Thursday, January 26, 2017

Stuff I've Been Up To

In the past, I've called this kind of post a Status Update, Things That Are Happening, or, I dunno, maybe I've even used this "Stuff I've Been Up To" title before (ed: you haven't). If you can come up with a better title, please, let me know. Anyway!
This is a little bit of what I've been up to
Book Update:
In case you missed it, a pretty big change in the book series has taken place. But besides that, other cool stuff is happening as well. Book, um, I mean, Volume Three is done, at least as far as the interior is concerned, and now we're all just anxiously awaiting the awesome cover art that is in process for not only this Volume, but also Volumes One and Two.

On top of that, I've been making pretty decent progress on the first draft of Volume Four. As of today, I'm up to 15,000 words, which equates to roughly 60 pages. I've been having just as much fun writing it as I did with Volume Three, which is a great sign for things to come.

And, as promised in the "Big Announcement" post, there is another exciting development that I will discuss in detail soon. For now, suffice it to say that Mr. Joel Suzuki will be heading up a virtual community whose goal it will be to change the world for the better, and all of you will have a chance to be a part of that. Can't wait.

Band Update:
While Nobody's Hero is out there making waves, we have already moved on to album number three, which, as I may have mentioned before, will also be a quasi-concept album. Tentatively titled Glorified, it tells the story of a woman who, bred to be a soldier, ends up fleeing her oppressive hometown and reluctantly helping people as she traverses a post-apocalyptic wasteland. It's kind of like Mad Max crossed with Doctor Who crossed with Rey from The Force Awakens. The music for all twelve songs has been completed, and now we're in the middle of writing lyrics (eight songs are pretty much done). This album will be a little different from its predecessors in that this time, everything - lyrics included - will be a complete collaboration. All three band members have made significant contributions to every aspect of it, and I feel that it's all the more stronger as a result.

TV Update:
Supergirl is back, Star Wars Rebels is heating up, and the Magicians season 2 premiere was last night (spoiler: it was awesome). Also, I discovered that I will finally have to cave in and get Netflix because season 2 of Miraculous Ladybug will only be found there.

Video Game Update:
So, yeah, I plunked down the sixty bucks for Tokyo Mirage Sessions FE, I have not been disappointed. I'm not sure if my daughter likes this game all that much, but I've really been enjoying it. I love how some of the characters' strongest attacks are based on songs, and the storyline is fun and engaging enough to hold my attention. I wouldn't quite put it in my top five (which is still, to this day, (1) The Last Story, (2) Okami, (3) All iterations of Zelda, (4) Both Xenoblades, and (5) Super Paper Mario), but it's pretty close. I need to finish it up soon, because Breath of the Wild is finally coming out on March 3rd!

Thursday, January 19, 2017

A Post That Is Sort Of About Football, Post-Season Edition

I know, I know, the season's not completely over as there are two more real games - the Pro Bowl doesn't count - left to go. But it is for the Seahawks, so as far as I'm concerned, it's time for a post-season post that is sort of about football. Confused? Check out the season-opening post here and the mid-season post here.
Even my new blue-and-green sonic screwdriver could not save the Seahawks.
Arizona Cardinals: it's hard to be annoyingly good every year, isn't it?

Atlanta Falcons: congrats on your Madden-like offense.

Baltimore Ravens: two months ago I said "please beat the Cowboys this weekend (check back in January to see what kind of effect this statement had.)" Apparently it had a jinxing effect.

Buffalo Bills: they had the top rushing offense this year? How did that happen?

Carolina Panthers: I kept my mouth shut and the Seahawks beat them handily. Earl Thomas did get injured in that game, though, so there's that.

Chicago Bears: Mike Ditka looks really old in those new commercials for whatever it is he's selling.

Cincinnati Bengals: I can't believe those striped helmets have been around since 1981.

Cleveland Browns: hey, at least you won a game. And you still have the first pick in the 2017 draft.

Dallas Cowboys: last time I said "now the ex has gotten a new makeover and/or a fancy car and suddenly looks way hotter than you remember them." Well, now the ex has been dumped by whoever paid for that car and you're trying to take the high road and not bask in the sweet, sweet schadenfreude.

Denver Broncos: hey, at least you won last year's Super Bowl.

Detroit Lions: good game, fellas. Let's do it again sometime.

Green Bay Packers: two months ago, I said that they were jinxed. Well, yeah, maybe not so much now. Between them and the Falcons, I think the last team to have the ball on Sunday is going to win.

Houston Texans: hey, at least you made the playoffs.

Indianapolis Colts: I only just realized now, after five seasons, how cool and appropriate - albeit a little on-the-nose - it is for this team, with its horseshoe logo, to have a quarterback named "Luck." Seriously, you can't (and shouldn't) make up stuff like that.

Jacksonville Jaguars: so they did what I talked about last time and fired Gus Bradley. Seems like the odds of him coming back to Seattle are pretty slim, though, since Kris Richard didn't get the Buffalo job.

Kansas City Chiefs: I guess loud stadiums don't always pay off (look, the Seahawks lost to the Cardinals at home, blowing their chances for the #2 seed, so I feel ya.)

Los Angeles Rams: I will say nothing about their new coach since it will probably come back to bite the Seahawks next season.

Miami Dolphins: hey, at least you made the playoffs.

Minnesota Vikings: hey, at least you have an awesome new stadium.

New England Patriots: how does this team do it? They're the only ones to win a bazillion games every single year, no matter who is playing what position. Some people say it's because they cheat, but I'm thinking it's more because Bill Belichick is like the Gregg Popovich of football. Or maybe they cheat on top of that, who knows.

New Orleans Saints: do you guys want Jimmy Graham back? Great player, just no room for him in the Seahawks' scheme.

New York Giants: don't feel bad, the Seahawks ran into the Aaron Rodgers buzzsaw as well, as did your hated division rivals. I still remember when that guy was sitting in the green room of the 2005 draft looking morose and unwanted.

New York Jets: hey, at least you guys are based in New York, which seems like a fun city.

Oakland Raiders: Vegas-bound?

Philadelphia Eagles: I kept my mouth shut last time, and that seemed to work.

Pittsburgh Steelers: somehow I just knew you were going to end up back in the AFC Championship game. You're indestructible, like that Roethlisberger guy.

San Diego (Los Angeles) Chargers: I hate that new logo.

San Francisco 49ers: did they not want Tom Cable, or did he not want them? The world will (probably) never know.

Seattle Seahawks: I'm not a football expert by any means, and I defer the serious analysis to others, but it seems to me like the Seahawks, like most teams, have become too star-dependent - Earl Thomas being example A. They have a lot of stars, and Pete Carroll seems to do a good job, which is why they've reached the divisional round of the playoffs for five straight years. But can you imagine them going 3-1 without Russell Wilson, like how the Patriots did without Tom Brady this season? If they want to be more than the second- or third-most consistent team in the NFL (and I think Carroll has said that he "wants to do this better than anyone") then I think they have some stuff to figure out. Or, you know, maybe they can cheat.

Tampa Bay Buccaneers: super-glad the Seahawks aren't on their schedule next season.

Tennessee Titans: hey, at least you guys are based in Nashville, which I hear is a great music town.

Washington Redskins: helping to raise the profile of The Slants' trademark case.

Thursday, January 12, 2017

And Now, The Big Announcement!

Remember three months ago when I wrote a teaser post about some "big announcement"? Well, the time has finally come know what, I'm just gonna skip my opening remarks and get right to it. Joel Suzuki, come on down!
Joel: What? Already?
Me: Sure. You know what to say. No sense putting it off any longer.
Joel: Um, okay.
Joel: (clears throat)
Joel: As of today, January 12th, 2017, the Spectraland Saga will hereby be known as...should there be a drum roll?
Me: Good idea.
Me: (makes fake drum roll noise)
Joel: ...the Joel Suzuki Series!
Me: Woo!
Felicity: I never got to vote on this, by the way.
Joel: Yeah...sorry about that.
Felicity: Not your fault, dude. I blame this guy over here.
Me: You know why we did this.
Felicity: Yeah, yeah, I know. I'm just kidding. Mostly.

So as Joel just announced, the Spectraland Saga is now known as the Joel Suzuki Series. Why the change, you ask? Well, there are five main reasons:

1. Probably the most important one is that this series is, at its core, Joel's story. It's his coming-of-age journey as he progresses from being a childlike teenager to a confident young man (or, at least, that's where he might be headed. There are still many books to go!) My editor (the brilliant Susan DeFreitas of Indigo Editing - check out her debut novel Hot Season) pointed this out as she was working on Book Three, and I thought, you know, she's right. As always. So really, it just made sense to make Joel, and not Spectraland, the focal point of the series title.

2. It makes even more sense when you realize that Spectraland is not even the primary setting of Book Three. Most of the story takes place in another location called the Mono Realm. And not to give too much away, but future books in the series will introduce additional settings as well.

3. Moving from art to commerce, another reason is that I discovered that a lot of people seem to have trouble spelling, pronouncing, and/or remembering the word "Spectraland." I have to admit, even I do a quick double-check, just to be sure, whenever I type that word myself. In contrast, "Joel Suzuki" is a lot simpler and more familiar (thanks, Suzuki Motor Company), and I think that, in general, people connect better with the name of a person than the name of a place. There's obviously no way to know for sure, but I'd bet that Harry Potter wouldn't have been quite as popular if the series had been called "The Hogwarts Chronicles."

4. Sometime last year, I stumbled across a production company on the Internet called Spectraland. Now, just for the record, they started after me (Book One came out in 2012, while they began - publicly, at least - a year later), but I figured why not avoid confusion if at all possible? Also, there's now a movie out on Netflix called Spectral.

5. Speaking of movies, as you may have read in the recent Spectrums Magazine article, one of my goals is for this series to become a movie franchise. And I don't know if you've noticed this, but movie franchises (besides James Bond) generally like to have a unifying title for each film - e.g., the second and third (and fourth, sigh) installments in the Hunger Games movie adaptations weren't just called "Catching Fire" and "Mockingjay," they were called "The Hunger Games: Catching Fire" and "The Hunger Games: Mockingjay." And frankly, I just couldn't imagine casual viewers going to see something with "The Spectraland Saga" or even "Spectraland" as its unifying title...

     Dad: Can we get two adult and two children for Specter...uh, I mean, Septra, um, I mean...forget it, kids. Let's just watch "Cars 5" at 7:30, okay?

     Kids: Awwww

With all of these reasons coming together at roughly about the same time, I thought, "okay, well, maybe this is a change I finally need to make." I actually had thought about doing it earlier, but - as I mentioned in the teaser post - there was one major sticking point, which was that I didn't want to be too Harry Potter-ish and create something along the lines of "Joel Suzuki and the Secret of the Songshell." But now, I basically had to do it. So as I stood there in the shower on the morning of October 1st, 2016, I thought, "How can I do this but still make it my own? It has to be something that's different, something that captures the essential vibe of the series."

That's when it hit me: volumes. Of course! I would subtitle each book as "Volume one," "Volume two," etc. Because, you know, You see what I did there? So Book One would now be "Joel Suzuki, Volume One: Secret of the Songshell."* That was it! That was the answer! Excited, I cut my shower short and ran downstairs to my computer to write this idea down.

Once I did, I realized something else: if I was going to do this, I would have to go up to eleven. I mean, as all of us Spinal Tap fans know, you can't use the word "volume" and NOT go up to eleven. But did that mean...I would have to expand the series to eleven books?

As some of you may remember from this post, there was a specific reason why I decided that the, I mean, the Joel Suzuki Series would be seven books: mainly, because each book would correspond to a color on the visible light spectrum (Book One is the red book, Book Two is the orange book, then yellow, then green, etc.) But now, with eleven books, would I have to abandon that idea? I certainly didn't want to.

So I did some quickie research, and you'll never guess what I discovered. Lo and behold, it turns out that there are additional colors outside the visible spectrum, and that there are...wait for it...exactly four of them. Infrared, ultraviolet, black (the absence of all light), and white (the sum of all the colors). This could not get any more perfect. I was already thinking that since I had the whole seven-book story arc sketched out, any additional books would have to be "outside" the main storyline, and this just fit that idea to a T. The whole thing seemed like destiny.

And there you have it. The Big Announcement. There will be more in the coming weeks as we get closer to Book Three, um, I mean, Volume Three's launch, including cover reveals for all three books (because along with the new titles, we are getting all new, original, hand-drawn cover art by the incomparable Jill Colbert, who did the cover of Second Player Score's Nobody's Hero) and another exciting development that I will talk about later.

If you already own the first two books (which I know all of you do, right?) don't worry, the interiors are not changing...much. I had Susan do an edit of Volume One (she wasn't the original editor when that book first came out) just to make things consistent, but the story itself hasn't changed. Spectraland, as it appears in the books, is still called Spectraland. Of course, you could always just keep those copies as collector's items and buy the new versions for the cover art alone (wait 'til you see it).

Stay tuned!

* I know, it sounds just as long as something like "The Spectraland Saga: Secret of the Songshell," but it's punchier, and "Joel Suzuki" as the unifying title is simpler and looks better on a movie marquee than "Spectraland" or "The Spectraland Saga." Plus, unless they've been living in world without motorcycles, mom or dad should be able to pronounce it. It also sounds way better when you say it in that movie announcer voice - you know the one. C'mon, say it with me: "JOEL SUZUKI, Volume One: Secret of the Songshell. Now playing." Aww yeah, that's the stuff.

Thursday, January 5, 2017

2016: A Highlight Reel

Is it backwards that I did a 2017 looking-forward-to post last week and now I'm doing a 2016 retrospective after New Year's Day? I don't think so, because I had to make sure 2016 was over before I put this post together. I mean, who knows, some other awesome stuff could've happened during the last few days of the year!*
With that said, here are the highlights of the year and their associated blog posts, in chronological order:

When my friends from Los Angeles and Hawaii came to Book Two's launch party at Shanahan's. I had a great time hanging out with them. I also can't believe that Book Three was only about 40% done (and just the first draft!) at that point.

So much to choose from in this month! I think it's a tie between all the cool news coverage that Joel and company received and the author visit I did at my daughter's school.

READCON at Shahala Middle School was the highlight of this month, hands down. It even beats the fact that I finished the first draft of Book Three (which I will read one day and laaaaaugh).

So many cool things happening during Autism Awareness Month...Neue Regel Radio's annual 24 Hours For Autism Radiothon, Autism Empowerment's annual bowling tournament...and on top of that, I finally got to see Iron Maiden live.

Maybe it was discovering an awesome writing routine that really seems to work for me. Or maybe it was going to dinner at K-Town. Hard to decide.

Autism Empowerment celebrated our 5th birthday!

The drafts of Book Three and Album Two were completed, and the month was capped off with the super-fun Autism Empowerment picnic at Salmon Creek Park.

My son got his driver's license! Yes, this is a highlight, trust me.

My friends Charles and Kirsten got married in Hawaii! Yes, this is a highlight, trust me. Oh, and Comic-Con and the Zelda concert with my kids. Wow. What a month.

By far the high point of this month came when I had this revelation in the shower.

Album Two was released. And my daughter drew me a portrait of Joel and Felicity for my birthday. Awesomeness overload.

This article came out in Spectrums Magazine. My friends Mike and Tiff had their first child (yes, this is a highlight, trust me). My friends from Hawaii and Hawaii/Portland came to Album Two's release party. Rogue One.

Here's to an equally-or-even-more awesome 2017!

* No, I'm not being facetious. I'm choosing, for the sake of this post, to be positive