This summer, I was lucky enough to take part in an all-writer Dungeons & Dragons campaign, alongside some amazing authors. Brandon Crilly was our DM, Marie Bilodeau was our fast-talking, shanty-singing aasimar bard, Evan May played a hysterical bugbear monk of few words (and even less grammar), Kevin Hearne played a grumpy human former-soldier turned ranger, and I rounded out the group with my perceptive—but really honest and trusting—half-elf cleric of the sea goddess. In the middle of a tense scene, where we were pretty sure we were up against a particularly bad foe who was skeptical of our arrival not being a hostile invasion (it was totally a hostile invasion, but we were hoping to convince him to leave without a fight), my wee half-elf tried an untrained deception check.
It went poorly. Or at least, he ended up
having to blast the villain with the wrath of his sea-goddess, so it didn’t go
as planned. But that’s D&D. You make a plan, the plan falls apart, you
throw lightning and thunder around. Repeat.
Over the same time period, I was also
working on a holiday-set, fake relationship trope romance novella, and our
D&D sessions turned out to help coalesce some facets I was struggling with
when it came to my protagonist, Silas. The set-up for Faux Ho Ho is
pretty simple: Silas’s family isn’t particularly supportive of him, but they’re
in the public eye as a political family, so they take pains to make things look
better than they are. He lives in Ottawa, they live in Alberta, allowing him to
keep his distance when he can, but at the start of the story, they’re trying to
wrangle him back home for Thanksgiving, partly so they can have him included in
an event for his eldest brother, a Member of Parliament, keeping the optics of
“we support our queer kid” if not the actions. Silas can’t think of a single thing
to get out of it, and then his roommate—who his parents don’t know
exists—pretends to be his boyfriend, claiming they have plans already with his
family for Thanksgiving. This sets into motion a series of further fibs that
send Silas and his roommate on a path to a happy-ever-after, albeit one with
quite a few hiccoughs on the way.
Now, Silas is an introverted sort, a coder
geek and a gaming nerd, and while this is by no means outside of my wheelhouse
(I mean, I don’t really code, but otherwise) I was struggling to find the right
way to present Silas to the reader. His voice, in early drafts, wasn’t landing
Then we had the D&D session with my half-elf’s
botched deception check and it struck me. While Silas is staring down his
parents on the Skype call, his “boyfriend” behind him, Silas has to lie
outright to them if he wants out of the Thanksgiving visit. I slipped into his
point of view and wrote:
Okay. He could do this. He’d never put
any points into deception in his entire life, but natural twenties happened,
And there he was. From that moment on,
Silas took shape in my head, and everything started to flow just-so. Before I
knew it, writing Silas’s dialog, his reactions, and his thoughts wasn’t just
easier, it was fun, and I realized it was the first time I’d written a D&D
playing adult as the protagonist of a romance, and I couldn’t for the life of
me figure out why I’d waited so long. I write queer characters in romance
specifically because I want to see people like me with happy endings, but I
hadn’t gone that extra step to add this particular flavor of nerdy gamer into
Dungeons & Dragons became one of the geeky
lenses through which Silas viewed the world, and it was a joy to put those
references in there. Luckily, my editor also has a history with the game, so I
didn’t have to explain too much (and, in fact, some of the editing notes that
came back included D&D references in return). Silas and his gaming group even
get to play a session in Faux Ho Ho. Silas also dresses up in a Dungeons
& Dragons cartoon cosplay outfit at one point (spoiler: he’s Presto).
In short, if it wasn’t for those gaming
sessions this summer, and my writer friends who always have my back, I’m not
even sure Faux Ho Ho would have made it out of the gate.
As for Silas’s ongoing deception checks to
maintain the illusion of him and his “boyfriend” at his sister’s Christmas
wedding, and how it all works out with his family and his roommate? Well, if
you want to know how that particular campaign turns out, the answer is in Faux
Ho Ho. But since Faux Ho Ho is a romance, it’s not a spoiler to say that
even though it absolutely doesn’t go to plan, it definitely ends happily.
Silas Waite doesn’t want his big-C Conservative Alberta family to know he’s barely making rent. They’d see it as yet another sign that he’s not living up to the Waite family potential and muscle in on his life. When Silas unexpectedly needs a new roommate, he ends up with the gregarious—and gorgeous—personal trainer Constantino “Dino” Papadimitriou.
Silas’s parents try to browbeat him into visiting for Thanksgiving, where they’ll put him on display as an example of how they’re so tolerant for Silas’s brother’s political campaign, but Dino pretends to be his boyfriend to get him out of it, citing a prior commitment. The ruse works—until they receive an invitation to Silas’s sister’s last-minute wedding.
Silas loves his sister, Dino wouldn’t mind a chalet Christmas, and together, they could turn a family obligation into something fun. But after nine months of being roommates, then friends, and now “boyfriends,” Silas finds being with Dino way too easy, and being the son that his parents barely tolerate too hard. Something has to give, but luckily, it’s the season for giving. And maybe what Silas has to give is worth the biggest risk of all.
You can pre-order Faux Ho Ho at the
Bold Strokes Books webstore in all e-formats; it will also be available
December 10th, 2019, wherever quality LGBT e-books are sold.
‘Nathan Burgoine grew up a reader and studied literature in university while making a living as a bookseller. His first published short story was “Heart” in the collection Fool for Love: New Gay Fiction. This began his long love affair with short fiction, which has seen dozens more short stories published, including his first collection Of Echoes Born. Even though short fiction is his favorite, ‘Nathan stepped into novel writing, and his first novel, Light, was a finalist for a Lambda Literary Award. Triad Blood and Triad Soul are available now from Bold Strokes Books, as well as his first YA novel, Exit Plans for Teenage Freaks. More novels, novellas, as well as works of short fiction are always under way.
S.M. Ardwur’s epic ten novel series and the world’s biggest MMORPG is a world fractured by a magical disaster and saved from destruction by a brave king and mad wizard. It is now formed of twelve floating continents with magical domes protecting them.
For thirteen lucky contestants, when a man dressed as a knight offers them the opportunity to visit their favourite fantasy world as an immersive reality show, there’s only one answer they can give: YES!
The level of impressiveness is beyond anything they can believe and some of them start to wonder why.
Abigail, James, Krista, Nicole, Richard, and Megan have to learn how to play the game and win; the fate of Everdome depends on it.
I’m really proud of this one and I can’t wait to hear what people think.
With Pegasus coming, I decided to get another tattoo to match. Again I commissioned the incredibly talented S.M. Carrière to design it and went to Living Colour Tattoo in downtown Ottawa. I requested the same artist Patrick Drouin. He and S.M. worked fantastically on the tattoo and we got a wonderful result.
Here’s what the Dragon Tattoo looked like when I first go it.
After a few years it has faded a little but still looks great.
And without further ado here is the new tattoo.
I expect that the colours will fade a little and take on the same pastel hue as the Dragon one has. Here they are together.
I might not have written every day, but between the blog, stories, and novels, I’ve written approximately 120,000 this year. It’s not quite 500 a day, but I wrote most days and that’s a good thing.
2. Complete Everdome before April – Fail
I finished before July and I’m still editing it, but at least I’m not a total slacker.
3. Start and finish a new novel – Half Pass
I’ve started The Copper Tarnish and I’m roughly a third of the way through, which is pretty good. I won’t have the time to finish it this year.
4. Read 30 books – Fail
As I’m writing this, I’m at 23 books for the year and I don’t think I’ll make it. A combination of Pokémon Go taking up my bus rides this summer and not having bus rides since September.
5. Write a Monthly or Bimonthly Serial Story – Pass
Wargrave Island was the most difficult serial story so far, but I’m happy with what I learned during it. I’m also happy that I managed to finish it without much trouble.
6. Test, Produce, and Develop a total of 16 Coffee flavours – Pass
At JenEric Coffee’s website we have 16 different flavours available and I have another 5 potential ones for next year. So yay coffee!
7. Develop a simple concept for a Youtube show – Half Pass
I have the concept but not the enthusiasm to actually make it. I think I may need to rethink how much I want to have a YouTube show.
8. Playtest the various stages of FADDS and prepare it for submission in 2017 – Fail
I played two games a week of FADDS and managed to get the system to a wonderful balance. Then in September I came up with 3 new power types for players and ran out of time before Baby Dragon came around. It’s close but it’ll have to go into next year’s resolutions.
9. Update JenEric-Designs.ca and add a proper webstore – Pass
I updated the look and feel of the website and built a total of 3 webstores before settling on the one we’re using for coffee.
Looks like I managed six out of ten resolutions. 60% is a pass in my book. I make these in order to push myself and to be completely honest I don’t expect that I will finish them all, but I’m extremely proud of what I have accomplished this year.
Stay tuned on Thursday for my 2017 New Years Resolutions.
I’ve spent the last month completely revamping JenEric Designs booth set up for ComicCon and prepping stock.
This will be the first time we sell at a Con this big. We’ve done PopExpo, Geek Market, and Creative Ottawa Nerds Craft Fair, but they’re tiny in comparison to the amount of people that go to ComicCon.
I’ve been up late every day this week working on something and I’ll be staying up late tonight to roast more coffee for free samples. I’ll have brewed coffee for free (Crazy?)
I’m not going to lie, it’s stressful. I look forward to relaxing on Monday. I’m also ridiculously excited. So come see us at booth 2203!
This picture is of me and two of my good friends from way back in 2001. We were volunteering with the 2001 Francophonie Games in Ottawa. The games are like the Commonwealth games but for French speaking nations. It’s was a great time.
I’m the dorky one on the left. I think I still have that hat somewhere…