Monthly Archives: April 2015

Don’t forget the ears – Promoting your book on radio

Sharon A. Crawford's latest in the Beyond series

Sharon A. Crawford’s latest in the Beyond series

In this graphic online world we sometimes forget there is another older way to promote your book. And it can be done online – live streaming or download or via the website’s Archives. The word is “radio” and although your audience can’t see you they can hear you.

I’ve had that radio interview experience a few times lately for my mystery novel Beyond Blood. None were straightforward. But all were interesting and satisfying.

Probably the closest to “straightforward” was a phone interview for a local (Cobourg, Ontario Canada) radio station. The q and a was normal but it felt a little strange reading an excerpt from Beyond Blood into my wireless phone.

For another radio station I was interviewed in a closet. No brooms or mops but lots of chairs piled up. The location was the Cobourg Public Library and the occasion was Word Northumberland in October 2014. The radio host had a micro digital recorder and among the chairs we did the q and a. Fortunately, I didn’t have to read in the closet. That was done on the small stage in the corner of the publishers and authors exhibit room where authors took their turns reading excerpts from their latest books. And yes, those segments were recorded.
Perhaps the most interesting is the interview I did with Nancy Bullis Tuesday night at 10 p.m. for her Howl show. Love that title. And love the location even more. CIUT 89.5 FM is the long-running University of Toronto radio station. Nancy has been hosting Howl for fifteen and a half years. But they weren’t always at this Hart House location. Until fall 2010 they were in another building closer to a main drag – Bloor Street – and Howl was broadcast live at 2 p.m. on Sundays. Nancy said she always ran into the annual Santa Clause parade just as it started.

But the curious thing is the studio’s actual location – if you can find it. Took me two preliminary visits and a chat with the station manager to find out exactly where on the third floor of historic Hart House it is situated.To make the search more confusing, the first recording studio you see is NOT the correct one. You have to walk along an inner corridor in front of that one until you come to another door which leads you to another corridor with the correct studio at the end.

I had no trouble finding Hart House or its west wing as instructed. Apparently some interviewees can’t do that and land in the east wing. Nancy has chased after lost interviewees before.

But not me. I found it without any problems the night of the interview; my research paid off. When Nancy arrived (and she was early too), she found me chatting with Robert the technician. Nancy and I had a preliminary chat then went inside the studio – the recording part in the front and the actual place where the interview occurs in a small room behind. We sat at a small oval table with huge table-top mics. Nancy checked to see which ones were working and then gave me mic instructions – how far away to put my face from the mic. She adjusted the mic a bit.

I’m usually useless with microphones. I get too close, too far away or worse – have to adjust the mic because someone taller used the mic before me. When I try to adjust these mics, I either can’t move the stand part and/or the mic comes off and I feel like a would-be rock star who can’t sing. That’s me. So I use my loud outside voice.

With the CIUT radio interview, no mic problem I guess. My publisher’s editor listened to the show live while driving home and said the interview was good. I gather he could hear it all right.

So what went on in the interview? Nancy asked questions and I talked about how I got into writing mysteries, about research, some of the characters (the fraternal twin PIs Dana Bowman and Bast Overture) and Dana’s son, David, plus a couple more eccentric characters, Great Aunt Doris and the stuttering Detective Sergeant Donald Fielding, and if my characters appear in both my books.

We also talked about that other Beyond book – the short story collection Beyond the Tripping Point (Blue Denim Press, 2012) and the four linked stories connected to Beyond Blood and why the two weren’t published in chronological order.

And where I am reading in the near future. I also managed to get in my website address somewhere in the conversation. Those two are very important.

Speaking of reading – I did read a short excerpt from Beyond Blood. And it didn’t feel like I was reading to a wall or a wireless phone.

Until Wednesday, May 6 you can check out my interview at scroll down to Howl and click on Howl. You need an MP3 player to listen, from what I see there. But remember, I am not technically inclined.

And for those who must have their visual, you can see and hear my interview about Beyond Blood and writing on thatchannel’s Liquid Lunch at



Sharon A. Crawford

Sharon A. Crawford is the author of the Beyond book series. More info at and

Beyond Blood Book cover at the top of this post links to my Amazon author profile. If you buy a copy there, please do a review on



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Let your fiction characters evolve

Sharon A. Crawford's latest in the Beyond series

Sharon A. Crawford’s latest in the Beyond series

How relevant is your original concept of your fiction characters? You do an outline of their traits and how they act, talk, etc. Then as you write your novel something happens.

Your characters have the nerve to change. They don’t act according to your plan, your concept of them. And worse, the little devils want to take over your novel.

Excuse me. It is their novel too. Without them you don’t have a novel or at the most, you have a bare bones plot with some iffy and maybe characters.

If you remember, last week’s post dealt with guest characters wanting to take over so let’s take that a step further. But first we have to step back. You and your friends and family did not suddenly stop changing and growing (and not just physically here) at age five, age 20 and so on. You evolve; you change; things happen.

Same with your fiction characters. As you write your novel, no matter what you put in your outline for characters and plot, something is going to change if for no other reason than the original idea, the original concept, just won’t work.

I’ll give you an example from my recently published mystery novel Beyond Blood. One of the biggies was changing the POV characters from one – private investigator Dana Bowman, PI – to also her fraternal twin and PI partner Bast Overture, Dana’s six-year old son, David, and the mysterious Him. That sure opened up the plot. It also meant getting inside four, not one, characters’ heads.

And dealing with their development, their actions and their demands. Sure it puts the writer on edge. Would this change work? Should I do this or should I do that?

I’ve found when you get to a point where you have to deviate from the original plan, it works best to write spontaneously and see what happens. Each character will invade your mind and make demands. You may not use all of what they want, but listen to them. And just write. You can make more changes later.

That’s what I do even though it means scrolling to and from different parts to fix something that doesn’t seem consistent or make sense. And I do it when my characters insist.

Remember, characters are real to you and to your readers. Just like you, your family and friends, characters evolve over time.

Let them.

And if you want to hear a bit about the point of view changes I made, I will be reading from Beyond Blood this evening when I join 15 other Crime Writers of Canada authors reading at the Arthur Ellis Short List Party. We each get three minutes to read – I can just squeeze in my two pages of Prologue – one from Him’s point of view and one from Dana’s.

After the readings all the CWC authors short-listed in the various Arthur Ellis Awards categories will be named – out loud. If you are in the Toronto or GTA area in Ontario, Canada, please join us from 7 p.m. to 9 p.m. at Indigo Book Store in the Manulife Centre at Bay Street and Bloor Street West. It promises to be fun.



Sharon A. Crawford

Sharon A. Crawford is the author of the Beyond book series. More info at and including a link to a radio interview at Online TV interview from Liquid Lunch is at

Beyond Blood Book cover at the top of this post links to my Amazon author profile. If you buy a  copy there, please do a review on amazon.


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Fiction characters who want to take over the story

Sharon A. Crawford's latest in the Beyond series

Sharon A. Crawford’s latest in the Beyond series

In my Beyond mystery series, one of the main characters, Dana Bowman, often wants to be front and centre in the story. She even gets into my mind outside of writing time. I’ve posted about that before. Dana can get away with this. She’s one of the twin private investigators and it is her function to get all over the place. But what about a non-series character, a guest of one novel, who grabs the reins and insists?

In my third Beyond mystery book which I am currently writing, this is what’s happening. Without giving the plot away, there is a nun in the story who is important to the plot and as such some of the novel is her story. But she has invaded my mind and is insisting on being in almost every scene.

A little privacy, please, for the other characters and for the plot revelation. One important feature of mystery plots is that each character doesn’t have all the information; they don’t know all the plot. At the same time, putting all the information together for the reader, but at the same time having it happen throughout the story is important. Unless God is one of your main characters, each character doesn’t know it all and letting each character find out and reveal helps make for a good plot.

So, what do you do about “guest” characters trying to take over the whole novel?

  1. Acknowledge them – who they are and that they do have a purpose.
  2. Let them come into your mind and speak because if you shut them out you may lose good plot and character developments.
  3. But give them some parameters. Yes, they are important, but they are part of a whole, part of a plot.
  4. If necessary, give them timelines when it is okay to invade your mind. Not easy, but try the “not now, but (when?)” approach.
  5. Or when they invade, grab that notebook or iPad and start scribbling/typing their information. Sometimes doing something about it right away, stops the “invasion.” You can decide later whether to include it in your story.
  6. And make sure they are playing their important role in your novel. This can be done by having them be one of the novel’s point-of-view characters.


I know this may all sound crazy. But it is a good sign that your characters are real in the fiction sense. And that’s a good thing for your readers.


This evening from 7 p.m. to 9 p.m., I get a chance to talk about developing series characters in fiction. Crime writers Rosemary McCracken (the Pat Tierney mystery fiction series), Nate Hendley (true crime) and I will be talking about writing crime – fiction and true – and getting our work published, to the Storytellers (love that name) writing group at the Angus Glen public library in Markham, Ontario, Canada. It is a Meet-up group. More information at




Sharon A. Crawford


Sharon A. Crawford is the author of the Beyond book series. More info at and including a link to a radio interview at Online TV interview from Liquid Lunch is at

Beyond Blood Book cover at the top of this post links to my Amazon author profile. If you buy a  copy there, please do a review on amazon.




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Recharging your novel in progress

Sharon A. Crawford's latest in the Beyond series

Sharon A. Crawford’s latest in the Beyond series

My editor did it. He gave me the boost to get my third Beyond book out of stall mode.

A few weeks ago I blogged about a lot of problems (house, health, utility, income taxes) stealing from my writing time including coming up with plot development. See

This big surge happened a couple of weeks ago when Shane, my editor at Blue Denim Press, and I did a joint marketing presentation (author and publisher) at the Beaches Library Branch in Toronto, Canada. Two things Shane said did it. On the panel, he was answering a question related to submissions and editing. He pointed to Beyond Blood and said my book went through several edits and at first it needed a lot of changes. He said I needed one murder within the first 50 pages. So he said that I wrote in two murders. After the presentation he was saying that today’s mysteries that sell aren’t so much cozies – but edgy like my Beyond the Tripping Point short story collection. I reminded him that my prequel novel Beyond Blood is also edgy.

However, it got me thinking. The Beyond novel I’m currently writing tended to meander too much in the beginning. It needed to be made sharper with more twists and turns. As for the murders, there is one within the first 50 pages and another incident in the beginning that is left hanging whether it will turn into a murder or be an attempted murder.

Letting all this percolate in my brain, as well as being open to whatever ideas materialized, finally worked. So I’ve been writing and writing – well, not all the time. There are still house and property problems and potential problems thanks to weather. And I am suddenly getting more editing clients – which I wanted and needed to help pay the bills.

I also like helping other writers – but more on that in another post.

For now, if your novel or short story has hit stall mode, don’t give up. Get another perspective from another author and/or editor. Join a writing critique group and listen – maybe even read that stalled chapter for feedback.

Do something besides moan and groan. You never know what might percolate in your mind.


Sharon A. Crawford.

Reminder: Next Thursday, April 16, I join Crime Writers of Canada writers Nate Hendley and Rosemary McCracken for a writing presentation to the Storytellers writing group at Angus Glen library in Unionville, Ontario, Canada. Check my Facebook page for more info Scroll down beyond the bad customer service post to the Meet-up post.


Sharon A. Crawford is the author of the Beyond book series. More info at and including a link to a radio interview at Online TV interview from Liquid Lunch is at

Beyond Blood Book cover at the top of this post links to my Amazon author profile. If you buy a copy, please write a review on amazon. Thanks.


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More Marketing your book mayhem

Sharon A. Crawford's latest in the Beyond series

Sharon A. Crawford’s latest in the Beyond series

Marketing your fiction book (or any book) can be unpredictable. You never know what will work. Fortunately there are many options and I am amazed at what individual authors come up with. It may all seem like a maze of unchartered territory, hence the word “mayhem.”

Here are a few tactics I’ve picked up from talking to other authors about how they market.

Some authors go into the bookstore(s) where their book is for sale and they switch the book from spine out to front of book out, sometimes even moving the book to the big display table at the front of the store.

Then there are those big ads in public transit – in subways, buses and streetcars. Each public transportation system has their own set-up and if you want to go this route, you need to talk to them. Word of warning. Once your ad’s time period is up, they discard your posters – you might want to make arrangements to pick them up so you can use them elsewhere. If your publisher has already printed posters, you could use some of those. Not enough? Get an e-copy of the poster and head to your local Staples, UPS store or the like to get copies made. No posters? If your publisher won’t design one or you are self-published, see if any of your friends or family can design your poster or do a work trade with a designer and then continue as mentioned above.

I’ve found a book launch can do wonders for book sales. You don’t need to book an expensive place that charges a large fee for the privilege of letting you have your launch there. I know authors who have had successful book launches in their homes (it is work, but a book launch anywhere requires work as well – from PR to posters). Other authors who belong to a literary club can rent a room at a discount. Some pubs have separate rooms where you can launch your book and they won’t charge as long as you can guarantee to fill the place with patrons who will buy their food and drink. Cafes usually don’t charge either. And then there are bookstores, but they will want to handle sales and take their cut – anywhere from 30% to 60%. But your book is in the bookstore.

My publisher books a bistro, café or pub and he does pay a fee. But he charges an admission to anyone coming (except the authors whose books are being launched, any guest authors reading and any guests of the authors launching who are on the complimentary book list). Guests paying an admission are entitled to one book published by my publisher – the guest’s choice – and the cost is below the book’s regular price.

Self-published authors can also borrow a page from trade publishers’ book launches – launch books by more than one author at a time.

Another author looks at what areas in subject matter her books cover and proceeds accordingly to email information about her books to universities and colleges around the world. This is not a “buy my book” email but an information one. The universities and colleges can do what they like with her books. And they have. Her books appear on university curriculum world-wideand in college bookstores. As she says, you never know when someone doing a PhD will buy your book for their dissertation.

And don’t forget social media.

I’ve found getting the word out about your book works best when you combine the in-person with online.

Don’t forget to brand you and your book. And I’m not referring to branding cows. Get one good headshot of you taken and use it for all you PR. Mine is at the top of this blog (and my website, etc. etc.). With smartphones, digital cameras and iPads, it’s not expensive. (My son took my photo with his iPad.) You want people to remember that face. Also a good small and large jpeg of your book cover. And brand your books. My mystery fiction is branded as the Beyond book series and each book begins with the word “Beyond.”

These are just a few marketing techniques.

And now I better get back to my own marketing.



Sharon A. Crawford

Sharon A. Crawford is the author of the Beyond book series. More info at and including a link to a radio interview at Online TV interview from Liquid Lunch is at

Beyond Blood Book cover at the top of this post links to my Amazon author profile.


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