Category Archives: Beyond Blood

Only Child plows through overwhelm

Teddy keeping track of time

That little fellow sitting on the clock is going to continue to show up in at least some of my blog posts until I get a better handle on this time thing. But despite all the crap coming from outside, I have made some progress. In another post I’ll go into all the problems that have been shoved my way since last week. The ones I don’t cause but have to deal with the fallout for. No doubt more will zoom in before that.

I finally figured out how to tackle and get somewhere with clearing out all the paperwork in my office. And if you think my desk is piled with random paper scattered everywhere, uh, uh, no. What gets put on the desk while I work usually gets put away at the end of my work day. Ditto any filing that lands in the tray on top of the file cabinet. There is, however, a small metal rack on  my desk by the printer and some of that still needs clearing. But last Sunday I managed to sort out the papers that were lying under my daytimer, also beside the printer, and tackled some of the stuff in envelopes in that rack. Until I got down to the bits of paper, envelopes and the like that have addresses on them that need to be put in my address book. I know there is Outlook and the like online, but having tried some of that, unless it is email addresses and a list of family addresses and phone numbers, I prefer old-fashioned address/phone book – the small kind. As for those big fat Bell telephone books (do they even print those anymore), unless I want to check out how to use some of the extras with my phone service, I don’t use those phone books. I do check people’s addresses and phone numbers, restaurants, etc. online, though, plus search for items I need to buy (like humidifier filters) before I head out the door. And yes, I do by some online. But some items I just like to eyeball in person or with clothes, especially shoes, try on first.

Anyway, while tackling the items on that wire rack, I hit some business cards and that got me started on sorting them out. I have almost a whole side drawer of my desk filled with old business cards; most in those folders with plastic inserts to hold the cards. Those went back over 10 years when I was doing a lot of networking for my business. My “business” is much different now. I’m not into networking with small businesses per say. Besides the age of the cards (and some sticking to the plastic insert), what struck me is the ambiguity of the information on the cards. Yes, there was a person’s, name, phone number, email address and website. But their business names in 90 per cent of the case were so vague, you couldn’t figure out what they were doing. And no clear tagline to state what they do.

My business cards (designed by my son) read on one side:

To the right of my photo (see head shot near the top of my blog itself. It’s my brand photo that follows me around online):

Sharon A. Crawford

Writer/Editor/Instructor

We make words sparkle.

And my phone no.,  city and country, website and email address.

Other side features the front covers of my two latest Beyond mystery series Beyond Blood and Beyond Faith with above and below that:

Author of the Beyond mystery series

Published by Blue Denim Press

and the publisher’s website URL

 

Clarity is important.

And clarity is something I am using to tackle streamlining my life – business and personal. That card and other paper sorting and purging took one and a quarter hours. I figure one and a half hours a weekend will get the job done eventually and in a steady way.

Meantime, I came across a fabulous website that has all sorts of articles on reining in what you do. It is geared more towards business but there is some personal included. For example, one article states it isn’t a good idea to use separate calendars for business and personal because you could over book yourself. I already was following that. My “daytimer” has one page for each day and I draw a line (with a ruler) down the middle. At the top of one I put “Biz “and at the top of the other I put “Personal”.

One thing this article also said was a big reason people get overwhelmed with their day and just don’t get things done is they put first what others want them to do and put themselves last. The article says to do the latter. I agree, although if you have work deadlines you need to consider them. However, I am finding that some of the things I do for others, like workshop and course development and outlining, book promo (often for some of us authors together) I really like doing. So putting that first is like putting something I am doing for me first.

But that’s a whole other topic.

Here is the page with the article.

If you Google “fast company and scheduling” you’ll get a whole list of links to their other other articles.

As that egg commercial says, “get cracking.”

Cheers.

Sharon

Cover of Beyond Faith on back of my biz card

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Filed under Beyond Blood, Beyond Faith, Life Balance, Life demands, Prioritizing, Sharon A. Crawford, Time management, to do list

Only Child’s third Beyond mystery novel published

Cover of my new mystery novel

When I was a child in the 1950s and early 1960s, I got hooked on mysteries – novels and TV programs. I read Nancy Drew, the Hardy Boys and Trixie Belden. My late mother got me hooked on Perry Mason. We spent Saturday evenings sitting in front of the TV in the living room watching the old Perry Mason black and white TV series. My dad, a dire-hard Toronto Maple Leafs hockey fan had to take a small radio down to the basement to watch hockey. He complained loudly, but no doubt the few bottles of beer he brought down with him, helped.

Pushing into my teens, I started reading Agatha Christie.

So, it is no wonder that all these years later I write mystery series – so far books – the Beyond series – Beyond the Tripping Point (Blue Denim Press, 2012), Beyond Blood (Blue Denim Press, 2014). And now the latest, just out – drum roll… Beyond Faith (Blue Denim Press, 2017). The cover of Beyond Faith is at the top here.

And I’m going to link to my author blog, my latest post last Thursday there for you to see what all the fuss, joy, etc. is about. If you like you can read other posts there and perhaps follow it. Here’s the main link.

And since then, my mystery novel reading has increased to so many different authors such as Maureen Jennings (she of the Murdock Mysteries TV series), Peter Robinson (Alan Banks mystery series set in Yorkshire, England), Lisa Jackson, Lisa Gardiner, Marcia Mueller, Sue Grafton, etc. etc. etc. for a wealth of Canadian readers go to Crime Writers of Canada.

Crime Writers of Canada have a quarterly e-publication called Cool Canadian Crime which lists recent books published by members. And it’s free.

Cheers.

Sharon A. Crawford

Only Child Writes

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Filed under 1950s, Beyond Blood, Beyond Faith, Beyond the Tripping Point, Books, Mom and Dad, mystery novels, Only child, Sharon A. Crawford, Uncategorized, Writing

Only Child deals with multiple snafus

Only Child down from running in circles

Only Child rests after running in circles

I’ve been running in circles today. Not only too much to do, but too many snafus to deal with at the same time. The worst part may be they are caused by others. Bad enough dealing with your own mistakes. And that’s why I’m late with this blog post. At least I made the day in posting.

Not going into a big long rundown of them all – but just for a taste here’s the really stupid one. There ought to be a string of jokes about bad banking deeds. Or maybe there is. The latest one to happen is on Friday I withdrew $30 from the bank – my bank, but not my branch. The teller gave me $30 cash but took it off my account twice. Sorting it out isn’t simple. When I caught it early Friday evening online back home, the bank branch was closed, so I had to call the main bank line for all branches. Nothing could be done because that branch is closed weekends but I got the Customer Services supervisor’s name and phone number plus the person from the main bank line said she was sending the info to that person now.

Yeah right. Not according to the Customer Service Super when I called her Monday morning. The latter might just be covering her ass because she hadn’t checked yet. So, once more I launched into my spiel and she said she would investigate and get back to me no later than Wednesday morning.

Today it was telephone tag. Her first call to me went into voice mail because I was outside dealing with a more serious snafu. “Snafu” may be a misnomer as this was some of the damage caused by God’s winter weather. Mike, my handyman and I were outside looking at and talking about the downspout and rain barrel damage and what he needs to do and cost. “One snafu at a time,” I said to Mike when I heard the phone inside ring.

Outcome (after several telephone tags with me stating when I was going out and not being listened to) was an apology from the bank’s customer service manager and the money has been credited to my account. Of course when I asked how the double posting could happen I got the loop answer. Maybe it was only $30 but going into May I have multi-bills to pay – all the utilities (some aren’t monthly) AND property taxes. At least Mike is understanding – I think he kept his work cost down and he agreed to let me come to the hardware store(s) with him so I can pay for the supplies with a credit card. The latter won’t need paying until June when the two extra utilities and property taxes don’t have bills.

The scary thing here is the cost for this property repair will probably be within ten or twenty dollars of the two utility bills and property taxes combined.

But the damage outside can’t wait until June. I hope all the stuff that needs repairs inside can wait until June.

I know. I need to go sit outside in my garden to relax. Wait a minute. Out front is the damaged juniper thanks to God’s extreme weather the past two winters. Out back is the rain barrel etc. stuff.

But Mike is coming Monday morning to fix the damage in the back – if it doesn’t rain then. I won’t be holding my breath.

I’m still going to sit outside and do some gardening. Maybe not this evening. Because this evening…

Nancy Bullis is interviewing me on Howl about my new mystery novel Beyond Blood at 10 p.m. this evening (April 28) on the University of Toronto radio station CIUT 89.5 FM. Don’t know if it is live-streamed online but you can check their website at http://www.ciut.fm/listen-now/

Howl is right. That’s what I feel like doing over all the snafus.

And I’ve only covered the surface of them.

Cheers.

Sharon A. Crawford

Only Child Writes

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Filed under Bank service, Banking, Beyond Blood, Garden Destruction, God, Life demands, Money, Problems, Snafus

Only Child searches for Dad’s history

Only child's Dad when he worked for the railway

Only child’s Dad when he worked for the railway

I am trying to piece together my late father’s history – his ancestors and his life in Toronto before I came along. Not too easy when Dad was born in Montreal and the family moved to Toronto when he was a child.

A year ago I began this quest – one of my cousins had started a trace on the Langevin (and Verey – the latter her direct family connection, not mine) ancestry on www.ancestry.ca. I’m not on there yet but one of my friends is and she offered to do some checking there. She found my cousin’s partial family history and also an anomaly – further digging by my friend found another last name (maiden one) for my paternal grandmother. Which is the correct one?

I am not close to my Dad’s side of the family and it has been over five years since I talked to some of my cousins. But I emailed the family genealogist using an old email address. You guessed it – the email bounced back as no one at that address.

However, life jumped in, including dealing with the horrible boarder living here last year, house and house-related problems, plus one pleasant thing – finishing rewriting my first mystery novel Beyond Blood (published fall 2014 – Warning: plug coming. See my publisher’s website www.bluedenimpress.com for more info and my other blog www.sharonacrawfordauthor.com).

As 2014 drew to a close and 2015 rushed in, I feel much urgency to continue on this quest for Dad’s history. I have been spending some Saturday afternoons at the Toronto Reference Library looking in old City Might Directories to find where Dad lived and to try to nail down when the Langevin family did move to Toronto. (I had some idea what street so that was a start.)

And found myself on a very enjoyable but puzzling journey.

Picture me sitting at a table on the library’s second floor with Might Directories piled up in front of me. The shelves where they are stored are behind me, but I can only carry four books at a time. It is difficult with my health issues to get down to the floor to pick out the directories on the bottom shelf but I am compelled to do so.

You are not allowed to photocopy the contents – not a copyright issue but the delicate nature of the pages. These are old directories, circa early 1900s (Dad was old enough to be my grandfather) and the pages are amazing. Almost like parchment with back to back pages which appear glued together. Back then, the “technology” did not allow for any other way to do this. The print is around the same size as print telephone directories, perhaps a smidgeon larger. With my bad eyes and old glasses I have to use a small magnifying glass to read the type.

It is worth it – this going back and forth from the street listings to the name listing and I finally find my late grandfather. Thanks to my cousin’s information on ancestry.ca I now know his first name. But another Langevin surfaces in the Might Directories – a Charles Langevin and I have no idea where he fits in, except my grandfather and grandmother and their offspring lived with him for a few years. My grandfather (Eugene Langevin) shows up in the street address listing at some point and then in a later year, Charles has disappeared. Then my aunts and uncles and my dad show up living at the same addresses, including my cousin’s great grandfather (she is a cousin once removed to me). And it lists where they worked and the position they held. The listing criteria seems to be it didn’t matter if you were male or female as long as you held a job.

I find my father not only worked as a clerk at Canadian National Railways but that previouslyhe worked with the Grand Trunk Railway before CNR gobbled it up. I finally find where his office was located – as I suspected right in Union Station in Toronto. One of his brothers, Uncle Paul also fought in World War 1, which I never knew. The directory has him still at the address but they classify him as “away on service.” And yes, he came back from the war. I also discover the Langevin family moved to Markham St. (where my cousins, their parents and my late maternal grandmother lived when I was a child) many years earlier than I suspected.

Then I get carried away and start to trace my mom’s time from when she moved to Toronto from the family farm near Mildmay, Ontario. Not sure which year so I’m working back from 1938 the year before she and Dad married. The address she lived at then (renting in a house) is in the area of Toronto where she and Dad lived when they were first married. Next investigation is to find out if the addresses are the same. An old photograph I have might give me the answer.

I can see my memoir will need some changes.

And I finally realized why I am compelled to do this family history investigation now. 2015 (November) is the 50th anniversary of Dad’s death.

Cheers.

Sharon A. Crawford

Only Child Writes

Only Child and her late dad on the veranda of 139 in happier times

Only Child and her late dad on the veranda of 139 in happier times

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Filed under Beyond Blood, Beyond the Tripping Point, Canadian National Railway, Dad, Family, Hereditary, Libraries, Memoir content, Mom and Dad, Nostalgia, Only child memoir, Railways, Research memoir writing, Toronto

Only Child asks where’s the time for creativity?

Symbol of what Only Child wants to do - write

Symbol of what Only Child wants to do – write

An old school friend I keep in touch with asked if I had time to recharge my creative batteries. This was in response to my email where I told him about being up beyond eyeballs promoting my new mystery novel Beyond Blood, working with editing and writing clients, getting the house and garden ready for winter, etc. etc.

Yeah, he is right. In all this scurrying around in overwhelm the only creative juices flowing seem to be those directed at trying to fit everything in each day…and squealing when something on the “to do” list doesn’t get done.

So, I’m going through another pruning of what I can, can’t and just plain won’t do – especially after a big “zoo day” last Friday – meeting with client and the guy cleaning the eavestroughs doing other odd jobs here at the same time. First planned and the second one – not much choice with weather and the guy’s schedule. I didn’t appreciate the plumbing emergency that occurred right after and having to get in the regular handyman who specializes in plumbing and electrical work. And because the forecast was for rain on the weekend I had to spend the afternoon raking leaves, etc. I do enjoy gardening but Friday afternoons are my time to write. Haven’t had many of these Friday afternoons lately and my head is swimming with ideas for my next mystery novel. I’ve started writing it.

So, what are the big delay-causers – besides house repairs and other housework?

Emails. I don’t mean family and friends but business-related and all those email listserves/newsletters I’m on. So, for the rest of November, emails related to current clients, work, and book promo I will answer. But anyone – writer or otherwise who wants me to do something for them – forget it. I especially get my dander up when another writer asks me what to do about something or to do it when really they should be doing the research for it. Research is part of being a writer and passing along doing the research to another writer doesn’t sit too well with me. Different story if you are my client, or it’s at a writing group meeting or if I’m teaching you in a group workshop.

As for those listserves/e-newsletters – I’ve unsubscribed from many of them and a few more are on probation.

I also set a timer when I do email. Excluding book promo where I have to write PR proposals, etc. in the email, when the timer rings I finish the email I am doing and then that’s it. Anything else can wait for another day. And my timer only goes to 60 minutes.

In other words I’m turning into a hard-ass. It’s either that or the nut-house or as my favourite (sarcastic) expression these days is

“I’m waiting for my fatal heart attack.”

I don’t really want that to happen. I have a lot of living I still want to do.

And about my book Beyond Blood, see my other blog www.sharonacrawfordauthor.com and my publisher’s website http://bluedenimpress.com/

Go to my website www.samcraw.com and click on Beyond Blood. Scroll down to gigs and you’ll see where I’ll be with my book for November. I’ll be posting some to my Facebook page https://www.facebook.com/pages/Sharon-A-Crawford/412730865439394

Or Goodreads (which needs updating badly).

http://www.goodreads.com/author/show/4636581.Sharon_A_Crawford

I find Goodreads cumbersome to move around in. Anyone want to help me out there, please comment.

But probably not today. However, this post will be linked to Facebook and Linked In.

Time marches on.

Here is a cover shot of my new mystery novel Beyond Blood

Cover of Only Child's first published mystery novel

Cover of Only Child’s first published mystery novel

Cheers.

Sharon A. Crawford

Only Child Writes

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Filed under Balance, Beyond Blood, email overload, Family and Friends, Home and Garden, Organizing and Deleting, Plumbing, Sharon A. Crawford, Weather, Writing

Only Child on first novel Beyond Blood being published

Cover of Only Child's first published mystery novel just out

Cover of Only Child’s first published mystery novel just out

Hi all:

Getting my first novel Beyond Blood published even at the ripe old age of 65 still resonates. Especially when I dreamed for years of doing so but had to hold back on the writing required because I needed to do other stuff to earn a living.

That includes working as a secretary in what seems like another life. But some of this other stuff is and was writing – since 1976 (gulp) when I first started getting my humorous personal essays and feature articles published in a local Bradford, Ontario newspaper. Personal essays equals short memoir pieces and although the book-length memoir is still being rewritten, getting personal essays published early in my writing career apparently is a feat not easy to do – at least these days. All fodder for the memoir book.

As for Beyond Blood – it has been in the works off and on for around 15 years. Maybe longer, as my freelance writing and some of those secretarial positions provided information, research and impetus for Beyond Blood. For example, two of my main characters who are PIs, fraternal twins Dana Bowman and Bast Overture get some of their career history from me. Bast is a former crime reporter and although that wasn’t my main beat, I did write some crime stories. Dana has a history as a freelance PI, which I never did but being a journalist also requires a lot of digging around and interviewing people. And the main police officer in the novel, Detective Sergeant Donald Fielding was inspired by a sergeant when I worked as a clerk for the Toronto Police Services back in the 1970s. I also worked as a secretary in a legal office in the late 1980s. So my secretarial background did more than pay the bills.

Then there are my growing-up years when I became hooked on mystery fiction. My late Mom and I would watch the Perry Mason series (the older one in black and white) on TV every Saturday evening. My mystery reading started before that with Nancy Drew and the Hardy Boys, moving on to Agatha Christie when I was 12 or 13 – and on to many other mystery authors since. I am still reading new mystery authors (new to me) and learning from them.

It goes to show that writing fiction digs back into your past. Who you were, who you have become and your experiences all factor in. As a child I was bullied by both a classmate/friend and one of the nun teachers. So I felt like the underdog – and that is an underlying theme in my mystery writing, especially where children are concerned. But not all children with horrific childhoods come through okay. And I use that too.

Writing fiction also uses my imagination. It is fiction, not fact. The plots can become devious and I should hope original. And the characters… Let’s just say Dana and Bast (Dana, in particular) tend to take over and rule the roost in my fiction writing.

That’s a good thing for me. Fiction writing can get you out of the misery of your life. But it is also a means to have things get solved, some resolution, some closure – which often doesn’t happen in life.

Of course, some things in fiction still carry over into the next book.

Check out my publisher’s website for more info on Beyond Blood www.bluedenimpress.com and also my author blog www.sharonacrawfordauthor.com

And the book cover at the top links to my book on Amazon.

Cheers.

 

Sharon A. Crawford

Only Child Writes

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Filed under Beyond Blood, Mother, mystery novels, Nancy Drew, Only child memoir, Sharon A. Crawford, Uncategorized, Writing

Only Child’s novel to be published fall 2014

Only Child reading from her writing.

Only Child reading from her writing.

My prequel mystery novel, Beyond Blood, will be published this fall by Blue Denim Press, the publishers of my mystery short collection Beyond the Tripping Point. As one of my friends says, “you must be over the moon.”
Yes, but writing is what I do, what keeps me going. Along with gardening, writing helps keep me (somewhat) sane…if writers can even be called sane. Let’s say eccentrically sane.
My writing goes back a long long way – to grade school when I was 11. The Knights of Columbus held an essay writing contest and I came in second. No clue what I wrote about. But I learned a great lesson in friendship. I write about it in my memoir:
My friend, Leslie, is not a writer. After everyone has submitted essays, Leslie and I are walking home.
“My friend, Josie, who’s 13, wrote mine,” she says.
I don’t know what to say.
“Don’t tell anyone,” she says.
A few weeks later, Mrs. Jones announces the winners. My essay came in second and Leslie’s came in first.
Do I rat on her and lose one of my few friends? She cheated. She didn’t write it. I could be first.
She’s your friend. And like you, she doesn’t have many friends.
She’ll dump you..
But she cheated. I wrote my essay myself. She didn’t.
Maybe I could slip Mrs. Jones an anonymous note.
Leslie will know it was you. She won’t want to be your friend.
But I wrote mine myself and she didn’t write hers. She came in first with her fake entry and I came in second with my real one? Is that fair?
Over and over in my mind, the pros and cons teeter and totter….
I keep my mouth shut. Leslie wins the cash prize; we both get to go to the Knights of Columbus District dinner with our parents. Mom and Dad are proud of my accomplishment – my coming in second; I don’t tell them about Leslie’s big cheat. (From You Can Go Home – Digging Up the Dirt, copyright Sharon A. Crawford 2014)
With the publication of Beyond Blood, there are also lessons to be learned. The obvious is to persevere – in writing and pitching your work. For example, this novel went through many, many versions and even the one submitted wasn’t good enough. But my editor and the publisher at Blue Denim Press gave me the benefit of the doubt and let me do another major rewrite and it paid off. Now, of course there are some minor rewrites – but that is par for the course when you get a book published.
The big lesson here unfolds from a synchronicity if you will.
Another mystery novel being published at the same time by Blue Denim Press is one by a longtime writing colleague and also an editing client. My task here is to help him with his book promotion, including doing some joint promo. Two years ago when Beyond the Tripping Point was published I asked for promo help from other writers and got it. Now it’s my turn to flip the coin and do my part to help him make the connections and get the word out there about his book and get some sales. We don’t live in the same city, but that can be worked around.
That’s what it is for writers (besides writing) – we help each other.
Check my other blog for info on Beyond the Tripping Point and its characters – some of them – the fraternal twin PIs are the stars in Beyond Blood. http://www.sharonacrawfordauthor.com

Cheers.
Sharon A. Crawford
Only Child Writes

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Filed under 1960s, Beyond Blood, Life learning, Only child memoir, Sharon A. Crawford, Writers Helping Writers, Writing