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
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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:

Saturday, May 6, 2017

#WritersLife: Changing Up Your Inner Office

#WritersLife - Amber the Blonde Writer

#WritersLife, where I talk writing in real life.

I recently talked about finding inspiration to write after nearly a year of lacking motivation. I've been switching up everything related to my writing in order to jump start new ideas and wake up that coma-induced muse in my head. Another trick I'm trying is changing up how I write, including where, when, and who.

I've come up with 5 major changes to try in the next few weeks to see how they help and how frequent or strong that help turns out to be. As always, the #writerslife is a constantly changing plane, so I'm learning to adapt to my internal changes so my inner office space is open to dump those words on paper.

Silence or Music?

I am someone who thrives on words: visual words, auditory words, the conversations between the voices in my head. Because of that last reason, I have to eliminate all other forms of words besides the words popping up on my screen.

I love Okanokumo on YouTube for maintaining focus, but when I need to write action-packed sequences for my fantasy stories, I turn on Cascada. Counterproductive to my 'destroy all words' stance from earlier, but if we're honest, all of Cascada's songs are the same beat with different lyrics, and it's the beat that allows my fingers to keep pace.

Since I'm a music-listener normally, perhaps I should try silence, or maybe even throw the whole need out the window to be surrounded by people.

Solitary or Bustling?

Writing is a solitary sport, but that doesn't have to mean you don't have a stadium full of people to spectate. Some writers can write at the kitchen table with kids' TV shows blaring and teens arguing and spouses being needy and wondering where their work shirts are. Other writers lock themselves away in a basement, tower, or medium-sized closet to escape distractions. Whichever method you do, do the opposite.

This will be difficult for me because I lose focus easily, so being around family often slows me down. However, being around family also reminds me that my career is a strange one: I don't belong to a work space for 8 hours and come home and check back in. My mind was once constantly flowing with ideas, and often I would sneak a minute or two to write a new idea down or escape to finish the end of a brilliant dialogue scene.

Being around family is also a great way to get new material for characters and situations when you feel stuck because no one's family is as dramatic or dysfunctional as your own.

Sitting or Standing?

This is a fairly new idea in the writing world. Writers are perceived as these sloth-like creatures that thrive on sitting in chairs for days on end. However, with all these cubicle junkies wanting to be healthy, we now have the option of standing desks.

I admit, my mind works differently when I'm standing and writing, and that may not be entirely from the fact that my feet are killing me. Maybe our brains will coordinate action scenes more fluidly because we can feel the muscles in our legs contract with each slight movement. Or maybe we can relate more to the butterflies and the quaky knees of a romance scene as our legs buckle underneath us from exhaustion.

Either way, I think I'll give it a try.

Private or Public?

Because of my need for low music and alone-time, I'm 90% of the time writing at home. I also don't like the idea of people reading over my shoulder, which results in me holing up in a corner with my back to wall, stalking those around me behind my yellow-tinted spy-inspired computer glasses.

That's also not very comfortable, so there's that.

Writing in public is difficult to do for me because I'm so shy about my work when I don't believe it's ready for outside eyes. For those who write in public, do you have mental tricks to overcome this worry? Or if you're fine with those wandering pupils, why do you choose to write in public versus at home? This is definitely the hardest change for me to initiate.

Early or late?

There are two types of writers in the world: those who write before noon, and those who write after midnight, and yes, those are two very different groups.

I write best at four in the morning until six. Those hours are when my brain is supercharged from sleep but I'm still stuck in those dark hours of night when our brains play tricks on our memory and emotions. My friend Eric starts writing in the late afternoon, preferably after the sun goes down because I think he's secretly a llama vampire but these are just conjectures. 

Writing at 2 p.m. may not sound drastic, but it's a huge difference to my morning personality. Even writing at 6 p.m. is making me yawn, but if that's what it takes to kick-start my brain into functioning at 4 a.m., then it may be my only option.

These are just a few of the divisions I classify myself into as a writer. Do you fall into these categories? Is there one I left out? Share your thoughts and experiences and let me know if you're a sloth-like llama vampire or something even more sinister.


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