Can-Con 2017

Hello My Imaginary Friends,

This weekend was Can-Con. If you’ve read this blog for any amount of time you’ll know that we’re big fans.

It’s a fantastic convention for two reasons. The first being how attentive and open the organizers are and the second because of everyone who participates.

I spent more time chatting in the dealer’s room than attending panels this year. There are a few panels I wish I had been able to attend, but was either too burnt out or doing something else.

Highlights from Can-Con 2017

Waiting to sign books. Picture from Lesley Donaldson‏

  • The Ottawa Writers community being awesome as usual
  • Listening to Steven Erikson being interview by Black Gate
  • My first signing session (didn’t sign anything but I was sitting next to S. M. Carrière, Steven Erikson, and Robert Sawyer, so I was in fantastic company.)
  • Watching S. M. Carrière geek out about Steven Erikson
  • The Renaissance reading that had a whole lot of people in it.
  • Getting to Pitch Everdome to Kim-Mei Kirtland
  • Having Kim-Mei Kirtland like my pitch for Everdome
  • The Asexuality panel which was so full I had to tuck myself into a corner. It was really interesting and illuminating.
  • The look of pure joy on an audience member when they learnt that Keladry (the Protector of the Small, not the Baby Dragon) was confirmed by Tamora Pierce to be Asexual.
  • Watching Keladry walking around smiling at everyone
  • Learning that Tanya Huff really likes our coffee
  • Meeting people that I’ve only ever interacted with online

Conclusion

Can-Con, for me, is about basking in the love this community has for genre writing and stories. I’m still a fledgling author and I never feel like anyone is judging. They are supportive, loving, and so kind.

 

Thank you to everyone who was there!

Éric

This Weekend is CAN-CON YAY!

JenEric Designs, JenEric Coffee, Blush, and Éric Desmarais will all be at CAN-CON: Conference on Canadian Content in Speculative Arts and Literature this weekend.

The dealer’s room is open to the public all three days.

Both Jen and Éric will be available Saturday and Sunday in the dealer’s room. (We will be at a wedding on Friday.)

Dealers Room Hours

Friday: 17:00-19:00

Saturday: 10:00-17:00

Sunday: 10:00-15:00

Éric Desmarais’s Schedule

Saturday 2:00-2:30: Signing in the Dealer’s Room

Saturday 21:00-22:00: Panel Spam Meet Salon D

Sunday 10:00-10:50: Renaissance Press Readings Salon B

 

See you there!

Éric

The Grocer’s Shop / Alimentation L’Epicier Inc. – WORST CUSTOMER SERVICE EVER

Dear Imaginary Friends,

We were approached by a company called The Grocer’s Shop / Alimentation L’Epicier Inc. They effectively deliver meat and dried goods to your house. They said they had local meats that were free from antibiotics and free range etc etc.

The Sales Guy

We thought it sounded like a good idea and decided to hear it out. We made an appointment and a salesguy showed up on time at our house.

I was a little uncomfortable with him to start with. Instead of selling us on his products, he assumed we were getting them and jumped straight into building us a plan.

The References

Next he asked for ten names of people, that he’d call a month after our first delivery, for 20 free steaks. Sounded great, so we gave him the names and he continued to build our package.

Near the end, he looked at the list and said, “You’re missing ten names. I need twenty names.” We told him no and he argued until finally he agreed to give us ten steaks for those names.

The Delivery Date

He then told us a day and time with a 4 hour window for when our meat would be delivered. We shook hands and went on our way.

The day came and we waited. Nothing arrived and no phone call about it.

Head Office

I called the Ottawa Office and found that they were just a message service with no one to answer the phone.

So I called head office. They told me it was terrible and they’d look into it and call me back in a half hour. Two hours later I called and they gave me someone else.

That person apologized and told me that they sales guys don’t have the right to schedule appointments. The date he gave me was the date someone was supposed to call and make the delivery appointment. I asked why I wasn’t called then and they said it was an approximate date.

I asked to cancel.

The Runaround

For the next four hours I called and called and waited on hold. People were at lunch, people were busy, etc. Until finally I got hold of the guy who could cancel. He spent a long time apologizing and saying that it was terrible. Then when I insisted they cancel, he put me on hold for 30 minutes.

The References 2

I made sure to ask them not to call my references. I was pissed with their service. He assured me that they wouldn’t call anyone.

Yesterday I heard from 2 separate people that they had received MULTIPLE calls from them.

Conclusion

If you can avoid this company, do so. They are shady and obviously liars.

If you receive a call from them because of us, I’m really sorry and tell them to F-Off.

I’ve filed a complaint with BBB and reviewed them on both Facebook and Google.

My Review

Terrible service.

Salesperson lied about delivery, lied about the amount of references needed, and then when I tried to cancel, the office gave me the runaround for an entire day. On top of all that, they’re still calling the references we gave despite saying they wouldn’t.

If they can lie about this, who knows about their food.

Later Days,

Éric

Recommendation Thursday – Carmilla Web Series

Hello My Imaginary Friends,

I recently became obsessed with a web series. Has that ever happened to you?

The Series is based off an old novel called Carmilla by Sheridan Le Fanu published in 1872 and apparently one of the inspirations for the original novel Dracula.

The first season is everything I love about college fantasy stories. It has excitement, humour, romance, and kissing. (Yes this is a kissing show.)

The show has a total of 3 main seasons  (I recommend you also watch season 0 after you watch season 2.) and is coming out with a movie October 26 (If you’re in Canada check Cineplex for showtimes).

The show does a lot of things amazingly including romantic tension, representation, and humour. It melds the feel of Lovecraft, Supernatural, The Lizzy Bennet Diaries, and Only Human.

It’s Halloween month and this is a great vampire romance. What are you waiting for?

 

Later Days,

Éric

 

 

Mortality and Immortality

Hello My Imaginary Friends,

As you age, you start to notice patterns around what happens to your friends who are around the same age. You’ll notice everyone getting married, or having kids, etc.

Unfortunately, I’ve reached the age where people are dying or having close calls. Earlier this year a friend died of a heart attack and it was sad. He was a good man with an amazing mind and even though I didn’t see him much the world feels lessened by his loss.

I’ve had friends die before, but now we’ve transitioned from the deaths being horrifying and unthinkable to sad and unexpected.

Since his death, I’ve had several friends hospitalized for heart or other life threatening conditions and it scares me. I don’t want to lose my friends and I really don’t want to die.

In an early episode of the new Doctor Who, Charles Dickens asks, “But you have such knowledge of future times. I don’t wish to impose on you, but I must ask you… My books, Doctor. Do they last?”

I like to joke that I plan to live forever; it’s only partially a joke. I know I will live through my daughter and I hope I will live through my work. I have two novels published now, three others written, and two others in the works; I have almost ten years of blogs written and almost enough short stories to fill a book. (If you’d like to help me create more, please buy, borrow, or request my books and review them on amazon and goodreads.)

I have a lot more work left to do and SO MANY more stories to tell. (No, seriously, I have a list of 20+ novels I want to write.) I hope to be around for a long time.

 

Take care of yourselves,

Éric

Come see us at CAPCON 2017

This Saturday from 9am to 4pm, JenEric Coffee and Crochet will be at the Canadian War Museum in the dealers room of CAPCON.

CAPCON is Canada’s premiere scale plastic model contest and run by the wonderful IPMS Ottawa. This is a fun event to go and check out, and bonus you can go to the museum at the same time.

We hope to see you there!

Love in Lost Places – Proof-of-Concept

People told me that weird things happen in Baker City, Ontario, but I never really believed them until my second year at Baker City University.

“Just text her already,” Simon said, pushing the scrap of paper towards me over our hand me down IKEA dining room table. He tilted his head and smirked mischievously before passing his hands through his short cropped reddish brown hair. His dark skin was speckled with the most adorable freckles that mirrored the colour of his eyes.

“That’s impersonal. Shouldn’t I call?” I was stalling and we both knew it; nobody just called.

“Dude? Seriously. I go through all this trouble to get you the number of the only girl you’ve had a crush on since first semester and you won’t text her?”

He wasn’t wrong. She was in most of my classes and was one of those people who attracted the eye. She wore lots of colour, especially in her hair, and everything she did or said was the most important thing imaginable.

He also wasn’t right. She wasn’t the only crush I’ve had, but I don’t think he’d figured out that I liked him.

Taking my phone, he typed in the number and sent a text. “Hi Zoey”

We both sat staring at my phone waiting for a reply. It came faster than I expected. “I DON’T HAVE ANY FERRETS!”

Simon and I looked at each other confused and I picked up the phone to say, “It’s Harry… We have Can-Lit together.” I pressed send and then quickly added, “Just wanted to say hi… and I think I’m allergic to ferrets.”

“Oh Harry… Blond guy who wears a lot of plaid?”

“That’s me”

“Sorry about that. Someone keeps texting me about ferrets. It’s bloody annoying.”

I wasn’t sure what to say to that. My first instinct was to apologize for bothering her. While I hesitated, Simon grabbed my phone and wrote, “I was wondering if you’d like to go out for coffee sometime?”

“Sure, Meet at Café Nation on Bank at 4?”

“Great. See you there.” I shoved my phone into the pocket of my jeans to avoid Simon adding anything.

It was already three fifteen so after a high five from Simon I rushed to take a shower. As I got out of the shower I put on a fresh pair of jeans and my favourite red and gray plaid shirt. I ran out of the apartment convinced I’d be late.

I was a block away from Café Nation when I realized I’d left my phone in my other pants. I walked into the Café and saw the big coffee bean shaped clock read five to four. I wasn’t late, I was actually early. I took a few deep breaths to calm myself. The smell combination of chocolate cake and brewing coffee helped soothe me a little and I sat down to wait.

Five minutes after four she came in, her hair was fuchsia this week, and walked right by me. She was wearing a dark blue skirt with constellations on it and a white sweater. I stood up and walked behind her and said, “Hey Zoey. Can I buy you a coffee?”

Looking back at me startled, her brow furrowed, she opened her mouth to say something and paused. Finally her posture relaxed and she smiled. “Harry right? Sorry, I didn’t recognize you right away. I’ve been just so frazzled by this ferret thing. I’m so glad Simon gave you my number.”

We spent the next half hour chatting and having a great time. Around fifteen to five Zoey looked at her phone and said, “I have to call my mom. Something’s going on.” She stood up and walked to the front of the café. I took the opportunity to go to the washroom.

As I came out of the washroom Zoey was nowhere to be seen. I chatted with the barista as I waited. When she finally came back she’d tied her pink hair into a pony tail and changed her sweater.

“How’s your mom?” I asked.

“She’s okay. She just needed to talk it out. Sorry about flaking out on you. How about we go to dinner? I’ve had enough coffee today.”

That night when I finally got back to my phone I had an email from Zoey saying, “I had a nice time. Sorry I disappeared but my mom needed my help urgently. We should do this again sometime. Next time’s my treat.”

I also had a text from her earlier that day saying, “My mom’s freaking out be there soon.”

This all seems perfectly normal right? Boy crushes on roommate, oblivious roommate hooks boy up with girl; a typical twenty something romantic comedy.

Well, here’s where it get’s weird…

Simon typed in the wrong number, putting a one instead of a seven at the end. What are the chances of two women, going to the same university, were both called Zoey with a penchant for bright colours? I don’t know, but this is how I accidentally dated two women who had never met and were almost identical.

History, Hero Worship, and Being Problematic

Hello My Imaginary Friends,

There has been a lot of talk about taking down monuments and changing names. Mostly this is due to things the people have done that are horrifying.

Removing the name or monuments to these people has been likened to sanitizing our history or hiding the horrors of our past.

The whole debate is complicated by the fact that most of these people have also done good things. So do we let one mistake destroy the legacy of a great historical figure?

Vintage still life. Vintage compass lies on an ancient world map in 1565.

History is a very human practice. It’s not a science and relies on what people wrote down and what they chose to leave out. Walt Disney smoked like a chimney but you’d never know from his pictures at the parks or the official videos. It’s possible that future generations will never know.

To get an idea how much we can confuse and conflate history have a look at this video.

Columbus was a genocidal idiot, yet I bet most people didn’t know that.

History is messy and the moment you start worshiping someone you start ignoring the bad they did. Very few historical figures are perfect and it’s important to remember. If we ignore the bad that historical figures did, we risk repeating it.

We also have to not go too far the other way and forget the good that they have done (not Columbus, he’s horrible). It’s a common practice now to demonize people for things they’ve done or said in their past. It’s important to balance out what people did with how they tried to make amends and how they grew. Just because someone was a dick doesn’t mean they didn’t change.

My Opinion

Having a statue in a public space, having your name on a street or building is an honour. If the historical figure has done something horrible (Genocide, mass murder, slavery, etc) move their statue to a museum with the proper, balanced, historical information. Or take their name off and replace it with something more innocent or someone more worthy. Leave a plaque explaining the old name and why it was changed.

 

Later days,

Éric

Happy First Birthday Dragon

Dear Baby Dragon,

It’s been a year since you were born. It was a time of change, learning, crying, and general confusion… but enough about me.

The first few months, we were worried that if we mixed you in with other babies we wouldn’t be able to tell you apart. It was a great relief when we found the freckle on your left hand. Now you’re old enough to tell us from the other parents so we’re good.

It’s been a fantastic year with you. I was lucky enough to spend the first nine months of your life with you and I wish it had been longer. You grow and change every day, it’s wonderful and terrifying. Since I’ve gone back to work you’ve learnt how to walk, say, “Hi”, sort stuff, and climb up and down furniture.

If the stories your Grannie and Gramma have told us are true, you are right in the middle of your mom and I in terms of personality. Your mom was a ridiculously clever baby with a calm and happy temperament. I was an average baby with an exuberant and happy temperament. You are just as clever as your mom and just as exuberant as your Papa. You also have the stubborn streak that runs in both families and a temper that burns hot and quickly fades.

You already have a mischievous side. When you know you’re doing something you’re not supposed to, you look at the closest adult and smirk. You both want to do the thing and also get chased. I hope you grow out of that before your teen years.

Your Mum and Grannie are covered in bruise from your sharp little teeth. Teething hurts and you bite a lot. You’ve left your dental impression on, toys, furniture, family, walls, your crib, books, and clothing. I really hope you grow out of biting soon.

You frustrate me at times but more often you warm my heart. You’re warm, happy, talkative, excited, and just wonderful. I’d love to take credit but it’s all you.

You give the greatest hugs, they are filled with affection and I hope you never grow out of that.

It’s been quite the year and I’m so proud of you. I’m enjoying watching you grow and become you. It’s something that I will enjoy for the rest of my life.

I love you little Dragon,

Your Papa

Database of the Ageless Kings (Serial Story) Part 9

Part 1 | Part 2 | Part 3 | Part 3.5 | Part 4 | Part 5 | Part 6 | Part 7 | Part 8

Part 9: An Emu Proves Dangerous

“Did you change the administrative passwords on the ship?” Phil asked. Sophia couldn’t see him since he was sitting behind her in the fighter ship, but his voice sounded worried.

“Sorry. I had to do a fresh restart and that wiped the original codes.”

“Oh, thank the Gods.” She could hear him relaxing. “Dove knew all the codes and she can’t change them without knowing them. Connect to the ship and have it open the airlock.”

“I have a better idea.” Sophia sent a lockdown command to the ship and then had it open the airlock. It was barely big enough for the fighter ship and she squished some cleaning supplies. “I didn’t think I’d ever need this room so I used it as a closet.”

Between the tight quarters and the abundance of cleaning supplies, even with the sensors shut down, there was no way Dove could not have heard them.

Despite the certainty of discovery, they tried to be quiet as they exited the fighter ship, stripped off the suits, and moved towards the bridge.

The lights flickered on and off, in the way Sophia had only ever seen in horror movies.

Whispering, Phil asked, “Did you do something to the lights?”

Sophia shook her head as they entered the hub of the ship, the dining area. It connected to each part of the ship. It was disaster. There was food everywhere, her favourite cereal was scattered around, and there seemed to be thick green goo on the walls.

“Oh no!” Phil was white and he sat down on the nearest chair. Sophia cringed at the smooshing sound the chair made as he sat. He jumped up and looked at the seat, smelled it, and finally sat back down. “I just sat in milk…” He sounded relieved and just stared at the wall with the green goo. “I’m sorry.”

“Why are you sorry? Phil… What’s going on?” Sophia was worried. He’d reacted better to certain death by bomb, twice, than he was now. Whatever he was thinking it must be scary.

“Dove is dead.”

“How do you know?”

“The blood. It’s from a Crimbils.” He gestured at the goo, indicating it was blood.

“Dove is a Crimbils?” Sophia asked, confused.

“No. Yes.” He gave a big sigh. “The Crimbils are a shape shifting race that eat their victim’s brains and change into them. They know everything their victim did and can mimic them almost perfectly. On top of that, they can manipulate others into liking or lusting after them.”

The full meaning of what he said hit her, and all she could think of saying was, “Sorry.”

Taking a deep breath he stood up and said, “This means she’s probably an assassin. I guess this means we can kill her.” He sounded sad, but his brow was crinkled determinedly. He walked over to the wall and pressed a place that looked like everything else. A panel opened showing a gun and what looked like a fencing sword. Seeing her surprise, he said, “This ship and I were together for years before you. We still have a few secrets.” He tossed her the gun, “Point and click. The button on the side prevents accidental discharge; tap it once to set it to stun, twice to kill, and three times to disintegrate.”

They walked down the still creepily flickering corridors in silence. As they walked, they started hearing a loud rhythmic banging sound. It got louder as they got closer.

All kinds of things could have been making that noise and Sophia imagined all the more farfetched and scariest possibilities. The absolute last thing she expected was what they found.

With a dented metal mixing bowl on his head, Hagrid was ramming the door to the bridge. Every time he hit the door he’d jump back and run back at it.

“Hagrid. Please stop,” she pleaded. The sound of her voice made him stop, but instead of reacting like the lovable, if mischievous, Emu that she’d grown to tolerate… and love, he turned and ran towards her.

She tapped the button on the side of the gun once and barely managed to get a shot off before he hit her. A line of energy flew out of the gun and stopped him in his tracks. He didn’t fall, however, and started moving towards her again. It took three more shots before he gingerly curled up and went to sleep. Loud snoring and all.

It wasn’t until she was stepping over him that she saw the green blood on his wings.

They walked to the door and released the lock. Phil opened the door and went in first. It was a good thing; as he walked in an identical blade to his, glowing green, sliced down in front of the door. He blocked it as if it was nothing and turned to face the person on the other side of the door. Since he was still in the doorway, Sophia couldn’t see Dove.

“Who sent you?” he asked.

A soft chuckle answered him and Sophia watched as he defended himself against more attacks. She tried to squeeze around and fire but couldn’t get a good shot.

“Who sent you?” he repeated.

She was tempted to pull him out or push him in but was worried that he’d get hit. She didn’t know what the glowing, humming swords could do but she didn’t want to get him killed.

The chuckling stopped and a voice that sounded like Dove, but without any of the bounciness or false joy, said, “The Queen, your sister, sends her regards!” The statement was followed by a series of beeping sounds.

“Amazing,” Phil said, sounding both tired and annoyed. “Another bomb.”


If you’re enjoying this year’s serial story why not check out those from past years?