It’s a bit embarrassing, but I’ve lived in Toronto for over thirty-five years and knew little about Crothers Woods until I wrote The Case for Killing. But I needed a spot for thoughts of foul play and started investigating. It was so new to me that, until the book’s last draft, I called the area “Crowther’s Woods”.
Crothers Woods is just northeast of downtown. The City of Toronto describes it as a 52-hectare maple-beech-oak woodland (128.5 acres) in the Don River valley. According to the city, parts of the forest remain in much the same condition as before European settlement. Closer to the Don, there are meadows and wetlands. It’s also home to a wide variety of birds.
The area is owned by the Toronto and Region Conservation Authority and managed by Toronto’s Parks and Forestry Department. It’s seen a remarkable recovery in recent years. Industry continued to operate there into the 1970s and 1980s, including the area’s namesake, Crothers Caterpillar. Now, while remaining a bit of a secret, Crothers Woods features about ten kilometres of natural surface trails for walkers, runners and mountain cyclists.
For The Case for Killing, the runners interested me most. I imagined a person living in Leaside with a running route down Bayview Avenue, into Crothers Woods and back home via Millwood Road. A running route that could be very lonesome and dangerous.
That got me interested in the area of Crothers Woods close to Bayview Avenue. Here are pictures of the sign and trail at the walk-in entrance.
Much has been written about the choice a writer has between legacy publishing and self-publishing.
In my third blog stream, I’m going to wade into this giant debate with a series of posts about the pros and cons of each. I’ll try to distinguish my contribution by looking at the pros and cons in some detail. At the end, I’ll summarize the result.
Some opening comments.
First, what I mean by “legacy” publishing is, of course, entering into a contract with a publishing house to publish one or more books, usually with the help of a literary agent. By “self-publishing”, I mean publishing a book on a platform like Kindle or Kobo, or with an aggregator like Smashwords.
Second, let’s be thankful there’s a choice. One of the main advantages of self-publishing is the opportunity to get a book out there and possibly get feedback. No more manuscript gathering dust on a bookshelf or corrupting after years on a hard drive.
Third, I’ll take the perspective of a writer who’s completed their first book. They’ve done the best job they can and it’s ready for an edit. Do they send it to agents and/or publishers, or do they hire an editor and self-publish? So, I’m not taking the perspective of the lucky writer who already has interest from a publisher.
Lastly, my choice has been made. I self-published The Case for Killing and expect to do the same with my second book. I quickly grew impatient with the legacy publishing world. To a degree, the path each writer chooses is personal. But going through the pros and cons of each approach in this blog stream will help.
There is a lot of great commentary on how to self-publish.
There are books on the topic, summaries in single blog posts and many posts on individual points of self-publishing. A lot of commentary focuses on the difficult process of promotion. Some of it is a lead-in to buying a service.
Even with all the commentary available, when I went through the process of self-publishing The Case for Killing, I encountered many questions for which answers were hard to find. And they took time to solve. Time, as I was told, that I could spend writing.
So, my idea is to present a series of blog posts on the steps in the self-publishing process from deciding what to do with a book to getting it online to promoting it. Each post will be several hundred words and discuss a discreet part of the process. They’ll be presented in the order an author is likely to encounter them. I’ll rely on my experience from publishing The Case for Killing.
I will post blogs on self-publishing every third Sunday. The two Sundays in between, I’ll post blogs that give background to my books and comment on the author debate whether to pursue legacy publishing or self-publishing. By the end of the year, there should be an extended start-to-finish look at how to self-publish.
Last week, I self-published The Case for Killing on Amazon. People ask me how I came to write this book.
The answer to this question changed over time.
I started in May, 2012 because I needed a project to distract me from life challenges. I’d written a lot when I was younger and it was natural for me to return to writing fiction.
The initial idea was to follow an unidentified person transitioning from thoughts of murder to a plan. That character interested me enough that I kept writing.
Then other surprising (to me) characters emerged, particularly that of the proposed victim. The writing became, more or less, a daily activity, generally for a few hours, just to see where the story went. The book wrote easily. Each day, after writing a few pages, I felt I’d achieved something. And the next morning, I looked forward to the next paragraphs.
There was no better moment than reaching the end of the first draft. I felt there was a real story, with a credible plot, set of characters and psychology. Others agreed.
After that, there were months of editing, deciding what to do with the book and self-doubt. The “why” of writing the book had become creating the best version of the book I could.
Now I would say I wrote The Case for Killing to be read. Of course I hope some readers like it and that this endeavour is not an embarrassment. I’m even embracing the book’s release as something of a commercial venture. Whatever the outcome, it’s better to risk putting it out there than not.
Many thanks to readers of The Case for Killing. You’re very appreciated.