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Category Archives: Other authors

Rolling out the author readings with Canadian Authors Toronto

Now that spring is here, it is time for me to get back into author readings.So next Tuesday evening, April 4, I will be taking my Beyond books for a reading at a Toronto library branch. Four other authors will join me: Bianca Lakoseljac, K.V. Skene, Michael Pawlowski, Ellen Michelson, Catharine Fitton

The readings are being held by the Canadian Authors Association Toronto Branch. This branch has been shall we say “sleeping” the past couple of years, but now branch president Chris Canniff has kick-started it with this author reading which is open to the public.

The Canadian Authors Association has been around for close to 100 years. It was started in 1921 by some prominent Canadian authors, including Canadian humorist, Stephen Leacock. It’s focus has been and still is “writers helping writers”, which it does in many ways. These include work with copyright issues for writers, establishing literary awards including the annual CAA Literary Awards for non fiction, fiction, poetry, and drama. CAA also came up with the first book contract between authors and publishers.

And, oh yeah, members are both published and non-published authors.CAA has branches right across Canada.

Some of these branches have a Writer in Residence. Vancouver branch’s WiR is well-known poet, editor, and short fiction author Bernice Lever. Bernice used to live in my neck of the woods and she was one of my mentors. She used to run a writing critique group in Richmond Hill, just north of Toronto. When I lived in the area, I attended it. Bernice inspired me to start my East End Writers’ Critique group in September 2000 and EEWG is loosely based on the Richmond Hill group.

I, too, had the honour of being Writer in Residence for the CAA – the Toronto branch, from 2001 to 2003, and then again from 2009 to 2015, although the current Toronto branch website still has me listed as WiR. The website is to be updated shortly.

You can check out more about the Canadian Authors Association here. There are links to the branches and much more information.

As for the Toronto branches Authors Reading evening, here is the “dirt” according to Chris Canniff and a link to the CAA Toronto Facebook page. And you don’t have to be a CAA member to read at this event, but if you are in the area you can drop in to meet us.

“We want your stories! The Canadian Authors Association Toronto Branch is having a meeting on Tuesday, April 4 at 6:15pm and we want you to come prepared to read, or come to listen to what others are writing. Event details are below Bring your best work, or a work in progress! Please RSVP to president@canauthorstoronto.org to sign up for a reading. Readings are generally 3-5 minutes long, but that can be extended depending upon the number of readers. Beverley Burgess Bell, who hosts an Oakville Writers Group, will be moderating. Come out, bring a friend, and help us make this meeting a success. We look forward to seeing you there! Check out our new Facebook page, at > https://www.facebook.com/CanadianAuthorsAssociationTorontoBranch/ And our soon-to-be-updated website www.canauthorstoronto.org Event Details: What: Member Reading. Non-Members are also welcome to attendd, but all members and non-members should RSVP. Non-members are encouraged to consider membership!
When: Tuesday, April 4 from 6:15 – 8:15 Where: Toronto Public Library [Annette St. Branch] – 145 Annette St. Website: http://www.torontopubliclibrary.ca/detail.jsp?R=LIB022 Location Details: Closest major intersection is Keele and Annette Streets. Branch is located on the southwest corner of Annette Street and Medland Street.”

And if you click on the Beyond book icon at the top it will take you to more info about my books.

Cheers.

Sharon A. Crawford

 

 

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Sharon A. Crawford reviews Christopher Canniff’s Poor Man’s Galapagos

Canniff-back-cover-pic-e1442498323960-225x300Here is my review of novelist Christopher Canniff’s book Poor Man’s Galapagos, also being launched by Blue Denim Press November 21, 2015. But first a bit about Chris.

Christopher Canniff is the author of Abundance of the Infinite (Quattro Books, 2012) and the forthcoming Poor Man’s Galapagos
(Blue Denim Press, 2015).
Christopher has been mentored by two of Canada’s top writers, MG Vassanji and David Adams Richards, at the Humber School for Writers.  He is the current President of the Canadian Authors Association Toronto Branch (www.canauthorstoronto.org).
He shortlisted for the 2010 Matrix Litpop Awards for fiction, and he won a short novel contest with LWOT Magazine in Montreal. He has published in Descant Magazine Issue 152 (Spring 2011), and he also shortlisted in the 2012 Ken Klonsky Novella Contest with Quattro Books. He has sold two radio scripts to Falcon Picture Group in Chicago, Illinois, USA for a nationally-syndicated radio program, and he has published with Tightrope Books in Toronto.
Christopher moved to Ecuador to begin writing.  There, he read over fifty books of world literature, learned a new language and culture, and taught English at an Ecuadorian university for WorldTeach, a non-profit and non-governmental organization based at the Harvard Institute for International Development. While in Ecuador, Christopher began work on two novels, one of which became Poor Man’s Galapagos.  He lived briefly in Quito (the country’s capital) and, for six months, lived with an Ecuadorian family in Portoviejo (literally translated, “old port,” a dusty town 30 kilometres from the coast, said to have been relocated from beach dwellings as pirates chased the residents further inland.) Christopher took culture, language and history classes about Ecuador, and worked with Plan International, an organization with the aim of improving Ecuador’s faltering rural education system.  Christopher obtained a Mechanical Engineering degree in 1995 from the University of Toronto, and he is a registered Professional Engineer in the province of Ontario.
He is married to Roxanne, and lives with his son Colin and daughter Abigail in Windsor, Ontario.

Book Review

Christopher Canniff’s latest novel Poor Man’s Galapagos is the coming-of-age story of an 18-year old university student, Tómas Montgomery Harvey. But that’s where similarity to the usual coming-of age novel ends because of the complicated plot Canniff has woven. First there is the setting – a small Ecuador island, Isla de la Plata. The novel is set from August 1987 into 1988. A war between Ecuador and Peru has been ongoing for many decades. Military conscription is mandatory and the bottom line for Tómas is he is afraid to go to war, afraid of being killed. This is first hinted at in the novel’s beginning when Tómas, working with student revolutionaries, does not have the nerve to light and throw a Molotov cocktail at a passing government vehicle.

Friends and so-called friends of Tómas and his father have differing approaches to keep Tómas out of the military. His friend, Juan Carlos, the newspaper editor of the island newspaper and a former lawyer, tries to go the court route with conscientious objection. Edwardo Delgado, a long-time friend of his father, at his father’s wishes, hires Tómas to work as the engineer in charge of the large hotel resort Edwardo is building, which provides a means for Tomas to get a military card and an exemption from military service.

Tómas goes along with both, with disastrous results. As Juan Carlos tells Tómas “What people perhaps should do, and what they actually do, is often very different.” That includes Tómas’ father, the legendary freelance photojournalist, Montgomery Harvey. All his life Tómas has lived in the shadow of his father, always feeling no love from his father, who spent more time travelling for his stories, than with his son and wife, Veronica. As the novel opens, Montgomery has been linked in the press with embezzling funds and after a meeting with Tómas on the beach, he says he is leaving for good. After his father departs, Tómas decides he has to reconnect with him and find his birth mother. Only by choosing his own options, and following through, despite many hurdles, is Tómas able to transition through the murky road of becoming an adult.

The novel is told with the alternating viewpoints of Tómas and Montgomery Harvey, which works well to provide details to the reader, but never revealing too much at a time. To avoid any spoilers, let’s just say that Canniff builds up the plot, piece by piece, keeping the reader’s interest. Although the novel, starts a bit slow (despite that Molotov cocktail), hang in there, it picks up very soon. Your best bet is to keep on reading to the end in one sitting, if possible, like I did while a wind storm occurred outside.

Reviewed by Sharon A. Crawford, author of Beyond Blood and Beyond the Tripping Point

Christopher’s books are available at the usual places such as Amazon and Indigo. He is also on Goodreads.

Christopher’s Website

Christopher’s Blog

For more information about Shane’s books and where they are available go to his publisher’s website.

Christopher Canniff’s book is one of two being launched by Blue Denim Press Saturday, November 21, 2015. For more details, check the flyer below

See you there on Saturday. I’m the guest author.

Cheers.

Sharon A. Crawford

 

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Sharon A Crawford reviews Shane Joseph’s In the Shadow of the Conquistador

Shane Joseph head shot for book review posting 243887As promised, here is my review of novelist Shane Joseph’s latest book In the Shadow of the Conquistador. But first a little bit about Shane Joseph in his own words.

Shane Joseph is a graduate of the Humber School for Writers in Toronto, Canada. He began writing as a teenager living in Sri Lanka and has never stopped. Redemption in Paradise, his first novel, was published in 2004 and his first short story collection, Fringe Dwellers, in 2008. His novel, After the Flood, a dystopian epic set in the aftermath of global warming, was released in November 2009, and won the Canadian Christian Writers award for best Futuristic/Fantasy novel in 2010.His latest release is In the Shadow of the Conquistador, a novel set in Peru and Canada. His short stories and articles have appeared in several Canadian anthologies and in literary journals around the world. His blog at www.shanejoseph.com is widely syndicated.

His career stints include: stage and radio actor, pop musician, encyclopaedia salesman, lathe machine operator, airline executive, travel agency manager, vice president of a global financial services company, software services salesperson, publishing editor, project manager and management consultant.

Self-taught, with four degrees under his belt obtained through distance education, Shane is an avid traveller and has visited one country for every year of his life and lived in four of them. He fondly recalls incidents during his travels as real lessons he could never have learned in school: husky riding in Finland with no training, trekking the Inca Trail in Peru through an unending rainstorm, hitch-hiking in Australia without a map, escaping a wild elephant in Zambia, and being stranded without money in Denmark, are some of his memories.

After immigrating (twice), raising a family, building a career, and experiencing life’s many highs and lows, Shane has carved out a niche in Cobourg, Ontario with his wife Sarah, where he continues to work, write, and play in a rock band.

Shane Joseph, believes in the gift of second chances. He feels that he has lived many lives in just a single lifetime, always starting from scratch with only the lessons from the past to draw upon. His novels and stories reflect the redemptive power of acceptance and forgiveness.

Book Review

Shane Joseph’s latest novel, In the Shadow of the Conquistador. deals with people’s expectations when they are young, what they do to attain them, and coming to grips in middle age with the results. Joseph’s two main characters, long-time friends George Walton and Jeremy “Jimmy” Spence meet as school children living in Toronto’s east end. George is aggressive and Jimmy is withdrawn. However, the two become close friends, with Jimmy, like the novel’s title, living in George’s shadow. A third character, Denise Langevin, whom both men love but only one marries, keep the two men connected, sometimes in mind only, with several separations, sometimes due to job locations, sometimes due to their personal conflict. There is also a fourth “character” – the novel Conquistador, written over the years by George, which is inserted as a parallel to the main story. Conquistador is Spanish for conqueror and lady-killer, both of which apply to George’s modus operandi going through life. George’s novel tells the story of the Spanish conquering the Incas in Peru in the 1500s, particularly the Spanish leader, Francisco, who like George, is compelled to conquer – in his case – the Incas.

The novel begins with the two men, now middle-aged, meeting in Lima. Peru, at George’s request, after a 20-year separation. Ostensibly they are there to climb the Andes Mountain to the Machu Picchu, an historic site from the Incan reign before the Spanish conquest. As they hike the treacherous route with their guide Valdez, Jimmy’s and George’s past parades before them, taunting and terrorizing them. In Lima they meet two women, Ali and Bea, 15 years their junior. Ali is a spitting image of Denise and shy Bea has a large facial scar. The inevitable seems to be building up, but just when you are expecting it, Joseph adds a few twists.

Joseph intertwines this past with the present, each driving the novel forward. The reader learns that George is a womanizer, to extremes, and that trait cost him a possible political career, his career in academia and his wife, Denise. Denise turns to Jimmy, but he is a control freak and as neither man let her “do her own thing” she leaves them both and returns to her native Montreal where her mother is dying.

The difficult climb up the mountain, done in spurts over several days acts as a catalyst for George and Jimmy to sort out the consequences of their lives. As they interact with each other and the two women, both learn that you can’t always get what you want in life, but the alternative can be a better road to take, or if you live too hard and selfish, sometimes it is too late to do anything but accept the consequences.

Joseph continues to write a compelling story with real-life characters that readers can relate to. Only one negative – I wish the actual years for the past would have been headlined at the beginning of each pertinent section as I got confused a few times, especially when Denise and Jimmy meet after seven years of not seeing each other and Denise has aged, but the timeline is not as far along as I thought. The only dates are the ones at the top of Denise’s letters to her mother and the odd reference by Jimmy to starting university in 1968. And I never did figure out exactly where in middle age George and Jimmy are when they meet in Peru.

But dates aside, I suggest reading In the Shadow of the Conquistador in one or two sittings to get the most out of it.

Sharon A. Crawford

Author of Beyond Blood and Beyond the Tripping Point

Shane’s books are available in the usual online places like amazon.com. He is also on Goodreads .

Read Shane’s blog posts  Also included here is a list of Shane’s published books.

Shane’s recent guest blog post on Shannon J. Thompson’s blog

Book Review by Sharon A. Crawford at Indigo Chapters

For more information about Shane’s books and where they are available go to his publisher’s website.

Shane Joseph’s book is one of two being launched by Blue Denim Press Saturday, November 21, 2015. For more details, check the flyer below:

 

 

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On the book promo road again

Sharon A. Crawford's latest in the Beyond series

Sharon A. Crawford’s latest in the Beyond series

The presentation at Woodbridge library last Thursday evening was another one of those magical evenings where readers and authors connect. So much so we could have gone long beyond the end time.

Rosemary McCracken, Nate Hendley and I did our separate mini-presentations, each ending with a short reading from one of our books. Nate sat between us “the thorn between the roses” is the way he put it. Maybe, but not the author, more for what he writes – true crime. Nate talked about how he started writing books and sort of “fell” into writing about criminals and now also those wrongly convicted like Steven Truscott. Nate also read an excerpt from Steven Truscott: Decades of Injustice (Five River Publishing, 2012)

Rosemary talked about her mystery series featuring financial advisor Pat Tierney and the issues writers of book series have to face. She also discussed how writing contests have helped her get her stories (yes, she also writes short stories) published – something writers shouldn’t ignore. Rosemary read the beginning of her first Pat Tierney novel Safe Harbor (Imajin Books, 2012)

I talked about my series characters – but not from the writing a series viewpoint, but where some of them came from and the location and time period for the Beyond stories featuring the fraternal twin PIs Dana Bowman and Bast Overture and how both affect my research. I also covered a bit of the research I do and read the beginning Prologues from Beyond Blood.(Blue Denim Press, 2014)

And then we turned it over to the audience. Lots of questions – from research to journalism – I got the question on the latter to my surprise because I’m the former journalist and Nate and Rosemary continue working as freelance journalists. The questions turned into a real dialogue among authors and readers. Like we were chatting in a living room – well a somewhat large living room. Afterwards, some of the readers came up to the table to chat more with us and to buy a few books.

And some of us Crime Writers of Canada authors are going to do it again next Tuesday, Sept. 29, 6.30 p.m. to 8 p.m., this time at a library in Toronto’s west end – Runnymede branch. This time the authors are Rob Brunet, Karen Blake-Hall, Madeleine Callway and myself. No true crime, but three of us (Rob, Madeleine and I) all had our first novel published in the second half of last year. Karen writes sizzling suspense-romance. The presentation is free so if you are in the Toronto area, please come – exact address is 2178 Bloor Street West, Toronto, ON. I’m not going to put the library link because as I found out in my other blog http://www.onlychildwrites.wordpress.com) posting on Tuesday, the link for that memoir writing workshop I was teaching Tuesday evening has now disappeared. Fair enough. The workshop is done and over with. So, for now you can check out my Gigs and Blog Tours page on this site (click on it at the top). Just remember the link to the Runnymede library blurb will probably disappear after Sept. 29.

And that reminds me – I better add October’s events to this  Gigs and Blog Tours page.

Cheers.

Sharon A. Crawford

Click on the Beyond Blood cover at the top to find out where copies are available

 

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Authors helping authors

Sharon A. Crawford's latest in the Beyond series

Sharon A. Crawford’s latest in the Beyond series

I have always tried to help other writers in whatever way I can – and I don’t just mean editing their writing or consulting for a fee. And this is so true for authors promoting their work – published and unpublished. We all have strengths and weaknesses here (and sometimes we don’t always know what they are at first).

Sometimes it is a good idea to mutually help each other – using our individual strengths. You know the old saying “two heads are better than one.”

Last evening I had a chat covering all this with another published fiction author (suspense romance) Karen Blake-Hall. When we met I had no idea that our conversation would lead to this mutual help to promote our books. Karen has a sales background and is willing to help me with using social media. Yes, I use some, but could do much more with social media and boy did, Karen have ideas.

On my side, as I admitted to her, I am better at the in-person promotion. A blogger once told me I am good at connecting people with what they want and need – in person and by email (All those business networking lunches, dinners, etc. in the past are paying off). And I am good at public (as in physically there) presentations and readings). Still need a little bit more promo slants there, though and Karen came up with something she does that would work for me, too. I also connected Karen with the TV and radio programs where I was interviewed.

I am glad to do so. For those of you who might have the idea that authors helping each other will interfere with their book promotion and sale results, think again. Think of a variation of the old saying “safety in numbers” – i.e., “more exposure and more fun in numbers.” Still don’t believe me? Read my guest blog post from March 9, 2015 on Shannon A. Thompson’s blog at http://shannonathompson.com/2015/03/09/author-and-reader-connection/

 

Often I help emerging authors –whether through writing workshops, my East End Writers’ Group, word of mouth, email, etc. And their thank you and getting some good, some success, out of what I have to offer gives me a good feeling.

I do believe that what you sow, you shall reap – in other words what goes around comes around.

It might not be right away, but it will happen. And good Karma is better than bad Karma. So why not work together?

Authors helping authors. It’s win/win.

And here is a link to Karen Blake-Hall’s website. Take a look and maybe some of her e-books will interest you. http://karenblake-hall.com/

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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