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 AJ Travel. jenniferd@ajtravel.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

The Story Museum

If I hadn’t wanted to visit Oxford, England before, I want to go there even more now!

The museum itself is planning a renovation, which will make it 100% wheelchair accessible by Summer 2019.

Image taken from Atlas Obscura.
Image taken from Atlas Obscura.

Geared towards children and exploration, The Story Museum features the Mad Hatter’s Tea Party, the Wardrobe and Beaver’s Den from Narnia, and many other iconic scenes.

They also host events and week long courses for children and adults alike.


Are you interested in travelling to England? You can contact me Jennifer Desmarais through AJ Travel. jenniferd@ajtravel.ca

Ready Player One by Ernest Cline – Book Review

*Edited December 2017* the more I think about it the more I realize how little this book offers other than nostalgia and the less I like it. Fun score brought down from a 4 to a 1.

 

Hello My Imaginary Friends,

It’s been a while since I did a formal structured review and I’d like to work though my thoughts on this book. (For more information on how and why I review books read my posts Part 1 and Part 2.)

I devoured Ready Player One in record speed (for me) and despite being addictive, I’ve got mixed feelings.

**Warning Spoilers**

ready-player-one-book-cover

Characters

I liked

I greatly enjoyed the characters of Halliday and Ogden. They were obviously based off of Steve Jobs and Steve Wozniak, with more than a little Gandalf thrown in for fun.

I liked the over the top villain Sorrento. True mustache twirling baddy, who pulled no punches and didn’t do anything particularly stupid.

I didn’t like

Any of the main characters. The main character was a whiny undereducated obsessive with an extremely unhealthy crush. The love interest was a fantasy geek girl who had similar interests to the main character. She was a wilting flower embarrassed by her appearance and in the end enamoured with the protagonist’s ability to look past it. There was also the token 80’s obsession with the honorable Japanese characters.

The only character that could have been interesting was Aech. Unfortunately what could have been a source of tension and actual character growth was tacked on at the end to show that the main character is an okay guy.

Each character is a stereotype of 80’s movies, tv, and books. I’m not sure if this was intentional but it certainly wasn’t effective at creating well developed or relatable characters. Add in the odd transphobic, sexist, or homophobic comments and I really didn’t like these characters.

For characters, I give it 1 out of 5

Writing Style

I liked

The book suffered from the biggest strength and weakness of the first person narrative. It’s biggest strength is urgency and quick pacing.

The author was great at referencing nostalgia without needing to explain it. The world building was well executed.

The word and sentence construction was perfectly balanced in the exciting bits.

I didn’t like

The biggest weakness of a first person narrative is the narrator. If a reader doesn’t like the main character, it hurts the book, which leads authors to give their characters super-powers that either make no sense or are too convenient. In this case the character had perfect luck and the ability to play any classic video game at an expert level.

For writing style, I give it 4 out of 5.

Story

I liked

I absolutely loved the puzzles and the quest. It was a perfect combination of trivia and classic MacGuffin hunt. The nostalgia was pretty well done and it actually informed the story instead of controlling it.

I didn’t like

It was predictable. It was a classic MacGuffin quest. I could tell you all the notes it would hit and how it would end by the end of the first act.

The nostalgia was awesome but at some parts I wanted to move on with the story not hear more about John Hugh.

I give the story 3 out of 5

Fun

I liked

The world and puzzles were fantastic. Both of them drove the plot and the interest. The author did a great job of capturing and referencing the feel and excitement of 80’s nostalgia. The excitement of the hunt was expressed in such a way to make me feel the same need to continue. It’s the mark of an author who really knows how to excite their audience.

I didn’t like

The characters and plot were predictable. The love story was painfully bad and partially toxic. I hate the “demure woman who is obsessed with her appearance” trope. As in all 80’s media where they tried to have a love interest that was the equal to the character, she was better qualified then he was in every way to win the contest.

I give it 1 out of 5 for fun

Overall

This is a fun and quick book with quite a few problems. Its thick slathering of nostalgia, exciting puzzle game, and interesting world are the only things that saves it from a weak 80’s quest with weaker 80’s character tropes.

Final score is 45%

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