Category Archives: Beyond the Tripping Point

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 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 runs into outside obstacles

Me in 1950 - up against the barbed wire fence, a good analogy for worrying

Me in 1950 – up against the barbed wire fence, but I won’t let that stop me from removing obstacles

The past few days I’ve run up against screw-ups from “outside” – organizations, businesses, and individuals who have messed up in whatever they are doing connected to me. As mentioned in my last post, lack of money causes me lots of stress. But so is what causes the lack of money – or at least the worry about it.

The biggest screw-up is with CRA (Canadian Revenue Agency – the Canadian equivalent of the US IRS). First CRA messed up with my return which went in on time (April 30) and I paid what I calculated as owing even though I had to “steal” the amount from my fast dwindling RRSPs.

Six weeks later I receive a Notice of Assessment. That’s customary. But mine had recalculated the Canadian Pension Payment for my self-employment and they wanted $148. more payable by June 30, 2013 or I’d get charged interest.

Huh? It was obvious they didn’t calculate it on my net income but what amount they used I can’t figure out. Their Notice of Assessment explanation didn’t enlighten. June 13 I called the CRA customer service (or whatever it is called) and Lisa told me there was definitely something wrong with the amount calculated and not to pay it. She said it would take at least four weeks to sort it out and in the meantime until the computer system was updated the “payment” could come off my GST etc. rebated in July.

The payments didn’t come off and I received my list of future payment dates and the amounts.

Then I got embroiled in a lot of other issues (some shoved at me that I had to deal with). There was the construction going on outside include digging up a small area in my front lawn. This nonsense even interfered with another issue – my appointment with my lawyer to update my will because one of the beneficiaries had to be changed. I moved the lawyer’s appointment to the next day. Because I was in the same general area of Toronto, I stopped into Service Canada to hand in my application for Old Age Security. I do this because it’s faster to get it rolling and for someone to check over the form. Yes, I had missed something which the Service Canada clerk caught. (Some of them are pretty smart – it’s the higher ups who seem to be screwing up). And it has been approved – payments to start January 2014. Then I got a boarder (two, counting her cat) temporarily until she can get into Public Housing. This is a friend and I didn’t want to see her stuck. There has been some adjustment but we work it out – so far anyway.

Fast forward (which seems like my summer this year) to last Friday when I suddenly remembered I hadn’t heard back from CRA. Over the weekend I checked my files – nope, nothing. So I worried about getting stuck with paying some outrageous sum with interest.

Monday (yesterday) I phoned CRA and found out as I figured, Lisa did her job – she sent it on to the Tax Centre. But the jerks in the Tax Centre just started looking at the inquiry last Friday, Sept. 19 – a little over three months since I inquired. (I can see the synchronicity or whatever about the timing when I thought about it.) The customer service rep could only tell me that much. For the status until they actually do something and it shows up on the computer system, she had no info. She suggested calling in a few days. She also answered my questions about paying interest. If it is $2 or less it isn’t considered. But there is a form to fill out if you want to dispute paying the interest. I had told her this wasn’t a Sharon Crawford mistake but a CRA mistake and I would pay any correct extra I owed but I’m not paying any interest.

Last week I switched my annual high payment of house insurance premium to monthly off a credit card. Thought that was all settled when yesterday I received a letter (regular mail) from the insurance agent that there is a $.75 monthly service charge and a $2. Setup charge. Neither is a lot and I don’t mind paying them. But why wasn’t I told about those service charges in the first place? One more phone call to steal my time

No wonder I’m jaded, cynical, pessimistic (some of the time) and angry. I have a right to be. I don’t know if my late mother had to deal with crap like this.

On a brighter note, I finally picked up the time management book I had on hold from the library. This one I requested in print instead of e-copy because unless there’s a hold on it, I get nine weeks (two renewals) to read it. Should give me enough time to read it Yes, I see the irony.

But I ran into an obstacle there. The library system couldn’t check out my books (I added a mystery fiction) because my library card would run out during that time. I spoke to a librarian and first she added a temporary three week extension and suggested I come in next week with some ID with my address on it. None of my cards has that. I don’t drive, so I guess I’m discriminated against here all over. But I did some fast talking, mentioning that one of the main branch librarians could vouch for me and I taught workshops at this branch (both true) so she automatically renewed the card for a year. I don’t get nasty with librarians. However, why don’t we get email notifications of library card renewals due. The library sends other notices – holds (e-books and print) and book dates coming up.

But I have started using another tool to tame time. Will report next post next week.

I’m currently living on sales from my mystery short story collection Beyond the Tripping Point which is a good thing for sales but what does it say about the overall income picture?

For those interested check out my profile on amazon.com Just click on the book icon below.

Cheers.

Sharon A. Crawford

Only Child Writes

Beyond the Tripping Point Cover 72dpi

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Filed under Anxiety, Beyond the Tripping Point, Life demands, Money, Only child, Persistence, Problems, Sharon A. Crawford, Short story writing, Worrying

Only Child leans toward being wary

Only Child contemplates the trust issue

Only Child contemplates the trust issue

The wariness/trust issue took a different turn this weekend. I need to rethink my attitude here because guess what? I got betrayed.

For the winter I had hired someone to shovel the snow when more than just a few centimetres landed. Last Thursday evening into Friday, Toronto and other southern Ontario regions got blasted with a blizzard – 30 centimetres plus of snow. The fellow who was supposed to shovel the snow showed up twice to do it and afterwards made two points of knocking on my door promising to finish the rest – first he was going to shovel first thing the next morning. Of course he didn’t. He showed up early afternoon and said he would be back after lunch to do it and for me to just leave it for him to do – he’d be back in a couple of hours. He also made a point of all the seniors he shovelled snow for and that he couldn’t let them down.

If I’d have waited, I’d still be waiting. After five hours I went out there and hacked away at the snow still in the driveway, sidewalk and by two sides of the house. Sunday I was out there trying to remove the pile-up left at the end of the driveway (the sidewalk plough had removed some overnight) and the snow (layer by layer) over the two cache basins (but not the road spanning out from them). Then I went inside and phoned the 311 number for the City of Toronto and complained about the snow plough dumping the snow over the cache basins.

As for my “trusty” snow shoveller, because I prepaid for some of the weekend’s shovelling (I know; shouldn’t do this) he owes me at least half price for another snow shovelling job. Forecast is for a fair bit of snow here in a week. If he shows up I’ll get my half price deal and then I’m going to fire him with a lecture.

I also now know where he lives so am debating whether to bang on his door.

In the “good old days” when I was a child (back in the grey ages), my dad shovelled the snow and after he died Mom did the job until we moved into an apartment. As most of you know, I’m an “only person” here, so those two words are my key.

People have to earn my trust. Some close family and friends have, but some friends have messed up the trust issue as I’ve blogged before. Some clients also can be trusted. But for others – I will put on my journalism hat and be wary.

Unfortunately, as my late mother-in-law used to say, “that is the way of the world.”

On a lighter note, I will be taking my mystery short story collection Beyond the Tripping Point (Blue Denim Press, 2012) to the Runnymede Branch of the Toronto Public Library this evening to do a presentation and reading featuring my eccentric characters and quirky plots. At least here I have some control over what happens – the ones doing wrong get their just desserts in some way. For those in the Toronto area, my reading presentation starts      at 6.30 p.m. and the address is 2178 Bloor St. West, Toronto. More info on my Beyond the Tripping Point web page http://www.samcraw.com/Articles/BeyondtheTrippingPoint.html

And you can see and hear me read one of these stories, “The Body in the Trunk” at http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=pgOKYgBfAwY&feature=youtu.be

Cheers.

Sharon A. Crawford

Only Child Writes

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Filed under Aloneness, Betrayal, Beyond the Tripping Point, Friends, Learning Experience, Life learning, Living alone, Mom and Dad, Only child, Sharon A. Crawford, Snow Removal, Trust

Only Child on time and money dilemma

Only Child will no longer sit on time like this teddy bear

Only Child will no longer sit on time like this teddy bear

Time or the lack of enough is worrying me. This time (pun intended) it is connected to money. Already I’m juggling editing one client’s work with trying to finish the rewrite of my novel which my publisher wants to see and doing PR (including workshop related prep) for my first published book, Beyond the Tripping Point. Two more ongoing clients’ work are due to arrive for editing the beginning of February. So far, I think I can manage the time with all of this (and it is all work I enjoy doing). However, I have another repeat client needing another book edited. The catch here is the book is very long; the timeline is very short, and the client has a budget. The money part? I may need this potential client’s money to pay bills next month.

Such is the dilemma of freelancers who work on contract. Add in my situation (which some others have too) – what I call “only person,” I have to factor in personal and house stuff which beyond the odd snow shovelling job, I can’t afford to pay someone else to do. I do try to limit how much I do, but still I am up late doing bits and pieces of housework that needs doing before morning.

Then there are people who want free writing and editing advice and take up my phone and email time. Right now I deal with this on a priority basis – if it doesn’t look like it might lead to work or it’s beyond a reasonable follow-up to work already done, I reply when I can squeeze it in. This may sound harsh, but to borrow a phrase, “business is business.” Or as someone once said, “I’m not running a charity.”

Which brings me to the prospective client with the large book and my time constraints (which this person knows about – right now the situation is at a “maybe”). I will have to expand my parameters – money- and time-wise and if it doesn’t work with this person, then so be it. I will need to hope that the other editing prospects delayed because the rewriting of the manuscript is taking longer than expected (and I understand that from personal experience) will come my way sometime later in February. I will manage on what I have even if it means yet another hit on the decreasing RRSPs. I am my late mother’s child after all. Mom didn’t work (it was the 1950s and early to mid-1960s) until my dad was in the last stages of brain cancer – and after he died her arthritis kicked in and forced her to quit working. Mom was very good at budgeting and making do with what she had.

One more year until I can collect the Old Age Pension – I received my application yesterday and that will get filled out and sent in this week.

Next year I hope to cut back on the editing, even though I like doing it, and focus more on writing and writing workshops and readings, as well as other PR.

To paraphrase my mother’s making do with what she had, I am good at making do with what I don’t have.

And as I’ve mentioned promoting my book Beyond the Tripping Point, below is  a link to a three-minute video of me reading an excerpt from one of its short stories, “The Body in the Trunk” when I appeared on the Liquid Lunch Show on http://www.thatchannel.com

Book is available in print and e-copy at both http://www.amazon.com and http://www.amazon.ca as well as other venues.

Cheers.

Sharon A. Crawford

Only Child Writes

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=pgOKYgBfAwY&feature=youtu.be

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Filed under Anxiety, Balance, Beyond the Tripping Point, Budget and budgeting, Decision Making, Life learning, Mom and Dad, Old Age pensions, Prioritizing, Self employed and cash flow, Sharon A. Crawford

Only Child on weather and moods

Only Child on patio - not quite like this in January but warm enough for a light jacket.

Only Child on patio – not quite like this in January but warm enough for a light jacket.

What a difference a day’s weather makes. Last Saturday I woke up to the sun shining and the temperatures rising. Toronto hit a record high of 15 degrees Celsius and the next day temperatures reached the same. Only difference was Sunday started out grey and rainy – but that soon dissipated into sun patches. Didn’t matter to me. I noticed a big boost in my mood and attitude especially when I saw the snow melting.

I took full advantage of the day – walking to and from the grocery store (about a mile and a quarter all tolled), and went out in the garden. In January I dug up some of the turnips and carrots still out there, found two green onions, and clipped some euonymus branches (a pretty pink, white and green blend) which I placed in small vases to eventually replace two poinsettias which will soon be finished for the season.

And I sat outside on my patio to eat lunch and read the newspaper.

In  the middle of January.

Sure beats the winter blahs. I don’t get it as bad as those who suffer from Seasonal Affective Disorder (SAD) and need to use artificial light therapy to raise their spirits (see http://www.mayoclinic.com/health/seasonal-affective-disorder/DS00195 for more info). The most I get is feeling cranky about the dark days with some energy loss at different times. I also resent the short days and long nights so when we get sun (even with the cold weather) the whole day looks different…as long as we don’t get snow.

Snow may look pretty when it first falls down – until the road ploughs and salters do their work. Sloshing through slush and skating on ice patches don’t sit too well with me – in fact that is the position I sometimes end in thanks to these weather conditions.

I don’t do winter sports – skiing, snowboarding or even ice-skating. I used to do the latter in my “earlier years” (and that includes as a young adult) but gave it up because it was too cold for my comfort and enjoyment. Twenty years ago I gave away my figure skates to a co-worker for her daughter.

It wasn’t that way when I was a child. My father hosed down the front part of the backyard and overnight it became instant skating rink. Mom was determined to teach me to ice skate – it took two winters, when I was seven and when I was eight. I’ll leave you with this brief excerpt from my memoir about skating as a child.

Like a dance instructor trying to teach steps to a nervous wannabe, she grabs my hands and tries to get me in motion.

“Come on Sharon. Just slide your feet, one foot in front of the other.”

My feet, tucked tightly into new white figure skates, scrape and totter along the ice and my fingers dig into her hands, my mittens no protection for the hard petrified squeeze they give her. I do not want to fall. I might break a leg. I’m terrified of losing control, so I continue to cling to Mom as she steps backward, sometimes in her rubber boots and sometimes in an old pair of Dad’s black hockey skates. I follow forward like a drunken clown.

Two winters of this private slide and lurch pass. The December I turn eight arrives.

“You’re ready for Dieppe Park,” Mom says. (excerpted from You Can Go Home: Deconstructing the Demons, copyright 2013 Sharon A. Crawford)

Happy winter.

During the dark days of winter, please check out the video of my interview about my short story writing and mystery short story collection Beyond the Tripping Point (Blue Denim Press, October 2012). Interview was with Hugh Reilly on Liquid Lunch (thatchannel.com) which my son finally edited and my publisher posted to You Tube. Here is the link – you can watch it here or click on the You Tube button and watch it on You Tube

Cheers.

Sharon A. Crawford

Only Child Writes

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Filed under Beyond the Tripping Point, Family, Gardening, Ice Skating, Mom and Dad, Only child memoir, Sharon A. Crawford, short story collection, Snow, Winter blahs

Only Child’s Creativity comes from where?

Only Child’s late Mom – a creative influence

I’m continuing in this creativity vein from last week’s post. There are other areas where my creativity has saved me many times in many areas of my life – problem-solving, juggling clients, and of course writing.

This got me wondering. Just where did my creativity come from?

My mother? She tended to take after the practical side of her family – the Schefters and was good in the business and budgeting end. However, she was also a Strauss (no relation to the 1800s’ composer Johannes Strauss – but our Strauss ancestors came from the same Black Forest neck of the woods). Mom’s creativity showed up in how she approached honesty and got me involved in it. In my memoir, Chapter 5 , “Mom’s Ten Rules of Honesty,” Mom was determined that I would get my just desserts, so she created this story.

“Eat your dessert or the police will come and get you,” Mom says. She points to the front door and nods her head like I better do it or else the Black Maria will roll up the driveway and scoop me up into its dark interior.

I stare down at my bowl. Stewed huckleberries and apples. Black smashed berries and their dark juice seep through the apples. Yuck. Smothering the stew in vanilla ice cream can’t hide the taste of huckleberries, a taste that sits in the middle between sweet and bitter. But Mom insists on growing these strange berries in her garden.

“Sharon, did you hear me?” Mom gets up from the kitchen table, scurries into the living room and stares out the front window. “Oh, I can see a police car coming up the street; it’s turning into the driveway.”

I start to shovel the mixture down my throat. Then I jump up and take my turn at the living room window. Down the street, Mare’s father cuts his front lawn; Mrs. Armstrong sits on her front veranda, with her collie dog at her feet, and a couple of finned cars cruise up the road towards the dead-end street. Our driveway at 139 lolls in its usual empty state. When I finally get the nerve to look straight down at the veranda outside the window, all I see are the two Muskoka chairs – vacant. (Excerpted from You Can Go Home – Deconstructing the Demons, copyright 2012 Sharon A. Crawford).

Mom was also supportive of my creativity – writing and teaching. Maybe that’s partly it – heredity and support. The rest is my own doing.

I try to live my life creatively. When you are an “only person” and have to depend on yourself, you have to be creative. Finances and budgeting are especially important. Sure, there are financial planners and advisers and I do get advice from the experts. But I have to decide how to bring in the money and how to use it best. Sometimes I do well at it and other times not so well. Perhaps the biggest most recent hurdle was last December when I had to live on under $1,000 – including “stealing” from the money saved to pay off my glasses when the year’s financial payment grace period ran out. Fortunately that turned into 13 months because of the timing of ordering my glasses the previous year and Sears billing date.

It also meant working hard to get more clients so in January things turned around and I got out from under.

Juggling clients when you are running your own business also requires creativity. I’ve had to learn tact (definitely not inherited from Mom), time management (still learning), and when to say “no” (especially to clients and would-be clients who want freebie work done). Then there is the bane of most of us unless we live in the dark ages – computer problems. I can’t solve most of mine – but I use my creativity to figure out what to do (after swearing a lot) – call in a computer techie, figure it out for myself, etc.

House and property problems require the same type of creativity – to do or to delegate. I do both but the former has tried my creativity and I’ve learned that sometimes what you think you can’t do, you can. However, I still won’t climb up on a ladder beyond my height (5’ 1”) because of Vertigo. That’s being practical so I can survive to be creative.

What are some of the ways you live creatively?

I may delve more into creativity in next week’s post.

Meantime, take a look at my latest creative effort – my debut collection of mystery short stories Beyond the Tripping Point. Click on the book cover below for more information.

Cheers.

Sharon A. Crawford

Only Child Writes

Only Child aka Sharon A. Crawford’s debut short story collection

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Filed under Beyond the Tripping Point, Budget and budgeting, Computer problems, Decisions, Living alone, Memoir content, Mother, Only child memoir, Problem solving, Sharon A. Crawford, short story collection