Parasomnia Cover Reveal and Pre-Order

Hello My Imaginary Friends,

A lot of work goes into a book cover, especially if the author has input and is picky. This cover took a lot of work from the wonderful Caro at Renaissance Press and I think it looks great.

parasomnia ebook cover

At the Aux-Anges Institute, nestled in the woods outside of North Bay, they study and treat parasomnias, or sleep disorders. Ashley suffers from night terrors, Terrance sleepwalks, Kiri sleep-eats, and Paul sets fires; they are there for treatment. Adelaide took the job as a counselor to discover why she still has an imaginary friend.

When they discover the secret hideout of an old club called the Dreamers, they are shocked to find that the five of them are connected through more than just the Institute.

You can Pre-Order the book from Renaissance Press’s Website. 

The book will hopefully have a few early copies ready for Montreal’s Queer Between the Covers.

What do you think of the cover?

Later days,

Éric

Give Me a Gift for my 34th Birthday… please

Hello My Imaginary Friends,

On Monday I’ll be turning 34. It’s not old for our modern world but it’s kinda terrifying for someone who has had both parents die before they reached sixty. I’m considering a midlife crisis… maybe buying a couple of DVD boxsets or some more books.

Since I’m turning 34, I’d like you all to give me a gift. Please!

This is my begging face...
This is my begging face…

I’d like you to review my book! If you haven’t read it you can get it on Amazon Canada, Renaissance Press, or even from the public Library.

Once you’ve read it please go review it on Goodreads and/or Amazon (You can even copy paste your review from one to the other)

Reviews on those sites help bring the profile of the book up and have both sites recommend it to others. It helps with sales, name recognition, and building a readership.

I’m not asking you to give it a good review, be honest and write what you feel.

authors-are-small-businesses

Thank you!

Éric

Blush Guest Post: A Gender Exploration

A Gender Exploration
by Jamieson Wolf

Lust and Lemonade can be purchased through Renaissance Press
Lust and Lemonade can be purchased through Renaissance Press

When I started to write Lust and Lemonade, I didn’t intend to write a book that dealt with gender.

Before writing Lust and Lemonade, I was primarily a romance and erotica writer. I delved into the lives of men and the ones that loved them, set in mythical worlds with otherworldly beings.  The men fought for each other with every fibre of their being, using their magic to save the day and save the man they loved.

When I started writing Lust and Lemonade, I only intended to write about what I knew. I knew gay men being one myself. But as I continued to write, other characters wanted to come onto the page, too. One of them was a woman named Poppy and she was pregnant. She was also a lesbian.

I didn’t know anything about pregnancy and what women went through with having a child. I relied on my beta reader for info on the female gender and about what is involved with having a lesbian relationship. I was in uncharted waters and Google would only take me so far. I had written women characters before, but the focus was always on the men and the relationships they were having. The women were only secondary and hadn’t taken centre stage. Lust and Lemonade was the first of my novels to feature strong women in lesbian relationships.

As I kept writing, I began to realise something. Two of my characters were transgender. One of them is a transgender woman and the other is a transgender man. If I had no concept of lesbian relationships, I had absolutely zero idea about the transgender population.

This uncharted territory was rather frightening for me as a writer, but it was also freeing in a way. I have never researched a novel before Lust and Lemonade. I delved into the lives of transgender people and what they went through to become who they always were, who they were meant to be.

I also wrote about straight characters finding love. It seemed right that if I was going to write about all kinds of other genders, that I included them too. The characters demanded it, really. It was only fair, they said, that if I was going to have gay, lesbian, and transgender characters in my novel, that the straight people get fair representation, too.

So, when I started writing Lust and Lemonade, I didn’t intend to write a book about gender. The book let me know where it wanted to go and the characters that peopled its pages. I also knew that, even though I’ve written many romances, that there would be no sex on the page. It would all take place off stage.

A friend of mine asked me how I could have lust in the title and not include sex scenes? It’s simple. The lust that is in the title is about the lust of getting to know someone, of becoming enraptured and enthralled with them. Much as I became enthralled with all the people in Lust and Lemonade.

I may not have set out to write about gender, but I’m so glad I did. I learned something about others that I didn’t know before, learned about their battles to be who they were and who they were meant to be. Writing Lust and Lemonade made me a better writer and, quite possibly, a better person.

Find  out what happens to Blaine, Nancy, Mike, Chuck, and company in Lust and Lemonade, available now from Renaissance Press! You can get your copy here:

https://renaissancebookpress.com/product/lust-and-lemonade/


Jamieson Wolf is an award winning, Number One Best Selling Author. He is a poet, a blogger and, above all, a story teller.

He currently lives in Ottawa, Ontario, Canada with his cat, Tula, who is fearless, and his husband Michael, who is magic.

You can find Jamieson at home at www.jamiesonwolf.com

You can also read his blog at www.jamiesonwolfauthor.wordpress.com

 

Fandom Guest Post: UK Road Trip Part 2

Jasmine Murray-Bergquist is a costume designer, bookworm, amateur archer and all-around geek. Her body lives in Ottawa while her mind is consistently elsewhere. Her website can be found here, and you can follow her on Twitter!


Read Part 1 here!

April 21st, 2016. The 200th birthday of one of Haworth’s most famous residents. The eldest of her siblings who survived into adulthood, Charlotte Brontë lived at the Haworth parsonage with her family. She and her sisters Emily and Anne first published their poetry under the names Currer, Ellis, and Acton Bell, but they are best known for their novels Jane Eyre (by Charlotte), Wuthering Heights (by Emily), and The Tenant of Wildfell Hall (by Anne). As a family of three girls, my sisters and I always felt a connection with the Brontës, so to be in Haworth for Charlotte’s birthday party made Karin and I absolutely giddy.

The walk into the village in the bright morning light was amazing. They had gone all out, with bunting strung across the street and people streaming up the main cobbled road to the parsonage where the festivities would take place. We were interviewed by the BBC (and the Ilkley Gazette) on our way in which added an extra level of excitement to the day – to be from a family of three girls as well as to have come all the way from Canada for this party made us rather interesting to the locals!

There was so much to see and do that day. There were performers reading poetry, a young class from the local school performed scenes from Jane Eyre, songs honouring the Brontës were performed, stories were read. The current local curate said a prayer, and Tracy Chevalier (novelist, co-curator of the events, and editor of Reader, I Married Him, a collection of stories inspired by Jane Eyre) laid a wreath at the front door of the house.

As things wound down, Karin and I went for a walk out over the moors behind the parsonage. As we took our first steps out onto the land, it made instant sense. We were breathing the inspiration for the books. It was in the wind, in the land, in the sky, in the rocks. We were walking with Jane and Catherine and Agnes Grey and Mr. Lockwood. The stubbled grass, cropped short by sheep, formed a patchwork of changing colour over the hills and crags.

We walked for miles, over the stone bridge crossing the stream, up to a quiet spot with stunning views down into a steep valley. Further west, silhouetted against the sinking sun, sat Top Withins. Dark and ominous even in ruin, the house that inspired Wuthering Heights was a sombre sight. I sat down on a nearby rock as Karin pulled out her fiddle to play. Her quick notes were carried on the wind back towards the village. Even after she lifted her bow, the wind carried on, being strong enough to vibrate the strings of the fiddle and make its own eerie song.

Karin playing her fiddle on the moors. Picture by Jasmine.
Karin playing her fiddle on the moors. Picture by Jasmine.

We walked back to the village in the gathering dark to find a pub for supper. As we waited for our food, Karin proposed something that John Keats had done with his friends: a poetry race. I felt somewhat out of my element, as I never write poetry while Karin writes some of the most wonderful poems I’ve ever read, but there was something about those moors that made me feel up for the challenge. Karin suggested the theme of Top Withins and with our drinks at our elbows, we set about writing.

The result surprised me in that we were both happy with our poems. I finished first, but I think Karin won for quality, hands down. After the trip, Karin submitted both our poems to the Brontë Society Gazette and they were accepted for publication, which is both exciting and confidence-inducing. I never considered myself much of a writer, but this trip spurred both my imagination and my faith in myself.

The next day got us to Sevenoaks, the hometown of our aunt, uncle, and cousins. Our aunt and one of said cousins accompanied us into London the next morning where our first goal was Keats House. It is a truly lovely museum in Hampstead. I thought I knew a fair amount about Keats through conversations with Karin, but I still learned a lot. The museum is very well designed, still looking as it did when Keats lived there, and leads you through his life from the time he moved in until his departure for Italy in an unsuccessful attempt to salvage his health and his untimely death at age 25.

Leaving Keats House and heading back into central London, we took a walk along the Thames past the Globe Theatre. Here’s the thing about me: I’m a geek about a good many things, and one of my biggest loves is Shakespeare. I read Shakespeare for fun. I read about Shakespeare. I watch movies of his plays and in which he is a character. I attended Shakespeare camp for years, performing in the plays, making my sisters and cousins put on the plays with me, and as an adult designing costumes for the plays. I’m a little obsessed, to say the least. So to be there during a week of Shakespeare celebrations to mark the 400th anniversary of his death was an awe-inspiring experience. The gates of the Globe were entwined with roses and all along the embankment were a series of screens playing scenes from film adaptations of his plays.

Jasmine outside the Globe Theatre with the gate full of roses. Picture from Jasmine.
Jasmine outside the Globe Theatre with the gate full of roses. Picture from Jasmine.

We ended our London day with supper at the historic Ye Olde Cheshire Cheese. The pub was built in 1667, replacing the pub that was built in 1538 but destroyed in the fire of 1666. A winding warren of stone stairwells going deep underground, with low ceilings and gloomy corners, the place is simply dripping with atmosphere. It’s not surprise that so many authors frequented it. P. G. Wodehouse, Dr. Samuel Johnson, Mark Twain, Alfred Lord Tennyson, and Charles Dickens were all regulars – Dickens even references it in A Tale of Two Cities. The food was delicious, the setting was fantastic, and the ghosts made for excellent company.

It was in London that Karin and I parted ways as she had to get back to school for exams, so I carried on west alone to Tintagel. Legendary site of King Arthur’s conception, Tintagel is a tiny village on the Atlantic coast of Cornwall. Craggy, windswept, wild, and stunningly gorgeous, I think I took more pictures there than anywhere else. I know I’m sounding repetitive but the whole place pulses with legend and folklore. The ruined castle on the headland, the caves beneath, the blending of history and myth, and the ever shifting weather create a level of mystique that I haven’t experienced anywhere else. If you ever can, you must go. Stand on the peak looking over the ocean. Let the wind sing in your ears and whip your hair. Let the voices of the past rise up from the sea and tell you their stories. There is no feeling like it.

I had one final stop on my literary tour of the UK – Stratford-Upon-Avon. Shakespeare’s birthplace. I arrived late at my bed and breakfast, but they directed me to The King’s Head, the inn where Shakespeare’s parents had their wedding supper.

The next morning, I woke up to the early morning sun filtering through crawling vines. The birds were singing boldly, a soft breeze was whispering through the leaves of the old oak tree outside, and the rooster out back was crowing in annoyance that people weren’t up and doing things yet. All the elements combined in such a way that I wrote a few more lines of poetry over breakfast, sending me off to Shakespeare’s birthplace museum with a spring in my step.

I thought my heart was going to explode when I saw the house itself. It felt like a homecoming. I felt like I knew Will Shakespeare, and he was welcoming me to his house. It was wonderful, and more emotional than it should’ve been. I spent a long time exploring the museum and grounds as well as the town itself. Walking in his footsteps gave me such a thrill.

I travelled home a few days later, but have thought about that trip every day since. Jen handling all the travel bookings took off so much stress so I could really enjoy myself. Travelling with my sister was so much fun it should be illegal. I was overseas for two and a half weeks and I feel as though I barely scratched the surface, but I came home so inspired, energized, and creatively renewed by everything I experienced, and I am forever grateful that I had such an incredible opportunity.


If you are interested in booking a trip like this, you can contact me Jennifer Desmarais through AJ Travel. jenniferd@ajtravel.ca

A Study in Aether and Blush (Book and Game Launch)

Hello My Imaginary Friends,

My first novel A Study in Aether, and Jen’s game Blush will be launched this Saturday the 29th of October at a Monster Launch (We’re launching books not monsters, but feel free to come dressed as a monster.)

Come by and say hello and get a signed copy and meet lots of amazing Authors.

See you there,

Éric


 FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE by Renaissance Press

Join us for our MONSTER LAUNCH party!

Eight authors. Seven books.

One revolutionary game.

The celebration will be held at the 3 Brewers pub (240 Sparks St., Ottawa)
Saturday October 29th, 2015, from 5:00 – 7:00 PM
.

There will be readings by the authors, prizes to win, special prices and of course, the opportunity to get your books signed. The authors will be wearing costumes, so please feel free to dress up as well!

Blush – A sexual education trivia game by Jen Desmarais

Picture taken by Caroline Frechette of Renaissance Press.

With 250 questions (and their answers!) this trivia game is the perfect tool to initiate important discussions about all aspects of sexuality. With subjects like reproduction, general health, gender identity, and sexual orientation, Blush aims to help parents and teachers approach the topic of sexual health with their teens and pre-teens, and to give kids the opportunity to ask the questions they have in an atmosphere of fun and comfort.

ISBN 978-1-987963-11-3 – Available now!

Bonhomme Sept-Heures by Evan May

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A supernatural suspense which follows Adam Godwinson, the main character of The King in Darkness, as he tries to save the children in a small northern Québec town.

ISBN 978-1-987963-14-4 – Available October 29th!

Life in the ’Cosm by Cait Gordon

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This science-fiction comedy follows the adventures of Virj Ofreesin, a lovesick writer who goes on a foolish adventure to save the half of the bigender being he loves… in all the wrong places.

ISBN 978-1-987963-16-8 – Available now!

M School by Kevin Johns

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A spy thriller which delves into the dark spaces we have within our own souls, all the while taking us on a thrilling adventure which follows an unusual girl trying to solve the murder of the only person she ever really cared for.

ISBN 978-0-9952932-1-2 – Available October 29th!

Making a Living by Caroline Fréchette

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An undead woman, a scared boy who can manipulate machines, a nefarious laboratory trying to find the secret to eternal life… and did we mention zombies?

ISBN 978-1-987963-08-3 – Available now!

Sky Road Walker by S. M. Carrière

skyroad-cover

Chased by wraiths of dark smoke, without knowledge of the land in which I found myself or memory of my life and purpose, I became embroiled in a perilous quest to restore the throne of a fading Empire. Little did I know how dangerous a task that would prove to be.
This is my story; the tale of the Sky Road Walker.

Sky Road Walker is the first of the democratically created Your Very Own Adventure books by author S.M. Carrière.

Proceeds from the sale of this book will go to The Ottawa Caring and Sharing Exchange, a charity which provides relief and dignity during difficult times of the year.

A Study in Aether by Éric Desmarais

study ebook cover

A Sherlock-Holmes-obsessed girl detective, a bunch of disappearances, a witch, and… mittens? Dive into this highly entertaining Young Adult paranormal mystery set in a small Ontario town!

ISBN 978-1-987963-12-0 – Available now!

Wolf Ice by award-winning author Melissa Yuan-Innes

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Wolf ice disinhibits werewolf brains: it makes them act like animals. Lusty, angry, hungry animals. Wolf ice drives Leila straight into the arms (and on to other anatomical parts) of her ex-boyfriend.Wolf ice could slay all Montreal wers–in fact, all wers around the world–unless Leila stops him. Will she fight past the lust in order to save her species?

ISBN 978-1927341520 – Available now!

For more information, please contact Renaissance Press:

819-230-8968

http://renaissancebookpress.com

info@renaissancebookpress.com

Fandom Guest Post: UK Road Trip Part 1

Jasmine Murray-Bergquist is a costume designer, bookworm, amateur archer and all-around geek. Her body lives in Ottawa while her mind is consistently elsewhere. Her website can be found here, and you can follow her on Twitter!


My sisters and I have always been big dreamers. I wouldn’t say any of our dreams are too big, but as we have more dreams than are possible to fulfil in one lifetime, some of our childhood plans and ambitions got shelved indefinitely at a young age.

That changed this spring. When my sister Karin was invited to present a paper she wrote at an academic conference in Kirkwall, Orkney, we jumped at the chance to make one of those long lost ideas a reality. As voracious readers and lovers of a good road trip, we decided that after the conference we would rent a car and tour around England, making pilgrimages to the homes of some of our most beloved authors. With the expert help of Jen, before I knew it, everything was booked and we were ready to go.

Even after talking about doing a trip like this for years, the reality far surpassed anything I’d ever imagined.

I arrived in Edinburgh on a cool, rainy, April morning. With 13 hours to kill before Karin arrived (and three days before my luggage arrived, but that’s a different story!), I went exploring. My destination was a place that is truly somewhat of a holy site for me. A place that would be the perfect spot to start the Author Tour. A place where a young single mother unknowingly created the foundation of my childhood, changing my life forever.

The Elephant House is an unassuming place tucked neatly into a historic street front in Edinburgh’s Old Town. Many authors have frequented the cafe over the years including Ian Rankin and Alexander McCall Smith, but it’s best known for being the place where J. K. Rowling sat and wrote Harry Potter. I got goosebumps as I walked in, although that could’ve been the chill of the Scottish fog sinking through to my bones. With a pot of Earl Grey tea and an elephant shaped shortbread cookie, I settled into an empty seat by the front window. The cafe was crowded with people trying to find relief from the rain and wind. The hubbub of conversation, the clinking of teacups in saucers, the tinkle of the bell above the door as people came and went, all the sounds, smells, and sights wound their way into my consciousness, and it was a few minutes before I was even aware that I was writing.

The sign at the Elephant cafe with a "birthplace of Harry Potter" pamphlet. Picture by Jasmine.
The sign at the Elephant House with a “birthplace of Harry Potter” pamphlet. Picture by Jasmine.

I sat for a minute, staring down at my notebook and the paragraphs I’d just written, and suddenly I understood why Edinburgh is known for being a city for writers and artists. It immediately gets inside you, filling you with inspiration. It forces you to create. There is magic lurking under every cobblestone, stories whispering at you from every doorway. It doesn’t just give you the desire to write, it gives you the need.

The next morning Karin and I started our journey north by train. The next few days were very focused on the conference, although we did find a couple of author moments amidst all the learning. In Inverness, we found a plaque commemorating William Topaz McGonagall. If you haven’t read the poem “The Tay Bridge Disaster”…well, just go read it, and it will become very clear why McGonagall is known as the worst poet ever. Luckily for him he was rich, and able to pay people to put up with his readings. When we reached beautiful, mystical, magical Orkney, we discovered the world of George Mackay Brown. A famed poet, novelist, and dramatist, he also wrote many short stories and essays. His work is everywhere, especially in Stromness, his hometown.

From Orkney, we took the train back south to Glasgow, where we picked up the car and hit the open road. Karin was a fantastic co-pilot (her Chewbacca impression is second to none) and navigated us perfectly out of Edinburgh and along the winding country roads to the small western Scottish town of Ayr. That was where we stayed that night, but our goal in Ayrshire was the nearby village of Alloway, birthplace of poet, lyricist, whiskey advocate, and great seducer – the Bard of Ayrshire, Robert Burns.

If you ever have the chance, the Robert Burns Birthplace Museum is so very much worth the visit. It’s fantastically laid out and a veritable wealth of information on the life and times of Burns and his family. Interactive and educational, there was so much to do and so many ways to immerse yourself in the times and ways of late 1800s Scotland. The panels are all peppered with Scots words (the language Burns wrote in and fought to keep alive), which is a really fun way of learning the language along with the details of Burns’ life.

Karin with the mouse statue on the path at the Burns Museum
Karin with the mouse statue on the path at the Burns Museum. Picture by Jasmine.

Outside the museum there is a path that winds through a field marked by metal artwork depicting the story of Tam O’Shanter, one of Burns’ most famous poems, as well as a giant mouse (a nod to Burns’ To A Mouse). The path takes you to the small cottage where Burns was born, kept as it was when he was a child there. As you walk back to the museum, if you take the road instead of the path, you pass by the Alloway kirk (church), which is where poor unfortunate Tam sees all manner of horrible supernatural creatures whooping it up as he tries to get home from the pub one night. Even it broad daylight, our skin prickled imaging the witches, goblins, and tortured ghosts as we peeked into the ruins.

We spent far, far too much time there, but it was so wonderful. From Ayr we turned south, driving down the ruggedly stunning west coast of Scotland, before turning east and working out way into the Lakes District. This stunning region was the inspiration for one of my father’s favourite books from childhood, “Swallows and Amazons” by Arthur Ransome. My dad read it to my sisters and I when I was probably 8 or so and we immediately fell in love with it. Written and set in the 30s, it’s the story of the four Walker children who spend their summers sailing their borrowed boat the Swallow around an unnamed lake in the Lakes District, where they meet the two Blackett children, who have a boat of their own – the Amazon – and are pirates. We used to sail all around the lake where my grandparents live when we were kids, so both the sailing and the imaginations of the kids utterly captivated us.

While the lake in the books is never explicitly named, people believe that it’s based on Coniston Water, so that was where we went after a beautiful night in the nearby town of Grasmere (where we took a quick wander around the grounds of Dove Cottage, where the Wordsworths lived and wrote). Coniston Water is the third largest lake in England, at five miles long but only a half mile wide. A kiosk down by the shore rents out all manner of boats, and soon we were zipping down the lake in our very own Swallow. The feeling was glorious. The boat hummed as we skipped along under the watchful eye of the Old Man of Coniston, the mountain that looms large over the water. The energy of the experience and the powerful beauty of our surroundings soon put us in a creative mood again, and we sailed for miles while developing a very complex story (which I’m very grateful to Karin for writing down the details of in the car as we drove after). In theory we had the boat for two hours, in reality, we ended up staying out there for more like three and a half. The thing about a skinny lake is as easy as it is to sail down, when you have to tack short tacks back and forth all the way back, it takes a hell of a lot longer!

The common theme we had through the trip was getting so caught up in what we were doing that we took too long at our stops, meaning we arrived later at our final destinations. Especially on our way out of Cumbria, we had to stop to see Hill Top, which is where Beatrix Potter lived and wrote. But despite the detours and the late hour, driving through Yorkshire at sunset was nothing short of breathtaking. It was like driving through a James Herriot story: the farmers in their tweed caps, the sheep wandering unsupervised beside the country road, the moon hanging low in the purple twilight as the lights of the village in the valley come on, it was too perfect for words.

That night, we arrived in Haworth. I could feel my heart rate quickening as soon as we arrived. Our hostel was a Gothic mansion on a hill outside the village and it was the perfect setting to get us in the mood for the part of the trip that we were possibly the most excited for.


Stay tuned for Part 2 on November 9th!

If you are interested in booking a trip to like this, you can contact me Jennifer Desmarais through AJ Travel. jenniferd@ajtravel.ca

Blush Guest Post: Vicariously Male

For the next few weeks, both Blush posts and Fandom Travel posts will be guest posts. Thank you to the contributors! If anyone else is interesting in writing for either of these topics (and it can easily be kept anonymous!) please send me an email to jenericdesigns@gmail.com and we can discuss which topic you’d like to write about.

This week’s Blush guest post is written by Caroline Frechette, and you can follow them on Facebook here. Caroline is originally from Montreal, but has been living in the Ottawa/Gatineau region since 2004. They are a sequential artist and author. They have published several short stories, both sequential and traditional, as well as two graphic novels and six books. They were the editor and director for the French Canadian literary magazine Histoires à boire debout, and works at the Ottawa Public Library. They now are the editor and director for Renaissance Press. They have been teaching creative writing since 2005, and GMing various table-top RPGs for the past 19 years.


Genderfluid symbol courtesy of redbubble.
Genderfluid symbol courtesy of Reidtastic on redbubble.

I’ve always known I was different. Not just a little different, but completely apart from others, something else entirely. When I was a child, I used to think I must be an alien. Another species. Because there was no one like me.

Sure, I wore my hair short, I wore trunks to swim, and I sometimes pretended to be a boy when I was with kids I just met. I identified with men as the heroes of my stories. Often, I wished with all my heart that I was a boy.

Except I didn’t not want to be a girl. Not all the time, anyway.

Some of the days, I hated the body I was born into. Pudgy, awkward, too tall and too short at the same time, and female. Especially female. But sometimes, very few times, but still sometimes, I did enjoy being a woman. I tried growing my hair long and braided it in fancy ways, and I hated it as often as I loved it but most of the time it was OK.

I’m thankful there was such a thing as tabletop role-playing games. They allowed me something I never had the courage to do in real life: go by a male name, be referred to as “he”, and all in the comfortable illusion of fantasy, which was just pretend and could be over at any time, and didn’t commit me to any revelation about myself. The happiness of being able to explore the male aspect of my personality, which is the dominating side, made me quickly addicted to these games. I started playing them with my cousins when I was only twelve, and by the age of 17, I was spending all my time – and I mean, all of it, outside of work and school, I spent 2 hours sleeping every night and every other waking moment I was doing this – on a chat software called MIRC, role-playing with a group of people from all over the world, as several characters (all male, of course). Sure, I got teased a lot for playing almost only male characters, but that didn’t matter to me (beyond reinforcing the idea that I could never tell anyone what was going through my head, of course).

I got a little bit more daring with chat groups; even during the times where we were, as we call it, OOC, or Out Of Character, I still pretended I was a boy – because doing it as a character in a fantasy game wasn’t enough anymore. I quickly got outed as “a girl” and I had a really hard time explaining to my friends why it was important to me that they see me as male, at least some of the time. In fact, I had a hard time explaining to anyone – even people in the queer support groups I visited as a teen – what was going on in my head, what I was going through with my gender identity. Non-binary identities weren’t that well-known in the early 90s, back when very few people even knew about the internet, let alone used it.

It was in high school that I first learned what transgender was and I kind of felt like it applied to me, because I did want to be a boy, but hesitated to use it to label myself, because I didn’t want to stop being a girl. Thinking about it, exploring it, I realized that I didn’t think I’d ever want surgery, because I wasn’t ready to lose my body, no matter how I felt about it. So even that didn’t fit me. I felt even more alone, because I thought I’d found something that defined who I was but it didn’t, really. Because I’d never fully transition. That much was always clear to me: I’d always have one foot left in womanhood. Being pregnant and having children made me even surer of this than I was before: no matter how triggering my period got, being a woman was wonderful at times.

My first inkling of my true gender identity came through a book, a science-fiction novel, actually (which seems very fitting, after thinking I must be a secret alien for so long). It was Ursula K. Le Guin’s The Left Hand of Darkness, a novel about a planet on which the inhabitants are not male or female, but rather exist as both and neither, in a state of neutrality most of the time except for a few days a month when they become fertile, and gain the physical attributes which most people associate with male or female, so they can reproduce. Not everyone gets the same sex every time; it can vary depending on the month, so that most people who have children are father to some, mother to others.

That book was a revelation. The concept of being one gender AND the other, depending on the day, was exactly what I had felt my whole life but couldn’t put words on. I still wasn’t able to put a word on it, and the irony that the characters were aliens was not lost on me, but still, it made me feel a little better, like there was someone else in the world that was thinking these things, since she was writing about them. I still felt like a freak, not one thing and not the other, but there was at least one other person in the world who had had these ideas.

I put it aside at the back of my head, and tried to move on with my life. I started writing more seriously, and as I started to examine what I was writing, I came to realize that most of my characters were male, so much so that some of my stories didn’t even pass the low bar of the Bechdel test. As a feminist, this bothered me a great deal, and I tried writing in more women, but I never felt as whole as I did when I wrote about male characters. They permitted me to express my stifled masculinity, to live through them the identity I wanted for myself.

It wasn’t until a good decade after that, when I started a relationship with my wife, that the last of the pieces of the puzzle that was my gender identity fell into place. Since she was a transgender woman just coming to terms with her identity and starting to transition, I started doing some research, and getting involved in online communities so I could support her to the best of my abilities. And this is how I found out about non-binary gender identities, and most important of all, the term “genderfluid.”

There are no words to describe the feeling of finding a word that fits exactly who you are, how you feel. At long last, you aren’t just a lonely freak, an alien, different from everyone else in the world; there are others like you, lots of others, enough of them that there is a widely-used word to define it. It’s suddenly belonging, finding your people, being understood. It’s your entire existence being validated; it’s such an emotional rush that defies description. There are those who sustain that “all these labels are divisive” or that they are “unnecessary”; but really, labels can be life-saving. They have the ability to unite you, make you feel part of a community; to make you feel like what you are going through is not only normal to some degree, but also that you are not alone.

I still write about men. Gay men, actually, a lot of the time, because this allows me to express my queerness (I’m also pansexual, which is a whole other thing to explain) as well as my masculinity, and I’m getting more and more comfortable with that; it’s a healthy way of exploring my masculine side in the safety of my own head, and it makes me feel balanced.

For now.

Can-Con (No Dragon Sightings)

Hello My Imaginary Friends,

Dragon is taking her time so I’m back at work this week (until I get the call, text, etc.) That means the super awesome story I have planned for you will have to wait for Thursday. It will hopefully not be postponed again.

This past weekend, despite being Dragon’s due date, we decided to get a table at Can-Con. It’s our favourite convention and is totally awesome.

Can-Con

One of the highlights of my weekend was selling coffee to authors I respect. It makes me feel all fan-boyish. The other was seeing old friends and meeting new ones. Can-Con people rock.

Not wanting to be too far away from Dragon, or the table, I only got to see one panel and give my first reading.

The panel I went to was about antagonists, it was incredibly interesting. The panelists were great (as usual).

Next year I plan on being on more panels. (I was asked but didn’t want to risk the chance of a Dragon hatching pulling me away).

THANK YOU!

To all the organizers, panelists, volunteers, vendors, and visitors to Can-Con; thank you so much for making it another great convention. I look forward to doing it again next year!

We’d both like to thank everyone who made sure Jen was ok and checked in on her throughout the weekend. You made her and I feel extremely loved and cared for!

My Reading

Taken by Madona Skaff
Taken by Madona Skaff

The reading was a lot of fun. Cait Gordon is a spectacular performer, Madona Skaff was fantastic, and Caroline Fréchette gave an impressive reading despite having bronchitis.

I learnt an important lesson about reading. Double check the passage before you read it. I just chose a random one and went for it, but didn’t account for how much extra set-up I needed. Seriously, I think I chose the part with the most characters in the entire book. I was sweaty, mumbling, and awkward, but people said I did okay. Next time I’ll prepare a little more.

Speaking of next time…

Mega-Multi-Author Launch!

This October 29th, Jen, I, and 6 other fantastic authors will be launching books and a game. It’ll be amazing. There are prizes, readings, food, and costumes!

There will probably be a baby Dragon there, in an adorable costume. (She’ll hatch by then right?)

This is the best place to get my book and some of my favourite reads from the past few years.

That’s it for now.

 

I’ll either be writing a new post on Thursday or you’ll get a story as I cuddle a Dragon.

Later Days!

Éric

 

CAN-CON 2016

Hello My Imaginary Friends,

CAN-CON is coming up pretty fast. (10 days) You could say I’m counting down the days until the 9th of September. Yes, we’re crazy enough to be selling at a convention the weekend that Dragon is due to hatch.

The reason we’re comfortable with that is simply that the people at CAN-CON are absolutely lovely and if feels more like a get together of friends than a convention. It’s a warm, inviting, and overall wonderful event.

This year I was invited to be on some panels but I declined so I’d be available in case Dragon shows up. I will however be doing a reading with my publisher and some other awesome writers.

Come see me at 2pm on Saturday the 10th if you’re at the convention.

If you’re not at the convention, feel free to swing by the dealers room and I’ll gladly sell you my new book!

Can-Con FINAL poster with text - 17 Aug 2016
Poster designed by Jay Odjick.

See you at CAN-CON!

Éric