Archive for November, 2008

Blech

Posted in Uncategorized on November 29, 2008 by Jaym Gates

Sick, working too much, family troubles, work troubles, heart troubles (the emotional type, not physical thankfully!). Still got a lot to be thankful this year.

Happy Thanksgiving everyone!

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Ouch…

Posted in Uncategorized on November 24, 2008 by Jaym Gates

My subconscious is an evil little bastard. I had this terrible dream last night, where, somehow, I’d managed to inhale/eat/somehowswallow shattered glass. Not just little pieces either, I distinctly “remember” one of them being about half an inch long. I woke up to a throat that felt suspiciously like tattered ribbon, and discovered, about midnight, that I’m sick. The DAY BEFORE FAMILY ARRIVES, I’m sick.

And I’ve done no writing. I never do, right before I see them. Too stressed!

Cooooooold

Posted in Uncategorized on November 22, 2008 by Jaym Gates

Woohoo! First rejection! Sadly, it’s by email. So I get to sulk about it and figure out if I’m ambitious enough to print it out and frame it. Probably not.

It’s COLD this morning! 20 degrees! And it was 70 last WEEK! What the hell is wrong with this place? Don’t get me wrong, I live for cold weather. But indecisive weather is just killing me here. I never know how to dress anymore…

Between getting ready for the grandparents, editing New Name, looking for a new job, and keeping up with the one I have, I’m slammed. But, off to work. Again.

Cuisine, or “The diary of a love-stricken girl”

Posted in Uncategorized on November 21, 2008 by Jaym Gates

Hey, look! A second post! (warning, food porn ahead!)

You know that simple cous-cous and zucchini I talked about? Mmm, turned into a cous-cous and zucchini and cashew extravaganza.

I have a problem. I firmly believe in simple, local and fresh food. I just like to play with it until it has turned into something heavenly.

Let me describe this grand experience for you.

The cous-cous is like a very tiny, al dente pasta that rolls smoothly over the tongue, punctuated by the pop of sesame seeds and the buttery crunch of cashews. Zucchini, steamed just to that perfect juicy meltiness, adds a bit of lightness to the dish, which is topped off with a sauce of Marsala wine and butter, seasoned with cipollini onions, garlic, Harissa spice, creme fraiche and local goat cheese. Rounded out by a nice 2006 California Zinfandel, I’m in food heaven.

I kid you not, I eat like this most of the time. And you wonder why restaurants are a waste of time?

Sugar-coffee, feathers and creme fraiche

Posted in Musings on November 21, 2008 by Jaym Gates

So I just realized that I had forgotten today’s blog post. It wasn’t lack of time, although I’ve busted my ass being accomplished today. Oh well, now I actually have something to ramble about.

There’s a decided dearth of good, local coffee shops around here, incidentally. Seriously, about 6 in the whole of Charlotte. One I know is good, but inconvenient. So I tried out the only other one near me, Dilworth Coffee House, and have to say, reviews are mixed. I tried the Crème Brulee coffee, and just about went into sugar shock. WAY too sweet. I like my coffee like the rest of life: a little rough, a little tough, leather rather than lace (although lace does have benefits), quadruple-shot-no-whip-extra-hot (half an hour before bedtime at that, it just doesn’t affect me). This was sugary, lacked a real, identifiable flavor, and has me lukewarm about going back. Then again, they were friendly. Ahhhh, Life’s a Grind, how I miss thee and thy Nutty Cows (best hazelnut latte ever!).

But I did get a bunch of leather and feathers and chains tonight. No, it’s not for THAT… I need to make some more masks, soooo, here’s to trying them free-form. Yay.

I’m going to go clean now, and figure out how long this sugar-high is going to last. Maybe the Israeli cous-cous with zucchini and crème fraiche will temper it down a little. Have a good night!

NaNo Rant (my only one for this year)

Posted in Rants on November 19, 2008 by Jaym Gates

I remember the moment that started my writing career, the moment I found the real passion for it. I was in the truck with my grandmother on our ranch. This was right around the time of September 11, 2001, I was heading into one of the worst periods of my life, a good friend of mine was dying from cancer—at age 13—and my grandfather was so sick we weren’t sure how long he’d be around. My family life was shot, and I was half a step away from suicide.

And that cold, rainy morning, sick at heart and afraid of what was coming, I picked up a pencil and wrote a poem. When my grandmother read it to my grandfather, he started crying. I don’t really know why. Both my grandparents and my great-grandparents have that poem, and the two that followed, mounted in prominent places. My grandfather’s clients still ask who wrote that piece, since it’s in the reception area of his office. Within the next couple of months, I’d picked up a copy of Lord of the Rings, a forbidden commodity in my house, just like the rest of the mythology I loved, and a passion was sparked.

I never had a formal writing instruction. I don’t have a high-school diploma, due to the odd circumstances of my teenage years (although I’m in college, thankfully!). The only thing I have going for me is determination, passion and desire. Every bit of skill I have is the result of writing and trashing and writing it again, studying other authors, assimilating bits and pieces into an ever-smoother whole. All of this has been while I’ve been working, attending school, volunteering, fighting through serious emotional problems.

So it irritates me a little bit when my craft is dismissed as the stuff of wannabes. It irritates me when someone scribbles a little, and passes shit off as real writing. It irritates me when the line is blurred between those who want to write, and those who do.

Writing as a hobby is fine. I have no issue with that, because that’s all I thought I’d ever do. Plenty of my friends write casually, and I have no problem with that, because they know they only write casually, but that I work at it. They’ve learned not to whine about not having time or talent, because I love telling them otherwise.

But when things come along that flaunt the idea above the skill, and offer quick answers without work, then I start getting down right annoyed. Word count is all that matters, not the story, not the characters, not the skill. Don’t worry about any of that drivel, if you can get 50,000 words, you’re all good. I applaud the basic idea. It’s a challenge. You have to push yourself beyond any reasonable limit.

Where it crashes and burns is in the execution and reality. 900 words a day is a tough push. That’s with one day off a week. If I have a story I believe in, one that’s already plotted out and has a framework around it, I can hit 1000 words a day, consistently. Any more than that and both my personal life and my quality as a writer suffer. Frustration and self-doubt set in, the story loses cohesion, and begins wandering all across creation.

My goals started out as 350 words a day, now, with a novel and short story behind me, it’s climbed to 900-1000 words six days a week.

Reasonable goals mean I don’t have to stoop to such lows as the time-damned cliché of transporting my characters magically to another place and time, or having one of them conveniently get amnesia. These are the signs of someone who needs to go spend a few years working on the craft before they pick up a pen again. This is discouraged however, as wordcount is all that matters in these scenarios.

There are a lot of good writers out there. Even a few great writers. I’m sure many of them take part in NaNoWriMo and possibly even succeed without absolutely scrapping any semblance of skill or talent.

But the next time someone comments on the child’s play that is writing, or the absolute crap that is all they’ve seen, or how writers are out of touch with reality, or why beginner/new era writers aren’t worth the air they breathe, think about the examples we’re setting.

Do you want to be seen as someone who only does it to say they can, and they are writers, or do you do it because you love the craft, because you genuinely want to improve and succeed?

It’s like having children. You don’t have to do it. But if you are going to, make damn sure that you’ve done your homework first, and that you know what you’re getting into. Then go and do your damnedest to make it a benefit to the world, not just another nightmare.

#

Nov. 18

Posted in Uncategorized on November 18, 2008 by Jaym Gates

Apparently I need pressure and a stiff goal. At least in the mornings. And please reserve your jokes, FW and I made all of them last night about unicorns.

This next couple of weeks is going to be hectic enough that I’m opting out of any sort of obligation. My grandparents arrive a week from today, and will be here for 8 days. In the meantime, I’ve got lots to do to get the house ready for them. Cooking, cleaning, shopping, planning, I’ll almost be domesticated. And I’ll be working the entire time they are here, which means early mornings and late nights and no sleep. So if all I get done is queries, I forgive myself. I’m also going to nix the daily blog until Dec. 1. I’ll still post, but not every day probably.

When I get back, I’ll be starting on Iron Cross. 400-500 words a day for now, until I get through the holidays, just to start setting it up. After I get back from California, I’ll transition to 900 words a day, and see if I can get that wrapped up. Which means I should have a second completed manuscript by May!

So now I have to go try and get motivated! I have the next two days off, so I’ll send out queries and edit New Name. Friday morning, the 500 begins!