Sunday, August 31, 2008
Breathing Again. Writing, Watching, Listening
I, on the other hand, yearn to get away. Book promotion is a seven-day a week job with long lists of things to do, and I welcomed the break away from my computer. More importantly, I needed time to stop thinking about publishing and promoting. It was time to get back to basics. To sit out on the huge sundeck overlooking the lake, and breathe and watch, and enjoy the quiet. Not just the external noise, but the noise in my head. The noise that says "oh, I should do this, and I need to contact so-and-so, and isn't it time to post another blog".
But I'm a writer by nature and ideas began to come while I was on that sundeck. So, I acknowledged them and jotted a few notes, but without rush or a market in mind. I experienced, quiet moments of pure creation. It was wonderful. And yes, I worked on an ongoing book some of the time, but in a far more relaxed state of mind than I was used to.
I want to create more of that quiet space in my everyday life, where my mind isn't pulled apart by the to-do list, domestic chores, and family responsibilities. It's a challenge, but I'm recharged, relaxed, and up for it.
To read excerpts of Fatal Encryption and Taxed to Death, visit
Saturday, August 30, 2008
Six Letter Word
Writing about cancer, using breast cancer as a back drop for fiction has taken me on a journey unexpected. Someone said I made cancer a character, if I did, it was not deliberate. My intention was never that. Most of us can relate to this disease because it has touched us in some way, left its personal stamp upon us, a family member or a friend. The six letter word has taken people away, shortened lives, taken young and old, no discrimination and no rhyme or reason.
I recently attended the Kickoff Breakfast for Making Strides Against Breast Cancer. In a large convention hall with handmade quilts hung as decorations, hundreds of people sat bound together by the pink ribbon disease. At every table there were survivors, at every table someone had been touched by cancer. At the podium, speaker after speaker told their story, some coming back year after year praising the work of the American Cancer Society and others coming back to say somewhere in the middle of the months that passed from last year to this, they were diagnosed with cancer. The words spoken were touching and inspirational. People rallied to the cause and left pledging to create teams to walk on October 19th in Central Park.
I was there not because of the reasons that others were but because I decided one day like any other day that the character in my story would have breast cancer, that she would be a young woman, wife and mother who struggles with the loss of hope.
The slogan for Making Strides is: Hope starts with Us. Come join me and thousands of other folk on October 19th in Central Park. I’ll be there with Belly of the Whale, helping to pass on the message of hope and survival. Fight-the-fight.
Blog what you see, think, feel and hear…
Thursday, August 28, 2008
Fall is nearing!
I'm still urging people to check out StoryCasting.com. Visitors are able to find their favorite books and "cast" celebrities to play the characters in those books! How cool is that? Be sure to check out www.storycasting.com and cast your choices for Sacrifice today!
So this will come as exciting news for those of you who don't know, but my family is expecting a new arrival next year! Yes, I'm currently pregnant with baby number dos and due in late February. My goal is to have Survival written and ready for edit before the baby comes to prevent major delays in its release. Keep your fingers crossed!
Also, my next signing is at South Point Chapters on September 13th, 2008 from 12-4pm. Come and say hi!
In the News: Self-Publishing success stories
Ben Sevier, a senior editor at Dutton, has noticed that more self-published books are gaining traction. Sevier, who said he's “always looked skeptically on [self-published] submissions,” is singing a different tune these days. Right before BEA, he preempted a self-published techno-thriller called Daemon by a software consultant using the pen name Leinad Zeraus. Sevier signed Zeraus, aka Daniel Suarez, to a two-book deal for what's rumored to be a hefty sum. Sevier, who was immediately taken with the manuscript—he said it “took me two chapters to think I was reading the best high-tech thriller writer since Michael Crichton”—said the experience has been eye-opening: “It proves that great books are slipping through the cracks.”
Great manuscripts aside, Suarez and Barry had more going for them than strong prose. Both had managed to sell more than 1,000 copies on their own; Suarez also got press in Wired and blurbs from Sillicon Alley heavies like Craig Newmark (founder of Craigslist) and Stewart Brand (creator of The Whole Earth Catalog).
Clare Ferraro at Viking signed neuroscientist and stroke survivor Jill Bolte Taylor, who became an Internet sensation after a snippet of a talk she gave at the TED (Technology, Entertainment, Design) conference went viral. Taylor had sold nearly 8,000 copies of her clinical survival memoir, which she self-published through Lulu. My Stroke of Insight—which Viking crashed for a May release to coincide with Taylor's Oprah spot—was, Ferraro said, driven by the author's platform more than anything else. “If Jill hadn't had a book, I would have been no less interested in her.”
Agent David Fugate, of LaunchBooks in San Diego, inked a deal for retired professor Dennis Fried largely on the author's impressive self-publishing record. Although Fugate said he found Fried's Memoirs of a Papillon immediately touching and amusing—the book is purportedly the memoir of the author's pooch, Genevieve—he thinks it was the fact that the book had sold 20,000 copies that spurred Simon Spotlight Entertainment to acquire it. The book, due out in hardcover in 2009 as When I Want Your Opinion I'll Bark, benefited from what Fugate calls the “more democratic process” of publishing that exists today. Fugate explained that, with promotion being easier because of the Internet and printing more manageable because of online vanity presses and POD houses, an author can now “prove [his] worth.”
Nonetheless, Fugate warns it isn't easy. He estimates that most editors don't want to hear about a self-published title unless its sales are significant. “Three thousand to 4,000 seems to be the point at which they start to think, okay, this is something valuable.”
Reprinted with permission from Jerry D. Simmons' newsletter TIPS for WRITERS. See: www.WritersReaders.com.
Monday, August 25, 2008
A little back-to-school blues
24 ct. Crayons
4 oz. Elmer's Glue
24 # 2 USA wood pencils
2 120 ct. Kleenex tissue
12 assorted pocket folders
3 120 ct. 3-subject spiral composition books
3 12x18 solid sulphite construction paper
1 12x18 50 ct. manila paper
3 washable Crayola Thin Classic markers
1 blunt 5" Fiskar scissors
1 package antibacterial towelettes
1 7" 12 ct. Crayola colored pencils
1 4x6 100 ct. plain index cards
1 vinyl pencil bag
1 peanut butter and jelly sandwich
15 green grapes
2 Fig Newtons
5 carrot sticks
1 juice cup
1 giant leap of kindergarten faith
...and a piece of her momma's heart.
Friday, August 22, 2008
Whale Song - "5 plus stars, amazing read"
Thursday, August 21, 2008
Writer's Wine Research
To get information on a particular wine, I use WineAccess.com
This is a site with up-to-date pricing and availability data on just about every wine available in the country. It also brings together wine ratings from a variety of sources. They have a 'knowledge center' that lets you see research on individual topics. For industry-focused gossip, you can't beat Wines & Vines.
If you're looking for general information, I'd humbly suggest a book: maybe my own The New Short Course in Wine.
Interview with novelist Josh Emmons
Tell us a bit about your latest book, Prescription for Superior Existence, and what inspired you to write this story.
The book is about a secular-leaning, pleasure-addicted workaholic named Jack Smith who falls in love with the daughter of an anti-desire religion, PASE, and is then kidnapped and installed in a building compound devoted to its study. Various things happen to him—it’s a plot-heavy novel—but most importantly his assumptions about what constitutes a rich and meaningful life are challenged in ways that alter him profoundly. Really “PASE” is a meditation on loneliness, God, love, conformity, and the attractions and perils of our 21st century world, with all of its culture clashes and environmental problems.
I’ve read both of your books and enjoyed them immensely. Writer-to-writer, Prescription was especially engaging because of the very believable cult-like world you created. Did you research many cults before creating PASE?
I read about the many indigenous American religions that have sprouted up since the country’s inception (Mormonism, Scientology, Christian Science, etc.), the Hinduism-tweaking gurus who began coming to the United States in the 1920s and gained a certain notoriety in the 1960s when the Beatles and Mia Farrow and others took them on, and the various messianic types who occasionally pop up in Christian communities (David Koresh, Jim Jones, the Reverend Moon). It’s interesting to consider how wildly we as a country vacillate between openness and hostility to new religions.
You’ve probably seen or heard about the now infamous Matt Lauer/Tom Cruise interview about Scientology? If you had been the interviewer, what one question would you have liked to pose about Scientology?
There are bitter ex-Scientology members who can’t heap enough scorn and opprobrium on the religion, as well as millions of people who think it’s ridiculous (mainstream America) and/or dangerous (Germany), but in fact it’s a legitimate, boring belief system, inferior to many others only because it sprang from the mind of only one person (L. Ron Hubbard), as opposed to the Torah and New Testament, which had multiple authors and benefited from lots of intelligent revision. Anyway, I would’ve had a hard time interviewing Tom Cruise, because he’s duty-bound not to say anything interesting about Scientology (meaning the gossip and rumors surrounding it, which are fascinating in a Ripley’s Believe it or Not way)—there is no dissension in the ranks—and because he’s a robot (with apologies to the infinitely more sympathetic Wall-E).
At first blush, your two novels appear very different in theme. But I find that most writers have a certain “country” in which they like to roam. How would you say your two works are similar?
You’re right that they don’t appear to have much in common: one is straightforward and character-driven, and the other is a serio-comic thriller. At their core, though, they’re both preoccupied with whether life is ultimately material or spiritual. It’s odd, because I’ve long believed that God and the eternal Buddhist life pool and every other explanation for how we came to be sentient animals on this planet are fictions, and yet I spent a great deal of energy in two books considering the question.
I don’t know about you, but I’m a fan of the James Lipton Proust-like 10 questions he likes to ask guests of the Actors’ Studio. So I like to do my own version with writers.
I’ve never seen him on “Inside the Actors’ Studio, though I naturally love him as the warden on “Arrested Development.”
1. What is your favorite book?
Middlemarch, by George Eliot. This is my bible, the book that accounts for and explains what it means to be human with inexhaustible wit, wisdom and mystery. She’s the greatest novelist ever.
2. What is your least favorite book?
At the moment, Geek Love by Katherine Dunn, because I just finished it and have a clear memory of its repellant characters and narrative laziness and my when-will-this-be-over? feeling while reading. Was like a case of the shingles. There are worse books out there—The Bridges of Madison County, the Left Behind series, anything by Cormac McCarthy—but this annoying and sensationalistic book enjoys a grand cult reputation, undeservedly.
3. What piece(s) of fiction gave you that “Ah Ha, I know this is what I want to do” realization?
When I was 18 or so, Fyodor Dostoevski’s “The Idiot,” Samuel Beckett’s “Molloy” trilogy, F. Scott Fitzgerald’s “This Side of Paradise,” and Louis-Ferdinand Celine’s “Journey to the End of the Night” lit, stoked and tended that flame. Further fuel from that period in my life: Italo Calvino’s “If on a Winter’s Night a Traveler” and Haruki Murakami’s “Hard-Boiled Wonderland and the End of the World.”
4. What are you reading now?
A couple of epics, Lady Murasaki’s “The Tale of Genji” and Leo Tolstoy’s “War and Peace,” as well as James McPherson’s “The Battle Cry of Freedom,” and a soon-to-be-published Swedish thriller by the late Stieg Larsson called “The Girl With the Dragon Tattoo.” I highly recommend the Murasaki for her layered insights into how society operates (she’s nearly as big on that score as Proust).
5. What is your biggest reader pet peeve? (stock characters, unresolved endings, predictability, everything wrapped up hurriedly in the end, etc.)
Bad prose. Cliched characters and language. Didacticism (or any case in which an author assumes that the reader is too stupid to recognize the truth without being bludgeoned by it).
6. What is your biggest writing pet peeve? (overuse of exclaimation points, adverbs, bad guys named Wayne, etc.)
Do you mean things I do but shouldn’t? I like to pretend these don’t exist, though I certainly use more adverbs than Thoreau would recommend (“When in doubt, leave them out.”).
7. What’s the best piece of writing advice you ever received?
Read everything and think deeply about why people behave as they do.
8. What writing tool can you not live without?
These days I like writing longhand, to both slow down my sentence construction and not be tempted to roam stupidly around the Internet.
9. Many writers I know say that until they decided they didn’t care what their mommas would think, they held back. And when they let go of that concern, they felt free to write. Did this ever apply to you?
Actually, embarrassingly, my first efforts were full of things my mom probably didn’t like, though she was too politic to say so. Lots of irreverent sex and death.
10. Do you have a website/blog where readers may learn more about you and your work?
http://www.joshemmons.com/ has some basic information.
Sunday, August 17, 2008
Blog Writer's Laryngitis
Communicating is out. Unless you are face-to-face with a pad of paper and a pen, you can not speak to the outside world. Sleep is the elixir. Long, uninterrupted lengths of dormancy that does not allow the REM state to be active. The golden liquid, that costs a week of lunches, has the ability to produce such a coma. Nothing else matters but the next dose of Tussionex.
For nearly three weeks I’ve had to be a listener, someone “up there” wanted me to be quiet, to sit on my opinion and to take notes. Protesting was too much effort. I sipped tea and curled up in a corner. But the world did not stop spinning while I was silent. No, it went on with or without my voice. My writer’s laryngitis recovered quicker once I made peace with listening. Another reminder of what I need to do and what matters most. I’ve learned that writing words are never silent; their impact has sounds that vibrate octaves above the normal speaking voice.
Write what you hear, think and feel….
Saturday, August 16, 2008
Writers and Olympians ... Not so Different
I empathize with the daily struggle, commitment, and dedication these athletes have endured to qualify for tickets to Beijing. So many of them have spent years of physical pain, uncertainty, and financial loss to achieve their goal. Does any of this sound familiar to you writers out there? Obviously, a lot of terrific athletics won't win a medal, but for a brief time we'll know their names, cheer them on, and admire them for having gotten this far.
Lots of good writers will never win awards, become bestsellers or make a living from their work, but I admire their spirit and respect their efforts. They deserve a cheer and round of applause for the hundreds of hours spent creating and editing at their keyboards, putting their work out there, and hoping the world will notice for at least a few brief moments.
Here's a quote from ByLine magazine. I've posted this before, but it's worth repeating as we're midway through the Olympics.
"Tenacity is essential to success in writing. While success as a writer is a great achievement, considerable merit attaches to the effort itself. As in athletics, training is the struggle; victory is merely the affirmation of that struggle."
For excerpts of Fatal Encryption, and my first book, Taxed to Death visit,
Friday, August 15, 2008
Join the Canadian Authors Network
Visit Canadian Authors Network
This network is ONLY for Canadian authors* and for fans of Canadian authors. Please do not join this group if you are neither.
International authors should not join unless they are serious fans of Canadian books/authors and posts should be relevant and not self-promotion.
Canadian authors can discuss their works, events, news, etc, and fans can discuss their favorite Canadian authors and Canadian books.
*You are a CANADIAN author if you currently live in Canada or were born in Canada.
Canadian Authors Network - Helping CANADIAN AUTHORS connect to fans worldwide!
Wednesday, August 13, 2008
Whale Song giveaway!
An author friend emailed me yesterday and mentioned that as a birthday gift to me she was blogging about Whale Song. That made my day! :) (Plus the roses from my husband, flowers from my daughter's friends, an ankle bracelet and photo from my daughter, the 3 day holiday from my best friend...and more.)
My author friend is Karen Harrington, the author of Janeology, which I read and truly enjoyed. From now until August 14th, she is giving away a copy of Whale Song.
To enter just go to her blog, read the post and leave a comment.(Be sure to add the word "whale" to your comment.)
Go here to Karen's blog to enter her Whale Song contest.
~Cheryl Kaye Tardif
Sunday, August 10, 2008
My First Book Store Event
The event at my local Chapters was by invitation from the store manager and I'd be the only author signing. Although I'd advertised the event in my community, and had been prepared with bookmarks to hand out, I had no idea what to expect. But I made up my mind to enjoy myself no matter what.
And I did. It was amazing! Of course, the fact that it rained hard yesterday didn't hurt. For a weekend in August, the store was quite busy.
My husband stood beside me and helped out when I needed a bathroom break. But he also ran into an old colleague he hadn't seen in over twenty years (that person bought a book), I bumped into two former work colleagues, and met another woman who works out at the same place I do. I handed out lots of bookmarks, encouraged a little girl who wanted to be a writer, and sold a few books.
I don't expect every "Meet and Greet" at Chapters to be as good as this one was, but would I do it again? In a New York minute.
To read excerpts of Fatal Encryption, visit http://www.debrapurdykong.com
Saturday, August 09, 2008
Maybe it's just me
And what about the overuse of using adverbs in dialogue tags when the simple, plain-spoken "said" will do just fine? I offer into evidence:
....he admonished gravely....she said expectantly....he stated methodically
Now this is just the writer showing off. Give us a few adverbs here and there, but not for every character on every page.And then, let's talk about these recent examples:
The first one just sounds painful. I tried to do it just now and I can confirm, it's a real task. And the rest, well, I want to edit them mercilessly.
My rant is done.
Could this be because I have been editing my own beast of a novel this week, using the "find" feature to direct me to all uses of 'ly' in my own work - and discovered how I overused the word probably?Probably.(And if you catch this or other mis-uses in my novel Janeology, well, history will show that was my stylistic use of adverb era.)
And on a musical note, I discovered a cool music site this week to use while you are writing and/or generally scobberlotching your way through my blog. http://www.pandora.com/You type in your favorite group or song and the site automatically plays the selection for you. (See how I just tossed that adverb out there?) Free registration will save your music preferences for you so.
It's like your own personal radio staion, she said enthusiastically.
Visit me at http://www.scobberlotch.blogspot.com/
Sunday, August 03, 2008
Are You Doomed?
"There is a cartoon from the For Better, For Worse, strip about a young journalism major who suffers several days when he can't write anything that "works". He begins to have second thoughts about his chosen path in life and confides in his girlfriend: 'Maybe I'm too emotional for this. I'm full of self-doubt, I'm sarcastic and compulsive and analytical, and half the time I life in a fantasy world. I don't have any of the creative elements that make someone a writer!' The punch line that the reader supplies, of course, is that the poor kid not only has the qualities, he's doomed to be a writer."
I know that doom and I suspect many of my colleagues do too.
To read Excerpts from FATAL ENCRYPTION visit http://www.debrapurdykong.com
Tips for Plotting Your Novel – Part 2: Ferment the Plot
What do you think of when you see the word FERMENT? Picture a vat filled with young wine; it needs time to soak in all the subtle flavors that will make it distinct and delicious. A novel needs time―and more importantly, deep thought―to gather in all the richness that will make it a novel worth reading.
One thing I’ve learned as a writer is this: thinking is underrated. We’re so programmed to be active and busy, that we forget that pausing every now and then actually allows us to process more information. To the human brain, writing a novel is a huge ‘information dump’; we need that pause to acknowledge our ideas, then sift through all of them to find the precious gems that will become our plot, characters, setting, and ultimately a bestselling novel (we hope).
During the fermentation stage, I’ll think more about the characters, one character and one question at a time until I have a solid answer for each. Who is she? What are her strengths and weaknesses? What is her goal? What suspenseful challenges will she face? What relationships are found or lost? Who is she up against and why? How does she proceed in the investigation or journey or quest? How does she finally reach her goal? What scene most comes to mind when it’s time for the final chapter or epilogue?
Often at the fermentation stage I’ve already started writing the actual novel. At different times throughout, I’ll pause and have what appears to be a break. But really I’m fermenting my novel plot. Someone watching me might think I’ve fallen asleep with my eyes open and head upright. You may even see the occasional wisp of smoke from my ears, or I might talk out loud or nod. I’m sure I must look weird when I do this at my favorite Starbucks, but each time I ferment my plot, the dialogue, action and characters grow stronger and deeper.
The next time you decide to write a novel, think about percolating and fermenting your plot. When I clicked on the word “percolate” and went to the synonym check in MS Word, the following words came up: seep into, infiltrate, permeate, penetrate, get into, infect, drip, filter. I think they perfectly describe what we need to do to create an engaging plot.
So percolate an idea. Let it seep into your mind and infiltrate your thoughts. As these ideas permeate your daily routine, they’ll penetrate further into your mind so you won’t forget them. They’ll get into your blood, infect you, until you can’t wait to sit down at the computer. The key then is to allow the thoughts to drip, one at a time, from your mind to the keyboard, so that in the end you become a filter and the perfect novel plot will finally emerge.
©2008 Cheryl Kaye Tardif
~Cheryl Kaye Tardif is a bestselling author of 3 Canadian suspense novels (Whale Song (published by award-winning Kunati Books), The River and Divine Intervention). She is also a freelance journalist and popular speaker at writers groups, conferences and book clubs. Her specialty topics are: book publishing options; book marketing (online and offline) and writing advice. Cheryl currently resides in Edmonton, Alberta, Canada.
Visit her website: http://www.cherylktardif.com, or her blog: http://www.cherylktardif.blogspot.com
Friday, August 01, 2008
Weekly Writing Potpourri
I'm having an Author Chat over at LibraryThing. Some of you have asked the best questions I've gotten since the debut of Janeology! Stop by and read the Q&A if you get a chance. I'm giving away one copy of the book to one lucky commenter on August 13.
Being that Janeology is all about genetic inheritance, my old high school bud Steve sent me this link to an article that poses a uniquely 21st Century issue Should You Marry Someone With Bad Genes?
From the article: Q. My boyfriend, who I love dearly, has repeatedly asked me to marry him. He wants to have kids together and a happy life. We are such close friends that I do believe we would work as a married couple. However, he has a number of hereditary health conditions. The only thing keeping me from marrying him is the thought of having a child with the same health problems. I lost a child (from a previous marriage) to sudden infant death syndrome, and he is well aware of this.
As I have recently been immersed in Jane Austen fiction and film, I can't help but wonder - How would Jane Austen have written about this modern relationship? And would it be called Dil-Emma?
Have a great weekend!