Ghosts in the IM: Conversations Between Writers (and Editors)

Jaym Gates

Jaym Gates is a writer, editor, and communication specialist. You can find out more about her at and follow her on Twitter.


Minerva Zimmerman: Well… so you’ve discovered you’re an editor.

Jaym Gates: I am?

MZ:  It appears so. You keep doing anthologies and show no signs of stopping

I”m afraid you have a terminal case of Editor.

JG: And every time I consider it, Charles Tan and Ken Liu start getting Ideas.

MZ: not just them, they’re just more public about harassing you.

JG: I think it’s a sport at this point. But yeah, I’ve got a bunch of stuff hanging over my head like the Sword of Damocles. Also, if I start usin’ an Old West sort of lingo, I apologize. I’m editing to dev notes.

MZ: I was thinking more like wondering if you were wearing the gold lame shorts from Rocky Horror

JG: I don’t do shorts. Or lame. Class is a lost art. *sniffs haughtily*

MZ: Lame is such a bad idea in general.

JG: It really is. *shudder*

MZ:  How many projects that are YOUR projects are you working on right now? Or is that a bad question?

JG: Erm. So, War Stories is out in the wild now. Got some launch events and big reviews ahead of us.I have 111k words to edit on Genius Loci, which is hitting Kickstarter on November 4, and we have a Reddit AMA on November 18. The Exalted RPG anthology is waiting for one more story and my copy-edits, but it’s almost ready to go, and pretty awesome. And I juuuuuuuuust got the greenlight on something I’m *super* excited about–another tie-in RPG anthology–on Saturday, but until the contracts are signed, can’t say anything. So those are my four current projects, and Rich Dansky and I are noodling something.

MZ:  uh oh

JG: And then I’ve got something kind of sort of planned with Ken and Charles for next year, but we’ll see if that moves beyond a Twitter joke.

MZ: Pretty sure something will, if it’s what you’ve talked about now or not remains to be seen. What else is burning up your brain these days?

JG: Doing a TON of writing, all of the sudden. Sold a bunch of short stories last year, and then, this year, got a bunch of stuff all at once.

MZ: That’s awesome

JG: So I’m doing RPG writing for a project that I don’t think can be named at the moment, and a tie-in story for another shared world, and Dave Gross pinged me about a possible project, and Ken Scholes and I are working on a bunch of stuff together. And I’m doing some serious raging at GamerGate, so that’s about 15k words there, probably.

MZ: Yeah. I just bonded with a female coworker over games today, didn’t know she was a gamer and it came up randomly in conversation and then we geeked out for like 45 min. I want to go back to games being only awesome. y’know

JG: Oh, cool. And yeah, can we just get back to making stuff, please?

MZ: and enjoying stuff Privilege is not having to think about stuff. I miss that about games.

JG: Ugh, yeah, going to be a while til we get that back. But I kind of disagree with the common theme: it’s actually good that this happened. The industry needed a painful evolution.

MZ: Yeah, just… I’d rather the learning curve didn’t have to go THROUGH us.

JG: Look at it this way: we’re getting to help build a great industry.

MZ: And I’m not even catching crap directly. It’s thousands of times worse for those that are… just for speaking.

So, I want to talk about horses. Not that I know anything you can’t learn in 15 min before a trail ride on the oldest slowest mares in the world. You’re passionate about horses and seem to window shop for horses on the internet the way I look for a third dog.

JG: Haha, pretty much, except my habit is WAY more expensive…

MZ: I have not been tempted and I even have a barn suitable for horses.

JG: They’re basically gigantic, long-lived dogs, when it comes right down to it.

MZ: I do think about maybe getting some goats… and then I think better of it.


MZ: Yeah there was a horse in the field next door for awhile and it seemed to have the temperament of a curious Labrador …and I totally got it in trouble one day and I wasn’t thinking about it. See, I’d had all these apples I’d been storing in a tote on my porch, and they got a little old so I dumped them in my back pasture for the deer to eat.

JG: Ooops

MZ: And the next thing I knew my back fence had been mended and there were horse shoe prints all over my field.

JG: Hahaha

MZ: So, pretending that I WAS going to get a horse… what are things to look for in a giant goggie?

JG: Depends on what you’re using it for. If you just want a giant dog, there are TONS of rescues out there who have horses that’ve had a rough break in life and need a loving human and steady supply of feed. (Horses are more susceptible than any other creature to abuse, neglect, and economic woes, due to their size and expense.) If you want a riding animal, again, a lot of rescues have older horses who’re well-trained, but had a rough break. And yeah, they may be 20, but they often live to their early 30s, with good care and gentle use. At that point, you want a horse that moves freely, engages with a human well, and doesn’t have a bad back or knees. Kind of like humans. 😛

MZ: I would be a terrible horse.

JG: Awwwww, we’d put you down humanely though.

MZ: They kill writers don’t they? Wait, no… writers kill characters.

JG: Oh, is that the way it’s supposed to work? Oops, brb…ahem.

MZ: That’s not what I gave you a shovel for. Though, to be fair I did know it was a possibility.

speaking of horses and writing–  Horses are something that writers get terribly and completely wrong a lot of the time.

JG: Oh god, yes. About the horses, not the shovel, er, never mind.

MZ: 😛 What are some simple tips for writers to not do stupid horse things?

JG: Learn what a ‘hand’ is. One of my favorite authors has ‘gigantic draft horses’ that are 15 hands high, which is the average height for a horse. Like a guy being 5’10. At least LOOK at a diagram of equine anatomy so that you’re not having your character pet the fetlock on the nose of the poor pretzeled horse. And read up on some history, if you want to use horses. They’re *amazing* creatures, and honestly, a lot of writers underserve them. Screw Lassie, there are horses that have done amazing feats.

MZ: Ok, I actually know that a fetlock is a foot bit.

JG: *claps* Yay!

MZ: You’d think that US Cavalry movies with horses doing amazing things would have caught on during the Western years

JG: There were some, just nothing that really hit mainstream. I mean, Mr. Ed, Silver, Flash, there were a TON of celebrity horses, but that was a long time ago.

MZ: You know, they don’t taxidermy cowboys.

JG: Oddly…

MZ: A lot of celebrity horses got taxidermied. I find this unsettling and weird. Maybe because I work with a lot of taxidermy. I mean they plasticize some scientists if they ask for it… but that’s about it

JG: Ha, hmmm… I don’t like wax or taxidermied things, really.

MZ: I just don’t think you should uh… preserve beings with known personalities. Cause you can’t preserve the personality part and so it just becomes a weird creepy shell thing.

JG: Exactly!

MZ: Well, this conversation went weird at some point. It’s probably my fault. This is probably a good point to ask if there’s anything else you’d like to talk about that we haven’t covered?

JG: Between the two of us, it’s not ‘if’, it’s ‘when’.

The only thing I can think of is that people should keep their eyes open for some pretty cool SFWA projects, and that there’s a great company called Make Believe Games that I’m doing PR for, and we’ll have some fun multimedia stuff coming out soon there, too.