Lyn Gala

One writer's journal through one version of reality


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Monthly Update

So, January has seen the end of one WIP. Earth Fathers Are Weird is now officially done.  I am editing now, and bless you to all the readers who are jumping on the edits.  I love that I have readers who love me enough to tell me I have toilet paper hanging off my shoe. EFAW goes off to the editor next week, and I am playing with ideas for a new book.

 

I asked for some feedback on ideas, and the winner was the idea of doing a friends to enemies to lovers. So I started brainstorming. Mahlon went to the academy with Van, and they were classmates and allies. Both were working-class men determined to turn a natural talent with math and piloting into successful careers.  They started together as junior officers. As the war between Command and the rebelling colonies heated up, they both earned their own ships.

 

But Mahlon stopped believing Command had any moral high ground one January day, and he walked away from his command, his ship, and his friendship with Van.  Now Van is in command of the ship tracking down rebel ships as Command finally takes back control of all human-occupied space.  However, everyone’s plans are upended when a Cy ship decides to destroy both human ships, forcing the surviving humans to take refuge on the very ship that had attacked them.

 

I have such a strong image.  Mahlon is quiet. He lives behind masks and sarcasm and few people ever see past that. His father worked as a servant in a wealthy home, so Mahlon learned to be quiet and play at being respectful, but he has a vicious inner voice.  And sometimes he turns that voice on himself. Van is serious, less likely to make a joke than Mahlon, and quick to assume the worst of most people. He has an ethical standard that he expects others to meet and he resents it when they don’t. However, he could always see the best of Mahlon when they were in school together.

 

The guys had started to really come clear. And then I looked at the poll again, and friends to enemies to lovers has the least number of votes.

 

*Sigh*

 

Well, once my brain decides on a path, the muse does not change gears easily, so this will be the next story.  But before I get into that, I am going to finish Aberrant Magic 7: Durance.  I’ve already contracted for a new cover and I really want to tell the rest  of the story.  This first arc in the Magic universe is setting up major changes in the world.  Right now, their universe looks very much like ours with a few more bells and whistles.  I see the first eight books as an introduction into a world that is on the cusp of radical change.  So I’m looking forward to getting back into that universe.

 

So, that’s what I’ve been up to. Oh!  I almost forgot.  A French publisher has asked to translated one of my Dreamspinner books.  Sometime in the next year or two, Tap-Dancing the Minefields will be released by MxM Bookmark. I’m excited about that.  I know translated versions don’t do well financially for the original author, but I’m going to be in another language.  That’s totally awesome.  When it comes out, I will get copies, but I don’t know yet if that will be electronic or paperback.  It would be so cool to hold a book with my words in French, but we’ll see.

 

Okay, so that’s really it.  I hope everyone kept themselves and their families (including furbabies) warm during this hellish weather.  Peace out.


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Unanswered Prayers

So, how did 2018 go?

Work-wise, I am very much in a rut, and that’s fine. We all remember six or seven years ago when my teaching career was smoldering and on the edge of going up in smoke, so I will take boring any day of the week.

Writing-wise, this has been a year of learning. In late November of 2017, Loose Id accepted Texas Charm. Well, we all know how that ended. Loose Id did a great job of closing down, but emotionally it really knocked me on my ass. And then, the editor I had worked with all along said, “Let me know if you’d like me to slot you in for Texas Charm.” I got through a death in the family and the blow from having my publisher close, and when I contacted the same editor about starting edits, she then didn’t have room for me and wouldn’t even give me her new email. I was crushed (and I’m still bitter). I hate sharing my work with editors, and I think it took me a lot longer to get back on the writing horse because I was nervous about working with someone new.

But as often happens, what looked like an obstacle ended up being a stepstool that raised me to a new level.

I figured out how to use Draft2Digital, and I have most of my backlist up. It’s turning out a low but steady income. I’m actually getting a more stable income from Patreon. Not only does it take the pressure off to publish, but I’ve survived a car accident that totaled my old but mechanically solid car and a leaking roof (with an illegal three layers of shingles). My savings is not where it was (or anywhere near), but I’m not drowning in credit card interest payments because I have that steady stream. More importantly, it encourages me to write, write, write. So, what are the stats?

2 Books published (Claimings 4, and Aberrant Magic 6)

1 Book complete but not yet published (Saddled, submitted over at MLR)

6 Current WIPs

  • Hercules in Submission (dark, dark rewriting of mythology. I only update this when I want to fictionally torture someone.)
  • Earth Fathers are Weird (tentacles and aliens and mpreg oh my)
  • Aberrant Magic 7 (We’re getting back to Kavon and Darren and evil ifrit)
  • Kensho and other short tales and tails from the Claimings universe (Claimings short stories that only occasionally feature Liam and Ondry)
  • The Witness Wore a Puppy Tail: A huge reworking of my puppy!play fanfic The Witness
  • Royal Indiscretion (on hiatus, but a royal black sheep meets a wealthy American)

472,230 Words

Yep, you read that right. I have written almost a half million words. Loosing Loose Id and getting pushed into Patreon has been a great blessing. I may have kicked and screamed about losing my publisher, but the universe knew I would be alright. It also probably knew life was going to financially kick my ass and that I needed the extra boost. I am forever grateful to the universe, or Garth Brooks loves to sing, “Sometimes I thank God for unanswered prayers.”


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An Update and a Story Rec

Another month gone and now NaNoWriMo is staring me in the eye. So, it’s been a big month. Claimings 4 came out, and so far, it is selling almost as well as the first Claimings book. Fingers crossed that those sales hold. A lot of people are asking about more books. I will do more stories… I am already working on a series of stories with Liam’s brother and other side characters. I would like to do some short stories from Liam and Ondry raising their own eggling. However, I don’t think there is another full book focused on Liam/Ondry. That’s not to say that they won’t show up in other books, but they’re happy being an old married couple.

If I write another book in this universe it’s going to be Maya: a non-romantic love affair between a girl, a boy, a semi-parasitic alien and an insane AI. That’s set in the same universe, but Maya is a ship-rat who grew up trying to avoid soldiers from both sides of Liam’s war. Living in the middle of the war zone has given her a much different point of view, and running into a semi-parasitic alien changes everything. This would be an asexual romance… if that makes any sense. But that’s something for me to poke at later.

alien tentaclesRight now I’m finishing up Saddled (pony play, dueling dominants, and major drama, oh my). I’m working on the closing chapters and then I’ll send it over to MLR Press. I’m also full speed ahead on Earth Fathers are Weird. Max has just figured out that he’s knocked up, and he’s less than pleased. I’m excited about the big twist that’s coming. If you think Ondry is alien, he can’t hold a candle to Rick (no, that’s not his real name). Maybe the universe thinks Earth fathers are weird, but Max is pretty sure these tentacle monsters are nuts.

I am also rereading the first three Aberrant Magic books as I start to plan my return. All the pieces are in place. The various powers (both guide magic and Earth magic) are in place and our guys are ready to deal with the first of the returning ifrit. A big one is coming through first, and it’s going to be one hell of a fight. And this battle could change the nature of reality. I’m thinking of doing this for NaNoWriMo (assuming I can keep myself away from Rough Trade long enough to write my own). I’ve gotten a bit lazy about meandering around in different universes, and I’m not finishing anything quickly. I would like to really change that with Aberrant Magic 7: Durance.
So right now I’m all about the alien life forms (both the interdimensional and intergalactic sorts). And I found a short story over at Tor that you should totally read. It’s a full novel shoved into a single suitcase of a short story, and I want to unpack every idea. If this author turned this into a book, I would gobble it up because these are alien aliens. And the humans are depressingly realistic.

The Kite Maker: https://www.tor.com/2018/08/29/the-kite-maker-brenda-peynado/

What are you still doing here? Go. Read.


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Babylon 5 and Me

A few weeks back I had a car accident. I got hit hard enough to total my car, and it turned out my headache was more than a simple headache and whiplash. I got a concussion. I didn’t even know you could concuss yourself just by wacking your brain against the inside of your skull. Luckily, it was minor, but it completely got in the way of my writing. I had hoped to get Claimings 4 done for early September. Instead we are at the end of the month and I just now sent the second set of edits to Sue.

But it’s coming.

I also haven’t finished Saddled or The Witness Wore a Puppy Tail, which I had intended to finish this month so I could clear the path For Maya: A Platonic Love Story With a Girl, a Boy, an Insane AI and a Semi-Parasitic Alien and Earth Fathers are Weird. I’m trying to not get stressed about the blown schedule. It’s not like it would help.

On the good side, the concussion means insurance gave me six thousand for pain and suffering. A lawyer told me I wouldn’t get much more because it was such a minor concussion and I didn’t miss work. Bringing my writing and the slowdown into the equation could have splashed my side job into real life, and considering I work in a small town, that would not be good. So I took it. I then had to spend it on a new (to me) car downpayment.

Still not worth it.

But I am feeling better. I am starting to work out again, and I’m writing. I hope that October will be the month where I truly get back to full speed.

So this month I have been watching (or listening to) more television than ever. I caught up on Supernatural (which I enjoyed the hell out of. They are back in the groove and I loved the Scoobie Doo episode. I’m shocked to say that, but I did. I needed shows I could listen to more than watch, so I went back to Babylon 5 (by the same guy as Sens8), and I have rediscovered my love for the first four seasons (minus the Garibaldi, season 4 crap).

I had forgotten how truly great the show was, and I have fallen in love (again) with Delenn. We need more women like her.

She’s strong and religious without being relegated to only showing spiritual strength. She can be a hardass and pick up a staff to fight off attackers. When a species went into voluntary quarantine, she chose to go into the contaminated section with them to offer comfort, and she openly sobbed when these religious fanatics allowed themselves to die foolishly rather than admit that a disease (that was a rather unsubtle allegory for AIDS) might kill the moral as well as the sinful and that prayer wouldn’t stop it.

She speaks softly and advises others to seek peace, but when the evil Earth Alliance threatens her people, she has one of my favorite exchanges of the series:

Delenn: [Delenn’s fleet arrives after Earth Alliance attacks B5] This is Ambassador Delenn of the Minbari. Babylon 5 is under our protection. Withdraw or be destroyed!

Earth Force Officer: Negative! We have authority here. Do not force us to engage your ship.

Delenn: Why not? Only one human captain has ever survived battle with a Minbari Fleet. He is behind me. You are in front of me. If you value your lives, be somewhere else!

When she delivered that line, she was *terrifying.* She cried over her city being in flames during the Mimbari civil war, yet she didn’t allow that to stop her from ending that same war. She is soft and caring and strong and scary and flawed. She is so wonderfully flawed. She is so insightful about the enemy and those who are weak or evil or scared. But when she trusts someone, she is so incredibly naive. The only assassination attempt that came close to succeeding was orchestrated by people supposedly on her own side because she put such unconditional trust in them, and it wasn’t warranted.

I am tired of strong female being synonymous with emotionless female or emotionally damaged female or ninja. I love Zoe in Firefly because there was the same ability to kick ass one second, and have real emotions the next.

That’s the reason I had so much trouble with Ziva in NCIS. She played at being the sex kitten, but she rarely if ever had actual emotional development. And when she did, the writers used every opportunity to show her as emotionally damaged. Ivanava from Babylon 5 also fits into that category of emotional stunted women, and I find myself not as impressed by her. Ironically, I think I fell into the same bad habit with Paige Silver in Bitter Blood.

But Delenn is in there with Diane Prince and Zoe. She is so very noble and amazing and still real. I had forgotten how good Delenn was, but I remember now. I am so crushing on her.

I am also impressed by the diversity in the show. When they give lists of captains, there are men and women—European names and Asian names and African names. The extras are from every ethnicity. The show does not do as well at having minorities in leading roles, but I have to wonder how much of that was the production company.

I was also less than impressed that the only regular cast who was black got the drug addiction plotline, but at least it was in-character (I’m giving you the side-eye Stargate Atlantis). Franklin was the head doctor on a station in the middle of a war, so it makes sense he got addicted to stimulants as he tried to save everyone—and it fit into his character arc of being a perfectionist with a difficult relationship with a demanding military father.

Overall, I spent many a pleasant hour listening to a very enjoyable story, and if you haven’t seen it, I do recommend it. Just cut them some slack on the whole season five thing because they had been told they were going to be cancelled after season four, so they tied a few things up quickly, leaving the last season a little less well-plotted.

Still, I am looking forward to feeling better, watching/listening to less television and spending more time in my universes. I miss spending more time with my characters.


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Favorite Series in the Pipeline

Claimings 4 has officially entered production. I have the first set of edits back from Sue (looking good) and I was looking forward to working on it, only I had the audacity to put my car in the path of an idiot who uses his accelerator without checking out his front windshield first. Long story short—I got t-boned. I’m aching, but I don’t have anything more serious that whiplash, pulled muscled and a totaled car. Shoot me. Shoot me now. Dealing with insurance people is worse than the whiplash.

 

But Claimings is slowly moving forward. To celebrate that fact, you can for a limited time get Rownt inspired goodies. Have you ever wanted a custom t-shirt, mug or tote bag to celebrate your love of all things Rownt? You’re in luck. Until next Wednesday Sept 5th (US time), you can order Rownt merchandise at Teespring (https://teespring.com/rownt-wisdom#pid=2&cid=2122&sid=front). After Wednesday, the goodies go bye bye.  See the pretty graphic…

meat

 

Aberrant Magic 6 just broke even (and the crowd goes wild). This means I can promise you an Aberrant Magic 7. The Assistant Director’s plan to bring in new people and create two teams is going to leave grumpy Kavon even grumpier, but with the honeymoon over, Darren is going to have to decide how he wants to live the rest of his life and how much he’s going to let Kavon get away with. Meanwhile, the first of the returning evil ifrit is sniffing around the spirit plane.

 

September should be a month of endings—reaching the end of Saddled and The Witness Wore a Puppy Tail. With the boards clear, I want to start Earth Fathers are Weird, Maya: a non-romantic love story between a girl, a boy, an insane AI and a semi-parasitic species, and Aberrant Magic 6. That middle one is set in the Claimings verse, but Maya has always lived in the colonies. So she sees the war a little differently, not that Liam ever paid attention to or understood the politics of the war he fought in.

 

And finally, who would like a little snippet. I mentioned that the first of the evil ifrit has returned. Let’s see if anyone knows mythology well enough to recognize this bad boy.

 

Target Practice

Zach sighted down his weapon and took a deep breath. His range scores were fine, but he would never be one of the guys who could brag about them. Art said it didn’t matter since most of the hotshot with perfect scores also got far too excitable in the field. Art hated the type of cop that got so excited by an incident that they stood around watching the drama. It offended Art. Zach took his first shot, and Pochi appeared halfway down the shooting alley, hovering a few feet off the ground and whirling madly in search of an enemy. Zach’s second shot went wild.

Fuck.

Zach glared at his annoying guide, but Pochi didn’t seem to care much. He darted around the space, investigating every corner. Zach and Art were the only ones shooting, for which Zach was infinitely grateful. While it wouldn’t hurt Pochi if a bullet went through him, Zach hated the idea.

Art leaned back so he could see around the barrier that separated the shooting lanes and pulled off his ear protection. “What’s he doing?” Art asked once Zach had removed his own.

Zach shrugged.

Art shook his head. “It’ll do you good to practice shooting with a distraction, only try to hit the target.”

“Fuck you,” Zach suggested.

Art smirked, and while he didn’t make an indecent comment, he thought it so loudly that Zach could practically read the thought bubble over his head. Then Art went back to his lane.

Zach put the ear protection back on and breathed out while doing his best to broadcast the thought “practice, practice, practice.” Maybe Pochi would understand the concept, maybe not. Pochi darted toward Zach and hovered an inch in front of his nose.

“Dude. Personal space,” Zach said. But since Pochi seemed interested, Zach did his best to project the idea of practice. Shoot now. Shoot better later.

Pochi stilled. Even though he had stopped moving his wings, he still floated in the air right in front of Zach. Zach’s vision grayed out, and a shadowy figure appeared superimposed over the shooting range. It was a bird—a huge one. But as the details became clearer, Zach realized it wasn’t a real one. It had huge wings and a thick neck, but the back of the body appeared almost mammalian. It was as if a scrawny donkey butt had been grafted onto a deformed bird and then someone replaced the back legs with two enormous vulture legs with too many joints. The front legs were short with three short fingers and a longer thumb. It was almost like a lion’s paw and a T-rex leg got blended.

The figure slowly became more solid, the feathers turning tawny yellow around the head and then slowly turning darker toward the backend of the animal where it had a short, black fanlike tail.

“What the…”

The bird turned to look at Zach. Huge teardrop shaped black eyes were set under upright ears that looked like a lion’s. The most disturbing part was the mouth. It had a beak of sorts, but it looked like cadaver teeth sticking out from a skull. It took Zach a second to realize that the creature had some sort of face armor around those razor-sharp teeth. With a scream, Bennu appeared in all his six feet of glory, but he was a third the size of this new bird. For a second, Bennu hovered and projected uncertainty, and then the new creature dissolved into smoke and Zach saw the target at the end of his shooting alley again.

Past. Past. Past. The belief that the huge bird was part of the past slammed into Zach. Given that the bird mutant was clearly gone now, the memory of it still left Pochi aggressive. After a second, Bennu vanished, and Zach wondered if Darren Oberton’s guide had actually been in El Paso at all or if Pochi was remembering some fight between the two ifrit.

Determination. Practice. Practice. Kill. Pochi projected the emotions with all the subtlety of a sledgehammer before he streaked toward the practice target.

“Weird bird,” Zach muttered before he breathed out slowly and took aim. Pochi whistled sharply and then trilled as he touched the center of the target and then flew to the left. He repeated the gesture several times.

Frowning, Zach eased his weapon to the left a tiny fraction. Pochi’s chirping trill just sounded happier. Zach squeezed the trigger and the target quivered. Zach couldn’t see where his shot landed from his spot on the firing line, but Pochi hovered near the center and just a little to the right. Zach took aim again, intentionally aiming high this time.

Pochi’s whistle was nearly deafening, and Zach lowered his sights. Pochi hovered to the right and below the target. Zach adjusted his aim.

At the end of the shooting session, Zach and Art both took their targets to the sergeant in charge of the range. When Zach laid his out for scoring, Art’s eyebrows rose.

The sergeant took one look at the tightly clustered shots and whistled admiringly.

“That’s a good score,” Art said.

“Better than usual, you mean,” Zach said.

Art grunted. No doubt he wanted to ask what had happened, but in the two weeks since Zach had inherited a guide, he had discovered Art was reluctant to discuss him or anything related to him. Sometimes Art needed a little time to wrap his head around change. Zach could give him a little space to adjust, and in the meantime, Zach looked forward to much better scores at the shooting range.

 


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Two Series… Two New Books.

Oh man, a month has flown by. It’s the end of the month again, and I’m going to tell Claimings fans to look for an announcement near the end. First, Aberrant Magic 6: Texas Charm is on the sidelines and ready to go. Book six is edited, the cover is done, I’m lining up reviewers, and we are a go for August 20th.

Detective Zach Johnson never resented his lack of magic, although he hated that as a mundane he had no power to stop a corrupt Talent council from stealing the resources of the magical community. However, the return of the ancient ifrit guides led a blood-thirsty hummingbird to choose him as a partner. Now he can be a true equal to his shaman lover, Art Lammas, and the two of them can take on the council and the entire community if need be.

Art Lammas loves Zach’s enthusiasm and sense of justice, but the Talent community is much more complex than he assumes. Not only does El Paso struggle under the corrupt leadership of the council, but it stands at a place where three different traditions clash: the Vatican-trained shamans from Mexico, the Egyptian-trained shamans of mainstream America, and the Native Peoples traditions, which are far more complex than Art can possibly describe. Art would far rather focus on solving their cases. More than that, Art fears that Talent might be the one force in the universe that could drive a wedge between them. Art would happily burn all the magic out of the world before allowing that to happen, but he may not have that choice.

This one is heavier on the magic, and it reveals some important information about book five. This is also the last piece I needed to put in place before I was ready for the first of the big bad ifrit to come through. Anzu waits in the wings, but our boys can’t win with having some new pieces on the board. Angel, Darren, and Zach are new pieces, and a few people who haven’t appeared for a while are ready to come back on the main stage.

So, all I need now are readers.

If book six breaks even in that golden thirty days on Amazon, I will definitely write Aberrant Magic 7: Defalcation. If book six doesn’t, I may need to cut the series loose. After 30 days, the Amazon algorithm will make it impossible to get the book in front of anyone searching for a certain type of book. People will then need to know the exact title and be looking for it specifically. So, what does break even mean in real terms? Well, let’s assume I don’t mind starving and get literally nothing for the HOURS of work. Then I need $150 for the cover and $740 for the editing. So the book has thirty days to make $890 or I lose money. If it does well and earns $2000 that first month, then I will definitely write the next book and call myself fortunate to make to make roughly $1.25-$2.00 per hour for my work on the title. Honestly, that’s worth it for me. I love telling stories. But I do hate editing, so I need some money for my time to compensate me for the misery of catching grammar and continuity errors.

What’s next up? CLAIMINGS! A Patron on Patreon offered to help defray these costs. They are helping with the editing costs and another Patreon angel is doing a cover. So that means I don’t have the same financial obligations. It does still mean I am spending hours in my least favorite part of writing—editing. But Patreon angels are also jumping in with that, helping me find grammar errors, so I just need to go through and correlate suggestions from different people into one master document before I send it off to the editor.

So the long and short of it is that Claimings 4 will be coming out as an ebook. My goal would be to hit by September 30, but I’m running tight and may not be able to hit that goal. We’ll see. I need to get my ass in gear and get to doing my editing work so I can get it sent off to my editing. This week I’ve been way more into catching up on Supernatural and doing some hours for recertification. Funny enough, I can’t afford to lose my day job.

But I will say this—Patreon is making it possible for me to continue to tell stories, even if I’ll never be able to make a full-time living out of it.


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Writing Update

So, this is my first of the month update.  Royal Indiscretion (contemporary m/m) is being a pain.  I have some good dialogue written for when two protagonists actually start talking to each other, but right now it’s hard to force them into the same space without making them out of character.  I often introduce a new character when a plot gets stuck, but adding in the sober sponsor Nick didn’t really help.  Someone may get hurt soon.  That often forces people to talk.

The Witness (mystery/kink m/m) is on a short break because I have too many plots going at once, and I needed to choose Royal Indiscretion or The Witness Wears a Puppy Tail. Doing both was hurting my head.  Too many voices up there at once, ya know.

Saddled (contemporary kink m/m) is going hot and strong.  While this started as pretty strictly pony kink, it is quickly developing one hell of a plot. When I’m done, I think I may send this over to MLR Press.  However, I have to get John out of danger, navigate the relationship problems between John and Clive, save momma, deal with a drug addicted brother, and figure out how to get two stubborn alpha males to admit they’re in love.  Yeah, I got a ways to go.

But as usual, my muse is always tempting me with new thoughts.  Once Saddled is done, I’m thinking about two options.

Earth Fathers are Weird focuses on a pilot who took to the skies to fight off an alien invasion—or what Earth thought was an invasion. It was actually the equivalent of a high speed chase that spilled into undeveloped space.  When his jet was shot, the alien authorities scooped him up to prevent his death. And when the chase was over, he was dropped at a very nice interplanetary port.  The computers can mostly translate English. Sort of.  And he can interface enough to see how much a ship would charge him to take him back to Earth.  If he took a job helping refine the translator function, he could afford a ticket in roughly three hundred years.  A job entry for what he thought was a nanny could get him home in seven to eight years.  He might have mistranslated “nanny,” though.

alien tentacles

Loyalty Betrayed is about a covert ops specialist. He’s run his own team for nearly a decade and had an on-again, off-again relationship with the team interrogator/psychologist.  However, he is beginning to fear that their team is being misused in the worst ways.  When he gets a warning to get out, he runs without looking back.  However, he’s not willing to leave his lover. And even if he did, the man knows him well enough to act as birddog for the government agents trailing him.  So our hero makes a horrible choice out of a desire to avoid an even worse one.  When his friend comes for him, he knows the government will send killers to finish the job. So he sets a trap, grabs his lover, and decides to use what he learned about psychology and brainwashing to tie his lover’s allegiance to him.  Only then will he feel safe to unravel the conspiracies working to turn his government against him.

Condition

So, that’s me. Oh, and I am an amateur with book covers, so if anyone has feedback (especially anyone with the actual experience or expertise I lack), I would greatly appreciate it.

 

Does anyone want a free short?

Introduction to Xenolinguistics

Debbie studied the sea of fresh-faced babies. For a time, she panned the vid so her office screen would show her the entire class. She could already divide them into rough camps based on their seat choices and expressions. Proxemics, oculesics, and kinesics weren’t covered until much later in their training, so right now they exerted absolutely no control over how their bodies were shouting without even using words.

The three young men and two women in front were either serious students or wanted to present themselves as serious students. They were busy with their tablets, and Debbie’s monitoring program reported that all five were reviewing the class text. A small group near the window chatted away, their bodies twitching with sexual interest. Nothing wrong with that as long as they focused on the work once Debbie started the lecture.

A range of less confident students filled the middle section. Debbie groaned when she saw that two of them were reading Lost Words: The Unauthorized Biography of Lieutenant Liam Munson. Shit. That piece sensationalized Munson’s life—made him out to be some poor wounded soul abandoned by the system and abused by the authorities in his life.

Debbie had no idea how anyone could fall for the crap the modern press put out. Munson was a linguistic genius who had made the rare leap out of his culturally enforced point of view into the Rownt perspective. Leaps in translation could only be made after someone had navigated that chasm, and to reduce Munson’s contribution to luck and some lost puppy personality was incredibly offensive. The man had studied Rownt language before taking the post on Prarownt and had then spent years working to collect language samples and form relationships with natives.

His willingness to immerse himself in a new culture opened opportunities for the entire human race. The popular media might be fascinated with the Rownt because of a few vid shots of a female visiting a hospital and the young male clearly trying to protect Lieutenant Munson in a crowd. However, those involved in Command were more interested in the technology and raw materials the Rownt could provide. They were certainly better potential allies than the Anla. And Munson made all that possible.

She made a note of which students were reading that trash in her classroom. They would have to show much more dedication to linguistics if they wanted to follow in Munson’s footsteps. Assuming that an alien species would feel sorry for you and take you home was stupid. And Debbie did not like wasting her time on stupid students.

She turned her monitor off and sighed. Time for one more semester of teaching people who could never hope to achieve the genius of Colonel Diallo or Lieutenant Munson. Sometimes she regretted ever becoming a teacher. However, someone had to set the next generation of linguists on the path, and that was her sacrifice.