Lyn Gala

One writer's journal through one version of reality


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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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Submissives, fanfic, and an Apology to Jayne

code4Well, I finally updated my webpage, and I have to give up on Firefly.

No, don’t get your panties bunched. I still love the show. I still love the fanfic I have done with the show, but I just don’t write that much fanfic with it, so my fourth slot on my main page switched from Firefly to Stargate.

You see, the only thing I miss in Firefly is a sexual relationship between the characters. I started with Thoughts Colored Ugly where River’s telepathic powers allows her to see Jayne’s submissive nature, but she accidentally drives him away before she can step up and claim her man.

I then did Old War Horses, which I loved. Jim (The Sentinel) had been a Purple Belly government officer who had been turned into a government experiment. While fleeing from arrest, he runs into Mal and the Serenity, who have very strong Browncoat feelings. I loved watching these two try to continue a war when both of them had lost the war so long ago, and it let me play with my favorite dynamic—the strong submissive.

I love kick-ass submissives. I love the idea of someone having power and choosing to lay it at the feet of the person they love. I think you can see that in Liam and Tom and Ferro, and so many of my submissive characters.

Jayne is the ultimate strong submissive. When I see how, in canon, he was willing to accept his death if it came at Mal’s hands, when I saw him follow Mal into certain death with the Reavers when he couldn’t follow any other captain through a simple trade… I knew him. He was my strong submissive.

I thought I would be able to play with Jayne forever.

So I started Big Damn Dog, and I realized I had run out of fuel in the tank.

You see, there’s really nothing else I can change or fix in the series. Once I have my beautiful submissive Jayne settled, I’m happy with Joss’ world. I’m done. I don’t feel the call of any more epic stories—I can just go watch the series and be sated.

But Stargate? Oh, yeah. That’s just a hot mess.

The Not in Kansas series lets me totally stick my fingers in both SG1 (to poke Jack’s all symbiotes are evil button) and in Atlantis (to poke the let’s run this like a base and not the colony it is button). Face it, both ideas are pretty dumb. No species is evil as a whole—there’s just some other definition of right and wrong going on in that alien head. In my universe, the goa’uld are what happens when a perfectly sane symbiote has the bad luck to join with a psychotic/sociopathic ancient race and learn all about power and pain. And when Gibbs and Tony move to Atlantis in not one but two 100K epics, that poor city never saw it coming!

The Magical Cage let me poke at the Wraith/vampire connection by pulling Buffy in. The Shadows Universe let me use The Sentinel and their fear of government as well as La Femme Nikita to point out that the SGC is a scary covert ops world, we just see the friendly face of all the scary. We see that again in Dr. Sandburg Finds a Sentinel.

Dark Still Water gives Teal’c the voice he never got in canon, and lets the SG1 folk torture Jim (The Sentinel) for his most assholish season 4 behavior.  Airman Harris lets me poke at all the psychological damage these people take that rarely gets addressed in canon.

Yep, the Stargate universe feels more flawed. It ignores the very ideas I want to explore. It’s more interesting because it’s more flawed, so Stargate has now officially bumped Firefly off the main page.

I’m sorry, Jayne. I still love you!


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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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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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Blog Tour

habeas corpseI often avoid writing about writing because I don’t want to bore everyone. But Nikki Hopeman invited me to do a little blog hopping. She writes some very sharp plotty stuff, and she has a way of bringing old subjects new life. Metaphorically anyway. Habeas Corpse is zombies like you’ve never seen them before. You should definitely check it out.

So, it’s time to tour. I have four questions here:

1) What am I working on?

2) How does my work differ from others of its genre?

3) Why do I write what I do?

4) How does my writing process work?

 

1) What am I working on?

That’s a difficult question. I am trying to finish the Claimings sequel. Once I get “distracted” from a story, it’s hard for me to pick up the threads again, and my mother’s recent hospitalization definitely interrupted the creative process, so I’m just now trying to get back into the swing of the story. Right now, I have the sequel tentatively titled Assimilation, War, and Other Human Oddities. Ondry and Liam are doing well, but the human base has sent a new trader—a linguist expert—to try and forge a stronger alliance between humans and Rownt because the universe is changing. Captain Susan Diallo will be joining the cast as the government’s new head negotiator.

I also have a couple of books that are well into the process, but I’ve managed to lose interest or lose the threads of the narrative long enough that I don’t know how to pick them up. Desert World Immigrants follows Verly Black and Naite Polli from the Desert World universe. Customary Miracles is about a geeky, unlucky-in-love author who meets an equally geeky professor of comparative religions from India.

After that, I have dozens of ideas, some of which are more likely to hit the paper than others. Saddled, Ghosts of the Living, Exposure, Asymmetrical, Vicissitudes of Magic... they are all alive in my head, and I have no idea when or even if they’ll hit the page.

2) How does my work differ from others of its genre?

Wow. Okay, that’s hard to answer. I do think I am plottier than a lot of writers. The sex isn’t the most important part of the story—not even close. I like poking the characters’ psyches. I have an advanced degree in international relations, which includes a lot of sociology and psychology. I think that comes out in my writing. Of course, sometimes that’s not a good thing. I remember I had a reviewer shred Gathering Storm because of how unrealistic the characters were. I laughed a little at the thought of a few years undercover being unrealistic. My bad guy was larger than life, sure, but the news is full of stories of how psychopaths will engage in stalking over for years. That’s what they do. And at the time I wrote Gathering Storm, I was working on a set of classes related to the Middle East and the spy-fest of love that Israel and her neighbors had during the Cold War era. Wolfgang Lotz spent four or five years just setting up his cover before going into Egypt. Avri El-Ad had his circumcision reversed, which was a dangerous and painful surgery in the 1950s. Seriously… who does that? Then of course you have his buddy Philip Nathanson who set fire to his own pants on accident while trying to firebomb the Egyptians so Israel could blame the Moslem Brotherhood (look up the Lavon Affair… it’s really kinda pathetic). Anyway, I think that background makes my characters a little bigger and broader. I won’t say they’re bigger than life because they aren’t, but I draw from a weird part of life that I don’t think many people know.

3) Why do I write what I do?

I write a bit of everything… if you add in my fanfic, I don’t think there’s a genre I haven’t touched. I’ve done gen and romance. I’ve written het couples and gay couples. I’ve done mystery and sci fi and fantasy and contemporary. I like writing everything because life is everything. I get bored doing one thing too much, so I want to be out there exploring new ideas and new psyches. I find myself particularly drawn to stories where I have to research because that lets me get out there and learn something new myself. I spent a lot of time reading research about the Sioux when I wrote Drift because I wanted Shank’s family to have some real connection to the people they would have called ancestors. I read on Jewish culture for Urban Shaman and I read some truly depressing pieces on front line psychology for Turbulence and Claimings. I like exploring the world.

4) How does my writing process work?

When I figure it out, I’ll let you know.

Seriously.

Some stories flow out. I literally can’t write fast enough to keep up with my ideas and I can sometimes get in 10,000 words in a day. I’ve had a number of fanfic pieces like that. Claimings was like that as was Shepherd, Slave and Vow.

Other stories come with the dialog first. In Mountain Prey and Turbulence, I wrote most of the dialog first. I could “hear” the guys talking so well that I would just type as fast as I could as they sniped at each other, and I would go back and add in the action later. Desert World came to me in images first. I wrote out scenes of the desert and of Shan’s bike sliding down the dunes long before I wrote any of the interactions between the characters.

When I write, I always know where I want to end up. Always. Everything else is up in the air. Every book involved a different process. I have figured out one thing though. If I outline a book, I’m sunk. That’s it. Once a book is outlined, I can never work on it again because I either try so hard to follow the outline that I screw myself or my characters refuse to fit into the neat boxes I’ve made and I get writer’s block. So outlines are a dirty word around my house.

 

Now I should have found other authors (published or non-published) to carry this blog post forward. You know… link back to the person you got it from and then answer the four questions. Yeah… I know I’ve mentioned how much I try to avoid asking people to do things because social interactions aren’t my thing. So if you want to, do. I’d like to see what you guys come up with.

Leave a link to your post in comments so I can read it!

And now I’d like to invite you to visit these other authors to see how they view their work and learn more about their writing process.

Scott A. Johnson writes in several genres including nonfiction and horror. Visit his blog at Write Stranger.

Kerri-Leigh Grady is an editor and a writer of dark fiction. She blogs here.

Ann Laurel Kopchik writes fantasy, both of the elvish and bedroom kind. Go see her blog here.

Madeline Price writes dark and sexy fantasies. Find out more about her books and her writing process here.


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Strong Women Wanted… Maybe

kimaI have a wide range of male character types I really adore. Women… not so much.

I love early Daniel Jackson (Stargate) in all his geeky glory. When he argues in favor of the power of mythology and gets in Jack’s face, I’m right there with him. Yea! It’s not just myth, Jack! Everyone knows that bad boys with a heart of gold get me every time. Give me Mal and Jayne and Spike and Dean, and I can die a happy fangirl. Yeah, they may act all gruff, but we know what they’re really like.

I see that same variety in my writing. Liam is quiet and efficient. Petroc is a cold killer, who has more morality than he knew. Casey is a disaster in terms of romantic relationships but Stunt is an experience player who can dance between Doms—at least until he meets Alex.

But when it comes to women, I’m not as egalitarian. Human hybrid Da’shay completely takes charge of her man, and even uses him as bait for the bad guys. Paige would never do that, but as an experienced cop, she takes control of her partner, even when he showed up as a vampire. Even my secondary characters like Allie and Carmin are brassy, bold, and perfectly willing to piss off the world.

Why?

I don’t know. Maybe I see so many women making themselves smaller that I feel a need to write them larger and stronger.

I dislike most Disney heroines because they spend their lives trying to live up to a man or find a man or get out from under a man.

I want my fictional women to be like Zoe from Firefly. THAT is a woman. I didn’t like River at first because she cringed in her brother’s shadow, but when she came out into the light and kicked Jayne’s ass, I fell in love. Captain Janeway was a little cold, but B’Elanna from Star Trek: Voyager totally hit the sweet spot for me. Kima Greggs. Oh god. She’s gorgeous, kick-ass, and lesbian. I’ll be in my bunk for a bit…. Okay, back now. Oh wait. I forgot Xena. Gorgeous… check. Kick-ass… check. Lesbian… Oh hell yes. Back to the bunk.

Oh baby.

Right. I clearly need to focus. I had a tougher time with Buffy who could kick ass one minute, but who then seemed unable to function without Giles or Angel another. I actually preferred Faith—at least the one we see in Angel who has gotten her head screwed on straight. She can be Angel’s equal and appreciate how he backed her up without getting lost in her shadow.

Is anyone surprised that my first television crush was Murphy Brown? God how I adored that woman. And I would add to that list Leela (my favorite companion), C.J. on The West Wing, Nikita, Seven of Nine… you see the pattern.

I loved Ziva on NCIS until the writers insisted on giving her personality flaws that seemed to eat the character. I had equally mixed feelings about Dana Scully. I think she kicked ass; I think she had to put up with more than she should have given her partner’s occasionally dumb-ass moves.

And I should get to the point here.

I don’t know what to do. I have an idea nagging me that I am utterly ignoring. I have thoughts for a different sort of relationship.

Ben is Nicve Marine—in fact he’s the marine from Turbulence and Drift. He kicks ass and he takes name. Becca… doesn’t.

She’s young and unsure about her skills. In her world, she was trained as a gunner because of good hand-eye coordination, but she hates the idea of killing. She trained as a tech, but it’s a struggle for her. In many ways she does want to disappear into Ben’s shadow. It feels safe.

She’s exactly the sort of woman I have never cared for, and yet she’s whispering. Then the Ben-Becca relationship is more complex because it includes Copta. She is asexual, but that doesn’t mean she doesn’t want to sleep in a bed with someone and wake up with the warmth of another pressed up against her back.

She is Ben’s equal, willing to go toe to toe with him. She appreciates having a man who respects her for this. She loves Becca’s gentle soul and sees some of her own struggles in the younger woman. Even more, she feels at home because those two are sexually involved so she can love them without fearing that they are sacrificing their own sexual natures by loving her back.

Vortex is possibly the most out of the box piece my muse has ever inspired, and I’m not sure where to go.


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Branding

vicissitudesHave a brand.  That’s the advice I hear on the business end of writing.

If you’re going to do femdom, do only femdom.  If you’re going to write fantasy, stick to fantasy so those fans will find you.

Clearly I suck at this.  I write all sorts of genres and I like them all.  Well, I don’t like “Long, Lonely Howl,” but that’s more because I wrote it during one of the darkest points in my life when I honestly thought I might be in the sort of serious trouble that leads to someone being homeless.  *shrug*

But my point is that I’m all over the place.  Claimings is soft scifi. Blowback, Drift, Turbulence, the two Desert World books are all hard scifi. Mountain Prey, Fettered, Gathering Storm, Out of Balance, and Lines in the Sand are contemporary.  Long, Lonely Howl, Insistent Hunger, Urban Shaman and Shepard, Slave and Vow are all fantasy.

Some books are BDSM, some aren’t.  Some are het, most aren’t.

I’m all over.

And now my muse wants to add horror.  I was poking around thinking of a Nano to work on (the promise of a new project always makes me finish old ones, and Drift is almost done.  Jacqs and Zeke are back in the narrative).

My twisted muse came up with Vicissitudes of Magic.

David is a computer tech who helps run a detective/fix-it/protection agency with his best friend from high school, Rosaline.  The third partner is her magical mentor Ulric.  Wizards in general have very little patience for “mundanes,” a term David loathes, but he and Rosaline are close despite all the discrimination from this secret sect of society.

However, a new player has come on the scene, and he has plans for all of them, but especially for David and Ulric’s own teacher, a handsome man named Faulkner who is dark and deadly and utterly uninterested in anything mundane.  One little spell and David finds himself a prisoner and a pawn as good guys turn bad guys, as bad guys turn worse guys, and as the wizard world threatens to rise up out of the shadows and destroy everyone. David figures he can survive the torture, but the threat of being used to destroy his world tears at his soul like no pain every could.

This is definitely too dark for Loose Id.  Maybe.  I don’t know.  I’m only on chapter one, and it’s not exactly fluffy and light.  I think I like Gary from Fettered (the rapist) more than I like some of these assholes.