Elizabeth Barone's Blog: Elizabeth Barone's Blog
January 5, 2018
A long time ago, before I was born, two people I love very much were hurt by people who were supposed to take care of them. When I first found out about it, and every time I thought about it after, I wanted to scream. I wanted to throw up. I also wanted to make those responsible pay.
Life doesn’t work that way, though. Justice is just a façade. Children, women, and men are sexually assaulted all the time, and nothing happens to the people who hurt them. We’re not supposed to talk about it happening to others, and we’re definitely not supposed to talk about it happening to us.
So, in an effort to right some wrongs in the world, I did what I always do: I started writing.
I created Olivia and Cliff, two broken people who take things into their own hands. With a motorcycle club backing them, they set out on a journey to protect the innocent. Not on purpose, though—first they need to get a taste for vengeance.
Thus my vigilante bikers romance, A Disturbing Prospect, was born.
I still have more injustices to balance. A Disturbing Prospect is only the beginning. Join my email list to stay in the loop!
What’s the first thing you’d do if you became a vigilante? Tell me in the comments!
January 4, 2018
Amarie wished that she and Lucas had the same connection that Neve and Jason seemed to have. Even as Lucas scooped her out of her chair, settling her into his lap, she didn’t feel the butterflies in her tummy that she should have—though things much lower heated and clenched.
With Lucas, things were purely sexual. Her heart just wasn’t in it, no matter how hard she tried. She snuggled into his arms, willing herself to feel it. His arms wound around her, holding her close, but the only warmth she sensed was body heat and lust.
She wanted that great love, the kind that would knock her off her feet, sending her life careening off track. Even Matt had found it—the only one of them that rarely dated, dedicating most of his time to his mother and little brother. If he could, surely so could she. So far, though, the longer she waited to fall in love with Lucas, the more she realized that their relationship was seriously lacking.
The sound of tires rolling over the dirt road snagged her attention. Matt’s truck backed into the campsite. The party would really be starting soon.
She craned her neck, trying to get a glimpse of Matt’s new girl. Her name was something uncommon, something that started with an R. Rosalie or Rhiannon or something like that. Her eyebrows scrunched together as she fought through the brain fog to remember.
The girl who hopped out of the truck first wasn’t anything like she’d expected, though. Her heart hitched, catching mid-beat. Wild, teal hair framed her face, contrasting lush red lips. Bright, round blue eyes surveyed the campsite.
She looked nothing like Amarie had pictured. She certainly didn’t look like Matt’s type. When her gaze lighted on Amarie and she smiled, Amarie’s heart actually fluttered.
“Guys,” Matt said, drawing her attention. “This is Rowan.” He gestured to another girl standing shyly next to him. A pretty girl, but Amarie’s gaze immediately flickered back to the other woman. “And her friend Charlotte.”
Charlotte, she mouthed, tasting the name on her lips.
From across the site, Charlotte’s eyes met hers. She held her gaze. Fireflies drifted through the purple-streaked twilight, their lights flashing gently as they called to each other: Be mine, be mine, be mine. Amarie’s hands trembled on the arms of her chair. The soft breeze that had caressed her skin all day stroked Charlotte’s hair, moving it away from her face.
Those cherry lips parted, and the campsite around them disappeared.
“Hi,” Charlotte said, wiggling her fingers. “Nice to meet you.” Those eyes never wavered, trained solely on Amarie.
“You too,” Amarie whispered. She drank in those eyes, mind flipping through all of the colors she knew, trying to remember the name of the exact shade of Charlotte’s eyes. They were somewhere between cyan and gray, a blue bright and pale, like the spot where the sky met the ocean on the horizon.
“Call me Char,” Charlotte said, and it was as if she was speaking directly to Amarie. Every time her lips moved, Amarie strained to memorize them. They were so red and plump, as if they were made especially for kissing. She had to restrain herself from imagining exactly how swollen she could make them if she ever had the chance to kiss Char.
“Welcome to our humble gathering,” Lucas rumbled from underneath Amarie. The vibration of his voice through her body snapped her out of the trance that Char had put her under.
She yanked her eyes toward the flames licking the newspaper, igniting the sticks. Jason stacked skinny logs in an upside down V around the flames.
Matt laughed. “Dude, are you drunk? You’re supposed to set up the teepee shape before you light the kindling.” He shook his head. “Let me get our tents pitched, and then I’ll take over fire duty.”
Amarie straightened, wondering where Char was going to sleep. Since Matt and Rowan were together, that made Char the seventh wheel. Surely Rowan wouldn’t leave her friend to sleep alone in the woods. She opened her mouth, ready to make rearrangements so that she, Neve, and Char shared a tent, leaving Lucas and Jason in the third tent.
Rowan pulled a tent of her own out of the bed of Matt’s pickup, though. To Matt’s dismay, she and Char began pitching it.
Amarie pressed her lips together, feeling a bit sorry for Matt—and herself. She had a boyfriend, though. She snuggled into Lucas, closing her eyes. Besides, even if she was single, it wasn’t as if Char would actually be into her. Their “connection” had simply been a product of all of the booze floating through her veins. Nothing more.
Still, all throughout the night and the rest of their camping trip, she couldn’t get Char out of her head. If she took a leap and broke up with Lucas, she might find herself in the kind of love that swept her away. Or maybe she would be living yet another fantasy.
Five nights under the city lights could give Amarie and Char the happily-ever-after they’ve always wanted, but a devastating diagnosis and once-in-a-lifetime opportunity could send it all crashing down.
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January 3, 2018
It’s been a while since I sat down to set formal goals for the month. I used to be really diligent about it. For the past year or so, I’ve had a general idea of what I wanted to accomplish, but didn’t keep track. I’ve decided to come back to that practice, starting now.
Writing down my goals keeps me focused. It also keeps me from piling too much on my plate, because I can look at what I’m currently working on and ask myself if I really have the room for it. I’ve gotten really good at saying no, but I’d like to keep that momentum going.
Considering my goals for 2018, this month I’d like to…
Buy an insurance plan. It looks like I’m going to be able to afford my university’s student plan, which covers me through August. I have angels in heaven and here on Earth, because originally this was going to be a long shot. Once I’m enrolled, I can see my rheumatologist about adjusting my treatment plan, I can have urology tests to see if I have interstitial cystitis, and I can finish my dental crown. Oh, and I can also afford my medication. One step at a time, though.
Publish A Disturbing Prospect. I’m not gonna lie—I’m nervous about this release. Every launch gets me anxiously excited, but A Disturbing Prospect is a lot darker than my previous books. I mean, it has a freakin’ trigger warning list. I wrote this book for revenge, though, for the real-life Lucys who never received justice. Also, I have a much lighter book releasing soon, probably in the spring, so that should balance things out.
Start writing something new. I can’t decide whether I want to re-write the sequel to A Disturbing Prospect, or write my second chances f/f book shop romance (which has a title but I’m not telling yet). I think I’ll decide by outlining both. I got an Amazon gift card for Christmas and used it to buy Romancing the Beat , which should help with that.
Survive Mod 3. The new semester starts January 8th. Because I’m in an accelerated online program, semesters are broken into two eight-week modules. This mod, I’m taking accounting and macroeconomics. Then I’m diving into business law and—dun dun DUN—algebra. Scary shit. So my goal is to not drop out this semester.
Hey wolf, just see there’s no fear
Just see it’s no fair, there are lions in here
The first time I heard Phantogram was “You Don’t Get Me High Anymore” on the radio. I went straight home and looked up the song. That’s when I found “Run Run Blood.”
I fell in love with its hypnotic melody and distorted sound, but the lyrics were really what sold me.
It’s bigger than life
It’s bigger than love
It’s bigger than us
Bigger than all
To me, it sounded like Olivia trying to convince Cliff. Like she’s saying, “Hey, you think you’re so dangerous? Come and play with me.”
Check out the full playlist for A Disturbing Prospect (January 29th) below!
Lyrics via AZLyrics
January 2, 2018
The closer we get to Lewisburg, the more keyed up I feel. Lucy had the driver stop at a Starbucks, so I feel slightly more human now. Curiosity is what’s really fueling me. Using a compact mirror, I touch up the makeup that was smudged by our harrowing overnight train ride and smooth my hair. Lucy raises an eyebrow at me but says nothing, and the driver lets us pick songs from his iPod. Not a bad deal, considering he made me waste my cigarette.
And then suddenly we’re in Lewisburg, and the Escalade pulls up in front of the entrance to a Days Inn. A man paces out front, his hands shoved into the pockets of his coat. Long brown hair that’s nearly black frames his face, and he’s got a beard, so I can’t really make out his features. But he’s big.
Not in a heavy way. He’s tall and broad. Even with that bulky hand-me-down coat, I can tell he’s built. It’s like I’m psychic and imagined him into being. Biting my lip, I stifle a giggle. For all I know, he’s really ugly and has a beer gut.
It really has been too long since I’ve gotten laid.
Lucy pays the Uber guy, we grab our luggage, and then the three of us are standing in front of the motel.
“They kicked you out?” she asks him.
He looks up, and depthless brown eyes meet hers. Despite the massive amounts of fur on his face, he’s handsome.
There’s a scar next to his eyebrow that’s more like a pocked hole. It looks like someone bludgeoned him with a big rock. They probably did. But the rest of his face is intact—no teardrop tattoos or anything like that. His eyes are surprisingly soft and kind. When he smiles at Lucy, it lights up his whole face.
I decide he definitely went to jail for selling drugs, and wonder how long before he’s connected again. I could use some bud.
“Checkout was eleven,” he says with a shrug. He peers at her, almost timidly. “You look good, kid.”
Kid? I blink. Squinting, I examine him more closely. I note the lines at the corner’s of his eyes and the dark circles underneath them. He’s got to be in his early thirties, maybe older. I pluck my pack of cigarettes from my pocket and light one, exhaling smoke into the air.
“Olivia,” Lucy says, exasperated. She gestures toward the motel entrance, as if someone is going to walk out into my cloud of smoke any second. The parking lot is practically empty, the place desolate.
“Yeah, Olivia,” Cliff says, eyebrows lifted. “Sharing is caring.” He holds his hand out for one.
A grin spreads across my face. Resisting the urge to stick my tongue out at my sister, I hand him the pack and my lighter.
He lights up, and his entire face relaxes as if I just took his cock into my mouth instead of sharing a cigarette. Putting my own cigarette between my lips, I stuff down the giggle that is bubbling up. I really am sleep deprived.
“Been a while?” I ask when I get myself under control. Even that statement is dangerously close to twelve-year-old humor. I take another drag.
Cliff nods and smokes thoughtfully for a minute. His eyes never leave mine. They’re a deep brown, but so warm—like redwood. “It’s been twenty years since I had a cigarette that wasn’t stale. But that’s not all I’ve been missing.” He grins, a devilish smirk that shoots straight to my lower abdomen. The implication behind his words might be in my head.
Lucy clears her throat loudly. “Clifford, this is Olivia, my little sister.”
The color drains from his face and he chokes on his cigarette. “Sister?” he sputters.
I snort. “Relax,” I tell him with a wink. “I’m adopted.”
A Disturbing Prospect releases January 29th. Sign up to be notified as soon as it’s available—click here!
January 1, 2018
The work in progress that I’ve codenamed “second chance divorce romance” is officially done! I just typed “the end” a few minutes ago. I’ve written a lot of books at this point, but this feeling never gets old. It’s even better when you hit publish, but there’s still something special about finishing a first draft.
The book clocks in at 56,405 words. I didn’t realize the last line was the last line until I typed it. Then I realized it was perfect. No need to pad my word count for the sake of reaching a silly goal. Done is done.
I can’t think of a better way to kick off the new year. This one doesn’t count toward my goal of writing four novels this year, but now I can move forward with my production schedule. By the way, it took me four months to write this baby.
I’ll be announcing the title and release date soon.
Donny Jackson is the Enforcer and handles business for the River Reapers. Tall and muscular, Donny might seem dangerous at first glance, but he’s really a teddy bear. Here are five things you should know about Donny!
In my dream movie adaptation, Donny would be played by Morris Chestnut.
Donny is one of the few characters who doesn’t have any tattoos.
He doesn’t get close to many people, but he’s very protective of the ones he cares about.
Donny is 47 years old.
His idea of a perfect vacation is exploring the nooks and crannies of Europe.
December 30, 2017
I’ve been in a fog lately.
There it is. I’m admitting it.
Honestly, from the second I found out Mike and I are losing our health insurance, I’ve been upside down. Even though we’ve mostly got it figured out now, I still can’t right myself. Between the flare I’m in, stress, and self-doubt, I’m having a hard time caring about setting goals for the new year.
Which is precisely why I need to get my ass into gear and get something down on paper, so if nothing else, I’m still moving forward.
The best thing about goals is things change; nothing is ever set in stone, whether life happens or you simply change your mind. I need to remember that, rather than getting caught up in the mindset that I have to stick to my goals or die. Now, don’t get me wrong. You want to set goals and try to stick to them. But it’s not the end of the world if things don’t work out. I’m breathing proof of that. Pretty much nothing goes my way, yet I’m still living my lifetime goal: be an author.
Setting goals is more like drawing a map for yourself. You’re going to get where you need to be, but you need some kind of route to follow. If you happen to make pit stops or find shortcuts, it’s okay to change your plans.
In 2018, I want to…
Write four novels. I have a loose idea of what I’m writing. I’d like to write at least two more books starring Cliff and Olivia, depending on how A Disturbing Prospect sells. Most of my beta readers loved it and are begging me for more, so I think it’ll do well in the market.
I also have an idea percolating for another f/f romance. I don’t know whether it’s a standalone or maybe a series of novellas, but these characters have been bugging me for a year now. I also sort of mentioned them in the second chance divorce romance I’m almost done writing, so I think it has to happen.
Novellas would work really well for me, considering I’m in school full-time. We’ll see; first I want to finish up my WIP and release A Disturbing Prospect.
Finish my first year of my Bachelor’s degree. My first semester went really well, but I’m nervous for the spring semester. I’m taking more intimidating courses (including algebra, send help). I need to remember the big picture: I’m getting a marketing degree so that I can better write and sell my books, not so that I can get straight “A”s and sit on the Dean’s List every semester. I’m a perfectionist but need to remember that progress is what’s most important here. As a friend reminds me when I start to obsess, “C”s get degrees!
More than likely, I’ll pass that algebra class with a C, haha.
Find a better treatment plan for my UCTD. I’ve been on Plaquenil for over a year now and, though it’s been a game changer, it’s not a magic bullet. My rheumatologist wants to try some other medications; I can’t start until I have permanent insurance, though, because they require lots of lab tests and monitoring that would otherwise be expensive. Right now I’m back on Prednisone (which makes me hungry and packs on the pounds), brand-name Plaquenil twice a day (the generic was giving me diarrhea and heartburn like whoa), Advil liquid gels, and Tramadol (which makes me constipated). My pain level has been at a seven or eight; today it’s at a tolerable five, six.
My goal for 2017 was to get down to a four, and I did for a little while. A lot of people with UCTD/Lupus say that Plaquenil can stop working after a while or isn’t totally effective. I’m willing to do whatever it takes to get back to that four. At that level, I can function. It doesn’t take a lot of energy to fight that level of pain, so I have battery life for other things: writing, family, etc.
Now that I’ve seen what it’s like to live with less pain—now that I know I can have my life back—I want it more than anything else. Before, it was just a dream.
In previous years, I’ve set all kinds of goals, but I think these three are just what I need right now.
What are your goals for 2018? Tell me in the comments, and have a safe and happy New Year’s celebration!
December 29, 2017
[image error]A week and a half ago, I got a vague email from Amazon informing me that I’d violated policy and that I needed to stop, otherwise they’d suspend my account. I have no idea what I might’ve done, and neither the Seller Performance Team nor Kindle Direct Publishing have bothered to provide me with further information—even though I’ve sent multiple inquiries.
The only thing I’ve been doing differently lately is almost weekly takeovers and giveaways in Facebook groups. As far as I’m aware, Amazon policy still allows for authors to give away copies of our books, so I’m not sure how this would be a violation. It’s the only thing I can think of, though.
I know that many authors and reviewers have been receiving emails like this. Some have had reviews deleted and others have had their accounts suspended—usually with no notice or explanation. Amazon has been trying to combat scammers for quite some time, but many legitimate authors and reviewers have been caught in the crossfire.
Lately I’ve been using Kindle docs to send ebook files to my giveaway winners. This is the same delivery method I was planning to use to send advanced review copies (ARCs) of A Disturbing Prospect. Again, as far as I know, this is perfectly within Amazon’s TOS, but as many authors and reviewers are reporting, no one really knows why Amazon is targeting some folks.
Because of this situation, I’ve decided not to give away ARCs of A Disturbing Prospect. Doing so would result in multiple copies delivered via Kindle docs, and I’m concerned that—although it’s a completely normal and legitimate practice—it would flag Amazon and potentially cause my account to be suspended.
Writing is my livelihood, and even though Amazon is just one retailer, I very much want to maintain a positive relationship with them (and every other retailer I work with).
I know a lot of my readers were looking forward to the early copies, and I apologize for the inconvenience. A Disturbing Prospect will be available via all retailers on January 29th. If you’d like, you can purchase a copy and then review if you so choose. Join my email list to be notified as soon as it’s available!
December 19, 2017
Let’s be real. 2017 was kind of a shit show and it’s a damn miracle I accomplished anything. Between my autoimmune disease and treatment, financial problems, and concerns about my country, I spent a lot of this year upside down. I also decided to go back to school this fall, really sending myself for a spin. It wasn’t a bad year, per se, but it was tumultuous. I grew or whatever.
I also accomplished a lot of things, but let’s start with what I wanted to do in 2017 but didn’t.
I did not get curtains for any of my windows. Turns out, attic apartments have oddly sized windows, and finding curtains with weird measurements is damn near impossible unless you want to drop a lot of money. Since I’d rather have food and electricity, I let the curtains go. I still dream about them, though.
[image error]via GIPHY
I didn’t get any tattoos, either. I still really want them, but pesky things like bills got in the way.
[image error]via GIPHY
Nor did I pay off all debt and past due bills. However, we put a lot of effort into catching up—and we’ve been staying on top of most of them. I still have panic attacks in the middle of the night, but less so now.
[image error]via GIPHY
I also didn’t finish my open series—at least not in the way I thought I would. I realized I’d been “should”ing on myself, and decided to let go of the unrealistic expectations I was holding myself to.
It felt really good.
[image error]via GIPHY
Mike and I haven’t been going on one date every month, either. Financially, it just isn’t possible. However, we take advantage of every opportunity to spend time together: doctor appointments, errands, Netflix nights… We also usually eat dinner together every night. No matter how tired we are, though, we almost always sleep together*.
[image error]via GIPHY
I didn’t host a family dinner—at least, not literally. This Thanksgiving, both sides of our family had dinner together. Mike also worked out a deal at work and was able to have dinner with us for the first time in years. Even though our families don’t often spend time together, it went really well.
[image error]via GIPHY
Finally, I didn’t finish the writing through trauma memoir. It’s still hard for me to talk about certain things, and I realized I’d rather just pour my feelings into fiction. Maybe someday that’ll change. I’m okay with it if it doesn’t, though.
[image error]via GIPHY
However, I did accomplish some brag-worthy things:
got my pain down to a 4/10, even if only for a few months
released a bestselling f/f romance
ended my first semester of business school with straight “A”s
When I really break it down, it wasn’t a bad year at all.
*Except for when he goes away for conventions. Then I stay awake half the night feeling his absence.
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