New Books and Free Stuff!

Hi All! Summer is upon us, bringing with it some awesome weather and some awesome new books! Check out this latest release by Ryan Lanz! Also, scroll to the bottom for FREE ebooks!
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Shadows of Tomorrow features two thrilling, post-apocalyptic short stories, Only One Mask and The Price of Art.

 

Only One Mask:

Nob only trusts two things: his knife and his breathing mask–the latter because he has to.

Ever since the world went crazy, he feels like he’s always on the run. Running from those who want to kill you. Running from those who want your food, your water, and your only way to safely breathe.

Tricia once said he takes things too seriously. That was a long time ago. Now taking things seriously keeps him alive.

He’s used to taking what he needs without an ounce of guilt, but now he’s faced with a moral dilemma that threatens his survival. They’ve never given him pause before, but this time, it’s different.

 

The Price of Art:

Jordyn prefers art to friends.

She remembered thinking that growing up, and it’s still true today. Art never let her down. Art never made fun of her. And art never tried to kill her.

She didn’t ask to live in a world where paintings are used for firewood, but that’s her reality. She’s constantly told to think practically–humanity can’t afford anything but the necessities to survive anymore. But she fought back and finally found a community who lets her keep every scrap of art she finds, anything to protect them from being destroyed.

But the day finally comes where she might have to choose between her survival and the survival of her art. The world isn’t a nice place anymore, and hard choices have become a part of everyday life.

Jordyn makes her choice.

 

Read it for only $0.99:

For a sample and more, visit the launch page!

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In other news:

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Because this month is my birthday month, Return to Royalty and Return to Gexalatia are free on Smashwords for the whole month of July! Yay!

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Simply go HERE for Return to Royalty and enter the promo code NM43C and go HERE for Return to Gexalatia and enter the promo code KT77G! Both codes are good until August 6, 2018.

Happy reading!

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Sorry for the radio silence…

I know I haven’t been consistent the last few weeks with Friday Blog Posts, but this past week was a little bit of an exception.

On Monday we took Daisy, my 8-year-old border collie mix to the vet. She’d been vomiting and not eating, so we thought maybe a stomach bug or infection. The vet spent several hours doing X-rays and bloodwork, only to determine that she didn’t know what was wrong with Daisy. She referred us to a specialist to get an ultrasound.

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On Tuesday, we took Daisy to the specialist, who looked at her X-rays and palpated her abdomen, where she found a tennis ball to baseball sized lump. She wanted to rush Daisy into surgery Tuesday evening to remove the lump and biopsy it and resect her intestines, which is where the lump is sitting, which is why Daisy was vomiting and not hungry. The lump is causing a partial blockage, making it difficult for Daisy to eat.

Unfortunately, we didn’t have $5,000 to give the specialist to do the surgery, so we left, thinking we would go to Texas A&M’s teaching hospital. When Jake, our younger border collie, got sick and had the cyst on his brain stem, TAMU let us set up a payment plan and found research grants and all sorts of stuff to help us. We were prepared to drive two hours with Daisy to College Station, but TAMU didn’t take Care Credit, which we need to use because we don’t have a lot of money. They were willing to do a payment plan, but they needed 40% upfront, which we couldn’t make without the Care Credit.

So, once again, we were back to the drawing board.

While I was lying on the couch having a tearful breakdown, my husband was on the internet, finding ways to find a vet who would work with us. We love Daisy. We would throw any amount of money at a vet, if only we had it to do so.

Fortunately, James found a website called VetBilling.com. It lists vets in your area who will take payment plans. Yay! There was hope again.

On Wednesday, we took Daisy to a vet across town from us, more than an hour’s drive, because they are accredited and participated in Vet Billing. They were the best we could get, outside of the specialist who wouldn’t give us a payment plan. They looked at Daisy’s X-rays and did an ultrasound and a cytology. The doctor came back with crushing news.

It looks like Daisy’s lump is lymphoma, a type of cancer.

He wanted to send the sample to a pathologist and would have results on Friday. In the meantime, he put her on prescription food to help her eat. Thursday I took her with me to Petco and Petsmart. We had a nice afternoon of driving around, and I cried when I came home because I can’t imagine not having Daisy.

Daisy is special to me. I know a lot of pets are special to a lot of people, but Daisy is special because she was my friend when I didn’t have any friends and was caught in the throes of a bad, borderline abusive, relationship. She went everywhere with me. We did everything together. She was with me while I cried about my life choices. She kept me going and kept me sane and happy.

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Friday couldn’t come quick enough, but it brought worse news. The sample wasn’t lymphoma. It was adenocarcinoma. According to the National Canine Cancer Foundation, intestinal cancer affects 10% of dogs, with collies being prone to it. Of that 10%, only 17% develop adenocarcinoma. Most dogs with it are male. That means that technically, Daisy had less than 1% chance of having this cancer.

All my wuts. If we could channel this luck into the lottery, we could win a ton of money.

The vet we’re working with is really awesome. He’s been working during not-normal hours, and he has given me his cell to contact him. He’s put a rush on all of Daisy’s results, because he knows cancers like this are aggressive. They metastasize very quickly to other organs. He called me Saturday evening to talk about bringing her in for surgery.

On Saturday, we took Daisy down to Galveston. We decided that if she was going to have surgery soon, we wanted her to have a last, fun day before all of that starts. She had a blast. She chased the birds and went in the water and rolled in the sand. She even played with a tennis ball, which she hasn’t done in a while (she’s pretty lazy!).

She’s scheduled to be dropped off at the vet’s on Monday morning for pre-op testing. Her surgery will be Tuesday, where they will remove the tumor and resect her intestines. They will send it off for a more thorough biopsy, and most likely we will go to an oncologist for further treatments and chemo. She will be able to come home Wednesday evening, after a night of observation.

I really wish that this wasn’t happening, but I’m glad that we caught it. We’re hoping it’s early enough, because by the time they start presenting, they usually have a poor prognosis. I hope that’s not Daisy’s case. She’s not that old. She has many more beach days and dog park days and lazy, lay around the house days ahead of her.

We are asking for donations to help with Daisy’s care. If you’d like to send her money, please go to this link:

PayPal.me/JamesAMBarrera

I’m making a mug that I will send to everyone who donates $5 or more. Be sure to include your name and mailing address so that Daisy and I can send your thank-you gift!

I will post updates about Daisy on my Facebook page.

Another Writing Prompt!

Lust or Death? A prince and princess meet on the battlefield; both arrogant warriors and on opposing teams. They are both violent and patriotic, but there is a clear physical attraction. The prince is a brute and the princess is a seductress. How do they end up alone and what happens?

Rain was pelting her face, obscuring her view. She wiped the water from her eyes, smoothing wet strands of hair away. The end of her braid was heavy over her shoulder, the wind blowing the feathers tucked into it. She twirled her swords easily, cutting into an approaching opponent. With a sickening slosh of blood, he fell dead, leaving the path before her clear.

She looked up slowly, straightening as a man stood before her. She watched as he used an axe to cleave into one of her men, dislodging the blade with an easy swing.

“Here we are at last, Princess,” he said mockingly as he approached her.

She tightened the grip on her scimitars, feeling the battle around them beginning to ease. This had gone of for hours. They both were in prime condition, but she knew he had to be feeling the strain of the frey as much as she was.

“I hope you’re ready to meet your end,” she said challengingly. She knew she was alone now in this fight. Her country and his had been at odds for too long now. There was only one thing left to do; kill him or die trying.

Arrogant as ever, the prince scoffed. He tossed his axe to the ground, drawing his own curved blade. “Let’s see how good of a swordsman you really are.”

She braced, swinging her blades toward his chest as he came at her. It forced him to step away from her. He parried her blows, but his method was brute strength. He lacked any kind of finesse when it came to swords. He held his own though, steel on steel as he caught her off guard, catching her weapons against his. He held her in place, watching her jaw clench tightly.

“It’s too bad you couldn’t just accept my proposal,” he said through gritted teeth. Despite his strength, she was keeping him at bay.

She arched a brow at him, drawing a ragged breath. “I would never allow myself to be married to a brute such as you!” She disengaged him then, allowing herself open for a brief moment as she swung her sword back.

Both were surprised by the other’s swiftness, coming face-to-face suddenly. The princess looked down, seeing his blood running across her hands. This should have been a victorious moment, had her blood not begun to mingle with his. She looked up into his face, seeing the pain furrowing his brow.

“A fitting end, it seems,” he managed. He lifted a bloodied hand to press against her face. “You should have accepted my proposal.”

The princess shoved his hand away, staggering back from him. She gripped the handle that was protruding from her gut. She collapsed to the ground, watching as he did the same.

“I would rather die.”

Writing Prompt

[WP] On September 5th, 1977 the voyager 1 space probe was launched to the outer edge of our solar system and eventually left it all together. Today something has sent it back.

It was incredible. For so many years, this hunk of metal had been flying through the cold heart of space. It had seen innumerable stars, burning planets. It had felt the cold death that awaited just beyond the edge of where our sunlight reached. But, here it was again, sitting in my lab.

It was slightly damaged, microscopic pieces of space-dust having crashed against it as it took its trip. No one expected it to be a round-trip. I was one of the few who knew about the probe’s return. If word got out, it would cause undo panic, and that was something the world couldn’t afford right now. I don’t think our president could even wrap his wig-covered mind around where this probe had come from.

I slowly pulled my gloves further up my wrists, adjusting the breather of the hazmat suit I was wearing. If the probe had been sent back, it meant one of two things: it hit something that pinballed it right back at us (unlikely), or it was captured and refueled and sent rocketing home. The latter was an unnerving thought. There was no way to know what possible microbes or messages that it brought with it. Thus why it had been contained in a plexiglass box and shipped directly to me.

The exam room was hermetically sealed. Without my special suit, I couldn’t be in the room with it. “Much like your journey through space,” I commented sardonically to the probe. “You’re used to no atmosphere.”

As my eyes roved over it, I noted a bulging under the siding. I glanced at the computer screen, looking at the diagrams that had been given to me. This probe wasn’t built with this, and it didn’t resemble any of the damage from gliding through space for so many years. My heart was suddenly in my throat. Could this be a clue to where the probe had been?

Slowly, I used a screwdriver to pry open the fold in the probe’s side. It gave with a groan, clanking heavily on the table. I frowned as I stared at what I saw. It was a thick disk, much like the golden record that had accompanied Voyager 2. My heart seized again in my chest, and the screwdriver slipped from my hand, clattering loudly to the table. I was trembling, my eyes wide and unblinking.

“What is it, Dr. Franklin?” a voice demanded over the intercom.

I couldn’t tear my eyes away as I reached shaking hands toward the disk. “T-there’s a message,” I breathed, knowing the microphone in my suit was relaying my words to the onlookers outside of the room.

“What does it say?” the voice was hushed, frightened and confused.

I ran my gloved fingers across the disk, feeling my fright giving way to confusion and surprise. I lifted the disk, angling it against the overhead light. “It says…’Stop shooting your trash at us’.”

Adding on to Wednesday News Post

If you don’t follow my Wednesday News posts, go here and subscribe! I’ll wait.

Now that you’re back, let’s talk more about publishing and LLCs and stuff that I did this week.

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Something else I’ve been working on is marketing and learning how to write a marketing strategy. I really want big suppliers like Baker and Taylor to carry my book, but they need a fee (doable), a massive amount of books, pre-orders, and a marketing plan (*pulling my hair out*).

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So the money isn’t really the issue with these things. It’s mostly the fact that I don’t have massive quantities of my book on hand, I don’t have a significant source of pre-orders yet, and I haven’t put together a marketing plan.

I get a lot of cool benefits through Author U (if you don’t know about it and Judith Briles, look it up and join!) which include free webinars. I’ve been doing the best I can to learn about how to use Bublish and IngramSpark and Book Grabbr, but starting from the ground is hard. I have what qualifies as basically a barely-there following (sorry guys!) in internet terms, which majorly sucks.

I’ve spent a lot of time trying to find other bloggers that review books to request reviews. That’s hard because a lot of them are super busy. I’ve had several responses, but mostly none at all, which is hard for morale. But I also have been into some indie book stores that will carry my book, which helps balance out the lack of internet points. I know this has little to do with marketing strategy, but it’s part of the whole that’s really important.

Most book sales happen online. So how do I reach buyers online?? This is the question I keep asking myself and still don’t have a solution to. I’m still learning about how to put together a marketing plan on paper for potential buyers, so I’ll have more about that next week.

It’s like being in school all over again, except I’m doing more work than I ever did in school! And I stand to make money instead of lose it! Ha!

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So until next week cool blog-reading peeps!