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...

Thursday, July 7, 2016

A Completely Kid-Friendly Post About Weeds

The other day I received a letter from my homeowner's association threatening me asking me nicely to remove the weeds that had grown up on the side of my house lest I incur the wrath of Thanos am required to pay a small fine. They even sent me a helpful picture in case I had forgotten what the side of my house looked like.
Not the actual picture, but you get the idea
I removed the weeds, but that got me thinking about the nature of weeds and why we are all so bent on destroying them. I mean, why do we value the other, non-weed portions of our lawns and gardens so much in comparison? Like, take grass, for example. Grass is so notoriously high-maintenance. If I forget to water the lawn for a day or two, the grass is immediately all, like, aaaaagggghhhh and it shrivels up and dies and leaves empty brown spots in my yard. But the weeds are like, "Hey, no worries, bro, it's cool. We're all good here. Water whenever you feel like it. Or don't. Whatever."

Aren't we supposed to be conserving water? I think we are, in which case the weeds are clearly the more desirable denizens of our suburban landscapes. Those things grow like crazy, even without water and in the ninety-degree-plus summer temperatures that absolutely devastate the other flora. They also don't need to be fed with the expensive, chemical-filled fertilizers that, when sprinkled all over our lawns, pose obvious threats to things like pets, feral rabbits, and various types of small defenseless children.*

So why do we hate them so much? (The weeds, that is, not the small children. Remember, this is a kid-friendly post.) Is it because they're ugly? Are we so superficial and judgmental that we have entire industries built around killing these laid-back, easy-to-handle plants? I say we all get rid of our water-sucking, fertilizer-demanding, pretty green patches of grass and replace them with fields of dandelions (which, by the way, were considered to be beautiful not that long ago), buttercups, and broadleaf plantain. I would take the initiative and do it on my own, except that I don't really feel like getting vaporized by the Infinity Gauntlet paying a fine any time soon.

* That is unless, of course, they don't