Life stuff continued (great news!)

pikachu

Today I want to share some exciting news and then fire off some quickie book reviews. Here we go.

I’m now working full-time as a community and social media manager for Classcraft, a really cool browser-based role-playing game that teachers and students play together. It’s not game-based learning (eg., Minecraft) but rather gamification, which is when you take game mechanics and principles and apply them to non-game settings (in this case, middle and high school). Students choose whether they want to be a mage, warrior, or healer, and teachers reward them for positive behavior and punish them for negative behavior. Kids also learn fun powers that help them work together as a team to win. So anything that’s happening in the game is corresponding directly with their performance and grades in class.

This all happened super fast. The team’s founder, Shawn Young, encouraged me to apply for the position after I interviewed him for an article (here’s the piece on Fast Co). I still work from home, make my own hours, and get all the other perks of being a freelancer, but it’s full-time and pays well enough that I was able to drop a lot of gigs. I’m still keeping some because I love writing about video games, but this is a nice change of pace for me, and I’m excited to see how it goes.

What do you think? If you have any tips for me or want to ask me questions about Classcraft — anything at all (maybe you know some teachers who might be interested?) — go right ahead. :)

And in other good news, I don’t have to relocate to Philadelphia as previously thought, so my boyfriend and our cats and I are pretty happy about that.

On to the book reviews! GO, GO, GO!

The Girl Who Would Be King by Kelly Thompson – Probably one of the better superhero novelizations (are there a lot of those?). Original property, so it’s not based on anything. It tells the origins of a superhero and a super villain who are connected through their mothers and a long line of superpowered women. It’s good, but a little cliche/predictable at times, so I wasn’t huge on this. Awesome ending, though.

Will You Please Be Quiet, Please? by Raymond Carver – These are all life stories about ordinary people. Great but depressing? That’s Carver. Perfect if you don’t feel like getting invested in any one story more than 15 pages long.

My first story for Fast Company’s Co.Create

So this is Part One of my good news (I’ll be able to share more in the coming weeks).

My first-ever article for Fast Company has gone live!

This is a big deal as Fast Co is a great outlet. At this point, I don’t have many details on what’s ahead, but I’m celebrating the achievement.

The story is all about Vlambeer, a mobile-game studio that survived a bout with cloning on the App Store and bounced back to release the hit title Ridiculous Fishing.

You’re welcome to follow me on Twitter or Facebook for more of my work there and everywhere else.

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Is writing our destiny?

Last night I was watching the fifth episode of the BBC show Being Human. (Wow, I started this series weeks ago, and I’m only on episode five? Good lord.) In “Where the Wild Things Are,” the vampire leader/policeman William Herrick confesses in an elevator that he once dreamed of becoming an architect because of a picture book he owned when he was a boy. The hunger of a vampire, as it happens, decided otherwise. “This chose me,” he tells Mitchell fiercely.

It got me thinking. That’s a lot like being a writer.

Now, maybe it’s wrong* to compare a vampire’s instinct to kill and drink blood with a writer’s need to write, but … bear with me here.

As writers, we’re constantly being pulled into a tide we cannot resist. If we don’t write, we drive ourselves crazy. I imagine that’s much how a dehydrated vampire feels, only with the murdering and all.

We feel better when we write, when we spill our thoughts out onto the page (okay, hold the morbidity). For me it’s almost compulsive. An idea happens upon me and I scribble it down on a scrap of paper—or off to my blog I go. My passion for writing is, I firmly believe, an innate phenomenon. I didn’t decide to be a writer any more than I decided to be born with blonde hair and blue eyes.**

Without a outlet to write, without an audience of some assemblage, I would be a very sad girl indeed.

But as any writer can tell you, writing isn’t the easiest job in the world. Far from it. But it’s an endeavor well worth the time and labor, and an addictive one at that. I write not only here on this blog, but on my other blog (on occasion)—as well as several other websites. My name will soon appear in print in a magazine as a contributor (more on that in the coming weeks, when I finally have my copy in hand). I’m busy revising my first novel, when I can spare the time. And when I’m not writing, I’m doing things that create more opportunities for me to write—reading books or comics, playing video games, watching movies … all so I can reflect on them in written form.

I admit. I do have an agenda here. I’m in the process of securing two deals for freelancing positions*** that, combined, will lighten my financial burden but severely limit my time. They also let me do what I love, and that counts for a lot. Because of these two new (please, please keep your fingers crossed for me) responsibilities, I’ll have less time leftover for blogging. But don’t think for a minute that’ll stop me from posting every week—as always, I’ll find a way. A big workload has never discouraged me before. Just be more lenient with me if my posts show up in your feed half as often. ;)

But okay, back to my point. Writing is sort of like destiny, isn’t it? Try as we might to get away from it, it just keeps reining us in, for better or worse. I’d say right now, for me, it’s for the better.

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P.S.: Another happy life update: I just ordered a new laptop! Insert high volumes of girlish squeals here! I can’t WAIT until it arrives. I’ve been lugging around this hunk of junk**** (that’s an endnote, not a bleeped-out swear word, although it might as well be) (my other hunk of junk, the one that’s a desktop, died on me a couple weeks ago) for far too long. I icily named it “Pandora’s Box” the other day: the source of all pain in my world. Ugh.

P.P.S.: Want to see something lovely? Go to Google Images and search “writing,” and then search “love of writing.” With “writing,” you see lonely pens on paper and disembodied hands. “Love of writing” is something else entirely. You see doodled hearts and people—people together, and people smiling.

P.P.P.S.: By the way, I manage on a lot of coffee, tea, and the comfort of cats.

*Yes, yes it is.

**For the record, I dye my hair red and sometimes brown. Shh.

***More on those when they’re finalized. Although the one involves writing evening news posts, so if you’re interested in video games, stop by GameZone.com after dark starting tomorrow.

****Thanks to my sister for passing down this hunk of junk, which has been a great gift to receive despite all its hassle.

Things are about to get interesting: working for Kirkus Indie

Bit of good news: I’m now a reviewer for Kirkus Indie! As a long-time comic book (and video game … and movie) reviewer (see my other blog for more), I can’t wait to start writing advance reviews of traditional books as well, and I hope you’ll be kind enough to read my thoughts on them. As anyone who’s been reading this blog knows, book reviewing is something I like to dabble in once and a while. (Add me on Goodreads!)

Writing for Kirkus also means shrugging off the old MLA coat and trying AP on for size. I’ve never worked with the AP style before now, but I borrowed a handbook and started studying it in preparation. Grammar and punctuation seem to be the biggies, along with spelling and abbreviations. Much of it is already familiar to me through general experience, and much of it carries over from MLA, but if you have any tips or advice, please share.