Had a poignant dream last night, thought I’d share. Tales of Mu already told this story, but it’s my dream and my emotional resonance and I don’t care. You’re reading my blog for a reason, hang in for my wild ride.

So, college lab setting. We’re sitting down to day one, intro style labs, partners are assigned at random. The instructions are to fold the page in half long ways, print your name at the bottom, cut it in half and exchange halves with your partner for tracking all the generic details we’re going to share with each other.

A slow but familiar feeling of dread has building since I walked down the hallway to the classroom. As I hold the pencil in my hand (a pencil in a science lab, I know. That’s dreams for you *shrugs*), it feels awkward and unwieldy. I do not write in print often, and I never write out my name. Not this name.
My given name. I can see the letters. I can see that they are all there, but I keep writing them out of order. The first name comes out well enough, it’s not that far off from the name I go by. But the last name, my father’s name…
“Hey!” My lab partner snatches her half of the paper before I’ve sorted out fixing the spelling. I don’t look up. I don’t shout. I can’t react.

She waves the paper about with glee, squealing like she’s won some sort of lottery. Smooth, pale skin, pretty, well-behaved hair, tiny, feminine– she’s won a lottery all right. One she’s never appreciated or even noticed.

“Those are orcish characters– you’re a half orc!”

My stomach drops out. Orc. I am no orc. Just ask my uncles. I stare fixedly at the letters on my remaining paper, pencil starting to strain under the pressure of my grip. I can’t relax my fingers.
The teacher is restoring order in loud, clear tones. I had spoken to her in her office, well before lab. I speak to all of them, just in case. This always happens, sooner or later.

“That explains why you’re so tall! Do you wish you had tusks? Your brow ridges are so small though, you don’t look orcish at all! Must be on your father’s side then, or you’d be a lot thicker, wouldn’t you. Gosh, you’re so lucky! I wish I was tall–”

“You’re the kind of girl who tells goblins they’re such a pretty shade of green, aren’t you? Ask them if they wish they had more warts on their nose?”

I shouldn’t have spoken. It was quite, even toned, but it was still an outburst. Still going to be blown wildly out of proportion, as always. Everyone will be chittering about how I lashed out, totally lost it. Battle rage.

I stand as carefully as I can, move in slow measured steps to the door, down the hall, to the bathroom. I don’t think about which one I use. It’s not the one I’m allowed in, but it’s the one I feel comfortable in. It’s between classes anyways. I need a little comfort. I don’t look in the mirror.

I want to tuck my feet up on the seat, perch like I used to, hide. But my legs are too long now. My body too wide for my elbows to fit if I wrap my around myself. So I just sit, very still, hands on my knees, staring at the beige stall door. I do not cry. I cannot cry.

Teaser Tuesday Chapter 10 part 2

Things are really getting dramatic with this week’s #TeaserTuesday — as if I haven’t been a big bag of drama already.


Seth would not lay down to sleep beneath the ice.

He beat at it with swollen fists, the rhythmic thump keeping a time for his slowing heart. He would not sleep here, he would not. The il’m pulled at him, murmuring the sweet promises of peace that lured so many servants of Il’Dao into the dark. She wanted him, after so many years of drawing on magics that shouldn’t be his. But Seth hadn’t fought the il’m for so many centuries just to give up now.

I love the rich, vivid pictures Seth and Naj paint for me to describe their inner landscapes. I don’t know if it’s being strong magic users, or their unique situation, or what, but every time I go deep inside their heads, it’s always viscerally beautiful.

It’s also confusing as fuck to write.

Scenes like this just kind of pour out, and I’m always thrilled with them in the moment. When I come back around to the editing, I always can’t help but feel a moment of “WTF?” They’re jarring, disorienting, but that’s kind of the point. Hopefully, I’ve made the division between illusion and reality clear, but if not… Well, it’s not always so clear cut in real life sometimes, either. Check in on Saturday and let me know what you think. This is one of the chapters I’d most dearly like feedback on.

Teaser Tuesday Chapter 10 part 1

This week’s #TeaserTuesday is one I’ve been super excited to get to.


Her wings swept forward and left red in their wake, her hand swept through and left behind drops of purple to mingle and bleed into the red. A twirl and one wing swept it aside to leave a swath of inky darkness that hid her behind it. Furious motions cut through it in places, letting color accent the darkness until she threw herself through it, her wings arcing back to carry the darkness high as if hoisting the night sky itself.


Nica’s illusion dance is one of those moments I just sit back and enjoy my partner’s writing. That all comes to a crashing halt when it’s my turn to write, but until then, it’s a pure pleasure. This week will be a sensory rollercoaster, so buckle your safety belts and come on back for Saturday‘s update.

Teaser Tuesday Chapter 9 part 3

This week’s #TeaserTuesday teases in more than one way.


On a dramatic whim, Naj pinched his left thumb and forefinger together and flicked his wrist. A wave of darkness boiled from his hand, spill down and curling around the floor like smoke, It rose to fill the room around them, plunging them into a sightless nothing in an instant. With an equal but unseen twist from his right hand, a pure, white light burst forth, chasing the darkness to the corners of the room. In an unnecessary but elegant flourish, Naj called the power back to him in a curl of his fingers. It was only slightly diminished, as illusion magic hardly needed any energy at all, but it had been worth the show.


Get it? Just a tease of his power? Just me?

I’m so delighted with how this scene turned out, mostly because I can see how far its come. In its original form, this was a long and barely researched chunk about mudras, tossed in there to show Naj’s Indianness like a costume. Not only is that wrong (he’s Middle Eastern, as much as the world’s actually line up), but it was lazy and bad writing. I knew it was, I knew I was just playing when I wrote it. It was fun, but it was authentic (to me or the culture). So I’m glad to see this shape up into something that fits the world, and doesn’t disrespect the wonderful one we live in.

Come back on Saturday to watch Naj really shine. He loves to show off, give him some love people!

Teaser Tuesday Chapter 9 part 2

Sorry this week’s #TeaserTuesday is a little late, it’s been a week and a half.


She was running through a garden that was a riot of color. Yellows, reds, purples, oranges – all blending together with a background of greenery that stretched higher than her head. Her feet barely felt the soft grass underfoot, but the sudden slap of stone under her told her she was nearly there.


I love Aunt Amala’s garden. A bit like Nica’s version of the White Desert, it becomes a refuge. And without me realizing it, it’s become a refuge for me too. I can’t say every scene in the garden is a peaceful one, but they’re all so genuine, and I love them.

Plus, Cait writes most of them, and I always love free word candy. XD

Be sure to check back for the update on Saturday to see where Nica is running to, and what she finds there.

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.

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!