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AmberMUSH – A Game That Honed the Skills of Writers

September 24, 2011

In very late 1992 a college friend introduced me to the idea of MU* games (Multi-User Shared Experiences (MUSE), Multi-User Shared Hallucinations (MUSH), and so forth). These were cooperative storytelling games in real time, meaning you had to be there or you’d MISS things. In early 1993 someone invited me to AmberMUSH. I spent a very, very large amount of time there, and it’s to my husband’s very great credit that he’s still my husband, because it was all-absorbing. It was, as I have said elsewhere, some of the most intense, educational, gleefully giddy and painful “fun” I’ve ever had.

Eventually, things changed. I had children, real life took over, and the game on which I spent the most time – AmberMUSH, based loosely on the novels of Roger Zelazny – faded away. But I kept writing because words are my element. I must write, or I overflow with nervous creative energy I do not otherwise know how to channel. I’ve never been able to maintain an interest in video games, board games, or card games, but Amber didn’t feel like a game. The stories were real and vital; the characters were rich, complex, godlike and tragic. We created together. We built together. We laughed, fought, and cried together. Many of us met in person. I know of at least 3 married couples who met as a result of that game, and any number of people who have gone on to have creative lives of one kind or another, helping each other, working together, and staying in touch via Facebook, Twitter, and actually living in physical proximity.

Today, September 23, John Schwartz of the New York Times published an article about one of the Amber folks, Jim Butcher. You may have heard of him – he writes the Dresden Files books (among others). He and I had different visions for what “play” on Amber entailed, so we tended to play in parallel rather than together; nevertheless I have the utmost respect for – and pride in – that man. Mr. Schwartz’s article, published in the ‘Books’ section of the NYT, is titled ‘A Game That Honed the Skills of Writers’. Mr. Schwartz also interviewed and quoted a few other people who went from Amber to a career in creative writing, and I’m honored to have been allowed to contribute.

The article is mostly about Jim Butcher, as it should be. But I confess I’m pleased to see my name in print too – just a little.

By the way, my first book ‘Werewolves: The Pack’ is available at Amazon, Barnes & Noble, and Smashwords for $.99. Book #2, tentatively titled ‘Werewolves: The Quarry’, should be released no later than December 1 of this year. If you happen to read my book and enjoy it, feel free to drop me a line or leave a review on Amazon or B&N. I’ll be glad to hear from you.

My author page may be found at:


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