About Us -
(the Herscher Project)

Originally conceived by James K. Bowers, "The Project" brought together writers and artists from the community of Elfwood, home to the world's largest collection of Fantasy/Sci-Fi art and literature. After a short lapse in 2003, "The Project" was revitalized in 2004 with a surge in membership and has been going strong ever since.

In early 2005, with the creation of a Yahoo! group, the name was officially changed to "The Herscher Project" after the town in Illinois where Jim lived at the time. By the following summer "tHP" had outgrown the group site on Yahoo! and began searching for a new web host. Member Chuck Gregory came to the rescue and provided "The Herscher Project" with a new home.

For a time Chuck also hosted this site where "tHP" members share their thoughts, activities, and work with the general public.

Current Staff

Founder/Co-Owner: Jim Bowers
Co-Owners: Sabrina Withers, Jamie Hughes
Site Host/Senior Tech: Chuck Gregory
Tech Assistant: Louise Hughes
Senior Moderator: Saana Tykkä
Moderators: Peter Blair, Patricia D'Angelo, Steve Doyle, Elizabeth Fitzgerald, Deborah Cullins Smith, Cecily Webster
Art Director: Lisa Eshkenazi

James K Bowers, Founder 

The Semi-Official Bio

James K Bowers, an obsessed but infrequent writer of science fiction and fantasy, has written several things longer than his own name, usually at the insistence of friends wielding cattle prods. He has never failed to include an adverb or two for the express purpose of inciting the ire of Stephen King's Disciples of Adverbicide. He is the founder of The Herscher Project, and is a member of both Elfwood and Wyvernsmiths. Jim is an active member of the River Valley Voices writers group and does occasional book reviews for The Journal, the newspaper serving Kankakee County, Illinois. Those curious or indecisive enough can read and comment on his book reviews at his page at Freewebs.

And the Rest of the Tale

In the late autumn of 2000, I embarked on what I thought would be a short-lived adventure in creativity, inviting some dozen writers from Elfwood to participate in a little writing exercise. From that humble beginning, our group has grown and transformed into The Herscher Project (tHP) that exists today. Between Project#5 and Project#6, nearly two years passed with no activity, but since then there have been no other spans of inactivity.

When it became evident that I may, from time to time, need some assistance, I asked three members to become moderators: Inger Marie Hognestad, Jamie A Hughes, and Deborah Cullins Smith. Matt Summers was added shortly thereafter as a fourth moderator, then, more recently, Malin Larsson and Marijke Mahieu, to bring the number of moderators for our group to six. The period of 2007 through 2008 became a period of administrative retooling. Lisa Eshkenazi accepted responsibilities as our group's Art Director, and has been integral in a surge of artistic interest and endeavor. Shortly thereafter, Elizabeth Fitzgerald became our first Australian moderator. Fluctuations in the needs of our group and the demands of real life have been the cause for several changes in our group of tHP Moderators. By the autumn of 2008 tHP had seen a great deal of change in its moderator ranks, and finally settled in with these six (alphabetically): Steve Doyle, Lisa Eshkenazi, Elizabeth Fitzgerald, Inger Marie Hognestad, Jamie A. Hughes, and Deborah Cullins Smith.

In the spring of 2006, I asked Saana Tykkä, one of the participants in the first edition of The Project, to assist me in managing our group. This decision was based on a number of factors, not the least of which being her writing talents and her long-time familiarity with and much appreciated participation in tHP - oh, and perhaps the long-distance bonds of friendship that have grown between us over the years had a little to do with my decision. In August of 2007, Malin Larsson was asked to become Saana's assistant in her Co-Owner duties. Anyone who has met Malin will have no difficulty in understanding or agreeing with us in this decision.

Since its modest inception, our group has evolved from a purely email-based group, to a functional but limited Yahoo!Groups page, to this multi-faceted site hosted by Chuck Gregory. Along with Chuck, our site is wonderfully maintained by the often shy and always humble Louise Hughes.

Shortly after we moved tHP to its private site hosted by CWG Services, I formed "The Council of the Wise" - essentially, these are all tHP members who have participated in at least five separate editions of the Project, and we use some restricted forum threads and the old Yahoo!Group site as communication tools.

Other groups function outside of The Herscher Project; some are natural outgrowths of tHP and others are simply great allies in our war on literary and artistic atrophy. tHP Showcase is only one example of this phenomenon. Before her involvement with tHP, Inger Marie Hognestad created Wyvernsmiths to serve as a tool for writing, reviewing, and critiquing. Young Artisans (managed by Emma-Jane Smith) was created for those with a desire to participate in the various editions of tHP, but who do not yet meet the "18-years-of-age" minimum requirement that exists at tHP. tHP Threshold (managed by Malin Larsson) was created for those 18 or older who have a desire to eventually join tHP and also for those tHP members who, due to whatever reasons, expect to be inactive for an extended time. Steve Doyle Audio, now known as Storytellers Online, is a small group founded by Steve to serve as a means of converting stories and poems into audio files using multiple voices rather than the standard single reader/narrator. More recently, tHP has forged ties with such notable groups as The Lost Genre Guild and Sky-tribe (luckily before Sky-tribe faded into obscurity).

Many great things have happened as a result of tHP - hundreds of submissions to the various editions, lasting friendships born, international cooperation that has become second-nature, creative inspiration - the list goes on. I can lay so very little claim to accomplishing most of these things, but I can take great pride in the fact that I am surrounded by all the talented, driven, and visionary individuals that comprise the membership of The Herscher Project, and from time to time have been a catalyst... a spark compared to their flames.

So, anyway, a little about me... I graduated from Herscher H.S. (Illinois), served in the U.S. Marines from 1975 to 1986, received my A.S. from Kankakee Community College, and spent a good deal of my remaining time as a computer programmer. I was married in 1976, and Lisa and I have one son, Andy (who can also be found here in the Herscher Project), and two daughters, Kristie & Stephanie. We have one granddaughter, Hailey Dawn Bowers, born June 8, 2001. Maybe she'll join tHP someday... or maybe she'll eventually become the group's owner...

Jamie Hughes, Co-Owner

Jamie A. Hughes, one of the few members of The Herscher Project who didn't begin writing in the womb, has only been making serious attempts to put her thoughts on paper since 2000. She has been a member of The Herscher Project since 2004 and has served both as a moderator and a co-owner for the group. Her short fiction has been featured in both Twisted Tails and Twisted Tails II, Tales for the Thrifty Barbarian, and Fiction Fix. Also, her poetry has been featured in Kalliope and Odradek, and she was the winner of the 2006 Douglas Freels Poetry Award and both the first and third place awards in the 2007 Adult Poetry Contest sponsored by the Jacksonville Public Library. Additionally, she has served as a editor for Double Dragon Publishing and has worked with authors such as J. Richard Jacobs and Chris A. Jackson to polish their amazing novels, a job she has enjoyed almost as much as writing her own pieces.

As an English teacher, she has always been in love with the written word and works diligently to defend it from the evil forces of bad grammar, slang, and texting, which is becoming nearly as difficult as crawling uphill on a Slip N' Slide. Her affair with it has often been tawdry and has led her, at times, to flirt with the idea of earning a Ph.D. in literature when the time is right. As a result of her love of scholarship, she also has publications available in The Journal of Popular Culture, The Journal of Evolutionary Psychology, and Peake Studies.

In addition to writing, she also plays the French horn in local bands and orchestras and is a member of The Church Street Brass, a brass quintet, with her husband, Wayne.

Saana Tykkä, Site Moderator

Saana Tykkä is a forest policy researcher in the University of Bodenkultur, Vienna. She knows Pablo Neruda's poems by heart and loves the old Star Wars movies. Her present life consists mostly of sitting at Viennese cafeterias, drinking of coffee, listening to music, writing, and reading.

Steve Doyle, Moderator

Steve Doyle is an award-winning writer whose poem “The Storm” won a third prize in the anthology In the Desert Sun published by the National Library of Poetry. His poem “Footprints in my Garden”, coupled with photography by Maria Touchette, won third prize at a juried art show put on by the Hudson Area Arts Alliance. Some of Steve's other poems have appeared in The Wayfarer's Journal and Residential Aliens. His poem “A Leprechaun's Tale” appeared in Strange Worlds of Lunacy: The Galaxy's Silliest Anthology. Another poem, “Attacking the Iron Horse” appeared in A Fistful of Hollars.

Steve's short story “The Waking of the Dead” is included in Light at the Edge of Darkness an anthology of Biblical Speculative Fiction published by The Writers' Cafe Press.

Early on, Steve was influenced by the masterful deduction of Arthur Conan Doyle's great detective Sherlock Holmes, the excitement of Edgar Allan Poe's horror, and the plot twists inherent in the tales presented by Alfred Hitchcock and Rod Serling.

With his short stories, Steve strives to blend supernatural elements into modern settings, thereby bringing the unbelievable into the realm of the believable.

Steve's most recent collection of short stories, The Casebook of the Paranormal Research Institute has been described by author Chris Jackson as “Sherlock Holmes meets Anne Rice.”

He maintains a bookshelf of his work at the Wyvern's Library section of Elfwood, the largest science fiction and fantasy art site in the world. He is an active member of the Herscher Project, an online group of artists and writers from all over the globe, and The Lost Genre Guild, writers dedicated to promoting Christian Speculative Fiction.

Steve lives in Marlborough, Massachusetts, where he is currently working on a novel of historical fiction which follows the Hammatt family from Colonial America at the time of the Revolutionary War to the end of the Civil War.

Cecily Webster, Moderator

Born in London, living in Orkney, Cecily Webster is an environmental archaeologist who thinks people should spend more time seeing the world they look at, being excellent to one another and pondering the role of birds in the past. Her first story, written age 7 after her first encounter with Dan Dare comics, concerned aliens and pancakes, and she has never written anything less “genre” since.

Sabrina Withers, Member

So you think you know me...
Sabrina Withers has always (well mostly from around age fifteen) wanted to be a storyteller. Somewhere in amongst her collection of books and tea she has a copy of her first 'published' story from primary school that has a strange tale of pirates, abduction and space aliens and trust me it makes no sense.

Raised in the dual cultures of rural Wales and northern Sweden she's always been proud of being that little bit different and takes great pleasure in confusing her less mongrel friends of both nations. Currently she's in neither country by actually being just over the Welsh border in England.

She spends most of her time being overly helpful by problem solving for people who, though they are grateful for her efforts, would prefer to never need her IT services. When she isn't working she's writing as much as she can and sewing, crafting and on some weekends pretending to be someone else in a world far away, often in a muddy field. Fascinated by pretty much everything from ancient fortifications to modern crime investigation techniques her strange and varied skills now include the ability to start a fire in the rain, cooking posh cuisine on a firepit and skillet and coming up with wierdly plausible reasons for why things are the way they are.

Never far from at least one copy of her stories, or a cup of tea, she is looking forward to the day when she can just transpose her thoughts on paper without having to do the typing as she has way too many characters wanting to have their story told.

Oh and she's a twin, but she tries her best not to mention that first. People get so fixated about the whole thing.