Saturday, February 8, 2014


Dear imps, today I have the pleasure of featuring Amber Stokes and her second novel, Forget Me Not. Many of you are familiar with Amber and her work already and are watching her entrepreneurial publishing ventures with great interest . . . so I think you'll be particularly interested in the guest post she is sharing with us today!

First a little bit about Amber (for those of you new to her and her work):

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.

And let's have a quick look at the story itself!

Prequel to Bleeding Heart

Old hurts, new betrayals, and a love that survives them all...

Summer 1885

A startling revelation sends Elizabeth Lawson escaping into a stormy night - and tosses her into the arms of a young mountain man with secrets of his own. When he offers to take her to the Nevada mining town where her long-lost brother lives, she accepts. Suspicions and uncertainties are pushed aside as she struggles to forge a future for herself by meeting her past.

David has been hiding from his painful memories for years. The solitude and wildness of the Rocky Mountains are challenge and comfort enough for him - until Elizabeth's arrival. Fueled by anger and a sense of obligation, he strives to take control of his new situation...only to find control slipping from his grasp with each new emotion Elizabeth evokes in him.

When their journey leads them on unexpected paths, can two lonely hearts find the strength to remember the good amid the heartbreak?

Inspirational Historical Romance

Amber is with us today to share about the story behind the story . . . .


The Long, Long Journey to Publishing Your First Manuscript

Amber Stokes



While Forget Me Not may be the second book I’ve self-published, it was my first book—my first “baby,” the first novel-length manuscript to reach “The End.” That first draft was written over the course of about five years, an off-and-on labor of love for a story I knew I wanted to finish and share someday.
As you can well imagine, though, starting a project in my young teens and then completing it in my college years made for a weaker beginning and a need for lots of polishing and fixing up. But we’re talking about my baby, the one that I had dreamed about and planned for so long that it could do no wrong in my eyes. When I reached “The End” I immediately felt that everyone should read it and love it, and that queries should be sent out posthaste. After all, she was beautiful, and heaven help the (well-meaning) people who pointed out her flaws!
So how did I get from there to here, with Forget Me Not now available for Kindle?
1. Separation. Elizabeth (my book’s heroine) and I needed some time apart. I was too close to her story, too attached to the way her journey played out. It frustrated me to even think of making changes. And you know what? I think that’s for the best. Sometimes, probably most especially when you’re first starting out, it’s too daunting to face edits right away, and you might not be entirely sure how to even go about them. So in my case, I went on another journey, writing Sally’s story over the course of the next two years. By the time that second book was done, I was at a place in my life where I was determined to make that story better and could see more clearly where I needed help. Meanwhile, Elizabeth waited patiently in the background for her turn.
2. Starting Over. After releasing Bleeding Heart, I made and shared plans to self-publish Forget Me Not in the winter. Setting a goal helped motivate me, so that I finally went back and revisited my first draft in the fall. (Here’s a glimpse at my reaction via Twitter.) Then when this past December rolled around, I knew I couldn’t put off facing edits any longer. Revisiting the first draft and taking into account the initial feedback I had received from an author friend two years prior helped me realize that the beginning of the book needed a complete overhaul. Back-story dumping? Lack of a real attention-grabbing first page? Too much time before the hero and heroine meet? All of that needed to be changed, and I was finally at a place in my life where I could face that truth. I went on to rewrite Part 1 (of the 3-part book) almost entirely, while still keeping some similar scenes and a few lines I really liked. From there I took what I had learned as a freelance editor and now-published author with editors of my own and applied it to the next two parts of the book, keeping the main content but polishing and tightening the writing. Yes, I lost about 20,000 words in this whole process, dropping the story down to either a very short novel or a decent-sized novella. But yes, the manuscript needed it!
3. Seeing the Light. The light at the end of the tunnel was finally in sight. I sent the revised manuscript to my proofreader, then went through another (lighter) round of editing after receiving her feedback. Then on to a final read-through (aloud) to catch remaining errors, and suffering through formatting woes. (Formatting is not my friend unless I start from scratch. *sigh* But the thing is, we can’t do it all. I love editing and publicity, but I’m not well-versed in graphic design or formatting. I needed other pairs of eyes for the editing, and I needed a cover designer and formatter—the fabulous Lena Goldfinch—to help Elizabeth look pretty in a way I could not.)
And now my baby is up on Amazon. Because she was my first, she presented a different set of challenges than Bleeding Heart, and probably future stories, I’d imagine. There are some who suggest tucking away those first stories for an even longer time, or never sharing them at all. But I believe each journey is different, and if you come to a place where you can see how to make your first story better and you’re willing to make the necessary changes, I think there’s hope for those firsts. After all, they certainly hold a special piece of your heart...
What are your thoughts on first manuscripts? Do you believe they can still be worth sharing in time?


Thank you, Amber! I appreciate you taking the time to walk us through your publishing adventures. I'm sure it will be encouraging and inspiring to many other aspiring young novelists!

Readers, be certain to up for Amber's newsletter and/or follow The Heart’s Spring series blog to stay up-to-date on the latest news for this series.

If you would like to follow the rest of the Forget Me Not blog tour, click here to visit the tour page. All the links are compiled there for easy access.

An "Unforgettable Journey" Giveaway!

Enter for the chance to win an epic entertainment package that includes a signed paperback copy of Forget Me Not, The Journey of Natty Gann on DVD, and “Barton Hollow” by The Civil Wars on CD. The giveaway is open to U.S. residents only.


a Rafflecopter giveaway


Unknown said...

Hey, Amber! Your book sounds really cool; I'm looking forward to reading it. One unforgettable journey I took was the transition between a private school and homeschooling. It was at first not so great a place for me, because I hated reading AND writing... but I'm glad to say that changed. : ) My favorite song was Follow Me, by John Denver. (My mom and I love John Denver.) Thanks!

Tracey Dyck said...

I'm in the same place you were with Forget Me Not... first book, big dreams, and humongous rewrites! This was encouraging, so thank you, Amber!

Hannah said...

Your journey to writing is always such an encouragment! God bless, Amber!

Amber Holcomb said...

Anne Elisabeth: Thank you so much for hosting me again and for letting me share the story behind the story of Forget Me Not! I truly appreciate your support. :)

Allison: Thank you so much! And aren't transitions between different types of schooling hard? I made the transition from a private school (1st-8th grades) to a public school for high school - freshman year wasn't the best thing ever, LOL. But I learned to ultimately enjoy it, mostly since I kept my nose in the books. ;)

Anyway, I'm so glad to hear that you ended up liking the transition! And you and your mom are John Denver fans?? How wonderful! My mom, dad, and I are, as well. :) His music reminds me of coming home. ♥

Michelle: I'm so glad my story could encourage you! Keep on keeping on! :) *Hugs*

Hannah: Aww, I'm so happy to hear that. :) God bless you, too, friend!


Anna said...

Going from home school to college was a biggie. :D Probably one of the hardest adjustments I've ever had to make... Especially taking that first math exam. :P Yikes.

Amber Holcomb said...


That is quite the journey! And math... *sigh* ;) Not sure if you're still in college or not, but I hope things are going well for you wherever you're at!


Tracey Dyck said...

Thanks, Amber! I will 'keep on keeping on,' as you say. :) It'll all be worth it one day! And I'm learning stuff in the waiting and working seasons of my writing life that I couldn't have learned otherwise. *Hugs back*

Amber Holcomb said...


You're most welcome! And that attitude will take you far. :) That realization that God uses the "in between" times in such important ways is one I have to keep learning, but it's still a great comfort, isn't it?