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.
In our current work in progress, we needed the villain to get upset and reveal themselves. I decided, foolishly, that the best way to do that was a song of hope. I figured the character would have learned a Cataclysm Day song that would work. Cataclysm Day is the midwinter festival of Everdome, a cross between Yule and Remembrance Day.
So of course, I decided to try writing a song.
I sat down to write it and froze. I did write a bunch of lines, counting the syllables and everything. The whole process gave me flashbacks to trying to write poetry in high school and university. I wrote a sonnet for high school French from the point of view of a stapler that ran out of staples. Yeah, I was always this weird.
Anyway, I got inspiration songs and chose chords and everything, but once I sat down, nothing really worked. I procrastinated, avoided, and stressed. I had hoped the song would be ready when I got to that part of the story. It wasn’t.
Last night, I got to the part in the book that needed the song and said fuck it. I just wrote it out, not caring about syllables, rhythm, or musicality. I just needed words and rhymes.
It turned out pretty good. It’ll need to be checked for line length and put to music, but I think I can handle that. I honestly have no idea what I’m doing, and in the future I think I’ll leave the songwriting to Jen.
I’ve been writing serial stories yearly for 8 years, novels for 14, and short stories for as long as I can remember. However, in 2018, I started writing Elizabeth 4 and it broke me. I’m not sure what it was, but I just couldn’t write. I tried taking a break and writing something else and that got me a few chapters in an unfinished book.
By the time my son was born in June 2019, I had pretty much given up on the novel. It was complicated and emotional. I used plenty of excuses and spent more time daydreaming about other stories and feeling guilty.
Then the pandemic happened and everything seemed too dark.
When Dragon started school, Jen started reading, and editing, Elizabeth 4. To my surprise (because I truly thought it was crap) she loved it.
I started to painfully write it again, hoping not to break my streak of publishing a book a year.
She then asked to read A Copper Tarnish. I knew this one was good, but needed work (still needs an ending). She liked the part with two characters I’d borrowed from an old D&D game.
Several times I considered just giving up. Writing sessions that got me fifty words, but she kept encouraging me.
I had an idea for a novel starring those two characters and I told her. For what felt like a long time, but was probably a month max, I started working myself up to ask if she wanted to write it with me.
When I finally asked, she seemed enthusiastic. My writing for Elizabeth got easier.
We decided to write the book in January 2021 and talked about it for the next few months. When the time came, I put Elizabeth aside, again, and we furiously wrote a book in two and a half months.
The creativity and joy of sharing the story with her made writing seem easy. I still felt insecure about the quality of my writing, but the speed was there and at least we’d accomplished something. Now, with some distance, I’m fairly sure it’s one of the best books I’ve ever written.
Jen makes my writing better, both because of her support and because of her collaboration. There would be no Elizabeth 4 without her and it’s extremely possible there wouldn’t have been another novel by me for a while, if ever.
Thank you Jen. You are a talented, evocative, and exciting writer and I am extremely lucky and grateful to have her as a partner and a co-author. Love you!
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.
Last night Jen and I were procrastinating and we searched for Everdome in Google. What came up was mostly Everdome.IO. It’s some sort of virtual reality world that’s connected to cryptocurrency. I’ll be honest, I don’t fully understand what it is, but it’s pretty and uses Unreal Engine 5, which is amazing.
I didn’t think anything about it until Jen came across a Reddit post:
There are two posts on reddit about the book inspiring someone called Rob.
When I looked into who created it, I found the CEO was called Robert Gryn. I looked into the site and it looks like it was launched in Fall 2021.
For context, my book came out in 2019. Now other than the name, the site and the book have nothing in common. The site is science-fiction and is 1 big dome while the book is fantasy and has multiple domes created when the planet exploded.
So I did what any cheeky author would do and I tweeted the following:
I find it wild that I might have influenced something so large. It’s really cool.
Then again it could be pure coincidence.
If it isn’t a coincidence, I’m more flattered than anything else. Titles and names are not copyrighted. If the site had taken plot or world building from the book that would be different, but just the name is fine. I could have trademarked it but it’s not worth the cost and effort at this point.
If you want to find out what the book is about, it’s available at all major bookstores and ebook retailers.
Book and story ideas pop into my head more often than is comfortable. When one really sticks it’s like a piece of popcorn in my teeth and I don’t get full relief until I get it out on paper.
A Proof of Concept is kind of like a trial run. It’s me wiggling the popcorn (story) with my tongue.
This would be the third in my LGBT+ Romance / Northern Ontario Horror novels, along with Copper Tarnish and Parabiosis which I think will need a new name.
“Why the hell do you smell like antiseptic?” screamed my mother. I didn’t wait for my dad’s reply and closed my door. It was an open secret that Mr. Zelan had built himself a still and was selling alcohol from the back of the pharmacy.
It had been less then a month since we’d moved here. Somehow my parents thought that after ten years of fighting, cheating, and just generally being bad at being married; that moving into an experimental green community in the middle of nowhere would save their marriage.
I was extra pissed because I’d believed them and instead of doing my first year of university at Western or U of T like I wanted, I was stuck two hours northwest of Big Falls Ontario.
Aeter Aerospace had been around since they broke off from Door Technologies in 2004. It had since made a name for itself in every aspect of space travel technology. It created everything for both space missions and consumers. Because everyone needs space-worthy airfiltraion and aeroponics.
Aeter had decided that it needed a testing and development facility. So came the idea of creating The Community of Tomorrow. Build an approximation of what you’d need on Mars or the Moon and then fill it with two-thousand of the brightest, most gullible minds and their kids.
If the first month of this place was any indication, it was a damn good thing they didn’t try it in antarctica or actual space. There has so far been a murder suicide, two people escaping into the wild, and history’s lamest black market.
Not to mention the power outages.
I could hear my parents yelling even through the thick ‘space’ door. Everything here was space or tech or something that sounded like it was named by a middlegrader. The power went out and they didn’t stop fighting. If anything, it got worse.
I stormed out of my room. I’m not sure what I was going to do; yell, scream, tell them to get a divorce? Any thought I had left my mind when I saw them. Standing there yelling, but not moving, just standing with their arms at their sides, no emotion on their faces. Nothing was moving, but their lips.
That’s when I saw the thing for the first time. It unfolded itself from the shadows with a series of cracking noises that sounded wet. Its legs and arms were too long and it looked like it didn’t have any skin. What still keeps me up at night was its face. It looked like a skull with silly string oozing all over it and teeth in every hole.
It’s teeth chittered at me like a squirrel run through an autotune and then the power came back on and my parents started moving normally.
Okay. I’m liking this one. No idea when I’ll write it, but I look forward to it.
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.
2. Start and write half of SUPER MYSTERY BOOK PROJECT Assassins! Accidental Matchmakers. (Success)
This went AMAZING. We finished the book in March and received a contract with Renaissance at the beginning of August. THEN WE DID IT AGAIN! We wrote a short story collection AND the sequel this year. That’s 3 books!!!!
Yay, we made it. Another full year of updates. I hope you’ve enjoyed them as much as we have.
Editing and Marketing
5. Start Editing Dinosaur Road Trip(Fail)
I think I’m going to give up on this and maybe do a partial rewrite in the future. It’s just such a personal and emotional book that I haven’t had the energy to do it.
6. Keep Working on FADDS (Success)
I haven’t done as much as I would have liked this Fall, but the system is working great and I look forward to seeing what else it can do.
7. Read 15 Books (Fail)
If reading Little Quack Counts and Mickey Santa’s Helper count as books then I’m golden, but other than that, I’ve written more books this year than I’ve read… sigh. I read 3 books.
8. Play more games with the kids (Sucess)
Not enough board games, but maybe the 2 year old will be willing this coming year. We have finished 2 video games together though and Santa brought us the Finding Dory Disney Infinity game, so we’re good.
9. Be More Patient (Draw)
In July, I wrote, “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.” That’s still accurate. I’m terrible when I’m tired or stressed… Hopefully next year, but I am trying and getting better.
10. Keep pressing my doctor to find out what those attacks were in November 2020 (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.
I chose to not deal with this. I had another attack in December of this year and I was able to treat it by slowing down. I definitely think they are related to my IBS and flare up during stressful times. I’m going to deal with it by managing stress and taking it easy. When the pandemic is over, I’ll consider talking to my doctor.
I guess that means I have 55%. Room to improve in 2022, especially the reading one.
Something that was in last year and the year before’s list that I didn’t put in this year’s was Finish Book 4 of Elizabeth. When Jen and I finished Assassins!, I learned that my publisher was scheduling for 2 years ahead and the vain part of me didn’t want to miss a year, so I pushed to finish the book. I finished in time and submitted. Hopefully I’ll hear something in the new year.