Saturday, June 17, 2017

#WritersLife: Finding Inspiration from YouTube Gamers (WRITE/LINKS)

Amber, the Blonde Writer: #WritersLife series: Finding Inspiration from YouTube Gamers

#WritersLife, where I talk writing in real life.

I find inspiration from a variety of places, but one of the greatest sources of my motivation comes from video games. Whether it's following the beautiful story lines (Dark Cloud II, Fallout series), taking lessons from their continuing fanbases (Pokemon, Mario), laughing at the dialogue (anything HuniePop and related to it), or taking in the world building (Skyrim, Outlast), games are great examples of strong writing.

I've watched YouTube gamers for years, but right now, my two favorite are JackSepticEye and Markiplier. Recently Jack started a new series with Tube Tycoon, which is a game simulation of running a YouTube channel.

A YouTuber playing a game about playing games for YouTube. Let that incredible idea sink in because it's genius.

I don't normally play games unless they're Nintendo because I'm easily scared and stressed. I do play Skyrim, but that one is easy to play safely because you just run from danger. I'm great at running.

But I will waste spend hours watching these YouTube gamers.

Let me explain how I find writing inspiration from watching grown men rage at Mario Maker.

Doing what they love

YouTubers are essentially entrepreneurs who, unfortunately, still have to rely on a big boss to get a paycheck, but at the end of the day, they're doing what they love doing because they went out and grabbed it.

Mark has shared his experience before he became a YouTube Partner, and it's a very sad, very encouraging story of following your dreams. Don't choose your job based on financial security alone. You will end up hating or dreading the very thing you have to do every day for the rest of your life.

Don't follow money. I know it's hard, but you can't do it.

These guys and I'm pretty sure all the original gamers started their channels because they like games and wanted to play for others. My friend Eric has his channel and blog and he didn't go into for money but because he wanted to share his experiences with others. 

That's something to remember about all the arts, and yes, gaming is an art. I spent a summer working with a peer on creating a game for iOS and Android devices, and it's an art to balance graphics, story, and game play. Balancing act aside, the arts are for those who love to share the beauty and truth they find in life. If you decide to be an author to be as rich as Rowling, I'm sorry to disappoint you.

Forget the NYT Bestselling authors, who make up a tiny percentage of all authors regardless of whether they're traditionally published, small house published, or self-published. A high percentage of authors make around $10,000 a year from their writing.

$10,000. Annually. If a high school student works 40 hours a week every week at minimum wage ($7.25/hr), they would have a gross income of $15,000.

So no, do what you do because you love it like these guys. Every time I doubt my writing career, I watch these guys and remember their stories, and I want to keep trying.

Games come from writers

I helped my peer write the storyboard for his game. I also helped him write press releases and descriptions for the game to advertise on his Facebook and Kickstarter pages. 

I get to watch these hilarious men play games while also honing my writing craft.

Now, now, nothing beats writing for practice. I know that. But we read to hone our craft with examples and inspiration, so we can do the same with games. I know many writers use movies and TV shows to find inspiration. I'm not much of a TV person, but with my new computer glasses, I spend a lot of time playing and watching games.

Wednesday, June 7, 2017

Can't-Wait Wednesday: The Cruel Prince

Can't-Wait Wednesday is a weekly meme that focuses on the yet-to-be released books we're waiting for and is hosted by Wishful Endings. It's inspired by Waiting on Wednesday by Jill at Breaking the Spine.

Today I'm highlighting an anthology about folklore and fairy tales!

Title: The Cruel Prince (The Folk of the Air #1)
Author: Holly Black
Genre: YA Fantasy
Publication Date: January 2, 2018
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Goodreads' summary:

Amber the Blonde Writer - Can't-Wait Wednesday - The Cruel PrinceJude was seven years old when her parents were murdered and she and her two sisters were stolen away to live in the treacherous High Court of Faerie. Ten years later, Jude wants nothing more than to belong there, despite her mortality. But many of the fey despise humans. Especially Prince Cardan, the youngest and wickedest son of the High King.

To win a place at the Court, she must defy him–and face the consequences.

In doing so, she becomes embroiled in palace intrigues and deceptions, discovering her own capacity for bloodshed. But as civil war threatens to drown the Courts of Faerie in violence, Jude will need to risk her life in a dangerous alliance to save her sisters, and Faerie itself.

Why I'm Waiting:

When I was in high school, I loved reading books about the faerie universe. The older I got, the less I read about mystical creatures, but faeries never seem to fade like vampires and werewolves, blowing up and then vanishing to blow up again. I'd like to get involved in the faerie universe again, and Holly Black's novels are full of them, and full of them well from what I've heard.

What books are you waiting on?

Other posts you may like: 

Wednesday, May 31, 2017

Can't-Wait Wednesday: The Language of Thorns: Midnight Tales and Dangerous Magic

Amber the Blonde Writer - Can't Wait Wednesday - The Language of Thorns

Can't-Wait Wednesday is a weekly meme that focuses on the yet-to-be released books we're waiting for and is hosted by Wishful Endings. It's inspired by Waiting on Wednesday by Jill at Breaking the Spine.

Today I'm highlighting an anthology about folklore and fairy tales!

Title: The Language of Thorns: Midnight Tales and Dangerous Magic
Author: Leigh Bardugo
Genre: YA Fantasy
Publication Date: September 26, 2017
Add to Goodreads

Goodreads' summary:

Amber the Blonde Writer - Can't-Wait Wednesday - The Language of ThornsLove speaks in flowers. Truth requires thorns.

Travel to a world of dark bargains struck by moonlight, of haunted towns and hungry woods, of talking beasts and gingerbread golems, where a young mermaid's voice can summon deadly storms and where a river might do a lovestruck boy's bidding but only for a terrible price.

Inspired by myth, fairy tale, and folklore, #1 New York Times–bestselling author Leigh Bardugo has crafted a deliciously atmospheric collection of short stories filled with betrayals, revenge, sacrifice, and love.

Perfect for new readers and dedicated fans, these tales will transport you to lands both familiar and strange—to a fully realized world of dangerous magic that millions have visited through the novels of the Grishaverse.

This collection of six stories includes three brand-new tales, all of them lavishly illustrated with art that changes with each turn of the page, culminating in six stunning full-spread illustrations as rich in detail as the stories themselves.

Why I'm Waiting:

Leigh Bardugo hooked me at the beginning of last year with Six of Crows. Her mastery of character development continues to awe and inspire me, even outside of writing. Not only that, but if there's one YA genre I love more than fantasy, it's fairy tales and their retellings. I can't wait to see what Bardugo does with her fantasy worlds!

What books are you waiting on?

Other posts you may like: 

Wednesday, May 24, 2017

Can't-Wait Wednesday: Because You Love to Hate Me: 13 Tales of Villainy

Amber the Blonde Writer - Can't-Wait Wednesday

Can't-Wait Wednesday is a weekly meme that focuses on the yet-to-be released books we're waiting for and is hosted by Wishful Endings. It's inspired by Waiting on Wednesday by Jill at Breaking the Spine.

Today I'm highlighting an anthology about our beloved evil-doers!

Title: Because You Love to Hate Me: 13 Tales of Villainy
Author: Various Authors
Genre: YA Fantasy
Publication Date: July 11, 2017
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Goodreads' summary:

In this unique YA anthology, thirteen acclaimed, bestselling authors team up with thirteen influential
Amber the Blonde Writer - Waiting on Wednesday - Because You Love to Hate Me
BookTubers to reimagine fairy tales from the oft-misunderstood villains' points of view.

These fractured, unconventional spins on classics like "Medusa," Sherlock Holmes, and "Jack and the Beanstalk" provide a behind-the-curtain look at villains' acts of vengeance, defiance, and rage--and the pain, heartbreak, and sorrow that spurned them on. No fairy tale will ever seem quite the same again!

Featuring writing from . . .

Authors: Renée Ahdieh, Ameriie, Soman Chainani, Susan Dennard, Sarah Enni, Marissa Meyer, Cindy Pon, Victoria Schwab, Samantha Shannon, Adam Silvera, Andrew Smith, April Genevieve Tucholke, and Nicola Yoon

BookTubers: Benjamin Alderson (Benjaminoftomes), Sasha Alsberg (abookutopia), Whitney Atkinson (WhittyNovels), Tina Burke (ChristinaReadsYA blog and TheLushables), Catriona Feeney (LittleBookOwl), Jesse George (JessetheReader), Zoë Herdt (readbyzoe), Samantha Lane (Thoughts on Tomes), Sophia Lee (thebookbasement), Raeleen Lemay (padfootandprongs07), Regan Perusse (PeruseProject), Christine Riccio (polandbananasBOOKS), and Steph Sinclair & Kat Kennedy (Cuddlebuggery blog and channel).

Why I'm Waiting:

I have always struggled with writing a strong villain because they always end up being too cliche or too quirky to feel relatable. This anthology sounds like the perfect "research" for me on my journey to creating that perfect evil-doer. Of course, you know I'm not going to neglect mentioning Marissa Meyer and Victoria Schwab, two of the greatest writers of our time.

What books are you waiting on?

Other posts you may like: 

Wednesday, May 17, 2017

Can't-Wait Wednesday: When Dimple Met Rishi

Amber the Blonde Writer - Can't Wait Wednesday

Can't-Wait Wednesday is a weekly meme that focuses on the yet-to-be released books we're waiting for and is hosted by Wishful Endings. It's inspired by Waiting on Wednesday by Jill at Breaking the Spine.

Today I'm highlighting a modern-day romantic comedy that focuses on arranged marriages!

Title: When Dimple Met Rishi
Author: Sandhya Menon
Genre: YA Romance
Publication Date: May 30, 2017
Add to Goodreads

Goodreads' summary:

Amber the Blonde Writer - Waiting on Wednesday - When Dimple Met Rishi
Dimple Shah has it all figured out. With graduation behind her, she’s more than ready for a break from her family, from Mamma’s inexplicable obsession with her finding the “Ideal Indian Husband.” Ugh. Dimple knows they must respect her principles on some level, though. If they truly believed she needed a husband right now, they wouldn’t have paid for her to attend a summer program for aspiring web developers…right?

Rishi Patel is a hopeless romantic. So when his parents tell him that his future wife will be attending the same summer program as him—wherein he’ll have to woo her—he’s totally on board. Because as silly as it sounds to most people in his life, Rishi wants to be arranged, believes in the power of tradition, stability, and being a part of something much bigger than himself.

The Shahs and Patels didn’t mean to start turning the wheels on this “suggested arrangement” so early in their children’s lives, but when they noticed them both gravitate toward the same summer program, they figured, Why not?

Dimple and Rishi may think they have each other figured out. But when opposites clash, love works hard to prove itself in the most unexpected ways.

Why I'm Waiting:

I rarely pick up romantic comedies because they're usually the same stories or the same characters as the book I last finished. However, I find it enjoyable to read rom-coms involving places or people from other cultures because I'm learning as I read, and I have something to focus on besides the next fluff moment. Throw in my years as an Asian Studies minor in college in addition to my YA background, and this novel has me hooked.

What books are you waiting on?

Other posts you may enjoy:

Saturday, May 13, 2017

#WritersLife: Establishing a (Fun) Reading Schedule

Amber the Blonde Writer - #WritersLife

#WritersLife, where I talk writing in real life.

If you've been writing for a few weeks or drafts, you've definitely heard the ancient proverb of our great word wizards: if you want to write well, you must read often. This has always been the case for me. When I find myself in a reading slump, I pick up Marissa Meyer, Sara Raasch, or Leigh Bardugo to kick my butt in gear and inspire myself to get back to writing. Reading your favorite authors is also great for taking notes on what you like personally as well as reminding yourself of what works for the current reader.

However, mixing up your reading choices can also help put your mind in a better place. Not every YA book I read has to be a learning experience the first time, and not every book I read has to be YA in order for me to enjoy it. In fact, reading outside your normal reading genre or topic can open up opportunity for things to incorporate into your preferred genre or can serve as reminders for things you never want to do in your writing.

This is where a fun reading schedule comes in. Many bloggers follow reading schedules centered around genres or release dates to coordinate with their review posts, and recreational readers tend to follow the most sought-after titles on their TBR list. For me, I'm focusing more on leisure reading and new writing, which means book reviews aren't as prominent on my blog as they once were. I am open to read whatever my heart calls me to read, whether it's YA, faith-based, or academic.

Young adult novels

I am a lover of YA. I started reading YA when I was in elementary school and have no plans of stopping now that I'm a nearly quarter-century adult. When the blog started in 2014, I focused only on dystopian novels, dipping into adult for analyses and comparisons for how the genre had transformed. In 2015 I expanded the blog to include more of my interests and wrote book reviews on YA fantasy, historical, and fairy-tale retellings in addition to general science fiction although it remained predominantly dystopian. 

In 2016, I fell deep into my #WritersLife segment and introduced an even amount of reading-related posts and writing-related posts. When I started working my two jobs in the fall of that year, I took a complete hiatus from reading, writing, and blogging to refocus my goals because I felt like my purpose was shaken. I read a few novels, varying from adult to YA to faith, but nothing seemed to really speak to me.

Picking back up in 2017, I know I still want to focus on young adult novels, but now I'm reading a wider variety than ever before. I can't stop reading contemporary novels about mental illness, especially after spending a year working for a college where a large number of my regular students identified as living with mental illnesses. However, I'm also slipping away from my science fiction lore to more fairy-retellings and historical reads. 

No matter what I end up reading, I will always lean toward YA when I need a pick-me-up or motivation to write my own story. While my love for YA remains strong, that may be the only thing that hasn't changed.

Faith-based reading

Normally, I wouldn't focus on much of my private life because my blog has always focused on words, but my decision to become Catholic has touched all areas of my life, including my reading choices. I spent 2016 starting and finishing the Bible (New Living Translation) and signed up for RCIA (Rite of Christian Initiation for Adults) classes.

Amber the Blonde Writer - Teresa of Avila The Book of My LifeOn Easter of this year, I was confirmed in full communion with the Catholic Church. At the start of 2017, I started reading The Catechism of the Catholic Church and have spent the last month reading Teresa of Avila: The Book of My Life, translated by Mirabai Starr, the memoir of the woman I chose to be my patron saint. This memoir has helped me overcome the trials I face and better understand how to react to my emotional states so that I remain mature and obedient to God's will.

Understanding my body and mind has shaped not only the way I am, but also how my relationships with others carry out. This transformation carries into my perception of people and characters, leaving me wondering how to write about characters in a way that will show this complex, constant struggle. Any change in our being will affect our art, and I think it's important to connect with what we surround ourselves with to understand the change that will occur in what we produce.

Learning about my faith and myself has helped me personally, but I still rely on academic and craft reading to hone in on the words and structure my work needs to convey my message. 

Academic studies

I spent the last 9 months tutoring at another local college despite the promises of leaving behind education for good. However, I love learning much more than I love teaching, and I think that's why I was able to return, if only for a little while.The chance to be around so many diverse people reminded me of the lessons we learn from each other even when we don't intend to teach.

Amber the Blonde Writer - Self-Editing for Fiction Writers
Craft books are still a favorite of mine. I read Stephen King's On Writing, and it remains the single best writing craft book I've come across. Throughout my college career, we referred to Janet Burroway for everything. While Burroway is great for building a story, I often found the books too lengthy for easy reference, but for general information, her books are a great source. For editing, the best resource I've read is Self-Editing for Fiction Writers by Renni Browne and Dave King.

Learning how to enhance my creative writing has been a greatly self-taught skill. Eric references me sources quite often, and my Twitter writing friends are also immense help in finding the gems. My college instructors weren't keen on how to find ourselves teachers outside of school, so I really only had one professor teaching me invaluable skills I still use to this day (thanks, Sirkin!).

Whatever your art or craft is, read about it. If you truly love it, or aren't sure if you truly love, study it: spending hours figuring out the right phrase to tell a character how to get lost without saying get lost is a good indication that writing holds a strong interest for you.

Read everything. Read what you love. Read what you can't stand. Read boring stuff to remind you how to not write that way. Read tabloids if that's what you like. Read historical documents if that's what you like. Read religious texts if that's what you like. Find what you like and read it. Not everything has to be a learning lesson, but everything always is.


Other posts you may enjoy:

Wednesday, May 10, 2017

Can't-Wait Wednesday: Renegades

Amber the Blonde Writer - Can't-Wait Wednesday

Can't-Wait Wednesday is a weekly meme that focuses on the yet-to-be released books we're waiting for and is hosted by Wishful Endings. It's inspired by Waiting on Wednesday by Jill at Breaking the Spine.

Today I'm highlighting the next novel from my (arguably) favorite author!

Title: Renegades
Author: Marissa Meyer
Genre: YA Fantasy
Publication Date: November 7, 2017
Add to Goodreads

Goodreads summary:

Secret Identities.
Extraordinary Powers.
She wants vengeance. He wants justice.

The Renegades are a syndicate of prodigies—humans with extraordinary abilities—who emerged from the ruins of a crumbled society and established peace and order where chaos reigned. As champions of justice, they remain a symbol of hope and courage to everyone...except the villains they once overthrew.

Nova has a reason to hate the Renegades, and she is on a mission for vengeance. As she gets closer to her target, she meets Adrian, a Renegade boy who believes in justice—and in Nova. But Nova's allegiance is to a villain who has the power to end them both.

Why I'm Waiting:

Marissa Meyer: Check. Superheroes: Check.

I mean, do I need anything else? Do I, really?

What books are you waiting on?

Other posts you may like: