Anthrocon 2019 & The Desert’s Edge

It’s Anthrocon time again, and I’m here. I’m doing panels this year, but it’s not the panels I’m most excited about. The prequel story for the novel I’ve been working on is going to be in Fang 9, which is coming out at the con. I’m super excited that “Silk and Sword” is being published, since it’s the origin story for one of my novels’ two protagonists. It’s not written to be essential reading, but it’s the first piece of the journey. The Khalin universe is a creation I’ve been working on for nine years. It’s good to finally start getting it out there so people can read about it.

Now if you want to see me at panels, I’m doing a couple this year at the con. You can find me talking with other writers at:

Friday July 5th

  • 6:00 PM — Writing Foundations: Advanced
  • 10:00 PM — After Dark: General Adult Writing

Saturday, July 6th

  • 10:00 PM — After Dark: Dark and Difficult Topics

Sunday, July 7th

  • 11:00 AM — Magic, Myths, and Monsters: Writing Fantasy

See you at Anthrocon!

The Value of Writing Advice

This originally appeared on my Patreon, but I thought I should share it everywhere.

For the last couple of years, I’ve been doing writing panels at furry cons. I go to multiple cons a year, and I volunteer sit on at least one panel at the con, and sometimes I do multiple panels for that con’s writing track. Each con handles panels differently. Some writing tracks are curated by a track lead while some cons just take requests and schedule panels based on who requested what. That means I’ve sat on panels by myself and with other writers. I’ve also attended various writing panels over the years. On top of this, I read occasionally read articles on various writing topics, and I’ve read a few books on writing over the years. I’m still looking to push myself, so there will be more books, more articles and more panels to attend as I continue to push myself to be a better writer.

Writing advice, like many things, suffers from survivor’s bias. I by no means think of myself as an expert at this, but I’ve been working at this long enough, I’m well past the novice stage. How far past that is an unknown quantity. One thing I’ve taken to heart that what works for me, may not work for you. If there is a single piece of advice I could impart to any writer, it is this.

Over the years I’ve encountered some advice that is handed down like biblical laws. This advice is so good that you, the writer, should take it as law: You should write what you know. You shouldn’t use adverbs in your writing. You shouldn’t end your sentences with prepositions. You shouldn’t include too much description in your stories. You shouldn’t write in first person present. You should have a single point of view character. You should try and get an agent. You should write in Word. You should write in Scrivener. You should write 1,000 words per day.

The list goes on, and these “laws” of course vary by writer it seems. Each of the ones I’ve listed I could discuss in depth and show examples that support and don’t support them. As a writer, I absolutely have my own personal set of laws I follow and don’t like to violate, but I like to be flexible about this. My processes have changed, and I see no need to limit myself to a strict formula. Also, it’s not only myself I speak of here. Just because I don’t want to do something or work a certain way doesn’t mean others might not want to. Some of the stuff I’ve seen that goes against my own impulses is actually very good. It may not be what I would write or done the way I would do it, but putting aside my biases, I can really dig it. My process works for me. My process, I hope, produces good work. My process may not work for you, and that’s fine. You are not me. You shouldn’t try and be me either. Instead you should be you, whatever that is. Whether you’re an outliner or pantser, go with what for you. Write the stuff that interests you, not the stuff you see out there.

And for those “laws” you’ll encounter people talking about? Well if it works for you, that’s great. If it doesn’t work for you, don’t do it. Some advice you have to sit and think about before you might understand what it’s getting it, but few of the oddball things people hold up as law are truly laws. You can use adverbs. Using them sparingly is often better, but your writing doesn’t automatically cease to be good because you used an adverb. There are some great books in first person present. How much description to include is hard to judge and it might vary by the story you’re seeking to tell. Remember, you’ll find your own voice given time, but don’t be discouraged if you encounter advice that doesn’t work for you.

Patreon and FWA 2019 Bound

Change is afoot. To grow and improve, we must challenge ourselves. As part of this mindset, I’ve done something I debated with myself for a long time about, I’ve created a Patreon. I’ve got some ideas I’d like to explore and see where they go. I think the Patreon will be a useful vehicle for that content. Hopefully it will develop into a good value for the money for those who choose to pledge. I’m looking forward to seeing what I can do with this, and I already have my first sponsor.

In the meantime, before I can start working on some of the ideas I have for it, I’ve got a con to attend this weekend, FWA. I’m only doing two panels this con, both on Friday, May 10th. It’s nice to be scaling back from doing so many panels for a change. The first is Worldbuilding at 6:00 PM with Dwale followed by the After Dark writing panel at 10:30 PM with Rob Baird and Thurston Howl. All three of these gentlemen are talented writers and I look forward to paneling with them. The rest of the con I’ll be relaxing and enjoying FWA.

Anyway, that’s it for now, and I’ll be back with an update on the Patreon once I get some content up there.

Back in Texas for Furry Fiesta 2019

Furry Fiesta is this weekend, and I am back again this year. I’ve been really looking forward to it since I need a break from day to day monotony. TFF was a lot of fun when I got to attend last year, so I’m hoping this year is more of the same.
I’ll be doing three writing panels at the con this year. My panels are

Friday, March 29th

  • 2:30 PM — Fantasy Writing 101
  • 9:00 PM — AD: Adult Writing 101

Saturday, March 30th

  • 3:00 PM — Character & World Building

Most of the rest of the con I’m going to spend relaxing.

The Long Road to Here

If you’ve seen my doing panels at cons or followed me closely enough on Twitter, you might have heard me mention that I am working on a novel. The setting for this book is something I started developing back in 2010 with the first words that went into the novel being written in 2011. Originally, this was meant to be a side project to a different project so I could better understand the world. I had already written one story in the setting, based on characters for a book I intended to write, but I wrote a second story with new characters as a way to get a better understanding of how the setting worked. Instead, this story has turned into both the largest project I have completed to date and the most delayed project I have undertaken.

The original draft for the book, Scars of the Golden Dancer, was completed back in 2015. At the time, I felt I was closing in on being done with the book, but when I got into first round edits, I got a bit lost. There were gaps in the thinking of the characters and flaws in the way the plot worked. My critical mistake I feel with this project is I never had an outline for it. Part of that is because this started as a short story, and I originally completed it as a short story, and I submitted it for publication, where it was thankfully rejected. Even before I got the rejection, I knew there was more to the story, so it became two short stories, that I then decided would work as a novella of 40,000 words. During the course of writing this, it grew into a novel length work. The entire back half of the book was written during a 30-day challenge where I wrote 30,000 words.

This haphazard first draft of course left a lot of work to be done during the editing as I’ve had to smooth things out. I have grossly underestimated at points how far along I am to being done. Things have also seriously changed from the draft I completed in 2015. What was eighteen chapters became sixteen chapters. The first complete draft was about 68,000 words. Currently the project is 88,000 words, after gaining 20,000 words during the editing process. The finished product might break 90,000.

This isn’t the only thing I’ve done in that time period either. The anthology I did with Slip-Wolf, Dissident Signals, was announced, edited, and published while I have been working on this book. I attended RAWR. I have written two dozen short stories while this project has sat and languished, ignored for months, sometimes even a year at a time. I have even written two additional stories in the setting. Having put it off for so long, you would think I did not plan to complete it, but I’m committed to seeing this done and published. It is time to finally finish this, and to this end I am dedicating the next four months to finally completing it. I will be undertaking no new projects until this is done, although I do have some editing to do for stories that will be coming out this year.

I do finally feel though that what is left to do is also an increasingly smaller amount of work. Major structural edits were completed last fall. While additional structural work may and likely will be required by an editor, I feel things now are close to where they will be for the final book. I’m at least now comfortable with what I have on the page. A friend has been beta reading the chapters as I have finished edits on them, and currently I am looking to pass them chapter ten in the next few days.

I’ve also turned my attention to book two. While I haven’t started on that yet, there does exist an exploratory scene I’ve written down that could become a critical moment in the book. I will not be repeating the pantsing process I undertook for Scars of the Golden Dancer. This time there will be a full outline before I begin writing large chunks of the book. I’m not sure on the plot of the second book yet, but I have left questions and connect points to build upon in the first. I know who the major characters are, but I don’t know yet what their end goals are.

I’m not sure who yet I can get to publish this, but I’m optimistic that Scars of the Golden Dancer will see the light of day as a printed book sometime in 2020. First though I have more work to do before I can make that a reality.