wrist tattoos + writing inspiration

I have always, always wanted a tattoo on my wrist. But I have a very low pain tolerance. And I can never keep my mind made up (which is why my hair color changes all the time). Something permanent, like a tattoo, is not something I should invest in.

But I still love wrist tattoos, so I collect images of them on Pinterest to keep me satisfied. Also, the narrator of the novel-in-progress has a tattoo on each wrist. I collect these images, also, as inspiration for her.




If you couldn’t tell, I am also a very big fan of birds and feathers and the like.

(BEDA: April 13, 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!

No NaNo for Me

This year I am not participating in NaNoWriMo.

This is the first November since I became a NaNoer in 2004 that I have not participated in this crazy, tremendous writing event. This is the first November I’m not even bothering to attempt a novel. I didn’t win ever year, but I always put in the effort to start. I always spent October planning, and getting some words down in November. I have always stretched my creative mind in November, even when it’s just a little bit, because I am a writer and that’s what I have to do.

But this year, I am not.

And a large part of me fears that I’m not participating because, for the first time since 2004, I just don’t have anything to write. I don’t have a story to tell. Or, I don’t have a story I want to tell.

I know, I know. I spend a lot of time talking, blogging, and tweeting about that novel-in-progress I have — and, I guess it still is a novel-in-progress. I still believe in and love the story I’m trying to tell. These last few months, though, I haven’t written a word. I haven’t jotted a note. I haven’t doodled an outline.

What have I done?

I’ve opened blank document after blank document. I’ve flipped through blank journal pages. Essentially, I have done nothing.

My word document is blank, and my mind is blank, and something about this scares me. For the first time since I can remember, writing — writing anything — is not just hard. It’s not possible.

In case you’ve been wondering, yes, this has definitely impacted by blogging and tweeting, as well. It’s even impacted my reading. It’s like I’ve disconnected from the written, fictional word entirely.

So here is my odd, spontaneous November confessional. I am in the worst place possible with my writing, and I have no idea how I got here, and I have no idea how to get to a different place.

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.



V.E.D.August 3

Plotting & Planning for Writing

I’m getting sick. In August. In Texas. I can hear it in my voice. Or maybe it’s just really bad allergies. Yes. I like that better.

Further Clarification: I don’t plot out or even know of every scene that happens in a book. I know the major scenes, including the opening, the point of no return, the complication(s), the climax, and the ending. I do know extensive character histories, and while I know most of those details will never be explicitly put into the book, they do define and shape character arcs. The details and the connecting scenes remain a mystery until I am at that section of the book — sections begin and end with the major moments I knew before drafting.

#nalitchat was a total blast last night, and I’m still very encouraged by the smart & curious discussions that take place during that chat event. If you missed it, read the transcript here.

Leave comments about your plotting & planning process — it really is one of my most favorite things to discuss about the writing process.

V.E.D.August 2

Motivation for Writing, for NaNo and all year long

I promise my top-of-the-head videos get less awkward a few days into doing them; it just takes a few days’ worth of video to get back into the groove.

Tonight, 9pm EST is #nalitchat

Tonight’s topic is “Why not YA or Adult?” and we are continuing our discussion of category boundaries. EJ Wesley will still be hosting through @NALitChat and Victoria Smith will be moderating via @NAAlleyBlog. As always, the most pertinent information about the weekly #nalitchat is the NA Lit Chat blog, and if you can’t make tonight’s chat or if you missed last week’s chat, transcripts are posted there the day after.

Last week I posted some links I thought would be helpful to read before the chat event, links that I think ground the week’s chosen topic in previous discussions. I want to do the same thing this week, so following are links I think help us define what NA is by asking what it is not.

  • “In Support of New Adult Fiction” by J. Lea Lopez, posted on From The Write Angle —  New Adult is not condescending or prescriptive. I really think that’s at the heart of the discussions and misunderstandings surrounding the NA category. Lopez’s blog post answers several more important questions, but the first several focusing on prescriptive intent are, to me, so incredibly valuable.
  • Where are all the young ‘adults?’” posted on Young Adult Review Network and “Putting the A in YA” by Sarah LaPolla, posted on Glass Cases  — The second post by LaPolla is a response, and not really a positive one for NA, to the first post, which mostly asks questions instead of giving answers.  You should recognize these two posts from the Lopez article. Together as a pair, these posts begin to seek out the category boundaries between YA, NA, and adult.
  • “Young Adult vs New Adult vs Adult” by S.M. Boyce — this is one author’s attempt to outline the differences between each category (though she calls them genres, they are, in fact, categories; genres are “fantasy” or “romance” or “crime”). The comments here are really worth the read and expound on her very simple & basic outline (her outline mostly defines age, sexual content, and swearing levels). I don’t think this is a comprehensive attempt to understand boundary lines, but it is a place to start — and age (and what’s appropriate for certain age groups) seems to be where everyone begins with categories.

My two-cents on this topic:

What I always remind myself, and try to discuss with others, is that category boundaries are rooted in understanding categories as a marketing tool. Publishers don’t really believe only teenagers read young adult fiction; publishers are neither stupid nor naive. What publishers know is that young adult fiction is marketed to teenagers (~ 13 to 18), and that when a YA book is marketed well to its “target audience,” the book can gain its broadest appeal. With good marketing, with focused marketing, a YA book will appeal immediately to teenagers, to a nostalgic adult, and to a forward-glancing middle-schooler. This sort of categorically-grounded marketing is how we understand the layouts of bookstores and online booksellers, and it only seeks to connect readers with books they’ll enjoy in the massive library that is published books.

Which is why discussions about how NA books are not YA or adult books is so critical to pushing the category further, and making it more broadly appealing to anyone who loves to read.