Thursday, April 28, 2016

The Spectraland Saga: Origin Story, Part Five

Read parts one through four here:
Part One
Part Two
Part Three
Part Four

After I started composing the first draft of Book One in late December of 2010, I set a goal for myself: I would write an average of 400 words a day, no matter what else was going on in my life. If that meant I had to stay up late or wake up early - or both - then so be it. It sounded pretty daunting at the time. Apparently, though, the ideas just came flowing out, because somehow, I was able to finish an 80,000-word draft by the end of April 2011 (appropriately, Autism Awareness Month) - which was more like a 650-700 word-a-day pace.
It's not how fast you write, it's how well you write fast
Naturally, a lot of that draft was utter garbage. I had an entire chapter near the beginning devoted to how Joel got his job at Art's guitar store in the first place, which was kinda interesting - to me, anyway - but really had nothing relevant to add to the story as a whole. Basically, the draft meandered around a lot, and it took a while before Joel even got to Spectraland at all. My friend and fellow author Roslyn McFarland, who was one of my beta readers, said something to the effect of: "It's a little hard to tell where this book is going, or what it's about." My son, another beta reader, was even more direct. After I gave him the draft, a few weeks went by and he didn't say a word about it. So, one day I asked him: "Hey, uh...have you read the book yet?" Him, somewhat sheepishly: "Well, I started it, but...I got kinda bored."

Well, then! Quickly realizing that they were right, I went back and axed a good 5,000 words or so from the beginning of the book and rewrote the first few chapters. The result was a first act that moved along a lot quicker and firmly established the story as a portal fantasy (Narnia, etc.) and not some weird dissertation about how a teenage kid should go about finding employment. So, in the immortal words of Emmet Brickowski, everything is awesome now, right?

Next: Rewriting...Will It Ever End?

P.S. If you've read Book One (the final version), please take a few minutes to leave a review of it at its Amazon page here. Ditto for Book Two. Mahalo!

Thursday, April 21, 2016

Book Three Status Update, Autism Awareness Month Edition

I am happy to announce that the second draft of Book Three has reached...(drum roll)...30,000 words. Woo!
Okay, yeah, I know, you're thinking - but wait, Brian, just four weeks ago, you said that you were at 50,000 words. What the heck? You're going backwards, not forwards!

But that, my friends, is the writing process at work. That 50,000-word first draft, in this case, really just existed to help me find my bearings with regards to the story as a whole, and now I feel that I'm on much more solid footing when it comes to where I want to go with this next installment of the Spectraland Saga. And trust me, I'm still way, waaaay ahead of where I was at a similar juncture when I was working on Book Two, so all is good. I'm really happy with where things are at this point, and I'm confident that all of you will enjoy the end result ("But will we?" asks Felicity. Good question...)

On another subject, if you haven't yet registered for Autism Empowerment's 1st Annual Bowling Tournament coming up this weekend, it's not too late! Just go to this link here and sign up. It's easy, fun, and helps out a great cause, so I hope to see you all there!

Thursday, April 14, 2016

Maiden Tacoma

This past Monday, I finally got a chance to fulfill a life-long goal: to see Iron Maiden, live in concert!
As I mentioned before, Iron Maiden is basically responsible for my wanting to pick up a guitar in the first place. So, as you can imagine, I was pretty stoked when they were scheduled to play in Hawaii, back when I was a teenager. I was also in the high school band, though, and unfortunately, we had to play at a football game on the same night of the concert, so I didn't get to go (later I found out that some of the seniors in the band skipped out on the game to go to the concert. Dangit!)

At the time I figured, ah well, there'll be more opportunities. But then as the years rolled by, they didn't come back to Hawaii, Bruce Dickinson left the band, and another chance to see them never materialized. Even after Bruce rejoined, the stars never really aligned, and I began to think that perhaps I wouldn't ever get to see what I consider to be my favorite band of all time.

So you can imagine my excitement when, about six months ago, I heard that their latest tour was going to be coming through Tacoma, Washington, just a two-hour drive from Vancouver! And it was on a night that I could go! My bandmates in Second Player Score are also fans, so we snapped up some tickets and patiently waited for the big day to arrive.

And arrive it did. We drove up in the afternoon, found parking by the arena, and went to have dinner at a nearby restaurant. Then we went in, bought the requisite overpriced concert T-shirts, and found our seats. After an opening band that featured the son of Maiden's bass player, the moment I had been waiting so many years for was finally here: I was going to see Iron Maiden!

They played a set that was about half newer stuff, half old stuff (what Bruce amusingly called "legacy songs"), and it was great. Yeah, they were a bit loose, and Adrian Smith and Dave Murray kind of annoyed me by not playing the old solos note-for-note, but I still had a great time.

So I guess the moral of this story is: never give up on your goals, because one day you just might accomplish them. Or maybe it's: don't worry if you miss an opportunity, because one day you just might get a second chance. Or I dunno, something like that. I'm still trying to recover from sleep deprivation...

P.S. If you haven't already, check out this video of the Spectraland All-Star Jam Band playing a cover of Iron Maiden's "The Trooper" (it starts around the 4:35 mark) at the Book One relaunch party back in 2013!

Thursday, April 7, 2016

24 Hours For Autism

As many of you already know, April is Autism Awareness Month. Which is, like, seven hundred and twenty hours of autism awareness! And for twenty-four of those hours, my friends over at Neue Regel Radio will be holding their 3rd annual radiothon called 24 Hours For Autism, where live DJs will be taking requests in exchange for your donations.
The radiothon will start tomorrow, Friday the 8th, at 9am Pacific/12pm Eastern, and will run until 10pm Pacific on Saturday the 9th (1am Sunday for those of you in the Eastern time zone). If that seems like more than twenty-four hours, so what? That just gives you more time to tune in and donate $5 for 3 requests, $20 for 3 requests and a swag pack (which may include a copy of Fortress Storm Attack by Second Player Score, a Second Player Score T-shirt, and/or Books 1 and 2 of The Spectraland Saga), or $50 for 5 requests, a Neue Regel Radio T-shirt, and a deluxe swag pack!

And speaking of The Spectraland Saga, I'll be the subject of a special guest interview on Friday night at 6:30pm Pacific with none other than DJ Kyelzbub, the maestro of the awesome Northwest Xposure show that airs every Thursday night on Neue Regel. We'll be talking about books, music, autism, and all kinds of other stuff, so be sure to check it out!

Thursday, March 31, 2016

Strike It Up...

...for Autism Acceptance! Autism Empowerment is holding its first annual Bowl-A-Thon fundraiser, and everyone is invited!
It will be held on Sunday, April 24th, from 12pm-5pm at Husted's Hazel Dell Lanes here in Vancouver. To ensure that we reserve enough lanes, we ask that you please register in advance, which you can do at this link. Simply click on the big ol' green "Get Tickets" button, and the rest will be self-explanatory! There will be prizes, awards, and a whole lot of fun. So what are you waiting for? Go to the registration page now!

Thursday, March 24, 2016

Major Book Three Status Update

Last week I promised you a "major Book Three status update," so here it is: it's done!
Well, the first draft of it is, anyway (insert disappointed cat face here). Seems that as I was pursuing my strategy of full-speed-ahead writing-without-stopping, I ended up breezing through big sections of the story without really fleshing them out, and as a result, I found myself at the end of my outline at around 50,000 words. There are some presently hilarious parts in Acts II and III where Joel and company find themselves in a huge jam one moment, and then - presto! - they're bailed out of it faster than you can say "deus ex machina."

The good news, though, is that completing this step represents major progress. No, really, it does! Because this draft, as incomplete as it is, has now made certain things clear enough that I've been able to go back and expand my original outline into full-blown detailed chapter summaries - a lot of which sounds much better than what I've already written. So now, armed with that, I can go back and (deep breath) start the joyous process of rewriting and revision. Still on track for a 2017 release...

Stay tuned for more updates!

Thursday, March 17, 2016

READCON Recap, SPS In The Studio, And More!

READCON was epic! I had a really great time. Torin wore his Joel Suzuki costume, Melody wore her Toriel costume (which she won 3rd place in the costume contest with!), and everything was so much fun.
The 12th Doctor (or 13th?) meets Joel Suzuki
I was especially happy and honored to meet Peter, who reportedly had read both Book One and Book Two in just a few days. Peter also reads physics textbooks for fun! Such an awesome dude. I tried my best to keep up with him in a conversation about the recent confirmation of Einstein's theory about gravitational waves, but he was just too smart for me.
Me and Peter
Super big mahalos go out to Paul Warner, Shahala Middle School, Autism Empowerment, and my friends Davetta Price and Stacey Stein for setting this all up. Not to mention everyone who came out and supported some really great causes (namely, the Shahala Middle School library and the aforementioned Autism Empowerment.) I really hope I get a chance to do this again. If you want to see more pictures from the event, check out the Spectraland Saga's Facebook page here!

This weekend, my band Second Player Score will be returning to the studio to record three more songs. Can't wait! We've been boot-camping really hard, so we feel pretty ready to lay these tracks down. The songs that we'll be doing are "Origin Story," "Head Of Sin," and "Drink The Poison." Along with the five others that we've recorded already, and the three more that we'll be doing this summer, these songs will make up our second album, tentatively titled Nobody's Hero, which is slated for release in the fall.

It's been a while since I've done a video game update, so just to let you know what's up...I'm still grinding away at Xenoblade Chronicles X. I got to the end of the story part of the game (spoilers ahead, turn back now) and realized that I'm nowhere near the level of strength I need to be at to properly finish it off, so I've gone back into grind mode - completing missions, leveling up, etc. I figure that I need to have level 50 skells to beat the final boss (I've glimpsed a few sites that say that maybe even that's not enough, but seriously, I don't want to know), so it's gonna be a while. In the meantime, Twilight Princess for the Wii U came out, so yikes! Naturally, that game has gone straight into rotation, so it may be even longer before I actually "finish" (I don't know if anybody ever really "finishes") Xenoblade.

Just a quick note about Gravity Falls: from an emotional fanboy standpoint, I'm sad that it's over, but from a practical writer's standpoint, I'm glad that they decided to go out on a high note when the show was really reaching its peak. Kind of like The Police. The show was - and is - a major source of bonding for me and my daughter (we still quote lines from it to each other all the time), and for that, it'll always have a special place in...whoa, sappiness alert! Yeah, um, so, if you haven't seen it yet, be sure to check it out! (I'm sure they'll be releasing the whole series on DVD/Blu-Ray soon).

Coming next week - a major Book Three status update!