Well, Jen and I have really been neglecting this website of ours — oops! — but we’ve been doing lotsa stuff elsewhere…
Over on Wattpad, we have been posting up a storm: after our Taylor Swift fan fiction Know You Better wrapped up (and we’re at 222,000 reads!!), we kept up the Swift party with an excerpt from our bio on the Fearless One with our version of Cliff Notes, our Swift Notes to Red! But that wasn’t enough! We love the Wattpad community and all the feedback on our stories, so we decided to try something new and awesome: a choose your own adventure style Taylor Swift fan fic — Sweeter than Fiction. We’re only up to chapter three, so there’s still plenty of time to get in on the action and help decide what Taylor will get up to next. We’re having a laugh and a half coming up with wondrous ideas of what fun lurks around the next corner.
While it’s been a while since we blogged about Pretty Little Liars, that doesn’t mean we are not still deeply invested in it. I joined Heroine TV’s Lucia and guest host Tash to talk ALL about the Halloween special and about the first three episodes of the spin-off series, Ravenswood, which I am loving. Tune in here!
And not to be left out in the cold, check out this review of our Mortal Instruments companion guide, Navigating the Shadow World, over at Between Dreams and Reality
Navigating the Shadow World is an indispensable book for all the TMI fans and it’s an excellent companion guide.
And next up on the agenda: Catching Fire! Only two more sleeps…
a.k.a. Jen & Crissy
The super Swifties at the Taylor Talk podcast had me on to talk about Taylor Swift: The Platinum Edition. We also did some tough Taylor trivia, in case you want to really put your knowledge of the Swift One to the test. You can stream the episode on their site or download it on iTunes!
Big thanks to Adam and Taylor Talk for having us on!
We’re still madly writing our Red fan fiction, Taylor Swift: Know You Better, over on Wattpad. We’ve reached track 8, “We Are Never Ever Getting Back Together,” and we’re celebrating the halfway point by offering a contest for our amazing Wattpad readers! So if you’re a Wattpadder, head over and enter — you could win a copy of Taylor Swift: The Platinum Edition and a cameo in a future story! (Plus you get to see everyone’s favourite lyrics in the comments, which is super fun.)
And while we’re talking fanfic and the awesomeness of our readers, take a few minutes to watch this awesome trailer that Hilda Therese made for Know You Better. ❤ ❤ ❤
So after spending months researching and writing Taylor Swift: The Platinum Edition, Team Liv was feeling pretty expert on all-things-Taylor. But there were certain things we could never know, and sometimes imagined. Since we weren’t quite ready to stop writing about our girl, we decided to try something new: writing Swifty fanfiction, and sharing our flights of fancy with everyone. Because what could be more fun than imagining what it would be like to live the life of the Swift One?
Since our Swift Notes chapter meant we spent a lot of time thinking about the individual songs on Red, we decided to riff on that in our fiction and imagine the scenarios that inspired the songs or what it was like for Taylor to write them. Taylor Swift: Know You Better, the title for our collective Swifty speculation, will be made up of one story for every track on Red.
We publish a new story every Friday, and you can read our stories behind the first three tracks of Red over on Wattpad! Let us know how you like them! Want more romance, more behind-the-scenes on the tour, or more Meredith? We aim to please.
It’s out! And I gotta say: it’s pretty. We were lucky to have a wonderful designer work with us, and we’re soooooo happy with the book. And it’s BIG. It’s kinda sorta 40% longer than it was supposed to be — but same steal-of-a-deal price! There’s just So Much To Say when it comes to the Swift One.
If you happen to see a copy out in the world, snap a pic for us! It’s cool/weird/the best to see our little book out in the world. And if you buy it and read it? THANK YOU and let us know what you think!
love love love!
p.s. we should probs mention where you can get a copy…
Also available as an ebook!
You can also add it on Goodreads
I spend a lot of time defending Taylor Swift, not that I think she needs it. In fact, it seems absurd to me, but perhaps once more, for the record, let me address a few issues that seem to plague our girl.
First, she is not anti-feminist. While she may have been hesitant to embrace the term in interviews (and she is not alone in that), and her songs may deal with fairly conventional roles and relationships, she remains an excellent female role model. I don’t mean because she’s “a good girl” resisting a Lohan trajectory, I mean because she has had a truly tremendous career of which she’s always remained totally in control. She started chasing a record deal at age 11, knocking on doors of Nashville’s Music Row. When she was 13, she walked out of a development deal with RCA when they wanted to shelve her for a while. She had other plans. When she was 14, Sony picked her up, their youngest songwriting hire. She took a chance on then-fledgling label Big Machine at 15 because they would give her the control she wanted most of all: she was going to write and perform her own material — period. And she’s done that ever since. And it’s not only her songwriting she controls, the woman is the head of an empire: she is involved in everything from tour design, to packaging, to product endorsements and partnerships. She is the sparkly embodiment of creative control. Everything must be true to her vision and her image. What makes this more remarkable is that she did this in an industry that would normally take a 14-year-old girl and package and exploit her. If Taylor Swift is going to be “packaged” it will be by Taylor Swift herself. Now that she’s famous and powerful, she still finds ways to manipulate greater, seemingly uncontrollable forces like celebrity gossip, as Elizabeth Perie points out in the Huffington Post.
Though even the Swift One can only control so much, and it’s distressing to watch the media make her out to be a desperate, love-crazed man chaser. But that’s not her — that’s what we project onto her. That’s the character we want her to be for our own amusement. Is a successful, powerful young woman dating different men so distressing somehow that we have to belittle her in this way? In the April Vanity Fair cover story (which, annoyingly, has a headline that puts “her men” and “her moods” above “her music”), Taylor wisely noted, “For a female to write about her feelings, and then be portrayed as some clingy, insane, desperate girlfriend in need of making you marry her and have kids with her, I think that’s taking something that potentially should be celebrated—a woman writing about her feelings in a confessional way—that’s taking it and turning it and twisting it into something that is frankly a little sexist.”
And how about those confessional lyrics? For some would say that even if she isn’t anti-feminist, her lyrics are. And to answer that I send you to Erin Riley, who argues that Taylor’s lyrics are being oversimplified. The only song she doesn’t account for, unfortunately, is “Better Than Revenge,” which even I would admit slips into slut-shaming. That said, she was 18 or 19 when she wrote that album. And what teenager — and what human, really — doesn’t make mistakes? And it’s with slips like this that we know we’re getting the true Taylor, even if sometimes it’s not as tidy as we’d like.
Sometimes it’s the content of the songs I have to defend. People often say she only writes love songs. This is, it must first be clarified, an exaggeration. She does write mostly about love, but she does sometimes write about other things: growing up and family (“Never Grow Up,” “The Best Day,” “Fifteen”), the risks of stardom (“Innocent,” “The Lucky One”), self-image (“Tied Together with a Smile,” “Mean”), not fitting in (“A Place in This World,” “The Outside”), losing a child (“Ronan”) and good ol’ celebratory anthems (“Change,” “Long Live”). She has won Grammy Awards for two songs decidedly not about love: “Mean” and “Safe and Sound.” But sure, she does write mostly about love. You may have noticed that so do a lot of artists. Love is an endless font of inspiration, something that changes as we grow older, as we discover new variegation in a colour we thought we knew well (the many shades of red, you might say). Because not all the songs are about being in love: they’re about crushes, fleeting love, enduring love, heartbreak, betrayal, moving on …
Further, Taylor writes a love song well. She’s one of our premier pop philosophers, and her particular articulations of heartbreak have won her a trophy room full of awards and have her matching sales records set by the Beatles (they sang about love a lot too, you may recall — using the word love 613 times, according to this highly reputable Buzzfeed article). Anyway, my point is if you want a really good loaf of bread, you go to the bakery, not to the supermarket. Go to the specialist. And while she may not be great at love (or at least not lucky in it), she is great at writing about it. Not just because her songs are catchy, fun to belt out in your car, but because her lyrics are deceptively simple. I’m always thrilled to hear Taylor sing about new things, but if she writes love-heavy albums for the rest of her career, so be it. Our canon of modern love songs will be better for it.
Yes, her sweetness is a sugar rush, but I think for the most part it’s genuine. Straight from the hands-making-a-heart, you might say. She is powerful, she is savvy, she is authentic. If I had a daughter, I’d encourage her to listen to Taylor. And Lady Gaga. And Beyonce. And Ani Difranco. And Joni Mitchell. The point is, Taylor is a valuable and necessary part of an ongoing dialogue by women in music and about women in music. She is the sparkly dresses (or retro fifties chic) to Lady Gaga’s meat dress. And we need that. She doesn’t have to be the full picture, and she can’t be and shouldn’t be. But she’s an important part of that picture, and I hope she continues to be a part of it for a long time.