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Beyond Blood character puts Sharon A. Crawford in hot seat

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

My ideas usually come not at my desk writing but in the midst of living.

 

  • Anais Nin

 

The other fraternal twin in Beyond Blood – Bast Overture is now going at me with the third degree. At least his journalistic techniques appear familiar to me – he has a recorder running and is also taking notes by hand to back it up in case of technological difficulties.

Bast: Okay, Sharon A., I’ll try not to cover exactly what my sister did last week, but I may want to add to it.

Me: Okay. Fire away.

Bast: First, I’d like to know more about your journalism career. You mentioned you did some crime stories but not a lot. As that is my forte, I wonder if you could tell me what stories you did write and why you wrote them.

Me: Sometimes the story was about a crime that I had first-hand experience with. I see you looked perplexed. No, I didn’t do the crime but it was done against me. For example, when I lived in Aurora, Ontario, my house was broken into. So I wrote a humorous personal essay on that. It was published in Wordscape Seven: Mystery & Suspense Anthology, MTB Press, 2001. I also wrote a story for a community newspaper about protecting your home from invasion.

Bast: What about other stories?

Me: I wrote a story about fraud against seniors in their homes, particularly about home renovations and repairs – this was before Identity theft, although I did write a story on that too. But as I told your sister Dana, I believe that if you do the crime you do the time – one way or the other. So, one of the ways I get back, if you will, is to write about prevention, so people don’t become victims of crime. I talked to seniors as well as police and a unique hardware store then in Aurora – the owners recommended legitimate and trustworthy tradespeople for this. I even found a handyman for me, although I didn’t interview him as that might be considered not at arms length – you know too close to the writer.

Bast: Hmm. You mentioned writing a story on Identity Theft. Can you tell me a bit about that? Did you pitch that story to a magazine or was it assigned?

Me: A little of both. I pitched it to the now defunct Homemakers magazine and the editor there was interested and added more scope to the story so that besides police and identity theft protection experts, I interviewed a couple of people who had their identify stolen – one by getting his regular mail redirected so he had to replace all his credit cards and other ID. The other one was the victim of mortgage fraud – someone put a mortgage, in her name, on her house without her knowledge.

Bast: I gather fraud is something you are interested in and you have that as one of the many crimes in Beyond Blood. How did that come about?

Me: Well, without giving the plot away beyond what is on the back book cover, the fraud in there comes from or maybe I should say is related to some of the other crimes. And I’m not saying any more except that some of the plot events are peculiar to that time (1998) and not completely relevant today.

Bast: That’s a bit obtuse. Care to elaborate.

Me: All right. Without giving it all away (and this is on the back cover) abortions, or rather illegal abortions are part of the story in Beyond Blood. And you know, abortions are in the news again with all the anti-abortion movements in the States and even some press in Canada. But the interesting thing here is not that so much as that one thing related to abortions which was illegal in Canada in 1998 is still illegal in Canada today.

Bast: Let the record show that Sharon A. is not talking about Canadian law regarding abortion itself. Abortions are legal in Canada. Sharon A. is referring to…

Me: Stop. Don’t give the plot away. Let’s just say it all is part of the plot and you and Dana figure it out, but will you do so in time to save Dana’s son and your nephew David?

Bast: Right. But maybe you could include that plot blurb on the back of Beyond Blood. That book cover photo at the top of this post shows the front page only.

Me. Okay. Here it is.

In Beyond Blood (Blue Denim Press, fall 2014), Dana Bowman has misgivings about starting the home-based Attic Investigative Agency with her fraternal twin, Bast Overture. Especially when the agency’s launch is preceded by a break and enter downstairs and a kidnapping at the Mini-Mall involving her son David’s babysitter, Debbie Sangwell. Especially when David is kidnapped and Debbie is murdered during the agency’s opening ceremonies. Hovering in the background is the mysterious “Him.”

Further digging reveals more kidnappings, murders, fraud, and abortion. The twins’ investigation also leads to run-ins with police detective Donald Fielding and CKNT TV reporter Charles Haas, the latter who has the “dirt” on Bast. A colourful cast of characters dot the pages, including Dana’s ex-husband Ronald, Great Aunt Doris, Mini-Mall merchants Lois and Ray Chalmers, and various nosy neighbours. Hovering in the background is the mysterious “Him.”

Dana is pushed beyond blood ties trying to avoid an emotional meltdown as a mother and focus on finding her son. The twin detectives discover that everything seems to be connected. Which connection will lead them to David, and to Debbie’s murderer? Will they be too late for David?

Click on my book cover above – it will lead you to my publisher Blue Denim Press’s website. Scroll down and you can see where Beyond Blood is currently available, including at www.bluedenimpress.com.

And check my website www.samcraw.com – click on Beyond Blood. I constantly update the gigs etc. on that page.

Cheers.

Sharon A. Crawford

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Author Editor Relationship – keep it professional and respectful

Amazon.com link to Sharon A.'s short story collection

Amazon.com link to Sharon A.’s short story collection

Your editor is not your ninth grade English teacher (at least I hope not) and is not there to rap your knuckles for forgetting some arcane rule. Editors are professionals who are accustomed to interacting with authors in a mutually respectful relationship.

– Dick Margulis (Editor)
http://www.intelligentediting.com/editorauthorrelationship.aspx

We authors need editors to edit our fiction because we are too subjective with our stories. A fresh pair of eyes and brain can see what our tunnel vision misses. However, many authors have tunnel vision in how they deal with their editor. Sadly, so do editors with their authors.

I should know as I work both sides of the fence as a writer and an editor. And I also teach writing and coach clients in writing. And balancing on that fence (not barbed wire, although sometimes it feels like it), I have seen some strange situations. So, from my personal experience, here are a few tips (with a few weird anecdotes) to help smooth your relationship with your editor.

1. Be professional. You are hiring the editor to evaluate and edit your writing. So no prima donna activities such as insisting the editor can edit but must not change one comma.

2. Realize that editing takes time. You are not going to get a good edit in a few days or a few weeks – even if the editor works 18/7.

3. Realize that editing costs money. Editors do not all charge the same rates. I once had an author include me in his extended fishing expedition to find an editor. He was looking for dirt cheap for editing his book-length manuscript. He told me some of his “contacts” charged as low as $300 and I charged the highest. He didn’t go with me, but I wonder which editor he chose. You get what you pay for. However, it is a good idea to check out a few editors.
4. Choose an editor who actually edits in your genre. I do decline work in some areas I don’t edit in (children’s books and erotica to name a couple, but I do edit young adult books. The first one is not in my area of editing expertise – I don’t have the mindset here and the second I just prefer not to edit). But I will sometimes take on other areas I seldom edit in. Maybe the story interests me or maybe I want to help the author. Or maybe the publisher is my client and the author is the publisher’s client.

5. Both editor and author need to be somewhat flexible with time. As they say, stuff happens and the editor might get behind. Ditto the author when he or she has to answer questions about unclear novel content or make changes. (Note: the author is the copyright owner of the novel, not the editor, so if there are major structural changes I suggest them, especially if I am evaluating, not editing, the manuscript).

6. More on time: don’t bombard your editor with constant emails asking how it is going or worse, sending unasked for changes in your novel for the editor to add in while the editor is still editing. I had a client do the latter, but she found it difficult to follow my requests to please source the references she quoted from.

7. There should always be a contract, or at least a written agreement, between editor and author. This keeps both on track re the editor’s tasks, time-lines, fees, etc. I use the contract suggested by the Editors’ Association of Canada.

8.  For the editors – when editing or evaluating a manuscript, do not be sarcastic. Be honest but polite. Keep it professional. Do not play school marm. You are there to help the writer not wave the big stick.

9. And here is the latest bug-a-boo. If you have made an appointment to meet with an editor before hiring him or her, keep the appointment or at least treat it like you would any other business appointment – if you have to cancel, contact the editor and reschedule. The same goes for editors. I had a would-be-client on a constant change-the-time-and-date spree. He would phone up and ask to do so. That would be okay once. Stuff happens. But when the would-be client agreed to a certain time-change and then changed it to something else without telling the editor… Or one and a half hour after the appointment the author called and said he got tied up and could he come to my home office now? You can imagine my answer to that one. On the other hand, people get sick and have family emergencies. One writing client I tutor has medical issues and I respect that. We work around them. I do not dump clients or refuse clients because of health issues; I have enough of my own to work around

I could go on and on but you get the gist.

An author-editor relationship is a business one. Both should be professional in their dealings with the other.

Cheers.

Sharon A. Crawford

You can read about my characters and their stories in my short story collection Beyond the Tripping Point (Blue Denim Press, 2012). Click on the book at the top and it takes you to Sharon A. Crawford’s profile – including book reviews – at http://www.amazon.com.
More info on Sharon A.’s upcoming gigs, workshops, guest blog posts, etc. at http://www.samcraw.com/Articles/BeyondtheTrippingPoint.html And keep checking http://samcraw.com/Articles/BeyondBlood.html for the latest news on the release of my first mystery novel Beyond Blood, also published by Blue Denim Press http://www.bluedenimpress.com More info on the Beyond Blood page as we get closer to the date.

 

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Writing fiction as a diversion from problems

Amazon.com link to Sharon A.'s short story collection

Amazon.com link to Sharon A.’s short story collection

Writing is a struggle against silence.

– Carlos Fuentes
Many writers freeze up when overloaded with problems or buried in deep depression. You don’t have to and I’m living proof.

When I was depressed for a number of years, writing was my main hold on life. The depression started as post-partum blues in the late 1970s and escalated to full-blown depression.

Disclaimer here: the psychiatrist diagnosed it as reactionary depression and some high anxiety. In other words outside events caused me to feel depressed. So, perhaps the type of depression had something to do with my ability to keep on writing. I also had a regular freelance writing gig, doing a weekly column and feature articles for one of the local newspapers. And I had a son to raise. Those were the two responsibilities that I focused on.

Not to say I didn’t fall off the wagon. But that’s another story.

I haven’t been depressed for years but I still have the high anxiety – a regular fallout from outside events. Instead of depression, I get angry. But anger makes me get going and accomplishing things. Including writing, particularly fiction.

So, how can you use your fiction writing as at least a distraction from your problems and/or your depression? Let me illustrate the ways.

1. Instead of writer’s block when you turn on your computer, write. Start by writing where the fear, where the anger is and where it leads you. This is called freefall writing. That will open up your creative juices to get to No. 2. Or you may be able to skip No. 1.

2. Start a new short story or novel chapter – or work on one already started. Force yourself to start writing. It may take a few go’s, but once you get into it, you become absorbed in what you are writing. Your characters and their concerns will fill your mind and you will connect to them so much that your problems will go behind the back burner of your mind.
3. If you want to do something about the problem, for example if someone is causing you grief and you are stymied about a solution, then write a short story loosely based on the problem. Or do as I did in one of my stories in Beyond the Tripping Point – put the infuriating person in your life into your story. And don’t make them a nice person. This particular relative had been giving me grief about something I had put in the original version of my memoir. I was so upset I wasn’t going to let her off the hook. So I used her essence, i.e., her age and appearance for one of the characters in that short story (“Gone Missing,” if you really want to know). I even had the character working in the same type of “industry” but in another capacity. And here is the crème de la crème – that character was one of the suspects who turned out to be very bad. I often mention this in my talks and readings from Beyond the Tripping Point, with the added comment, “You don’t want to tick me off.”

4. Keep a journal. Yes, I know journaling about your problems on a daily basis is nothing new. But how about doing a twist on that. Use the fiction writing angle. One way is to write the daily postings from the point of view of one of the characters in your short stories or novel. Get inside your character’s head. How would this character see and handle the problem and/or problem person? Or better still, skip your goody-two-shoes character and use a nasty one. How would your nasty character see the problem and handle it?
Using the above, you might find a possible solution to your problem. Or you might get more insight into your characters and write more fiction. At the very least, you have found a creative way, an all encompassing way, to distract you for some time from the misery in your life.
And that’s not just good for your writing; it is also good for your health.
You can read about my characters and their stories in my short story collection Beyond the Tripping Point (Blue Denim Press, 2012). Click on the book at the top and it takes you to Sharon A. Crawford’s profile – including book reviews – at http://www.amazon.com.

More info on Sharon A.’s upcoming gigs, workshops, guest blog posts, etc. at http://www.samcraw.com/Articles/BeyondtheTrippingPoint.html And keep checking http://samcraw.com/Articles/BeyondBlood.html for the latest news on the release of my first mystery novel Beyond Blood, also published by Blue Denim Press http://www.bluedenimpress.com More info on the Beyond Blood page as we get closer to the date.

Cheers.

Sharon A. Crawford

 

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Interview with Fiction Characters by Fiction Characters – Part 44

Amazon.com link to Sharon A.'s short story collection

Amazon.com link to Sharon A.’s short story collection

Make everybody fall out of the plane first, and then explain who they were and why they were in the plane to begin with.

– Nancy Ann Dibble

All the main characters, except the missing Bast Overture, are assembled in the dining room of the Stuart house in Toronto, Ontario. Will Bast show up? And if so, how? In physical person? Or in spirit. And what about PC Joseph Oliver? What is he going to do?

Swan (waving the gun he just fired): Next time I’ll hit one of you.

Fielding: Put that gun down, Swan.

Hutchinson: You heard him. Put that gun down.

Dana, still shaking from the gun’s noise: Better listen to them, Swan.

Swan: Or you’ll do what. I’m the one with the gun here. I…oh…

Roger’s and Susan’s spirits are creating havoc around Swan but they can’t seem to get the gun out of his hand.

Oliver (rushing forward to Swan and reaching up): I’ll take that.

Oliver knocks the gun from Swan’s hand, sending the gun flying. Hutchinson picks it up and points it at Swan.

Hutchinson: Cuff him, Oliver.

He does and Susan’s and Roger’s spirits return to the table where Robbie hasn’t budged. Robbie appears as if in a trance, as if he is talking to someone that no one else can see.

Dana, looking at Swan: We got you now. It might be in your best interest to tell me where my brother is. NOW.

Swan smirks: Of course. Look over there.

Dana follows his eyes. Sitting at the dining room table with Robbie, and the two spirits, is Bast. He appears to be talking to Robbie. The other two don’t seem to notice.

And Bast’s face looks very very pale.

Cheers.
Sharon A. Crawford

Sharon A. Crawford’s prequel novel Beyond Blood, featuring the fraternal twins will be published fall 2014 by Blue Denim Press. Stay tuned.

Meantime, you can read more about the characters and their stories in from Beyond the Tripping Point (Blue Denim Press, 2012). Click on the book at the top and it takes you to Sharon A. Crawford’s profile – including book reviews – at http://www.amazon.com. The book is available there in print and Kindle. For Kobo e-book go to http://store.kobobooks.com/en-CA/ebook/beyond-the-tripping-point or go to any bricks and mortar store and order in a print copy. Spread the word.
More info on Sharon A.’s upcoming gigs, workshops, guest blog posts, etc. at http://www.samcraw.com/Articles/BeyondtheTrippingPoint.html

 

 

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Fiction Character looks for another character gone missing

Amazon.com link to Sharon A.'s short story collection

Amazon.com link to Sharon A.’s short story collection

My father gave me the greatest gift anyone could give another person; he believed in me.

          Jim Valvano

Dana Bowman is determined to find her missing brother Bast Overture. In last week’s post she interviewed Detective Sergeant Donald Fielding and we saw where that got her. She’s still sitting in the Thurston library boardroom and looking at her sketchpad with the picture of Bast with his beard, which he shaves off in one of the stories in Beyond the Tripping Point by Sharon A. Crawford (Blue Denim Press, 2012). The photo gets her thinking back when she and Bast were growing up.

“What are you doing, son? Drawing? Sissy stuff. You should be playing baseball.”

Dad was like that – always finding fault with my brother. And as his fraternal twin I felt it when Dad hit on Bast. This time Bast and I were sitting out in the front yard under the big maple tree. We were 11years old. We both had our sketch pads in front of us. We both drew people, but his were serious and a true likeness – Mrs. Cooke next door with her fly-away hair and crooked smile, and the delivery people – UPS – Dad always had packages coming to the house, which is why he had come outside in the first place as he was expecting another delivery. Bast usually drew secretly in his room – I was the only one he’d show his sketches to. I’d show him my sketches – I also drew everyday people but in exaggeration. Mr. Cooke flew away with her hair and her smile slid down to her neck. Dad came over to us and started yapping at Bast.

“Well, Sebastian, I asked you a question.” Dad glares down at his son.

Bast cowers and tries to hide behind his sketchpad.

“Dad, Bast is just helping me with my homework. We have to draw the people in our lives and I needed another perspective.” I look up at father, while trying to close my sketch pad.

“Is that so, Sebastian?” Dad seems to ignore me and continues staring at Bast.

“Maybe…yes…I guess so,” Bast manages to say.

“Speak up son; I can’t hear you.”

“Maybe…yes…I guess so.” Bast repeats it in a somewhat louder voice.

“Well, which is it?”

Silence.

Dad bends down, grabs Bast’s sketchpad and starts ripping off sketch by sketch, muttering under his breath. He tears one sketch up and throws the pieces at Bast.

“You are wasting your time and I don’t see much talent here.” He turns to me. “Dana, keep up the good work. You might make an artist one day.”

He strides down the driveway to meet the UPS truck just pulling into the street. He didn’t even look at my sketches. I turn to Bast. He has his face buried in his sketchpad and he is crying. I move over to him and touch his shoulder. He winces.

“Bast, it’s just me, Dana. Don’ let Dad get to you. You are good. You see people for who they are.”

Bast pushes me away. “No, Dad is right.” He picks up the rest of his sketches and starts tearing them up as if each piece was a piece of our father.

To my knowledge Bast never draw another picture. But he went on to Journalism school at Ryerson in Toronto and became a great crime writer. He could get right into the people and why they did what they did. He uses that gift when we try to find missing persons or whatever our clients want us to do.

Now, someone had gotten right into him and taken him away.

Was it someone he once wrote about? Or someone he’s interviewed in the last few months. I chew my lower lip. Then I pick up my charcoal and start sketching my brother.

Cheers.

Sharon A. Crawford

You can read more about the characters and their stories in from Beyond the Tripping Point (Blue Denim Press, 2012). Click on the book at the top and it takes you to my profile – including book reviews – at www.amazon.com. The book is available there in print and Kindle. For Kobo e-book  go to http://store.kobobooks.com/en-CA/ebook/beyond-the-tripping-point or go to any bricks and mortar store and order in a print copy.

See Sharon A.’s Upcoming Gigs, workshops, etc. at http://www.samcraw.com/Articles/BeyondtheTrippingPoint.html  The next one is this evening, teaching Kick-start Your Memoir Using the Six Senses from 6.30 p.m. to 8 p.m. at the Beaches Branch of the Toronto Public Library in Toronto, Ontario, Canada.

 

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