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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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Tales – good and bad – from the book promo trenches

Sharon A. Crawford channelling Dana Bowman from Beyond Blood

Sharon A. Crawford channelling Dana Bowman from Beyond Blood. Shane Joseph photo

Still promoting my Beyond books. But when you do this you also need to help other writers promote their books. It is only fair as we are all in this together.

And sometimes that can be fun as the photo at the left shows. Cut line explains it briefly but more on that shortly. First I need to mention the downside as other published authors may run into this, if not with this bookseller, but another one, or two.

Up to last week, my encounters with booksellers have been amicable and polite. All had said they would at least see about carrying my Beyond Blood in their store. One even opted to carry a copy of each Beyond book. A couple of others I have to follow up on but they are part of a big chain, which has been helpful at other branches, so we will see here.

Now the bad and the ugly. I have also been approaching independent bookstores, but the latest venture there has left a sour taste in my mouth. Last week I entered Ben McNally Books in downtown Toronto. I always like to check to see if they already have a copy of my book. Ben McCally Books has a weird book placement system. No books by category – no signs either at the top of the bookshelves. Mystery,science fiction are all placed in with all fiction – alphabetically by author. So be it if that is the way they want to do it – their prerogative.

I approached the owner, Ben McNally about carrying a copy of Beyond Blood. As always, I stated it is not self-published but is published by a small Canadian trade publisher and handed him my business card and now that I have more – a couple of bookmarks. He barely glanced at them and said, ” Sorry, no.” He looked about as sorry as a person arrested who shows no remorse for his crime.

Being a former journalist and naturally curious, I asked “Why?”

He said he didn’t want books by small trade publishers.

So, I three him my kicker:

“Indigo (big Canadian book chain) has them in their stores.”

Then, I turned and left the store.

And you know, there weren’t many other customers in the store. Which says something.

I went directly to the big downtown Indigo store and what a difference. Manager very interested in carrying my Beyond Blood in that Indigo store. Indigo Chapters online has carried both Beyond books from day 1 for each, including print copy and e-copy (Kobo). Also this downtown Indigo bookstore is very busy – lots of customers. Because of the positive response, I bought a book there to give as a gift to a friend.

What goes around comes around.

And that brings me to what goes with the photo at the top.

I have started doing brief skits featuring Dana Bowman, the main character in the Beyond stories. I give Dana instructions to talk about herself and to read a bit from Beyond Blood.

Dana being Dana doesn’t listen. She does talk about herself some – but connects it to talking about me, her author. Dana claims she is instrumental in writing the Beyond stories. Oh, to a certain extent. I’ve been told I’m channelling Dana. I don’t mind her talking about writing and some of my quirks – if related to writing, but she can leave my plants out of it.

And when I say to read, she needs to read from Beyond Blood. And that hair in the photo above, taken by the editor at my publishers at their fall book launch, November 21? Dana has short “boy style hair.” Now she has decided to grow it somewhat. Really?

But the skit went over well at Blue Denim Press’s book launch. I was happy to bring along a few friends and to pre-promote the book launch and the authors launching their books, Shane Joseph and Chris Canniff, including reviewing their books in the two previous posts on this blog. The launch also had a Flamenco dancer and her husband providing the music on his guitar.

The funny thing here is Michael, the husband, used to come to my East End Writers’ Group when he and Lesley lived in my area. So did Shane when he lived in Toronto. And I knew Chrit from Canadian Authors Association Toronto Branch.

See, we writers are all connected, so we need to help each other.

Certain booksellers need to learn that too. Then they might get more business.

Dana Bowman will be making one more appearance before Christmas on Dec.4 and Sharon A. Crawford will have her Beyond books for sale at the Toronto Heliconian Club Art and Gift sale, Saturday, November 28. See my Gigs and Blogs page for more info.

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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