Lyn Gala

One writer's journal through one version of reality


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The Claimings sequel… coming soon… hopefully

GalaClaimingWell, the Claimings sequel is done and off to the betas. In two weeks, I will be turning that puppy in to Loose Id.

I’ve titled this one Assimilation, Wars, and Other Human Oddities, but we’ll see what the publisher calls it.

The first novel flew out of me as fast as I could write it, but this new one… oy! If I hadn’t promised fans of the first book that I was working on a sequel, I would have walked away.

So, in the reviews, people complained Liam was too much of a pushover. Wait. He’s a linguist, a soldier, a man who walked away from a long-term abusive relationship (which takes balls). Anyway, I started writing, but I think their complaint got in my head because I did two chapters, and I realized… wait… THIS Liam is a pushover. Where is MY Liam?

This is why I suck at sequels. It’s like the feedback gets in my head. That never happens with my fanfic. My god, my Igigi series (NCIS/SG1/Stargate Atlantis) is over 200,000 words with hundreds if not thousands of comments now. But I never feel pushed by feedback because Tony is Tony. You can’t push my interpretation of Tony.

Alas, Liam needed time to settle in and get his feet under him, so I read the first book again and set the sequel aside. So, a while later (that would be while defined in months, not days), I picked up the sequel again. Okay, so I wanted to show more humans. I would have a human ship crash land and Rownt are not terribly interested in mounting rescue missions so Liam and Ondry would go.

This sometimes happens to me when I’m writing. It’s called a really bad idea. I mean, Rownt are technologically advanced. They have a network of satellites. They have ordered humans to land only at one place, and considering that humans are in their own civil war, no commander would give a shit what some primitive society thought unless he could see the space weapons.

So, how is it that Rownt, who are predatory and who have a finely nuanced understanding of deception, would allow a ship of humans to land without either A) challenging them or B) blowing them out of the sky on the off chance the ship is a weapon?

Yeah, that didn’t work. So I set the story aside for a while. Do you see how I’m using that word “while” again?

So finally I had a good idea. I have a new character who can come down. After all, Liam mentioned that he wasn’t a real linguist by training. Well if things with Rownt had turned interesting, then shouldn’t Earth send a real linguist, a first contact specialist? So Captain Susan Diallo was born and I finally started writing chapters I liked.

And then my mom had her first stroke.

Can we just say that my writing suddenly became a whole lot less important to me? My mom was in and out of ICU, multiple surgeries, and finally she came home. My sister came to live with me for a few months because I was trying to not completely fuck up my day job. I learned lots of nifty new skills like taking blood pressures and blood oxygen levels, changing dressings, and assisting the elderly in personal hygiene.

A fun time was not had by all.

But then she started sleeping through the night and moving around the house without a walker. My sister went home, and I started tinkering with the sequel again. I got several chapters written. I was feeling good.

And then one of the boys in my class had a catastrophic drop in grades. He turned surly when he was a great kid. I came down on him like a ton of bricks to keep his grades up and not lose credit, but he would not talk to me. I called home.

And found he didn’t live at home.

He was gay.

His religious parents found out.

Oh boy. So I called him in after school and we talked. He was living with a friend. I hooked him up with the social worker, who will explain things to his parents like they legally HAVE to support him until he’s eighteen so they can pay frikkin’ child support. The family that took him in was awesome, and he did get the credit in my class (although I know he failed at least one other).

And I was so angry. I wanted to go hit his parents with the biggest stick I could lift, only the police frown on that sort of thing, and I’m really not cut out for prison.

I was so fucking pissed that I could not write lovey scenes between Liam and Ondry if you paid me.

I couldn’t.

So I started an angry story. Dallin Mecham was kicked out at sixteen. He went to the nearest big city to lose himself and ended up a whore in Phoenix. But that was ten years ago. He’d crawled out of the gutter, started up a small business, and started making a life for himself. And that’s when the economy tanked. So he was homeless and clinging to the edge of losing everything when he went back to his old pimp and got set up with a long-term client who would help pay the bills.

Of course William has his own issues, but the part that was cathartic for me was writing Dallin.

He got kicked in the teeth over and over, and yet he was in there swinging. He set the rules and if people didn’t live by them, he would spit in their eye and walk away. And of course his family shows up at some point. I had to get my rage out somewhere.

But all that meant that Claimings was in the back seat AGAIN.

I swear, this sequel is cursed.

But finally I worked out my rage (and boy did I write Two Steps Back in a hurry… turns out that rage is a good motivator for my muse). So, I was ready for something softer.

I went back to Claimings, and this time I didn’t post chapters for my writers group. I didn’t let any voice get in my head but Liam’s and I wrote.

Yesterday I finished the story and posted to my group asking if anyone in the reader’s group still wanted to read it and give feedback for any revisions before I sent it off to Loose Id. It’s done. Finally.

In two weeks it goes to Loose Id, who already has Two Steps Back.

Hopefully the title will join the “Coming Soon” page in the near future.

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Do I have a Street Team?

I know authors have street teams. I know it works for them. The problem is that I have trouble enough managing my relationships in real life. The idea of having a team terrifies me. The Internet is where I come to reenergize my painfully introverted soul.

And I said all that to someone on my list.

She promptly started laughing at me. Apparently I’m an idiot.

I don’t advertise this widely, but the fact is that I always post bits of what I’m working on to Livejournal (http://lit-gal.livejournal.com/). Seeing the reactions often helps me figure out how I feel about a piece. If, after two or three chapters, I feel strongly about a story, then I put it under a custom friend lock.

So, who gets to read it? Anyone who commented on the first few chapters. If they liked it enough to say something, I want to have their feedback. My flist then cheerleads, catches errors (both in spelling and continuity) and tells me where they hope the story is going (and that often does influence the direction of the story).

Near the end of the story I look at how many people are still commenting and drop off anyone who hasn’t commented in a while. The story wasn’t for them. That’s fine—no harm no foul.

I then keep that friend filter and when the story is sold or ready to come out, I post where only those people can see it and ask them if they could put out some reviews.

Um… I think that’s a street team. Yes? No? Maybe?

Anyway it works for me.

I may have six people or fifteen reading a particular novel in its raw form. A person has to have a Livejournal account for me to add them to the friend-group, but that’s the only requirement. Anyone is welcome to join.

However, apparently I am not only running a street team but doing it in a really shitty way that means that very few people know where it is. I’m here!

Right now I just finished Two Steps Back and I’m working on an edit for the Desert World books, which have found a new home. However, in about a month, I will be starting work on a new story, so you’re welcome to come by, join in, and be part of the team. And if you don’t like a story and fall off on commenting, no biggie.

We all have our own tastes.

Unless you come in and tell me I suck, in which case my introverted soul will kick your ass to the curb.


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Explore the world

Diverse books!

That’s the latest call out for authors… that they should write diverse books. Hell yes! Writers should write using a wider range of characters. Now I could talk about how it reflects society and starts to break down stereotypes. I could talk about the unfairness when some people can’t find books that reflect themselves. I could talk about a lot of stuff, but other people have done that better than I could.

So I say do it for selfish reasons.

Yep, be diverse for selfishness. See, diverse characters are more fun. I know me. I know my own cultural baggage and religious background. If I write about that I’m going to get really bored, really fast.

But if I write about someone who’s different, then I have to go out and explore the world.

I loved writing Urban Shaman. I did all this research on Judaism. I asked around on LJ and found an LJ friend had been raised Jewish, and in an ironic twist of fate, had been declared not Jewish enough for the exact same reason Nicholai got the boot—the converted Jewish ancestor on the mother’s side had a flawed conversion. I learned all about that when researching. I discovered parts of my world I didn’t know about.

I grew up reading Westerns, so I knew that certain Native tribes counted “coup.” However, it was when doing research for Drift that I discovered that the belief is that you dishearten the person by showing them their weakness. I read about how a tribe all got together and had a protest by counting coup against a liquor store. They all walked up to it and touched it so the owner would understand how much they all hated having that poison on their reservation. I like that.

 

So don’t go out there with the dragging of the feet feeling like you’re obligated to write using a diverse cast of characters… throw yourself into it. It’s a great excuse to spend hours on the Internet learning interesting facts about the real world.

 

For Fettered, I looked at a lot of research on dysfunctional families and the ways that other family members are affected by one person with serious mental issues. I also spent time researching Miss Dolphinia, who is a gay man and a drag queen. It was fun reading stories of these people who were at the Stonewall and how the mob was happy to make money off them while the cops harassed them. I did a lot of reading on that. I also love twisting the history a bit because Miss Dolphinia sees that history through rose colored glasses.

In Urban Shaman, Nicholai is from a very insular Jewish community. I’ve already talked about how much I learned there. But the other character also let me go explore. Miguel is Hispanic, and Mexican mythology plays a large part in the storyline. Mexican mythology! Why is it that we learn about Zeus, but we never learn about Hunahpu and Xbalanque (Other than the obvious problem of pronunciation)? It’s a GREAT story.

Shepherd, Slave, and Vow took me to the world of Greece. Sort of. It’s a blend of mythology and history where the gods are real and Athena helped Greece gain dominance over Rome. I had fun digging deeper into the mythology and figuring out how the Roman stealing of Greek gods would work if the gods were alive to protest it.

Turbulence is a frikkin’ rainbow. If humans are at war with an alien race, I have to imagine that everyone goes to war, not just white guys. It really annoys me in American movies how America (and white America) are the only ones fighting the invasion. Our armed forces are very diverse, thank you very much Hollywood. So, I went a little crazy. Oh boy. Zeke and Jacqs are bisexual, and Zeke is an amputee. People with an amputee fetish are… different. I found parts of the Internet that scared me, and I’m an aficionado of pony play. I didn’t think I could get scared. Shank is Native American. Copta is asexual and Arab. Allie is pansexual. Karney and Lendra are black, and Lendra is a lesbian. Benares is French and a raging drunk with PTSD, Becca is so white it’s not funny while Neira Daygik is darker skinned and Honshi Quin is Asian. See? The world is fighting.

Drift is the book where I really explored how much Shank is Sioux. Culturally, religiously, and genetically Sioux. Rather than adapting, the Sioux have found a way to keep their culture and screw the mainstream. I did lots of reading for this and I loved it. And that’s why you also get Cetan, Chetankeah and Anpaytoo.

The one I’m working on right now has Dallin Mekam, a good Mormon boy raised to get married, have kids, and earn his godhood by pursuing the tenants of the Mormon faith. Instead he comes out as gay and walks away from that life. But as much as he isn’t religiously Mormon, he still has a lot of those cultural values. He can’t turn his back on a little brother who needs him, even if that brother is an ass. He feels like he can’t be a man without being able to support himself. He still has a lot of those traits, even if he claims he’s not at all Mormon.

 

All of these are outside my culture and my comfort zone because I’m boring. The rest of the world is interesting.

 

And of course this summer I insist I am going to get the Claimings sequel done if it kills me… and it might. Does it count as diversity that Ondry is eight feet tall and purple?


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Yep, I’m talking race

I’m proud to be Asian, said the Asian man.

I’m proud to be Black, said the Black man.

I’m proud to be White, said the racist.

 

This joke popped up on my Facebook feed today, and I have had it stuck in my head for hours. Usually that means I need to get the feelings out—although I suspect I’ll step on toes. Shrug. What’s new?

Okay, let’s start with the assumptions there.

First, this person (and I’m sure I don’t need to identify them by race or gender), assumes that any Asian person proudly proclaims, “I’m proud to be Asian.”

That’s an odd statement. I mean, I’ve known people who are proud to be Vietnamese and people proud to be South Korean, I’ve known people proud to be Chinese or Zhuang or Tibetan. I’ve known people who were proud their parents escaped communism in Cambodia and people who were proud of the contributions of the Philippians in World War II, but I have never known anyone to stand up and say, “I’m proud to be Asian.”

What would that even mean?

Asia is so large that there is no such thing as an Asian culture or Asian people. Hell, people don’t even agree on exactly where the line is between Asia and Europe.

Maybe I’m wrong. Maybe people out there do say it. If so, I suspect saying “I’m proud to be Asian” is synonymous with “Fuck you because I don’t envy your white skin.”

Moving on to the second one. I suspect that people who talk about black pride are talking about being proud of being African American. They are taking pride in a culture rooted in family, in strength, and in survival. They should be proud of that. No question.

However, it’s not the skin color that’s inspiring the pride. It’s the connection to the culture and the history of Black Americans. No one in Africa ever said, “I’m proud to be black.” That’s not to say they aren’t proud of their heritage, but they’re proud of being Mende or Arusha or even of being Bantu. Although Bantu is a big umbrella for a lot of groups, it’s not nearly as broad as “black.”

So no one is running around exhibiting a lot of pride over their skin color. Nope. No one. People are proud of where they came from. If you want to be proud of being white, yeah, I’m going to call you a racist. And I am the whitest of the white folk. I burn when I think about going outside.

Now that doesn’t mean you can’t be proud of your people. I am proud of my mother’s white ancestors, strong Welsh folk who showed up in this country before the Revolutionary War and fought against the English. Yep, I’m a daughter of the American Revolution, and I’m proud of that.

I’m proud of my father’s family and their Irish roots. They took off from the old country even before the potato famine. They were too poor to even be tenant farmers. They settled in the deep south when the deep south was swamp-land and malaria and horrendous mortality rates—but they survived.

I’m proud of my German roots. Those tough old white folks that were my ancestors helped settle parts of Minnesota and Canada. They lived and died in an unhospitable world, and they made the world bend rather than get driven away.

But that doesn’t mean I’m proud of being white. My skin color is an accident. I’m proud of my German ancestors and my Irish ancestors and my Welsh ancestors.

And I’m proud of my African ancestors.

Most likely they were Ibo from West Africa. One of those dirt poor Irish fellows fell in love. She couldn’t pass for white, so they passed her off as Cherokee and ran as far west as they could. They made it around five hundred miles, which back then was one hell of a haul because this was back before the Civil War. I sometimes wonder what it was like… running when you knew your marriage was illegal. Hell, the family has no idea if she was ever legally freed or if my ancestor risked running with someone else’s slave. Some things get lost in the family lore.

That doesn’t mean I’m proud to be black because trust me… I do not look like I have a drop of black blood in me. But I’m still proud of that woman. I’m proud of a dirt poor Irish farmer who knew wrong when he saw it and followed his heart. I’m proud of a Revolutionary hero who was temporarily charged with desertion. It turns out he lost his unit in the woods… as in he couldn’t find them. He hooked up with another unit and he was cleared later when it turned out he’d been fighting the English the whole time, just with the wrong unit.

I come by my bad sense of direction honestly.

So you know that joke up at the top of this post? Fuck you Mr. Humorous.

And you can stop feeling sorry for yourself because you think you’re the only person in the world not allowed to be proud of where you come from. However, if the only thing you have to be proud of is your skin color, you really might want to consider that you are, in fact, a racist.

And if you aren’t, then you’re just whiny. And you know what? Whiny is almost as annoying. So stop it.

There. I feel better now.


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I fell into the weird part of the internet. The bonding fic led me to knotting. Supernatural knotting, as in kinky dirty-wrong sex knotting. And some of these… oh god… it’s like watching an accident that you know you shouldn’t, but you can’t look away. Worse, I want to fix them. Do something to… no. Must get muse away.

Personally, I am doing much better. Last weekend the rollercoaster was about at the lowest point and I felt like I was going to throw up. I did get some great advice from you guys. I already had in-home care while I was at work; however, the social worker hooked me up with someone one day a week, and a friend is coming in a second. That’s enough to take some of the burden off. And then I hired someone to clean my house and yard. Hired. Seriously hired someone to do my dishes and wash my bathrooms, and I think my brain whited out somewhere along the way because 1) I’m too cheap for this shit 2) I’m not rich enough for this shit, related to #1, and 3) Dude, someone touched my dirty underwear. I mean, she touched it because she was doing a load of laundry, but I’m still not sure how I feel about that.

However, again, it took the weight off me.

This isn’t forever. Mom is making good strides. She can now get to the bathroom on her own. That is a huge victory. I’m also getting more efficient with things, and showers and changing nightgowns and dressings and blood pressure… it all takes less time now.

The roller coaster isn’t at the top of the hill, but I’m starting to feel like I see daylight.

And I don’t think I’m going to pay anyone to touch my dirty underwear again. Seriously… still do not know how I feel.


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Where’s my bondmate

In the past, I’ve commented that I don’t get mystical bonds or mated pairs or destined pairs or whatever it means when a couple is biologically driven together.

I didn’t get it when I read fanfic and Blair and Jim absolutely had to bond or they would die. Doesn’t that negate their love because they’re forced together instead of choosing each other?

I didn’t get it when Tony and Gibbs were telepaths or vampires or part of the Sentinel universe. If they were forced to stay together, then where is the beauty in them working through problems together? Where is the power of the relationship when biology trumps all?

When people read Long, Lonely Howl, they tried to read a “bond” into the relationship, but there isn’t one. Casey has a crush on Nathan, but he’s gone years without following up on that relationship, and when they choose to be together, they have to figure out how to make it work in a pack where there is a range of compatibility between the members.

But I think I’m coming around.

Right now I am so emotionally exhausted and whiny and alone that all I want is someone who is biologically required to stand by me, because trust me, I’m not safe around anyone else. My life feels so out of control.

Mom is recovering, but it’s going to be a long, hard haul. LONG HARD haul. My fiction has been sidelined by the need to become an in-home nurse while doing all the cooking, laundry, cleaning, and tending for someone who physically can’t do for herself. And because she’s a two hundred plus pound woman, it’s hard to manage some of these tasks. Nursing care only comes out every third day, and it’s hard. It’s so hard.

Normally when I’m this stressed, I write. I retreat into a world where I have more control. But I’m too tired and too frustrated. I try to sit down with Ondry and Liam, and I find my eyes closing as I type. And I can’t catch the thread of anything.

And god help me when I see a bad review because I don’t have the emotional reserves to deal with any of it. I look at the lack of interest in Drift (three reviews on Amazon, nothing on Loose Id), and I want to cry. I feel like such a failure, and I know I’m not being emotionally fair with myself, but I can’t catch my balance.

I want a bonded mate.

Right now, I just want someone who is forced to like me, even when I’m being a little (or a lot) unlikeable. About the only thing I am consistently finding time for is The Journey Home by Jilly. It’s over on keiramarcos.com/roughtrade.

So I logged on to see if there’s another chapter and if I get myself ten or twenty minutes of indulging in a fantasy of bonded mates and love that stretched across worlds. It’s NCIS/Sentinel fanfic, and it beats up on Gibbs who can be a bit of an ass, so it scratches all my itches.

But then I get a database error on the Keira Marcos site, and I swear I want to cry. All because I want to read a stupid damn chapter of a stupid damn fanfic that clearly means more than it should right now.

 

I hate life.

 

And Jilly, I love your story, even if I’m calling it stupid because I shouldn’t care so much about Tony’s damn bonded mate.

 


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Objectifying Gays

Does m/m fiction objectify gay men?

Um… sometimes? Let’s be honest, some of it is wank fuel. Guess what, that’s not such a new thing in the romance world. Plenty of women in tight bodices with deep cleavage and men with wide chests brandishing swords have been relegated to wank fuel. Gay men are just the latest addition to that little club.

And yeah, I understand the frustration. Seriously, dude, do you have any idea how straight men objectify lesbians? Every straight man seems to want to either watch or join in, and they’ll come right out and say that which is disturbing on a huge level. So I get the frustration. I do.

However, other stories show gay men in a wide range situations. They get to be heroes and villains, brothers and fathers and sons. They get the sort of stories that television and movies refuse to tell.

But the part where my brain gets stuck is when people start saying that if you aren’t gay you can’t write about gay characters.

Buzahuh?

Really?

Well, I guess I’m screwed then. Under that theory, I could only write about lesbians. Okay, so I might have a few gender confused women who liked playing B/D games with men, but no het sex. Or gay malesex. OR straight people or gay men or transsexuals or … actually I wouldn’t be able to write anything I want to write.

Because I don’t write lesbian fiction… it feels a little too much like awkward masturbation. So I write pretty much anyone who isn’t me.

I write about Miss Dolphinia the cross-dressing gay queen who waxes poetic about a time in BDSM history when the rules were looser and Doms could get away with a lot more (fun for Doms, but not always great for the rest of the community)

I write about Jacqs Glebov who thought he was straight because the first person he was attracted to was female, and he really wasn’t one for self-reflection.

I write about Corporal Ace Class Chankoowashtay “Shank” Lacroix who has to be careful to hide his submissive side because people have confused submissive for pushover, and while he is one, he’s definitely not the other. And he is passionately heterosexual.

Allie Grah is equally passionate about her bisexuality.

Carl Ragar is afraid to step up to the plate and confess to the man he loves.

Vinnie Bernardi is too quick to speak up.

And none of these people have sexualities that even come close to mine.

My characters should be judged on their own merit, not on my sexuality. If one of my gay characters or straight characters or bisexual characters or gender ambiguous characters fails, then the fault is not my gender or my sex or my sexual orientation.

Shakespeare writes some kick-ass women. Harper Lee wrote a few of my favorite men, including Dolphus Raymond, who Miss Dolphinia named herself after. And face it, Margaret Mitchell wrote the best damn bastard in all of literary history.

Jeff Lindsay writes a damn good psychopath without ever having murdered someone (I hope), and Anne Rice has never met a vampire although she can write the hell out of them.

Literature is imagination. I won’t apologize for imagining a world where anyone can be anything.