kais

01/27/20 - kais - Rings (L)(S) - 7500 words

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This is a short story for both my Patreon and for a lesbian audio drama podcast that requested a sweet Valentine’s story. It’s 7500 words so don’t feel like you need to read it all. I’d normally sub it in two sections but it is due by Sunday and likely makes more sense if read straight through. 

It’s meant to be mush. 100% amusement. It has explicit sexual content though no actual sex, and is mostly silliness and emotions. Perfect for Valentine’s Day, I hope.

For people new to the world - this is a short from a four book series. I’m interested in if you understand enough of the world to be invested in the two main characters. If you like the story.

For people familiar with the world, are the people in character? Did the romance line work? Is it an ending you wanted to see?

Thank you all!

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22 hours ago, kais said:

For people familiar with the world, are the people in character? Did the romance line work? Is it an ending you wanted to see?

Yes, yes, and definitely!

There were only a few sections I was confused with, mainly how the koalas were involved, why E was in danger, and what she knew at the start. I think if you clear up the first just a little more to show they're not actually connected, I'd read straight through this with no problems.

Overall, a funny and fulfilling story.

 

Notes while reading:

pg 2: "In the five years since"
--ah, was wondering when this took place. Although, still girlfriends after five years?

pg 2: "dubbed it."
--missing a quote

pg 3: Ah, good. The binding ceremony is a topic here.

pg 4: "stopped needing a third partner"
--I was looking for this explanation all through the books!

pg 7: "started producing fruit, which is…apparently not normal."
--huh...interesting. So this is fruit, from a race commonly accepted as gods... ;-)

pg 9: *fans self*

pg 11: The koalas are awesome.

pg 12: "had thought to tap them for something called ‘maple syrup’"
--Ha! That's great.

pg 14: "A tree ring."
--you can't hear me, but I'm groaning with A.

pg 15: "I have to go. E is in danger!"
--good tension, but I'm sort of confused why E is in danger and what A thinks it is.

pg 16: "The fruits have nothing to do with the koala infestation, I told you!"
--she did? Still not sure why they would be dangerous for E.

pg 19: confused. I get the path strewn with flowers and E leading A on, but how did E know A was going to come there? She was supposed to be at the port for a while yet, right?

pg 20: “The koalas,” ... “And the fruit.”
--so...did E manufacture all this? How did she know the koalas would make the fruit and the rings?

pg 27: so the koalas were actually there accidentally. Got confused there in the middle, but everything mostly got explained at the end.

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The overall plot and motivation of the story is good. It's a cute play on the proposal story. With koalas. :D

The errotica scenes suffered from a bit of "insert this in this" syndrome, which I think is talked about in Writing Excuses 7.38. Too much time is spent visually describing for my taste at least. It makes it feel a bit silly.

A lot of the world building was tough on me as a new reader, especially the first couple of pages which refer to events without actually describing what happened. I was totally lost. Things started to make sense about halfway through, where the monoculture is referred to. Of course, it's up to you to decide how much of the backstory to include, but just know I was lost for the first page or two and probably wouldn't have read farther without obligation.

 

Notes while reading:

I have not read the books, so I'll be reading from that perspective.

I did not follow any of the politics going on here. My working knowledge is that their planet has recently opened for colonization and now it's being overrun with immigrants? I'm guessing there's no free market, otherwise they could just use pricing to deal with this problem.

She just barely got here and now she's leaving again? This doesn't feel like any length of time. Put in some montages or something.

Why is everything made of andal? Food, soap, clothing starch... Do they not have any other plants?

Okay, I know this is a Valentine's story, but it seems like everything makes this character think about sex. This would be normal if this couple is new, but they seem more familiar than that. But maybe that's just me.

The paragraph explaining the markings feels a little late in the story. If it needs to be explained at all, seems it should be in the first scene.

"what design they should manufacture for this year’s synthetic s storage" - Why are the top government officials involved in this? This seems like a marketing thing.

Koalas - hilarious.

Ah, here's the explanation of the monoculture I needed in the beginning.

"because she did not have time bureaucratic crem dung," - Is there a 'for' missing here?

"I’m almost there. Just found the rope ladder" - I had assumed that this was E talking, since she just sent the eyeroll, but it doesn't make sense. So it must be A, and the dialogue signals are unclear here.

"a thick blush of waist-high red ferns." - Is blush a typo or . . .? Plus I thought the planet was a monoculture, so what are ferns doing here?

I'm gathering that the couple has some history with flare escapees, whatever those are.

Ah, I see now, E is a flare.

Oh, E is going to propose? I like this twist a lot.

"I’m talking about a having a bonded family." - Double 'a' in this sentence.

I'm confused: E is trying to go traditional, but at the beginning of the story, the politicians indicate that a third partner is traditional. It seems a big coincidence that both of them would want to do it this way, especially for E if she was brought up with that expectation. I need some explanation about this in the story.

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Nice to be reading in the Ard-verse again. I hope these comments are still of some use.

I'm emailing LBLs, so there is a lot of minor line comments in there that I won't clog up this thread with :) 

(page 1)

- There are 17 ways, but then they are identified as types, but I think there are only two types, Type 1, and Type 2, which has 16 variant ways (2 thru 17). I have my doubts about the description of the second type also, at first it seemed there was no distinction, until the sash was mentioned, and the bit about the girlfriend is an absolute: wear the robe or not, only two options, and so could not produce 16 different variants. As the opening of the story I think this needs to be tighter, the logic feels loose to me. It's so important to humour to be accurate, IMO; precise.

(page 2)

- Why does her feeling great lead to her standing next to the other two while they talk? I feel something's missing here, like 'Which is why she was standing...' not paying attention, or with a smile on her face.

- What does the place being a town/city (difference here, but both terms are used) have to do with diversity? The N's are there anyway, so the population is diverse.

(page 3)

- "feelings about the whole third party issue" - I like this as a conflict. I was wondering if this was just going to be a straightforward relationship story (which would have surprised me), but thankfully it seems anything but!

(page 5)

- "sudden haircut" - This sounds weird, and tells me little about the situation. It sounds everyday, and not something relevant to crisis.

(page 6)

- "busy unwinding a day’s tension" - but she's only been in the chamber a short time, hardly the tension of an entire day.

(page 9)

- In the 'making out' scene, I have a lot of comments about word choice. I feel many of the key words are not erotic or sensual at all 'grabbed', 'snuck', 'crashed'. These are ugly, forceful words. I need this to be much more sensual and word choice is the way to do that, IMO.

(page 10)

- "I have a meeting in the morning" - Who does? Unclear from lack of dialogue tag.

- "had sex" - the directness (let's call it) is not what I look for in this sort of arc. Seems to me it's about romance and commitment, and the passion that comes with that,. I feel the directness undermines that.

(page 11)

- There are four sentences starting with 'So' on this page; that's three too many, IMO.

(page 12)

- "koalas" - Lol, yes. I'm fine with this in a way that I'm not about the rabbits in Q. I think it's down to overall tone. I always felt Ar has a freewheeling, almost humours and relaxed tone that I never got from Q.

- ...but, if this becomes all about the koala, I'm walking out. It's a cute detail, but not as a/the major theme, IMO.

(page 13)

- "Fruit" - Grudgingly, I will say that this week much more organic, much more woven into the arc of the story in terms of foreshadowing, then the rabbits in Q.

(page 14)

- "roughly the size of her head" - This threw me off completely. Surely this is too big for a koala to eat? Surely, they don't eat such large things in the wild? They eat leaves, don't they?

- Also, how did the koalas get here? It seems they have no keepers, so is the implication that they piloted the ship themselves (maybe I overlooked something)?!!! This implies some intelligence. Is there a 'keeper' somewhere?

- "small pocket knife from her boot and sliced the fruit in half" - I really think the fruit is too big. This would be a major exercise with a small knife. She'd need to put it down, hack all the way around and the middle would still be joined. I think there's a big issue with scale here (pun intended).

- "A tree ring." - Mmmm, but is it? E would know that if she said 'tree ring' to Ata, Ata would think dendochronologically, yet E did not correct her, or explain. This seems unlikely to me, and feels like author ex machina.

(page 16)

- "E is in danger!" - I'm not completely clear what type or scale of danger she is in. Is it purely because at thinks these creatures will mob her a rip her to bits? I'm struggling with that a bit. They don't seem antagonistic, in the sense that they would mob together and attack (like say, ooh, I don't know, MTs for example :ph34r:).

(Page 18)

- "boot slipped on one of the woven rungs" - Eh? I thought E was climbing the ladder? At is still gasping up the hill to the top of the town, surely?

- "What was the use of being a god..." - :lol: 

- "good spot to do it" - I'd say I've been thinking this is a reverse play by E for three of four pages now, basically when the rings appeared in the first place (and I wasn't sure what size they were. at first).

(page 19)

- "was in a dress" - Yup, it's coming. Suspicion confirmed!

(page 20)

- Good emotional tone in this build it. Surprising yet inevitable that this was what we were leading up to.

(page 25)

- "gold" - Oh, nice touch. Well done. Very satisfying.

(page 27)

- I think the last two lines need work. I don't think they're satisfying enough. Don't think I've every heard E swear, so that feels out of character. And 'word poorly' is grammatically lax. I realise verbing a noun can work as a counterintuitive punchline for humourous purposes, but I think it awkward at the end, a cheap shot when we need everything to be just right.

Overall 

Good story. Effective arc, nice pacing. Great to be back with a couple (plus brief glimpses) of familiar characters. I thought the pages around the gazebo could do with more work. There was a lot of stuttering and random thoughts flying around. Just a bit flabby maybe; I think the ending can be tighter.

Very satisfying overall though. Good job.

All the LBLs by email.

Thanks for sharing :)  

Edited by Robinski
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Sorry, I keep posting / editing above. I'm not finished (clearly), but I'm having cut-and-paste issues and need to navigate away from the page    : O /

Edited by Robinski
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On 1/28/2020 at 8:23 AM, Mandamon said:

mainly how the koalas were involved, why E was in danger, and what she knew at the start. I

Ah okay. Yes. There's that 'discovery writer' issue creeping in again. I'm going to foreshadow the koalas a bit more, give a bit more explanation at the landing pad, and better explain A's thoughts in why she needs to get to E.

On 1/28/2020 at 8:23 AM, Mandamon said:

I was looking for this explanation all through the books!

I'd been waffling about how much of it to discuss in the books because polyamory is sort of a not preferred topic in the lesfic community. But I think it's time, especially since both E and A's worlds have three parent family structures

On 1/28/2020 at 8:23 AM, Mandamon said:

So this is fruit, from a race commonly accepted as gods

Crossover potential accepted

Thank you for the quick read! Putting the final edits on this and uploading tonight! Glad it had good emotional resonance for people who have read the series.

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21 hours ago, lizbusby said:

The errotica scenes suffered from a bit of "insert this in this" syndrome

Yeah, writing sex scenes is not generally in my wheelhouse. I'm excited to listen to that podcast. Unfortunately won't have time until after this is due.

21 hours ago, lizbusby said:

A lot of the world building was tough on me as a new reader, especially the first couple of pages which refer to events without actually describing what happened

Ah, this was really useful to know. For the Patreon it won't be an issue because everyone there is familiar with the world. For the audio part the owner has requested a world synopsis before the story begins, so I'll be adding that so I don't have to bog down the narrative with worldbuilding from four books. It's very helpful to know, from a new reader, what worked and what didn't.

21 hours ago, lizbusby said:

but it seems like everything makes this character think about sex.

LOL it's actually a joke, because the romance between these two started in book one and it took three books for them to do anything substantial. I still get emails about that from fans. So, I try to have them 'put out' more in the shorts. Fan service and all

21 hours ago, lizbusby said:

I need some explanation about this in the story.

Yup. Will definitely add more on this. Thank you, and for catching all the typos!

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11 hours ago, Robinski said:

I'm emailing LBLs, so there is a lot of minor line comments in there that I won't clog up this thread with

Got them! Thank you!

11 hours ago, Robinski said:

I feel something's missing here, like 'Which is why she was standing...' not paying attention, or with a smile on her face.

Quite right. Fixed!

11 hours ago, Robinski said:

something relevant to crisis.

Ah good call. Will reword

11 hours ago, Robinski said:

I need this to be much more sensual and word choice is the way to do that, IMO.

Okay yes, this is a relatively easy fix

11 hours ago, Robinski said:

I always felt Ar has a freewheeling, almost humours and relaxed tone that I never got from Q.

This is very true! Ard is very campy space opera, whereas Q is a bit more heavy and serious. Sometimes I miss the ease with which I can write in the Ard world. It never takes itself very seriously

11 hours ago, Robinski said:

They don't seem antagonistic, in the sense that they would mob together and attack (like say, ooh, I don't know, MTs for example :ph34r:).

@Mandamon noted this too, so I've changed it up a bit and clarified

11 hours ago, Robinski said:

"was in a dress" - Yup, it's coming. Suspicion confirmed!

Generally speaking, when a lesbian (baring lipstick lesbians) puts on a dress, you are either in deep trouble, or about to be proposed to. 

11 hours ago, Robinski said:

but I think it awkward at the end, a cheap shot when we need everything to be just right.

Ahhh okay yes, I will work on this. I want it to be just right and if people are bouncing off it, that's not great.

Thank you so much! I'm so please with this little short and hope the audio reading brings in some new readers!

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12 hours ago, kais said:

when a lesbian (baring lipstick lesbians) puts on a dress, you are either in deep trouble, or about to be proposed to

I'll bear this in mind.

12 hours ago, kais said:

I'm so please with this little short and hope the audio reading brings in some new readers!

You should be, it's fun, and very on tone. Are you reading it for the audio?

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7 hours ago, Robinski said:

You should be, it's fun, and very on tone. Are you reading it for the audio?

Nope. It was requested for a podcast for lesbian short stories and I thought hey, why not? I needed something for Patreon this month anyway!

It'll be interesting to hear it read by people not familiar with the universe. I'm so used to my audiobook narrator's voice now that I don't know if I can imagine At or E any other way!

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9 minutes ago, kais said:

I'm so used to my audiobook narrator's

So, it's someone you know, who knows the pronunciation of the names, etc.?

Where can we access it? Will you post a link when the podcast is up? (Or send a PM?)

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Gah, sorry. I wish I’d seen (or that my brain had processed) your comment about it being due Sunday sooner, I somehow got it in my head that your deadline was a little later in February. Although the way my week has gone, it may not have made a difference. Hopefully the comments are in enough time to be of at least some use!

In answer to your questions: yes, yes, and yes.

I think @Mandamon was right about clearing up the beginning bits to show that the koalas aren’t actually connected. I had also assumed that they were and that we were going to get some kind of unexpected symbiosis story.

I’m debating whether it takes a little too long to get to what I initially assumed was going to be a major, if not the main, thread, the infestation. I wasn’t bored during those initial pages, and it’s probably perfectly appropriate to leave as-is given that it’s a Valentine’s Day theme, but I did feel like it took a little

As I go:

“Everyone and their eight-fingered uncle...” Love this phrase.

P3 “...only reproduce during our second...” end of line of dialogue needs a full stop.

P4 “Yeah well I’m a N...” comma after “well”?

P8 “An help her why did she” … another comma after “her”

I was quite surprised after the scene change to be immediately confronted with mysterious aliens, rather than the houseboating Terrans who were supposedly the reason for A’s trip. Also, I really hope they’re non-sentient (though that raises more questions about how they got here) because they’re being talked about like livestock. In a novel, I don’t think I would have noticed, because novels don’t have the same kind of focus and I might expect a similar time skip there. In the context of a short, though, it’s jarring.

P10 “its shape too close to the … style than A liked” either “its shape closer … than A liked” or something along the lines of “too close … for A’s comfort”

Wait. Wait wait wait wait wait. Are these koalas

THEY ARE KOALAS I LOVE THIS PREMISE SO MUCH

Koalas don’t have tails, though. They do have comparatively thick fur on their rumps and a cartilage pad.

More practically though, I am wondering how quickly these four shipments arrived. Unless those shipments came in really quickly you’d think somebody would have sent this screaming to the top somewhere between the first shipment and “koalas are mean when they’re sober and also we have an infestation now.”

Plus, didn’t they come with, um, some sort of customs declaration? Shipping and handling instructions? Something? How does the planet handle incoming shipments?

P13, Ar’s line of telepathic dialogue noting that the trees seem preoccupied should be in italics.

Okay, so it’s been a month since the koalas got out. Again I’m wondering why on earth this hasn’t been escalated to A and her colleagues before now.

P15 “well that’s clear” comma police here, another one after “well”

I had figured the koalas would get equally high on the indigenous trees as they do on eucalyptus, otherwise why would they spread out as far as they apparently have?

P16 “the emotional imprint of an eyeroll” lol.

P20 “Traditionally, Ard provided them, through the an” closing quote mark needed

A’s nervousness as she accepts E's proposal is really very endearing.

Good ending!

On 1/31/2020 at 2:17 PM, kais said:
On 1/28/2020 at 8:23 AM, Mandamon said:

So this is fruit, from a race commonly accepted as gods

Crossover potential accepted

omg yes please

Edited by Silk
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I've never read your books before, but I gotta say, I loved this excerpt!  Usually I'm not one for (what I call) "blatant" romance in sci-fi and fantasy, and usually I steer clear of anything sexual if I can... I just don't normally enjoy reading it.  I can't avoid it entirely, but for me if the romance isn't handled well, it can ruin everything else about the book/story.  I didn't think that of your writing.  I found myself immediately invested in your characters and enjoying your world.  Also it didn't read like 7500 words to me... it read more like 3k and I think that really says something.  I didn't feel the length of it, which meant it was a sort of pleasant but unexpected surprise when it ended.

Now, I've only read a few of the comments before mine, and though I don't want to contradict anything that you might find helpful, I do want to say that, as someone who has never read your work before and knows nothing about your world or characters, I actually didn't find myself lost at the supposed lack of world building in script.  In fact, I felt there was just enough of it that I felt immersed in the world and story and could picture it clearly in my head without feeling like I was having information dumped on me.  I LOVED the bit about the Koalas, and actually didn't feel like they were at all misplaced in the story or disjointed with it.  I felt like they tied in nicely with A's concerns about E too, in the fact that A knows nothing about Koalas and for all she knows they are absolutely vicious flesh eating/rending monsters (once they are not hyped up on eucalyptus), and if they spread from somehow being on what I must assume is a sort of species-saving ark of a space craft to the rest of sentient planet full of sentient trees, A would have every reason to be concerned about her love who is at that moment planning something in the middle of a grove of trees.  The only question I really had on that point was, how could there be so many?  I don't know much about Koalas (ok, hardly anything about them at all), but from what I can tell they pretty much only exist outside of Australia in zoos... and I don't know how many actually are projected to exist in Australia, but from what I can graze, it might be a couple thousand but probably not an absolutely massive amount that could take over an entire planet... unless the planet is pretty small.

The only real thing I had an issue with was how fast the end was resolved.  It was a beautiful ending to be sure, but it somehow felt just a bit forced and rushed to me.  That could be entirely because you were trying to keep it within a word limit so it might not be something you have to worry too much about.  I also wasn't entirely satisfied with out much A stumbled over her words when she seemed perfectly articulate earlier.  Granted, a surprise like the one E gave her could quite easily cause her to go speechless... I could see that. *grin*.  But I guess what I mean is, I'm not sure how well it fit her character to sound so awkward. (Again, this coming from someone who hasn't read any of your past material, so take it as you will. :)

Besides that, I'd say this work needs a bit of a spit-n'-polish; there were a good amount of typos sprinkled throughout the text.  You may have already caught them by this point, or someone else may have already pointed them out to you.  But I think if those are fixed, this is really a great piece! 

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On 2/1/2020 at 10:59 AM, Robinski said:

Where can we access it? Will you post a link when the podcast is up? (Or send a PM?)

I'll post the link here when it goes up! I think that will be Valentine's Day, but not sure entirely. 

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