Spider-Man: No Way Home – JenEric Movie Review

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Hello Cinephiles,

Today we’re talking about the 2021 film Spider-Man: No Way Home.

Story

There’s a lot of good and a lot of bad in this one. The hopefulness of Spider-man is challenged, but shown to be worth protecting. Spider-man doesn’t kill his enemies was a theme in the older films, but he also didn’t save them. Saving them in this one helps affirm the joy and hopefulness of this Spider-man. I love the concept.

I hate that they had to, once again, kill a strong female character to move the plot and motivate the hero. It’s old, it was old a long time ago.

Another thing that’s old and really annoying is the forgetting spell. I hated the soft reset of Gamora in Avengers, and I hate it here. It makes everything from the previous movie feel cheap. It feels like they had to have it so that Strange wouldn’t go ask Peter for help in the next movie.

Score: 0.5

Characters

I absolutely loved seeing the two older Spider-men. It made my elder millennial heart happy to see them and see them work through some of their trauma and issues. Felt, oddly, like coming home.

I adored the character development and redemption for the villains. When Alfred Molina’s Doc Ock called Peter, “Dear Boy,” I cheered. I’d forgotten how absolutely brilliant William Defoe was as Norman Osborne.

M.J. and Ned are great characters and I really liked watching them work with Peter. Unfortunately, most of their development and interactions now don’t matter. That pisses me off.

Score: 0.5

Dialogue

This was surprisingly heartfelt and perfectly quippy. Bringing back the Great Power speech was well done. I loved all the in-jokes and all the dialogue between the main trio.

Score: 1

Visuals and Music

Absolutely stunning special effects, camera work, and fight scenes.

The music didn’t just elevate the scenes, it also punched up the nostalgia perfectly.

Score: 1

Fun

I’ve been a fan of the Spider-man movies for twenty-one years and this brought all the feels and brought me back to summer 2001 when I watched the first movie more times than I can count at a discount second run cinema.

The kids liked it mostly (the 2yo got bored during the talky bits) and the rest of the family geeked out with me.

I was ridiculously annoyed at the loss of character interaction and growth due to the memory loss spell.

Score: 0.5

Overall

Lots of hope, thrills, excitement, and nostalgia with a big heap of fun. This is a Spider-man film for those who love Spider-man films. It’s marred by some tiresome tropes and leaves us in a frustrating place for the next one, but overall it’s a lot of fun.

Final Score: 3.5 Stars out of 5

Semi-Coherent Ramblings

Hello My Imaginary Friends,

Last night, between Pegasus waking up several times (it’s been a while since he’s done that), insomnia, stress dream, and a couple of days of really bad allergies; I didn’t sleep well.

I’m a little grumpy today. Mumble mumble mumble. So I apologize for today’s disjointed post and possible incoherence.

Jen and I’s newest work in progess is going well. I love being able to plan and geek out about stuff with her as we write. Even if it means we don’t get to bed at anything related to a reasonable hour. I’m planning on writing a song for it and I’m terrified I’ll screw it up.

I read up on the plot, deaths, and story of the new Doctor Strange movie and I have to say it sounds pretty tedious. I loved WandaVision and from what I’ve read, it undoes a lot of the character progression of Wanda and falls into the “hysterical woman” trope that Marvel comics love so much. It’s a good thing Marvel releases so many movies because there are more and more of them that I don’t like.

I’m just waiting for a large bag of dirt that comes in on Friday and I’ll be able to plant my garden. Every year I say I won’t garden, and every year I do. I love the idea of growing my own food. Unfortunately, I only have a green thumb with the help of a marker.

Shamelessly cute photo of the kids.

Jen and I are prepping two manuscripts for submission and it’s a little stressful, but fun. Both are related to Assassins! Accidental Matchmakers (Pre-orders now open at your local bookstores for September 15th) and that makes it awkward for our publisher. They have to judge the quality, but also have to decide if it’s financially worth publishing a sequel and story collection without having any sales data. You could make their decision easier by pre-ordering it. 🙂

I’m not good at this whole publicity thing. I need to improve my ability to get people interested about my books. They are awesome, but if you don’t read them, how do you know you want to read them? Jen has all sorts of exciting ideas that are great.

I think I’ve rambled enough for today.

Stay safe and be kind,

Éric

Top 5 Ebook Layout Mistakes

Hello Book Lovers and Authors,

When you self-publish or work with an inexperienced layout artist, there are certain mistakes that make your ebook look bad.

Unlike print publishing, which is a centuries old industry, ebooks are fairly new, with only about twenty years worth of history.

Despite it’s youth, it’s based on very strict rules. Each format has it’s own quirks, but the industry standard is Epub and it is based off HTML and has a detailed set of rules. You can find the Epub3 rules on the W3 website.

There are plenty of ways to generate your ebooks and the following will help you avoid issues.

*The information in this post is up to date as of publishing, but things move fast.*

5. Not validating

This is only an issue if you’re creating your own ebook from a computer program instead of a service like Draft2Digital.

There are hundreds of issues that could affect the ability of your ebook to be read or even accepted by the major platforms.

Epub Checker is a great tool.

If you don’t want to deal with downloading anything, you can validate on the Draft2Digital site even if you don’t use their service.

Unfortunately at this time, a lot of services (Looking at you AppleBooks) will refuse to publish the newer, better, and cleaner version of epubs. Stick to Epub 2s and you’ll have a wider distribution.

4. Getting Fancy with Fonts

Ebooks are very simple by design to make them easy to use on different platforms. They will not accept more than 2 beyond basic formatting changes to a font.

What that means is you can have your font Italic, Bold, Underlined. Beyond those basics you can’t have more than 2, I even recommend not having more that 1.

For example, the font can’t be bold, highlighted, and shadowed. I had a client whose chapter titles were highlighted in black with white font and a line underneath. Ebook programs automatically changed it to white text on white, which sucked. So we needed an alternate styling for the ebook.

Most people will use their ebook reader’s default setting which replaces fonts to avoid legibility issues. Don’t be fancy or spend too much time on look.

3 .Not including Page Breaks

Ebooks, mostly, are supposed to be flowable. What that means is they can change what’s on the page depending on font size and flow to the next page.

If you don’t include page breaks, every page will flow into the next and ereaders that calculate page counts per chapter won’t be able to.

Note: some programs like Calibre and services like Draft2Digital use your heading structure to create breaks automatically.

2. Static Layouts / Images

With a few exceptions, your book should be flowable, not static. That allows people to increase the font and not worry about missing pieces. Some exceptions are comic books, picture books, and art books.

The greatest sin you can make in an ebook is to use an image instead of text. It means that screen readers can’t read the text, readers can’t increase the font, and it’ll probably look fuzzy.

1. No Headings, No Table of Contents

Headings, Headings, Headings!

They are the most important structural element of HTML and of Ebooks. Every word processor has them. Use them.

Without headings, an ebook doesn’t get a table of contents. That means it doesn’t have any way of navigating between chapters. It could also mean no chapter page counts or no page breaks.

A book without headings or table of contents looks unprofessional, but could pass validation and might still be accepted by the various platforms.


A good Layout Artist will make sure that all these things are taken care of and that your book looks great. See Why Your Book Needs a Layout Artist!

Print books have their own standards see the Top 5 Book Layout Mistakes.

I offer layout services if you ever need help.

Good reading and good writing,

Éric

Ghostbusters: Afterlife – JenEric Movie Review

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Hello Cinephiles,

Today we’re talking about the 2021 film Ghostbusters: Afterlife.

Story

A very clever mix of the Ghostbusters formula and the rural “kids on bikes” genre. The story is extremely predictable, but that’s part of its fun.

Score: 0.5

Characters

The characters on paper are kinda boring and overdone. Weird kid who’s probably autistic, ghost nut, slacker teacher, horny teens, sad single mother. However, the actors make them lovable, quirky, and just fun to watch.

Score: 1

Dialogue

The strength of the first three movies was their dialogue and this doesn’t disappoint. Self referential and nostalgic enough for old fans, but funny and quippy enough for newer fans.

Score: 1

Visuals and Music

The special effects are great and I loved the location. If felt grand and rural all at the same time. The kind of place locals don’t see the beauty in.

The music was solid. Did what it needed and used themes from the older films.

Score: 1

Fun

I fully expected to not like this one. There were a lot of issues with the originals and I wasn’t in the mood to revisit the same story and cast again. I was pleasantly surprised by the story and cast. Even more by how nostalgic I felt about the whole thing.

The kids loved it to the point where the two year old keeps talking about it.

Score: 1

Overall

A fun nostalgic ride with a talented, entertaining, and fresh cast. It’s shiny and new and will tug on all your heartstrings. If you liked the previous three (does anyone really like the second one?) you’ll love this.

Final Score: 4.5 Stars out of 5

The Quest

Hello My Imaginary Friends,

For those of you who have been around for a while, you might remember The Quest. It was on at the tail end of the Reality Television boom of the early 2010’s. We got lots of dance, spies, murders, pirates, and other odd concepts.

The Quest was all about fantasy and magic. It was set in a fantasy world where the contestants had to go through challenges in order to be deemed the hero of Everealm.

The show inspired my book Everdome and has a lot of the same elements, although the stories and the worlds are very different.

Trivia: Everdome is a book series inside my, and my wife’s, books. The fist mention of which was in my first published novel A Study in Aether.

Read more about my inspiration from this eight year old blog post.

The Quest 2022

Disney+ is reviving the series with a twist of it being teens and not having it be eliminations. I was skeptical about the show since it didn’t have any of the same cast, but after seeing the new trailer, I’m sold and can’t wait to watch it.

I’m really looking forward to this, but it’s going to make me want to write more in Everdome. Maybe it’s time to revisit the world after my next few planned novels?

Stay safe and be kind,

Éric

Goodreads Lists

I recently discovered a thing called “Goodreads Lists.” These include things like “Most Anticipated Reads of 2022” and “September 2022 Anticipated Romance Reads.”

If you find yourself looking for something to do over the next ten or so minutes, and you’re on a computer (MOBILE DOES NOT ALLOW YOU TO VOTE), please click through the Lists that contain Assassins! Accidental Matchmakers on the Goodreads page and it will send you directly to Assassins! Accidental Matchmakers. At this point, please do two things:

  1. Vote For This Book (there is a button directly under the book in each list)
  2. Click the green “Want to Read” button (you’ll only be able to do this once)

I have no idea which list is the most important (but probably the ones with the higher numbers of books and/or votes in them), so if you have the time and the energy, please vote for it in as many lists as possible! The more votes, the more it gets noticed by people who don’t know us personally.

You can check out the summary while you’re on the page, and if it looks interesting, ask your local bookstore to order it! The distributor for our publisher is going to independent bookstores over the next couple weeks, so it would be cool to get our book in local stores as well as the big chains.

Thank you in advance!

Good Reading

Jen and Éric

Spin – JenEric Movie Review

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Hello Cinephiles,

Today we’re talking about the 2021 film Spin.

Story

This is a pretty standard Disney formula teen music/sports movie. What’s different here is the lack of the usual tropes associated with this genre. There’s no mean girl, not much friends angst, no racism, and no parents yelling about what is appropriate.

The girl also doesn’t change herself for the boy, which is great.

There is a little bit more parental angst than I’d like and it was handled awkwardly in the story.

Score: 0.5

Characters

The friends and classmates were fantastic. It’s great to see that dynamic. The grandmother was amazing, she stole the show. The brother felt a little superfluous.

The love interest was perfectly annoying, as he should be.

The only character that bothered me was the dad. He had reasons for what he did but they were terribly shown and you really had to read between the lines. It made him seem like he went from supportive to ass without provocation.

Score: 0.5

Dialogue

The dialogue was quipy and felt appropriate, if a little extra clean, for the age and characters. I liked the nerdy talk and the pun on tikka masala tacos (tik-taco)

Score: 1

Visuals and Music

The scenery and camera work are really well done and perfectly colourful. Perfect for the style of the story.

The music is excellent and had the whole family wanting to dance.

Score: 1

Fun

The entire family was bopping to the music and loving the story. It was really nice to see some of the most frustrating tropes in kids movies were turned upside down or discarded.

Score: 1

Overall

This is the teen movie I wish I’d had as a kid. The supportive friends, family, and teacher are awesome, the music fun, and the grandmother is amazing. If you enjoyed the music based movies from Disney in the early two thousands you’ll love everything about this.

I can’t wait to see it again.

Final Score: 4 Stars out of 5

Progress Comes Slowly

Hello My Imaginary Friends,

I am currently a mess. It’s okay, I’m working through it. I’ve mentioned before that I’m having issues with burnout and long-Covid. Combined with my current seasonal allergies, it’s been a hard few weeks.

I had a lot to do lately and a lot I wanted to do. I pushed a little too hard and my body gave me hell.

Unfortunately, balance is something that will take time. It’s all about learning my limits and that those will change with the seasons.

Thankfully, once my son is vaccinated (which is looking like it could be this year) I will feel comfortable returning to my allergist and getting the shots again. I’ve been off them for just over seven years and I’ve slowly slipped back to being as bad as I was before the shots. The worst is the oral allergy syndrome that causes me to have issues with a lot of fruits. That, and the fatigue.

Anyway, the point of all this is to let you know that it’s okay to screw-up and make mistakes. Life is messy and taking care of yourself is hard.

Be safe and be kind,

Éric

Magic Key?

Dear Readers,

Here’s a conversation my kids had yesterday. Reminder that Pegasus is two and Dragon is five.

Pegasus: I want a cupcake.

Me: *Clears throat agressively*

Dragon: What’s the magic key?

Pegasus: Magic key?

Me: She means say please.

Pegasus: Please can I have the magic key?

Me: No, say please for the cupcake.

Pegasus: Please for cupcake. *I give him a cupcake* Where’s magic key?

Me: She meant magic word, which is please.

Dragon: The magic key is please.

Pegasus: Can I have magic key please?

Me: There is no key, it’s a word.

Pegasus: What’s magic word?

Me: Please.

Pegasus: *Confused* Can I have magic key please?

Dragon: *Mimes handing him a key* Here you go.

Pegasus: Yay! Magic key!

Me: *Throws hands in the air* Eat your cupcake please.

Some days I feel like an extra in Who’s on First.

Hope that made you smile.

Stay safe and be kind,

Éric

Better Nate Than Ever – JenEric Movie Review

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Hello Cinephiles,

Today we’re talking about the 2022 film Better Nate Than Ever.

Story

This is a combination of musical, kid running away, and trying to reach your dream. It’s fairly predictable but lots of fun. I liked the friendship and I really liked the casualness of his sexuality.

I do feel there should have at least been a little bit of dialogue about him running away between him and his parents. They should have at least admitted that they pushed him to run away with their disregard for his dreams.

Score: 0.5

Characters

I didn’t like the parents. I found they were, as usual for an American movie, too focused on the sports star and too dismissive of the younger son. I also found the line where the dad is justifying Nate sleeping over at a girls house a little ridiculous. He says that’s it okay because, “Nate is different.” That works if they’ve had a talk about his sexuality, but if the dad is just guessing, that’s a dangerous line of thought. We bisexuals exist and there are a lot of boys who look or sound gay and are somewhere else in the spectrum.

The dynamics between the best friend and Nate are great and I love the aunt. The brother’s growth is well done.

Score: 0.5

Dialogue

The dialogue was pure Broadway fan with a few explanations for those who didn’t know. It was clever, witty, and quick while still being hopeful and naive. I loved it.

Score: 1

Visuals and Music

The movie was excellently framed and shot, making perfect use of the camera without being too static. The sets and locations were a great mix.

The music was perfectly picked and the musical numbers were a lot of fun.

Score: 1

Fun

This is a feelgood movie with lots of hope and talent. My 2yo was glued to the screen and my 5yo was writhing on the floor in second-hand embarrassment (she really doesn’t like movies where kids lie to their parents.)

The rest of us had big grins on our faces most of the time.

Score: 1

Overall

A fun, exciting, and musically filled film with lots of heart. I hope that the matter-of-fact treatment of sexuality is something we’ll see more of in the future.

This movie will make you smile and want to get up and dance. It almost made me want to audition for something.

Final Score: 4 Stars out of 5