The Royal Academy of Bards

I’ve talked a lot here on my blog about how I got my start in writing by dabbling in the fanfiction world of the Xenaverse. If you’ve missed it, a lot of the details are in the Behind the Book section for Without Warning, which happened to be the first piece of fiction I ever wrote, but I called it Shaken back then. I posted it on a website called The Royal Academy of Bards, a name adapted from an episode of Xena: Warrior Princess in which Gabrielle goes off to bard college.

The Academy embodies the spirit of the Xenaverse, which is hands down the most generous community I’ve ever been a part of. Going on 12 years now, they’ve hosted and archived a massive collection of fanfiction that still grows today. And just a couple of days ago they honored me with their Lifetime Achievement Award, which enlarged my head so much I can barely travel from room to room. You can see their announcement here on August 11, 2011. I replied to the Academy today, and I’m reposting it here because I want everyone who follows my blog to know what the Academy means, not just to me, but to all of us.

Gobsmacked! It’s a term I’d never even heard until I ventured into the Xenaverse and began chattering with new friends from across the pond. Now I can’t imagine how else I’d describe the sense of surprise and joy I felt at receiving this honor. All of you readers who have visited here and taken the time to drop me a note about a story or a character have done more to make me a writer than all the writing classes, workshops & how-to books combined. The Royal Academy of Bards is such a special place, a true cornerstone of our fandom. In addition to keeping the essence of Xena & Gabrielle alive in our hearts, the Academy has given thousands of storytellers like me a creative outlet to nurture and grow their skills as writers, a sense of community, and arguably millions of hours of utter delight for readers worldwide. What touches me most is that it also gives a remote audience in rural settings and oppressive societies the opportunity to read stories they might not otherwise ever see. I’m so very proud to be recognized by the wonderful (& satanic) people behind the curtain of the magnificent RAOB, and truly grateful to join the company of the others who have won this award. Like I said, gobsmacked!

If you don’t know of the Academy, prepare to get hooked. There are literally thousands of stories in their archives, most of them lesbian. A lot of us earned our writing stripes here, posting early versions of stories, collecting feedback that went into polishing lots and lots and lots of books. You can read those draft versions for free, along with short stories and novels that were never published. If you find something you like, know that a quick note of thanks to the bard goes a long way toward encouraging her (or him) to keep writing. If not for the notes I got from readers, I doubt I’d be writing today.

And I am writing today! I’m up to Chapter 12 or 13 of my next book, Rhapsody. Stay tuned.

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