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Clearing the decks to write your fiction

Clearing the decks to write your fiction

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Cheers.

Sharon

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

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

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

 

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Dana Bowman and George Walton collide this evening

Dana Bowman

Dana Bowman

This evening Dana Bowman from my Beyond Blood novel and George Walton from Shane Joseph’s novel In the Shadow of the Conquistador meet and collide. It may be a collision all right as Shane and I have still to do an in-person rehearsal together. We have done a script of sorts for a skit-line – back and forth by email – and I have been practicing on my own, which is difficult when the other person is not there.And Skype isn’t exactly the best way to practice. But Shane is coming here a few hours early for us to practice..

Meantime, Dana Bowman, as you can see from her photo at the top is getting into high gear to do her snarky bratty thing. And George Walton? He better be ready. Those two – one from a mystery novel and one from a literary novel are both eccentric and powerful characters.And neither better forget their lines – even if not exact. It has to be somewhat spontaneous.

And hopefully this rain and wind storm won’t interfere with people coming to see this Urban Folk Art Salon and also the other performers arriving. (And water better not get into my basement.) Below  are more details for those in the area who wish to attend.

Also part of this two-hour salon are folksinger Brian Gladstone, poet Merle Amodeo, Ariel Balevi, Isaak Bonk, Ann Marie Boudreau and Mary Mllne with host poet/violinist Tom Gannon Hamilton.

The location, time, etc. details are:

Location:

Mount Pleasant Library

599 Mount Pleasant Rd. (between Davisville Rd. and Eglinton Ave. E.)

Toronto, Ontario, Canada

Free.

Below are photos of Sharon and Shane. Click on the photos to link to our respective websigtes. Sorry no photos of George…yet

sharonacrawford authorShane Joseph.

 

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Connecting with your fiction characters

The latest Beyond book in the series

The latest Beyond book in the series

The other night I had a dream about one of my main Beyond characters – the other fraternal twin, Bast Overture. I was in my house waiting for him to arrive here – not just in my head, but physically. Of course, as in most dreams of this type, I woke up before Bast arrived.

I’m not sure why I even dreamed about this as my mind lately has been overcrowded with computer and house repair problems. The former is all this Windows update nonsense with the changes in how and its slow checking for the actual updates and even downloading and installing them. Enough said about that. Perhaps Bast was there to remind me to get back to rewriting the third Beyond book this week. I haven’t done anything in it this week so far – not just for computer issues to deal with but also client work and this latter is fine with me.

But the weird thing about the dream is Bast is not the Beyond character I identify with – but his fraternal twin, Dana Bowman. No, Dana is not based on me, but as some of you know she is the one I channel (or the other way around if Dana has her way). She is the one I dress up as and “become” in comedy skits. Not Bast. Bast would be a little difficult for me to do unless I grew a beard (red in colour, too) and stood on stilts. Bast is 6 feet 3 inches tall to my 5 feet 1 inch.

And next Thursday, October 27 I will be again doing a Dana skit – this time with another novelist – Shane Joseph. We have a scenario where Dana and Shane’s main character, George Walton, from his latest novel In the Shadow of the Conquistador. Our novels occur in the same time frame mostly – the late 1990s, but that’s where similarities may end. Shane’s novel is literary and mine is mystery genre. But our characters can be pain in the you-know-what. Dana is an opinionated private investigator who likes to stick her nose in other people’s business and George is a philandering world traveller. But they do have something in common, at least Dana thinks so…until she meets up with George.

If you want to see and hear what happens, if you live in the Toronto, Canada area, check it out. We are part of the monthly Urban Folk Art Salon October 27 at the Mount Pleasant Library.

Also part of this two-hour salon are folksinger Brian Gladstone, poet Merle Amodeo, Ariel Balevi, Isaak Bonk, Ann Marie Boudreau and Mary Mllne with host poet/violinist Tom Gannon Hamilton.

The location, time, etc. details are:

Location:

Mount Pleasant Library

599 Mount Pleasant Rd. (between Davisville Rd. and Eglinton Ave. E.)

Toronto, Ontario, Canada

More info: 416-393-7737

Time and Date: 6.00 p.m. to 8.00 p.m., Thursday, Oct. 27, 2016

Free.

Below are photos of Dana Bowman and Shane Joseph. Sorry, I don’t have one of George Walton.

And click on the Beyond Blood icon at the top for more info about the book.

Cheers.

Sharon

Dana Bowman

Dana Bowman

Shane Joseph

Shane Joseph

 

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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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Sharon A Crawford reviews Shane Joseph’s In the Shadow of the Conquistador

Shane Joseph head shot for book review posting 243887As promised, here is my review of novelist Shane Joseph’s latest book In the Shadow of the Conquistador. But first a little bit about Shane Joseph in his own words.

Shane Joseph is a graduate of the Humber School for Writers in Toronto, Canada. He began writing as a teenager living in Sri Lanka and has never stopped. Redemption in Paradise, his first novel, was published in 2004 and his first short story collection, Fringe Dwellers, in 2008. His novel, After the Flood, a dystopian epic set in the aftermath of global warming, was released in November 2009, and won the Canadian Christian Writers award for best Futuristic/Fantasy novel in 2010.His latest release is In the Shadow of the Conquistador, a novel set in Peru and Canada. His short stories and articles have appeared in several Canadian anthologies and in literary journals around the world. His blog at www.shanejoseph.com is widely syndicated.

His career stints include: stage and radio actor, pop musician, encyclopaedia salesman, lathe machine operator, airline executive, travel agency manager, vice president of a global financial services company, software services salesperson, publishing editor, project manager and management consultant.

Self-taught, with four degrees under his belt obtained through distance education, Shane is an avid traveller and has visited one country for every year of his life and lived in four of them. He fondly recalls incidents during his travels as real lessons he could never have learned in school: husky riding in Finland with no training, trekking the Inca Trail in Peru through an unending rainstorm, hitch-hiking in Australia without a map, escaping a wild elephant in Zambia, and being stranded without money in Denmark, are some of his memories.

After immigrating (twice), raising a family, building a career, and experiencing life’s many highs and lows, Shane has carved out a niche in Cobourg, Ontario with his wife Sarah, where he continues to work, write, and play in a rock band.

Shane Joseph, believes in the gift of second chances. He feels that he has lived many lives in just a single lifetime, always starting from scratch with only the lessons from the past to draw upon. His novels and stories reflect the redemptive power of acceptance and forgiveness.

Book Review

Shane Joseph’s latest novel, In the Shadow of the Conquistador. deals with people’s expectations when they are young, what they do to attain them, and coming to grips in middle age with the results. Joseph’s two main characters, long-time friends George Walton and Jeremy “Jimmy” Spence meet as school children living in Toronto’s east end. George is aggressive and Jimmy is withdrawn. However, the two become close friends, with Jimmy, like the novel’s title, living in George’s shadow. A third character, Denise Langevin, whom both men love but only one marries, keep the two men connected, sometimes in mind only, with several separations, sometimes due to job locations, sometimes due to their personal conflict. There is also a fourth “character” – the novel Conquistador, written over the years by George, which is inserted as a parallel to the main story. Conquistador is Spanish for conqueror and lady-killer, both of which apply to George’s modus operandi going through life. George’s novel tells the story of the Spanish conquering the Incas in Peru in the 1500s, particularly the Spanish leader, Francisco, who like George, is compelled to conquer – in his case – the Incas.

The novel begins with the two men, now middle-aged, meeting in Lima. Peru, at George’s request, after a 20-year separation. Ostensibly they are there to climb the Andes Mountain to the Machu Picchu, an historic site from the Incan reign before the Spanish conquest. As they hike the treacherous route with their guide Valdez, Jimmy’s and George’s past parades before them, taunting and terrorizing them. In Lima they meet two women, Ali and Bea, 15 years their junior. Ali is a spitting image of Denise and shy Bea has a large facial scar. The inevitable seems to be building up, but just when you are expecting it, Joseph adds a few twists.

Joseph intertwines this past with the present, each driving the novel forward. The reader learns that George is a womanizer, to extremes, and that trait cost him a possible political career, his career in academia and his wife, Denise. Denise turns to Jimmy, but he is a control freak and as neither man let her “do her own thing” she leaves them both and returns to her native Montreal where her mother is dying.

The difficult climb up the mountain, done in spurts over several days acts as a catalyst for George and Jimmy to sort out the consequences of their lives. As they interact with each other and the two women, both learn that you can’t always get what you want in life, but the alternative can be a better road to take, or if you live too hard and selfish, sometimes it is too late to do anything but accept the consequences.

Joseph continues to write a compelling story with real-life characters that readers can relate to. Only one negative – I wish the actual years for the past would have been headlined at the beginning of each pertinent section as I got confused a few times, especially when Denise and Jimmy meet after seven years of not seeing each other and Denise has aged, but the timeline is not as far along as I thought. The only dates are the ones at the top of Denise’s letters to her mother and the odd reference by Jimmy to starting university in 1968. And I never did figure out exactly where in middle age George and Jimmy are when they meet in Peru.

But dates aside, I suggest reading In the Shadow of the Conquistador in one or two sittings to get the most out of it.

Sharon A. Crawford

Author of Beyond Blood and Beyond the Tripping Point

Shane’s books are available in the usual online places like amazon.com. He is also on Goodreads .

Read Shane’s blog posts  Also included here is a list of Shane’s published books.

Shane’s recent guest blog post on Shannon J. Thompson’s blog

Book Review by Sharon A. Crawford at Indigo Chapters

For more information about Shane’s books and where they are available go to his publisher’s website.

Shane Joseph’s book is one of two being launched by Blue Denim Press Saturday, November 21, 2015. For more details, check the flyer below:

 

 

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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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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.

Cheers.

Sharon A. Crawford

Sharon A. Crawford is the author of the Beyond book series. More info at www.samcraw.com and www.bluedenimpress.com including a link to a radio interview at http://bluedenimpress.com/authors/sharon-a-crawford/ Online TV interview from Liquid Lunch is at http://youtu.be/i2bBaePIWgY

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

 

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