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stories behind the stories

Since I received a bunch of letters on how and why I write I decided to dedicate a page strictly to what was going on at the time of my writing and where my ideas sprung from.


The first story I ever wrote was Homecoming(although the first released story was Speak Now or Forever Hold Your Peace). I wanted to do a Sappho story with her being a female Autolycus - a real ladies lady <G> who had eyes for the bard. It would force Xena to make a decision. But I needed a plot to put around my simple 'first-time story'  so I made a simple murder mystery. People reacted enthusiastically to it so I created the sequel - Coming Home.

In Coming Home I had the warrior and bard returning home to tell their families of their joining on Lesbos. I used my own personal 'coming out' experience with my parents - my father was upset and (although he didn't react quite as harsh as Gabby's dad) it didn't sit well with him at all. It took him awhile to feel comfortable around me. My mom told me the next day that she was my mom no matter what choice I made in life. I saw Gabrielle's parents in a similar light with mom being the more accepting of the two. 

An online fan wanted to see something with Artemis so I added a 'God Problem' <G> to it for conflict. It also gave me the chance to spotlight Cyrene which I was hoping to do. People reacted enthusiastic to this one as well and kept asking - 'what happens next?' I answered them with Home Sweet Home.

Home Sweet Home is a title built on irony. There's nothing 'sweet' about it. I felt the series was getting too sugary sweet and the characters cartoonish in their love for each other. Stories lose interest to me when the terms of endearment get me nauseous <G>. Don't get me wrong - love is grand. But it can also be hell. I wanted Xena and Gabby to have a rift more believable than the third seasons <LOL>. But I wasn't sure what it should be. Given Gabrielle's mothering, affectionate nature the choice was easy - motherhood. Something that Xena, a woman who would give Gabby the world if she asked, couldn't give her. It's also something that Gabrielle herself doesn't understand until Zagerus (the warlord buffoon from 'ADITL') lays siege on the Amazons. But I wanted to add a modern day element, which the series often does. So I did - Couples relationship therapy courtesy of the village healer.

In the next tale, No Place Like Home I did the unthinkable. And boy did I catch Hell over it at the time (LOL)- I killed the bard at the very end. Xena and Gabby get their wish of a child (two children actually thanks to a screw up by Cupid (G)) but their happiness is short 'lived' when Gabrielle has complications with the pregnancy. When my own daughter was born I got an infection that they didn't identify for three days. She was fine. I was not. But as you see it did work out because I'm still here (G). 

Once I had my idea to kill the bard, I had a plan to bring Gabby back (unlike TPTB on X:WP(G) if I killed one of the main characters I better damn well come up with something better than 'I hit my head and therefore I don't remember'. I debated about whether to end the series here. I almost did because of the hostile letters I received stating 'I was terrible for ending it that way and I HAD to continue'. My favorite insult however, was from someone who claimed my name was 'winters' because of my cold, unmerciful heart (or words to that affect (G)).

But I wrote, Home At Last, instead of giving up. The reason you may ask? It wasn't because of the hate mail. It was because of all the people who said they actually cried as they read Xena struggling with her loss of the bard. It was for all the people who begged me to continue but didn't bully me. It was for those kind folks that I continued the series. As I said, before I finished 'No Place' I had the idea that Hades was Xena's father. I never believed the Ares paternity theory for a second. But I figure she must be a demi-god like Herc on some level. Herc had strength but what did Xena have I asked myself. The answer - survival. Xena escaped many a situation that would take any other mortal to Charon's boat. How did she manage it? Easy. Her FATHER HADES.

Hades calls Gabrielle to his realm so she can 'straighten things out' for when the duo finally arrive for good. That means tying up the loose ends with our favorite red shirts (G) Perdicus and Marcus. Of course Xena has to deal with her grief. Of course the Gods have to be petty. And since I loved 'Clash of the Titans' it felt like a wonderful way to put Xena in the situation like she did in Ulysses. Of course the bard is returned in the end and Hades reveals himself to his daughter who's very thankful to have her wife home with their children. I'm not sure if I'll continue this series anymore. I've considered jumping forward to the children being young all the way to them being teenagers. Inspiration hasn't struck yet but if it does you just might see another tale of gals and their youngin's (G).


When I first saw the Xena Scrolls I hated it (LOL). I did but then I fell in love with wonderful tales by Bat Morda and Della Street and I realized there's a lot to Janice Covington and Mel Pappas than the one ep allowed.

Magic of Egypt was born from the first scene. I tried to be very descriptive. Big Band Music. A crowded dance floor. A smoky room and a gorgeous dame in blue (G). I also wanted to 'femme' Janice up a bit but keep her in true forum - absolutely lovely in shimmering gold but incredibly uncomfortable (G) in the process. I loved the way it turned out and their story of discovering Xena and Gabrielle had been lovers was a wonderful prelude for them to take the step as well. As for the 'subplot' of Xena and Gabby, I loved the end of King of Assassins and wanted to use Cleopatra. And as for the ending I was stuck for two weeks on how to wrap it all together. One night at 2 in the morning I woke up and said 'That's it!'. I hoped on the PC and the rest is Xena fan fiction history (G).

Again fans asked so I delivered Magic of Paris. I wondered once more what could cause a conflict big enough to shake up Mel and Janice's relationship. The answer was a child. Unlike Home Sweet Home I wanted to add elements of 'modern day' to the dilemma. I also wanted to show the 'cocky, fearless' Janice in a new light - 'uncertain and scared'. I added many other issues into the story such as health as we age, parenthood, lesbianism and a few Sinatra tunes (G). I also wanted to deal the Xena's past and how that would effect her future in every step of her life. I'm very proud of this work as well. My computer crashed on the last chapter (I'm not sure what it is about tying up this series but it feels like bad karma (G)) but it turned out to be a blessing. I think my revision turned out better than the original.


Speak Now or Forever Hold Your Peace was the first story I ever released. It was the second one that I wrote (see Homecoming). I think Joxer is a great character with lousy scripts. I wanted to make Joxer the hero - someone who could be braver than Xena in fact. I also wanted to include many of the other Xenaverse characters. After seeing the Xena Scrolls I asked 'what was that battle between good and evil all about? and how DID Ares get stuck in that tomb?' And there you have it. My first 'first-time story'.

My next story was The Play. I love Salmoneus. The only Sal ep I saw at the time of writing this was Miss Amphipolis. When I saw the Herc eps and The Greater Good I almost fell out of my chair. I thought - People are going to think I copied this!! I just had more of a handle on Salmoneus than I realized. . .I just didn't know it (LOL). My goal was to write Sal as I saw him but also to write the story as an episode - going a lot further too I should add (G). I knew the censors wouldn't let Xena and Gabby kiss unless it 'wasn't real' (for lack of a better word) so I figured a theater play would be the most perfect place to start. A story within a story within a story (yes you read that right) is incredibly difficult to write but folks said I pulled it off very well (G). And it's probably still one of my favorites today.

If Xena isn't the right woman for Gabby then who is? I couldn't help but see how Ephiny lit up in 'The Quest' when Gabby announced she was staying with the amazons. Only trouble was how did I get Xena out of the picture? Once I managed that I had a new problem - what would Xena do once she returned? After I managed that I wondered, how can I keep them all as friends? Like the old saying, if it's not one thing it's another (LOL). After I answered all these questions my next fan fiction was born - The Queen, the Regent, the Warrior.

People asked if I ever planned on doing a story of the Gods. I wanted to have the bickering siblings of Aphrodite and Ares taking on each other in a battle over the warrior princess. With that came The Contest. I should say of all the stories I wrote this is the one I think I fell flat on. If I knew why I could change it but for some reason it just doesn't 'fit'. . .and I don't know why. People did enjoy it though and I think it does have some good scene but as a whole I don't consider it a 'shinning moment' in fanfic.

Loss of Virginity was a short little tale. I wanted to do something ambiguous in the narration - Something the reader doesn't understand until the end. I think I succeeded with this tale. It's not as long on lust as many of my tales and it's a bit romantic and raw.

Moment of Truth came next. I wanted to be original. I wanted to be fresh. I copied someone else work (LOL). Not intentional mind you. I try to read as much fan fiction as I can and use premises other folks have not but someone pointed out to me that it felt similar to another story on the web - I check it out and sure enough there it was (LOL). I don't mind though, I enjoyed this story because my premise was 'Would Xena turn away from battle to please her bard?' If you read the story you know the answer (G).

Thank the Gods For Henbane is one of my favorite passionate, comedy pieces I've written. Gabrielle's henbane induced 'YOU . . .ARE. . . BEAUTIFUL!' was priceless. I figured after a few years on the road together and Xena would see her this time as a passionate woman and not a hero-worshiping teenager like years before. Let's face it. . . an intoxicated bard is always good for a laugh (G). Trust me, I've been around enough of them to know<G>.

As It Should Be was written in 45 minutes. I wrote and wrote and wrote. Didn't even answer my phone when it rang! Why? Because the story just poured out of me. I wanted something loving and sensual and down right sexy. I wrote it for my friend Dexterus - the consort to me, 'The Queen of Subtext' in a little role playing group I belong to.  After a flame war on the netforum our little amazon tribe was born (aka improv writing group) and Dex won my hand. As my gift for her well fought battle (G), I dedicated this story to her. I found out later that she was 'kinda' seeing someone at the time who wasn't sure about moving forward in their relationship. After this and the dedication, her better half  figured she better make the jump or loose Dex to the 'Queen'. Although I considered Dex a friend and not a romantic interest,  I'm glad it was the push they needed and I'm happy to report they're still together after six years. This tale is also is one of my favorites that I look back to now and then.

Family Ties started much like Magic of Egypt - one scene that I couldn't get out of my mind. It was meant as a short, subtle comedy but ended up being over 20 pages long (LOL). I loved the idea of a broken down Xena, crying for her mommy. I knew of only one man that Xena would ever 'bow' to - Gabby's dad. Not for his sake mind you. . .but for her bard. I liked exploring Gabrielle's relationship with her parents and the part that Xena played as well. I wrote this story before Xena's foot shuffling, toe digging, nervous to the core scene in 'A Family Affair'. After that fourth season ep, I patted myself on the back (LOL). Like 'The Play', I got it 'right'.

Dueling Cousins came next. People were up in arms about rumors that subtext was dead and on and on. It happened from time to time (although season five was a washout 'subtextually'). It was also talked about that LL would be playing Sappho in season four (although the producers couldn't find a way to keep the subtext 'sub'). They didn't know. . .but I did (G). I wanted Sappho to be a relative of the warrior - a rival of sorts she's had for years. Gabrielle's 'commitment' is suddenly the prize in their latest 'fight'. Once more I wanted to put Xena and Gabby in a do or die situation. Not the death of their actual lives but a death to the partnership. If a woman who looked like Xena and sounded like Xena had wanted her - what would Gabby do? This story is 'relationship' heavy and if anyone's every been in unrequited love they would surely understand this little tale much, much better.

I hit a slump in my writing. Nothing about the rift inspired me to write and I found myself starting season four wondering if I'd ever write Xena fan fiction again. Then I saw Sin Trade and the crucifixion scene. I didn't know if they would use that scene in the series at the time but I had to write my own story about it. Many folks said this was a real tear jerker for them to read. I simply called it The End.

I still wasn't up to writing too much but Tim Wellman asked me to write a story for his racy page now defunked site called Callisto's Dirty Stories. 

I titled it Truth or Dare. He wanted someone to do something with the campfire scene from 'ANE'. I had my idea for a 'cutting room floor scene' from the ep and ran with it. I was reluctant because I never thought I could write Callisto but the fans who have strong heart rates and don't shy from erotica says I hit the nail on the head with this tale. Be warned. It's not for everyone and certainly not for those under 17. 

November 29th, 1942 was a little Janice and Mel story I couldn't get outta my head. Hard as nails Covington struck me as a real romantic gal once you won her heart. I played with the idea now and then and finally decided to put it on paper. As for the date - it's my dad's birthday (G).

Inside Outside was written after a friend posed the question 'If you think Xena and Gabby are now lovers in the series. . .when did it happen?'. I was still having a hard time writing and coming up with ideas. As a way of thanks, I dedicated this to her and her lover of 15 plus years. I wanted to have one situation scene through three sets of eyes. . . before the logical conclusion (or consummation - you pick the term (G)). I liked doing this first person present tense style which was new and very hard for me. It was a nice challenge and it was worth it to see how happy I had made my friends with a simple dedication (G).

I contacted TNovan after reading some of her Raising Melosa series stories on MaryD's site and ask if she'd like to work on a project. Not being pretension, I introduced myself and  I was surprised to learn that the reason she started writing fan fiction was because she liked my work so much.  Something To Talk About was the finished product. I liked the way this little tale turned out. Not so much a slap stick comedy or a high drama - it's a nice little yarn about Gabrielle and Xena trying to pull the wool over their friends eyes and finding love in the process. I just can't stay away from those first time stories (LOL).  

People enjoyed it and wanted to know when we would write together again.  Sometime later (season six) TNovan and I teamed up again to pen Henbane, Horsenappings and Other Obstacles. We wanted to do a 'murphy's law' comedy where everything that can go wrong for Xena and Gabby but, of course, in the end they save the day. Of the two pieces I have to admit that HHAOO is my fav.

All That Matters was written more of a challenge than an idea (LOL). My amazon elder smeef (from my writing group), wanted me to put a story together with heart and real feeling, not sex. I think I managed it well. I liked the end of 'Takes One To Know One' with Gabrielle surrounded by her family. With little dialog and mostly Xena's thoughts of the bard, I thought this one was nice - smeef said it caused goosebumbs. . .and yes that was a compliment (G).

The next 'series' I did was Conversations by Campfire set during Season Four. I took parts of the episode and worked them concentrating on the relationship between Xena and Gabby. Not my best episode series but it was a humble start to a much better one called Changes of Heart.

Barry Marshall had an inventive idea for a story. What if Gabrielle was actually the one behind all the folks who influenced Xena's journey toward good? That was the making of Warlord. He asked if I'd be interested in writing with him and I was pleased that he asked and happy with the results. This story takes a lot of different twist and I consider it one of the more original pieces out there right now since the fan fiction market is so saturated with stories at this point (VBG). 

I wanted to do a Christmas tale that brought all the characters together. I had two versions in mind - one alt and one general. So instead of writing one or the other I wrote both. I enjoyed being able to bring the family of Xena and Gabrielle together and 'home for the holidays' in Have Yourself a Merry Little Solstice (alt or gen).

Little Moments: A Day in the Desert is a Janice and Mel story. I was going to make it a series but my muse took me elsewhere and I haven't picked it up since. But that's okay. The story - one through Mel's eyes and one through Janice's - stands just fine on it's own.
I was asked by the merpup site to submit a story for Halloween contest. I don't think I won. I never heard back from them<G>. But readers got a kick out of it regardless. Since Xena and Gabby have faced some of the scariest things the world has ever seen I went with funny instead and tried to 'homage' every Halloween ritual I could in Candy or Chaos
Conqueroring Heroine (which has no page here yet) is an on going saga that is available on my egroups list. Eventually I'll publish it here to the site. It's two years in the making at this point and it's being written by myself and Amy Wilson (aka Murphy). Yeah, we're taking our time but it's a great story. And no, Xena is not the Conqueror in this's Gabrielle. How do you ask? Well you'd have to read the story<G>


This 'story' comes in two series Changes of Heart and Bonding of Souls. Let's face it folks - season five sucked. The warmth and compassion and trust had gone out of Xena and Gabby's relationship. Changes of Heart takes off where the ep 'Motherhood' leaves off, with Gabby walking away from the warrior over the 'Gabchak'.  It was also born out of the frustrations I was having with my (now ex) girlfriend at the time so if it seems very 'realistic and raw' at moments then that's why. Changes of Heart was meant to be my last Xena story. Disgusted with a chakram upside Gabby's head in the Season Five ender I decided I was done. And so was the bard in my story. When Barry Marshall, my UFFD pal, read it his first response was 'there will be a sequel right?' <LOL>. He wasn't the only one to ask. Lots of people read it and loved it. It wasn't so much my writing ablity but the fact they liked seeing the bard's 'mad as hell and not gonna take it' attitude. So I wrote a 'season' - 24 stories - that deals with Xena and Gabrielle's break up and reconciliation. In fact, people said they tuned back into season six who didn't plan to because my story helped fill in the blanks. No thanks needed Mr. Tapert<G>.

Bonding of Souls picks up where COH ends with Xena and Gabby back together. Each 'episode' is an expansion of the episodes of Season Six. Tapert gave me great material to work with in season six...well except for that suck ending - and no I don't mind Xena being killed in the series end. I do however mind a script littered with plot holes and ridiculous reasoning.  But Tapert did get his place in television history...the most hated ending in over 50 years. 

THE 'UBERS' and Original Fiction

Myself and the late Xena bard Tonya Muir did a little novelette called 1971. She was a wonderful new bard to the Xenaverse back in 1998 and her descriptive powers blow me away. (She passed away in Jan. 2001 after a battle with cancer.) I'm more of a plot and dialog person myself - so she seemed like the perfect one to 'spiff' it up.  About a month into the project she said she wasn't feeling well and two weeks later she told me she'd been diagnosed. Automatically I told her she wasn't bound to working on the project but she insisted on looking it over and lending her descriptive talents. The Xenaverse lost a great bard and an even better person.

As for the story itself...before Gabby's trip to India (Heck before the fourth season) I wondered what two uber characters would Xena and Gabrielle be in modern times. My first thought - a cop and a hippy in the early seventies. Both characters fight for the greater good - both go about it differently much like Xena and Gabby. This story has been totally reworked with the same main characters, Officer Carol Johnson and Radical Erin O'Fallon,  with a bit of  a harder edge to reflect the time period. It's being released in full length novel form by Baycrest Books under the new title 'One Belief Away'. Reason being (for one the year has changed (G) and )  I don't want people thinking they're purchasing the same story only to ask 'What the heck is this?'.  Is it still a good story? Yeah it is...the road to happiness is just a way bit harder for Carol and Erin in this one.

Irrefutable Evidence was a novel I wrote about 8 years ago that I dusted off and decided to publish as an uber. It was written years before Xena's premier but the story and characters sounded so much like an uber story that I had to rewrite it and put it out there for fans to see. Currently it's set for a Feb. 2003 release from Renaissance Alliance Publishing. It's the adventures of a police detective, Denise VanCook, and her witness, Sara Langforth, whom she's trying to protect to testify at a murder trial. Always being a big 'Cagney and Lacey' fan, I had to write a 'cop story' which is one of the reasons Denise's partner, Angie Michaels, is also a key player in the story. 

Contractor for Hire is a story that has only appeared on my egroups list. It isn't listed on the site (or anywhere else for that matter) but it's also forthcoming from Baycrest Books in 2003. It's the story of building contractor Karen Riggs and national lesbian magazine publisher Melissa (Mel) Wright with the pitfalls and passions of falling in love.

Also coming in the next year is a project I'm working with my bud, DS Bauden tentatively titled Pennsylvania Ave. I got to thinking after watching the history channel one night (yes that's what I do for fun<G>)...What would happen if someone knew the President was going to be assassinated thanks to their psychic ability but no one would believe them? How 'accessible' is our commander in chief to the common man who puts them in office? It's action, mystery, suspense story so no girl on girl romance<G>. But it will still please readers I'm sure.<G>

November 2002

CN's Tales of Romance©. All Rights Reserved. Photos created by CN Winters unless otherwise noted. Use with permission only. Thanks!