Mid-Year Review of Éric’s 2022 New Year’s Resolutions

Hello my Imaginary Friends,

It’s been an exciting six months and by that, I mean blarg. I still find it disturbing how much of the world is convinced the pandemic is over. Hopefully soon, we’ll see a vaccine for infants approved in Canada. Then I will feel much better, but I still am going to continue to be careful. It will be a while before I give up my mask.

Anyway, let’s see how I’m doing with my resolutions!

Writing

1. Write a monthly serial story (Succeeding)

The hardest part about this year’s serial story is not writing ahead. Currently, as of this writing, dealing with carpal tunnel, that might not be a problem. Read from the beginning of the Aetherverse.

2. Write Guise and Dolls Faymous with Jen (Success)

This went famously (haha). I loved writing this story and I’m glad that it’s now vacated that part of my brain that it’s been occupying for the past decade. Unfortunately, a spin-off series has decided to move in.

3. Finish Copper Tarnish (Pending)

Pending health, I have no idea how this is going to go. Hopefully I’ll be able to finish it, but if not, I’m not going to risk injuring myself worse over it.

4. Write book 3 of The Gates of Westmeath with Jen (Pending)

Unlike Copper Tarnish, this book starts from scratch/random jot notes, and won’t need heavy line-editing before I start, so I should be able to do this one with dictation software. I hope.

5. Keep Working on FADDS (Succeeding)

I created an entire ridiculously complex module for mixing components that was just way too much. So, I remade it in a simpler way and it seems to be working really well. I’m continuing to tweak and add more monsters as I go. Mostly, I’m just having fun with the system and my players.

JenEric Designs and Coffee

6. Ensure 5+ days of updates (Succeeding)

You may be sensing a theme, but depending on health issues, we may be dropping to four days a week, but not yet, and I don’t know. So we’ll see.

7. Write a movie review each week (Succeeding)

So far, so good. I might need to create a template to copy-paste to make my life easier.

8. Design and release a new flavour and redesign Green Apple (Pending)

Ottawa ComicCon is happening in September. This one will depend on how my health is. It’s not the highest priority; that will be roasting and packing ComicCon levels of coffee.

Personal

9. Read 5 Books (Pending)

Other than books that I’ve written or that Jen wrote, I’m a little behind on this. As in, halfway through the first book. But for some reason, I forsee having more chances to read (if Jen will let me).

10. Be More Patient (shrug)

Honestly, I have no idea how I’m doing on this one. I do know that I’m a terrible injured/sick person. Feeling like I’m letting people down makes me grumpy.

11. Don’t over stress (Failing)

I have developed tools to help me de-stress. Playing ukulele, reading, writing, playing video games, and cooking. The only one of those that I can currently do without hurting myself is reading. Let’s hope this dictation software works and doesn’t add to the stress.

My work is also irrationally pushing a return to the office and that’s still causing lots of stress with an unvaccinated toddler. HURRY THE F UP, HEALTH CANADA!

12. Practice bass or ukulele 2-3 times a week (Failing)

I was doing well with this. I even memorized the Spider-man theme on the bass and wrote a song for the ukulele. Unfortunately, I won’t be able to do this for a while.


The good news, I haven’t utterly failed at anything yet and I have a few Successes.

I’m going to take that as a positive and just do what I can for the rest of the year.

How are your resolutions going?

Éric

Dear Pegasus – Dresses

Dear Pegasus,

You were assigned male at birth, well actually, at ultrasound.

You’re still discovering what you like and who you are. Somedays peanut butter sandwiches are “disgusting” and other days they’re the best thing in the world.

There are some things that you are firm on for now; you love Doctor Who, blueberries, your sister, Encanto, and dresses.

A few weeks ago, you sat and had a serious conversation with your mum. You asked if you could wear a dress for your birthday. One of the pretty dresses that Grannie made.

I’m embarrassed to say that my first instinct was to say no. Your mum reacted quicker than I did and said yes with only a little hesitation. I was a little worried at first about how people would react, how family might react, but a few days later we got a dress from Grannie (who was overjoyed someone else would get to wear the dresses that she worked so hard on.)

You’ve worn a few dresses now and honestly, it doesn’t feel weird. I’m glad you get the chance to wear pretty things. It’s something I remember wanting to do when I was young, but felt too embarrassed to ask.

I asked you tonight if you thought you were a boy or a girl and you answered, “Neither. I’m Pegasus.” (Okay, you said your name, not Pegasus.) I asked if you wanted me to use he, she, or they and you repeated, “I’m just Pegasus.” So that was fine. We’ll revisit that another time.

I’m not sure if you’ll grow up wanting to wear dresses, realize your trans, or just not care and do what you want. We’ll support you no matter what.

I really hope the world you grow up in gets better. A lot of us are trying, but even the most progressive among us have to step back and think about what we’re doing. It’s also important to listen to those that have come before.

No matter what you decide, you’re our child and we love you,

Your trying Papa. (Yes, yes, in both senses of the word trying.)

Co-Writing (or: Thank you Jen)

Hello My Imaginary Friends,

I’ve been writing serial stories yearly for 8 years, novels for 14, and short stories for as long as I can remember. However, in 2018, I started writing Elizabeth 4 and it broke me. I’m not sure what it was, but I just couldn’t write. I tried taking a break and writing something else and that got me a few chapters in an unfinished book.

By the time my son was born in June 2019, I had pretty much given up on the novel. It was complicated and emotional. I used plenty of excuses and spent more time daydreaming about other stories and feeling guilty.

Then the pandemic happened and everything seemed too dark.

When Dragon started school, Jen started reading, and editing, Elizabeth 4. To my surprise (because I truly thought it was crap) she loved it.

I started to painfully write it again, hoping not to break my streak of publishing a book a year.

She then asked to read A Copper Tarnish. I knew this one was good, but needed work (still needs an ending). She liked the part with two characters I’d borrowed from an old D&D game.

Several times I considered just giving up. Writing sessions that got me fifty words, but she kept encouraging me.

I had an idea for a novel starring those two characters and I told her. For what felt like a long time, but was probably a month max, I started working myself up to ask if she wanted to write it with me.

When I finally asked, she seemed enthusiastic. My writing for Elizabeth got easier.

We decided to write the book in January 2021 and talked about it for the next few months. When the time came, I put Elizabeth aside, again, and we furiously wrote a book in two and a half months.

The creativity and joy of sharing the story with her made writing seem easy. I still felt insecure about the quality of my writing, but the speed was there and at least we’d accomplished something. Now, with some distance, I’m fairly sure it’s one of the best books I’ve ever written.

Jen makes my writing better, both because of her support and because of her collaboration. There would be no Elizabeth 4 without her and it’s extremely possible there wouldn’t have been another novel by me for a while, if ever.

Thank you Jen. You are a talented, evocative, and exciting writer and I am extremely lucky and grateful to have her as a partner and a co-author. Love you!

Stay safe and be kind,

Èric

Taking care

Hello My Imaginary Friends,

As a follow-up to my post about Long Covid, I want to add a few things.

There are multiple other things that are also affecting me and I realize I might have sounded a little dour. I’m okay and I’m taking steps to make things better for me.

I’m trying to do things that let me rest and don’t hurt me more. It’s hard, because sometimes giving my kids Sunday eggos with strawberries instead of pancakes feels like failure, sometimes writing a post and then reading a little feels like laziness, and sometimes taking a warm shower instead of practising music feels self-indulgent.

I’m going to try and give myself some slack. As I mentioned in my post about burnout, it’s really hard to fight the guilt of doing something for me. I’m going to try and hopefully it’ll get easier.

What am I doing you ask?

All joking aside, I’m working on that. I’ll figure it out. I have a wonderful wife and family to help.

Well, I should go read. I have a book to finish.

Be kind and stay safe,

Éric

Éric’s 2022 New Year’s Resolutions

Hello 2022! (Glances around nervously)

2021 was a surreal year, both because I finished writing 4 books and because it started to sink in that this whole pandemic is going to last longer than I expected.

Here’s to hoping 2022 is better.

My resolutions are not breakable promises, but goals that I hope to achieve.

Changing the Outlook Heart and Brain Comics The Awkward Yeti

Writing

1. Write a monthly serial story

It’s going to be my 9th year in a row doing this and I’m really excited for this year’s story. Get ready to see the beginning of the Aetherverse.

2. Write Guise and Dolls with Jen

After over a decade of waiting, I’m finally going to write this one. Jen’s going to help me and I can’t wait. This will be a more complicated book for us than those we’ve written before because we don’t have an outline in advance.

3. Finish Copper Tarnish

I started this book in November 2016. It’s time to finish it and get the darned story out of my head.

4. Write book 3 of The Gates of Westmeath with Jen

This is super ambitious, but we managed it last year so I’m hoping.

5. Keep Working on FADDS

I’m loving this system and I think it’s a few years (at the rate I’m going) before it’s ready to submit. I’d like to do a cleanup of the monster rules and maybe a reread of the spelling and grammar, but as long as I’m adding stuff, I’m good.

JenEric Designs and Coffee

6. Ensure 5+ days of updates

I’m going to do my best to keep our 5 day a week schedule. We’re in a nice little groove, so I think it’ll go okay. If things change, I’ll let you know.

7. Write a movie review each week

I’ve managed it two years now and I think it’s feasible to do it again. People have told me they like the reviews, so I’ll continue.

8. Design and release a new flavour and redesign Green Apple

In theory, Ottawa ComicCon is supposed to happen in September. I’m not sure what this or future variants will mean for events, but I need to get ready. I’d like to get these done and roast appropriately.

Personal

9. Read 5 Books

I failed miserably at this last year. I’ve lost my dedicated reading time and I need to find another. I love reading and I miss it.

10. Be More Patient

Every year I get a little better and I’m trying really hard not to yell as much. Hopefully I can keep getting calmer and move more towards gentle parenting.

11. Don’t over stress

This will probably be a fail but I need to learn how to destress. I have minor depression and when I spiral I get very stressed, defensive, and insecure. It’s not fun and I need to learn when it happens and treat it like a health issue instead of noticing after I get snippy with my wife.

Beyond that, I also don’t react well physically when I get stressed and I need to learn how to destress for my health.

12. Practice bass or ukulele 2-3 times a week

I got a beautiful Kala U-bass for Christmas and need to use it. I’m hoping for daily, but that won’t happen. I love making pretty noises and I know it helps me destress.


So after 4 years of slowly getting worse at my resolutions, I have made this ambitious list. Let’s hope I can do it and no matter what, I know I’ll have something to show at the end.

I wish for you all you need to complete your resolutions.

Stay safe and be kind,

Éric

Gingerbread House

Hello My Imaginary Friends,

We built a gingerbread house. It was a lot of fun and we all managed to to avoid eating the candy before we were done. (So hard)

I have fond memories of building gingerbread houses with my mom and I think we’re on our third or fourth year in a row now.

As much as I like the tradition of making it, I like even better the tradition of eating it.

As it gets older and harder, I’m the only one who will eat it. I dunk it into my coffee. Yum.

Hope you’re enjoying your traditions this holiday season.

Stay safe and be kind,

Éric

Wish Dragon – JenEric Movie Review

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Hello Cinephiles,

Today we’re talking about the 2021 film Wish Dragon.

Story

An interesting re-imagining of the wishing trope. The main character is adorable and actually as innocent as he seems. The dragon is both funny and has an interesting backstory.

The movie does get bogged down by forced awkwardness and ridiculous drama. The story is at it’s best when it’s exploring family and community and at it’s worst when it veers to close to romance.

Score: 0.5

Characters

The main character is adorable and only does stupid stuff because he’s very trusting of the magical dragon.The dragon is over the top and completely out of his depth. The friend is the definition of dutiful and conflicted about it.

The goon villains are cute and scary while the main villain was a nice surpise.

Score: 1

Dialogue

Clever and funny, but not extremely memorable, the dialogue serves its purpose. There are a few good lines, especially the dialogue between the main characters.

Score: 0.5

Visuals and Music

The movie looks very similar to what other top studios are doing, character design looks pulled from Pearl Studios or Blue Sky Studios. There are moments of pure beauty, however.

The music is lovely and really accentuates the story.

Score: 1

Fun

Overall, the movie is a lot of fun. The kids loved it and other than that annoying middle part, it was a joy to watch. I was excited to have a movie all about friends and felt a little betrayed when they played with the possibility of the characters becoming love interests.

Score: 1

Overall

A wonderful addition to the animated “genie” genre. It is a lot of fun, but sacrifices some depth for awkward humour and a few too many chase scenes. In the end it’s pretty, has a great moral and is fun to watch.

Final Score: 4 Stars out of 5

The Mitchells vs the Machines – JenEric Movie Review

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Hello Cinephiles,

Today we’re talking about the 2021 film The Mitchells vs the Machines.

Story

Most road trip movies rely on the ignorance or poor decision making of the characters. That lends to a sort of cringe comedy that I loved as a kid but can’t stand anymore. This movie turned that trope on its head. Instead the characters are lost in their own worldview and have trouble seeing each other.

The entire movie hinges on the family being a little strange, very lucky, and learning to work together. The plot is mildly predictable, surreal, and so much fun anyway.

Score: 1

Characters

For a movie that gives up grounded mid-way, its characters are infinitely relatable. I felt for each of the Mitchells.

The secondary characters are mild caricatures, but serve a good purpose.

I liked that they adopted the two robots into their family. It’s a nice message that genetics don’t make a family and found family is just as powerful.

The subtle inclusion of a gay main character was refreshing, as was the lack of forced romance.

Score: 1

Dialogue

This movie has so many references to memes and internet culture that it’s impressive. I think that the references will age quickly and probably not well.

The humour is surprisingly clever and the dialogue sometimes much deeper than expected.

Score: 1

Visuals and Music

The animation was done in a style similar to Into the Spiderverse, but with more colourful “internet” things. There were a few times I wanted to pause and just look at all the details and backgrounds. It was stunningly beautiful.

The music was nice and the songs were perfectly chosen. I got a little frustrated with the electronic riff that felt plucked from the Stranger Things intro, but that’s minor.

Score: 1

Fun

The type of movie made it clear that the awkward family drama would have an awesome payoff and it did. This meant that I didn’t spend much time cringing and really enjoyed the ride. The kids were glued to the screen and we all laughed a lot. The giant Furby terrified my 22 month old.

Score: 1

Overall

A good old fashioned road trip and apocalypse movie that ditches the frustrating parts of both. The animation is spectacular and characters relatable. Proper Queer representation and a nod to found family add extra depth to an action-packed and laugh out loud film.

Final Score: 5* Stars out of 5


*A 5 star review doesn’t mean the movie was perfect nor that it is perfect for everyone but it is a movie I believe is as close to perfect as possible.

Build your own crustless quiche

Hello Food loving people,

Some of my favourite memories from being a kid were meals that I got to build with my family but were just for me. Tacos, nachos, and pizza were event meals where we each got to make our own.

I’ve been coming up with other options to do with my kids and even guests. It makes them feel more connected to their meal. I guess it’s an IKEA effect for food.

Quiche is great for this, it can handle almost any extra ingredients, it’s filling, and most people like it.

Recipe-ish

What you need to make it is:

  • Eggs;
  • Milk, cream, Half and Half;
  • Muffin tins;
  • Oil spray; and
  • Fillings.

The important thing to remember is the ratio:

1 Egg + 1/2 cup of cream = 3 muffins with stuff

One caveat I’d have is if you’re using watery veggies like zucchini or mushrooms, you should lower the cream to 1/3.

Cook at 375 for 20-30 minutes.

As far as filling goes, my family’s favourites are: Shrimp, chicken, ham, bacon, onions, garlic, jalapeno, brie cheese, sharp cheddar, mushrooms, zucchini, and broccoli.

There’s no rule as to what you can put in, but all meats should be pre-cooked and I’d recommend cooking the watery veggies too.

The rest is up to you.

Enjoy,

Éric

Covid-19 and Me

Hello My Imaginary Friends,

I’ve been pretty silent about the state of the world the past few weeks. Part of that was being overwhelmed and part of that was being busy.

Ottawa called for people to start self-isolating and working from home starting March 16th. My first day of work after just over eight months of parental leave was the 18th of March. I work for the government in a communications area so I’m considered essential.

I’ve been dealing with going back to work (although I do enjoy working from home), a baby that is teething (AKA not sleeping well), the pandemic, and everything that entails.

My family is in a good place. We have a house, I have a job that will continue to pay me (barring some sort of pheonix crap), and we’re all pretty used to being at home. Our house is filled with movies, games, books, and comfy furniture.

The kids are still too young for school and like I said, I just finished ~8 months of parental leave so we’re all kind of used to being at home. I do miss having people over for D&D, movies, and to chat. I miss going to the cinema, and going for walks with the kids to Walmart or the park. My daughter and wife miss church and we all miss our conventions.

Those are minor inconveniences and I know we are extremely lucky.

My wife asked me to cut her hair. This was right before.

It’s still been hard. I’ve felt like I was on high alert for the past three weeks. I’ve felt terrified while shopping and I’m scared for my friends and family.

I’m starting to calm down but I’m still teary and worried.

This will become normal and when things get better we’ll have hopefully spared much death and heartache.

The implications of what this will change in our world are staggering and a little scary. But that’s another post all together.

Stay home and wash your hands!

Éric