Release Day: Strength by Carrie Butler!


Title: Strength
Series: Mark of Nexus – Book 1
Publisher: Sapphire Star Publishing
Category: New Adult (NA)
Genre: Paranormal Romance (PNR)
Release Date: March 07, 2013

Available at: AmazonKindleBarnes and Noble, and Nook. More retailers will be added in the coming weeks, i.e. Sony Reader Store, iBookstore, Kobo, etc. Be sure to keep an eye on Carrie’s Pinterest Retailers board. She updates it whenever STRENGTH pops up somewhere. 🙂




When college student Rena Collins finds herself nose-to-chest with the campus outcast, her rumor-laced notions are shattered. Handsome, considerate, and seemingly sane, Wallace Blake doesn’t look like he spends his nights alone, screaming and banging on the walls of his dorm room. Hell, he doesn’t look like he spends his nights alone, period.

Too curious for her own good, Rena vows to uncover the truth behind Wallace’s madman reputation—and how two seconds of contact had left her with bruises. Of course, there are a few minor setbacks along the way: guilt, admiration, feelings of the warm and fuzzy variety…

Not to mention the unwanted attention of Wallace’s powerful, supernaturally-gifted family.

They’re a bloodline divided by opposing ideals, two soon-to-be warring factions that live in secret among us. When Rena ends up caught in their crossfire, Wallace has no choice but to save her by using his powers. Now they’re really in trouble. With war on the horizon and Rena’s life in the balance, he needs to put some distance between them. But Rena won’t let go. If fighting is what it takes to prove her own strength and keep Wallace in her life, then that’s what she’ll do—even if it means risking a whole lot more than her heart.


The BIG Giveaway!

Did I mention there’s a HUGE giveway, too. There’s a chance to win $25 Visa Gift Card, a signed copy of STRENGTH, a signed poster of STRENGTH,  Two Ghirardelli Dark & Caramel Chocolate Squares, Collectable Pins, Bookmarks, and Tats.

Enter here: a Rafflecopter giveaway


About 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.

Where to find Carrie:


Where to find Strength:


Do I Have To Let Her Fall?

My Sweet Daughter
(I know I should let her fall, but I can’t)

When it comes to fictional characters, it’s tempting to catch them when they fall, or at least ease them to the ground. Say, the main character gets in to a fight and manages to escape relatively unscathed. Or perhaps, there’s a car/airplane/train accident and the protagonist walks away with only a concussion. Unless the main character (MC) possesses supernatural abilities, the scene may not be living up to its full potential.

Not only do writers have to let the protagonist fall, they have to push the MC down and step on their fingers. If readers don’t believe the character is in real danger, it diminishes the tension. Conflict stems from characters facing a worthy adversary, someone or something which could potentially conquer the MC.

Every character has a weakness. It’s the writer’s job to figure out what it is and push their darlings to the edge. Keep in mind, conflict stems from a variety of sources, not just physical pain. Think of Will Smith’s character in the Pursuit of Happiness. The movie starts when things are going okay for him, but then his life undergoes dramatic changes, most of them to his detriment and just when you think things can’t get worse they do.

Do you let your characters fall? Are you guilty of catching them? What book/movie do you feel exemplifies letting a character “fall”?

Related Articles:

Eavesdrop and Take Notes

Photo Credit: Frank Selmo (frankselmo on Flickr)

I’m always looking for inspiration for my next short story, novel, blog post, characters, setting, etc. While my dreams provide the foundation for many stories, some of them are a little too out there to mold into anything useful. I’ll be the first to admit my muse and I don’t always get along. There are times when we don’t talk, but if I’m going to take this writing thing seriously, which I do, I can’t go around making excuses.

“We value results, not excuses.”

So, what can you do when you’re fresh out of ideas and your muse is on vacation? Eavesdrop and take notes. I know as kids we’re taught listening in on other people’s conversation is rude, but I’m not convinced it applies to writers. After all, are we not tasked with observing the world around us and capturing it with words?

And while you’re noting story ideas, plot twist, dialect, key phrases, or potential conflict, go ahead and note how people interact. What are their hands doing while they speak/listen? How do facial expressions change? How are they sitting (leaning close/away or a combo)? How much eye contact is going on? Are people standing? If so, how are their bodies positioned? Straight? Angled? Weight shifted to one leg?

Observe and take notes. Just don’t let them catch you doing it. 🙂

Where do you find inspiration for your work? Have you ever eavesdropped? Do you take notes? Anything from your ‘field study’ you’d like to share?

Reading Like A Writer

I spoke a couple of weeks ago about a method I use to take the sting out of query letter rejection (here). Since then, I’ve had the opportunity to read a few books. While I await the release of Shadow’s Claim by Kresley Cole and Alice in Zombieland by Gena Showalter, I’ve selected a few free ereads.

Photo by Jessie Harrell

For a while now, I’ve been reading like a writer. Sometimes it takes the joy out of a book, other times it adds a whole new level of appreciation. This month, I read one book in each category. Overall, I enjoyed both of them. However, one author has me willing to pay money for the next book, the other not so much.

Here’s what did/didn’t work for me:

The Book I’ll Pass On

  • I have to admit, I loved the premise of this story. It was well into the genres I like. The author had a strong grasp on the paranormal creatures in the story and did a wonderful job of staying consistent with the supernatural powers in the world created.
  • There was tension and conflict in the story, but some of it felt orchestrated and much was resolved through hap and circumstance.
  • This one was a YA book and the author nailed the age and attitude, but it was a little over board.
  • The author used regional slang and clichés to the detriment of dialogue.
  • Plus, and I might be guilty on this one, the author had multiple scenes of every day things with no underlying tension. For example, the MC was getting ready for a date and that was it. No underlying emotional or mental tension.

The Book That Hooked Me

  • LOVED the heroine and the hero.
  • The voice hooked me right away. The MC is funny and relatable and freely admits her faults without out sound too self-deprecating.
  • The world building is wonderful and information about the setting is doled out in small digestible doses.
  • The supporting cast a.k.a. minor characters are intriguing in their own way.
  • I cared about what happened to the MC if she failed to reach her goal.

Have you ever picked up a free book which hooked you so well you purchased more from the author (if it’s paranormal romance, I want titles and names, please and thank you 🙂 )? What drew you in? Have you picked up one that turned you off, and if so say why (out of respect, please KEEP TITLES and NAMES ANONYMOUS)?

[Update: Look what I found. Free Kindle books here.]

How to Write A Book


That’s all it takes.

Focus on writing everyday, no excuses because even five minutes of active writing will increase the word count of a book. This may require rising before the sun, or burning the midnight oil, but if that’s what it takes to get hands on the keyboard or pencil/pen to paper, then commit to it. If it’s too difficult to get in touch with the muse early in the morning or late at night, sketch out the scene (or tell) what’s supposed to happen and use it as a guideline to flesh it out (or show) as much as possible during a lunch break, during the train/taxi ride home, or whenever time is available. If it’s a too busy family life that interrupts writing time, create a writing schedule, bargain if necessary so that each partner gets equal free time, even if it’s only half an hour.

Photo by Frank Selmo (frankselmo on Flickr)

When that free time is available, whether or not the muse is talking, make sure each scene has focus. These are the things I aim to include into each scene:

  • Conflict. Gotta have it, otherwise why are people reading the book. The main character (MC) has to have a goal from the very first page. Something is bound to stand in the way. I invite Murphy’s Law to stomp all over my characters life. I love when I’m reading a book and the MC gets backed into a corner from which I can see no way out, yet I know they get out cause there’s still 72 more pages left. In each scene, I focus on making my MC work toward her goal, ensuring the things she need don’t happen to fall into her lap, and amping up the conflict.
  • Character. In order for readers to care about said MC getting out the corner, they need to care about said character(s). I try to fall into my characters. Instead of observing the scene unfold as if watching it on the big screen, I imagine myself in the scene and employ all the senses to make the characters’ reaction to the setting real. I focus on staying in the MC’s POV throughout the scene, and if the POV changes, I add an extra space and stay in the other character’s POV for the remainder of the chapter. Continuous head hopping can be disconcerting.
  • Setting. Have a clear understanding of when and where the story takes place, but don’t try to include everything. Focus on a few select things which breathe life into the setting. There’s always time to build in more elements of the environment in the next scene.

Focus on the endgame. Figure out the common word expectations for the genre/target audience because it’ll be hard to sell a low word count sci-fi novel or a high word count realistic middle grade novel.

Last, focus on having fun and enjoying your characters and the world you’ve built for them.

What do you focus on when writing? What elements do you try to work into your scenes? How do you find time to write?

For a humorous take on How Not To Write A Novel, check out my crit partner’s post here.

Related Articles
Make Your Writing Time Matter
Novel Word Count
Genre Novels – Word Counts Rules, Subgenres, and Guidelines for Getting Your Book Published
Wordcount Dracula

Be Inspired Meme

I was tagged by blogger Melissa Maygrove for the Be Inspired meme. The instructions say to answer the following questions, and then tag five people.  I can do that…
1. What is the name of your book?
2. Where did the idea for your book come from?
As with many of my stories, this one started with a dream. The main character, sixteen year old Rena Moon, was hiding under the floorboards of her house while strange men beat up her father in an attempt to force him to reveal her location. This scene isn’t in the book, but it made me wonder why “they” wanted her.  I discovered she lived in an oppressive, futuristic society where turning over people with special abilities is profitable. At first, Rena only has a sensitivity to ground vibrations, but as she grows older her powers grow stronger and her emotions begin triggering earthquakes.
3. In what genre would you classify your book?
YA dark paranormal with sci-fi elements. There’s romance, too.
4. If you had to pick actors to play your characters in a movie rendition, who would you choose?
  I often find my characters on or The images I use for Rena and Nevan (her love interest) are not stock photography, so I can’t post them. It’s hard to find actors who resemble them. If I had to pick, I’d say Chanel Iman, only with a splatter of freckles across the ridge of her nose and cheeks for Rena;  Jason Momoa, only seventeen, bi-racial, and with one hazel/one blue eye for Nevan; and Anneliese van der Pol for Rena’s BFF Blaze.
5. Give us a one-sentence synopsis of your book.
In the year 2248, Rena Moon, a free-spirited teen in a dictatorial society, struggles to control her emotion-based power to trigger earthquakes until her best friend is held ransom for the one thing that would free her from oppression.
6. Is your book already published / represented?
Shopping it around. I’ve had a few nibbles.
7. How long did it take you to write your book?
Writing it the first time didn’t take long. The editing and revisions that followed took a while.
8. What other books within your genre would you compare it to? Or, readers of which books would enjoy yours?
Like Melissa, I don’t want to compare my writing to a published author. I think readers who enjoy paranormal stories would like this book. Even though I love vampires, werewolves, books with fey, readers won’t find that kind of paranormal in EoT. Instead, my characters possess abilities like mind reading, supernatural speed, and I also have a clairvoyant.
9. Which authors inspired you to write this book?
I’m a huge fan of L.A. Banks. Her characters are strong and down to earth. I also crush on Kresley Cole. That woman really knows how to breathe life into characters and I often take notes on her fight scenes. She’s a master of creating tension between characters. Overall, I wouldn’t say any one particular author inspired me to write this book, but I’m an avid reader and I read like a writer, so I’m always learning through observation.
10. Tell us anything that might pique our interest in your book. 
See #5 and then ask yourself how well you might control your emotions when your loved ones are in mortal danger and you’re the one to blame.

Now to tag five others…

Laura Diamond @ Lucid Dreamer
Kelly Hashway @ Kelly Hashway (her link here)
Leatrice McKinney @ Info Dump a la El (her link here)
Dawn Allen @ Write On (her link here)
Nickie Anderson @ Here’s the story

I look forward to learning more about you. Please leave a note in the comments if you decide to participate. Thanks!

Encouragement & NA Poll results

We could all use a little encouragement now and then. It’s so easy to become discouraged. So, today I’m sharing a few Pins I’ve recently discovered on Pinterest.

I’ve said this before, and I’ll say it again. Writing is hard. Oh sure, you can learn the mechanics of the craft, but it’s not always easy to string together a bunch of words which capture and hold attention. It’s hard to write in a way that makes the words disappear and leaves the reader enthralled in the world and characters the author created.

It’s important to write from the heart, because if the author ain’t feeling it, neither is the reader. Writers who write with passion (and I don’t mean the romantic kind, though it’s fun :-)) are able to evoke emotions in their readers. Let your muse out and let him/her loose on the page. Don’t worry about the plethora of rules on how to write a best seller. Sometimes, we have to forget all that stuff and focus on transforming the images/voices in our heads to words on the page. We can, and should, come back later to polish. In the first draft, have fun and just write.

As a final word of encouragement…

Need I say more?

What about you, have any words of encouragement for fellow writers? Do you have a favorite quote on writing? Have you discover any Pins you’d like to share (admits this is me searching for other writers on Pinterest)?

For curious minds, here are the results from the NA poll last week: