Hey! It's Valentine's Day here at apocrypha, and that means time for hearts, flowers, smooching ... and a little stray murder on the side. It also means it's time for us to announce our Blue Wall Award winners, so trot on over to the fiction section and gaze at what you, the readers, voted as your favorite selections in four categories this year. We love 'em all, but we're biased -- after all, we picked 'em in the first place!
Last issue, as you'll notice by the mail we received, generated a fair amount of controversy both on and off the page. Both incidents are connected, and worth exploring. Over the winter we had a spate of well-written stories which also happened to be slash (that is, exploring homosexual relationships between characters). Note the emphasis on well-written. There isn't much slash we'll publish, because most of it is either not well-written, or does not create a plausible reason why these two characters (or more) would fall in love. Our strictures are the same in heterosexual fiction -- if you can't provide motivation, your story is weak and unbelievable. Since all of the characters on Law & Order are pretty staunchly heterosexual in canon, by writing slash for apocrypha, you're giving yourself another hurdle to be overcome. It can happen, and did, twice in our last issue.
Based on reactions to the slash fic (see below), it wasn't always positive. But Python makes a point -- even if you read it for the same reasons you'd gawk at a traffic accident, you read it enough to be incensed by it. That's good fic: Believable even to nonbelievers. But two stories? Where was the second? 
Ah, there's the rub. We did have a second story. It was yanked within hours of the issue going online because the story had been published elsewhere before. But that wasn't the reason we were alerted to it -- the reader who wrote us about the now-deleted story had a bone to pick, and said: 

"While there is nothing specific within your terms concerning age appropriate access or submissions, I have no doubt this is something you consider. Many of the stories posted within your site are rated in such a way as to suggest only adult perusal. Submissions containing slash material, for example, would clearly be inappropriate for younger readers."
And this:
"This brings me the problem: One of the authors whose submissions you have posted is only thirteen years old.... I was appalled upon realizing that a child had written a story with such content.... Surely I can't be the only person who finds this matter unacceptable. If this young girl were to approach a book publishing agency with such a story in hand, the publisher would not be able to distance themselves from her quickly enough, fearing legal repercussions. It is one thing for an adult to read or write whatever material they choose. But I find it deeply disturbing that a child of this age is capable of writing stories with such content and then getting them published, most likely by misrepresenting her true age. I have to wonder where this girl's parents are."
Horse. Carcass. Stick. Nevertheless, it is worth saying again: Freedom of speech is not abridged just because a person is not of a particular age. Anyone, of any age, may write whatever he or she likes. If it offends, and does so non-slanderously, there is no recourse in our legal system (nor should there be) to prevent them from doing so. Would courts actually go after a publisher who published the slash writings of a teenager? We sincerely doubt that. (Legal experts, have at it.) So. If the right to say things is not under question, it is important to question the underlying issue. As linguist Suzette Haden Elgin has noted in her many Verbal Self-Defense books, what is said is not often what is meant. The issue this reader had with the slash fic was in the content of the story, not the fact of the story. She is overwhelmed that a writer of a particular age would not only write sexually-oriented stories, but that they would not be heterosexual sexually-oriented stories. There is the Puritan no-sex angle, and the Biblical no-deviant-sex angle, coming head to head. So to speak. 
We have never at apocrypha received any negative commentary about the heterosexual sex in our stories. Or how they are rated. We clearly indicate when sex is an issue, and include an extra icon when it is a slash story. The fact is that a story with slash sex will be reacted to with disgust, while that same story, with heterosexual sex, will not. The hypocrisy of the reaction is not lost on us. 
If the subject matter of a story bothers you, do feel free to write us. But remember: The reaction is yours. The story is the author's. Examine what it is in you that reacted so negatively -- or positively -- before rendering judgment. And while you're chewing on all of this, here's another tidbit: One of our stories this issue was written by a professed 12 year old. Do we have proof? Only the author's word. Does it matter? Not a bit.
Though it does make us feel a little old....
So then, on to this issue! As we noted, the Blue Wall winners are up and ready for a re-reading, plus we've got four new fresh fanfic stories and six challenges to go by. Kor would like to point to her pick of the issue by wondering, "What does it mean when there are no doubts, no regrets, no guilt? "Cold Light of Dawn" is a thought-provoking glimpse of Claire outside the confines of her relationship with Jack, especially for anyone who believes (as she does) that their relationship was complicated and would not have lasted had she lived." Kitt, meanwhile, fell head over heels with the stylized "Scene But Not Heard," which also examines what might have happened had Claire lived. Sure, it's a well-worn topic, but these are two original takes on it. Additionally, We've also made our contest a little easier to figure out this time around, and what's up for grabs are the two Chris Noth Crossing Jordan episodes, on special review videotapes, no commercials! So, get cracking. Next issue will be out in June, probably midway through, so you've got some time to check out our most unusual challenge ... and research that contest answer. Enjoy, and always feel free to write us.
Looking forward to hearing from you -- and since it's still VD, spread the love as many ways as you can...


P.S. Psst! We've changed our email address: apocrypha@podengo.com. The old one doesn't work no more!


From: jo_bautista 
To: apocrypha@podengo.com 
Sent: Wednesday, December 05, 2001 9:54 AM
Subject: Jack, Abbie, and the Party

Cute story.  I'm a Jack/Claire fan but still I liked this story. No girl in her right mind would choose Ben over Jack.  :) I loved the ending. 

Subject: Still Life With Shadow

Great story!  You really got the lingo of Jack and Ben down!  It sounds just like them.  :)  I was the one who proposed this challenge.  Thanks for answering it :)  Great Job! :)

Subject: Merry Christmas Darling

Ohmigod Shelley!  You wrote a CJ crossover --- I'm working on one too, I was hoping to put it in the Valentine's issue! Congrats on getting published again. 


From: "Jayne Deaux"
To: <apocrypha@podengo.com>
Sent: Friday, December 07, 2001 6:39 AM
Subject: This issue's challenge


This isn't a submission; I thought I'd just drop you a
little line to let you know I think it's a great idea
to use a photo for the challenge!  And what a photo!

I like this kind of challenge.  Hopefully the response
will be good, and there'll be more picture challenges
in the future.



From: Sharon Gorle 
To: apocrypha@podengo.com 
Sent: Sunday, December 09, 2001 7:51 AM
Subject: Minorities in Law & Order Story

Mary Climer mentions that in Abby "Wolf somewhat made up for the weaknesses of Claire and Jamie in Abbie. Abbie was strong and concise and stubborn".  In Seasons 10 & 11 I felt that the Abbie character had been noticeably toned down so that she really wasn't much different to Jaime and much more likely to follow Jack's lead.  As a non-Angie L&O fan I put part of it down to Angie not being able to act as well as the show not knowing what to do with the character.  To my mind the character descriptions of  the new adas - Jaime, Abbie & now Serena- in the promo materials before their debut eps all sounded pretty much the same. I'm wondering if Ms Climer noticed this change in Abbie's personality & if so, what she thought of it.  BTW - love the site

Cheers - Sharon

From: "F Al Hayat"
To: <apocrypha@podengo.com>
Sent: Thursday, December 13, 2001 8:54 PM
Subject: Minorities in Law and Order


I stumbled on your website quite by accident while
researching the value of the biblical Apocrypha as
historical sources. I was pleasantly surprised as most
fanfiction sites are mediocre at best and pornographic
at worst.

I was impressed by the line up of non-fiction articles
as well, particularly the one concerning Minorities in
Law and Order although I felt that it just touched the
tip of a vast topic. I am a Muslim of Middle Eastern
origin and have always been alarmed at the ignorance
and bigotry shown towards our community by the media
specially after the 9/11 incident. I catch reruns of Law & Order from time to time and it saddens me  that a show known for its detached handling of racism and homosexuality should by and large portray Muslims and
Arabs in a derogatory manner. Detective Michael Logan
is a good example of this bigotry. In one show he said
that the Arabic script resembled a chicken walking over the paper. In another, he sneered at an Egyptian suspect and implied that he was a terrorist just because he was a believer in Allah.

I hope you will address this issue in one of your
forthcoming publications. In light of the Trade Centre
tragedy, it will be one of apocrypha's finest moments
if they help promote better understanding amongst all
its readers.

I look forward to your response.

Fatima Al Hayat

From: BlackWolf51 
To: apocrypha@podengo.com 
Sent: Thursday, December 27, 2001 2:47 AM
Subject: Merry Christmas Darling

Just wanted to say that I enjiyed this fanfic. I liked the inclusion of Jordan from "Jordan's Crossing" in it. I was hoping someone would write something with her in the story. 

Sincerely~ Erin 


From: Natalie Walford 
To: apocrypha@podengo.com 
Sent: Saturday, February 02, 2002 3:38 AM
Subject: Dreams, Reality, or Both

Sorry, I am more of a fan of Jack and Claire, not Jack and another man.  Too much for and me and unbelievable.


From: Robin Jarvis 
To: apocrypha@podengo.com 
Sent: Thursday, December 06, 2001 3:38 AM
Subject: Dreams, Reality, or Both

Really, Really Gross.  Sorry.  It was like looking at a horrible traffic accident.  I had to keep reading until it was over.


From: jo_bautista 
To: apocrypha@podengo.com 
Sent: Wednesday, December 05, 2001 10:12 AM
Subject: Dreams, Reality, or Both

Good writing --- but eeew...Jack and Lennie?  No way! 

Author's Reply:
From: "Python" 
To: <apocrypha@podengo.com>
Sent: Saturday, December 08, 2001 9:15 PM
Subject: Re: Fw: Dreams, Reality, or Both

I'm glad it's good writing.
She may have found the pairing to be "eeew", but that didn't stop her from reading it.
So far as the "no way" goes, this is my fantasy.
But everyone's entitled to their opinion.

From: "Jackie Leaf"
To: "Apocrypha" <apocrypha@podengo.com>
Sent: Friday, December 28, 2001 9:09 AM
Subject: Latest issue

I finally got a chance to read the "the Trouble With Fanfic" issue.  Once again the writers have done a truly wonderful job.  The challenge stories were exceptionally well done and I enjoyed them all.  And the holiday page just added to my enjoyment of this issue.  Thanks for a great read and I will be back.

 Words cannot describe my feelings at be nominated for a "Blue Wall".  Thanks to everyone that felt my article on Lennie was worthy of the honor.

Jackie Leaf

From: LilPixie38 
To: apocrypha@podengo.com 
Sent: Monday, December 31, 2001 3:00 AM
Subject: Candy

I liked the story, but I thought the last line was so sad 

Date: Tuesday, January 29, 2002
Time: 11:32 AM EST
Submitted by:  Jodi Hoch
Subject: Blue Wall Nominations

[Ed. Note: Ms. Hoch voted for A Long Day's Journey: Well Worth Every Step]

Comment: The story about "A Long Day's Journey, Well Worth Every Step" by Karen Howard Joly, was the best short story I have read about in a very long time. I feel every move that she made that night, and I felt her excitment of meeting Sam, I think that would be the most wonderful things in the world to do. I was expecting her to tell us that she had dinner with him also. That would of made a extremely exciting ending to a wonderful trip.  Jodi Hoch

From: Amanda Bechtold 
To: apocrypha@podengo.com 
Sent: Thursday, February 07, 2002 9:48 AM
Subject: Two guys and a girl

Jack McCoy and Ben Stone would not be as chummy
as that.  Stone should still hold Claire partly responsible
for having his witness killed.  Claire and Jack's relationship also never seemed so obvious.  Why not have the two men not recognize each other at all?  Seems the convo would flow much smoother from there.