It’s all done except the crying.. uhm editing

Hello My Imaginary Friends,

The Mystery of the Dancing Lights is done. Now comes my least favourite part of writing, editing. Yuck.

Thankfully my awesome Weditor has been through the book and I’ll hopefully be able to apply her edits by the end of the week.

That means if all goes well by end of the week, I’ll be able to submit my book to my publisher.

I made a promise at last years Renaissance Con to shave my beard when I finished this book. It’s gotten a little unwieldy, so I’m looking forward to that. Expect some before and after pictures soon.

That’s about it.

Off to the editing mines for me.

Stay safe and be kind,

Éric

Almost Done

Hello My Imaginary Friends,

When I returned to work after Dragon was born, I tried to finish a novel and gave myself until December 2017 to finish it. I failed and put that novel away for future writing.

In January 2018, I started writing The Mystery of the Dancing Lights, my fourth Elizabeth novel. I worked hard on it and it changed from a simple summer camp story to a time loop novel. I’ve re-written my outline for this book a dozen times.

I decided I needed to dig deep and finish it after Jen and I finished Assassins! Accidental Matchmakers. Somehow I managed to get this far.

I’m now writing the last chapter and hope to be done the writing of the novel by the end of the weekend or next week.

I’m hoping to submit it to my publisher by the end of the month and get it in for 2023 with my publisher.

Okay well, I suppose I should get back to it.

Thank you for all your support!

Stay safe and be kind,

Éric

Atlantis: The Lost Empire – JenEric Movie Review

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Hello Cinephiles,

Today we’re talking about the 2001 film Atlantis: The Lost Empire.

Story

A wonderful mix of steampunk, action adventure, and archaeology. It avoids a lot of racist tropes and narrowly avoids the white Saviour narrative. It’s fun and funny and quite deep for a kids movie.

There’s a plot point that really bothers me. The fact that they lost the ability to read. There are fan theories that the mother mindwiped the survivors or that the king banned reading.

At first I thought it might be a situation where only royalty could read, but if they had basic instructions on the flying fish then they were there for anyone who who owned a crystal.

Score: 0.5

Characters

I’m not a fan of the sexy native who wears less than everyone else for no reason trope. Kida is a fun character however and she manages to surpass the tropes.

Milo is a typical early 2000’s geek with no real life skills other than that one boiler trick. He makes me think of Flynn Carson in the early Librarian movies or Daniel Jackson from SG1.

The rest of the crew is interesting and well fleshed out for such a large cast in a short movie.

Score: 1

Dialogue

Some of the dialogue is utter genius and others are so bad. I loath the line where Milo asks Kida her name and she says, “Kidagakash” and the linguist who just deciphered a dead language which he managed to speak to natives so that they understood him looks flustered and asks her for a nickname. ARG! He should have been dissecting the meaning, not acting like an idiot.

Score: 0.5

Visuals and Music

The animation in this film hold up ridiculously well. The 3D is so well used that I barely noticed and the way they integrated the colours and lighting make it feel seamless. There’s a grandiose feel to the world.

The music is epic and fantastic.

Score: 1

Fun

Despite it’s flaws, it’s a lot of fun to watch. The kids loved it and there was a lot of gasping.

Score: 1

Overall

Fun action adventure with shades of Jules Verne, Indiana Jones, and Stargate. It’s fun, exciting, and has some interesting commentary on the morality of archaeology. It has a few annoying flaws, but it’s a joy to watch.

Final Score: 4 stars out of 5

Guitar Lessons Part 7

Aug 8: Very Good Day

I passed the melody I was working on yesterday, after several attempts.

Then I moved on to a pinky finger exercise. It was fun and easy.

And then!!

I got to play a song I recognized!

Ode to Joy!

Omg you have no idea how excited I was too not only get to play this, but I got to hear myself play it properly!? I passed it on the second try and then I played it two more times just because I could. So cool!

I played my song too, again without listening to the recording first. My daughter sang along with me. Super cool that she knows most of the lyrics to a song that I wrote.

I got the F chord today! Slowly on the changes, but I got it!

Aug 9: Melody Challenge

I played Ode to Joy again, just because I could. I did well on it, although not as well as after 4x yesterday.

Then I moved on to the next melody. It has FIVE parts! I passed according to the app, but I have not gotten 3 stars on all 5 parts yet, so I’m going to keep going with it tomorrow.

I played my song again. The chord changes are getting faster, which is very encouraging!

I’m still feeling weird about the timing on the verses. I might have to do a video call with my music mentor again this weekend.

Aug 10: Gah

The lesson through the app went really well. I passed the song I was working on yesterday on the first try and then again on the second.

The next song was difficult at first, but I’m feeling confident I’ll get it tomorrow.

Then I played my song. It sounded okay, but I could hear the dull notes, so I tried to play each chord individually.

Apparently I cannot play the F chord today. Like, at all. 4th string, fine. 3rd string, fine. 2nd and 1st? Dull, no matter how I move my hand.

I am incredibly frustrated today.

I stopped playing because I felt like smashing something and I thought it would be smart to just leave it alone for now.

Aug 11: Not Bad

I passed the melody I was working on yesterday. It took several tries, but I managed it.

The next melody has barely any pauses in it. If I mess up, I have a really hard time finding the notes again. I passed it once before my time ran out for the day.

My song went well. I added an E chord, for “colour” as my music mentor says. I’m not sure if I’ll keep it, but I liked how it sounded today.

And that F chord… I managed it correctly about a quarter of the time, if I’m being generous.

Aug 12: That F-ing Chord

I completed the melody lessons for level 3 in my app. I only needed to play that one melody from yesterday once more to pass it.

Then I learned a new chord! D chord. I’ve been practicing it with the other chords for about a month, so I was able to get it right away. There was another chord challenge where I had to play as many chords as possible in a set time frame. I did that a bunch of times and managed to get 19 chords to give me three gold stars. Woo!

The first chord song in the app ended up required down strumming AND up strumming. I haven’t been practicing the up strumming, so I didn’t do very well. Something to work on for tomorrow.

Then I played my song.

That F-ing F chord. I couldn’t get it even once. Not even outside the song. I’m seriously considering transposing the entire song so that I don’t have to play the F chord.

So frustrated today.

Aug 13: Chords

The app I use is EXTREMELY picky (pun not intended) about chords. It’s exhausting.

I passed the chord song I was working on yesterday… Barely. I wouldn’t really say I passed, but I was tired of playing it. It kept not hearing me properly.

So I skipped on to the next one. I only played it once, but it didn’t hear a single C chord. Very frustrating.

I told my music mentor about my frustrations yesterday, and he suggested I play Fmaj7 instead of F. Omg what a difference! I’m very happy with the switch. I know I’ll have to learn F someday, but that day is not this day.

I played my song several times. It’s coming along well, I think.

Oh, and we ordered a soprano ukelele that came in today. Our daughter is EXTREMELY excited about it.

Our little soprano ukulele!

So it looks like I’ll be learning uke as well as guitar.

Gaming with kids

Hello Parents and Educators,

We were asked about using tabletop RPG’s as an educational tool while integrating real life history and geography.

Baby Dragon with Cubie from Alina Pete and a glowing d20.

It’s a massive question and I could write an entire book about it, but here’s what I answered:

Hello,

This is the Eric half of JenEric, I write the RPG stuff and most of the stories. My wife is the one who did the homeschooling but she felt this was a bit beyond her.

Thank you so much for that question. That is a great question and will depend a lot on your kids and your preferred style of play.

First I’d (selfishly) recommend using Oneshot – The Simplest RPG. It’s just the rules, they are very simple and you’ll be able to use them for almost any scenario.

As for the educational part, I’d recommend you make a list of things you want the kids to learn about and build around those goals. If you’re planning on different historical locations, you should break them down. I find it helps to break down each location/time and then list the characters, places, important events, and reason for the characters to be there.

If you’re jumping around in history and geography, you need to either make a series of small adventures or try maybe make it time travel related. With the time travel, the kids can get attached to a character that they’ll see grow and experience,

Another good way to keep it fun and keep them interested is to have a fun villain. I’m a big fan of cartoonish villains for kids, but you know your kids best.

Hook them into a story and they won’t even notice they’re learning.

As much fun as movies, tv, and books are; be careful not to use them too much as research. A good place to start is WIkipedia, each article has sources and those sources usually have a lot more information and further reading.

I hope this helps,
Eric Desmarais

Anyone have further advice for gaming with children in an educational manner?

Stay safe and be kind,

Éric

Change to 2021 JenEric Schedule

Hello JenEric Fans,

With Dragon doing full digital school, we’ve decided to move things around a little. Here’s the schedule for the foreseeable future.

Monday

Éric Desmarais will randomly write things like an unspecified number of monkeys with typewriters… which is totally not how he writes his posts… *Shifty Eyes* EDIT: Please send bananas.

Tuesday

Guitar Lessons Jen is learning guitar and her journey is quite a lot of fun to follow. Certainly a Major Scaled accomplishment.

Wednesday

The Travelling TARDIS will continue it’s adventures in space, time, and backlogs.

Thursday

JenEric Movie Reviews continues to watch movies, over-analyse them, and tell you all about it.

Friday

This image has an empty alt attribute; its file name is logo.png

The monkeys Éric returns with serial stories, regular stories, rants, coffee info, and really whatever comes out of the typewriters… uhm mind, his mind.

Saturday & Sunday

Unless 2021 ends up being as movie watching heavy as 2020, these will be left blank and let the monkeys, time machine, and musicians rest.


Hope you enjoy it!

JenEric Designs Management

Cinderella (2021) – JenEric Movie Review

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Hello Cinephiles,

Today we’re talking about the 2021 film Cinderella.

Story

The story is pretty standard. I liked the additional backstory on the evil step-mother and the addition of a dream for Ella.

That being said, it was very surface level and didn’t add much to the original.

Score: 0.5

Characters

The characters were fun, but not deep. It was a playful movie with witty banter. I liked that they joked about Pierce Brosnan’s singing.

Score: 0.5

Dialogue

The best way to describe the dialogue is mildly witty. It’s not bad, but it’s not great. There’s no double meanings or witty back and forths.

Score: 0.5

Music and Visuals

Nearly everything in the movie was anachronistic and it works to bring a sense of whimsy to the film. From the Baritone Sax to the impressive range of styles. It’s all in fun.

I truly appreciated the use of colour after so many colourless period films of late.

The music wasn’t Moulin Rouge level, but was a lot of fun. The duet dance to Ed Sheeran’s Perfect lived up to its name.

Score: 1

Fun

It had a good beat in both the music and the pacing. Little to no awkward moments and the actors could sing. Everyone seemed to enjoy it. We had the main song stuck in our heads for the rest of the night.

Score: 1

Overall

Cinderella is a story that’s been told so often that it’s no longer a story as much as an archetype. This movie doesn’t add anything original to the story, but instead re-mixes it with fun music. It’s fun and will have you tapping your foot.

Final Score: 3.5 Stars out of 5

Guitar Lessons Part 6

Aug 2: Scales!

I finished this set of chord lessons. I think I’m getting the hang of up strumming. Sort of.

The next set of lessons is knowledge stuff. So I’m learning how to do scales! They’re starting off with a simple scales with no sharps or flats. They didn’t give it a name, but I start on an open E, so I guess it’s an E major?

I guess the guitar isn’t in the same key as a flute, because E major for a flute has flats, if I’m remembering correctly from twenty years ago. (??)

Oh, and big news for my song! I sent the recording I made (and the lyrics) to a very talented guitarist friend of mine and he sent me back some chords!!

So I have music for my song now! (Note to self, remember to credit him for the music!)

And he gave me chords I already know, which is so very sweet of him to think of. Thankfully I have a capo.

They’re very basic chords, which is perfect for a beginner like me: C, Am, and F (which I’m cheating on and only playing the bottom two strings).

Now I have to get used to singing the melody while I play a harmony. That’s going to take a lot of time and practice.

I tried it today and my voice automatically dropped into the harmony. Sigh.

Practice makes perfect, right?

Aug 3: What a difference!

I played the scale again today. It took a couple attempts, but I was able to play it.

Then I moved on to playing arpeggios. It took some time, but I got them today too. I think I’m a little lazy with my finger placement, not using the tips of my fingers. I’ll have to pay more attention to that tomorrow.

The last thing I did was a song with whole notes, half notes, and quarter notes. It had a couple string and finger changes that I struggled with in the first go-through and then my time was up for the day.

Then I got to play my song!

I decided to put the recording I had made on the Google mini while I played the chords to keep my voice on track and IT WORKED!! The chorus is so good I’m ridiculously excited about it. The verses need work, but I have a month to practice before I’m going to play for people.

Omg I’m so hyped from my practice session today!!

Aug 4: Challenges

I passed the knowledge section. I don’t really have anything more to say about that.

Now I’m on to level 3!!

It starts with melody lessons; adding the fourth finger! I did very well with the first two training songs. They were both on the bottom string (1st) only, so very simple.

The next song in the lesson was on the 4th, 3rd, and 2nd strings and used the first four frets.

Apparently I have no idea which string I’m on with either hand. I think this song is going to take more than a couple days to master.

It’s a good challenge.

My song. Omg my song.

I played my recording once, singing along with it. Then I played it twice more, singing and playing the chords. And then! I turned off the recording.

And I was able to sing it properly!

I’m still so in love with the chorus.

I think I really need to master the F chord because the cheat I’ve been using feels very unfinished. So I’m going to work on that.

I still awkward with the verses. I’ll get there.

And the bridge is slightly uncomfortable, but I think that’s because there are F chords in it, so hopefully it will get more comfortable as I get better with that chord.

A good day.

Aug 5: Well then

You know that melody I said was going to take days to master?

I passed it today. And passed it well. I played it four times, and got three stars on all of them except the first (only two stars). So yay?

However! This next melody is actually going to take me days. I’m playing it at 75% speed and barely managing a third of the notes. So yeah. DAYS. That’s ok. I feel like I’m learning.

I played my song again. Once with the recording, several times without. Still in love with the chorus. Still fighting with the F chord.

It’s ok. I’m getting there. It’s nice to make progress.

Aug 6: Accomplishments

I worked on the melody from yesterday today for the entire half hour. I played it at 80% speed several times, sped it up to 85%, sped it up to 90%, and then played it at full speed.

And you know what?

It wasn’t as difficult as it was yesterday.

It was still really hard, but I came really close to passing. (3,3,2,2 and then 2,3,3,2 stars on each part of the song – I have decided that I need 3 stars on each part of a song in order to consider it passed. According to the app, I have passed.)

I played my song again. I’m still having trouble with that pesky little F chord. (my nemesis!!)

Keep on practicing.

Aug 7: Playing with a Headache

I completed the melody I’ve been working on for the past couple days. I’m honestly kinda surprised. Even though it was very challenging for me to start with, I felt competent while playing it today.

Shows the value of practice, I guess!

Then I played a new melody. I got three stars on all three parts the second time I played it, but then every time I played afterwards, I got worse and worse! It was kinda funny, looking back on it, but very frustrating in the moment.

I played my song without listening to the recording first. It went very well! I’m very pleased with my vocal training. Making the recording was definitely the right thing for me to do.

However!

F chord, you will not defeat me!!!