One of my thighs is bigger than the other. And that's okay.

Tuesday, December 31, 2013

My son, me, and my father, Kent.
We'd just unloaded the horses from the trailer and were going to move some cows who'd wandered into the winter range back up to the summer range (higher in the mountains). There was a lot of brush to ride through, so my dad handed me a pair of his old chaps to protect my legs.

I zipped up the left leg. Snug, but it fit. Then I went to zip up the right leg. It wouldn't zip. My upper thigh was simply to big. I immediately deflated, feeling like a failure because I couldn't fit in my 55 year old father's chaps (granted, he's a bean pole, but still).

Even though I'd been running 2-3 miles three times a week, I knew I was "bigger" than I'd ever been. At 5'11" and 32 years old, I am a size ten. I'm big boned and muscular (at every one of my c-sections, the doctor has made a comment about my "excellent musculature", lol!). It's the reason I played center for my high school basketball team. It's a reason that even at my thinnest (19% body fat), I was still a size 8.

I went on the ride without those chaps. In the truck on the way back to the bunkhouse, I stared out the window, feeling like a complete failure. I'd asked someone I loved recently if I looked "okay." Her response, "Just don't gain anymore weight and you'll be fine." Those words hurt. Like I was on the cusp of failure.

I said something derogatory about myself to my dad. I don't even remember what. But I do remember his answer. He shrugged. "What matters is you're healthy and you can do the things you want to do."

My daughter and my dad
My eyes welled with tears. My father loved me. He didn't care that I wasn't perfect. And he was right. The size of my pants didn't matter. Whether or not I had "thigh gap" didn't matter (I've never had it, btw).

What matters about our bodies is that they're healthy and strong enough to do what we need them to. That's it. That's the measurement that should dictate our happiness.

How tragic and unkind of us to hate a beautiful, god-given gift because it isn't perfect. I needed to hear that. I needed to feel loved and accepted. And I needed to remember that being and feeling strong is my goal. Not being skinny.

So if you've never heard it from your parents: What matters is you're healthy and strong enough to do the things you want to do. That's it. Stop worrying about having a "perfect" body. Instead, work toward making your body healthy and strong.

Remember that as you make your New Year's resolutions.

This is my body. It's not perfect (apparently one of my thighs is bigger than the other). But it's strong and healthy.

And that's what matters.

{Release} Pieces of Jade by Lani Woodland and Melanie Piper

Monday, December 30, 2013
Fellow Dauntless author, Lani Woodland, released her newest book today. I had the privilege of being a reader for this book, and I absolutely loved it. If you like my books, I'm sure you'll love this one, as they're both packed full of action, romance, and magic.

You're invited to the online Pieces of Jade launch party! You can be entered to win swag, books and more! Come hang out and chat with authors Lani Woodland and Melonie Piper.

Here is the pertinent information:
Monday, December 30th 2013
Time: 5-8 (PST) 
Place: Facebook's Pieces of Jade Launch Party Event Page. Click here to join the fun! 

Pieces of Jade

by Lani Woodland and Melonie Piper

Sentenced to death by the man she loves . . .

Jade has no control over her future. She is the Emmía, the girl whose magical blood keeps her kingdom’s cursed soil fertile and ensures the survival of her people. But her destiny is ruined when pirates take her magical medallion, the loss of which is treasonous, and the prince she loves is honor-bound to sentence her to death.

Forced to flee to the pirate she hates . . .

Jade escapes from prison, but her sister is captured and will die in her place unless Jade returns with the medallion still on the pirates’ ship. In disguise, she joins the pirate crew where she finds herself drawn to the first officer, William, and his claims of the crown’s hidden brutality in the kingdom. But when Jade learns the fate of every Emmía before her, she is finally forced to choose her own destiny: die a martyr or live a rebel.

Sound like something you'd like to read? If so, you can purchase Pieces of Jade for the Nook by clicking here or for the Kindle by clicking here.

{For Authors} How to find an illustrator

Thursday, December 26, 2013
Recently, John Brown (Servant of a Dark God) interviewed me about finding an illustrator. Below are my answers (thanks for typing it up for me, John!):

Finding an artist:

  • Instead of looking on DeviantArt, Amber will look on Pinterest because this collects "the good stuff" for her. 
  • When she finds an artist there she likes, she will Google them to find out contact information. 
  • Then she'll contact with specific information about the project and ask for a bid. Some of the artists want payment in installments. 
  • If she agrees to the bid, she will write up a contract, and they begin the project. 
    • She's found that the artists outside the US are much cheaper 
 Directing the artist

  1. The key is to be very specific with the artist. This means you have to do your homework up front. 
  2. She goes out to Pinterest and stock photography sites and finds images that show what she wants for: 
  • Costume 
      • Example: she found the clothing in Witch Fall 
    • Background 
    • Color scheme (She uses color to make the image pop AND to convey the right mood)
      • Example: she found the turquoise and red on images on Pinterest that she thought popped 
      • she conveys the personality of characters as well -example: when she was explaining what she wanted for the fairies of Winter Queen, she described their personality, the types of wings she wanted, etc. Very specific.
    • Pose 
    • Models 
      • Example: she found the exact model she wanted the girl in Witch Fall to look like 
    • She will also think of the scene to illustrate 
      • If she doesn't have a photo, she describes in detail what she wants. -Example: with Witch Fall, she didn't have an image of the woman in the water, so described her there with arms and legs dangling behind her, the hair above her head, the side of her face. 
1. If ever anything bugs her, she brings it up immediately so it can be fixed.  She will collaborate.
    •  For example, with Witch Fall she wanted dragons but didn't know where to put them. The artist came up with the placement. The artist also said she thought the girl needed some plants around her. 
  •  The process can go back and forth many times 
    • There's a rough sketch 
    • Then various layers 
    • Then, because the file size is getting too large, they will flatten the picture. 
2. You will want approval before they flatten. To make adjustments after that, they have to go back to a layered version.
  • She has gone back and forth with adjustments up to 20 times with Winter Queen because it was so complex with the figure and the fairies 
3. The piece is not done until it is printed!
    • A lot of the artists don't understand that printed images are darker than those on the computer screen. On the screen you can lighten or darken because everything is backlit. You don't have that on the page. 
    •  So you MUST print out an ARC first. Once you're satisfied with that, the job is done (DON'T SEND FINAL PAYMENT UNTIL THEN). 
Other Tips ·

  1. The image needs to pop. So think about color, contrast, silhouette, etc. 
  2. Think simple over complex. Too much detail ends up looking messy and distracting. Especially in thumbnail size. Simple usually shows up the best in small images. 
  3. You need alpha and beta readers for the image just like you do the book to give you feedback. Are they seeing anything weird? What feeling does the image give? Are there artistic things that could be changed? 
  4.  Make sure the tone of the cover reflects the tone of the story. It has to communicate the type of story the book is. ie-Winter Queen was too feminine and fairy and didn't convey the dark side of the book. 
    • Leave space for displaying text  
    •  Don't have the artist add the display text. Just have them provide the image (hire graphic designer to do the text-it's a different discipline). 
    • Have you graphic designer look at the initial sketch for approval.
    • Make sure the text is readable in thumbnail.
    • Textured font usually means it's darker and harder to read. Trad Pub books usually don't use textured fonts. 

  • The final wraparound without text (this way you can make changes to the text if needed. ie-if your trilogy becomes a series). 
  • A jpeg and a compressed file she can use on websites 
  • A very high resolution tif file so changes can be made later. 
  • Parts of the image 
    • Example: she wanted to use the fairies on her site or for a bookmark or for chapter headings 
    • Example: she used the pendant on her copyright page. She also used it for her short story. 
  • Come up with a common symbol or object for a series 
    • She recommends having something that can be used for the whole series.
    • Example: she used the pendant in Witch Sing on each book and on the title page.
    • Example: note Jason Chan's burning, magic hand in the Phillipa Ballantine Geist series

Witch Rising Release Day and Cover Blitz

Thursday, December 12, 2013

Witch Rising

A Witch Fall Prequel

Release Day and Cover Blitz

It's only 99 pennies! 
A ship burns, sinking into the depthless waves. There is only one survivor. A child hunted for the power of her song. Hidden away on an isolated island, Lilette buries the knowledge of her power deep, convinced it is the reason for the deaths of those she loves.

But she can’t run from who she is. And when her secret is revealed, all that can save her are the things she’s forgotten. It’s time to rise up and become what she was always meant to be. The most powerful witch ever born.

I'm so excited to have this book out! My goal is to have Witch Rising ranking in the top 100 paid books on Amazon. Please purchase your copy today (link below). Copy and paste the html (below) into your blog and share on the release on your FB and twitter accounts. 
Tweet: #ReleaseDay for #WitchRising by @amberargyle! Only 99 pennies. #mustread #kindle #nook

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