Of Wolf Packs, Plans, and Paddleboards

Why hello there! I have emerged from the misty forests of obscurity to share exciting news: I’ve been accepted for a master’s degree program in biology at North Carolina State University! In collaboration with the North Carolina Zoo, I will be studying critically endangered red wolves, hopefully making discoveries in the process that will benefit their welfare and survival.

Photo of a red wolf (Canis rufus)

Interestingly, NC State’s mascot is wolves, with the student body referred to as the “Wolfpack.” As a result, wolf-related things are everywhere on campus, to the point where it’s started to feel less like a coincidence and more like a wink from God, affirming that this is where I’m meant to be.

A white mug with pens and pencils in it, sitting on a desk. The mug reads "The Wolfpack owns my heart" but with a heart symbol instead of the word heart
Ceramic wolf sculpture in a glass case indoors. The plaque below reads "Raleigh Red Wolf Ramble"

I am excited about this new adventure, but also (naturally) nervous. Here I will be learning new skills, delving deeply into my research, and teaching other students about the marvels of science. I know it is going to be difficult at times. However, this weekend I received reassurance that I am capable of handling such challenges–from a very unexpected source.

As part of its welcome festivities for new and returning students, NC State held an event called Paddles and Popsicles yesterday. During this activity, students were invited to borrow a kayak, canoe, or standup paddleboard (SUP) to paddle across Lake Raleigh. I intended to borrow a kayak and enjoy a serene outing on the lake. I am very familiar with kayaks; I have my own inflatable model, and I’ve been out with it often enough to feel quite comfortable.

A photo of the bow of an inflatable kayak from the first-person view of the paddler, gliding on the waters of a lagoon, with hills full of conifers and a blue sky in the distance

However, by the time I arrived at the party, all the kayaks had already been claimed. I am also experienced with canoes, but all the canoes were taken, too. I was given two options: 1) wait for a kayak or canoe to come back, or 2) take out a standup paddleboard, a piece of equipment I had never used before.

I could have waited for a kayak or canoe, but I opted for the riskier option instead, the one which provided the greater chance for learning and growth: the standup paddleboard. At first, I only sat down to paddle, worried I would lose my balance, fall in the lake, and become the laughingstock of my peers for years to come. Eventually, though, I decided to go for it. And, to my great pride and delight, after a bit of teeter-tottering and some wet shoes and shocks, I succeeded.

The author standing on a paddleboard on Lake Raleigh, dipping an oar into the water. Trees and grass in the distance, with a cloudy sky overhead

This experience was a welcome reminder that I am much more adaptable than I tend to give myself credit for. I have always been curious and brave, and I love to explore and try new things. This open-minded inquisitiveness has both fueled my imagination as a fantasy writer and given me the keen, questioning mind of a researcher, as well as the courage to put myself in situations where others seldom tread (a field camp in Kenya! Yellowstone in the dead of winter! The Israeli desert in the middle of a pandemic! etc….).

My first day of classes is tomorrow. I look forward to this journey ahead, and I will now enter into it with much more confidence than I had before, trusting God to light my way.

GO PACK!

The author takes a selfie beside a ceramic wolf sculpture

Furry Arthurian Fantasy Tale: The Corvid King

Hark, friends! Gather round! I have exciting news to share. My short story “The Corvid King,” originally published in the anthology ROAR Volume 10, has been reprinted in my favorite e-zine, Zooscape! You can now read the story for free online, accompanied by this beautiful illustration provided by editor Mary E. Lowd:

“The Corvid King” was inspired by an obscure bit of Arthurian lore: the rumor that King Arthur would one day be reborn as a crow and return to “save his people.” After finishing T. H. White’s brilliant Arthurian series The Once and Future King this year, this story now holds even more significance for me.

You can read “The Corvid King” for free here: https://zooscape-zine.com/the-corvid-king/ I hope it will encourage you to find magic in the ordinary stuff of life. And I hope you will check out the other fantastic stories in this issue of Zooscape! See the rest of Issue 14 here: https://zooscape-zine.com/issue-14/

~*~

King Pellinore: Who is that, Arthur?

King Arthur : One of what we all are, Pelly. Less than a drop in the great, blue motion of the sunlit sea. But it seems that some of the drops sparkle, Pelly. Some of them do sparkle!

~from the musical Camelot by Alan Jay Lerner

Random Acts of Magic!

Hi, dear friends! I am excited to announce that my story “Random Acts of Magic” has been published in Daily Science Fiction today.

This story is very dear to my heart; it conveys the struggle of being your imaginative, weird, wonderful self in a world that often rewards conformity over creativity. I am thrilled to share it with you, and so grateful for all the kind comments I’ve already been receiving from readers. The chance to connect with folks like you and experience the joys of dreaming together is the reason I continue to pursue publication for my work, even when the road is long and challenging. Thank you for reminding me that my voice matters, that my stories resonate with people and are worth bringing into the world. Writing can sometimes be a struggle, but it’s a magical thing, and so very worth it.

You can read “Random Acts of Magic” for free here: https://dailysciencefiction.com/fantasy/magic-and-wizardry/amy-clare-fontaine/random-acts-of-magic

Charles Read Academy Library and Furry Titles

I am delighted to see Beyond Acacia Ridge among the other great titles on this queer pride YA bookshelf at the library of Charles Read Academy in England! It is both encouraging and humbling to see my books being enjoyed by people around the world. Thank you kindly, Huskyteer, for spreading the love of furry books! ~Amy Clare Fontaine

Furry Writers’ Guild

We would like to shout out to Huskyteer for helping to organise this.

The Charles Read Academy in the UK was seeking new YA titles for their library, with a particular focus on queer/LGBTQ+ content. Huskyteer helped arrange things with both Goal Publications and FurPlanet to get a number of furry titles included in this library. By all accounts, they have been a great success so far! The school library wasn’t even able to share a picture of all the books because they were being checked out so quickly!

Not only is it a wonderful thing to see a school library actively seek queer books for their library, but it is great to see young readers enjoying reading them as well. Thank you to the staff at Charles Read Academy for doing this, and thank you to Huskyteer for ensuring that furry fiction has been included.

https://twitter.com/CraLibrary/status/1455597392129110017

The furry titles…

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Witches, Wands, and Winged Wolves: Dogbumps Academy Now Open!

Hear ye, hear ye, magical folx! Dogbumps Academy of Wayward Wixards, a new fantasy anthology about an enchanted college that celebrates diversity, has just been published by Thurston Howl Publications!

This anthology features my short story, “The Esteemed Magixzoologist, Fakhir Saleh,” about a Black transgender magic student who conducts research on winged wolves while trying to suppress her feelings for the graduate teaching assistant of her class. You can buy it in paperback from the publisher here or from Amazon here. An ebook release should follow soon.

I hope you will enjoy my story⁠—and the other charming stories in this book!

Fox Spirit: A Two-Tailed Adventure Wins a Leo Literary Award!

Hi, my dear friends! I have exciting news. I am proud and honored to announce that Fox Spirit: A Two-Tailed Adventure, my interactive novel from Choice of Games, has received a Leo Literary Award for Novels!

The Leo Literary Awards celebrate exceptional works of literature in the furry fandom: writings that feature anthropomorphic animals. Published authors nominate works from other authors. A panel of qualified judges then evaluates each nominee, and a benchmark score from the judges wins the piece a Leo Award.

This is the first award I have ever received for my fiction or game writing. I am so thrilled and grateful that my fellow authors nominated and voted for Fox Spirit!

Thank you to Thurston Howl and all the other folks from Furry Book Review who run the Leos (especially the judges!). Thank you to Ian Madison Keller, who hand-crafted the delightful lion plushies for the awards. Thank you to the Choice of Games team for taking a chance on this story and helping it shine. And a special thank-you to all the wonderful readers (like you!) who’ve enjoyed and supported my work. You encourage me to keep sending it out into the world, like messages in bottles tossed out to sea, hoping these gifts I offer will find a place to belong.

Congratulations to all the Leo winners and nominees–including Paola Tuazon, whose cover art for Fox Spirit was also nominated! Her artwork for the game is breathtaking, and I’m so glad it graces the pages!

If you haven’t read Fox Spirit: A Two-Tailed Adventure, you may do so here. You can play the first three chapters for free before purchasing the rest. I hope you will enjoy it!

New, Free Story! The Dragon Maker

“Griselda made dragons out of words. No one knew how. One moment she’d be hunched over her desk, scribbling furiously, only stopping occasionally to dip her quill or suck on it thoughtfully, her chin lifted and her eyes somewhere else. And the next moment...

Read the rest of my new fantasy story “The Dragon Maker” for free on the e-zine Zooscape here: https://zooscape-zine.com/dragon-maker/ And be sure to check out the rest of Issue 9: https://zooscape-zine.com/issue-9/

Thank you for your interest! 🙏

Gratitude

“The place you are right now God circled on a map for you.” ~Hafiz

Hi! I know it’s been a while, but I have big news. I’ve started graduate school and moved to Israel, where I am living and working in Ein Gedi Nature Reserve. Here’s the view from our balcony, of the Dead Sea and the mountains of Jordan:

I am working in the lab of Dr. Lee Koren (https://leekoren.wixsite.com/korenlab), studying honesty in communication using rock hyraxes (Procavia capensis) as a model. Hyraxes abound at the field school where we live, and I’ve already fallen in love with these unique, fascinating mammals. Here’s a picture of my second Ein Gedi hyrax sighting, taken from our apartment’s kitchen window (the hyrax is lying on a ledge, toward the middle of the left side of the picture):

A closer look at a hyrax:

We see many other animals here, such as ibexes:

We’ve also seen foxes, and a pack of FOUR wolves! I didn’t get pictures, so have some dead ones instead (yes, there are hyenas here too, but I have yet to see one):

In short, Ein Gedi is breathtaking, and getting to live and work here is a blessing. I am grateful to be part of this incredible research project, and excited to parse the signals of nature to figure out what we can learn from them.

This opportunity means so much to me, and I’m infinitely thrilled and thankful that my life has led me here. It truly feels like a dream come true.

I know there will be hard work and challenges along the way, but I will meet them with joy and confidence, and every day I’ll remember to say… Thank You.

Foxy News! Fox Spirit: A Two-Tailed Adventure has arrived!

Hiya, friends! Today has been a whirlwind of joy. I have exciting news to share, possibly the most exciting writing-related news I’ve ever had.

Today, my interactive fantasy novel Fox Spirit: A Two-Tailed Adventure released from Choice of Games.

I’ve been working on this game since 2018. It’s been a wild ride, but a fun one, and the process has taught me so much as a writer and a human. I’m thrilled that Fox Spirit is out in the world at last. The glowing feedback I’ve already received from kind players around the world has warmed my heart and spurred me on to an even greater desire to create fantastic stories and share them with you.

This day happened thanks to a lot of great people, so I want to give them a shout-out here. A special thank-you is due to my lead editor Rebecca Slitt, for her encouragement, suggestions, and support throughout the development process, as well as the rest of the fabulous Choice of Games team. Paola Tuazon made the truly dazzling cover art, which I adore from the bottom of my heart; you can find more of Paola’s work here: https://paolatuazon.format.com/

Thank you to the creators of the gorgeous trailer (https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=_XdBLnlslP4) and the lovely chapter headings. Thank you to copyeditor Kate Lascoutx, my many beta testers, and the wonderful sensitivity reader Sachiko Burton from Salt & Sage Books. Thank you to all the players who’ve reached out to share their excitement and praise, especially Valentina Wottke from Germany who streamed the game live for four and a half hours today (and will be streaming the last chapters tomorrow starting between 9 and 10 am PST; follow Valentina’s channel here to join us then: https://www.twitch.tv/lucario162). And thank you, of course, to my family, especially my mother Beverly and my aunt Becky. Your love for my work (and me!) has kept me grounded and on track and inspired me to keep writing.

You can purchase and review Fox Spirit through the various platforms shown here: https://www.choiceofgames.com/fox-spirit/ It’s 33% off until October 22, and you can play the first three chapters (and part of the fourth) for free. You can also check out my author interview on the Choice of Games blog earlier this week: https://www.choiceofgames.com/2020/10/author-interview-amy-clare-fontaine-fox-spirit-a-two-tailed-adventure/

Thank you all so much for your support! It has truly meant the world to me.

Nowhere to Go, my new, free Twine game!

Hiya, friends! Today marks the release date of my newest free Twine game on itch.io, titled Nowhere to Go.

Nowhere to Go is an interactive fiction game about being stuck in quarantine. Find healthy ways to cope with reality or engage in avoidance behaviors. Will you uncover hope amidst your sorrow or sink deeper into grief?

You can play Nowhere to Go for free at the following link: https://fontainepen.itch.io/nowhere-to-go Please read the CONTENT WARNINGS before deciding whether to play. I hope this game will bring you some small measure of light in the darkness. Stay strong, my friends. ✨