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.

Author Responsibility

So, remember how last week, I raved about Daughter of Smoke and Bone? Remember how said I hadn’t finished the series yet, so if it sucked, I was sorry.

Yup, I’m sorry.

Spoilers for the rest of the trilogy, and Trigger Warnings for discussion of rape and assault.

And on that cheery note, I want to talk a little bit about author responsibility. When we write, we hope to convey certain ideas and themes to our audience. We are taking part in the social narrative of our day, regardless of genre. Historical, non-fic, fantasy, it doesn’t matter. The themes transcend, and most especially when writing YA, authors must be mindful of what messages they send to their audience.

I am getting damned sick of rape as icing on the evil cake.

In the context of this trilogy, it makes perfect sense for the bad guy to make an assault play. It’s totally in line with his character, I would have honestly been surprised if he hadn’t, etc. What bothers me is the message the MC’s thoughts and reactions send to young girls. She acts like she didn’t see this coming, literally thinks the thought “he can’t hurt me”, and lets herself be put in harm’s way. This man has actually assaulted her before, tried to rip her dress off in public, and she spends the entire second book afraid of him, unable to sleep, barring her door, etc. But she lets herself be alone with him, she lets herself be overpowered by him– she completely departs from her previously established character, just so we can have a rape scene.

And then we just carry on, like it’s not a big deal. Her closest friends don’t react, don’t treat her any differently, the two men in love with her have raging hate boners for the bad guy, but that’s about it. The MC herself barely spends any time on it, mostly just wanting to shower. What the actual fuck?

So yeah, I’m not 100% what I’m trying to say here. As an author, I’m annoyed to see the strings behind the puppets as it were, having the scene so obviously orchestrated just so we can be absolutely sure we all know the bad guy is bad and the friend who rescues her is selfless and good. The MC herself becomes a cardboard cut out, shuffled along in the current of the plot, absolutely passive, in no way participating in her own narrative or acting like herself in any way.

As a young woman, with younger sisters I want to see grow up safer than the world I was raised in, I am disgusted and appalled at the treatment of rape as –ya know, not even as a narrative tool, but as a means of characterization. On a character already well established as evil. It served no point, had no impact, and made a victim out of a previously very capable character. When her family is taken from her, MC goes to incredible lengths to get them back. She is fierce, indomitable, resourceful, and frighteningly determined. And then she just… gives up. Rolls over. Let’s herself be bullied by a man who assaulted and murdered her in a past life and lets herself be alone with him– Again, what the actual fuck?

She then spends the rest of the story basically being too in love to function, or something like that, I honestly can’t say because I lost all pathos and interest in the character. I can’t imagine what this would do to young girls who’d been looking up to MC, who are trying to forge their own identities and come up with this as a guidepost.

Again, still not 100% what I wanted to say with this, and writing it out hasn’t made it any clearer. Just… be mindful as you write, ok? Remember that someone is going to read this, and someone is going to take lessons away, with no chance for you to say “But that’s not what I meant!” This is your voice. Use it thoughtfully.

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.