Amber is a young writer who will, I believe, prove an inspiration to many more aspiring novelists. She sets a fantastic example for others who might wish to follow in her footsteps. She has invested her time wisely by getting a solid education and working hard to grow her writing skills. She built a loyal blog following by creating a blog where readers know they can find thoughtful reviews, entertaining interviews, and the occasional "for fun" post about daily life and experiences. She has participated in writing contests, hosted giveaways, and invested in her reading audience. She has started her own editing business, Editing Through the Seasons, and used this as a way to help other writers on their publication journeys. She has networked with professionals by offering features and forming true friendships.
In short, she has, by virtue of being a lovely, hardworking, and friendly young woman, set herself up to make a splash with her debut novel! Young writers would do very well to follow her lead, whether they intend to pursue traditional or self-publishing.
Earlier this month, Amber's novel Bleeding Heart released, and the blogging world has been abuzz with news. And you may have seen the cover featured here a few months ago . . . but here it is again anyway, because it's so pretty!
Five bleeding hearts. One profound journey.
Sally Clay’s livelihood has been snatched away, but in its place arises an opportunity to escape from her sordid past and an unrelenting, unwanted suitor. Boarding a train with a heartsick rancher and an enigmatic miner, she leaves Virginia City behind and heads to Northern California, waiting for the chance to make right what went wrong three long years before.
But the road to revenge is far from smooth. Sally soon learns that the jagged pieces of a broken heart can far too easily wound the hearts of others – and hers isn’t the only heart that’s broken. Tragedy and fear dog her steps as she flees from the redwood forests to the high desert and back again. Will her bleeding heart ever find a way and a place to heal?
A desperate soiled dove. Three men who come to care for her. One man determined to claim her.
All on a journey that will show them what true love really involves.
Inspirational Historical Romance
Here is a little about the author herself too:
Amber Stokes has a Bachelor of Science degree in English and a passion for the written word - from blogging to writing poetry, short stories, and novels. After her brief time at college in Oregon, she is now back home among the redwoods of Northern California, living life one day at a time and pursuing her passion via freelance editing and self-publishing her debut novel, Bleeding Heart
1. Would you mind telling us a little about yourself? Hobbies, personality . . . tea or coffee?
Amber: My name is Amber Stokes, and I am a book addict. *wink* Besides blogging about books, reading and reviewing books, writing books, and editing and publicizing books (and talking about them more than my family and friends probably care to hear!), I love to spend time with my family, quote movies, sing and dance (in the privacy of my room, generally, although I love going to dances when I can!), and do touristy things, even in my own home county.
As for tea or coffee, I prefer tea – usually a fruity flavor, although peppermint can be good! And if there’s a third option, hot chocolate is always nice. *grin*
2. What led you into the writing life? Were you always a storyteller?
Amber: I’m not quite sure when it all began…perhaps with my mama reading me stories as a little girl? I fell in love with reading at a young age, and I’m sure it was my passion for reading that bled into my passion for writing. I had an affinity for poetry in my younger years (which hasn’t completely gone away!), so I wrote a lot of poems as gifts for my family and friends for birthdays and holidays. I did try to write some “novels,” if you will (short stories or story beginnings that should never see the light of day again), when I was in middle school, but it was in high school that a story idea hit me that hasn’t let me go. That story was Forget Me Not, my first inspirational historical romance novel. I finished the first draft my first year of college, and I have hopes of going back and editing it in order to publish it as the prequel to Bleeding Heart. I wasn’t ready to edit when I finished that first draft, but I think maybe it’s about time.
3. Tell us a little about your debut novel, Bleeding Heart. How long have you been working on it? Can you recall what inspired you initially?
Amber: I’ve been working on it for about two years, ever since I finished Forget Me Not. I wasn’t ready to face edits for Forget Me Not then, so I turned to writing a sequel, taking some of the feedback I had received for the first book and applying it to the second. The story was inspired by some secondary characters from the first book, some settings I love, the title I chose, and some fears and questions I had about love that I wanted to work through.
4. Can you pick a favorite character from this novel?
Amber: As I’m sure practically every author answers this, I love all of the characters for various reasons. *grin* But I think one of my favorites – if not my favorite – is Myghal, a redheaded Cornish man who is sort of the “best friend” character in both Forget Me Not and Bleeding Heart. I wrote him into the first book after visiting an archaeological dig in Virginia City one summer and learning that the town’s highest street back in the day used to be where the Cornish miners lived. I just thought it would be fun to include a Cornish character after learning that, but ever since I introduced him, he’s been stealing scenes and stealing little bits of my heart.
5. What inspires your work? Where do you turn when you need a renewal of inspiration?
Amber: I think one of my main sources of inspiration – beyond my own experiences and the places I’ve visited – is music. For this series, that’s mainly bluegrass and folk music. I actually compiled a “soundtrack” for Bleeding Heart of songs that seem to capture my characters’ emotions at various points in the story, which you can find HERE. The order of the songs can be found on that page, and the Pinterest link will take you to YouTube videos of the songs.
6. What are your favorite and least favorite parts of the writing process?
Amber: After my initial reaction to receiving feedback on Forget Me Not, I seriously thought editing would be my least favorite aspect of the process. I mean, even with college papers I generally just worked really hard on one draft (usually last-minute…) and didn’t go through various drafts. (Not saying this is the best way to go – it’s just how I approached them!) But once I finished Bleeding Heart, I felt ready to polish it and to make it ready for publication. I actually enjoyed editing (despite getting frustrated at times) and seeing the story come together and become better than it had been.
I guess it’s hard to pick a favorite part of the process now! I love daydreaming about a story and discovering it as I write. Maybe my least favorite part is the waiting – waiting for feedback, and then finding the courage to face the edits, or even the strength to just sit down and write. And for Bleeding Heart, the formatting (for the Kindle version) gave me some grief. Once I could see the goal so close to being realized, it was hard to push through the finalizing process when I was ready for the “fun part” (these interviews, working on the blog tour, having actual readers, etc.). But I knew it was important to make sure it was polished, especially since it would be my first impression on readers and the publishing world!
7. Which authors inspire you as you develop your own storytelling voice? Any historical romance novelists you would consider a particular influence?
Amber: A few of Tracie Peterson and Linda Lee Chaikin’s books hooked me on Christian historical romance back in elementary school. I think the “Yukon Quest” series and the “Buccaneers” series showed me how exciting and engaging stories from that genre could be. More recently, I’ve been especially inspired by MaryLu Tyndall, Laura Frantz, Karen Witemeyer, Tamera Alexander, Joanne Bischof, and Elizabeth Camden – although I’m sure I could list many more who have made me fall deeper in love with the genre through their books! I think just reading a ton of books, writing my thoughts on them in reviews, and seeing how other authors succeed in the genre has influenced me and my writing a great deal. Oh, and I for sure have to mention author Elizabeth Ludwig and Rachelle Rea (not yet published, but hopefully in the not-too-distant future!) – my editor and my proofreader – as they certainly influenced my writing for the better in the editing stages.
8. So what is next on your publishing horizons? Can we look forward to more fiction from you soon?
Amber I sure hope so! (In answer to the second question.) My goal is to edit Forget Me Not and publish it as the prequel Winter 2014. After that, I’d like to write another sequel and publish it later in 2014 – maybe next August? I guess that depends on how fast I can write now that I have a book out there and self-imposed deadlines, LOL.
I’m also planning on writing a companion short story that I may or may not enter in your Cinderella contest… *grin*
9. What are you actively writing right now?
Amber: Sadly, nothing at the moment. I’m writing these responses! I haven’t really had a chance to start on a new writing project since I got Bleeding Heart up on Amazon… However, I hope to start in on that companion short story very soon. An early reviewer inspired me, and some ideas have been eager to get from my mind to the page!
10. Can you share a short snippet from Bleeding Heart?
Amber: Of course! This is from Chapter 2 – a little background on the heroine, and a glimpse at why I love Myghal so much…
California looked like gold as it sped by the window of the train. The summer-warmed hills of the interior might seem dry and barren to some, but to Sally the tan interspersed with some light green spoke of promise. A desire to begin anew rushed up from her heart, but it was a foolish notion. She would never break free from the sins of her past, nor would she be able to find peace until she confronted the reason she was out here in this beautiful but savage land in the first place. The admission caused an ache so deep she was sure she felt it in her bones.
“It’s nice to get out of the Nevada desert, isn’t it?”
She glanced over at Joe, but he just stared out the window, and she wondered if he had even uttered the question. The words sounded hopeful, but she could tell they were hollow inside, empty of life. For what reason, she could never guess. Nor did she want to try.
“Here.” The man named Myghal handed her his tattered coat.
She shook her head. “I don’t need it. I’m not cold.”
“It’s not for the cold.”
Her hand went to her neck, then slid down to where her fingers brushed her collar bone. She squinted up at him through her long lashes and smiled – a slow, seductive smirk that came as naturally to her now as her girlish giggles used to do. “My dress bother you, Myghal?”
He shrugged his bony shoulders, unblinking. “No, ma’am, but I think it’s drawing unnecessary attention.”
Not bothering to acknowledge the leering gazes aimed her way, she tilted her head and chuckled. “Maybe I like attention.” He would never know that she was once a shy, albeit determined, girl who only craved the attention of one man.
“Well, humor me, will ya?” He leaned forward and placed the coat around her shoulders.
His gentle touch and the protective gesture confused her. This was the same miner who had dumped a pitcher of water on her when she’d tried to comfort a dark-haired, lonely man in the only way she knew how anymore. The man had appeared so lost as he downed his whiskey, speaking angrily with her boss but obviously searching for a distraction to whatever was causing his eyes to glisten in the low light of the barroom. In that moment she had felt a kinship with him that she didn’t want to let go. But Myghal had stopped them cold with a splash of water and taken the dark-haired man away, leaving her in that awful room, drenched and alone. So very, very alone.
Tears came to her eyes unbidden. While she had learned long ago to cry whenever the act was needed, this was different. She didn’t want to cry.
Amber: Thank you so much for hosting me, Anne Elisabeth ! I’ve so appreciated your support during this time as I’ve prepared to share Bleeding Heart with readers.
You are most welcome, Amber! It has been my pleasure! :)
Dear readers, if Bleeding Heart looks like the book for you, be certain to enter your name in this generous giveaway (US only). So many fun goodies listed here! Also, be certain to continue reading along the rest of the tour.
Tuesday, August 20th
Tuesday, August 20th
Wednesday, August 21st
Thursday, August 22nd
Friday, August 23rd
Saturday, August 24th
Sunday, August 25th
Monday, August 26th
Tuesday, August 27th
Wednesday, August 28th
Thursday, August 29th
Friday, August 30th
Saturday, August 31st
- Conclusion of the tour at Seasons of Humility
Be sure to congratulate Amber on her debut release! Such an exciting time for a novelist!
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