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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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Get your writing critiqued

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

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

Every time I’d get a critique or some redirection, I’d always just take it very personally. Now I have no problem with it.

-Jessica Alba

Besides proofreading which I talked about in last week’s post, another tool for the writer is to get your writing critiqued by other writers. I have posted about this before but it is important enough to do an updated version.

Let me take you to yesterday evening when my East End Writers’ Group met at S. Walter Stewart Library in Toronto. We are basically a writing critique group and that is what writers come here for. Some new members joined us and we had some interesting writing excerpts from some very talented and intelligent writers.

Some of the issues that other writers picked up on and commented about:

For the beginning of a literary novel. Use more dialogue – the author knew this but needed some guidance on how to go about it.

For a non-fiction self-help book which was written in plain language. Some structural changes were suggested by other writers, such as use sub-headings, use more anecdotes and less instruction.
For a synopsis for an opera – yes we have a music composer who also writes short stories. We were all getting lost in all the characters. Suggestions were to make the synopsis shorter (as it would be going on the program) and list the characters and a bit about each separately.
So you can see how more pairs of eyes and ears can pick up what the writer misses. When we write we do so in solitude (we would hope no outside interruptions). We also have tunnel vision (subjective) with our work and sometimes “can’t see the forest for the trees.” Even when we know something isn’t working, we may try and try again, several times, and run out of options to fix it. Others can see what our mind may miss.

This is where a writing critique group comes in. I urge you to join one – online or in person – whichever you prefer. Just a few caveats. You shouldn’t have to pay for this – it is mutual writers helping writers. Maybe everybody can bring food or beverage for a snack. With East End Writers’ Group I ask everyone to bring a gluten-free snack or juice. I usually bring cheese, rice crackers, fruit and peppermint tea bags. Now if I just could get the kettle working at the library – despite being shown it just doesn’t work for me. It is not the straightforward plug in the electric kettle version.

Kettles no matter – what does matter is you pick a group that suits your needs. Find out if the group is open to all writing genres or just fiction or poetry, etc. Which do you prefer? Do you pre-submit your writing excerpt for critique or just bring it to the gathering? If online, how do you submit it – in a form online or as a Word attachment? What about copyright online? It should remain with you the author. If online, are you expected to critique other writers’ work? How many? Check the timeline for these and see if you can work within the group’s timeline. For groups meeting in person, look at when they meet and how often. Do you want to go every week (some do meet once a week and that can prove hectic and too much), once a month or? And do you prefer weekday daytime, weekday evenings or Saturday mornings or afternoons. Will you fit in with the group, i.e., are they giving constructive criticism? Are they negative? Are they nasty?

Give the group a test drive. Attend for a few sessions or sign up online for a few sessions and if you don’t like, bow out.
Where do you find these groups? For in-person, check your area library branches – their websites should have them all listed. Or check the library branch itself – often they have a flyer posted. Or ask a librarian. A librarian can often tell you what other branches are offering. Universities that offer writing courses often have writing groups as well. Check their bulletin boards. Also some writing organizations also offer writing critique groups, often online – these would be open to members. There is also Meet-up if you have that in your area, which has writing groups.

Or go to Mr. Google and just try “Writing Groups” (that one also gets you some links for info how groups operate and what to look for) or “Writing Groups (your location here)”. When I add “Toronto” to “Writing Groups” my East End Writers’ Group is listed as the top two and three. Guess that is good SEO.

You can read about my characters and their stories in my short story collection Beyond the Tripping Point (Blue Denim Press, 2012). Click on the book at the top and it takes you to Sharon A. Crawford’s profile – including book reviews – at http://www.amazon.com.

More info on Sharon A.’s upcoming gigs, workshops, guest blog posts, etc. at http://www.samcraw.com/Articles/BeyondtheTrippingPoint.html

Cheers.

Sharon A. Crawford

 

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Interview with Fiction Characters by Fiction Characters – Part 44

Amazon.com link to Sharon A.'s short story collection

Amazon.com link to Sharon A.’s short story collection

Make everybody fall out of the plane first, and then explain who they were and why they were in the plane to begin with.

– Nancy Ann Dibble

All the main characters, except the missing Bast Overture, are assembled in the dining room of the Stuart house in Toronto, Ontario. Will Bast show up? And if so, how? In physical person? Or in spirit. And what about PC Joseph Oliver? What is he going to do?

Swan (waving the gun he just fired): Next time I’ll hit one of you.

Fielding: Put that gun down, Swan.

Hutchinson: You heard him. Put that gun down.

Dana, still shaking from the gun’s noise: Better listen to them, Swan.

Swan: Or you’ll do what. I’m the one with the gun here. I…oh…

Roger’s and Susan’s spirits are creating havoc around Swan but they can’t seem to get the gun out of his hand.

Oliver (rushing forward to Swan and reaching up): I’ll take that.

Oliver knocks the gun from Swan’s hand, sending the gun flying. Hutchinson picks it up and points it at Swan.

Hutchinson: Cuff him, Oliver.

He does and Susan’s and Roger’s spirits return to the table where Robbie hasn’t budged. Robbie appears as if in a trance, as if he is talking to someone that no one else can see.

Dana, looking at Swan: We got you now. It might be in your best interest to tell me where my brother is. NOW.

Swan smirks: Of course. Look over there.

Dana follows his eyes. Sitting at the dining room table with Robbie, and the two spirits, is Bast. He appears to be talking to Robbie. The other two don’t seem to notice.

And Bast’s face looks very very pale.

Cheers.
Sharon A. Crawford

Sharon A. Crawford’s prequel novel Beyond Blood, featuring the fraternal twins will be published fall 2014 by Blue Denim Press. Stay tuned.

Meantime, you can read more about the characters and their stories in from Beyond the Tripping Point (Blue Denim Press, 2012). Click on the book at the top and it takes you to Sharon A. Crawford’s profile – including book reviews – at http://www.amazon.com. The book is available there in print and Kindle. For Kobo e-book go to http://store.kobobooks.com/en-CA/ebook/beyond-the-tripping-point or go to any bricks and mortar store and order in a print copy. Spread the word.
More info on Sharon A.’s upcoming gigs, workshops, guest blog posts, etc. at http://www.samcraw.com/Articles/BeyondtheTrippingPoint.html

 

 

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Connecting with publishers and agents

Cover of Sharon’s short story collection Beyond the Tripping Point

To write what is worth publishing, to find honest people to publish it, and get sensible people to read it are the three great difficulties in being an author.”

~ Charles Caleb Colton

Last week I blogged about the traditional way to pitch your book manuscript to publishers and agents. Other ways exist and for some you have to have imagination and nerve. Then there is what Brian Henry said in his workshop last Saturday “Luck” or as I see it – “right place, right time.”

How I got my publisher for my mystery short story collection Beyond the Tripping Point comes under the latter. The Editor at Blue Denim Press used to come regularly to my East End Writers’ (critique) Group when he still lived in Toronto. He is also a writer. Once we traded manuscripts for evaluation (although mine was a memoir, not the short story collection). When he and the other half of Blue Denim Press, his wife, the Publisher, did a presentation about Blue Denim Press and marketing books at a Canadian Authors Association Toronto branch meeting last fall, I approached them and mentioned a collection of short stories. They said send it in during January and February when they look at manuscripts. So I did – but only seven of my stories.

They were interested but needed more stories. So I was writing and rewriting stories right up to and beyond signing my contract with them (but that’s another story).  Something else I found out – the Publisher’s taste in fiction – she reads half a dozen mystery books a week – and my short stories are in that genre. Of course, it helps to write well and have something different about your manuscript. Mine isn’t called Beyond the Tripping Point for nothing. All 13 stories feature quirky characters and as I state in the PR to promote the book:

Murder, attempted murder, sexual abuse, kidnapping, missing persons, vengeance, revenge, suicide, gambling, explosions, vehicular mishaps, indignity to a dead body, even love occur. Like all life’s happenings, they affect the characters–women, men and children–in their journey through life–emotionally, sometimes damaging them, sometimes stalling them in limbo, but often forcing them to reach beyond the tripping point. And to get there, these quirky characters frequently do the absurd and the unthinkable, often with unexpected results. 

By the way, I thought of the title and the publisher loved it.

So, what can we learn from my experience besides the obvious that I did not follow convention?

  1. Network, network and network – a combination of social media and in-person works best.
  2. Network with specific targets and goals. I focused on the publishing industry – trade shows, conferences, writing organizations, and workshops. You will meet a variety of writers, publishers, agents, etc. You might just chat with them for a bit and exchange business cards. Follow up by email.You might also do more (see below).
  3. Join some of these writing organizations and attend their meetings and seminars.
  4. Talk to the people at the conferences, etc. (wallflower acting not allowed) – introduce yourself and what you write. Ask the publisher or literary agent who is the guest speaker/attending the conference, etc. if you could send a query letter/part of your manuscript. Most will say yes, but remember that doesn’t guarantee you they will publish you or represent you. It means they will read your submission (and often they will skip their guidelines and say “just email the manuscript”). Follow-up within a week or two and in your cover or query letter make sure you remind them where you met.
  5. Remember the above can be a two-way street when you network. Sometimes it includes what you can do for them. For example, with writing organizations they are always looking for volunteers. Volunteering with a writing organization can help you connect with more writers, publishers, etc. It is also a good way to learn the ins and outs of the writing business. And it looks good on your bio for future query letters, etc.
  6. Join a writing critique group – this will help you hone your writing.
  7. Social media includes: Facebook, a blog about your book, Twitter, Goodreads, Linked In.
  8. Don’t give up. My memoir is still trying to find a home. (Note: at this point Blue Denim Press publishes only fiction).

Good luck.

The book launch for Beyond the Tripping Point, presented by Blue Denim Press, will take place Sunday, November 4, 2 p.m. to 5 p.m. eastern standard time at The Rivoli in Toronto. You are invited if you can make it (well, if you are in say, Australia, maybe not). Guests are coming from northern Ontario and possibly Michigan in the USA. I am honoured and grateful to those who do come to my book launch. More details at http://www.bluedenimpress.com and click on “Toronto.”

For those too far away to attend, Beyond the Tripping Point is available at http://www.amazon.com. Just click on the book cover at the top of this post.

Cheers.

Sharon A. Crawford

 

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