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Monthly Archives: February 2015

Putting reality into fiction

Sharon A. Crawford's latest in the Beyond series

Sharon A. Crawford’s latest in the Beyond series

The other evening I was teaching a workshop on Memoir Writing – not exactly fiction, but memoir reads like fiction. A participant said she was scared to name names of family members and wanted to know how to get around this.

You can turn the memoir into fiction – this has been done before. Or use pseudonyms with a disclaimer. Or be scrupulous about what you include.

Or you can do what I did after a confrontation with a relative who definitely didn’t want something in the family background getting published. The excuse was she didn’t want her children reading about it. However, she was okay with it all being fictionalized.

So I listened to her, although maybe not exactly as she meant it. In my mystery short story collection Beyond the Tripping Point (Blue Denim Press. 2012), one story is based on something that happened in my family – although except for the central event, all the characters have been changed and so have the circumstances. However, I was so ticked off with her attitude that I loosely based one of the suspects in one of the stories on her. I changed the details but when I see this character I see the complaining relative.

As for the memoir chapter she was complaining about – I did remove it – and several other chapters because at the same time another author and I did a manuscript evaluation exchange. He said I had three stories going on in the memoir – family history, some other history, and my personal story. My personal story was more interesting – so that was the new focus.

In my mystery novel Beyond Blood (Blue Denim Press 2014), I don’t use any stories from the original memoir, although Great Aunt Doris is very loosely based on an eccentric aunt (now deceased). However, the eccentricities are different as are Aunt Doris’ actions and role. The only similarities, if you will, are the two are eccentric and both are aunts.

However, I did use something in my past as fodder and then used my imagination to expand from there. The business with the raccoons. Racoons got into the attic of my house in Aurora and that was the real life starting point. But I assure you, except for racoons on the roof, anything else with racoons that happens in Beyond Blood never happened in real life, mine at least.

The bottom line is to use something real as the catalyst, the gem for an idea or character. Because you need to be careful here. How often have readers said that a character reminds them of so-and-so or the character is so-and-so? Usually this is not the reality.

But it is an indication that your story, your characters are resonating with your readers.

Cheers.

Sharon A. Crawford

Author of the Beyond book series. See http://www.samcraw.com and http://www.bluedenimpress.com for more info. Book at top of this post links to my Amazon author profile.

To watch my interview on Liquid Lunch on thatchannel.com go to Go to http://youtu.be/i2bBaePIWgY and enjoy.

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TV Interview with Sharon A. and Beyond Blood

Sharon A. Crawford's latest in the Beyond series

Sharon A. Crawford’s latest in the Beyond series

Last week I went back to the Liquid Lunch, this time for an interview about Beyond Blood, its characters and writing or channelling as the co-host Sandra Kyrzakos called it.

Liquid Lunch is a weekly interview show on thatchannel.com. The LL crew and the studio are in the same building in downtown Toronto but now up on the fifth floor. It’s is an old building which even has an elevator operator. I walked into their new location and it is small – a narrow hallway with a computer and desk and to the right where guests sit and talk to some of the crew pre-taping. I had to go back out in the hall to get some paperwork filled out.

Then, I went inside the actual studio – and the atmosphere there is much better than their old studio two floors down. Smaller room here, but brighter with natural light and just the setup of the table was more conducive to interviews.

Did I say interviews? It was more like a chat with old friends, with Hugh Reilly and Sandra and me. My publisher’s editor,  who has seen the video, says we all acted relaxed. Yes, but for some reason I stuttered a few times. Not really trying to get in character with Detective Sergeant Donald Fielding who does stutter. And why and when is part of the conversation. So are some of the other characters in the novel. I also get to read the beginning of the novel and wave around some objects that appear in the book.

But I’m not telling you anymore. Instead, go to You Tube where the full interview and my short reading is posted and see and hear for yourself. I am also getting a DVD of it, which my son will edit, i.e., pull out the reading segment so I can post it separately in social media.

Go to http://youtu.be/i2bBaePIWgY and enjoy.

 

Cheers.

Sharon A. Crawford

Author of the Beyond book series. See http://www.samcraw.com and http://www.bluedenimpress.com for more info. Book at top of this post links to my Amazon author profile.

 

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Researching the meds for the next Beyond book

Sharon A. Crawford's latest in the Beyond series

Sharon A. Crawford’s latest in the Beyond series

I am trying to do some research on concussions for the next novel in the Beyond mystery series. However, besides client work and PR for Beyond Blood (which are part of my usual writing work days), I have had my time stolen thanks to dealing with computer snafus, cable TV reception problems and shovelling snow.

As a former journalist I know that research must be thorough. I also know that you won’t use most of the information you collect. However, accuracy is important, including when you are writing fiction. You don’t want to come across as a sloppy writer or worse, include inaccurate facts.

One of my characters will suffer a concussion. I’m not saying which character – if a regular one or one just in this book. I’m also not saying what causes the concussion, although I’m beginning to think I should use the sports injury angle as most of the concussion literature today deals with concussions that are sports injuries.

My novels also take place in the late 1990s, so I have to watch I keep knowledge, treatment and research studies in that time period. So far I’ve contacted a retired family doctor turned health writer and she in turn asked for contacts from her colleagues on a medical writers’ forum. She then forwarded their suggested medical experts in this field to me.

I have also done some research online but have more to do here, thanks to another writer I know who sent me a link. And I have again borrowed the library book on concussions (albeit sports injuries) that I had out previously, but only got partway through reading and making notes before the book had to be returned after nine weeks. Let’s hope this time I make it through the book. Perhaps I should buy it.

Money, however, is tight, partly because of all the snafus I’m encountering (see first paragraph).

But, hey, I’m a former journalist and “persistence” is my middle name. Or the “S” isn’t just “Sharon;” It also stands for “stubborn.”

And that’s what I have to be to do thorough research for my new novel.

And yes I have started writing (and rewriting it) and revising the outline.

That’s fodder for another blog post.

Cheers.

Sharon A. Crawford

Author of the Beyond book series. See http://www.samcraw.com and http://www.bluedenimpress.com for more info. Book at top of this post links to my Amazon author profile.

 

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Promoting your published novel with a twist – Part 3

Sharon A. Crawford's latest in the Beyond series

Sharon A. Crawford’s latest in the Beyond series

There I was giving my 1.50 minute pitch about Beyond Blood in front of 50 plus librarians. The scene was the Metro Convention Centre in downtown Toronto, Canada last Friday afternoon. The event was the Ontario Library Association’s annual conference. Twenty-two of us crime writers from Crime Writers of Canada were individually doing our version of crime speed dating/pitching.

It was interesting to see and hear the various pitches, especially if like me you were about two-thirds down in the presentation list. We huddled together behind and to the side of the small stage, waiting and watching and hoping.

One author used a reminder call from his wife as his pitch. Another one a glass of champagne to tally with something in her novel. A few got a little bogged down in their writing background. Some, like me, stuck to the book – its plot and characters. I began with “What happens when a young mother finds her personal and professional life colliding, especially if she is a PI? I’m Sharon A. Crawford and In Beyond Blood that is what happens.”

The idea was to interest these librarians from various Ontario library branches to order our books for their libraries. Although it could be a blur of 22 authors, the librarians did have loot bags with our book and author info. Mine was the book mark for Beyond Blood.

Afterwards I decided to tour around the exhibitors’ booths. Surprisingly there were no library branches with booths – just services that libraries could use –digital and otherwise. On a whim I started talking to a few of the exhibitors, asking them questions about what their business does and mentioning the pitch we crime writers were doing. And got a big surprise.

Some of these exhibitors are big crime and mystery readers, including one from Scott’s Directories who loads her e-reader with mystery fiction books. So, I did a pitch for Beyond Blood and handed out my business card.

A bit later, over a cup of tea, I chatted with another fiction crime writer, Madeleine Harris-Callway, author of Windigo Fire and one of the featured authors in the Mesdames of Mayhem Thirteen anthology http://mesdamesofmayhem.com/about/madeleine-harris-callway/. Madeleine and I bemoaned the difficulty of getting book reviews. But that is a subject for another post.

All in a half-day’s book promo, but it had a twist on the usual for attending trade shows and conventions.

I’ll leave you with this link to get more tips on book promotion.

http://hell4heather.com/2015/02/05/book-marketing-tactics-you-may-not-have-considered/

 

Cheers.

Sharon A. Crawford

Author of the Beyond book series. See www.samcraw.com and www.bluedenimpress.com for more info. Book at top of post links to my amazon author profile.

 

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