Blush: Reach Out

Merry Christmas and Happy Holidays to all of you.

Today, I would like to share a few resources for mental health and crisis assistance. While that may seem like a depressing conversation for such a joyful holiday, I want to acknowledge that there are people who are struggling, and might be having a tougher time than usual because of it being a holiday.

All resources are geared towards Ottawa and Canada. If you need help, please don’t hesitate to either google your own city, or reach out to people who can help you.

Ottawa:
Distress Centre of Ottawa and Region (24/7 mental health assistance)
Midwifery Collective of Ottawa (Postpartum depression)
eMental Health (variety of crisis support lines)
Ottawa Public Health (mental health and substance use resource list)

Canada:
Government of Canada (mental health support lines)
Crisis Text Line (24/7 text support)
Canadian Mental Health Association (multiple programs and services)

Please know that you are not alone. There are people who care. Reach out to them.

If you’re enjoying the Blush blogs, consider learning more with Blush: The Card Game from Renaissance Press.

Winnie the Pooh exhibit

If you love Winnie the Pooh, you’re going to want to visit Toronto this spring or summer.

From March 7 to August 3, 2020, the Royal Ontario Museum is going to be hosting Winnie-the-Pooh: Exploring a Classic, with immersive and interactive activities for all ages.

Toronto is the only Canadian city that the exhibit will be visiting, so make your plans to visit now!

You can contact Jennifer Desmarais through Orleans Travel. jennifer.desmarais@orleanstravel.ca

Dr Seuss Experience

If you find yourself in Toronto between now and January 5th, and love Dr Seuss, I hope you’ve bought tickets to the Dr Seuss Experience at Square One!

There are many beautiful and interactive exhibits, as well as plenty of opportunities for selfies amongst the scenes and with characters.

Image of the Truffula trees. Picture from blogto.com

Check it out here and here and buy your tickets before they sell out!

You can contact Jennifer Desmarais through Orleans Travel. jennifer.desmarais@orleanstravel.ca

Canadian publishing… WTF?

Hello My Imaginary friends,

Last Thursday I got an email from our wonderful publisher checking in to make sure everyone was okay after, “a tumultuous week for Canadian speculative fiction writers”.

I’m on parental leave and not as involved online as normal, also I’m kinda isolated from the larger writing community outside of events. I had no idea what was going on.

Holy Expletive did I wish I didn’t know after I read up on it. It made me sick and more than a little angry. Here’s a quick clean description from S. M. Carrière:

It began with accusations of non-payment and verbal attacks levelled against ChiZine Publishing by author Ed Kurtz.

Then things exploded.  Stories by others associated with the press, either having “worked” for (I put worked in quotation marks, because payment was not something they often did) or volunteered with them, and other authors expression concerns about behaviour and non-payment.  Some of it was truly sickening; verbal and emotional abuse that I found extraordinarily triggering. […]

Thoughts on a Bloody Mess – S. M. Carrière

If you really want to learn more you can check out this blog post by High Fever Books. It’s comprehensive and is still updating with information.

I’ve had very little dealings with ChiZine… Mostly the reading series that was run in Ottawa. The reading series in Ottawa was run by some fantastic people and I’m extremely happy that they don’t seem implicated in the terribleness.

When I first met the publishers, I thought they were the rockstars of publishing. They had edgy cool books, snarky attitudes, and a slight punk vibe. I pitched my first novel to them and was shocked that they liked the pitch.

Over the next two years, I periodically emailed about my submission, always getting emails about how busy they were. It was a stark contrast from Renaissance Press that actually published the novel. They apologized for taking too long (less then 3 months) and even walked me through what I should do to improve the novel.

I asked Sandra about the submission in person at the next years’ Can-Con and she replied curtly that, they’d get to it when they had a chance. From that moment on, she and Brett pretty much ignored me. I was on a panel at Limestone Expo and Sandra spent most of the time talking over me and interrupting the other panelists. I mostly tried to avoid them after that. I assumed it was me. I’m not everyone’s cup of tea and can rub some the wrong way.

I don’t know all the details, but there are a lot of people speaking out about WAY worse things that ChiZine has been involved. It’s seriously disturbing how bad some of the stuff being discussed is.

In case it’s not clear. I believe and support those speaking out.

In times like these, I truly appreciate my publisher. Renaissance isn’t the biggest, nor is it the fastest growing, but damn do they take care of their authors. They have a careful, people-oriented approach to publishing that I greatly appreciate.

I have nothing new to add to the conversation, but I do want to repeat two important messages:

  1. Don’t punish the writers for their publisher.
  2. Don’t assume that everyone involved with ChiZine knew what happened or were involved. There are some genuinely lovely people who were involved with the company that might not have been involved in the horrible behaviour.

Be kind, my friends,

Éric