FWG Member Spotlight: Madison Keller

Tell us about yourself and a recent published project of yours.

I have been writing since 2012 and published my first novel near the end of 2014. My newest project is The Dragon Tax Book One, which came out in June 2016. This originally was published in 2015 as a short story in the anthology A Menagerie of Heroes, which went out of print just a few months later.

I’d had so much fun with the characters I’d already written several more stories of their continuing adventures. I’d planned on perhaps doing a series of linked short stories, but with the very first one out of print and hard to find, I scrapped that idea. However, I’d had to cut some scenes to fit in the word count limit and I had the idea to add back in those missing scenes and tighten up the story, making it a novella length work and republishing it as a stand alone first in the series.

The Dragon Tax Book One

Why do you like using “furry” characters in stories?

I enjoying figuring out how furry features and characteristics would change a society’s fundamental values. I also like using it to explore aspects of human behavior that wouldn’t come up in non-furry fiction.

What made you want to become a writer? Are there authors or books that strongly influenced you?

I was a huge bookworm and devoured the entire science fiction/fantasy section of the local library as I was growing up. I wanted to be a writer to tell the stories that filled my own head. However, I let others talk me out of pursing a career in writing and threw away everything I’d been writing in junior high and high school. With the advent of the Kindle I began reading many self-published works and was re-inspired to again put pen to page.

In high school I was inspired by the likes of Piers Anthony, Tracy Hickman, Walter Jon Williams, and Barbara Hambly. Lately I’ve been devouring A.E. Marling’s Enchantress series, Charles Stross’s Laundry files, and Jonathan Howard’s Necromancer series as well as many other books.

Tell us a bit about your writing process. Do you see yourself as a “pantser,” an outliner, or somewhere in between?

I’m an outliner all the way. Before I write a single sentence of my manuscript I’ll outline the plot, define all the major characters, and do high-level worldbuilding. As I write I will expand character profiles, add world-building details, and tweak the outline.

Do you have any advice you’d give other writers?

Don’t let other people discourage you and never stop writing. Read a lot, everything you can find, but especially books in your chosen genre.

What’s a project you’re working on now, or that may be coming out soon?

I’m currently juggling three projects—working on the next books in the Dragon Tax series, finishing up the final planned book in my Flower’s Fang universe, and outlining a new werewolf urban fantasy trilogy set in central Washington state that is as of yet un-named.

Where can people find you and your work?

All of my work can be found on Amazon or on my website, flowersfang.com.

Book of the Month: Sixes Wild: Echoes

August 2016’s Book of the Month is Sixes Wild: Echoes, by Tempe O’Kun.

Sixes Wild: Echoes cover

Life’s not all whiskey and revelry for this bunny gunslinger. In a recent tangle, Six had cause to dynamite a lion crime lord in his silver mine. The kitty had the nerve to survive and vanish with one of the guns tied to her dead father’s spirit. A sensible hare would go to ground, lying low while she tracked down the varmint. And that’s just what she’d do, had she not stumbled into love with the local fruit bat sheriff. Love’s all well and good, but courting a gentleman when you’re no proper lady is a challenge Six never thought she would have to tackle.

All told, Frontier life is enough to trounce anybody. But then, Six Shooter has never been just any bunny.

Echoes is the sequel to Sixes Wild: Manifest Destiny, which won a Cóyotl Award for best novel in 2011. It’s available in print from FurPlanet and Kindle ebook from Amazon. (It should be available as a DRM-free ebook from Bad Dog Books soon.)

Guild news, August 2016

New members

Welcome to our newest members: Kris Carver, Jay “Shirou” Coughlan, TJ Minde, and Mog Moogle! If you’re not a member of the Guild and you’d like more information about joining, read our membership guidelines.

Member news

Sean Rivercritic has started a new publishing imprint, Goal Publications. (Also see Market News, below.)

The novel From Winter’s Ashes, co-written by member Patrick “Bahumat” Rochefort (with Keith Aksland), is available on Amazon as an ebook.

Editor Fred Patten was interviewed on the Furry Times blog.

Madison Keller’s steampunk short “Poppy and the Great Expo,” originally in the 2016 Furlandia program book, is now available as an ebook. In addition, her novella Snow Flower is now available as an audiobook.

Member (and past president) Renee Carter Hall launched a bimonthly newletter.

Kris Schnee’s novel The Digital Coyote has been released in ebook and print form.

Mary E. Lowd sold two stories in July, one to Daily Science Fiction and one to Analog (which she notes is a furry story, “about a dragon/lizard-like alien”).

Daniel Potter published the second volume in his successful Freelance Familiar series, Marking Territory.

New markets

  • Seven Deadly Sins: Furry Confessionals, themed around Dante’s seven deadly sins. Publisher: Thurston Howl Publications. Length: 2,500–8,000 words. Payment: contributor’s copy. Deadline: December 1, 2016. Submission call.
  • Species is a projected anthology series in which each volume presents three sections—folktales and myths, reprints, and original stories. The first volume is Wolves. Publisher: Thurston Howl Publications. Length: 2,500–8,000 words. Rating: PG-13. Payment: contributor’s copy. Deadline: January 1, 2017. Submission call.
  • Heat #14, annual anthology “in which sex or romance play an important role in the overall plot but are not the sole purpose for the story’s existence.” Editors: Dark End and Teagan Gavet. Publisher: Sofawolf Press. Length: 4,000–8,000 words. Payment: 1¢/word. Deadline: September 19, 2016. Submission call.
  • While Goal Publications has wound down their eponymous magazine, they are now looking for “full-length works,” novels and novellas. Submission guidelines.
  • The Symbol of a Nation, anthology themed around “furries that are the national animals of country.” (The guidelines get somewhat complex.) Editor: Fred Patten. Publisher: Goal Publications. Payment: 1¢/word. Deadline: December 1, 2016. Submission call.

For ongoing markets previously covered but still open (and occasionally, open in the future), visit the FWG web site:

Remember to keep an eye on the Calls for Submissions thread on the forum, as well as other posts on the Publishing and Marketing forum.

Odds and ends

Member Malcolm F. Cross appeared in a brief profile on seminal science fiction blog File 770.

The World Fantasy Convention programming this year offers an “animal fantasy” panel which refers to Watership Down and The Book of the Dun Cow as being “in recent years.” We have a lot of work to do, people. (With some pressure, they added Kij Johnson’s The Fox Woman, so they’ve at least hit 1999. Progress! That also nearly doubles the number of women authors their programming refers to.)

The Tuesday Coffeehouse Chats have been successfully transplanted from the FWG forum shoutbox to the now-official FWG Slack. If you have no idea what any of this means, you haven’t visited the forum in a while, have you? Go visit it. There’s cool stuff there.

The FWG Goodreads group needs more love. Go add things to our members’ bookshelf (see the instructions here on how to do that). Start conversations. Put subversive happy faces with cat ears in your reviews of non-furry books. (No, don’t do that.)

The FWG blog also needs more love. If you would like to love it, consider writing a guest post. See our guidelines for the details.

Have a terrific month! Send news, suggestions, feedback, and steampunk bats to furwritersguild@gmail.com, or leave a comment below.

Let’s talk about publishing: contracts

New small presses explicitly targeting the furry market have been springing up over the last few years, while some of our older presses have been producing more titles. Meanwhile, the number of furry authors has grown steadily. Submission calls that might have received only a couple dozen submissions even three years ago receive three or four times that in mid-2016.

As fantastic as this growth is, the furry publishing scene is still tiny. Not only do writers know each other, writers tend to know publishers and vice-versa. For the most part, we’re all friends with one another, and we’re all figuring out this “creating a market” thing as we go. As far as I know, all the editors and publishers in furrydom became editors and publishers by fiat; some of us might have worked at college presses, but I’m not aware of anyone who worked for a major fiction publishing house or periodical, even as a slush reader. A lot of business gets conducted in…let’s call it a relaxed fashion.

As it turns out, “handshake contracts” are surprisingly common in the literary small press world, particularly poetry journals that pay in contributors’ copies rather than money, to the point where there’s a de facto industry standard for it. But when money changes paws, it’s important for both parties to nail down exactly what they expect of one another.

So let’s talk about contracts. What a publishing contract should do is fairly straightforward:

  • Define the rights the author grants the publisher. In most cases, these are first publication rights—the story hasn’t been published anywhere else, including archive sites like Fur Affinity—with limited exclusivity: after an amount of time given in the contract passes, the author can publish the story somewhere else that accepts reprints. A six-month period of exclusivity is typical. (Note that magazines buy serial rights, but books and anthologies buy rights to a geographical region: North American rights, World rights, etc. You’re free to sell the book again to other publishers outside that geographical region; this is why novels often have different publishers in the US and Europe.)
  • Define the amount the publisher is paying for those rights, how they’re paying it (check, Paypal, doubloons, etc.), and when they’re paying it. If you’re being paid by the word, the total amount you’re being paid should be specified here. Some contracts specify payment on acceptance; many specify it on publication. In either case, the contract should give a window (“within 30 days of publication”).
  • Cover appropriate electronic and subsidiary rights. If the contract allows the publisher to archive your work indefinitely on a web site, do you have the right to withdraw it after a certain length of time? If this is a novel, are you granting the publisher rights to produce the ebook? (Some authors, like Kyell Gold, self-publish their ebooks.) What about any other subsidiary rights, like audiobooks?
  • Give the publisher a deadline, so they can’t sit on the work indefinitely (“if the publisher fails to produce Great Furry Stories within one year of the execution date of this contract, rights revert back to the author”).
  • Guarantee approval over content editing changes. The publisher should be able to fix spelling errors without running them by you, but not change your grizzled Vietnam vet protagonist to a twelve-year-old kid.
  • In furry, it’s not unheard of for authors to end up paying for art out of their own pocket and have the publisher repay them. If you do this, get the reimbursement amount of the art in the contract, too, even if it has to be a single-paragraph addendum.

What a publishing contract shouldn’t do is also straightforward: it shouldn’t take any more rights than necessary, and it shouldn’t leave anything significant undefined. If the answer to “when do I get paid” or “when can I sell reprint rights to this story or put it up for my fans on FA” isn’t answered by the contract, there’s a problem. And it shouldn’t ask you to assign exclusive rights in perpetuity. (Carefully consider assigning even non-exclusive rights in perpetuity, especially for a flat rate.)

The SFWA Model Magazine Contract runs 8 pages, but there’s extensive annotation explaining each clause—and a few somewhat unusual clauses. In practice, most publishing contracts, at least for magazines and anthologies, don’t need to run more than a couple pages.

If you’re concerned about a clause in a contract, ask. If you’d like a clause changed, bring it up with your publisher and explain why. Contracts are negotiations, not “take it or leave it” propositions. And if a publisher insists on a clause you’re worried about, bring it up with the Guild. We may not be able to negotiate on your behalf, but we can let other members know about potential issues.

And one more thing. Contracts should be signed before work starts. Before the publisher sends the author any money, before the publisher starts going back and forth with the author on editorial changes, and for the love of Judy Hopps, before the publication goes on sale. If your story is a month away from publication and you haven’t seen a contract, ask the publisher. Better yet, ask when it’s two months away.

I suspect the advice in this column may make some publishers tear their fur out, and I’m sorry. But I’ve been sent contracts when—or even after—books and magazines went on sale. Sometimes I’ve never received a contract. As far as I can tell, my experience isn’t unusual. The more the furry publishing scene grows, the greater chance being lackadaisical has of causing serious problems for publishers, writers, or both.

Because we are all friends with one another, this subject can be hard to talk about. But getting contracts right helps everyone, publishers and writers alike.

I’ll talk about other considerations for publishing in other articles, including marketing, production and editorial. These are good for writers to know—and it’s good for writers if publishers know them, too.

Book of the Month: Gods With Fur

July 2016’s Book of the Month is Gods With Fur, a new anthology edited by Fred Patten and published by FurPlanet.

gwf-cover

Art by Teagan Gavet

From the very beginning, mankind has found the divine in the shape of animals from across the world. Deities such as Ganesha, Coyote, Anubis, and The Monkey King—even Zeus took to the wing from time to time. In ancient Egyptian deserts, misty Central American rainforests, and across wind swept tundra, man has forever told stories of gods with fur, feathers, scales, or tusks.

Gods With Fur features twenty-three new stories of divine animals working their will upon the land. You may recognize gods such as Bastet, while other stories see authors working in their familiar worlds, such as M. R. Anglin’s Silver Foxes books or Kyell Gold’s Forester University books. Others are set in new worlds where the anthropomorphic gods have tales to tell us. We are proud to present this new furry view of divinity.

The majority of contributions in Gods With Fur are from FWG members. The full table of contents:

  • “400 Rabbits,” Alice “Huskyteer” Dryden
  • “Contract Negotiations,” Field T. Mouse
  • “On the Run from Isofell,” M. R. Anglin
  • “To the Reader…,” Alan Loewen
  • “First Chosen,” BanWynn Oakshadow
  • “All Of You Are In Me,” Kyell Gold
  • “Yesterday’s Trickster,” NightEyes DaySpring
  • “The Gods of Necessity,” Jefferson Swycaffer
  • “The Precession of the Equinoxes,” Michael H. Payne
  • “Deity Theory,” James L. Steele
  • “Questor’s Gambit,” Mary E. Lowd
  • “Fenrir’s Saga,” Televassi
  • “The Three Days of the Jackal,” Samuel C. Conway
  • “A Melody in Seduction’s Arsenal,” Slip-Wolf
  • “Adversary’s Fall,” MikasiWolf
  • “As Below, So Above,” Mut
  • “Wings of Faith,” Kris Schnee
  • “The Going Forth of Uadjet,” Frances Pauli
  • “That Exclusive Zodiac Club,” Fred Patten
  • “Three Minutes To Midnight,” Killick
  • “A Day With No Tide,” Watts Martin
  • “Repast (A Story of Aligare),” Heidi C. Vlach
  • “Origins,” Michael D. Winkle

Guild news, July 2016

New members

Welcome to our newest members, Mut and Invisiblewolf! If you’re not a member of the Guild and you’d like more information, read our membership guidelines.

Member news

Several publications with contributions from FWG members are premiering at Anthrocon 2016 over the June 30–July 4 weekend, including Gods With Fur (published by FurPlanet, edited by Fred Patten), FANG 7 (published by FurPlanet), ROAR 7 (published by FurPlanet, edited by Mary Lowd), Altered States (published, again, by FurPlanet, edited by Ajax B. Coriander, Kodiak Malone and Andres Cyanni Halden), and Sofawolf’s Heat #13. In addition, Fragments of Life’s Heart (published by Weasel Press, edited by Laura “Munchkin” Lewis and Stefano “Mando” Zocchi) will be premiering later this month.

Tempe O’Kun’s new novel Sixes Wild: Echoes (published by FurPlanet) will also be premiering at Anthrocon 2016.

Rechan sold a piece to Tarl “Voice” Hoch’s untitled science fiction horror anthology.

Mary E. Lowd’s (non-furry) story “Birthing Class” was published in Theme of Absence.

Frances Pauli’s story “Domestic Violence” was accepted in the Domestic Velociraptor anthology.

Madison Keller released her novella The Dragon Tax on Amazon; this is an expansion of her story from the RainFurrest 2015 program book.

Kris Schnee has entered his novel The Digital Coyote into Amazon’s “Kindle Scout” program, a competition for a publication contract.

M.C.A. Hogarth released her novel Only the Open, the fourth book in her Princes’ Game series.

Market news

Ongoing: Fred Patten’s next anthology for FurPlanet, The Dogs of War, is looking for original furry military-themed stories “preferably of 4,000 to 20,000 words.” The emphasis should be on military actions, not politics; Fred notes that despite the title, he’s looking for all kinds of anthropomorphic animals, not just dogs. Payment: ½¢ per word, on publication. Deadline: October 1, 2016. (Read the submission call.)

ROAR 8, FurPlanet’s annual general audience anthology, will again be edited by Mary E. Lowd. Next year’s theme is “Paradise.” It will be open for submissions from September 1, 2016 through February 1, 2017. (Read the submission call.)

Laura “Munchkin” Lewis’s charity poetry anthology, Civilized Beasts, is accepting submissions for a 2016 volume.

Remember to keep an eye on the Calls for Submissions thread on the forum, as well as other posts on the Publishing and Marketing forum.

Guild news

Want to hang out and talk shop with other furry writers? Come join us in the forum shoutbox for the Coffeehouse Chats, Thursdays at 12 p.m. Eastern. More info on the Coffeehouse Chats is here. (Remember, our forums are open to everyone, not just FWG members. Come register and join the conversation!)

Elsewhere on the Internet, we have a Goodreads group with a bookshelf featuring books by our members. Feel free to add any members’ books we’ve missed so far (see the instructions here on how to do that).

Remember, we’re always open for guest blog post submissions from FWG members! See our guidelines for the details.

Have a creative and successful month! If you have news, suggestions, or other feedback to share, send an email to furwritersguild@gmail.com, or leave a comment below.

Member Spotlight: Rob Baird

1. Tell us about your most recent project (written or published). What inspired it?

I’ve been working on a short story cycle that follows the residents of a fictional small town on the Oregon coast. Cannon Shoals is typical of such towns, intimate but clannish, full of people who are trying to balance their dreams against the reality of economic depression and the sense that the world is passing them by. I was inspired by my summers spent in the Santiam Valley, and all the little towns you drive through on winding, lonely highways — places where the water dried up or the railroad left or the mill closed and things just, as the poem goes, “fell apart.” Yeats was talking about the cataclysm of the Great War, but I think that for many places the apocalypse is more subtle and more drab. There are a lot of interesting stories to tell there.

2. What’s your writing process like? Are you a “pantser,” an outliner, or something in between?

I believe in outlines. I say “believe” because it is something like faith! Generally when I start I try to know roughly where I’m going, even if I don’t end up getting there. I find it hard to begin writing with an empty page.

3. What’s your favorite kind of story to write?

My favorite kind of story is the kind where world-curious, upbeat animal-folk learn that there are few problems one cannot solve through the twin powers of good-natured optimism and clever banter. A lot of my stories are ones where I count it as a success if my readers come away with a smile, a lifted mood, and knowing some obscure bit of trivia that they didn’t know before.

4. Which character from your work do you most identify with, and why?

Teobas Franklyn starts my story An Iron Road Running as a starry-eyed, irrepressible kid on his first day of his dream job working on a railroad. Over the course of the novel, the work becomes more trying and he finds himself well out of his depth, but by keeping his wits about him he matures into someone people look to for help, guidance, and solutions to difficult problems. Teo, who ends the story still excited and optimistic, but with his optimism guided by world-wisdom, is the kind of person I’d like to grow up and become.

5. Which authors or books have most influenced your work?

Robert Heinlein and Rudyard Kipling, for the knack they have at celebrating and lauding individuals with indomitable spirits. Other golden-age SF writers, too: Leiber and Asimov and Cordwainer Smith. I know they seem archaic and even naïve now but I feel like that sense of optimism and grand adventure needs to be recaptured. That we should look with wonder and excitement to every new horizon; that frontiers still await us, be they physical or technological or scientific or philosophical — and that, moreover, through ingenuity and dedication and willpower and intellect, such frontiers are our birthright. Furry is such a singularity of great writers that it’s hard to name specific ones in fandom, but pretty much every time I sit down at a keyboard I wish I could write like Huskyteer and Cinnamon, or that I had the same honed gift for ideas as Rechan and Kyell Gold. Those are really the furry authors I look up to and who influence me.

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