Archive for July, 2009


Posted in Uncategorized on July 31, 2009 by Jaym Gates

Plucking invisible strings with invisible fingers
Dancing into nightmares and writhing along dreams
Pulling and culling
Seeking and weeping
These fondest horrors we relive
A monument to the shadows we build
A home for the lonely goblin and the lost redcap
Creatures of song and spell we glorify and denigrate
Vampire, nixie, pixie
Unasked and unmasked
Pretty things loving horrible things in carnal and holy embrace
Each a forgotten song
An unamended wrong
Plucked on invisible strings with glass fingers
Dancing into nightmares and writhing along dreams
Mulling and nulling
Hearing and searing
Bloody hands and weeping prayers
Memories of creatures cold
Wishes of fairy gold
Harlot and anthropoglot in a back lot
These things we treasure
Beyond measure
Pretty terrors and dreams of happy tragedy
Held willing captive in the house of horror
To a tale told by the frightful conjurer
These fondest terrors we seek

Wastelands: History of the Breed Empire pt. 1

Posted in Guest Blogs, Wastelands with tags , , , , on July 30, 2009 by Jaym Gates

Another great guest-column from Havoc about the Wastelands forum-based RPG!

ENTRY 5: A History of The Breed Empire-Part 1

We’ll be deviating from a bit of game stuff today to bring you a small piece of history from Wastelands. Namely, a multi-part series on the rise and breakup of The Breed Empire.

PART ONE: The Rebellion

The birth of a nation can be a very violent thing. In some cases it can be very smooth and quiet, but given the past history of humanity, it does not always come to pass. The Breed were no exception either. When Horatio Scarab the first vowed to show humanity their inhumanity through what they had created (IE: them) he planned and made sure that it would be an example that would carve a permanent mark in world history.

This mark is known as the Six Months War. Named as such for its length. The Breed call it ‘The Tyrant’s Fall’ and the end of it is regarded among the breed as a national holiday. During this time, the Breed had access to the massive funds of a genetics research and engineering company by the name of Gentech Engineering. With almost a billion in funds, and a long yet carefully thought out plan, Scarab and the hybrids infiltrated the American people over almost a century. There they appeared human, among real humans, orcs, trolls and elves and went unnoticed, until there had been enough to infiltrate aspects of the US government. Namely the higher echelons of the military. Once it had been done, the breed found access to the numerous minuteman missile silos all over the US. In 2115, when the world was in utter turmoil and the US was seen as one of only a few places where there was no conflict, the breed prepared for their strike. Predictably, the president of the time saw it as the duty of the US to make the world safe for democracy and deployed a large number of armed forces throughout the world. Most notably Europe to keep the peace, Africa to assist in aiding the defenders against the spider-centaurs known as arachnains, and China to aid in pushing back the naga.

At this time, the breed attacked, launching several of the missiles at key targets in the US to cripple their war machine and cut off the rest of the forces from the mainland. Despite the advanced technology and numbers, the breed were able to isolate and destroy the traces of resistance thanks to their planning and access to tried and true weapons. At the end of the conflict, the last of the US forces retreated to the West Coast. Scarab decided to show them a grand gesture that would be the end of United States. One that would also show the rest of the world just how far the breed were willing to go against their enemies. A massive nuclear bombardment. Using several minuteman missiles, the breed launched them along a single massive and coordinated strike against the West Coast, turning the entire region, from the southern reaches of California to the Washington/British Colombia border into a nuclear wasteland. Virtually nothing survived the assault and the background radiation is still present to this day.

With no clear power in the chaos, the breed, under Scarab formed an empire. They modeled themselves after the Romans as they identified with the conquering forces. They set about rebuilding and separating the normals from their own. The humans, orcs trolls and elves found themselves without a leader and forced into the ruins of the once glorious American cities. The few that hadn’t been ruined with conflict were claimed by the breed. Not all the normals went quietly though, and many to this day fight a guriella war against the Empire.

To combat this threat, two military forces were created. One for matters of the state and internal affairs, known as the Population Defense Force, or PDF. Forming a mix of national guard and police force, the PDF quickly earned a reputation for being brutal and straightforward.

The second has become synonymous with war in the Americas and are an example of the blending of animal instinct and human intellect and how powerful they are when working together. The Imperial Legions.

That is all for now folks! See you next time for the golden age of the empire!


Hmmmm…. 7/30

Posted in Uncategorized with tags , , , , , on July 29, 2009 by Jaym Gates

Is holy water still holy if you cook with it? Y’know, vegetables lose a lot of their value when cooked… Is the same true of holy water? Can I have Holy Soup? Dinner and a weapon!

Ask not where these questions come from…

The first draft of Hidden is finished at 3600 words! I consider it to be the closest I’ve come to something approaching New Name in voice and quality.

Next up: finish Logrozana and be able to start on the bulk of Inherent tomorrow!

Nowhere to Submit?

Posted in Theories and Thoughts with tags , , on July 29, 2009 by Jaym Gates

Looking for a magazine to submit my short stories to has been a little frustrating, a little depressing too. So many of them say ‘Closed’, ‘not open till August of 2300AA (After Apocalypse, thank you very much)’. While I have a submission list, I have maybe five magazines to submit to.

That irritated me. And then today, I started thinking about it and came to a somewhat startling realization.

I’d love to have subscriptions to all of these magazines so that I can see the awesome work that I’m trying to match. I’d like to have them just because I love short stories. The problem? I don’t have anywhere near enough money to subscribe to F&SF, Ideomancer, Strange Horizons, Clarkesworld, Cemetery Dance, and however many other great magazines are out there. There are too many options.

Effectively, it’s a bunch of publications trying to fill the same niche at the same time. Which is awesome. Market diversity is a great thing. But when magazines and anthologies are the only short-story market, it will get glutted in a hurry.

A lot of magazines have closed recently, and with the economy being what it is, plenty of others seem to be tightening their belts along with the rest of us. I don’t think the answer is to start more magazines. We’ve already seen that the market can’t support that many. Like it or not, a lot of places are moving online.

Personally, I love print. I like print books, print newspapers, print magazines. There’s something so satisfying about holding a book, turning the pages. I can’t read an entire book in one sitting at my computer. I tried that with Anne Bishop’s Dark Jewels series. I can read a book in one sitting, if it’s in my comfy chair with a soft lamp and a cup of tea. I can’t tell you how many hours have slipped away in that manner. I love sitting at the breakfast table in the morning, reading a magazine while sipping tea or OJ. It’s a bit of escapism, because I spend so much time at my computer.

Also, if I have something in print I own it. Even an ebook can be lost in those all too-frequent computer crashes.

I’ve mentioned before that short stories don’t really get much love, and certainly not as much respect as a novel. But some of our most enduring literary works are little more than short stories, or compilations of short stories.

As a kid, we spent hours in the evening, reading out loud. It wasn’t that we didn’t have anything to do, or that we weren’t tired. My grandfather still puts in 10-12 hour days at his engineering office, my grandmother runs the property and takes care of the animals and does all of the taxes and bookwork and errands. When I was young, we were involved heavily in church as well. I was home-schooled for a long time. We watched plenty of movies (but no TV).

We would read a book a week at least… out loud. Short stories, novels, religious reading. It is one of the best memories of my life. It taught me inflection, pronunciation, appreciation. It helped me overcome a mild speech impediment (although that has reappeared to some degree… possibly because I don’t read aloud anymore!)

Short stories are perfect to read aloud at family night.

Short stories are something even busy people can commit to. Teenagers won’t get bored as quickly… And do you really want them reading something that’s the quality of Twilight or Eragon when there are such wonderful options available?

Short stories are great for giving yourself an introduction to a particular author’s work. There are many authors I’d never have picked up except for reading one of their short stories.

In short, let’s have more anthologies. Let’s give short stories some love, and let’s not forget that we really do have a nice selection of magazines to send our short stories to, it is in fact an embarrassment of riches.

World-Building in Short Stories

Posted in Uncategorized with tags , , , , , , on July 28, 2009 by Jaym Gates

It’s easy to build a magnificent world in a novel-length work. Lots of room, a long plot to weave lots of tantalizing details through.

But a short story? Setting an entire world in less than 6000 words? That’s a challenge! Right?

Well, not so much. At least not for me. The thing I’ve learned about a short story is that I don’t need to show the entire world. I don’t need to tell you that this, this and this happened over the last thousand years. Such and such a nation is going to war with its neighbor, but is that really necessary for the reader to know? If it is, then a quick mention is probably plenty.

Both Wind-Loved and Hidden are set in alternate worlds. Neither is particularly explained, or detailed, certainly not in the way the world of New Name. But they could all fit into the same world, so maybe it doesn’t count. (There is mention of Kema’s tribe in Inherent… just so you know…)

How do you describe a new world in your stories? What authors build worlds in their stories with special grace? How much do you like to see in a story?

Hidden, Inherent, and Pampering

Posted in Personal Life with tags , , , , on July 28, 2009 by Jaym Gates

Mondays are my Fridays, ironically. I have Tuesday and Wednesday off. In other words, the wildness of a typical Monday combines with the exhaustion and rampant misanthropy of Fridays. And today was a stranger Monday than usual. One of ‘THOSE days’, y’know? And not just for me. For everyone that I’ve talked to… in this area. Must be the weather.

Whatever the reasons, my ‘Friday night’ looks great. Lush bathbombs, a bath, the next few chapters of de Lint’s Memory and Dream, herbal tea, Cirque du Soliel music in the background, and a lot of thunder, lightning and rain outside.

Digging into one such chamber, she found a large black crystal next to a shard of quartz, and a tiny agate carving of a dragon.

I’m going to try and finish Hidden this weekend. Not finish as in ready-to-submit, but finish the rough draft. With 2399 words on it, if I do 900 a day I’ll have 4200 and a very nice draft. (If there was any question of exhaustion–I had to pull up the calculator to figure out that word goal. Ouch!)

The fun thing about Hidden is that its giving me ideas for a future story–or seven–and I like being able to tie things together.

Only he heard the call in that terrible voice. The storm had been a mere side-effect of too much power.

Inherent is clipping along nicely. I’m on pg. 62 of 255 after only a week and a half (?) of editing. I hadn’t planned to start this draft till August 1, so I was two weeks ahead of schedule.

Logrozana is almost finished, and then comes the monster Abadinur, which is almost half of the book just by itself.

In other good news… I’ve cleaned out a number of my outstanding projects. The ones left are ones I really need to get done… And really DON’T want to do. Figures eh?

Night folks. I’m off to enjoy the storm and fine story-telling.


Posted in Personal Life with tags , on July 26, 2009 by Jaym Gates

Another email from my grandmother, and a reminder why I don’t ever let my family see what I write.

Although she freely admits to having lost her own faith, she still feels free to fire-and-brimstone me over mine. This latest email was full of talk about how I seemed to be ‘following Eastern philosophy’ (yes actually, to a large degree…), and how that didn’t make any sense (well, philosophy DOESN’T make any sense when you don’t want to think…) and how she thinks that maybe I’m ‘crying for our help’ (Um, no. thanks though. Keep your help. I’ve spent too long already trying to recover from ‘our help’) and how the darkness of the stuff I’m writing just breaks her heart.

Ok then. Not sending anything more to family…

So I spent a while talking about religion. Which I loathe doing. Her reply was surprisingly reasonable. I’m left with vast curiosity as to whether she has yet seen ‘I have tattoos’ in those final sentences…

I don’t need to write fiction. I’ve got family that must have stepped straight from the pages of fiction!

No Happy Endings Please!

Posted in Uncategorized with tags , , , on July 26, 2009 by Jaym Gates

I think I posted this on the Fifthwind Forum a while back. Well, here it is… Because it is something I still agree with.


When you go shelf-browsing in Borders or Barnes and Noble, or nearly any bookstore, there are certain themes that can get pretty repetitive and tiresome after a while. Most of my experience at a bookstore fantasy section recently can be summed up to “The brave hero, a poor farm boy at birth, must quest to save the world and his lady love from the forces of evil, facing scary things that were ripped off from some horror film, and then returns to marry the princess and rule his happy people with great honor.”

There’s a reason I don’t look at most authors anymore, because there are very few who push the boundaries at all.

A theme you don’t seem to see very often anymore though is tragedy, and unrequited love, or loss for no real reason at all. Fantasy have become so polished, and so tuned to Western thought, that the power of “not-happily-ever-after” seems to have been lost. I loved the “Memory, Thorn and Sorrow” series almost as much as any book I’ve read, until I came to the end. Wait, the hero was royalty? Well, there went THAT good book, I guess royalty really is the only “species” capable of heroic feats.

But what about a prince who loves a commoner, but she’s sensible enough not to fall for his golden promises, or even just plain doesn’t love him? And no matter what he does, it doesn’t change her mind, isn’t that a more realistic view? Or a Don Quixote, charging the windmills and riding to glory, but belittled and scorned in his quest for a life that’s got a little of the glory of the old days? Or (is it Hero? No, one of the others, the title escapes me), a modern, Asian version of the classic stories, where the MC sets out to assassinate his father’s murderer, and save his people, only to realize that the man needs to be spared. He sacrifices his own life instead, making a tale far more memorable and powerful than if he had succeeded and married his childhood sweetheart. Or a Shakespearan comedy, or tragedy, where things just never quite go right for the bumbling hero and his adorable, but just-not-right-in-the-head love interest?

These are tales that have so much potential for resurrection, and bringing new life to the genre. I think people are getting tired of the happily-ever-after, and ready for escapism that rings of reality. Lord of the Rings, one of the most popular books in the genre, was hardly “happily-ever-after” for anyone. “American Gods” ends a little sadly. So why aren’t more young authors doing this?

Is anyone planning on a bitter-sweet ending for their story? Or does the hero succeed, marry his princess, and rule his kingdom happily ever after?

Short Stories

Posted in Uncategorized with tags , , , , on July 24, 2009 by Jaym Gates

I’ll admit it straight off: I’m scared of short stories. Which is ironic, but Ken Kiser admitted that he shares the same phobia.

Until I wrote New Name, I’d never made a short story work, or even finished one. Then it was six months between New Name and Wind-Loved, which is the second short story I’ve ever finished.

Why this fear?

Maybe because short stories are have to be so concise. There are hard and fast word limits here. It’s not like you can go into a ton of world-building. Yet they still have to have beginning, middle, end.

Maybe it’s because short stories aren’t ‘serious’ writing. It only takes a couple of weeks (once you get the technique down…), so you don’t get really attached to the characters. No momentum builds up to carry the excitement through for the writer.

Maybe because it’s really, really hard sometimes to get in a different head every couple of weeks.

I think the thing that trumps all of those though is the rejection factor. With a novel, it’s easy to put off submissions for a while. There are a lot more places to submit to. It’s just plain a loooooong process to get a novel into the submission stage.

Short stories crunch all that together into a few weeks.

My fear of short works is a little ironic, given that I grew up reading shorter pieces in mythology and folklore. (and the Bible. But that does NOT count here…)

So, if I’m afraid of short stories, why has my production of them suddenly boomed right alongside my advocacy?

Because, like Twitter, short stories teach concision. They keep a writer on their toes by forcing them to keep moving forward. They are an excellent field to learn how to interact with the publishing world. Often, someone can be hooked through a short story, even if they don’t read fantasy and might not have picked up a fantasy book.

This is just in addition to their inherent worth as literature.

The turning point for me was Fantasy Magazine’s contest. I talked that one up to the members of Fifthwind Forums ad nauseum. I spent hours coaching our interested members in the chat room on how to submit, how to format, how to handle rejection. I read and either edited or gave feedback on five of the pieces that were submitted.

Watching the members pull together and learn the process turned a lightbulb on. People needed that experience. They could futz around with their novels forever, but it is much easier to crack the whip when it’s a short piece.

Yeah, ok, so I slacked in that department too. I’m not quite sure why I started Wind-Loved. It was just the right time. I have the ideas. I haven’t yet tapped into the massive file of ideas. It’s a matter of writing them. Even if they don’t get published now, maybe they will see the light in Thunder Songs as an eventual anthology. Maybe I can learn what not to do.

Short stories are a wonderful form of literature, one I highly love and respect.

As a teaching aid, they are priceless.

I want to write this:

Posted in Uncategorized on July 24, 2009 by Jaym Gates

A land of constant rain, where the sun only shines for a rare day at a time. A group, sect, cult, religion, club, that follows these days to the exclusion of all else. A society that scorns this carefree way of life.

This is an old idea. But I like it.

Anyone want to chime in with ideas on how? What voice is best? Who would be interesting to hear from?