Archive for January, 2010

And we never find all that we lose…

Posted in Uncategorized on January 31, 2010 by Jaym Gates

Street Art from Slovenia
Those of you who have listened to me howl for the last few days probably don’t want to listen to any more. Well, um, skip this post? Hopefully, it will be the last, lonely howl.

I have a history of destroying electronics. I have literally burned out lightbulbs, merely from touching them. I shock everything I touch. My headphones zap me in the ear (possibly THE most unpleasant situation I’ve encountered…) on a regular basis. Passwords and internet sites malfunction for me, and me alone. Laptops and computers? I shouldn’t be allowed to touch them.

(Ironically, my cell phones, which I hate, are the only things which. never. die. Despite my best efforts. But the voicemail malfunctions in every single one, and it eats calls and texts.)

Every computer I’ve owned has died horribly. My first laptop, a Compaq, just…died. Hard drive crash. Data was fortunately recovered. The Toshiba ran fine, until Norton decided to nap and I took the laptop to Best Buy, where they eradicated 600+ viruses and told me that I’d literally run out of room on the hard drive. There wasn’t enough room left for basic operations!

And now the Dell. The Dell has Vista. It really isn’t fair to give it ME too. That’s a death sentence. Sure enough. It started clicking.
Clicking.
Clicking.
Clicking.
Clicking.
Constantly.

I’m easily offended by noise. Dogs barking, neighbors, the TV, the AC. If I didn’t initiate the noise intentionally, it pisses me off.

Better yet…any repetitive noise or sensation drives me up the wall. Best of all? If I don’t know what it is, I’ll obsess over it until it is figured out. Welcome to my mind. Don’t make a sound. I might get stabby.

So, take a moment. Imagine what a constant, repetitive, unwanted, uninitiated, unknown sound does to me. I haven’t had my headphones off, at home, for three months. Loudly playing headphones, at that. My hearing has seriously suffered.

Anyways, it started freezing badly. Internet: unusable. Chat: unusable. Open Office: barely usable. Best Buy quotes me $300+ and 3-5 weeks. I quote them a deadline and some unmentionables. Off to another repair shop it goes. Oh, only 5 days and $130. Did I mention that, at this time, the forum I was administrating decided to have an implosion?

Got it home. Um, this bill doesn’t say that anything was really done. Hey, it’s still clicking! And freezing! I still can’t use it! Cue yet another breakdown.

A friend, a computer specialist, takes the computer home. It’s REALLY not reassuring when his wife pulls you aside and whispers “Uh, he took one look at the hard drive and said”…lean forward, whisper right in my ear…”this thing is a piece of SHIT! But he might be able to save it, with Windows 7.”

Two days later it comes home again. No clicking. No freezing. Windows 7 commences to scare the crap out of me. Yay for Windows 7! I’m so happy, I spend most of Monday doing odds and ends things, procrastinating on writing.

Tuesday morning, all gung-ho about getting WRITING DONE!, I turn on the computer. It comes up. It freezes. Er, is it SUPPOSED to be doing that?

Cue yet another author break down. Rather loudly. The puppy was scared enough that she wouldn’t come out of her crate for most of the day. Spent all day begging it to restart.

Next morning, off to Best Buy for a new harddrive. Supposed to be $60 bucks, which is stretching the budget right now. Nope, hard drive is $90. Replacement is $40. It’s done in 20 minutes though, and the computer guy is awesome and keeps me company nearly the entire time. We drool over computers together, and bash Vista.

Uh…a hard drive is all well and good, but uh…do I have an operating system disk? Not for Windows 7. Do I have a Vista disk? Please tell me I don’t have a Vista disk, because I DO have an XP disk, and it’s really tempting…damn, I’ve got Vista. FINE!

Vista is uploaded. Drivers are reinstalled. Why does this look funny? Why isn’t there any internet? Just give me internet, so that I can get Open Office and start writing. Partition? What’s that?

Another day lost. I took a nap. Hey, my old computer was frozen while I was napping. I had an excuse. It unfroze about the time I woke up. Did I mention that the CD drive died a horrible death on my old computer? So I couldn’t cheat and burn a disk for anything? Yeah. I have great luck with electronics.

Meanwhile, I’ve got emails piling up. An Aether Age deadline. A book that isn’t getting written. Articles to write. A serious case of stress to recover from.

The disk is partitioned that night. I start reconstructing my life.

And realize just how much data didn’t make it across that multi-staged leap from Vista to 7 to new hard drive. A lot of pictures. None of my music. Several sites that were not bookmarked correctly. The info from some programs. Documents that I’d downloaded, and forgotten to save. Tons of organization that I’d done between Vista going down to 7.

All of my submission data. Yes, all of it. I never did figure out how to back up Sonar files.

That’s a bleak, horrible feeling.

The hard drive is now with my friend. Hopefully he can recover all of the data. I need an external hard drive. That hasn’t been an option, but it goes to the top of my list of things to get.

There are times I wish we still wrote books with pen and paper. It would have made things so much less stressful the past three months.

Then again, with my luck, the paper would spontaneously combust, and someone would house a demon in the pen.

(Stealing an idea from the lovely Mercedes, I’ll track my google history. If this doesn’t get me on a watch list somewhere…)

Google history today: four-eyed demon, Apex Book Company, multiple you-tube videos for the Sunday night CG not-a-church, badass of the week, cupcakes, Aether Age.

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Aether Age! And Stuff!

Posted in Uncategorized on January 29, 2010 by Jaym Gates

The Aether Age submission is done! 5000 words of horrific space exploration/facing growing old and obsolete. Mmm, Egyptian space-age steampunk. How much more delicious can a story get?

The next short story on the horizon is for the Baen Books contest. Near-future SF. Of course, in contemplating the story, an entire near-future world built itself in my head. I’ll exorcise that over the weekend.

Nightmare has done, well, nothing. I’ve had MAYBE ten days of good, uninterrupted writing time this month. The rest of the time, the computer has not been usable. Hoping to finish this in February!

Outer Alliance article should be done soon, for submission to Fantasy Magazine. Also, a blog for Apex Books, a couple of articles on the Browncoats movie, and a profile of Kids Need to Read.

Lots and lots of writing to do. I LOVE it!

Eggplant Parmesan and Salad

Posted in Uncategorized on January 27, 2010 by Jaym Gates

Someone drooled all over some of my posted recipes last night. Now, I’d worried a bit that I might be posting too many recipes, but really, I’ve got nothin’ for writing. So, you get more recipes!!

Tonight’s dinner was eggplant parmesan and salad. However, the Eggplant Parmesan took some unexpected turns.

Salad:

Butter lettuce, shredded aged Gouda cheese, sliced strawberries, slivered almonds, chopped walnuts, and a dressing of roasted hazelnut oil and balsamic vinegar.

Eggplant Parmesan:

Peel and thinly slice eggplant. Dunk slices in a mix of pesto and egg, and then bread, deep fry over medium heat, and drain. Top with parmesan or mozzarella.

Sauces:

Tomato: Throw fresh onions, tomatoes, leeks, garlic, olive oil, coarse salt and balsamic vinegar into a food processor till chunky. Heat over medium flame until bubbly.

Mushroom: Throw diced onions and garlic into a tbsp of olive oil, add 1 package of sliced portobella mushrooms and 1tbsp butter (I used goats’ milk butter, yum!). Salt, sage, oregano and pepper to season. Cook until the mushrooms are tender. Add about a cup of Madeira or Marsala wine. Simmer for about five minutes, sprinkle in a handful of flour to thicken, stir in, and turn off heat.

Plate the eggplant medallions in the center of the plate, with the tomatoes on one side and the mushrooms on the other. Serve with a nice Cabernet, Nero d’Avola, or Zinfandel, something big and spicy.

Ok, ok, so there aren’t any measurements. I know…I’m terrible at measuring. I literally throw handfuls of stuff into a pan and that’s my recipe. But just follow your instinct here. It’s hard to mess up.

Enjoy!

Booklist: A few to start off the year!

Posted in Uncategorized on January 22, 2010 by Jaym Gates

Bruce Boxleitner (Babylon 5, Scarecrow and Mrs. King): Frontier Earth: Searcher. A wonderful Weird West romp, dark and sinister. Sure, it’s not high literature, but it’s so hard to put down!

Angela Carter: Magic Toyshop. Gothic, dark, twisted and beautiful. Incest, murder, mayhem…How can you go wrong?

Emma Donoghue: Kissing the Witch. Classic fairytales told with a human touch, and wound together. Written from a woman’s perspective, beautifully haunting tales of motherhood, loss, growing up.

Christopher Golden: The Boys Are Back in Town. Horror, magic and growing up. A nice, creepy little suspense.

Christopher Golden and Thomas Sniegoski: The Menagerie. Can’t all be high-brow! Menagerie is an excellent series. Each book stands alone, but all are worth reading. Golden and Sniegoski do a great job of bringing old and new myths to life. And, as the lead is Sherlock Holmes, you have REASON to read it! Got to brush up on all things Sherlock Holmes, right?

Caitlin Kittredge: Street Magic. Light, quick Urban Fantasy. The setting is lovely, the prose is easy to read, and the pace is quick and lively.

James P. Blaylock: The Elfin Ship. Yes, it’s a classic.

Robert Heinlein: Friday. Just started reading this a couple of weeks ago. Way behind the boat for me, but Heinlein was RIGHT on target. There are too many parallels to modern America. Read his description of a sick society, and be afraid.

Alan Campbell: Deepgate. Keeping things dark, Deepgate is dark, luscious and gruesome. Probably my top read of 2009 for originality, setting and darkness.

Charles de Lint: Someplace to be Flying. Bittersweet. De Lint writes modern folklore in ways that make me instantly jealous. ‘Flying’ brings Native American tales to new life, and puts a new light on the crows and coyotes of the world.

Terry Brooks: Running With the Demon. A quietly science-fiction/fantasy/coming of age tale. Again, older, but right on the nail. Brooks captures the childhood voice so very well.

Barley-Onion Stew

Posted in Uncategorized on January 20, 2010 by Jaym Gates

Slow computer, tired, and short on time. Ya’ll get a recipe today.

In my defense, it is a Good Recipe.

1 cup barley
1 cup sliced baby potatoes
2 cups stock

Boil these ingredients with sage, thyme, rosemary, paprika (smoked, if you can find it), pepper, salt and basil. Boil until tender.

While those ingredients are boiling, toss about 2 cups of minced onion (throw some garlic in there, too) into a frying pan with a tablespoon of butter and a dash of olive oil. Saute the onions until browned, add a cup of Marsala wine and simmer. Make a gravy of one tablespoon flour whisked into two tablespoons warm broth. Pour into onion mixture and simmer till thickened.

Make sure the potatoes and barley are tender. Pour onions into the barley mix. Stir and add a handful of chopped leeks, spinach, mushrooms, bell peppers or any vegetables you like.

Serve with garlic bread.

Stew beef could also be used, I’m sure it would be a nice base for a stew. Enjoy!

Computer Woes

Posted in Uncategorized on January 19, 2010 by Jaym Gates

Sorry for my extended absence. Between a couple of unpleasant incidences online, and a computer that doesn’t want to work, and volunteer work, and holidays, and…

Oh, yeah, hi.

Anyways, I’ve been pretty sporadic here. Hell, my entire schedule is sporadic. Not nearly enough getting done. So, a quick update, and then we’ll return to our regularly scheduled programming.

1.) The computer issue: I have a Dell Studio, about a year old. About two months ago, it started making clicking noises. Not too bad, but it got worse, and started freezing my computer. Mostly internet at first, then everything. I’ve got Vista on here, so I’m used to crashes.

Finally got so bad that I called Geek Squad. 3-5 weeks to repair, could be up to 300 bucks. Screw that! Found a local repair shop specializing in Dells, took it in, told the guy what was wrong. Five days later, the forum was imploding, I had deadlines, and I got my computer back, only to find out that the exact same thing was happening.

It makes the internet almost impossible to use. So, I called the shop this morning. Got the female partner. Told her the problem. She knew EXACTLY what was wrong! She has a Dell Studio too, and it did the same thing! Apparently, the guy just wrote down that it was probably a hard-drive problem. When they couldn’t find anything there, they cleaned everything up and sent it home.

But, according to my angel of fixing, this is a unique Studio 1500 problem. More specifically, a problem exacerbated by Vista. Basically, the DVD drive thinks it has a dvd in it. So it sits there, trying to process it, taking up power and freezing things. It’s not so bad with Windows 7, because of being a generally better operating system.

Um, I told them I thought it was a DVD problem from the START. *sigh* Of course, no one believed me. Anyways, the theoretical fix is to slap a dvd in there so it has something to play with. And upgrading to Windows 7. As soon as January is in the past, and the Aether Age story is turned in, I’ll have Windows 7 uploaded! Although…STRONGLY considering just having him throw Linux in there instead. I’m tired of Windows crap. Vista is an embarrassment, and should be refunded.

In the meantime, I’ll just wear headphones and snarl at the computer a lot.

2.) Crossed Genres did a Haiti fundraiser last week. A bunch of people contributed, I think there are something like 100 stories up there now. It’s not just little fish, either. Jeff VanderMeer, Nalo Hopkinson, etc. have contributed stories too. It’s a great incentive, and fun to do.

Saturday was crap. I stepped down as Admin of Fifthwind Forums, under less than great circumstances, and went off to a volunteer orientation for the Police Department. Stopping off at home to drop off some Ikea purchases, I checked Twitter.

And had a flame-attack from a fellow writer. He accused me of cashing in on the Haitian crisis. He nominated Crossed Genres as Twat of 2010. All because we posted stories online, and asked people to donate instead of paying us.

Originally, I marked the comment for spam. I don’t need that kind of crap, especially not in a bad week. A comment was also left on my blog. Incendiary, childish and poorly typed-punctuated, it wasn’t something I took too much notice of.

It just irritates me that people are so quick to take anything done and attribute it to greed. I don’t have extra money. My mom and I are sharing a car, because she worked less than half of last year. I spend half of my time volunteering, rather than picking up paying jobs. My talent is writing. So if I can help by donating a story, I’m all for that.

‘Crash’ was earmarked for submission to the flash magazines. I wouldn’t have made a ton of money off of it, it’s less than 1000 words, and there aren’t many magazines that pay for flash. I don’t believe much in the Bible anymore, but there’s a concept that I love: Give what you can, whether it be money, time or talent. ‘When I was naked, you clothed me, when I was hungry, you fed me’. No, I can’t do much, but if I’d had to donate the story anonymously, I would have.

I’d like to hear what the affronted writer has done for the efforts? Next time, sweetheart, before accusing someone else of greed, selfishness or opportunism, make sure you have some ground to stand on. And that is ALL I will say in regards to that subject. Crash is still available, by the way, and I still ask that you donate to Haiti if you enjoy the story.

3.) Happy news…I adopted a puppy! Friends found a pathetic little hound puppy sitting in the middle of the road during one of our bad storms. After almost running her over, they stopped and brought her home. She got pretty scarred up, so it looks like she’s been fending for herself for a while, at least. She is, however, mostly house-broken, crate-trained, and knows the meaning of ‘sit’. She’s a smart little cookie, so we don’t know how much is her picking up on stuff, and how much is previous training.

In the meantime, the cat hates her and goes out of his way to spit at her, she loves the cat. There’s some food panic from the scrawny little thing, but that’s a hound characteristic anyways. Oh, and she ‘arwoooooooooos!’ Not often, just a bit. And she snores more loudly than that tiny body should be able to. The cutest part is when she ‘snorfles’ around the house, rooting under shoes and shelves for that interesting smell. The treadmill is her throne, and she’s trying desperately to get the cat to play with her. Adorable.

4.) Writing is precarious right now. A slow computer means it takes me an insane amount of time to right a blog, and, for some reason, I don’t like writing them in Word. So they may be much shorter for a while, which should make everyone sigh in relief.

I WILL get an Aether Age story done. The deadline is the end of January, and I’ve had trouble getting into my writing at all.

I am also trying to get a piece of Flash off to GlimmerTrain Magazine for their Very Short Fiction competition. Got to write that still, however, as they don’t accept genre and I already put out the one piece of non-genre I had.

‘Nightmare’ is slowly, but surely, picking up shape. I’m working more emotion, more darkness, into it. I’ve sent it to a couple of readers, and recieved glowing reviews already. Can’t complain.

That’s all I know of for now. Which is good, because my patience with the internet is nearly dead!

Crash

Posted in Uncategorized on January 16, 2010 by Jaym Gates

As part of the Crossed Genres-led effort to help out Haiti by donating a bit of fiction, this story is free. All I ask is that, if you enjoyed it, you donate a few dollars to the relief efforts through Red Cross or a similar organization. Thank you!

CRASH

An ancient Corvette barrels down the wrong lane. An hour before dawn, no lights, no traffic. Not here, not in the middle of West Texas. People don’t drive out here for fun. Not sane people. No one ever accused him of sanity.

He opens the window. “Motherfuckerrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrr!” he screams. He sucked cheap whiskey from a bottle, whiskey mixed with vodka, nightshade, absinthe, peach schnapps, tears, laughing while he drinks. The car veers across the road and shimmies across the ridged pavement like a cheap dancer. The drop-off isn’t protected by a guardrail. Not here. One slip, he’s fucked. Or at least his car is. He likes this car though, so if he’s not going to die from it, the car isn’t going to get trashed either.

He grins, yanking the steering wheel again. The car swerves. Tires squeal. The music screams from the cranked speakers, nothing on the top forty, you can’t find it on Limewire. It’s the stuff you find in dark, dirty clubs, music played by dirty men with the stench of alcohol and sex and death on their breath. It’s music telling you to point a gun to your head and pull the trigger while you drink strychnine. He already tried that. Damned immortality. Though the bullet did wipe an entire century of memories. Bang, there goes the nineteenth century.

The fury catches up to him like a jackhammer to the skull. He hit the road to get away from it, from her, and the memories are following him. “Fucking bitch! You fucking break my heart and steal my fucking soul and sell my sword on Ebay? I’ll motherfucking sic a million starving demons on you!” Glass clanks on stained teeth as he jerks back a mouthful of alcohol. He guns the engine and runs down a rabbit, laughing at the sound of shattering bone.

Blood spatters the windshield. He looks in the mirror and there’s nothing behind him. All gone.

“Fucking mother fucking bitch whore,” he mutters. The high is wearing off. It always wears off. He’s built and blown countless fortunes on drugs, alcohol, surgeries. The high always wears off.

Depression sets in. Hands slam against the dash, his head against the headrest. Tears trickle down his dirty face. “Failure. I’m just a pathetic, lost, fucking stupid failure,” he mutters.

A sheer wall of rock looms beside the road. Blurry. Maybe the alcohol’s finally setting in. Dead ahead, full speed, faster. He should turn now. He stands on the gas pedal. He doesn’t see the lights of the oncoming semi.

It reminds him of the time he created a star, when the truck collides with his car. All bright lights, shattering heat, noise. White noise.

White noise.

The Corvette is a pile of glowing slag. The truck hangs off the cliff, blazing.

“Fuck,” he whispers, and downs the last of the flaming alcohol. The truck creaks and begins the slow tumble down the bank. The forgotten god laughs, brokenly.

“Fuck, this is gonna hurt.”