Tuesday, December 30, 2008


Manuscript deadline - including 365 illustrations is 28 hours away! Yikes!

Happy New Year and all the best happiness and prosperity for 2009!

Monday, December 29, 2008

Writers: Learn about 'The Four Firsts and Chapter Hooks'

In fiction, suspense and foreshadowing create mood, tension and the desire for a reader to read more. You can do this, by using the Four Firsts rule and by using Chapter Hooks...

Read the article on The Four Firsts and Chapter Hooks.

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

Sunday, December 28, 2008

Ring in the New!

Days away from 2009 I imagine you are all writing down your resolutions, just like me. I will work out every day. I'll fix up the front of the house. I'll reduce my personal debt.

Of course, there are the writing goals as well. I will support the new book coming out by following the marketing plan I painstakingly created. And I have a specific writing goal - finish the current novel project by July 1st. I love this time of year because it gets me focused on what I want to accomplish.

The approach of a new year also brings a rather random collection of thoughts and memories to mind. I remember the first time as a child that I was allowed to stay up late on New Year's Eve. When you reach middle age you’re kind of forced to. Being an optimist I do want to stay up until midnight to see the New Year in, although I know some who stay up just to make sure the old year leaves. We all make New Year's resolutions, knowing that they just go in one year and out the other. But my favorite New Year’s quote comes from the wisdom of Benjamin Franklin:

“Be always at war with your vices, at peace with your neighbors, and let each New Year find you a better man.”

Sunday, December 21, 2008


For students of human nature, this gem from Frank Herbert, author of the incredible Dune series:

“If a man lies about an apparently inconsequential thing, then that thing is not inconsequential.”

Saturday, December 20, 2008

Let it snow, let it snow, let it snow...

Ah yes, the holidays are very nearly upon us and it appears that all over the Northeast the weather is cooperating in bringing us lovely postcard views of winter weather... snowy landscapes abound, framed by slushy or frozen streams, children; their downy cheeks rosy with cold cavort in nature's drifts; their falls cushioned by fluffy, crunchy, wet and cold snow...

We enjoy the winter, as we should. After all it's a respite from summer's stifling heat and humidity. It feels clean and new and fresh.... it invigorates and sets noses to tingling while also numbing our reddening ears...

And yet, the time comes when we yearn for Spring. We look upon the crocuses and tulips that bravely push themselves through the winter snow and slush in winter's waning days...and nights with a mixture of hope and admiration. But there are other things under the snow aren't there? Awful, ugly, secret things that would smell of rot and frighten the bejeezus out of us if it weren't for their wonderfully concealing blanket of white... What secrets have Mother Nature jealously hidden under her white mantle? Secrets that surface only when she deigns to turn her wintry face away and, perhaps shyly, let us see? Does the snow hide that nice old lady that used to walk her dog near the poplars every morning? What happened to her? Why didn't anyone miss her? What about that little boy that was reported as missing in the next county over? Is that his red cap we see peeking out through the otherwise pristine whiteness? Whatever happened to that poor, sad woman everyone knew was being abused by her husband but everyone kept quiet about? Is that her blue, broken hand poking up from the dirty slush by the side of the road?

For crime writers, our Winter Wonderland is often really a veil of secrets that do not come to light until the thaws of Spring. We know that crime doesn't recognize seasons or pretty landscapes. How often have you heard someone say to a reporter on t.v., "Things like that just don't happen around here..." Maybe the next time you find yourself hiking through those pretty woods, your boots crunching through nature's snowy path, maybe you'll quicken your steps because really, what is the snow hiding? Maybe next time you gaze securely through your kitchen window at the lovely landscape that the winter so graciously provided you, you'll feel a slight shudder and the picture will blur for just a moment as you wonder...what's hiding under the snow in YOUR yard?

Thursday, December 18, 2008

Bad Time for Publishers... but What About Writers?

What is going on in the publishing industry right now? It seems like a rather scary time for people in the business. I read not long ago that Houghton Mifflin Harcourt has asked its editors to stop buying books. So if you have submitted a manuscript to that house or its many imprints, don’t expect to hear anything any time soon. I’ve never heard of a publisher going so far as to instruct its editors to stop acquiring. One wonders what acquisition editors do at times like these.

At the same time, Simon & Schuster cut 35 positions from their staff. And Random House, the world's biggest publisher, announced a sweeping reorganization of its publishing divisions. Bantam Dell (the imprint publishes Danielle Steel and Dean Koontz) and Doubleday Publishing Group (Dan Brown and John Grisham) both lost their publishers. Not fired, but resigned. And imprints are being combined or dropped.

Some insiders are saying they’ve never seen anything like it. I guess that means they weren’t around ten years ago when HarperCollins cancelled more than 100 contracts and laid off more than 400 people. The industry survives these challenges, just as other businesses do during a tough economic time. But what does it mean to you and me?

Well, if you’re published by one of the majors you might well be nervous about your next book seeing print. I, on the other hand, have a book placed with a small press. The management has not changed, and I don’t’ think acquisition policies have either. And despite the harsh economic climate, people around me seem to still be buying books. In fact, bookstores I was in this last weekend were doing brisk business, even without the 55 books I signed.

The situation today might be bad news for most of the books published by the big companies, but most of them never turn a profit anyway. Maybe this economic climate will force them to trim some of the fat, to lose some books that just don’t sell anyway. For those of us in the small press or self-published world, the big news may be no news. We already know how to work lean, we already work at marketing smart, we already look for every opportunity, and we know how to cut our losses if stuck with a loser.

So for me, and folks like me, the publishing recession might represent more opportunity than disaster. If Houghton Mifflin Harcourt and Simon & Schuster stop flooding the market for a while, maybe more people will notice my work.

Am I overly optimistic? Probably. It may be impossible for me to thrive while the giants stumble. But at this time of year, I remember the words of Rogers and Hammerstein in Cinderella:

The world is full of zanies and fools,
who don’t believe in sensible rules,
and won’t believe what sensible people say.

And because these daft and dewy-eyed dopes
keep building up impossible hopes,
impossible things are happening everyday!

Happy holidays and all the best to all my writing friends!

Sunday, December 14, 2008

Tis the Season

Isn't this the time when our gentler, kinder selves are supposed to prevail?  So how does the murder mystery writer continue to bludgeon not-so innocent victims with merriment and joy? It's easy - that might be one illustration of how a crime writer's mind works.

As I enjoy the dichotomy of Vancouver  - there's snow on the ground but all my spring bulbs are coming up and it's not yet Christmas - I recognize a similar conflict within me.  During this peaceful time of year, I'm getting images of people pushing each other's buttons to the extent that it's guaranteed someone will be murdered.

That's the easy part: deciding who will be murdered and by whom.  That leads to the motive or the "why" of the tale.  Then comes the fun part: the "how" it gets done.  From there, it's a matter of laying out the bread crumbs so a reader hears the story while also having an opportunity to figure out "who done it".  It's all in a way playtime.

And isn't that what the season is for: having fun?  So I guess it is also a time for murder (at least in a crime writer's mind)!

Friday, December 12, 2008

Enter to win a copy of 1106 Grand Boulevard by Betty Dravis

"1106 Grand Boulevard" is the story of passions that last a lifetime; of family love and betrayal; of spousal abuse and sadistic child abuse; a story of Billie Jean's desperate search for happiness, self-worth, and maturity ... a story of people needing people and people using people.

Enter to win 1106 Grand Boulevard:


Tuesday, December 09, 2008

Register for Bloody Words 2009

Canada’s premier mystery writers' and fan conference Bloody Words will be in Ottawa from June 5-7, 2009.

Confirmed guests of honour include Denise Mina, Louise Penny and Barbara Fradkin with Mary Jane Maffini as Mistress of Ceremonies.

For more information and registration forms, please visit:


Friday, December 05, 2008

This Writer's Room

What: My writing space. This used to be my daughter's nursery, hence the closet. Wonder hubby filled it with bookshelves after we left the diaper-era.

Why: I shot this picture after viewing a Video slideshow of Writers' Rooms as photographed by Eammon McCabe. All the spaces he photographed were of major writers so I thought you ought to see the room of an emerging writer, too. All the rooms have pretty much the same ingredients, if not reflective of different personalities and degrees of neatness.

Who: From the article: "In a new exhibition, award winning photographer Eamonn McCabe, draws together a selection of works from his project illustrating the working environments of novelists,biographers and poets."

Where: Eamonn McCabe: Writers' Rooms runs 3 December - 17 January at Madison Contemporary Art, London.Writers' Rooms feature each Saturday in The Guardian.
k. harrington
author, Janeology
What did Jane do and why? Read an excerpt of Janeology to find out - http://www.karenharringtonbooks.com/

Wednesday, December 03, 2008

"Divine Intervention captivated me"

"Para-psychic, Para-psychotic, Para-captivating! Ditto on the previous reviewers who loved the scenery, intricate plot lines with twists and turns...Divine Intervention captivated me and I think it will turn out to be better than the movie!"

--Yale R. Jaffe, author of Advantage Disadvantage

Read the entire review on Amazon.com.

(Note: No movie deal at this time. Film rights are available; email Cheryl.