Thursday, April 30, 2009

Writers: Become a 'whatever it takes' kind of person

Do you allow negativity to rule your life, or are you empowered by the desire to succeed no matter what? It's your choice. Really. Pick one or the other. It's that simple.

Even when faced with immeasurable odds, those who succeed do so because of an inner voice that tells them to continue pursuing their goals no matter what it takes, no matter what challenges they meet. And believe me, we all have challenges.

Those who see a challenge and mentally give up or allow fear to control them will never see true success. They think, "I can't do it. This challenge is in my way. I'm afraid to face it." They hand over all the power to that challenge.

Those who see it and push through or find a way around a challenge will reach their goals because they are persistent and creative. They think, "What can I do to push through or go around? How can I make this challenge help me or disappear? I'll do whatever it takes!" These people are empowered by faith, hope and most of all, a dream.

Don't let anything or anyone stand in your way. If your dream is big enough, you can find the 'whatever it takes' person inside you.

"Become a 'whatever it takes' kind of person and success won't just knock on the door, it'll step right inside." --Cheryl Kaye Tardif
~Cheryl Kaye Tardif

Wednesday, April 29, 2009

I Enjoy Keeping Men Up Late at Night!

A couple of days ago I received an email from Aaron Lazar, author of Tremolo: Cry of the Loon. He said: “I started A Spark of Heavenly Fire last night and am HOOKED, big time! I read 100 pages (usually I fall asleep when reading in bed after a few pages) and dreamed about it all night. Wonderful! Can’t wait to read more, Pat. You’ve got a winner here.” Today he wrote: “Read another hundred pages last night. I’m mad with you! I didn’t get enough shut eye! HAAAAA!”

I do enjoy keeping men up late at night! I like keeping women up late at night, too. During all these years of wondering what it would be like to have people read my published novels, this is one aspect I never took into consideration — how wonderful it would feel to know that I am keeping people up past their bedtime so they could read a few more pages. Such an awesome power!

In November, I posted a bloggery, “What If People Like My Books?” I had been so focused on getting published, that for some reason until then it never occurred to me to wonder what it would be like if people actually enjoyed my novels. After 200 rejections, I was poised to deal with more of the same, but so far I have received only positive feedback. It’s an incredibly affirming experience to have people peek into your mind, to become intimately involved with your creation, and to get what you’re saying. So much of me is in the books that I thought I would feel exposed, but I don’t for the simple reason that the books no longer belong to me. They belong to anyone who reads and enjoys them.

Wanda H. wrote: “I’ve now read both books! They were both spellbinding and kept me engrossed until I finished. It was hard to put them down to sleep and not to pick them up again in the morning and instead go and do things.

My favorite is A Spark of Heavenly Fire. I love the characters and the action and the . . . well, everything. But it only edges out More Deaths Than One by a bit.

I now see what you mean about an unnamed genre. Kind of a big picture conspiracy, behind the scenes machinations and how that affects the little guy (or gal) on the street. You did such a terrific job. I know you’re going to enjoy tremendous success not only with these books but also with the books you’ve yet to write.

Anyway, just to gush a little more…. I love your work! You rock!”

Sheila Deeth, who won the first autographed copy of my book because of her wonderfully imaginative entry for my More Deaths Than One Contest, wrote an incredible review of the book. She starts out: The first three pages of “More Deaths than One” have to constitute a serious contender for the best opening scene of a novel. Two main characters are introduced, a garrulous waitress and a taciturn hot-chocolate customer. They meet. She talks, a lot. He reads the paper. “And Lydia Loretta Stark was dead. Again.” With two such immediately real and appealing characters, and a line like that, I’d challenge anyone not to want to keep turning the pages. more . . .

So . . . what if people like my books? I feel honored, and if truth be told, a bit humbled.

Sunday, April 26, 2009

2009 Short List for Arthur Ellis Awards

This week, I had the pleasure of participating on a panel of crime writers to discuss Canadian contemporary fiction writing. It was great fun and we spoke on a variety of topics--even personal writing habits. The highlight of the evening, though was announcing the short list of this year’s Arthur Ellis Award nominees. Maybe you’ll recognize some names, but if you don’t you might in the future.


Pasha Malla, “Filmsong” in Toronto Noir (Akashic Books)
James Powell “Clay Pillows” in Ellery Queen Mystery Magazine (June 2008)
Peter Robinson, “Walking the Dog” in Toronto Noir (Akashic Books)
Amelia Symington, “An Ill Wind” in Ellery Queen Mystery Magazine (Sept/Oct 2008)
Kris Wood, “Thinking Inside the Box” in Going Out with a Bang (RendezVous Crime)


Daphne Bramham, The Secret Lives of Saints: Child Brides and Lost Boys in Canada's Polygamous Mormon Sect (Vintage Canada/RHC)
Sharon Butala, The Girl in Saskatoon: A Meditation on Friendship, Memory and Murder (Phyllis Bruce Books/HarperCollins)
Alex Caine, Befriend and Betray: Infiltrating the Hells Angels, Bandidos and Other Criminal Brotherhoods (Vintage Canada/RHC)
Michael Calce & Craig Silverman, Mafiaboy: How I Cracked the Internet and Why It’s Still Broken (Penguin Canada)
Kerry Pither, Dark Days: The Story of Four Canadians Tortured in the Name of Fighting Terror (Penguin Canada)


Vicki Grant, Res Judicata (Orca)
Susan Juby, Getting the Girl (HarperCollins)
Elizabeth MacLeod, Royal Murder (Annick Press)
Norah McClintock, Dead Silence (Scholastic Canada)
Sharon E. McKay, War Brothers (Penguin Canada)


Jacques Côté, Le Chemin des brumes (Alire)Maxime Houde, Le Poids des Illusions (Alire)
André Jacques, La Tendresse du serpent (Québec Amérique)
Sylvain Meunier, L’Homme qui détestait le golf (La courte échelle)
Antoine Yaccarini, Meurtre au Soleil (VLB éditeur)


Nadine Doolittle, Iced Under (Bayeux Arts/Gondolier)
John C. Goodman, Talking to Wendigo (Turnstone)
April Lindgren, Headline: Murder (Second Story Press)
Howard Shrier, Buffalo Jump (Vintage Canada)
Phyllis Smallman, Margarita Nights (McArthur & Company)


Linwood Barclay, Too Close to Home (Bantam)
Maureen Jennings, The K Handshape (Castle Street Mysteries/Dundurn)
James W. Nichol, Transgression (McArthur & Company)
Louise Penny, The Murder Stone (McArthur & Company)
Michael E. Rose, The Tsunami File (McArthur & Company)


Pam Barnsley, This Cage of Bones
Gloria Ferris, Cheat the Hangman
Stephen Maher, Salvage
Douglas A. Moles, Louder
Kevin Thornton, Condemned

The results will be announced at the Bloody Words Conference in June. Congratulations to all of the nominees!

Thursday, April 23, 2009

What do you think about symbolism in modern novels?

Are you familiar with the weekly Booking Through Thursday meme? If not, check it out. Each week, a question about all things books is posed and anyone can join in on the conversation.

This week's topic - Symbolism in stories: Is this a literary device of the past?

I've posted my response here. I'd love to know your thoughts - both as a reader and a writer.

Good reading,

Karen Harrington
author, Janeology

Wednesday, April 22, 2009

Good Day for Tribeca

The Tribeca Film Festival opens today in New York City with the Moon in Aries on a Good Day. This community film festival was born out of the tragedy of 9/11. In the passionate spirit from which is was created the New York Times has given this year's festival a rave review. It is amazing how out of anger and aggression we can plant the seeds of inspiration and rebirth. Kudos to those behind the scenes and to all who support and love the arts. America is beautiful.

Have the best day everyday.


Sunday, April 19, 2009

To Pseudonymize or Not to Pseudonymize

(I am aware that there is no such word as pseudonymize, but “To Choose a Pseudonym or Not to Choose a Pseudonym” doesn’t have the same ring.)

Cary Grant, Clark Gable, Gary Cooper. Hard guys with hard names. And what about Michael Caine, Sean Connery, Kevin Costner, Nicholas Cage, Clint Eastwood? More hard guys with hard names.

Is it any accident that some of the world’s best-selling authors are men with hard names? King. Would he ever have become King if he had a name like Shayne? Only if his first name was Mike. And don’t forget Koontz, Clancy, Cook.

I thought a lot about using a pseudonym, something hard like Cole Black that would immediately proclaim, “Here is an author with an edge.” But there would be problems with a pseudonym: cashing royalty checks; explaining to a publisher that I’m not hiding anything by using a fake name; being invited to the White House as Cole Black and only having identification for Pat Bertram. Ouch. Except for the last, they are simple problems after all. But then I got to wondering: if I did a book signing and people expected a man and were confronted with a woman, would they feel cheated?

In the end I decided to stick with my own name. It’s a good name for an author with enough hard consonants to sound authoritative. Besides, it has the whole androgynous “It’s Pat” thing going for it; I can be whoever I want.

And anyway, p’s and b’s and t’s and r’s didn’t hurt Brad Pitt any.

A Meeting of Minds

This week, I had the opportunity to read a short excerpt from Fatal Encryption to a group of people who all happened to be writers. There are a number of writers’ groups in and around Vancouver, and while most of them have websites, we don’t really have many opportunities to meet one another face to face. So The Brock House Writers’ Society came up with the idea of inviting other groups for an afternoon of reading and food and schmoozing at Brock House situated on Jericho Beach. Brock House itself is a stunning piece of Tudor-style architectural, but to be situated so close to the water with a panoramic view of the mountains was a totally uplifting experience. Honestly, I didn’t want to leave the place.

Also uplifting was the opportunity to match faces to names I’d seen in local newsletters or internet forums. Everyone brought a sample of their work and it was truly amazing to listen to the variety of poetry and prose. Everything from memoir to personal essay to historical fiction, humorous, sad, and poignant were represented. When I experience afternoons like this, I remember not only why I like writing so much, but why I really enjoy listening to the work of others. It was a wonderful afternoon’s entertainment.

To read excerpts of Taxed to Death and Fatal Encryption, visit

Friday, April 17, 2009

An interview with fantasy author and escapist Sarah Avery

Today I'm interviewing Sarah Avery, an author who likes to escape into the fantasy realm and write about it too. We all can use a bit of escapism now and then...

1. So, Sarah, tell us--why did you choose to write fantasy?

When I was a kid I was misdiagnosed with a terminal illness. I escaped into books. Mainstream fiction wasn't far enough away, so I lived on science fiction and fantasy.

I realized I could escape into stories of my own, that I could create worlds out of language, worlds in which my own ostensibly impending demise was just not relevant.

2. So you’re writing unapologetic escapism?

To paraphrase Tolkien, anyone who objects to escapism on principle is, at heart, a jailer.

But that’s not the whole story, either. You know that Marianne Moore aphorism about writing imaginary gardens with real toads in them? If your toads aren’t real enough, nobody can escape into your imaginary garden. So an escapist also has to be able to write like a realist.

2. What writers influence you most?

I love the way LeGuin's early Earthsea novels create the feel of an incredibly deep, varied, longstanding civilization in such short, fast-paced books, and I love the way she handles the experience of being a foreigner in The Dispossessed. Making your viewpoint character an outsider is a common quick-and-dirty writing trick for justifying lots of exposition, and you see it all over fantasy and science fiction. You rarely see the outsider protagonist experience wave after wave of culture shock. The quick-and-dirty author tricks that everyone in the genre has to use, LeGuin usually finds ways to transform into opportunities for depth and beauty.

A lot of what I know about dialog, I learned from Joss Whedon, from Firefly and Buffy the Vampire Slayer. I love the way Whedon can weave comic, tragic, and shamelessly melodramatic layers of story into a single, completely believable conversation.

3. How does your teaching feed your writing?

I'm a freelance tutor these days, and most of my students are teenage boys. Once they catch on that I'm there to help them, not to judge them, they get very honest about how they read, what they read for fun, and why. They’re a great reality check for me because all my formal training in creative writing was about making beautiful sentences. Beautiful sentences are not enough to make a story. Something has to happen. If you ask my students, preferably something with explosions. Fisticuffs at the very least.

4. What's your writing process like?

Right now, while my son is a toddler, my writing process consists of frantically trying on new writing processes, hoping to find one that’s compatible with parenthood. Before my son was born, I used to crank out over 200,000 words a year—that’s about 600 pages—but I used to do it by settling in at my local Starbucks for a four hour writing session every day.

These days, I’m lucky if I can average 300 words a day—that’s a little over one page. On the other hand, I do write every day, no matter what. The day after my son was born, I wrote.

5. So, what’s this new book of yours?

Atlantis Cranks Need Not Apply is a supernatural comedy about a coven of witches on the Jersey Shore who discover a guy with gills washed up on the beach during hurricane season. It’s a stand-alone story, but follows the same characters as my first book, Closing Arguments, in which a Wiccan personal injury attorney has to rescue his dead occultist parents when they get stuck in the wrong afterlife. The characters in Rugosa Coven are a lot of fun to write—they’re very real Neo-Pagans who live in a magical realist version of New Jersey.

For more information about me and my novels, please visit:

Sarah Avery is an escaped academic, a grown-up army brat, a writer, an ambivalently entrepreneurial private tutor, a new mother, a longtime wife, an initiated Wiccan priestess, and a committed blogger ( In addition to the Rugosa Coven novellas available and forthcoming from Drollerie Press, she has stories forthcoming in Black Gate and Jim Baen's Universe.

Thank you, Sarah. It has been great getting to know you and your work. ~ Cheryl Kaye Tardif

Tuesday, April 14, 2009

What Do Your Characters Want?

The most compelling characters are those who want something desperately and who will do anything to get it, which is why Scarlett O’Hara is such a perennially popular character. Frankly, I find her a bit over the top -- selfish and greedy and way too egocentric. I can’t write such characters, at least not at the beginning of a novel. I prefer quiet, unassuming characters who are forced into action by circumstances. (To me, life is the real villain. It does things to us that no make-believe villain can even begin to imagine.) Still, my characters do want.

BOB STARK, the point-of-view character of my novel More Deaths Than One, wants serenity, though what he gets are nightmares, both the sleeping and the waking kind. Debilitated by headaches, he doesn’t have the energy to discover the truth, but Kerry, a young woman he meets in a coffee shop, goads him into it. (I know their meeting is trite, but where would you meet people if you just returned home after eighteen years in Southeast Asia?) When Kerry is threatened, though, he becomes what he needs to be to keep her safe.

My other novel, A Spark of Heavenly Fire, has four point-of-view characters, all of whom want something.

All KATE CUMMINGS wants is a good night’s sleep.

Her husband, a semi-invalid, committed suicide thirteen months ago. Many times during the years of his illness she could have treated him a little better than she did, and she is haunted by her own mean spirit.

Then the red death descends on Colorado, the entire state is quarantined, and martial law is declared. As a patient’s advocate and an insomniac, forty-two-year-old Kate sees more than her share of the horror. People with bright red eyes spewing blood, then falling down--dead. Tanks and trigger-happy troops patrolling the streets. Men in biohazard suits throwing bodies into the back of delivery vans.
Now she wants not to be afraid.

All JEREMY KING wants is to leave Colorado.

He has everything. Two Oscars. A vast Montana ranch. Wife, son, daughter. He also looks better now, at fifty-eight, than he did when he was young.

Having grown up poor in Grand Junction, he hates Colorado, and only came to Denver to finish a film. As soon as the director yells cut, he’s in his rented Lexus on his way to the private airfield where his jet is supposed to be ready for take-off. It isn’t. Instead, armed National Guardsmen inform him that airspace is restricted. Furious that he’s being treated like one of the peasants, he decides to drive home, but the mountain highway is clogged with a thousand cars going nowhere. He returns to Denver, determined to leave Colorado if it’s the last thing he ever does.

All GREG PULLMAN wants is to know the truth.

Since childhood he’s been consumed with the need to know why creatures act the way they do. It is no different with the red death.

After discovering that the disease is a bio-engineered organism, he tries to find out who would develop such a thing, and why. He learns that despite the ban on bio-warfare experimentation, all over the world deadly organisms are being produced and stockpiled. Bubonic plague. West Nile fever. Green monkey virus. Combinations such as smallpox with Ebola and encephalitis.

Burdened by the awful truth, he turns to his friend Kate for comfort, and finds himself wanting her, though he is engaged to Pippi O’Brien.

All PIPPI O’BRIEN wants is . . . well, she doesn’t know what she wants.

After college, she wanted a job at a New York television station, but accepted a position as weathergirl in Denver. Now, at thirty, she wants to marry handsome Greg Pullman, but when he takes the hint and proposes, she says she’ll think about it. A few days later, deciding she does love him after all, she says yes. While waiting in a bar for him that very evening, she meets Jeremy King. Feeling the full force of his personality, she leaves with him, forgetting about Greg. Now she has a new dream: lovely consort to the charismatic King.

She is signing autographs with Jeremy on a downtown street when UN soldiers arrive, level their weapons at the assembled fans, and order everyone to drop to the ground. Fighting back the urge to scream, she obeys. Those who don’t obey are immediately gunned down.

Now all she wants is to accompany Jeremy on his quest to escape from Colorado.

So, that’s what the characters of More Deaths Than One and A Spark of Heavenly Fire want. What do your characters want? What do they get? And in the end, do they get what they want, or do they get what they need?

Twitter 101: How to send messages on Twitter

Have you signed up on Twitter but haven't got a clue what to do next? Are you unsure how to get your messages out? Well, here's a crash course in the very basics of Twitter--sending messages.

First, sign up for a free Twitter account at When you have logged in, you'll be on the Home page of your account.

On the right side, above the search bar, you'll see the following links:
@your username
Direct Messages

Home is where you can send messages out to everyone in Twitterville (or the Twitterverse). You can also send a public message to a specific person by putting @their username anywhere in the message.

@your username shows you all replies to your own posts. You'll want to check every now and then and reply back. To reply, hover over person's message and you'll see a star (to make favorite) and an arrow (reply back).

Direct Messages shows you who you sent private messages to and who sent you private messages. To send DM, click on top drop-down arrow for list. Sometimes DMs don't work, and you have to be following that person and they have to be following you to send a DM.

Twitter is an awesome little social network, a tool that anyone can use...once they figure out how.

Follow Cheryl Kaye Tardif on Twitter. By following me, you'll automatically be entered in my Twitter Contest.

Sunday, April 12, 2009

The Writing Life. Love it? Hate it?

Before I launch into today's topic, I'd like to say YEAH FOR CHERYL, for getting her reviews back, for taking a stand and making things so much easier for the rest of us. I also enjoyed her very thoughtful post about believing in oneself. It ties in with a saying I saw on an office door a couple of days ago:

"The best way to predict the future is to create it."

I'd say that Cheryl does that very well.

So, today I read an interesting article from, where a number of working novelists discussed whether they liked doing what they do for a living. Their comments ranged from immense pleasure to downright misery, which kind of surprised me. Some authors clearly enjoy the process of turning an idea into an entire novel while others suffer through a gamut of emotions including boredom, disillusionment, frustration and downright dread. Writer, Al Kennedy had an interesting view. He compared writing to sex, in that sex is nice, but having to do it for money isn’t so nice. What particularly struck me is that one or two authors actually don’t like writing that much at all, but they’re absolutely addicted to it, as many of us are.

I have to say that I'm mostly on the "love to write" side, although I too experience disappointment and dissatisfaction from time to time. Reworking the same page or chapter because it just doesn’t sound right can be tedious and time consuming. I fear I’ll never be one of those writers who can bash out a novel once a year, or even two, but for some reason, I never lose the urge to stop trying. And like author, Julie Myerson, the simple truth is that, tedious bits or not, I’m happiest when I’m writing, and I can honestly say that I’ve never had a boring day in my life since I picked up my pencil and wrote that first sentence nearly thirty years ago.

To read the article go to I’m not sure how long the link will last, but it was there today.

And for excerpts of Fatal Encryption and Taxed to Death please visit,

Friday, April 10, 2009

Chicken Good Friday

Now that's one HUGE spoiler. Sorry bout that!

Blessing to you and yours.

K. Harrington

Belief Goes a Long Way for a Writer

During a discussion in one of my writer's groups a while back, the topic of book signings, marketing, shyness and belief came up. Some authors expressed that they find signings or sales to be difficult, 'embarrassing', nerve wracking experiences. They don't like them or don't want to do them. Others felt it was a necessary part of a writer's life.

This was my reply:

I understand where you're coming from. My husband is like you and many others. If he had to live off his sales, he'd starve too. Thank God he's into the labour side of things. It's true that some people are more natural at selling, some can learn how easily, and some are just overly pushy...We all know the arrogant saleman or telemarketer who won't let us hang up.

Personally, I've always been good at sales...well, as an adult. But I always set my boundaries and had to believe in the product/service, no matter what it was, charity fundraisers, vacuum cleaners, dayhome directories (which I published myself years ago), Pampered Chef, cosmetics, security systems, vehicles, to name a few. Then I had to believe in myself, that what I had to sell was what many people (not all) needed. That's what got me the sales--not shoving a book in someone's face saying 'Hey, buy this! It's the best book you'll ever read!" (which incidentally is the 'technique' of an author I know).

Years ago, my husband had gotten out of the Armed Forces and had gone into car sales until he could figure out what he really wanted to do. Every night he'd come home and tell me how difficult it was. And this was coming from a guy who lived and breathed cars. He knew them inside and out. I barely knew how to drive one--and only if it was automatic.

The more he complained about his job, the worse it got. Until one day, I'd had enough. I told him to quit, but he refused. Then I said "Learn how to be better and believe you can do it." He said, "You have no idea how hard it is to sell cars. You should try it." Well, one thing led to another and finally I told him I was going to apply for a part-time job at a different dealership. He laughed and said they wouldn't even hire me. So I took the challenge and told him that I thought it was believability that was holding him back from sales. He didn't believe he could do it, therefore he couldn't.

He was right about one thing. I know nothing about vehicles. The next week I started a part time job at a Jeep dealership.

Then my husband said, "It took me weeks to sell my first car. It'll take you months."

On my third day I sold a brand new, fresh off the lot truck...I think it was a Ford F150 or something. :) Did I push my 'sales techniques' down the buyer s throat? No. I stood beside him, believing I could sell cars, while he said "Great, this has blah blah blah..."

When he asked me a question, I said, "I'm new here. Let me go verify that for you." Belief sells! Honesty sells.

I quit after 2 weeks. I had taken the job to prove a point. After that, my husband's sales started to improve. Now, that doesn't mean that he turned into a fabulous salesman, because he didn't. It was still out of his comfort zone. But he learned to improve by believing he could do it--even if only temporarily.

I know many authors who have a published book (traditionally and self) that don't do booksignings. I asked one of my friends why, and he said he just didn't feel comfortable doing it, he 'hated' doing them and then later he grumbled that his sales were low.

People pick up on your attitude. That's why it's key to LOVE those book signings. Unfortunately, you just can't have it both ways.

I know some authors who write more as a hobby. They have a self-published book and don't care how many they sell or if they sell. They did it more for themselves. And that's fine, if that's all they want. Although, I can guarantee that if they started seeing bigger paychecks rolling in, a few of them would change their perspective.

To each their own. I think it's important to understand your individual goal. If all you want is your name on a cover of a book and to sell a few copies to family and friends, that's your choice. Go for it! If your hobby is to self-publish a book every couple of years without any editing, that's your choice too, but don't be surprised if people complain. But if you want this as a career, there are things you must do in order to succeed. Like always learn. Learn more about writing, editing, marketing.

If writing is your passion and you want New York Times best selling status or to catch the attention of a highly motivated traditional publisher, I believe you have to put yourself out there, step out of your comfort zone and grab onto the belief that you CAN do it. If you want it badly enough, you'll make it happen.

And that's the key! I have a friend who is an artist. Her dream is to sell her paintings for tens of thousands of dollars each. I asked her what she was doing to get there and she said 'not much'. She'd only finished a few paintings. I asked how she was going to market them, she didn't have a clue. I asked if she could envision her art gallery opening with hundreds of people attending. She couldn't. I believe that when my friend can see that art gallery show, imagine, envision, taste the wine, hear the people's comments, that's when she'll believe it herself. Then and only then will she be on the right track to success. She has to develop a 'whatever it takes' attitude first.

Now consider that all I've said above is coming from the shyest kid there ever was in a BC kid. The kid who sat in the back row, who had zero self esteem. Sure I became very good at sales. My last professional J.O.B. was managing a sales department for a large security company and writing copy. I also became a motivational speaker for a major international organization. I overcame my shyness because I had to--I wanted to. And I wanted be the 'best at everything I do. And since writing has always been my intense passion and I want to be very successful at it, I overcame my nervousness of booksignings because there was no other choice.

It all boils down, I think, to one key question: How badly do you want it? Then it's up to you to define what 'it' is. Are you happy with your success? Satisfied with your sales? Want more?

We choose our success; it doesn't choose us. And we all have different definitions of what that success is. So for those who are happy with the odd signing and a bit of spending money, that's great. For those who want more, choose more. Then find ways to get it.

I totally respect where some authors are coming from, but I'm hoping this reaches a few that are looking for some inspiration to become more motivated with book signings or marketing in general.

This is what award winning author Alvin Abram has to say:
"Selling yourself is selling your product. I practice reading out loud every day. I try not to say uh, you know, or any such repetitive remark. It takes practice. I, too, was an introvert until I realized that I was a bottle with a cork that wanted to explode. If you want to sell, pop your cork, forget about the word 'can't and do."

Cheryl Kaye Tardif

Dan Fogelberg review

Songs are souvenirs…so said Dan Fogelberg in a radio interview back in 1997. Through the efforts of people like Fred Migliore, Jean Fogelberg and FM Odyssey Radio the fans of Dan Fogelberg can hear him speak about his passion for music in the CD: Dan Fogelberg – A Retrospective Interview. This is a collection of thirteen Fogelberg songs which allows listeners to go past his lyrics into his wonderful insights about life, writing music and performing as an artist.

In the tunes “Don’t Lose Heart” and “Part of the Plan” we are encouraged by the beauty of Dan’s lyrics to always remain hopeful and that all of us are living out our parts on the stage of life. Dan Fogelberg: A Retrospective Interview invites fans to be guests of an unusually intimate conversation and to hear in Dan’s own voice the inner workings of his inspirations. It was chilling to realize that the essence of the music remained but that the personal meanings had changed since his death, much in the way Dan unknowingly explained in the interview.

“Same Old Lang Syne” is one of my favorite Fogelberg tunes. We are privy to how the lyrics unfolded, how they were spun out of a real encounter that was greatly romanticized by the artist. And the final song about Dan's father, a tribute to his family and to “The Leader of the Band” touches our reality with the simple truth that the living legacy is gone; and because of this odd twist of fate we are grateful to be left with his musical genius.

There is a message from Dan Fogelberg on the inside of the CD cover. He encourages every man to get PSA and DRE tests every year. To hear the words "you have cancer" is never easy, but to hear these words about a loved one is even more difficult. Early detection and medical intervention can make the difference. I know because I am blessed to love a wonderful man who is a prostate cancer survivor. Please remember that your purchase of this 2 CD Collector’s Edition will aid in the research for prostate cancer, and for anyone who reads this post and makes a special comment you can win a lost segment edition of a one-of-a-kind CD with forty-five additional minutes of Dan’s interview with Fred Migliore. So post here today or come back in a few days…I would love to hear from you.

Have the best day everyday.

Wednesday, April 08, 2009

Introducing . . . Pat Bertram

Writers are often told to treat writing/publishing as a business, but I treat the business of writing like . . . writing. Writers are creative people, who know how to set a hook, cast it just so, and pull in their readers. So why not use that same creativity in promotion? That is my marketing plan, anyway. Promote by writing. It's all I have to attract readers, short of bashing them over their heads with my book or forcing it down their throats. Even if I could resort to such tactics, it's hard to do on the internet where there are no heads or throats, just bits and bytes.

So, this morning when Cheryl Kaye Tardiff invited me to join "The Write Type -- Multi-Author Musings," I shot off my acceptance and here I am. I don't need another blog, but I've been getting the itch to start a new one (as if eight isn't enough), so perhaps this will cool the itch as well as introduce me and my writing to a different group of people. Or the same group of people. Either way, I am looking forward to adding my voice to the other authors musing here on "The Write Type."

Thank you for inviting me, Cheryl.

Pat Bertram
author of More Deaths Than One
and A Spark of Heavenly Fire

Follow me on Twitter

Tuesday, April 07, 2009

Fiction, She Wrote

by Karen Harrington
author, Janeology

I'm in the final days of my book-a-versary celebration. Today's prize includes a signed copy of Janeology, a writing journal AND chocolate!

Come by the Scobberlotch Blog to enter and read my post about how heirlooms and antiques inspired key pieces of this novel.



Monday, April 06, 2009

Amazon reinstates author's reviews after deleting them - divine intervention?

Update on the Amazon reviews status:

For those of you who haven't heard, Amazon recently started deleting reviews by authors who included their own book title on the review, usually in the form of a signature line like...

Cheryl Kaye Tardif, author of Whale Song

I had 85 reviews deleted and went through a frustrating battle with reps at Amazon, who ended up putting my reviews back up, minus the author of...bit.

I thought that was the end of it and began a campaign to let authors know about this policy enforcement. See my previous posts: Amazon deletes authors' reviews if book title is in signature and An update on my battle with Amazon over deleted reviews


Thinking this matter was over, I was surprised to find another email from Amazon today. Here is the correspondence I received from "Peter, a senior member of the Amazon Communities team":
Greetings from

My name is Peter; I'm a senior member of our Communities team, a significant part of my job consists of deciding if Customer Reviews adhere to our guidelines. As such, your account was brought to my attention.

First, I'm sorry for any frustration this situation has caused you regarding the removal of your reviews. After reviewing the previous actions taken and our guidelines, your reviews have been reinstated on our website.

We appreciate your contributions to our website and we look forward to your participation in the future.

Best regards,

We're Building Earth's Most Customer-Centric Company
And here's my response to Peter:
Hi Peter:

I must admit, I am very happy to know there are 'real' people working at Amazon, and I appreciate that you took the time to email me. Thank you.

I was notified two days ago that my reviews were back up, after someone at Amazon edited them and removed part of my signature line (the part that said 'author of Whale Song'...or whichever title I decided to use.)

While I am fine with Amazon setting policies, I am not fine with HOW my reviews were deleted, without warning and with no notice or explanation. I was further frustrated by the vague emails I received when I inquired about my reviews. I can't tell you how many times I was told they were all "inappropriate" and to read the review guidelines, which I did with a fine-tooth comb.

Yes, this was an extremely frustrating and stressful situation. I won't lie.

Authors are now all abuzz about this policy. This is being discussed in authors' associations in Canada and the US. I've been contacted by other authors who have had the same problem. I've also been contacted by reporters.

I brought this situation to light amongst the writing community for one reason: to help my author friends avoid this hassle and stress. Already many of them are editing their reviews and removing mention of their book titles. Some refuse to. I have done my best to be patient and understanding with everyone at Amazon, and trust me, it's not easy. I have no intention of bashing Amazon, but I do feel it's important to educate other authors, so I will continue to talk about this policy enforcement.

Most of the authors I've spoken with via phone, or email, agree with me on these
following points:
1. Amazon should not delete reviews without first notifying the person who has written them and explaining clearly WHY this is happening.
2. The writer of the review should have an opportunity to edit the review accordingly.
3. The Review Guidelines need to be updated to include: Authors who write reviews can not mention their own book titles nor use the product link to mention their books.
4. A mass email needs to be sent to every Amazon member, with a headline directed to authors so that most will read it--something like: If you're an author and you write reviews here, please read!

Yes, there is a notice about solicitation on the other guidelines but when reviewers want to know the review rules, they go to the...Review Guidelines. It's a simple fix on Amazon's part.

This is the courteous, respectful way to handle this kind of situation, and I can tell you, my author friends would appreciate this.

Now, after I've written all this, I re-read your email and had this thought that maybe, just maybe you meant that my reviews were reinstated with my signature line, so I just checked. I am in shock. Thank you. I'm not going to delete anything above because I want you to know where my head was at with all this. I take this to mean that authors CAN mention a book title in their signature, and I hope if this policy ever changes, you will notify us first.

I am extremely pleased with this decision by Amazon to allow authors to leave their book title in their signature line. Thank you. I will now get to work on contacting all the associations and authors, plus the various blogs that have covered this. I will also blog about this myself. I'd like to include your email in full, with your permission. I will leave out your email address.

P.S. I'd like to know that Amazon is also "Building Earth's Most Author-Centric Company". I know that books are just one product for Amazon, but I sometimes think authors are undervalued and unappreciated.

Cheryl Kaye Tardif

When I checked my reviews on Amazon today, I was so stunned to see one of my book titles mentioned that I didn't realize until later how ironic and funny it was. Someone at Amazon went into all 85 review (as much as I could see) and carefully typed in this same book title in every review. My review signature now reads:

Cheryl Kaye Tardif,
author of Divine Intervention

Yup, that's one of my other book titles...and I guess you could say I had a little "divine intervention" in this matter. ;-)

Amazon did not reinstate my product links in my signature. I'm okay with that. I can respect this, and I really appreciate hearing from someone in Amazon and receiving an apology.

It appears I have MJ Rose, author and book promoter, to thank for Peter's quick response to my situation. I emailed MJ to let her know about this situation when it first occurred, because I know she networks with thousands of authors, publishers and other marketers. She had an Amazon contact and sent him my email.

Hmmm...that might explain why I noticed that someone from Amazon in Seattle had been checking out my blog posts on this.

To any authors who might have found their reviews deleted or edited like this, my best piece of advice is to state your case in an email to Amazon. Be as clear as possible and try to be respectful. I could have lost it with them, but I didn't. And I'm very glad.

So my author friends, let's heave a communal sigh of relief. One battle down. (Let's not count the ones to come.)

If you would like to quote me (in whole or in part) regarding this Amazon review issue on your blog or newsletter, you may, providing you include the following information at the end:

Reprinted with permission from Cheryl Kaye Tardif, author and Book Marketing Coach,

Cheryl Kaye Tardif,
Author and Book Marketing Coach

P.S. Follow me on Twitter where I'm giving away 60+ PRIZES!!

Sunday, April 05, 2009

Baffled By Amazon

After reading Cheryl's posts, I've made a couple of trips to to see if the 55 reviews I've posted are still there and they are, but then I wasn't savvy enough to even think of naming my book in my signature line. Like Cheryl, I read the guidelines about posting reviews before posting my first one and I honestly don't recall any mention about signature lines or links. If this is an issue for, it should have been in the guidelines from the beginning.

But here's what gets me. Why would a company whose main purpose is to sell products want to keep people from advertising products that Amazon sells? Aren't they there to make money? Where's the logic?

And here's another thing that baffles me. A colleague of mine has a book listed on and yet refuses to list it. Like Cheryl, my colleague has sent them multiple emails over the past six weeks, to no avail. I had the same issue with Taxed to Death. It's been listed on since it came out in 1995, but when I asked if the book could be listed there as well, they said no, but that I could sell it through their marketplace. Fair enough. I did this until I happened to see Taxed to Death listed on a few months later. Why? I don't know, and no, I'm not complaining. My point is one of logic. I just don't understand how this company thinks. They're like the stock market. Unpredictable, frustrating, and probably here to stay whether we do business with them or not.

Good luck, everybody,

An update on my battle with Amazon over deleted reviews

Since breaking the news yesterday about my battle with Amazon over reviews (ones I wrote on books I'd read) that they deleted because I included author of Whale Song in my signature line, I've received emails and phone calls from concerned authors, many who tracked me down via the Internet after reading about me on Twitter, The Write Type or John Kremer's Marketing Tips email. Some authors have already discovered missing reviews; some have gone through the same hassle I did.

The fact that Amazon is now going through reviews written by authors and deleting them if they reference the author reviewer's book title has created a huge stir. People are talking about it, blogging about it, and there could be authors out there wondering why their reviews are all deleted, since Amazon gives no warning before the axe comes down.

I highly recommend that if you're an author you edit your reviews now and have only your name as a signature. You cannot mention your own book title in any review or review comment. Trust me, you do not want to go through the week of hell that I just did. The Amazon review department is only accessible via email.

Amazon's emails gave me the following reasons for my suddenly missing reviews:

1st email: I have checked with the appropriate department and found that all the reviews submitted by you were inappropriate, as a result all the reviews are removed.
(My response: what does "inappropriate" mean and why are they all inappropriate?)

2nd email: We've checked with the concerned department and found that your customer reviews were removed because of the positive campaign and these reviews do not adhere to our guidelines.
(My response: what does "positive campaign" mean and where is this a rule in the review guidelines?)

3rd email: We always strive to provide a high level of service, and we would appreciate your feedback. Please let us know if we resolved your inquiry.
(My response: That's it? Of course this didn't resolve things!)

4th email: We have again reevaluated your reviews and found that you have included links to books written by you. Please note that linking to products you have a financial investment in, such as books you've written, is prohibited. The use of these links, both within your reviews and in your review signature, resulted in the suspension of your reviews from our website. Our guidelines do prohibit authors from posting positive reviews for their own books or negative reviews for competing books.
(Well, at least they were more specific. Finally! Something I could work with. My response: It doesn't say we can't use the link tool for our book title in our signature on the review guidelines. And I've never reviewed my own books or written negative reviews for competing books.)

5th email: We need to research this situation further, and it'll take a bit more time than usual. I will write back to you on April 4, with the resolution pertaining to your inquiry.
(They were true to their word and emailed me on the 4th.)

6th email: We have reviewed your previous correspondences and all the reviews submitted by you. Please know that our participation guidelines don't allow customers to promote their own titles in their reviews. **** The use of the Service for commercial purposes such as advertising, promotion, or solicitation *****
(My response: When I read the guidelines for writing reviews, I read the "Review Guidelines", not the participation one. Shouldn't this be in the Review Guidelines? Makes sense to me.)

Also in 6th email, Amazon mentioned that all my reviews had been edited by them and my book titles removed and that if I did this again I would be suspended from submitting reviews.

7th email: About having "book title" in signature line, I would suggest you to please provide us with the reviewers details so that we can take appropriate action.
(Can I say stunned??? So Amazon now wants me to give them the names of the thousands and thousands of authors who sign reviews with their book titles in the signature line??? Of course my response was, Sorry but I am not comfortable pointing fingers. You'll have to find them yourself. Sorry.)

It was because of the 7th email that I decided to take my battle with Amazon public.

Now don't get me wrong, Amazon is within their rights to set rules. I can't argue that, even though I don't like this policy and I think they're making a mistake. But I completely disagree with deleting authors' reviews without warning and without giving them a fair chance to edit them. I would have done that without this fuss if they'd notified me first and asked me to edit them.

And a note to Amazon: Although this discussion may lead to many, many unhappy people, it is not my intention to bash Amazon. I simply want to educate authors so that they can take action, edit their reviews if they choose and hopefully avoid having this happen to them.

Note: If you would like to quote me (in whole or in part) regarding this Amazon review issue on your blog or newsletter, you may, providing you include the following information at the end:

Reprinted with permission from Cheryl Kaye Tardif, author and Book Marketing Coach,

Read my original post about Amazon deleting my reviews.

Thank you,

Cheryl Kaye Tardif,
author of Whale Song, The River and Divine Intervention...ha!

Saturday, April 04, 2009

Amazon deletes authors' reviews if book title is in signature

This past week has been a very stressful one as I had to deal with after they suddenly deleted ALL 85 of the reviews I had written for books I'd read.

It took nearly a week to get a straight answer from them, although for the most part, they responded fairly quickly to my numerous emails. And the one customer service rep I spoke with was very kind when telling me that the reviews department wouldn't take calls from reviewers, even if there was a problem.

In's first email, they said ALL my reviews were "inappropriate". That was it. No explanation of why they were suddenly all inappropriate.

The next email said my reviews were deleted because of "the positive campaign", and that they were "inappropriate". When I asked for an explanation of what a "positive campaign" is, they didn't give it. I asked for them to tell me what was inappropriate with each review so I could edit it.

Finally, after many emails, it was resolved. This is the letter that I am now sending to my writer friends and organizations I belong to, in hopes that it will help other authors avoid this problem:

A week ago I found that all 85 of the reviews I've written for other books had been deleted. It has been a very difficult and stressful week dealing with Amazon. They are not very accessible and I was given at least 3 different reasons for why my reviews had been deleted. After numerous emails, this is what it's come down to:

Their final ruling: "Please know that our participation guidelines don't allow customers to promote their own titles in their reviews." If you sign your review with anything other than your name, your reviews could be deleted.

If any of you are in the habit of signing your reviews with something like "..., author of Whale Song", which has been common practice for years, Amazon has deemed this as "inappropriate" and will be deleting them. It seems they're on a campaign to go through reviews posted. They recently made changes to the Amazon Connect program and all our blogs were temporarily gone too. Most are back up.

They also will delete your reviews if you have added the book link (that they supply) and directed it to your own book title's Amazon page. Many authors have used that in their signature line. It can lead to deletion and suspension, according to Amazon's
latest email.

I argued the fact that thousands of authors sign their reviews like this, and that it's common practice in our industry. I was told by my last publisher to sign my reviews like this; he even wanted us to include the ISBN, which I only did a couple of times then stopped. It made no difference to Amazon that this is what my publisher wanted me to do; they aren't accepting signatures with titles.

Amazon is starting to take note of such practices and you'll get no notice; they'll just pull all the reviews you have written. That's what they did with me, even though many of my older reviews were signed with just my name.

So to clarify, according to Amazon, when posting a review, you are not allowed to have a signature of anything more than your name, and NO links to or mention of your books whatsoever in the review or sig line.

I am giving you the heads-up now so you can go in and edit your reviews if you choose. That's what I'd do, to be honest, because fighting with Amazon is not easy. There is no one who will talk to you by phone, and waiting for their response is not easy.

This rule also applies to any comments you leave on a book review. Amazon does not want authors to mention their own books anywhere on the review pages.

I haven't heard from yet, but I expect this will be funneled over to all the Amazons, so I'll be working on editing my reviews there next week.
I am interested in hearing what others think--both authors and non-authors. Is it fair of Amazon to delete reviews without any warning? Should they give the reviewer the chance to clean up their reviews before axing them? Should authors be allowed to have one book title in their signature line (ie....Cheryl Kaye Tardif, author of Whale Song)? Does it really matter; are you more inclined to buy the book if another author says it's good?

My intention here is not to bash Amazon. I appreciate that they put my reviews back. My intention is to educate authors about this new change in Amazon's policies--and it IS a change since authors have been doing this for years and it's not even on Amazon's review guidelines, even though they argue that it's elsewhere in their many-paged rule book.

Others who have blogged about this:

I'll update you on this and on more links where this is being discussed.

Note: If you would like to quote me (in whole or in part) regarding the Amazon review issue on your blog or newsletter, you may, providing you include the following information at the end:

Reprinted with permission from Cheryl Kaye Tardif, author and Book Marketing Coach,

Thank you,

Cheryl Kaye Tardif,
AUTHOR OF WHALE SONG! (so there!) ;-)

Thursday, April 02, 2009

Jeff Rivera from GalleyCat News shares exclusive coverage of New York's 2nd annual Literati-A-Go-Go

My good friend and fellow author Jeff Rivera is a man of many talents, including being a reporter for GalleyCat News. Jeff recently attended Literati-A-Go-Go, hosted at the Whiskey Town Bar in New York. This is the second year for this event and it has attracted many in the book industry plus booklovers themselves.

"GalleyCat was given an exclusive look inside of the 2nd Literati-A-Go-Go event of the year. Literary agent, Donna Bagdasarian, Former PW VP & Publisher, David Nudo, VP of Wikimedia New York City, Inc., David Shankbone and acclaimed author, John Reed hosted the packed mixed media and book publishing event." --Jeff Rivera

Take a look at Jeff's exclusive coverage in the video below.

For information about Jeff's books, please visit
Also check out: and

~Cheryl Kaye Tardif

Cause For Celebration

Hello friends. I'm celebrating the one year anniversary of the release of JANEOLOGY, my debut novel. What does this mean to you? There will be cake! Merriment! Book and prize give-aways! Obnoxious self-promotion! The party runs April 2 - 10th.

Today's blog topic is "The Top 10 Memorable Moments of the Debut Year."

I hope you'll stop by my blog and leave a comment with your email address to be entered to win a copy of JANEOLOGY - a mesmerizing look at one woman's nature and nurture (Hey, a reviewer said that, not me.)

Come and help me celebrate at


Karen Harrington