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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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Clearing the decks to write your fiction

Clearing the decks to write your fiction

This may be a case of do as I say, not what I do. But the past month and a half I have been inundated with unnecessary crap getting in the way of my fiction writing. A lot of it comes from what I refer to as “outside” – things like house repairs, computer problems, friends and others interrupting during my work time.. Then there are health issues and some things that I have something to do with happening.

Last Thursday Shane, the editor at my publisher’s (Blue Denim Press) came over for us to practice our authors’ skit for the Urban Folk Art Festival (Our skit went very well there and when Shane emails me some of the photos someone else took of us, I’ can post them). We also had a heart-to-heart talk about my third Beyond fiction book, which seems to be in a perpetual state of rewrite (see above paragraph for why). He is definitely interested in publishing it and is thinking of next fall (2017). We also discussed the book’s content and even a next book in the series. He also gave me a deadline.

This talk, particularly hope for publication and when, as well as a submission deadline has kick-started me into action. And so I am making changes in my life and some things will be no-nos during writing time, some things will go in the Pending file for at least a month, some things I just won’t do (yesterday I said “no” to something and it felt good); other things are getting the boot.

Am still fine-tuning the whole business as I go, but so far I am trying to do these:

  1. Specific time-frame to work on my fiction with flexibility for writing meetings and book promo events that come up. Like Shane is doing with his fiction writing, I am assigning two days a week for just that – rewriting my novel. And for flexibility, yesterday afternoon is flipped to this afternoon because of a writing group meeting yesterday. I did get some writing done on the novel yesterday morning.NOTE: I do write other things and have editing clients and teach writing. That is for other days and workshops sometimes evenings, but again for days, I try to be flexible. It is all writing and writing-related business
  2. Book PR is limited to one thing a weekday. Public readings and the like are on top of this.
  3. I set a timer for half an hour mornings to do business email .Personal email is for outside my business hours (except for my son) which are roughly 9.30 a.m. to 5.30 p.m.
  4. Make more of an effort to get started at 9.30 a.m.Sometimes difficult with chronic health issues and house repairs.
  5. Get more sleep at night. Can’ control the insomnia but have to make an effort to get to bed earlier.
  6. I’m letting my friends know what has been on my voice mail for ages but some don’t seem to get it, i.e., personal calls evenings and weekends only.
  7. This one I’ve been doing for some time and it’s outside of business hours too – don’t pick up the phone for possible telemarketers and if I get someone trying to sell me something I just yell out “Not interested” or if they ask for “Mr. or Mrs. Crawford” I reply – no one here by that name (true. I’m divorced) and you have the wrong number.” If I’m really angry I then yell “And get me off your bloody list.: Then I hang up.
  8. Try to keep the house maintenance/repairs out of my business hours and that one is hard when someone has to come to clear out your damn eavestroughs at least three times because of all the leaves falling and clogging it up.
  9. Keep getting back to utilities and the like for their screw-ups, problems, etc. to after my business hours if possible.
  10. The garden fall clean-up winter prep kept outside of business hours, although it is okay to do a bit at lunchtime, especially with Eastern Standard time returning this weekend.
  11. And this one – some of you might think I’m being mean here. But I’m putting on hold so-called friends who are unreliable and don’t show up (and don’t let me know that they can’t make it for dinners and the like we plan to meet up for – we all have things that crop up, but let me know before the meet-up that you can’t make it.

Hopefully ,I will now have my time to finish rewriting my novel. Up to now this week, I have been making some progress.  I know it is because I’m starting to get some control of my life – at least some of it. Now, if the computer problems and issues would stop, that would give me more time too.

How do you make time for your writing? Everyone’s circumstances are different. I am lucky in that I work mostly from my home office.

Cheers.

Sharon

I am taking part in the Toronto Heliconian Club Literature Section Salon (dinner and readings) next Tuesday afternoon. I am a member and will be reading an excerpt form a short story in Beyond the Tripping Point. More details in my Gigs and Blog Tours Page here.

Again, click on the Beyond Blood icon at the top to get to one place where print and e-copies are available.

And this, updating events on my website and the Gigs and Blogs Page (and the other social media links) constitute my book PR for today.

 

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Dana Bowman and the Beyond books return to the promo circuit

Sharon A. Crawford's latest in the Beyond series

Sharon A. Crawford’s latest in the Beyond series

As hinted at in last week’s post, with summer holiday months now officially over, September is the time to get thing rolling with writing and book promo. And so I am.

Without going into the whole PR she-bang (you can read some of that on the Gigs and BlogTours Page  connected to this blog – link is below. More gigs to be added shortly.) I have some info on the gig there) and the Book page (Beyond Blood in particular) on my website.

Instead, I’ll just talk a bit about published authors using unusual means to promote their books. Some piggy-back on plays or other public events connected to their book’s contents; others start anthologies to help showcase theirs and others stories – particularly newbie authors.Some do a lot of cross-publishing and promotion – for example, writing both short stories and novels and entering them in contests. If they win, place or show, that is something that can be used to promote their books. Others get involved in various literary and fund-raising events to read from their books or…

I do the latter, but with a twist. As I have mentioned in a few previous posts, I like to dress up as my main Beyond Blood character, PI Dana Bowman and do comedy skits – mainly where she disses me the author but in the process tells something about the books. Dana doesn’t read in her skit.

Dressing up as Dana can be challenging. We are roughly the same height, so I don’t need to wear elevator shoes or stoop and we are both skinny. But she doesn’t need glasses and I do. Her hair is short black and mine is shoulder-length brown and grey (depending on when I last had a hairdressing appointment). There is also the age-difference problem. Dana is 25 or so years younger than me. Fortunately I have a youngish face, so that helps.

I try to keep it simple – the biggest wardrobe accessories are a black wig and my prescription sunglasses – Dana does wear sunglasses, although not prescription. The sunglasses also hide any “crows feet on the side of my eyes – so that helps with the age difference. And touch wood, I still can move fast physically and have a lot of energy (or so I am told) most of the time. The rest of the wardrobe is just basics – jeans or denim capri pants and a pullover or T-shirt, running shoes, and a cap, which is Dana’s usual ensemble. Oh, I did buy a large purse bag at a yard sale and use that as Dana’s big bag which she totes around with her everywhere and which can contain her sketch pad, handcuffs, and a copy of Beyond Blood and Beyond the Tripping Point. Dana has her instructions to show the books to her audience while she talks.

And as mentioned in last week’s post, Dana is going to be doing something completely different in her next appearance. She will team up with the main character from the latest novel by author Shane Joseph for what we hope is a hilarious skit combing fiction with reality. Dana will have her work cut out. One of Shane’s past careers was as an actor and I am a newbie actor here (really, I’m a drama queen or should that be comedy queen?) and we are combining a literary novel character (Shane’s) with a genre novel character (mine). Now let’s hope Dana doesn’t fall flat on her face – unless that is in her script. At least where we are appearing (Mount Pleasant Public Library branch in Toronto, October 27), the room doesn’t have a stage and is carpeted.

That is all I’m saying about that for now. You can check out Shane Joseph here and our gig in the Gigs and Blog Tours page here.

And the usual. Click on the Beyond Blood book at the top to go to my Amazon profile and book copies.

Cheers.

Sharon

And here’s Dana….

Dana Bowman with bag cropped

 

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Social Media book promo snafus

Sharon A. Crawford's latest in the Beyond series

Sharon A. Crawford’s latest in the Beyond series

In the past few days promoting my Beyond Books and even connecting with other authors via social media has been (to put it politely) a challenge. Not all of it is my aptitude (or lack of) for maneuvering around and through computer technology.

A lot of it is some of these social media sites are constantly updating how they work. You can sign in one day and all is fine and the usual. Next day – oops.

So far (and I hope this is it), I’ve tried to visit an author friend’s Facebook launch. Well, I signed in on Facebook, went from my author page to her author page (I had previously “liked” her author page just after it went up). I arrived there but my photo at the top of my Facebook page, didn’t. So I had to introduce myself (that was what the author asked us all to do) by including my name with this blank box up in the left-hand corner. So, I decided instead of sticking my name in all posts and explaining the no picture problem continually I chose to just follow everyone else’s conversation at the book launch. I had congratulated the author on her new book in the first post. Later she emailed me that she did see I had attended.

Weird part is when I went to her regular Facebook account page, my picture came with me. Go figure.

Then, by accident while using a library branch’s computer I discovered that something was wrong with one part of connecting to my new  website. If I typed in the actual URL I got there but only the page links side was “on” The content for Home had an “oops  this site doesn’t seem to be here” sign. Being an avid clicker, I clicked on the links list section and voila – my Home page (and the other pages when I checked) appeared. But links to all the other social media and other Internet connections with my name in it showed up in my Google search – as did some of my photos on Google’s images.

I emailed my son the computer tech. He checked and the Search Engine connection was turned off. He not only turned it on, but after I gave him a list (at his request) of all the wrong links on Google, Bing and Yahoo, he managed to delete them or whatever he had to do. Next day when I typed in my name, my new website linked appeared at the top of the Google list.

There are more, but I think you get the picture. No wonder some authors complain about the time social media takes. It’s all the time wasted mucking around with the computer technology.

Also I have updated my gigs in some places. In the next one Dana Bowman my main Beyond Blood character  will be staying between the book covers as it is a panel of mystery fiction authors – Rosemary McCracken, Madeleine Harris-Callway and me (I’m also moderating) being held by my East End Writers’ Group June 29 at S. Walter Stewart library branch in Toronto, Canada. More details in the Gigs and blog tours page here and on my regular website here.

To link to my amazon author page click on the book at the top of this post.

Cheers.

Sharon

 

 

 

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Beyond book character taking over my life?

Sharon A. Crawford channelling Dana Bowman from Beyond Blood

Dana Bowman, the main character in my Beyond mystery series is taking over my life – both professional and maybe some personal. Considering all the bad things that have been happening in my personal life lately (and no ramble on that here), maybe that’s a good thing.

It all started back at the book launch of Beyond Blood October 19, 2014. The editor at my publisher’s, Shane, suggested that the other mystery author, Klaus Jakelski, launching a mystery novel Dead Wrong and I do a brief skit. He also gave the criteria – we would be our main characters and the skit would be a mock-up of a scene in his novel. Klaus’ character would be waiting to meet a broadcaster and instead gets Dana Bowman, PI, but friend of his book’s broadcast character. Shane had to talk Klaus into doing this, but once Klaus agreed, he came up with a good short script.

The short skit went off okay, although I kept sneaking looks at the script, hidden in one of Dana’s props – her large sketchpad.

But it gave me courage to do future skits. This time as it was only me then, I did a 10-minute improv – no actual script, just a list of what I wanted to cover as Dana dissed her author (me). And lots of practice plus filling my mind with the skit in the hours before showtime. It went over well here at my East End Writer’s Group 15th anniversary presentation. One comment afterwards was it was great, like the character just jumping out of the book (this is a guy very critical of others’ writing). And another author who has acting experience said it was good, but she suggested not having the character do any actual reading from the book as it lowered the energy level.

Fair enough. I’ve done variations of the skit twice since then and seemed to actually fool one person in the audience. When I returned into the room, dressed back as Sharon, he commented “Oh, you’re back.” I know I wear a black wig, cap and sunglasses, but… you can check out Dana’s photo at the top and see what you think. The next skit was at a Syrian Refugee fundraiser in early December. I was overtired then and didn’t think Dana was up to her usual. But one person in the audience thought it was great.

Have I found a new calling in my old age? One that combines as book promo? I’m scheduled to do a 10-minute skit May 28 at the Toronto Heliconian club during Toronto’s big annual Doors Open event. And for the rest of the afternoon I’m there volunteering, I’ll be dressed up as Dana. A couple more Dana appearances are in the works, one with another person who has acting experience.

Methinks I need a bit of training in improv. Off to Bad Dog Theatre mini-workshop at least, next month.

Dana is also inhibiting my mind with novel plots, etc. But that’s another story. Check out the Gigs and Blurbs page connected with this blog and my website  There will be a new  better-designed website (same address) hopefully the end of this month/early April. My son, the computer whiz and I are working on it.

Cheers.

Sharon A. Crawford

Sharon A. Crawford's latest in the Beyond series

Sharon A. Crawford’s latest in the Beyond series. Click on book cover to see where book is available.

 

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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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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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