Jen and I were at Can-Con 2022 this weekend in downtown Ottawa. It was wonderful to see all those that could make it, and simultaneously felt like nothing had changed in two and a half years and like everything was a little off. That was probably because of the amount of wonderful people that were missing, either due to COVID or other circumstances.
However, we had a lot of fun and chatted with a lot of people. Jen had her first reading and her first pitch, both of which she handled admirably. No seriously, I think her part of the reading was way better than mine. Definitely better than my first readings.
We signed lots of books, and bought probably more.
It was a good time thanks to everyone who interacted with us.
Another big milestone; it was Dragon’s first event since lockdown. We felt comfortable bringing her since it was vaccine madnatory and masked at all times. She, somehow, remembered her Con manners and everybody loved her. She dialed up the cute to a near-painful level. It was great to see her being social and excited and just having fun with other people. She would walk around the vendor’s room by herself and come bouncing back to tell us about the random words she’d read on various book covers.
A lot of other things happened that I’m sure I’m forgetting right now. The big takeaway was that it was a wonderful convention with great people and one of the few times out of the house that I felt safe.
Thank you to everyone who was there, who bought, who volunteered and organized, and entertained Dragon. To those who couldn’t make it, I hope to see you next year.
Jen and I will be in the vendors room most of the time.
Here are the vendor’s room hours
I have a signing (in the vendors room) from 12-12:30 with awesome John Hass. (Although I’ll sign at any time you catch me.)
Jen has a reading at 1 on Sunday (In Salon D) with the wonderful Madona Skaff. (I’ll be there too and might read if Jen insists.)
Beyond that, I participated in the Digital version of the Con. I prerecorded a panel that will be at 2:30 on Saturday. The panel is called The Horror of Time Loops. I was on it with Gigi Ganguly and Ren Hutchings, both of whom were excellent panelists. Our moderator was Sean Dowie, who did an excellent job.
I’ll try to be in the discord during and after the panel.
It’s been an exciting six months and by that, I mean blarg. I still find it disturbing how much of the world is convinced the pandemic is over. Hopefully soon, we’ll see a vaccine for infants approved in Canada. Then I will feel much better, but I still am going to continue to be careful. It will be a while before I give up my mask.
Anyway, let’s see how I’m doing with my resolutions!
1. Write a monthly serial story (Succeeding)
The hardest part about this year’s serial story is not writing ahead. Currently, as of this writing, dealing with carpal tunnel, that might not be a problem. Read from the beginning of the Aetherverse.
2. Write Guise and DollsFaymous with Jen (Success)
This went famously (haha). I loved writing this story and I’m glad that it’s now vacated that part of my brain that it’s been occupying for the past decade. Unfortunately, a spin-off series has decided to move in.
3. Finish Copper Tarnish(Pending)
Pending health, I have no idea how this is going to go. Hopefully I’ll be able to finish it, but if not, I’m not going to risk injuring myself worse over it.
4. Write book 3 of The Gates of Westmeath with Jen (Pending)
Unlike Copper Tarnish, this book starts from scratch/random jot notes, and won’t need heavy line-editing before I start, so I should be able to do this one with dictation software. I hope.
5. Keep Working on FADDS (Succeeding)
I created an entire ridiculously complex module for mixing components that was just way too much. So, I remade it in a simpler way and it seems to be working really well. I’m continuing to tweak and add more monsters as I go. Mostly, I’m just having fun with the system and my players.
JenEric Designs and Coffee
6. Ensure 5+ days of updates (Succeeding)
You may be sensing a theme, but depending on health issues, we may be dropping to four days a week, but not yet, and I don’t know. So we’ll see.
7. Write a movie review each week (Succeeding)
So far, so good. I might need to create a template to copy-paste to make my life easier.
8. Design and release a new flavour and redesign Green Apple (Pending)
Ottawa ComicCon is happening in September. This one will depend on how my health is. It’s not the highest priority; that will be roasting and packing ComicCon levels of coffee.
9. Read 5 Books (Pending)
Other than books that I’ve written or that Jen wrote, I’m a little behind on this. As in, halfway through the first book. But for some reason, I forsee having more chances to read (if Jen will let me).
10. Be More Patient (shrug)
Honestly, I have no idea how I’m doing on this one. I do know that I’m a terrible injured/sick person. Feeling like I’m letting people down makes me grumpy.
11. Don’t over stress (Failing)
I have developed tools to help me de-stress. Playing ukulele, reading, writing, playing video games, and cooking. The only one of those that I can currently do without hurting myself is reading. Let’s hope this dictation software works and doesn’t add to the stress.
My work is also irrationally pushing a return to the office and that’s still causing lots of stress with an unvaccinated toddler. HURRY THE F UP, HEALTH CANADA!
12. Practice bass or ukulele 2-3 times a week (Failing)
I was doing well with this. I even memorized the Spider-man theme on the bass and wrote a song for the ukulele. Unfortunately, I won’t be able to do this for a while.
The good news, I haven’t utterly failed at anything yet and I have a few Successes.
I’m going to take that as a positive and just do what I can for the rest of the year.
If you sign up for the Canadian Science Fiction & Fantasy Association and pay $10, you’ll have access to most of the nominated works. That’s 10+ novels, collections, short stories, and more. The voters package will be available until voting closes on July 23rd.
What are the Aurora Awards?
The Aurora Awards are awards “for excellence in Science Fiction and Fantasy works and activities.” They are administered by the Canadian Science Fiction and Fantasy Association.
It’s a fan-voted award in the vein of the Hugo’s, but with way more awesome people.
Sign up, get ebooks, read, and then vote for your favourites. It’s a great deal and you’ll love the books.
My publisher is looking for people to read submissions. I would love to do it, but I’m not eligible since I keep submitting books to them.
Read below, and if you’re interested in helping choose what awesome books get published, go ahead and apply.
There are so many amazing stories out there, and every time we open ourselves to submissions, we become inundated with them, and it’s become evident that we need help! Please read below to see if this is something that might interest you, and please share this call with your network!
What will I be reading?
Renaissance is interested in stories that live in liminal spaces; between genres, between identities, between states. We love to publish stories of joy, triumph, hope, and optimism; but the optimism which takes work and commitment, the joys which come from radical hope and love. These are the stories we hope to receive, and we hope those will be the ones you will read.
What is the time commitment?
You get to choose your level of commitment, whether that is a manuscript once every few years, or one a month, you are only obligated to read and evaluate the manuscripts you’ve committed to, at the frequency of your choice.
How will I rate the books?
We have a comprehensive form for you to fill out which will guide you through the process of commenting by asking you questions about the plot, characters, style, and our specific editorial concerns. We strongly encourage you to read the questions before you read the manuscript so that you are familiar with what you are looking for, and we will send you those questions on a word document along with the manuscript, and most of the questions are answered on a scale of one to ten, with requests for you to comment on why you chose that number (the final submission for your comments is done via Google Forms.)
Who makes the final decision?
We take your comments under serious advisement! However, you do not bear the burden of the final decision. We make sure that a minimum of three readers read each submission; after that, we look at the results of your evaluation, and based on these cumulative results, we determine whether or not the final acquisitions committee will read the manuscript. When the committee does, they will come to a final decision on the manuscript; your role in the selection process is to filter what ends up on their plate.
What’s in it for me?
Even though this reading work is done on a volunteer basis, this still counts as work experience, which allows us to act as professional references for you in future employment endeavours!
We have received SO MANY amazing stories every time we have opened for submissions in the past, it was sometimes physically painful to say no to some of them. One of (in our opinion) the best perks of reading our incoming manuscripts.
Please apply now if you are interested, and share widely with your network!
Conditions and conflicts of interests
Authors who submit to us trust us with their precious book babies, and we owe it to them to exercise the utmost discretion with it. Be respectful of their creative labour and do not disclose anything you read about the manuscript outside of filling the forms and speaking to Renaissance staff, whether positive or negative; authors deserve to know their ideas, characters, and worlds are safe with us.
3 years after having published a book with us
If you have published a book with Renaissance before, please know you cannot be a reader for us until three years have passed since original publication.
2 years before publishing a book with us
If you choose to be a reader for Renaissance, please know that you cannot also submit a manuscript for our consideration. You must wait at least two years after your resignation from reading for us before you may submit a manuscript.
Other conflicts of interest
You may not be a reader for Renaissance the same calendar year as a member of your immediate family, such as a spouse, parent, or child, submits a work for publication.
You may not be a reader for a work of which you are friends, ex-friends, ex-partners, or family with the author (this includes cousins, niblings, in-laws, grandparents, etc.), or any other person you have an existing relationship with (neighbour, co-worker, dogsitter, cat’s ex-lover’s sister-in-law, etc.) This rule is true whether the feelings you have towards this person are positive, negative, or neutral.
You may not evaluate a work you are also evaluating for another publishing company.
Please make use of judgement when evaluating whether a conflict of interest exists. You are required to disclose any conflict of interest immediately as they arise.
Last night, between Pegasus waking up several times (it’s been a while since he’s done that), insomnia, stress dream, and a couple of days of really bad allergies; I didn’t sleep well.
I’m a little grumpy today. Mumble mumble mumble. So I apologize for today’s disjointed post and possible incoherence.
Jen and I’s newest work in progess is going well. I love being able to plan and geek out about stuff with her as we write. Even if it means we don’t get to bed at anything related to a reasonable hour. I’m planning on writing a song for it and I’m terrified I’ll screw it up.
I read up on the plot, deaths, and story of the new Doctor Strange movie and I have to say it sounds pretty tedious. I loved WandaVision and from what I’ve read, it undoes a lot of the character progression of Wanda and falls into the “hysterical woman” trope that Marvel comics love so much. It’s a good thing Marvel releases so many movies because there are more and more of them that I don’t like.
I’m just waiting for a large bag of dirt that comes in on Friday and I’ll be able to plant my garden. Every year I say I won’t garden, and every year I do. I love the idea of growing my own food. Unfortunately, I only have a green thumb with the help of a marker.
Jen and I are prepping two manuscripts for submission and it’s a little stressful, but fun. Both are related to Assassins! Accidental Matchmakers (Pre-orders now open at your local bookstores for September 15th) and that makes it awkward for our publisher. They have to judge the quality, but also have to decide if it’s financially worth publishing a sequel and story collection without having any sales data. You could make their decision easier by pre-ordering it. 🙂
I’m not good at this whole publicity thing. I need to improve my ability to get people interested about my books. They are awesome, but if you don’t read them, how do you know you want to read them? Jen has all sorts of exciting ideas that are great.
Jen and I have been busy and we have 3 books between the two of us coming out in the next 12 months. They are being published by Renaissance Press and will be available at any place you buy books.
I hope you’re excited, because we sure are!
Assassins! Accidental Matchmakers
Release: September 15th, 2022
Authors: Jen and Éric Desmarais
When Kennedy Fairfield, a recent graduate (Class of 2002) trying to find her purpose in life, or at least a job in her field, saves Jason Johnson, the leader of a secret Community of supernatural people called Aetherborn, from an attempted assassination, they embark on a whirlwind epic romance and adventure.
For Kennedy to help Jason discover why people are disappearing in time to save her friends, they”ll have to navigate teleporting assassins, grumpy wizards, gossiping hags, mafia robots, and secret military groups, all in the city of Westmeath, Ontario, which has more secrets than residents.
Pre-orders for this books are available at all bookstores and ebook vendors.
Release: Spring 2023
Author: Jen Desmarais
When Tommy Fairfield, an ordinary science geek, meets Carter Batudev at the Door Tech March Break camp, chemistry isn’t only in the classroom.
After an epic grounding for some bad decisions with even worse friends, Tommy is lucky to even go to the camp. Thankfully, his mother still drops him off in Westmeath, leaving his sister Kennedy and her fiancé Jason in charge. With love and a renewed interest in STEM, Tommy returns home to Parry Sound.
Despite his parents’ worries, Tommy makes better friends and joins the STEM club, which goes to the province-wide competition in Toronto. Carter’s team is there, too. Romance, STEM, singing, and hijinks ensue.
Includes a novelette from Carter’s POV at the dinner theatre show Knights of Everdome.
The Mystery of the Dancing Lights (A Baker City Mystery Elizabeth Investigates Book 4)
Release: Spring 2023
Author: Éric Desmarais
Mysteries are Elizabeth Coderre’s life, and after wizards, hags, artificers, vampires, kobolds, genies, and killer kittens, she thinks she’s seen everything. She’s wrong!
And when she goes to Riding Thorpe summer camp, which is build on an old government experimental facility, she discovers that there’s a lot she doesn’t know.
Can she solve the mystery of the dancing lights, save her friends, and escape a time loop? Or is she cursed to relive her friends’ deaths forever?
Includes a brand-new murder mystery novella by Jen Desmarais starring Kennedy Fairfield (from Assassins! Accidental Matchmakers) about her 1995 summer vacation in Baker.
For the past 5 years, I’ve been creating books that you can’t read.
Don’t worry, they’re not fiction or that semi-autobiographical Dinosaur Road Trip. (I should work on that again… maybe.)
Every year I make photobooks of the Dragon and now of Pegasus.
It feels extra, but we take roughly 2500 photos of the kids a year and we rarely go look at the digital albums. It’s nice to go pull out the books. It’s like the old photo albums, but without the fading.
So every year I make a copy of the pictures and sort through them and eliminate them until I have 200-250 for each kid and I create a photobook through Costco. It takes a long time. Actually, every year I swear I’ll start earlier or maybe just let a software do it for me, but I can’t do that.
So I’m proud to say that my first two books of the year are printed and published. Yay!
Now to write a story that has been percolating for over 13 years. It started as a dream that Jen had and I came up with a basic plot. Over the years it’s changed a lot, but now it’s time to get it written, and since it was Jen’s dream, she’s going to help me.
We’ve planned and plotted and now I’m going to go write.
2021 was a surreal year, both because I finished writing 4 books and because it started to sink in that this whole pandemic is going to last longer than I expected.
Here’s to hoping 2022 is better.
My resolutions are not breakable promises, but goals that I hope to achieve.
1. Write a monthly serial story
It’s going to be my 9th year in a row doing this and I’m really excited for this year’s story. Get ready to see the beginning of the Aetherverse.
2. Write Guise and Dolls with Jen
After over a decade of waiting, I’m finally going to write this one. Jen’s going to help me and I can’t wait. This will be a more complicated book for us than those we’ve written before because we don’t have an outline in advance.
3. Finish Copper Tarnish
I started this book in November 2016. It’s time to finish it and get the darned story out of my head.
4. Write book 3 of The Gates of Westmeath with Jen
This is super ambitious, but we managed it last year so I’m hoping.
5. Keep Working on FADDS
I’m loving this system and I think it’s a few years (at the rate I’m going) before it’s ready to submit. I’d like to do a cleanup of the monster rules and maybe a reread of the spelling and grammar, but as long as I’m adding stuff, I’m good.
JenEric Designs and Coffee
6. Ensure 5+ days of updates
I’m going to do my best to keep our 5 day a week schedule. We’re in a nice little groove, so I think it’ll go okay. If things change, I’ll let you know.
7. Write a movie review each week
I’ve managed it two years now and I think it’s feasible to do it again. People have told me they like the reviews, so I’ll continue.
8. Design and release a new flavour and redesign Green Apple
In theory, Ottawa ComicCon is supposed to happen in September. I’m not sure what this or future variants will mean for events, but I need to get ready. I’d like to get these done and roast appropriately.
9. Read 5 Books
I failed miserably at this last year. I’ve lost my dedicated reading time and I need to find another. I love reading and I miss it.
10. Be More Patient
Every year I get a little better and I’m trying really hard not to yell as much. Hopefully I can keep getting calmer and move more towards gentle parenting.
11. Don’t over stress
This will probably be a fail but I need to learn how to destress. I have minor depression and when I spiral I get very stressed, defensive, and insecure. It’s not fun and I need to learn when it happens and treat it like a health issue instead of noticing after I get snippy with my wife.
Beyond that, I also don’t react well physically when I get stressed and I need to learn how to destress for my health.
12. Practice bass or ukulele 2-3 times a week
I got a beautiful Kala U-bass for Christmas and need to use it. I’m hoping for daily, but that won’t happen. I love making pretty noises and I know it helps me destress.
So after 4 years of slowly getting worse at my resolutions, I have made this ambitious list. Let’s hope I can do it and no matter what, I know I’ll have something to show at the end.
I wish for you all you need to complete your resolutions.