Thursday, October 14, 2021

Volume Six Status Update: The First (Real) Draft Is Complete!

Last time on Volume Six Status Update (which was over FOUR MONTHS AGO, whaaat?) I said that I had reached the 62,000-word mark but then I realized that I was spinning my wheels and was quite possibly building on a flawed foundation so I went back and started again from scratch and got it back up to 28,000 words.

Well now, I'm done.
As in, I've finished the story according to how I originally mapped it out, resulting in a draft that is 90,000 words (approximately 360 pages) long. I know there are still some things that need to be cleaned up, and I'm sure the third act is a bit of a mess, but otherwise, I'm pretty happy with how it turned out. A few weeks ago, I adopted a daily mantra of "it's only the first draft, just write anything," which really helped me get it to the finish line (you would think that, six books into this whole deal, I would've adopted that mantra a lot sooner, but, well, to paraphrase the Doctor, forgetting is a human superpower).

So now, as per the usual process, I'm letting the draft cool off for a little while before I go back and submerge myself in the revision and rewriting process. My guess is that I'll have something ready to send to my editor early next year, which would keep me on track for a late 2022 or early 2023 release, right in line with the overall schedule for the series (i.e. a new volume every other year or so). Editor's note: the draft will be sent for editing in December!

I can say that this volume is probably the most ambitious so far, not only because of its length (which, if it holds, will make it the longest Joel Suzuki book to date) but also because it has so much stuff going on and, as the penultimate entry in the main 7-book story arc, really raises the level of stakes, action, and character development (do Joel and Felicity finally kiss?* You'll just have to wait to find out).

Anyway, stay tuned for more updates!

* Felicity: do we what, now?

Thursday, October 7, 2021

Words & Pictures Festival 2021

This year's Words & Pictures Festival (the 5th annual) will once again be virtual! It worked out really well last year, so I'm confident it will be just as good this time around.
What's changing this year is that it will be two days instead of one, so twice the fun! It's this Saturday, October 9th from 10am-5pm and Sunday, October 10th from 10am-3:15pm. I'll be kicking off the Saturday festivities with an author reading at 10am, followed by Karen Eisenbrey and Kristin Burchell and then a Q&A until 11am. On Sunday, I'll be in a panel called "Marketing & Social Media for Authors, Part 2" along with Heidi Mason and Gretchen McLellan from 11:15am-12:15pm. Of course, there are lots of other great workshops, readings, and events happening for aspiring writers, children, and families, so it's totally worth checking out all day long on both days. And best of all, it's free!

You can see the entire program, bios of all the participating writers and illustrators, and the registration link here. Hope to see your smiling faces (and, perhaps, cats?) on Zoom!

Thursday, September 30, 2021

Joel and Felicity Try Virtual Reality

INT. BRIAN'S LIVING ROOM - DAY

A young man is here, sitting on the couch and watching a baseball game. This is JOEL. After a few moments, a young woman enters, carrying a box. This is FELICITY.

F: Dude, check it out.
J: What?

Felicity opens the box.

F: I got an Oculus Quest 2.
J: Oh, nice. Did you buy it?
F: No, I stole it.
J: You did?
F: Kidding. Of course, I bought it.
J: How?
F: I still have Brian's credit card.
J: Oh.
F: Anyway, c'mon, we should try it out.

MONTAGE: Felicity and Joel setting up the Oculus Quest 2. After they're done -

F: Okay, you can go first.
J: Really?
F: Yes, really.
J: Thanks.

Joel puts the headset on and picks up the controllers. A couple of minutes go by, during which he looks around and moves the controllers, but doesn't say anything. Finally - 

F: Well?
J: Well, what?
F: How is it?
J: It's...okay, I guess.
F: Just okay?
J: To be honest, it's a little boring.
F: Are you trying to be sarcastic?
J: No, I'm not. It's just that...well, I think for an average person who hasn't tried virtual reality before, it would be awesome. But I've traveled through time and dimensions and alternate realities and all of that, so this is actually sort of...what's the word? Anticlimactic.
F: Okay, let me try.

Joel takes off the headset and gives it and the controllers to Felicity. She tries them out for a while.

F: Hmm, you know what? You're right.
J: I know.
F: Heh. I mean, yeah, I'm sure this is pretty cool for regular folks, but for us, it's like, we've already experienced stuff like this and more in our real lives.
J: Yeah.
F: Unless...what if our real lives are a simulation?
J: Huh?
F: You know, like in The Matrix. Or that South Park episode from 2014 where the kids were lost in virtual realities.
J: 2014? Isn't it 2013 right now?
F: Dude, it's 2021.
J: It is?
F: That's what I just said. Or maybe it isn't. I dunno, it's hard to tell sometimes. Because, you know, time travel.
J: You might be right, though. It's possible that our lives are just a creation of some other power that dictates our actions and controls our destinies.
F: Right? I get that feeling sometimes, too.
J: In which case, we would be living in a super-advanced version of virtual reality.
F: Like an Oculus Quest 2000.
J: Or 20,000.
F: Or 2 million.

Joel and Felicity trade awkward glances. Then-

J&F, together: NAH

They laugh.

F: Let's download Beat Saber.
J: Okay.

FADE TO BLACK

Thursday, September 23, 2021

Give More 24!

Today is Give More 24! What is that, you ask? Why, it's 24 hours in which you can make a positive difference in the world by donating to any one of the awesome nonprofit organizations based in the Southwest Washington area. "Sounds great," you say, "but which organization should I donate to?" Well, each organization is definitely worthy of your support, but allow me to make a suggestion: Autism Empowerment.
Why, you ask? Well, because not only are we dedicated to improving the quality of life for people and families in the autism community both locally and worldwide via our various programs, support groups, events, resources, and more, but also because we promote a global culture of acceptance for people of all abilities.

If that sounds good to you, then simply go this link and make a donation. Even just the minimum of $10 will be greatly appreciated. All donations are 100% tax-deductible, and best of all, giving feels good! I know this first-hand, because not only will I be donating today, but I also donate to Autism Empowerment (on an ongoing basis) one dollar for every Joel Suzuki book that is sold.

Thank you! Mahalo! Arigatou Gozaimasu! Gracias!

Thursday, September 16, 2021

A Post That Is Sort Of About Football: 2021 Edition

I know I'm a little late with this, seeing as how the season has already started, but, hey, whatever, right? Initial thoughts and way-too-early snap judgments: (1) I don't care for the 17-game schedule, purely for purist, change-resistant reasons (as they say in Doctor Who, "You've redecorated. I don't like it"), (2) the NFC West looks like a division of juggernauts, amirite? and (3) the quarterback carousel that's going on this year is making my head spin (see multiple notes below). Anyway...

Arizona Cardinals: JUGGERNAUT

Atlanta Falcons: seem to still be suffering from the acute case of Brady-itis that they contracted back in 2017.

Baltimore Ravens: "Raven" seems to be a popular name for fictional characters (Teen Titans, X-Men, That's So Raven, etc.). Kind of like "Finn" (Star Wars, Adventure Time, etc.). And "fins" is a nickname for the Miami Dolphins (see below). Where am I going with this? I have no idea.

Buffalo Bills: I sort-of-predicted that they would be division champs last year, and well, whaddya know? Although this season has sort of started with a thud.

Carolina Panthers: are now starting Sam Darnold at quarterback? I was like, wait, what? When did that happen?

Chicago Bears: are now starting Andy Dalton at quarterback? I was like, wait, what? When did that happen? (although they're probably going to be starting Justin Fields on Sunday)

Cincinnati Bengals: are now starting Joe Burrow - oh, right, he was there last year, he just got hurt. I'm sure they're glad he's back.

Cleveland Browns: could maybe, finally, be starting to turn the corner?

Dallas Cowboys: back in 2016 I described this team (who I used to follow when I lived in Hawaii due mostly to a lack of options) as like "an ex, where you just peripherally take notice of stuff they're up to but you try not to get too involved." I did, however, watch their season opener against Tampa Bay and was actually sort of rooting for them. Oh well.

Denver Broncos: are now starting Teddy Bridgewater at quarterback? I was like, wait, what? When did that happen?

Detroit Lions: are now starting Jared Goff at quarterback? I was like...oh, actually, I knew about that one.

Green Bay Packers: Aaron Rodgers' singer-songwriter State Farm commercial is pretty funny.

Houston Texans: are now starting Tyrod Taylor at quarterback? And supposedly turned down three first-round draft picks for Deshaun Watson? And still won their first game?

Indianapolis Colts: are now starting Carson Wentz at quarterback? Good game on Sunday, by the way (not being sarcastic. Seriously).

Jacksonville Jaguars: are now starting Trevor Lawrence at quarterback, but I knew that because I'm a semi-football nerd who watches the annual draft.

Kansas City Chiefs: I always find it funny when I watch game highlights and they're all like "Patrick Mahomes this, Patrick Mahomes that" but then you find out that the Chiefs only won by several points after finally taking the lead late in the fourth quarter. You would've thought that they had won by ten touchdowns or something. But, well, as a Seahawks fan, I can relate.

Las Vegas Raiders: once in a while I find myself wondering, "why doesn't Las Vegas have a MLB and/or NBA team?" Don't ask me why I wonder stuff like that.

Los Angeles Chargers: I'm still not used to them not being in San Diego.

Los Angeles Rams: are now starting Matthew Stafford at JUGGERNAUT

Miami Dolphins: Are also known as the "fish." Dolphins aren't fish. I'm sure you don't need me to tell you that.

Minnesota Vikings: According to Wikipedia, "Vikings is the modern name given to seafaring people primarily from Scandinavia (present-day Denmark, Norway, and Sweden), who from the late 8th to the late 11th centuries raided, pirated, traded and settled throughout parts of Europe." It's also the name of a historical drama TV series for the History channel.

New England Patriots: last year, I said "the first real test to see if the Patriots are Belichick or Brady." I guess I have my answer.

New Orleans Saints: are now starting Jameis Winston at quarterback? Seriously? I guess it seems to be working out so far.

New York Giants: They Might Be Giants were not kidding - old New York really was once New Amsterdam.

New York Jets: are now starting Zach Wilson at quarterback, but I knew that because I'm a semi-football nerd who watches the annual draft.

Philadelphia Eagles: there's a restaurant near my house called Philly Bilmos that has awesome cheesesteak sandwiches. I haven't been there in a while. I need to go again.

Pittsburgh Steelers: are still starting Ben Roethlisberger at quarterback, who is actually somehow younger than Tom Brady.

San Francisco 49ers: JUGGERNAUT

Seattle Seahawks: on the first offensive drive of the game against the Colts, I was like, "this new offense seems a lot like the old offense: run, run, Russell Wilson runs for his life when the pocket collapses and somehow gains a first down, run, run, Russell Wilson chucks it into the end zone and somehow Tyler Lockett comes down with it, touchdown." But I guess more educated football minds than me saw that the run schemes were different (could've fooled me) and as the game went on, there really was more tempo and quick-pass shenanigans. Either way, I liked the end result, which was a strangely low-stress affair. I just hope they can keep this up. 

Tampa Bay Buccaneers: last year, I said "the first real test to see if the Patriots are Belichick or Brady." I guess I have my answer. Sure wish that dude would retire and give someone else a chance.

Tennessee Titans: they play the Seahawks this coming Sunday, so I will keep my mouth shut.

Washington Football Team: weren't they supposed to have a new name by now?

Thursday, September 9, 2021

Glorified Issue #4 Is Here!

That's right, the fourth installment of Glorified, the manga/comic book series by Second Player Score, is now available!
Print copies are being sent out to select Kickstarter backers soon. Also, the issue is for sale in both print and digital formats at IndyPlanet. Additionally, you can read it (with subscription access) at GlobalComix.

As a reminder, we are donating 50% of the profits from the sale of any issue of Glorified in any format to the Asian Pacific American Network of Oregon. You can find the first three issues at the links below:


Excelsior!

Thursday, September 2, 2021

Anime Roundup

Hey, I'm back with another edition of Anime Roundup! I know, it's been a while, right? Usually I've been doing these every five or six weeks or so, but this time the last one was over three months ago. The main reason for the gap was My Hero Academia, which, after I talked about it the last time, quickly because my new all-time #1 favorite show (sorry, Food Wars) and was basically all I was watching for a while. But once I got caught up (it's still ongoing in Japan, and new episodes only come out once a week) I was able to turn my attention to other stuff, like:

Black Clover
Crunchyroll kept feeding me ads for this one, and I'd heard a lot about it, so I finally decided to give it a shot. And I'm glad I did! I love the premise, which is: in a world where basically everyone has magic, one boy without magic is still determined to become the Wizard King so he can help save the world from demons (and also marry his childhood crush). It's kind of like Piers Anthony's A Spell for Chameleon meets Naruto. I also love the main character's indefatigable spirit and inspiring catchphrase ("Not giving up is my magic!"). It's nice when you discover an anime that you enjoy that is new to you but has a billion episodes already out (actually 170, but close enough) because you know that you'll have something to watch for a long time.

Jujutsu Kaisen
I'd heard that this one was considered the next big thing in manga/anime, being fairly new (the manga started in 2018, the anime in 2020), so I also put it on my post-My Hero Academia list. A fun and watchable mix of a lot of different influences, it's basically about a teenage boy who inadvertently becomes the host of a powerful Curse (like an evil spirit) and then joins a school for something called Jujutsu Sorcerers whose job it is to fight said Curses. You can tell that it sort of follows a Naruto-like template, but it puts its own original spin on it, and the juxtaposition of standard anime-style humor and grotesque horror imagery makes for an interesting contrast.

Don't Toy With Me, Miss Nagatoro!
A light and airy rom-com about a high school girl who, um, flirts? I guess you could call it? with a shy and quiet otaku (nerdy) upperclassman, this one is, yes, a little racy and un-PC and definitely not for younger or sensitive audiences, but it never really crosses the line and eventually (spoiler alert? sort of?) showcases a wholesome and touching side with themes about love, friendship, and confidence.

Spirited Away
If you're an anime fan, you've probably heard of this Studio Ghibli/Miyazaki classic. On the surface, it's a seemingly simple Alice-In-Wonderland-like tale about a young girl who stumbles into a spirit world and has to find her way out, but there's actually a lot more to it than that, with underlying themes that deal with spiritualism, consumerism, environmentalism, and more. It's deservedly won a boatload of awards (including an Oscar for Best Animated Feature) and was the highest-grossing film in Japanese history for 19 years until it was finally surpassed in 2020 by the Demon Slayer movie that I mentioned in a previous roundup post.

Bananya
Okay, so "nya" is the Japanese equivalent of "meow." Therefore, "Bananya" is a cute and silly show made up of short (two-to-three minute) episodes that feature cat-banana hybrid creatures living in regular households, sometimes alongside regular cats (how that works, I have no idea). Season one showed them in everyday situations (or, as everyday as life can be for cat-banana hybrid creatures), while season two was a little more origin-story-ish and explained where they came from (another planet, sort of) and had magic and science fiction-y elements and other stuff. Lots of lovable fun for those times when you don't want to think too hard. Also, after every episode when the credits started rolling, I was like, "that was SO Japanese."