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Category Archives: Writing Critique Groups

Creativity from the Stacks features variety of talent

Many of you probably know that I run a writing critique group called the East End Writers’ Group. It’s been going for almost 17 years.  This month on June 28 we are holding a special presentation to showcase some of our members’ talents. And many of us are going beyond doing author readings. Of course we will have some of that. But we will also have photography combined with memoir, a how to from pitching your story to a magazine to publication, a songwriting/singing presentation, and a comedy skit where book characters run wild. We are also holding a short writing critique sample so people can see just what we usually do and participate. The whole event is free and is open to the public, so not only just to writers.

 

 

 

 

 

We are doing this presentation in partnership with East End Arts and the Toronto Public Library, specifically the S. Walter Stewart  branch where we meet once a month except for August and December. You can read more about East End Writers’ Group on my website.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Without further ado, here is more specific info including an introduction to some of our presenters. The rest will be in next week’s post.

 

First the schedule:

6.30 p.m. to 7.10 p.m. Mix and mingle, nibblies and sample writing critique

6.40 p.m. to 7.10 p.m. Sample Writing Critique led by Gia Petec in a corner of the auditorium (those not participating can continue on eating and chatting)

7.15 p.m. to 9 p.m. the presenters take their turns on the stage in this order:

Sharon A. Crawford welcomes all briefly and starts introducing the performers.

Laura Jones -shares photographs and passages from her memoir-in-the works

Paola Ferrante reads her short story “Cold Hands” which appears in the current issue of Minola Review.

Event co-host Nishe Catherine will read her short memoir “Selena” which was shortlisted in Malahat Review’s Creative Non-fiction contest.

Nishe Catherine takes over the MCing.

Gail Murray will talk about writing to submission calls and will read her story “Summer in the Sandbanks” from More of Our Canada.

Sharon  A.  Crawford and Shane Joseph perform a comedy skit featuring characters from their books who collide with real life and each other.

Lee Parpart talks about small press publishing and reads three recent poems.

Nick Nanos does a musical performance and talks about songwriting.

9 p.m. to 9.30 p.m.. More chatting, nibblies and checking out and perhaps buying a book or photograph.

 

Introducing the Presenters Part 1

Gia Petec – writer and zumba instructor

 Link to Gia here

 

 Laura Jones – photographer and writer

 

 

 

 

 

See Laura’s website

 

Paola Ferrante – writer and teacher

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Nishe Catherine – poet and writer of short stories and non-fiction

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

More info on these and the other presenters are on the event website created by Lee Parpart. Of course you get a peek at the others too. But I’ll still feature the rest of us in next week’s post. Meantime check out the event’s Facebook page also created by Lee.

And the Location for Creativity from the Stacks

S. Walter Stewart Library (auditorium), 170 Memorial Park Ave., in the East York part of Toronto, Ontario, Canada. If you are in the area please join us on Wednesday, June 28.

Cheers.

Sharon A. Crawford

 

 

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The Credibility Factor in Fiction Writing

The second Beyond book.

We writers let our imaginations flow. We get creative and write outside the box. However, sometimes we go on tangents with our plots, and characters’ actions and dialogue, often resulting in going way off the credibility meter.  We don’t always see that, but our readers do.

And to make it more complicated – credibility can be relative. What is credible for fantasy may not be credible for mystery or romance – at least the plot. Character, no matter the genre, always need to be credible.

I’m not immune to this credibility tangent. Just ask my publisher. And read last week’s post here.

So, how do we get make sure our characters and plot are credible?

One thing I sometimes do is act out a scene. Can a character actually do this? No, I don’t jump off buildings – nothing extreme like that (I’m afraid of heights anyway.) But I do it to get the logistics of a character’s action. For example to see if a character could actually see something from a certain window? Or what it is like walking in heavy rain. Yes, you can use your imagination, but I bet you’ll forget some detail. So get out there and experience your scene. Hook yourself up to your cell phone  so if you have to talk like your character, you don’t risk strange looks from others you pass. If you are using present time and present location and not making any of that up, it might be a good idea to get the lay of the land as it is now for streets and crossings. You don’t want your characters crossing a street called Main Street today that last week was renamed to Markham Avenue.

Use a credibility meter for characters to decide on action or dialogue. (And remember, this might be done in a rewrite). Ask yourself how your character  would act or react- based on their traits, based on their background, based on their psyche, based on what has happened with and to them before in your novel. Would a timid character suddenly start arguing with someone who is clearly trying to get her goat? But remember, part of a novel’s premise is things change and that includes the characters. So if something happens to your character to bring about a change, maybe that character will finally tell that other character off. Don’t make it easy for him or her. It would be a struggle.

It also is a good idea to have your writing critiqued by a writing critique group – online and/or in person.

Remember, writers can have tunnel vision about their work. But other writers will look at it fresh and from other viewpoints.

That is taking your writing out of the box in another way.

Cheers.

Sharon A. Crawford

 

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Dana Bowman entertains at East End Writers’ Group

Sharon A. Crawford's latest in the Beyond series

Sharon A. Crawford’s latest in the Beyond series

Dana Bowman, the main character in my Beyond Blood novel took over my presentation spot at the East End Writers’ Group 15th anniversary last week.This is actually my writing critique group and it’s been happening in Toronto’s east end for 15th years – for 13 years at my house, then at a couple of local businesses nearby and finally from May 2014 at the S. Walter Stewart Public Library.

It was a lot of work with a lot of snafus popping up at the last minute – presenters having to cancel – all for good reasons, but I almost went batalistic when one of the two panelists on self-publishing cancelled a week before the event. Fortunately I was able to get another EEWG member with self-publishing experience to fill in and he (Steven Biggs) was awesome. So, was the other panelist (Ellen Michelson).

The presentations were divided into non-fiction, poetry and fiction. Each presenter could do whatever they wanted in their short time-slot. So we had an author interview set up as a letter and reply to and from a Toronto newspaper advice columnist. Another author, who writes opera, did a Power Point presentation (complete with music) on an opera he wrote for a company that involves the homeless in producing and presenting operas. Lots of readings.

And then there was Dana Bowman, my character. I didn’t introduce any of the fiction presenters as I was one of them. For my presentation, instead of only reading from Beyond Blood I decided to dress up like Dana (complete with short hair black wig and cap). So, when I was introduced, “Dana” ran into the room and onto the stage and made some comment that “Sharon can’t make it because an impatient client insisted on speaking to her now.”

Yes, I was channeling Dana – or that was supposed to be it, but it got to the point where well, who was channeling who. Dana completely took over.

But it got everyone’s attention, interest and some laughs.

Maybe I’m a closet actor. At any rate, I plan to take Dana on a sort of tour – well somewhat limited as I have just two  acting engagements lined up: one for Dec. 4 at a fundraiser in Toronto for Syrian refugees. I’ll be posting that shortly on my Gigs and Blogs page connected with this blog and also on my website http://www.samcraw.com.

Meantime, the next couple of postings here will feature my book reviews of a couple of other Blue Denim Press authors – Shane Joseph and Christopher Canniff – who are launching new books at 3 p.m.,  November 21 at Paintbox Bistro  in Toronto. Dana will be doing her skit here too. See below for the launch info.

If you are in the Toronto area then, you are invited to come to this launch.

Cheers.

Sharon

 

Click on Beyond Blood book cover at the top for where it is available.

 

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Crime Writing Trio off to York Region again

Sharon A. Crawford's latest in the Beyond series

Sharon A. Crawford’s latest in the Beyond series

The crime-writing trio of Rosemary McCracken, Nate Hendley and myself Sharon A. Crawford are off to yet another library in York Region. In this irregularly scheduled book tour of various York Region libraries, this evening we will hit the Woodbridge Library at 150 Woodbridge Ave. in where else – Woodbridge, Ontario. That’s just north of Toronto. Here’s the blurb about our presentation.

Crime Writers of Canada authors – Nate Hendley, Rosemary McCracken and Sharon A. Crawford have another run-in with crime (between the book covers) coming in September. It is all part of an irregularly scheduled tour of York Region library branches. The “crime” trio will be talking about their books and writing, answering questions from the audience and reading. Nate Hendley writes true crime, Rosemary McCracken writes the Pat Tierney mystery series, and Sharon A. Crawford writes the Beyond mystery series.

I find it interesting doing any crime writing presentation and reading – whatever format we use. This evening one of the librarians will introduce us and we will talk individually about some aspect of our writing. As Rosemary and I both write series mystery fiction, we try to talk about something different in crime writing (besides our book series and character and plots being different). Rosemary will talk about how writers handle writing a series and how writing contests helped market her short stories. I’m focusing on where my characters and plots come from and what, how and why I do the necessary research. Nate writes true crime so that is a whole different perspective,

Rosemary is driving us there and we plan to arrive a bit before the whole presentation starts at 6.30 p.m., going to around 8 p.m. We will have copies of our books, so if you are in the area (I know not all reading this post are), please drop in. It is free and promises to be entertaining.

Our photos and links to our websites/blogs appear below.

Cheers.

Sharon A. Crawford

Rosemary McCracken author of Safe Harbor and Black Water mystery novels

Rosemary McCracken author of Safe Harbor and Black Water mystery novels

https://rosemarymccracken.wordpress.com/

 

Nate Hendley true crime writer

Nate Hendley true crime writer

http://www.natehendley.com/

Sharon A. Crawford reads from her Beyond series

Sharon A. Crawford reads from her Beyond series http://www.samcraw.com

 

 

 

http://www.samcraw.com/

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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Tales from the book promo trenches Part 2

Sharon reads from her Beyond book series

Sharon reads from her Beyond book series

The book promo for Beyond Blood continues. This time the promo took on somewhat different formats.

 

Wednesday, November 26 I was the guest speaker at the East End Writers’ Group. Disclaimer: it is my own group but because we meet in a library branch (S. Walter Stewart in Toronto) in their large auditorium, we can schedule guest speakers for the first part and after the break do our usual writing critique of members’ works-in-progress.

I talked about how I transition from short stories to novels and vice-versa with series characters. As my situation of writing/publishing is backwards in time, i.e. not chronological, that makes it more complicated. Beyond the Tripping Point, the short story collection was published in fall 2012 but the four linked stories with the fraternal twin PIs Dana Bowman and Bast Overture, occur in 1999. Beyond Blood is the pre-quel novel set in eight frantic days in August 1998.

My dirty little secret is an older version of Beyond Blood had been written 12 or so years ago. Of course, it had to be completely rewritten. But some of the plotline and character development was already there – something I had to keep in mind when writing the BTTP short stories. It was a constant back and forth as was this presentation last week because I also had q and a with the audience. We even worked humour into the discussion. I ended by doing a short reading from Beyond Blood.

No, didn’t sell any books there – at least in print. But maybe a few people bought e-books on line. Also, when I thought of it, some of the people there had come to my book launch and had already bought a book. Still a good evening.

Saturday, November 29 my books were part of the Toronto Heliconian Literary Group table at the Toronto Heliconian Club’s first (in this incarnation) art and gift sale. In fact, I organized our table. Like sometimes happens with the first of anything, attendance wasn’t great. But I did sell three copies of Beyond Blood and had some good chats with the other member authors. Afterwards, three of us went to the nearby Hemmingway’s Pub for some wine, an early supper and more chatting.

And I bought a mask from one of the artist vendors at the club sale. I collect masks.

But I am now wiped out from all this physical book promo, organization and also client work. I will be taking some time off soon this month to reconnect with family and friends, to attend some Christmas parties and to do some more writing/rewriting of the next novel in the Beyond series. And I will focus more on social media promo for Beyond Blood. And getting more sleep.

But this blog will continue on its weekly (Thursday) basis. However, for the next two weeks I’m letting my two PI characters – Dana Bowman and Bast Overture – do the posting.

Meantime, you can go to my publisher’s website www.bluedenimpress.com to order e-pub and Kindle copies of Beyond Blood and Beyond the Tripping Point. Also check out my interview with Tom Taylor on cable TV. I talk about writing novels, short stories and some of the characters in Beyond the Tripping Point. Go to http://bluedenimpress.com/authors/sharon-a-crawford/ and scroll down on the right until you get to  Watch Sharon A. Crawford and Beyond the Tripping Point on Rogers Cable TV

And I will be going to the book launch of World Enough and Crime Anthology featuring stories by Rosemary McCracken, Rosemary Aubert, Melodie Campbell, Donna Carrick and many more this Saturday, Dec. 6 from 2 p.m. to 3.15 p.m. at Sleuth of Baker St., 907 Millwood Avenue in Toronto. Check out Sleuth at http://sleuthofbakerstreet.ca/ Beyond Blood is also available there to order online.

Cheers.

 

Sharon A. Crawford

Cover of Beyond Blood by Sharon A. Crawford, published by Blue Denim Press. Click for link to purchase e-copies

Cover of Beyond Blood by Sharon A. Crawford, published by Blue Denim Press. Click for link to purchase e-copies

 

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Sharon A. Crawford appears at Inspire Book Fair

Sharon_A_Crawford_Book_LaunchReading is the sole means by which we slip, involuntarily, often helplessly, into another’s skin, another’s voice, another’s soul.

  • Joyce Carol Oates

The first Inspire: the Toronto International Book Fair gets underway this evening. And I’m going to be doing double duty in appearances there – signing and selling books and reading from Beyond Blood. More on that shortly. But first a personal perspective about how an author prepares for these events.

My books – Beyond Blood and Beyond the Tripping Point are key and I don’t just mean to sell. That’s important too but so is engaging with my readers. Just sitting there with a bunch of books does not connect me with my readers. I need to talk to them. And I don’t just do a book promo speech. I ask them if they write and what they write. Do they read mystery fiction? Conversation is a two-way street.

When I actually do read I don’t just stand there and drone on from my book(s). First I give a little background about my story and the main characters. Then I read. I’m told my reading is like audio, like I’m right in my story. True. I channel each character who speaks, particularly six-year-old David Bowman, Dana Bowman’s son. I love talking like a child. Not sure what that says about me.

I also get right into the actions going on. Haven’t stabbed or shot anyone yet. (FYI the only gun I have is a small water gun and carrying around knives would be considered carrying a concealed weapon). But I’ll shake my manuscript when Dana is shaking her sketch pad at her brother Bast.

Yes, I said manuscript. Because here’s my deep dark secret. I have terrible eyesight (the bane of getting old), and although the font is large enough in my books, sometimes the lights are not bright enough. So I have a few pages of pumped-up font printed out and read from that.

You really wouldn’t want me to use a magnifying glass, would you? Although I do carry one of those around and it would be appropriate for crime fiction.

Back to the books – the big question is: how many do I bring? Which gets translated into: how many can I carry? I travel on public transit and many Toronto subway stations don’t have elevators or down escalators. If I get a ride it helps – if there is a parking lot nearby.

You also sometimes need to create an attractive display in a small space, i.e. prop up one copy of each book, have some bookmarks and other info, but not too much. You don’t want to overwhelm your readers.

So, while I prepare for this weekend at Inspire, the Toronto International Book Fair at Metro Toronto Convention Centre North Building, 255 Front Street West, http://www.torontobookfair.ca/

here are the details about my appearances:

Friday, November 14, 6 p.m. to 7 p.m.

Selling and signing copies of Beyond Blood and Beyond the Tripping Point at the Toronto Sisters in Crime Booth No. 1120 in the Marketplace Section.

Saturday, November 15, 4 p.m.

Reading from Beyond Blood at my publisher Blue Denim Press’s booth No. 1326 in the Marketplace. Afterward I’ll be there to talk to my readers and sign books.

Note: my publishers will be at that booth for the duration of the book fair.

Please join me there and engage in the conversation about your writing and/or reading.

And of course Beyond Blood and Beyond the Tripping Point.

And pass this info on – tweet about it, link to your blog, Facebook, etc.

Cheers.

 

Sharon A. Crawford

For those not in the Toronto, Canada area, you can click on my book covers below – they will lead you to my publisher Blue Denim Press’s website. Scroll down and you can see where Beyond Blood is currently available, including at www.bluedenimpress.com.

And check my website www.samcraw.com – click on Beyond Blood. I constantly update the gigs etc. on that page.

Cover of Sharon A. Crawford's mystery short story collection

Cover of Sharon A. Crawford’s mystery short story collection

Cover of Beyond Blood by Sharon A. Crawford, published by Blue Denim Press

Cover of Beyond Blood by Sharon A. Crawford, published by Blue Denim Press

 

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Come to Sharon A Crawford’s Book Launch Sunday Oct.19

Sharon A Crawford author of the short story collection Beyond Blood published by Blue Denim Press

Sharon A Crawford author of Beyond Blood published by Blue Denim Press

Fiction is about stuff that’s screwed up.
– Nancy Kress

 

Dana is scurrying around The Attic Agency Office when Bast walks into the room.

Bast: What are you doing?

Dana: Getting ready for the big launch.

Bast: Our agency opening reception. I thought all was…

Dana: No, no, not that. Sharon A. Crawford’s book launch. You know the author who created us?

Bast: Of course. That is coming up already?

Dana: Yes, this Sunday. October 19. We have to get the word out Bast about her book Beyond Blood.

Bast: You mean before our agency opening?

Dana: Yes, and Sharon’s book launch has to happen first so that Beyond Blood can happen.

Bast: You mean our actual launch, the kidn…

Dana: Sh. Bast, don’t give it all away. People have to come to the book launch and buy a copy of Beyond Blood to find out what happens.

Bast: Right. And we should also mention what else is happening at the Book Launch.

Dana: Yes. The book launch is also for another first time mystery novelist, Klaus Jakelski’s book Dead Wrong. It’s a medical mystery.

Bast: Yes. And Klaus is a medical doctor in Sudbury, Ontario.

Dana: And Sharon, like you is a former journalist, although she covered health as well as some crime stories.

Bast: Sharon is also short like you. In fact, she has a couple of inches on you.

Dana: Bast. Leave my height out of it.

Bast (chuckling): Okay, if you wish.

Dana: What I wish is to find that poster that Blue Denim Press, Sharon’s and Klaus’s publisher, had printed. Have you seen it?

Bast: Yes, right here on my desk.

Dana and Bast grab the poster, hold it up and together announce:

Blue Murder with Blue Denim Press:

Join in the murderous mayhem at the launch of two debut mystery novels:

Beyond Blood by Sharon A. Crawford

Dead Wrong by Klaus Jakelski

More mayhem provided by guest readers Rosemary McCracken and Nate Hendley

Launch presented by Blue Denim Press.

Mayhem provided by all.

Location:     Paintbox Bistro

555 Dundas Street East (at Parliament St.) Toronto (parking inside building), Ontario

http://paintboxbistro.ca/contact

Time and Date: 3 p.m., Sunday, October 19, 2014

Bring a guest or two if you wish.

There is an entrance cost of $15. per person. That entitles you to a copy of a Blue Denim Press book-. Your guest(s) can choose another book published by Blue Denim Press. No charge for children 16 and under.

See you there.

Cheers.

Dana Bowman

Bast Overture

And

Sharon A. Crawford

And check out Sharon A. Crawford’s Facebook author page https://www.facebook.com/pages/Sharon-A-Crawford/412730865439394

Linked In profile http://ca.linkedin.com/in/sharoncrawfordwordssparkle

Sharon A. Crawford’s website www.samcraw.com and click on Beyond Blood for all the details of Sharon’s gigs.

And visit Sharon’s publisher Blue Denim Press at http://www.bluedenimpress.com to see that poster.

 

Cover of Dead Wrong by Klaus Jakelski, published by Blue Denim Press

Cover of Dead Wrong by Klaus Jakelski, published by Blue Denim Press

Cover of Beyond Blood by Sharon A. Crawford, published by Blue Denim Press

Cover of Beyond Blood by Sharon A. Crawford, published by Blue Denim Press

 

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