No More Half-Measures

If you’re going to invest your time into something that you really want to do, do it with full force. No more half measures.

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Break out the tools and get started

Many people are guilty of this. Heck, I’m guilty of it. You want to pursue something but you’re so worried in the process of doing it that you don’t give it your all. You’re so caught up in hanging out with friends, looking busy, and focusing on menial things that you never get around to actually doing the thing you want to do.

Let’s say you want to keep a blog. You write a few posts but you never really promote it or comment on other blogs to build an audience. Writing a book may be on your bucket list. Although you never get around to doing it. The common excuse for putting it off is “Oh, I don’t have any time.”

Is there a reason for this? Why do people give an okay performance to something they’re passionate about doing? Why do people put off something they’re passionate about doing?

Example time. During NaNoWriMo (National Novel Writing Month) in November, a lot of people talk about writing a novel. They start, get 5,000 or 15,000 words, then stop. They don’t intentionally stop. It just sort of happens. They’re self critic is so loud, it drowns out the voice that got them starting in the first place.

I was guilty of this for so long as I wrote my novel. I would be writing, get a lot done, then think “Oh, this is crap, why am I doing this?” or “People have already written a book similar to this, so why am I even trying?”.

Last year I discovered a year-long project a recent college graduate was doing called A Year of Productivity. I loved the site because of how much he put into it. Productivity experiments have been doing countless times by people, yet the content he provided on his site was so refreshing. You know why? Because he was putting his perspective on it, looking at the subject from a new light, and most importantly, putting his own voice into the website.

This year I read a book called The Quarter Life Breakthough. It discusses the topic of millennials who might be having a quarter-life crisis and are on the search for meaningful work. The content of the book was thought-provoking and made me question the priorities I have in life. I loved the discussion points the author made and the exercises he gave.

In the book the author points out how he doubted writing the book because others told him “it’s already been written about a million times”. He didn’t give in to their opinions and continued writing. Since it’s release, the book has been pre-ordered in 38 countries and been featured on Fast Company, Huffington Post, Thought Catalog, Under 30 CEO, and The Washington Post. He’s been speaking on various college campuses and bookstores across the country.

If he had given into what people said about how the type of book had “already been written a million times” then none of the press and coverage would have happened. If you have something you’re really passionate about starting and doing, do it, and don’t give in to the noise of others. Don’t stop because of the outcome people might predict you will have.

Also, if you’re keen on doing something, then try to do it whenever you have free time. If you want to play guitar, learn how to do photography, knitting, riding a unicycle, or whatever, then invest as much time as you can into doing it. You see, many people that are crazy passionate about doing something don’t read a ton of productivity articles, or schedule exactly 30 minutes to their passion project. They work on it as much as they can.

Ksenia Anske, a self-published author, finished a draft of her new book Corners in 20 days (20 days!!). That’s dedication. Now you don’t need to do exactly what she did, but understand her work ethic.

breaking-branding-22-638If you’re going to start on something, do it with full force. If you only put a fraction of your dedication into it, people will notice. No more half-measures. Mike Ehrmantraut (from TV show Breaking Bad) would agree. Now go forth and invest large in what you want to do. A few things to get you going:

—Next time you procrastinate and put off what you’re thinking about doing, write a journal to yourself. In the journal, write about why you decided not to get started, what you can do better, and what you plan to do to improve.

—I’ve seen this is in a post by The Muse, ask yourself these six questions everyday:

  1. Did I work towards my goals today?
  2. What bad habits do I need to stop?
  3. What motivated me today?
  4. Have I been the kind of person I want to be?
  5. What mistakes did I make today, and what can I learn from them?
  6. What am I grateful for today? (three things)

Your answers to the questions doing have to be super long, they can just be two or three sentences. The point is to do it so you become more aware of yourself and the time you use. Now get started on the the think you want to do!



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Why I’m Self-Publishing


Before the days of Amazon’s Kindle Direct Publishing platform and paperback distributors like Createspace, the way the self-publish your novel meant going to a small indie press, they would make a few dozen of your books and you would hand them out to friends, family, and maybe put an ad in the classifieds sections of newspapers.

Things have come a long way. Self-publishing has exploded in popularity due to easy access tools like Kindle Direct Publishing, Smashwords, and many more. The industry has gained notoreity due to smash hit self-publishing successes like Hugh Howey, Andy Weir, Brenna Aubrey, and E.L James.

Although there are many indie author success stories and self-publishing being tagged with the often touted benefit of having full creative freedom over your work, these were not major reasons as to why I chose self-publishing. Below are some of the reasons why I chose the self-publishing route.

I’m not about that publishing business mindset

When you go the traditionally published route, they whip your novel into shape, promote it, do some release day publicity and then…it’s a matter of being hopeful. Hopeful that readers will buy the book, connect with it, and recommend it to others. What happens if you don’t bring in a desired amount of money? You’re cut. It’s harsh but it something that happens in the traditional publishing industry a lot. I don’t see too much of a problem with it because at the end of the day publishing companies are still businesses. They need/want to hit a certain amount and if you don’t bring in the desired amount of money, you’re cut.

I’m in a tricky, emerging and not yet fully understood genre market

New Adult fiction. I’m sure you’ve heard of it. St. Martin’s Press coined the term in 2009. A genre sometimes labeled as “older YA”, focusing on characters, age 18-25 leaving home, navigating college and career and coming into adulthood. Self-publishing had been driving the genre into popularity.  Despite the growing number of New Adult novels, traditional publishers as well as others still don’t know what to think of the genre. Stereotypes such as it being a genre for reckless behavior, lacking responsibilities and casual sex have circulated.

My novel doesn’t involve any of those things, it just focuses on a woman, recently graduated from college, trying to determine her next direction in life. It has themes of courage, hustle, tenacity, and creating one’s own legacy. Publishing companies probably wouldn’t understand my novel and where it would fit in the book market. I want to be the one to drive readers to my book and show them the struggles so many millennials face when coming into new found adulthood. I understand my brand and novel better than some publishing company would.

Money & Pricing

If I went the traditional publishing route, my book would probably sell for $9.99 for the e-book and $15.00 for the paperback. Even with a publishing company to back me and several marketing and promotional efforts, I still think not as many people would buy the book at these prices as opposed to the lower prices indie titles are at (usually $2.99 or $3.99)

I’m selling my book at a lower price to attract more readers and engage with more readers. Word of mouth and awareness for my novel is far more important than money.

You have a longer window of opportunity with self-publishing 

With traditional publishing, they release your book, do a few book signings, interviews, and after a few weeks, or months, if you can’t bring in a certain amount of money, they pull it from book stores and minimize publicity and marketing. Many traditional published authors have talked about how a lot of the book marketing falls on them after releasing and they get little help from the publishing company.

With self-publishing you months and years on end to reach readers. Maroon 5’s beloved first album, Songs About Jane, was a slow burning success and took over two years to start getting recognition. While this isn’t a self publishing story, it is a good example of how sometimes it takes a while for things to catch on and have the so called “hitting it big”. Self-publishing allows a much longer period of exposure than traditionally publishing books.


Even with the list of reasons why I’m self-publishing, there are some not so sunny sides to it. Many like to romanticize self-publishing. There are things to note when going the indie route. For one, self-publishing (depending on the way you look at it) can get expensive. Developmental editing, copyediting, cover design, formatting, copyrights, and more can add up. Self-publishers spend an average of $2,300 for each book they release. You can spend a lot lower or a lot higher, regardless of the price, you will have to spend a pretty (but not soo pretty) penny to yield a quality book that people would want to buy.

Even though you’re self-publishing, some tradition publishing rules still apply: put together a media kit, figure out target audience, get a good editor, get a good cover design and make a welcoming author website.

Self-publishing has it’s advantages, disadvantages and is a lot of work but I’m embracing it. I can’t wait till I have that feeling of holding my own book in my hands and being able to connect with readers.

Image by Alice Hampton

15 Stages of Writing a Novel {DONE}

1. Getting a genius idea for a novel

anigif_enhanced-21780-1412910809-13You’re so happy about it and you want to tell everyone.

2. The first few thousand words are a breeze.

anigif_enhanced-buzz-3360-1387916722-9This is so great! I’m writing a novel. My idea, characters are so perfect. No one has ever thought of this! Since I have an idea I’m so passionate about, writing this novel is not going to be so hard…

3. You hit a stump and decide to just think about the novel for a while


I’ll just wait for some inspiration to write. It will come to me.

4. You don’t have any inspiration and can’t figure out what to write

anigif_enhanced-29877-1413046081-45. You finally get back into the writing groove

anigif_enhanced-32428-1413045238-11You got this. The idea is still there. Things are coming along. Getting the novel finished will be easy.

6. When friends and family ask “So what’s your novel about?”

anigif_enhanced-buzz-14584-1412898231-237. You’re trying, really trying, to finish the thing but new book ideas keep popping into your head

anigif_enhanced-buzz-23249-1412914210-16This idea is genius…and this idea…and this one too. The only problem?

8. Getting so frustrated, you wish you could just be Kendall and Kylie Jenner and have someone else write “your” book and you put your name on it

Kendall-and-Kylie-Jenner-How-Much-of-Their-Book-Did-They-Write-650x471I mean it counts as your book even though a “co-writer” did all the work, right?

9. You find other quirky writer friends along the way

anigif_enhanced-buzz-1946-1412920766-24They read entire novels in five hours like you. They are struggling to finish a novel just like you. They’re perfect.

10. Although youre still struggling to finish writing

anigif_enhanced-2377-1410976180-911. Various people and obligations start to creep into your writing time

anigif_enhanced-buzz-15997-1387916979-5 Friends want to hang out, and hang out some more. You’re boyfriend/girlfriend wants to spend more time with you. You need to pick something up for someone, have work obligations, etc. etc. etc. RIP writing time.

12. After a while though, you finally get to finishing the first draft


13. You celebrate

anigif_enhanced-29745-1413050393-2All of those people that said you couldn’t write a novel? Yeah, they can keep quiet now.

14. Coming back and reading over the first draft is cringe-inducing


It reads like something from the horror genre with the amount of cliché sentences, descriptions, and plot holes.

15. And you realize you now have to revise…and get it proofread…and formatted…and write a book blurb…and get a cover designed…and get ISBN’s and copyrights…and have people read and review the ARC’s…


The Waiting Room: Book review


Who knew a media law professor could provide me with book recommendations? A few months ago, I mentioned how I was writing a novel to my media law professor. He referenced a past student of his, Alysha Kaye. She was in the process of marketing her debut novel The Waiting Room and it was a few months before publication.

I thought, “Okay, this woman went to Texas State University just like me, so I’m automatically even more interested in her book.”

Then I read the book blurb. Afterlife, reincarnation, waiting for someone after death? It sounded really freaking cool and something I haven’t seen done a lot.

The book starts off in an interesting way: the main character dies. The story explores themes of what happens after we die. Where do we go? Is there an afterlife. 30-year-old Jude dies and wakes up in a waiting room. It’s a place where people wait to be reincarnated into their new lives. They usually are not in the waiting room for any longer than an hour yet for some reason Jude has been in the waiting room for a lot longer than everyone else.

In the waiting room there is a large window people can look out of to see their loved ones who are still living. Jude uses the window to watch his wife Nina. He watches her through the window for decades (that’s some dedication!). He watches her as she copes with his loss and starts to move on with her life.

There are so many reasons why The Waiting Room is so freaking amazing. The concept of deceased people in a waiting room, waiting to be transferring into their new life is really interesting. The book explores a lot of time periods, places, and personalities so every chapter and anecdote always feels fresh and unique.

The author has mentioned how the book morphed out of a cheesy poem she wrote to her then boyfriend. When I was first going into reading this book, I kept thinking how exactly she would navigate Jude and Nina’s relationship. Safe to say, I was blown away at the way she explored the characters relationship while keeping the book interesting and without getting overtly sappy and cliche. Bonus points on that.

My only qualm with the writing was the supporting characters. Kaye did a good job of describing the people that worked in the waiting room but not about the many people that passed through the waiting room. Given how she wanted to show the many different lives people live, it would have been fun to hear more about some of the people in the waiting room. More than just the handful of sentences she used to talk about them.

Also, the author mentioned how some people thought The Waiting Room was the first in a planned book series. I can see how this would be thought. The writing yields themes that could be explored in further books, maybe with different characters, buts still tied in somehow. It reminds me of The Giver by Lois Lowry and how that book spawned three more books in a loose quartet.

The Waiting Room exceeded my expectations of the romance genre and self-publishing. It doesn’t succumb to typical cliches and stays fresh and unique in it’s themes and how it approaches things. Good Read 5/5

Connect with Alysha Kaye:

Website | Blog | Twitter | The Waiting Room on Amazon

Book promotion: Stop trying so hard


Writing a book…is hard. You go through the happy, yet incredibly draining, experience of churning out the work. Then you manage to round up an editor, go through edits, get a cover designed, formatted, and (ah ha!) finally published.

Then it sort of goes nowhere.

Okay, maybe not nowhere. A good pile of reviews come in, book bloggers review the book, you do a blog tour, family and friends buy the book. After a few weeks or months of the promotion, where do you go?

You didn’t write the book for the money, although you would very much appreciate if people bought the book because then you could cover all the costs you went through to get editing, design, and formatting done.

Marketing your novel doesn’t have to be a draining experience. Sometimes, just maybe, the thing you need to do most of all is…very little at all.

I take it you have never heard of the web series High MaitenanceThe show revolves around the people a weed dealer interacts with as he delivers weed to customers around New York City (interesting, right?).

Well, there is insight to be learned from the makers behind High Maintenance. They did hardly any promotion at all for the series.

They sent out the first few episodes of the series to friends, family, and acquaintances…and that was it. They didn’t constantly pester bloggers to review their series, pitch to places, and so forth. The end result of their minimalist promotion? High Maintenance developed a cult following.

Now, I know what you’re thinking. Not all people that do little to zero promotion for their products end up hitting it big. In fact, doing little promotion can be super risky.

Investing tons of your time to marketing your novel (when you should be writing) is another risk you take.

Well, there are some things you can do to help cut down on the time-consuming task of marketing your book and spend it on writing your next book.

Get people to sign up for your author newsletter

People who are subscribed to your author newsletter are around 25X more likely to buy your book than some random blogger you encountered or a Twitter follower you got.

If you don’t have an author newsletter, get one. Services like MailChimp help deliver the newsletter to potential subscribers.

Reach out to other people

Ksenia Anske, author of Siren Suicides, posts her word count for the day on Twitter. She responds to things people ask her. Best yet, she compliments other people on their work.

Talk about your writing process (no, really)

Okay seriously, don’t be another one of those people that posts pictures of your perfectly placed laptop along with a Starbucks cup. Show the actual process of your writing (and include visuals!).

Ksenia Anske posts on her blog about her writing process, how she is coming along, and so forth. She shows her writing process even when it is not so glamourous. People like a raw human element to things. 

When people see you at your rawest self, they have the ability to empathize and connect with you more. These are the types of people that buy your books.

Think of cool, subtle promotional techniques you can do for your book

You know that author newsletter you send out to people? What if had first few chapters of your work in progress in one of the newsletters. Send the first few chapters of your novel out, one by one, for free. Hugh Howey, author of the Wool series, did this at first. His books took off in popularity, partly due to it.

Ksenia Anske gives her books away for free, letting readers download files from the drafts of her novels. This in turn, gets her readers pumped up for the final version of the book.


Marketing a novel is hard work. Don’t let it consume your time and keep you from writing more. The purpose of your marketing should be on building a community around your books rather than just getting people to buy it.



  • This can be risky considering most self-published authors make less than $500 per year.


Would you rather one novel or several?

one great novel or several okay ones


photo by Andre Freitas


There are a lot of crappy novels with even crapper cover designs

This is what I was thinking as I scrolled through different selections of self-published novels on Amazon. As a soon to be self-published author, I always try to look through self-published books on Amazon to buy so I can support my fellow indie authors.

I interact with authors and book bloggers on Twitter and started to notice something. Many self-published writers followed a very strict, militant-style writing routine where they would write for several hours every night of the week and anywhere from 5-12 hours on Saturdays and Sundays. Some people, who had the luxury of not having to do a full-time 9 to 5 job, said they wrote even more than that. Over and over, I kept hearing about how self-published authors apparently need to write between 2-4 novels a year in order to stay relevant and keep people from forgetting about them.

So there comes to be writers who quick draft their manuscripts and complete the journey of word one to publication in 3 to 6 months. They skimp a bit on editing by either getting a not as experienced editor or by only doing certain editing like developmental editing and then opting to skip proofreading editing and just doing it themselves.

Sometimes this works. A lot of times it doesn’t. Authors get so wrapped up in releasing as many books as possible, they forget that if they built a platform where readers could interact and regularly engage with them, the readers wouldn’t suddenly “forget” them if they didn’t release several books every year.

So many authors put out a bunch of books that are less than stellar but could be a lot better if they took the time to do an extra draft, get good quality editing, and have a good book cover design.

I don’t want to be a self-published author who churns out several okay books per year rather than one great one. I don’t want to be one of those self-published authors that has an abundance of typos/grammatical errors and plot holes in their book. I don’t want to be one of those authors who has a shoddy cover design that doesn’t follow certain design guidelines. I don’t want to be one of those self-published authors that gives a bad name to self-publishing by fueling the stereotype that it’s inferior to traditional publishing.

Self-publishing a book can be expensive, but I’d put the money in to creating one great book rather than spreading my money thin by releasing several books a year and not being able to afford professional high-quality editing and book cover design.

There should be a diligent pace in place when writing a novel but you shouldn’t write it so fast you glaze past making it the best it can possibly be.

Jenny Bravo, founder of the blog Blots and Plots and author of the forthcoming novel These are the Moments, posed a question on Twitter about novel writing:

one great novel or several okay ones

I was conflicted about it. Writing several books helps a writer hone his/her craft. In contrast to that, there are also a lot of great authors who have only written one novel.

Margaret Mitchell, Gone with the Wind


J.D. Salinger, The Catcher in the Rye 


Harper Lee, To Kill a Mockingbird*


*To Kill a Mockingbird was Lee’s only novel for over 50 years before it was announced early this year that she was publishing a second novel 

There are a lot of other famous authors who have written only one novel. I’ve been working on my first novel for a while now and felt conflicted about the one novel vs. several novels idea. It didn’t take long before I came to an appropriate response to the idea after another writer on Twitter gave her answer on the question.

Screen Shot 2015-03-23 at 7.24.15 AM


I will continue to write several novels since I want to get better at writing. Will those future novels ever see the light of day/get published? Probably not. I don’t mind it though. As long as I’m working on my craft I’m fine. Many “one novel authors” have most likely written several stories but that one novel was the only one published.

There is a happy medium. Writers can publish several great novels. The idea is to only publish novel you (and beta readers and editors) have faith in.

What do you think? Would you rather write one great novel that touches lots of people and gets several accolades or write several okay novels? 

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Never Settle, Keep Moving Forward

nQZcA7PRTyuduZPSZQ88_wanderlustWith New Year’s resolutions crossing people’s minds, and the everyday grind of work, it can be easy to feel stifled, unmotivated and wanting to be lazy. Don’t fret. Below you’ll find some awesome things to read and to use. Keep churning on!

Praytell Strategy: Never Settle 

Earlier this year, I got in contact with a startup “new school” public relations agency, Praytell Strategy. Aside from them having a freaking amazing site (I thought it was Squarespace, I thought wrong) they also have a great company blog.

One of the blog posts from earlier in the year could be super relatable to writers everywhere (even though it wasn’t even about writers). The agency’s founder, Andy Pray, goes through a rough time while drafting content for a social contest.

The post reminds me of when I was working on the first draft of my novel. Filled with doubt and an extreme critical eye, I would always not last more than thirty minutes or so of continuous writing time before getting frustrated and going on the internet, getting food, and so forth.

So what should you do as you’re trudging through writing and your self-critic won’t shut up as you try to reach your word count?

Keep going

Many times you have to go through the clutter to get the prize. If your writing isn’t working and you feel like throwing in the towel, don’t. Habits take time to build.Sometimes the grand idea is right around the corner.

Go on and read Praytell’s blog post on never settling. It’s short, to the point, and will get you thinking and ready to move.

Stop acting polished

UJO0jYLtRte4qpyA37Xu_9X6A7388 (1) Your workspace isn’t that clean,

You don’t dress like that all the time.

You can’t possibly drink Starbucks everyday.

Sound familiar? Well anyone who takes the daily scroll through social media might know what I’m talking about. People who act like their lives are put together and stunning. Instagram is a prime example. Nearly all of a person’s photos are clean and polished with good contrast, lighting, posture, and overall picture quality.

Really? Is that how your life is?

I thought I was crazy for being the only one thinking this until one of my friends brought it up as well. She was scrolling through Instagram and made a scrunchy face as she saw some particular users post the same type of photos over and over. It may involve the same background, object, selfie, and so forth.

Is it wrong or bad they’re doing this? No. The problem is that it doesn’t let them be as authentic to their users as they could be. The point of this post is not to bully and point a finger at people, the point is to be authentic, be yourself.

Just because other bloggers, entrepreneurs, working professionals, etc. post coffee pictures doesn’t mean you have to. Just because they post about pictures of their boots and how ready for the fall season doesn’t mean you have to.

Be yourself, share what’s going on in your life, not what you think you should be posting.

If you have a hobby, share it. If there is some quirky anecdote you want to share, share it.

Post and share on social media that showcases you, not content and/or an image you think you should have because of others.

 Polished image away

 your authentic self shines now

show you, show true, always


Me (2nd from left) coding this past year on my first site!
Me (2nd from left) coding this past year on my first site!

Photo by: Joshua Earle

Writers & Social Media


Social media is kind of like this mysterious black hole. Besides seeing the constant #pretty or #blessed photos and posts, you aren’t exactly sure what you’re getting out of it. You can put things into it but you’re not exactly sure what you’re going to get out of it. Plus there is the bad habit of social media eating into your writing time.

We all know how important writing time is (especially with NaNoWriMo upon us). Never fear, there are measurable ways and tactics manage your social media.

Moving to the beat of those metrics

Gone are the days of just blindly posting updates/posts and never really knowing how much they were seen. There are ways to see how much exposure your Facebook update, tweet, or Instagram picture got. Facebook Insights, Inconosquare for Instagram, and Analytics for Twitter are great (and free) ways to measure the impact of your social media updates.

With these tools, you can see which weeks were better than some, days that had higher exposure than others, and so forth. No longer do you have to post a super excited tweet with your novel details on a blind eye!

Don’t stop till you hit the post

Posting only at certain times isn’t something you have to religiously follow but it is helpful to know. Whenever you have exciting details about your novel, revealing your cover, or just want to post an update, post during peak hours so as many people can see it as possible.

This helpful infographic from Hub Spot shows the best times to post and even what to include. Isn’t that nifty?

Hootsuite is your kinda sorta awesome best friend that tells you everything

I’m suprised at how many people still don’t know about Hootsuite. I use it all the time for my PRSSA organization and plan to use it even more once I start hardcore promotion for my novel next year.

With Hootsuite, you can schedule messages for future publish. You can also schedule things to post at the same time across all of your social media channels.

This feature is a hugely beneficial way of taking the constant thought of needing to update, logging into all of your channels and posting to each individually.

Once I start using this to post updates, I can set aside a designated time to craft posts. Then for the rest of my time, I can work on what really matters: finishing my novel!


Self-publishing is a lot of work…and a lot of money. You’re having to do nearly all of the marketing and engagement yourself. It takes a lot away from you. It takes a lot away from writing time. Using the right tools can make using social media a little bit more insightful so you know what you’re getting out of it.

I don’t want to promote my novel and engage with other authors without having a little insight into how much exposure I’m getting and how to maximize it. Or maybe I can just post saying I’m Colin Ashby, buy my novel!!! (note: probably wouldn’t work).

Go ahead and check the sources out and see what works for you. Happy writing!

Carnival: Book Review

This summer is running through with great novels coming out. Several binge-reading, addicting books are coming out…and a lot of them are self-published ones. The novel I’m reviewing in this post is Carnival, a new adult romance novel chronicling the life ahead for the protagonist, 18-year-old Charlie.

Carnival by K.B. Nelson

Things are a bit bumpy for Charlie at the beginning of the book. She lives in a small town that doesn’t have much. College plans loom on the horizon. Despite the exciting prospect of going somewhere new, Charlie decides not to go to college. She isn’t exactly sure what she wants to do. She’s up for anything. This carefree attitude leads to her sleeping with a carnie stranger named Blue, at the town carnival.

Blue has been living his whole life on the carnival circuit. He likes the nature of it, traveling around and not staying in one place to long. Things hit a halt when he meets Charlie. For the first time in his life, he isn’t really sure exactly what he wants to do.

Charlie and Blue come together, two people living reckless lives, wondering what choices need to be made. They start to form a bond that most wouldn’t understand. They become an outlet for one another to trust.

Now here’s the thing that might trouble some people about this novel. It isn’t some sugar-coated cliche romance story that ends with a “happily ever after” line. It’s an honest look into two types of people that are still trying to figure themselves out. They experiment with things along the way. Swearing happens throughout the novel. Bad things are done.

The novel is commendable in it’s surprising twists and turns. This isn’t some light soap opera-ish reading. It gives depth to the otherwise ordinary lives that people seem like they’re living on the surface. Nelson is good in crafting the conflict that Charlie faces, wondering what to do with her life. The characterization is very distinct.

4/5 stars: Great, gritty read. Good start to a promising series by author K.B. Nelson. Carnival releases to book retailers July 7th.

To get a taste of carnival, read the first and second teasers that the author had released so far.