Ray Bradbury Challenge #1 – Take 2!

It's been a while since I posted any new flash fiction or participated in the Ray Bradbury Challenge. So I'm going to try to reboot these efforts. And as I write these words, I hear Yoda echoing in my head…

It's not like I don't have enough things on my plate. Between writing my next novel (a project I'm doing with my best friend, editor and author pal, AJ Nuest), taking and evaluating some online writing classes to keep my craft sharp, brainstorming for another project and doing all my marketing, I certainly have enough to keep me busy.

Now I'm adding the pressure of writing one short story/flash fiction piece a week. I'm going to do my best to revive the Ray Bradbury Challenge: to write one short story every week for one year. This will help me hone my craft and hopefully entertain you in the process.

This week's prompt is from the fabulous Shauna Philp and I went into her archives to pull up the first week of Wednesday Writing Prompts she posted. Here's #5…

“I knew I should feel afraid, but all I could feel was relief.”

Genre: Sci-Fi
Word Count: 1,021

The Needs of the Many…

The rain pelted the cracked glass, distorting the gray landscape. The green
water droplets becoming one on their descent to the peeling paint.

I knew I should feel afraid, but all I could feel was relief.

“Say something.” Grief choked his command.

I glanced over my shoulder, the tattered hole in my dress tickling my jaw, and I couldn't fight the smile. But I turned away before he could see it. “What do you want me to say?”

“For once, you could try telling me what you’re feeling.”

“Numb?”

“Bullshit.” The weathered floorboards creaked as he paced.

I kept staring out the window.

“Then why the fuck did you smile?”

I guess he did see it. Oh well. I suppose he was right. If there was a time to be transparent, it was now. I still couldn't face him.

“I want this.”

“How can you say that?” His voice cracked. “Is that what this is about? You want to get away from me?”

I gathered my courage, clasped my hands behind my back and turned.

Tears streamed down his scarred face. His brown eyes glistened under the flickering phosphorescent rods. No matter how many times I'd told him, today wasn't going to change his mind any more than it had before.

“I’m doing this for you. For—”

“Don’t put this on me!” He seized my shoulders. “Damnit! I wish you would open your eyes! The end is through that door. Not a beginning. Not a secret utopia the fanatics sing songs about. They're lying to you.”

“I know that's what you think. And I respect that. But I have to do this.” I pried his grip loose. “You haven’t seen what I have. And you refuse to believe what you’ve seen. You're my blood and I'll miss you, brother. But I'm tired of fighting about this.”

He drew me into his arms and sobbed on my shoulder. His hot tears soaked into my dress. I patted his back, comforting him the way I had when we were kids.

“It's okay. I really wish—”

“Please, Ellie!” He arms tightened and almost stole my breath. “Please don't go!”

The knock at the door jolted him and he shielded me. “It's not too late,” he whispered over his shoulder.

I stepped around him and he grabbed my elbow. “I’m not changing my mind.”

“Ellie?” said the voice behind the door. “Is everything all right?”

“Yes, Dr. Brown. Come in.”

The door whined on its hinges, revealing the well-dressed genius from the Lightbringer Organization. He smiled. “Time to go, Ellie.”

I nodded and faced my brother. “This is my choice, Ben. Now…please, let me go.” I kissed his wet cheek. The salt of his tears a sharp reminder of the pain I was leaving behind and it bolstered my decision.

Benjamin fell to his knees and buried his face in his hands. I could only hope he would one day understand.

I joined Dr. Brown in the hall, but gave my brother one last look and the fear I should have felt before slammed into my chest. I was never going to see my baby brother again. “Why don’t you come with us?”

“Go! You're determined to believe their lies!” His face twisted with grief and rage. “You'll see what they really mean by freedom and peace!”

Dr. Brown placed a firm hand upon my shoulder. “It's his choice, Ellie. He’ll be all right.”

“I hope you burn in hell for what you do to her!”

Dr. Brown ignored my brother's curse and reached for the knob.

The termite-pocked wood blocked my brother's turmoil. With slow, determined steps, I closed the distance between the life I left behind and a better tomorrow. My escort unfurled his aluminum umbrella and handed me one, then opened the door and dashed to the driveway.

The handle dangled from my fingers and I let the rain burn my cheeks. I didn't run for the hovercraft. I wanted the acid to leave a final mark, a fresh reminder of the world we were about to change. It would be the proof I needed to show Ben.

“Ellie!” Dr. Brown shouted over the hum of the engine and the pelting of the poisonous precipitation.

I stepped up into the vehicle and the sliding door brought silence.

“You’re doing the right thing.” He removed his jacket, now riddled with burned holes from the caustic weather. He patted my face with the medicated cloth and applied the salve.

“I’m going to miss him.” A tear ripped down my cheek, stinging against the open skin.

“Rest in the knowledge you’re saving him. You’re saving everyone. The boy he is today will be gone.” He smirked a sympathetic grin. “But the boy he’ll be after tomorrow will be happy. He won’t be living in squalor anymore. His air will be clean. The rain refreshing and drinkable. He and everyone else in the world will no longer starve. And it will be all because of you.”

I glanced at the two watches on my wrist, which were my own personal testimony to what this man could do. One blinking exactly one minute behind the other. “Are you sure I’m the one who makes the difference?”

Dr. Brown chuckled. “Ellie, if you ask me that question one more time, I’m going to scream like a little girl.”

I laughed. “I just—”

“As I said every time you’ve asked it, yes.” He tapped in the coordinates for the laboratory. “It’s you. We ran our scenarios forty-two times and every time, you were the common element that needed to make that one different choice.”

“And I just need to step off the curb.” Fear pressed upon me once more. For him. For the world. I swallowed my doubt. “The needs of the many outweigh the needs of the few.”

Dr. Brown placed his hand over mine. “Or the one.”

“Let’s go before I change my mind.”

Dr. Brown tapped the comm link. “Clara, initiate the warm-up sequence for the time machine.” He winked at me. “The savior of the world is on her way.”

The End

Arial’s Author Toolbox – Updated

This article was originally published on my author blog back in 2015 and a lot has changed since then. As such, here's an updated version of this post.

Purpose of This Post

Whether you're self-published or traditionally published, part of your job as an author is to market your book. Gone are the days when publishers would do that for you.

This post will give you some excellent resources to learn how to incorporate marketing into your writing routine AND help ensure your books are positioned for success.

Writing is only the beginning. Formatting, book funneling, mailing lists, advertising…all those will help your book succeed. You can't just write a book, publish and cross your fingers that readers will buy it. You MUST be actively involved in marketing your own books. Period.

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How To Build Your Mailing List Quickly

Trying to get people to join your mailing list can be a little tiresome. However, with the teamwork of other authors and three cross promotion resources, authors can build their mailing lists quickly, efficiently and get quality subscribers.

Using these methods have netted me anywhere from 200-600 new subscribers in the first month. Continuing to uses these resources will ensure a steady flow of new subscribers to help you rapidly build your list, and I get 30-150 per month doing this.

This article will answer the following questions:

  1. How do I start a mailing list?
  2. What is a Lead Magnet?
  3. What free or low-cost resources can I use to continue to grow my list?

These three topics combined will help you build your list quickly, which will help you sell more books.

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New Monthly Giveaways + Book 6 Updates

As of April 2020, I'm going to have a monthly giveaway, getting author pals involved in donating some amazing eBooks for rabid readers like you.

And we're starting off with a fabulous package of two boxed sets going to three lucky winners! My awesome author pal Brenda Trim will be giving away a boxed set from her Dark Warrior Alliance series, and I'm throwing in the first three books in my newly completed Bonded By Blood Vampire Chronicles.

Just CLICK HERE or on the banner below to join and SHARE SHARE SHARE! The more you share, the more chances you have to win.

Midnight Redemption Updates

For those of you already in my VIP Club, you should have received a noticed today that Midnight Redemption (Book 6) is finally available for pre-order. VIP Club special pricing is at $2.99. But you'd better hurry and pre-order it now, because on April 14, the price goes up to $3.99. It goes up to the full retail price of $6.99 starting May 2nd, so CLICK HERE NOW to take advantage of the pre-order discount.

That's all for today, my lovelies! If you're not already a VIP Club member, then what the heck are you waiting for? CLICK HERE to join today. It's FREE!

UPDATE: Midnight Redemption ARCs Are Out!

SQUEEEEE!! ARCs (Advance Review Copies) are now in the hands of my Review Team.

The print version has been formatted and I'm waiting to get the final feedback from my beta readers for some of the mistakes they may have caught. Once those are in, I'll upload the final version and order the proof copy of the book to be sure it's printing well and no mess-ups.

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Book 6 Update: Sent to Beta Readers!

Midnight Redemption Coming Soon!

Cover Reveal Coming Soon

HOLY BANANAS! I cannot believe my last release was March 2016 with Midnight Savior (Book 5). That was four years ago!!!! Four years this March.

*Arial excuses herself for a moment to cry*

Personal events just sucked the life out of my writing, worse than a vampire on a binge! 

The good news is I'm mostly back on track with my writing. We are in the middle of getting our house finished, so that's going to pull me away a little, but not as much as before. So YAY!! 

This means more books coming soon!!

VIP Club is Your Ticket!

If you are not a member of my VIP Club, you'd better sign up now. VIP Club members get the following benefits, especially for upcoming releases…

  • Early announcements
  • Exclusive sneak peeks
  • Early cover reveals
  • Special pricing
  • Freebies

Just CLICK HERE to join my VIP Club now so you'll get updates on the latest news and releases.

Where is Book 6 Now???

In the hands of my beta readers.

Once I hear back from them, I'll be setting up my promotion campaign. I want to give my beta readers the final chance to give me input on the conclusion of the series to make sure I'm not missing anything.

This means I might have some more editing to do. Hopefully, I didn't forget something drastic and have to do rewrites. I'm hoping (crosses fingers) that at this point, they'll only catch typos and minor issues.

Then What?

You'll have to join my VIP Club to find out! Don't worry…it's FREE to join!

UPDATES: Book 6 is in Editing

Cover Reveal Coming Soon

Sorry for the long wait, my faithful readers!! Book 6 was not only extremely difficult to write, but I have a higher priority going on in my life at the moment – taking care of family.

Book 6 was a BEAR to Write

Not only was I writing the EPIC conclusion to the Bonded By Blood Vampire Chronicles, I had a TON of loose ends to tie up. And I changed the title of the book, too. Midnight Redemption is the new (and better) title.

Rest assured, it will have action and suspense and (I hope) a slew of unexpected twists and turns to keep you guessing how this story and series will end.

I had hoped to get it published in mid-November, but that proved to be very difficult due to some recent family issues…

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Zodiac Shifters – Tears of the Dragon by Cara Wylde

Here's another Zodiac Shifters story coming your way!!

A collection of books with an astrological spin on love. From Aries to Virgo… discover all-new tales of paranormal romance and urban fantasy.

Zodiac Shifters features New York Times, USA Today, and other bestselling authors. Each month expect new releases based upon the twelve astrology signs.

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Fiction Friday – Royal Trouble

Well, I got tired of waiting around for someone to create an inspiring writing prompt challenge, so I decided to do it myself! Not to say there aren't good writing prompt challenges out there, but I haven't been able to find any that jive with my brain. Paving the way for example, I'll participate in my own writing prompt, which I've posted HERE on my writers blog. Any of you aspiring writers out there should take a look and get involved! Here's the prompt for this week…

Writing Prompt #1

Use this somewhere in your writing exercise:

Hands trembling, she opened the envelope.

My Entry…

He tossed the letter onto the table before her. “Go ahead. Open it.”

Amanda gawked at the embossed seal with the familiar crest. Picking it up, she turned it over to examine the writing. Fancy script by a skilled calligrapher swirled across the high-quality paper. The return address did not have a name, but she knew it all too well. Hands trembling, she opened the envelope. With her thumb and forefinger, she dipped inside and tugged at the enclosed card. Gold-embossed letters gleamed in the overhead light. Her heartbeat quickened. Her breath caught in her lungs.

The Royal Renaissance Faire Committee
is proud to announce that
Miss Amanda Simmons
has been selected as this year's
Renaissance Faire Queen 

Amanda dropped the formal announcement as if she'd been burned. “No! I'm not doing it!”

The FBI agent frowned. “Nothing is going to happen to you, I promise. You said you wanted to help. Here's your chance.”

She almost choked on her protests. “Not by becoming bait for the killer!”


Doh! That's all I had time for! If you want to participate in this prompt, please visit my writers blog HERE, where you'll see instructions and guidelines. Good luck and have fun! I hope you enjoyed my entry for the challenge.

Zodiac Shifters – Pisces: Bound by Water by Monica La Porta

Here's another Zodiac Shifters story coming your way!!

Zodiac Shifters

A collection of books with an astrological spin on love. From Aries to Virgo… discover all-new tales of paranormal romance and urban fantasy.

Zodiac Shifters features New York Times, USA Today, and other bestselling authors. Each month expect new releases based upon the twelve astrology signs.

Pisces – Artist, Dreamer, Romantic

Bound by Water by Monica La Porta

Sometimes, water ignites fiery passions…

The only merman shifter alive, Atreides is a famous painter, rich, and sophisticated. In his spare time, he helps the police recover stolen art.

A mere human—although exceedingly strong-willed—Ariel is an accomplished art thief who has sworn never to steal again. Until she’s forced to repay her father’s substantial debts, and the only way out is robbing an Etruscan artifact.

One night, they meet. He isn’t looking for a soulmate, and she doesn’t have time for a relationship. Yet, it only takes one passionate kiss under the full moon to intertwine their fates. Unfortunately, there’s a werewolf biker gang on their heels, and they won’t leave Atreides and Ariel alone.

Will love triumph over a bunch of enraged shifters?

Release date: Mar. 16th 2017

AMAZON     AMAZON UK   AMAZON CA   AMAZON AU 

KOBO       iBooks     B&N/Nook

Excerpt Bound by Water

Closing his eyes, Atreides felt the Tide calling him back into the warm waters of the Mediterranean Sea.

He stood and walked toward the water’s edge. The sole of his leather shoes skidded on the slick pebbles of the beach. Atreides inhaled the salty sprays, filling his lungs with the familiar scent that sent him back in time. When he was a child, he used to swim with the dolphins populating the coast. Pollution and global warming had changed the marine landscape, robbing the wild seabed of its rich ecosystem, but its beauty was still undeniable.

Atreides kicked one shoe off, then the other. His naked feet touched the smooth rocks that composed the bed of the beach. Foamy water lapped at his skin. One brief glance around confirmed him he was alone.

At three o’clock in the morning, no other swimmer had made his way down the path that hugged the medieval castle of Santa Marinella. It was a fortuitous coincidence Atreides had every intention to exploit. Tourists had fled the heat of Rome and took refuge in the city, but the ones who weren’t sleeping were dancing the night away. That worked just fine. Atreides felt he was too old to gyrate at the rhythm of music resembling industrial noise and had lost any familiarity with the lyrical sonatas it had stemmed from.

His suit trousers followed the way of the shoes, discarded on the rocky shore, alongside his button-down shirt, his silk tie, and suit jacket. Finally naked, Atreides raised his head and looked at the Moon. His skin tingled in anticipation as he waded into the water. Pleasure akin to sexual relief engulfed him when a solitary wave covered his loins in a liquid embrace. Salty and cold, the water reached his chest, and a soft moan escaped his lips. His latest couplings hadn’t evoked such bliss.

The pull from the Tide was impossible to ignore.

Although Atreides believed in denying pleasure to sharpen the senses, he couldn’t postpone his shifting any longer. Under the blanket of the dark waters, his legs were already changing, leaving behind his human effigies for a more elegant shape. An iridescent tail formed where his feet had been a moment earlier. Atreides waited for the protective film to cover his eyes and for the gills to open on his throat, then slowly submerged his head under the surface and gulped a mouthful of water. Mediterranean saltiness replaced the air in his lungs. A set of fins protruded from both sides of his torso. The change was almost complete. He commanded his tail to push against the incoming wave, his head bobbing above the surface as he gave one last look at the marina.

The sound of steps started Atreides, forcing him to turn and face the dark walls of the castle.

“Who’s there?” he called, forcing his tail down into the water.

About the Author

Monica La Porta landed in Seattle several years ago. Despite popular feelings about the Northwest weather, she finds the mist and the rain the perfect conditions to write. Being a strong advocate of universal acceptance and against violence in any form and shape, she is also glad to have landed precisely in Washington State. She writes love stories in every shade of romance, from futuristic to paranormal, fantasy, and even contemporary, depending on her mood.

Connect with Monica:

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