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(Fandom) Further Confusion 2018

Fandom 150Further Confusion 2018 is just around the corner! The first major convention of the year will be held at the San Jose McEnery Convention Center starting this Thursday, January 11th and closing down on Monday, January 15th after five days of furry fun. I really love this con; it’s super close to me, and I get to show so many friends from out of town the best parts of the city! Not only that, but I’m usually on a few panels about writing and/or spirituality where I get to chat a bunch about things that really interest me. Good times all around!

If you’re planning to go to the convention, please let me know — I’d love to meet you! Chances are you can find me bumming around the Dealer’s Den, chilling out in one of the many hang-out spots around the convention center, or attending a boatload of panels (that I’m not on). If you’re interested in attending a panel I’ll be hosting, here are the four I’ll be working with.

Adult Furry Writing (18+ Only)

Saturday, January 13th @ 10:00 PM (Salon V-VI / Marriott)

Writing adult scenes in furry fiction are a bit more complicated than ‘just add sex’. How can you make sure adult themes are woven into stories in ways that not only engage your readers but also enhances the work? I’ll be on this panel with my husband (The Pen Drake) and Kyell Gold for the first time this year to talk about how to handle the more graphic aspects of our fiction.

Developing A Writing Practice

Sunday, January 14th @ 11:00 AM (Almaden / Marriott)

One of the biggest pieces of writing advice for the neophyte is making sure you write on a regular basis. But in an age where so many things compete for our attention, how in the world do we manage that? I’ll go over strategies that have worked for me and answer questions about specific stumbling blocks to the best of my ability along with prolific writer Kyell Gold!

Afrofuturism and Furry

Sunday, January 14th @ 5:00 PM (Guadalupe / Marriott)

Just what IS Afrofuturism and what does it have to do with furry fiction? I’m very excited to offer this panel for the very first time — I’ll explain just what Afrofuturism is, detail its history in brief, and show how the themes, aesthetic and values of the movement are more at home in furry fiction than you think. I’m on this panel solo, so expect a more conversational panel.

And here are a few panels that I think are so cool they need to be promoted!

Titanium Tea XXIX

Friday, January 12th @ 1:00 PM (Los Gatos Suite / Marriott 4th Floor)

Watcher Tigersen has been running this tea-based social at Further Confusion for years now, and it’s always a fun time. He even brews an exclusive tea just for each year, and this meet-up will be no exception! If you’re a tea afficianado and you’d like to meet other furries who love a good cup and a sit-down as much as you do, you should definitely check this out!

Native American Cultures

Friday, January 12th @ 3:00 PM (Almaden / Marriott)

Julzz, Yasuno and Tonya Song are bringing back this panel from last year, exploring various aspects of Native American culture including art, stories, music, philosophy, history and more. It’s really exciting to get more of this kind of panel in furry; more insight into the beliefs of Native Americans is sorely needed so we can approach aspects of it with more care and sensitivity.

Reveille and the Swingin’ Tails

Saturday, January 13th @ 1:00 PM (Second Stage / Marriott)

This is low-key one of the best live performances at Further Confusion, featuring a six-piece band playing jazz, funk and blues! Scheduling conflicts mean I don’t make the concerts as often as I’d like, but I always try to see the Swingin’ Tails if I get the chance. You should too!

Let’s Talk About RAWR: the Furry Residential Writing Workshop

Saturday, January 13th @ 4:30 PM (Guadalupe / Marriott)

Did you know that there is a one-week intensive residential workshop dedicated to helping furry writers refine their craft? WELL THERE IS! Alkani Serval, Kyell Gold and Ryan Campbell will be hosting this panel about RAWR (the Regional Anthropomorphic Writers Retreat) — they’ll be talking about what previous years were like, and what you can do to apply if you’re interested!

Mindfulness and Meditation Workshop

Sunday, January 14th @ 1:00 PM (Santa Clara / Hilton)

Kannik will be hosting this panel all about the benefits of building a regular meditation practice and how it can lead to being more mindful in all aspects of your life! He’s an engaging and down-to-earth teacher who’s been doing this for years. The panel has been wonderfully informative and enriching for years, so if you’re curious about the transformative aspects of meditation and mindfulness I highly recommend spending a bit of time with him on Sunday afternoon!

Unsheathed Live! (18+ Only)

Sunday, January 14th @ 10:00 PM (Guadalupe / Marriott)

Unsheathed began life as one of the very first furry writing podcasts, and it continues on as a live panel at various conventions. It is a BLAST. Last year, Carrizo Kitfox outfitted 3D models for presenters Kyell Gold, K.M. Hirosaki and The Pen Drake for extra hilarity and immersion. Kyell, KM and Pen will discuss what they’ve been reading and writing, then take questions from the audience in a lively, loose event that’s consistently one of the highlights of my con!

So those are the panels I’ll be trying to make this year, but there’s a ton of other stuff to do. In addition to the Dealer’s Den during the day and dances at night, there are charity auctions; a gamer’s lounge for board games, tabletop RPGs and video games; poker tournaments; late-night Jackbox games; and all kinds of meet-ups for furries of all kinds of interests. Around San Jose, there are amazing restaurants, art installations, nightclubs, museums and events as well. FC 2018 is going to be really, really fun — I can’t wait to see some of you there!

 
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Posted by on January 8, 2018 in Furries, 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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Further Confusion 2016!

Fandom 150Folks, it’s that time again — the time when downtown San Jose is suddenly flooded with bizarre people descending onto the Convention Center to engage their weird hobby. The volleyball girls are back! Oh, and also Further Confusion is coming up this weekend.

Of course I’ll be there — just look for the portly black dude probably wearing a sweater vest and a backpack and some sort of jackalope badge. I’m really looking forward to meeting lots of you coming from all around the country, or hooking up again with friends I haven’t gotten to see for a while, or chatting with fans about the things that we love and care about. It should be a blast!

One of the best things about Further Confusion is the robust slate of panels, seminars and events that encompass almost every aspect of the furry fandom — art, writing, music, performance, science, spirituality and crafts are all well-represented there. As a writer, I’ll be on a few panels this time and I wanted to tell you about them, just in case you were interested!

THURSDAY, JANUARY 14TH
OUT OF POSITION Release Party (Marriott: Almaden) – 7 PM
My good friend Kyell Gold will be releasing the latest novel in his Out of Position series — Over Time — at the convention! His release party will be pretty awesome, and one of the best ways to kick off a weekend-long party is by celebrating a friend’s success. The book won’t be available for sale there, alas, but he’ll be there to chat and sign things, so it really is the next best thing.

FRIDAY, JANUARY 15TH
Power and Privilege in an Anthropomorphic World (Hilton: Santa Clara) – 1 PM
I’ll be talking about how to illustrate the societal effects of different species co-existing within the same world with Chipotle and my husband, NotTube. I’m really excited about this topic; it’s not necessarily all about how power dynamics from the real world translate into our fictionalized furry ones, but what a whole different set of dynamics borne from the traits of vastly different species might look like. Would carnivores really dominate the power structure? How would physical characteristics shape the world? And what advantages would humans have once we lose opposable thumbs and sapience?

Write Now! (Hilton: Santa Clara) – 3 PM
Kyell Gold and I will be talking about ways to think about the shape of your short story with an eye towards finally sitting down and banging it out! We’ll break down the basic elements of your story — what you’ll need to get started, most of the time — and then providing 30 minutes to work on it using the tools you have at your disposal. How generous!

SATURDAY, JANUARY 16TH
Mindfulness and Transformation in Action (Marriott: Almaden) – 11 AM
Kannik and I will be discussing the transformative power of bringing mindfulness into your life. We’ll talk a bit about our perspective and background working with it, discuss examples illustrating exactly how clear and present thinking can redirect negative experiences, and engage in a brief meditation session and a few exercises to give folks a feel for using it. This is always one of my favorite times at the convention; I look forward to it every year.

Furries and the “Other” (Hilton: Santa Clara) – 4:30 PM
Here we’ll be discussing how the concept of “otherness” applies to furry — or if it even does! Mapping real-life social and political differences to furry fiction is an interesting thing; there’s often not a direct parallel, but what can we learn from the way divisions are drawn? What does that say about us as creators and readers? I’ll be talking about this with Mary Lowd and Chandra al-Alkani.

SUNDAY, JANUARY 17TH
Brainstorming in Real Time (Hilton: Santa Clara) – 11 AM
One of the biggest things I’ve learned in writing last year is to always try out multiple answers to the question “And then what?” Your first answer is going to be the most common one, and the further out you go with ideas the more creative opportunities open up! Even ideas you instinctively discount can be the best ideas you have for really pushing your story into new territory. My writing group — Chipotle, Kyell Gold, NotTube and myself — will be hosting this panel detailing the brainstorming process and how you can use it to your benefit.

Unsheathed Live (Hilton: Santa Clara) – 10 PM
To close out the convention, the adult writing podcast is all set to go for another year! Kyell, KM Hirosaki and NotTube will talk about furry writing for adults, take audience questions and probably have a lot of wine. This is always a blast, and I’m really looking forward to going out on a high note with FC 2016!

So that’s my schedule! Feel free to join me at any of these panels or say hello if you see me bumming around the convention. I’ll even have business cards for the Jackalope Serial Company! Whoo!!

See you at the San Jose Convention Center this weekend, folks. It’s going to be legendary!

 
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Posted by on January 11, 2016 in Furries

 

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(Personal) Going Back to Go Forward

Myth 150My childhood was spent in a procession of hostile places. At home, I had a severe, distant mother and an alcoholic father to tend with; my sister got into trouble a lot and ran away from home several times, so there was always something terrible going on there. At school I was a poor, shy kid who had no social skills and a meek disposition. I got along with the teachers well enough, but that only made life worse with the students. At my church, I was a “spiritual orphan”, more a pity project for elders in the congregation than a colleague and certainly one of the least popular kids there. I spent most of my life growing up with few friends and a certainty that I didn’t fit in any of the places that surrounded me.

So, when I discovered the Internet and the furry community it was a lifeline for me. There was a whole community of people out there who shared my interests and mindset, no matter how strange it was. After I graduated high school, I worked two mall jobs and spent what little free time that gave me talking to people online. I would often get home after midnight, wake up at 6 or 7 AM and catch the bus to do it all again.

When I went to college, I accepted my sexuality. When I came out to my mother and she rejected me, I knew that was my last link to my community gone. I would absolutely be disfellowshipped from my congregation, and after that my mother would more than likely be encouraged not to speak to me. My sister and I weren’t close at that point, and I hadn’t developed a strong bond with anyone else in my family. I left home in the summer of 1999 and I haven’t been back since.

For a long time, it was hard to think of myself as a black man. I felt thoroughly rejected by my tribe and just as wholeheartedly accepted by a new one. I’d rather think of myself as a geek and a furry because that was the community I had jumped in with. And they’re still a huge part of my life — I love the furry fandom, and I love geeking out with other people who love science-fiction, urban/modern fantasy and post-apocalyptic stories. This is still my tribe, and I feel more comfortable here than I ever have anywhere else.

But over the past year or so, with my discovery of the black geek community online and my slow but steady connection with black geeks through Twitter and the blogosphere, it’s occurred to me that the black part of my identity is still there, will always be there, and continues to wield its influence over me. I’ll see social dynamics differently than most people, and my experiences of being marginalized in both the dominant culture and my little minority tribe will continue to have some bearing on the way I see the world. To deny that would be dishonest to myself, and I can’t do that any more.

I’ve been trying to absorb what that means for myself, but over the past year I’ve found myself making small and hesitant overtures back to at least the part of black culture that overlaps with the tribe I’ve chosen for myself since leaving home. And it’s been a wonderful experience; learning that our shared history and experience can be used to create wildly different stories that are just as vital and interesting and imaginative as a Euro-centric tale is nothing short of a revelation. I’ve been so intrigued by the idea of it, and it’s made me want to dig back into not only my own personal history, but the history of my people to better understand my place in the fringes of it.

So I’ve been dabbling in telling stories borne out of my experience and the way it’s shaped my understanding of the culture I came from. I’ve been seeking out the voices of other intelligent black people who’ve been making a place at the table for themselves within the broader SFF community. I’ve been slowly trying on my blackness, but I’ve had trouble feeling it, had trouble feeling connected to the place where I’ve come from.

That was until I saw The Wiz Live.

For those of you who don’t know, The Wiz is a musical re-imagining of The Wizard of Oz featuring an all-black cast. Most people know it as a somewhat campy 70s movie starring Diana Ross, Michael Jackson and Richard Pryor but it was a surprise hit on Broadway before that, winning seven Tony Awards in its first year (including Best Musical). I had never seen the 70s movie up until now, when NBC decided to put on a live staging of The Wiz as part of its nascent Thanksgiving tradition.

I won’t go into too much detail here, though I can spaz about The Wiz for a really long time. But the musical re-contextualizes everyone’s desires through issues that affect the black community at large in really interesting ways. Dorothy finds herself stuck in a place she doesn’t want to be, though it’s the only home she’s got and she can’t go back to the one she had; the Scarecrow can’t think of a way out of his situation, which is a losing game that he’s forced to play; the Tin Man loved the wrong woman, and now she’s stolen his heart and left him without the ability to feel anything; and the Lion struggles to muster the courage to deal with the very real difficulties he faces in life.

The performances were nothing short of amazing — for the most part. But what really hit home for me were the songs; numbers like “You Can’t Win” and “What I Would Do If I Could Feel” talk about the depression and bitterness that build up through a lifetime of feeling helpless, but “Be A Lion,” the brand-new “We Got It” and “Everybody Rejoice/Brand New Day” acknowledges the difficulty of the black struggle while also encouraging us to live the virtues that have gotten us this far — perseverance, fearlessness and compassion for the struggles of others. It’s a uniquely black American story, steeped in our culture and concerns. I’ve never seen a story quite like that before, told so excellently, with such care and such pride, on some a big stage. It was a revelation.

It was the first time I felt connected to the community I had come from, or felt like I had a strong sense of its values, its struggles, its worries. It was the first time I ever saw a story that made me feel like this was something specifically told for me and mine. Seeing all of these immensely talented black people stepping up to tell a story to the best of their considerable abilities was….it made me realize what I could be. And it connected me to where I came from.

So now I feel I have a better grasp of my background — not only of my personal history, but the social and emotional history of my people. I’m sure it wasn’t just The Wiz that did it — I’ve been digging around, learning more and pushing myself to interact more — but it felt like a piece of the puzzle that clicked into place and allowed me to see a much more complete picture than I ever have before.

I’m going into my background and the storytelling around it with much more excitement and confidence now. I have a stronger sense of who I am, and an even greater desire to connect to my culture and its history. The specific troubles I went through are shared by a lot of black geeks like me, who find it difficult to be truly who they are while being a part of a community that encourages sameness for its own protection. I want to go back and rejoin it, while at the same time embracing my individuality. There’s a place at that table for me, even if I have to make it myself. It’s something that black geeks are used to doing at this point, right?

The story that I’m writing to put up on the blog this week is my first attempt at writing a furry story from a black perspective. I’m excited to share it, while at the same time I realize it’s just the first step along a path. My understanding of my own history will continue to deepen and evolve, and hopefully my writing will reflect that over time. But for now, the first bit of that journey.

 

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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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