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Category Archives: Writing

Crime (Writing) not dead in Canada

Sharon A. Crawford mugshot

The title might be an oxymoron, but to rephrase it – dead people populate crime fiction and non fiction, but the genre and all its books are popular and prolific in Canada. The annual Arthur Ellis Awards banquet held annually by Crime Writers of Canada proves that.

We packed them in last evening in the great hall of The Arts and Letters Club in downtown Toronto. We ate, drank, chatted, and then the awards were presented. Unlike the Oscars and the like awards presentation aren’t drawn out, boring, and exaggerated. A bookseller did the duties of handing envelopes and award statuettes, the CWC president spoke briefly at the beginning and then called each presenter in turn. The presenter read the authors shortlisted and then named the winner (and no Oscar wrong name fiasco). The winner, if present, came up on stage, did their thank you and then posed for a few seconds for a photo with their presenter.

The latter got a bit funny when the CWC member taking photographs – Rick Blechta won the  Lou Alin Award for Best Novella. But Cathy Ace, the CWC president stepped up to the camera and took the photo.

There was also some humour from all and the winners’ thank yous were interesting and diverse.

Donna Morrisey won for best novel. And no, I’m not going to list all the winners. You can check that out at the Crime Writers of Canada website.You will also see what the award statute looks like. But you won’t be able to make its hands and feet work. One of the winners showed us how at the banquet Can’t do that with an Oscar. I am also not putting a graphic of Arthur at the top for copyright reasons, so you have to contend with my mug. At least I was there.

And for avid crime readers – no matter where you live – you can receive a quarterly electronic copy of Cool Canadian Crime which lists their members newest books coming out. Just scroll down the page to “Books”. Warning, commercial – sort of here – my newest Beyond mystery Beyond Faith comes out this fall, so if I remember to send out the info in time, it should be listed in Cool Canadian Crime later this year.

And when you check out CWC home page, you get a selection of new books releases by members floating across the screen. Check out the bios for what we all do between the book covers. Murder and mayhem and much more.

And we can get away with crime (between the book covers).

Cheers.

Sharon A. Crawford

 

 

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Beyond Faith new novel

The second beyond book.

The contract for Beyond Faith, my third Beyond mystery book is signed and yesterday I completed the second last rewrite for the publisher. There will be one more kick at the … no, not cat – no cats in Beyond Faith – there is a dog,but I do not kick dogs, or cats either. I will get one more chance at any rewrite after the editor at the publisher has another look at it.

He and I have worked together to get Beyond Faith ready for publication this fall and once the last rewrite is done, I will pull our the book promo ideas now running round in my brain (and some no doubt taking a nap), and what I have read in emails and social media and get them going.

But the rewriting has been intense. Shane, my editor has pointed out things that are unclear, silly and inconsistent, and like all editors (myself too when I wear my editor hat), things that can just be deleted. I found a few of all those on my own. From there I was able to rewrite a better story, make my characters more interesting and realistic and hint at what’s to maybe come in future Beyond mysteries.

It is an experience for me to be the one whose novel is being edited instead of the other way around. I do say that I work from both sides of the fence – writing and editing. This full fence position (positions?) gives a wider perspective of the writing and rewriting process.

I like going deep deep into the story with its rewriting. Sometimes I get so carried away I forget to get up and eat lunch at a reasonable time. And I find myself acting out scenes – although many times it is to get the logistics of what is happening. Without going into a lot of details to spoil it, Beyond Faith has a whole lot of pushing going on (and I don’t mean the drug-dealing kind). Trying to see how someone would fall when pushed (as opposed to tripping and falling) isn’t as easy as you think.

What do you do? Get a friend to push you or persuade them to let you push them so you can see it from behind? It is important to get these details right, but at what cost? No, I didn’t get friends involved, but I did some research online and I moved around inside and outside to get a better idea.

This going inside your novel’s story and characters and seeing where it takes you and then having it make sense and flow, but be interesting and different is what I like doing. It is like going into another world, although it is debatable who controls it – you or your characters.

But if I didn’t do it, the novel would be superficial.

And while I’m doing it, God or somebody else help anyone who phones or comes to my door; If jerked suddenly out of this intense creative state, there is no telling what I will do. Although I seem to be more mouthy (as in “what do you want?”) instead of pushy.

What about you? .

Cheers.

Sharon A. Crawford

 

 

 

 

 

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Memoir writing and fiction writing are connected

Writing fiction and writing memoirs have a few things in common. Both have characters; a POV, setting, narrative and dialogue. But there is something very different about them, that you need to remember. In fiction, you make up your plot and characters. In memoir you are telling your truth, your life (or parts of it as you remember). And the people in a memoir are real people from your past and/or present – even if you change the name to protect the guilty. However, in both fiction and memoir, emotions and feelings are very important.

As mentioned in last week’s post, I am teaching a memoir writing course at the Toronto Reference Library. And again like last week I put a snippet of what we cover this week on my other blog Only Child Writes. Like last week I’ll refer to it and this time will include the link here.

In this post I excerpt a small part of a chapter from my memoir. The excerpt is shortened even more. And yes, I change the people’s names. But the excerpt shows how you can write memoir, fiction style. The main character here is of course, me (or in your memoir, you).

Cheers.

Sharon A. Crawford

Author of the Beyond mystery series. More info about  Beyond Blood here.

 

 

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Sharon writes M and M

I like to say I write “M and M.” And I don’t mean the candy – although I am a chocoholic. What I write is mystery and memoir. And because I’m one day late with this week’s posting  (too many deadlines, don’t ask), I want to take a look at the second M – memoir writing. Or in my case this month teaching memoir writing  – four weekly sessions at the Toronto Reference Library.

Before I go off on a memoir tangent, I want to mention that many authors, besides me, who started out writing and in some cases, publishing memoir books, also turned to fiction. For example, Catherine Gildner of the Too Close to the Falls memoir “series” – three books so far, also wrote the mystery Seduction. Ross Pennie,whose first published book was a memoir of his time as a young doctor in now writes the Dr. Zol Szabo medical mystery series. If you go to to the Crime Writers of Canada website and check the members biographies, you might find a few more who write M and M. And their quarterly e-publication Cool Canadian Crime (it’s free and available to all, not just CWC members) keeps mystery readers (and writers) up to date on members new books.

So back to that Memoir Writing Course and the connection here I am going to make. I also write another weekly blog on Tuesdays – which focuses on growing up an only child and the consequences over the years since. That gives me leeway for many topics, including writing memoir and teaching memoir. On this other blog, called Only Child Writes (what else would I call it?) for the Tuesdays this month I have been posting a snippet post and a link to it to read the rest. It is all writing and some of it can apply to fiction writing as memoir, although the truth according to the author, is written in fiction style.

Only Child on Research for your Memoir

“Have you found Grandpa’s farm?” my cousin Leona asked me when I called her just after arriving in Walkerton, Ontario.”

This is all part of my research for my family history on my mother’s side.

Read on. Can you see possibilities in what happened for some short fiction?

Cheers.

Sharon A. Crawford

Author of the Beyond mystery series. More info about  Beyond Blood here.

 

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Posted by on April 14, 2017 in Blogging, Writing

 

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Rolling out the author readings with Canadian Authors Toronto

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Cheers.

Sharon A. Crawford

 

 

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Listen to your publisher

I am lucky that the editor at my publisher’s goes through my submitted manuscript and makes suggestions. Then we book a phone consult to hash through all these suggestions and comments.

It really gets me thinking beyond whatever box I was writing in.

I had that experience earlier this week. This was the “final” submission, i.e., the one that would make or break whether my new Beyond novel would be accepted for publication.He was quick to praise that it was a much better story and worth being published, but it came with the suggested changes. And some of them pointed out what wasn’t working and left the how-to-do-so up to me.

So we had, as the current dialogue goes, “a conversation about it”. We were both polite but explored what could be done. He said he had read the novel as a reader and not a publisher and that’s where his suggestions came from.

Besides stretching the creativity limit, it also served as pointing-out what just might not work. He didn’t say it, but he was playing devil’s advocate.

Not all publishers do this with their authors – whether new. Often it is “my way or the highway if you want it to be published.” That often stifles the author’s creativity. It is okay for authors to talk about why they wrote what, but go from there. Get past the ego that everything in your manuscript, down to the last comma, is sealed in gold and it has to be published exactly that way. We have probably all read published trade books where the publisher gave the author (often a well-known author) free rein. I won’t mention any names, but some of those books could have been shortened by 200 pages or so.

Getting published, at least by a trade publisher, is a two-way street. Remember, your publisher wants to sell your book, so making that more viable is a good idea. And it can also increase not only your royalties but the book’s presence in a very crowded market.

I have to the end of April to make the changes. So, after our phone conversation, I spent the rest of the afternoon and into dinner time going through the whole novel again and making short comments to his comments based on our conversation. Because being human, I would not remember it all if I didn’t do that.

I’ll keep you posted on Beyond Faith.

Meantime, you can familiarize yourself with the Beyond mystery series by clicking on the Beyond Blood icon a the top.

Cheers.

Sharon A. Crawford

 

 

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Same old same old to twisted plots

beyond-the-tripping-point-cover Amazon link-72dpi4If I saw one more TV mystery where the cops found the dead body in the trunk, I was going to do more than scream. And I did. I wrote “The Body in the Trunk” (from my short story collection Beyond the Tripping Point, Blue Denim Press, 2012). Instead of a body being found in the trunk the story deals with getting a body into a trunk and the why behind it. I also, as I often do with these stories, wrote it as a satire, in the noir black vein.

At one point I was also getting bored with reading mystery novels where the main character, a private investigator seemed to be continually broke. So, in “The Couch” I created a young (mid-20s)  private investigator who has too many clients. The story, also a satire noir black, deals with how the PI tries to downsize the clients – first using standard legit means, and when that doesn’t work, turning to crime. The payback is unexpected. “The Couch” was first published in an anthology, before being published in Beyond the Tripping Point.

So if you hit writer’s block on creating a new plot – take a twist on an old one, but one that is overused to the point of boredom.

And let your creativity loose.

You never know what will surface. It is just criminal. (Sorry, couldn’t resist that).

Cheers.

Sharon

And as usual, click on the book icon at the top to find out more about my Beyond books.

 

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