Work and Play with Voice to Text – Part One

At my house, we laugh when a robo call comes in. If the caller ID shows a number we don’t recognize, we let the answering machine answer it.  Our machine plays a Robot to Robot message.

Nine times out of ten, telemarketers hang-up before the message completes.

Here are the steps to use voice to text technology to make your own robot answering machine message.

Step 1. Type Message on your Smartphone

Type the message that you want your robot voice to speak. You can do this in any program that allows typing. I used the Quick Memo app. If you’d like to use mine, here’s the script from my message.

share buttonStep 2. Share your Writing with a Text to Speech app.

The app. that I use on my Android phone is Voice Aloud Reader.voice aloud icon

Experiment with the rate, pitch, and volume settings to make your robot voice sound the way you want.

Step 3. Record your Robot Message onto your Answering Machine.

Hold your phone close to the answering machine microphone. Play the message in the text to speech app. while recording it on your answering machine.

 

The Robot to Robot message is a fun way to reduce interactions with telemarketers, but it doesn’t solve the problem of eliminating the calls.

To cut down on your telemarketing call volume, register your land line and / or cell phone number on the National Do Not Call Registry (US Only). It takes about a month before the registry goes into effect.

In part two of Work and Play with Voice to Text, I will show you how to use speech to text and text to speech programs to make your writing and editing more efficient and accurate.

 

 

The Age of Adaline Movie – an endearing romance.

The Age of Adaline is a story about a young woman who stops aging in 1937. The theme – immortality or the fountain of youth – is twisted in ways that make this tale unique and different.

The film has a beautiful cast, lovely costumes, dramatic music, and moody cinematography. Its ‘Twilight Zone’ style narration gives it an additional level of tension and mystique.

On the night of the accident, Adaline goes into a state of hypothermia. This stops her aging process. The narrator describes this in a long-winded technical fashion, but it gives the viewer a sense that something scientific and otherworldly has happened.

“She can be killed, but she will never die of natural causes or succumb to the usual ravages of time… (It’s sort of a vampire film minus the bloodsucking.)” – Matt Zoller Seitz of RogerEbert.com

The story is set in San Francisco. We see how times have changed from the 1930s through present day; for the city, in women’s clothing styles, culturally, and for Adaline.

Adaline is deeply lonely. She moves to different apartments, changes identities, and experiences the loss of many pet dogs – the only true friends that she keeps.

Adaline has a single long-term relationship – with her daughter who now looks like her grandmother. Then, she meets Ellis.

If you are familiar with my stories, you will understand why this one sucked me in and captured my heart. I enjoyed The Age of Adaline so much that I wanted to dive in deeper, crawl around inside the character’s heads. So it was disappointing to learn that the movie is not based on a book!

I satisfied my desire by writing a continuation of Adaline, Ellis, Flemming, William, and Kathy’s story.

The Age of Adaline joins my list of favorite, memorable love stories; The Sound of Music, Hello Dolly, Overboard, Titanic, Somewhere in Time, Fifty First Dates, and Never Been Kissed.

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Extras:

Deleted Scene – Flemming Gets Lost

Deleted Scene – Gas Leak

Making of and Bloopers

Omniscient Narration – Interview with Director Lee Toland Krieger

Interview with Michiel Huisman (Ellis)

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Adaline Stuff & Other Romantic Movies

  

Escape Clause – Book Review

escape_clause_ga_vandruffWhen thirty-something screenplay writer Jaqie Shanahan and her comedy company – Doofus the dog and José the gecko – stumble upon the ghost of her missing best friend, Jeep McBain, this witty, entertaining, mystery-solving adventure takes off at full sail.

“I didn’t know anything about ghost protocol,” Jaqie comments. “José bolted out of my pocket, climbed to my collar and clutched on with his knobby gray toes for a better view, “ while “Doofus snarfled the dead man’s armpits, and nibbled at the sand crabs scrabbling across the mostly bald head.”
Escape Clause is executed with flawless pacing and impeccable editing. Ms. VanDruff credits experience in stage work for honing her storytelling skills. She writes what she enjoys reading – good clean fun, romantic comedy, and amateur sleuthing. Also evident is her great love and appreciation for her animal sailing mates.
VanDruff’s story background is a nautical theme. On top of this, she adds Hollywood sparkle, tongue-in-cheek caricatures, and a budding paranormal romance.
If your reading mood is to navigate into waters that bring on short bursts of laughter, an ‘awww’ for adorable animals, wistfulness at the lengths one will go to for a good friend, then look no further than Escape Clause.

GA’s an author to keep your sights on!

Follow GA VanDruff:

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Billy Jean, Armadillo Queen – Book Review

Pageflex Persona [document: PRS0000026_00011]If you were a fan of Three’s Company and Alice in the 1980s, you’ll enjoy Billy Jean, Armadillo Queen.

billy_jean_armadillo_queen_megan_scottMarla arrives on the scene after a few personal setbacks. Accepting a job as a waitress in a character theme restaurant, she is transformed into Billy Jean, Armadillo Queen.

The staff ridicule, interactions and backbiting are reminiscent of so many situations where personality conflicts make spending time at work uncomfortable.

Donning her Billy Jean alter ego gives Marla a chance to ‘act out’ in ways that she’d never dare as her real self – with quick redneck banter laced with southern charm. Marla begins to realize levels of freedom that are startling and uplifting.

Marla’s journey is toward self-acceptance. She learns not give negative thoughts power and influence over her actions and decisions. Based on experiences in her own life, Megan Scott wrote Billy Jean, Armadillo Queen in two formats; as a stage play and as a narrative.

In both formats, the warring forces between Marla’s Light and Dark self-talk are entertaining and raunchily humorous.  The dialogue clearly demonstrates the energy and force that thoughts have over daily life and overall level of happiness.

Using laughter to teach such an important lesson is a lovely way to shine a light on a healthier way of thinking.

Connect with Megan Scott:right looking head shot

Buy the Print or e-books on Amazon
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Predicting the Future – Writer’s Resources

Sicfi fans are smiling together today. It is the day that Marty McFly traveled to in the iconic Back to the Future movie. Remembering that light-hearted, entertaining story about one boy who changed the future will have many of us tuning in once again (Back to the Future: 25th Anniversary Trilogy ) to share the fun with our kids.

In the original script the time travel portal was a refrigerator. It’s easy to visualize the comedic scenes that could have spun off from that idea. Would removal of a certain item cause the time travel event? Would the characters have had to squeeze inside? Would grabbing the handle make the floor drop out from under Marty and company? It was a cool idea but I think that the DeLorean was a much racier choice.

It’s been fun to see the differences between the movies’ visions of the future and what actually transpired!

Time travel, as a story theme, is fruitful ground—ripe for the imagination. Economists, politicians, governments, storytellers, futurists, scientists, dreamers, children and their parents all wonder about the future.

As a writer, I find that scenes set in the past are much easier to imagine than ones set in the future. Information, history and research is easy to access. What I enjoy most abut that type of writing is weaving in little known facts—learning becomes effortless and fun. (Author, Ken Follett is a master of this technique.)

How can a writer prep for composing futuristic fiction?

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Currently I am working on a scenario where a character from the year 2135 travels back to the mid 1980’s.  Coming up a story rich in details that haven’t happened yet is challenging.

Since we have we have a 10-year-old son who will be ready to start his professional life somewhere around the year 2030, my research about the future has become a family affair. Together and separately we read and talk about articles in geek, science and technology magazines. We watch TV shows and documentaries where futurists entertain us with their speculations. The links below are to some of our favorites.

“The kids who will control the solar system are the ones who do not give up, who enjoy doing it and persist.” – Chuck Pell, Artist, Entrepreneur and Futurist and host of the TV series, Xploration Earth 2050.

Other Resources:

U.S. National Intelligence Council website Global Trends 2030. Articles submitted by academicians and think tank members discuss a variety of topics such as population, immigration, climate change, aging and more.

MAKE Magazine & Movement

The Futurist Magazine

As with any writing endeavor, research can take tremendous amounts of time. So much so, that it may be difficult to pinpoint where to stop.

As the cast and creators of Back to the Future point out, some future predictions were right and others were wrong. While you are working on a project, you have no idea if it will be a hit or a flop. Only time will tell.

In the end, all any writer can do is create strong characters, set the scene, make their best guess and enjoy the journey.

Today Show cast interview.

 

A Golden Nugget – Penney the Clown

It was an afternoon that I spent running errands with my 8 year old. Little did I expect to find gold. At the Briar Patch we saw a cute face painter working in the outdoor seating area.

In costume, Penney the Clown, breezily transforms a little boy into a lion, while chatting casually with his folks.  Once he is done, he proudly prances around the patio roaring while his brother gets a matching treatment; mom is painted with eye accents that color coordinate with both of her boys. What a fun picture they make together!

Wow…she’s very good!  And fast, I think.  As my son awaits his turn in Penney’s chair, I scan through face painting images on one of my Pintrest Boards.

I am a fan of body painters. This art form, when done well, is spectacular, delicate…and fleeting. I am thrilled to watch this woman work. Her talent is right up there with some of the best that I have seen.

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Penney (or Alison Kenyon as her day-to-day self) begins to change my son from a boy into a goblin. We visit as she sponges and paints. I tell her that I admire the face painting on the technical support team at SmugMug – they appear as comic book characters on their website – she pauses briefly to respond, “Oh I did those!”

I feel as if I have discovered, yet another, gold nugget in my own back yard. This woman is an accomplished fine art body painter. She won the International Face and Body Art competition in San Francisco in 2004. Her work regularly takes her to corporate and theatrical events in the Bay Area.

She is a star – yet she hangs out in front of the Briar Patch – and this award winning artist cheerfully transforms our children into anything that they can imagine.

Next time I plan a party or event, you can bet she’ll be on the top of my list. Nevada County is such a great place to live!

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Frequently asked questions about body painting on Alison’s Body Masterpiece website.

With such a dramatic goblin face, we had to got out and celebrate with a root beer float.