Sunday, July 4, 2010

Review of "The Fandom Writer"

Since Jenny, 50 Foot Ant, and others have been posting reviews of Nicky Pacione's writing, I thought I'd take this opportunity to post a review that my ex-wife Joanna and I did back in February of 2007. This was first posted on Jenny's Xanga blog:

(All quotes and characters used under the "fair use" provisions of U.S. copyright law.)

Intro by Jenny: I've been sick this week, and my sister is visiting and playing nursemaid. She found the copy of "The Fandom Writer" I had left on my desk. When I walked into kitchen this morning, the first thing she said was, "Who wrote this? This is horrible." I agree with her. Because this piece is so "special", I have brought in a couple of guests to help with the review. I'll let them introduce themselves.

Joanna: Hi there, I'm Joanna Hollins, and this is my husband Todd.

Todd: Howdy, folks.

Joanna: We are both alive and well despite being chased around a creepy old asylum by a horde of tiny blood-sucking spiders. I'm so sorry I talked you into that adventure, Todd.

Todd: No worries, honey. You're not the one to blame for that fiasco.

Joanna: Good. Let's get started. Today we are reviewing "The Fandom Writer" by Nickolaus Pacione.

"She was a horror writer, but one that didn’t write of characters who weren't her own and bastardized the characters of a writer who didn’t agree with she did."

Joanna: I'm puzzled. That sentence contains a double negative, so it reads that "she" only wrote about her own characters. That doesn't jibe with the rest of the story, because "she" is continually referred to as a fanfiction writer.

Todd: You're right. That sentence is also awkwardly written, contains "that" instead of "who," and is missing a word near the end.

"Her name was Jane Rae Brite, and she liked to write what they called slash fiction..."

Joanna: Jane Rae? Brite? Is this supposed to be real people fic?

Todd: Yes, Nick thinks he's getting back at a couple of real authors by using their names.

Joanna: Isn't that illegal?

Todd: I don't know about that, but it is childish and unprofessional.

Joanna: I've done stupid things in the past -- you know, when I agreed to devote eight months of my life to a show I knew almost nothing about -- but this is worse. I don't want to be a part of hurting someone who doesn't deserve it, so from here on out, I'll just call this character Heather.

Todd: I don't think the women give a rat's ass what Nick thinks of them, but carry on.

"-- the writer who she idolized was named Albert Joseph Poe. Though what she did was something Albert wouldn’t--"

Todd: Hold it. You're not going to go over this line by line are you?

Joanna: Yes.

Todd: Joanna, have mercy. I'm a writer. I love language. Please just summarize.

Joanna: Fine. In this story, Heather is a fan fiction writer who writes stories using characters created by a writer named Albert Joseph Poe.

Todd: Poe is clearly meant to be Nick in this masturbatory fantasy.

Joanna: Can you say masturbatory on this blog?

Todd: If it's not asterisked out, then I can.

Joanna: I see what you mean about fantasy. Poe is described as a some who has "a mentality of someone who came from the old world" -- whatever that means -- and as a "born again Christian" and "a Man of God." He wrote "a technological horror but had elements of an era that was long forgotten or almost forgotten – a horror genre that had no way to be classified as such." Clearly, Poe is meant to be hot stuff. Of course, he's not as talented a horror writer as you, dear.

Todd: Actually, I've decided to switch genres.

Joanna: But you love writing gothic horror.

Todd: Not really. Gothic novels are so ...19th century. I've decided to write chick lit instead.

Joanna: Don't be ridiculous. You can't write chick lit. You don't know the difference between Payless shoes and Manolo Blahnik's. You can't name five major women's clothing designers or three brands of tampons.

Todd: Obviously, I'll have to do a little background research before I write.

Joanna: No one is going to buy a chick lit book written by a guy.

Todd: I'll use a pen name. How does Alberta Pacini sound?

Joanna: You don't want to know. Anyway, Poe is upset to learn that Heather is writing about his characters in ways he doesn't approve of.

Todd: Using proper English?

Joanna: According to, I mean Poe...what Heather is doing is an abomination in the eyes of God.

Todd: Ah yes, the long lost eleventh commandment, "Thou shalt not write fanfiction." Then God's probably really pissed about that Jesus/Cthulhu slash fanfic site I ran across on the Internet last week. I wonder if He's smited those authors yet.

Joanna: Poe sends Heather an e-mail rebuking her and saying "...I hope what I say here lives within your nightmares...." Heather doesn't understand what Poe means by this, but it really bothers her.

Todd: It was probably the poorly written e-mail that confused her, not the actual threat.

Joanna: On April 13, 1998, Heather is writing another piece of fan fiction when her computer flickers and dies. She immediately thinks, "[Poe's] God must had something to do with this one."

Todd: Finally, we're done with backstory, and we get to some semblance of a plot -- a mere 27.5% of the way through the story. Honey, when your laptop died last month, what did you first suspect was the cause? Something supernatural or something a little more mundane?

Joanna: I wouldn't call vampire spider venom mundane. Remember I had a hell of a time getting all of it off the computer after the asylum debacle. I get your point, though. Most people would be thinking, "Damn, the power supply is fried!" or some such thing.

Todd: Exactly. Horse, not zebras.

Joanna: Heather falls asleep. Her spirit is called to Purgatory where she is told that Charon awaits her, and she feels the creatures of Hell gnawing at her.

Todd: Creatures from Hell have overrun Purgatory, and a mythical Greek ferryman is wandering around in a mythical Judeo-Christian metaphysical construct. I'm pouring myself a drink. Want one?

Joanna: No thank you. I probably shouldn't quote this part then:

"she desecrated the writings from a man of God. This was her fate for the blasphemy she did before God – the blasphemy of the Holy Ghost. She saw him reading his Bible and prayed with his wife."


Todd: Damn it, Joanna.

Joanna: Are you alright?

Todd: Scotch. In the nasal passages. Ouch. Now I seriously need another drink.

Joanna: Heather looks up and can see, I mean Poe...writing and realizes that what he is writing is what is happening to her. She pleads with him to stop.

Todd: Poe is such a good Christian, isn't he. Sounds like he read the Cliff's Notes version of the Bible, and they left out the parts about "love thy neighbor" and "turn the other cheek." And let's not forget mercy and forgiveness.

Joanna: Maybe he has a different translation of the Bible.

Todd: Whose? Joseph Smith's?

Joanna: Poe and his wife finish writing the story of Heather together. Her spirit is left to suffer in Purgatory -- or maybe Hell -- while back in the physical world, she is in a coma. End of story.

Todd: Thank God.

Joanna: Let's do some quick statistics for the story. Number of names dropped, including Edgar Allen Poe and God - 6. Number of times the word "horror" or "horrors" is used - 19.

Todd: How about the number of sentences lacking a subject or a verb or both?

Joanna: I don't think we have enough time for me to go back and count all of those. We could discuss the fact the Nick writes Twilight Zone and The Crow fan fiction, yet also writes stories like this.

Todd: I think it's the slash aspect of the fan fiction that sets him off. I don't understand that. As you know, I'm a liberal. I believe that sex is a private matter, and as long as it is between two consenting adults, I don't see the problem.

Joanna: I'm so glad you feel that way, Todd. I have something important to tell you...I'm leaving you.

Todd: What? Why?

Joanna: Remember Catrina Taylor, the producer from the reality show?

Todd: How could I forget? She drove off and left the other participants to die.

Joanna: I'm in love with her.

Todd: Wha--

Joanna: I've been seeing her for three months now, and she makes me happy in a way I never was with you.

Todd: I don't understand.

Joanna: For one thing, she does this thing with her fingers where she [**censored by Jenny; reason - that was a little too explicit**]

Todd: I could learn to do that.

Joanna: I'm sorry. I know this is a shock, but I don't see any sense in continuing to live a lie.

Todd: I guess there's something I should tell you, too.

Joanna: Yes?

Todd: Remember that goat at my brother's farm--

Closing by Jenny: And that's a wrap. It's been a pleasure getting to know Joanna and Todd, but we'll let them settle things without an audience. I hope you all enjoyed today's review.


cussedness said...

Is there a reason you switched to calling her 'Heather'?

More important than the story is the impact of what Nicky said all over the net about it.

He also spammed the HWA member list about the story bragging to my peers that it was about me. He started a thread about the story on their boards, calling it a "cautionary tale of plagiarism" and a "diss story" aimed at a member of the org. He made it clear that he intended it as an accusation that I had plagiarized him.

It was never the story itself that that angered me enough to go after him. It was the implication that I was a plagiarist.

I got it taken down a lot of places, including author's den. A former client of mine and a close friend of my youth is the darling of author's den, where she has reissued her back list of pop psyche books.

Her intervention got the story removed.

Anonymous said...

Check out the story "The Suicide Man" in Ethereal Gazette 10" It's supposed to be by someone called LLoyd Philip Campbell but it's got to be by Pacione. It's got all his hallmarks. He can't keep the same tense from the start of a sentence to the end, it's endlessly repetitive, a lead character is a born again christian with long hair and a goatee that reaches his chest who looks like a heavy metal roadie, and it's complete shit. I've not read such un unintentionally funny story ever.

Anonymous said...

If you want I can put together a full review of EG10 - which has got some very good stories in there. I think the good stuff in there deserves a mention. Shame about the amount of complete shit that's in there as well.

Jenny said...

@cussedness: No, I just wanted a different name, because the name in the story is what gets Nicky off. I may have an older version, because I think he changed the character's name to Alice something later on.

@anon1: Agreed. I don't know who Nicky thinks he's fooling with this Lloyd Philip Campbell stuff. His writing is so distinctively craptastic that there's no way to hide it.

@anon2: EG10 was definitely better than I expected, Nicky's two stories aside. I don't have my notes with me (on my other computer), but I do remember some decent stories.

Anonymous said...


Anon 1 and 2 here. I'm only 3 stories off finishing EG10 and I've been keeping notes - I'd be very happy to post a full review here in the next few days. I've got to stay anon though because Nick knows my email addy and I really can't be bothered with the hassle it'll cause when he reads what I've got to say about him.

Jenny said...

@anon3: Please do post. I'll try to get my own thoughts written up as well.

Anonymous said...

Ethereal gazette issue 10 review part 1

I am one of the poor saps who had a story printed in Ethereal Gazette 10. I sent him my story before I knew his online reputation. I really do live under an internet rock.

I know I certainly won’t be sending him any other stories as I want the next thing I have published to have some kind of readership. I’ve been reading through the magazine and I think that there are some very good stories in there and it’s a damned shame that they’re tainted by the association with Nick P.

Having read Nick’s contributions I understand exactly why he gets his reputation but I want to do a fair review of the whole magazine, and each individual story to make sure the talent in there is recognised.

Start with the cover of the magazine – an almost unreadable black font on a black background declares it to be the Eternal Damnation edition. A slightly more readable font on the spine gives the same name. The front is also adorned with a very badly photoshopped sphinx

The back cover then proclaims “Welcome to the Eternal darkness” – I thought this was supposed to be the eternal Damnation edition… hmmm… is that a mistake or what? It might not be… it could just be a heading for the back cover blurb… but what is this I see near the bottom of his ramblings on the back cover?

“This issue is titled the Eternal Darkness edition and if you’ve (sic) thought Tabloid Purposes IV: Something Macabre this way comes was the darkest publication on the Lake Fossil press imprint – The Ethereal gazette: Issue Ten – Eternal Darkness Edition will be the darkest of the magazine.”

So what is this issue called? Darkness or damnation?

More quotes from the back cover, just to show how much effort Nick obviously puts into proofreading his work.

“I promised the masses that I would produce a really dark edition of the Ethereal Gazette, and issue ten will bring on the scares won’t compromise anything here.”

Apart from wondering who the masses are that he promised, WTF is he talking about by the end of the sentence?

“This issue, the readers might not want to read with the lights off…”

Well that’s bad for the eyes surely. I normally read with the lights on myself. I find it helps see the words on the pages.

“Those thought that lake Fossil Press produced wipy horror stories – those naysayers are going to be sadly mistaken here”

Those thought? Is there a word missing?

And from the LFP logo at the bottom of the cover –

“Original Horror Ann Science Fiction For The Fans, By The Fans”

He has a typo in his f***ing logo!

He also talks about how the church will react to this like they reacted to Antichrist Superstar because a character in a story uses a page of the bible to make a spliff. I don’t think so Nicky. Sorry. It needs to make an impact before anyone gives a damn about it.

Enough with the cover, on to the inside of the magazine. This is where some positive stuff will appear.

But not yet.

The Editor’s lounge. I got bored half a page into this. Life is too short to try reading prose this bad, especially to start picking it apart. Just look at the comments about his blurb on the back cover, lots more of the same here.

Anonymous said...
This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.
Anonymous said...

Ethereal Gazette 10 - review part 2.

Stories –

The Old Man’s dream by Noah Savage.

The first semi decent writing of the magazine so far. The story has quite a good concept and a not bad style of writing. However it doesn’t stay long in the memory after finishing it. Overall 6/10.

Baby Boy Compton by either Nick J Media or Nick Medina depending on whether you believe the contents list or the name above the story itself.

This is a great story, simply told, blackly comic, nice style of writing and an ending that had me wondering whether to laugh or shit myself. How would you react if your first born had hooves? 9/10

Second Hand Reaping by either Mathew or Matthew Burgess

For a collection that said no Zombie themed stories… this is suspiciously like a story about a living corpse. Highly original and entertaining, this is another cracker of a tale, very bleak and I really hope the afterlife ain’t nothing like this. Nightmarish in the extreme. 9/10

Beyond the Flame by Forrest Aguirre

I’ll bet my last penny that this guy is a dungeon master in a D&D game somewhere. This one reads like the storyline for a pretty dull game session. The style of writing is ok but the plot is hopeless. This story made me think that Nick was just printing anything that he was sent, the guidelines were for something set in the real world and this is set in some fantasy land – and really isn’t that good. 4/10

Listen Well by Jeremy Hepler

Well he seems to have sorted out spelling the writers’ names correctly now… This is a nice little story, a bit too derivative of the Lincoln Tunnel section of the Stand but well written and fairly tense. Making an unseen monster scary is difficult and he almost manages it. 7.5/10

Wambago Drive by Lloyd Poast

This opened nicely but rapidly descended into a completely by the numbers tale of a ghostly meeting. Man doesn’t believe in ghosts. Man meets ghosts. Man faces ghostly challenge and lives to tell the tale. Man believes in ghosts. If the style of writing had maintained the quality of the opening, it wouldn’t have been so bad, but it didn’t. I wanted to like it a lot more than I could – 5/10

Alloyed Soul by M Grant Baker

There are shades of Lovecraft in this story of forces beyond our reckoning who battle to keep humanity safe from other forces beyond our reckoning. Only shades though and not fantastically well played out. The style of writing is OK and the plot does try very hard but for me it didn’t quite work.6/10

An Exact Science by Christopher Donohue

This is quite a nice little story again. The plot wouldn’t be out of place in an old Twilight zone episode. Unfortunately it does get a bit muddled and the prose isn’t as sharp as the author thinks it is. A good effort though and an easy 7/10.

The Benficiary by Jeffery Scott Sims

This is one of my favourites in the magazine. A great idea, intriguing story, very well executed and a fantastic payoff in the last two paragraphs. 9.5/10

Anonymous said...

Sorry for posting that first bit multiple times. can you delete teh extras?

I will post a review of the rest of the stories tomorrow.

BTW Nick tried to get away with not paying me.

I wonder what my legal stance is on sending my story on to other, better, publishers?

Jenny said...

Anon, no problem, I deleted the additional comments. I think you're fine sending the story to other venues as long as you are upfront about it being a reprint. Nicky only used up first print rights (did you sign a contract BTW?); he doesn't own the copyright to the story. Good luck.

Lewis said...

Thanks for the review Anon. If Nicky did send you a contract and you still have a copy, I can think of a few people who would be interested in reading it, with any personal information relating to you edited out of course.

Jenny said...

Yes, I would definitely be interested in seeing it. If would like to correspond privately (I won't reveal identities), please feel free to e-mail me at jnny_torgerson (at) yahoo (dot) com.

Anonymous said...

No contract with him. I didn't even know he'd printed it till I saw my name on the contents page and asked him for my money.

cussedness said...

OMG. Jeffrey Scott Sims is my cousin's name and he's been trying to write for years.

Can't be the same one. Just can't be.