Process of writing

Kennedy and Jason, in their first iterations, appeared in our D&D game in 2010. Kennedy Fairfield was Kennedy Lake, and she was a kindergarten teacher who had an affinity for guns. Jason Johnson was Giles Momoa, and he was a Mafia leader that the player characters had to interrogate. Kennedy rolled a natural 20 and did something fancy, getting his attention, and they flirted and eventually became romantically involved. The other players liked him too, and he kept coming back into the game. When that game ended, we played a superhero game, and Jen played Giles’s niece, a 6 year old water creator named Chelsea who couldn’t control her creation. She appears in our book as Brooke, Jason’s niece. After that game ended, that was it; we put them all aside.

Fast forward ten years, and we didn’t really remember the storylines from the game, but the characters really stuck in our heads (although we had forgotten most of their names, other than Kennedy’s first name). And then we started discussing potentially writing a book about them, together.

We started off by talking about it A LOT in Fall 2020. Then on Jan 1, 2021, we sat down and wrote jot notes for the first Act. We split the book between us by main character and alternated chapters (minus a couple places in Act 2). When we finished the first Act, we made jot notes for the second. And again for the third.

We have a separate document for the cast of characters and important locations, with descriptions about each so we could stay consistent.

We wrote in Google docs. After each chapter, the other person edited, and then Jen read it aloud to Keladry (4.5yo). She picked up on a lot of repetitive words and typos that way…

It worked really well for us, but we understand why it wouldn’t work for everyone.

We finished the first draft on March 14, 2021.

More than half of the words Jen wrote were written on her phone while nursing Adrien (18-20mo) to sleep!

Lots of writing late at night happened. Éric would bring his laptop to bed and write while Jen was nursing Adrien (when it was his turn to write). Occasionally, we’d get a nice chunk of time in the middle of the day when the kids were playing well together, and we could write.

One memorable occasion, Jen wrote 4k words during our daughter’s virtual school day while she (Dragon) was paying attention to the teachers. :O

Location and Time

Why Westmeath?

It’s set in the city of Westmeath, Ontario, which is a real place, but in real life is a small farming area. In our book, something significant was discovered there and a very large city popped up very quickly (think 3/4 the size of Montreal, about 1.1 million people) in the 1970s. The sister city is Demers, Quebec, which is about the same size. There are about 60 high schools in Westmeath.

We wanted a fictional city so that we could add areas, streets, and stores without worrying about real locations. There are certain areas that are based off of real-life locations (Kennedy’s apartment is based on the apartments at Lees in Ottawa, for example).

The characters were originally from a table top role playing game we played in 2010 and at the time, Éric wanted to have a city that could be a pastiche of Ottawa, Montreal, Toronto, and Gotham.

Why 2002?

The book is set in 2002 to avoid conflicting or crossing over with too many elements of the rest of the Aetherverse, specifically events that will happen in summer of 2016 in book 7 of Elizabeth Investigates Her Last Bow.

Beyond wanting to avoid giving away the series ending (not to mention not wanting to deal with the pandemic) we also were in late high school and early university at the time and have some fond memories.

Music playlist 2002

One of the first things we did when writing this book was build a 2002 playlist.

I had already started writing my first chapter, and Kennedy had entered a bakery. I thought, shouldn’t there be music playing? What music would have been popular in September 2002?

Cue a post on Facebook asking about our friends’ favourite artists from twenty years ago. (Twenty? What?)

We bought a bunch of CDs to supplement what we already owned, and built an epic playlist to listen to while we wrote to add atmosphere. An entire scene in chapter 5 wouldn’t have been there without this playlist.

Songs used in the book (in order of appearance):

Ordinary Day by Vanessa Carlton

Lapdance by N.E.R.D. (not safe for children)

Lovers in a Dangerous Time by Barenaked Ladies

I Want You by Savage Garden

Let me Entertain You by Robbie Williams

The Nearness of You by Norah Jones

Bumble Bees by Aqua

Beautiful by Christina Aguilera

Ballroom Blitz by Sweet

Cartoon Heroes by Aqua

Deep Enough by Live

A New Day Has Come by Celine Dion

If The World Crashes Down by Enrique Iglesias

Bands and artists we listened to, in alphabetical order:

Alanis Morissette, Alicia Keys, Aqua, Avril Lavigne, Barenaked Ladies, Bloodhound Gang, Britney Spears, Bryan Adams, Cake, Celine Dion, Cher, Christina Aguilera, Chumbawumba, Coldplay, Creed, Daniel Bélanger, Dave Matthews Band, David Usher, Destiny’s Child, Enrique Iglesias, Enya, Éric Lapointe, Evanescence, Faith Hill, Fellowship of the Ring soundtrack, Flogging Molly, Foo Fighters, Garou, Goo Goo Dolls, Great Big Sea, Green Day, Jagged Edge, Jennifer Lopez, Jennifer Page, Jewel, Kevin Parent, Len, Live, Macy Gray, Meatloaf, Midday Blackout, Natasha St-Pierre, Nelly, Nelly Furtado, Nickelback, Nightwish, Nine Inch Nails, Norah Jones, Pearl Jam, Phil Collins, P!nk, Radiohead, Red Hot Chili Peppers, Reel Big Fish, REM, Remy Shand, Ricky Martin, Robbie Williams, Rush, S Club 7, Sarah McLachlan, Savage Garden, Seal, Shakira, Sheryl Crow, Sky, Smashmouth, Spice Girls, Sum 41, Tea Party, Third Eye Blind, U2, Vanessa Carlton

Publishing, Co-writing, and Life

Hello My Imaginary Friends,

As you may have read in yesterday’s post, the book Jen and I wrote in winter 2021 has been accepted by a publisher. Renaissance Press is growing fast, lots of amazing authors, anthologies, and books. I wasn’t sure they’d have room for us.

This is going to be my 7th book (Book six Coffee Shop Between the ‘Verses comes out on September 15th.) and I’m always nervous about submitting. This is the first novel that I’ve submitted only to Renaissance, normally I go through the motions of sending them to agents, editors, and contests. I submitted Everdome to a dozen agents and twice as many companies. I received two nice rejections and a lot of silence. I realize that’s what it’s like to be an author. So glad Renaissance accepted this book and that we didn’t need to try to get it out to other, less open, publishers.

One of the joys of this book is the enthusiasm and excitement of my co-author. Her enthusiasm keeps me on track and excited while her excellent writing forces me to up my game. We each have strengths that compliment each other.

I assumed it would be very easy to tell who wrote what parts, but our styles must mesh well because most of our beta readers couldn’t tell which sections were mine and which were hers. I think that’s really cool and I look forward to writing more with her.

Now that this book has a contract we’re hoping to start work on the sequel soon. I’d like to get a little further into Elizabeth 4, which is taking me forever. So I’m hoping mid September or early October. Meanwhile, Jen has started a spin-off novel and we’ve written a short story collection.

Things are about to get really hectic here. Dragon and Jen have decided that it’s best for the kid to go to digital school full time in the Fall. That means a complete change in bedtime schedule for both kids. I foresee a lot of meltdowns and lack of sleep in late August and early September and that’s just for me.

Hopefully we’ll all be vaccinated by Christmas and Dragon can do her last semester of Kindergarten in person.

Stay Safe and be kind,

Éric

Breaking News!

Pardon me while I interrupt your regularly scheduled posts to inform you that…

Drum roll, please!

Assassins! Accidental Matchmakers has been picked up by Renaissance Press for publishing! It will be published in Fall 2022 (twenty years after its setting).

We are so ridiculously excited about this, you have no idea!!

Our family wearing different coloured shirts that all say “Assassins! Accidental Matchmakers”

Organizations in Westmeath

Businesses

Oldtown Council

A council of seven members that owns lands and businesses in the Oldtown district of Westmeath. They are prominent members of the Community and the Council dates back to the original founding of Westmeath.

Westmeath Agricultural Research Cooperative (Westmeath ARC)

A research and development agricultural facility, they hold the patents to countless hearty crops and pest resistant strains. One of the world’s top agricultural researchers, Dr Amita Dubois, runs the cooperative.

It is funded by the Oldtown Council and its crops are used as a form of food bank and low income supplementation.

Yggdrasil Corporation

A subsidiary of Aesir Holdings, they own an empty warehouse and small fleet of black vans. It is suspected that they are a front for something, but unsure what.

Unidentified Tech Companies

In the sixties, several large tech companies moved facilities to Westmeath due to military contracts. With the tech companies came people, infrastructure, schools, and other businesses. In under fifteen years, Westmeath went from a backwater town to a metropolitan city.

The tech companies are extremely paranoid and have built massive city block sized campuses that have security walls around them.

Organized Crime

Andromeda Syndicate

One of the most elusive crime groups in the country, it is known to only operate in Westmeath, Toronto, and Quebec City. The Syndicate is brutal to its enemies and controls a lot of the smuggling and human trafficking in its territory.

Blue Bloods

One of the country’s most notorious, and hard to shut down, gangs. They operate each city as a cell with no one knowing the national leaders. They mostly deal in drugs, thugs, weapons, and robberies. 

Daemon Bikers

The Daemon Bikers are Westmeath’s largest drug dealers. They deal in everything. They are known to make deals rather than go into a turf war. 

Religious Organizations

Bifröst

This is a new religion that believes that a great power, they call the Key, will unlock a gate to a new world where they and the devout will be given their eternal reward. They seem to mix Christian, Norse, and science fiction concepts. 

They are known to be violently devout.

Our Lady of Mount Carmel church

An Anglican Church first built in the early 1900’s. The Reverend is known to be extremely accepting. This church is also an Aetherborn sanctuary.

Siblings of Death

A cult of trained assassins that believe the way to paradise is on a wave of blood. Once they are hired for a job they do not stop trying.

Introducing Secondary Characters Part 3/3

These are a few of the secondary characters in Assassins! Accidental Matchmakers.

See Part 1 and Part 2

In order of appearance:

Rachel

Appearance inspired by Aimee Carrero

Age: 20

Date of Birth: Unknown

Appearance: Dark hair and tan skin

Job: Student in third year at Westmeath University, working in sales at Discreet Frills

Connection to Protagonists: Coworker of Kennedy’s, was babysat by Jason when they were younger

Nick

Appearance inspired by Colton Haynes

Age: 23

Date of Birth: Unknown

Appearance: Grey eyes

Job: Head server at The Hawaiian in Oldtown

Connection to Protagonists: Works at Jason’s restaurant

Jesse

Appearance inspired by Tom Cavanagh

Age: mid-50s

Date of Birth: Unknown

Appearance: Tall and thin, greying hair

Job: Owns and operates Mortimer’s Diner in Oldtown

Connection to Protagonists: Jason loves his Hungry Man’s breakfast

Introducing Secondary Characters Part 2/3

These are a few of the secondary characters in Assassins! Accidental Matchmakers.

See Part 1 here.

In order of appearance:

Zhanna and Lydia Turgeneva

Appearance inspired by Jackie Burroughs and Cloris Leachman

Age: Unknown (very old)

Date of Birth: Unknown

Appearance: Old, hunched demeanor, Lydia uses a cane carved to look like Baba Yaga’s house

Job: They own and operate a tailoring and sewing store called Seams Likeable in Oldtown

Connection to Protagonists: Kennedy’s neighbours

Judy Fauche

Appearance inspired by Lorraine Toussaint

Age: Early 60s

Date of Birth: Unknown

Appearance: Very large, red hair, Black

Job: Owns and operates Judy’s Butchery in Oldtown, has a dojo on the third floor above it and runs classes on the weekends, in charge of policing and protection for the Oldtown Council

Connection to Protagonists: Trained Jason in Kung Fu

Michelle and Evanna Swan

Appearance inspired by Michelle Trachtenberg and young Alexa Gerasimovich

Age: Early 30s and 3

Date of Birth: Unknown

Appearance: Single mother and daughter, blonde

Job: Unknown

Connection to Protagonists: Kennedy’s neighbours

See Part 3

Mid-Year review of Éric’s 2021 New Year’s Resolutions

Hello My Imaginary Friends,

It’s a good thing that my wife reminded me I made these cause I had completely forgotten. The past sixish months have been a roller coaster of emotion and a study in lack of sleep.

Here are my resolutions for this year.

Let’s get right into this and see how I did.

Writing

1. Write a Monthly Serial Story (Succeeding)

I’m pretty proud of this year’s story and impressed with how easy it is to write. Check out Diamond Stars and the Galactic Heist now.

2. Start and write half of SUPER MYSTERY BOOK PROJECT Assassins! Accidental Matchmakers. (Success)

Oh my. This went so much better than I could have hoped. We managed 100k words and Jen went a step further and wrote most of a short story collection to go with it. We submitted the book to Renaissance Press in May and are planning on writing the sequel in the Fall.

3. Write Another Hal Story (Failing)

I haven’t written another Sun Speaker universe story, unfortunately. However, I have written over 20,000 words in short stories for the short story collection that follows Assassins. That counts for something right?

JenEric Designs and Coffee

4. Ensure 5+ days of updates (Succeeding)

So far so good. What I’m most struggling with is the movie reviews. Not writing, but watching. We’re watching too much television and not enough movies.

Editing and Marketing

5. Start Editing Dinosaur Road Trip (Fail)

I’m going to call this now. I don’t have the motivation to do this. As much as I love the story, there are other stories to work on.

6. Keep Working on FADDS (Succeeding)

I’ve reworked tables into accessible columns and added a whole new power section to the rules. My playtesters are fantastic and things are going well.

Personal

7. Read 15 Books (Failing)

I was reading at night before bed, but since writing Assassins at that time worked so well, I’ve been doing it for Elizabeth 4 and short stories. That means I’ve barely finished 2 books this year. I doubt I’m making this.

8. Play more games with the kids (Succeeding)

We haven’t done enough board games, but that’s mostly because the 2 year old can’t follow. We bought a Nintendo Switch and both kids play Mario Kart and I’ve been playing Yoshi Craft World with Dragon. I’ve also been playing Link’s Awakening, which both kids love to watch.

9. Be More Patient (Unsure)

I still yell a little too much and I’m a little too stressed. I need to chill. I’m doing a little better but I still need to work on it.

10. Keep pressing my doctor to find out what those attacks were in November (Fail)

In November I had some serious health issues. I had massive cramping in my lower left abdomen, fever, weakness, nausea, and fatigue. It happened twice in November and both times faded away.

So I haven’t pressed on this. I probably won’t. It hasn’t happened again and when I started to feel something similar I made sure to de-stress and relax a little and it helped. I don’t know what happened, but at this point I’ll see if it happens again.


Results

Well it’s not great but it’s not bad either. I’ll call that roughly 50%. I’m not going to add anything to this since I already have my hands full trying to improve this score.

  • 1 Success
  • 4 Succeeding
  • 2 Fail
  • 2 Failing
  • 1 Unsure

What do you think? How are your resolutions going?

Éric

Introducing Secondary Characters Part 1/3

These are a few of the secondary characters in Assassins! Accidental Matchmakers.

In order of appearance:

Carter Batudev

Appearance inspired by Max Torina

Age: 14

Date of Birth: March 5, 1988

Appearance: Long and gangly, grey eyes

Job: Grade 9 student at Oldtown High School

Connection to Protagonists: Kennedy tutors him in math, son of the bakers at Oven Baked in Oldtown

Vee (Veronica) Giles

Appearance inspired by Olesya Rulin

Age: 25

Date of Birth: Unknown

Appearance: Short and pale, with shoulder length chocolate wavy brown hair, large eyes, heart shaped face, and pointy chin; has an air of innocence

Job: Something in engineering

Connection to Protagonists: Jason’s best friend and the Phantom’s ‘Person in the Chair

Claude

Appearance inspired by David Nykl

Age: 66

Date of Birth: Unknown

Appearance: Silver hair, attractively wrinkled face, handsome and affluent

Job: Manager of Jason’s restaurant The Hawaiian, treasurer of the Oldtown Council

Connection to Protagonists: Honorary uncle to Jason

Dr Amita Dubois

Appearance inspired by Amita Suman

Age: Unknown

Date of Birth: Unknown

Appearance: Tall, lanky, large eyes

Job: Lead researcher at Westmeath Agricultural Research Cooperative (Westmeath ARC)

Connection to Protagonists: Tutor of Jason’s during high school

See Part 2 and Part 3