Monday, November 05, 2018

One Last Spooky Song /// Music Monday #36

Spooktober may be over . . . but we can have another Halloween-themed song, right? After all, I only got to choose two last month, so we might as well do one more.


Today, we'll be listening to . . .

"1,000 Doors"
Composed by The Living Tombstone


This is for a game called Spooky's Jump Scare Mansion, formerly known as Spooky's House of Jump Scares (it was changed for copyright reasons, if I remember correctly). It's a seemingly cute game where you, the player, decide to explore the abandoned mansion on the hill to see if all the legends about it are true. You're greeted by a little ghost named Spooky, who challenges you to make it through all 1,000 doors of the mansion.

Initially, the only jumpscares you get are adorable little slime blobs, cupcakes, coffee mugs . . . even the spiders are cute! But that unsettling atmosphere is always in the background, putting you on edge to the point that even the quaint cardboard cut-outs popping from the wall surprises you. Then you meet the specimens, some of which are showcased in the music video. It's a downward spiral from there, where danger and creepy-crawlies are lurking around every corner. Even some of the cutsie jumpscares become disturbing.

Will you find out what happened to Spooky so long ago and what her plan is? Will you emerge victorious, or will you become a slave to the mansion's dark host? Well, you'd have to play the game to find out. Or you could watch a YouTube gamer play it. It works either way.

As for the song itself, I love how it encapsulates both the cheery façade and the underlying horror. The Living Tombstone's music is always so good, and he nailed it once again with this song. Plus, the combination of BSlick's and Crusher-P's voices is amazing. BSlick sounds exactly like I would imagine the dude exploring the mansion would, and Crusher-P crushes (see what I did there?) her lines, though short they may be, as Spooky. Also, the way the song cleverly hints at the game's lore while not giving it all away is fantastic. An all-around wonderful job!

Hope you all enjoyed the song! Have you played the game before? If so, were you jumpscared at any point? And if you haven't heard, I'm participating in NaNo this month, so there probably won't be a blog post this Friday. Sorry about that!

Friday, November 02, 2018

Monthly HapPENings: October

Well, 2018 seems to be drawing its last breaths . . .


I don't think anything out of the ordinary happened this last month. The biggest difference was me starting my new job on the 1st. My job now is being a direct support worker for people with disabilities. I supervise and work alongside them at a facility that gives them jobs so they can experience more of a . . . normal life, for lack of a better term. While it definitely has its challenges, and it can sometimes be mentally exhausting, I still love it. I'm gonna miss a lot of these people when I leave one day, which'll probably be a year or two down the road at this point.

Aside from that, nothing too exciting occurred. It was just me adjusting to the full-time life and savoring those sweet, work-free weekends. Oh, yeah! I almost forgot: I went to a friend's house over one of the weekends. I quite enjoyed it; we had fun watching a movie, playing games, and just plain chatting and hanging out. And thanks to both of us having full-time jobs, it made planning "super easy, barely an inconvenience." (Kudos to you if you got the reference and aren't any of my sisters.)

Bookish HapPENings

So I may still be reading the same book since I finished The Iron Trial in September. Whoopsie-doopsie. Here's to hoping I can finish my current stack before the year's end!

HapPENings on the Screen

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This was my third or fourth time seeing this movie, and it's been a while. I'd forgotten just how amazing it was. Though it wasn't confusing like it was the first time, I was still in awe of the masterful storytelling on display. Everything, from the increasing stakes to the puzzling--and intriguing--plot to the incredible score, was so on-point. You'd have to be crazy to never watch this film.

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I went into Ant-Man and the Wasp with virtually no expectations, aside from "I hope this is as funny as the first," which it totally was. As the article I linked above as the source mentioned, it's a nice breather from the heavy-hitting movies we've gotten lately and the ones we'll be seeing next year. I've always appreciated Scott's family-oriented nature, and that shines quite nicely in here. Plus, the music still had that awesome style from the first movie, so that was a bonus. An excellent piece of cinema overall!

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When I was at my friend's place, we watched Mad Max: Fury Road on his big projector screen. Man, was it a blast, somehow going with my expectations and subverting them at the same time. On the surface, it's an action-packed, two-hour-long car chase through the dystopian desert. But I honestly believe that when you peel back the layers, you find some pretty interesting and thought-provoking stuff. I wouldn't be doing it justice by trying to unravel it so briefly here, so maybe for another post? Oh, and the soundtrack was amazing in the context of the movie! (I'd only listened to it by itself before, and it's still epic that way too.)


S6's plot thickens, as the villain, Nadakhan, cleverly catches the heroes alone and imprisons them in his special sword. I still hold firm to the belief that each season is better that the last, and you can tell that the writers are acknowledging their audience's changing age. I also love the fact that one seemingly small thing--Jay not using his third and final wish from Nadakhan--is going to have a big impact in the season's finale.


Finally! My sisters and I are four episodes away from completing our rewatch of S1. Even though I know how it all goes down, the turn of events is still suspenseful and chilling as the heroes get closer to the Reverse-Flash. And I already know that the last episode is gonna make me cry. That's probably a sign of a good show, right?

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I decided to give Avatar: The Last Airbender a chance, and I'm actually quite enjoying it! I was appreciating how the plot and characters were being set up in the first episode, and the progression from there has been pretty good. It's a very entertaining show, and it's fun to throw in my own comments now and again when I'm watching with Chloe and Kaitlyn. I'm curious to see how the story unfolds throughout the rest of the season.

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I was interested in this show because it's written by the same guys who did the Ninjago show and The LEGO Ninjago Movie, and a good friend of mine recommended it to me. I've only watched one episode so far, and I'd already say it's quite entertaining. The main characters have been set up well, the plot is interesting thus far, and the villain was someone I didn't guess, but perhaps should've. I'm looking forward to watching more!

Gaming HapPENings

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I missed playing Breath of the Wild. Like, a LOT. It's just such a good game, and a very unique Zelda title. I hadn't played in what felt like a long time, and returning to it seemed like coming home. I've done some fun stuff, like crazy shield surfing that would've killed if I didn't have Daruk's protection. Or finding two stables that I've somehow managed to miss until now. Or exploring Gerudo Town for the secret club that has special clothing that reminds me of a Fortnite skin. Or waiting forever for a Stalnox to awaken in the night. It's just been a blast, and I need to play some more soon.

Writerly HapPENings

I've written about 1,200 words this month, most of which was for Mechanical Death, my creepy flash fiction I shared with you guys last week. And I realized that I was supposed to go over my writing goals last Monthly HapPENings post, but I forgot. Now I'll just wait to assess the whole year in December's summary.

On the subject of writing, if you don't follow me on Twitter, you won't have heard my big announcement: I'M PARTICIPATING IN NANO THIS YEAR WITH THE PORTAL CHRONICLES! It's my first time, which is why I'm so hyped. While I have no doubt it'll be fun, it will also eat up a lot of my spare time. So I'm not sure what my blogging's gonna look like in November. You'll definitely get both Music Monday posts, but I'm not sure what else. It will depend on how I feel and how the writing goes.

Anyway, I'm finally done. Thanks for listening to me blabber! What'd you guys do/read/watch/play/write last month? Are you participating in NaNo? If so, what's your project about?

Friday, October 26, 2018

Spooky Story Challenge 2018 + Voting Results

Halloween is almost upon us, which means it's time for a creepy tale! Every year on her blog, Jenelle Schmidt holds this challenge of sorts, where we write spooky stories--as the name of the challenge suggests--following whatever parameters she sets. This year, it's a flash fiction that must be a thousand words or less. (If you know me, you'll also know I had to cut a bit thanks to my excessive word vomiting.) I was able to sit down and write it in one shot, which I absolutely loved.

Now remember, if this is something you're interested in, you only have until the end of the month to link up to Jenelle's blog. I'm sure we'd all love to read whatever chilling story you have cooking in your brain, so feel free to join in the fun. I'll be sharing mine with you guys, but first, it's time to reveal the results of the polls.

To quickly bring you up to speed, last week I held polls to determine the genre, POV, and protagonist gender for my "choose your own adventure" series I'm starting in the beginning of 2019, which still doesn't have a name. And the winning results are . . .

Fantasy, first-person, male!

Thanks to everyone who voted on here and on Twitter. I'm really hoping that this venture goes well, so I appreciate all the support you've already given me. It's gonna be fun!

And now, it's time for the spooks! I may have borrowed Deborah O'Carroll's idea for the title card, so . . . thanks, Deb!


“We shouldn’t be here.”

Callum blew over a bookshelf, and dust spiraled into the air. “So you’ve said, but no one’s been here for ages. It’s not like they’re going to stop us.”

Brody stamped his foot on the grungy carpet. “Trespassing is illegal, you know.”

“Dude, have you no sense of adventure?” Callum shook his head and pocketed a ring set with a large diamond.

“Great, now we’ll be thieves as well.”

“Shut up.” Brushing past his friend, Callum headed deeper into the house—well, perhaps mansion was a better term to use. Every day, he saw its clock tower poking above the trees, and every day, it beckoned him. How could he resist forever? The only thing he regretted was dragging Brody with him.

Floorboards growled their displeasure ever so often. Critters scrambled away from his marching feet, and more dust sprang to life. The furniture and décor appeared to be a blend of the Victorian and Gothic styles. And there was clockwork.

Lots and lots of clockwork.

Clicking, clacking, clunking.

Brody raced to join him. “Where are you headed?”

“Where do you think? The central tower.”

“You must be crazy, heading to the most obvious location in a haunted house. Have you never watched any horror movies or played any spooky games? You’re literally one of those idiot main characters right now.”

Callum raised an eyebrow. “What do you think we’re gonna find? Specters? Wendigoes? Headless horsemen?”

“I think we should let the dead rest.”

“No one said anything about anyone being dead. Have you not noticed the footprints that are less dusty than the rest of the floor? Others have been here before.”

“Yeah, but where are they now?” Brody folded his arms in an almost-triumphant fashion.

Electing to ignore his friend’s overcautious nature, Callum stepped into a large circular room. In the center stood the base of the clock tower, a stone door giving entry to the stairwell. He walked toward it, ignoring the rest of the room. Brody piped up, “Callum, look.”

Callum halted in his tracks and turned to where Brody was pointing. A single portrait hung on the wall, ivy ensnaring its edges. A man, decked out in an old-fashioned conductor’s uniform, stood stiffly in front of a steam locomotive from the late 1800s. A woman and three children gathered around him.

“It’s creepy,” Brody whispered.

Callum rolled his eyes, then stared at the picture again. The more he looked at it, the more something unnerving clenched his spine. He shrugged it off. “Just a family photo. Nothing to see here.” He walked to the stairwell door, albeit a little quicker, and threw it open. “C’mon.”

Brody joined him in the ascension, leaving the door wide open. The stairs were surprisingly sturdy after years of no usage. They swirled higher and higher, hugging the wall the entire time. Callum led the way, Brody right at his heels.

Midway up, they heard a faint thud. Both of them paused mid-step, and Callum glanced down in an attempt to see the door. He couldn’t, but what he did notice was the complete lack of dust in this section of the mansion. Perhaps Brody was right to say we shouldn’t have come. There’s no way he’d admit that, though. He cleared his throat. “Must’ve been the clock’s gears. Let’s keep moving.”

Brody gulped and nodded.

Minutes later, they reached the top. All around them, the clockwork ticked and tocked, a mechanical masterpiece that stood the test of time. Besides that, there was nothing of note, save a large bell that hung from the ceiling. A single rope dangled tantalizingly, connected to the bell.

“Okay, we’ve seen it,” Brody said. “Now let’s head home before our parents get worried.”

“Not yet. There’s one last thing to do.” Callum strode to the rope.

“Oh, don’t you dare.” Brody held out his hand. “If there’s one I’ve learned from the horror genre, it’s that you don’t—”

Callum yanked the rope.

“—do that.” Brody took a step back.

The bell rang out, a crisp peal that echoed all around. And that was it. Everything was silent after.

Callum laughed. “So much for that.” Then it hit him.

Everything was silent.

That’s when the dull noise struck. It reverberated in the back of his skull, making his teeth ache. The floor shook beneath his feet, and a whistle howled.

“What did you do, Callum?!” Brody yelled.

The sound was getting louder. Callum clenched the sides of his head. “I didn’t—”

The far wall exploded in a blast of machinery and stone debris. A midnight-black locomotive barreled straight at them. The wheels ground into the wooden floor, throwing shards everywhere. Its engine roared like a burning devil.

Callum stood frozen. The cacophony glued him in place, unable to break his gaze from that wretched invention of demise seconds away from crushing every bone in his body.

Brody tackled him just in time. The train whipped past them, brakes screeching. Faster than any normal locomotive, it stopped right before breaking through the other wall.

The duo lay there, panting in fright. “What the actual frick?” Callum gasped.

A coach door slid open, revealing the conductor from the portrait. Except he wasn’t the same. His eyes glowed like smoldering embers; his skin was smooth metal, matching the color of the engine. His teeth were like that of a gear, and smoke swirled up and down his body.

“You . . . you’re connected to the train,” Brody said.

“Tickets, please,” the conductor hissed, the sound pinching Callum’s eardrums.

“We don’t have any,” he replied shakily.

“In that case . . .” The man whipped out two clock hands with chains attached to the pointed ends. He snapped them forward, and the chains looped around Callum’s and Brody’s wrists. He grinned. “Welcome aboard the Hellrider.”

“No!” Callum cried.

The conductor yanked the clock hands back, and Callum was thrown into the train.

Plunged into a world of mechanical death.

Well, what're your thoughts? Are you thoroughly spooked? I'd actually love to make this a full novel sometime--as if I needed more ideas. Any suggestions/constructive criticism for if I were to do so?

Monday, October 22, 2018

Spooky Nostalgia /// Music Monday #35

It's time for another spooky song, seeing as Halloween is next week. Are you ready for it?


Today's music is . . .

"Halloween Party 2017 - Main Theme" from Club Penguin Rewritten
Composed by ???


Okay, this is more nostalgic than it is genuinely creepy. (In fact, it's not really all that creepy.) It was originally from Club Penguin, used in every Halloween party that I can remember. After Disney decided to shut down the original flash game, which I think was a poor decision, a team of people recreated the game, now calling it Club Penguin Rewritten.

I imagine that at least a few of you reading this have played CP, but if you haven't, it was a free-to-play MMO where you created your own penguin to play games, participate in fun parties, and hang out with others. Before we had more computers in our house than just the family one, my sisters and I would go to the library and rent computers for an hour to play CP together. We'd often come up with these fun little stories, complete with changing our penguins' clothes to look the part. It was always a fun time.

I'm actually quite sad that Disney decided to move to the pay-to-play camp with Club Penguin Island, their project that replaced CP. You have to really have a great game to convince people to pay for memberships, and CPI just wasn't that game. That's probably why they're shutting it down too, a disappointing end to an amazing franchise.

But anyway, you didn't come to hear me rant about CP. But if you've never played the game, this music probably won't be terribly interesting to you. That's not at all saying it's bad outside of the context of the game, but having that experience with the music in the actual game . . . I dunno. It adds to the experience of it, I suppose.

Either way, I hope you enjoyed this little song! Did you ever play Club Penguin? Have you tried the recreated version? What'd you think of the music?

Friday, October 19, 2018

The Perfection of Imperfection

Last year, when a few of my buddies and I went to watch Justice League to celebrate my birthday, we had an interesting discussion on the way there. We were talking about CW's The Flash, and one of my friends interjected, "I'm tired of Barry making the same mistake over and over again. Why doesn't he learn?"

I argued, "Well, that's what we tend to do. We're often repeating our mistakes, even though we know the consequences."

His response shocked me: "But I don't want him to be like that. I want to be inspired by him to do better."

"But then he's not relatable," I said. "If he's not making mistakes, how're we supposed to identify with him?"

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I don't remember how the rest of the conversation panned out, but some writers (myself included) create a character who never messes up. Actually, based on what little I've planned about the new Portal Chronicles over the last few years, David is an example of this. He has no flaws; he's a "perfect" Christian. The others look up to him, but I realize now that readers look up to characters who are imperfect, yet do their best to do the right thing in spite of their brokenness.

See, the whole issue is a bit of a paradox. An imperfect character is the perfect one to use in a story, while a perfect character is the opposite. We as authors need to always be careful of this.

Let me give you an example. Suppose I have two characters, Ryan and Drake. Ryan is the embodiment of an unrealistic human. He never messes up. No temptation is a challenge for him; never does he stray in any regard. Drake, on the other hand, knows he's screws up. He makes bad choices. He succumbs to temptation; he tries his best to do right, but sometimes he does the wrong thing to get there.

Both set out on a journey to save their world from an evil power that has completely taken over. This villain ensures that the men encounter foes, lusts, and other traps along the way. Ryan breezes through. He recognizes those who pretend to be on his side and doesn't befriend them. When he is offered bountiful wealth, power, or satisfaction, he always turns them down. He bests the villain and saves the world.

Drake is in more of a pickle. He's vowed to always do what's right, but that doesn't mean he never wavers. He trusts the wrong people and ends up in deep trouble that costs him in some form or another. He considers taking the proffered power, as it might mean he can betray the villain when said antagonist doesn't expect it. But it might also hurt his integrity, or he might never want to lose that power. He turns down wealth and satisfaction, but it can be difficult sometime. Finally, after crawling through his deepest darkness and fighting off his worst demons, he manages to break the evil that has captured the land.

Tell me: at the end of the day, what're readers going to be appreciate more? Frankly, I don't think they would even bother finishing Ryan's story, that's how uninteresting it is. But we want to see the hero struggle and mess up, because we can never make the correct choices in life. Sometimes we give in to our temptations. So when the protagonist is imperfect and still strives to do good, we are inspired and look up to them.

Now, there can sometimes be a fine line between imperfection and immoral, so we need to make sure we establish that division. Of course, you can always go for a redemption story, but then you need to make sure that the character's change is believable. Captain Brixton in Maelstrom, a pirate story of mine, is an example of this. He becomes obsessed with a very precious diamond, to the point that he values it more than his crew, who are like family to him. It takes a monstrosity threatening the empire and the death of a crewmember to shake him from his ill state. Does that mean he's perfect right away? No, it's something he has to work on, and he's going to be challenged along the way. And that's what makes him interesting.

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You also have to be aware that not everyone is a fan of the imperfect character, even when that's the best type of protagonist. This is evident in Anne Elisabeth Stengl's Heartless. Because it's an allegory of Jesus establishing a relationship with us, Princess Una represents us. And let me tell you, she makes plenty of mistakes. This book actually got a lot of hate because of her. Just look up reviews and see how many people rail on her, not realizing that she is the ambassador for their imperfect nature. Mrs. Stengl wrote her that way for a reason, and they don't seem to understand that. But just because you might have a few haters for choosing that route does not mean you shouldn't.

To conclude, I'll bring it back to the example of Barry. He's often told not to mess with time, and he still does, even when seeing the disastrous consequences. Maybe it's the heat of a moment, or maybe his emotions are rampaging. Or perhaps he's like us and sometimes forgets just how bad things went down last time he made the same decision. At the end of the day, he tries to make things right, protect his loved ones, and save Central City from any threat that rises up. That is why he is such an amazing protagonist.

Never forget the power of the imperfect character.

This was a bit out of the blue, wasn't it? I figured I should do more writing tips on here, even if they might be kind of obvious. What'd you think of this post? Was it new for you, a good reminder, or something you'd never use? Let's discuss in the comments!

Thursday, October 18, 2018

Choose Your Own Adventure Series Polls

'Ello! This isn't really a full post, but rather just a quick way for me to give you a place to vote. If you've randomly stumbled upon this post and wonder what on earth I'm talking about, check out the end of last week's post.

The quick explanation is that in the beginning of 2019, I'm doing a story in the form of a post series, comparable to the "choose your own adventure" books. Each chapter ends with a choice that you vote on, and the most popular one wins. The plot evolves with the decisions you make and could either turn very good or very bad.

I need to start planning this bad boy out, so here are a few questions I want answered:

1. What genre should the story be?
A. Fantasy
B. Sci-fi
C. Dystopian
D. Pirate
E. Western

2. What POV should the story have?
A. First-person
B. Third-person

3. What gender should the protagonist be?
A. Male
B. Female

4. Do you have any witty ideas for what the post series should be called? (optional)

And that's all I need to know! But there's one last thing you should be aware of: you have a week to vote. All votes must be put in by Thursday the 25th, at 11:59pm. Any votes cast afterward will not be considered.

If you know of anyone who might be interested in this project, please share this post with them. I want to involve as many people as possible so we get the greatest experience out of it. I'll also be doing my best to raise awareness about this series over the next couple months. Later today, I'll be rolling out the polls on Twitter, but you can't vote in both. You must choose either the Blogger polls or the Twitter ones.

That's it from me! Thanks for your time and for your vote.

Friday, October 12, 2018

What the Future Holds

Hey! How y'all doing today? I just wanted to sit down and chat a bit with you guys. Please, grab a seat. I've got some chocolate milk or Mountain Dew, if you're interested. Don't worry, I'll wait until you're comfy.

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Now, you might be wondering what I'm talking about today. Do recall in my last Humble Beginnings post that I said I wanted to discuss what I'm doing with the Portal Chronicles after such a terrible start to the trilogy. I also would like to share a little about the post series that's going to fill the void that Humble Beginnings left. So let's begin.

I'm actually planning on rewriting the first book in the Portal Chronicles, and I'm 99% certain that I'll start on that project this week. I know, I was working on novelizing Darkened Slumber, but finishing the HB posts left a strong desire in me to start working on the PC. This story was what got me writing in the first place, and it still holds a very special place in my heart. And lemme tell you, a LOT is changing.

I think the first thing I want to mention is what actually got me to seriously think about rewriting the PC. (I never came up with a name for the first book, so I'll probably just refer to it as the Portal Chronicles, or PC.) I was in the shower one morning--showers offer some of the best story ideas--when I got an image in my head. It was of a man, but not just an ordinary man. No, this man had pistons in his legs that enabled him to jump from branch to branch as he ascended these tall trees in a forest. And something, somewhere, told me that this enhanced man was a part of the new PC.

I don't know how long it took, but I eventually came to this game-changing conclusion: Leviathan and Behemoth, the men who had transformed into a dragon and a bull, respectively, were no more. Instead, they became Jarek and Cronus, twin brothers who have been implanted with machinery and steel. Why? I'm not going to spoil that, but trust me when they are now much cooler villains than they ever were before. Jarek is also taking the role that Tarquin held, seeing as he will be stationed on Earth like the leader of the Portal Guardians was.

That brings me to another huge change. This is not your ordinary fantasy world. Erador (which is not being called Erador anymore, but I haven't come up with a new name) is a mix of classic fantasy elements and technology that is different from some of ours, not necessarily superior. At least, I'm fairly certain it isn't superior, but that's not really the point. What matters is that it makes my story world so much more unique than it was before. Yes, this isn't a new, innovative thing. Others have combined fantasy and sci-fi before. But I don't think it's done all that often, and everyone always has their own spin on something that's already been done.

A few things that are a part of this world's technology are the machinery parts inside the twins, some kind of boat that runs on a track above treetops, and SkyRings, flying discs used in tournaments and battles, as well as for fun. Remember that excerpt I posted in September of 2017? Yeah, that takes place in this new version of Erador that I'm creating. But don't worry, there's plenty of stuff in the fantasy vein, including relics. These artifacts hold various types of power, and there are a few very special--and very dangerous--ones. It's been fun creating this storyworld, and I hope that's conveyed in the novel itself.

One difference (which is probably very obvious) is the age and occupation of the characters. Rather than being adult soldiers, two from America and one from Canada, they'll all be high school students in an Ontario town I made up, called Lakeshore, that's located on the edge of Lake Superior. This'll make it easier to write more relatable characters. I honestly have no idea why I was having adult protagonists in a YA novel. It was really silly of me.

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To continue with the theme of obvious changes, I am most certainly not going to be dumping all of the different races into the first story. The characters aren't even going to be leaving the first continent in book one! Rather, I'll introduce both the species of creatures and their homelands a lot slower, book by book. This world is a lot more vast and complicated than it was originally, so I want to make sure everything gets the attention it deserves.

Wanna know how deeply I've planned this? Tracey and I sat down at least a few years ago and came up with population numbers for the various races. I've also been working on the Toreth language and come up with a few phrases, the names for the months, and so forth. (Seriously, I'm getting so pumped about this story just talking about it! I have GOT to start it this week.)

The biggest revision to the plot is the complete and utter removal of the Chosen One element. They will not be called to save the world by any prophecy, especially the dumb one I came up with way back when. They will decide for themselves if they will join the war. While this might require a little more effort to come up with a believable reason for them to do so, I've already nailed Mark's, and I don't think it'll be hard to make ones for Warren and David.

I'm not sure what else to really say without spoiling stuff, but I'll definitely share more with you guys in the future, if you're interested. My enthusiasm for this project is growing by the minute. Does this mean I'm no longer pumped about Darkened Slumber? Nope, not at all. But I feel like part of the reason I wanted to focus on that story was because publishers will sooner pick up a solo novel by an author rather than a series. And while Darkened Slumber is the start of a seven-book series, it can work as a stand-alone.

I think, at the end of the day, I need to write what I'm truly enthusiastic about. I can cross the publishing bridge when I get there. For now, I want to work on my first real brainchild, because I absolutely love it and want to see it develop into something amazing. I mean, who doesn't want their first published work to be their very first novel?

Let's switch gears and turn our attention to the new blog post series. It's something I've never seen anyone do, and it's a far bigger project than anything else I've done for The Steadfast Pen--yes, that includes my ten blogoversary videos. What I want to do is . . .

A "choose your own adventure" story, with you guys making the decisions!

I'm not going to be calling it "choose your own adventure," because I want something snappy that rolls off the tongue better. I haven't come up with a name yet, but if you have any suggestions, let me know. I also haven't decided some of the other details, such as the genre; I might be holding polls for that stuff on my Twitter profile as well as on here.

Here's how it's going to work: over the next few months, I'm going to plot out the story. I'll be sharing a chapter in one post, and it will always end with a decision that must be made. You will vote on what choice should be taken without knowing what all the consequences will be. The most popular decision wins and shall be used. It's kinda like those video games, such as Detroit: Become Human, that evolve with how you play and what you do.

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And in case you're wondering, I am not going to "cheat" in any way. For example, let's suppose the main character must choose to kill one of two characters, because one is the villain. I'm not going to switch who the villain is depending on who dies. If you make the right choice, I will stick with my plan. (Does that make sense?)

This is another project I'm super excited about, but I'm sure you understand why I'm not starting this until the new year. Plotting a story like this, and all the branching paths, is going to take a bit of time. That's why I'm going to be having those polls soon, so keep your eyes peeled for them. I need to know some of those details in order to actually start planning.

That concludes our little chat! I'd say the future looks bright. What do you think of my changes to the Portal Chronicles? What're your thoughts on the new post series? Thanks for stopping by, and have a great day.