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Category Archives: Public Libraries

Don’t forget the libraries and librarians

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.

Cheers.

Sharon A. Crawford

 

 

 

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Are librarians to be made redundant?

S. Walter Stewart – Sharon’s library branch

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?

Comments, please.

Cheers.

Sharon

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

 

 

 

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Writers in Residence can help authors

The latest Beyond book in the series

The latest Beyond book in the series

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

Eligibility Criteria

:

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

book-length publication.

 

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.

 

Happy writing.

 

Cheers.

 

Sharon A. Crawford

 

 

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Marketing your book – more ideas learned

The latest Beyond book in the series

The latest Beyond book in the series

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.

Cheers.

Sharon A. Crawford

Longshot of the Gerrard Ashdale library CWC presentation in March 2016

Longshot of the Gerrard Ashdale library CWC presentation in March 2016

 

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Toronto Urban Folk Art Salon July 28 features many creative people

Sharon A. Crawford reads from her Beyond series

Sharon A. Crawford reads from her Beyond series

The phone call with the same number came in three times. I didn’t recognize the phone number and the caller’s name didn’t show. Being the recipient of too many telephone scam calls the past month, if I don’t recognize the name or number, I’m reluctant to answer the phone. I figure if it’s important they can leave a message. Of course, the scammers also leave messages, often recorded message. No message was left so on impulse on the third try to reach me, I picked up.

Not a scammer but Gannon Hamilton who organizes and hosts the monthly Urban Folk Art Salon at Toronto’s Mount Pleasant Library branch. He’s a poet and violinist and I met him at the first salon in February. I went because a poet/memoir writer/sculptor I know was one of the six performers. While there I talked to Gannon about participating – but in my acting capacity with another author. He was interested and took my business card.

But he wasn’t calling about my acting. He was calling because he wanted me to be an author reading from my published works (the Beyond mystery books) for July 28. That was a surprise. Usually I have to do a lot of PR and the like to get reading gigs. I said “yes” and we talked a bit more about the Salon. He gave me the name and email of the librarian he works with to schedule these salons and told me to email her with a head shot of me and my name for the flyer she was putting together. I thanked him and contacted the librarian.

The flyer attachment arrived in my Inbox on Tuesday. When I saw the names and photos of the other five, I was honoured to be in such creative company. There are musicians, poets, and one fellow is a poet, actor and artist. It will be interesting to see which of his creative talents he will use next Thursday.

Here is the list of we six, starting with Philip Cairns, the poet,actor and painter just mentioned. Where possible I am putting a link to their websites.

Philip Cairns

Bridget Melody  visual artist, former ballet dancer, and as her name suggests, now a singer/songwriter

Lucky Mike (Cavanaugh) singer, songwriter, roots music, alt.country

Pete Janes

Gannon Hamilton

Sharon A. Crawford – author, editor, writing instructor and sometime actor

All this talent I will be mixing with. And I will try not to disappoint with my reading. Although my character Dana Bowman is staying between the book covers, this time, I have a few “something differents” to use in my readings.

Here are the details about this upcoming Urban Folk Art Salon

An evening of music, poetry. prose, and art.Hosted by Gannon Hamilton, featuring: Bridget Melody, Philip Cairns, Sharon A Crawford, Pete Janes, Lucky Mike and Gannon Hamilton.

Time and Date: 6 p.m. to 8 p.m., Thursday, July 28, 2016

Location: Mount Pleasant Toronto Public Library Branch, 599 Mount Pleasant Rd., Toronto, Ontario, Canada

If you are in the GTA (Greater Toronto Area), please come to this unique salon.

Cheers.

Sharon A. Crawford

 

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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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What to do between books

Sharon A. Crawford's latest in the Beyond series

Sharon A. Crawford’s latest in the Beyond series

What does an author do in between books?

This week I finally emailed the manuscript for my latest Beyond mystery to my publisher. Met the deadline with a few days to spare.

Here’s what I’m doing now and plan to do. It might trigger some ideas for you.

What I don’t do is keep thinking about the outcome of the submission and let it get me in stall mode. Instead, I move on to other writing projects, editing clients’ work, writing workshops and promo of the two Beyond books published.

Other writing projects include developing a possible next Beyond novel – in my head, at this point. I also write personal essays and memoir so I have already returned to a personal essay cum memoir for more rewriting and searching for possible markets. There are other personal essays to be written or rewritten so I keep those in mind as I search for possible markets. Sometimes the markets trigger the essay.

I still edit manuscripts, so have  clients-in-waiting, so to speak, and have emailed one of them, will email another one, and the third one is on holiday right now but when he is back in April, I will email him.

I want to continue teaching writing workshops at branches of Toronto Public Libraries. That means contacting the librarians at some of the 100 branches (yes, Toronto has that many branches. We Torontonians like reading, like borrowing library books – print or e-copy – and attending events, such as writing workshops. These are free to library patrons but I get paid for teaching them). I also plan to develop more workshops I can teach.

Promoting Beyond Blood and Beyond the Tripping Point. I’ve already sneaked in or had already arranged for presentations in the upcoming months, which will start March 24. Have one for the end of May and one in the works for the end of June. Once this nasty winter weather is finished (hopefully before March 24), I want to schedule at least two promo presentations a month – some on my own, and some with Crime Writers of Canada and The Toronto Heliconian Club. I am a member of both and do have something scheduled with each. More on that in future posts.

And I’m doing something that borders on promo and workshops. The end of April, I’m part of a panel on editing and writing for self-publication at an Editors Canada meeting. Again, more on this one in a later post. Although, meantime, you can check the Gigs and Blogs Tours page here with this blog or on my website – go to Beyond Blood and Workshops pages.

You can develop your own writing, etc. plan to keep you from thinking about what the publisher will say about your manuscript. It also works when you have submitted shorter pieces or poems to magazines – print or online.

Come to think of it, why not write some poetry. That will get your creative juices flowing.

Cheers.

Sharon A. Crawford

If you click on the book cover at the top it will take you to my publisher’s page about my books and my background.

 

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