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Category Archives: Memoir

Behind writing a memoir

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.

Cheers.

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.

 

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Shared Virtual Book Promo Key during COVID-19 Lockdowns Part 2

Mystery fiction author Rosemary McCracken and I are taking mutual marketing of our new books in another direction. Interviewing each other about our latest books and posting the interviews on each other’s blogs. So her interview with me is on her Moving Target blog and my interview with her will be on this blog here. Right now I am in the process of interviewing her.

And if you are thinking what the heck does a mystery have to do with a memoir? Besides both genres beginning with an “M”? Well, I do brand myself as The M and M Creator of Mystery and Memoir. And my memoir The Enemies Within Us – a Memoir does have some mystery in it – an old unsolved murder case in the Toronto Police files, which my friend, The Bully and I, became fixated on. The murder victim was a girl, age 12. The Bully and I were 10. And I delve into some of the other occurrences in my childhood that would end up pointing me into a writing career – both nonfiction (journalism) and writing murder mysteries.

Some of the stories in Beyond the Tripping Point got their idea from things that happened in my childhood and later – fictionalized with events that never happened, and characters way off from the people in my life. Plus many characters not based on anyone in my life – at least that I recall. For example, the father in “Porcelain Doll” is very loosely based on my own father, except the fictitious dad was mean and criminal. My dad wasn’t that. The fictitious dad didn’t die of cancer. My dad did. Much of The Enemies Within Us – a Memoir deals with my relationship with my beloved Daddy and what cancer did to that.

But that was my first Beyond book and it won’t be my last. However, right now I am getting the word out about The Enemies Within Us – a Memoir. So, I will send you over to Moving Target and Rosemary McCracken’s interview with me and my memoir here. And while there check out more of Rosemary’s blog posts.

Stay tuned for an upcoming post on my blog about Rosemary McCracken and her latest Pat Tierney mystery Uncharted Waters.

Cheers.

Sharon A. Crawford

 

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Memoir book blurb page added

The Enemies Within Us – a Memoir has blog page

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.

And write.

And read

Cheers.

Sharon

 

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Preparing for a Virtual Book Launch

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

Hosted by Blue Denim Press

You are invited to my virtual book launch of The Enemies Within Us – a Memoir

Date and Time: Tuesday, November 24, 2020 from 7 p.m. EST to 8 p.m. EST.

Where: Blue Denim Press (my publisher) Facebook page  

Online Event http://facebook.com/blue.d.press/ Join Event 

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

Website: https://samcraw.com/

memoir website page https://samcraw.com/the-enemy-within-us-a-memoir/

Hope to see some of you at my book launch.

Cheers.

Sharon

 

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Book Promo in Pandemic Times

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).

My unofficial greeter on my veranda

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.

Sharon A. Crawford reads from her Beyond series

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

Amazon

Chapters/IndigO

I’ll leave you with a saying that all of us writers need to follow – in writing and marketing our writing, be it books, short stories or memoir.

Nothing ventured, nothing gained, which dates back to Chaucer in 1374.

How have you ventured with your writing? Did you have to push yourself to do so?

Cheers.

Sharon A. Crawford

 

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The Enemies Within Us – a Memoir is released

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October 1 was the big day. Blue Denim Press released my new book, my memoir. I am thrilled and am now busy with book promo and talking about the book and what’s inside it.

Part of that is posting to my blogs (I have another blog) but when I opened this author blog today to post, I got this new-fangled setup – supposedly to make it better and easier to post. Right. And pigs fly. The only thing “easier” is the print and setup on the eyes. Well, they did say it was coming setup, but no date set and no real warning.

Methinks I have to cross the M-line again to the mystery writing end and call on PI Dana Bowman to comment here. She is waiting to do so about The Enemies Within Us – a Memoir, but first…

PI Dana Bowman here. Like Sharon says, what is all this here? I think I have to agree with Sharon. Why fix what isn’t broken, what still works. Of course, that has different connotations coming from me as I’m from the late 1990s and going into 2000. I mean we did have email and Internet and cell phones, but not smart phones. Having had a gander at the latter, I don’t mind that change; but some things shouldn’t change, at least drastically.

This is maybe one reason why Sharon chose to write about her past, her childhood. From reading her book, I can see that some things, while appearing different from today, really never change – just some of the details. Take being bullied. Now kids are bullied online. It is there forever. It is…

Oh, Sharon wants to speak here.

Over to you Sharon A. Crawford

Dana is right. I was bullied by two people – a close friend and a nun. My memoir goes into that from my perspective as a child and my perspective as a senior. I don’t suddenly switch from young Sharon to old(er) Sharon. Occasionally I use the “in hindsight” type of phrase. But the content is from the two perspectives. What child of five, 10, or even 13 would have all the wisdom of an older person (this is a general question folks)? If I wrote it exactly and only like a five or 10-year old would say and see it, the story might not work; it might be uneven. I like to hold up Catherine Gildner’s Too Close to the Falls memoir as an example of excellent blending of her childhood but looking back from an adult’s hindsight, and still keeping the child’s perspective. I don’t know if Ms Gildner would agree, but I see it (at least with my memoir) as the younger me sitting on the shoulders of the much older me and the two of us going back to the 1950s, 1960s and very early 1970s to dig up, tell, and yes, even analyze what the heck happened back then and how did it affect me. And hopefully I have learned from at least some of it.

One thing is certainly different than back then. I am no longer a shy child. In fact, some days you can’t shut me up. And I do tend to get carried away speaking my mind and writing what I think.

But isn’t the latter all part of writing. Even with fiction, the author can come through – somewhat in attitude and certainly in style with the writing.

So, when you read The Enemies Within Us a Memoir, this is something to keep in mind – maybe at the back of your mind. You want to enjoy your read and not get lost in analyzing. Despite the theme of me having to deal with my beloved Daddy getting cancer and eventually dying from it, there are lots of funny stories within the memoir.

And I’m going to end this blog post with a short excerpt from one of these stories where my parents collaborate to teach six year old me how to ice-skate.

Daddy turns on the hose, and out pours cold water. Overnight it freezes on the dormant grass in the backyard. I never think how the water passes through the hose. Wouldn’t it be frozen? Does Daddy put his ear to the lime green radio and listen to the weather reports to see when the daytime temperature sits around freezing (32 degrees Fahrenheit then) or just below? When night falls, so does the temperature, and in the morning—magic—instant skating rink.

Then Daddy turns it over to Mommy. Like a dance instructor trying to teach steps to a nervous wannabe, she grabs my hands and tries to set me in motion.

“Come on Sharon. Just slide your feet, one foot in front of the other.”

My feet, tucked tightly into new white figure skates, scrape and totter along the ice and my fingers dig into her hands; her mittens no protection for the hard, petrified squeeze I give her. I do not want to fall. I might break a leg. I’m terrified of losing control, so carry on clinging to Mom as she steps backward, sometimes in her rubber boots and sometimes in an old pair of Daddy’s black hockey skates. I follow forward like a drunken clown. (Copyright 2020 Sharon A. Crawford, The Enemies Within Us – a Memoir, Blue Denim Press)

The Enemies Within Us – a Memoir is available at

Amazon and Chapters/Indigo online.

Happy Reading.

Sharon A. Crawford

And Pi Dana Bowman, for this post anyway

 
 

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Return to blogging with a new book

“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.”

Cheers.

Sharon A. Crawford

 

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