Thursday, November 30, 2023

Neighborhood Toy Store Month

November is Neighborhood Toy Store Month! And yes, while today is the last day of November, our wonderful neighborhood toy store Kazoodles Toys is holding a bonus event this Saturday, December 2nd, called "Celebrate Local."
The day - or, more accurately, the five hours between 11am and 4pm - will feature brands with local (the Vancouver, WA area) ties, including MarmalsEarth Grown KidDoughs, Mukikim, Mirus Toys, eeBoo, Tonies, and yours truly, the author of the Joel Suzuki series.

So if you're in the area, stop on by and get your holiday shopping done!

Thursday, November 23, 2023

Thanksgiving Gratitude Post, Kumoricon Edition

I'm grateful for so many things (including the now-complete cast and crew of Hold My Beer), but I figured that just to be different, I'll list a bunch of stuff related to my attendance this past Saturday of Kumoricon 2023, the massive anime convention held in Portland, OR.
- The fact that Kumoricon is back and I was able to attend. The last time I went was in the before-times, in 2019.

- Even though the registration line took almost three hours to navigate (I really don't remember it being quite as long four years ago), I was still able to make it in time to get a couple of autographs that my son really wanted.

- I made it all the way to the "late night dance party" (pictured above) without needing a nap.

- The grilled chicken sandwich from one of the vendors, despite being naturally overpriced, was actually pretty good.

- The couple of panels I attended (Q&A with Anime Animators; Manga vs. Comics) were entertaining and informative.

- Even though the parking lot in the convention center was full (of course), I was able to find an alternate parking location that had lots of open stalls, was reasonably priced (yes, $20 is reasonable under the circumstances), had friendly attendants, and was good until midnight (handy, since I stayed for the aforementioned late night dance party).

Looking forward to next year!

Thursday, November 16, 2023

Words & Pictures Festival 2023

By the way, I forgot to mention (actually, I didn't really forget, it's just that I had a bunch of stuff all happening at around the same time and I only do these blog posts every Thursday for reasons that I can't even explain myself) that I, once again, took part in Vancouver's very own annual Words & Pictures Festival!
(Thanks to fellow author Gretchen McClellan for the photo. Check out her books. Seriously.)

As always, it was a lot of fun, and in addition to selling books (thanks to everyone who bought one!) I also got to do a presentation called "Song & Story Structure," where I talked about how songs and melodies that are catchy (like the "Happy Birthday" song, for example) are structured like stories, and also why anime theme songs are SOOO GOOD. Big thanks to library branch manager Rachael Ries and the staff at the Cascade Park Community Library for having me and for being such awesome hosts.

Looking forward to next year!

Thursday, November 9, 2023

Exciting Hold My Beer Update!

Happy and excited to introduce the young adult cast of Hold My Beer!
From left to right: Lydia Pearl Pentz, Ethan Blackwelder, Andrew York, and Ian Engelsman (the old guy on the far right in the Blazers shirt is the writer/director/producer). All four have extensive acting experience and we're very grateful to have them on board.

More updates to come!

Thursday, November 2, 2023

Southwest Washington Autism Conference

Yesterday I had the pleasure and privilege of attending the 13th Annual Southwest Washington Autism Conference in Centralia, WA (about 90 miles north of Vancouver) presented by the Lewis County Autism Coalition.
It was a one-day conference packed with informative panels, terrific vendors, and an amazing keynote speaker (more on that below). I was there as both a board member of Autism Empowerment as well as the author of the Joel Suzuki series, of which we donated a full seven-book set as a raffle prize.
Even after so many years of being involved in the autism community, I still find it awesome that almost wherever you go, you can find groups like the Lewis County Autism Coalition who are working to help make the world a more inclusive and accepting place for people of all abilities.

Oh, and the keynote speaker? None other than Autism Empowerment's own Karen Krejcha.
Karen did a fantastic job with a speech that was emotional, heartfelt, passionate, inspiring, educational, and, yes, empowering.

Big thanks to Karen and her husband John for allowing me to opportunity to attend the conference, and to Nicole Miller and the Lewis County Autism Coalition for putting on an awesome event.

Next, this coming Saturday I will be once again participating in the annual Words & Pictures Festival at the Cascade Park Community Library! This year, I'll be presenting a mini-workshop for young people called "Song and Story Structure," with tips on how to craft catchy tunes and captivating novels using examples from popular culture (anime theme songs, anyone?) as well as my own stuff. My workshop runs from 2:00-2:45pm, but the festival itself is from 10am-4:30pm, with lots of other great panels and presentations by local authors. There's also a virtual track for those who want to participate remotely. Hope to see you there!