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Further Confusion 2019

Fandom 150Further Confusion 2019 is this weekend, and every year it sneaks up on me just like this. Lulled into a false sense of normalcy by the end of the holiday season, I start to get into a pretty good groove when suddenly the third weekend of January taps me on the shoulder to remind me of this crazy and wonderful event. Even though the buzz and attendance for the con has declined somewhat in recent years, it’s still one of my absolute favorites — and not just because it happens to be in my backyard. Though, if I’m being honest, it certainly helps.

FC really takes advantage of everything the revitalized downtown of San Jose has to offer. There are a ton of great restaurants, cocktail lounges, dessert shops, museums and attractions, and natural spaces that are wonderful all on their own. The convention itself has a killer line-up of events itself, from dances every night to engaging panels to fursuiting dance and talent competitions. The Dealer’s Room will have a riot of artists, writers, makers and merchants; I’ll likely be hanging around the FurPlanet table quite a bit there. But, like every year, I’ll be on a few panels that I hope I’ll see you at if you’re attending. Here are a few of the highlights for each day of the con!

FRIDAY, JANUARY 18TH

Titanium Tea (1:00 PM)Marriott/Los Gatos Suite
My friend Watcher Tigersen will be pulling out some special stops for this 30th edition of Titanium Tea! It’s a wonderful way to settle into the convention; a lot of people come through for the special brews, to share their own favorite teas, and to chat with friends new and old alike. If you like good tea and great company, I highly recommend this.

Beta-Reading for Beginners (3:00 PM)Marriott/Almaden Room
Almost every writer these days has a small group of folks they rely on to catch flaws in a story before it’s submitted for publication. These unsung heroes are called “beta readers”. If you’re unfamiliar with the practice, or have been curious about how beta readers are used by other writers, this is the panel for you! Join me, Watts Martin, and Brandy J. Lewis as we discuss how beta readers can really help your writing.

SATURDAY, JANUARY 19TH

Write Now! (11:00 AM)Marriott/Almaden Room
Kyell Gold and I have been hosting this panel for a few years now, and it’s always a blast! We briefly lay out the basic elements of a story and encourage audiences to think about how to put them together right then and there. Bring your notebook or laptop; we’ll be writing and sharing our work afterwards!

Furry and the “Other” (1:00 PM)Marriott/Guadalupe Room
Over the past few years I’ve been trying to host panels that encourage furry writers to think about how their fiction can serve under-represented parts of our fandom, and this year I wanted to talk about how furry characters are often coded “other” and the effect that has on the audience who sees themselves within these analogues. This year I’m joined by Tonya Song (a Native American/Mexican activist, writer, and musician) as well as Brandy J. Lewis (post-human/furry author) to talk about how furry fiction can help us empathize with people who have totally different experiences from our own.

Adult Furry Writing (4:30 PM / 18+ Only)Hilton/Santa Clara Room
I’m not on this panel, but I make it a point to go every year if I can! Kyell Gold, The Pen Drake (my husband) and Teiran discuss the particular challenge of writing furry scenes and stories with adult themes. Sex (of course), violence and other sensitive topics can be quite different when a furry dimension is added, and some of the most experienced members of our writing community will be here to chat about it!

Dear Author (10:00 PM)Marriott/Willow Glen III
The Pen Drake and Teiran of FurPlanet are joined by esteemed author Mel. White to talk about the most common mistakes editors and slush pile readers see in furry submissions, and what you can do to avoid them! Since it’s late at night, the panelists are likely to be a little punchy — which means this will be wonderfully silly. I always look forward to these loopy late-night sessions!

SUNDAY, JANUARY 20TH

Condemning Nazis (11:00 AM)Marriott/Willow Glen I-II
One of the things the alt-right and alt-furry likes to do is confuse the issue of what they’re about. Make no mistake: these groups are full of racism, xenophobia, bigotry and fascist thinking. Ember will be hosting a panel discussing the history of the Nazi Party, its goals, ideals and methods — and how these groups are putting those into practice in the modern day. The more we know about this, the better able we’ll all be to clean our own houses.

Clarifying Your Life for Writing (5:00 PM)Marriott/Willow Glen III
Most of us have full-time jobs or school, social engagements, familial obligations, relationships, and all kinds of other things to take care of through any given week. It can be murderously difficult to find the time and energy for writing, even if you hope to make it a career someday! While I’m still working to develop my own writing practice, I’ll be talking about the things I’ve learned with Watts Martin — a deeply experienced writer in his own right who also has to juggle the hectic demands of modern life.

Unsheathed Live! (10:00 PM / 18+ Only)Marriott/Guadalupe
The convention podcast is back for another year with Kyell Gold and The Pen Drake! It’s a loose discussion about writing in the furry fandom, favorite (non-)alcoholic drinks, questions from the audience, and general silliness that has served as my personal “closing ceremonies” for a few years now. I LOVE this panel, and I hope you’ll take some time out of a room party to join us!

I’ll be all around the convention and downtown San Jose, most likely starting on Thursday. If you’re heading to Further Confusion, I hope to see you there!

 
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Posted by on January 14, 2019 in Furries, Pop Culture, Writing

 

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(Fandom) Further Confusion 2017

Fandom 150Further Confusion 2017 is right around the corner! Just two weeks after New Year’s Day, the convention feels a lot closer to the holidays than ever before — not that I’m complaining. Further Confusion actually feels like a part of the holiday season at this point, the last gasp of companionship and partying before we slog through the rest of the grey, cold winter. I’m really looking forward to reconnecting with old friends, meeting a ton of new ones, and being inspired to keep making the fandom an awesome place through the rest of 2017!

In addition to all of the usual stuff — hanging out at the Dealer’s Den, grabbing drinks with friends at TANQ and Haberdasher, rolling through downtown San Jose with my furry squad — I’ll again be on a few panels this year. I wanted to take a moment to let you know what I’ll be doing just in case you were interested in hitting one of them. I hope to see you there, or around the convention in general!

Friday, January 13th
1 PM: Titanium Tea XXVII – Los Gatos Suite 4F (Marriott)
I’m not a panelist for this one, but I wanted to talk about this really neat event that Watcher puts on every year! Titanium Tea is an informal social gathering for tea lovers; Watcher makes a special blend that’s exclusive to each event in addition to having a wide variety of hot and cold teas. He’s a really great dude and an excellent host, and I’m really looking forward to having a steaming mug of something special.

5 PM: FurPlanet Presents – Salon V (Marriott)
I’m not a panelist for this one either, but two friends will be debuting their most recent novels at the convention this weekend! Watts Martin will be releasing Kismet, an excellent furry sci-fi adventure; and Kyell Gold will be releasing Love Match, a novelized version of his Patreon serial (which you can join here if you’re so inclined). FurPlanet is one of the premiere furry publishers, and this is where you want to be to find out all of the exciting releases that are coming this year!

Saturday, January 14th
1 PM: Mindfulness and Transformation in Action – Almaden (Marriott)
I’ll be hosting a panel on mindfulness and mental transformation with Kannik again this year! This time around, we’re going to focus on how to use mindfulness and perspective adjustment to deal with interpersonal conflict. With the socio-political climate these days, it’s more important than ever to find a way to navigate conversational minefields with grace, compassion and empathy. In addition to talking about the theory of mindfulness, we hope to share and practice a few techniques that will encourage equanimity in the difficult days ahead.

4:30 PM: What’s Your Problem? – Almaden (Marriott)
I’ll be on a panel of fellow editors, publishers and writers discussing common and uncommon mistakes people make when submitting stories for publication. My time as a slush reader and editor for New Fables has given me some perspective on what works and what doesn’t for submission, and I’ll be joined by Kyell Gold, FuzzWolf and Ryan Campbell — all of whom have ample experience in the field and keen insight into the submission side of our writing careers. If you’re looking to learn a few tips and tricks that will help you get published, we’re more than happy to share what we know!

Sunday, January 15th
11 AM: Brainstorming in Real Time – Almaden (Marriott)
This panel was so much fun last year, and I’m really glad it’s back again! Brainstorming is an important but often-overlooked aspect of the writing process. A lot of the time, our first instinct for a story’s direction is fine, but we can make it so much more dynamic, unpredictable and special by mining details and connections that we wouldn’t think of at first. The Unreliable Narrators Writing Group (Kyell Gold, Watts Martin, Ryan Campbell and myself) come together for an interactive panel that demonstrates the surprising value that comes from letting your imagination run wild. This will be an excellent hangover cure, let me tell you.

3 PM: Write Now! – Salon V (Marriott)
Kyell and I have been running this panel for a few years now, and it’s always fun to see what people write when you sit them in a room for thirty minutes of uninterrupted time. We’ll spend a bit of time talking about the basics of story structure — the things you need to make sure are in place if the skeleton of your tale is going to hold up under the weight of its telling, and then turn the audience loose for a half-hour of writing! Time permitting, we’ll share what we’ve written and give real-time feedback on what we’ve developed so far.

Of course, I’ll be in a few other panels throughout the weekend. You can also find me in the Dealer’s Den, anywhere there’s coffee, or in the lobby of the Hilton or Marriott chatting people up. I’m really looking forward to seeing everyone who’ll be able to make it, and I sincerely hope everyone has a great time.

What panels are you folks particularly looking forward to? What sort of events are can’t-miss? Got any advice on great places to eat or drink in downtown San Jose? Let me know!

 
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Posted by on January 9, 2017 in Furries, Pop Culture

 

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(Personal) A Glance Back, A Stare Forward

Fandom 150Further Confusion 2016 is in the books, and I for one am quite glad it’s over. Not because the convention was terrible (it wasn’t) or because there’s something great on the horizon (but there is), but mostly because I have this small hoard of memories to treasure and sift through for the next few months. The panels I participated in were all awesome; the people that I met, reconnected and conversed with were amazing; and the ideas that we batted back and forth are in serious need of tending, shaping and realizing. I really can’t wait to get started.

“Power and Privilege in an Anthropomorphic World” and “Furries and ‘the Other'” were both well-attended writing panels that generated a lot of lively discussion — it’s really cool to know that folks are excited to deal with these kinds of topics and not shy about diving head-long into what could be some really thorny things. My co-panelists — Watts Martin, Ryan Campbell, Mary Lowd and Chandra al-Akani — were all excellent partners in crime for this; we were able to at least try to keep the topic close to furry writing, and we incorporated audience points and personal stories fairly well. I’m really looking forward to being a part of these next year, and I already have an idea or two about even more panels!

“Write Now!” and “Brainstorming in Real Time” were both loads of fun. Kyell Gold is so much fun to be on a panel with, you guys — there’s something about Coke Zero that makes him really silly and it’s an irresistible mood that you get swept up in. Hopefully folks got some use out of our advice on how to think about the structure of a story or how to brainstorm ideas that could generate a whole flood of strange and different ideas. It’s truly an honor to be talking about these things I’m passionate about with smart, funny, dedicated people in front of other really smart, funny and dedicated people. There really isn’t much better than being in a group aiming for the same thing — excellent and thoughtful furry fiction.

I had so many conversations with so many people, and so many of them were so great. I got to see a replica of a Buddhist meditation scroll from 15th century Japan that featured rabbits, foxes, frogs and monkeys doing regular things to illustrate the general folly of artificial restrictions and castes — and got a wonderful idea for an art commission that I can’t wait to develop with corgi extraordinaire, Zia. I spent a ton of time with Kannik, a wonderful and thoughtful guy who loves movies, games and Eastern philosophy — so we’re two peas in a pod. I got to meet a lot of friends from all over the country and indulge in such a wide variety of interests over the weekend, from cartoons to comics to drinking to macro/micro silliness.

Yeah, Further Confusion 2016 was a blast, and I can’t thank the staff enough for putting in so many hours to bring it all together. It’s a largely thankless job and people only really notice them when something goes wrong, but they were (for the most part) super-friendly, knowledgeable and ready to help whenever you need it. A million points to those folks!

Now that the convention is done, it’s time to head into the very busy second part of the month. This week I’ll be doing my best to catch up with the Jackalope Serial Company to make sure parts 2 through 4 go up on time. I also need to sketch out my project plan for the JSC, New Fables, The Writing Desk and so much more next month, just to make sure I know what I’m doing and when. The big trip to New York City for my day job happens next Tuesday, and I need to make sure I have warm clothing, all of my work supplies, medication and a way to bring my morning routine to New York City. I’ll be staying there until Sunday, where I fly back and immediately head back into work the next day. Once Friday rolls around, I will not be able to sit back and enjoy the Super Bowl weekend; I will instead have my first on-call days.

There’s a LOT going on over the next two or three weeks. I’ll do my best to make sure everything gets done, but The Writing Desk might be a little empty for a little while. As much as I would love to make sure this blog is updated three times a week, chances are very high that something will have to give.

Besides, writing about writing isn’t the best thing to do when you have stories that are begging to be finished. Once “A Stable Love” is done, I’ll move straight into “The Tourist”. That’s my entry to People of Color Destroy Science Fiction, which is gearing up to be an amazing anthology — the Kickstarter is live, and you can chip in to help them meet their stretch goals here! If I can manage to get “The Tourist” written and edited for submission, there’s one more commission to tackle before I can return my focus to simply the Jackalope Serial Company and The Writing Desk for a little while.

What’s the Jackalope Serial Company, you ask? So glad you did! It’s my Patreon for serialized erotic stories (mostly featuring M/M, macro/micro and muscle content). I’m a sucker for a good serial, and the time has come for me to try my hand at making one of my own. If you’re interested, please head on over to my Patreon page to check it out. The first serial — THE CULT OF MAXIMUS — has just gotten underway, so now’s a good time to hop on board!

Now that I’ve pimped out several things, I think it’s time to go back to the old word mines. Hopefully there will be a new chapter of Br’ers on Friday — you might see a very hastily-scratched apology here instead. At any rate, wish me luck!

 
 

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Rainfurrest 2015 Wrap-Up

Fandom 150Another Rainfurrest has come and gone, and I really loved the convention this year. The panels were fun and interesting, but more importantly I got to hang and chat with a bunch of people I had only known online — JM Horse, Phil Geusz, Makyo and others in the [adjective][species] crew. There were a lot of folks from the Furry Writers’ Guild there as well, and they’re almost always delightful! Mary and Daniel Lowd I like more and more every time I get to meet them, and seeing Munchkin, MrMandolino, Dwale and others (too numerous to name!) was really excellent. I’m so happy to see a community of writers forming and networking, talking about their craft and helping each other take their writing to the next level. These are really exciting times to be a furry writer, I feel, and I’m lucky to be a part of that.

Ryan’s books debuted over the course of the convention, and he had his book launch party on Saturday. He read the first scene from Koa of the Drowned Kingdom, an action-packed encounter with a huge, hungry crocodile that also happens to be a wonderful introduction to the characters and the unique world. He also read a scene from Forest Gods, with Doto and Clay traveling through the savannah and reflecting on the situation they’ve found themselves in. Koa’s scene was great, but this scene from Forest Gods is brilliant, and it just reminded me all over again how amazing this book is. I know that I’m his husband and I might be just a little biased, but please trust me when I say that the Fire-Bearers series is simply excellent work and I wholeheartedly, unreservedly recommend that you pick up both God of Clay and Forest Gods as soon as possible. I’m tremendously proud of my husband for what he’s accomplished, and I’m so excited that people get to read what he’s been pouring himself into for the past few years.

I also picked up the Coyotl Award-winning Huntress by Renee Carter Hall so I could introduce myself to her writing properly, as well as the new anthology Inhuman Acts. It’s a set of furry noir stories that I’m rather excited about; I got to hear a snippet of one story from the FurPlanet book launch that made me buy it as soon as I could. Watts Martin, a member of my writing group, workshopped one of the stories with us, and I’m really glad to see it found a home in the anthology. It is so good, and I’m really glad to see Watts popping up in anthologies again, as well as working on novellas and his first novel. Which is going to be a doozy, you guys. I can’t wait for you to read it!

The reason I love conventions these days is to immerse myself in the community of folks who love furry fandom as much as I do, to have conversations about their experiences and passions, to compare notes about our work and divide the burdens we feel amongst ourselves. I also get to settle in with old friends, renewing and deepening friendships that can be stretched thin over long distances; I get to put faces to names, and imagine tweets and blog posts spoken in the manner of their writers. I can geek out to folks I’ve admired from afar for a long time. I can buy drinks for folks in exchange for a few minutes of their time.

Typically, I get depressed BEFORE the convention. Usually I’ve offered to be on a panel or made plans to hook up with someone, and I always worry about the panel or the meeting going terribly. What if I’m awkward? What if what I have to say comes out as a jumbled and confusing mess? What if I don’t hit it off with the people I really like? I almost never sleep well the night before a convention; making sure that I’ve remembered my clothes and my medication, worrying about how I will deal with my scatter-brain and anxiety, takes the place of a good night’s rest.

Then I arrive, and almost always hit the ground running. I meet people. We talk. I laugh a lot. I connect and understand them a lot better. I feel myself becoming more entrenched in this community that I love. I feel a part of things. Happiness sinks into the core of my being, enriches into joy, grows roots that become contentment. I’m floating by the time the convention is over, excited and rejuvenated to go back into my daily life. There is so much I want to do. There’s a certainty I feel, that I’m on the right track, I’m doing the right things, and I’m resolved to keep on keeping on.

I’m so excited about my writing, guys. I’m really looking forward to polishing my work and putting it out there. I can’t wait to see my name in anthologies, to sit in on more panels, to connect with more people. By the time Rainfurrest 2016 rolls around, I sincerely hope that people will be able to talk about the stories I have for sale at the convention — even if they have problems with them, or are curious about certain choices that I’ve made.

I’ve left this convention with the determination to write and submit short stories to various zines and anthologies; to really push on a few of the projects that have been progressing slowly — to make sure my Patreon launches well and I’m well-positioned to make it a fun experience for everyone involved, to make sure New Fables is out as soon as possible and we have an idea for how to take the idea into the future, to become a more active contributor to [adjective][species]; to make sure that my writing is pointing me towards the person that I would like to be. Conventions are a launching pad for each of us, and it’s up to each of us to make sure we use the momentum well.

I’ve got a good head of steam behind me to propel me through the end of the year. I’m going to fly straight and true.

 

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The Seven Panels of Rainfurrest 2015

Fandom 150Rainfurrest is one of my favorite conventions. It’s held every fall in Seattle, which means I have a great excuse to visit the Pacific Northwest during one of the prettiest times of the year. There is a TON of great coffee to be had, which is handy when you’re putting in those late nights at parties and what not. The convention staff has quietly made it a destination for furry writers over the years, too; the Writing Panel track has been consistently strong. And, perhaps most of all, the convention has been really good to Ryan. He debuted God of Clay there two years ago, and this year he’ll release not only the second novel in the Firebearers Series (Forest Gods) but a Cupcake novella from FurPlanet, Koa of the Drowned Kingdom.

I’m genuinely excited to be going to the convention this year, where I hope to meet and chat with as many writers as I possibly can. You’ll find me with the dazed expression and a rabbit-themed t-shirt with either a cup of coffee or a stiff drink in my paw. I’ll be doing my best to be a cheerleader and stress manager for Ryan, who’ll be having a pretty big weekend all things considered.

If you see me there, feel free to say hi! Since it’s a convention and there’s always a million things going on at once at these things, I apologize in advance if I’m distracted or on my way somewhere else and unable to chat. If you see me sitting down somewhere without a laptop or a book in front of me, assume that means I’m approachable! I’d love to meet folks and spaz about all the things that unite us in our fandom excitement.

Besides the general hangout areas or the Dealer’s Den, I’ll be at a few panels. Here are a few that I’m particularly looking forward to!

THURSDAY, 9/24
9 PM – Write Now!
Kyell Gold and I had a really great time with this panel at Further Confusion earlier in the year, so we’re bringing it to Rainfurrest along with NotTube. We’ll tackle a few blocks to getting your story out of your head and onto paper (or the screen), then provide you with 30 whole minutes of writing time to act on those lessons right there and there!

10 PM – The Coyotl Awards
These are fledgling furry fiction awards given out by the Furry Writers Guild; think of them as the Nebula Awards as opposed to the Hugo Awards (that niche is filled by the Ursa Majors). The ceremony will be held in the Hilton Hospitality Suite, where we will celebrate the Best Novel, Novella, Short Story and Anthology of the year.
FRIDAY, 9/25
11 AM – I Cast Thee Out! Dealing With Rejection and Critique
Every writer submitting stories out into the world will have to deal with the ones that come back with “No thanks.” Even after they’ve been accepted by a publishing company or polished up and self-published, readers might have a few criticisms (hopefully constructive!) to dish out. Since the thought of bearing my soul through stories and having them beaten up by a cruel and uncaring world gives me the screaming fits, this is a good panel to go to.

12 Noon – Only the Strong Survive: Revising and Editing Your Manuscript
Not going to lie — revising and editing is one of those parts of the process I’ve been avoiding for the longest time. I know there are really important things that happen with the story here, so I’m hoping this panel will offer a few pointers on how to deal with this. Anything that helps me get past my natural resistance is a boon.
SATURDAY, 9/26
12 Noon – Gender Identity in the Fandom
This is part of my ongoing education with gender identity and expression. I’m a cisgendered male, but transgender issues are really interesting to me; learning more about what it means to be trans* or gender-fluid is something I’m really keen to do.

2 PM – FurPlanet/Sofawolf Book Launch
Ryan Campbell will be debuting Forest Gods and Koa of the Drowned Kingdom, while Ocean Tigrox will debut a furry noir anthology titled Inhuman Acts. This is THE panel to be at if you’re into quality fiction at all.

8 PM – Unsheathed Live
It’s Unsheathed! And it’s live!! Before my bedtime no less! This is almost always a good time, and I’m looking forward to it.

10 PM – Unspeakable Urges: Writing Kinks in Fantasy
I’m nervous as hell about the Patreon and writing kink-specific fiction for a (hopefully) paying audience. This is part of the process of drawing me out of my shell, talking to folks frankly about erotic and kink writing, and maybe develop a couple of relationships with other authors.
SUNDAY, 9/27
10 AM – En Garde! Thrilling and Believable Action Sequences
I love writing action scenes, actually, but I’m always worried about how to translate the blocking of them inside my head. This panel will (hopefully) come in handy and offer a few tips on making sure I’m doing the right thing.

So those are my panel plans! I’ll also bum around the Dealer’s Den, the hotel bar and a few room parties here and there. So exciting!! If you’re at Rainfurrest, I’ll see you there! If you’re not, please have a great weekend anyway!

 
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Posted by on September 22, 2015 in Furries, Writing

 

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Hey Furries, Meet Sci-Fi/Fantasy!

Fandom 150Further Confusion 2014 is in the record books now, and I’m sure I don’t need to tell you it was a hell of a convention. There were nearly 3,600 attendees this year, and it felt like there was an unending parade of things to do, people to see and places to be. I had a tremendously fun time hanging out with new friends and old, getting to know quite a few people better, catching up with folks that I had fallen out of touch with, and learning more about the creative process. I really couldn’t have asked for a better con.

I was on a few panels over the course of the convention, and pimped out this blog at the end of most of them. So, if you’re new to the Writing Desk — welcome! I really appreciate you taking the time to check out my cozy little corner of the Internet. I’ll be talking about writing, storytelling, spirituality and personal development, movies and fiction here. Feel free to drop a comment if you see something you like and/or disagree with!

One of the panels I was on over the weekend was “Furry vs. the Mainstream,” which talked about what the fandom has to offer the broader sci-fi/fantasy community, how we got to be a bit estranged from it in the first place, and why the time is right to make a push for our place at the table. The fandom at its best is a wonderfully inclusive community with a broad range of voices, experiences and viewpoints. We’re just the type of fresh blood the SF/F community needs if it’s going to adapt to the times and thrive.

That being said, I do think it’s important we gain a better understanding of the people who make up the SF/F community and what they think. One way we can do that is by taking a look at the things that are popular in the genre right now. Who are winning the awards? Who regularly pops up as a guest of honor at conventions large and small? What sort of themes and settings are people talking about? What are the similarities and differences between the ideas that are being played with by the SF/F community and the furry community?

We should think about this so that we understand the situation we’re stepping into. That way, we can put our best foot forward as a group and work to repair years of bad publicity, stereotypes and assumptions. We should be prepared to answer pointed questions and talk about uncomfortable subjects. We should think of ourselves as diplomats from a misunderstood and exciting country. We should be proud to be who we are, and come from where we do. But we must also understand the objections other people might have, and be patient while we work them out. It may not be easy all the time, but it IS worth doing.

I promised some of the attendees of the panel that I would recommend a few short stories and websites so they could take a look at the broader community. Feel free to recommend your own resources in the comments!

WEBSITES
io9 — This is the sci-fi/fantasy geek arm of the Gawker sites, and while your mileage may vary with the coverage and community there I’ve found it to be surprisingly smart and engaging. People can be snarky, but overall the editors of the site do a great job of signal-boosting both corporate and fan-made creations. Best of all, they regularly pay attention to the written word, sharing and broadcasting exciting novels and short stories from the genre.

Apex Magazine — A periodical featuring short stories and essays covering science-fiction, fantasy and horror. Great, wonderfully lyrical stories and essays that broach interesting topics I’ve never thought about abound here. Two authors with roots in the fandom have even been featured here — Tim Susman’s “Erzulie Dantor” was featured in the November 2012 issue and “Jackalope Wives” from Ursula Vernon was published in the January 2014 issue.

Tor Blog — A long-standing genre imprint that has published all manner of major names, Tor has a fantastic online community and blog that features posts from thoughtful writers and publishes short stories and novel excerpts that have been curated by the editors. It’s so easy to get lost here, and the variety is astonishing. You’re bound to find something you like, even if you have to do a little digging.

SHORT STORIES
“It’s a Good Life” by Jerome Bixby — Most people remember The Twilight Zone episode that came afterward, but the original short story from Jerome Bixby is a perfect little gem of strangeness and horror. Straightforward prose is peppered with evocative, descriptive language that heightens the mood wonderfully. One of my absolute favorites.

“The Paper Menagerie” by Ken Liu — This is the first work of any length to sweep the Hugo, Nebula and World Fantasy Awards. It’s a wonderful modern-fantasy story that comes from the distinct experience of a Chinese-American person. “Mono no Aware” is also a great short story, marking Ken Liu as a powerful voice in the genre.

“Life in the Anthropocene” by Paul Di Filippo — A broader sci-fi short story that features a furry supporting character, this was the story I had talked about during the panel. It tells of a vastly different Earth than the one we’re used to, where humanity has moved to mega-cities at the poles of the planet post-ecocide. I wasn’t able to find it free online, I’m afraid, but the Kindle copy is only a dollar.

OTHER RESOURCES
WorldCon — These guys put together the biggest science-fiction convention in the world, moving it from site to site (the upcoming one in August 2014 will be based in London) and its membership votes for the Hugo Awards. Even if you can’t show up to the convention, membership will help you keep your finger on the pulse of the science-fiction community.

DragonCon — These are the big dogs on the fantasy side of the coin, they cover everything from literature to costuming and every type of game you can imagine. The convention will be held in Atlanta this year, at the end of August. Even if you can’t go, browsing the site will give you a number of ideas about who the moves and shakers of the fantasy/geek scene might be.

I’ll reiterate what I said at the convention — these are all just jumping on points, and it’s quite easy to follow trails to get yourself more invested in the sci-fi/fantasy community. Just grab on to what interests you and follow where it leads. Be patient with stories, discover things that you really get excited by and see what’s related. Talk about these with your friends, and apply those things to your own creative, furry-specific endeavors. Cross-pollination not only benefits the bigger community, but ourselves as well!

 
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Posted by on January 22, 2014 in Furries, Pop Culture, Reading, Writing

 

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Rainfurrest 2013: Seattle Grunge

Fandom 150Last weekend I headed up to Seattle for the annual ode to anthropomorphics in the Pacific Northwest, Rainfurrest. It’s a really nice convention, and it’s positioned itself well — in the crowded furry con landscape, I don’t think there are too terribly many events in September. It’s also one of the only conventions that makes a concerted effort to distinguish itself by catering to a specific aspect of the fandom, and that’s something I wish other cons would gear towards. We’ve gotten big enough that some fragmentation would be a neat thing — while Further Confusion and Anthrocon could be the senses-shattering mega-events that draw the biggest crowds, the smaller, regional cons could forge their identities by taking advantage of their location (Rocket City, for example) or building a lot of their programming towards performance, writing, art or music.

Rainfurrest has become the convention to go to if you’re a furry writer, for example. They encourage furry publishers to debut new works at the con by throwing release parties, they pay quite a bit of attention to their Writing Guests of Honor, and the writing panel track is one of the most robust I’ve ever seen. Instead of the usual con-book that no one reads, they actually went out of their way to publish a full-fledged anthology for sale, with proceeds going towards the charities that were taken up that year. It’s really impressive, and a quite welcome focus. Most conventions are too concerned with keeping the lights on and making sure everything runs smoothly to take risks or be creative with the focus and goodies they provide. This con is a wonderful exception.

Ryan’s book God of Clay debuted this year, the first in a trilogy. There was a general book release party for Sofawolf Press, his publisher, and he got quite a bit of attention there. He was adorably shy through most of it, but all in all it was a great experience for him. He spent some time behind the Sofawolf Press desk in the dealer’s den, got in touch with his audience, signed some books and learned the importance of personal contact and marketing. (It sounds so crass when I say it that way.) He was on a panel or two and seemed to impress a few folks with what he had to say. He actually presented as a bona-fide writer, which was tremendously exciting to see. I have to tell you guys, I’m tremendously proud of him. He’s incredibly talented and passionate about what he does. And now he gets to live the dream for a little bit.

I may be biased, but God of Clay is still a great book and there’s nothing like it in the furry fandom right now — there’s very few books like it in the broader sci-fi/fantasy genre. I highly recommend picking up a copy if you haven’t already.

Otherwise, it was a really fun convention. I got to meet a couple of writers whom I’ve always heard about, Phil Geusz (Freedom City) and Mitch de la Guardia (N’duk the Hunter). Phil was the Writing Special Guest, and it was pretty awesome seeing him get something of the rock-star treatment; he constantly had a retinue surrounding him wherever he went. I managed to talk to him for a little bit about his Books of Lapinism setting, which sounds like something I’d love to read. Mitch and I already kind of know each other through the FBA; we both play polar bear centers in the league. But it was good talking to him outside of that connection, and seeing him in a more writerly context. I bought the first collection of N’duk stories, and I’m looking forward to reading it. I also got to talk to Daniel and Mary Lowd for a little bit. I came away from the weekend with a good sense of the writing community here in the fandom; that’s one of the things that Rainfurrest affords.

It’s also convinced me more than ever that the writing segment of the fandom is mature enough to stand up to criticism, and could serve to benefit from it. There are a lot of people who are serious about the craft, strive to be better, and like engaging in discussion about how best to do that. I think as long as the discussion is positive, constructive and respectful, criticism isn’t anything to be afraid of. It also reaffirms my belief that the big problem with criticism in the fandom so far is that it’s been used as a vehicle to boost personality and fame; there aren’t that many people who really scrutinize the work closely with an eye towards discussing its impact and meaning.

I’m really glad I was able to make this convention, and now I’m going to try and make it one of those things I get to every year. Ryan’s come away from it with a better sense of the work that goes into a book surrounding its publication. What’s better, I think he actually learned he does a pretty decent job with it as well. Win-win for all!

 
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Posted by on October 7, 2013 in Better Living Through Stories, Furries, Writing

 

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