Lyn Gala

One writer's journal through one version of reality


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Backstory Muses and A Good Trade

GalaClaimingThe Rownt muse strikes again. Actually, the attack of the backstory Rownt muse struck.  Backstory muses are very odd things.

So, I am trying to pull out a list of Rownt words before I work on the sequel to Claimings, Tails, and Other Alien Artifacts.  I reach the point where Liam turns over a Ginal coin, and I remember the backstory I had come up with for that little gesture.  I really like my backstories, although I rarely write them down. I think the success of a story set in an exotic location, science fiction or not, depends on having a backstory.  Nothing can feel random, and if the writer doesn’t know how the world functions, the reader is going to pick up on that randomness.

However, if every bit of backstory lands in the book, it is booooring.  People want a story, not an anthropological description of why someone turns over a coin when they finish a trade or what that coin means.  And actually, in the original book, Liam got it wrong. He thought it meant trading ended. It actually means that the trade ended well.

Back to my point…. I was pulling out these phrases and I hit that Ginal coin, which should have been a two line entry in this “glossary” of Rownt I’m creating. Instead, I kept wanting to return to Ginal, to tell his story.  Considering his story is pure science fiction with no romance at all, I tried to ignore the muse. After all, I’m supposed to be working on Liam and Ondry.  But no…. the damn thing insisted.  It demanded.  It practically reached out from the computer and grabbed me by the throat. That’s actually what the first book did too.

Anyway, here is “A Good Trade,” a short story from the Rownt universe featuring a traditional hero from Rownt history and a man trying to be a good father to one headstrong girl.

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Ginal crouched at the top of the escarpment, watching the Rownt of Lartal move about their lives. From this height, he couldn’t tell the difference between these individuals and those who made similar preparations for war in his own Pratoalta. As a trader, he visited both towns. Women, even grandmothers, from both places had claimed his sperm, and he suspected that more than one egg laid in Lartal came from his genes.

And yet.

And yet these people and his would soon go to war. Hand against hand, spear against spear and ordinance against ordinance.

“We should move the merchandise,” Ang said quietly. The girl was growing into a woman, and Ginal had no doubt she had large eyes and itching fingers when it came to their latest trade. The oils and spice would be worth much. However, the success of the trade was ash in Ginal’s mouth. He stared down at this town that would soon be enemy to him, and he could find joy in nothing, not even from the growing evidence that his daughter had her own schemes to steal some of these profits. His girl was growing up and if she had a less capable guardian, she would have stolen them blind by now. Pride grew in his stomach at the sight of her capable plots and machinations. One day she would be a trader to respect. Unfortunately that day was decades if not centuries away, and history conspired against him and his offspring.

“Father?”

 

removed due to the general assholiness of some people.

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ImageAs I’m struggling to decide which project to work on, I’ve come to a decision. I want some people to dislike my books.

Yep, I’ve decided that I value some of my bad reviews.  I want bellyaching.  I want complaints.

Because there are people out there that I don’t want to like me. If I please them, I seriously need to worry about what I’m doing in my stories.  For example, I keep getting complaints that there’s too much plot in my story. “Where’s the porn?” they ask.

Maybe this is because I am gay, but I get really kind of grossed out by the suggestion that gay people have sex all the time. Vin and Dylan are perfectly happy having lots of sex, at least before the drama with Gary, but that’s because they’re young and horny.  Miguel and Nikolai are older and crabbier. Nikolai is Jewish and still has a gut-deep dislike of “wasting” his seed, and Miguel… well, he’s Miguel. He’s not a very physical man.  And don’t even start with Vinnie and Charleston.  They’re running from a serial rapist. They are not going to take a break to boff in the bathroom.

If I am ever tempted to have characters catch a quickie while running from a murderer, I hope someone takes a pair of scissors to my internet landline.

So all those people who complain that they want more sex… I’m okay with them complaining.  I really am.  Go on and gripe because I don’t want to write a book you like because you seem to be suggesting you would like pure porn. Sex is not the center of my life or the lives of my characters.

I am also unimpressed with complaints that the characters don’t say the “L” word.  I’ve had people claim to love me.  In my life, I’ve had too many tell me that love me, and it never ends well.  It has not ended well multiple times. People who say the words impress me less than people to act in a way that shows a deep and abiding love.

Vin may not proclaim his love, but he puts up with awkward family dinners, invites Dylan into his life and business, and protects Dylan from everyone—including his family. Those are the actions of a man in love. He doesn’t have to say the words.  One day he may, but he knows that acting in a way that is supportive and loving—acting that way consistently and over a long period of time—is far more important than any words whispered in a lover’s ear.

Now, I am not saying I’m perfect.  In hindsight, I wish I could make Long, Lonely Howl disappear.  I tried too hard to break the trope of “mates” and the story is just a little awkward.  I think the huge problems I was having in real life spilled into my writing.

I adore my Desert World books, but I do think the first one needs a stronger edit. I left things in there because I loved them, but I think I loved the world too much and that encouraged me to wallow in it.

I also think Insistent Hunger needed about six more chapters to smooth out that ending, but I was so disappointed in the sales from Blowback (one of my hands-down favorites) that I think I gave up on the story (they were for the same publisher).

So, if you dislike those books for those reasons, I’m likely to cringe and slink off to my corner because I know I screwed those up. Hell, you should see the shit I have on my hard drive because I can write pure and utter crap the likes of which you have never seen… I hope.  Seriously, for your sake I hope you’ve never been forced to read dreck as bad as some of my half-done monsters.

However, if you want to gripe about having a plot or having gay people who occasionally have a day without sex, then I’m going to do a jig.  Woo Hoo!  I didn’t write the book you wanted.  That’s okay, because I wrote the book I wanted.  Well, usually.  Sometimes I just do screw up.  The reviews that point out those mistakes really hurt.

But some bad reviews amuse me.  Go me!  I wrote something that didn’t meet someone’s expectations