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Hey all,

Long time no see. 

I more or less left dA about a year ago to pursue my writing more seriously. As I stepped out into the bright sunlight and open expanses of the publishing world I was dismayed to see that, in spite of the incredible tools and technology available to writers in terms of both creation and distribution of our work, there were really only two paths available through the wilderness: traditional publishing, or doing everything by yourself. Perhaps it was my time here at dA that skewed my sensibilities, but I thought there should be more sense of community — more working together. There was no such thing in the world.

So I built it.

I've spent the last year building what I call a collaborative publishing platform. It's called the Anthology Club, and at the moment it focuses on collections of flash and short fiction, but it has the potential to revolutionize the way new writers of all formats start their careers. The idea is relatively simple:

  • Senior members (those with two or more published stories) can propose anthologies.
  • Everyone else (including senior members) can submit stories to the anthology
  • The member who proposed the anthology acts as the editor for the project
    • They accept, ask for edits, or reject as they see fit
  • When they are happy with the collection they pass it on to me
    • I do a copy edit, make any final editing suggestions, arrange cover art, etc.
  • After all is said and done, the book goes up on Amazon and Smashwords under the Anthology Club imprint
Revenue is split as follows:
  • 15% for the club
  • 5% for the editor
  • 80% split between contributing writers per number of stories contributed
    • if you contribute 2 out of 10 stories you'll receive 2/10 of the 80%, or 17% of all royalties
    • If an editor contributes 2 of 10 stories, she will receive 22% (17% + 5%)
The idea is to provide a middle ground between doing everything yourself and begging some entrenched industry muppet to let you tell your stories. With the Anthology Club we get the outside editing, skill building, growth, and sense of community that's sorely lacking with most self-published work, without being as exclusive as the traditional outlets.

At the moment, we have one anthology in final edits, and 8 projects open for submissions. The themes for the open anthologies are; LitFic (based on life), classic pirates, summer flash fiction, Shakespeare (adaptation of his work, or the man himself), Dragons (reinvent them), silly stories, horror (possession and madness themed), and western. There are always more projects being added, as well.

If you feel like you want to start taking your writing more seriously, but aren't prepared to or interested in doing it all yourself, head over to for more information. Sign up and check out the forums, and yes, of course it's free - you should get paid to write, not the other way around.
  • Listening to: crappy kid's music
  • Reading: words, mostly
  • Watching: the Detectives
  • Playing: a dangerous game
  • Eating: my hat
  • Drinking: as much as necessary
Those of you who haven't yet removed me from your follow lists may be interested in my new project. I have started a blog/author site where I post short fiction as well as audio versions of said short fiction (I record the audio versions myself).

The site is called Stories For The Masses

The first couple are pieces that I had already posted here, but there are a couple of new pieces and I'll be posting new fiction every week. I'm particularly happy with the audio version of my short story "Loose Ends". I went full production with backing music and sound effects and everything. Do have a look listen.

I still don't expect to be hanging around here very much, but I do pop in once in a while to read what everyone is writing and see what everyone is drawing/painting/manipulating/etcetera-ing.

Keep it frosty.

PS. If you are a writer and are interested in getting your work recorded, I work for very reasonable rates. Significantly below the industry standard. Just sayin'.
  • Listening to: Chinese villagers arguing
  • Reading: words, mostly
  • Watching: the Detectives
  • Playing: a dangerous game
  • Eating: my hat
  • Drinking: as much as necessary

Bypassing the Great Firewall of China

Journal Entry: Sun Sep 25, 2011, 8:54 PM

For the past 7 years I have been living behind the GFWoC. For the most part I have been unable to access Facebook, Twitter, any website with the word "blog" in its address, youtube and, at times, even IMDB. As a result I lost track of the blog I started many years ago, and lost touch with a lot of my facebook-only friends from back home.

Blogs are banned here in general because the Chinese government is terrified of opinions. Facebook and Twitter are banned because they allow people (who may or may not have opinions) to talk to each other in ways the government finds difficult to monitor and control. Youtube is banned because it competes with Youku, TuDou, and Souku (the three main Chinese copies of Youtube). IMDB is banned because it hosts information about a pro-Tibet movie (apparently). So be it. It isn't my country, it's not my government, and in the end I don't really care how they keep their own house. Except to the extent that it buggers up my own life.

So last year I ponied up and paid for a VPN, allowing me to tunnel under the GFWoC and access Facebook. I neglected, however, to resume blogging, or to sign up for twitter. I have now remedied this.

My blog can be found at ,
I am @mistermanz on twitter, and
You can add me to your Google+ at…

If you like my blog feel free to spread the word and either subscribe or add me on Twitter (or both). Over the next few months I'll likely be a bit less active on dA (I'll still be here, just less active) as I focus more on getting a couple of projects ready for publication, and those will be the most effective ways of keeping in touch with me.

  • Listening to: the rhythm of the falling rain
  • Reading: You people, mostly (and George R. R. Martin)
  • Watching: my step
  • Playing: the fool
  • Eating: my words
  • Drinking: it all in


Journal Entry: Mon Sep 5, 2011, 5:05 AM

There's a new group in town

Just wanted to let my watchers know that the Cross-Pollinated group is now accepting members and submissions and all that jazz.

What's Cross-Pollinated?

From the F.A.Q.:
The metaphor we are trying to draw here is to compare the pollination of a plant with the creation of art. The idea is to allow another piece of art inspire and inform your own art. Just as one plant pollinates another, giving rise to a new, and unique plant, so too can a piece of art inspire an artist to create a new, and unique work of art.

It is important to draw a distinction here between being inspired and copying or translating. The idea is not to reproduce the same work of art in another medium, but to interpret it or to take certain aspects of it into your own work. This is particularly an issue when going from one visual art form to another. Doing a charcoal rendition of a photograph isn't pollination, it is translation (from one medium to another). Taking a distinctive style of shading from a photograph and attempting to emulate it in a charcoal drawing of something else would be pollination. Taking the message you get from an oil painting and reinterpreting it on your tablet is pollination. The original deviation is the inspiration, but the resulting artwork is all your own.

This is a wonderful opportunity for people who work in any medium to work with and get to know people who work in other mediums; a chance to get ideas from those who see the artistic world very differently from you.

Please go to :iconcross-pollinated: and have a look. Even if you don't join up, I'd appreciate it if you'd pass the word on to your watchers or to anyone else you know who might be interested.


  • Listening to: the rhythm of the falling rain
  • Reading: You people, mostly (and George R. R. Martin)
  • Watching: my step
  • Playing: the fool
  • Eating: my words
  • Drinking: it all in

This is an intervention, America.

Journal Entry: Sat Sep 3, 2011, 11:20 AM

To quote Rufus Wainwright, "Oh what a world it seems we live in".

Most of the people likely to read this will already be aware, but it may be worth restating: I have lived a large portion (more than half) of my adult life in a culture other than the one in which I grew up. The result of this is that I consider myself, culturally anyway, to be truly an individual. I hold no real allegiance to either North American or Chinese cultures. This is important because it allows me to look at both cultures with the eyes of a very experienced outsider.

My wife recently wanted to post a bunch of pictures she'd taken of our 10 month old son on facebook (I have a VPN, so still have access to fb and youtube). I looked at the pictures she was planning to post and immediately spotted a problem. We live in China, and our son is often dressed in Chinese baby clothes. Google "Chinese baby pants" and click on "images" to see what I'm talking about. We've also just been through one of the hottest Summers on record with more than a month of over 40°C (104°F in the moronic American system) with humidity in the 80% range, so often he just goes without clothes entirely.

The process of trying to explain why she couldn't put pictures of a baby with his "junk" showing on the internet really made me think about the whole issue in a way I never had before. I knew that naked pictures of children (in any context) are considered, in your United States of 'Merica, to be pornography (child pornography, no less). I knew that posting said pictures on the internet was equivalent to writing a letter to Homeland Security threatening to bludgeon Glen Beck to death using the severed leg of Barack Obama, and then filling the envelope with corn starch before mailing it. PS. Please put me on a no fly list, and book me a room in Guantanamo. I had never really questioned the why of it all, though. My wife sure did.

We put cute little cartoons over the offending bits, and posted the pictures and moved on with our lives, (an example of this is here Censored Baby by Shabboth) but it really got me thinking. Curious, today I looked up the relevant policies here on dA. The whole thing can be found here, but I've included the parts that interest me below.
Official limitations on child/teenage photography;

    •No photograph may display a nude minor with an appearance of being age two or older.
    ••This includes any angle of shot including front, side, back or any other possible viewpoint.
    ••This prohibition stands regardless of whether breasts or genitalia are visible or not.
    ••An exception for infants under the age of two with a bare bottom showing may be granted providing that neither penis nor vaginal area is visible. Exceptions are not guaranteed.

    •Female children may be shown topless only if they appear to have not yet passed their second birthday.
    ••No female between the ages of two (2) and eighteen (18) may be depicted topless or implied to be topless in any manner whatsoever.

Wow. Just wow.

It is interesting to note that photographs of dead people are okay on dA "providing that a reviewing staff member does not consider the work to be unnecessarily graphic" but a picture that implies the existence of genitals on a 5 year old (without even showing them) is unacceptable.

Also interesting is the additional "topless" restriction for female toddlers. Do you know what the biological difference is between the chest of a prepubescent male and a prepubescent female is? Nothing, because the hormones that cause differentiation (estrogen and testosterone) are not present in sufficient quantities in prepubescent children for there to be a difference.

If I were to post an un-doctored (pun intentional, but obscure) version of the above photo I would be in violation of dA's policies, and probably numerous American laws. I could go to jail and be put on a sex-offender list for life. That would be ridiculous, but then it's a ridiculous law for a (n often) ridiculous country. Why is it ridiculous? Because it's a complete breakdown in logic - let me show you.

My son's genitals are not, in and of themselves, sexual, nor does he think of them in a sexual manner. He's 10 months old. There is nothing inherently sexual about the picture, as taken. There was no sexual intent on the part of the photographer. There is nothing sexual about walking (which is what he's doing).

So, nothing sexual about the subject, the photographer or the activity depicted. Any sexualization of this photo, therefore, would have to be on the part of the person viewing it. Charging me under child porn laws because someone might (not even "someone did" but "someone might") view it sexually would be like charging the CEO of Louisville Slugger with murder because someone might conceivably commit murder with one of their bats. That's not what the bat was made for, and he's in no way responsible for what someone else does with it. It is a very sick culture where the possibility that someone might sexualize an innocent picture of a naked baby is considered more likely than the possibility that they wouldn't, and where anyone other than the perverted party (viewing it) is held responsible.

As ridiculous as this all is, it isn't dA's fault. Especially with issues of this nature, they need to cover their asses, and ass-cover they have. Honestly, regardless of the merits of any particular piece of art that depicts the genitalia of a minor, they just can't take the risk - the penalties are too great. So who's fault is it then?

Well, as I pointed out before, there are rules against pictures of naked toddlers, but pictures of corpses are okay. I can only think of one group of people who think that death is okay but genitals are not.

So, this is an Intervention America. It's time to join the 21st century, put away the two thousand year old superstitions and mumbo-jumbo used to control you, and get some common bloody sense. We care about you, and your ignorance hurts us. Oh, and the rest of us use the metric system, why can't you?

  • Listening to: the rhythm of the falling rain
  • Reading: You people, mostly (and George R. R. Martin)
  • Watching: my step
  • Playing: the fool
  • Eating: my words
  • Drinking: it all in

Bad Writer

Journal Entry: Sun Aug 14, 2011, 4:09 PM

I've been a bad writer, recently. Not in the sense that I suddenly started writing angsty poetry, but in the sense that I made commitments to people to write things and have fallen behind in my execution of them. If you are one of those people, you have my apologies.

In my defense, this past week was an exceptionally busy one for me. I was running the school solo (my wife was visiting family out of town for the week) and the heatwave we were experiencing sapped what energy I had left after my work day. The week before last... well, that was just writer's block. You can blame :iconnafreteri: for that. ;)

The good news is that I seem to have broken through the block, ideas are flowing once more. Also, my family is back and my class load should be much lighter for the next 2 weeks. I may actually get some writing done.

  • Listening to: the rhythm of the falling rain
  • Reading: You people, mostly (and George R. R. Martin)
  • Watching: my step
  • Playing: the fool
  • Eating: my words
  • Drinking: it all in

This, That, and the Other

Journal Entry: Mon Aug 1, 2011, 11:32 PM

There was a little quizzy thing posted on the  :iconpremiummembers: blog at…

  1. What's the story behind your username?
  2. What makes a comment meaningful to you?
  3. What Premium Member feature do you use the most?
  4. = VS * symbol: Who would win?
  5. Your Premium Membership is expiring tomorrow! What do you do?
  6. Look out your window and describe what you see.
  7. Do you pronounce the t in listen?
  8. Where was the furthest place in the world from your home that you've visited?
  9. What is your deviantART story? How did you find the site, what did you do when you first got here, how did you get more involved with the community?
  10. You get to spend exactly one hour at dA HQ. Draw what it looks like when you're done.

I'm extremely new to dA, but I thought I'd take a stab at answering  anyway.

  1. It was a name I created for a character a long, long time ago (for a text based MMORPG, if I recall correctly). The full name was Shabboth an Fingwe. I adopted it as my online name gradually, like boiling frogs. I'm also known here and there as The Allergen, as I can be somewhat abrasive at times.
  2. Any comment where the person has read what I wrote and is responding to it is meaningful. Note I differentiate between meaningful and useful. :D When I comment on someone's work I make every effort to make it useful as well as meaningful, and I truly appreciate when others do the same for me.
  3. I've only had premium membership for a day, so I don't know yet. I spent a lot of time looking for journal skins, but that was mostly because the piece I'm working on now is hard and it scares me a bit. That's also why I'm writing this journal entry right now. Formal critiques are something I expect to use a lot (giving them, anyway). Down the road I expect the ability to put thumbs in journals and thereby feature people will be useful, even though I only have about 10 watchers and I suspect one of them is my Mom.
  4. Everybody wins.
  5. :lol: Keep writing the best stuff I can and helping others to do the same.
  6. Two feral dogs are eating the garbage my neighbours have so thoughtfully dumped in front of my school, a guy is peeing on the street (not against a wall or something, actually on the street), and there are a bunch of cars (from the car wash place below me) parked willy-nilly and mostly blocking the road. Isn't China great?
  7. People pronounce that? I pronounce letters that most people don't, I have extremely good diction, but I wasn't aware you could pronounce the "t" in "listen."
  8. Well, I grew up in Saskatchewan, Canada and have lived in Zhejiang, China for 7 years, I consider both of them home, and they more or less bisect the world. I actually haven't been much of anywhere else.
  9. I found it by doing a search for online writing communities. I was looking for a place where writers exchange critiques of each other's work, as I haven't done any really serious writing in years and I want to brush up my dusty old skills. I found deviantArt instead (but I'm glad I did).
  10. I don't draw - I sing, act, dance, play a few instruments reasonably well, dabble in photography and write, but I don't do visual art.

There, I've answered all the questions reasonably well, and now it's time to go teach a bunch of munchkins some English. This is supposed to be a "meme for the ages" or some such. We'll see what I think of my answers in a few years.

But enough with the chit chat. I have writing to do.

  • Listening to: the rhythm of the falling rain
  • Reading: You people, mostly (and George R. R. Martin)
  • Watching: my step
  • Playing: the fool
  • Eating: my words
  • Drinking: it all in

Recent Happenings

Journal Entry: Sun Jul 24, 2011, 7:29 PM

So, a couple of items of interest: I have finished the collaboration with :iconardenmuir:, and I received a DailyLitDeviation yesterday.

The collaboration clocked in at just under 3000 words, and really should have been longer, but I'm pretty sure no one will read it at 3000 words, so forget about 5000 or more. dA really does seem to be Short Attention Span Theatre territory in that regard.

The DLD was a huge surprise for me, and an extremely pleasant one (thank you, :iconleyghan:, for suggesting me). Unlike many of my fellow deviants, I don't write to vent, or to process emotional trauma or whatever. I write because I enjoy telling stories, and I write because I enjoy playing with words, but most of all I write to entertain. I take the DLD as proof that some people, at least, have been entertained by something I made. That makes me happy.

Current projects:

deviantArt related
:bulletblue: working on a collaboration with :iconnafreteri:. Still unsure about what direction it will take, but I know it will be a departure from the stuff I've written here to date.
:bulletblue: writing a piece for the :iconthewrittenrevolution:'s contest Summer Haze
:bulletblue: writing a piece for :iconallartsupport:'s Brotherhood contest

deviantArt unrelated

:bulletred: writing a novel based on the characters created for the Highlander collaboration
:bulletred: writing a novel built around the world I built for the 100theme project that I abandoned (I'm still writing the novel, but instead of writing it based on the theme list I'll write it based on what will make it a good story)
:bulletred: writing the novel I've been working on (off and on) for the past year

I am writing these novels with publication in mind, so I will not be posting them on dA. Unfortunately most publishers will consider anything posted on this (or any similar website) to have been published, which means you are not going to be able to sell first rights to the work. Basically, the only route open to you for a piece of writing that has been posted online is self-publishing, and I don't want to close off the traditional channels if I don't have to. I'm not J.K. Rowling or Radiohead. I don't have a big enough established fanbase (or a fanbase, for that matter) that I can thumb my nose at the marketing and distribution might of traditional publishers. So, while I may end up posting to Authonomy once I've completed a novel, I won't be posting them here.

But enough with the chit chat. I have writing to do.

Project update

Journal Entry: Mon Jul 18, 2011, 8:36 PM

Just an update on my dA related projects:

Finished the project with :iconbosawyer:. My story can be found here ->, and there is a link to her artwork in my comments.

:bulletblue: Currently working on similar collaborations with :iconardenmuir: and :iconnafreteri:
:bulletblue: Still planning to do the genre fiction thing, as time allows.
:bulletblue: Want to get more involved with the groups I've joined, so I'll be entering the contests and responding to the prompts as often as possible.

Outside of dA I am currently writing two novels (concurrently, but not at the same time, if you know what I mean), learning to play the guitar, and have just opened my own ESL training school. Oh, I'm also formally studying Chinese finally. I've lived in China for 7 years now and have never opened a textbook. I figure it's about time I learned how to read.

But enough with the chit chat. I have writing to do.

  • Listening to: the rhythm of the falling rain
  • Reading: You people, mostly (and George R. R. Martin)
  • Watching: my step
  • Playing: the fool
  • Eating: my words
  • Drinking: it all in
So, I've been here less than a week and already I've left my first group. Now that I'm no longer in the shockingly inactive #100themewriter's group, there isn't much point in continuing with my 100 theme chapters novel project. I will instead turn my effort and attention to writing other things.

Having had a week or so to look around I've noticed a few things about dA.

:bulletgreen: literature is a second class citizen on dA
:bulletgreen: there is waaaaaaay too much fan fiction and not nearly enough originality
:bulletgreen: current attitudes in the publishing industry regarding writers posting their work online (here, for example) are crippling my ability to use dA to improve as an artist.

No idea how to change any of that, and not even really complaining about it. It is what it is. I just wanted to observe it aloud.

*                            *                          *

I'm actually looking forward to this next 48 hours. The wife and munchkin are out of town for the weekend, and I've got a fridge full of beer and a house full of empty. Currently on my plate:

- a collaboration with :iconbosawyer:
- a number of genre specific short stories in genres I don't usually write
    :bulletgreen: horror
    :bulletgreen: romance
    :bulletgreen: western
    :bulletgreen: adventure
    :bulletgreen: high fantasy
- spoofs of the above genres (possibly, unless my earnest attempts come off as silly, in which case I'll just label them as spoofs)

But enough with the chit chat. I have writing to do.

Filler Ipsum Delerious

Journal Entry: Fri Jul 8, 2011, 10:05 AM

This section looked entirely too sparse, so I thought I should write something in it. I'm much more interested in writing fiction than in writing a journal, however, so I will use this space more or less exclusively to explain the projects I'm working on.

At the moment, I have just started a modified version of the #100themewriters challenge. I will be writing all 100 original themes, in order, with each serving as a chapter in a cohesive and entertaining (I hope) novel. Each chapter must fully illustrate the theme that provides its title, as well as progressing the story of the novel in a meaningful way.

I was blocked for about three days while trying to write a short piece for the first theme. Both mind and screen were completely blank, and not a single idea disrupted the tranquility of either. Then, whilst bemoaning my seeming inability to write short fiction, it occurred to me that it would be much easier to write a 100 chapter novel than to write 100 short stories (I have to admit to never having cared much for short stories, the exception being Michael Ondaatje's work). The light bulb flicked on, the bathtub overflowed (Eureka!), I narrowly avoided electrocution, and I was suddenly writing a novel. By the time I had typed the chapter titles into my outlining/writing software I had already formulated the general story arc for a sci-fi novel with three interconnecting plotlines. Huzzah, and so forth.

But enough with the chit chat. I have writing to do.

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