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Category Archives: Moving Target

Making Your Short Stories Sparkle and Sell

Cover of Sharon A. Crawford's mystery short story collection. Click on it for publisher's website

If you want to lift your short stories above the mediocre there are many things you can do. One of these is to be original in your story and in your characters. Readers like something different in their plot and eccentric characters can be a big draw whether you are writing commercial or literary fiction.

Three of us commercial fiction authors – Rosemary McCracken, Madeleine Harris-Callway and Sharon A. Crawford – who write both crime novels and short stories will be discussing why and how we do it. We will cover how we get story ideas and how much is from real life and how much from imagination. A couple of us have series characters in some of our short stories and in our novels, so we will discuss how we deal with time lines. Is it difficult going back and forth from writing novels and short stories and what the heck is the difference in how you write each?

Then there is marketing your short stories. Each of us has unusual ways we market our books (both the short stories and the novels).

And this panel will not be just the three of us talking. We are open to lots of  q and a.We want to get a real conversation going on short story writing. Here are the details about this upcoming panel being held by the East End Writers’ Group Wednesday, June 29, 2016.

Making Your Short Stories Sparkle and Sell

Do short stories come from real life, imagination, or both? How do you market short stories? For June’s East End Writers’ Group meeting join fiction authors Rosemary McCracken (shortlisted for the 2014 Derringer Award), Madeleine Harris-Callway (finalist for 2015 Arthur Ellis Award for Best First Novel), and Sharon A. Crawford (author of the “Beyond” mystery series) for a discussion on writing and marketing short stories.  Copies of authors’ books available and there will be  networking and food at 9 p.m.

Time and Date: 7 p.m. to 9.30 p.m., Wednesday, June 29, 2016

Location: S. Walter Stewart library branch, 170 Memorial Park Avenue, Toronto, Ontario, Canada

I am doing a guest blog post on Rosemary McCracken’s blog Moving Target about libraries and how they were and are important to me in my writing career, then seguing into this upcoming panel which is held at a library. There is a serendipity for me about this library branch. You’ll find this and more when my post is up on Monday, June 27 at Moving Target.

Meantime you can check out the panelists:

Rosemary McCracken http://www.rosemarymccracken.com/

Madeleine Harris-Callway http://mhcallway.com/

Sharon A. Crawford http://www.samcraw.com

Cheers.

Sharon A. Crawford

That’s my short story collection – Beyond the Tripping Point – book cover at the top of this post. If you click on the book cover, it will take you to my author profile on amazon.com

 

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Writing from Real Life

Rosemary McCracken author of the Pat Tierney mystery novels

Rosemary McCracken author of the Pat Tierney mystery novels

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

Thank you, Sharon, for inviting me here today!

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Rosemary McCracken

Pageflex Persona [document: PRS0000040_00070]

Bio:

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

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

Links to Rosemary’s books and short stories

Safe Harbor: myBook.to/SafeHarborTierney

Black Water: myBook.to/BlackWaterTierney

Raven Lake: myBook.to/RavenLakeTierney

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

 

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Crime Writing Trio off to York Region again

Sharon A. Crawford's latest in the Beyond series

Sharon A. Crawford’s latest in the Beyond series

The crime-writing trio of Rosemary McCracken, Nate Hendley and myself Sharon A. Crawford are off to yet another library in York Region. In this irregularly scheduled book tour of various York Region libraries, this evening we will hit the Woodbridge Library at 150 Woodbridge Ave. in where else – Woodbridge, Ontario. That’s just north of Toronto. Here’s the blurb about our presentation.

Crime Writers of Canada authors – Nate Hendley, Rosemary McCracken and Sharon A. Crawford have another run-in with crime (between the book covers) coming in September. It is all part of an irregularly scheduled tour of York Region library branches. The “crime” trio will be talking about their books and writing, answering questions from the audience and reading. Nate Hendley writes true crime, Rosemary McCracken writes the Pat Tierney mystery series, and Sharon A. Crawford writes the Beyond mystery series.

I find it interesting doing any crime writing presentation and reading – whatever format we use. This evening one of the librarians will introduce us and we will talk individually about some aspect of our writing. As Rosemary and I both write series mystery fiction, we try to talk about something different in crime writing (besides our book series and character and plots being different). Rosemary will talk about how writers handle writing a series and how writing contests helped market her short stories. I’m focusing on where my characters and plots come from and what, how and why I do the necessary research. Nate writes true crime so that is a whole different perspective,

Rosemary is driving us there and we plan to arrive a bit before the whole presentation starts at 6.30 p.m., going to around 8 p.m. We will have copies of our books, so if you are in the area (I know not all reading this post are), please drop in. It is free and promises to be entertaining.

Our photos and links to our websites/blogs appear below.

Cheers.

Sharon A. Crawford

Rosemary McCracken author of Safe Harbor and Black Water mystery novels

Rosemary McCracken author of Safe Harbor and Black Water mystery novels

https://rosemarymccracken.wordpress.com/

 

Nate Hendley true crime writer

Nate Hendley true crime writer

http://www.natehendley.com/

Sharon A. Crawford reads from her Beyond series

Sharon A. Crawford reads from her Beyond series http://www.samcraw.com

 

 

 

http://www.samcraw.com/

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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E-book sales inconsistent

Sharon A. Crawford's latest in the Beyond series

Sharon A. Crawford’s latest in the Beyond series

The stats are in. E-book sales are down, at least for traditional trade publishers. Yet some authors are beating the odds. What exactly is happening here? Weren’t e-books supposed to be the new book sales venue, the one readers gravitated towards?

First, a few statistics.

From Publisher’s Weekly:

“One reason for the 2014 decline in revenue and earnings was also a drop in digital sales. E-books accounted for 23.2% of S&S sales last year, down from 24.4% in 2013. Total digital revenue, which includes downloadable audio, generated 26.4% of revenue, down from 27.1% in 2013.” (See http://techcrunch.com/2015/03/03/publisher-revenues-down-as-ebook-buying-slows/

and

http://www.publishersweekly.com/pw/by-topic/industry-news/financial-reporting/article/65592-sales-earnings-fell-at-s-s-in-2014.html

Publishing pundits are blaming the decline partly on self-published books (the other is lack of block-buster books published). So… what about Indie published books? As self-publishing becomes more acceptable is this really hard to comprehend? And traditional book publishers only publish so many books each year – a lot has to do with their funds. In Canada, some rely on government grants.

Having said that, some small trade publishers such as my own Blue Denim Press, and Imajin Books in Western Canada, still manage to keep publishing (and we hope they continue to do so). Some of that is by going outside the usual trade publishing box. Both keep their “print run” down by going the Print on Demand route. My e-book sales were also down too the past year. But from what I can see from my royalty and royalty statement, and what I sell on my own at readings, etc., the print copies of my mystery fiction books are up slightly from the previous year. I don’t know if this is partly because I now have two books published with Blue Denim Press. What I do know is for the first time Blue Denim Press published a new book (complete with launch and all the promotion with that) this spring – not mine, but an anthology, Hill Spirits II. Blue Denim Press have been in business since 2011. See www.bluedenimpress.com for more info.

And why am I mentioning Imajin, another small Canadian trade publisher? Because one of their mystery fiction authors, Rosemary McCracken, was their top-selling e-book author for May 2015 for her mystery novel Safe Harbor. See Rosemary’s blog, Moving Target at https://rosemarymccracken.wordpress.com/2015/06/29/bestseller/.

As Rosemary states, Safe Harbor was published three years ago.

That should tell us something.

A few of those somethings are both author and publisher have to get out there (online and in person) to promote their books – a lot. And try new things. Both publishers and authors have to be flexible. The publishing industry is going through many changes. As some pundits have pointed out, the publishing industry is where the music industry was a few years ago.

And we know how Indie music has helped musicians – many we would not have heard of otherwise. And we music appreciators would have missed out on some excellent music.

Maybe the larger trade publishers need to take note, be more flexible, and go along for the ride.

We cannot go back.

My toonie’s worth anyway.

What do you think? Comments please.

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 from Blue Denim Press. Click on the Beyond Blood Book cover at the top of this post.

 

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