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Point of View clarity important in writing fiction

Sharon A. Crawford's latest in the Beyond series

Sharon A. Crawford’s latest in the Beyond series

Currently I am reading a mystery novel where the characters’ points of view are all over the map  – in one chapter without a scene change, in one scene, Even in one paragraph the point of view switches from one police detective to the other. They are police partners, but this “jumping heads” (as it is known in the editing business) is not only ridiculous and annoying it is distracting from the story. And it is an interesting story.

Looks like the author’s editor was asleep at the computer. I blame the editor, not the author because as an editor I find that 85 per cent of my fiction clients mess up the point of view. And, yes, if the author mixes up points of view, then it is his or her editor’s job to fix it.

So, what is acceptable in fiction writing (unless you are going for experimental fiction, which this mystery novel is not)? Here we go with the standards:

In novels it is acceptable to have multiple points of view as long as it isn’t overdone. Do we really need to know what minor characters A and B think?

Up to five points of view are the limit in my opinion.

Keep the same point of view within a chapter or a scene. Next chapter or next scene you can change the point of view. For scenes this is usually indicated by extra line spacing and starting the first paragraph flush left or separating the scenes with an asterisk. Read Peter Robinson’s mystery novels. He usually has three points of view and does a superb job of it. He uses the change of scene change of character POV method with extra line spacing.

Other authors indicate change of character POV by putting the character’s name at the top of the change – this can be with a new chapter or new scene. I use this method in my latest Beyond book, the mystery novel Beyond Blood. The story is told from four different points of view – Dana Bowman, Bast Overture (the two fraternal twin PIs), David Bowman (Dana’s six-year-old son), and the mysterious “Him.” I put the character name and the date and time (a word on that in a sec) just before the character POV change. This change usually occurs with chapters but I do have it within chapters – change of scene change of character POV with the above-mentioned indication.

It is not necessary to always use time and date unless it is relevant to your novel. I’m not the only author who does this. I do it because Beyond Blood is a fast-paced mystery that occurs during eight frantic days in August 1998. Often when I switch point of view what is happening with that character is happening simultaneously with another POV character. And that is another reason to switch POVs.

Switching POVs is also a good way to heighten suspense – if you end one scene/chapter with one character left out on a limb and the reader does not know what will happen with him or her next. Instead they go on to another character – more waiting to find out/more suspense. And it also allows plot development that just might not be possible using one character’s POV>

Switching points of view in a novel also allows the author to get deeper into each main character – and gives the readers a more intense looksee at the characters.

My POV on POV anyway.

Cheers.

Sharon

Click on the Beyond Blood icon at the top to find out more about my Beyond books.

 

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Can fictional characters teach readers something?

Sharon A. Crawford's latest in the Beyond series

Sharon A. Crawford’s latest in the Beyond series

Readers read novels to be entertained. However, life isn’t all about entertainment. We want to learn more, to grow, to live a better life.

Can fiction help here? I think so. If you have credible fiction characters who live lives like readers. And it doesn’t matter what genre the novel is written in. For example, science fiction can present us with a future we might just not want, with the underlying story of just how it can play out. This requires believable characters who deal with these situations. Built into a good sci-fic story are elements of present time – such as law enforcement professionals and your every-day person like divorced parents, seniors, etc. Sometimes the professionals and the single mom are one and the same person. Although the characters have problems peculiar to a future  time period to deal with; like us now, they have common day-to-day problems as well. So the reader can identify with the story and the characters and get a satisfied read. A science fiction author who does this very well is Robert Sawyer. Read any of his books to see how he handles it. And many of his novels also have murder in them.

In the mystery genre, there is a series by J.D. Robb (Nora Roberts pseudonym) where the novels are set in the future. So the reader not only gets policing in the future,but also something many of us now balance – a career and a marriage.

In somewhat current time (in the late 1990s), my novel Beyond Blood, has characters that are representative of real-life characters. I have the fraternal twins (which may not be so common) Sebastian (Bast) Overture who is gay and Dana Bowman who is a divorced mother of a six-year old boy. Readers have told me that it is this relationship between mother and son that they relate to because they find it not only interesting but compelling. Of course, not all six-year olds are kidnapped (thank God), but here I have taken a universal relationship, that of a mother and son, and escalated it into the “what if?” area, where a mother is pushed to the edge to find her son before it is too late. And because Dana is human she may try to forge ahead as a professional PI and push her fear and other feelings back inside, we know that in real life this just doesn’t happen. She is conflicted, and yes she does lose it at times.

And that’s the key to writing fiction to teach a lesson. You need both realistic characters that readers can identify with and a plot that grabs readers.You need characters that are human, because we are human. This way you can show readers what your characters are like, what they are made of – but heightened to situations beyond what you would deal with in your life.

Remember, readers want to also be entertained.

You can read for yourself how Dana Bowman handles all her problems with her son’s kidnapping and all the complexities that occur, from an ex-husband who shows up as a suspect, to the stuttering Detective Sergeant Donald Fielding whom she is attracted to, to ….well, you may just have to read Beyond Blood to find out. Click on the book icon at the top for more info.

And I have a new website with a much different website design, thanks to Martin Crawford, computer software expert and Juni Bimm, graphic artist. The website text is purely my doing. So take a look here

Cheers.

Sharon A. Crawford

 

 

 

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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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More tales from the novel rewriting trenches

Sharon A. Crawford's latest in the Beyond series

Sharon A. Crawford’s latest in the Beyond series

Still working furiously to make changes in my current Beyond book to meet my publisher’s deadline. Making progress, despite distractions and glitches from others.

The research mentioned last week hit some more glitches. The social issue in the new novel (not telling what it is – no spoilers here) ran into the same roadblock with the Ontario government department as the police query with the local police services corporate communications department. No reply.

So, my journalist background came into play here. Journalists don’t give up on their research, despite roadblocks and twists and turns.

The two library books I had looked at in the Toronto Reference Library? Sure, I had made some notes but that wasn’t enough. So I bought the out-of-print one on Canadian Law (it fits the novel’s time period) secondhand from amazon.ca .Counting the day I put in the order online, it took three business days to arrive in my mailbox. The other Canadian Law book – a q and a type with questions for civilians I found out from an editing client that over 20 copies are circulating in Toronto library branches. I put a hold on it and if there are still some other copies not on hold, I should be able to renew my copy three times.

I phoned Service Ontario and after being shunted around three times got a very knowledgeable person in the specific department who answered my questions.

For that one nagging police procedure question that the two books couldn’t answer, I emailed a retired police colleague via Linked In. He replied immediately, answered part of my question and said he would contact one of his police connections to get more of an answer. I gave him my email address to avoid the Linked In quirks in email and he has replied again this week, apologizing for the delay and why (that is his business) and that he would be contacting his colleague that evening.

Meantime, I’m rewriting to get around anything that wasn’t true with the social issue and police procedure back in 1999. And also rewriting to deal with any plot threads left dangling. Some will get deleted as irrelevant.

Also there is the matter of my two main characters, fraternal twin private investigators Dana Bowman and Bast Overture trying to take over the plot. I have to listen to them because they can have good ideas.

And it is their story. Always listen to your characters.

As for the other distractions, I’m trying to rein them in. Personal calls that come during my writing time (which pretty much follows a business weekday give or take a few hours at either end), I will now let them go to voice mail. My dentist appointment will have to be moved to February 29 after my deadline. I have a big problem with medical people who don’t have some evening and weekend hours .I may ‘not be working outside my home, but what about those who do? Why should they have to take time off for dental and other medical appointments, Hey medical professionals. Get with the times. Yes, some professionals (like police, transit drivers, etc.) have work hours all over the map. But many people still work regular business hours (excluding email and social media). Medical clinics understand this and even my optometrist works one evening a week and some Saturdays. My eye specialist doesn’t. My dentist doesn’t. So, unless a medical emergency, I work their times around mine.

I have also worked in editing clients after the end of February and any new inquiries re work, they are being told I am booked up until … Two current clients have been scheduled in after the end of February – it is set up to work for both of us.

Now, back to the novel rewriting. Bast and Dana are waiting impatiently for me to get to it.

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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Writers’ group looks at Writer’s Block

Sharon A. Crawford's latest in the Beyond series

Sharon A. Crawford’s latest in the Beyond series

Who is more to be pitied, a writer bound and gagged by policemen or one living in perfect freedom who has nothing more to say?

– Kurt Vonnegut

You might not want to be arrested and charged by police but there are many options if you have a dose of writer’s block. Last evening, in a round circle discussion, members of my East End Writers’ Group came up with some novel ideas for well writer’s block when writing a novel – or writing anything.

Here are our words of wisdom, in no particular order:

Take a writing course, especially one taught by Brian Henry – you will get inspired and Brian gets you to actually write in his workshops, even during lunch.

Put the blocked novel, short story aside and write something different. Maybe your brain is bored with the same old story and needs something new, at least temporarily. But do come back to the original.

Have a roster of several writing projects on the go – to some extent; don’t over tax yourself – so you can move from one to the other when stuck.

Start reading. You would be surprised how reading another novel, short story, newspaper article written by someone else can inspire you to write. Don’t analyze the story’s style, just go with the flow of writing and let your subconscious absorb the writer’s style. You don’t want to copy it, but it will jar your inner creativity.

Freefall write – write anything that comes to mind and keep writing for at least 20 minutes. You can also use a word, a sentence from a book, a sound, something visual to get you going. Or if you are angry, worried, or fearful about something, write about that. Go where the fear takes you.

Do something completely different – preferably something physical – walk the dog or just go for a walk on your own, do some gardening (season permitting). Getting your body moving can help wake up your brain – often with a possible solution to your block.

One group member writes in different languages, so when blocked he switched languages. He also juggles several writing projects at a time.

And don’t forget to join a writing critique group. Even if you don’t always bring something to read for feedback, just listening to someone read their writing excerpt and listening to and taking part in the discussion, can be inspiring.

Let’s banish writer’s block where it belongs – buried in the snow.

Here are a couple of books to help you do just that with writer’s block.

The Artist’s Way – Julia Cameron

Unlock Writer’s Block – Paul Lima

Cheers.

Sharon

If you click on the book at the top, it will take you to my books,bio, etc on my publisher’s page. To check out the East End Writers’ Group go here.

 

 

 

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When your research and plot just don’t jibe

Beyond Blood_Final Ebook

Sharon A. Crawford’s latest in the Beyond series

You are writing what you think is a terrific story. You have done all your research – you think. Then, you find something crucial in your plot just would not happen in real life. You do have some leeway in fantasy and science fiction, but I’m referring to mysteries, romance, historical fiction and other commercial fiction, as well as literary. Let’s say you are writing historical fiction and a real-life character, well-known from the time you are writing in, is a part of your plot – maybe even crucial to the story.

But you goofed. Your story is set in the same time as this historical character lived, but you have just found out in re-checking your research, that no way could your famous historical character be in such and such a place when you have placed him there. At that time, he was living in France and your story takes place in England. You have set your story in the Victorian era, so you can’t just have your character take an airplane from France to England.

What can you do?

Delete this historical character from your story completely? Keep him in, but just as a reference to the times and something in your plot (music, government? Move some of your plot to take place in France? Change the historical time of your plot? Or?

Whatever you choose to do, it will require some re-writing. But you need to be accurate. True, for the purpose of your story, you have some leeway, but you can’t lie about history. If it were me, I would go for moving some of the plot to France, unless I decided this historical character didn’t need to play an active role in your plot.

I don’t write history – exactly. But my Beyond mysteries take place in the late 1990s, although the current one I’m writing just gets into the 21st century. So for police procedure and anything else – such as computers and cell phones, and medical (as there is some of that in the story) have to be what they were like back then. So I have to be careful with all that – including laws and even the names of courts. Gets tricky.

Currently I am fact-checking my research as it is incorporated into the novel. One of the characters suffers from a concussion. Fortunately there is a lot of information about concussions, both on the Internet (I’m referring to respected medical sites such as the Mayo Clinic) and books on the subject because of the current concern about sports-related injuries – many concussions.

The problem here is to make sure what the medical professionals do now was done in 1999. And also my character’s concussion is not from a sports injury.

Fortunately, the books on sports concussions go into details about past diagnoses and treatments. Studies and the like posted on the Internet often have references footnoted by number. (they all should have references), and I can cross-check the dates on those with the information in the study text.)

I also checked to see how the person’s head was “x-rayed” and found that CAT scans were around in 1999 – in fact they started being used widely in 1980. So my character had a CAT scan.

It never hurts to double-check your research. And remember, you may think you have done all your research before you write, but you probably haven’t. As you develop your story, “things” come up that you have to check on.

Now, I have to go back and research something in my novel’s climax for what one character does. What would she be charged with or would she be charged with anything? And in 1999, not 2016.

Back to my police consultant and to the Canadian Criminal Code in 1999. That might mean a copy of the CCC for a year or two before that, unless amendments were made and published in 1999.

But whatever the correct answer is, I should be able to change that part of my plot as needed.

Cheers.

Sharon A. Crawford

 

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Book promo through acting?

Sharon A. Crawford channelling Dana Bowman from Beyond Blood

Sharon A. Crawford channellng Dana Bowman from Beyond Blood

If you are a published author, you might want to try something else besides reading from your book to entertain and possibly sell book copies.

When I present with three or four other Crime Writers of Canada authors, we don’t just stand there and read. We have found that reading only bores the audience and we don’t really connect with them. So, we get a lively panel discussion going with one of us moderating. Sometimes we have prepared questions which we all answer – or some variation of the questions when we have true crime and fiction writers. Sometimes we each take turns talking about something connected to our writing – maybe writing series novels, research for true crime books. In both setups we welcome lots of questions from the audience.

And that gets the lively discussions going and what you have is writers and readers connecting.

Some of us venture out into more creative outlets. I know one crime writer who has actors play out scenes from her books. Another one has conducted mystery tours in Toronto. And I have started acting (in my old age, no less, portraying someone 25 years younger than me).

As mentioned in last week’s post, I now do brief skits, dressed up as my main Beyond Blood character Dana Bowman. In most of the scenarios – and I do vary them each time – Dana disses me, her author. That can include some quirky personal habits and writing habits. Dana, of course, claims to write her novels. But she does give me credit for getting her character down pat. I take a humorous tone and keep it to 10 minutes.

So far, i.e., two times it has gone over very well. One person in the audience (also a writer) said that my character just jumped out of the book. And the editor at my publisher’s was so enthused, he and I are planning on doing skits together starting in spring 2016.

And yes, it helps sell books.

Maybe I’m a ham at heart. Seriously, it might be a good idea for you to do something else besides read to promote your books. Do something unexpected; catch your audience off guard and at the same time connect with them.

I do one more Dana skit this year, tomorrow, Dec. 4, 2015 for a fundraiser for Syrian Refugees. Here is the blurb for that one.

This is a reminder of our upcoming Lifeline Syria Fundraiser.
Writers, musicians, and actors across Toronto are joining forces to raise money for Lifeline Syria (the Toronto-based grassroots organization helping to sponsor l,000 Syrian refugees).
There will be a silent auction including tickets to Soulpepper, spa passes, books, and lunch with Camilla Gibb.
Middle Eastern appetizers and desserts will be available on a pay what you can basis.
Details: Date: Dec 4Time: 6:30pm-l0:00pmLocation: Friends House, 60 Lowther Ave (Avenue Rd/Bloor) Cost: $l0.00

Cheers.

Sharon

 

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Tales – good and bad – from the book promo trenches

Sharon A. Crawford channelling Dana Bowman from Beyond Blood

Sharon A. Crawford channelling Dana Bowman from Beyond Blood. Shane Joseph photo

Still promoting my Beyond books. But when you do this you also need to help other writers promote their books. It is only fair as we are all in this together.

And sometimes that can be fun as the photo at the left shows. Cut line explains it briefly but more on that shortly. First I need to mention the downside as other published authors may run into this, if not with this bookseller, but another one, or two.

Up to last week, my encounters with booksellers have been amicable and polite. All had said they would at least see about carrying my Beyond Blood in their store. One even opted to carry a copy of each Beyond book. A couple of others I have to follow up on but they are part of a big chain, which has been helpful at other branches, so we will see here.

Now the bad and the ugly. I have also been approaching independent bookstores, but the latest venture there has left a sour taste in my mouth. Last week I entered Ben McNally Books in downtown Toronto. I always like to check to see if they already have a copy of my book. Ben McCally Books has a weird book placement system. No books by category – no signs either at the top of the bookshelves. Mystery,science fiction are all placed in with all fiction – alphabetically by author. So be it if that is the way they want to do it – their prerogative.

I approached the owner, Ben McNally about carrying a copy of Beyond Blood. As always, I stated it is not self-published but is published by a small Canadian trade publisher and handed him my business card and now that I have more – a couple of bookmarks. He barely glanced at them and said, ” Sorry, no.” He looked about as sorry as a person arrested who shows no remorse for his crime.

Being a former journalist and naturally curious, I asked “Why?”

He said he didn’t want books by small trade publishers.

So, I three him my kicker:

“Indigo (big Canadian book chain) has them in their stores.”

Then, I turned and left the store.

And you know, there weren’t many other customers in the store. Which says something.

I went directly to the big downtown Indigo store and what a difference. Manager very interested in carrying my Beyond Blood in that Indigo store. Indigo Chapters online has carried both Beyond books from day 1 for each, including print copy and e-copy (Kobo). Also this downtown Indigo bookstore is very busy – lots of customers. Because of the positive response, I bought a book there to give as a gift to a friend.

What goes around comes around.

And that brings me to what goes with the photo at the top.

I have started doing brief skits featuring Dana Bowman, the main character in the Beyond stories. I give Dana instructions to talk about herself and to read a bit from Beyond Blood.

Dana being Dana doesn’t listen. She does talk about herself some – but connects it to talking about me, her author. Dana claims she is instrumental in writing the Beyond stories. Oh, to a certain extent. I’ve been told I’m channelling Dana. I don’t mind her talking about writing and some of my quirks – if related to writing, but she can leave my plants out of it.

And when I say to read, she needs to read from Beyond Blood. And that hair in the photo above, taken by the editor at my publishers at their fall book launch, November 21? Dana has short “boy style hair.” Now she has decided to grow it somewhat. Really?

But the skit went over well at Blue Denim Press’s book launch. I was happy to bring along a few friends and to pre-promote the book launch and the authors launching their books, Shane Joseph and Chris Canniff, including reviewing their books in the two previous posts on this blog. The launch also had a Flamenco dancer and her husband providing the music on his guitar.

The funny thing here is Michael, the husband, used to come to my East End Writers’ Group when he and Lesley lived in my area. So did Shane when he lived in Toronto. And I knew Chrit from Canadian Authors Association Toronto Branch.

See, we writers are all connected, so we need to help each other.

Certain booksellers need to learn that too. Then they might get more business.

Dana Bowman will be making one more appearance before Christmas on Dec.4 and Sharon A. Crawford will have her Beyond books for sale at the Toronto Heliconian Club Art and Gift sale, Saturday, November 28. See my Gigs and Blogs page for more info.

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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Transitioning the real into the reel (fiction)

 

Sharon A. Crawford's latest in the Beyond series

Sharon A. Crawford’s latest in the Beyond series

Sometimes we go through tremendous ordeals in our lives. Often it is because of a big change – a death in the family, relationship breakup, personal illness, or being the victim of a crime.

Writing about it is often a way to heal and tell our story to others. A journal, personal essay or even a non-fiction article encompassing the ordeal is more fact, more actual with a story (and viewpoint included).

But what if you want to fictionalize it? Do you present details and people as they happened? Do you change people’s names and some details? How can you go about it?

Authors do it several ways. You do have to be concerned with libel – especially if the fiction is more fact than fiction. An author colleague is very particular here because she ran into libel issues a couple of times in the past – no libel involved, but it can scare you and serve as a warning.

Other authors use the “based on…” line.

Some write what they want and use the “Any resemblance to living persons, etc.” disclaimer.

I am a bit liberal about my approach. For the most part I sometimes take something from my life as a basis for a story – but the characters aren’t me or whomever else appeared and the story definitely is different. For example, in my short story collection Beyond the Tripping Point, one story deals with two female friends who have problems with a car brake that won’t work as they drive up to the cottage. This happened to a friend and I about 30 years ago. All my friend had to contend with was the brakes failing. She used the parking brake and we were in and out of gas stations looking for a bay to get the problem fixed. That’s where truth ends. What happens in “No Breaks” is well, crime fiction.

But I do up the ante sometimes if someone has really messed up with my life. When I told this story at a recent Crime Writers of Canada reading, I could just feel the other author mentioned above cringe. (I was looking at the audience, not her, so didn’t actually see her face).

There is a way to do this. One of the characters in one of my short stories in Beyond the Tripping Point is loosely based on this real-life person – only the age is in the same decade and I saw her features, her way of dressing in my mind. But from the minimal description I gave of her, she could be any person in that age bracket fitting that description. I kept her in the same work industry but a different job. Yes, she was one of the suspects, but I won’t tell you if she was the guilty one.

A bit of background here – the person (yes a family member) objected to me writing and getting published family stories as memoir but she said I could fictionalize any of it. So, I did a variation of that.

In Beyond Blood, a couple of characters, Detective Sergean tDonald  Fielding and Great Aunt Doris Bowman are loosely on people I have known – but none of them messed up my life. The first one I liked and the second one was an interesting person. Dana Bowman, my main character, is she based on me? Not exactly. For one thing she is 25 years younger than me. True, we are both short in stature, but I made her shorter, something she is a bit peeved about. Let’s just say Dana tends to boldly go where I just might not do so.

So, it is not all cut and dry about going from real to reel. Just consider that even when your fiction has nothing to do with real life, at least any you have experienced, read about or seen, there is always somebody who will insist that a character in your story is based on them.

Usually they are wrong. Perhaps they have a latent wish to be immortalized in some way.

Cheers.

Sharon A. Crawford

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

 

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