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
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manuscript and the currently unpublished prequel to Bleeding Heart).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
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
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
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
Tell us about the
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.
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
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
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.
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