In Search of Search Terms

Remember back in the day when you could actually see what search terms brought people to your website? (If you don’t remember, read this glorious post from Hyperbole and a Half. Go on, I’ll wait for you.

Ok, so like I was saying- remember that? We don’t have that anymore, thanks to encrypted search terms, and it saddens me. I would really love to know what search terms are bringing people to my blog.

I’m going to leave this post a sticky for a while, in the hopes that you, the readers, will help me out.

What search terms, if any, brought you to my site?

Feel free to leave a comment here, or message me directly using the contact from on my About page if you’d rather.

Thanks guys! I’m looking forward to the results. 😀


Bird Takes a job part 2

Had this bit polished up before I started working on the collection calls pieces, so here’s this while I keep working on things I can’t talk about yet. 😛

The irony of a serpent called Bird going after what was basically a cobra with wings was not lost on him. In fact, he rather liked it. He was the only “feather snake” allowed-the rest should and would be dead. Wyverns had been hunted to extinction for a reason, and it was likely that if any did remain, it was probably one of those freakish hybrid experiments the Dai had wanted him for. They deserved to be out down, put out of their mangled-magic misery. And if it turned out it was just some lingering long-lost descendant claiming more might than was his due-well, Bird would enjoying putting that elitist pile of crap down too. No, any way he looked at it, this kid needed to die, and he was just the man to do it. The only good cobra is Me, he thought as he dialed his sometimes partner’s cell.

“Hey Thal, you still got that place in New York?”

“Yes, and it’s 3 a.m. here, why the devil are you calling me?”

“Contract, stateside. Want somewhere to crash for a few days while I sort out the rumors from the really stupid rumors.”

Thal snorted into his phone. He hadn’t actually been asleep, but if he could get Bird off the blasted phone sooner rather than later, he’d be happier.

“Fine. You can use my place as a landing pad.”

“Excellent. Don’t suppose I could talk you into picking me up from the airport.”


“How long is a flight from London to New York?”

“I’m hanging up now, Bird.”

“See you when I land, sweetie.”

He’d been doing Dai clean up for the past couple centuries. Truth be told, he’d been doing it for the entirety of his career. But it had only recently become officially known as “clean up”, since the Dai’s final destruction in the late 1700’s. Before then, revenge had just been his own quirky little hobby.

Either way, it was his known specialty, so he saw no harm in telling Thal that he was here on another “die the Dai”.

“It’s all been very cloak and dagger,” he said, once he’d gotten back into the car with his gyro. Gods, the street food was always the best part about visiting Thal. Almost made him want to get his own place here. Almost. “I nearly didn’t take this stupid job, cause they couldn’t verify with any of my usuals. But from what I can gather, it’s high profile, everyone wants it done but no one wants to be the one to do it.”

Tzatziki dribbled down his chin, and Bird made an exaggerated moan in delight. “Gods, man. I should work on this side of the puddle more often. Best food.” Thal just handed him a napkin and glared, which was about all Thal ever did.

“If you get that all over my car, you’ll pay the cleaning bill.”

“Alright, alright.” Bird flapped a hand at him, but did wipe his face. “I do appreciate the favor you’re doing me-though I can’t imagine what you’ve got against Greek food.” He offered the sandwich up towards Thal’s face, making him grimace. “Would you try it in a car, would you try it at a titty bar?”

“I will leave your sorry ass on the side of the road. You can hitchhike wherever it is your assignment is at.” Thal managed to growl between gritted teeth. “Sleep under an overpass, I’m sure the concrete will be warm enough.”

“Spoil sport,” Bird muttered, taking another bite. Only after chewing and swallowing did he say more loudly, “That was sort of the plan, actually. Though I thought I’d sleep in a bus or something. Open camping doesn’t agree with my delicate skin.”

Thal snorted. “With that thick hide you’d be fine on a bed of nails.”

Bird made a rude noise and tucked back into his gyro, completely ignoring the sauce that covered his face and hands. Xen greedily lapped at the agitation thick in the car, urging him to goad Thal again. Bird wasn’t in the mood. For whatever reason, the demon couldn’t feed on emotions Bird felt about Xen directly, and his annoyance with the demon seemed to chase it off. Finally, no longer egged on by supernaturally interference, Bird cleaned up fastidiously and got to the point.

“I need connections to a nest. You in with any locals?”

“Mm … I know a few. What sort of line are you looking for?” Thal flicked his turn signal, heading back towards the flat.

“Serpents, preferably. Travelers at any rate.”

He watched the buildings go by, thinking without being aware of his thoughts. He was brooding, but he had no idea what over. That happened sometimes, often resulting in some of his best work. So he let his thoughts churn on without him, and watched the scenery.

They passed a park, with an ancient mansion towering over it. Bird wasn’t sure why it caught his attention, but the thought was gone as soon as it came anyways. He’d process this all in due time, so for now, he just let the city wash over him.

“Traveling serpents…” He muttered. But his thoughts were already turning, flicking through names and faces.

“Mm, there’s one that doesn’t have a home base, but they are in town at the moment, the Westside nest is hosting them. I can probably put you in contact with their lead sometime tonight.”


He couldn’t focus. Something was nagging at him, at the edges, and it was driving him to distraction. He knew poking at it wouldn’t make it any clearer, but he didn’t know how much longer he could “not think about it” without going bonkers.

“You wanna go out tonight?”

Thal just stared at him, and honestly, Bird was just as surprised he’d said it. It was beyond abrupt, but it was a course of action, so he seized on it. “It’s been ages, and I could use a good round to help against the jet lag. I’d buy,” he added as an afterthought.

“Well, if you’re buying.”

Thal pulled a smooth course correction and the left the park and mysterious mansion behind.

Moving forward

Some days, the words won’t come. Some days, the words that do come are Wrong Ones, and you just know it in your bones that these words are going to be struck from the page, re-written, revised, or otherwise changed. It can be hard to go on in the face of such knowledge, hard to ignore that sense of “wasting time”. But I have a motto that gets me through such moments.

Get the bones down.

Sometimes, you have to acknowledge that the words are not the Right Words, but they are the words that are moving you forward. And sometimes, you have to take snark breaks in mid-flow, just to keep that snotty little demon of doubt quite in the backseat. Notes like this:

Yvie woke in darkness for the second time that day. Usually, she didn’t mind, but this whole lack of insight into the world around her thing was getting old. [ TK gross, don’t like it, clean up, but follow this rabbit while it’s leading you] Her head throbbed from the psychic beating she’d taken, and she doubted she’d have been able to feel anyone in the room with her anyways [ TK gross gross gross I hate this! Who are you Yvie? What should your voice be?] But she wasn’t going to just lay there and cry about it… at least, not for more than just a minute or two. Honestly, it was kind of nice to be able to just cry a little and not have a dozen people fawning all over her to try to make it better. She was fine, damn it, she just needed to cry about it a little bit. She’d been frightened, attacked, and abandoned. That was worth shedding a few tears over.

Bird Takes a Job

Lawrence Crane was a terrible name for an assassin. Not the worst he’d ever heard, and it was certainly bland compared to some of the other pseudonyms Bird had come up with over the years, but that was part of the problem. It lacked a certain panache, but it had earned a reputation that surely made up for any lack-luster qualities the name itself possessed. Besides, Bird enjoyed the humor of it, even if the joke was strictly private. Anyone that might have understood was long since dead.

“Mr. Crane?”

Oh, right. He was supposed to be paying attention. The man across from him was a medium blah, boring and average in every way. He was going for unremarkable, and hitting that mark with such accuracy that it was actually problematic. Then again, Bird was a bit of an authority when it came to illusions, so maybe he was being too hard on the hellspawn.

“More dim sum?” The golem asked. When Bird shook his head, the golem pushed the dish aside and pulled out a stack of papers, tapping it on the sticky table. Tacky- both the mannerism and now the papers. Bird sighed, muttering the golem’s next words under his breath.

“Right to business then.” Pass the papers. “My employers would like to blah blah blah.” Bird snatched the dossier from the golem’s hand, sighing as it kept right on with it’s speech, even down to extending it’s empty hands to give Bird the file he’d already taken.

“Xen,” he said distractedly as he leafed through the pages and pages of words. “Wound you get this thing’s owner on the line please? You know how I hate answering machines.”

A coil of inky thought uncurled from the nest of shadows in the back of Bird’s mind. The demon didn’t literally reside there, but it was a useful visualization. It had kept Bird from going crazy thus far.

Xen stretched, yawned, and made a big show of having been asleep. Bird gestured to the still speaking golem, tossing a pointed look in its direction. Any time now, Xen. He knew his demon knew what he wanted, but that didn’t stop Xen from playing games. It did keep Bird from further reaction, though. Getting cross would only give the damned thing a snack when it hadn’t earned one. So he scanned the dossier, looking for anything vaguely interesting. So far, this was shaping up to be a waste of time.


The abrupt change in the golem’s tone earned Bird’s immediate attention. Ignoring golems was one thing. Ignoring clients was a stupid show of arrogance that lost more than it gained.

He couldn’t tell anything from the sound or appearance—neither of which had changed, except for demeanor—about who he was now speaking to. Probably not an actual demon then, as they tended to be show-offs (and that earned a rumbling displeasure from Xen), but he wouldn’t rule it out. As with any unknown, best to be polite.

“Thank you for taking my call.” He didn’t leave the sentence hanging, inviting the speaker to name themselves. If his contact wanted Bird to know who they were, they’d say so. Instead, he moved brusquely forward.

“I only work through certain agents, as I’m sure you know. Your golem has yet to identify which party it represents.”

“We’re not with your usual agents,” the agitated voice cut in. Female? Hard to say through the “male” golem’s voice. “But we did purchase a one time pass. However, your agent prefers not to be associated with this job in any way, unless it is successfully completed.”

“Uhuh.” Bird was bored again, uninterested in taking a suicide run. Because that was the only reason none of them would claim this. Should he survive, Bird would be calling the complaint hotline. Or executing someone. Or both.

“I assure you,” she continued, “we have met all the proper requirements. It is the nature of the targets, not the mission, that is the cause of your agent’s reluctance. Success or failure, either one is unacceptable by your agent’s public face.

Ah, one of the politicians then. The target would be well known then, and that presented its own set of challenges. The thing Bird was really beginning to wonder was,

“Why me?”

The golem blinked once, twice, and when it spoke again, Bird knew the speaker had been female, because the new speaker was definitely male, and definitely demonic. Or otherwise unworldly powerful.

“The target is ex-Dai, and your reputation precedes you.”

Oh. So that was it. Another clean up job. But it did recapture his attention, as his contact knew it would. Bird settled back and crossed his arms, going frighteningly calm as Xen greedily ate up his seething rage.

“I’m listening.”

“There is a growing problem with supposedly extinct chimera emerging in a certain nest. It’s led by a mate of wyverns masquerading as mere shifters—a hawk and cobra, to be exact—with a suspected mara or dragon lieutenant. The lieutenant is not a target, but I can’t imagine he’ll take kindly to you assassinating his nest leaders, so keep that in mind. Our order is researching the possibility of payment for him. We’ll keep you updated on any contracts we can arrange. We have reason to believe the cobra is ex-Dai, which I’m sure comes as no surprise, so the usual buyers are interested if you can recover him alive.”

His contact held up a hand to forestall any interruptions. “I know, I know. They’ve already been informed of your policy on Dai captures. My employer still recommended we seek you out for this contract, given the number of high-powered targets involved. It’s currently a non-competitive contract, at least on our end, but these people have made a lot of enemies, so we make not guarantees.”

“Are you done?”

The contact nodded, pushed back from the table, and abruptly left. They tended to talk too much as it was, and he was grateful this one didn’t waste any time on goodbyes. The golem blinked stupidly as it reset itself, falling back on default exit protocol. Bird got up and left it in the middle of its “so happy to have met you,” spiel. He suddenly wasn’t in the mood for kung pao.

It Runs in the Family

Pain tore through her gut like a knife.

She hated that that was the first place her mind went. It seemed so melodramatic, so cliche—but she also knew first hand how that felt, and that was exactly it. Claws were messier, less concentrated, more a general fiery haze of pain. This was single, piercing, and specific. A sharp line of pain ran from left to right, just along the hem of her jeans, crossing beneath her bellybutton.

She wondered, after her first shift, if that was a coincidence. Did the demand to change shape happen behind her belly button because it was what she considered her center, or because that had been body’s tether to life for the nine months her human body had been forming, and her wolf body longed to be reborn?

But now, Hazel didn’t wonder much of anything. She shoved back from the desk, darting to the bathroom across the hall so she didn’t wreck havoc on her laptop. She didn’t have time for this shit. She had a paper due by Monday and would be working well into the late shift Saturday and Sunday.

The shift was just going to have to wait.

At thirteen, it had been so much easier to excuse herself from the world—and almost impossible to control the shifts into wolf form. The “genetic predisposition to seizures” had seemed like such a pretty lie when her body had first tried to turn itself inside out during a round of dodgeball. Her parents had explained calmly to the principal when they’d picked her up from school, and just as calmly told her the truth on the drive home. She came from a long line of werewolves. They’d hoped the family curse would skip her, but clearly it hadn’t, so here was what to expect. The “your body is changing” talk to the nth degree.

Random bouts of intense pain at unpredictable intervals for the next twenty to sixty years. It depends on what route your metabolism takes, they’d said. If you lean more towards human, this will pass with menopause. The same was true if she leaned toward the shifter half of her lineage—shifters just lived two or three times as long, and so their fertility period adjusted accordingly.

But again, these thoughts were miles away, compared to the desperate reality of the here and now. Such memories would drift through her mind as she lay panting in the aftermath of the muscle spasms, assuming she managed to keep this shift at bay through the weekend.

She’d promised her beast she’d take the day off come Tuesday. Labs were canceled this week, and she could afford to miss at least two more days of art history, if she didn’t recover in time. She’d drive out to the lake Monday afternoon as soon as psych was over, and let the animal run wild.

Of course, the animal wasn’t really the sort to be bargained with. Only mastered.

Hazel knelt on the sticky bathroom rug, breathing in the smells of damp and sweat and soap. The shower curtain needed changing, she could smell the mildew starting to build. No, shut the nose down. Look around, think with your eyes, think like a primate. Look at the tile, find a face in the patterns. Think about people.

Her nail polish was chipping. Yes, that was good. Nice, vain, human thoughts. She stared at the aqua polish, soothing against the purple fuzzy rug. Caribbean blue, according to the label. Oceans, pina coladas, plastic furniture, suntan oil. Nothing like the woods by the lake.

The pain eased off a bit, and Hazel sat back on her haunches—heels. Sat back on her heels. She fished her phone out of her pocket and turned on some electronic trance music, some video remix or another. Soothing stuff, peaceful like. But utterly devoid of any natural sound. The low bass and synthesizer notes echoed off the tile, filling the small space with a subdued beat. Hazel slowed her breathing, went back to kneeling on all fours, and began to work through a yoga routine to stretch her knotted muscles.

The pain growled to life as she arched her back, urging her to stretch out her forepaws and raise her muzzle to the sky. Blue nail polish, she thought furiously, locking her eyes on her very human hands. She arched the other way, feeling her spine elongate, and the bones seemed to push through her skin, out into the air behind her, helpfully offering the balance of a tail. Hazel pushed her butt up against the wall. No tail, just jeans with stupid little rhinestone detailing that sometimes pushed through the fabric to pinch her. Human butt, human hands, blue nail polish.

Finally, the pain receded enough she could stand. She dropped into a forward bend, staring at the orange nail polish on her toes. Blue and orange. Color theory. Contrasts. Hands and feet are different. Not all paws. Hands are for knitting, typing, doing up buttons, driving cars. Feet are for cramming into painful shoes, spending long hours standing on them at work, wrapping in brightly patterned hand-knit socks.

She reached high, feeling the long stretch from flat footed feet to dexterous fingertips. Fingers were clever, for reaching. Toes were stubby, but good for balance on two legs. Fingers were terrible for walking on. Spines were for reaching up, up, upward. Careful posture. Books on your head. Trays of drinks in your hand. Upright.

She skipped the up and downward dog poses, moving into the more complex shapes of the warriors. No animal ever moved like this. These shapes were for human ferocity—the bow, the sword, the tools that replaced claws and teeth. She was fierce, she was cunning, and she was these things because of her human mind, not her animal instincts.

Then, balancing poses. Up on one foot, she was calm, centered. There was no room for pain. Pain would disrupt her balance. She willed it to retreat, pulling it into a ball with each inhalation. No time for pain. The human master of this body had human things to do. Research, writing, revision. Showers, blow dryers, make up. Taking orders, making money, rolling silverware into tight little bundles of napkins.

Finally, finally, she could move and bend and flex without even a twinge. She stared in the mirror for a long time, noting the smallness of her upturned nose, the close set of her wide, dark eyes. The curve of her little bow mouth and the way her too-pointed chin always seemed to thrust out somewhat defiantly. The brown hair she kept styled long but unobtrusive, easy to style into braids and ponytails and other shapes that hair was never meant to fall naturally in. Vain human manipulations.

Satisfied that none of her features had slipped, she went out to the kitchen and put the kettle on. She carefully measured three teaspoons of her mother’s herbal loose leaf, not because it needed careful dosing, but because the exacting effort was just one more silly human trait. Likewise, she counted the three minutes of steeping by the second, vocalizing the numbers and picturing them in her head. When the brew was done, she sipped at it carefully, then went back upstairs to her paper.

The beast was caged. For now.

The Big Question

Not that big question. 😛

I was lying awake thinking about stories–as I often do–trying to come up with a unifying factor of stories I’ve deemed “good”. What I ended up doing instead was realizing that every story can be distilled down into one sentence:

I thought X thing was true, and now that I’ve learned its not, here’s how my life changes.

Yes, that’s very vague, and often an oversimplification, but that’s kind of the point. Sometimes, we need that very simple bullet point to figure out what we’re doing and how best to tell it. A lot of my favorite stories are “I thought I didn’t need anybody, but it turns out I was just afraid of losing them so I didn’t love at all,” and then the delightful mess that comes of them denying that, begrudgingly accepting it, becoming stronger for it.

If you can answer this question for your story, it’ll really inform the progression from point A to point B. It’s a good measuring tape for what to keep and what to toss, what to develop and what to tinker with.

Another subquestion I came to is unique to worldbuilding stories, and it’s the simplest of all: Where does X come from? Paired with the “I thought X and I was wrong”, you have a guiding point for your vehicle character and the plot you need to guide them through to answer you “where does X come from?” Under this lens, the Hollows series is for answering the question “Where do witches come from?” From book to book, we follow the heroine’s “I thought X” of coming to terms with losing loved ones and learning that it’s okay to be vulnerable, but over the series as a whole, all the things that come to light basically answer the question of where Hollows witches come from (and the answer will totally surprise you! Go read it. So good.)

It was actually pretty fun trying to apply these lenses to my favorite books. Harry Potter becomes “I thought I was a normal boy but I was wrong.” The Raven Cycle, “I thought I needed Glendower but I was wrong.” Anita Blake, “I thought I knew who the monsters were.” The Dresden Files, “I thought I knew so much.” Give it a try with your favorite works. Let me know what you come up with.

RaevenlyWrites Roundup

Hey! I’m kind of all over the place, so I thought I’d do a roundup of the main places you can find me (long story short, just search raevenlywrites, I’m probably there lol)

This, obviously, is my main wordpress, a good place for shorts and wip excerpts This is my main internet presence. It’s a wild mashup, as most tumblrs are. But it’s probably the best place for the most up to date info on yours truly, as well as shorts and wips that don’t always make it to the rest of the web Asylum’s web serial home, also a good place for shorts and wip excerpts Home of the #RaevReads readalongs

I post to both pretty much within minutes of each other, so pick your preference. I try to get something up at least once a month. Mostly sketches and selfies Asylum has it’s own moodboard section, and also, the beginning of my witchy stuff. Speaking of witchy… My witchblr! Mostly tarot

Raevenly Writes: Eyes in the Ivy

Ruth blinked at the tendrils climbing the outside of the little brick house. He’d seen a dozen just like it, more or less, in the months he’d been house hunting with Kate. It wasn’t that he minded living at Asylum, exactly, he just…

He was never going to get over certain expectations. It wasn’t that his mom wanted grandbabies (she did, and wasn’t at all subtle about it), or that his dad kept showing him job openings in this or that area (hadn’t he mentioned once that he’d love to see Oregon?). It was Ruth himself. He’d grown up with this idea of who he was going to be, and so much of that had had to change. Rethink. Compromise. Some of it couldn’t be helped. But some of it…

He wanted to marry Kate. He wanted to start a family, have a yard, a dog, do things right. Because he loved her. Living at Asylum didn’t change that, just… This was just how he understood loving someone. It wasn’t about control, or fitting in, it was just what he knew. So he got the ring, took the knee, popped the question. She’d said yes, and hadn’t made fun of him for being so old fashioned. She’d said yes to moving out, getting their own place, yes to a mudoku, the protective spell charm that all witches made as part of their wedding ceremony. That’s just how it went. So he was house hunting, going through the list of possibles and checking the energy, the aura, the ley lines—

And the ivy.

The ivy that blinked back.

Ruth did a double take—a double, double take, really—and leaned in to peer closer at the eyes between the leaves. Because there were eyes. Those were totally, unmistakably eyes. In the ivy.

As he leaned in, a stray tendril brushed across his face, almost like a caress. Great. The freaky eye-plant was trying to reassure him. Ruth rolled his eyes heavenward, as if asking the fat, heavy rain clouds for help. They stayed stubbornly grey and unresponsive. Well, at least it wasn’t actively raining on him.

Movement rustled in the leaves, drawing Ruth’s attention back to the ivy. And the eyes. They weren’t human eyes, and they weren’t even that many. Just the occasional flash of iridescence, the wink of movement, the uncanny action that made the vines seem alive. Well, more motile than a plant should be, anyway.

Another vine reached out, brushing under his nose. Ruth sneezed. The eyes scattered.

Wings. A cloud of shimmering, rainbow iridescent wings. With great big eye spots on each one. Of course. What had he been expecting? Pixies? No such thing, far as he knew. Granted, one of his teachers at Asylum was an overgrown daffodil, but eyes in the ivy? Just a family of luminescent moths, winging their way to less exciting pastures.

The too-friendly ivy would have to go. It was totally uncommon for plantlife to react to his moods, but moving around was just too weird. It spoke of something less than normal in its background, and wasn’t something he wanted in his personal garden. God, personal garden. Was he really considering this place?

The leylines were sound, near enough to tap but not so close that they’d wreck havoc on his plants. The neighborhood was quiet—mostly shifter, but that certainly didn’t bother him. He paused for a moment to wonder if his witchiness would bother them… But then, whoever had lived here previous had had freaking living ivy. Moving ivy. Whatever.

“Wouldn’t harvest that if I were you, witch boy.”

Ruth sighed. Ask and ye shall receive. He turned to face the “helpful” neighbor. “Wasn’t planning on it, ma’am. Just following up on the “For Rent” sign.” He gestured toward the front yard.

“That’s fey ivy. Wouldn’t do you any good no how.”

Ah. That explained it. “Wasn’t planning on bothering it. It has more right to this land than I, if its roots still trace a true path.”

The old woman’s eyes narrowed at his phrase, but she answered his code in kind. “Ain’t none danced the ring in over a season, if that’s what ya mean.”

Ruth nodded and eased a bit closer to the fence. “I know the steps, if the ground cries out for heartbeats.” Nothing so macabre as blood sacrifice, but he’d offered his excess of magic to the faerie gardens at The Early Bird often enough. If this was a lapsed site, maybe…

The woman’s eyes flashed a milky white, startling Ruth out of his thoughts. He hadn’t noticed she was wearing a glamour. Careless of him.

“You aren’t what you seem, witch boy.”

“Neither are you, Old Mother. You’re a long way from any hills.”

Her crocked mouth opened into a sly smile. “That I am. And I’d be glad to return to them, if the way weren’t so far for these old bones.”

A chill went done Ruth’s spine that had nothing to do with the rising wind.

“And if I were to carry you?”

Her eyes returned to their milky white, her skin following suit. It sagged and hung loose like an old sheet, blown loose from a line and caught on the branches of a dead autumn oak.

“Then the land would be good to you, and your children, and their children thereafter.”

A Grim. His “neighbor” was a ghost, left over from some thing or another, tied to some trinket still left in this ground. With enough time, and the guarantee that he wouldn’t be disturbed, he could find it. Maybe Simon could help.

“Watch over this house for me, good woman, and I’ll find you your bones. Do what you can to convince the owner to lease to me, and it’ll be even easier.”

The storm broke, rain coming down in sudden, heavy sheets. Ruth ran back to his car, sitting quietly in the driver’s seat for a moment before trusting himself to drive away. One heartbeat, two… Maybe he’d better call Kate.

“Hey honey? How do you feel about moving into somewhere haunted?”