Character Introduction: Raven Clark

Every Tuesday for the next several weeks, I’m going to share a little bit about the novel I’m currently working on. I hope you enjoy getting to know the world and the characters, as much as I’m enjoying telling their story.

Raven is the main character of my currently untitled fantasy novel, that I’m still working on. I found the picture on DeviantArt, and although she doesn’t look exactly like Raven, it’s still pretty close.

Raven is a 20-year-old college student, living with her younger brother and father. Her life is going pretty normally, school almost every day, spending time with her friends and her brother, until one morning she wakes up and finds herself in a completely different world.

Raven is friendly, trusting, and curious, she loves to explore new places. She doesn’t seem to care very much whether or not she gets caught, and loves solving mysteries. I’m really enjoying getting into her head.

A to Z of Me

It’s been  along time since I blogged consistently. A loooong time. I’ve had a bit of a hard time over the last few months, and right now I’m just trying to start over.

Henry Ford put it best when he said, “Failure is simply the opportunity to begin again, this time more intelligently.”

So, this is me, beginning again.

I thought I would introduce myself to everyone with a quick “A to Z of Me.”


A – Amber. That’s my name, after all. When I was a kid, my doctor used to tell me that my parents named me for pine sap.

B – Bananas. I hate them. The texture is what kills me every time. I like the taste, so I usually throw them into a blender with some peanut butter, milk, and protein powder after a workout.

C – Copper. My adorable beagle. She was a rescue from Southside Animal Shelter. We walked in looking for a puppy, but walked out with the only dog that didn’t bark when we walked into the doggy room. It was a dirty, dirty trick.

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Review: The Monuments Men

I was lucky enough to receive advance screening tickets to see THE MONUMENTS MEN in theaters the other day. The movie is based on the true story of the Monuments, Fine Arts, and Archives program that was established in 1943. The men are assigned to a task force meant to rescue art masterpieces from the Nazis and return the art to their owners during World War II.

Unfortunately, some of the owners, of course, are the Jewish men and women that have already been captured by the Nazis. However, the team does its best to return the artwork to the churches, museums, and homes that it has been stolen from.

The men, eventually, find themselves racing against time as the war draws to a close. Hitler had drawn up an order that if he were to die, or if Germany were to fall, the remaining artwork still in possession of the Nazis was to be destroyed, and the Monuments Men refuse to let that happen, risking their lives in the process.

Directed by George Clooney, and starring Clooney, Matt Damon, Bill Murray, John Goodman, Cate Blanchett, Jean Dujardin, Hugh Bonneville, and Bob Balaban, I thought the movie did a great job at balancing the funny and the sad. There were a few times that I’ll admit that I teared up during the movie, but laughed 30 seconds later because of the balance in the script, and the audience in our theater gasped twice during the movie, thanks to a few surprising twists.

I, personally, loved this movie. To be honest, I didn’t think I was going to like it as much as I did, but it was definitely enjoyable and well worth a watch. At the time of my writing this, Rotten Tomatoes has THE MONUMENTS MEN at 31% fresh, but I’d say ignore the critics and go see this movie.

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On Resolutions

I love making New Year’s Resolutions. Even though I tend to break them, every year. On that note…Here are my resolutions for 2014:

  • Write every day.
  • Read two books a week. For a total of at least 100 at the end of the year.
  • Make healthier decisions.
  • Learn something knew every month. January will be knitting. And keep the blog updated with my progress.

Happy New Year!

Introducing: AWAKENINGS by J.E. Shannon

Title: Awakenings
Author: J. E. Shannon
Publisher: Entranced Publishing
Genre: YA paranormal romance
Release Date: July 29th 2013



Evie Shepard awakens to a nightmare. She’s been buried alive and has no idea how or why. As she struggles to remember what happened, she begins to notice changes — heightened senses, as well as increased speed, agility, and strength. And her heart no longer beats. She soon makes a disturbing discovery: she wasn’t buried alive; she was murdered. Somehow, she has come back…and she wants revenge.

Buy Links: Amazon | Kobo | Smashwords

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To celebrate her new release, JE Shannon is giving away a Kindle with an ecopy of Awakenings (US only). One runner-up will win an ecopy of Awakenings (open internationally). You can enter here:

JE_photoAbout the Author:

J. E. Shannon currently lives in Florida, but is a Missouri native. She spends most of her time reading, writing, and taking care of her small child and two crazy dogs. Visit her at

Author Social Media Links:



How to Name Your Characters

You know what I love about writing? Naming characters.

You know what I hate about writing? Naming characters.

It’s both one of my least favorite aspects of creating characters, and one of my favorite aspects of creating characters.

I bring this up because I have changed the name of the younger sister in THE WISDOM OF WILDFLOWERS twice now. She started off as Kelsey. But then, I thought that with her sisters being named after their grandmothers – Charlotte and Adele – that it wasn’t old-fashioned enough. I liked the idea that their parents chose old-fashioned names for all of them. So, I changed her name to Hannah. But that didn’t work for me either, I decided.

See, I wanted something that was kind of old-fashioned, but could be shortened to something that sounded sort of bubbly. To match her personality. And I finally landed on Katelyn. Which, of course, can be shortened to Katie.

When I’m choosing names for my characters, I try to match the name with the personality as much as possible. I know that this isn’t a brand new idea – believe me, I know. But it’s still something that I always find fun and interesting.

But, if you’re stuck and that doesn’t work for you, here are five other ways to name your character:

  • If you know that the character is named after someone, you could think about what name would have been popular when said person was born. You can actually find that information on baby name websites. 
  • Pick a name based on meaning – you can Google anything, just type in something like, “What name means light?” and Google will direct you to various baby name websites that will give you an answer. (I love Google.)
  • Keep in mind the characters age, if this is a contemporary work, then you might check baby name websites and see what is popular for names now. But, also keep in mind that there are names that might be popular now because of movies/books/TV shows that are popular because of those names. If you’re writing a YA novel that features vampires or werewolves, you probably don’t want to name your main character Bella. Just a thought.
  • Think about the character’s parents. If the character’s parents are English professors, like Auden’s in Sarah Dessen’s ALONG FOR THE RIDE, then they might give their child a literary name. Celebrities give their kids weird names all the time. For every Violet, there are 12 Apples, right?
  • Keep in mind where the character is from. If he/she was born in say, China, she probably won’t be named Sarah.

Another thing I do sometimes is write a list of names A-Z, then start all over again. This means that I always have a list of AT LEAST 52 names to borrow from at any given time.

And, remember, if you decide you don’t like the name you’ve given them, it’s pretty easy to change it.

How do you name your characters? Any other tips that I left out?

Thursday’s Children – All About the Firsts

This week, in honor of Rhiann and Kristina’s Like a Virgin – Pitch Contest, the Thursday’s Children theme of sorts is “Getting to Know You”. If you’d like to participate or read some of the other bloggers’ answers, click here.

Don’t forget, if you want to participate in the contest, it is only open to the first 50 entries, and it opens up July 12 at 6 AM EST. (That’s 5 AM CST, 4 AM MST, and 3 AM PST!)

How do you remember your first kiss?

Yikes. I remember being…nervous, for one. I was sort of a late bloomer, I suppose. (Someone recently called me “sheltered” upon meeting me for the first time.) And I thought I was going to be terrible. I was on a date with a guy that I worked at the movie theater with, and pretty much all I remember about it is how nervous I was. Not very exciting for a story, but the truth!

What was your first favorite love song?

I would have to say “Don’t Take the Girl” by Tim McGraw. It’s a tragic love song, but still a love song. And I still love it to this day.

What’s the first thing you do when you begin writing for the day?

Make coffee. Open up Coffitivity and Pandora, put on my super awesome headphones, then read over the last thing I wrote. (I guess that’s more like four or five things. Oops.)

Who’s the first writer who truly inspired you to become a writer?

I would have to say Sarah Dessen. I’ve been writing since I was very young, but reading Sarah Dessen books made me pay more attention to my writing, she made me want to be a better writer.

Did the final revision of your first book have the same first chapter it started with?

Yes. I had always had a very clear idea of what the first chapter was going to be, and it stuck.

For your first book, which came first: major characters, plot, or setting?

The plot definitely came first for THE ROAD HOME. I was listening to some music – country, if you want to know – and these two songs came on, right in a row, that immediate gave me the idea for my book. Setting came after that, and then my characters. However, for THE WISDOM OF WILDFLOWERS, it was the characters.

What’s the first word you want to roll off the tip of someone’s tongue when they think of your writing?

Brilliant! I want people to think my writing was fun to read, creative, well thought out, and well-written. I think brilliant just about sums it up.

(Sorry for the shameless Doctor Who plug. I couldn’t help myself.)

Thursday’s Children: Interactive Storytelling

Every Thursday is Thursday’s Children where we talk about what inspires us as writers. And yesterday, I had a major breakthrough of inspiration. Let me explain:

The Lizzie Bennet Diaries

Lizzie’s first video is an introduction of herself and her family. Picture is from the press release at

Several months ago, I found a YouTube show called The Lizzie Bennet Diaries. A retelling of Pride and Prejudice with Lizzie Bennet as a grad student using her video diaries for her thesis. Sounds simple enough, right? Well, if you only look at it like that, it is. But LBD was so much more than that. First, the characters had their own twitter accounts, we could follow Lizzie, Jane, Charlotte, Darcy, and all of the other cast of characters on twitter as they talked to each other as part of the storyline. We could tweet the characters and they could respond back and favorite our tweets. Second, some of the characters also had their own tumblrs, Pinterests, and even spin-offs of their own diaries.

Of course, the most exciting day as an LBD fan was the day that Darcy and his sister Gigi took Lizzie on a tour of San Francisco. Gigi’s (ok, a crew member, but you know what I mean) updated her twitter account in what seemed like real time with pictures of the tour, so we got to follow along with them.

Ever since then, I’ve wanted to figure out a way to tell a story in an interactive way. I’ve been very interested in transmedia and new media and what all of that involves. So, yesterday, I was talking to Ryan while we were driving somewhere and we were talking about this project that I’ve been working on for years, and I was throwing some ideas off him about how to set up some sort of interactive site that people could visit, that could be part of my story.

He’s a New Media major, and very good at visualizing things, I find that he’s amazing to talk ideas over with sometimes. So, we’re talking, and it suddenly hits me how I can create this world that is semi-interactive. It won’t be quite as involved or cool as LBD, but I’m still pretty excited about it and I can’t wait to see where I can take it.

(Quick sidenote: if you’re a fan of Pride and Prejudice, do yourself a favor and check out LBD by clicking the link up top. It won’t take you to YouTube, it will take you the the website that gives you the whole breakdown and timeline of the story all at once, it makes it so much easier to follow.)

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Five (Current) TV Shows You Should Watch This Summer

So, the first official day of summer was on Friday. Now, let me just say this, I love summer. I’ve loved summer ever since I was a kid. We had a pool that I could spend all day in, I saw a friend from our old neighborhood more often, no school, it was great. Summer is still great, of course, but it’s maybe lost its shine a little bit.

The biggest con about summer? Most of our favorite TV shows aren’t airing. We (we being Ryan and myself) do, however, have TV shows like Warehouse 13, Defiance, and some of my favorite guilty pleasure reality shows. (Food Network Star, HGTV Star, and Master Chef in case you were wondering.)

But what the summer is really for? Binge watching TV shows. Last summer, it was Chuck, Psych, Firefly, and Serenity, the latter of which I know isn’t a TV show, but it goes with Firefly, ok? The summer before that, we watched How I Met Your Mother, The Big Bang Theory, and I think that’s when he started watching Doctor Who. Maybe.

(And yes, a few weeks ago I was talking about how TV is a huge distraction. Will I stop watching? No. I really love TV. I just do.)

Right now, we’re making our way through Star Trek: Voyager, because it’s on hulu. And when I say we, I mean Ryan is making his way through it, while I sort of pay attention because it’s a small apartment and there’s really nowhere else to go. It’s not a bad show, mind you. I’m definitely not saying that! I just had never really planned on watching it.

Anyway, I bring to you my recommendations for the 5 (current) TV shows you should use your summer to binge watch. That is, if you haven’t been watching them already.

Doctor Who

Come on, like you didn’t know this was going to be the first thing I said? First of all, this year is the 50th (!!) anniversary of DW, so the show has a lot of history, and a lot of old episodes that you could be watching, if you felt like it.

So, why should you be watching it? Well, DW has a bit of everything, sci-fi, drama, history, romance, comedy. It’s just great. The premise of the show is about a man called The Doctor who is hundreds of years old and can travel through all of space and time. He travels with companions and goes off on grand adventures. The show is brilliant, and funny, and heartbreaking. If you aren’t quite sold on it yet, try watching “Blink” first, an episode in season 3, and the introduction of the very important monsters, the Weeping Angels.

(I’ll even admit, I was not a fan of the show when Ryan first started watching it, but somewhere along the way, I got into it. Of course, at that time, I hadn’t been around to see all the episodes and had to start from the beginning myself. I ended up watching the whole series last November/December again, even the episodes I had already seen, just because I wanted to see it from the beginning.)

Parks and Recreation

I don’t even know what to say about Parks and Rec except that you should be watching it. The first season is not the best, a lot of people will admit to that, but it gets so much better. So much better. Amy Poehler is fantastic as Leslie Knope, a woman who cares so much about her friends, the city she lives in, and the people that live there. The whole cast is brilliant, actually. Ron Swanson is the best character that ever existed on TV, I think.

Oh, what’s it about, you ask? Well, it’s a mockumentary style show, like The Office, that follows the parks and recreation department of Pawnee, Indiana, primarily Leslie, who is a very optimistic government official working in small-town government.

Also cool? A few months ago, some of the cast was in Indianapolis filming. I missed them, but still pretty cool that they were here.

Orphan Black

Tatiana Maslany for all the awards. That’s what this show is about.

No, it’s not really, of course, but she should really get all of the awards. The show follows a handful of characters played by Maslany, with a focus on Sarah, a woman who isn’t quite on the right side of the law, sees a woman that looks like her commit suicide, and then later finds out that she’s part of some sort of cloning conspiracy, with Maslany playing the other clones, of course. Alison is my favorite clone, and Sarah’s foster brother Felix is one of my favorite characters. Honestly, this show is so, so good, and I can’t wait until it comes back next year.

Game of Thrones

I mean, you know you should be watching GoT, right? HBO just finished airing season three, there’s only ten episodes per season, get to it! There’s so much going on with this show, that I can’t even begin to tell you what it’s about. There’s dragons, murders, royal conspiracies. And lots of gore and nudity, in case that sort of thing bothers you. I mean, I won’t lie, sometimes it bothers me. But the story is so good.

Of course, you could read the books that the show is based off of, too.


So, Elementary is a new show that follows Sherlock Holmes and Watson as they solve various murders. Yes, there is a version on BBC, called Sherlock. Yes, it’s good, and you could watch that too. But. But. This version is pretty great. First of all, it isn’t John Watson, it’s Joan and she is played by Lucy Liu, who is quite perfect in the role. Johnny Lee Miller plays Sherlock and he has just the right amount of cocky attitude to play the thinks-he’s-smarter-than-everyone-else Sherlock. Joan comes into Sherlock’s life as his sober companion, and together they consult for the NYPD on various murders. Joan used to be a surgeon, which ends up helping cases along, and she really isn’t very interested in taking much of Sherlock’s crap.

So, there you have it. Five TV shows that you can binge watch this summer. I almost added on to it, but this post was getting a little long as it was.

Are you planning on watching any of these, or any other shows, this summer? Any recommendations?

Flash Fiction Challenge

Every Friday, Chuck Wendig over at Terribleminds hosts Flash Fiction Friday. This week, or last week, I guess, the challenge was, “ABC Meets XYZ.”

I got Pride & Prejudice meets Ferris Bueller’s Day Off.

First of all, I’m a huge fan of P&P. And, Ferris is pretty good, too, although the boyfriend disagrees with me.

After the jump, I bring to you, “Maybe I Was Wrong.”

(Which I’ll be more than happy to admit that I’m totally nervous about. I’m not so sure that I love it, but I promised myself that I would post it regardless.)

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