Wednesday, November 28, 2012

Vancouver's Da Vinci

My four-day free promotion for my book, Missing Flowers, is over. It was a wild four days, I have to tell you. It was also a highly successful promotion. My final download numbers were: US - 9523, UK - 382, DE - 150 (Germany), FR - 4, ES - 1 (Spain), TOTAL: 10,060. Thank you to everyone who downloaded a book and helped to spread the word.

Thanks to these numbers, my publisher has decided to go ahead and put Missing Flowers into paperback. I will notify you when that happens.

This building is at the corner of Lakewood Drive and Hastings Street. Built in 1912, it is known as 'The Lakewood'.

Another announcement. This blog has been nominated for a Best Company Award with Vancouver's first social media awards. I will let you know more when I do. Now on to the entry.

From 1998 to 2005, TV viewers were held enthralled by the exploits of Vancouver coroner, Dominic Da Vinci. 

The show started with a bang featuring a three part story line that looked at the then unsolved disappearance of prostitutes on Vancouver's East side. (Sound familiar?) Show creator Chris Haddock didn't hold back either with those first episodes or in any of the shows during the seven seasons Da Vinci's Inquest was on.

The show was loosely based on the life of former Vancouver chief coroner Larry Campbell - who went to become our mayor - but the part was apparently written for the show's star, Nicholas Campbell.

DaVinci is an opinionated, well meaning. ex-Mountie, crusading for justice. He has an ex-wife who, for the first four years of the series, is a medical examiner working with DaVinci. He has a daughter and he likes his alcohol.

Surrounding DaVinci was a cast of characters that were portrayed by some of the best actors in the business. Names like Ian Tracey, Callum Keith Rennie, Venus Terzo, Camille Sullivan, Colin Cunningham, Stephen Miller (who is now a fantastic author!)  And the list goes on. And on.

I don't have any information on this house but as you can see, it was built in 1910.

So, Haddock gets together this group of uber-talented people, digs into Vancouver's sometimes sordid tales and creates a show that weaves fact with fiction to take the viewer on an entertaining journey. Through DaVinci's Inquest, Chris shows the world the city of Vancouver.

I remember an episode about a serial killer who was feeding women alcohol until they died. Does that story ring a bell with you? If you have been reading my blog, it should. On October 5, 2012, wrote about the Boozy Barber who did just that.

Haddock not only explored the history of Vancouver with the show but exposed some of the issues in our current day city. Like the struggle to set up the Insite, Supervised Injection Centre and the constant battle to organize a red light district. Outsiders, and even Vancouverites, were able to learn more about Vancouver through the episodes. And those who have never been here, were exposed to just how utterly gorgeous Vancouver can be.

I never realized until just this moment how much Chris Haddock and DaVinci's Inquest has influenced me. I am also taking stories of Vancouver and fictionalizing those tales then creating something to entertain and perhaps educate my fans. I am just using another medium as my art form.

I hope you find the beauty around you.

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Monday, November 26, 2012

Last Day

This is the LAST day to get your copy of Missing Flowers FREE. I have been promoting it all weekend and the downloads have been phenomenal. Sunday morning, I was notified by my publisher that I had over 4,600 downloads world wide and I discovered that Missing Flowers was number one in its category in Germany.

Just think, that is over 4,600 people reading about my book and learning more about Vancouver and its history.

So today I am going to finish Chapter One.

Suddenly it was daylight and Julie was no longer sitting on an apartment balcony. She was standing on a wooden plank sidewalk and she could hear the crackling and roar of a large fire. It seemed so close that she could actually feel the heat. The smoke and heat burned the inside of her nostrils. She knew she was in danger but fear froze her in place.

Julie felt like she was in an old time horror movie.  All around her people were running to escape the flames. Chinese men and women in traditional garb not usually seen in this century outside of China Town, in quilted jackets with old fashioned frog fastenings worn over loose pants, their feet encased in slipper-like shoes, ran screaming past her, the men’s long braids streaming behind them. A babble of languages assaulted her ears as people yelled at one another. Their voices rose in response to the increasing roar of the fire. This wasn’t the Vancouver that Julie knew.  What was going on?

She choked and coughed. Tears were starting to run down her face as the smoke inflamed her sensitive membranes.  She couldn’t see. She knew she had to move but was frozen in place, watching those around her trying to escape the devouring flames, trying to find safety.

Julie knew she had to move, had to flee, but her feet wouldn’t budge. An overwhelming fear engulfed her. She had to move or else she would die. The fire seemed so much closer; she could actually see a building in the distance being devoured by the greedy flames. It hadn’t stood a chance. She tried to wipe the tears from her eyes so that she could see but the liquid just kept coming.  Someone grabbed her from behind and started dragging her away. She felt herself getting lost in the crowd.

Just as quickly as it had begun the vision ended. Julie was back on her balcony shivering in the cool air. She glanced west again and was happy to see that the sky looked normal. No fire.

“I wonder what that was all about?” Julie questioned aloud. Logically Julie knew that the fire was something from the past, a long time in the past, but this had never happened to her before. At least not that she could remember.

Julie’s visions usually came to her in the form of feelings or dreams. Never had she been transported back in time like that; never had she been so much a part of a vision. Usually, especially in a dream, part of Julie knew that it wasn’t real. Part of her knew that she could wake up at any time and that whatever she was experiencing wasn’t really happening to her. This time was different though.

She rubbed her eyes, still feeling the effects of the smoke. Tears were trickling out of the corners and Julie wanted to wash her eyes out with water. Her throat was raw; the now lukewarm tea did little to soothe it. She looked down at her body wrapped in a robe and was astonished at what she saw. A fine layer of soot lay on the cloth.

Too weird! Julie quickly headed for the shower to wash away the soot and to think about what had just happened.

There you go. That was Chapter One of my breakout novel, Missing Flowers. Don't you want to read the rest? Today is the last day you will be able to get it free!

This is the link for the US, UKFranceGermanyItalyJapan and Spain.

I hope you find the beauty around you.

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Friday, November 23, 2012

It's FREE!!!

Carnegie Centre at the corner of Hastings and Main Street. This is where the drug addicted prostitute, Francine Chapman, has the confrontation on the phone with her mother. This 'blowout' is what brings a lot of changes to Francine's life.

Wednesday I said that my eBook, Missing Flowers, was going free today and it is! I am going to continue letting you read part of Chapter One and showing you places in Vancouver that feature in the book. So let's go.

This old bank is located further down Hastings Street in what is known as Pigeon Park. Here is where Carlin Zahn, the Preacher Man, brings clothes and food for the poor and tries to convert them.

She blinked. Her vision was hazy but it wasn’t anything to do with her. She could smell the cloying odour of too much incense and the smoke drifted lazily around her. Lemon scented furniture polish didn’t improve the atmosphere nor did the smells wafting from her unwashed body. Dream Julie sniffed.

I hate it here. Usually it is just in and out, give me my dough then we bugger off wherever. But not today. Dream Julie giggled inwardly at her thought ‘in and out’. That’s what it was usually. Nothing spectacular, nothing special.

Oppenheimer Park where Francine - and other down and out Vancouver residents - hang around. The park itself has a long history in this city.

Julie shifted position in her plastic chair. She sensed something wasn’t right. Something was going to happen. She felt a tightening in her chest and panic froze her throat.

I want to say something, she thought. I want to tell him to shut up, to get on with it. But if I do that he might get nasty and I need the money. He might hurt me or leave me someplace where I can’t get back. I gotta a bad feeling about this. Dream Julie felt a premonition of danger and was getting ready to stand and leave. To hell with the money and to hell with being stranded, she would survive, always had. She was tough, a survivor. That is when things changed.

The top photo is the First United Church on Hastings Street. Although I didn't mention this in Missing Flowers, this is another place that the homeless go for comfort, food and other necessities.

The middle photo is of a famous Alley in Chinatown, Shanghai Alley, in the late 1800s. This is what Julie, in the body of the Chinese prostitute in that era, may have seen.

The last photo is a monument in present day Shanghai Alley.

Present day Julie started to gasp for air, she realized that the horrifying part of the nightmare was about to happen. There was nothing she could do to stop either the event or her recollection of it.

In the dream, her hair was grabbed and her head snapped back. She couldn’t see who it was, and thought she had forgotten to tell the john rough stuff was extra. She opened her mouth to speak but only a gasp came out. She felt cold metal on her neck then the feeling of liquid warmth. The smell of lemon scented furniture polish, incense and unwashed body parts was overpowered by the coppery stench of blood. She looked down and saw the floor becoming red. A red liquid was pouring onto the wood and it seemed to be originating from her. Bewildered, she looked up but couldn’t see who was there. Everything was murky; the incense cloud had gotten thicker. The droning continued and was the last thing dream Julie heard before everything went black.

Here's the restaurant where Julie meets Santoro and his sister and joins the two for lunch. This is also where Julie has a very disturbing psychic episode.
Julie enjoys walking around the city and this is one of the buildings she may see, the Marine Building.

Julie shivered. She hugged herself and tried to clear her mind, -focusing on the activity in the alley – there always seemed to be something happening there, whether it was a drunk stumbling home, a hooker hiding behind the dumpster servicing a john, a drug deal taking place, or an innocent person on their way home. Yet in these wee hours, the alley seemed to be uncommonly silent.

This is the Italian Centre. The site of Santoro and Julie's first date.

This was not the first time she had dreamt of death in this fashion. Ever since she had moved from Toronto to Vancouver three months ago, she had been receiving these messages. Nothing was ever clear, just vague images, which frightened and confused her. Julie felt that the images were of murder victims, but didn’t know when the killings occurred.  It could be in present time, centuries before, or in the future. It was as if the dead were reaching out to her for help, pleading with her to bring their killers to justice. Or revenge? But until they told her more she couldn’t help them.
This is the Buddhist Temple at the corner of Broadway and Victoria Drive. Julie would walk past this building a lot.

It was frustrating. Ever since she was a child Julie tended to have premonitions and prophetic dreams. Too often Julie would only get bits and pieces and be left to try to figure it out. And this time, like so many others, Julie felt a sense of urgency. She knew something was wrong and she was being summoned to fix it; she was the one being given the clues. Now if she could only figure out what the visions were trying to tell her.

Julie shivered. She was getting chilly on the balcony and should really go in. She looked to the west and was surprised to see the sky glowing. It was still night, the sun wouldn’t be casting its light for a few more hours, and Julie wondered what could be causing that glow. She heard a crackling sound and took a deep breath. The air was getting thick. A fire? But why didn’t she hear any sirens?

There you go. A teaser into Chapter One - there are a few more things that happen in this chapter. Be sure to pick up your copy of Missing Flowers now, it is free through Monday. This is the link for the US, UKFranceGermanyItalyJapan and Spain.

The top photo is of the police station on Main Street where Santoro works. The bottom is of the Sunrise Market where Julie meets Santoro's partner.

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