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Writing from Real Life

Rosemary McCracken author of the Pat Tierney mystery novels

Rosemary McCracken author of the Pat Tierney mystery novels

Today, I have a guest blogger – Rosemary McCracken, a friend and writing colleague who has often been part of the same panel on crime writing as me. Rosemary’s third novel, Raven Lake, in her Pat Tierney mystery series is out now in June and… well I’ll let Rosemary tell you all about it and her writing. The e-book launch is on Facebook this Sunday from 4 p.m. to 7 p.m. Click here to reach the party site.and the in-person book launch is June 25, 2 p.m. to 4 p.m. at Sleuth of Baker Street bookstore in Toronto. Over to you,  now Rosemary…

Thank you, Sharon, for inviting me here today!

I thought I’d talk about a subject that’s dear to my heart—writing from real life. All writers “borrow” from the people they know and situations they’ve been in when they create their fiction. Some to a greater extent than others. Two students in my How to Develop Your Novel course at Toronto’s George Brown College are working on novels based on their own lives. It’s not as easy a job as it might seem.

Writers who turn real-life events into fiction face the same challenges that writers have with any novel. They need to create believable characters and riveting plots. But knowing the real-life counterparts and the outcome of their adventures can often curb a writer’s ability to let the characters get on with their fictional lives.

My advice to writers who base their stories on real people and events is not to incorporate every detail of the real story into the work of fiction. “Use your imagination,” I tell them, “and don’t feel you have to stick to the facts. You’re writing fiction.”

They will need to expand the scope of the real-life story. In fiction, plot is the order of events in a story that gradually builds tension. The plot needs to develop with all its requisite plot points—which may take characters far afield from the people they are based on. Writers shouldn’t be afraid to impose the cause-and-effect order of plot on the story they are telling. It will build conflict and tension, and make the story more unified and enjoyable for readers.

Of course, names will have to be changed to protect the privacy of people the writer knows. The writer should go a step further and change characters’ initials as well, so that Mark Manners doesn’t become Mike Madison. The character’s physical appearance, the details of his childhood and his job will also need to be altered.

With my background as a newspaper journalist, I enjoy developing fiction from real-life stories that have been in the news—situations or events that happened to other people. And, yes, a story that was in the news a few summers ago is part of my new Pat Tierney mystery novel, Raven Lake.

The news coverage described the plight of vacationers who had turned to rental websites to find vacation homes to rent for their holidays. They arrived at their vacation destinations in Ontario lake country only to find that they’d been duped by con artists. The cottages were actually full-time residences and not for rent at all. They lost their deposits, some lost their full payments, and they had nowhere to spend their holidays. My heart went out to these people who had driven for hours thinking that they were about to spend a relaxing week or two at a sylvan lake. I also felt sorry for the residents of the targeted homes who had would-be renters turning up on their doorsteps. Some of them were afraid that these strangers might take their frustrations out on them.

A perfect crime for a mystery set in cottage country. It helped that I didn’t know any of the real people involved so I was free to create my own characters and outcomes.

Rosemary McCracken

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Bio:

Rosemary McCracken has worked on newspapers across Canada as a reporter, arts reviewer, editorial writer and editor. She is now a Toronto-based fiction writer and freelance journalist. Her first Pat Tierney mystery, Safe Harbor, was shortlisted for Britain’s Crime Writers’ Association’s Debut Dagger in 2010 and published by Imajin Books in 2012. It was followed by Black Water in 2013. “The Sweetheart Scamster,” a Pat Tierney mystery in the anthology Thirteen, was a finalist for a Derringer Award in 2014. Rosemary’s third Pat Tierney mystery, Raven Lake, has just been released. It is available at myBook.to/RavenLakeTierney.

Follow Rosemary on her blog, Moving Target at http://rosemarymccracken.wordpress.com, on Facebook at www.facebook.com/rosemarymccracken and on Twitter @RCMcCracken. Visit Rosemary’s website at http://www.rosemarymccracken.com/.

Links to Rosemary’s books and short stories

Safe Harbor: myBook.to/SafeHarborTierney

Black Water: myBook.to/BlackWaterTierney

Raven Lake: myBook.to/RavenLakeTierney

Thirteen: http://amzn.to/18oY8mF

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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 http://www.natehendley.com/ And check out his crime blog at http://crimestory.wordpress.com/

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 http://www.rosemarymccracken.com/Home_Page.php for more book information and her Moving Target blog at http://www.rosemarymccracken.com/Home_Page.php. Rosemary and I did blog tours and my blog post there is at http://rosemarymccracken.wordpress.com/2013/11/15/interview-with-author-sharon-a-crawford/

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 http://www.amazon.com/Dead-Wrong-Klaus-Jakelski-ebook/dp/B00N32O9Z4

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 www.bluedenimpress.com.

The book at the top of this blog post links to amazon.com and for those of us with Kobo’s, here is that link for the e-pub version. http://store.kobobooks.com/en-CA/ebook/beyond-blood-1 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.

 

Cheers.

Sharon A. Crawford

 

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Guest blogger interviews her protagonist

Rosemary McCracken author of Safe Harbor and Black Water mystery novels

Rosemary McCracken author of Safe Harbor and Black Water mystery novels

Rosemary McCracken has written two mystery novels (so far) – Safe Harbor and Black Water – featuring financial advisor Pat Tierney. Please welcome guest blogger Rosemary McCracken as she interviews this financial expert whose life is anything but usually dull.

Pat, how do you feel about being the main character of a book?

When you decided to make me the central character of Safe Harbor, the first book in her mystery series, I was puzzled. I’m just an ordinary, forty something woman. Widow, mother of two girls, business woman.Nothing special. But you thought people would be interested in me and my adventures.

And, to my amazement, they were. “I can’t wait for the next Pat Tierney installment,” one reader posted on Amazon. “I look forward to seeing what trouble Pat Tierney gets herself into next,” another reader said.

So I’m back—this time in Black Water.

 

Why did you become a financial advisor?

My late husband, Michael, was a financial advisor with a large investment firm, and his enthusiasm for his work was contagious. I took courses, got my accreditation and then joined Michael at the branch he ran.

I love helping my clients get their financial houses in order. It’s important work and I take it very seriously.

 

How did you get yourself involved in a murder investigation—again?

When it comes to my family, I’m a big softie. When Black Water opened, my relationship with my eldest child, Tracy, was stretched to the limits. I had to set it right. So when she asked me to help locate her sweetheart, Jamie, I had no choice in the matter. I headed out to cottage country north of Toronto where an elderly man had been killed in a suspicious fire. And Jamie was the prime suspect.

 

Did the events ofBlack Watermake youa better person?


Definitely. I’ve learned to get to know people before I judge them. I wasn’t at all happy when Tracy introduced me to Jamie—because Jamie is a woman. You see, I had no inkling of my daughter’s sexual orientation. I’d always considered myself a champion of diversity—racial, religious and sexual. But it’s easy to be open-minded until your own kid comes out.

In short, I botched it big time. After I met Jamie, I threw myself into my work, hoping Tracy would get over her infatuation. I made no effort to get to know Jamie.

But when Tracy asked me to help when Jamie went missing, I realized how important Jamie was to her. She wasn’t just friend. Jamie was the special person in my daughter’s life. Her partner.

I also realized that Tracy had been keeping things from me for a long time. I love my daughters and I don’t want them to keep secrets from me. I decided that I’d get to know Jamie, and if she was the one for Tracy, I’d stand by her choice.

The more I learned about Jamie, the more I liked her. She’s an exceptional young lawyer who secured a landmark judgment on behalf of an elderly woman who lost her savings when a financial advisor put them into high-risk investments. Jamie has talent, energy and integrity. And best of all, she’s devoted to Tracy.

 

What was the most challenging situation you found yourself in in Black Water?

That’s a difficult question to answer. I met up with some truly dreadful people in this book, and a couple of times I really thought it was game over for me. But I’d have to say the biggest challenge was driving a huge snowmobile named Molly across a series of frozen lakes in cottage country. I’d never operated a snowmobile before, and the lakes weren’t as frozen as they should have been. At one point, I had to resort to snowmobile skipping. Have you ever heard of snowmobile skipping? It’s driving a snowmobile across a stretch of open water by approaching it at a very high speed. It’s pretty scary. If you don’t make it over that icy water, you sink like a stone.

 

What’s your greatest failing?

I’m a worrier. I worry about everything, which makes bad situations twice as bad. I worry about them beforehand, and then I have to live through them.

 

Can we look forward to reading about you again?

I know that you have  two more books mapped out for me. Looks like I’ll be getting into trouble for some time to come.

Book cover for Black Water

Book cover for Black Water

BLACK WATER: synopsis 

When Pat Tierney’s daughter, Tracy, asks her to help find Tracy’s partner, Jamie Collins, their mother-daughter relationship is stretched to the limits. Pat heads out to cottage country where an elderly man, who killed Jamie’s sister in an impaired driving accident years ago, has perished in a suspicious fire. Unfortunately, Jamie is the prime suspect.

Pat takes charge at the new branch her investment firm has opened in the seemingly idyllic community where Jamie grew up, and her search for Tracy’s missing sweetheart takes her through a maze of fraud, drugs, bikers and murder.

Once again, Pat proves that her family can always count on her.

 Rosemary McCracken has worked on newspapers across Canada as a reporter, arts reviewer, editorial writer and editor. She is now a Toronto-based fiction writer and freelance journalist. Her first mystery novel, Safe Harbor, was shortlisted for Britain’s Crime Writers’ Association’s Debut Dagger in 2010 and published by Imajin Books in 2012. You can buy it here.

Black Water, the second book in the Pat Tierney series, has just been released at the special introductory price of .99! You can buy it here.

Visit Rosemary’s website at http://www.rosemarymccracken.com/.

Follow Rosemary on http://rosemarymccracken.wordpress.com/. And on Twitter at https://twitter.com/RCMcCracken and on Facebook at https://www.facebook.com/rosemarymccracken?ref=tn_tnmn

 

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