Sunday, March 1, 2015

Blue & Black or White & Gold

I'm not sure what makes this 'blue & black' dress a sensation, but it is. Equally puzzling for me is the fact that half of my family/friends see it as black and blue while the other half vehemently argue that it's as white and gold as white and gold can be. Needless to say, the debate (familial and national) has been the tiniest bit frustrating.
 The disagreement is unsettling because the people who aren't seeing the dress in the same 'light' as you - in some situations - are people you love and respect, ones you admire and ones you know would never maliciously try to mess with your head. The reality is I've long suspected that everyone sees colors differently. 

The whole discussion made me realize these differences of opinions happen all day every day and no one questions them to this degree. I suspect that has to do with the fact that the interpretation of colors (excluding people who are color blind) should be relatively objective. Black is black. Blue is blue. White is white. Gold is gold. Usually!  When it comes to books, music, movies, paintings, photography, etc., we've long known that the like or dislike of them is completely dependent on our moods, a lifetimes' worth of experiences, our morals/ethics, our training, our preferences, etc.; therefore, disagreements are not only expected but welcomed. 

I've been writing for years now and have come to the realization that everyone is not always going to think my books are the best thing since sliced bread. This acceptance was a critical step in maturing as an artist and my ability to continue writing. Now, I understand that one reviewer might send me a very personal message, one so sweet it leaves me in tears, letting me know just how much she loved my book while another might hate that same book so much that his/her very public condemnation of my work might be gentler coming from Ming the Merciless himself. 

I've said many times that I only read Fifty Shades of Grey because of its horrible reviews. I knew that if it was on the best sellers lists it couldn't possibly be as bad as the reviewers were making it out to be. Now (and not because of the erotica in the book... in fact... despite the erotica in the book), it's one of my favorite go-to stories/characters. 

As with all great national debates, it proves that not everyone sees the world in the same light. One person's black and blue dress is another person's gold and white dress. One person's favorite book is another's 'worst waste of time'. The most important thing to come from this is the acceptance that we all see things differently. As such, reviews of books (and movies, music, etc.) should be taken with a grain of salt. Just because one person hates a book does not mean that you will. In fact, you might be pleasantly surprised when you take a chance on something others despise. 

Saturday, February 14, 2015

❤ Happy Valentine's Day ❤

It's that time of year again... the time when we let those we love know how much they mean to us, how much we love them, and how thankful we are to have them in our lives.

Having my wonderful husband and my sweet children taken care of, I thought I might offer my fans a coupon code to download a FREE copy of Cheating Time (Longevity, #1) for anyone who LIKES (or has already LIKED) my Facebook Fan Page.

Book: Cheating Time (Longevity, #1) 
Coupon Code: LF77J
Expires: 2/15/15
Age: Young Adult
Genre: Dystopia/Sci-Fi
Pages: 400+
Goodreads Average Rating: 4.5


Carles "Carlie" Enoche's world is one that can barely be imagined. In it, babies have micropharmeceutical devices inserted in their hearts within hours of birth. The MicroPharm implant holds code that secretly counts down until the date of that baby's death (as determined by its genetic analysis) and contains drugs that are released in such a way that chemicals and hormones are in perfect balance at all times, making illness almost unheard of.

Theoretically, the known but unexposed date of the babies' deaths and the maintenance drugs geared toward giving the baby a long life have benign consequences. It is the unknown and unbelievable and unexpected way President John Barone gathers data about every child and the way he releases contraceptives from the device in order to control the population and terminate pregnancies when embryos are identified as weak or mutated that makes the device and its technology as dangerous as any malignancy.

For President Barone, seventeen-year-old Carlie isn’t just a MicroPharm first generation; she is the great-granddaughter of the man who discovered the ability to determine life expectancy down to the day and the daughter of the woman who invented the MicroPharm chip. Carlie and her family are important to President Barone's political career and the plans he has of creating a nation of strong, healthy, and superior people, who give more to their country than they take.

Jayden St. Romaine, one of the Facet's most loyal Surrogate Soldiers, is ordered by President Barone himself to find the Enoche family and kidnap Carlie. Through blackmail, he plans to leverage control over the Enoche's scientific research and the ability to develop even more tools that can be used to genetically engineer a superior race.

When President Barone sends Jayden on his mission, he never expected his perfect soldier to develop a conscience… betray his trust… fall in love with Carlie, but he's dispatched a backup Surrogate Soldier just in case. With the ticking of the clock and the second Surrogate chasing them, Jayden's chances at redemption and Carlie's chances of living a life where she is free to make choices about her life and her body are in jeopardy.

Sunday, November 23, 2014

Schedule of T. R. Graves's Release Activities (Pre-Order Links)

It's no secret that I'm releasing two books back to back. On December 1, 2014, Cheating Time (Longevity, #1) will be released. On December 9, 2014, Since Inception (Vanishing, #1) will be released. What most might not realize is the number of interviews, messages, and guest posts that go along with each release. Since I'm releasing two books at the same time, I'm answering lots of questions and analyzing my books, my characters, and myself in ways that aren't normal for me. Regardless, I'm including the schedule and links below for those interested.

For the bloggers/authors who are supporting these releases and for Shane Morgan of Itching for Books who coordinated the activities, I'm eternally grateful. 

Pre-Order Links for Cheating Time (Longevity, #1):
Barnes & Noble

Here is what Shane has lined up for Cheating Time (Longevity, #1) Release. Don't forget to support these wonderful bloggers, authors, and - of course - the Cheating Time (Longevity, #1) activities they've arranged.

Pre-Order Links for Since Inception (Vanishing, #1):
Barnes & Noble

Here is what Shane has lined up for Since Inception (Vanishing, #1). Release. Don't forget to support these wonderful bloggers, authors, and - of course - the Since Inception (Vanishing, #1) activities they've arranged.

To my fans/friends/family, 
Enjoy the newest books in my collections and have a wonderful and joyous holiday season!


Sunday, November 9, 2014

Toni's Big Six Journey #7

Don’t distance yourself
You’ll get this feeling, this feeling in your heart and you have to. If you distance yourself from your book, if you say you want no part of this and distance yourself from it, then all you are doing is putting words on paper and that will get you nowhere. You have to put your soul into it. You have to break when your characters break. You have to cry when your characters cry. You have to love when your characters love. Hate when they hate. And finally you have to learn to let go just as your characters do. But most importantly you have to feel them.

How you will feel them
You’ll get this pain in your chest. Almost like a quiver in your heart. It will feel worse than anxiety, it will feel worse than getting nervous when you are near your crush. Your heart will stop beating in a way. You won’t feel your normal heart, the normal rhythm. Your heart will feel as though it is shaking, an earthquake is happening inside your chest. Then and only then will you know what it is like to live with more than one heart in your chest.

What it is like to live with more than one heart
You adopt your characters hearts and adapt to them. You will soon see the things that your characters like are the things that you’ll like too. You will see someone and you will think oh that person is so character X’s ideal person and you may slowly start to be attracted to the same style. And it's not because you are losing yourself to your character—although you are in a way—but you are learning yourself through your characters. Sometimes it will because the person will look like a character or have the same behavioral traits as them and that is where it gets dangerous, because no matter how much you want to, you cannot marry your character. But if that person likes you back…well go for it. You in time will learn that the person is a separate entity from your character and learn to love them for who they are and you will also thank your character for introducing you to them. It doesn’t matter if you like someone as a friend, romantically, whatever because they remind you of someone in your book, of course you will be drawn to them, attracted to them, but you have to realize this person is not your character come to life. It is perfectly okay to let that be what attracted you to that person, but you cannot be mad at them if they do not react like your character, behave like your character…and if they do…by all mean marry the person, because you figured it out and brought your character to life so go off and me merry.

Be merry and do lose yourself
But you have to let your characters live off the page and through you if you want a successful story. Because you can’t just sit down with a pen and say, "okay, story time" and write. You need to bring your characters with you everywhere and learn through them and with them and learn them and how they will react. Writing is a 24/7 job not just when you have a pen in your hand. Do not distance yourself from your work, because if you do in time you will no longer pick up a pen.

Share your pens
Don’t be scared by your characters, you created them, let them live. And if need be…give them a pen too.

Side Note
For the love of all things holy I kind of hate the word character(s). To me it is sooooooooooooooooo distancing. To us (to me) they are real; they are more than a one-dimensional ink-conceived literary tool. To me they are three-dimensional and as real as my muse Anne.

Keep writing & remember

Listening to: These Words from Natasha Bedingfield-Natasha Bedingfield

Quotes: “Don’t expect the puppets of your mind to become the people of your story. If they are not realities in your own mind, there is no mysterious alchemy in ink and paper that will turn wooden figures into flesh and blood.”
—Leslie Gordon Barnard, WD

“When writing a novel a writer should create living people; people, not characters. A character is a caricature.”
—Ernest Hemingway

“Whether a character in your novel is full of choler, bile, phlegm, blood or plain old buffalo chips, the fire of life is in there, too, as long as that character lives.”

—James Alexander Thom

Friday, November 7, 2014

FREE - Grave Bound (Secrets, #1) & Left (Still Standing, #1)

For a limited time only, I'm listing two of my books for FREE. Click on the Amazon/B&N link of your choice and download one or both of the books. Consider it a no strings attached gift from me to you and enjoy! 

Grave Bound (Secrets, #1) 


Book cover Designer: Claudia McKinney of Phatpuppy Art

Genre: New Adult Romance - 18+ and older due to language, sexual situations, and violence

Length: 293 pages

Summary: Emily Riddle has lived her entire nineteen years inside a patriarchal commune led by her father and her stepbrothers. There are more rules than she cares to admit, but the most important one, 'keep it in the commune', is the one most difficult for her to abide by... especially since the only people willing to champion her cause live on the outside.

When Emily learns her father and brothers have promised her to Lorenzo, a man she despises down to her core, she rebels. No matter the consequences, she refuses to marry someone who'd rather beat her than caress her.

A day of hooky that starts out as a tiny act of defiance - sneaking out of the commune for a swim - soon turns into the best day of her life. After spending time with Levi, a man camping near the lake, she finds out what true romance looks like and catches a glimpse into a future that's filled with love and admiration rather than hate and submission.

That tiny peek is enough to change the course of Emily's existence and makes it nearly impossible for her to go back to the commune and pretend she will ever be able to tolerate a life chosen for her rather than the life she longs for. One that includes Levi.

Fighting to escape the commune, its leaders, and her fiancĂ© proves to be more dangerous than Emily ever expected. The secrets she knows, as the commune leader's daughter, will either follow her to the grave or send her - and Levi - there.

Book cover Designer: Claudia McKinney of Phatpuppy Art
Photography: Teresa Yeh of Teresa Yeh Photography
Female Hand model: Shana Leah O'Rourke
Male Hand Model: Calen Burr

Genre: New Adult Romance - 18+ and older due to language, sexual situations, and violence

Length: 315 pages

Summary: Your own two feet are all you have when you've been left.

A naive Baylee loves Colt, her boyfriend of four years, more than she ever thought possible. After a little snooping, she's convinced she's well on her way toward hearing an once-in-a-lifetime proposal and starring in the wedding-of-the-year event. Instead, she's blind-sighted by a very public break-up and the crushing news that Colt is marrying someone else... someone more befitting him and the role his father expects him to take in his law firm.

Baylee may have spent years resenting Ariana, her mother, and her suicide, an intolerable show of weakness in Baylee's opinion, but after Colt leaves her just short of the altar, Baylee sees the world through her mother's eyes. She sympathizes with Ariana's actions and realizes that some things—soul deep aches—can irreparably damage you and make moving on nearly impossible.

At least, that's how she feels until she meets Ryker. With his help, Baylee discovers there is life after Colt, and she prepares to move on by pulling herself up by the bootstraps, holding her head high, and standing on her own two feet. Unfortunately, a new jealous and hateful Colt has his own plans for her, and they are plans no one—especially not Baylee—ever saw coming.

Sunday, November 2, 2014

Chasing the Dragon - 2014 NaNoWriMo Project

Chasing the Dragon (Lost Innocence, #1)
Expected Release Date: 3/1/15
Cover: Catriona Crehan
Expected Number of Pages: 300

Summary (draft):

Coming of Age, Holden Caulfield - that is her real name thanks to her drug addict mother - is as confused, lost, and cynical as her namesake, and the events of her life are just as heartbreaking and heart wrenching. Enduring a life overrun with teenage angst, social alienation, and familial controversy, Holden recounts the days leading up to the one that changed her forever.

After the whole school learns her most private secret - courtesy of Robby, her older brother - Holden's life spirals out of control, and she ends up suspended. Unable to take one more minute of hatefulness from Robby or neglect from her parents (two people who are drug dealers and abusers... who are determined to use and abuse their eight children with the same reckless abandon they do their drugs and clients), Holden runs away.

Homeless, she crosses the path of teachers who've failed her, a priest who doesn't believe her, a boyfriend's brother who can't forgive her, a pimp who wants to employ her, and a sister who can't speak to her. With each interaction, her exploration of life vs. death, growing up vs. growing old, and honesty vs. deceit becomes more and more consuming. 

Mentally scarred beyond repair, Holden begins to feel as if her questions have to be addressed. Sooner rather than later.

Sunday, October 26, 2014

Toni's Big Six Journey #6

How realistic do our books need to be?
Seriously, though? Help!
So into my world, or Character L. Charater L has a problem. L wants a way out and by gosh L is going to freak everyone out. The question is…can you make up something that does not exist for your book? I mean if there was a person who could make this happen then it could exist? Technically this does exist just not in the form I want or the intensity, but can I make it be real in my book’s world? And I know I am being vague, but L needs some privacy right now.
Okay, so aside from all that where is the line drawn from fiction to factual. Obviously your book has to follow the rules of life unless it is a sci-fi book, but how far is too far when it is fiction? John Green wrote this well (in the Collectors Edition Acknowledgments of The Fault in Our Stars), “I am also indebted to The Biology of Cancer by Robert A. Weinberg, and to Josh Sundquist, Marshall Urist, and Jonneke Hollanders, who shared their time and expertise with me on medical matters, which I cheerfully ignored when I suited my whims.” and everything seemed copacetic to me. So where did he ignore the advice and make things up? I mean, yes, obviously with the Phalanxifor, but that was real for the book. It was a medicine for HG that exists in the world of the book, just like we have medicines in our world.
Can I ignore some basic rules and do what I want? 
One of my friends who at one point in her teen years wanted to be a nurse said, “your book can be fiction, but it has to be factual.” So again back to the question above can I create a better version, a purer, a realer version of something that exists in our world? 
There have been things I have chosen to ignore for my books and thought I would get into literary realisticality trouble (yes, I make up words to suit my whims), but there is a way for him to do what he has to do in the story and still function and not have trouble with it and I only learned that about two weeks ago, and hell I was going to ignore the real world and just let Devon be Devon.
And who is to say that what you invent, in your characters’ world, for your characters’ world can’t be real? (And I hate calling them characters because they are REAL to me.) Just because it does not exist in our world does not mean it cannot exist for them.  Otherwise what is the point of fiction? Fiction is to take away and create a third-space world for us. You as the writers of fiction are tasked with the burden to create from nothing and create well.  I am using this as an example I am not calling us God. God created the world and everything in it, and I don’t really care at the moment your personal belief, so just work with me here for a minute, ‘kay? God created from nothing, He had to have a lot of imagination, things that He brought into being never existed before.  So why can’t we do the same?
OBVIOUSLY, a talking dog would be sci-fi-esque, for lack of a better example, but who is to say that in the future that isn’t reality? Who is to tell me that Devon cannot do that or that or this, because in reality that just doesn’t happen? Well Devon is Devon and he is who he is and why the hell can’t he be strong and whatever he needs to be for the story?
So, writers, do what you want. Create what you want. Write what you want. If you get feedback that "no this doesn’t feel right, this isn’t realistic" from one person and “I love this” from five others, do what you want. Keep it, trash it. Don’t of course do something ridiculous, but maybe also do. Whatever you do, whatever you write will always be criticized. Someone will claim to be able to write a better version of your story, a more realistic version (they obviously have no imagination). Someone will hate it. Someone will love it. That’s the thing about writing, about story, not every story is for everyone. Every time you put pen to paper you are at a risk. Every time I pick up a book it is a risk of whether or not I will like it or hate it, but no matter what I respect the craft. If I don’t like a book I don’t review it, if I love it I am outspoken on social media about it (Graves has been witness to this).
Write for yourself and for your characters, don’t write for the general public. Yes, of course go for publishing, but remember whom the book is for, you and your darlings. Once you write for someone else or the public you’ve lost the battle before it begins, you’re done. Click your pen closed, cap your pen, break your pencil point, close your computer, shut off the voice to text program, you are finished. Because if you write for someone else you lose sight of what is important. You write for you. You write for your darlings. That is it. It is that simple. That simple.
So what did we learn here? You are the writer—or your characters as my case goes—write what feels right, leave out what doesn’t and just go for it. Write those words, because no one can for you and no one can write like you can write and no one can tell the story the way you can. So tell the story in the words you chose, in the way you chose, and finish it. And do what you need to do after that: publish, share privately, burn the thing. Just do what feels right. And if it horrible, DON’T worry…someone will tell you
Listening to:  The War from The Fragile World (Avox)-David Hodges, John Campbell
Quote: “Fiction is the form of any work that deals, in part or in whole, with information or events that are not real, but rather, imaginary and theoretical—that is, invented by the author.” –Wikipedia

Peace, Love, & Inspiration
Keep writing & remember
Toni &