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Don’t forget the libraries and librarians

Crime Writers of Canada authors at the OLA convention

We authors sometimes either forget or minimize one big resource. We are too busy doing research online, selling our books through Amazon and the like, connecting through Twitter and Facebook. This resource has been around a long time before anything online. I’m talking about the public library.

And if you think libraries are all about print books in the actual library, think again. With a library card (free), you can borrow e-books online, put  books on hold online, renew books online and yes, do research  online through your library’s connection with data bases. Some libraries even have online access to big city newspapers. And yes, you can still physically visit your libraries. I do and when I’m there I see teenagers and others using either the library’s computers or working away on their laptops. Yes libraries are connected to the Internet and it is less messy than sitting in a cafe with a laptop and risk spilling your coffee on the keyboard. It is also quieter.

There are also art exhibits, programs and presentations on business to health and wellness, to gardening to learning computer and online functions to writers’ groups to talks by book authors and workshops and courses- all for free.

And of course there are those books. I go to my library to pick up books (some found and put on hold online, some just from browsing in the library). And I run the East End Writers’ Group, a writing critique and guess where we meet – the library – my local big branch S. Walter Stewart in Toronto. EEWG does this in partnership with the library branch and it was one of the librarians there who asked us to meet there.

Don’t forget these librarians. They are very helpful when you are stuck with what book to get and for any other research (despite all your online work in those areas). And they are instrumental in the writing workshops and courses I teach at library branches. Although free to participants, I do get paid for teaching them

Some of us published authors from Crime Writers of Canada didn’t forget the importance of librarians last Friday. During the annual Ontario Library Association conference, CWC again had 23 of its recently book-published authors (or a book coming out in a few months) authors taking our turn in front of the mic doing  our own two-minute pitch for our books. These pitches were as diversified as the authors. My favourite was one by Dr. (as in medical) Melissa Yi who put a plastic garbage bag over  her head for a few seconds to illustrate how the bodies of some murdered Indigenous peoples are left by their killers. i channelled my main Beyond Faith book character, Dana Bowman. And the pitches weren’t  limited to books published by trade publishers. Libraries now carry self-published books as well. In the photo of us at the top, “Dana” is to the right of the CWC poster and Melissa is at the right end of this row.

My Beyond books aren’t self-published (Blue Denim Press is my publisher), but I’m happy to say that the first two,  Beyond the Tripping Point and Beyond Blood are in some of the Toronto Public library branches. And the librarian, Janet Nanos, who got EEWG into the S. Walter Stewart library branch informed me that she had put in for four copies of Beyond Faith for the TPL – just when the OLA conference was starting – just before I did my pitch.

The first two Beyond books are also n libraries in Kitchener/Waterloo, Ontario,  York Region (just north of Toronto) and in Prince Edward County in Eastern Ontario.

Those are the ones I know of.

It doesn’t stop there.

As authors with books in libraries, you can receive annual royalties for your books being there and number of times being borrowed. Another organization takes care of this (in Canada it is The Public Lending Rights Program administered by the Canada Council). You just have to enter your books on their form, updating it when you publish another book. This Canadian program is open for this listing-registration from mid February to May each year..

So, I have many reasons to be grateful for the public libraries and the librarians. I’ve been a big fan and library user since I was 12 years and my grade 7 teacher led all her class on a walk to visit the then new S. Walter Stewart Library branch.

It isn’t coincidence that my main library branch is the same library – since I moved back to Toronto almost 20 years ago.

Don’t forget your library and the librarians – the writer’s and reader’s best friend. The library is where readers, writers and librarians can connect.

Cheers.

Sharon A. Crawford

 

 

 

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Looking at story endings

Click on the book cover to go to amazon.com

Click on the book cover to go to amazon.com

Whenever you write, whatever you write, never make the mistake of assuming the audience is any less intelligent than you are.

— Rod Serling

Last evening I had a discussion with members of the book club at the Albert Campbell Branch of the Toronto Public Library. One of the many interesting questions from one of these readers was about the ending to my short story “Porcelain Doll” from Beyond the Tripping Point. And the ensuing discussion got me thinking.

I’ve blogged about the beginning and middle of short stories and novels, but endings are just as important for the writer and especially the reader. You want to have your readers hanging onto every word of your story but you don’t want to disappoint them in the end. That doesn’t necessarily mean a main character shouldn’t die but…

Let’s look at endings. Without completely spoiling the ending of  “Porcelain Doll,” when the protagonist Sarah Holden is reunited with her father she has mixed feelings – relief, love – lots of heavy emotions – but when she sees him being led out in handcuffs and sees ”a glimmer of the old Daddy in his eyes,” she shudders. (Copyright 2012 Sharon A. Crawford Beyond the Tripping Point)

The book club member and I explored this ending where Sarah Holden has these mixed feelings about reconnecting with a father who for years she thought was dead because of her, a father who was a nasty piece of goods in that he was verbally abusive to her and especially to her mother. But he had one redeeming quality – he loved his daughter. He found it difficult to express his love so did the one thing he thought would please her – try to win a big porcelain doll through a poker game.

This ending works because it brings out the mixed feelings Sarah has for her father. If she completely forgave him and ignored the pain he caused her, particularly for deserting her and her mother which left her with feelings of guilt, it wouldn’t be realistic. His arrest is minutes after she is reunited with him so she has little time to digest all that happened and is happening. Perhaps if it was a few years after the reunion and Daddy and Sarah got to know each other…maybe.

What can we learn about endings?

1.      They must be logical and follow through with the plot and characters.

2.   That point doesn’t eliminate surprise endings but again the plot and characters must point towards what happens in the surprise. Killing off a bad character or even a superfluous one because the author can’t figure any other way to deal with him or her doesn’t work. Killing off a bad character in a “shoot-out” type of scene might work if the antagonist corners the protagonist and it is a “kill or die yourself” situation.

3.   Happy versus sad endings – both can work, but being a so-called “romantic” at heart (some of you will have a hard time believing that), I think often the sad ending could actually be turned into a better ending, even of hope – especially if the author is writing a series. For example, a steamy relationship that occurs in the novel or a blossoming relationship, is ended at the story’s finish. Why not leave it up in the air somewhat for readers and give them some hope and a hook to read the next book. Pamela Callow is good at that in her thriller mystery novels, Damaged and Indefensible. The protagonist has professional run-ins with a former lover, whom she still has feelings for, in both novels, but there is also a blossoming relationship with another character.

4.      No long drawn out endings. We don’t need a line-by-line account of the “steamy relationship” couples’ marriage or an injured protagonist’s recovery. Watch this with Epilogues. It can bore the reader. Just a few sentences or a few paragraphs where the fellow proposes and the woman just had to say “yes,” or “of course we got married six months later.”

5.      Balance – with plot and character – is the key word.

I discuss some of my characters in this Liquid Lunch interview part.

 http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=5xMhcTRANMY&feature=youtu.be

.Cheers.

Sharon A. Crawford

 

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