Thursday, November 7, 2013

Amber here! I was excited when, a while back, my fellow BB’ers agreed to spotlight me and my debut, Bleeding Heart, this week. Unfortunately, a combination of my procrastination and some really hard things in my life right now led to a recycled guest post and a last-minute Q&A (hence the reason I’m posting this instead of Yvonne). I just wanted to give you a heads up on that – and to thank the rest of the BB team for being so patient with me and still helping me to share my book with you! I’m honored by this chance to introduce myself to our readers and to share some of my thoughts on the life of a writer.

Do you write full time, or do you work it in alongside a full-time job?

Ummm… I wouldn’t say I write full time, but neither do I have a full-time job, per se. I’m in an interesting season of my life. I graduated with my bachelor’s degree from Corban University about a year and a half ago, and since then I’ve started a freelance editing & publicity business (Editing Through the Seasons), which I’ve been cultivating in addition to pursuing self-publishing and blogging here and at Seasons of Humility. So, I guess you could say that right now the book business, in general, is my full-time job. (There’s not a whole lot of money in it at this point, but I’m blessed by this opportunity to pursue my dreams while being with my family.)

Do you write every day? What does your typical writing day look like?

So far in my writing career…that would be a “no.” Well, at least as far as working on my novels! But I suppose I do write something pretty much every day, even if it’s just e-mails or blog posts. (That should count, right?)

My novel writing, though, has been rather sporadic. It took me years to complete the first draft of Forget Me Not, and it took me a couple of years to complete the first draft of Bleeding Heart. (As I’m getting ready to do rewrites/edits for Forget Me Not, I’m hoping I can be a little quicker with this stage, LOL!) I kind of go through seasons where I focus on the novel writing, though, and then it can be between a few hundred and maybe a thousand or more words a day. I don’t generally write a whole lot at a time – usually just a scene or two. It feels good, though, to celebrate the small accomplishments, and having accountability (either by having someone read as I go along, like my dear friend Amanda Stanley did for Forget Me Not, or by doing #1K1Hr “competitions” with writer buddies on Twitter) certainly helps! I’m hoping that I can now take more time to focus since I’ve published my debut and have launched my writing career. Since I’m self-published, I don’t have deadlines imposed on me by a publishing house, but there is the pressure of getting more books out there to my readers in a timely fashion!

Have you ever had a funny experience connected with being an author? For instance, has someone ever overheard you discussing the merits of one murder weapon over another or caught you shooting at a can of gasoline to see if you could make it explode?

Well, I’ve had some interesting talks with Gary Teel of TNT Stagelines… I remember asking some silly questions when I was working on the first draft of Forget Me Not (releasing Winter 2014) and an essay on Virginia City, such as, “How long were stagecoaches around?” To which he answered something to the effect of “I’m still using one!” LOL.

Also, my excitement over the “Sin in the Sagebrush” exhibit at the High Desert Museum a few years back might have come across as a little strange. I doubt there were many others taking notes about gambling and prostitution back in the day. *wink*

Are you a plotter, a pantser, or a combination?

I suppose I’m sort of a combination… You can call me a pantser-plotter, heavy on the pantser! I do like to have a general idea of the theme and the basic storyline before I start or as I’m starting, as well as the title. I might write down a few ideas or daydream about/ponder the story. But really, I’m pretty much a pantser (i.e.: writing by the seat of my pants). A lot of the details and scenes come as I’m writing. For Bleeding Heart, I had the title and some characters already in place as I started writing. I think my desire to explore different definitions of love came early on in the writing stages. But I believe even I was unsure for a while who my heroine was going to end up with and where things would go after I reached and passed the big plot twist. Really, so much of it comes together over time, as the story unfolds in its seasons.

How do you get your best ideas?

I like to think my writing is atmospheric (I hope readers would agree!), and I’m inspired by the places I’ve been – the beauty of nature, the history of a town, that hint of mystery and enchantment in the air. And the little things – like the name of a flower, verses from the Bible, an emotion or glimmer of a theme I want to explore – can easily send me off on a writing journey.

What’s your favorite method for keeping a story’s middle from sagging?

The thing is, my stories aren’t very long. My short stories are generally quite short, and my novels are at the lower end of novel word-count range. I guess you could say I’m short-winded…but I like to think that I write what needs to be said and leave it at that. *wink*

All that to say, at this point in my writing career, I don’t like to add word count just for the sake of adding word count, as long as I’m at a decent number. I don’t want any scene to be sagging – or distracting from the message and direction of the story as a whole. And I guess part of that is that I only write the scenes that I’m interested in writing, you know?

So one way to keep the middle from sagging is to have each scene be important. Each scene moves the story and characters along, and so the journey continues from page one until the last word. I’m sort of in love with the “journey” idea really – and so far I’ve incorporated that in my historical romances by taking the characters on physical journeys that emphasize the emotional journeys. I love making my characters travel, and I think the exploratory elements make a story exciting throughout.

And here’s a quote from Dr. Seuss I found on Pinterest that goes along with my philosophy:

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.

You can connect with Amber on her personal blog (Seasons of Humility), Twitter, Pinterest, Goodreads, Shelfari, and LinkedIn. You can also learn more about her books at and

Don't forget to stop by tomorrow to enter to win a free Kindle copy of Amber’s debut, Bleeding Heart!


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