I’d like to reach out to anyone who may be interested in reading the story that I am writing.
Please take time to acquaint yourself with my gallery folder for Transpecies
as well as the information in this journal.
If you’d like to take advantage of this opportunity, you may contact me by a note to request my manuscript(s) for your perusal via an email address of yours.
If you are a long-time watcher of mine, chances are you’re most familiar with seeing my art and poetry concerning the characters. These side appearances, exploratory writings, and experimental visual adaptations have been helpful to me in developing the story and my sense of what it may become. At the same time, the plan for three years now has been to produce a prose manuscript that can eventually be commercially published as a printed novel. I reason that one suitable way to judge the feasibility of this ongoing project is to provide experimental samples of the sort of content that the story would contain in the effort to discover, assess, and learn from the potential set of readers who might be a receptive audience for the work. At the same time, a novel is its own medium. The YA (Young Adult) genre is a promising market in the physical book publishing industry, and at this point I still plan to work within its commercial framework so as to be able to access distribution channels, marketing resources, and in general a wider set of options for reaching potential readers in more places, such as libraries and highly trafficked large chain bookstores.
I’m dedicated to the process of writing, editing, and re-writing the draft versions of the manuscript for my novel for as long as it takes until I have reached the point where I am reasonably convinced that further edits can do no more to substantively improve the work. I greatly value the prospect of using critiques from readers of the drafts of my manuscript so that I may learn what parts ought be changed, re-arranged, and exchanged for new passages. Might you be interested in reading this work, Transpecies?
Imagine yourself browsing along a shelf when this book catches your eye. Whether from a front or back cover, the back cover’s text, or even pages flipped through, you soon glean surface knowledge of the story. In what is known as the elevator pitch or one sentence storyline, this is the tale of “a few cognitively enhanced animals who seek sanctuary in a dangerous and uncertain future America.” Would you take the chance and start reading from page one? The story’s vividly post-Promethean world of preternatural biological entities awaits you, somewhere in the future.
At present, I have written two distinct manuscripts for this story. The first manuscript, Transpecies Americans (2011) is approximately 68,000 words. Comparable in length to a typical YA novel, its main flaw in my estimation relates to the story pacing. Though not all of the story transpires in the length of this manuscript, which I brought to a different terminus upon realizing its slow pacing, that part which does take place includes thorough consideration of the ideas, concepts, precedents, philosophies, legal considerations, and political circumstances that underpin the conflicts faced by the characters. It uses rotating first person point of view perspective and makes substantial use of my background research on the matters of genetically modified organisms, their legal status, animal personhood, and especially the fragility of constructed dichotomies and imagined artificial order projected upon that shifting, intricately complex thing we call life. I would recommend reading this Transpecies Americans manuscript if you would like to know, in part, from where I have begun in my efforts to elucidate, describe, postulate, and critically analyze all that “transpecies” and “transpeciesism” as words could come to mean in present and future worlds both real and imagined. To my mind, this effort to deconstruct, transgress, and transit across the imagined human/nonhuman animal dichotomy works by offering an alternate interpretation of the subject of species as well as elaborating upon what experiments, acts, events, doctrines, and circumstances have invalidated, do invalidate, and will continue to invalidate the constraining frameworks of absolute, eternal, entirely impermeable, or even ordained species boundaries. I feel that this constitutes a basis for high concept fiction. Related intellectual movements of sorts include transhumanism, morphological freedom, and the “Singularity” put forth by Ray Kurzweil which, in brief, concerns biological brains and computer intelligence. I’d recommend reading the excellent Chimeras, Hybrids, and Interspecies Research: Politics and Policymaking (2009) by Andrea L. Bonnicksen if you want to know more about the biological entities whose genetic material derives from multiple species. Additionally, horizontal gene transfer is a relevant biological phenomenon which has informed the conceptual foundation for my writing. I am curious to learn what is thought of my ideas, my writing, and my efforts to approach the discourse on species from a divergent, daring, inchoate, and sincere perspective that I have not read elsewhere.
More than three years have passed since the summer of 2011, when I wrote Transpecies Americans. By means of independent reading, I am more learned in the philosophy of biology with respect to species. I have added to my knowledge in biotechnology, biological engineering, interspecies research and synthetic biology. By means of journal writing, poetry, and personal correspondence, I have further developed my individual writing style. I seek out quality writing to read whenever possible so as to continually add to my knowledge of this craft, and I’ve completed reading 17 books this year to date. I think my most constructive interactions with critique readers would result from seeking out those who read works in the genre in which I plan to publish. Out of the YA genre books I’ve read, some which touched upon biotechnology and identity with strong writing are as follows. Any of these could be a way for a prospective reader of Transpecies to begin to become familiar with the YA genre. Mary E. Pearson’s Jenna Fox Chronicles, Dan Wells’ Partials, and Sonia Levitin’s The Goodness Gene in particular stand out in my memory as high quality, thought-provoking reads that intrigued and entertained me. I have read numerous other YA genre fiction works that take place in future worlds that seem to have followed related trajectories or that invoke similar questions about genetic modification and its import with respect to identity and species.
From September 2012 through July 2014, I took a much more meticulous approach to planning my second manuscript, including the use of a detailed story structure and plot outline with expected word count ranges for reaching various plot events. Transpecies starts anew from a considerably different choice for the setting at the beginning. The single character first person point of view follows Lauren’s internal narrative through her experiences, which also marks a substantial departure from the structure of the first manuscript. I have made use of K. M. Weiland’s books on outlining and story structure so as to better plan out the framework of the plot and its pacing. I would like to assess whether my new pacing is working in the latest manuscript of Transpecies, which stands at approximately 25,000 words as of the end of July 2014. As I plan to repeatedly edit and re-write as much of the story as I need to as I construct a high quality novel ready to market to agents and then publishers, the assistance of critique readers through multiple rounds of review would multiply the utility and impact of the same early reader feedback.
I am very much open to the prospect of recognizing responsive, committed readers whose critiques significantly inform my further development of the novel by means of acknowledgments in the manner of the thus-named pages that I find within well written books whose authors identify those others most responsible for the completion and success of the book. At present, what I can surely offer as an incentive for reading my work is the satisfied curiosity that comes from reading to find what happens next. At present, I am not sure just how far along the readers who have previously received copies of my writing have read. If you have already started reading any of my writing but stopped partway through, any and all information that you provide can help me to resolve whatever shortcomings exist in my writing by first figuring out where these points of attrition occur in a particular manuscript. I do have anonymous messages or “anon asks” enabled for my tumblr account. A chapter, page number or partial word count for a given manuscript would be better than no data at all. Perhaps a collection of responses can pinpoint the passage(s) that I most need to direct my attention to in the revision process.
My own understanding is that a sufficiently compelling, interesting, and entertaining novel provides through the very experience of reading it an ample reward to the reader who is eager to learn what happens next to the page-turner’s protagonist. Indeed, a truly great book is worth paying to read, not to mention worth recommending to others with whom a reader wishes to share an enjoyable experience. I’d like to get to that point in time with my work, but for now my plan is to better communicate my expectations for critique readers as I iterate from draft to draft through sequential, cumulative improvements.
For the approximately 68,000 word manuscript Transpecies Americans (2011), I am hesitant to furnish this document to any reader without a strong commitment to read and respond to the entire work within a reasonable, defined time window. I think three months is a reasonable ceiling figure for reading and responding to a document comparable in length to a single novel or nonfiction book, as reading four books a year isn’t all that many. I have supplied this manuscript or sections of it to numerous readers over the years, though I am only aware of one reader beside myself who has read the work in its entirety and responded to it. Based on my experiences with prospective readers in the past, I am reluctant to send my writing to anyone who has only tepid interest in my work. Having an interest in social interaction with me, or making a pro forma polite gesture to perhaps take a look at my writing, is not quite equivalent to what I am looking for in a critique reader. I am ready to be a bit more selective as I look for critique readers going forward owing to previous low response rates, particularly in offline settings. I am amazed that my last journal from July 12 has reached over 1,200 views in the three months plus since it’s been up. I hope that by wording my expectations more clearly in this journal, I can more reliably find the kind of response that I am looking for. Somewhere in the vast number of pageviews that this journal might eventually accumulate, I hope that someone reading it eventually realizes that my writing may be just the sort of thing that appeals to their reading preferences. One in a hundred, or even one in a thousand views, that person might be out there. If my writing is the sort of thing you’d take up the first chance to read, then you are the kind of reader I am looking for. Hey, even if this manuscript had instead been published completely anonymously or by a stranger, if you’d still definitely take up the first chance to read it, that’s the sort of genuinely interested reader I am writing for.
Regardless of who I am, and regardless of anyone’s past or present status with me as acquaintance or even close friend, a critique reader should first and foremost be interested in the writing itself. Had you not known me or this story previously, and had you found the very same story on a bookshelf by some author whom you had not heard of, would you still read the story? I think this is a fair litmus test. I don’t want less than critical reviews from readers who would only read the work because I am its author. I want to know, in an unflinching way, exactly what’s not right about this rough draft of mine as I seek to improve it. An overly friendly review is not going to help me make my writing drastically better. Ultimately, the vast majority of readers of a widely read book are strangers to the author. These readers are under no bias to regard my writing in an uncritical manner, and it is for them, the ones years hence who may be influenced by the legacy and presence of a future physical book that I author, that I seek the highest standard of excellence in my craft.
At this time, I am most interested in seeking critical commentary and constructive suggestions on the approximately 25,000 word manuscript Transpecies. Given that this is approximately one third to one half the length of a typical YA genre novel, I expect to work with a turnaround time of at most six weeks from furnishing a manuscript draft of this length and receiving a response from a critique reader. Six weeks out from today, November 5, is the date December 17. I will be able to make the most use of reader responses to this latest draft dating to July 2014 if I am able to take such comments into account over the winter holiday break, which is when I will have ample time to produce additional prose. This semester is quite demanding, but after enough analysis, I’ve realized that it would be very beneficial to have reader responses by the time I am writing manuscript prose over the wide open days of the upcoming winter break. As such, I’ve taken great effort to carve out time from my academic schedule to write this message. My aim is to make the highest quality writing in the core canon of Transpecies the novel as a foundational consideration before further exploring adaptations into other media. The core work ought to be really great writing such that I can freely work toward developing its visual adaptations without reservations about whether I am making the most of my own writing talent first and foremost.
One of my goals is to produce writing of such fine craft and substantive commercial viability that I am one day proud to stand behind the work and publish it under my name. At any rate, pseudonyms preclude author marketing campaigns, book appearances, book signings, author speeches, presentations, library visits, tabling at conventions, and the like (or the pseudonyms become self-defeating if these potentially lucrative activities are to be pursued by the author). Additionally, I’d have my doubts about hiding forever behind a Robert Galbraith shield of sorts, were it so evidently not impregnable. For now, I am known and addressed as either “fox” or “Douglas” in lieu of any other names with respect to my online presence. I am foxstory on deviantART, tumblr, and FurAffinity. I am most active on tumblr for short form content, while deviantART is my preferred gallery space. I am also foxstoryUSA on YouTube.
Beyond the six week turnaround time for the approximately 25,000 words of fiction prose writing in the July 2014 draft manuscript for Transpecies, I ask that each critique reader provide an email address only accessed by that person to which I can send my writing as attached documents. I require that an initial note sent to me on deviantART by a prospective critique reader include a plainly stated guarantee of confidentiality in our communications before I proceed to sending the manuscript to a reader’s email address. I expect that there exist rough, recondite, awkwardly written, or otherwise imperfect passages in the draft manuscript, but the ease of comprehension of my writing is ultimately for the reader to judge. Perhaps one part is too slow and labors over the same obvious matter, while another part is confusing and too abrupt. There are many parts that I want to iron out and finely tune by learning from how readers interpret the passages. It’s certainly possible that the mental picture of the story world formed by a reader of an early draft version will be quite unlike what I had wanted to convey to the reader in my writing. There is so much for me to still work out in my writing. I realize that my own background and perspectives may be very different from those of my readers, and this may affect their interpretation of my writing. I require that my manuscripts, for which I hold copyright, not be reproduced or disseminated in whole or in part. If all the conditions in this journal are amenable to you, and you’ve explored the gallery folder, I welcome you to take the next step by sending a note to me at this deviantART account.
Do you dare take this book from the shelf?
Characters and their fursonas, one and the same
Could this work inform your sense of yourself?
Once you read of a wolf, Lauren’s the name
Wouldn’t it be fun to learn her story, just in case?
The first act beckons, and it’s yours to chase…