How I Research New Ideas

824Right now I’m working on researching my current project (the vaulting one, yes). This is exactly the same system I used when researching Anderson Stables, too. So I thought I’d share my process for anyone who may be curious.

Usually the first thing I do when I get an idea for a story in a sport I’m not personally experienced with, is to watch as many videos of and about that sport as I can find. For Anderson Stables that involved watching lots and lots of Grand Prix livestreams and Olympic playbacks. For this new book I’m watching as many vaulting videos as I can find on Youtube.

Next, I always go online and find the official rulebook for both national and international competitions. And then, because I enjoy spending lots of money on paper and ink, I print those out so I always have something physical to reference. And then I read them. In their entirety. Usually to help me fall asleep at night.

Not really though. I do read them, and they can be dull and difficult to read at times, but I find it a very informative experience. I want to make sure I know the little details before I start seriously working on a story, even if all those little details don’t make it into the book.

That’s usually my research strategy for anything I decide to write in my equestrian romance genre. For Anderson Stables I also took a trip down to Florida to experience part of the Winter Equestrian Festival, but I don’t expect to do that very often. Full time jobs and money tend to restrict one’s abilities to take a bunch of trips even when it’s technically for work.

Hey everyone, don’t forget that you have until June 15th to get in any questions you would like to ask of the Anderson Stables cast of characters so I can interview them!

Time for some fun!

108In honor of the final Anderson Stables book being released this summer, I’ve decided to do an interview session – with the characters from the Anderson Stables books.

What kinds of questions will the characters be answering? Well, that depends on what you want them to answer!

That’s right, you get to ask the questions! You can ask whatever questions you want of whichever character you would like.

Submit questions right here as a comment, or via a comment or message on Facebook. Submissions will be closed after June 15th, and I’ll be posting the interview right here on July 1st.

Let’s have some fun!

On Having Multiple Identities

089When it comes down to it, I essentially have three identities I keep up on a regular basis. There is the “real world” me, the one who works the full time job she thought she would quit someday but she now suddenly wants to turn into a real career. Then there are the two writer versions of me.

One, of course, is the version of me who writes m/m equestrian romance. But my truest love is actually fantasy. When I’m not working on a romance story, I’m usually working on a fantasy one. I’ve been mostly absent here because the publishing process is actually pretty slow paced. The final Anderson Stables book is in the production process as we speak and will be out this summer. Over the last couple months I’ve gone through several rounds of edits with it, and instead of waiting around to hear back from the editing team between rounds, I’ve been working to self-publish some of my fantasy writing (when those books are actually ready I’ll share my alter-ego for the curious).

I ran into an interesting problem with Amazon during this process. I have had my fantasy books available on Wattpad for quite some time, so when I decided just to publish better edited versions of the same stories, Amazon flagged my titles for being stolen because they were freely available online.

I cleared the situation up with them, but I can’t decide if I’m annoyed or appreciative. It’s definitely good that they make sure people aren’t publishing things they don’t have rights to, but I know I’m not the only one following this strategy. It does amuse me that I was more or less accused of stealing my own writing though. Made for an interesting couple of days.

I am of course still planning to write my vaulting book, but the fantasy itch came over me very abruptly and it doesn’t let go very easily.

Farewell 2017 – And Good Riddance

Unfortunately 2017 was not a very productive or really a very good year for me at all. You may have noticed a general lack of updates from me, and for that I apologize. I had some personal and health struggles that made writing very difficult as I simply could not focus or force myself to be creative when I wasn’t feeling it. I am, however, very positive about everything going into the new year.

I will say that the fourth and final book in the Anderson Stables series has been accepted for publication. I have no definite information about a release date as the editing process hasn’t even begun yet. That is one thing giving me hope for making more progress with my writing in 2018.

So, because the acceptance of the final book got me excited to write some more, I started tossing ideas around in my head about what I should write next. I’ve always had some other story ideas in a similar theme to Anderson Stables – m/m where the world of horses brings the main characters together. I had been torn between writing about the sport of combined driving (like the sport of three-day eventing but with high-tech off-roading carriages) and vaulting for a while. Both had a lot of potential, but I had been paying more attention to driving competitions recently simply because they are pretty intense to watch.

But then I stumbled on an incredible video on YouTube of a French vaulting team and I decided that yes indeed I am writing about vaulting next.

Here is that video, so you can see where my inspiration came from:

 

 

Updates and Upcoming Changes

11892049_811909688906776_7563319516146177509_nI know I haven’t been posting here, but I have been working on my fantasy writing (under another pen name). There are some big things happening soon, though.

First, I am writing the final book of the Anderson Stables series for National Novel Writing Month in November. Expect lots of updates and fun things all month.

Second, I’m going to be moving my domain, sashakayriley.com, here to WordPress. Currently I have this blog site and a plain, boring, stagnant website. Moving everything to one place will make everything easier to update for me, and easier to keep up with for all of you.

I may get side-tracked, as I often do while writing, so there may be a free read or two coming before the end of the year. No promises, though.

That’s just about everything. Stay tuned!

Thoughts on the Romance World

089Any of you who have been reading my Anderson Stables series may have noticed that I stay away from the level of eroticism many other authors seem to enjoy. Trust me, I’ve tried to write it, but it just doesn’t feel right. Every other aspect of my characters’ lives are written for the world to see, don’t they deserve some privacy?

I, personally, find sex scenes in books to ruin the entire flow of the story – unless done with more emotional detail than physical. Reading feels like meeting new friends, and when those new friends suddenly want to make porn in front of me, that’s really unsettling. My own characters are even better known to me, and making them “perform” for readers doesn’t feel right. Whenever I’ve tried, it has felt like the worst invasion of privacy you could think of.

And I’m writing a romance, not erotica. I’m frequently disturbed to find such graphic scenes in books described as being romances and not “erotic romance.” It seems to be almost expected that romance in general will contain detailed sex, especially in the m/m world. Whatever happened to a nice, sweet love story?

That being said, readers who are looking for erotic romance should be able to find it easily. I don’t want readers finding my books and assuming they will have those scenes, only to be disappointed. Everyone deserves easy access to the kinds of books they want to read.

I prefer sweet romances, so I don’t plan to ever write anything erotic. I’m here for the love story.

On Plotting, Music, and Creative Magic

648So tonight I sat down with the intention to start writing Book 4. Until now I had been plotting out the major scenes, which can be a process.

What took so long was the research I needed to do to properly plot the entire book. Not a ton of research, but enough to delay most of the work.

So I finally sat down to start writing the first scene or two. I pulled up my writing playlist on my phone and hit “shuffle.” Immediately, instead of getting the first scene to start flowing, I got other creative magic flowing. I started thinking through the other major scenes in detail.

Which can be good, but I wasn’t writing those scenes yet. Eventually I forced myself to focus on the beginning (which is always the hardest thing to write anyway) and got just short of 2,000 words out in two hours.

But it’s so interesting to me how music can inspire so much. I spent a while before I finally got to work just trying to get myself to sit down and write. Then I started the music and BOOM. I was in the super zone.

Moral of the story: music is a creative potion and a fantastic muse.