We’re so pleased to have author J. Leigh Bailey joining us today to celebrate her latest release in DSP’s Dreamspun Beyond house line, Chasing Thunderbird, and the second book in the Shifter U series. She’s talking research today and has also brought along a giveaway, so be sure to check out those details below.
Why Google (or any search engine) Needs an “I’m an Author!” Flag
I’d like to start with a big “Thank you!” to The Novel Approach for having me here today to celebrate the upcoming release of Chasing Thunderbird, the second book in my Shifter U paranormal series.
One of the most fascinating aspects to me of writing CHASING THUNDERBIRD was the research I did on the thunderbirds of Native American mythology. There are so many different stories, all with subtle differences. It made the whole process fascinating.
Research, especially in the digital age, has really changed from when I was in school and had to rely on card catalogues and the Dewey Decimal System. No, with a few clicks on a keyboard, vast oceans of information is available. Don’t get me wrong, I love research—that real, buried in the library under stacks of resource books research—but there are times when I’m writing that I need to confirm a detail or verify that what I want to happen actually can happen. In these instances, Google comes to the rescue. But if anyone was looking at my search history, I’d probably come off as deranged, odd, or criminal, depending on the book. So I’ve decided to share a few of my more random search terms.
- Writing about shifters means researching really important animal-related factoids like: Which is faster, a buffalo or a coyote?(Information that was critical in the first Shifter U book, STALKING BUFFALO BILL.)This doesn’t sound like something a normal person needs to know. But when you are writing a chase scene in which a buffalo is chasing a coyote, this is critical. The answer, in case you’re interested, is that both the coyote and the buffalo top out at about 40 miles an hour (the buffalo gets up to 35-40 mph, and the coyote can hit 43 mph).
- Writing shifters has also prompted this gem: Do birds smell? Of course, then I had to specify the olfactory sense, not “do birds stink?” This then also led into a rabbit’s warren of searches because the answer to “Do birds smell?” depends on which birds.
- When I was writing my YA action/adventure novel DO-GOODER, a couple of my searches probably landed me on a government watch list. Things like How do you make and transport Sarin Gas? and Weapons trafficking routes through Africamight make international law enforcement folks take another look.
- Some of my searches have yielded horrifying results. DO NOT look up Pit Viper Snake Bites unless you want to see gross, beyond-painful-looking, sometimes rotting and infected bites, including injuries that show bone and tissue and pus.
- The best—the absolute best!—searches yield eye candy. When I did a search for Hot men with beards, I found William. It was almost a shame that I found him right away. I mean, searching through thousands of images of hot men wouldn’t be the worst way to spend my time… The model that was used for the cover of Stalking Buffalo Bill, by the way, is 100% how I pictured William while writing the novel. 100%
I know there are authors who’s search terms might be crazier (or even more likely to land them on a watch list) than mine. Anyone writing romantic suspense or action/adventure novels probably has way more fascinating stories to tell, for example. For the project I’m working on now, I’m going to have to do some digging into an area less quirky but infinitely more complicated: rights of a teenage unwed father who want custody of his unborn child. It’s complicated because every state is absolutely different and I’m pretty sure I’d need to be a lawyer to figure out the intricacies. The other thing, slightly less complicated, but equally time consuming, that I’ve been delving into is teenage robotics competitions. So many truly impressive young people in the world today. Not quite as fluffy as “Do birds smell?” but I’ll learn something new. :)
About the Book
A legendary love.
Ornithology professor Simon Coleman’s reputation is at risk, and the only way to save his name is to prove thunderbirds are more than creatures of Native American myth. Grad student and part-time barista Ford Whitney has a lot on his plate, but it’s also his duty to make sure the resident bird nerd doesn’t discover shape-shifters—like himself—live on campus.
When a series of incidents related to Simon’s search put him in harm’s way, Ford’s instincts kick in, and they become closer than is strictly proper for student and teacher. Ford is forced to reveal his secrets to Simon, and their relationship is put to the test—Simon must choose between salvaging his reputation and protecting the man who protected him….
My office door burst open.
I gaped as a girl—the girl from the bird-watchers’ club who’d thought the group might be chasing eagles on their next excursion—stumbled in. Ford leaped from his seat just in time to grab her by the arms before she fell into a heap at his feet.
I jumped from my own chair and ran around my desk. “What’s happened? Are you all right?”
She didn’t look at me; her gaze stayed fixed on Ford. She started to shake.
Ford eased her to the floor. “Easy, Bethany. Breathe. You can do this. You’re in control.”
If her panicked eye rolls were any indication, she was far from in control. Her fingers dug into Ford’s arm. “I can’t.” Her voice quavered and broke. “I can’t stop it.”
“Is she epileptic?” I touched Ford’s shoulder. I didn’t want to take his focus away from Bethany, but I needed to know what kind of situation we were facing. “Should I call 911? Or the medical center?”
Grim-faced, Ford shook his head, the only sign he’d heard my question.
Bethany’s whole body locked, muscles and tendons straining.
I didn’t know what was going on, but I couldn’t just stand there while this poor girl had some kind of seizure. I dug into my shoulder bag and pulled out my phone.
“No!” Ford shouted, flinging his arm in my direction.
Before I could utter a protest, Bethany wailed, then went poof. One second a teenage girl stood there; the next she was gone. No, not gone. She was….
The smartphone fell from my suddenly lax grip as, with a flutter and rustle of feathers, a sleek bald eagle alit from my office floor and flew out the door.
Bethany—blonde-haired female freshman—had turned into a bald eagle.
A bald fucking eagle.
My vision grayed; my knees turned to limp dishrags. I fell to the floor, landing hard next to my dropped phone.
Even as my vision darkened further, I could still see Ford’s grim expression.
Oh yeah, he had some serious explaining to do. But after. After I woke. The shock set in, and my brain finally shut down.
About the Author
j. leigh bailey is an office drone by day and the author of Young Adult and New Adult LGBT Romance by night. She can usually be found with her nose in a book or pressed up against her computer monitor. A book-a-day reading habit sometimes gets in the way of… well, everything…but some habits aren’t worth breaking. She’s been reading romance novels since she was ten years old. The last twenty years or so have not changed her voracious appetite for stories of romance, relationships and achieving that vitally important Happy Ever After. She’s a firm believer that everyone, no matter their gender, age, sexual orientation or paranormal affiliation deserves a happy ending. For upcoming releases and appearances information, sign up for her newsletter at https://t.co/FfL9gFVJLQ.