Thursday, April 25, 2019

Volume Five Status Update: The More You Write, The More You Write

I'm happy to report that Joel Suzuki, Volume Five (the "Blue Book" in the series) is coming along quite nicely, thank you.
At the last status update eleven weeks ago, I told you that although I was at 35,000 words (roughly 140 pages), I had reached the usual "Stop, Regroup, and Rewrite" point that I'd encountered while working on Volumes Two through Four.

So, I poured some hot tea (or cold beer, depending on the time of day) and backtracked. I believe I ended up retreating to around 17,000 words or so, cutting out a bunch of stuff in the process. From there, I wrote, wrote, and wrote some more, and with the help of being able to reuse some of what I had already done, I was able to catch up to where I was, and then some. As a result, the Blue Book (I have a subtitle, but as usual, I'll be saving it for a future announcement) is now up to - drum roll - 44,000 words, or roughly 176 pages.

The funny thing is that it seems like the more stuff I'm working on at the same time (in addition to Volume Five, I'm concurrently writing additional issues of Glorified), the more I seem to be able to crank out. It's probably because writing is like exercise - when it becomes a regular part of your routine, it just gets easier to do. Or at least it seems to.

Anyway, at this rate, with any luck I'll be able to finish the first draft sometime this year, which puts us on track for a 2020 release - sooner than expected. We shall see!

Thursday, April 18, 2019

Favorite Time Loops

Time loops are fun. I love time loops! They're like Froot Loops (trademark: Kellogg's), but time-ier. Actually, no, they're nothing like Froot Loops at all. Forget I said that. They're like the movie Groundhog Day. Remember that one? With Bill Murray?
That was a classic. And certainly a favorite. But it's not alone; there are lots of other time loops featured in films and TV shows. It's a very popular plot device. It's a little different from "standard" time travel in that one of the characters - usually the main protagonist - gets stuck in a loop (hence the term) that they usually have to, and/or want to, break out of. Or, sometimes it's used to their advantage. Here are some of my favorites (WARNING: contains major spoilers. Which, now that I think about it, actually seems kind of appropriate for a post about time loops):

Happy Death Day
Okay, this isn't so much of a spoiler, since the movie's logline specifically says that the main character gets stuck in a time loop. But anyway, even though I'm not a big horror buff, I actually really enjoyed this film. Possibly because it was, in my opinion, more dark comedy than horror. Was that a spoiler? Anyway, I especially loved how they name-checked Groundhog Day near the end. I even managed to find a similar screen shot (see above)!

Doctor Who
Naturally, you would expect a long-running series whose main character is a "Time Lord" who travels through time and space to feature at least one, if not many, time loops. And sure enough, Doctor Who does! My favorite is the modern-era ninth season episode "Heaven Sent," where the Doctor - okay, this is a spoiler, for sure - uses the fact that he's trapped in a loop to chip away at a super-thick mineral wall over the equivalent of billions of years until he's able to escape.

Russian Doll
A lot of stuff was said about how this show was basically copying Happy Death Day's premise (the main character, a woman, gets stuck in a time loop on her birthday, which always ends in her dying), especially since it premiered right around the same time that Happy Death Day's sequel was released. But although the basic premise is similar, they really are two totally different things. If you watch them both, you'll know. It's kind of like how Captain Marvel, Battle Angel Alita, and Glorified (the companion graphic novel to my band's third album) could all be summed up as "amnesiac female warrior/soldier embarks on a search for her identity" but their actual stories are all quite divergent.

Doctor Strange
In the first MCU Doctor Strange movie, the good doctor uses a time loop to - spoiler! - defeat the seemingly omnipotent Big Bad by basically annoying the living heck out of him during the climactic battle sequence. I mean, if you had to hear Doctor Strange say "Dormammu, I've come to bargain" a million times over (or however many it was), I think you'd be ready to quit, too.

Madoka Magica
Naturally, anime also has its fair share of awesome time loops! Quite possibly none more awesome than the one from this show. It's a major, major spoiler (the picture above already gives you a hint) so I won't disclose too much, but suffice it to say that learning the existence of this loop was one of the moments (out of a lot) I had while watching this show where my mind was completely blown.

The Disastrous Life of Saiki K.
I'll say more about this show in the next installment of Anime Roundup, but I just wanted to mention it here because I LOVE LOVE LOVE how they use the time loop plot device to explain why multiple years of show time pass by while the characters always remain the same age. Sooo meta.

Joel Suzuki, Volume Four: Fable of the Fatewave
One of my favorite scenes in this book was - spoiler! - when Joel inadvertently ended up in a time loop while trying (and failing) to stop Blackspore from getting shot by the Six States ships.

So, there you have it: a baker's half-dozen of some of my favorite time loops. What are some of yours?

Thursday, April 11, 2019

April and Lydia Predict The 2019 MLB Season

Well, I figure that the time has come. Normally, I wouldn't want to introduce new people to my readers before their stories are officially published, but something - probably the hot start by the Seattle Mariners combined with the fact that I can't seem to stop mentioning them in other posts - is compelling me to do this now. So, please welcome the stars of my yet-to-be-produced spec script involving baseball, anime, philosophy, and magic: April Hayashi and Lydia Sanchez.
Brian: Good morning, you two.
April: Good morning.
Lydia: Morning. Or "ohayou," right? Isn't that how you say it in Japanese?
B: It is, yes.
L: I knew it! Man, watching all these anime shows with April is really starting to pay off.
A (laughs): Yeah, you'll be fluent in no time.
L: Hey, you hardly know the language yourself.
B: All right, so - why don't we start off by having you tell our readers a little bit about yourselves.
L (to April): You can go first.
A: Okay, well, I'm April Hayashi. I'm twenty-four years old, I was born and raised in Seattle, Washington, where I now live, and I work as a product manager for Amazon.
L: And I'm Lydia Sanchez. Everything she said is the same for me, except that I'm a programmer at Microsoft.
B: And you're both big Seattle Mariners fans, correct?
A: Correct.
L: Yep.
B: What do you think of how the season's going so far?
A: Couldn't be happier.
L: Ditto. But, you know, I can't say I'm exactly surprised.
B: Why's that?
L: Well, you know...I mean, how much can I say about the script?
A: Don't want to give away too many spoilers.
L: Let's just say that April and I are the ones who are responsible for all the winning that's going on right now.
A: Well, not completely.
L: Mostly, though.
B: I heard that the script actually predicted the exact date that the Mariners got eliminated from playoff contention last season.
L: It totally did! Almost like magic - which, by the way, we found out is for real. Right, April?
A: I guess.
L: What do you mean, you guess? Remember that card from Wendy's store? And the -
A: Lyd, spoilers!
L: Right, right.
B: So, on another subject - April, you're first cousins with Joel Suzuki, right?
A: Yeah, I am.
B: But your story doesn't overlap with his.
A: No, it's a completely separate thing. Although, there is a small connection...
L: Hey, who's giving away spoilers now?
A: I wasn't going to say any more.
L: Sure, yeah.
B: Back to the Mariners, what are your predictions for how the 2019 season is going to turn out?
A: Well, I don't want to sound too overconfident, but -
L: World Series champs, baby.
B: Seriously?
L: Yup. You heard it here first.
B: April, do you agree?
A: I...I guess?
L: Oh, c'mon, Hayashi, we were just talking about this other day. Remember, we won't be jinxing the team by saying it.
A: Okay, okay. Yeah. World Series champs.
L: Woohoo!
B: Well, there you have it, folks. April and Lydia have predicted that the Seattle Mariners are going to win the 2019 World Series. Ladies, thank you so much for stopping by today.
A: You're welcome.
L: Anytime.
B: I hope your story gets produced soon. Either way, though, please come back in the fall so we can revisit your prediction and see if it came true.
L: Both things are gonna happen, I'm telling you.
A: We will. And thanks for having us.
L: Always so polite.

Thursday, April 4, 2019

Active Acceptance

This is April. No, not the April who is the main protagonist of my baseball/anime/philosophy/magic screenplay (I've never introduced you to her before? Whoops), but April the month, aka Autism Acceptance Month.
You may have heard it referred to as "Autism Awareness Month," and that's okay too, but I like "Acceptance" because it goes a step further.

Acceptance is one of my favorite words, one of my favorite concepts. In fact, the main theme of the Joel Suzuki series - and a lot of my other works - is acceptance. Not passive acceptance, like when you allow yourself to be taken advantage of, but active acceptance, where you are the one making the choices.

You choose to forgive.

You choose to love.

You choose empathy. Sympathy. Compassion.

You choose to embrace who you are and who others are despite our differences and disagreements.

You choose to appreciate and emphasize the positives in spite of all the challenges that life throws at you.

You choose to be okay with whatever happens, good or bad.

You choose to not be a victim of circumstance, but rather a patient yet active participant who strives to make the world a better place for as many people as possible in whatever ways you can, big or small.

To paraphrase a line from the first Joel Suzuki book: you choose to be happy.

Happy Autism Acceptance Month, everyone. Let's make it a year-round thing.