Tuesday, February 26, 2013

A different kind of snowman

What's in your coffee?

Last winter, I had a latte at The Good Neighbour Espresso Bar in The Junction (238 Annette).

The barista made a snowman in my coffee.
If the current staff still know how to do this, I'm sure they could make it on top of a foamy hot chocolate. That would help to chase the February blues, wouldn't it?

Check my snow fun board on Pinterest, with many activities not requiring actual snow!

Like Toronto Fun Places on Facebook!

(Feb. 26) One word to describe

There's only one word...

... to describe how I feel now, regarding my self-imposed deadline of sending the material to the printer at the end of February 28th.

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Sunday, February 24, 2013

(Feb. 24) About caffeine

About the role of caffeine in the making of a guide

Sometimes, there's lace in my latte!

In our last email exchange, I was telling my illustrator that everyone but me got a nasty cold in my family. I suggested that maybe the fact that my body is saturated with caffeine helped.

She told me that she has to thread carefully between enough coffee to get a buzz but not enough to prevent her hand from being steady. Good girl!

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Saturday, February 23, 2013

(Feb. 23) About staying connected

About keeping in touch with our friends (anyway we can)

I was laying out the Roncesvalles Stroll, which I did with my friend Julie. As I was placing her photo, I was thinking about her and decided to post the page I'm working on on her Facebook wall.

Little nods, here and there, to say I still exist and to remind myself that I'll get my social life back once the guide is done!

Friday, February 22, 2013

(Feb. 22) About the layout

About laying out the photos on the guide's pages.

For the last five days and the next two, I've been adding the photos to the texts in Toronto Urban Strolls 2. On one side, I have the full text of a stroll. On the other, a file with a selection of the best photos for the stroll.

1) First, I need to re-read the text to see when a photo would potentially be most useful, and mark the place with a number. (I write down what the photo should describe.)

2) I open the Best photos file to see the selection of the best photos I pre-selected (out of approx. 1,000 +) and note the photo # of potential choices for each number in the text (there's a system to my madness...).

3) I select all the potential photos and run them through iPhoto to enhance each one.

4) Then I "test-drive" them on the pages, selecting one photo per spot in the text according to horizontal or vertical options. It often takes a few trials.

When it goes from a text-ony page to a fully completed one, it's a great feeling!

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Tuesday, February 19, 2013

(Feb. 19) About mistakes

True story!

If you cut & paste around titles when working on the layout of your book, the titles:

Author's favourite TOP-3 STROLLS 
TOP-3 STROLLS for shopping therapy

could become:  

Author's favourite therapy

Not good! When this starts to happen, it's time to take a break.

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Friday, February 15, 2013

Fun with (whatever little) snow we have

I was absorbed in my work. When I looked out the window, big fluffy snow flakes were falling over the city. Then I blinked...

Whenever I find a fun snow-related activity, I collect it on my Snow Fun board on Pinterest. Have a look! You'll find:
• a link to the full clip of The Snowman (drawn by Raymond Briggs)
• an activity to create a storm in a bag
• the most original treasure hunt (with coloured ice cubes)
• a snow ad shooting gone wild
• and more...

You need a Pinterest account to see this bord (if you're new to this, I like this tutorial by ThriftyNinja on how to use Pinterest).
Once you have an account, go to pinterest.com/NathaliePrezeau and look for my Snow Fun board.

For winter fun see the kids' outing of the week on torontofunplaces.com.

Thursday, February 14, 2013

(Feb. 14) About faith

A time for faith

Now is the time in the writing process when I need to hold on to my initial vision and have faith that all the pieces will soon fall into place.

This photo, taken yesterday on Queen East on my way home, illustrates perfectly my current state of mind: 

There's light at the end of the tunnel but exterior influences are not pointing in that direction!

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Wednesday, February 13, 2013

Walking Dead promo at Union Station

High five to a good Twitter campaign 

By chance, I came across two giant hands (2-meter high zombie hands) in the middle of an empty Union Station on February 5. It was the first day of a countdown promo created by Leo Burnett agency for AMC's Walking Dead, resuming on Sunday February 10th.

As I was taking pictures, a security guard offered to take my photo by the hands. "You could tweet it and have a chance to win a finger!" he explains to me. 

On the floor by the right hand lie five ugly zombie fingers. I'm thinking: "Yeah.... no. One of these things entering my house? Over my dead body!" But I can understand the appeal. My husband and daughter are big fans of the series. (He even gave me Pride and Prejudice and Zombies for Christmas, you get the gist...)

So people were encouraged to tweet their photo with the ashtag #TWDFEB10 to enter the raffle. Every day, one more finger fell of the left hand.

When I returned on February 9th, there was indeed only one finger attached to the hand. (The artist who created this prop would come at 9 p.m. every night and carefully cut a finger so it would look "realistic".) Some people showed up dressed in "zombie attire". There was always someone having his or her picture done.

By the evening of February 9th, when I googled their ashtag, it was featured in over 4,000 links. On Twitter, I could see that between 150 to 340 tweets were sent every day.

Since @TheWalkingFans (Walking Dead fan's account on Twitter) and @WalkingDead_AMC (the Twitter account for the series) were both participants in the Twitter conversations, it gave exposure to the fan's  Facebook page and the series' website (both linked on their Twitter profile page).

I'd say it was a pretty successful campaign!
I wonder who got the hands?

Like Toronto Fun Places on Facebook!

Tuesday, February 12, 2013

(Feb. 12) Last minute changes

Do you think she'll still want to work with me?

The quickest way for me to pass on info about addition of names on the maps is to scribble over a photocopy of them, take a photo with my iphone and email it to my illustrator with the details.  

Not the most elegant method, I agree...

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(Feb. 12) Last chance to improve on the maps!

About the maps
Oops! My illustrator Johanne Pepin just emailed me these pictures of her colouring the maps.

Now is my last chance to give her additional street names to add to the maps before she handwrites them on the originals (an aesthetic choice, but we're scanning the originals before, just in case).

Mental note: double check with Johanne that we ARE indeed scanning the originals before she writes on them!!!

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Sunday, February 10, 2013

(Feb. 10) Creating a book cover

About the creation of a book cover

A few weeks ago, I sent my illustrator Johanne Pepin a DVD filled with photos of places I've visited for Toronto Urban Strolls 2.

She sat on it, thought about it while finishing other contracts and this week, was ready to send me a first rough draft. 

Now, we're engaging in a fun back and forth dialog to achieve the best result, using her eye to create a balanced composition and my knowledge of what would most appeal to my readers.

Getting there!

Orange was the colour popping out on the cover of the first Toronto Urban Strolls. This time, we're going for a shocking pink. The goal here is to make sure buyers won't confuse Toronto Urban Strolls 1 (28 walks) with Toronto Urban Strolls 2 (with 24 additional walks).

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Tuesday, February 5, 2013

(Feb. 05) Tips about working in cafés The Making of a guide

Working in cafés
A friend of mine who knows I prefer to work in cafés just sent to me this article which explains well the benefits I get from working in cafés. Why you should work from a coffee shop, even when you have an office by Wesley Verhoeve, Jan 25, 2013 on website fastcompany.com.

I agree with everything Wesley says in her article! I'd add the following tips:
• Don't monopolize a table for four!
• Don't spread all over a table. (Be ready to share the space with someone if they ask. When they do, my experience is they never stay long.)
• Make sure the staff sees you leave a tip. When they're really busy, they might not notice. You don't want to risk passing for a big leech!
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Sunday, February 3, 2013

(Feb. 3) Knowing when it's good enough

About letting go
Over the years, I've learned one thing a writer needs to develop, the ability to know when to let go. A book, an article, a blog could always be better, but there's also such a thing as dead-lines! 

Yesterday, I went on Ossington Avenue to double-check some info and try one last restaurant before wrapping up my Ossington Effervescent Vibe Stroll... and I came across a graffiti alley which I had totally missed! (It's in the lane just west of Ossington, north of Queen Street West.)

It was so impressive I decided to redo my circuit to include it. When this happens, I can't help to think about all the other great spots I must be missing. It drives me nuts, until I remember the above mentioned lesson. (Note to ego: we're not writing a novel here!)

What about the last restaurant I tried? 
Tiny Hawker Bar (164 Ossington, next to laid-back Ideal Coffee), the one with the funny sign reading: Prove that you love me and buy the next round. I tasted their intriguing Son-in-law eggs. Delish!!! They're soft-boiled, then fried and laid on a special marmalade. (Love my job!)

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