Cover Reveal! WITHOUT BENEFITS

The talented Nicole Tone’s beautiful  novel, Without Benefits, is out in a little less than three months! But today we get a first look at the amazing cover, designed by Ashley at Cardboard Monet!

I’ve loved this book since the moment Nicole told me about it. It’s a moving lyrical novel, capturing all those complicated adult emotions of love, family, and what-might-have-beens.

More info (plus a giveaway for a Seattle adult coloring book!) below!

Emma will always be a New Yorker at heart, even though she has a perfect life in Seattle. She has a prestigious job fundraising for the Seattle Symphony, a handsome boyfriend who adores her, and a Belltown apartment with views of the Sound. It should be more than enough to keep her pain from not playing the piano, and her 9/11 nightmares, away.

But when her old college crush, Owen, comes back into her life, it’s more than just spending time with him that’s causing cracks in her picture-perfect life. As she steps back on stage, and back into the spotlight, her connection with Owen and his world, dredges up old memories that Emma worked hard to forget.

Emma’s past comes back to haunt her, forcing her to face the truth about more than just her fears of returning back to New York. As her once perfect life begins to burn down, Emma is forced to figure out what she really wants: her fundraiser and cocktail party-filled life with her boyfriend, or forging a new future with the one thing, and one person, she’s ever loved–even if it means returning to New York.

Without Benefits is a beautiful and moving exploration of modern relationships and family written in the vein of Taylor Jenkins Reid and Renee Carlino.

So here it is…

The moment we’ve been waiting for…

 

 

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Isn’t it gorgeous? Pre-order your copy today!
And, click on the below for a lovely giveaway, including an adult coloring book, bath bomb, and nail polish!
Click here to open Rafflecopter giveaway
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About the author:

Nicole Tone is a freelance editor, MFA student, traveler, pet collector, binge-watcher, and a self-proclaimed coffee snob. She lives in Buffalo, NY with her husband, three cats, and two very large dogs, but spends as much of her time in Seattle as possible. You can like her page on Facebook, @ her on Twitter, swoon over dream houses together on Pinterest, and add Without Benefits on Goodreads.

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The Bright Side of Subjectivity

For as long as I’ve been a writer, there’s a term I’ve struggled to grasp: subjectivity.

It always seems to be used negatively, paired with an apologetic shrug. “Sorry that person didn’t like your work. It’s just subjective, you know?”

But I didn’t know. I came from a educational and professional background where (besides, like, Bernie Madoff ) there was a right, and a wrong. A clear cut answer. A way to plug numbers into a formula and receive the correct answer. Subjectivity was a strange, dark cloud, hanging over everything I attempted. Why couldn’t I write something everyone would love? What was I doing wrong?

I thought, hmm. Maybe I should just become better! Then, I shall be able to vanquish subjectivity! But, even after spending a year studying craft books, working with freelance editors, and pushing myself, I still got negative feedback that was… subjective.

Someone suggested that I read one-star reviews of my favorite books. This technique, they suggested, would make me realize even this amazing authors got subjective, negative reviews of their books. Instead, because I am made of fiery passion and undying loyalty, I wanted to fight every deluded fool who couldn’t see the obvious talent of my favorites.

Meanwhile, I was also getting positive feedback. People liked my work, adored certain characters, laughed at my jokes. It didn’t matter to me. I was more concerned with fighting the big-bad subjectivity monster. Surely, there had to be some formula I could apply to make it go away, and have everyone equally love my work.

Spoiler: there’s no way to ever do that. I’m going to skip over the months I spent bashing my head against a wall, and instead tell you about what finally made me realize what subjectivity truly is.

What happened was… I read a book.

Of course, I’d read plenty of books during my battles with the smoggy subjectivity monster, but this book I LOVED. It was one of those books that turned me into a book evangelist, pushing the book at everyone I knew. Shockingly, some of my friends didn’t like the book. Or they did, but they didn’t like the same things I did. I had no real reason for why I loved the book, aside from a fuzzy feeling of it hitting me in just the right brain spots, like the way a cold glass of water quenches more on a hot day. I couldn’t point to any narrative craft, any technique the author used to specifically make me adore the book. I just knew that my world was a better place with the book in it.

I loved the book, subjectively.

That’s the bright side of the mysterious subjectivity-monster we forget sometimes. The same inexplicable force that causes some people to dislike our works (or not love it enough to accept it) also allows people to adore  our work. Subjectivity fuels book deals, creates fanart, causes readers to squee in 5 star reviews. So the next time you get mad at that subjective rejection, remember there’s someone out there who will subjectively love your work.

Don’t give up, darlings!

SCAVENGER OF SOULS-arc review

This week I had the privilege of reading an advanced reviewer copy of SCAVENGER OF SOULS, Joshua David Bellin’s new work, (release date 8/23/2016)

For those of you who haven’t read the first book in the series, SURVIVAL COLONY 9, the books take place in an arid, desolate world, where monsters known as the Skaldi hunt down the few remaining humans. No one is safe, and our protagonist, Querry, faces many challenges in his quest for survival. 27206580

“Answers aren’t always true,” she said. “And the truth isn’t always the answer you want.”–Scavenger of Souls, by Joshua David Bellin.

SCAVENGER kicks off explosively, and the pace never wavers. Querry is a brave, likable protagonist, who is growing into a fine leader. Mercy, who features on the cover, is a new character, and one of my favorite ones in all of YA sci-i. Her charisma imbues all of  her actions, and she’s a force to be reckoned with. The worldbuilding is incredible, creepy and bleak, but populated with characters who will win (and break your heart)

This book is perfect for fans of the TV show, The 100, with its teen characters forced to grow up fast in a cruel, dangerous world. Both teens and adults will like the book, with its well-crafted, tightly crafted plot. and high stakes. Also, can we talk about how INCREDIBLE that cover is?

Haven’t read SURVIVAL COLONY 9 yet? Check out the rafflecopter below! I’m giving out a paperback copy (USA only) or an E-copy (international!)

CLICK HERE TO OPEN THE GIVEAWAY

 

I’m Sorry I Didn’t Read Your Book

Hi Writer-Friend,

It’s been a while. You may not remember me. Or maybe you do, but you recall me with anger and hurt. Or perhaps, you too are a simmering kettle of apologies and regret, wishing things could be different.

I’m sorry I never sent you beta feedback. My life got hectic, and by the time I remembered to read yours, I was afraid of asking for more time.

I’m sorry for reaching out for blog post info, for an interview, for a possible critique partner relationship, only to disappear. My attention span flutters as much as a caffeinated butterfly, and my forgetfulness comes from that, not from a place of disrespect.

I’m sorry I disappeared from our friendship. I was battling anxiety/jealousy/insecurity, and knew I would only hurt you if we kept talking.

I’m sorry I never responded to your request for a blog tour. I barely blog as it is, and wasn’t sure how to tell you that. Would you think I was less of a writer if I told you I didn’t blog on a schedule?

I’m sorry I forgot your release date. My own life got hectic with family/school/work, and then when I checked Twitter, it seemed overwhelming, and I didn’t know how to help.

I’m sorry I never wrote a Goodreads review. I’m afraid that if I did one, all my friends would expect me to read their book.

I’m sorry that I review books on Amazon under a fake name to hide from their silly deletion policies, so you’ll never know I reviewed it.

I’m sorry we got into a huge argument, and now the expanse of the anonymous internet separates us, isolating us from ever finding a way of speaking to each other again. My apology hangs in empty air, like a dead link to a vanished site.

BUT

I’m not sorry for the hours I stayed up, reading your book. It was incredible, and I loved every page-turning moment.

I’m not sorry I keep my fingers crossed for your book to get published soon, and I talk about it to everyone I know.

I’m not sorry I retweet and reblog other’s release day posts for you, trying as hard as I can with my limited time, to show you that your words matter, that your book touched me.

I’m not sorry that I mention your artwork/editing services/skills to anyone in need of that, hoping to send you the customers you so very much deserve.

I’m not sorry I bought two copies of your book, one for me and one for a friend. I wait, ninja-style, for people to ask for book recommendations, so that I may push yours, like a dealer with the enthusiasm of a toddler.

I’m not sorry I still follow you on our social media sites, celebrating in secret for your successes, and mourning your losses. This tiny, dusty window into our former friendship is just enough for me to remember all the good times we had, and learn from the bad.

I’m not sorry we exist in this world together, and I’m so grateful that our paths crossed, no matter how short a time.

May all good things come to you, and may your future be filled with joy.

From the shadows and the silence, I am sincerely yours,

Carrie

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Business of Art Interview: KT Hanna

For this installment of The Business of Art, I have the honor of speaking with KT Hanna, an incredible indie-author. Her sci-fi series, THE DOMINO PROJECT, is thrilling. KTs hard work and passion for the story is seriously impressive.
Recently, Kirkus reviewed the first book in the series, CHAMELON and had this to say:

“Hanna takes familiar sci-fi genre elements, such as an outsider network of rebels and emotionless, superhuman companions, and spins dystopian gold… This is a fabulous series opener. A bracing debut that might just knock the wind out of readers.”
Kirkus Reviews

CHAMELEON Domino Project Front with Text 2 (1)

Want to read? You can buy the first book at this link (CLICK!) Or, simply comment on this blog post for a chance to win.

Without further ado, here’s the interview!

C: Hi! Can you tell me a bit about yourself and your career as a writer?

KT:  I’m an Aussie expat and met my husband in an online MMORPG (Everquest 2). I ended up over here in the worst place for my asthma, and have a cat, 2 corgis, and a gorgeous little three-year-old now thanks to him I’ve been writing for a very long time, but have been working at it more seriously for about ten years, and very seriously for the last five. I’ve had two agents, and horrific market timing, so after parting ways with my second agent, I decided to market time myself and release a trilogy that is near and dear to my heart.

C: What skills have you developed as an indie author?

KT: The ability to refresh my amazon page for review numbers over, and over, and… Seriously though – multitasking. I not only have to write and edit, but I have to oversee the cover, and organize promotion, and make sure the books make it to both copy edits and formatting on time… It’s a lot of work, but it’s oddly rewarding.
 (Carrie side-note: KT does an INCREDIBLE job with marketing. Other Indie-Authors should follow her lead!)
C:  I’d love to hear more about how you chose your cover. Could you go into a little more detail?
KT: Actually, I participated in a charity auction and bid on an ebook cover. My awesome cover artist S.P. McConnell, listened to me chat about my book and offered to read it. Then he came to me with a concept sketch and I was sold. His vision of Sai and my world was perfect. He had all the details, right down to the holo equipment in the office, the sheen on the armor, and the way the advertisements reflect off the city domes. I loved the work I’d seen him do, but my cover was even more perfect than I thought.
 

Continue reading

When the Magic Goes Away

Scene: First day of second grade. Kids running around, showing off new backpacks, new shoes, same uniforms though. 

The teacher clears her throat and announces, “Let’s write a journal entry about what we did over summer vacation.”

Tiny-Carrie, with pigtails and an already messy desk, glances around at her classmates. They’re talking as they write. Disneyworld, Disneyworld, Disneyland, France, a cruise in the Caribbean (with Disney Characters.)

Tiny-Carrie’s summer had been fun, but, not like her classmates. She’d hung out with her Grandmas, learned to make cookies, played  make-believe in her backyard and loved every minute of it. Until her classmates started talking about the Disney princesses they’d met. A bit of fear crept into her brain, whispering that her summer had been stupid, that she was lame and a loser.

But, Carrie never liked being told what to do. Not by a teacher, and definitely not by some dumb, negative voice.

So, Carrie put pencil to paper, and began to write. She might not have traveled, but she had read. A book called THE BOGGART by Susan Cooper had launched an all-summer quest to learn everything about Loch Ness, its mythical monster and the magical-seeming land of Scotland. She’d even worked her way through “grownup” books explaining just how a monster might exist in the loch, and cookbooks about how to make “oatcakes.”

She wrote a story about going to Scotland, and all the things she’d experienced there. And as she wrote, it felt real to her. It felt just as fun, as exciting as her classmates “true” stories about Disneyland. Tiny-Carrie may not have traveled, but she had read. Now, in writing what she read, it was like real magic, making something out of thin air.

That’s what writing has always been to me. Over the years, I wrote my way out of countless bad feelings, out of fear about a surgery, or heartbreak over a person who didn’t like me back. My stories, although they were fictional and full of fantastic events, were woven with real truths, and real emotions.  Re-reading them is re-reading a diary, even if it’s set in a magical land, and the main character is a red-headed warrior-princess sneaking into royal balls, instead of an awkward fourteen-year-old Carrie dreaming about attending prom.

Nothing I write is autobiographical, but it’s all true to my heart. Be cause of that, perhaps, I’d been reluctant to share my words with others. These stories were part of my very DNA. I couldn’t let random people examine them for flaws any more then I could appear naked on a subway stop and shout “JUDGE MY BODY!”

Continue reading

Not a Clone, Not Alone

I have a friend who got into a special program at a major company right after college. She, along with ten others, had the exact same job description, and the exact same salary. They were all the exact same age, and lived in the same company-owned housing area. They even had the same company cars. In many ways, they were clones, trained to perform the exact same role with little variability,

I bring this up because… the writing world is NOTHING like this.

Some writers work full-time at a day job, and have extra cash, but no extra time. Some write full-time, but budget carefully.

Some are parents. Some live with their parents.

Some are older, some are younger.

Some have sold ten books. Some haven’t finished their first.

Some are city-folk. Some are small-town people.

All of us are writers. We all dream wonderful dreams and spin incredible stories. We have more in common than we do differences, if we dig down deep enough.

This beautifully multi-faceted community is part of what makes our literature so unique and interesting. If we were all clones, we’d all write the same books, over and over again. Instead, we each write from our own personal truths, sharing and growing along the way.

However, sometimes, in the stew of peoples making up the writing community, it can feel like you’re the only one who’s different. The only carrot among potatoes. Maybe you’re the youngest one in your writing group, or the only one without a significant other. Maybe you had a kid and you’re suddenly in a different time in your life than you’ve been, and it seems like every other writer has plenty of freedom. Maybe you feel lonely, because you live hundreds of miles from any other writer.

Maybe it just seems like there’s a “popular club” and you’re not part of it. It’s not true. You belong here. You’re as much a writer, as much part of the community as anyone else.

Social media can be cruel. We all share the best parts of our lives, buffing and photo-shopping away countless imperfections. We humble-brag and white-lie our way to perceived happiness, all the while battling self-doubt and insecurity.

The independent writer might secretly be as lonely as the remote one.

The writer with an adorable-on-paper significant other might be contemplating a divorce.

We compare our worst days to other’s bests, and we beat ourselves up because of it. We judge and critique others who are not like ourselves, instead of seeing each person as a main character in their own story.

 

Let’s stop. Let’s be kind to each other. When you feel excluded or alone, please know, you are never alone. Someone out there cares about you, even if you’ve never met them. Together, let’s write a new story. Of belonging and acceptance, of building each other up and respecting our differences.

Let’s bond over what we have in common. Our story-telling talents.

I’m going to try harder to do this in the new year, and I invite you all to do the same.

Book & a Bomb: UNDER THE LIGHTS Giveaway!

It’s time for another book and a bath-bomb giveaway!

This time I’ll be giving away a BRAND NEW PAPERBACK of UNDER THE LIGHTS by Dahlia Adler, and a PHOENIX RISING bath bomb

BLURB FROM BARNES & NOBLE: Young actor Josh Chester has never been sure that acting is for him–he’s mostly interested in the parties and the hot Hollywood girls that come with the job. But he ends up taking a job on the hit TV series Daylight Falls, opposite Vanessa Park, a girl who is immune to his charms and also his polar opposite. Vanessa loves her job, despite her parents’ disapproval. She’s pretty certain about everything in her life, until she meets her new career handler, a gorgeous girl named Bri. Then things start to get a little confusing. Under the Lights features an adorable romance between two young women, all set against the backdrop of Hollywood. As Vanessa confronts her emerging feelings for her handler, Bri, her co-star Josh confronts his realization that the Hollywood scene might not really be his cup of tea. Under the Lights is a story of self-discovery: learning that the person you always thought you were might not actually be the case anymore.

My thoughts:

This is one of my favorite books this year! It’s thoughtful, funny and just the right mix of Hollywood drama blended with real-life situations. Dahlia nails the characters’ voices, and the glitz of Hollywood.  If you don’t follow Dahlia Adler on Twitter, fix that now! She’s friendly, informative, and a true “reccing ball” for any book suggestions you want, especially YA.  Her next YA novel is called JUST VISITING, and it’s an awesome friendship story. You can preorder it here (LINK)

 

What better bath bomb to go with a tale of budding love among Hollywood’s lights than PHOENIX RISING?

FROM THE LUSH SITE: All the myth and magic of a Phoenix pressed into one bath time experience, which lets you arise at the end feeling refreshed and ready for the next 500 years. One of Lush’s patented double layer bath bombs, your Phoenix will sink to the bottom then rise in triumph, its’ mythical sparkling purple and green plumage unfurling through your bath water. It will release gentle shea butter, cocoa butter and jojoba oil to leave your skin feather soft, and exotic essential oils of fruit and spices, which take your mind on a flight of fancy to distant shores where you are lying on a beach drinking spiced rum

My thoughts: It’s glittery, it’s magical, and it smells like fruit and spices! What a perfect bath bomb for a romantic YA read that had it’s own dashes of spice and glittery fancy parties!

Not an international giveaway, but I will ship to Canada/Mexico!

Enter the giveaway here: Rafflecopter Link

Six Ways You’re Annoying on Twitter (and how to stop)

Twitter can be really fun. However, it can also feel like walking into a rowdy Wild West bar… that’s on fire. People shouting, hashtags flying about, auto-dms punching you in the face…

Here are my biggest pet peeves in the wild world of Twitter and some way to avoid them.

 1. Auto-DMs

These, for me, are one of the most annoying things out there. It’s like waving to someone across the street and having them chase you down, throwing buisness cards like ninja stars at you. Not fun.

Quick-fix: Turn off the auto-dm and focus on making real connections.

 

2. Humblebragging

“My hubby bought me a latte and a donut, AND people think he looks like James Franco. #blessed”

“I never work out but somehow always fit in a size 0. #luckyme”

“Ugh, having a ten bedroom mansion makes it SO HARD to find a missing sock. Thank goodness for the maid. #crisisadverted”

“Only spent 813 bucks at Whole Foods! That’s what I call pennypinching. #success”

#shutupplease #nobodycares

Quick fix: It’s one thing to share good news. It’s another to constantly mention things that a lot of people don’t have. Ask yourself if you’re sharing a good thing or if you’re bragging to make yourself feel better.

 

3. All Output

Read my book! Read my blog post! Read my joke! Read my mind! LOOK AT MY PHOTOS! LOOK AT MEEEEEEEEEE

(As an extrovert, I’m guilty of this one.)

Quick fix: Try to respond to your friend’s tweets too, or retweet their interesting blog posts. You don’t want your feed to be all you tweeting. Interact.

 

4. Shouting at Celebrities

Just. Don’t.

J.K. Rowling will not blurb your book. Jennifer Lawerence will not marry you. Robert Carlyle will not give you Once Upon A Time spoilers.

Quick fix: First, ask if your tweet is polite enough you’d send it to a coworker. Then, make sure you’re not the 357th person responding to the celeb’s post.

4. Too many hashtags

I #wrote a #book. It’s #fun #magical #YA #Checkitout #amreading #amwriting #amhashtaging

It’s hard to read tweets like this. I catch myself scrolling past them because they look like spam. Also, if you use more than four hashtags, Twitter will actually flag the tweet as spam and not show it in searches, etc. Use minimal, powerful hashtags. (For example, don’t hashtag common words like “book”, instead use tags like #amreading)

Also, respect hashtags created by others. If you see people tweeting thoughts with a hashtag on the end, perhaps like #yesallwomen or #mswl, don’t just assume you can use the hashtag for whatever you want. Some are part of a converstation started by specific people, about specific topics. Some are only used by certain people. For example, #askagent is only for when agents are going to answer questions. Don’t put it on your tweet about a book.

5. Putting other books down/linking authors to negative reviews

*please note, this doesn’t mean “thou shalt not negatively review books”

What this means is A. derailing a book conversation.

Person A: I loved Harry Potter! Best book series ever

Person B: Me too. I wish Draco had a better arc

Perscon C: Fav books ever!

Person D:* tags everyone else in the convo* HARRY POTTER IS STUPID AND YOU’RE ALL STUPID FOR LIKING IT.

Yeah. Just don’t. If the person isn’t asking for opinions on the book, you don’t have to tell them yours. Likewise, be careful about tagging authors in your tweets. If someone is asking for book recommendations, and you tag the author, you’re bringing that author into a conversation where people could end up stating why they don’t like that author’s book

For example

Person A: I need a book with beagle puppies as main characters

Person B: Wishbone series!

Person A: Cool, but I’m looking for books.

Person C: I love BEAGLE MYSTERY MURDERS by @PUPPYAUTHOR

Person B: Yeah but @Puppyauthor writes the STUPIDEST BOOKS EVER.

@puppyauthor goes and cries in a corner.

Quick Fix: Be polite

6. Not Giving Credit to Artists

Twitter person: HEY LOOK AT THIS GREAT ART!

NO IDEA WHO PAINTED THIS BUT IT’S REAL PRETTY, RIGHT?????

Quick tip. If you want to retweet some cool fan art, FIND THE ARTIST. You can use google image search to do so. Not doing so is really unfair to the artist who has done so much work.

So, there’s my biggest pet peeves on Twitter. What are yours?

You Are More Than Your Book

When I was younger, I could never finish writing a book. Even after I typed “the end”, I’d find a sequel to write, or a spin-off series. In fact, the first seven manuscripts (mind you I started these when I was in 6th grade, so manuscript might be too kind a word) were all directly connected to each other,  featuring the same characters and settings. I simply couldn’t let them go. Their world had become my own.

As my writing journey progressed, that emotional bond to my writing amplified. In fact, some days it seemed my self-esteem was entirely tied to how well my edits went on my book. I’ve noticed this occurring to other writers too, on many different parts of the publishing path. Some might measure their self worth in that request/rejection query pie-chart. Others, in how sizable an advance they receive or how many twitter followers they have. If one is self-published, it’s easy to obsessively watch sales, and let each one impact one’s mood.

But that’s not healthy.

We writers are more than the sum of our manuscript words, or our query stats or our books sales. We are members of families, artists, career-people, athletes and artists.  We’ve achieved so much in our non-writing lives. We’ve bought houses, landed promotions, learned dance moves, taught our dogs to fetch…

We are more than our writing.

So, right now, wherever you are in the writing journey, pause for a moment. Make a list. On paper or on the computer. Include ALL the wonderful things you are, and ALL the things you’ve achieved. Then, keep that list close. Whenever you’re having a bad day editing, or don’t have any book sales, or get a query rejection, review that list.

My list is pinned above my desk. One item on it is “I am a knitter.” And sure enough, I’ve found, on days when the writing is crappity-crap crap, I should pick up my knitting needles to create something new. Something awesome. Something unrelated to my words.

You can do that too. You created amazing words, yes. But you are also an amazing human being, made of so many more parts than just your writing.