Kevin Johns

When you go to Can-Con, you get to meet some pretty fantastic people. The attendees are fun and intelligent, you get to listen to panels by experts in their field, and you get to meet some amazing authors. I cannot speak highly enough about this convention. Seriously, our favourite of the year. (And that includes the one that *I* organize – CON Creative Ottawa Nerds!)

This is one of the amazing authors I mentioned in the above paragraph. Kevin Johns has written several books, including as a ghost writer (I didn’t know those existed on this plane!) and he is a writing coach. He hosts free webinars occasionally, of which I have had the opportunity to attend quite a few, and he really knows what he’s talking about. And he has a new book coming out soon – M School! I was one of the fortunate few who got to Beta read this book, and OMG is it ever good!

You can meet him, and many others (including us, barring circumstances), at Can-Con 2016, happening Sept 9 – 11, 2016 at the Novotel in downtown Ottawa! I saw a sneak peek of the schedule – it’s going to be even better than last year, which I didn’t think was possible!

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Reading Bites

Somehow I missed posting the pictures from Can-Con 2015! This is one of our absolute favourite conventions of the year, which is kinda obvious if you know that our due date coincides with their convention THIS year. (Sept 9-11) Seriously, go check them out and then buy a ticket. The writing community of Ottawa is incredible.

A red shirt, author Éric Desmarais (Follow him on Facebook, his blog, sign up for his newsletter through his website, and buy his book here) is about to get bitten by a vampire, author S. M. Carrière (Follow her on Facebook, her blog, sign up for her newsletter through her website, and buy her books here) and is pleading for the Doctor to help!

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Fleur Delacour

Fleur Delacour stopped by our table at Ottawa Comic Con. She’s an adventurous spirit, or else the Goblet wouldn’t have picked her for the Triwizard Tournament.

I adore her hat!

Have you pre-ordered The Cursed Child? Are you planning on going to a midnight release party? We’re going to Pinecrest Chapters. I’m going to have to take a nap so that I can stay up so late! Will we see any of you there?

My 2016 Resolutions – Mid Year Review

It’s that time of year again; the one where I check my resolutions and see how optimistic I was feeling when I made them.

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1. Write 500 Words a day

½ Accomplished

I’ll give myself partial credit for this one. I haven’t been great at it but I’ve been writing something.

2. Complete Everdome before April

Failed

Ouch… I finished it before July… only 1 and a half months late. But I did finish.

3. Start and Finish a New Novel

Not Yet Accomplished

I’m not sure I’ll finish this year but I’ll certainly start something. As much as I love the disaster movie idea I’m leaning towards a First Person Adventure or a Time Travel love story; maybe a Middle school Novel about being a monster.

I have lots of plans!

4. Read 30 Books

On Track

Goodreads says I’m at 13 for the year. I should be at 14 by the end of this month with means I’m only a little behind. Should be easy? Who knows how much reading I’ll get done with Dragon? Although I do plan on reading to her at night before bed.

5. Write a Monthly or Bimonthly Serial Story

On Track

If you haven’t read Wargrave Island, my mystery serial story, go check it out. I’ve written 6 of 12 parts and people are dying fast.

6. Test, Produce, and Develop a total of 16 Coffee flavours

Success!

I have officially done 16 flavours and I have 2 others I’m playing with.

Check out all our flavours!

7. Develop a simple concept for a Youtube show.

Not Yet Accomplished

So… I have a concept. I have the software. I just haven’t had the time to refine it yet.

8. Playtest the various stages of FADDS and prepare it for submission in 2017

On Track

This is going REALLY well. We’ve tested the early levels and they work beautifully. The mid levels are coming along well and this fall I’ll run oneshots for the higher levels.

The next step is editing for me. I need to go through the book a few times and clean up the language and standardize the wording.

9. Update JenEric-Designs.ca and add a proper webstore.

On Track

I’ve done some major upgrades. Even added a Newsletter. I’m slowing adding more functionality.

There are big changes coming to JenEric Designs. If you want to find out what they are sign up for our Newsletter.

10. Prepare Memories of Faust for submission *New*

For those that don’t know. My first book A Study in Aether has been bought by Renaissance Press yay!

The sequel is a little darker and unfortunately more complex. It needs work and I’m planning on doing some heavy edits later in the summer.

 

So out of ten we have only 1 failure and most are still possible. It’s ambitious but I’m hoping I’ll make it. If I don’t, I’ll just blame Dragon (I’m kidding… probably).

 

How are you doing with your New Year’s Resolutions?

Éric

Tokyo news

A couple weeks ago, I found out some pretty amazing news, but then forgot about it, because apparently that is how my brain works. *sigh*

However, an article popped up on Facebook yesterday, and it reminded me of the exciting news, so now I can share it with you!

Do you like books? This new hostel in Tokyo is 1,000% for you!

The Book and Bed hostel in Tokyo. Image from www.bookandbedtokyo.com
The Book and Bed hostel in Tokyo. Image from www.bookandbedtokyo.com

Although definitely not luxurious, this quirky spot is sure to delight book lovers, who are allowed to read the 1,700 books that line the shelves of this hostel, and then drop off to sleep behind the bookcases in a little nook.

This charming hostel has only been open for (approximately) a year, but it’s been getting excellent reviews. If you’re heading to Tokyo, I recommend spending at least one night here!

If you’d like help booking this trip (or others!). You can contact Jennifer Desmarais through Orleans Travel. jennifer.desmarais@orleanstravel.ca

My Resolutions for 2016

It’s December 21st, and 2015 is coming to an end. It’s been a year filled with awesome and not so awesome.

Last week I did a review of my 2015 resolutions. I overreached but still accomplished more than I expected.

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My resolutions are goals not ways to change myself. Here are my 2016 Resolutions:

1. Write 500 words a day

It’s been on my list for the past 3 years and it’s worked out pretty well.

2. Complete Everdome before April

I need to finish this novel. Only 20,000 ish words left.

3. Start and finish a new novel

I haven’t decided what I’m writing, I have ideas for a Disaster/Superhero book, which would be awesome, but I’m a little sick of the multiple character novels. I also have the seeds of a post-war fantasy novel. That’s not to mention that I have a large chunk of The Hounds of Bakerville plotted out.

Who know what it’ll be. I have a file of 20+ novel ideas. I’ll decide later.

4. Read 30 books

I find reading extremely cathartic, inspirational, and fun. Unfortunately, sometimes I have to force myself to actually do it. I’m on 31 for this year and that’s good with me.

5. Write a Monthly or Bimonthly Serial Story

I already have 3 options for this. Expect a vote by end of January at the latest.

Here are the three Options so far (There will be more):

6. Test, Produce, and Develop a total of 16 Coffee flavours

Currently we have 10 different flavours available. I’d like to have 3 Standard flavours that we have every CON and 2-4 slots that rotate depending on the size of the event. If you’d like to vote on our CORE (Coffee Offered Regular at Events) flavours, go vote here.

7. Develop a simple concept for a Youtube show.

I really want to take part in the world of vlogging and video. I love the medium and despite my missing this for 3 years now, I think I’ll try again.

8. Playtest the various stages of FADDS and prepare it for submission in 2017

I’ve been working on FADDS (Four Attribute Dual Dodecahedron System) for a long time now and it’s in version 6 and I think it’s close to being where and what I want from a pen and paper RPG.

A publisher has shown mild interest in it and I know of a few others that are actively seeking game systems. If I can get through the playtests and fix it up I should be ready by early to mid-2017 to submit it.

9. Update JenEric-Designs.ca and add a proper webstore.

I’m going to try and take a few days this year to make the site more visually appealing and make it easier to find things like stories.

 

See, 9 is a little less ambitious than 10.

May all your resolutions be worth the effort you put into them.

Happy Solstice and Yule everyone,

Éric

Can-Con Report 2015

Hello My Imaginary Friends,

If you hear loud snoring coming from downtown Ottawa, know that I’ve fallen asleep at my desk. Between conventions and various stresses I haven’t slept much and when I have, it’s been filled nightmares.

I know what I’ve been stressing about and I’m dealing with it; both from the “let’s get this done so I stop stressing” and the “must learn to deal with stress” points of view.

One big stress, which shouldn’t have been, was Can-Con. Between selling, attending, and pitching novels, I was wired the entire three days.

Panels

Since I felt guilty going to panels when I should be selling, I only went to eight panels. Here’s a basic rundown:

Backstories and the Development of Villains

This panel mostly revolved around the difference between Villains, Evil-Overlords, and Antagonists. A lot of good advice on how to avoid creating cardboard cut-out villains.

It’s a great panel for someone who wants to write Bond or Adventure Fantasy.

“Nobody is a villain in their own story. We’re all the heroes of our own stories.” – George R. R. Martin

Preparing to Pitch Novels

This panel prepared me for my pitches, but I didn’t learn anything earth shattering.

Whether you pitch or submit, always remember:

  • Read the Guidelines
  • Follow the Guidelines
  • Present yourself professionally
  • Don’t beg, threaten, or cajole.
  • Be passionate about your story because if you aren’t, no one else will.

Serialization Past and Present

Everyone agreed that Serialization isn’t a fad and is probably here to stay. It’s also something that is changing quickly.

There are two major ways of serializing, distributing a finished and edited project, and writing it as time goes by.

The panelists agreed that the second way was less desirable because it meant less ability to edit and a higher chance of writing yourself into a corner.

I like the challenge of writing a serial novel/story as you go. If you don’t believe me, ask Felix Felicis, or Rachel of Only Human. However these aren’t stories that I’m writing for publication. I’m writing them for practise and enjoyment.

The Frontiers of Young Adult Fiction

This panel spoke a lot about normalization and the dangers of not giving social issues enough consideration. It’s not easy for someone like me (Cis-White-Male) to fully understand anything but my own experiences, but the panel seemed to think that with proper research and editing it’s important to have a diverse cast of characters.

This was something I already try to do as much as possible.

Advice to Aspiring Writers on the Craft

My wife and I both went to this panel, but I barely remember it. It must have been Saturday. The one thing I remember is the panellists explaining that there isn’t one way to write. All those “Rules” are really just suggestions and tools that you can use.

There seems to be only one golden rule of writing and that’s to finish what you start.

Fantasy Novels: A Readers’ Panel

The panel was mostly the panelists geeking out on their favourite authors. There were a lot of book names and author names bandied about.

It was very skewed towards Epic fantasy, Dark fantasy, and Literary fantasy; with little to no mention of a lot of the other subgenres of fantasy. I don’t think this was the panelists’ fault so much as the fact that they all wrote and read in those sub-genres and didn’t know that much about the others.

I was extremely happy to have Tamora Pierce mentioned in the positive.

Two things that seriously annoyed me were the lack of mention of Terry Pratchett and one panelists’ utter disdain for Urban Fantasy and Supernatural Romance.

Hopefully, there will be a better mix of expertise in future years. I would love to be on this panel.

Police Procedure: Busting Myths and Preconceptions

Wow! This was by far the most educational panel I went too. The presenter was engaging, fun, and informative. It helped me separate the major fiction of police dramas with real life.

I really hope they have him back next year, maybe for a double length panel.

Crowd-Funding

I considered crowd funding a book, but it seemed like more work than self-publishing it. I eventually dropped the idea because of the cost of editing. Trust me, a good editor is worth it. REALLY worth it! I love my beta-readers but it’s just not the same thing.

The panel did give me a few ideas for a crowdfunding project I have in mind for spring. Don’t worry. You’ll hear about it Ad-nausea in 2016.

More Panels

Check out S.M. Carrière’s write up of the panels that they were on and attended.

Parasomnia

This year’s Resolutions had submit Parasomnia to 3 agents and 3 publishers. I half accomplished that already.

I had three pitches to three different publishers and all three agreed to read my book. Two were extremely excited. Now it’s a waiting game. I’ve decided to skip the agents – I don’t need them.

So if you’re counting, that’s 2 novels with publishers right now. Hopefully I’ll hear by March if any of them will publish my books.

*Keep your fingers crossed*

Coffee

One of my thrills for the weekend was seeing authors, editors, publishers, and people, whom I greatly respect, loving my coffee.

So far most people love the coffee I’ve been roasting and it makes me really happy to hear. It’s been a little over a year since I started roasting my own and almost a year since I started selling.

After Pop-Expo I will sit down and see if it’s been financially worth it. If it has, I will consider expanding my operation. If it hasn’t, I’ll see what I can do to make it profitable without sacrificing quality.

Overall

This is one of my favourite Conventions. I love it so much!

I’m still not sure if I want to be a vendor, pitch a book, and attend panels next year but we’ll see. Maybe I’ll be able to add panelist to the list…

 

If you like speculative or genre literature, this really is the Con for you.

Thank you to the organizers and see you next year!

 

Éric

Musings on Psychopathy

I read this article and it made me think and my professions. (I’m stretching the definition of profession here.) Civil Servant is tenth on the list but both Layout Artist and Fiction Writer aren’t. As far as Layout Artist goes, there aren’t that many of us and there could easily be a large amount of Psychopaths in the business.

Fiction writing however isn’t on the list and I don’t think it would be on the top 1000. I could be wrong but every fiction writer I’ve met has a strong empathy and understanding of emotions and others. From my exhaustive research. It seems that “antisocial personality disorder” (Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders) or “dissocial personality disorder” (World Health Organization) is a condition that limits or prevents someone from being empathic and emotional.

Empathy and emotion are two attributes that every political alignment of author seem to have in spades. Writing a character is intensely empathic, you have to think differently and feel differently. Its can sometime, in extreme cases, cause and author to break down.

I don’t think there are no psychopaths in the fiction writing world but I think it’s they are rare.

If you’re interested in fiction staring a psychopath check out the The John Cleaver Series By Dan Wells. It’s both intense and amazingly well written. The protagonist has to deal with his own Psychopathy and a real psychopath killing people.

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What do you make of it? Was your profession on the list?

Éric

Recommendation Thursday – Prose in the Park

prose in the parkBoth parts of JenEric Designs will be attending Prose in the Park this Saturday.

If you like reading, writing, or being around books… this is the place for you. A lot of awesome authors will be there go check out the Programme. I’m particularly excited for the Imagine (Fantasy Panel).

It looks like the weather will cooperate.

Hope to see you there!