Amber Thielman-Adult & Young Adult Romance Author & Lover of Words: Ask Me Anything!

Guys! I’m hosting a . You can post your question here: And while you’re at it, please enter the contest and sign up for my newsletter to win a FREE ARC of Capture Me.

Something To Be

I haven’t posted here in a while, so I figured an update might not be too bad, for those who care.

Things are pretty good for the most part. For the last few months, I’d been insanely busy working from home as a manager for a ghostwriting company. I loved my job, even though they paid me shit, and I was excited to see it take off. I loved the clients and the team and I learned a lot while I worked there. A couple of weeks ago I had to get a second work-from-home job as an assistant (essentially doing the same thing I was doing for my first company) just to supplement my income. I enjoyed both jobs and did them both well until my first company up and fired me for taking the second job. (They didn’t say that was the reason, per say, but the timing was awfully convenient.)

These things happen, I suppose, and I was pretty torn up about it until I got on my computer the next day to NOT work and ended up writing 10k words on my own WIP in two days. It was exhilarating, and enforced the belief that everything happens for a reason.

There hasn’t been much news one way or the other on my novels; one agent that had both of my drafts when MIA, like, 10 months ago. No joke. A few agents have some drafts, some fulls, and some partials. It’s a lot of the same stuff that comes back, as it has for years . . .

“Loved it, but…”

“The premise is amazing, but…”

“You have such talent, but…”

“I already represent a book like this, so…”

And on and on. Some feedback is helpful, some isn’t, but that’s the nature of the business and every writer/aspiring author feels the exact same way.

So, I’m keeping myself busy trying to finish this WIP of mine, Ladder One. It’s a favorite premise of mine, personally, and was inspired by some of my (very minimal) experiences here in Pocatello. Here’s a blurb, just to get you excited:

Becoming the first female firefighter in a small-town, conservative fire department full of egotistical men should be something to be proud of, but Hallie has never felt so rejected. The men don’t want her there, and neither does anyone else. With the taunts, harassment, and dangerous situations she keeps finding herself in, sometimes quitting sounds like the only way out. It’s even harder when the townspeople themselves see her as a hussy for wanting to do a man’s job.

Fortunately, Hallie has someone on her side: their captain, Tate Becker. Handsome, kind, and charming, Hallie isn’t sure she’d make it there without Tate’s support, especially when her fiancé Jeremy doesn’t even want to hear about her day.

As Hallie fights for acceptance into this testosterone-riddled, tight-knit crew—all while defending her reputation to the town and her to own family–she finds that the only person she wants to be around anymore is Tate. Too bad she’s engaged, and he’s dating another department’s jealous paramedic.

When Hallie is nearly killed during a rescue mission, Tate isn’t the only one who starts to see Hallie as much more than just an intrusive female in their all-boys club. Just as she’s starting to fit in, the squad finds that a hidden arsonist is responsible for these treacherous fires they keep responding to—and it’s possibly one of their very own.

Hallie is framed, and trust begins to shatter. Someone wants her gone, and they’re making it clear. Proving her innocence and getting her crew to trust her again means finding the real culprit, even if it kills her.

Fire isn’t the only thing heating up this department, and time is running out; possibly for all of them.

So it’s a romance, because a good romance book is my jam, and it should be a great read by the time it’s polished up pretty. Here’s an excerpt that you’re welcome to skip over if you just don’t care (I won’t be offended, promise):

All I could see was darkness. A black hole that enveloped me, dragged me in. Smoke was everywhere, a dank, murky smoke that blended with the dark walls and consumed the space around me. Orange flames flickered from above and below, licking the ashy surface of what once was a hardwood floor.

      I closed my eyes and took a deep breath, allowing the vent of the oxygen to reassure me. Every step had to count, because any step could be the last one I took.

      The steps groaned and creaked below my feet, smoke slithering around my feet and ankles, a mere warning for what was to come. The first floor was clear of flames, but the rest of the building wasn’t. The higher up I climbed, the thicker the smoke became.

      Tate’s voice came over the radio as I planted my step firmly on the second floor. One hand gripped the rickety handrail, the other reaching out in front of me to feel my way across the floor. I could only tread lightly, carefully, and not rush; rushing across this floor could mean a collapse that would likely kill me and send down any other firefighter relying on the burning floor to keep them alive.

      “Hallie, do you copy?” Tate’s voice was garbled, tone blended with the static of the radio.

      “I’m here,” I said, my words coming in out in what felt like no more than a whisper.

      “I want you—turn-aroun—come back—o . . . do you copy?”

      “Sorry, sir, you’re breaking up.”

      “Hal–,”

      I couldn’t turn back, not now, not when I was already here. Somewhere in the building, I could hear someone’s distress alarm beeping. My heart caught in my throat, knowing that however long that alarm had been going off equated to however long one of my crew had been down. It seemed to be coming from another floor up, maybe two.

      Taking another steadying breath, I made my way across the floor, carefully avoiding the growing areas of flames creeping up the walls. Through the black smoke, I felt around for the second stairwell and found the first step, hesitating for a moment to make sure it hadn’t burned through yet. The higher I climbed, the more possibility of damage that—in a single collapse—could efficiently bring the entire building down on top of us.

      I was halfway up the stairs when the beeping grew louder. I was getting close, hopefully, close enough that I could get those men out of there in time . . . if I wasn’t already too late.

      The steps groaned beneath my weight, shifting a bit with each step I took. I had both hands braced on either side of the railing, praying to whatever higher power there was that we would all make it out of here alive.

      “Kyle?” I shouted. My voice seemed engulfed by the smoke, as though the fire in the building was actively resisting my mission to save my people. “Porter?”

      There was no response, nothing but the frantic beep of the emergency device. I took another step, and somewhere near me, the sharp, horrifying sound of splintering wood reached my ears. I stopped where I was, catching my breath, eyes squeezed shut, waiting for the inevitable collapse.

      It didn’t come.

      “Jesus,” I breathed. It took me another couple of seconds to settle my racing heart, but I knew I couldn’t stand there for long. If I didn’t find Kyle and Porter and get us the hell out of that building, we’d all die soon. There was no escaping it.

      “Kyle,” I called again. “It’s Hallie. Can you hear me?” I took another step, and then another. My hands gripped the railings with desperate terror, but it didn’t matter what I was holding; if the building went down, no railing would save my life.

      One more step and I was there, standing unsteadily at the top of the third floor. There was no seeing through the smoke, but the flames had nearly engulfed the entire third floor. And there, lying in the middle of flames, either dead or unconscious, was Kyle.

      My first reaction was to rush to his side, but if there was ever a time to take it slow, it was now. The flames were growing, gnawing through the wood floors with unrelenting wrath. We were closer to the danger zone that I had been any moment before this one. Above us, the flames had already eaten through the floor, and it was then that I realized the floor had given way beneath him. Soon, this floor would collapse too . . . how soon was unknown.

      “Kyle, it’s Harper,” I said, still as a statue. “Can you hear me?”

      There was no response or movement. I’d have to risk putting my own weight next to his and simply hope and pray that the floor wouldn’t give way and send us falling to our deaths.

      “I should have expected that you would be the result of my inevitable death,” I said out-loud, taking a step towards him. “And here we are, inside a burning building—without Porter, I noticed—and your ass is being saved by the one person you simply can’t stand. Oh, the irony.”

      Wood cracked beneath me. I stopped, breath catching in my throat. When it didn’t give way immediately, I continued, dodging flames while trying to see through the black smoke that wrapped me in a suffocating cocoon.

      “Kyle, please don’t die,” I said, lowering myself next to his still body. “I know we’re not best friends, but I could use a morale boost at work.” My hands shook as I gently rolled him over, onto his back. For a split second of utter terror, I was sure he was dead, and that I was too late. Then his eyes flickered open under the mask of his suit, and he stared up at me.

      “It’s about time,” he muttered. Laughing hysterically, I reset his PDA and helped him sit up.

      “Where’s Porter?”

      “He went back to get help,” Kyle said, wincing. “Are you the help?”

      “You can call me Hallie. I thought he was in here with you. Are you hurt?”

      “Would you be hurt if you fell through a floor?”

      “I can make it hurt worse, if that’s what you want,” I snapped. Grunting under his weight, I helped Kyle to his feet. His leg was injured, I didn’t know how badly, but I didn’t have much time to wonder how in the hell we were going to make it safely back down the stairs on his bum leg, because the first step we took set off a series of events that I never in my entire life thought I’d have to face.

      It was the sound of splintering wood that braced me for what was coming next. I knew Kyle heard it, too, because his grip on my shoulder instantly tightened.

      “Hurry,” I breathed, but it was no use. Another crack like a gunshot vibrated through the air, and the floor beneath our feet cracked and splintered. The last thing I saw was the malicious read and orange flames lapping at our feet as the floor gave way beneath us.

Other than that, my little family is doing well. Husband is still working hard to keep us above water, and our darling tiny human just gets cuter every day. We intend to buy a house this year, preferably by this summer, even. That will be nice, I’m pretty tired of renting.

I’ll try to post here more, just for those who are interested.

Be good to each other, guys.

(P.s. here’s a pic of my family in Vegas. Just for something fun.)

20171017_113227

 

Pitch Wars and Other Stuff

So. It’s over. Pitch Wars, I mean. At least, it’s over for the mentees who did not get picked and who are now probably wallowing in their own self-pity. (Maybe that’s just me, I don’t even know.)

I shouldn’t say it’s “over”, because that’s bullshit. I don’t believe there’s such thing as “over” until you throw your computer/pad out and never write again. And if that’s the case, you were probably never a true writer to begin with.

A billion years ago (or, like, 4….I keep trying to bury the memory), I signed with an agent and it was cool. For months we worked on my manuscript until it was ready to go on sub, and then shit hit the fan and it’salongstoryidontevenhavetheenergyrightnow.

So anyway. My point is (yes, there’s a point, shaddup), I can’t stand when Pitch Wars hopefuls act like Pitch Wars is the ONLYTHINGEVER that will get them an agent and get published. Um, nah. Even mentors will tell you that. Over and over and also over again.

 

Keep going. Keep moving. If you’re a true writer, this won’t hinder you for long. Have some wine or a beer, eat lots of chocolate and have sex. Or, you know, whatever people do to feel better.

And get on with it.

Real Word Fiction: Abusive Relationships

I’ve written ten books.

Out of those ten books, I’ve come to find over time that at least half of them involve a protagonist who is struggling in an abusive relationship.

It’s something I never really noticed until lately, and the reason for this is because I have gotten a lot of feedback and critiques from Beta Readers and agents alike. A lot of the feedback looks like this:

“I don’t understand why the MC doesn’t leave this abusive guy. He’s such an asshole.”

“Your character seems stronger than this, why is she staying with him?”

“You make it clear this guy is a jerk, why does your MC stay with him?”

For a long time I took these words and pondered them, gave them deep thought, but then never changed it. People were adamant about it. They hated to see such a strong protagonist struggle with an emotionally and/or physically abusive relationship. WHY WOULD THEY DO THAT? It’s stupid. No one does that, no one stays with someone like that.

But actually, maybe they do.

Writers write what they know. It’s common knowledge. It’s said that in every, single book ever written, part of the writer comes through in their main character. And it’s true. I’m not in an abusive relationship. My husband is probably the coolest, most chill guy I’ve ever met in my life. I’m lucky I ended up with him, because for a while I was going down the wrong path.

But I’ve seen it. I’ve witnessed first-hand abusive, controlling relationships. Some of the darkest moments in my entire life revolve around those times.

I’ve come to find in my critique partner feedback that it’s generally the people whom I know have struggled with those kind of relationships in their own lives—or at least witnessed them—never make those comments. Because they get it. For others, it seems so easy: leave the asshole. Escape. You’re so tough, so get out.

That’s not how it works. Not even a little bit.

I write about these abusive relationships in my books because I know them. I’ve seen them. And honestly? There’s nothing more empowering to me than allowing my protagonist to break free at the end.

That’s the whole point, and sometimes life isn’t all sunshine and rainbows, okay?

Women (and men) in abusive, controlling relationships aren’t in these relationships because they want to be . . . I promise you that. So while you’re reading about a character in a book who’s struggling to escape from this bad relationship with no idea how to do it (or fear, because fear is a huge culprit in abusive relationships), try to understand that most people can’t just “dump” their boyfriend/girlfriend/husband/wife whatever when they’re stuck in this vicious cycle of abuse.

THAT’S why.

THAT’S why I write characters who struggle in these kind of relationships, because that’s real life. Of course their partner is an asshole. That’s the point. Of course they get battered. That’s the point. But getting strong enough to leave, walk away, to say enough is enough . . . that’s the real point. It always has been.

Ignorance is bliss, but the real world certainly isn’t.

 

 

The truth is hard sometimes…

Depression is a scary thing.

Yeah, it really is.

I can guarantee that the majority of us have struggled with depression at some point in our lives. Maybe it was for a few days. Or a week. Maybe a few weeks. Maybe months. Maybe you’re one of those people who struggle with depression on a daily basis; a constant battle between you and yourself. That’s the worst kind, isn’t it? Because then there’s no one to blame but ourselves.

I’m generally a pretty positive person. At least, I try to be. I have an awesome life, if not stressful sometimes for those obvious, everyone-deals-with-it reasons. My husband is amazing. My kid is absolutely phenomenal. We have a cute little home and an income (I mean, kind of, we’re still pinching pennies, but we’re happy.)

We get to travel.

I get to write.

I have friends. Friends I rarely see anymore, but friends nonetheless.

I have a family. Amazing, supportive, awesome family whom I adore.

But some days, man….some days life is hard. Some days all you can do is think about the bad stuff. Being broke. Being tired. Wishing for more. Wanting more. Wondering why you’re not where you want to be. Blaming yourself for not being where you want to be. Facing debt. Feeling insecure.

Some days I imagine that at 26 years old I should be graduated from school and secure in life. That was always a goal of mine, to graduate from college. I love school. Like, I adore school. But when I got into school straight out of high school I failed college. Not once, not even twice, but THREE times. It took a lot of work and dedication to get back into school. This last year or so, I was doing awesome. A’s and B’s, y’all. Every semester. I was 1.5 weeks away from taking the Kaplan Nursing Entrance Exam and I pulled out of school. I withdrew. I dropped my CNA class and ditched my exam.

Why?

I have no idea. That’s the worst part. I have no excuse, no reason for doing that. What I told people was, “I don’t know if nursing is what I want to do.”

Well, gee, Amber….good thing you just worked your ass off to get into the program then, huh?

Yeah, mistakes are rough. Now I have a $1,000 pell grant to pay back before I can go back to school and I’m furious with myself. I brought it on myself, and I hate it. And while it sounds like a stupid thing to say, I think I may have been telling the truth: I don’t want to do nursing. I want to write. I want to be at home with my little boy and I want to write books for the world to enjoy.

Dreams, guys. Keep on keeping with those dreams.

Depression is a scary thing.

But….we’ve got this.