‘Be More Chill’ Book Vs Musical

Just a few weeks ago it was announced that Be More Chill would be making its off-Broadway debut this summer, which I found really timely considering that it was only a few weeks before that that I had immersed myself in Be More Chill. On the recommendation of a friend, I looked up a Be More Chill bootleg (though the best one I could find was about 75% black screen) and then listened to the soundtrack on repeat. Be More Chill was first a book by Ned Vizzini, so I also checked out a copy from the library, and I thought it’d be fun to compare the musical and the book so you know a bit more before the show gets super popular on BWay. Warning for light spoilers.

Be More Chill is about a kid in high school named Jeremy who’s so tired of being a loser that he buys an ingestible supercomputer in the form of a pill that lodges in your brain and tells you what to do. This computer is called a Squip, and the story follows Jeremy as he rises through the high school ranks and tries to balance relationships between his best friend Michael, his crush Christine, and the popular kids with the help of his Squip.

Image result for be more chill logo

Now, I listened to the musical before I read the book, and I wouldn’t have read it if I didn’t like the music so much. While I don’t think it’s the best musical ever and I could write a whole other post on what I don’t love about it, there are some cool songs and it employs a lot of neat synth/retro techno sounds so it is unique. The music is also very upbeat, and I always appreciate that. The music makes the musical, and I think Be More Chill does a good job taking this cool Squip plot and giving it life through songs.

Because really, if you take out the Squip, it’s just another high school coming of age story that is full of overdone high school tropes. The Squip and its incredibleness is the selling point of the plot. And it’s really needed, especially in the book because the book doesn’t have the music. What the book does have, unfortunately, is just a lot of awkwardness. The musical really toned down Jeremy’s cringey-ness. In the book, he keeps these tally charts of all his dorky interactions with classmates, and then he steals from his aunt to buy the Squip pill. Furthermore, he’s just a walking caricature of a typical high school boy in which he lusts over anything with boobs and is unable to have normal conversations with anyone, so it was a pretty uncomfortable read. Even the other characters had weird dialogue. Christine said weird things, and Michael was pretty underdeveloped and boring, and while Christine was odd in the musical too, she was a lot more likable there. Needless to say, I’m not a fan of Vizzini after this. So I’m glad that the musical changed and improved some of these aspects.

In regards to the Squip, there are some differences in its overall arc in the two mediums. In the book, Jeremy and the Squip just have some miscommunications and mistakes so Jeremy ends up getting rid of him. In the musical, it’s a lot more sinister, as the Squips try to take over. While this plot is a little cliche, at least there’s a problem to solve that keeps us interested, and at least it has a beginning, middle, and end that makes sense. The book’s ending feels very, very abrupt. But what bothered me the most about the Squip is that in both versions, Jeremy didn’t really learn anything. Like, there wasn’t some overarching message about being yourself or respecting women as people or not caring about popularity, and I feel like that would have been useful, especially in the book where Jeremy was just extremely ugh.

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To conclude, I do not suggest reading Be More Chill. The book was just a load of awful awkwardness. The musical is a lot better and far less cringy. I hope it does well on Broadway because it is a fun show, and Will Rolland is playing Jeremy, which I think will be great. And if you can’t get to NYC, go listen to the soundtrack. The best song is ‘Michael In The Bathroom’ (it’s not as weird as it sounds).

Have you read or seen or listened to Be More Chill? What are your thoughts on it?

P.S. The Be More Chill book was also adapted into a play. I know this because when I was looking for a musical bootleg, I found the play, and only realized it was the play when twenty minutes in, there had been no singing. From those twenty minutes, it seemed to be exactly like the book, so I’m glad I exed out of that one real quick.

 

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What No One Told Me About Writing And Self-Publishing

As you saw in my last post, I am now an official author! I wrote a real novel called The Time Company and it is available now! And while I am super proud and found the whole experience really cool, I’ll be the first to admit that I never planned on self-publishing. As I said in my novel post, the book’s work and publishing happened in a bookmaking course I took. If I hadn’t been in that course and learned about Createspace there, I probably wouldn’t have considered self-publishing. No offense to any self-pubbers out there, but the fact is, self-publishing is seen as the lesser option to traditional publishing, and though I’m thrilled that I was able to make my book my way, I kind of do believe that. But we’re not here to talk about that. We’re here to talk about what I learned over these past several months and what I had to teach myself because there’s a lot I wasn’t told. Self-publishing has been around for several years now, but it’s constantly evolving and in the grand scheme of things, it’s kind of new, so it’s understandable if you, like me, didn’t know a lot at the start.

The Writing

  • When self-publishing, you don’t have an editor or a manager. Sure, you can and should hire a copyeditor, but at the end of the day, you’re the boss, so some parts you want to write or keep in your book is not what should stay.
  • People may not tell it to you straight. I had friends and acquaintances read/edit my book, and while they all gave good feedback, there’s a chance that they were nicer to me because they knew me. Did they really like my characters? Was my plot actually okay? Was my writing decent enough? I may never know.
  • There will be errors. I had many, and honestly, there probably still are some. Oops and all, but I’m only human. My writing professor one day said, “every time you put your human hands on your manuscript, you mess it up a little.”
    flawed human gif
  • Editing sucks. I’m sure people actually do tell you this, but when you’re self-publishing and the editing is all on you, it gets so tedious. Compared to some, my book isn’t that long, but editing it took forever.
  • It’s really hard to write beautifully. Let me explain: I’ve always struggled with writing really deep, powerful, rich text. And so many times I’d try to do that, but I know it’s a weakness of mine. I don’t even know how to improve that. It’s just not how I write.
  • I am not JK Rowling, and people are not going to understand or enjoy all the writing choices I’ve made.
  • Furthermore, I likely won’t get a chance to explain the writing choices I’ve made.
  • You’re going to have days where you just hate your writing. Just power through those days.

 

The Self-Publishing

  • Fact: unless you’re a graphic designer, or know of one, your book won’t be as pretty as books you see in stores. My cover is simple, and I made it all by myself exactly to look exactly as I envisioned, but I don’t think people (other than my best friend) are looking at it and gasping at its beauty.
  • All online stores like Amazon or iTunes take a cut of the profits, and honestly, it’s a little unfair. In the movie Begin Again, there’s a line about authors getting “a buck a book” and I don’t know if that’s accurate, but selling self-published is only slightly better. My book is currently at about $12 dollars, and for every sale I make on Amazon, I get about $3. That’s the deal for selling on these big platforms, but I think it’s important to know.
  • It’s very anxiety-inducing. I’m a pretty chill person overall, but self-publishing is a big event and it got even me stressed. I had several stress-dreams about finding errors or having the uploading not work. But actually finding errors wasn’t any easier. Because you’re essentially going at this solo, there’s not a lot that can be done to alleviate this. Just do your best to stay calm and think logically and know that many before you have suffered the same.
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  • Because you can layout your book however you want, you have to sometimes put aside your preferences for the greater good. For example, I kind of wanted my page numbers in the center of the page because I like symmetry, but I knew that they’d be more effective in the corners so people can flip through the book easily.
  • You’re going to do a lot of research on self-publishing. What platforms, what programs, what prices. Because I wasn’t taught this in my bookmaking class, I had to do this on my own time. I read many articles, watched many YouTube videos, and I know there’s still more I could learn.
  • You’re not going to sell a lot. I don’t think people browse through Amazon self-published books the way people browse physical books in bookstores, so you have to do a lot of marketing and promotions, and even then there’s no guarantee. Make peace with this now.
  • Everything is up to you, and no one is going to tell you if you’re wrong.
  • You can do it! Self-publishing is not hard. Once you have the work written, this part is kind of fun. It’s time-consuming, but if you do have challenges, there are a lot of resources out there to help.

I hope this information was useful to you. I learned a lot so I wanted to pass it on to any future writers and/or self-publishers. If anyone has other questions about my book or the process, feel free to ask me in any way you choose!

That’s all for now!

P.S. As you can see below, I have a link to Goodreads. I’m new to it but I’m going to make an effort to use it to share the books I read and find new material, so please follow me or friend me or whatever it is we do on Goodreads!

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My Debut Novel ‘The Time Company’ Is Now Available!

This is the post I’ve been dreaming of sharing! My first novel is real and ready! I know I’ve been sitting on the details, but finally I can tell it all!

As I mentioned in this post, I took a bookmaking class in my final semester of university. This course was the program’s big thing, and you had to be interviewed to get in (though as long as you had material and a good GPA, you were approved). Most of my class wrote nonfiction and/or compiled nonfiction stories from previous classes, but as I said, I knew I didn’t want to do that. I had my old half-baked fiction novel, and I was determined to use that. So I began the process of opening the file, reading the awful, cringy garbage I wrote in high school, fixing it up, and adding another 20k words to end the story. Then I edited it several times, and then I sent it to be read by a few friends who volunteered to help me out (and I am very grateful for them).

By then the bookmaking class had started, and the prof had us get to work on learning how to typeset and design covers and understand the parts of a book. Now, the prof does own/manage a publishing company, so we originally thought that our books were getting traditionally published through that, but it turned out that Life Rattle Press is a “collective group of new writers” rather than a typical publishing company, so we actually published and printed our books with Createspace, which, for anyone unaware, is an Amazon affiliate site and a common tool for self-publishers. I knew nothing of the site going in, so I had to do a bunch of research on it, but I liked that because it was my book done my way, and I wanted to learn all I could. In the end, after my story got edited another few times and I designed a cover and typeset it all, I was ready to approve it for sale.

My novel is called The Time Company. My back of the book blurb reads:

There’s a secret company that produces and controls Time. When Cory’s missing father returns home after nine years, things aren’t what they seem. Before he knows it, Cory and his best friend are off to the Time Company to seek help and uncover a shocking scandal within.

It’s just over 60 thousand words and I describe it as an adventure novel with light fantasy elements (spoiler: the light fantasy element is dragons because I love dragons so of course I had to). I didn’t really have a target audience in mind when I wrote it, but my friends who read it believe it to be good for middle school readers, and I’m okay with this because it’s a book I think I would have enjoyed when I was growing up. If this book can make a mark on a kid the same way a few specific books did on me, then I can die happy. This is the only original story I’ve ever had that’s worth telling, so the fact that it’s finally seeing the light of day is outstanding for me.

I also tried to have my story not be super cliche in the sense that I really thought a lot about common tropes and how I presented characters. I really hope that comes across. I may not be the best writer ever, but at least I’m not serving you all the same old stuff again, ya know? The Time Company isn’t flawless, but it was created with love and passion.

So I’m an official author! I’m a writer! I was pretty pleased when my 16 page free iBook on Quidditch was published, but this is way more official! Being able to hold my own book, that I designed, in my hands and knowing that I wrote every word is indescribable. It’s a feeling only authors can relate to, and I’m so glad I can feel it.

So I’ve definitely convinced you to buy a copy, right? Right. Here’s how you can get one. The book is available on Amazon here in hard copy and here as an eBook for Kindles and other e-readers. It’s also available as an iBook on iTunes. Maybe you’re not into this genre, and that’s fine, but maybe you know someone who is? Tell your friends!

Image result for you know you want it gif

And what’s next for me? Aside from marketing my book on social media and building a bit of an author reputation for myself (how does one go about that???) I’m going to try and look into getting The Time Company traditionally published. In class, we did lightly touch on how to reach out to agents, so I want to see how that goes. I also have loose plans to make this into a trilogy. I have not started that yet, and honestly, I don’t know when I will, but it is an eventual goal of mine. I love my characters and I know there’s more to the world I’ve created, so I want to explore that one day. But I have just spent over a year working almost non-stop on this book, so we’re going to take a breather and enjoy this achievement for now!

Anyway, I’m so pleased to be able to share this after working on it for so long. I hope you buy a copy and I hope you enjoy it. I also plan to do a giveaway on Twitter soon, so keep an eye out for that. If you do buy it, feel free to write reviews or ratings or comments or something and send them my way! And for any real-life friends/family reading this, you can get a copy directly from me if you want.

That’s all for now!

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Books Are A Weird Medium

Books are great. People love books. I love books. It’s not uncommon to see someone’s Twitter bio say something along the lines of “lover of TV, books, and movies.” Books are seen as an equal medium to TV and movies. They’re just a different way to present a story and entertain the consumer, and that’s good and fine! But I’ve been thinking lately that books are a weird medium in several ways.

Snoopy reading

For one, where is their big award show? We have a billion music award shows and a bunch of TV and/or movie ones. We have theater awards and even Youtube/online media awards. So where are the big book award shows where authors and editors and publishers dress up and receive awards? Goodreads holding awards that users can vote for is nice, but there’s no big fancy award ceremony, which is weird because as I just said, books are seen as an equal medium.

And since we’re on the topic of awards, how come it seems that every book ever produced is a #1 New York Times Best Seller? They can’t all be number one. I mean, like, congrats to all the authors as that’s still #goals, but the New York Times needs to chill.

Another reason why books are a weird medium is how solo it is. Very rarely are there multiple authors for one book, and if there are, it’s usually some research book. I found a Goodreads list of 28 books by two authors, but even Goodreads only lists one author for categorization. We have songwriting duos (Pasek and Paul) and duo movie directors (Russo brothers), so why not writing duos? Think of how cool worldbuilding and plots could be if you had another person to contribute ideas…are share the typing/editing.

Cher from 'Clueless' saying "the more the merrier"

My fourth reason why books are a weird medium is that they haven’t really changed at all. Books from 100 years ago are quite similar to books now, except maybe the way they were printed has changed (perfect bound vs whatever was used back then). Movies and TV, though a lot more recent than books, have changed and adapted a lot since they began in terms of presentation, content, audience, and more, but books haven’t. Of course, there’s that “if it ain’t broke” saying, and I believe that here, but it’s definitely interesting how there aren’t really any books (that I can think of) that really shake up the medium.

The last reason why books are a weird medium is that they’re not actually that wildly popular. My dad doesn’t read books, a lot of my friends don’t read books, even I don’t read as much as I used to. The book industry is still huge and won’t be dying soon, but it’s weird that there are some people who can avoid reading books and live a normal life. It’d be weird if someone was like “yeah, I haven’t seen a movie in three years,” but I think a lot of people can say they haven’t read a book in three years for sure.

What are your thoughts on books as a medium?

Some lady saying "I do love books"

Anyway, if you couldn’t tell, this was a 2am idea, and then I also wrote a lot of it at 2am…

That’s all for now!

 

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I Wrote An iBook! And You Can Read It!

Guess who’s a published author? Meeeeee!

Leslie Knope smiling proudly
The exact face I made when I called my mom and told her

This past semester I took a course on iPad publishing because I had the prereq and heard good things about it from an upper-year student I asked last year. In this small class, we were each loaned an iPad for the semester, introduced to iBooks Author, and told to write, design, and publish an iBook. It could be on any topic and it could be as interactive as we’d like, as long as we use some design critical thinking and completed the assignment updates on time. I was originally going to write a book on how to start a blog, as that was something I had solid knowledge on, but then I had a better idea. What’s the one thing that people can never wrap their heads around when I tell them about it? Muggle Quidditch.The cover for Muggle Quidditch: Yes, It's Real!

Super nerdy, yes, and I feel like anyone who saw me working on it in the computer lab was hardcore judging me, but I am so proud of this book! It’s called Muggle Quidditch: Yes, It’s Real! and it’s a quick but comprehensive guide to the non-magical version of the sport. And since it’s an iBook, it’s colourful and interactive and fun to read. It is now available for download from Apple’s iBook store and it’s being offered for the low, low price of zero dollars and zero cents! Yes, it’s free! I mean, I thought about selling it for a small fee, but it’s only sixteen pages and I made it for a class, so the school credit and good grade is reward enough. Plus, it’s not like I’d make a living off of it! I’d much rather introduce the amazing sport to new people for free, anyway!

The book is available worldwide and it’s downloadable on iPhones, iPod Touches, Macs, and iPads, but the levels of interactivity make it best experienced on an iPad or a Mac.

Download Muggle Quidditch: Yes, It’s Real! by clicking here

I’ve mentioned my involvement with my school’s Quidditch team on my blog a few times before, and if you follow me on Twitter, you’ll probably see me tweet about it every once in a while, so through me, you may know the sport exists, but this guide really delves into all the smaller aspects that I know people are curious about.

Anyway, since it’s not being sold, whether you download it or not doesn’t really affect me, but if you have an interest in Harry Potter or this sport and want to learn more, please give it a read! I worked really, really, really hard on it and I’d love for people other than my mom and my teammates to enjoy it. If you do download it, I’d also love for you to take a few seconds to rate it on the iTunes store. It’d mean a lot!

Anyway, I’m so glad I can share this with you! I spent months working on it but I didn’t want to share news of it until it was available, so I’m thrilled to be able to tell everyone about it now! This is my first taste of official publication and it tastes super great! I can’t wait to deal with my actual novel at the end of next semester!

If you do download it, thank you so much! I hope you like it! And thanks in advance to everyone who’ll rate/review it and/or tell a friend!

That’s all for now!

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