Archive for the work Category

Copywrite Ideas

Posted in Musings, short stories, Theories and Thoughts, work on March 4, 2010 by Jaym Gates

The other day, I was discussing a story on Twitter with someone. Long form short, he asked for a plot. I gave it to him, in a regular tweet. At the time, I’d thought of sending it DM, and it just didn’t seem necessary. He was surprised that I had put it out there in public.

That got me thinking. I’d considered, at the time, sending it DM. But it was just a very rough plot, one which is actually not that unique. It isn’t a story that I’m pushing the boundaries with, at least, not in main plot. It is about what I’d write into a teaser. I hadn’t given away the ending.

Yes, someone could come along and pick up the plot. They could write and submit it, and maybe even sell it. But it would still so not be my story.

I grew up reading fairytales, the Bible, and mythology, as well as an unhealthy dose of Christian apocalyptic fiction. Adult stuff, honestly, that I probably shouldn’t have been reading. But it formed interesting patterns in my head. I draw from these plots when I’m writing, and overlay it with an upholstery of horror and the stitching that comes from a love of world-building.

If you read more than three of my stories, certain similarities become apparent. Threads start forming. I write everything around a core of concepts. Things like the Aether Age stories are outside of the created world I typically use, but the details are still there.

I consider the details to be the treasure. I guard those fairly closely, and the timelines/history/mythology of my world. The plot? Show me a plot that hasn’t been done before! It’s in the seasoning and mixing of ideas that I find the real beauty and unique voice, whether in my own work or someone else’s.

However, I also have to be humble here. I’ve been working in the publishing world for just over a year. I’m still wet behind the ears, dammit. So yeah, I totally am open to having screwed up on that one.

But if I did, I want to know why, and how. I’d be interested to hear from the perspective of an editor, or a slush reader. Is it a problem to skim a plot in a public venue?

*bounce bounce bounce*

Posted in work, writing with tags on February 26, 2010 by Jaym Gates

This sucks. I’ve got a bunch of things that I’m waiting for news on, so I THINK I’ve got great news to share, but I don’t want to jinx myself!

In news that I CAN share, the article for the Crossed Genres ‘Antihero’ issue is written and sent. It focuses on the Browncoats: Redemption film that I’ve been talking about for so long. Working on it got me all giddy again, and certain recent info/events intersected in my head. I sent a DM, and then an email, and another email, and now I’m sitting on my hands, trying not to jump the gun!

Apparently, the first Aether Age replies are going out. So I’m a nervous wreck about that, too! I am not good at this waiting thing. Hope sucks even more, y’know?

I’m feeling pretty good about life right now. I’ve got one story off to Drollerie Press, on time, the CG article sent on time, the info for the next article, and good ideas about the next three stories. As an unanticipated side-effect, I started a rewrite way ahead of schedule.

Unfortunately, Nightmare will NOT be finished on schedule. Again. However, I’ve gotten a long ways by trusting my instincts and jumping at the opportunities that have presented themselves. Nightmare is impatient though, and keeps battering at me to be written!

The news finally came: my great-grandmother passed away a couple of days ago. There are two services next weekend: a private family one on Friday, and the big service on Saturday. I’m flying to Colorado EARLY Friday morning, and will be back on Sunday. This is the first time I’ll have seen most of these people in the better part of ten years. The drama has already started, as was anticipated, and I can’t say I don’t have a substantial amount of dread piling up.

The most interesting part of this? I can’t mention WHAT I write, which means I don’t want to mention writing at all. If I’ve just gotten great news, it’s going to be making me more bitter than usual that the only reaction would be to throw holy water on me. I also have to make sure to keep all the tattoos covered, to not wear earrings, to take off the necklaces I wear night and day. In fact, I’ll probably steer clear of most jewelry that weekend.

After Connooga’s corsets and a realization of how much I love showing up and standing out, this is not going to be easy!

Anyways, if I’ve forgotten that I owe you something, please remind me. I’m hoping to take tomorrow to sit down and write out new lists. The near-future space story should be drafted during flight, the ghost story is already started, the other one will have to wait. I’ve got volunteer work this weekend, and an article to write for them.

And, dammitall, I’m forgetting something. I know I am.

An Outer Alliance Article

Posted in Fantasy Magazine, Uncategorized, work with tags , , , on November 8, 2009 by Jaym Gates

A while back, I pitched the idea to one of Fantasy Magazine’s editors that, as a magazine that actively seeks minority points of view and fair representation in fiction, we should run an article on Outer Alliance.

For those of you who haven’t checked it out, it’s a group started by Natania Barron and Brandon Bell. Focusing on advocating LGBTQ issues in literature, it is a steadily-growing group of F/SF authors and fans who believe that gay rights and acceptance reach into more than marriage and the mundane world.

2009 has not only been a tumultuous year for anyone in the LGBTQ community, but in the genre community as well. There have been several debates over the prejudice towards white male authors, flaming attacks on rights from well-known authors, and even prejudice against advertisements. This is perfect timing for an organization to bring some focus on an issue that hasn’t had so much attention paid to it recently.

However, I want to show, in my article, why we need something like Outer Alliance in the first place. As such, I’ve put out an invitation on Twitter for anyone who would like to help me out.

Here’s the deal: If you have had experience with some form of prejudice, whether or not you were the party involved, regarding genre fiction and LGBTQ issues, I’d like to hear stories.

If you have links to examples of good OR bad responses to prejudice, queer fiction or queer authors/fans, send ’em away.

What I’m not looking for is ‘we need to do this’, slander, flaming or soapboxes. This is a feature on an organization that is trying to root out prejudice, not an article lambasting or villainizing a group of people.

I also can’t promise that I’ll use everything you send me. But if it is thought-provoking, relevant or really unique, I may want to quote you!

Thanks everyone. This is a project I’m really, really looking forward to!

It’s a Job, Not a Reward

Posted in Rants, Theories and Thoughts, work, writing with tags , , , on November 4, 2009 by Jaym Gates

Well then, that was special. The happy-happy about where I live is that some moron decided to put the cable box right at the entrance to our subdivision. Right at the side of a very busy road. A very busy road that has many, many accidents right at the entrance to our subdivision.

Seeing the pattern here? Yeah. There was an accident this afternoon apparently, so I’ve been without internet for four hours.

Of course, I did all the non-internet stuff early this morning…when I still had internet. And since half of what I needed to do today was ONLINE…it hasn’t been quite as productive a day as I was hoping.

Oh well.

I guess this means (since at the time of writing, I STILL don’t have internet…) that I might as well write a nice long post.

About…hmm. Nothing springs to mind.

Ooo, I know, a rant. Yes, a rant.

See, I’ve seen a lot of questions basically saying ‘how do I get published?’ ‘how do I write a query letter?’ etc etc etc. Those are all good questions, right?

Well, kinda. But the problem is, a lot of the time, it’s pretty obvious that they want the easy answer. Most of these questions are easily answered by a quick Google search.

And you know what? That’s how I found out all my answers. Every time I answer someone’s questions about something related to writing or publishing, I swear they say ‘wow, you know so much!’.

Behold the power of Google. There are literally hundreds of blogs, ‘ask the agent’ and Q&A sites. Agents and publishers have Twitter too, where they talk about the daily problems associated with publishing and give lots and lots of hints and tips. And, to top off the deal, there are writer’s forums, where you can go read, ask and learn.

“But there’s so much! How do I know what’s real?”

This is actually a really valid question. There must be a dozen ‘how to write a query letter’ sites out there…at least. I stumbled all over those for a while before I figured it out. It can be hard sometimes, to figure out what is valid and up-to-date.

That’s where reading the articles on agency sites, and SFWA can be so useful. They tend to keep up pretty well with what you need to send.

Reading the blogs of newly-published authors is useful too. A lot of the time, these people are going to be talking about what it’s like, how they did it, what they have to do. This is not only good, but priceless.

What you don’t want to do is go around asking ‘how do I get published? How do I write a cover letter?’
Every successful author, agent, editor and publisher has gone through years of research, experience, study and confusion. Do you really expect to bypass all that? That’s what classes and seminars are for. Agent and writers get paid to do those. It’s part of how they make money. Shelling out advice for free is nice and some people will do it, but they get dozens of those questions every day, and the best you’ll probably get is a ‘go research’.

If you do get that answer, don’t get pissed. That’s virtual suicide. The publishing world is a small, tightly-knit one. Everyone has lunch with everyone else. So if you do go off about how unhelpful someone is, chances are, you won’t be all that welcome any more. It’s not rudeness. It’s you have your job, they have their job.

And that’s really what it boils down to. You have your job. Consider the research to be schoolwork. Read, study, do your homework. Writing is a job. No one’s going to do it for you.

So next time you have a question, Google it. There’s a lot of stuff out there to find.

Tomorrow I’ll post some of those resources. After all, it is always nice to get a bit of a headstart from someone!

*edit* Apparently, it’s just me that got lucky. No internet at all, and something seems to be broken. So I’m offline until at least tomorrow night. Gotta love it.

Another article published!

Posted in Fantasy Magazine with tags , , on October 24, 2009 by Jaym Gates

Yup, another article is up at Fantasy Magazine. Ya’ll should really appreciate this one, as it just refused to come together in my head for the longest time.

Anyways, I figured I’d make a list of the articles I’ve had published there.

Forum Games and Gamemasters: An Interview

Forum-Based Roleplaying: Good or Bad?

I Am a Browncoat

Dragon*Con 2009: Retrospective

Hmmm… I don’t have time to track down the first one today. Oh well. I’ll find that later.

Mentally, I am screaming.

Posted in work, writing with tags , , , , , on October 6, 2009 by Jaym Gates

Outside I am quite calm.

No, really, it’s not that bad. But I am remembering why I loathe queries. Non-fic proposals are possibly as bad. Memoirs? Holy mother of hell, don’t get me started.

Three hours of research, and I’m not sure I actually remember anything I read. Thank the lord it’s a rainy day out there, that some sanity survives!

Or, as much sanity as I actually have.

My next project is… whip-cracking so that we have a book to go with the query!

See, we started under the assumption that a memoir would be submitted as regular non-fiction. Oh, nope. At least not to the majority of agents. That was my goof, so I spent time today making sure I knew exactly what I needed to do. I’m happy to say I…failed? Yeah. I have a vague idea, but finding hard-and-fast guidelines isn’t easy.

But, my dear author had already written a proposal. Knocked it out in about two hours at that. And it was rather good. So, instead of scraping that, I edited it, and realized what a good thing this was.

Basically, I have the materials for synopsis, query, bio, outline, hook, everything. All in one document. All nice and linear. I like nice and linear.

So yes. This is a glitch turned into a great thing.

Now I just hope I don’t get too confused, because we should be submitting the book sometime in January…right when I’ll send Inherent out! Oy vey. Yes, I’m already building the spread-sheet to keep track of all of this.

Hmmm…

Posted in articles, novels, Personal Life, QWIPS, work, writing on October 3, 2009 by Jaym Gates

Top search leading to my blog? “Jaym Gates”. Wow. People are actually searching for ME? Nice. I’ll bask in the glow of my ego for a moment. Ok, done now.

Actually, that’s all balanced out by me being an idiot and a pained one at that. My nervous system seems to occasionally just up and rebel, and this last week has been one of those rebellions. Whether it’s the cold weather, not having gotten back to normal from Dragon*Con and being sick before that, I don’t know. But the last week has been a haze of excruciating, random nerve pain. Pain to the point that my ankle will just fold under me.

Of course, this happens about the time it’s cool enough for me to resume the work-outs. Treadmill is on hold till this is over. I had to leave work earlier than planned last night, came home and crashed straight into bed. This is not pleasing to me whatsoever.

The idiot part? I’ve let Inherent sit with almost no attention for over a month now. At best, it’s been token attention. Now that my goal is to have the edits done by Nov. 1, I’m back to being in a time-crunch. It also means I’ll be submitting queries at the same time as the NaNoWriMo crowd. Not good. I need to adjust my novel-writing schedule somehow though, so that I submit in Sept/Oct. rather and Nov/Dec.

On the short-story front… No news. No rejections, no acceptances, just radio silence. However, Prometheus is coming along nicely. Title will most likely be revised to something like Lord of Heaven and Earth though. Currently it sits at 6400 words and about halfway through the first edit.

I have two articles at Fantasy Magazine, waiting for me to format them so they can be published. Both are on forum-based gaming.

Oh! And Tuesday, I go back in to talk to my tattoo artist. Little Tommy of Ace Custom Tattoo is the flat-out most awesome artist ever. I’m really hoping to have new pictures for you by the end of the month.

Monday is horse day again, so probably no blog.

And, that is all. Enjoy your weekend!

Humor and Hope

Posted in work, writing on October 2, 2009 by Jaym Gates

Back in 2001, right after 9/11, my great-aunt called to say that my favorite cousin was joining the Army. Although I hadn’t (and still haven’t) seen him for over ten years, I have very fond memories of him and his sense of humor.

Well, let me tell you, that sense of humor just got better in the Army. Cousin Greg wrote regular letters home, some of which were published on the Identity Theory Blog.

It was by far the most educational day we’ve had so far, so the future holds some promise. I did, however, manage to trip going into a room and fall flat on my face. I would have had the Screw Up Of the DAY had it not been for another Private leaving his weapon on “fire” instead of “safe” while it was slung on his back in the chow line.

The Drill Sergeant who caught him broke a bottle of Heinz 57 on his helmet. At least people said that I looked stylish when I tripped because I kept my weapon pointed at the target even as I fell, but it’s hard to look good when you’re covered in steak sauce.~Drobny, Identity Theory

Now, I’ll just say that this is probably one of the funnier things he’s written about, and one of the most understated too. If you want the really funny, he’s got a blog over at Twisted Sense of Funny that is WELL worth the read. And the archive read. And then the check to see if maybe there are some blogs hidden away somewhere too.

It’s not all fun and games though. Our family is inclined to be pretty introspective, and to maybe think a little harder about life than we should. Occasionally, that pays off with something other than depression and a headache. His thoughts on America as a nation are quite thought-provoking and on the spot.

Instead, I would just like to share a few quick thoughts on our situation as a nation… We are a nation who is at war with its own ideals. We would like to have the freedom to choose, and have a law that keeps our neighbor from doing the same. What does all this mean? Does it mean that our country will self destruct? Or does it mean that we will wipe out all the evils of the world? Most likely neither, as is the case with most of these issues. As the saying goes, we “Can’t have our cake and eat it too.”~Drobny, Identity Theory

Now, after considerable urgin (read: nagging) from me and others, he’s decided to write these stories out and see about getting them published. Since I was the idiot who apparently yelled loudest about it, natural selection grabbed onto my ankle and I’m suddenly learning about the world of non-fiction.

Hmmm, yes, how does one write a proposal? Yes, my poor cousin is stuck with me as his assistant. He thought the Army was difficult… So anyways, I’ve been spending some time on the web looking for information on proposals and processes. Yikes. I’ll stick to fiction for myself I think, it’s WAY easier to query than propose!

I can’t wait though, honestly. I’m buying this book the day it comes out, and then I’m buying it for my friends for Christmas. This guy has the knack of humor with heart. That’s pretty damn rare.

Fantasy Magazine Announces New Contest

Posted in Fantasy Magazine, writing with tags , , , , , , , on October 1, 2009 by Jaym Gates

Since the last Flash-Fiction contest was so successful, Rae Bryant unveiled the newest contest today.

Submission Window: October 1st to Friday the 16th, midnight.

Choose a graphic image as a prompt then start writing! Less than 1,000 words. Yes, 1,001 is more than 1,000. Story content should relate directly to the graphic of choice and should also follow the content guidelines as posted on our Fantasy Magazine guidelines page.

Contest Guidelines

This is a great opportunity for a new writer looking to break in, as it is exposure and experience. For a more established writer…Hey, you’ve got some GOOD competition here.

Have fun everyone!

Big Blind Man the Stubborn

Posted in horses, Musings, Personal Life with tags on September 23, 2009 by Jaym Gates

Have you ever haltered a horse? Not too bad, right? Just a handful of floppy straps that go around that big head. No big deal.

Ever done it while the horse had his nose stuck up into the stratosphere? How about on a horse big enough that the head is literally 6+ feet in the air? Yeah, bigger deal. Not insurmountable, but annoying.

What about a horse so head-shy that, if you touch his ears, he goes into orbit, usually taking the halter with him and flinging it halfway across the pasture? Been there, done that, and OW. Because in the moment it takes to let go of the halter, your arms get about a foot of stretch.

And yet, all of these pale next to the ultimate haltering nuisance: the evader. Evaders come in all shapes, sizes and strengths. Some simply fidget so much that you might as well give up and go bob for apples in the ocean, because it’s going to be easier. Others, well, you can’t even get within reach of them.

I’ve had many of that latter group. Pastures are conducive to halter-olympics. We had a neurotic half-thoroughbred gelding who would literally run in circles for an hour, rather than let us get close to him. He wasn’t spooked, wasn’t afraid of anything. He was just being… special. And he infected the other horses too. So let’s just say that I’ve had a great deal of practice in approaching and haltering the horses that won’t be caught.

Yes, as you might have guessed, Big Man decided to be an Evader Monday. Apparently, his halter had come off the day before. And he was not going to have it put back on. Monica had spent half an hour with him already, and he wasn’t spooky about it, he just didn’t want it back. He’d gotten rid of it. Not a game of fetch people, I don’t want it back.

I think we were in the pasture for about 40 minutes. About 15 of those were spent chasing him around. Three people, not a huge pasture. No dice.

Again, this is where the uncertainty comes in. He’s blind. His ears and nose and sixth-sense (which all good horses have in annoying abundance anyways) are off the charts. He’s fairly easy to approach, but it has to be the right kind of approach. With the halter on, he’s easy. Without it, heh.

Bring on the food. A bucket of feed under his nose, and the games get serious. He didn’t want to be petted, because he’d figured out that it was a prelude to haltering. I’ve had that issue before. We put the feed down, and I stood next to the bucket. I wouldn’t approach him, he’d approach me. That makes a huge difference. He had to get into my space to get to the bucket.

I’d like to make a quick note here… I’d never recommend doing this, especially not with a territorial horse. If it’s a stallion, it’s frikkin suicide if you don’t know exactly what’s going on. Big Man is more gentle than any stallion I’ve worked with, and it’s still a risk. He would be quite at rights to bite or kick the competition away from his food. Don’t ever, no matter how good the horse, lose focus on the situation for a single second! I’m fool-hardy and able to fend off a big animal. It’s still a bad idea.

Anyways, at first, I put my fingers against his mane. He jumped away, came back, and let me put my hand on his neck. Lots of wither-scratching, sweet-talking and no movement later, I could pull the rope off of my shoulder and start rubbing him with that. About five, ten minutes later, the rope was behind his ears, and he was cool with that. I looped it around his neck, carefully took the halter from my friend, and repeated the scratching and talking. This time, when the halter got down to his head, he did spook. This is why the rope was around his neck, I brought him right back. The halter was in the food bucket, he had to eat around it.

I led him away from the feed twice before I brought the halter with us. Each time, he had to stand politely for a few moments. Monica held the rope, and we went prancing around the pasture for a few minutes. It is NOT comfortable, dangling off a horse’s head like that. A stallion’s neck is incredibly strong, and I’ve had them lift me off my feet before. Finally haltered, he calmed right down and let us praise the hell out of him.

After that, he got a bit of grooming, we played with his feet and tied him to the trailer. Remember the first time I talked about the trailer? How he wouldn’t go anywhere near it? He tied right up, and stood playing with the rope and generally being a brat. He’s officially not worried anymore. And that’s where I saw the most wonderful thing I will ever see with him. The day will come when he’s bomb-proof, can be ridden with just a halter, anything, and it won’t be half as lovely as this.

He stood, tied the the trailer. His head dropped even with his back, he was resting on three legs, his ears were flopping sideways, his lower lip was loose and flappy, and his eyes were soft and half-hooded.

Why is this so great? Horses show their emotions in body and eyes. When he first went to the trailer, his head was stiff and high. All four feet were braced, his ears were back. His lower lip was tight to his teeth and his eyes were wrinkled and hard. He looked scared, and rightly so.

Monday, he was the picture of a trusting, healed horse. He has a long ways to go, but there were three people and a trailer in his personal space, and he was stoned on good feelings. That’s more than I could ever have asked for from a horse with his past, and especially that soon.

After that, things got a bit wild. He’s put on weight and muscle. He has a stallion’s deep barrel chest, thick neck and some powerful haunches. His conformation is quite sturdy, and for being a relatively short horse, he’s no pushover. He’s also feeling good, is fat and sassy, and therefore spends half of the training time being a brat. Cooler weather isn’t helping.

Monica put the blanket on him. He launched. Big Man launching leaves holes in the ground and puts a rabbit to shame. Unfortunately, he was so focused on the blanket that he launched straight into me. I took his shoulder to the torso, and he landed square on my left foot. And I will love him forever, because he immediately forgot the blanket, realized he’d run over one of his humans, and shifted his weight right off. My foot is barely bruised!

However, a lot more dancing was required that evening. Monday was one of those days that is simultaneously immensely gratifying and downright frustrating! He spooked at the basics, but we got a cinch around his girth, over a blanket. We started the basics of lunging him, he went in circles we weren’t asking for. He was completely engaged and listening, but still hauls off at every movement. Because there were three of us, and he is a lot stronger now, I spent a lot of time trying to keep him from running a human, the trailer, the tree, the saddle, the kid, the dog or the next county over. Trust me, that’s one place I’m a good dancer!

And he made up for that when he put his nose against the side of my neck and nuzzled ever so gently. I trust very few horses to do that, and a lot of them won’t do it. He rested his muzzle on my shoulder for a moment, and the feeling of a gentle horse’s breath is one of the most heart-comforting things in the world.

On another note, he’s lost a lot of his ragged look, and the change is startling. He’s always been handsome, but now he has no resemblance to a grade horse. Monica and I think he’s probably half quarter-horse, half Arab. He certainly has the movement, face, curved ears and general shape of an Arab, but on a slightly larger scale that usually means Quarter Horse. He also has the insane curiosity, playfulness and temper that the Arabs of my experience have. Whatever the blood, he’s a show horse.

And he’s going to be ok. It’s still a long, hard road, but the starving, terrified, abused stallion who suffered about the worst any human could hand to him is going to be ok.

I couldn’t ask for more.