WRITEVERSARY, August 18th, 2017

Exactly one year ago today, a journey fifteen years in the making took its first step. Ink freshly laid began to dry, and GENMOS: Gathering Storms was officially signed to Thurston Howl Publications.

It was a sign to me, a sign that my work was not in vain, a sign that someone other than me and a few close friends felt I had any talent with the written word, a sign that someone had faith in a group of characters birthed from an active imagination.

In short, today is my Writeversary.

I didn’t consider myself a professional and published author until early in the new year, when I received a cheque for Tooth, Claw and Fang, and word that my other short, A Voice Not Spoken, was published, but today celebrates the start of that journey, the signal that all my work and enhancement over the years was not for naught.

It inspired me to keep going, to keep improving, to say thank you to all those who encouraged me, all those that still do, and to say a not-sarcastic thank you to those who doubted me, because you too, inspired me to grow.

It’s been an amazing first year. I was scared at first, worried that something would happen like it had twice before, that GENMOS would be dropped, or lost in some reorganization, but as the weeks passed and my publisher and editors communicated with me, my confidence grew. I began to submit short stories in the hopes that the signature was not a one-time fluke, and I was rewarded for my efforts.

FurPlanet Productions, Scary Dairy Press,  Multifarious Press, Siren’s call publications, and, of course, Thurston Howl Publications, again and again, have proven to me that I CAN write. I can Wordcraft.

 

THANK YOU TO ALL OF YOU, and to ALL WHO OFFER THEIR SUPPORT. I could not have done this alone, I could not have done this without beta readers, editors, friends and family that offered honest, sometimes scathing, criticism. You have helped to mold me into something that I am proud of.

Now, I haven’t achieved any success by lying back once the ink finalized the deal. Gathering Storms underwent drastic changes (for the better) and I busied myself by writing and submitting short stories to token paying markets in an attempt to raise some finances to support my craft and in an attempt to get my name out to other markets. I joined the Furry Writer’s Guild and met many cool people who were willing to help. I entered into social media and built websites, engaged in hashtag games, been interviewed twice, and even built my own word game on twitter, #Words2Show.

Over the last 52 weeks, I wrote 26 short stories, edited others in my reserve pile, made 46 submissions, endured 29 rejections, am still awaiting word on 7 of those attempts, released 5 stories Pro Bono, and earned 10 more signatures from various presses.

The number of rejections might seem high, but considering that’s still a 21% success rate, I’m ecstatic. That’s a 1 in 5 ratio of victory, which means I’m doing SOMETHING right after all these years! Here’s hoping that next year will see NOBILIS: Seedling released (Also from Thurston Howl Publication) GENMOS Book 2 completed, signed and released. I’m hoping to finish rewriting one, if not two of my other works, and I’m still working the short story market.

I’m not giving up, not now, and I’m glad I never truly did.

 

For all those doubting themselves, doubting their use of words, doubting their scribbles and notes and plots, don’t. I’m proof that perseverance can pay off. I’m proof that hard work, good, strong effort, a willingness to listen and improve, CAN make your dreams come true.

Thank you for sharing my first year’s journey with me. I hope to have many more, and I would love it if you were to join me and follow alongside.

Thank you.

How Does Your Garden Grow, August 5, 2017

I see writing, being an author, as not unlike being a gardener. A manuscript is something that is fluid and organic. It starts with an idea, a germination, becomes a scribble, a seedling, something taking root.

From there it sprouts and grows, branching and expanding wildly until the first draft is complete. It is a feral plant, crazy and twisted. Then along come the edits. Each revision is an act of pruning, of taming, of carving. A cover is chosen, a placard giving name to the creation. A synopsis, a summary, become the instructions of care. A genre becomes a genome.

And the reader? They are the consumers, they digest the fruits of your labors.

Maybe, just maybe, from there, another idea sprouts or encourages a pruning and shaping elsewhere. Encourages the beginning of someone else’s topiary.

A short becomes a Bonsai project. A novella, a well kempt shrub, a novel, a majestic tree, towering and imposing. Flash fiction, ornamental mulch and pebbles.

I encourage you to take root with your ideas and begin farming your words. I encourage you to reap your harvests and share what you sow. There are so many of us starving for intellect. Do not hesitate to show us your creations.

I, for one, want to see how your garden grows.

Log Lines: Saying So Much, With So Little. July 20, 2017

 

I can honestly admit that I was ignorant for so long on the importance of a logline. I’ve KNOWN about them ever since high school, where my Drama teachers read log lines of various movies to us, but I forgot how important they can be to the creative process.

 

I used one on my successful pitch for Genmos, and have written another for each story I have penned or submitted in the last year. I use them in plotting, not just for the overall story, but for EACH act of a short, or EVERY chapter of a novel.

They are vital to me, a simple examination, but each log line I write has helped me to better my writing, helped me streamline, and in some cases, eliminate.

What is a logline?

It is a one-to-two sentence summary of a work that provides both a brief summary of a story. Think of the blurbs you see on Netflix, which you’re trying to find a program to chill to. Those are most often log lines. The singular comments in an old TV guide would be a perfect example too.

 

Now while there are several ways to write a logline, I use the “Who-Does-What-Against-Who” method or the “When” method.

Both are pretty much the same thing.

Tell WHO the story is about, without naming the protagonist. Give some quirks, some history, something to make them different from just, a dude.

Tell who or what their PRIMARY ANTAGONIST OR THREAT is.

Tell what their CONFLICT / PLOT is.

How about an example.

A former thief leads an eccentric band including a blind monk and an enemy robot, on a mission to steal plans for a powerful imperial space station.

Right away we see WHO: A former Thief, an eccentric band including a blind monk and an enemy robot

We see the antagonist: Imperials

We find out the plot: Steal plans for a powerful {} space station

Guess the movie?

Star Wars, Rogue One.

 

Okay, let’s play again.

This time I will enter a bland log line, then spice it up.

Cop hates dude, they fight.

SNOOZE

Now, without telling names, let’s add characteristics.

When he’s targeted by a small-town sheriff, a former Green Beret and Vietnam vet reaches his breaking point and launches a guerilla response.

Protagonist: former Green Beret and Vietnam

Antagonist: small-town sheriff

Conflict: launches a guerilla response.

Guess the movie? RAMBO: First Blood!

 

I Can NOT STRESS how important log lines have become. I encourage you to go ahead and try a few. Use your imagination. If you can create an epic logline, you can create an epic story.

If nothing else, it will help you focus on your overall goal.

Don’t Knock Yourself Out While Writing Combat, June 26, 2017

One thing I’ve enjoyed about the internet and social networking is that it allows writers to interact with each other and spread ideas. While normally mute, and one who likes to observe as people help each other out, I have spoken up recently whenever a request for help writing combat scenes comes up, seeing as I have some combat training.

Every time I pitch in with my ten cents, the answer is always the same: Give a motion, an environment, and a conclusion.

A fight is a flurry of motion, a movement of arms and legs, projectiles and fists. A fight is a surge ahead and a falling back, an ebbing and a rising. What better way to describe a battle of brawn and might, than transform it into something that seems almost organic?

The environment sets the stage, gives tension or humor, enhances the reader’s internal viewing of events.

A conclusion wraps everything up nicely. It can be a tie, a defeat, a rout or a total victory, but let the reader know how it finishes.

Are you still nervous? Don’t be. Tolkein made some of his most epic battles last only sentences. As a writer, you don’t have to describe every blow and wound in gory glory, you just have to convey the terror, the chaos, the techniques, and give the reader a sense of the scale.

For example, let’s look at a fist fight between two burly guys in a bar. They are both heavy set, drunk, and their hits are wide, made difficult by impairment.

Short form: They swung at each other like clumsy apes. Each punch was wide and long, powerful but uncoordinated. When one blow landed, the sounds of impact echoed about the bar, shocking those who stayed to watch until one of the contestants succumbed to his wounds and slipped to the floor, unconscious.

Boom. Done. Nothing fancy, but hopefully well described. The reader can get an image of the two fighters, and a sense of the force of the impacts. Let’s break it down.

They swung at each other like clumsy apes. Each punch was wide and long, powerful but uncoordinated. (They have strength, but have trouble aiming. There’s your motion.)

When one blow landed, the sounds of impact echoed about the bar, shocking those who stayed to watch (There’s your environment)

until one of the contestants succumbed to his wounds and slipped to the floor, unconscious. (And a conclusion.)

Now, let’s take a lithe warrior, a fast striker, who hides in the shadows.

Short form: He leapt from his concealment, becoming visible only long enough to strike before fading into the shadows. His aim was true, his blow, lethal, and his victim’s life was extinguished in passing.

Again a motion, and environment, and a conclusion. Hmm, see a pattern there?

What about a fight, where we need to focus on one character who is a strong fighter, but their side still loses the battle?

Simple.

How does that character move? What is going on around them? Conclusion.

She swept through the enemy ranks, her blade grew slick with the blood of her foes, but despite her best efforts, the enemy’s superior numbers overwhelmed her allies, forcing her and the remaining survivors to retreat.

Sounds pretty epic, doesn’t it?

You want dialogue? Let’s enhance the last battle.

She swept through the enemy ranks, her blade grew slick with the blood of her foes. She felt like she was winning, but the sounds of the bugles from the rear announced differently.

“Retreat!” came the massed call, which only caused the enemy to surge forward again, and it was too much, even for her, the mighty dancer, to handle.

“Fall back!” She screamed, yet even then, fought to prevent a rout. It was futile, as the ranks broke. Desperate to save her own life, she turned and ran for the safety of the hills.

So there you go, combat can be simple. Just convey the motions, the environment, and give the readers a conclusion. If you want to get more into it, than by all means, do so, but it doesn’t have to be a two-chapter long war either.

 

June 17, 2017, BACK on a track (of something)

So there’s been a delay in the blog. That can happen from time to time, especially whenI’m busy with editing and writing.

The result:

Nobilis: Seedling JUST FINISHED its alpha editing!

YAY!

Thanks to THP and crew (Including editor Hypetaph) Seedling now reads even smoother and is a piece to rival any matinee sci-fi that’s out there.

 

It’s also less Rapey. Which is something I never thought I would write. Yes, there was one change, an attempted F on M rape, a role reversal. I wrote it about fifteen years ago, and at the time I thought it was funny.

Looking back on it, no.

So I’m happy with the changes.

 

Over the next few weeks, I’m going to be posting some advice from what I’ve learned over the last year, my first year as an actual, professional author.

I hope it helps someone, anyone, in the future.

Why Anthro? April 17, 2017

Since GENMOS: Gathering Storms was officially published on the last day of March, I’ve been busy running campaigns on Twitter, Facebook, and via the libraries, and while I’ve received good levels of interest, I’ve also often received looks of confusion when the words “Furry” or “Anthro” pop up in conversation.

For those not in the know, Anthropomorphism is defined as “The showing or treating of animals, gods, and objects as if they are human in appearance, character, or behavior:” (1.)

“Furs” or “Furry” is the subgenre of Anthro that directly relates to animals. Now, before you go off in a tiffy fit, take a deep breath, compose yourself, and then ask, “Am I a furry, or a fan of anthropomorphism in general?”

The answer is, most likely if you are reading this, YES.

Modern media has long adapted you to be at least partly familiar with the anthro world. Have you ever enjoyed a Disney flick where animals act with human characteristics, laughed at Bugs Bunny or Porky Pig, cheered when the Ewoks helped the rebellion during the battle of Endor, enjoyed the antics of Thomas the Tank Engine, or encouraged the Ents to defeat the evil Orcs, or utilized plants to destroy hordes of undead? Than congratulations, and welcome to the Anthro Genre.

So why did I chose to write my first novel as an Anthro(Furry) adventure? Several reasons. As I have already implied, I have been massively influenced by the anthro genre my entire life, and as such, was reading a glut of furry webcomics when the idea for the Genmos formed in my mind. Also, by casting my characters as not-quite human, I’ve been able to demonstrate all of their human traits and quirks in a much clearer light. All of their flaws positive qualities, desires and emotions are made that much more tangible thanks to their distance from the ‘norm.’

Now I leave you with a challenge: Grab a paper and a writing implement, and for one day, just one, write down everything you see that is “Anthro.” You may be
surprised by just how prevalent the influence of the genre is, without ever realizing it.

 

“Anthropomorphism” Cambridge Dictionary. http://dictionary.cambridge.org/dictionary/english/anthropomorphism (April 17, 2017)

Thomas the Tank Engine http://www.thomasandfriends.com/en-ca/ )

The minimum Word Count. . .March 18, 2017

When I talk in public, I am long-winded, take forever to get to the point, and sometimes my ramblings never even make sense.

When I write, I attempt to be smooth, quick, and efficient.

That’s why one of my biggest pet peeves, is the minimum word count.

I know why it exists, especially for commercial reasons. People don’t want to invest in your story if it’s too short to build character and relations, they also want enough words to make it worth their while to post your works.

That being said, I have come to dread the minimum limit. Over the years I have crafted a multitude of stories, some of them no longer than 1,000 words in length. I eagerly peruse the writer’s classifieds as I search for a place that they may call home.

Often, though, I am stopped by such limitations.

My style of writing has become this.

Plot and plan.
Overwrite( often to the maximum word count and beyond)
Slice and dice( trim the fat off that M%$#r F%$#r until it’s so skinny, Jack Sprat would be envious.)
Proof.
Submit.

Yet, some stories that I create, refuse to even achieve the minimum once my overwrite is done, forcing me to do the opposite.

Plot and plan.
Underwrite
Add Bulls$#@ until it’s long enough.
Slice and Dice
Add more bull
Slice and dic-
F$#@1 it. Submit.

That’s why I adore when I see a story requesting a maximum only. It’s such a relief.

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Six Impossible Things Reviewed, March 8th, 2017

 

 

 

While taking a break from creating worlds, I decided to peruse others’ creations. Being frugal by both nature and necessity (Insert your own comment about the provincial government here) I was delighted to find an e-book by acclaimed author Renee Carter Hall, a fellow FWG member.

First things first, this is a FREE EBook, available on Smashwords for download.

Do I recommend it? If you are looking for a collection of short stories and flash fiction that can act as literary Prozac, then $#@! Yes, I recommend this collection. Not only is it well written, the characters feel alive, are relatable, and each story is just long enough to give you an impact in the feels, or just enough of a break to help relax you emotionally before the next big hit. Each story can be quickly read through, and some are just a single page, quick enough to skim over while sitting on the can. (Hey! Don’t judge. At least I don’t do Sudoku there) Best of all, the stories are clean. There is no gore for shock value, and the little nudity is natural, not thrown in for simple titillation.
I would feel more than safe handing this collection to a middle-grade class

Is there any flaw with the overall collection? I had a small bone to nitpick on, but it’s so slight who really cares? There is an occasional word repeated so close together, either in the same sentence or next, where a glance at a thesaurus could have easily one without losing meaning, for example, “The white one was so white that it almost glowed.”, but it happens so infrequently I’m certain it is just me being a stick-in-the-mud.

So, now I’m going to dive in a little further. For starters, the cover. It is simple, easy, looks inexpensive, but it’s a joke on its own. The single, tiny piece of artwork fits the mood, and considering the price you’re paying for it, it’s more than we deserve.

The first story revolves around a father, who’s nervous and anxious for reasons anyone who has ever had a child would be. I instantly connected with the character, and I felt his pain. It brought back memories to me of waiting when you want to see your child, know they are alright, needing to protect them, but know that you have to put their lives, and your faith, in someone else, and just wait.

I almost put the book down right there, not because of the story, but because I felt the anxiety. Relief comes in something beautiful, a childhood friend in a long forgotten comfort, and just like the main character, I became more relaxed, able to continue, able to enjoy and remember, forever briefly, visits to Narnia or Eamon with my siblings, escapes to my own worlds, losing myself in childhood fantasies, that as an adult, I wish I could escape to.

For the second story, Renee switches genders, bringing a lonely lady to the forefront. I worried briefly when I read that she wrote poetry, and thought that the author may just be pretentious enough to toss in a main character who is an author. I LOATHE when story-tellers do that. It feels like a selfie, a form of personal gratification. That, thankfully, was not the case.

A simply cast spell to call for love has unexpected results. This one is fun, charming, and in the end, predictable, but that’s part of the goodness of this short. It made me smile, gave me what I expected, and left me satisfied.

The next short is a flash fiction, a single page long, and a break from happiness. It’s exactly where it needs to be. A woman at a banal job as a Walmart greeter unwittingly allows the four horsemen of the apocalypse into the store, and that’s it. She takes note of them from time to time, and I wondered what was going to happen. The end leaves you wondering if it was a final fling before the destruction of humanity or just a day in their lives. It’s quick, easy, and exactly long enough to break for the next, which helped to make Swear Not by the Moon all the more poignant.

Swear Not By The Moon. My favorite in this collection. A son cares for his ailing father, who was once the strongest and proudest of his kind. You can tell there is love between them, and its sorrowful look at aging was only part of what kept me going.

This is an example of what a short story should be. It’s small enough to read through, to get the characters, to have a beginning and an end that both touch your heart in different ways, but the WORLD, the lore, could be expanded into a full novel, adventures could be had, such a universe is created, and yet, you realize, that’s it, there doesn’t need to be a single word more written. You understand it all, but you WANT more all the same.

Drawn from memory might seem peculiar to some. It’s not unlike Who Framed Roger Rabbit. The world itself is easy to understand, and the story is bittersweet, but triumphant. If I had to choose a blemish though, it would be in the romance that develops. I always find it odd when a father or mentor figure becomes an intimate partner. It always strikes me as a marrying your uncle scenario, but the story is good, and considering that its lead narrator is a fangirl and I’m a guy, I could be missing something. Strangely enough, I didn’t laugh where I thought I should, instead, I found the moments all touched by grief and tenderness. It would be a good story to read when coping with the loss of something precious.

Lastly, Renee concludes her collection with another Flash. It is brief, and the story is simple. A young girl begins a task, continues it when it seems fruitless, stubbornly obsessed with her actions, but the ending makes it all worth it. You too, feel both relief, understanding, and satisfaction at the conclusion.

In short, this anthology is going straight onto my digital bookshelf. I’m keeping a PDF on my hard drive from now on, and I encourage you to check it out too. It’s a good book, short, simple, sweet, and just what might be needed to lift your spirits or remind you that magical moments do exist.

Adapting to Social Media, March 5, 2017

Apologies off the top for my month-long absence, but it has not been without purpose. Once more I have been attempting to: increase my presence on social media, sought reviews for Gathering Storms Advanced Review Copy, adapted Nobilis: Seedling for a submission, polished off a short story I have had on my backburner for over a year, continued to adapt Children of Twilight, while still working my day job and caring for my family.

And I wouldn’t have it any other way. It’s an adventure that I hope will continue.

If you’ve noticed, my homepage now has all my social media links, which I am attempting to update over the next week so that it will be easier to find me across all the separate platforms.

It’s also my goal to increase the Gathering Storms around Canada page, so I’m going to get started on that before my youngest wakes and tears me away from my screen once again.

The Poor Girl in the Bread Aisle, February 12, 2017

My yell of victory was hard won and unrestrained.

I had just received word that my short, “A Choice in Exile.” Had been accepted by Scary Dairy Press for use in their “Mother’s Revenge” anthology.

This made me a multi-genre author!

To say I am excited would be a horrible understatement.

To compound to my overjoyed mood, I just received the recent cover PDF of Gathering Storms. Although it is missing one more critique, it is a work of art. Hats off to the artists and design team, and as soon as the last critique is added, I am not only posting it here, but I will begin a flurry of submissions to libraries and school boards across Canada.

Now excuse me, I’m going to say a brief prayer of thanks, shovel the driveway, and try and stop my hands from shaking.