Renaissance Virtual Conference

Hello My Imaginary Friends,

It’s the beginning of what would have been convention season. We should have had 2 or 3 under our belts already, but fate had other ideas. My publisher is filling the gap and running a virtual conference.

Here’s the information from their site:

Image description: Logo of a computer screen; on it are eye glasses over an open book. Left text says: Renaissance Virtual Conference, May 30-31, 2020

Renaissance Press is organizing an entirely FREE, entirely online convention!

With everyone and everything being shut down, a lot of conventions and fairs have cancelled, and a lot of authors and publishers have lost precious revenue. Renaissance has also been affected, so we thought:

Why not do something online, make a weekend of it, and get as many people involved as possible?

So today, we are reaching out to everyone we know who writes and sells books to see if they want to be part of our big event! 

What will it look like?

An online convention/book fair, completely free for everyone involved. Authors will be able to promote themselves and their work through panels, readings, and workshops. We would offer 2-3 days of programming. When you mention your book in the panel, there will be an accessible link right there! Panels will also be recorded and later posted to YouTube, along with the links.

There will also be a virtual vendors room where we will link everyone’s books, and your books, along with whatever sale or flash deal you or your publisher are currently having, will be promoted before and after each event. 

When?

Our big online book fair will happen on the weekend of May 30-31. We plan to have programming from 10 AM to 8 PM on the Saturday, and from 10 AM to 6 PM on the Sunday. We might have programming on the Friday evening if we have enough content/demand. The hours can be expanded, and a second weekend is possible, depending on demand.  

Who can participate?

We would like to invite as many authors, publishers and associations as possible. Basically, if you write and/or sell books, and want visibility, you’re whom this is for! And since this is online, anyone from anywhere in the world can participate!

What if my book is from another publisher?

Your publisher is welcome to have a free, virtual “stand” in our online dealers’ room. Or, you can participate and have us link back to your publisher’s page without your publisher having to be there if they don’t want to. To be in our virtual vendors’ room, there is no other requirement than for us to have a link to their shop, a logo, and be informed of any sale or flash deal they are having. All we ask in return is that you and/or your publisher help promote the event by posting about it on social media.

What kind of ideas are you looking for?

We’re up for anything! We have a selection of panels that have already been pitched to us that you’ll find here, that you can simply apply to be on, or you can pitch us your own idea. If you have a workshop to present, it’s always best if it’s closely related to your books (for example, if your aliens eat delicious desserts, you could always teach people how to cook your favorite dessert). Or, you might want to read from your recent new release. We are looking for content that can appeal to a wide public! We are also looking for some programming geared towards children for the mornings.

APPLY NOW! Deadline: May 7th

What are you waiting for? Go apply!

Stay safe, wash your hands,

Éric

Legally Blonde – WMR

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Hello Cinephiles,

Today we’re talking about the 2001 movie Legally Blonde.

Story

This movie takes the usual narrative of the blonde rich girl being a bitch and turns it on its head. Elle is a genuinely sweet person. It has an interesting mix of awkward college movie and legal drama.

The story is great if a little simplistic. It gets its messages across and aged relatively well.

One of the main messages is that you need to love yourself and be with someone who loves the real you. But there’s one scene where Elle pretends to have had a one night stand to make her friend look like he’s good in bed and didn’t call her after. It makes the mean girl the guy was talking to give him a second chance, but feels contrary to everything else in the movie. If she wouldn’t date him and even went as far as insulting him in public, maybe she’s not worth it.

The legal plot was laughably simple with nice coincidences.

Score: 0.5

Characters

Elle, her sorority friends, and most of the characters are really sweet. The “mean” girl and professor guy are the only ones to do much evolution other than Elle.

The characters are mostly good people and that’s great. However that movie is overwhelmingly white and straight. The few LGBTQI+ or POC characters are dated and disturbingly tone death stereotypes, even for 2001.

Score: 0.5

Dialogue

The dialogue is very exaggerated for each of the stereotypes and other than a few adorable valley-girl sayings from Elle, it’s all pretty meh. However the body language, especially the amused bemusement of Luke Wilson, is pure awesome.

Score: 0.5

Visuals and Music

I really liked the contrast between the gaudy LA style versus the stuffy Boston law school style. It really made the fish out of water story believable. I also love the evolution of Elle’s wardrobe and how it matches her own character development.

I honestly can’t remember the music at all. I know it was there but I can’t remember it. That means it did it’s job.

Score: 0.5

Fun

This movie rolls together mystery, college, romance, humour, and characters that want to genuinely do good in the world. It’s fun to watch.

Score: 1

Overall

This movie is about empowerment and being yourself, even if it doesn’t fit into the stereotype everyone has for you. It’s about doing something you love for yourself.

It’s got a few cringy scenes (Bend and Snap?) but overall it’s a feel good movie that made me feel better about my current stresses and worries.

Final Score: 3 Stars

Gaming with a 3 year old

Hello Imaginary Friends,

When Dragon gets enough days with no toilet accidents she gets a reward. We started in July and one of her rewards has been “Video Games with Papa”.

We’ve done 3 or 4 sessions now and she’s starting to get the hang of it. We’ve mostly played in the toybox of Disney Infinity and the PS3 Phineas and Ferb Game.

I’ve noticed huge changes in her abilities every time we’ve played. She started the first time no understanding that the remote controlled her character to actually participating in the combat and knowing what buttons to press.

Her hands are still a little small for the controllers, but she’s doing great. Saturday we played hide and seek in the toybox and she started to understand how to find me. Once she’s good enough, we’ll start playing the playsets.

She still gets stuck in corners now, but she’ll get there. She seems to like it and that’s the important thing.

We’ll see how it goes next time.

Éric

Point Zero – Chapter 4


Prologue | 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 4: Obligatory Super Suit Episode

“Mel, have you been drawing superhero comics?” I asked as I got home that night. Turns out that a lightning sword versus a cardboard dinosaur wasn’t a fair fight.

“Not until tonight. I have to document this.” She looked up from her drawing computer and gave me a dirty look, “Give me more credit Sam. If I drew a monster for you to fight it would have more tentacles.” She illustrated, pun intended, the point by drawing something with an obscene amount of appendages and then erased it. “This was more like cheap theatre. Kinda like the godzilla Frank built for a school play.”

I laughed and said, “How he expected to add a cardboard Godzilla to A Midsummer Night’s Dream, I could never figure out.”

That night marked the one year anniversary of Frank’s death and our return to the world. We celebrated by staying in our apartment and drinking until we forgot. It was juvenile but we were only twenty-one and we’d lost three of those years to an alien abduction.

The cardboard dinosaur was followed a few days later by a paper maché robot army. Still over-dramatic and demanding gold. I easily defeated them again but it took more of my energy and I had trouble keeping my glow.

“Is this going to be a regular thing?” James asked, soaking in his tub while we all ate pizza.

Simultaneously Mel and I spoke. I said, “I hope not,” while she said, “I hope so.”

“What?” asked Jane. “We can’t fight a supervillain. Sam’s the only one with offensive power.”

“Bullshit. All our powers can be used for combat,” Mel countered.

Looking sceptical with one eyebrow raised James asked, “What am I going to do? Breath water at him?”

“Well if you’d just try to talk to fish…” Mel drifted off mid sentence before continuing, “The Prop-Master is going to come back and we can all help. I’ve designed you costumes.” She pulled out four sketches from her sketchbook. 

“I’m not wearing something under my regular clothes,” I warned.

“You don’t have to.” Mel gestured for me to stand up. I did and she pinched the costume on the page and it looked like she tossed it at me. As easy as that, I was in superhero spandex. The suit was comfortable and a great cross between the modern dark aesthetic and the bright colours of the golden age. My suit looked like it was a black skin-tight suit with holographic full plate armour outlined in golden yellow around me. The helmet covered my eyes but also gave me a readout of things around me.

Jane’s suit was made for stealth, it was pale blue and skin-tight. She made Mel get rid of the boob-window. The suit could become translucent, making it hard to see Jane when she teleported.

Mel’s suit was another skin-tight outfit, but it ended in a revealing corset. It was a massive pastiche of superhero and other comic illustrations. It was bright and gaudy and she refused to make it more conservative. “If I’m going to be a superhero I might as well show off my curves.”

The last suit was the most impressive in my mind. The suit itself made James look like the Swamp Thing or Creature from the Black Lagoon; I always get them mixed up. But then it created a bubble of water that let him swim around in the air like he did underwater. It was like a flying bouncing hamsterball.

As we all stood there I felt equal parts ridiculous, sexy, and awesome. Jane was the first to say something after we were all  suited-up, “We look great, but we don’t look like a team.” She blushed and added, “What? I read comics too.”

“What if we add a logo of some sort?” James suggested. 

Mel looked down at her drawing computer and started to draw. What she came up with was a five point green star, with wavy points, where one of the points was, nearly, completely faded out. The symbolism was perfect.

It wasn’t long before the Prop-Master returned and this time he brought creepy human shaped and featureless sand-filled purple-fabric puppets. They made a sickening scream when they were hit and crumpled like a bad interpretation of the wicked witch of the west.

We should have been able to take them easily but we sucked at working together. We each tried to take out the enemies as if we were discount versions of Gimli and Legolas. I was swinging wildly, Jane was jumping around doing almost nothing, and they were literally cleaning the streets with James.

I was getting worried when I saw James get swarmed but Mel’s voice boomed in our ears. “WHAT ARE YOU DOING?” she had decided to sit on top of a tall building and direct us. We’d ignored her and she was pissed. “Jane get James.” When she’d gotten the three of us together she said, “James get them as wet as you can.” She giggled at her innuendo. “Jane get Sam up here.”

From above it was impressive to see James throwing water balls at the puppets. “Okay they’re wet enough. Jane get James.”

“Okay fearless leader… we now have mud puppets. What next?”

“Do you know what happens to mud when it’s struck by lightning?” Mel asked.

I understood and charged as much power as I could into a lightning blast. The arc of power struck the foot deep of water and dispersed, coursing through the water into the puppets. When I was done there were no more puppets but there were fantastic fulgurite statues. I replied to Mel with, “We kicked it’s glass.”

Jane and James groaned.

Read Chapter 5 (May 2020)


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

Zootopia – WMR

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Hello Cinephiles,

Today we’re talking about the 2016 movie Zootopia.

*This was my favourite movie of 2016*

Story

Fast paced, coherent, with several great messages. It’s strange watching it in a post-Trump world and seeing messages that were clearly political. If by political you mean: don’t profile people, be kind, don’t give in to fear, and don’t give up.

The structure of procedural and buddy cop movie is done very well, with lots of allusions to other movies, while keeping the twist fresh. It’s also re-watchable even if you remember the twist.

Score: 1

Characters

To build relatable characters it’s important that they have flaws and strengths. To make great characters you need to have those strengths and flaws be intrinsically linked. Judy’s hopeless optimism and refusal to quit are strengths but they also blind her to the obvious dangers and villains.

Nick’s clever mind and overthinking are great for hustles but they make him doubt everything people do.

Score: 1

Dialogue

There’s a lot said out loud and a lot said between the lines. This movie could have easily been bogged down with world building dialogue but is instead filled with wonderful lines. I love the evolution of Nick calling Judy “Carrots”.

I also love the Disney humour. Hearing Idris Alba say, “Life isn’t some cartoon musical where you sing a little song and all your insipid dreams magically come true. So let it go.” was just the kind of self-mocking humour I love.

Score: 1

Visuals and Music

This movie is stunning and absolutely beautiful. Zootopia the city is as much a character as a setting and you quickly fall in love with it.

The music is perfect background and the Shakira song is catchy and inspirational.

Score: 1

Fun

Other than the press conference scene, I smile and laugh all the way through. It’s a movie that makes you think about the world you live in and the prejudices, while still making silly sloth jokes.

Score: 1

Overall

This movie is wonderful and has everything I’m looking for. There are a few contrived moments and it’s not absolutely perfect but it makes up for it in humour, heart, and making you think.

If you haven’t seen it, now is the time.

Final Score: 5 Stars*


*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.

Dear Pegasus and Dragon – Pandemic 2020

Hello My Mythical Brood,

It’s the twentieth of April and we’ve been in a quarantine for a little over a month. I’m hoping that you’re not too scared, and that you’re enjoying all the family time. Your Mum and I have been trying to make this comfortable for you.

I’ll be completely honest, it’s been hard for me. Not spending time with you, that’s been awesome; exhausting but a lot of fun. The worry is what’s been hard. I’m hoping you’re not feeling it too much, but I’m terrified for family and friends.

I’m also worried by a lot of foolish people who might cause a new wave of infections. There are more conspiracy theories than you can shake a stick at.

Worse, this disease seems to have become politicized, with one side wanting to protect lives and the other to protect the economy. Both are worried for humanity, but have different priorities. If our society doesn’t change and we don’t worry about the economy then we’ll have problems that will last a long time and will kill people. If we just let a huge amount of people die, the economy won’t do well. What we need is change. We need to reorder society to prioritize lives. Not just monetizable lives, but all lives. I hope that by the time you read this, we have a better solution.

The next month will tell us a lot about what’s going to happen. I’m hoping those in power do the right thing.

This is obviously coming from a place of privilege, but I hope when you hear about this time in the future, your memories are happy and joyful. I hope that we have insulated you from the worst of it while still helping you understand what is happening.

We’re at the beginning of this thing still and I’m not sure what will happen.

I know that I will love you and do my best to protect you.

I love you both so much.

Your worried Papa

Aurora Awards Nominations 2019 – Reminder

Hello My Imaginary Friends,

The Aurora nominations end TOMORROW!!!! Please keep us in mind.

Also don’t do like us and forget to hit the finalize button until the last minute.


Last year The Travelling TARDIS was nominated for an Aurora and so was A Sign of Faust. The Travelling TARDIS is eligible again, as are a few other of our products. So go make yourself an account here and nominate your favourite works!

What do we have that’s eligible

Aurora Awards

aurora

The Aurora Awards are awards, “for excellence in Science Fiction and Fantasy works and activities.” They are administered by the Canadian Science Fiction and Fantasy Association.

It’s a fan voted award in the vein of the Hugo’s, but with way more awesome people.

You’ll have to join the CSFFA for a pittance of $10 before you can nominate anyone. Once you’ve paid, you can nominate 5 works in each category. You can nominate works from now until May 26th.

The extra bonus of joining the CSFFA is you’ll get a voters package that includes most of the works that make the ballot. That’s 8-10 novels plus a bunch of other awesome stuff.


Good Nominating and thank you in advance!

Éric

National Treasure – WMR

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Hello Cinephiles,

Today we’re talking about the 2004 movie National Treasure.

Story

Take the feel of Indiana Jones, the brilliant yet socially awkward Sherlock, twist it with a dash of Ocean’s 11, and spray it down with American history. That’s what this movie tries to do.

The clues are interesting but impossible for the audience to guess in advance, the history is flimsy at best and the plot is only a reason to go from one set piece to another. They should have made the entire movie about the heist, that part was fun and interesting.

Score: 0

Characters

Nicolas Cage is doing a bad impression of a jerk intellectual. The girl occasionally remembers that she’s supposed to be intelligent even if she forgets to have any agency. Their romance is awkward and kinda uncomfortable to watch between the rudeness and the complete lack of consent.

The quippy sidekick is enjoyable and Sean Bean does a great job playing an intelligent villain.

Score: 0.5

Dialogue

The dialogue is forgettable and heavy with history lessons that aren’t believable even if they are real. It doesn’t make me want to go find out more like the Doctor Who historical episodes always do.

Score: 0

Visuals and Music

There are some beautiful scenes and the music is just memorable enough to remember. Both could have been much better but were acceptable. The framing was a little obvious and the music was a little too much on the nose for my taste.

Score: 0.5

Fun

I loved this movie when it came out. It has not aged well for me. It’s okay if you turn off your brain but there are some things in it that make my mystery/puzzle solving mind very angry. Masons specialized in stone… why did they build their treasure trove entrance in wood? Time of day for a shadow is meaningless without time of the year.

The heist was fun and there were a few moments I enjoyed but mostly I wished I was watching a better movie or one that didn’t take itself so seriously.

Score: 0.5

Overall

This movies isn’t terrible but it’s not good. I’m going to happily not watch it again unless I have to. If you want to watch something in the genre watch an Ocean’s movie, Indiana Jones, The Librarian, or maybe a Bond film.

Final Score: 1.5 Stars

Long Haul

Hello My Imaginary Friends,

Trump said something about having everything open by Easter. Even before that, people were talking about returning to normal.

I heard about the Virus in the end of January while on vacation at Disney. I’m ashamed to say that I thought people were overreacting. Then I got sick.

Baby Pegasus got something at the end of our trip to Florida and then sneezed into my mouth. Yum. I’m not sure if it was the virus or another Covid that’s flying around there, but it matched all the symptoms. Who knows. Either way, it was the worst sickness I’ve had outside of severe food poisoning.

By the end of February, I was starting to get worried. By the time the lockdowns started, I realized this was going to be a while.

Every week, news sources are talking about when things will go back to normal. People who saw the horrifying inequality in our society want us to do better then normal.

I’m convinced this will be a long haul. This will become our normal for a while. I’m hoping that by Christmas we will have a viable cure or vaccine. But I don’t expect the threat to go away until the end of 2020.

Now just because the Virus is still around, doesn’t mean that those who have their own best interest in mind aren’t going to push to reopen society. We will see those that believe humans are a commodity pushing for a return to capitalist normal.

We will see things normalized that should horrify us before this is over. Governments will push too far, corporations will push eugenics, or immunity cards, and worst, our friends and neighbours will start to believe the arguments.

My greatest fear is going to be having to choose between the health of my family, friends, and myself, over having to go back to work. I’m really hoping it doesn’t come to that.

Now let me be positive. At least in the short term this will mean a greater respect for those that are working hard everyday. Those that work at grocery stores, hospitals, restaurants, sanitation, and all the other essentials services.

In the long run, I expect better respect for the importance of health care and minimum wage. The need to make internet an essential and affordable service and the need for being prepared for this in the future. I also really hope we see the quick death of the anti-vaccine movement.

 Uncertain future. Illustration: Chris Riddell

We have lived through 3 major viral pandemics in the past twenty years (5 if you count Ebola and HIV); this is going to happen again. If we’re lucky, it’ll be a strain of something we have a vaccine for and can adapt fast but I predict this isn’t the last major shutdown of our times.

In these darker times, it’s important for us to remember three things:

  1. All life has value; no one should be defined by the amount of money they can make for others.
  2. Don’t give in to hate.
  3. Life will change after this and it’s up to us to make sure it’s for the better.

Stay home, wash your hands, and be kind to one another.

Éric

Why no extra content on JenEric Designs?

Hello my Imaginary Friends,

Some of my favourite creators are doing extra stories, readings, podcasts, and all kinds of awesome stuff. S. M. Carrière is doing live streams of her guitar playing (seriously cool). She’s also reading her works over on youtube.

Seeing as I tend to express my emotions and work thoughts through my writing, you’d expect that I’d be doing something extra… or possible “extra” as the kids say.

Fortunately for me and my little family, I’m an essential worker (from home) with the federal government. That means I’m pretty much working 8:30 to 4:30. Trying to do work with a baby and a child isn’t always easy, but it is doable. Some of the reports and documents I work on are legislated and must come out even this tiny-pocalypse. That means I’ve actually done overtime this week.

Unfortunately for you, that doesn’t give me much time to create or write. Honestly, I’m struggling to get everything I’m doing done, but I’ll get used to it and production will go up. But there won’t be extra awesome content.

However, there are plenty of amazing people doing great things. Those small businesses and creators that are doing these things need your support. Help them out by buying stuff, becoming a patron, buying them a coffee, or donating to their art. They need the money and more than that, it’ll let them know that someone cares enough about their products and art to give them money for it.

Stay home, wash your hands, and support artists;

Éric