Picture of a Terex



The Rebirth of an Idea

Fifteen years ago, our shared world series, Children of the Vortex died because of the cost of publishing the physical issues and the reluctance of the reading public to accept e-publishing.

In 2014, not only had publishing changed to favor e-publishing, but the readers had pretty much accepted it. More and more, even preferring the e-versions to the print copies.

With this new means to publish, even get “real” books out that didn’t cost a fortune, June and I realized that COTV could survive, perhaps even thrive in this new world we found ourselves in.

However, it had also been 15 years. We looked back on all the work to keep up with the creative output of so many authors and realizef that our burn-out was as much the reason for ending COTV as anything external. We thought about having to dedicate that much time and energy to it again and just weren’t interested in doing that again. We realized that if we were going to rebirth COTV and make it work, we couldn’t have as many writers on staff.

We’d also lost touch with many–most of those writing friends over the years. So we touched base with the few we still talked to regularly and asked if they’d be interested in trying this again. One had personal commitments and couldn’t. The other two were game.

Once again, there were long conversations, long emails, long computer chats, and within six weeks of deciding to give this a go, we’d rewritten the introductory two novellas and a short story. Out came Flamechild and the free short story, Stonechild (which is included in the “real” book version, separate in the e-version).

We had hoped to have the second issue within another 2-3 months.

Then we hoped to have the second issue within 6 months.

Then a year.

Now it’s been almost two years since Flamechild came out.

It’s not that the enthusiasm has died. No, if anything, that’s as high, if not higher than it was when we started.

No, what’s happened is that we realized, first June and I, and now the other writers–this isn’t the same Children of the Vortex anymore. It can’t be.

Fifteen years is quite a bit of time. We’ve changed as people. We’ve changed as writers. The stories that excited us then, well, they’re just so–then. Yes, we’re nostalgic about what we didn’t do, but when we thought about actually writing it, we weren’t as enthused as we expected to be. In talking, we discovered we were interested in something a bit darker, more mature than the previous lighter hearted stories.

In addition, in not inviting back all the writers, there were characters missing from the storylines that had to be considered. While the world belonged to June and I, characters and their storylines didn’t. We didn’t feel right in claiming what wasn’t ours for the reboot. This also necessitated changes.

Our skills as writers has also improved, frankly. Our ability to tell deeper, more involved stories has improved. We’re more interested in and able to playing with darker themes and characters than we were before.

Let me give you an example. One of my main characters in COTV is Shavonet Fleureaux. She is the eldest daughter of the reigning Duc d’Florant. As a child, she had a marriage arranged for her with the heir to the Duc d’Lascelles, Guion. Just before their wedding, she is Claimed by LLucin (the flamechild of the anthology’s title), which makes her a magic user, which negates the marriage and the treaty.

This has to happen because it sets up a war between the two duchies that will drive the first several planned issues.

In the 1990’s, Shavonet was a spoiled brat. She liked her lifestyle, she wanted to be duchesse. When she was Claimed, she imprisoned LLucin and left him to die–which didn’t work. When she was sent to the Cadre because of the Claiming, she continued to be a spoiled brat. She refused to deal with LLucin. She was snippy to every one. She didn’t want to learn magic. She was a “princess”, damnitall, and that’s what she wanted to be. The story arc I wanted to follow at the time was to change her into a worthwhile person, which I did.

Now, I’m not interested in redeeming a bratty princess. Now, she’s a tomboy princess who was looking forward to her marriage. When Claimed, she keeps her father from executing LLucin and negotiates with her groom to keep the marriage and the treaty intact. When her father screws that up and sends her to the Cadre, she deals. She gets to know the people, gets involved in the working of the Cadre, and discovers she’s a natural with magic.

Even more, Shavonet realizes how important it is that she finds a way to stop the war so all these people she’s come to know. People she realizes she’d never thought about as people before. And in her attempts to stop, she’ll discover that more things are not as she thought. Her attempts will also affect other characters and shifts their paths to darker locations.

Same, but very different. This is more a character for the writer I am today.

This is not to say that Flamechild is going to be pulled or rewritten or redacted or any of that. It isn’t. There’s enough changed there from before that we can move forward from that start. It’s a good new beginning.

And from a new beginning must come a new path, with new stories.

Which is what we’re now very excited about. And now we’re writing again, getting our feet back under us and starting down this new path through Deau.

It feels good. I can’t wait to see where we go with it.

The Birth (and Death) of an Idea

I met my best friend, June Dal, at a writer’s group meeting back in 1987. June introduced me to Pern fan clubs in the 90’s. Back then, you created a persona (or more) and wrote stories. As you got to know other members, you used their characters in your stories as well. More friendships blossomed for both of us (mostly the same people). However, clubs such as that are largely groups held together by the leadership. When the leaderships change, the group changes. It’s a natural cycle we’d seen multiple times. One by one, the groups changed and my and my friends’ interests lapsed.

However, we missed the fun of writing with other people. We regretted not being able to explore story lines we were developing for the various characters, or seeing what our friends were really going to do with theirs. But, we no longer were part of the club environment we had all enjoyed.

After some months of lamenting this loss, June and I sat down to create our own world, one we could write in with our friends again. Since most all of our friends came to us through Pern, we looked there to do the world building.

We talked frankly about what we enjoyed about the Pern fan stories we’d written, what about the world we found good story material. What we discovered is that we liked having our heroes be the “outcasts” of society. We liked having some kind of animal bonded to our characters, and that being what made them outcasts. We liked having a strict social structure, with distrust between different levels of society. We wanted a world-wide threat that our heroes were destined to combat.

Then we talked about what we wanted to be different. We wanted it to be Fantasy. We wanted there to be magic, furthermore, we wanted Good and Evil magic.

Even with what we liked, we changed. We didn’t want bonded animals that could be ridden. Dragons, horses, they’d all been done. And, frankly, we hated how many Pernese fan writers treated their dragons like cars and not characters. So, we decided we wanted smaller creatures, perhaps one that could fit on a person’s shoulder. We decided to base our creatures, the tereges, on the archaeopteryx. Tweaked, of course.

We made magic the ultimate corruptive agent, with the tereges the only “filter” to keep people good. Being magic users would make our heroes outcasts, but they would be the only way to defeat the corrupted magic users.

We decided to very loosely base the society on the Sun King’s France, so many different writers would draw from the same source for names, etc.

Literally in an afternoon, we created the basis of the world we called Deau. We got home and emailed a few of our friends to see what they thought. This was a Friday night.

They were very excited at the prospect. So excited, in fact, that by Sunday night, we had our first story submission in the new world.

And so Children of the Vortex came into being.

In about three years, we put out 6 issues of 100+ pages (with full color covers, perma-bound and interior illustrations). At our height, there were 23 authors actively writing stories in Deau. June and I were doing all the editing, all the coordinating story lines through all the various writers, keeping the world consistent, guiding and approving new ideas and creations in the world, and physically producing the print runs. We went to MediaWest Con a few times to market the series. We hosted a Fete party to get the various writers together, most of whom had never met in real life.

All this on top of writing our own stories and keeping up the day jobs, families–y’know, real life.

It was exhilarating. It was 50-70 hours of work a week. And we loved it.

Then something happened to the price of printing. Between Issue #6 and #7, the price jumped from $125-150 a print run to over $500. Between June and I, we couldn’t afford that. Even with help from the other authors, it was too expensive.

In 1999, we tried putting an issue on CD. It was a miserable failure. Not even our own authors liked the change.

So, like the clubs we’d loved before, COTV died.

Finding “the Other”

So, the problems with writing continue. It’s not depression over my father’s death (though that still hits more often than I want to admit), but something much more, well, probably universal to writers.

I miss the days when writing was easy. I really do. When I could sit down and just spill thousands upon thousands of words onto the page in a few hours. Where everything from plot to character to anything just poured forth without any work on my part. Back when I didn’t have to think about writing or structure or story or any of the technicalities or techniques.

But I can’t do that anymore, not really. Back about 2001, I realized that I wasn’t reaching my writing goals (New York publication, fame and fortune, nothing much). After years–decades of personalized rejections from editors, it just wasn’t happening, so it was time to look at what I was doing, the stories I was writing, everything in my control.

That started my journey on the series of learning curves that I’m still on today. Every time I think I’ve got something figured out, I discover that just opened up yet another slew of learning curves that I’ve never considered and have no idea what to do with. This is my writing life for what seems like forever.

So the present learning curve I just realized I was on is characters. In days gone by, all my characters reacted to events just the way I would. Whatever the situation, they were easy to write because it was just me there. Which isn’t that bad if one character was like that, but not every character in the entire bloody book. Wanna talk lack of conflict and BORING? (One of the many reasons I wasn’t getting bought, after all.)

Now the main character, Shavonet (SHAH-vah-nay), I’m writing for Children of the Vortex is so not me. She’s a princess. She’s rich. She’s highly educated. She’s athletic. She does things when she’s afraid. She had good control of her emotions. She understands social intrigues and politics.

Basically, as a person, Shavonet isn’t an Aspie.

Wanna talk wishfulfillment? Yeah, well, but it’s not that easy either.

I can’t just write what I wish I’d do in a situation, because, frankly, it’s really hard to imagine what that would be. My natural state is to mentally seize up and emotionally go into overload, then shut down. Getting beyond that is something I’m barely able to do in real life–how can I conceive of how to put that into words? Let alone making the character believable, or sympathetic or any of the other many things characters are supposed to be.

There’s a few options. One is to change Shavonet so she’s more like me and make the writing easier. I could grab another character more like me and tell all of Shavonet’s stories from their point-of-view. Both have their challenges, but mostly I don’t like either of them. It feels like cheating my story, and Shavonet. I like Shavonet, after all. I don’t want to screw her.

Or I can knuckle down and figure out how to write people who are “the other” to me, but so normal to most readers. Which is what I’m trying to do.

There’s no answer–yet. I’ll find it, just like I’ve found so many solutions on these learning curves. This is just an update on why this blog, along with other writing endeavors, goes so silent for so long.

Getting my authorial butt kicked

So, this story I’m writing for Children of the Vortex is kicking my authorial butt. Viciously. Repeatedly. And, thus far, successfully.

Not that I’m not used to getting my authorial butt kicked by a story, mind you. Most anything I’ve ever written has done it at least once.

Some writers will call this “writer’s block”, but I don’t. I’ve had writer’s block. It’s a horrible sensation where the creative side of my mind is completely dammed up with–something–and I have absolutely no creative inclinations whatsoever. The very idea of being creative can get physically painful. The only time I suffered from it, it lasted nearly six months before the pressure behind the dam broke–and I’m still not certain how–and I had a creative mind again.

This is nothing like that. This is standard “I have no frigging idea what to do here”. It hits at various points for me. Many times, I’ve got the scene clear in my head and I can’t find the right words, or the right entry into the scene, or sometimes I’ve got a lot of words but no scene. This time, I’ve got about 10,000 words and they all make good scenes–however the scenes aren’t tying together to make a single story.

So, I did the logical thing–break the story arcs into separate stories. Except it didn’t work. The actions and events of the scenes are so intertwined, that if I separate them out, each story reads more like a patchwork than the original does. Either that or I rewrite or copy pivotal scenes into each story, and that just seems highly redundant. I don’t want people feeling like they’ve just read this before, y’know? Not a good thing.

Which leaves me with a single story with four major character arcs, that the only thing they really have in common is that it’s all happening to people at the same time, in roughly the same place. I’ve come to the conclusion that what I’m missing is the common theme, something emotional or moral that ties all these things together for these people. And, of course, I’m not coming up with that easily, y’know. Heh. Once I do, I know there’s rewrites to bring someone’s inner journey, maybe everyone’s, more in line with the theme, but that’s standard second draft work.

And, yes, all of this is part of the normal writing process. It’s frustrating, but I always get through it, however long it takes. It’s part of the challenge of getting story into a form others can enjoy. Believe it or not, I actually enjoy the challenge. Well, I enjoy conquering the challenge. Getting through the challenge is frustrating as all get out, but once I’m through it, it’s really satisfying.

My mantra for this period of writing comes from Sir Winston Churchill: “If you find yourself going through Hell, keep going.”

Playing nice with others

Because of my autism, I don’t always play nice with others, I have to admit. I won’t play unless I understand and accept the rules as fair. I will only play by the rules (so if the rules change, I have to be OK with that up front) and I will call anyone not playing by the rules on it every time. I’m hardwired to be a spoilsport–and it doesn’t matter if I’m “winning” or “losing”. Rules are rules and are there to make the playing field more level and keep the game honest.

The writing world is usually a solo game. It’s my world, my story, my characters, my rules. I don’t have to think anything about anyone else wanting to play, because there won’t be anyone else who does. Period. No discussion. So my characters can be as kick-ass as I can dream. The world can be as wild, goofy, cool, whatever. The only limitations lie in what I can sell the reader on and how well I can write it.

And then there’s things like Children of the Vortex. It was created specifically to play nice with others. There’s other writers involved even if I’m the only one writing the story because the world interconnects everyone’s characters. What I write will ripple out and affect a lot of other characters. Nothing here happens in a vacuum. Not that I have to get everyone’s approval for whatever I want to write, mind you, but we all need to be aware and we all can kibitz–and some of that kibitzing has to be considered in the story building process.

So when creating a story line for COTV, even creating a character, that has to be considered. We want big, dramatic stories for the series, events that will redefine life as the characters know it. We want characters who will face the challenges of those stories and be interesting whether they succeed or fail. But there’s a balance to doing that, and that takes a very different mindset than when I know I’m just going to be (pardon the expression) playing with myself.

 In my novel, Legend’s End, Drais is one of the heroes. He is the son of two gods and is slowly becoming a god in his own right. Drais is the legendary Immortal Warrior. He’s a master of every form of combat, every weapon ever devised, and he will not stay dead long. He has a magical talent that no one can counter and is absolutely devastating to opponents. Gods will answer his call for aid. Drais is a BAMF, pure and simple, and he carries a good portion of Legend’s End‘s story and conflict.

 However a character like Drais would completely overshadow everything in COTV. There’s a war brewing, and if our heroes in Florant have Drais on their side–why would anyone else need to fight? I mean, seriously. All other characters become sidebar sidekicks and, frankly, that’s no fun to write for anyone. A character like that makes the entire series unwriteable.

 So when creating characters for COTV, it’s not that they can’t be superlative in some way. They can. I love superlative characters, however it’s a single, smaller, thing they’re superlative in, not something overarching that spoils that general thing for everyone else.

For instance, Riccavier Fleureaux is counted as one of the best swordsmen in the Ducal Lands at the age of 21. Doesn’t mean you can’t beat him in a swordfight, but your odds of doing so aren’t great. However, give the man a pistol or a musket or even challenge him to a game of cards, and he’s kinda average. LLucin, the terex (think dragon-bird) who Claims Riccavier’s sister, has been studying magic his entire life and is one of the best scholars on general magic in Florant, however his practical experience is pretty much nil at this point. Guion Laurens is, hands-down, the luckiest SOB to have been born in a century. The man could fall in a sewer and not only come up smelling of roses, but bottle it to sell for a hefty profit (as my grandmother would say).

That doesn’t just go for characters. While most of us like to write serious, dramatic stories, there’s got to be room for completely over-the-top comedy too. The first issue has a story where Riccavier judges a cook-off between a visiting chef and his father’s favorite horse, for instance. There’s a barony in Florant where magic doesn’t work at all, the baronial colors are rainbow (with sequins!) and well, let’s just say that if anyone is losing their mind, they’re on the way to Arc–it’s the most insane place in the Ducal Lands. And yet, it totally fits that Arc is the way it is, it belongs and everyone can have fun with it (or just laugh from a safe distance).

Each of these things (and not all of those are mine, mind you–though I wish Arc was–I adore Arc) are superlative without casting such a huge shadow that no other writer can have fun with what they want to do. Shavonet can be a talented Flame cavalier (fire wizard), but that doesn’t impede on Sevien being the BAMF Stone cavalier, or Anjounette having a different talent in Flame spectrum. And they all have their own foibles and weaknesses that allow strong teams and friendships–and rivalries–to form.

It’s one of the problems I’ve always had with DC’s Justice League, y’know? If you’ve got Superman, why do you need any of the rest of them? Superman is just so blasted good at everything, why bother with Batman, Wonder Woman, or any of the rest of them? Give me a team like the X-men where they all have something they’re really great at, but none of them–not even Wolverine (and I do adore him) can stand alone better than he can with everyone around him.

That’s pretty much what we’re shooting for–that teamwork, both in the story and in the writing. Those of us involved in COTV all bring different strengths and weaknesses to the table. Theoretically, we can all write to our strengths, and the strengths of our fellows will help shadow our vulnerabilities. In theory, it’s a win-win situation for us and readers. But like any situation, we all have to remember our manners and play nice with others.

This kind of writing isn’t natural for a lot of writers–this writing novel-sized big stories with “smaller than novel” characters. Or the flip side, those writers accustomed to “smaller than novel” characters (short story or fanfic writers) having to scale up the stories is equally difficult. But that’s part of the object of this project, though–finding that middle ground and having fun with it.’

We’re still trying to find the right rules to help us do it, since we’re just starting out. We’re still figuring out what will play fair for everyone. And that’s a little frightening for this rule-bound mind of mine. But these are my very good friends. I’ve known all of them for well over 15 years each and I want COTV to last for a very, very long time. We’ll figure it out. We’ll make it work. After all, it’s our game and our rules.

Dear Diary: I’m “unpublishable”

Like most girls my age, pre-teenage brought the gift of a diary. My mother was so tickled to give it to me. I had no clue what to do with it, honestly. “It’s for writing down your thoughts, special memories, things you do in,” she explained.

So in my first diary, I diligently wrote something in the small-lined page every day because I was supposed to. But I didn’t like doing it. There wasn’t enough space to really do anything interesting with. There was no room for any of the details I wanted to capture and remember for later. The printers of this diary evidently thought that six teeny lines for a day was enough for a pre-teen girl’s thoughts.

And then there was the added problem that I was the oldest of four girls. At this point in time, all four of us shared the same bedroom on top of it. Privacy couldn’t be expected, and there was no way I was going to write down anything really personal in something that had a joke for a lock (even as a kid, I could tell that). It only took one instance of seeing my diary open in a sister’s hands to kill any desire to write in it.

So the diary quickly went unused. Sure enough, come Christmas, I got another one. Again, my mother entreated me to use it. The second one had more space (a whole page!) per day. But I’d lost my enthusiasm for the endeavor. I couldn’t think of anything to write in it, so I’d only jot down things on occasion then quickly forgot its existence again. This cycle repeated until I finally stopped getting diaries about age 15 or so.

Many years later, I was packing things for the downsizing divorce brings and found one of those long-forgotten diaries. I did the natural thing–I started flipping through it, just to see how much I didn’t write before I threw it away.

And I hadn’t, not much, as expected. But one date caught my attention: May 13, 1974. The entry read

Everyone’s wanting to know what I want to be when I grow up. Most of them want me to be a teacher. But I want to be a published writer.

 I was 13 when I wrote that. It was still true when I found the diary in 1991.

The first thing I had to do then was to figure out what “being published” means. I’ve decided that it means “Having my book in a store that my grandmother in BF-Nowhere, Michigan can walk into and just buy it.”

Knowing what you’re shooting for, exactly, is a requirement for making a goal, after all.

 *** ***  *** ***

Becoming a published author is, in some ways, a lot like getting any other job–you’ve got to convince someone you can do something well enough that someone wants to pay you to do it. The big difference is, with writing, you have to prove it before you can convince someone. Each book, each story is the “resume” you use to attract attention of agents and editors. Fortunately, you can reinvent your “resume” every time until you find the one that works, but sometimes you just can’t find the one that works.

There’s lots of reasons a writer fails to get published. The vast majority is because their actual writing isn’t competent enough to read easily. There’s those who write well, but just aren’t good at telling stories. And then there are those who write well enough, are good at telling stories, but aren’t interested in telling stories that will make publishers barrels and barrels of money.

I got my first rejection letter in 1975, and have gotten them steadily when I’ve submitted. I’ve gotten compliments on my writing, and my storytelling at various points. I had a small press publication in 1999 (back at the dawn of indie publishing) and got a pretty good review from Romantic Times for the book. (That didn’t qualify as published since Gramma could only get the book online and still doesn’t own a computer.) I’ve posted a fan fiction story on ff.net several years ago and have gotten good reviews and still get a number of “favorite stories” every month. Over the years, I’ve come to realize that I’m most likely in that last group of “unpublishables”: The readers of the kinds of things I like to write isn’t a large enough market for big publishers to deal with.

That was a fairly hard blow to the ego, I admit. I mean, “Write what you love” and all that rot that writers are told by other writers. Apparently all the things I love to read has become passé, “stuff your mom read” or some such nonsense. But a writer writes what they write. Getting an entirely different kind of story is difficult because there’s no real way to control what ideas come to you. And not all writers can just write whatever will market well, or make adjustments so it will “sell better”.

I’m one of those writers, y’know. The story is the story and that’s what I want to tell. It’s the main reason I want to write. I want to be published because that will get my work out there for people to read. I mean, that’s kinda the purpose of writing it down, is so people can have the chance to read it. Otherwise, I could just play them through in my own head and enjoy them. Writing is communication first and foremost, after all.

Thus, I’ve turned to the indie publishing option. It’s tailor-made for all those “niche markets” that’s not big enough for the big publishers. A few thousand copies sold–at this point a few hundred copies sold, is enough for me.

And, yes, with the publication of the Flamechild anthology I’m part of, I’ve come close to becoming published by my own definition. My grandmother can walk into her local Barnes & Noble and read it for free on a Kindle (she doesn’t have one, but several of my cousins who live nearby do) while drinking coffee.

So, I’m not entirely published yet, but I’m a whole pile closer now than I’ve been before. Foobat Books has taken the steps for all their books to be available to the distributors for bookstores, but indie publishing is still a little too new and risky for many books from unknowns to be marketed that way. But as it continues to grow (at least, I’m hoping it does) and opportunities open up, I think I have a chance to get there that I never had before.

Assuming, of course, that my assessment is correct–that I’m a niche writer looking for those “few” readers who will enjoy my work. But that’s an entirely different journey (and blog post).

The Children of the Vortex

So one of the things I’m actively writing at the moment is a series of anthologies called The Children of the Vortex. There’s a bit of a history in how all this came about.

Back in the early 1990’s (yes, I am that old), I was active in Pern fandom, specifically Fort Weyr (9th Pass) and Sable Weyr (10th Pass). Pern fandom was unlike most fandoms because the clubs were  authorized by Anne McCaffrey (probably still are, I haven’t kept up with them since Anne’s son Todd took over). We had certain restrictions on what we did, but for the most part, it was pretty open. Another difference was that everyone created a persona, a character to write about and have other members use in their stories. I was active in Fort for a number of years, and ran the club for the last couple of them, and hung around Sable for a few years after I left Fort.

It was great fun. Writing is normally a fairly solitary thing: just me, my ideas and whatever means I choose to get ideas into words. While I occasionally can bounce things off my writing buddies (two of the best friends, writerly or not, someone could wish for), it’s still me and my story.

But with that kind of interactivity, where two characters falling in love required a different style of collaboration, where there were no novels possible, where there were many, many authors who knew the world as well–or better–than you did to help you figure out what would be fun, how to make things work, and other people who cared as much about what I was writing as I did–it was totally different. Suddenly, I wasn’t solo, I was part of a whole, and it was refreshing not to have to do all the work all by myself.

Things change, though. The people running those clubs got burned out (I understood, it happened to me) and when new people took over, the tone changed. My friends stopped writing, real life interfered, and it all went away in a seeming instant.

By the end of the 1990s, one of my writing buddies, June, and I were lamenting the loss of that kind of writing. “I want to write with my friends again, but there’s nowhere to play.” So, over lunch at Svenden House (I miss that place) on February 26, 1998 (it was a Friday), we boiled down what we loved most about writing in the fannish Pern world (since, let’s face it, it wasn’t quite the same as what the McCaffreys wrote/write in) and invented our own world to play in.

What we loved most was simple: The bonded relationship with magical animals. The fact our heroes were “outsiders” to the rest of society. We liked the “mating season” idea, where humans got horny because it was the only time of the year their bond mates could have sex. We wanted a great, ancient Evil that had been absent long enough to become legend and was on the verge of returning. We wanted real magic, not technology or anything that could be explained by technology. And we wanted a world big enough for many authors to play in.

Within 24 hours (because June is just that good at worldbuilding), we had the Ducal Lands and the world of Deau. We decided to riff it off the world of The Three Musketeers because, frankly, plumes and lace and swashbuckling are a lot of fun and offer far more opportunities for interesting stuff to write about. We decided that, unlike the other magically bound animals in Fantasy (Pern isn’t the only one, but I think it was the first), we would go with something that couldn’t be ridden. Inspired by the archaeopteryx, we created the part-crocodile, part-giant eagle tereges (terex, singular), and the source of magic in the ebb and flow of The Vortex and the great returning evil, the Vorteciens (serial killers who get their magic from murder).

Then we contacted some of our friends from the Pern clubs. That Sunday, two days after the first exchange of emails, one of our friends had written the first story in the world. We were floored. It was marvelous. In short order, we had over 12 writers, all contributing to the world and we started publishing on a fannish level. We produced 6 issues between 1998 and 1999, with stories for another 4 issues–but then the cost of printing skyrocketed overnight and we couldn’t afford it anymore. It was a sad day when we had to shut it all down.

Now, in 2013, it hit June that the cost of publishing is completely different than it was 15 years ago. We don’t have to print it ourselves, schlep it to conventions to sell, or do mail-order. E-publishing had changed the landscape and made this possible again. June and I are still best friends, so we discussed the pros and cons of reviving Children of the Vortex, discussing lessons learned from managing so many writers, etc. In the end, we decided it was worth re-launching, with fewer writers. Some characters had to be removed from what was because their writers didn’t have space in their lives for this anymore. Characters have had to be revised, stories completely restructured, and it’s been a lot of work.

But, once again, I’m not a writer alone. This is a co-created world that’s growing with the help of three other very talented writers (including June, who also edits the entire thing, which is why her name is on the cover). I’m playing with my friends again, which is more fun that I can explain in a blog post. I love their stories and how everything’s coming together after such a long time apart.

 I just hope that people like it enough to give us the excuse to keep doing it.

  • The Bag of Holding

  • Pigeon Holes

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