Monday, August 26, 2013

BLEEDING HEART - Amber Stokes - One Free Ebook on This Blog, Plus More

Readers, we're talking to a debut author. Welcome, Amber. Tell us how much of yourself you write into your characters.
I pour my heart into them! Several of the main characters in Bleeding Heart have been with me for a long time, as they made their first appearance in Forget Me Not (my first manuscript and the currently unpublished prequel to Bleeding Heart). They’re dear to me, and I feel like I’ve grown alongside them. Their stories have given me the chance to grapple with my own beliefs about love and faith, and I’ve given them some struggles that I’ve faced on a different scale. Yes, their stories on their own, and they’re fictional characters. But yes, you’ll find a lot of me – my fears, my dreams, my uncertainties, my hope – in them.

What is the quirkiest thing you have ever done?
I’m not sure if it’s the quirkiest, but probably one of the most spontaneous things I’ve ever done is purchase a train ticket for a day trip to nowhere while I was in college. It was my first semester, and I was stressed about school work and the musical I was in, so I just decided I wanted to get away and find some perspective. I absolutely love trains, so I bought a train ticket for a round-trip ride from my school in Oregon up to a station in Washington and back – the night before the trip. Needless to say, my family was a bit concerned when I told them my plans, but they supported me and a friend drove me to the station the next morning and picked me up in the evening. Although I skipped a couple of classes and a play practice (which was not the most responsible thing to do!), I’ll never regret taking the trip. Sometimes you need time with just you and God – to think, to reflect, and to have a little adventure. J

When did you first discover that you were a writer?
Hmmm … I’m not really sure about that one! It’s hard to pinpoint an exact time, as it was a combination of things – a growing love for reading, an interest in writing poetry, a desire to try my hand at novels (that first attempt from middle school should never see the light of day again), majoring in English in college, starting a blog, finishing two novels, and finally pursuing self-publishing. It’s been a journey I’ve been on for a long time, and I’ve loved it!

Tell us the range of the kinds of books you enjoy reading.
Well, I majored in English in college, so I’ve read an interesting variety of books for literature classes. But the kind I really enjoy reading are Christian fiction and young adult novels. I love historical romance, but I also enjoy some futuristic stories, contemporary romance, fantasy, fairytale-twists, etc. I’ve grown a bit in my tastes lately, but I do still like to have some romance in pretty much every book I read. And reading non-fiction is a bit like pulling teeth for me, LOL. (Although once in a while I’ll enjoy it – like reading Falk’s Claim: The Life and Death of a Redwood Lumber Town by Jon Humboldt Gates while I was preparing to edit Bleeding Heart. I highly recommend the book if you’d like to learn more about one of the settings I chose!)

How do you keep your sanity in our run, run, run world?
Perspective is key. Trusting God for each step, knowing He’ll lead the way. Remembering that some things have more lasting value than others. Holding onto the hope that this life is only the beginning. I’m not saying I’ve mastered the art of maintaining a proper, eternal perspective – not at all. But God is always patient, and always there to bring me back. And, He also helps me keep my sanity by working through the encouragement of Twitter and Blogger friends, the fun times with family and friends, the resonant truth of His Word, etc. When I feel like I’m going crazy with projects and day-to-day life, there’s always something or someone that will help me push through as I try to take it all one step at a time. J

How do you choose your characters’ names?
Oh, names are such a hard thing for me. I actually had to change a character’s name in Bleeding Heart because I apparently have a fetish for male J-names, and it would potentially have been quite confusing for readers to keep all the J-names apart, haha!

Let’s see … I try to pick names that sound right for the time period, of course. Some names have just kind of popped into place – they’re generally simple ones. Some are ones that have some sort of connection to a song or movie that’s special to me. And then some are the result of searching baby names (etc.) online. I do like it when I can find one whose meaning fits the character’s story in some way.

What is the accomplishment that you are most proud of?
There are several goals I worked really hard to achieve, and I guess they’re the ones I’m most proud of. One would be getting my black belt in Jujitsu. It took me about 12 years, and I’m not the most physical person, so it was a struggle to stick with it. But my parents encouraged me to keep going (and they paid for my lessons), so passing that test and getting my black belt at the tournament was pretty awesome. J Getting my IB (International Baccalaureate) diploma and being class valedictorian in high school were things I was happy to finally accomplish. Also, getting my college degree, gaining each new client for my freelance editing business, and self-publishing my novel … There are so many heartaches and tears and frustrations and the support of family and friends behind each of those things, so each one feels special. I love this verse in the Psalms that hit me the other day, though: “I will cry unto God most high; unto God that performeth all things for me” (Psalm 57:2). God is the one who heard my cry and helped me through each task, and I’m so grateful He really does perform all things for me!

If you were an animal, which one would you be, and why?
Probably a cat. They’re independent homebodies that can sleep a lot, get cuddled when they feel like it, be quirky, and have such unique personalities. Love ’em!

What is your favorite food?
So tough to pick just one. I love my sweets – especially chocolate. Guess it depends what I’m in the mood for, you know? But yeah, I love chocolate …

What is the problem with writing that was your greatest roadblock, and how did you overcome it?
One of the greatest roadblocks was simply finishing a book! It’s hard to sit down, focus, and get the words on the page. Participating in a writing challenge like NaNoWriMo (National Novel Writing Month) or Seekerville’s Speedbo (I did the latter this year) can help with that, as well as having someone to share your work with – someone who will help celebrate your milestones and express an interest in your work. (Amanda Stanley, a dear blogging friend, was that person for me when I was writing my first book. Appreciate her so much!)

Another of my greatest roadblocks was editing – not necessarily the actual act of doing it, but facing it. I wasn’t ready when I finished my first book. I didn’t want to hear the criticism (no matter how kindly given or how necessary), and I couldn’t see how much better the story could be when I incorporated the edits. However, when I finished Bleeding Heart and determined that I really wanted to publish it, I was at a much different place. I got the edits back from my editor, the talented and wonderful Elizabeth Ludwig, and I saw how the story could be improved, and I was eager to polish it so it would shine. I’ve certainly got plenty of growing left to do, but I think these sorts of attitudes only come from time, distance, and preparedness. Writing is a long journey, and it’s sometimes difficult to realize that when you’re first starting out.

Tell us about the featured book.
Bleeding Heart is a shorter inspirational historical romance novel (about 53,000 words). It’s a rather dark story about heartbreak, grief, revenge, and tragedy – but it is also one that explores healing, love, and hope. Here’s the description of the book:

Five bleeding hearts. One profound journey.

Summer 1886

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.

Sounds like a book I’d love to read. Please give us the first page of the book.
Virginia City, Nevada ~ Summer 1886
There was no way on God’s brown desert dirt that Sally Clay was going to marry Rufus O’Daniel.

As she hurried through town to the train station, Sally thought about how she was now in the same predicament she had been in three years ago, back when her whole world had broken into pieces as numerous as the sagebrush bushes on the hillsides. It didn’t matter that Rufus was one of the wealthiest men in the whole state of Nevada – a silver baron who knew when to stop mining, while others squandered their wealth away trying to make the earth give up more riches than it contained. She was through with men’s tricks. This time, she was going to be the one to leave.

As much as she hated Jacob Lawson for selling his business and leaving her jobless, she recognized a glimpse of freedom when she saw it – and perhaps a foretaste of sweet, sweet revenge. The details were still undetermined, but the man had it coming to him, and soon.

Over two weeks had passed since she had been booted from her room on D Street, in “Sporting Row.” She had spent most of her money, as well as some feminine persuasion toward the right man, staying at the hotel for that time. The quiet and the independence were far more of a luxury than the fancy furnishings and the modern conveniences. But Rufus wasn’t taking “no” the way she intended him to, and the desire to bolt had been building up inside of her for a long time. Now she was finally going to give in to the urge.

Spotting a familiar face in the line at the ticket counter once she arrived at the station, she rushed to his side. “Joe?” She touched his arm and put on her best desperate look. It wasn’t too much of a challenge at this moment.

Recognition was quickly followed by disgust in his dirt-brown eyes as he looked down on her. “Whaddya want, Sally?”

She countered his question with one of her own, leaning in ever so slightly as she had been taught. “Where ya headed?”

“I don’t see how that’s any of yer business.”

How can readers find you on the Internet?
I’m all over the place online! J Always love to make new friends!
Bleeding Heart website:

Thank you for this opportunity to share my story with your readers!

“Journey to the West” Giveaway! One U.S. resident (randomly drawn) will receive a signed copy of Bleeding Heart and a collection of items from the story’s settings, handpicked by the author. Click on this link to take you to the giveaway.
a Rafflecopter giveaway

Thank you, Amber, for sharing your new book and giveaway with my readers.

Readers, here is the link to the book. By using one when you order, you help support this blog.
Bleeding Heart

Leave a comment for a chance to win a free copy of the book. Please tell us where you live, at least the state or territory. (Comments containing links may be subject to removal by blog owner.)

Void where prohibited; the odds of winning depend on the number of entrants. Entering the giveaway is considered a confirmation of eligibility on behalf of the enterer in accord with these rules and any pertaining local/federal/international laws.

The only notification you’ll receive is the winner post on this blog. So be sure to check back a week from Saturday to see if you won. You will have 4 weeks from the posting of the winners to claim your book.

If you’re reading this on Google +, Feedblitz, Facebook, Linkedin, or Amazon, please come to the blog to leave your comment if you want to be included in the drawing. Here’s a link.


Melanie Backus said...

I would love to read this book. With bits of Amber in it, I look forward to the story that is set before us. Thank you, Lena!
Melanie Backus, Texas

Britney Adams said...

I look forward to reading BLEEDING HEART; it sounds like such an inspirational story! Thank you for sharing this lovely interview!! Wishing Amber much success with her debut novel!

Britney Adams, TX

Amy C said...

I have been looking forward to Amber's release for some time now. Thanks for the interview.
Amy C

Amy C said...

I have been looking forward to Amber's release for some time now. Thanks for the interview.
Amy C

Lena Nelson Dooley said...

I would love to win the giveaway package.

KayM said...

I am looking forward to reading Bleeding Heart by Amber Stokes. It sounds like an interesting story. Thank you for the interview. I enjoyed the opportunity to get to know Amber a little bit.

Patty said...

I would love to win an e-book copy of Bleeding Heart.

I'm very impressed with Amber's accomplishments thus far. Kudos for pursuing your dreams.

Patty in SC

Amber Stokes said...


That's so sweet! :) Good luck in the giveaway!


Amber Stokes said...


I truly hope it's inspirational to readers, despite it's darker tones. I'm so glad you enjoyed the interview, and thank you for the kind words! :)


Amber Stokes said...


That's awesome! I'm flattered. :) Thanks for leaving a comment!


Amber Stokes said...


First off, thank you so much for hosting me on your happenin' blog! :) I appreciate the chance to share about Bleeding Heart with your readers.

Second, of course! All you have to do is enter 1 (or more!) ways via the Rafflecopter form (so we have your name in the hat). :) Let me know if you or any of your readers have questions about how to use the form!


Amber Stokes said...


I'm glad you enjoyed the interview - I appreciate your comment! :)


Amber Stokes said...


Thank you so much! I'm grateful that my family and friends support me through this, so that I have a chance to follow my dreams. :)

Good luck in the giveaway!


Raquel Byrnes said...

I know what you mean about name fetishes...glad its not just me. :) Wonderful interview and cover!

Lourdes said...

Oh I am looking forward to reading this book. Thank you for the chance to win a copy.

Lourdes Long Island, NY

Amber Stokes said...


I'm glad I'm not the only one, too! ;)

Didn't Lena Goldfinch do an awesome job on the cover? So glad you enjoyed the post!


Amber Stokes said...


Glad to hear it! :) Good luck in the drawing!


Jean said...

Sounds like a great book. Thanks for this opportunity!

Jean Kropid
West Palm Beach, FL

Amber Stokes said...


Thank YOU! Good luck in the drawing! :)


Barbara Thompson said...

Great interview! Book sounds wonderful! Would love to win! Please enter my name in the giveaway! Thank you!

Barbara Thompson (Louisiana)


Amber Stokes said...


Glad to hear you enjoyed the interview! :) Good luck in the drawing!


Merry said...

I love Amber's train getaway, it sounds like a great idea.
Merry in MN

sm said...

Congratulations on getting your first novel published. Hope you do well. I would love to win and read your book. sharon, CA

bonton said...

Enjoyed your interview, Amber, & would love to read your book - sounds like a winner!

It sounds like you have a very supportive family, no doubt that has been very beneficial in striving to reach your dreams!



Amber Stokes said...

Thanks, Merry!

Sometimes you just have to step back and take some time to be reminded of a proper perspective, you know? :) And I love trains! There's something special about train travel. :) (I'm a romantic, what can I say?)


Amber Stokes said...


Thank you for the kind words! :) Good luck in the drawing!


Amber Stokes said...

Hello, bonton!

I appreciate the encouragement. :) And yes, I'm definitely blessed! I love my family, and I really appreciate their constant support - providing for me, helping me out, and giving me a chance to follow my dreams. :)


Sandra Leesmith said...

What a terrific interview. Amber is my editor and so it is fun to learn more about her. She does a great job editing so am enjoying her wonderful writing also.

Thanks for sharing this info with us.

Amber Stokes said...


Glad you enjoyed the interview - and so glad you stopped by! It's a privilege to be your editor, and I'm blessed to know you're pleased with my work. :) I'm enjoying your latest so far, too!


Cindy W. said...

I would love to read Bleeding Heart. Thank you for the chance to win.

Cindy W. from Indiana

Amber Stokes said...

Hi, Cindy!

Thank you for your interest in Bleeding Heart! :) Good luck in the giveaway!


P.S. Bleeding Heart is on sale for $.99 (Kindle) during the Labor Day weekend. :)

Veronica Sternberg said...

This looks really good! I'm in MN.

Amber Stokes said...


Thank you for stopping by! :) Good luck in the drawing!