Editorial: On Words (repost)

You’ll have to forgive your self-indulgent author, today. Every year, around this time, I get very maudlin. Part of it is the big change in my life around work that happened a while back, part of it is that lasting sense of “this is when the school year begins”, and part of it is grief.

In my Kaddish article these many years ago, I talk about the Mourner’s Kaddish, a prayer said after the death of one’s parents. It’s spoken daily for eleven months, and then yearly on the anniversary of the death. It’s said in order to ease the burden of grief over time so that it does not remain an overwhelming force in life.

Would that I had the faith to let go. Still, no harm in trying.

So, in that vein, on this anniversary, yit’gadal v’yit’kadash sh’mei raba…

Five years ago, on September 6th, a friend of mine passed away.

I’d not really had all that much exposure to death before that, if I’m honest. My step-adoptive-grandfather died when I was fairly young, and all I really remember out of that was the funeral, and inheriting a small medal he’d won from Colorado State University, something about soil science and geology. After that, I had dream after dream about what winning that medal must’ve been like, walking through some grand oaken hall to receive a pewter medal on a velvet pillow. That I later attended CSU, and that CSU had no oaken halls as in my dreams, always left me vaguely disappointed.

Other than that, my brush with mortality was limited to my grandmother, who passed some time later. The unfortunate part of her passing was that, for years before, she had been deep in a mire of dementia that left her a pallid shadow of her former self. From her, I remember that a lot of our final interactions were beset by confusion, frustration, and tears. “You’re [my mom]’s son, right?” she asked in the airport. She repeated the question seven or eight times, being sure, each time, to comfort herself that the person pushing her wheelchair was someone known to her.

My mom and I had flown out to see her as she got settled into a final stage of her life in Charlotte, North Carolina. My mom flew out to see her one more time before she died, but, after a long talk, it was decided that I would stay home. “I can’t handle it. I can’t be in that role again,” I pleaded, and my mom let me stay with my dad while she flew out of town.

Continue reading Editorial: On Words (repost)

Call for Submissions: The Third [adjective][species] Poetry Collection

We are proud to announce the Third [adjective][species] Poetry Collection! We have run two such collections before, one in 2015 and one in 2016, and are looking to continue the tradition of featuring some of the fandom’s poets here on the site.

As with last year, we are looking to feature poems with a specific focus. This year’s theme will be community and belonging. Poems can be about furry itself, or about animals (anthro and otherwise), but must include at least some mention of animals or furry. There are many excellent poets out there in the subculture, and we’d love to showcase their work here!

 

The fine print on what to send:

Continue reading Call for Submissions: The Third [adjective][species] Poetry Collection

Furry Non-Fiction Giveaway

There are a lot of writers within the fandom. By our estimates, something like 40% of furries consider themselves writers of a sort. That can mean a lot of things, of course. It could mean that the writer is someone who spends a lot of time writing stories and novels, or it could mean someone who writes one or two non-fiction articles a year for a website with a random wolf mascot.

Either way, there’s a lot of words out there, which can be attested to by the number of furry and furry-friendly publishing houses that have cropped up. One of those houses is Thurston Howl Publications, with whom I work as an editor. The thing that got me interested in working with THP was its anthology Furries Among Us. The first book was an excellent collection of essays on furry – what made it up, what furries did, who was a furry, and so on.

Howl invited me to participate in the second volume, so I had the chance to write a longer article than I normally do. It involves data and gender, to absolutely no one’s surprise ever.

Well, that second volume just came out! You can find it on Amazon for the wallet-friendly price of $7.99.

In a shameless attempt to boost furry non-fiction within and around the fandom, [a][s] is happy to offer a giveaway! Keep an eye on our twitter for the link – there will be ten copies up for grabs, first come, first serve. Note that the link is only applicable for the continental US – Amazon’s restriction, not ours, alas.

While you’re at it, check out Thurston Howl Publications on the web and on twitter.

Furry Migration, The Furry Writers’ Guild, and [a][s]

Howwwwwwdy!

This year, August 25-27, Furry Migration will be taking place in Minneapolis, MN! The guests of honor include voice actor and comedian Malcom Ray, artist Talenshi, and *drumroll* The Furry Writers’ Guild! The Guild’s mission is to support, inform, elevate, and promote quality anthropomorphic fiction and its creators.

I’m posting this here for two and one third reasons.

Continue reading Furry Migration, The Furry Writers’ Guild, and [a][s]

Species, Gender, and Data

One of the neat things about identity is the fact that a shared identity can lead to a community.

This is the way furry works, after all. A bunch of folks all around the world started identifying with this thing. Maybe they identify as folks who see themselves as something other than human. Or maybe they identify as someone who really likes art of anthropomorphic animals. There’s a lot of different ways to approach the topic of anthropomorphics.

Getting a bunch of folks together with a shared identity takes a lot of organization. That is, unless you’ve got the internet.

Suddenly, we start to see a community cohere out of shared identity. It’s a strange attractor of sorts: folks who are outside furry but share that identity are drawn in, making the sense of community more appealing to those outside, yet still have the shared identity.

Similar things happen within the LGBT community. Parties, gay clubs, and pride parades are some of the most visible aspects of this, of course. Still, much the same happens with trans folk. There are whole houses and communities of trans people in the embodied world, and online, the community becomes even grander. We talk of the gender cascade or the transplosion, the idea of “the act of seeing in others that portion of identity we find within ourselves that lends the greatest validation to our membership”. Seeing others live happily embracing their identity makes it easier to embrace our own identity.

Now, come with me on a short diversion through furry fiction.

Continue reading Species, Gender, and Data

Engagement II: Electric Floofaloo

Over the last few weeks, I’ve had a lot of good conversations about [a][s], what it means, and how best to engage with it.

A lot of those conversations boil down to one core topic, and that topic falls out into one lesson. That is, [a][s] provides what many feel is an important resource. There is a wealth of data, a wealth of ideas, and probably at least three more articles on gender Makyo can write (ohoho…just you wait until tomorrow!). The lesson that comes out of this is that the project should never – indeed, few projects should ever – continue out of a sense of obligation.

Our esteemed Phil Geusz wrote me privately to share his thoughts on this, and brought up some very good points about what goes into running a project. It takes time, steady effort, and dedication. None of what I said two weeks ago is negated: I need to find a healthy level with which to engage (something that falls squarely on my shoulders), and I will gladly accept all the help I can get. Additionally, it could be that the site does need change: the articles and data, through the poll, form a core part of the project, but our voice and scope ought to be continually evaluated.

So let’s keep going. We have more than 41,000 responses to the Furry Poll to plow through and, as my work on tomorrow’s post shows, far more data than shows up when we just search for longitudinal responses, as we have in the past. When you add in the fact that the IARP also has a wealth of data, we have our work cut out for us. Plus, furry remains delightfully weird, so we’ll have no shortage of thinkpieces and longreads to toss out there.

Thank you all for your tireless patience, and if you have an idea for an article you’d like to pitch, do remember that our submissions are always open.

Engagement

*tap tap* This thing on?

Oh, yes, hi! It’s been a while, hasn’t it?

A long while.

The last post of substance was by Howl back in January. My last post was…oh gosh. September 7th, last year. Ten months was an awful long time ago.

In that time, I’ve received several emails about the state of [a][s]. One of them dubbed this period “The Quiet”, which I feel is pretty accurate, even if it makes me feel a little sad.

Those emails have sat in my inbox. I’ve read them all. Each has three or four drafts prepared for it, none of which I’ve had the wherewithal to send. They’re just there, staring me right in the eye every day – I have four active email accounts, which are tiled neatly in a pinned browser tab, and [a][s] was bottom-left. It was there. Just a big, accusatory Draft.

There are even a few emails stuck in there with more in-depth questions: queries, of sorts, for the publication of articles. Each of those has been ticked with a star, GMail’s nifty way of saying, “this is important, you should probably get to it, soon.”

Sigh.

Oh, and then there’s the furry poll.

Ah jeez.

So, I owe everyone a serious, serious apology. I’ve let a lot of folks down, not least of which myself. [adjective][species] is a labor of love for me, as it is and was for so many others, and letting it fall apart like this does everyone a disservice.

Let’s sit down and see what happened, and figure out ways to fix it. Makyo’s good at a lot of things, and talking something to death is definitely one of them.

Continue reading Engagement

Participants needed for a new survey!

As in the past, we’ve worked with the International Anthropomorphic Research Project, and we occasionally receive news of a survey or study they or related researchers are conducting.

The following comes from Moses Simpson

I’m a Masters student from the University of Waikato and I’m doing research into the mental health and protective factors of the furry community.

This research draws from work done by the IARP and adds an investigation into how being within the furry community can be a predictor factor for or protective factor against mental health issues.

The survey is well-designed and understanding of the basics of the furry subculture and of mental health. And, hey, you could win an Amazon voucher for taking the survey! Sweet.

Take the survey here.

The Beauty of Small Cons

Guest post by Thurston Howl. Thurston is the editor-in-chief of Thurston Howl Publications. The author of several novels, short stories, and poems, he prides himself in the Ursa Major Award winning essay collection he edited, Furries Among Us. He received his BA in English at Vanderbilt University and his MA in English at Middle Tennessee State University. Aside from running a publishing house, he teaches English at a local college, plays piano, dances, and is actively training to be a coffee connoisseur.

Ed. note: I got so overwhelmed with other stuff that I forgot to post this! My apologies to Thurston and to his readers!

All year long, furries see it all over the social media: “3 days till AC!” “Can’t believe I’m on my way to MFF!” Or, my personal favorite, “Suffering post-con depression after that big con.” Yet, we never hear enough about the less famous small cons. Wikifur has published a list of conventions by attendee participation. It shows 55 furry cons, ranging from 58 participants to over 7,000. The arithmetic mean (average) of the participants for a con was 1,027. Yet, cons that average around that number are generally called “small cons.” I have been to more small cons than large ones. So, here I shall provide five reasons for why small cons are better—or at least, as good as—large cons.

Continue reading The Beauty of Small Cons

[adjective][species] at Further Confusion 2017

[a][s] contributors make the occasional appearance and presentation at conventions around the world (well, okay, a few cons in the US plus Confuzzled in the UK), and Further Confusion is one of our regulars! This year, [a][s] folks have a few panels at FC2017, so if any catch your eye, stop on by and say hi!

Note that times/dates are tentative until scheduling gets locked in by con staff. Bookmark this page and we’ll keep it up to date with any changes. Data was snagged from the panel system directly, but if I missed any [a][s] contributors’ panels, shoot me an email or leave a comment!

Friday

Gender and FurryMakyo – Friday, January 13 – 11:00AM-12:30PM – Hilton: Santa Clara

Both gender and furry touch on very important aspects of identity, and the fandom often provides a space in which to explore one’s gender in a safe manner. Join Makyo from Love – Sex – Fur to talk about what gender is and how it interacts with the furry subculture.

Write Now! Jakebe, Kyell – Friday, January 13 – 11:00AM-12:30PM – Marriott: Salon V

Having trouble starting that short story? We’ll present a simple structure for thinking about your story–then you’ll take half an hour to actually start writing it!

The Love – Sex – Fur Guide to Healthy Relationships Makyo – Friday, January 13 – 1:00PM-2:30PM – Marriott: Blossom Hill

Interested in what all goes into having a happy, healthy, positive relationship with you and your partners? Curious on how to make long-distance and in-person relationships work? Come join us in an open panel discussing safe and healthy relationships.

Saturday

Resources and Tech for Furry Writers Makyo, Chipotle Coyote, Blackfeather Tanfur – Saturday, January 14 – 11:00AM-12:30PM – Marriott: Almaden

There’s a dizzying array of software, hardware and resources, both online and off, for both established and aspiring writers to use. We’ll talk about our favorites (and least favorites), from Scrivener to InDesign, writing guilds to libraries, and all points between.

Exploring the Fandom Through Data Makyo – Saturday, January 14 – 1:00PM-2:30PM – Marriott: Salan I/II/III

Come join Makyo from [adjective][species] to explore what it means to be a furry using data from seven years of the Furry Survey and several other resources. We’ll investigate the demographics and interests of the fandom to see what it is that makes us who we are.

What’s Your Problem? Jakebe, Kyell, FuzzWolf, Ryan Campbell – Saturday, January 14 – 4:30PM-6:00PM – Marriott: Almaden

Your surefire story was rejected? The panelists talk about common errors (and maybe a few not-so-common ones) that get manuscripts turned away by editors.

Adult Furry Writing Kyell, Rukis, Ryan Campbell – Saturday, January 14 – 10:00PM-11:30PM – Marriott: Almaden

Adult stories are a mainstay in the furry fiction world. Listen to some experienced authors talk about how (and why) to create effective adult stories.

Sunday

Brainstorming in Real Time Jakebe, Kyell – Sunday, January 15 – 11:00AM-12:30PM – Marriott: Almaden

Don’t just stop at your first idea—it’s probably not your best idea! We’ll talk about generating ideas and show you the value of brainstorming in real time, mining for idea gold. Leave this panel with free story ideas!

Philosophy and Furry MakyoCorgi W – Sunday, January 15 – 1:00PM-2:30PM – Marriott: Salon V

Curious about the ways in which we find meaning? How do furries actualize themselves in the world? Come learn about philosophy within furry from Corgi and Makyo.

The Love – Sex – Fur Guide to Safer Sex Makyo – Sunday, January 15 – 3:00PM-4:30PM – Marriott: Blossom Hill

Interested in what all goes into having a happy, healthy, sex-positive relationship with your partners? Curious on how to stay safe while playing? Come join us in an open panel discussing safe and healthy sexuality.

Mindfulness and Transformation in Action Jakebe, Kannik – Sunday, January 15 – 3:00PM-4:30PM – Marriott: Salon V

Being present and mindful is at the heart of nearly every philosophical tradition. This workshop will introduce the fundamentals of Buddhism and Philosophical Ontology, teach some practices that are useful in diffusing and bringing possibility to everyday situations, and will end with a short mindfulness meditation.

Unsheathed Live Kyell, K. M. Hirosaki, Ryan Campbell – Sunday, January 15 – 10:00PM-11:30PM – Marriott: Almaden

Everyone’s favorite highly irregular furry writing podcast returns for a Further Confusion tradition! Join Kyell Gold, K.M. Hirosaki, Not Tube, and special guest Lady Gaga. Or a manatee.