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The Beyond gang head for Word on the Street Sunday

Dana Bowman PI from Beyond Faith and Beyond Blood

Dana Bowman PI from Beyond Faith and Beyond Blood

It’s official – Sharon A. Crawford and Dana Bowman will be at Word on the Street – the big annual book an magazine at Toronto’s Harbourfront Centre. Still up in the air is if Dana will be kept inside the covers of Beyond Blood or if Sharon will let her out. Sharon is set to appear at the Crime Writers of Canada booth from 2 p.m. to 3 p.m. in the company of four other crime authors. All will have copies of their books to sell, but also to talk about Crime Writers of Canada.

Dana will need a briefing if she is to do some of this. And Dana likes to follow her own ideas. She is a private investigator after all. But Sharon is a former journalist and she also like to stick her nose into things.

The other appearance is one author and one other volunteer for Sisters in Crime Toronto’s booth from 4 p.m. to 5 p.m. – perhaps more to Dana’s liking to appear here.

That will have to be sorted out on Sunday. For now, let’s talk a bit about Word on the Street, CWC and SinC Toronto.

Sharon here….

I’ve been going to Word on the Street almost since it started in 1990. The first few years the location was Queen Street West from Spadina to Bathurst St. – not a particularly long stretch. But it sure seemed like it if you wanted to go to a specific booth at one end and another one at the other end, particularly if you were on a time-line to get to a workshop or reading or signing in a particular tent. The booths lined up in the street on both sides, plus the crowds moving through, made it difficult. And the availability of washrooms was limited to coffee shops and restaurants with long lineups – unless you wanted to use the portable toilets.

Fast forward to September 2007 and WOTS was now being held at Queens Park – no not in the legislature building or other Ontario Government buildings, but in an actual park, a circular park with booths positioned all along the east and west walkways and at the front and bottom. You could cut across the park to get to bootha on the other side – or walk along the circular walkway. Some tents were in the actual park. The setting was very relaxed and yes, there were portable toilets but also washrooms in nearby Victoria College on the University of Toronto campus. The college also held their annual book sale the same day, so it was a big day for books – the print kind.

At the 2007 WOTS I did my first appearance in a tent talking about freelance writing – interviewing techniques and the like. I was also running a course (in my house no less) a couple of weeks after and this WOTS talk was a great opportunity to get participants for that. It was also a lot of fun as I called people up from the audience to be the interviewee while I played interviewer for role playing. And my son and his then girlfriend, dropped in to watch the proceedings.

In future WOTS at Queens Park, I appeared at the Crime Writers Canada booths to promote and sell the Beyond books. One year the CWC booth was facing the sidewalk instead of the street, so it attracted less people. The location had some personal history with me. The CWC booth faced the Ontario government building where i had my first job at age 18 and 19 when I was a secretary (in another life, of course).

This Sunday, September 24, WOTS is in its third year in its third location- Harboufront Centre on Queens Quay West on Toronto’s waterfront. I have mixed feelings about it. On the plus side you are on the waterfront and the events are outside and some indoors. Some areas seem a bit crowded and the first year I was there, the SinC booth was at the end side of a long group of tables of various organizations. To get to the SinC spot you had to go in at the other end. At that end one of the poetry societies held were readings. The poet stood on the table and performed his or her poetry.

We’ll see how it goes this year and what Dana does and says if she doesn’t stay between the book covers.

Beyond Faith won’t be there – it’s still at the printers. But the flyers for the book launch will be and so will copies of Beyond Blood and Beyond the Tripping Point.

Maybe I’ll see you there. Look for one or both of us – Dana’s photo is at the top and mine is below here.

Cheers.

Sharon A. Crawford

and

Dana Bowman

 

Sharon A. Crawford author of the Beyond books

 

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Crime (Writing) not dead in Canada

Sharon A. Crawford mugshot

The title might be an oxymoron, but to rephrase it – dead people populate crime fiction and non fiction, but the genre and all its books are popular and prolific in Canada. The annual Arthur Ellis Awards banquet held annually by Crime Writers of Canada proves that.

We packed them in last evening in the great hall of The Arts and Letters Club in downtown Toronto. We ate, drank, chatted, and then the awards were presented. Unlike the Oscars and the like awards presentation aren’t drawn out, boring, and exaggerated. A bookseller did the duties of handing envelopes and award statuettes, the CWC president spoke briefly at the beginning and then called each presenter in turn. The presenter read the authors shortlisted and then named the winner (and no Oscar wrong name fiasco). The winner, if present, came up on stage, did their thank you and then posed for a few seconds for a photo with their presenter.

The latter got a bit funny when the CWC member taking photographs – Rick Blechta won the  Lou Alin Award for Best Novella. But Cathy Ace, the CWC president stepped up to the camera and took the photo.

There was also some humour from all and the winners’ thank yous were interesting and diverse.

Donna Morrisey won for best novel. And no, I’m not going to list all the winners. You can check that out at the Crime Writers of Canada website.You will also see what the award statute looks like. But you won’t be able to make its hands and feet work. One of the winners showed us how at the banquet Can’t do that with an Oscar. I am also not putting a graphic of Arthur at the top for copyright reasons, so you have to contend with my mug. At least I was there.

And for avid crime readers – no matter where you live – you can receive a quarterly electronic copy of Cool Canadian Crime which lists their members newest books coming out. Just scroll down the page to “Books”. Warning, commercial – sort of here – my newest Beyond mystery Beyond Faith comes out this fall, so if I remember to send out the info in time, it should be listed in Cool Canadian Crime later this year.

And when you check out CWC home page, you get a selection of new books releases by members floating across the screen. Check out the bios for what we all do between the book covers. Murder and mayhem and much more.

And we can get away with crime (between the book covers).

Cheers.

Sharon A. Crawford

 

 

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Sharon writes M and M

I like to say I write “M and M.” And I don’t mean the candy – although I am a chocoholic. What I write is mystery and memoir. And because I’m one day late with this week’s posting  (too many deadlines, don’t ask), I want to take a look at the second M – memoir writing. Or in my case this month teaching memoir writing  – four weekly sessions at the Toronto Reference Library.

Before I go off on a memoir tangent, I want to mention that many authors, besides me, who started out writing and in some cases, publishing memoir books, also turned to fiction. For example, Catherine Gildner of the Too Close to the Falls memoir “series” – three books so far, also wrote the mystery Seduction. Ross Pennie,whose first published book was a memoir of his time as a young doctor in now writes the Dr. Zol Szabo medical mystery series. If you go to to the Crime Writers of Canada website and check the members biographies, you might find a few more who write M and M. And their quarterly e-publication Cool Canadian Crime (it’s free and available to all, not just CWC members) keeps mystery readers (and writers) up to date on members new books.

So back to that Memoir Writing Course and the connection here I am going to make. I also write another weekly blog on Tuesdays – which focuses on growing up an only child and the consequences over the years since. That gives me leeway for many topics, including writing memoir and teaching memoir. On this other blog, called Only Child Writes (what else would I call it?) for the Tuesdays this month I have been posting a snippet post and a link to it to read the rest. It is all writing and some of it can apply to fiction writing as memoir, although the truth according to the author, is written in fiction style.

Only Child on Research for your Memoir

“Have you found Grandpa’s farm?” my cousin Leona asked me when I called her just after arriving in Walkerton, Ontario.”

This is all part of my research for my family history on my mother’s side.

Read on. Can you see possibilities in what happened for some short fiction?

Cheers.

Sharon A. Crawford

Author of the Beyond mystery series. More info about  Beyond Blood here.

 

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Posted by on April 14, 2017 in Blogging, Writing

 

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Marketing your book – more ideas learned

The latest Beyond book in the series

The latest Beyond book in the series

Although my Beyond Blood novel is two years old (and yes, the next one is tentatively scheduled to appear just under a year from now), I am still doing PR for it and surprisingly, still for the previous Beyond Book – the short story collection, Beyond the Tripping Point.

I am doing new PR and also adding on to what I have previously done. For example, I have sold copies of my Beyond books at the Toronto Heliconian Club annual pre-Christmas sale of art, books and other creative things in past years. But just selling. This year I am one of the authors from the Literature group reading a short excerpt from our published books (from Beyond Blood for me). There are also music interludes from the Club’s Music Group. More information is in the Gigs and Blog Tours page and also at the Heliconian Club website.

Another new thing here with the Heliconian club is our Literature group held a Dinner and Salon November 8 and I read from one of the short stories – The Body in the Trunk -in Beyond the Tripping Point. And that book came out in fall 2012. But it was suggested a short story excerpt was preferable for that than from a novel, so I complied. Just picked out a funny one and got a lot of laughs and good feedback comments afterwards.

All this can help build future book sales.

I’m also compiling a list of Toronto and York Region libraries where I could do crime fiction presentations/readings and/or teach writing workshops and courses. I already have a very big in with the two library systems having done all of that in the past four (for the fiction books alone) to six years (for the workshops) in many library branches.This past June I started something else – or rather one of the library branches hired me to do – teach a four session (once a week) course on Memoir Writing. From that a librarian at another library branch approached me to do the same next spring and I agreed. So my list is going back to some places I’ve been, but ones I haven’t don so for a year or more and to get gigs for next spring and summer.

This is all for the first two books. Once the third Beyond book is ready with a signed contract, I’ll start doing the library pitch for that one. This time I may do a specific proposal for author readings/presentation – for a specific form which goes out to all the libraries.

Each of these workshops/courses/ presentations/readings presents an opportunity for my Beyond books.

I have also started approaching area writers organization where I have not appeared and snagged one with the Writers and Editors Network (WEN). It is a breakfast one but on a Saturday in April. I am not a morning person, but you can bet I’ll make that extra effort to get there on time.

Two more things, one I’ve learned from experience. If you live where winter can be iffy with weather that can be blizzards, mixed precipitation and the like, you don’t do in-person presentations, readings or teach courses. I have managed to be lucky with teaching workshops in March and even February and evena couple of readings in February. But there have been very iffy ones due to weather in late March. That was the case with the Crime Writers of Canada panel I was on at the Gerrard/Ashdale library the past March. It got put on hold when the weather forecast was mixed precipitation and that’s what we got. The librarian there didn’t want us to cancel but was prepared to wait until the morning of (the panel was in the evening), so I emailed the other four panelists that it might be cancelled. When the librarian phoned me the morning of, she convinced me to not cancel. So I had to phone the four other panelists. It was just rain in the early to late evening and we packed them in to a very lively interactive discussion. The librarian took photos and the close-up on is at the bottom of the home page of my website. The long shot of the audience is at the bottom of this blog post.

Those winter months are for planning, social media PR and writing, writing, writing,.

There is also one more thing I did and I recommend it to anyone trying to promote their books – whether trade published or self-published. Sign up for the free Build Book Buzz weekly newsletter and the much more Sandra Beckwith offers with that. Check out the website for more information. I can’t say enough on how much it has opened my eyes to marketing my books and it isn’t all social media but that is a part of it. There are free webinars offered and…well you can check it out for yourself. And a disclaimer: Sandra Beckwith hasn’t hired me to do publicity. I just like to pass along info about something good to help other authors.

So happy and prosperous book marketing..And oh yes, the usual – click on the Beyond Blood icon at the top and see where it leads you.

Cheers.

Sharon A. Crawford

Longshot of the Gerrard Ashdale library CWC presentation in March 2016

Longshot of the Gerrard Ashdale library CWC presentation in March 2016

 

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Word on the Street for Writers and Readers

The latest Beyond book in the series

The latest Beyond book in the series

The annual Word on the Street (WOTS) Festival is coming up this Sunday, September 25 in Toronto. WOTS has been running since 1990  when it first began on Queen St. West in Toronto, Ontario, Canada. Since then it has added locations such as Vancouver, British Columbia, Kitchener, Ontario, and Halifax, Nova Scotia. This year the date for all locations is no longer the same date, so Halifax and Saskatoon were last weekend, but Lethbridge, Alberta is this Saturday, September 24 and Toronto is this Sunday, September 25. WOTS has also changed the Toronto festival location twice – first to Queens Park by the Ontario Parliament buildings in downtown Toronto and then last year to the newly upgraded. renovated Toronto Harbourfront Centre in downtown Toronto and on Lake Ontario.

Although the original location reflects the festival title, I found it difficult to get around here. Yes, part of Queen St. was closed to traffic, with booths in the middle of the street, but you had to plan your stops ahead of time. Otherwise you could be near one end of the street and want to get to a booth or booths at the other ends.

With the Queens Park location, booths were set up in the circled walkway in the park so you could either follow along that or cut across the grass in between. You also had the green park atmosphere, better than a busy street. I liked this location and it was at this location I did a talk in one of the guest writer, writing information, publishing,  and the like tents. I believe the talk was about Interviewing techniques for journalists – I was still working as a freelance journalist then.

The Toronto Harbourfront Centre has been received with mixed reaction. I personally like it – there is the on-the-waterfront location which can be calming and most of the booths are in the same area, so easy enough to get to beyond the usual finding the booth itself by the number – something that was normal with any of the locations.

For the latter two locations, I have been able to sell copies of my Beyond books at the Crime Writers of Canada booth or in the case of Beyond the Tripping Point the year it was coming out – let potential readers know – it was pre-book launch and I didn’t have book copies so had flyers for the book launch. One of them I fashioned with two holes at the top with a string in between. I wore it so after my one hour at the CWB booth was finished, I walked around wearing the flyer.

When Beyond Blood came out in fall 2014, again WOTS was before the book launch, but I had a few pre-launch copies from my publisher (Blue Denim Press) with the instructions to sell to anyone not going to the book launch.

Which I did.

Last year I added an hour with my books at the Toronto Sisters in Crime booth and sold copies of both books. I had a sale price for purchase of both books together and plan to do something like that again this year and perhaps something extra. Not telling. You will have to come out to WOTS in Toronto to see what. But also to meet and talk to  well-known authors and hear them reading, information for writers to get published – often with panel discussions, books for sale, many smaller publishers, writing and editing organizations, plus public libraries, ESL, magazines – small and more wide-spread, book publishers, and of course, food.

For more information on WOTS see here and for the Toronto WOTS go here.

And to see where I’ll be when (at least at the booths), go to my Gigs and Blogs page.

Hope to see you there – well some of you.

As usual the Beyond Blood book icon at the top links to info about my books and my author profile.

Cheers.

Sharon

 

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Crime wave hits Gerrard Ashdale library March 24

Longshot of the Gerrard Ashdale library CWC presentation

Longshot of the Gerrard Ashdale library CWC presentation

At 6.30 p.m., March 24, 2016 an unusual crime wave hit the Gerrard Ashdale branch of the Toronto Public Library. Downstairs, the dead body outline was “drawn” with masking tape. Upstairs, “crime” was in progress – at least between the book covers, and expanding to the audience facing the five crime writers in the front.

For the next hour and a half, true crime writers Mark Eddy and Nate Hendley and crime fiction authors Lisa de Nikolits, Steve Shrott and Sharon A. Crawford (also moderating to keep the crime enthusiasts on track) discussed various aspects of crime writing and reading – from authors’ and readers’ view points.

Besides the why we write what we do (Lisa and I have social justice as our reasons and Mark Eddy, author of The Recent History of Terrorism in Canada 1963 -2013, wrote that book because Canadian literature didn’t have this history published). We also discussed where we get our ideas. For example, many of mine come from real life incidents such as a harrowing drive up Highway 11 to cottage country with a friend when her car brakes stopped working. I take the incident and fictionalize the characters and plot.

But one of the most interesting discussions was in answer to the question:

What is your take on novel or true crime endings, i.e., should you leave the reader hanging or have a resolution that ties up the book’s contents?

Some wanted a full resolution, but some were okay with a resolution for the main plot, but some of the issues with the characters could be left hanging, especially for series novels. Nate Hendley, who (among other true crime books) wrote Steven Truscott; Decades of Injustice about Steven Truscott (who was wrongfully convicted of murder and rape at age 14,in 1959), was pleased that he could put in his book that in 2007 the Ontario Court of Appeal declared Truscott acquitted of the rape and murder of Lynn Harper. That declaration was the result of Truscott himself filing an application for this in 2001. Justice moves slow. In fiction, that can happen faster.

The five of us authors in the hot seats also discussed unusual ways we promote our books. For example, Nate Hendley had copies of his Truscott book at a presentation of a play about Truscott in southwestern Ontario. I dress up as my main Beyond Blood character, Dana Bowman and do short skits where Dana disses me. See my website for where Dana will next appear.

Meantime, here’s another photo of the CWC gang up close at Gerrard Ashdale. Both photos were taken by the library branch’s head librarian, Gail Ferguson.

Cheers.

Sharon A. Crawford

The CWC gang up close - Sharon, Steve Shrott, Nate Hendley, Lisa deNikolits, Mark Eddy

CWC gang up close – Sharon, Steve Shrott, Nate Hendley ,Lisa de Nikolits, Mark Eddy

 

 

 

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Making your fiction characters sick

Sharon A. Crawford's latest in the Beyond series

Sharon A. Crawford’s latest in the Beyond series

I’ve talked before about giving your fiction characters tags such as jangling keys in their pocket or going silent when someone starts arguing with them. These tags show character traits and help the reader connect better with them. The first trait mentioned might occur when the character is impatient and the second opens a lot of things the author can show about the character. It might be as simple as the character hates arguing but he or she might be afraid to speak up when challenged. Both those bring up the question “Why?” in the reader’s mind. And give the author leeway to build his or her character.

Another trait that can be used is health issues – good or bad. Maybe you want your character to be an extreme fitness buff. Maybe he is passionate about playing golf. But the flip side of the coin can present even more interesting character tags – the character’s illness or an injury – the latter maybe occurring during the story. For example, the late Robert Parker in one of his Spencer novels had Spencer get shot in the chest and part of the novel dealt with his recovery and how it affected him both professionally and personally.

In my Beyond novel, Beyond Blood, I give Detective Sergeant Donald Fielding an affliction no one really wants – migraines. I know of where I write here because when I was in my early 30s (back in the grey ages, of course), I had migraines with almost the whole enchilada in symptoms. Didn’t have the aura but I did get sick to my stomach and of course the pain. And lots of treatments were tried and not all worked or were only temporary. Then there was the personal and professional repercussions. I had to postpone story interviews with subjects because I had a migraine, and one of the treatment options – blowing in a brown bag, supposedly to stop the pain (it didn’t work), was done around the kitchen table during a big party I held. My girlfriend who suggested that was coaching me and there were some onlookers around the table.

Which gave me lots of options for Fielding, I combined my personal experience with imagination for his migraine attack. Not a party, not a kitchen, but in the main character Dana Bowman’s bedroom. That’s all I’ll say about that scene except the cause of the migraine was the same as many of mine were – stress.

So you can use your personal health experience for one of your characters in your novel or short story. Just make sure it is worked into the plot and isn’t a tangent. And yes, Fielding’s migraine incident was part of the plot. Also, it could be a friend’s illness, but just make sure if the illness is yours or your friend’s that the character doesn’t turn into a copy of you or your friend. Use the illness as a character tag.

And next Thursday, March 24, I’ll be joining four other Crime Writers of Canada authors for a lively panel discussion and q and a about what and how we write. Here are the details:

Murder and Mayhem between the (book covers) at Gerrard/Ashdale library branch

March 24, 2016

Join five Crime Writers of Canada authors Sharon A. Crawford, Steve Shrott, Lisa de Nikolits (three mystery novelists) and Mark Eddy and Nate Hendley (both true crime authors) for a lively discussion about crime writing and their books. Sharon moderates this panel and the authors just might read a bit from their books. More information.

Location: Gerrard/Ashdale Toronto Public Library branch

1432 Gerrard St. E., Toronto

Time and Date: 6.30 p.m. to 8 p.m., Thursday, March 24, 2016

Maybe I’ll see some of you there.

Cheers.

Sharon

If you click on the book cover at the top, it will take you to one place where my Beyond books area available.

 

 

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