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Saturday, August 31, 2013

Prometheus

Original Air-Date November 6, 1995




After being attacked by four sword-wielding bounty hunters, Xena saves the life of Demophon, one of the attackers who has been badly wounded in the fight, and waits out a terrible storm with her captive and Gabrielle in a local tavern.


When both Demophon and a loudly coughing customer in the bar suddenly die -- and a man's howling scream is heard over the sound of the thunder -- Xena realizes that Prometheus has been captured by the gods. Gabrielle explains to the innkeeper that according to legend, if Prometheus is ever bound, mankind will lose all the gifts he gave them, including fire and the ability to heal themselves.


Determined to free Prometheus, Xena consults the oracle Io and is put through a series of dangerous trials to prove how much she is willing to sacrifice. After passing the tests, Io tells her she must go to Vulcan Mountain and enter the cave of Hephaestus where she will find the only sword that can break the chains that bind Prometheus. Io warns her, however, that warriors loyal to the Temple of Hera will stop at nothing to keep her from her mission. Xena accepts the challenge.


While traveling to Vulcan Mountain, Xena asks Gabrielle what she would do if she died. Gabrielle tells Xena she would become a traveling bard, to which Xena responds she would be good at it. They stop by a traveling salesman shop, Xena asks him directions to Vulcan Mountain, and leaves Gabrielle behind.


Xena enters the cave and is immediately pursued by a number of Hera's fiercest soldiers armed with broadswords and battle axes. As she flees deeper into the cave, she must also evade spikes popping out of the cave floor and giant hammers swinging down from the ceiling like deadly pendulums. In a third passageway, Xena turns to fight the remaining soldiers, but a pit opens and both her and the two soldiers fall in, Xena eventually manages to get out of the pit.


Finally, she reaches the Sword of Hephaestus which is embedded in a large stone, and with a mighty heave, she pulls it free. Emerging from the cave, Xena is surprised when Hercules suddenly appears and asks her to hand over the sword. She charges him with a fallen branch and after a flurry of skillfully parried kicks and blows, she flees on horseback.


Later, as Hercules and his friend Iolaus help her fend off another ferocious attack by Hera's soldiers, it becomes clear why Xena avoided Hercules: whoever wields the sword to strike the blow that frees Prometheus will be destroyed. Each will not allow the other to complete the suicide mission but for the moment, they agree to work together.


On the way to the mountain where the chained Prometheus is dangerously close to being devoured by a giant eagle, Hercules and Xena rekindle their deep friendship. Gabrielle and Iolaus are also very drawn to each other. When Gabrielle discovers that he has been hiding a wound he received during the battle with Hera's soldiers, Iolaus bravely asks her not to mention it to Hercules and Xena since there's nothing they can do for him until Prometheus is freed.


As the foursome make their way upwards through the cavern inside Prometheus' mountain, Hercules reveals that he had been here long ago with his father, Zeus. Xena and Hercules realize Iolaus has been wounded when he is further weakened in a sudden cave-in. Knowing Iolaus will not survive the climb, Gabrielle remains behind with him as Hercules and Xena continue on together. In the end, the two join forces to free Prometheus by battling a horde of lizard men who have hatched from huge eggs encircling the god's chained body, as well as the gargantuan eagle which captures Xena in its claws.


In the process, they manage to avoid direct contact with the hurled Sword of Hephaestus which severs Prometheus' chains, so both are able to survive the ordeal. With Prometheus free and his gifts to mankind restored, the four friends bid each other a sad farewell, while Gabrielle tends to Iolaus under a tree, she asks him if he heard the story she told him, Iolaus reveals he was out of it, before sharing a kiss. Hercules and Xena's goodbye isn't easy. Xena tells Hercules, that he taught her what to look for in life, and the pair kiss before parting ways, though its seems certain they will meet again.


Cast

Lucy Lawless as Xena

Renée O'Connor as Gabrielle

Michael Hurst as Iolaus

Kevin Sorbo as Hercules

John Freeman as Prometheus

Jodie Dorday as Io

Paul Norell as Statius

Russell Gowers as Demophon

Sara Wiseman as Young Woman

David Mitchell as Innkeeper


Disclaimer
Iolaus was harmed during the production of this motion picture. However, the Green Egg Men went on to live prosperous lives.


Quotes

Once, a long, long time ago, all people had four legs and two heads. And then, the Gods threw down thunderbolts, and split everyone into two. Each half then had two legs, and one head. But the separation left both sides with a desperate yearning to be reunited, because they shared the same soul. And ever since then, all people spend their lives searching for the other half of their soul.


-- Gabrielle

"You're not much for girl talk, are you? Then of course you're not like most girls."
-- Gabrielle

"You've been helping people."
"Someone taught me it's the only reason to be on this earth."
"Now who would that be?"
"Some legendary hero, I forget his name."
-- Hercules and Xena


Trivia

Paul Norell, who plays the salesman in this episode, frequently appears playing various small roles. He also plays the recurring role of Falafel on HTLJ.

Michael Hurst broke his arm during the filming of this episode (making the disclaimer 'Iolaus was harmed during the making of this motion picture' have dual meaning, as Iolaus is injured in the plot, and Hurst was injured filming).

This is the first time the four stars of the Xenaverse (Sorbo, Lawless, Hurst and O'Connor) appear on-screen together. The others, all episodes of HTLJ, are Judgment Day, Stranger in a Strange World, and Armageddon Now: Part 2, though in the latter two, at least two of them were playing alternate versions of themselves.

In the original Greek myth, Prometheus was chained and tormented by Zeus, not Hera, as punishment for bringing fire to humanity.

Xena did not use the chakram in this episode. Ironically, Xena later discovers that it can break the Metal of Hephaestus (XWP: Dirty Half Dozen) and thus she never needed the Sword of Hephaestus in this episode.

Friday, August 30, 2013

Why Are You Here? by My Osage

Why Are You Here? by My Osage - 17 pages   
What if Xena and Gabrielle realized their true feelings for each other from the beginning? 

Thursday, August 29, 2013

Thursday's Teaser - Shaken by KG MacGregor



Anna was exhausted. She had tried in vain to pull herself from her prison. The shelf now rested firmly on her left leg, its sharp edge digging into the soft tissue around her knee. Her toes had begun to tingle, and she feared that she would soon lose feeling in her lower leg.

The woman’s repeated cries for help had gone unanswered and she knew with a certainty that she was alone. She wondered what had happened to the orange-haired clerk and then shuddered as she acknowledged the likely truth. It’s too soon to panic, she calmed herself. She’d read that a person could survive for several days without food or water, so as long as she had enough air to breathe, the rescuers would probably find her. If they know I’m here, she allowed the thought to creep into her consciousness.

"Help! Help! Somebody! I’m in here!" She yelled until she was hoarse.

"Well, this would certainly solve all of my problems, and all of Scott’s too," she sighed. "Worse things could happen." Trapped, and for the moment out of options, Anna closed her eyes and succumbed to the fatigue she felt.

****

This wasn’t Lily’s first experience at being trapped in a dark space. Time had a merciful way of stealing memories from her early childhood, but one she clearly remembered was being locked in a dark closet on several occasions when her mother went out. To this day, Lily slept with a nightlight.

Fighting back the urge to kick at the walls and scream, Lily gathered herself for what she knew would be her strongest test. I’m going to get out here if I have to bore through the floor and dig a tunnel.

She couldn’t reach the atrium here, so she decided to try to reach it from the adjacent store. Where the floor had fallen, she expected a gap between the wall and the partially collapsed ceiling, or between the wall and the floor. She would crawl or climb, whatever it took.

As she began feeling along the dirt wall to guide her towards the next store, the young woman unknowingly passed within inches of the clerk who had taken her debit card. The total darkness spared Lily the image of her crushed and broken body, and her wide, lifeless eyes.

****

"We’re back here on the scene at the Endicott Mall with emergency services coordinator Philip Bertram. Mr. Bertram, what’s the situation here?" Art Hanson asked.

"Well," the official began, "we can confirm that part of the second level on the north wing has collapsed onto the lower level. There are about six or seven stores that are affected, and right now, we don’t know how many people were in those stores at the time of the quake."

"Do you have casualties?" Hanson asked eagerly.

"Yes, we do," Bertram replied grimly. "There were over 200 people who were injured, some seriously. We’ve sent about 75 to area hospitals."

"Are there still people inside the mall, or have you gotten everyone out?"

"Our crews have been inside the main areas that we’re able to reach to clear out the survivors. We haven’t started our sweep yet, but we’re talking with people who were in the mall at the time to help us determine how many people might be missing. It’s pretty dangerous to be in there right now, but we’re going to do all we can with some of listening equipment that we have. With a quake of this magnitude, we’re expecting some pretty significant aftershocks. "

"Are there fatalities?" Hanson prodded.

"We have four confirmed fatalities." Bertram paused. "We expect many more."

****

Two hours and 40 minutes later, Lily had finally found a small opening at the top of the wall and squeezed into what seemed to be a Foot Locker. Athletic shoes, even new ones, had a distinct odor.

If the floor in this new store was even with that of the store she had just left, Lily expected about a seven-foot drop on the other side. Hanging by her fingers, she stretched her toes down to the floor. In truth, she knew that she was still a long way from getting out of this tomb, but even the small progress was exhilarating.

"This would be a good time to change into sensible shoes," she joked aloud. She had lost her own pumps in the fitting room. "My luck, I’d find shoes that fit perfectly, and when I finally crawled out of here with all of America watching my miraculous escape, I’d be wearing two different colors. Mom would be mortified. I can see her now. ‘No, that’s not my daughter!’" She laughed at the image. "Earthquake survivor arrested for shoplifting. Details at eleven."

Lily rested a moment when she reached a pile of what seemed like sweat suits and t-shirts. She was exhausted, but she knew she needed to keep moving. It was a roll of the dice whether the aftershocks would free her or bury her deeper.

****

Anna became vaguely aware of someone talking…laughing even. "Hello! Help! Is somebody there?" She was hoarse, and knew her voice wasn’t carrying very far. Her left knee was throbbing, and every small movement was met with excruciating pains. She strained to hear a sound, but all was quiet.

****

Lily groped around the perimeter at the front of the store, finding nothing but earth from the floor to where the ceiling had fallen, a space only four feet high. Crawling along the far wall, she found no gaps between the floor and the wall. Her only hope was that there would be an opening between the wall and the ceiling.

Most likely, the opening would be at the apex of the spot where the floor had fallen so sharply, just as it had been on the opposite wall where she had crawled from the clothing store. To reach the spot, Lily dragged what she imagined was one of those cone-shaped shoe displays to the far wall. It was lightweight, but sturdy, and it had nice little footholds where the shoes usually sat.

Sure enough, the small woman found an opening at the top, but it was going to take all her strength to pull herself up that high. Those hours on the weight machines are going to pay off after all. The wall had cracked neatly in two where the earth below the store had jutted through. The opening Lily managed to find was a small triangle made by the uneven portions of the wall and the straining ceiling. On her third attempt, she managed to get her head and shoulders through the hole. "Finally!" she shouted triumphantly. Pulling herself through, Lily tumbled to the floor in a heap. "Shit!" she said as she clutched her shoulder, which bore the brunt of her fall.

"Please, help me," a woman’s weak voice called.

****


Shaken by KG MacGregor - 156 pages  
Luxury car dealer Anna Kaklis and family attorney Lily Stuart meet by fate and work together to overcome an extraordinary challenge. Can their courage also help them conquer their fears of love?
http://thestoreelounge.wordpress.com/authors/shaken-by-kg-macgregor/

Wednesday, August 28, 2013

A Short Q&A With Darkenedkarma

DARKENEDKARMA


1. Why did you start writing? 
I continuously had ideas that wouldn't leave my mind. Finally, I wrote one down.  I've been writing ever since.

2. If you had to do it all over again would you still write?
Yes, I would. It's an outlet for myriad of emotions.  It's very therapeutic.

3. Once you’ve written a story do you ever sit down and read it for enjoyment?
No, I've never read my own work for anything other than editing.  That seems like it would be hubris run amok.

4. How did you start writing Xena fan fiction?
I read Xena fan fiction. I read it, therefore I write it.

5. Is your muse a constant companion, or does it abandon you for long periods of time?
My muse is a fickle creature.  She leaves me stranded constantly. Sometimes I have to write without her and hope for the best.

6. How do you feel about sequels?
I love to read sequels by some authors. My own stories seem very stand alone. I've done one sequel, but that was because I had somewhere to go with it. Romance is finite. Girl meets girl, they have some angst, they fall in love and done.

7. Is writing a quiet thing for you, where there can't be any noise or conversation going on?
I play music to get me into the right head space for the character or scene.  I love to write to music.

8. Do you prefer to write/read romance, angst, horror etc, etc? 
My favorite genre is sci-fi/fantasy/horror.  I think romance is in almost any well written story.  People want to read about love.

9. What usually sparks a story idea for you?
My dreams are fertile ground for ideas.

10. Where do your ideas come from?
Ideas come from my dreams, day dreams, mental meanderings, that sort of thing.

11. What advice can you give to future writers?
Don't think about it; just do it.

12. What has the show Xena meant to you?
I loved the show.  It was the first show with two female leads that I thought, yes, those two are going to end up together. They had chemistry.

13. How do you feel about the way it ended?
I was so dissatisfied! Truth is I was pissed.  After all those years of following the show religiously (everything in my life stopped for one hour a week) the writers strayed from the path; they let me down.  I'm still bitter.

14. How real are your characters to   you?
They are very real to me. In some small way they are all me.

15. Do your characters speak to you?
They never shut up!  It's like having multiple personalities.

16. Are you in control of your story, or do the characters run the show?
The characters run roughshod over me.  Sometimes they run my life.

17. Have you created a character that you would like to meet?
Oh, yes. I would love to meet Haniel. I want to know why, after years of watching people she had no clue about love.

18. How would you feel about another writer giving one of your characters a cameo in their story?
As far as I know, no author has done it with one of my characters.  It would be hard not to be flattered. It would mean my character, which is really a part of myself, meant something to someone.

19. Has online writing changed your life in any way?
Definitely. It's given me the opportunity to improve my writing. The feedback is awesome.  I've met some really great people through online writing.

20. Have you ever been stalked on the internet by an overzealous fan?
Actually, yes I have, very recently. She loved my story 'Believe' enough to start a dialogue that has never ended.  Originally, I thought she might be a bi-coastal serial killer. It was the way she approached me that set off my spidey- serial killer sense.  She said that she wanted to give my story to a friend who is a screen writer. It sounded odd; it was the opposite of luring me in to show me her etchings. My theory about her fluctuated between bi-coastal serial killer and rabid stalker for a while until I decided she was probably harmless. Then I gave her access to my facebook page. She raped it within a day. I should have expected it; she is my stalker. Despite her stalker like tendencies she's a huge part of my life despite being three thousand miles away.  We write and play.  Having a stalker isn’t so bad. (I’m not taking applicants at this time.)

21. Which one of your online stories is your favorite?
It's "Believe".  I loved it because it was a dream, a fully realized dream.  I loved all the characters the moment my mind introduced them to me.  Writing that story changed my life.  I believe in angels, miracles and magic; just as in the story, I believe that love is stronger than distance or time.

22. Do you have to do a lot of rewrites?
I have a lot of edits. I have many additions.  I rarely take anything out of a story.

23. Is there ever a point in your writing where you get stuck each and every time? How do you get out of it? The biggest hurdle is the first paragraph.  It sets the entire tone.  The characters and most of the story is in my head, but starting that first paragraph is very hard.

24. Which part of the writing process do you enjoy the most and why?
I enjoy writing my way out of difficult plot twists. It's enjoyable; like a puzzle, but without the possibility of some of the pieces missing.

25. When you're working on a story are you obsessed with it until it's done?
I think about it constantly.  It may be in the back of my mind, but it's always there.

26. Who are your favorite top five writers? Online or published.
Laurell K. Hamilton, Sydney Sheldon, K. Simpson, Gina Dartt, Anne Rice

27. The song says "Who rules the world? Girls". If that were true would the world be a better place?
I don't think the world would be better.  I believe it would be much different, but who could say if it would be better. It would be fun to see what would happen if girls did run the world. Hopefully pink would not be a national color.

28. Do you write a story straight through, or do you write in pieces, then put it all together?
I do both.  I often go back to add something into the story.  I've been collaborating with my stalker from question 20.  We've been working in pieces.  It's a challenge.

29. Do you read books for pleasure while you are writing?
Yes, I read while I'm writing.  I love reading more than I love writing. Reading distracts from my writing.  I think that's what my muse is doing when she has deserted me.  The evil bitch is reading behind my back.

30. Do you have a favorite Greek God?
Athena. Shouldn't she be everyone's favorite?

31. Do you have a pet peeve?
I suppose so, this question makes me crazy.

32. What do you see yourself doing in the future?
Later I plan to take a nap.

33. What is your favorite word?
Pulchritude - It's always seemed to be a great old fashioned word to describe attractiveness.

34. What is your least favorite word?
Rue - I despise the word. Rueful, ruefully, they all annoy

35. What turns you on? 
Typically the daylight shines through my window and wakes me up. Or, the alarm clock sounds.  Either way I get turned on for the day.

36. What turns you off?
I meditate to sleep. The off button is an elusive prize.

37. What sound or noise do you love?
I love the tweet noise.

38. What sound or noise do you hate?
The loud beep until I disable the alarm at my house drives me insane.  I've found that hitting it with my fist doesn't make it stop.  I have to hit the numbers in sequential order.

39. What is your favorite curse word?  
Until recently I didn't have a favorite curse word. Someone explained the versatility and necessity of using the word fuck.  That is now my favorite curse word.

40. What profession other than yours would you like to attempt?
I would love to be a stunt person. Sadly, I'm getting old and infirm.  I'll stick to what I do now.

41. What profession would you absolutely not like to participate in?
There are a number of those.  I watched the show about the world's worst jobs.  I have a list a mile long.  In fact, it's several miles long.

42. If Heaven exists what would you like to hear God say when you arrive at the pearly gates?
"Oh, I didn't know you were coming." (I dislike sticking to a schedule.)



Here is Darkenedkarma's Favorite story:
Believe by Darkenedkarma - 29 pages
Haniel is an angel who has spent an eternity watching human interactions, yet who knows nothing of love. Lauren is a human who finds herself marooned in the Lower Garden of Heaven. Can a love between an angel and a human work out? And at what cost?

http://xenafiction.net/scrolls/darkenedkarma_b1.html

Tuesday, August 27, 2013

Tuesdays With Phineas Redux

The 'Xena' Story, as a Four-Wheeled Vehicle


We are not on the higher levels of intellectual experience here, although we will eventually arrive at those glorified heights. More in the oily confines of the local garage, with all sorts of tools surrounding us; the vehicle under construction, or repair, being the ‘story’.

The owner (writer) who brings a story into the garage should start at the very beginning, with the merest chassis on which the bodywork of the story’s setting and characters must be built. This chassis reflects the bare idea of the story; the setting, characters, or even merely a single scene. The engine to be fitted represents the genre of story. Whether it be mainline classic, uber, Conqueror, semi-original, or purely original. The side panels and styling represent the plot.

Then comes the model. Many drivers (authors) prefer a sturdy little town or city runabout. Nothing fancy, just adequate for those seriously congested streets involving heavy gas usage and wear and tear on the gears and brakes. Others enjoy the comfort of a four-door saloon, with plenty of luggage space in the boot, even if the engine leaves a little to be desired. It’s smooth-running, easy on gas, and has space enough for the kids on the school-run, as well as those Saturday shopping expeditions to the mall. Other drivers (writers) may like the kudos of a low, wire-wheeled sleek raceabout, with an evil engine that can burn rubber at horrifying speeds. Yet others (steady authors, with at least one long ‘Xena’ series behind them) may go for the SUV, or as it is called in Great Britain the 4x4 off-road model. These range from little delicate machines, which look as if they are only pretending to be SUV’s; to the heavy-set, massive ex-military Hummer-like vehicles which look as if they could take on a tank, and win.

All these represent varying kinds and types of story. It is the job of the driver/owner (author), working by themselves or with others (beta-readers/editors) to construct the vehicle (story) properly. Some prefer automatic transmission, giving a smooth run; the chapters of the story running easily in a free-flowing manner until the end. Others enjoy the old traditional manual gearbox lever, with its necessarily sometimes awkward clunky exchange from one gear (chapter/part) to the other. These all represent differing methods of delivering the story; whether in short chapters, long chapters; sections; or in a continuous stream-of-consciousness. There are many car models (story types) available, with various features and extra’s, for every taste.

Some prefer their engine to be standard grade, 0-60mph in 11 seconds. Others enjoy the thrill of a power plant which can rocket the passengers (the readers, may the Gods protect them) from 0-110mph in 7 seconds. This reflects the difference between a slow romantic tale, and an adventure packed with incident and action, never letting up on the tension for a single moment.

The vehicle make holds an important place in this theory of the novel. Most will carry on with their long-established and appreciated national representatives, Ford, Chevrolet, Chrysler; happy in their personal traditions. Others will feel the need for experimentation, going for foreign makes of higher standards or exotic style. Many will prefer to write the Hyundai type of story; set in foreign parts, but on a realistic basis in the ‘Lands We Know’. Others will step out into the unrestricted savannahs of the purely exotic; the Maserati; the Lamborghini; the Rolls-Royce; the Aston Martin. All these types of story are quite feasible and acceptable, if written properly.

Others may be more comfortable within the constraints of the vintage or classic. Pontiac, Lincoln, Buick, Oldsmobile. Perhaps straying, with a delicate toes-in-the-water precaution, into the erotic boundaries of an Edsel, Cadillac, Plymouth, DeSoto, or even Stutz Bearcat. These all represent the diverse possibilities any story can encompass, at the driver’s (author’s) discretion. Just as the aspiring vehicle owner can visit numerous dealerships, before making their final choice; so the author can experiment with varying styles, settings, types, and methods of writing.

And the end result, after the completed or repaired vehicle rolls out from the oily smelly confines of the noisy garage? This can be anything from a dusty, rusty, broken down Ford pick-up from 1948; to a modern bright red Chrysler 200 convertible. That is, a run of the mill standard boring classic tale based on the plots and episodes of the ‘Xena’ TV series; to a rollicking no-holds-barred sex romp of the imagination, featuring our favourite happy duo in all sorts of revealing and highly enjoyable frolics. The author’s imagination knows no limits; and the vehicle they eventually choose to drive, for the edification of the passengers who decide to accompany them on their journeys, will reflect their hopes, choices, desires, and needs for the ‘Xena, Warrior Princess’ stories they most enjoy. As Henry James said, in his ‘The Art of Fiction’,—

‘Art lives upon discussion, upon experiment, upon curiosity, upon variety of attempt, upon the exchange of views and the comparison of standpoints . . . The successful application of any art is a delightful spectacle, but the theory too is interesting; and though there is a great deal of the latter without the former I suspect there has never been a genuine success that has not had a latent core of conviction. . . . The only reason for the existence of a novel is that it does attempt to represent life. . . . Literature should be either instructive or amusing, and there is in many minds an impression that these artistic preoccupations, the search for form, contribute to neither end, interfere indeed with both. . . That, I think, represents the manner in which the latent thought of many people who read novels as an exercise in skipping would explain itself if it were to become articulate. . . The execution belongs to the author alone; it is what is most personal to him, and we measure him by that. The advantage, the luxury, as well as the torment and responsibility of the novelist, is that there is no limit to what he may attempt as an executant. . . ’

The End

~Phineas Redux~

Story Recommendationm:
A Brush with the Enemy By Phineas Redux
This is an Uberfic set in Great Britain in 1942. Zena Mathews, a young New Zealand woman, and her navigator Gabrielle Parker work as pilots for part of SOE—Special Operations Executive, where all operations are top secret. On a flying mission they meet an enemy aircraft.
http://www.academyofbards.org/fanfic/p/phineasredux_abrushwiththeenemy.html

Monday, August 26, 2013

A Short Q&A With JS Stephens

JS STEPHENS


1. Why did you start writing?
I started writing fan fiction because I hated the way the episode Ulysses was written. I had to come up with a reason that Xena would ignore Gabrielle and take up with that wimpy man.

2. If you had to do it all over again would you still write?
Yes. I enjoy writing, creating new worlds, creating new characters, and seeing how they interact in different situations.

3. Once you’ve written a story do you ever sit down and read it for enjoyment?
Yes, sometimes. I find, though, that my earlier fiction can grate on my ears.

4. How did you start writing Xena fan fiction? 
See #1

5. Is your muse a constant companion, or does it abandon you for long periods of time?
She comes and goes at her own whims.

6. How do you feel about sequels?
Sometimes I love sequels, but sometimes I wonder why they are written. My original fictional worlds (Xena and Uber) were set in a loose series, written to portray different times in their lives. But, I haven't created sequels for any of my original fiction. Once the story is told, the characters stop speaking to me.

7. Is writing a quiet thing for you, where there can't be any noise or conversation going on?
I love to have music in the background, preferably instrumental (classical, jazz, movie soundtracks). The last couple of years I've written quite a bit on the train, so there is usually a fair amount of background noise, and I manage to tune it out. I find that having a set number of minute (about 30) focuses my writing intensely.

8. Do you prefer to write/read romance, angst, horror etc, etc?
I like to write mostly plain fiction with romance thrown in. I've dabbled in science fiction, mystery, parody, and humor, but find myself mostly writing fiction that arrises from a situation.

9. What usually sparks a story idea for you?
Many things. Sometimes it is a song, sometimes a scrap of conversation, sometimes a personal situation.

10. Where do your ideas come from? 
See above.

11. What advice can you give to future writers?
Use an editor! (Good advice that I fail to follow.) Run spell check and grammar check before sending out your story. Do a little research about the place, the time, the situation that you've set your story. I've stopped reading interesting stories due to spelling and grammar errors.

12. What has the show Xena meant to you?
It was a wonderful fantasy. The show revived my desire to write (I'd started and abandoned stories in my teenage years), and it sparked my interest in web design. Sadly, I haven't even finished learning HTML 5 due to lack of time.

13. How do you feel about the way it ended?
I hated it. It felt like a complete mess; having Xena sacrifice herself for a people we'd never heard about before felt wrong. I liked some of the backstory, but the rest felt like a way of Rob Tapert thumbing his nose at the fan base.

14. How real are your characters to you? 
My best characters feel very real to me, others flit through my head for a short time and disappear in a puff. Some of them have elements of me in them, so naturally they feel very real.

15. Do your characters speak to you? 
Yes, they do.

16. Are you in control of your story, or do the characters run the show?
I try to force them along the path I've chose, but they usually take over and tell their own stories in their own ways.

17. Have you created a character that you would like to meet?
That is a good question. Some of my characters share characteristics with me (Elizabeth Temple Green of "The Librarian", for example.) I'd be fascinated with Ruby Bills and Laura Wilkins in "That Texas Summer" and "The Revival". They were women in the late 1800's in Texas, trying to make the best of a bad situation, creating a family.

18. How would you feel about another writer giving one of your characters a cameo in their story?
If they asked permission and gave me an idea of how the characters were to be treated.

19. Has online writing changed your life in any way? 
In the early years (late 1990's to early 2000's), it made me aware of how long each segment of the story was, so as to download quickly. My original goal was to write short enough sections so as to download in 20 seconds or so using a 1400 baud modem. (Remember dialup?) Later, I taught myself how to write sustained stories of 50+ pages (aka printed pages), which made me more aware of how to organize and carry out long term projects. This has been useful at work.

20. Have you ever been stalked on the internet by an overzealous fan?
Nope, I don't have any overzealous fans.

21. Which one of your online stories is your favorite?
Just one? I'd say "Hidden Identity", because  I was able to explore a character who hides behind a mask, and how I personally have a push/pull relationship with religion. I was also able to introduce a minister into my fiction. She wasn't based on anyone I knew personally, but I do count four women who are ministers as close friends.

22. Do you have to do a lot of rewrites? 
Sometimes. It depends on the complexity of the story. I rewrote several sections of "What If?" to make it flow better (available at Academy of Bards).

23. Is there ever a point in your writing where you get stuck each and every time? How do you get out of it?
Often! I have about 15 or so abandoned stories that I could not finish for one reason or another. Sometimes I'm able to pull out, other times I have to reassess and sketch an outline to get finished. My Facts of Life story, "The Impossible Dream" (on The Atheneum), took several years to finish. I abandoned it because I got stuck at how Jo and Blair would get back together following a blow up, then resolved it a year later. I decided that they would have to lay aside their stubbornness and make a few compromises.

24. Which part of the writing process do you enjoy the most and why?
I love dreaming up the background of the story. Where is it set? What time frame? Are there any organic reasons for the characters to interact? What is their background, their education, their profession? Are they introverted or extroverted? The hardest part is actually finding the conflict and deciding how to resolve it.

25. When you're working on a story are you obsessed with it until it's done?
It depends on the story. There have been times I've hardly been able to stop when I get on a roll, other times, I can lay it aside and nearly forget about it.

26. Who are your favorite top five writers? Online or published.
Oh, gosh, that's a hard one. Blythe Rippon is currently one of my favorite online writers because her stories are so plausible, and she must do a lot of research. I liked "Stowe Away", but loved "Barring Complications".

Others: Clare B. Dunkle, Julie Anne Peters, Libba Bray, David Weber, and Elaine Pagels. Okay, so it's more than five, I like to break a few rules. Just a few.

27. The song says "Who rules the world? Girls." If that were true would the world be a better place? 
Depends on the girl.

28. Do you write a story straight through, or do you write in pieces, then put it all together.
Short (under 10 pages) are written straight through, but anything longer it written in pieces. I usually do a rough straight through, then go back and tweak, add, subtract, and rewrite longer pieces.

29. Do you read books for pleasure while you are writing?
The question should be do I ever NOT read books for pleasure. I'm the type who is usually reading 1-3 books simultaneously.

30. Do you have a favorite Greek God?
No, I really don't.

31. Do you have a pet peeve?
Drivers who endanger others with their driving, usually by speeding and cutting in and out rapidly.

32. What do you see yourself doing in the future?
I'm not sure. I'd love to start going to professional conferences again and even run for a committee chair position, but our funding for travel was cut. Boo.

33. What is your favorite word? 
I don't have one.

34. What is your least favorite word?
I don't have one.

35. What turns you on? 
Intelligence. My partner is extremely intelligent, and that's what attracted me in the first place. My best friend from grade school on is very intelligent, and we used to discuss all sorts of high level subjects on the playground. Can you imagine sixth graders discussing comparative religion?

36. What turns you off?
People who use curse words as descriptors. If you can't think of a better way of saying something, then you are being linguistically lazy. I get tired of hearing people talking about this or that fucking thing. Are you really wanting to penetrate these objects?

37. What sound or noise do you love?
The coffee pot dripping in the morning. That is the sweetest music ever.

38. What sound or noise do you hate?
Overly loud thumping bass from the cars two lanes over. If I can hear your music down the block, it's too loud. You don't want to hear me blasting Diana Krall, do you?

39. What is your favorite curse word?
My ex's grandmother used the word "frazzling" as a curse word. It charmed me to hear her talk about "that frazzling car" when I knew she meant something stronger.

40. What profession other than yours would you like to attempt? 
I really don't know. The only other thing I'd like to know how to do is front end web design. I see some really good ones, and some that are awful in my profession.

41. What profession would you absolutely not like to participate in?
I would not want to be a lawyer.

42. If Heaven exists what would you like to hear God say when you arrive at the pearly gates? 
Come right in this house! (My mema's favorite saying.)



Here is JS Stephen's favorite story:

Hidden Identity by JS Stephens - 78 pages
Caitlin Grant had spent years touring with Harriet and the Heartwreckers, but had rarely taken any time off for herself, let alone make time for any relationships. Besides, her alter ego, Harriet Benson, romped through boytoys by the dozen, breaking their hearts right and left.

Rose Grant was a thoughtful minister in Brook Center, MN, who worked with a church and a college ministry. She enjoyed her life, loved her college kids, and was happily single.

Fate threw these two together when Caitlin made an unexpected visit to the hospital following a concert, and Rose just happened to go into the room.
http://xenafiction.net/scrolls/js_stephens_hidden_identity.html

Saturday, August 24, 2013

The Titans


                                        The Titans - Original Air Date October 30, 1995




The episode begins with Xena leaving Gabrielle to take care of Argo while she battles a band of thugs on the road. The leader of the thugs, Hesiot, is clearly well known to Xena. After defeating his cronies, Xena makes to go after Hesiot on horseback, whistling for Argo. Unfortunately, thinking she was being helpful, Gabrielle has removed Argo's bridle, and the time it takes Xena to put it back on gives Hesiot a big lead. Xena is clearly not happy with Gabrielle, and takes off after Hesiot in a bad mood.


After Xena departs, Gabrielle is drawn into a nearby cave by the sound of chanting. When she enters the cave, she finds a group of cult members dressed in robes, attempting to recite a sacred chant that will wake "The Titans" – those whom the cult worships. They need the Titans to help them solve the problems in their village. Unfortunately, despite having read the chant 5 different ways, it has not worked. Gabrielle, after listening, realizes that they are reading the chant wrong – it is a Dorian chant, but they are reading it with an Ionian rhythm. She asks if she may try, and they agree.


Gabrielle recites the chant the correct way, and suddenly the walls shake and release the Titans. The cult members bow to them, but the Titans ask to know who it was that released them. When Gabrielle comes forward they kneel to her, honoring her as the "Liberator of the Titans", and promising to do her will.


We move to Xena, who has chased Hesiot into a tavern. Xena quickly takes control of the situation, tying up Hesiot. At that moment, another band of thugs arrives to rescue him. Realizing that she is outnumbered, Xena weighs up her options when Gabrielle arrives, with the Titans in tow. The thugs attempt to flee, but Gabrielle gives the order for the Titans to 'disperse the ruffians' and they oblige. She then introduces them to Xena, who is less than impressed with the whole situation.


Oblivious, Gabrielle gives the three Titans orders for clearing the road, fortifying the dam and cleaning out the well – the jobs the villagers needed completed. While Crius and Thea seem happy to oblige, Hyperion is clearly unhappy taking orders from Gabrielle, whom he doesn't believe to be a goddess. While the villagers celebrate Gabrielle, Xena and Hesiot are also less than convinced that all is as it seems. Xena questions how long Gabrielle is going to be able to convince the Titans that she is a goddess. Gabrielle is adamant that she trusts them, however, and has complete control of the situation.


Later, the Titans return from their 'chores', hungry and looking to be fed. When Gabrielle offers for them to share with the villagers, Hyperion loses his temper, and demands that Gabrielle use her 'godly powers' to create a feast for them. Backed into a corner, Gabrielle tries to keep the act up and threatens the Titans with her wrath. Clearly unconvinced, Hyperion blows Gabrielle over, proving to them all that she is not a goddess after all. Xena comes out to act as Gabrielle's protector, as the Titans are now angry and want to punish her. Xena slices Hyperion's foot with her sword, and as the villagers flee to safety, Hyperion begins to destroy the village in a violent rage. They all flee to a temple, which is holy ground for both the Titans and the villagers, and thus they are safe there.


Back at the Titan's cave, Hyperion remarks that Crius is still in love with Thea, who is clearly with Hyperion now. Hyperion then gets up to leave, intending to go after Xena, who is standing in the way of them getting at Gabrielle. Hyperion declares that they still need Gabrielle for the second chant, and the other two both agree.


Back at the temple, more homeless villagers are arriving. Hyperion stands outside and declares that he will continue to destroy their village and all in it until Xena and Gabrielle give themselves up. The villagers are already becoming hostile towards the pair for the damage that has been caused.


Meanwhile, Gabrielle discusses the situation with the young priest, Phillius. He feels responsible for the events because it was his idea to try and release the Titans. To make him feel better, Gabrielle accepts half the blame. Overhearing their conversation, Hesiot remarks that they are both idiots, and that the 'old' Xena would have known what to do in this situation. He argues that the Titans will be looking for an ally, and therefore the smart thing to do would be to switch sides and join forces with the Titans. He offers to be Xena's lieutenant.


When a village woman comes hysterical into the temple and says that the village children have not returned from a holy walk, Xena decides to go looking for them, leaving Hesiot to be guarded by a villager. Outside Hyperion hears the children approaching the Titan's cave, and chases them inside where he plans to kill them all. Crius stands up to him, arguing that killing children is wrong, and the pair begin to fight, causing the cave to start crashing down around them. Xena arrives in time to save the children, but in a rage Hyperion murders Crius, much to Thea's horror.


Back in the temple, Hesiot had been working on convincing the villagers to turn against Xena and join forces with the Titans. When Xena arrives back with the rescued children, the men strike, capturing Xena so that they can give her to the Titans. On the way to the cave, Hesiot talks up how the Titans are going to make them kings. Inside the wagon in which they've got Xena imprisoned, however, Xena is hurriedly making her escape.


When Hesiot approaches the Titans and presents the wagon where Xena was imprisoned, they find her gone. Furious, Hyperion kills Hesiot and the villager. The Titans return to the cave where Hyperion tries to convince Thea that all can still go to plan. He intends to use Gabrielle to awaken the rest of the Titans in order to declare war on the Olympian gods. Xena, having escaped Hesiot, hides in the cave, overhearing the conversation.


Xena returns to the temple and explains the Titan's plan to the villagers. Realizing that they need Xena's help, the villagers follow her lead and begin to put together a plan to defeat the Titans. While they are working, Gabrielle and Phillius come up with another plan. It turns out that there is a chant which puts the Titans back to sleep, hidden under the altar in the cave. Gabrielle is very enthusiastic about it, but when they explain it to Xena she brushes it off as being too dangerous.


Later that evening, Xena begins waking the villagers up to put the plan into action. She finds Gabrielle and Phillius sleeping in a close embrace in a private chamber. Xena is clearly worried that Gabrielle may have done something foolish during the night. When Xena isn't looking, Gabrielle disobeys her instructions and takes off for the cave alone. In the cave Gabrielle sneaks past the sleeping Titans and retrieves the correct chant from under the altar. Just as she is opening the scroll to read it, however, she is captured by Thea, who has awoken.


Caught by the Titans, Hyperion tries to force Gabrielle to read the chant to awaken the other Titans. Gabrielle, using her extensive stalling techniques, tries to hold off on reading the chant until Xena and the reinforcements arrive. Just as Gabrielle runs out of ideas, and in desperation declares that the chants aren't working because she is no longer a virgin, Xena arrives with the villagers. Using herself as bait, Xena and the villagers trap Hyperion's arm, and prepare to kill him. Just as Xena goes in for the kill, Thea interrupts; begging Xena not to kill him and handing her the chant that will put them back to sleep. Gabrielle calls for the chant because it turns out she is still a virgin and was deliberately misreading the other chant.


Just as Xena is passing the chant to Gabrielle, Hyperion frees himself from the shackle, and tears the chant in half with a piece flying onto a rock. He battles with Xena, and then realizing that Gabrielle is the key, changes direction and goes after her instead. Working quickly, Xena retrieves the missing piece and using her whip as a rope, swings down, knocking Hyperion into a hole in the cavern and giving Gabrielle the chant to read. Gabrielle reads it and as they wait, the Titans become stone again.


Back in the temple, Gabrielle says goodbye to Phillius. As she and Xena leave, they apologize to each other for the last few days, and reaffirm their friendship. As they set off, Xena jokingly warns Gabrielle to never touch her horse again.


Cast

Lucy Lawless as Xena

Renée O'Connor as Gabrielle

Mark Raffety as Hyperion

Amanda Tollemache as Thea

Edward Campbell as Crius

Andy Anderson as Hesiot

Paolo Rotondo as Philius

Syd Mannion as Calchas

David Mackie as Rhodos

Jack Dacey as Creon

Sian Hughes as Young Woman

Peter Morgan as Barkeep

Maggie Tarver as Villager #1

Simon Cameron as Villager #2

Tania Anderson as First Woman

Julianne Evans as Second Woman


Disclaimer 
There was no humorous disclaimer for this episode.


Quotes

"Don't be sorry, just improve."
-- Xena in "The Titans"

"May I speak to you, oh sacred one?"
-- Xena in "The Titans"

"You just think I'm a kid."
"No I don't, I just don't have time to convince you right now."
-- Gabrielle and Xena in "The Titans"

"Well, that's your problem! I'm not a virgin anymore!"
-- Gabrielle in "The Titans"


Trivia

The chant used to free and imprison the Titans is spoken in Greek. However, the English translation makes little sense: "Thank you very much! So and so! Hello, Good morning! Hello Goodnight! Hello..." and then the words "Kali noches" - good night again, but as mixture of Greek and panish.

Xena does not use her chakram in this episode.

Thursday, August 22, 2013

Thursday's Teaser - Phantom of the Heart by Stein Willard


Excerpt from Phantom of the Heart by Stein Willard - 300 pages
http://www.academyofbards.org/fanfic/s/steinwillard_phantonofthe%20heart1.html



Cybralle had looked everywhere—the stalls, the garden and finally the blacksmith's shop. But Sterling was nowhere to be found. With purposeful strides she walked back to the Palace. She startled the guard when she came to a stop before him.

“Have you seen the Princess?”

“She left the Palace almost four candle marks past, Commander.”

“Was she alone?”

“No, Commander. She was in the company of the Royal Guide.”

Lima! Cybralle knew immediately where to go. She was just about to turn the corner of Lima's erstwhile home, when she heard her daughter's voice. Sterling's voice was raw with pain as she pleaded with her unknown companion. Her mother instinct kicked in as she reached for her sword, ready to storm in and defend her daughter, when a man's voice stopped her.

“I swear I am not here to torture you, Your Highness.”

“Then leave me the dignity to mourn in peace, Romulus Harpon.”

Cybralle's eye widened at hearing the faceless man's name. It could not be impossible! Romulus Harpon died almost twenty years ago. She knew because he took an arrow to the chest only to die later. He was one of her best warriors and she was saddened by his death and the loss of his expertise. She drew her sword. The other alternative was that this man could be impersonating the long dead warrior. What would he gain from using a dead man's identity? Cybralle abhorred treachery and she liked it even less that this imposter was in the presence of her daughter.

She stepped around the house, her sword drawn. “Romulus Harpon died in battle twenty years ago. Who are you and what do you want with my daughter?”

Sterling turned to look at her. The man, however just stood there, his back still turned to her. Cybralle slowly skirted the man, her sword in the ready. Suddenly alarmed, Sterling climbed to her feet, her dagger also drawn.

“Is it true what my mother says,” Sterling asked, her voice was sharp. Cybralle had almost moved around the man when he spoke again.

“The Commander is correct.”

Cybralle felt her senses buzz, reading her body for the anticipated battle. The man turned his head in her direction and Cybralle faltered. She blinked at the man as she lowered her sword.

“Rom!”

“Commander.”

Stunned beyond words, Cybralle could only stare at the man, taking in the familiar features. Romulus was indeed alive! He didn't even look as if he had aged that much either. What was she missing?

“What sorcery is this, Rom? I saw you take an arrow to the chest. No one could survive such an injury.” She studied the man closely, sensing the strange aura surrounding the man.

“We cannot talk here. I do not want to meet with Lima.” Romulus said. He sounded also resigned.

Cybralle's eyes narrowed. “Why should I trust you, Rom?”

The man took a step closer and Cybralle quickly lifted her sword. “Because I am not the enemy. Besides, I am on an errand.”

“What errand?”

“Where can we go where we will not be disturbed?” Romulus' eyes glittered now with impatience.

Cybralle prayed she wasn't ever going to regret her decision. She sheathed her sword. “Follow me.”

She led them through a few backstreets, passed noisy inns and drunken soldiers loitering in the streets. They came to a stop before a sturdy door. Cybralle knocked three times. The door opened into a small room that looked like the office of a Scribe. There was a desk which was littered with scrolls and ink pots. Except for the desk, the only other piece of furniture was a large cupboard. Giving the man at the door a curt nod she led her companions deeper in to the room.

“What is this place?”

Cybralle grinned at the blatant curiosity in her daughter's voice. “The kingdom's best kept secret.” She walked over to the cupboard and looked at Rom and Sterling. “Watch your heads.”

She grinned at the identical confused looks which came over the other two's faces. Opening the cupboard doors, she led them down a set of stairs until they reached a door. She gave them a quick look over her shoulder before she opened the door.

Both Sterling and Rom gasped in shock as their eyes took in the room. Cybralle could definitely imagine their surprise. She remembered when she was brought here by one of her men almost ten years ago. She was completely stunned that such a place even existed least of all in the Royal City. The owner was a noble man who, after having travelled extensively throughout the known world, had brought back the idea of an exclusive entertainment establishment for the nobility. No questions were asked and no answers were offered.

Her eyes took in the scene before her. She hadn't been here in years, but not much have changed. The place was still decorated in the lush Persian style of rich flowing silks, flowers and scented candles. The floors were covered with thick Oriental carpets which were strewn with flower pedals. On an elevated platform were three scantily clad girls of Oriental origin doing a slow sensuous dance to a foreign sounding melody coming from a group of musicians in the corner of the hall.

A serving girl quickly made her way over to them. “Your table awaits you, milady.” Cybralle threw a quick glance at Sterling, not in the least surprised by the myriad of emotions flashing over her daughter's face. First there was confusion, then disappointment and then anger.

“Does mother know?” The question was hissed through clenched teeth.

“Who do you think I bring here?” Cybralle almost laughed out loud at the astonished look on Sterling's face.

“She knows?”

Cybralle nodded before leading them to a table in the corner of the hall. The serving girl came over with a platter filled with cold meat cuts and pastries. Another girl placed two flasks of wine on the table. She turned to look at Rom, who'd been quiet all this time, his eyes flickering over the room. He must've felt her eyes on him, because he turned to look at her.

“Any inn would have sufficed.”

Cybralle shook her head. “You would have been recognized. I did not fancy myself answering questions to which I also do not know the answers.” She filled three goblets with wine and waited until they each had taken a sip. “What is it you wanted to tell us?”

The man emptied his goblet and quickly served himself again. Feeling generous tonight, she gave Rom a few seconds to boost his courage. In the meantime, she studied Sterling. The girl looked drawn and pale. Her slumped posture radiated defeat and her eyes, the few times they had met hers, were dark with sorrow. She desperately wished she could take the crippling pain from her daughter, but there was no possible way to that. She jumped slightly when Rom slammed his goblet on the table, an air of determination about him.

“I know where the Princess' spouse is.”

Sterling, who had been taking a sip from her wine, spat it across the table, spraying Cybralle who sat there blinking at Rom. Cybralle vaguely remembered seeing Sterling move, but when the table flipped over onto its side, she quickly surged to her feet. Sterling had her dagger pressed against Rom's neck.

“I have warned you before,” Sterling said in a lethal voice, even as fresh tears began to seep out of the corner of her eyes and coursed down her cheeks.

Moved by her daughter's tears, Cybralle gave the man an accusing glare. She noticed that even with the sharp, dangerous-looking dagger pressed against his neck, Rom appeared unflappable. His eyes were dark as they held Sterling's. “Why are you doing this, Rom? Why are you hurting my child?”

The man's dark blue eyes were open and honest as he carefully angled his head to look at her. The action caused the knife to move, earning him a razor thin cut to his neck which immediately began to bleed.

“She keeps on mumbling the Royals Princess' name from sun up to sun down.” Rom swallowed. “Some days she mumbles something about…about…I think it sounds like ‘keeping the faith'.”

Cybralle saw a look of such pain cross over Sterling's face, before she pulled away from Rom and sunk onto the chair. Cybralle quickly went to kneel at Sterling's chair. “Are you alright?”

She watched closely as Sterling shut her eyes and lowered her head. “She made me promise to keep the faith before I left for the Wastelands.”

Cybralle clutched Sterling's knee. “Do…do you think it is her?”

“I want to try anything before I just give up on her,” Sterling mumbled. When she lifted her head, Cybralle felt her heart lift at the look of purpose on Sterling's face. Sterling turned to Rom. “If she is alive, why did she not come back to me?”

Rom, using a small piece of cloth, dabbed at the cut in her neck. “That, you will probably have to ask her yourself. She has been very sick and is still recovering.”

“Where is she and when can we leave?”

Cybralle saw a shadow came over Rom's face as he looked at her. “Unfortunately I can only take one person with me. Taking more than one can become too dangerous.”

She shook her head. “You must be addle-brained if you think I will let my daughter and heir to the throne travel unaccompanied with a man who miraculously returned from the dead.”

Rom shrugged. “There is nothing more I can do, Commander. Either I take the Princess with me or I take you with me.”

Cybralle skewered Rom with a hard stare, before she turned away to look at Sterling. She could read the answer in the Sterling's eyes even before she voiced it.

“I need to find out if it is her, Umah. If she is injured she needs me.”

Looking at her daughter, Cybralle felt fear winding down her spine. She wasn't like Lima. She doubted she would be strong enough if she was to lose her daughter. Sterling was the best part of her. She had helped conceive her on a star-filled night in a small hut in the forest. The ritual had taken a lot from her, but she had gained something priceless in return. She wasn't ready to lose that…not yet.

“Make sure you return in one piece. If not I will take every able-bodied man in this kingdom and come looking for you.” She turned to Rom. “She better come back or this time I will make sure that you stay dead.”

Wednesday, August 21, 2013

A Short Q&A With KD Bard

                                                                                       KD BARD




1. Why did you start writing?
For as long as I can remember, I’ve always enjoyed writing.  I took creative writing classes in both High School and College.  I started writing after I found fan-fiction on line and through that it was something I was capable of doing.

2. If you had to do it all over again would you still write?
Yes.  It would have been nice to be able to make a living from writing, but at this point, I’ll be happy to use it for mad money when I retire.

3. Once you’ve written a story do you ever sit down and read it for enjoyment?
Yes, and when I do read my own work, I often forget I wrote it.  I’ll be reading along and something will make me laugh or cry and I’ll think, “Man!  This is good!”  Then I remember I’m the one who wrote it and it makes me proud.  If I can make my own self laugh or cry when reading one of my works, I feel I’ve done a good job with the story.  Some of the books make me cry every time I read them.

4. How did you start writing Xena fan fiction?
I never really considered writing with the intent to be published until one day, my then, fifteen-year-old son, introduced me to Xena.   Before long, I was hooked on the show and began surfing the net looking for more information – that’s when I discovered fan fiction and I read everything I could find.  At some point it dawned on me that this was something I could do, so I began to write the Bille/Cat Commitment Series under the pen name kd bard.  The Commitment series is big-time Uber.  Next came the book, On A Wing And A Prayer which I submitted to Blue Feather Books for publication in 2005.  Since then, I’ve written and had published, Yesterday Once More (a 2009 Golden Crown Literary Society Award winner in the area of Speculative Fiction), and the first two books of the Billie/Cat series, titled “In a Family Way” and “Unchained Memories”.  The 3rd book in the series, titled Happy Campers, is due out this fall.

5. Is your muse a constant companion, or does it abandon you for long periods of time?
She hovers in the background and pokes me once in a while when a situation comes up for a new story line, and she’s always quick to respond when I sit down to write – no matter how long it’s been since the last time.

6. How do you feel about sequels?
Love them! Like I mentioned, Books 1 and 2 of the Commitment Series are already published with Book 3 on the way. I have another 5 books in the series already written and ready for editing over the next several years.

7. Is writing a quiet thing for you, where there can't be any noise or conversation going on?
Just the opposite.  I write best when the TV is on in the background.  I’m not really watching it, but the white noise is soothing to me.  I’m sitting in my office right now writing to the gurgling sound of the fish tank.

8. Do you prefer to write/read romance, angst, horror etc, etc?
That’s a good question.  All of my books have romance in them, but I wouldn’t say they are strictly romances.  All of them have some amount of angst, but also a significant amount of humor.  Yesterday Once More was speculative – somewhat futuristic, but not SciFi , and I am currently working on another historical/speculative fiction titled The Blue Feather.  My characters tend to encounter life-altering situations, sometimes dangerous ones.  My books explore both the good and bad sides of romantic relationships.  The characters are flawed and vulnerable.  The romantic relationships between my characters are integral to the story – but the relationship itself if seldom what the story is about. I’m not into writing horror, or fantasy, and I am definitely not a SciFi writer.

9. What usually sparks a story idea for you?
Almost anything.  I could be the interaction I see between two people in a restaurant, or something I see on television.  Ideas for the Billie/Cat Commitment Series come from the characters themselves.  Once I begin writing, they take over and lead the way.  While writing, ideas come to mind for other story arcs.  I have never been successful intentionally brainstorming for storylines.  I have much more success if I allow myself to recognize a potential book in the people, places, events and things around me.

10. Where do your ideas come from?
The storyline for Yesterday Once More came from a song that was popular a few years ago in which someone finds a very old love letter in the glove box of a used mustang and falls in love with the author. A lot of the fodder for the Billie/Cat series comes from raising two sons… and from having three grandchildren.  When an idea comes to mind, I’ll text it to myself and add it to my cache of ideas when I get home.  Sometimes the ideas mature into books – and sometimes not.

11. What advice can you give to future writers?
Never give up on your dream.  Even if you never intend to be published, writing is a wonderful way to express your soul and to give voice to your emotions.  If you DO plan to be published, there are so many ways to achieve that these days.  One word of advice – if you plan to self-published, please, please, please get yourself a good editor.  Anyone can self-publish a book, but the smart writers do what is necessary to make sure their book is the best it can be before it’s published.

12. What has the show Xena meant to you?
Xena changed my life – quite literally.  I mentioned earlier that my then, 15 year old son introduced me to the show. I believe the first time I watched it was during the season 2 run. I was married to a man at the time, and struggling everyday with the feeling that something wasn’t right. When I found Xena and  fan fiction, it all suddenly became clear to me.  I finally realized who and what I was… and what I was missing in my life. Here I am, 16 years later, happily married to my wife and the author of five published books.  Xena opened the closet door for me… a closet I didn’t even realize I was hiding in.

13. How do you feel about the way it ended?
I hated the ending.  I have re-watched the entire six seasons with my wife – except for the last episode.  I refuse to ever watch it again.  There were far better ways they could have ended the series.  I am still very angry about it.  I am hoping with all my heart that the rumors of a X/G movie are true.  They need to repair all the lesbian hearts they broken when they ended the series.

14. How real are your characters to you?
My characters are extremely real to me.  I feel their love, and their pain.  I revel in their victories and I morn their losses.  I feel their passion and their angst.  They make me laugh and cry and they touch my soul.  Even my secondary characters are important to me.

15. Do your characters speak to you?
Absolutely.

16. Are you in control of your story, or do the characters run the show?
I’d like to think I’m in control, but we all know better.  I tend to set the direction for them, but they almost always take over and I ride shotgun.

17. Have you created a character that you would like to meet?
I’d like to meet all of them.  Of course, Billie and Cat are most definitely Xena and Gabby archetypes.  Cass and Rox  from On A Wing And A Prayer are archetypes as well.  Maggie from Yesterday Once More is a red-headed spitfire who I’d love to meet in person.  If I wasn’t already married, I think I could fall in love with any of them.

18. How would you feel about another writer giving one of your characters a cameo in their story?
I’ve never really thought about it – but that would be interesting.

19. Has online writing changed your life in any way?
As I mentioned earlier, it changed my life in a big way.  When I began the Billie/Cat series, I published it on line and through my on-line writing, I met some remarkable people – many of whom I am still very good friends with today.  I was introduced to the Golden Crown Literary Society (GCLS) through my on-line connections and it was at the GCLS 2007 Atlanta conference that I met the wonderful woman I am currently married to.  Yes – it changed my life in a big way.

20. Have you ever been stalked on the internet by an overzealous fan?
Yes – on line and in person. This person crossed the boundaries of fandom… It was nerve wracking to say the least.

21. Which one of your online stories is your favorite?
I’d have to say Sweet Angel from the Billie/Cat series.  It had a 2-box of Kleenex rating.  It makes me cry every time.

22. Do you have to do a lot of rewrites?
I generally have to do a lot of edits.  I publish with Blue Feather Books (www.bluefeatherbooks.com), and every book has to go through the editing process – which I have to admit is VERY painful.  Here’s how it goes for each and every book:  I submit the book and wait for the first round of edits from the editor.  I receive the edits and my wife has to unscrew me from the ceiling after I’ve blown my cork over all the red marks in the manuscript.  Next, I calm down and begin going through the edits and realize the changes aren’t so bad.  Repeat at least two times.  Even the most seasoned writers have to do rewrites.

23. Is there ever a point in your writing where you get stuck each and every time? How do you get out of it?
I get stuck at least once in every book I write.  The more I try to force the writing, the more stuck I get – kind of like spinning your tires in mud.  When this happens, I’ll take a break for a few days then get back to it.  If I’m still stuck, I’ll discuss it with my wife and by talking it out with her, I can usually find the path forward again.  Sometimes when I’m stuck, I’ll get into Google and do more research for another part of the story.  This often spurs ideas.  I’ve never scrapped a book because of writer’s block.  I've always been able to resolve it one way or another.

24. Which part of the writing process do you enjoy the most and why?
I love it when the characters take over.  I’m not an outliner, but I generally know where I want the story to go and how I want it to end.  Between the start and the finish, I tend to let the characters take me where they want to go.  It’s an awesome experience to hand the reins over and follow rather than lead.

25. When you're working on a story are you obsessed with it until it's done?
Truth is – real life often gets in the way of the fun stuff.  Like I said earlier, I have a full time job, a wife, a home that seems to be in a constant state of renovation, and a family, so I actually have to make time to write.  I’ve been known to pull all-nighters when I’m on a roll, but I don’t feel like I have to write every day.

26. Who are your favorite top five writers? Online or published.
I don’t have a lot of time to read, but if I had to choose, I’d say, Lynn Ames, Erica Lawson  and Chris Paynter are a few of my favorites.  My wife does most of the reading in our house.  We have a huge library in our home with literally 4,000 plus books.

27. The song says "Who rules the world? Girls." If that were true would the world be a better place?
I believe women are nurturers and way better negotiators than men.  Women can multitask better than men.  Women are more compassionate (especially with children and those less fortunate), better planners and deep thinkers.  Women are more creative and more willing to compromise to settle conflicts in a non-violent way.  Unlike several male leaders in this world, women in general do not possess the shoot’em first, and ask questions later cowboy mentality.  The world would indeed be a better place in women were in control.

28. Do you write a story straight through, or do you write in pieces, then put it all together.
I write sequentially- start to finish.

29. Do you read books for pleasure while you are writing?
No. I am always afraid of subconsciously using someone else’s ideas, so I absolutely do not read other authors while I’m writing a book.

30. Do you have a favorite Greek God?
I’m kind of partial to Ares and Aphrodite is the bomb!

31. Do you have a pet peeve?
My day to day pet peeve is making left hand turns while driving. Left hand turns are so unfair.  If the traffic is heavy, cars from 2 or 3 miles away could hold you up.  Ugh!  My writing pet peeve is editors who don’t follow the same rules.  I had three different editors for one of my books and I had to rewrite it three times because they all had their own set of editing rules.  Frustrating!

32. What do you see yourself doing in the future?
I see myself continuing to work full time and writing part time for the next several years then I’ll retire and split our time between our homes in Vermont and New Mexico.  I will probably write more regularly when that happens… or maybe I’ll work at Home Depot!  Love those power tools!

33. What is your favorite word?
Sweetie.

34. What is your least favorite word?
I’d have to say that nasty “C” word.

35. What turns you on?
The sexy Xena/Gab video clips set to seductive music on Youtube.  Some of them are amazing.  Oh – and Rachel Maddow… she’s my secret girlfriend.  Oops! Did I write that out loud?

36. What turns you off?
Bare-chested men with hair all over their backs – Ewww!

38. What sound or noise do you hate?
The sound of my grandkids crying.

39. What is your favorite curse word?
God Damn It!

40. What profession other than yours would you like to attempt?
Air plane pilot

41. What profession would you absolutely not like to participate in?
Septic worker

42. If Heaven exists what would you like to hear God say when you arrive at the pearly gates?
Come on in, the party’s about to begin.  Oh, and by the way, Xena, Gab and your brother Steve are there waiting for you!



Here is KD Bard's favorite story:
Sweet Angel by kd bard - 113 pages
In the author's own words, time to buy stock in Kleenex! In the 13th chapter of kd bards' series, Billie and Cat face the worst trial to face them yet, a parent's worse fear. As Laurel finally comes for a visit to meet everyone and spend some time getting to know them, Skylar is diagnosed with a serious illness. As family and friends try to pull together, Billie and Cat's lives are in a spiraling turmoil that is pulling them apart as their reactions to the circumstances differ, until it seems there is no hope. With a bit of unexpected tough love from Laurel, Janice, and loving support all around, the family rallies to stand together and keep their sky bird from flying away. A beautifully tender story sure to touch you deeply, especially at the end.
http://www.xenafiction.net/scrolls/kd_bard_sa1.html

Tuesday, August 20, 2013

Tuesdays With Phineas Redux

'Xena Redux', or should that be 'Redivivus'?

Pre-title opening sequence, short quick edits—Gabrielle and Xena go to Japa, where Xena is killed. After many adventures Gabrielle, full of sorrow, goes off on her own to carry on Xena’s work. Then Gabrielle wakes up at their campsite in the sunshine of a new day beside a rivulet in the Grecian countryside, and standing beside her is the tall dark form of Xena: it was all a bad dream. Que TV opening titles—‘Xena, Warrior Princess’, Series Seven.

Japa never happened. The back-story that Xena gave for her actions in Japa was all fantasy. It was a dream, and now Gabrielle has Xena with her to go on happily into the future. Only this time things will be different.

No more bandying around making faint hints about their sexuality. The duo are a duo from now on, enjoying their sexuality and partnership openly; within reason, of course. No more grotesque episodes like ‘Fishsticks’. No more musical episodes. No more chasing badly-acted warlords across the steppes. No more hilarious episodes where Gabrielle falls in love with some dude from the sticks. No more over-the-top episodes where mad Gods take the warrior women to fantastic landscapes to battle unknown terrors, just on the Gods’ whim. No more anachronistic meetings with various Roman Emperors. No twenty-five year ice gap. No Eve/Livia. No Eli wannabe’s. Absolutely no more crucifixions. And no more heart-wrenching story-arcs where Xena breaks with Gabrielle, or Gabrielle breaks with Xena, for long periods filled with angst, horror, despair, and tragedy. In fact, everything from now on is going to be rosy.

In Series Seven the story lines will be those of a serial. That is, not a series. The difference being that the same plot, characters, and purpose follow through the entire twenty-one episodes, until the final satisfying climax is reached. Although there will be moments when separate escapades side-track the women warriors, during the course of the wider adventure. There may be tears, smiles, and narrow escapes, along the way; but in the end all will come right for our happy duo.

Ares’ activities, and the actions of most of the other Gods, will have to be toned down or even dispensed with. Joxer will appear, but in a slightly more realistic and serious characterisation. Most stories will be more reality based, than formally; but the same madcap atmosphere will remain, no matter what Xena and Gabrielle get up to. There will be fewer Uber ventures; but these will concentrate solely on Mel and Janice, who will have a short story-arc to themselves.

Gabrielle will be the blonde short-haired Amazon Queen, with expertise and capabilities almost equalling Xena. She will have lost that earlier fear and horror of killing people, which motivated her in her innocent youth; but will still be more controlled in this regard than Xena. Gabrielle will still have a dress sense to die for. Xena will no longer look down on, or deprecate, her colleague’s abilities; but regard her as an equal partner.

The stories will be stronger, and better written. The sets will be bigger and more expensive. There will be money to afford huge crowds of extra’s. It will all be shot in 16:9, on HD equipment with Blu-ray definition. The series will continue to be made in New Zealand; though with expeditions to other worldwide settings, as the story-line requires. There will be one sole Director throughout the series, thus ensuring a smooth continuity; unlike former series where the numerous Directors only succeeded in watering down the strength of the underlying ambience and concept within the series.

Of course, both the original stars of the series will return in triumph; taking the show to greater heights of success than it had ever achieved before. There will be at least two spin-off shows; ‘Mel & Janice’, and ‘Gabrielle, Amazon Queen’; both going on to individual success. There will be a ‘Xena’ movie which, like the Bond or Bourne franchises, is internationally acclaimed; sanctioning numerous follow-ups. And, of course, there will be frantically awaited, and equally successful, TV Series Eight & Series Nine, etc, ad infinitum. In fact, there really isn’t any reason why the show doesn’t then carry on forever, gaining awards and critical acclaim with each succeeding series!

*

“Aaarh! The sun’s bright this morning.” Phineas wakes up, groggily as usual. “Yaaawn! Another day, another dollar, I suppose. —Oh Gods! I’ve been dreaming again! Oh, damn!”

~Phineas Redux~

Story Recommendation:
The Shetland Bus By Phineas Redux
This is an Uberfic set in Great Britain in 1942. Zena Mathews, a young New Zealand woman, and her navigator Gabrielle Parker now work as pilots for a secret British Government organisation, part of SOE—Special Operations Executive. They fly on a mission involving fishing-boats; secret meetings out in the North Sea; spies; gun-running; and difficulties in piloting their Supermarine Walrus.
http://www.academyofbards.org/fanfic/p/phineasredux_theshetlandbus.html