Sunday, February 22, 2009

The Google Settlement. Are You In?

If you’re a published author and you haven’t heard about the Google settlement, there’s something you need to know. A few days ago, announcements were made about a proposed settlement of a class action lawsuit instigated by authors and publishers against Google. The lawsuit claims that Google has violated their copyrights and those of other rightsholders by digitizing authors’ books to create an electronic database of every single book published. From what I’ve been told, Google plans to digitize all books going back umpteen decades. In some cases, Google’s also been displaying short excerpts of authors’ work without their knowledge or permission. Needless to say, this does indeed violate copyright law and thus, the settlement.

Now, you writers out there have a decision to make. You can refuse to have your work digitized and opt out of the agreement, or you can decide to let Google have an electronic copy of your work and receive remuneration for it. How much remuneration and when it will be paid hasn’t been decided, as far as I can tell. But please note that I haven’t read the entire agreement and am not an expert on the topic.

There are important dates for you to know, though. If you wish to opt out of the agreement you must do so by May 9, 2009. If you wish to stay in and receive remuneration, you must fill out the form and send it in by January 10, 2010. To read the settlement and acquire instructions about making a claim, go to It’s a simple site to navigate.

Unfortunately, the downside to publishing in the electronic age is that it’s easy for things like this to happen. So, we all have to stay vigilant and share information as we find it. And I hope this information helps you.

To read excerpts of Taxed to Death and Fatal Encryption, go to
Also note, that you can order books from my website too!

Sunday, February 15, 2009

Good News: People are Reading More, or Are They?

In today’s tough economy, with publishing house staff facing layoffs and too many bookstores edging closer to bankruptcy, you might be surprised to learn that reading is actually on the rise, according to a study conducted by the United States Census Bureau in 2008. The study reports that for the first time since 1982, the number of adults who’ve read a novel, short story, poem or play in the past twelve months has increased. The number of literary novels being read isn’t as high as it was in 1982, or even 1992, yet there has been a dramatic rise among eighteen to twenty-four year olds.

Several times over the past decade, I’ve heard anecdotes about the “dumbing down” of America, about people refusing to read any kind of novel that requires thinking. I’ve also heard that the average American reads at the level of a grade five student. I have no idea if this is true, but if more people are reading literary works, the dumbing down trend is certainly debatable.

Critics of these types of studies also argue that reading never really went down. People simply chose to do their reading online rather than by purchasing a book. Also, earlier studies apparently didn’t differentiate between people who read several books a month to those who read only one poem. Nor did the study differentiate between those who read Charles Dickens or Nora Roberts. So, take all of this with a grain of salt. And keep reading! Read a lot! Read everything and enjoy yourself! Which reminds me, a friend sent me the words of wisdom below. I’ve heard them before and I thought I’d share.

Life should NOT be a journey to the grave with the intention of arriving safely in an attractive and well preserved body, but rather to skid in sideways, chocolate in one hand, wine in the other, body thoroughly used up, totally worn out and screaming “Woo Hoo what a ride!”

It wouldn’t hurt to have a couple of paperbacks in your back pocket either :)

To read excerpts of Taxed to Death and Fatal Encryption visit

Sunday, February 08, 2009

Surviving the Tax Man

After years of writing my first novel, Taxed to Death, and obtaining great feedback from an agent, I decided to send the manuscript to an editor for a final copy edit. The editor did a good job, but her last question caught me completely off guard. “Have you contacted Revenue Canada (now called Revenue Canada Agency) about using them in your book?”

As a neophyte, I hadn’t even thought about it, but the question worried me enough to seek a legal opinion. The lawyer said that since Revenue Canada is a real institution and I had two main characters employed there, I needed Revenue Canada’s permission to publish the book, otherwise they had the legal right to prevent publication.

With trepidation, I contacted Revenue Canada’s public relations department and explained that I was a mystery writer who’d written a novel involving R.C. and was wondering if I could use Revenue Canada in my book? The woman on the other end of the line paused before saying, “We’ve never had anyone ask us this before.” No kidding. She told me she’d have to check with head office, meaning Ottawa. I really began to worry. What if they said no and shut down years of work right there?

Within twenty-four hours, the public relations woman informed me that headquarters wanted a plot outline of the book and the names of my R.C. characters to run through a database. They needed to know if characters’ names matched real employees, past and present, across the country. If they did, I’d have to change my names. Taxed to Death is contemporary and set in Vancouver, but it didn’t matter to Ottawa. If my characters’ names matched a Nova Scotia employee who’d been employed with R.C. twenty years earlier, I’d still have to make changes. My characters’ names are Alex Bellamy and Kelly Faust. Revenue Canada employs a lot of people so, needless to say, I began to panic.

A few days later, I received a letter from Revenue Canada. To my relief and amazement, they found no match between real and fictional names, and I had permission to use Revenue Canada in the book. They also wished me luck and, to this day, I’m grateful. But neither will I use a real institution again without making a few phone calls first.

And now, at long last, I'm happy to announce that my publisher has just released the electronic version of Taxed to Death on Mobipocket and Kindle. The cover showing blood on a stack of tax forms is so fitting that I wish I'd thought of it with the print edition!

If you'd like to read excerpts of Taxed to Death or Fatal Encryption, please visit

Monday, February 02, 2009

Interview with John Rosenman, author of Alien Dreams

Today, I'm interviewing another Drollerie Press author--John Rosenman. John has published eight books: Alien Dreams; Beyond Those Distant Stars; Dax Rigby, War Correspondent; and Speaker of the Shakk. His short fiction has appeared in Weird Tales, Whitley Strieber’s Aliens, Starshore, Hot Blood, The Age of Wonders, etc.

1. Tell us about Alien Dreams, published by Drollerie Press.

It’s my most cosmic novel, with dark, evil, and angelically beautiful aliens. Captain Eric Latimore leads a mission to a distant world where he is transformed into a giant alien in order to save his crew. After he makes love to their lovely queen for 10,000 subjective years, he travels across space to do battle with a godlike Gatekeeper who rules this universe.

2. What’s your most recent publication?

Dax Rigby, War Correspondent (Lyrical Press), is about a young reporter who travels to Arcadia to investigate two warring alien species. There, he falls in love with a beautiful pilot and discovers a deadly conspiracy. He also learns he’s the incarnation of a god, and only he can save billions of lives back on Earth.

3. Tell us about a favorite minor character.

Thaddeus Burke, in Dax Rigby, is a dissolute drunk heavily into pornography who becomes spiritually reborn when the hero brings someone back from the dead. However, he still writes bad poetry, which is unintentionally humorous.

4. What inspires you most to write your novels?

I love to write about people who go to distant worlds and have amazing adventures, especially with bizarre, fantastic aliens. I like to find the humanity in aliens who seem completely different from us. I also write about people transforming into weird or marvelous new forms, or about a messiah who saves humanity.

5. What is your favorite thing about writing?

Getting turned on by doing it. Nothing beats having the words flow and feeling inspired. I also like selling a story, and having readers say they liked it.

6. How do you get ideas?

Sometimes they come from almost NOTHING. One novel came from a single word: Dreamfarer. One time my wife put three bulbs of garlic in my suitcase and I wrote a crazy tale called “Three Pounds of Garlic in a Dead Man’s Hand.” Once I took my son trick or treating and he disappeared briefly behind a trellis, so I wrote a story about a man whose son disappears on Halloween and enters another universe.

7. What are you working on now?

Dark Wizard occurs in San Luis Obispo, CA. The city has strange sights, including Bubblegum Alley with decades of gum on its walls. The main character “woke up” two months ago and doesn’t know who he is, but he can read minds and bring dead people back to life. Then he discovers an alien monster inhabiting his mind and meets a beautiful girl with a dark secret.

8. When did you realize you were a story teller?

It goes back to early childhood when I lay in bed in the dark and listened to scary radio programs like “Lights Out.” Then I’d write stories in crayon.

9. What is the best part of world building for you?

Making it interesting! In A Senseless Act of Beauty, due out from Blade Publishing, I create an African-like world with a vast, underground alien complex. The fun was creating endless new sights and vast rooms with mind-stretching wonders.

10. What is the biggest mistake new writers make?

Quitting because of rejection or flagging motivation. You know, a lot of folks get ideas. The writer is the one who grabs onto them and makes something grow, even if it involves sweat and hard work. Not reading enough good stuff is another problem. It’s hard to make a flower grow in a mental vacuum. Science fiction, for example, is largely a genre of ideas. You need to read it to see which ones have been used before.

You can learn more about John Rosenman at his website: and he writes a monthly blog at

Thank you, John, for sharing your strange new worlds with us. They all sound fascinating and "out of this world". :) ~Cheryl Kaye Tardif, bestselling author of The River

Sunday, February 01, 2009

Writing About White-Collar Crime

Since both of my Alex Bellamy books focus on some aspect of white-collar crime, (fraud in Taxed to Death and hacking in Fatal Encryption), I’ve read many articles on the topic. It’s a subject that interests me deeply. In fact, I write a blog on various aspects of white-collar crime at

Did you know that in America, someone’s identity is stolen every 79 seconds? This type of crime is costing an estimated $50 billion dollars a year. In troubling economic times, ID theft and fraud skyrocket, so here’s some tips on what to do if you’ve been victimized:

Notify your credit card companies and cancel accounts.

Notify your bank and place a stop order on your account if you think it’s at risk. Also let them know if you’ve had checks stolen so they can place a stop payment on any checks issued.

Notify the police.

Notify utility companies and anyone else you have financial dealings with.

Change your PINs and passwords.

Contest any bill or statement when you know you didn’t purchase the item listed, even if it’s a small amount.

If you’ve lost your passport, driver's license or employee identification, advise issuers right away and request replacements.

If your computer’s been tampered with or accessed without your knowledge, scan it for spy ware as soon as you can. Also change any passwords.

Pay attention to mail delivery. A lot of ID theft begins with stolen bank statements, etc.

Create a file of everything concerning the identity theft.

Document all correspondence and request full details concerning money owed.

If you still don’t feel secure about the handling of this matter, it is best to hire an identity theft attorney.

Hope this helps, and be careful out there!

To read excerpts of TAXED TO DEATH and FATAL ENCRYPTION visit