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Welcome to my blog. Here, you will find information about my novels, life in Japan, as well as author interviews, discussions on writing, and more. Feel free to browse and if you enjoy a post, please comment. Thanks for reading!

Sunday, September 18, 2016

Excalibur Books Asked, I Answered

In anticipation of my newest novel hitting the shelves, Excalibur Books asked me some questions about it. Without further ado, here's what I had to say.



Could you tell us a little about yourself and your background? Sure. I'm a SF fan living in Japan. I taught English in the Japanese public school system at the junior high school level for five years. I'm no longer a teacher but I still live in Japan. When I'm not working or writing, you can usually catch me watching movies.

What genre are your books? Zero Sum Game is a science fiction novel; and my first book Adventure Hunters: Similitude is fantasy. That's all I have released so far.

What draws you to these genres? Despite growing up in the nature and beauty of Wyoming, I love science fiction. I love the escapism, SF's uses to explore social issues, its glimpses into the possible what-ifs futures, and of course the cool tech.

What was the main inspiration for Zero Sum Game? I wanted to write a SF/superheroine novel where the protagonist's powers are derived from her school uniform. In Japan, the school uniform is a big part of a student's life. Some students even choose their future high school or university based on the look of the uniform. I worked backwards from that: why does her uniform giver her super powers, where did it come from, how did she get it, and all sorts of other questions. Using that as a basis, I came up with ZSG.

Kanae Yagi at the 2016 Rio Olympics
Give us an insight into Hina Takamachi. What does she do that is so special? Hina was a difficult character to write, much more so than her friends and teachers and other minor characters in the novel. I wanted her to be a good girl but certainly not a Mary Sue. One thing I wanted her to be was athletic. I originally made her a volleyball player but I changed it to her being an Olympic weightlifter. I wanted to show that girls could be strong and still like fashion and be somewhat girly and have friends that support her activities. Olympic athlete Kanae Yagi was a big inspiration for Hina.

What aspects of Japanese culture do you include in your fiction? Deciding to make Hina a junior high student was a difficult choice. I didn't want ZSG to be a young adult novel but I wasn't sure if such a young main character could sell a book. If I had made her high school or college-aged, it might have been easier. But I had only taught junior high students. I specifically wanted to include lesser-known aspects of school life and culture that most people might not know. The hardest part was trying to figure out what I could explain in the book, and what would slow it down too much and best be left as notes and annotations on my website.

What's it like being a non-Japanese author living and writing in Japan? It's interesting to say the least! By being a bit of an outsider I think I'm able to observe things a bit differently than natives. I hope I can further add touches of culture and traditions to my works set in Japan. What's been the most difficult is that most of my Japanese friends don't read English, so they can't read my books! I hope to have them translated into Japanese one day.

Starring...Miki Nonaka?
Which actor/actress would you like to see playing the lead character from your most recent book? That is a tough one and something I have thought about. I based Hina's look on Kanae Yagi and a model named Mana Yuzuki. But both are too old now to play Hina in a movie. I'm not sure who the most current actresses are in Hina's age range but I think Morning Musume '16's Miki Nonaka would be a good fit.

What else have you written? The aforementioned Adventure Hunters: Similitude; as well as a variety of articles for the Star Trek international fan group the 1701st, In Genre, and the magazine Preview, which is distributed on a military base here in Japan.

Where can we buy or see them? Both novels are available on Amazon in ebook and paperback formats. Zero Sum Game can be found here and Adventure Hunters: Similitude is here.

Which writers inspire you? Christopher L. Bennett and Stephen Baxter for incorporating hard science into their books. Bennett's original novel Only Superhuman is a recommended book that mixes superheroes and hard science. Manifold: Time by Baxter has always stuck with me. Neil Gaiman uses words in a magical way. I love his style and prose. The Ocean At The End Of The Lane is one of the best books I've read in a long time. I love Jeffery Deaver for his thriller twist and turns that take you by surprise, even though the clues were there all along. I recommend his novel The Cold Moon. And of course the King, as in Stephen. When I'm unsure how to write something, I look at how he does it. On Writing is my writing bible.

Do you have a special time to write or how is your day structured? Like almost all authors it seems I never have enough time to write! When I am writing a first draft, I try to get 500 words a day done. If I know I can't or I'm in the editing and rewriting phase, I try to work for half an hour every day. I find my best writing time usually starts around 10am, but I can only write at night because of my job. On my days off work I try to write in the morning.

Do you work to an outline or plot or do you prefer just see where an idea takes you? I am definitely a plotter. I tried writing a story with no outline and just got lost after the first act. I'm very particular about my outlines because I am a stickler for structure. I guess that comes from writing screenplays before I started writing novels. For short stories, while I may have a specific scene or goal in mind, I usually don't outline them.

For your own reading, do you prefer ebooks or traditional paper/hard back books? Ebooks. Lately I have read and bought more paperbacks but I like the portability of ebooks. I can fit a thousand books in my pocket.

What book/s are you reading at present? Twenty Thousand Leagues Under The Seas by Jules Verne, who was also born on my birthday.

Do you let the book stew – leave it for a month and then come back to it to edit? Yes. After the first draft is done, I usually wait six weeks before returning to it. I have the day marked on my calendar. I try to start a new project and forget about the draft but it usually sits in the back of my mind.

Who edited your book and how did you select him/her? Nikki Bennett, a fabulous YA author and friend, edited my book for me. We met at a writer's meeting and she had already self-published several books.

Who designed your book cover/s? Steph's Cover Design. She also did great work on Excalibur's Voice trilogy and The Mists of Osorezan.

What would you say are the main advantages and disadvantages of self-publishing against being published or the other way around? Without a doubt, marketing. That is the biggest disadvantage for self-publishing and the biggest advantage for traditional. Marketing is a social and selling trade and most authors just aren't like that. Another advantage of traditional publishing is having a cover artist/designer. There are, sadly, some tremendously horrible self-made covers out there. The biggest advantage for self-publishing is creative control. You can write as niche as you want and not worry about editors telling you "It won't sell." As a reader, that adds a whole lot a variety to your reading.

How do you relax? Watching movies, usually at home on my days off. I average about two a week. And I love going to the Japanese movie theater a lot more than an American theater. It's a lot more subdued and easygoing.

How can readers discover more about you and you work? Follow me on my social media accounts. Don't be shy about leaving reviews, likes, or comments. I want to hear from my readers and interact with them.


Social Media Links
Resonant Blue (blog)
Facebook Page
Twitter
Amazon Author Page
Instagram


I'd like to thank Excalibur Books for the interview and I hope you enjoyed it. As always, thank you for reading.

Friday, September 02, 2016

Zero Sum Game Now Available

I can finally say: my newest book is available!

Zero Sum Game is available for pre-order on Amazon. It will be published on September 16 and will come in both ebook and paperback formats.
Here is the official description "The resurrection of one world will mean the destruction of another.

The homeworld of the alien Noigel has been annihilated. Their existence as a species is on a razor's edge. But they have found a replacement: Earth. But it must be changed to suit their needs. If they succeed, all of humanity will perish.

When an alien secret agent is killed, his technology and mission are given to Hina Takamachi. The Japanese schoolgirl discovers the alien's battle suit gives her incredible powers, just like the anime heroines she admired as a kid. The battle suit's artificial intelligence, whom Hina names Voice, informs her that only she can save the world from the Noigel.

With Voice training and guiding her, Hina must overcome her own self-doubts and find the courage to stop the Noigel's plan.

For one world to win, the other must lose."

I've very excited about this release, as it is my first associated with Excalibur Books. I'll be joining other talented writers like John Paul Catton and Zoe Drake.

I hope you enjoy Zero Sum Game!

Monday, July 18, 2016

Cabin In The Woods

I've always liked and disliked the whole "if you were stuck on a deserted island..." scenario. I thought it was interesting in that it made you think about your favorite books and movies and talking about them with the people who asked that question. On the other hand, it always bothered me that I would either have my favorite stuff on me when I accidentally crashed onto an island or that I would knowingly go to a deserted island in the first place.

After seeing several memes that did a variation on that scenario, I present you with the "cabin in the woods." It's the same basic game of having you think of your favorite things. Here is the situation: you're invited to spend a year in a secluded cabin. There is no wifi or internet and the TV doesn't receive any outside signal. Your news comes from a newspaper delivered once a week. All the food and necessities you need are provided for. You're allowed to bring the following:

1 music album
1 movie
1 book
1 TV show on disc

Which do you choose to bring for a whole year?

This is what I would have in my cabin in the woods.

Music - Platinum 9 Disc by Morning Musume. It contains my all time favorite song Resonant Blue. I could live with that.
Movie - Batman V Superman: Dawn Of Justice. I love this movie despite what critics say. There is so much going on to make it rewatchable.
Book - The Shining. This was a tough one. But a family trapped in the mountains in a haunted hotel? Appropriate.
TV show - The Big Bang Theory. Again, another tough call. But I'd want something funny to help me through.

How about you, readers? Could you live Internet free for a year if you had your favorites? Comment below about what you would take to your cabin in the woods.

Tuesday, July 12, 2016

A Reboot Of An Adaptation Of A Remake?

There's been a lot of talk of Hollywood running out of ideas and building franchises and redoing older movies, many that don't seem necessary. One that is coming out is IT, based on the novel from Stephen King. There was a TV-movie made in 1990. A lot of sites have called the upcoming movie a remake and that bothers me. Lately, remake, adaptation, and reboot have been used somewhat interchangeably.

The new version of IT, is not a remake. It's an adaptation. An adaptation is taking the story and characters from one medium, like a novel, and bringing it into a different medium, like film. Many great films are adaptations: The Shawshank Redemption, Jaws, Schindler's List, The Silence Of the Lambs, and a host of others. The new IT is simply another adaption of the same book. Quite a few novels and short stories have been adapted several times over. How many different versions of Romeo and Juliet have there been. It's not limited to books to film. It can go the other way too. The movie novelizations that are tie-ins for the films are adaptations and when they make a video game based on a move, that's an adaption as well.

A remake is different. It's taking the story and characters from one medium and retelling it in thew same medium. Again, film is the most common version. 2010's A Nightmare On Elm Street was a remake because Wes Craven's original work was a film. It wasn't a novel or play or comic book. The key, at least to me, is that both versions must be in the same medium; whether that's film or print or music.

A reboot is a little harder for me to define. It seems one of the characteristics, though, is that most of them are starting a series. Reboot sounds less harsh than remake. The latter sounds like you are discarding everything and starting from scratch. Reboot sounds a bit nicer, and conjures up the images of computers, which is probably where it came from. A rebooted film, to me at least, sounds like all the previous parts are there but they weren't working well together, so the filmmakers are trying to find what did work and give it another go. Most reboots aren't direct adaptations but they don't seem to be flat-out remakes. Reboots seem to have previous films but the new film ignores the previous continuity. Casino Royale with Daniel Craig is a reboot (and quite a bit of an adaption of Ian Flemming's novel). 2009's Star Trek is a reboot. The goal of reboots, as opposed to remakes, seems to be restarting a series or franchise.

There you have it. My definition of these terms, which, of course, you are very welcome to disagree with.

As always, thanks for reading!

Monday, June 20, 2016

Big Screen Cartoons

With the announcement of a new animated Garfield movie hitting theaters, it got me thinking. It seems when a cartoon is heading to the big screen two versions are made: a live action version or a live action/CGI mixture. Some have been successful and some have been bombs.

But why the change? Why not just take it pretty much as is to the big screen with a bigger budget? If it was successful on TV, then part of that success should translate over to a feature film.

And while I really like Disney, I feel there are so many lost animated opportunities for companies to build franchises. It seems like Disney is about the only company that can or is allowed to make animated movies. I know others, like Pixar and Sony and Dreamworks make them too. But I feel like that as soon as you say "animated movie" people think of Disney.

With the surge in reboots and remakes, I think there are a lot of opportunities for cartoons of the past to make a big screen debut. Maybe I'm just reminiscing about my childhood but here are some cartoons I'd love to see as full animated movies.

Thundercats
Adventures of the Gummi Bears
M.A.S.K
She-ra
Captain Planet


I think most of these could be reworked into animated feature films that could be successful.

As always, thank you for reading.

Sunday, June 12, 2016

The Year's Reading So Far...

I like taking Goodreads's yearly challenge to read X many books in a year. My goal this year is 12. That's modest, averaging a book a month. It's only June and I've completed 7 book so far. Here they are in no particular order:

The Martian
61 Hours
Battlefield Earth 
The Mists of Osorezan 
Beautiful Chaos
Judgement of the Judoon
Fahrenheit 451

I've enjoyed all these books. All except Battlefield Earth were first time reads for me. 

How about you, readers? Come across any good books lately? Do you have your summer reading list already planned? 

As always, thanks for reading! 

Tuesday, April 05, 2016

Almost There!

The cover art for my second book, Zero Sum Game, is finished. It looks great and I can't wait to reveal it. There are two more steps in the process: the cover art needs text to be worked into a final unified design and the manuscript needs formatting into ebook and print editions. After that, it hits the market!

Like my first novel, Zero Sum Game will be Amazon exclusive. There will be ebook and print versions to match your reading preference.

I had hoped to release it this last year but I procrastinated on the cover, going back and forth between line artwork or photographic, and time just stretched out. But I am happy to say it is back on track and, while I love this book, I'll be glad to put it behind me and continue working on my third novel. That's write (see the pun I did there?), I am already working on a third book. I can't tell you more than that.

Happy reading!

Monday, March 28, 2016

Adventure Hunters: Similitude Update

Hello everyone!

Independent authors are always learning of and trying new ways to get book in front of readers. And if we ask ten different marketing experts how to do that, we'll get ten different responses.

In an attempt to try something new to help promote Adventure Hunters: Similitude, I am, for the time being, making it an Amazon exclusive. The ebook version will only be available via the Kindle Store. This doesn't mean exclusively to the Kindle device, as long as you have a Kindle reading app on an iPad or other device, you can still purchase the novel. The print version will still be available through Amazon and CreateSpace.

I'm doing this for several reasons. Amazon offers quite a few incentives for authors. Plus, I now have one centralized location to control the marketing of my book, as opposed to logging into the various sites for various distribution. Most of my previous sales (thank you, readers!) have come from Amazon. My second place distributor was Barnes and Noble and that was a distant second. Also, when potential readers asked me where they could buy Adventure Hunters, the first place I said was Amazon. Everyone knows it and almost everyone has shopped there at least once.

There you have it. I'll probably have Similitude as Amazon only for the rest of the year and see how sales pan out. Maybe it will work. Maybe it won't. Maybe it will stay the same.

Happy reading!


Tuesday, March 08, 2016

Writing For The 1701st

As you may or may not know, I'm a member of the Star Trek fan organization the 1701st. I also write articles for them and have three up on the site. I'd really appreciate it if you would take a look. Also take time to check out their website and the great organization that is spreading Gene Roddenberry's message of optimism. Live long and prosper!

The 1701st: A Star Trek Fan Organization

Monday, February 15, 2016

Tokyo 2016

Last week I took a much needed vacation to Tokyo. It was to get away from work, from Yamaguchi, from everything, for a short while. As with almost all vacations it was all too brief; I was there for only 3 full days and could have easily stayed another two weeks if I didn't have this nastiness called work that needs to be done.

I met a friend up there, a fellow author, and he showed me a nice section of Tokyo called Jimbocho that is famous for its bookstores. I found a place that sold a lot of American comics in English. I was immediately transported back to my childhood. I spent some money on mostly Image comic but also picked up a trade paperback of Frank Miller and Jim Lee's All Star Batman & Robin The Boy Wonder. I had heard good things about it and I love Lee's art.

I also spent time in Akihabara, meeting in person for the first time a fellow I had only chatted with online. We had fun geeking out and I bought a She-Hulk figure, much to my wife's dismay.

The highlight of my trip was spending the day in Odaiba. Although I had been there many times before, this was the first that I got to view the life-size Gundam and go into Fuji TV. Sadly, the tour section of Fuji TV was closed. The view from the spherical observation deck is fantastic. I never get tired of taking pictures of Odaiba.

I'm not a Gundam fan but it was a thrill seeing it. The thing is huge! The picture doesn't do it justice. The ankle joint itself comes to my head. It turns its head (and in the summer I think shoots out a mist of water). The projection mapping at night was a neat show. I really enjoyed it.

As always, my time in Tokyo was too short and I can't wait to go back.