FAQs

When did you start writing? Did you always want to become a novelist?
  • I won't claim I was born with a pen in my hand, but I have loved writing for most of my life. I think it was around 7th or 8th grade when I decided I really wanted to write a novel. My first story attempts involved my love life - or what I hoped my love life would be (written as fiction and not a memoir, of course). *wink* As you can imagine, I am very grateful I moved on from that phase of my life, LOL! But I am still writing romance...
How did you decide the plot for your novel?
  • Bleeding Heart is actually the sequel to my first completed manuscript, Forget Me Not. When I finished writing Forget Me Not and contemplated what to work on next, I knew I wasn't ready to leave behind all of the characters that had claimed my heart. So I gave some secondary characters a new story. The setting that I loved so much - Virginia City, Nevada - still had to play a role, but I also decided to include another setting a little closer to home - Falk, California. Falk no longer exists, but walking along a trail that goes through where the town used to be sparked my imagination and made me curious about the town that once was. As for the plot taking place in those settings and with those characters, I had a general theme and direction when I chose the title. I decided I wanted to explore different definitions of love... The way everything came together, though, kind of happened as I went along. I plot some things (not often on paper - more in my mind), but I am a bit of a "pantser" (i.e.: "writing by the seat of my pants"). 
Was there anything in particular that inspired you to write Bleeding Heart?
  • As I noted above, Bleeding Heart is a sequel, so you could say that the characters from my first manuscript inspired me to write another story. The settings, too, inspired me: I wasn't ready to conclude my time escaping to Virginia City's past, and Falk presented itself as an intriguing place to explore through fiction. I'm not sure I can say there was one particular thing that inspired me. But I was inspired by many other generals: my dad's feedback for Forget Me Not, my desire to explore different definitions of love, and an urge to work through some of my own uncertainties regarding heartbreak and hope beyond it.
Why did you pick the 1800s? Have you always held an interest in this era?
  • To answer the second question first - yes, I have had an interest in this era for a long, long time! Not exactly sure when it started, but the 19th-century American West is one of my favorite eras to write and to read about. I picked the 1800s as the era for Bleeding Heart long before I started writing it, as it was the era I chose for its prequel, Forget Me Not. I've been to Reno, Nevada on numerous occasions, and I believe it was on one of those occasions (probably when I was in high school) that we visited Virginia City (probably not for the first time) and I became intrigued by the town and its history. A story idea sort of hit me, and over the course of several years I worked on that story of my heart. Virginia City continues to fascinate me (I should also add that I'm a big fan of the show Bonanza), as does everything else about the West during that time. It was an era full of change and adventure. It's romanticized, surely, but the stark reality - the hardships, the dangers, the high tensions - in contrast with the big dreams have completely captured my imagination.
How much research did you have to do for this novel?
  • It's a little difficult to calculate, to be honest! I suppose it started with me visiting Virginia City. Then I decided to do my IB extended essay on Virginia City in high school - not only did I have a passion for the topic, but it was also research for my novel, which worked great! So I did some research at the Humboldt State University library, and my family and I also returned to Virginia City (because "it's fun, and educational!") that summer. I visited museums, talked to some of the people who lived there and knew the history, walked through cemeteries, etc. Even after I finished my essay, we went back the next couple of summers for visits, and each time I learned a little more. Going to museums is one of my favorite methods of research, and one of my favorite museums is the High Desert Museum near Bend, Oregon. There's also a little museum at the Samoa Cookhouse in Humboldt County that has some neat information about the logging industry in this county. Other than visiting museums and historical sites, I guess I mostly just look up specific questions I might have online. (Yay for the Internet, LOL!) And for Bleeding Heart, I read Falk's Claim: The Life and Death of a Redwood Lumber Town by Jon Humboldt Gates before diving into edits. I found a copy at the visitor center at Prairie Creek Redwoods State Park, and I'm so glad I did! It was really interesting and super helpful. 
How long did it take you to finish your novel?
  • About two years, I believe. I started writing it shortly after I finished writing Forget Me Not. (I'm not quite sure exactly how long it took me to write Forget Me Not - it was off and on for several years.) I went through spurts of writing, so it's possible it wouldn't take me that long in the future if I would really sit down and focus more often! Actually, doing Speedbo (a writing challenge hosted by the Seekerville blog) was what helped me finally finish the first draft this past March. It's not an overly long book (about 50,000 words), but still long enough to qualify for a novel. *smile*
What is your favorite part of the writing process? What is your least favorite?
  • To be honest, I'm not quite sure! When I finished my first novel, I didn't even want to think of editing, and I never really made any steps to apply the very helpful edits I received for the book. But after getting feedback on Bleeding Heart from my editor, Elizabeth Ludwig, I felt ready to try to make the story better. I actually ended up enjoying editing a lot more than I thought I would! I guess there are things I like and don't like about each step of the process. I love daydreaming - thinking about the story, feeling the characters' emotions, and also finding facts during my research that I'm excited to incorporate. Actually writing scenes for the first time has to be a favorite, too - love seeing the story come together! However, it can be a struggle to make time for writing, and it can be disheartening when you feel like you're not making any real progress. As far as editing goes, facing them can be painful and can seem overly scary, but seeing the potential and watching your story start to shine with the changes - that's a special experience. 
Do you plan on writing solely historical fiction, or will you write other genres?
  • That's a great question! I know you have to be careful when it comes to "branding." Some authors opt to take on a new pseudonym so that they don't disappoint readers who come to expect a certain type of story from them. I'll probably stick with historical fiction for a while, but that certainly doesn't mean I won't write anything else! You can find links to some of my short stories and poems that aren't all historical in nature on the "About Me" page on my blog. And I can say that I've contemplated writing some other shorter pieces that aren't historical, including a fantasy novella. I'm not sure if anything will ever come of it, though, so we'll see!
How much input did you have in the design of your cover?
  • A lot, actually! Lena Goldfinch (of Stone Lily Publishing & Design Services) and I worked together throughout the whole process. She did the actual work, of course, but she accepted and solicited my input on pretty much every part of the process, down to the smallest details. I got to choose the model image and the background picture, and Lena also let me be nitpicky if I noticed something I wanted changed. But she gets all the credit for putting together such a beautiful design! If you're interested, you can learn more about the cover design process in this post.
Why did you decide to self-publish?
  • For many reasons. As an independent business owner (Editing Through the Seasons) and a "long-time" blogger, I've discovered how much I love being able to be in charge of the details. With self-publishing, I got to choose who edited my book, who did the cover design, etc., and I get to be in charge of how the book is distributed and how it will be marketed. I can create my own brand and work on my own schedule - which also means that I don't have to wait to go through the very long process of querying, getting an agent, etc. At the same time, I do realize that self-publishing has its drawbacks, and traditional publishing opens up doors that self-publishing cannot. So that's why one of my other reasons for self-publishing comes into play: Bleeding Heart has some plot elements that might not be readily accepted by traditional publishers. I can't go into too much detail without giving spoilers, but suffice it to say that I'm taking some risks in sharing the story as it is. My editor even noted some concern of its acceptance should I seek the traditional publishing route. But changing a certain plot element would change the entire story, and I'm not willing to do that. I understand it might not go over well with all reviewers, but it is my hope that the story might bless some in its present form - unflinching and heartbreaking, but ultimately hopeful.
When will the book be available? Will it only be available as an e-book?
What's next?
If you have any other questions about Bleeding Heart, my writing experience, upcoming projects, etc., please leave a comment! I'd be happy to post your questions - along with my responses - on this page for others to read. I appreciate your interest!

(If you have questions about the story that might include spoilers, please join me on the Discussion page, where we can chat freely about the plot!)

14 comments:

  1. How much research did you have to do for this novel? I've always loved historical fiction, and I want to try and appreciate how much work goes into a novel. :)

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  2. When did you start writing? Did you always want to become a novelist?

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  3. How did you decide the plot for your novel? And why did you decide to self-publish?

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  4. When will be book be available? Will it be an ebook only, print book. or both?

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  5. Appreciate the questions, Stacy, Sarah, Ariel, and Pam! Will be adding them to this page and responding to them soon! :)

    ~Amber

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  6. Why did you pick the 1800's? Have you always held an interest in this era?

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  7. Do you plan on writing solely historical fiction or will you write other genres?

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  8. What interests you about this period of history?

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  9. Did you have any input on your cover, Amber?

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  10. Thank you for the questions, J.M., Beth, Sandra, and Beth V.! I've now got my responses up on this page. :)

    ~Amber

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  11. What is your favorite part of the writing process (researching, rough draft, editing, re-writing, etc.)? What is your least favorite?

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  12. Was there anything in particular that inspired you to write 'Bleeding Heart'?

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  13. Thank you, revred8 and Katelyn, for the questions! Will include them (and my responses) on this page soon. :)

    ~Amber

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  14. OK, I think I've caught up with the questions resulting from the Rafflecopter cover reveal giveaway! Thanks again to everyone who expressed interest in learning more about my writing journey. :)

    ~Amber

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