Winner and Blurb Announced

Monday, December 20, 2010
First of all, thanks for all your help with my blurb. The majority of you liked a combination of 1 and 3. I've been playing with it to try and get it right. Here's what I have so far:

The world is changing.

For thousands of years, witch song has controlled everything from the winds to the shifting of the seasons. But not anymore. All the Witches are gone, taken captive by the dark witch Espen.

All but one.

As the last echoes of witch song fade, Espen grows stronger even as winter and summer come within the space of a day. Now she’s coming for the one she missed—Brusenna, a shy, untrained girl of fifteen.

Somehow, Brusenna has to succeed where every other Witch has failed. Find Espen. Fight her. Defeat her.

Or there won’t be anything left to save.

Whaddya think??? Does it flow well? Do you have a good idea what the story is about? Any confusing parts?
Second of all, it's time to announce the winner as chosen by

YzhaBella's BookShelf

*throws confetti*

Thanks so much for all your help everyone.

Help Pick my Cover Blurb, Win Forest of Hands and Teeth

Wednesday, December 15, 2010
The dreaded cover blurb. I have to take my entire manuscript and condense it into a few compact, tantilizing, info-packed paragraphs.

No worries though. It only goes on the back cover. Which most everyone reads to see if they actually want to BUY the book. No problem at all. If I fail, no one will purchase my book, forcing me to buy hundreds of copies of Witch Song so I don't feel like an idiot.

I'm not worried.

At all.

*curls into the fetal position and chants, "Blurb, blurb, blurb."*

Can you see the drool running down my chin? Cause I'm not taking a picture. You'll have to use your imagination folks.
After much hair pulling, drooling, and rocking, here's what I've come up with. And lucky you, you get to vote. Everyone who votes will be entered to win a paperback copy of The Forest of Hands and Teeth by Carrie Ryan. If you share this link on facebook, twitter, blog, etc, you get 1 extra point (leave me the link). I'll pick a winner next week.

Choice 1:

The world is changing. Once, the witches controlled everything from the winds to the shifting of the seasons. But not anymore. All the Witches are gone. Taken captive by a traitor.

All but Brusenna. Hidden away from the truth by her overprotective mother, she knows so little about saving the world. But with Summer and Winter coming in the space of a day, she’s the only choice the world has left.

Because if she fails to free the other witches, there won’t be anything left to save.

Choice 2:

Fourteen-year old Brusenna is the last Witch. All the others have been imprisoned by the Dark Witch. And the without the Witches’ songs to shore up the bindings of nature, storms rage, climates cross hardened boundaries, and seeds refuse to germinate.

Hiding from the Witch Hunters and their muskets, Brusenna and her Guardian, Joshen, must find the key to defeating the Dark Witch and rescuing the others. Because if not, there won’t be anything left to save.

Choice 3:

Brusenna is a Witch

With little more than a melody, all the plants within the sound of her voice grow and bend to her will. Collectively, the witches control the winds, the storms, even the changing of the seasons.

But all that was before—before the others were taken by the Dark Witch. (94) Before she sent her Witch Hunters after the rumor that turned out to be Brusenna.

As the echo of their songs fade, the Dark Witch grows stronger. And now she’s coming for Brusenna. She has her Guardian to protect her. But even he can’t stop the Dark Witch. Somehow, she has to succeed where every other witch has failed. She has to find her. Fight her. Defeat her.

Because if she fails, there won’t be anything left to save.

Get Some Character Sparkle

Monday, December 13, 2010
No, not like Edward Cullen sparkle-in-the-sunlight sparkle.

I'm talking about how do you take your characters from flat to three dimensional and dynamic?

First of all, look at writers who are great at characterization. Stephanie Meyer immediately comes to mind. Now you can say what you like about Twilight, but there are very few authors whose books inspire the debate that her characters do ("Are you Team Edward or Team Jacob?"). Her characters had personalities that run the board from shy to overt and everything in between.

Have you ever noticed that Stephanie compares her characters to animals? If you think about it at all, you'll quickly realize that Edward is the powerful, sleek cougar who's trying not to eat the shy, wide-eyed doe (Bella).

The best writers use simple methods. This is one of them. Pick an animal avatar for your character. Is your hero a small, cunning fox? A powerful, roaring bear? A delicate and flighty bird?

Another method is to use personality colors. There are lots of different systems out there. I use Hartman. In a nutshell:

Red (the power wielders)
Blue (the do-gooders)
White (the peacekeepers)
Yellow (the fun lovers)

Everyone has one dominate and one or more passive traits.

In Witch Song:
Senna is a white blue
Joshen is a yellow blue

Senna is naturally shy and fearful. Her avatar is an abused dog. She longs to bond with someone, but she's been maltreated to much to trust. Joshen loves people and food . . . and well everything. He's the optimist of the two of them. He's always seeing adventure in and excitement in even mundane things.

Any guesses as to what his avatar is?

A monkey. *giggle*

See how much fun it is when you know a few tricks?

What tricks do you use?

Daughter of Winter

Monday, December 6, 2010
Daughter of Winter

Left to die after a neighboring clan invades, seventeen-year old Ilyenna is healed by Winter Faeries who present her with a seductive offer: become one with them and their power. But to do so would mean rejecting her humanity and abandoning her clan.

Unwilling to forsake either, Ilyenna is subsequently abducted and enslaved by Darrien—who she later discovers is in league with the outside invaders, the Raiders, who have set their sights on her clan. In order to warn the High Council, Ilyenna manages to escape. But Darrien once again proves his cunning by convincing the Council that she is lying.

But they are wrong—and Ilyenna knows it.

With the Raiders coming over the mountains and Darrien coming to take her to his bed, she’ll have to decide whether to resurrect the power the faeries left behind. Doing so will allow her to defeat both Darrien and the Raiders. But if she embraces Winter, she’ll lose herself to that destroying power—forever.


Ilyenna’s horse danced nervously beneath her; the animal’s hooves making hard clicking sounds against the snow-buried stones that coated the land like dragon eggs. Reaching down, she patted her mare’s golden neck. “Easy, Myst. What’s the matter girl?”

“There.” Her father pointed at the base of a hillock, not fifty paces off.

Tymon soundlessly pulled an arrow from his quiver and nocked it. “Bear?” he directed the question at their father.

The word stirred unseen currents of tension in Ilyenna’s body. The cold stung her checks and formed a
vapor of moisture no matter how shallow she breathed. Unconsciously, her hand gripped the knife belted around her bulky wool coat as she glanced up and down the road.

“I think it’s a horse,” Tymon finally said.

Ilyenna eased her mare forward for a better look. “Then where is the ride—” her words died in her throat when she saw a motionless grey lump at the horse’s feet. Without thought, she booted her mare’s ribs.

“Stop!” her father cried at the same time Tymon called, “Ilyenna!”


Pics for Witch Song Trailer

Wednesday, December 1, 2010
I thought I'd share some of my favorite pics from my book trailer. Ones that, though I love, we won't be using.
Now you see her

Now you don't

Marcey has such beautiful hair.

Isn't my brother, Adam, hot?

The cape looks awesome in this one.

Beautiful light.

This one was second in line for the first pic in the trailer.

There's an awesome scene in the book where Senna runs through a corn field. Marcey was so brave, cause there was an enormous swather taking down the field of corn while we were shooting this. We told her to run through it and she replied, "Toward the enormous swather."

She was such a good sport.

And my all time favorite! That's my Papa in the background.

Winner of Cashore's Graceling

Monday, November 29, 2010
The winner of Kristen Cashore's Graceling is . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .



Sorry for the rest of you. :(
Don't worry. I never win anything either.

Last Chance to Win Signed Graceling by Kristin Cashore

Tuesday, November 23, 2010
Just a reminder that you only have one week to enter the contest to win my signed copy of Kristin Cashore's Graceling! (It seriously pains me to give this away :( )

Here's some pics. I can't tell you how beautiful this book is. The colors are gorgeous.

Why I Only shaved One Leg Today

Wednesday, November 17, 2010
I come out from hiding under the covers. The first thing I notice is that 18 MO is fussing from her crib. But sad to say, that's not what forced my brain to kick on. Strange, metallic clangs are coming from the kitchen. Baby on my hip, I trudged down the stairs, still half asleep (it'd been a long night). Mid-yawn, I step into the kitchen to see burned toast crumbs spilling from the counter onto the tile floor (which I'd just swept the night before) all around my 8 yro's bare feet. He looks up from where he's shoving a butter knife into the toaster.

"What're you--"

He cuts me off before my lecture has even begun, "Someone put batteries in the toaster, Mom."

Still befuddled with sleep, I step closer. Sure enough four rechargeable batteries. All toasted a nice crispy black . . . kinda smells like my sister-in-law's idea of the perfect bacon.

"Who did that?" I demand.

8 yro shrugs. "I don't know. Not me."

I take a deep breath, pull out a rag, the broom, and dustpan and get to work.

After I'd finally finished feeding everyone breakfast, I picked my 18 month old up from her high chair. Of course, she'd figured out how to unscrew her sippy cup a few days before. And of course she dropped it. All. Over. Me. Soaking wet, I clean her off and penguin walk toward the bathroom.

Before I've made it up the second step, my 8 yro comes bursts  back into the house. "I forgot to have you sign something." Winter wind whips in from the open door, freezing my milk soaked pajamas to my legs. Shaking, I sign it and hope against hope his teacher doesn't think he forged my handwriting.

At this point, I know there won't be time to clean up the kitchen if I'm going to make it aerobics. I jump in the shower, just to rinse off my bottom half. Then I fight to get the kids out the door, find shoes, and convince the 5 yro that the little kids WILL NOT chase him anymore.

When I get home, I jump in the shower for the second time. Just as I'm starting to shave my second leg, 5 yro bursts into the bathroom, his voice high and panicked, " . . it ing . . . off . . . waw."

Wiping soap out of my eyes, I move the shower curtain back. "Huh?"

He's dancing from one foot to the next. "it . . . fell down . . . waws."

He's spinning in circled and miming something falling. "Do you need to go potty?"

"No!" he shouts in exasperation.

"Is your sister okay?"

He takes a deep breath, as if finally understanding I'm not going to get it unless he speaks very slowly. "The ite ting fell off the waw."

At this point, I've decided it's time to rinse off. "What white thing fell off the wall?"

"You know," he points to the ceiling. "The white ting above the tabwe."

It suddenly clicks in my head. Shutting off the water, I run downstairs, dripping water all over the carpet as I go. In the kitchen, the mess that awaits me has reached epic proportions. The ceiling light has indeed fallen from the "waw". It's now teetering serenely on a box of Multigrain Cheerios. Another box of cereal has been knocked down, spilling Life (how perfect is that metaphor?) all over the table, chair, and floor.

At least nothing is on fire. Yet, I think. And no one needs to visit the emergency room. All in all, not as bad as it could've been.

And then I realize something profound. I'm standing, perfectly naked in my kitchen. And all the blinds are up.

With a little squeal, I rush back up the stairs to dress (at this point, toweling off seems unnecessary). Of course, when I finally pick up the box of Life cereal, milk has practically dissolved the cardboard. The sack would have prevented the cereal from flying everywhere, except when my 18 mo had spilled it the day before, she'd ruined said sack. And with the cereal in nothing but the box, I know have SOGGY cereal all over me.

Of course, the phone would have to ring at this point. As I screw the light fixture back into the ceiling, phone propped on my ear, I remember the flyer my church handed out recently. About training for disaster response.

Disaster Training, ha! I'm already an expert.

And that, my friends, is why only one of my legs has been shaved today.

Review of Son Of Ereubus by JS Chancellor

Tuesday, November 9, 2010
Son of Ereubus by JS Chancellor

It's book review week. My publisher was kind enough to send me a ARC of Son of Ereubus (which will be given away during week four).

Here's what I liked: Garren was definitely not your cookie-cutter hero. He starts out as the villian. But his interactions with the heroine, Ariana, begin to change him. His struggles with this change are rich and complex. I also like some of the themes: redemption, forgiveness, and making amends to name a few. JS also has a talent for writing powerful romance scenes without the need for gratuitous sex. The relationship between the hero and heroine developed at a realistic pace--a refreshing change from so much fiction with "love at first sight" moments. I also liked how sassy Ariana was.
What I didn't like: I was confused in the beginning. A lot. It was hard to keep all the different names and places straight (definitely keep a thumb in the glossary). Some of the plot lines needed a bit more fleshing out, while others could have been trimmed. Some of the character's actions felt a bit forced.

All in all, I enjoyed the read. :)

On Bacon, Book Covers, and Bloggers

Tuesday, November 2, 2010
Contest update: you still have 3 weeks to enter to win Graceling by Kristin Cashore, click here.

I went to McDonalds for lunch today. Not because I wanted to. But because my children did--funny thing that. It's like they don't care what I want. Weird, I know. Anyways, I took a big bite of my sandwich. To my dismay, no salty, greasy, absolutely delicious bacon. I pull off the bun. Nothing but lettuce. And some yucky brown lettuce too. Wait . . . *sniff, lick* Oh, that's the bacon. Though how they figure out how to slice it that thin, I'll never know. 

What's the point of all this? Expectations. When I purchased a sandwich with bacon on it, I expected to TASTE the bacon. I didn't expect it to taste like a fillet minion. Or split-pea soup. McDonalds doesn't care so much about that--they just want to save money.

The same thing goes for you, my dear readers. You pick up a book with a picture of a smoking hot, shirtless man, and it better be a romance . . . not a nonfiction book on chest hair removal. (If you're wondering what in the heck is the point of this post, I told you I have a tendency to ramble at the beginning of the month. Hang in there, it's coming.)

The Point: Book Covers. I want mine to send the right message. I want a reader to walk into a bookstore, stop in their tracks, and walk trance-like to my book. "Dear reader," my book will say, "I'm a YA, epic fantasy about a girl haunted by the burden's placed upon her. Pick me up. Take me home. Read me and then tell all your friends."
Also, I promised I'd brag about everyone who blogged about my contest. Why? Because they obviously have such good taste in blog posts. So without further ado:








Thanks all of you for working so hard!


Monday, November 1, 2010
Witch Song

Fourteen-year old Brusenna is the last Witch. All the others have been imprisoned by the Dark Witch. And the without the witches’ songs to shore up the bindings of nature, storms rage, climates cross hardened boundaries, and seeds refuse to germinate.

Hiding from the Witch Hunters and their muskets, Brusenna and her Guardian, Joshen, must find the key to defeating the Dark Witch and rescuing the others. Because if not, there may be nothing left to save.

Art by Cris Ortega

Brusenna’s straw-colored hair felt as hot as a sun-baked rock. She was sticky with sweat—sweat that trickled down her spine and made her simple dress cling to her. Her every instinct begged her to run from the glares sticking her like wasp stings. But she’d already put off her trip to the market for too long as it was.

The merchant finished wrapping the spools of thread in crinkling brown paper. “Twelve upice,” Bommer said sourly.

A ridiculous price—no doubt made worse by the drought. Had Brusenna been anyone else, she could’ve bartered it down to half that. But she wasn’t anyone else. And even though the villagers only suspected, it was enough. Careful not to touch her, the man’s hand swallowed the coins she dropped in it. She wondered what marvelous things he ate to flesh out his skin that way. Things like the honey-sweetened cakes she could still smell in her clothes long after she’d left the marketplace.

As Bommer mumbled and counted his money, Brusenna gathered the packages tightly to her chest and hurried away. She hadn’t gone five steps when a heavy hand clamped down on her shoulder. Fear shot through her veins like a thousand nettles. Here, no one ever touched her.

Available Sept 1st, 2011.

Signed Copy of Kristen Cashore's "Graceling"

Wednesday, October 27, 2010

*The contest is now closed.
Week Four means Giveaway Week! I'm giving away a signed, hardcover edition of Graceling by Kristen Cashore (think of it as an early Christmas Present!) for FREE.

To enter, you need points. The more points you have, the better your chances of winning. To get points, do the following:

1 pt for following my blog (if you're already a follower, that counts! Just let me know)
1 pt for following me on twitter (if you already follow me, leave me your twitter name)
1 pt for tweeting about the contest (give me the link)
1 pt for following me on facebook
1 pt for leaving a link to this contest on your facebook newsfeed (give me the link)
1 pt for becoming a goodreads friend (make sure I know your goodreads name)
2 pts for blogging about this contest (leave me the link and I'll brag about ya!)

*To find me on twitter, facebook, and goodreads, click on the highlighted links above. OR EVEN EASIER, CLICK ON THE LINKS ON THE RIGHT SIDE-----> (YOU MAY HAVE TO SCROLL DOWN).
That's 8 total points. Easy peasy. The more points you get, the higher your chances of winning. If you already follow me on any of these, let me know . . . cause that counts!

Make sure you add up all your points, cause I'm a writer--meaning I suck at math.

You have until November 29th! I'll announce the winner Nov 30th.

This contest is only open to the US & Canada--unless you want to pay your own postage.

Help! My cover blurb and bio are kicking my butt!

Thursday, October 21, 2010
In keeping with Week Four (excerpt week), I'm including my draft cover blurb and bio. I'd love to know what you think. Does the teaser give away enough information without being vague? Is my bio funny, or just corny? Things like that. Be honest. If it sucks, someone will evenutally tell me. I'd rather it be before my book comes out. :)

Blurb (reworked on 10-22):

Fourteen-year old Brusenna is the last Witch. All the others have been imprisoned by the Dark Witch. And the without the witches’ songs to shore up the bindings of nature, storms rage, climates cross hardened boundaries, and seeds refuse to germinate.

Hiding from the Witch Hunters and their muskets, Brusenna and her Guardian, Joshen, must find the key to defeating the Dark Witch and rescuing the others. Because if not, there may be nothing left to save.


I'm a study in contradictions. I love dressing up and looking pretty but hate uncomfortable clothes. I love a clean house but hate cleaning. I wanna eat chocolate for breakfast, lunch, and dinner, but still wanna fit in my jeans. And perhaps worst of all, I grew up on a cattle ranch but love chicken (don't tell my dad).

I grew up on a cattle ranch on the outskirts of a town measuring ~six blocks by six blocks. I played center on my high school basketball team and competed in barrels and poles in rodeo (top ten in my state my senior year).

I graduated from Utah State with a bachelor in Physical Education and English. While there, I also met and married my husband. We continue to reside in the Rocky Mountains with our three children and our chew-everything-in-sight, chocolate Labrador Retriever, Dove.

So whaddya think? Did I nail them both, or do I need to start over?

Hear ye, hear ye!

Tuesday, October 19, 2010
After much research, I've decided on the new format for my blog.
I'm going to try to do a post once a week (does anyone have an opinion on what's the best day to post?).

Each week will have a theme. The themes are:

Week 1: Random Thoughts (because at the beginning of the month, my thoughts are random . . . okay, they're always random, but at the first of the month, it's worse).

Week 2: Book Review (because reading books is better for your health than drinking).

Week 3: Short Story/Excerpt (*takes a dramatic pose* because it's not just what I do, it's who I am ).

Week 4: Contest with FREE STUFF*insert confetti here* (because it's my way of bribing you. Shameless, I know. But who are you to complain? You'll have a chance to win free stuff too).

So there you have it. And for those of you who'd like to add that there are ofttimes more than four weeks in a month--once again, did I mention free stuff? *insert more confetti here . . . and while we're at it, some of those rolly blowy thingies*

Shifting my Focus

Tuesday, October 12, 2010
I know how to write books. I'm good at it. I've practiced and studied the craft for years. And I have a contract to prove it.
The problem is, now I have to do a bunch of things I'm not good at. For instance, creating my own website. You might not think it so hard, but for the technically challenged . . . I couldn't even figure out how to plug in my printer, people!

Ahem, also, marketing. So far, this blog has focused on the writing process--it's been aimed at other writers. Now my focus needs to shift to attracting readers.

How the #%@*! do I do that?

The same way I learned to write. Practice and study.

Book Trailer

Tuesday, October 5, 2010

I just had the coolest idea for a book trailer.

Starts out with Senna’s downcast eyes. She gradually looks up as narrator says, “I am the last witch left.”

Flash to women screaming, being taken. “All the others have been taken by the Dark Witch.”

Flash to Senna looking over her shoulder as she runs through a corn field in the dark, hear her breathing hard and the slap of the corn leaves.

“And without the witches, (flash to scenes of raging seas sinking a ship) “Nature has turned to chaos.”

Quick succession of scenes: Joshen and Senna fleeing on horseback. Senna falling from a ship, Joshen reaching for her, “Senna! No!”

Switch to Senna rushing into Joshen’s arms. “Joshen, you promised!”

"I just couldn’t leave you! I just couldn’t."

Something like a bullet strikes her from behind. With a grunt, her back arches and her eyes go wide. “Oh, Senna! No!”

Back to Senna’s eyes. “If I can’t find and free them soon, there won’t be anything left to save.”

Flash to Witch Song by Amber Argyle, released Sept 1st. Book cover.

Wouldn't this be the coolest book trailer ever!?!

Now I just need a few thousand dollars to make it.

Anyone up for a donation?


big, Big, BIG News!

Saturday, September 25, 2010
I have an announcement! My MS, Last Witch/Witch Song, will be published by Rhemalda Publishing. To come out next fall.

Here's the blurb:

Fourteen-year old Brusenna is truly alone—The Last Witch—all the others have been imprisoned by the Dark Witch. And the without the witches’ magical songs to sure up the bindings of nature, the world has fallen into chaos.

Hiding from not only the Witch Hunters and their muskets but also the fear and hatred of the common people, Brusenna must find the key to defeating the Dark Witch, cross enemy territory to discover her lair, and then best her in a duel—a duel which ever other witch in history has lost.

And she must do it soon. Because at the rate nature is unraveling, there might not be anything left to save.

I'm so excited!

Witch Fall (Witch Song #3)

Friday, July 23, 2010

Supreme in their dominion over seasons, storms, and sea, the witches have forgotten the unmatched destructiveness of mankind. And among the weapons men seek are the magical songs of the witches.

Born of witches but raised among their enemies, Lilette searches for a way to heal the rift between mankind and the witches. But it may be too late to save either. For if there is one thing Lilette has come to know for certain, it’s that all things fall.

Purchase links: 

Amazon I Barnes and Noble I Smashwords I Kobo I Itunes I Goodreads

The character's lives would go up and then crash down so hard I couldn't even scream.  ~Michelle Kullman

Equal parts breathtaking, beautiful and tragic. ~Tams at TCC Books

Everything pulled me in from the very beginning and held me captivated page after page all the way to the inevitable ending that had me both heartbroken and full of hope. ~Kelly, Amazon reviewer

Argyle's prose and world-building skills are exquisite. ~Cherie Reich, author

One of my favorite fantasy series of all time. ~Ashley Ferguson
First Page: 

Chapter 1
Lilette left the island like she came into it, amid a wave of
suffering and death. ~Jolin
Lilette pointed her hands above her head and leapt off the
cliff. Eyes closed, she reveled in the feel of falling. She
sliced through the cool water at the base of the waterfall, kicking
until she reached the rocky bottom.
There, she paused. Everything looked different down here.
The water caught the sharp sunlight, bending it into slanting
shafts of turquoise. The figures of the other girls on the bank were
wavering and insubstantial—as if they were mere reflections
instead of flesh and blood. It was like looking at the outside
world through a mirror. But which side was real, and which was
the reflection?
Lilette wished she didn’t have to go back, that she could
stretch this moment beneath the cool water into forever. But her
lungs began to ache for air.
I will escape my fate, she promised herself. It had taken her
nearly two weeks to gather enough sleeping herbs to drug Bian’s
family. Tonight, two days before her wedding, she would slip the
herbs into the evening meal. After everyone was sound asleep,
she’d gather her supplies and slip away.
Lilette’s toes pushed off the rocks. She swam upward and
broke the surface to take a gasping breath.
Pan stood at the rim of the cliffs, her arms folded over her

chest. “Come on, Li. The others want to head back soon.”

Witch Born (Witch Song #2)

Brusenna thought it was finished. She defeated the Dark Witch, saving the Witches from imprisonment and death. She found love and a place to belong. 

But she was wrong. A new threat merges with the old as the Witches' dark history begins to catch up with them. Only Brusenna knows the extent of the danger and how to stop it, though doing so might cost her everything. 

Including her life.

Purchase links:

Amazon  | Barnes and Noble  | Alibris | Book Depository  | Kobo | Audible 

If you like books like The Iron Fey seriesBorn Wicked or The Girl of Fire and Thorns, I'm sure you'll enjoy this one. ~Deea from Deea's Journal

It was so refreshing to read high fantasy that's still accessible. ~Melanie, Goodreads reviewer

The romance that blooms is so natural and imperfect and frustratingly lifelike, it draws you in and holds you there, right up until the very last word of the very last chapter. ~WBurr, Amazon Reviewer

Amber Argyle has again put me under her spell with the truly beautiful and lyrical way in which she writes. ~Cath from Book Chatter Cath

First page:
1. Shadows

The night was so deep the shadows seemed to bleed darkness. Senna glanced toward the hidden sky, searching for the moon that would not come. Not tonight. Even the strongest starlight was strangled by the dense canopy of trees. The temporary blindness was frightening, but it ensured no one would notice her slipping away.

With each step she took, the roar of the waterfall grew louder. Finally, she reached the staircase carved into the side of the cliff. Mindful of the slippery steps, she climbed upward until her muscles burned and sweat broke across her skin despite the chill.

When she’d crested the top and crossed the bleak expanse, she glanced at the frothing sea far below. Sea spray misted her skin. She faced westward, towards the distant land of Tarten. Closing her eyes, she cast her senses across the vast ocean, searching and feeling the faraway echoes of the Four Sisters—Earth, Water, Plants, and Sunlight. She concentrated until she could hear their pain, an aching melody.

Senna’s tears started again, wetting the salty tracks already on her cheeks. At night, her dreams haunted her. Dreams of a withered land and a dying people. With all the strength she had, she sang.

Let not the curse of Witches
Destroy a land of natural riches.
Plants, preserve life in thy roots,
Seeds sleep in earth, send forth no shoots
Until the Witches shall disperse
This terrible and unjust curse.

Review for Daughter of the Sea

Tuesday, May 18, 2010
Daughter of the Sea by Kathryn Lasky

1: Couldn't finish it
2: Finished it just to see the ending
3: Liked it.
4: Really liked it
5: I will own this book

On my scale, this one is a 2.5 of 5.

It was a bit young for me to really enjoy, which might bias my opinion. Also, the story focused too much on the wrong plot lines (servant hierarchy) instead of the real story of Hannah and what she is/where she came from.

I hate it when the readers knows something throughout the book that the MC doesn't understand, but should. I would have like more mystery of who Hannah was and I wanted her to struggle more with trying to discover the truth. I also would have liked to see more romance between her and the painter.

The book left the reader wondering what Hannah's choice will be and wanting to see more of the Mer world, which I hope the next book delivers on.

Here's the Amazon review:

Orphan Hannah Albury, 15, the engagingly demure yet plucky heroine, has always been drawn to the ocean. Hired as scullery maid by the Hawleys, a wealthy Boston family, she embarks on a journey to understand and fulfill her destiny. Hannah is attracted to the family’s mysterious porcelain vases depicting sea creatures and even more so to Mr. Wheeler, an artist hired to paint the three Hawley daughters. He in turn hungers for and recognizes in Hannah what she doesn’t yet grasp. Meanwhile, the Hawleys’ psychotic eldest daughter, Lila, and her demonic cat, Jade, see Hannah as a threat; as she deciphers the secret of her identity, Hannah must ward off their perhaps supernatural attacks. The novel, first in a projected series, at first offers its early-20th-century history lesson in overly painstaking detail, especially the domestic staff hierarchy. Once Lila, Jade and Mr. Wheeler show up, the plot becomes gripping. A good bet for upper middle-grade and early YA readers. (Fantasy. 12 & up)

Much Has Changed

Monday, May 10, 2010
I haven't blogged in a while. Why? Because I quit.

I highly recommend it.

Quitting give you a break and helps you refocus.

Anyway, for those of you who haven't given up on my yet (your awesomeness is commendable), I thought I'd give an update. I went to the Storymakers Conference a month ago. Changed my writing career.

First, I had writing bootcamp with editor and pubbed author Lisa Mangum. Sweet lady. But more to the point, she's a great editor. She had some fantastic advice for Witch Song. But more importantly, she elevated my confidence a few notches (and after a looong period of little to no encouragement, I needed it). She was very complimentary of my writing. She said she loved it and that I was an excellent writer. I'm still glowing.

The next awesome thing was that I had a critique session with editor Krista Marino. She was also very complimentary about Daughter of Winter. She said my hook was fantastic and the writing was so clean all she could offer me was some line edits. I asked her what she thought my next step was. She smiled. "I think you should send me the full."

I couldn't have been happier if I'd just won the lottery. For the next ten minutes, I hugged everyone in the hallways. Whether I knew you or not, whether you liked it or not, you were hugged.

I also networked with many pubbed/agented writers who I've met at numerous writerly events (I know, I'm such a nerd). They were so generous, gracious, and gregarious (alliteration! I knew I'd get one in here. :) ). Including: David Farland, Elana Johnson, James Dashner, Matthew Buckley, J Scott Savage, Robison Wells, Josi Kilpack, Jen Johansson, Bethany Wiggins, Suzette Saxton, Natalie Whipple, Michelle Argyle (who I'm related to through marriage) and a few others who I've forgotten, not because they weren't awesome, but because I'm really a blonde in a brunette's body.

New Chapter for The Brotherhood

Thursday, March 18, 2010
Just so we all know, this is a first draft. I haven't edited it at all. Not even once . . . okay, I'm done warning you now.


The air tasted faintly like exhaust from the steady stream of cars headed in the canyon. The finger freezing wind picked up again, tugging my hair in its ponytail. I shivered, feeling like my heavy parka was only as thick as a t-shirt. I shoved my chin deeper into my coat.

“Why are we here again?” a girl standing nearby asked her friend.

“We have to mark the river in two places, put a stick in, and measure how fast the stick moves.”
“And why aren’t we doing that in the spring?” the girl asked again.

The friend rolled her eyes. “Because our teacher wants us to compare the river speed before and after the melt.”

The two moved away from me.

A young man handed me the end of a string. “Professor Uddy wants us to get another measurement a little further down. He jutted his chin further down the river.

I followed the gesture. Hunching angrily beneath their snowy loads, thick bushes crowded the bank. I looked back at the guy. I hadn’t seen him before in class. For some reason this bothered me. My paranoia required that I become familiar with all the faces in my classes. “I haven’t seen you around before?”

He smiled easily. “I’m Professor Uddy’s TA. I’ll tie this end up here; you take the other end and secure it by the bank. Remember, it has to be by the water. If not, it’ll throw our reading off.”

I reached for the premeasured string. My hand hesitated and I looked at the man again.
He rolled his eyes. “It’s cold. I’d like to get this done.”

Taking a deep breath, I grabbed the string and started down the edge of the river. The bushes started crowding me. One seemed to reach out and tangle its bony fingers in my hair. Suppressing a yelp of pain, I stopped and tugged my hair free.

Loose strands hanging in my now sweaty face, I ducked and tried to push the reaching branches out of the way, but it kept forcing me closer and closer to the water’s edge. I glanced down at the string. I still had another thirty yards to go.

Taking a deep breath, I evaluated the terrain. The black water shot obliviously past me, but a layer of ice crusted the edges. I eased my foot out onto it. It wasn’t thick, but it was right next to the bank. If I fell through, the worst I’d get was a wet foot.

Pushing my toe cautiously forward, I slid across the ice. One foot forward, chased by the other. I did my best to keep my weight evenly distributed. I suddenly noticed that I no longer heard the cars, or the other students for that matter.

Perfect place for an ambush, I thought. I looked around, using all my senses to evaluate my surroundings. My unease was strong. I didn’t like being here. I had no proof to explain my unease, but I couldn’t suppress my alarm.

I closed my eyes and took a deep breath. I looked back down at the string. Almost there. I edged toward the bank, squatted down, and started tying the string to a branch.

Some warning started ringing in my head, so strong that I didn’t think, I just stood up and started to swing around.

The branches in my peripheral vision jerked with a sudden movement. My body reacted instantly. Knowing the danger behind me far outweighed the danger of the river, I dove. But I wasn’t fast enough. An explosion detonated inside my skull, all white light and pain. With a dull roar, the cold water opened its mouth and swallowed me whole.

The shock of the water jolted my body. I tried to blink away the flashes of light that kept blurring my vision. My coat instantly swelled tight with water, like blistered hands, making it hard to move. My shoes were heavy, pulling me down. A deep-set, instinctual warning sounded in my head. Have to get out.

I bent down and kicked my shoes off. My lungs started to burn, my body burning for air. Ice all around me, fire inside. Keeping my panic inside a bubble of calm, I forced my clumsy, frozen fingers to unzip my coat.

But it clung wetly to me.

Air! my body demanded. I finally managed to get my coat off. Rising, it floated gently past me. I tried to kick to the surface, but my muscles and joints were freezing up.

Don’t fight water. Embrace it. I stopped struggling, forcing my taut muscles to relax. I started floating toward the surface. The bright flashes of before were being replaced by a hazy dimness. My body screamed so loudly for air that I had to fight to keep from drawing in water. I finally broke the surface and took a deep gulping breath. Life instantly spread from my lungs outward. The dimness flashed away.

I felt gravel and rocks beneath my feet. I struggled toward the shore.

“Help!” I called, but my voice was as weak as the rest of my body.

Have to get wet clothes off.

I shook so hard and my hands were so stiff, I could barely grip my shirt. Struggling to keep my balance with my arms over my head, I finally got it off. It landed with a wet splat on a rock. My jeans clung stubbornly to me. My skin was so numb I couldn’t feel them. In an effort to create warmth, all my muscles were clenched tight and I shivered so hard I thought my teeth might come out of my mouth.

I couldn’t bare to part with my bra and panties yet. The ground was some unknown beneath me, my head ached, and my balance was off. I kept stumbling and swaying. The branches that had annoyed me before now scratched me mercilessly.

Unconcerned, I studied the welts and blood they clawed from my skin. I couldn’t feel them. I could no longer remember why I had to keep going. I wanted to lay down, just for a minute. Maybe pile up a bunch of leaves and huddle inside them for warmth.

But whatever surviving part of my logic new that would mean death.

And I still didn’t want to die

I wasn’t sure that determination would last much longer.

I heard the unmistakable sound of someone or something crashing through the trees. “Amanda! Amanda!”

I was too tired to answer. I looked up, waiting for the owner of the voice to break through the brush and see me. A blonde woman splashed around the bend.

She took one look at me, and her face went from pale to bone white. “Holy shit, he’s gonna kill me.”

Running toward me, she stripped off her coat and threw it around me. I shivered under the alien warmth. “Arms through,” she commanded.

I shoved my arms in the holes while she zipped it. Then she turned and squatted down. “Get on. It’ll be faster.”

Seriously doubting her ability to carry me, I jumped on her back. She started forward, plowing unconcernedly along the river’s bank. She surprised me. Not only was she surefooted, she was strong. Even after what felt like a full five minutes of running, she was barely breathing hard.
We exploded into the mass of my classmates. Shouts of surprise and concern followed us. The woman ignored them all, heading for a shiny silver sports car. She shoved me inside, slammed the door, and started to get in the other side. Professor Uddy came running over, and when I say running I mean running. The woman’s favorite pastime is triathlons.

“What happened?”

I was shivering too much to answer.

My rescuer waved the woman away with her hand. “She fell in. I’m taking her back.”

“We should call an ambulance.”

The woman smiled. “I’m faster than any ambulance.”

She threw it into reverse, spraying mud, gravel, and clods of snow over everyone as it squealed around. She shoved it into gear and started down the road. My hands huddled over the heater, I stared at her.

“Your not in my class.” It wasn’t a question.

She smiled. “Haven’t forgotten to be observant I see.”

Something was going on. “Who are you?”

She spared me a glance as she careened off the muddy side road and onto the main road. A furious driver slammed on his breaks, honked, and flipped us off.

She grinned happily. “Names Liz.”

I hunched down, trying to keep warm. Sweat started on Liz’s temples. I felt the heat, but it didn’t penetrate the deep, permeating cold that went down to my bones.

“I want to know what’s going on?”

“What do you mean?” she asked innocently.

“You know what I mean,” I whispered.

Her face snapped around, her eyes soft with compassion. But then an iron hardness filled it back out before she looked away. “You’re experiencing moderate to severe hypothermia. You’re shivering, which is a good sign. You can also interact, also another good sign. But you’re a little confused. Later, you might not remember things accurately.”

I reached back to feel the bump on the back of my skull. My head throbbed so bad my eyes hurt. “Why are you trying to make me rationalize what happened?”

A beep sounded from a contraption on her dash. She slammed on the breaks, checked her speed, and started forward again. A half second later, a cop rounded the bend. She waited for him to disappear before punching it again. The sports car leapt forward like a sparrow from a snake’s mouth.

We started up the last rise and into the city. Without looking, she reached in front of me and popped open the jockybox. She withdrew a prescription bottle. Driving with her knees, she opened the lid and spilled a white pill onto her hand.

“Could you drive with your hands?”

“Hm?” She seemed to realize what I’d said and rolled her eyes. “Don’t you start too." She shoved the pill in front of my face. “Take this.”

“I don’t take stuff from people I don’t know.”

She shrugged. “It’ll help with the pain.”

“I’m alright.” Though in reality, full feeling had started to return to my body. I hurt everywhere. From the minor cuts and welts, to the bone deep ache, to the white hot needles seeming to prick my skin.

She dropped the pill and bottle into the cup holder. “It’s going to get worse.”

She pulled into my apartment and threw open the door. “Come on. Time to get warmed up.

I managed to get the door open, but my muscles seemed to have frozen up. I couldn’t stand.

She grabbed my hand and heaved. My muscles stung and seemed to catch on each other.

Leaning heavily on Liz, I shuffled and stumbled toward my apartment. A couple guys passed us, taking in my panties and state with grins.

“Must have been some party.”

The other guy whistled. “Wanna start it back up at our place?”

Liz turned, her eyes on fire. “She’s hurt you idiots. Help me get her inside.”

“What if they try something?” I asked.

She grunted. “I can handle them.”

Looking abashed, one of them swung me up with a grunt. They got me up the stairs. Liz pounded on the door until Lisa answered it. She glanced in confusion at me half naked and in the arms of a strange man. She opened her mouth to comment, but Liz pushed past her.

She went right to the bathroom and started the tub. “Put her inside.” She pointed at Lisa. “You, drunk girl, get her something hot.”

The man put me in the water. I gritted my teeth as the pins and needles redoubled their stinging assault.

“Told you it was going to get worse.”

She gestured to the men. “You can go now.”

Both of them practically fled. Lisa came in with a cup of hot water.

Liz looked in the cup. “You got her hot water?”

“You said to get her something hot?” Lisa protested.

“I can get hot water from the tap, you idiot!” She handed me the cup. “You need warmed up on the inside too.”

She shot a glare at Lisa. “Coffee, hot chocolate, tea, figure it out!”

Lisa hustled out the door.

I sipped the hot water as Liz started tugging off her sopping coat. “How did you know to come looking for me?” I asked.

She wrung out a sleeve over the sink. “I saw your coat floating down the river and knew something was wrong. How’d you fall in?”

I unconsciously touched the back of my head. “Someone hit me. Would have been worse, but I sensed it coming and dove.”

Liz nodded grimly. “You’ve got good instincts.” She seemed to hesitate. “Keep putting in hot water. Get out when you start to sweat—sweat. Then eat something, wrap up, and go to bed. You understand?”

I nodded. She left a little white pill on the side of the tub. “It’ll help you sleep, in case you change your mind.”

LDStorymakers Writer's Conference

Monday, February 8, 2010
Writer's conferences are a fantastic way to network with authors/agents/editors/fellow writers. I've been to numerous conferences. IMO, the best one in Utah is the LDStorymakers Conference (whether you're LDS or not).

They also have a fun contest going on. Two winners will receive reserved seating at the 7th Annual LDStorymakers Writers Conference for Friday night dinner and entertainment at a special table with: James Dashner, Jessica Day George, Krista Marino (Editor for Delacorte Press), and David Wolverton/Farland. These are BIG name writers/editor. We're talking best seller authors. Krista Marino has done some amazing projects. Don't believe me? Google them.

Winning would be an amazing opportunity. Regardless, this is a fantastic conference. It's the best run with the most helpful classes and the best line up of editors/agents.

And if you haven't guessed, yes, I'll be there.
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