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Monthly Archives: November 2014

Why do writers write?

Sharon reads from her Beyond book series

Sharon reads from her Beyond book series

If the writing is honest it cannot be separated from the man who wrote it.

 

  • Tennessee Williams

 

I was hit with this question and connected it to my crime fiction Beyond Blood and Beyond the Tripping Point.

The trigger was listening to best-selling author Linden MacIntyre being interviewed this morning by Mike Duncan on Classic 93.6 FM radio station. MacIntyre was talking about his new novel Punishment and its theme of vengeance versus justice. And he is also a former journalist, albeit a high profile broadcast journalist lately host of CBC’s investigative TV show The Fifth Estate. (More information on MacIntyre in this Toronto Star story http://www.thestar.com/entertainment/books/2014/11/21/linden_macintyre_on_community_vengeance_and_punishment.html

 

What is it about journalists turning to writing fiction, often crime fiction?

I’m beginning to think it is our sense of justice, justice not really being meted out today to those who commit crimes, especially heinous crimes. And as journalists we certainly see our share of that in the true stories we write, as well as in what we read in the newspapers and magazines, whether in print or online. (For the record – now that is a journalistic phrase – I read both print and online.)

With me, this sense of justice is something I have carried from my childhood. Blame it on my Catholic background. As an ex-Catholic I can no longer stand by some of those beliefs. Although I have to admit that my sense of justice comes more from the “eye for an eye” of the Old Testament.

That may be where the vengeance factor fits in.

In all my short stories in Beyond the Tripping Point, no one who commits a crime gets away with it. Not all the baddies get arrested but they get their just desserts. For example, in “Unfinished Business” a woman who was sexually assaulted as a child gets her chance to get back at the guilty party when he becomes a threat to her 12-year-old daughter.

Then there are the four-linked stories featuring the fraternal twin PIs Dana Bowman and Bast Overture. Here all the baddies do get arrested. Dana and Bast both have a great sense of justice. Bast was a former crime reporter so he’s seen a lot of bad things and talked to a lot of bad people. As a journalist he had to try to sit on the observation side. As a PI, especially in my new novel Beyond Blood, he can do more.

But it is Dana who drives this search for justice. Especially after her son David is kidnapped. Then it becomes more personal. Nothing like motherly love to motivate someone.

Maybe that has something to do with my sense of justice – at least adds fuel to the fire. My son is in his mid-thirties now and was never kidnapped but there have been instances over the years where I went to bat for him, even if just the normal growing-up incidents that happen.

Of course, there are other reasons why I write and why crime fiction. I’ll cover them in future blog posts.

For now, I would like to know

Why do you write?

Please comment.

Cheers.

Sharon A. Crawford

This Saturday, Nov. 29, 11 a.m. to  4 p.m. I will be selling copies of Beyond Blood and Beyond the Tripping Point at the Toronto Heliconian Club Fine Arts and Gift Sale, 35 Hazelton Ave. (Yorkville area), Toronto, Ontario, Canada. For more info about the Toronto Heliconian Club and this sale (open to the public), see http://heliconianclub.org/ Scroll down a bit – it is there.

For those not in the Toronto, Canada area, you can click on my book covers below – they will lead you to my publisher Blue Denim Press’s website. Scroll down and you can see where Beyond Blood is currently available, including at www.bluedenimpress.com.

And check my website www.samcraw.com – click on Beyond Blood. I constantly update my gigs on that site.

Cover of Beyond Blood by Sharon A. Crawford, published by Blue Denim Press. Click for link to purchase e-copies

Cover of Beyond Blood by Sharon A. Crawford, published by Blue Denim Press. Click for link to publisher’s website

Cover of Sharon A. Crawford's mystery short story collection. Click on it for publisher's website

Cover of Sharon A. Crawford’s mystery short story collection. Click on it for link to publisher’s website

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Tales from the book promo trenches

Sharon reads from her Beyond book series

Sharon reads from her Beyond book series

I loved words. I love to sing them and speak them and even now, I must admit, I have fallen into the joy of writing them. – Ann Rice

If anyone thinks you can make money from your published books without a lot of work, get your head out of the sand. It IS a lot of work. It can be fun too but also harrowing. In the last week here’s what’s been going on with my Beyond series books.

Weekend of November 14 to 16 – Inspire Book Fair Toronto Metro Convention Centre

Friday, 6 p.m. My one-hour to sell book copies at the Sisters in Crime Toronto booth. The book fair was a dead zone although groups of school kids were in earlier running around the room. But at 6 p.m there were more exhibitors than people attending the book fair. Still I managed to sell one copy of Beyond Blood to a big mystery reader

Saturday, people buying tickets, going up on the escalator and wandering around in the convention room. Yay!

4.40 p.m. Read from and talked about Beyond Blood and Beyond the Tripping Point on a smaller stage. I used my loud outside voice and the editor at my publishers (Blue Denim Press) said he could hear me from their booth. Afterwards I returned to their booth, sold and signed one book.

Before that I wandered around talking to people – mostly those I knew, but some I hadn’t seen for years. Yes, some of them bought copies of my books at the Blue Denim Press booth, but it was also a chance to talk about writing and doing PR

Sunday, I returned to Inspire with my friend Kathy. We hung around my publisher’s booth for a bit and sat in the audience when another Blue Denim Press author read. Kathy bought a copy of Beyond Blood and one of the other author’s books.

All in all it was a good experience but could have been better for book buying, especially as it is Christmas shopping time and my publisher, at least, had the books on sale. I can’t believe everyone is just buying e-copies (My books are available in the usual e-pub and Kindle versions from the usual places as well as from my publisher. Click on the Beyond Blood book at the bottom for the link.) My publisher said Inspire was more of a networking experience and yes, they connected with a lot of potential organizations for book distribution and other book promo.

Wednesday, November 20, part of Crime Writers of Canada’s Murder and Mayhem reading series – at the Beaches library branch in Toronto. And we had a full house, a captivated audience who asked a lot of questions of the four of us reading and talking about our books. The whole time was creative magic and connections between authors and readers.

The downside? The bloody weather – Toronto’s first somewhat big snowstorm – more blowing around and of course the timing of the storm couldn’t be worse. It took me over an hour and a half to get to the library from my place – a trip that should take only 30 to 40 minutes maximum. The first bus arrived on time but it was a slow journey to the subway station. But I could have still arrived at the library on time. Except the other bus wasn’t showing up. Some of us waited over half an hour. I finally phoned the library and told the librarian about the situation and that if a bus came I would try to get there for 7 p.m. (6.30 p.m. was starting time). The first bus got too packed and I couldn’t get on. The second one came maybe 10 minutes later and didn’t take long to go its route and get me to my destination. Then came the 10-minute walk to the library. But I made it and after my co-host Nate introduced me, I told everyone “I got derailed by the weather.” (Only a railway brat like me would use that term).

Despite the good session, no books of mine sold. I think one author sold one book.

So, you see it is all uphill. Yes I do the social media bit. No, I won’t give up. I love meeting my readers and talking about my books, reading from them, and giving writing advice.

I’m also very stubborn and persistent.

Just ask those who know me.

 

Cheers.

Sharon A. Crawford

For those not in the Toronto, Canada area, you can click on my book covers below – they will lead you to my publisher Blue Denim Press’s website. Scroll down and you can see where Beyond Blood is currently available, including at www.bluedenimpress.com.

And check my website www.samcraw.com – click on Beyond Blood. I constantly update the gigs etc. on that page.

 

Cover of Sharon A. Crawford's mystery short story collection

Cover of Sharon A. Crawford’s mystery short story collection

Cover of Beyond Blood by Sharon A. Crawford, published by Blue Denim Press

Cover of Beyond Blood by Sharon A. Crawford, published by Blue Denim Press

 

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Sharon A. Crawford appears at Inspire Book Fair

Sharon_A_Crawford_Book_LaunchReading is the sole means by which we slip, involuntarily, often helplessly, into another’s skin, another’s voice, another’s soul.

  • Joyce Carol Oates

The first Inspire: the Toronto International Book Fair gets underway this evening. And I’m going to be doing double duty in appearances there – signing and selling books and reading from Beyond Blood. More on that shortly. But first a personal perspective about how an author prepares for these events.

My books – Beyond Blood and Beyond the Tripping Point are key and I don’t just mean to sell. That’s important too but so is engaging with my readers. Just sitting there with a bunch of books does not connect me with my readers. I need to talk to them. And I don’t just do a book promo speech. I ask them if they write and what they write. Do they read mystery fiction? Conversation is a two-way street.

When I actually do read I don’t just stand there and drone on from my book(s). First I give a little background about my story and the main characters. Then I read. I’m told my reading is like audio, like I’m right in my story. True. I channel each character who speaks, particularly six-year-old David Bowman, Dana Bowman’s son. I love talking like a child. Not sure what that says about me.

I also get right into the actions going on. Haven’t stabbed or shot anyone yet. (FYI the only gun I have is a small water gun and carrying around knives would be considered carrying a concealed weapon). But I’ll shake my manuscript when Dana is shaking her sketch pad at her brother Bast.

Yes, I said manuscript. Because here’s my deep dark secret. I have terrible eyesight (the bane of getting old), and although the font is large enough in my books, sometimes the lights are not bright enough. So I have a few pages of pumped-up font printed out and read from that.

You really wouldn’t want me to use a magnifying glass, would you? Although I do carry one of those around and it would be appropriate for crime fiction.

Back to the books – the big question is: how many do I bring? Which gets translated into: how many can I carry? I travel on public transit and many Toronto subway stations don’t have elevators or down escalators. If I get a ride it helps – if there is a parking lot nearby.

You also sometimes need to create an attractive display in a small space, i.e. prop up one copy of each book, have some bookmarks and other info, but not too much. You don’t want to overwhelm your readers.

So, while I prepare for this weekend at Inspire, the Toronto International Book Fair at Metro Toronto Convention Centre North Building, 255 Front Street West, http://www.torontobookfair.ca/

here are the details about my appearances:

Friday, November 14, 6 p.m. to 7 p.m.

Selling and signing copies of Beyond Blood and Beyond the Tripping Point at the Toronto Sisters in Crime Booth No. 1120 in the Marketplace Section.

Saturday, November 15, 4 p.m.

Reading from Beyond Blood at my publisher Blue Denim Press’s booth No. 1326 in the Marketplace. Afterward I’ll be there to talk to my readers and sign books.

Note: my publishers will be at that booth for the duration of the book fair.

Please join me there and engage in the conversation about your writing and/or reading.

And of course Beyond Blood and Beyond the Tripping Point.

And pass this info on – tweet about it, link to your blog, Facebook, etc.

Cheers.

 

Sharon A. Crawford

For those not in the Toronto, Canada area, you can click on my book covers below – they will lead you to my publisher Blue Denim Press’s website. Scroll down and you can see where Beyond Blood is currently available, including at www.bluedenimpress.com.

And check my website www.samcraw.com – click on Beyond Blood. I constantly update the gigs etc. on that page.

Cover of Sharon A. Crawford's mystery short story collection

Cover of Sharon A. Crawford’s mystery short story collection

Cover of Beyond Blood by Sharon A. Crawford, published by Blue Denim Press

Cover of Beyond Blood by Sharon A. Crawford, published by Blue Denim Press

 

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Beyond Blood character puts Sharon A. Crawford in hot seat

Cover of Beyond Blood by Sharon A. Crawford, published by Blue Denim Press

Cover of Beyond Blood by Sharon A. Crawford, published by Blue Denim Press

My ideas usually come not at my desk writing but in the midst of living.

 

  • Anais Nin

 

The other fraternal twin in Beyond Blood – Bast Overture is now going at me with the third degree. At least his journalistic techniques appear familiar to me – he has a recorder running and is also taking notes by hand to back it up in case of technological difficulties.

Bast: Okay, Sharon A., I’ll try not to cover exactly what my sister did last week, but I may want to add to it.

Me: Okay. Fire away.

Bast: First, I’d like to know more about your journalism career. You mentioned you did some crime stories but not a lot. As that is my forte, I wonder if you could tell me what stories you did write and why you wrote them.

Me: Sometimes the story was about a crime that I had first-hand experience with. I see you looked perplexed. No, I didn’t do the crime but it was done against me. For example, when I lived in Aurora, Ontario, my house was broken into. So I wrote a humorous personal essay on that. It was published in Wordscape Seven: Mystery & Suspense Anthology, MTB Press, 2001. I also wrote a story for a community newspaper about protecting your home from invasion.

Bast: What about other stories?

Me: I wrote a story about fraud against seniors in their homes, particularly about home renovations and repairs – this was before Identity theft, although I did write a story on that too. But as I told your sister Dana, I believe that if you do the crime you do the time – one way or the other. So, one of the ways I get back, if you will, is to write about prevention, so people don’t become victims of crime. I talked to seniors as well as police and a unique hardware store then in Aurora – the owners recommended legitimate and trustworthy tradespeople for this. I even found a handyman for me, although I didn’t interview him as that might be considered not at arms length – you know too close to the writer.

Bast: Hmm. You mentioned writing a story on Identity Theft. Can you tell me a bit about that? Did you pitch that story to a magazine or was it assigned?

Me: A little of both. I pitched it to the now defunct Homemakers magazine and the editor there was interested and added more scope to the story so that besides police and identity theft protection experts, I interviewed a couple of people who had their identify stolen – one by getting his regular mail redirected so he had to replace all his credit cards and other ID. The other one was the victim of mortgage fraud – someone put a mortgage, in her name, on her house without her knowledge.

Bast: I gather fraud is something you are interested in and you have that as one of the many crimes in Beyond Blood. How did that come about?

Me: Well, without giving the plot away beyond what is on the back book cover, the fraud in there comes from or maybe I should say is related to some of the other crimes. And I’m not saying any more except that some of the plot events are peculiar to that time (1998) and not completely relevant today.

Bast: That’s a bit obtuse. Care to elaborate.

Me: All right. Without giving it all away (and this is on the back cover) abortions, or rather illegal abortions are part of the story in Beyond Blood. And you know, abortions are in the news again with all the anti-abortion movements in the States and even some press in Canada. But the interesting thing here is not that so much as that one thing related to abortions which was illegal in Canada in 1998 is still illegal in Canada today.

Bast: Let the record show that Sharon A. is not talking about Canadian law regarding abortion itself. Abortions are legal in Canada. Sharon A. is referring to…

Me: Stop. Don’t give the plot away. Let’s just say it all is part of the plot and you and Dana figure it out, but will you do so in time to save Dana’s son and your nephew David?

Bast: Right. But maybe you could include that plot blurb on the back of Beyond Blood. That book cover photo at the top of this post shows the front page only.

Me. Okay. Here it is.

In Beyond Blood (Blue Denim Press, fall 2014), Dana Bowman has misgivings about starting the home-based Attic Investigative Agency with her fraternal twin, Bast Overture. Especially when the agency’s launch is preceded by a break and enter downstairs and a kidnapping at the Mini-Mall involving her son David’s babysitter, Debbie Sangwell. Especially when David is kidnapped and Debbie is murdered during the agency’s opening ceremonies. Hovering in the background is the mysterious “Him.”

Further digging reveals more kidnappings, murders, fraud, and abortion. The twins’ investigation also leads to run-ins with police detective Donald Fielding and CKNT TV reporter Charles Haas, the latter who has the “dirt” on Bast. A colourful cast of characters dot the pages, including Dana’s ex-husband Ronald, Great Aunt Doris, Mini-Mall merchants Lois and Ray Chalmers, and various nosy neighbours. Hovering in the background is the mysterious “Him.”

Dana is pushed beyond blood ties trying to avoid an emotional meltdown as a mother and focus on finding her son. The twin detectives discover that everything seems to be connected. Which connection will lead them to David, and to Debbie’s murderer? Will they be too late for David?

Click on my book cover above – it will lead you to my publisher Blue Denim Press’s website. Scroll down and you can see where Beyond Blood is currently available, including at www.bluedenimpress.com.

And check my website www.samcraw.com – click on Beyond Blood. I constantly update the gigs etc. on that page.

Cheers.

Sharon A. Crawford

 

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