Archive for the short stories 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?

Writing Habits…

Posted in QWIPS, short stories, Theories and Thoughts, writing with tags , on October 17, 2009 by Jaym Gates

…are something I could stand to improve.

Sorry for the lack of post yesterday. In my defense, I honestly thought it was Saturday. ALL. DAY. LONG. I thought it was Saturday. How sad is that? So it wasn’t a lack of dedication, but a lack…well, a lot of other things. Most notably, a brain. Anyone got a spare sitting around please?

Anyways, just finished another round of editing on On Aralu’s Breast. I am pleased with the story. It went from 1200 words to about 2200. Not bad. It’s also heavily erotic. Which leads to the point of this post.

I’ve written two stories set in Sumerian culture now. New Name was not directly Sumerian. In fact, it was meant to tie into my Shadow and Soul world. But further research for Aralu pointed out that I really did write a Sumerian story there. Kema makes a very convincing Ereshkigal, and Hell there is the dusty Aralu of Sumerian myth. I didn’t do that intentionally, I swear.

And it didn’t start out to be sexual. It ended up so. Not blatantly, although a rewrite would change THAT significantly.

The last lines of the two stories were also originally very, very similar. And on thinking back, I’m beginning to notice some common things in my writing.

1.) A sort of passive ‘possession’ that allows the protagonist to see through someone else’s eyes. In Inherent, it just got tweaked so that the narrator saw the entire series of events through the eyes of everyone there. In Aralu, Ku-Inanna is watching through the eyes of a nameless god.

2.) Killing off an old god for a new one to rise. Substitute ‘dragon’ for god, and there’s the story about Prometheus right there.

3.) Changing names. In Inherent, two of the main characters take new names after coronation, and their personality actually shifts to reflect the new things. In Aralu, Ku-Inanna’s name changes to reflect his new situation. Names are power.

4.) A certain ‘breed’ of witch. Namely, one who works just this side of insanity, is very dark, and has the attitude of a goddess. I like my witches.

5.) Dragons. Three different forms at this point. There’s the dragon in Hidden Fire, which is the most ‘traditional’ of the three. Prometheus is a sort of magic/tech hybrid, and Inherent’s dragons are the most odd of the three.

There are more themes, like immortality, vengeance and being consumed by power, but those above are the ones that crop up the most frequently. So, there you have it. I have habits.


Posted in short stories, Stories-Thunder Songs, writing with tags , , , , , , on October 6, 2009 by Jaym Gates

From Wikipedia:

The Aztecs believed that the dead traveled to Mictlán, a neutral place found far to the north. There was also a legend of a place of white flowers, which was always dark, and was home to the gods of death, particularly Mictlantecutli and his spouse Mictlantecihuatl, which means literally “lords of Mictlán”. The journey to Mictlán took four years, and the travelers had to overcome difficult tests, such as passing a mountain range where the mountains crashed into each other, a field where the wind carried flesh-scraping knives, and a river of blood with fearsome jaguars.

Whoa. And we think Christians have a mean Hell.

I think it says something about me as a person and a writer that I have Wikipedia’s page on Hell saved as a favorite.

However, I have an excuse: I’m going to write 9 short stories over the few months or so, tentatively titled Alighieri and the Songs of Sheol. Yes, it’s a bit of a mix, so the title will probably change. However, it will be stories set in the various cultural interpretations of Hell, so the mishmash might work. In addition, I will try and write one of them as hypertext fiction, which will be an adventure…

Why this, why now? Because a main premise of The Red Sun Rises is the travel of the hero through a hundred hells. However, I realize now that I didn’t know that much about different interpretations of hell. So this is partly research.

But, it is also because I like to have a big project over the winter. Something shorter than a book, longer than a short story. Last year, it was New Name.

So, as soon as I finish Prometheus this week, I’ll start on the stories. They should include horror, romance, adventure, steampunk, cyberpunk and fantasy. The realms tentatively planned on are Mictlan, Gathas, Diyu, Sheol, Xibalba, Aralu, Peklo, and two original hells.

I am looking forward to this!

Prometheus Update

Posted in Excerpts, short stories, writing on September 30, 2009 by Jaym Gates

The rough draft is finished, 6050 words. It’s still pretty rough. The story is good and all, but the setting needs a hell of a lot of padding. The prose needs prettying up too.

Vritra filled the viewscreen, long and white and furious. Magic—magic that no Dracul was ever able to call—shimmered around him in a blue shield, and Janus knew with sinking certainty that the Copperheads would malfunction before they ever hit flesh.

And then Prometheus screamed and swerved, slashing at Vritra with his heavy tail, his talons raking through the white dragon’s magic and gathering it up in handfuls. Vritra shrieked too, in pain and rage, as his shields were ripped, and he struck, snakelike, coming away with a mouthful of alloy scales.

Prometheus Teaser: Vritra’s Child

Posted in Excerpts, QWIPS, short stories with tags , , , on September 27, 2009 by Jaym Gates

Gears and engines whined around him, screens shutting off. The drone remained on-screen, an eerie golden glow cast around the cabin. As they left the immature Organics behind, Janus saw one young male, larger than the others, raise his head to peer at the sky, his blue throat startling even in the washed-out light of the sun. Vritra’s child. His throat burned at the thought of that treacherous, beautiful serpent.

The tentatively-titled Prometheus is at 3300 words after the third day of writing. Not bad, if I may say so. HOWEVER… this promises to be a much longer story than the usual. And it is also very different from my usual short stories, and very much like my novels. A good thing I think.

Vritra’s child. Yes, I sense another story here.

New Story: Prometheus

Posted in QWIPS, short stories on September 25, 2009 by Jaym Gates

Alright, time to see if I can write something that goes from Point A to Point B without having too much fun. Climb No Mountain and Sin and Salvation were fun to write, but certainly aren’t going to be bread-winners!

Truth is, the dragons are warriors and soldiers in this war too. Coming from every corner of the nine states, they’ve convened here in the city to set up plans for the coming campaign. They brought us, all us humans and elves and other beings that have hands and two legs and can use opposable thumbs, and formed us into a rag-tag army.

I wrote that a long, long time ago. I don’t even remember why. There was some prompt, I vaguely remember that. But it’s a concept that suddenly got some momentum today as I was brainstorming.

I like to keep my stories set in one world. When I wrote Red Sun, I put in creatures that were a mix of human and beast. I had a scene of these beasts in a battle against fighter-jets.

Well now, those creatures just begged for more use.

A fully organic hand struck the magic-and-technology-enhanced super-house and shattered. Frozen shards of flesh clattered on the concrete of the warehouse and the roar of an enraged beast filled the air. The super-house clambered to its feet, head rearing a hundred feet into the air. Lights flickered on in the surrounding apartments, crew-men flew pell-mell down the stairs.

“Down here! They’ve got Prometheus surrounded!” Shouts filled the air, weapons crackled to life.
The super-house, the red Prometheus, tossed his head and bellowed again, calling his crew. The intruders dropped their weapons and scampered towards the exit, leaving their fellow sprawled on the floor, flash-frozen.

Well, yeah. How about we do that? Prometheus is the pinnacle of the technology and the prototype of the magic available at that time. The super-houses are like flying carriers, able to haul immense loads of gear, supplies or troops. They are augmented with absolutely the best firepower. Technologically, they are unsurpassed, a perfect blend of organic mind and inorganic body.

But a good war-witch or wing-hunter can bring them down with the easiest of spells. Therefore, the six super-houses have to have their own witches to protect them. Prometheus doesn’t have his witch yet. Therefore, he is quite vulnerable, especially to the wing-hunters. A super-house is incredibly valuable, and worth any amount of time and trouble he might cause.

My goal with this story is to build another piece of the puzzle that will eventually be the Arms of War series. This occurs early on in that setting, when technology hadn’t started fading. Later, Prometheus would be meeting up with creatures smaller and more magically skilled, but far less technologically sound.

So, there we have it. The next story.


Posted in short stories, writing on September 16, 2009 by Jaym Gates

So, if a rejection letter says ‘the prose was well-received here’, looks personalized, and doesn’t offer any changes that need to be made, should I be happy about this? Because I am.

Especially since it was ‘Climb No Mountain’, and that story got very poor feedback from my test-readers as far as style and such. And it’s told present-tense. Mmmmm. I’m starting to just plain enjoy rejection letters, how sad is that!

Page Four

Posted in short stories, work, writing with tags , , , , , , on September 15, 2009 by Jaym Gates

So yes, I’ve touted Sonar and StoryBook before. Sonar has proven its worth already. One quick glance, and I know what went where when and why and what I heard/didn’t hear back. Got that? It is much, much easier than a document.

StoryBook hasn’t gotten so much use. I tend to keep my characters in my head, so I don’t need a character tracking device so much. Same with plots. So StoryBook isn’t all that useful to me personally, but I still highly recommend giving it a try.

And now, most lately, I wanted to try a program like Scrivener. Since that’s Mac only, I found a link to a program called Page Four, which seems to be a similar-enough program.

One of the things I bitch about is the number of OpenOffice tabs I have to keep open. I’d like all the research to be bundled up neatly, and it looks like Page Four will do that for me. Also, it provides nice automatic backups, so if I screw up, I can just visit the archives and reboot. Nice.

So there you have it. Three programs that I recommend. I do not, however, currently recommend WordPress. At the moment, spellcheck recognizes none of the following words: WordPress, spellcheck, and proven.

Fail, WordPress, fail.