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Monthly Archives: December 2015

Beyond Blood characters wish you Happy New Year

Sharon A. Crawford channelling Dana Bowman from Beyond Blood

Sharon A. Crawford channelling Dana Bowman from Beyond Blood

Sharon A. Crawford has asked us to step in and wish you a happy new year. But before we do that, we – Dana Bowman and Bast Overture from Beyond Blood would like to sum up this year from our perspective between the book covers.

Dana: It’s been a good year for both of us, me especially as Sharon is channelling me, or so she says. But really it is me jumping out of the book, going in front of an audience and telling what I think of Sharon, her writing and some of her quirks. She really seems to have a thing about short people and making me three inches shorter than her? But she really gets me – my impulsiveness, sticking my nose in everybody else’s business…

Bast: She is a former journalist and that’s what journalists do.

Dana: You should know. You are a former crime reporter.

Bast: True. But Sis, you really need to get over this short height thing. Not even an issue.

Dana: You should talk. You’re 6’3″ I don’t think Sharon will ever channel you on stage.

Bast: Maybe not, but I’ve heard a writer friend of hers is interested in doing this.

Dana: Really. Actually that should be interesting. We can then both dis Sharon.

Bast: Why not just talk about how she writes with us?

Dana: Yes, she does do that, but it’s more fun to talk about her quirks.

Bast: Now, Sis, I don’t think that is a good idea.

Dana: Why not?

Bast: We shouldn’t bite the hand that feeds us.

Dana: Shouldn’t that be the other way around?

Sharon: Dana, Bast, stop! I asked you to extend a Happy New Year to all, not get into a sibling squabble. But I get it. You both were born December 31, so maybe that is behind all this. You know getting a year older.

Dana: Which year?

Sharon: Let’s just focus on this year going into next year. Now, all together…

Dana, Bast, Sharon: Happy New Year to everyone. May you write and read a lot and most of all be healthy and prosperous.

 

Cheers.

Sharon, Dana, Bast

 

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Beyond Blood another book review on Goodreads

Hi all:

Sharon A. Crawford's latest in the Beyond series

Sharon A. Crawford’s latest in the Beyond series

Another review of Beyond Blood, this time by literary novelist Christopher Caniff, has been posted to my Goodreads account. Here’s the review and some links afterwards.

 

Sharon Crawford’s latest novel Beyond Blood is a story of murder, kidnapping, fraud, and abortion with a varied cast of characters led by an undercover security guard at Toronto’s Thurston Mini-Mall, Dana Bowman. To call this book a simple murder mystery would not initiate an expectation of this plot’s complexity. When Dana plans to start the Attic Investigative Agency in August of 1998 with her fraternal twin, Bast Overture (a former crime reporter), a series of events unfold which begin with a mall kidnapping, two others having occurred recently at other malls in Toronto, and the abduction of Dana’s son David at the agency’s opening ceremony. David’s babysitter Debbie Sangwell is found lifeless with a knife in her back. Dana leaves her job at the mall to work with police detectives Harker and Fielding and investigate the murder, as well as a seemingly unrelated string of burglaries, and in the process to find her son.

Frustrating and complicating her search are the Mini-Mall merchants Lois and Ray Chalmers, Dana’s ex-husband Ronald, her ex-lover Gordon Lambton, and her Great Aunt Doris. The loss of two of her friends and her aunt also cause difficulties as Dana continues to seek to elucidate the reason for all of the apparently unconnected events occurring around her. A television reporter, Charles Haas, is ever-present and confronts Dana and Bast about the burglaries and kidnappings. There are ransom demands made by the kidnappers as enquiries into a past hit-and-run become important.

As she progresses in her increasingly emotional exploration for answers to her son’s whereabouts, her past job becomes significant and illuminates information she would not have otherwise obtained. As Bast knew, “Dana was the one who wore her emotions on her sleeve. He was the twin who held it in.” This is shown throughout the novel and becomes central during confrontations both on land and, toward the end of the novel, on the water at Snow Lake Harbour.

The novel is told with the alternating first person viewpoint of Dana, and the third person stories of Bast, David, and the mysterious “him” produce a complex weaving of interrelationships that enriches the world these characters populate. While I do not normally read this genre, I would recommend this novel to both seasoned mystery readers and novices alike.

 

Thanks you Christopher. Here is the link to our Goodreads pages

Sharon A. Crawford

Christopher Caniff

Wishing all of you a Merry Christmas or whatever you celebrate and a good 2016 with lots of writing.

Cheers.

Sharon A. Crawford

The book cover at the top links to Beyond Blood and Beyond the Tripping and my author profile on amazon.com

 

 

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Act like a journalist to do research for your novel

Sharon A. Crawford's latest in the Beyond series

Sharon A. Crawford’s latest in the Beyond series

Three and a half years ago I finally stopped being a journalist. Or so I thought.

The journalistic writing may have stopped, but something stayed, something carried over to my fiction writing. My research skills, including my interviewing skills and more important the realization that even with fiction you need to seek out the experts for some aspects of your novel besides the craft of writing fiction. Most novels contain something else – perhaps medical conditions, perhaps police procedure, perhaps court procedure, perhaps historical information, perhaps socio-economic conditions, perhaps geographic information. The list goes on and on.

So as I write my novels, this research necessity is always in the back of my mind. Coupled with readers’ intelligence and knack to find anything off in my novel, I make notes in brackets in the manuscript about getting more info. I even do separate files with lists of what I need to find and where I could get it.

Some, of course can be found on the Internet. Mr. Google is very helpful. So are books on the subject. But some more specifics may need that personal expert.  In the last few years when I did a story for a magazine – print and/or online, and I needed information, I did the list of online links for information as well as indicating where a person was necessary. Sometimes there would be someone mentioned in these links; other times not. Then I used my other writing connections – sometimes posting on a listserve I belonged to – sometimes directly to a contact who might have this info.

I have received some good sources that way including a source who decided he could play guinea pig to be interviewed because he had been involved as victim in the crime. (Yes, this was a story about crime).

Other times I’ve found sources at writing or other conferences – either others attending or a speaker. So I talked to them, let them know what I was doing, and asked if I could interview them.

Usually they could help including letting me interview them.

Sometimes just random conversations with friends lead to sources and sometimes they were the source. Other times it worked for story ideas. That can work for fiction story ideas but that’s for another post.

Another good source is your public library and sometimes it is better to go right to the library, especially if there is a reference library branch. Stacks of books that you can’t find elsewhere and you can’t borrow can be found there – for in-library checking. And don’t forget the knowledgeable librarians. University libraries can also be of great help.

Just remember that because you write fiction, you have to include some facts. You wouldn’t want to have your main character holidaying today in a country using the country’s former name? If you set your story during a war, you definitely want to get your facts right about places and dates.  Leave no (research) stone unturned.

Which reminds me – I need to talk to a medical doctor who specializes in concussions for the novel I’m currently writing. I have taken the first few steps, the Internet, books, and getting some contacts from a former medical doctor turned journalist.

Your publisher may catch some or raise questions about others, but what if you are self-publishing your novel? Either way, you the author are responsible. Get your facts right. Act like a journalist but write like a novelist.

Cheers.

Sharon A. Crawford

The book cover at the top links to Beyond Blood on Amazon.com

 

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Finding time to write in the Christmas season

Sharon A. Crawford's latest in the Beyond series

Sharon A. Crawford’s latest in the Beyond series

No doubt you are all rushing around getting Christmas presents, wrapping them, going to Christmas parties or even holding a Christmas party, planning Christmas dinner including shopping for the Christmas bird. Then there will be all the Christmas Day family get togethers and afterwards the Boxing Day Sale. And don’t forget all those Christmas movies on TV.

Not that we all do all of these things. But Christmas can get us into quite a frenzy.

So, where and how with all of that going on, do you find time to write (or rewrite) that novel or short story (or short stories)?

It can be done, although with all that’s been happening at my end, it might be better to follow what I write here, rather  than what I do – at least until after this Friday.

Besides some of the above nonsense, I’ve had two dentist visits brought on by an emergency. Scratch two weekday afternoons to write my novel. Tomorrow afternoon I have to go the Christmas Market at Toronto’s Distillery. I used to go on weekends when that was the only time it was open. Now they are charging to get in on weekends. The $5 admission doesn’t bother me – it’s the long line-ups to get in weekends with tickets – you can buy them online.

A writer friend who lives in the area has let some of us writers know about those long lineups and the noise (well, she is living in the area – for those of us just visiting, we hopefully can tolerate the noise factor for a bit of time). Last year there were long line-ups to get in, but I snuck in another way around the corner and found it wasn’t as crowded as it seemed from outside the main entrance.

I doubt if I can do that this year – so I have to go on a weekday afternoon. Have to get my hand-crafted Christmas fudge (some of it becomes Christmas presents), and a few other things. It is also interesting to just look and absorb the old-fashioned Christmas market.

And hey, maybe it can be incorporated into a short story. Probably not the current novel I’m writing as my Beyond mystery series occur the end of the 1990s and into the millennium and the Distillery Christmas Market only started five years or so ago. But one can always fictionalize. And I do have this third Beyond book taking place in November and December.

So, besides using the incentive of your Christmas events to write, how can you make time to write?

Don’t set up times when you usually would write. Be creative. For example, I have made it a practice to take weekends off from writing (unless part of a workshop I’m attending). This Sunday afternoon I plan to write for a few hours. it’s going to rain anyway. That will take care of time taken off tomorrow afternoon for the Christmas market. Still haven’t worked in the time off for dental visits.

Also, you can just look at the time you actually have to spend with Christmas and Christmas-related stuff. Can you shorten, combine or delete some? And I don’t mean deleting the family Christmas dinner. But how many trips do you have to make to Christmas shop? Consider combining places to shop that are close together – if you just have to go in person. Or shop online. Or combine. Many places you can view the item online and pre-order it to have it ready for pick-up when you arrive at the store. I don’t recommend this latter one as it means you have to use a credit card and that means paying the piper in January or February depending on your credit card statement date.

There is another way – some stores (Canadian Tire is one) where you can search at their site for particular items. check them out and then go to the store’s branch online and see if the item is there (and how many) as well as what aisle they are in. Note: make sure you do this just before you leave or the item might be gone.

There are other shopping alternatives such as getting a lot of gift cards from one or two stores, using the old-fashioned catalogue shopping by phoning in your order from the print catalogue.

And record those Christmas movies on TV.

Just some suggestions for making time to write. Again, remember you don’t have to write in your usual time or day. We are creative writers and shouldn’t have problems creating time to write.

Just keep toes crossed there are no family and/or health emergencies. For the latter I have a writer friend, who was slightly injured in a car accident. Fortunately his laptop was not damaged, so he sat up in the gurney (even at the hospital) and wrote more of his latest short story.

That’s being creative.

What are your ideas for saving time at Christmas so you can write?

Cheers.

Sharon

The book cover at the top links to Beyond Blood on Amazon.com

 

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Book promo through acting?

Sharon A. Crawford channelling Dana Bowman from Beyond Blood

Sharon A. Crawford channellng Dana Bowman from Beyond Blood

If you are a published author, you might want to try something else besides reading from your book to entertain and possibly sell book copies.

When I present with three or four other Crime Writers of Canada authors, we don’t just stand there and read. We have found that reading only bores the audience and we don’t really connect with them. So, we get a lively panel discussion going with one of us moderating. Sometimes we have prepared questions which we all answer – or some variation of the questions when we have true crime and fiction writers. Sometimes we each take turns talking about something connected to our writing – maybe writing series novels, research for true crime books. In both setups we welcome lots of questions from the audience.

And that gets the lively discussions going and what you have is writers and readers connecting.

Some of us venture out into more creative outlets. I know one crime writer who has actors play out scenes from her books. Another one has conducted mystery tours in Toronto. And I have started acting (in my old age, no less, portraying someone 25 years younger than me).

As mentioned in last week’s post, I now do brief skits, dressed up as my main Beyond Blood character Dana Bowman. In most of the scenarios – and I do vary them each time – Dana disses me, her author. That can include some quirky personal habits and writing habits. Dana, of course, claims to write her novels. But she does give me credit for getting her character down pat. I take a humorous tone and keep it to 10 minutes.

So far, i.e., two times it has gone over very well. One person in the audience (also a writer) said that my character just jumped out of the book. And the editor at my publisher’s was so enthused, he and I are planning on doing skits together starting in spring 2016.

And yes, it helps sell books.

Maybe I’m a ham at heart. Seriously, it might be a good idea for you to do something else besides read to promote your books. Do something unexpected; catch your audience off guard and at the same time connect with them.

I do one more Dana skit this year, tomorrow, Dec. 4, 2015 for a fundraiser for Syrian Refugees. Here is the blurb for that one.

This is a reminder of our upcoming Lifeline Syria Fundraiser.
Writers, musicians, and actors across Toronto are joining forces to raise money for Lifeline Syria (the Toronto-based grassroots organization helping to sponsor l,000 Syrian refugees).
There will be a silent auction including tickets to Soulpepper, spa passes, books, and lunch with Camilla Gibb.
Middle Eastern appetizers and desserts will be available on a pay what you can basis.
Details: Date: Dec 4Time: 6:30pm-l0:00pmLocation: Friends House, 60 Lowther Ave (Avenue Rd/Bloor) Cost: $l0.00

Cheers.

Sharon

 

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