Lyn Gala

One writer's journal through one version of reality


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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.

 

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A long-overdue update (and a story)

I haven’t been here forever, and I’m going to try hard to change that.  Part one in today’s update is a general state of where I am writing wise.  Part two is a bonus snippet from one of my universes.

Loose Id closed, and they were my primary publisher, which really threw me. I now have my backlist all up.  Yea me!  Considering how I feel about 1) change and 2) new computer systems, I’m pretty damn proud of myself.  The sales have been sluggish, but steady.  Aberrant Magic 6 is trucking along.  I’ve gone from 74K words down to 66K, so it’s much tighter.  I did too much “show” on the casework, so I’m trying to “tell” on those bits so the book focuses more on the relationship.  I also switched POV on a couple of chapters so the readers could see into the motives of grumpy Art.  He has a cat as a spirit guide for a reason.  He likes his butt scratched, but if you do it too long or wrong, he’s pretty quick to make a quick escape. That’s his personality, but I’m focusing more on showing why he’s that way.

When I’m done with trimming and editing Aberrant Magic, I have two thoughts.  One, I might go back to Royal Indiscretion, the story of an ex-addict youngest son of a duke and the closeted bisexual football player.  I think the guys could have some nice enemies to lovers moments.  I’m also thinking about Carina Press.  They have a call out for continuing series that combine romance with suspense or adventure.

I always wanted to do a second “season” of Aberrant Magic.  Kavon and Coretta would have two separate teams, although they would work closely together.  Coretta would bring in a new FBI agent with shamanic powers.  Joe has an octopus guide and he is as clever and secretive as that would imply.  What he doesn’t tell anyone is that he’s Roma and his mother has ties to the Earth magics that Native shamans use. Kavon brings in a new magic user. Milton is a cross between Blair Sandburg and Rodney McKay.  He’s brilliant, flat out. He’s actually invented a new form of magic by combining crystals and computers into an interface that allows so much more control than a normal crystal user, but he refuses to believe in magic as anything other than an alternate power source.  He’s hyper and ADHD enough that Kavon considers murdering him, and he generally rubs people wrong with his verbal diarrhea and ability to spout trivia.

Our team would still be there in the background, but with Joe and Milton taking lead, maybe I could convince Carina to pick it up as a new series. I’m still thinking about that one.

 

So, that’s me.  Now on with the story.  This time it’s Ondry’s mother having a mom/son moment from long before the first Claimings book.

 

“Asdria’s Fears”

Asdria flared her nostrils as she crouched down next to Ondry. He was such a willful boy that sometimes Asdria despaired for him. “You have gathered healthy fruit.” She would have liked to comment on her son’s diligence, but he had already passed the age when he would accept such compliments.

Ondry kept sorting the small, firm gasha berries.

“He who would trade must begin by trading in words,” Asdria rebuked him.

That got Ondry’s attention. He sat back, his short legs crossed in front of him. “I know you won’t trade.”

Asdria tried to calm herself before she could pale and give her headstrong son evidence of her disapproval. She was proud that he had taken to trading so well, but he was young enough that he should eat the fruit, or at the very least have competitions with other children to see how far they could throw it. However the drought that had led to her own eggs drying up had denied most of the town of a generation of children.

She considered moving to another town with more children, but she was loath to leave the Grandmothers she knew.

“How have you reached that conclusion?” she asked her child.

“You said I was too young. You disapprove of me trading; therefore, you will not buy from me.”

Asdria couldn’t fault his logic. He had so many centuries ahead of him—years of standing on his own and proving his own worth. During those long years before a woman left an eggling on his door, he would regret rushing toward adult responsibility. A Rownt would have centuries without touch, and those who had too little of it in childhood would suffer for it later. She had mourned each hatching when no children emerged from her eggs. She felt such a yearning to hold a youngling, and yet she had to satisfy herself with pulling the tail of some ambitious man or cheating an arrogant woman out of her profits. Those had been a poor substitutes.

And now Ondry was rushing into that same isolation. Since Ondry insisted he was an adult, she settled into the dust and tried to construct her thoughts as he might for an adult. “If you trade, you are growing up more quickly than most Rownt.” She tried to keep her statement factual so he would have no reason to show his stubborn streak.

“You would have me live forever with egg on my backside,” Ondry said with a childlike hiss.

“I would have you learn to steal meat from my table, but perhaps you can wait until you can see over the edge of the table.” Asdria knew she had made a mistake with that exaggeration the second she said it. Ondry paled. Normally he would rumble in pleasure when she treated him like an adult and insulted him, but clearly that permission did not extend to insults about his height.

He stood and walked away, his tail twitching in aggravation. Asdria shut her nostrils. Her son was quickly becoming more aggravating than a dozen kawt haunting her favorite trading trails. She failed to find the words to explain the truth he would not see. He rushed toward adulthood, and she feared he would suffer later. He would spend years unable to touch or hold another, and Asdria would be helpless to assist him then. But she could not find the words to help him now.

She sometimes feared she had some great flaw in her parenting that prevented her from clearly communicating logic.

But the gods would have their way, and she could not prevent Ondry from choosing his own paths in life. Hopefully he would prove profitable in trading. Maybe then he would have a youngling left on his door before he turned four hundred.

And then she would enjoy watching him try to explain logic to a child who was too willful to listen.

 


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Desert World

Desert World Two is now out!

http://www.dsppublications.com/books/desert-world-rebirth-by-lyn-gala-79-b

www.amazon.com/Desert-World-Rebirth-Lyn-Gala-ebook/dp/B00YW3GQ5Y/

I didn’t make much fuss when Desert World One came out

http://www.dsppublications.com/books/desert-world-allegiances-by-lyn-gala-66-b

http://www.amazon.com/Desert-World-Allegiances-Lyn-Gala-ebook/dp/B00V7M1MVQ/

because the first book is really background on the characters. My reading background is sci fi (yeah, no one is shocked there), so I don’t have a problem with a book that slowly introduces the world and the people in it. Livre is a colony planet on the edge, and homosexuality is considered the norm for young people. Due to a war in the larger universe, this half-terraformed planet has been left to slowly die, but these colonists are too tough to give up that easily.

Shan is the local priest, a man with more skill with a set of tools than with the Bible. However, he has a good heart that struggles under survivor’s guilt. He was never sexually abused, but he came from a home with abuse, and now he feels like he has to save the universe because he never could save his brother.

Temar is young enough that he has not found his voice. This nineteen year old is smarter than your average bear, but he expects that the world is fair and he lets others take the lead because older means better able to deal… right?? Yeah. That’s a problem.

These two do have problems.

In the first book, you see what happens when they give in to their problems. There’s no romance. There is a lot of soul searching and a single kiss. But then in book two, both men are strong enough to start facing their personal demons… just in time for disasters in the rest of the universe land on Livre’s doorstep.

These are science fiction… but science fiction done in a gay friendly world with two gay men.

I really hope people will give these a chance… but remember, it takes two books to make up the story. If you’re a romance fan who tolerates science fiction, I would say skip book one and go to two. If you then want to go back and get a better sense of the world and the growth these men went through individually, you can go back and read book one.


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Third Tier Writer

I’m not a first tier writer. Nope. I never actually expected to be counted among the ranks of people who make millions off their titles. That’s not the kind of book I write, and that’s fine.

At one point, I wanted to be a second tier writer. I dreamed of being able to make a comfortable $40,000 per year and quit the day job. I hoped and read everything on commercial success and marketing. I tried to write what was popular. I sucked at it.

Worse, every time one of my titles performed well below expectations, I felt like a failure. My femdom books—Drift and Blowback—are two of my favorites. However, my profits haven’t even hit the hundreds. Claiming was a home run, but Assimilation is a slow burn and I don’t know that it will every catch up with its older sibling.

But now I’m comfortable ensconced in the third tier. I can work on a third Claimings book without dwelling on the failure of Assimilation, which at one point had more free downloads than sold copies.

What is the third tier? I make a nice sum of money. It’s not enough to pay the rent, but I can pay the electric bill and car payment (most months). I can put some aside for when the hot water heater goes out. I can splurge a little. I will never be successful enough to quit the day job, but that’s okay.

And I’m not complaining. I still have stacks of $2 and $5 checks and feel copies of magazines that are mute evidence of my days as a fourth tier author making pitiful amounts of money. I rose above that. I have just come to realize I’m probably not going to rise more.

Instead of making financial goals, I use my writing to work out my feelings. When I watched one of my kids go through hell with his unsupportive family, I wrote Two Steps Back. When I was being goofy with a friend, I started the bunny for Mountain Prey. A friend and I were talking about race!fail and the fear of characters of color when I wrote Steampunk Pirate to prove to myself that I could write a culturally and historically black man without turning him into a white man with black skin.

And now I signed a contract for one of my darkest titles yet. Without a Net is a futuristic police procedural. It’s not scifi, but it’s set a few decades in the future when BDSM control clubs are mainstream and Shade clubs are for edge play and more dangerous folk.

I know that some people are going to get frustrated because I won’t settle down in a genre and stay so that I become an autobuy. They have to eye each new title from me with suspicion because they can’t trust me to write a certain kind of book.

That’s fine.

I’m not an autobuy type of author. But when my mother nearly died a year and a half ago, I wrote some dark damn fanfic. I had Todd the Wraith win and brainwash Rodney and John into becoming bad guys. Boy were they good at being bad. I had Crowley capture Dean and turn him into a bitch for a hell hound (who was sentient so it wasn’t quite as squicky as you think, although it is close).

This time my mother got cancer less than a year out of the hospital after a series of strokes that nearly killed her. So I wrote the first two 10K stories of a Hercules series where his 12 labors basically become a long series of abuse and dub-con. Yeah, I don’t know that those stories will every go past my flist.

And I wrote Without a Net. Does Ollie come through in the end? Hey, this is me. I do get to the happy or at least happier ending. However, this is dark and abusive and grim. Ollie is a tough sub, a cop who can endure anything if he has that glimmer of hope that he might get to shoot someone in the head on the other side. However, some readers are going to hate how much he goes through before he gets a chance.

I’m not reinventing myself. I’m not struggling to find my “voice.” I’m not even writing for the readers. This is me. Since I am a third tier author freed from the dreams of being able to make a living at this, I have to find other goals.

And my first one is to please myself and work my own emotional demons out in a place where I can do it without damaging my real life. Now that my mother is in remission, don’t expect another dark book from me. However, don’t assume that means that my next book will give you what you want. My writing has to be about me. That’s the beauty of being on the third tier.


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Disabled and in Love

Does a disability make a romantic hero less desirable?

I’ve been thinking about this lately. I had a fanfic story, Green Eyed Hope, where Blair loves Jim, but Jim is simply not gay. Trust me, when you are gay, this is an entirely too common situation. Anyway, Blair is disabled in a car accident, learns to trust that Jim loves him like a brother and moves on to find his romantic partner in another disillusioned soldier.

One of the most common comments I get on this story is that people are sorry Blair never recovered more. He gets to the point where he can use a cane for short distances, but he’ll never have the strength back in the legs to easily walk.

It reminded me of a big kerfuffle in fandom where someone else had written a wheelchair using Blair, but he was magically healed in the end by a shamanic ritual. Someone else fanficed the fanfic to rewrite the ending so that Blair stayed disabled and Jim loved him just as much.

I can see why someone would want that ending. If a person is disabled, where are the romance stories for him or her?

WilliamIn my newest story, William is never identified as disabled, and I doubt his parents ever got a diagnosis, but he is obsessed with his hobby (American history), has a job where he can handle numbers because he cannot handle relationships with people, he pisses off every boyfriend he ever had, and his social skills were so abominable that his very loving parents sent him to a boys boarding school in the hopes that he could learn to be more social.

I don’t think it’s hard to see the disability, but it makes my heart hurt a little when the comments come in with… Dallin can do better than him… William is just too antisocial… I wish Dallin would have walked out and stayed gone.

Even people who admit that William has a heart of gold are uncomfortable with him in a relationship, and then there are the comments about how William gets too involved too fast. Oh boy. Um… yeah, that’s part of the disability. Lots of Asperger’s kids have to be explicitly taught to not stalk because once someone expresses an interest, they often don’t know where that line between appropriate and inappropriate lies.

Which is why those on the autistic spectrum are so much more likely to abstain from sex. It’s just hard to find a partner.

Now, I’m not saying that William would be easy to love, and even at the end, Dallin has to move his stuff into another closet because William can’t handle having his stuff disturbed, and vacation consists of visiting historical sites that William’s interested in.

But on the other hand, William completely and totally loves Dallin and will do anything for him. There is an upside to having an autistic spectrum lover.

So, does the disability make William less appropriate as the subject of a romance novel? Should Blair be “healed” at the end in order to have his happily ever after? Can you have a happily ever after if one of the main characters is suffering and continues to suffer a serious physical or mental difficulty?


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It shouldn’t work that way

Normally I’m not a great fan of het romance. Sure, the gender issues drive me nuts and the “little woman” needing rescue is a trope that should be relegated to the trash heap until it’s new and fresh again… which would be in two or three thousand years.

But as I pondered the last het romance that I read and really liked (C.L. Wilson’s The Winter King), I think I realized why I like that couple so much.

Oddly, it’s not the lack of weird gender insults. Yes, they’re equals. Wynter saves his little woman from monsters, but Kham rescues him from an army and a demon trying to take over his soul, so they’re even.

More than that, though, they have every reason to leave each other. Wynter has made things politically uncomfortable in his own castle by bringing home the headstrong Kham. If he let her leave, he would let a few of those raised eyebrows go back to their normal shape.

And Kham’s brother and nurse come for her. She could walk away. More than that, she could walk away and save her country by being part of the force to conquer Wynter instead of chasing any of this alliance stuff.

Logic said they should split apart.

I think that’s why I like them—because something is holding them together despite that, and that’s where I see all the smudgy fingerprints of love. I could never quite put my finger on why Tom and Da’shay from my own Blowback tripped my trigger so hard, but I think that’s it. They SHOULD break up. They don’t make sense together. So when they insist on holding on despite everything, I can see love winning against the odds.

 

So, do you have couples (het or gay) that you love that when you look at them, they should leave each other, but you know they’ll never, EVER make that decision?


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Kill that Passive Voice

I should be writing my novel, but I either have the stomach flu or Wendy’s did not keep their meat at temperature… who knows? Anyway, I’m surfing Facebook—the time killer and bane of all writers and I came across one more post admonishing writers to avoid passive voice.

Most of these posts include a nice little description of passive voice. It’s when the thing getting acted on is placed up front and the person doing the action is shoved into the back of the sentence or removed altogether. You can spot them because a passive voice sentence picks up a helping verb.

Active voice:

Lyn threw the ball

Passive voice shoving the subject in back:

The ball was thrown by Lyn

Passive voice with subject missing:

The ball was thrown.

 

And here is where most of these posts stop. The author must find and fix passive voice on their own. That’s a little like pointing to a field and saying… “Hey, there’s a bomb somewhere. Go disarm it.” They don’t even explain WHY it’s considered poor writing in English. So, here is some of what I’ve picked up over the years.

 

Passive voice lets writers hide a guilty party.

The money was stolen. The inspection was botched. The suspect was incorrectly arrested.

Yeah… do you see how the guilty people are suddenly ducking out of the blame? In romance writing that’s a particularly serious error because the reader can’t tell who is doing what.

Susan was betrayed.

Um… by whom? The asshole who cheated on her, the girlfriend who was the second person in the bed, or both? Passive voice hides Susan’s true feelings of betrayal.

 

So, how do you fix passive voice? First, you have to find it. Here’s a short passage.

Da’shay was carefully watched as she moved toward Tom with that sway in her hips that meant she was in a mood to play and Tom was considered her favorite playtoy. Tom never had much luck with women, so he wasn’t sure how he had lucked out with Da’shay. However, the chase was included in their game, so he planned a good long run, and he’d keep running until he was caught fair and square. Then she could tie him down and use him as she liked, and she would.

 

You want to suspect any linking verbs.

1. “Da’shay was carefully watched as she moved”

2. “she was in a mood to play”

3. “Tom was considered her favorite playtoy”

4. “he wasn’t sure how he had lucked out”

5. “the chase was included in their game”

6. “he was caught fair and square”

 

Passive voice is a structure where the person doing the action is either moved to the back or removed. Check each sentence by looking for the action (verb) and deciding if the person doing that action is up front where he or she should be.

 

1. The verb is “watched.” Who is doing that? Either Tom is watching her OR there is someone else watching the couple start their gameplay. This is the worst type of passive voice because it makes the actions unclear. If Tom is going the action, “Tom” should be placed at the front of the sentence so the reader knows who is doing the action.

2. The only verb is “was.” The sentence is about Da’shay, and the “she” is up front. This sentence is fine.

3. The verb is “considered.” Who is considering it? Does Tom consider himself a playtoy or does Da’shay think of him as a playtoy? This is written from Tom’s point of view, so this should reflect Tom’s thoughts, but this sentence is so unclear that it almost reads as if we’ve jumped to Da’shay’s point of view.

4. The verb is “was.” The fact that you don’t have another verb in there means this isn’t passive voice.

5. The verb is “included.” Who is including it? “Chase” is the thing that is included, so it can’t be the subject doing the action, but it’s up front. That’s passive voice.

6. The verb is “caught.” Who is doing the catching and who is getting caught? The person doing the action should be up front and the person getting caught should be in back. Wait. The sentence is backward. Tom is getting caught, but his name is up front.

 

So this short passage has four pieces of passive voice. Fixing them isn’t difficult. In each case, you do the same thing. You have to figure out who is doing the action. Then take that person and put their name (or a pronoun that refers to them) up front.

 

1. “Da’shay was carefully watched as she moved”

Who is doing the watching? I don’t want someone else in this scene so it must be Tom. I need to put him up front. I then drop the helping verb out of the sentence: “Tom carefully watched Da’shay as she moved”

 

3. “Tom was considered her favorite playtoy”

This is Tom’s point of view, but the fact is that thinking about yourself as a playtoy is a little creepy. I want Da’shay to look at Tom like he’s a playtoy, so he’s just thinking about her attitude and reveling in how much she likes to “use” him. So I’m going to put Da’shay up front as the person doing the “considering.” That will push “Tom” into the back half of the sentence. “Da’shay considered Tom her favorite playtoy.

 

5. “the chase was included in their game”

This is confusing. Who included chasing as part of their sexual game. I seriously hope it was both of them agreeing on it. But as it’s written, it’s really not clear who set up this dynamic. This is where passive voice makes things truly confusing. Put that both of them include this up front so it’s clear this is a shared kink: “They included the chase as part of their game.”

 

6. “he was caught fair and square”

Clearly Da’shay is doing the catching, so leaving her out of the sentence is just lazy. If she’d doing the action, put her up front. “Da’shay caught him fair and square.

 

 

So, put it all together and write the passage in a more active (rather than passive) voice:

Tom carefully watched Da’shay as she moved toward him with that sway in her hips that meant she was in a mood to play and Da’shay considered Tom her favorite playtoy. Tom never had much luck with women, so he wasn’t sure how he had lucked out with Da’shay. However, they included the chase as part of their game, so he planned a good long run, and he’d keep running until Da’shay caught him fair and square. Then she could tie him down and use him as she liked, and she would.

 

 

So that’s how you kill passive voice (after recognizing it).

 

Look, I honestly don’t know who reads this blog. Is this useful? A waste of time? Should I be off writing my pirate novel?