About Me

My photo
I am a writer and dreamer, currently working on blogs and a book series.

Friday, 10 August 2018

How We Always Live in the Past

We walk down eroding cobblestone streets. We drive on roads that didn't always exist. We live in buildings that have been used for a myriad of purposes. 

And we never know any of their stories...

Check out my guest post "Contemplating the Past" on Éric Soucy's blog, Autant de Montréalais (it`s in English!).

Sunday, 15 July 2018

Dream Teams by Shane Snow: Discovering Non-Fiction Can Be Fun To Read

Shane Snow
I was on LinkedIn and a fellow writer reached out to me to read his new book. I was already following him on LinkedIn and had read the occasional post and article of his. Being a writer and novelist-in-training, I was aware that reaching out through social media is a marketing tactic that people use to sell their stuff and to spread awareness. However, when Shane Snow reached out to me to read Dream Teams, I was still flattered that he asked. 


I read many reviews beforehand because it is a non-fiction book. I'd say that 85% of what I read is stories, so fiction with maybe 1-2% being biographies. I read fiction to escape from reality, so I need to mentally prepare myself before I dive into non-fiction. I know that non-fiction has gotten a bad reputation for being boring because, well, not everyone can make non-fiction interesting. But Shane Snow did. I have just completed my reading of Dream Teams: Working Together Without Falling Apart and I loved every minute of it! His tone and content make it a real page-turner, which surprised me. It is an engaging text that covers history (one of my favorite subjects) while providing stats and studies that connect to his subject of how anyone can create a dream team, and as a result, quality content. Sparks of Snow's humor shine through his tone and predominantly, in the footnotes.

I am going to talk about the text, so if you don't want anything spoiled, stop reading (at least for now because you are always welcome to read my blog) and check out the book!

My copy of Dream Teams

Both Shane Snow and Aaron Walton—who wrote the foreword—speak about mountains as symbols of projects and problems. It reminded me of Three Days Grace's song "The Mountain" where the singer says "Every time I think I'm over it / I wake up at the bottom of it all again." Walton says, "And once we get to [our mountaintop], we're looking for another mountain to climb."Although both statements have different attitudes behind them, both statements are true and in both cases, we need to "admit to [ourselves] that [we] can't solve all [our] problems [ourselves]." Many of us hate to admit it, (myself included), but we need people. Humans are social beings, after all. Where would an artist be without his/her audience?

The mind puzzles in the first chapter that demonstrate lateral thinking was fun, reminding me of little puzzles books I had growing up and because I had been exposed to that kind of thinking, I knew the answers to both the cake and milk puzzles. It made me realize, though, that when I am presented with those types of puzzles in regular life, I don't use lateral thinking unless it's set up as a game. Because of my loves for stories and mysteries, I appreciated the way Snow introduced his stories about the Baltimore Plot and a certain George that wanted to become an actor. I'm now considering reading Snow's other books, Smartcuts and The Storytelling Edge.
What spoke to me the most about this book was the last two chapters because I love stories and I am discovering more and more about marketing. The first chapter with which I was most interested in had Snow reveal how our bodies produce the molecule oxytocin to mimic what others are feeling, which in turn, makes us more empathetic, particularly when we are listening and/or watching a story unfold. Snow's work and that of many scientists and researchers demonstrate that humans are more likely to empathize and act when a problem is presented to them as a story instead of just facts. I have experienced this with letters I receive from WWF and with the Nancy Drew games I play. One line jumped out at me and I'm wondering if Snow put it in purposefully since he is a self-proclaimed nerd. The line is, "Is it really a quantum leap to suggest that [reading lots of books] will give us a little more openness toward the people we meet in everyday life?" The show Quantum Leap was all about stories and how the protagonist, Dr. Sam Beckett, traveled through time and had to right a wrong by being in someone else's body and take on all of their problems. By being in other people's bodies, he saw the world from their point of view and became more open to them and to new ideas. He and his friend, Admiral Albert 'Al' Calavicci, made a Dream Team, always balancing each other out.

The epilogue had me lean in closer because I was stunned that Snow included harsh truths about his own life. I was blown away that Snow was lecturing and getting his company off the ground as well as meeting celebrities, like Bill Nye the Science Guy (like, WOW!) and then he describes how reality comes crashing down on him. That takes guts to reveal, especially to millions of strangers. I relate to Snow's autobiographical anecdote on an emotional level because I had a similar experience with someone who helped me see that there was, and is, hope.


Looking for more book reviews? Check out my library!

or 

Read some of my own stories in my Portolio.

Tuesday, 23 January 2018

Winter Blues with Ice-Ing

What an awful day it is.  Rain is bad enough, but ice rain?  On the bright side, writers and readers are rejoicing because they can stay in with a comfy chair, hot drink and good book.

The book I'm reviewing today takes place in the summer, so prepare to be transported away from the bleak white world!

It’s was a rainy Saturday and I decided to curl up on my wide pea green chair.  Its arms were out to embrace me as I plunged into the depths of a new book.  A book with hues of blue on the cover that speaks of death, love, life, books and everything in between.  It may sound like a John Green novel (and I do like some of his books and support him in his writing and video-making; plus he’s even referenced in this book), but this book has more to it.  It is haunting and comforting, funny and melancholic, fiction and non-fiction.


Words in Deep Blue by Cath Crowley is told from the points of view of best friends Henry and Rachel.  Henry and his family own a bookshop that also contains a Letter Library, which is a section of books where people are free to write in them.  People talk to each other through the books’ notes and they leave letters as well.  Rachel is in love with Henry and decides to tell him on a day where everyone in their grade is celebrating the end of the world because they were reading Ray Bradbury in English class.  Rachel leaves a letter in a book she knows Henry will read in the shop.  They were supposed to spend that night together, but Henry spends it with the girl he’s in love with, named Amy.  Rachel is moving the next day and since Henry never writes to her about the letter once she’s left, Rachel is upset and gradually stops writing to him.


HAUNTING AND COMFORTING


For three years, Rachel is living her life by going to school, writing to her friend Lola back home and even gets a boyfriend.  But in her third year, the drowning of her brother, Cal, changes her whole world.  She and Cal were crazy about the ocean and they had planned to travel together.  Rachel discusses her brother throughout the book and with the excerpts from the letters left by people in the Letter Library, it’s a world of ghosts.  Even the book itself is a ghostly imprint of Cath Crowley, or any book for that matter. 

Rachel finally opens up to Henry when she returns to her hometown and he helps her make sense of her feelings with the books in his shop as well as his own insights.  Henry’s parents hire her to catalogue the Letter Library and to record all the notes from people in every book for the inventory; they’re considering selling the shop since second-hand bookshops are not doing well in this digital age.  As she transcribes, Rachel stumbles across notes left from Cal.  She needed to find him and it’s from this point on that she starts to heal and see things differently.  Originally, Rachel doesn’t see the point in cataloguing the notes in the books; since Cal’s death she admits that she doesn’t care about or have patience for the uselessness of things in life.  In finding her brother in the Letter Library, she understands what Henry’s father meant when told her, “it’s really a library of people,” (122).

I enjoyed finding the repetition of the color blue and seeing the different meanings associated to a single color.  For instance:

                                                              - sadness
                                         - water (life/death dichotomy)
                                                             - Rachel’s eyes

If Rachel’s narration was made into music, I think it would sound like Dido's “My Lover’s Gone":





I also enjoyed the many references to old and new books and television shows, such as 42 being the meaning of life from The Hitchhikers Guide to the Galaxy and Rachel and Henry watching Being Human and discussing the existence of ghosts.  I could relate to this book on so many levels.  It felt like home.

For more book reviews, check out my library.






Further Reading

https://www.cathcrowleyauthor.com/


Image Sources:

https://i.gr-assets.com/images/S/compressed.photo.goodreads.com/books/1487957561i/31952703._UY2550_SS2550_.jpg

Tuesday, 19 September 2017

At a Glance: Nancy Drew Throughout the Years

Introduction




Nancy Drew is a titian-haired (or strawberry-blonde) “amateur” detective who lives in River Heights.  Her father, Carson Drew, is a lawyer and her mother died when Nancy was three.  Hannah Gruen is their housekeeper and acts as a mother figure for Nancy.  Nancy hangs out with Bess Marvin and Bess’s cousin, George Fayne.  Bess is a blonde girly-girl type who enjoys shopping and is reluctant to solve mysteries while George is a brunette tomboy who enjoys playing sports and will jump at a chance to solve a mystery.  Nancy also has a boyfriend named Ned Nickerson who is a jock and goes to Emerson College and helps Nancy with her mysteries while worrying about her.

This is the basic, original Nancy Drew information.  I am a loyal fan of Nancy Drew, so I get upset when people start messing about with the basics.  I will present some other versions of Nancy that have popped up over time.



The Original Nancy Drew Movies (1930s)

All I can say is that I was very disappointed with these movies, especially since there were made in the same era as the original books.  Bonita Granville portrays Nancy younger than the original yellow books and because of that, I found her judgement impaired which changed Nancy’s character.  She was also too excitable and got upset too easily, for instance, in Nancy Drew, Detective, she is so excited to be going to police headquarters with her father that she’s pulling him across the sidewalk and into the building.  I also think that because of Nancy’s young age, they made Carson Drew constantly tell Nancy to stop investigating and to go to the police; in the yellow books, Mr. Drew helps Nancy with her cases and/or warns her to be careful.  To match Nancy’s young age, they also had Ned—sorry Ted— act younger as well and the writers decided to make them argue.  A lot.  This is not what Nancy and Ned’s relationship is about.


As I mentioned, I am a stickler for details with Nancy Drew and frankly find that changing her boyfriend’s name from “Ned” to “Ted” is an unnecessary alteration.  Consequently, I didn’t enjoy the movies as much as I had hoped when I discovered theses movies existed.



Nancy Drew and The Hardy Boys Mysteries (1970s)


I started to enjoy these episodes despite all the changes made to Nancy's story, such as:
  • George having Bess’s characteristics, especially her reluctance and fear of being in a case with Nancy
  • Ned being more of a nerd with glasses since Nancy is the more confident one in the relationship
  • Several actresses playing Bess and Bess's character being two-dimensional
  • More than one actor playing Ned 



I was about halfway through the second season and had just started to watch a Christmas episode when suddenly Rick Springfield makes a guest appearance.  I thought it was cool to have a celebrity on the show, thinking he'd play a victim or suspect.  I proceeded to watch the episode when Nancy calls him “Ned”.  I had reached the end of my rope and I stopped watching the rest of the Nancy Drew episodes for the rest of the season (except for those where she was teamed up with the Hardy Boys because they were perfectly portrayed).  I was glad that I did because in one of the team-ups with the Hardy Boys, Nancy is played by a different actress.  Cue the eye roll. 

I don’t understand why writers gave the first Ned a more reserved and somewhat meek personality which emphasize Nancy's headstrong and sometimes aggressive personality.  It’s as if the writers felt the yellow book Nancy and Ned were not what audiences wanted, so they decided to make them opposites.  If you want a good example, watch "A Haunting We Will Go".


I found Pamela Sue Martin’s portrayal of Nancy is closer to the yellow book version, but she is shown to have more faults on TV.  One could say that Martin's portrayal is a more human one.  Although Martin’s Nancy is truer to the yellow book Nancy, everything around her on the show was not up to par and then she was also changed. 

One more thing: I have always wondered where they got the idea to have Frank and Nancy interested in each other, (although more on Frank’s side).  This has influenced the Nancy Drew computer games and modern book versions of Nancy.

 




Nancy Drew TV Show (1990s)


I will admit that I have only seen clips of this show on Youtube, one of which was where Nancy breaks up with Ned.  I watched the clip without judgement and made allowances for story changes (like Nancy having dark hair), but at the end, I just didn’t like it.  The music made it seem too much like a soap opera.  It was as if the writers behind the show needed a conflict for Nancy and Ned’s relationship to keep the audience's attention because they know any fan of Nancy Drew knows that Nancy and Ned can't break up.  But the writers used a flimsy excuse.  The scene depicts Nancy telling Ned that she doesn’t want to go to Africa with him and can’t wait for him for six months, so she breaks up with him.  


 
 In thinking of the yellow book Nancy, I think she would have either:

1.      Told Ned to go and enjoy himself on such an exotic adventure (especially since she’s either traveling herself and/or solving mysteries)
2.      Would have seen the intrigue in going to Africa and found a way to join Ned for the six months or part of the time

Fans of Nancy Drew, what is your opinion regarding this scene?  

 

 

Nancy Drew Computer Games (1990s-2000s)


I have been playing Nancy Drew games since the early 2000s and I almost have a complete collection (of Lani Manella's Nancy).  The Nancy players encounter in these games is only a voice and a character through writing; we never see Nancy (the closest we came to seeing her in #25 Alibi in Ashes), so it isn't entirely Manella who is portraying Nancy.  Her voice, however, is perfect for my idea of Nancy.  Her voice isn't too high or too deep.  And in the more recent games, say #14 and higher, players have a choice of answers that color the events and outcome of the game.  (Spoilers ahead) For instance, in # 14 Danger By Design, Nancy is asked not to tell Minette that Heather did something.  Players are given the option to tell on Heather.  If she tells, Heather does not allow Nancy to be a model in the fashion show and consequently, Nancy has burned a bridge.

I noticed Nancy sounded older at times in the 20s of the games and found out that Manella was directed to do so.  Again, why are they changing Nancy?  Nancy has always been a teenager which has facilitated her undercover work, (despite being in her 80s now).  I don't see the appeal of making her older.

I am upset that the company Her Interactive decided to change Nancy’s voice actress from Lani Manella to someone sounding younger.  I’m hoping she will do as good a job of being Nancy and that Her Interactive completes the 33rd game, Midnight in Salem, soon.



Conclusion


I have never read a first edition Nancy Drew book and I know that there were many rewrites to update the yellow book Nancy over the years, so maybe Bonita Granville’s portrayal was more inline with the first yellow book Nancy. Nonetheless, she’s not 
my Nancy. 

I have read a few modern books with Nancy Drew paired with The Hardy Boys as well as alone and as much as the mysteries themselves were interesting, the characters did not live up to my standards.  Those versions of Nancy don’t speak to me; they are no different than other book characters.  That leads me to wonder if a more modern setting is the reason for my dislike, but then again, I enjoy the Her Interactive’s computer games.  It must be the writing of her character, then.  Or I’m just too sentimental.

I was very happy to hear that the attempt to put Nancy on TV in a police investigation setting was stopped.  I am glad because I find that we have too many police investigation shows these days that all look the same.  I did not see Sarah Shahi as Nancy, so there is no way of knowing how she portrayed the detective.  Moreover, I don’t agree with cancelling the show because it’s “too female”.  Nancy Drew is still popular, so a ‘too female’ cast is not a good reason for cancellation.  We could easily say that The Hardy Boys is ‘too male’. 




Sources:

Ahsan, Sadaf. “CBS’s Nancy Drew television series remake, starring Sarah Shahi, cancelledfor being ‘too female’ ”. National Post. POSTMEDIA. Updated May 17, 2016.

All photographs in this post are my own.

lise engen haugan, The Hardy Boys Nancy Drew Mysteries 1 08 A Haunting We Will Go DVD2DivX. Youtube. Published February 11, 2017.
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=He2NFql_2H4

NigthSky315. Frank and Nancy - At the Beginning. Youtube. Published June 2, 2008.

twtom. Nancy Drew Breaks Up With Ned Nickerson. Youtube. Published July 6, 2017. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=2Rc48Pbugr8

twtom. Nancy Drew Intro 1995 TV Show. Youtube. Published July 4, 2017.


Further Reading:





Sunday, 13 August 2017

Telling a Story in Another Way

This blog is all about storytelling.  I've done book, movie, game and television reviews, but I've never done anything on photography.  And that's what opened my eyes and continues to help me in my writing.  And it all started when I met Éric Soucy.

Through his photography of Montreal, he showed me the city I had never noticed because I had grown up too much inside myself (and no, I've never owned a cellphone and don't have any portable electronic device that I obsess over).  Now, I see colors, shapes, lines of the underground cities and the above-ground architecture, as well as people.  I look around more and see the beautiful, the ugly, the demolished, the renovated.  He showed me the influence of people on this city and I want to explore its past, present and future.

If you're interested, Éric is going to be showcasing his photography.  For a sneak peek, click here.


Saturday, 6 May 2017

How Time Hasn't Changed: Doorways in the Sand

I've been reading science fiction novels such as Doorways in the Sand by the great Roger Zelazny; it's about alien possession and the copyright date of my book is 1976.  With older science fiction books, readers today notice obsolete things such as rabbit-ear televisions or the absence of the internet and the increased use of the mail system.  With that in mind, I noticed something in Doorways in the Sand when the mentor to the protagonist discusses scientific revolutions,

"that a big new idea comes along and shatters traditional patterns of thought, that everything is then put together again from the ground up [...] After a time, things begin looking tidy once more [...] Then someone throws another brick through the window.  It has always been this way for [humans], and in recent years things have been coming closer and closer together."
 
Doesn't that sound like what's happening today in 2017 with the constant production and improvements in technology, TED talks and the startup company phenomenon?

"Innovation" and "vision" are key terms these days and people are doing exactly what Zelazny said; nothing has changed and that's a good thing.  We are improving upon and building on old frameworks. 

As a storyteller, I am happy to see that big ideas and imagination have not yet become obsolete.

For more book reviews, check out my library.
Sources:

http://www.goodreads.com/book/show/61998.Doorways_in_the_Sand

Zelazny, Roger. Doorways in the Sand. Avon Books, 1976. p. 185.  

Thursday, 4 May 2017

Reflecting on The Goblin Tunnels




I was asked how The Goblin Tunnels series has helped me in my writing.

For those of you unfamiliar with The Goblin Tunnels, I will fill you in: The Goblin Tunnels began as a series of photographs on Convozine (a site which no longer exists) by Victor Garibaldi and was continued by Éric Soucy.   It is a photo-series that depicts an alternate dimension accessible through public underground tunnels.  I have lent my writing to some of their work.  You can find the series here and here.

When I began writing for The Goblin Tunnels, I never thought about the genre it fit into.  I simply tried to incorporate the same mood Victor and Éric's photos contained and went with that.  I have always been one to feel art first and then try to explain it with words.  I often search for the perfect song to help me write in whatever mood I'm in or need.

Thinking back, the series has helped me:

  • explore different themes and formats (including plays, letters and diary entries) as well as other stories (such as Joseph Conrad's Heart of Darkness) that led and lead to my creating a new story
  • open my eyes to my surroundings (including colors, shapes, historical architecture, graffiti, etc.) and to environments I had previously taken for granted or ignored, like subway systems

Thanks to The Goblin Tunnels, I am writing more realistically, including the good and the bad as well as adding details people don't notice or forget as they live day-to-day.   


It was only in taking a science fiction course that it dawned on me that The Goblin Tunnels is a science fiction series because of the parallel universe trope.  With this epiphany and my newly acquired knowledge of the genre, I have more stories to investigate, analyze and use for the series.  The Goblin Tunnels continues to push me to look for new ideas and to be inventive.

 
Sources:

*The images used in this post are the property of Éric Soucy and have been used with his permission.

Thursday, 12 January 2017

How A Writer Ends It All

When I was young, I had an epiphany: I could change a story I had read or seen or heard.  I could re-write it and make the characters of a story change direction, multiple times if I wanted.  
  
Some mornings, I would get up to find my mother watching television.  She would stumble upon a movie and watch it without knowing beforehand what the movie was about.  Sometimes I would join her because I loved the mystery and newness of the movie, but other times I refused no matter how good it appeared to be because I had been burned before by the unsatisfactory ending.  I think that this subconsciously added to my drive towards writing.  In writing, I can have my revenge and create satisfactory endings for my readers because I know how they would feel if I did not write that type of ending.

Of course, a "satisfactory ending" is different for everyone and different for each story.  Having everyone live at the end may not be the best thing for the meaning behind the story.

Life is already full of mysteries and unanswered questions.  I want stories to have answers and to not be exactly like life.  After all, that is why I turn to stories in the first place; to escape the reality I know and enter one that I recognize, but is still somewhat different.  



There are some stories that I accept as having what I find to be an unsatisfactory ending because I see that it is necessary for the meaning behind it.  But I can't guarantee that I won't feel like I wasted my time or that I won't complain about it for a day or two.

  Here's the post that got me thinking about this topic:

https://janefriedman.com/story-ending-doesnt-satisfy/

(For fellow writers, I suggest following Jane Friedman's blog; she has great advice!) 



Second image source: http://www.tedxnormal.com/what-a-grandmas-experience-taught-me-about-storytelling-kim-behrens-kaufman-tedxnormal-talk-recap/

Thursday, 22 December 2016

Holiday Read: One Night at the Call Center

 *Spoiler Alert

One Night at the Call Center by Chetan Bhagat is narrated by Shyam, a call center agent in Gurgaon, India. We learn about him and his call center colleagues (Priyanka, Vroom, Esha, Radhika and Military Uncle) and see how their lives are turned upside down in one night while they’re working their shift.  When they have reached the end of the road, they get a call from God which helps give them a push to take control of their lives.



The Characters:


  • Shyam is the narrator who feels inadequate and has low self-esteem; he aspires to become team leader of his group at the call center in hopes Priyanka will want him again.



  • Priyanka is the ex-girlfriend to Shyam; she is under pressure by her mother and family to agree to an arranged marriage; she is working at the call center to earn money towards her B.Ed.



  • Vroom is the best friend to Shyam; he hates his call center job; he used to be a journalist and has a crush on Esha.



  • Esha aspires to be a model and is working at the call center until she gets her big break.



  • Radhika was recently married and is living with her husband and mother-in-law; she is working at the call center to provide for her family and has had to adhere to more traditional customs now that she is with her husband’s family.



  • Military Uncle is a quiet man who deals with customers through the online chat instead of the phones; he has family issues with his son who does not want him to see his grandson.




This book has a little extra something. Bhagat put himself in the prologue and epilogue, making the call center a story within a story.  Bhagat meets a woman on a train and in agreeing to listen to her story, he has to make it his next novel. She recounts the call center story and at the end, Bhagat tries to figure out who the woman is: Priyanka, Esha or Radhika. We never find out for sure, but he implies that the woman is God.

This book fits into the “Fantastic” genre because it deals with the supernatural and the implied reader’s hesitation. Firstly, readers do not know whether or not the Bhagat in the prologue and epilogue is his true self or a version of himself. And did this train sequence actually happen? Secondly, readers cannot know for sure if the woman on the train is actually God or if the call center story actually happened. Bhagat wants us to believe that she is God because of the “holy text” she was reading; he implies that she is supernatural and may have conjured up a book, “Her blanket moved, uncovering a book I hadn’t noticed before.” Bhagat also uses the symbolism of the dawn light and how she glowed.

Although the story took place in one night, we get a lot of character development and I feel that this is the driving force of the novel. The characters were well rounded and felt very real. I also enjoyed this book because I work in customer service, which means that I understand the characters’ frustrations when dealing with annoying customers.  In customer service, there is a lot that is scripted and made into a routine that gets old. It’s not the kind of job I like to be in.

It was a fun read. I had a hard time putting the book down!

 For more book reviews, check out my library.



Image source: http://www.goodreads.com/book/show/105578.One_Night_at_the_Call_Center

Thursday, 27 October 2016

The Halloween Spirit: Quantum Leap's "The Boogieman"

This is one of my favorite episodes, mainly because it diverts from the usual Quantum Leap story line of Sam Beckett changing someone's life or several people's lives in order for himself to leap home.  For those of you who have not seen this episode, do NOT read on because there are spoilers.  And you do not want this episode spoiled! 


***Spoilers***

I never realized all the clues that pointed to Al not being Al.  In fact, on my first viewing, I only noticed one of the clues and thought it was a goof.  Boy, was I kicking myself at the end!  Having watched so many episodes, I should have noticed the clues.  At the end, Sam mentions a few of the clues, but I want to provide a more complete list:
  • Sound: when Sam is with the Sheriff after Tully's death, "Al" speaks off-camera and instead of the usual chords that play when he appears, there is haunting music
  • Visual: The Sheriff and Mary can sense "Al's" presence throughout the show (I associated this to the time of Halloween when spirits are thought to come back to our world)
  • Visual: "Al's" clothes are not of his usual style, although this may just be me.  I find Al wears flashier more hip clothes than the ones "Al" wears 
    "Al" versus Al
  • Sound: Whenever "Al" types into his hand link, it sounds like a typewriter instead of the usual funny sounds it makes; he also never hits his hand link to get information
  • Visual/Sound: "Al" coughs and looks at his cigar at least twice during the episode: 1) when he and Sam go up to the office and 2) when he and Sam are looking around Mary's house.  Al has never done this in other episodes as far as I know.
  •  Right before Dorothy screams, "Al" has disappeared suddenly and he only reappears when the black mamba snake disappears
  • Visual: Sam mentions that "Al" never walked through anything 
  • Visual: Sam also mentions that "Al" never used the imaging chamber door
  • Sound: When "Al" tells Gooshie to center him on Mary, he just disappears without the usual sound effect (This is the one I thought was a goof)
  • Sound: "Al" never makes any lewd remarks 
  • Visual: When "Al" enters Mary's house, the first number of her address, 9, becomes a 6, making three in a row
  • Sound: When Sam and "Al" are confronted by the Sheriff while snooping through Mary's house, "Al" is unusually quiet while he listens to Sam and the Sheriff talk; the real Al often talks over everyone making it hard for Sam (and us viewers) to follow both conversations
  •  Sound: As Sam says at the end, "Al" repeats the quote Tully said earlier about "Them who dance with the Devil..." when there is no way "Al" could have known about that quote.
  • Sound: After Sam looks through a book with images related the Devil, "Al" remarks that maybe the "Boogieman" is responsible for all the deaths.  (Side note: This relates to the first episode when Sam leaps for the first time and doesn't remember anything.  In Sam's narration, he first talks about a being in a nightmare and that eventually a Boogieman shows up.  Later, he refers to Al as the Boogieman: "The Boogieman had arrived")
If I missed any clues, please leave a comment.
  
Happy Halloween!

Saturday, 3 September 2016

A Writing Break: Map It Out

Maps are fun.  They give us a way of seeing a place and all its details before beginning our exploration.  The book I reviewed in my previous post, "Paris was the Place", talks about maps and the narrator-protagonist describes Paris and how its streets are laid out.  Here is Paris's subway map:

Real Paris Subway Map

Subway maps are also interesting, especially those of Paris and Japan.  I haven't traveled very much, so when I was playing the video games Nancy Drew: Danger by Design and Shadow at the Water's Edge, the maps were a bit daunting.  There are just so many stops!

http://www.mobygames.com/images/shots/l/175832-nancy-drew-danger-by-design-windows-screenshot-metro-map.png
Nancy Drew Paris Subway Map

I'm a writer, so why am I going on about maps?  Well, because maps are useful for writing; you can map out your story or create a map to help you visualize the world you're creating.  Sometimes, the ideas won't come to me or I struggle to write a scene with the right words, so I turn to design and images.  That way, I'm still working on the story, just from another angle which can cure my Writer's Block.  

What I've done so far for my novel series is room blueprints.  I think about the room's shape (example regarding a bedroom/living room: "Would a bay window be appropriate or useful for the character(s)?"); the room's decor (example regarding a restaurant: "Do red and white checkered table clothes suit the restaurant's image?"); the room's atmosphere (example: a library would be silent, save for turning pages, footsteps and the occasional cough).

I enjoy designing more personal spaces like bedrooms, kitchens and living rooms because they add to character development.  In the Nancy Drew games, there are very few bedrooms you can explore.  My favorite one is that of Abby from Message in a Haunted Mansion.  Now, Abby likes astronomy, ghosts and holding seances.  Her room emphasizes and highlights her personality in different ways:
 
Abby's Room
We can see from the above image the colors which are blues and purples.  They create a mystical feeling.  Adding to this are the swirls in the bed frame which give off a fluid vibe.

Abby's Nightstand
Upon closer inspection, we can see that the table cloth with its moons and stars along with the candles continue the mystical theme of her room.  We see that Abby likes romance stories and the photo shows she values family or friends.

Abby's Desk
Not surprisingly, Abby has a Tarot deck and a book on fortune-telling.  She also has more photos of family or friends in the room.  Here, we can see something more average: magazines.  So, Abby comes back down to Earth now and again.

Abby's Bookshelf

Lastly, we have her bookshelf.  The bookshelf itself is curved and consistent with the fluidity theme of the room. The book you can take off the shelf is about the Chinese zodiac.  Additionally, Abby has a palmist hand statue and a pyramid, thus completing her collection of mystical objects.

For a more complete view of her room:

Birdseye view
There are so many elements to consider when creating a map or blueprint.  Happy mapping!



Real Paris Subway Map:  http://www.aparisguide.com/maps/metro.htm

Nancy Drew Paris Subway Map: http://www.mobygames.com/game/windows/nancy-drew-danger-by-design/screenshots/gameShotId,175832/

Abby's Room images from arglefumph's video walk-through: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=7HlzSiN3re8

Birdseye view of Abbey's room: http://www.herinteractive.com/2015/04/nostalgic-thursdays/

Saturday, 20 August 2016

“Paris was the Place” Book Review



*This post contains spoilers



I enjoy listening to TED talks. I find them informative and the speakers captivate my attention by using a creative way to deliver their speeches. One such TED talk was "The power of story" by the writer/poet Susan Conley.




A few days after listening to Conley’s talk, I was checking out the “Bargain Books” section at Indigo and picked up a book that had an interesting title: Paris was the Place. It was only after reading the story’s description on the book’s jacket that I decided to buy it. Then my eyes caught the author’s name and I laughed at the coincidence. I always search for books by certain authors; never have the books found me.
 
 "Paris was the Place" is full of life.  It's 1989 and the protagonist, Willow Pears, teaches poetry at an academy as well as at an immigration center for girls.  She becomes involved in one of the girls' lives at the center which leads to the question of where the line is drawn when it comes to being a teacher.  At the center, Willow encounters the girl's lawyer, Macon, and they quickly begin a relationship without knowing much about each other.  Meanwhile, Willow is constantly anxious about her brother's wavering health.

“Paris was the Place” is an engaging story that I think fellow writers and poets will enjoy. The narrator has a great way of juxtaposing Paris’s beauty and magic beside the worry and unfairness of reality. I consider this book an excellent reflection of life itself. Willie talks about how bright the sun is after something bad has happened in her life, which is something that I have done.  I found that I could relate to her and her way of thinking.

Since I haven't traveled to many places, I always enjoy a book that describes other cities.  Conley's descriptions were my favorite part of the book: "The train station shadows long banks of dove-gray apartment buildings with wrought-iron balconies and cafés with scalloped awnings. The rain's stopped but not before it froze on the icy sidewalks, and the wind has only picked up. Dark limbs of chestnut tees rock back and forth up near the highest apartments.  And this is a different Paris than even this afternoon. The city changes faces" (Chapter 2, paragraph1). 

Although ‘Paris’ is in the book’s title, a surprising amount of India shows up in the story. Several girls at the immigration center are from India; one of Willow's friends is from India; the food they eat at times is Indian and Willow even goes to India to gather research for a book. Again, I enjoy coincidences; I'm going to be taking an English Literature class focusing on South Asia.
   
I like Conley's writing style and will definitely look for more of her work.

For more book reviews, check out my library.