Oxfurred Comma: Flash Fiction & Inclusivity Award

Oxfurred Comma 2021 isn’t too far away now!
We hope you’re all looking forward to the weekend, as we have some wonderful panels planned – with a schedule likely being announced within the next week. (There is still the possibility of more panels being added, so if you have a good idea for one, get in contact with us urgently!)

Of course, Oxfurred Comma is not all about panels. We have a couple of other things that were put in place last year, and we would like to carry them over for 2021.


Firstly, we have the Flash Fiction Contest.
In conjunction with Thurston Howl Publications, Oxfurred Comma will be running a Flash Fiction Contest with the winner receiving $25.00! All stories that follow our guidelines will also be collected within an e-book, which will be distributed for free download after the competition.

We will be accepting one piece of Flash Fiction per entrant. Our definition of Flash Fiction is a fictional story written in 500 words or less. The title does not count towards the word count. There is no genre the submissions must fall under, though we have a theme of HOPE for this competition. Authors may choose their own interpretation of the theme, and do not need to include any justification or reasoning for how their submission fits in the theme. Our only requirements are that the story is 500 words or less and is non-erotic. We want to keep things PG-13 within reason. We encourage everyone to submit, especially BIPOC, disabled, trans, or any other marginalized authors.

Some of these stories will be read during a special convention panel. Winners will be chosen by a panel of judges.

Please send all submissions to the FWG email, with the words Flash Fiction included in the topic.
The deadline for submissions is Thursday 14th October.


Oxfurred Comma will also be presenting the Oxfurred Comma Inclusivity Award (OCIA). This award will be given to a person that has done work to advance recognition for marginalized peoples and groups within the furry writing community.

Last year, the OCIA was given by the Oxfurred Comma staff. This year, we are going to be taking nominations from the public.
All FWG guild members are eligible to nominate someone for the OCIA, though the nominee is not required to be a member to be eligible.
Please send all nominations to the following form: https://forms.gle/hAFDFhVA6ZvLvhod8
The deadline for nominations is Thursday 14th October.


Oxfurred Comma and Furry Book Month are right around the corner. We hope to provide a fantastic month to help and uplift furry writing.
We’re looking forward to seeing you there!

Your Book Recommendations

Last week on Twitter, we asked you to recommend some of the best furry fiction that you’ve recently read. We’ve compiled these recommendations into one place, complete with links and information on how to buy these great books. We hope that you can find your next favourite in this list.

Note: In some circumstances, books were recommended that were later parts of a series. In these cases, we have linked to book 1.


Disbanded – Frances Pauli (Goal Publications).
Winner: Leo Awards (2020).
Finalist: Ursa Major Awards; Coyotl Awards (2020)

Come forth, for you are special.

Sookahr the architect is just one of many snakes within Serpentia, an underground society where snakes and their rodent companions have lived in peace for as long as anyone can remember. Their destinies are preordained at birth, when they are fit with skymetal bands to enhance the telekinetic powers that aid them everyday.
Given an opportunity unheard of for a snake of his caste, Sookahr and Kwirk, his mouse aid, venture to a recently-destroyed outpost at the far edges of Serpentia, hoping to redesign the structure and prove his skill as an architect. But something watches from the jungle, and whatever attacked the outpost is poised to strike again. Will Sookahr’s drive to rise above his station get his team killed? Or will he respond to the call he’s heard since birth, and be the hero who can save them all?

Purchase in print.
Purchase in ebook.

The Pride of Chanur – C.J. Cherryh
Finalist: Hugo Awards (1983)

No one at Meetpoint Station had ever seen a creature like the Outsider. Naked-hided, blunt toothed and blunt-fingered, Tully was the sole surviving member of his company of humans―a communicative, spacefaring species hitherto unknown―and he was a prisoner of his discoverers and captors―the sadistic, treacherous kif―until his escape onto the hani ship, The Pride of Chanur.
Little did he know when he threw himself upon the mercy of The Pride and her crew that he put the entire hani species in jeopardy and imperiled the peace of the Compact itself…for the information this fugitive held could be the ruin or glory of any of the species at Meetpoint Station.

Purchase in ebook.
Purchase in audiobook.

God of Clay – Ryan Campbell (Sofawolf Press)
Winner: Coyotl Awards (2013)

Driven to the borders of an unfamiliar forest by an ever-expanding drought, two rival brothers find their fortunes and that of their tribe entwined in a long-forgotten conflict between the old gods of the world. Clay’s fervent belief in devotion to the gods does nothing to prepare him for their true natures, while Laughing Dog’s self-assured insistence that his destiny is his own leads him on a very different journey. As battle lines are drawn, each brother must decide where his allegiance truly lies — a decision that will change each of them forever.
Meanwhile, Doto, the son of the sullen and wrathful forest god Kwaee sets out to capture a member of the brothers’ tribe and bring them back to his father for interrogation, believing the humans to be in league with the insatiable fire god Ogya. In the process, he begins to doubt the stories he has always heard from his father about the original conflict, and the mysterious places in the heart of the forest that he was forbidden to ever visit.

Purchase in print.
Purchase in ebook.

Traitors, Thieves, and Liars – Rick Griffin
Finalist: Leo Awards (2019)

Centuries ago, we lost our world. Planetary Acquisitions keeps us alive solely to maintain their vast fleet of gate ships in an endless quest to find them new worlds to settle—or to conquer. Years flutter by like a tree shedding its spring petals, and so we desperately cling to this chunk of dirt-and-machine we call home.And all those centuries since, we’ve been looking for a way out, risky as it might be. Are we fools?Traitors, Thieves and Liars is the first book in a trilogy retelling the events of Ten Thousand Miles Up in a grand epic.The geroo have been trapped in slavery for centuries, searching for useful planets for their krakun masters. And then one day, pirates contact Captain Ateri with an opportunity that may prove too good to be true.Includes the short story Whatever Happened To Commissioner Sarsuk? Which details the downfall of the former commissioner of the fleet.

Purchase in ebook.
Purchase in audiobook.

Entanglement Bound – Mary E. Lowd (Aethon Books)
Winner: Leo Awards (2020)
Finalist: Ursa Major Awards (2020)

Clarity’s home is her spaceship. Living on the move. Planet to planet.
When money trouble forces Clarity and her traveling companion, Irohann, to take on passengers, Irohann worries his secret identity will be revealed. He’s a canine alien on the run from an empire of sentient plants, and their queen has a personal vendetta against him.
But Clarity believes his fears are unfounded and the Doraspians gave up on him long ago.
Heartsick at the idea of losing their ship, Clarity accepts an offer that’s clearly too good to be true, and they find themselves swept up in the crazy schemes of a rogue AI in a stolen robot body and her haphazardly assembled team of disparate aliens, including a hive-minded swarm, a giant insect, a rabbit-like alien, and a living spaceship who loves bunnies. Together the team must break into an abandoned science station, mangled by an entangled particle trying to destroy the universe.
When disaster strikes, Clarity steps up to pull the team together, but it may come at the cost of the very home and friendship she was trying to save.

Purchase in ebook.
Purchase in audiobook.

Eyrie – K. Vale Nagle

A bloody massacre. A looming civil war. Can two opposed gryphons work together to save their kind? Zeph thrills at the wind in his wings and the hunt for wild parrot. As a simple forest gryphon, he never thought much about his sophisticated city-dwelling cousins living in the lofty eyrie at the edge of the woods. But his carefree life turns upside down when he comes across a young city gryphon stunned by her discovery of a field littered with slaughtered animals. Kia always has her beak in a book. But when her best friend goes missing, she flies down to the woodland and gets tangled up with a wild country gryphon and a shocking conspiracy. With food in short supply and war on the horizon, Kia must choose between forsaking her own or allowing Zeph’s people to be wiped off the map. Forced to overcome their prejudice and misconceptions, the unlikely pair races against time to prevent an apocalypse. Can Zeph and Kia unite their species before a fiery conflict destroys them all? Eyrie is the first book in the high-flying Gryphon Insurrection epic fantasy series. If you like mythical creatures, graphic battles, and moral dilemmas, then you’ll love K. Vale Nagle’s darkly compassionate tale. Buy Eyrie to soar into action today!

Purchase in ebook.

Song of the Summer King – Jess E. Owen
Winner: Global Ebook Award for Fantasy (2013)
Winner: Ursa Major Award (2013) – for Skyfire, book 2.

Shard is a gryfon in danger. He and other young males of the Silver Isles are old enough to fly, hunt, and fight–old enough to be threats to their ruler, the red gryfon king. In the midst of the dangerous initiation hunt, Shard takes the unexpected advice of a strange she-wolf who seeks him out, and hints that Shard’s past isn’t all that it seems. To learn his past, Shard must abandon the future he wants and make allies of those the gryfons call enemies. When the gryfon king declares open war on the wolves, it throws Shard’s past and uncertain future into the turmoil between. Now with battle lines drawn, Shard must decide whether to fight beside his king . . .or against him.

Purchase as print or ebook.
Purchase in audiobook.

Shadow Cast – R.A. Meenan

All Matt ever wanted was to become a Golden Guardian, like his father before him. With decades of experience in battle and his powerful wind magic, Matt excels in every task given to him. Well, almost everything – Matt struggles to follow orders. But sometimes following the Guardian Oath means violating those orders when it’s important. However, Matt isn’t a Guardian yet – and he may never be if the Master Guardian has a say in it.
Izzy Gildspine, Matt’s partner, is also bidding for Guardianship, but she understands the Master Guardian’s worries. After all, how could Izzy be a proper Guardian anyway? Her healing powers can’t hold a candle to Matt’s wind powers. It didn’t matter how good she might be in battle – Making her a Guardian would just be a disgrace to the position if she didn’t have elemental magic.
But when their world is invaded, Matt and Izzy have one last chance to prove they deserve the Guardianship. Only their enemy is not what he seems…
Now they have a choice to make – save themselves, their home, and their final chance at Guardianship, or risk it all for the life of an enemy.

Purchase in ebook.


There are obviously so many more books we can recommend. We encourage readers to let us know which furry books they have enjoyed recently. We want to see that enthusiasm shared across our platforms, so if there are any other authors you want to see on lists like these, do let us know!

For now, we hope you support some of these authors and give their books a look. Leave reviews or ratings if possible. Happy reading!

FWG Monthly Newsletter: August 2021

This will only be a short one this month. We’re moving ahead with our plans for Oxfurred Comma – there will be plenty of blog posts and Author/Publisher Q&As going out through the entire month in October, and we’re also starting to get together a list of panels to run at the convention itself.
Of course, as with last month’s blog, if you wish to run a panel at Oxfurred Comma, then please do get in contact with us, as we’d love to hear from you!
Over the course of the next month we’re going to start announcing some of what we have scheduled, so keep an eye on our Twitter feed – as well as any announcements shared in the Discord or Telegram chats.

As always, there are plenty of short story markets open for submissions. Here are the ones we’re aware of, and think would be good fits for furry writers.



Some of our members have had books freshly released, or are now available for pre-order. If you are a guild member and would like to be included in this section in the future, please remember to get in contact with us – we unfortunately will miss some!

Zooscape – Issue 12 available to read for free.

Stories are a vaccine for the soul, teaching your heart and mind to recognize different forms that lives can take, different ways of being.  When faced with the completely unfamiliar, we can panic, uncertain of how to react.  When the complete unknown is a deadly virus, that uncertainty of how to react can kill us.  When the complete unknown is simply a person with a different life story, a different way of seeing things… that uncertainty can make us hard-hearted and cruel. Literal vaccines are good for the body.  Metaphorical vaccines are good for the soul. So, read these stories, and share them with anyone you know who might like them. Also, get vaccinated, and tell everyone you know who’s medically able that they should too. We’re all part of one flock.  We must take care of each other.  We must learn to be kind, both with our hearts and actions.

Furry Fiction Is Everywhere, by Mary E. Lowd and Ian Madison Keller. Available for pre-order. Released September 10th 2021.

Have you ever read a book or novel and wondered why they even bothered to make certain character(s) in the book something other than human? Want to avoid that in your own work?
There are some simple steps you can take to make your anthropomorphic (or furry) characters stand out on the page. This guide will walk you through step-by-step how to build a believable furry species, world, and characters.

C.A.T.S.: Cycling Across Time And Space: 11 Feminist Science Fiction and Fantasy Stories about Bicycling and Cats – an anthology featuring guild member Alice Dryden. Available for pre-order. Released February 8th 2022.

Has your cat been plotting to take command of your spaceship? This and other important questions are tackled in the 11 science fiction and fantasy stories in this volume, told variously from the perspectives of humans and cats. A bicycle designer finds an exciting new technical challenge on a planet inhabited by felines. A wise cat tries to convince an excited puppy not to chase cyclists. On Mars, a cat helps save the life of their human after a quake. In other stories, a student must live with the consequences of magic gone awry, a cat contrives to go on a bicycle trip, a police robot learns empathy, a captured tiger lashes out, and a young sphinx finds her wings. 

Resistance, by J.F.R. Coates. Available for pre-order. Released November 5th 2021.

Book 3 of the Reborn series.
Centaura is not the safe haven promised to Twitch. A growing power threatens the fate of the planet itself. Twitch finds himself thrust directly into this plot, forced to take action against an enemy that is painfully familiar to him. With Captain Rhys Griffiths missing, it falls on Twitch to fight. He must become a greater starat than the one he was when rescued from Ceres. As his allies fall around him, Twitch needs to stand strong and tall against the familiar hatred. He must uncover the strength hidden within every starat.

Heretic, by J.F.R. Coates. Available for pre-order. Released November 5th 2021.

Book 4 of the Reborn series.
Rhys has been abandoned on Pluto, cast off by Snow for learning the truth about Amy and her Starat Freedom Union. Their target is clear. Terra is in mortal danger and Rhys is the only one who knows about the coming peril. But he is just one starat, voiceless in an empire of ignorance. Rhys must find new allies to help him as he delves back into the heartland of the empire, desperate to save the people who would rather him dead. If he is to succeed, he must uncover the secrets behind the empire and the Vatican on Mars. All the while, a familiar torment stalks him.


That’s all for this month’s newsletter. Please do send in panel ideas for Oxfurred Comma. We’re really excited to see how the second year goes. We hope you are as well.

Be safe. Keep writing.
J.F.R. Coates

FWG Monthly Newsletter: July 2021

We’re starting to move quickly through the year now. In just two months time, we will see the return of Furry Book Month – a celebration for the furry genre that will go through the entire month of October.
This year will see the return of the Furry Writers’ Guild’s most ambitious project to date – Oxfurred Comma. We will be back for the sequel, and this newsletter will go into some of the details about what the second edition will look like.


What?
Oxfurred Comma is an online furry writing convention, run by writers for writers.

When?
October 16-17th 2021! Exact times are not yet certain, but it will probably run to a similar format to last year, where each day ran from mid-morning to late (US time).

Where?
Online! Specifically, the FWG’s Twitch channel. There will also be plenty of discussions happening on our Telegram and Discord groups, so be sure to join those as well.

Who?
Everyone! Everyone is welcome to attend the online panels, readings, and other events. All writers – guild members or otherwise – are invited to contribute to the events as well. If you have something interesting to share, whether that’s a book reading, a panel about writing, or something else entirely, you are welcome to propose an event. Details below.

Why?
Oxfurred Comma was specifically set up last year to provide furry writers with the opportunity to network, sell, and otherwise share knowledge in a safe, online space with the cancellation of all in-person conventions because of COVID19. While some conventions are starting to return this year, we made the decision to continue Oxfurred Comma because it gives writers a much bigger platform than most conventions manage.
More than that: everyone thoroughly enjoyed last year – of course we’d bring it back for some more!



Panels and Events
A convention is made by the quality of the panels and other content.
The Oxfurred Comma staff will be providing some of that content, but we can’t do it all ourselves! We will be asking anyone who feels like they have something interesting or important to offer to the community to contribute.
If you have a good idea for a panel about any aspect of writing – let us know!
If you have a new book coming out soon and would like to do a short reading – let us know!
If you have a writing podcast and would like to do a live show during the convention – let us know!

If the response is anything like last year, then we may not be able to fit in everyone’s panels, but we shall do our best! So that we have enough time to work out a proper schedule, please send in your panel ideas by August 31st.

Please send any panel requests through to the FWG email, or directly to myself (J.F.R. Coates) on Twitter, Telegram, or Discord.

Dealer’s Den
We have not yet finalised just how we will be going about the Dealer’s Den this year. We feel that this was possibly the weakest aspect of the convention last year, and we will be working out how to improve it for this year – or a potential replacement. We absolutely want to provide people and publishers with the opportunities to promote and sell their work.
More details will come here!

More?
We are, of course, always happy to hear more thoughts and suggestions on how to make Oxfurred Comma a great success. If you have any ideas on things that can be done – be it specific events you’d like to see or whatever – then please get in contact with us. We are always happy to hear what the community thinks – after all, this convention is for you!



Of course, this isn’t all about Oxfurred Comma. We’re also bringing you the deadlines for all the anthologies we think would suit our members. Some of these deadlines are pretty close, so better get writing!


The Furry Writers’ Guild is also looking for books to promote.
If you are a guild member who has a book release coming up, then please get in contact with us so that we can help share this news through our social media outlets. We will be keeping an eye out for new books ourselves, but if you don’t want us to miss it, send us an email or message and we can make a note of it.

For now, we will only promote self-published books if they are from a guild member. All books through a publisher will be considered (in most circumstances, a book published through a publisher will qualify for FWG membership). This scope may well change in the future, so keep checking back to our social media feeds and blog posts for more information.


That is all for this month’s newsletter. We’re all excited for Oxfurred Comma, so please start sending in those thoughts and offers for panels and other content. We can’t wait to see what this wonderful community is able to do.

Keep safe. Keep writing!
J.F.R. Coates

In Memory of Dwale

Today we heard the sad news that Dwale (it/its), a veteran writer and poet, recently passed away. If next of kin requests donations be sent to a particular cause, we will share those details.

Dwale was a friend to many and had a strong impact within the furry and furry writing communities, including the Guild as former President. Its writing can be found here: https://www.goodreads.com/author/list/5354982.Dwale

Please, stay safe. If you or someone you love is struggling, please, please reach out. You are not alone. Help is available.
For US: https://suicidepreventionlifeline.org/ 1-800-273-8255
For international: https://findahelpline.com/i/iasp

FWG Monthly Newsletter: June 2021

Another month of the year has passed by. This month was Pride Month, and I hope people enjoyed reading the Pride Month Spotlights that were featured over the last few weeks. The Furry Writers’ Guild is blessed with so many members who identify as LGBTQ+, so in truth there could have been any number of people interviewed. We at the guild encourage everyone to continue supporting LGBTQ+ people and causes.

For this month’s newsletter, there will be three main topics to cover.
– The Leo Awards winners.
– Open anthology markets.
– Book promotion opportunities.


The Leo Awards are run by the Furry Book Review. They are a little different to other awards as there is never one single winner of each category. Instead, the awards seek to honour and highlight all exceptional furry fiction. As a consequence of this, all nominations that pass a benchmark score across a panel of judges is considered a winner of the award. This can be shared amongst the entire field of nominations, if all are considered worthy. (Note: I was one of the judges for this year’s awards, which were judged in March/April.)

The winners for the 2020 Leo Awards were as follows:

Novels

Disbanded, by Frances Pauli

Entanglement Boundby Mary E. Lowd

Qoholeth + Gallery Exhibitionby Madison Scott-Clary

Fox Spirit: A Two-Tailed Adventure, by Amy Clare Fontaine

Whip and Boot, by Herr Wozzeck

Ritual of the Ancientsby Ian Madison Keller

Symphony of Hunted Truthsby Leilani Wilson

Novellas

What Makes a Witch, by Linnea Capps

Rightful Salvageby Frances Pauli

Spin the Bottle, by Dajan Tafari

Anthologies

Difursity, by Weasel

Selections of Anthropomorphic Regalements, vol. 1, by KC Alpinus

Sensory De-tails, by Thurston Howl

Burnt Furby Ken MacGregor

OhMurrby Weasel

The Haunted Denby Tarl “Voice” Hoch and Thurston Howl

The Electric Sewer, by Thurston Howl

Short Stories

“The Battler” by Cedric G! Bacon in Even Furries Hate Nazis

“The Fire in Her Claws” by Mary E. Lowd in Daily Science Fiction

“Paths” by Kyell Gold in Sensory De-tails

“Water” by Utunu in The Voice of Dog

“Summer Strawberries” by Mary E. Lowd in The Voice of Dog

“Loving You is Wrong” by NightEyes Dayspring in The Voice of Dog

“Ember in the Night” by BanWynn Oakshadow in SPECIES: Wildcats

“Sharp” by Thurston Howl in Electric Sewer

“Keep Breathing” by Karter Mycroft in Zooscape

“Too Much Play” by TJ Minde in Give Yourself a Hand

“The Pine Lesson” by Ian Madison Keller in Ironclaw: Book of Legends

“These Are the Days of Our Lives” by Weasel in Sensory De-tails

Poems

“On Meeting My First Fur” by Chazz Chitwood in Furry Slut

Nonfiction

“Furry Erotica and Pornography: Art, Sex, and the Self” by Katav in From Paw to Print

From Paw to Print, compiled by Thurston Howl

Book Covers

Disbanded, by Ilya Royz

Once Broken, by Nomax

Selections of Anthropomorphic Regalements, vol. 1by Jonas Jödicke

When a Cat Loves a Dog, by Idess

Furry Slut, by Jessica Hart

Fox Spirit: A Two-Tailed Adventure, by Paola Tuazon

Purrgatorio, by Joseph Chou

Please support these wonderful writers by clicking through the links and buying what stands out to you. Trust me, they are all deserved winners!
Nominations are also open for the 2021 Leo Awards.


As always, the Furry Writers Market is the go-to place to find out which markets are currently open for submissions. Here is a quick rundown of the open calls.


The Furry Writers’ Guild is also looking for books to promote.
If you are a guild member who has a book release coming up, then please get in contact with us so that we can help share this news through our social media outlets. We will be keeping an eye out for new books ourselves, but if you don’t want us to miss it, send us an email or message and we can make a note of it.

For now, we will only promote self-published books if they are from a guild member. All books through a publisher will be considered. This scope may well change in the future, so keep checking back to our social media feeds and blog posts for more information.


The second half of 2021 is upon us. Things may not have been easy so far this year, but hopefully the next six months will see a gradual return to a better normal.
Keep writing, keep reading. Make it all furry!

J.F.R. Coates

FWG Pride Month Spotlight: Kayodé Lycaon

Welcome to the third and final Pride Month spotlight. This time we talked to Kayodé Lycaon (he/him), who has kindly answered our questions about his identity and his struggles. Please note that there is a content warning for some abusive subjects in some of these answers – Kayodé has highlighted them at the beginning of the relevant answers.


FWG: Tell the guild and our readers a bit about yourself.

Kayodé: Hi! I’m Kayodé Lycaon, a gregarious painted wolf living in the questionable habitat of southwestern Ohio, and I like to talk. A lot. So, steal a seat, grab someone else’s drink, and get comfortable.

I’ve done and learned a lot of things in my life. To misquote a phrase, I’m a wolf of many trades, master of one. I’m a senior software engineer who has worked in insurance, education, and now online sales. I’ve run a furry convention. I’m excellent at logistics. I read scientific papers, court cases, and textbooks. I run and play tabletop rpgs with friends. I leave dishes piled up next to the sink until I’m out of forks, but the kitchen table is always clean.

It’s a bit of a crazy life. (More on that later.)

FWG: What is your favourite work that you have written?

Kayodé: This is where I plug my wares, right? My story Dark Garden Lake in The Reclamation Project – Year One (Available in paperback from FurPlanet and ebook from Bad Dog Books.)

Shameless plugging aside, I really do love it. The setting of The Reclamation Project is full of moral and technological complexity. There’s a lot of room to explore ideas and characters. It’s a really good anthology that I was proud to contribute to.

The story itself is a huge milestone for me. It is the first story I consider to be “good”. Many of my previous dabbles at writing have had good concepts and ideas, but this was the first to have good execution. There are flaws, but for being so early in my writing career it’s better than it has any right to be.

When I finished writing Dark Garden Lake, I knew I had created something special. Every time I feel like a failure, I can look back at it and know that I’m both a writer and an author. Even if I never write again, I will still be those things.

FWG: What do you think makes a good story?

Kayodé: A good story engages with the reader’s imagination. All art has an audience, even if that is just the artist. Every reader has their own experiences to bring to the table. Every word the author doesn’t write, gets written by the reader.

In my own works, I’ll paint a scene with a few choice details and give the audience room to imagine. I drop a hint or two at a backstory that only exists in my notes. I slowly give the reader’s my characters’ thoughts, fears, and motivations so when the action hits, they know how the character feels without me having to say it.

FWG: How long have you been in the guild, and what changes have you seen with regards to how writing is handled since joining?

Kayodé: I haven’t been around here all that long. I officially became a member December 2019 about a year after I had started hanging out in the Telegram channel. A few months later, I was asked to fill in the Vice President role due to my prior experience in similar positions. Then the fire nation attac…the pandemic happened.

People stepped up to help run Oxfurred Comma. The newsletter is going out regularly. The guild has a number of volunteers who have come on board. It’s all very exciting and I’m looking forward to the future.

FWG: Can you give us a little insight into your identity, and how you fit onto the lgbtq+ spectrum?

Kayodé: I’m asexual, panromantic, and very much interested in sex. That last part throws people. (More on that when I talk about discovering my identity.)

There is an assumption by many people that asexuality is about lack of interest in sex. This belief is so pervasive that asexuality is seen as “opting out” of the LGBTQ+ community. The truth is, for some people, they identify as asexual because they have “opted out”. Since these people may later change their identification, this adds weight to this idea.

This incorrect belief is compounded by what asexuality actually is. Asexuality is about a lack of sexual attraction, not lack of interest in sex. For allosexual (non-asexual) people, sexual attraction is a fundamental experience. It is difficult to imagine what something feels like when you lack equivalent or applicable experience.

When I try to explain what asexuality feels like, I describe it as being horny without a target, but this leads people to imagine being frustrated or thwarted. This could not be further from the truth. When it comes to sex, I have plenty of choices, some being multi-player. I don’t feel any special connection to sex, it simply is, and I can do whatever I want with it.

This last part has led to many misunderstandings as I am also panromantic. I crave deep, meaningful relationships regardless of a person’s sexuality or gender, but those relationships have nothing to do with sex. This becomes a bit of a problem, as I can’t tell when someone thinks I’m flirting with them. It’s been a source of some painful misunderstandings and the butt of insensitive jokes.

It would be easier to deal with by “opting out” and just being on the sidelines as an ally, but I shouldn’t have to opt out. My experience is fundamentally different from a heterosexual person’s, and I have to deal with the same societal prejudices. Sexual attraction is pervasive at every level of society and culture. I’m constantly reminded that “your kind doesn’t belong here.” Whether I want sex or not, that makes me part of the LGBTQ+ community.

FWG: What does Pride mean to you?

Kayodé: Honestly, very little. I’ve always felt excluded from it as Kayodé and my memories prior to changing my name in 2019 are extremely spotty.

The one thing I do remember is being in fursuit on a float in a pride parade. Seeing all of the people in the crowd made me feel like I was on the outside looking at something beautiful within.

FWG: Was there a bit of a journey or story to you uncovering your identity? If so, would you be comfortable sharing with us?

Kayodé: It’s a long story inseparably linked to being bipolar and growing up in an emotionally abusive home. I’ll do my best to keep my descriptions brief, but my answer is long and may be triggering to some readers. Feel free to skip to the next bolded question.

I grew up in a family that considered mental illness to be at best a lack of character and at worst demon possession. “Try harder,” “suck it up,” and “you have no right to feel that way” were the messages I grew up with. Sexual desire of any kind was an unforgivable sin.

My struggle with identity started when I was nine years old and started having hypersexual episodes. Hypersexuality is terrible. At worst, hypersexuality is an unrelenting, insatiable need for sex. There is no relief from it. At best, sex consumes hours of each day just to stay sane. As I write this, I haven’t gotten to bed on time in weeks. Doctors and psychiatrists like to treat this as an addiction even though it is a well-documented symptom of mania. My parents were less charitable.

When I was twelve and other children were starting to go through puberty, I learned about how boys desire girls. It was all around me. At one point I got punched in the face by a jealous boyfriend getting mad for me talking to the person they had claimed. I didn’t understand any of it. I was constantly accused of being gay (an unforgivable sin) by my classmates because I wasn’t lusting after girls like they were.

By the time I was an adult, I didn’t understand what was wrong with me. I wanted to have sex, but there was no one I wanted to have sex with. I wanted to focus on my schoolwork, but I couldn’t. I wanted to write, but I couldn’t stick with it. I wanted to have self-control, but I didn’t. This was all my fault.

When I moved to Ohio, I attended my first furry convention and finally found a community where I belonged. The next year I was on staff. Slowly, through my first fursona, I started to explore who I was. The end result was depressing. I was a fatally flawed person condemned to fight the same struggles and make the same mistakes over and over again. My sexuality and gender were empty, null values that were assumed to be “straight” and “male” because that’s how everyone expected me to be.

Eventually, I started to discover my lack of sexual attraction had a label, but I was too busy with year-long cycles of depression and mania. In 2018, I made the mistake of letting someone talk me into being chairman of a convention. In August of that year, the accumulated stress of a lifetime caused something in my brain to snap and thus begin a four-month long descent into madness. Prior to this I’d long avoided engaging with the sexual side of the fandom. I embraced it fully and read everything furry and erotic I could get my paws on.

In Feburary 2019, I was diagnosed bipolar and started treatment. At the time, I described my brain, identity, and memories as a vase thrown against a wall and I was sitting on the floor looking at the pieces. My fursona was the only thing I could cling to remember who I was.

In June, he died. Slowly, medication gave me the self-control I had always lacked, and I began to realize it wasn’t me that was flawed. My previous fursona proved to be nothing more than a false mirror. And I broke. I became nothing.
In the aftermath, I had to build a new self. I sifted through the shattered pieces of who I used to be. I built a new fursona and gave him those pieces to carry. Slowly, Kayodé emerged. I read about asexuality and learned there was nothing wrong with my sexuality. I read about romantic and aromantic people and understood why I wanted the relationships I did.

I’m still grappling with who I’m becoming. My psychotic break severely damaged my long-term memory and I’m sure bipolar medication isn’t helping in that respect. I don’t have much to connect me to my past. My identity still has no gender. It is a complete blank that I have no strong feelings about. I’m used to being treated as male, so I use male pronouns. When I hear Kayodé or my legal name, I don’t recognize them as referring to me. When I hear my previous fursona’s name, it brings up a past I want nothing to do with.

But I know the important things. I know the things I want to do. I know why I feel the way I feel and I know there is nothing wrong with what I feel. That’s good enough for now.

FWG: How do you think being lgbtq+ has inspired or affected your stories? Have you written lgbtq+ characters into your works?

Kayodé: My own struggles with identity and relationships has more than inspired me—they are the entire purpose that drives my writing. Every one of my characters deliberately embodies a struggle or experience I have. It is somewhat unfortunate that I have an endless supply of source material.

Bipolar is defined by extremes. I have lived and experienced more in thirty years than a dozen neurotypical people would have in a lifetime. Mania fuels every extreme of emotion, from rage, to paranoia, to indescribable joy. Depression is an all-consuming emptiness. Psychosis is imagination unhinged, indistinguishable from reality. In four months, I lived an entire lifetime as an anthropomorphic wolf. Sadly, his experiences were worse than my own.

As a result, my (mostly male) characters span the entire rainbow: ace, bi, gay, trans, and more. I’ve found common experiences with all of them. With every story, I hope to give my audience a glimpse into a perspective they might not otherwise have seen.

FWG: Do you have favourite queer authors and has their literature affected your writing in the fandom?

Kayodé: I have limited experience with furry literature and none with any queer literature outside of the fandom. But since I’m here… I’ll embarrass the hell out of NightEyes, because that’s always fun! His short story A Moment of Darkness in Knotted (Available in paperback from FurPlanet and ebook from Bad Dog Books) was a story I really connected with. It’s taken me a while to notice, but reading it made me much more comfortable writing the stories I like to write. If he can write about cancer, I can write about mental health.

FWG: If you could convince everyone to read a single book, what would it be?

Kayodé: Without a doubt, Art & Fear by David Bayles and Ted Orland. I particularly like the audio book. It’s a book about the process of making art—“ordinary art”, as they call it. How many times do we sit down in front of a keyboard and get nothing done? This book won’t fix that, but it will explain, in depth, how art gets made (or not made). There are pitfalls everyone falls into. Insecurity about the things we create is the rule, not the exception.
If you want to have a better relationship with your writing, Art & Fear is a good book to read.

FWG: Any last words for our readers and guild members?

Kayodé: Thanks for reading! I hope you enjoyed reading my answers as much as I enjoyed writing them. (Also, buy the books!)


That is the last of the Pride Month spotlights for this year. We will be doing more spotlights throughout the year, of course.

The furry fandom is a special place because of (amongst other things) how open and welcoming it is to lgbtq+ people. It is a safe haven for many to explore and develop their identities, and this is something we need to cherish and embrace. This month and every month.

We at the Furry Writers’ Guild encourage everyone – our members, future members, and readers – to embrace and explore the myriad of identities that make us so special.

Stay Proud. Stay safe.
Happy reading.

FWG Pride Month Spotlight: George Squares

For the second Pride Spotlight of the month, we interviewed George Squares (he/him). Though George has had several short story credits to his name, he has recently been writing in a very different medium to most within the Furry Writers Guild.
This is what furry and queer writing means to him.


FWG: Tell the guild and our readers a bit about yourself.

George: Sure. I go by George Squares. I’m a gay man, I tend to focus heavily on writing horror, romance and erotica, and I’ve been in the furry writer’s guild for a long time. I’ve had stories published in anthologies such as Arcana and Dissident Signals for various presses.

Though I started out selling my writing for short story anthologies (one of the first things I published in the furry scene was a story called Interchangeable Parts in Will of the Alpha 2), these days I make a living off of script writing for various games studios. One of the biggest projects I’ve ever undertaken is managing and writing a visual novel for Echo Project called The Smoke Room, which updates approximately every month and a half. 

FWG: What is your favourite work that you have written?

George: Hard for me to say. I really enjoyed writing a highly risque transformation story that I put up on fur affinity called Something to Trade (it’s probably not a read for everybody), but I think my short story in Arcana, which was for The Sun’s Major Arcana, really stuck with me. But I think my strongest work is going into The Smoke Room at the moment.  

FWG: What do you think makes a good story?

George:
A lot of things can make for a good story, but at the end of the day, I think that the most important thing is emotional resonance. We remember how something made us feel the strongest, so if a story can make its audience feel, it will leave an impact. 

FWG: How long have you been in the guild, and what changes have you seen with regards to how writing is handled since joining?

George: I think I’ve technically been in it for around six to seven years. My involvement with the Guild had generally been around the periphery as my interest in publishing print media diminished. But what’s exciting for me to see more of recently is visual novels and interactive games getting embraced as “writing” in writing communities. People are opening up to supporting accessible multimedia projects that have as much depth as many books do.
 
FWG: Can you give us a little insight into your identity, and how you fit onto the lgbtq+ spectrum?


George: I call myself a gay man out of convenience (and I still consider that to be fairly accurate in terms of my identity), but if I went into the nitty gritty, I’m a masculine nonbinary person with some agender-leaning identity.
 
FWG: What does Pride mean to you?

George:
It means many things to me, but it mostly means a celebration of the perserverence of Queer (Or LGBTQIA+) identity over institutional hegemony and police brutality. I know we can trace most of the original celebration’s significance back to Marsha P. Johnson’s thrown brick at Stonewall. 

I’ve never had the chance to attend a pride event or celebration in person, but I know how important it is to people who are like me.
 
FWG: Was there a bit of a journey or story to you uncovering your identity? If so, would you be comfortable sharing with us?

George: A lot of it was pretty uncomfortable, as, no doubt, many folks in the same boat will tell you. My parents were devout baptists, so a lot of my adolescent and teen years had to be spent in secrecy and suppression. But a part of that was self-imposed due to religious indoctrination. 

It wasn’t until college, where I got to be on my own and explore who I was, until I felt ready to embrace something I already sort of knew from as early an age as 13. My parents were more accepting than I thought they would be at first. I still talk to them about this to this day, but our relationship is still rocky.

FWG: How do you think being lgbtq+ has inspired or affected your stories? Have you written lgbtq+ characters into your works?

George: Well, the graphic sex between men is impossible to miss, for starters. But when I’m writing without explicit sexual depictions, yeah, my sexual and gender identity always comes into factor. I think about what’s depicted as attractive or desirable to the PoV character. I think about what a touch is like between characters with chemistry vs. characters without it. And I think about what I would want to see in a work as a reader when I’m writing something, because even though we can’t always write only for ourselves, we can manage to write for people who are like us who are hungry for relatable stories.

FWG: Do you have favourite queer authors and has their literature affected your writing in the fandom?

George: Well I definitely have to mention Howly, who created Echo, which eventually led to the entirety of Echo Project. He’s very kind, he works hard, and he undervalues himself considerably, but I wouldn’t have been able to make games without him.

I also want to mention Redd the Shibe, who is my co-writer for The Smoke Room. We have banged our heads together on plenty of walls figuring out how to code and how to make a game but I really think we managed to get past our major hurdles, and I’m proud of us.   
I also need to mention some Devs in the MLM furry VN scene who I think are doing interesting work:
-Grizz (Password)
-Eddio (Killigan’s Treasure)
-Basket (Tennis Ace)
-Xarishro (Fuelled by Insanity)-Raus (Shelter)

My earlier influences in terms of MLM representation in furry stories were K.M. Hirosaki/Rikoshi, Kyell Gold, and Ryan Campbell, and I’m looking forward to reading God of Fire in the near future. 
Robert Baird, and Ian Madison Keller are also really lovely writers who are enthused about their craft.

I have never asked my good friend and fellow writer Jess E. Owen’s private thoughts on her identity, but I would not be as good of a writer today without her, and I needed to mention her. 
I also need to mention my husband Cafealopex, whose early work in the Redwall Online Community over a decade ago inspired me to write in the first place.

FWG: If you could convince everyone to read a single book, what would it be?


George: Tough question, considering I want everybody to read widely, and I think everybody reading the same single book could lead to pop cultural problems (what’s that saying I keep hearing again and again about…. ‘read another book’), 
But… I think “Into the Wild” is a pretty solid nonfiction book that almost feels like it’s written like fiction, and I think anybody could get into it. It’s entertaining, it’s shocking, it paints a really good picture with scenes, and I think it has an important lesson.

IT is another book that I think would benefit a lot of people probably but it is very dark and very upsetting. 
If I had to choose a narrative game for everybody to play, it would be “Night in the Woods.”
If I had to pick a book for pride month for everybody to read? How about Wolfsong by T.J. Klune. Can’t go wrong with gay werewolf men. 

FWG: Any last words for our readers and guild members?

George: Remember that lots of things can be considered writing and that there’s lots of ways that you can make a living as a writer inside and out of this fandom. Don’t let anybody who tells you otherwise keep you in their shadow.

Celebrate pride month in your own way. 


George is one of the writers with visual novel company The Echo Project. Updates for all the visual novels can be found at The Echo Project’s Patreon page: https://www.patreon.com/EchoGame
You can follow George on Twitter @georgesquares

We have one more Pride Spotlight to come before the end of the month. In the meantime, please do check out George’s work. You will not be disappointed.

FWG Pride Month Spotlight: Ian Madison Keller

Pride is a very important month for so many reasons, especially amongst the furry community. Furries, as a whole, are significantly more queer than the rest of the population. Many identify with the lgbtq+ spectrum, and all efforts should be made to preserve the furry fandom as a space that is safe for everyone. The furry writing community is no different. This Pride Month, we will shine the spotlight on a few of the writers who give the furry community its wonderful diversity.

The first spotlight for this year’s Pride Month is Ian Madison Keller (he/him).


FWG: Tell the guild and our readers a bit about yourself.

Ian: I grew up in Utah and southern Idaho, and escaped to the Pacific Northwest as soon as I could. Although I wanted to be a writer since High school I ended up majoring in Accounting and not writing for many years.  But in 2012 I picked writing back up again and released my first book in 2014 and my first short stories were published in 2015. I also went back to school to get a certificate in editing, and have been editing stories and novels since 2018.

FWG: What is your favourite work that you have written?

Ian: Short stories, my favorite would be “Don’t Cry” one of the flash fictions I wrote for Flower’s Fang about the queen. I wrote it while figuring out the motivations for the queen and I just really love everything about it. Novels would be one of my latest, “Ritual of the Ancients.” I had a lot of fun writing the thriller elements and figuring out how the vampires and shifters of my world interact with each other.  

FWG: What do you think makes a good story?

Ian: A strong emotional core. No matter how action packed a book or movie, if I don’t care about the characters then I probably won’t finish it. 

FWG: How long have you been in the guild, and what changes have you seen with regards to how writing is handled since joining?

Ian: I’ve been with the guild since 2016. I’ve seen a lot more encouragement to new writers lately and more inclusivity, like with the online writing convention put on by the guild and the multiple ways to communicate, with the Discord, the forums, and the telegram channel.

FWG: Can you give us a little insight into your identity, and how you fit onto the lgbtq+ spectrum?

Ian:
I am trans-masculine and bisexual.

FWG: What does Pride mean to you?

Ian: Being proud, not ashamed, about my identity. Something I’ve struggled with a lot from growing up in the mormon church/church of latter-day saints. That’s why Pride looks like a big party, a celebration, because for so many of us we were told that our identities were wrong, something to hide, and even repress.

FWG: Was there a bit of a journey or story to you uncovering your identity? If so, would you be comfortable sharing with us?

Ian:
A very long one. I didn’t even know transgender was a thing until I was in college. I actually found out about it by typing “I wish I was a boy” into google and stumbling on LGBT and trans positive websites. Surprisingly the college I went to in Utah had an LGBT center, but there weren’t any trans-masc folks there. Even at the local Salt Lake City trans support group, I was usually the only guy there, and I got a lot of pushback from both that group and the women I dated to not transition. I ended up going back into the closet for more than a decade before actively pursuing transitioning again. 

FWG: How do you think being lgbtq+ has inspired or affected your stories? Have you written lgbtq+ characters into your works?

Ian: It affects all of my works, and almost everything I write has LGBTQ characters in it. Flower’s Fang has a lesbian couple, in The Dragon Tax you find out that one of the characters is bi, as well there is a non-binary elf character. And in my urban fantasy Changing Bodies story, the main character is a gay trans-man in the middle of transition. As well, I’ve written many short stories with a spectrum of characters of varying identities. 

As far as inspiration, some of my stories have been me wondering how a certain species might approach transitioning. Or how a vampire might deal with being transgender and unable to take hormones. Or about how dragons might feel about gender identities.

FWG: Do you have favourite queer authors and has their literature affected your writing in the fandom?

Ian: I honestly have not read a lot of books by queer authors. However, that is something I am currently working on by actively seeking out works by out queers. The way this has affected my writing is leading me to put lots of queer characters in my stories, so that others can read about the kinds of characters I wished I’d been reading about my whole life. 

Recently I did find a nonbinary author, Dorian Graves, who writes queer urban fantasy stories that I’ve greatly been enjoying.

FWG: If you could convince everyone to read a single book, what would it be?

Ian: I would go with House of Shards by Walter Jon Williams. This book is probably the biggest influence on my writing. Lots of humor wrapped in a serious story, and a whole host of alien races. 

FWG: Any last words for our readers and guild members?

Ian: Don’t forget the outside world exists! Be sure to put down books sometimes to venture out of the house. You’d be surprised by the things that can jump-start your creativity. Try to have hobbies outside reading and writing


Ian Madison Keller is a fantasy writer currently living in Oregon. Originally from Utah, he moved up to the Pacific Northwest on a whim a decade ago and never plans on leaving. Ian has been writing since 2013 with nine novels and more than a dozen published short stories out so far. Ian has also written under the name Madison Keller before transitioning in 2019 to Ian. His most recent series is Changing Bodies, a vampire & shifter urban fantasy published with Goal Publications. You can find more at his website, http://madisonkeller.net.

FWG Monthly Newsletter: May 2021

Welcome back once more for another monthly newsletter! This is going out a little late due to the change in presidency, which also means that things might be a little light on new information for this month.

June is, of course, Pride Month. There have typically been interviews done with writers who are lgbtq+, and I do not intend for this month to be any different. Obviously, things are a little delayed due to the hand-over, but I intend on reaching out to writers over the next few days in order to get some Pride Month spotlights released. If you believe you would make a good person to spotlight, please reach out to us.


You can find all kinds of submission calls for Furry writing in our Furry Writers’ Market! Currently, these markets are open.

Note that Zooscape will, as of the December 2021 issue, be a fully professional rate, as dictated by the SFWA. This means 8c/word on all accepted submissions, up to 5000 words.


As with the previous update, we are currently still finding our feet with this new role. Over time, we plan to have plenty more information included in these updates. New book releases will also be included with the anthology openings.

Until then, stay safe in these difficult times. Get vaccinated if possible and keep writing!

J.F.R. Coates