Amy Argent

September is

If you’ve read Come Back Tomorrow, you know that Will has Angioimmunoblastic T-cell Lymphoma (AITL), which is a rare form of blood cancer. September is Blood Cancer Awareness month, so I thought I’d share some information with you, not only about Will’s cancer, but about blood cancers in general.

Fast Facts

  • Every 3 minutes, someone in the U.S. is diagnosed with a blood cancer; more than 1.3 million Americans are living with or in remission from a blood cancer.
  • Although they are the 3rd leading cause of cancer deaths in the U.S., many people don’t know the impact of the blood cancers – leukemia, lymphoma, and myeloma.
  • More than 1/3 of blood cancer patients do not survive five years after diagnosis.

What is AITL?

Angioimmunoblastic T-cell lymphoma (AITL) is a rare form of non-Hodgkin lymphoma, which is a group of related malignancies (cancers) that affect the lymphatic system (lymphomas). Lymphomas are cancer of white blood cells (lymphocytes) and can be divided depending on the type of cells, B-lymphocytes (B-cells) or T-lymphocytes (T-cells); AITL is a T-cell lymphoma. The lymphatic system functions as part of the immune system and helps to protect the body against infection and disease.

AITL is characterized by the transformation of a T-cell into a malignant cell. Abnormal, uncontrolled growth and multiplication (proliferation) of malignant T-cells may lead to enlargement of a specific lymph node region or regions; involvement of other lymphatic tissues, such as the spleen and bone marrow; and spread to other bodily tissues and organs. A key and differentiating aspect of AITL is dysfunction of the immune system, which can lead to a variety of symptoms. Affected individuals may develop a rash, persistent fever, unintended weight loss, and tissue swelling due to the accumulation of fluid (edema).  The exact, underlying cause of AITL is not fully understood.

The incidence of AITL in the general population is unknown. It is estimated to account for 1-2 percent of all people with non-Hodgkin lymphoma. Some reports state the AITL occurs slightly more often in men than women, but others state the ratio is 1:1. Most people develop AITL in their 60s and 70s. The disorder can occur in younger adults and, although rarely, has also been reported in children.

Treatment

Therapies used to treat individuals with AITL include corticosteroids, watch and wait, single-agent chemotherapy and multi-agent chemotherapy. Since AITL is typically considered an aggressive form of lymphoma, multi-agent chemotherapy is often a first-line treatment (as it was in Will’s case).  Although many individuals initially experience a remission, most will eventually experience a relapse (Will relapsed twice prior to the start of the story in Come Back Tomorrow).

One promising therapy for the treatment of AITL is the use of high-dose chemotherapy followed by stem cell transplantation. Researchers are evaluating the safety and effectiveness (efficacy) of high-dose therapy with certain chemotherapeutic drugs, possibly in combination with radiation therapy and/or other treatments, followed by stem cell/bone marrow transplantation to help restore healthy bone marrow (for further explanation, read “Sign up to donate bone marrow” below).

If you want to know more, the source article is here:  https://rarediseases.org/rare-diseases/angioimmunoblastic-t-cell-lymphoma/

What can I do?

Support a blood cancer organization:  The Leukemia & Lymphoma Society (LLS) is the world’s largest voluntary (nonprofit) health organization dedicated to funding blood cancer research and providing education and patient services.  They are a wonderful organization to support:  https://www.lls.org/ 

Sign up to donate bone marrow:  A bone marrow transplant (BMT), also called a stem cell transplant, is the replacement of the stem cells that differentiate into all the different types of blood cells in your body. To make sure your body doesn’t reject the transplant, the cells you receive must be a match for you, that is, for certain markers your cells carry. For patients with a blood cancer, finding a match can be the difference between life and death, and 70% of patients don’t find a match within their own family.

If you’re between 18 and 60, you can sign up for the bone marrow registry. All you have to do is fill out some paperwork online, then they send you a kit and you swab some cells from the inside of your cheek with a Q-tip and you send it back to them.  That’s it.  Then about two months later you’re on the registry. 

One in 540 registry members will go on to match a patient, and get to save someone’s life. It takes a little time and I’m sure it’s inconvenient, but to that person, YOU are the difference between life and death. No one else can give them what they need, and without you, they might not make it. What an incredible gift to be able to give someone, and what a horrible tragedy that 20% of patients who need a match don’t find one in time. If you can find it in your heart, sign up for the bone marrow registry.  It’s a simple thing to do, and it could mean everything to a patient and their family.  There are several websites, but I registered through https://bethematch.org/.  There’s lots of information on their site and they’ll answer any questions you might have.

The Music of Come Back Tomorrow

(If you haven’t read the book, you may want to wait as this is fairly spoilery. Also, I’ve bolded all the song titles and bands instead of putting the titles in quotes for all the TL;DR people!)

Did you know Come Back Tomorrow has a soundtrack? That’s right! There’s a song that goes along with each chapter of the story. But it didn’t start out that way . . .

Alas, I’m one of those people who need complete silence in order to write. I wish I could jam along to something or use music to get me in the mood for the scene I’m writing, but even though it might get me in the mood, I end up singing along with the words and thinking of other times when I listened to the song and . . . What were we talking about? You get the idea.

I didn’t realize until the last few years that I’m a very musical person. I played piano for ten years as a kid, and I sang in chorus all the way up through college (including the level where auditions are required), but I don’t currently play an instrument or sing in a group. But that doesn’t mean I don’t sing. I sing almost constantly. And not just along with the car radio or when I’m in the shower. I always have something in my head, and I sing throughout the day: bits of Hamilton, Shinedown songs, Ed Sheeran, show tunes from a host of other musicals . . . I sing while doing chores, in between meetings, and it’s just gotten worse since I started working from home in 2017. I didn’t realize this was weird until I did it when we were at the beach with some friends. My girlfriend looked surprised when I started belting out something, and we talked about it, and I realized I’d found yet another way in which I’m the weird one.

I’m also like the canary in the coal mine—when I’m not singing, you better watch out because something is bothering Mom, and you don’t want to be on the wrong end of that. There is a point to me telling you about my connection with music, but we’ll get to that a little later. For now, back to Come Back Tomorrow.

As many of you know, this book started out as fanfiction, and about a third of the way through posting the story, someone on Facebook commented that the story made them think of Chasing Cars by Snow Patrol. I had never even heard the song because at that point in my life, I had been away from new music for about ten years—too busy having babies and chasing after them to think about anything other than “Backyardigans” music.

The song paired with the story just blew me away. It was perfect! So I asked my Facebook group for other suggestions, and soon I had a list of songs to explore as I worked on the story. (This is also how I found Ed Sheeran, Imagine Dragons, and Shinedown—thank you, CBT!) So me being me, I decided I wanted to pair a song with each chapter. This turned about to be quite an undertaking since the original story consisted of both Come Back Tomorrow and Whatever Tomorrow Brings and had fifty-seven chapters! But I eventually did pair each chapter with a song, and that helped to get me back into the current music scene as well.

There are two songs that really sum up all of Come Back Tomorrow: Chasing Cars, and also Just Breathe by Pearl Jam. I can’t listen to either song without thinking about the story or having a physical response to the music. Goosebumps creep down my legs, and I can feel a tingling on the left side of my jaw—the emotion is just right there, and it sweeps me away for a minute. (Do you have physical responses to music? Apparently, not everyone does—I’ll share an article at the bottom of this post.) I can’t tell you how glad I am that I made these connections between the music and story, and there are a lot of other ones too.

You’re Beautiful by James Blunt is a perfect pairing for Will’s “high on morphine” first impressions of Tori.

Boulevard of Broken Dreams by Green Day brings you into the reality of Will’s life as Tori comes to see it in Chapter 2.

Fix You by Coldplay sums up Tori’s mission.

Dust to Dust by The Civil Wars is another perfect take on Tori’s impressions of Will and what she feels she needs to do.

Halo by Beyonce for the first time Tori starts to make progress and because Tori is Will’s angel.

Stay with Me by Sam Smith. Do I really need to say anything?

Iris by The Goo Goo Dolls–good Lord! It’s as if Will is singing this one. This one can do the thing with the goosebumps, too, but not every time.

Force of Nature by Bea Miller, You Got Me by Colbie Caillat, and Distance by Christina Perri for Tori’s growing feelings.

If the Moon Fell Down by Colbie and Chase Coy is a gorgeous duet, and it fits Will and Tori beautifully.

Just Breathe by Pearl Jam for Chapter 11. God, it hurts so good!

The Kill by 30 Seconds to Mars for Will’s frustration.

How to Save a Life by The Fray for back to square one.

My Best Friend by Weezer. So perfect for Will and Jason’s relationship.

Kiss Me by Ed Sheeran . . .

Chasing Cars by Snow Patrol. If only they could forget the world.

Yellow Flower by KT Tunstall. God, this one is beautiful.

Could I be a boat for you a while?
Could I stay afloat for you and sail in your smile?
Could I be a boat for you
And navigate this weight for you?
Could I be a boat for you a while?

Everybody Hurts by REM because Chapter 22 is hard.

Wherever You Will Go by The Calling for Tori’s devotion.

Demons by Imagine Dragons for William Everson Sr.

Hurt by Nine Inch Nails for Will’s past.

Thinking Out Loud by Ed Sheeran for Tori’s decision.

Say by John Mayer for what Tori’s afraid to say.

Lay Me Down by Sam Smith. I don’t even know that I can articulate this one. Just listen to it.

One Last Breath by Creed. Again, just listen.

Say Something by A Great Big World. I cry every time I listen to this song. Chills, goosebumps, all the feels. Just try reading Chapter 31 and then listening to this song. There’s no way you won’t feel it.

Broken by Seether because they’re together but apart.

You can access the full soundtrack list here and I’ve included a link to the playlist on Spotify. I hope the music enhances your experience of Come Back Tomorrow as much as it did mine.

Oh yeah, remember what I said about physical responses to music? This is being studied in scholarly circles and suggests that there’s an ancestral function for music. This article is just one of many.

Come Back Tomorrow is available now!

Looking for an unforgettable novel like Me Before You or The Fault in Our Stars but with a silver lining? Then Come Back Tomorrow is your next angsty romance must-read.

William Everson, Jr. is young, he’s dying of terminal cancer, and he’s all alone.  I meet him through my mission to befriend terminal cancer patients with no visitors, but it takes me much longer to meet “Will” and to learn anything about his family, his friends, and why he has a DNR order in place.

“Can I come back tomorrow?”

That’s always my question at the end of our visits.

When it becomes his question—“Will you come back tomorrow?”—it changes both of us forever. Will’s given up on life; I won’t let him go without a fight. But is what we share enough to make Will rethink any of his choices . . . before it’s too late?

Come Back Tomorrow follows the heart-wrenching journey through illness to the very edge of life and to the critical decision that must be made: accept your fate or fight with everything you have.

Come Back Tomorrow is the first book of the Embrace Tomorrow Duet.

Whatever Tomorrow Brings Cover Reveal

Look! It’s the Whatever Tomorrow Brings cover! I am positively IN LOVE with what the fabulous Jada D’Lee has created–do you see the sun shining through their hands? There were quite a few versions made of this one, but we kept working until we were both satisfied and the final is just perfect! Thanks, Jada! The full wrap of the cover is below.

Whatever Tomorrow Brings Summary Reveal!

We’ve spent so much time talking about Come Back Tomorrow, but that’s not the end of the story for Will and Tori. It’s time to start looking ahead to What Tomorrow Brings! On August 3, 2021, ARCs will be available for WTB (in case you finish CBT and don’t want to wait until October) and I’ll also reveal the cover that day. But for today, here’s the summary for Whatever Tomorrow Brings!

It’s the Come Back Tomorrow Cover!

The day is finally here! I get to share the Come Back Tomorrow cover with you! Isn’t it beautiful? Jada D’Lee did such a fantastic job! Can’t you just see how much Tori cares about Will by the touching of their hands? I can’t wait to share the whole book with you on August 10th!

Indie Publishing in a nutshell (or perhaps, a Dyson sphere)

In 2017, I went to a workshop at Romantic Times where the speaker passed out a “cheat sheet” for self-publishing.  The first item was “Write Book,” and underneath that, the page was filled with what seemed like a million things to accomplish.  I remember thinking, “OMG, I thought writing a book was the hard part!”  Oh, what a sweet, summer child I was.  Having gotten so far in the process that I’m about to put my first book on pre-order, I can tell you unequivocally that writing the book is not the hard part.  Not by a long shot.      

Honestly, I’m not complaining (much . . . maybe I’m whining just a little because it’s been a long weekend of marketing prep), but I wanted to share with you a bit about what it’s like to self-publish when you essentially know nothing about the process going in.

So, the nutshell version: You know nothing about anything, there are dozens of things you need to set up/learn how to do, and with every new task, you start at square one.

For a while, my days started in my head with this intro: “In today’s episode of things Amy knows nothing about but needs to master in a weekend . . .”

Now, the Dyson version:

So you’ve writen a book.  Yay!  It’s good to let it sit for a while after you’re done—you’ll grow less attached to your precious words and be more willing and able to see which ones are, in fact, not so precious.  Then maybe you take a run at editing it yourself before engaging someone professional—I needed to do this because I had some significant cuts to make before each book in this series had an acceptable word count.

When you get done editing (or possibly while you’re still trading drafts with your editor), it’s time to figure out what to do next.  The way I’m writing the rest of this post is a bit in stream-of-consciousness form, but honestly, this is how everything comes at you the first time.

How will you format the book?  Pay someone?  Vellum?  Calibre?  If you’re formatting it, do you want chapter header or section break graphics?  If so, these need to be designed.

Before you can format the book, you need to write the front and back matter: copyright page, dedication, acknowledgements, about the author, back cover blurb.

Are you publishing the book under your name?  A pen name? Will you create an imprint?  An imprint needs a name and a logo—those will need to be chosen and designed too.

What is an ISBN?  How many do you need?  Do you have to pay for them, or should you use the free ones? 

Cover:  Design your own?  Pay someone?  Work out all the details and pay for all the images and fonts you use.

Author Brand: Who are you?  A logo would be good—maybe a tagline too?  Do you have colors?

Platform:  Facebook—author page, group, or both? Instagram? Pinterest? Twitter? Tiktok? Goodreads?  A newsletter is essential, so learn how to use Mailchimp or Mailerlite.  You need a website.  Who’s going to build it?  Host?  Platform? Elementor layered over top to make it easier?  Will you have a blog?  Will you sell books from your site?  If so, learn how to set up e-commerce.

Get a separate bank account for royalties and a PO box or equivalent if you don’t want to publicize your home address.

Graphics:  Teasers, cover reveals, Facebook cover, posts for any of the media mentioned above, content for your newsletter and website.  Learn how to use Canva and/or BookBrush really fast and throw some more money at copyrighted images because you fell in love with them.  And OMG, what about swag?

Did we make it to the actual publishing yet?  Maybe.  Set up a timeline for cover reveals, ARCs, pre-order, promotions, and release.  Where to publish?  KU or wide (everywhere else)?  Ebook, paperback, hard cover, audio?  How many places do I need to upload to if I’m going wide?!

Metadata:  BISAC codes, keywords—which ones are best for your content and will get readers to notice your book?

Promotion: Teasers?  Ads?  Giveaways? Blog tours? Cross-promotion?  Bookbub?  A literal million other places?

And last, the catch-22:  You can’t set up an author page on Goodreads or Amazon without a book, and if you upload your book, you’re at least in pre-order, and you need to have Goodreads and Amazon author pages to support that.  Chicken?  Egg?  A little help here, Amazon?

I’ve missed things.  Lots of them.  I’d likely have heart failure if I knew how many hours I’ve spent on this “hobby” since last August.  But you know what?  I can format a book and design a website.  I can make all sorts of graphic content all on my own.  I’ve learned to use more than a dozen new software applications and have skills I wouldn’t have dreamed of having at this time last year.

I’m tired, and I think I might commit hari-kari if I have to Google one more set of instructions, but this week, I’ll see my cover on Amazon and Barnes & Noble and hold my own paperback in my hand.  And I think it’s gonna be worth it.  And you only have to run the gauntlet once to learn all these things.  So I’m prepared and confident for book two.  Have a good week, everyone.  I plan to.

-Amy