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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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Tales from the book promo trenches Part 2

Sharon reads from her Beyond book series

Sharon reads from her Beyond book series

The book promo for Beyond Blood continues. This time the promo took on somewhat different formats.

 

Wednesday, November 26 I was the guest speaker at the East End Writers’ Group. Disclaimer: it is my own group but because we meet in a library branch (S. Walter Stewart in Toronto) in their large auditorium, we can schedule guest speakers for the first part and after the break do our usual writing critique of members’ works-in-progress.

I talked about how I transition from short stories to novels and vice-versa with series characters. As my situation of writing/publishing is backwards in time, i.e. not chronological, that makes it more complicated. Beyond the Tripping Point, the short story collection was published in fall 2012 but the four linked stories with the fraternal twin PIs Dana Bowman and Bast Overture, occur in 1999. Beyond Blood is the pre-quel novel set in eight frantic days in August 1998.

My dirty little secret is an older version of Beyond Blood had been written 12 or so years ago. Of course, it had to be completely rewritten. But some of the plotline and character development was already there – something I had to keep in mind when writing the BTTP short stories. It was a constant back and forth as was this presentation last week because I also had q and a with the audience. We even worked humour into the discussion. I ended by doing a short reading from Beyond Blood.

No, didn’t sell any books there – at least in print. But maybe a few people bought e-books on line. Also, when I thought of it, some of the people there had come to my book launch and had already bought a book. Still a good evening.

Saturday, November 29 my books were part of the Toronto Heliconian Literary Group table at the Toronto Heliconian Club’s first (in this incarnation) art and gift sale. In fact, I organized our table. Like sometimes happens with the first of anything, attendance wasn’t great. But I did sell three copies of Beyond Blood and had some good chats with the other member authors. Afterwards, three of us went to the nearby Hemmingway’s Pub for some wine, an early supper and more chatting.

And I bought a mask from one of the artist vendors at the club sale. I collect masks.

But I am now wiped out from all this physical book promo, organization and also client work. I will be taking some time off soon this month to reconnect with family and friends, to attend some Christmas parties and to do some more writing/rewriting of the next novel in the Beyond series. And I will focus more on social media promo for Beyond Blood. And getting more sleep.

But this blog will continue on its weekly (Thursday) basis. However, for the next two weeks I’m letting my two PI characters – Dana Bowman and Bast Overture – do the posting.

Meantime, you can go to my publisher’s website www.bluedenimpress.com to order e-pub and Kindle copies of Beyond Blood and Beyond the Tripping Point. Also check out my interview with Tom Taylor on cable TV. I talk about writing novels, short stories and some of the characters in Beyond the Tripping Point. Go to http://bluedenimpress.com/authors/sharon-a-crawford/ and scroll down on the right until you get to  Watch Sharon A. Crawford and Beyond the Tripping Point on Rogers Cable TV

And I will be going to the book launch of World Enough and Crime Anthology featuring stories by Rosemary McCracken, Rosemary Aubert, Melodie Campbell, Donna Carrick and many more this Saturday, Dec. 6 from 2 p.m. to 3.15 p.m. at Sleuth of Baker St., 907 Millwood Avenue in Toronto. Check out Sleuth at http://sleuthofbakerstreet.ca/ Beyond Blood is also available there to order online.

Cheers.

 

Sharon A. Crawford

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. Click for link to purchase e-copies

 

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Juggling time to publicize first novel and write second novel

Amazon.com link to Sharon A.'s short story collection

Amazon.com link to Sharon A.’s short story collection

I’m writing a book. I’ve got the page numbers done.
– Steven Wright

I am doing the happy dance because my first novel Beyond Blood will be published fall 2014 by Blue Denim Press and continuing to write my second novel Beyond Faith.

How the heck do you balance the time for both? I am a newbie at this and as many of you know I have another book out, Beyond the Tripping Point, also published by Blue Denim Press. The juggle is doable, but before I give my tips, I want to refer you to a blog post by another author Amy Sue Nathan who had the same dilemma last year. She has more juggling experience here and each of her novels have completely different characters. So she had the difficult task of keeping her characters separate See http://bookpregnant.blogspot.ca/2013/07/publicizing-one-book-while-writing.html for her post about this dilemma.

My novels are series and so the main characters are the same. Ditto the four linked stories that are part of Beyond the Tripping Point. So that should make it easier to keep track of characters. Right?

Wrong. Especially the timing of the books being published vis-a-vis the timeline in the three books.

My main characters are fraternal twin private investigators Dana Bowman (divorced mother), and Bast Overture (single, gay), Detective Sergeant Donald Fielding (investigating police officer from Major Crimes), PC Joseph Oliver (Records Bureau head who is the twins police connection), Great Aunt Doris (the eccentric aunt of Dana’s ex-husband who lands on Dana unannounced) and David, Dana’s son.

The latter makes things more difficult as he is psychologically mute in Beyond the Tripping Point because of what happens in Beyond Blood. So the actual order of the stories is not the order of the books published. The timeline for the stories (short and novels) is:

Beyond Blood – eight days in August 1998

Beyond the Tripping Point (the four linked stories) from May 1999 to late October 1999

Beyond Faith (title at this point) – late November 1999 into January 2000.

So, while the characters are basically the same (with added ones for each story/novel) I have to watch their development based on that timeline. So, when writing Beyond Blood (actually rewriting as this was the novel in an earlier version that sat on the shelf and on the computer), I had to go back in time and be careful not to mix up the character and plot development order. With Beyond Faith, one thing I have to remember is that Bast shaved off his beard in one of the BTTP stories.

With all this in mind, how am I progressing with publicizing two books actually and writing the third?

First, as BTTP is almost two years old, I have now moved it into the “and other books published” category so any publicity for it will be tagged onto Beyond Blood. That leaves the two books.

I do what I have been doing for years with my writing, editing and teaching writing workshops – use a combination of go-with-the-flow-of-work (I may have just turned senior but I still have to earn a living) and use a Daytimer and to-do lists.

First, except for teaching day-long workshops and attending writing conferences, I don’t work weekends. (Of course I think of story ideas, plots and characters, but that’s internal work, not sitting at the computer and actually writing). Sundays I go over what needs to be done for writing, editing and workshop clients, for book writing and promotion for the next week. And I list them. I divide them up time and day-wise by marking “Mon. a.m.”, “Mon. aft.” etc. beside each. Then I transfer the items to a “to do” list in the appropriate date in my Daytimer. Except for client meets and workshop teaching dates, I don’t specify time of day.

The hope is that I will give each enough attention to move them along for the week. When I was still doing readings for BTTP that often occurred evenings. Ditto some writing workshops I teach. So, I factor that in.

And then the interruptions march in and try to take over, sometimes succeeding. Last week it was a potential new client who kept changing the time and day of our meet, sometimes making up the time. Luckily I phoned him first or I would have showed up at the right place but the wrong time. His last change-of-time was not showing up for last Friday’s appointment (by then I had moved it to my home office to save me some grief). He phoned an hour and a half after the meet time and wanted to come over to meet then. No way. I had other concerns and told him so.

I haven’t contacted him since but guess I will have to. Instead I contacted the client whose manuscript I was evaluating about my progress, finished the work and then emailed her again to set up our final meet. She knows the value of keeping appointments but she is a journalist. I also emailed another client I consult with on her writing and the other mystery author Blue Denim Press is publishing (we plan to do some joint PR – just to make life more complicated). And I managed a couple of sessions of working on Beyond Faith. I also write this weekly blog post (that ties in with book promo) and another more personal blog post Tuesdays that loosely ties in with my memoir I am finishing rewriting – but that’s another story.

Bottom line – you have to be organized, flexible and creative.

And give yourself permission to yell when something gets screwed up.
I also have a house and a garden. Today the guy from the window company is putting in three new windows. I am still after the arborist to cut down the dead silverlace and boxwood (damaged by our wicked winter) and deal with other personal stuff.
All fodder for future writing.

Cheers.

Sharon A. Crawford

You can read about my characters and their stories in my short story collection Beyond the Tripping Point (Blue Denim Press, 2012). Click on the book at the top and it takes you to Sharon A. Crawford’s profile – including book reviews – at http://www.amazon.com.
More info on Sharon A.’s upcoming gigs, workshops, guest blog posts, etc. at http://www.samcraw.com/Articles/BeyondtheTrippingPoint.html And keep checking http://samcraw.com/Articles/BeyondBlood.html for the latest news on the release of my first mystery novel Beyond Blood, also published by Blue Denim Press http://www.bluedenimpress.com More info on the Beyond Blood page as we get closer to the date.

 

 

 

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