**UPDATE (At the end of this post)**
It’s been a huge honor and thrill to be a part of a competition sponsored by Booktrack.com. The finalists were announced today, and I’d like to congratulate them and everyone who submitted a piece of fan fiction or an audio Booktrack. I’ve had a blast going through and reading your stories and listening to the atmospheric treatment you’ve provided for Half Way Home.
For those of you who aren’t familiar with Booktrack, you should be. Augmented e-books have been slow to catch on, but that’s because few companies have nailed the balance of adding to the reading experience without distracting from it. Booktracks work best when they provide mood, just like a heavy rain or the sound of the nearby sea can make reading a book even more enjoyable. When the sound effects and music are done right, you’ll read a story like never before. For creators, the interface is a joy. You have to play around on the website to appreciate how slick it all is.
This competition also cemented my love of fan fiction. Reading through stories based on my world of Half Way Home, the special power of fan fiction hit me: You get the quick romp and tightness of a short story but with the deep texture of epic fiction. Since the world and its rules are already established—as are the relationships between characters—fan fiction can jump right to the middle of the action, orbit a climactic event, but with all the complexity of a larger story. For readers familiar with the world, it’s a chance to reunite with old friends and see them through another adventure. If you enjoyed Half Way Home, you simply must read the stories from these five finalists. In no particular order:
LOADED by Emily MacGowan – Emily wrote a brilliant alternate ending for Half Way Home. Dark and sinister, her story is full of twists and polished writing.
The Final Solution by Roz Marshall – Roz’s story takes place on a different colony with a new threat. It’s a brutal horror story. You think I kill characters with wild abandon? I’ve got nothing on Roz.
Glory: The Gospel of Oliver by Elayne Griffith – This story takes place years after Half Way Home. It features a descendant of one of my favorite characters from the original. Porter wasn’t the only one keeping a journal, it seems…
World Eater by Elodie West – Another follow-up to Half Way Home. Here, we get a glimpse of what’s happening back on Earth, and of the dangerous thing the children of Half Way Home have done.
Coming of Age by Peter John Ravlich – In Peter’s story, things go wrong between two groups of colonists. This one ends on a cliffhanger that will leave you wanting more.
There are so many others that deserve a read. My congratulations and thanks to all those who entered the competition and to the finalists.
Another round of congratulations to the soundtrack finalists. For those of you who want to create your own Booktracks, check out these entries to see how it can be done smoothly and effectively:
Thanks again to everyone at Booktrack for putting this competition together. And best of luck to all the finalists!
See? This is why we can’t have nice things.
First, you might want to read this statement from the BookTrack team.
Apparently, one or more of the contestants tried to game the competition by automating reads and by downvoting works written and soundtracked by others. The promise of a cash prize brought out the worst in some people, and the attempt to hijack the contest was spotted, and those attempts were taken into account in the selection of the pool of works from which we selected the finalists. Basically, cheaters were disqualified. For cheating.
Now it appears some of these people, having been caught, and perhaps having already spent in their imaginations the money they thought they were due, are trying to stir up controversy. I won’t let this detract from the awesome entries we had, or the joy I had in reading the fan fiction or listening to the music people made to go with my chapters. Thanks again to all those who participated in the spirit in which the competition was meant. For those who did not understand what transpired and reached the wrong conclusion, your apologies are not necessary. I understand. For those who know what happened and are trying to make others unhappy, I send you hugs. They are sincere.
Happy writing, everyone. Go make music.
**UPDATE 2** It appears as though several of the commenters are the same person using an IP spoofer. Possibly the upset contestant who tried to cheat their way to the finals. Because of this, I’m deleting comments, something I never do. If people want to discuss this without resorting to sock puppets, I’m more than happy to have that conversation.