NaNoWriMo 2021 – Final 24 Hours!

Okay, I’ve finally found time to do another blog post journaling my experience doing NaNoWriMo now that it’s… Omigosh – November 30th!


Well…that happened.

Yeah, I expected to be blogging a lot more this time around, but multitudinal obligations took up a lot of my time, one of them being doing NaNo itself. Even more than in previous years, I found myself just barely managing to make quota on most days.

Has anyone else had that experience?

As suspected, I did come to finish off the essential aspects of the story and clock in at about halfway between 50,000 and 60,000 words, as I did with my previous two NaNo projects, even though this one followed a very different story arc than the last two. At this point, all I’m left with to work on is two and a half chapters to edit, and possibly another scene to add if time permits (saved for last because the story functions without it but I still think it would be fun to include). And there are some last-minute bits of research I should do as well.

As for why this year’s project was more of a challenge for me, I’m not quite sure. Maybe my brain is dealing with Blank Page Syndrome differently than it used to. I know it’s not that my life actually busier (at least not these days). It could be partly due to the fact that I hold elves with a higher reverence than I do any of the groups I’ve done for NaNo before, and wanted to make sure that I did each character concept justice. It could also be that writing zombies is a much deeper foray into the actual Horror genre than what I’ve done before, and it proved to be more of an exercise than expected for my brain to learn the styling for it.

It could also be the juxtaposition I had mentioned before, of putting elves and zombies into the same story and seeing how the two completely opposite tones interact with and play off of each other. The experiment certainly bore some interesting creative results. When I set out to write a story predominantly featuring elves, I didn’t expect the dialogue to turn into such a sassy snark-fest, but that is the direction a lot of it took. Perhaps it’s true what they say, and zombie apocalypses just bring out the worst in people.

How is your NaNoWriMo journey coming along? Are you all finished? Is there more work to do through December or the coming New Year? Do you need a vacation after all of this? Let me know in the comments! I’d love to hear from you 🙂

Posted in Horror Vs. Fantasy, My Books, NaNoWriMo, Personal, Storytelling, Writing | Tagged , , , , | 2 Comments

NaNoWriMo 2021 – Week 2

Hello people! How’s your NaNoWriMo project going so far?

We’re coming close to the mid-point now and, though I can say that I’m managing to keep up with the daily wordcount quota, I’m not sure I can say the same for the story as a whole. The more I look at the amount of detail I’ve been putting into it and the amount of story left to go, next to the amount of time left in the month, this easily looks like a project that could go over the 50,000 word count.

I was more nervous until I finally got to the first big action sequence, and then another action sequence the very next day. With those down I seem to be feeling a bit better. (I seem to orient my sense of story progress around the action scenes for some reason.) A couple of mini/teaser action bits had been mixed into the early chapters to give the audience a sense of what’s to come, but the ‘all hell breaks loose’ moment is saved for later. This is a change of pace for me, who likes to both start and end big on action. Anticipation can be a powerful tool though, if I use it correctly.

But the added scenes, plus the larger number of characters to introduce, meant that Act I takes up a bit more space than my first acts normally do, making me feel for a while like I was behind in terms of the percentage of the story left to go. On the other hand, Act II may be shorter than first thought, and I tend to write final acts pretty quick anyway, so I may be (hopefully) still on track.

Writing a zombie story has a very different feel to it as well, once I researched the genre. (Spoiler alert – a lot of characters are going to die.) One aspect of this is that it requires writing more characters into the story, just so that I’m not running out of characters too fast. As a result, coming up with characters for this story had a very different feel to it. Normally when inventing characters I like to think about their potential in the story, what they may get up to in a sequel, romantic interests – all that exciting and optimistic stuff. For this story, almost every time I invented a character my first thought was “How do I want them to die?” And then I added backstory and personality to them just so that their ends are more tragic. A very different approach than what I’m used to! It’s also the reason I opted not to have pets in this story. Have you been watching The Walking Dead? Pets don’t have a good track record in zombie stories.

As I’ve been doing character inspiration intake, one of the characters I’ve roleplayed as the most in video games is, yep, already dead, barely a third of the way into NaNo. Not that I’m crying about it or anything…

What about you guys? With the project you’re doing now, have you had to make any changes to how you normally approach your stories? Have you had to learn any new techniques this year? Let me know in the comments! I’d love to hear from you 🙂

Posted in Horror Vs. Fantasy, NaNoWriMo, Personal, Storytelling, Writing | Tagged , , , , , | 2 Comments

NaNoWriMo 2021 – First Week!

Okay. I finally got a breather.

Hey there! How’s everyone’s NaNo project coming along? I’m trying to do on average 2,000 words a day and it’s been a struggle to keep up.

As far as the story, so far I’ve yet to complete the opening scene. I got a late start on November 1st and, just to make the quota, I did what I did last year and focused on scenes I already have pretty clear in my head – mostly dialogue, so very little of what I’ve gotten down so far is actually in sequence. Some paragraphs are likely to get shifted around as well once I start editing and check the flow.

The problem is, compared to last year’s project, it’s less that I have specific dialogue planned out and more that  I have a ‘feel’ of certain character dynamics and interactions. So to write those scenes I really need to just start from the beginning of the scene and let the dialogue appear. And the problem with that is that, with zombie apocalypses being so chaotic by nature, I’m not 100% sure who is still going to be alive by certain points in the story! This is an unusual dynamic for me to work with, but is also exciting!

New character concepts have been popping up in my mind as well, even right up to the final days before starting NaNo, and more ideas may come as inspiration does. So plans could get derailed on occasion for the sake of newer and better ideas. I’ll be trying to keep an open mind during this project.

Speaking of which, I’m finally ready to publicly unveil the full title for this year’s Horror Vs Fantasy project.

(Drum roll)

Elves Vs. Zombies

Having done vampires and werewolves with the first two projects, the next logical horror theme was zombies. But choosing the next fantasy group required a bit more thought. Elves are of course one of my favourite fantasy races, and they come in such a variety of types already. There is a lot of potential, especially for seeing how they would adapt to a post-apocalyptic scenario.

The thought that really stuck out and got me excited about this pairing though is the sheer and stark juxtaposition between the elegant beauty and grace of elves and the cold, merciless horror of zombies – especially when an elf becomes a zombie themselves! The potential for play with this juxtaposition has me intrigued, and I’m looking forward to seeing what I can do with it and what the final product will be.

I’ve already got a Pinterest board up and running (just made public), though admittedly it contains many more elves than zombies (with some that are potentially both). I try not to put too many dead things on my Pinterest boards, although I may need to make an exception here. Pins won’t be divided into sections for each character by name until I’ve got the book published. Until then it’ll serve as visual inspiration whenever I need it.

Posted in Horror Vs. Fantasy, NaNoWriMo, Personal, Storytelling, Writing | Tagged , , , , , | Leave a comment

NaNoWriMo 2021 (October Prep) Skeleton Plot

November is approaching faster than I thought! I had listed the last half of October as my time to finalize a skeleton plot with minor details for each scene, (as well as finer details for the opening scene, or whichever scene I plan to write first). I don’t always write my scenes in order, and this is definitely a story where certain later scenes are playing out in my mind in more vivid detail than the earlier ones. (I like having a sense of where the story is going!)

As far as outlying the plot though, I’m finding it a bit trickier this time around, and I think it has something to do with the zombie genre. I’ll explain.

My standard approach to NaNo prepping involves having solid ideas of characters, motives, individual roles and overall plot direction. As I research the zombie genre though, what I’m finding is that a key classic feature of these stories is to turn such things on their head. Deliver what’s unexpected. Change character roles on the fly. As they say – people show who they really are when the S#%! hits the fan, and one of the biggest traditions in a zombie apocalypse is events and characters taking unexpected turns.

It is supposed to feel chaotic to the audience. Of course, however, the one telling story should have an idea of what’s going on. I believe I’m there. But I should be open to taking new avenues with this tale if I get inspired mid-journey.

My previous two NaNo novels were 10 chapters each, and that seemed to just happen naturally. I’d like to take a more laid back approach to chapter counting with this one too, but I’ve had the idea of beginning each chapter with a flashback scene, and in order make sure each flashback idea actually gets used I of course need to make sure I’ve got the right number of chapters.

Things can get moved around during editing, I suppose, and that may be the approach I have to take to be open to plans changing along the way. Just to keep the current plot straight in my head I’ve even had to outline a rough map of where all the different settlements are and how each outbreak is likely to spread. This is the first time I’ve had to do that for a NaNo project. Although this is also the first one set deep underground. For my past two NaNo novels I mostly consulted already existing maps to get a sense of location and proximity.

Another shift from the last two NaNo novels is the battle outlines. Vampires Vs. Dragons and Orcs Vs. Wolves used pretty much the same 5-Big Battle system – an Introductory Battle – an Ambush – the First Mission with the New Group – the Pre-Final Battle Set-Up Battle – and then the Super Giant Final Battle with other smaller/individual battles going on simultaneously within it. This was not planned out – they just both naturally flowed that way.

Thus far, this next novel does seem to have the same number of big battles, more or less, but with different roles and orders. That alone is tripping me up a bit as far as trying to establish the story structure based on what is familiar to me and what I already know works. But maybe I need to be embracing that – embracing the chaotic feel of a zombie apocalypse which – by nature – creates a sense of the established order being turned upside down and the survivors having to improvise with what they can find. This could turn out to be me this November. A survivor. That’s assuming I do manage to make it to the 50,000 word count and finish the story. I haven’t failed yet, but wish me luck. I may need it!

What about you? Have you got a skeleton plot worked out yet? Do you use plot outlines prior to writing, or are you more of a ‘pantser’? Let me know in the comments below! I’d love to hear from you 🙂

Posted in Horror Vs. Fantasy, NaNoWriMo, Personal, Pop Culture, Storytelling, Writing | Tagged , , , | 2 Comments

NaNoWriMo 2021 (October Prep) Back to Roots

It’s Week 1 of October, and what I’ve got listed as the first order of business for this week is to finalize the world-building aspect of this year’s project. That means having a solid understanding of the culture, environment, class-systems, and general geography and history of this story’s world. I still have a few lingering to-do list objectives, such as also finalizing the core cast, and I found that difficult to do without having a more solid idea of the story’s general world as a guide.

This came as a surprise, because normally I would start with characters earlier on, and then built other aspects of the story around them, and I think I still do that to an extent. But I’m forgetting that when it comes to the finer details, like how these characters interact with their own world, that requires having an understanding of that world in the first place – the standards, rules, expectations, and available loop holes. Sometimes new character ideas spawn directly from having an understanding of the solidified world and what interesting things I can do with it.

As some of you know by now, my theme for these NaNoWriMo projects is Horror Vs. Fantasy, which has now become the official name of the series. Each project is something horror-themed verses something fantasy-themed.

As I address the fantasy side of this story, I’m going back over notes I had made years ago for my general fantasy world that eventually became Vel Ardon of The Final Power: Chronomancer, which I’ve been using as a template for future fantasy writing. But not all races and cultures were discussed in detail in that novel, and so not everything had been updated from working-version to official-version. Part of that updating means changing names, because back when I started I was still using Tolkien’s elvish languages for a lot of name generation. I had produced my own languages (or at least base words) for anything included in Chronomancer, but some things were left on the drawing board, so to speak.

Before I can finalize certain details in this NaNoWriMo project, I’ll have to finalize background information on a few cultures in my Vel Ardon files first.

Another central thing I’m learning to do, and this is a pretty practical approach to any of my projects, is I’m learning to ask myself, “What are the things that can only be done in this project? – Characters, environments, weapons, combat styles – What can I do here that I can’t do anywhere else?” And I’m making sure to include and emphasize those aspects. Make sure that what is unique about the project is what stands out.

It goes without saying that these NaNo projects are unusual in their concept. That’s intentional. I expect my audience to have seen instances of vampires fighting dragons, or goblins fighting werewolves, in portions of other stories, but never as the focal point of the story, and rarely if ever in a post-apocalyptic setting. There are opportunities inherent in these stories that are not inherent anywhere else. I need to take what is unique about them and run with those. It’s a big part of why the goblin culture in Orcs Vs. Wolves ended up the way it did. I took what I knew about orc mentality and applied it to a post-apocalyptic scenario, with very interesting results. For Vampires Vs. Dragons I had to build a whole class-system for vampires to hunt and take down dragons successfully, and that resulted in a whole new version of vampire combat tactics. There are unique opportunities in this year’s project as well. I need to keep an eye out for them, seize them, and emphasize them.

Have you started your NaNo prep yet? Let me know how you’re doing in the comments below! 🙂

Posted in Horror Vs. Fantasy, My Books, NaNoWriMo, Personal, Storytelling, Writing | Tagged , , , | 4 Comments

Upcoming Autism Talk


It may be time for me to talk more about Autism again.

It’s been the topic people have been most interested in hearing about, and my autobiography is still the best-selling out of all of my books. I’ve taken some time to discuss more about my passion for storytelling of late, which I plan to continue, but in recent years I’ve all but neglected open discussion on this other part of myself that people seem the most fascinated by.

The way that I communicate with my audience has also been changing. It was just nearly two years ago that I began posting on YouTube, beginning with simple Soulcalibur fights (which still has the largest audience) and slowly progressing into videos where I talk and discuss things while playing, with a particular focus on discussing storytelling.

So far, the video that’s gotten by far the most views, likes, subscriptions, and watch-time hours is simply a video of me talking talking earnestly about something while wondering around in Fallout 4. This is causing me to put a couple of ideas together.

I want to start a series of me talking, and it can be about a variety of topics overall, but at least to start I feel like I should begin with discussing my personal experiences with autism. But in order to do that I need conversation starters. I need some questions to help me going.

So one of the reasons I’ve put this blog post together is to ask around. I want to ask you guys if you have any questions about autism (or other topics) that you’d like to see me answer in an upcoming video. If so, you can post your questions in the comments below. Or, if you’d like to be anonymous for any reason (I know not everyone wants to talk about their own autism openly) you can send private questions to my business email – with the subject line “YouTube Question” and I’ll know that you want me to wait for the video to answer your question.

I’m open to discussing pretty much anything, though I’ll be making these videos kid-friendly, so just keep that in mind. One of the reasons this idea has been on my mind is in case any children on the spectrum need the encouragement of seeing someone like them being open and honest about struggles (or even just open and honest about their favourite dinosaur). I won’t know who (if anyone) needs to see these videos until I actually start the series and get feedback from viewers, but I certainly don’t want to include any material that would make it unavailable for kids.

To see what kind of topics I’ve talked about before, you can check out the following blog posts. (And for a short of me talking about autism, as an example of what I might be doing, you can watch this excerpt I clipped from my playthrough of Battleborn.


A Few Thoughts on Autism


Cynical Optimist

Uncanny Valley

Candace and Ferb

The Rare Autistic Christian

Frequently Asked Questions with Overly Complicated Answers

Smile! An Adventure in Editing

Healing Night

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NaNoWriMo 2021 (September Prep) Inspiration and World-Building

We’re nearly done the first week of September and I figure I should say how I’m doing so far with keeping up with my prep schedule.

I can say that so far it’s going well. Though I should be candid and say that some of the prep was started earlier than scheduled. Some inspirational intake had already taken place throughout August just because I was looking for things to watch that I had excuses for 🙂 And a skeleton plot for this year’s project has been in my mind for a while (though with several bones missing). So this is the time to pin some ideas down.

Speaking of which, my secret Pinterest board is looking pretty full now. I haven’t yet finished going through all of my other, public boards and seeing what to repin for inspiration, so I should finish doing that. And I’ll make the board public once I’m ready to announce the project title – probably in November.

As far as focusing more on inspiration – I’ve got my list right next to my chair where I eat, and I’ve been mindful to watch something on the list while I eat. I generally need to sit for an hour after eating so I take that time to either finish off whatever I’m watching, or play one of the video games that I also have on my list. There is a broad range of both television and video games that feed into the subjects I’m writing on this year, so finding inspiration hasn’t really been a challenge – just finding the time to do it all!

I also took some extra time the past couple of weeks to finalize my working cast. I may have more characters to add down the line, but an essential cast was necessary just to know that I have enough roles filled to move the story.

As far as what I’ve been focusing on the most this past week – major decisions about the world itself – its history, how it currently works, why it works that way.

One thing I still need to figure out is an initial cause. There are a number of major events that occur in this story, but currently in my mind they are unrelated – in the sense that they are caused by different things. So I need to rework that, figure out how the different events can be connected so that there is one initial event that chain-reactions into all the others. Otherwise, too many unrelated catalysts all happening at the sme time can come across as convenient, and pull the audience out of the story. There needs to be a natural flow to everything or else it feels like the author is interfering. So I’ve still got some work to do there.

How about you? Are you doing any NaNoWriMo prep this September? Are you waiting til October to start prep? Let me know in the comments! 🙂

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NaNoWriMo 2021 (August Prep) Finalizing the To-Do List

We’re coming upon that time of year again! (Okay, so November is still more than a couple months away but, as I learned last time, my kind of prep needs to start early!)

I actually couldn’t remember if I had decided that prepping needed to begin in September or August. Fortunately, I had last year’s posts to turn to for guidelines. I had a whole (rough) schedule laid out for myself, and it worked well for me for the most part, but I noticed some room for improvement.

I remembered that last time I had begun Inspirational Intake in October and that I found it didn’t give me enough to time for the amount of material I wanted to cover. So I decided to amend the existing plan by starting Inspirational Intake as early as September, continuing through into October if needed, but also using October as a time to re-watch or re-play any material I found to be particularly mood-setting. In other words – September is for the collecting of ideas, and October is for creating the mood/vibe/head-space that I need to maintain throughout November and even while finalizing ideas in late October.

The revised NaNoWriMo Prep plan is as follows…

Last Week of August: Create list of Inspirational Material (and a schedule for September if needed).

September: Begin Inspirational Intake (Movies, TV, Videogames, Music). Begin world-building (grand scale), character list, and basic plot.

First Week of September: Create Pinterest Board (kept private and uncategorized for now).

Second Week of September: Create Musical Playlist.

Last Week of September: Complete Core Cast of Characters.

October-November: Replay of mood-setting material.

First Week of October: Complete World-building (finer details).

Mid-October: Skeleton Plot with basic details for each scene.

Last Week of October: Greater Details for opening scene (or the first scene I plan to write).

November: Write!

Also November: Announce project on Blog. Make Pinterest Board public (but leave it uncategorized – no named characters yet).

After Publication (December-January?): Announce on Blog. Plan Launch Party. Categorize Pins on Pinterest Board.

Although launch parties might still be on hold until I know it’s safe to gather. Or I could do an online launch party. The options are there for me to mull over, and I’ve got quite a few months to think about it!

So for now, the only thing I have to do is finalize a list of inspirational material, and I’ve already got a pretty big list! In fact, there’s a good chance I’ll be going over some of this material and jotting down notes and ideas early, and marking anything I find helpful for mood-setting as something to go back to during October-November. For now, I’m just glad I got this to-do list sorted out ahead of time so that I know what aspects of prep to focus on in each week of the coming months. Come September I should be able to hit the ground running.

What about you? Do you have any pre-NaNoWriMo prep strategies? Share them in the comments! I’d love to hear from you 🙂

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Soulcalibur 6 Custom Characters – (part 8)

A collection of custom characters I designed using the Creation mode in Soulcalibur 6. As a fiction writer the Soulcalibur franchise has proven to be a useful tool for visualizing my characters and seeing what looks good and what doesn’t. All of these pictures however are just interpretations of others’ characters. Enjoy!

(To see some of these custom character creations in action, check out my Youtube channel playlist Soulcalibur VI Custom Character Battles)


Sora from Kingdom Hearts


Roll Caskett from Mega Man Legends


Lady Dimitrescu from Resident Evil: Village


Carnage from the Spider-Man comics


John Cena


Tsuyu Asui from My Hero Academia




Raven from Teen Titans


Harley Quinn

(part 1)

(part 2)

(part 3)

(part 4)

(part 5)

(part 6)

(part 7)

(part 9)

Soulcalibur 4 Custom Characters

Soulcalibur 5 Custom Characters

See some of these characters in action on my YouTube playlist,

Soulcalibur VI Custom Character Battles

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‘Vampires Vs. Dragons’ Quotes

A collection of quotes from my post-apocalyptic dark fantasy novel Vampires Vs. Dragons, my NaNoWriMo project that was published last year, and to which this year’s Orcs Vs. Wolves served as a shared-universe follow-up. It took me some time to get a handle on creating book quotes as posters, so I ended up giving Vampires Vs. Dragons the quotes treatment after Orcs Vs. Wolves, but better late than never. As with all of my booksVampires Vs. Dragons is available on Amazon.

Posted in Bite-Sized, Horror Vs. Fantasy, Images, My Books, Quotes | Tagged , , , , | Leave a comment