Bad Writing

Hello My Imaginary Friends,

What is bad writing? I bet you can think of multiple examples right off the bat right?

In Star Wars Attack of the Clones, Anakin says, “I don’t like sand. It’s coarse and rough and irritating and it gets everywhere. Not like here. Here everything is soft and smooth “

What if I told you this wasn’t terrible writing but realistic awkward, cult raised, teen flirting? Would you disagree?

So what’s the line? Where’s the litmus test? Why am I using so many question marks? Seriously, this is getting irritating, like sand?

Okay, silliness aside, most people have no idea what bad writing is and love to use it as an argument.

“I don’t hate women, but Doctor Who’s writing just sucks this season.”

“I’m not racist, but Star Wars The Force Awakens is badly written.”

What these people mean is that the show isn’t the way they remember and that makes them unhappy.

It’s not actually about the writing.

There are four main types of bad writing and that’s how I judge a book or show’s writing:

1. Mechanics

Typos, sentence structure, and grammar are important. If they’re off for no reason, that’s bad writing.

Eg: Th woman starred up at his face, wondering what that beard hide.

2. Repetition

I struggle with this in my writing. Repeating things can be useful, but makes it feel like you’re over explaining or condescending to the audience

Eg: She looked into his eyes, wondering what secrets hid behind those eyes. The eyes were dark blue and seemed to see right through her. She’d describe the eyes as piercing.

3. Boobing / Privilege

When you write about something you’re not familiar with but don’t realize, you end up, at best, sounding like a male author poorly writing a woman, or at worst, tone deaf and racist.

Eg: She boobily boobed down the stairs with her boobs boobing. BOOBS

Eg: Her exotic light-chocolate skin marked her as one of the less educated mexican delegation. She’d probably never been to such an advanced city. He was certain she’d appreciate the taco truck outside the conference centre.

4. Inconsistent Story

Contradictions, temporal weirdness, odd twists, or ridiculous luck can all throw an audience out of a work. In tiny doses, it’s not too bad, but too much or too blatant and it’s just bad writing. (Shakespeare was terrible with time.)


People will talk to you about pacing, clichés, contrivances, too much or too little dialogue, starting too early or too late, etc. etc. etc.

It’s all bullshit. What they’re actually saying is they don’t like something about the work and instead of facing that, they’d rather just make a vague useless statement.

Unfortunately, it’s also really hard to argue with such a statement.

Did I miss anything? Do you disagree?

Later days,

Éric

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The Reluctant Barbarian – Recommendation Thursday

Hello My Imaginary Friends,

Do you enjoy fun? Humour? Fantasy? Well then I have a book for you. It was my favourite book read in 2018.

The Reluctant Barbarian

Arthur Jenkins would have been happy to live his life the way it was until he finally died, but the angel in his office has different ideas. He’s there to grant a wish Arthur made as a kid, and it’s a doozy. It’s also a wish he doesn’t want in the slightest. After all, what grown man would want to be a barbarian hero? Seriously! Whether he wants it or not, Arthur is getting that wish granted. Angels have quotas too, you know. Join Arthur, Dead Mike and Valeria the Paladin on a quest across the land, having unwanted adventures while looking for a comfy place to sit.

John Haas has a fantastic imagination, great sense of humour, and wonderful understanding of narrative flow. He’s also recently won a spot in Writers of the Future.

His followup novel to The Reluctant Barbarian is due to be released this year from Renaissance Press.

Go read the book!

Éric

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Beer Battered Fish Recipe

Hello My Imaginary Friends,

This recipe is inspired by Alton Brown but I made some modifications in the proportions and spices.

I recommend 1855 Kichesippi Beer it’s really smooth and goes well with the Rainbow Trout.

Beer Battered Fish

Extra Crispy and flavourful battered fish.

Course Main Course
Cuisine English
Keyword Battered, beer, Fish, fried, pub
Prep Time 20 minutes
Cook Time 10 minutes
Total Time 30 minutes

Ingredients

Batter

  • 3/4 Cup Flour
  • 1/2 TBSP Baking powder
  • 1 TSP Dill
  • 1 TSP Pepper
  • 1/2 Bottle Dark or Amber Beer

Other

  • 3 Medium Fillets Rainbow Trout
  • 2 Litres Oil (Vegetable or Canola)
  • 1/4 Cup Cornstarch

Instructions

  1. Combine batter ingredients and mix until there are no lumps.

  2. Place in fridge and rest of 10-15 minutes

  3. Heat oil to 375 degrees Fahrenheit (190 Celsius) in skillet, wok, or deep fryer

  4. Remove skin of fish and cut into 4-6 inch squares

  5. Dry fish on paper towels and dredge in cornstarch  

  6. Drop fish into bowl of batter and make sure it’s well covered. Using a fork to lift the fish, place it into the oil.

  7. Cook until batter has solidified a little and flip. Once everything is golden brown (2-4 minutes) take out and drain on paper towel.

Do you have a favourite fish recipe?

Éric

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Top 5 Unprofessional Habits When Dealing with a Freelancer or Small Business

Hello!

Being polite might seem like an inconvenience, but it goes a long way towards being seen as professional.

As an author, freelancer, or small business, you are your brand. How you treat others reflects on you, your service, or your product.

When you treat others rudely, you show a lack of respect and it can be quite hurtful. Some also hold grudges.

This image of a person with a trashcan for a head made me laugh. Artist Jono Doiron http://www.jonodoiron.com/

5. Talking Trash

This should be the most obvious. If you didn’t like the service or product you should let the person know first.

I’m obviously not against airing my disappointment with a brand online or in person, but there’s a difference between not being happy and being treated badly.

Not being happy with something you paid for is unfortunate but something that needs to be negotiated with the provider first.

4. Negative Negotiation

I have been told, “Your stuff is good for someone who doesn’t do it professionally” as a lead up to asking me to lower my prices. I let the client know that after twenty years of experience in being paid to do layout, I’d consider myself a professional. (Yes, my first paid projects were when I was 15-16.)

It’s a common technique to compare products or say things like, “My cousin could do this for free” or “I can do it myself” in order to try and get a discount.

Stop doing it. If you want a professional then they will cost.

That being said there are plenty of other ways to negotiate. For example, if I do more than one job for a product I’ll give a discount. (Eg. Ebook =150; Print = 150; but Print + Ebook is 250)

3. Being Antagonistic

Things happen during a project. Things could not be clear and something isn’t what you wanted. Talk to the person and work it through. Don’t be snarky, most likely they didn’t do it on purpose. A type or misalignment or wrong flavour, etc… Just talk to them and they’ll fix it.

2. Not saying Thank You

There’s no need to send a gift basket or anything grand. Just a small email saying thank you for your work. That’s classy and makes everyone happy.

1. Ghosting

In the past I’ve worked on a project for a client, then they asked me to clear time or give a quote for further related projects. I waited and never heard back from them. Then I saw on social media that they’d gone with someone else.

I don’t care that they went with someone else, but it would have been nice for them to let me know. I could have supplied the source files for the first project and I would have wished them luck. Since they switched after the first in a series of projects, without telling me, it shows a great lack of professional respect.

If you ask for a quote and decide to go in another direction, let the person know. Or let them know you’re asking others for quotes in the first email.

Any of these things can be rude, thoughtless, or just annoying. They are all unprofessional and in some cases will make a Freelancer or Small Business not work with you in the future.


Is there anything I missed? What do you think?

Éric

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Seren Plentyn and the Secret of Hokulua Station – Chapter 1


Chapter 1 | Chapter 2


Chapter 1: All kinds of leaks

The stars were in different places, they always were, but with a little concentration Seren could map out their location. The universe was impossibly large, but her and her people had spent time untold sailing the stars.

Hokulua was a generational exploration and protection space station. Most GEPS were crawling with scientists, soldiers, and their children. Hokulua was quiet but it wouldn’t be for very long. There were a ten million souls on their way to the station and it would be the flagship of the Starchild Family.

“State-of-the-art my ass!” shouted Mr. Plentyn as he paced around the living quarters, angrily tapping at his tablet. “More like experimental and unstable!”

“Did Hoku refuse to give you your coffee again?” Seren’s large smile lit up her face making her skin seem to glow. Her bright green eyes were questioning as well as teasing.

“No, Hokulua Station didn’t refuse to give me coffee… more than once. It’s this blasted power drain. I can’t seem to stop it. The station is using twice as much power as it should and every time I patch a hole a new one opens up.”

“Have you asked Hoku?”

“Dear child. Why would I bother asking a glorified entertainment AI something I know it can’t answer?”

“So you asked and it gave you one of those weird phrases again?”

It was Aern’s turn to smile at his daughter, he shared her dark brown skin and reddish hair but he had light amber eyes. “Yes it said, ‘Plasma Beasts are at the gates’; whatever that means.”

“Wish I could help,” she said and meant it.

Walking over to the wall and the food dispenser, she asked, “Hoku, can I have some orange juice and a breakfast number four please.”

The soft deep voice of the station’s AI replied, “That will take forty percent of your daily recommended rations food intake. Are you sure you want to proceed?”

“I’m doing a space-walk today and will need the extra energy. Please proceed.”

The food appeared in the food slot and she could have sworn she heard Hoku say, “Good luck.”

She ate in silence, watching the stars. It was the way she ate most mornings. Her father was up and fed hours before her and she liked the quiet.

“I’m here to make sure you don’t miss your first shift,” Jan stood at the door in their uniform. Their blonde, almost white, hair and nearly translucent skin glowed slightly in the dim light of the living quarters.

Seren made a rude noise and drank the last of her juice.

“Jan you know that you don’t need to wear your uniform right?”

“Just because the rest of the military isn’t here doesn’t mean I can slack off. Might as well get used to it.” Jan was officially known as Private Jan Ng, they’d graduated and passed military training a week ago. Seren hadn’t applied for the military but instead tested and passed the tests for both the engineering corps and her real passion, the archeological civilian branch. She wanted to follow her passions but didn’t want to leave her father. He’d had too many people leave him already.

“Well I’m not wearing a uniform until I have to.” Instead, Seren wore a deep red button up shirt with a pair of snug kaki pants, with her comfy dark brown boots.

“I love you, Dad. I’m off to find out where our air is disappearing to.”

Barely looking up, he replied, “Love you too. Be careful.”

“Dad! I’m eighteen!”

“The vacuum of space doesn’t care how old you are.”

She kissed his cheek and headed out.

“So, Private, are you excited for everyone to show up?” Jan’s parents were part of the advance team with Seren’s father that were sent ahead to prepare stations or sent in to repair old stations.

“Mother-of-Stars, yes! This quiet is painful; I’m so glad I won’t have to do this again.”

They headed to the nearest transportation pod. A small train-like transportation controlled by the AI. It would seat twenty when the station was fully manned.

Each pod could move along one of the arms of the station. Like all Starchild Stations, Hokulua was built with a micro-star in the centre of four large rings. Each ring touches at least touches the other rings and has four bridges connecting to the micro-star engine and power station.

Each ring is given a designation, Alpha, Beta, Charlie, and Delta. Each quadrant of each disk is given a letter, A, B, C, and D. Finally each quadrant of each ring had a hundred floors. Each of the floors was roughly six hundred square metres.

“So we need to walk the entire alpha-ring today?” asked Jan.

“No just the top of A quadrant,” Seren said and then added, “That’s still four kilometres.” They had been hired to inspect the outside hull of the station and make sure that there were no air leaks. If there was an air leak, even a small one, it would glow a florescent orange when it hit the cold of space.

The transport pod stopped at the spaceport and they reported for duty. There were five of them that had been hired but only four had shown up.

“Just like Annie to be late or forget to come to work,” joked one of the others.

They were given their sections and assigned space suits. Seren went over to hers and something wasn’t quite right. The suit wasn’t hanging like the others, but was put together and leaning in the locker storage.

The visor was oddly tinted dark brown. She was about to disconnect it when Jan grabbed her hand. With a tremor in their voice, they said, “Your suit is leaking blood.”

Read Chapter 2


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

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Serial Story 2019 – Results

Hello My Imaginary Friends,

You voted and this year’s serial story will be an Adventure Mystery, written in the third person, with 2 regular human main characters in an original setting.

That turned out to be pretty vague and I decided a few things.

  1. I want to write a classic YA style mystery
  2. I want it to be on a space station
  3. The Welsh words for Star Child translates into the perfect name for a YA mystery.

So without further ado I give you the description of this year’s serial story:

Seren Plentyn and the Secret of Hokulua Station

Hokulua Station is the newest in generational exploration and protection space stations. Brand new and not quite working right.

Seren’s dad is the head or engineering for the new station and in charge of getting all the bugs worked out before the rest of the colonists arrive. That leaves her with plenty of time to explore. Something isn’t quite right though; weird noises, things going missing, and power drains that no one can explain.

Seren and her best friend Jan are going to do their best to figure out what is going on before someone gets hurt.

This should be an interesting and fun year.

Later Days,

Éric

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Last Day to Vote – Serial Story 2019

Hello My Imaginary Friends,

VOTE! You have until tonight at midnight. Get your opinion heard and your story told.

What should be the primary genre of the 2019 Serial Story?

  • Adventure (36%, 4 Votes)
  • Supernatural (27%, 3 Votes)
  • Fantasy (18%, 2 Votes)
  • Detective (9%, 1 Votes)
  • Science Fiction (9%, 1 Votes)

Total Voters: 11

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What should be the secondary genre of the 2019 Serial Story?

  • Mystery (55%, 6 Votes)
  • Comedy (18%, 2 Votes)
  • Urban (18%, 2 Votes)
  • Romance (9%, 1 Votes)

Total Voters: 11

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What should the point of view be?

  • Third Person (55%, 6 Votes)
  • First Person (45%, 5 Votes)

Total Voters: 11

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How many protagonists should there be?

  • 2 (73%, 8 Votes)
  • 3 (27%, 3 Votes)
  • 1 (0%, 0 Votes)

Total Voters: 11

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What should the main character(s) be?

  • Normal Human (64%, 7 Votes)
  • Personification of a Concept (Death, Liberty, etc) (18%, 2 Votes)
  • Special Human (Super Hero, Chosen One, Magic user, etc) (9%, 1 Votes)
  • Anthropomorphized Animal (Human looking fox) (9%, 1 Votes)
  • Non-Human (Alien, Elf, Dwarf, etc) (0%, 0 Votes)

Total Voters: 11

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What should the setting be?

  • Original Alien / Fantasy (36%, 4 Votes)
  • Alternate Modern (27%, 3 Votes)
  • Future (18%, 2 Votes)
  • Aether-verse (Elizabeth Novels) (9%, 1 Votes)
  • Past (9%, 1 Votes)
  • Everdome (0%, 0 Votes)

Total Voters: 11

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If you have any other comments or suggestions please feel free to let me know.

Éric

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Top 5 Reasons for my Burnout

Hello My Imaginary Friends,

It’s easy to sit back and say that my burnout was because I did too much and I need to stop doing so much. Unfortunately it’s not that easy. I’ve thought about it a lot and here are my top 5 reasons for my burnout.

From Teeturtle

5. Empathy

This sounds like a silly reason but a lot of people in my life have been having a hard time. It hurts me not to be able to help and I may get a little obsessive with worry.

It’s like my brain decides that if I worry for them it’ll help. It doesn’t. I need to see the signs and try to stop. I still care about those in my life and will try to help, but stressing out for them is useless and painful.

To a certain degree it also means trying to dissociate myself with what I read in the news.

4. Sleep

I don’t get enough sleep. On a good weeknight I’ll get 5 hours. That’s not even close to enough for me. I feel best when I’m getting 8. Unfortunately the good weeknights are rare and due to a bad mattress, bad dreams, and being sick; I was getting maybe 4 and in sections of 1 hour at a time.

I have a much better mattress now, and I’m trying to be healthy so hopefully I’ll be getting a solid 5 hours more often.

3. Personal Days

When I was a young warthog… I would take a day off to rest and recover if I didn’t feel well. Having severe allergies meant that happened more than I’d like. Since Dragon was born I’ve stopped doing that. The reason is a combination of work issues and trying to build up a surplus in case of emergencies.

Unfortunately those days worked really well. They allowed me to rest, de-stress, and recover.

2. Relaxing

I feel like I was once the king of relaxing. Spend 12 hours reading? Easy. Play hours of videogames? No problem! Zone out while sick and watch an entire days worth of CSI? Did it.

I once watched an entire season of Star Gate SG1 in 2 days.

Now I’ll find myself five minutes into doing something and think, “I should be doing something.” It’s really frustrating that I have to actively force myself to relax.

If I don’t, I end up with a cleaner house, baked goods, and a new hobby… Which is all good but not restful.

1. Inefficiency

Being tired and stressed often leads to just wanting a thing done. It means plowing through instead of trying to find a more efficient way.

That’s not good. This fall I found myself falling into that trap and instead of spending some time innovating, I spent it trying to finish everything.

Efficiency is my go-to word for 2019 (Aside: Screw you, Ford, for making me almost not use that word). The more efficient I work, the more rest and Weditor/Dragon/Pegasus snuggles I can get.

It also, unfortunately, means saying no to things that are not worth the effort even though they may be interesting.


Hopefully you can learn something from my mistakes.

Éric

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Éric’s 2019 Resolutions

Hello My Imaginary Friends,

It’s 2019 and I’m setting my goals for the year. I did really well with last year’s goals.

I’m toning it down a little for this year since I want to concentrate on baby Pegasus.

I make these resolutions to push myself and to do more. Even if I only accomplish half, that’s more than I would have without them. Let’s hope this year is fruitful.

Writing

1. Write a Monthly Serial Story

I like writing these, they don’t stress me and they’re a lot of fun. It forces me to think on my feet and learn not to plan too hard and let the story go where my weird brain sends it.

If you haven’t already voted for the 2019 Serial story, go do that now.

2. Write the Bookend Material for the Short Story Collection

I need to get this finished. It’s not a lot of writing, but once I’m done I can submit to my publisher and see if they’re interested.

3. Finish Paragenesis

I need to finish this book. It’s at halfway now and I really want to see how it ends.

4. Get to the 2/3 mark on Mystery of the Dancing Lights

Once Pargenesis is done, I’ll dive back into this one. It’s at 1/3 now and I finally know what’s going to happen next.

JenEric Designs and Coffee

5. Continue to ensure there’s content 5 days a week on JenEric Designs

We’ve been going for six years now with content every weekday on JenEric Designs and I’m very proud of that. Jen and I have worked hard not to miss a day. I’ll do my best to ensure we keep that streak going.

6. Test, Design, and Produce 2 new coffee flavours

I have one flavour already finalized for debut at Geek Market in March. The second will be tough to choose since I have 2-3 strong contenders.

Editing and Marketing

7. Edit and send Dinosaur Road Trip to a willing beta reader

I failed to finish this last year. I just need to work up the courage and get at it.

8. Submit Everdome for blurbs

I really want to get a blurb from authors I respect for Everdome. So I’ll do the research and write some letters to a good half dozen authors I respect and ask them to read my book and write a quick blurb about it. Most will say no and that’s okay but hopefully I’ll be surprised.

9. Playtest the higher levels of FADDS

There are still some mechanics that need testing and that’s what this year will be about. Building opponents, testing higher levels, and trying out superheroes.

10. Figure out how to market and sell CoasteRPG

I don’t think this is a good idea as it is. A character sheet as a coaster sounds awesome until you realize that it needs to be waterproof and reusable.

I’ll think of something. Hopefully.

Personal

11. Read 20 books

I succeeded at 30 last year, barely, and hopefully I’ll do 20 this year. I love reading and it’s important to me that I keep doing it.

I love reading and it’s something that makes me happy.

12. Don’t Burnout

Last year I overdid everything; work, coffee, and a lot of other personal things.

I need to calm down and scale back some things. I’ve taken some steps to make things easier. I also have to learn how to say no.

It killed my mental health and destroyed my writing productivity.

13. Be More Patient

Part of the burnout was a complete loss of patience. My wife and Dragon took the brunt of that and I need to be better. It’s not always easy on 5 hours sleep but I can/should do better.

14. Play Some Video games with Dragon

I wanted to try and play some simple games with Dragon this Christmas but time and health weren’t on our side. I’d like to play some this year though. Maybe Lego or Disney Infinity.

I hope that list is manageable.

What are your goals?

Éric

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2018 Movie Rankings

Hello My Imaginary Friends,

This was a great year for movies. There were more than I got the chance to see. There are quite a few monster or Dwayne Johnson movies I missed.

This is the first time that Disney or Pixar didn’t take my first spot and the fourth year since starting this list that an animated movie has gotten top.

This is the ranking of movies I saw in theatres (or rented) that were released in 2018. This doesn’t include Netflix originals, made for TV Movies, or straight to DVD releases.

These are ranked by how much I enjoyed them and not their quality as “Films”.

Absolutely Loved

  1. Spider-Man: Into the Spider-Verse (Absolutely fantastic)
  2. Black Panther
  3. A Quiet Place
  4. Ralph Breaks the Internet
  5. Incredibles 2
  6. Aquaman
  7. Crazy Rich Asians

It was good

  1. Mamma Mia! Here We Go Again
  2. Ocean’s 8
  3. Deadpool 2
  4. Ant-Man and the Wasp
  5. Avengers: Infinity War
  6. The Spy Who Dumped Me
  7. Solo: A Star Wars Story
  8. Christopher Robin
  9. Tomb Raider

Meh

  1. Hotel Transylvania 3: Summer Vacation
  2. Teen Titans Go! To the Movies

Yuck

  1. Bohemian Rhapsody

On first viewing I loved it but there were so many parts that were bi-phobic, gay-bashing, or just uncomfortable to think about. It also painted the rest of the band as perfectly angelic while Freddie was some sort of crazed drug fuelled horn dog.


2019 is shaping up to be the year of superheroes and animated movie sequels so I’m looking forward to seeing what happens.

What was your favourite movie from 2018?

Later Days,
Éric

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