Time to get moving with my Beyond mystery novels and my memoir. At least that is what PI Dana Bowman keeps telling me. I, not Dana, will be doing just that May 26 at the Maple Leaf Mystery Conference on Zoom, where I am one of four panellists on the Cozy Corner panel. The other panellists are: Diane Bator, Ginger Bolton, and Winona Kent and our moderator is Lynn McPherson.
Of course Dana thinks she co-authored Beyond Faith. You should just hear her rant at the beginning of one of our Crime Beat Confidential shows on That Channel. She even managed to get Beyond Faith on her bag as shown just below. All II can say is she is a persistent PI and keeps pushing. In other words, she is a pain in the neck.
However, Dana and I do share one thing with my books. Both of us were terrorized by a nun in grade school. I didn’t have the opportunity as an adult to reconnect with my bully nun. Dana did.
In Beyond Faith Dana and her business partner, PI Bast Overture (also her fraternal twin) get stuck with Dana’s nun – Sister Olsen, as a client. The “good’ nun is suspected of killing her brother by pushing him into traffic. My nun left the convent, got married, had kids, and died. Or so I heard from an old school friend. She is trustworthy so I believe her.
My nun plays a large part in my memoir, The Enemies Within Us. She humiliated me in front of my Grade two class, including whacking me on the nose with a pencil. She turned apologetic and tried to make up for it by feeding me with cookies after class.
That scene (yes “lifted ” from my life and placed in Beyond Faith)when Dana finally realizes why Sister Olsen looks and sounds familiar even though back in her school days, nuns were still Mother St. Whoever. Same for me, although I’m just over a decade ahead of Dana, something Dana likes to remind me about.
So, this nun is in my memoir but except for my parents, my beloved grandfather and myself, I use pseudonyms – to protect the innocent and the guilty.
And there we have a connection between my mystery novel and my memoir. There are others in The Enemies Within Us that show how murder, mayhem, and mystery converged early in my life. Just imagine a couple of 10-year-olds – myself and a friend – trying to insert themselves into an ongoing local homicide, albeit briefly.
There are more;, but you will have to read the book to find out. A caveat here – my memoir covers a lot of other stuff, including as a child and teen dealing with my dad dying from cancer. This is something I have never been able to fictionalize.. But both Mom and Dad loved to read fiction. And I learned that fiction is a good place to slide into, to jump into, when the pain of life is too harsh – even when people are being murdered. There It’s not your life.
Or is it? Remember Sister Olsen.
And remember that Maple Leaf Mystery Conference I mentioned earlier? . It is much more than just one panel. There are several more.: And some big name mystery novelists like Maureen Jennings and Ian Rankin making guest appearances. This is a conference for both mystery writers and mystery readers. And they supplied us with a wonderful tote bag.
In a few future posts I will be writing more about this conference – what else it has to offer. For now you can check out their website
With the pandemic dragging on way too long with so many variants, a book author has to find variations to in-person presentations and book signings to promote his or her book. Being a library lover and patron for many, many years, I am focusing on a few ways for library patrons and other book lovers to find my book, learn about it and borrow it from the library. And yes, I do get royalties for that from the Public Lending Right Program in Canada, as long as the library branches carry copies of my book. So, out there in library land are my three Beyond mystery books and my newest book The Enemies Within Us – a Memoir. It is the memoir I am going to spill the beans on what I am doing beyond getting the book into the libraries.
It helps that my East End Writers’ Group was meeting at the S. Walter Stewart library branch (as one of its programs), that is until the pandemic closed the libraries during lock downs, but even when lock downs were lifted and the libraries opened, in-person programs didn’t return. According to the librarian who I liaison with for EEWG, that won’t happen for some time. EEWG now meets twice a month on Zoom. But more importantly for this post, EEWG celebrated its 20th anniversary in 2020. I know, pandemic cancelled any in-library celebrations, but besides taping two appearances with a couple of EEWG members on the online TV show The Liquid Lunch, EEWG went virtual for a big 20th anniversary celebration in 2021. Hey, you got to do things differently.
Three of us organized this celebration – two other members, Kit a speculative fiction writer, and Shane, who is also my publisher at Blue Denim Press, and also a published fiction author and me. I lined up members – new and longtime – to showcase their creative talents, Kit hosted it, and Shane put together the publishing panel as well as being on it, and designing the invitation and setting up the Facebook login for people to attend. Shane and I also sent out virtual invitations and some of mine went to librarians and a retired librarian from the Toronto Public Library system.
And I made my presentation relevant to both one of my Beyond books – the latest Beyond Faith – and my memoir The Enemies Within Us. I used a connection between them – that nun from my past who bullied me in grade school. The nun in Beyond Faith is based on her. So I did a combination of reading and a skit for my presentation. Shane edited the Facebook video, divided it into two videos and both are now online and have been for the few months since the big celebration of May 26.
But I also recently did something else. I emailed my liaison librarian to see if she could get the links to the two EEWG anniversary celebrations on the Toronto Public Library website – as we had been meeting in one of the TPL branches. That didn’t happen exactly, but she was able to get another TPL branch, the Danforth/Coxwell branch to post it to their Facebook page the end of July. So thanks to Luke at the Danforth/Coxwell branch and Jennifer at S. Walter Branch for making this all happen. To see the Facebook posting Log in to Facebook, go here and scroll down. Or log into Facebook and do a search for Danforth/Coxwell library branch.
That’s not all I’m doing with the library – or trying to do. Toronto Public Library welcomes program proposals from authors – at this point for virtual and/for in-person whenever COVID will permit the latter. The big proposal form you fill out online lets you decide which you want – virtual or in-person or both. I chose both. My presentation, without completely giving it away, uses my little girl self and my senior self to present parts of my memoir, especially what it was like growing up with an elderly father who has cancer and being bullied. No bites yet, but I’m still working on the actual presentation.
The take-away here?
Find a writing-related event (yours or something else) you can anchor on to connect with the library and come up with an unusual presentation for your book that can be virtual. And remember libraries have branches for when they finally can open to in-person presentations, and there are libraries right across your country, which can be good for you and the libraries during a pandemic.
We book authors have to be creative to promote our books in pandemic times.
But don’t forget to get your book into the library. Find out how from your library and do it. Mine is in three Toronto public library branches and holds are on for it with some copies in transit from … you guessed it…the copy at S. Walter Stewart branch. The link to The Enemies Within Us in the libraries is here.
Good luck with promoting your book through the libraries.
Writing a memoir involves a lot more than just telling your story. You have to be truthful and information-correctas this is not fiction. And in today’s political correctness world (and a few other things going on ), it involves so much more. I should have at least some idea of this as it took me 18 years to finish The Enemies Within Us – a Memoir. Hey, I was also writing other stuff then, too ,as for part of those 18 years I worked as a freelance journalist, editor and writing workshop instructor. Still do the latter two, but I also have written and published some personal essays and three books (so far) in my Beyond mystery series – the latter published by Blue Denim Press. And am working on the fourth Beyond mystery.
One thing memoir writing involves is research. And not just your family and friends if they are included in your memoir but historical and social history of the time you were writing in. You have to be accurate and you don’t want to mix up dates and information. Also family members may give you some background history, but it helps to do some checking elsewhere. For example, they may remember a family thing happening at such and such a time because it ties in with some event in the news. People’s memories can get foggy, so it is best to verify their time and date. They may be right about the family event date, but not the news event date.
One piece of research I did for The Enemies Within Us – a Memoir relates to a homicide of a 12-year-old girl in Toronto that affected myself and my best friend The Bully when we were 10, so much so that when we saw uniformed police snooping around on the street by our grade school the day after the story appeared in the newspaper, we asked them questions. To get the timeline on that I had to research online just when this murder took place. In my mind I knew my age but to narrow it down to month and even year, and more details of the homicide, required more research.
Another big research area I had to check out was CN railway history in Canada as my late father worked for CNR (as it was then called) as a timekeeper.
The problem with a lot of research is you can suffer from what I call “researchitis”. As a former journalist, that “disease” hit me hard.
That and a few other pertinent areas of memoir writing will be covered in a memoir writing how to that is being presented by my publisher Blue Denim Press and features two of their published memoir authors, Linda Hutzell-Manning and Sharon A. Crawford (me) spilling the beans about some of the behind-the-scenes of writing a memoir. Our memoirs cover completely different personal stories (as memoirs do), so the circumstances and research cover different, as well as some similar, areas (we do overlap for a couple of years so some news events are the same). One situation that comes up is do you use real names in a memoir? To find out, you will need to attend this free memoir writing presentation. Information is below:
You can get to the event here if you are on Facebook. If you can’t make it, it will be recorded and posted in YouTube a few days later. Stay tuned for updates on the YouTube postings.
Sharon A. Crawford
Author of The Enemies Within Us – a Memoir and the Beyond mystery series. More information in Sharon’s website and books are available at Amazon.
Rosemary McCracken turned the tables on me, interviewing me about my memoir for her blog. Now it’s my turn. Seriously, Rosemary has created a likeable and believable mystery protagonist – a financial advisor – who keeps running into crime, and not just financial misdeeds, but murder. Today Rosemary is my guest and I wouldn’t be surprised if Pat Tierney was nearby.
Sharon: Welcome Rosemary. Let’s go back a bit. You started your writing career as a journalist and you still do some freelance writing in that area. What made you start writing crime fiction?
Rosemary: Well, Sharon, I always wanted to write fiction, but I knew that very few writers are able to earn a living from their fiction. So, I did a bachelor’s and a master’s degree in English literature and became a journalist because I could earn a living writing, albeit not writing fiction. About 20 years ago, I started writing mainstream fiction on the weekends. At some point, I was exploring plot and plot structure, and I decided to take a closer look at crime fiction, which is known for its strong plots. And I fell in love with crime fiction. It can offer wonderful insights into society and human behaviour, and, in the best works in the genre, has a tight cause-and-effect structure.
Sharon: How did the Pat Tierney mystery series evolve? Is Pat based on a real person or is she a composite?
Rosemary: I was a financial journalist when I started to write my first mystery novel. I decided on a woman in her mid-40s as my protagonist. At first, I considered making her a journalist, but I’d lived that role for many years, and I hit upon the idea of making her a financial planner instead. At the time, I was interviewing financial planners and money managers for my articles. I attended their conferences, and I knew the issues they were grappling with. The Bernie Madoff investment scandal had just broken. Madoff, a New York money manager, had defrauded his clients of $64.8 billion in a massive Ponzi scheme. And in Canada, we had financial scamsters of our own such as Patrick Kinlin, the Bay Street financial advisor who stole millions from his elderly clients. Kinlin died in Kingston Penitentiary in 2001 where he was running a pension cheque scam using a prison computer.
Pat is appalled by people like Madoff and Kinlin who ruined countless lives without remorse. She wants much tougher penalties for financial fraudsters. The anger and outrage she feels is how I would react if I was in her shoes. But Pat is clearly not me. I’m not a financial planner. I’m not responsible for clients’ financial wellbeing. I don’t have sleepless nights when stock markets are down.
Sharon:I am impressed with the plots you have come up with. Do you get these ideas from real life or does real life spark ideas?
Rosemary: All the crimes I write about are real crimes that have been committed at some point. And I’ve written articles about all the financial crimes in the Pat Tierney books. Because Pat is a financial professional, it is essential to have financial wrongdoing (which often leads to other crimes including murder because greed is a powerful motive for all sorts of bad behaviour) in her stories. And she has to use her knowledge of the financial world to recognize and solve these crimes.
So, I generally decide on the financial crime that will figure into my story, and how Pat becomes aware of it. One of her clients may have fallen victim to it, or it could be someone else she encounters. Because the books are murder mysteries, the major crime will always be a murder, the most heinous act humans can commit. But the financial crime will be tied to the murder or the murderer’s world in some way.
Sharon: In your Pat Tierney novels, you give brief explanations of what financial advisors do. This background information blends well with the characters and plots. Why do you use this approach?
Rosemary: I write to entertain readers, not to instruct them. My target readers are mystery readers over the age of 25 and all the way up to 125, who enjoy good stories. Some of these readers may know a little or a lot about personal finance from the work they do or from managing their own investments. Others know next to nothing about the financial world, and I need to show them—rather than tell them—the basics of what Pat does for her clients through her interactions with them. But readers don’t need to know the details of how Pat goes about managing and investing clients’ money; that is backstory and I keep it way back, out of sight for the most part. However, they need to understand the importance of the trust clients place in her and the accountability she has to them.
Sharon: Please give a brief summary, with no spoilers, of each Pat Tierney mystery, including the timeframe and setting of each?
Rosemary: The four Pat Tierney novels, all of them contemporary stories, take place over one year in Pat’s life. Safe Harbor, the first, opens on Dec. 30 when a distraught woman bursts into Pat’s Toronto office and tells her that Pat’s late husband was the father of her seven-year-old son. Pat is stunned by the revelation, and even more shocked when the women bolts from the office, leaving young Tommy behind. When the woman is found murdered in her Toronto home, the police tell Pat that the boy may be the killer’s next target. Searching for the truth, Pat uncovers a deadly scheme involving illegal immigrants and money laundering.
Black Water opens in March when Pat’s daughter Tracy tells her that her sweetheart, Jamie Collins, has gone missing. Pat heads up north to cottage country where Jamie grew up. An elderly man has recently died in a suspicious fire, and the missing Jamie is the prime suspect. Pat takes charge of a new branch that her investment firm has opened in the area. Her search for Jamie Collins takes her through a maze of financial fraud, drugs and murder.
Raven Lake opens in late June. Pat is still in cottage country, and plans to spend the summer in a rented cottage by a sylvan lake. But her dream vacation turns into a nightmare when the body of an elderly woman is discovered in a storage locker. Bruce Stohl, the woman’s son and Pat’s friend, is pegged by police as their prime suspect, and Pat rallies to find his mother’s killer. Meanwhile, a con artist has targeted cottages in the area, and vacationers are arriving only to learn that they are victims of a rental scam. When disgruntled renters show up at the door of her rented summer home, Pat fears for her family’s safety.
Uncharted Waters takes Pat back to Toronto in September. She has left the big investment firm, and plans to open her own financial planning practice in the city. She has found a small practice that looks like a good fit for her. Its purchase means taking out a large loan, and she has no idea whether the clients she acquires will stay with her. It’s risky, but she’s willing to proceed. But the one thing she hasn’t factored in is murder. Dean Monaghan, the business’s vendor, is found stabbed to death in his office shortly after the sale document is signed. To protect her business’s reputation, Pat searches for Dean’s killer, and the reason why he was killed. When Dean’s sun, Lukas, tries to put her out of business, Pat finds herself living her worst nightmare. She has ventured into uncharted waters that are teeming with sharks.
Sharon: Pat has to overcome a personal hurdle in each novel, which ties in with the main plot. What was your purpose in doing this?
Rosemary: This is what is called creating a character arc for the protagonist: giving her an internal goal and well as an external goal to work toward. Pat’s external goal is finding the murderer and the reason for the first murder in each story, and this is what drives the plot forward. Her internal goal involves overcoming a weakness, or getting around an obstacle that threatens her on a personal level such as Lukas’s attempt to put her out of business by spreading a terrible lie. An internal goal adds dimension to a character; without one, a protagonist may come across as flat. And working toward an internal goal adds more conflict to the story.
Sharon: Do you create a detailed outline of your plot before you start writing? If so, how closely do you keep to it, or does Pat take over at any point?
Rosemary: A major assignment in Novel Writing 2: How to Develop Your Novel, the course I teach at George Brown College, is creating a detailed plot outline for students’ novels-in-progress. The purpose of this exercise is to familiarize students with a novel’s major plot points—the Inciting Incident, the Point of No Return, the Midpoint, It Looks Like All is Lost, the Climax and the Resolution—as well as subplots. These classic plot points form the structure of most successful novels and movies. They can be compared to the poles holding up a tent. Without them, the story would sag.
I don’t create a detailed outline before I start writing. Rather, I list my plot points on a chart on my wall, and fill them in as I go. And I keep checking the list to see if I’m on track.
And I refuse to let Pat take the story in new directions. If I find her trying to do this, I give some serious thought to why she’s doing it. Getting her back on track usually means rewriting earlier parts of the book.
Sharon: Jack Batten, who reviews crime fiction in the Toronto Saturday Star, has called Pat “a hugely attractive sleuth figure.” He has also reviewed the Pat Tierney novels. How did this come about?
Rosemary: I sent Safe Harbor to Jack at the Star when it first came out, and he was gracious enough to read and then review it. And he did the same with the following three books. I’ve been very fortunate, as his review column now only runs once a month.
Sharon: You also write short stories, some of which have featured Pat Tierney. Can you elaborate on them?
Rosemary: Many of my short stories were written in response to publishers’ calls for anthologies they were compiling. They announced a theme, a word count ceiling, and other rules for submissions. I work well to guidelines of this kind—it must be my journalism background—which narrows my focus and gives me direction. For example, three of the Mesdames of Mayhem’s four anthologies had specific themes: stories in 13 O’clock involved time in some way; 13 Claws was a collection of crime stories involving animals; and In the Key of 13 featured stories about songs or music.
Sharon: Which do you prefer to write and why – short stories or novels?
Rosemary: I like to write both in tandem. A Pat Tierney mystery novel takes me at least three years to complete, so it’s good to have a story or two to work on as diversions.
Sharon: You belong to a number of professional organizations for mystery writers. Which ones are they and how have they helped you with your writing and publishing?
Rosemary: I’m a member of Sisters in Crime Toronto, Sisters in Crime International, Crime Writers of Canada, the Short Mystery Fiction Society and the Mesdames of Mayhem. They offer opportunities for promoting members’ works, educational opportunities and the fellowship of other writers. In non-pandemic times, Sisters in Crime Toronto https://www.facebook.com/groups/SinCToronto/ holds monthly meetings featuring speakers on a variety of crime fiction topics. These meetings, and pre-meeting gatherings at a local restaurant, are attended by members who are both writers and readers, providing great opportunities to network with other writers and potential readers. During the current pandemic, monthly meetings are held online. The mothership organization U.S.-based Sisters in Crime International https://www.sistersincrime.org/ hosts webinars on a variety of crime fiction and literary topics, often hosted by famous American writers; it also sends out monthly e-newsletters with timely articles on the publishing world.
Crime Writers of Canada’s local chapter organizes readings and panel discussions at libraries and other venues—great opportunities to meet readers. Check out more about the CWC at https://www.crimewriterscanada.com/.
The U.S.-based Short Mystery Fiction Society, the organization that confers the Derringer Awards, posts members’ publishing news on its blog at https://shortmystery.blogspot.com/, and members exchange information about markets for short stories and guest blogging on its Listserv.
And the Mesdames of Mayhem, a collective of Canadian crime writers, post members’ publishing news on its blog at https://mesdamesofmayhem.com/, and organizes reading and discussion opportunities at libraries and book clubs.
Sharon: Some authors decide early on that they will limit their series to a certain number of novels. Will there be more Pat Tierney mysteries in your series? If so, have you decided just how many?
Rosemary :I’m gathering ideas for a fifth Pat Tierney mystery, but I can only think about this work right now, and not too far into the future. I’m sure that Pat will let me know at some point that the well is dry—and her stories are over. But it hasn’t happened yet.
Sharon: And that’s good news for your readers. Thank you, Rosemary for stopping by my author blog and sharing information about your novel and short fiction writing story. We get to know both Pat and you, her creator.
Rosemary McCracken is the author of the Pat Tierney Mystery Series. Safe Harbor, the first novel in the series, was a finalist for Britain’s Debut Dagger Award. It was published by Imajin Books in 2012, followed by Black Water in 2013, Raven Lake in 2016, and Uncharted Waters in 2020. “The Sweetheart Scamster,” a Pat Tierney short story in the anthology Thirteen, was a finalist for a Derringer Award in 2014. Jack Batten, the Toronto Star’s crime fiction reviewer, calls Pat “a hugely attractive sleuth figure.” Born and raised in Montreal, Rosemary now lives in Toronto. She teaches novel writing at George Brown College.
This COVID-19 pandemic keeps continuing and we writers need to find different ways to promote our books. And help each other in the process. As you know from previous posts over the past few years, I host the online TV series Crime Beat Confidential on thatchannel.com. The latest was done just before the end of 2020 and featured another series mystery writer – Rosemary McCracken. who writes the Pat Tierney mystery series.
Rosemary and I belong to a couple of the same mystery-writing organizations – Crime Writers of Canada and Sisters in Crime. In the days when we could still do so, we often were panelists together (and with other authors) with those organizations’ presentations. Here we read and/or talked about our books, including doing some q and a.
I also run the East End Writers’ Group – for writing critiques – now virtual. When we met at S. Walter Stewart Library in Toronto, Canada, Rosemary was one of my guests for one of our special presentations. So books were physically there for readers to buy. Now the book-selling process is online in various capacities. I know, I know, some of us, like me, have done some book sales from our verandas. But all sales instigated either from Facebook, email, book launch, or elsewhere on line.
So now we writers pair together to promote our books. Below is the link to Rosemary’s Crime Beat Confidential interview, done remotely. It is about 45 minutes long. Warning: my pesky in-your-face Beyond character, PI Dana Bowman, loudly starts the show – as she usually does. But despite her brashness, she is turning into a good marketer for my memoir. Hear and see what she has to say at the beginning and then she talks a bit about Rosemary. But I am the one interviewing Rosemary while Dana gets banished out of camera view on the living room couch.
Just set up a page here for The Enemies Within Us – a Memoir by me, Sharon A. Crawford. Read all about the book, how it all began and continued to evolve and was finally published. And of course where interested readers can purchase a copy. You can also click on the title The Enemies Within Us above this blog post at the top of the blog site
I will start posting to this Sharon A. Crawford blog again more regularly starting next week.
Meantime, in these pandemic times, everybody stay safe and stay healthy.
I’m sitting before my laptop, trying to stare at my moving face image before me. At the same time I am rattling pages in front of my nose and stumbling through a short reading from my memoir The Enemies Within Us.
Thank somebody-or-other this is just a “dress” rehearsal. I used to be a good reader and could usually read right from my books. Only when I knew I would be in a place with dim lighting would I print out copies of my reading material beforehand. All that was before I went blind in one eye a couple of years ago. Now I sometimes seem to put my nose right up to what I’m reading. Not that the nose can see.
My other eye is still normal, if you can call some nearsightedness normal. But better than being blind. So, I shake, rattle and nearly roll the printed out pages which are still not big enough.
They were printed out from the final pdf copy which my publisher sent me for book reviews, etc. But having only a reading pdf program I can’t enlarge it. My publisher has also noticed this rattling and stumbling and includes it in his summary of watching the recorded version of our dress rehearsal. But I am not angry at him and I am not angry at myself. If anything, I am angry at the cause of my blindness.
But one must carry on – something I believe in. I email my publisher for the final edited Word copy of my manuscript, which he promptly sends me. That can be enlarged. Once that is done I have to figure out how to place the pages so they don’t rattle and I can view them and read like the pro I am supposed to be. Even if I have to masking tape it to my laptop and onto my desk – not too far because I don’t want my mug looking off into the distance or off to the side. At least we have one more rehearsal.
Meantime my publisher has posted the Invitation details for my book launch on the Blue Denim Press Facebook page and shared it with his FB friends, which includes me, so I get the notification to my author FB page and somehow (don’t ask how; he’s the technical expert, not me) moved it to my Events. From there I share it with all my Facebook friends and family I haven’t emailed an invitation. Yup, still doing email notifications. Both are bringing yeses to attend or interested in attending. Still lots more I haven’t heard from…yet. Then I remember when we did in- person book launches for my Beyond mystery series, when we lived in safe times (What were those? Anybody remember?), some people didn’t bother to RSVP. They just showed up. So hope this happens this time. I’ve also sent out invitations through Classmates.com and am posting the event on my social media and it is already bulletined on my website. And one invited guest started a thread in her Linked In group asking for comments from authors who have done virtual book launches and what it involves. Of course, I started the thread, including thanking her.
And for those interested, here is the invitation to my virtual book launch.
Virtual Launch of The Enemies Within Us – a Memoir by Sharon A. Crawford
The URL to get to my virtual launch at that time and date is the Blue Denim Press Facebook page link above. If you click on the Join Event Link above it will redirect you to that Facebook page. If you are not on Facebook, you won’t be able to get in. However, the launch will be videotaped and posted on Youtube. When it is on Youtube I will post the link on my website as well as on my social media, including here.
Sharon A. Crawford’s memoir is a powerful, sometimes humorous, account of a young girl’s lessons learned from difficult teachers – bullying, betrayal, and cancer. Set in 1950s/1960s Toronto
I’m finding it both interesting and challenging marketing my new book The Enemies Within Us – a Memoir. We live in uncertain and unsettled times with this COVID-19 business. Not only do we worry about getting the virus, but we have had our lifestyles turned topsy-turvy. Not something we asked for, but I guess we have to make the best of it. And that requires being creative.
Which is something I am learning to do for promoting my memoir. In person presentations, readings and book launches are now gone. I now have a very extensive market plan which is open to changes and additions. I check it daily and make a note i when I have done something on my list, and then save it yet again.
Some of you may notice that I have increased my presence on Facebook, both my Facebook timeline and its attached author page. That increase is all about my book, which includes (and will include more) small excerpts from my memoir. I will also be posting more about the actual writing of memoir as I have taught workshops in that for 10 years. I know that has generated some book sales from what my publisher told me about numbers sold through Amazon. Not a huge number, but the book has only been out for two weeks.
I am also selling books via Canada Post – for those who live in Canada.
But perhaps the wackiest way I’m selling books is from my veranda. Let me re-phrase that. Some of that comes from my emails to friends and they come by to pick up the book by appointment (read, when it works for them and me).
So there comes the buyer up the veranda steps, past my unofficial greeter, money in an envelope dangling from the hand, and a mask on the face. He or she knocks on my front door and then steps back. Inside, I put on my mask and a jacket if needed, and with signed book copy in hand, step outside. We do a short greeting and the buyer hands me the envelope (still dangling from her fingertips), and I do the same with the book. We make comments about wishing we could do a proper visit/chat, but say “when this pandemic is over.” One buyer, also a friend, and I had decided via email we could do a short social distancing chat, but the rain began falling as soon as she stepped out of her car. On another occasion a month ago, this friend did stop by (pre-arranged) to pick up some flower seeds from my garden. The seeds were in a sealed envelope. We actually had a chat, 6 feet (2 metres) apart in my driveway. It wasn’t raining then.
Those are some examples of the new norm.
The other big change is going virtual – beyond the usual Facebook postings, the blog postings, Goodreads, Amazon, and the website. I’m talking about Zoom. Zoom has opened the door to us authors to promote our books. It is even how my writers group, The East End Writers’ Group, now meets. And yes, I have held up my book there and did a one minute elevator pitch. Ditto for another organization I belong to for its Literature group.
I am also getting bold in approaching newspapers, book buyers, etc. (via email). for book reviews. It has garnished (so far) one wonderful review and five stars on Amazon.ca.
And then there is my publisher, Blue Denim Press. Shane there has been very helpful and promo pro-active. He is helping me with my virtual book launch next month (November 17 – more on that closer to the date). He is doing more as he (well Blue Denim Press) is launching my book. We have had one Zoom meeting to go over what has to be done and how it will work. And he then emailed me the list of what we each do.
Preparing for a virtual book launch is much more work than an in-person book launch. With the latter, the publisher set the date (checking with the author to make sure she is available then and not doing promo elsewhere, for example. If it is a dentist’s appointment, she can cancel that). Then you email your invitations, distribute and post copies of the book launch flyer from your publisher, prepare what you are going to read and anything else like a skit, and show up early for the launch. And once there, meet, greet, and read.
But a virtual book launch has the potential for many more guests from all over the world.
And here are some online book links for The Enemies Within Us – a Memoir
“Your dad has cancer.” That’s the beginning of my new book. And it has arrived.
If some of you thought I had dropped off the face of the earth, I can’t really blame you. It has been a couple of months, not just the usual couple of weeks since this author appeared on her author blog. Not COVID-19 (not yet, anyway, and hopefully never), but I have been busy. Yes, some with client work, some with my garden, some with moderating twice-a-month Zoom meetings of my East End Writers’ Group, and spending these COVID-19 times chatting weekly with my son on Zoom. Somewhere in there I was rewriting and rewriting another book to meet my publisher’s deadline. And I did. But there is something different here. My new book is not another in the Beyond mystery series (although I have been working on the fourth Beyond book).
Drum roll here: MY NEW BOOK IS A MEMOIR. After 18 years of on-and-off writing, through several versions with several different content, it is done. And it is about time. I’ve been teaching memoir writing workshops for 10 years, so now the teacher has to put her pen where her mouth is – or something like that.
So, folks, meet meet me from age four to 22 in my memoir THE ENEMIES WITHIN US.
Oh, oh. PI Dana Bowman, who is not in my memoir, is insisting she step in now. She wants to introduce the new book. She is already doing that elsewhere, Give someone an inch and they will take a mile. And don’t ask me to put that in metric. When I was a child we measured in feet and inches, not centimetres and metres. Okay, over to you Dana.
PI Dana Bowman from the Beyond mystery series
Sharon wrote a memoir about her childhood way way back in the 1950s and 1960s. Unlike me with my fraternal brother, Bast, she was an only child, her parents were what she calls “elderly,” She won’t tell you this, but the book’s title wasn’t the first. She went through many titles and finally her publisher, Shane, at Blue Denim Press came up with
THE ENEMIES WITHIN US – a Memoir
And here it is…
Another drum roll please.
Okay, back to you Sharon.
About time. Dana eluded to some of the memoir’s content. Perhaps the best way to summarize what the book is about is to post the synopsis on the back cover of the book.
“Your dad has cancer.” Ten-year-old Sharon hears these words. Not from her parents. They lied. Set mainly in 1950s and 1960s Toronto, this is Sharon’s story before and after Daddy’s dirty little secret surfaces. Before, she is Princess to her elderly father’s King. He protects her, a shy only child, from best friend, The Bully. Sharon also deals with a bullying nun at school. She distracts herself playing baseball and piano, riding the rails with Mom and railway timekeeper Daddy, and visiting eccentric Detroit and rural Ontario relatives. After learning the truth, Sharon withdraws from Daddy. At 13, she teaches Mom to play the piano. Then Daddy gets sick again, and again…and dies.
Sharon A. Crawford’s memoir is a powerful, sometimes humorous, account of a young girl’s lessons learned from difficult teachers – bullying, betrayal, and cancer.
In future blog posts I will quote here and there – sometimes – from the content, but I also will ask questions (and give a few tips) about memoir writing. Here’s a question to start you off,
Who reading this is also writing a memoir or has written a memoir? What is the memoir about (briefly)?
Okay, that was two questions. I’m a writer, not a mathematician.
The books’ arrival I alluded to at the beginning are my author’s copies, which this time the publisher sent directly from the distributor to me. Yes, we authors get our own copies, but at half price. The traditional reason for author copies is for us to sell them at readings, festivals, presentations, etc. we attend but the venue is not in a bookstore or the publisher isn’t there to sell the books. Or we want to give complimentary copies, for example to people who helped us with research, media book reviewers, etc. In these COVID-19 days in-person presentations, etc. are on hold. But hopefully sometime in the first part of 2021, things will change for the better. So why the author’s copies? Because some of them will go with my virtual book launch in November, which will have a bookstore (as in bricks and mortars) involved, although anyone will be able to purchase The Enemies Within Us at
Amazon and Chapters/Indigo online. Book sales there go live October 1, but pre-orders of the e-versions are available. Amazon also has the print version for pre-order.
And some of those complimentary copies, and I suspect a few books sold, wiLL go out to the buyer via Canada Post – for those who want to get their book directly from the author (i.e., a signed copy). Hey, these are different times and we authors, like everybody else, have to adjust.
I’ll leave you with a sample of one of the photographs from my childhood. It shows Daddy, Mom and I on the veranda of the house I grew up in. In my memoir, I sometimes refer to the house as “139.”
Author readings have been standard for authors to promote their books, but they can be boring. The operative word here is “can” which means you can turn your author reading into something different, something individual. Below are a few twists (and turns) I’ve tried.
1. Have the main character in your book dominate your reading. My main character in my Beyond mystery books is PI Dana Bowman and I’ve made her into a real person (well, almost, although she thinks she is real). I have created an antagonism between Dana and me. Part of this antagonism is who wrote Beyond Faith – Dana or me? So I delve into that when I read.
2. Dana has a tendency to crash my readings. She hides at the back of the room or just outside the door of the room or in the case of a bookstore, behind a bookshelf. I warn my reading audience about her, including holding up an enlarged coloured photo of her, and at the end, pretend to see her poking her nosey nose (well, she is a Private Investigator) at the back of the room, so I abruptly end my reading and go chase her.
Dana Bowman from the Beyond mystery series.
3. Read with another author – literally. You read from each other’s fiction and take the part of the main characters in the excerpts read. I’ve done this with literary author (nothing like mixing up the fiction genres), Michael Dyet and his short story collection Hunting Muskie. We pick a theme and pick passages from there. With his short stories the passage has two characters. With Beyond Faith, sometimes more. And to make it interesting, Michael sometimes takes Dana’s part so I can read her seven-year old son, David’s part. And it works.
Michael and Sharon – Muskie and Murder presentation. Shane Joseph photo.
4. Use humour. Do skits with another author using two or more characters in your novels and expand what is going on in one novel into a comedy skit. Michael wrote a skit for us where Dana became the PI (instead of the cop in one of Michael’s short stories in the collection. And when the two met, it did not go well to the point of being ludicrous. In another skit with prolific literary author Shane Joseph, I wrote a skit where Dana seeks out one of his book’s characters (George in the novel In the Shadow of the Conquistador) to find a possible relative of Sharon’s – Shane had one of his character’s last names the same last name as Sharon’s maiden name – without knowing this when he wrote the book). The skit turned into a free-for-all, especially when the Blue Denim Publisher arrived on the scene to scold the feuding characters. Shane played two roles, but the skit worked.
5. I’ve had Dana appear instead of me to promote Beyond Faith. Below she is with a bunch of other mystery authors from Crime Writers of Canada at an annual Ontario Library Association annual convention in downtown Toronto.
6. And you can take your author PR beyond readings to appear on panels, which I have done many times. I also host an online interview show Crime Beat Confidential on thatchannel.com where I interview people involved in some way with crime and mystery. Dana starts the show off, doing her usual Dana – dissing me and claiming she wrote Beyond Faith. But she also mentions the show’s guest and when it was a real life private investigator, she interviewed her for part of the show. Usually I do all the interviewing.
A link to the PI guest episode of Crime Beat Confidential is here.
And all this is a lead in to my Author Reading as part of a round of 11 Toronto Sisters in Crime reading each briefly reading a short excerpt from their published fiction. I will be focusing on a theme in my short passage and that’s all I’ll say. Except to add the details for these readings. So, if you are in the Toronto, Ontario, Canada area Thursday, January 16, 2020, here are the details.
Date and Time: Thursday, January 16, 2020, 7 p.m. to 9 p.m.