Lyn Gala

One writer's journal through one version of reality


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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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Bullying… reviewing… reviewing… bullying…

You know, I think some people need to look up the actual definition of bullying.

The American Psychological Association defines bullying as follows:

Bullying is a form of aggressive behavior in which someone intentionally and repeatedly causes another person injury or discomfort. Bullying can take the form of physical contact, words or more subtle actions.

The bullied individual typically has trouble defending him or herself and does nothing to “cause” the bullying.

Let’s dissect that.

Intentional and repeated: That means for an action to be “bullying” the person doing it isn’t just speaking their mind and walking away. They aren’t talking to friends and getting overheard. This person wants to hurt the victim and does that repeatedly.

Do you know what doesn’t fit that definition? Writing a review.

When someone writes a review, they are usually writing it for their friends. It’s the equivalent of stopping in the hall on the way to the break room and saying, “Wow, I read this book this weekend and it really sucked.”

A person might do that because the book sucked. They also might exaggerate the sheer depth of the suckitude to amuse their friends or be funny or even to get attention. There’s no intentional harm to the author present.

However, once people move onto review sites, it’s a little different because the authors can haunt the halls and eavesdrop. God knows I do. So the people in the hallway are different now, but that doesn’t change the conversation or the reason for the conversation. I can say a book sucks with no harm in my heart for the author.

But let’s step back. We can’t look inside a reviewer’s head, so maybe there are sadistic reviewers out there who type out blistering reviews with the intent to harm the author. First, y’all suck as sadists because if you want to hurt someone, writing a review is a pretty lame way to engage in a little pain for pleasure.

However, we have another problem. Bullying is a repeated behavior that causes injury or discomfort. Repeated. As in more than once. I’m pretty sure, but a review is one. And yeah, you then have comments, but the only time I’ve seen comments get heated and people start throwing around words with actual intent to cause harm, it’s because both sides got in there and started instigating.

Both sides.

That means that the second people get in there and demand apologies and blame reviewers for bringing about the end of the civilized world, they are part of the problem. They did something to “cause” the bullying, which means that by definition, it’s no longer bullying.

It’s a public pissing contest.

All that said, I do understand that bad reviews hurt. I’ve had reviews that tore into me for being sick, for being misogynistic, for stereotyping gay people (dude, I am gay), and worst of all, for being boring. Ouch. Yeah, I’m weird, but I’d rather be called misogynistic than boring. By the way, I like to think I’m not either.

I even had a fellow author I share a publishing house with tear into me for writing a story that was nothing more than a PR stunt. Um, my publisher asked for a piece of PR, and it was never intended as a stand-alone story, only as a game piece in a scavenger hunt. I hate that it’s even listed on Goodreads when I never “published” it.

I’ve also had people get reviews so wrong that they misstate the characters’ ages, the events in the book, and even get the names of the main characters wrong.

None of these people set out to intentionally cause me harm. They spoke their mind. That’s not bullying. Bullying would be hunting me down and every time I post on LiveJournal or Facebook, telling me how much I suck. Bullying would be posting hateful words that tried to hurt me over and over when I’ve not engaged them. Bullying would be despicable behavior aimed at me.

Reviews aren’t aimed at me. What’s more, I can turn them off. No one is following me around the internet trying to get in my face. I can escape, whereas bullying victims can’t. Reviews exist in three or four prominent sites (which is a tiny portion of the internet), and I can enjoy a rich online experience without ever seeing those words if I choose.

Now I’m way too nosy, so I will always eavesdrop; however, if I hear something I don’t like, whose fault is that?

 


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Coming Soon

LG_Turbulence_coverlgI’ve never been the popular kid.

Nope.

I was the sort that embraced my unpopularity.  Part of that is that I show up on the autism scale.  I interact with people fine… assuming I have business with them.  Ask me to socialize, and I kind of suck.  I have a good friend who tends to interrupt me and say things like, “Smile and thank her, Lynsey.”

Oh.  Yeah.  Social niceties.

I don’t know how to take compliments well because I see all my own faults.  I am even less in tune with insults, and I’ve been told that it’s annoying that I don’t seem to know to get upset.  As far as I’m concerned, if an insult is true, it’s true.  If it’s not, it’s laughable.

I have embraced my inner Sheldon.

But the odd thing is that every time “Coming Soon” shows up with one of my books, I forget that I’m cool with all this.  If people don’t like me, fine.  If they don’t like Jacqs, it’s going to hurt and I know it.

This week leading into a new release is the hardest time for me as an author.  This is when I worry about whether the ending was good enough and how many grammar mistakes did I miss (because trust me, I miss ’em).  Turbulence comes out in less than a week, and this is the height of my utter misery.

I love writing.  Even when I’m not doing profic, I’m writing fanfic.  Writing allows me to unwind after a long day of dealing with people… and the day I went into admin was the day I frikkin’ lost my mind because I hate dealing with people.  I only need to get through seven more month and I can step back into the classroom.  Students never gave me the grief adults seem to.

But until that first good review comes in, I’m going to be miserable.

I tell myself that it’s stupid to get so emotional.  I tell myself that it doesn’t really matter.  I lie to myself until I’m blue in the face.

Sadly, it doesn’t work.  So I guess I’m settling in for a week of hitting refresh on the Loose Id website and Goodreads, a week of haunting the review sites and searching for my name as I pretend I don’t really care.


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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


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Winds of Rejection

Rejection sucks.

Some might argue that personal rejection hurts worst, but for a writer, professional rejection feels pretty damn personal.  I sent out a proposal for a piece I’m doing, and my baby was rejected before taking its first breath.

“BDSM is a hot genre, and we found your premise of a hostage situation turned sexy very enticing. We also enjoyed the idea of a hot m/m set against the lush backdrop of the Appalachian Mountains,” said the publisher’s response… but wait for it.

They followed up with, “we felt the romantic development was too subtle. The majority of scenes between Stunt and Alex only hint of their mutual attraction. Although there is plenty of conflict between the two men, that conflict seems more focused on the suspense aspects of the story rather than on the romantic development that our readers demand.”

Sigh.

I guess it would hurt less only the parts they don’t like are the very parts of the story I do like.  I write for myself first and foremost, and the problem is that I’m clearly out of sync with the rest of the world.

A reader recommended Joey Hill’s vampire books because I adore femdom.  Love it.  But the problem is that I didn’t love Joey Hill’s books.  Lyssa is a thousand year old vampire who is facing death, political dissent that threatens to undo the vampire hierarchy she designed, and a vamp who once raped her and is scheming against her now.  She also has Jacob, a human who has a deep and destined love who tries to push into her life.

I read the first two novels, and they have so much going for them:  Jacob’s streak of self-sacrifice, Lyssa’s hard heart with that Tootsie-soft center, the danger… it should be perfect for me.

But it wasn’t.

I kept wondering how the hell Lyssa had survived for a thousand years when she spends more time worrying about Jacob’s ass than the dozen vampires trying to destroy her.  Seriously… what is up with that?

And there were so many sex scenes that I found myself skipping over them because I wanted to know how these two could form a united front against the world.  I didn’t need to see two fronts uniting over and over (or a front and a back, or a mouth and a cunt).

So my problem is that I could take my story and focus the story on the romantic conflict instead of the “suspense aspects,” but I don’t want to.  In my story, Alex has lost his brother.  If his reaction to that death includes having sex with Stunt on very available surface, I’m going to think less of him. I just am.

So the rejection feels so very personal.

Too late, I remember why I don’t do proposals.  The creativity required to write is a tissue-paper flower.  It’s easily frayed and ripped.  The petals threaten to fall off at the least breeze, and I put it out in a storm.

Okay, so it was more of a brisk wind because that was a particularly kind rejection, one that even asked me to come back if I could write something that conformed to their guidelines better.

But a tissue-paper flower doesn’t handle brisk winds well.