I pulled her forward gently. She pressed her hands against my chest as if to stop me, and my heart seemed to falter and skip a beat – had I misread her? Did I make another mistake? I opened my mouth to speak, to stop, to apologize, to save the moment, but then her hands slid up over my shoulders and behind my neck and she leaned in. When our lips met in the middle, the kiss electrified us, and I could feel her lips smiling against mine. She turned towards me on the sofa and I moved my right hand to her waist as she deepened the kiss, opening her mouth and letting me in. My fingers brushed under the edge of her tank top and she sighed into my mouth and lay back, pulling me down with her. Her left leg wrapped around my right leg and her hands moved to the bottom of my shirt. I pulled away from the kiss and sat up a little to get my shirt off, and as I did she bit the corner of her lip and blushed. “Wait. Let’s wait. We can wait, right?” I asked nervously.

She opened her mouth to answer, when upstairs a door opened and then slammed shut. Daemon came running down the stairs through the living room, and he ran out of the front door without even pausing when – if – he’d noticed the two of us together on the sofa.

Dee sat up, her eyes widening as if she knew what was going on. “What was that about?” I asked, reaching for my t-shirt. She smiled and stood up. “Katy’s here.”

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