I was talking to my little sister this afternoon and our conversation steered the direction of being an adultThose are some scary, heart-stopping, palm-sweating words. Kenz has been fretting, as I remember fretting, that with college graduation comes a step into adulthood. And in some ways, yes. It is a step into adulthood.

But so was graduating high school and going to college. So was taking that job that paid rent and bought groceries. So was that first relationship outside the bounds of teenage melodrama and gossiping girls. So was your 21st birthday. (Well, Kenz, you don’t know about this one yet.)

I realized, though, that this year — 2013 — this is the first year, despite all my baby steps into adulthood, that I really feel like I’m being an adultNot just sometimes, not just in certain situations, not just with certain decisions. But all the time. All the time I am an adult.

So I thought about why.

Why, when I’ve had adult decisions and adult consequences since that magical 18th birthday, do I just now feel like a full-time adult?

1. I’m graduating with my Masters degree.

Pardon the clip art. With my Masters degree, I’m stepping out after graduation with the intention of starting my career. Before graduate school, I applied for a job that I ended up loving but was more about new experiences and paying rent & bills. I never intended to stay in the job or the field (IT). 

But with my Masters, this is it. This is the beginning of my career and that’s thrilling & terrifying all at once.

(This is not to say people do not start their careers after their Bachelor’s degrees. Plenty of people do. But I always intended to get a Masters degree and as I want my career to be in academia, this was a required step.)

2. I’m turning 25. 

I’m smack in the middle of my twenties. There is just something about this age, to me, that sounds adult. It’s a bit inexplicable, maybe. 

When I turned 18, I could say I was an adult. But at 25, others see me as an adult. It’s in the way other adults interact with me. It’s in the way my students ask me about the next steps of their adult lives. It’s in the way I remember, vividly, thinking my 25-year-old just-got-his-Masters-degree history teacher in high school was just so much older than me while still being so much younger than all the other teachers.

3. I’m getting married. 

Which is major. Even though I’ve been with my fiance for over 5 years, we are really and truly beginning our lives together. Not our lives near each other, revolving around each other, like two separate suns. But our lives, inseparable, for the rest of time, (I couldn’t think of an appropriate astronomical metaphor here).

I’m thrilled for our wedding, for our honeymoon, for our first year of marriage (though I know it will be a challenge).

As a quiet, but devoted Christian, marriage means certain things to me and carries a particular weight with me. I know it carries the same meaning with my fiance. And it’s that we’ve made this decision, together. We’re defining ourselves as a pair, as our own family beginning.

These three events in this year are why I feel, finally, like a full time adultWhich is not to say that others don’t feel like adults younger than me or older than me, and I don’t discount their adult experiences. For me, I find myself unexpectedly being an adult, but this year I finally don’t feel like I’m faking it most of the time. I just feel like being an adult is just a part of my identity.

I am an adult.

No two ways about that anymore.

(BEDA: April 11, 2013)



Carrie Butler’s STRENGTH Tour — “How I Made My Book Trailer (for Free)”


How I Made My Book Trailer (for Free)

Thanks for having me over, Bailey!

A couple of years ago, book trailers became a “thing”. You can blame the digital revolution for this one. Readers stopped frequenting brick-and-mortar stores, and in turn, stopped getting introduced to new books via events, promotional materials, and employee recommendations. Instead, they relied on introductions from the same place they made the majority of their purchases—the Internet.

So, authors adapted.

Borrowing a page from the film industry’s playbook, they began condensing their blurbs into short, accessible videos. If readers were enticed, they could go to the author’s site for more information. Simple as that.

Okay, maybe simple isn’t the best way to describe it. Book trailers are an expected staple in marketing campaigns these days, and let me tell you, those things cost a pretty penny. I looked around, and most start around $350. Start! That’s a little less than my car is worth.

(I wish I were exaggerating.)

Obviously, I couldn’t afford to hire someone to do Strength’s book trailer, so I took on the project myself. We’re talking hours and hours of work here, but you know what? I managed to pull it off for free, and I’m pretty darn proud of myself. 🙂

Want to give trailer-making a try? Here’s what you’ll need:

  • Some kind of video editing software. I used a combination of Windows Movie Maker (free) and an old, diluted version of Sony Vegas I had from college. I know other people who’ve had luck with programs like iMovie, Animoto, etc. Play around with a few of them, and then use whichever one works best for you.
  • (Optional) Royalty-free or public domain video, i.e. Videezy or Neo’s Clip Archive
  • (Optional) Royalty-free or public domain images, i.e. Public Domain Pictures or Morgue File
  • Royalty-free or public domain music, i.e. Incompetech or SoundCloud
  • Patience
  • An Internet connection
  • A YouTube account

Oh! And before you get started, here are a few quick tips:

  • Read license information carefully. Even if you don’t have to, it’s nice to credit those who helped contribute to your project.
  • Choose music and visuals that complement your genre, i.e. I write paranormal music, so I went for a mysterious, otherworldly vibe.
  • Keep things moving. Ideally, book trailers are between 00:30 and 1:30 long. If you use still images, try playing around with video effects that pan or zoom.
  • Avoid bombarding viewers with huge blocks of text.
  • Include relevant information, i.e. title, author, publisher, release date, etc.

Beyond that, just try to have fun. Think of your book trailer as another way to express yourself. 🙂 Good luck!

Divider_for_LightCB_Author_PhotoAbout the Author:

Carrie daydreamed her way through college—until they thrust a marketing degree into her hands, slapped a summa cum laude seal on the corner, and booted her out into a less-than-stellar job market. Instead of panicking at the prospect of unemployment, she used her Midwestern logic to steer into the skid and point her life in the direction she really wanted to go: writing out those daydreams.




Series: Mark of Nexus – Book 1
Publisher: Sapphire Star Publishing
Category: New Adult (NA)
Genre: Paranormal Romance (PNR)
Release Date: March 07, 2013
Formats: E-Book & Paperback
Paperback ISBN: 9781938404351
E-book ISBN: 9781938404368

Short Synopsis:

When college student Rena Collins finds herself nose-to-chest with the campus outcast, she’s stunned. Wallace Blake is everything she’s ever wanted in a man—except he can’t touch her. His uncontrollable strength, a so-called gift from his bloodline, makes every interaction dangerous. And with a secret, supernatural war brewing among his kind, there’s no time to work it out. To keep Wallace in her life, Rena will have to risk a whole lot more than her heart.





“Carrie Butler is now on my must read list.” ~Lynn Rush, author of Violet Midnight

“I carried Strength with me everywhere. Grocery shopping, the dinner table, you name it. The storyline was addictive, and the characters were hilarious. I couldn’t put it down.” ~Jessica Therrien, author of Oppression

“…Carrie Butler’s debut novel is brilliant, riveting, imaginative and seamlessly written.” ~Lisa Regan, author of Finding Claire Fletcher

“This is definitely one to buy for the bookshelf.” – All’s Fair with Pen and Paper

“I love that Carrie took so much time in building the relationship between them. Yay for no instalove!” – Read It, Reviewed It

“I freaking loved every last word on every page.” Scelest’s Journal

“I’d definitely recommend this to anyone who’s interested in reading a bloody good book. :)” – The Life of a Total Book Nerd

“I devoured this book in two days – staying up until the early hours because I didn’t want to stop reading!” – Kyra Lennon, author of Game On


so that’s Carrie! i worked with Carrie during my NA Alley days and i am so excited to be hosting her on the blog today for a stop in her STRENGTH blog tour. she’s a wonderful woman & truly inspiring as an author because just look at the things she does for herself! she made her own book trailer (for free!) and now you can, too.

if you have any questions/comments/anything for Carrie, please comment below.

thanks for stopping by, Carrie!

I’m over on NA Alley all week!

It’s Monday, and it’s also the Monday where I post on NA Alley and spend the week talking to our blog readers, our Twitter followers, and our email senders. Gearing up for a week on NA Alley can be a bit stressful (it takes a lot of prep!), but when the week is finally here and I finally get to kick back, post some blogs, and just chat with fellow NA writers and readers, it’s always a blast.

This week I have launched Alley Reads, a New Adult Online Book Club. What can I say? I like to keep my Monday’s productive. We’re beginning with Cally Jackson’s The Big Smoke (I’ve posted about it here on this blog) and we’ll be discussing it on December 19 with a live blog chat.

In my own words, “Alley Reads is designed to be a leisurely book club, giving all of us a chance (and the motive) to tackle that NA reading list while still managing other life priorities.

Head on over the Alley this week to learn more about Alley Reads and to spend some time with me.  Also on tap this week: Agent in the Alley pitch contest with Julia Webber, Wednesday, November 7. Be sure to swing by to enter a pitch if you have a revised NA manuscript.

And one more thing: GO VOTE.

Interview with Cally Jackson, author of THE BIG SMOKE

Today I am so excited to have Cally Jackson on the blog to talk about her debut novel, The Big Smoke. The Big Smoke is about Caera and Seb, two Australian teens moving to the big city to attend uni. (Uni! I wish we called it that here in America!) Like any book I’m excited to feature on the blog, though, this novel is about so much more than the one sentence plot line. So pick up a copy & read it. The Big Smoke is commercially available right now from several retailers (Amazon for Kindle, Smashwords for all e-editions).

But first, perhaps you should read my interview with Cally Jackson!

First, tell us a little about The Big Smoke in 35 words or fewer.

Ceara’s desperate for love; Seb’s desperate to get laid. Two strangers, both moving from small country towns to Brisbane for uni. Will they survive life in the big smoke or crumble under the pressure?

What’s your weekly writing schedule look like?

Writing schedule, what’s that? I’m very sporadic with my writing, which is probably why it’s taken me ten years to finish this novel! I’m planning to be much more structured with my second novel, but time will tell if I actually follow through with that.

Are you a panster or a plotter? Either way, what was your pre-planning like before you really began drafting The Big Smoke?

I’m a plotter, through and through. Before I started drafting The Big Smoke (initially called Entwined, then later Tangled), I did a great deal of research on several topics that I planned to include in the book but hadn’t had personal experience with (I’d name some of them but that would give too much away!).

I then mapped out all of the major plot points and ‘interviewed’ my characters to get to know them better. Before starting each scene, I’d outline the key actions that needed to happen within it. Then, finally, I’d write the scene.

I wrote almost the entire book in sequence, from ‘once upon a time’ all the way through until ‘The End’. Only rarely did I skip around. I guess my mind works quite linearly!

If you had to pick the best lesson you learned from writing The Big Smoke, what would that lesson be?

Ooh, this is a tough question, mainly because writing The Big Smoke taught me SO MANY lessons. Okay, I think the best lesson was that other people will be able to spot issues with your work that you can’t.

When I finished the first polished version, I thought it was awesome. Award winning, even. Then I got it professionally appraised and was totally shocked by the constructive criticism I received. It took me a while to digest the feedback, but I ended up completely re-writing the book based on the advice, and I’m so glad I did. The feedback I received on the new version proved that it was worth the effort.

You’re indie publishing The Big Smoke, and you’ve talked about that decision here (“Why I’ve Decided To Go Indie”) on your blog. How did that decision to indie publish affect the editing process for your book?

It meant that I was in charge of the editing process, rather than a traditional publishing house. Many self-published books are let down by a lack of editing, and I didn’t want The Big Smoke to fall into the category. To avoid that, I had seven beta readers provide feedback on both macro and micro levels, and made a raft of changes based on their suggestions.

Once I was happy with the novel, I sought out a professional copy editor. I received quotes and sample edits from a few different editors and found one that I was really happy with. His edits helped to tighten the prose and ensured everything was as realistic and plausible as possible at the micro level. Obviously, publishing independently also meant I had bear the cost of editing myself, but there’s no doubt that it was a worthwhile investment.

Answer this question from the perspective of one of your characters: “My most irrational fear is…”

Seb: My most irrational fear is… I’ll never make anything of my life and I’ll end up back in Mildah selling tractors like my dad.

Ceara: My most irrational fear is… no one will ever fall in love with me.

Now, answer the same question from your perspective: “My most irrational fear is…”

Cally: My most irrational fear is… my characters will come to life and make me pay for what I’ve put them through! 😉

So there it is, straight from Cally’s mouth — what it was like to write, edit, and self-publish her debut novel The Big Smoke. This is a remarkable novel, and I purchased my copy today! You should too — remember, you can get it at these online retailers for just $2.99: Amazon for Kindle, Smashwords for all e-editions.

Stay up on all things Cally Jackson and The Big Smoke by reading her blog and by following her on Twitter, finding her on GoodReads, and liking her author page on Facebook.

Here for a Cover Reveal: “The Crimson Hunt” by Victoria H. Smith

Book information:
The Crimson Hunt (Eldaen Light Chronicles, #1) by: Victoria H. Smith
Release Date: November 12, 2012
Genre: New Adult Science Fiction Romance
Cover Image Designed by: Michelle Johnson
First chapter of THE CRIMSON HUNT is available on Victoria H. Smith’s blog (link to blog at bottom of post).
Book Description:

College junior Ariel Richmond is working on year three of Project Normalcy.

Her house reeks of keggers past and her bestie is just a slight bit vulgar. But the thing is—they both aid in making life refreshingly uneventful.

So much for hard-earned mediocrity when Luca Grinaldi appears on the scene.

Luca’s sudden presence on campus is hard to ignore. Those bright eyes act like a beacon to unsuspecting females, and with features like his, he’s got to be moonlighting for GQ. Luca hopelessly captivates Ariel with his confidence and charisma, but the mysteries surrounding him make him nearly untouchable. And just when Ariel grows close enough to unlock his secrets, a tragic event sends her life in a downward spiral.

That steady life is no longer an option and allies quickly become scarce. The mysterious Luca seems to be the only one willing to help her—but with that trust comes the burden of his secrets. He has a dark mission of otherworldly proportions, and is willing to sacrifice as many lives as it takes to see it completed.

Gone are the days of simply maintaining normalcy, and if Ariel isn’t cautious with her trust, so soon may be her future.

About the Author: 

Victoria H. Smith has a Bachelor’s Degree in Political Science. She puts it to good use writing romance all day. She resides in the Midwest with her Macbook on her lap and a cornfield to her right. She often draws inspiration for her stories from her own life experiences, and the twenty-something characters she writes give her an earful about it.

In her free time, she enjoys extreme couponing, blogging, reading, and sending off a few tweets on Twitter when she can. She writes new adult fiction romance in the sub-genres of science fiction, urban fantasy, and contemporary, but really, anywhere her pen takes her she goes.

Victoria H. Smith Links: Blog | Facebook | Twitter | Goodreads 

Y’all should know that I don’t often participate in cover reveals or interviews. The only time I have ever promoted books has been post-release and post-reading. So when I do these things–cover reveals, interviews, etc.–it’s because I have sought out the opportunity with the author. It’s because I am so jazzed about a book and an author that I want to be apart of the promotion as much as possible.

Victoria Smith is a fellow NA Alley sister, so I am a little biased, but I’m biased in a good way — I know this woman can write, and I know she can tell an engaging story. So I am stoked to be promoting her debut novel, The Crimson Hunt, by revealing it’s beautiful cover here on my blog. Be sure to read the first chapter of The Crimson Hunt over at Victoria’s blog, and be ready for her release on November 12, 2012. 

Setting Up New Adult

Click to visit #nalitchat on Twitter. Follow the hashtag #nalitchat at 9pm EST.

NA In Depth, Part 2 — Setting the Mood

It’s Thursday, and that means it’s #nalitchat night on Twitter. At 9pm EST be sure to log in and follow the #nalitchat hashtag for a great insightful and curious discussion about New Adult literature.

This week’s topic is about setting in new adult fiction, and is the second part in a larger discussion series that seeks to dig deep into the aspects of fiction — from both a writer’s and a reader’s perspective. If you missed last’s week NA In Depth discussion on characters, you can read the chat transcript here. And something I’ve wanted to highlight for a few weeks now are these tweets by Kristan Hoffman, who I think summarized well in 140 characters or less the basic boundaries of each category — MG, YA, NA, and Adult. (Read from bottom up, as that’s the way timelines work in Twitter.)

These tweets are an easy & quick snapshot to refer to when thinking more specifically about aspects of any category, and in the case of these chats, the new adult category.

Host of #nalitchat, EJ Wesley, has also written a post — Setting the Mood in NA — that includes helpful links about setting in general. It is useful to read the more generalized setting-related resources that writer’s use when working on craft with an eye towards how those “tricks of the trade” might be manipulated in new adult.

My two cents:


In a non-fiction course I took in my undergraduate career (I was a creative writing major, for those that don’t know), we had a unit on writing setting as character. Essentially, we learned how to personify setting, how to give setting a weight that drove both plot arc and character development. We learned that the physical setting of where we’ve been, where we are, and where we want to end up — if it’s a city, a style of house, a remote island with no human contact, a dense jungle with threatening creatures — these places impact how people change & grow, and who people are as a result.

The point is always this: how a “new adult” perceives the setting around him or her is important to story advancement. Setting is a dynamic piece of a story, and it should be used to it’s fullest dynamic potential. It’s more than just, “This story is set in Minneapolis” or “this story takes place on a college campus” or “this story is about a girl who works in the restaurant.”  Minneapolis, a college campus, and the restaurant are the physical spaces that influence, and sometimes quite literally direct, the girl’s actions and movements; and the events that take place in these defined, physical spaces determine our perception.

The physicality of setting — the dimensions of a room, the decorations on a wall, the vastness of a park, the solitude of a deserted island — can both develop and confine a story, a character, and/or an event. Use setting wisely and with purpose.


There is this single-minded conception (as opposed to a misconception which isn’t exactly the right word here) that NA fiction is about college students and for college students. It’s really not.

It can be about that and for that particular audience. That’s OK. But it’s not just about college / for college.

I think discussions about settings will go a long way to broaden this single-minded conception. The physical spaces for growing and developing as a twenty-something person is, I think, also broadened. (Because of my age, my independence, and my responsibilities, I simply spend more time in more places now as a twenty-four year old than I did as a teenager; the places I frequented as a teen were actually quite limited.)

The take-away:

In all writing, setting is complex and dynamic, but how these settings are used and internalized by a NA character is going to be unique to NA.

Let’s just take a look at the expected college student on a college campus setting: there are probably secondary settings of importance (a workplace, a bar, an apartment) and micro-settings of importance (a dorm room, a classroom, the library, the gym) that contribute in meaningful ways to the overall development and help drive action and epiphany.

Finally, to return full circle to my original non-fiction course intro, I wrote a piece in that class during the setting-as-character unit about my first childhood home. It was house I lived in until I was six years old, and yet, it came back to me in an epiphany moment of my early twenties. When it came back to me, something interesting occurred to me: I can only ever remember the house from the perspective of being a young child. Those particular memories are forever, at most, six years old. And yet, that young-child memory influenced my 20-year-old self more than anything else of more recent, and probably more logical, reasoning.

To me, that piece from that class, and that moment that’s now itself a memory, is what makes writing about growing up in your twenties so completely fascinating and meaningful.



What are you doing this summer? (Blog Me MAYbe)

Blog Me MAYbe — Wednesday — MAY I ask something about you?

So after getting into the habit of blogging every day in April, not blogging every day feels like I’ve cut of some small limb, one I’m not quite aware of  normally, like say my pinky, but then now I go to use my pinky all the time and it’s not there. Okay, so that’s a really awful analogy for blogging, but basically every day I think, “Oh, this would be something interesting to blog about,” and then I remember I’m not blogging everyday. Then I wondered why — so if I come back to blogging every, or almost every, week day, would that be alright with you, my dear blog readers? 

And don’t worry, that’s not actually the question I’m asking you. It’s just question I’m asking you. So anyway, it’s Wednesday and I did mention that I would probably do Wednesday combined with Blog Me MAYbe because I liked the prompt. I like the prompt because I want my blog to be home to some discussion — I want y’all to feel comfortable leaving comments, and sharing your opinions, and all of us meshing and not meshing as the mood suits us. In constructive, community-building ways.

So today I ask you:

Do you have any fun things planned for summer? Or is it just the same ol’, same ol’, and if it is, what are you looking forward to in the next 3.5 months anyway?

For me, I actually have a summer break this year, though that’s only sort of true because I do hold a regular job and will have to go work every day. But there is no #ohgradschool, and that’s just fantastic. If you read yesterday’s post, then you know I also have Noveling through Summer. I am also an NA Sister, and with my other sisters, I am really excited to keep promoting NA Alley and supporting the NA writer and reader community at large; for that, I am hoping to read one or two NA books a month before I go back to school in September.

I am moving at the end of the month, which I think I’ve mentioned here before, but now it’s slowly creeping up on me and over the weekend I’ll probably make a list of all the things that need to be done like canceling my cable and switching my utilities and having my mail forwarded and buying a ton of boxes. I’m selling some books today, and later this week making a much needed clothes donation run, all in prep of moving. Having less to move is always good in my book, and I have definitely collected some stuff while I’ve been in this apartment.

Lastly, I’m going on some vacations. Only the vacation with my mother is finalized and for sure happening in June, but Boyfriend is ready to get out of town, and we’ll probably get away in July. And I’m sure I’ll see my Dad this summer, either going away someplace or just visiting him.

Please leave your answer to my question(s) in the comments below, and have a good Wednesday!