Tag Archives: book promo

Marketing from both sides of the publishing fence

Sharon A. Crawford's latest in the Beyond series

Sharon A. Crawford’s latest in the Beyond series

This evening Shane Joseph, the editor at my publisher’s (Blue Denim Press) and I are doing a presentation on marketing your fiction book. Two points of view – author and publisher – will be covered at the Beaches Branch of the Toronto public library system.

For those who can’t make it for obvious reasons – you don’t live anywhere near Toronto, Ontario Canada, I’m not exactly going to give a rundown of our content in this post. But, there are a few Marketing Your Fiction points I will mention.

Marketing your book – whether self-published or published by a trade publisher is hard work. You start way before your book is being published and you continue long after. It is a constant learning experience and I have found that learning how others market their books – whether through social media or through workshops or networking – can only help. And not just you and your book. For example, if you attend another author’s book launch, you can meet many new (to you) authors and do what authors like to do most (beside sell book copies) when in the same room – talk about writing and all that goes with it.

Author readings and presentations at cafes, pubs and libraries are another good way to see what is going on with other authors and their books and where you can fit in. Joining a writing organization that focuses on your writing genre is also helpful. For example Romance Writers and Crime Writers of Canada. Often joint presentations can be enlightening as you can again learn from each other.

And it’s not just other authors you can learn from. Don’t forget the publishers. Even if you go the self-publishing route, remember that publishers know what is going on out there in the publishing world and can provide information from their viewpoint.

Another trick I have learned is to attend talks, panels and the like where a publisher and/or a literary agent talk. Not just for their knowledge, but after the talk, you can go up to them, introduce yourself, make a positive point about their talk, and give them a soft pitch about your book – basically to find out if you could email them a book query. Sometimes the publisher will say to skip just that and send a few chapters to them, not the general submission email. The point here is you are no longer part of the slush pile. You have established a connection with them.You can start your query or cover letter with something along the lines of you and the publisher (or agent) talked at such-and-such a time and the go into your query.

The blurb for Shane’s and my presentation this evening reads as:

Marketing Your Fiction Book

Thursday, March 26, 2015

7:00 p.m. – 8:00 p.m.

Beaches Branch Toronto Public Library (Program Room)

2161 Queen Street East, Toronto

Join Sharon A. Crawford, author of the Beyond mystery series, and Shane Joseph from Blue Denim Press, for a lively presentation about marketing your fiction book. Sharon will discuss how the synchronicity of series characters and plot affects book marketing, while Shane will outline recent publishing innovations. No admission charge.

Maybe I’ll see some of you there.


Sharon A. Crawford

Sharon A. Crawford is the author of the Beyond book series. More info at and including a link to a radio interview at Online TV interview from Liquid Lunch is at

Beyond Blood Book cover at the top of this post links to my Amazon author profile.


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When your fiction characters get inside your head

Sharon A. Crawford's latest in the Beyond series

Sharon A. Crawford’s latest in the Beyond series

Are your fiction characters trying to take over your mind? Do you seem to be losing yourself in their quirks and even their talk?

Two of the main characters from my Beyond mystery fiction series (Beyond the Tripping Point, 2012 and Beyond Blood, 2014, Blue Denim Press for both) are doing this. Dana Bowman, the PI mom of six to seven-year old-David (age depending on which book) and the stuttering Detective Sergeant Donald Fielding.

Sandra Kryzakos in her Liquid Lunch interview with me says I’m channeling my characters. She bases this on how I talk about them and how I read excerpts from the books. And to add more fuel to the channelling fire, when I told her about Detective Fielding, I started to stutter and said so.

“Now, she’s channeling,” she said. (Watch this interview on You Tube at

Not the first time something like this has happened. Others hearing me read say I don’t read like I’m just reading but I put myself into the characters, into their heads.

Now, are Dana and Fielding getting back at me? Just kidding? Actually I welcome my characters getting into my head. Besides giving me an excuse for if and when I stumble over words, my characters are speaking to me. They give me ideas for what to write in my third Beyond book. They keep me in touch with what is happening in their lives and remind me of what is impossible. They also remind me they are distinct characters and not me.

Although I wonder about the latter. Especially when I find myself sometimes using “Dana’s big bag” to cart groceries and other purchases. For Dana this bag is her purse. To my credit I use another smaller bag as my purse. But just calling the bag “Dana’s bag,” says something. However, I still can’t draw a straight line even with a ruler and Dana is also an artist, sketching the people she interviews and incorporating the interview context into the drawing. And she drives a car and the only driving I can do is to drive people up a wall. She is also not a gardener and I am. Then there is the 25 or so year age difference. (Note: I’m the older gal here).

And of course, I don’t have a fraternal twin brother – don’t have any siblings.

So, I’ll let Dana, Detective Sergeant Fielding and whomever else I write about “invade” my mind. They have stories to tell and I need to tell their story, not mine, in the Beyond books.

Now, if I could only sort out this dream business. Dana sometimes dreams about the future (you have to read Beyond Blood to see that). I’m hoping my horrendous, sometime scary dreams, are not premonitions of my future. If so, it could be a bleak future.

Dana? What do you think?



Sharon A. Crawford

Maybe I’ll see you at a future gig. I post my reading and presentation gigs on the Beyond Blood page of my website Keep checking back for updates.

Sharon A. Crawford is the author of the Beyond book series. More info at and including a link to a radio interview at

Beyond Blood Book cover at the top of this post links to my Amazon author profile.

And that Liquid Lunch interview link again is




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Researching the meds for the next Beyond book

Sharon A. Crawford's latest in the Beyond series

Sharon A. Crawford’s latest in the Beyond series

I am trying to do some research on concussions for the next novel in the Beyond mystery series. However, besides client work and PR for Beyond Blood (which are part of my usual writing work days), I have had my time stolen thanks to dealing with computer snafus, cable TV reception problems and shovelling snow.

As a former journalist I know that research must be thorough. I also know that you won’t use most of the information you collect. However, accuracy is important, including when you are writing fiction. You don’t want to come across as a sloppy writer or worse, include inaccurate facts.

One of my characters will suffer a concussion. I’m not saying which character – if a regular one or one just in this book. I’m also not saying what causes the concussion, although I’m beginning to think I should use the sports injury angle as most of the concussion literature today deals with concussions that are sports injuries.

My novels also take place in the late 1990s, so I have to watch I keep knowledge, treatment and research studies in that time period. So far I’ve contacted a retired family doctor turned health writer and she in turn asked for contacts from her colleagues on a medical writers’ forum. She then forwarded their suggested medical experts in this field to me.

I have also done some research online but have more to do here, thanks to another writer I know who sent me a link. And I have again borrowed the library book on concussions (albeit sports injuries) that I had out previously, but only got partway through reading and making notes before the book had to be returned after nine weeks. Let’s hope this time I make it through the book. Perhaps I should buy it.

Money, however, is tight, partly because of all the snafus I’m encountering (see first paragraph).

But, hey, I’m a former journalist and “persistence” is my middle name. Or the “S” isn’t just “Sharon;” It also stands for “stubborn.”

And that’s what I have to be to do thorough research for my new novel.

And yes I have started writing (and rewriting it) and revising the outline.

That’s fodder for another blog post.


Sharon A. Crawford

Author of the Beyond book series. See and for more info. Book at top of this post links to my Amazon author profile.


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Promoting your published novel with a twist – Part 3

Sharon A. Crawford's latest in the Beyond series

Sharon A. Crawford’s latest in the Beyond series

There I was giving my 1.50 minute pitch about Beyond Blood in front of 50 plus librarians. The scene was the Metro Convention Centre in downtown Toronto, Canada last Friday afternoon. The event was the Ontario Library Association’s annual conference. Twenty-two of us crime writers from Crime Writers of Canada were individually doing our version of crime speed dating/pitching.

It was interesting to see and hear the various pitches, especially if like me you were about two-thirds down in the presentation list. We huddled together behind and to the side of the small stage, waiting and watching and hoping.

One author used a reminder call from his wife as his pitch. Another one a glass of champagne to tally with something in her novel. A few got a little bogged down in their writing background. Some, like me, stuck to the book – its plot and characters. I began with “What happens when a young mother finds her personal and professional life colliding, especially if she is a PI? I’m Sharon A. Crawford and In Beyond Blood that is what happens.”

The idea was to interest these librarians from various Ontario library branches to order our books for their libraries. Although it could be a blur of 22 authors, the librarians did have loot bags with our book and author info. Mine was the book mark for Beyond Blood.

Afterwards I decided to tour around the exhibitors’ booths. Surprisingly there were no library branches with booths – just services that libraries could use –digital and otherwise. On a whim I started talking to a few of the exhibitors, asking them questions about what their business does and mentioning the pitch we crime writers were doing. And got a big surprise.

Some of these exhibitors are big crime and mystery readers, including one from Scott’s Directories who loads her e-reader with mystery fiction books. So, I did a pitch for Beyond Blood and handed out my business card.

A bit later, over a cup of tea, I chatted with another fiction crime writer, Madeleine Harris-Callway, author of Windigo Fire and one of the featured authors in the Mesdames of Mayhem Thirteen anthology Madeleine and I bemoaned the difficulty of getting book reviews. But that is a subject for another post.

All in a half-day’s book promo, but it had a twist on the usual for attending trade shows and conventions.

I’ll leave you with this link to get more tips on book promotion.



Sharon A. Crawford

Author of the Beyond book series. See and for more info. Book at top of post links to my amazon author profile.


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Taming Time to Write

Beyond Blood_Final EbookSometimes I would like to shoot the clock (figuratively speaking). Finding time to write (and I don’t mean writing for business purposes, including book promo), is something all authors have to deal with.

Of course, the clock is not to blame. The bottom line is there are too many things we have to deal with in our overly fast-paced world and squeezing in writing time is difficult. But we do have only 24 hours a day and it is up to us writers to sort out our time.

What is important to us and what isn’t?

Writing, obviously is one. But we can’t forget about the family, our health, the house problems, the computer problems and other problems that seem to land unwanted on our doorstep. So, for 2015 I ruthlessly pruned what I will do. I use a system of A’s, B’s, C’s and D’s which I found in a time management life balance book. It goes like this:

A –Have to do; want to do (e.g. writing).

B – Have to do; don’t want to do (e.g. dealing with house problems)

C – Don’t have to do; want to do (try new recipes each week)

D – Don’t have to do; don’t want to do (e.g. any dealings with the boarder I evicted last fall)
I also use three categories: delete (my favourite), delay, and do. So some of those items under B, in particular get put on hold. I am also trying to deal with one problem at a time.

For writing specifically, so far I have assigned Wednesday afternoons and Friday afternoons for writing the third book in my Beyond mystery fiction series. Once I get a better handle on some of my business administrative stuff, Wednesday mornings should also come open for other creative writing such as writing contest entries – which include personal essays as well as short stories. The other times in the day include doing client work (writing tutoring and teaching and editing), book promo and the like. Sometimes workshops and readings are set for “writing afternoons” – I honour those first and juggle the creative writing with “client time.”.

Weekends I try to leave for gardening (spring, summer, fall), family, friends, community events and the like, although I will do writing workshops, author readings and presentations and attend the odd writing conference that crop up on weekends.

During all time I keep my mind open for creative ideas for my stories and essays. Often when I am doing other stuff, the creative ideas pop in. Never ignore these –write them down, or enter on your tablet before you get back to whatever you were doing.

And the big time stealer – email? Unless I consider it urgent, I take from a few days to a week to reply. And when I do deal with email, I set the timer and when it rings I just finish the email I am currently writing.

Guess I use a combination of scheduling and being flexible. Whatever it takes to have time to be creative and just write.

Next week I have a guest blogger – Alex Laybourne, who is a prolific horror novel author with a number of books published. Alex will blog about how he writes. Stay tuned.


Sharon A. Crawford

For something completely different check out when I was interviewed about Beyond Blood and writing on radio station Northumberland 89.7 FM

All my TV interviews are posted on You Tube. Click on “Video” at the top right of this blog

Check out my website for more information about Beyond Blood and my writing workshops. Watch for updates.

The book cover at the top links to my author profile and my books.

E-copies are also available at my publisher’s website



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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 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 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 Beyond Blood is also available there to order online.



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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Book launch of Beyond Blood has two guest authors reading

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

Publicity can be terrible. But only if you don’t have any.

  • Jane Russell.

This just in.

Nate Hendley who writes true crime books and Rosemary McCracken who writes mystery novels are guest readers at my book launch October 19.

They will certainly add variety to the two of us from Blue Denim launching our books. Lots of murder and mayhem (in the books, not in the Paintbox Bistro, Toronto launch location). Let’s see:

Nate Hendley has written several books about the baddies such as the The Black Donnellys: The Outrageous Tale of Canada’s Deadliest Feud, American Gangsters: Then and Now, The Mafia: A Guide to an American Subculture and Crystal Death. His current book focuses on something different – a miscarriage of justice – Steven Truscott: Decades of Injustice (Five Rivers Publishing, 2012). Nate is also a Toronto, Ontario-based freelance journalist and the Ontario VP for Crime Writers of Canada. I have been helping him line up public readings for CWC authors in Ontario. Find out more about Nate and his books at And check out his crime blog at

Rosemary McCracken, another Crime Writers of Canada member writes a mystery series about financial planner Pat Tierney and if you think that sounds dull, think again. Pat seems to get herself embroiled in financial mayhem and murder, and usually some family member is involved somehow. So far the series books are: Safe Harbor (Imagin Books, 2012), and Black Water (Imagin Books, 2013). Pat Tierney also appeared in Rosemary’s short story “The Sweetheart Scamster” in the short story anthology Mesdames of Mayhem Thirteen (2013). Check out Rosemary’s website at for more book information and her Moving Target blog at Rosemary and I did blog tours and my blog post there is at

Nate, Rosemary and I have also made several appearances together and done readings with these CWC presentations. The three of us may be touring together later this year or early next year for more readings. Stay tuned.

And of course, the two of us with books being published by Blue Denim Press

Dead Wrong by Klaus Jakelski – a medical murder mystery. And yes, Klaus is a medical doctor with a family practice in Sudbury, Ontario, but his book takes place in Boston, Massachusetts and Toronto, Ontario. His book is available in e-copy at

And my book, Beyond Blood, with the infamous fraternal twins Dana Bowman and Bast Overture, a mystery taking place during eight days in August 1998 in fictitious Thurston, Ontario, just north of Toronto.

Meantime, yours truly is still frantically doing pre-book launch promo. Not going as fast as I had hoped. It doesn’t help that both my email/website server went down for a day during maintenance and yesterday my modem-router went off the ISP grid for a bit but only on the hard-wired connection on my desktop computer. The wireless was fine and my laptop was connected. Glitches fixed thanks to good techies at the other end(s). But it steals from your time.

I’m blaming that on why I haven’t updated my website page for Beyond Blood. Some of the updates are off-line but when I had the time to load it – that’s when the website server was off. More info will be up on my website www.samcraw on the Beyond Blood page in the next few days.

Check out the details on my book and my colleague Klaus Jakelski’s book at

The book at the top of this blog post links to and for those of us with Kobo’s, here is that link for the e-pub version. And when I (finally) get my amazon profile and web page updated I’ll give you the links to them.

Print versions of Beyond Blood and Dead Wrong are coming out soon.

Watch for Dana and Bast. They will be returning here in these blog posts soon. And I promise, Bast will not go missing this time, but somebody else might.



Sharon A. Crawford


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Beyond Blood my mystery novel debuts amid promo frenzy

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

Publishing is a business. Writing may be art, but publishing, when all is said and done, comes down to dollars.

  • Nicholas Sparks



My first mystery novel Beyond Blood is making its debut in the e-copies on and Kobo now – early. I am still frantically doing all the pre-book launch PR and wishing I had a clone or astral body to do some of the work.

Not that I mind – I love doing the PR but my two-week holiday earlier this month probably wasn’t a good idea time-wise. However, I did do some promo during my vacation– lining up possible reading gigs for Beyond Blood in southwestern Ontario and telling my cousins – “you’ll get an invite for the book launch once the details are finalized.”

Well, after all the other promo that comes before is done. And yes, I do have a marketing plan. Finding the time to do all that is on it for pre-book launch is the challenge. Too much else going on but I am trying to prioritize. Whatever can wait goes on hold on the back burner. That includes answering some email and even some client work. For the latter I am focusing on one editing client’s manuscript evaluation because the deadline is the end of next week.

But I am so happy that my fraternal twin characters – Dana Bowman and Bast Overture are back. Some of you may remember them from the four linked stories in Beyond the Tripping Point. Or from the series of Dana interviews on this blog a few months ago. Beyond Blood’s story is actually the prequel to the four linked stories.

Watch for Dana and Bast. They will be returning here in these blog posts soon.

Meantime, check out the book. The book at the top of this blog post links to and for those of us with Kobo’s, here is that link for the e-pub version. And when I (finally) get my amazon profile and web page updated I’ll give you the links to them.

Print version of Beyond Blood is coming out soon.



Sharon A. Crawford


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What Writers Can Learn from Authors’ Readings

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

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

I loved words. I love to sing them and speak them and even now, I must admit, I have fallen into the joy of writing them.

          Anne Rice

The emcee introduced me and I headed up to the podium with my book, Beyond the Tripping Point, opened the page to read, looked at the page. And the lighting was dismal – a dim way overhead light. I struggled to see what I was reading. Apparently I did okay – at least the audience heard me or so I was told.

We writers can learn a few things from attending readings by other authors or in my case from my own reading. Here I learned to always carry a printout in 14 pt. to read from in case the lights fail. To date, since then, the lights have been bright enough to read from the book.

A good writer does not necessarily make a good reader. How often have we attended a reading when the author seemed to be in a race against time (understandable as reading time limits can be as little as four minutes), the reading voice was so low we wished they used a mic or the reading was so wooden we dozed off. The latter may be combined with the author reading way too long.

Those are the negatives but they can teach authors how not to read in public.

On the positive side, I’ve learned how to do a book marketing summary, how to pick the interesting bits to read, but the most rewarding is when interaction occurs between the audience and the reader – when the audience starts asking questions about my stories’ plots and characters and when they talk about their stories.

Some of those questions have been a little disconcerting. For example, the driver trainer who asked about the car that lost its brakes in “No Breaks.” He wanted to know if it was a standard or automatic car. Duh. I hadn’t given it any thought. As the story was triggered by a ride to Ontario’s cottage country I had years ago with a friend, I just used the type of car she had – automatic. And yes, what my friend did – used the parking brakes – worked with an automatic car but even I know that there would be problems with a standard car.

But it was a wake-up call to make sure I do all my research even when the proof seems to be in the pudding.

A favourite with many audiences is how much of your stories come from real life and if you can run into trouble with that. I sometimes use a bit from life as incentive for stories and often will bend the “rules” a little. For example, in one story in Beyond the Tripping Point (and I’m not saying which story) I developed an unfriendly character loosely based on someone in my family (not a close relative) who upset me with comments about what should or shouldn’t go in my memoir. But the character wasn’t really her. You could say she inspired the one character. Ditto the nasty father in “Porcelain Doll” whose only connection to my late father was his penchant for being on time and working for the railway. My dad otherwise was entirely different – more gentle, and he certainly didn’t gamble or verbally abuse his wife and daughter. But many of my characters just show up in my head – like the fraternal twins Dana Bowman and Bast Overture – with a mixture of what I see in the world and what I would like to see. As I’ve told other writers – you do have to be careful what you put in, but also be aware that readers sometimes see themselves or people they know in your stories’ plots and characters even when they are not the character source.

And that’s a good thing because it shows you connect with your readers.

So, besides reading your own writing (published or unpublished) in public, why not go to author readings. You might not only enjoy yourself but learn something, too.

Next week I will be expanding my reading experience as I’m adapting my presentation for a grade 7 group at one of the Toronto Public Library branches. And I’m sure I’ll learn something from this younger audience. I will also be reading for adults and moderating a panel of a couple of crime novel authors. Here’s the info on the latter two.

Tuesday, May 14, 7 p.m. to 8.30 p.m.

Crime Writers of Canada Books ‘n’ Beveragesreading with nine other CWC authors at:

Turner Park Branch of the Hamilton Public Library, Hamilton, Ontario, Canada

Thursday, May 16, 7 p.m. to 9 p.m.

Crime & Mystery Writing Panel

Moderating a panel of mystery novelists on plot and characters especially when police enter the picture. Presented by the Canadian Authors Association Toronto Branch and featuring Crime Writers of Canada authors, Toronto, Ontario, Canada.


  • Brent Pilkey, author of the Rage novels who, as a police constable with Toronto Police Services, has an inside view of police procedure; and
  • Rick Blechta, whose novels aren’t exactly cozies — all have main characters involved in the music industry and when murder enters their lives, come into contact with the police.

More info

Check out more May readings, etc. at


Sharon A. Crawford


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Book Review of Unblock Writer’s Block by Paul Lima

Cover of Paul Lima's Unblock Writer's Block

Click on Cover of Paul Lima’s Unblock Writer’s Block for Paul’s blog and sale places

The desire to write grows with writing.

–          Desiderius Erasmus

In Unblock Writer’s Block: How to face it, deal with it and overcome it, Paul Lima not only debunks some writer’s block myths, but provides some creative exercises to get writers writing. He compares his former writer’s block to “walker’s block,” i.e., not exercising, his situation until his wife got a dog. He started walking daily and the story ideas began arriving – a good thing for a freelancer with 35 plus years of experience writing newspaper articles, corporate, and fiction, who  is the author of 12 books, including the best selling How to Write a Non-fiction book in 60 Days. Lima also writes prolifically and quickly to deadline.

If you are doing other things to avoid writing, Lima says you are procrastinating, not suffering from writer’s block and you need the equivalent of a dog – writing exercises – to get you going on the write track. Lima emphasizes when you write the draft, ditch the editor in your head and just write. He also gives the option of “cherry-picking” exercises to get the most die-hard blocked writer going – a good idea because of the large and varied selection. When reading Unblock Writer’s Block, I kept flipping files to create story ideas. Lima recommends starting with  how you are feeling because you have to have emotion in your writing to connect to your reader. He has exercises for unlocking emotions focusing on the individual and his past, followed by three chapters with activities on freefall writing, directed free-fall writing and clustering – the three parts Lima advises readers do.

Ensuing exercises deal with the actual craft of writing such as plot, characters and point of view in fiction. My favourite exercise is one that could help POV problems. Lima suggests readers write a letter of apology to someone wronged and then switch POV to the other person and have him or her write back and perhaps letters back and forth will follow.

Although Lima uses examples from other authors such as novelists Margaret Atwood and Alistair McLeod (the latter’s cheese story is funny), I would have liked to have seen more Paul Lima stories, although the one where Paul apologized to a telephone pole when he bumped into it (Note: apologizing for everything is a Canadian trait) is priceless. The other bits of humour interspersed add spark to the writing wisdom presented.

Unblock Writer’s Block fulfills Paul Lima’s intentions, i.e.

“Our goal throughout this book is simply to do some writing—to see that we have the ability to write over, around and through whatever may be blocking us. You may not have produced anything you want to continue writing about. You may not have written how you want to write. But that’s not the point. The point is to write no matter what, and to be open to where your work may (or may not) lead you.”

Unblock Writer’s Block is available in paperback and e-copy. To find out where and more about Paul Lima and his books, go to

For Sharon A. Crawford’s upcoming events with Beyond the Tripping Point, go to her Beyond the Tripping Point page– I continually update it.

Today (Thursday, March 28), from 2 p.m. to 3 p.m. I talk about where my characters come from and read from Beyond the Tripping Point at the Leaside Branch of the Toronto Public Library. (See the above BTTP link for more details.)


Sharon A. Crawford


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