Wednesday, January 28, 2009

Pink Cover + High Heels = Novel for Women. What??

Recently, I read a funny post over at A Moment of Jen , author Jennifer Weiner's blog, in which she mentioned a recent episode of the sit-com 30 Rock. In the show, the main character, portrayed by Tina Fey, was spotted reading a book featuring a hot pink cover and a high-heel. The book's title - Novel For Women.

Ms Weiner makes some funny and ironic observations about this scenario, most pointedly noting that even she, a prolific writer of novels for women, likes to go off the estrogen grid and read a wide variety of fiction and non-fiction. (Her post also humorously skewers the ways in which male and female writers of the hard-life, rising from the ashes memoir are critiqued. You probably can guess at the disparity. This is a must read piece that makes me love Ms. Weiner all the more. Where's my bloggy emoticon for giving someone the high-five?)

But back to 30 Rock poking fun at women's literary choices.

Women like to read about women. That's no news flash. But we like to mix it up. Most of the readers I know - men and women - like to mix it up a lot! I've been reading a biography about a famous Fox News reporter this week. I've been reading a book about Gustave Flaubert. And yes, I've been reading some fiction - What Happened to Anna K by Irina Reyn and recently finished The Glass of Time by Michael Cox. One of my top 5 favorite books from last year was a political thriller - Child 44 by Tom Rob Smith. And The Story of Forgetting by Stefan Merrill Block, which is a very universal story, topped my list, too.

A look at these two covers below, which coincidentally both feature Russia as a backdrop, reveals a few things about the target audience, right? My personal focus group (hubby) just looked over my shoulder at these two and said Smith's book cover looks like a sports jersey and Reyn's is definitely feminine.

So this discussion got me to wondering about how marketing wizards pitch fiction for women written by women.

I did a couple blog searches about this subject. Guess what I landed upon?

The Great Chick-Lit Cover Up from The Guardian Book Blog.

From the article:
"Publishers are now adding chick lit-style covers to any book written by a woman, whether it fits the genre definition or not."

Say it with me - WHAT???

Within this article, a few authors who've had their covers reflect the "novel for women" style say they feel the publishers choice has mislead the reader.

So what do you think? Are you drawn to a certain type of cover? Are these marketing wizards correct in their assumption that so many of us do, in fact, judge a book by its cover? What's your reaction to this marketing concept? Have you ever come home with a book that appeared one way and then turned out to be something different?

For another discussion and examples of how and why bookcovers change from hardback to paperback, see my previous post The Power of Book Cover Design.

Until then, Happy Reading!

K. Harrington
author, Janeology
Visit me at

Sunday, January 25, 2009

Hawaii in March Anyone?

Conventions and conferences for mystery writers are popular in the U.S. In fact, there’s one almost every month of the year. All of them have panel discussions on a large variety of topics, but it seems there are always more authors vying for panel spots than there are spots available. So I guess it’s no surprise that a couple of years ago, some conference organizers decided that rules needed to be set up regarding who’s actually qualified to sit on a panel. And thus the trouble started.

You see, some organizers decided to only accept authors whose books were published by recognized publishers on the Mystery Writers of America’s “approved” list. The thing is, most of the publishers on that list are well established. Needless to say, this decision’s infuriated a number of authors and smaller, newer publishers whose books are selling, generating fans, and even winning awards.

I make no secret of the fact that I’m a self-published author with my own company. After all, this is how Intrigue Press and several other established houses started. Someone has to start somewhere, right? So when I sign up to attend conferences, I’m completely honest about my publishing status on the forms and, to my delight, I’m frequently invited on panels. Clearly, there are conference organizers who are open to new voices with humble beginnings.

And on that happy note, I’d like to announce that I’ll be appearing on two panels at this year’s LEFT COAST CRIME Conference on the big Island of Hawaii from March 6 to 12th: The panels are:

Mon., March 9 – Cool Canadian Settings
Thurs., March 12 – Going It Alone: Small or Independent presses Instead of Traditional

They should be fun, and my hat’s off to anyone interested in writers who work as hard at their craft as the big names do. We might be small and unknown and on some levels stigmatized, but we are only too happy to meet people and discuss books and writing. We sell one book at a time and are grateful for every opportunity and every reader who takes a chance on us. Bravo to those of you who do!!

To read excerpts from TAXED TO DEATH or FATAL ENCRYPTION, visit

Friday, January 23, 2009

US film producer says he "was blown away by Whale Song"

The suspense really IS killing me, and I have to say it's been hard not shouting my news to the rooftops and beyond. But here it is...

A respected US film producer/director picked up a copy of Whale Song over the Christmas holidays, read it, then emailed be to say he was "blown away" by it. His words. He then read the screenplay and said he had to call me right away "while I still had this knot in my stomach."

We have just started the lengthy process of negotiating film rights, and I must warn you, dear fans, it is a very, very slow process normally, and this is NOT a done deal yet. But I feel it is very close. In fact, this is the closest I've ever been to seeing my dream of Whale Song on the big screen.

While I can't drop any names until a deal is done, I will tell you that this producer has worked for a major recognizable film company and is well-connected. If I mentioned the company every single one of you would know it.

So why say something now? Well, I debated on this, and finally came to the realization that I really need to acknowledge every little success I achieve. Acknowledge and celebrate that my dream is being visualized by someone else, someone who sees it as clearly as I do.

I'm mentioning this too because I BELIEVE in the law of attraction. This has been my life for the past 6 years. And I hope that all of you send out a happy thought and a wish for this to happen.

And I also mentioned it because I just couldn't keep it inside any longer. The suspense was killing me! :)

Don't forget to order your collector's copy of Whale Song now, before it goes out of print. Your best bet is to order it via Amazon or Chapters at this time.

Would you go see Whale Song--the movie? Take my poll now. :)

~Cheryl Kaye Tardif,
bestselling author of Whale Song

Tuesday, January 20, 2009

Interview with Meredith Holmes, author of Unseelie

One of my first independent reviewers, Christina Whitcher, is now the PR coordinator for a small speculative fiction publishing company called Drollerie Press, and she recently contacted me about one of her authors. Meredith Holmes lives and writes mostly in Southeast Texas. Unseelie is her first published novel and she hopes there's many more to come.
Today I'm interviewing Meredith about her debut novel, an urban fantasy/romance titled Unseelie.

1. Meredith, welcome to The Write Type. First, how did Unseelie get started?

Unseelie began as an exercise for NaNoWriMo ( A local shop had a display of greeting cards including one with this absolutely beautiful faerie prince on the front and the image just stuck with me so when it came time for NaNoWriMo, I began by writing about this prince, whom I decided was named Cadfael (from an old word meaning "battle prince"). Alfhild came soon after, and the story just grew around the characters.

2. Did you research mythology and legends before writing Unseelie or did you make a lot of it up as you went?

Most of Unseelie was researched in terms of mythological origins of names (I have a "thing" for names!) and stories about ancient heroes and the like but some of it was made from whole cloth or "inspired" by old legends. Take Jenny Greenteeth, for example: in the legends, she's nothing like the character of the same name in Unseelie outside of a few key similarities. Characters like Alfhild and Cadfael aren't based on any historical or legendary characters pre se but I was definitely inspired by some ancient stories when creating them!

3. Is Unseelie a romance?

Yep, but that's not the sole focus--there's a war, conflict between humans and supernaturals, self-discovery... It's pretty complex!

4. Did your background prepare you for writing or is it something that just "happened"?

I never went to school for creative writing though I did consider it! I was always making up stories about imaginary friends as a kid and later writing them down, at the encouragement of my mother and grandmother. I remember making little books at my grandma's house, stapling them together to "bind" them and giving them to my grandparents for the bookshelf! Writing just grew out of that early fantasy life and the support of my mom and maternal grandmother.

5. What's your next project?

Other than finishing grad school? I have several stories in the works right now but the one in the home-stretch is the first of a trilogy about demons and some pretty ancient alliances that carry into the modern world. It's another supernatural-romance story but much different in tone and characters than Unseelie. It's more of a mystery than not but it's definitely supernatural romance.

6. You work on more than one story at once then?

Definitely. I get ideas and have to start writing them out before I lose them. Some authors keep notebooks of plot ideas or characters, I keep files on my hard drive (backed up to the moon and back--I'm super careful about that!). I have snippets of stories, some all the way up to their fifth and sixth chapter, waiting in the wings. I tend to work on the story whose characters are most insistent on getting written first.

7. How does writing impact your life outside of the process?

Oh, it's pretty much in every aspect of my life. If I'm not doing it, I'm thinking about it and it's become a very big part of my life. It's gone from me poking at a NaNoWriMo story to getting published by Drollerie Press. Unseelie is my first book (I've had short stories in ezines before, and they are now on Drollerie) so of course I was really excited during the entire process. Now that Unseelie is out and available since December on Drollerie's site, Mobipocket and Fictionwise, the excitement is still there but it's getting spread out to my WIPs as well because now I know what it's like!

Email Meredith at: meri.holmes (at ) gmail (dot) com

Thank you again, Meredith, for sharing your inspiring journey with us. I wish you the best in success! ~Cheryl Kaye Tardif, bestselling author of Whale Song

Monday, January 19, 2009

Blog a No Day at Noon

Good Days and No Days that’s what I spout about. The whole premise of my blog is to act as a guide for the best use of the universe’s energy. I follow the moon for the best measure and try to steer you around those No Days. The best use of energy is to simply let things be, not to sign or commit to anything…to wait until that warp ends. All this said it bothers me that the inauguration, the actual swearing into office of our 44th president will be at a void-of-course moon. If the timing is as the newspapers predict then the president-elect will put his hand on the bible at a few minutes before noon on Tuesday January 20th. The void ends thirty minutes later. Some years back people made fun of Ronald Reagan for dodging the void moon. Oh we never knew exactly what he was working around but it was clear that someone was guiding him to seek the best time for such important events. He successfully manipulated several occasions when he had to commit to his next move or next job and history records President Regan very favorably.

To date no one has asked me about the void moon for the 20th of January, no one has asked me if that is a Good Day to be sworn in as president. Since No Days do not bode well for success and often proceed in an unexpected manner, plans can change and we might hope that there are delays and the actual swearing in occurs later than scheduled.

For those paying attention the moon leaves Scorpio at 10:37pm Monday evening and returns in Sagittarius at 12:30pm on Tuesday January 20th; this moon is all about freedom and broadening our horizons, making promises and being optimistic. She stays in this mood until Thursday at 11:24 am and then leaves us with a No Day until early morning on Friday. Capricorn is more serious than Sagittarius and her all business face takes us into the weekend. By the way is the man in the moon really a woman? Something to contemplate…

Have the best day everyday.


Sunday, January 18, 2009

Doom and Gloom in the Publishing World? You Decide

Everyone knows that when recessions hit, those in the arts are among the first to feel the pinch. So it wasn’t surprising to hear that Houghton Mifflin Harcourt has stopped acquiring books. How long they maintain this policy is anyone’s guess, but with so many books being published today, is this a horrible thing for the industry as a whole? You decide. Of course, HMH's decision hurts writers, especially those whose agents were about to strike a deal with them, but writers are often getting hurt through cancelled contracts, scams, incompetence, or abrupt changes in staff or policies, to name just a few unhappy events. The survivors have learned to grow thick skins and come up with Plans, B, C, D, etc. Some agents are saying that HMH’s decision scares them because it’s never happened before. On the other hand, neither have so many books been published every year as they are in this new millenium.

Random House, owned by the Bertelsmann group, is now undergoing a major restructuring which has already involved the resignations of two division heads: the publisher of Bantam Dell and the publisher of Doubleday. Needless to say, some pretty big names publish with these two groups but Random House has publicly denied any layoffs.

Meanwhile, Simon & Schuster announced the layoff of 35 employees, which shouldn't surprise anyone. After all, layoffs and recessions unfortunately go hand in hand. A decade ago, HarperCollins laid off over 400 people and cancelled 100 writers’ contracts. Some people claim that tough economic times are a company’s excuse for trimming the fat and getting rid of employees who haven’t met expectations. Again, you decide.

All I know is that every few years the economy’s shaken up and the publishing world along with it. Some people will suffer, others will manage to survive, and still others will shine and forge ahead. And so it goes.

To read excerpts of FATAL ENCRYPTION and TAXED TO DEATH, please visit

Friday, January 16, 2009

Book Marketing Tip: The Elevator Pitch

Every time an author writes a book, he or she must come up with a very brief description of the work--something that intrigues and entices. Some say this descriptive "spiel" should be 25-30 words long; some say 2 sentences.

This type of spiel is most commonly referred to as the "elevator pitch".

Consider you're on an elevator and the publisher from Bantam joins you for 5 floors. You now have about 30 seconds to pitch your book.

What do you say?

Or do you stare at the door, then kick yourself when he gets off on his floor? :)

Cheryl Kaye Tardif,
bestselling author of Whale Song

Canadian Authors Association Mourns Loss of Alec McEachern

For immediate release:

Canadian Authors Association Mourns Loss of Alec McEachern

January 13, 2009 – The Canadian Authors Association announces with great sadness that its National Director, Alec McEachern, passed away on Friday, January 9, in his 75th year.

Alec began as CAA’s National Administrator in 1995 and has tirelessly provided support and assistance to the board, committees, and members across Canada for the past thirteen years.

“Alec’s dedication went far beyond his job title,” states CAA Treasurer, Deborah Ranchuk. “He always shared our goal of doing what’s best for the association. With that common goal, we forged a working relationship and friendship based on mutual respect. He is an immense loss to the CAA.”

“Among other things, Alec served as our corporate memory,” adds Anne Osborne, editor of the association’s newsletter, National Newsline. “He was an unshakeable source of good information.”

Prior to his work with CAA, Alec worked as a professional engineer and published a number of papers related to nuclear reactors in the Canadian Nuclear Technology and other journals. His career included working for Atomic Energy of Canada Ltd. in Chalk River. At one time considered Canada’s expert in non-destructive testing, Alec also worked as a consultant for the United Nations Atomic Energy Commission training scientists in Argentina in the use of reactors. In the years that followed, Alec also worked at A.E.A. Harwell in the United Kingdom and Ontario Hydro in Toronto.

Alec will be sadly missed by family and a very long list of friends and associates – including countless CAA members. A memorial service will be held on Saturday, January 17, 3:00 to 8:00 pm, at the Veterans’ Association Club, 406 Millard Avenue, Newmarket. In lieu of flowers, the family has asked for donations to the Canadian Authors Association (cheques only).


Media and Other Contact
Anita Purcell
Interim Executive Director
Toll-free: 866.216.0622
(Posted here with permission from the CAA)

Sunday, January 11, 2009

New Year's Resolutions? Not So Fast.

I’m not a big fan of New Year’s resolutions, so you won’t see me posting long optimistic lists to share with the world. I’m even hesitant to write about resolutions, which is why I’m raising the topic on January 11th, when about half the population have probably already given up on theirs.

Don’t get me wrong. I believe in goals and I certainly believe in making lists, prioritizing, and self-improvement. I’m a former smoker, I’ve controlled my weight all my life (though it’s gotten harder this past decade), and I haven’t developed any serious vices. But those accomplishments come from decisions that had nothing to do with New Year’s Eve or resolutions.

But other writers on forums and blogs have posed the resolution question, so I’ve been mulling it over. And the best answer I can give is to do what I’ve been doing, only better. To improve at writing, to finish short stories started months ago, and to work harder on promotion. I refuse to put numbers on these goals, though. Too many experts warn about making unrealistic expectations and, for me, attaching numbers to writing goals is a recipe for failure. So, for 2009 I simply vow to do the best I can each day with whatever, time, skill, creativity, and energy I have. It’s all the challenge I can manage.

To read excerpts of FATAL ENCRYPTION and TAXED TO DEATH, visit

Guest blogger J.R. Reardon shares her inspiration for Confidential Communications

One of the most common questions authors are asked is: "What inspired you to write your book?" I've answered that for every one of my own novels. Today, I ask author J.R. Reardon this same question.

J.R. Reardon...

The concept of Confidential Communications emerged well over a decade ago. I was fresh out of law school, new to court appearances and had some down time. One night, the idea popped into my head and I found myself typing away feverishly at the computer. Humbly, I printed out an 80 page draft for a very select group of people, had it copywritten, and then put it away in an old file cabinet. The story was well received, but life took over, my cases increased, and I became extremely busy.

In the fall of 2003, I married David and moved from Massachusetts to Washington, D.C. In January, we learned that we were expecting our daughter. Instead of taking on a job in the District, Dave suggested that I sit back and enjoy my pregnancy. I had been a partner in my own law firm for quite some time and it was the perfect time to relax, sit back and smell the proverbial roses. During that time, Dave also suggested that I revisit the book (he was one of the few to have received a copy and he truly enjoyed it).

After reading Confidential Communications for the first time in years, I decided “why not?” The original program was so old however, that I was unable to convert it to Word. So, I retyped it and began the process of expanding it. With another decade of life under my belt, I was able to add some depth to the characters, as well as a few more scenarios. Some of the areas Dave and I had actually visited, and a few we thought would be fun to visit, so I did some research on line. Once we were happy with the final version, off it went to print.

The story and the characters are all fictional, although I will admit that by the end, the character “Joshua” has a little David in him. Also, “Justice McNaught” is based in part on my late grandfather who sat on the Federal District Court for the District of Massachusetts. He was the person who originally inspired me as a child to pursue a degree in law and took ethics extremely seriously. I figured, heck, why not “tip my hat” as a little thank you to him and make him a Justice of the United States Supreme Court?

Publishing a book was always on my “to do list”, although it is surreal to actually hold it and see people buying it…..Here’s my philosophy in life: I don’t want to turn around at age 80 and say “I wish I had done that…” David and I want our daughter to live her life to the fullest in the same way. The world is a great place as long as you see it that way. If you hit any bumps in the road, maybe it’s a sign for you to slow down, open your eyes and your mind, and look at life in yet one more creative way.

~Boston native, Suffolk University Law School alum, and former partner of Saltzman & McNaught LLP, J.R. Reardon has practiced in many areas including civil and criminal litigation. Admitted to practice before the federal and state courts of Massachusetts, the District of Columbia Court of Appeals, and the U.S. Supreme Court, she has taught insurance law with her father and is published in the Suffolk University Law Review.

J.R's website:
J.R.'s blog:

Such great advice, J.R.! I agree; we're often given signs that maybe we need to slow down or take a detour, but often we're so busy rushing through life that we miss seeing those signs. I wish you great success in your writing. You obviously have the "success gene", based on your highly impressive list of educational and professional credits. So...if I ever need a lawyer...hmm...

~Cheryl Kaye Tardif,
bestselling author of Whale Song, The River and Divine Intervention

Saturday, January 10, 2009 -- How to Sell Books Fast
One of the fastest ways to sell books is public speaking. What's great about speaking publicly is that you see the results immediately. You speak to a small group of people, could be as few as 10 or 20 people and immediately afterward you sell your book in the back of the room.

To begin with you must know who your target market is because generally if your book is about Biology you stand a better chance at selling books to biologist than basketball players but not necessarily because many people will buy your book because they want your autograph. They may never even read your book but they want to brag to their friends that they met "a real author".

But how do you set up a public speaking event? I say, why waste your time setting up an event from scratch when there are many groups that are begging for speakers to speak to their people and they've already lined up the people. A great organization to start with is are Rotary Clubs. You can google them and find the local chapters in your area. They're a wonderful organization of business owners that join together to network and more importantly do charitable work in their communities. They're always looking for speakers and if you can tailor your book's message to fit their needs they would love to have you speak.

You begin with a simple short email to them introducing yourself to them and what your message will be. They will usually respond within a few days and you find out what day(s) they have available. You arrive early, introduce yourself to the moderator who booked you, be friendly to all the people as they enter and set your stack of books up at a table that is strategically placed right next to the door so that after you speak they HAVE to pass by you in order to speak.

You give a short speech that inspires them and keep it at about 15-20 minutes and allow for questions and answers. Then, afterward you speak.

I suggest you let the Rotary Club members know how much you normally charge and what kind of discount you're offering them and if a portion of your proceeds are supporting a charity even better. Remember to also mention to them that your book would make " a great gift" and that you'll autograph it for them. You'll be surprised at what a positive response you'll get. In my experience at least 50% of the people I speak to end up buying the book. It's an instant way to sell more books and see the results immediately.

Cheryl will be guest blogging on Bertram's Blog on January 12

Mark down Monday, January 12, 2009, on your calendars and be sure to join me as I guest blog on Bertram's Blog.

I'll be talking about my iPhone novel Finding Bliss, which has created quite a stir.

~Cheryl Kaye Tardif

Cheryl's "Craig Ferguson Campaign" takes off

My endeavor to be a guest on The Late Late Show with Craig Ferguson has attracted some attention. Emails are flooding into CBS from my fellow author friends, family, fans and even complete strangers who have caught the craze.

Yes, sometimes we authors have to really go out on a limb. Or 2. Sometimes we have to boldly go where no author has gone before. And this means sending tons of emails to Craig at CBS.

I belong to a "Shameless" group on the thriller forum over at, a forum where authors from all over the world have united to help get the word out about each other's books, and now my friends there have pitched in to help me get Craig Ferguson's attention, so that I can see one of my dreams come true.

Here is one of the emails that has been sent so far:

Dear Mr. Ferguson,

Okay, I must apologize for the torrent of emails that you may be receiving this week from the regular and may I be so bold to say talented participants of Amazon's absolutely crazymadnuts discussion "Shameless Self Promotion by Author (2)"..... but our dear friend Cheryl is dying to be on your show. Well, not her dying personally, since it's her business to kill off other people through her books.

I'm going to keep this one short and sweet - I'd watch if she were on! And it's all about the viewers, right? ;) Plus, Cheryl's a very determined woman. Her presence is everywhere she can get her hands on, on the internet and elsewhere - again.....more viewers for you! So it's a win-win situation for you, the network and for Cheryl. And Cheryl can finally knock this off her list of things to do in life before the big guy in the sky writes her off.

Seriously, she's a fantastic, talented and funny author, and she would be a great asset to your show.

My best to you and yours for a Happy New Year!
Jeannine R. Reardon, Esq.
a/k/a J.R. Reardon
author, "Confidential Communications"

Some of the other emails sent are just priceless. :)

So what do I need from you??

Please email Craig Ferguson and tell him you'd like to see me on his show. Maybe let him know why you think I'd make a good guest. :)

~Cheryl Kaye Tardif,
author of Whale Song, The River and Divine Intervention

Thursday, January 08, 2009

Landing an Agent with Power Query Letters

My good friend, Jeff Rivera, is offering 2 tele-seminars devoted to helping authors attract agents and land celebrity endorsements for their books. I can certainly vouch for his expertise in query writing; his advice and services helped me land a New York agent, plus I actually had to turn away some. ~ Cheryl Kaye Tardif, bestselling author of Whale Song

Landing an Agent with Power Query Letters by Jeff Rivera

When: Wednesday, January 14, 4pm - 5pm

Description: Jeff Rivera of will teach a tele-seminar on How to Land a Literary Agent. Mr. Rivera has helped his clients score thousands of requests from top literary agents for their manuscripts from The William Morris Agency to Writers House. The first hurdle in getting representation is receiving a request from an agent for your manuscript and in this special tele-seminar class Jeff Rivera will teach you how to write a Power Query Letter guaranteed to bring you results.

Landing Celebrity Endorsements by Jeff Rivera

When: Wednesday, January 21, 4pm - 5pm

Description: Jeff Rivera of will teach a tele-seminar class on How to Land Celebrity Endorsements for Your Book. Landing Celebrity Endorsements can mean the difference between scoring a book deal or not, between selling a handful of books and selling thousands. Jeff Rivera has landed endorsements from celebrities from Jeff Foxworthy to Kenny Rogers and from Oscar winners to Grammy Winners. If you've always wondered how you could land a celebrity for your book you'll want to stay tuned for this special class.

How to join in:
To sign up or learn more about these classes send an email to

Reprinted from "The Book Marketing Expert newsletter," a free ezine offering book promotion and publicity tips and techniques.

Tuesday, January 06, 2009

Finishing The Novel

If you don't have time to watch this video, here's all you need to know. Guy writes novel on a typewriter. Guy finishes novel. Guy tosses novel in fireplace. Guy writes novel again. Guy tosses said book in fireplace. Guy's wife prepares to view novel and races upstairs. Guy writes whole novel in five minutes, then tosses in fireplace. Guy buys a computer and writes novel. Guy tosses computer into the fire.

As a writer, I find this amusing for so many reasons. Discuss.


Karen Harrington
author, Janeology - a novel I once thought of tossing into the fire, but thankful I did not.

Visit me at

Monday, January 05, 2009

Are you an overwriter?

Do you know if you are an overwriter? Answer: ALL writers are occasionally driven to overwrite.

It's like being that person at a party who, after they tell a funny anecdote, goes on to describe the tale another way just in case you didn't get it the first time. Sometimes, this person just thinks that repeating the story will have a more profound effect. When you meet this person, you want to say "Hey, I got it the first time!" but instead you shuffle away in search of a drink.
Such is the way of the overwriter who likes to continue stretching out description/dialogue tags or internal thoughts - just in case you didn't get it. Much like the desire to flee the anecdotally challenged, overdescriber, a reader has the option of skipping over pages of overwriting, or putting the book down completely.

I've been thinking about this subject a lot lately as I've been editing my current novel. There are MANY areas where I, too, have fallen prey to overwriting and my editor is wise to point them out, cross through whole paragraphs with a black pen and banish them to Delete Key Heaven. Often, she will add a note in the margins that I need to delete whole sections in order to "highlight the one gem" within a scene. At first, I was hesistant to do this, arguing (with myself) that these paragraphs had more fully conveyed my meaning. But then I wised up and realized I was being the anecdotally challenged party person who goes on too long, possibly insulting the attention of her listeners. After I pared down the page to highlight the gem, I realized that letting it stand alone created more intensity than trying to plant a bunch of smelly, useless flowers around it. Sometimes a single rose is more memorable than a whole garden. In other words, less is more. Said another way, a tree grows best after it has been pruned. Or rather...

(Okay, you get the idea.)

Have I mentioned how much I love editors? I do.

If you want an editor's point of view on this, go over to Editorial Ass. Here's her recent list of the "words overwriters love to use."

jeer (jeeringly)
sneer (sneeringly)
coax (coaxingly)
sudden, suddenly
anything that ends in -ingly

Read the full article here. Then go to the Search/Find tool on your computer and seek out all these words in your draft!


K. Harrington
author, Janeology

"Think outside the book!"

We've all heard the expression: "Think outside the box!"

Well, today I am a guest blogger over at Book Marketing Floozy, and I talk about how authors need to "think outside the book" when looking for ways to market their work.

Check out the post on Book Marketing Floozy.

(Does this mean I'm an honorary "floozy"?)

~Cheryl Kaye Tardif,

Sunday, January 04, 2009

A Haunting Scene

While driving to work at six a.m. last Saturday, I took a close look at the world around me. I had to. Driving at a normal speed was out of the question. After a week of daily snowfall, it had begun to rain the night before and roads were rapidly flooding all over the lower mainland. City workers hadn’t had time to clear the dirty, three-foot banks of snow away from the drains and enormous pools were forming.

I stayed in the fast lane to avoid the worst of the water, but hadn’t gone far before I saw that the lights had gone out in this section of town. There were no street lights, no traffic lights, and certainly no lights in anyone’s window. Instantly, Port Moody looked desolate. Ahead, I spotted a light-colored vehicle stopped at an odd angle. About the time I realized the car had been abandoned in deep water, I also realized that I was in the water. I kept moving and mercifully, my four-wheel RAV got me out safely.

More strange sights occurred along that drive until I reached Coquitlam, where the power was on. All day long, images of that abandoned car, the darkness and the water haunted me, so I did what I always do when images stay with me. I made notes. After all, that drive would make a pretty good opening for a noir mystery, don’t you think? Now all I have to do is come up with a plot to fit the scene.

To read excerpts of FATAL ENCRYPTION and TAXED TO DEATH, please visit

Guest blogger Susan McLeod talks about her writing style

Author Susan McLeod is a friend of mine and the author of Soul and Shadow, which I read recently and really enjoyed. Today I've asked her to share a bit about her writing style on The Write Type as my guest.


My writing style is really quite simple―I just listen to the voices in my head and do what they tell me to!

Somehow, they are born in my subconscious, where they grow and mature quite independently of my conscious mind. When the time is right, they begin to speak. Then I know it’s time to put them down on paper and officially introduce them to the world.

In the case of my novel, Soul and Shadow, the characters have been living inside me since I watched my first mummy movie lo these many years ago. Egypt seemed the most romantic land in the world, and I half wanted to be dragged off by a bandaged monster dragging one foot behind him, because of course he was really a tormented but handsome prince looking for his lost love. I was that reincarnated princess, and we would live happily ever after, fully restored to our former glory.

That dream faded, but my love of Egypt did not. I studied it and am still learning to this day. While attending an exhibit at the local museum, I was looking at the mummy when I heard a woman say, “That’s why I’m being cremated!” And so, around that kernel, Soul and Shadow was born.

I had no outline. I had no plan. I just sat down at the computer and started typing. It sounds trite to say it wrote itself, but it really did. Whenever I tried to impose my will on the story, the story fought back, and I always gave in. The voices knew more than I did.

I was quite surprised at some of the twists and turns the novel took. People who I thought were bad turned out to be good, and vice-versa. Like any reader, I followed the story anxiously to see what would happen.

When it was finished, I will never forget how I sat and cried. I was so happy that I’d given the characters free reign, because they knew what they were doing. I had several friends, including teachers and librarians, read my work. I incorporated their constructive comments and made minor changes in a second draft. Then we all proof-read it nine thousand times. At least. And it was ready to be published.

I hope it captures all the mystery, romance and magic of ancient Egypt. Because my greatest dream is for a reader to feel transported the way I was by that mummy movie long ago.

That is the way I approach each of my stories. When inspiration strikes (and it can be anywhere) I carry that seed to the keyboard, sit down, and just start typing. I never use outlines and never write more than two drafts. I can’t recommend it to everyone, but it works for me. I’m a midwife, and there’s nothing I enjoy more than sending my children out into the world.

~Susan McLeod has won many prizes for her poetry and short stories. Soul and Shadow is her first novel, and she lives in Upstate New York with her family.

Susan's website:

Thank you, Susan, for sharing this with us. Everything you've said reminds me so much of my own journey with Whale Song, and all the characters who seemed to be a part of me. I hope your post inspires other writers to listen to those voices. :)

Check out my review of Soul and Shadow.

~Cheryl Kaye Tardif,
bestselling author of Whale Song, The River and Divine Intervention

Friday, January 02, 2009

Whale Song - "One of my favourite Christmas gifts this year"

Before Christmas, a longtime friend of mine ordered a copy of Whale Song for his sister Sue. We all had grown up in the small, isolated town of Masset on the Queen Charlotte Islands, which is just north of Vancouver Island, BC. Whale Song was partially inspired by my life there, and by my favorite Haida legends.

Today, I heard back from Sue, whose own blog is filled with wonderful, talented writing. She wrote about Whale Song and she's allowed me to quote her here...

"One of my favourite Christmas gifts this year was a novel entitled “Whale Song”. It’s written by Cheryl Kaye Tardif, who, in addition to being fantastic writer, is also an old family friend. She went to high school with my older brother Mike, and I’ll always remember, even though I was the bratty, tag-along little sister, that Cheryl was always so sweet and kind to me.

The book is, in my opinion, a must-read for anyone who loves stories that combine coming-of-age, heartwarming family stories, the tragic realities of life, and a little mystery (and I’m not just saying that because I know her!). The story is about a young girl who is displaced with her family from Wyoming to the west coast of Canada. She meets and befriends an Aboriginal family and they teach her about their culture and their way of life. As tremendous adversity befalls her, she uses what she’s learned about native spirituality to guide her through difficult waters.

I devoured this book in a little under 2 days - and for me, that is some kind of record. I couldn’t put it down! For me, it was more than just a story..."

Please read Sue Murphy's full post on SuzeMuse. It is inspiring and really makes you think about the past and how our pasts have made us who we are today. Thank you, Susan, for this reminder.

Why Where You Come From Is Important

~Cheryl Kaye Tardif