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Star Wars, ALS, and Ice Bucket Challenges Worth Watching

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Yes, even R2D2 is getting in on the action.

But before I go any further, I’m just going to put this link up right yonder: (because let’s face it, donating is far more impressive than dousing yourself in cold water).

And actually, before I even step into the realm of discussing the ice bucket challenge, let’s talk about the less entertaining side of this whole shebang. Let’s talk about ALS. It’s a horrifyingly awful disease that attacks nerve cells controlling motor function – specifically nerves controlling voluntary motor functions, such as walking, speaking, and even potentially breathing. ALS sufferers remain completely cognitively aware as their bodies deteriorate and eventually fail. It’s one of those diseases that ranks up there with Huntington’s and Alzheimer’s – absolutely terrifying.

The Ice Bucket Challenge exists to create awareness and generate donations to help fight ALS. I’ll admit it. The cynic in me turned her nose up at the idea. It’s classic slacktivism, or lazy activism, at its best. I became further frustrated when I started seeing #IceBucketChallenge pop up on my feeds with no mention of ALS at all. It’s a freaking fad, screamed angry inner-monologue Amber – one that began by challenging people to dump the ice and donate $10, or fail to do so and donate $100. The water wasn’t supposed to be in lieu of donations.

But then something beautiful happened. Videos of ALS patients taking on the challenge began cropping up. I saw gratitude. I saw courage. I saw the face of the campaign, and they weren’t cynical or frustrated or disillusioned. I saw smiles and laughter and I cried like the giant, hormonal pregnant woman that I am. It completely changed my perspective.

Yes, this is a fad. Yes, it will likely die out soon. No, it’s not meaningless slacktivism. The Ice Bucket Challenge has raised more than $40 million for this cause. It has spread awareness. But even more than that, it’s spread hope.

I began this post with a silly video, in keeping the spirit of the blog, but I want to end it with the only ones that have had any impact on me. I don’t care to watch celebrities get drenched, and I’ll be honest, I scroll right past all the videos on my feeds of family/friends. These are the videos I care to see.


Dreaming of Deadpool


Chances are the above video has already been pulled by the time you get a glimpse at this. If so, do yourself a favor (if you haven’t already) and search for the “leaked” Deadpool test footage. Are you smiling yet? ‘Cause I sure as heck am.

Now die a little inside with the knowledge that this is probably as close to an actual Deadpool film as we’re going to get for the next decade. Why? Because 20th Century Fox – and Hollywood in general, for that matter – is not willing to release a hard R superhero flick, regardless of the overwhelming number of nerds (myself among them) begging for this thing to go into production.  (And, no, it is has not actually been green lit yet. This test footage was created in 2012 to get a feel for Ryan Reynolds’ pacing and as part of a pitch to 20th century. Spoiler alert, it got shot down.)

At any rate, I’m not sure I want 20th Century Fox to make a Deadpool. I can just see them watering down our fourth-wall breaking, profanely psychotic anti-hero to avoid alienating the younger audiences. Secretly I’m hoping that eventually Marvel Studios will buy back the rights to Deadpool, grow a pair, and put this movie into production. It’s already been proven that obscure comics can generate a large audience. Cue Guardians of the Galaxy reference.

But until that day, I suppose this minute and half of pure awesome will have to suffice.



Samara’s Song – Free Launch

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Don’t forget to pick up a free copy of Samara’s Song, this weekend only (Aug 8 – 10).



The two most terrifying words in Almar? Casting call.
Samara Pereo prides herself on living below the radar and avoiding the watchful eyes of the producers. She swore her family would never rely on the Stadium for sustenance. But when the pantry runs empty, she and Troy have no choice but to drag their two daughters to the shows. They’re rewarded with a few bites of stale, synthetic bread and a contract wrapped in an elegant red envelope with Samara’s name on it.
The 23-year-old mother is given two choices: pay the omission fee or accept her new role in the latest Almarian reality show. Inner precinct citizens can rarely afford food, let alone omission fees. Twelve hours later Samara finds herself in the company of nine other women, all with their lives completely upended as they head towards Studio One, towards The Crucible – a cruel “match maker” that demands love and condemns the unlovable.
Now Samara must let go of her family and win over the hearts of the watching public, or else face the consequences of elimination.
It’s love or be lost in this thrilling dystopian romance.

My last name isn’t pretty, should I use a pen name?

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I have grappled with this question literally for years, and up until a few weeks ago I was dead set on the answer being hell yes.

Let’s be honest with each other, Feldkamp isn’t exactly a beautiful name. It definitely doesn’t evoke that dark sense of romanticism that I want to associate with my writing. It’s more reminiscent of schnitzel or wurst or some other painfully German word (excuse my pregnant brain for associating everything with food). Feldkamp is just not the name I envisioned on the bottom of that first bestseller. I wanted glamour and sensuality. I wanted a name that really stuck with my readers. But more than anything I wanted to marry a man with painfully obvious Germanic roots.

But no worries, there’s a bandaid to cover that ugly name! Enter the world of pseudonyms – or more commonly, pen names. Hey Lewis Carroll (legally Charles Dodgeson) did it, and look where he wound up. So if I want to recreate my name for the sake of branding, then dammit I’m going to do it.

Amber Fey – this was the name I had decided on. What can I say, I like my first name. Fey scrunches together my maiden name and married name. And frankly… It. Is. Heinous. I hope you read that name and cringe as much as I did in retrospect. No? Let’s try again. Amber Fey. It just sounds made up. And not in a good way. (My apologies if there are actual Amber Fey’s out there. Your name is beautiful on you. Promise.)

This realization promptly led to hours pouring over google, searching for the justification to change my name. Instead I found a million and one counter arguments that have led me to the following conclusions:

  1.  Ugly names can become memorable. Case in point, Janet Evanovich – heard of her?
  2. There are 3 good reasons to use a pen name: Your name is George Martin. You work in a field that deals with client confidentiality and are not keen on getting sued. You write material that you don’t want associated with your personal life, cue erotica authors.
  3. There are a lot of really bad pen names out there. If you’re going to use a pen name, own it. But first, make sure it actually sounds and looks like it could be a real name.
  4. Being the only author with your last name on the market is not a bad thing.
  5. Amazing names don’t sell books. Amazing writing does. In the end, it’s your content that’s going to attract your audience. Not the author tag.

Conclusion: If you really want to use a pen name, more power to you. But consider why first. You got a marketing scheme planned out? Can’t even pronounce your own name half the time? Think you’ll actually succeed at some degree of privacy? Go for it.

As for me, I’d like to make Feldkamp a household name. Even if it’s an ugly one.

Ethan Chase sounds like the name of an actor. Ethan Tremblay doesn’t make any goddamn sense. Okay? It’s confusing. It sounds like it was made up.

– Pete, Due Date