Sunday, February 27, 2011

Piracy: The Dark Side of E-book Success

A few days ago, one of my forum discussions talked about an author whose free e-book, along with those of others, were downloaded on Kindle by someone who took the authors’ names off the books and then sold them as his own for money. Last I heard, Amazon and Smashwords were working to rectify the situation. I didn’t know what to make of the story at the time; but then January Magazine wrote a piece about piracy, and referred readers to an interesting article by David Carnoy on Cnet Reviews.

Carnoy had set up a Google alert for the title of his book and, to his surprise, found that his book was being pirated not only as a separate file, but also as part of a larger Kindle collection. This fact and some research led to the disturbing realization that 2,500 books can be downloaded in a matter of hours. Even if each book is valued at only $2.00, it still means that hundreds of dollars of merchandise is stolen, putting authors and publishers clearly out of pocket.

More troubling is that this is just the beginning of what could easily become a piracy epidemic. Some believe that book piracy could reach the levels of music piracy, simply because it’s easy to do, not because people are dying to read all those books. Carnoy goes on to say that a recent study by Attributor shows a 54% rise in the demand for pirated books since August 2009. Worse, there are 1.53 million daily Google queries for pirated e-books and a huge proliferation of small sites that host and supply pirated books.

New Authors Guild president, Scott Turow (who is a practicing lawyer) is well aware of the situation, and the question is what—if anything—can be done about it? Turow, like Carnoy, believes that the appearance of iPads is only part of the growing problem. Some consumers are rebelling at the high price of some e-books ($14.99 is charged for Turow’s latest), and there’s a definite backlash. Attributor’s study suggests that perhaps as much as $3 billion a year (or 10% of total revenue) is lost through pirating.

The bottom line is that things could get worse before they get better. There are a number of other useful links to the piracy issue in Turow’s piece. To learn more, go to Carnoy’s article at More of Attributor’s stats can be found in another article of Carnoy’s at;txt . Also here’s a link to Turow’s take on things:;txt

Good luck out there!


Tuesday, February 22, 2011

Q&A with A. F. Stewart, Author of Once Upon a Dark and Eerie

Pat: What is your book about?

A. F.: My latest book is a collection of short fiction and poetry, Once Upon a Dark and Eerie… It’s a mishmash of drabbles, flash fiction, short stories and poetry written in the genres of dark fantasy, sci-fi and horror. It’s also my first foray into publishing a manuscript exclusively as an ebook. You can find it on Smashwords ( among other online stores.

Pat: How much of yourself is hidden in the characters in the book?

A. F.: I really hope there is very little of me in my characters since many of them tend to be immoral, vicious, bloodthirsty killers, or unwise enough to get themselves into situations where they are maimed or killed. Well, maybe they share my odd sense of humour.

Pat: How has your background influenced your writing?

A. F.: My Scottish/Celtic heritage has influenced my writing quite a bit, since I use that history and culture in my stories. And being Canadian, I grew up reading as much British history as I did of Canada’s past, so that’s probably why good old Britain keeps finding its way into my books.

Pat: What’s your writing schedule like? Do you strive for a certain amount of words each day

A. F.: I don’t keep much of a writing schedule. I basically write when I feel like writing or when I have time, although I do try and write something every day even if it’s just a paragraph or a line.

Pat:What are you working on right now?

A. F.: I’ve got two books simmering at the moment. I’m still working on my musical wizards fantasy novel, Song of the Wind and Sea. I had to fix some kinks in the plot, but things are getting back on track. I’m also working on a short dark fantasy novel, Ruined City, which has an unusual format. The story of a cursed city is told through twelve separate, but interconnected, short stories.

Pat: Are you writing to reach a particular kind of reader?

A. F.: I do have the target audience of fantasy lovers, but I think anyone who likes a nice dark psychological tale of mayhem would like my books. Even with vampires, wizards and an occasional ghost thrown in the mix.

Pat: What is the most difficult part of the whole writing process?

A. F.: The most difficult part is writing the middle section of the plot. I’m great at churning out beginnings and endings, but I always have to work at writing the stuff in between.

Pat: What is the easiest part of the writing process?

A. F.: For me, the easiest element of writing is the dialogue. I rarely have a problem with the flow of dialogue. Possibly because I can hear all those character voices whispering in my head.

Pat: Does writing come easy for you?

A. F.: Yes. Things keep coming out of my head on to the page. Of course it has to be polished and edited and tweaked, but I seldom have trouble working out the problems and the plot points. I only had one instance so far where I had major writer’s block

Pat: How many stories do you currently have swirling around in your head?

A. F.: Currently, I have probably a dozen or more short stories and book ideas bouncing around in my brain. Some of them are being written and some are still germinating.

Pat: What do you like to read?

A. F.: I like fantasy, science fiction and mysteries best, but I read anything that looks interesting, from general fiction to romance to historical fiction.

Pat: What writer influenced you the most?

A. F.: I think that title would have to go to Ray Bradbury. He’s not my favourite writer (that credit juggles between Neil Gaiman and Guy Gavriel Kay), but his lyrical writing style impressed itself on my mind more than anyone I’ve read. And Harlan Ellison probably snuck his influence into my mind as well.

Pat: What advice would you give other novelists about book promotion?

A. F.: Don’t treat it like one big ad campaign. Book promotion is more than promos and emails saying “buy me”. You need to interact with the public, give them free excerpts, contests, discussions, answer questions, and get them interested in you and your book.

Pat: Have you written any other books?

A. F.: Yes. I have a dark fantasy vampire novella, Chronicles of the Undead, two other fantasy short fiction collections, Passing Fancies and Inside Realms, two books of poetry and two slightly humorous, non-fiction books about action movies.

Pat: Where can people learn more about your books?

A. F.: The best place to learn about my books is either my website,, or my page at, . You can also check out my blog,, or my Twitter feed,


Monday, February 21, 2011

Introducing the Books of A. F. Stewart

Once Upon a Dark and Eerie... :

An ebook collection of dark short fiction, sonnets and snippets to make you shiver. A morbid and morose collection of tales designed to scare, dismay and leave you wondering. Open the pages into worlds of horror, dark fantasy, and satire, where things creep in shadowy corners, where they like to hear you scream.

Once Upon a Dark and Eerie... will show you it isn’t safe in space, why fairy tales, clowns and rubber duckies are more than what they seem and why you should lock your doors in the dark.

Chronicles of the Undead:

Temptation, vengeance, redemption. Family Secrets.

Inside the personal journals of the Harrington family, a dark and dangerous odyssey unfolds. Three members of this tormented family, Samuel, his son Edmund, and Edmund’s daughter Charlotte, struggle during the 18th and 19th century in London, England, as the lives of this family intersects with supernatural forces. Two intriguing vampires befriend, manipulate and play with all three souls, altering their lives forever. Their fears, private confidences and weaknesses are revealed as one selfish act ends in horrific tragedy, with far-reaching consequences.

Who succumbs to the seduction and danger of the vampire? Who grapples to combat the evil influence that permeates their lives?

Passing Fancies:

A book of collected short fiction, written mostly in the fantasy genre with a smattering of crime and sci-fi dropping by as well. You will find tales short to long, amusing to chilling, wandering about the pages. Take delight in the saga of werewolves, vengeful gods, and virtual reality. Thrill to accounts of murder most strange, quiver as mummies, ghosts,
and demons walk. See the end of the world and the beginning of space.

Stroll the pages of imagination.

Shadows of Poetry:

Poetry written for the blackness in your soul. Wrenching, dismal, bleak verse for those who want to walk on the dark side. Enter into a fateful and shadowy world. Shadows of Poetry is a collection of introspective poetry that skirts
the darker side of life and imagination. Verses include forlorn musings on nature, a harsher glimpse at life and a grim view of fantasy and myth. No sappy, cheerful love poems allowed.

The Incomplete Guide to Action Movies:

Here it is at last -- almost everything you need to know to enjoy an action film! Presenting an irreverent manual for dissecting an action movie, a guide to the nuances of that summer blockbuster. Consider musings about crashes, clich├ęs and cannon fodder. Discover how to survive an action movie.Learn the proper way to watch a bad action film.


A. F. Stewart was born and raised in Nova Scotia, Canada, and still calls it home. The youngest of a family of seven children, she has always had an overly creative mind, and an active imagination. She is fond of good books (especially science fiction/fantasy), action movies, and oil painting as a hobby.

Ms. Stewart has been writing for several years, her main focus being in the fantasy genre. She also has a great interest in history and mythology, often working those themes into her books and stories.Website:

See Also:

Interview with A. F. Stewart
The Vampire Eleanor de Burgh from Chronicles of the Undead by A. F. Stewart

Henri Forain, a Vampire from Chronicles of the Undead by A. F. Stewart

All-Purpose Exercise

Sometimes I do this before I begin to write a story. Sometimes I do it when I'm stuck. More often, I do it shortly after I've begun to write my rough draft, when I'm getting a grip on the superficial behavior of my characters and have some idea what I need for them to do.

I interview them.

I do the basics: appearance, place in the story arc, place in the world of the story, relations with other characters.

Then I ask them ten questions. It doesn't matter what the questions are. They can be very basic, dull or even goofy. Then I open my subconscious and let it answer.

I get some interesting results. Sometimes my subconscious messes up and I have to say, "You're lying. That is NOT true for you." Which can also be interesting.

Sometimes my subconscious comes up with stuff that works really well, that I would never have planned. A character in a so-far unpublished book turned out to have poisoned her abusive husband after he caused her to lose her unborn child. It doesn't give you any more sympathy for her subsequent actions, but does give her a dimension she didn't have before. And I never recount the incident--only refer to it, like a pebble dropping into a still pond.

Most of the things I come up with in these interviews stay in the background, and some of it is completely ignored or discarded, but it deepens the characters for me and, best of all, the characters find their voices. I develop how they think and how they talk; their diction and accent and cadence of speech.

And I can cannibalize anything I don't use for another story.

I'm posting to day on my own blog about a related exercise. I hope you'll join me there.

Marian Allen

Sunday, February 20, 2011

The Opposite of Dark Has Arrived!

Publishing a new book is a rare event for me. I’m not exactly prolific, although I am trying to be more productive. So, when a new book comes out—the first in my new mystery series and in hard cover, no less—well, it’s a pretty big deal.

On Tuesday, my copies of The Opposite of Dark arrived and, happily, I was home when the postman showed up, struggling under the weight of three boxes. My daughter was also home at the time, so this was a shared joy as we both unsealed the boxes and lifted out those first copies.

You’ll know from previous posts that I’m a fan of e-books, both as a writer and a reader, but I have to say there is nothing quite like the feel and the smell of a brand new book, hot off the press. Yes, for a few seconds, I buried my nose in the copy I claimed for myself.

And there’s nothing like the feeling you get when you go for your usual workout and the staff not only buy a copy, but show the book around the room while pointing at me and smiling.

And there’s nothing like the feeling you get when your mom takes you and the whole family out for a celebration dinner at a terrific restaurant, and she sees the book—dedicated to her—for the first time.

These moments make the wait worthwhile. The Opposite of Dark represents fifteen years of writing and submitting (two years with an agent, two more years with a single publisher) and if there’s anything I can pass onto you from this experience, is that tenacity and learning and polishing really do pay off.

The official publishing date is March 15th. My publisher is making a book trailer and will post the first chapter on their website, as will I in a few days. Meanwhile, for more information you can go to

Friday, February 18, 2011

Interview with J. Conrad Guest, Author of Backstop and One Hot January

How much of a story do you have in mind before you start writing it?

I start with a protagonist and his conflict; most times I have the ending in mind and simply write to it, although often the ending is amended depending on what happens prior to my getting there. Everything before that -- the digressions, the journey -- are discoveries that, hopefully, translate as discovery for the reader. I’ve never written from an outline. I haven’t even tried to work from an outline; I feel it would be too restrictive to me.

What is your writing schedule like? Do you strive for a certain number of words each day?

Raymond Chandler, one of my favorite novelists, despite Faulkner (no stranger to drink himself, Faulkner butchered the screenplay for The Big Sleep) calling him a “world class drunk,” wrote Alcohol is like love. The first kiss is magic, the second is intimate, the third is routine. After that you take the girl’s clothes off. My writing schedule is like that: the first sentence is magic, the second intimate, the third settles me in for the session, and after that it’s like taking the girl’s clothes off. I used to set a word count but learned to accept what comes. Some sessions produce more word count than others; but I focus on the content as my goal. Certain parts of the story are going to be more difficult to put down on paper than others. Some sessions result in 1,500 words, while others end with 4,000 words. I’m grateful for it all.

Do you have any rituals that you follow before sitting down to write?

Oh, yes, I do. We laugh at our pets for being creatures of habit, but we are, too, if we’re honest. My morning sessions start with a pot of coffee and a trip to my humidor to select a cigar. (In the evening, substitute bourbon and beer for the coffee.) The cigar is all about the ritual -- selecting the right cigar to go with my mood, the time of day; taking it out of the cellophane, inhaling the fragrance of the wrapper, admiring the label, the workmanship (the better cigars are still handmade by someone with skilled hands in another culture thousands of miles away), snipping its head, lighting it, those first few draws, and watching the smoke infiltrate my den. The ritual helps get my creativity flowing.

Do you prefer to write at a particular time of day?

Yes, my preference is for Sunday morning. I schedule my entire day around my session. During the week, in the evening, I’ll polish or edit what I wrote on Sunday; but sometimes, if I’m really humming along, I’ll push the story forward during the week. But it’s difficult to do that consistently with a day job, especially one that puts me in front of a laptop writing. Sometimes the last thing I want to do when I get home from work is switch on my own laptop and be creative.

What are you working on right now?

I just finished a major project -- A Retrospect in Death. It begins with a man’s death, and the reader is taken to the other side where the narrator encounters his higher self—the part of him that is immortal and is connected to the creator. The protagonist learns (much to his chagrin) that he must return to the lifecycle. But first he must be “debriefed” by his higher self, and so they set about discussing the man’s previous life -- in reverse chronological order: knowing the end but retracing the journey, searching for the breadcrumbs left along the way. I’m just now tinkering with a concept for my next novel, a period piece during the golden age of motor racing—the 1960s—with the Indianapolis 500 as the centerpiece.

What is the most difficult part of the whole writing process?

When I started my first novel, nearly twenty years ago, the hardest part was sitting down to write the first sentence—even though I’d written it in my head several weeks previously. I was intimidated by the whole process and feared that I’d never complete it. I only talked about it to friends. Finally, someone asked me when I would stop talking and do something. It was the kick I needed to set pen to paper. Now, when I near the end of a project, I begin to worry about my next one. What’s the story? Who are my characters and what are their conflicts? How can I top my last novel? Today I find the revision process the most difficult part. I love polishing a text; but sometimes I get carried away with the tinkering. At that point I go back to the original draft and determine whether the tinkering adds something, some new dimension, or does it get in the way?

What is the easiest part of the writing process?

The late great sports writer Red Smith wrote Writing is easy. I just open a vein and bleed. Opening a vein is never easy, but it’s essential, in my opinion, to great writing. It separates the great writers from the mercenaries, who write simply for the masses, for profit. Unfortunately, that seems to go against what many creative writing courses are teaching young writers today. They’re told that they must allow the reader to experience the text in their own way. I understand that, but one must still lead the horse to the water. What if your reader has never experienced what you’re writing about? For example, I’ve never fathered children, so it does me little good to read about a character’s joy over holding his newborn son for the first time by writing, “He was proud.” I like metaphor and so I could relate to something like, “Holding his son for the first time he felt as if he’d just hit the walk-off homerun in the seventh game of the World Series.” Raymond Chandler was one of the greatest stylists ever to write, and I consider myself somewhat of a stylist, too. It comes natural to me. I love language, and to me how something is said is as important as what is said; yet sadly, the publishing industry seems to frown on anything that might take a reader out of the story. Well, commercials do that on TV; but it doesn’t lessen our enjoyment of our favorite shows, does it? If the industry is losing money, perhaps they should reconsider the cookie cutter mold stories they seem to want to publish.

Does writing come easy for you?

It comes a lot easier today than it did when I started twenty years ago! That’s a product of experience -- like an exercise routine, the first few workout sessions are difficult as your muscles rebel against the abuse you put them through. But in time, your body craves those workouts. Writing is like that for me. The more I do it the more I feel the need to do it. Raymond Chandler wrote Everything a writer learns about the art or craft of fiction takes just a little away from his need or desire to write at all. In the end he knows all the tricks and has nothing to say. I hope I never reach that end because every session is an adventure. I learn something about the craft of writing and, more importantly, about myself.

What, in your opinion, are the essential qualities of a good story?

For me, the most essential quality of a good story is characters with whom I can connect. Finding a good story to write is easy; but writing about characters the reader cares about is more difficult. Hannibal Lecter is one of the most demented characters ever conceived, yet he was fascinating, a train wreck away from which we want to look but can’t.

Where can we learn more about your books?

My third novel, One Hot January, is soon to launch, through Second Wind Publishing. You can learn more about me and all my literary endeavors at my website.

Thursday, February 17, 2011

Introducing the Authors of Second Wind Publishing

I thought a fun way to introduce the authors of Second Wind Publishing, LLC (or at least the ones who wanted to be introduced) would be to have them answer three simple questions so you can see how different authors perceive themselves and their writing. The questions:

1. What is writing like for you?
2. What is the most thrilling thing about getting published?
3. What is the most humbling thing about getting published?

Nancy A. Niles, author of Vendetta:

1. Writing is something that I can’t not do. It’s my best friend, sometimes a pain in the neck, but most times just something that I need to do for my own peace of mind.

2. The most thrilling thing about getting published is the encouragement it has given me to keep writing and keep allowing myself to express more freely and deeper. I think all those rejection slips had an effect on me and now being published is having a strengthening and very positive effect on my writing.

3. The most humbling thing about getting published is knowing that for a few hours the people who read my novel will be taken away from their problems and be in my world. It humbles me to know that for just a short time I can give them a little escape from their troubles. It is quite a blessing.

Laura S. Wharton, author of The Pirate's Bastard:

1. Writing is like exercise. Sometimes, it’s really hard to get up at 4:00 in the morning to begin writing...the warm covers are oh so snuggly. Other times, the adrenalin rush about an aspect of the story-in-process surging through me has me up at 3:00, sitting still for three hours, and then reluctantly stopping so I can prepare myself and family for the work/school day ahead. Like exercise, it has to be done nearly every day to accomplish anything close to completion.

2. The most thrilling thing about getting published is reading reviews from unknown readers – and seeing that they really loved my story.

3. The most humbling thing about getting published is seeing typos after publication of what I thought was an error-free book.

Nichole R. Bennett, author of Ghost Mountain:

1. Writing is in my blood. I don't mean that I come from a long line of authors, because I don't. But I have to write. I have to get those words out of my body and onto paper. Some days those words flow and there is no stopping them. Other days I struggle over each and every letter. Either way, writing is something I have to do. Just like eating or breathing.

2. The most thrilling thing is knowing that I am living my dream. Yes, it can be hard, but this is what I want to do and I'm doing it. How many people can truly say they get to live their dream?

3. I'm not sure there's a humbling moment for me. I knew going in that writing would take some thick skin and hard work. I knew not everyone would like my work or appreciate the time and energy that it took to get where I am. That's okay. I'm just grateful for the opportunities I have had and that there are people who do like it!

J. Conrad Guest, author of Backstop: A Baseball Love Story in Nine Innings and One Hot January:

1. I haven’t found anything that provides the level of satisfaction writing provides me—the highs of crafting a perfect sentence, of self-discovery and exploring the universal themes of love and loss, dying and death, salvation, redemption, and keeping my parents alive and making them proud.

2. As writers, I think we all believe our work is the greatest since Hemingway, and seeing our work in print is affirmation, a thrill, that our work has merit—even if it isn’t really as good as Hemingway.

3. I find nothing humbling about getting published (I write with publication in mind), save for the process. By the time I receive my first proof copy, I’ve gone over my manuscript a dozen times or more and have probably a half-dozen drafts. An editor has gone over it, found several typos I’ve missed, and made suggestions for changes—some with which I agree, but most I discard. So I find it maddening and, yes, humbling, when I start reading my proof copy and find ways to improve the narrative, to rewrite a passage and, worst of all, I find a typo! I’m a perfectionist, so, yes, it’s humbling to learn I still can improve upon the process.

Eric Beetner, co-author of One Too Many Blows to the Head and Borrowed Trouble

1. Writing is lonely and tiring. Even writing as a part of a team like I do with Jennifer is still lonesome. We live on opposite coasts and only communicate through email. I never show anything to anyone for critique. Never let early drafts out to the public. So having her around is also an act of real trust. We show each other our naked first drafts and still expect that we'll respect each other in the morning.

2. I find that it is too easy to only hear from a friendly audience of family and friends so the biggest thrill for me is when a total stranger says or writes something good about my writing. I know it is genuine. Being published lets that person have exposure to my work and find something in it that resonates or entertains. That's why we're here, right?

3. Oh, brother, what hasn't been? I've had signings at book stores I respect (and where I shop) I've been in panel discussions alongside authors I admire. I've met writers as an equal – a fellow published author, not just a fan. All that has made me feel grateful beyond words.

Lazarus Barnhill, author of The Medicine People and Lacey Took a Holiday:

1. A few years ago I came back to writing fiction after a self-imposed twelve-year period during which I did not write, and found about twenty ideas of books rattling around in my head. My first official act was to get a notebook and list the novels, outlining them to the degree they had “marinated” in my imagination. For me, writing is getting out of the way and allowing those stories that germinated so long ago to take root, flower and bear fruit.

2. The thrill comes from somebody you don’t personally know buying a book, or seeking you out intentionally at a book signing. It’s also thrilling when someone asks you a question about your story in such a way that you know they have read it with comprehension.

3. A couple things strike me right away. First is the praise I often get from my colleagues. When another writer whose work I admire compliments my work in a way that reveals I’ve accomplished precisely what I set out to do in the story—that is humble. The second thing is when people I know hunt me down and pester me until I get them a copy of one of my books. And sign it to them personally. I’m not accustomed to adulation.

Lucy Balch, author of Love Trumps Logic:

1. Writing is like I’m in a time machine. I can work for hours on a story and it always feels like much less time.

2. The most thrilling thing about getting published is the knowledge that, finally, I'll have something to show for the five years I've put into this obsession. Maybe I haven't been selfishly squandering huge amounts of time?!

3.The most humbling thing about getting published is the realization that so many good writers have not yet been given the opportunity to publish. Is my book worthy of the privilege? As an unpublished author, I can always tell myself that my book will be well received when given the chance. The reality might be different. I hope not, but it's a possibility, and once a book bombs there is no going back to the fantasy of it doing well.

Juliet Waldron, author of Hand-Me-Down Bride:

1. I write historicals, so writing for me is like entering a time portal—or, sometimes, like stepping out of Dr. Who’s callbox after accidentally pushing the wrong button. I have an idea of what may be there when I first look around, but I often find the world I’ve entered to be surprisingly different from my preconceptions.

2. The most thrilling thing about getting/being published is having someone you don’t know leave a message or write a review that totally “gets” the book. Shows I wasn’t as off-base as I sometimes—in those dark 3 a.m. moments—imagined.

3) The most humbling thing about getting/being published is that we have so much competition, and that there is a great deal of good writing out there. After publication there is the (IMO) far less agreeable marketing to do. The playful creation is now complete.

Claire Collins, author of Images of Betrayal and Fate and Destiny:

1. For me, writing is a journey. I don't always know the final destination until I start traveling, but it's always a rewarding trip.

2. The most thrilling thing about being published is when people read what I've written and they like it. I write for myself because writing is almost a compulsion for me. Readers enjoying my writing is a bonus.

3. The most humbling thing? All of the work it takes to get the books out and maintain a normal life while still trying to write. I realized pretty quick that I wasn't superwoman. I'm still trying, but someone keeps standing on my cape.

Mickey Hoffman, author of School of Lies:

1. For me, writing is like being in that space just after you woke up from a dream but you only remember half of the dream and you spend all your waking moments trying to flesh it out.

2. I had some stories to tell and now I feel like they'll be heard. And it really is thrilling. I feel like I'm white water rafting and I don't need a boat!

3. I'll be awed that anyone would take the time to read what I've written when they could be doing something more valuable with their time.

Deborah J Ledford, author of Staccato and Snare:

1. I am an entertainer. I don’t write for a cause or to pose my own thoughts or impressions on issues. My only function is to provide a suspense-filled, exciting ride the reader won’t want to stop until they reach the very last word.

2. The most thrilling thing about being published is seeing the words I’ve worked so diligently to craft actually in print. If what I present happens to be worthy enough for readers to tell others about Staccato, that’s all I could ask for.

3. Everything about being published is humbling to me. That readers would seek out Staccato, then take the time to escape from their lives for a while, makes me more grateful than anyone could possibly know.

Sherrie Hansen Decker, author of Night and Day, Stormy Weather, and Water Lily:

1. For me, writing is like a dream vacation - a chance to escape the realities of my everyday life and travel to some faraway world where I can see the sights and meet new people.

2. For years, I wrote and wrote, wondering if anyone would ever read my words. What a wonderful feeling to be writing for readers who are eagerly awaiting my next release!

3. Every time I think I have a perfect draft, I find more errors glaring out from the pages of my proof. Very humbling . . .

Norm Brown, author of The Carpet Ride:

1. As a retired computer programmer, I see a lot of similarities between writing a novel and creating a complex software program. Both processes require an enormous attention to detail. All the little parts have to tie together in a logical way and a good flow is critical. And it's hard work to get all the "bugs" out of a book, too.

2. The most thrilling thing for me was pulling the first copy of my book out of the box and holding it in my hands. It was exciting to see something that I actually created.

3. The most humbling thing for me about being published was discovering how much I have to learn about promoting my book. I'm still learning.

Jerrica Knight-Catania, author of A Gentleman Never Tells:

1. Writing for me depends on the day. Some days it's the most wonderful romp through my dream land and other days it's like getting a root canal.

2. Knowing that someone else believes in your work enough to put it in print is just about the most thrilling feeling. It's great to hear friends and family say how much they enjoyed my work, but to have it validated by professionals is a whole 'nother ball game!

3. I'm not sure I've been humbled at all! Haha! But I've never really had unrealistic expectations of myself or my work. . . . I'm prepared to correct mistakes and make cuts/edits as needed. I'm just grateful every day for the opportunities I've been given.

Dellani Oakes, Author of Indian Summer and Lone Wolf:

1. Writing is like a discovery process. I start with a beginning line, an idea or even just a character's name and watch as the characters lead me where they want me to go.

2. I loved the fact that I finally was validated. Someone did think I was worth publishing and I wasn't just "Wasting time with all that writing."

3. Humbling? Wow, I think the most humbling - perhaps humiliating - step in the publishing process is all the rejection you get until someone finally says "Yes, we want you!"

Margay Leah Justice, author of Nora’s Soul:

1. For me, writing is like creating a baby. There is the conception (what a wonderful idea!), the writing/rewriting period (gestation, anyone?) and the birth (I can't believe it's finally here!). And then you nurture it for the next couple of years as you slowly introduce it to the public - and hope they don't think it's an ugly baby.

2. The most thrilling thing about getting published is the sense of accomplishment when you see it in print for the first time and you discover that people actually like it!

3. The most humbling thing about getting published is seeing the book in print for the first time and realizing that all of those years of struggling, writing, rewriting, submitting - all boil down to this one little book that you can hold in the palm of your hand.

Christine Husom, author of Murder in Winnebago County, Buried in Wolf Lake, and An Altar by the River:

1. Writing is multi-faceted for me. It is a joy, but also pretty hard work at times. I do much of my writing in my mind and when I finally sit down to get it on paper, it often comes out differently. I spend more time mentally forming plots and picturing scenes than I do writing them. I love having a whole day here and there to sit at my computer and concentrate on writing. If I have problems with a scene, I skip ahead to the next one so I don't get frustrated.

2. The most thrilling thing about being published is getting my books out of my house and into readers' hands--hoping people get some enjoyment reading them.

3. The most humbling thing about getting published is seeing mistakes and typos in what I thought was an error-free manuscript!

Amy De Trempe, author of Loving Lydia and Pure is the Heart:

1. Writing for me is like unmapped journey, I never know what turns, obstacles or excitement is about to unfold.

2. The most thrilling thing about getting published is seeing my name on a book cover.

3. The most humbling thing about getting published is finding out how supportive and happy my friends and family really are for me.

Mairead Walpole, author of A Love Out of Time:

1. In some ways, writing is a form of therapy. Not from a "work out my issues" standpoint, but rather it allows me to escape from the day to day stresses of the world. I can let the creative, sometimes a little off-beat, imaginative part of my soul off the leash and let it run. Some of my very early writing did dip into the realm of "working out my issues" and those stories will never see the light of day!

2. Can I channel my inner Sallie Fields and run around saying, "They liked it, they really liked it..."? No? Darn. Seriously, I think it is the whole - I did this - aspect. Someone read the book and thought it was worth publishing. That is pretty cool no matter how you cut it.

3. Opening yourself up to criticism, being vulnerable. Sure, you know that not everyone is going to love your book, and intellectually you know that some people will hate it and think you are a hack, but when someone actually expresses that to you it is a whole new experience. It can be very humbling.

Suzette Vaughn, author of Badeaux Knights, Mortals, Gods, and a Muse, and Finding Madelyn:

1. I'm like a humming bird on too much caffine. I write in waves. When the wave hits I can put out several thousand words in an unbelievably small amount of time. Then when I'm not in humming bird mode I edit.

2. The most thrilling is probably the fact that there are people out there that I don't know that have read my book and liked it. I had the pleasure a few times of meeting them and there is some twinkle in their eye that is amazing.

3. My son is always humbling. I recieved my proofs in the mail and my then seven year old son didn't fully understand what it meant that I'd written a book. He flips through the pages looking for hand-writting. "I get in trouble when I write in books."

JJ Dare, author of False Positive and False World:

1. Writing is like being in a triathlon for me. I power write for days or weeks at a time, then crash for awhile with the help of Tylenol and chocolate. Writing is a scary, exciting roller-coaster. It is exhilarating and draining, and Iwouldn't do it any other way.

2. The most thrilling thing about getting published is the very act of being published! Something I wrote is out there, available for anyone to read. Holding the hard copy of my book in my hands gives me the good shivers. The other thrill is the pride in my family's voices when they introduce me as "The Writer."

3. The most humbling thing is feeling responsible for the places I take my readers. During the time they're walking with and living the lives of the characters in my book, my readers are taking the same roller-coaster ride I took to write the

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

1. For me, writing is like the world’s longest crossword puzzle, one that takes a year to complete. I like playing with words, finding their rhythm, and getting them to behave the way I want. I like being able to take those words and create ideas, characters, and emotions.

2. Someday perhaps, I will find the thrill of being published, but to be honest it was anti-climatic. I am more thrilled at the thought of what the future might bring now that my books have been published.

3. I had no intention of answering these questions. After all, I was the one who collated all these mini interviews, but a fellow author said, "This is your party, too. People will tune in because of you. They want to know more about YOU. Don't cheat your fans and followers." Now that's humbling.

Click here to read the first chapters of all Second Wind novels: The Exciting Worlds of Second Wind Books

Wednesday, February 16, 2011

Access Copyright, Bill C-32 and Canadian Writers

As a Canadian author, I'm very concerned with protecting my copyright and my works, and it's great that we have organizations like Access Copyright fighting for us and fighting to keep Canada's literary culture alive and well. Don't get me wrong, I am all for making it easier for schools to have access to Canadian works, but authors must be rewarded for their work, just as teachers are.

In the video below, a handful of Canadian writers share their thoughts on Bill C-32 and its possible effects. I'm sharing it to help educate the public. Most Canadian writers earn very modest incomes. Many writers try to get by on less than minimum wage. Some people say that's our choice. And it is. But creating is our calling, our vocation, our passion.

Just like anyone else, creators need income to survive. Our incomes depend not just on sales. We also depend on income we receive when universities, colleges, schools, corporations and governments make copies of our works for their own use, instead of buying more copies of the original.

Copyright exists to protect creators. When others use our works, copyright law should ensure the people who worked so hard to produce them are compensated.

Cheryl Kaye Tardif,
bestselling Canadian author

Sunday, February 13, 2011

Does the Old Way of Creating a Bestseller Need to Change?

While doing research for a workshop I and a colleague gave on e-books, e-readers, and e-publishing, I came across some interesting stats, information, and opinions about the revolutionary world of e-books and e-publishing.

One of the things that struck me was J.A. Konrath’s fascinating blog about the world of e-books. Konrath believes that the old way of creating bestsellers through the large publishing houses’ distribution channels and coop arrangements with bookstore chains and big box stores, will change, thanks largely to e-books. E-book selling has taken out the entire distribution and coop process as writers find easy, simple ways to publish their books and place them straight into e-book stores. Konrath maintains that the current prices large publishers charge for e-books (anywhere from $9.99 to $16.99) will have to be reduced if they want to compete. There are too many good and/or popular books that are selling for much lower prices. The Girl With the Dragon Tattoo sells for $5.00 on Sony’s ebook store, for example. Stephen King, and Dean Koontz also have e-books on the market for under $10.00, or even under $5.00 with some of their titles. I think Konrath is right, and here’s a great example of why:

Twenty-six year old Amanda Hocking has quickly become an e-book bestseller with her nine self-published paranormal novels about trolls, vampires, and zombies. What’s so astounding about Hocking is that she only began publishing ebooks in March 2010. By the end of that year she’d sold 164,000 copies of her e-books priced from $.99 to $2.99. This January she sold over 450,000 copies, (99% of them e-books). She attributes her success to aggressive marketing on twitter, Facebook, and her blogs; but here’s the thing: she’s outselling big name authors. How is a large publisher going to compete with the wave of independently published books that lots of people are buying?

Konrath says that in the future, distribution and coop won’t be the main reason a book sells. It will be price and content. Hocking isn’t the only unknown author who’s selling well. If you follow the amazon and kindle forums, you’ll quickly realize that a growing percentage of unknown writers are selling thousands of copies of their books, and when a print book, on average, sells only 250 copies these days, that’s something.

To read all of Konrath’s Feb. 8th blog on this topic, go to and to read a bit more about Amanda Hocking’s amazing story go to

Coming in March 2011, THE OPPOSITE OF DARK,
My Alex Bellamy mysteries can be purchased at

Saturday, February 12, 2011

Interview with Mickey Hoffman, author of School of Lies

What is your book about?

School of Lies is funny mystery novel about a bunch of teachers who work in a dysfunctional, urban high school. The stressful environment is a perfect catalyst for the murder that takes place. My new book, Deadly Traffic takes a teacher out of her comfort zone into the word of human trafficking when female students disappear from campus.

Tell us a little about your main characters. Who was your favorite? Why?

My MC is a Special Ed. teacher named Kendra Desola. She’s compulsive and overly inquisitive; every problem has to be examined and solved. She is devoted to her students but has learned the hard way that the best way to help them often involves breaking the rules. There’s a tension between her wanting to be a good role model and her willingness to lie when she thinks it’s useful. In Deadly Traffic, Kendra meets a young man, Win Ni (who my brother decided to call Win Ni the Pooh). Win has a good heart but he wants to be rich and is willing to do almost anything to achieve his goal. I wanted to make him a lot darker than he ended up because I became fond of him.

Who is your most unusual character?

I’d have to say most of them are unusual, but they’re true to form. The good characters I create are never all good and that bothers some people. Readers who aren’t familiar with what really goes on in public schools may think the teachers I portray are over the top. I’ve had people react in shock. They say, “A Vice Principal wouldn’t talk like that.” Oh, but they do, they do.

Did you do any research for the book? If so, how did you do it? (searching Internet, magazines, other books, etc.)

For School of Lies I relied on my own experience moving through different schools. I mentally filed away what other teachers told me of their experiences as well. The book, in fact, started because some of my fellow teachers knew I liked to write and said, “You should really make a book about some of this stuff because no one would believe it.” For my second book, Deadly Traffic, I read several nonfiction books about modern slavery—in this country as well as overseas—and human trafficking, and visited many websites.

What was the first story you remember writing?

My family used to make up poems and stories in the car during road trips when I was very young and I’d try to contribute when my older brother would stop torturing me. Just kidding. I do recall writing a play in 9th grade with some friends about a super pigeon named Supersplatt.

What do you like to read?

I like mystery novels, fantasy and science fiction. I try to find mysteries with puzzles and with as little gore as possible. Some of my favorite writers are Elizabeth George, Ian Rankin and Tad Williams.

What writer influenced you the most?

Mark Twain. Absolutely.

What one book, written by someone else, do you wish you’d written yourself?

Hitchhiker’ Guide to the Galaxy by Douglas Adams.

What, in your opinion, are the essential qualities of a good story?

I want the main characters to have a “quest.” The quest can be a real journey or one in their heads and if there’s mystery involved all the better.

What is the best advice another writer gave you?

I asked how you tell when your manuscript is finished. The reply: “You don’t leave a book when it’s done, it leaves you.”

See also:

Mickey Mickey Hoffman's author page at Second Wind Publishing, LLC
Interview of Kendra DeSola the Hero of School of Lies by Mickey Hoffman
The first chapter of School of Lies by Mickey Hoffman
Review of School of Lies by Mickey Hoffman

Tuesday, February 08, 2011

Romance Giveaway for Valentine’s Day. Free ebooks! Everybody wins!

Second Wind Publishing is celebrating close encounters of the romantic kind this Valentine’s Day by giving away free romance ebooks! All you have to do to receive your ebook is go to the Second Wind Blog, (click here), choose one of the titles listed in the article, and leave a comment telling us which one you want. We will send you a coupon code to use at where you can download your free ebook in whatever format you choose.

Happy Valentine's Day from Second Wind Publishing!

Sunday, February 06, 2011

Canadian Publishing Industry Takes Another Hit

The Canadian publishing industry has certainly had its ups and downs over the years—decades, actually—and let’s face it, sometimes the whole industry seems built on a precariously perched stack of cards. For instance, nearly every publisher depends, to varying degrees, on government grants to publish books. Whenever governments cut those grants, publishing programs are reduced, and sometimes a publishing house ceases to exist.

When the Chapters bookstore chain started up a few years ago, the fear and frenzy among publishers and bookstore owners ran into overdrive, and sadly, there were casualties. Nearly all of the independent bookstores I used to do business with folded, smaller distributors (including mine) went bankrupt, and publishers waited longer than ever for payment.

The latest development rocking the publishing scene is this week’s announcement that Canada’s largest book distributor, HB Fenn, is filing for bankruptcy. A number of reasons were given: a significant loss of business due to competition, the steep discounting of books, and the skyrocketing popularity of ebooks. The bottom line is that Fenn’s demise is putting 125 people out of work and sending publishers scrambling to find another distribution outlet, which for the short term could hurt their bottom lines, too.

Although the turmoil in this industry seems perpetual, a wide variety of books are still published, reviewed, and sold every year. Savvy writers and publishers are not only used to it, but will adapt. In other words, it’s business as usual. To read the whole story by Vit Wagner from The Toronto Star, go to

Coming in March 2011, THE OPPOSITE OF DARK,

My Alex Bellamy mysteries can be purchased at

Saturday, February 05, 2011

Guest blogger Marian Perera: Start with the heart

Today's guest is Marian Perera, author of Before the Storm, a romantic fantasy and her debut novel. She has some great insights into writing with heart and revealing a story's inner conflicts. Welcome, Marian. ~Cheryl Kaye Tardif

Start with the heart

I love writing romance. Even in my fantasy manuscripts there’s always a main couple who usually don’t get along at first, but find they have to work together to survive or to deal with a problem. And of course, in romances that’s the heart of the issue.

That’s how I start to write each romance, how I develop the idea and work it out. It always begins with a simple but strong conflict between two characters. For the sake of brevity I’ll refer to heroes and heroines, but this system can be adapted to same-sex romances just as well.

Every love story, from the most famous to the most obscure, can be boiled down to a simple but strong conflict. Gone with the Wind began with, “She loves him. But he’s going to marry another woman” though it slowly changed to “He loves her. But she’s infatuated with another man”. In The Thorn Birds, it was, “She loves him. But he’s a priest.”

That’s the heart of the matter, in other words, and the rest of the story grows from it. Nearly everything else can be changed – the characters’ descriptions, the style and the setting. Romeo and Juliet worked just as well when it took place in Verona Beach (William Shakespeare’s Romeo + Juliet) and in New York City (West Side Story). But the core conflict between two people is the foundation stone.

Stripping the story down its bare bones shows the connection between the characters : “She’s a district attorney. He’s the innocent man she once prosecuted.” It can also show the conflict which propels the plot – or better yet, do both. And this can also warn the writer if there’s not enough of a clash to keep the story going.

“She’s the owner of a fancy restaurant. He eats there all the time” probably won’t work, but “She’s the owner of a fancy restaurant. He’s the fancier competition” has inherent tension. And ideally, readers should be able to see both sides. “She’s in love with him. But he stole all her savings and burned down her home” raises the question of what exactly she’s in love with.

Summarizing the romance to a crisp soundbite will also help when the manuscript goes out into the world, either to an agent/publisher or to readers. These days, writers don’t have the luxury of explaining plots at length. Make it short and sweet, though, and it’s more likely to be memorable.

In my debut novel, Before the Storm, it was, “He’s a baron trying to defend his people. She’s a high-class whore who has just been gifted to him by his greatest enemy.” That gift turns out to be a Trojan horse, and it has consequences none of them expect.

Now I have a question for you. If you write romance – in any way, shape or form – what’s the central conflict of your story?

Bio : Marian Perera studies medical laboratory technology (final year of college!) when she isn’t writing. Her first novel, a romantic fantasy called Before the Storm, was just released in paperback, and she blogs about writing, publication and every step between the two at Flights of Fantasy.

You can read the first chapter of Before the Storm HERE.

Blurb : In Dagran society Alex is a "mare", a woman used by the nobility, until her owner gifts her to his greatest enemy, Robert Demeresna. Robert wins her trust, but this mare is a Trojan horse, her owner's weapon in the battle to come. A battle fought with steam engines on the fields of Dagre, and psychic magic in the arena of her mind.

Before the Storm is available at

Friday, February 04, 2011

Crime Fiction Contest

Circalit has just announced a competition to find the next big crime fiction blockbuster, with winning entries being submitted to the leading literary agency, A.P. Watt. They are hosting the competition online where the public can read all submissions and vote for their favourite novels. The top submissions will be read and considered for representation by A.P. Watt. The competition is free, but you do need to create an account at Circalit and post your work online.

Raoul Tawadey, founder of Circalit, commented, “There is a wealth of literary talent across the globe, only a fraction of which gets the recognition it deserves. Crowd-sourcing is a great way for the publishing industry, which thrives on new talent, to find novels with a proven readership. We hope this competition will give talented new writers an opportunity to get their work noticed, and demonstrate the power of the internet to create a global talent pool.”

To enter your manuscript, please visit

Since this is a new site, I don't know much about them, but it might be worth checking out. Best of luck!