April 2010

Edition 0002


WELCOME TO THE SECOND EDITION OF THE AH! NEWSLETTER

Welcome to the second edition of the Ah! Newsletter, and as you'll quickly realise this edition is somewhat shorter than the last.  Producing a hefty newsletter, even twice a year, is a lot of work for the staff here, so it was felt a shorter, more regular publication with a streamlined content would be much better for the site.

The content you'll find in this edition is hopefully the content you'll find in all editions to come.  The front page - this page - will contain important news and information about the site, as well as an introduction and welcome to any new Resident Authors who have joined us since the previous publication.

The second page is where you'll find the meat of the newsletter.  There will be three regular features on that page.  The first is a review section produced by a single member of The Authors Haunt discussing the works they've read at this site, elsewhere on the Net and in print.  The second is a "Top Tips" section.  Each month a range of authors will be asked to offer their one or two sentence top tips on a range of writing issues, collectively intended to help new authors.

The final section on page two will be an article.  Each month you'll find a new and interesting piece written by one of our members.  Sometimes the articles will be aimed at authors.  Sometimes they'll be aimed at editors.  Sometimes they'll be of interest to readers.  And once in a while we'll have a feature article completely unrelated to writing, editing, fiction or poetry, just to keep things interesting.

The back page of each new edition will contain a calendar of forthcoming events at The Authors Haunt, with links to the pages on the site where you can find more information about each event.  This calendar will show all events for the next six months, so checking it after each edition is published will keep you updated regarding anthology submission and publication dates, chat events and other notable dates coming up.

It is our hope that this new streamlined version of the newsletter will be much easier to produce while maintaining the quality you'd expect of any publication from this site, keeping you informed, educated and entertained.  Of course, if you have any comments or suggestions, we always welcome them.

FRESH FACES

In each edition of the newsletter we like to take the opportunity to welcome those Resident and Guest Authors who have joined us since the publication of the last edition.

These past several months have seen four new Resident Authors join us, along with a handful of new Guest Authors.

The Watchman was officially hosted on September 11th of last year, bringing with him a number of high quality stories and poems, among them "Lessons" and "Night Out", two personal favourites of mine.

Alisa Perne was next to join us in mid-January.  Her addition to the list of Resident Authors was a source of personal pride for me, as many members already know that she is my youngest sister.  Though she's still growing as an author, she has published a number of stories and poems that have been well-received by the membership.

At the end of January, Nexis Pas joined us as a Resident Author.  He had already established a name for himself on the Net before coming to us, and has published work in the pro-gay marriage "I Do" series of books, along with fellow Resident Author Bruin Fisher.  Having had the opportunity to read his work, I can see why so many people are fans of his writing.

Finally, in mid-February we were joined by Geoff Brown, a relative newbie in the online writing world, though you wouldn't know it from reading his innovative and entertaining stories.  His latest piece (at the time of publication), "Doris Comes Home", has been particularly well-received here at the site.

As for Guest Authors, we have seen a number of new talents join us since August last year, but the one I feel deserves a particular mention is our latest "recruit" Tiffany Cook.  Her poetry, which you can find in The Vault, is dark and disturbing, but is also powerful and moving.  I wouldn't be surprised to see her name in our list of Resident Authors in the future.

Rob Hawes

SITE NEWS & INFORMATION

Since the last edition of the newsletter the site has seen a number of changes, all designed to improve the features, facilities and services offered here at The Authors Haunt.  While progress in some areas has been slower than anticipated, in part due to the amount of work required and in part due to the inadequate numbers of staff and volunteers we have at the moment, progress has been made in all areas and the site's future looks to be a long and healthy one.

The most dramatic changes have taken place on the Community and in The Vault.  On the Community we've opened a new chat room, and while it has been somewhat quieter than hoped it is serving its core function - helping members of our Community to bond.  Due to some security issues we have had to integrate the chat room with the forum, restricting participation to registered members only, but otherwise it has functioned exactly as expected and has enabled a number of new friendships to be formed.

The Vault, meanwhile, has seen a total facelift.  While the old skin used the official site colours and blended better with the overall scheme, it appeared awkward and unprofessional.  The new skin is, for most people, a vast improvement.  Utilising a silver colour scheme, The Vault now appears fresh and original, is considered much easier to use and offers Guest Authors a more professional environment in which to showcase their works.  There are still some improvements to be made, but for the most part they're just cosmetic alterations.

We have also started offering forums to what we call "Established" Guest Authors - those who have published at least ten pieces in The Vault (or in Writing Projects or Anthologies), who have been members of the forum for a minimum of three months and who have made a minimum of fifty posts since joining.  In the future any author who meets these criteria will be able to request a forum for discussion of their work, and if the results so far are anything to go by this should boost the amount of feedback they receive.

Meanwhile, for Resident Authors the requirements for hosting here at The Authors Haunt will be reviewed and updated before the end of the month.  While we are anxious to bring new, fresh talent to the site, it is generally felt that Resident Author status should mean something, and that those applying should have to work towards the goal of being hosted.  I don't yet know what the criteria for hosting might be - the Management Advisory Committee will be discussing the matter soon - but Community membership, publication in The Vault and a set number of stories/poems are all likely requirements for the future.

This goes hand-in-hand with a forthcoming shake-up of the existing Readers' Circle in which new members will be recruited and a new structure will be implemented.  The ultimate goal is to enable decisions regarding hosting to be made faster, with a better vetting structure to ensure that only the best authors are selected for hosting.

Another major change to the site is the Search Engine.  Though work is still continuing on the Search Engine it is anticipated that it will be online and ready to go before the next edition of the newsletter is published.  Creating it has been a mammoth task as every story and poem has had to be manually entered into the database, including coding to ensure it is displayed the way we want it to be in the search results and keywords to enable members and visitors to find the stories and poems they're interested in.

In addition to our twenty-four Resident Authors there are eight Guest Authors who have work published in Writing Projects or in Anthologies whose work needs to be added and encoded.  To date, all authors have had their stories listed in the Search Engine, with seven requiring adequate keywords added to their work.  In the poetry Search Engine twenty-six authors have had their work added with appropriate keywords, with just six remaining.  However, the six remaining authors are the "big six" when it comes to poetry here, each of them with more than thirty individual pieces to add, so the work on the poetry side of things is only halfway to completion.

Finally, the Accredited Editor Project is making big strides towards its launch.  Thanks to generous donations by a number of authors, we now have the stories and poems we need to administer the Accreditation Test.  However, we still need a Project Manager to run this valuable service, and finding the right person for the job is proving to be a challenge.  If you think you might be up for the job, you can find out more about the requirements on the third page of this edition of the newsletter.


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