August 19, 2013

Bleeding Heart Blog Tour {Interview, Review, & Giveaway!}

Today I am thrilled to be a part of this blog tour and have author Amber Stokes stopping by to answer a few questions about her debut novel Bleeding Heart! Amber is a lovely blogging friend and I have been delighted to anticipate this moment with her. She deserves every bit of excitement she's feeling right now. Without further ado, let's get to the questions! :)

Hello Amber! Thank you for stopping by today. I'm so happy to chat about Bleeding Heart with you. :)

Amber: Thank you so much for having me, Kara! I’m happy to be here. :)

You stated in your Author's Note that your interest in Virginia City, NV got you started with your writing. What was one thing that you remember first noticing that intrigued you? As in, what specifically "kick-started your dreams"? A building? A person?

Amber: To be honest, it’s all kind of a blur! I remember sitting in a hotel room (I guess it was in Reno) and having these ideas rush through my mind. I wrote out a very basic synopsis for Forget Me Not (the prequel to Bleeding Heart) involving Virginia City (which I suppose we had just visited), a girl on a quest to find the brother she never knew, and a love that began in childhood with a handful of forget-me-nots. Looking back in my little notebook, I noted these things about Virginia City: the wooden sidewalks, the candy shops, the fact that there can still be snow in April, etc. And I guess this shows what little I knew back then about the town: I put a question mark after “silver mining,” LOL. (No question mark needed!)

The thing is, I remember writing a good bit of the story as a contemporary once upon a time. (Bad idea. Really.) So, I think what happened was that I planned on writing it as a historical, then changed my mind, then changed my mind again – or maybe it started as a contemporary, and then I had a revelation about the historical perspective? But I vividly recall the story idea beginning that day in the hotel room… See what I mean? It’s a blur! However it went down, though, Virginia City was a part of both versions. I guess it was just the atmosphere of the place and the fact that it was the first town of its kind I’d really visited that struck me. :)

Can you tell us which character from Bleeding Heart first took shape in your mind and what was it that struck you about them? Why did you feel a need to write about them?

Amber: Several of the characters in Bleeding Heart were first introduced in Forget Me Not – but I’d have to go with Joe, as I believe he came into Forget Me Not before either Sally, Myghal, or Seth (initially called John, but I have way too many J-names as it is, LOL). When I first started writing the sequel, I basically just wanted to write the story about the spurned suitor from book 1 (Joe) and go from there. It all started out as an often-told love triangle in book 1, and book 2 was a chance to explore the love story of the third of the triangle that was left behind. He was a sweet, rather na├»ve fellow in book 1, but there were undercurrents of hurt and emotional depth in his character begging to be explored. He proved to be so much more than just a spurned suitor, after all…

Joe started out sweet and naive? Now that intrigues me! His experience must have really changed him then. :)

I know you have a Pinterest Board featuring a "soundtrack" for the story. Which song from the list first stood out to you as the perfect sound for what you were writing? What was it about that song particularly? (You can talk about your favorite song, if that would be easier.)

Amber: I’d probably have to say the two songs by Huckleberry Flint (a band from my neck of the woods, actually!). Both “Dixie” and “Sally Ann” were songs that I initially incorporated into the story, in a sense… I generalized “Dixie,” of course, so that it could be in reference to whatever version of the song was around then – but the one I listened to and thought of was the version performed by Huckleberry Flint. As for “Sally Ann,” I think I discovered that it might not be as old a song as I thought, or something along those lines, so I took out the reference to the song, even though I don’t think I ever included the title… Anyway, I initially connected it to the scene after “Dixie” in chapter 5 (the song Myghal plays on his fiddle), but I ended up connecting it (via the “soundtrack”) to the feeling generated in the scene at the end of chapter 21.

I can feel that when I listen to it! I think it definitely fits that particular scene really well. The music and lyrics both. I love having a soundtrack to listen to! :)

Tea or coffee?

Amber: Tea, please. Fruit-flavored or peppermint preferred. :)

I love tea also, but would prefer citrus flavors over peppermint. ;)

Name five things you can't live without (the necessities are a given, these should be fun!)

Amber: (I’m assuming “things” like God and the abilities to speak, see, move, etc. are also a given!)

The Bible
Nature (I love its beauty and the solitude and reflection it affords.)
Books (You know it! *wink*)
A Computer (OK, I hope I could live without this, but at this point in my life, it’s kind of useful!)

You assumed right. :) And of course books have to be on your list! Where would we be without them?! (Let's not even contemplate such a thing, yes? ;)

Do you have any more stories or sequels planned for the future?

Amber: Well, I hope to edit and publish Forget Me Not next. I also hope to write a companion short story and another sequel. We shall see! And that’s just the immediate future – who knows what stories might capture my imagination after that, Lord willing? :)

I will absolutely look forward to Forget Me Not someday. Will be interesting to see Joe as sweet. Provided you don't completely change him from your original plan, of course. And I'd love more of Myghal's story! (hint hint) 

Thank you so much for answering these questions, Amber! This was fun! :)

My pleasure! Thank you for letting me chat with you about my book!

About the Author

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.

About the Book

Bleeding Heart
Goodreads :: Amazon :: Book Website

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.

I was quite impressed with Ms. Stokes' writing. Especially for a first novel! :) The descriptions of the way people lived during the late 1800s drew me in and felt well researched. I could easily picture what was going on and where people were. Life was hard back then. It hasn't been kind to most of these characters really. And their individual and collective journey's will take them all to places they had never imagined.

With heartbreak and pain, this is not a happy, sunshiney story. These characters have to endure a great deal to reach any semblance of a happy ending. And even then, I'm not sure I would call it a typical "happy ending" because while there's certainly happiness there (yay!), there is still heartache to get beyond. I had the sense that these characters had lots more hard work ahead, but it would be worth it for them. And those two lovebirds were awful cute with one another! At least once they got their act together and realized how they felt. But I should note it doesn't truly develop until close to the end. And much of the development is left up to your imagination.

I also thought the point of view changes worked pretty well. The reader gets just enough perspective to make them understand why this or that character is acting this way. As for the characters themselves....

Joe and Sally circle one another, by turns tender and harsh. Sally has become pretty bitter and skittish; she longs to be loved, yet doesn't really know what to do with it when it shows up. Joe is confused and raw, yet desires love deep inside even while he refuses to admit to it. Myghal steals your heart with his gentleness and sweetness, yet hides a hurt within. Zachary uses gruffness to try and hide his kind and gentle ways. Seth's grief almost drags him down until he gets a wake up call that shakes him out of his stupor. As for the main antagonist, he doesn't deserve to be talked about! At all. In short, the characters are where Ms. Stokes' writing shines! They feel real and leap off the page, drawing you into caring about them.

I do have to admit that portions of the story moved a little fast for me. The characters travel around quite a bit, and just when I'd get settled into where they were now, they up and left again. This caused me to be unable to stay emotionally involved the whole time. One particular plotline ended so quickly, then we get a time jump immediately after. I wished that character had gotten a little better closure than they ended up with. For the amount of time spent with them prior to that scene, it felt cut short a little too abruptly for me. (I was reading an ARC, so maybe this has been changed in the final edits.) The other thing I wanted more of was Myghal! I loved him immediately and want more details about him! I'm hoping we'll get more of his story some day in the future. He so deserves more page time. He was definitely my favorite character. Well, maybe that title should be split between him and Zachary. I liked Zachary a lot too! ;)

So. While there were a few rough parts, overall the writing shines and made me fall in love with it! It convinced me to look forward to what she may write in the future. I've a very good feeling she'll only get better with time! :D I definitely recommend this book. It deserves to be read and enjoyed!

**I received a complimentary e-ARC from the author in exchange for my honest review. (Thanks Amber! :)

But whatever the man's motives, he held out hope in all its shining glory, and Joe lacked the heart to resist.

It was as if he was now a warm, fresh loaf of bread, instead of the nebulous, sad mass of dough he had been.

The door to his heart stood wide open, and Sally was dancing him out of the shadows.

As he drew out a high note, he thought of how they both were healing, blossomin' like two stems of a lupine plant reaching their petals out to each other and up to the sunny sky.

"You misjudge me, Miss Clay. I'm a cook. I don't break things; I make things for people to enjoy."


“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.

a Rafflecopter giveaway


  1. Good morning, y'all! Great to see this, today. Conversations between the both of you seem to always be fun :) Good friends. And excellent questions, Kara! It's very clear that you carefully thought about them.

    Everything about Bleeding Heart is lovely, the characters, the setting. So good to learn more about them. And yes! I absolutely agree with your choices of five things you can't live without, Amber!

    Forget Me Not is intriguing me more and more... Hmmm. Way to pique our curiosities, Amber :)

    Thanks for sharing this!

    1. And the review is very accurate! Good job. Kara! I agree with you. Especially on the idea of Myghal getting a story!!

    2. Awww! Good friends, indeed - that's what you all have been to me! :)

      Thanks so much for the kind words! And I'm really eager to start editing Forget Me Not...I know there are some things I need to change, but the basic storyline should stay the same. :) I'm glad I could intrigue you! ;)


      P.S. Gotta love Myghal! I definitely hope to give him his own story. :D

    3. Thanks Ganise! :) I'm really looking forward to Forget Me Not as well! The little that Amber has shared just has me more and more intrigued and curious! :D

      Yay Amber! Can't wait for more Myghal! :D By the way, how do you say his name?

    4. So glad you all are intrigued by Forget My Not! Thought maybe since it's a prequel and you know where some of the characters end up in book 2, it might not seem as interesting... But I do hope that knowing some of the end results won't ruin the journey. :)

      As for Myghal, I believe the proper pronunciation is "Ma-hail" - but I've always thought of him as "Me-gall," hence the reason I have the characters call him by his butchered, "American" name. ;)

      Here's a link for the name: Cornish First Names


  2. I loved getting so much background on the book in this interview, and the review was very well written--great job, Kara and Amber! :) I am so excited about Amber's future projects!!!

    1. Thank you so much for your support, Rebeka! And thank you once again for the inspiration to make one of those future projects about Zachary. :) It's fun to see that Kara liked him, too!


    2. You and me both, Rebeka! I know Amber will only get more amazing as a writer. Could tell immediately upon starting her story. She's definitely quite talented! :)

      You liked Myghal and Zachary too?! Aren't they the sweetest men? I really wanted more of both, which means we'll get lots more stories from Amber. Pretty please! ;D

      Amber, I will definitely cheer you on all the time via twitter if that means I get more Zachary! And Myghal! You just let me know what you need, okay? ;P

    3. Awww, Kara! I'd love to share lots more stories with ya'll! ;) And I'd totally appreciate the continued encouraging tweets - thanks so much! ;D


  3. Kara, thank you so much for allowing me to share more about Bleeding Heart here on your lovely blog through that fun interview! I'm glad you like the soundtrack and found that song fitting where I placed it. :)

    And thank you for your very thoughtful review!! I appreciate your honest feedback. I'm thrilled you liked the characters - they're very dear to me, as you can imagine. :)



    1. This interview was so much fun, Amber! I'm so happy that I got to be a part of all this awesomeness with you! :D

      I really did enjoy your story. I hope that was apparent in my review. It held me riveted to my seat. Of course that was helped by the fact I was in an airplane, but still. I would have been riveted regardless! ;)

      I was truly impressed with your writing ability, and I know that you'll only get better as you write more and more. You have a wonderful gift, my friend! Don't ever give up. I will gladly read whatever you write! :D

    2. Thank you, thank you, my friend, for all the kind words!! I'm blessed by such supportive readers and blogging friends! Thank you for helping me to follow my dreams! :)


  4. Wonderful review, Kara. Like we've discussed before, I loved the honesty in this review - it's the top rule to book reviewing. :)

    I noticed all the travelling involved in the plot also and I would agree that perhaps there should have been a bit less. That being said, I didn't mind the time spans as it lends more authenticity to the romantic relationships - the longer the time frame, the more believable the realism in the relationships are. Bleeding Heart is a lovely novel and I suspect that it'll be one I'll like even better the second time through (especially given that I did have to put it aside a couple times to meet deadlines). That to me, is the best kind of book.

    Hope things are going well for you, Kara. :)

    1. I so agree, Rissi - honesty is so important in a book review! How can you trust when a book reviewer recommends something if they aren't honest about their thoughts, you know?

      I appreciate both of your perspectives on the plot. :) I hope there was an "epic" feel and that the traveling was interesting to read about on some level - I guess I want to try to keep things interesting for me as a writer and reader. ;)

      I'm so honored you would be willing to read Bleeding Heart again! I hope the second-time around can be with the paperback version - or at least the final Kindle version - so it might be a little bit smoother of a reading experience. :)



    2. You make a good point, Rissi. Without the time jumps, the development of the love story would feel much more rushed. That's very true, now that I think about it! :)

      I do hope I didn't come across as not liking the story though. Because I really did! It was very hard to put down and I was happy to have several hours available to simply sit and read it all in one go. I wanted to be honest though and not just gush about it simply because I think Amber is awesome herself (which she is! ;). I just edited my review actually, so that it would be a little more clear that I loved the story a lot!

      I definitely want to reread it again. I'm sure there were things I couldn't remember while writing this review. And it's worthy a second read anyway! :D

      Today brought some happy things, so I'm doing pretty great at the moment! Thanks for thinking of me. :)

    3. Amber, I really did like your story! I'm not just saying that either. It made me want to keep reading to find out what would happen. I think you have an amazing talent for writing. Really mean that! I apologize if my review seemed a little harsh. I actually just edited it to note that some of the parts that bothered me could have been changed some in the final edits, so I hope I don't discourage anyone from reading it. I would feel terrible if that happened! :/

      As Rissi said, the time jumps make the relationships feel much more real. She has an excellent point. And the traveling only bothered me in the moments that I wanted more details about a scene and that just means that you had me invested in the details and scenery and the places themselves! :) I actually felt like the towns were as important as the characters, I could really picture Virginia City. Does that make sense?

      What I mean is, I'm really glad I read your book!

    4. I just want to give you a great big hug right now, Kara! I totally know what you mean - it's so hard as a reviewer sometimes to know how your words will come across, and it's not always easy to convey all your feelings! But I definitely appreciate your honest review, and you balanced it with great encouragement. :D I know I'm a short-winded writer, and that's not always a good thing! I tell myself that it means my writing is focused and not boring (i.e.: rambling), but I do realize it means I skim over things and jump around a bit, LOL. :P You made some very valid points, and I believe my editor would have liked a bit more detail, as well. I think my writing is more atmospheric and character-driven, focusing on the emotions and "feel" of the settings, if that makes sense. Again, I totally realize that there is room for exploring more and growing in my writing. :) I'm glad you felt that about the towns, that they were their own sort of characters, too!

      Thank you again for all of your thoughtfulness and kindness! Please don't feel like you have anything to apologize for, because you have no reason to at all! I'm just blessed that you all were willing to read it and didn't hate it for the darker aspects and plot twists. :P Wasn't quite sure how that would go down, LOL!


    5. I'm glad you understood what I was trying to say, Amber. It can certainly be kind of hard to know if I'm getting my point across exactly like I mean to.

      "atmospheric and character-driven" I can definitely agree with those descriptors! That's an excellent way to describe your writing. Your characters felt real in that they struggled to decide exactly how they did feel about themselves and their situations. Real people's feelings are complicated and you showed that well.

      I admit, if I found your book on the shelf it may not have enticed me to read it immediately. But since it was yours, I did read it and I am so, so happy I did! The "darker aspects and plot twists" didn't actually bother me at all. :D This may be a good lesson for me not to judge based on what I "think" I will enjoy.

      So I'll stop apologizing and just say how very glad I am to have read this story and I will absolutely be looking forward to Forget Me Not. And any future stories too!! ;D

  5. Awesome Kara! I love the review, and the interview!!! Amber, I am lovin your blog tour so far! :o D

    God bless both of you --- all of you! :o )

    1. I'm so glad you're having fun with the blog tour so far, Ysa! There's plenty more to come! :)

      God bless you, too!


    2. Thanks, Ysa! I had a lot of fun with this interview. And of course Amber is beyond wonderful to work with! This past week and a half are very exciting! Thanks so much for stopping by. :D

  6. Great review and interview, Kara! I love hearing about Bleeding Heart and Forget Me Not!

    1. Aren't Kara's blog and words lovely? :) I'm so glad you enjoy hearing about BH and FMN, as I know I talk about them a lot, LOL!

      I actually just put together a site for Forget Me Not - to be added to in the next few months. :) You can find it HERE, if you're interested!


    2. Thank you, Kate! And Amber too! Y'all are very sweet. :) And I can't wait for Forget Me Not myself!


Thank you so much for visiting my little corner of the internet! :)


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