Writing at the End of the World

Anyone who’s had a toddler, or who’s tried to have a conversation with a parent of a toddler, is probably familiar with the following scenario:

PARENT: So tell me what’s been up with you.

FRIEND: Well, you know I quit my job at the bank–

PARENT: (calling) Jakie! Jakie, put that down. (to FRIEND) Sorry, yes. I heard you quit! So where are you now?

FRIEND: Val hooked me up with a friend of hers at GeneriTech. They were looking for a systems consultant.

PARENT: Oh, that’s fantastic. (calling) Jakie. Jakie! Leave them alone. Yes.

FRIEND: So anyway, I’ve been there a month, and–

PARENT: (getting up) I’m sorry, excuse me a moment. (walks off to corral toddler)

You can have a conversation, of course, and you can convey basic information, but it’s hard to do through constant interruptions. From the parent’s side, they’re always at least half (sometimes more) paying attention to their toddler, lest the little scamp fall into a mud puddle or find the knife collection or post embarrassing pictures to Facebook.

This is what it feels like to try to write these days.

One of the pieces of writing advice I give is that the time spent away from the keyboard is just as important as the time spent typing. Your mind has to be free to be creative, to explore possibilities and build the next scene and the next, to free associate and match weird ideas to your existing plot, to get you excited about what you’re about to write so that when you do sit down, you don’t spend that keyboard time just thinking.

(It is okay to just think at the keyboard, but obviously it’s more efficient to think elsewhere and type when you’re at the keyboard.)

This spring, I was writing the end of The War and the Fox, and I was thinking through the final battle scene. It excited me so much that I spent a whole week just turning over possibilities and discarding them, writing a little bit more each day and constantly revising. It felt great.

It’s hard to get that feeling back when the world feels like a toddler staggering toward a knife drawer and I’m on the other side of a thick glass barrier and I can’t do anything except watch, and maybe sign a petition to have someone go into the other room and divert the toddler, if that’s even possible.

(I had a list of problems going on in the world while initially writing this draft, but after two days it was already out of date, so just list off whatever insanity is happening right now.)

It’s a lot to have on one’s mind. It makes it hard to focus on the stories you’re writing because they seem so insignificant, but also worrying about the above is so stressful that sometimes you just want to play your Match-3 game of choice or your Words With Friends, or watch the latest must-see show and not think about anything.

(Or maybe write a blog post explaining how writing has been harder the last couple years.)

The practical upshot of this is that one of the things that used to come easily—thinking about and getting excited about a story I’m writing—does not come easily now. Which means that I have to spend energy making it happen. I have to remind myself to think about the story I’m writing, what happens next, what I want to say, why I’m excited about writing it. I have been trying to do that this past week with moderate success.

If this advice is helpful to my fellow writers, great. If you’re not a writer, consider this a reminder that while yes, we all need to worry about what’s happening in the world, we all also need to worry about ourselves. It’s okay to take a break to do something you enjoy, to remind yourself of why we’re so attached to this messed-up world after all.



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Intersectionality and Suppressing Conversation

Normally, I wouldn’t write a whole post about a bit of unsolicited advice on Twitter, but I’ve been thinking about this for a few days still, so here you go.

A few days ago, there was a very good article in the Guardian about racism in romance novels and the romance novel community. A small part of that highlighted a letter written to the author of a romance novel with black characters from a white romance author which read, basically, “I didn’t realize that black people fell in love; I thought it was all just sex.”

If your reaction to that is “WTF” then you’re not alone. An author I respect a lot had the same reaction, and I replied noting that the same thing has happened with gay romances:

A couple people responded and there was a discussion; the author engaged as well. One of the replies I got, though, suggested that I shouldn’t have jumped into her thread:

I really think that this suggestion was made in good faith, so please don’t go target the poster. I haven’t responded yet because I wanted to get some thoughts in order here before I do.

So the thing about this is–and again, I don’t believe that the person meant it this way–this echoes a tactic that the majority often uses to keep disadvantaged groups from gaining more power. “Yes,” they say, “racism is a problem and homophobia is a problem, but they are separate problems. Let’s not discuss them together.”

Certainly there are aspects of any marginalization that are unique. But the reason the people in power want to keep those discussions separate is that if these different groups shared their experiences, saw what they had in common, and developed empathy for each other, they would start to embrace each other’s causes. And minorities are a majority in this country. It serves the people in power better to have this group think themselves separate from this other group, neither of them interested in helping this third group.

“Intersectionality” is a term initially coined to talk about the problems women of color faced–different from white women or men of color, but related to both. It’s expanded a bit to mean any way in which the problems of disadvantaged groups overlap. Of course gay men should fight against racism because some gay men are black, right? But also, we should fight against racism because it’s wrong, and we should empathize with it because we get demonized as well. Not in the same way nor to the same extent in many areas, but enough that we should be able to empathize with people of color, women, non-Christian people, trans and non-binary people, disabled people, and any other groups pushed to the fringes. We should be able to share our stories.

Of course there are boundaries, right? Don’t jump in and make every conversation about you. But I personally will always be open to any disadvantaged people sharing their experiences and I will always want to further the conversation about how we can help all of us, not just some of us. As with anyone, there will be problems you can relate to and problems you can’t, but that doesn’t mean you can’t listen and empathize. And if someone’s having an in-depth discussion of how to handle a specific problem, use your judgment about whether your experiences are applicable or appropriate to share.

But when someone’s just literally going “WTF,” I think it’s okay to share your own “WTF” stories. And for the record, if I’m discussing homophobia or any other issues, feel free to jump in and talk about your own experiences. I want to know what everyone else is going through.

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New Story: Flight

I was wanting to write a fluffy porny story and so I started writing one. Then I was trying to figure out what world it belonged in, and it seemed to work in Argaea, so I set it there. Then I wondered how this character got to where he was in the world, and so long story short, hi, here’s a cross fox named Tryk and he lives in the jungle/savanna south of Ferrenis and Tephos with tribes of jaguars and capybaras and fruit bats and such. How did he get there? What will happen to him? That’s all probably coming in the future. For now, here he is meeting a cute fruit bat and maybe sexy hijinks ensue (okay, the story’s NSFW, hijinks definitely ensue). AmonOmega did a lovely illustration of him getting ready to test his artificial wings (nude because it’s warm there and also if you’re going to fly you need to reduce your weight).

FA: http://www.furaffinity.net/view/30236607/

SF: https://www.sofurry.com/view/1413514

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My FC Schedule

FC is just around the corner! I’m going to be spending a lot of time at the Sofawolf table in the East dealer’s room (the small one across the hall from the big one–go all the way to the back of the room and look for all the books) where you should absolutely come find copies of Ty Game or any other book and get me to sign them.

When I’m not at the table I will be doing some panels! Here is where and when to find me:

Friday, January 18

1:00pm – Marriott: Almaden
Rogues, Scalawags, and Evil Overlords – Learn how to write effective villains.
The Pen Drake • Kyell Gold

Saturday, January 19

11:00am – Marriott: Almaden
Write Now! – After a short talk about short story structure, you’ll be given a random prompt and time to start writing your own story. No more excuses!
Kyell Gold • Jakebe T. Lope

4:30pm – Hilton : Santa Clara
Adult Furry Writing [18+] – If you don’t know what this is about then you probably shouldn’t come. ;)
Teiran • The Pen Drake • Kyell Gold

Sunday, January 20

1:00pm – Marriott: Blossom Hill
Kyell Gold Reading/Q&A – I’ll read from an unpublished work and then take your questions about forthcoming books, past books, Zootopia, or whatever else you want to ask.
Kyell Gold

10:00pm – Marriott: Guadalupe
Unsheathed Live! [18+] – Our classic podcast returns!
The Pen Drake • Kyell Gold

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Ty Game e-book is out to more retailers

If you’ve been waiting to buy the Ty Game e-book at places other than this one, you should be able to find it this weekend or early next week at the latest. I’ve sent it to the major furry and non-furry retailers and it should be good to go.

PLEASE NOTE that due to past problems with explicit images, the Kindle and iTunes versions do not have one of the interior illustrations (dis one, NSFW of course) that the other versions have. Google, Kobo, and your furry retailers will have all ten interior illustrations, and if you need a Kindle version, all the furry retailers sell a fully illustrated Kindle version that will drop right into your Kindle or Kindle software or whatever.

(The calculus of which images to take out and which to leave in is a complicated one and the retailers are not consistent on it, but I’m making an effort here to be consistent with previous guidelines as best I can. Basically there’s an image I left in and one I took out and the line between them is kinda blurry but I felt it was important, and in the past it’s been important that I demonstrate a good faith effort to align with the retailer policies so that’s what I’m trying to do.)

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Midwest Furfest: My Schedule

In just over a week, we’ll be descending on Chicago (Rosemont, to be precise) for Midwest FurFest! I’m excited to be there, honored to be one of their guests this year, and looking forward to seeing all of you! If you hadn’t heard, I’ve got a new book coming out (Ty Game), so I’ll be in the dealer’s den (at my table near the main entrance or by FurPlanet/Sofawolf against the back wall).

When I’m not at the dealer den, here’s where you can find me:

Friday, November 30

11:00am: Opening Ceremonies
12:00pm: Meet the Guests of Honor
4:00pm: Shiny Sponsor Reception – Early Flight
5:30pm: What It Takes to Write: Process, Discipline, and Lifestyle

Saturday, December 1

9:30am: Sponsor Brunch
12:30pm: Get Published
4:30pm: Kyell Gold Reading/Q&A
5:30pm: Author-Ilustrator Collaboration
7:30pm: RAWR: A Furry Writing Workshop

Sunday, December 2

12:30pm: Secrets of Successful Travel w/ GOH Kyell Gold
3:30pm: A Memorial for Fred Patten
5:00pm: Closing Ceremonies

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Ty Game: Pre-order Info!


From now until November 27 (that’s in just over a week), you can pre-order my new book Ty Game and get it signed by me! I’ll be flying out to Minnesota next week JUST to sign all these books you order because I love you all and want you to be happy.

If you’re going to MFF, you can pick up your pre-order there, OR you can just buy one there. I’ve got a lot of panels to do, but you should be able to find me at the dealer’s table when I’m not at the panels (schedule forthcoming or you can just look me up on MFF’s Sched.org). Both artists who worked with me on this book, :iconrukis: and :iconneverwolf:, will be at MFF as well, and originals of some of the interiors will be in the art show there.

The blog post linked above has all the details for this pre-order. E-books and audiobooks and all that other stuff that is not part of this pre-order will follow the usual procedures for my books, and of course will also be announced on this space when they happen. We are not doing a hardcover edition of this book, so paperback only.

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Fantastic Beasts: The Crimes of Prequels

I have a pet peeve with prequels and it was only after watching “Fantastic Beasts: The Crimes of Grindewold” that I was able to pin down what specifically bothered me about it. So here’s a mostly spoiler-free review along with my pet peeve and why I think it signals bad writing.

I liked the first Fantastic Beasts movie quite a bit. All the main characters were well written and well acted, and the Newt-Tina-Queenie-Jacob quartet were charming enough to carry me through the hiccups caused by trying to jam their story in with the story of the Obscurus that was terrorizing New York. But the neatest thing about it was how much bigger it made the Harry Potter world. We moved to a new city in a new country on a new continent nearly a hundred years ago, and so there was a sense of discovery much like when Harry goes to Hogsmeade for the first time, or to the World Cup of Quidditch. We were getting a glimpse into a part of the world that had always existed but we were just seeing for the first time.

The second movie continues the story–of Grindewald, who showed up at the very end of the first movie after being a background character who might just have been thrown in for flavor in the rest of it. Oh yes, we also get to see what Newt’s been up to (not much) and meet a young Dumbledore, a Lestrange, a young McGonagall…and a couple other people with ties to the Harry Potter books that I won’t mention because (maybe) spoilers, even though one of them was one of the most useless characters I’ve ever seen get so much screen time in a movie.

Are you starting to see what’s bothering me here? (I mean, apart from getting maybe a first act for the story of the four main characters of the first movie, the ones I liked.) This movie, far more than the first, pushes into your face all the connections with the Harry Potter books. Remember the Lestranges, y’all? There’s even a scene with a student in which the movie takes pains to let you know his name is McClaggen. OMG! It’s Cormac McClaggen’s grandfather probably! Does he do anything in the movie? No.

A little of this is fun. I do it in side stories and prequel stories I’ve written. But when there are so many people with ties to the main work, it makes the world feel smaller. It’s ironic that WB is starting to push the “Wizarding World” brand to expand this world beyond Harry Potter with a movie that shrinks the scope of the world in this way. We go to Paris! Do we meet any French magicians of note? We do not. The French Ministry of Magic is cool as a set for the British and American wizards to run around in. Ditto Paris.

A piece of advice I got from Kij Johnson’s novel workshop was: strive to make your world feel larger. Very often I fall into the trap of writing the story about my main character(s) and a couple of their friends. But I (and hopefully you) interact with a lot more people just on a daily basis, especially in today’s world. I have interacted today with nine of my Telegram chats, some of which include multiple people. Just today!

The same advice holds when moving around in time. If you were writing a prequel to your own life, say your high school or college years (I’m aware that for many of you those are not nearly as far in the past as they are for me; just bear with me), would the characters be the same as the ones in your life now? Some would, sure: your best friends, your family. But I’m willing to bet that in general, the people you talk to on a regular basis have changed over the last five years, ten years, twenty years. The same should go for your story.

All that said, the movie was a lot of fun. We saw it in 3D with Dolby Atmos sound and it was delightfully immersive. I still like Eddie Redmayne’s performance of Newt quite a bit, and I like the Harry Potter world a lot. As I noted on Twitter, I would like to know what Grindewold’s crimes actually are, given they felt them important enough to make a title out of, and I’d like to know what he stands for other than the rather vaguely threatening “freedom” he goes on about. Plotwise the movie doesn’t give you a whole lot to hold on to; it’s a lot of assumption that you get that this guy is Bad and must be stopped, and that this other guy is Driven. If you examine it too closely, a lot of it falls apart (for two magicians, Newt and Tina have apparently been terrible at actually keeping in touch), and there are points where the editing is noticeable for its faults. But there are a lot of clever lines, and a lot of good actors doing Good Actor Things, and of course the movie is gorgeously shot and composed. There are new Fantastic Beasts and familiar favorites, there are new spells and familiar ones. If you like the Harry Potter world–sorry, the “Wizarding World”–you’ll probably enjoy this movie, pet peeve or no.

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Ty Game off to Sofawolf

I haven’t been blogging much lately. Partly that’s because I was traveling over the summer, and when I got home I was working on the books that need to be ready for MFF, plus the other stuff I’m going to have to do as GOH of that convention (I co-authored a nifty conbook story!).

The reason I’m blogging now is that one of those tasks is more or less off my plate. I delivered the manuscript of Ty Game, the spinoff novel from the Out of Position series, to Sofawolf today, and the art seems to be on track, so hopefully we will be ready to release it at MFF! Keep an eye on my social media and Sofawolf’s, because we’ll almost certainly offer a pre-order once we have a delivery date. So even if you won’t be going to the con, you’ll get a signed copy. E-books will be on baddogbooks.com right around MFF and on other retailers in January (I’m going to predict in advance that furry retailers will be your best bet for this book, because Neverwolf’s done some fantastic illos, including a couple that are possibly a little too risqué for mainstream retailers, but we’ll see who complains…). No audiobook plans yet. The print version will be paperback only, I believe–no hardcover.

If you haven’t heard about Ty Game, well, you should be reading my newsletter (http://bit.ly/kyellmail). Briefly, it’s the story of Ty Nakamura, who might be familiar to you from the OOP series, and especially one or two scenes from Over Time. You’ll get to see those scenes from his point of view as well as what led up to them and what happened after, plus a whole lot more. Interior illos are by Neverwolf, who is showing them off on his Patreon (https://www.patreon.com/theneverwolf/posts) in advance of the book being published.

Now I’m going to finish up the draft of the new Dev and Lee book (which you can follow on my Patreon if you subscribe at the $20 level) and then start on the third Calatians book (stay tuned for how you might be able to follow that online as well…!).

It’s been a busy fall. Hope yours has been good!

(Apart from the nightmare hellscape the U.S. has become, I mean.)

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Demon and the Fox and Tales of the Firebirds e-books for sale in more places

Hey, I finally got The Demon and the Fox and Tales of the Firebirds up on iTunes, Google Play, and Kobo, in addition to Kindle and Bad Dog Books, so you can now go get them in those places. They should also be up on Jaffa Books and Rabbit Valley before long if those places are your preferred retailers.

I need to do some more work with Barnes and Noble before I can get the books up there, but I get the sense that not many of you are holding your NOOKBucks waiting for that to happen anyway.

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