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Category Archives: Blog Tours and Guest Blogging

Word on the Street for Writers and Readers

The latest Beyond book in the series

The latest Beyond book in the series

The annual Word on the Street (WOTS) Festival is coming up this Sunday, September 25 in Toronto. WOTS has been running since 1990  when it first began on Queen St. West in Toronto, Ontario, Canada. Since then it has added locations such as Vancouver, British Columbia, Kitchener, Ontario, and Halifax, Nova Scotia. This year the date for all locations is no longer the same date, so Halifax and Saskatoon were last weekend, but Lethbridge, Alberta is this Saturday, September 24 and Toronto is this Sunday, September 25. WOTS has also changed the Toronto festival location twice – first to Queens Park by the Ontario Parliament buildings in downtown Toronto and then last year to the newly upgraded. renovated Toronto Harbourfront Centre in downtown Toronto and on Lake Ontario.

Although the original location reflects the festival title, I found it difficult to get around here. Yes, part of Queen St. was closed to traffic, with booths in the middle of the street, but you had to plan your stops ahead of time. Otherwise you could be near one end of the street and want to get to a booth or booths at the other ends.

With the Queens Park location, booths were set up in the circled walkway in the park so you could either follow along that or cut across the grass in between. You also had the green park atmosphere, better than a busy street. I liked this location and it was at this location I did a talk in one of the guest writer, writing information, publishing,  and the like tents. I believe the talk was about Interviewing techniques for journalists – I was still working as a freelance journalist then.

The Toronto Harbourfront Centre has been received with mixed reaction. I personally like it – there is the on-the-waterfront location which can be calming and most of the booths are in the same area, so easy enough to get to beyond the usual finding the booth itself by the number – something that was normal with any of the locations.

For the latter two locations, I have been able to sell copies of my Beyond books at the Crime Writers of Canada booth or in the case of Beyond the Tripping Point the year it was coming out – let potential readers know – it was pre-book launch and I didn’t have book copies so had flyers for the book launch. One of them I fashioned with two holes at the top with a string in between. I wore it so after my one hour at the CWB booth was finished, I walked around wearing the flyer.

When Beyond Blood came out in fall 2014, again WOTS was before the book launch, but I had a few pre-launch copies from my publisher (Blue Denim Press) with the instructions to sell to anyone not going to the book launch.

Which I did.

Last year I added an hour with my books at the Toronto Sisters in Crime booth and sold copies of both books. I had a sale price for purchase of both books together and plan to do something like that again this year and perhaps something extra. Not telling. You will have to come out to WOTS in Toronto to see what. But also to meet and talk to  well-known authors and hear them reading, information for writers to get published – often with panel discussions, books for sale, many smaller publishers, writing and editing organizations, plus public libraries, ESL, magazines – small and more wide-spread, book publishers, and of course, food.

For more information on WOTS see here and for the Toronto WOTS go here.

And to see where I’ll be when (at least at the booths), go to my Gigs and Blogs page.

Hope to see you there – well some of you.

As usual the Beyond Blood book icon at the top links to info about my books and my author profile.

Cheers.

Sharon

 

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Rewriting Novels Using Both Sides of the Brain

Sharon A. Crawford's latest in the Beyond series

Sharon A. Crawford’s latest in the Beyond series

Rewriting a novel can be daunting, especially with the many, many rewrites that are necessary. I find there is no right way to do it, but with all the rewrites with my third Beyond book, I discovered by accident a way to be both creative and practical.

Use both sides of your brain – the right side for creativity and the left side for the logical and practical. Let me explain.

Without giving away the plot, let’s just say, like most of my story lines, it is complicated. That means the characters, like real people are complicated.

So I brainstorm outside of writing time for what I could change. When I sit down at the computer, I re-read all the novel and make a few notes. Then I tackle it from the beginning, dealing with it in parts. As I write more ideas come into my brain. But each idea leads to something that will have to be added or changed later on in the novel. So how do I keep track. Sure, I can make a few notes in another file, but mainly I use the Word comment for this with some suggestions.Then I can go back and update later. However, often the creative spirit married to the logical spirit moves me to do so right away. So I follow the thread to the next part that needs changing and do so.

I’ll give you one example which won’t give the story away. My Beyond novels, as well as four stories in Beyond the Tripping Point, feature fraternal twin private investigators, Dana Bowman and Bast Overture. While they partner in their business, they do split up the investigation a lot of the time. One of the things with this is the twins have to keep each other updated with what they find. So that has to go in somehow somewhere or else later on I will be writing from say Bast’s point of view as if he already knows what Dana found out – but nowhere does it say this.The reader can’t assume Dana told him. But I don’t always want a long dialogue between the two unless it can move the plot forward and/or develop the characters.

So, I sometimes use the phrase “Bast brought Dana up to speed about….” or “Dana brought Bast up to speed about…” Sometimes I don’t even do that but just have Bast in his next investigative action think “Dana had told him that… ” and very briefly mention it. I  do the same with Dana and do so when what one twin told the other is relevant to the other twin’s current detecting.

But with all this to-ing and fro-ing something else different has come up – what would happen if one twin didn’t tell the other twin what he or she found out?

Yes, it can be a somewhat constant shifting to different parts of the brain and I find that one feeds the other. And often you are rewriting on the creative side during most of that day’s writing time.

Now if I can just follow through with my rewrite of Beyond….  Nope, not even giving away the title.

Meantime, you can check out Beyond Blood and Beyond the Tripping Point. Link to all that can be found in the usual spot – the book cover at the top.

And later this month I will be back on the PR road for the Beyond books, so next week will be updating both the Gigs and Blog Tours part of this blog (a fiction writing workshop I’m teaching in October is already listed) and also the book page of my website. And yes, Dana will be doing another comedy skit gig in late October – this time with a really big twist. Stay tuned.

Cheers.

Sharon. A. Crawford

 

 

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Writing from Real Life

Rosemary McCracken author of the Pat Tierney mystery novels

Rosemary McCracken author of the Pat Tierney mystery novels

Today, I have a guest blogger – Rosemary McCracken, a friend and writing colleague who has often been part of the same panel on crime writing as me. Rosemary’s third novel, Raven Lake, in her Pat Tierney mystery series is out now in June and… well I’ll let Rosemary tell you all about it and her writing. The e-book launch is on Facebook this Sunday from 4 p.m. to 7 p.m. Click here to reach the party site.and the in-person book launch is June 25, 2 p.m. to 4 p.m. at Sleuth of Baker Street bookstore in Toronto. Over to you,  now Rosemary…

Thank you, Sharon, for inviting me here today!

I thought I’d talk about a subject that’s dear to my heart—writing from real life. All writers “borrow” from the people they know and situations they’ve been in when they create their fiction. Some to a greater extent than others. Two students in my How to Develop Your Novel course at Toronto’s George Brown College are working on novels based on their own lives. It’s not as easy a job as it might seem.

Writers who turn real-life events into fiction face the same challenges that writers have with any novel. They need to create believable characters and riveting plots. But knowing the real-life counterparts and the outcome of their adventures can often curb a writer’s ability to let the characters get on with their fictional lives.

My advice to writers who base their stories on real people and events is not to incorporate every detail of the real story into the work of fiction. “Use your imagination,” I tell them, “and don’t feel you have to stick to the facts. You’re writing fiction.”

They will need to expand the scope of the real-life story. In fiction, plot is the order of events in a story that gradually builds tension. The plot needs to develop with all its requisite plot points—which may take characters far afield from the people they are based on. Writers shouldn’t be afraid to impose the cause-and-effect order of plot on the story they are telling. It will build conflict and tension, and make the story more unified and enjoyable for readers.

Of course, names will have to be changed to protect the privacy of people the writer knows. The writer should go a step further and change characters’ initials as well, so that Mark Manners doesn’t become Mike Madison. The character’s physical appearance, the details of his childhood and his job will also need to be altered.

With my background as a newspaper journalist, I enjoy developing fiction from real-life stories that have been in the news—situations or events that happened to other people. And, yes, a story that was in the news a few summers ago is part of my new Pat Tierney mystery novel, Raven Lake.

The news coverage described the plight of vacationers who had turned to rental websites to find vacation homes to rent for their holidays. They arrived at their vacation destinations in Ontario lake country only to find that they’d been duped by con artists. The cottages were actually full-time residences and not for rent at all. They lost their deposits, some lost their full payments, and they had nowhere to spend their holidays. My heart went out to these people who had driven for hours thinking that they were about to spend a relaxing week or two at a sylvan lake. I also felt sorry for the residents of the targeted homes who had would-be renters turning up on their doorsteps. Some of them were afraid that these strangers might take their frustrations out on them.

A perfect crime for a mystery set in cottage country. It helped that I didn’t know any of the real people involved so I was free to create my own characters and outcomes.

Rosemary McCracken

Pageflex Persona [document: PRS0000040_00070]

Bio:

Rosemary McCracken has worked on newspapers across Canada as a reporter, arts reviewer, editorial writer and editor. She is now a Toronto-based fiction writer and freelance journalist. Her first Pat Tierney mystery, Safe Harbor, was shortlisted for Britain’s Crime Writers’ Association’s Debut Dagger in 2010 and published by Imajin Books in 2012. It was followed by Black Water in 2013. “The Sweetheart Scamster,” a Pat Tierney mystery in the anthology Thirteen, was a finalist for a Derringer Award in 2014. Rosemary’s third Pat Tierney mystery, Raven Lake, has just been released. It is available at myBook.to/RavenLakeTierney.

Follow Rosemary on her blog, Moving Target at http://rosemarymccracken.wordpress.com, on Facebook at www.facebook.com/rosemarymccracken and on Twitter @RCMcCracken. Visit Rosemary’s website at http://www.rosemarymccracken.com/.

Links to Rosemary’s books and short stories

Safe Harbor: myBook.to/SafeHarborTierney

Black Water: myBook.to/BlackWaterTierney

Raven Lake: myBook.to/RavenLakeTierney

Thirteen: http://amzn.to/18oY8mF

 

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Get a Room – Sharon blogs about unique author-reader experience

Sharon A. Crawford's latest in the Beyond series

Sharon A. Crawford’s latest in the Beyond series

This week I did a guest blog post on Shannon A. Thompson’s very busy blog. Shannon’s blog focuses on the author-reader connection and that happened to me and three other Crime Writers of Canada authors when we recently did a presentation at the Beaches library branch in Toronto, Ontario, Canada. I’ll put the first few paragraphs of my post here. Then I’m connecting you over to Shannon’s blog. (I know; I know; lazy-way out but it gives you a chance to check out another writer’s blog.).

Get a Room – the Ultimate Author and Reader Connection

Readers and writers like to connect on Goodreads, Facebook, LinkedIn, Twitter, and blogs. Videos on YouTube give the reader some idea of the author’s persona. But they are not connecting physically. As the title of a song made famous by the late Peggy Lee (back in pre-online days) asks, “Is that all there is?”

But get an author in a “bricks and mortars” room with a group of readers and more can happen. Call it creative magic, call it real connection – whatever you wish, but it is like the icing on the cake.

Why else do authors still do readings and interviews in libraries, cafes, pubs, at book clubs, writing festivals and conferences? Sure, we authors want to sell books, but we want to meet our readers in the flesh. And when you do like me, partner up with authors from a writing organization, the atmosphere can escalate into a literary, or in my case, criminal high. No drugs needed.

As the crime fiction author of the Beyond mystery series (Beyond the Tripping Point, 2012 and Beyond Blood, 2014, Blue Denim Press) and a member of Crime Writers of Canada, I often “appear” with other crime writers to do readings and author interviews. A recent appearance at the Beaches Library Branch in Toronto, Canada, turned into an incredible evening.

***

And now over to Shannon, who introduces me first and then posts my blog post.

http://shannonathompson.com/2015/03/09/author-and-reader-connection/

Happy reading and maybe I’ll see you at a future gig. I post my reading and presentation gigs on the Beyond Blood page of my website www.samcraw.com. There are more I have to post but I’m getting to them. Keep checking back.

 

Cheers.

Sharon A. Crawford

 

Author of the Beyond book series. See http://www.samcraw.com and http://www.bluedenimpress.com for more info. Book at top of this post links to my Amazon author profile.

To watch my interview on Liquid Lunch on thatchannel.com go to Go to http://youtu.be/i2bBaePIWgY and enjoy.

 

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Guest Alex Laybourne gives us the dirt on writing his novels

Alex Laybourne horror novelist

Alex Laybourne horror novelist

Today I welcome guest Alex Laybourne a prolific horror novelist (four novels published). Alex discusses the difficulties authors have nailing down how they write their novels. He has some interesting insights. Over to you Alex.

As a writer, one of the most common questions you will get asked, besides the insulting and impossible to answer to any degree of satisfaction question of, How many books have you sold, is undoubtedly going to be something directed at the way in which you approach the task at hand.

How do you write your novels?

Do you always know how your book is going to go?

How much preparation do you do for your characters?

Do these sound familiar?

These questions, while interesting to hear, because it means that the person you are talking to is interested in the process rather than the success, are often the hardest to answer. Twice at least.

I say this because it is, for more writers, impossible to give the same answer to these questions twice in a row. I don’t mean this in the sense of, I can’t remember the exact word for word answer I gave the last time but on a much more fundamental level. It is physically impossible to answer this question twice, giving the same themed response.

Why? Well, every book, every project is different. The story is different, the characters, unless you are writing a series, are going to be different. There will be a varied tone and style to their work, certainly for younger, or shall we say, less experienced, writers. For they are trying hard to find their voice, to find that natural tone.

I have now published four full length novels and four (currently unavailable) short story collections, and what worked for the first tale, did not work for the second.

This was a painful fact for me to learn, and it is something that every writer needs to experience for themselves before they understand the meaning behind it.

My first novel, Highway to Hell, I planned out in my head, chapter by chapter, for the most part, but for the sequel, I just couldn’t figure it out ahead of time. I tried, and deleted close to sixty thousand words after finding myself bored and fed up with the story. It turned out that this novel needed to be written ‘on the fly’. This was a frightening process, as I knew nothing, and as I wrote there were passages which I marked for the editing phase. I hated them, and they were out of place, or so it seemed. Then, suddenly, at the end of the book, I found myself linking back to these passages which suddenly not only made sense, but helped round off the tale perfectly.

My novel Diaries of the Damned was written in a similar way. Whereas my most recent novel, Blood of the Tainted was written following the basic storyline, I had in my head, and then the details and a sub plot were added during the re-write phase.

It is impossible to gauge, before you start putting pen to paper, or fingers to keys, as would be more apt in the modern world, how you should write the novel. You could write a wonderful plan, mapping out every conversation and plot point to fit every style guide and craft book you have read, but suddenly, you find yourself stuck. Your imagination has a flare and before you know it the book is going in a different direction.

It is hard not to fight this, not to try and stick to the routine that provided you such success the last time, but it is nature. It cannot be fought any more than we can fight the aging process. We can give it a good try, but ultimately we lose. Go with what your mind, what the natural writer inside of you is saying, and not what the real you wants to do.

Books are a part of us, the characters are part of who we are. They are friends, people who we learn about as we write. The best characters, like the best friendships, are not defined from the very beginning, but evolve naturally over time.

Think about your social interactions. How you behave at work, at home, down the pub with your friends. We do not operate on a single basis of interaction. We adapt as necessary based on where we are, who we are with. We are not denying who we are, but we are allowing the different components of who we are to shine when the time is right.

This is exactly how it works with writing. Whether you are writing standalone novels, a series, or short stories, even blog posts, such as this. The approach you take will vary, because each one will be using a different part of who you are as a writer as the dominant creative voice.

Embrace it, because it knows what it is doing. Once you accept this, two things will happen. Writing will become that much easier, because you know you are doing what is right, and the task of answering the questions mentioned above will become that much harder, for you will be more aware of the layers that run beneath it all.

Thanks for reading.

Alex Laybourne

Bio

Born and raised in the coastal English town Lowestoft, it should come as no surprise (to those that have the misfortune of knowing this place) that Alex Laybourne became a horror writer.

From an early age he attended schools which were at least 30 minutes’ drive away from his home, and so most of his free time was spent alone.

He claims to have been a writer as long as he can remember. With a wild and vivid imagination he finds it all too easy to just drift away into his own mind and explore the worlds he creates. It is a place where the conditions always seem to be just perfect for the cultivation of ideas, plots, scenes, characters and lines of dialogue

He is married and has four wonderful children; James, Logan, Ashleigh and Damon. His biggest dream for them is that they grow up, and spend their lives doing what makes them happy, whatever that is.

Cover of  Alex Laybourne's latest novel. Available on amazon. See link below

Cover of Alex Laybourne’s latest novel Blood of the Tainted.Available on amazon. See link below

Amazon http://www.amazon.com/Alex-Laybourne/e/B00580RB18

Official website and blog site http://alexlaybourne.com/

Thanks Alex for your insights.

Cheers.

 

Sharon A. Crawford

Author of the Beyond mystery series – most recent Beyond Blood (Blue Denim Press, 2014).

 

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Taming Time to Write

Beyond Blood_Final EbookSometimes I would like to shoot the clock (figuratively speaking). Finding time to write (and I don’t mean writing for business purposes, including book promo), is something all authors have to deal with.

Of course, the clock is not to blame. The bottom line is there are too many things we have to deal with in our overly fast-paced world and squeezing in writing time is difficult. But we do have only 24 hours a day and it is up to us writers to sort out our time.

What is important to us and what isn’t?

Writing, obviously is one. But we can’t forget about the family, our health, the house problems, the computer problems and other problems that seem to land unwanted on our doorstep. So, for 2015 I ruthlessly pruned what I will do. I use a system of A’s, B’s, C’s and D’s which I found in a time management life balance book. It goes like this:

A –Have to do; want to do (e.g. writing).

B – Have to do; don’t want to do (e.g. dealing with house problems)

C – Don’t have to do; want to do (try new recipes each week)

D – Don’t have to do; don’t want to do (e.g. any dealings with the boarder I evicted last fall)
I also use three categories: delete (my favourite), delay, and do. So some of those items under B, in particular get put on hold. I am also trying to deal with one problem at a time.

For writing specifically, so far I have assigned Wednesday afternoons and Friday afternoons for writing the third book in my Beyond mystery fiction series. Once I get a better handle on some of my business administrative stuff, Wednesday mornings should also come open for other creative writing such as writing contest entries – which include personal essays as well as short stories. The other times in the day include doing client work (writing tutoring and teaching and editing), book promo and the like. Sometimes workshops and readings are set for “writing afternoons” – I honour those first and juggle the creative writing with “client time.”.

Weekends I try to leave for gardening (spring, summer, fall), family, friends, community events and the like, although I will do writing workshops, author readings and presentations and attend the odd writing conference that crop up on weekends.

During all time I keep my mind open for creative ideas for my stories and essays. Often when I am doing other stuff, the creative ideas pop in. Never ignore these –write them down, or enter on your tablet before you get back to whatever you were doing.

And the big time stealer – email? Unless I consider it urgent, I take from a few days to a week to reply. And when I do deal with email, I set the timer and when it rings I just finish the email I am currently writing.

Guess I use a combination of scheduling and being flexible. Whatever it takes to have time to be creative and just write.

Next week I have a guest blogger – Alex Laybourne, who is a prolific horror novel author with a number of books published. Alex will blog about how he writes. Stay tuned.

Cheers.

Sharon A. Crawford

For something completely different check out when I was interviewed about Beyond Blood and writing on radio station Northumberland 89.7 FM http://bluedenimpress.com/authors/sharon-a-crawford/

All my TV interviews are posted on You Tube. Click on “Video” at the top right of this blog

Check out my website www.samcraw.com for more information about Beyond Blood and my writing workshops. Watch for updates.

The book cover at the top links to my amazon.com author profile and my books.

E-copies are also available at my publisher’s website http://www.bluedenimpress.com

 

 

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Author interviews – learning from both sides of the fence

Cover of Beyond Blood by Sharon A. Crawford, published by Blue Denim Press. Click for link to purchase e-copies

Cover of Beyond Blood by Sharon A. Crawford, published by Blue Denim Press.

Interviewer. Interviewee. Authors can get to do both. Which do you like best?

Last week I sat on both sides of this author interview fence. I posted my review of Rene Natan’s The Woman in Black on this blog and included a short interview with Rene. She also interviewed me for a posting on her blog page and did a book review of Beyond Blood on Goodreads. This interviewing got me thinking about interviews I have done (many, many – around 30 years’ worth) when I was a journalist.

But I have a somewhat unique perspective from the interviewee’s seat. Granted, answers to interview questions for guest blog posts can be carefully thought out. But what about those where the answer has to be spontaneous – such as for most of the profiles and feature articles I wrote where it was either in person or by phone. (Disclaimer: some were via email and could be thought out). Often I would get “don’t print this” or “this is off the record” but you can’t do that when you are being interviewed in front of an audience or on TV. (although TV interviews can be edited).

The bottom line is I get a rush from being interviewed and interviewing other authors. But I also like public speaking and reading from my book in public. Maybe it’s the drama queen in me or perhaps I’m a frustrated actor, but I get in character when I read and when I speak about something I am passionate about – such as writing, I get carried away. And I hope I carry my audience away with me too.

So being interviewed on TV doesn’t faze me, at least not anymore. I never know what some of the questions will be or what I will come up with for answers. But I always pitch right in with an answer – even when the interviewer goes a bit off track as Hugh Reilly did when he interviewed me about Beyond the Tripping Point in fall 2012. He got into Canadian mystery series and British series so I answered his questions and then got it back to Beyond the Tripping Point.

Ditto for being interviewed by Tom Taylor for his cable TV program Writers & Readers. Instead of one 10-minute interview he sprung it on me that there would be a second one about my editing and writing career.

The one that almost threw me for a loop goes back 25 years or so when another journalist (broadcast and print) who was a former mayor of Aurora and I were on an Aurora Cable TV show. I was supposed to be interviewing him – which I did. Then he ended the first segment with “when we come back I’ll be interviewing Sharon about her writing and community work.” (paraphrased).

I had about 10 minutes to catch my breath and mentally change chairs.

At least I didn’t have to prepare questions for this part.

It went off okay, but I think it helped teach me to be spontaneous. So does doing interviews – because you can prepare questions but the interviewee (or subject as journalists call him or her) may go off on tangents, clam up or as one artist did, look at me with dismay when she saw my recorder.

I told her “this is for accuracy,” and she settled down.

Being as accurate as you can, in the moment, is part of the bottom line when interviewing authors (or anyone) or being interviewed as an author. The other important bottom line part is being yourself.

Oh, and if a TV interview, don’t wear white. It interferes with the lighting.

You can read Rene Natan’s interview of me at http://www.scribd.com/doc/251460632/Interview-with-Sharon-Crawford

Rene Natan’s book review of Beyond Blood is on Goodreads at http://www.goodreads.com/book/show/23160706-beyond-blood

For something completely different check out when I was interviewed about Beyond Blood and writing on radio station Northumberland 89.7 FM http://bluedenimpress.com/authors/sharon-a-crawford/

All my TV interviews are posted on You Tube. Click on “Video” at the top right of this blog

Check out my website www.samcraw.com for more information about Beyond Blood and my writing workshops. I do update it.

The book cover at the top links to my amazon.com author profile and my books.

Cheers.

 

Sharon A. Crawford

 

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