Archive for May, 2010

#zinechat 2 & 3

Posted in Uncategorized on May 26, 2010 by Jaym Gates

Zinechat #2 was a complete success! John Joseph Adams (Lightspeed, Prime, anthologist), Jennifer Brozek (Apex, Edge of Propinquity, anthologist), Bart Lieb (Crossed Genres), Jonathan Fuller, Christie Yant (Lightspeed), Casey Seda (Port Iris Zine), Patty Jansen (Andromeda Spaceways Inflight Magazine, yes, the Aussies represented!), Michael Ray (Redstone SF) and others brought a diverse expertise to the discussion.

Zinechat is doing exactly what I’d hoped it would do: bring magazine editors together, let them share ideas, discuss the business, give fans and writers a chance to talk to the editors, slushers and staff of magazines and small press. But, to be honest, the response is a thousand times better than I thought it would be!

I’m going to be marketing #zinechat a little bit now. If you’d like to promote #zinechat too, please feel free to copy the next post in its entirety and spread it about the internet. Everyone is welcome!

And now, for my really special news: June’s guest will be JOHN KLIMA from Electric Velocipede!!! (He made the mistake of using the hashtag. I am nothing if not opportunistic. Sometimes.)

Thanks to everyone who has participated so far in any way. If you’ve got suggestions, please let me know!


Posted in Uncategorized on May 23, 2010 by Jaym Gates

Ever want to know what my natural, sleep-deprived state is? Here. You can have a look at some lines from the plot I just jotted down. Feel free to laugh, and then please make sure that I made it to bed *before* I went to sleep? Please?


….But they built a laboratory around him, and took him apart, and put him back together, and grew rather fond of him, although he was inclined to flatulence in the morning, and named him Puff. ….

…Then Apophis landed on the roof, bashed through the sides of the lab with his great claws, ate Puff, and said that his name had once been **********, which translated as ‘Fun to Chase’ in the noble language of dragons. And when he was done with Puff, he wiped his great claws on the carpet and selected a snack.


Go ahead. Join my mother. She’s over there on the floor. Hmmm…her face is turning blue. Medic? She seems to be dying of laughter. Yes, this was my fault, but I swear that I didn’t *mean* to!

Er, hi!

Posted in Uncategorized on May 21, 2010 by Jaym Gates

Yup. It’s me. Somewhat zombified, but hey! I am here. Well, at Amelie’s Bakery with friends.

Just to catch up on the past few weeks, since I’ve been silent…

I finally finished writing the Medusa story. Clocking in at well over 6000 words, it is rough as hell, and nasty. It needs love, and I need to finish it to submit to Shock Totem.

I’ve been working on Nightmare very slowly, incorporating the feedback that I’ve been getting. I have faith in it, but it is dodgy.

I wrote a piece of flash, and promptly shelved it.

I know what I need to do to Pale Fire now…just not necessarily *how*.

I’ve committed to writing a short series of articles on the oral story-telling tradition. It grew out of a random thought, Twitter provided the contacts, and I ended up spending an hour and a half on the phone with the awesome Layne Gneiting, listening and discussing. Next week I’ll be talking to Jack Gladstone.

I’ve finished up an Apex blog, a review of the Dark Faith anthology, a new Science In My Fiction blog, another article for the Browncoats: Redemption crew, travel to California, and many things that I can’t remember. Yikes. I don’t remember *at all*. Uh-oh. I might need sleep.

Our new dog Titan is settling in well. Molly is throwing a fit about sharing the house. The cat is in a permanent funk. Titan is learning to be a very good watchdog.

I’ve sold some jewelry and started an Etsy shop.

Working way too much. Still butting heads with people.

And…that’s about it. Hi, and good bye!

Through Faith Darkly

Posted in Uncategorized on May 20, 2010 by Jaym Gates

I finally finished writing the review for Apex’s Dark Faith. It wasn’t that I couldn’t get into the book. Quite the opposite. It was too good, made me think too much. In fact, when I first started reading, I had to put it down and walk away for a couple of days, because I was not in the mind-space to deal with the contents. Faith is a tetchy subject for me, in case you couldn’t tell.

But I think that I owe MG Ellington and Apex a bit of thanks. I had to research a few things about the book, such as where it could be bought. In the process, I stumbled over Maurice Broaddus’ blog. In the past, I’ve seen him RT’d on Twitter quite a bit, and heard lots about him as well. I kind of browsed through his blog, and the truth hit me right between the eyes.

I’ve become unforgivably prejudiced. I know exactly when it happened, too. I posted a blog about it, An Open Letter to People Who Do Not Matter. That, and the unintentional but profound harassment that happened very soon after that first event, finally turned me off of Christianity with a bitter vengeance.

To put it simply, I let the actions of a few people prejudice me against the whole. Which makes me no better than the people who triggered this strong response.

Granted, if I’ve got anything to be bitter and prejudiced about, religion ranks right up there. After all, I can go for a dozen lifetimes without hearing my S/O musing that if it were a different age, he would be the one to burn me at the stake. And yes, that happened. Along with discussions of exorcism by my grandmother. And repeated attempts by my coworkers to convert me back to Christianity.

I go out of my way to be mute about my personal beliefs. The smallest handful of people know about them, people who believe similarly. I will not be drawn into debates nor defenses of my beliefs. It irks me when other people then try to push their beliefs into my face.

But I could list a thousand excuses, and none of them will clear me of blame. I have no right to this knee-jerk reaction to all things Christian. I have no right to distance myself from someone simply because they are open and vocal about *their* beliefs.

Easier said than done. Hell, this realization has me cringing. It will take a while, because, as I said, it’s a conditioned response. (No, I do *not* burst into flames when I touch a cross, thank you very much…)

But push your beliefs into my face, whether they be Christian, Pagan or Atheist, all bets are off. I believe that spirituality is like sex: between you and your partner(s). I don’t want to know.

Now, I’m going to go work on forgiveness.

The New Furkid

Posted in Uncategorized on May 14, 2010 by Jaym Gates

Everyone, please meet Titan.

I first met Titan at the April Whitewater Center adoption event. I was just coming off of the hand injury from Nallah, so the prospect of another big dog kind of worried me. 5 months old, and *his* size? No worries, he was a perfect gentleman, and we figured that he’d get adopted quickly.

Instead, he went to another event. Lots of people thought he was awesome. He went ‘home’ to the shelter with kennel cough, and started deteriorating. We called before we left for CA. Three people in line to take him. We said that if he was there when we got back from CA, we’d adopt him.

He was not only there, but on a second round of treatment. The big puppy was about done with kennel life. Nervous peeing, general shyness, sick…he was definitely done. We brought him home tonight.

No one really knows what he is, except BIG. He has a lot of similarities to a pit bull, a Great Dane, and the Ibizan hound. Strong similarities to all of them. He’s about 7 months old, three feet tall, and weighed 49 lbs at the vet today.

He’s good with Molly. We weren’t really worried, he IS a big puppy who gets along with everyone. In fact, the tiny hound thinks that she’s top dog here. Except…Titan gets annoyed and sits on her, and she’s done. And yes, he simply sits on her.

We’re having to work with him quite a bit, of course. He’s strong-willed, and does try to play ‘happy’n’dumb’. He also has authority disregards. He’s used to being the biggest thing. However, since we’ve had strong-willed, dominant breeds before, we’re just super-sizing the methods.

Titan has some settling in to do. He was crying tonight when we went upstairs. Once we trust him and he’s settled in, he should be able to stay loose in the house at night.

Anyways, the new kid is home, Molly has adopted him as a brother, and the cat is not happy!!

Place out of Place

Posted in Uncategorized on May 11, 2010 by Jaym Gates

I am indulging in the petty right now, in the hopeless, mundane and silly. I am pretending that this house, this land, is already mine in more than word. That it is mine in deed, and that I am the only one living here. Pretending that I won’t have to go back to the south in a few days.

Growing up, I never had a sense of home. I lived in the same place for 18 years, but I relished any and every chance to get away. Going to camp, going on long trips…I was never once homesick.

I am home now, and I am homesick for the very place that I am sitting.

Even after I moved, I did not care about this place. I hated it. I did everything in my power to move. Finally, I moved from Northern California to North Carolina, and was glad to be rid of the place.

I became homesick about a year after I moved. The first time I realized it, I misnamed it. It was manageable on the first leg of the flight back. But as the plane took off from Denver, I started crying, and would have given anything to turn back. I was leaving behind my significant other, and thought that the ache was for him.

I jumped through hoops to come back. The mere memory of Point Reyes threw me into a depression. I started planning how to move back.

For someone who has never been homesick, it has been quite an experience.

Let me set this straight though. I am not homesick for my family. I am not homesick for some idealized past. Not homesick for the hometown, for friends or people. My family is spread wide, and I seldom see anyone but my mother. There is no idealized past. With or without the struggles that my grandmother and I went through, most of my life here was hellish. School, also, is nothing but bad memories. I love my friends, but we have very different lives now, and talking once a month or so is usually all we manage. Today, when the battery was out, I searched my phone for someone in the area to call. There was only one person. I have dozens of friends in NC, Texas, South Carolina, Massachusetts.

But again and again, I balk and cannot find words for why this place means so much to me that even the thought of leaving it again brings tears to my eyes.

Maybe it is because this is one of the few places where my heart doesn’t hurt a little, all the time. One of the few places where other people’s emotions and thoughts don’t natter on, endlessly, in my head. One of the very few places where I don’t need music–anymore, that is–as a lifeline.

I walk out into the grass, and the silence, the age, drapes itself over me like a length of old velvet. I feel ageless here, light, unrestrained. I feel safe, finally, although I know all too well what the shadows hold. This is the place where I met the paranormal, after all.

The birds, the insects, the constant wind though the trees and grass, the stream out behind the house, the sighing cedars off the back deck. The 400 year old oaks, 15 feet around at their base. The silent ghosts of a people long gone. The black bear that no one in our family has ever seen, but neighbors have reported several times over the years. The pair of hawks that nest near the barn and circle me in the daytime. The hollow buckeye tree in its circle of standing stones. The grinding rocks where two nations met in peace and raised their children and hunted the tangled forests. The quiet snorting of grazing horses. The feel of thick grass and clover brushing my fingertips.

The peace. Even the most troubled heart can rest here for a moment. If my ex can look out across the hills and say ‘this is a place of rest’, then anyone can find a second of silence under one of the trees.

This is home. The land itself. I spent a long time talking to one of my friends one day about land and land-ties. We both have felt that connection to a place, the physical hurt at having to leave it.

Maybe the ghosts whispered secrets to me in my dreams, because I was sheltered and hand-fed Christianity and brought up in the straight and narrow, but I talked to the animals and asked the spirits to bless the land. This place raised me more than my grandparents ever did.

Most people have nightmares about losing their family. I have nightmares about losing this place.

I can’t explain why I love a little patch of land in California, or why my choices revolve around the ability to protect and keep this place.

You’ll just have to bear with me, and maybe, someday, you can come sit on the porch with me, and listen to the wind sigh through the cedars, and the oaks whisper. Then you’ll have to try to explain it, too.

Timing is Everything

Posted in Uncategorized on May 9, 2010 by Jaym Gates

The flight out here went without a hitch, for once. Well, except for the running up and down and around O’Hare because the gates kept changing. Slept like the dead when we finally made it out to the hinterlands.

Today started with a bang. Breakfast was fresh honey tangerine juice, homemade whole-wheat biscuits, and veggie ‘bacon’ gravy. Went out to see the horses, and…apparently our feisty Standardbred had decided to play in the fence. His legs were cut up and he had scratches down his sides. Idjit.

The joyful part of all of this is that all of our vet stuff is ancient. And it’s never really done me any good. But my grandmother has several huge comfrey plants, eucalyptus and lemon balm. Threw those in the blender with thyme and oregano, a little oil to soften the skin, heated it on the stove with some flour to thicken it, and I had something vaguely resembling spinach souffle.

The horse didn’t appreciate the treatment, but I got him cleaned up, slathered green souffle on him, and tossed him back out in the pasture. The mixture is antiseptic, so it stings, and when I was working on the worst leg, he kept pulling up because it stung. At one point, he reached around and tried to take the bowl very gently out of my hands. I gave him a few minutes, and some carrots, and he forgave me.

I love that horse. That last horse that got tangled kicked me in the head for my troubles.

That meant that we had to repair some ancient fencing. The whole reason that we’re out here is to build fence and help my grandparents clean up some of the dozen or so trees that came down because of snow.

Fencing, and then we hauled slabs of oak down to the woodpile. Ow. Some of those things weighed a good 50 pounds. It was raining off and on during these endeavors, and we were waiting for the real rain to start, which it did about the time we were unloading the last load of wood.

So, we’re inside now. I walked and got a ton of pictures, patched up the horse, we’ve rebuilt a section of fence, cleaned up a tree, and now everyone else is asleep. Must be time to start lunch.

Still Incompetent

Posted in Uncategorized on May 6, 2010 by Jaym Gates

Remember the whole big deal with the optometrist? Charging me for the exam that meant I wouldn’t have my eyes dilated, and then dilating them anyways? Barely bothering to examine my eyes? Giving me a hellishly wrong prescription? Being rude and making me wait for a long time? Making me come back and have my eyes reexamined to get the right prescription? Not examining me the second time, but merely asking me what my old prescription was? (Which was what I wanted him to do, but the point stands: no safe doctor asks their patient what their prescription should be.)

Yeah. Thought that I was done with that.

Oh but wait. It gets better.


Well, insurance billed me $10 dollars, saying that it was the overage on what they wouldn’t cover. Ok, fine.

Yesterday I got a bill for $40, from the office. The funny thing is, it says ‘you owe $10’ for every single line, and then, suddenly, ‘you owe $40’. Er, right. For what, precisely? I already PAID this crap.

So, I call, explain what is going on. The receptionist is condescending. She explains that this was all on the yellow sheet at the beginning. No, it wasn’t. It said that a certain portion of the fee wasn’t covered by insurance, and that I would be billed for that in-office.

Granted, my eyes were dilated, and so I had to have the contents of the SECOND sheet, at the end, described to me. I couldn’t read the road signs. When I told the receptionist this, in a fairly irritated voice, she sniffed that there wasn’t ‘any reason for me to curse’. Oh, sorry mistress. I’ll remove ‘goddamned’ from my vocabulary…after you all stop screwing me over.

So, I can pay $110 dollars, use up all of my insurance benefits for the year, lose a lot of valuable time, drive across town 3 times, and still have fucked-up service.

This goes straight into ‘oh fuck no’ territory. I don’t give a crap what their reasons are. Because they didn’t charge me for the second time, I was just going to let it go. The FIRST time I was there, I was assured that this was all that I would be paying. No later bills.

Uh-huh. I paid less, spent less time, went through less crap, and had a MUCH better experience when I went to a Walmart eye-care center and paid up front.

Whichever way this goes, whether I pay $10 or $40, I’m registering complaints with Delta, Better Business Bureau and whoever governs the local optometrists. This is ridiculous, and the treatment is unforgivable.

I work in retail, kids. You keep your customers happy. If one is upset, you deal with that. You don’t talk to them like they are a small child, brush off their issues, and all but call them stupid.

Yup. I’m officially fluffed.

Rain Synesthesia

Posted in Uncategorized on May 3, 2010 by Jaym Gates

I know that I’ve been nattering on about this recently, and I do apologize. But synesthesia is an integral part of me, and I am just now discovering how prevalent it is.

Time and emotion are probably the two most potent examples that I have.

I see time. I feel it. It has shape and form, distance, height, weight, brightness. The present is a stream, and there are times when I’ve been able to slow my perception of time, or speed it up. I can’t always do that, and I don’t know how I do it.

Emotion has texture, taste and sound. Oddly, it is not colorful, the variances are generally in shape, not color. So anger is hard and dense in the center, with shards of glass and tiny, sucking tentacles, but it is gray. Happiness is thin and light, dancing. Joy is deep, bittersweet, so-good-it-hurts. True, deep sorrow is absolutely silent and still.

Those are weak descriptions at best. I’ve always seen time that way, but only recently become aware of the emotions. The first time it was really apparent was when my ex was upset. I saw the emotion as a physical object, and worked off the edges, jags and points, smoothed them away one at a time. Maybe this is why I do well with abused kids and animals. Having that physical sense gives me something to work towards, and a way to handle it one little bit at a time.

The weirdest one, in my opinion? I feel rain. I know, that doesn’t sound all that strange…but I feel rain inside of a completely closed car. Usually several moments before it starts. Not just as pressure or whatever. For the longest time, I would automatically brush the ‘water’ off of myself and start examining the house/car/whatever for a leak. The sensation was so crystal-clear that it confused the hell out of me for a long time. It doesn’t always happen, but it happens often enough to be remarkable. And yes, it DOES happen outside, but I seldom notice that.

It all makes me wonder about how much this might affect my writing. More specifically, how people read my writing. I’m noticing that my entire language is tilted to the synesthesic perception. Heavy time. Seeing music. Tasting emotion. Dancing words. Not usually that weird, but then again, what do I know? What’s weird to me is that most people DON’T see time like I do.

Now I’m mildly paranoid, and eyeing my writing to make sure that I’m not confusing people!

*sigh* Thoughts on this would be welcome!