Category Archives: Writing

Only Child on writing a memoir using the senses of smell and taste

Mom and Only Child in Backyard

The senses of smell and taste often go together – at least where food is concerned. There are, of course, some smells you definitely don’t want to associate with any taste – like a skunk’s smell.  But maybe that will bring in some taste in your memory. It does for me.

A friend of mine always had at least one dog. And one of these dogs was forever colliding with a skunk. You can imagine the stinky and messy results. My friend used to try to remove the smell by bathing her dog in tomato juice.

Tomato juice is a taste I like and it brings back some memories – my mother growing tomatoes. My mother making some God-awful relish from green tomatoes. My mother calling me to the side door of our house where she stood on the other side with a large tin can in her hand and showing me what was inside the can. Not tomatoes she had picked, but horrible green tomato worms. I remember her laugh here.

So you can see how taste and smell can work together to trigger something from your past. That something might just be a story you want to include in your memoir.

For those writing a memoir, using the six senses to kick start your memoir is one way to get your mind, feelings and emotions (latter two very important) back in your past.

When you walk into a Tim Hortons and smell the coffee, what does that remind you of? And when you taste the coffee? Does that enhance your memory?

This Tuesday, November 21 I’m teaching another workshop on Kick starting your memoir using the six senses. This time I’m at the Forest Hill Library Branch in Toronto. There is still room in the workshop for participants for anyone living in the Toronto Ontario Canada area who is reading this before the workshop time  (2 p.m. to 3.30 p.m.) and day. You can either phone the library at or just show up. More details here.

I’m posting this a day early because the workshop is Tuesday, when I usually post to Only Child Writes.

Cheers.

Sharon

Only Child Writes

 

Sharon’s backyard garden. No green hornworms on my tomato plants.

Advertisements

2 Comments

Filed under 1950s, Family and Friends, Home and Garden, Memoir writing, Writing

Only Child on memoir writing using the six senses

Only Child with Mom and Dad at her godmother’s farm in the early 1960s.

I’m not talking about common sense here, although it could be a seventh sense. And yes there are six senses – sight, taste smell, hearing,  touch, and the sixth is intuition. And I’m teaching two workshops called Kick Start Your Memoir Using the Senses – this Friday, November 17 and next Tuesday, November 21.

As the title suggests we will cover those six areas. But the workshops are geared to the participants, not me, so I find out what they are writing and help them get organized to do so –  with tips on research and putting all that you find together, finding your memoir muse and getting started.

Here’s a peak at one of those things we will cover. First things first.

Why do you want to write a memoir?

Are you writing for family? To get something off your chest? For publication? Discussion using the below for kickoff.

What is the most interesting area of your life that is also different than the usual?  For example, your teen years, did you overcome an addiction, dysfunctional family? Ask yourself: what is your most vivid memory, the memory that evokes the strongest emotion from your childhood, your teens or your young adult years?  Your school years and school friends. Bottom line is focus on your theme or area of your life.

Decide. Hone in on the one that is the strongest and the one you can develop into a memoir. Ask yourself if you learned something from your story – that can be a key to deciding.

In next Tuesday’s blog post we’ll take a peak at one of the senses. But if you are in the Greater Toronto Area, you might want to consider attending a workshop. Both are at Toronto Public Library branches and are free. But you have to register first. Here is the information on my website.

Cheers.

Sharon

Only Child Writes

Teenage Only Child with her Mom

Leave a comment

Filed under Memoir writing, Toronto Public Libraries, Toronto writing seminars, Writing, Writing workshops

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

4 Comments

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 plans to hibernate this winter

shovelling-colorThis winter I plan to do like a bear – hibernate. Not entirely, but I plan to limit my outside time. I hate winter weather – cold, snow, ice storms, blizzards, heavy winds, etc. – with a passion.. Winter sports don’t interest me either. About the only things I like about winter are Christmas and winter fashions.

And it looks like I have picked a winter to do just that. Winter started in Canada over the past weekend in all but eastern and western Canada. Snow, extreme winds and extreme cold – all the ingredients that make me want to hide away inside. That is about three weeks earlier than usual – except maybe for the odd few days of a cold-snow spell the first week of December. It is only November 22 for whomever’s sake.

And The Weather Network’s winter forecast broadcast yesterday (and parts of it online at their website) forecast a more traditional winter for the Canadian Prairies and Ontario and Quebec. That means more Colorado lows (like the one we got over the weekend in Ontario, and maybe worse), lake effect snowstorms, colder temperatures (although not as cold as the winter of 2013-2014). But still too cold for my liking. The screwball part of the forecast (and not faulting the forecasters here, but what they found) is where the warmest parts of Canada will be – the northern territories. All upside down. Climate change? Maybe in part for the northern Canadian areas. But I also factor in what the lady on the bus in May 2015 said – “God controls the weather.” I leave all that for you to ponder.

As for me, once I’ve finished all the extra winter grocery stock-up buying, I am going to try to limit my grocery shopping outings. Not easy when you don’t have a car and can’t afford cabs. After the end of November I’m also limiting social, business and business social outings to two a week – one evening during the week and one day on the weekend. I will try to get out once a day (weather permitting – I don’t want to skate on sidewalks or roads) for a short walk in the neighbourhood. However, I suspect that a lot of my so-called outings will be shovelling the damn snow and putting down salt. (Note to self: ask my son to bring more bags of salt when he and his girlfriend come here for Christmas dinner).

I am also cutting back on what I do. Something I have already started. By weather default, outdoor gardening won’t be on  the agenda. That’s the one I don’t like to eliminate. But I can peruse gardening websites and garden books and catalogues for next spring and summer and experiment on what I try to grow in pots inside (and I don’t mean Mary Jane). Also off the agenda are any reunion lunches, etc. with former classmates, community newspaper colleagues and the like. As I seem to be the one who ends up organizing these (and my attempt at one early this past summer didn’t pan out), that’s out. There will also be a few other things off my list or in the case of email time, sitting with a timer for business email and leaving personal email (unless family emergency or urgency time-wise) until after my business hours.

So, what’s left  not mentioned? Well, writing, writing, writing, client work, and getting teaching and book promo gigs for next spring and afterwards in 2017. Already I have April 2017 booked up and another possibility for either April or June to be sorted out and finalized. Also want to do more reading –  not just books – I do manage to read many books, although my Goodreads account doesn’t indicate this. Hey, that takes time to manouevre through Goodreads to do so – but also magazines and for the weekend newspaper (Saturday and Sunday Toronto Star) finish reading all the sections I do read. I also want to watch TV, try some more recipes (I love to cook and eat too), and do some simple and cheap home decorating like re-arranging, adding a few small accessories.

With some things cut back or out the window (so to speak), I hope to do three things: get back to tracing my ancestry on my late father’s side and continue sorting out shelves, cupboards and drawers in various rooms in the house. I have been doing some of that latter sporadically lately. But I really need to tackle that drawer in my office that is overflowing with old outdated business cards collected over the years. The third thing to do is finish the preparations for my funeral and the like. And just the details like type of memorial (nothing even remotely religious). After all I am not getting any younger and you have to be prepared for these things. Preparing a will and powers of attorney (done here) are not enough these days.

I also intend to get together for a few dinner or lunch or brunch outings with my son and his girlfriend and close friends. Friends include some of my old school buddies. But as part of my twice a week social outings. And no big reunions. No big conventions or shows until the big garden one in mid-March – Canada Blooms.

That’s the plan. But unfortunately the best-made plans get screwed up by outside sources – like weather.

What was it the late John Lennon once said? Something about life being what happens when you are making plans? Actually it comes from a song he wrote about his older son,  Julian – Beautiful Boy.

Cheers

Sharon

Only Child Writes

 

 

Leave a comment

Filed under Dad, Family and Friends, Home and Garden, Life Balance, Only child, Organizing and Deleting, Reading, Snow, Time management, Weather, Winter Weather, Writing

Only Child deals with time stealers

Teddy points out my time being wasted

Teddy points out my time being wasted

I am so fed up with unwanted and unasked for time-stealers. Over the past four months it has been difficult to get things done. Sometimes I feel like I am in freefall, in overwhelm, running around in the proverbial circles. Was it ever like this, even remotely, for my Mom and Dad when I was growing up? You know back in the grey ages in the 1950s and 1960s.

I don’t think so because the world, society moved at a slower pace then and there just weren’t as many “things” happening, so not so much coming at you.

Well, I’ve had way too much going on – a lot of it bad, some of it good, but it needs to be sorted so it’s not all happening at once.

First, the bad – only a short list or we’d be here until doomsday.

My health – this summer I’ve had to deal with sinus/gland infections (still traces but I see improvement with the third natural remedy I’m taking), being stung by a wasp and getting a localized allergic reaction. I’m now on wasp alert and when I killed one the other day I felt a lot of relief, felt the situation had evened out (I know, probably not the actual wasp that stung me), and getting injured from a fall caused by some careless dingbat leaving a picture hanging wire outside. Somebody got cursed then.

Consumer stuff – this is an endless list but I’m only going to focus on travel. The business with VIA rail delay because of US/Canada border problems when I was returning home from Grimsby earlier this month. Now, a much bigger issue is happening locally – Toronto Transit in its “wisdom” is upgrading/renovating two consecutive subway stations at the same time, including closing them to buses and bus platforms and moving the bus boarding a few blocks away in one case. I will enlarge on this one in a future post. Suffice to say I’m composing a letter to the CEO of Toronto Transit about that.

Too much in my life personal and writing going on at the same time.  And much of it not asked for, not expected.

That’s enough complaining for now. So, what am I doing?

First of all I am focusing on the most important to me each month, each week, each day. The rest can go to hell or limbo – for now. I will only take on so much at a time and let others know. If they don’t like it, too bad. My health issues this past summer have taught me that. I have also started to say “no” to things, even if I’ve already signed up for them. Case in point. Signed up for an entrepreneur seminar all day later this month. No cost. But when reason finally prevailed, I realized it starts too early in the morning for me to get out. No, not get up, get out. Some of my health issues are worse in the morning so I can’t get out of here until after 10 a.m. at the earliest. So health first. I’m not attending this seminar.

House and property work (excluding gardening) – I have made a list of who does what and that includes the two handymen. And I ride herd on either of them to get them here to do the job. Also hinging on the when for the main handyman is when I book a furnace cleaning, so the two don’t happen the same day. See what I mean by too much going on at once? I’m also following my cousin Ron’s advice about housework/housecleaning, i.e., lower my standards about what I do and do less. So just basics weekly on weekends – laundry, vacuuming and cleaning kitchen counter, sink and stovetop. Dusting only every four to six weeks and cleaning the bathroom – maybe every two to three weeks. Sorting stuff out – winter project. We are still in fall.

Have also made a gardening – fall cleanup list and am going through it now – this one is a pleasure. Also connected to this is preparing food for the winter and that is not going well – time problems again. I want to dry some of the oregano that’s in the garden and try to dry some apples and bananas. I’ve at least bought the dehydrator (used to have one until it died a few years ago). For fresh vegetables and fruit for the freezer – so far a few corn-on-the cobs I bought at a farmer’s market, plus local wild blueberries purchased from a greengrocers, and the black raspberries and rhubarb from my garden. Still need beans for sure. Problem? Finding time to get to a farmer’s market including when I can actually prepare the vegetables right after purchase. That’s being sorted out after….

I sort out my writing and book promo and speaking engagements. Too many too close together although I’m not complaining about doing well selling  books at Word on the Street on Sunday. But it’s the upcoming stuff – two big ones. Now I plan to focus on one per month – for October my East End Writers’ Group 15th anniversary celebration/presentations. The other one I’m involved with doesn’t happen until the end of November, so my participation in organizing my group’s part (not EEWG) will not start until November 1. I also have to use my timer more – sometimes when a lot of email needs answering (not today – so far) I set the timer and when it rings I only finish the current email. Then there’s my third Beyond mystery book, which I’m not spending enough time writing. That is changing this week.

Some help from God would be appreciated.

To pull it all together I’m doing an update on the A, B, C, and D charts I use. Each has headings like “Don’t want to do/don’t have to do.” That one ties with “Want to Do/Have to Do” as my favourites.

My mother would be proud. She was very organized.

I’d like some comments on how you cope with time management (outside of shooting the clock).

Cheers.

Sharon A. Crawford

Only Child Writes

 

What Only Child is doing with unwanted chores and the like

What Only Child is doing with unwanted chores and the like

Leave a comment

Filed under 1950s, 1960s, Balance, Gardening, God, Health, Help and Support, Home and Garden, Life Balance, Life demands, Mom and Dad, Only child, Prioritizing, Time management, Writing

Only Child on confusion and uncertainty

Garden front of houseI hate confusion and uncertainty. One seems to breed the other. Both lead to worry and anxiety and that is not good for your health.

When I was a little girl I had a re-occurring dream. I would lie on my tummy in my bed and be aware of falling asleep and seeing inside all of the house. What I saw was fire and sometimes floods and Mom, Dad and I trying to collect what we could of our belongings and get out. I always woke up before so never knew how it all ended.

This uncertainty and confusion has carried right through my life. Yes, there have been floods – big and small in the basement of the house I now live in. Perhaps that has something to do with my morbid fascination with the weather. But I think a lot of it has to do with self-preservation. When a threat hits me I go into the fight or flight mode. We know what that does to us, as usually it isn’t some predator (human or animal) after us, although in our bad bad world, it sometimes is. We are usually confronted with a big problem. It could be financial, house-related (besides fire and floods), family and health.

Health is the big one, because this fight or flight mode will get the adrenalin pumping up and raise the cortisol level in our bodies.

Not good.

I am the first to admit that I am a big worry wart. But I come by it honestly, firmly believing I inherited it from my parents, particularly my mother. Mom could win the prize for Worry Wart incarnate. I’m not blaming her, just stating a fact.

This past summer has been extremely bad for health and house problems for me, as well as getting my holidays organized (the three big bad H’s?). Outside factors (read people and situations) are at least 90 percent to blame. Because of a couple of other medical conditions I have a compromised immune system and prolonged and/or heavy worrying effects your immune system. Off and on all summer I’ve been battling sinusitis which spreads into my neck and face glands. It would start improving and be on the road to gone, when poof – it is back again in intensity.

Each time that happens I can link it with some big stress situation caused by somebody or something outside me and my resultant worrying.

Lesson? Several come to mind. I need more sleep (sleep heals) and less stress.

So, I am now swearing on my laptop (I’m not religious, remember, so no Bibles) that I will have less stress in my life. And anyone who causes me stress and grief better watch out.

No, I’m not going to wield the proverbial axe. I’m picking my battles carefully. Sometimes I will go the consumer advocacy route because chances are if I’m experiencing bad rude service, for example, so are others. Other times I’ll just curse the person responsible. And yes, that latter makes me feel better inside.

I am also saying no to requests to do extra jobs and the like. Yesterday I just said “no” to one of those and that was the right thing to do for me now.

And I will continue to spend time in my garden, not just weeding (but naming weeds after the stressors as I yank them out helps) but also sitting out in my garden. Been doing more of that lately. Also writing – nothing like getting the creative juices working to soothe the soul – and transport you into another world. And finding time to meditate and doing so – maybe while in the garden.

How do you deal with stress? Or do you?

 

Cheers.

 

Sharon A. Crawford

Only Child Writes

Hostas late spring/early summer

Hostas late spring/early summer

Leave a comment

Filed under Anxiety, Dad, Gardening and depression, Gardening health benefits, Life Balance, Life demands, Mom and Dad, Only child, Problems, Stress, Uncertainty, Weather, Worrying, Writing

Only Child trudges uphill

Teddy  points out my  time being wasted

Teddy points out my time being wasted

Except for my garden, actually writing and meeting with old friends, this summer seems to be one big uphill venture for me. And that includes last Wednesday’s fall down – yes two days after being stung by a wasp. Then there is this on-again off-again respiratory sinusitis thing and other “normal” for me health issues.

My friends and I keep saying it’s just because we are getting old. I’m wondering if it is just that. We are all getting older and may not be able to do as much in a day as we used to. Our health may not be as good as when we were younger. But to yet again paraphrase that old Peggy Lee song “Is that all there is (to it)?”

My fall last week was 100 per cent someone else’s fault and I don’t mean God. No one pushed me either. But some careless b****** left picture wire outside and it blew onto the sidewalk up the street from me. I was wearing sandals and walking quickly to the main street to catch a bus. Normally I look ahead where I’m going, not on the ground. You guessed it, the unseen (then) wire got caught in a sandal and I went flying forward, sustaining a nasty large bleeding scrape on my right arm up to my elbow, a smaller scrape on my left knee, and bruises, bruises on my arms and legs. I’m still finding more bruises.

Of course with dripping blood from the arm I had to go home and apply first aid. But not before cursing the son of a ***** who left the wire out. So help me, if that person was around/and or I somehow could find out who he or she is, let’s just say they would be sorry.

It’s like I told my friend Carol the next day. This summer I have cursed so many people I don’t know for menacing acts.

It’s just turning into one of those summers, what with house issues and trying to find time to get things done. That includes my writing. When I finish dealing with the injuries and “ill health issues,” trying to organize my holidays and well, just getting out to get groceries it seems, I don’t have as much time to continue writing my third Beyond mystery book and promote the second one, Beyond Blood. Once into promoting and writing I get somewhere, but all that time I have to waste on the problems, etc. aggravates me.

Part of the problem is I have to deal with all of this on my own. No, I never want to live with anyone again, but a live-out partner would be nice.

Anyway, that’s enough ranting for now. I am getting together with some old friends and more of that is in the works. Sometimes looking back is better than looking forward.

And those who keep saying “moving forward” (I hate that overused expression) can take those two words and stuff them

My toonie’s worth.

 

Cheers.

Sharon A. Crawford

Only Child Writes

If only Raggedy Annie could do some house repairs

If only Raggedy Annie could do some house repairs

Leave a comment

Filed under Aloneness, Anxiety, Falls prevention, Health, Health Seniors, Home and Garden, Life demands, Living alone, Old Age, Only child, Seniors, Seniors and falls, Writing