Life is okay, how are you?

Hello My Imaginary Friends,

Overall things are good. There are a few outstanding issues that are stressing me beyond belief (I’ll let you know if and when I can) but things are going well.

So what’s been happening?

Writing

My newest book is out. The Sign of Faust is available at Amazon and Renaissance Press.

I’m currently in the middle of writing the fourth book in the Elizabeth series and it’s moving. Slowly, but I’m getting words down and that’s what’s important.

Last year’s serial story and my novel Parasomnia are both eligible to be nominated for an Aurora. Go nominate them if you liked them. As are Fandom Travel and Travelling TARDIS.

Dragon and Family

The baby Dragon is doing well. She’s growing every day and yesterday was a super snugly day.

We went to Paris with my in-laws and that was awesome. You can read Jen’s thoughts on it here. It’s the first of 3 posts on the trip. I went 8 days without my cellphone and it was quite the experience.

Exciting Things

I have no big announcements at the moment and all the stuff I’m excited about are not from me. Incredibles 2 comes out this year and I look forward to playing the Lego game of it. I’m taking some time off in July for my birthday so I can hang out with Dragon and play video games. Maybe she’ll join me… Is 22 months old to young for videogames?

Did I mention I have a book out?

 

What’s happening in your lives?

Éric

Not Now Kid / Mysterious Force

Hello My Imaginary Friends,

There’s a trope in YA and children’s entertainment that drives me up the wall. Parents not believing or not trusting their kids.

You know the scenario. Something bad happens and all the characters are yelling about it and the kid/protagonist tries to get their attention but no one listens. Normally it ends up that the kid is right.

It’s a trope that was immensely popular in the 80’s and 90’s and has, thankfully, fallen out of favour. The idea behind it is that if the parents knew, they’d be able to fix it and if they couldn’t then why would the kids. Or if the parents knew then the kid would never be allowed to fix it because it’s too dangerous.

The only example of this trope that I enjoy is Candace from Phineas & Ferb.

The problem I have with the trope is that it promotes the idea that parents are obstacles and not resources. It also makes the parents look really stupid.

It’s a difficult balance between supportive parent and irresponsible or negligent parent. Especially when the kids/protagonists in question are battling monsters or other terrible things.

 

What do you think? What YA trope pisses you off?

Later Days,

Éric

Top 5 Book Layout Mistakes

Hello Book Lovers and Authors,

When you self-publish or work with an inexperienced layout artist there are certain mistakes that make your book look bad.

Book publishing is a centuries old industry that has gone through a lot of changes, but certain things have become so standard that you only notice when they’re out of place.

5. Headers and Footers

Headers and Footers are the area above and below the main text. They live in the margins and help tell the reader where they are.

The main mistake with these is if they are missing. However, having too much information or having them too close to the main text makes it hard to read.

The standard pieces of information that should be in the headers and footers are; title of the work, author, and page numbers. You can add or substitute chapter titles if you wish but only if they are more interesting than just “Chapter 1”.

Page numbers are the only things that must be, without any exceptions, included in your header or footer.

Page numbering starts on the first page of the book and not the first page of the content. This means your title page is considered page 1. This can change if your book isn’t a novel.

Headers and footers do not appear on any pages before or after the content or on any pages where the chapter starts.

4. Images

This is an easy one. Printing requires a certain quality of image (300dpi and CMYK colour). Anything below or other than that will look unprofessional.

Some people, me included, like to use silhouettes as dividers and decorations. Use these sparingly and if you can, use vector images that can handle being shrunk easily.

3. Fonts

When reading on a screen, studies have shown that it’s easier to read Sans-Serif fonts. When reading a book it’s the opposite. Always use Serif fonts.

Beyond that, it looks unprofessional to use standard fonts like Times New Roman or fancy fonts like Broadway or *shudder* Comic Sans.

The classic font is Garamond and no one will judge you for using it.

A great resource is: https://fonts.google.com/ The fonts are open source and free.

The above applies to the main text. You can use nearly any font for the chapter titles or your Headers and Footers. I do recommend you limit yourself to 2 or maximum 3 fonts overall and never more than 1 for the main text.

2. Kerning and Leading

Kerning is the space between the characters. If this isn’t consistent, is too tight or too loose; the book will not only look unprofessional, it’ll be borderline illegible. All layout programs have settings for this that are extremely easy to use.

Leading is the space between your lines. Chances are that your High School teachers insisted on you double spacing your essays. If the lines are too tight they start to blend together, if they’re too loose, it’s hard to follow and takes longer to read.

Similar is your Paragraph spacing. If you have a huge space between paragraphs it’ll look messy and cost you more in printing.

1. Typographic Alignment

The biggest, most common, and the first thing people notice is the alignment in your text.

Headers, titles, and images are extremely loose in where they should be aligned, but the main text of your book should always be Left Justified.

This blog is left aligned. The standards for web are different because of the glow caused by the screen.

The moment I see a jagged right margin on a book I know it was formatted by an amateur. It’s an industry standard because it works. When combined with proper kerning it is easier for the eye to go from one page to the next.


A good Layout Artist will make sure that all these things are taken care of and that your book looks great. See Why Your Book Needs a Layout Artist!

I offer layout services if you ever need help.

 

Good reading and good writing,

Éric

Renaissance Press is Turning 5

Hello,

I’ve known about Renaissance Press for five years. I met them at Can-Con in 2013 when they only had a handful of books.

I pitched my first novel to them. They liked it, but it needed some serious re-writes that they weren’t able to take care of, so they told me to re-submit. In the end we got A Study in Aether, and its sequel is coming out this year.

If you like my books or any of the other fantastic novels from Renaissance Press, why don’t you let them know and you could win $40 worth of awesome stuff.

With luck my next novel, The Sign of Faust will be ready and launched at the 5 year celebration.

To Renaissance: Thank you for believing in my stories.

Éric

Berlin

I’d like to start 2018 off on a solemn and thoughtful note, and what is more fitting than a memorial? Specifically, a Book Burning Memorial.

The Library art installation at Bebelplatz, in Berlin. Image from the Atlas Obscura.

I can’t imagine what it must have been like, that day so long ago, when over 20,000 books were burnt to ash. Hopefully I never have to find out. The Nazis didn’t only burn books, they torched knowledge, science, and objectivity.

The books that were targeted includes those by August Bebel, Sigmund Freud, Ernst Glaeser, Heinrich Heine, Erich Kästner, Rosa Luxemburg, Heinrich and Klaus Mann, Karl Marx, Bertha von Suttner, and Stefan Zweig, and possibly even more importantly, the entire contents of the library at the Institute of Sexology, headed by Dr Magnus Hirschfeld. This library contained rare books and papers on sex and gender.

The art installation, by Micha Ullman, is underground, and its empty shelves have space for all the books that were destroyed that night in 1933. There is a plaque with a line by a German Jewish playwright:

“That was but a prelude;
where they burn books,
they will ultimately burn people as well.”
Heinrich Heine 1820


Are you interested in travelling to Berlin? You can contact Jennifer Desmarais through Orleans Travel. jennifer.desmarais@orleanstravel.ca


References

https://www.visitberlin.de/en/book-burning-memorial-bebelplatz

https://www.atlasobscura.com/places/the-bebelplatz

http://hmd.org.uk/content/06051933-looting-institute-sexology

https://collections.ushmm.org/search/catalog/pa26351

Éric’s 2018 Resolutions

Hello My Imaginary Friends,

Last Thursday I graded my 2017 resolutions. I accomplished a lot but only 55% of what I was hoping.

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.

Write 2000 words a week for The Mystery of the Dancing Lights

This is arguably more ambitious than last year’s 3000 words, since that included blog posts and short stories, but I really need to kick myself into writing more of my novels. I’m getting stressed at the idea that I’ve only written one publishable novel in the past four years.

Pitch Everdome and the Super-Secret Project

I need to decide if I’ll pitch Everdome to the big publishers, if I pitch it to others, or if I self-publish. It’ll, in part, be decided by how my pitch for the Super-Secret Project goes. Something I need to write up and submit. (I’ll hopefully have news by the end of the year.)

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 2018 Serial story, go do that now.

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

We’ve been going for five 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.

Read 30 books

I succeed at this last year and I hopefully I’ll do the same this year. I love reading and it’s important to me that I keep doing it.

Finish the new content for FADDS and playtest it

This has been on my list for a long time and if FADDS were a human child, it would be going into second grade at this point.

I need to finish the new content and do an overhaul to take out the races. I’ve come to find that a race system in RPGs is, well, kind of racist. Instead I’ll be switching it to bonuses based off of Nurture and Nature.

Test, Design, and Produce 2 new coffee flavours

This will be easy. I have two flavours chosen. They need some more testing with people and I need to design their theme. We’ll have at least one for Comic Con.

Edit and send Dinosaur Road Trip to a willing betareader

This will be tough. It’s not a great book, but it was extremely personal and I really need to get it into a physical form for my daughter. I’m sure I’ll add some stuff along the way.

Jen, Weditor, has gone through it and made comments. She doesn’t seem sure it’s publishable so I’d like another opinion and a betaread. Depending how that goes I’ll either pitch it or just print a copy for myself and baby Dragon.

Start getting a short story collection together

This is going to be the fifth year of the Serial Story and I’m really proud of the worlds that have come out of it.

What I’d like to do is write an extra chapter for each story and put them all together, this year included. That would give me roughly 65,000 words and I’d pitch it to my publisher. I’d want to write 2 or 3 stories featuring characters from my books to try and tempt people to buy it and round it out to 70,000 ish words.

Play more Videogames

I have been doing a lot. Between my full time job, my part time job, coffee roasting, writing, housework, freelance layout, and other things; I spend a lot of time creating or doing things.

I need to force myself to sit down and play some of the games I’ve been wanting to play. Even if it’s only a few hours a week. It’ll help me relax.

Keladry is getting old enough now that soon she’ll be able to boss me around or at the very least stop attacking the controller.

 

Once again it’s an ambitious list. Hopefully I can get at least 50% done. Wish me luck.

What are your Resolutions this year?

Éric

 

2017 Resolution Report Card

Hello My Imaginary Friends,

I hope you’re having a wonderful holiday season filled with warmth and joy.

Last year, I set forth some lofty goals. Let’s see how I did.

1. Write 3000 words a week. (Fail)

This year has been terrible for productivity in writing; unfortunately I haven’t fallen back into the groove. I did manage a Novella of 30,000 words, the serial story, regular posts, and roughly 3000 words into Mystery of the Dancing Lights. I’ll have to alter this goal for next year.

2. Complete The Copper Tarnish by March. (Fail)

I decided mid-year to put this one away and come back to it someday. It’s only at 15,000 words and I’m not happy with it. I think I’ll try and re-work it at a later time.

3. Start the next Elizabeth Investigates. (Pass)

The Hounds of Baker Ville:  I realized it wouldn’t have enough emotional weight if we weren’t more invested in certain characters. I’ve moved the concept to book 6.

I started book 4, called The Mystery of the Dancing Lights. I wrote the intro and the first chapter and then I stalled. Recently I sat down and plotted out the book and now I can’t wait to write it.

4. Read 30 books. (Pass)

I had to read a few graphic novels near the end, but I made my goal. It’s a great way to motivate myself to read and read more than that one series I’m obsessed with. Or worse, just scrolling through Facebook endlessly.

5. Write a Monthly Serial Story.(Pass)

Story is all finished as of December 21st.

You can start reading at Part 1 of Database of the Ageless Kings here.

6. Test, Produce, and Develop 2 new coffee flavours. (Pass)

Both Green Apple and Marshmallow have been great successes. I’ve even got plans for next year.

7. Playtest the new content for FADDS and get it ready for submission in 2018. (Fail)

I got overly ambitious and added too much to the rules. Now I’m scrambling to finish them. Hopefully I can submit by end of 2019.

8. Continue to ensure there’s content 5 days a week on JenEric Designs. (Pass)

Despite the baby, going back to work, multiple colds and flus, not to mention life in general, we were able to continue producing content, and quality I think, every weekday of 2017.

10. Prepare A Case of Synchronicity submission to my publisher and Everdome for pitches at Can-Con. (Pass and Fail)

I haven’t even looked at A Case of Synchronicity this year. It’ll have to wait… unfortunately.

I did pitch Everdome to an agent and queried a big publisher. It was rejected both times but I will find this book a home.


Final Score

So I accomplished 5.5 out of 10. That’s 55% and technically a pass.

Looking at past years I seem to be slipping by 5% each year. Considering that the goals are getting more intense, I suppose that’s normal.

Next year hopefully I won’t get below 50% but in the end it doesn’t matter if I have a goal of writing 150,000 words and I write 100,000, I still did better than if I hadn’t tried.

 

How did your resolutions go?

Éric

 

Recommendation Thursday – We Shall Be Monsters – Mary Shelley’s Frankenstein 200 years on

Hello,

There’s a fantastic anthology that is being Kickstarted. There are some great rewards and I can’t wait to read it!

Go check it out:

We Shall Be Monsters – Mary Shelley’s Frankenstein 200 years on

“It is true, we shall be monsters, cut off from all the world; but on that account we shall be more attached to one another.” Mary Shelley, Frankenstein

As you may already know, Renaissance will be celebrating its fifth anniversary in 2018, and to mark the occasion, we’ve decided to launch a project celebrating another important anniversary.
In 1818, Mary Shelley published Frankenstein, sparking the genres of horror and science fiction. On this, the 200th anniversary of its publication, the narrative is more relevant than ever.

We Shall Be Monsters: Mary Shelley’s Frankenstein Two Centuries On will feature a broad range of fiction stories, from direct interactions with Shelley’s texts to explorations of the stitched, assembled body and narrative experiments in monstrous creations. We Shall Be Monsters is a fiction collection that will feature explorations of disability through Frankenstein, ace, queer, and trans identity, ideas of race and colonialism.

Seven-time Aurora Award winner Derek Newman-Stille and award-winning author and theatre artist Kate Story team up to direct this excellent collection.

This anthology is a huge milestone for us as a publisher, and we won’t reach it without your help.
Kickstarter works on an all-or-nothing basis, which means that if our campaign does not get fully funded, we will not get any of the funds. Please take some time to look at the campaign; I think you’ll find the rewards for this campaign are incredible. You can get this wonderful book, but also a selection of Renaissance novels, your portrait made as Frankenstein’s monster, you can participate to a writing workshop, and so much more!
If you can’t pledge, that’s OK! Sharing the link with all your friends is a great way to help!

Thank you in advance for your support. We take the success of our very first anthology to heart, and really believe it can be a great vehicle for emerging and underrepresented voices.

Check out the Kickstarter!

Your Stories and Characters don’t Belong to you. Get over it!

Hello My Imaginary Friends,

I have seen countless actors, writers, and creators complain about fan fiction, shipping, and head-canon. Especially when it comes to character’s sexuality or gender.

For a long time LGBT+ characters and stories were banned from all forms of media and other minorities weren’t included for many terrible reasons. That meant that people had to read into the subtext of characters and stories to try and see themselves. Now it’s less illegal but still greatly lacking.

Fiction is incredibly powerful, it can change the way you think and can even the way you act.

The emotional bond we feel towards fictional characters is incredibly strong. Not the least because we project ourselves onto them and their surroundings. Between that and emotionally intense fictional events can cause a weird disconnect between reality and fiction. I’ve always described that like a fog combined with awe.

“As long as nobody’s making money from it that should be an author or creator’s, I don’t mind it. And I think it does a lot of good. It doesn’t bother me” – Neil Gaiman

As a writer, I’ve come to realize that once I release my characters into the world I no longer have control of what people think or do with them. Isn’t that amazing? To have created something that is absorbed into the daily life or identity of others. That’s fantastic. To have people love what you’ve created so much that they want to build on it and continue the story is just beautiful.

Now you may think that anything that doesn’t come from the creator’s mind is worthless and devalues the characters. I disagree completely. If your stories can bring joy to others, then you’ve helped make someone happy. If that means they want to ship two characters that you think shouldn’t be together, then don’t read it. You are not obligated to read or create fanfiction, slash, ships, head-canon, fanon, or anything else.

You do not have to right to judge, insult, or humiliate others for loving something you created so much that they want to see themselves in it or play with the world.

“I am delighted to hear that you liked the Narnian books. There is a map at the end of some of them in some editions. But why not do one yourself! And why not write stories for yourself to fill up the gaps in Narnian history? I’ve left you plenty of hints … I feel I have done all I can!” – C. S. Lewis

I look forward to finding out what people love, what people see, and what people do with my creations. To me that is a completely new form of success.

 

Later Days,

Éric

Disclaimer: I am speaking of non-commercial use and emotional bonds. I do not support or condone the infringement of someone’s intellectual property. Plagiarism is bad… Duh!

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