Jane Austen Fan Fiction
History of the Meryton Assembly
CaseyC started A Happier Alternative as a story page for "A Most Beloved Sister" in September of 2006. She experimented around with a few free webhosts, and eventually ended up on Bravenet. Until October of that year, it was just Casey.
Around mid-October, Casey invited Sarapencil to begin posting with her on the story pages. For a while, Sara sent her the chapters and Casey posted both stories every day.
With such wonderful stories, it wasn't long before they regularly exceeded the bandwidth of their free site and cleverly discovered how to link multiple free webhosts together in order to keep AHA up and running. Casey is the first to admit that this was a less than ideal solution, but it worked for the time.
As time went on, other authors wanted to be included in AHA's author pages, and Casey continued her makeshift adjustments to accommodate the increased traffic, including the addition of a mailing list and sending daily announcements when new chapters were posted.
Then, on October 27th, Casey purchased ahappieralternative.com and made the first permanent move there. AHA cost Casey approximately $11.99 per month in those days. As the only one with access to the website software, it was up to Casey to post for every author daily, which was tedious, but it was so exciting to see AHA's growth and reception, that Casey & Sara just 'kept truckin' with big grins. They kept the Bravenet webjournal comment pages linked to the stories on AHA. The thought of adding a forum didn't occur to them at this time.
On October 29th, they were invited to be added to JAFFindex, and on November 11th AHA.com went live, and Casey posted the announcement at Darcyfic.
Around the end of November 2006, Casey considered disbanding AHA, and announced her decision. The blogging and the letters begging her to reconsider, however, eventually convinced her to keep the site up. Casey was rightfully proud of her baby even if it was a quiet corner in the JAFF world!
Forums added, team expands
January 13th of 2007 was the night Casey finally figured out how to set up the first forum. And that forum still exists in today's current board.
Direct quote from Casey:
I remember we were so relieved to get rid of that infernal blog! On July 31st, I announced the merge with Austen Interlude; I believe we were almost at 2000 members at that point. I was in a hotel room in Pigeon Forge, Tennessee when AHA went live; that was a very exciting time.
Shortly after July 31st, AbigailR and Edot joined Casey and Sara in the care and feeding of AHA which was growing by leaps and bounds. Fast enough that the forum was developing quirks and a personality of its own. Abigail and Elaine took over the search for a more robust forum and found Invision Power Board, the software that we are still using today. The advantage of IPB was that they could transfer the data from the original forums to the new forums, ensuring continuity in discussions and stories.
In August of 2007 Shmarollynn and EllenJP brought The Pemberley Library onto the AI server as well.
By November of 2007 it was clear that AHA was growing at such a rate that there needed to be more involved members to support the growth and to reach the goals the admins had in mind. It also was apparent that the bandwidth necessary to keep the board running was going to require a fairly significant budget, enough that donations would have to be reported to the IRS.
With a vision of what AHA could be, in late November/early December Abigail and Edot shepherded the board through a very difficult server change. During this stressful time, Sara unexpectedly had her baby early, and Casey took some needed time away to focus on RL issues. Abigail, busy with the never-ending server changeover, found she needed more help and recruited more administrators - Cjoki, gail_etc and JillTarah - to help with the increasingly difficult job of managing the rapidly growing board. Moushele, who knew the ins/outs of incorporating a non-profit also volunteered to take on the task of completing the non-profit paperwork, and jean_genie, agreed to oversee the large job of managing the growing number of new members.
MLS is born
A first draft of incorporation papers were completed and ready by January 2008, and a list of potential Board Members and Officers for the Corporation was drawn up.
Gail-etc and JillTarah graciously accepted the positions of CEO/Vice-CEO; Moushele signed on as CIO/Secretary, and SarahPenycat kindly agreed to be our CFO/Treasurer.
In February of 2008, Casey and Sara tendered their resignations from the Board of Directors, and along with them, two of the original moderators, Meg_Evenstar and Gsherwood, did as well. All four ladies had very full lives and wanted to focus on other things (like writing) and they moved on. Krishub and Nursejulielynn joined Stacy on the moderating team in February to help keep the streets of AHA clean.
Throughout January and February 2008, the search was on to find members willing to fill the management positions required by the State of California for incorporation and to settle on a name for the corporation.
Many suggestions for names were floated amongst the fledgling officers, Board of Directors and AHA Management. Finally settling on Meryton Literary Society, Inc, the paperwork could be sent across the country for signatures. The last three signatures were acquired at April in Arkansas 2008 and mailed that weekend to the State of California.
During the Spring of 2008, the management team decided that a fourth moderator was needed, one who had a different perspective. Stargazer who had moderation experience from other sites and was an author, was asked if she would be willing to join the team. Everyone was thrilled when she accepted.
It took two submittals to California, but by July 2008 the state had recognized Meryton Literary Society, Inc. as a non-profit entity, and by August 2008 the IRS paperwork had been filed.
The current Admins, Moderators, Officers and Board of Directors continue to move forward with many of the strategic improvements that CaseyC, Sara and Abigail dreamed of but weren't able to implement, with a few of their own thrown in for good measure. They've created the Meryton Reading Room, added the Playground, publish a Meryton Times regularly, added Birthdays and Calendars, added a 'memorials' page and have revamped the forums.
And they're not done yet . . . They have a plan for things to come!
So thank you to all the leaders who came before, who had the vision and drive to create such a wonderful JAFF home, ultimately leading us to these milestones! Special thanks to these former team members: jean_genie, RuthO, Stacy, Krishub, Nursejulielynn, Stargazer, and Sarahpenycat.
And another huge THANKS to all the members who make this assembly a great place to call home.