I haven’t done an update for Claw & Quill in a bit, but I did promise I’d make occasional ones. This will be the last “open” one, though—if you’re interested in seeing future highly-occasional progress reports, you’ll have to ask to be put on the filter. (Those of you who asked last time should already be on it.)
So far the only public information I’ve put up is just the placeholder page, which at the moment describes C&Q with,
The new Claw & Quill intends to be a community site for fantasy and science fiction writing. There will be a bias toward anthropomorphic themes and urban fantasy, but no formal content restriction.
poetigress immediately noted that this suggests I’m aiming at an sf/fantasy site that allows furry stuff, rather than an anthropomorphic site where non-furry stuff is allowed. (I’m not even open and I’m controversial! Go me!) While I replied back then in a way that hopefully wasn’t too hand-wavy, her basic point is that shying away from “furry” (even if we go by the less jargony name “anthropomorphic”) because of the baggage associated with it is counterproductive if you want to see the baggage go away, or at least be reduced to a point where it’s a comfortable size for carry-ons.
I’m opening with this little note in part to see what other people think, and also because I think that she’s right. This makes me think about the way Renard’s Menagerie seemed to be targeted—trying to expand beyond the fandom by, for practical purposes, ducking it. This ties in with a comment I recall from Jeff Eddy, Sofawolf’s publisher, on one of my posts a while ago where I suggested that furry ‘zines needed to avoid “inbreeding” by soliciting and advertising outside the fandom:
In soliciting submissions on the mainstream writers’ market sites we have definitely gotten some gems. […] On the other hand, we have also gotten a lot of… not gems. So not gems in some cases, but more often than not just yawn-inspiring. Ultimately I have come to a few conclusions:
The fandom is, on balance, pretty good at what we do. I think the mainstream can come up with a good talking animal sotry, but it seems that most writers have only one of these in them. Not being steeped in the “culture” they tend to view them as oddities and one-offs and never write another.
The fandom is also pretty selective, at least the part of the fandom willing to drop money on a non-adult title. Since the furry market is also (our) main source of income you have to keep that in mind. Any attempt to forge out into the mainstream has to be launched from a position of strength. As such, I found myself turning down stories on the basis of, “This is pretty well done and is probably very innovative to mainstream markets, but here in the talking-animal fandom it’s cliché.”
Assuming that this is all correct—and I think it is—it’s not too surprising that RM folded recently. Of course, Sofawolf has trouble getting enough material from the fandom to keep magazines going, and I confess that’s part of why I’m still a little concerned about trying to position C&Q as “the premiere furry story site”: it seems to me there’s a non-zero risk that being the premiere furry story site is like being the best left-handed pool player in New Jersey. It’s not that it’s a meaningless distinction, but in and of itself it only gets you so far.
Not too surprisingly, things have been a bit slow due to the holidays, but before I got stuck in Christmas mode I did a lot of database design work. While the design work is probably only meaningful to the nerdiest among you, here’s a link to the EER Diagram as it currently exists:
That was created in a currently Windows-only program called MySQL Workbench, which again is more detail than most of you need—but if you do database design work, it’s worth looking into: it generated the SQL necessary to create that database, with proper foreign key constraints, from that diagram.
Beyond the database work, I’ve laid out some other infrastructure; C&Q has its own bug tracking system, version control repository, and other happy geek buzzwords. I’m starting to implement it in CakePHP, a web framework I worked with in my last job and that I mock a lot—but it’s pretty good at what it needs to be. I have very little actual code written yet and I may switch to another framework (possibly CodeIgniter), but the window for that decision is closing.
There’s a lot that isn’t set yet, of course—some of which relates to policy more than implementation. I’ll bat around those things next post (for which you’ll need to be on the C&Q filter, remember), but I’ll leave with another graphic: a mockup idea for the front page.
N.B.: The filter so far consists of chipuni, graveyardgreg, haikujaguar, ladyperegrine, and poetigress. I may add people in my writing group even if they don’t ask, but I’d really rather have a direct request. (You can do it by comment here, private message, Twitter, email, IM, whatever.)