Thursday, April 30, 2015

Book Two Status Update: False Ending Alert!

Okay, so as it turns out, this previous post saying that I was almost done with Book Two was a false ending. The Bilbo picture must have been some sort of prophetic omen*, because remember the movie version of Return of the King, where it never seemed to end? Yeah.
In that previous post, I said that I could see the dragon's lair a short distance away. Well, what happened was that I got to the lair and defeated the dragon, only to find out that it was actually being controlled by a triumvirate of evil dark wizards that were disguising themselves as a harmless forest gnome the whole time. And now, those wizards are attacking.

Translation: even though I was happy with the initial draft, my editor and beta readers suggested some revisions that would make the book EVEN BETTER. The revisions won't alter the basic underlying story that much, but they will require a bit of work beyond just simple tweaking. Being the perfectionist that I am, I don't want to put out a book that I know could be better than it already is, so I decided to bite the proverbial bullet and go back to the rewriting grinder.

I'm still hoping to release the final product this year, but if that doesn't happen, then so be it - it will come out when it's ready to come out. The good news is that this isn't a setback, it's simply another point along the journey to the finish line; in other words, you can't get to the true Final Boss until you go through the false ending first.

*Another picture that I used was also an appropriate omen, but I won't specify which one it is because, well, spoilers

Thursday, April 23, 2015

Exclusive Interview With Marshall Byle, Part Two

For Part One of the interview, click here.

A lot of your lyrics are pretty dark, although not in what you would consider the usual "heavy metal" way. Where do you get the inspiration for your songs?

Heavy metal way? (laughs) I've never heard that one before.

Not actually Marshall Byle
You know, like "arrrgh, death, destruction, I hate you all."

Ah, yes, well, I do try to be a bit more literate than that. I read a lot, and I do fancy myself a bit of a writer as well - not just songs, mind you, but poetry, short stories, and so on. I'm even working on a series of novels. They're still in the outline stage, but the basic concept is absolutely brilliant.

As for inspiration, I get it from everywhere. My mind is always running, you know? I can be inspired by practically anything - the daily news, a really good book, even what I had for lunch. (laughs) I always find myself waking up at three in the morning with a fully-formed song in my head. I'm like a lightning rod for ideas.

Let's back up. What is your book series about?

It's going to be an epic science fiction horror saga about a music reporter who asks too many questions about projects that haven't been released yet, and gets dissected and eaten by undead alien spider-monkeys as a result.

I see what you did there. That actually sounds pretty good, though.

(Laughs) It does, doesn't it? Blimey, I'm a genius.

I'm sure your fans would agree. Speaking of which, you have a reputation for being really good with your fans - like, staying late after shows to sign autographs, replying to emails, even inviting them to hang out with you and the band at your hotel and in the tour bus.

Well, they're the ones who pay me bills, right? No, I dunno, I think it's . . . it's fun to talk to people who recognize and appreciate the work that I do, I suppose. I mean, who wouldn't want to be constantly surrounded by adoring mobs telling you how clever and brilliant you are? (laughs)

Makes sense to me. So I haven't been lucky enough to attend one of your tour bus parties yet - can you tell me and my readers what kinds of things go on at those?

Oh, you know, the usual . . . we sit around and play chess, drink tea, discuss politics. (laughs)

Of course you do! Anyway, what are you going to be doing with your time between now and when the band starts working on the next album? Writing your sci-fi horror saga, perhaps?

That, and a load of other things. I have a short solo tour planned where I'll be playing acoustic versions of Biledriver songs as well as a bunch of me other material, and I also have three side projects that I'll be doing some recording with.

Wow, that's impressive. Where do you find the time and energy?

Well, like I said, I simply cannot sit still. I dunno, it's just something that comes naturally to me. If I knew the secret, I'd bottle it and sell it. (laughs)

Like a Marshall Byle energy drink.


Well, thanks again for speaking with me today. I really appreciate you taking time out of your busy schedule to do this interview.

Oh, are we done already? Very well.

Your manager said I only had ten minutes. We can go on, if you like.

Me manager? Oh, that bird is such a killjoy. (laughs) Well, if she says so, I suppose the end it is. Between me and you, she's quite a fright when she's angry. It's like She-Hulk. So cheers, mate, nice talking to you. And watch out for the undead alien spider-monkeys!

Thursday, April 16, 2015

Exclusive Interview With Marshall Byle, Part One

(Editor's note: this interview took place four years before the events of Secret of the Songshell. Just thought you'd like to know.)

After the release of their breakthrough third album, Rulers of the Universe, and the subsequent thirteen-month-long world tour, you would think that Marshall Byle, the lead singer and guitarist of the now multi-platinum rock band Biledriver, would want to take a well-deserved break. But you would be wrong. As I found out during this entertaining and enlightening interview, the irrepressible dynamo known affectionately to his fans as "Stack" (as in, a stack of Marshall amplifiers - c'mon, you knew that) was just getting started....
Thanks for talking to me today. I know you must be exhausted after just coming off of that tour.

Oh, not at all. In fact, I feel like I could go another three months, you know? (laughs) I really despise sitting still, it just bores me to death. I have to always be doing something.

I'm sure your fans would love it if you continued touring.

And, believe me, I would love it as well! But, you know, me mates in the band were starting to get a wee down, I suppose is a nice way to put it. They needed a break.

This album has been such a huge success. Is that something you were expecting at all?

Well, to be honest - and I say this in all modesty - yes, I really was. I had a feeling, instinctively, that our first two albums were not as brilliant as they could have been, but with this one, I was quite certain that I had stumbled upon sort of a magic formula, as it were. A way to write songs that really connected with people, at a deep, core emotional level.

Where do you suppose that came from? Was it something that you had been gradually working towards, or was it more of a sudden epiphany?

A little of both. Although, I will admit, there actually was a moment where the switch flipped on, so to speak.

Can you tell us more about that?

No. It's a trade secret. (laughs)

Fair enough. Do you feel any pressure about having to follow it up?

Oh, not at all. In fact, I already have all the songs for our next album written. It's going to blow your (bleeping) mind. I can't wait to get to work on it.

And I can't wait to hear it. Will it be kind of a quasi-concept album, like Rulers of the Universe?

It may be...or not. (laughs) I mean, blimey, mate, I'm not going to give anything away this early, you know? But trust me, it will be amazing.

Coming up in Part Two: Where Marshall gets the inspiration for his songs from, and what the band does on their tour bus after shows....

P.S. Tune in to the Portland Radio Project this coming Saturday (April 18) at 10:30am Pacific to hear a live interview and in-studio acoustic performance with - no, not Marshall Byle - Second Player Score!

Thursday, April 9, 2015

Top Nine Thursday

To celebrate the 9th of April (no reason, totally random), here are my top nine most popular blog posts to date:
#9 - The Writing Process and Book Two Update - January 28, 2013

This was the first time Felicity and I spoke live on the blog. Also, this was when I had 17,000 words of Book Two written and I decided to scrap them. It wouldn't be the last time I did that.

#8 - Ian Engelsman, Budding Rock Star - January 2, 2013

After this post came out, I was fortunate enough to have the opportunity to meet Ian in person. Eventually, he stole the show as the special musical guest at the Book One Relaunch Party in April 2013.

#7 - Video Games - August 16, 2013

Okami and The Last Story are still my top two favorites. Please, Nintendo, bring Okamiden (the DS-only Okami sequel) to the Wii U Virtual Console.

#6 - Book Review: The Speed of Dark - August 29, 2012

One of the better books out there with a protagonist on the spectrum, although I still have a quibble with the ending.

#5 - Ghost Peppers - Yes, Very Scary Indeed - September 17, 2012

My stomach continues to have nightmares about this experience to this very day. By the way, Killer Burger discontinued serving the Marine a while ago.

#4 - Happy National Author's Day! - November 1, 2012

One of my shortest blog posts ever, I think its hits-to-words ratio approaches some kind of infinite divide-by-zero type of anomaly.

#3 - Relaunch Party Guest List Vol. 2 - April 12, 2013

Okay, actually, this post has the craziest hits-to-words ratio ever. I think the fact that I featured a bunch of awesome local authors has something to do with its high traffic.

#2 - Rockin' With Ian - February 8, 2013

The recap of my aforementioned meeting and jam session with the incomparable Mr. Engelsman.

And, the most popular blog post to date is...after the jump!

Thursday, April 2, 2015

Special Announcement! Plus Random Updates

First, the Special Announcement: This Saturday, April 4th. Doesn't matter where you live - jump in your car, hop on a plane, run really super fast - however you do it, get yourself to the 4th Annual Autism Empowerment Egg Hunt! You know you want to.
I'll be there, of course, and we'll also have a special guest singing the National Anthem: my good friend and former bandmate, Rich Ray, lead vocalist for the Led Zeppelin tribute band Ramble On. It will be epic.

Okay, now on to the random updates.

- Video Games: I finished Golden Sun a little quicker than I expected (I will confess, I used a walkthrough), so I've moved on to another cool Gameboy title that was made available on the Wii U eShop: Fire Emblem.
Apparently, this game is the seventh entry in a series of fourteen(!) games that have been around since 1990 and will continue with a new release that is coming out this summer. How did I not know about this?

This game is a RPG with a turn-based tactical combat system that is, frankly, quite addictive. The fact that your weapons have a limited amount of uses, and that any characters who are defeated in battle cannot be used for the rest of the game, lend a real sense of jeopardy to the proceedings (another confession: I use the Wii U Restore Point. A lot.) Combined with an intricate storyline and graphics that are even better than Golden Sun's (for the cutscenes, anyway), Fire Emblem has turned into one of those games that I have a hard time putting down while the hours just fly by.

- Writing: Despite my Fire Emblem preoccupation, I've somehow managed to write a draft of Book 3, Chapter 1. It was actually pretty easy - one morning, while in the shower, I was envisioning the scene in my head, and it just started to write itself, as the old cliche goes. Descriptions of the setting, lines of dialogue, and elements of the plot began flowing through my head, and I couldn't get out of the shower fast enough to write it all down (dripping water on your laptop is not a recommended practice, by the way.) This kind of thing has happened to me before, and I have to say that, despite the fact that it occasionally occurs at inopportune times (like at 3 in the morning), it's such a cool feeling. Now, if I could just replicate that process for the rest of the book....

- TV/Movies: Caught the first episode of Star vs. The Forces of Evil, which I guess already aired on the Disney Channel a couple of months ago but just made its debut on Disney XD. Good stuff, and a fun theme song to sing along to. Also ordered Seasons 3 and 4 of The Legend of Korra on DVD - when I'll find the time to binge watch them, I have no idea, but it will happen. Movies watched recently include Birdman, Whiplash, Big Hero 6, and Song of the Sea. All of them were really good, although not quite as mind-blowing as I thought they would be - perhaps my expectations were set a little high going in. And finally, can't wait for baseball to start back up next week, go Mariners!

- Music: already talked about this last week.

Anyway, hope to see you all on Saturday!