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 One as-yet unpublished story takes places in a period where humans and furries coexist, though not harmoniously.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!
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 My (virtual) stack of unpublished short stories has been growing and I’m pretty sure that I have enough of them to assemble another e-book.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!
A spectacular failure can have the effect of dropping a big heaping scoop of self-doubt on one’s head. After failing to sell even a single paper copy of my first furry book, “Con Fluff 1,” in the Artist Alley of Furry Fiesta a few weekends ago, I found myself questioning everything I did there: my sales pitch, my table layout, pricing, and so on. The bigger question of “Am I Doing It Wrong?” has also been hanging over my head since then.
A friend recently made the observation that I was incorrectly trying to sell clean stories to an audience that was not interested in them. Given how I joke with friends about how some furry art sites don’t update until you turn off their “not safe for work” filter, I’m hardly in a position to disagree. A little part of me is wondering if I should cross that line and start writing erotica/smut/porn/what have you.
I’ve never written anything overtly sexual, and I don’t have much desire to…it’s just not my thing. Despite that, I now have a little nagging voice in my head telling me that if I just cross that line, I will gain a bigger audience. Oddly enough, the internal debate I am having is reminiscent of when I’ve see artist friends struggle with the question of whether to do fan art for conventions.
While doing your own thing as a creative person is very personally satisfying, it also carries some risk, especially where anime and comic book fans are concerned. Those fans have popular characters that they like and don’t often take chances on things that are different or new, especially coming from a little-known or new artist. However awesome an artist’s original creation may be, most folks are going to gravitate to the table with the cool looking Iron Man or Hetalia fanart. In the same way, I find myself wondering if folks are bypassing my works just because it is clean.
Part of the reason I don’t write smut is that I don’t think I’d be good at it, but that isn’t stopping me from considering crossing that line. The little cloud of self-doubt that’s been following me around since Furry Fiesta isn’t helping either.
I don’t know. I guess it wouldn’t hurt if things got just a little more naughty. We’ll see.
Most of my stories are written for a general audience, and so I try to avoid the use of swear words in my short stories. I also believe that cursing is for the uncreative and unoriginal. Think about it: haven’t we all cussed at one time or another because we “couldn’t think of anything better?” The problem is that there are instances where cursing just works really well and is even expected at times.
Case in point: I am currently writing a story that involves pirates…IN SPAAAACE! Just like any other self-respecting pirates, these scurvy dogs (really, they’re pirate DOGS) spit, belch, don’t bathe, threaten harmless people (or cats as the case may be) and should probably swear like sailors. Thus, I have a few options:
1) Say ‘f*** it’ and use real swear words in my story, which I don’t really want to do.
2) Borrow not-quite-swear-words from other works of fiction, like ‘frak’ from BattleStar Galactica, but I don’t want to do this either because its well, unoriginal, and I know I’m setting myself to get stuck in some “THERE’S NO FURRIES IN BATTLESTAR GALACTICA” debate down the road.
3) Use common words. This method was used often by one of my favorite writers, Isaac Asimov. When a swear was needed, his characters would say things like “Space!” or “Stars and galaxies!”
4) Just make stuff up. This is obviously the hardest one, because I’m essentially inventing new words, and I’d like for them to make sense and not look like a random jumble of letters.
I am going with #3 with a varying degree of success, and who knows, I may invent some new pseudo-cuss words, especially at work, but for now I’ll just have to punt and pepper my story with <SWEAR WORD> placeholders until I think of something better.
MATT FRANK, Y U DESTROY SAN ANTONIO?
Cover art at right by the irrevocable Matt Frank!
The first in a series of (hopefully) funny YouTube videos called “High Tech Things Said by Low Tech People” is now up. Check it out!
I’m looking forward to a fun-filled time at ChimaeraCon 2012 this weekend. I will be in Artist’s Alley handing out flyers and yammering to anyone who will listen about “The Rules of Tech Support”and my other e-books.
Speaking of ‘other e-books,’ my third one, titled “FlipSide Stories” is now available on Amazon.com and BarnesandNoble.com!
FlipSide Stories is a collection of five very short stories with Twilight Zone-ish endings:
A customer discovers that “Future Service” isn’t really for him.
A young woman spends another “Saturday Night” alone in a bar where something isn’t quite right with the patrons.
There are nerds, there are geeks, and then there is the “Freako”.
A cosplayer can’t figure out what to wear and must come to a “Decision”.
A man reunites with a crush from his college years, but “Betty’s Baby” has a surprise for him.