So. As is yearly tradition, time to shill for the Ursa Major Awards.

Yes, most of we authors involved in the furry fandom do this. Partly to call attention to the awards’ existence, but also in the hopes of motivating our readers to go over to the UMA site (www.ursamajorawards.org) and get us onto the nominations ballot. As is my way, I have left this until close to the last moment, giving you barely a week to do so.

My elligible work for the year is, basically, just my novella Dangerous Jade, which I shill for over here.

There’s also a free work I threw up online, (and ‘threw up’ is perhaps an apt way to describe it for more reasons than the obvious metaphor,) Jack, Schuyler’s Giant Killer. (Kyell Gold described it as ‘Dark surrealist fantasy. Amazing.’) You can read that over here.

You have until the end of the month to make your UMA nominations – hop to it!

And that’s about as far as you need to read this.

No, really.

I’m serious.

All you get from this point onward is vaguely negative blather.

Why?

As you may or may not know, the leading light of the fandom’s literature, Kyell Gold, has recused himself from this year’s awards. I know some people look at this as being good for the awards and good for the fandom, and that it’s ‘big’ of him, but personally, I don’t view it like that.

I think the number of writers in the furry fandom who are worth reading can be counted on one hand. Kyell is one of the few. And for years, and years, and years, I have seen people slagging off Kyell for winning a dozen awards on the basis that ‘Gay Sex Sells’. That he could never have done it without appealing to readers’ base urges.

Kyell may be best known for writing gay furry erotica, but that isn’t why he’s won very nearly every writing Ursa since 2005. In case you hadn’t noticed, there are a very large number of people writing gay erotica in the furry fandom. There is a lot of competition. Kyell has been winning these things because he’s very, very, very, very, very, good at what he does.

He’s no Hemingway, and (disclaimer) I edit for him, and some of his work is weaker and some of it’s stronger, but it is fucking good and it deserves recognition. I’m straight and have to kind of cover my eyes while reading the sex scenes for logic errors, and I think his work’s good. It’s not for everybody, but it’s good. The relationships he writes about (the major one I like is Dev and Lee) are heartfelt, evoke plenty of feelings, and, are, in short, entertaining even with the putative reader shouting ‘The Saints Go Marching In’ at the top of their lungs while skimming past the erotica.

But, y’know. Clearly erotica’s the problem skewing who gets an Ursa Major Award. Clearly the reading public don’t know what they like. Clearly we should all be terribly concerned with the Ursa Majors and who wins them and why and dig into it and throw around our petty jealousies and reassure ourselves that, no, that guy who won it didn’t win it legitimately, it was because of X or Y, (or XY and XY), and if only we whore ourselves out to the readers that little bit harder this year, we’re going to win that Ursa Major, we’re going to get the recognition we DESERVE, and we’re going to somehow become ‘Real Authors’.

Naturally, I have some problems with the Ursa Majors.

The key problem I have is that I need to shill for them.

The Ursa Majors are not my awards, they are not Kyell’s awards, they are, in short — and this is the thing we have all missed in this — they are the fan’s awards. They are your awards. They are voted for by anyone who walks over to the UMA website and puts down their details and declares they have an interest in this ‘furry’ thing. They are voted for by the furry fandom.

I don’t have any right to, once a year, get out my soap box and shill. I mean, yes, I’d love, love to recieve an Ursa Major Award. I would LOVE to be nominated — if you like my work, please don’t hesitate to go and sign up and include my work amongst your nominations, or go and edit your already existent nominations to add me in. But I don’t have the right to do that, I don’t think. Because they’re your awards. Not mine. I only get that award if you want to give it to me. I don’t think shilling once over the course of a year entitles me to get that kind of support from you. I need to actually write something, get it infront of your eyes, and entertain you enough with it to get you to feel the need to reward me for it by getting involved with the UMAs. I can’t do that with a tweet or a blog post or whatever the hell.

My fan base is (at the moment) small in comparison with those of other, more successful authors, but, y’know, you guys and gals who know my writing and like it? I appreciate the hell out of you. You help me get up in the morning and trudge through editting my own work, because, well. I don’t want to shill to you all for approval — I want to entertain you. I want to add a little bit of magic to your lives. That is what makes me a ‘real author’.

That is what makes Kyell a ‘real author’. He adds magic and entertains. This is why he’s been recognised with an Ursa every year since 2005 until now. And frankly, I think he should get another one. Green Fairy — which would have been elligible this year, if he hadn’t stepped aside — is one of this best works thusfar, primarily because of the Montmartre plotline.

These Ursa Majors? If you’re interested in the furry fandom, they’re your awards. They’re your way to get organized and highlight what you thought was the best stuff out there this past year.

Am I up there for you? If so, awesome. But I really shouldn’t be yelling about these awards. You should. It’s kind of sad that the people who seem to pay the most attention to the Ursas are those who think they’ve got something to gain by winning. But, truth is, winning an Ursa Major doesn’t gain you anything. If you win one, it puts you on some websites and gives you a certificate. It doesn’t change that you’ve got those same fans you had before out there.

So. Ultimately? I’m just happy you guys are rooting for me. Please do nominate me… But if you want to do me a real favour, stick around, and keep reading my work. All that other stuff — Amazon reviews, talking to your friends about me, buying me a yacht, winning me some awards — that’s all secondary. The real point of this writing gig is entertaining you, after all.

Which brings us back around to the point of this digression. Kyell’s recused himself from consideration for the Ursa Majors. And I don’t think that’s right. Because his fans were motivating themselves to vote for him, to give him those awards… and I think he should get them. My work… I’m a writer, I can’t be a fan of my own work. But I can be a fan of others. So, if you’re a Kyell Gold fan, like I am, don’t forget to let him know that you think his work’s some of the best.

So, y’know. Go tell your favourite authors/artists/creatives that you think their work’s great.

That is what the Ursa Major Awards are for.