Thursday, September 30, 2010

Four Chances to Win a New Book from Second Wind Publishing

To celebrate the release of our new novels, we have four separate contests, which means four different chances of your winning a new book released by Second Wind Publishing!

1. Christine Husom will send a signed copy of one of her books—your choice of which book—to one lucky winner chosen at random from all who leave a comment on her blog post. So be sure to stop by An Altar by the River Release and leave a comment before October 6, 2010. That might be your lucky day!

2. Laura Wharton is offering a signed copy of her new novel, The Pirate’s Bastard. Leave a comment on her blog post and you might be a winner. Click here to leave your comment before October 6, 2010: The Pirate’s Bastard is Sailing into Port Soon

3. Sherrie Hansen is offering an autographed copy of Water Lily to a truly beautiful person. Think of someone you love – mother, father, spouse, friend or hero, and write a brief comment about what makes them beautiful to you. Leave your comment here by October 7, 2010: To a Truly Beautiful Person… by Sherrie Hansen

4. Second Wind Publishing is giving away four ebooks to random commenters. Leave a comment here: Celebrating Four New Novels from Second Wind Publishing – Win an Ebook! telling us which new ebook release you'd like to read, and you might win one of them!

Wednesday, September 29, 2010

Lancelot's Lady and the new book video trailer

Here's the video trailer for Lancelot's Lady, my contemporary romantic suspense novel. The trailer was created by Kelly Komm, author and trailer creator extraordinaire. Thanks, Kelly! You're awesome!



To celebrate the release of Lancelot's Lady, I'm holding my Cherish the Romance Virtual Launch & Book Tour, with daily prizes, including jewelry, signed paperbacks and ebooks from various authors, plus other prizes. Come join the fun from now until October 10th.

Leave a comment here, with email address, to be entered into the prize draws. You're guaranteed to receive at least 1 free ebook just for doing so. Plus you'll be entered to win a Kobo ereader. Winners will be announced after October 10th.

Let me know what you think of Kelly's video trailer. Does it make you want to buy Lancelot's Lady? Or does it make you want to take a trip to the Bahamas. :-)

Cherish D'Angelo
(aka Cheryl Kaye Tardif)

Monday, September 27, 2010

Reviews of Lancelot's Lady

Today is my Cherish the Romance Virtual Launch Party for my debut contemporary romantic suspense Lancelot's Lady and I thought I'd share some of the early reviews for my award-winning romance novel.
From the cold rocky shores of Maine to the extravagant mansions of Miami to a lush tropical island in the Bahamas, Cherish D'Angelo takes her heroine through a series of breathtaking romantic adventures that mirror the settings, often in surprisingly ironic ways. A page turner in the best possible sense." ―Gail Bowen, author of the award-winning Joanne Kilbourn series
"Romance, mystery, danger, black-mail, and twists and surprises, this tale contains them all. Readers will not be able to help being captivated while the main character vacations on an island around the Bahamas, while lives change dramatically, while the laws of attraction are fought off, and while danger brews...Despicable intentions threaten every character in this finely crafted tale of sweet tension however. Snakes always lie in wait when around large sums of cash and one camouflages himself as an upstanding individual. His intentions do not stop there. Unknown by Rhianna, her life, and anyone in this character’s way, is threatened. Lancelot’s Tale is a non-stop adventure combined with the agonizing struggle to not give in to the magnetism between them. Enticing. Fun." ―Christina Francine, Midwest Book Review; see Christina's full review at Midwest Book Review
"Another brilliantly crafted novel by Cheryl Tardif [aka Cherish D'Angelo]...a beautiful love story rippling with suspense and just the right amount of sensuality." ―Emily Ross, aka Pauline Holyoak
"Cherish D'Angelo has got that mythical “voice” down to a fine art."―Jennifer L. Hart, author of River Rats
"Lancelot's Lady is riveting. It holds on and won't let you go! Cherish D’Angelo’s descriptive powers are amazing. She summons up scenes like genies from bottles!" ―Susan J. McLeod, author of Soul and Shadow

Prizes & Giveaways: Click on link (left) to view all prizes. Leave a comment here, with email address, to be entered into the prize draws. You're guaranteed to receive at least 1 free ebook just for doing so. Plus you'll be entered to win a Kobo ereader. Winners will be announced after October 10th.

Special prizes: Purchase Lancelot's Lady today from Amazon Kindle Store and email me with your receipt as proof of purchase and you'll be entered into a special draw for a beautiful "Lancelot's Lady" pendant. FOUR pendants will be awarded.

Cherish D'Angelo
(aka Cheryl Kaye Tardif)
http://www.cherishdangelo.com/

Sunday, September 26, 2010

Word on the Street, 2010

It’s Sunday evening and I’ve just finished putting things away after a great day at the annual Word on the Street Fair. It’s a day-long celebration of reading and writing hosted by several cities across Canada simultaneously. I love going to this event because everyone is upbeat and friendly, except perhaps for the guy who was busted by the Vancouver police and hauled off in a paddy wagon this afternoon, although I have no idea what triggered this outcome.

I’ve been attending Word on the Street since I first published Taxed to Death in the late nineties. Over recent years, I’ve volunteered at the Crime Writers of Canada table (thank you to CWC for sponsoring the west coast contingent) and help hand out brochures about our organization. It’s always a treat to talk to people who love reading mysteries but had no idea we existed, or that many more Canadians are writing mysteries than they thought. This is also a chance to let aspiring writers know that help and support is out there.

This year, there were many tables and tents featuring book publishers, large and small, magazines, writing-related organizations and, of course, book sellers. Today’s musical entertainment ranged from opera to bongo drumming. There was an area for kids’ books and entertainment, tents for readings, plus more panel discussions inside the main library. And all of it was free. For those of you who missed out this year, you’ll have another chance next year. It’s always the last Sunday of September, and even though rain was forecasted for today, none came. What can I say? It was a wonderful day.

My amateur sleuth, Vancouver-based, Alex Bellamy mysteries can be purchased at
FATAL ENCRYPTION, http://tinyurl.com/ddzsxl
TAXED TO DEATH, http://tinyurl.com/czsy5n

Tuesday, September 21, 2010

Character as Fate

Heraclitus believed that a person’s character is their fate. Character -- the sum total of a person’s traits -- influences the choices a person makes, and the consequences of those choices ultimately become that person’s destiny. Or not. Much of life is luck, happenstance, and totally out of our control, though we tend to believe we have much more control over our lives than we really do. But that’s not an issue here because this is a writing discussion, and in our story worlds everything is under our control, and what our characters do determine their own fate.

This is most obvious in a tragedy -- a character comes to an unhappy end because of a flaw in his or her own character, though in today’s stories, because readers like a more optimistic ending, that fatal flaw is often balanced by a special strength. But character/fate works for other types of stories, such as a thriller where a character becomes obsessed with finding the truth, and that obsession leads to both the character's fate and the end of the story.

For example, in Daughter Am I, a young woman is determined to find out the truth of who her grandparents were and why someone wanted them dead. That determination overrides her usual placidity and takes her on a journey that eventually leads her home again, changed forever. She really did find her destiny because of her character.

I wonder if the opposite is more true (if truth has degrees), that destiny is character. Does what happens to us, both the actions under our control and those beyond our control, determine who we are? Determine who our characters are? This was a theme I explored in More Deaths Than One. So much happened to my poor hero Bob that was not under his control, yet what was under his control -- how he handled his fate -- made him the man he became.

Any discussion about fate and writing would also have to include the question: does the writer's fate affect the character's fate? None of my books have totally happy endings. There is always a pinprick of unease in the background, but the book I am now contemplating -- the story of a woman going through grief -- is going to have even less of a happy ending. Perhaps because I know the ending of my own love story? Not my story, obviously, since I'm still here, but the story I shared with another. Except for my work in progress (the one that's been stalled all these years) the stories I'm thinking about writing now all end up with the characters alone.

When I wrote the first draft of my novel More Deaths Than One (and the second draft and the third) I had the hero Bob meandering around his world trying to unravel his past all by himself, and it was boring. Did I say boring? It was moribund. The story went nowhere because there was no one for Bob to butt heads with.

In the fourth draft of More Deaths Than One, I gave Bob a love interest, a waitress he met at a coffee shop. (Hey, so it’s been done before. The poor guy spent eighteen years in Southeast Asia, and didn’t know anybody stateside. How else was he supposed to meet someone?) That’s when the story took off. He had someone to butt heads with, someone to ooh and aah over his achievements, someone to be horrified at what had been done to him.

From that, I learned the importance of writing scenes with more than one character. And yet here I am, once more falling into the black hole of writing a character alone.

Which leads me to my final question: could the fate of the character also influence the writer’s fate? If so, maybe I should decide where I want to go from here, and write my destiny.

Pat Bertram is the author of More Deaths Than One, A Spark of Heavenly Fire, and Daughter Am I.

Do I Need an ISBN to Publish My Own eBook?

The above question is a common one for authors taking their first dip into the ebook pool. The easy answer is: YES. But there's a bit more to ISBNs than that.

  • Not sure if you need an ISBN?
  • Unsure if you can use the same ISBN as your paperback edition?
  • Wondering if you have to pay for your ISBNs?

To learn more about ISBNs and where to go to get them, please check out my post on my Shameless Promoter - Book Marketing Coach site.

Sunday, September 19, 2010

Banned Book Week is Coming Up

January Magazine posted an interesting blog this week to let readers know that September 25 to October 2nd is Banned Book Week. As the author pointed out, there’s nothing like a banned book to generate interest in a book and boost sales. The purpose of this week is to celebrate books and, in particular, the freedom to read what we want. It celebrates intellectual freedom and as the American Library Association says, the freedom to express ideas even if they’re considered unorthodox or unpopular. The ALA states that plenty of books in the U.S. have been saved by banning thanks to the efforts of teachers, librarians, and booksellers. Many teachers use this week to teach their students First Amendment rights and the danger when a free society is prevented from having access to information. If you click on the ALA link in the article, you’ll find a list of books that have either been banned or challenged at one point. Here’s just a few of the classics:

1. The Great Gatsby by F. Scott Fitzgerald
2. The Catcher in the Rye by J.D. Salinger
3. The Grapes of Wrath by John Steinbeck
4. To Kill a Mockingbird by Harper Lee
5. The Color Purple by Alice Walker
6. Ulysses by James Joyce
7. Beloved by Toni Morrison
8. The Lord of the Flies by William Golding
9. 1984 by George Orwell
10. The Sound and the Fury by William Faulkner
11. Lolita by Vladmir Nabokov
12. Of Mice and Men by John Steinbeck
13. Charlotte’s Web by E.B. White

Charlotte’s Web? Really? For crying out loud. There are many more listed, so go to the site and have a look. And read a banned book this week! To read (and I recommend subscribing) January Magazine go to http://ianuarymagazine.blogspot.com. Look for the article on Banned Books which will take you to the American Library Association links plus others. Happy reading!

My amateur sleuth, Vancouver-based, Alex Bellamy mysteries can be purchased at
FATAL ENCRYPTION, http://tinyurl.com/ddzsxl
TAXED TO DEATH, http://tinyurl.com/czsy5n

Sunday, September 12, 2010

One of the Trickier Parts of Writing

It’s funny, you know. You work on draft after draft of a novel, rewriting and editing. You check syntax, clarity, pacing, your over-used words, and so on. Finally, your novel is polished and ready to submit. If you’re really lucky, you’ll find a publisher which will result in more editing and polishing and rethinking segments that you thought were fine. Sounds a bit daunting, doesn’t it? It can be, but all of that work is broken down into months, or even years, of practice. It’s part of the process and extremely satisfying. Still, one part of the process that was tougher than I thought it would be was the dedication and acknowledgements pages.

These two pages might not sound like much and, to many, are not as important as the text, but they are to me. I knew who I wanted to dedicate the book to right away, but I wanted to say something without being overly sentimental. I had to think this through a fair bit before I put the words on paper. The acknowledgements page should have been fairly straight forward. After all, it’s about thank yous and facts, yet when it came down to it, finding the right words for the right people also took some thought and a few drafts.

Dedications and acknowledgements shouldn’t be dashed off at the last second. Like the rest of your book, they require thought, a few drafts, and a final polish.

My amateur sleuth, Vancouver-based, Alex Bellamy mysteries can be purchased at
FATAL ENCRYPTION, http://tinyurl.com/ddzsxl
TAXED TO DEATH, http://tinyurl.com/czsy5n

Tuesday, September 07, 2010

Guest blogger Stacey Cochran shares the five fundamentals of fiction

Today author Stacey Cochran joins us to share some writing tips. Welcome, Stacey.

Thanks so much, Cheryl, for letting me visit the Write Type blog in the midst of my CLAWS 2 Blog Tour. Today I’d like to talk a little bit about the five fundamentals of fiction, and specifically I’d like to focus in on one of the fundamentals I haven’t written about in much detail previously.

Quiz Time
So what are the 5 fundamentals of fiction?

Before scanning down any further, what would you say are the five basics that every story has to have to function well?


A YouTube Book Trailer with over a million views?

No, that’s most definitely not a fundamental of story.

The five fundamentals as I define them are: 1) Character, 2) Plot, 3) Setting, 4) Style, and 5) Theme.

Style
I’ve written at length about character, plot, and setting elsewhere during this blog tour, and so today I’d like to focus in on style. Quite possibly the most overlooked (or misunderstood) of the five fundamentals.

Here’s a quick list of must-do/don’t-do style tips:

  1. Show, don’t tell. This applies specifically to scene writing using description, dialogue, and characters. Rather than give us narrative summary, show the characters. For example: Stacey sits at his computer, scratches at his unshaven face, and then says aloud, “Show your character in action, rather than have ’em summarizing the whole damn story.”
  1. Don’t use adverbs and avoid unnecessary adjectives whenever possible. (Can you spot the irony in the previous sentence?)
  1. Don’t use characters with sound-alike names. That is, avoid making your central characters Michael and Michelle. Or John and Jack. Or even David and Dillon. Better to put characters in a scene that have wildly different names like: Oscar and Tangerine. Those are names that conjure up different impressions in readers’ minds. And last.
  1. DO NOT PUT ANY BACK STORY IN THE FIRST FIVE PAGES. I write this in all caps because it is so common in aspiring writers’ work. The extremely talented among us will avoid any back story for the first fifty pages, let alone the first five. Readers are a sophisticated bunch of folk; let them figure out the characters’ back story through what they do and say in the story itself (see Point #1 above).
  1. When writing in 3rd-person POV, stick with one character’s perspective. Rather than float around the room from one character’s perspective to the next.
  1. If an opinion expressed through dialogue makes your POV character look like a jerk, show him think the thought rather than say it. It’ll make him/her seem much more disciplined yet still allow the sentiment to float in the readers’ mind.
  1. Use all five senses in your descriptive writing: sight, sound, smell, touch, and taste.
  1. Make your dialogue oblique… rather than write it in grammatically correct sentences. Keep it spare. Remove words. Avoid dialogue that goes on for more than two sentences.
  1. Make everything adversarial. Conflict should be boiling over in every scene. If you put two characters in a scene, their needs should be in opposition and should be complicated.
  1. Don’t let characters who are sexually attracted to one another ever hook up… unless it immediately dovetails into the jealous lover breaking into their room to confront them. (Also known as, the 80s Sitcom Rule; i.e., think how many TV shows have gone down the drain when the characters finally hooked up. We enjoyed watching them before they slept together. Same deal with your fiction. Draw out the sexual tension as long as you can, avoiding the “hook up” scene for the whole story if possible.)
Okay, so these are some basics of “style.” I have dozens more if you’re interested in them. And will gladly spill some of these over the next few days if folks are interested.

For student writers of fiction, there’s only so much you can teach, and I definitely recommend starting with mastering character, plot, and setting first. But truth is you’ll have to nail each of the five fundamentals to fly.

What I’ve noticed is the difference between midlist authors and the Dennis Lehanes and Stephen Kings among us is that midlisters tend to focus too much on one or two of these (plot and character, for example) and don’t hammer home setting, style, and theme.

What makes a book like Mystic River so good is that it not only is a great mystery (plot) and has well drawn characters, but Lehane absolutely nails his native Boston setting and does so with a kind of macho/sensitive style that readers absolutely fell in love with. And there are themes abundant in the book.

So how about you? What are novels that you’ve read that score the fiction writers’ hat-trick? Who really kills style?

Like Ken Bruen to me is a grandmaster stylist. Lehane. King.

McCarthy’s The Road reinvents dialogue attribution.

So how ‘bout you? What books are style makers (rather than style fakers)?

* * * * *

Stacey Cochran was born in the Carolinas, where his family traces its roots to the mid 1800s. In 1998 he was selected as a finalist in the Dell Magazines undergraduate fiction competition, and he made his first professional short story sale to CutBank in 2001. In 2004, he was selected as a finalist in the St. Martin’s Press/PWA Best First Private Eye Novel Contest. He lives in Raleigh, North Carolina with his wife Dr. Susan K. Miller-Cochran and their son Sam, and he teaches writing at North Carolina State University. His books include The Colorado Sequence, Amber Page, CLAWS, and CLAWS 2.

Sunday, September 05, 2010

Planning a Mystery Series

This week, I’m working on something I’ve never really tackled before, at least on paper. I opened an Excel spreadsheet and began plotting a timeline for the release of upcoming books in my Casey Holland mystery series. The purpose is to create a story arc, including plot themes, for the series so that my publisher and I can take a look at the development of Casey’s personal and professional changes throughout the series.

So far, the exercise hasn’t been difficult because book two is finished, four drafts have been written for book three, and book four is in the first draft stage. I have an idea for the plot theme for book five, but that’s as far as I’ve gotten.

Two interesting things have developed from this process: one is that for the first time, I’m gathering all of the major events, points, and changes in Casey’s life onto one sheet which will make for easy reference later. The second is that I’ve begun to think about this series as a whole, from beginning to end, which has led to some interesting questions, like how many books do I envision the series being? How do I want the series to end? How will Casey change and how will her relationships change? Sure, these things have popped into my mind as I've been writing the books, but I've never stopped to really figure out where I want to go with this series and how the books will progress. For me, it makes sense to have a plan so that the series doesn't go on so long that it becomes tedious and repetitive.

It might seem premature to consider all this when the first book won’t even be out until next spring, but I’ve listened to other writers discuss their series. Many of them wish they could go back and give more thought to the starting point. Some felt they’d aged their characters too quickly, others too slowly. Here’s another issue: if you want to set your books 3 or 4 months apart but it takes you two years to write each novel, technology will run so far ahead of you that your new books might wind up reading more like period pieces. Sue Grafton’s novels are a case in point. She started writing them in the 80’s and, although I haven’t read her most recent books, I believe her stories are now set in the past, i.e. pre-Ipods, cell phones, webcams, social networking, Google, and so forth.

I’m hoping that thinking things through now will help eliminate future problems. There could be plenty of other issues to contend with later.

My amateur sleuth, Vancouver-based, Alex Bellamy mysteries can be purchased at
FATAL ENCRYPTION, http://tinyurl.com/ddzsxl
TAXED TO DEATH, http://tinyurl.com/czsy5n

Wednesday, September 01, 2010

The Many C's of Writing

I went through my notes about writing to find a topic for this blog, and I came across a reminder to always remember the five Cs:

Character
Conflict
Change
Contrast (contrast in settings, between characters, in dialogue)
Caring (what the character cares for, and making the reader care for the character)

Those should be the main considerations when writing a story, but why stop with just five Cs? As I was writing this article, I thought of several other Cs that can help bring depth to our novels, such as:

Continuity (the hidden structure that relates everything in the story to the beginning)
Creativity (not settling for the first idea that comes to mind, thinking beyond clich├ęs or stereotypes, creating interesting twists and quirks)
Culture (the world your character lives in, not just the setting, but the times, conditioning, habits, expectations and societal pressures)
Connection (the seesawing between connection and disconnection that comprises most relationships)
Complement (contrast is good, but sometimes like likes like. Twins -- whether people, places or ideas -- will show a different facet of the story than two contrasting things. Three complementary ideas can create a theme, two or three mentions of an important point throughout a novel can underline that point)
Challenge (the challenge to find a new way of seeing the same old story, the challenge to write the story only you can write)
Compose (the way you write. All the other Cs are worthless if you can’t write readable prose)

I’m sure there are plenty of other Cs, but this is a start.

***

Pat Bertram is the author of More Deaths Than One, A Spark of Heavenly Fire, and Daughter Am I.

Author Cheryl Kaye Tardif sells ads in ebooks

The topic of advertising in books has been around for years and we've already seen it in more subtle forms. The back matter of many novels feature ads for other books, whether they're from the author or not. I recall reading romance novels that had ads inserted in the middle, mailing cards I could punch out and send off to receive more books or to sign up for a book club. But for some reason, the thought of a few pages of actual ads at the back of a book really freak out some authors, publishers and readers. Quill & Quire recently blogged about this, as have many bloggers and book industry sites.

I have a confession to make. I've sold advertising in my books.


Read more about how I sold ads in books and ebooks and my thoughts on this:


Ads in books: coming to a novel near you