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What’s Your Story? East York Saturday Oct. 1

The latest Beyond book in the series

The latest Beyond book in the series

Authors  -published and unpublished, publishers and bookbinders mix this coming Saturday at another of the four Toronto area What’s Your Story? events. This one runs from 2 p.m. to 4.30 p.m. at the S. Walter Stewart Library branch  in Toronto, Ontario, Canada.  And the bolded word is not a mistake. There will be a bookbinders workshop and it is not digital. Also in the lineup are four area (East York part of Toronto) authors – one emerging and three published – who will each read their essay on their neighbourhood, a networking session with publishers and published authors, and a chance to get one page of your manuscript anonymously critiqued by members of my East End Writers’ Group. The “anonymously” refers to the manuscript page being submitted without the author’s name on it. Authors wanting to sample our group’s writing critique on a small scale can drop one-page of a manuscript in a bowel or box and sit in our writers’ circle where they can take part in a writing critique.

And we published authors will be able to sell our books.

But I am jumping ahead. “What’s Your Story?” was conceived by the Ontario Book Publishers Organization. The concept is to showcase the literary scene in four areas of Toronto with both published and want-to-be published writers coming together and getting a chance to show their stuff and network and learn. With each Toronto area, the OBPO joined forces with an area arts group and a Toronto Library branch for the half day’s events. In East York, East End Arts, an umbrella group for so many creative organizations for the area, was picked. And one of their representatives, in turn, called on me to have my East End Writers’ Group participate. Adom (from EEA) and I brainstormed what EEWG could do and came up with the writing critique.

The whole afternoon is a celebration of writing, publishing and reading. And you can read a lot more about it on the East End Arts website. There are photos, bios, and info on the individuals and groups participating, schedule of events, a place to sign up for learning/participating sessions.

And yes, that includes the bookbinding workshop. Pity, it runs the same time as the writing critique session.

I love the title of these events as it is so evocative of writers and writing.

So, taking that title, I’m asking you:

WHAT’S YOUR STORY?

Cheers.

Sharon A. Crawford

And as usual, if you click on the Beyond Blood book cover at the top, you will link to my Amazon profile.

 

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Preparing for author reading amidst aftermath of severe storm etc.

Sharon A. Crawford's latest in the Beyond series

Sharon A. Crawford’s latest in the Beyond series

You would think as an author I could focus on just the preparation for my reading this evening as part of the Urban Folk Art Salon at the Mount Pleasant Library. But I’m dealing with too many snafus and bad happenings – yesterday’s, ongoing ones, and possibly a somewhat repeat this evening of the one last evening.

Last evening my East End Writers’ Group had its usual almost monthly writing critique at the S. Walter Stewart Library. But we had a severe thunderstorm – actually the heavy rain was the severe part with flash flooding including in the library basement where we meet – we had to go to higher ground and I let everyone out early because I was worried about some water getting in my basement. Yes, some did although with all the towels etc. I had down it was more damp in places in the laundry room. I’ll be going into all this flooding business in my post on my other more personal blog Only Child Writes next Tuesday. For now suffice to say, I got soaked going to the library (despite wearing rain gear) and my running shoes got soaked inside despite spraying them earlier in the day with water repellant.The shoes are outside in the sun now in the hopes that they dry in a few hours. Because…

We may get another round of these thunderstorms with heavy rainfall later this afternoon going into the evening. The Weather Network calls it a risk of a thunderstorm. Just what I need when I have to head out to yet another library for this Urban Folk Art Salon. This time I gave house keys to a neighbour who also has had (now fixed in his case) basement flooding so he should know what to do. Now I just have to get out and there staying dry and get back home again. And enjoy myself the whole evening.

There is more to this why my basement still floods story, but that will also be in the Only Child Writes post next Tuesday.

The other situation I’m still dealing with is trying to get the rest of the payment for a writing course I taught last month. The cheque for two sessions arrived on Tuesday – late. It seems to be too many layers of departments involved and it doesn’t help that my signed contract got lost by the middle-department – that’s the cheque I’m still waiting for.

Such are the woes of the writer. Now I better do one more round of practicing for tonight.

Meantime you can check out the details of this evening’s Urban Folk Art Salon on my author blog post last Thursday or for a shorter version on my Gigs and Blog Tours page here.

And as usual if you click on the Beyond Book cover at the top, it will take you to my Amazon author page.

Wish me luck later today and this evening. And if you are in the area in Toronto this evening, drop in. At least the program room is upstairs on the second floor, so hopefully all will go well.

Cheers.

Sharon

 

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Making Your Short Stories Sparkle and Sell

Cover of Sharon A. Crawford's mystery short story collection. Click on it for publisher's website

If you want to lift your short stories above the mediocre there are many things you can do. One of these is to be original in your story and in your characters. Readers like something different in their plot and eccentric characters can be a big draw whether you are writing commercial or literary fiction.

Three of us commercial fiction authors – Rosemary McCracken, Madeleine Harris-Callway and Sharon A. Crawford – who write both crime novels and short stories will be discussing why and how we do it. We will cover how we get story ideas and how much is from real life and how much from imagination. A couple of us have series characters in some of our short stories and in our novels, so we will discuss how we deal with time lines. Is it difficult going back and forth from writing novels and short stories and what the heck is the difference in how you write each?

Then there is marketing your short stories. Each of us has unusual ways we market our books (both the short stories and the novels).

And this panel will not be just the three of us talking. We are open to lots of  q and a.We want to get a real conversation going on short story writing. Here are the details about this upcoming panel being held by the East End Writers’ Group Wednesday, June 29, 2016.

Making Your Short Stories Sparkle and Sell

Do short stories come from real life, imagination, or both? How do you market short stories? For June’s East End Writers’ Group meeting join fiction authors Rosemary McCracken (shortlisted for the 2014 Derringer Award), Madeleine Harris-Callway (finalist for 2015 Arthur Ellis Award for Best First Novel), and Sharon A. Crawford (author of the “Beyond” mystery series) for a discussion on writing and marketing short stories.  Copies of authors’ books available and there will be  networking and food at 9 p.m.

Time and Date: 7 p.m. to 9.30 p.m., Wednesday, June 29, 2016

Location: S. Walter Stewart library branch, 170 Memorial Park Avenue, Toronto, Ontario, Canada

I am doing a guest blog post on Rosemary McCracken’s blog Moving Target about libraries and how they were and are important to me in my writing career, then seguing into this upcoming panel which is held at a library. There is a serendipity for me about this library branch. You’ll find this and more when my post is up on Monday, June 27 at Moving Target.

Meantime you can check out the panelists:

Rosemary McCracken http://www.rosemarymccracken.com/

Madeleine Harris-Callway http://mhcallway.com/

Sharon A. Crawford http://www.samcraw.com

Cheers.

Sharon A. Crawford

That’s my short story collection – Beyond the Tripping Point – book cover at the top of this post. If you click on the book cover, it will take you to my author profile on amazon.com

 

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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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How Writers in Residence can help your writing

Sharon A. Crawford's latest in the Beyond series

Sharon A. Crawford’s latest in the Beyond series

What are the advantages of having a Writer in Residence look at your writing and give feedback and marketing advice?

I’ve had the good fortune to be involved  on both sides. For two sessions I was Writer in Residence for the Canadian Authors Association Toronto branch. In that position, I have helped writers with advice on marketing their manuscripts, writing a query letter, editing and evaluating their manuscript – up to a point.

One thing about a Writer in Residence is he or she only evaluates/edits up to 20 or 30 pages – either for free or at a lower rate than normal fees. But it is worth every dollar (we don’t have pennies anymore in Canada), Euro or whatever denomination your country has. It is also worth your time because of the vast experience of Writers In Residence. They are published authors in various genres and if you pick your Writer in Residence to match your area of writing it can benefit your writing.

The process varies, but generally it involves submitting a few pages double-spaced of your writing-in-the works and then meeting with the WiR to get his or her feedback, ask questions and get some advice on how to make your manuscript sparkle and perhaps some marketing tips.

Recently, I had the experience of being on the other side of the fence. I am a member of the Toronto Heliconian Club and one of the benefits is the Writer in Residence. Just before Christmas I met with her – Dawn Promislow –  not for critique of my new Beyond novel in the works, but for an assessment of a five-page personal essay. I didn’t have to pre-submit the manuscript, just brought a couple of hard copies – one for her to look at and one for me – while we chatted.

And it was more than just a superficial chat. First, Dawn read the manuscript, then did a general overall evaluation including summing it up as good and more professional than she expected. (Note: this essay had been rewritten more times than I have fingers.) Then we went through it all line-by-line and discussed what worked, what didn’t, what could be expressed better and in fewer words, and what could be deleted. One of my concerns was to make it shorter so I could submit it to markets that require a shorter than 1300 personal essay. Previous to meeting withe Dawn I had shortened it from 1500 words to 1300 words.

It was a two-way discussion, none of this just giving advice with me listening. That’s important because the bottom line is it is my story and if I don’t have some input in the critique, I won’t really understand what needs to be done. The whole meeting took about an hour and 20 minutes.

So, besides CAA and clubs like the Heloconian, where can you find a Writer in Residence?

Try your local libraries. The Toronto Public Library system has two Writers in Residence programs a year, alternating locations with the two largest library branches – Toronto Reference Library and North York Central branch. I have submitted manuscripts over the years to WiRs at both branches. You have to have a library card for this – but library cards are free and renewed annually.

And submit is a keyword here. You have to submit up to a certain number of pages double-spaced to the library by a certain date. Then the library gets the manuscripts to the WiR and you will hear back from the library with an appointment time and date to meet with the WiR. Currently the TPL WiR is poet, memoir author, former journalist, etc. Brian Brett at Toronto Reference Library. For this session, Brian Brett will be focusing on poetry.

That’s another key. Submit something you are writing in the area of the WiR’s experience. Unlike me, who once submitted a chapter of my memoir to a literary novelist and poet. My memoir was part literary in style, but this author just didn’t get it. Another time, much earlier, I submitted one of the original chapter versions of the memoir to a well-rounded in writing experience WiR – Austin Clarke and got some excellent and thorough feedback. It was also a two-way discussion and it was Mr. Clarke’s feedback that helped me decide to actually write more chapters in a memoir.

So, a few tips for submitting your work to a Writer in Residence.

  1. Follow any submission guidelines.
  2. Make sure you match the WiR to what you are writing.
  3. Rewrite, rewrite your submission – a loose draft won’t do.
  4. Show up on time for your appointment with the WiR.
  5. Listen to what the WiR says but don’t be afraid to question and add details about what you are writing – it is not a one-way street.
  6. Don’t be afraid to ask related questions that are pressing – such as markets, copyright issues, and in the case of memoir (one I always find comes up in my memoir writing workshops) –  naming names and the fear with writing your story.

Good luck. The WiR can be the experience that helps you get your manuscript focused and inspires you to keep at it.

Cheers.

Sharon A. Crawford

To find out more about Sharon A. Crawford and where her Beyond books are available click on the Beyond Blood book above.And visit her website

 

 

 

 

 

 

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Crime Writers talk crime at Yorkville library tonight

Sharon A. Crawford's latest in the Beyond series

Sharon A. Crawford’s latest in the Beyond series

Crime can pay – at least between the book covers. Maybe not in big sales to make authors rich. But in authors connecting with each other and with readers.

That is set to happen this evening as four of us crime writers from Crime Writers of Canada – Rosemary Aubert, Robert J. Hoshowsky, Nate Hendley and me Sharon A Crawford will be talking about how we either create crime or tell it like it is. For the first time with me involved, there are two true crime reporters – Robert and Nate. Both write different aspects of true crime and both got into doing so in different ways.

On the fiction side, both Rosemary and I write series novels – hers is the award-winning Ellis Portal series. What’s interesting about Rosemary’s books is the first five were published by a large trade publisher, and at the beginning of this year she went with a small independent publisher.

I write the Beyond mystery series and am published by a small trade publisher – no awards yet, but I’m working on it.

Here are the details about the four of us and our presentation this evening.
Nate Hendley

Nate Hendley is a Toronto-based freelance writer and author of several books, primarily in the true-crime genre. Decades of Injustice, a hard-hitting look at the wrongful conviction case of Steven Truscott, is his latest book from a Canadian publisher. His website can be found at www.natehendley.com

 

Robert J. Hoshowsky

Robert J. Hoshowsky is the author of two True Crime books, including the Arthur Ellis-shortlisted The Last to Die: Ronald Turpin, Arthur Lucas, and the End of Capital Punishment in Canada and Unsolved: True Canadian Cold Cases, which inspired Macleans magazine to publish an entire special issue on famous murder cases. His extensive research on the last men executed in Canada has sparked an interest in the Lucas case, which is currently being investigated to determine if Lucas’ death sentence can be posthumously overturned, for the first time in Canadian history.

 

A former Researcher-Reporter at Macleans magazine, he has also contributed to top-rated television programs, including the Canadian version of Who Wants to be a Millionaire. His investigative work has been published in over 100 magazines and newspapers worldwide.

 

Much of Robert’s recent work can be found in Serial Killer Quarterly, where he has profiled such infamous murderers as Jeffrey Dahmer, Britain’s John Christie, Leonard Lake and Charles Ng, and Sheila Labarre.

 

Rosemary Aubert

Rosemary Aubert is the author of eighteen published books, the most recent being Don’t Forget You Love Me, the sixth in the acclaimed Ellis Portal mystery series, set in Toronto and featuring a formerly homeless judge and reluctant solver of murders. Rosemary is a popular teacher, presenter and mentor.

 

Sharon A. Crawford

 

Sharon A. Crawford, a former journalist, is a freelance memoir and fiction writer, writing consultant and instructor, and editor. Sharon is the author of the Beyond mystery series, the short story collection Beyond the Tripping Point (Blue Denim Press, 2012), and her latest novel Beyond Blood (Blue Denim Press, Fall 2014). She teaches writing workshops for Toronto Library branches. She belongs to Crime Writers of Canada, Sisters in Crime, The Toronto Heliconian Club and runs the East End Writers’ Group. Her hobbies: reading, walking and gardening act as catalysts for her next novel.

An Evening of Crime at the Yorkville Library

Thursday, Oct 22, 2015

6:30 p.m. – 8:00 p.m.

Four Canadian crime writers read from their latest works: Rosemary Aubert, Sharon Crawford, Nate Hendley,and Robert J. Hoshowsky. Sharon Crawford will interview the panel and a question and answer period will follow.

No registration required.

Yorkville Library Branch (Program Room)
22 Yorkville Ave., Toronto, Ontario.

If you are in the area this evening, please drop in.

Meantime, I have to go over the questions I’m asking the panel and make sure I’m on the ball with my answers too.

Cheers.

Sharon A. Crawford

Click on the Beyond Blood cover at the top to find out where copies are available

 

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