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Author Archives: Sharon A. Crawford

About Sharon A. Crawford

Sharon A.Crawford is a writer/editor/instructor and sometime actor who makes words sparkle. Her debut mystery novel was published Fall 2014 and her short story collection Beyond the Tripping Point in October 2012, both published by Blue Denim Press. Blue Denim Press published her third beyond mystery Beyond Faith, October 2017. She is currently at work on the fourth Beyond book. Visit her at her website www.samcraw.com and her author blog https://sharonacrawfordauthor.com/

Creative Nonfiction intersecting with memoir and fiction?

I’m teaching a new writing workshop called Memoir as Creative Nonfiction. Although both are nonfiction and therefore must be truthful or as Lee Gutkind’s book stays You Can’t Make this Stuff Up. But you can use fiction techniques (emphasis on “techniques”) to tell your true story. Mr. Gutkind should know – he has been dubbed the Godfather of Creative Nonfiction.

As this blog primarily focuses on fiction writing, I’m going to give a brief look at this technique.

Let’s suppose you are writing a book about your parents emigrating to Canada or to the United States in whatever year they did so. Remembering that you must tell the truth (at least as best as you remember it and your research backs you up). Maybe you are a journalist and so you deal with facts. Truth is important in newspaper, magazine (print or online) stories too. And yes I know that’s not always the way they are written. So using your journalism background you do your research on how and when your parents emigrated. Yes, you interview your parents (let’s presume they are stlll both living)  for their story, but you do some online research for perhaps the boat they came across on. What was going on in the country they came from, etc.  All good…until  you start writing your story which you write something like this:

My parents were born in Germany in World War 11 – my father in 1936 and my mother in 1937. My mother was Jewish and along with her  parents and two siblings, was sent to a concentration camp in Poland in 1943. Her older brother didn’t survive. At the end of the war the Allies freed her parents from the concentration camp. Because of their ordeal, they decided to emigrate to Canada.

Boring!. Methinks the author is hiding her parents story behind her journalism. It doesn’t even make an interesting magazine story.

How did her parents, particularly her mother, feel about living during World War 11 in Germany? What was their life like – in the  eyes of a young child? How did she feel about losing a brother in such horrific circumstances? (research can be used to back up fact – for example dates, location.) So many questions that can be answered by writing like it was fiction, i.e., use dialogue, suspense, literary techniques like metaphor and simile and make her mother and father appear real – e.g. how did they feel? The writer has talked to her parents for goodness sake.

As this is someone else’s story,  I’m not going to rewrite it for you. But I’ll give a brief example from my memoir in the works and true stories based on it.

Here’s one which is somewhat self-explanatory.

Stuck firmly in this unknown, like a fly to flypaper, was Dad’s cancer, (From Don’t Look Down,”  copyright 2018 Sharon A. Crawford)of

And here’s the beginning of my recounting of a disturbing incident in the middle of the night. I was eight at the time.

One late night, loud pounding on the front door wakes Mom, Dad and me. Like the servant heeding the master, we all trip out to the front entrance. Mother turns on the veranda light and yanks the door open.

 “Do you know this man?” A police officer stands on our veranda. His right hand supports the shoulder of a dishevelled man.

“Uh, home,” the man says.

The stench of his breath assaults my nostrils and I jump back behind Mom, then peek out. The man’s oily black hair lies flat. Night shadow and red blotches compete for attention on his face. He is bare from his neck to his dark trousers. Looking closer, I see blood dribbling down from a deep slice on his left cheek onto his chest. His eyes look bloodshot and vague. A black mass is stamped above his left eye.

“Home?” he asks again.

“Sharon, go back to bed,” Dad says. “This is not for little girls.”  (From Deconstructing My Demons, copyright 2018 Sharon A. Crawford)

You can see some of the fiction techniques used – dialogue, the characters  and some of what they were like – real people, my inner thoughts and feelings, and use of the senses such as hearing (both dialogue and the pounding on the door) and lots of visual.

So it’s not fiction. It is memoir. Is it also creative nonfiction?

My workshop will reveal all – at least as much as can be done in one and a half hours including discussion with participants and a short writing exercise.

Here are the details for the workshop.

Memoir as Creative Nonfiction

Can memoir be creative non-fiction? In this workshop, author and editor Sharon A. Crawford will explore the many forms of Creative Non-fiction and Memoir and how they can intersect. Excerpts from published works will be used to start a discussion. Through writing exercises, participants will get the chance to begin their own creative non-fiction memoir and get a quick critique. Free.

Call 416-396-3975 to register.

Location: S. Walter Stewart Library, 170 Memorial Park Avenue, Toronto, Ontario Canada

Date and Time: Tuesday, October 16, 2018, 2 p.m. to 3.30 p.m.

And here’s a photo of my late Mom and Dad, who did not emigrate to Canada, but our ancestors did in the 1800s.

 

Cheers.

Sharon A. Crawford

author of the Beyond Mystery series and also memoir.

 

 

 

 

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Crime Beat Confidential features Nate Hendley

Nate Hendley true crime writer

Recently taped Episode 2 of Crime Beat Confidential my TV show on thatchannel.com. My guest was Nate Hendley, a true crime writer whose latest book The Boy on the Bicycle is creating a lot of buzz. The book is about a little known (until now) miscarriage of justice in the mid-1950s in Toronto the (supposedly) Good. A then 14-year old teen, Ron Moffat was wrongly accused of murdering a seven-year-old boy, arrested, tried in court, found guilty and spent some time in jail before the real killer (a serial killer) was found. Now Ron joins Nate for their public presentations, including the book launch.

I met Ron at the book launch. Ron is a gentle soul who has been through a lot but he has come through on the other side of a dark tunnel. You need to read his story as told by Nate. Here is a link to Nate’s current blog post on it.

And below is a direct link to the Crime Beat Confidential TV segment on it. Private Investigator Dana Bowman, the main character in my Beyond mystery series , as usual introduces the segment, but she gets serious for a change. She is a mother, so…

I do the actual interview. You will learn a lot from Nate in this TV segment.

Dana Bowman does the Crime Beat Confidential into

 

Sharon hosting Crime Beat Confidential

 

 

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Sharon and Dana and Beyond books at Word on the Street

The latest Beyond mystery. (2017).

 

But before I talk about being there, first a word about Word on the Street (WOTS).

It’s an outdoor festival for books and magazines and much more that is related – panels of authors, author readings, author presentations, publishers, agents, magazine editors, writing organizations, children’s area, etc.

It’s currently in its third location at Harbourfront Centre, 235 Queens Quay West by Lake Ontario in Toronto, Canada

It is free to get in. But you can spend a lot (or a little) money on books, magazines and magazine subscriptions, and food

It is for readers and writers – and often that’s the same person.

It is a great place to meet other writers and readers.

It is a great family outing as well as great for individuals.

It runs this Sunday, September 23, from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m.

More info here

And at this point, the weather is supposed to be cool and sunny.

I’ll be there at two booths with my Beyond Books (see below for book titles and cover shots) and will also have flyers for  the following:

my East End Writers’ Group, which meetsvthe last Wednesday of the month (excl. Aug. and Dec.) at S. Walter Stewart Library

Another War Between Mystery Fiction and Literary Fiction Presentation I do with Michael Robert Dyet (literary short story collection Hunting Muskie, Blue Denin Press fall 2017) Oct. 23 at Annette Street Library, and

my new writing workshop, Memoir as Creative Nonfiction which I’ll be teaching Oct. 16 at S. Walter Stewart Library

And my appearances for book selling and signing at WOTS:

2 p.m. to 3.30 p.m. at the Crime Writers of Canada booth

4 p.m. to 5 p.m. at the Sisters in Crime Toronto booth

Before that I’ll be checking out a few other booths. As for Private Investigator Dana Bowman from the Beyond books – she thinks she will be running around there, but we’ll see about that.

Speaking of the Beyond books – here they are:

Short story collection (2012)

The third Beyond book (2014)

 

The third Beyond mystery (2017)

 

See you there.

Cheers.

Sharon A. Crawford

 

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Time Management for Writers – a new take?

I have about reached my wits end about something most authors face at some time. Time, or rather the lack of it to write. The culprits include dealing with house issues, crap shoved at me (read stupid mistakes) by others – individuals and organizations but I have to deal with it (or some of it) at my end. And what is the bane of many of us today – too damn much to do.

I am living in overwhelm and I am fed up with it.

So, I’ve decided on a major overhaul of well, my life. To provide inspiration and ideas I am reading the new book The One Thing: the Surprisingly Simple Truth Behind Extraordinary results by Gary Keller with Jay Papasan. Reading it in increments both because of my time and to absorb and try some of the ideas. The jury is out so far on how effective it will be. But right now I am focusing on focusing on the most important thing in my life – writing.

That one was a no-brainer. i knew that, so why was I letting all the crap, including spending too much time on too much business-related email (and that doesn’t include personal emails) , I now set  a imer for doing email in the morning and when it goes off, the  idea is to just finish whatever email I’m doing and then the rest can go to you know where, for now. If something time sensitive comes in (like an author gig that needed a yes or no right away) I will do a quick email reply at some point in the day. I am still having trouble getting distracted, one of the problems mentioned in The One Thing.

Writing (as does other one thing’s people focus on and the book also  mentions) can spawn many branches and for me that includes teaching writing workshops (and all that involves) , editing client’s stories and book manuscripts, doing PR for Beyond Faith, doing more revisions in the current book I am writing and running my East End Writers’ Group.

It also involves me dealing with some bad habits such as:

Not getting enough sleep at night, mainly because…

I end up doing household crap late at night. That has to stop.

Watching TV too late. Stopping after the news and weather at 11.35 p.m. should be it with time to get ready for bed and off to sleep at a reasonable time so I can get seven to seven and a half hour’s sleep instead of the bare five to five and a half hours I’m currently getting. Maybe then I can remember receiving my new credit card in the mail – yes, I found it where I usually put these things and still in the unopened envelope. BUT I HAVE NO MEMORY  OF EVEN RECEIVING IT. So I even wasted time phoning the credit card company to find out if they had even sent it too me.

Like the book says, I have to do less each day and focus more on what I do – writing and some of its branches (see above). And take great pleasure in deleting stuff or at the very least putting it beyond the back burner.

Things like answering emails that aren’t urgent (business or personal), personal phone calls (limited to outside writing time and I think I will have to sit with a timer for my overly chatty friends). I do have vm so people can leave a message.

Things like trying to narrow down how many grocery and related errands I do – not easy when you don’t have a car and don’t drive, and many of your friends don’t either and those that do drive don’t offer to take you grocery shopping so you can get most if not all of it done in one go. Public transit can be good, but there is only so much you can cart onto a bus at one time.

Things like prioritizing the house stuff (unless an emergency), especially the big one that has been taking up a lot of my time and interfering with my health.

Yes, all the stress of worrying and trying to get too much done will hit us in our most vulnerable health areas.

As for actual writing time – that gets penned in (as opposed to penciled in) on my calendar and I’ve been taking the position that it gets done come hell or high water or unnecessary interruptions. Whether telemarketers (phone) or religious people banging on my door, they can all well, you know take the high road to hell.

Or should that be the low road?

How I feel about pesky interruptions to my writing and client work

Now, back to my writing – time to do an hour of book promo for Beyond Faith and then a lunch break. Maybe some of the crap in my life can be dealt with at lunchtime – or one problem.

Happy writing.

Cheers.

Sharon

The latest Beyond mystery.

 

 

 

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Book Promo by Serendipity

The latest Beyond mystery.

I have learned that just having a Marketing Plan to promote my Beyond mystery books (and following it, even) is not always the most lucrative way to do it. The late great John Lennon was right when he said “Life is what happens to you when you are busy making other plans.” And so it has been happening with me lately.

In late July I was in the thatchannel.com  studio,  or rather the main character, PI Dana Bowman, in my Beyond mystery books was being interviewed on the weekly Liquid Lunch show. Three people interviewed Dana – the show’s host, Hugh Reilly and two authors – Jen Frankel (genre fiction) and Dave Boyle (literary fiction). Both Jen and Dave passed along to me a couple of places to do author presentations. And Dave even took it one step further – getting it in motion. This one is that joint presentation literary author Michael Robert Dyet (author of the short story collection Hunting Muskie) and I do – The War Between Mystery Fiction and Literary Fiction. After much to-ing and fro-ing on my part with Dave and the librarian, Michael and I are now scheduled to do our presentation at the Annette Street Library branch in the west end of Toronto, 6.30 p.m., Tuesday, October 23. And we can bring book copies to sell. If you want to see some photos from this presentation we did the end of June at the S. Walter Stewart library branch, visit my website here.

Jen suggested an east end Toronto advertising company that has author readings and emailed me the info afterwards. I still have to follow-up on that one.

Perhaps the most serendipitous one is with my neighbour, Bob. Bob is a retiree who with his wife, Norma Jean, now collects wine and pop bottles and donates the money he gets for them to local kids’ sports leagues for their uniforms and equipment. So he gets my few empty wine bottles when he comes by with his buggy. We also chat then. A month or so ago he told me about another neighbour who would be doing a cable TV show interviewing local people doing interesting unusual things and he was going to be a guest. So, I piped in about being a published mystery author and he jumped in and asked questions about that. Turns out he and his wife are big mystery fiction readers and have a huge collection of books. He asked me about mine and where they could get copies.

So, since then he has bought a copy of all three of the Beyond books from me – this month. The local TV show hasn’t started yet, but who knows…

And Monday some of my cousins came to visit Toronto for the day. We are all avid gardeners so went to the Toronto Botanical Gardens and then came back to my place to see my garden. Then we went to dinner at a local restaurant. It was there that I mentioned Beyond Faith – as they hadn’t been able to come to the Book launch for it last fall. Two of them who are big mystery readers wanted to buy a copy, so it was back to my place for them to do so before they headed for home.

That’s five Beyond books sold this month that was not part of my marketing plan.

Sometimes it is good to give serendipity a chance.

Hey, we writers have story ideas come to us from wherever. Why not let book sales come to us some of the time?

The only thing we have to do is mention our books unless like with the Liquid Lunch show the info is already part of what is going on.

And if you want to find out about the upcoming (so far) Beyond gigs go here and scroll down  and a workshop I’m teaching called “Memoir as Creative Nonfiction” – which has nothing do with mystery writing, go here.

I’m not the “M and M” lady for nothing (and I don’t mean those scrumptious chocolate and peanut butter candies, but Mystery and Memoir – that’s what I write)

And here’s the link to that Liquid Lunch segment where Dana Bowman appeared. thatchannel.com does have it on its website, but this You Tube link is quicker.

Cheers.

Sharon

 

PI Dana Bowman guests on Liquid Lunch

 

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Putting your writing out there – whatever way

sharon at CWC Arthur Ellis short list Marilyn Kay photo

We. all have to start somewhere to get our writing out there – first for publishing and then to promote the published work. Both can involve some reading in public. But getting out of our comfort zone of behind our laptop, Ipad, etc. isn’t easy at first. Our “audience” might not like our work. They might say rude things about it – like “don’t give up your day job soon.” They might not get what we are writing. Or maybe deep inside there is a fear of …not failure, but success.

Oh sure, I can say that easily, you think. I, who do live skits and TV shows featuring Dana Bowman, my author readings – alone or with other authors, which come across more as acting then reading. I who teach writing workshops and courses. I, who approach venues to do some of the aforementioned. And let’s not forget my 35 years as a freelance journalist which required much story pitching.

Dana Bowman does the into

It’s that last phrase that is important. Not the 35 years, but the years of experience. Maybe being a senior has something to do with it, too. Where you know your life length is ticking away so you (or I do) tend to take some chances you wouldn’t maybe do otherwise. I also am known as a big mouth – not just having a loud voice. I say what I mean and sometimes I’m blunt. Taking after my late mother? Maybe, but as I said, age can make a difference.

But it was not always this way and I’m not referring to age. Let me give some examples.

When I was 20 I began submitting short stories to magazines. One editor, of a now defunct magazine wrote a note back about one story “This isn’t a short story; this is an incident.”

I was so incensed, so upset that I gave up writing short stories for years.

But I didn’t give up writing. I just switched – to journalism, which I had been interested in anyway. I took many journalism courses at what is now Ryerson University in Toronto and at Seneca Community College. After the Seneca course in 1976, where every student in the course got published somewhere on their own merits and with good suggestions from the instructor), I started pitching stories to local newspapers

Not without trepidation. My first story pitch was about a local noisy ratepayers group.My then husband had to stand by me at the phone while I called and talked to the editor. When the editor said to “send the story” I got a little brave and mentioned that I had sent him a humorous personal essay and he said he would check it.

Both were published as were many more. And after those two, for journalism stories I just pitched the idea first. Personal essays, like fiction, you usually write first and pitch after. I also moved along to other local newspapers – at the request of their editors. So I wrote a weekly community news column for first one newspaper and then another.

But that didn’t go smoothly all the time. For the first one, the editor forgot to tell the current community news columnist that she was fired. She found out when I called her in her capacity as spokesperson for a community group for info. Oops.

At this newspaper I really messed up. Six months after I started writing my column , the editor of another newspaper asked me if I wanted to switch and write a similar column for them. Although the pay was higher, I declined out of loyalty to the first paper, because of the short time writing the column.

The following year the first newspaper gave me a raise of the princely sum of $5.00 a week. So when the “new” (as in a year and a half) columnist for newspaper no. 2 told me she was moving out of the area and so leaving the newspaper (yes, we “rivals” knew each other – covering the same events. Hey, a reporter from the first newspaper and a reporter from the second newspaper got married – they met covering town council meetings. Both became my friends and they are still married, although they each went on to different jobs and are now retired).

So I ate crow and phoned the editor at the second newspaper and said I had heard E. was leaving and I was now interested in writing the community news column for his newspaper. He gave me an appointment to go in to see him. By then my husband and I were separated – we had a preschooler son ,so there I was pushing his stroller into my interview with the editor.

I got the column and wrote it for six years until the publisher canned the column. I had also been writing community theatre reviews and feature articles. After the column went, I did some freelancing for several other local papers and then move don to the Toronto newspaper and magazine market – and other area magazines. Not all smooth sailing, which is one of my points. Like everything else in life, you get some bumps in the road. Each bump you handle adds to your experience and your confidence, although if you are like me, you still sometimes worry about it.

As for my reading, skits and TV appearances with my books, that’s from experience, too.Teaching the writing workshops helped develop confidence in front of other people.This for someone who in high school nervously took part in a class debate. Reading – I just practice before hand. Ditto the skits. And I have a little secret. I am terrible at memorizing scripts when I am acting with another person. Even on my own, I forget lines. So I improvise and make sure I have a script handy.

And the short story writing? I went back to it about 12 years ago – had some stories published in anthologies and my first Beyond mystery book, Beyond the Tripping Point (Blue Denim Press, 2012) was a collection of 13 stories.

Also to get a little practice in getting your writing out there and in reading,and some feedback, join a writing critique group. I blog about that here.

Cheers.

Sharon A,. Crawford

 

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Sharon A. Crawford hosts Crime Beat Confidential TV show

Now that I have finally taped the first segment of my TV show Crime Beat Confidential on the Internet channel thatchannel.com I have a few thoughts on doing a TV show.

First some basic info about the show.

Crime Beat Confidential is the new bi-monthly crime interview show hosted by former journalist and now mystery author Sharon A. Crawford https://samcraw.com/. The first segment opens with a short introduction by Private Investigator Dana Bowman, the main character in Sharon’s Beyond mystery series and then segues to Sharon and her guest, James G. Wigmore, a respected forensic toxicologist. Sharon and James chat about alcohol, DUIs and cannabis. James covers not only the legal aspects, but some of the caveats with the current cannabis because as James says, “Not your grandad’s weed.”

Guest James Wigmore, forensic toxicologist and author of Wigmore on Cannabis

View the show here.

The next segment will be in mid-August. Guests will be in various areas of crime – although not murderers, but not all authors either – police officers and private investigators, crime writing and reading organizations. And authors will have something interesting and unique in their books to talk about.

So, how did all this happen?

I have been interviewed by Hugh Reilly on three segments of his Liquid Lunch show (and no, he does not serve us booze) – one segment for each of my Beyond books. Shane at my publisher’s (Blue Denim Press) got me in for the first book Beyond the Tripping Point the end of October 2012 the day after hurricane remnents hit Toronto. Still raining a bit the day of taping and I missed the bullet for overnight power outages which hit houses on my street from next door.

I’m a former journalist for 35 years or so and also as it turns out I have a new interest and apparently some talent for it – acting – comedy mainly. Those of you who follow this blog know that I sometimes dress up as my main character PI Dana Bowman for author presentations. Well with Dana introducing the show segment and then me taking over doing the interview, we had to tape the first part separately to give me time to change back into me

But to back-up – the producer at thatchannel.com asked me to do a show and Crime Beat Confidential was what I came up with including a sample schedule of shows and she loved it. I had to become a member of thatchannel.com to do the show, but that’s okay as it gives me other benefits including being listed as one of their show presenters. See here and also have a member profile.

We were supposed to tape the first segment in June but one of the two guests cancelled at the last minute as she couldn’t get tine off work. They are tentatively scheduled for the August taping and I have a guest booked for the fall taping.

I don’t think I took it too seriously at first.- especially after announcing it at a Sisters In Crime meeting and then had to postpone the taping. Guess I was going on the modus operatndi of “when I see it I will believe it.” or “when it gets taped…

There were a few ups and downs like the links for my first guest and me not being included in the show. But I think that’s been fixed for future shows.

And getting from the idea stage to actually taping took longer than I expected, but “life” gets in the way.

I found the experience of taping that first show very interesting and thought it went well. My guest has experience appearing on TV before, in court, and lecturing. As mentioned, I am a former journalist (print and online) but have also had some experience with TV – cable TV – doing a few interviews and getting interviewed, but mostly working behind the camera, including operating one of the cameras. My cohort in this was in front of the camera – she has a British accent and that goes over well in an interviewer. We were both freelance writers and we collaborated in choosing guests and met with the guests before to get to know them.

So, I am really enjoying doing this TV show – and. yes it is a way to promote my Beyond mystery books, but I get to. interview all these interesting people and learn something. And PI Dana Bowman gets out from between the book covers and well, rant a little as she does the brief introduction.

Again view the show here.

What do you think?

Anyone else using TV to promote their book? How did it go?

Dana Bowman does the into

 

Cheers.

Sharon

 

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