Responses and Houses. Yay!

February 25, 2014

I have a lot of stuff to talk about today so let’s split it up into topics.


Let’s start with the good news. My wife and I have bought a house. My in-laws have been a great help throughout the process and I am lucky to have them. We’re moving on the 29th of March, which means I’ll be crazy stupid busy for the next month. I’m trying to fight down the panic right now.

Who thought moving 800+movies and 2300+ books would be so much work?


On Writing by Stephen King

The last book I wrote came together in amazing and beautiful ways, for me anyways. It was a culmination of three years’ worth of thinking and planning.

This new book isn’t like that. Writing is hard. No seriously, some days I wonder why I bother. I’ve been writing a novel a year for the past three years and I’m now a third of the way through my fifth novel and sometimes I feel like it’s just too much work.

Then I start writing and realize how much joy it brings me. It’s a feeling that I have to hold onto even in my most depressed and insecure moments.

But sometimes it would be nice to get appreciation from someone who doesn’t know me.

Publisher Response

In that vein, I received word from one of the two publishers yesterday. It’s a kinda rejection and possibly the nicest I’ve received. That’s saying something, I’ve been rejected several dozen times (not much compared to most authors but I’m still young and haven’t written enough short stories) and they’ve all be extremely nice about it. I’ve really only received 2 kinds of rejections; the nice ones and the “no response” rejections.

They basically said they liked the story and the characters but that it needed a good rewrite and editing. The word “compelling” was used which I take as a great compliment.

The only part that stung was that they said it read like a first draft. It was my sixth draft and third rewrite. I’ve reached the point with the book were I know I need professional help. (Insert Psychologist joke here!) They did say I could resubmit once I had reedited and rewrote the novel.

It makes sense, they’re a smaller publishing company and my book needs an editor, which is expensive. I’ll wait and see what the other publishing house says and then I’ll have to look for an editor. Unfortunately editors are expensive and we just bought a house.

Anyone know a good editor that won’t cost me more than a used car?

As I said I’m still waiting on one reply for this novel and I’m waiting on a short story anthology. I’m still hopeful.

I would like to thank the publishing house for the sweet things they said… so if you’re reading, thank you.

Silver Stag Entertainment

I’ve really been enjoying being a guest of this podcast for the past few weeks. It’s great to sit around and chat about movies and books with smart and funny people.

I was on the panel this week for The Diamond Throne by David Eddings.


Tomorrow is the last day to fill in our survey so if you want to win that 10$ gift card this is your chance.

Go do the survey, Only 2 Days left.


Thank you for listening. Tomorrow you’ll get to choose who dies in my newest novel.


Writing and Survey Monkeys

January 28, 2014

Hello world,

I’m getting a strange feeling as I’m writing. (Not that kind of feeling, you’re dirty.) It’s something I haven’t felt since I wrote the first Elizabeth book. I don’t know if anyone is going to want, or enjoy reading the book I’m writing, and I really don’t care. I’m having fun writing it. There’s something joyously broken about my characters and I look forward to seeing what happens to them.

At least one of them will die in the second act and I’m not sure which one. I might kill off the one I like the least or most or I might ask you for help. We’ll see what happens.

JenEric Designs is starting to plan for our 2014 events and stuff. With that in mind we’re asking everyone who enjoys our products (JenEric Designs Crochet, Travelling Tardis, and Aspiring Something) to fill in a short ten question Survey.

Please fill in our survey! (If we have a good enough response rate we might do something special for our fans.)

Thank you,


Shadow Shapers – Story

December 24, 2013

The corridor was dark but had the warmth of home. Ashley knew she was dreaming but it didn’t feel like regular dream. She never remembered feeling warmth before in a dream. She’d never dreamt in colour either.

The corridor lighted to a dark blue and the smell of cooking bacon wafted towards her. Walking quicker, she expected the corridor to lengthen and for her to have to start running. Most of her dreams were spent running or screaming.

The doctors said she was repressing memory and her dreams were her minds way of dealing with those memories. It didn’t matter to her; she didn’t want to remember what happened to her brother.

The corridor ended in a large room with a long table. There were candles and a fireplace bathing the room in an orange glow and keeping it warm. Around the table were two other girls.

Ashley recognized Drew from her full arm tattoo. It was the only thing that looked the same. Her hospital clothes were replaced by a blood-red corset and long black skirt. Her face wasn’t deathly grey but healthy golden tan. Most surprisingly she wasn’t deathly thin. This must be what Drew could look like if she wasn’t puking every meal.

The other girl wasn’t familiar. She had short blond hair and large green eyes. She looked and dressed like Tinkerbelle.

Smiling and sitting down with the other girls, Ashley said, “Hi, I’m Ash. What’s your name?”

The new girl radiated happiness, she actually glowed, as she replied, “I’m Tara. Nice to meet you. Isn’t this a wonderful dream?” All three of them nodded together.

Tara was wearing a pair of earrings that looked black but when they were hit by candlelight, turned a beautiful purple. Ashley didn’t notice details like that in her dreams.

Each of the girls looked down at the table and saw food. There was a different plate in front of each of them. Ashley had a breakfast with eggs, bacon, sausage, and pancakes, just like she used to order after church with her family. Her brother used to tease her that she must have a hollow leg.

The other two had completely different meals. Drew had a huge burger with fries and Tara had some form of curried chicken. They ate in silence, each girl savoring the intense flavour.

When they were done, the plates disappeared and a small box appeared in front of each of them. Each box was wrapped in a brightly coloured bow. Inside, was a necklace, each girl received a golden necklace with a gold sun pendant. In the centre of each sun was a heart shaped gem. Ashley’s was an emerald of dark forest green, Drew’s was a pink diamond, and Tara’s was a purple amethyst.

Without know why, Ashley put on the necklace and the other two followed her lead. The same calming warmth radiated from the gem, washing over her.

Someone shook Ashley awake and she returned to the clinical white light of her hospital room. Nurse Fishburn was waking her for her morning pills.

“That must have been quite the dream,” he said his baritone voice barely above a whisper. “You haven’t slept like that since you went off the sedatives.”

She could only nod as the cold of the hospital flooded over her. There was an ache of longing in her chest, for the dream.

Taking her pills and showing her mouth to the Nurse, she wished she could return. When he left she went to her dresser and pulled out a pair of exercise pants and a loose sweater. As she striped, she forced herself to look into the mirror and find the parts of her body that she liked. It was one of Dr Leslie’s assignments. She hated it, it felt odd appraising yourself.

As her eyes travelled down from her face they caught the glint of green around her neck. It was the sun necklace from her dream. Where did it come from? Could she have brought it back with her?

Just Watch Me

December 10, 2013

It’s the holiday season. For some, that means stress piled on top of stress. For me this year it means I’m ignoring the stress and cuddling up with the good feelings. (And I haven’t even bought my yearly Irish Cream. I swear.) There’s just something so hopeful about this time of year.


Someone once told me to make New Year’s resolutions that you know you can accomplish. Let me give you advice my wonderful Imaginary Friends. Make New Year’s resolutions that you can accomplish, that you can fail, and that you want to accomplish.

I could easily say that this year I’ll lose 30 pounds. It’s possible, I could easily fail, but I don’t really care enough. I could say that I will breathe regularly. It’s possible, and I certainly want to but I can’t really fail. So follow the three guidelines and you’ll have nice, useful, and attainable goals.

Last year I resolved to do three things, Read more, Write regularly, and post more on this blog. Two out of three ain’t bad right? I managed a novel and 4 short stories. Read 31 books and I’m on 32. I unfortunately didn’t update much. Sorry.

This year I resolve to do three things again, Write regularly (500 Words a Day of novels or stories), Continue Reading as much (30+ might be tiny compared to my wife who reads that in 3 months), improve my internet presence (See next).


I have multiple projects in the works, some of which have been in the works for way to long. I’m hoping to get them started and some of them finished this year. Others might take a few year but I’ll get there.

FADDS (Four Attribute Dual Dodecahedron System)

I’ve been working on the rules for FADDS for going on 3 years now. I have most of them worked out and I’m hoping to have a downloadable PDF and hyperlinked SRD finished by the end of 2014. From there I’d like to work on beta testing at Cons and maybe running a kickstarter for the basic rules book.

Elizabeth Investigates (or the Baker City Adventures)

I’m going to be taking a break from writing this series. As much as I love the characters and setting, it’s time to diversify my available products. In other words I’d like another book to shop around. I am waiting to hear from a few publishers about the first book. If they decline it I’ll look into self-publishing. (See previous post for incoherent ramblings.)

Project Kitchen Sink

When I was in high school, one of my favourite books was the Martian Chronicles by Ray Bradbury. I loved it for the structure. It’s effectively a series of short stories that work themselves into a larger narrative.

Lately I’ve been enjoying George R.R. Martin’s multi-character style, where he jumps from one character to another filling in their side of the story. I did this in my latest novel and, my beta readers have said they enjoyed it.

Project Kitchen Sink is a going to be a Fantasy novel riddled with elements of science fiction, mystery, and adventure. It’s going to jump from one protagonist to the other in an over-arching plot with multiverse destroying consequences. I want it to be character driven with multiple different styles. I’m aiming for it to be a standalone novel that is roughly 100,000 words. I have 5 characters stories plotted out.

The Dying World

This is a story and world I’ve been working on for about half a year now and I’m hoping to turn it into a generic roleplaying game adventure. It would be a large fantasy/sci-fi adventure that is compatible with any roleplaying system.

This is a ridiculously ambitious project and I might not get started until summer. Before I submit/publish it, I’ll have to run it with at least 1 group.

The basic story will be laid out in a future post.


Last year I became obsessed with some youtubers and decided that if I ever get the right equipment, I’d start my own show. I’d like it to take one several formats and post once a month to start and maybe every week when I get good at it.

The formats would include but not be limited to:

  • How Hard Could it be to Cook _____ (Where I cook something I’ve never tried before.)
  • The Canadian Conspiracy Nut (The fictional story of a conspiracy nut who accidently got it right.)
  • Basic Vlog (Where I can rant and talk about stuff.)


I want to create a website that combines all my online stuff and my wife’s and organizes it coherently.

The main page would be JenEric Designs and that would integrate:

And add:

  • A Youtube Channel,
  • A Store for JenEric Designs,
  •  And Forums

The idea would be to have some sort of content being published at least 4-5 times a week.

In Conclusion, We’re Just Starting.

That looks like a lot more than I expected but I look forward to it. I hope this hasn’t been too long and rambling.

I also hope that the followers (or what I call My Imaginary Friends) will follow and grow as the projects get realized.

That’s it for now. Try and enjoy the season and all the joy that it brings.

I’ll Meet You Yesterday by Tom Barlow – Book Review

December 3, 2013


I met Mr Barlow at Can-Con (The Conference on Canadian Content in Speculative Arts and Literature). I unintentionally bought the first copy of his book. He was very nice and signed it for us. I later saw him speak at a panel on mystery writing.

When I bought the book I didn’t read the back right away. I read the title and said, “I want it”. I stupidly thought it was a time travel story. It isn’t but that’s ok, it was a great read.

He is published by the awesome people at Bundoran Press

Below is my review. For more information on how and why I review books read my posts Part 1 and Part 2.


I liked

This wasn’t a large book, and I appreciated that there weren’t too many characters. I easily confuse characters with similar names or roles.

Not in this book. Each character was well fleshed out and had the weight of implied history behind them. Other than one tiny exception, none of the characters did anything stupid.

I genuinely felt for the characters.

I didn’t like

As much as I know in my mind that characters thrive through challenge. It’s hard to watch them get hurt. The characters made the best of a bad situation and came out stronger but it made me sad.

I guess none of that is a criticism. It works to build pathos and character development.

For characters, I give it 4 out of 5

Writing Style

I liked

Maybe it’s that I don’t read enough mystery but I’ve never come across a writing style like Barlow’s. Some books exhaust me with stress but suck me in. Others don’t suck me in but aren’t stressful. I’d always thought the stress and the interest were a necessary pair. Barlow proved that it wasn’t.

He has a relaxed beauty to his writing. I was still worried for the characters but I never felt stressed or pressed. Everything was smooth and calm. Like the perfect sip of coffee.

I didn’t like

I can’t think about anything I didn’t like about the style.

I give it 5 out of 5.


I liked

The story was a near future science fiction, mystery, love story, with strong elements of a road trip in the middle. It was a refreshing mix of styles.

The story wasn’t complicated. It didn’t feel cluttered and had me wondering what would happen next. It was beautifully crafted and made me feel certain that the author knew where he was going.

I didn’t like

The world wasn’t a nice place. It was also a little too plausible. Neither of them bad things but throughout, I wondered if it was necessary. They added a little background and a few of the plot devices but other than that I could have seen this work in the 1930’s or even modern day.

I give the story 4 out of 5


I liked

Any time a character does something stupid, like buying drugs, I usually feel like throwing the book away but in this book it just had me mentally yelling at the character. That shows me that the book was too good to get angry at and I enjoyed it the way I enjoy a good cop show that doesn’t telegraph the ending.

I didn’t like

I found the ending a little quick. I would have liked to see a little more but I also see why it ended where it ended.

I give it 5 out of 5 for fun


I struggled to find things I didn’t like about this book. It was just so good that I couldn’t put it down.

I eagerly await more from Tom Barlow and recommend you get this book and read it, as soon as possible.

Final score is 90%

I’ve done things I never thought I’d do…

November 4, 2013

Hello my Imaginary Friends,

Nice and dramatic title. It refers to book launches. I’ve been to two this year. Sad naïve me from a year ago didn’t even know they existed. I though launch parties were for movies or businesses.

If you don’t know what a launch party is, it’s simply a way to celebrate the release of a book. The author and everyone involved have worked hard for years and want to celebrate before they get back to repeating the same hard work.

The good thing about a book launch is you get to meet the author, get the book signed by them, and hear them read from the book. The bad thing, it’s usually in a noisy bar and the rest of the world doesn’t realize you’re trying to listen to a reading. Totally worth it.

My Wife…

Have a refered to her in the blog before? Maybe. I’m too lazy to go look. Maybe I should give her a pet name or something. Wifey? The Wife? Jen? The Alpha Reader? Spouse? Hummm. Darn it. Now I’ve not spent so much time writing and thinking of the word Wife. That it looks wrong. Ok Wife it is.

My Wife and I have turned these events into date nights. Which is awesome. Hopefully she agrees.

The Launch party I went to was for The Summer Bird By S.M. Carrière.

It was at the Royal Oak on Laurier and if you’ve ever been to a British style pub in Ottawa you know what it looked like. White stone like walls that are made from something accented with dark brown wooden beams and decorated with bilingual world war two posters and one big screen tv.

Not what my tired mind expected for a fantasy book launch. Don’t get me wrong the book launch was awesome. We talked with great people, a wonderful meal, heard a fantastic reading, and bought a great book.

When I went to sleep that night I relived the book launch in a much more medieval fantasy way… My wife and I arrived at the Queen’s longhouse in advance of the given time. We waited on the comfortable chairs near the crackling fire. The stone room wasn’t large. It had two long tables and a small dais for the Queen’s throne.

We didn’t wait long. The Elven Queen S.M. and her Knight Protector J The Amazing Flatmate, arrived and greeted us. As they made sure that everything was prepared and ready for the festivities, several other guests arrived. There was the Minstrel T. of the Brown Coat and Sir B a Knight Champion, along with a dozen or so guests. As an aspiring monarch myself, it was nice to see the level of enthusiasm everyone had for the Queen and her work.

The evening passed quickly, the food and drink was abundant and the Queen never actually sat on her throne, choosing instead to sit with her guests. Spending time at each table.

When the meal was cleared, the Queen stood to thank everyone and to read of her work. (Since it was close to Halloween she read chapter 13.) She somehow found the perfect lighting to stand under (I’m not exaggerating S.M. found the most regal lighting possible.) As she read the hall became quiet. Everyone was captivated by her words. The only sounds that could be heard were her reading and the uncultured brutes in the other hall.

The hall burst into applause when she had finished. With the speech finished, my wife and I decided to head out. The Queen signed our book and thank us. We said goodbye to our new noble friends and headed home.

Probably from now on my mind will use this version as the truth. So if I ask where S.M. had such an awesome themed book launch just roll your eyes and leave me to my delusions.

We were at the bus stop before we realized that we hadn’t paid for dinner. I felt so horribly guilty that I ran all the way back. The waitress just shrugged and said it happened often. I still feel horrible about it. I might have to rethink my plans of becoming a master criminal.

If you want an ebook version of the Summer Bird, it’s available on all the major sites. If you want a hardcopy you’ll be able to buy one at Pop Expo in December. Get one it’s worth it. I’ve only had one chapter read to me and I whole heartedly encourage you to read it.

Until we meet again,


Discount Armageddon by Seanan McGuire – Book Review

October 28, 2013

If you’ve been following my book reviews. You know that I have a soft spot for Urban Fantasy. I also have a soft spot for interesting female characters. Discount Armageddon delivers both and does it well.

Below is my review. For more information on how and why I review books read my posts Part 1 and Part 2.


I liked

At the center of the story is Verity Price, a tough ballroom dancer who’s been trained from birth on how to kill things and study them. Unfortunately she isn’t the most interesting character.

The supporting cast from religious mice to a shapeshifer cousin truly makes the book. There is a wide and varied group of people. I loved both the interactions and dialogue between the characters.

I didn’t like

Again, unfortunately Verity Price isn’t the most interesting of characters, falling into the girly tough girl stereotype. She loves to dance and seems to have a love hate relationship with her life. She wants to dance but also wants to follow in the family business.

To ignore her own inner struggle she tries to continuously meet the world with sex appeal and one-liners. She played dumb, when she obviously wasn’t, too many times.

For characters, I give it 3 out of 5

Writing Style

I liked

The author isn’t afraid to go on small tangents to explain the world. I really enjoyed the history and Price family life. It’s a great world with all kinds of interesting people and events.

Despite what people often think, writing first person is more difficult than third and if done wrong makes the story sound like “than guy” at a party that wants to tell you all about his d&d character or cat.

Ms. McGuire makes the story flow quickly, smoothly and keeps all the action tight.

I didn’t like

The language bugged me a little. I understand first person characters using slang and odd turns of phrase but sometimes it felt discordant. The writing had a strange juxtaposition of British and American slang.

I give it 3 out of 5.


I liked

The flow of the story was wonderful. Never leaving us in the same place long enough to get bored. The story shape is extremely simple but works wonderfully. Never leaving me annoyed with what was happening.

I didn’t like

This is the first in a series and with that there are a lot of details added that don’t directly impact the story. Relatives that weren’t essential, and plot points that won’t be important until later books.

It’s not that I didn’t enjoy reading about her grandfather stuck in hell and her grandmothers quest to find him but I would have liked to learn more about the characters that were important to the story.

I give the story 4 out of 5


I liked

Despite her clichés and often bad one-liners I like Verity Price. She perfectly personifies that struggle and lost feeling that I had in my twenties.

It also has a few steamy scenes that made me blush.

I didn’t like

I often would have like more in depth descriptions or interactions. It would have slown down the story pace but it would have given the book more substance. However I realize that this is an action book and not an epic.

I give it 5 out of 5 for fun


If you like fast paced action and fun characters thrown into ridiculous situations I recommend you pick this up.

Final score is 75%

Mik Murdoch: Boy Superhero – Book Review

June 24, 2013

Michell Plested wrote a book about a boy who wants to be a superhero. It’s easy to read and beautifully written.

This is one of the novels nominated for this year’s Aurora Awards.

Below is my review. For more information on how and why I review books read my posts Part 1 and Part 2.


I liked

Writing from a child’s perspective is difficult. It’s tempting to try and write the way a child would speak, or what we think a child speaks. Plested didn’t fall into this trap he used a vocabulary and writing style that was elevated but accessible. The greatest strength of this novel is how authentic it feels. Mik is believable as a character because of his thought process, logic, and reference points.

I didn’t like

If I have one complaint about the book, it is its lack of fleshing out all the characters. I feel I understood his parents, and a few of his teachers but it was hard for me to fully understand the other secondary characters. I would have liked to know more about them. Especially the librarian.

For characters, I give it 4 out of 5

Writing Style

I liked

The book was structured around a series of events that form  Mik’s personality and show his quest to be a hero. With that structure, it felt like a series of short stories about the same character. Despite its modular feel I never lost interest. I was impressed how well the author wove the stories together.

I didn’t like

There was a certain frustration I had while reading. I kept trying to decide if this was speculative fiction or just a coming of age story. It was never clear until one particular point and when that point arrived I had already decided the opposite and I found this a little jarring.

I give it 4 out of 5.


I liked

The biggest pet peeve I have with YA writing is the stereotype that parents are not only the enemy but stupid. It happens more often in Horror, or urban-fantasy but it happens a lot in superhero stories too. Plested took this stereotype and stripped it down to its simplest form. That being that parents aren’t stupid but they are biased, and fallible. It also helps that Mik tries to protect his parents and often has to worry about them figuring him out. Never does he treat them as a villain but as an obstacle.

The story flows well and the general suspense of whether he really is going to get powers is written perfectly. There was a point of the book that I just stopped worrying about it and let things happen.

Several Story points weren’t finished, which is fine considering he’s writing a sequel.

I didn’t like

The problems with a modular style is separating the stories in the readers head. Everyone is looking for Chekhov’s gun and we’ve been trained by the stories we grew up with that things come back. So when characters that seem important don’t come back it’s disconcerting.

I give the story 4 out of 5


I liked

This book was a fast and fun read. I felt drawn into the story and the character. I enjoyed it all the way through.

I didn’t like

The worst thing about this book was that it ended.

I greatly anticipate the sequel.

I give it 5 out of 5 for fun


I highly recommend this to anyone who likes superheroes, coming of age stories, or reading.

Final score is 85%

Pirate Cinema – Book Review

June 13, 2013

Cory Doctorow writes a near future dystopia where laws like SOPA were passed and actually enforced. Copyright violation, even for non-commercial use, is punishable by having you household cut off from the internet and even hard jail time.

This is one of the novels nominated for this year’s Aurora Awards.

Below is my review. For more information on how and why I review books read my posts Part 1 and Part 2.


The book is written in the first person. The main character, Trent McCauley is obsessed with re-cutting videos of an old actor. He’s a typical teenaged boy living day to day. The majority of other characters are runaways with more brains than luck. Few of the characters really grabbed me. They were interesting but nothing special.

For characters, I give it 3 out of 5

Writing Style

The writer’s style was simple, clean, accessible; easy to read with a good amount of humour. No purple prose, but also no clever turns. It was good solid writing.

The only gripe I have was the disjointedness of the edition I read. The author uses some British slang in the dialogue but the edition was in American language. It threw me out of the story each time I heard a British accent in my head with American spelling.

I give it 3 out of 5.


The story is slow and at times a little preachy. The peachiness is forgivable considering the story revolves around copyright laws.

It was interesting enough for me to keep reading but not really interesting enough to make me pick up another of the author’s books.

I see it’s merit however, and I can see the details and craft behind the story.

I give the story 4 out of 5


This book makes me think of something that should be read in highschool. It has a good message, is edgy enough for interest but not enough to insult and has lots of analyzing that can be done.

It was ok fun.

I give it 3 out of 5 for fun


Like A Princess of Mars this is an enjoyable read but I probably won’t re-read it anytime soon.

Good solid writing and ok story.

Final score is 65%

Elisabeth Investigates: Memories of Faust

August 10, 2012


I have finally, after over a year, finished my third book Elizabeth Investgates: Memories of Faust. It is a sequel to my second book Elizabeth Investigates: The Mitten Wizard

I would ask/beg/plead that you read the new novel and send me your comments. Either in the file or separately if you proffer.

Here is the link to my cloud server. I have made available every type of file I can think of.

For those who would like to reread the extended and heavily edited first book here is the link.

The only major change you need to be aware of is a name change. I changed Sally Lavall to Cassy Lavall.

Feel free to share the books with others, I would love as many comments as possible.

Thank you in advance and enjoy,