Whiskey and Cats, Sans Pants


I recently found some much-needed writing inspiration and encouragement by way of a book by Jeff Somers called Writing Without Rules: How to Write & Sell a Novel Without Guidelines, Experts, or (Occasionally) Pants. As you might guess, this book is often silly and irreverent, filled with asides about whiskey and cats, self-deprecating jokes, and rambling footnotes. However, I found good advice and interesting food for thought in it, as well as some welcome motivation to pick up one of my unfinished novels and finish it. Plus, it’s a very entertaining read.

I must warn, however, that this book is not for everyone. Jeff’s humor and long-winded anecdotes worked well for me, but may not for others. More importantly, beginning writers should take some of Jeff Somers’s more unconventional tips with, not merely a grain, but heaps of salt. For example, in a section of the short story chapter (which is actually, cleverly, a short story itself), Jeff seems to imply that the guidelines of short story markets are flexible and needlessly complicated and can be safely ignored. As someone who has worked as an editorial assistant and slush reader for a short story magazine, I beg you, DO NOT IGNORE GUIDELINES! Doing so makes you look unprofessional and generally ensures a swift rejection. Please, please read and follow guidelines.

Luckily, as an experienced reader and submitter of short stories, I was able to see through the untenable surface implications of this passage to the point I think Jeff was trying to make, as shown in this excerpt: “One simple fact of life is that people tell you the things they wish to be. When someone tells you they’re tough, a no-nonsense person, that’s what they want you to think of them; whether it has anything to do with reality is another matter altogether. It’s the same for fiction markets. An editor will tell you they want X, but as often as not, you show them Y and they go for it.” For me, this was the takeaway: not that guidelines for genre, word count, formatting, specific details about content/themes, etc. should be ignored, but that philosophical statements in some guidelines–i.e. “We want intricate, experimental stories and poems with gorgeous prose, verve, and imagination that elicit strong emotions and challenge beliefs” (Uncanny Magazine, one of my favorite SFF short story magazines)–are more subjective and nebulous, and one need not necessarily self-reject because of them.

All this being said, Jeff states from the beginning of the book that there are as many unique paths to being a successful writer as there are writers themselves, and he mentions repeatedly that you should take any writing advice proposed by self-styled gurus, including his own, with a grain of salt, taking what works for you and leaving the rest. Personally, I adored Writing Without Rules, and it helped give me the confidence boost I needed to work on novels again. Check out my Amazon review here: https://www.amazon.com/gp/customer-reviews/R3LIELKXVTGWIR and the book itself here: https://www.amazon.com/dp/1440352925/

The Lying King

Today marks the official theatrical release of the live-action remake of Disney’s animated film The Lion King in the United States.


Check out these majestic jerks.

I have a bone to pick with The Lion King. As a kid, it was one of my favorite movies. It remains a beloved, classic film, using a wonderful score and beautifully animated talking animals to tell a tale of self-discovery and social responsibility. I still enjoy the original movie, to a certain extent. There’s just one problem: The Lion King did (and continues to do) deplorable damage to the reputation of my favorite creatures, hyenas.


Tell me I’m ugly. I dare you.

Back when I studied spotted hyenas, I wrote a whole post for the research project’s blog about The Lion King‘s misrepresentations of them. That blog post can still be read here: http://msuhyenas.blogspot.com/2016/09/the-trouble-with-lion-king.html Please don’t hesitate to share it with your friends who’ve been blinded to the truth about hyenas by The Lion King, as I was for so many years.

I for one will not be buying a ticket to the remake of The Lion King. If you’d prefer more hyena-positive media instead, please check out Sy Montgomery’s award-winning nonfiction book The Hyena Scientist (and not just because I’m in it!): https://www.amazon.com/dp/0544635116/ And if you have an interest in anthropomorphic animal fantasy à la Watership Down, feel free to also take a look at my hyena novelette Beyond Acacia Ridge: https://www.amazon.com/dp/1949768899

I hope you will do your best to spread hyena love, not hyena hate. I will step down from my soapbox now. Thank you for your time.

Research Blogs About Hyenas:



Drunk Rabbits, Foster Foxes, Jackalope Wives, and More — The Cóyotl Awards Anthology Now Up for Preorder!

The Cóyotl Awards Anthology is now available for preorder from FurPlanet Productions! Here is the preorder link: https://furplanet.com/shop/item.aspx?itemid=1060

This anthology features stories that won or were nominated for the Cóyotl Awards, which are voted on yearly by the Furry Writers’ Guild. The Furry Writers’ Guild, of which I am a proud member, exists to support, inform, elevate, and promote quality anthropomorphic animal fiction and its creators. In this spirit, the Cóyotl Awards were founded to recognize quality anthropomorphic literature.

Having read and enjoyed several of the stories in this anthology, which were written by some of my favorite authors, I can attest to their excellence. The editor of this anthology was the late Fred Patten, who unfortunately passed away before it was published. As an editor, reviewer, writer, and fan, Fred’s contributions to the field of anthropomorphic literature were invaluable. I am so grateful for all he did to support me and other writers. He will be greatly missed.

The amazing writer and editor Mary E. Lowd is the current Awards Chair for the Cóyotls. Her passion and hard work have kept them running for the past several years. Many thanks to Mary for her service to the FWG community.

My story in this anthology is “The Moon Fox,” which was first published by Cosmic Roots and Eldritch Shores and was my first Science Fiction and Fantasy Writers of America qualifying sale. It was illustrated beautifully by Fran Eisemann, as seen below (stock used in her photomanipulation: “140” by m-everham-stock and “Full Moon” by raven2663; rights for this content remain with the creators):


“The Moon Fox” was nominated for the 2017 Cóyotl Award for Best Short Story. You can read “The Moon Fox” for free at Cosmic Roots and Eldritch Shores at this link: https://cosmicrootsandeldritchshores.com/fiction-all/stories-for-young-people-from-4-to-400/the-moon-fox/ But be sure to check out The Cóyotl Awards Anthology for other award-nominated and award-winning furry stories!

Reference Links:

The Cóyotl Awards website: https://coyotlawards.org/

The Furry Writers’ Guild website: https://furrywritersguild.com/

King Arthur…is a Crow? ROAR Volume 10 Available for Preorder!

Raven Alpine

Yes, it says “Just Raven” not “Just Crowing.” Shh.

While perusing online pages about Arthurian mythology one day, I stumbled across an intriguing bit of folklore: the rumor that King Arthur, rather than dying at his final battle, was reborn as a crow and would return one day to reclaim his throne.

As an avid lover of corvids (such clever birds!), this idea captured my imagination. I pictured Arthur, with all his kingly memories and chivalrous ideals, returning in modern times as a crow—to a world that had all but forgotten him. Thus, my story “The Corvid King” was born.

“The Corvid King” was accepted for ROAR Volume 10, an anthology of anthropomorphic animal stories published by Bad Dog Books, edited by Mary E. Lowd. This anthology, centered around the theme of “community,” is now available for preorder! It is also for sale at FurPlanet’s table at the Anthrocon convention in Pittsburgh, if you happen to be there today or this weekend. Excluding a story in an out-of-print college anthology, “The Corvid King” is my twentieth published short story!

Here is the print preorder link: https://furplanet.com/shop/item.aspx?itemid=1061 Eventually an ebook version should also be available.

I hope “The Corvid King” will enchant you and rekindle your belief in magic. I look forward to reading the stories from the other fabulous authors in this book!

INSIGNIA Anthologies are FREE at Smashwords!!

The Insignia series is FREE on Smashwords this month with coupon code SS100! If you want to read seven excellent anthologies of fantasy, science fiction, and poetry with Asian characters, settings, and themes, now is your chance! Insignia: Asian Birds & Beasts (Volume 6) includes my story “The Star Ball” about a young entomologist-in-training and a kitsune who wants to take over Kyoto. Check it out-for FREE! And be sure to spread the word about the series!


Hi everyone, welcome to July!

What’s the best thing about July every year? The SMASHWORDS SUMMER SALEof course!

I’m into it this year, and putting the Insignia Series anthologies – all seven – on FREEpromo all month long !!!

It’s a great chance to fill out your collection, or recommend the series to a friend. If you’re already a fan of the series, please help spread the word. 🙂




*Enter the coupon code (under the regular price listing) to claim your free download*


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Hyenas at the Library!

Friends from Hidalgo County, Texas! Beyond Acacia Ridge is now available at the McAllen Public Library! If you have a Hidalgo County Library System card, you can check it out! Here it is in the catalog: https://hcls.tlcdelivers.com/#section=resource&resourceid=2339874866&currentIndex=0&view=fullDetailsDetailsTab

I LOVE the McAllen Public Library! I get a lot of writing and editing done there—and reading, of course! The Black Iron Café in the library is also where I discovered the magic of frappés. MPL hosts interesting events, including the McAllen Public Library Writing Circle meetings. It’s just a great place all around, and I am honored to have my book featured in their collection.

PSA: Support your local libraries and bookstores! They are important hubs for the literary scene in your community. Keep calm and hyena on.

Become a Werewolf! Build Robots! Travel the Universe! All at a Discount!

Choice of Games, the Nebula-nominated publisher of interactive fiction, is offering up to 40% discounts this week on all their games! If you’re curious about choice-based games, now is a great time to check them out!

I discovered Choice of Games last year. Since then, I’ve played more than fifteen of their titles and look forward to playing many more. Choice of Games’s interactive novels present the player with fun, interesting, and meaningful choices that shape the plot, the player character, and that character’s relationships. Each game packs a wide variety of possibilities into a single story, allowing the player to play through that same story in different ways to explore multiple pathways, strategies, and goals. With science fiction, fantasy, mystery, romance, and more in their stable of nearly 100 games, Choice of Games has an interactive novel for everyone!

Learn more about the discount in this Choice of Games blog post: https://www.choiceofgames.com/2019/06/sitewide-sale/ Happy choosing!

*Note: I am currently writing an interactive novel for Choice of Games, but I am not an employee of Choice of Games, nor was I involved in the creation of any of the games for sale this week. I am simply a player and a fan.

Goal Publications June Discount Sale

Hey everyone! To celebrate reaching 400 followers on Twitter, Goal Publications is offering a special discount in their online store for the rest of June! You can get $4 off orders of $30 or more if you use coupon code TWITTER400 at checkout!

My novelette, Beyond Acacia Ridge, is available in paperback (https://www.goalpublications.com/store/p68/beyond-acacia-ridge-print.html) and ebook (https://www.goalpublications.com/store/p72/beyond-acacia-ridge-digital.html) formats from the Goal Publications online store. Beyond Acacia Ridge is a heartwarming, exciting fantasy adventure about two spotted hyenas who go on a quest to find out where the sun goes at night.

Another book you can find at the Goal Publications storefront is The Daily Grind, an anthology of fun short stories involving anthropomorphic animals and coffee. I edited this book with Madison Keller, and it features one of my short stories, “Properly Pounced Coffee,” about a disgruntled badger and his bumbling fox butler. The Daily Grind is available in paperback (https://www.goalpublications.com/store/p46/daily-grind-print.html) and ebook (https://www.goalpublications.com/store/p65/daily-grind-digital.html) formats.

At the Goal Publications store, you can also grab a paperback (https://www.goalpublications.com/store/p3/a-glimpse-of-anthropomorphic-literature-paperback.html) or ebook (https://www.goalpublications.com/store/p73/a-glimpse-of-anthropomorphic-literature-digital.html) copy of A Glimpse of Anthropomorphic Literature. This book features short stories about anthropomorphic animal characters, as well as a few insightful reviews of books that feature such characters. A Glimpse of Anthropomorphic Literature includes my bittersweet tale “Catching the Thief,” about a singing cow, a grumpy collie, and a crafty fox.

Be sure to check out the Goal Publications storefront this month for these and other great reads! Snag your TWITTER400 discount coupon while it lasts! Thank you, as always, for your support of my work. It means the world to me.

INSIGNIA SERIES Kindle Sale: June 13-16!

There’s a sale going on! From June 13 to June 16, you can get any volume in the Insignia series of anthologies for just $1.99! This includes Volume 6 (Insignia: Asian Birds and Beasts), which features my story “The Star Ball” about an unusual boy from Kyoto and a crafty kitsune.


Hi everyone,

I think it’s time for a sale! From June 13-16, getting any anthology in The Insignia Series for just US$1.99!



*Sale price will be available for all books on all Amazon sites

Amazon USA link (to series list)

Amazon UK link (to series list)

All Amazon links to ‘Insignia: Asian Flash Fiction & Poetry’

| Amazon US | Amazon UK | Amazon AU | Amazon CA |

| Amazon DE | Amazon FR | Amazon ES |

| Amazon IT | Amazon NL | Amazon JP | Amazon BR |

| Amazon MX | Amazon IN |


View The Insignia Series on Goodreads


Our latest anthology, ‘Insignia: Asian Flash Fiction & Poetry’ was just released on June 6th. If you would like to view the list of stories and contributors, and find more purchase options, please go to the Insignia Vol.7. page on this…

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Beyond Acacia Ridge is HERE!

My second book, Beyond Acacia Ridge, is now available from Goal Publications! It features gorgeous cover art by Julian Norwood:


Straggletail is the lowest-ranking female hyena in the Eastern Plain Clan, the punching bag. Glossycoat is the clan’s princess, destined to follow in her mother’s footsteps and become the matriarch.

When the two hyenas form an unexpected alliance, they set off on a perilous journey in search of the place where the sun goes at night. They meet strange creatures, brave the forces of nature, and grapple with their own worst fears.

Will they find the sun, or will they find something more?

Direct from Publisher Purchase Options:

Paperback (currently available at a discount!): https://www.goalpublications.com/store/p68/beyond-acacia-ridge-print.html

Ebook: https://www.goalpublications.com/store/p72/beyond-acacia-ridge-digital.html

Amazon Purchase Options:

Paperback: https://www.amazon.com/dp/1949768899/

Ebook: https://www.amazon.com/dp/B07RFTR874/

Goodreads Page: https://www.goodreads.com/book/show/45627749

Live Convention Sales: If you are attending Furry Weekend Atlanta this weekend you can pick up paperback copies right at the FurPlanet table in the Dealers Den. See this map to find their table: https://twitter.com/FurPlanet/status/1126264495083610113

Many thanks to Sean Gerace for editing, formatting, and publishing this book and the late Fred Patten for inspiring me to write the story in the first place. I also owe my gratitude to the people and hyenas I met in Kenya. I hope this book will persuade others to fall in love with these marvelous mammals.