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.

What is a Canadian Author? January 28, 2016.

 

There was a question, on one of the forums that I currently belong to. It asked, what defines a Canadian novel.  I thought about it, after my initial idea, which was depression, I realized that is not true. Yes, books like Stone Angel are certainly sad, but it was also realistic, and in it, the main character does make realizations that are, in a way, hopeful. Farley Mowat’s works are humorous, but also touching.

So what defines a Canadian novel then?

Is it our landscape?

Is it our cultures?

Is it the weather?

Is it clumped cities or expansive wilderness?

 

This was my answer.

 

The Canadian book is defined by the author.

We are both hopeful, and yet cynical. We are beaten by the weather, but proud of our ability to withstand it.
We are capable of war, and yet we long, and are relied upon, for peace.
We are divided amongst ourselves, but take us away from our land, and we stand shoulder to shoulder, even if we don’t speak the same language.
We desire to fit into a niche, but yet, we find individuality.
We are bonded by our nation, but seek our individual histories as well.
We love our cities, but seek the serenity of our vast lands.
Canadian writing is both the isolation of a Yukon winter, and the hubbub of a megacity.
Canadian writing is both proud, and self-depreciating. (I’m looking at you, Maritimes.)
We are small towns, farmers, loggers, and we are politicians, and salesmen.
We are able to describe a paddle as it breaks a still and reflective water, and we are able to embrace a crowd, a gathering, whose voices split the night.
We can come together and offer the shirts off of our backs, yet we can feud with our neighbors over the colors of our doors.
We are proud of our nation’s past, but embarrassed by our follies all the same.

All of that can be found in their works. Canadian writing is diverse as its people.

Our works reflect us, who we are. Our works can be defined in one word: Humanity.

That is the defining characteristic of Canadian writing

It Takes a Village. . . January 22nd, 2017

What started over 15 years ago as a jumble of thoughts put into some semblance of order, is finally seeing the moment of true birth into the world. I am both excited and apprehensive.

What if all of my hard work, my writing and my editing, my submissions, and my reinventions, turn out to be met with ill reviews and no recognition, or worse, infamy? What if all of my hours are for naught, or ruin my chance of ever being published again?

I have a case of cold fingers, if you will.

There’s also an old adage, “It takes a village to raise a child.” Writers often consider their own books as children, and I guess I am no different. If I think of how long it’s taken me to get Genmos published, and if it was flesh and blood instead of ink and paper, it would be considering college choices right now. It has certainly seen a town’s worth of help to get to where it is now, too.

Here’s a timeline of how Genmos has gone so far,

2002-2003 Initial novel written, 110,000 words.

Submitted to Westwood agency, 2005

Rejected, 2006.

Edited for a more Canadian appeal. Jim Black of Chestnut publishing accepts it, October 2011. 2012, Jim Black leaves Chestnut, and my story is lost in the shuffle. In August, after conversations with Chestnut, Genmos is dropped from the lineup.

2015, I begin ‘murdering my children.’ I trim the fat, get rid of chapters that are useless, and take the story down to 59,000 words.

2016 Submit to Thurston Howl Publications. After reviews, River critic suggests further alterations. We exchange ideas and advice back and forth, more deletions, and I add the beginning of Shadows, the second Genmos book, to bring the word count to about the same, but have added more content, deleted scenes deemed useless, and generally changed the story so it flows better.

September, Genmos is fully accepted by THP.

Charles begins editing of the revamped story. We back and forth, correcting grammar, until we are 58,000 words long.

Cover art is completed, and although Kobalt does not resemble his character physically, the artist has decided to focus on his mental and scientific aspect.

Finally, it goes to review.

Let’s hope it’s all worth it.

Professional AND Published! January 15th, 2017

Wow, what a week.

It all started once I was done my last blog post. That evening, Howl from THP sent me a telegraph to inform me that Seven Deadly Sins: Furry Confessions was available on Amazon. The anthology contained my story, A Voice Not Spoken, making me a published author. The cover art looked awesome, and awestruck, I posted the news to facebook before bed.

Was the outpouring of support ever amazing! Thank you everyone, for your kind words and encouragement.

It did not stop there.

Monday I received my first royalty check, for Tooth, Claw and Fang. That made me a professional and a published author.

I spent my free time on Tuesday reorganizing my website, attempting to make it easier to read.

Then on Wednesday, I found out that Dogs of War, which hosts Tooth, Claw and Fang, was available for pre-order. Double Published! I hurriedly added all the information I could to make my works easier to find.

On Thursday I took some of my bookmarks, the same ones listed in the freebies section, to be printed at the local staples. As usual, exceptional service and care.

Friday and Saturday were spent building Goodreads and Amazon accounts.

After a maelstrom of a week, I’m finally able to get back to actually writing, which is good, because I want to post another free short involving Genmos before the end of the month.

Whew!

Okay, (crack’s fingers) Let’s get writing.

Fur and Zombies, January 8th, 2017

Is writing a hobby, catharsis, or obsession?

The answer? Catharsis.

My mind is always busy, and I have a very, very active imagination. I also have a hard time expressing my personal feelings. I talk often, but my topics are always anything but personal. I love to speak about work, or technical details, or about others, but I cannot, for the life of me, tell anyone just how I am feeling.

That is why I turned to writing. In the words that I inscribe, I can cast my emotions, desires, dreads, on any of my characters. I can use it to purge my deepest thoughts and darkest desires.

That’s probably why furry lit is so easy for me to write for; I can cast on a character that is recognizable as having human characteristics, but is still alien enough to be outside of the norm, and moldable.

I think that Furry and horror are not that different. Zombies are loved because they show humanity as the real monsters, anthros may be animal, but they reflect society in themselves as well.

Farewell 2016

While 2016 may have been a year fraught with celebrity deaths, civil unrest, oddball politics, and other countless issues, it has also been my most successful literary year.

Not since 2005 have I had even a glimmer of hope that one of my novels would find a place in the printed world, but since September, I have had one novel chosen, and two short stories signed into anthologies. I have been welcomed into the furry writers’ guild, and have found several friends and people who have been willing to offer advice and/or critiques.

Granted, I have also had many rejections, but I consider it part of the learning process.

Regardless, what I want to do it take a moment to thank a few special people.

My Wife, who has tolerated my oft-distracted mind.

Scott, who still edits some of my greater errors.

Kyle, whose encouragement convinced me not to surrender my originals to the shredder.

Rivercritic, for helping me adjust Genmos into a book, not just a story.

Thurston Howl, who has taken a chance, and signed Genmos to his company, as well as accepting my short, a voice not spoken, for his seven deadly sins anthology. He has endured many emails from me, and still answers my telegrams without hesitation.

Fred Patten, the well-known grey-muzzle, who has shown nothing short of miraculous understanding and guidance for my works, offering advice, edits, and redirecting stories to other anthologies when possible.

Dorothy Davies, who has rejected my submissions with honest and constructive criticism, and whose handbook on writing is a pleasure to read, as well as being incredibly useful.

To all those who I have forgot to mention.

Thank you all so very much.

Farewell 2016. We part with such mixed feelings.

Onward, 2017.

Recreating your Children, December 18th, 2016

So I’ve decided to revisit some of my works that need editing, but thanks to the experience that I’ve earned from the past year, I will be approaching the stories differently.

Each chapter will now be considered a short story to me. It must have an intriguing logline form from it, and its summary must demonstrate that there is a conflict of some form taking place within.

The entire story must fit into a logline and small summary, and any sub-plots that are not key to the central arc must be evaluated.

Each character must either cause growth for the story or a character, or must grow themselves.

Ensure that the ending wraps up the main point of the story.

Delete all the commas, and then properly edit.

The first of my works to be receiving this treatment shall be Children of Twilight. Why? Because the original is a long, draw-out (120,000 word+ ) confusion made to bring the reader from one horror to the next. There are plot holes so large that the Mariana trench is jealous.

I’ve been wanting to clean it up for years, but only now do I feel I have the experience required.

I’ve already done my summary and logline, and 19 pages later, I’ve shaved the chapter count by almost half and considering how much I reduced Genmos by, (almost 48% reduction), I’m pretty confident that I can get COT between 60 to 100k words.

Now, the only question I have is, will it be something I will want to admit I wrote?

Rejections are not the end, December 17th, 2016

Rejection, it can either encourage you, ruin you, make you calloused, make you enraged, turn you off writing forever, or make you want to show that your piece is better than the last reviewer ever thought possible.

In my writing career, I had not one success until I listened to my long suffering wife’s advice. When Genmos finally succeeded I discovered a niche for my writing, but even in the furry market I’ve still had half of my submissions rejected.

That being said, there’s always been a polite reason for the refusal, and it’s normally because I submit two works per contest, but it’s also because I find it hard to fit, or figure out, exactly what the editors desire for their collections.

My most favorite rejections are ones that read something like:

We loved the work, but this was missing, here’s an upcoming anthology of a similar vein, good luck.

Those are few and far between, but they feel almost as good as an acceptance letter because the editor just admitted to liking your work AND offered constructive criticism.

The worst rejection letters are the ones that never come, and they not only leave you in suspense, but make you wonder if they ever received your story, or disliked it so much they don’t say anything to you at all so they won’t lambast you.

How do I handle rejection letters? That depends upon how it’s written, but at the end of the year, I raise a glass in salute to them and tell myself:

These are important. They tell you that you’re not perfect. Clean them up. Learn. Read successful stories and adapt, and only then will you grow. A rejection is a tool to improvement.

Then I smile and begin again.

November 29th, 2016

I’ve been silent for a few weeks, but that is not to say that I haven’t been active. For the last month, I have been involved in a job that is located two hours from my house, so most of my spare time has vanished as I commute.

This did not stop me from writing.

Over the last month I submitted several short stories and have been pleased to announce that one of them was selected.

Several others though, were rejected.

One story of mine, that I’m particularly proud of, has met its most recent rejection as a publisher folded under financial distress. Although I know such things do happen in the industry, it saddens me to hear the news and not just because now I must search for another publisher for said tale.

Another batch of rejections came with something more vital, a critique.

While harsh and unyielding, and certainly wounding to my pride, I found the rejections helpful. Not only were the words necessary in letting me understand what that particular editor requires, I found her advice invigorating. The bit I liked the most? Forget the word count.

What a relief to hear. I often feel trapped in making a minimum. Some stories, while long in my head, come out as little more than a handful of paragraphs when completed, forcing me to either slow the pacing, or voice the characters more against each other, which does not always fit the way the story is told.

I was also sent a handbook that is well written and entertaining, while still guiding and educational.

Between focusing on the few stories I have selected for myself for December, I am going to challenge myself to get at least ONE story printed by that particular editor.

Bon Chance.

November 5th, 2016

Well, October has come and gone.

I believe that I was productive. I made a total of six submissions over the month with a total word count, after editing, of 22,000 words.

Not bad, but the real evaluation of how productive October really was, will be if any of my submissions are published. In September I made 2 submissions, and had 1 success, 1 rejection.

50% success ratio.

While I don’t expect that high a success ratio for October, ( My enthusiasm and expectations have been withered by years of rejection letters ) I do hope for a 15% success at least.

My real hope however, is for 2 of my horror shorts to achieve publication, at which point I plan to apply for HWA membership.

I’ve also been inspecting my expenses. So far, I am at a net loss, which is expected. Royalty checks don’t come until a story is published, and short stories only pay out once the publication has actually been completed. I have a fiscal goal to meet.

That my writing breaks even of expenses.

I’ve taken a week off to relax. Hopefully, my mind will be refreshed enough to create new worlds and new adventures.

Well, enough dilly-dally, back to the drawing board.