Some of you may be wondering what has happened to the East End Writers’ group which I have been running since 2000, especially since COVID arrived and our meeting location – S. Walter Stewart library branch as well as the whole Toronto Public Library in-person closed down for some time. You may also be wondering where I have been. Well, on Facebook and via Email and Zoom, but some of my social presence got limited because of my eye problems. I have been blind in my left eye since beginning of 2019, but that didn’t stop me from posting. It was my so-called good eye developing a lot of problems (which I won’t go into now) and I had to have surgery in September. That did it.
So, as we get out of one of the worst years of my life and into 2023, hopefully a better year for all of us, I plan to be more regular with my blog postings – twice a month on my more personal one Only Child Writes and twice a month with this author one.
STARTING. NOW WITH SOME EXCITING NEWS AND INFO ABOUT THE EAST END WRITERS’ GROUP
WE ARE. BACK MEETING AT S. WALTER STEWART LIBRARY. Yay! And have been since the end of September. I. know, I know, should have posted this then, but I was still recuperating from my surgery. It was great to meet in person once
again, even if we have to wear masks, even if we are in a smaller room and meet earlier in the evening, even if also because of COVID we no longer have food or beverages for a networking snack break. We still have a break to chat. It is so good to be able to share our writing and give and get helpful feedback in person. We are still meeting on Zoom the second Wednesday evening of the month, which is good for those too far away to attend in person. (Some of our members moved away from Toronto.) But it is in person the fourth Wednesday evening of the month (excluding August and December).
A writer needs “outside” feedback for something he or she has written as we writers often have tunnel vision – thinking our writing is all bad, or all good, and/or missing something that doesn’t quite work and an alternative might be better. Enter our critiques. And we try to keep it positive.
I’m going to keep this post short but here is the link to The East End Writers’ group webpage for lots more info including the dates for our January to April meetings. If you live outside the Greater Toronto area you are still welcome to become an EEWG member and attend our Zoom meetings -it is free and so is receiving feedback.GO TO
So to all have a good and healthy New Year and keep writing.
With the pandemic dragging on way too long with so many variants, a book author has to find variations to in-person presentations and book signings to promote his or her book. Being a library lover and patron for many, many years, I am focusing on a few ways for library patrons and other book lovers to find my book, learn about it and borrow it from the library. And yes, I do get royalties for that from the Public Lending Right Program in Canada, as long as the library branches carry copies of my book. So, out there in library land are my three Beyond mystery books and my newest book The Enemies Within Us – a Memoir. It is the memoir I am going to spill the beans on what I am doing beyond getting the book into the libraries.
It helps that my East End Writers’ Group was meeting at the S. Walter Stewart library branch (as one of its programs), that is until the pandemic closed the libraries during lock downs, but even when lock downs were lifted and the libraries opened, in-person programs didn’t return. According to the librarian who I liaison with for EEWG, that won’t happen for some time. EEWG now meets twice a month on Zoom. But more importantly for this post, EEWG celebrated its 20th anniversary in 2020. I know, pandemic cancelled any in-library celebrations, but besides taping two appearances with a couple of EEWG members on the online TV show The Liquid Lunch, EEWG went virtual for a big 20th anniversary celebration in 2021. Hey, you got to do things differently.
Three of us organized this celebration – two other members, Kit a speculative fiction writer, and Shane, who is also my publisher at Blue Denim Press, and also a published fiction author and me. I lined up members – new and longtime – to showcase their creative talents, Kit hosted it, and Shane put together the publishing panel as well as being on it, and designing the invitation and setting up the Facebook login for people to attend. Shane and I also sent out virtual invitations and some of mine went to librarians and a retired librarian from the Toronto Public Library system.
And I made my presentation relevant to both one of my Beyond books – the latest Beyond Faith – and my memoir The Enemies Within Us. I used a connection between them – that nun from my past who bullied me in grade school. The nun in Beyond Faith is based on her. So I did a combination of reading and a skit for my presentation. Shane edited the Facebook video, divided it into two videos and both are now online and have been for the few months since the big celebration of May 26.
But I also recently did something else. I emailed my liaison librarian to see if she could get the links to the two EEWG anniversary celebrations on the Toronto Public Library website – as we had been meeting in one of the TPL branches. That didn’t happen exactly, but she was able to get another TPL branch, the Danforth/Coxwell branch to post it to their Facebook page the end of July. So thanks to Luke at the Danforth/Coxwell branch and Jennifer at S. Walter Branch for making this all happen. To see the Facebook posting Log in to Facebook, go here and scroll down. Or log into Facebook and do a search for Danforth/Coxwell library branch.
That’s not all I’m doing with the library – or trying to do. Toronto Public Library welcomes program proposals from authors – at this point for virtual and/for in-person whenever COVID will permit the latter. The big proposal form you fill out online lets you decide which you want – virtual or in-person or both. I chose both. My presentation, without completely giving it away, uses my little girl self and my senior self to present parts of my memoir, especially what it was like growing up with an elderly father who has cancer and being bullied. No bites yet, but I’m still working on the actual presentation.
The take-away here?
Find a writing-related event (yours or something else) you can anchor on to connect with the library and come up with an unusual presentation for your book that can be virtual. And remember libraries have branches for when they finally can open to in-person presentations, and there are libraries right across your country, which can be good for you and the libraries during a pandemic.
We book authors have to be creative to promote our books in pandemic times.
But don’t forget to get your book into the library. Find out how from your library and do it. Mine is in three Toronto public library branches and holds are on for it with some copies in transit from … you guessed it…the copy at S. Walter Stewart branch. The link to The Enemies Within Us in the libraries is here.
Good luck with promoting your book through the libraries.
Two years after I moved back to Toronto, I decided to start a writing critique group because I couldn’t find one near me that met on a weekday evening. When I was living in Aurora, a bit north of Toronto, I belonged to this wonderful writing critique group called Richvale Writers. It was run by poet Bernice Lever (and she continued to run it until she moved to BC) and was actually in Richmond Hill, which is a little closer to Toronto. But non-driver me and another non-driver writer were lucky to get a lift with another writer to and from the town centre for our meetings. I liked the way this group operated and it became a model for me to develop my East End Writers’ Group.
East End Writer began meeting in the tiny living room of my tiny east end bungalow. For that first meeting I worried there would not be enough room but worrying wasn’t necessary. Three people – my writer/editor friend from down the street, another writer from Canadian Authors Association, and myself were present for this meeting. Over the next few years the membership and attendance grew, especially when we had guest speakers. One evening we had 17 people crowded into my living room. We were spilling over into my office.
We also developed a modus operandi for our meetings. No feedback given in nasty and/or dictatorship type modes. But it couldn’t be all positive. The trick was to blend the positive and the negative about the story or poem being critiqued to help the writer improve, get ideas for writing problems he or she was having with the piece so the writer could make his or her story better and get it published. It was about the writing, not the writer. It was sharing. And many of us did get the rewrites of our critiqued writing published.
And yes, there were a few questionable feedbacks and complaints about them to me. I can take a lot of writing criticism, usually, but if I had several complaints about someone, unfortunately I had to ask them to leave or as I became more familiar with running a group talk to them and try to work it out. More on this below.
But the “house party” couldn’t last. In September 2013 I had a boarder and her cat. There was no room in this inn for a writers group. So, we became nomads. First stop was a cafe around the corner. I had done readings there from my first Beyond book – the short story collection Beyond the Tripping Point (Blue Denim Press, 2012) with some other Crime writers of Canada members. A few months later the cafe went out of business and closed.
Next stop was a combination second hand bookstore/quilting workshop centre. We were in the workshop room at the back. This one was for a few months only, but the owners told us this upfront. When our time was up the owners closed the bricks and mortars store and took the books to their online shop.
We were back on the street again. But not for long. Just a couple months of a summer break. Then, thanks to a librarian then at S. Walter Stewart library branch, East End Writers’ Group went into partnership with the library branch as a library program. This meant more publicity for the group with flyers from the library. Membership grew. We had a few public presentations strutting our creative talents (reading our writing, acting, singing, photography).
We also so had to deal with members’ problems. The one that comes to mind is the woman from a community college whom I call “the poacher”. She showed up for one meeting at the library and just about took over the meeting. Unfortunately, I was overtired that night and so were my wits. This particular woman was trying to form her own writing group to meet in the living room of the tiny bungalow she lived in. She persuaded some of the EEWG members to email her their short stories, novel excerpts, etc. for her to critique. I heard from some of the members that they never heard back from her in any way.
But Karma always kicks in, often when you do nothing. I heard later (and I don’t remember from where) that she not only didn’t get a writing group going in her bungalow, the landlord kicked her out, I believe because he wanted the house for a family member to move into. Lesson: if you give someone the boot or equivalent, you will also get the boot from someone.
In late 2019 we started preparing for our 20th anniversary in 2020. In February 2020 I picked up flyers for a guest novelist at one of our upcoming celebrations and was just going to distribute them when…
COVID-19 hit and many businesses, etc. in Toronto and elsewhere in Ontario, in other parts of Canada, shut down. That included all Toronto library branches. The library was now only online, so many of us were put on hold, in COVID limbo, where we still sit thanks to all the waves and variants of COVID. I will not go into who is to blame for all this COVID stuff here. Maybe another time. Maybe on my Only Child Writes blog. For now I prefer to focus on writing and the like.
One of our members, a retired IT guy got us on Zoom in April 2020. He does the technical stuff so is called the host. I am the meetings’ moderator. Since then we’ve been meeting on Zoom twice a month except for December. However, 20th anniversary celebrations got put on the back burner. I was too busy dealing with all the changes in living due to dealing with all the COVID stuff (for another blog post on another blog), and very busy with several rewrites of my memoir The Enemies Within Us – a Memoir, which as you may know from previous blog posts, was published in October 2020 by Blue Denim Press.
When 2021 arrived and COVID was still sticking its ugly face and other parts into our lives, I decided we were going to celebrate East End Writers’ Group 20th anniversary in 2021. Everything was all topsy-turvy, so why not?
Unlike our previous celebration presentations (10th, 13th, and 15th anniversaries) I was not going to do most of the organizing, preparations, etc. myself. So I put together a group of four of us – longtime members Shane Joseph and Tom Taylor and newer member (as in started to attend from our library meeting days) Andrea Laver, and me. All of us took on parts to get this show on the road -virtually, of course. Shane who is computer savvy (he is a writer but also publisher at Blue Denim Press) is handling all our technical stuff – planning meetings on Zoom, dress rehearsal on Zoom, upcoming show on Zoom, and the invitation on Facebook (with the Zoom login embedded in it for activation the evening of the show). Andrea volunteered to host the presentation, and I put out a call for presenters in the East End Writers monthly newsletters which I write and send out. And we got a variety of talent signed up – author interviews,singing and songwriting, readings, a presentation on what happens when fact and fiction collide, and a panel on publishing, although Shane took that one over after I got one more panelist signed up and he signed up the third panelist. Once that was done I left the panel set-up to those involved. Unlike our library presentations, this one won’t require a food spread for all.
In the following posts before the presentation I’ll be putting a bit more about who is doing what and an insight on an individual preparation for doing a presentation without giving it all away. As well as a few other things being done.
Meantime, take note again of this date for the presentation: Wednesday, May 26, 7 p.m. to 9 p.m. EDT(please adjust your time zones) and please sign in to attend. Here is the link which will get you to the actual invitation on Facebook before you sign in. You do have to login to Facebook to sign in as going. So, if you are a writer or reader, please join us.
COVID-19 days and nights continue and so do a lot of changes. For those of you (writers and others) who think that we writers just write in isolation anyway and can continue to do so, think again.
Writing isn’t just about writing. You have to market your little written darlings to get published, and if a book, promote it.
Before all that you might want (and need) some feedback on your writing-in-the-works. And if you have been attending in-person writing groups, you just can’t do that anymore – or at least for nowthanks to COVID-19. And for me, to add insult to injury (pardon the cliché, but a cliché is well, normal in these definitely non-normal times), the writing group I founded and still run, East End Writers’ Group, is supposed to be celebrating its 20th anniversary this year. We had lots scheduled and being prepared for this year.
A Writers Circle reading in person before
Then, thanks COVID-19, things were cancelled. Public venues were closed, including the libraries and we were meeting at the S. Walter Stewart library branch in Toronto since July 2014. Before that we were meeting for a few months in a used book store until it closed; before that in a café which closed too; before that for 17 years in my tiny bungalow. The latter is not an option now, especially with COVID-19 and doing the self-isolation bit until who knows when. Also, even without COVID-19, I don’t want meetings in my house anymore. Too much work.
My favourite meeting place – closed for now
So enter online.
Like many writing groups (and other groups, including my gardening club), we have zoomed into Zoom. I probably don’t need to tell anybody what this is, although how it works, is something else. Both my son, Martin (the IT guy) and a retired IT guy, Nick, who belongs to East End Writers’ Group suggested Zoom and although I haven’t too many clues about how it works (I’m improving with their help), I’m enthused about using Zoom and grateful they came up with the suggestion, and grateful that Nick is doing all the technical stuff to get the meetings going and creating the invitations for members. I am sending out the invitations, so not sitting on my laurels (cliché). So, I like to say, Nick hosts the session and I moderate it. In our two hours or so we have time for four members to each read a poem or two or a short prose excerpt and then after each author reads, it is my turn to lead a discussion and everybody else (and me, too) to give constructive feedback. At the end of our last Zoom meeting (we are meeting every two weeks) the diehards who stayed behind after all the feedback was finished, got into a discussion of how COVID-19 is affecting our writing. The consensus was it is causing us to be distracted and not get as much writing done as we would usually do.
As for the East End Writers’ 20th anniversary celebrations, that too has gone online. Earlier in May, novelist Shane Joseph, who is one of the EEWG’s original members and I were guests on Liquid Lunch on thatchannel the online TV station where I tape my Crime Beat Confidential Show. Liquid Lunch’s host, Hugh Reilly, interviewed Shane and I (remotely – he was in the studio and Shane and I were in our respective homes and coincidentally in our respective offices. Maybe some underlying wish that it will inspire our writing?) to tape the show. The episode is on You Tube now and also you can get to it via thatchannel. Shane and I talk about the early days of East End Writers’ Group. But pay attention to the last part and what we talk about. You can probably guess. Note: as we are isolated, we are not wearing masks, but Hugh is wearing his trademark toque.
And the link to my East End Writers’ Group is here.
So, I guess the message for writers is: don’t let COVID-19 get you down. Find a writers’ critique group online and KEEP WRITING. If you go to my Facebook author page, I post daily writing quotations on weekdays, from other writers, some well-known, some not, to inspire you and get you thinking and writing. Here is that link.
How many times have you been at a table trying to sell your books? Maybe it is a writer’s festival or maybe a church bazaar or some other event. And you get some interest in your book from someone until they look at the price. Then it is “is it available in an e-copy.” Or I don’t have enough cash on me/spent all my money/I’ll be back later when I’m leaving.”
Instead of frowning, yelling, whining or going into extreme book selling mode, why not suggest the person borrow your book from their local library branch? Maybe you don’t think about that because you figure you won’t be paid if someone reads a borrowed copy of your book.
If you as an author have your book(s) signed up with a Public Lending Rights Program (over 30 countries have them), you can receive royalty payments annually. Some library systems base the amount on how many times your books are borrowed or if your book or books are in the library catalogues (tcatalogues are online on most library websites). Canada follows this latter method and the payout annually has to work out to not under $50. But it can go up to $4,000. My Beyond mystery books haven’t reached a $4,000 royalty, but for last year, the amount was more than a 100 per cent increase from 2017.
Canada’s Public Lending Rights Program has a window of time to sign up – usually from sometime in February to May. And then that’s it for another year. Forms are online and are downloadable. This year the timeline ends May 1.
See here for more information on Canada’s program.
So how do you get your books into the library? Most libraries have book submission forms – in print at the branch or online, although sometimes the former are set up for you to recommend a book by any other author who isn’t you. So get another author you know to recommend your book and you do the same for them.
The best way is to have a librarian get your book in. I have cold-called some librarians and persuaded them to carry my book. Depending on the library I may mention that I have family in their city or town (this has to be true – don’t make up stuff – leave that for your fiction books). Or I may say my books are set in their city or town or a city or town loosely based on their city or town (true for York Region just north of Toronto).
My favourite is actually doing a presentation (with other authors or on my own) or teaching a workshop at a library branch. Now, I have been doing the former for eight years and the latter six years. Particularly if the presentation or workshop is connected to your book – i.e. creating compelling fiction characters and you write fiction. Also, if you are presenting at a library, the librarians usually do order in a few copies of your book ahead of time.
Although one didn’t. So, one of the five of us crime writers reading asked the librarian if copies of our books were available in the library.
No. But they were soon afterwards.
Probably the best-case scenario is the librarian, Janet, at the library branch where I teach one or two workshops a year and my East End Writers’ Group partners with this branch to hold our meetings there. The librarian actually suggested it after we did a presentation at the library and I decided to get the group out of my house to meet and the two places after that where we met briefly went out of business. So, we are in partnership with the library with this and the program gets under the branch programs umbrella. Janet has made sure my three Beyond books are in that branch.
Of course each library system has its own methods for getting in programs and presentations. How I got into some (besides the East End Writers’ Group one) is fodder for another post.
The bottom line is getting your published books into libraries is a win-win-win situation – for your readers, for libraries and for you.
Sharon A, Crawford
Author of the Beyond mystery series
Available for borrowing in the Toronto Public Library system, some in the York Region Library system, etc.
And I am teaching a memoir writing workshop and doing two presentations with other authors, all in Toronto library branches. See my Gigs and Blog Tours Page on this website here to find out when and where.
I’m taking my Beyond books on one last in-person promo for this year and then taking a break until into the New Year. Will still be doing social media. It’s just that I don’t like going out and about much in winter weather. And there is a high risk of having to cancel ane event or going to it because of a blizzard, sub-zero temperatures or some other awful winter stuff. I am not a fan of winter – in fact if it would disappear permanently into a black hole I would be the first to cheer.
And I need the time to continue writing my new Beyond mystery novel, which despite all the house issues, sagas and other problems being shoved at me, I am actually back to working on that novel.
So, I’ll put some brief details of the last of the 2018 Beyond events. But first I want to mention some of the unique ways I get these promos.
I have to be thankful that many come to me from outside and I am grateful for them.
There is my Crime Beat Confidential Show that I host bi-monthly on thatchannel.com. The station’s show producer approached me – probably because i had made some appearances as a guest on their Liquid Lunch Show. I get a lot of fun, learning and meeting interesting people who guest on my show. My book character PI Dana Bowman appears at the beginning of each show. And in the one just taped this week, she does the second half of the show interviewing the guest – a private investigator. The show is not taped live and some editing is done, so when it’s up I’ll post the link. Meantime you can watch the other two on thatchannel. com under “Shows” or Google “Crime Beat Confidential and Youtube” and see it posted by the station on Youtube.
As a member of Crime Writers of Canada, Sisters in Crime, and the Toronto Heliconian Club, I get a chance to take part in their author readings, book signings at bookstores, libraries, conventions, writers festivals, artistic shows and sales. They send out emails on this looking for us author members to participate and we have to get back. Now, for some there is a limit of how many participants, but I have been lucky to get in on those – even some out of town. And there it is other members participating in the same event who give me a lift there – sometimes we have a car load of authors heading ouit of town and it is so much fun.
Those are just some examples. My point, beside being grateful, is authors – whether self-published or published by a trade publisher, can benefit by joining an organization that has some literature and/or writer component to help promote their books. And it’s not all one-sided as by participating you sometimes get the chance to organize the event. And you meet interesting authors and readers. And sell some books. Don’t be all social media and no in-person promo. Sometimes readers like to see the real person and not just see what thay look like, but how they act, how theiy interact,,how they come across in their knowledge about writing, and in my case, just dressing up like my main character and letting her take over.
Beyond Book No. 2
And on that note, I’ll just list the last two events for 2018 and hope those in the Greater Toronto area in Ontario, Canada can make one of these events.
GIFTS FROM THE MUSES-
Saturday, Nov. 24, 11 am to 4 pm.
Toronto Heliconian Club
35 Hazelton Avenue, Toronto, Ontario, Canada
All my Beyond books – Beyond the Tripping Point, Beyond Blood and Beyond Faith will be on display and for sale at the annual Club show and sale “Gifts from the Muses” which will take place on Saturday, Nov. 24. There will also be a wall of paintings and photographs, all selling for $100 or less. In addition, members from all sections will sell hand-made products such as unframed art works, cards, books, CDs, jewelry, jams, baked goods, etc. Along with the sale, members of the Music Section will entertain with short musical interludes each hour. This is one of the best multi-disciplinary events in the Club and is so much fun to attend! It is a great opportunity to purchase outstanding gifts for family and friends!
More info on The Toronto Heliconian Club, including a map for their location here
Also at The Heliconian Club
An Evening of Readings of Literature Section Members
Wednesday, December 5, 2018 at 6:30 PM – 9 PM
Sharon A. Crawford will read excerpts from her Beyond Mystery series novels: Beyond Blood and the latest, Beyond Faith. She is joined by two other Heliconian Club Literature group authors: Ann Elizabeth Carson and Isabel Berchem for this Evening of Readings. Hosted by Christine Arthurs. Refreshments and a cash bar.
Cost: Free for Heliconian Club members and $10. for all others.
Crime Writers of Canada authors at the OLA convention
We authors sometimes either forget or minimize one big resource. We are too busy doing research online, selling our books through Amazon and the like, connecting through Twitter and Facebook. This resource has been around a long time before anything online. I’m talking about the public library.
And if you think libraries are all about print books in the actual library, think again. With a library card (free), you can borrow e-books online, put books on hold online, renew books online and yes, do research online through your library’s connection with data bases. Some libraries even have online access to big city newspapers. And yes, you can still physically visit your libraries. I do and when I’m there I see teenagers and others using either the library’s computers or working away on their laptops. Yes libraries are connected to the Internet and it is less messy than sitting in a cafe with a laptop and risk spilling your coffee on the keyboard. It is also quieter.
There are also art exhibits, programs and presentations on business to health and wellness, to gardening to learning computer and online functions to writers’ groups to talks by book authors and workshops and courses- all for free.
And of course there are those books. I go to my library to pick up books (some found and put on hold online, some just from browsing in the library). And I run the East End Writers’ Group, a writing critique and guess where we meet – the library – my local big branch S. Walter Stewart in Toronto. EEWG does this in partnership with the library branch and it was one of the librarians there who asked us to meet there.
Don’t forget these librarians. They are very helpful when you are stuck with what book to get and for any other research (despite all your online work in those areas). And they are instrumental in the writing workshops and courses I teach at library branches. Although free to participants, I do get paid for teaching them
Some of us published authors from Crime Writers of Canada didn’t forget the importance of librarians last Friday. During the annual Ontario Library Association conference, CWC again had 23 of its recently book-published authors (or a book coming out in a few months) authors taking our turn in front of the mic doing our own two-minute pitch for our books. These pitches were as diversified as the authors. My favourite was one by Dr. (as in medical) Melissa Yi who put a plastic garbage bag over her head for a few seconds to illustrate how the bodies of some murdered Indigenous peoples are left by their killers. i channelled my main Beyond Faith book character, Dana Bowman. And the pitches weren’t limited to books published by trade publishers. Libraries now carry self-published books as well. In the photo of us at the top, “Dana” is to the right of the CWC poster and Melissa is at the right end of this row.
My Beyond books aren’t self-published (Blue Denim Press is my publisher), but I’m happy to say that the first two, Beyond the Tripping Point and Beyond Blood are in some of the Toronto Public library branches. And the librarian, Janet Nanos, who got EEWG into the S. Walter Stewart library branch informed me that she had put in for four copies of Beyond Faith for the TPL – just when the OLA conference was starting – just before I did my pitch.
The first two Beyond books are also n libraries in Kitchener/Waterloo, Ontario, York Region (just north of Toronto) and in Prince Edward County in Eastern Ontario.
Those are the ones I know of.
It doesn’t stop there.
As authors with books in libraries, you can receive annual royalties for your books being there and number of times being borrowed. Another organization takes care of this (in Canada it is The Public Lending Rights Program administered by the Canada Council). You just have to enter your books on their form, updating it when you publish another book. This Canadian program is open for this listing-registration from mid February to May each year..
So, I have many reasons to be grateful for the public libraries and the librarians. I’ve been a big fan and library user since I was 12 years and my grade 7 teacher led all her class on a walk to visit the then new S. Walter Stewart Library branch.
It isn’t coincidence that my main library branch is the same library – since I moved back to Toronto almost 20 years ago.
Don’t forget your library and the librarians – the writer’s and reader’s best friend. The library is where readers, writers and librarians can connect.
I am a big fan of librarians. In all my years of using the library (since I was 12, back in the grey ages, the early 1960s), I have received all kinds of help from librarians from finding books to other research to daily living. Now, the Toronto Public Library Board is starting a pilot project in the cities two smallest library branches – Todmorden in the east and Swansea in the west.
The project would extend the hours the libraries are open. But there is a big catch. There will be no librarians present. If you need to contact a librarian, it will all be by video. And no security guards, so good luck if some crime is committed. Video cameras may catch it, but with no staff person present in the library, good luck.
A City TV news story describes the situation, including listing the crimes that have been committed in the last year or so in various branches. You will notice we are not talking about stealing books in this story here. The librarian union head, Maureen O’Reilly, is interviewed in the story. Ms. Reilly also emailed out petitions, copies to go to the city’s mayor and the signer’s local councillor. You bet I clicked on the email and went to the page with the petition letter. The letter also had space for alterations/additions to content and so I added a short summary of how l have always used libraries and how as a writer and reader the librarians have helped me.One example I gave was one of the librarians at the S. Walter Stewart Branch was instrumental in getting my East End Writers’ Group (a writing critique group, see my website for more info on EEWG) to meet there at no cost to us – we are now partners with the branch and part of their programs.
Interestingly, this branch is the first library branch I started going to as a child of 12 – when the new big branch first opened. Except for the 23 years I lived in Aurora, S. Walter Stewart has been and still is my library branch. And yes, when in Aurora I was a regular patron of the Aurora Library where one of the librarians (who became a friend) helped me with some health information when I was still a journalist – getting me set up on data bases to check out the information. This was in the early 1990s before a lot of this info was available on line.
But I still go to the librarians in person for info, to teach writing workshops and courses, for presentations with my Beyond mystery books – with or without other authors.
And on a more personal note – when my son was a toddler and driving me nuts in the Aurora Public Library, the head librarian quietly called me over and spoke to me. Not to tell me to get my son to shut up. She was concerned with me, with my getting frazzled, etc. by being a young mother. The librarian suggested we take a break one day soon and go to lunch. And we did.
Meantime, the librarian at S.Walter Stewart helps me with PR for our EEWG meetings and also when we have guest speakers and do presentations. Perhaps one of the biggest clarification of that is a few years ago after EEWG celebrated its 13 anniversary with a presentation in the library auditorium, after the presentation a few of us went out to a nearby pub to chat and grab a drink and some food. This librarian and her husband came along, too.
I can’t even fathom doing workshops or courses at a library branch with no librarian present (although the two in the pilot project don’t have the room for this). I am constantly asking questions and asking for help in workshop setup. Sure, some is done by email and phone, but not all, especially when I show up. What would happen if problems occurred with a workshop? And if there are no librarians present, who sets up the room, including bringing in and setting up any AV and computer equipment?
This is all very short-sighted and stupid by the City of Toronto and the library board. If they are trying to save some bucks and increase library open hours, the flip side doesn’t work. Librarians will be out of work and we the librarian patrons will be worse off for it.
Here, the end doesn’t justify the means, especially as the end is questionable.
If you want to read more about this situation just Google “Toronto public library no staff at Todmorden” and you will get a long list.
I hear this situation is happening in a few other places too.
Is this the price of progress? If so, turn the time back to the 1990s. And if I sound like a curmudgeon, so be it.
What do you think of this situation?
And yes, copies of my Beyond books are in some of the public library branches Toronto and York Region (latter includes Aurora). For those outside these area, you can check out my Beyond books by clicking here.
The CWC gang up close at Gerrard/Ashdale library. Photo courtesy of Gail Ferguson – a librarian then
If you are writing a novel, a short story or anything else and you want some outside feedback, consider consulting a Writer in Residence. Writers in Residence are all over – with writing groups, libraries and art clubs to name a few. Sometimes you have to be a club or organization member to talk to a writer in residence. However, usually with a library-based Writer in Residence you don’t.
I have been a writer in residence – not for a library (not yet anyway) but for the Canadian Authors Association, Toronto branch – twice – 2001 to 2003 and 2009 to 2014. So I can see this from both sides of the writing fence.
From the WiR side of the fence I have done one-on-one consultations with writers – in person, by email and on the phone. I have edited and/or evaluated a few pages of their manuscripts and had lively conversations about their marketing their stories or novel, for example. For the in-person consultations, we have met in my home office and in libraries. Yes, libraries, but not connected to library WiR. This was the CAA Toronto chapter appointment – the earlier one.Before the regular meeting in the library auditorium, I would be available for half an hour or so for anyone who wanted to talk to me about their writing or have me take a look at something they had written. If it was a per-arranged appointment, often we met in the Food Court as this library is in a mall. And at the beginning of the CAA branch meeting, I would say a few words (up to five minutes) on some aspects of writing – writing tips. I found the whole experience very satisfying as I could help other writers and I also learned a lot from them. It’s a two-way street..
Writers-in-Residence sometimes are paid – it depends on the organization. CAA Toronto paid me, although each residency had a different payment setup.
Toronto Public Library writers in residence are paid quite well and so they should be with all they have to do. This includes spending some time in a room set aside for them a the library branch – usually one of the largest branches. They can do some of their own work, but they also use the room to consult with writers – usually for half an hour. Writers can get in to see the WiR by submitting a 20-page manuscript to the library branch at the beginning of the residency and then the library gives them an appointment time and day. This does not cost the writer anything.
Currently the Toronto Reference Library is looking for a Writer in Residence for spring 2018. This means that the twice yearly (spring and fall) WiR sessions are full for 2017. Obviously with it being December and the Christmas season, the fall 2016 WiR session is over. But here is a list of criteria for the library’s WiR
Canadian citizen, permanent resident of Canada
Minimum of two books in print, published by a professional publishing house, at least one of which is a memoir
Active in the writing profession; active online presence
Experience in teaching creative writing
Understanding of the needs of aspiring writers
Experience developing and delivering programs, workshops, readings
Working on or planning to work on a new project intended for
That’s just it in a nutshell. And yes, I have consulted with Writers in Residence before – both with the Toronto Library and with the Toronto Heliconian Club Literature Section – of which I am a member. I have had line by line edits and comments in person, the writer pre-reading the manuscript pages and commenting on it when we met. These occasions turned into lively discussions and I learned a lot. Not only possible changes in my manuscript but encouragement to continue writing for publication. Only once did I consult with a library WiR who didn’t resonate with my manuscript. Despite the criteria for WiR listed above, this author did not have memoir-writing experience and I had submitted 20 pages from my memoir-in-the works. So, he just didn’t get it. However, he is an accomplished and published literary fiction author so I am sure he helped many writers writing in that genre. That was a few years ago anyway.
So, wherever you live I urge you to find a writer in residence and make an appointment with them for whatever your writing concerns are – writing or marketing.
And the usual, click on the Beyond Blood graphic at the top to go to my author profile and books and where to purchase. Christmas is only 17 days away. Gulp! I have my Christmas decorations up (finally) but still have a bit more Christmas presents to buy. And for a huge lot of one of them (fudge) online shopping just won’t do. The best fudge in town is homemade fudge with no additives or preservatives which to buy I have to go to the Christmas Market at the Distillery in Toronto. Maple Fudge is the name of the company with the fudge booth there. They have a store in Niagara on the Lake and I have been there when out that way visiting cousins during the summer. But now it’s the Distillery Christmas markets where I have to also deal with the crowds. And go on weekdays or pay the $6. entrance fee on weekends from 5 p.m. Friday. Something about paying to get in to do Christmas shopping is just not right. But they do it because the weekends were getting overcrowded.
But I must have my fudge and it isn’t ALL for me. Some is, though. Fudge is fuel for writing energy. Or that’s my excuse anyway.
Although my Beyond Blood novel is two years old (and yes, the next one is tentatively scheduled to appear just under a year from now), I am still doing PR for it and surprisingly, still for the previous Beyond Book – the short story collection, Beyond the Tripping Point.
I am doing new PR and also adding on to what I have previously done. For example, I have sold copies of my Beyond books at the Toronto Heliconian Club annual pre-Christmas sale of art, books and other creative things in past years. But just selling. This year I am one of the authors from the Literature group reading a short excerpt from our published books (from Beyond Blood for me). There are also music interludes from the Club’s Music Group. More information is in the Gigs and Blog Tours page and also at the Heliconian Club website.
Another new thing here with the Heliconian club is our Literature group held a Dinner and Salon November 8 and I read from one of the short stories – The Body in the Trunk -in Beyond the Tripping Point. And that book came out in fall 2012. But it was suggested a short story excerpt was preferable for that than from a novel, so I complied. Just picked out a funny one and got a lot of laughs and good feedback comments afterwards.
All this can help build future book sales.
I’m also compiling a list of Toronto and York Region libraries where I could do crime fiction presentations/readings and/or teach writing workshops and courses. I already have a very big in with the two library systems having done all of that in the past four (for the fiction books alone) to six years (for the workshops) in many library branches.This past June I started something else – or rather one of the library branches hired me to do – teach a four session (once a week) course on Memoir Writing. From that a librarian at another library branch approached me to do the same next spring and I agreed. So my list is going back to some places I’ve been, but ones I haven’t don so for a year or more and to get gigs for next spring and summer.
This is all for the first two books. Once the third Beyond book is ready with a signed contract, I’ll start doing the library pitch for that one. This time I may do a specific proposal for author readings/presentation – for a specific form which goes out to all the libraries.
Each of these workshops/courses/ presentations/readings presents an opportunity for my Beyond books.
I have also started approaching area writers organization where I have not appeared and snagged one with the Writers and Editors Network (WEN). It is a breakfast one but on a Saturday in April. I am not a morning person, but you can bet I’ll make that extra effort to get there on time.
Two more things, one I’ve learned from experience. If you live where winter can be iffy with weather that can be blizzards, mixed precipitation and the like, you don’t do in-person presentations, readings or teach courses. I have managed to be lucky with teaching workshops in March and even February and evena couple of readings in February. But there have been very iffy ones due to weather in late March. That was the case with the Crime Writers of Canada panel I was on at the Gerrard/Ashdale library the past March. It got put on hold when the weather forecast was mixed precipitation and that’s what we got. The librarian there didn’t want us to cancel but was prepared to wait until the morning of (the panel was in the evening), so I emailed the other four panelists that it might be cancelled. When the librarian phoned me the morning of, she convinced me to not cancel. So I had to phone the four other panelists. It was just rain in the early to late evening and we packed them in to a very lively interactive discussion. The librarian took photos and the close-up on is at the bottom of the home page of my website. The long shot of the audience is at the bottom of this blog post.
Those winter months are for planning, social media PR and writing, writing, writing,.
There is also one more thing I did and I recommend it to anyone trying to promote their books – whether trade published or self-published. Sign up for the free Build Book Buzz weekly newsletter and the much more Sandra Beckwith offers with that. Check out the website for more information. I can’t say enough on how much it has opened my eyes to marketing my books and it isn’t all social media but that is a part of it. There are free webinars offered and…well you can check it out for yourself. And a disclaimer: Sandra Beckwith hasn’t hired me to do publicity. I just like to pass along info about something good to help other authors.
So happy and prosperous book marketing..And oh yes, the usual – click on the Beyond Blood icon at the top and see where it leads you.
Sharon A. Crawford
Longshot of the Gerrard Ashdale library CWC presentation in March 2016