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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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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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