The FAQ

Ackerly Green

Ackerly Green Publishing was created by author C.J. Bernstein in the summer of 2016 with the online, interactive story called The Monarch Papers, where readers could interact with characters, unravel centuries-old mysteries, and shape the outcome of the final story. These days, it is a company dedicated to creating an immersive, interconnected universe of books where readers can be characters and magic is real. Each book expands on the others, enriching the contemporary fantasy narrative, deepening the lives of the characters, the world they live in, and the connections readers have to both. In addition to an ever-growing series of books that span genre, subject, and age, Ackerly Green also creates sprawling “live book” experiences that bridge the gaps between our traditionally published books with one-of-a-kind interactive, immersive adventures that can only be told online, in the moment. A book being written as it’s read. 

The best way to reach AGP staff is by filling out a form on our Contact Us page, as we are not always available for response on the Ackerly Green Forum. 

As of October 2020, there is not currently a version of the Ackerly Green app available on the App Store or Google Play Store, and we do not currently have plans to release one. To learn more about this decision, you can read C.J.’s blog post on the Forum. 

The Briarverse

The story of the “Briarverse” is ultimately about two versions of our world. One version teeming with wild and secret magic, the other darker and more desperate, whose inhabitants are searching for what little is left of wonder in the world. The dark world is ours, here and now, built on the ruins of the other, but still connected to the vast alternate history that occasionally seeps into our own. As the two versions bleed together, warring factions, powerful magic, and unlikely heroes are thrown together from both worlds in a vast, literary, lore-rich narrative that not only offers us glimpses at a vision of how our world once was, but also how we could reclaim it together. Readers are not just bystanders in the Briarverse. They’re integral parts of the narrative, building it, changing it, and becoming heroes themselves in the fight to bring magic back to the world.

The six guilds are a way of organizing members with certain strengths or talents within the Briarverse. They are people who share common interests, personality traits, and magimystical connections. Your guild is your Briarverse family, and they are the people you can turn to first with any questions or concerns. To find your guild, take the assessment in Ackerly Green’s Guide to Magiq. Once you’ve been sorted into your guild, you can introduce yourself to your fellow guild members on the AG Forum.

If you feel like you know your heart best and would rather be in a different guild, there’s nothing stopping you from joining that group on the Forum and identifying as such. However, we do typically recommend trusting in the flow of magiq. Personalities are certainly not static; we grow and develop as people at a faster rate than we are often aware. Sometimes the Guide really does know best.

The guild bearing assessment, as discovered by the Mountaineers in the fall of 2019, is an unpublished supplementary assessment to Ackerly Green’s Guide to Magiq. After taking the assessment to find your guild, the guild bearing assessment further divides guild members into one of three sub-categories, or bearings, meant to further explore their true natures. It is meant to provide magimysts with added clarity as to their role within their guild by providing a more specific assessment of their magimystical natures reflective of the diverse ranges of personalities within each guild. You can discover your guild bearing here.

All of our books are available here on our site through The Book Shop, or through any of your preferred online retailers. 

Yes! We have a ridiculously big plan for the Briarverse, one that includes stories that will span several series, dozens of books, and years and years of live, interactive storytelling. A story that has twists and turns, both firm conclusions and open ends, and endless places for collaboration and shared storytelling. 

The next book that will be set in the Briarverse is The Book of Briars, which is currently available for pre-order and will be released by the end of 2020. 

The Book of Briars is currently being released in installments on the Ackerly Green forum. If you have placed a pre-order for the book, you will be receiving each part as it’s released by email. If you have not yet placed a pre-order, you can do so here. The pre-order ensures that you receive each part digitally by email as they are released, as well as a complete digital or hardcover copy upon its official publication in the winter of 2020.

The short answer to this question is that everyone with a profile on the Ackerly Green Forum is a Mountaineer! To learn more about the history of Basecamp 33 and the first generation of Mountaineers, you can read The Monarch Papers, or explore the Briarverse Wiki.

Interactive Storytelling

The in-world, immersive side of the Ackerly Green Forum is a way for readers to directly engage with the narrative in a way that breaks the traditional fourth wall of storytelling. At Ackerly Green, it’s typically a combination of creative writing/storytelling, role-playing, and good old fashioned make-believe within.

We like to describe the way we do interactive storytelling here as coming to a house. Inside the house are rooms that we’ve built for you and think you’ll really like, but if you decide you want to explore a different room, we’ll go ahead and build that one instead. And though some of the design and furnishings may be the same as the first room, we’ve created a new thing based on your curiosity and imagination. You have helped shape the story. And if we do our job well, you never know that what you experience isn’t the exact story we wanted to tell you. (That works about 75% of the time.) We are telling you a story, a story with rules and laws, walls and doors, but you are helping to shape my story with your ideas, imagination, and pondering.

For a full explanation of the the dynamic between Ackerly Green stories/books and interactive reader participation, we highly recommend that you check out C.J.’s Forum post on Interactive Storytelling, Trust Levels, and Joining the Briarverse. And remember, should you choose to participate, it is essential that you read the Forum Primer and respect our rules and the contributions of other readers in order to preserve the authenticity of the experience for everyone. 

The most straightforward way to catch up on everything relating to The Monarch Papers is to read the books that chronicle the experience in narrative form. You can download Volume One for free here, and Volume Two is available for purchase directly through our Ackerly Green Book Shop, or from any of your other preferred online retailers. If you’d prefer to explore on your own, we have an in-depth Briarverse Wiki that can be searched by characters, guilds, phases of TMP, and pretty much anything else you can think of.

To catch up on the narratives following The Monarch Papers, which include The Secret Society and The Search For Magiq, you can visit their Forum pages by clicking on the hyperlinks, or you can download their e-book adaptations through our Book Shop here. 

The interactive narrative known as The Monarch Papers concluded in the fall of 2017. It was followed by Ackerly Green’s Secret Society and The Search for Magiq, which have been turned into e-book novellas that you can read here

When you join the Forum, you have the opportunity to start meeting other readers and exploring the Briarverse through the Meet, Greet, and Discuss and The Guilds categories. The Age of Magiq (the place on the Forum where our interactive narratives play out) will become available to you when you reach Trust Level 2, after a week or two of consistent, meaningful participation during which you will have gained sufficient understanding of the Briarverse and how it works to be able to successfully contribute to the narrative. 

For more information about trust levels, see The Forum category below. 

The Forum

The Ackerly Green Forum evolved from a message board that was started in the summer of 2016 as a place for readers involved in the one-of-a-kind interactive literary experience called “The Monarch Papers” to communicate with characters, unravel mysteries, and meet other readers who also believed in magic. These days, the Forum is still a place of connection, where everyone can come together and chat about pretty much anything from books to movies to fitness plans and everything in between. It’s a fantastic hub for creativity, as many of our users enjoy posting their art and participating in creative challenges together, and it’s also where the books we publish are expanded on and explored with immersive, ongoing in-world experiences that not only take you beyond the boundaries of the books, but allow you to shape and even become a part of the stories.

The Forum is actively maintained, structured, and monitored by AGP staff. Although anyone is welcome to create a topic of conversation at any time, larger initiatives that are associated with a Briarverse narrative, such as The Monarch Papers, Ackerly Green’s Secret Society, and The Search for Magiq, come directly from AGP staff. We also work closely with our guild leaders, who are the main community authority on the Forum and lead community initiatives like creative projects, fitness challenges, book clubs, game nights, and more.

For a full explanation of the the dynamic between Ackerly Green stories/books and reader participation, please see C.J.’s Forum post on Interactive Storytelling, Trust Levels, and Joining the Briarverse

The best person to contact with forum-related questions is your guild leader. You can either send them a PM, or create a post in The Q&A Super Topic, which will also give other community members a chance to answer your question. If you’re not sure who your guild leader is, check the Forum Primer. 

Nope! Just the Age of Magiq and Guilds category and The Monarch Papers Archive (and maybe one or two secret categories.) If you’d like to only see the in-world categories, you can click the “In-World View” option in the hamburger menu directly to the left of your avatar in the top righthand corner of the forum. The “In-World View” option then transforms into an “Elsewhither” link, which you can use to return to all of the out-of-world conversations and activities.

Just be yourself! Many of our readers choose not to give their full names as their usernames for privacy reasons, but that doesn’t mean they’ve taken on a separate character or persona to who they are in everyday life. The only real difference between online and “IRL” you is your belief in magic. Otherwise, it’s best to just be yourself so that everyone else can get to know you! 

Usernames can be changed at admin discretion, though we don’t do it often because it breaks all mention of your previous username and causes a bunch of dead links on the forum. However, if you’ve just joined and don’t have any mentions yet, you can reach out to an admin for a one-time change.

By participating in our immersive experiences, you have the opportunity to shape the story with your fellow readers. The more you participate in a meaningful way, the more likely you are to have an impact on the final narrative.

If it’s “in-world,” in that it has narrative implications, explores ideas about magic or about your guild, it should go in The Age of Magiq. If it’s about something generally mundane (from everyday, non-magical life), it can go in Meet, Greet, and Discuss. If it’s book-related, it goes in Bookish. If it’s creative, it goes in the Creationary. We try to make the categories as intuitive as possible, but if you’re not certain where to post, you can always feel free to reach out to a guild leader, or ask in the General Discussion Super Topic. 

Please Note: Creating a new thread is like starting a new conversation, so make sure you have a first post ready to get the conversation started with when you make the thread! Please only create threads for topics you’re genuinely interested in talking about and don’t see being discussed elsewhere. Creating threads for the sake of creating threads is not a shortcut for increasing your trust level.

Not at all!! Please DO dig up old threads and add your own contributions to them. Just because a thread got buried once doesn’t mean there aren’t other people who would enjoy posting in it again too, so post away! We promise nobody will think it’s weird.

Your trust level is your designated access level within the Forum, and you can gain higher trust levels through consistent and genuine participation over time. You can check your trust level by clicking on your profile, but you can also click here for a visual walkthrough. Below is a brief summary of each trust level, but for a complete breakdown please see the Forum Primer.

Trust Level Zero: Newbie This is where everyone begins. You’ll be able to read and contribute to out-of-world categories like Meet, Greet, and Discuss, the Creationary, Bookish, and the out-of-world Community Projects. You’ll also be able to read the immersive In-World categories that take place within the narrative of the Briarverse and catch up with The Monarch Papers Archive.

Trust Level One: Recruit Trust Level One won’t grant you complete access to the immersive Age of Magiq areas of the forum, BUT it will grant you access to the in-world Guilds category where you can begin your in-world adventure, explore your guild, and get to know your guild leader and fellow guild members. This level is the (relatively short) time period where you can get fully caught up with the events, inhabitants, and community of the in-world Briarverse.

Trust Level Two: Regular At Trust Level Two you’ll be trusted with the ability to contribute to all of the in-world categories, which have their own set of creative categories, projects, and immersive rules. Whatever happens here is happening inside the narrative of the Ackerly Green Briarverse novels.

Trust Level Three: Magimystic At Trust Level Three, you’ll gain access to the hidden Discord server where readers can have more casual and constant out-of-world discussions and better get to know one another. This server has rules for participation and posting, but it’s a fun, casual place to stay in touch with your friends and fellow readers.

Community

The Ackerly Green Community is made up of people of all ages, nationalities, beliefs, and backgrounds, who share a belief in magic and a sense of kindness and community. Though a few of the profiles on our forum are NPCs (non-player characters, or fictional characters controlled by AGP as part of the narrative), the vast majority of profiles are the very real people who make up our readership and have created this wonderful community.

The Ackerly Green Fellowship is an outreach program that allows those who can’t currently afford books to request and receive books and small pieces of merchandise from the Book Shop. Members of our community who are able can contribute to a secure fellowship fund. For more information on how to donate to or request from the fellowship, please see the Community Fellowship page. 

The Briar Society

The Briar Society is a uniquely immersive storytelling experience in which readers become members of a magimystic secret society. As a member, you will receive access to an exclusive area of the Ackerly Green site, where you can explore original content and work alongside fellow Briars and characters to uncover hidden secrets and help shape the future of magic. You can learn more about The Briar Society here.

Enrollment is open on a rolling basis throughout each narrative season. You can register for the 2020 Chapter of The Briar Society here.

Sure! If interaction isn’t your thing, you can also sit back and watch the narrative unfold in real-time, exploring content at your own pace and receiving email updates on the action. You can learn more about The Briar Society here.

The Book Shop

Our Book Shop is divided into two categories: products that we fulfill ourselves, and products that are printed on-demand through off-site fulfillment centers. AG Alchemy candles, pins, buttons, and keychains are all handmade and fulfilled in-house at the Ackerly Green offices, while books, clothes, bags, and phone cases are all printed on-demand off-site.

Books, bags, clothes, and phone cases are print on-demand, so you can expect to receive them about a week (or less) after your order goes through. AG Alchemy candles, pins, buttons, and keychains are assembled and fulfilled by us in the Ackerly Green offices. We do our best to get those orders into the mail as soon as they come in, but this is also dependent on our office schedule and the current limitations of the USPS during the coronavirus pandemic. 

If you have any questions or problems with your order, you can send an email to [email protected] From there, we can figure out if the issue is something we can solve in-house, or we’ll direct you to the customer services of our third-party fulfillment sites.

AG Alchemy is Ackerly Green’s line of hand-poured candles, designed to look like artifacts from the Book of the Wild. They are made in-house from a soy-coconut wax blend, and the scents are each tailored to represent a concept from the Briarverse. Our current available scent is called Magiq, and will be produced in a limited run in the fall of 2020.