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Monthly Archives: June 2015

Incorporating the weather into your fiction

Sharon A. Crawford's latest in the Beyond series

Sharon A. Crawford’s latest in the Beyond series

I am intensely interested in the weather – where it comes from, who or what causes it, and how it plays out. So, it isn’t a big leap to figure out that I start chapter one in the Beyond mystery novel I am currently writing with the main character, Dana Bowman, dealing with weather. And that isn’t as simple as it sounds.

First, you need the weather appropriate to the time frame of your story. Although using a present-day setting, if the weather is severe and floods are a big part, you will probably be right on. However, it is always best to check with reliable weather sources online for weather on any day or in any time frame.

If you set your story anywhere in the past, you need to have the weather at least based on the weather situation then. Where you set your story will also factor in. For example, you probably wouldn’t have a tornado in California, but you might have very dry weather causing forest fires. On the flip side of the weather coin, you can use some weather conditions that occurred in the past as part of your story, part of the conflicts that occur in your plot. Think going out in a sailboat and getting caught in a storm. Of course, like all plots you have to build up the suspense and that includes impending storms. You need to connect the weather to your characters. Perhaps your main character is terrified of tornadoes or thunderstorms. Why? That would be part of your story and you can also blend that terror in with what the main character may have to do at the climax. Maybe your protagonist is in that sailboat with a friend who is actually the sailor. The protagonist may have to try to save the day if the sailor is injured, falls overboard, etc.

The weather can also play a creepy role in your novel – especially thrillers and horror. I am reminded of the 1960 movie Midnight Lace starring Doris Day (yes, I know, that dates me) where Rex Harrison as her husband appears to be stalking her as she walks through the London fog.

So sometimes the weather becomes like another character in your fiction. The weather possibilities are endless.

Even if you don’t have weather playing a major part, you don’t want your character going out in a snowstorm in shorts and a T-shirt. Or heading for the beach in a fur coat. Unless that is part of their eccentricity or they are on a modelling or music video assignment.

And don’t forget to give some reference to the weather in your story, but incorporate it into your story so it doesn’t read like an extended weather dissertation.

And what is my main character Dana Bowman facing weather-wise in the Beyond novel currently being written, which begins in late November 1999? She is walking in the rain.

But I have one extenuating circumstance here. My setting is a fictitious small city I call Thurston, Ontario. Thurston is located just north of Toronto where Aurora and Newmarket are. When I checked historical record data (three sources online), neither place had historical weather listings, so I went to the closest – Richmond Hill, Ontario and that’s what I’m using. With fictitious locations, you can be somewhat creative with the weather – within reason (see above about fur coats and shorts). Check out the real location in the general area of your made-up place and see what the weather is/was like there. Again, you don’t want snowstorms in California.

However, if you are writing fantasy or science fiction, the sky is the limit (pun intended).

Do you use weather as an important part of your fiction and how do you do so?

Comments please.

Cheers.

Sharon A. Crawford

Sharon A. Crawford is the author of the Beyond book series. More info at www.samcraw.com and www.bluedenimpress.com – my publisher – you can also purchase e-books – both Kindle and Kobo from Blue Denim Press. Click on the Beyond Blood Book cover at the top of this post.

 

 

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Making time to write

Sharon A. Crawford's latest in the Beyond series

Sharon A. Crawford’s latest in the Beyond series

If you want to write some more of that novel, that short story, that essay, sometimes you need to take drastic actions.

Like toss all the other work-related stuff into the holding bins. Yes, for some of us one holding bin just isn’t big enough.

That’s what I did (for the most part) the last three days. And not only finished a personal essay that was in an appalling draft state, I wrote some more in my next Beyond novel. I woke up my characters – the fraternal twin PIs Dana Bowman and Bast Overture and my stuttering detective Donald Fielding.  I also straightened out some plot inconsistencies, smoothed some other parts, sorted out and included the last bit of info from my police consultant, but also more questions arose for research. Most of it has to do with police procedure and I’ll be getting back soon to my police consultant about that.

Something else happened as I wrote both the novel content and that personal essay. I go lost in my writing, i.e., the world around me continued on – cars driving by, neighbours cutting their lawn, etc. but it was on the peripherals and if I noticed, it was sub-consciously or just in passing to silently acknowledge it way back in my mind.

The phone ringing is another matter. Although I am glad to have the phone working, it did intrude. No, I didn’t answer it; if I did someone would get a nasty earful. I did answer the door because at the time I had the inside door open to let in fresh air.

It was someone selling something to do with heating the house equipment – I was curt and sent him on his way.

The moral here (besides keeping your doors all closed when you are writing) is if you want to write, don’t only says so, do so.

You will get taken in by your story and you might just get somewhere writing it.

The creative satisfaction can only be described as…well the words you write do it more than justice.

Happy writing.

 

Cheers.

Sharon A. Crawford

 

Sharon A. Crawford is the author of the Beyond book series. More info at www.samcraw.com and www.bluedenimpress.com – my publisher – you can also purchase e-books – both Kindle and Kobo from Blue Denim Press. Click on the Beyond Blood Book cover at the top of this post.

 

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Behind the scenes of author presentations

Sharon A. Crawford's latest in the Beyond series

Sharon A. Crawford’s latest in the Beyond series

Authors don’t suddenly appear at libraries, cafes, pubs and other venues to read. There is work involved, especially with the organizers. And when you have two different events on consecutive evenings, it can get shall we say busy?

Especially when Mr. Murphy (that rascal from Murphy’s Law) gets into the act.

I help organize crime readings/presentations for Crime Writers of Canada. Most of these are in libraries but some occur in cafes and pubs. This week there are two, one this evening and one tomorrow evening. I’ll list them at the end.

First, way back before the reading time, I have to contact the library branch or café or pub. Sometimes I email; sometimes I phone and sometimes it is in person. Whichever way, there is always follow-ups re details between the venue and myself and of course, lining up authors. Then some to and froing by email to authors, to the venue, re publicity – who does what – and actually doing it. Being somewhat old school (well, in age) I like to print some flyers and the like, but I also do a lot of social media, e-newsletters, etc.

I also have to organize the presentation setup. Sometimes I get lazy and just introduce the authors and have them talk about their books and writing, read a bit, and then answer questions from the audience. Other times I organize an interview or panel setups (with some reading and q and a). The latter two are the way of this week’s two presentations. Fortunately, my cohort in crime, Rosemary McCracken is helping with the interview setup for tomorrow’s presentation. (More below).

However, sometimes when things seem to be going along well, Mr. Murphy appears.

For example, an unexpected rental fee for microphone equilpment at a café or pub. Or bad weather – blizzards or heavy rainfalls (the later has happened and the event was cancelled – which meant contacting authors and the library. This one started as an email, then phone conversation between one of the other authors reading and myself. We decided it would be best to cancel – if the library agreed. Fortunately, I got the librarian on the phone and she cancelled the event. The other author I had to email because I didn’t have his phone number. And he was from just east of Toronto. Fortunately, he had the sense to phone the library to find out.)

This weather for this evening’s event is for dry warm weather – so far. Tomorrow’s? More showers, maybe some scattered thunderstorms. Keeping toes crossed here that all goes well including the event. And that means not just the authors able to make it okay but people to see and hear us.

Only time will tell. But it can get nerve-wracking. My point? When you go to see and hear authors read, remember that there is work involved in putting these events together.

And the two events this week where some of us Crime Writers of Canada authors are appearing.

Tonight, June 11 at the Bloor/Gladstone library branch, 1101 Bloor St, West, in Toronto from 6. 30 p.m. to 8 p.m. I’m moderating a panel featuring Rosemary McCracken, Steve Shrott and Steve Burrows.

Tomorrow, June 12, at the Red Rocket Coffeehouse, 1364 Danforth Ave., Toronto, from 7.30 p.m. to 9.30 p.m. Rosemary McCracken and I share the interviewing duties and authors will also read a bit and answer questions. Also featuring Karen Blake-Hall, Steve Shrott, Linda Cahill, Robert Hoshowsky, the latter a true crime author.

And of course we authors are bringing copies of our books, hopefully to sell some.

See Rosemary’s blog post on Moving Target today for some more details. https://rosemarymccracken.wordpress.com/2015/06/11/busy-days/

And if you are in the area, drop in at one of the locations for an evening of crime – between the book covers.

Cheers.

 

Sharon A. Crawford

Sharon A. Crawford is the author of the Beyond book series. More info at www.samcraw.com and www.bluedenimpress.com – my publisher – you can also purchase e-books – both Kindle and Kobo from Blue Denim Press. Click on the Beyond Blood Book cover at the top of this post.

 

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Serendipity Book Marketing

Sharon A. Crawford's latest in the Beyond series

Sharon A. Crawford’s latest in the Beyond series

Last Saturday I was the guest speaker for an English Conversation drop-in seminar for new Canadian citizens at a local Toronto library branch (Brentwood). From what was discussed by email with the organizers, I was to talk a bit about writing memoirs using the senses. However, I could bring copies of my mystery books to sell.

So armed with memoir writing handouts and my books I arrived early.

And received a very pleasant surprise.

I already knew one of the organizers, Bill, who attended my memoir writing workshop at another library branch. So, from our phone conversations and emails I knew of this plan he had concocted and yes, I knew he was interested in buying my books as well as others – librarians and seminar participants.

What I didn’t know was all the enthusiasm I would receive about my books and being a writer. As I’ve mentioned before, we writers sometimes forget that this is what we do (just like some people are lawyers) so we take it as second nature.

We, or at least I, never forget we do want and need to sell book copies. But I try not to be in people’s faces about it.

The whole two hours was all about my books – characters and plot – and writing, but with a twist. The participants are newly-arrived in Canada and their English varies from good to just learning. Part of these seminars’ focus is on the idiosyncrasies of the English language. So when a slang phrase or cliché came up, Anna the librarian or Bill would ask the others if they knew what it meant so that started a lively discussion. I caught on to this and started to do the same as for some reason I began involuntarily using a lot of slang terms. And near the end I was allowed to sell my books – sold all of the Beyond the Tripping Point short story collection copies I had brought along and half of the Beyond Blood novel copies.

And Bill, Anna (and Lidia, the other librarian who also facilitated this session) want me back to do a guest spot in one of their evening sessions. Not sure if its fiction writing or memoir writing, but I will be ready for either or both and yes, I can sell books.

Lidia also had me sign the contract to teach a different memoir writing workshop for library patrons in the fall. And yes, I can sell books then, too.

The point here is – no matter how you organize promoting your books, you may miss something – often something pleasant and rewarding – not just book sales, but that magical connection with others who are interested in writing and your books.

Meantime I’m preparing for two gigs with other Crime Writers of Canada members coming up June 11 and June 12. See my website www.samcraw.com and go to Beyond Blood for a list. More on that in next week’s posting.

Cheers.

 

Sharon A. Crawford

Sharon A. Crawford is the author of the Beyond book series. More info at www.samcraw.com and www.bluedenimpress.com – my publisher – you can also purchase e-books – both Kindle and Kobo from Blue Denim Press. Click on the Beyond Blood Book cover at the top of this post.

 

 

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