Wow. Some months we don’t have much news, and then there’s months like this, when the news alone could fill an entire issue. So in the interest of saving some space for fiction in this issue, let’s dive right into it …
The first big news is that this issue contains the final story in the immense Black Idol story arc: Rena’s “Journey’s End 5″. I’m incredibly proud of the dozen writers who worked on it over the past three years, and I really hope you have enjoyed the twenty-seven chapters that we’ve brought you over the past year and a half. I could go on at length about how huge an accomplishment this is for us, but I shared most of that with you already in the Editorial for DargonZine 19-4, and there’s a lot more news to get to.
They say that every end is just another beginning, and it couldn’t be more true for us now: although we’re printing our last Black Idol story, this issue also contains the first chapter in Nick Wansbutter’s forthcoming Great Houses War series. Nick took an obscure event that happened 200 years in Dargon’s past and fleshed it out with a great series of stories that we’ll bring you in the coming months. Unlike the Black Idol, the Great Houses War doesn’t take place in the same time frame as our “contemporary” Dargon stories. It’s also the work of just one writer, whereas the Black Idol had ten writers. And while we haven’t printed anything but Black Idol stories for the past 18 months, the Great Houses War will only partially fill our issues, so you’ll start seeing other standalone stories in our pages again. Nick has put a lot of work into the Great Houses War, and it is another epic storyline that we hope you’ll enjoy.
And another major development is that earlier this month we held the 2006 Dargon Writers’ Summit, our annual gathering of writers to talk shop, get to know one another, kick around story ideas, and enjoy one another’s company. This year, Liam Donahue hosted the Summit in Cincinnati, Ohio. We covered a number of topics, including Dargon’s monetary systems, medieval watercraft, point of view and perspective, had a couple fun writing exercises, and laid plans for our next big story arc. For fun, we went hiking in the Kentucky hills, saw Rembrandt etchings at the Cincinnati Art Museum, went to a butterfly show at the Krohn Conservatory, played with sharks and parrots at the Newport Aquarium, and much more. It was a wonderful weekend of growth as writers, and we again affirmed how much we value DargonZine’s community of writers. Photos and a writeup can be found on the 2006 Summit page: http://www.dargonzine.org/summit06.shtml.
However, the biggest development at the Summit was a rearranging of roles and responsibilities. Running the magazine, the Web site, and our entire writing project is too big a job for one person, and we’re facing some challenges that I, as leader, haven’t found answers for. So we sat down and looked at what roles need to be covered: providing vision and leadership, editing the magazine, marketing and promotion, programming and Web site maintenance, and leading our mentoring program for new writers. We then asked for people to take on these roles, and ultimately everything got covered.
The upshot is that I will continue to send out issues as acting editor, but I’ll be transitioning the duties of project leadership and setting our direction to Liam Donahue and Jon Evans. I have every confidence that they — being the current and former Assistant Editors — can run DargonZine and the Dargon Project at least as well as I would. I think it’s the best thing for the project and everyone involved, and I’m really looking forward to what they’ll accomplish by bringing new ideas and new energy to the leadership role. I will continue to produce issues, while Dafydd will be helping out with Web site maintenance, former writer Rhonda Gomez will help out with publicity, and Jim Owens will continue to run our mentoring program for new writers. Our readers should see minimal disruption; if anything, you may see more rapid enhancements and improvements from us than have happened in the past.
As if all that wasn’t enough, the group took it upon themselves to try to immediately address DargonZine’s biggest challenge: our disappointing success rate getting new writers into print. Helping new writers is a big part of our mission, and is absolutely critical for the magazine’s survival. We recognized that ten years ago, when we first established a mentoring program to help bring our new writers up to speed. However, too few people who join the project ever get a story printed, and that’s a problem we’ve been kicking around for a while. However, this time around we came up with a solution that we think will dramatically change how effective we are at getting new writers involved and productive. I’ll save the details for another time, because we’re still working them out and aren’t ready to put them into practice just yet, but we’re really excited by this impending change.
So as you can see, this month has brought several major events and transitions for us: completing the Black Idol and beginning the Great Houses War, then another great writers’ Summit where we reorganized our roles for the better and came up with a framework for better serving people who are interested in writing for DargonZine.
That’s a whole lot of change, but it’s also very exciting because I believe those changes were overdue, and they position DargonZine to thrive and improve. Everyone left the Summit re-energized and with a new sense of DargonZine’s possibilities.
And while all that has been going on, we’ve also been writing more stories, like the two that follow in this issue. I hope you enjoy our epilogue to the Black Idol, and the prologue to the Great Houses War. You can continue to look forward to more stories from us throughout the year, as our Publishing Schedule indicates, plus more news as we begin to see the benefit of all the changes this month has brought.