Untrained Deception Checks, (or How I Found the Right Voice for Faux Ho Ho) – Guest post by ‘Nathan Burgoine

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 right.

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, right?

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 the mix.

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.

The Blurb:

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.

Everdome Book Launch

Hello My Imaginary Friends,

Come celebrate the launch of my newest book Everdome!

The launch will be held October 5th, from 4 to 6 at 3Brewers on Sparks.

There will be readings from Everdome and the other six books being launched.

Join us for the launch of six extraordinary novels! Humour, romance, sci-fi, fantasy, and reality TV? There’s something in here to please everyone!

There will be author readings, you can get your books signed, and we’ll be drawing door prizes. Plus, there will be much fun and merriment!

ACCESSIBILITY NOTE: the elevator is situated in the back of the pub. Please ask staff upon entry and they will guide you to it!

FOOD: Because of the large numbers we usually bring in, they asked us to tell our guests they will have a choice from the group menu. We went with option number one; there will be gluten-free options such as gluten-free buns or lettuce wraps, and there will also be vegan alternatives on site.

Hope to see you all there!

Éric

Everdome Cover Reveal

Hello Readers and Imaginary Friends,

I’m so excited to show you the cover for my next novel Everdome!

Isn’t it pretty? Nathan Fréchette did an amazing job!

Everdome is available for pre-order now!

Everdome!

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.

Thanks for reading,

Éric

Baby Pegasus Tattoo

Hello My Imaginary Friends,

Two years ago I got a Baby Dragon Tattoo, in honour of the baby Dragon.

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.

Tattoo
Baby Dragon Tattoo Feb 2017

After a few years it has faded a little but still looks great.

The colours faded beautifully.

And without further ado here is the new tattoo.

Fresh Pegasus 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.

Here they are together. Hopefully the kids will work together as well as the tattoos.

I’m extremely happy with them.

What do you think?

Éric

2016 Resolution Report Card

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Hello My Imaginary Friends,

So 2016 is almost over. A lot of good things happened to me and my family this year. The best of which being Keladry, AKA Baby Dragon.

Let’s see how well I did with my resolutions for 2016:

1. Write 500 words a day – Pass

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.

10. Prepare Memories of Faust for submission (Added Mid Year) – Pass


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.

 

How’d you do this year?
Éric

More Great News and something about fish

Hello My Imaginary Friends,

Lots of stuff to talk about today. Let’s get started.

More Great News!

They say news comes in threes. At least my Mom used to say that my grandfather said, “Never two without three.” (I’m never quite sure if he actually said those things or she made them up)

Blush

A few months ago my wonderful Wife received a contract to publish Blush, a card game to open communication channels about sex.

Learn more about Blush.

Ask an Anonymous question.

A Study in Aether (Formerly The Mitten Wizard)

Last week I signed a contract to publish my first book. Hopefully to be released this year.

Parasomnia

Today I’ll be signing a contract for Parasomnia. It’s with the same publisher, an awesome small press, as A Study in Aether.

I’m still in shock at how close the two contracts came in.

After almost 7 years of writing seriously and trying to get published I get two contracts? I feel extremely thankful and I little bewildered.

Fortune Cookie

At a party this weekend I got a fortune cookie. It said, “Wisdom comes not from age but from experience.” It’s right but boy did it make me feel old and unwise.

I haven’t lived the most adventurous life but I’d like to think I’ve learned to be wise… maybe just a wiseass.

I will smack you in the face with fish

I read this article this morning and found it to be overall condescending. Maybe it was meant as tongue in cheek… Maybe not.

Either way, be warned, I’m extremely proud of the stuff I, and my wife, make and sell so you’ll be getting smacked in the face by fish… a lot.

Serial Story

So the serial stories aren’t attracting a lot of votes but they do attract a lot of readers. This makes me think I’ve given you too many choices.

You have until Wednesday midnight to vote on which story you’d like to proceed to the next step. The story with the lowest vote count will be eliminated and I’ll put up a new poll.

The poll:

What do you want 2016's Serial Story to be?

  • Wargrave Island (57%, 4 Votes)
  • The Ruby Child (29%, 2 Votes)
  • Faeries Vs Robots Vs Aliens (14%, 1 Votes)
  • The Cosmic Cuckoos (0%, 0 Votes)

Total Voters: 7

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Please Vote!

The stories

Faeries Vs Robots Vs Aliens

The Cosmic Cuckoos

Wargrave Island

The Ruby Child

 

Hope you’re having a great day!

Éric

Ottawa COMICCON 2015

Hey my imaginary friends,

Ottawa ComicCon

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!

ComicCon2015

Throwback Thursday

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.

JF 2001

I’m the dorky one on the left. I think I still have that hat somewhere…

 

See you tomorrow.

Éric