Friday, December 31, 2010

Last Day to Enter to Win Books for a Year!

If you haven't already entered the contest to win a copy of every book Second Wind Publishing will release in 2011, click here and leave a comment on the Second Wind Blog. That's all you need to do to! (Besides keeping your fingers crossed, that is). Here is some added inducement (all these books are scheduled to be released in 2011 -- click on a cover to learn more about that book):

Sunday, December 26, 2010

The Writing Year in Review

It’s been an interesting twelve months. I was offered a publishing contract in March for the first book in my Casey Holland series, The Opposite of Dark, and spent a total of three months working with two terrific editors. My free copies arrive next month and then the real work of promoting steps up. When I wasn’t working on this book, I edited the second and third books in the series, which I’ve been working on for quite some time, and started the first draft of book four. Finally—hopefully permanently—I broke free of salaried employment to live life as a full time writer. So, it’s been a great year for creativity, though not so much for finances, but there you go—this is a writer’s life, unless you're John Grisham, or James Patterson, or Stephen King. My publisher put the cover and pre-ordering info about The Opposite of Dark on amazon, which you can find at

Meanwhile, here are a couple of cool things to take a look at. First, Darcia Helle’s holiday book giveaway event, which I mentioned a month ago, ends on December 31st . So far, about 600 people have signed up, so if you want a chance to get a free book by an indie authors, go to

The always informative January Magazine has prepared a number of different “best of” book lists for the year. The one for crime fiction is in two parts. Some of the names on the list are familiar, but others aren’t. You can find part one at and the other at They’ve also compiled a list of best cookbooks, best fiction and nonfiction, plus art and culture books which are also worth checking out. So, happy reading, and all the best for the new year!

Friday, December 24, 2010

Lancelot's Lady book trailer video needs your vote--by December 26th

The book trailer video for my bestselling romantic suspense, Lancelot's Lady, has been entered in the You Gotta Read Videos contest for December. It is entry #6 and I hope you'll check it out and vote for it.

My trailer was created by the talented Kelly Komm, who is also an author. Thanks, Kelly!

To view all the contest videos, please visit:

Thank you to everyone who votes for Lancelot's Lady. I so appreciate your support! Have an awesome Christmas.

~Cherish D'Angelo/aka Cheryl Kaye Tardif

Thursday, December 23, 2010

A Gift For You!

Wishing you a warm and safe holiday weekend and a new year filled with possibilities.

Click on the gift to open. Have fun!

Tuesday, December 21, 2010

Hard Work Can Be Fun

How dweeby can you get? But it's true.

I love to write. It's my favorite thing to do--make up stories and please people with them. If I had been Scheherazade, and the Sultan had told me I didn't have to make up a story every night any more, I probably would have kicked him in the shin so he'd make me make up stories again.

The hard part, for me, is shaping the stories. Coming up with a story arc, a plot, an outline--making sure I have the details straight: those things are hard, for me.

Yet, this year, I've learned to enjoy those hard things. I don't know quite what flipped the switch. Part of it was my nephew, Joshua Stephen Allen, telling me to woman up and write a three-sentence outline of the three acts of my book: One sentence for the set-up and build-up, one sentence for the obstacles and one sentence for the solution(s) and outcome.

That was vague enough that I could do it without feeling like I was putting on a straight-jacket. And it actually made it easier for me to write spontaneously, because I didn't have to worry that I was going to fall off the edge of a story line and tumble to the book's death.

Now I'm working on a story bible for the series I have going, and that's being fun, too. My series is set in a neighborhood, and I've been stalling: I didn't want to research the length of a city block and the number and size of lots and all that, but I've done it. Now I know how many people live on the block. I know who some of them are, because they've been in the books and stories already. I'm going through a book of house plans and deciding who lives in what house, which is making me think, "What kind of person would live in a house like this? Is it a good house for them, or a not-so-good house? Why?" So, pretty soon, I'll have ideas for characters and ideas for plot points and then I'll have outlines for the rest of the books in the series.

Hard work, but I'm having SO MUCH FUN!

Marian Allen

Sunday, December 19, 2010

The Challenge of Writing in December

Ah, December ... it’s great for socializing, shopping, eating, movie-watching, and quality family time. What it’s not good for, I’ve discovered over the years, is writing. This is particularly true for those of us saddled with most of the Christmas preparation work. My hubby’s job is to buy the liquor and haul the tree home, and even that we stopped doing seven years ago when we bought an artificial tree. Happily, my kids are old enough to help with preparations now, although with one busy studying for final exams and the other not old enough to drive, I’m still doing a lot of running around.

I used to rail against my diminished writing time, but over the years I’ve learned two things. One is that whatever writing time you lose in December you can probably make up for in January because nothing’s going on then, and who wants to see the inside of a mall again? Secondly, getting older has made me appreciate the quality time I get to spend with my family. Older relatives are no longer here, time is fleeting and, in the end, family time is more important than anything.

Now, here’s a little something fun to take a look at: January Magazine has written a couple of interesting pieces; one is a list of best children’s books for 2010, which you can find at

Also, J. Kingston Pierce from the same magazine, has compiled a list of his favourite crime fiction covers and is inviting you to vote on the one you like best. I suppose we shouldn’t be judging a book by its cover, but we do. We can’t help ourselves, and any publisher will tell you that it’s a vital marketing tool. So, if you’re interested, take a look and vote at
And whatever you celebrate with the coming days off, have a wonderful time.

My Alex Bellamy mysteries can be purchased at

Remembering Those We've Lost at Christmas

Today my article on remembering loved ones and grieving during the holidays is featured at the National Crime Writing Month blog.

Holidays are particularly difficult for anyone who has lost a loved one. I hope my words are of some small comfort.

Cheryl Kaye Tardif

Wednesday, December 15, 2010

Monday, December 13, 2010

Win Free Books for a Year!

Second Wind Publishing is running the best contest ever! The winner will receive a copy of every book published by them in 2011, which will include my latest, Light Bringer.

If you have not yet signed up for Second Wind Publishing's contest, you can go to my blog and leave a comment: That's all you have to do to enter. Three people chosen at random from those entries will also receive an ecopy of one of my books (their choice).

I hope one of you win! Keeping it in the family, so to speak.

Sunday, December 12, 2010

Are Christmas Craft Fairs Profitable for Book Selling?

Over the past few days, I sold my mystery novels at two different Christmas craft fairs. In the past, my day jobs—always involving weekend shifts—kept me from participating, but self-employment has provided more selling opportunities. I’d heard mixed reviews from other writers who’d sold fiction and nonfiction at Christmas fairs, so I was curious to experiment.

The first event was hosted by my local fitness center for members, so it wasn’t advertised. The fair was five days long. I split the cost of a table, and was able to come and go as I pleased. This was a real communal effort from sellers, where everyone looked out for one another’s table so we wouldn’t have to stay all day.

Because Taxed to Death and Fatal Encryption both feature the adventures of tax auditor, Alex Bellamy, I wrapped some of them in cellophane with a ribbon and bow, and sold them as an autographed set at a discounted price. I discovered, though, that just as many people bought unwrapped sets for personalized signing. In the end, I made over $250 in profit, and sold more books than I thought I would for a center with only 150 members. The best part was that I received some good tips about future craft fairs for next year, and chatted with a lot of people I didn’t normally see.

The second event was the first Christmas artisan fair hosted by a local cultural center to tie in with a tree lighting ceremony. The fair was only four hours long and, again, I split the cost of a table. Although there were many people at the ceremony, we estimate that only 150 attendees made the trek across the parking lot and into the building to look at crafts and warm up from the cold. Still, I made a little profit and had the most interesting conversations with all types of people. I’m going to try new venues next year and see how it goes. If you’d like to try selling at Christmas craft fairs, here are some tips:

. Book well in advance for the popular ones. I have to book now for some of next year’s events.
. Don’t book a table that costs over $100, and split the cost with another writer.
. Presentation is important. A festive table cloth, some gift-wrapped books, and promo materials will help draw people to your table.
. Talk to people. You learn all sorts of things.
. Have a large enough float to make change. Bank machines spit out twenties, and that’s what people carry.
. Accept checks. Not everyone carries cash.
. Have fun. Going in with a positive attitude makes all the difference.

Good luck!

My Alex Bellamy mysteries can be purchased at

Sunday, December 05, 2010

How Old are Traditionally Published First-Time Authors?

Earlier this year, the Humber School of Creative & Performing Arts conducted a survey to find out how old the average prose writer is when he(she) publishes his first book through a traditional publisher. The survey did not include academic writers.

1,500 questionnaires were sent out last spring and 475 writers responded. Survey results show that the average age of a first-time published author is 42, which is older than the survey team thought it would be.

42, huh? Isn’t this the answer to the meaning of life spewed out by that super-computer in The Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy? Well, let’s face it; traditionally publishing your first book does provide one’s life with meaning, I suppose. And the Hitchhiker’s Guide came from the imagination of a writer, the late great Douglas Adams.

Frankly, I’m a bit surprised that the average age is only 42. I know of several writers who took about twenty years just to find a publisher for their first books. And I know of one writer who traditionally published his first two books this year at age 87.

My first traditionally published book, The Opposite of Dark, will be out this spring, and I’m 55, so, you see, there’s plenty of time for you aspiring writers out there.

If you’d like to see more about the study, including charts (although they’re too small to easily see on your screen) go to

My Alex Bellamy mysteries can be purchased at

Wednesday, December 01, 2010

Keep Moving Away From What You Know

In Glimmer, a book about Bruce Mau’s design theory written by Warren Berger, Berger writes:

As we age, our focus of attention widens and we can actually take in more information. We also become better problem solvers -- able to take the information soaked up from one situation and apply it to another. And at the same time, when we take new information and combine it with what we already know, this creates opportunities for “smart recombinations” -- a technique used by designers to generate new possibilities by connecting bits and pieces of existing ones.

How do you design your life so that you can continue to take in new and useful information? The answer, Bruce Mau suggests, is to intention and constantly “keep moving away from what you know.” People tend to design their lives and careers so that they remain on firm and familiar turf, intellectually speaking. They go with what they know.

Authors are always told, “write what you know,” but apparently that isn’t the wisest decision if you want to continue to expand your expertise. Some creative writing instructors have changed “write what you know” to “know what you write.” In other words, research, which is one way to keep moving away from what you know. Another way is to travel then use the locales visited as the basis for stories.

Do you write what you know or write what you know? How do you find out what you need to know? Do you keep moving away from what you know, or do you tend to remain on familiar turf? Does your writing also move away from what you know, so you end up writing books you had no idea how to write when you began writing them?

That last question may seem silly, but that’s what I do -- write books I have no idea how to write. If I know what and how to write them, I don’t see any reason to actually put the words on paper. I need the challenge of figuring out how to write something I’ve never written before. Obviously, this is not the way most authors feel or act, considering the plethora of series.

A major drawback to this need for challenge is that since I don’t know how to write the books I write, it gives me a good reason to procrastinate while I figure it out. A major plus is when the book comes together, such as in my upcoming novel Light Bringer, and I find myself astonished at having written something that seems beyond my capability to write. But I did write it.

As for moving away from what I know, I’ve been doing that for the past eight months. I am no longer in the same place, living the same life, writing the same stories as I did back then, and I am continually trying to find new ways of moving away from what I once knew, which I am hoping will add depth to future writings and meaning to my life.

What about you?

Let’s talk.


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