My biggest stress relievers before my injury were playing video games, making pretty noises on the ukulele, reading, writing, and baking.
All of those use your arms.
I was able to make some adjustments and still bake. I have an excellent helper and a wonderful new mixer. I can even write in small bursts or with text to speech.
I can read on my kobo if I prop it on some pillows. However, reading outside the house is near impossible without hurting my neck. I definitely can’t read when I’m getting physio. My wonderful wife recomended I listen to an audiobook.
We owned the Percy Jackson series so I listened to those and they were great. I then discovered the AMAZING selection of audiobooks available at the Ottawa Public Library. I’m really impressed with their selection.
Audiobooks have been a massive help in relaxing while at work. I’m currently supposed to work 20 minutes and then rest for 30. I do my stretches and listen to my audiobooks. It’s relaxing and means I’m not holding my phone or figiting too much.
So yes, Yay for audiobooks! And double yay for the OPL!
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.
I’m not sure when it happened, but I became one of those people who has trouble not doing something. I’ve always fidgited and couldn’t fully sit still, but at some point my inability to sit still went from physical to mental.
I do a lot of things for various projects, jobs, etc. There’s always something to do. Because of that, I’ve had a hard time reading for pleasure.
I completely stopped during university and was fine until parental leave. There’s not much I can do on the bus other than read, video games, or emails. I tried writing, but it wasn’t easy. So for the past fifteen years I’ve read on the bus and it’s worked really well, allowing me to read an average of 20 or so novels a year.
Since my second parental leave, I’ve had a lot harder a time. There are three reasons:
The first is simple and is just the lack of bus and forced time set aside.
The second will sound petty, but it’s my kids. I love my little Dragon and Pegasus, but they don’t seem to like me reading. Pegasus will physically put himself between me and a book or my kobo. Then when I put it down, he’ll go away and do something else.
He’s older now, so hopefully he’s getting over it, but I still have this weird instinct of not reading around him.
The third is something I’ve been been struggling with for a while. When I read, I feel like I should be doing something else. That’s how my relaxing evening reading turned into writing (that worked out for writing). There’s a kind of guilt and panic when I read that I’m having a hard time getting over.
I need to keep telling myself it’s okay to do things that aren’t productive. It’s okay to take ten or twenty minutes to be a little selfish. The other things will wait.
It’s okay to do things for pleasure and not production!
Maybe if I say it enough times it’ll sink in? I detest that I can know something intellectually and somehow not actually believe it deep down.
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.
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.
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.
What do you think? How are your resolutions going?
Today marks the first day of a whole new year. A made up, arbitrary, unimportant date that nonetheless feels like a renewal and rebirth. The human mind and spirit is a fascinating and messed up thing.
Last year was all over the place. I was on paternity leave, we went to Disney World, and then PANDEMIC. I’m ridiculously privileged that I got to work from home and we didn’t lose much income (Jen’s travel booking did suffer). I got to spend so much more time with my son than I would have and that’s a blessing.
Our schedule and lineup will be changing, but that’s another post. I’m going to hopefully keep up the streak of having at least 5 posts per week.
Editing and Marketing
5. Start Editing Dinosaur Road Trip
I wrote this novel in 2017 and my weditor edited it. I need to go through it and make the recommended changes and edits. Maybe even pass it to the next beta reader… It’s just such a personal book that it’s hard to revisit.
6. Keep Working on FADDS
The system isn’t perfect, but it’s getting better every playtest. I want to keep playtesting and adding on to the powers. Maybe rethink the advanced classes and powers.
7. Read 15 Books
Like writing, I need to carve out time to read. It’s important to both my mental energy and health.
8. Play more games with the kids
I need to play more board games and video games now that the kids are getting older. It’ll be a fun activity.
9. Be More Patient
This is a hard one. I yell a little too much and it’s not good for me or the kids. I need more patience with them, work, and life in general.
10. Keep pressing my doctor to find out what those attacks were in November
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.
It also happened last year and I went to the emergency room, but they couldn’t find anything wrong.
In mid-December, I called and asked the receptionist to get a referral to a specialist. I think this is related to my IBS and other issues, but I’m not a doctor.
I’ll keep pushing.
Those are my resolutions for 2021. Ambitious, but less so than in the past.
I made a goal for myself this summer…to read some books. I even went to a library and took out nine books of a variety of genres and authors in the hopes to kick start this goal. It’s August 1st as I write this and I haven’t touched a single one of them. Yet, I have read over 1 749 260 words since July 1st. A MILLION AND A HALF WORDS! Which, based on an average 80k word book, is roughly 22 books. But I haven’t opened a physical book…or actually, I haven’t opened any published books. Allow me to introduce to you a written world often unknown, often disgraced…the world of fanfiction.
For those of you not in the know, Mirriam-Webster defines fanfiction as “stories involving popular fictional characters that are written by fans and often posted on the Internet — called also fanfic”. So basically, a story created by someone who isn’t the original author. Sound familiar? Your thoughts might automatically jump to Fifty Shades of Grey, one of the most infamous examples of current media that started off as a Twilight Fanfiction. But many popular stories can be fit into this definition. Lion King? Simply a lion AU (alternate universe) version of Hamlet. While on the topic of Shakespeare, Romeo and Juliet? One of the most famous love stories of all time? Basically a fix-it fic of Arthur Brooke’s The Tragical Historye of Romeus and Juliet which could be viewed as an AU of the legend of Tristan and Iseult and it just keeps going.
My first experience with fanfiction was asking my sister what she was reading on the computer when I was in grade 6 (after the fourth book came out). “A book about Harry Potter written by a fan,” she answered after several minutes of my persistent asking. WHAT? My brain was so confused – why would someone a) write a Harry Potter book that wasn’t J.K. Rowling and b) why would someone read a book written by someone who wasn’t J.K. Rowling? Fast forward four years to me in high school, lamenting to my friend that I really wanted Ron and Hermione to develop a romantic relationship in the series. “Why don’t you just read some fanfics? I know a couple you would love!” WHAT? Fanfiction? NOoooooooooo. But I gave it a go…and haven’t looked back since.
So why is the main social perspective of fanfiction viewed so poorly? What uses are there for this form of storytelling? The answer to the first question is one I cannot answer, but probably stems from the fact it is mostly written and read by marginalized people looking for representation. That is a whole other aspect that could be examined in another article (there are some awesome posts and threads about this on Tumblr and Twitter that are far more eloquent than anything I could write). The answer to the second question is far easier to express.
Writing fanfiction is a great tool for writers.
Want to work on characterization without having to world build? Write about original characters in a certain fandom world
Want to explore creating a functioning society but don’t want to character design? Write an AU for characters you know well
Struggling with dialogue? Struggling with descriptive passages? Practice with characters and worlds you already know well
Spelling and grammar a problem? Practice with fanfiction!
Reading fanfiction is fun and easy for readers.
TAGS – the best thing about fanfiction is how easy it is to search for the kind of story you want. Want angst with a happy ending? Hurt/comfort. Want sweet wholesome anxiety-free stories? Fluff. Want raw emotions expressed physically through vigorous lovemaking? Smut…well…just adjust the rating to R or E and you can pair that with any other tag to really hone down the type of story you want!
Short or long – based on the amount of time or energy you want to invest in a reading session, you can find short stories to novellas to novels to epic long series
Tropes galore – like reading a certain trope? People love writing them too so you can spend as long as you want exploring the same flavour of story again and again
Unsatisfied with the media you consumed or you simply want more of that world – Fanfiction will fix it or provide you with enough content to satisfy your needs
So yes, I’m obsessed with reading fanfiction and have even dabbled in writing it. There’s a fanfiction from your fandom, about your favourite characters waiting for you for whatever kind of story you are interested in reading. Go forth with an open mind and you can discover some literary gems. Explore fandoms you haven’t even seen the original media of (I’m so into Teen Wolf fanfic right now without ever having seen a single episode), read a genre you don’t normal expose yourself to, and have fun!
(some of these I hesitate to recommend but I’m trying to be impartial):
I’m enjoying some cuddles from Pegasus. You can enjoy this fantastic post by Jamieson Wolf.
Words have the power to heal. I experienced this firsthand.
In 2013, I woke one morning with little motor control
and could barely walk. I went to the doctor and was diagnosed with
Labyrinthitis. I wasn’t allowed to read or watch television or write at my
computer for two weeks. Thankfully, my mother suggested I listen to audiobooks.
I downloaded the first two Harry Potter books and started listening to them,
certain I wouldn’t like them. Thankfully, I fell in love.
Listening to Harry Potter brought the story and the
world that Harry lives in alive for me in a way that reading the book couldn’t.
Hearing Jim Dale read out Harry Potter and the Philosophers Stone and then
Stephen Fry read Harry Potter and the Chamber of Secrets was also a balm to my
soul. Over the two weeks that I had to take off work, I would sit back and
close my eyes and let the words wash over me. I would let the world of Harry
Potter fill in the darkness.
Then other problems began. I didn’t get better. I got
worse. The left side of my body went numb; I fell almost daily. Eventually,
after losing the ability to speak and type on a keyboard (having been able to
type since I was in my teens), I knew that something was very wrong. There was
something else wrong with my body and, after a day in emergency, the doctors
had an idea of what it was that lived within me.
There was a neurologist on staff that night. After
looking me over he informed me that it was probably multiple sclerosis, but
they would have to run tests to make sure. It would be some time until I knew
what was wrong.
I turned to books for comfort. As I didn’t have
Labyrinthitis, the doctors said it was okay for me to read again, thank
goodness. I picked up a book by a new author that one of my friends recommended
to me: Cupcakes at Carrington’s by Alexandra Brown. It was about a woman named
Georgie Hart who was desperate to put her life back in order. In a bizarre
coincidence, she had lost her mother when she succumbed to her multiple
sclerosis. This touched me deeply and I felt deeply connected to the book
because of that. I went on to read Cupcakes at Carrington’s three more times
and it was magical every single time.
I went through a battery of different tests: vision
and hearing, bloodwork, a CAT scan and an MRI and a spinal tap to finish it all
off. Now all I could do was wait. While I waited for the diagnosis, I knew that
I needed to write something, anything. I would lie in bed at night and watch
the stories I wanted to tell float above my head. Before, I could write ten
thousand words in a weekend without breaking a sweat. Now, I could only write
five or so words at a time, forcing my fingers to hit the right keys.
I decided that I had to write. I had to write something.
I had dabbled in poetry in my teens before turning to short stories, novellas
and novels. I figured that writing poetry would give me another way to tell
stories. My poems would do away with iambic petametre and a rhyming scheme.
Instead, they would be raw and real, part memoir and part story. I would take
those five words that I wrote a day and stitch the poem together when I thought
it was done.
Each poem took me about a week or more to write, but
as I continued, I noticed something: I was getting better. Five words a day
slowly climbed to ten and then to fifteen. I remember hitting twenty words a
day and I felt elated. It was as if I had climbed a flat mountain and could
look back at all of the words I had written. It was as if I could fly. Soon, I
had a small collection of poems. I even thought that I might one day collect
them all together and publish them. I had an idea for a title: Talking to the
Sky. It would be a reference to when I was trying to heal and would sit at the
computer, staring at the blank screen unable to type and tell the stories that
I wanted to. It was like I was talking to the clouds.
Then, after three months, I received my diagnosis, a
day before my birthday: I had relapse and remitting multiple sclerosis. I
wasn’t afraid. Now, I knew the monster within me had a name.
I retreated into the world of Harry Potter once again.
I have read the Harry Potter series more than anything else. I read the series
once a year and have stopped counting the fortieth time I read the series the
entire way through. That was years ago. I turned to his story when I needed
comfort, when I needed joy. When I was sad or depressed, the story held within
the books was pure magic. I needed Harry and company at that moment more than
I also needed to write more than poetry. I needed to
break out of the constraint of sewing words together like a patchwork quilt. I
needed to write a novel. I didn’t know how long it would take, or if it would
be any good. It didn’t matter; I was angry, surprisingly so, and I wanted to
write something that would help soothe the anger. I wanted to give the anger a
With that in mind, I started writing a novel I called
The Other Side of Oz. In the novel, Justin is an Oz fanatic who has started
seeing yellow bricks everywhere he goes. Is it his imagination intruding into
real life? Then Justin and the boy he likes are in an accident. They travel to
Justin’s version of Oz, but again, is it real or is it their imagination? I
wanted to find some way to convey the sense of the unreal that I lived with
every day. While not about Harry Potter, it was about the other series of books
that had formed a large part of my childhood and adulthood. I wanted to write
about someplace magical that wasn’t the world I lived in.
By the time I was done the book, a few months had passed.
It had been exhausting, trying to force my brain to think of a story and
forcing my fingers to type the words out. However, when I typed The End, I was
elated once more. I had climbed another flat mountain, this one higher than the
others that I had climbed.
I noticed other things, too. I was lighter, as if a
weight had been taken from me. Scrolling through the pages of the novel that I
had typed out, I knew it was because I had put the weight of that anger and
uncertainty into The Other Side of Oz. That novel has never seen the light of
day; perhaps, with a hefty edit, it will someday soon.
What I’ve come to realize six years later, is that I
would have been a lot worse without the magic of words. The books I love kept
me sustained and comforted when I need it and, when that wasn’t enough, my own
words had flown out of me to relieve me of the pain and angst I was carrying
within me. Words were the magic that I wielded. As much as the multiple
sclerosis took a lot of things from me and made me revaluate how I lived my
life, the one thing that didn’t leave me was the magic of words. Each one I
write is part of the spell that I weave and each one I read heals me still.
I would be lost without them.
Jamieson Wolf is a number one best selling author (he likes to tell people that a lot!). His recent works include the memoir Little Yellow Magnet and the novels Lust and Lemonade and Life and Lemonade. A third novel, Love and Lemonade, comes out later this year. You can learn more about Jamieson at http://www.jamiesonwolf.com
CAN-CON is coming up pretty fast. (10 days) You could say I’m counting down the days until the 9th of September. Yes, we’re crazy enough to be selling at a convention the weekend that Dragon is due to hatch.
The reason we’re comfortable with that is simply that the people at CAN-CON are absolutely lovely and if feels more like a get together of friends than a convention. It’s a warm, inviting, and overall wonderful event.
This year I was invited to be on some panels but I declined so I’d be available in case Dragon shows up. I will however be doing a reading with my publisher and some other awesome writers.
Come see me at 2pm on Saturday the 10th if you’re at the convention.