Short Hiatus

I’m sure you’ve all noticed by now that the updates over the last two weeks have been sporadic at best.  This is due to some out of the ordinary work obligations that are eating my time and making it difficult to keep up my rigorous fanfiction reading schedule.  Because of this, I’m going to have to take a short hiatus — this should not last longer than through the end of next week.  At that point, I should be able to update daily as is the mandate of this site.

In the meantime, if you’ve read any good fanfic lately, I encourage you to send in Guest Recs to share, which I can immediately publish to the hungry readers out there.

A Small Change

Due to “real life” challenges, I’m making a small change to the reccing schedule at C&C.  Effective today, recs will no longer be made on Saturdays or Sundays in hopes of accommodating the increasingly hectic weekend lifestyle I have been plunged into.  I’d also like to continue reccing fics in the forseeable future, and while my staff is MIA I think it’s only prudent to give myself a fighting change and take a couple of guilt-free days off.

As ever, I encourage everyone to send in Guest Recs.  Not only will it help diversify the fiction here, but it also helps me out when my stockpile of reccable fics starts to get low, especially right now while I’m up to my eyeballs reading and judging Hourglass Nominees, many of which have already been rec’d here.

Silence on the Homefront, and an Error

Due to the collision of several entirely separate circumstances, C&C has been quiet the last couple of days.  Apologies to all for the spotty reccing of late, which is due to a combination of MIA staff, RL weekends being chaotic, and most recently a lack of reliable internet connection.  Rest assured I’m doing my best to steer things back on the track of predictable and reliable once again.

I’d also like to apologize for having rec’d The Willingness to be Duplicitous a few days ago without realizing the link was pointing to a locked community.  I found it from another recs list, and because I’m in that particular community and was logged in at the time, I didn’t even realize I was reading a locked entry.  I have tried to find an unlocked version of this story and had zero luck (if anyone else does, please let me know) and want to let everyone know that it is my general policy not to link to locked stories, and if I had realized I wouldn’t have rec’d it.  In the future, I will be more careful.

Catch-up recs will be posted throughout the day today, and hopefully there won’t be any need for a catch-up day as large as this in the future.  Thanks for staying tuned…!

Hourglass Awards, 2008 Cycle

I’d like to give a nod to my favorite Harry Potter fanfiction archive site, The Unknowable Room, with whom this site is closely affiliated.  For those who don’t know, the 2008 Cycle of the Hourglass Fanfiction Awards has officially started and nominations are open.

The current list of nominees is a strong bunch, including several fics that have previously been featured on C&C.  Fic nominations are open until March 31, and anyone who is interested in volunteering to judge a category is encouraged to sign up here.  Nominations are not restricted to fics archived at — any fic from any archive or journal can be nominated, and participation from all over the fandom is highly encouraged.

To see a list of the fics (with links) that are currently nominated, click here and scroll down past the nomination form.  There are categories for Het and Slash Romance, Drama, Angst, Comedy, Drabbles, Gen, AU, and NC17 fic.

Best of luck to all the nominees!

A Long Weekend….

Just a quick note to apologize to any disgruntled C&Cers about the appalling lack of rec yesterday.  I’ve since rec’d two fics today and backdated one.  I have no other excuse except the one we’re all familiar with: sometimes, real life gets in the way of our online ones.

I think I’ve got things sorted now, and C&C should proceed as normal.  Cheers.

New Reccer at C&C

Isn’t it funny how Website News always happens in clumps?

I’d like to extend a warm welcome to the newest member of the Coffee and Chocolate rec team, Insanguinare. From sunny California, she’s authored eight Harry Potter fics including Descent, which was recently rec’d here by me on January 21, and has a keen eye for good stories. Expect her first rec bright and early tomorrow morning.

From here on in, Wingless Flight will rec on Tuesdays and Thursdays, Insanguinare will take care of Mondays and Fridays, and I’ll continue to rec on Wednesdays, Saturdays and Sundays. To date we’ve rec’d a total of 240 excellent pieces of Harry Potter fanfiction, and I’ve given out a total of six Gold Star Awards. A big thanks to all of you who continue to leave thoughtful comments on the recs; we love hearing what you have to say.

A reminder that C&C is always open for guest recs and suggestions!

Gold Star Award Catch-Up

Well, finally!

At long last (and with heaps of apologies for the unforgivable wait), I have managed to dole out a few more Gold Star Awards. Without further delay (because hasn’t there been enough of that, really?), I give you four new Gold Star Award Winners:

sept2007.jpgFor September, I really had to give the award to Lady Bracknell’s fantastic novel, Disaster: See Also, Remus J. Lupin, Lovelife Of, mostly because I’m completely shocked that no one’s given her an award for this one already.

This wonderful piece of romantic comedy follows Remus through the misadventure that is his interaction with women, from his very first girlfriend to his meeting of Tonks. Lady Bracknell’s Remus is entirely three dimensional, and the only cliché in this story are the ones that set up the punchline. Remus is occasionally an active participant and sometimes only a passenger doing his best to hang on while someone else takes him for a spin, but the one thing he never is is the maudlin, noble, self-sacrificing hero we’ve come to expect of him in fanon, and it’s wonderfully refreshing. This could be the story of anyone’s life.

I also give this award to Lady Bracknell for her stunningly good show on the Original Character front, having created — not one, not two, but nearly a dozen — wonderfully unique and likewise three dimensional original female characters for Remus to bounce off of over the years. Not one of them could be considered a Mary Sue (though one or two of them could be considered a bit insane) and this fic wouldn’t have been anywhere near as good without these fantastic women.

oct2007.jpgFor October, the Gold Star Award goes to Snegurochka Lee’s Five Women Who Hate Fleur Delacour and her hard-hitting combination of feminist commentary and canon-accurate portrayals of some of the women in the Harry Potter universe, most notable among them Fleur and Luna.

I would never have expected these two females to foil each other so excellently, but each brings out something in the other that makes every exchange between them interesting and revealing. The character of Fleur is studied through the opinions of other women in and around her life in a prose-disguised dissertation on women and how women interact with each other. Between each section, Fleur is allowed her say, and we realize that she has a very clear and realistic picture of popular opinion about her. A very cunning exploration of what women think about women, and a great character piece.

nov2007.jpgNovember’s winner was a tough choice, but in the end I have given the award to Paperclip Bitch’s unforgiving and in-depth portrait of Remus Lupin in And When I Have Lost Everything I Will Remember This. The writing is carefully sculpted narrative, and while Remus is the focus, each of the secondary characters have been considered with thought and — the Marauders especially — stand as individual people even though it would have been easy enough to paint them as vague shadows that all look the same.

This piece is tragic from start to finish, and for her unyielding commitment to it I applaud Paperclip Bitch. It would have been so easy — and others have done it many, many times — to leave Remus at the moment of his death with something uplifting or something sweet, but she has chosen her theme and the nature of Remus’ death does not allow for easy peace. This has been handled with real style, and it breaks your heart in a way that makes you want to read it all over again in hopes that, next time, it might end differently.

dec2007.jpgDecember’s Gold Star Award goes to PigWithHair’s The Boy Who Lived, which is by far the best thing I’ve ever read featuring an old, aged Harry Potter. PigWithHair has committed to writing these characters as elderly, and has done so with more realism than we usually find in fanfiction — Harry and Ginny are cranky, crotchety, temperamental, and thickly nostalgic. Everything about them reminds us of their age — the way they walk, the way they talk, they way the shout and mutter and grumble.

Yet under all that age and all that temperament, the Harry and Ginny JKR created can still be seen, and that is the real treat. These are realistic extrapolations of these characters into their 80s and 90s, and the need of Harry to share his stories to a younger generation so they won’t be forgotten is just so completely Harry. It’s a truly delightful character piece on a life lived, and the things and people we often take for granted.

Phew… glad that’s finally done (and just in time for the end of January, too). Apologies to those of you who have to scroll past this on your Livejournal Friends list — my blogging software doesn’t allow for Livejournal cuts. A reminder to any new readers who’ve just joined us that you can get C&C recs every day on your Livejournal Friends feed by Friending this Syndicated account.

C&C Looking For Guest Reccers!

Are you interested in reccing a fic on Coffee and Chocolate but don’t have the time to commit to being a full-time reccer? Is there something you’ve read recently (or even not-so-recently) that you’d like to share with the Coffee and Chocolate audience? Would you like to try your hand at writing in the Why You Should Care / Why You Might Not Care fic review format? Just want to see your name up there in big bold letters?

Coffee and Chocolate is now open to accepting Guest Recs. Next time you send me a fic rec, send it along to in the C&C format and — provided the fic rec is appropriate — I’ll use your review when I post it and give you the credit.

Strictly speaking, there is no specific word count requirements for the recs, but between 100 and 300 words is a good ballpark. The summary can be the one attached to the fic in whatever archive it’s located in, but if the author hasn’t provided one you’ll have to come up with one on your own. In this case, I usually like to grab a quote from somewhere in the fic that’s particularly interesting or revealing and that I think might make someone go: “hmmm… that’s interesting, I wonder what that’s about?”

When you’re writing the review, think about what the fic’s greatest strengths and weakness are and don’t be afraid to be candid about them. Why did you like this fic so much? What did the author do well? What parts didn’t work? Also keep in mind people’s personal tastes: sometimes, it’s not the quality but the content that might turn people off. Like with anything, what one person likes isn’t always what floats another person’s boat.

And for those of you who’d just like to send in suggested recs without writing the Why and the Why Not, I’m still always happy to take suggestions in any format, though I like to get a sentence or so with the link so I know what I’m getting into. During this holiday season especially when I have less time to spend reading, my rec backlog is starting to look a little slim. Give a girl a helping hand this Christmas and jot down the good stuff you read and send it over. Share the good-fic: think of it as a Christmas Gift to all those other like-minded Harry Potter fanfiction readers out there.

I would also like to issue a bit of a rec challenge: I’d like to feature a Christmas Harry Potter Fanfiction on Christmas day, and it seems I am sadly lacking in appropriate recs. If you know of any fantastic holiday themed Harry Potter fanfic, please let me know!

In other news, Coffee and Chocolate recently won a rec of it’s own: the genfic and rare pair Livejournal recletter The Quibbler Report rec’d this site on November 22. The Quibbler Report is a great little daily recletter run by a group of lively and dedicated Harry Potter fans with a diverse taste in fic and art with over 1,000 watchers. Thanks, Quibbler! Linkbacks to C&C are always appreciated.

Don’t forget all you Livejournal users that you can get your Coffee and Chocolate Rec-A-Day on your Livejournal Friend Feed or any other RSS Feed Reader.

I also would like to apologize for not keeping up-to-date with the Gold Star Awards, and let everyone know I haven’t abandoned them– I have picked winners for September, October and November, and you can expect to see their extended feature reviews sometime in the next week.

Coming Tomorrow, the Newest Addition to Coffee and Chocolate

It is my great pleasure to announce the arrival of my first co-reccer, Wingless Flight!

She’s a bright and British Harry Potter fan who frequents and mods the Unknowable Room Forum, an absolutely spiffing and regular reviewer and most excellent author of at least fifteen Harry Potter fics including the Hourglass Award winning Whisper In My Ear which was rec’d here on June 20. She may be young in years, but she’s got great taste and real talent.

Wingless Flight’s first rec hits C&C tomorrow during the standard time slot of 8am MST, and will be from here on in taking command of the even-numbered days. I will continue to rec on the odd-numbered days.

As of today, the current total of fics rec’d on this site is a surprising 112, and to date I’ve given out two Gold Star Awards with another on the way soon for the month of September. I’d also like to thank the regular commenters (AML, Christina, Insanguinare, Oxymoron, Kali, and Yuan Tao among the most frequent) for sharing their thoughts on the fics — it’s always great to hear what other people have to say. Keep it up!

I’m keeping the Job Opening up — you never know when another talented soul with the desire to rec and a list of fantastic fic a mile long will show up. Is that you? If it is, apply to join me and Wingless Flight on our mission to rec a fic a day.

Happy Reading!

August 2007 Award for Excellence in Harry Potter Fanfiction

The August 2007 Award for Excellence in Harry Potter Fanficton goes to TangleofThorns for an amazing piece, titled The Abyss Gazes Also. Clocking in at just under 8,000 words, TangleofThorns tackles the impossible and creates the world of Azkaban Prison. Everything about this fic is done shockingly well, and it sucks you right in.

august2007_award.jpgThis is primarily Sirius’ story, but it is divided into even portions by brief glimpses of other inmates. Rather than detracting from Sirius’ tale, TangleofThorns handles these foils with such skill that they instead serve as punctuation fo the central theme; a sentence in Azkaban isn’t about bars or cells, it’s about being trapped in the Dementor-twisted confines of one’s own miserable mind.

Sirius holds desperately and, occasionally, unwillingly, to the sliver of sanity the concrete knowledge of his innocence provides. He despairs, rages… and retreats, finding just enough rest to keep him living, if such an existence can indeed be considered that.

The language of this story is truly remarkable. It is almost entirely written in descriptive narrative, yet never once slides into purple prose. TangleofThorns uses a brilliant combination of simplicity, stream of consciousness, and triggers of all five senses that paints each experience with all encompassing precision. I have read it several times over, and each time I find a new twist of words to consider. This is meant to be read slowly, as one might savor the eating of a last meal on death row.

This story treads on the very edge of reason and sanity, blurring the borders between the two until it is impossible to say which is more real. As I mentioned before in the original rec, it is by turns heartbreaking, staggering, thought-provoking, and chilling. A brilliant portrait of Azkaban, and those poor souls left in the pitiless care of the Dementors. This has been carefully crafted, with close attention to the smallest of details, by a master artist. I am indeed shocked to be the first to give it an award.

Job Opening

I seek a partner. A Sonny to my Cher. A Thelma to my Louise. A Fawks to my Dumbledore. A — ahem — Coffee to my Chocolate.

I am looking for someone with similar taste in Harry Potter fanfiction to supplement the recs here, potentially someone with a greater interest in Trio Era fic and the younger generation to compliment my preference for MWPP and their era, though it is not a requirement. Your taste should, however, be slanted very firmly in the same direction as the other recs on this site, especially toward canon pairings (though a few departures for outstanding non-canon pairings are acceptable; I am a closet Remus/Sirius fan myself). The candidate should also be a fan of the general fic, the oneshot, and the character piece. Obsessive slash readers need not apply, if only because there’s plenty of that to be found in other places and I’m trying to keep this recs site styled toward readers — like myself — who are not as interested in slash. It’s acceptable in small doses, but at least 75% of your recs should be general in nature.

The applying individual should be a naturally and perhaps compulsively avid reader of Harry Potter fanfiction across the fandom and across genres, with flags in all the major archives and Livejournal communities, and will likely already have scads of excellent fics bookmarked across the web. We’re talking about providing a rec every second day, so it’s best if you already spend mounds of time reading fic, because that kind of time can’t be scrounged from an already full schedule. You should also have and be willing to set aside around an hour a week to write and submit the recs to this site.

You should have a firm grasp and appreciation of fiction in general, and a keen understanding and instict as to what good writing is. People with a talent or background in English, World Literature or Comparative Literature at a college or University level are likely to be more strongly considered. Obviously, a thorough and complete knowledge of all seven Harry Potter books is required; obsessive-compulsive canon-Nazis are highly encouraged. You will have well-rounded critical strengths, and be able to comment on plot, theme, structure, style, character, format, word choice, and other relevant literary features. Strong beta-readers and editors are excellent candidates.

Age is not a discriminating factor, but as experience and knowledge come with age it is unlikely individuals under the age of 19 will be seriously considered unless their submissions blow me away.

You should have strong writing skills, particularly in the area of summary and critique as is the format of the recs provided on this site. All applicants are required to submit at least five recs in the Coffee and Chocolate format (complete with links) to the Webmaster as application. These five recommended fics should show off the wide range of fiction you enjoy reading, your ability to pick appropriate recs, and your ability to assume the “Why You Should Care & Why You Might Not Care” style. The recommendations here are not written in a completely formal manner, and so should you likewise allow your personality and humor come out in your recs; there is no need to remain stoic or academic. I highly encourage the “Bringing of the Funny”, but any chatspeak should be avoided like the plague.

Interested applicants are invited to submit their rec examples to afterthree, the Coffee and Chocolate Webmaster, along with a brief (no more than 200 words) sales pitch that sells me on your personality, your ability, and why you think you’d be any good at this. This partnership will remain open until filled, and could potentially expand into a threefold partnership if two exemplary candidates are found.

FictonAlley Not So Open

Just a quick note:

It appears that FictionAlley is experiencing some technical difficulties, so be aware that those places I have linked to a story there are not really broken, but rather the site entire is experiencing problems.  It looks like it may take them a few days to get back on their feet.  Until that time, be patient with seemingly broken links to stories… hopefully they will all still be there when FictionAlley comes back on line, but I will do a full inventory at that time to check.

July 2007 Gold Star Award for Excellence In Harry Potter Fanfiction

There are a couple of Harry Potter fanfiction awards sites out there that give much-deserved nods to well written fics — most notably the Hourglass Awards — but due to the sheer size of the Harry Potter fandom, there are large slices of people who have no idea such award sites even exist. I do admit that, considering the size of the Harry Potter fanfiction community, I am surprised there aren’t more award sites out there.

So, because I feel it fits with the general theme of this website, I am offering my own award for Harry Potter Fanfiction: The Gold Star Award for Excellence in Harry Potter Fanfiction.

Most fanfiction award sites work using the Nominate then Vote method, with voting either being done by the public at large or by a panel of judges. This award is going to be a little different.

While this site seeks to rec quality fanfic on a daily basis, I feel an urge to acknowledge those authors and pieces that are of the highest quality and go above and beyond the call of fanfiction to produce stories that I feel should be read by everyone, stories that raise the bar, and stories that say something important. Once a month, I will canvass my recs and pluck from their midst a shining example of fanfiction which I feel deserves extra recognition and give it a little boost in that direction by giving it “a little extra press” so to speak.

july 2007 gold star award

The July 2007 Gold Star Award is going to And The Hat Said ‘Gryffindor’ by Ciircee. This is a wonderful 2,941 word story about Rubeus Hagrid and what it means to be brave. Jo has told us the Sorting Hat has never been wrong, and Ciircee proves it by invoking Jo’s words and style perfectly, giving us a piece that fits so neatly into canon and is characterized so accurately that this must be the way it happened.

It’s not only the stunning portrayal of Hagrid I’d like to award this piece for, but also its marvelous characterization of Dumbledore as well, who is arguably the most difficult of Jo’s characters to reproduce, but Ciircee nails it with clean strokes every time.

The language is like something straight out of the books, and the carefully constructed theme rings true. It is both heart-warming yet manner-of-fact, and to hear Hagrid talk about his father and the life he has lead as an outcast child is sweet and candid; I have never found the character of Hagrid particularly interesting, but here he is a quiet hero willing to pay the price of doing good and I can’t help but love him. It’s simple yet moving, and the last line of the story manages to sum it up by being both all at once.

As Hagrid says: “An’ I figured out that being brave is nothing but doing what needs doing even if you’re scared o’ what might happen.”

Coffee and Chocolate Deathly Hallows Spoiler Policy

Happy Deathly Hallows Release Day!

Well, since it’s finally here, I thought I’d take a quick moment to let y’all know what the Spoiler policy is here for those of you who might take a little longer to read the new book.

Since I have quite a list to get through already, I will not rec any fan fiction here for the remainder of July and all of August that was written after the release of Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows. So fear not, gentle readers: everything posted here within that time frame will only allude to canon from the previous six books — though I make no guarantees that some of these author’s guesses might not be accurate. However, rest assured that, at the time all of those fics were written, they were still in fact only guesses and not canon.

Starting September first, all bets are off. At that point, if you have not finished the book in English I seriously doubt you’d be able to avoid the spoilers anyway and any warning I might add will be mostly entirely useless. At some point in the future I’ll just have to go and remove all the spoiler notes anyway, which is a fair pain in the arse, and so I’m opting not to put any in.

I am planning on creating some sort of graphic to indicate whether or not the fic is 100% canon friendly, so as to clearly mark them from the stories that are AU or have become AU by virtue of being written before Deathly Hallows was published. Why? Because if I were surfing this site, it’s something I would like to see, and since I’ve got all these admin-like powers, I figure why not? As in accordance with the general spoiler policy outlined above, this marker will not appear before September first so as not to appease the spoil-me-not readers.

If by September first you have still not read Deathly Hallows and still somehow remain blissfully ignorant of plot details, then I would advise not clicking through to any fanfic dated as rec’d after August 31. You have been officially notified and warned.

Happy reading!

De-Bugged and Ready To Roll!

Well, I’ve tested this site on just about every browser I can get my hands on and it seems to be working pretty well. To be fair, I’m still not sure about Opera and Camino: anyone out there care to let me know if this site looks strange for you? But if you’re on any version of IE, Firefox or Safari, you should be seeing what you’re supposed to be seeing. Netscape… well, I haven’t a clue and the statistics I regularly see at my day job have convinced me not to care that much for the 0.1% of the population that still uses it on ten-year-old computers. They’re probably all like my grandfather anyway; old, and completely uninterested in reading fanfiction.

I declare Coffee and Chocolate officially open for business. If you like this site and think others may like it too, please tell them. Link to me, even. My goal is to provide a broad spectrum of really good quality, mostly canon-friendly, and probably very general fiction recs because Lord knows there’s enough ship and slash rec sites out there. What about the rest of us? Those of us who would rather curl up with a nice, thoughtful character piece than a smutfic? Those of us to whom slash is not, generally, our cup of tea? Those of us who worship at the alter of all things canon? Those of us who just want a decent story that doesn’t read like it was written by an eleven-year-old?

To be fair, I’m not limiting this site to “Canon Only” or some such nonsense. But you will find it’s probably slanted that way more often than not because these are the things I tend to read more often. I make no claim that I am unbiased.

I find these things everywhere. The Harry Potter fandom is a wide and varied world, and I try to sample a little bit of everything. Is there a fic you absolutely love beyond all others? One you feel should be shared with the world? E-mail me and tell me about it and where to find it. If I fall in love with it too, up it will go. Let’s encourage quality writing by sending readers in their direction in floods. I honestly don’t give a damn what the subject matter is, so long as it’s good. That’s really the only prerequisite.

In the meantime, I have a fairly long list of my own to get through. My goal here is to post one rec a day, for as long as I can find great things to post. At the bottom of each rec is a link to comment, such as for those who have read it and feel they have something to add. I don’t want to blindly send people to fanfiction with just a wink and a “trust me, this is a gooder”, I want them to be able to better find the stories that make them sigh. We are taught to make informed decisions about the things we chose, so lets inform some people.

Thanks for coming, and enjoy the recs. I assure you, I enjoyed them all.

I Guess This Is My Grand Opening…

I’ve been threatening to do it for a long time now. The only thing keeping be back was the thought that it was shockingly unoriginal, but the more I thought about it, the more I realized that the thing the Harry Potter fandom can always use is another fanfiction recs site. There’s so much crap out there, the more help people have sifting through it to the good stuff, the better.

I’m still testing this site on some browsers, so if it looks a little wonky to you it just means I haven’t discovered those particular bugs yet. This is my first site designed with this new-fangled CSS and PHP, not to mention my first kick at the can with WordPress. I really should stop trying to learn fifteen new things in one weekend…

Obviously, there’s not much here yet. But I’ve been collecting fic for this site for a while now, so I reckon I’ll get to changing that pretty fast. Check back in a few weeks, I’m sure it’ll be much more encouraging.