The Interconnectedness of all [book] things

Hello My Imaginary Friends,

I’ve recently finished the second, and sadly last, season of Dirk Gently’s Holistic Detective Agency.

It’s weird, silly, irreverent, and absolutely wonderful. Warning that it is a little gory and there’s lots of death. It was everything I loved about the novel and a little more. I highly recommend it.

One of the main themes of Dirk Gently is that everything is connected. It means the show throws a whole lot of disjointed weirdness and then manages to put it all together in the end.

Interconnectedness

I got a great email from a reader this weekend and I have to say it made a particularly tough weekend so much better.

The email was praising Parasomnia (Available on Amazon and from Renaissance Press). I had mentioned to this reader that Parasomnia and A Study in Aether exist in the same world and they asked for clarification and if we’d see more of that in the future.

I have a plan to connect all my novels. It’s not going to be necessary to have read all of them to follow, but those that do will get an extra treat and information about certain characters.

It won’t be soon; it’ll come to fruition after years of novels but I have plans…. Mhuhahahaa!

Stay tuned and you’ll get all kinds of interconnectedness.

 

Later Days,

Éric

Writing Update

Hello My Imaginary Friends,

Wow. We’re already in February. This year has been going really fast. Lots going on. See updates below.

Elizabeth Investigates: The Sign of Faust (A Baker City Mystery)

This book has gone through 2 editors and is currently with a third. It’ll be released by Renaissance Press this year. The exact date depends on how edits go and how their production schedule looks. This is a direct sequel to A Study in Aether and picks up a few weeks into Elizabeth, Jackie, and Angela’s second semester of grade nine.

Haven’t read the first one yet? Pick it up from Renaissance Press or from Amazon.

Everdome

I have pitched Everdome as the setting for a super secret project and it was accepted. I don’t have a contract in hand so it could change, but I’m really excited about this. Not only does it mean that the world will be used and expanded, but that the book will find a good home.

I’ll let you know more when I do.

Four Attribute Duel Dodecahedron System (FADDS)

I’ve been working on a role playing system for the better part of eight years. I’m at the final play-testing stage before I do a deep edit of the wording and text. After that it can all be submitted to a publisher.

If all goes well with the super secret Everdome project, I might be able to pitch it as the main FADDS fantasy setting.

Devices of Desire: Serial Story

I’ve written the first installment and will be adding another soon. I can’t admit that comments can and will affect the story but…

Go read Devices of Desire!

Elizabeth Investigates: The Mystery of the Dancing Lights (A Baker City Mystery)

This book will be the fourth Elizabeth Investigates and I’m currently at the fifth mark or 20% into the book. At this pace I should hopefully be done by November. That’s a great pace for me and I’d happily write one book a year.


If you need something to read I recommend checking out my Story Archive.

Happy Reading,

Éric

Scripts, Clichés, and Tropes! Oh My! Part 1

Hello My Imaginary Friends,

The Weditor and I were talking about genies the other night around 11pm while the Dragon roared herself to sleep. I’m sure that’s normal conversation for a married couple as they’re going to sleep right?

We were discussing how she had been surprised when a genie turned out to be malicious, and I really wasn’t. It’s not that I’m smarter (Hahaha, far from it). It’s that we were exposed to different kinds of genies. She was mostly exposed to Disney’s Aladdin and I Dream of Genie, while I spent my youth reading horror and adventure stories like Goosebumps and Bruce Coville. We’d been exposed to different Scripts for what it means to interact with a genie.

When I talk about Scripts, I’m talking about tiny stories and definitions that a writer doesn’t need to explain because the audience already knows them. It’s a form of shorthand that we use to create consistancy and fast paced narratives.

When someone reads Genie, they will assume certain things are true. (Eg. There’s a lamp, grants wishes, Middle Eastern origins, etc.) Scripts are extremely important and we use them all the time. Often when a character is alien to the main culture, them not knowing the Script is played for humour.

There’s an episode of Stargate SG1 where a character is telling the group they’ve been impregnated without having sex. When asked if they’d ever heard of anything like that one of the characters replies with, “Vader,” and a second replies with, “I was thinking of King Arthur,” to which a third character goes, “You were!?”

A virgin giving birth is a simple Script that we associate with Christian mythology. By naming other less known instances and avoiding it, the writers are playing with our expectations in a humorous way.

This subconscious use of Scripts is one of the biggest reasons that when you write you need to know your audience. Either while you’re writing or while you’re editing. Using an unfamiliar Script or a different version can not only throw someone out of the story, it can confuse them enough to stop reading.

Always make sure your stories go through multiple editors or beta readers and you’ll find how some people have no concept of certain kinds of Scripts, and others are so aware they think it’s obvious.

The next book of mine to be published is called The Sign of Faust and deals with a genie, D&D, and a lot of confusing wishes. It relies on the audience understanding certain fantasy Scripts. One of the editors had a little trouble at some points because they weren’t familiar with the Scripts, and because of that I made sure to explain a little more to avoid confusion.

I’ll talk more about Scripts and how they are similar but different from Clichés and Tropes in a later post.

 

Later Days,

Éric

In defence of reading for pleasure

Hello My Imaginary Friends,

In fiction, there is a serious case of classism. Multiple serious cases or classism actually, but I’m going to talk about one that pisses me off personally.

Just because a story isn’t dark and brooding, or doesn’t make you cry at the indignities of life, doesn’t mean that it should be held to different standards.

Fluff, Light, Dumb, Popcorn, Adventure, and Popular are all ways of describing things that are categorised as lesser in quality. As they are automatically lesser, they are then considered immune to certain criticism.

Let’s take Ready Player One by Ernest Cline. It’s a nostalgia-driven love letter to the 80’s. So much so that the plot, politics, and characters are all 80’s stereotypes. That’s not a good thing. The plot is lazy, the characters hateful, the diversity forced and self-congratulatory. I’d go as far as saying the book isn’t just bad, it encourages a level of navel gazing and retro social politics that are toxic.

When discussing this book on panel The Nights at the Round Table, panelists gave it a pass because it was a Light Fun Cottage read. I am not attacking the panelists, they are wonderful people whom I care deeply for!

As consumers we’ve been told our entire lives that there are two classes of writing, the fluff and the serious. Over the years that has changed. Early examples of light fluffy reading is anything by Jane Austin, who is now considered a classic author (Deservedly so she’s fantastic). Shakespeare was the Michael Bay of his time.

#HoldFluffAccountable

Disclaimer: I am an Adventure writer. What I write is considered low-brow fluff even by the most adamant genre writers. I also read a great deal of what people call stupid fun (Urban Fantasy, Supernatural Horror, Genre YA, etc.) so obviously my opinion is skewed.

I hate that no matter how much thought I put into my writing, it will always be considered low-class and fluff. BUT I hate so much more that books and movies that fall into the same categories are immune to criticism and analysis unless they are extremely popular or extremely depressing.

You can read for pleasure and still be immensely touched and even enriched by any form of story. Books by Laura Resnick, Tanya Huff, Seanan Maguire, or Tamora Peirce have worlds as detailed and content a deep/meaningful as anything in hard Science-Fiction or epic Fantasy.

There are themes and stories inside superhero films that are just as dark or just as thought provoking as the latest drama/tragedy.

When you dismiss a story as not worthy of criticism, you are accepting that story’s flaws and normalizing its harm. It’s the popular fluff that will cause the most damage because it’s what more people read or watch. You must hold it accountable for its flaws and its mistakes.

There shouldn’t be two classes of story and you have the power to change that by holding them all accountable and by critically analyzing everything.

 

Later Days,

Éric

 

 

 

The Guardian

What is Christmas without a ghost story?


“Honey, she’s doing it again!” I called out to my husband.

Our five day old daughter had opened her eyes and stopped her vigorous nursing to stare up at seemingly nothing. Milk slowly dripped from me, spreading a wet patch on the pillow underneath her.

She didn’t blink, but abruptly turned her head to stare at another patch of nothing.

A shiver raced down my spine and the hair on my arms stood up in response.

I thought that if a person was standing next to my chair, she would be looking directly into their face.

Just as suddenly, she re-latched and started her hmm-ing of appreciation.

Hmmmmmmm – gulp. Hmmmmmmm – gulp.

She sounded like an old dot-matrix printer, the kind that took four passes to print a single line and had the tear-away sides. I doubted she’d ever get to hear one of those. The next generation of parents wouldn’t associate their child with a printer – that’s probably a good thing, I giggled to myself.

Her eyes opened at the sound, and she stared up at me for a second before focussing on her task again.

My husband appeared in the doorway. She ignored him in favour of eating.

My neck prickled.

What could have distracted her, when a physical human didn’t?

I don’t believe in ghosts, I thought. I knew I was lying to myself. But I know someone who does.

I contacted them the next morning.

“Of course I’ll come visit and snuggle the baby!” they exclaimed.

I didn’t mention my suspicions.

They came over that afternoon, sinking into the well-used couch with a sigh. I passed them the sleeping baby, and she cooed before snuggling into their chest, still asleep.

“Is she always this cuddly?” they whispered, afraid to wake her.

We talked about anything and everything, and as the time for them to leave drew nearer, I got anxious. The baby hadn’t woken, even though we were laughing.

“I think we have a ghost,” I whispered.

Their eyebrows went up. “I haven’t seen any,” they replied.

“She sees them, I think.” I indicated the softly snoring baby.

“If she isn’t afraid, they’re not malicious.” They seemed certain of this. “Keep an eye on her, and I’ll come back another time.”

Every day for the next month, the baby took the time to stare off into space a couple times a day. Most often, it was in her room, next to the nursing chair. Sometimes it was in the living room, behind the couch. Once in our room, at the foot of the bed.

She learned how to smile voluntarily. I watched her smile at empty spaces, and tried to keep the panic at a minimum.

And then it stopped.

She slept less, paid attention to her surroundings more, and I thought that maybe she had been staring at specs of dust. Babies don’t have the greatest vision.

But around Christmas, she let out a tiny squeak and stared into space again, this time for quite a while. I tried to distract her with my breast, but she ignored it completely for at least five minutes, glancing from one spot to another and back.

I contacted my friend immediately. They came over. The baby was awake. They asked to see her room, but there was nothing unusual.

We sat in the living room and played with the baby, until she whipped around and stared beside the couch.

My friend followed her gaze, and gasped, “I see them. Two women.”

My heart in my throat, I looked over at the empty space, seeing nothing. “What do they look like?”

“One is older. Curly grey hair. Rosy red cheeks and a big smile. She’s fairly short, and a bit stout. I think I’ve seen you wear the necklace she’s wearing…thick silver chain? She has a red sweater, and a long kilt in red and green.”

I swallowed hard, tears in my eyes. I tried to speak around the lump in my throat. “That’s my Grannie,” I croaked. I started crying. “She came to meet her great-granddaughter? I miss her so much. Can you tell her that? Does she understand me?”

“She hears you. She put her hand over her heart and is looking right at you.” My friend was crying too. “The other woman is a little younger. Thinning wispy grey hair, small cheeks that pop when she smiles. She’s a bit taller than your Grannie, and much…umm…bigger. She’s wearing a navy blue dress. Her eyes twinkle.”

“My mother-in-law,” I sobbed. “She would have loved her granddaughter. She always wanted a daughter. I miss her too, but not as much as her son does. She’d be so proud of him.”

“She’s nodding and smiling at you. She knows. They’re talking to the baby again. I can’t hear them, only see them, I’m so sorry,” they apologized.

I took a moment, trying to work the words out around the lump in my throat. “Is it normal, not being able to hear them?”

“Quite. I’ve never heard or felt one.”

I got up to get a tissue from the other side of the room. “You need one?” I offered. At the affirmative, I brought the box back over as I sat beside them again. “You’ve never touched a ghost?” I asked, curious. I sniffed and wiped my cheeks.

“No, I haven’t. I’ve never seen a ghost touch a person.” They copied my motions with a tissue of their own, then paused. “Wait. I have, just once. It was a long time ago. A girl was crossing the street, and a car ran a red light. I saw the ghost yank her back out of the way. It was bright daylight, so I wasn’t a hundred percent sure of what I saw, but I think the ghost vanished after saving her life.”

“It’s not exactly like you can conduct an experiment to see for sure.” I gave them a watery smile.

“No, I guess not!” They laughed weakly.

I thanked my friend for both confirming that we were being visited by ghosts, and that they were not only benevolent, but family. “Merry Christmas!” I waved from the doorway as they left the house.

“And Happy New Year!” they called back.

The months flew by. My daughter learned how to crawl, stand, and walk. She babbled at anyone who smiled at her, which made her a joy to bring places.

All too soon, we were getting ready to celebrate another Christmas. We went shopping for presents at a local holiday bazaar, and my husband was carrying her on his shoulders.

What happened next happened faster than your eyes will be able to read this paragraph; my husband bumped into a display of ornaments at the same time as my daughter twisted around to wave at me. He jerked to catch the ornaments, and, her balance thrown off, she launched herself backwards off his shoulders.

I was too far away.

My heart in my mouth, a scream caught in my throat, I watched her tumble headfirst towards the ground. Ghostly hands steadied her fall, tipped her onto her front, and she landed on her stomach, head bouncing a bit on the concrete at the force of impact. My Grannie looked up at me from beside my baby and smiled sadly, blowing me a kiss and waving goodbye before she vanished.

My daughter let out a wild scream, and my legs unfroze, taking me to her side before I had registered the movement.

She was already pulling herself onto her feet, a nasty purple bump swelling on her temple, and buried her face in my neck, sobs shaking her small frame.

My husband, ashen, helped me stand up and led me back to the car to go to the hospital. I knew before we saw the doctor that she would be alright.

Her guardian angel had seen to that, and would visit no longer.

“Thank you for our Christmas miracle,” I whispered.


This story is part of the Renaissance holiday blog roll! Find out what it’s all about here! 

2018 Serial Story – You Vote, I Write

Hello My Imaginary Friends,

For the past four years I’ve written a monthly short story. The idea is to challenge myself and give you an interesting story every month. I don’t plan it in advance and I don’t edit past chapters unless I screw up a name or important fact.

Last year I had you all vote and it worked out pretty well. (Check out 2017’s Serial Story Database of the Ageless Kings) So let’s do this again.

Voting will end January 8th at 11:59pm.

What should be the genre of the 2018 Serial Story?

  • Fantasy (29%, 5 Votes)
  • Romance (29%, 5 Votes)
  • Mystery (18%, 3 Votes)
  • Supernatural (12%, 2 Votes)
  • Science-Fiction (6%, 1 Votes)
  • Detective (6%, 1 Votes)

Total Voters: 14

Loading ... Loading ...

What should be the mood?

  • Comedy of Errors (47%, 7 Votes)
  • Dark/Noir (27%, 4 Votes)
  • Absurd (13%, 2 Votes)
  • Action/Adventure (13%, 2 Votes)
  • Mysterious (0%, 0 Votes)

Total Voters: 14

Loading ... Loading ...

What should be the setting?

  • Steam-Punk (38%, 6 Votes)
  • Alternate Universe (25%, 4 Votes)
  • Everdome (19%, 3 Votes)
  • Classic Fantasy (13%, 2 Votes)
  • Our Earth (6%, 1 Votes)
  • Science Fiction (Our Future) (0%, 0 Votes)
  • Science Fiction (Other World) (0%, 0 Votes)

Total Voters: 14

Loading ... Loading ...

What should the main character(s) be?

  • Special Human (Super Hero, Chosen One, Magic user, etc) (38%, 6 Votes)
  • Normal Human (19%, 3 Votes)
  • Personification of a Concept (Death, Liberty, etc) (19%, 3 Votes)
  • Anthropomorphized Animal (Human looking fox) (19%, 3 Votes)
  • Non-Human (Alien, Elf, Dwarf, etc) (6%, 1 Votes)

Total Voters: 14

Loading ... Loading ...

Thank you!
Éric

I have failed!

Hello My imaginary Friends,

For the second year in a row, I have failed NaNoWriMo and neither I or Oliver Queen isn’t very happy about it.

As you can see below, I ended with 32,033 words. That’s roughly 18,000 below what I’d need to win.

What does this really mean? Does it mean I didn’t write 18,000 words, or does it mean that I actually managed to write 32,000 words?

This is the second year in a row that I failed NaNoWriMo and it’s partially because of how busy I am and partially because I didn’t want to kill myself writing. What it really means is that I decided to take my health and mental health and put it before my writing. It’s something I will always do because my writing is something I love and I’d rather fail a word count than burn out and not write for months.

Last year’s novel was crap. It needs a complete re-write with some serious consideration about what it is. I consider it a failure on every level.

This year’s novel needs polishing and another couple of thousand words and it’ll be done. This was a very personal novel; part memoir and part memory. It might never see the light of day, I’ll get my Weditor and others let me know.

So if you didn’t win at NaNoWriMo then you should still be proud that you wrote something because that’s the goal.

 

Later Days,

Éric

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!

NaNoWriMo (AKA Éric wants to torture himself)

Hello My Imaginary Friends,

I’ve decided to do NaNoWriMo again. If you haven’t come across the term it stands for National Novel Writing Month. In short, during November a whole lot of writers and aspiring writers try to write 50,000 words in a brand new novel.

This will be my fifth attempt. A Study in Aether and The Sign of Faust were both started with NaNoWriMo. It’s a wonderful (if stressful) way to jump start a book.

What Am I Writing

I was listening to a particularly sad song by Ed Sheeran called Supermarket Flowers.

The song reminded me of an old book idea I had about taking a roadtrip with my Mom in an alternate universe where there were dinosaurs roaming around.

The original idea was an apocalypse story, but listening to this song I realized how much I miss talking with my Mom. It’s been 9 years since her death and this book will give me the chance, in an odd way, to spend one last roadtrip with her.

It will be one long conversation between me and my mom. A memoir, love letter, with dinosaurs.

When I wake up in the hospital where I was born, I find my Mother waiting for me. Instead of going home, she decides that we should go on a roadtrip. “Let’s get lost,” she says with a mischievous look.

Over the trip we’ll reminisce, laugh, and tell each other things we never had the chance.

But why are we on this trip? Why was I in the hospital? And why are we being followed by dinosaurs?

I can already tell that this will be the hardest book I’ve ever written, but I think I’m at the point in my life that I can write it properly.

I apologize in advance if I’m not overly active online or if I’m a little sad over the month of November.

Follow my progress on my NaNoWriMo page. Add me as a buddy if you’re also diving into the pool of imagination.

Later Days,

Éric

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