Super-Short Storytime: “Emergency”

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Welcome to Super-Short Storytime, lovers of literature and fans of fiction!  I am Eduardo Soliz, the composer and narrator of the supremely silly tale that you are about to hear.

If there is one thing that steampunks and furries have in common, it’s that members of both groups love to parade about in their finest fictional fashion.  A pair of fur-bearing blue-bloods try to handle a real crisis in this steam-powered story that I call: “Emergency”


“Brace yourself, my dear!” The gentlewolf yelled to his mistress as the airship began to slowly list to one side.  In response, Muffy reached to grab onto a large pipe that was near to her, but the arctic fox woman immediately released it due to its extreme heat.

“Ah!  Monty, it’s too hot!” Muffy exclaimed, backing away from the pipe.  She shook her singed white paws in the air and blew on them before making her way over to Monty.

Lord Montague adjusted his monocle before looking over the many needles, indicators, numbers and controls at his disposal.  The more he looked at them, the less sense they made.  The room began to shake as the airship’s engines struggled to keep it aloft.

Monty’s voice took on an air of desperation:  “I have tried everything, my dear Muffy, but nothing appears to be working!  Perhaps this one?  Or maybe this one?”  He said, randomly pressing buttons, pulling levers and turning knobs in vain.  A whistle sounded as the intensity of the shaking increased.  Having reached Monty, Muffy pulled him away from the engine controls.

“Oh, Monty, my love!  It is a shame that our young lives must come to an end like this!  Let us share one last kiss as we hurtle to our doom!”  Muffy cried.  She held onto Monty tightly, tears welling in her eyes.

“Yes, my love!  We shall take our forbidden love to the world that lies beyond this one!”  Monty replied.  He and Muffy embraced deeply as warning bells and whistles sounded in protest around them.

A door then suddenly burst open and a short female dog ran into the control room.  She had light brown fur, floppy ears and wore denim overalls that were soiled with oil and grease.  She growled upon catching sight of the amorous aristocrats, who ignored her as they kissed.

“I swear, I can’t eat dinner or take a nap without you blasted bluebloods coming down here and tamperin’ with MY engines!!” the young engineer exclaimed as she walked over to the engine controls.  After looking over a row of gauges, the engineer began to quickly adjust the controls, her paws expertly flipping switches, turning dials and pressing buttons with the grace of a concert pianist.  The whistles and bells went silent and the ship’s shaking and listing gradually ceased.  Satisfied that all was well, the engineer turned to the young couple, whom had broken their embrace, but were still in each other’s arms.

“What in the Sam Hill were y’all thinkin’?” She angrily yelled at them. “This here engine is a delly-cate machine that should only be operated on by experts like me!  The next passenger that I catch sneaking around in here is a-goin’ to get hogtied and thrown into the cargo hold!  NOW GIT!!” she told them as she pointed to an exit.

“You mean to tell me you are not an engineer, Monty?” Muffy asked with a disgusted look on her face as she removed herself from Monty’s arms and started to walk towards the exit.

“Well…uh…no?”   Monty replied half-heartedly.  “Muffy!  Come back!” he cried as he chased his now-former mistress.

The exasperated engineer wiped her forehead and hands with a handkerchief and sighed with relief as the outer door closed behind Monty.  She then said, to no one in particular:

“How about that Mister Fancypants thinking he’s a steam engineer!   What kind of engineer dresses up in their Sunday best to go to work?”

THE END

While clothes might make the man, listeners, they don’t necessarily make him a smart one.  This been Super-Short Storytime, For more tiny tales, visit eduardo soliz dot com, and remember listeners, the past just isn’t what it used to be!

Adventures in Self-Publishing : Cover Stories

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It’ll do

I am not a visual person by any stretch of the imagination.

When I was in college studying computer science back in the 90’s, people would occasionally ask me if I could make websites for them.  The conversation would go something like this:

Person: “Can you make a website for me?”
Me: “Yeah, I can code one, but it’s going to look like a computer guy made it.”
“What do you mean?”
“It’s going to look terrible.”
So yeah, I didn’t make any websites.

Given that I’m self-aware of my lack of design sense, I don’t know what possessed me to make my own book covers when I started self-publishing short story collections.  It comes even more perplexing considering that I knew artists that could do quality artwork.  Ego may have had something to do with it; the notion of doing everything on my own.  Maybe I didn’t want to pay for art at the time.  Whatever the reason, I figured some text on a solid color background would be good enough.  I did three covers like that, and it honestly only worked for The Rules of Tech Support.

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A picture! Yay!

I like to think I made the most of my limited skills with my Nine to Five Lives ‘clock face,’ but that may have been too clever for its own good considering its low sales (it’s free now!).

At that point I figured it was time to get some actual artwork done.  My friend Damon Cone provided some artwork for Con Fluff 1, which I used to make a faux ‘con badge.’  I thought about making similar ones as promotional items for the book.  That never happened, but it remains an interesting idea for future use.  The character on the cover is me, which seems a little conceited, but at the same time, why the heck not?

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SO PRETTY

I commissioned an artist friend who goes by Padunk for Con Fluff 2 and she knocked it out of the park.  She was also kind enough to put the title text on the artwork, which made it look really nice.  Future volumes have also featured artwork, and with the exception of The Rules of Tech Support, most of my collections featuring my early awful covers have been put off-sale, though you can still see them here.

While I have been happy with all of the artwork (Faeries, Fantasies, and Furries is another favorite) there are a few that need a do-over:  As the first book in the series, I don’t want to pull Seven Super-Short Sci-Fi Stories, but it does need a facelift.  Funny Animals, Funny People kind-of works, but I have a better concept in mind I’d like to see for it.  I took the easy way out with Fuzzy Words by plastering a picture into the middle of a (wait for it) solid colored background.

I’ve since commissioned new cover art for the printed version of Fuzzy Words from an artist named TinyBunner.  After spending the day arguing with CreateSpace I think everything is ready to go for printed copies.  I’m very excited at the prospect of having an actual printed book, but that’s a post for another day.

92 Things I Noticed at Texas Furry Fiesta 2015

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Don’t spill the Chemical X!

Texas’ only furcon, Furry Fiesta, took place last weekend from Feb 20-22 and I had a ball.  So, without fur-ther ado:

    1. PRE-TRIP/THURSDAY: Never been on a 4-day trip that didn’t involve a tent before, time to upgrade my luggage.
    2. Nothing like that ‘did I forget to pack anything’ feeling, luckily there’s a Wally Martinez (Wal-Mart) near the hotel.
    3. Weight on Thursday morning: 267 Hope I don’t spend half the event pulling up my pants like at PAX South.
    4. Then again, that wouldn’t be so terrible 😉
    5. Thing I almost forgot #1-Nintendo 3DS, Thanks, Oscar!
    6. Thing I almost forgot #2-Cologne. Insert joke about ‘no female furries’ here
    7. Thing I almost forgot #3- Apparently my insurance card expired last October.  Oops!
    8. Thing I did forget #1: Ballcap for my Soos cosplay. Doh!
    9. Didn’t drink caffeine in purpose on the way up, finally had to succumb and stop at the Czech Stop for a soda.
    10. And some kolaches.  Mmm, good!
    11. New duffel bag has wheels…I feel so WHITE rolling it around.
    12. I was recognized by someone in the reg line and couldn’t figure out who it was until I heard his furry name.
    13. Felt honored to call Nuka “Doctor” for the first time.  Congrats!
    14. Room is on the 9th floor. Well, I did say I needed exercise XP
    15. Full-color conbook!  Is niiiice!
    16. A friend said the conbook was in color last year but I didn’t care because I didn’t have a story in it
    17. Yay, a fridge in the room…already stocked with overpriced items…BOO
    18. Karma FTL: Joked about the first guy in reg line being their guinea pig, then I ended up being the guinea pig when I upgraded to Super Sponsor.
    19. Prediction: Lots of angel dragons this year.
    20. Private joke: Wolfboy was denied chocolate chip waffles at Waffle House, dude just has bad luck with chocolate.
    21. Waffle House was great!  Now I have another place to stop at when I’m in Austin.
    22. Bad timing though, we bought a total of 15 people there and there were only 2 workers.
    23. They did an admirable job, though!
    24. FRIDAY: Had to get the genuine Waffle House experience the next morning after we swamped them on Thursday night.
    25. Bought a clip-on tie for a cosplay thinking it would be quicker, but it’s more trouble than a real one >.<
    26. Cap or ears with cosplay? Ears, of course.  Ignore #8
    27. It says something when Wally Martinez runs out of bags!
    28. Dafuzz is up with no trash cans on the first floor of the hotel?
    29. The magic is routinely being broken here. I has a sad.
    30. Feel funny hanging my ears on my rear view mirror like they’re fuzzy dice or something.
    31. Semi-retired my ears until I figure out a better way to wear them.
    32. “I’m sleepy” “Drink some coffee” “I don’t drink coffee” “There’s no better time to start!”
    33. Took a quick peek in the adult section of the art auction, funny how the quality of the art dropped a little.
    34. The Corral sends to be much improved this year.
    35. I gave away paper copies of one of my books to a few folks and it felt good, I hope the recipients enjoy them.
    36. Had to abandon my lanyard because my badge was blocking my shirt…oh no, I’ve become one of THOSE cosplayers
    37. Two researchers at the con means two surveys to do. I haven’t had this much homework to do since college!
    38. Obligatory work-related item: Saw a tech-sounding name on a building and the first thought that popped in my head was “Are they hiring?”
    39. Got bumped in the head by a fursuiter at the Bucktown Tiger performance but it was okay, he was padded.
    40. I kinda want to knee people that carry speakers playing music in the nards.
    41. Learned some photography stuff from a ‘fur-tographer’ 😀

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      #41
    42. Heard someone use the phrase “home grown country boy.”  Is there any other kind?
    43. What is a fursuiter without a fursuit at a furry con? Very very sad.  Dude got better, though.
    44. Thing I could have gone the rest of my life without seeing: Tingle-styled zentai suit.  MY EYES
    45. Elevator-con didn’t happen for me, there were a few waits, but they were reasonable.  Kudos!
    46. SATURDAY: “I’m gonna dress as Professor Utonium” “Will you have three girls?” “No, but this is a con, they’ll be around” “Yeah but they won’t be girls” /facepaw
    47. When doing a panel, make it more about the topic, and less about you.
    48. Hell, at least have an outline.  The last time I went to a panel that was that bad it was held by teenagers.
    49. Heard a bird cawing outside, not sure if actual bird or attendee
    50. It says something when I sneeze in the hotel room and someone walking in the hall says “Bless you”
    51. New thing I’m not sure about: Someone had a friend do a badge of their ‘fruitsona.’
    52. Two people have referred to me as Uncle Kage. Not sure it’s complimentary
    53. After my camera battery conked out last year, I used my iPad mini to record the fursuit parade.
    54. …in landscape.  I didn’t want to be THAT guy again.
    55. Got to portray a not-very-nice executive during the voice over panel. That was easy.
    56. Nothing like that NOOOO moment when you realize your 3DS wifi has been off for the last few hours >.<
    57. Next time I think I’ll try a room at the hotel next door because reasons.
    58. Parking Idea: Paint one side of the parking barriers red so people know not to park next to them.
    59. Parking Idea #2: Take the back way through the overflow parking onto Quorum, much faster to get to Belt Line Road or the shopping center across the freeway
    60. Got fur-tobombed while getting my picture taken with a friend, lol
    61. Thing I forgot #2: Small ice chest to store/chill drinks
    62. Wore a lab coat for a costume on Saturday (see above) and kinda liked it, especially the pockets!
    63. SUNDAY:  Still no bags at Wal-Mart? Get it together, people!
    64. Awesome idea: Use cardboard priority mail envelopes from USPS for prints to keep them fresh and un-bent
    65. Boston Market’s 3-person meal could have easily fed 4 but SO GOOOD
    66. Whispered “I don’t read Gold Digger” to the Antarctic Press guy because Fred Perry was right there.
    67. I did buy (and enjoyed) two of his other comics and Furry Tales, though!
    68. Eyeball con: Some wag went around sticking googly eyes onto random things and apparently having pupils on fursuits is not cool anymore.
    69. I was right about the angel dragons, but the ‘no pupils for fursuits’ thing is a mite weird.
    70. Van Morrison’s “Moondance” got stuck in my head after hearing it during the jazz performance Saturday night
    71. That’s not a bad thing, BUT I DON’T KNOW THE WORDS >.<
    72. Whenever I see musicians play live, it makes me miss being in a band *sigh*
    73. Had an impromptu “Be Prepared” singing session in the car and realized I’d forgotten most of the words
    74. From Sunday afternoon afterwards the con was pretty cool, seemed like most of the hyperactive kids had left.
    75. MONDAY / POST-TRIP: Woke up Monday to see a layer of snow outside…CRAP
    76. Okay, ice. I’ve spent 99.999% of my life south of San Antonio and know not of such things 😛
    77. Got some neat “furries in the ice” pictures though!
    78. You don’t know which shoes are good for ice until you actualy have ICE
    79. Well at least I wasn’t wearing sandals.

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      #79
    80. For being a small con, I didn’t see some folks on some days. Odd.
    81. Found a phone, how do we find the owner? Fursuit picture on the home screen of course!
    82. Drive home had a few harrowing moments at the start, but once we left Dallas things were fine.
    83. Still fuzzing cold, though; the Excelsior (my CR-V) still had ice on it when I got home.
    84. Took over 200 pictures during the con, holy cats!
    85. Bye bye, backpack, hello super-sponsor messenger bag.
    86. Not looking forward to seeing how many FA notifications I have pending.
    87. Or work emails for that matter.
    88. Aww #1: No calendar this year.
    89. Aww #2: Didn’t get to wear my “Do not feed the bears” shirt.
    90. Realization upon cleaning out backpack: I have way too many chargers and cables
    91. Weight on Tuesday morning: 268…so why are my pants so bleeping baggy?
    92. Saw a Krystal cosplayer and thought: “Hey, a place where Krystal CAN enjoy her sandwich!

Earth-Mine

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When I started writing fiction, I didn’t give much thought into linking my short stories together or having them take place in a shared universe.  As time went on, I did find myself putting some of them into a few distinct worlds:

“Earth Prime” is our home-sweet-dimension, and given that the majority of my stories involve some combination of furries, super-science, and fantasy, I don’t know that many of them actually take place here.   I do have a few sci-fi stories that take place ‘twenty minutes into the future,’ that is, near enough for us to relate to them (I hope!).

“Earth-F” is a parallel version of our world inhabited by furries.  These stories tend to be humorous and I like to ‘Hanna-Barbera’ the names in those stories.  For example, in a story that took place in a television studio, an older character referred to old-time TV stars such as “Mewcille Ball” and “Droopy Sales.”  I know, I know!

On “Earth H-minus” mankind has destroyed itself in what becomes known as the “Final War” and after their intelligence has been increased due to increased mutations, the furries eventually inherit the Earth.  One as-yet unpublished story takes places in a period where humans and furries coexist, though not harmoniously.  Society is eventually rebuilt by the furries but I haven’t quite hammered out the predator/prey relationship rules yet or if the humans were completely eradicated.  Yeah, its not exactly a happy place.

The ‘Enchanted Forest’ stories obviously happen in a fantasy world, but I haven’t done much there (like come up with a clever name) though it has been established that magic does have limits.  For now, anyway.

I should probably sit down and figure out just where all my stories fit, because inevitably some reader out there is going to try to ‘connect the dots’ and completely screw it up.  Well, assuming I haven’t already!  😀

Click here if you’d like to read some of those stories!

RANDOM REVIEW: 2013 A.D.

2013As the final hours of the year tick away, I have to say that 2013 was a really good one for me.

After years of dealing with apartments and all that malarkey, I broke down and bought a house.  Home ownership has been pretty awesome so far: I went from one-bedroom apartments to a two-bedroom house with a garage and a huge backyard and rabbits and I can barbeque and have friends over and I love it.  Given the age of the house, home repairs and replacing things will eventually come but for now its been smooth sailing.

On the e-book front, I decided to try to sell printed copies of my work at a few conventions and events and failed spectacularly, at least from a business standpoint.  I can count my total sales on my hands.  People just don’t read much anymore, or at least not the types of folks that go to anime or furry conventions.  On the plus side, I did get to talk to lots of folks, present some panels and if nothing else, hopefully inspire some folks to ‘go it alone’ themselves.  I only published one new e-book (should have been two, but life and all that) and definitely need to up my output next year.

2013 was a fun year of conventions, camping, writing, video games, furries, cookies, home maintenance and most importantly, friends and family. I am optimistic that 2014 will be even better; my goal is to compete at least two story collections as well as the follow-up to “The Rules of Tech Support,” which is my best-seller so far.  I am also hoping to attend some new conventions, make new friends, and well, get some work done on the house.  So without any further ado:

MISSION START!

The Long and Winding Words

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My last e-book “Con Fluff 1: 2012 Furry Convention Short Story Collection” was released seven months ago, and as the 2013 edition won’t be ready for a few months at the minimum, I feel the need to get another e-book out into the wild.  My (virtual) stack of unpublished short stories has been growing and I’m pretty sure that I have enough of them to assemble another e-book.

Since my stories are very short, I have to round up a few in order to assemble a collection of decent length.  One early lesson I learned in my Adventures in Self-Publishing is that five stories was not enough content for 99 cents, as evidenced by the thud that ‘One Sheet Stories’ and ‘FlipSide Stories’ made in their respective marketplaces.  Luckily, people are buying the longer collections I’ve produced since so I think I’ve figured out how much stuff is enough.

The stories themselves are another matter, though.  The longest anything I’ve ever written was about 12 pages.  It also took me a little while to get over my habit of keeping stories about a page long due to printing constraints back in the First Storm Manga days.  Even when I have a hard limit to work with, I try not to think about length, but even then I’m pretty sure that the thought of ‘is it long enough’ rattles around somewhere in my subconscious.

I don’t know that I have a Great American Novel in me but I’d like to write one eventually.  Time will tell!

Everybody Dies…Or Not!

writingbearWhenever I write a short story with the intention of submitting it to a conbook, I have a tendency to want to write a happy or silly story.  I’m not sure why, though it may have something to do with the overall fun atmosphere that I see at conventions.  Nearly every large gathering of nerds that I have been to have been joyous experiences, regardless of the flavor of nerds that are present.

Unfortunately, “stories write themselves,” so that happy story might turn into one that is not-so-happy because I had some bad Mexican food or something.  When this happens, I will end up either rewriting the story to make it ‘happy’ or shelve it completely in favor of a happy one.  I have even had a few instances where I ended up with TWO stories that diverge at a certain point and at othertimes I’m satisfied with the happy story and abandon the other one.

I just feel odd sending a story that doesn’t end with a happy ending or a punchline into such a happy place.  I should probably get over it.  After all, I don’t think anybody actually reads conbook stories at the con because they’re too busy having fun!