Magical Words at Three Years!


Today marks the three-year anniversary of the very first Magical Words post, and I wanted to use today’s post to mark the occasion.  You’ve heard the story of MW’s founding before, so I won’t bore you with that again.  Nor do I plan to use this space to plug the amazing new MW book, How to Write Magical Words:  A Writer’s Companion (Bella Rosa Books, $18), which is garnering rave reviews and slowly but surely making its way up the sales charts.  Oh, look!  Guess I plugged it after all….  I will mention that over the course of three years we’ve gone from being a tiny little site with basically no followers at all, to ranking in the top 2% of all sites in terms of traffic, and being recognized as one of the leading writing sites on the web.

But even that is somewhat beside the point.  I’d like to tell you all what MW means to me.  Those of you who comment on this site often thank us for offering advice or helping you with a writing issue.  I have to be honest with you:  this isn’t an act of altruism.  I get a tremendous amount out of this site.  And I guarantee you that I’m not the only one of us who does.

If you go back to that first post (it’s in the archives), you’ll see that it was written by Misty.  Appropriately so.  Misty and her wonderful husband, Todd, keep us up and running.  And Misty’s posts, her eloquent celebrations of this crazy, frustrating business, constantly remind me of why I write.  Her love of the written word is evident in every post, just as it is in her excellent first novel.  I can’t wait to see the book she’s working on now.  From those early days, you’ll also find posts by the incredibly talented and prolific Catie Murphy, whose uncompromising professionalism taught and inspired me week in and week out, and whose books, particularly the volumes of the Inheritors’ Cycle, take my breath away.  Catie is on hiatus from MW right now, but we look forward to her eventual return to the site.

In the interim we have added the publishing industry’s answer to The Three Amigos.  I’ve had the pleasure of collaborating on a story with Stuart for the past few weeks (and it truly has been a pleasure), and have been not-at-all surprised to find that he has a terrific feel for narrative and pacing and a marvelous economy to his writing style. Writing short fiction is an art unto itself, and Stuart has mastered it, as his posts on short-form writing demonstrate.  I am struck again and again, by A.J.’s ability to blend scholarly insight with artistic vision.  His posts manage to be simultaneously erudite and passionate, instructive and exhilarating.  His early thrillers, absolutely live up to the term, and the Will Hawthorne books have, perhaps, the most entertaining and distinctive narrative voice I’ve ever encountered.  I wish I had his mind; I’d kill for his accent…  I’ve also had the privilege of working with Edmund on a number of projects — a story, an essay, a novel, the MW How-to (How To Write Magical Words:  A Writer’s Companion — Bella Rosa Books, $18.  Buy it now!).  Talk about vision.  I’m awed by his ability is tease out the best in the work he reads, to sure up the weaknesses and accentuate the strengths.  There is a reason why he is fast becoming one of the most respected editors in speculative fiction.

And then, of course, there is Faith, the heart and soul of Magical Words.  Her writing skill, her business savvy, her uncanny knack for reducing complex writing concepts to their basics; her posts are an education for every one of us, her books are compelling, rich, sensual, thrilling.  What a joy for all of us to see her finally enjoying the success that she deserves.  The friendship I share with her has quite literally changed my life.

We have other stars here at MW — Carrie Ryan, Diana Pharaoh Francis, Lucienne Diver, Mindy Klasky, Lynn Flewelling.  Reading the names, I can’t help but be blown away by the collection of talent we’ve been lucky enough to draw to the site.

We also have all of you — our devoted readers.  It may sound like pandering, but I swear it’s not.  MW is nothing without your comments, your contributions to our conversations about writing.  Without you, we’re just a bunch of writers talking about writing.  Add in a bar, and you’ve got any old convention.  You make us a community.

Which really is the point of all this.  I started by saying that this post would be about what MW means to me.  And that’s it.  I live in a small, isolated town.  I’m the only professional writer of speculative fiction in at least a fifty mile radius.  I get to conventions and conferences a few times a year and have those weekends to hang out with my friends.  But most of the year, I write in a vacuum.  For the longest time I had no writing community at all.  Then, three years ago, we started this site, and suddenly I had one.  I come here every day to comment on one post or another, and it’s like stepping into a room filled with friends.  Some of you I’ve met; many of you I haven’t.  But I feel that I know every one of you.  I know.  Corny.  But I swear it’s true.

Magical Words energizes me, it makes me think, it constantly shifts my perspective on the craft and the business of writing, sometimes subtly, sometimes dramatically.  It challenges me; it makes me feel that if I am going to continue to be a part of this group, my writing has to rise to the standards established by the others who post here.  It also makes me feel that I have a place where I belong, where the fact that I have characters living in my head, that I spend nearly all my waking hours thinking of plot lines and magic systems, that I slave away at a career I love despite the poor hours, dismal pay, and utter lack of security, doesn’t make me a freak.

So, my thanks to all of you.  And Happy Anniversary!  After all, this is your site, too.

David B. Coe

37 comments to Magical Words at Three Years!

  • Happy, happy anniversary, and may all of the Magical Words crew see many more! I’ve loved the conversations I’ve participated in here at the site. I feel as if every time I visit, I learn more about my own process, my own life-as-a-writer. Thanks for providing us this little corner of the web to call a writerly home!

  • Happy Anniversary to you, too! *hugs*

    I agree, this has been an amazing experience, and we’ve got more thrilling adventures ahead. I’m excited that I’ll be having those adventures with such marvelous people!

  • L. Jagi Lamplighter Wright

    >top 2% of all sites

    I am assuming you mean…all writing sites? All how to write sites? Something?

    >I’d kill for his accent…

    Csn you do that? Get someone’s accent by killing them…that opens up a whole number of disturbing possiblities…

    Very nice post, David.

  • <It also makes me feel that I have a place where I belong, where the fact that I have characters living in my head, that I spend nearly all my waking hours thinking of plot lines and magic systems, that I slave away at a career I love despite the poor hours, dismal pay, and utter lack of security, doesn’t make me a freak.<

    No, David, you're still a freak. We just happen to like you for it 🙂 Thanks for this: thoughtful and generous as always.

    And L. Jagi yes you can acquire someone's accent by killing them. How do you think I got it?

  • Happy anniversary!

    I couldn’t agree more about the feeling of belonging. Thank you all for creating such a positive, encouraging environment. This is the best writing-related website I’ve ever participated in, and all of it, from the beta group to the posts, has been a positive influence on my life.

  • Congratulations to everyone on a stellar three year run. It’s been a privilege to be a part of this truly special community. Making me think about writing (as this site definitely does), specifically with regard to what works, what doesn’t, and why, has been at least as beneficial to me as to anyone else (I hope it’s beneficial to you all, too 😉 ). Here’s to thirty more great years to follow the first three!

  • I know you all get something out of MW, but nonetheless: it’s a huge commitment and a lot of time spent explaining writing that could be spent writing instead. Thank you all; it’s been extremely helpful.

    I have my copy of the book, but have been too busy to even read the table of contents. Soon!

  • Thank you and all the contributors to MW! Without you guys/gals writing these articles, we would not have a place to come and talk about that which we love.

    Here is to 3 more years of Magical Words!

  • Happy Three Year Anniversary!!! I couldn’t be more honored to be a part of this group. This is truly the site to go to if you want to learn, share, or just plain enjoy the company of others. Y’all have done a fantastic job with it, thanks for letting me tag along 🙂


  • Mindy, thanks so much. Having you as part of the MW crew has been terrific. Looking forward to more of your posts.

    Misty, yes!! Many more to come. Thanks for all you do.

    Jagi, top 2% of all sites. Period. A site called URLFan lists 3.7 million sites and ranks their traffic. We’re in the top 2 per cent of all of them. Many thanks for the comment and for your contributions to the site.

    A.J., yes, I suppose you’re right. But I’m in some very, very good company.

    Laura, it’s been our pleasure. Thank you for your support of the site and your wonderful comments.

    Edmund, thanks, although 30 years? Let’s see how the next three go…. 😉

    Phiala, hope you get to the book soon, and that you enjoy it. Thanks for the comment.

    Mark, thank you. You’ve been with us right from the beginning, and we appreciate it.

    Carrie, we’re so glad that you’re part of the site, and so grateful to you for your terrific posts. Thanks.

  • Deb S

    Thanks everyone. I love the interaction on this site. It always feels like a dialogue or conversation between friends and colleagues rather than a lecture or rant.

  • Congratulations on three years. Wow. That’s so cool and so amazing!

  • Thank you, Deb. Glad you’ve enjoyed the site.

    Catie, we couldn’t have done it without you! Looking forward to your guest appearance in March!

  • Unicorn

    Hey, why stop at thirty more years? 😀 Magical Words has taught me so much… incredibly much. I feel like I really do have a chance to get a story published now. That is SO great that MW is in the top 2% of all sites! But hey, you guys and girls deserve it. You don’t have to hand advice to us newbies on a silver platter. And thank you so much that you do.

  • David, I’m late to the party. Wow! What a nice post!
    I too, adore our readers; our contributors are amazing and have become friends! I can’t wait to see you guys at StellerCon and ConCarolinas this year!
    And I love you too!

  • Beautifully put. Thanks for the compliments, and thanks for letting me be a part of this wonderful community. See you all at StellarCon!

  • L. Jagi Lamplighter Wright

    >Jagi, top 2% of all sites. Period. A site called URLFan lists 3.7 million sites and ranks their traffic. We’re in the top 2 per cent of all of them. Many thanks for the comment and for your contributions to the site.


  • Unicorn, thanks for the kind words. I think that after another thirty years of MW I would be totally out of post ideas. But I’ll work on that…

    Faith, thanks. I meant every word. Even the nice stuff about Edmund. But don’t tell him.

    Stuart, looking forward to seeing you there. For doppelgangers, we don’t see each other nearly enough.

    Thanks, Jagi.

  • Happy Anniversary.

    And thanks for all the fish.

    Er… advice.

  • Sarah

    We are a community, aren’t we! Last year I had to hold back tears on the plane as I flew back to LA from ConCarolinas because I was already homesick for the writing community that comes together through MW. It’s bizarre to say this I know – LA is full of creative people that you’d think I’d find a community here – but I get so much more than just good advice from this community. You all are my people, my writing clan, and I can’t wait to see the MWs and the Betas this year at ConCarolinas. (Don’t worry non-huggers. I’m not in the habit of rushing up and clobbering people. I’ll just be very, very happy to see you all.)

  • Three years huh? … I’ve only known about MW for six months-ish and it feels like forever … where would I be without my daily hit of “I’m not alone”? … thank you all, and keep ’em coming.

  • Congratulations! I discovered MW recently. I’m a fantasy writer hoping to be published in the near future, and it’s nice to get some guidance from other fantasy authors. I started a blog myself at and hope that it becomes another helpful resource for writers. Keep up the good work!

  • Lance Barron

    Congratulations! I’m relatively new, but I really enjoy learning in this environment. Thank you all for the hard work, the great ideas, and the time it takes. Looking forward to more and more.

  • Atsiko, you’re welcome. I think. Um…fish?

    Sarah, great to know that you’ll be making the trip to ConCarolinas again this year. Looking forward to seeing you. And thanks so much for all you bring to the site.

    Widder, thanks very much. Glad you’ve found us, and that you’re enjoying the site.

    Andras, welcome to the site and best of luck with your book. Thanks for the link to your blog.

    Lance, glad you’ve found us, too. It’s great to see that we’re still bringing in more people. Hope you continue to enjoy it.

  • Tom G

    Anniversary? Doh! I forgot another one? Man. Sorry, I didn’t buy you anything. But…you said it’s our anniversary too…I’ll buy ME something! Wahoo!

    Thanks for all of the Giving Back you guys do on a daily basis.

  • Tom, you NEVER remember, and frankly I’m getting sick of it! Why is it that I have to do all the work in this relationship?! Just once I’d like to feel like you care. Just once! Now, I’m getting all emotional. I’m sorry, I just can’t talk about this anymore….

  • When I first started to write with the goal of getting published in the early 90s, I was a member of GEnie’s SFRT and Compuserve’s Writer’s Forum. Those people understood that I wasn’t insane when I thought of, well, all the wierd stuff we think about …

    When they died, I became homeless. I tried to find other places, forums, groups to share that bond with, but just couldn’t find that sense of home. Eventually, I stopped looking, and for the most part, stopped writing.

    Then I found MW. I feel like I’ve come home. I discovered another community who thinks odd thoughts. For a while, I just occasionally lurked, and read the posts. Then I lurked and read… and began writing again!

    For that, I am eternally thankful. Happy Anniversary, MW and family. Thank you so much for being here and leading me back to my words.

  • Lyn, thanks for sharing that with us. I’m so glad to hear that we helped you get back to writing. I hope that the site continues to be of use to you.

  • I’m a star! Seriously though, I can’t tell you how honored and humbled I am to be asked to be in such company here. And to have such great readers and thoughtful posts and comments. This place is amazing. May it go on for many many more years.

  • Lyn, the compuserve writer’s forum is alive and well … it just got bought out by AOL. It’s pretty connected to the writing conference I attend. I like to participate there in the goals thread there.

  • Yes, Di, you are a star. Thought you knew that…. Thanks so much for all you’ve brought to MW. I always look forward to your posts. Hope to see you later this year at one con or another.

  • Beatriz

    *rushes in, late as always*

    Happy anniversary!

    As the devoted non-writer in the group, I thought reading this site for me would be like watching hot dogs get made: YUCK!

    Instead I am ever amused, enlightened and entertained by all y’all, and lucky enough to meet some folks who are wonderful friends (not to mention getting a new job) [Ed- where’s the endmark supposed to go in that sentence?]

    See ya at StellerCon!

  • Looking forward to seeing you, B. Thank you for all you have done for us and for this site. You’re as much a part of MW as anyone here.

  • David, any chance you’ll be at Renovation? I plan to be there.

  • Di, I’m not sure yet. I don’t have any book releases this year, so it’s hard to justify trips out west for both WorldCon and WFC, and WFC is my favorite convention. If the year goes well and I have stuff to sell, or contracts in the works by the summer, then I might go to Reno, but otherwise probably not.

  • Congrats to everybody here at MW, contributors and minions alike. This is indeed a great community full of empathetic individuals. In the beginning I came here for writing advice, and to some extent I still do.

    Over the last year or so, I started returning because of the collection of people who I seem to know, even though I’ve never met. There’s something special about sharing stuff with you all. I know you care, about writing, about each other, about all the visitors.

    That’s why I come back–for the people.

    And because I love hearing about stuff like #24 on NYT Extended Bestseller list. That’s pretty cool too.

    Cheers, NGD

  • Thanks, Dave. Glad to have you here in a regular basis. Thanks for your insightful comments. As for the NYT List thing — we hope to have lots more news of that sort in the future. 😉