Tag Archives: Writing

Only Child looks for any silver lining

Only child contemplates the world we live in

Only child contemplates the world we live in

The world circa 2015 is going to worse than hell in a hand basket. Try nowhere in a rocket. Even Superman, faster than a speeding bullet, can’t save us.

Every day I wake up to more bad stuff – both in the wider world and personally.

The worst part may be that 90 to 95 per cent I didn’t cause.

Consider the following:

Worldwide: the weather – there is not a place in the world that is safe from extreme weather. Those who follow my blog posts here know who I blame for this (Hint: “dog” spelled backwards). Even waking up to the sun shining doesn’t provide much hope. Think skin cancer, windburn to evergreens, etc.

Worldwide: terrorism, financial debt, unemployment, overuse of too much technology, rudeness as the norm, etc.

Personal: problems with utility companies (don’t get me going here), computer problems, house and yard damage (much due to weather) and resulting financial problems and health problems, time management problems (some of the latter is my fault), etc.

I think you get the picture and it isn’t pretty.

The only solution seems to be to get away from it all – but where to go – a one-way ticket to outer space?

So I “hide” deeper in my writing. But excuse me – first I have to finish going through all the year-end bookkeeping for my business and do the tax stuff. No doubt to get “robbed” by the CRA – more money I don’t have much of to be forked out.

I am polishing up my tin can – a big tin can.

Lottery tickets don’t work for me.

 

Cheers.

Sharon A. Crawford

Only Child Writes

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Filed under Civility, Computer problems, Health, Income Taxes, Only child, Problems, Sharon A. Crawford, Sign of the Times, Technology overload, Technology problems, Uncategorized, Weather, Writing

Only Child and the non-Thanksgiving holiday

Only Child's Garden one of the things she is thankful for.

Only Child’s Garden one of the things she is thankful for

Yesterday was the Canadian Thanksgiving holiday. But it didn’t feel like it. Maybe because I didn’t do a family Thanksgiving dinner because my son was touring with his band Beams over the weekend. Maybe because my son, his girlfriend and I met for dinner instead – last Tuesday evening. We didn’t eat any kind of Thanksgiving dinner. We ate at an Italian restaurant and the closest to a bird was the chicken cacciatore I ate.
Maybe because it didn’t feel like Thanksgiving last Tuesday. We did talk about family matters but it’s not the same as our traditional Thanksgiving dinner with the roast chicken (I’m allergic to turkey). Maybe it’s because the bad still takes over the good in my life and except for a few things I don’t feel that thankful.
Don’t get me wrong. Each day I give thanks for what is good in my life. But I also do the opposite for what is bad in my life. I follow a variation of the rule learned from my Grade 6 teacher – give credit where credit is due (her rule) and discredit where discredit is due (my variation).
The odd thing was that over the weekend as I walked along the streets near home, strangers would wish me a happy Thanksgiving. I didn’t pull the snarky reply but smiled and wished them the same in return. If some people are 100 per cent thankful, I’m not going to burst their balloon.
However, I know that life is not all rosy. Bad happens and I’m still getting more than my share of it. For example, last week, despite my asking God daily to have all the six utilities work 24/7 with no disruptions in service, he didn’t listen. He is not responsible for the services going off, but he is responsible for not listening. “Ask and you shall receive” seems often to be either a crowd thing or if one person asks, i.e. me, I have to shout and shout to be heard. I am told I have to be specific in my requests, what I put out there and I am and what do I get? Nearly two days of no phone or Internet service because of Bell Canada. The ding-a-ling company had a corroded cable up a pole. That’s all I’m going to say about that now as it is fodder for another full blog post.
Like I said above I am thankful for a few things – my son and his girlfriend, my house (except for what needs fixing), my garden, this lovely summer-weather day today, my health (what is still good about it), my writing, editing and writing teaching/tutoring business.
Speaking of my writing, I am really really thankful that Blue Denim Press just published another book of mine this fall – my first mystery novel Beyond Blood. The book launch for it is this coming Sunday, October 19, from 3 p.m. to 5 p.m. at Paintbox Bistro in Toronto, Ontario, Canada. If you are in the area then, please come to the book launch, which also launches another first mystery novel – Dead Wrong by Klaus Jakelski. More details at http://www.bluedenimpress.com
I will be blogging more about it this Thursday on my author blog http://www.sharonacrawfordauthor.com
And check out my son’s band Beams at http://beamstheband.com/

Cheers.
Sharon A. Crawford
Only Child Writes

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Filed under Family, God, Health, Only child, Prayer, Thanksgiving

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 tries to grab control of her time – again

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

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

If shooting the clock would tame my time I’d do it. However, Mr. and Mrs. Clocks are not the guilty parties. The culprits are having too much to do, especially when some of that is because others are butting in and/or just not doing their job. It is literally making me sick and stealing my sleep time.

I’m fed up with picking up other’ slack and putting up with others’ unnecessary interference – in my personal and work life. So, I’m on the warpath again.

Sometimes I think life is a spiralling whirlwind with no jump off point – unless you want to be drastic and do the proverbial cliff thing.

Not me. I prefer to tackle the culprits, despite the feelings of dread, weariness, anger, guilt and frustration for starters. I’m tired of being dragged down. I want my life back. I want my health back. I want this viral respiratory infection (now in my neck glands) to go away – permanently. I figure without all the stress and with regular sufficient sleep it would never have gone beyond the sinusitis stage, which lasted only three or four days. Then it hibernated and surfaced in the glands. I’m taking a natural remedy to help get rid of it. But I need to do more.

For the house repair stuff , I may not be able to control what needs repairing but I will control what I deal with, when and who else gets involved. So, if I’m focusing on getting one repair done (including the actual doing) the rest takes a back burner and maybe some of the people bugging me about it get ignored permanently.

Some writing colleagues are not doing their job where it is connected to what I do – so I am left to pick up their slack, which I’ve been doing with many worries about how to rectify the situation. Despite reminder emails I’m greeted with silence. So, now I will try the old-fashioned way – use the phone.

Getting more sleep – only one area needs improvement on my part – getting to bed a bit earlier. Here, I need to stop doing household chores after the 11 p.m. news. Once the weather report is finished and I turn the TV off, all that should be left to do is get ready for bed and go to bed.

The other sleep problem is not under my control. My boarder insists on getting up between 4 a.m. to 6 a.m. whenever her cat wakes her up to be fed. Sometime that wakes me up and I have trouble getting back to sleep before my alarm goes off three of so hours later. If that were me, I’d stall feeding the cat – other cat owners do this. But then, I’m not a cat owner, so what do I know?

The weather – and I’ve posted my feelings and beliefs on this one before. Just when I was getting into gardening and being able to sit outside away from everything going on inside, get some privacy and peace, we get snow today. It will melt but I’m stuck inside and back to “hiding” in the living room, with door closed, to sip my morning coffee and read the newspaper or a magazine. In real spring and summer, I sit outside on the patio and read and also eat breakfast and lunch, and perhaps dinner. Now, I’m back to eating breakfast with answering email (with my office door closed).

I find my garden – just being in it – and my writing, reading and walking sooths this savage beast – for a time. Maybe I’m crazy, but I actually enjoy rewriting my mystery novel – the one getting published later this year – even following the editor at my publisher’s suggestions (well, most of them). Perhaps it’s being one with my creative process and shutting out the miserable world around me.

But it helps.

Not today, though. Today, it’s back to another hateful job – working on my 2013 tax returns – which I don’t file electronically. You don’t dare do that with the Heartbleed virus. And getting after one of my writing colleagues to do his job so I can do mine.

Shooting the clocks won’t work anyway. I have only a small water gun.

How do others tame their time? Suggestions are welcome. Let’s share our ideas, especially what works.

Cheers.

Sharon A. Crawford
Only Child Writes

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Filed under Balance, Health, Life demands, Only child, Overwhelm, Prioritizing, Sharon A. Crawford, Stress, Time management

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

Only Child says winters no longer fun and Memoir Writing

Only Child  rests before doing more battle with companies screwing the consumer

Only Child contemplates winters back then and now.

As we drag ourselves kicking and screaming through this horrible winter that keeps on dumping, I can’t help remembering normal winters like the ones when I was growing up in the 50s and 60s. Actually even up to the last nine or 10 years, winters still were somewhat normal. But to go back to “then” as we do when writing memoir, here is an excerpt from my memoir about what winter had to offer and how Mom, Dad and I enjoyed winter. It’s about ice-skating also appropriate because of the current Winter Olympics at Sochi.

When I was six, Mom and Dad did collaborate when they decided I needed to learn to ice skate. Dad made the ice rink and Mom got me moving on it.

Dad turns on the hose and out pours cold water. Overnight it freezes on the dormant grass in the backyard. I never think how the water passes through the hose. Wouldn’t it be frozen? Did Dad put his ear to the radio and listen to the weather reports to see when the daytime temperature sat around freezing (32 degrees Fahrenheit then) or just below? When night falls, so does the temperature and in the morning – magic – instant skating rink.

Then Dad turns it over to Mom. 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.(Excerpted from You Can Go Home, Copyright 2014, Sharon A. Crawford)

You can see how I felt then about skating on ice. But it was a positive experience. So, let’s put it forward to compare with my feelings on winter today.

This winter, especially the great ice storm that hit southern Ontario from Dec. 22, 2013 has left me feeling that our world is no longer safe – anywhere. We constantly have to be on hyper-guard, especially with the weather. I felt scared to panicky, and yes very angry that this is what got thrown at us (and you can take your pick where/who to put the blame for this). Skating was not something to look forward to as everywhere you went there was ice. I no longer have my ice skates and probably in my senior years would wobble around and fall.

So the only positive spin I can put on winter is the Olympics at Sochi, especially the figure skating. And I wish Patrick Chan, Tessa Virtue and Scott Moir had won gold, but I’m still proud they won silver.

If you are in the Toronto, Ontario Canada area and want to learn more about writing a memoir, I am teaching a memoir writing workshop, Saturday, February 22, 2014, 9.30 a.m. to 4.30 p.m..  Here are some details:

Getting your Memoir off the Ground:

Presented by the East End Writers’ Group

Always wanted to write your family’s story or your story but need some motivation and guidance? Sharon A. Crawford, who conducts Memoir Writing workshops for the Toronto Public Library, will teach this one-day expanded workshop on Memoir Writing. After a brief review of kick-starting your memoir using the senses, this hands-on workshop takes the writer into the nitty-gritty of writing the memoir. You will learn how to organize your memoir’s content, do research and work it into your memoir, deal with family flak, and not only start writing your memoir, but write an actual chapter and have it critiqued.  Handouts provided. Bring photos and other memorabilia, pen and paper or the electronic equivalent.

Check out the full details on my website at www.samcraw.com (click on Speaker’s Bureau).

Cheers.

Sharon A. Crawford

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Filed under 1950s, 1960s, Ice Skating, Ice storm Toronto, Mom and Dad, Only child memoir, Winter Weather

Only Child on the creative side of writing memoir

 Only Child as a toddler  with Mom in the backyard

Only Child as a toddler with Mom in the backyard

Memoir is non-fiction so it has to be factual and perhaps dull? No, no, no.

True, you have to get information you include such as statistics and dates of birth of family members correct. However, you are telling your story, what you remember. The key word is “story.” In fiction, stories are made-up and  creative (or should be). And that creativity (but not the made-up part) can be applied to certain types of non-fiction such as narrative non-fiction and memoir. For narrative non-fiction consult an expert writer in that area, such as Ken McGoogan who has written several award-winning books in that vein and teaches the subject at the University of Toronto. See http://kenmcgoogan.blogspot.ca/p/home_11.html

Your memoir should be your truth but should read like fiction. Here is a brief example from my memoir-in-the-works You Can Go Home: deconstructing the demons (and I want to change that title as well).

One night, late, loud pounding on the front door wakes Mom, Dad and me. Like the servant heeding the master, we all trip out to the front. Mother turns on the veranda light and yanks the door open.

 “Do you know this man?” A police officer stands on our veranda. His right hand supports the shoulder of a dishevelled man.

“Uh, home,” the man says.

The stench of his breath assaults my nostrils and I jump back behind my mother, but nudge my head out. The man’s black hair lies flat and oily. Night shadow and red compete for attention on his face. He is bare from his neck to his dark trousers and when I look closer, I see blood streaking down from a deep slice on his left cheek and dribbling onto his chest. His eyes look bloody and vague, at least what I can see of them. A black mass hovers above his left eye.

“Home?” he asks again.

“Sharon, go back to bed,” Dad says. “This is not for little girls.”

But I am both fascinated and repulsed. I lean out a little further. Who is this man?  Copyright 2014 Sharon A. Crawford)

This reads like fiction, but it is what happened (as far as my memory can well, remember). Fiction tools used are:

Dialogue – although with memoir you don’t have to remember it word for word. Dialogue shows the reader how you saw the people in your life and how you spoke then. Try to make your dialogue consistent with your age back then. Unless you were a child genius you probably didn’t talk like an adult. Also remember to use appropriate slang for the time period. “Awesome” wasn’t used back in the 1950s and 1960s – at least according to my memory.

The people involved are presented as characters with traits. For example, I’m shy and hide behind my mother. Dad tries to protect me. The man at the door is shown as drunk with how he looks to me and there is one word of dialogue from him.

Point of View – usually with memoir it is the memoir writer’s  (you) POV but if you are writing about your parents and their story, you can use third person. Here it is my point of view. And as mentioned in last week’s post, your point of view can change now from when it was then. The trick is to put yourself back to that child you were at whatever age your story occurs and write from there. This is what I did here. With some of your scenarios, what you know and think now may be scurring around in your mind. It’s okay to add a bit of that, but make sure you word it as today’s take. This often works for comparison. But I wouldn’t use it for every scenario as it can get tedious. Some memoirs will cover the time-line gap, so today’s view could go in chronologically.

With fiction, I find many authors whose book manuscripts I edit, mix up their point of view use. Point of View doesn’t usually present as much of a problem in memoir because you are telling your story.

You can combine scenarios to a certain extent. For example, at the reception at home after my Dad’s funeral, I combine something one of my aunt’s said at another time (no story with the actual time she said it) with certain other things actually said at the reception. I was contrasting Mom’s country-born family with Dad’s city-born family and the interaction of the two “species.”

Which bring me to my final tip – as mentioned in last week’s post, each chapter should focus on one topic and its theme. For example, I have a chapter that focuses on gardening with my mother and father and its connection with our religious beliefs back then. So, no going on tangents here about what happened in school – those stories go into a different chapter or two or three. However, I do get into some of my friends I hung around with where it is connected to gardening and religion. When my friends and I played with our dolls outside in the backyard, we used to pull leaves off the trees and shrubs for the dolls’ food. My dad would charge out into the backyard and give us hell for doing so. Next day we’d be over at one of my friends in her backyard and get into a discussion about religion – she was Baptist and I was Catholic.

You see, how you can weave in your stories.

The above should give you some ideas about writing your memoir creatively. If you are in the Toronto area and want to learn more, I am teaching a memoir writing workshop, Saturday, February 22, 2014.  Here are some details:

Getting your Memoir off the Ground:

Presented by the East End Writers’ Group

Always wanted to write your family’s story or your story but need some motivation and guidance? Sharon A. Crawford, who conducts Memoir Writing workshops for the Toronto Public Library, will teach this one-day expanded workshop on Memoir Writing. After a brief review of kick-starting your memoir using the senses, this hands-on workshop takes the writer into the nitty-gritty of writing the memoir. You will learn how to organize your memoir’s content, do research and work it into your memoir, deal with family flak, and not only start writing your memoir, but write an actual chapter and have it critiqued.  Handouts provided. Bring photos and other memorabilia, pen and paper or the electronic equivalent.

Check out the full details on my website at

http://www.samcraw.com/Articles/SpeakersBureau.html

Cheers.

Sharon A. Crawford

Only Child Writes

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Filed under 1950s, 1960s, Family, Memoir content, Memoir writing, Mom and Dad