The Importance of Quiet Moments

Hello My Imaginary Friends,

The fourth novel in my Elizabeth Investigates series is kicking my butt. I thought I had everything planned out and set up. I was wrong. As I wrote I kept feeling like I was going too fast. I hit a wall about a month ago and instead of trying to find a solution I flirted with another book idea.

Writing isn’t a hobby so much as an obsession. When I’m writing, my mind is consumed with what’s going to happen. I think about scenes in the shower and I play out dialogue on the bus.

When the obsession stops being productive or switches stories my writing stops.

It’s an extremely frustrating feeling not knowing what to do to make the story move forward without becoming derivative or dumb.

My Daughter has appended her bedtime routine. It’s shortened and removed the last GOPEE! Instead now she says, “Wake up… Papa! Wake up… Papa.” It’s followed by, “Sing” and after her two songs (Goodness I’d missed holding her and singing.) and finally by “SIT!?”

So I sit there for ten minutes whiles she goes to sleep. Not every night, but it goes better when I do.

In those ten minutes she’s pretending to sleep, my wife is in bed, and I have nothing to do but think. Those quite moments are slowly helping me understand what to do next. I have some good ideas now, but the next 2/3rds of the novel have changed a dozen times. It’s amazing how much just stopping and thinking has helped.

If you’re stuck in your writing, try shutting yourself off from distractions and letting your mind go over the story. Like all writing advice, your mileage may vary.

Later Days,

Éric

Guest post: 5 James Bond Travel Destinations

This is a guest post. All content, images, and links were supplied by a sponsor. This was not written by JenEric Designs nor are any links endorsed or verified by us. It is however a very interesting post with fun facts.

Enjoy!


According to Hollywood, spies travel the world like no other. Not only do they get to go to all kinds of exotic destinations, from tropical beaches to non-existent moon bases, but they tend to do so dressed sharply, without needing to pay for much, while sipping cocktails and rendezvousing with gorgeous members of the opposite sex. Not a bad lifestyle, but then that’s why it’s fantasy (I think – if any of you are globetrotting spies and find the cinematic experiences to be accurate, drop a line in the comments).

At any rate, no fictional character enjoys spy-style travel quite like James Bond. The MI-6 agent otherwise known as 007 has been all over the world and has looked impossibly suave doing it, all resulting in the fact that plenty of Bond fans would love to follow the spy’s footsteps. Lo and behold, I’ve put together a guide for how to do so, or at least a list of some of the best Bond-related destinations to consider visiting.

Enjoy, and don’t forget to pack your best jet pack and laser watch!

1. Khao Phing Kan, Thailand

Would you buy it if I told you there were a place called James Bond Island? Well, it’s not official, so perhaps you’d be right not to. But Khao Phing Kan (and its sister island Ko Khao Phing Kan) in the Andaman Sea off the coast of Thailand are actually loosely known by that name. That’s because they appeared in The Man With The Golden Gun, and hosted an iconic beach duel between Bond and his nemesis Francisco Scaramanga. Evidently, the islands’ original names are rarely used by the locals, which in a way makes this the Bond tourism destination. As you might imagine it’s become a bit of a hot spot, but it’s not as if it’s teeming with commercial development. You’re still in for a remote, beautiful Thailand beach escape.

2. Istanbul, Turkey

As far as major cities are concerned, Istanbul may be the quintessential Bond location, so long as we aren’t counting London. In a way this makes perfect sense. The city famously sits between two continents and has historically been an important crossroads – which suits a series that famously treks all over the world and involves all kinds of different cultures. Bond showed up in the city in Skyfall (Daniel Craig), The World Is Not Enough (Pierce Brosnan), and From Russia With Love (Sean Connery), and left a veritable guidebook of landmarks for fans to follow. There’s the Hagia Sophia, the Grand Bazaar, and the Basilica Cistern for instance. However, don’t miss out on more general Istanbul attractions while you’re there. This is a fascinating city full of awesome things to see and do. Additionally, make sure to try the local tea (sometimes offered as a friendly gesture) and the lamb preparation known as kofte.

3. Bahamas

The Bahamas are most closely associated with recent Bond films, given that Daniel Craig spent time there in Casino Royale However, speaking more broadly, Bond has frequented the Caribbean, and you can soak up lots of that classic atmosphere at this island nation. Another perk here is that it’s one Bond destination where you can enjoy one of his favorite activities (and one that’s all over Casino Royale) in casino gaming. This is becoming less of a tourist draw around the globe, with online and mobile gaming taking over. Says one Canadian guide to the topic, gambling on mobile devices have been steadily rising with each passing year, which can make it less necessary in person. But would Bond play poker on a mobile phone? I don’t really think so, but stacking chips at a beachside casino in the Bahamas is different, and can make you feel quite a bit like 007.

4. Lake Como, Italy

Lake Como has a whole lot going for it. Yes, it’s beautiful enough to have been invented as a utopia in a fantasy novel. Yes, George Clooney summers there. But most importantly for any self-respecting Bond nerd (I’m certainly in that club), this is where Craig’s Bond wound up at the end of Casino Royale. Remember when he wakes up with Vesper watching over him on a balcony straight out of your imagination of what Heaven must look like? That’s a villa (Villa La Gaeta) right on the edge of Lake Como. It’s not exactly memorable for any Bond-like action, but if you get the chance to relax anywhere close to this you might be able to replicate a rare moment of peace and serenity from our favorite double-o.

5. Hong Kong

Roger Moore actually shot in Hong Kong, though the character of Bond has appeared there multiple times (in You Only Live Twice, The Man With The Golden Gun, and Die Another Day). And truth be told, the city hasn’t produced many of the most memorable scenes of 007 lore. Nevertheless, this same lore gives you a good excuse to check the city out, and it happens to be a popular favorite tourist destination in the world for a lot of regular travelers. I will say this: Pierce Brosnan’s escape from boat captivity straight into Victoria Harbor does give you some excellent glimpses of the city at night, which is enough to make you want to visit. Just don’t jump into the water like he did!


Are you interested in travelling like James Bond? You can contact Jennifer Desmarais through Orleans Travel. jennifer.desmarais@orleanstravel.ca

Dear Dragon – Welcome to Level 2

Dear Toddler Dragon,

Tomorrow will be your birthday. You’re turning two years old. I might be biased but I think you’re awesome.

It’s been absolutely amazing watching you grow up. You’re clever, strong, quick with a smile, and so funny. You have some fantastic timing for jokes.

You’re at a point in your life where you’re learning faster than I can follow and I am so proud of you. I’d love to take credit for everything you’re becoming and everything you will become but I know you’re getting there on your own. You are and you’re going to be a wonderful person.

You don’t understand yet, and you may never, but the best parts of my day are those that we spend together. Playing, reading, singing, roaring, pretend sleeping, and so much more.

When you cry out for me at night I’m exhausted, grumpy, sore, and none of that matters when I hold you in my arms and sing. You are the best thing I have ever created. (That’s saying something cause Everdome is really good.)

So to my second level human; I hope you are having a good childhood, you to feel safe, you’re comfortable, free to be yourself, most of all I hope that if you remember anything about turning two it’s that you are loved.

I love you so much and happy birthday,

Papa

Top 10 Statements Guaranteed to Make Éric Rant (and Angry) Part 2

Hello my Imaginary Friends,

Last Tuesday I posted Top 10 Statements Guaranteed to Make Éric Rant (and Angry) Part 1

Now here is:

Top 10 Statements Guaranteed to Make Éric Rant (and Angry) Part 2

5. Fad Science

Superfoods, toxins, free radicals, coffee enemas, diets based off of the food cavemen ate, and many more topics are junk/fad science. I’m not talking traditional medicines or all-natural remedies.

When people start trusting celebrities, fake doctors, and random articles over what their doctors say, we end up with people who truly believe that a fruit smoothie will remove harmful substances from their bodies or that pomegranates cure cancer.

The true dangers of this mentality is the fear of science, doctors, and health professionals. That’s when we get dead infants because their parents thought turmeric could heal meningitis, herbs can cure strep throat, and babies should be on gluten-lactose-free diets.

There’s no “SECRET DOCTORS DON’T WANT YOU TO KNOW”, there’s no quick fix, and sometimes genetics is the problem. Eat a balanced diet and consult a doctor.

Anyone who’s offering you a quick fix is trying to sell you something.

4. Sexual Education is Not Necessary

Want to improve you and your child’s knowledge of sexual education? BUY BLUSH HERE!

I spoke about it

My wife spoke about it

And we are trying our best to educate people

Let’s just say I believe that subjects like proper body part names, consent, bullying, and LGBTQIA2S+ belong in a well-rounded education. Knowledge and discourse are the way to acceptance and understanding.

3. Video Games, Movies, and Television Create Violent People

Every once in a while a study by a special interest group will pop up saying that TV, movies, and video games cause violence.

It comes up every time someone sees the uptick in school shootings in the states or perceives the violence around us.

As I said in point 9, the world is actually a better place. We are exposed to more violence but that’s because we’re not sitting by and ignoring the violence around us. Racial violence, violence against LGBTQIA2S+, and religious violence are finally being exposed (mostly) and that makes the world look bleak, but we can’t fix a problem if we don’t know it exists.

Video games can cause addictions but so can books and collecting stuff. (Hey, hey… I don’t have a problem with collecting books.) Violent video games are a way that many people use to alleviate the anger and frustration that bombards our near powerless daily lives.

2. Vaccines

With the exception of a statistically minor portion of the population, the only thing vaccines cause are adults. In point 9 the graphic shows that child mortality has been steadily dropping since the 1900s. One of the major reasons for this is vaccines. You don’t have to worry about your child dying of smallpox or being crippled by polio.

Despite what some idiotic celebrities will tell you, the harm caused by not vaccinating is immense.

Measles cases hit record high in Europe (Warning there are some sad images of children with measels)

Have a look at this wonderful cartoon explaining how vaccines work.

1. [Insert Person] Doesn’t Deserve the Same Rights

All people should be treated equitably no matter their sexual identity, sexual orientation, skin colour, culture, country, religion, physical health, metal health, or intelligence.

It’s easy to be afraid of people you don’t know anything about. Fear of the other is a natural human reaction. It’s not logical or useful however. We need to accept others as they are and as they tell us they want to be treated. If someone from a minority tells you they’re not comfortable or don’t like your behaviour, listen to them.

Everyone deserves to live a life that is free from fear and hate.

Stop thinking of political correctness and start thinking of human decency and treating people with respect.

And yes I’ve ranted on this before:

 

Those are my top ten rant buttons.

Later days and future arguments,

Éric

Blush: Sensitivity Editing

Author and friend Talia C Johnson wrote about queer and trans sensitivity editing here. You should go read that.

Sensitivity editors can be hired for race, religion, gender, sexuality, chronic illnesses, mental disorders, physical disabilities, among others.

Sensitivity editing is not limiting authors, but allowing them to write about experiences that are not their own.

Image from lithub.com

Yes, we should have more published works by diverse authors. I am not arguing against that.

But I definitely feel that character diversity within a book will only improve it, if it is done properly.

One of my favourite book series growing up was The Bobbsey Twins. This was written in the early 1900’s, to give you context if you’re unfamiliar with the books. The main characters were two sets of twins that solved mysteries. They had servants, named Sam and Dinah, who spoke with an accent and were…well, what a white person thought a black person was like.

The books have been re-written since the original. I have both versions, and the differences aren’t really visible, at least where Sam and Dinah are concerned. A sensitivity editor would change how these characters are portrayed, fix the language chosen to describe the characters and how they speak, and remove the tropes and stereotypes.

The old saying of “write what you know” is limiting, and frankly, boring. If my husband, Eric Desmarais, only wrote what he knew, the three books that he has published wouldn’t have female protagonists. (They also wouldn’t be set in fantasy…)

Sensitivity editors let authors expand their worlds without misrepresentation. Take Cait Gordon, for example. By her own words, she is allo cis-het (allosexual, cis-gender, heterosexual), but she writes fantastic stories about aliens, who are as diverse as can be. My favourite characters of hers are two gay lizard-like aliens that are amazing, and will have their own story soon in The Stealth Lovers. You can bet that she had a sensitivity editor; Talia C Johnson.

So please, write about anything you want. But if it’s outside your personal experiences, get a sensitivity editor. They are worth their weight in gold.


References

https://taliacjohnson.ca/services/queertrans-sensitivity-editing/

https://www.dotanddashllc.com/single-post/2018/03/15/What-Is-Sensitivity-Reading

https://www.nytimes.com/2017/12/24/books/in-an-era-of-online-outrage-do-sensitivity-readers-result-in-better-books-or-censorship.html

https://lithub.com/on-the-use-of-sensitivity-readers-in-publishing/


If you’re enjoying the Blush blogs, consider learning more with Blush: The Card Game from Renaissance Press.

Top 10 Statements Guaranteed to Make Éric Rant (and Angry) Part 1

Hello My Imaginary Friends,

Three years ago I made a list of my Top 5 Pet Peeves basically things people do that annoy me. Last year, in the same vein, I made a list of my Top 5 Workplace Pet Peeves.

Now here are topics and opinions that are absolutely guaranteed to make me rant and red faced angry.

If you’ve met me socially, you’ll know I’m pretty quiet unless I’m excited or annoyed. I apologize to anyone who’s had to sit through my rambling incoherent rants.

Top 10 Statements Guaranteed to Make Éric Rant (and Angry)

10. Technology is Bad

You’ve seen the memes and the articles. Cellphones are making us antisocial etc. Don’t get me wrong, I like a good Skynet joke as much as the next nerd, but go too far and you start to sound like luddite.

The articles range from ‘WiFi scrambles our brains’ to ‘computers are killing our attention spans’ and they all have one thing in common. FEAR!

It’s easier to hate on new tech (Voice assistants, Cellphones, Self Driving Cars, Exercise trackers etc) than blame millennials for something. Hating tech has quite literally been trendy forever.

I will argue this with you. We are better off now than we’ve ever been as a society and a race.

9. We Were Better Off in the Past


Cavemen didn’t get cancer… BULLSHIT! They may have gotten it less often because they mostly died younger.

Infant mortality is at the lowest it’s ever been. There is less war now than in the past. The human race as a whole is better off than we’ve ever been.

We have a long way to go, but we’re actually moving… slowly.

8. Organic is Better


Organic produce still uses pesticides.

Organic produce still requires fertilizer.

Organic food isn’t any healthier.

Organic food is grown without the use of synthetic pesticides & fertilizers, antibiotics, or hormones.

In the end there are some positive aspects of organic food, but the advantages (requiring animals to live in fields, avoiding unnecessary hormones and antibiotics) should be standard practices.

Organic food is more expensive because it takes more space and resources to create the same yield of food.

7. Genetically Modified/Engineered Food is Inherently Bad


GMO’s are not inherently bad. Nor is anything else.

As long as humanity has been growing and herding food we’ve tried to make it better. We’ve used splicing, cross pollination, selective breeding, and many other methods.

Altering our food, crops, and methods is the only way we as a species can survive. Take the example of Golden Rice. It’s genetically engineered to include beta-carotene which our bodies turn into vitamin A. Vitamin A deficiency in developing countries is devastating and this rice can help fix that.

But for all those that are about less pesticides on your produce, GMOs have been developed to be resistant to pests and grow faster.

How you can see a negative in better food that grows easier, feeds more people, uses less resources, and is cheaper is beyond me.

6. If You Like This You’re Wrong/Dumb

This might seem silly to some of you, but I have spent a long time being told I’m wrong because I like something.

It’s very trendy and common to hate on things that are popular. Just look at the hate pumpkin spice gets. There’s a certain joy in communally hating something that is popular. I’ve done it and I feel terrible. Sorry Nickelback and Nickelback fans.

It seems particularly bad towards things young women love.

I may have talked about this before

Like I said to Dragon on this letter:

Closing yourself down to the wonders of emotions and excitement lessens the experiences of life.

 

Anything you want to argue about?

Stay tuned for Points 5-1 on Thursday.

 

Later Days,

Éric

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