Friday, June 23, 2017

A Letter To My Son

Dear Torin,

Congratulations on graduating from high school! I am super proud (pronounced "prood," according to Richard Watterson) of you.
As a newly-minted high school graduate, I'm sure you'll be receiving life advice from a number of different sources, myself included. In fact, if what I've done so far is any indication, you've probably already been inundated with all sorts of guidance and recommendations from teachers and parents and peers and so on and so forth. Why, it was just the other day when I said something along the lines of  "if you follow your feelings, you won't have any regrets, because you'll know that whatever you did was based on what you felt was right at the time." (I might need to work on that one a little.)

Life advice can also come from songs, books, movies, and other popular media. Like, for example, "Do or do not. There is no try" or "Do not pity the dead, Harry. Pity the living" or "Oh well, whatever, never mind." And I'm not sure if you've noticed, but the Joel Suzuki books are no exception - they're practically bursting at the seams with little nuggets of wisdom that I implanted into the story, sometimes subtly, sometimes not. Here are a few of my favorites (imagine these being read over an ambient music track a la "Everybody's Free to Wear Sunscreen"):

"Happiness is a state of mind." - Art, Secret of the Songshell

"Oftentimes, the journey is just as important, if not more so, than the destination." - Fireflower, Mystery of the Moonfire

"Worrying is a waste of time." - Art, Secret of the Songshell

"Don't be afraid to say what's on your mind, or to say how you feel about stuff." - Felicity, Mystery of the Moonfire

"Even though events happen that are beyond our control, ultimately, we are still the ones who decide upon our own direction." - Keeper of the Light, Legend of the Loudstone

"Stay in the moment. Have faith." - Nineteen, Secret of the Songshell

And so on. The thing to remember, though - and this is me giving advice about taking advice - is to listen to all of these messages, digest them, and then decide in the end what is really right for you and your life. Because what works for one person doesn't necessarily work for another, and sometimes learning through experience is the best way to go.

Anyway, congratulations again!

- Love, Dad

P.S. I know you already have your own copies of these, but in case anyone else out there wants their own, here's where to get them:

Joel Suzuki, Volume One: Secret of the Songshell
Joel Suzuki, Volume Two: Mystery of the Moonfire
Joel Suzuki, Volume Three: Legend of the Loudstone

Thursday, June 15, 2017

A Nerd's List of Reasons To Keep On Going

Hi, I'm Art. Some of you may know me as the owner of Art's Guitars, where my pal Joel Suzuki used to work. Some of you may know me as the drummer in Joel's band, or as the guy dating his mom (I know that might sound a little weird, but in case you weren't aware, Joel's mom and I are both 40-something-year-old divorcees). Here's a picture from the movie The Rocker, which sort of approximates Joel's band in that both feature a middle-aged drummer - they have Rainn Wilson, Joel has me - surrounded by incredibly talented teenagers.
Anyway, I'm apparently the guest blogger this week filling in for Mr. Brian Tashima, who said that he was busy working on something called "Volume Four" (no idea what that is). I was originally going to write a long post about philosophy, or about simulated realities, but then I realized that I'm not really a writer, so I'll just give you a list instead.

See, I believe that as a whole, life is good, despite the numerous hardships we all face from time to time, and that there's always something to look forward to, some reasons to keep on going, even if and when you don't feel like it. Now, the kids in the band and I are all heavily into what is called "nerd" or "geek" culture, so this list will contain some reasons specifically tailored for people just like us. And by the way, this list is by no means comprehensive - it's really just the tip of the iceberg. If you have anything you want to add to it, I'm sure Brian won't mind if you leave a comment or two. Enjoy.

A Nerd's List of Reasons to Keep On Going (as of June 15, 2017)

1. Loved ones
2. Spider-Man: Homecoming
3. The Legend of Zelda concert, coming to a town near you
4. Helping others
5. The next Comic-Con
6. Xbox One X
7. Delicious burritos
8. Cat videos
9. Finding out who the 13th Doctor will be
10. The third album by Second Player Score (Brian asked me to include that)
11. The day the Seattle Mariners (or whoever your favorite team is) finally get back to the playoffs (or win another championship, if you're lucky enough to be a fan of a good team)
12. Star Wars Episode VIII
13. Star Wars Episode IX
14: All the Star Wars movies that Disney will undoubtedly continue to produce after that
15. The fact that you are awesome
16. The weekend
17. The sun, if you like the sun, or snow, if you like snow
18. Your next vacation
19. Chocolate (not too much, just enough to keep away the Dementors)
20. Xenoblade Chronicles 2

That's it for now. Thanks for reading!

-- Art

(Editor's Note: like what Art has to say? You can hear more of his philosophies on life by reading the first three installments of the Joel Suzuki series, listed below.)

Thursday, June 8, 2017

Statii Update

What follows is a status update on a number of different things. So would that make this post a "statuses update?" or - as Starfire might say - an "update of the statuses?" or a "statii update"? Statii isn't a real word, but I like how it looks and sounds, so I'm going to go with that.
Starfire, not to be confused with Fireflower
Book Update:
On Tuesday Joel, Felicity and I continued our Epic School Tour '17 with a visit to the awesome and appropriately-named Woodland High School in Woodland, WA. That was the farthest out we've traveled so far for a school visit, if you don't count the ones that we've done via Skype (in which case Sweden is the farthest).
We were there all day and spoke to several different classes, all of whom were terrific. Big thanks go out to Aaron Blackwelder and all the students and staff for hosting us. Hope to be back next year!

Volume Four is progressing at a good clip. At the last update on May 11, I was at 22,000 words, and now I'm at 28,000. I think, if I can stick to my daily schedule, I stand an outside chance of finishing the first draft sometime before the holidays, which would be comfortably ahead of schedule. Wish me luck!

Band Update:
Continuing with the "tour" theme, Second Player Score played its first out-of-town show at the Axe & Fiddle in Cottage Grove, OR a couple of weeks ago, and it was super fun. Everyone there was really cool and welcoming, the crowd (and soundman!) was great, and the other band that we played with - Sojourner, from Eugene, OR - rocked the house. I love their music, you should check them out.
With that show concluded, we turned our attention to Boot Camp 2017 and started tracking demos for the first three songs of Glorified, our upcoming third album. The songs in question are entitled "Eye of the Needle," "Liberty's End," and "Desolation." We have studio time booked in July and can't wait to get these tunes recorded. We've also started some work on the Glorified graphic novel; a draft of the script for the first eight pages has been written. Is anyone out there a comic book/graphic novel artist that can do something along the lines of I Kill Giants? If so, contact us immediately, we want to give you money.

TV Update:
Doctor Who. Loving the new season so far (yes, even last week's fake-out regeneration). Peter Capaldi, why do you have to go? Actually, I'm pretty sure I know why, but it's still a bummer.
Really want to watch The Handmaid's Tale (I've read the book), but don't want to subscribe to Hulu just for that. Maybe I can hold out until the season is over and then just buy it on DVD or something. Maybe.

I don't want to subscribe to Hulu mainly because those budget dollars are already spoken for when I break down and finally subscribe to Netflix so that my daughter and I can watch the second season of Miraculous Ladybug. Which is starting...soon, I think?

Video Game Update (WARNING: SPOILERS FOR BREATH OF THE WILD ALONG WITH RAMBLING RUN-ON SENTENCES):
I defeated Ganon. Mostly by accident. I actually didn't mean to, honestly. The night it happened, I told my daughter "Okay, I'm tired of working so hard, tonight I'm just going to wander around Hyrule Castle and scope it out, you know, do some recon, see what's going on, and then tomorrow or whatever I'll go back and get serious." But then after wandering around for a bit, I somehow found myself in an area called the Sanctum and then Zelda started talking to me and a big swirly thing started to manifest in the middle of the space and I was like whoa am I actually at the final boss fight already how the heck did that happen?
So then I figured, okay, since I'm here I might as well just give it a shot, I'll fight Ganon without looking at the walkthrough and just sort of learn what I need to do the next time I'm back and am actually taking this seriously. I assumed I would just die a quick and frustrating death (or three) and then quit for the evening.

But then something weird happened. Despite not knowing what I was doing most of the time (turns out what I was doing was mostly wrong) I somehow managed to make it past the first stage. And then the second. And then I got thrust into the third stage and by that time I was like "Well all right since I'm here I might as well try and see this whole thing through." And you know what? Despite still continuing to do mostly all the wrong stuff I managed to fake my way through it well enough that I beat him and finished the game. I was not expecting that at all.

Anyway, as it turns out, once you beat Ganon the game gives you a star (woo!) and a completion percentage on the map screen telling you how much of the game you've actually finished. Seeing as how I had 116 of 120 shrines and a decent amount of side quests completed, I thought "Okay, my percentage will probably be somewhere around 60-70%." Right? Um, no. I was at a measly 24%. I guess all the billions of Korok seeds that I haven't yet found might have something to do with it (if there are so many of them, why are they so hard to find? Arrrgh). So the moral of this story is that I have a ways to go still, which thank goodness because I need a game to play until Xenoblade Chronicles 2 comes out "sometime in 2017" (oh Monolift Soft/Nintendo, why do you torture us so?) We finally have our Switch, so we're ready. Let's do this.

P.S. Please consider checking out the books in the Joel Suzuki series because they contain much less run-on sentences (trust me, my editor makes sure of that). Mahalo.

Joel Suzuki, Volume One: Secret of the Songshell
Joel Suzuki, Volume Two: Mystery of the Moonfire
Joel Suzuki, Volume Three: Legend of the Loudstone

Thursday, June 1, 2017

How to Balance Your Life, Part Three

This three-part series entitled "How to Balance Your Life" talks about how I manage to get stuff done while juggling all the different aspects of my existence. If you haven't read parts one and two yet, either scroll down or go here for part one and here for part two.

So this week I'll be wrapping up this trilogy by going over the circle at the top left, which represents - for lack of a better word - "Work" (if you can come up with a better word after reading this post, please let me know by leaving a comment. Thanks!)

By "work" I mean not only a job but also your passions and interests, so this circle can include hobbies as well. In my case, my "work" circle is divided into three parts: book, band, and my day occupation as a cat herder UFO watcher financial analyst.

So really, this part is all pretty self-explanatory. My minimum daily "book" goals are (1) writing 500 words, (2) reading a chapter of someone else's book, and (3) doing at least one thing to spread the word about Joel Suzuki (which includes my support for Autism Empowerment). Once those are done, a section gets lit up.
Now, there are days in which unforeseen circumstances (e.g. "life") prevent me from reaching these goals. When that happens, I try to at least do something - write 100 words, read two pages, whatever. And then I make up for it the next day, or the day after that. As long as it all averages out over time.

The same goes for the other two sections. For the band, whatever we have going on at the time usually takes priority, so my daily goal could be changing my strings for an upcoming show, writing lyrics, working on a solo in preparation for recording, etc.
And finally, there's showing up for work (those UFOs aren't gonna watch themselves.)
So that's it! A successful day. I've taken care of self (physical/mental/spiritual), home (family/friends/household), and work (book/band/job), and I'll be ready to do it again tomorrow.

Another benefit of this system I want to mention is that it gives you an incentive to spend at least some time on all the aspects of your life over the course of any particular day. For example, if for whatever reason I skip my daily workout in the morning, then there'll be this glaring empty space in my bottom circle staring at me, and as I get other stuff done it'll still be there, looking lonely and unattended to. So then finally I'll be like, "oh, all right, I guess I've lit up these other sections so I might as well take care of you now."

Anyway, I hope you found this series of posts beneficial, or, at the very least, mildly entertaining and/or informative. I showed you how I apply this system to my own life, but of course it can be adapted to whatever your own individual circumstances are. If you have any questions about it or want to say something completely unrelated, feel free to leave a comment!

Oh, and please consider checking out the Joel Suzuki series if you haven't done so already. If you have, thank you! Now, if you could just leave a review on Amazon (a single sentence will suffice), that would be greatly appreciated as well. Why? Because it's the right thing to do.
(The fast-talking guy at the end of the commercial says: support for the Joel Suzuki series translates directly into support for Autism Empowerment as well as a general culture of acceptance for people of all abilities.)

Joel Suzuki, Volume One: Secret of the Songshell
Joel Suzuki, Volume Two: Mystery of the Moonfire
Joel Suzuki, Volume Three: Legend of the Loudstone

Thursday, May 25, 2017

How to Balance Your Life, Part Two

This three-part series entitled "How to Balance Your Life" goes into detail about how I get stuff done while juggling all the different aspects of my existence. If you haven't read part one yet, either scroll down or go here.

Ready? Okay, here we go. This week, as promised, I'll go over the circle at the top right, which represents "Home." According to science-y articles and books that I've read, humans are social creatures and need to interact with other humans. We also need, for whatever reason, things like food, water, clothing, and shelter. Thus, this "Home" section is divided up into the following three sections: friends, family, and household.

Lighting up the "friends" section means basically what you would guess it means, which is having contact with people you get along with (unless you guessed that it meant binge-watching reruns of the TV series Friends, in which case you're only sort of correct). Writing is a solitary activity, so for me, there could be days in which I don't actually see any of my friends in person. So that's where social media comes in. Or texting. Or email. Or even an ancient activity known as "calling on the phone." This section can also encompass - gasp - dating-related activities, like swiping right, making awkward small talk with the barista, or chastising yourself for not having the courage to make small talk with the barista (only kidding about that last one. Mostly.)
Moving on! Whereas lighting up the "friends" section means having contact with people you get along with (or could theoretically get along with, if only they would give you their phone number), lighting up the "family" section means having contact with people you don't get along with. Again, I am kidding. Mostly. In my case, this includes taking care of and hanging out with my kids (who, by the way, I do get along with) and my cats (who I get along with 70-75% of the time). For other people, this can include having a date night with your spouse, or playing golf with your siblings.
Finally, lighting up the "household" section means doing all the little things you need to do to maintain your place of residence and everything associated with it, from taking out the rubbish to buying new socks. For me, most of the daily activities in this area (e.g. washing dishes, scooping out the litter box) are on auto-pilot, so I just have a list of the more sporadic tasks - grocery shopping, mowing the lawn - that I'll consult to see if any of them need doing on a particular day.
And there you have it! Two of the circles on the Life Compass have been lit up, so you're well on your way to having a balanced and productive day. Next week, I'll finish up this little trilogy by going over the top left circle, which represents, for lack of a better word, "Work."

Haven't started reading any of the books in the Joel Suzuki series yet? That's okay, I still consider you my friend since you're here, reading this blog. But still, you might want to check them out. Why? Because they're fun, and because for every Joel Suzuki book that is sold, I donate one dollar to Autism Empowerment.

Joel Suzuki, Volume One: Secret of the Songshell
Joel Suzuki, Volume Two: Mystery of the Moonfire
Joel Suzuki, Volume Three: Legend of the Loudstone

Thursday, May 18, 2017

How to Balance Your Life, Part One

Sometimes I get asked how I manage to write books, record albums, play shows, serve on Autism Empowerment's Board of Directors, herd cats, be a single dad, etc., all with what is - most of the time, anyway - a decent amount of proficiency. My answer is usually something along the lines of "sleep is overrated" or "time machine" but the truth is actually a bit more down-to-earth: applied geekery.
Allow me to explain. The above illustration (and I use that term loosely) is what I call "The Life Compass." Inspired by things like the Legend of Zelda's Triforce and Harry Potter's Deathly Hallows symbol, it's what I use to organize and accomplish my tasks on a daily basis while making sure that I maintain a sense of balance between everything I do so that nothing gets neglected.

Here's how it works. Each circle - I like to call them spheres, actually, but I realize that the picture is two-dimensional - represents a facet of life and is divided up into three sections each. The basic idea is to "light up" or "fill in" each section as you go through your day, with the goal of lighting up all nine sections by the time you go to sleep at night. Kind of like a real-life video game, I feel that it's an effective method for those of us who enjoy checking off a list of the quests you need to finish to get to the next level.

This week, I'll go over the bottom circle, which represents "Self" and is divided into the following three sections: physical, mental, and spiritual. It's at the bottom because it represents the foundation of your life - you need to take care of yourself first before you move on to anything else. That may sound like common sense, but you'd be surprised as to how many people neglect this part of the compass while overemphasizing others; e.g. working fifteen-hour days while not eating right, etc.

Lighting up the physical section means doing whatever it is you do to maintain your standard of physical well-being. For me, it's doing a thirty-minute workout with free weights. For others, it might be a jog around the block. Whatever works for you in your own particular situation.
Next, lighting up the mental section involves what I call "getting your head on straight." Making sure you're facing the day with the best possible attitude. It's not always easy - in fact, for me, I find this part more challenging than the physical section - but I think it's important to do whatever you can even when circumstances make it difficult. It can be accomplished by listing everything you have to be thankful for, saying some mantras or affirmations, or even just taking a few deep breaths. I'm not a mental health expert, but my own personal experience has taught me that doing this really helps to set a proper tone for the day, enabling me to be much more productive than I would have been otherwise. (Note: if you're dealing with serious anxiety or depression issues - and I have loved ones who are - please seek professional assistance. I'm just a science fiction writer).
The last section of the Self circle is the spiritual part. That can mean religion, but it doesn't have to. This is just where you do whatever it is you do to understand your place and purpose in the world and achieve some form of comfort and contentment. Maybe it's by saying a prayer. Or meditating. Or performing a good deed.
Now your Self circle has been fully lit up, and you're ready to move on to the other, equally important aspects of your life. For me, I like to get this part done before breakfast, so my usual routine includes getting up (or being woken up by the cats) early, working out, and then doing my mental and spiritual exercises while I'm taking a shower and getting dressed (multitasking in a safe and responsible way is part of the key to getting a lot of things done).

Next week, I'll go over the circle at the top right, which represents "Home."

For more life advice (albeit cleverly hidden within a fun sci-fi/fantasy adventure), check out the Joel Suzuki series, which features a mentor-like character quoting both Thoreau and Axl Rose and a chapter entitled "How to Talk to Girls."

Joel Suzuki, Volume One: Secret of the Songshell
Joel Suzuki, Volume Two: Mystery of the Moonfire
Joel Suzuki, Volume Three: Legend of the Loudstone

Thursday, May 11, 2017

Volume Four Status Update

Despite the flurry of recent activity surrounding the release of Volume Three, I've somehow managed to get some work done on Volume Four. I think it's important to keep writing on a regular basis no matter what, even if all you produce in a day is a single sentence.
No, not that Vol. 4
At the last status update a couple of months ago, I said that I was at 16,000 words. Now, I'm officially at 22,000. However, that doesn't include a bunch of stuff that I wrote, cut, put back in, and then cut again. If you included all of that, I would actually be somewhere around 27,000-28,000.

What happened was that I reached a point in the story where I thought, "Oh, wait a minute...I don't think I want to go in that direction after all. I want to go in this direction instead!" Which wasn't so much a complete shift as it was more of a "let's keep the plot the same but just with different characters in different settings" sort of change. Still, though, it required that I delete a bunch of stuff and rewrite some earlier passages just to get everything back on track. Trust me, even if you work from an outline, this kind of thing can and will occur. With frightening regularity.

The good news is that I'm still on schedule, possibly even a little ahead. After all, Volume Four isn't due out until 2019. In the meantime, please enjoy Volume Three (and One and Two if you haven't already done so), leave reviews of said volumes on Amazon and Goodreads, join the Wavemaker Order, and do all of the usual cool stuff that you always do. Joel, Felicity, Torin and I really appreciate everyone's support. As Ozzy always says, we love you all.

Thursday, May 4, 2017

Star Wars Day Roundtable

Happy May the 4th! To celebrate this great holiday, I decided to get together with Joel and Felicity and have a little Star Wars roundtable discussion. Their friend from Spectraland, Fireflower, just so happened to be in town as well, so I invited her to join us. Without further ado!
Felicity: How long is this going to take?
Brian: I don't know. Do you need to be somewhere?
F: Not really, I'm just bored.
B: We haven't even started yet.
Fireflower: Excuse me, but...
B: Yes?
FF: What, exactly, is this "Star Wars" you talk about?
B: Joel, you wanna field that one?
Joel: Um, well...Star Wars is...it's a whole bunch of things, actually. I'm not really sure where to start.
F: Here, I got it. (tapping on phone) Wikipedia says that it's "an American epic space opera franchise, centered on a film series created by George Lucas."
FF: Thank you, but...I am still not sure what any of that means.
F: It's a story. You know, like that one about the most powerful Wavemaker who ever lived, that sort of thing.
FF: Ah, I see.
B: All right, so how about we start with everyone ranking their favorite episodes.
J: Like, from most to least favorite?
B: Yeah.
J: And are we including Episode VII?
B: Sure.
J: What about Rogue One?
B: Okay.
F: Why don't you go first, since this is your idea.
B: Fine. Four, Five, Seven, Rogue, Six, Three, Two, One. Now, you.
F: Joel, you go. I need to grab a soda.
J: Um, okay. Five, Four, Rogue, Seven, Three, Six, Two, One.
B: Three over Six, eh? Why?
J: The duels at the end of Three were pretty cool. Plus, Ewoks are kind of annoying.
F: (Coming back with soda in one hand, offers Joel a high-five with the other) Well said, dude.
J: (Returning the high-five) Thanks.
B: All right, Felicity, your turn.
F: Hmm...I like One the best. So awesome.
J: What?
F: Dude, I'm kidding. It's Five, Rogue, Three, Seven, Four, and then the rest just sort of blend together.
B: You seem to like all the ones with the least happy endings.
F: (Takes sip of soda) Of course.
FF: This is all truly fascinating, but I really should be returning to Spectraland. I think several months may have passed by over there during my time here...
F: That's a good point, I'll go with you.
J: Um, I probably should, too.
B: But we just got started!
F: And we covered a lot of ground. Later, man.
B: No, wait, I -
FF: (Plays transfer incantation on wavebow. Within seconds, she, Joel, and Felicity all vanish in a cloud of Aura energy.)

Ugh, why can't I ever get them to sit still for more than a few minutes at a time? Well, anyway, I guess that's it for the Star Wars roundtable. Have a great rest of the day, and tune in next week for a Volume Four status update!

Thursday, April 27, 2017

What A Weekend!

As the idiom goes, a picture is worth a thousand words. If that's true, does that mean I could just slap together eighty some odd pictures in place of actually writing Volume Four? I doubt it. But I think for the purposes of this blog post, some pictures will do nicely!

Author Visit, Thursday April 20th, Mountain View High School
Launch Party #2, Saturday April 22nd, Kazoodles Toy Store
Autism Empowerment's 2nd Annual Bowl-A-Thon, Sunday April 23rd, Husted's Hazel Dell Lanes
Be sure to tune in next week, when I will go back to writing some actual words!

Thursday, April 20, 2017

All Kinds of Cool Stuff Going On

Launch Party #1 for Volume Three was epic! Big thanks to Nate Merritt and everyone at Shanahan's for hosting us, Stab in the Dark and Cellar Door for rocking the house, Jonathan Chase and Shawna Reppert for being our special guest authors, and all of you for coming out and supporting Joel and Autism Empowerment. I had a great time, and I hope you did too.
In other news, we are proud and honored to be the cover story of Spectrums Magazine's Spring 2017 issue! Thanks so much to Karen, John, and everyone at Spectrums for featuring us. Check out the article here.
Later on today, I'll be doing an author visit at my son's school, Mountain View High. Hopefully I'll have some pictures for you in next week's post!

Then this Saturday the 22nd is Launch Party #2. This one is all ages, family friendly, and will take place from 4-6pm at Kazoodles Toy Store, 13503 SE Mill Plain Blvd, Vancouver WA. Bring the kids!

Later that same evening I will be at Shanahan's once again, this time with my other band Walk On Gray to help celebrate the birthday of my friend Dug Cox from The Brinksmen. This might be Walk On Gray's final performance, so check it out!

Then the Sunday after is Autism Empowerment's 2nd Annual Bowl-A-Thon from 12-5pm at Husted's Hazel Dell Lanes, 6300 NE Hwy 99, Vancouver WA. Spots are still open, so sign up here!

Whew - that's a lot of stuff happening (and a lot of sentences that end in exclamation points)! Believe it or not, in between all of this I am also still working on Volume Four, so stay tuned for an upcoming status update...

Thursday, April 13, 2017

Volume Three Is Here!

I am happy and proud to announce that Joel Suzuki, Volume Three: Legend of the Loudstone, is now officially released!
You can get your copy here. Or, if you happen to be in the Portland/Vancouver area, come to one or both of the upcoming launch parties on April 15th at Shanahan's or April 22nd at Kazoodles, where I will personally sign your copy and, if you so desire, shake your hand with great enthusiasm.

Remember, one dollar for every Joel Suzuki book sold (including Volumes One and Two) is donated to Autism Empowerment, so not only are you getting a fun adventure story to pass some time with, you're also supporting a great cause. And if you're already a fan of the series, don't forget to sign up for the Wavemaker Order here.

Oh, and in case you missed it, Torin and I were recently featured on KGW's Portland Today show as well as in The Columbian. Big mahalos go out to everybody at both fine institutions, including Drew Carney, Shelly Swanke, Scott Hewitt, Sam Wilson, Byron, and Amanda. You guys rock. As do all of you, my loyal blog readers. Hope to see you at the parties!

Thursday, April 6, 2017

Launch Party Bands

As always, the adult version of my book launch parties ("adult" meaning it takes place in a 21 and over venue) will feature some killer bands. In case you're not already familiar with them, here's a little primer:
Stab In The Dark
An awesome old-school punk rock outfit (think Social Distortion, the Misfits), I've been watching these guys play for a long time now and they never disappoint. Catchy melodies and lots of energy. Last time they played Shanahan's, they inspired a mosh pit!
Cellar Door
This Portland-based alt-rock group is a mainstay of DJ Kyelzbub's Northwest Exposure program on Neue Regel Radio, and for good reason. They have a great straight-ahead sound that is reminiscent of Pearl Jam, The Doors, and Kings of Leon. Can't wait to see their live show.
Second Player Score
Finishing up the night will be Vancouver, WA's own Second Player Score, a band that the Shanahan's manager has described as sounding like "Bad Religion, if Bad Religion wrote songs about video games." I have it on good authority that in addition to playing fan favorites off of their first two albums, they'll also be debuting some new songs that they've written for their third album, Glorified (due out in 2018).

So what is this 21 and over venue that will feature this awesome lineup, you ask? Well, it's the aforementioned Shanahan's, located at 209 W McLoughlin Blvd, Vancouver WA 98660. These bands and everyone else there will be helping me celebrate the launch of Joel Suzuki, Volume Three: Legend of the Loudstone, while also raising funds for Autism Empowerment. The night will start at 8pm and run til the wee hours of the morning (specifically, 1am). There's no cover charge, and these special guest authors will also be in attendance. Hope to see you all there!

Thursday, March 30, 2017

Spotlight on Guest Authors

If you've been to any of my previous book launch parties, then you know I like to feature the work of some special guest authors alongside mine. And the upcoming party for Volume Three will be no exception! So without further ado, I'd like to introduce them to you now:
Jonathan Chase is an author, speaker, consultant, musician, and magician (hey, like a real-life Wavemaker!) His new book, From Surviving to Thriving, is a guide for teachers to help them make accommodations for students on the autism spectrum. He also runs a super awesome foam sword group! Check out his website here.
Shawna Reppert is the award-winning, Amazon best-selling author of A Hunt by Moonlight and the Ravensblood series. She's also a fellow member of the Northwest Independent Writers Association and a previous guest author at one of Volume Two's launch parties. Check out her website here.

Wait, you say, when was this party happening again? I'm glad you asked! It'll be on Saturday, April 15th, from 8pm-1am at Shanahan's Pub and Grill in lovely downtown Vancouver, WA. It's a 21 and over event with no cover charge, and in addition to these special guest authors, we'll also have some rockin' bands in attendance, who I'll be featuring in the next blog post!
P.S. Tune in to 36 Hours For Autism (Neue Regel Radio's 4th Annual Radiothon) this weekend! I'll be on with DJ Kyelzbub at 4pm on Friday, but you can listen in any time at this link. You might even hear some band called Second Player Score...

Thursday, March 23, 2017

Movie Roundup: I Go To Extremes

Confession: I've always been a big Billy Joel fan. In fact, that's sort of how Joel Suzuki got his name. One of Joel's (Billy Joel's, that is, not Joel Suzuki's) songs, "I Go to Extremes," off of his Storm Front album, isn't one of my favorites - as the cliche goes, I like his older stuff more - but it does capture the theme of today's Movie Roundup quite nicely. Because for whatever reason, the last batch of films I've watched have veered from colorful kid-friendly fare to dark, grim adult stuff and then back again. It's enough to give a viewer some kind of metaphorical whiplash. Hence, the "I Go to Extremes" idea.

Anyway, in case this is your first Movie Roundup, here are ye olde standard disclaimers: (1) these are not really reviews, these are just my random thoughts about various movies I've seen, and (2) there may be massive spoilers, even to the point where I give away twists and endings and stuff. So with that out of the way, here we go!

Lego Batman
I enjoyed this one, although not quite as much as the Lego movie from which Lego Batman was spawned. It did make me really hungry for lobster thermidor, though, whatever that is. And the whole meta-ness of including Voldemort as a character while casting Ralph Fiennes as Alfred was pretty amusing. Favorite joke: "British robots - ask your nerd friends." Kid-friendliness rating: 92%.

Logan
The second-best movie in the X-Men franchise (there's just no beating Days of Future Past in my book), this one was almost as if Wolverine and Professor X stumbled into a horror/western flick and had to claw their way out of it (see what I did there? Okay, I can hear you groaning from here). Dark and violent from start to finish, this is definitely not one to take your young kids to. It paints a future so bleak it makes you wonder if Logan and Charles would've actually preferred the other future with all the sentinels and stuff, because at least in that one they got to wear cool futuristic suits and go out in (almost literal) blazes of glory. If all of what I just said makes it seem like I'm down on this movie, I'm not - it was awesome, I saw it twice, and I'll certainly watch it again when it comes out on DVD/Blu-Ray. Daphne Keen was amazing - kind of reminded me of Millie Bobbie Brown. Where do they keep finding these intense young actresses? Kid-friendliness rating: 5% (only because of the fact that the movie cast a bunch of cool young people to play X-23, Rictor, and other kid mutants)

Pete's Dragon
Yes, I'm late on this one. I actually watched it on a bus while I was serving as a chaperone for one of my daughter's school band trips. It was light and airy and low-key and served as a fun little distraction while we rode up to Bellevue. I did wonder at one point how no one could have seen the dragon before, given that there's not much going on in the nearby town and the dragon certainly wasn't ashamed of flying around whenever it felt like it. By the way, after watching three Star Trek reboot films, I cannot see Karl Urban as anything else but Dr. McCoy. Kid-friendliness rating: 95%

John Wick 2
My son actually turned me on to this franchise, having seen the first John Wick movie before I did (he's 18, so its cool). Both installments are like ultra-violent video games - they're so over-the-top that you can't really take them too seriously. At least no dogs died in the second one. And the Neo/Morpheus reunion was fun. Kid-friendliness rating: 0%

Moana
This one exceeded my expectations, kind of like Zootopia did. Disney, you're on a roll! Heartfelt and beautifully animated, it hit all the right notes at mostly the right times (I did feel that it took longer than necessary to finally get Moana past the reef, but whatever). Moana and Maui's friendship felt natural and completely earned, which is a harder thing to pull off than you might expect. I should have guessed who Te Ka really was, but then again, like Zootopia, these Disney movies have a way of distracting me with their bright colors and bits of snappy dialogue (the "you're welcome" reprise near the end was especially awesome). Kid-friendliness rating: 99%

And thus endeth another installment of Movie Roundup! Join us again next time when, I suspect, the kid-friendliness ratings will be a bit more consistent, based on what I expect to be seeing (Guardians of the Galaxy Vol.2, Wonder Woman, the Power Rangers reboot, Despicable Me 3, Spider-Man: Homecoming, Valerian and the City of a Thousand Planets).

Thursday, March 16, 2017

Cover Art Reveal: Volume Three

Here's the cover art for Volume Three! Again, much thanks go out to the marvelous and talented Jill Colbert. Check out her other work here.
And here's the back cover blurb:


"Joel Suzuki and friends have saved Spectraland—the island of music and magic—once again. But now those responsible for the island’s near destruction have gone missing, and all clues point to a mysterious land across the Forbidden Tides known as the Six States beneath the Shroud.

At least, it used to be—since a new leader rose to power, it has been called the Mono Realm, a place where diversity isn’t tolerated. For people on the autism spectrum like Joel and his bandmate Felicity Smith, it’s a hostile environment indeed.

And now, to make matters worse, Joel discovers that the fugitives they’re pursuing are not simply hiding in the Mono Realm, they’re intent on taking it over—with potentially dire consequences not only for this world, but for Earth as well.

A rebellion is stirring in this land of magic and tech, and if Joel can just get his mind off Felicity—and her prickly love interest, Thornleaf—his unique gifts and abilities might just save the day."

I'm super excited about this latest addition to Joel's saga and I can't wait to share it with all of you! Come and help celebrate its release at one or both of the planned launch parties:

Saturday, April 15
8pm - 1am
Shanahan's Pub & Grill
209 W McLoughlin Blvd
Vancouver, WA
Featuring live music by Stab In The Dark, Cellar Door, and Second Player Score
Also special guest authors Jonathan Chase (From Surviving to Thriving) and Shawna Reppert (Hunt by Moonlight, the Ravensblood series)
No cover, 21 and over

Saturday, April 22
4pm - 6pm
Kazoodles
13503 SE Mill Plain Blvd Suite B3
Vancouver, WA
Free, all ages

See you all soon!

Thursday, March 9, 2017

Cover Art Reveal: Volume Two

Aaand here's the new cover art for Volume Two! Again, thanks to the awesome Jill Colbert for her hard work and artistry. Check out her website here and buy some stuff. Seriously.
In case you missed it somehow, here's the cover art for Volume One:
Volume Three is coming soon. Stay tuned!

Thursday, March 2, 2017

Status Update!

Whoa, is it March already?
Book Update:

- You've all seen the awesome new cover art for Volume One. The art for Volumes Two and Three will be revealed shortly!

- The first draft of Volume Four is coming along nicely. I did have to backtrack a bit and rewrite a bunch of stuff, but it was going to happen eventually, so it was cool to get it done now. Officially, I'm at around 16,000 words (64 pages or so), but I do have chunks of other scenes that may still work their way back into the draft.

- As always, I had fun at the Portland Spring Home & Garden Show last week. Much thanks to Roslyn McFarland for putting that together. Tomorrow, I'll be doing a Skype in the Classroom lesson with a school in Hollidaysburg, PA, followed by a local appearance at Burnt Bridge Creek Elementary right here in good old Vancouver (thanks to Susie Slanina for setting that up!)

Band Update:

- The lyrics for our third album Glorified are done, and now we're on to working out the vocal harmonies.

- Additional distribution and promotion of our first two albums by the UK-based indie label Fusion Records has begun!

- Tonight, we'll be doing a live interview and acoustic performance with our friends from Anarchy Radio, on location at Flying Pie Pizzeria in Milwaukie, OR. The fun starts at 6pm. Check it out!

TV Update:

- Season 2 of The Magicians has been epic so far. Favorite bits: "Where are my stuff touchers?" and "FU Fighters."

- Watched the first episode of Legion...I think it was exactly what they wanted it to be, which was pretty cool, but not really my sort of thing. I dunno, maybe I'll give it another shot.

- Season finale of Star vs. The Forces of Evil: about as compelling as a kid's cartoon - or really any show, for that matter - can get, on par with the best episodes of Gravity Falls. I couldn't look away.

Video Game Update:

- Been trying furiously to finish Tokyo Mirage Sessions FE before Breath of the Wild comes out TOMORROW but man, those Cosmic Egg puzzles are actually pretty confusing. I might have to shelve it and come back to it later.

- Did I mention that Breath of the Wild is coming out TOMORROW? My daughter and I are just a little bit excited. Because it's coming out TOMORROW.

Thursday, February 23, 2017

Volume Three Launch Date Announcement!

Torin and I put together a short video announcing the launch date of Volume Three (full official title - Joel Suzuki, Volume Three: Legend of the Loudstone). In it, we also talk about the Earth-based chapter of the Wavemaker Order. So check it out!
Much mahalos go out to Torin for doing the video editing, some band called Second Player Score for providing the background music, and my friend Kara McCollum for giving me the selfie stick that we used to film this. You guys rock.

Oh, and don't forget, I'll be signing copies of Volumes One and Two at the Portland Spring Home & Garden Show tomorrow (Friday) night from 6-8pm. Hope to see you there!

Thursday, February 16, 2017

Cutting Room Floor

As I mentioned in last week's post, one of the perks of joining the Earth-based chapter of the Wavemaker Order is going to be unlimited access to the Wavemaker Archives, a members-only page on the Joel Suzuki website that will contain all kinds of cool exclusive content, like deleted scenes.
I store most of my deleted scenes in a document I call "Cutting Room Floor." With the way my writing process works, I don't like to keep stuff I don't want - ranging from single sentences to entire scenes - still sitting in the active draft, but I also don't want to dispose of them entirely either, so what I do is I cut and paste them into a separate document that I keep open alongside my working draft (how people ever wrote books before the advent of word processors, I have no idea.) This way, if I ever want to restore anything I've sliced out, it's all right there, ready and waiting.

There are currently 37,698 words in my Cutting Room Floor, roughly the equivalent of 150 pages' worth of stuff. That doesn't even count the other documents I have - basically complete and semi-complete drafts of the entire books - that contain larger unused passages and chapters. You've heard the expression "kill your darlings," right? Well, I'm pretty sure I (along with most authors that have several novels to their name) have, by now, committed the equivalent of darling-genocide. I've also killed a lot of non-darlings as well. Basically, I have a massive, overflowing graveyard of words. Which means there's a good supply of deleted scenes for all of you to enjoy!

I've already given you one of them in this blog post. And since I'm feeling generous today, I'll give you another one below the jump. If you want more, you'll just have to sign up for the Wavemaker Order!

Thursday, February 9, 2017

The Wavemaker Order

So, as promised in the Big Announcement post from about a month ago, I have another exciting new development to share with you!
Wavebow graphic courtesy of Roslyn McFarland
To help celebrate the launch of Volume Three and the rebirth of the Spectraland Saga into the Joel Suzuki series, my son Torin and I are starting up a virtual community called the Wavemaker Order. For those of you who don't know, the Wavemaker Order is the group of music-magicians from Spectraland - plus Joel and Felicity - who use their powers to help people and perform good deeds. The Earth-based chapter won't be able to perform any mystical wavecasts, unfortunately, but we will have a similar purpose. More than just a fan club for the book series, we will be a force for positive cultural change. Our goal will be to make this world a better place not only for people on the autism spectrum, but for people of ALL abilities.

And just how are we going to do that, you ask? Well, if you sign up, we'll share the master plan with you. Joining the order is free and easy - all you have to do is provide us with your email address. And as a bonus for joining, you'll gain access to the Wavemaker Archives - a members-only page on the Joel Suzuki website that will contain all kinds of cool exclusive content, including deleted scenes and more. You'll also receive regular emails from us that will contain updates on our mission's progress along with personal - and by personal, I do mean personal - messages from me that will reveal things not found in any public forum (including this blog!)

A sign-up page will be added to the website soon, but why wait? Email us at joelsuzukiseries@gmail.com right now and say "Yes, I want to join the Wavemaker Order!" Torin and I look forward to working with all of you on this very worthy and epic quest. Mahalo.