In the blogging world it so often happens that you come across readers with the same tastes as you, but it doesn't often happen that you become friends with said readers and get to follow them on their blogging journey AND their journey to become a published author. I've been lucky enough to meet not one but two up and coming authors -- first, Keli Gwyn, when I first started out blogging who's now author of A Bride Opens Shop in El Dorado, California, and now a second blogger turned writer, Amber Stokes author of Bleeding Heart and it's yet-to-be-released prequel, Forget Me Not! Please take a few minutes to "meet" Amber below and check out my thoughts on her debut novel too. I'm sure Amber will be stopping by so if you'd like to leave a comment for her, please do!
Meet Amber Stokes, Author of Bleeding Heart!
About 2 years – but that’s because I was only working on it off and on during that time. Bleeding Heart isn’t overly long for a novel (about 53,000 words), but I didn’t really have a deadline, so it was just something I would come back to now and again – a story that remained on my heart but allowed me time to get it down on paper. Participating in the Speedbo challenge on the Seekerville blog this last March was what gave me the push to finally get to “The End.” Then came the editing!
~ What was the inspiration behind the book (characters, setting, etc.)?
The book was inspired by a combination of things. Most of the main characters were secondary characters in my first manuscript, Forget Me Not (the yet-to-be-published prequel). So I guess you could say I was inspired to share their stories! As for the settings, I became captivated by Virginia City, Nevada when I was in high school – I even wrote my IB (International Baccalaureate) extended essay about some of the history of the town. And yes, that does mean I’m a fan of Bonanza. *wink* I love all things American West! Falk, the other main setting in Bleeding Heart, was a logging town in my home county…but it no longer exists. Seeing the signs about the town and the very few remnants of it on a trail near Eureka, California (Headwaters Forest Reserve) made me curious, and I knew I wanted to set a story there. As for the storyline itself, that was inspired by the title (continuing the flower-names-with-meanings theme), the characters, and my own fears and questions about love.
~ What do you hope readers take away from the story?
I hope readers take away hope – that somehow the story reminds them that there is hope and healing in trusting God. And I would also love for the story to challenge readers…to maybe cause them to wrestle with their own beliefs about love, about life and death. Even if we can’t grasp all there is to know about these things, I think it’s important to think about them, to struggle with them, to understand what you believe and to trust God to be bigger than what you don’t understand.
~ I always like to have at least one fun question in an interview. I love the cover for Bleeding Heart. If you had an unlimited budget and could get anyone to pose for the cover of your next book who would you have on the cover?
I love the cover, too! Didn’t Lena Goldfinch do such a lovely job? I’m super pleased with how it came together! And what a neat question! The next book I want to publish is Forget Me Not (the prequel). The heroine in that novel is a young brunette. To be honest (I seriously hope this doesn’t sound super vain!), I always thought it would be kind of fun to pose for my own cover. Of course, I also always thought it would be fun to star in my own movie (based on one of my books)! Michael Landon Jr. would be the director, of course. *grin* But seriously… You know, I’m actually just not sure! If I could go back in time and ask Daniela Denby-Ashe (Margaret Hale from BBC’s North & South) when she was in her late teens or early twenties to pose on the cover (assuming she looked similar to how she did in that series – just a little younger), that would be pretty sweet! I did find a model photo on iStockphoto.com that I really like that would be about the same price I paid for the model photo used on Bleeding Heart, but I haven’t heard my cover designer’s thoughts on it yet, so we’ll see. Oh, and there’s a great photo I really like that I’d love to use on the cover of Bleeding Heart’s sequel (yet-to-be written), but it is a little pricey… So I’d love to be given unlimited funds to use all the right photos I like without worries, LOL!
~ I'd love for you to include a little bit about yourself and your book or anything else you would like to add. :-)
Thank you so much for hosting me, Renee! I’ve been a big fan of you and your blog for a long time, so it’s a pleasure to be here as a guest!
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.
Amber's Personal Blog: Seasons of Humility
Book Blogs: Bleeding Heart, Forget Me Not
Editing Website: Editing Through the Seasons
US Residents: Enter to win a Bleeding Heart themed giveaway pack, including a signed paperback copy of the book (not pictured) from the author HERE! a Rafflecopter giveaway
About 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.
Never have I encountered a romance with a twist like that of Bleeding Heart! If her upcoming novels are as exciting and drama-filled as her debut, Amber Stokes will have no trouble gaining permanent and devoted fans. Much like a Heartsong Presents novel, Bleeding Heart has everything that makes a great story -- setting, plot twists, and great characters all in a short, quick bite.
From just a few short chapters, a few characters stood out as favorites, those being Sally, the heroine and her friend Cornish miner, Myghal. Obviously we learn what happens to Sally, and I have to say a few things are certainly gut-wrenching, but Myghal's story is left open and I for one want to know more of what's in store for my latest book crush! Sally is a bit on the naive side for a woman who has had to live on her own for 3 years but she is by no means TSTL or unlikeable. Joe, Seth, and of course Myghal are what you'd expect to see in a novel of the Old West -- a bit like the Cartwrights of TV's Bonanza, tough, loyal, and chivalrous to a fault!
When all is said and done, Bleeding Heart is a good debut. This story definitely went above and beyond my already high expectations for it. Anytime I read almost the entire book in a sitting without even realizing it's WAY past my bedtime, well, that's a good thing! I think it's worth the $2.99 if you are a fan of western romances.
To read what other reviewers are saying about the book go HERE.
To purchase a copy of the book for your Kindle go HERE.
~ My Rating: 4 out of 5 stars ~
*I received a complimentary copy of this book for review from the publisher. I was not required to write a positive review. The opinions I have expressed are my own. I am disclosing this in accordance with the Federal Trade Commission's 16 CFR, Part 255.*