Libraries—homes away from home

Today I have author Sharon A. Crawford with me on Moving Target. Sharon is a big fan of public libraries. Please tell us why, Sharon.

sharonacrawford-smallBefore I wrote crime fiction, I was a freelance journalist. In the early part of my career, when I was writing for local newspapers in York Region, one of my editors told me, “Whenever I think of you, Sharon, I think of libraries.”

I looked at him as if he had lost his mind.

But he was right. Many of my articles were about events and lectures at  library branches in Aurora, Newmarket and Bradford, Ontario. For other articles I wrote, my local library was often where I did my research. Not surprising, because I was introduced to the S. Walter Stewart branch near my home in Toronto when I was a child. It became my second home.

That branch is still my second home since I moved back to Toronto in 1998. That’s because librarians have a wealth of knowledge to share with writers—finding that elusive book, finding information on just about any subject, finding a favourite author’s new work and providing a venue to meet readers.

On Wednesday, June 29, Rosemary McCracken, Madeleine Harris-Callway and I will be at the S. Walter Stewart branch on a panel titled “Making Your Short Stories Sparkle and Sell,” courtesy of librarian Janet Nanos.

To backtrack a little, I have been running the East End Writers’ Group since September 2000. For 13 years, we met for writing critique sessions in the living room of my small bungalow, and celebrated our 10th and 13th anniversaries with author presentations at S. Walter Stewart branch. In the fall of 2013, I decided we needed to move out my home for space reasons. After meeting at two commercial venues that subsequently went out of business, Janet asked if we’d like to meet in the S. Walter Stewart auditorium.

Now the East End Writers Group is an established S. Walter Stewart library program. I run the meetings and decide on their content, and the library and I share publicity duties. Our meetings usually consist of critiquing members’ writing, and since we moved to a public library, more talented writers are signing up with the group. Each member reads up to five pages of poetry, prose, plays or non-fiction, even opera (although not the musical score), and other members provide constructive feedback. Many of our members have been professionally published since joining the group.

I learn a lot from the group, and I’m sure many of my stories would not have been published without this constructive criticism.

In April, we had writer and sculptor Ann Elizabeth Carson present a memoir-writing workshop. Combining her art and writing backgrounds, she had us draw, with coloured crayons,memories from our past. Then we had to hold up our drawings, and discuss our stories with the group.

Rosemary, Madeleine and I won’t be holding a drawing workshop on Wednesday, but we will be discuss how we craft our stories with audience members, where our ideas come from, and we’ll try to answer that burning question, “Why do you write?” We’ll also share our marketing techniques. We hope both writers and readers will attend this event.

Thank you, Sharon! Hope we have a great turnout on Wednesday. The starting time is 7 p.m. at the S. Walter Stewart branch, 170 Memorial Park Ave. in Toronto. For more information, call the library at 416-396-3975 or email Sharon Crawford at

For a larger look at the importance of libraries and librarians, check out the Toronto Public Libraries’ website. Toronto has 100 library branches that offer programs for all ages on subjects from art to wellness.

Sharon A. Crawford is a memoir and fiction writer, writing consultant and instructor, blogger, book reviewer, editor and actor. She is author of the Beyond mystery series: the short story collection Beyond the Tripping Point (Blue Denim Press, 2012), and her first novel Beyond Blood (Blue Denim Press, 2014). She has appeared with her Beyond books with other Crime Writers of Canada authors at libraries and cafes; her Beyond protagonist, Dana Bowman, has appeared shown up at book launches, fundraisers and other events. Sharon teaches writing workshops and courses at various Toronto Public Library branches. She belongs to Sisters in Crime, the Toronto Heliconian Club, and runs the East End Writers’ Group. Her hobbies, reading, walking and gardening, are catalysts for her writing. Follow Sharon on Facebook, on her website, and on her blog.

About rosemarymccracken

Rosemary McCracken is a Toronto-based fiction writer.
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