Argentina Visa for Canadians and searching for a printer in Sao Paulo Airport

I’ve been traveling to South America this week for work. As a Canadian, at the Bogota airport, I needed to pay a ~ $100 reciprocity fee for a Canadian coming into the country. I didn’t mind paying the fee – especially because there was a special line for Canadians that allowed me to bypass 200 other people in line.

I traveled to São Paulo next and had the special Brazil Visa in my passport that I had applied and received about 2 months prior.

Last stop (where I’m writing this from) is Buenos Aires in Argentina. A few weeks ago, I’d received a notice to login to an Argentinian government website and pay a $90 Canadian reciprocity fee and print out the receipt and bring it with me to the airport.

I’d forgotten to do that.

We arrived at GRU ( São Paulo Airport) about 3 hours before the flight. But I wasn’t allowed to check in because I didn’t have the damn visa paid for and printed.

I asked – “where is there a computer and printer?”  The agent said “in Terminal 3”  – we were in Terminal 2.

My colleague grabbed my bags and we started towards Terminal 3. We stopped at Avianca customer service. Couldn’t help. We stopped at the airport customer service. Couldn’t help. The GRU customer service said there was a computer and printer in the Lockers in Terminal 2 and 3. As we were flying from Terminal 2 – we went back to find the mythical lockers with the computer and printer so I could print out my damn visa.

Big mistake.

I did find the lockers in terminal 2 but no computer or printer to be found. My bad as I don’t understand Portuguese but my frustration level was pretty high. Finally we went back to Terminal 3, found the lockers and low and behold two computers and printer that could be rented by the minute.

Here’s the link   I used Chrome so I could translate it to English.

img_1575.jpgAs you can see I’m not happy – or happy my fellow traveler documented the event.

But I made the flight and got into Argentina just fine.

My hope is that other poor Canadians in the same situation will google for “Sao Paulo Airport (GRU) Printer or Cyber cafe” will see that the ONLY one is in Terminal 3 in the lockers which is outside the terminal’s arrival area.

ImageGlass - 1213 file(s) - CUsersIBM_ADMINDownloadsterminal-3-desembarque_2017-07-15_18-50-15

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What kind of story are you writing?


The late Blake Synder in the last screenwriting book you will ever need Save the Cat says there’s 10 types of movies out there.

Monster in the house ( Jaws, Alien, Fatal attraction)
Golden Fleece  ( Wizard of Oz, Star wars, Back to the Future)
Out of the Bottle (Liar, Liar ; Bruce Almighty, Freaky Friday)
Dude with a Problem (Die Hard, Titanic, The Martian)
Rites of Passage (Ordinary People, 10)
Buddy Love (Rain Man, Dumb and Dumber)
WhyDunit ( Chinatown, JFK)
The Fool Triumphat (Forest Gump, Being There)
Institutionalized (MASH, Flew over the Cuckoo’s nest)
SuperHero ( Superman, Batman, Dracula, Gladiator)

The categories are nice and understandable but usually there’s  something deeper going on.

In Bob and Jack’s Writing Blog, the boys talk about the 6 Core Stories  and use some of the great myths or archetypal stories to explain it.,

King Replacement
Queen Replacement
Rags to Riches
Grail Quest
Revenge/Scapegoat Quest
Coming of Age

So what’s your story about?  Regardless if you do a Myth based view or a category view, your story needs to be about something.  Did the bad man murder your father and now you seek revenge? ( Star Wars: King Replacement)  or is an unstoppable robot from the future trying to kill you to stop the birth of your son (Coming of Age:  Terminator)

If you are starting #nanowrimo2015 tomorrow morning (or today), it might help if you know what kind of story do you want to write.

However the MOST important part of Nano writing is to write. Don’t stop. Don’t edit. Don’t cross out. Write fast. Write bold. and finish the damn thing.

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Start the week out with a day at FBI Headquarters

On Monday this week, I attended a full day seminar with 100 other writers at the FBI’s New York city office as part of the #thrillerfest writers conference.  The seminar was outstanding.  At the end of the day, we were escorted across the road to 26 Federal Plaza and spent money at the FBI employee store (the general public is not allowed). I bought enough swag and Tshirts to equal the cost of the actual workshop.

The FBI took a case by case approach to the day. After being welcomed by the Assistant Director in Charge Diego Rodriguez, we learned about FBI tackled organized Eurasian crime (Taiwanchik), Cyber criminals, (Silk Road) Human trafficking with the Queen of the Snakeheads (Sister Ping), disrupting illegal equipment from getting into the hands of countries under US Sanctions (Chinese missile man), Murderers and Jewel thieves.

The FBI’s mission of course includes Counter Terrorism and one of the agents took us through a high profile case on how they tracked and stopped a group planning to manufacture and detonate explosives on US Soil.  We also learned that the FBI’s reach is around the world when US citizens are involved (Somali Pirates). A band of Somali pirates a couple of years ago  mistook a US navy boat for an easy target. Unfortunately, one of the pirates lost a leg in the takedown and the FBI agent remarked that since it was his case,  he had the opportunity to interview a real one legged pirate.

Lots of questions were asked an answered about working life at the FBI, if relationships were frowned upon and how well the FBI worked with other law enforcement agencies but unfortunately for us writers, most of the agents talked about how well all the groups worked together and how NYPD and the FBI worked together as a team.  So much for using inter-agency strife as a basis for a good plot line!

I personally found all the agents to be warm and welcoming. ALL of them loved their job and coming to work. Most had other jobs and careers before joining the FBI, ranging from School teachers, lawyers, IT and ex-military.

However.. no agent was willing to talk about the X-files 🙂

I’m looking forward to the rest of the conference!

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Gentlemen ( and Ladies) Start your engines – Nano is about to begin.

I’m starting nano in two days.  That means for the new writers out there, I will be in a pedal to the metal, hair blown straight  back, caffeine fueled  frenzy to get at least 1667 words per day to hit the goal of 50,000 words by the end of November.


That said, the previous time I did it was the best thing I’ve done for my writing in the last 10 years. I learned that 1) I can be productive and 2) I don’t need no stink’n outline.

Now, before you pick up the pen or raise the keyboard and start typing, it’s a good idea to have at least a general direction  to write in. Maybe pick a genre, maybe have a character in mind, because something has to happen. Conflict needs to happen. A character arc needs to happen.  Beyond that you are on your own.

A couple of excellent books that might help you  – 1) Story Engineering by Larry Brooks  and Chris Baty’s  No Plot, No Problem.  Both will kick start your work and get you writing ( which is the whole point of this fool effort to begin with)


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Plotter or Write without a Net?


In New York in July, I attended a writing conference and had the opportunity to ask a number of best seller authors are you a Plotter or Pantser?

I was surprised at the remarks.

From a panel of six  authors, only one (Steve Berry) said he never understood how anyone could write a big novel without outlining.  The rest of the authors just looked at him and smiled.

One author said he knew the characters so well, once he started, the characters took over and wrote the story.  Another said he’s write 70% of the book and then do a reverse outline  of what he’d written so far to make sure it all made sense.

One blockbuster series author( I found out later from another writer) starts his books with “Chapter one”  and then writes.

My own experience was for my first novel, I outlined, did character charts, used a whiteboard, interviewed my characters and used a software called “writing blocks” to help me organize the writing.  This process took a long time and wasn’t overly productive.

The next novel I wrote was via National Novel Writing month.  No outline. I started with a small scene of a man in jail receiving a crayon laden postcard from his 5 year old daughter.  I started with that and wrote without a net.  If you aren’t familiar with NANO, you sign up to write 50,000 words in a month – which equals 1667 words per day.  That means unless you don’t have a full time job or a family or friends you can’t do much pre-work. Outlining goes out the window.

I wrote by the seat of my pants and got at the end a reasonable story with a beginning, middle and end.  Not bad for 30 days.

If the thought of writing without a net scares you, try some timed writing ala Bob and Jack’s writing blog.

You will be surprised what you come up with

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Making Scrivener a touch more useful

I’m putting the final polish on a thriller. After one of my readers (who’s a writer I respect) suggested my pacing needed some tuning.  As in, I needed to have some catch-your-breath scenes after rising action. I found a few examples on pacing and Scrivener like here ->  but I wanted to learn the meta data feature in Scrivener to see if I could make it more useful.

First, I added a couple of fields: Characters and Tension

I then went through each scene and added a relative tension number – between 1 and 12.  This number is completely arbitrary as it could mean tension, action, threat etc.  In a romance, you could use this for romantic tension.

Then I went to the Outline view ( you will have to resize the window to bring the other columns into view


And then show the two new fields you created.


This gives you a view of scenes/characters/tension


Then FILE-> export


Now things get a little tricky as Scrivener doesn’t yet have any kind of a way to number scenes.

Open the CSV file in Excel or Open Office or any other spreadsheet program and do some cleanup.

Add a scene number to each scene ( 1,2,3 etc) then  Remove all the columns EXCEPT for the scene # and Tension

It’s a little more manual at this point.

In excel DELETE each row that is NOT a scene ( it might be a name of a folder or chapter)

Make sure the row below moves up as you delete the previous row.

Your spreadsheet should start to look like this.

2014-09-21 17_12_59-outline tension.xlsx - Excel

Then make a chart with the scene number as the Horizontal access and the Tension as the vertical access to get this.

2014-09-21 17_18_34-outline tension.xlsx - Excel

Although not an exact science, thinking about pacing in a thriller gave me a more visual view of what’s happening in the story as well as the rising action!.



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