Utah Indie Author Conference *and I'm presenting!*

Friday, April 11, 2014
Hope to see you there!

Spring 2014 Scavenger Hunt featuring Alyxandra Harvey

Thursday, April 3, 2014

It's scavenger hunt time! I love it! Welcome, welcome, everyone. I'm Amber Argyle, author of the Witch Song and Fairy Queen series. Big thanks go out to Colleen Houck for founding and organizing this event!

In addition to the amazing prizes offered by the hunt, I'm also offering a $20 Amazon gift card and the ebook Witch Song Box Set (you get points for getting free stuff!), just enter the rafflecopter at the bottom of the post! 

Also, all the first books in my series have gone on sale for the hunt. Witch Song is free and 
Winter Queen is only 99 pennies! 

Go to the YA Scavenger Hunt page to find out all about the hunt. There are
TWO contests going on simultaneously, and you can enter one or all! I am a part of the RED TEAM-but there is also a blue team for a chance to win a whole different set of twenty-five signed books!

If you'd like to find out more about the hunt, see links to all the authors participating, and see the full list of prizes up for grabs, go to the YA Scavenger Hunt homepage.

SCAVENGER HUNT PUZZLE

Directions: Below, you'll notice that I've listed my favorite number. Collect the favorite numbers of all the authors on the red team, and then add them up (don't worry, you can use a calculator!). 

Entry Form: Once you've added up all the numbers, make sure you fill out the form here to officially qualify for the grand prize. Only entries that have the correct number will qualify.

Rules: Open internationally, anyone below the age of 18 should have a parent or guardian's permission to enter. To be eligible for the grand prize, you must submit the completed entry form by Sunday, APRIL 6th at noon Pacific time, at noon Pacific Time. Entries sent without the correct number or without contact information will not be considered.

SCAVENGER HUNT POST

I'd like to introduce ya'll to Alyxandra Harvey. In addition to having amazing hair, she's the author of the Drake Chronicles, Haunting Violet and the Lovegrove Legacy. 

She lives in a stone Victorian house in Ontario, Canada with a few resident ghosts who are allowed to stay as long as they keep company manners. She loves medieval dresses, used to be able to recite all of The Lady of Shalott by Tennyson, and has been accused, more than once, of being born in the wrong century. She believes this to be mostly true except for the fact that she really likes running water, women’s rights, and ice cream.

Aside from the ghosts, she also lives with her husband and their dogs. She likes gingerbread lattes, tattoos and books. 

Well, after reading that, I totally want to hang out with her *rummages around for passport*. Find out more information by checking out Alyxandra's website or find more about the her book here

EXCLUSIVE CONTENT

Alyxandra is featuring her book, A Breath of Frost. I adore the cover. Here's a little more about it:

In 1814, three cousins—Gretchen, Emma, and Penelope—discover their family lineage of witchcraft when a binding spell is broken, allowing their individual magical powers to manifest. 

But controlling their newfound gift is not the only challenge they face. While evading fortune-hunters and marriage proposals, they must unravel a dark family secret – one that reveals why, until now, their magical skills have been concealed; one that brings them face to face with a deadly foe
. . .

And here's Alyxandra's exclusive content: 
Alyxandra Harvey: The Lovegrove Legacy
      
“A woman who calls herself the Toad Mother is here to see you, my lady.”
    Aunt Bethany set down her cup. “Excellent. Please show her to the terrace.” She rose from her chair. The cousins followed after her, despite not having received an invitation to do so. The garden terrace was surrounded with peony bushes and marble benches set into alcoves painted with scenes from Greek mythology. An easel sat in one corner, paint boxes opened and waiting.    The Toad Mother waited in one of the alcoves. 
    “Thank you for coming so swiftly,” Aunt Bethany said. 
    The Toad Mother stood, toads hopping out of the garden to wait on the pebbled paths for her approach. “I don’t like Mayfair,” she said.
    Aunt Bethany inclined her head. “I understand. You will be well compensated.”
    “I expect so.” She looked up at the grand house, the extensive gardens, and the stables along the lane leading back out to the street. “It’s not a simple thing to shield a house like this from the Greybeards.”
    “And yet it must be done. The Order is not welcome here and I know no one better suited to the task.”
        She clicked her tongue. “Flattery,” she waved her hand. “Still, it’s the truth.”
    “My father set alarms on our house when I was a child to warn against Greymalkin trespassers. Can you manage that as well?”
    “Of course. I’ll need certain items from your house. Ashes from the kitchen fire, dust from the attic floor, and rosehip tea.”
    “Rosehip tea?” Penelope asked. “What’s that for?”
    “I’m thirsty.”
    “Oh.”
    “Gretchen, fetch the dust if you will, Emma you can gather the ashes. Penelope, see to the tea please.”
    The cousins rushed off in different directions. When they returned panting and covered in dirt, Aunt Bethany hair’s had been shorn. Her long mahogany braid lay looped over the Toad Mother’s arm.
    “Maman!” Penelope nearly dropped the tea.
    “It’s nothing,” she replied, though she swallowed hard before speaking. “It’s only hair. And payment must be made.”
    “That’s not all,” the Toad Mother reminded her, tucking the braid into her satchel. “I’ll collect the rest when it’s needed.”
    “There’s more?” Penelope frowned. “What?”
    “Shh,” her mother said, touching her arm. “It’s not important.”
    “Magic’s not free, my girl,” the Toad Mother said, unconcerned with the glare shot her way. 
    “We have gold.”
    “Pah, gold is useless. I need memories, fears, dreams, desire. A year’s worth of paintings in this case.”
    “That’s not so bad,  I suppose,” Penelope said. “Right?” she asked when her mother stayed silent and pale.
    “You misunderstand,” The Toad Mother said, mixing the dust and ashes together in a small wooden bowl.  Three white ospreys flew overhead, landing on the fence to watch the proceeding. She glanced at them, pursed her lips, then returned to her work. “Your mother is forbidden to draw or paint for a year and a day.”
    The cousins goggled at her. Aunt Bethany loved to paint. She stood at her easel for hours every day. She always said it was more vital than air.
    “All that creative energy, all that pain and beauty, will be mine instead.”
        "That's criminal!"
    “Let it be, Pen,” her mother said softly.
    “But…”
    She shook her head. Penelope subsided, but she was still scowling. Gretchen might be the one who courted trouble, but Penelope was the one with the temper. She led her mother to one of the benches and poured her a cup of the rosehip tea.
    The Toad Mother walked the perimeter of the property, muttering and scattering a mixture of the ashes and dust mixed with salt and crushed evil eye beads. She drove an iron nail in each direction, just like the ones the Keepers carried in their pockets, only hers were wrapped in red thread instead of black. Gretchen felt the shimmer of magic in the air, like dust motes dancing in a sunbeam but she heard no whispering or buzzing. Whatever else might be said about her, she knew what she was doing.
    A circle of light flared once, then died.
    “It’s done,” the Toad Mother said, the bones on her shawl clacking. She looked at Emma intently. “You’ll come see me in the market, at the end of Silver Sickle lane.”
    Emma blinked. “I will?”
    She smiled. “Aye, so I can fix your problem.”
    “What problem?” 
     The Toad Mother only walked away, still smiling to herself as a snake crawled over Emma’s foot.


Who's excited??? *raises hand* Thanks for sharing with us, Alyxandra! 

And don't forget to enter the contest for a chance to win a ton of signed books by me, Amber Argyle, and more! To enter, you need to know that my favorite number is 33. Add up all the favorite numbers of the authors on the red team and you'll have all the secret code to enter for the grand prize!

I'm also offering an additional prize on my blog (yay for prizes!). Simply enter the rafflecopter below:
a Rafflecopter giveaway



CONTINUE THE HUNT

To keep going on your quest for the hunt, you need to check out the Megan Shepherd


Update on my son's bone tumor part 2

Wednesday, April 2, 2014
We went down to Primary Children's Hospital in SLC, Utah yesterday to see a pediatric, orthopedic oncologist for my son's noncancerous bone tumor. We found out a little more about my son's prognosis and his condition. You can read the entire history of his condition here and here and here.

Dr. Lor Randall believes that the compound the first doctor used to fill the cavity in my son's leg actually hampered the bone's ability to regrow. He also believes that this complicated the issue, so what started out as a nonossifying fibroma (a noncancerous tumor that causes a cavity in the bone) has now moved onto a bone cyst-which is bigger, harder to treat, and less likely to heal than a fibroma.

My son's cyst is also in a really bad spot, as the femur bears the biggest load. It is also in a bad spot within the femur (lucky us). Meaning the chances of a bone refracture are high.

The Dr. wasn't able to give us a firm prognosis. Rather, we have a best case/worse case scenario. Best case, when go in at 3 weeks for a x-ray, the bone will have shown measurable healing. We would continue with restrictions on his activity and wait for the bone to heal to the point where he can fully function again (once again, he wouldn't give us a firm time line but best case is around 3 months).

Worst case, the bone will not have shown any measurable healing. At which point, we're looking at an additional surgery to drill out the center of the bone and scrape out the cavity again. They may have to do this multiple times. It may take years for him to heal. The doctor thinks we have a 25% chance of this happening.

The only good news in all of this is that the Dr. has eased the restrictions back a little, so my son can put 50% of his weight on his leg instead of 0 weight. He also has a brace now to protect his leg. He's still stuck in indoor recess and not allowed to do anything besides walk  with crutches (crazy hard for my extremely active 8 YO son).

I do not like this doctor. He was explaining what had happened, using terms I didn't understand and being hard to pin down as to the timeline and chances of healing. I kept stopping him to ask for clarification. He was impatient to the point of being snappish before flat out telling me not to interrupt him again.

Because apparently it doesn't matter if I understand what's going on with my son. He knows best and we should just fall into line.

I was already feeling overwhelmed and upset and confused. Now I felt stupid and hurt and angry.

When the doctor finally finished talking, I stayed silent for a beat and then asked if I could talk now. At that point, he did apologize, saying that he was upset with my son's first doctor and took it out on me.

That didn't make me feel better.

Normally, I'd just go to another doctor, but there are only two orthopedic pediatric oncologists in Utah, and our insurance won't cover the other doctor. Humana is also giving us the run around--denying that things are covered. When we research it, we find out those things actually are covered and complain. Humana won't answer my emails and it's pointless to call because whoever you talk to is obviously trained to hedge and won't call you back. The only way to get them to listen is to go through my husband's company and our insurance agent--getting them to complain.

I firmly believe Humana does this on purpose. They don't pay for services they actually cover in hopes their patients won't ask questions. If the patient throws a bit enough fit, they'll give in. This saves them money because the majority of patients don't know what's actually covered and what isn't, or that they can even fight.

I would like to take this moment to thank Humana for taking an already extremely stressful situation and making it much worse. *sarcasm*
Emotionally, my son is about the same-I don't think he understood what the doctor was saying, and he's excited for his brace and the chance to put some weight on his leg. I'm back to being very stressed and emotional again (and just when I was starting to feel like myself after the first batch of bad news).

Adding to that stress is the fact that our home is a four level multilevel--you can't take more than ten steps in my house without going up and down stairs, and the two bathrooms are only on the topmost and bottom-most floors, rendering the wheelchair/crutches/walker useless (he hops one legged rather than having to wait for us to haul equipment after him everywhere).

I really want to sell our house and find one that fits our situation better, but we have some personal issues going on that make that difficult. And I don't know if I can deal with the stress of selling our house, finding a new house, moving, and building a new support system somewhere else (our nearest family is 1.5 hours away, so we rely a lot on our neighbors and friends).

Anyway, I could go on, but this post is already depressing enough as it is. So to end on a good note: I bought a new outfit! A new shirt, leggings, bag, and sparkly gold ballet flats! I love them!

Update on my son

Tuesday, March 25, 2014
Right now, we're trying to get in to a specialist-our orthopedic surgeon recommended an orthopedic/pediatric oncologist even though his tumor isn't cancerous.

Our insurance is giving us the runaround. Humana (not a fan) claims doctor #1 takes them. Doctor #1 claims that he doesn't. Humana can't call and talk to said doctor because they don't have outsides lines (my left eye is starting to twitch). It might take them a full week just to clear up whether or not they cover doctor #1 (the left side of my face is starting to twitch). They might even have to pull up the contract, which would be super duper hard (the left side of my body is starting to twitch).

I keep telling myself yelling won't do any good. It might make me feel better, but people find ways to make you pay for it.

If I keep telling myself this long enough I might have a full blown seizure.

We took an xray on Friday. It's too soon for the bone to show any measurable growth, so everything looks pretty much the same as it did the day of his surgery.

He's still on extremely limited restrictions. He can't do much of anything really. The doctor said even a basketball hitting his leg could break his femur. It's very hard for him-he cries for feeling left out and lonely and trapped and bored every day. I usually cry with him. Together, we cry a lot.

I've put him in swimming lessons as soon as the doctor clears him this Friday. That's the one thing he can do. I'm hoping that will help. If nothing else, he can at least get some exercise.

If you believe in prayer/positive thinking, please send some our way. We really need his leg to heal and for him to find ways to be happy.

{Guest Post} Lee Strauss on her newest book

Monday, March 17, 2014
Introducing  Flesh & Bone 
- a contemporary romance, 
(The Minstrel Series #2)
Coming April 3rd!



She can’t remember. He can’t forget.

Eva Baumann is invisible. Sebastian Weiss is famous. In a perfect world Eva would be fearless and Sebastian would be guiltless.
It’s not a perfect world.
 
 Another amazing cover by the very talented Steven Novak of Steven Novak Designs!

The Minstrel Series is a collection of contemporary romance novels set in the singer/songwriter world. The books are companion novels, with shared settings and characters, but each is a complete stand-alone story with a HEA (happily ever after) and no cliffhangers! 

FLESH & BONE INCLUDES MORE GREAT ORGINAL MUSIC MP3s!
The Music for Flesh & Bone is amazing!  View it here.

Haven't read #1 Sun & Moon?  Get it here:



EXCERPT of Flesh & Bone - read to the end and enter to WIN a $20.00 Amazon gift card and songs!

The Scars They See
 
 
Gabriele had dared her to do this. “Just walk in, sign your name, and play a song for heaven's sake.” It was easy for her to say. Eva Baumann's sister didn't understand what it was like to be afraid. What it was like to be invisible. Gabriele oozed confidence, tall and lithe like a runway model, lighting up every room she entered. She was pretty, talented, smart.

And not handicapped.

Eva eyed the graffiti-marred entrance of the Blue Note Pub and watched as other musicians and-patrons strolled into the darkened room. Music pumping from the sound system escaped into the narrow corridor of four-story stone buildings every time the heavy wooden door opened and closed. Eva carefully set down her guitar case and rested her hand over her chest, willing her heartbeat to slow. The muscle pulsed erratically, and her stomach wanted to dry heave.

Eva gripped her cane with white knuckles. She'd learned to master the uneven sidewalks with careful steps, but the cobblestones were still a nemesis, especially in colder months like March. The rubber knob on the tip of her cane had to center on a stone, otherwise she could lose her balance and fall. It was necessary to wait for a break in traffic or to continue to the corner for a walk light before daring to cross the street.

She took a deep breath. She could do this. This was just an irrational fear—not real. Nothing bad would happen to her in that room. It was filled with people who loved music as much as she did. It was loud and crowded and dark, and no one would expect her to talk. When they called her name, she'd focus on the small stage, blocking out everyone in the room out until she safely stepped up. Then she'd just close her eyes and pretend she was at the street church playing to the people who came for the soup they provided.

She could do this.

A cold wind blew hair across Eva's face and she snapped to attention just as the little green man flashed on to indicate it was safe to walk. She lumbered across with a guitar in her left hand and her cane in her right. The weight of her instrument pulled her shoulders forward, her back arching slightly under her winter jacket. She caught her reflection in a store window and frowned. She looked like a crazy, old lady, not a nineteen-year-old girl.

Eva tucked her cane under her left armpit and reached for the door. It swung open sharply, a patron had exited at the same moment, and she was shoved against the wall, nearly losing her balance.

“Excuse me,” the guy said. He held the door open, waiting for her to go in. She wanted to turn around and head straight home, but the guy's eyes stayed on her, waiting. The cold air whooshed inside.

It would be impolite not to pass through. “Thank you,” she said softly. She leaned on her cane and entered. She'd been to the Blue Note before. Gabriele and her British boyfriend Lennon Smith had dragged her out one night, so she knew what to expect. There was a bar to the right and table seating to the left. A poster on the wall read: “If you want to chat with your pals while the band is playing, take your conversation outside.” The air smelled of beer and cigarette smoke clinging to damp wool jackets. At the back of the midsized room was a small stage lit by two lights hanging from the ceiling.

Her stomach churned, and once again she questioned herself. Why had she come? What did she have to prove? Why did she care so much what Gabriele thought? She stared back at the door.

“Hello, ma Cherie. Would you like to sign your name?”

The gruff yet friendly voice stopped Eva before she could leave. She knew the manager, Herr Maurice Leduc, by reputation, but had never spoken to him before. “I don't know,” she answered.

“Well—” His eyes darted to the guitar in her hand. “I just thought since you lugged that thing in with you.” He pushed the sign-up sheet closer.
Eva didn't have the heart to deny the man. She took the pen and scribbled her name.

“Wonderful,” Herr Leduc said with a sincere grin that filled a round face. “I look forward to hearing you play...” he glanced down at his sheet, “Eva Baumann.”

The room consisted of a lot of wood. Tables, chairs, benches and floors—all darkly stained, old wood. Even the ceiling had rough, open wood beams. Eva claimed a nearby empty chair and breathed in and out, long and slow. She was here. She'd done it. Wait until she told Gabriele. Wouldn't she be surprised?
A server arrived, and Eva ordered a cola. The other people who shared the long table gave her sideways glances at her childish drink and cheered each other as they lifted their beer glasses.

Herr Leduc walked on stage and welcomed everyone. He called the first act, a girl with long, golden hair, he introduced as Katja Stoltz.

Eva listened intently impressed with the girl's talent and the way she took over the stage like she owned it. That was what Eva needed to do. Own it.

The girl finished her song, and after much-deserved applause, she joined her friends at a table across the room. A guy in his early twenties with a peacock tattoo along one arm stood to give Katja Stoltz a hug. He had messy, dark brown hair and bristles on his face, like he hadn’t shaven in a few days. He laughed and high-fived her before sitting and draping the peacock around a thin girl with spiky hair.

A shiver ran up Eva's back. She recognized that guy. Last summer, when she was playing guitar for the homeless, many of them had raised their hands to God in praise. The outside metal blinds had been raised, they always were when the church was open, and a group of guys had stopped to watch from across the street. They began to laugh and then threw their arms in the air, mocking the people worshiping inside.

That was the first time Eva had seen that peacock tattoo, and she'd never forget the laughing face of the handsome boy who went with it.

Her short-lived confidence shriveled at the thought of being the guy's next target. Oh, why did she come? She'd leave right now if she thought she could do it without making a scene. The room had filled, and there was no way she could slip out unnoticed with her guitar and her cane.

She sipped her cola and kept her eyes focused on each act as it was called. Every time Herr Leduc stepped to the mic to call a name, Eva’s heart filled with nervous dread and emptied with a flush of relief when she didn't hear hers.

“ Sebastian Weiss,” Herr Leduc said.

The guy with the peacock tattoo hooted, shifted out from behind his table and grabbed his guitar.

So that was his name.

He hopped onto the stage and strapped on a guitar with an over-confidence Eva envied. She wanted him to be terrible so that she could add self-delusion to his other obvious traits of conceit and insensitivity, but unfortunately he wasn't. His voice was smooth and strong, and he had great range.

She also happened to notice the flex in his biceps that poked out of the short sleeves of his dark T-shirt and how his jeans fit nicely on slender hips.

He finished his song and fisted the air like he just won a boxing match. The audience went crazy. Eva couldn't help but join in the applause. Something about Sebastian was electric. His aura and competence, his popularity—she couldn't peel her eyes off him. His arm returned to its position around the girl beside him who hadn't smiled once. Such a contrast to Sebastian who couldn't stop smiling. He seemed quite taken by the pixie girl and kissed her excitedly on the cheek.

“Eva Baumann.”

What? Eva had been so busy watching the table of cool people, she hadn't been paying attention.

Herr Leduc's accented German bellowed again. “Eva Baumann.”

Eva's heart stopped. Then raced. Her hands broke out into a sweat, and she blinked back the tears welling up behind her eyes, which were opened far too wide. Her head prickled hotly, and she swallowed hard. She could sense the attention of the room, necks craning, everyone searching, waiting for the next act to stand.

Herr Leduc stared at her, and all she could do was shake her head. He gave her a gracious nod and called the next name.

A girl with short, dark hair bounced out of her seat, and within seconds Eva was forgotten. She took advantage of the swirl of commotion that occurred between acts, grabbing her guitar and cane, and limped to the entrance.

It was a terrible mistake to come, she thought as she hobbled down the crusty street. She kept her head bowed low against the cold, and gripped her guitar case and her cane. If she'd had a third hand, she'd swipe at the bitter tear that slid down her cheek.
 
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