Wednesday, August 24, 2016

Book Three Status Update: A Scene

BRIAN walks into the family room, where JOEL is sitting in front of a computer, paying full attention to the monitor screen.

     BRIAN: Hey Joel - guess what?

     JOEL (not looking up): What?

     BRIAN: I got the draft of Book Three back from my editor last Friday!

     JOEL (still not looking up): Oh, um, cool...wait, what's Book Three?

     BRIAN (hesitant): It's, uh...never mind. (He recovers his composure.) Anyway, the good news is that she had a lot of great suggestions, but overall, it's not really gonna take me too long to incorporate them. So after this round of revisions, it should be ready to move into the final edit stage, and then it'll be good to go.

     JOEL: Okay.

     BRIAN: Yeah, I'm pretty excited. I had originally planned for a 2017 release, but now I'm wondering if I should move it up...

     JOEL: To 2016?

     BRIAN: Yeah. I dunno, probably not though...we'll see. Early 2017 maybe. There are some other things I have going on as well that may require extra time to put together. Either way, I'm just really happy to be at this point in the process.

     JOEL: Great. Congratulations.

     BRIAN: Thanks. Besides, I really want to get it out before the new Zelda game is released, since I know that'll take up a bunch of my time.

     JOEL: Yeah, me too.

     BRIAN (leaning in): So what're you playing there?

     JOEL: Just some game I made.

     BRIAN: You made that? Wow, that's pretty cool. It looks kinda familiar...what is it?

     JOEL: It's called "Sparkleblock." It's a computerized version of a handheld puzzle game I played in Spectra -

JOEL pauses, as if he has suddenly become aware that he just might have said too much.

Um, I mean, 2015.

     BRIAN (squinting at the screen): Huh. That's really similar to something that I wrote about you doing in Book Two -

JOEL shoots an curious glance in BRIAN's direction. BRIAN blinks rapidly and takes a step back.

Um, I mean...that's...that's pretty cool.

     JOEL: Yeah.

     BRIAN: Yeah.

JOEL and BRIAN look at each other. A long, awkward pause ensues. Then, finally, BRIAN claps his hands together.

     BRIAN: Alrighty then, I'll let you get back to it!

     JOEL: Okay.

BRIAN exits stage left.

- Fin - 

Thursday, August 18, 2016


Last week my son got his driver's license. To me, it felt like just yesterday when he first took the wheel and started practicing, but then he reminded me that it was actually almost two years (!) ago.
Not the actual license
He's a really good driver, so all of you on the road can relax. I think part of his skill comes from his attention to detail, while another part undoubtedly comes from years of Mario Kart training.

Also last week, my daughter successfully put in and took out a pair of contact lenses for the first time. She has sensitive eyes, but she's really motivated because she wants to have colored contacts as part of a costume that she's putting together. We must all suffer for our art...

Finally, fresh off of our show at the Ash Street Saloon, my band Second Player Score performed a daytime set at the Vancouver Brewfest.
Courtesy of Missy Fant Photography
We had a great time and the audience was awesome. The cool thing about this particular gig is that three years ago, Kyle (SPS drummer) and I were at the Brewfest as attendees, and he said, "One day we'll be playing at this event." And lo, it came to pass! Big mahalos go out to Cody Gray (Brewfest organizer) for having us and Al Jones (soundman) for a rockin' live mix. We're looking forward to doing it again next year.

Coming up next time: another Book Three status update!

Thursday, August 11, 2016

Pokemon Go - Um, I Mean, Wilsonville Fun In The Park & Ash Street Saloon Recap

Last Saturday was an epic story of friendship, books, music, and, yes, Pokemon. Sit back and relax while I tell you the tale...

It all started in a scenic little town known as Wilsonville, Oregon, where the annual Fun In The Park event was taking place. I got there bright and early to unload. The Northwest Independent Writers Association booth, graciously set up for us by my friend and fellow author/musician April Bullard, was in a great spot close to the parking lot and next to something known as "The Whizzer," which turned out to be a kid-powered ride and not the old Marvel Comics superhero.
Other fellow authors were there as well, including (pictured above from left to right): Marilyn Owen (who, I found out, was also born and raised in Hawaii), Leigh Goodison, Leah MacKenzie, Lillian Jolie, the aforementioned April, Roslyn McFarland, and Gwendalyn Belle. We all had a great time hanging out, reading from and selling our books, and enjoying the sunny weather.

I also enjoyed the fact that this particular park was absolutely loaded with PokeStops. Admit it, you know what I'm talking about. Every once in a while, I would take a break from our booth to go walk around and reload while catching the occasional Pidgey or Weedle along the way (I even found a Jigglypuff). Our booth itself was basically located right on top of a stop as well, so that was highly convenient.

After Fun In The Park, I had a little dinner break before I switched gears and headed over to the Ash Street Saloon in Portland to play a show with my band Second Player Score. As it turned out, this particular area of downtown Portland was also teeming with PokeStops and Pokemon. After I unloaded my gear, I stopped to catch 'em all and noticed some of the members from the other bands (The Shrike and The Adarna) doing so as well - a nice bonding moment that started the night off on the right foot.
We opened the show and played a set that consisted of a mix of songs from our first album Fortress Storm Attack (Anything At All, Falling Forever, Gloria) and our upcoming second album Nobody's Hero (Head Of Sin, Demon's Kiss, Origin Story, Comets). The sound was great - thanks, Heather! - and so was the audience, which included the boys from Anarchy Radio.

Equally as great were the two bands that followed - The Shrike, from Portland, and The Adarna, from Seattle. I had not realized this until I got to the venue, but the frontman for The Adarna used to be the guitar player for The Slants, another great regional Northwest band that I had met before. I was thinking, "man, that guy looks familiar!" Turned out, he was thinking the same thing about me. Small world, this is.

With the day's amazing journey thus concluded, we all loaded up our gear and headed off into the night. But not before catching a couple more Pokemon. Seriously, that place was loaded. I'm thinking that someone might have set up a lure or something...

Thursday, August 4, 2016

Summer Picnic Recap And Book Four (?!) Status Update

This past Sunday was Autism Empowerment's second annual summer potluck picnic, and it was a blast! The weather was perfect - cool and slightly cloudy to start, clearing and warming up as the day went by.
The turnout was great and we collected a lot of canned food for the Clark County Food Bank. The Portland Superheroes Coalition made an appearance, as did the superstar llamas Rojo and Smokey.
Also, some dudes with musical instruments stood around and played acoustic versions of '80s songs as well as a few tunes by Second Player Score...oh, wait, that was us.

And yes, I am actually moving on to Book Four now! Well, sort of, anyway. While the draft of Book Three is being reviewed by my editor, I'm using this time to flesh out the summary for the next installment of the Spectraland Saga.

You may recall me doing something similar before. I think it's an important step, not only to get a jump on the next book, but to make sure the overall series arc is flowing along smoothly before Book Three gets pressed into canon.

I will, however, be taking a break from writing this coming Saturday to be at two awesome events: the NIWA Children's Author Reading Booth at Wilsonville Fun In The Park 2016, and Second Player Score with The Adarna and The Shrike at Ash Street Saloon. Hope to see you there!

Thursday, July 28, 2016

Favorite Book Two Scenes

Part of my editing and revision process for Book Three includes re-reading Books One and Two. You know, to check for continuity (which eye was Darkeye missing again?), ensure consistency in tone, and to make sure I'm still following the overall series arc. While doing so, I was reminded of some of my favorite Book Two scenes, one of which I'll share with you today (I already shared one of my favorite Book One scenes in this post.)
Just like in that Book One scene, Joel and Felicity are sitting together, talking. This time, instead of being in the Forest of Light, they're on the beach at the Coast of Fang, waiting for [deleted, spoiler alert]. A lot of readers have told me that they also enjoy these quiet moments of one-on-one conversation, and I don't blame them - it's a nice respite from all of the slammin' action sequences, and it gives my two main stars a good opportunity to bond and show off some character development.

Like the climax scene of Book One, I wrote most of this one in advance. This time, though, I actually didn't know where it was going to end up fitting in the story, exactly. Fortunately, I found the perfect spot as I was cycling through the various drafts and versions of Book Two, and I was able to work it in there without missing a beat. So, without further ado, here it is...oh, but wait, it contains some possible spoilers for Book One, so I'll hide it under the jump break. If you've already read Book One but not Book Two, feel free to proceed!

Thursday, July 21, 2016

Book Three And Album Two Status Update

I know it's only been three weeks since the last status update, but I have exciting news to share: both Book Three and Album Two are done! At least, the heavy lifting parts are.
The second draft of Book Three clocked in at a robust 81,110 words, or roughly about 325 pages. I got all the way through the story outline and am really happy with the results. Now I'll be spending the rest of July polishing it up, and then it's off to my editor come August 1st. There will be, of course, more rounds of rewriting, but at least the initial full draft is complete. And ahead of schedule to boot! Super stoked.

I actually finished the draft last Friday, and then I took the weekend off before hitting the recording studio on Monday and Tuesday to track the last three songs for Second Player Score's upcoming sophomore album, Nobody's Hero. Our engineer will now be hard at work mixing and mastering them, and the cover art is well underway, so we are right on target for a fall release. Feels good to have those done, because we already have some new songs written for the third album that we want to really start diving into.

So that's the latest! Oh, and now would probably be a good time for me to announce some upcoming events that you can catch me at:

Sunday, July 31st, 11am-3pm
Autism Empowerment 2nd Annual Summer Potluck Picnic and Canned Food Drive
Salmon Creek Park/Klineline Pond
1112 NE 17th St
Vancouver, WA 98685
Free to attend, potluck item and/or canned food donations are encouraged
I - and possibly the other members of Second Player Score - will be there to play some acoustic jams for you all. More details here!

Saturday, August 6th, 10am-4pm
Wilsonville Fun In The Park 2016
Town Center Park
29250 SW Parkway Ct
Wilsonville, OR
Free admission
I - along with six other awesome local authors - will be there at the NIWA Children's Author Reading Booth, reading, signing, and selling books. More details here!

Saturday, August 6th (yes, the same day as Fun In The Park), 9pm-12am
The Adarna/The Shrike/Second Player Score at Ash Street Saloon
225 SW Ash St
Portland, OR 97204
I - and definitely the other members of Second Player Score - will be there to play a loud and rockin' set opening for local luminaries The Shrike and, all the way from Seattle, The Adarna. More details here!

Tuesday, July 12, 2016

Movie Roundup: A Harrowing Age of Seafood Wars

Here we go with another installment of Movie Roundup! In case you've missed some of the previous editions, these posts are where I share my thoughts on movies that I've watched recently, all neatly packaged into nice little easy-to-digest blurbs. They're not really reviews per se, although if you've been following this blog for a while and you find that your tastes run similar to mine, then sure, you might find some value in my opinions. Otherwise, just take what I say with a grain of salt. And, as always, there will be spoilers.

X-Men: Age of Apocalypse
You know what? I loved this movie. I know it got bad reviews. I don't care. Angel listening to Metallica's "Four Horsemen" when Poe Dameron - I mean, Apocalypse - comes to recruit him? Hilarious! That little scene with Jean and Scott and Logan when Scott says "Hope that's the last we see of that guy"? Also hilarious! I also love that they gave Professor X a semi-heroic, plot-related reason for becoming bald, as opposed to just falling asleep in Cerebro one day and accidentally frying off all of his hair.

Finding Dory
Cute, fun, pleasant...I dunno, it was okay, I guess. I think I'm probably the only person in the world who didn't absolutely love love love Finding Nemo (I'm not gonna even link to it because I know you already know all about it). And you think I would have, because it's about a dad and his son and it's a quest story and it has sharks and explosions and stuff. Oh well. I did like the octopus in this new one, though, especially the part when he's driving the car. Kinda reminded me of Octodad.

The Lobster
Since we're on the subject of seafood - I mean, marine life - I figure I'll talk about this one. This is a completely non-kid-friendly film that may also be non-people-in-general-friendly as well if you don't appreciate dark humor or quirky, artsy cinema. Not to sound like a hipster, but I really enjoyed it. Very powerful, poignant stuff that is also very funny in a laugh-at-yourself-because-it's-painfully-true kind of way. There were many moments when I felt like it was actively mocking me. I also snorted at one point. Oh, and weeooo weeooo spoiler alert spoiler alert at no time does an actual lobster appear.

And now back to the kid-friendly portion of our show! Okay, so as opposed to Dory, which got super great reviews but was just meh-all-right-that-wasn't-bad to me, this one got super great reviews that I completely agreed with. Great animation, great story, just...great. No, seriously. Amazing, fun, super-entertaining movie. I got so wrapped up in it that I totally did not see the whole actual-bad-guy twist coming until it had already hit me in the face. Highly, highly recommended.

This movie was very confusing to me, mostly because of two reasons: (1) I've never played the Warcraft game before (I know, gasp), and (2) I went to see it after eating Korean barbecue at J-Town in Portland, so I was falling asleep from time to time. I should probably give it another chance on an empty stomach once it comes out on DVD.

Non-kid-friendly, even though it stars a kid - who does an excellent job, by the way - and contains scenes where he's watching Dora the Explorer. I had read the book so I already kind of knew what to expect, but I was wondering how they were going to pull it off because so much of the story, like The Hunger Games, takes place inside of the protagonist's head. Suffice it to say that they did an excellent job. Twenty minutes in I said to myself, "man, this is harrowing" and later when I looked up reviews of the film, most if not all of them also contained the word "harrowing." Maybe that should have been the title. Hard to watch at times, but brilliant and totally worth it.

Coming up next time, possibly: Life, Animated, The Secret Life of Pets, Ghostbusters, Star Trek Beyond, Suicide Squad, Nine Lives (if I can get my daughter out of the house to see it - I told her "It's about a man who gets magically turned into a cat. A man! Who gets turned into a cat! Don't you want to see this?"), Kubo and the Two Strings (which looks to be part of the grand pantheon of stories that contain magical musical instruments, wink wink I wonder what else I could be talking about), and yes, Sausage Party. Man, it's gonna be a busy summer...