Writing is Hard, Publishing is Harder

Hello My Imaginary Friends,

I’m not asking for help or for advice, I just need to vent.

I’ve been writing my whole life. First novel was started when I was ten. I started writing seriously (meaning I actually finished my novels and stories) a dozen years ago. My first book was published in 2016 after 6 years of rewrites and re-submits.

My sixth book has just come out and I’m feeling a little frustrated. I feel like every book I publish is getting less readers, less reviews, and less interest. I have a lot of little easter eggs and details that cross between books and I’d love to hear someone geek out about them. (Other than my wife, mother-in-law, and daughter.)

I know part of it is caused from not seeing anyone, other than family, since March 2020. I miss talking to other authors, readers, and fans at conventions and in person.

My last two books have been launched digitally and it doesn’t give me any time to chat with one person at a time.

So I guess I’m both sad that my books aren’t reaching more people and that I can’t talk with people.

There’s hope for both cases; my publisher has recently gotten a distribution and promotion deal for all their books. And Health Canada is currently reviewing Pfizer’s vaccine for 5-11 year olds and they say that 4 and under isn’t far away.

I have high hopes for Assassins! Accidental Matchmakers (the book Jen and I co-wrote) next year. It’s set to be released in Fall and hopefully we can have an in-person release party. I’ll also hopefully be able to attend Can-Con that year.

Part of the distribution of new releases for my publisher means that some of the the books get placed in bookstores. The most recent wave, several amazing authors have had their books in stores. (Mine isn’t because it’s part of a series and they don’t put book 3.5 when they don’t have 1-3.)

I look forward to seeing Assassins! Accidental Matchmakers in bookstores. I hope it gets all the attention it deserves. It’s a fantastic book.

Thanks for reading.

Stay safe and be kind,

Éric


Learning a New Instrument

Hello My Imaginary Friends,

In case you hadn’t realized, my amazing wife has been learning guitar. When she first started, she was playing on her dad’s full sized guitar and wasn’t sure if she wanted to get a smaller guitar or a ukulele.

At the same time, we’d been binging High School Musical the Musical the Series. In it, one of the characters pulls out her uke and starts to fiddle with it.

It made me miss learning and playing bass guitar.

I stopped playing bass because I had no one to play with and because it was a pain in the ass to pull it out of it’s case and plug it in. I realize this is seriously lazy, but between kids, work, and writing, finding time to practise is hard enough, add in needing to go get it and set it up. Arg. It’s also awkward to hold and practise when your kids are touching everything.

Anyway, I thought the idea of the ukulele was pretty awesome. Four strings, light, pretty noises. When my wife bought her guitar, I said she should get a uke at the same time. We bought a tenor ukulele which is slightly bigger for my large fingers.

I’ve been learning with Yousician. It’s a fun app but has some serious lacks.

I’m learning that my issues with instruments are universal. I’m slow to learn rhythm and have a hard time playing a song I don’t know.

For saxophone, this meant listening to a song over and over again, until I could feel it. For bass guitar, that meant practicing until it felt natural. For ukulele, I think it’ll have to be a mixture of both.

Strumming is the big challenge for me right now, but I’ll keep trying.

The goal as always is to have fun and make pretty noises.

Be kind and stay safe,

Éric

Black Widow – JenEric Movie Review

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Hello Cinephiles,

Today we’re talking about the 2021 film Black Widow.

Story

I was hoping for a story about how amazing Natasha was; instead we got a story that felt like it really needed to knock her down a peg in every fight.

This wasn’t a story about Natasha as Black Widow, it was a convoluted mess of a set up for Yelena to become Black Widow.

Other than being a backstory for a character we don’t know, there are some odd choices. The movie doesn’t seem to know if it wants to be a spy thriller or a superhero movie.

Story: 0

Character

Natasha was not quite as badly written as she was in previous movies, but that isn’t a high bar. The rest of the cast was fantastic and a little cheesy. Yelena was a great character with a lot of fun moments.

Score: 0.5

Dialogue

I liked how the characters interacted and the little jabs at the ridiculous dialogue of past movies. The banter was realistic and funny.

This movie has a significant amount of good lines, shade, and throwbacks.

Score: 1

Visuals and Music

The movie was well filmed, but had a lot of shaking and cutting for my taste. The franticness of the camera often tried to make up for the lack of urgency in the action scenes. Each action scene followed the same script and it got a little boring by the end.

The scenery was wonderful.

The music was okay, but the Black Widow theme was repetitive, loud, and annoying.

Score: 0.5

Fun

The movie felt like it wanted to be a six part series. There were a lot of decisions that I didn’t like and I felt that Black Widow was again treated like a set piece and punching bag.

My daughter found it a little too violent and scary; my son got bored.

Score: 0.5

Overall

This movie should have been better, putting Black Widow into her spy element, but instead it forgot she was a spy and tried to turn her into an action star without any real triumph. In the end it’s an interesting introduction to the future Black Widow, but not a proper send off for the MCU’s worst treated and written character.

Final Score: 2.5 Stars out of 5

Here We Go Again

Hello Readers,

In case you missed it, Jen and I wrote a book together called Assassins! Accidental Matchmakers. It took us two and a half months and was a wild ride. Renaissance Press loved it and will be publishing it in Fall 2022. It’s the first in a trilogy or quadrilogy, called The Gates of Westmeath.

I took some time to finish Elizabeth 4 and now Jen and I have started writing book 2 of the Gates of Westmeath.

We finished the first two chapters this week and I’ll be starting on chapter 3 today.

We’re super excited and can’t wait to share the first book with you. So excited we made shirts for the whole family.

It’s had the adorable (and awkward if in public) side effect of having the kids screaming “Assassins family!”

Well as they say, I should be writing.

Stay safe and be kind,

Éric

Free Guy – JenEric Movie Review

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Hello Cinephiles,

Today we’re talking about the 2021 film Free Guy.

Story

The story was deceptively simple but had lots of layers. It had a surprisingly upbeat message considering how the majority of humans are truly awful in the movie. I like the melding of a classic hero’s narrative with shades of fairy tales, otherworld stories, and a shade of 80’s techno thriller.

Score: 1

Characters

It would have been much too simple to make the characters stereotypes. The movie avoids that with everyone except the main villain who is geniusly played.

Score: 1

Dialogue

The dialogue is witty and wonderfully steeped in video game and online culture without being so dense as to be unintelligible to people who don’t play.

It has some ridiculously silly lines that wouldn’t work without the expert delivery of the actors.

Score: 1

Visuals and Music

The movie has so much going on in the background that it is impossible to catch everything in one viewing. I was impressed how this never distracted from the plot or the character development. It was also stunningly done with a beautiful mix of traditional and modern special effects. Special shoutout to them filming the real world and the game world with different camera lenses. Combined with the extra saturation in the game, it added a nice touch of separation.

If you’re a music nerd and a Disney fan, you’ll maybe have noticed that Guy’s theme is the same as the protagonist’s from the short film Paperman. The short’s music was written by the same composer and the short premiered before Wreck-It Ralph, another videogame movie.

Score: 1

Fun

My two year old sat through most of it, but got bored near the end. He spent the next day saying, “Free Guy Awesome.” My five year old spent the entire movie glued to the screen. My father-in-law was a little confused by some things since he’s never been into video games.

I had a lot of fun with this and found myself completely engrossed. It’s a rare movie that has me so sucked in that I feel disoriented when I get out of it.

Score: 1

Overall

This movie is exciting, heartwarming, and lots of fun. The blending of meta narrative with action adventure, Truman Show, and a little Sleeping Beauty makes for a fascinating story. All of which would be terrible without the amazing performances of the actors.

I highly recommend this one.

Final Score: 5 stars out of 5*


*A 5 star review doesn’t mean the movie was perfect nor that it is perfect for everyone but it is a movie I believe is as close to perfect as possible.

Books, Beards, and way too much face

Hello My Imaginary Friends,

At Renaissance CON (June 2020), S.M. Carrière noticed my beard that I started growing out in January 2020. She mentioned it was an impressive COVID beard and I said, “It’s a novel beard. I’ll shave when I finish this darned book.”

Fast forward to last week and I finally finished the darned book.

Here are pictures of a wild bearded author who just finished his book (and received another):

And now here are the pictures of a newly sheared author who has much too much face for his own liking:

You can get any of my books at your local bookstore, or if you’d like, you can buy them on our website under the header of books.

Thank you!!!

Be kind and stay safe,

Éric

The Three Musketeers – JenEric Movie Review

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Hello Cinephiles,

Today we’re talking about the 2011 film The Three Musketeers.

Story

The basic story is there with all it’s swash and buckle. There’s a few interesting twists and some fun clock-punk elements (like steampunk with with clockwork mechanisms instead of steam power.)

It’s a lot of talking, scheming, fighting, and quipping.

Score: 0.5

Characters

There’s a lot of variation that can be had with these characters. It worked extremely well with this group. I particularly like the changes in Milady, the King, and Queen.

The acting was purposefully and wonderfully over the top. Orlando Bloom channels a combination of Tim Curry and Alan Rickman, which I’d love to see more of.

Score: 0.5

Dialogue

The dialogue vassalates wildly from pure cheese to genius.

Score: 0.5

Visuals and Music

The movie is absolutely beautiful. The saturation, in my opinion, should have been higher, but other than that it was a beautiful film.

The music was great at what it did, occasionally feeling like a videogame, but it worked.

Score: 1

Fun

The kids weren’t big fans of anything but the action, but there was plenty of that to keep the five year old entertained. I thoroughly enjoyed the ridiculous action, sets, and history bending.

Score: 1

Overall

This clock-punk take on the Three Musketeers is action-packed and filled with fantastic action. It has all the excellent elements of action and over the top visuals that are the director’s standard.

Overall, it’s a lot of fun.

Final Score: 3.5 stars out of 5

Diamond Stars and the Galactic Heist – Chapter 9


Chapter 1 | Chapter 2 | Chapter 3 | Chapter 4 | Chapter 5 | Chapter 6 | Chapter 7 | Chapter 8 | Chapter 9 | Chapter 10 | Chapter 11 | Chapter 12


Chapter 9

“Do you think the whole station just lost life support or just this room?” I asked.

“Depends on how lucky we are.” For a woman chained to a wall in a high military research station who was trying to outsmart a Sun Speaker who could tell the future, she sure sounded confident.

“Assuming this room is airtight, I guess we have about two hours worth of air. Seems like we failed this mission.” I tried not to sound too defeated, but it was hard. I’m not sure if I was more disappointed to be dying or that I hadn’t had a chance to kiss Onyx yet. No, it was definitely the second part.

“You’ll get a chance to kiss the handsome doctor. Don’t worry,” Diamond said with a chuckle. Just when I was about to ask if she was psychic, she replied, “I’m not psychic, but I recognize attraction when I see it.”

“Too bad. It’d be nice to have a psychic on our side. It might counter the Sun Speaker.”

I sat down and Diamond said, “I realize we’re in the dark and all, but would you mind picking the locks on these chains?”

“Tired of hanging out with me?” I asked as I found my lockpicks. Maybe ‘lockpicks’ is a generous term for a small cutting torch and various tools.

I’d cut through the shackles around her ankles and one hand when I heard a deep rumbling. I hurried with the last wrist and Diamond pushed me towards the door.

“Did you know this room is on the outside of the station?” she asked.

“Sounds like a dumb place for a jailcell,” I replied, needing to shout over the sound of metal grinding.

“Where’s a prisoner going to go, into the black? They’d rather protect the experiments from stray asteroids and radiation spikes.”

I started to see sparks and then all noise stopped. I stepped forward and Diamond stopped me. The wall blew outwards and what was left of our air followed right behind it. We were sucked into the cold dark of space and for a moment I felt like every part of my body was being pulled and pushed in all directions. It wasn’t a fun feeling. 

I thought my lungs were going to explode and suddenly strong hands were pulling us into the Revenge. 

When the airlock recompressed, I was shivering so hard I thought I was going to chip a tooth. Onyx ran in with blankets and wrapped us both in them. “When you two can walk, I need you to get fully checked out.”

Diamond stood up, something I found extremely impressive since I wasn’t sure what part of me did that. She said, “I need to be on the bridge. We need to get out of here.”

She managed three steps before collapsing into Flint, who’d finished taking off his space suit.

I looked around and counted when I finished, I counted again. I was definitely suffering from oxygen deprivation. I said, “Piloting Sphene the ship is?” That didn’t sound right and I tried again, “Ship is Sphene-ing the pilot?” Nope that wasn’t it either.

Onyx smiled, it was much too distracting a smile, and said, “Yes, and I think you need some oxygen.”

Time passed and between the oxygen, blanket, and his smile, I started to feel better. 

“They’ve got to be following us,” I said, suddenly panicking. I got up and headed towards the bridge. Sphene was sitting in the co-pilot chair and at some point Flint must have taken over the pilot’s chair.

“How many?” I asked.

“No one’s following us,” Flint said with a small drawl. “I’ve used four jump gates and switched our transponder twice. It would take a psychic to follow us.”

From behind me, Diamond said, “Even then they can’t track us. Flint, get us to home base and then we’ll talk. Garnet, I need you and me to head to medical and get checked out.” 

I wanted to protest, but she was right. I needed to make sure this ringing in my head was just stress and the cold of space and not something worse.

Onyx gave me a quick check and then put me under a scanner while he checked on Diamond. 

“You could improve that holo-emitter by using a stronger power source and using a small engine capacitor to stabilize the image. It would make it harder for someone to know.”

With a slight chuckle, Diamond said, “That sounds good. I’ll write that down for my replacement.”

Both Onyx and I said, “Replacement?” at the same time.

“Yes. This is my last job. I have enough money and my heart’s not in this anymore. I’m going to settle down with Ronnie and retire.” She looked us both over and said, “I’m retiring, not dying. Diamond has always been a mantle and it’s past time to pass it on.”

I didn’t know what to say. The idea of retiring was completely alien to me. I spent my life expecting to die in combat, fighting the great war that was coming, and when I ran away, I assumed I’d be hunted and killed.

“Good for you,” I said awkwardly.

“Let’s just get to home base and send these plans out. You did get them, right?” Diamond asked.

“Yes. Why didn’t you ask earlier?”

“You’re not the only one with issues right now,” she said.

Onyx clapped his hands and said, “You’re both going to be fine. You need some food and rest, but you’re healthy otherwise.”

“Talking about food, do you have any of that spaghetti left?” I asked.

Alarms went off and Flint’s voice came over the speaker. “We’ve got company. There are three dreadnaughts and a lot of destroyers between us and home base. All Black-Sun.”

Dreadnaughts were the largest ships in the Black-Sun fleet, averaging six kilometres long, with a crew manifest of over thirty thousand. I’d never heard of three of them ever being deployed, other than in training missions.

Read Chapter 10 (October 2021)


While you wait for the next chapter, check out the previous serial stories:


Want to learn more about what Sun Speakers are? Check out what the one in our solar system is up to.

Sun Speaker

In the distant future humanity has spread to the other planets in our solar system. These stories follow Hal (a prophet for a godlike entity that lives in the sun), and his friends, as they try to make the solar system a better place.

Hal The Sun Speaker

Part 1 | Part 2 | Part 3 | Part 4 | Part 5

The Assassin

Part 1 | Part 2 | Part 3 | Part 4 | Part 5

A Funny Thing Happened on the Way to my Funeral

Part 1 | Part 2 | Part 3 | Part 4 | Part 5 | Part 6

Gladiators in SPACE!

Part 1 | Part 2 | Part 3 | Part 4 | Part 5 | Part 6

Ghost Ship Robinson

Chapter 1 | Chapter 2 | Chapter 3 | Chapter 4 | Chapter 5 | Chapter 6 | Chapter 7

Dear Dragon – Welcome to Level 5

Dear Little Dragon,

It’s been a fantastic year for you. You’ve grown a lot. Physically about 3 inches, emotionally you’ve matured a lot.

You finished your first year of école and learned a lot:

  • Counting to 100,
  • Your letters, the sounds, and the alphabet,
  • The days of the week,
  • The months of the year,
  • Numbers,
  • How to use a computer for meetings,
  • and a lot more.

You’ve learned a lot of non-école stuff too:

  • You’ve gotten very good at video games, understanding how to move your characters and use items etc.
  • You’re great at baking with me, measuring, dumping, and stirring.
  • Making up games to play with Adrien.
  • Acrobatics. You do awesome flips.

Potty training feels like a distant memory, you’re doing amazing. I’m so glad we don’t have to fight with you as often, although you still hate being told to go pee.

When you were barely able to talk, you pointed at the peanut butter jar and said, “Walmart.” I asked how you knew and you pointed at the logo on the side. When we went on trips you’d point out stores that you knew, or billboards for shows. You’re still doing things like that and with even more nuance. You can recognize the graphics and style of a Miyazaki film from the tiny Totoro and understand that it’s the same company, not a series.

The past year has seen you get a little pickier with your food. It’s no longer just not wanting to try new food, you’re starting to have very definite likes and dislikes. You love sweet dips but can’t stand gravy, you love chicken nuggets and strips, but can’t stand stuffed chicken. You love spaghetti and dislike lasagna and chilli. You also don’t like food that’s messy that you have to eat with your hands, like pizza or tacos. I’m starting to wonder if you’re not a fan of melted cheese.

We did a lot of cooking and baking together, you and I, for your homeschool. It was a lot of fun and I liked your excitement at making new things.

I feel like I’m getting a clearer picture of who you will grow up to be. You’re sweet, confident, stubborn, clever, and empathic. You’re a lot like your mum and that’s a good thing. I look forward to seeing who you are later, but I’m not in any rush. I’m loving who you are now.

I hope your fifth year sees a vaccine for you and a return to society for all of us. I can’t wait to do another convention with you and travel. I love the way you see the world.

Happy Birthday Little Dragon!

I love you lots!

Papa