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From the Comfort of their Favorite Armchair
  August 31, 2001

Today's Featured Author - Janet Stickney

by: Kelly Ann Rogers

With 127 stories posted at Crystal's Storysite, Janet Stickney is for many of us 'our Janet,' a friendly, familiar voice. Her stories take a romantically idealistic look at young boys becoming young girls, and they always have a happy ending. Janet had been an apparently inexhaustible font of these amiable, carefree tales of transition, which she turned out with well-honed proficiency, but she has recently decided to cap the well from which they sprang.

Janet’s basic story presents a teenage boy who is either thrust into cross dressing by events beyond his control (e g., lost bet, strange punishment), or who is already a cross dresser and gets caught, forcing him to come out. Caught by your parents - remember that? I don’t know how yours behaved, but mine totally freaked, and our home remained in emotional turmoil for years thereafter. But not in Janet’s world, which, it turns out, is the best of all possible worlds for a young T-girl.

In Janet’s world, mom is remarkably accommodating, first helping our young T-girl to look the part and later leading her seamlessly to her transition. Dad either helplessly shakes his head in wonder at his adorable new daughter (she calls him daddy, he calls her kitten) or he is an active enabler, assuring that our girl doesn’t back out of whatever deal led her into skirts in the first place. If there’s a sister, she’s helpful too, loaning both clothes and emotional support. It’s as if a cross dressing teenager was lovingly plopped down in the middle of Father Knows Best or Happy Days.

In this sweet alternative universe, our young heroine is embraced by her peers, integrates well into society from the very first time she goes out, and always finds a boyfriend. Indeed, this enlightened suitor, who is often an old pal, doesn’t need more than a few heartbeats to decide that his former buddy would make a swell girlfriend. As often as not, these two get married, so Janet’s girls don’t even have to date around to find a guy who accepts their little limitations and differences.

Can it get any better than this? Probably not - there is a notable lack of angst, emotional turmoil, and social dislocation. The result, of course, is that even though these stories all take place in our everyday world, they are about as realistic as a Brady Bunch TV (oops, make that television) show, which must have been just how Janet intended them to be.

I can’t help but admire the easy was Janet tells her stories and her seemingly effortless productivity, but I do have two major gripes about her work. The first is familiar even to Janet. Many of her stories are very similar. She has created a large multitude of mostly minor variations around a common theme, and perhaps a lay off, which will allow her to explore new directions for her skills, is a good thing. Second, Janet has pretty much avoided any exploration of her characters’ psychological realities. She presents us with young boys doing one of the hardest things imaginable, becoming girls, and they do it easily, comfortably, and without major impediments. The psychological difficulties of transition are simply never plumbed in any depth, and I personally miss this kind of detail, which would give readers an opportunity to better know and relate to her likeable characters.

Be that as it may, Janet serves up her stories with trouble-free style. Her vocabulary is never overdone, and her generally strong feel for grammar, sentence structure, and the effective use of paragraphs makes reading her work pretty effortless. Unlike many TG authors, Janet typically doesn’t linger long on details like clothing, the inevitable salon visit, or sex. Instead, she focuses most of her attention on the narrative, and as a result, her sure-footed stories are always internally consistent and progress at a brisk pace.

Two stories, the first one of her oldest and the second one of her newest suggest directions Janet might explore. "Savannah", one of her earliest efforts, is a somewhat harsh tale about loss, revenge, and redemption. I discovered it soon after I got on the web, and it’s been one of my favorites ever since. The recently posted "Terms of Life" displays Janet’s most complete examination of difficult emotions and uncomfortable family dynamics. My own hope is that this will represent a new direction for Janet, and I, at least, would welcome similar efforts in the future.

But for now, Janet is Janet. She serves up warm-hearted fantasies about becoming the girl of your dreams. If this catches your fancy, and who doesn’t need a dose of this every once in a while, grab a handful of her stories and settle down in your easy chair. Janet won’t astonish you with great flashes of insight into the nature of boys who want to be girls, but neither will she surprise you with anything nasty. She’ll reliably give you the nice relaxing read you were looking forward to.

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    by: Heather Sinclair

Janet is one of the most prolific authors on the scene today. She has posted 4.3 billion stories...ahem... uh, a lot of stories. As I perused through her thirteen pages of postings I started to notice a common theme.

I know you are saying to yourself ‘She’s going to say the same thing everyone else says: Always a boy that winds up being transformed into a girl... liking it, gets married, lives happily ever after.’

I think I might take a different approach and say "Damn! This girl is a good writer, and it shows, story after story."

I don’t look at her plots as being similar in theme in as much as I wish I could write nearly as good as her. Take these stories apart and place them under ten different author names and you would be saying that there are a lot of good writers out there.

To hit the high points: She has excellent style. She doesn’t rush through the story just to get it posted, so you don’t feel as if she does it for the spank value. They aren’t sickly sweet, so you won’t need boxes of tissues, nor are they overly sexual, again you won’t need the boxes of tissues. Ok, that joke was screaming to be told.

Her stories are strictly CD/TV. She dipped her toe briefly into the Magic pool, I guess to experiment, and then she moved right back to her element.

Janet obviously puts a ton of work into her craft including a lot of heart, a little angst, and ultimately the inevitable happy ending. Some might argue that this isn’t real life. Real life containing turmoil, hatred, physical violence, sexual gratification, disease, blah, blah, blah. In the words of Anthony Michael Hall (Weird Science) "I know about real life, don’t screw with a fantasy." Or something to that effect.

Janet’s universe is a fantasy universe that I am sure a large majority of us wish we could be a part of. Understanding parents, supportive friends, and true love are but a few examples that I wish I could encounter from time to time in real life. She writes that fantasy in spades, and makes me feel good in the process. Can you ask for anything more?

A few weeks back I thought we were going to lose a major talent, but with the support that you readers gave her I think that she knows that she is well loved.

Editor - Heather Sinclair

 

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