The ‘Alien Mate Trope’ Problem

I write science fiction romance, blatantly and unashamedly. But, if you’ve ever read any of my work, you might notice that all of the couples are human. All of them.

And the aliens are alien. They look a little like lizards/dragons/dinosaurs, or maybe squid, except with five arms rather than eight-arms-plus-two-tentacles. And we mustn’t forget the glowing rocks with their group intelligence that can correct human nerve damage.

None of them are Star Trek aliens (human actors with extra bits glued or painted on). They’re not hunky alpha males or females who happen to be blue. And there is, quite definitely, no cross-species romance going on, for two reasons that are kind of related.

Reason number one is the entire euwww factor. I don’t buy the theory of panspermia, because we’ve never found anything even remotely resembling life (except that one microscopic possible bacterium fossil in a Martian rock) anywhere but Earth. Even the Martian rock was found on Earth.

I’m a chemist by training, so you can talk about amino acids in the comets until you’re blue in the face and I’ll be able to show you exactly how a non-life process can create them. Furthermore, DNA as we know it only uses four of them, and only in the levo configuration.

If there was more than one biome on Earth, one that used DNA containing different base pairs than C, A, G, and T, or one that used some other method of protein encoding altogether, would we even know it was here? Would we be able to recognize it as alive? Have we even looked?

All of which brings me to this: If you’re not willing to do that with, say, a chimpanzee, then you shouldn’t be doing it with an alien. Euwww. Maximum squick.

Why not? Two consenting adults and all that. Well…remember the part about using different proteins made from different base pairs? What happens when a foreign protein gets into your body?

Assuming your body can recognize it as a protein, your immune system attacks it. That’s how immunizations work; we inject the protein coat of a virus to program the immune system for the real thing. Sometimes your immune system gets a little too excited and you have an allergic reaction. A severe allergic reaction can kill you—the quickest way is through anaphylactic shock, where your throat swells shut and you suffocate.

That’s the second reason I don’t do human/alien romance: severe risk of death after the second kiss. As with all allergens, the first exposure doesn’t cause a reaction, because it programs the immune system to go into overdrive for the second exposure. Yeah, death by protein exchange could definitely be a problem, and I’ve never seen it considered in the Alien Mate trope. I guess it would be too much of a mood killer. Snort.

So, if you’re reading one of my books, all the couples are going to be human, or alien, but not mixed. Too dangerous…and much too squicky.

In unrelated but happy news, I just had my four-year checkup and I’m still cancer free. Yay!

 

New Book Out April 19

This is the story of Colonel Singh and what happens when he meets the elusive Chandra Ramasamy. Bwah-hah-hah-hah-hah.

It’s the third in the series of what happened to the Strike Force Charlie Company Electronic Warfare unit Ganymede incident survivors (at least the ones that still have biological bodies; the captain, Whisper, and Grimtoo & Ellcee will have their stories next).

Kindness of Strangers

Kindness

Always make sure your murder victim is truly dead…striker payback is usually with interest.

Strike Force Colonel Rahmsin Singh is almost as much machine as man, and he wants to know the root cause. Unfortunately, the woman who can tell him that is in deep cryosleep…her body mostly a freeze-dried husk that’s going to require a lot of regeneration, though her consciousness was protected.

The last thing Chandra Ramasamy remembers is the burn of a bullet hitting her chest after hitting the escape pod eject button. Now she’s in a net-avatar conference room with a military officer telling her she’s been in bad cryosleep for seven and a half years.

Can she piece together what happened after her memory stopped and help him figure out what killed him and his soldiers? Well, the MarsCorp thugs didn’t quite manage to kill her seven years ago, and now she has the Strike Force on her side. He’s a little stiff, but deep down he’s a gooey-hearted mother hen. She can work with that, particularly if she can help take down MarsCorp as payback.

And then get her body un-freezedried and working again. And, if they both survive, she might want to keep the universal soldier with the heart of gold.

At Amazon (Kindle)
At Barnes & Noble (Nook)
At iBooks
At Kobo

Status: Writing

I did jinx myself by putting a February publication date in print. I’m still working on Kindness of Strangers, but I’m getting it through the process this month; I have ten people keeping me accountable, including my diabolical husband, Spooky Man.

In an entirely unrelated topic that I need to get out of my brain, why do Americans write dates in the format Month-Day-Year? Most of the world uses either increasing or decreasing time units (day-month-year or year-month-day). It’s like we decided to do decreasing units and leave off the year, but then realized we need it so added it at the end as a parenthetical phrase set off by commas — yes, there’s also a comma after the year if it’s not at the end of a sentence.

I silently judge people who don’t close their parenthetical phrases. It’s not pretty, but it’s at least quiet. Just sayin’.

And Americans are weird. I have stories. But now I need to get back to this story. My reward for getting it done will be to post new furbaby photos.

Val

Stuck But Not Blocked

Writer problems.

For the last two weeks, I’ve been stuck at about 29,000 words on Kindness of Strangers. I’m not blocked, because I know what I need to write, but I open the file, read a few pages before where I need to start writing, and then stare at the page. After a heavy sigh and a sentence or two that will probably be removed the next day, I shut the file.

Usually this means there’s something wrong with the story—wrong point of view, bad plot turn, female protagonist is too passive/reactive…something that my subconscious (that woman in the basement) hasn’t chosen to share yet. Maybe it hasn’t quite got it figured out.

A lot of the time I get just beyond the halfway mark of a story where it stalls out. After hitting my head against a metaphorical wall for a while, I realize I’m trying to write the male protagonist as the hero. In my core story, the female protagonists are the heroes. And…OMG, it just clicked. Chandra isn’t active enough—she’s taking the initiative with the colonel, but not with the [blocked due to plot spoiler].

Ha! Now I can open the file without that sinking feeling. Some days it’s good to be a writer (and some weeks, well, it’s not).

With luck, I’ll have a lot of progress to report in a few days.

Why Bronchitis Stinks on Ice

After taking some time off for the holidays (and the mandatory shutdown at the day job), I lost two and a half weeks of January to a cold that went bronchitis. And that was me, the one who watches like a hawk at the first sign of a cold, because they almost always try to settle in my lungs (walking pneumonia back in high school left me susceptible).

It’s always worrying when, 28 hours after the first weird feeling, your doctor listens to your chest and says, “Wow. You just earned yourself a chest x-ray.” Luckily, said x-ray ruled out pneumonia, but showed a nasty case of bronchitis. Yay? Antibiotics and an inhaled steroid to get the coughing to work better, and I was on my way.

The constant coughing wasn’t too much of a problem (cough syrup kept it to a minimum and the Albuterol made it more effective), the rumbling and crackling when trying to breathe (or sleep) was annoying, but the bone-deep fatigue—probably from not being able to breathe properly—kept me from doing much of anything for two weeks. Do. Not. Like.

However, azithromycin is amazing. Six pills over five days and I’m back to me. Like. Very much.

So, now back to our regularly scheduled writing: finishing up the Kindness of Strangers novella to round out the first Strike Force anthology (Open Mike at Club Bebop, Getting Lucky, and Kindness of Strangers), plus telling the slightly skewed Sleeping Beauty story of Ekaterina Avondale’s parents, Dane Avondale (Hero of Ararat) and Aurora Ivanov (the Dragonkiller).

With luck, which hasn’t been in large supply for writing in the last few weeks, I should be able to get them edited, formatted, covered, and up for sale by the end of February (and I probably just jinxed myself by setting a deadline).

I’m also planning to release my first historical romance at the end of this month, under the pen name Jane Reynolds. Look for A Ruined Woman in about a week.

And then I can start on the writing I had planned for this year, LOL.

 

Baby Groot, the Lazarus Hawthorn

We had a scarlet hawthorn tree in our front yard. It died a few years ago.

I gave it every chance, we watered it for a year and then let it stay an eyesore for another six months before we gave up and had it removed. And I mean removed.

We had the stump ground down four feet below the soil surface, because we wanted to plant another tree there eventually. This is important, because that tree was not just dead (really, a year and a half with no living leaf on it), it was gone.

Then we had the worst winter in decades, fondly known as the snowpocalypse of 2017. A carport collapsed, warping the air conditioner so that it had to be replaced, destroying the chest freezer, and damaging the paint of my car. And blocking our access to the back yard for about four months.

By the time we got the mess cleaned up and the carport replaced, the back yard was a shambles–and it hadn’t been in great shape before. So plans were made, money saved up, and in June 2018 we had both front and back yards taken out and redone simply, keeping a couple of rose bushes in the front and….

20180619_205305

Hey, where did this little hawthorn tree come from growing in exactly the same spot as the original tree?

Yeah. Our hawthorn came back not just from the dead, but from the dead-and-removed. The landscapers weed-whacked it a bit before Spooky Man noticed what it was, and he saved it. Because it’s either a zombie or our very own Baby Groot. Yeah, our tree has a name now, and we are babying Baby Groot.

She is ours and we love her.

 

Working on Dane and Aurora’s story

Dane Avondale and Aurora Ivanov Avondale are the wise mentors and parents in The Ocasek Opportunity. Some parts of their life together and their love story are mentioned in that novel, but I happen to know the whole story. I mean, how does a woman who has been in cryostasis for a century-plus end up killing the queen of an alien race in single combat? Over who has ownership of a human male, no less….

Yeah, it’s a great story. And while I’m letting “Kindness of Strangers” and “A Ruined Woman” percolate before editing, I’ll be getting words onto virtual paper for “The Briar Rose”–Dane and Aurora’s story that kind of rhymes with Sleeping Beauty. Kind of. And since it takes place a couple of decades before all the other stories in that universe (that start with The Valmont Contingency), when I get it out for sale, it will be free (or 99 cents at Amazon if they choose to be jerks about price matching).

Because why not?

Wish me luck; it should be a fun ride to write this.

 

 

I won NaNoWriMo….

When you’ve been a professional writer of one kind of another for three decades (which still freaks me out–how did I get old enough to have that much experience?), writing 50,000 words in a coherent narrative during a calendar month isn’t that big of a deal. I actually wrote 71,000 on the official project, and then noodled around with another project yesterday for another thousand words of brainstorming.

However, most people are not sick and twisted enough to have spent three decades putting words down for a living (mostly instructions–I don’t yet make a living wage from novels). For normal people, writing 50,000 words of a coherent narrative in 30 days is a big deal, and it should be celebrated. For all you wonderful people who made it through to word 50,000 by midnight tonight (your local time), major congratulations are in order, along with confetti and a marching band.

You did it. Get your badge, pat yourself on the back, take a relaxing bath and have a celebratory beverage of your choice. You’ve earned it.

Me, I’ve finished a terrible first draft of a historical romance that will never see the light of day under the pen name Val Roberts, because I don’t like the plot anymore and it’s way different from my regular genre. If I can beat it into shape, I’ll probably publish it as Jane Reynolds, which is also a name I can claim as mine. But it sounds more like a historical romance writer, at least to me.

Just as an FYI, Val Roberts is a pen name, but it’s a slightly shortened version of my legal name, in case I ever get the chance to sit next to Nora Roberts. Hey, a writer can dream. 🙂

 

Quick Check-In: I have won NaNoWriMo, now to finish the book

On November 19, I crossed the 50,000-word threshold for winning National Novel Writing Month. Why so early? Because my plan is for this to be a 75,000-word first draft finished before December 1.

It’s going to be a first draft with issues, as some plot points have changed along the way, but it will be a first draft completed in a calendar month, writing approximately 2,500 words per day (this takes me a little over two hours when working steadily, but only if I know exactly what scene(s) I’m going to work on).

So…back to the keyboard for me.

National Novel Writing Month – one week in

After sort of finishing Kindness of Strangers (all of the words are written, but it’s currently in three files and a mess), I started a new work in progress for National Novel Writing Month.

This is the book told my RWA chapter I was going to finish this year, so I have this month to get the first draft done. The working title is A Ruined Woman (there are also characters for A Married Woman and A Suitable Woman poking at my brain, so it’s beginning to look a lot like a series…), and it’s about a duke who isn’t quite a duke and a ruined woman who isn’t ruined, somewhere between the Regency and the reign of George IV.

I know, I can never do anything straightforward. This probably says something about how deeply my subconscious is twisted and in what direction, but I don’t want to know exactly what because it’s working.

So far, I’m on track; in seven days, I have written over 18000 words. Go, me!

I’ll let you know how next week goes.

 

%d bloggers like this: