Deleted Scene from Summer Queen

Monday, April 20, 2015
This scene is actually an alternative beginning to the book, as I worried there wasn't enough setup into how the Priestesses worked or Nelay's motivations. In the end, it was cut because there simply wasn't enough to pull the story forward.

Note that it is a rough draft, so errors in spelling/grammar will occur. If you think your friends might be insterested, I'll include a tweet you can share.

Enjoy!






Check out a deleted scene from 's Summer Queen.      

It wasn’t everyday the king came to the holy city of Thanjavar. Nelay and Jezzel took the lead, as they were the highest ranking acolytes in the compound. They bypassed the temple, with its grand arches and onion domes, moving to the gate manned by a guard with a red and yellow jacket and bell trousers.
He opened it for them seamlessly and they passed the open-air worship chambers and stepped into the courtyard, with its circle of eternal flames rising up much like a fountain of water would.
Suka was waiting for them, her eyes pausing on Nelay before sweeping across the rest of the acolytes in their finery. “Let’s show the king what the best Priestesses in the kingdom can do.”
She hastened out without another word, the Priestesses right behind her, with Nelay and the other acolytes following. The temple was inside the expansive palace grounds, though it had its own entrance to the city. The high priestesses in white fanned out across the wide palace stairs while Nelay and the other acolytes lined the walkway as they had practiced a thousand times before.
The drums sounded and Nelay lifted her staff into the ready position, above her head and poised to strike. The drums rolled and the enormous gates rolled open.
The King moved into the palace grounds atop a bay charger, his Immortal Soldiers in a phalanx around him. The first two acolytes dipped their staffs’ soaked, padded end into the bowls of flame at either end of the door.
This set of the chain reaction. Each acolyte touching her staff to the woman next to her as the king came level with them, and then they began their intricate battle dance. Swinging their staffs in formations that were elegant and deadly with flames dancing about their bodies, close enough to feel the heat but not close enough to burn.
Their clothes were dyed in deep read that shifted to yellow and then white at the top, so they looked like spinning flames.
Nelay held her position across from Jezzel as the King came closer and closer. She watched him with her peripheral vision, noting that his beard was long and he was shirtless.
That’s all she could make out before he came even with her and her staff was lit. She whirled it about her and sprang into motion, lighting the shallow channels of stone that had been filled with a viscous flammable paste called fiall, which burned slow, but gave off different colored flames.
The fire spread across in intricate patterns until climbing elevated channels which curled in patterns similar to the tattoos Nelay wore on her scalp.
Nelay and Jezzel raced the flames, reaching the palace doors just as the King came level with them. They stuck their whirling staffs into cauldrons of fiall and flames spread in special channels carved into the rock frame as the doors were pushed open.
The acolytes came in just behind Nelay and Jezzel as they lit more cauldrons and set fire to more channels built into the walls. One by one, each acololyte went still as they took their original places, until the king sat on his throne with flames dancing all around him.
Nelay and Jezzel twirled their staffs in perfect unison before slamming both ends onto the ground just as he sat. Nelay’s heart was pounding and sweat ran in beads down her bare back.
She looked up, taking in her surroundings for the first time and saw the King watching her. Suka stood beside him, leaning and speaking in his ear.
Looking angry, the King motioned for Suka to step back. She did, proclaiming, “The King has arrived at the Winter Palace!”
A deafening cheer rose up as the king’s court clapped and cheered. There was no mention of the fact that the king was three months early. Or that he’d been forced to retreat here because the Summer Palace had fallen to the Clansmen’s armies.
The King stood, the heavy golden phoenix amulet across his chest catching the light from the fires. “As always, the temple of fire proves themselves the most skilled fire dancers in the entire Kingdom,” as he said this, his eyes strayed again to Nelay. “The flame of Idara has returned to Thanjavar. May ever it burn!”
“Burn on!” the people called back.
The king sat down and servants flooded the room with fire baked bread which they threw like discs into the crowd.
Suka tapped her staff and the acolytes dropped their position. Jezzel came immediately to Nelay’s side.
“He’s been watching you,” Jezzel whispered. “And he looks angry. What did you do?”
Nelay didn’t have to ask who Jezzel meant. She could still feel the king’s eyes upon her. “Me?” Nelay said, incredulous. “If anyone’s done anything, it’s you.”
In truth, Nelay had nothing to fear from the king. The Priestesses were not his subjects, they belonged to the Goddess of Fire. But still, his interest made her uneasy.
“And risk my chances of being Liason, I don’t think so.”
There had been a time when Jezzel and Nelay had been the bitterest of rivals. Both were ambitious, rather brilliant, and best of everything. And then after a particularly nasty fight, Jezzel had hissed that they couldn’t both be the Priestess Liason. Nelay had laughed. She wanted to be the high Priestess, not liason.
In that moment, they realized that working together, no one would be able to stop them. Their alliance had lead to friendship, which had developed into a fierce loyalty. 
Nelay’s gaze swept carefully across the room. She stopped when she saw one of the younger soldiers. He was not an immortal, just one of the palace guards. But Tanzer had a pretty face, and a way of knowing far more than he should. Which is why she had employed him as a spy years ago.
She made the sign that she wanted to speak with him and left the palace, Jezzel forced behind her because of the press of the crowd. Hands reached out, asking for her blessing. Nelay gave it as often as she was asked. Pressing three fingers to their foreheads and saying, “Fire burn in your bosom.” It promised many things, life, passion, ambition, success.
Nelay stepped outside the open doors. It was pleasant out now, no longer cold and not yet hot. Nelay breathed a sigh of relief to feel the wind across her sweaty skin. She and Jezzel crossed the palace grounds and entered the upper city market. They headed straight for the cumfa tables, where they specialized in thick black liquid made from the cumfa root.
Nelay didn’t really like the stuff, but it was the best excuse she could come up with for her regular visits into the market, though the proprietor always provided lavender tea instead.
She got up as she always did to visit the privy, but instead of going out back, she stepped into the kitchen, which was hot and steamy.
Tazner was waiting for her. She wanted to come right out and ask him what he knew, but Tazner was one of her more finicky spies. More important to him than money was that she stroked his ego. “You’re looking dashing in your uniform.”
“Care to see what’s inside?” He shot her a cocky grin that she knew cause other girls hearts to melt.
Nelay wasn’t other girls. “You know Priestesses don’t have relationships with men.”
He took a step toward her. “Relationships, no. But dalliances, frequently.”
She tipped her head to the side. “Ah, but you deserve better than a mere dalliance, Tazner.”
He rested the point of his shoulder on the wall beside her, his posture the very picture of ease. “It wouldn’t get much better than a dalliance with you, Nelay.”
Nelay dropped her voice to a throaty whisper. “Well, I wouldn’t want you to peak so soon into manhood, would I?”
He threw his head back and laughed, and Nelay knew she’d paid her price without having to give him a single coin—she’d stroked his ego and made him laugh. The money was a mere formality now.
Tazner shook his head. “My brother in the Immortals says the king didn’t want to come to Thanjavar. He wanted to stay with his armies in Dalarta and Arcina, but someone convinced him to come back.”
“Who?”
He shrugged. “Don’t know.”
“Why?”
He grinned lazily at her. “Don’t know that either.”
She narrowed her eyes in thought. What could be more important to the king than fighting a war that had already cost him half the kingdom? “What about the Hansi Province?” Her father and mother still lived on the outskirts. In letter after letter, she’d begged them to come to Thanjavar, had sent them nearly every silver she had, but they had refused. “Nothing new.”
She sighed. “All right. If you find out anymore, I’ll be here tomorrow after the morning training.”
She pressed a silver into his hand and turned to go, but he captured her wrist and held on. She looked up at him as he leaned in dangerously close. “Are you ever going to give in to me?”
She patted his cheek. “And ruin all your other girlfriend’s hearts? I’m not that cruel.”
Just as she turned to away, her reached over and cupped her cheek. Before she could process what he’d done, he’d kissed her mouth. There was none of the hunger she’d expected from a man like Tazner, only gentleness. “I would give them all up for you,” he said earnestly.
Without another word, he slipped out the backdoor. Nelay stood in shock before slowly shaking her head. Pushing the heavy door, she stepped back into the pavillion. Jezzel was leaning back in her chair with her arms folded across her chest.
Nelay sat down, but before she could say a word, Jezzel grunted. “Tazner was looking very satisfied with himself just now.”
Nelay grunted. Men like Tazner treated women like toys—something to play with. She had more ambition than to ever settle for a man like that. “He wouldn’t know what to do with me if I ever allowed him to catch me.”
“Ah, but he’s pretty.” Jezzel said between sips. “And it might be fun.”
Nelay didn’t bother responding. “What did you find out?”
Between the two of them, they had a network of spies in nearly every level of government. They also had loyalty accumulated over years of service. And promises of support without any questions asked. Such a network was vital if Nelay was to challenge Suka for the title of High Priestess once her training was over.
Jezzel leaned over her mug of cumfa. As opposed to Nelay, she loved the stuff. “Someone convinced the king to come to back to Thanjavar.” She sat back, a jealous glint in her eyes. “Who has that kind of clout?” she asked.
“There are three ways to force someone to do what you want.” She counted them off on her fingers. “Threats, bribes, and loyalty. The king is the law, so a threat would be pointless.” Nelay looked past the busy market to the green of the high mountains in the distance. She squinted, not really seeing anything. “And the king is loyal to no one over himself.” That the king would die horribly if the kingdom fell did not need to be stated. “So that leaves some kind of bribe.”
“But who would have something so powerful in their possession.”
Nelay growled in frustration. “What did your maid say?”
Jezzel passed the note. “Only that the King brought his mistress and their children with him and it looks like they’ll be staying indefinitely. She didn’t think the king would stay long.”
Nelay let out a drawn out breath. “Perhaps we’re overthinking it. Perhaps he simply came to deliver his mistress safely from the fighting lines.”
“And leave the army?” Jezzel didn’t look convinced.
Nelay perused the childish scrawl before glancing outside. The wind had completely died, the calm before the ovat took over, bringing with it the unbearable heat off the desert. She finished the last of her tea. “It won’t be long before the wind changes. Come on.”
Jezzel rested her hand on Nelays to stop her. “Any word from the man you sent after your family?”
Nelay let out a frustrated breath. She’d sent letters after her parents, demanding they flee their small sheep ranch and head into Dalarta, but her father had refused to leave the land that had been in their family for generations.
Finally, Nelay had simply hired a handful of mercenaries and a handler to retrieve her parents, regardless of what they wanted. If all was according to plan, her parents should be on their way to Thanjavar even now.
They left the shop and moved toward the temple entrance. One of the guards, who were always very pretty to look at, stepped in front of her. “Acolyte Nelay, you are to report to your rooms and not leave until the temple servants come for you.”
She stopped short. “Why?”
The guard bowed. “I was not told, Acolyte.”
She and Jezzel exchanged glances. Besides the few times Nelay had been caught sneaking out of the temple grounds after curfew, she’d only ever been confined to her room before an advancement in her status.
“Are they making you a full priestess?” Jezzel asked. That was the last step in Nelay had left to take.
She slowly shook her head. “They wouldn’t do it today, not with the king coming.”
Glancing around, Nelay pulled Jezzel out of earshot. “We’re missing something. Something big.”
Jezzel bit her lip and looked around before leaning closer. The two stared at each other, and Nelay was suddenly glad she’d been acquiring an underground network since she was nine, when she decided she would be the next high prestess, that she needed to build a network. “Get everyone in motion. Let’s see what we can find out.”
  
Chapter

Jezzel pushed the door open, letting in a blast of heat from the Ovat. She stood panting, her clothes stained with sweat. She’d been gone for hours.
With nothing else to do, Nelay had taken a nap, as she always did during the ovat. “What did you find out?”
Jezzel’s mouth thinned. “The King’s mistress, her name is Zayid, one of the maids found her in her rooms sobbing.
Without a word, she went to Nelay stood with her arms crossed, staring at the blank wall. “You’re certain of this, Jez?”
Jezzel watched her carefully. “She heard the mistress screaming at him.”
Nelay “

“Good enough to distract a King,” Jezzel finally said.

Book Promotion Sites: The Good, The Bad, & The Ugly

Monday, March 30, 2015
If you learn nothing else, learn this: Bookbub rocks!
As in, life changing, book changing rocks. They're hard to get into: Read their requirements page and their tip page. Be flexible. In their comments box, mention other genre lists you'd be willing to be on. 
And don't give up! If they reject your promotion, try a different book/boxset or a different price point.

Ereader news today
·         Alexa=27,773
·         $15
      ·         Love them—subbed Winter Queen

Read Cheaply
  • Free!
  •  Subbed WQ
Midlist
·         Alexa=61,934
·         Free listing for permafree books (subbed Winter Queen)
      ·         To be sponsored is $100--not sure about this feature.

Free kindle books and tips
·         Alexa=108,200
·         $25
  • 150,000+ people via an e-Ink Kindle subscriptionemail or social media subscription, or directly on the blog’s website, or via an RSS reader.
  • Susan Quinn says they are great, but work best with free books.
  • Subbed WQ
Digital Book Today
·         Alexa=62,471
      ·            Free listing for permafree books. (subbed Witch Song, saw no sales spike whatsoever)

Booksends: tried it for Witch Born
  •   Priced it out at 2.99 (down from 6.99)
  • Total waste of money. $40 and I sold 3 ebooks on Amazon the day of the ad.
  • Though it might work better with a lower price point. 

The Fussy Librarian
  •      Waste of money

Free/Bargain Booksy,
·         Alexa=124,291
·         50,000 subscribers
·         Listed on website
·         $40
·         Rachel Morgan said it didn’t help her much
·         Susan Quinn says Freebooksy is better
One hundred free books
·         Alexa=12,889
·         28,000 email subscribers
·           Free listing for permafree books. (subbed WS)
·         $75
book bassett
·         Alexa=235,138
·         They feature up to 5 of an author’s books, which I think is cool. Subbed my novels.
·         21.99

Kindle Nation daily
  •     Alexa=20,889
  • 169,00 Kindle owners every day via web posts, email blasts, Facebook, and Twitter
  • 37,000 opt-in email or Kindle edition subscribers.
  •  Options ranging from $100-150
  •  Free pop over to bookgorilla (alexa=63,610)
  • IMO, they’re overpriced for the small bump they give you, but Heather Moore loves them. 


This data is from my own personal experience along with a few others. You're results may differ. And if you have tried one of these, I'd love to know your results in the comments! 

Tweetable: 
#BookMarketing #tips via @amberargyle. Marketing sites: which ones work and which ones are a waste of time. http://goo.gl/JVTmFo #promotip

What I hate about being an indie author.

Thursday, March 19, 2015
Don't get me wrong. I love being an indie author (most days). No one cares as much about my work as me, and I get to make sure everything is top notch. And honestly, I'm good at what I do, from writing books to cover design.

But that doesn't mean I love everything. So here's a list of five things I hate about being an indie author (not in order).

1. I hate being a business woman. I love writing stories and designing covers. I hate doing taxes, cataloging inventory, tracking expenses, upkeeping my novels, and answering emails. The list goes on and on. I'm a small business owner, and I have all the work that comes with it.

2. I dislike marketing. Though I'd say I have it pretty streamlined, it's still a lot of time and money. Time I'd rather spend on writing new stories. Money I'd rather spend on a fun vacation.

3. I hate feeling like a second-class citizen in the publishing world. I get it, there are no gatekeepers to indie publishing. And much of it isn't very good. But I am good. Many of us are. I get tired of being told I can't teach the craft of writing at a writer's conference, that I need to stick with stuff specific to indies. Or that I can't be on the blog hop with the "traditionally" published authors because there were too many complaints (not by participants, but by the traditionally published authors themselves ((But don't worry. We'll give you indies your own "special" team)). Or being told that the difference between indie publishing and traditional publishing is quality.

4. I hate NEVER being done. I have a huge to do list, and I usually only skim the top. I'm always behind, always feeling like I'm drowning in an attempt to keep up.

5. I hate never knowing what my paycheck will be. This has a huge upside, as there is no ceiling for me. But there's no bottom either. When Amazon introduced Kindle Unlimited, my paycheck dropped by half. Which sucked, cause for a while there, I was making a lot of money.

I still wouldn't change anything. I like being in charge. I love being able to put the best covers on my books and hire amazing content and copy editors, instead of being stuck with whatever the publisher thinks my book deserves. I love that I can make a living at this. That I can create my own schedule.

*technically, I'm a hybrid author, as my first book was traditionally published. But I consider myself an indie author.

Tweetable
   dishes on what she hates about     


{Giveaway} Summer Queen on Goodreads.

Wednesday, March 11, 2015
Tweetable to share:
Summer Queen by comes out in 3 weeks! Enter to the here


Goodreads Book Giveaway

Summer Queen by Amber Argyle

Summer Queen

by Amber Argyle

Giveaway ends June 02, 2015.
See the giveaway details at Goodreads.
Enter to win

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On Marriage: Twelve Secrets to Having a Successful Marriage

Friday, February 27, 2015
I love my husband very much, and I know he loves me. But sometimes, I want to kill him. I think that a perfectly normal response for two very strong, stubborn people trying to share a life.  But we have been married for almost 15 years, and I can say that we're fairly happy.

So here's twelve things I've learned about having a healthy marriage:

1. There is an emotion behind anger. Figure out what that emotion is, and deal with the root cause. 

2. Forgive immediately and without grudges. You will likely have to forgive your spouse every single day. Do it quickly if you can. If not, see #2.

3. Ask for EXACTLY what you need. We usually need to feel connected to enjoy sex. If you need a hug and your spouse is not providing it, ask for one. If you need your spouse to sweep and mop the floor for you to feel connected enough (or relaxed enough) to have sex, ask them to (men don't get hints). 

If you want more sex, ask what you need to do for your spouse to want it more. Don't say, "I shouldn't have to ask." As Dr. Phil says, "Do you want to be right or do you want to be happy?"

4. Ladies, make your spouse feel like your superhero. Most little boys want to grow up to save the day, make him feel this way. 

Men, make her feel like your princess. How you might ask, well that leads to #5. 

5. Find out what your spouse's love language is, and show them love in that way. Also, find out what your spouse's personality color is. It will help you understand their strengths and forgive their weaknesses--we all have them and while we can improve upon them, they're not going away (FYI, I'm a blue and my husband is a red). 

6. Don't be a right fighter. If one person is right, that means the other person is wrong. You can't have a successful marriage with that kind of attitude. Instead, try to focus on both of you getting as much resolution as you can out of the conflict. 

7. You need a team of people to support you--and your spouse can't play every role, though they should be your team captain. My husband simply isn't able to meet all my needs. He's an introvert, and I'm an extrovert. I need people and adventures to feel alive, while the same activities drain him. So I have friends I go running with. I also have friends I go shopping with or out to dinner. I come home feeling alive and he doesn't begrudge me that. 

8. Money. Money is always a problem. We were super poor the first 10 years of our marriage. It was HARD (whoever said money doesn't make you happy was an idiot). For us, I used to do all the grocery shopping and my husband would get upset with me every. single. time. 

I couldn't feed our family on his expectations. After seven years of fighting, I finally gave up and let him do the grocery shopping for three months. He spent more money than me every single time he went. 

After that, whenever he starts to get upset, I tell him I'll gladly hand the responsibility back over to him. The other thing that helped was getting my own job. My husband could not deal with making all the money and me spending it (even if it was just on groceries and bills). 

9. Division of labors. For us, and probably for most women, the majority of the housework falls on me, even though I work almost as many hours as he does. Same for child care. It's a constant struggle, feeling like one person isn't pulling their weight. 

The only thing I've found that helps is #3. Tell your spouse exactly how overwhelmed you feel. Explain how much it would mean to you if they would take over, say, cleaning the bathrooms. Also, get your kids involved. Even a toddler can wash walls with a squirt bottle of water and a cloth. 

10. Have fun together. Find something that you both love to do and make it your thing. For my husband and I, we both love to travel. That's not something we get to do a ton, but we like to imagine places we could go. We also like to go out to dinner together. 

11. Don't have close friends of the opposite sex. I've rarely seen this lead to anything but heartache. The only exceptions are when both couples are equally as close. 

12. Try really, really hard to never call your spouse bad names. Never swear at your spouse. Never yell at your spouse. If you're angry enough to do any of those things, walk away and revisit when your calmer (the advise to never go to bed angry is absolutely ridiculous. People need time to cool off, and they're better off coming back to it rested than exhausted). 

So how did I do? Did I miss anything? 


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