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

Mortality and Immortality

Hello My Imaginary Friends,

As you age, you start to notice patterns around what happens to your friends who are around the same age. You’ll notice everyone getting married, or having kids, etc.

Unfortunately, I’ve reached the age where people are dying or having close calls. Earlier this year a friend died of a heart attack and it was sad. He was a good man with an amazing mind and even though I didn’t see him much the world feels lessened by his loss.

I’ve had friends die before, but now we’ve transitioned from the deaths being horrifying and unthinkable to sad and unexpected.

Since his death, I’ve had several friends hospitalized for heart or other life threatening conditions and it scares me. I don’t want to lose my friends and I really don’t want to die.

In an early episode of the new Doctor Who, Charles Dickens asks, “But you have such knowledge of future times. I don’t wish to impose on you, but I must ask you… My books, Doctor. Do they last?”

I like to joke that I plan to live forever; it’s only partially a joke. I know I will live through my daughter and I hope I will live through my work. I have two novels published now, three others written, and two others in the works; I have almost ten years of blogs written and almost enough short stories to fill a book. (If you’d like to help me create more, please buy, borrow, or request my books and review them on amazon and goodreads.)

I have a lot more work left to do and SO MANY more stories to tell. (No, seriously, I have a list of 20+ novels I want to write.) I hope to be around for a long time.

 

Take care of yourselves,

Éric

Top 5 Lazy Writing Sins

Anything can be done well. All these sins could be done in a funny or inventive way, but on average they are signs that the writers are being lazy.

TV Tropes Will Ruin Your Life
TV Tropes Will Ruin Your Life

5. Genre Blindness

Any writing set in modern day should not only be aware of its predecessors but so should its characters.

If a character is about to fight a vampire, they don’t need ancient texts, wise masters, etc etc etc to figure out how to kill them. One of your characters will have heard of vampires and has an idea how to kill them. Even if you are writing a different version of the monster there should be a character that has at least heard of them from pop culture.

Not all characters have to be genre savvy but one or two should have a passing knowledge of the immense cultural background of most stories.

Why is this lazy?

This is a way for authors not to have to do research on what a character would know based on their culture, age, and geographical area. It means you can make up the rules and pretend the game is brand new. It avoids the, “But I thought werewolves couldn’t control themselves and hated silver” discussion.

It can be done well but only if the world is different enough from ours to make sense.

4. Nice and Boring VS Dangerous and Exciting

Good is bland, the nice guy best friend is the safe choice, and everyone prefers Spike. The decision to go for the “bad boy” over the best friend / boy next door is ubiquitous in 90’s movies and TV.

It’s not only lazy, it’s dumb. It either ends with the main character hurting and brooding over their lost love, or the bad boy having a heart of gold.

It makes the main character either dangerously naïve, suicidal, or dumb; while making the love interests boring stereotypes.

Why is this lazy?

It’s been done, it relies on stereotypes that are so overused they’re clichéd, and it’s needlessly angsty.

I can be done well if you’re trying to show a flaw in the main character, however you have to follow through with that flaw.

3. I’ll tell you later

The character has suddenly gotten super strength and their friend asks them how it happened. They’re in a big battle so the hero says. “I’ll tell you later.” And they never do.

If a power, machine, etc is worth having in the story and the characters know, it’s worth explaining.

Why is this lazy?

It’s a short and quick response to avoid telling something that has been, or will be, shown to the audience. But Peter Parker saying, “I’ll tell you later” can just as easily be done with him saying, “I was bit by a genetically altered /radioactive / alien spider. Crazy eh?”

This is extra lazy when the audience doesn’t know the answer. It’s used to build tension and mystery but rarely does it ever get explained. Maybe hand waved with a mention of Magic or Clark’s Third law.

This can be done well if the characters and the audience are told at a later, or earlier, point in the story.

2. Dangling Plot / Forgotten Backstory

This is really two annoyances in one but they both have the same reasoning, convenience. A dangling plot could be something as simple as a voice taking control of a space/time ship saying, “The Silence will fall” and then exploding that ship and never explaining who that voice is or why they could control and destroy something that no one else has been able to do.

A forgotten backstory could be a sister that disappears and is never mentioned before or a magic item that the main characters have but would make life too easy for this story so they’ve forgotten. Same with the rules of magic.

The best stories wrap up all their plot points, Chekhov’s guns, and work around the rules they’ve set for themselves.

Why is this lazy?

Both of these are ways for a writer to force the world and characters to fit the story they are building. Sometimes working with a large amount of history is daunting, but weaving the story into the world and characters makes it richer and much more interesting.

1. I’m not broken I’m super

Wanting to explore and represent a disability, social class, physical illness, or mental illness is a laudable goal. Unfortunately a lot of writers seem to want to portray these states of humanity without wanting to learn about them.

The character is autistic but they have savant syndrome. The character is blind but they sonar vision. The character is poor but has an incredible talent.

The root of this sin is not doing enough research or not knowing the people a writer is trying to portray. It is also a sign that the writer thinks these characters are lesser or broken as opposed to just different.

Why is this lazy?

Writing about people you don’t understand beyond the surface level is a quick way to misrepresent them. Just because you’ve seen Rain Man and Adam doesn’t mean you understand anything about autism.

If you’re not willing to put aside your prejudice and learn all you can about the characters you’re writing, then you shouldn’t be writing those characters.

 

Did I miss any, do you disagree?

Éric

Parasomnia Cover Reveal and Pre-Order

Hello My Imaginary Friends,

A lot of work goes into a book cover, especially if the author has input and is picky. This cover took a lot of work from the wonderful Caro at Renaissance Press and I think it looks great.

parasomnia ebook cover

At the Aux-Anges Institute, nestled in the woods outside of North Bay, they study and treat parasomnias, or sleep disorders. Ashley suffers from night terrors, Terrance sleepwalks, Kiri sleep-eats, and Paul sets fires; they are there for treatment. Adelaide took the job as a counselor to discover why she still has an imaginary friend.

When they discover the secret hideout of an old club called the Dreamers, they are shocked to find that the five of them are connected through more than just the Institute.

You can Pre-Order the book from Renaissance Press’s Website. 

The book will hopefully have a few early copies ready for Montreal’s Queer Between the Covers.

What do you think of the cover?

Later days,

Éric

Stranger Things – A Review

Hello My Imaginary Friends,
Since July of last year people have been recommending to me a TV show called Stranger Things.

If I were to describe the show, I’d say it was an homage to 1980’s YA movies with more than a little supernatural horror thrown in. It has D&D, Monsters, Psychic/Magic abilities, Conspiracies, Eighties Rock, and lots of kids on bikes.

It’s eight episodes on Netflix and although the first episode is a little slow, it builds quickly. The special effects are amazing, the locations are great, the music is wonderful, but most of all the acting is fantastic. The actors in this each play stereotypes from eighties movies, but managed to pull those characters out of cliché and make them believable.20161201_stranger_things_node

The one thing that I found lacking in the show was complexity and surprise. After two episodes I could have given you an outline of the entire season. I wasn’t surprised and was actually a little underwhelmed by the story.

It was a fun watch and the acting alone made it worth it, but this show was too close to my own influences, likes, and writing style for comfort. Seriously, after the last episode, I went to IMDB to make sure I hadn’t written it. I’ll let you decide if that’s a compliment or a condemnation.

In short, if you like Horror, YA, Eighties movies, and/or my writing; you’ll enjoy Stranger Things.

I give it 85% or 4.25/5

Later Days,

Éric

Blush Guest Post: A Gender Exploration

A Gender Exploration
by Jamieson Wolf

Lust and Lemonade can be purchased through Renaissance Press
Lust and Lemonade can be purchased through Renaissance Press

When I started to write Lust and Lemonade, I didn’t intend to write a book that dealt with gender.

Before writing Lust and Lemonade, I was primarily a romance and erotica writer. I delved into the lives of men and the ones that loved them, set in mythical worlds with otherworldly beings.  The men fought for each other with every fibre of their being, using their magic to save the day and save the man they loved.

When I started writing Lust and Lemonade, I only intended to write about what I knew. I knew gay men being one myself. But as I continued to write, other characters wanted to come onto the page, too. One of them was a woman named Poppy and she was pregnant. She was also a lesbian.

I didn’t know anything about pregnancy and what women went through with having a child. I relied on my beta reader for info on the female gender and about what is involved with having a lesbian relationship. I was in uncharted waters and Google would only take me so far. I had written women characters before, but the focus was always on the men and the relationships they were having. The women were only secondary and hadn’t taken centre stage. Lust and Lemonade was the first of my novels to feature strong women in lesbian relationships.

As I kept writing, I began to realise something. Two of my characters were transgender. One of them is a transgender woman and the other is a transgender man. If I had no concept of lesbian relationships, I had absolutely zero idea about the transgender population.

This uncharted territory was rather frightening for me as a writer, but it was also freeing in a way. I have never researched a novel before Lust and Lemonade. I delved into the lives of transgender people and what they went through to become who they always were, who they were meant to be.

I also wrote about straight characters finding love. It seemed right that if I was going to write about all kinds of other genders, that I included them too. The characters demanded it, really. It was only fair, they said, that if I was going to have gay, lesbian, and transgender characters in my novel, that the straight people get fair representation, too.

So, when I started writing Lust and Lemonade, I didn’t intend to write a book about gender. The book let me know where it wanted to go and the characters that peopled its pages. I also knew that, even though I’ve written many romances, that there would be no sex on the page. It would all take place off stage.

A friend of mine asked me how I could have lust in the title and not include sex scenes? It’s simple. The lust that is in the title is about the lust of getting to know someone, of becoming enraptured and enthralled with them. Much as I became enthralled with all the people in Lust and Lemonade.

I may not have set out to write about gender, but I’m so glad I did. I learned something about others that I didn’t know before, learned about their battles to be who they were and who they were meant to be. Writing Lust and Lemonade made me a better writer and, quite possibly, a better person.

Find  out what happens to Blaine, Nancy, Mike, Chuck, and company in Lust and Lemonade, available now from Renaissance Press! You can get your copy here:

https://renaissancebookpress.com/product/lust-and-lemonade/


Jamieson Wolf is an award winning, Number One Best Selling Author. He is a poet, a blogger and, above all, a story teller.

He currently lives in Ottawa, Ontario, Canada with his cat, Tula, who is fearless, and his husband Michael, who is magic.

You can find Jamieson at home at www.jamiesonwolf.com

You can also read his blog at www.jamiesonwolfauthor.wordpress.com

 

Fandom Guest Post: UK Road Trip Part 2

Jasmine Murray-Bergquist is a costume designer, bookworm, amateur archer and all-around geek. Her body lives in Ottawa while her mind is consistently elsewhere. Her website can be found here, and you can follow her on Twitter!


Read Part 1 here!

April 21st, 2016. The 200th birthday of one of Haworth’s most famous residents. The eldest of her siblings who survived into adulthood, Charlotte Brontë lived at the Haworth parsonage with her family. She and her sisters Emily and Anne first published their poetry under the names Currer, Ellis, and Acton Bell, but they are best known for their novels Jane Eyre (by Charlotte), Wuthering Heights (by Emily), and The Tenant of Wildfell Hall (by Anne). As a family of three girls, my sisters and I always felt a connection with the Brontës, so to be in Haworth for Charlotte’s birthday party made Karin and I absolutely giddy.

The walk into the village in the bright morning light was amazing. They had gone all out, with bunting strung across the street and people streaming up the main cobbled road to the parsonage where the festivities would take place. We were interviewed by the BBC (and the Ilkley Gazette) on our way in which added an extra level of excitement to the day – to be from a family of three girls as well as to have come all the way from Canada for this party made us rather interesting to the locals!

There was so much to see and do that day. There were performers reading poetry, a young class from the local school performed scenes from Jane Eyre, songs honouring the Brontës were performed, stories were read. The current local curate said a prayer, and Tracy Chevalier (novelist, co-curator of the events, and editor of Reader, I Married Him, a collection of stories inspired by Jane Eyre) laid a wreath at the front door of the house.

As things wound down, Karin and I went for a walk out over the moors behind the parsonage. As we took our first steps out onto the land, it made instant sense. We were breathing the inspiration for the books. It was in the wind, in the land, in the sky, in the rocks. We were walking with Jane and Catherine and Agnes Grey and Mr. Lockwood. The stubbled grass, cropped short by sheep, formed a patchwork of changing colour over the hills and crags.

We walked for miles, over the stone bridge crossing the stream, up to a quiet spot with stunning views down into a steep valley. Further west, silhouetted against the sinking sun, sat Top Withins. Dark and ominous even in ruin, the house that inspired Wuthering Heights was a sombre sight. I sat down on a nearby rock as Karin pulled out her fiddle to play. Her quick notes were carried on the wind back towards the village. Even after she lifted her bow, the wind carried on, being strong enough to vibrate the strings of the fiddle and make its own eerie song.

Karin playing her fiddle on the moors. Picture by Jasmine.
Karin playing her fiddle on the moors. Picture by Jasmine.

We walked back to the village in the gathering dark to find a pub for supper. As we waited for our food, Karin proposed something that John Keats had done with his friends: a poetry race. I felt somewhat out of my element, as I never write poetry while Karin writes some of the most wonderful poems I’ve ever read, but there was something about those moors that made me feel up for the challenge. Karin suggested the theme of Top Withins and with our drinks at our elbows, we set about writing.

The result surprised me in that we were both happy with our poems. I finished first, but I think Karin won for quality, hands down. After the trip, Karin submitted both our poems to the Brontë Society Gazette and they were accepted for publication, which is both exciting and confidence-inducing. I never considered myself much of a writer, but this trip spurred both my imagination and my faith in myself.

The next day got us to Sevenoaks, the hometown of our aunt, uncle, and cousins. Our aunt and one of said cousins accompanied us into London the next morning where our first goal was Keats House. It is a truly lovely museum in Hampstead. I thought I knew a fair amount about Keats through conversations with Karin, but I still learned a lot. The museum is very well designed, still looking as it did when Keats lived there, and leads you through his life from the time he moved in until his departure for Italy in an unsuccessful attempt to salvage his health and his untimely death at age 25.

Leaving Keats House and heading back into central London, we took a walk along the Thames past the Globe Theatre. Here’s the thing about me: I’m a geek about a good many things, and one of my biggest loves is Shakespeare. I read Shakespeare for fun. I read about Shakespeare. I watch movies of his plays and in which he is a character. I attended Shakespeare camp for years, performing in the plays, making my sisters and cousins put on the plays with me, and as an adult designing costumes for the plays. I’m a little obsessed, to say the least. So to be there during a week of Shakespeare celebrations to mark the 400th anniversary of his death was an awe-inspiring experience. The gates of the Globe were entwined with roses and all along the embankment were a series of screens playing scenes from film adaptations of his plays.

Jasmine outside the Globe Theatre with the gate full of roses. Picture from Jasmine.
Jasmine outside the Globe Theatre with the gate full of roses. Picture from Jasmine.

We ended our London day with supper at the historic Ye Olde Cheshire Cheese. The pub was built in 1667, replacing the pub that was built in 1538 but destroyed in the fire of 1666. A winding warren of stone stairwells going deep underground, with low ceilings and gloomy corners, the place is simply dripping with atmosphere. It’s not surprise that so many authors frequented it. P. G. Wodehouse, Dr. Samuel Johnson, Mark Twain, Alfred Lord Tennyson, and Charles Dickens were all regulars – Dickens even references it in A Tale of Two Cities. The food was delicious, the setting was fantastic, and the ghosts made for excellent company.

It was in London that Karin and I parted ways as she had to get back to school for exams, so I carried on west alone to Tintagel. Legendary site of King Arthur’s conception, Tintagel is a tiny village on the Atlantic coast of Cornwall. Craggy, windswept, wild, and stunningly gorgeous, I think I took more pictures there than anywhere else. I know I’m sounding repetitive but the whole place pulses with legend and folklore. The ruined castle on the headland, the caves beneath, the blending of history and myth, and the ever shifting weather create a level of mystique that I haven’t experienced anywhere else. If you ever can, you must go. Stand on the peak looking over the ocean. Let the wind sing in your ears and whip your hair. Let the voices of the past rise up from the sea and tell you their stories. There is no feeling like it.

I had one final stop on my literary tour of the UK – Stratford-Upon-Avon. Shakespeare’s birthplace. I arrived late at my bed and breakfast, but they directed me to The King’s Head, the inn where Shakespeare’s parents had their wedding supper.

The next morning, I woke up to the early morning sun filtering through crawling vines. The birds were singing boldly, a soft breeze was whispering through the leaves of the old oak tree outside, and the rooster out back was crowing in annoyance that people weren’t up and doing things yet. All the elements combined in such a way that I wrote a few more lines of poetry over breakfast, sending me off to Shakespeare’s birthplace museum with a spring in my step.

I thought my heart was going to explode when I saw the house itself. It felt like a homecoming. I felt like I knew Will Shakespeare, and he was welcoming me to his house. It was wonderful, and more emotional than it should’ve been. I spent a long time exploring the museum and grounds as well as the town itself. Walking in his footsteps gave me such a thrill.

I travelled home a few days later, but have thought about that trip every day since. Jen handling all the travel bookings took off so much stress so I could really enjoy myself. Travelling with my sister was so much fun it should be illegal. I was overseas for two and a half weeks and I feel as though I barely scratched the surface, but I came home so inspired, energized, and creatively renewed by everything I experienced, and I am forever grateful that I had such an incredible opportunity.


If you are interested in booking a trip like this, you can contact me Jennifer Desmarais through AJ Travel. jenniferd@ajtravel.ca

Fandom Guest Post: UK Road Trip Part 1

Jasmine Murray-Bergquist is a costume designer, bookworm, amateur archer and all-around geek. Her body lives in Ottawa while her mind is consistently elsewhere. Her website can be found here, and you can follow her on Twitter!


My sisters and I have always been big dreamers. I wouldn’t say any of our dreams are too big, but as we have more dreams than are possible to fulfil in one lifetime, some of our childhood plans and ambitions got shelved indefinitely at a young age.

That changed this spring. When my sister Karin was invited to present a paper she wrote at an academic conference in Kirkwall, Orkney, we jumped at the chance to make one of those long lost ideas a reality. As voracious readers and lovers of a good road trip, we decided that after the conference we would rent a car and tour around England, making pilgrimages to the homes of some of our most beloved authors. With the expert help of Jen, before I knew it, everything was booked and we were ready to go.

Even after talking about doing a trip like this for years, the reality far surpassed anything I’d ever imagined.

I arrived in Edinburgh on a cool, rainy, April morning. With 13 hours to kill before Karin arrived (and three days before my luggage arrived, but that’s a different story!), I went exploring. My destination was a place that is truly somewhat of a holy site for me. A place that would be the perfect spot to start the Author Tour. A place where a young single mother unknowingly created the foundation of my childhood, changing my life forever.

The Elephant House is an unassuming place tucked neatly into a historic street front in Edinburgh’s Old Town. Many authors have frequented the cafe over the years including Ian Rankin and Alexander McCall Smith, but it’s best known for being the place where J. K. Rowling sat and wrote Harry Potter. I got goosebumps as I walked in, although that could’ve been the chill of the Scottish fog sinking through to my bones. With a pot of Earl Grey tea and an elephant shaped shortbread cookie, I settled into an empty seat by the front window. The cafe was crowded with people trying to find relief from the rain and wind. The hubbub of conversation, the clinking of teacups in saucers, the tinkle of the bell above the door as people came and went, all the sounds, smells, and sights wound their way into my consciousness, and it was a few minutes before I was even aware that I was writing.

The sign at the Elephant cafe with a "birthplace of Harry Potter" pamphlet. Picture by Jasmine.
The sign at the Elephant House with a “birthplace of Harry Potter” pamphlet. Picture by Jasmine.

I sat for a minute, staring down at my notebook and the paragraphs I’d just written, and suddenly I understood why Edinburgh is known for being a city for writers and artists. It immediately gets inside you, filling you with inspiration. It forces you to create. There is magic lurking under every cobblestone, stories whispering at you from every doorway. It doesn’t just give you the desire to write, it gives you the need.

The next morning Karin and I started our journey north by train. The next few days were very focused on the conference, although we did find a couple of author moments amidst all the learning. In Inverness, we found a plaque commemorating William Topaz McGonagall. If you haven’t read the poem “The Tay Bridge Disaster”…well, just go read it, and it will become very clear why McGonagall is known as the worst poet ever. Luckily for him he was rich, and able to pay people to put up with his readings. When we reached beautiful, mystical, magical Orkney, we discovered the world of George Mackay Brown. A famed poet, novelist, and dramatist, he also wrote many short stories and essays. His work is everywhere, especially in Stromness, his hometown.

From Orkney, we took the train back south to Glasgow, where we picked up the car and hit the open road. Karin was a fantastic co-pilot (her Chewbacca impression is second to none) and navigated us perfectly out of Edinburgh and along the winding country roads to the small western Scottish town of Ayr. That was where we stayed that night, but our goal in Ayrshire was the nearby village of Alloway, birthplace of poet, lyricist, whiskey advocate, and great seducer – the Bard of Ayrshire, Robert Burns.

If you ever have the chance, the Robert Burns Birthplace Museum is so very much worth the visit. It’s fantastically laid out and a veritable wealth of information on the life and times of Burns and his family. Interactive and educational, there was so much to do and so many ways to immerse yourself in the times and ways of late 1800s Scotland. The panels are all peppered with Scots words (the language Burns wrote in and fought to keep alive), which is a really fun way of learning the language along with the details of Burns’ life.

Karin with the mouse statue on the path at the Burns Museum
Karin with the mouse statue on the path at the Burns Museum. Picture by Jasmine.

Outside the museum there is a path that winds through a field marked by metal artwork depicting the story of Tam O’Shanter, one of Burns’ most famous poems, as well as a giant mouse (a nod to Burns’ To A Mouse). The path takes you to the small cottage where Burns was born, kept as it was when he was a child there. As you walk back to the museum, if you take the road instead of the path, you pass by the Alloway kirk (church), which is where poor unfortunate Tam sees all manner of horrible supernatural creatures whooping it up as he tries to get home from the pub one night. Even it broad daylight, our skin prickled imaging the witches, goblins, and tortured ghosts as we peeked into the ruins.

We spent far, far too much time there, but it was so wonderful. From Ayr we turned south, driving down the ruggedly stunning west coast of Scotland, before turning east and working out way into the Lakes District. This stunning region was the inspiration for one of my father’s favourite books from childhood, “Swallows and Amazons” by Arthur Ransome. My dad read it to my sisters and I when I was probably 8 or so and we immediately fell in love with it. Written and set in the 30s, it’s the story of the four Walker children who spend their summers sailing their borrowed boat the Swallow around an unnamed lake in the Lakes District, where they meet the two Blackett children, who have a boat of their own – the Amazon – and are pirates. We used to sail all around the lake where my grandparents live when we were kids, so both the sailing and the imaginations of the kids utterly captivated us.

While the lake in the books is never explicitly named, people believe that it’s based on Coniston Water, so that was where we went after a beautiful night in the nearby town of Grasmere (where we took a quick wander around the grounds of Dove Cottage, where the Wordsworths lived and wrote). Coniston Water is the third largest lake in England, at five miles long but only a half mile wide. A kiosk down by the shore rents out all manner of boats, and soon we were zipping down the lake in our very own Swallow. The feeling was glorious. The boat hummed as we skipped along under the watchful eye of the Old Man of Coniston, the mountain that looms large over the water. The energy of the experience and the powerful beauty of our surroundings soon put us in a creative mood again, and we sailed for miles while developing a very complex story (which I’m very grateful to Karin for writing down the details of in the car as we drove after). In theory we had the boat for two hours, in reality, we ended up staying out there for more like three and a half. The thing about a skinny lake is as easy as it is to sail down, when you have to tack short tacks back and forth all the way back, it takes a hell of a lot longer!

The common theme we had through the trip was getting so caught up in what we were doing that we took too long at our stops, meaning we arrived later at our final destinations. Especially on our way out of Cumbria, we had to stop to see Hill Top, which is where Beatrix Potter lived and wrote. But despite the detours and the late hour, driving through Yorkshire at sunset was nothing short of breathtaking. It was like driving through a James Herriot story: the farmers in their tweed caps, the sheep wandering unsupervised beside the country road, the moon hanging low in the purple twilight as the lights of the village in the valley come on, it was too perfect for words.

That night, we arrived in Haworth. I could feel my heart rate quickening as soon as we arrived. Our hostel was a Gothic mansion on a hill outside the village and it was the perfect setting to get us in the mood for the part of the trip that we were possibly the most excited for.


Stay tuned for Part 2 on November 9th!

If you are interested in booking a trip to like this, you can contact me Jennifer Desmarais through AJ Travel. jenniferd@ajtravel.ca

Dear Dragon – Names

Dear Dragon,

In case you didn’t know, I fancy myself a writer. One of the hardest parts of developing a character is choosing a name.

I firmly believe that a character’s name should reflect aspects of their story or personality. Let’s take my first novel, A Study in Aether; there are three main characters and their names reflect who they are.

Elizabeth means “My God is an Oath,” or “My God is Abundance” between the classical definition and the historical, it’s a name for a strong-willed character who is more interested in reaching their goals than anything else.

Jackson (Jackie) means “Son of Jack”. Since he’s Jackson Jr., it shows the strong resemblance (character not physical) to his father. The fact that he shortens it to Jackie instead of Jack shows his stubborn non-conforming streak.

Angela is the female version of Angelus. It’s original meaning being “Messenger” or “Messenger of God”. I’ll be completely honest and tell you I just liked the name. There was a character on Bones, who managed to be both artistic and brilliant with technology. I liked the idea of a character trying to balance two aspects of her life. Balancing two parts of herself is a long running theme with my character Angela.

I almost always name a character based off who they are and what they’ll grow into. That works really well for characters, but not so well for Baby Dragons. (If only I had a time machine.)

We’ve had several names for you chosen for a long time. They’ve changed and moved around, but we never really worried about it. Now that you’re on your way, it feels a little more urgent.

There were a few things we wanted in a name: it needed to sound okay in French and English, it needed to be something that didn’t sound weird for a lawyer, doctor, teacher, judge, prime-minister etc (The Right Honourable Yoda Desmarais wasn’t an option), it needed to be something that wasn’t ridiculously common, and it needed to be something people wouldn’t make fun of.

That’s a high order, but we ended up with five names that we liked. One we sort of lost interest in. Another we told to someone and they reacted so poorly that your Mum didn’t want to use the name anymore. (I’m contrary and almost insisted on the name, but decided that was a bad reason.)

That has left us with three names. Two are relatively traditional but the third is different. It’s still easily pronounceable and follows our guidelines above. I made the mistake of mentioning it to someone (I’m contrary and learn slowly) and they don’t think it’s a good idea because it’s not a traditional name. I’m not sure which we’ll pick. I’m procrastinating by saying we’ll wait to meet you, but that’s just an excuse.

A lot of people, articles, etc. have pushed the importance of picking a name and it’s stressful to think about.

Fortunately, no matter what we name you, you’ll grow into it. It will become you and you’ll become it.

Hopefully we pick well, but worst case scenario you can always change it.

Your Loving Papa

No I shan’t I’m on Vacation

Hello My Imaginary Friends,

I am going on vacation. I’ll be taking a 4 day scenic trip to Tamriel and a few days to work on secret projects.

I have a new story for you while I’m off hunting dragons.

A lot of things are going on right now so I’ll split it into categories:

Writing

My book is now available on Amazon.ca!!!

This is my first novel and I’m so very proud of it. Order a copy from Amazon or wait for it to be available from the Publisher. It’s up to you.

Once you read it, make sure to review on Goodreads and Amazon to have it recommended to friends and so on.

When I get back from vacation I’ll be starting a massive re-write of the next book in the series Memories of Faust.

JenEric Designs

Some Major Changes are coming to the website. There may be an interruption in service next week but hopefully it won’t be long.

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Coffee Names and Packaging

Let me tell you a secret… I never expected the coffee to be as popular as it is. Because of that I made a few mistakes when I started. The major one was using copyrighted material in the coffee flavour’s name.

Now that it’s doing well I’d rather not be sued, which means one of the major changes that will take place of this year and the next is an update to the coffee names. It’ll be done slowly since we ordered a lot of labels for some.

The only thing I know for sure is I’ll have to rework some of the artwork for a few of them.

If there are any Copyright Holders or Lawyers reading this feel free to give me some advice or knowledge.

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Coffee Sizes and Prices

Changes are coming to the size and price of coffee. With sales up and a regular sales routine I can afford to take a few more risks and buy in bulk. That means things will change a little. Don’t worry it’s all for the best.

We’ll also have some spiffy new stuff to offer.

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I’m off

That’s it for now, lots of exciting top secret stuff going on.

Image borrowed from Sean Celaya.
Image borrowed from Sean Celaya.

See you later and enjoy the new story!

Éric