Sunday, August 27, 2023

Reflecting on Allowing Discussion of the CW ND Television Series

In 2019, I stood my ground on allowing discussion of the CW ND television series, despite strong opposition that came from quite a few collectors.  On May 31 of this year, I posted the following to the Collecting Vintage Series Books group on Facebook.

We welcome discussion of all media based on our legacy vintage series.  This means that modern adaptations of legacy vintage series are fine to discuss, regardless of format or whether the adaptation is faithful to the source material.

I remind you of this because the fourth and final season of Nancy Drew premieres tonight on The CW.  I am following through on a promise that I made to myself in late 2019: I will not allow bullies to prevent me from allowing discussion of an adaptation of a legacy vintage series just because they don't approve of it.

I was treated rather badly in late 2019 when Nancy Drew premiered.  I received some pretty hateful private messages.  I was compared to Joseph Stalin.  That was when I promised myself that I would not back down.  It is reasonable that a group devoted to Nancy Drew and the Hardy Boys should be able to allow discussion of modern adaptations of Nancy Drew and the Hardy Boys.

The series finale aired on August 23.  I posted the following right after I made my final episode post.

And it's a wrap!  I have fulfilled my promise to myself that I made in late 2019.  I was bullied about allowing and facilitating discussion of this series in this group.  I promised myself that I would post about every single episode in the series until it was over.  And so I have.

I am very proud of myself for following through, and I have felt slightly uncomfortable the entire time.  Every single time I posted about the latest ND episode, I felt discomfort.  Yes, all 62 times.  I knew what some people were thinking.  But I didn't let it stop me.  I felt strongly that a group devoted to Nancy Drew and similar series books ought to be able to discuss a Nancy Drew television show.  I remained firm.

I've been reflecting about this, and I went through my private messages on Facebook from 2019.  I share some of my remarks here with you.  All content in this post was written by me.  You don't get to see the comments that were made to me, but my responses will give you the gist. 

I refer to different people by the letters A, B, C, and so on, to maintain their privacy and to distinguish them from each other.

A few notes...

Since my comments are from private messages, I do make some pretty strong statements and am a bit unfiltered.  I may offend those of you who didn't like the show.  To be clear, my frustration was with the people who were attempting to beat me into submission, who were also attempting to keep anyone from discussing the show online.  I never cared that some people didn't like the show; I was annoyed with how aggressive and mean a subset of those people were.  It was wrong of them to act like they did. 

I refer to Person Q as "nuts."  This person was unhinged.  She cussed all over the place and made extreme statements that were rather shocking.  The behavior by that person was particularly awful.  What happened in late 2019 was the worst behavior from series book fans since the flame wars of the Nancy Drew newsgroup from the late 1990s.  

I mention being pleased about certain people flouncing out of the group.  It's a funny thing when people threaten to leave a group.  They act like they will be hurting the moderator.  Instead, difficult people brighten a moderator's day when they flounce out of the group, since they will then no longer be a problem.

The story begins with the script being passed around between collectors in early 2019.  Some of us read the pilot episode script long before the first episode was even filmed.

February 21, 2019, to Person F

The sex scene will freak everyone out!  They will die.  They can't deal with Sophia Lillis' hair or clothing, so they will absolutely have conniption fits.  It might be the end of ND fandom. 

February 22, 2019, to Person F

The story is good, especially at the end when Nancy realizes that all is not as she thought.  Making Nancy a few years older would make the mature scenes easier to accept.  At the same time, keeping her a teen is important to the story, since she still lives with her father and feels betrayed by him.  But regardless, I hope this is filmed and that we actually get to see it.  

The story reminds me of the recent comic book series, which I have not gotten back to finishing.  It's like they got some ideas from it, especially the Bayport part.

July 19, 2019, to Person A

I agree!  This is going to be really good!  I SO hope that the show is successful.  It's important that the show appeal to people other than us, and this show has everything needed to do that.

August 9, 2019, to Person E

I have read [the script of the pilot episode].  The reaction is going to be bad, and some people are going to flip out completely.  They are already upset, and they do not know what is actually in the show.

I have been following the discussions in the ND Book Fans group, and I am getting increasingly concerned.  I notice another argument transpired today with someone leaving the group.  Someone else left the group a few days ago.  I don't understand why people leave groups instead of just blocking the people who annoy them.

The show premiered on October 9, 2019.

October 9, 2019, to Person F

I haven't checked the group yet since I was watching the show.  The show was exactly what I expected.  I had read the script and seen previews, so no surprises. 


I'm beginning to read the comments.  I don't get why they are so rigid in their thinking and why things like George being bossy are so annoying to them.  I thought George was bossy at times in the books...


[Person B] is surprised that I support the show.  He has no clue about me and what I think.  He wrote on another post "0% Nancy Drew."  He has no idea.

October 10, 2019, to Person F

The fan reaction has definitely reached full-blown meltdown status in the ND group.  Ooh, I need to check the game fans group again.  I haven't been there since last night.


And some of the language!  One person posted about ND having a "f*** buddy" and someone else said she's a "b****."  They aren't taking this well.  

And their comments about the morality of the sex is out of line.  A few people declared that they wouldn't watch the show again.  

And I'm sick of people putting down young people, saying that they don't read books, etc.  I did respond on one comment thread stating that a number of my students bring paper books to class to read.  So annoying to read judgmental statements.


Several people say it isn't like ANY of the books.  I disagree.  Aside from the sex, I think the show isn't that different from the Files, which admittedly I haven't read in years.


The game fans seem to be a lot more sane about this.  There are complaints, but they aren't coming across as raving maniacs like the people in the book group.


Yes, the behavior in the book group is embarrassing.  If people from the show are there, they will think we are all insane.


[Person Q] is nuts!  I was thinking of Taylor Swift's "You Need to Calm Down" and someone posted the gif!

October 11, 2019, to Person F

Some of these people are way over-dramatic.  A few claim that the show has ruined Nancy Drew for them.  

I made note of a couple comments I saw earlier today.  One person:  "But I just clutched my blue tweed very first Nancy Drew as I watched."  Wow.

October 13, 2019, to Person F

I haven't seen a discussion of the sex go well anywhere that I've seen.  People are incapable of having a rational discussion about that aspect of the show, just like with politics.

I came up with the idea to ban the sex discussion part of the show way back in June but didn't tell anyone.  I was originally going to warn people before the first show aired, but then I decided just to see what would happen.  Now I know and am not surprised.  They can't handle it.

October 13, 2019, to Collecting Group moderators

[Person G]'s post on the ND show bears watching.  We already have a statement about the immorality of premarital sex and another one disagreeing, and that strays into religion and politics.  Not good.  I have made two comments in an attempt to prevent the comments from getting worse.

If the post deteriorates into a flame war in the next few hours, please close comments.  It's skating on the edge right now.  A little trolling is going on by [Person H], who is not a regular.  Some other comments are also problematic.  


Right, I don't think ND Book Fans is banning such posts.  People just shouldn't be hateful to each other and shouldn't be cussing like they were.

I'm concerned about the comments regarding the morality of premarital sex, since that borders on religion and politics, which we do not allow.  So far, the comments are going overall okay, but this will continue to bear watching.

This may sound heavy-handed, but this is what I'd like to do as we will be dealing with this for months if the show doesn't get canceled (and I hope it doesn't).  

I would like to make a rule that states that fans can discuss any aspect of the show except for the sex.  What do you think?  Does that sound reasonable or insane?  

I don't want to read comments for and against premarital sex every single week as this show airs.  We already know that [Person I] will not drop it, nor will others who are strongly on the other side of the issue.  That discussion needs to occur somewhere else and not under our watch.  

I don't like the inclusion of sex in the show, but this is just fiction.  It's just a show.  She isn't real.  It's not productive for us to debate whether she should or shouldn't every single week.

And [Person J] just called [Person G] "twisted."  We won't be able to leave the post open much longer.


As others have stated in our group and elsewhere, it's the sex that seems to enrage people more than anything else.  Ever since I read the script early this year, I have been worried about it.  I originally wanted to ban discussion of sex in this show before the first show aired, but I never followed through with it.  So that's how I feel about discussing that aspect of the show.  I don't want to touch it at all.


So how about the post gets closed, and I write a post stating that no discussion of Nancy Drew having sex is allowed.  This is a ridiculous rule, but ridiculous times require ridiculous measures.


I think that we are going to run into problems again when the second show airs.  This is my current plan.  Let me know if you have any other ideas.

Each Wednesday before the show airs, I can start a discussion thread for the new episode.  Discussion will be limited to that post.  The post will include a warning about not discussing any sex scenes that might appear in the show.  The warning will also state that all comments about the sex will be deleted.

And then we will have to see if that idea will work.  If not, discussing the show can be banned, but I'd like to allow it if we can keep the controversy out of the group.  This is just so silly that some people can't be reasonable.

There are actually some comments in the ND Book Fans group where people state that last week's episode ruined all of their memories of ND.  That's crazy!

October 14, 2019, to Collecting Group moderators

You might have noticed that I did not remove [Person J]'s comment calling [Person G] "twisted."  I think it is good for people to see exactly what was starting to happen so that they know why I banned discussion of sex in the group. 

I noticed that three people left the group after I banned discussion of sex: [Person I] (he has been a problem in several ways, so good riddance), [Person K], and [Person L].

All three complained about the sex, so they must be annoyed that they cannot complain more.  Why can't they just ignore the show?  Why is that so hard?

I assume that the next show will have sex in it.  If anyone complains about or mentions the sex, then their comment or post should be deleted.  We must take a hard line on this.  

October 16, 2019, to Person E

I appreciate your comments.  I'm now planning two posts for tonight, one for fans and one for people who are not fans.  This might not work, but it's worth a try.


I'm back to just one post and no restriction other than no discussion of sexual content.  We'll see what happens.  I also just had to kick out someone who mocked me.  Such fun times.  Your thoughtful comments are always appreciated.

October 16, 2019, to Collecting Group moderators

The show is about Nancy Drew, and I have always stated that all versions of Nancy Drew are within our guidelines, just like all versions have always been covered by publications like Yellowback Library.


It's just that we have always accepted other versions like Pamela Sue Martin.  If we are not going to allow this one, then all filmed versions should be tossed out.

The Nancy Drew Book Fans group is pretty much on its own due to the Sleuth convention [currently in progress].  [The moderators] aren't available to moderate it.  I want to give people just one place to discuss the show in peace.


I just kicked [Person M] out and banned him.  This is the first time I've ever been mocked with "baaah!"  


I just placed the group on moderation so that we don't get a bunch of threads about the show.  Also, we're all going to have to sleep.  That won't stop bad comments on existing posts, but new posts will have to be approved.

[Person N] also just suggested we stick to books only.  I'm not responding, but if we did that, then we shouldn't discuss Bonita Granville or any other version, should we?  

If there is one thread and one thread only, I continue not to understand why they can't just ignore it.  


I also don't want to cave in for anything in the world at this point.  I don't want to give them the satisfaction of beating me down.  We should be able to discuss a Nancy Drew series.  


The complainers are now jumping in, and they aren't referring to the new show, since it hasn't aired.  It's interesting how we are expected to put up with them, and how dare we ask them to hold back.

October 17, 2019, to Collecting Group moderators

I agree.  I read [Person B]'s comment slowly last night, twice, to see if he went too far.  He was using veiled language to get away with it.  He knew that my guidelines forbid terms like "adult situations," so he made it more vague.

I think he will end up leaving the group or being kicked out before too much longer.  I expect he won't be able to resist being blatant, and I will offend him, causing him to leave, or I will kick him out.  The clock is ticking...

October 17, 2019, to Person A

I'm getting a lot of flak over allowing discussion of the show, and I will not back down.  I think it has gone okay so far.  Some people say that the group should only be about BOOKS, so the show doesn't fit.  But those same people don't mind Pamela Sue Martin and Bonita Granville.  They just don't want a version discussed if they don't like it.  People are so unreasonable.  We've lost at least five members this week plus the one I kicked out yesterday.

(later response)

I appreciate your support.  I really do.  I feel like the discussion has gone really well.  We had one minor skirmish last night, and the person who started that comment thread then deleted it when it didn't need to come down.  But at least that person is trying to avoid causing trouble.

[Person B] just can't keep from saying something.  I know what he meant and he veiled it to fit the rule, and I read it twice to make certain that he wasn't going too far.  At least he didn't use "adult behavior" like he did days ago.  He's one of those who said the group is about BOOKS only.

Even though the naysayers claim that the sex is the reason they don't like the show, they wouldn't like it anyway.  The only ND that would be good enough is if Nancy could jump off of the cover of 1930 Old Clock and into a movie.  She would then have to act exactly like in the book and say the same lines.

October 17, 2019, to Person X

I'm digging in, standing my ground, even though some people cannot stand seeing the show discussed in the Collecting group.  They are now saying that the group is only about the BOOKS and that the show should not be allowed.

If so, then Bonita Granville and Pamela Sue Martin's versions should be banned, right?  I'm not picking and choosing which versions to allow.  It's either ALL or NONE.  I'm going with ALL.

We are losing members.  Two more people left last night since seeing the episode discussion.  I don't care, and I actually hope more complainers leave.

I also got mocked yesterday in the group over politics, so I banned that person.  Fun times.

I think the discussion in the Collecting group is going well, and that's why I want one each week.

October 27, 2019, to Person A

I was surprised to see a really positive comment about the ND Diaries series recently in the ND Book Fans group from some random fan.  No matter what the version, some people like it.  I personally don't like the scared, self-doubting Nancy in the Diaries series, but I'm glad that there are people who really enjoy those books.  It's good for the brand.

November 1, 2019, to Person F

[Person D] does have a point about the supernatural events, especially since a few people have now commented that they are losing interest because of that aspect.  However, I maintain that most of these people would have lost interest anyway, supernatural or not.  I will just go with whatever craziness happens in the show.  I'm making a weekly event out of watching it, and I hate television.

November 2, 2019, to Person F

The supernatural events don't bother me, although having them is unusual for ND.  Whatever they do, I'm fine.  The characterization of Nancy meets the one requirement that is most important to me:  she is strong and fearless.  The Diaries series bothers me because Nancy calls herself a "wuss" and is scared, nervous, or self-doubting much of the time.  This show doesn't make Nancy weak, so I have no complaints.

November 6, 2019, to Person F

It's been quite a day.  First, [Person R] posted about the sex in the first episode, which he just watched.  He didn't like it.  That post went bad fast.

[Person B] complained about how ND has its own group, blah blah blah.

[Person S] tagged me.  My favorite part was [Person T]'s response of "Mommmm!" and my reply of "Mom has arrived."

I closed comments.  Some hours pass and [Person R] deletes his post.

Then [Person U] posts about the post that was deleted.  That one is still there and you can read it.  I closed comments to it since it was going bad.

Sometime after that, [Person B] had it and flounced out of the group.  

November 21, 2019, to Person F

I am enjoying the show.  I just go with whatever they do.  It doesn't bother me.  The spirits thing was jarring at first, but now I fully embrace that Nancy is surrounded by spirits with weird stuff happening.  I find it fun.

And also, people said that the CW show wouldn't bring in new ND book fans.  The post from today in the ND Book Fans group proves that wrong.


It's funny that the show has almost no sex right now - implied, yes - but Nancy hasn't gotten any action in a while.  Instead, the show has gone full-on supernatural.  That is bothering some people who are still watching.  If most people hadn't ditched after the first show, they'd be ranting about the spirits.

A few months ago, I spent a fairly significant amount of time flipping through the NDGD books until I located where Nancy is arrested for breaking into a business.  It was that important to me to prove that Nancy has been arrested in the books.  This was because of the comments on the Hidden Staircase movie about how Nancy has never picked locks, broken into places, or been arrested.

November 22, 2019, to Person F

I don't like horror films that feature blood, gore, or anything like that.  I have no interest in shows like CSI because I don't want to watch autopsies and yucky stuff.  So far, this show hasn't taken that aspect too far.  The morgue scene was icky, but we didn't see much.  As long as they don't take it further than that, I will be fine.  Even if they do, I'm still going to watch.  I want to see how this plays out.

I find it interesting how many people are bailing because of the supernatural stuff.  And at the start, the problem was the sex.  It turns out that the sex wasn't the real problem after all.

November 25, 2019, to Person A

[Person C] gets on my nerves big time, and he's been doing it for 17 years, at least.  I still haven't forgotten his comments in the Sleuths group in 2002 about the Maggie Lawson pilot.  I responded with my view, and he proceeded to twist my words to support his view. 

I've decided to just skim what he and [Person D] say about the show.  It's unnecessary to repeat the same statements over and over and over...

[Person D] didn't want the show discussed in the group, and I doubt that [Person C] does.  They might be trying to wear me down via the negativity.  I'm not backing down for anything in the world.  I will create a post for every new episode, even if I just discuss the show with myself.

November 25, 2019, to Collecting Group moderators

I'm actually overall okay right now, all things considered.   The group isn't really bothering me.  The [Person O] thing was a problem, but it was just a temporary problem.  

I keep thinking about the CW show and how I KNEW that we could discuss it in the group.  Several people thought I was nuts, [Person D] included.  He kept discouraging me.  I was right!  We CAN discuss the show in a calm fashion.  See?  I knew it!  I'm pretty happy that we can discuss the show, and people can express their varying opinions.  Not everyone likes it, but that's okay!

December 3, 2019, to Person F

This show is not going to ruin ND.  It doesn't even have that good of ratings.  Goodness.  I doubt most people know that the show exists.  I was just told in my blog that I am the [only] reason that they know about the show. 

December 5, 2019, to Person F

In the Collecting group, [Person C] made a comment on the new episode post about being sad that some of us actually like the show.  I made a statement similar to ones that [Person P] has made in the ND group.  

I feel like some people are spoiling for a fight with those of us who enjoy the show.  At the least, they want to convince us not to like it.  It's not going to work.

December 13, 2019, to Person W

I also think [Person C] is hoping to make the discussion posts go away by trying to pick a fight each week.  I told someone else recently that I'm going to keep posting the discussion threads for each new episode regardless of how many people are against me.  I feel like a martyr.  I took a lot of heat for allowing the show to be discussed while not allowing certain people to preach at us about premarital sex.  I'm not backing down for anything in the world.  People can be so immature.

December 13, 2019, to Person P

It is really hard to be fair and not favor some people over others...  I want to allow people to say that they don't like the show, but it is really hard to know when they are going too far.  And I really can't tell people not to be negative, unfortunately.   

And I don't think either you or [Person W] was picking a fight.  I meant that [Person C] seems to be trying to pick one.  My stance is to ignore him. 

December 13, 2019, to Collecting Group moderators

Just letting you know that I'm dealing with the minor fuss in the television show discussion thread.  I'm fine with going it alone on anything with the CW show since I have vowed to do weekly discussions no matter what.  I feel like a martyr. 

December 27, 2019, to Person F

They mostly are behaving.  In the Collecting group, a couple of people have taken offense at the cover of an old Sugar Creek Gang book (Christian themed) with a raccoon cornered in a tree by hunters.  We were informed by [Person V] and someone else that hunting raccoons is against Christianity.  Then someone else pointed out the hunting references in the Bible.  I deleted the comments, which angered [Person V].  How can she think that getting on her soapbox in the group is appropriate?

January 24, 2020, to Person F

And then in the ND Book Fans group earlier today, someone threw out the "real ND" statement, since of course none of the new versions are the real ND.  That's actually a bit offensive.  I loved the most recent ND Diaries book and really enjoy the modern versions, at least when they are written by good writers who know not to have ND scared all the time.  

What I've shared covers the bulk of the early fights about the series.  This shows my thinking and how I doubled down, making the CW ND show discussion the hill that I would die on.

It saddens me that many fans won't allow us to have some happiness in discussing an interesting current project.  Series book fandom won't last for many more years.  I believe that we are currently at the beginning of the end.  It will take some 20 years for it to be over, but that day is coming.  

Why must anything new be trashed into oblivion, even when there is nothing much wrong with it?  Even the 2019 movie with Sophia Lillis was trashed, and that movie was completely wholesome.  Our fandom weakens itself and sucks the joy out of everything.

Even though I initiated discussion of all 62 episodes, little discussion occurred.  I'm confident that most of the people who were watching the show were fearful of commenting in the group.  That is sad.

Friday, August 18, 2023

eBay and Etsy Stores on Hiatus

I deactivated all of my eBay listings a week ago.  Today I deactivated my Etsy listings.  I had hoped to stay open, but having to prepare packages is increasing my stress.

My stress level is very high right now, and I will pay for it.  Today is the ninth day since I went back to work.  I do not yet have severe brain fog and fatigue, but I'm pretty sure that both are imminent.

The left lobe of my thyroid is swollen, and I can tell that the T4 output from my thyroid has decreased.  I have hives that are worsening each day, and my dry lips have increased to a nearly unbearable level.  I am likely in a full flare.  As I mentioned, today is the ninth day since I went back to work.  The brain fog and fatigue typically begin 10 to 14 days after the beginning of the flare.  Since this is day 9, I expect the drop will begin in 1 to 5 days.

I remain ever hopeful that the drop won't be bad and that it will pass quickly.  It is a possibility since I'm no longer on the dreadful NP Thyroid medication that caused a high level of inflammation in my body.  I was still on it one year ago when school started.  

I had one Etsy package to prepare last night, and I found that I did not want to pack it.  I had to force myself to do it, and that was when I decided to end my listings.  At least now I won't have to force myself to package anything.

In the past, people have asked me to let them know when I reopen.  The responsibility shouldn't be placed on me.  The better option is to follow my stores.  

Jennifer's Series Books on eBay

Jennifer's Series Books on Etsy

If you follow me on each site, then you will receive notification when I reopen.  I hope that I can reopen in a few weeks, but more realistically, I will reopen during fall break in the middle of October.  I usually need the first quarter of the school year to fully adjust to my work schedule.

I will remain active on Facebook.  I will also post in this blog periodically when I feel like it.

Wednesday, August 16, 2023

Mistakes Made by Production (CW Nancy Drew and the 2019 Movie)

This post is from March 2020.

Both the 2019 Nancy Drew movie and The CW’s Nancy Drew television series opened with a problematic scene that offended fans.  Neither opening was representative of what followed, but the damage had been done.

For the CW Nancy Drew series, it was the opening sex scene in the very first episode, which was unnecessary and offended right at 100% of Nancy Drew fans.  That scene guaranteed that most Nancy Drew fans would never give the show a chance.  

I saw the 2019 movie, Nancy Drew and the Hidden Staircase, in the theater on the first day of spring break.  I did not want to be spoiled about the content of the movie, so I wanted to see it the very first day that I could.  I was not well that day, due to my thyroid condition and the stress caused by a botched textbook adoption. 

[Note from 2023:  In thinking it over, that day occurred during a time in which I was likely the sickest I have been in the 4 1/2 years from 2019 to the present.  My mental state was poor.]

When I am not well, my mind is impacted significantly.  Particularly, I am impatient, anxious, emotional, and have trouble communicating my thoughts.  I have little tolerance for situations that might not bother me when my levels are fine.  In short, I freak out easily.

I had not been to the theater in years.  I sat through the previews okay, but I now realize that the previews had a length right at the limit of my tolerance that day.

The movie began.  Nancy decides to pull a prank on a bully who bothered Bess.  The prank pushed me past my limit.  The prep for the prank took forever.  It went on and on. I became very stressed and wanted to leave.

I wasn’t going to leave, but I wanted to leave.  I was not surprised to see a couple and their daughter walk out during the prank prep part of the movie.  I wanted to flee.  I was actually getting very anxious.  Finally, the prank was over.

But even then, it took a bit longer for the mystery to begin.

When I watched the movie on DVD weeks later, the prank didn’t bother me.  I felt better at that time, and besides, I was at home and could pause the DVD whenever I wanted. That made a big difference in my perception.

I overall rate the movie as excellent, except for the opening prank.  The prank doesn’t bother me, except for the length of it.

Other fans were deeply offended by the prank, since it isn't "Nancy-like."

The prank is in the movie to show personal growth in the character, but it should have been much shorter so as not to offend the adult audiences who were watching the movie.

This is why I am a bit more understanding of people who act strange than the rest of you are.

That was where I stopped.  My final line gave me pause and initially didn't make sense when I read it last week.  I decided to leave it after I realized what I meant when I originally wrote the post.  I was very off the day I watched the 2019 movie in the theater, so off that I couldn't stand the prank scene.  For that reason, I understand why the couple and their daughter left.  They couldn't stand it, either.  

To most people, their reaction probably would seem odd.  But I understand that sometimes people aren't in a good place mentally and simply cannot stand certain situations that otherwise would be fine if they were fine.  I hope that makes sense.

Monday, August 14, 2023

The Dr. Seuss Controversy and Contemporary Books

This post was written in March 2021.

Certain children's books are considered contemporary.  "Contemporary" means "belonging to or occurring in the present."  If the book is not set in the past, then it is contemporary.  It does not matter when the book was written.  If the text does not place the book in the past, then it is read as a book set in the present.  Understanding this definition is essential to understanding this post.

To a young child, the world just is.  The child doesn't know anything different than the present world.  I think of my earliest awareness of the world outside of my home, my school, and trips to the store with my parents.  My first dim awareness of anything else occurred in 1980.  I do have memories from before 1980, but they were just of my own life.

In 1980, I remember hearing about the 1980 presidential election.  I didn't understand anything about it, really.  I just knew the names, actually just one name.  I liked President Carter a lot.  You know why?  There's only one reason.  In first grade, which would have been the 1978-1979 school year, my teacher had us write letters to the White House.  A couple months later, the White House sent our class a stack of brochures about President Carter.  Oh, how I loved that beautiful, glossy brochure!  I was so impressed by the pictures.  I read all about President Carter.  That formed such a strong impression on me.

I knew nothing about his politics or whether he was a good president.  I just knew that I liked him because of that brochure.  I didn't understand why everyone was voting for Reagan.  I knew that President Carter was a man to be admired, just because of the brochure.

Children are quite impressionable.  Images and presentation do matter.

Let's go back to the discussion of contemporary books.  Nancy Drew is contemporary.  No, she is.  The books currently in print are set in the present.  The Grosset and Dunlap books were written in the past, but there is nothing in them that screams of a certain era.  That's because the books were revised.

If the Nancy Drew books had not been revised, they might have gone out of print a long time ago.  The revisions were important to the continuing viability of the franchise.  While true that the revised stories tend not to be as good, the revisions removed most everything that heavily dated the stories.  In particular, the revisions removed some negative racial and ethnic stereotypes.

When children are presented with picture books by their parents, the picture books are considered contemporary.  It little matters when the book was first published.  It's contemporary.  This is why some Dr. Seuss books are problematic.

One line in an article in The Atlantic resonates with me:

"The issue matters because the images children see and the words they hear are small but important parts of the person they eventually become."

I have a story I could tell about my early life as an infant and how something I don't even remember had a significant impact on me and formed one of my major interests.

That's why it does matter.

Now, I am completely against censorship and banning of books.  However, I don't have a problem with the rights holder of Dr. Seuss pulling some books from publication.  That's their prerogative.  I vehemently disagree with the reaction of sites like eBay and Amazon, which have banned sales of those old Dr. Seuss books.  There's nothing wrong with selling an old book, even if it has problematic content. 

The idea is not to be selling potentially racist content in a new book that is seen as contemporary.  The books should remain available in the secondhand market.


That was all that I wrote.  I wanted to write more, but I wasn't sure where I was going with it.  Now, I can't remember what I was going to write. 

While I'm strongly against book bans, I do feel that we need to be careful with what we put in front of impressionable young children.  Books with problematic content could reinforce racial stereotypes if parents do not teach their children what is wrong with the content of the books.

I also feel that revisions of children's books are necessary under certain circumstances.  Those who want the original stories can purchase used copies.  I learned not too long ago that the book Are You There God? It's Me Margaret. was finally revised in the late 1990s to remove mention of the sanitary belt. 

I was so confused when I read that book in around 1980.  The archaic belt thing was bizarre, and to think that it was kept in a contemporary book until the late 1990s is amazing.  I'm glad it was finally revised so that girls reading it are no longer confused like at least two generations of readers were.

Revisions can be necessary, and I'm glad that approach was taken with Nancy Drew instead of removing the books from publication.  With Dr. Seuss, discontinuing certain books is probably a better approach, since revising the Dr. Seuss books after so many years seems somehow wrong.  

Saturday, August 12, 2023

Relationships Ruined by Judgmental Collectors

I was disappointed when several collectors made judgmental statements about those of us who watched the CW Nancy Drew television series.  We were criticized for enjoying the Easter eggs.  Some people said that the story arc of the first season was extremely obvious and that we were foolish for falling for it.  Huh?

Let's talk about behavior in the series book groups that no one questions.  Collectors often bring up the names of books that they are reading and will remark with sheer joy about how a series book character like Nancy Drew or Trixie Belden is mentioned on a certain page.  The book that mentions the series book character is not a children's book or anything remotely like a series book.  And yet, other members will jump on the post and say that they are going to buy that book and read it.  Everyone is enthusiastic and happy.

For someone like me, a name appearing in a book will not cause me to want to read it.  When the book is a work of fiction aimed at adults, I would never consider reading it just because Nancy Drew is mentioned on page 157.  Other people do decide to read the book for just that reason, but I assume that the book is something that would also be of interest to those people.

Consider what I just stated and think about it.  These people seem to decide to read the book just because of the Easter egg, but they more likely will read the book because the Easter egg brought a book of interest to their attention.  They know that they will like this book that had previously escaped their notice.

I would never make a disparaging remark aimed at these people.  Why?  I get it.  I can see how bringing the book to their attention would spark their interest.  It makes no difference whether the book would interest me, and their interest in the book is not my concern.

Now, let's get back to the collectors who criticized those of us who watched CW ND.  Paraphrasing from memory, these collectors said that we were only watching the show for the Easter eggs and that it was silly that we were excited about finding the Easter eggs. 

I cannot express how much these statements personally offended me.  I was disappointed to read the critical statements.  Some of these people just weren't thinking of how their comments came across, and I can give them a pass.  I have lingering resentment towards a few other collectors whose comments took on a tone that came across as especially insulting.

I did not watch the show only for the Easter eggs.  That should be clear based on what I have already revealed in this post.  When group members mention a work of fiction that contains a mention of Nancy Drew, I do not go out and buy it.  I'm not going to read a book or watch a television show solely because of Easter eggs.  

I read books and watch shows that are within my area of interest regardless of whether Easter eggs are present.  Any Easter eggs are just an added bonus.

One type of show that I enjoy features young people (children up to early 20s) who are involved in events that have some paranormal or supernatural content.  I am a big fan of Friday the 13th: The Series.  To be clear, this is the television series featuring Micki, Ryan, Jack, and later Johnny, who recover cursed antiques sold by Louis Vendredi, who had made a deal with the devil.  The series shares the same name as the movie franchise with Jason Voorhees, but otherwise, it has nothing to do with it.

So, I like shows like that.  I also have enjoyed Wednesday on Netflix, for instance.

In my case, the CW ND show turned out to be exactly the kind of show that I enjoy watching.  I would never have been aware of it if not for its use of the name Nancy Drew.  I should not have had to read the judgmental statements about how people like me were supposedly only watching the show for the Easter eggs and that we were stupid for doing so.  I did not understand why prominent collectors were letting the existence of this show ruin their relationships with other fans. 

And yes, some series book collector friendships have been ruined because of the squabbling about the CW ND series.  While I didn't lose any friendships, I am now quite uncomfortable around several collectors.  I also have lingering resentment over how I was treated as a group moderator during the fall of 2019.  

I do understand these people not liking the show.  Stating their opinion was fine.  Making insulting, judgmental statements about viewers of the series was not fine.  They crossed a line when they did that.

I am combining two draft posts here.  The other part has to do with how the CW ND show has benefitted me.  Yes, I'm serious.

I watch very little television and practically never watch movies.  Because of CW ND, I have watched a few other things that I've really enjoyed.  The show Cruel Summer was recommended as a show that CW ND fans might like.  It's quite different from CW ND, but I love the teen characters and the mystery/suspense involved.  I would have never watched it if not for reading comments about CW ND.

I am now more inclined to check media based on children's and teen books, and it's because of this show.  I watched The Baby-Sitters Club on Netflix and loved it.  I have only read a few Baby-Sitters Club books and am not a fan of the book series.  But my rudimentary knowledge greatly enhanced my enjoyment of the show. 

I watched the Netflix movie trilogy based on R. L. Stine's Fear Street books.  I dislike Stine's writing style, so I'm not a fan of the books at all.  However, I enjoyed the trilogy a lot even though it does have some gruesome kills that are not to my taste.  

I have also been introduced to modern music via these shows that I never otherwise would have heard.  

The CW ND viewing experience has been very positive for me, and I wish that other people didn't feel the need to tear us down for watching the show. 

We are allowed to watch frivolous modern entertainment that is completely different from the book series.

Friday, August 11, 2023

eBay and Etsy Stores Back to School Update

I previously stated my intent to keep my eBay and Etsy stores open during the start of the school year.  In my last post, I wrote:

I'm already having an increase in symptoms, including some distinct memory problems.  The memory problems will worsen when I go back to work.

So... the plan is to keep the stores open.  If I end up too impaired, then I will shut down without warning.  We'll see how it goes.

The symptoms that I was already experiencing were due to my latest medication change.  Since my body is already in flux from the medication, this puts me in a weakened state where a flare can come on much more easily.

I went back to work yesterday, and some noticeable inflammatory skin reactions had begun by the time I got home.  My lips were irritated by yesterday afternoon.  This morning my scalp hurts.  The skin reactions indicate that a new autoimmune flare is in progress, and that the flare is likely strong.

Feeling my neck, I can tell that the swelling in the left lobe of my thyroid has increased in the last 24 hours.

I feel okay, other than the back-to-work adjustment that everyone feels.  The trouble comes in 7 to 14 days.  There is always a delayed reaction where increased fatigue and significant mental impairment hit me in the couple weeks after a flare.  And I already have mental impairment from the medication change.

I have been mulling over what to do since last night.  As of right now, I expect to close my eBay store tomorrow morning.  eBay is the site with the more rigid expectations, so that will remove some stress.  Also, I don't have that many sales anyway.

I will try to hang on to Etsy and keep it open.  The main reason is because I pay for each listing.  It's kind of silly, though, because I pay a monthly subscription to eBay.  However, I'm locked into the monthly subscription, since I get a lower rate when I renew by the year.  eBay has more sales, so it's more worth the cost.  That's why I feel like I should stay open on Etsy if possible just because I get less for the cost.

As of right now, Etsy will remain open for at least one more week, but I could deactivate the listings at any time if I find it necessary.  

If you want to buy something on eBay, you should do it today.  If there's something you want on Etsy in the near future, it would be a good idea to get it purchased just in case.

Jennifer's Series Books on eBay

Jennifer's Series Books on Etsy

Keep in mind that how I feel this afternoon could cause me to decide to close Etsy by tomorrow morning.

Remember that if you have a health condition, whether it's autoimmunity or some other chronic condition, you should feel no shame in not being able to do everything that you would have done years ago.  Each of us must be content do what we can.  Be kind to yourself.

Thursday, August 10, 2023

Collector Negativity and Criticism of Other Collectors

This post was written in December 2022.

Many collectors come across as quite negative when they post online.  Even collectors who are generally positive make negative comments at times.  We've all been negative at one time or another, and I must begin by saying that I have certainly been guilty of that.  I try not to do it these days, since it is detrimental to our hobby. 

I am concerned that the ongoing negativity has already driven many collectors away.  I know for a fact that the negativity has reduced participation in the groups.  I know this because of comments made to me via private messages.

1.  I am aware that some people never post in the groups because they are intimidated by certain people.

2.  I am aware of proposed projects that were canned because of negativity. 

3.  The bullying that began on the old Applewood message board and in the newsgroup in the late 1990s continues (click here for more information), although it usually occurs outside of the groups.  I saw evidence of this bullying in my Facebook newsfeed as recently as October 2022.  They still haven't stopped, and they do drive others away.

Let's cover some of the different forms that the negativity can take.

Making Fun of Cover Art and Illustrations

Collectors often poke fun at cover art and illustrations, but sometimes this is taken too far with little concern for how others feel.  Around 20 years ago, the cover art of a certain Judy Bolton book was ruined for me because a few other collectors went into great detail explaining what was wrong about how the illustration was painted.  I see their comments every time I look at the jacket, and I used to love that jacket.  I still like the jacket, but I would have preferred not to have had the flaws pointed out. 

Altered book covers can also ruin our enjoyment of the original cover art.  I can think of one altered cover that is captioned in such a way that it points out what is wrong with the cover art, therefore ruining it forever.  That one is a Hardy Boys book that I will never see the same again.  The altered art is amusing, but it ruins the cover forever.

A certain Nancy Drew book has been used by all the crafters on Etsy and elsewhere.  It has a caption about Nancy burying her last f***.  I hate seeing that statement placed on a Nancy Drew cover.  I am beginning not to like the actual cover art of that Nancy Drew book.  What a shame.

Being Negative or Contrary 

I had what I thought was a happy post about colored illustrations.  I was surprised that the responses were rather negative.

People said that the book was ruined.  Robin Kane books aren't worth more than a few dollars, and the coloring is so nice that it adds to the value of the book.  Trust me on this.  I've kept the book because I like the coloring, and I don't collect Robin Kane.  I have no doubt that I could sell the book easily.  People need to lighten up.

Also, someone might joyfully report on a find and mention how nice the book is, using a word like "excellent" or "pristine."  Often, someone will correct them, telling them that the descriptor they used isn't correct, that the book is in worse condition.  That's just rude.

Qualifying One's Positive Statements

I see this very often.  Someone will remark that they like certain more modern Nancy Drew books, but then they immediately add that they like the original text books better.  Or they might say that they like the cover art of a later picture cover edition, but then quickly add that they like the Tandy art better.  It's actually okay to like both.  Liking one doesn't take away from the other.  Why qualify the statement?

Making Insulting Statements About Other Collectors' Purchases

This has happened to me lots of times.  I've been told something to the effect of "I'd never pay that much for..."  So?  They didn't; I did.  It's my money, and I can spend it how I want.  Saying that they'd never pay that much is an insult.

I've been told that what I paid for something was more than someone's car payment.  What does their car payment have to do with what I paid for something?  Exactly nothing.  Again, insult.

I was criticized for some of my first printing Nancy Drew purchases.  My top goal was to get all 38 books in first printing books matched with first printing jackets, a goal that I finally reached in early 2019.  Very few collectors have achieved this goal.  The last I heard, the number of fans who have succeeded is fewer than five.

I purchased the first printing books and jackets however I could.  I was willing to accept less-than-perfect condition since owning all 38 was very important to me.  I purchased some books that had water damage in order to get the jackets.  The books could be upgraded.  

Nancy Drew 1st Printing Auctions Part 3

In the above post, you can see a badly water-damaged first printing of Hidden Staircase that had a first printing jacket with a water stain on the spine.  I purchased that book, and I was told that my purchase was foolish.  I matched the jacket with another book, shown in the below post.

Nancy Drew First Printing Auctions Part 4

More than one very prominent Nancy Drew collector expressed skepticism about my purchasing decisions.  Some thought that any mold or mildew from the jacket would pass to the book and on to others.  Apparently, this can happen.  But did it?

If you looked at my "Part 4" post, you saw what my Hidden Staircase book looked like 12 years ago when newly paired with the water-stained jacket.  Here is what it looks like now.

Huh.  It doesn't seem to have changed.  Of course the condition of the book and jacket aren't perfect, but the first four Nancy Drew books in first printing books/first printing jackets are extremely scarce, if you haven't noticed.  Why insult me over the condition of my copy?  I'm proud of it.

I've been told that my library editions are nice but that others would only collect them if they weren’t library discards and were in extremely nice shape.  These comments weren't intended to be insults, but they irked me a bit.  I couldn't help how I felt, even though no slight was intended.  I was left feeling like my treasures, my beloved library editions, just aren't good enough for most collectors because they are library discards and have wear.  It's best just to tell me that the library editions are nice and leave off the rest of the statement.   

Pointing Out High Prices and Making Fun of Them

We've all done this but mainly on listings that are truly overpriced and will never sell.  It's a bit different when something sold for a high price, people are laughing about it, and you're the buyer.

In 2018, several sellers listed Japanese series books on eBay at fairly high prices.  I purchased many of them.  I was glad that the prices were a bit high, because I had very little competition.  Otherwise, I would have missed out.

People made fun of the prices, which irritated me.  I wrote, "One person even posted a laughing emoji about the prices.  Seeing someone make fun of the prices of books that I was buying was rather annoying."  I added, "When the books were mentioned on Facebook, some people questioned why the prices were so high.  Some thought that it would be better to go to Japan and find the books.  Assuming that the books could be found, one still has to pay airfare, lodging, and transportation.  The books would not be cheap once the other costs were factored in."

Recently, I paid a lot of money for a book.  In one of the groups, the auction was mentioned.  Someone posted a laughing emoji with a short remark about Nancy Drew collectors.  Now that some time has passed, I have realized that no insult was intended, but I felt quite insulted at the time.  People often type short statements with little thought about how they might be taken.  It's easy for someone else to take offense when the statement is too short without enough explanation of the meaning.  We all need to be careful that we are clear about what we mean.

Taking Advantage of Other Collectors

Over the years, a number of people have taken advantage of me or attempted to do so.  Regarding the book mentioned immediately above, I avoided posting about my purchase online due to the laughing emoji plus another comment seen on Facebook.  Someone was hoping to get a copy of the dust jacket.  I'm not interested in doing that. 

First and foremost, it's too much trouble.  I have printed color copy jackets in the past, and it's often not easy to get the colors to reproduce how they should.  The process is a lot of trouble for little monetary return. 

Second, I don't feel that it is right to expect me to copy a dust jacket of a book that was quite expensive.  I can't charge much for a copy dust jacket.  I shouldn't charge more than the cost of the paper, ink, and postage.  I am not going to make someone a copy of something for which I paid at least 20 times more than what they will pay for a copy dust jacket. 

I felt a bit put out and offended about the situation, and it took away a bit of my joy in that acquisition.  It really did.  Worst of all, I couldn't reveal the purchase.  Of course I could just say "no," but collectors expect other collectors to help them out.  I just won't ever talk about that book.  I'm hoping that the other one that later came up for sale went to that person.

Tuesday, August 8, 2023

Toxicity Towards Harriet Stratemeyer Adams

This post was written in September 2022.  I softened the title (Seriously, I did!) and some of the phrasing so that I don't get into too much hot water.  Even so, I'm prepared for possible attacks.  People who hate Harriet Adams are combative with those of us who defend her.


In August [2022], a post was made in the Nancy Drew Book Fans group about how unfortunate it is that some fans pit Mildred Wirt Benson and Harriet Adams against each other.  More specifically, these toxic fans hate Harriet Adams with every fiber of their being and cannot stand anyone suggesting that Harriet ever did anything right.

Most of the people who responded to the post were reasonable.  One person took the opportunity to bash the Nancy Drew television series on The CW.  That person first said that "we can all agree" that the original text Nancy Drew books are the best ones.  They also said that the television series is "garbage."

First, I disagree with the blanket statement that the original text Nancy Drew books are the best in all cases.  Many of them are the best, but not all of them, at least not for all fans.  I don't like the original text Shadow Ranch or Broken Locket.  I like the revised text stories better for those titles.

Second, it's okay not to like the current television series, but calling it "garbage" is toxic.  Just say that you don't like it.  You can say why you don't like it.  Your opinion is 100% valid, because it is how you feel.  But using a word like "garbage" immediately angers the people who like the show and causes them to disregard your opinion.  That's not what you want.

By the way, another toxic word that has been used to describe the Nancy Drew revised text books is "abomination."  That's going a bit far and is quite offensive to those of us who enjoy many of those books.

I responded to the post about Harriet Adams and Mildred Wirt Benson, since I take every opportunity I can to defend Harriet Adams.  I feel like she needs to be defended, since so many people hate her.

I admire both women, and they cannot be compared.  Their contributions were tremendous and completely different from each other.  Mildred's writing is incomparable (aside from Walter Karig's excellent three books), but Harriet ran the Stratemeyer Syndicate for 50 years when women didn't run companies.

I have made fun of Harriet's writing (like when the Dana Girls leap into the air like giant grasshoppers), but I admire her so very much.  It saddens me that so many people cannot look past her statements to the press during the 1970s.  How sad that a very successful woman's life is judged solely by a few comments that she made.

Yes, Harriet didn't tell the truth.  In a perfect world, she would have.  This isn't a perfect world, and sometimes people say things that we wish they hadn't.  Harriet thought that hiding the ghostwriters' existence was best for her company's legacy.  She couldn't know how people would feel decades later.

I lean towards being Team Harriet, and I take any chance I can to defend her.  She kept Nancy Drew going all those many years.  If Harriet hadn't taken over the Syndicate and kept it going, Nancy Drew would have faded into oblivion right after her initial release.  If Nancy had disappeared, I would have never read the revised text yellow spine books in the late 1970s and early 1980s.  I would have never known of Nancy Drew.  Thank you, Harriet, for keeping Nancy Drew alive.

I did get 18 likes, so some people agreed.  Separately in the comments section, the bashing of Harriet ensued.  One person wrote that Harriet took credit for work that Mildred did.  I made this response. 

Harriet's company did own the rights to the stories outright, so they could claim whatever they wanted.  While I don't like reading the statements that Harriet made in the 1970s, my take is that she was doing what she thought was best.  I believe that Harriet thought that the best way to protect her family's legacy was to pretend that the ghostwriters did not exist.

This person then responded that I and another commenter were giving Harriet too much credit.  They related the story about how Harriet was surprised to see Mildred at the Grosset and Dunlap trial.  Harriet allegedly told Mildred, "I thought you were dead."  This person then read meaning into what Harriet said, saying that Harriet thought that she could get away with claiming to be the author since she thought Mildred was dead.

If Harriet thought that Mildred was dead prior to seeing her at the trial, she sure didn't just a few years before during the time that she made the false statements to the media.  Mildred made contact with the Stratemeyer Syndicate during the late 1970s regarding the Nancy Drew television series.  So, Harriet knew very well that Mildred was alive in the late 1970s.  Aside from that...

Harriet was 89 years old and out of her gourd.  Harriet's final story, The Secret in the Old Lace from 1980, had to be rewritten from start to finish by Nancy Axelrad after its rejection by Simon & Schuster.

In the comment thread in the group, I made one more attempt:  

Harriet's mind had deteriorated by the time of the trial.  I know this to be true because her writing had deteriorated by the time of the last few books that she wrote.  There is a real difference in Harriet's final books as compared to the ones from five or more years before.  Harriet's final book, Old Lace, had to be rewritten completely by Nancy Axelrad since it was unusable.  Harriet wrote that book around the time of the trial.  Harriet wasn't all there mentally, and that's why she made such a rude comment to Mildred.

And of course, the other person wouldn't let it rest and told me that I was wrong.  I was told that Harriet lied about the authorship.  I was told that I could spin it all I want, but "a lie is a lie."

I've been mulling this over ever since. 

Gosh, how wonderful for some people that they have never made a mistake and never done anything less than perfect.  They can be the judge and jury for the rest of us.

It's a shame that Harriet Adams has been vilified in the collecting community.

Look, Harriet lied.  I admit that.  I don't usually use that word, because it's too negative, too toxic.  

In the late 1800s, author Horatio Alger wrote a large number of "rags-to-riches" books about young boys who succeed through hard work and perseverance.  Horatio Alger's books were the predecessors to the output of the Stratemeyer Syndicate.  In fact, Edward Stratemeyer read Alger's books when young and was inspired to write his own books.  

During his life, Horatio Alger was accused of molesting young boys.  He was forced to resign as minister of a church after the allegations surfaced.  While we have no proof of whether the molestation actually occurred, the accusations sound credible. 

Come on, people.  If you're going to vilify a series book author, then Alger is the one to pick.  Instead, we vilify Harriet Adams for lying when Alger allegedly molested young boys.  Which is worse?  Lying or molesting children?  I hope your answer is molesting children.  In the series book groups, Harriet's sin of lying is apparently the most despicable act that a human can possibly commit. 

Horatio Alger and the 100-Year-Old Guilty Secret

Horatio Alger Entry in The New Encyclopedia of American Scandal

And yes, lying is bad, but I'm just saying that it's not the very worst sin that a person can commit.  We need to keep this in perspective and not blow it out of proportion.

The problem with Harriet Adams is that she did something so public that everyone knows about it, and many collectors just can't see past it.  I am able to see past it, so I will continue to stand up for her. 

Harriet Adams was flawed, but I admire her for her huge contribution to the lasting legacy of series books.  Sometimes we have to look past the flaws and accept that someone's lifetime contributions are worthy of being acknowledged.

Sunday, August 6, 2023

Simon & Schuster's Problem with Nancy Drew and What to Do About It

The bulk of this post was written in February 2023 and was never finished.  I found it as I went through old draft posts, so I finished it up well enough to publish.  Here it is.


Fans are often asked about the Nancy Drew Diaries series.  They wonder whether the series is aimed at younger children because Nancy looks so young on the covers.  They also wonder how good the series is and what previous Nancy Drew series it is most like. 

These questions are not easy to answer.  The best answer that can be given is to suggest that a couple books could be read to see what they are like.  Even that won't tell the entire story.

The Nancy Drew Diaries series is like none of the previous Nancy Drew series.  The series is highly inconsistent, making it impossible to compare to previous versions.  Also, the Nancy Drew Diaries series is a watered-down version of Nancy Drew.  The stories are sometimes bland and boring; other times, they are bizarre.  The series is wildly uneven with Nancy acting significantly out of character in some books. It depends on who the ghost writer was for each book.  There is little oversight by S&S on these books.

I briefly looked at one of the Nancy Drew Notebooks stories to see how they read.  This passage is from pages 2 and 3 of Nancy Drew Notebooks #63 The Snowman's Surprise

When the girls reached the park, Nancy thought it looked beautiful all covered with snow.  The trees were covered with snow.  The benches were covered with snow.  Even the swing sets were covered with snow.  Nancy liked the way the snow crunched under their feet and the way the cold air made their cheeks tingle.  She loved winter!  She especially loved winter vacation, when they could just play and not have to go to school.

The above text is obviously for young children.  The text is repetitive to help children learn to read.  Nancy Drew likes to play in the Notebooks series, while in the Diaries series she drives a car.  The Nancy Drew Diaries covers make Nancy look rather young, but she is an older teenager.  I am mystified as to why Nancy looks so young on the Diaries books.

It's become difficult to understand exactly what Simon & Schuster is doing with the franchise.

This is the opening of Nancy Drew Diaries #24 Captain Stone's Revenge:

The airplane made a wide turn as it descended through the clouds toward Burlington International Airport.  I pressed my face against the small oval window.  All at once, I could see green hills, fields dotted with farms, and our ultimate destination: the clear blue waters of Lake Champlain.

"We're almost there!" I said.  It was my first trip to Vermont, one of the smallest and least populated states in the country.  I couldn't wait to explore, try the world-famous maple syrup, and of course, go sailing at my friend Megan's new club and resort!

"Thank goodness!" George grumbled behind me.  Our small commercial jet's seats were grouped in twos.  George had taken the seat behind me and Bess.  She was using the empty space next to her to stash her computer, e-reader, and cell phone.

"Motion sickness?" Bess asked, dabbing on fresh lip gloss in preparation for landing.

"No, my e-reader is about to run out of charge!" George said with a groan.  "And I'm right in the middle of a really good book!  What sort of airplane doesn't have power outlets?"

"Maybe the kind that's built to fly, not charge all your equipment?  I mean, I know which one I'd prefer," I teased.  George gave my seat a little nudge and we laughed.

Bess put the cap on her lip gloss and dropped it into her navy-blue purse.  As usual, her outfit was perfectly themed for our destination.  She wore a blue-and-white-striped shirt with a sailboat crest on the front, white linen pants, and a pair of navy Top-Siders.  Her cousin George, on the other hand, was outfitted in cargo pants with enough pockets to hold all her electronics.  (I don't even want to talk about how long it took us to get through security back in River Heights!)

The intercom dinged and the captain came on. "Hello, passengers," she said in a smooth voice. "We're making our final descent into Burlington, where skies are clear and the temperature is seventy-five degrees on this beautiful June day.  In preparation for landing, please return your seat backs and tray tables to their upright positions.  We'll be on the ground shortly!"

I folded the Sudoku puzzle I'd been working on, tucked it away, and clicked my tray table back into place.  I sat up straight. The plane took a sharp turn and descended quickly, angling toward the runway. In a matter of minutes, the wheels touched down with a thump. We lurched forward in our seats as the plane slowed.  I pulled out my phone and switched it off airplane mode.  A text notification immediately filled the screen.  It was from Megan.

Nancy!  I'm so sorry, but I'll be late picking you up.  Had a little accident this morning. Nothing major!  Will explain when I get there.  Can't wait to see you all!

Poor Megan!  I wondered what happened.  I told Bess and George about the delay, then quickly texted Megan back to let her know it was no problem, of course, and we hoped everything was okay.  I never minded having a little time to explore, anyway.  There's always something new to see and learn, wherever you go.

The opening to Captain Stone's Revenge is okay, but I don't like it.  I have been trying to figure out how to articulate exactly what the problem is.  It bores me, mainly.  But why?  I think the problem is all of the mundane details.  The introduction is not interesting.

Let's compare that opening to the opening of one of the Nancy Drew Digests.  I selected #125 The Teen Model Mystery.  I wanted a title well into the run of the digests but not from the very end of the series.  I also selected a story that is good but not one that could be considered excellent.  The book is just an average title in the set.

Nancy Drew paused at the curb, waiting for the light to change.  A stiff breeze off nearby Lake Michigan whipped a few strands of her reddish blond hair across her face.  Just a few blocks away, the skyscrapers of downtown Chicago gleamed in the morning light.

Nancy's friend Bess Marvin suddenly grabbed her arm.  "Look, Nancy, there's Cindy!" she exclaimed. "There, on that billboard."

Nancy followed Bess's pointing finger.  Across the street, mounted on the roof of a six-story brick building, was a big poster advertising a sale at a local department store.  A tall, slim girl with honey blond hair was shown dashing happily across a street, carrying several shopping bags.

It was their friend Cindy Sunderland, a River Heights girl who had recently moved to Chicago to pursue a career in modeling.  With its high cheekbones, tip-tilted nose, and dazzling sky blue eyes, Cindy's face was unmistakable.  No wonder she was fast becoming one of the hottest teen models around.

"Isn't she terrific?" Bess added.  "Just looking at her picture makes me want to go catch that sale."

Nancy laughed.  "Come on, Bess," she said.  "You've never seen a sale you didn't like."

Bess flushed.  "Well, maybe you're right," she admitted.  "But Cindy's picture does make that ad stand out.  I just know she's going to be the next big supermodel.  And it's so cool that she asked us to come watch her film this commercial—especially considering that we've only met her a few times."

Nancy giggled.  "She could hardly not invite us, you dropped so many hints when we saw her last month," she reminded her friend.  "But I think she wanted a little moral support, too.  From what she said, it's a really big break in her career—to move up from ad photos and fashion shows to TV commercials.  It could lead to an acting career someday.  I bet she's pretty nervous."

Bess nodded.  "It's too bad George had to go on a trip with her family this week.  She would have loved to come along."  George Fayne, Bess's cousin, was the third member of this trio of best friends.

The light changed.  As they started across the street, Bess looked around at the run-down buildings.  "Nancy, are you sure we're in the right place? she asked nervously.  She flinched as an elevated train rattle past the next intersection.  "Nothing around here looks like a movie studio."

Nancy grinned.  "This won't be that kind of studio, silly," she corrected Bess.  "Cindy is making a commercial, not a feature film.  Come on, the building must be on the next block."

The address Cindy had given them turned out to be that of a solid-looking brick building with wide-arched windows on the street level.  Over the entrance a craved stone panel bore the name MacAllister's Stores.  Elaborately sculpted vines and flower would through the old-fashioned lettering.

I like this much better!  Looking at this text as compared to the Diaries text, I can begin to articulate what the problem is.

Changing the books to first person narrative was a mistake.  We are reading about Nancy Drew (said with a lilt), not I.  The first-person narrative is even worse in the Hardy Boys Adventures, since it's often hard to tell which brother is narrating.  At least the first-person narrative is passable in the Nancy Drew Diaries series.

When I read a Nancy Drew book, I want to read about Nancy Drew.  I don't want to read "I" over and over.  I want to delight in that beloved name.  It's important to see the name Nancy Drew on the first page of the story.

The Nancy Drew Diaries have moved away from the essence of Nancy Drew.  Oh, it's there at times, sure, but we can appreciate our reading experience much better when we see the name.  Yes, it does matter.

I have been reading John Benton's teen books.  Each book features a different protagonist, but all of the books are in first person.  I don't mind the first person, but I find that I can't remember anything about any of the books when looking at the titles.  The character's name never imprints on my memory since I see "I" all through the book.  I have to look at a summary in order to remember anything.

Making Nancy Drew first person watered down the character.

This is what S&S needs to do.

1.  Drop the first-person narrative and return to the story of Nancy Drew

2.  Make Nancy look more like a teenager on the covers. 

3.  Include Nancy's best friends on some of the covers (Thanks to Todd for mentioning that Nancy's friends are no longer on the covers). 

4.  Come up with more creative plots that are not just sabotage.  It's quite easy to come up with good plots.  Just take ideas from the old Nancy Drew books.  Use one of the old stories to inspire a new plot.  Change it up some.  Or use artificial intelligence to do it!  

I have thought this through.  Since the folks at S&S and their ghostwriters are unable to think of anything except for bland sabotage stories, it's time to use a computer to do it.  I experimented with ChatGPT and asked it to write me a Nancy Drew story.  It came back with what would work well for a publisher's summary.  A ghostwriter could flesh it out into a great story, something much better than what is coming out of the franchise. 

Follow this link to see what ChatGPT gave me.

Nancy Drew Plots Created by Artificial Intelligence

I have stated what S&S should do to make Nancy Drew better.  Now, I have a specific proposal. 

For the 100th anniversary (or please even sooner, Nancy Drew needs help!!!), S&S should relaunch Nancy Drew in third person dialogue.  The books would hearken back to the digest series in style.  The digests are so much better.  

If the series is relaunched, then it needs a new title.  It has to be something different.  The new series would start over with #1 like how Girl Detective started with #1.  Using "Classic Nancy Drew" might be problematic due to the legal agreement, so that might not work.  They could call it "Detective Nancy Drew" and start with #1.  Or maybe "Nancy Drew, Girl Sleuth."  Just something with a different name from all previous incarnations to make it a new series but use the text and story style of the digests

I want to say that the series should be made more young adult, but I fear that would include romance.  I don't want romance in a Nancy Drew book.  I'd rather see Nancy look like an older teen on the covers with stories that are more detailed.  That would be enough.

That's what I wrote in February, finished up and edited to be more cohesive.  Someone put a bug in S&S's ear.  Nancy Drew needs help!

Saturday, August 5, 2023

Nancy Drew Plots Created by Artificial Intelligence

I'm going through old draft blog posts and am getting some of them finished up.  Since this one is relevant to another one I'm finishing up, it must go up first.

Back in February, I had this idea that Simon & Schuster could come up with better Nancy Drew Diaries plots by using a chat bot.  This is not a joke.  It sounds like a joke, but the Nancy Drew plots currently being used by S&S are completely pathetic.  Sadly, artificial intelligence can create more interesting plots than the people actually creating the plots at S&S.

I gave ChatGPT some prompts.  Here are some prompts in bold followed by what ChatGPT gave me.  ChatGPT gave me what are really just plot outlines, but they could be fleshed out into something great by a good ghostwriter.  

Write a mystery with Nancy Drew investigating a mystery at a library.

Nancy Drew was a young and talented detective who was known for her sharp mind and her ability to solve complex cases.  One day, she received a call from her friend, Bess, who told her about a strange mystery at the River Heights Library.  Apparently, the library's valuable collection of rare books had been disappearing one by one, and no one seemed to know how.

Nancy was intrigued by this case and decided to pay a visit to the library to see if she could help.  When she arrived, she met with the librarian, Mrs. Stevens, who was visibly upset.  Mrs. Stevens told Nancy that the library had recently acquired a valuable collection of rare books, but they had started disappearing a few days ago, and they had no idea who could be behind it.

Nancy started her investigation by talking to the library staff and asking questions about the missing books.  She learned that the books had been taken at night, when the library was closed.  This made Nancy suspicious, as it suggested that the culprit was someone who had access to the library after hours.

Nancy also took a closer look at the library's security system and found that there was a small gap in the cameras' coverage that would allow someone to enter the library without being seen.  She decided to stake out the library that night to see if she could catch the thief in the act.

As Nancy waited in the shadows, she saw a shadowy figure enter the library through the gap in the cameras.  She quickly followed the figure and found herself face to face with the library's janitor, Mr. Green.  Mr. Green was holding a rare book in his hand and appeared to be very nervous.

Nancy confronted Mr. Green, who admitted to stealing the books because he needed the money to pay for his daughter's medical treatment.  He told Nancy that he had planned to return the books after he had the money, but he couldn't bear the thought of going to jail.

Nancy understood Mr. Green's situation, and she decided to help him instead of turning him in to the police.  She worked with Mrs. Stevens to find a way to help Mr. Green get the money he needed, and in the end, he was able to pay for his daughter's treatment and return the stolen books to the library.

Nancy had solved another mystery, and she was proud of the work she had done to help someone in need.  The River Heights Library was once again a safe place for rare books, and the town was grateful for Nancy's help.

I then asked ChatGPT to add dialogue to the River Heights Library plot.  This is what I was given.

Nancy Drew was a young and talented detective who was known for her sharp mind and her ability to solve complex cases.  One day, she received a call from her friend, Bess, who told her about a strange mystery at the River Heights Library.  Apparently, the library's valuable collection of rare books had been disappearing one by one, and no one seemed to know how.

Nancy was intrigued by this case and decided to pay a visit to the library to see if she could help.  When she arrived, she met with the librarian, Mrs. Stevens, who was visibly upset.

"Nancy, I'm so glad you're here," Mrs. Stevens said, her voice shaking.  "We have a problem.  The rare books in our collection have been disappearing, and we don't know how."

Nancy was shocked.  "Do you have any leads on who might be behind this?" she asked.

"No, we don't," Mrs. Stevens replied.  "We've checked the security footage, but we can't see anything.  It's as if the books just disappeared into thin air."

Nancy started her investigation by talking to the library staff and asking questions about the missing books.  She learned that the books had been taken at night, when the library was closed.  This made Nancy suspicious, as it suggested that the culprit was someone who had access to the library after hours.

Nancy also took a closer look at the library's security system and found that there was a small gap in the cameras' coverage that would allow someone to enter the library without being seen.  She decided to stake out the library that night to see if she could catch the thief in the act.

As Nancy waited in the shadows, she saw a shadowy figure enter the library through the gap in the cameras.  She quickly followed the figure and found herself face to face with the library's janitor, Mr. Green.

"Mr. Green, what are you doing here?" Nancy asked, surprised.

Mr. Green was holding a rare book in his hand and appeared to be very nervous.  "I... I... I took the book," he stammered.  "I needed the money to pay for my daughter's medical treatment.  I was going to return it, I swear."

Nancy understood Mr. Green's situation, and she decided to help him instead of turning him in to the police.  She worked with Mrs. Stevens to find a way to help Mr. Green get the money he needed, and in the end, he was able to pay for his daughter's treatment and return the stolen books to the library.

"Thank you, Nancy," Mrs. Stevens said, grateful.  "You truly are a remarkable young woman."

Nancy smiled.  "I'm just glad I could help," she said.  "The River Heights Library is a special place, and it deserves to be protected."

Nancy had solved another mystery, and she was proud of the work she had done to help someone in need.  The River Heights Library was once again a safe place for rare books, and the town was grateful for Nancy's help.

In another session on a different day, I was given this.

Title: The River Heights Threat

Nancy Drew is back in her hometown, River Heights, and is asked to help solve a mystery at her old high school.  The school has been receiving anonymous threats, causing fear and disruption among the students and staff.

Nancy starts her investigation by talking to the school principal, teachers, and students.  She discovers that the threats seem to be targeting a specific group of students who are involved in a student council election.

As Nancy delves deeper into the case, she uncovers a web of secrets and rivalries among the students.  One of the candidates for student council president has been caught cheating on a test, and another candidate has been spreading false rumors about their opponents.

Meanwhile, Nancy receives a new threat that puts her own life in danger.  She realizes that the person behind the threats is someone close to her, someone she thought she could trust.

Nancy continues her investigation, using her detective skills to gather evidence and find the truth.  She finally uncovers the identity of the person behind the threats, bringing the case to a close and restoring peace to River Heights High School.

In the end, Nancy discovers that the threats were made by a student who was upset about losing the election.  She turns the evidence over to the police, and the student is arrested and brought to justice.

Here's another plot that I was given.  I am pretty sure that ChatGPT was inspired by The Mystery at Lilac Inn.  

Title: The Missing Heirloom

Nancy Drew receives a letter from her friend, Emily, asking for her help in solving the mystery of a missing heirloom.  Emily's family has owned a valuable diamond necklace for generations, but it has recently disappeared from their safe.

Emily believes that the necklace has been stolen, but no one in the family will admit to taking it.  The police are investigating, but they are having trouble finding any leads.

Nancy travels to Emily's hometown and begins to look into the case.  She starts by interviewing the members of the family and the staff of their home.  She discovers that there were several people who had motive and opportunity to steal the necklace.

One of the family members had recently lost a lot of money in a risky business venture and was in desperate need of funds.  Another family member was known to be an avid collector of expensive jewelry.  The maid who had access to the safe where the necklace was stored was also acting suspiciously.

Nancy continues her investigation and uncovers more clues.  She finally discovers the truth behind the missing heirloom and puts an end to the mystery.

In the end, Nancy finds the missing necklace and returns it to Emily's family.  She also uncovers the culprit behind the theft, bringing the case to a close.


I would love to read these plots as finished Nancy Drew Mysteries.