Member Spotlight: Ocean Tigrox

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

The project I’m most excited for is Inhuman Acts which is an anthology of anthropomorphic noir stories set to be published by FurPlanet and released at Rainfurrest 2015. Anthropomorphic literature has an interesting ability to spin any genre, and I wanted to see a variety of different noir stories seeing how they change when you add animals to the mix. Noir and mystery are some of my favourite genres so I’m happy to bring some of that love into this project. It’s been a big challenge to step up and be a lead editor, but it’s been a lot of fun too.

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

I used to be a heavy outliner but would find myself bogged down on trying to figure out the story and never sitting down to write it. Now I like to start with a central concept, a main conflict, or a twist and go from there. From the initial idea, I set up some characters, point them towards some plot points and a goal or a climax, then let them fill in the rest. I still like the loose structure of knowing where the story is going, but by allowing the characters to lead me there, the story becomes more organic and real. Sometimes they get to the end I set for them and they replace it with something better!

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

A story filled with twists and mysteries. I love creating interesting and smart characters, tossing them in dangerous situations or traps, and watching them find a way out. When a reader comes back and tells that an ending took them by surprise, it always puts a grin on my face.

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

There’s a story I’ve written that I’m trying to publish about two teens in small town Saskatchewan. It’s really a love letter to what it was like growing up in such a small rural community and the two main characters are a reflection of my experiences and thoughts. There’s something about such a small community and a simpler life that creates a world view most people don’t see and you appreciate the small things in life.

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

One book that changed my outlook on literature was Douglas Adams’s Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy. Most sci-fi I had read up to that point came from Arthur C. Clarke and others, and when I was looking for a book for a grade twelve book report, I stumbled upon Hitchhiker’s Guide. Here was a book that took everything I knew about stories and literature and turned it on its head. A ridiculous tale of world building and hilarity while still telling a fantastic story. It showed me that there’s no real rules to writing and you shouldn’t be afraid to try new things.

6. What’s the last book you read that you really loved?

In preparation for editing Inhuman Acts, I brushed up on some classic noir titles. One of them was The Maltese Falcon. It was great to see the foundation of a lot of hardboiled crime and noir elements before they were even tropes. I’m still a sucker for reading the classics and you’ll often find there’s more than one crowding up my reading pile.

7. Besides writing, how do you like to spend your free time?

TigroxDeskI enjoy playing games of all types: video games, board games, table top RPGS, card games (I’m even a level one Magic judge), and even just any kind of puzzle I can get my paws on. There’s usually a pair of headphones or ear buds near me at any time so I can listen to my music. I’ve also taken up poi spinning to dance along with my music. When the weather’s nice (AKA not winter), I like to take my motorcycle out to the mountains to go soak in the hot springs.

8. Advice for other writers?

“Write now! Edit later!” is my writing mantra. It’s something I often have to chant it to myself over and over while writing up a first draft. Otherwise I’ll want to go back and edit what I’ve written and worry too much about if it’s right when the story isn’t even written yet. I’ve seen too many beginning writers get stuck in this editing loop, worried if their first chapter or first scene is good enough before they’ve even written more. Finish writing the story first! There’s always time for editing later and you’ll have the accomplishment of having written a full first draft.

9. Where can readers find your work?

Check out Inhuman Acts when it’s released and let me know if you liked it! While at the FurPlanet table, you can find my stories in some anthologies like Roar 6, The Furry Future, and the latest Rainfurrest charity anthologies. I also have a story in Rabbit Valley’s Pulp! and occasionally I post stories on my SoFurry account: ocean.sofurry.com. You can listen in on the bi-weekly writing podcast I co-host called Fangs and Fonts (fangsandfonts.com). It’s put on by myself and my local furry writing group. We talk about writing techniques and the writing culture in the fandom.

10. What’s your favorite thing about the furry fandom?

The fact that you can be whoever you want to be in this fandom. The furry fandom is very open and friendly, and it’s great to see so many people get along without caring about gender, race or sexual orientation. You wanna be a purple tiger fox or a orange elephant or a green wolf? Cool! I hope it continues to be a place where people can be themselves and happy with who they are.

 

Check out Ocean Tigrox’s member bio here!

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Guest post: “A Tale of Two Rejections” by Ocean Tigrox

A Tale of Two Rejections

by Ocean Tigrox

 

Once upon a time, there were two aspiring writers, Stanza and Prose. Both had aspirations of someday being published, and together they began sending off submissions to various publishers. Stanza was successful, receiving an acceptance on their first story! They quickly began drafting up their second story to send off. Prose, unfortunately, was met with a kind rejection letter. Disappointment hit them hard as they took their lumps, pushed their chin up and tried again. The second round of letters came back with similar results. Once again, Stanza succeeded in having another work accepted. Clearly their first time hadn’t just been just a stroke of luck. Meanwhile, Prose found themself sighing at a second rejection letter. What went wrong this time?

This cycle repeated a few times. Stanza submitted more, being accepted each time; Prose became more disappointed with each new rejection. As this continued, Stanza became empowered, feeling invincible. Anything they wrote was gold and always came back with a happy congratulatory note from the editor. Prose continued to struggle through each deemed failure, learning how to improve with every submission’s iteration.

One day the cycle broke. Upon opening a letter from another editor, Stanza nearly choked on their coffee when they read words that they had never seen before: “We’re sorry, but your story was not selected.” Preposterous, they thought. An editor clearly made a mistake. But, no, that was their story in the explanation below about why it was not selected. The editors had found issues with the main character and decided against accepting the story.

Doubt filled Stanza’s mind. They were invincible. How could this happen? Unless, they thought, the other times really had been flukes. Maybe the accepted stories had just been filler or just barely squeaked in. Maybe Stanza wasn’t as talented a writer as they had originally believed. After all, talented writers don’t get rejected, do they? Lost and confused about their own skill as a writer, Stanza put away their writing, unsure if they should submit another story.

Things were quite the opposite with Prose. They awoke the next day to find their first acceptance letter. Tears overwhelmed them as they read the editor’s glowing notes about the submitted story. After wading through rejection after rejection, continuing to push through and not stop, their hard work and perseverance paid off. Their treasure was well deserved. After telling their friends and family, what better way to celebrate than to write another story?

Prose would go on to find more stories being accepted. Occasionally a rejection letter still found its way to their mailbox, but it never had the same effect on Prose that it once had. They took the criticism and moved on, just like they had done before. Stanza, on the other hand, struggled for a long time before picking the pen back up. It had taken a lot of willpower to pull themselves back together after falling so far. They found the motivation to write again, and although they had their share of rejection letters that still came, acceptance soon returned. Their confidence soon resumed, though this time with a small bit of humility.

Is this just a fairy tale? Some writing allegory? Not quite. This is actually based on a true story (though slightly exaggerated). If you’ve listened to the Fangs and Fonts podcast, you may already know that this happened to two writers in my writing group. Some of you may know them as FWG members Roland Jovaik and Tarl “Voice” Hoch. They both experienced acceptance and rejection, but both ended up handling them differently. Neither of them did anything wrong. Prose, like most new writers, had to struggle and climb higher with each new submission until they finally achieved victory. Stanza on the other side managed to knock it out of the park on the first try. This isn’t common, but it happens. Still, rejection found them both eventually, and they were forced to confront the inevitability that all writers experience. The moral of this story is that although they dealt with their rejections differently, they both pushed through and went back to writing.

The one thing missing from this story is the support of other writers. We need to be there for each other. Something I’ve seen lately is people congratulating new writers on their first rejection. This may be a weird event to see from the outside, but what we’re really saying is “Congrats on taking your first serious step in becoming published” or “Congrats on the achievement”. It takes guts to send your story out into the aether and have an editor you don’t know reject it. It hurts. And recently, I found it hurts being the editor having to reject people, too!

Rejection doesn’t feel good for anyone, but it’s inevitable within our craft. Be ready when it comes. Don’t worry, each one gets easier to take, and it’ll all be worth it when you get that glowing acceptance one day.