Archive for March, 2009

Pictures!

Posted in Uncategorized on March 30, 2009 by Jaym Gates

Hey, look at that, I CAN wear a dress!!

For the record, I made a couple of guys speechless, and got whistled at. It was a great day. Especially since it was raining on a level with Noah’s Flood and I had a hefty dose of “pissed off” from work that morning.

Jaym can wear a dress!

Jaym can wear a dress!

And, just, me happy and about as in my element as I’ll be back here. Barefoot, jeans and tanktop, loose hair and trees, perched on a railing. Just need a book and tea!

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Showing vs. Telling

Posted in Uncategorized on March 26, 2009 by Jaym Gates

Kiser and I had a discussion about showing vs. telling in a rough draft. I tend to write a rough draft of telling, a very detailed plot basically, and then go and revise later on, adding up to twice as much content to flesh out the details. So the first draft looks like crap!

It has a tendency to read like a laundry list. “They did this, went here, he said this, she kissed that.” Ok, not quite that bad. And I don’t write the end until the second draft. I’ll do scenes from the end, but the last few sentences won’t even be added until the book is otherwise finished. The opening sentences will be rewritten for months to get just the right words.

In RED SUN, I had a bit of a gimmick. The events of the prologue were exquisitely suited for the Pledge of Allegiance. To me, the prologue was the best part of the book by a mile. No dialogue, but it wasn’t telling, it was showing!

So, the first draft, I tell myself the story. The second draft, I show myself the world and the characters. The third draft, I oil and polish and wrap the story in pretty paper and ribbon. See? Formulas DO work!

Words

Posted in Uncategorized on March 26, 2009 by Jaym Gates

A while back, I got in a disagreement about the meaning of “Success”. Basically, I said it had to be something personal, that I would know when I was successful.

Well, I think it counts 100% as successful when my words inspire or help another person in any way, shape or form. I clearly remember about a dozen statements or stories that shaped my life, and so maybe I place more value on words than others.

But when someone thanks you for your words…

Does it really matter then how many best-sellers I write? Quality, not quantity, that’s the measure of success.

Prophecy

Posted in Uncategorized on March 24, 2009 by Jaym Gates

“You have governed well, Priestess,” he acknowledged, glancing over the peaceful houses. Lights blinked out as the residents went to sleep at last. Wind snuffled through the streets, stirring leaves and branches in restless boredom. A stray tendril of air ruffled the man’s hair, and he reached up, grabbing it to wrap it in his fingers. “Winds have increased.”
She nodded, stroking her weathered fingers along her lips. “The children of the Three. These are the Stewards of the nation, the heralds of the ones to come.”
The dragon wearing a lord’s skin looked at her in question. Her dim eyes saw little of the now, and yet leagues into the future.
“The Dark Witch will break the world you have built, and birth a new one. Divide the Three, strike them down one by one, raise a new crown to the lands. Beware her, dragon, she is older and wiser than any of you, and has seen the world end, and will see it begin yet again. Born mortal, die immortal. Beware you do not seek to stop her, for if you do, the world shall end in truth, and the Children of Ruin will rule us all.”
Mortathes did not bother to ask her to tell more. The Priestess told the future as she saw it. He had never earned further knowledge from pressing her, and so he bent over her wrinkled hand and kissed it, then turned and strode away into the hills for solitude. He would return soon enough to begin the task of raising a Child to be a King.
The Priestess watched him go, a smile of mystery and promise wrinkling across her face. Then she stepped out of the world.

The Priestess is a shadowy figure in the INHERENT world. Very old, very wise, very powerful but no one has ever seen her use her power. She never has a hand in war or violence of any sort, and doesn’t meddle in the affairs of the world, but always knows what will happen, and sometimes tells people what will happen so they can make the correct choices. The only things known about her are that she is older than Mortathes, and Mortathes respects and trusts her implicitly in a way he trusts no one else. She is never seen in Cume after the Kin-wars, but there is no record of her leaving.

Posted in Uncategorized on March 23, 2009 by Jaym Gates

First, the manager sets off an alarm. Can’t figure out how to make it shut up. Hey, it’s six am, you try and think that quickly at six am. Anyways, she accidentally sets off the fire alarm instead. Ten minutes later, the cavalry arrives, ladder truck and all, and the boys bundle out looking all serious and important. Little hard to take the job seriously when you’ve got a group of soccer moms commenting on your butt I guess. Takes them half an hour of looking, finally find the shut-off. By this point, we’re all whimpering from teh splitting screeches and strobing lights of the alarms, and all the other buildings in the complex are hosting a mini-disco. Ha. That was a barrel of fun. On top of that, the second manager was two hours late, we were short-handed, woohoo that was amusing. The manager is NEVER going to live it down.

It does make the morning better however when the firefighters are giving you the once-over… and the twice over, and a few smiles and some flirting. Hey, I like having friends in high places.

An hour of trying on dresses that have gathered dust in the closets for a year, remembering how to walk in heels, finding weird positions to try and get the damn zippers closed. Apparently, bets are being made and cameras smuggled into work, since I’ve let it be known I’m stopping by on the way to the wedding. That should be hilarious.

I’ve also been chasing down genealogy stuff, since it’s been coming up recently that some questions weren’t answered by previous research. Good god, it gets rough when everyone married their cousin!

So, the next few days are full of a ton of work for the magazine, planning a baby shower for a friend, catching up with other friends, posting here, writing stuff, making some jewelry, researching family, making business calls… *pauses to catch breath* Geez.

Cover Letters

Posted in Uncategorized on March 17, 2009 by Jaym Gates

So far, the WORST part of the writing process is DEFINATELY the cover letter. The synopsis isn’t too bad. But yes, the query/cover is horrible. I hate it.

That being said, I sent out New Name today to Leading Edge Magazine. We’ll see how that goes. I did a bunch more editing on it, but I swear, I could edit that damn thing for the rest of my life and it would still have a ton of things I don’t like. The editing is the second worst part. Blech.

Short!

Posted in Uncategorized on March 12, 2009 by Jaym Gates

Sorry guys, running out of time, and go too much going on.

Yesterday sucked, on all levels. Today WILL be better. I command it.

Anyways, INHERENT is now organized in the format it will be laid out in the book, and notes on needed scenes are written. Looks like about two thousand words to chop out, whole scenes that don’t fit anymore. That will be done later.

Also, I’ve committed to finishing the Beauty and the Beast story by August 1, and attempting to have it published. Tentative title is “Saints and Virgins”, word-count goal is 10,000. Eventually, I would like to publish it in a collection with my other “myths”.

That’s all for now kids, although if anyone is looking for a good book, I strongly recommend Bradbury’s (Thank you FW) “Something Wicked This Way Comes”. He’s a master. And the book is really a long short story, with equal parts horror and innocence. I loved it!

On Feminism and Characters

Posted in Uncategorized on March 11, 2009 by Jaym Gates

(Today’s song is Paco Santiago’s “Oriental: Movmiento 1”. A most excellent modern song, following a classical styling.)

Strong female characters are still few and far between in fantasy. Why? Because you honestly can’t win writing about them!

I work with a few feminists. So are a lot of the columnists I work with. As such, I’ve had to read/edit a few documents written on feminist topics, such as “This author does not write good feminist characters!”, and listen to complaints about how women are treated. Now, let me state right here that I am of the opinion “live and let live”, and that my viewpoint is somewhat accidentally (obviously, being a woman, I’m pro-me, anti-discrimination, etc. I don’t yell about a guy opening a door for me, but just try chaining me to a hearth!!) feminist. But I really do feel we’ve gone a little too far towards making everyone happy.

Fantasy is especially difficult to tread the thin and narrow. Generally, as fantasy writers, we write about cultures based on those in the past. Few of them, especially the most popular European stock-races, were exactly feminist as we view things today. In fact, in a culture based on war and agriculture, it’s not particularly viable to have a purely “equal” culture. Unless you want to head into the scary waters of “MPreg”, which I prefer to run screaming from at every possible opportunity. Just, wrong. Wrong. WRONG!!!

In an agricultural society, men are stronger, and therefor, better suited to herding and ploughing and stuffs requiring testosterone and muscles. Women, being the child-bearers, needed to stay in and take care of their progeny. Unfair, but the way it is. In a warrior society, women are necessary in larger numbers to provide the same number of offspring that one man can provide. You can kill off a dozen men in battle, and not suffer too badly on the birthrate, but a dozen women is a bad thing.

There were also elements of society that surprise a lot of people who don’t read history very carefully. Tolkien’s Shield-maidens were borrowed from Viking culture, where a virgin woman was allowed to fight alongside the men, and often did at least as much damage as their male counterparts. Cheyenne women often rode to war with their men, there are accounts of several female warriors who accounted for a good deal of coup and courage. Eleanor of Aquitaine remains remembered to this day for riding to Crusade with her husband, for plotting against the king, for ruling a duchy with great success, for instituting a great deal of culture and societal advancement, and for basically making a large handful of the European royal men (and clergy) deeply uncomfortable. Incidentally, there are theories that say her son, Richard Lionheart, was gay. There’s a Bear for you!

There are also Middle Eastern cultures that had “real” Amazons, women who were warriors and commanders, who led their people and were held in high esteem. Moorish women were doctors, lawyers, authors, even Victorian women could write or own a business. The point is, society can support a feminist view-point, but seldom in the way that authors seem to think. And most cultures were very rigid in their ideas and practices. They learned what worked, and stuck to it. They struggled for survival, and every member of society was expected to contribute as needed, according to their strengths. The concept of individual advancement and enjoyment are fairly recent concepts, brought on by greater freedom and wealth.

Female characters tend to be less common than male. Understandable, they are significantly harder to write well. But what frustrates me is when a warrior-woman is called a trope, or worse, a kow-towing to feminist demands, at the same time that the soft princess is derided for being a pansy. Male characters are expected to be one thing. Hunter. Warrior. Mage. Healer. King. Around those cores are built the personality.

But when a woman is one of those things…

Take Eowyn from LOTR. A Shield-maiden, a princess, she struggled against the common expectations of a Saxon-derived culture. Women were not expected to go to war, but to be protected, which she detested. Growing up in a largely male, warrior-dominated household, that is not surprising. Yet she showed a great deal of class, stepping up to the plate when needed, and in the end, proving herself on the battlefield and saving a great deal of pain and grief. The worst gripe I’ve seen about her? “She loved Aragorn”. And then she had the GALL to fall for Faramir. Wait, so a woman isn’t allowed to fall in love? Has anyone ever heard of puppy-love, crushes, etc? There is not much of that in high fantasy, where love tends to be undying and soul-shattering. Remember, Aragorn rode to war with her grandfather. He was a legend among their people, the rock-star of his day. Eowyn developed a crush on him, but then was wise enough to understand the grace and strength of Faramir. Faramir went head-over heels for her. Two lonely, misunderstood people found kindred spirits and were happy. How is this a weak character or anti-feminist? I am confused.

(And the examples could continue, if time allowed. Rhapsody of Hayden’s series, the female officers of Novik’s historical fantasy, Stackpole’s female villains)

A woman is a trope if she rides to war with the men and kicks butt. She’s a pathetic, male-dominated and anti-feminist symbol if she stays home with the children and watches anxiously for her husband and son to return. She’s a pathetic, spoiled brat stepping out of place if she attempts to make a difference in her kingdom through politics, but charitable work reduces her to a weak twit in a heartbeat.

Female characters take more thought and deliberation to write into a story, accurately, especially in a culture with strong ideas regarding gender roles. That’s what makes it so fun. But, as of now, the expectations for a female character are almost ridiculously high as a general rule.

Lower the bar a little, if you want equality. Men and women have different strengths, different desires. Both are necessary to make the world work. Both have weaknesses and failings.

Give the girls a break. Don’t expect all of them to be goddesses.

Milestones!

Posted in Uncategorized on March 10, 2009 by Jaym Gates

As of 2:17 pm on March 10, 2009, INHERENT stands at 50,000 words. The draft is over half done. Now a couple of days to relax and work on short stories/background, then the final charge towards 80,000 by the end of April.

~ Corri raised her eyes to an eastern window. “When we returned from the war to find mother gone, father heard something. I don’t know what, but I know that he was worried, and afraid. I doubt the Idaemo would be easily devoured by a demon they were born with, they are half dragon after all. This Beast mother talks about, he could be here.” ~

Monday Monday

Posted in Uncategorized on March 10, 2009 by Jaym Gates

Watched Hancock today, and wow. Very nice. It’s not overtly fantasy, but since there are God’s Angels in the story, (and they’ve been posing as superheroes…), this is definately fantasy. Mentions of Persia and Brooklyn in the same sentence tend to spell “fantasy” to me. Hancock is a modern, funny, real retelling of the old theme of guardian angels.

Speaking of guardian angels… Right now, my cat is fighting with my mother to win free of being tortured by the stick. Then he goes and has a mild spazz attack on the furniture. How the beast is still alive, lord only knows, has to be because of guardian angels.

Tomorrow will be another landmark in INHERENT: 50,000 words. I wrote 1700 today, to bring it up to a current total of 48,700. I started this book the first week of January, sitting on about 1000 words. So, in just over two months (with about two weeks of doing almost nothing!), I have written 47,000 words. A staggering difference from RED SUN.

And in other news, I’m back to working on Shadow and Soul. With the amount of common history between INHERENT and Shadow and Soul, I have to focus on getting the facts straight. Previously, I’ve been sort of playing around with the pieces and putting them here and there as I fancied.

Shadow and Soul has been slowly building since I was 13. It’s time for it to start taking real shape.