Thursday, February 27, 2014

Guest Post: Lynn Townsend

My darling Lynn's first full-length novel, Roll, was released yesterday, and even if I wasn't her beta reader and editor, I couldn't be more proud or excited. This is really a fantastic, sweet book about two college-age boys, with brilliantly real characters (not just the main characters, but the entire amazing cast of supporting characters as well). So of course I jumped at the chance to host an "interview" with one of those characters.

Everyone, meet Vinyl Elvis Reyes, known to his friends as Vin:

Aren't you a little old to be an undergrad?

I'm not that far behind, really. I'll graduate when I'm twenty-five. But, if you want to know the truth, I had some... issues, when I was a kid. My mom died when I was really young and it traumatized me -- a bit. I was in a foster home for a while, and then my grandparents came and got me. I should have started school right then, but... Grams calls it catatonic. I didn't talk. I had nightmares all the time, so my sleep schedule was erratic. I went through periods where I didn't eat. Schoolwork was right out of the question. My grandparents decided to hold me back that year.

So, I was six before I started school at all. And I still wasn't talking. Kindergarten was fine, you know. Coloring and crafts. After a while, teachers stopped asking me questions because I'd just stare at them until I started crying, which kinda freaked them out a bit. My grandparents had enough money that no one really wanted to piss them off. So, I passed. And I went on to first grade, which was more of the same.

By that time, my grandparents had me in like six different kinds of therapy. Emotional. Speech. Learning disabilities. I was on a couple different drugs for a while -- people thought I was autistic. There wasn't anything wrong with my brain -- yeah, shut up -- and from my screaming at night, it's not like I couldn't speak. I just didn't. I had a therapist for a while who liked to pinch my upper arms; he figured I wouldn't tell anyone, and if I did, then Bam! Cured.

Obviously, eventually, I started talking -- shut up! -- but I was so far behind that I failed out of fifth grade. I had a teacher that year who wasn't scared of my grandparents money and insisted I actually do the work...

Sooo.... I'm behind. A bit.

Who's your role model? Why?

I don't really do the role model thing. You know, if you go digging deep enough, most people are kinda assholes underneath. But there are some people I admire. One of them is David Pritchard. My driver slash bodyguard slash flunky. First off, have you seen the man? Oh my my my, he is fine. Couple years back, we got into a rough one -- some idiot actually tried to mug me. Me? Seriously. I couldn't believe it myself.

But that guy, he can really rock and roll. There's something about men of action, you know. And it's not like it is in the movies. David moves fast, and he's not playing pretty. If he can gain an advantage by pulling someone around by their hair, he'll do that. Watched him break that mugger's nose by swinging him around by the pony-tail and introducing him to a telephone pole. Fight went out of him real quick.

David's an okay guy; it's not his fault my grandparents think I need looking after. I pay him extra to keep his distance. He only really insists when I'm alone. Thus, the need to cultivate rather a lot of friends to hang out with.

To be honest, I think he watches me a lot closer than I'm really comfortable with. He seems to show up really fast when I need a ride.

What's your greatest fear?

Being alone. Stupid, huh? With all the friends I have. But I don't have anybody else. My grandparents are old, my mom is dead, and no one knows what happened to my father. My grandfather had a brother, my Great Uncle Ethan, but he passed on about eight years ago or so. I never knew him particularly well anyway. My grandfather has business partners and my grandmother has all those ladies charities that she works with, but I never seemed to have all those uncles and cousins and siblings that everyone else seems to have. Grams gets upset about it sometimes, seems to think that I won't ever have any children and that the company will be taken over by a board of directors when I'm gone.

You have no idea how sad that makes me, worrying about the company.

I've heard you've always been "out of the closet." Tell us about that.

You know, when I was a kid, I used to watch this show, Sabrina the teenaged witch, because I had a huge crush on an actor named Nate Richert? He played Harvey Kinkle. I used to entertain all sorts of daydreams that Sabrina had accidentally cast a spell on him that made him straight, and then if I actually met him, the spell would break and he'd be my boyfriend.

Take that look off your face and try to tell me you didn't think the same thing about Seeley Booth in Bones...

To be honest, I think my grandparents were so relieved that I'd started talking and mostly acting normal that it never occurred to them to worry about it that I was gay. It wasn't like I came out of the closet. I was never in there. When I crushed on someone, I just said so. I didn't really learn discretion until later.

So, what's your favorite band? Movie? Food?

Only if you don't make fun. I'm a big fan of James Blunt. He's got such a smooth voice, and it just... and Maroon 5. Have you seen Adam Levine's videos? That guy is trippy. I'm also a fan of a band called Rusted Root. One of my friends works at the campus radio station, she does some cool shows; she's a lot more musically educated than I am, but her show's on from 8 to 10 on Wednesdays. You should give it a listen.

Movies.... hmmm. I really like Stranger Than Fiction. Of course, anything with Emma Thompson in it tends to earn a watch-through from me, even that horrible thing where she plays a grouchy Mary Poppins... Nanny McFee or something like that.

Food? I'm easy. If it doesn't run away and I don't have to cook it, I'll eat what's put in front of me. Although I'll admit to a preference for anything that has barbeque sauce on it.


Roll is available now from Torquere Press, Amazon.Com, and other distributors, and will be available in print soon from Amazon.Com.

A farm boy from Tennessee, Beau Watkins spent high school living the dream: the cute girl, the popular, jock lifestyle, a loving family. As a freshman at an out-of-state college, he's determined to find out who he really is behind the Fake It 'Til You Make It attitude. He joins Rainbow Connection, the gay student alliance, hoping to find himself. Instead, he finds Vin Reyes. Raised by his grandparents and heir to a prosperous company, Vin has been out of the closet since he figured out what that meant. He has it all: fashionable clothing, fancy cars, huge houses, a real party lifestyle, and even a bodyguard. Most of all, he has a secret.

Uncomfortable with Vin's generosity, Beau fights his growing attraction for the president of Rainbow Connection, chasing instead a series of shallow affairs. Vin's never been denied anything that he wants, though, and now he wants Beau. But it's not until an old rival puts Beau in the hospital that Vin realizes that Beau means more to him than a simple love affair. Can the two of them bridge the gap between their worlds and roll with the all the punches life will throw at them?

Wednesday, February 5, 2014


Most writers have been told that the passive voice is a big no-no.

It's not always wrong, mind. It's particularly useful in technical reports when the subject is actually unimportant to the narrative and there's a desire for brevity, e.g.: The software was installed on the server.

And it can occasionally be useful in fiction to convey a feeling of helplessness or inability, e.g.: His measurements were taken, material and color decided upon, and the order was placed.

But too much passive voice tends to grate at readers, even if they're not sure why they're getting annoyed. In particular, I get jumped out of the narrative when I run into passive voice, largely because of something Lynn told me a while back.

She said that she learned to recognize passive voice by tacking " zombies" onto the end of a clause -- if it forms a useable sentence, then it's passive.

The comics were read... by zombies

For instance: "The comic book was read... by zombies" does.

That lesson lodged in my brain as amusing and useful, and now whenever I spot a passive statement, I automatically tack " zombies" onto the end of it. Which, given my usual editing material, leads to some pretty hysterical results.
Blankets were tugged around them... by zombies.

The hair was brushed from the back of his neck... by zombies.

His shirt was pushed over his head, his jeans and briefs tugged down... by zombies.

Warm kisses were pressed to his ass... by zombies.

His cock was squeezed in a firm, hot grip... by zombies.

I'm just saying, here, that if I'm your editor and you get a note from me in the margin pointing out that something is in the passive voice, I've mentally rewritten your scene to include some zombies.

So you might want to do something about that.