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. 😀

Teaser Tuesday Chapter 9 part 1

It’s #TeaserTuesday! It’s Seth! It’s Nica! It’s NAJ FINALLY DANCING IN ASYLUM.

 

What an odd mix she was. From the waist down, she was all serpent, red sarong falling open on one side to show a long line of russet, tawny skin. Her legs’ grip on the drum showed the dancers’ habit of being ready to rise at any moment and join the dance. But her golden halter brought out the raptor intensity in her eyes, and the cut left her shoulders free and clear for wings. Her voice was strong with the powerful lungs she’d need to survive long flights at high altitudes, but bent gently to simple nursery tune.

Seth simply didn’t know what to make of her.

 

It cracks me up (and worries me) how little dancing actually happens in Asylum Book 1. Like, I get it, they’ve got other things to do, but I feel like it’s so easy to forget they’re dancers. It’s something I read for while editing.

This teaser also showcases something I worry about read for, which is making sure none of our characters fall victim to the Default White trope. Nica is not white. Naj is not white. Kain is most certainly not white. Neither is Nat. In fact, all lined up, none of them are even that same shade of Not-White. So I guess I also read against the Ambiguously Brown trope, too.

But it’s awkward, because Asylum is set in a slantverse, a near-reality that mirrors our own but isn’t exact. There is no Nebraska, for example. (Well, there might be, but I’m pretty sure I have a big magical wasteland where Nebraska should be. I’ve not explored that far West yet in any great detail. There’s definitely still a Canada, but here there be yetis.) So while I know half of Nica’s parentage is what we’d call Native American, that’s about as far as I can go. Her tribe is a fictitious shifter tribe, and one she’s not even currently aware of, so calling her by a specific group name just doesn’t work.

When I start down this rabbit hole, I start feeling like a lazy, appropriative author. I start wondering if I have Brown For the Sake of Brown action going on. I start down a sneaky doubt spiral that it’s hard to pull back out of.

Asylum is a draft. It’s a public draft, that I hope people will read and love, but it’s not perfect. Much in the spirit of this original blog, it’s an Experiment, and one I learn tons from every day. Writing Race is definitely a weak spot I need to shore up (but to be fair, I’ve never done it before. And being aware is definitely the first step).

So ANYWAYS, I love scenes like this, where I can a minute to step back and describe my characters, to remind people they’re not-white and more than just brown, and to show not-white as good and beautiful without being exotic. It is definitely something we need more of.

In that spirit, I wanted to link to some of the resources I use to write race better. Big shoutout to Writing with Color (and most especially this post) for keeping me mindful and pointing my brain in the right direction. Legit and More Legit Gre8er writing tips too. And We Need Diverse Books and Diversity in YA to keep me from getting discouraged.

*deep breath* Ok. That went in a different direction than usual. I feel silly now doing my usual wrap up, cause this turned into a very different post than it started as. 😛 For your usually scheduled Asylum, be sure to check in on Saturday.

Thinking on Paper

As I mentioned in my video the other day, I do a lot of my brainstorming with my fingers. Sometimes, it turns into free writes, which sometimes turn into scenes, but sometimes, it’s just bulletted nonsense like this (NOTE: not really spoilers, but they are notes from chapters not yet released):

[Wonderful, beautiful, actual story text, which abruptly ends]

(…and from here, I think you need to take it, actually. Did someone let him in? Did they decide to walk the neighborhood instead of the gardens?)

  • Naj/Nica/Seth working their shit out
  • Dealing with Maddie
  • Possibly dealing with the whole “omg I have scales and fire” from the night before, but I think the dream did that ok

What did the original chapter do?

  • Flirting, tea, and hangovers
  • Elena
  • talk of Naj dancing, and drum circles (Note: in this edit, Naj hasn’t taken the stage yet. In earlier drafts, he had)

ch 40

  • Small chat w/ elena about relocation
  • chat about dance improv and/or drumming (thur and fri mentioned)
  • call rook when they get upstairs

ch 41

And so on. I used to think I was a pantser. And while I find that’s still true of the first, just getting things out there draft, editing without an outline is practically impossible. Whenever I don’t stop to make an outline, I wind up getting bogged down in the minutae, struggling for the words, the what comes next, everything honestly. So when I ram up against that wall, I just keep typing, letting my brain stay in that groove, and think outloud with my hands. When I’m really lucky, after about five lines of this, the next scene pops up, with full sentences flowing from my hands again without me even noticing. But even if that’s not the case, I find that my brain keeps working at the pieces I’ve organized. So I’ll go about my day, maybe even all the way into the next day, but then ta-da! Answers! Scenes! Directions I’d never thought of going before! It’s like magic.

I highly recommend thinking with your hands.

Teaser Tuesday Chapter 8 part 4

This week really puts the tease in #TeaserTuesday 😉

 

“Shut up and enjoy your shower.” Her laughter was cut off by the feel of his hands wrapping around her shoulders, kneading the heat and scent of spice into her skin and muscles.

He chuckled as his thumb found a particularly tight cord of muscle and she groaned softly. She let her head roll to the side so he could work at it.

 

 

You may not know this, but Asylum was originally drafted as a paranormal romance. It could still be called that, I’m sure, but it’s definitely toned down in the sex department compared to what it used to be. Still, scenes like this are fun to write, and read, so there’s still a few sprinkled in here and there.

Who is the mysterious couple enjoying some steam in the steam room? Check back Saturday to find out!

Teaser Tuesday Chapter 8 part 3

I’m having way too much fun with #TeaserTuesday lately.

 

If he hadn’t been so intent on stillness just the moment before, Naj’s fighting instincts would have undoubtedly taken over. Even still, the fraction of hesitation before action hadn’t kept Naj from gripping the wolf’s wrist and tensing for the throw.

 

 

If you read last week’s Teaser and matching update, you can see my mischievous side is showing lately. I can’t help it. The story line has gotten so light hearted, I need a moment to be a little bit wicked. Rest assured, once things go dark again (and they most certainly will), that I’ll keep up the menacing tone. Until then, tune in to Saturday’s update to see who Naj is about to throw over his shoulder.

Taking this seriously

Ugh. I just spent four hours editing. I love/hate editing, because it’s always very satisfying but also thankless work. I feel very productive, as if I’ve gotten so very, very much done–but then I look up and go “I have nothing to show for this. What gives?”

I’ve been trying for a while to think of writing/editing (and various background web stuff for Asylum) as a part time job, as a way of motivating myself. Seems like a good idea in practice, because after all, I would like to make this my job someday, but I’ve never really done more than just tell myself to shift my thinking.

I don’t know how well this will stick, but I want to start tracking my actual hours put in. Mostly just for funsies, but also hopefully to validate myself on days I’m feeling wasted like this. I know I put in anywhere from three to five hours on my weekends, so long as I don’t have any go out of the house plans. During the week is always trickier, cause there’s no accounting for when I get to bed, and therefor when I’ll get up. While my “day job” is low stress, it seriously eats into my sleeping time.

So, I know I can hit five hours easily, 10 would be pushing to write an additional hour every day, with one day left over to be totally, totally off and relax. Seems reasonable, I think. My work week starts on Wednesdays (for whatever reason), so since my days off are never the same, I guess I’ll just go from Wednesday to Wednesday and see what it looks like at the end of the “week”.

So for this week, I’m at 4 out of 10, 5 if I want to count the hour I spent talking theories out with my gf before work (Maybe. Depends on how short I am at the end of the week). So that’s my new goal. Wish me luck!

Look who’s playing on Pintrest

For a long time now, I’ve been saving random images in files for character/art references. Would you believe that it just now occurred to me to start a Pintrest board and share them? Yeeeah, I’m super quick on the draw. :/

I still have a couple of images I’m having a hard time tracking down the original source for, and some are one offs where the model/actor looks NOTHING LIKE my character except in that one shot, but I promise it will growing. Especially as I keep doing more and more art for Asylum. I’m a pretty decent sketch artist, but my faces always all look the same if I don’t use a reference. So, share in my reference hoard, dear readers. 🙂