One Semester Down…

Photo by Nick Morrison on Unsplash

I just finished my first semester of my Bachelor’s degree in marketing. It’s the first step in a long journey, but it’s progress. Looking at my (unofficial) transcript evaluation, I have quite a ways to go before I hold that piece of paper in my hands. I’m still proud of myself for taking this step, though. I know more about marketing than I knew 16 weeks ago, and I’m pretty sure I made the Dean’s List.

I’m also really glad I have the next three weeks off before jumping into the next semester. My brain is happy for the break.

I plan on using this time to finish my WIP (second chance divorce romance), complete final edits for A Disturbing Prospect, enjoy the holidays with my family, and in general just rest. It’s been a rough 16 weeks full of the typical stress of college, plus some health issues and financial struggles.

I’m a tired girl.

Free Fall

Photo by ian dooley on Unsplash

One of my greatest fears is falling. It’s not the height that scares me. It’s the fast lack of grip, the surge to the bottom. I don’t like being out of control.

Never have.

Ironically, a recurring theme in my life is losing control. I never learn to let go and enjoy the fall, see where it takes me.

Never will.

For the past four months, I’ve been fighting to keep my health insurance plan. My state changed the minimum annual income requirement back in March, and we’re now $400 over the mark. $400 is far from enough to cover the cost of a yearly deductible and monthly premium, plus co-pays and prescriptions. Yet in the state’s eyes, we should be able to afford it no problem. They don’t account for rent and heat. They don’t even look at your income after taxes.

We looked at my husband’s company’s insurance plan, too. Even though it’s a bit cheaper than one of the state market’s plans, we still can’t afford it.

We’re already struggling.

I’m really grateful that we had state insurance these past few years. Because of it, I was able to get a diagnosis and start treatment for my UCTD. Still, we can’t afford another plan, and we definitely can’t afford my treatment and monitoring without insurance.

I looked into several avenues, but they all came down to one thing: soon I’d be out of medicine.

Once I run out of medicine, my disease becomes aggressive. It isn’t long before I’m bedridden again and I’m unable to care for myself. To write. To live.

I felt myself spinning out of control. One of my other greatest fears is my disease. I’ve worked hard to get to where I am. I’ll be damned if I go back.

The fear is suffocating. My rheumatologist and I have determined that Plaquenil isn’t enough, that I need to add other medicines. Plaquenil has been so very therapeutic for me, but it’s not a magic bullet. I still have pain and stiffness, fatigue and brain fog, and other symptoms that may be related but definitely need further testing.

It doesn’t help that someone I love with an even more severe condition is losing her insurance, too. Chronically ill people rely on social services, but those programs are always the first to go when states need to make budget cuts.

I’m too scared to feel angry.

I have one last thing I can try. It’s a long shot, and I’m only going to have a small window. If I’m successful, it’ll be the net that catches me at the bottom. If I fail, well… I guess I’ll have to finally learn to let go.

It’s Sad How Great This Trump Anthology Is

Satire and parody are two of my favorite forms of comedy. I grew up with and loved MADtv (and I’m not sorry that SNL will never compare, try as they might). I’ve always skirted the edges of writing comedy, though—mostly because I’m weird and not sure the world is ready for me.

That’s all about to change.

Steaks, Walls, and Dossiers: The Best Trump Anthology Ever (Featuring "She's Totally Changed Her Look," by Elizabeth Barone)
Steaks, Walls, and Dossiers: The Best Trump Anthology Ever (Featuring “She’s Totally Changed Her Look,” by Elizabeth Barone)
The Best Trump Anthology Ever

Time assassins. The entire nation of Scotland. Satan himself.

You thought President Donald J. Trump was outrageous? See 13 fictional Trumps combat absurd enemies in these amazing 16 short stories—the BEST ever.

Some classy but most downright ludicrous, these tremendously winning stories are going to take care of your need for entertainment, Little Reader Man. Believe me!

We’re making fiction great again for billions and trillions of incredible readers just like you. You know it, I know it, everybody knows it. Grab your copy now!

These stories are imploding, and soon will explode. To miss out would cause an absolute and total catastrophe. Buy the book now before the price goes up!

WARNING: Not suitable for low-energy types, weak men, losers, lightweights, zeros, Crazy Megyn, Crooked Hillary or Lyin’ Ted!

What are you waiting for? Do your thing, Little Reader Man!

From “She’s Totally Changed Her Look”:

Gazing out from the view of his penthouse in Trump Tower, Donald Trump eyed his city with satisfaction. In the morning, he would be sworn in as the 45th president of the United States. Everything was going according to plan. It wouldn’t be long until he made America great again.

He frowned. The mob of protesters still surrounded his tower. It wasn’t fair. Protesters, he mused, ought to be thrown in jail. They were terrorists, plain and simple. The first thing he was going to have Jeff Sessions do as Attorney General was punish them all.

Grinding his teeth, he shook his head at them in contempt. His jaw stuck out, a nearly permanent expression from years of clenching. He turned from the window and drew the curtains closed behind him. Already clad in pajamas, he ambled past his empty California king and back into the master bathroom. Melania, his wife, kept her own apartment in Trump Tower on the floor beneath him, and would move into the White House as First Lady. He, on the other hand, he mused as he popped in his nightguard, would remain in Trump Tower. A president should look over his people, not out at them.

Steaks, Walls, and Dossiers features my debut into political satire, “She’s Totally Changed Her Look.” Writing has always been my way of figuring out and coping with the world around me. Participating in this anthology was A) cheaper than therapy and B) an exciting opportunity to stretch my comedic muscles.

It’s also currently on sale for only $0.99—for a limited time. Grab your copy now, and get ready to relax with some laughs.

Can’t Win (Plaquenil, 1 Year)

My Christmas cactus that I got the same day I started Plaquenil.

Today I’ve been on Plaquenil for exactly one year. While Plaquenil and Prednisone worked really well for my joint pain, both gave me some unfavorable side effects. Prednisone made my blood sugar skyrocket and threw some of my other labs off, so I had to wean off it. Plaquenil did okay on its own, but for some reason the GI side effects—diarrhea, heartburn—just keep getting worse. I had to come down to one pill a day instead of two.

I’m feeling it.

My rheumatologist said that if I flare, she’ll put me back on Prednisone, so there’s a good chance I’ll be starting it soon. I want to feel better—and I really want my hands and hips back—but I’m scared of the high blood pressure, freaky blood sugar, and weight gain. So I may have been holding off on making that phone call.

It feels like I can’t win.

This may be TMI, but Plaquenil can be an outright asshole. At first it seemed like it wasn’t getting along with dairy, but now it seems to give me diarrhea randomly. Heartburn, too. You’d think those are minor side effects, but trust me, they can quickly ruin your day. And your night.

SIGH.

Still, I look at posts and pictures from a year ago, and I know these two medications have saved me, side effects be damned. It comes down to a choice: would I rather debilitating joint pain and fatigue, or random bouts of diarrhea and heartburn, paired with high blood pressure, blood sugar spikes and crashes, and hot flashes?

via GIPHY

I’m trying to hang in there until my rheumatology appointment; playing phone tag is not my idea of fun, and I get shitty cell service in my apartment, which makes it even worse. I’d rather speak to her in person and go over our options. (She’s wonderful on the phone, too, but connecting is always a challenge.)

My appointment is almost two weeks away, though, so I’m gonna have to call.

It doesn’t help that I’m facing losing my health insurance, but that’s a whole other post. The gist of it is, my state changed its income regulations this year and we are now just a couple hundred dollars over the requirement. Yet we can’t afford a monthly premium and we sure as hell can’t afford appointments and prescriptions out of pocket. A friend suggested I can appeal the denial, but we weren’t denied—I’m stuck in an Access Health CT website loop. (If you live in my state, you know what I mean.) So that’s another phone call I’m dreading but have to make.

via GIPHY

It’ll work out, though. In the meantime it’s all about managing my pain and anxiety.

On the plus side, if I start Prednisone again, I’ll be able to take notes for my classes. (My hands have not been digging this whole pen holding thing.) I’ll also be able to type faster.

And did I mention that my beautiful Christmas cactus is now a year old? It’s now so full and there are several vibrant blooms (with dozens more budding). A month ago, it didn’t seem like it was going to bloom at all. A year ago, I wasn’t sure I could keep it alive. (I’m all right with succulents, but this one came from a pharmacy and I didn’t know how it would do.)

There’s a metaphor in here about patience and faith. I think.

How to Stop the FCC From Gutting Net Neutrality

I wrote up a post with some tactics for stopping the FCC over on Facebook and also shared it on Twitter, but just in case it somehow gets lost, I’m reposting the instructions here.

Call and Write Your State Senators

You can find your House representative by visiting https://www.house.gov/representati…/find-your-representative

Find your Senator by visiting https://www.senate.gov/senators/contact/

If you’re phone shy, you can call after hours and leave a voicemail; however, mailboxes often fill and you might not get your voice heard. It’s best to speak with a member of your rep’s team.

You can also use Resist Bot to fax your reps in just a few texts. Text RESIST to 504-09.

File a Public Comment with the FCC’s Proposal

Visit fcc.gov, click “File a Public Comment,” then add “Express Reply” to proceeding 17-108. (It’s the most popular, so it should be on top, but you can search for it if not.)

Email a Complaint to FCC Commissioners

We know at least one commissioner is staunchly against the proposal. Let’s put some pressure on the others. They vote December 14th, and 3 of the 5 members are Republicans. Email them directly and tell them that you are a consumer and disagree with the proposal, and will not support them in future endeavors if they vote to end net neutrality.

Here’s how to contact them.

Federal Communications Commission
445 12th Street SW, Washington, DC 20554

Phone: 1-888-225-5322
TTY: 1-888-835-5322
ASL Videophone: 1-844-432-2275
Fax: 1-866-418-0232

You can also email each commissioner directly: https://www.fcc.gov/about/contact

Call Your Cable and Internet Provider

Some internet providers are supporting the FCC’s proposal because it’ll make them a lot of money. “Coincidently,” AT&T and Verizon are supporting this—and they were the ones charging consumers out the nose before net neutrality was introduced. Call your provider and tell them that if they support the FCC’s proposal, you will no longer be a customer.

AT&T: https://www.att.com/contactus/
Comcast: https://www.xfinity.com/support/…
Frontier: https://frontier.com/contact-us#/residential
Optimum: https://www.optimum.net/support/contact-us
Verizon: https://www.verizon.com/…/residenti…/contact-us/homepage.htm

Share This Post

It’s important that we put the pressure on the FCC, our reps, AND cable/internet providers. We need to make a lot of noise about this, so please **SHARE THIS POST** often.

If I’ve missed anything, let me know and I’ll update it!

5 Tips for Posting Book+Main Bites

Book+Main Author Dashboard

So your Book+Main author account has been approved. You’re ready to start posting bites, but you don’t know where to start. Don’t worry—I’ve got your back with five quick tips!

Pick an Enticing Bite

Start off with selecting a scene from your book. Bites seem to work best when the scene is short but leaves the reader aching for more. The point here, after all, is to give readers a tiny taste of your story that’ll make them want the whole dessert. Pick a passage that doesn’t need a whole lot of context and ends on a sort of cliffhanger.

Choose a Relevant, Eye-Catching Image

You can’t post a bite without an image, and it’s the first thing that readers see as they’re scrolling through the site or app, so you need to make it a good one. (Friendly reminder that you must have the rights to use any images you post! Swiping pics from Pinterest, etc is absolutely not allowed.) Just like with teaser images, you don’t want to just slap any pic on your bite.

Some good practices for choosing stock photos for bites include:

Add Your Books

This might seem obvious, but you’d be surprised how many bites I’ve read only to find that the author hasn’t linked the book to their account (or, worse, they linked the wrong book). To add your books, go to your Dashboard. Under My Books, click Add Book. You can add books by ASIN or ISBN.

Make sure you add both your Amazon and iBooks links, whenever possible. The goal here is to capture sales, and not every reader prefers Kindle.

Share on Social Media

Since Book+Main is just starting out, you might find that your readers aren’t there yet. It’s your job to entice them over to the dark side—I mean, website. Once you’ve posted a bite, share it on your existing platform: social media, email list, etc.

To really entice your existing platform, share bites that they can’t get anywhere else. B.L. Berry recently posted a bonus scene in the POV of a side character. Readers can’t see bites unless they create a free account, so give them a good reason to!

Schedule

Book+Main says you can only post three bites a day. When I got approved, it was only a few hours before midnight, so I went wild and posted three bites back to back. Turns out you can only post three within a 24-hour period.

To use this to your benefit, take advantage of Book+Main’s scheduling feature. It’s actually pretty simple. Just choose the date and time.

Book+Main is still new, so no one knows its peak times… yet. (Meaning, when the most people are on.) Facebook’s seems to be 8:00 a.m. and Twitter’s seems to be 1:00 p.m. EST—your mileage may vary. At the moment, I’m scheduling bites for either of those times, to see if that makes a difference.

Test, Test, Test

Don’t be afraid to try new things (within Book+Main’s rules, of course). We have the opportunity to be the pioneers of this new site, so have fun with it! Make note of things that work and things that don’t.

Are you on Book+Main? Follow me and I’ll follow you back!

Trigger Warnings for A DISTURBING PROSPECT

Photo by Michael Mroczek on Unsplash

A Disturbing Prospect is the darkest book I’ve ever written. Not only is there a body count, but the book also deals with some real-life nightmares that I’ve longed to fight back against. Some of these themes may trigger personal trauma.

I needed to tell the story in my heart and right some wrongs, but I’d also never want anyone to suffer because of my words. None of these themes are gratuitously presented in the book, and my vigilante bikers always prevail. Still, I want my readers to be safe, so here is a list of potential triggers.

Animals: There’s no pet death in A Disturbing Prospect, but an animal is harmed.

Childhood Sexual Abuse: Some of the characters have a history of being sexually abused as children. None of their memories are described, but there is mention of it having happened.

Self-Injury: A character catches a glimpse of another character’s self-mutilated arms.

Sexual Assault: One of the recurring themes in this series is violence against women and children. (One of the other recurring themes, however, is justice for that violence.) There are some hints of past sexual assault throughout A Disturbing Prospect.

Stalking: A character mercilessly stalks and taunts another character throughout A Disturbing Prospect.

Violence: All of the good guys in this series are vigilantes—antiheroes who take justice into their own hands. There is blood, fighting, gun violence, and a villain body count.

If you feel that you won’t be safe reading A Disturbing Prospect, please don’t risk your health. As a sexual assault survivor and someone with PTSD, I wish every book came with a list of trigger warnings. No book is worth risking your safety.

If you’ve read A Disturbing Prospect and feel that I may have missed something, please email me at elizabethbaronebooks@gmail.com.


A nod to Tess Sharpe, who wrote up a similar list for her forthcoming release and made me feel like less of an alien for wanting trigger warnings.

Win a Signed Copy of THE NANNY WITH THE SKULL TATTOOS

Enter to Win a Signed Copy of The Nanny with the Skull Tattoos, by Elizabeth Barone, via Goodreads

I’m hosting a mega giveaway over on Goodreads right now, with five signed copies of The Nanny with the Skull Tattoos up for grabs! If you haven’t read The Nanny with the Skull Tattoos yet, now’s your chance. The giveaway closes November 30th, and you must have a Goodreads or Facebook account to enter.

Blurb

Single dad Max isn’t looking for love—or so he thinks.​

Single dad Max isn’t looking for love—he only needs someone to help take care of his two-year-old daughter, Chloe. Or so he thinks. After being kicked out of his parents’ house, he’s determined to make it on his own. But juggling a full-time job, an undergrad program, and childcare is pretty much impossible. When his best friend jokingly suggests he post an ad for a live-in nanny on Craigslist, he goes for it. After all, he has nothing to lose . . . right?

When artist Savannah quickly responds to his ad, Max is thrilled. Her resume is perfect and Chloe seems to like her, despite the slightly menacing tattoos decorating her arm. Savannah brings a light and warmth into his life that he never thought possible. Max hasn’t so much as dated since Chloe was born, but he’s willing to give it a shot with Savannah. There’s just one problem.

Everything is perfect just the way it is. Even his daughter is happy. If he messed up things up with Savannah, how could he ever forgive himself?

Enter to Win

Goodreads Book Giveaway

The Nanny with the Skull Tattoos by Elizabeth Barone

The Nanny with the Skull Tattoos

by Elizabeth Barone

Giveaway ends November 30, 2017.

See the giveaway details
at Goodreads.

Enter Giveaway

Can’t wait? Grab an ebook copy for only $0.99 (regular $3.99).

BUY NOW

Kindle · iBooks · Nook · More

WIP Wednesday: The Sex That Rockstars Write Songs About

Photo by Nik MacMillan on Unsplash

It’s WIP Wednesday, and since my Facebook fans asked so nicely yesterday, today I’m sharing a little snippet from A Disturbing Prospect. I’m elbow deep in edits and every scene makes me so excited for you to meet Cliff and Olivia. I have to confess, Olivia is my favorite character that I’ve written to date. I’m so pleased to introduce you to her!

Olivia

I glance over at Lucy. She’s sitting at the desk, pen in hand, making a grocery list. We have a mini fridge and a microwave, so my expectations are pretty low. “Is that why you never want to get married?”

There’s no answer because the door opens and all six-plus feet of Cliff bursts into the room. His brown eyes are actually smiling, and someone must’ve taken pity on him because his wild beard has been tamed back into a goatee. He instantly earns back twenty hot points.

“I have good news.” His gaze flits from me to Lucy, then back to me.

One of my eyebrows lifts out of habit, but I’m so busy wondering why he’s telling me that I miss whatever good news he wants to share.

“That’s awesome!” Lucy flies across the room and flings herself into his arms.

He wraps her in a bear hug, an amused look on his face. “Isn’t it? You don’t need to go grocery shopping now.”

She relaxes into his embrace. “I know,” she says dreamily. “We can take the train back and eat at my place.”

Clearing my throat, I shake my head. “Uh-uh, we have a deal.”

Stepping back from Cliff, Lucy presses her lips together and gives me a little nod. “Yeah, you’re right. We need to celebrate!” She hugs him again. “I’m so glad you’re coming home,” she says into his chest.

A twinge of jealousy runs through me. I want to be hugging him, celebrating his good news. It’s totally stupid. I don’t know him, and I don’t plan on it. One night is enough for me, and then it’s occasional family gatherings. No hugs or lullabies. I’m going to reintegrate him into society by fucking his brains out, then it’s back to class for me.

“And I’m glad I don’t have to do laundry now.” I toss the bag to the side, then reach for my cigarettes.

“Not so fast,” Lucy says. “It’s still gotta get done. I’m not putting his dirty clothes into my suitcase with my clean clothes.”

Cliff glances back and forth between us. He holds up his hands. They’re huge and square, perfect for massaging naked breasts. Twenty more hot points, which puts him at 110. Off the fucking charts, even with the crusty socks. Fuck me. I think I’m actually going to swoon.

“You don’t have to do that.” He smiles at me—really, for real smiles—and nods toward the bag. “Toss that over. I’ve got it.”

Lucy snorts. Both of us turn toward her. “Dude, you don’t even know how to do laundry.”

He scowls at her. “What do you think I am, a fucking rock? I can figure it out.”

My sister’s lips press together, and I can practically see the laugh throwing itself at her closed mouth, trying to break through. “What if Livvie goes with you? She’s gotta do her own anyway. And mine.” She smiles sweetly at me.

“Tequila,” I remind her.

She nods. “Have fun.”

* * *

The laundromat is empty, thank goodness. It’s going to be embarrassing enough for the guy to have to be taught how to do laundry. I show him how to load the card at the kiosk, then take him over to the machines.

“You just throw everything in,” I explain, reaching for my laundry bag. But I don’t take my own advice. Reaching for everything slowly, I pause every time I get to a lacy little thong, making sure he sees it. “Then,” I bend over slowly, “you swipe your card, set your time . . .” I straighten and pour detergent and fabric softener into their respective compartments, the liquid a slow drizzle.

When I sneak a glance at him, he’s making zero effort to conceal the fact that he’s staring at me. Suddenly it really sinks in that we’re alone. There’s an employee somewhere, probably reading a magazine or watching evening television. Crazy porn-esque thoughts stampede through my head: Cliff shoving me against the machines, his teeth digging into my lower lip as he sucks on it, his knee between my legs.

A whimper escapes my lips.

The heat in his eyes is searing, flames edging toward my skin, threatening to consume me and reduce me to ashes. And I’m not even at all scared. I want it so bad, I’m shaking.

He takes a step toward me.

Swallowing hard, I move in. I’ve never been one to let anyone else make the first move. I reach for his shoulders, my lips already parting. I’m wetter than I’ve ever been in my life. This is going to be it, the sex that rockstars write songs about. The kind of sex I can look back on when I’m married with two-point-five kids and I’m covered in baby goo. It’ll be the lay to close my list.

I step forward. He closes the distance between us. Rising up on the balls of my feet, I take aim. He reaches behind me. My eyes flutter as I realize he’s going to lift me up onto one of the tables and take me right here.

A beep sounds.

I open my eyes. Cliff takes a step back and turns away. The washing machine begins to fill, water and soap sluicing around my clothes.

“Thanks for your help,” he says over his shoulder, already setting up his own machine.

Heart thundering in my chest, I make a beeline for the door, a cigarette already between my lips. Stupid, stupid, stupid, my heartbeat punctuates my thoughts.

Learn more about A Disturbing Prospect and add it to your Goodreads shelves here!

A Whole Year Younger

Another day, another nap.

Recently I realized that I have blog posts dating back to 2004 archived on an external hard drive. This is a slightly terrifying prospect, because hello, teenage angst! They come in handy sometimes, though.

Reading through old writings can give you new perspective on a situation. They can also give you a better birthdate for your cat.

That’s right, folks—Squirt is a whole year younger than I thought! 😂 I thought she was 14 but she is, in fact, 13. (Again?) When I let her know, she just flicked her gaze away from me disdainfully.

She has naps to take, people.

It seems like I got her in May or June of 2004, so she was probably born in March or April 2004. Some people pay big bucks to look younger, but not Squirt—she actually is younger! (Plus there’s the fact that she is tiny and doesn’t at all look or act like an older cat, aside from being more cuddly and taking more naps.)

There you have it, folks—musings from a kooky cat lady who is procrastinating all of the things. #amediting #amschooling #amwishingiwasnapping

PS: Does anyone know how to import LiveJournal XML posts to WordPress? I can’t figure it out for the life of me, and the plugins I’ve tried all suck. Not that the world really needs to read my angsty teen blogs, but it’s a hell of a lot easier reading them here than it is to squint at an XML file, and I kind of like scrolling through (some of) memory lane.