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Category Archives: Fictional Characters Interviewing Authors

Taming Time to write your novel

Sharon A. Crawford's latest in the Beyond series

Sharon A. Crawford’s latest in the Beyond series

Lately I’ve fallen into the writer’s trap of finding (or not finding) time to write my Beyond novel-in-progress. My characters – PI fraternal twins Dana Bowman and Bast Overture, the stuttering Detective-Sergeant Donald Fielding seem to be getting far away. Life, in too many forms, has gotten in the way. And this is not to my liking. So, it is time (pun intended) to go through an update of how to tame time (well try) so you can write.

First, two big words – delete and prioritize

  1. The “devils” in your life who intrude – can be family, friends, telemarketers, utilities and other people who mess things up for you, and house and property repairs. The list is endless. Decide who and what are important and when. Speak to family and friends about your writing situation but reiterate you will get back to them. Telemarketers – don’t answer the phone or door (for the in-person one). Utilities, etc., decide when you will deal with them.
  2. Emails – (and I’m guilty here) – decide what to answer and when. Set a timer if necessary.
  3. Decide what can be deleted from your life – use the word “no” a lot more. Better still, don’t sign up for something you are only mildly interested in. For me, that is one writer’s organization AGM (two hours is two-hours too much of my time). The Crime Writers of Canada AGM, however, is half that time and is followed by their annual banquet and Arthur Ellis Awards evening.
  4. Make your decisions on “delete and prioritize” on what is really important in your life – what works for your goals, particularly writing.
  5. For those with day jobs it can get even trickier, even when, like me, you work from home and client work takes up more time than you expected. For the latter, slot it in for specific times.
  6. If you are promoting another book via social media and/or in person – schedule a set time for the social media. In person may not be completely under your control for time and date, but factor it into your schedule.
  7. Draw up a flexible timetable – “flexible” because stuff happens. You just don’t want so much stuff happening you don’t have time to write.
  8. Re-acquaint yourself with your novel’s characters. You can be plotting in your mind as you go for a walk.
  9. And don’t forget to relax, to breathe and enjoy the day now that spring is here.

 

Dana, Bast, Donald, et al. I’m thinking of you and will be writing more in your novel tomorrow.

 

And anyone or anything that gets into the way of that will have to answer to the wrath of Sharon A. Crawford. Remember my current published mystery novel is titled Beyond Blood. And some events and people in my life who have really aggravated me have been fodder (fictionalized of course) for my short stories and novels.

 

Cheers.

 

Sharon A. Crawford

Sharon A. Crawford is the author of the Beyond book series. More info at www.samcraw.com and www.bluedenimpress.com – my publisher – you can also purchase e-books – both Kindle and Kobo – there.

Beyond Blood Book cover at the top of this post links to my Amazon author profile. If you buy a copy there, please do a review there.

 

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Let your fiction characters evolve

Sharon A. Crawford's latest in the Beyond series

Sharon A. Crawford’s latest in the Beyond series

How relevant is your original concept of your fiction characters? You do an outline of their traits and how they act, talk, etc. Then as you write your novel something happens.

Your characters have the nerve to change. They don’t act according to your plan, your concept of them. And worse, the little devils want to take over your novel.

Excuse me. It is their novel too. Without them you don’t have a novel or at the most, you have a bare bones plot with some iffy and maybe characters.

If you remember, last week’s post dealt with guest characters wanting to take over https://sharonacrawfordauthor.com/2015/04/16/fiction-characters-who-want-to-take-over-the-story/ so let’s take that a step further. But first we have to step back. You and your friends and family did not suddenly stop changing and growing (and not just physically here) at age five, age 20 and so on. You evolve; you change; things happen.

Same with your fiction characters. As you write your novel, no matter what you put in your outline for characters and plot, something is going to change if for no other reason than the original idea, the original concept, just won’t work.

I’ll give you an example from my recently published mystery novel Beyond Blood. One of the biggies was changing the POV characters from one – private investigator Dana Bowman, PI – to also her fraternal twin and PI partner Bast Overture, Dana’s six-year old son, David, and the mysterious Him. That sure opened up the plot. It also meant getting inside four, not one, characters’ heads.

And dealing with their development, their actions and their demands. Sure it puts the writer on edge. Would this change work? Should I do this or should I do that?

I’ve found when you get to a point where you have to deviate from the original plan, it works best to write spontaneously and see what happens. Each character will invade your mind and make demands. You may not use all of what they want, but listen to them. And just write. You can make more changes later.

That’s what I do even though it means scrolling to and from different parts to fix something that doesn’t seem consistent or make sense. And I do it when my characters insist.

Remember, characters are real to you and to your readers. Just like you, your family and friends, characters evolve over time.

Let them.

And if you want to hear a bit about the point of view changes I made, I will be reading from Beyond Blood this evening when I join 15 other Crime Writers of Canada authors reading at the Arthur Ellis Short List Party. We each get three minutes to read – I can just squeeze in my two pages of Prologue – one from Him’s point of view and one from Dana’s.

After the readings all the CWC authors short-listed in the various Arthur Ellis Awards categories will be named – out loud. If you are in the Toronto or GTA area in Ontario, Canada, please join us from 7 p.m. to 9 p.m. at Indigo Book Store in the Manulife Centre at Bay Street and Bloor Street West. It promises to be fun.

Cheers.

 

Sharon A. Crawford

Sharon A. Crawford is the author of the Beyond book series. More info at www.samcraw.com and www.bluedenimpress.com including a link to a radio interview at http://bluedenimpress.com/authors/sharon-a-crawford/ Online TV interview from Liquid Lunch is at http://youtu.be/i2bBaePIWgY

Beyond Blood Book cover at the top of this post links to my Amazon author profile. If you buy a  copy there, please do a review on amazon.

 

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Merry Christmas from Beyond Blood characters and Sharon A. Crawford

Dana Bowman, David Bowman and Bast Overture from Beyond Blood are here with me on this Christmas Eve. I am posting a day early this week because southern Ontario has a horrible weather forecast from late tonight and into tomorrow – very heavy winds so there is the worry of damage and power outage. Scrooge’s saying “Bah Humbug” comes to mind.

Dana: Now Sharon, it’s not that bad.

Me: Fine for you to say – you are 30 miles north of Toronto in Thurston.

Dana: But we do have Snow Lake, a pretty big lake so could have lake effect weather issues. We do have a wind warning.

Me: But not 60 k an hour with gusts up to 90 or 100 k depending on where around the Great Lakes you are.

Dana: True.

Bast: It doesn’t hurt to make preparations.

Dana: Yeah right, little brother. Like you did for Y2K? Bast already is creating outside-the-fridge storage for our food.

David: And I’m making a tent for my stuffed beavers.

Me: Really? How many beavers do you have now?

David: Twenty.

Me: Will they all fit in your tent?

David: Yes, it’s a big tent.

Dana (scratching her head): At least that gets them out of his bed. At this rate we’ll have to get him a bigger bed.

David: Aw, Mommie.

Me: I, too am making preparations for this wind storm, but hadn’t thought of a tent. Anyway, aside from the storm, what are you doing to celebrate Christmas? David, I bet you are waiting for Santa.

David: Yes, Uncle Bast says the chimney is big enough for him to get down. But is it safe for him to land on the roof?

Bast: Santa could also land on the ground and get through a window.

David: But all the windows are locked.

Bast: Santa will figure a way to get in. Don’t forget he is magical for Christmas.

David: Goodie. Mommie; don’t forget to leave a snack out for Santa – near a window.

Dana (ruffling David’s hair): Don’t worry, I won’t.

Me: So how else are you celebrating Christmas? Is Great Aunt Doris coming for dinner?

Dana: No way. If that woman comes, she stays and stays and stays. No just the three of us this year. We have a turkey…

Bast: already cooked in case of power outage.

Me: And where are you keeping it in case?

Bast: In a Styrofoam container on the back porch outside the kitchen door.

David: With a brick on top to keep out racoons.

Me: I thought Thurston was rid of racoons.

Dana: Sh. Don’t give the plot of Beyond Blood away.

Me: Did I mention Beyond Blood?

Dana: Well, no.

Me: Let’s just wish everybody a happy and safe Christmas.

Dana, Bast, David and Me: Happy and safe holiday.

David: And build a tent to keep you safe.

 

Next week’s post will feature my review of another suspense-mystery author’s new book – Rene Natan’s The Woman in Black. I’ll also be asking Rene some writing-related questions. Stay tuned and hopefully I’ll post on New Year’s Day instead of one day early.

Meantime see Sharon’s website http://www.samcraw.com for more info on Beyond Blood and other writing, editing and workshops. And visit Sharon at Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/pages/Sharon-A-Crawford/412730865439394
For last-minute Christmas shoppers: see below and click on book covers for online purchase of Beyond Blood e-copies from the publisher Blue Denim Pess (e-pub and Kindle). For print copies go to http://www.chapters.indigo.ca/books/contributor/author/sharon-a-crawford/?langtype=4105 Or go to any bricks and mortar bookstore and ask to have the book ordered in.

Cheers.

Sharon A. Crawford

 

 

 

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Beyond Blood character puts Sharon A. Crawford in hot seat

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

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

My ideas usually come not at my desk writing but in the midst of living.

 

  • Anais Nin

 

The other fraternal twin in Beyond Blood – Bast Overture is now going at me with the third degree. At least his journalistic techniques appear familiar to me – he has a recorder running and is also taking notes by hand to back it up in case of technological difficulties.

Bast: Okay, Sharon A., I’ll try not to cover exactly what my sister did last week, but I may want to add to it.

Me: Okay. Fire away.

Bast: First, I’d like to know more about your journalism career. You mentioned you did some crime stories but not a lot. As that is my forte, I wonder if you could tell me what stories you did write and why you wrote them.

Me: Sometimes the story was about a crime that I had first-hand experience with. I see you looked perplexed. No, I didn’t do the crime but it was done against me. For example, when I lived in Aurora, Ontario, my house was broken into. So I wrote a humorous personal essay on that. It was published in Wordscape Seven: Mystery & Suspense Anthology, MTB Press, 2001. I also wrote a story for a community newspaper about protecting your home from invasion.

Bast: What about other stories?

Me: I wrote a story about fraud against seniors in their homes, particularly about home renovations and repairs – this was before Identity theft, although I did write a story on that too. But as I told your sister Dana, I believe that if you do the crime you do the time – one way or the other. So, one of the ways I get back, if you will, is to write about prevention, so people don’t become victims of crime. I talked to seniors as well as police and a unique hardware store then in Aurora – the owners recommended legitimate and trustworthy tradespeople for this. I even found a handyman for me, although I didn’t interview him as that might be considered not at arms length – you know too close to the writer.

Bast: Hmm. You mentioned writing a story on Identity Theft. Can you tell me a bit about that? Did you pitch that story to a magazine or was it assigned?

Me: A little of both. I pitched it to the now defunct Homemakers magazine and the editor there was interested and added more scope to the story so that besides police and identity theft protection experts, I interviewed a couple of people who had their identify stolen – one by getting his regular mail redirected so he had to replace all his credit cards and other ID. The other one was the victim of mortgage fraud – someone put a mortgage, in her name, on her house without her knowledge.

Bast: I gather fraud is something you are interested in and you have that as one of the many crimes in Beyond Blood. How did that come about?

Me: Well, without giving the plot away beyond what is on the back book cover, the fraud in there comes from or maybe I should say is related to some of the other crimes. And I’m not saying any more except that some of the plot events are peculiar to that time (1998) and not completely relevant today.

Bast: That’s a bit obtuse. Care to elaborate.

Me: All right. Without giving it all away (and this is on the back cover) abortions, or rather illegal abortions are part of the story in Beyond Blood. And you know, abortions are in the news again with all the anti-abortion movements in the States and even some press in Canada. But the interesting thing here is not that so much as that one thing related to abortions which was illegal in Canada in 1998 is still illegal in Canada today.

Bast: Let the record show that Sharon A. is not talking about Canadian law regarding abortion itself. Abortions are legal in Canada. Sharon A. is referring to…

Me: Stop. Don’t give the plot away. Let’s just say it all is part of the plot and you and Dana figure it out, but will you do so in time to save Dana’s son and your nephew David?

Bast: Right. But maybe you could include that plot blurb on the back of Beyond Blood. That book cover photo at the top of this post shows the front page only.

Me. Okay. Here it is.

In Beyond Blood (Blue Denim Press, fall 2014), Dana Bowman has misgivings about starting the home-based Attic Investigative Agency with her fraternal twin, Bast Overture. Especially when the agency’s launch is preceded by a break and enter downstairs and a kidnapping at the Mini-Mall involving her son David’s babysitter, Debbie Sangwell. Especially when David is kidnapped and Debbie is murdered during the agency’s opening ceremonies. Hovering in the background is the mysterious “Him.”

Further digging reveals more kidnappings, murders, fraud, and abortion. The twins’ investigation also leads to run-ins with police detective Donald Fielding and CKNT TV reporter Charles Haas, the latter who has the “dirt” on Bast. A colourful cast of characters dot the pages, including Dana’s ex-husband Ronald, Great Aunt Doris, Mini-Mall merchants Lois and Ray Chalmers, and various nosy neighbours. Hovering in the background is the mysterious “Him.”

Dana is pushed beyond blood ties trying to avoid an emotional meltdown as a mother and focus on finding her son. The twin detectives discover that everything seems to be connected. Which connection will lead them to David, and to Debbie’s murderer? Will they be too late for David?

Click on my book cover above – it will lead you to my publisher Blue Denim Press’s website. Scroll down and you can see where Beyond Blood is currently available, including at www.bluedenimpress.com.

And check my website www.samcraw.com – click on Beyond Blood. I constantly update the gigs etc. on that page.

Cheers.

Sharon A. Crawford

 

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Dana Bowman interviews author Sharon A Crawford

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

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

I suppose all fictional characters, especially in adventure or heroic fiction, at the end of the day are our dreams about ourselves. And sometimes they can be really revealing.

  • Alan Moore

Dana Bowman sits before me, sketch pad and charcoal in hand. She is going to give me the third-degree interview.

Dana: I understand you and my brother Bast share a career background.

Me: Journalistic, yes. I am a former journalist for 30 years, so a bit longer than your twin. I did write a few crime-related articles but my beats were the arts, health, seniors, and profiles of all kinds of people.

Dana: How and why did you switch from journalism to mystery fiction?

Me: That’s really two questions. First, the journalism one – it wasn’t really a switch. I just got tired of all the work for newspaper and magazine stories for little pay. Guess I ran out of steam but I am still interested in people and writing their stories, so profiles aren’t off the table completely.

Dana: But why mystery fiction?

Me: Because that’s what I like to read and watch on TV. I grew up with Nancy Drew, the Hardy Boys and from age 12, Agatha Christie. And my late mom and I used to watch the Perry Mason TV series – the original one in black and white. From all that I got hooked on the puzzle – why people do what they do, why it brings them to murder and who the heck is the guilty party. I also have a sense of justice – people who do the crime should do the time – in one way or another. That doesn’t seem to be happening anymore in real life, even back in your days in the late 1990s.

Dana: As Bast would say, let the record show, that Sharon is referring to the timelines in Beyond Blood and Beyond the Tripping Point. So, Sharon, can you tell us how you, well created Bast and I? Are you and I similar in any way?

Me: That’s two questions again. I see that’s how you operate.

Dana: You started it all.

Me: Right.

Dana: How are we similar? Especially with our height.

Me: Yes, you and I are shorties, but I have a couple of inches on you.

Dana: Why did you make me 4’11”? Couldn’t you have brought me up to 5 feet at least?

Me: Too close to me. Actually the idea of both yours and Bast’s height came from an aunt and uncle on my dad’s side. Aunt Marguerite was 4’ll” and Uncle Miles was 6’2” But I did give Bast an inch. But I gave you some qualities and traits I don’t have. You own and drive a car. I couldn’t drive a car to save my life.

Dana: Would you want to?

Me: Very occasionally but seldom. I know I would be guilty of roadkill, so it’s safer if I’m never behind the wheel of a car. Also you have a cell phone and I don’t. Sure, it would come in handy in emergencies but cell phone technology is a whole lot more complicated in 2014 than in the late 1990s. And I gave you the gift of being able to draw because I can’t draw a straight line even with a ruler.

Dana: A little jealousy here?

Me. Maybe, but I wanted you different than I. And you and your brother evolved over 15 or 16 years of on and off writing, now definitely in the on stage.

Dana: And Bast? Why did you make him gay?

Me: Because when I first started writing Beyond Blood back in the late 1990s, gay people were just coming out more. The annual Pride parade was just starting up in Toronto. And I wanted a character that was different than what was being published. I know there are now gay (male and female) mystery characters, but how many of them are a fraternal twin?

Dana: True. What about my son David? Where did he come from?

Me: Well, I do have a son, who is now in his mid-thirties and I too was a single parent, so I suppose some of that originated there. And I had issues with being a working mom and wanted to bring that out in the stories.

Dana: Okay. Now, moving along. You mentioned that you want justice done in this world. Is there anything in your background, particularly when growing up, that made you feel this way?

Me: Several things. I was bullied as a child by both one of my best friends and also by a nun in grade school. Never beaten up – it was more verbal. Also I read a lot in the newspapers about 11 and 12-year-old girls getting murdered and that really upset me. I was the same age then. You have to remember this was around 1960 when things were supposedly stricter. Well, they were at school and church – I grew up a Catholic and so there was this belief in the bad being punished for their bad deeds, even an eye for an eye. So, if you killed someone, you deserved to die. But Canadian justice seemed to be getting too liberal. Many convicted murderers were getting their executions (hanging in Canada back then) stayed. I remember in grade 11 at high school class discussion on capital punishment – it was around the time that the government was considering dropping the hanging sentence. I was one of the few in the class who wanted Canada to keep the death penalty. We all know that didn’t happen and a lot of the criminal law got too much in favour of the criminals since then. Sure, some harsh sentences remain, but the convicted killers get jail credit for time spent in prison leading up to and during the trial. The bottom line is I don’t think justice for the victim is being given. But in a mystery novel you can have this happen – one way or the other – even with any lenient laws.

Dana: Wow. That sounds familiar. That’s me; that’s how I feel. And now understand better why I do what I do.

Me: Well, remember I may have created you, but you go out on your own in my stories.

Dana: Oh, so you give me enough rope to hang…. sorry, bad choice of words.

Me: Right. We don’t want you getting killed. It would kill the stories.

Dana: Of course. And I thought it was because you like me.

Me: I do.

Dana: Okay, that’s it for this time. Bast wants to interview you next week.

Meantime click on my book cover above – it will lead you to my publisher Blue Denim Press’s website. Scroll down and you can see where Beyond Blood is currently available, including at www.bluedenimpress.com.

And check my website www.samcraw.com – click on Beyond Blood. I constantly update the gigs etc. on that page.

 

Cheers.

Sharon A. Crawford

 

 

 

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