Archive for June, 2010

Heartbeats

Posted in Uncategorized on June 14, 2010 by Jaym Gates

I made it out to a ‘social’ event on Saturday! Color me proud of myself. Now that I’m getting so many responsibilities outside of the day job, I’ve cut back on social stuff even more.

But, I made it out, by myself at that. Last Sunday, drawing to the end of ConCarolinas, I interviewed DJ Torch, owner of Single Cell. An invite to the next performance was extended, I was able to pull a last-minute switch at work, and off to Communion of the Flesh.

Now, anyone who has been in the South the last couple of weeks knows what the damned weather has been like. I don’t know what it is about the South, probably the humidity, but air conditioning is like make-up: yeah, it makes things better, but there’s got to be something there to work with.

While it was probably 65 in the VIP area (maybe more, I was tired and so got cold too easily), it was apparently about 120 degrees on the stage. When I caught up to Torch at the end of the evening, it looked like someone had dumped a bucket of water over him. Humidity, go to Hell. You’ll be a wonderful addition to the atmosphere.

But the DJ’s were great, the playlists were just enough bands that I was familiar with to give me a bit of a reference point, with plenty of new ones to go look up. It was a great introduction to the Single Cell performances. I’ll be trying to attend these regularly from here on out.

Unfortunately, that wiped out all of Saturday for working. My most urgent deadline was the Science In My Ficiton article that went live this morning. Due to the delicacy of the subject (gender), I just couldn’t get a handle on it. Of course, typically, deadlines are the mother of courage, and I uploaded it at 3am, along with an apology to the editors!

That article can be found here: Three Isn’t Always a Crowd: Gender

One deadline down…three to go.

I have a piece due to Clarkesworld on Friday, another tetchy subject: Taboo and Genre Culture. This is where I’m glad to have interviewed Torch so extensively. His wealth of knowledge and study on taboo is going to make my article both easier and much harder.

My Apex blog is due on Wednesday, a Con Report/interview.

The really worrying one right now is the Port Iris Magazine Con review/interviews. I’m waiting on 2 interviews still. This entire thing has been a lesson in casting the net as widely as possible, because I do have a couple of interviews that I *can* use, thankfully.

Rigor Amortis is chugging right along. Erika is a phenomenal co-editor. I don’t think that I ever want to do an anthology without a co-editor. There are just too many things that need a different view. We also have five artists who are interested in working for Rigor Amortis, and have submitted some beautiful concepts. Galen Smith is working on cover-art ideas for us.

Don’t remind me that I need to start figuring out contracts sometime very soon. I’m hiding in edits for the time being, and art. That should tell you how scared I am: when I *want* to edit!

Little Death isn’t far from being in the crunch stages either. Thankfully, all I have to learn for that is layout, and I’ve got Chris Fletcher, Kay and Bart to lean on for that one.

No time was wasted in throwing me into the grindhouse at Raw Dog Screaming, which is awesome. Always good to get out of the gate quickly, as it seems to set the tone for the rest of the job. So far, I’ve set up the Twitter account, worked on a marketing plan for ReaderCon, and have been getting to know the authors and staff. Next up: rallying the troops and getting the authors to support us the way we support them.

Tonight is the THIRD(!!!!!!!!!!) #zinechat. Special Guest John Klima, editor of Electric Velocipede, will be joining us. (This means that I need to get on this whole invite-the-next-guest thing.)

Still working on the NC Writer’s Network. Need to meet up with MG to talk and plot and brainstorm!

I’ve also wrapped up 4 books in the last 2 weeks, so I can’t yell too loudly. Reviews coming on Kittredge, Andrews and Briggs. If my eReader will cooperate, a review of Shipp’s CURSED will follow.

ReaderCon is coming up quickly, as is DragonCon. My focus is on getting ready for these, which means a *ton* of costuming for DragonCon, and lots of stressing!

I’m storming along on getting back into the short story game. Lords of Heaven and Earth, Pale Fire She Steals From the Sun, Clank-Clank Nanny, It Is Not the Fire…but the Earthquake and Climb No Mountains are all out on submission. Still need to edit the novellas Mother of Serpents, To Write a New Name and The Secrets of Mother-Mountains.

My focus with those three novellas has changed, however. Novella markets are very far between, or closed. So I will be polishing them into a collection, and gluing the three together with flash and a couple of other stories. Because all three are highly mythological, I will also be finishing off some other myth-influenced stories. I am aiming for the resulting compilation to be about 50,000 words.

Haven has drawn the short straw. I’m ready to be done with it and get it sent out! So I’m going to try to get it to beta readers by the end of the month, at least 2/3 of it. I would really like to get the first Red Sun book rewritten this year, and Inherent is also starting to call my name.

Besides that, I’m just trying to keep up with the jewelry and the freelancing stuff. Playing catch-up again today. Yikes. Wish me luck!

Why Dragons?

Posted in Uncategorized on June 10, 2010 by Jaym Gates

One time, at work, a customer handed me cash payment. I hadn’t cared for him from the start, something about him seemed off. But his fingers touched mine when he handed me the money.

It was like someone had poured a bucket of slime over my hand. Lasted for hours. I washed my hands, sanitized them, scrubbed them raw. Still had that feeling.

I get a lot of crap for not letting people touch me. Can you see why I keep my distance? Even the lightest touch on my shoulder or back, if I’m not familiar with the person, will leave weight and cold. It’s almost like a sliver of ghost hanging out on my skin. People who I am familiar with, depending on who they are, may fade within a few minutes. Still, it is seldom pleasant.

Tattoos then, as you can probably imagine, are like someone touching me with a chainsaw. The sensation never goes away. I can always feel the tattoos on my skin, am always aware of them. So when I get something done, it’s kind of like grafting an extra limb onto my body. I’d better hope that I like it.

But, why the dragons?

Growing up, dragons were the symbol of the devil. Babylon, the great beast. Somehow, I never feared the beast. I wondered why it was so inherently evil.

My next experience with dragons must have been myths and folklore.

The first time that they became a real, solid aspect of my view of the world was also the first time I read horror. My grandmother had books I wasn’t supposed to read. Of course, I read them anyways. By 13, I’d read most of Shakespeare, Tennyson, Peretti, Dekker, creation-science books, CS Lewis, DSMIIV, some really weird Christian-cult stuff, and the Lost Books of the Bible. Most of those weren’t supposed to be read.

So when I went sneaking out to my favorite hiding place with Peretti’s THE OATH, I had no idea. I must have been looking over my shoulder for weeks.

People, for a kid who is very aware of how not-saved she is, the Dragon of The Oath is a scary beast. But I didn’t hate him. I wasn’t afraid of him all that much. Hello, mental scarring and emotionally twisted.

Smaug, Glaurung and the other dragons from Middle Earth sealed the deal. I was firmly rooting for the big bads.

That fascination might have stayed mild, except for the dreams. I’ve had four dreams–that I can remember–about a black dragon. All of them were vivid and have remained with me for over 2 years.

I knew that I wanted a black dragon on my shoulders. My artist drew. I have two dragons on my shoulders. Asian and Western. Red and Green.

These dragons as complicated, difficult, expensive, vastly painful. I have a lot of time to think about them, to absorb their meanings and implications. As a result, each has taken a bit of a personal meaning, focus and interpretation.

The red one is what I am. The red-haired war-witch, the Dragon Lady. Wisdom and Courage.

The green one is what I’ve had to be. Strong. Armored. Perseverance, Focus.

I feel them there. Ghostly reminders to never let the past run me down, to keep the future in its place. Reminders that the dreams and nightmares are just that: dreams and nightmares.

To brush off the slime of other people. To override a thousand other, smaller touches. My skin is clean, where they are. Only that quiet echo of needles and thought.

That’s why the dragons.

SUGAR!

Posted in Uncategorized with tags , on June 10, 2010 by Jaym Gates

“Sugar sugar SUGAR!” tiny shrilling verses don’t work well as an alarm clock, really they don’t. “Sugar Sugar SUGAR!!!”

Last I checked, alarm clocks didn’t actually sit and poke people with their claws.

“SHUT UP!” My legs are half asleep, no doubt from the hell-hound that’s sitting innocently on my feet and panting hopefully. Goddamned fey-critter dormitory this’s become.

“SUG—GACK!” The little fey glared at me reproachfully. “Sugar?”

I gently placed the fairy back in the swarm and sat up gingerly. “One more word about sugar, you’re all my breakfast toast,” I muttered.

Snorty the hell-hound panted happily and slurped at my hand. “Ouch!” Snorty’s tongue was a little warm. He doubled well as squirrel-chaser and footwarmer. Bloody hot in other words.

“Good Snorty,” I said, and stumbled into the kitchen, where the sugar stash was held under lock and key. A quick check out the window, yup, the Kelpy was grazing happily.

“Sugar?” Tick-tock the Brownie stuck his nose out of the cupboard. One look at me, and he tucked back into the cupboard in a right hurry.

See, what they don’t tell you about the fey creatures and their kin is how needy they are. Sugar to be specific. Have you ever heard a swarm of fairies yelling for sugar? No? Be glad.

ConCarolinas: The Aftermath

Posted in Uncategorized on June 8, 2010 by Jaym Gates

Bits and pieces that won’t be included in the Apex blog because they are too personal for most people to care about!

Well, it is telling that I started the weekend waiting for a crucial email and desperately desiring sleep. I got up Thursday morning at about 10am, and didn’t go back to sleep until 4am Saturday morning. I mean, even when I went to bed Friday night, so tired that I might as well have been drunk, so tired I literally hurt, even then, I couldn’t go to sleep. I lay there, annoyed as hell with myself and plotted my own demise.

It was hot. And humid. ConCarolinas organizers: please move your event to February. I’ll like you a lot more.

I got to learn the fine art of waltzing up to someone, giving them my most charming smile, and asking to steal some of their time for an interview. So I’ve approached: Brian Holloway, DJ Torch, Davey Beauchamp, Ed Schubert, John Ringo, Jerry Pournelle, AJ Hartley, Talley Johnson, and random exhibitors and attendees. If you’ve known me for more than a couple of years, you’ll know how excruciatingly hard it can be for me to approach people. Even if I know that I’m supposed to be approaching them. I always feel the need to apologize. And, dammit, I was so nervous each time I headed up there that I thought I might throw up!

Sucking it up and getting over the shyness did lead to an awesome weekend, however. I met John Ringo and Jerry Pournelle! They debated computers, history, submarines and Apple vs. Microsoft! John waved at me every time he saw me at the con! (No, I don’t have any illusions about being the only one he waves at. Shush. It’s still ridiculously awesome.)

I also had my costume (a simple, last-minute affair thrown together from what I could find in my closet) complimented by award-winning costumer Brian Holloway. I discussed tattoos with DJ Torch. I absorbed the wisdom of Intergalactic Medicine Show’s editor Ed. Schubert.

The panels were kind of mixed, and I’ll go over those more in the Apex blog. But there were a couple of great ones that I dropped in on.

I got to tow my own, personal, blond-wigged, costumed, sword-adorned…something…around all weekend and listen to the ladies drool over him. I wanted to put him up for auction, but was told that selling humans–even for a night–isn’t acceptable. Rats.

One of the best parts was proving that there is a significant interest and market for Rigor Amortis. I mentioned it at the Taboo panel, and was immediately cornered by two people who wanted to contribute. The entire room had…15 people?

Oh, that’s the other thing: being the only woman in a room of hard-core fetish, horror and taboo fans/producers is hilarious. The sideways looks were more than payment enough. I do feel mildly bad for making my mother come join me for that one…but not too bad. She *does* read my writing, after all.

Repo: The Genetic Opera is my new favorite movie. Just the right gore, dark mood, screwed up relationships and grungy beauty. Will now buy.

Unfortunately, I ended the weekend with a migraine. And did a faceplant in front of the Hilton on Saturday. Oh well, so is life.

I Am What I Am, and That’s All That I Am

Posted in Uncategorized on June 8, 2010 by Jaym Gates

Sorry for quoting Eminem here. It just fits.

A family member sent me an email, accusing me of trying to weasel her out of my life. This is a direct relative, and this is not the first such email that she has sent. However, she has pushed past even my levels of patience and tolerance. And although I may be a red-headed, part-Irish Scorpio, those limits are high indeed.

The entire email was manipulative, accusatory, passive-aggressive…and accusing me of the same things that I’ve heard before, from a few certain other people. Interestingly, it is from three women, in particular, who could all be clones of each other as far as attitude and personality. One of those women screwed up my childhood. One told the most obvious lies to the right people and cost me a job and a good chunk of my heart. The third one has simply been trying to get rid of me for two years.

Needless to say, there’s a lot of pent-up, pissed-off, irate, offended, hurt, angry, irritated and hard-assed alpha going on here. Because if there’s one thing I don’t do, it is slither and sneak and manipulate. Oh, I can, and very well, but I hate it and it irritates me when I have to.

So here. Have a good, solid, in-your-face slice of the Mastiff Bitch here. She went away for a while. But she’s back. And that’s all the warning that anyone gets.

The email is as follows, unaltered.

~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~

If you make that choice, then you made the right choice. I wasn’t telling you that. I don’t deal in half-truths, innunedo and subtly telling someone to go away. If I was trying to tell you that, I would have told you straight up.

What I *did* do was apologize for sometimes being slow in getting back to you. It was a sincere apology, and if you were to talk to any of my friends, you’d find the same thing has been said to them. I don’t talk to even my best friends more than once a month. Time simply does not allow, for any of us. It’s a fact of life.

Another reason that I am slow in replying is spelled out beautifully in the bulk of your email. You insinuate that I put you down, dismiss you, brush you off, ignore you. I do NONE of the above. I have *never* stooped to the levels of saying ‘I don’t have time for you’, as was done in the closing of your email.

There is no attempt to truncate the relationship. Not on this end. I am not trying to divorce myself. I am not forcing either you or Carey (since apparently it is still not acceptable to refer to her as my mother) to use a go between. If you had emailed me about the office furniture directly, instead of in a round-about, accusatory email, I would have tried to respond, however briefly, within a few days.

The reality is that I am excruciatingly busy. I’m traveling, covering events, working a regular job, managing publicity for a small press, writing fiction, writing articles, keeping up with too many wonderful people, editing other people’s work, running a magazine, putting together an anthology on the spur of the moment. I feel guilty for reading for an hour, or watching a movie. I’m creating a career, very successfully, in one of the most difficult industries in America. I don’t have the magic words, all I have is brains, guts and determination.

I took several days out of my schedule to come out and build fence and take care of the horses and spend time with you guys. I’m not complaining about that. I did it because it needed to be done, and because I wanted to do it.

And, because I don’t do passive-aggressive or subtle, here’s the position I’m in: I don’t need to rethink anything. I never do. I know where I stand, and everyone else knows where I stand. That’s it. I do not appreciate my words being twisted, misshapen, misunderstood, misinterpreted, down-right changed, manipulated, or anything else that someone can think of. I get enough of that at work. I’m tired of second-guessing honesty. I was raised to always tell the truth, and I do. A lot of people do not like me for that. A lot of people see it as proof that I’m hiding something. And most of them just think that I’m a bitch because of it.

I have no interest in using a go-between. I have no interest in discontinuing this relationship. But I do have my own life. I will live it as I please. I am an adult, I am level-headed to a degree that even Papa would be impressed with, I make mature decisions and always hold my well-being and effect on the future in the forefront of any choice or commitment that I might make.

I do things that you would not approve of. I write things that I will never share with you. This is not because I am attempting to shut you out or hurt you, but because I believe that, on occasion, ignorance *is* bliss.

I was at a convention this weekend. A local one, as a representative for a South Carolina magazine. I was there primarily to do interviews for them. But I also had the chance to interview someone for an article that I am working on. He is one of the most controversial figures in the south. He drinks, he has no filter between brain and mouth, he doesn’t pull the punches, he doesn’t play games with words. He’s a red-headed Scotsman. He’s a shock-artist, dealing in some of the nastiest, most taboo things legal entertainment can deliver.

And he taught me a lesson on tact.

He wanted a drink for during the interview. The waitress snipped that she was covering for someone else and would not be bothered to cut an orange for him.

As we went back to the table, I commented on her rudeness. He just smiled and said: ‘Would she have cut the orange if I’d made a big deal about it? Not every battle needs to be fought. There’s enough controversy already.”

He has a point. If I can avoid a disagreement, I will. And some of my writing, no matter how open-minded you try to be about it, will offend you. Badly.

In the future, please refrain from twisting my words. I am tired of saying something and wondering how it will come back to haunt me. It is exhausting, it is frustrating, and it is certainly no fun.

Here’s my suggestion: Let go of the past. I have. I don’t think about it any more. It can’t be changed. I’ve done things that I regret. At the time, I saw no other course, however. Now, in the light of wisdom and hindsight, I do see alternative courses. But those can’t be taken now, old wounds can’t be undone.

Let it go. No more accusations, no more manipulation, no more go-betweens. If there’s something to be said, it can be said to my face, or to yours. I love you guys, I always have, despite the problems, and I have no interest in losing part of my family. I have little enough of it as is.

Deal?

ConCarolinas: Day 1

Posted in Uncategorized on June 5, 2010 by Jaym Gates

Got there rather late, so there’s not much of interest. Except: why the fuck are the guest/press registrations always set off in the hinterlands? You’d think that I’d have learned by now. Nope, not me. Grrr.

The guest-list seems to be leaning towards Urban Fantasy/Paranormal authors and such. I suppose that having Jerry Pournelle and John Ringo just kills any other hard SF author dead in the water? Would like to see more fantasy/horror authors there, but what have you.

The panels are pretty quiet. Not much audience participation, sadly. Although this isn’t exclusive to ConCarolinas, of course.

I’m actually pretty impressed with the turn out. A little larger than Connooga, I think. Better guest-list.

Guys are very, very helpful when you are wearing a corset. Just be sure not to flash anyone. Of course I didn’t do that. Nope, not me. So now I’ve flashed a horror artist and a group of summer-camp counselors. I don’t know what this says about me…

In my defense, it had been 40 hours since my last sleep, 2 work shifts and a lot of con.

The exceptions to the quiet rule are the horror panels (yes, surprising, I know). They pulled out some good guests for this one. DJ Torch, founder and leader of Purgatory, the largest live fetish/horror venue in the Southeast (and possibly farther), Torch has a lot to say, and says it well. Pair him with Jason from Mad One Films, and things get…exciting. Of course, everyone on the panel was drinking…

Perhaps not surprisingly, the audience was primarily male. One of Torch’s fetish performers came in, but our group had the only other two women in there. Discussion got very heated. I’d like to mention that Torch is a gentleman, moderated well, and always made sure that people had their say.

Hilarity ensued when the next panel decided to come in 10 minutes early to eavesdrop. This was when Torch was in the ‘shock and awe’ part of his argument with Jaysen.

Folks, never walk in on a horror panel. You willcome in just in time to get the worst possible out-of-context mind-twisting discussion possible.

Afterwards, with arguments still going, we escaped to the hall with a couple of guys who were interested in contributing to Rigor Amortis.

Went to the showing of Repo: A Genetic Opera last night at midnight. Holy hell, I am in love with that film! The sets are beautiful, the actors are fun, and it’s got this delightful mix of horror, hilarity and dystopian fairy-tale. Highly recommended. But: it is very bloody.

Today is, supposedly, my interview day. I’ve got a bunch of stuff to do for Port Iris Magazine.ut when the guest-director doesn’t get the schedule to you, it kind of sucks. So while I know that I’m interviewing Robert Snare and Tally Johnson, I don’t know about anyone else. And I set up those two interviews…

The whole day will be capped with Amelie’s Bakery and a ride on one sweet, beautiful, awesome Ducati motorcycle. Thank you, Lyle!

State of the (personal) Union

Posted in Uncategorized on June 1, 2010 by Jaym Gates

I’m afraid that I’ll keep neglecting this blog. But I do like to have it to clear my head, so fear not.

Life is trying to sweep me off of my feet and dance away with me. I’m learning to accept the crap and sweeten the bad days with thoughts of the good things. It’s a slow process, and so worth it. I am able to live each moment separately, if I remember…

The projects have taken over my life, and I love that. I have Emergent Element, Little Death, #zinechat, a writer’s group, Rigor Amortis, Raw Dog Screaming, Science In My Fiction, Browncoats, Apex, conventions. This in addition to working 32 hours a week? Yeah, I’m busy. I love every second of it. This is where I thrive, when there’s too much to do, too many things to focus on.

Emergent Element is in limbo right now. We’re waiting to hear from Dragon*Con. Do we have a table, or no? Waiting list for a con this big is not reassuring. There’s so much that we have to put together for a table…and so little time.

ReaderCon is approaching too quickly. It looks like there will be quite a few people there that I ‘know’, and will finally get to meet in person. Oh, internet, what would writers do without you?

Rigor Amortis is scaring me, a little. I posted official guidelines this evening. We have 5 submissions already. The publisher is responding to our emails within the hour. Maybe publishing moves slowly, but there are times when keeping up is a challenge.

Little Death is my biggest focus for the next couple of weeks. I’m sure that we will get a deluge the last week that we are open for subs. But I’ve got to have everything set up to handle any deluge that we might get.

Our next #zinechat has a great guest. I’m excited for it, but I need to get the transcripts posted from the last one!

Raw Dog Screaming Press is exciting. Working on book tours, convention plans, setting stuff up, plotting and planning, *this* is what I’m good at, and what I love. I will now be actively pursuing a career in book publicity.

I can’t stop smiling. I have so many things that I need to do. I need to edit stories, and post jewelry, and talk to friends. I’ll get it all done.

And I’ll be smiling the entire time. If this is what success and contentment feel like, sign me up. I’m in my happy place.