Chris Williams, Author Specializing in anthropomorphic speculative fiction

Independent Claws, Episode 03 – Bad Characters, Bad People

October 7

In this episode, Sparf gives his perspective on character flaws, flawed characters, and how to make sure you aren’t glorifying bad behavior.

Today’s Recommended Reading: Heretic, by Rukis:


For information on RAWR:

Opening and closing music by Lee Rosevere and found at the Free Music Archive. Used under Creative Commons Attribution. For more by Lee Rosevere, visit this link:

RAWR Write-a-Thon Progress: Excerpt 4

September 27

It’s been a few days, owing to some very recent personal news. Here’s where we stand currently:

My personal goal for fundraising is $250, of which people donating via my link have given $119.37(after those unfortunate Paypal fees), so nearly fifty percent.

Overall, RAWR’s fundraising goal is $3000, and the currently raised funds total $290.74(after fees).

I want to make a push to raise a significantly higher percentage by the end of the Write-a-Thon. Currently, any donation made until Midnight Eastern time tonight, the 27th, will be matched dollar-for-dollar for the first $100, and at $0.50/dollar for the next hundred. If you haven’t yet donated, and have been considering it, please think about doing so by tonight. Every little bit helps.


Now, here we have a fleeting scene in the Achilles Club’s library. This will be a bit more of an introduction of Cyril Understone, the Club’s chief librarian. I hope you enjoy:

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RAWR Write-a-Thon Progress: Excerpt 3

September 23

I’m currently around 13,500 words on the goal of 20,000. We’re still way behind our fundraising goal, though, so if you can donate, or spread the word, it would be most appreciated. I am currently at around 100 dollars of my $250 personal goal for fundraising. You can view the other participants, check out our current funding status, and more, here:

If you’d like to go ahead and donate, you can do so either on that page or on the right of this page with the Paypal button.

In the meantime, here is a different scene, starring the book’s primary protagonist, Simon.

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RAWR Write-a-Thon, Excerpt 2

September 21

Currently I’m sitting at around 12,000 words, give or take on this project. The RAWR Write-a-Thon is going well for meeting my goal of 20,000, and I may increase the goal if I start to approach it too soon.

Kyell Gold has offered his fans an incentive to donate. His Post is Here If we reach $2000, he will write a new Dev and Lee story. But that’s not all! If we make the stretch goal of $4000, he will write a new Korey and Samaki story (his characters from Waterways). I know I’d love to see that happen! They were such sweet characters.  If you’d like to donate, please click the Paypal donate link off to the right. If you’d like to read more about the project, visit

Now, on to the other part of this post. Here’s another little snippet from what I’ve been working on. I don’t know if the plague doctor mortician will make the final project but he’s too cool not to share. Click below to see the excerpt:

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RAWR Write-a-Thon Draft Excerpt

September 17

Here’s a little something that I’ve been working on to try and meet my 20,000 word goal. This is unedited, rough draft stuff. I hope you enjoy it!


Kate had been afraid, when the police took her, that she would be placed under arrest and thrown in jail for Sarah’s murder. Jail was not a comfortable proposition for the coywolf on several levels and definitely not in the city where she would be tossed into the general population if they decided to search her.

It turned out that she needn’t have worried. Inspector Allen, the terrier who’d followed Sarah’s stretcher out of the abandoned house’s basement, had turned out to be a very kind soul, one truly interested in finding out about the Jane Doe he’d only just come to know as Sarah.

Kate sat now in a functionally comfortable chair in the inspector’s office, her tears having dried up a half hour past. He had just stepped out to fetch her a cup of tea before continuing to question her about what she knew. The thought of English style tea made her nose wrinkle, but for the moment it was likely the best she was going to find. She couldn’t well ask for something in the Irish manner, after all.

The part that nagged at her insides was the idea of being questioned about what she knew. Thing was, she didn’t know how much she knew. Not really. Sarah was a prostitute, there was no denying that given where the murder took place and the state the body was found in, plus hiding information wouldn’t help catch her killer, and that, more than anything, Kate wanted to see done.

The office was simple and orderly, just in the way an official’s office should be, she felt. Simple desk, a bookshelf and a filing cabinet, and a small closet in the corner.

She knew what she had seen in her visions and nightmares, but to make the police understand that would require a lot of explanation and a lot of luck on her part. For that, she decided, she would have to dance lightly around the edge of the true facts. She had the information that Mick had given her. She could give them that. No need to tell them about bleeding cracks in walls, or corpses coming to life to speak to her.

Her ears pricked up at the sound of the door closing behind her, and her nose picked up the wafting scent of tea. Jasmine, in fact. Very nice, and unexpected for a police officer.

“Here you are, Miss Mather,” said Inspector Allen, proffering the cup and saucer.

“Thank you, inspector. It’s lovely.” She took a sip and let the steam and the weak bitterness draw her focus.

“Now this is going to sound insensitive, and rude, but would you tell me about Sarah’s…er…” He paused. Kate watched the wheels turning in his head to find the proper euphemism to convey his meaning.

“Work habits,” she offered.

“Er, yes. Did she have any repeat clients, or any new ones she talked about recently?”

Kate shook her head. “Not recently, no. She was peculiar that way. She always wanted to tell me about the big ones, but not until after. Always said she’d jinx it if she talked.”

The fennec had been superstitious. Kate knew that. Not in any particular way, just that any old-wives’ tale or myth that crossed her path she would fold into her belief system. Fennecs were largely a nomadic species, and their storytellers incorporated the stories of those they encountered. Kate supposed it was in their blood, in the same way that the glamour was in hers.

“Now, miss, what do you mean by the big ones?”

“I’d appreciate you not calling me ‘miss’. M’name’s Kate. You can call me that. Just Kate.”

The terrier stumbled over his words for a moment, jumbling them like a seer’s bag of runes, before he was able to continue.

“Ah, yes, er, Kate. Could you tell me what you mean by ‘the big ones’? Any information could be immensely helpful to us.”

Kate sipped the bitter tea, wishing she’d some honey to sweeten it. She loved honey. It tasted of nature, and not of backbreaking labor and sorrow.

“The ‘big ones,’ that was how she described her patrons who kept her around a few nights. She was as close to a true courtesan as we come in Whitechapel, Inspector. Sometimes she’d snare a rich beau, or sometimes a lady—“

Allen nearly choked on his own tongue. “N-now, miss, er, I hardly think that’s appropriate—“

“Do you want to know, or not, Inspector? Don’t turn all blushing moralist on me now. We’re already talking about a lady of the evening. What does it matter to you which of the sexes she took pay from? Anyway, yes, a rich male—or female, if it was the right one,” she relished throwing the word in his face, hoping that it would sting him again for his thoughts about her sweet and vivacious Sarah,  “would sometimes take her into their home for a few days, where she would live by day as a cousin or old family friend, or some such fiction. She was a born actress that one.

“Anyway, by day, she lived the role, by night, she was the client’s toy. She didn’t often go into the details of that part of the job, and I never asked. It was her business, not mine.”

Inspector Allen nodded and sipped his own cup of tea. Kate observed that his paws trembled despite his attempts to hide it.

He’s worried about this case, she thought, letting her gaze soften. The anxiety in the terrier radiated out from him. It was clear in his movements, in the tension her superior ears could detect in his voice, and in the scent of nervousness that poured out from under his uniform. If she was going to press her luck, now was the time.

“Inspector, before we continue further, I must see her.”

“I’m afraid that’s out of the question Miss…Kate. I’m sorry, but—“

“You want to solve her murder?” she asked, setting the teacup in the saucer and putting it aside, on the inspector’s desk.

“I do.”

“Then I need to see her. I need to see that it’s really her. For all we know I could be telling you all about Sarah when she’d not even the victim, and I don’t want to waste the precious time of justice. I note that you’ve already spent a great deal more time on this murder than any of the other girls in recent memory in the same area.”

“Now, just a minute, Kate. Scotland Yard—“

“Treats all cases with due diligence, dignity, and respect. Yes,” she snapped, rising to her feet. She wasn’t so tall, and yet she still managed down at the inspector. “I know all the platitudes, Inspector. But this one, this case has you genuinely scared. You want what information I have, if any, I want to see Sarah’s body in the morgue. If nothing else I can act as next of kin for identification’s sake.”

The inspector’s face tensed as he considered his options. As Kate knew he would, in the end, he acquiesced with a resigned nod.

“Very good, Miss—“

“Kate,” she reminded him with a smile and a friendly flick of her ears.

“Kate. But I warn you, I’ll not be responsible if you faint or go into hysterics again.”

“I’ll be fine, Inspector. I give you my word.”

“Then let’s go. It shouldn’t be busy at this time of the day. Less likely to raise hackles.”

Inspector Allen stood and held open his windowed office door, waving her through ahead of him. When it closed behind, the glass rattled in its frame.

Independent Claws Episode 02 – Historical Fiction

September 16

In this episode, Sparf discusses some things to think about when writing historical fiction, or basing fiction on historical fact. Also keep an ear open for an update on his word count for the RAWR Write-a-Thon!

The history podcasts referenced in this episode:


Today’s Recommended Reading:


For information on RAWR:

Opening and closing music by Lee Rosevere and found at the Free Music Archive. Used under Creative Commons Attribution. For more by Lee Rosevere, visit this link:

RAWR Write-a-Thon

September 9


I am participating in a write-a-thon to help raise funds for RAWR’s 2017 workshop.

My goal is to write 20,000 words during the Write-a-Thon, or two submitted stories. My personal fundraising goal is $250 USD.

What I am looking for is supporters to pledge donations to the workshop. The funds will go towards the costs associated with operating the workshop. You can find more details at this link:

If you are interested in donating, or if you are interested in helping fundraise for the workshop, please take a look at the site and consider helping how you can. Together we can make RAWR the best workshop for anthropomorphic fiction writers that it can be!

If you are interested in supporting the cause, you will find a Paypal donation button on the right side of this page, as well as at my bio on the RAWR Write-a-Thon site.


Independent Claws Episode 01 – Setting and Worldbuilding

September 1

Your host, Sparf, discusses some thoughts on setting and world building, makes a book recommendation, and advertises the inaugural RAWR Write-a-Thon.


To purchase this week’s recommended reading in print:

eBook format:

For information on RAWR:

Opening and closing music by Lee Rosevere and found at the Free Music Archive. Used under Creative Commons Attribution. For more by Lee Rosevere, visit this link:

Regional Anthropomorphic Writing Retreat 2016

January 23

I’m going to write this out and try not to ramble much, but rambling is what I’m known for in my writing and in person so here goes.

The Regional Anthropomorphic Writers’ Retreat (RAWR) came about through the dedicated labor of Chandra al-Alkani herding a group of assorted species, not even just cats, through the process of planning. Making an event happen is a lot of work, even for a small event like our inaugural RAWR. I knew this going in, and I still was surprised at how much work there was and how many things popped up that we hadn’t thought of during the planning.

I am humbled for many reasons over this past ten days. During the latter phases of planning for RAWR, I was encouraged to apply as a candidate, which removed me from many of the meetings during the latter part of planning, as I obviously could not be a party to the candidate selection process in any way. When I received a slot, I was, frankly, stunned, and it occurred to me for the first time that I really have some serious confidence issues with my own writing, just as I do with all of my artistic expressions.

Let’s fast forward, then, to my arrival. After hacker-fareing my flight to leave BWI and arrive at SFO, then to leave when I return home from SJC to DCA, I took off on Saturday, January 9,and arrived around midday. Then I proceeded to take BART and CalTrain to our discreet workshop location. As of that moment I was in full candidate mode and had zero to do with any sort of logistics or planning or staff duties.

Dinner was had at a lovely Bay Area pizza restaurant that served Chicago-style deep dish. The attendees were Myself, Skunkbomb, Thomas Steele, Ashe Valisca and Ianus J. Wolf, which was interesting since three of us already knew each other and that left our younger colleagues to get to know. Once dinner happened, there was hanging out and getting-to-know-you stuff, and writing. Lots, and lots, of writing.

Sunday, Day 1, the first group, of three writers, submitted their stories to be printed and handed out for critique the following morning. The second group would hand them in by 4PM the following day for the NEXT day’s critique.

Monday morning rolled around and we were treated to a guest lecture on world building by the talented Watts Martin (Chipotle Coyote), followed by splitting up and basically having an afternoon and evening of free time. “Free time” at a five day residential writing workshop, of course, being relative. I was still trying to do active revision to an old story of mine for workshopping, well into the night, as well as having to read three stories, at least one in excess of the requested wordcount, and mark them up with line edits and making notes on critique. We were furnished by the workshop with pencils, pens, highlighters, and most notably a red pen, which was liberally used throughout the workshop.

There were things dreadfully wrong with the story I would be submitting. I knew that. I hadn’t looked at this particular piece of writing in three years. It met the length criteria and had previously been published in a conbook, so I knew it wasn’t utter utter garbage, but I also realized upon rereading that there was a serious lack of “there” there.

During the evening we took a walking trip to the local Safeway to acquire various foodstuffs to sustain us each during the week, and both Ashe and I acquired ingredients for Tuesday and Wednesday night dinners that we would be cooking for the group.

We had also gotten the news about David Bowie’s passing, and so that night one of our group’s activities was to watch Labyrinth (A lovely example of setting) together, followed by a viewing of the Incredibles (fantastic character development).

Tuesday morning, we got another lecture, this time from Ryan Campbell, about setting, which touched upon similar concepts to worldbuilding in places, but also ventured into topics such as “Writing the Other.” Ryan showed us a video of a TED Talk by Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie regarding the danger of keeping only a single story about another group of people in your head, both in life and when writing about those cultures. (That video can be found here:

The critique session that followed was incredibly similar to those of my acting classes in my M.F.A. actor training, with a few notable exceptions. In graduate school, there was no time limit, and we did not go from person to person in a circle but rather spoke up as we had thoughts, riffing off of each other’s thoughts and suggestions until we had covered everything we could, and then the instructor would give her thoughts.

In this case, each student was given three minutes to sum up their critique points, which had to include the positives as well as points of improvement. Chandra, our coordinator and facilitator, kept time, and each of us fumbled to get our ideas across succinctly, nearly all running out of time. The instructors then weighed in on each story with their own thoughts, and with no time limit.

After that was lunch and open time and time for one-on-ones with our instructors, which, due to revisions I wanted to get finished, I did not take part in.  I got to a point in revising my story for workshopping where the deadline was looming and the old “Fuck it, ship it!” had to kick in, and I dropped the story into a Google drive folder set aside for that purpose, and then proceeded to prepare and cook my modification to my boyfriend’s family recipe for spaghetti carbonara for the group for dinner. I was pleased to see that it went over well, and even got compliments from Ashe and Ianus, who had had my version before when we lived together and thought it was even better than past times when I’d made it.

The next day, it was Ashe’s and my turn to face the music of critique, and we did. Each person ran close to, but generally did not run over time this round. The thick stack of paper copies of my story, each copy with notes and edits marked all over it in red pen to the point that it might have born witness to an axe murder, gave me a jumping off point for revision.

Wednesday’s lecture was on Character, taught by Kyell as characters are, in my opinion, his strongest asset in his writing toolbox. After fighting with Scrivener to format my story the way I wanted, I got a one-on-one session with Kyell, discussing atmosphere and the best way to adapt something you’ve seen in other works to your style. For example, I mentioned how, in ‘salem’s Lot, the town itself is a character. The atmosphere is palpable but it’s done in a style that seems like it would irritate many people, because it doesn’t appear related directly to the main characters of the novel.

That night was spent on critique, playing story games, and dining on the most delicious pork tenderloin, sliced and layered atop a serving of vegetable risotto. (Ashe’s cooking was as delicious as ever and I’m reminded of exactly how sad I am that I don’t get to eat it very often since he and the others moved to Seattle.)

Thursday was the final day. We began with critique of Ashe’s and My story. From beginning to end it was a vastly different story and different critique for each of our stories. As we wrapped up that session I remember thinking how amazing it felt to have crafted something so different, and so much better, thanks to the feedback and help of my classmates.

Finally it was time for our final lecture, one on publishing within the fandom given by Brer from Sofawolf. It was nice to see behind the curtain somewhat with regards to Sofawolf, as they’d always seemed like a bit of a black box to me.

In summation, I have to say that for someone who wants to improve their craft when it comes to writing anthropomorphic fiction, especially with an eye to publication (but not exclusively), and network with other up and coming furry writers, this workshop was a tremendous success. Personally, I gained a new insight into my own work and the work of my furry colleagues, new ways of critiquing and thinking about critique, and new friends that I can trust to be honest and open about my work, just as I will be open and helpful about theirs should they require it.

RAWR plans to be at least an annual event, for now existing on the West coast of the United States, however, there is discussion about future events being held on the East coast, to better enable the widest range of authors to attend. Applications for next year’s event will open sometime around March, I believe, so keep an eye on their website at and get those applications in. I want to hear about the next class’s experience!

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