I’m fairly certain I’m still alive

Hello My Imaginary Friends,

I really need to learn that I have to take time off after a convention. They drain me like crazy. After can*con I was exhausted. So what did I decide to do? Do a full week of work and then spend the weekend hosting. I cooked a full turkey dinner on Saturday and brunch for 10 on Sunday.

Monday was rough, Tuesday was worse, and Wednesday I crashed. I was dizzy and nauseated and slept until 11.

I’m feeling better today, mostly, but still a little dizzy, and I’m back at work.

So here’s an update for things and stuff:

Coffee

Things are going well. I’ll be doing some roasting this weekend and/or next weekend to make enough for Ottawa Comic-Con Holiday Edition. We have one more holiday fair after that and we get into holiday quiet time.

It’s been a great year for coffee and I appreciate everyone’s support.

NaNoWriMo

No… Nope… I really shouldn’t… Well fine.

I’ll be doing a modified NaNoWriMo this year to finish Paragenesis: The Copper Tarnish; I have another 20-30 thousand words to write and it’ll be ready for submission.

Everdome

If you’re not excited about it… I am. I have a contract with Renaissance and I’m hoping to get the first edits early next year.

I’m hoping to send this one out to my favourite Urban and Fantasy writers to get a blurb.

This is by far my best book and the easiest to make into an epic movie or TV show… hint hint… Netflix, Amazon, HBO, CBC? Anyone?

FADDS

Most of my projects I write, edit, pass on; but not FADDS. I’ve been editing and fixing this thing for the better part of 8 years. It’s only gotten better.

The first 10 levels are completely balanced and well done. The higher levels I’ll be playtesting this January.

If you’re interested in joining a regular group in 2019, let me know.

Dragon

She’s still fantastically cute and occasionally infuriating.

Well that’s most of the news.

 

Later Days,

Éric

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Dear Dragon – I’m Sorry

Hello Dragon,

You’re half way here. Right now you’re swimming around in your mother as if you were a fish. I can’t feel you move yet, but she does, and it somehow makes you more real.

Dragon19-weeks02

We found out that you’re going to be a girl. At least, your sex designation at birth will be girl.

I have never doubted that I wanted to have you; even when you were a small probability in the far future. I always wanted you. That doesn’t mean I haven’t worried about bringing you into this world.

We (humans) as a race are capable of such horrible things. I will tell you it’s because of fear, insecurity, or sickness, but sometimes it just seems inexplicable. Nothing in all of history has killed more humans than humans themselves. When we don’t attack each other physically, we do it with our minds and words. The world is filled with people who want to make themselves feel better by bringing someone down.

I’m sorry for everything you will have to go through because of other people. Every parent wants to protect their child and hopes these things won’t happen.

There is good in this world though. There is beauty. (and ice cream!) For every terrible thing in this world that humans have created, there is something beautiful. They don’t balance themselves out, but the beauty can help. Music, art, literature, architecture, and science can help you recover. Life is not easy and as a girl it’ll be a little harder.

There are two things I want you to remember. The first is that there’s always hope, as long and you can find the beauty in the world. I will never have to look far for it, as long as I have you and your mother. You are my hope.

The second thing I want you to remember is something I will repeat over and over. Your mother and I love you and we’ll always be there for you when you need it. Life isn’t always fair, humans aren’t always kind, and you will have terrible days; but we will ALWAYS be there for you; even if it’s only in these letters.

Enjoy swimming around and try to stop kicking that nerve that makes your mother uncomfortable.

I love you, Baby Dragon,

Your worried Father

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Basic Update – July 14

The morning heat rushed to embrace me as I left the house. Its touch was warm and soothing to start but quickly it started to suffocate me. As I walked the short walk to the bus the heat threw a blanket of humidity over everything and made the world feel and look like it was under water, without the soothing liquid.

That’s not the start of a story, it’s just my morning commute… blarg. I hate heat. Fall is my favourite season. Give me 5-15 degrees Celsius and I’m happy. I realize it’s only been a few days of 30 degree weather but I’m not a fan.

Other than the heat my weeks are busy with multiple big projects at work, tweaking FADDS from player feedback, and trying to get some writing done. With the constant urgencies at work I’m starting to feel like I’m falling behind on my writing. I think it may be time to start writing at night again. (Yeah I know I was spoiled.)

FADDS is coming around really well. My two major blocks were Magical items and Villains. Last week in the shower I figured out magic items cost and creation.

Villains, Monsters, Fiends, Challenges, opponents, adversaries, bad guys, etc. whatever you want to call them they’re essential to role playing games. My biggest issue with most games is their lack of instructions for making a villain that isn’t a player class. Sometimes I like to have an insanely awesome rat fight my high level characters. Without making it really big or giving it class levels.
On the flip side as a game master I really don’t want to spend 1 hour or more making a monster that my players will ignore or kill in under 30 seconds.

So the challenge I have is creating a two tiered system, one for genuine big-bads and one for the challenging but quick monsters. All without players knowing the difference.

Building a game system is difficult but really exciting. I’ve spent so many hours in front of a screen that I can say with authority, get yourself computer glasses. I love the feeling I get when everyone is having fun and the game is moving forward. It’s great.

Éric

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The 16th of September, 2039

Hello,

I have skills, but sometimes I feel utterly useless when it comes to the working world. There aren’t a lot of full time jobs for Layout Artists, which means there’s little to no advancement. I have a good job and I’m good at it, but both the public service and private industry are moving away from print layouts and going straight to website. It’ll take a while before I’m completely obsolete, but it is inevitable.

I got my Pension Statement today. I can retire in 2039 with penalties or 2044 without penalties. I’m lucky that I was hired before they bumped the retirement age by 5 years. So in theory, I’ll be able to retire between 56-61 years of age. Those numbers are scary for me; both my parents died before 60. My plan is to live until 90 so I can yell at kids to get off my space lawn, see the 200th anniversary of confederation, and the 100th anniversary Doctor Who special.

My dream is to make enough money from writing and freelance work to never need to retire. I want to love my work so much that I’ll gladly keep going until I can’t anymore. I’ve been at this seriously for just over 5 years now. It’s a slow business but I’ve:

  • written 5.5 novels,  four of them that I’m proud of;
  • updated my blog regularly for 2 years.;
  • written dozens of stories;
  • designed two role playing games;
  • received rejections from 8 book agents, 3 book publishers, and a dozen magazines or anthologies
  • received one conditional acceptance from a book publisher;
  • made lots of friends that understand (and some that don’t);
  • and drank enough coffee to fill several Olympic pools.

I have a lot going for me, but sometimes it’s important to list the things I’ve done, if only to prove to myself that I haven’t been idle or wasteful.

One of the issues with writing, or any other creative calling, is the constant fear that you’re wasting your time. Even when you succeed it’s not perfect.

It’s not always easy to have faith, especially when the odds always seem against you. I know I’m a good writer and I know my stories are fun. All I can do it keep working and hope for the best.

I’ll get there! (Hopefully before 2039)

Thank you, my imaginary and not so imaginary friends, for everything, but mostly thank you for listening.

 

In what dramatic way would you quit your job if you could?

Éric

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Stressed is Desserts Backwards. Cake for Everyone!

Good Morning my Imaginary Friends,

I bought antacids today. I only get heartburn for three reasons, Sickness, Coconut Oil, or stress.

Stress is one of the hardest things to deal with. It changes the way a person thinks, acts, and feels. It can be a great motivator or a poison that slowly eats away at your insides.

A lot of people talk about dealing with stress. I’m fairly certain the people who say that have no idea what stress really feels like. Unfortunately stress is completely subjective. What causes stress, how it affects you, and how much you can handle changes from person to person.

As if stress wasn’t troublesome enough it loves to feed off of other conditions. Anxiety can make stress so much worse that it’s almost paralyzing.

So why am I stressed? It’s the end of the fiscal year for work and things are crazy. I’ve been told several times this month (Yeah the past 5 days) that my job is useless and unnecessary. I’ve also been told several times that I’m doing it wrong. Always from clients, my coworkers and bosses are awesome and stand up for me but it still hurts and makes every project a trial. (Let’s not think of the self-doubt comments like that cause.)

Because work has been insane I also haven’t had the chance to write regularly. Stress means I don’t sleep well which means I have a harder time reading. It’s a vicious cycle. I have a four day weekend starting tomorrow that will help relax me.

When you’re stressed people will give you advice and platitudes. I know because it’s what I want to do. Remember that they aren’t trying to make you feel bad they’re just feeling helpless and want to help. The best way to show your support for someone who is stressed is to tell them you’re there for them. A hug helps if you’re both ok with that.

Stress is part of life and I don’t have any magic spell to get rid of it. This time next month It’ll be over and I’ll feel better. untitled

What do you do to de-stress?

Live long and prosper my friends,

Éric

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We’re a Team (Or why my Wife does the things I don’t want to.)

My wife went to New York last week and I was hit by the realization that I no longer have the complete skills it takes to survive alone.

Ok maybe I’m exaggerating but the fact that we’ve each specialized in certain tasks becomes more and more evident every year.

This might seems confusing or odd but when your partner is willing, and good, at doing something then it’s natural to let them do it. It frees your time and energy to do other things that you’re good at instead.

In a large group, my wife will do more talking that I will, no matter what group it is. She’s much better at approaching people at events.

On the flip side if we’re in a store I will automatically take the lead and speak with the staff.

There are countless other little things, like how she remembers people’s birthdays and reminds me.

This is an interesting phenomenon and makes me wonder if a lot of failed partnerships (romantic, business, friend, etc) are due to the fact that people don’t want to give up, or take, control of the same things.

Let’s say you ran a bakery and you loved kneading the bread but hated mixing it. If your partner was ok to mix it but wanted to knead it too, you’d have to compromise or tensions would be the only things rising. (Bread puns dough not get old.)

Maybe it’s not just about what comes naturally but what you’re willing to do even when you don’t want to.

Does this form of partnering, where you let the other do the stuff their better at, cause a loss of self or opportunities for self-discovery?

In theory it’s only by failing that we learn from our mistakes but if there’s someone there to help us prevent the mistakes does that mean we’re not learning? Does letting someone else remember all the details of Lord of the Rings make me less of a fan?

Good questions to ask. I obviously have a biased view. I think that having my wife do things that she’s good at, frees me up to do things I won’t be able too. Sometimes that ends terribly, like the time I decided to try and learn metal working (our poor table). And sometimes it ends well, like the time I decided to learn how to roast and flavour my own coffee (the end product is yummy, not sure if it’ll be profitable yet).

 

These are the types of things I think about while roasting coffee for 10+ hours.

Is there a task that your partner (business, Romantic, etc) takes care of that you’re extremely thankful you don’t need to do?

Eric

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Being Happy.*Grumble*

[youtube https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=d-diB65scQU&w=420&h=315]

You may not know it but I’m a grumpy man. Optimistic but grumpy. Our world is filled with great beauty and horrible things.

Lately I’ve noticed the #100HappyDays trend on my tumblr and facebook pages. I’m torn in my feelings for it. I do honestly believe that it’s important to see the beauty in life but I’m not sure if happy is necessarily the best thing.

What makes us happy, what we appreciate, and what enriches our lives isn’t always the same thing. The book, “The Fault in our Stars” didn’t make me happy but I saw the beauty in it and enjoyed it.

If you’re unhappy I certainly think you should look for the positive in your life.

Sometimes I like being unhappy, grumpy, or sad. It’s ok to feel bad. “Pain demands to be felt.”

I think this challenge encourages an unhealthy attitude. Being happy at all times is impossible. Therefore it will cause you to feel guilty for not being happy when you have every right to be upset.

Not to mention the self-editing that people would do with their pictures. “Oh I posted a picture of Coffee yesterday, Today I should do something else.” Or the critics, “Another picture of his/her food or children yuck.”

I fully admit that I might be wrong but it seems to me that instead of encouraging people to find the good in their life, it encourages people to fake happiness.

What do you think? Am I just an old grumpy flibbertigibbet?

Until later my Imaginary Friends,

Éric

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Screw Money Time is Knowledge

John Lennon

You were only killing time and it’ll kill you right back / Come on! come on! / It’s time to burn up the fuse / You’ve got nothing to do and even less to lose
– Meatloaf “Out Of The Frying Pan”

Wasting Time

Have you ever thought about a project, game, tv show, series of movies, or book and thought, “Dang! That was a large chunk of my life.”

I read an average of 15 hours a week (Fiction, articles, news, facebook). I read much more fiction in grade school and high school and almost finished an English degree in university. If you stretch that over my entire life (24 years of which I read regularly) that’s 18,720 hours or just over 2 years of my life (It’s probably a little higher than that). Some would say I’ve been slacking that’s only 1/18th of my life.

I’m sure if you looked into my other hobbies (Writing, TV, Movies, Tabletop games, Video games, Tabletop role playing games, acting, and talking) you’d find that it’s a huge part of my life as I am a “ GamingBuff

Is all that a waste of time? Does my deep seeded love and obsession with stories “Wasting Time”?

If you know me you’ll already know that I don’t think it was but I hear so many people accusing activities of being a waste of time.

I’ve seen every Star Trek episode ever aired (Yes including the Animated Series) does that mean I’ve wasted over 600 hours not counting the movies? I don’t think so, I think it made me think throughout the 6 series. It challenged my idea of humanity, morals, and various other concepts.

“Well that’s Star Trek,” I hear you thinking. It’s not. Any story has something in it to make you think and challenge your preconceptions about the world. Even if all you have to think is how bad this story is and how you could fix it.

I think for something to be worth your time, it needs to have two things:

1. An idea or lesson (Something to make you think)

2. Fun (Something that you enjoy)

If you read my book or movie reviews you know I’ll talk about “important” stories that I didn’t enjoy but that I believe are wonderful. It means I didn’t enjoy it but it made me think. These are often great works that are too painful for me to re-watch but I feel that I’ve grown while watching/reading them.

So my imaginary friends, next time someone tells you to get your nose out of a book, your ass off the couch, your head from a game, or your hand off the polyhedral dice, and stop wasting time. Ask them what is more important than learning about your world and yourself through its best, worst, and average stories. (I’d also apply this to Sports, Travelling, and Creating.)

Until later, remember to see your world through a critical eye.

Analyze, Understand, and Grow!

John Lennon

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The Past was like Totally Better

Nostalgia: Sentimental longing for or regretful memory of a period of the past, esp. one in an individual’s own lifetime; (also) sentimental imagining or evocation of a period of the past. – Oxford English Dictionary

Someday we’ll look back on today and think how wonderful the world was and how horrible it has become. I can say that without exaggeration because it’s already happened. It’s happening right now. (I’m looking at you!)

I think it’s part of human nature that we idolize a time where we think we were happier, where life was simpler, where all the horrible things had yet to happen. We latch onto the horrible things in our lives now and glorify the good things of the past.

It’s not that we forget the bad things but their bite lessens with time. We can see it with less bias. There are two quotes that come to mind and I’ll say upfront that I disagree with Doctor Who.

“Great men are forged in fire, it is the privilege of lesser men to light the flame” – 50th anniversary of Doctor Who

“Saruman believes it is only great power that can hold evil in check, but that is not what I have found. I’ve found it is the small everyday deeds of ordinary folk that keep the darkness at bay… small acts of kindness, and love.” – Gandalf, The Hobbit: An Unexpected Journey

These two quotes define our cultures beliefs on life. Fire, turmoil, battle, horror, etcetera are what creates great people. It is what makes exciting stories but not people. We don’t define ourselves by our hardships but our successes. When we don’t, we run into trouble.

Back to nostalgia… Nostalgia is our way of whitewashing our past and making sure we mostly remember the good stuff. It’s not that we want to forget the bad but that we want to concentrate on the good. We also tend to make a big deal about stuff that we won’t find important in the future.

A good example for me is writing. When I’m writing I feel stressed to be writing, but excited. I also feel ridiculously frustrated when I first edit. When all is said and done and I have an “almost” finished book (I say almost because my mind will never let me finish. I can always do more.) I feel amazing and only remember the excitement and elation of writing.

In some cases nostalgia is right but in a lot of cases it’s not. The world isn’t worse off than it was twenty years ago. The nineties wasn’t a better time. The internet and technology isn’t leading us to a horrible brain melting doom.

Nostalgia is great, especially with a drink and an old friend, but next time you find yourself saying, “When I was a kid…” stop and try to think of the good things now.

We live in a time of wonder and excitement.

If you need proof:  At the begining of 2014 Biofabrication isn’t Science Fiction.

See you in the New Year my Imaginary Friends!

Éric

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Just Watch Me

It’s the holiday season. For some, that means stress piled on top of stress. For me this year it means I’m ignoring the stress and cuddling up with the good feelings. (And I haven’t even bought my yearly Irish Cream. I swear.) There’s just something so hopeful about this time of year.

Resolutions

Someone once told me to make New Year’s resolutions that you know you can accomplish. Let me give you advice my wonderful Imaginary Friends. Make New Year’s resolutions that you can accomplish, that you can fail, and that you want to accomplish.

I could easily say that this year I’ll lose 30 pounds. It’s possible, I could easily fail, but I don’t really care enough. I could say that I will breathe regularly. It’s possible, and I certainly want to but I can’t really fail. So follow the three guidelines and you’ll have nice, useful, and attainable goals.

Last year I resolved to do three things, Read more, Write regularly, and Post more on this blog. Two out of three ain’t bad right? I managed a novel and 4 short stories. Read 31 books and I’m on 32. I unfortunately didn’t update much. Sorry.

This year I resolve to do three things again, Write regularly (500 Words a Day of novels or stories), Continue Reading as much (30+ might be tiny compared to my wife who reads that in 3 months), improve my internet presence (See next).

Projects

I have multiple projects in the works, some of which have been in the works for way to long. I’m hoping to get them started and some of them finished this year. Others might take a few years but I’ll get there.

FADDS (Four Attribute Dual Dodecahedron System)

I’ve been working on the rules for FADDS for going on 3 years now. I have most of them worked out and I’m hoping to have a downloadable PDF and hyperlinked SRD finished by the end of 2014. From there I’d like to work on beta testing at Cons and maybe running a kickstarter for the basic rules book.

Elizabeth Investigates (or the Baker City Adventures)

I’m going to be taking a break from writing this series. As much as I love the characters and setting, it’s time to diversify my available products. In other words I’d like another book to shop around. I am waiting to hear from a few publishers about the first book. If they decline it I’ll look into self-publishing. (See previous post for incoherent ramblings.)

Project Kitchen Sink

When I was in high school, one of my favourite books was the Martian Chronicles by Ray Bradbury. I loved it for the structure. It’s effectively a series of short stories that work themselves into a larger narrative.

Lately I’ve been enjoying George R.R. Martin’s multi-character style, where he jumps from one character to another filling in their side of the story. I did this in my latest novel and my beta readers have said they enjoyed it.

Project Kitchen Sink is a going to be a Fantasy novel riddled with elements of science fiction, mystery, and adventure. It’s going to jump from one protagonist to the other in an over-arching plot with multiverse destroying consequences. I want it to be character driven with multiple different styles. I’m aiming for it to be a standalone novel that is roughly 100,000 words. I have 5 characters stories plotted out.

The Dying World

This is a story and world I’ve been working on for about half a year now and I’m hoping to turn it into a generic roleplaying game adventure. It would be a large fantasy/sci-fi adventure that is compatible with any roleplaying system.

This is a ridiculously ambitious project and I might not get started until summer. Before I submit/publish it, I’ll have to run it with at least 1 group.

The basic story will be laid out in a future post.

Youtube

Last year I became obsessed with some youtubers and decided that if I ever get the right equipment, I’d start my own show. I’d like it to take on several formats and post once a month to start and maybe every week when I get good at it.

The formats would include but not be limited to:

  • How Hard Could it be to Cook _____ (Where I cook something I’ve never tried before.)
  • The Canadian Conspiracy Nut (The fictional story of a conspiracy nut who accidently got it right.)
  • Basic Vlog (Where I can rant and talk about stuff.)

Websites

I want to create a website that combines all my online stuff and my wife’s and organizes it coherently.

The main page would be JenEric Designs and that would integrate:

And add:

  • A Youtube Channel,
  • A Store for JenEric Designs,
  • And Forums

The idea would be to have some sort of content being published at least 4-5 times a week.

In Conclusion, We’re Just Starting.

That looks like a lot more than I expected but I look forward to it. I hope this hasn’t been too long and rambling.

I also hope that the followers (or what I call My Imaginary Friends) will follow and grow as the projects get realized.

That’s it for now. Try and enjoy the season and all the joy that it brings.

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