Guitar Lessons Part 11

Sep 1: A surprise

My lesson today was half instructional and half a new song.

The instructional was all about down and up picking (single strings). The guy said to rest my wrist on the board at the end of the strings so that I would know where my pick was.

Ok, so first off, that pushes my arm too far back, so it hurts my back. I was in pain within a minute.

Secondly, I don’t have a traditional board because my strings are attached to pegs. So if I rest on it, it mutes my strings.

Also, I have no idea which string I’m on when I use a pick! I got so lost!

The new song was Scarborough Fair. I managed the first note and then got completely lost because it was so fast. So I dropped into practice mode and lowered the speed to 50% and even then, I only got the right notes about 50-75% of the time. Suffice it to say, I did not speed up today and I finished the lesson very frustrated.

I played my song next, my daughter singing along. I decided to attempt recording. There’s a special guest who sang along with me.

Please pardon the roughness of it. I’m not used to singing with someone else. Also, I’ve only been playing for two months, so please be gentle.

Context of the song: a boy (14yo) has realized he’s gay and he’s telling his friend (15yo) that he likes him as more than a friend. Their story is written in my book “Crushing It” that will be submitted to my publisher in October.

After recording, I played a bunch of songs and they all went fairly well. I’m pleased with my progress. I can switch between chords much faster than I used to and my fingers don’t hurt.

Sep 2: Slow and steady

I think I was holding my picking wrist too tense because I was trying to get the song.

I managed to get the 50% and then I sped up to 70%, which wasn’t too bad. So I sped up to 80%. I made a lot of mistakes, but I felt like I was making progress.

And then I noticed my wrist was hurting.

So I practiced my chords and my song and left my practice session at that.

My wrist has already stopped hurting. I think I was smart to stop when I did.

Sep 3: Nursery rhymes

I played my lesson (Scarborough Fair) at 75% and then at 80% (with several errors) and then because I wanted to see what would happen, I tried to perform it (for scoring in the app).

I passed.


I’m shocked too.

I didn’t play the full time because I decided I should look up Frère Jacques so I could teach our daughter the words. We realized yesterday that she didn’t know any French songs, other than the months of the year. She enjoyed learning it. I’ll be adding it to my regular practice time to give her practice.

Then I played my song.

For some reason, I’m not playing the A chord properly today. 🤷‍♀️

I decided I should probably stop playing today because my fingers and back were hurting.

Hopefully tomorrow I’ll be back to normal.

Sep 4: Strumming!

My app lesson was tough today. I replayed Scarborough Fair with pretty decent success. I was happy to move on. Next lesson was Greensleeves. Omg. So fast! I’m going to have to slow it down considerably tomorrow.

Then I played my song. I added some extra strumming to it to change it up a bit. Omg! I absolutely adore how it sounds on the chorus! I desperately need to work on the rhythm of entire second verse and on the Fmaj7 in the chorus, but it’s really coming together. I’m ridiculously excited about it.

After that, I played a variety of songs by request from my daughter and then we worked on Frère Jacques. She’s enjoying it.

I love it when my fingers don’t hurt even after a long playing session.

Sep 5: Greensleeves

It’s a REALLY good thing that I like Greensleeves as a song, because I have a feeling I’m going to be stuck on it for a while. Today I slowed it down to 50%, and I still wasn’t able to get all of it. I sped it up to 60% and then 70% and was able to complete just as much as on 50%, so I was pretty happy about that.

After my lesson, I practiced my song a bunch, focussing on the new rhythms. It’s HARD to play one rhythm and sing a melody! I’m really happy with how the chorus is coming along. The verse still needs a lot of work. I might try recording it tomorrow. I’ll see how it goes. Even if it’s only for me. I find it’s easier to hear where the issues are if I’m listening to it rather than playing it.

I practiced Frere Jacques. It’s coming a lot faster now and I don’t need the music.

My fingers are a little sore today. I think I was pressing too hard while practicing my song.

Holiday COFFEE Calendar 2021

Hello Coffee Lovers!

We are doing the Holiday Calendars again this year. YAY!

They are whole bean, fresh roasted coffee which is a custom blend of Peruvian, Mexican, Guatemalan, and Sumatran beans.

Here are the options for this year:

  • 24 Bags at 1oz each ($50)
  • 12 Bags at 2oz each ($50)
  • 24 Bags at 2oz each ($100)

This is a pre-order for our Holiday Calendars. All bags will include fresh roasted whole bean coffee from a variety of locations.

Flavours will be picked from our current selection and a few experimental flavours.

Deadline to order second wave November 5th – Orders will ship mid-November.

Each Holiday calendar will come packaged with a surprise.

*ALLERGY* If you have allergies please mention them in your order.

Pre-orders are open now

Thank you!


Here We Go Again

Hello Readers,

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

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

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

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

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

Well as they say, I should be writing.

Stay safe and be kind,


Free Guy – JenEric Movie Review

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Hello Cinephiles,

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


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

Score: 1


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

Score: 1


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

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

Score: 1

Visuals and Music

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

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

Score: 1


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

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

Score: 1


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

I highly recommend this one.

Final Score: 5 stars out of 5*

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

Guitar Lessons Part 10

Aug 26: Low key

Not a pun.

I didn’t do any lessons today. My fingers were still stinging a little from yesterday.

So I practiced chords and riffs for a bit.

And then I played my song 3-4 times. The chord changes are getting more natural. I’m really excited about this song.

Aug 27: Quick

I didn’t have much time to play guitar today. I practiced my chords and riffs and the finger stretching thing that my music mentor told me to do. Wow, it stretches.

In other words, no lesson today.

I played my song 3 times. I feel like I’m getting more consistent, which is nice. I still play more than the bottom 4 strings on Fmaj7 sometimes, which isn’t great. I need to work on that.

I’m hoping to play some ukulele this afternoon.

Aug 28: Riffs!?!

I did a lesson today. Apparently the first riffs lesson was made to induce a false sense of security. The second lesson was complicated. I had to slow it down, but I was able to get it before the end of the lesson.

But the third?? They changed how they showed the riffs (instead of a bar over two strings, they highlighted the individual strings with numbers for the fret) and it was so sped up that I had to slow it down to 50%, and even then I wasn’t getting it every time.

I think this lesson is going to take me a couple days to pass.

I played my song a bunch of times. I need to stop playing it on the ukulele because I don’t use a fret on it and the tone is different. And then my voice takes a while to remember what sound it’s supposed to make.

I worked on the Fmaj7 a lot. I also focussed on playing the chords at the time I’m supposed to and not a couple beats later.

When my son woke me up for his 3am feeding, I came up with a few lines for a new song! I remembered them long enough to write them down. Not sure where they’ll go in the song because I haven’t started it yet, but I like them so far.

Aug 29: Ouch

I passed the riffs lesson after much practice. I didn’t get it quite as high as I would like (only got 2 stars on the second half, but I got them consistently, so I was ready to move on) but I don’t expect to need riffs all that often. I haven’t come across them in any of the music I’ve seen. And if it does show up in a song, at least I know what they are.

I played my song. A lot. I’m feeling much more satisfied with my Fmaj7 chords (not strumming the top two strings), and I’m trying to add nuance to the lyrics and how I sing it.

Although I think I should perhaps focus on the difference between “wanna” and “want to,” which are both in the song.

Why is this titled ouch?

So I have a chronic back injury. My lumbar spine is being pulled in the wrong direction by my back muscles. It causes a lot of problems and limits me a lot, especially where it comes to my children (picking them up is next to impossible). Apparently guitar playing is another one of those things that affects my back. If I play for more than twenty minutes or so, my back is in an awfully lot of pain.

I’m going to try sitting somewhere else. Maybe a chair isn’t the best place for me? Maybe my phone with the app isn’t high enough so I’m crouching to see it?

I’ll figure it out.

P.S. Two months of practice!

Aug 30: I need a timer

My lessons were both theory and practical today. I (re)learned about sharps and flats and the difference between major and minor chords. Then for the practical, I attempted a minor scale.

I say ‘attempted’ because it did not go well. It was very quick and I’m not used to playing notes instead of chords.

Before all this, I played one last riff song. It took half my time, but I was able to get it. It was fun.

Then I played my song a bunch of times. I even played along with my recording, which means I was able to keep up with the speed I prefer for singing, which is excellent.

I recorded myself on an app I have. I’m pretty happy with it, tbh. I could still use work to make it a little more seamless, but that’s where practice comes in.

Then I played a bunch of other songs.

I played for over an hour.

I need to start setting a timer so that I don’t play so long. My fingers don’t hurt at all!

Aug 31: Passed level 3!

I passed the lesson I was working on yesterday. I had to slow it down drastically in order to get it, but once my fingers got used to it, it wasn’t too difficult. I did the same thing for the next lesson, and then I was done level 3!

Level 4 started with beats. I passed the first lesson with very little trouble (I got mixed up at one point but I found myself again).

I played my song a bunch of times.

I decided to try putting my phone on the bookcase, to see if that helps my back. I still bunch, so perhaps a higher shelf will work? I’ll try that tomorrow. I feel kinda weird facing the bookcase, but whatever works, right?

Books, Beards, and way too much face

Hello My Imaginary Friends,

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

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

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

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

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

Thank you!!!

Be kind and stay safe,


The Three Musketeers – JenEric Movie Review

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Hello Cinephiles,

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


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

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

Score: 0.5


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

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

Score: 0.5


The dialogue vassalates wildly from pure cheese to genius.

Score: 0.5

Visuals and Music

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

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

Score: 1


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

Score: 1


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

Overall, it’s a lot of fun.

Final Score: 3.5 stars out of 5