Meet Vanessa

Meet Vanessa Marshall.

Orphan. Artist. Lover of the weather. 

image1 (1).jpeg

Vanessa Marshall has spent her life in and out of foster care, living on the vague memory she has of her mother. Three weeks before her 18th birthday, Vanessa receives a letter in the mail instructing her to jump off the Swan Pier at exactly midnight under the next full moon. 

With nothing left but hope, Vanessa travels to Port Swan, NC and jumps - coming up for air seventy years in the past. On a mission to find her mother and a place to call home, Vanessa finds herself while attempting to become the person she hopes to be.

In the midst of this mission she allows herself to enjoy life through painting, new friendships and falling for her first love. 

Welcome to Port Swan

Over the next six month's I will be introducing you to the many aspects that make up the world of my novella. Beginning with the fictional setting that the story takes place in, Port Swan, NC.

Port Swan is based on several different towns along the North Carolina coast, while not being any of them in particular. Southport, Swansboro, Pine Knoll Shores, Topsail Island, and Wilmington have inspired this setting greatly, and are all places that I hold near and dear.

I have called NC home my entire life, and while I do not live at the coast a piece of my heart resides there year round. Every time I step foot on coastal ground, I feel like I'm home. They say to write what you know, so it was only natural for me write about my favorite place, which is most definitely by the sea. 

Welcome to Port Swan, NC. 


Port Swan is a fictional island sandwiched in between the Atlantic Ocean and the Inner Coastal waterway. It is home to the many founding families of Port Swan - namely, the Davenport and Marshall families. 

In the year 1850, the year Port Swan was founded, Gardenia Swan inspired Clarence Davenport to name the town. Twenty-two years later she inspires him to begin construction on the Swan Lighthouse.

Along with the lighthouse and the key to the town the Davenports own the town vineyard -  a muscadine grape farm, just across the bridge on the mainland.

But, the Marshall family, while not directly connected to the Davenport's, hold the true key to the town - the secret of the time portal. 

I hope you guys are excited to spend some more time in Port Swan once the story begins...


Writing a novella

During the month of April I participated in Camp Nanowrino - and won! I wrote a total of 54,000 words toward a novel I named, Wearing Lynnie's Dress. While I am very proud to call myself a winner, I know in my heart that the novel isn't what it's supposed to be... yet. 

During the writing of Wearing Lynnie's Dress a new idea popped into my head and simply would not leave me alone. During the many late night's in April I would quickly jot down ideas for the new (pestering) idea, brushing it off entirely while I focused on Lynnie.

Once May hit, I couldn't shake the pull anymore. I jumped in head first.


While I was excited to see where the new idea would take me, I had no idea that it would be so close to home. The many layers of the novel came out fast, in the form of a time traveling spin off of Lynnie. A story set in the same town, with a few overlapping characters. 

I am happy to say, that this novella feels right. It feels like the start of something good - something I've been reaching for, for far too long. In only two short weeks the first few chapters will be in the hands of beta readers and I'll be holding my breath while I wait for their reviews. 

Throughout the summer I will be introducing you to the many aspects of this story - the setting, the magic, and most importantly the characters. I hope you are all as excited as I am to jump in. 


Sweet Periwinkle

These flowers feel like a sweet surprise from nature. We didn’t plant them and we didn’t see them last year, yet here they are. I picked a few and left the rest - then, felt inspired to be a part of their mysterious lives for a little while longer.

Click the photo to take a visual peek into the short story that follows.

Sweet Periwinkle

by Amber Crawley


Every house in the neighborhood had clovers with three leaves filling their yard - but at the top of the the hill, in the yard with the lonely house, every clover had four.

In the midst of these four leaf clovers, Violet Marsh grew flowers. They smelled sweet and were shaped like bells. They weren’t purple, but they weren’t blue either. I liked to say they were periwinkle. But, no one could quite be sure as their color was indescribably moody. They appeared lilac in the brightest sun, eggplant by the moonlight, and every shade in between underneath a cloudy sky.

More mysterious than their color, no one quite knew when their surprise arrival would come. One day there wouldn't be a single shred of hope that they were near, the next they would be standing on the hill proudly like soldiers in the wind. One by one, row by row, they danced to the breeze and almost appeared as if they were laughing with one another, chatting about how lucky they were to be alive.

By the edge of Violet Marsh’s mysterious periwinkle garden stood a sign that read, Only pick if you can hear. It sounded like an invitation, because nearly everyone can hear, but felt more like a warning.

Sometimes, after the lovely bells had shot up, I would look out my bedroom window for hours. I would sit and wonder what would happen if I were to pick one. In all the hours I spent watching, I had only ever seen one person pick them and that was Violet Marsh herself. I would watch as Violet touched their petals gently and I would listen as the wind blew her sweet floral lullaby’s into my ears. She would wait until the last minute and then suddenly, she'd pick one. But, only just one.


One night, the mysterious lives of the sweet bells tiptoed through my dreams. I dreamed I was Violet, and I got to pick one periwinkle flower to call my own.

Each of the flowers sang my name like a well rehearsed performance. Their voices sounded like wind chimes, blowing wildly in the wind. I looked down at the tiny bells and asked which one wanted to come inside. Each tiny voice ran across my mind, pleading for me to choose them.

Out of the corner of my eye I noticed one silent periwinkle bell that stood out from all the others. The calm stem had it’s blooms opened wide as it quietly swayed in the breeze. I could smell it’s sweet fragrance stronger than all the rest.

“Can you be mine?” I asked the serene flower. The sounds of chimes hushed, one by one, allowing the silent bell to ring. A distant jingle swirled out, slow and steady. The flower appeared to bow, while all the others stood tall.

I reached down to grab the thin green stem and snapped it from the ground, at the very bottom. The distant chime stopped, and the flower wilted slightly.

I quickly walked into the house, carrying the beloved sweet periwinkle bell in my hands.

I cleaned a vase, allowing the sound of the running water to soothe us both. When I could tell that the flower could take no more, I placed the long stem into it’s new home. The sound of chimes rang out again as the blooms stood up a little taller.

I carefully touched one of the periwinkle petals that hung just over the lip of the glass vase. The petals were silky but firm, solid but fragile, it's melody was quiet but loud. I sat at the table and listened, allowing it's sweet soul to fill me until I was full.


I woke up to the sound of chopping. I rubbed my eyes, vaguely remembering my dream. It was escaping me as fast as it had come. I ran to the window and looked out. Violet was up on her hill chopping logs and singing her bells a morning lullaby.

I pulled my robe on and ran to her.


“Miss Marsh,” I said breathlessly. “I had a dream about your flowers last night.”

Hair was whipping across my face and my body was covered in chills, but my insides felt warm.

“What did they say?” She asked, putting her ax down.

I thought for a moment trying my best to remember. I looked down at my bare feet hiding in the four leaf clovers. I wanted to make them run away and climb back into bed. I wanted to live inside of my dream and allow the bells to fill me up all over again. 

"I can’t remember,” I said.

“Close your eyes,” Violet whispered. She wrapped her shawl around my small shoulders and walked me toward the flowers. I looked up at her, both of her eyes were shut.

“Don’t open them,” she warned. I shut my eyes, quickly and tightly.

I felt the weight of her shawl and the warmth of her hands on my shoulders.

“Did you hear that?” Violet asked.

I shook my head.

“Just listen,” she whispered right beside my ear.

I could hear whistling through the trees and could smell a familiar sweet scent float into me. I heard Violet breathing softly and then suddenly... a faraway “good morning” echoed, getting louder as it flew past.

“They said good morning,” I shouted, looking up at her.

Violet nodded, hushed me, and told me to shut my eyes again. 

"They're calling my name," I whispered. 

Side by side we stood by the sign that read, Only pick if you can hear. I motioned toward it, scared they would stop singing if I spoke. Violet nodded. I walked in front of the floral soldiers and waited - until I saw a single periwinkle flower bow.


Written by Amber Crawley