Archive for the writing Category

Fresh off the Press!

Posted in QWIPS, short stories on March 10, 2010 by Jaym Gates

In November, 2009, Mike Griffiths sent me a Twitter reply. Was I participating in the Aether Age anthology? A quick Google search, and I hedged my bets. It looked awesome, but I knew I was going to be swamped, and shared world isn’t my strong point.

I forget how many people ended up nagging me. Plenty, that’s for sure, and I started it in January. Ya’ll know how January went for me. One computer crash after another. On top of that, I couldn’t find a story I liked. I told the editors that I probably wouldn’t make it.

Finally, I got pissed. On the old, crappy laptop, I sat down and wrote a story. I’d been trying to keep my pervasive love of horror out of it, and failed. It wasn’t a terribly long piece, and I wasn’t sure if I was happy with it or not.

I sent it to a couple of people, got great feedback, and made it before the deadline.

So yes, I’ve been on pins and needles ever since.

The reason for this ramble?

The Aether Age anthology will contain my story First Step, Last Breath along with a host of talented writers. Publication is slated for some time in August.

This is my first paying fiction publication.

The moral of the story? If a door opens, and then tries to reach out and grab you, while multiple people push you towards said door, and when you complain that you can’t possible REACH the door, the door moves closer…then you should probably go through the door.

Have I ever mentioned that I’m a bit dense. Yeah. I am.

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.

Bestiary: Shep-Sin

Posted in writing with tags , , on November 25, 2009 by Jaym Gates

Shep-Sin: A creature of myth. Vampiric, it feeds on human flesh and blood of people it kills. Only targets people that are not known to be dead. A particularly gruesome creature… it assumes the form of the victim and slips into the victim’s family, where it kills as many as it can. As long as it can kill, it maintains form. When there is no more blood kin, it has to go out and kill again.

Feeding is done by gutting the victim and feeding on the heart, brain, reproductive organs, eyes, tongue, liver and stomach. Steals bits of hair, teeth and nails to keep in a pouch around neck. This ties the ghosts to the beast. These will be slowly melded together until another Shep-Sin is created. These are the ones who do not have to be summoned, but they are weaker and cannot procreate.

Shep-Sin is a name also given to outcasts or lost kin. If someone has been gone for more than a believable amount of time, they are automatically assumed to be a Shep-Sin, and are never allowed into the family again. Such people, if they are Shep-Sin, are usually either killed on sight or simply waste away because the community bands together to starve the creature out of existence.


Posted in Freewrite, writing with tags , on November 17, 2009 by Jaym Gates

“Hey, thanks for the coffee.” Kris plunked down in the red chair and tried to blow patterns in the steam.
“Did it cling to the pot as you poured it?”
He stopped and looked at her. “No?”
“Did it yell obscenities at you?”
“Um, no.”
“Did it try and rip off your tongue?”
“It’s hot enough to.”
“Not the point. Look into the depths of your cup.”
Kris looked. He frowned. “Huh?”
“Are there strange and eldritch stirrings in the primordial muck of that which shall later be known as coffee?”
Kris sighed and shook his head. “You’re insane.”
She just shrugged and he took a hearty swallow of coffee.
A few seconds later, as he lay on the floor, wrestling with the Coffee Demons, she shrugged again. “Must not have cooled enough.”
Kris’s inarticulate scream of rage almost made her smile. But she hadn’t had her coffee yet, so she got up and poured a cup for herself. The coffee wailed as she filled her cup. Little hands reached for her nose and mouth, pulling her towards the coffee. Strange things stirred beneath the rippling, soupy surface.
“Oh shove off,” she said. “I paid good money for you. Now shut up or I’ll show you hell.”
The coffee abruptly subsided into the cup and she took a long, slow sip.
“Ahhhh, now that is good coffee.”

Nightmare Excerpt, 11/10

Posted in Excerpts, novels, writing with tags , , on November 10, 2009 by Jaym Gates

It was Witches Dance when the Runners were brought to the edge of the village. The time when Restless Hearts crept out to stare longingly at freedom, or lay in their beds and cried for hope.

“They’ll never come to us,” said Oak. The massive warrior crouched among the runners, his bolstered body heavy and stout as the tree that gave him its name, his hide cracked and gnarled, his legs bent and lightning fast. No Runner could carry him, but he could run with them.

Silk smiled and dismounted, stripping naked and tying his clothes to his Runner. “They will come,” he said, a thin reed flute in his hands.

“Let them come,” he whispered, and put the flute to his mouth as the spirit of the land rose and straddled his shoulders. She plunged one hand into his ear, another into his mouth until he choked on it. She sang through him as the men watched in shock. Music as wild as Dream’s sang through the streets, writhed into the houses and settled in the laps of the Restless Hearts. It grabbed their hands, kissing them and tugging, begging, pleading, urging them to come, to run, to follow. For the Restless, it was irresistible, but others woke and a few came too.

Six came to stand before Silk, their eyes glazed with beauty and hope. The song sighed away, the land pulled herself out of Silk and prodded him out of his reverie.

“We are Free,” said Horizon, “will you be Free with us?”

Six heads nodded.

There were three extra horses with them, so the two grown men and the heavy-set woman were put on them. The children clambered up behind Silent and Horizon and Mischief.

Chatter and Excerpt: Nightmare

Posted in Excerpts, novels, writing with tags , , , on November 7, 2009 by Jaym Gates

Alright, so I don’t have a title for this yet. So, for the moment, the working title is Nightmare.

Also, I’m keeping a fairly simple naming structure for the story, at least for now. I think that the story isn’t ‘big’ enough to need fancy names. So we have the following:


Since I’m using a simpler terminology for the monsters and such too, it just seems right. We’ll see, and feel free to leave feedback.

So far, the monsters I have include:





I started Nightmare on November 3, and am, as of November 7, at 5500 words. My goal is to hit 60,000 words by January 1. No, I’m not doing NaNo. I don’t have time, energy, nor the desire to produce such crap as such a schedule would have me produce. I USED to write 5000 a day, and burned out. 1500 a day is do-able.

That leaves me two months to edit to 80,000 words, a month to polish, and then start the submissions as soon as I have an address in Oregon.

Sooo…there’s the gist of the project. Now for the part you actually wanted to see! It is a very rough draft, so read for content, not quality, please?? Pretty please?

Mask and her brother stared at the house. “We’re supposed to live here?” Mask asked.
“You’ll live where the Queen tells ya,” the Guard snapped. “Now get in there wench.”
Mask shook her head, confused and disoriented by the sudden change. Three days ago, she had had her womanhood ceremony, along with about a dozen other girls. Then the soldiers had come, and chosen five women and five men. Three days later, they were standing in a ghost village, looking down a perfectly-kept street.
Cows still grazed on the town common. Ducks waddled past, quacking. Flowers bloomed in the windowboxes. But no one was around.
She opened the door, noted the slight squeak, and froze on the doorstep.
“This was someone’s house,” she said, her voice quivering.
“Well, it’s your house now,” said the Guard, and walked away, taking her brother with him.
“Wait!” she cried, reaching for Penchant. “Doesn’t he get to stay here?”
“Not unless you want to be breeding with him,” said the Guard, leering.
Shocked, she could only watch as her brother was led to another house.
“Mommy?” said a quivering little voice. “Mommy?”
A little boy, no more than two years old, stood in the doorway, his hand held firmly by an older woman. Mask stared at him.
“This is your mommy now,” said the older woman, her eyes wide.
“What’s going on?” asked Mask, as the little boy yelled “Not my mommy!”
“Hush!” snapped the woman, and thrust him against Mask. “He’s yours now child, best you keep him silent and obedient, or you’ll both end up on the commons, eating grass.”
“No questions!” said the woman, and shooed the rest of the children down the road. Mask could see two other women doing the same thing. Maybe ten children, all under the age of three.
“What’s your name honey?” she asked, dropping to her knees by the boy.
He shrugged, sullen. “Want mommy.”
“Mommy’s gonna come back, but let’s go have lunch while we wait, yes?”
He looked up, his face changing, and she thought he really was a handsome enough boy, all shaggy brown curls and smudges of dirt.
“Food,” he said, and ran into the house.
Mask followed slowly, her head spinning.
Three days after her womanhood ceremony, and she had a two-year-old son, someone else’s house, and a mystery.
She’d have liked all of them, but something told her the mommy wasn’t coming back, and she wouldn’t like the mystery.

Third Time’s a Charm?

Posted in novels, Uncategorized, writing with tags , , , on November 6, 2009 by Jaym Gates

I know, I know. I’ve said about ten other projects I was getting started on. But I’ve been in a funk, and none of them clicked.

So, after a fruitless day with absolutely no writing done, I turned on the Industrial music and sat down late at night.

Within 40 minutes, I had 1500 words of the nastiest story I’ve ever written. Human monsters based on folklore monsters. Sin and purity.

My goal is a completed rough draft by Jan. 1. Since this is horror, I think I can keep it shorter. So the target is a 60,000 rough draft, which I can reach by hitting 1400 words a day. Which means sticking to my goals.

I’m obsessed with this story. Don’t let me slack off!

Bestiary: Blurryman

Posted in Excerpts, writing with tags , , , , on November 6, 2009 by Jaym Gates

Mask saw the Blurryman the second day of her relocation. An ugly little creature in the skin of a human, hunch-backed, eyes the size of watermelons, clawed little hands. He sat on the common and munched on skinned grapes, popping them between his teeth.
Mask crept by, doing her best to be invisible.
The Blurryman’s head turned to watch her, watermelon eyes in his chest peering through human skin, while he raised his human-skin hand to cautiously wave at her. Mask choked and forced herself to wave back. Blurrymen were a secret, the Goddess-Queen’s secret eyes.
To see one was the sign of a witch…and witches were killed by the Blurryman.
She did, however, wonder where he’d gotten so many fresh grapes.

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.