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Monthly Archives: July 2015

Criminals and historical figures on CWC panel

Sharon A. Crawford's latest in the Beyond series

Sharon A. Crawford’s latest in the Beyond series

The bad guys and history guys weren’t there in person. But five of us from Crime Writers of Canada – Rosemary McCracken, Steve Burrows, Sylvia Warsh, Nate Hendley and I told tales of crossing paths with the above and more in our research to write that perfect mystery novel or true crime story.

Rosemary moderated the panel which gave me a breather from that function so I would just have to show up and answer questions. But apparently I had trouble finding the Fairview library branch, or rather the exit from Fairview Mall, where I had to run a few errands first (like glasses cleaner, very important to be able to see through your glasses to read from your books). And I’ve been at this library before and had no trouble then going from the mall across the parking lot to the library. This time I couldn’t find the right exit or even the right level of the mall. Finally I asked at the Guest Service booth.

We had a good audience turnout. Rosemary got us panelists talking and the stories that came out. Sylvia’s Dr. Rebecca Temple mysteries are set in 1979 Toronto, but Find Me Again also goes back in time to Catherine the Great. She did most of her research on the Internet. You can’t exactly interview Catherine the Great. Nate, who writes about true crime (Crystal Death), has met the criminal element – bikers and the like. Rosemary, whose protagonist Pat Tierney is a financial advisor (Safe Harbor), writes about finances as a journalist, so has information and connections there. Steve writes the Birder mysteries (A Siege of Bitterns), so birding features in his novels (Steve is a birder), but he had to do some police research. My Beyond books (Beyond Blood) are set in the late 1990s (so far, the third one I’m working on goes into the twenty-first century). As mentioned in last week’s blog post (https://sharonacrawfordauthor.com/2015/07/23/researching-mid-stream-for-your-novel/), I have a police consultant and have to keep any police procedure in that time period. I also have to be careful with technical devices. No social media. Internet connection was via dial-up until late fall 1999, cellphones were just that and they folded closed and had antennae. But there was email and that figures in my Beyond books. In this third one I write, I may have to talk to a psychic, so that should be interesting.

We also read excerpts from our books and answered questions on marketing your book.

Authors and audience connected so well, we had to be reminder by the librarian that it was time to leave.

In August I take a break from actual gigs. So will be spending more time researching and writing that third Beyond book. With a bit of final arrangements for fall presentations and readings. It promises to be a busy fall. Check out the Gigs and Blog Tours page on this blog and also my website http://www.samcraw.com/ for updates as I get them in there.

Meantime, the photo at the top of this post still connects to where you can get e-copies of Beyond Blood and Beyond the Tripping Point. Print copies available (among other places) at https://www.chapters.indigo.ca/en-ca/home/search/?keywords=Beyond%20blood%20and%20Sharon%20A.%20Crawford

Cheers.

Sharon A. Crawford

 

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Researching mid-stream for your novel

Sharon A. Crawford's latest in the Beyond series

Sharon A. Crawford’s latest in the Beyond series

I just finished a draft of the first part of my newest Beyond novel. As usual I am juggling several balls with plots and characters and inconsistencies, and again as usual, I need to do more research. I’ll deal with the juggling act and inconsistencies in another blog post. But today, briefly I’ll go into the research part.

Yes, I have covered research previously, but it is important in fiction writing. If you mess up, readers will find the mistakes. Some of them get very picky with details. One reader chided me for using a BlackBerry and not an IPhone in one of my short stories in Beyond the Tripping Point. She was reading the book when Blackberry was having financial difficulties (the first time), just before the big changeover in their executives. Beyond the Tripping Point came out in October 2012, so the story she was referring to, “Missing in Action” was written before that (April and May 2012).

Which brings me to my first point for research: make sure your details are accurate with the time-line you are writing in. Especially important if you are writing historical fiction (mystery, romance or other). Even going back a few years as my current novel Beyond Blood and four linked stories in BTTP do, you have to get your facts straight. Beyond Blood is set in August 1998, so we have dial-up Internet connection and cell phones that are longish, narrow, have antennae and you flip them open and closed. Not to mention how police set up taping phone calls from kidnappers. My police consultant, Constable Brent Pilkey and I had a good laugh over the setup of that one.

If you are writing anything that includes police procedure, you need to do research. I have my police consultant who is very helpful. I run questions by him, sometimes including inserts from the work-in-progress so he can see what I am trying to do. Yes, I have another round of questions and excerpts to email him.

Medical info needs to be checked to get it accurate. I do both checking online at qualified sources (Mayo Clinic, for example), but also consult MDs. One, who is a former MD-turned freelance writer asked on a medical listserve she is on and forwarded the feedback to me. Now, I have a couple of MDs who specialize in what I’m looking for to consult.

These are just a few examples of research required. Depending on your novel, yours may differ.

Remember: the devil is in the details and you better get those details right or the “devil” in the form of readers will complain.

And rightly so. Readers are your audience, your book buyers.

A reminder: I’m on a panel this evening with other Crime Writers of Canada authors – Nate Hendley (true crime), Sylvia Warsh (historical mystery), Steve Burrows (winner of the Arthur Ellis first novel award 2015), Rosemary McCracken (author of the Pat Tierney mystery series and also moderating the panel. She will be asking questions about researching for your novels), and me Sharon A. Crawford (author of the Beyond mystery series). Check out the full details on my Gigs and Blog Tours page at

https://sharonacrawfordauthor.com/getting-around-with-the-beyond-blood-gang-and-friends

If you are in Toronto, feel free to drop in. We authors will also be reading from our books and book copies will be available for sale.

Meantime, the photo at the top of this post still connects to where you can get e-copies of Beyond Blood. Print copies available (among other places) at https://www.chapters.indigo.ca/en-ca/home/search/?keywords=Beyond%20blood%20and%20Sharon%20A.%20Crawford

Cheers.

Sharon A. Crawford

 

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Gigs and other book promo

Sharon A. Crawford's latest in the Beyond series

Sharon A. Crawford’s latest in the Beyond series

Gearing up for another presentation with other Crime Writers of Canada authors next week. Rosemary McCracken, Nate Hendley, Steve Burrows, and Sylvia M. Warsh and myself will descend on Fairview Library,in Toronto, Canada next Thursday, July 23. I’m being lazy this time round as Rosemary is doing the moderating honours, including coming up with some questions for us authors to reply with sizzling answers to draw in the audience. We’re also going to read a bit from our books.

Meantime I’ve been busy organizing more gigs for the Crime Writers of Canada gang. And talk about being lazy – no not shrinking back in doing there, but I am consolidating some of my book promo (and also other CWC authors) with DRUM ROLL HERE….

A new page on this blog Gigs and Blog Tours.  It features upcoming gigs, some past gigs that were memorable, blog tours and the like, with lots of photos. Check it out at https://sharonacrawfordauthor.com/getting-around-with-the-beyond-blood-gang-and-friends/.

It is an evolving page, with constant changes/additions. You never know from week to week if it will be the same.

Info on my books and gigs are still on my website, but the setup will change – once my son and I get finished creating a new website for me. This is my writing and editing and instructing website http://www.samcraw.com – old one is still up until the new one gets finished.

Meantime, the photo at the top of this post still connects to where you can get copies of Beyond Blood – e-copies and print.

Cheers.

Sharon A. Crawford

 

 

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Changing your story mid-stream

Sharon A. Crawford's latest in the Beyond series

Sharon A. Crawford’s latest in the Beyond series

As I continue writing my third Beyond mystery book, things are changing with the plot and the characters. That is the big reason why I don’t pre-plot down to the last T. Characters, like real people, change over time and that includes perspective – mine and my characters.

Yes, you read that right – my characters are changing and I’m letting them do so. The main characters of the Beyond series – fraternal twin PIs – Dana Bowman and Bast Overture, Dana’s son David and Detective Sergeant Donald Fielding – have to change and grow. If I want my characters to be real life, they can’t stagnate. This third book has to reflect consequences of what happened in Beyond Blood (the novel) and the four Bowman/Overture stories in Beyond the Tripping Point. BB takes place in summer 1998; those four stories in BTTP from May 1999 to mid-October 1999. The current Beyond book takes place from November 1999 to the beginning of January 2000.

So, I’ve been sitting at my computer almost every weekday, writing, some of the story pre-thought out, much “by-the-seat-of-my-pants.” At the end of the day’s work I type up a few notes about what to cover the next day – not that I will stick exactly to it.

Something just wasn’t working out. I do choose who the murder is before I get going on a novel. But the who and the whys just weren’t making sense here. And there would be some similarities to Beyond Blood. I’m supposed to be continuing the characters’ stories, not copying them.

So, on Tuesday I woke up brainstorming and later put down some changes in writing. Yes, I changed the who-dunnit and of course the why. This made sense and provides a real twist in the story. The other person who I had pegged for the murderer will not be lily-white and will figure into the plot line – not just as a red-herring, but also in a subplot that ties in with the main plotline. I love complicated. And yes there are more twists and turns going on.

But I’m not telling what. I just might change my mind. Or the characters might.

Sometimes I wonder just who is writing this novel.

And it’s not just me that thinks that. When I was interviewed about Beyond Blood a few months ago on the Liquid Lunch for thatchannel.com, one of the interviewers, Sandra Kyrzakos, said I was channelling my characters. Perhaps she is right. See for yourself at https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=i2bBaePIWgY&feature=youtu.be

 

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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E-book sales inconsistent

Sharon A. Crawford's latest in the Beyond series

Sharon A. Crawford’s latest in the Beyond series

The stats are in. E-book sales are down, at least for traditional trade publishers. Yet some authors are beating the odds. What exactly is happening here? Weren’t e-books supposed to be the new book sales venue, the one readers gravitated towards?

First, a few statistics.

From Publisher’s Weekly:

“One reason for the 2014 decline in revenue and earnings was also a drop in digital sales. E-books accounted for 23.2% of S&S sales last year, down from 24.4% in 2013. Total digital revenue, which includes downloadable audio, generated 26.4% of revenue, down from 27.1% in 2013.” (See http://techcrunch.com/2015/03/03/publisher-revenues-down-as-ebook-buying-slows/

and

http://www.publishersweekly.com/pw/by-topic/industry-news/financial-reporting/article/65592-sales-earnings-fell-at-s-s-in-2014.html

Publishing pundits are blaming the decline partly on self-published books (the other is lack of block-buster books published). So… what about Indie published books? As self-publishing becomes more acceptable is this really hard to comprehend? And traditional book publishers only publish so many books each year – a lot has to do with their funds. In Canada, some rely on government grants.

Having said that, some small trade publishers such as my own Blue Denim Press, and Imajin Books in Western Canada, still manage to keep publishing (and we hope they continue to do so). Some of that is by going outside the usual trade publishing box. Both keep their “print run” down by going the Print on Demand route. My e-book sales were also down too the past year. But from what I can see from my royalty and royalty statement, and what I sell on my own at readings, etc., the print copies of my mystery fiction books are up slightly from the previous year. I don’t know if this is partly because I now have two books published with Blue Denim Press. What I do know is for the first time Blue Denim Press published a new book (complete with launch and all the promotion with that) this spring – not mine, but an anthology, Hill Spirits II. Blue Denim Press have been in business since 2011. See www.bluedenimpress.com for more info.

And why am I mentioning Imajin, another small Canadian trade publisher? Because one of their mystery fiction authors, Rosemary McCracken, was their top-selling e-book author for May 2015 for her mystery novel Safe Harbor. See Rosemary’s blog, Moving Target at https://rosemarymccracken.wordpress.com/2015/06/29/bestseller/.

As Rosemary states, Safe Harbor was published three years ago.

That should tell us something.

A few of those somethings are both author and publisher have to get out there (online and in person) to promote their books – a lot. And try new things. Both publishers and authors have to be flexible. The publishing industry is going through many changes. As some pundits have pointed out, the publishing industry is where the music industry was a few years ago.

And we know how Indie music has helped musicians – many we would not have heard of otherwise. And we music appreciators would have missed out on some excellent music.

Maybe the larger trade publishers need to take note, be more flexible, and go along for the ride.

We cannot go back.

My toonie’s worth anyway.

What do you think? 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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