Plot Twists! (February 2019) - Travis Senzaki

Plot Twists! (February 2019)

torii gate on way to mountains

Headed out to the mountains for a ski day with my daughter.


I don’t know about you, but January always requires extra mental gymnastics for me. I catch myself writing the previous year all the time, and the problem has only gotten worse since moving to Japan and having to factor in Imperial Era years at work. All of our budgeting and planning runs on the Imperial Calendar. So, 2019 is the year Heisei 31 (but only until April 31, when the Emperor plans to abdicate – then the new emperor will choose his own reign name). But at the same time, the fiscal year ends at the end of March, so it is still fiscal Heisei 30. Add to that the fact that we just got audited on fiscal Heisei 29 (2017 and part of 2018), and it’s no small wonder that my eyes are spinning in my head, right.

Look, Japan: I’m a fantasy author. If I made up a calendar system this ridiculous in a fantasy world, I would lose readers. (Right?) It hardly seems fair that the real world gets to be less logical than my fiction.

But that’s not a plot twist. This is.

What Breyik and I No Longer Have in Common

This is not much of a spoiler for Breyik the Apprentice, so feel free to read on.

Part of my inspiration for writing BtA, and indeed his entire series, was to explore the idea, conflicts, and consequences of living your life to others’ expectations – real and imagined. This is something I have struggled with my entire life. When I sat down to start writing Breyik, I was reading The Anatomy of Story, by John Truby, which is still the best writing advice book I have ever read, and he started with:

Write something that could change your life.

So, I chose expectations. If you’ve read even the blurb for BtA, you know it’s a story about him seeking promotion and advancement, but learning that the expectations were not what he expected. In my case, though I was not directly seeking promotion and advancement in nearly as forward a manner, I was still working in an environment where I had no idea if my work was appreciated.

And then I found out.

Can You Come to My Office?

It was Friday night, about half an hour before the end of the work day, when the Vice President called and asked me to stop by his office. “It will only take a few minutes.”

Now, having seen Office Space about a dozen times, I had an idea in my head about what happens on Friday nights, but this is Japan, and I have lifetime employment, so I stayed calm. It turns out, though, that I wasn’t the Michael Bolton in this scenario, I was the Peter.

He sat me down and with no preamble, told me that I had been promoted to Director, effective February.

I still haven’t come down off that excitement high. But at the same time, I’ve also been a walking knot of nervousness about the new role for the past two weeks. As this post goes out, I start today and have no idea what I’ll face.

I forsee a future Breyik book in which he ends up thrust into a position of leadership and has to adjust to the new role. (Although he’s not quite ready for that, yet).

Where is Breyik, Anyway?

Moving along! I finished the outline for Breyik the Swordsman earlier this month. Then, it took me less than two scenes of writing to divert from it. Oops. But it’s only a slight diversion and I should be back on track soon.

This is my first attempt at writing a fiction first draft since I wrote BtA back in 2017, so I’m still working those muscles back into shape and it is slow going for now, but I look forward to building my chops and picking up speed. To that end, I have started experimenting with dictation, too, to try to get the words out faster. So far, I only have a few days of working on the dictation, and like any new skill, it’s slow going for now. But, I anticipate major benefits later.

Getting Social

Over the New Year’s break, I started playing around with Instagram, really in an effort to be more aware of the magic of my surroundings. I have been posting photos there – and also to my Twitter and Facebook accounts – almost every day. If you are on any of those platforms, I would love to connect, so please click the links above and say hi!

Recently, there have been a lot of photos of snow because that’s what you get in Akita in the winter, but also some of my random musings, writing progress, and personal stories. The photo at the top of this article also came from those collections.

What’s Coming

I will be headed to Malaysia in the end of March for a conference. Malaysia was my first international education fair business trip as a university employee, seven years ago when I was just a contract employee at another university. I appreciate the timing of returning there now in a significantly different position. Pictures and stories to follow!

What I’m Reading

My book for the month in January was Kwaidan, a collection of translations of Japanese ghost and fairy stories that I had heard good things about. My hope was to be able to incorporate some Japanese legendary creatures into Breyik’s story, but the book was a bit of a disappointment. Most of the stories were kind of like the minor Grimmm’s Fairy Tales that nobody talks about and I was left scratching my head and wondering, “Huh?” most of the time.

It looks like I’ll need to seek another source if I want to pursue Japanese fairy stories in the future.

I am currently reading Blackmark (The Kingsmen Chronicles #1) by Jean Lowe Carlson. I’m only about 20% in and am enjoying the story, despite the author’s overly descriptive style. So far, there is an intriguing mystery, conflicted characters I can care about, and I just met the scheming villain. Once I finish it, I will let you know if I can recommend it or not.

What are you reading? Any good fantasy I should add to my selves? I actually have shelves now in my writing cave, and they are terribly bare.

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