Wednesday, December 29, 2010

Weather and Murder

Weather has really been in the news lately. Blizzards in a lot of the country and here where I live, it keeps raining and raining.

When you hear about people being trapped on a train for hours with no heat or food (and they didn't mention it, but what about toilet facilities?)you can bet murder was on the minds of a few. Once I was on a train that hit a car, fatal to the driver, and did damage to the train. We were stuck for several hours though we did have food, lights and the weather was fine, and they generously gave out free drinks. The only drawback was the toilets didn't work. I chose not to drink anything.

Here the rain is causing havoc. We have a river that runs behind our house and it is raging. We're up high enough not to worry, but there are plenty who are having to use sandbags to keep water out of their house. Ponds are overflowing causing more problems.

Approaches to the bridges are being closed because water and debris are coming over the top of the bridges, stranding some people in their homes.

All of these conditions are great possibilities to include in mysteries.

How are you faring in this unusual weather? Are you contemplating using any of it in a mystery?


Sunday, December 19, 2010

Be careful or you'll end up in my novel.

So proclaims a sweatshirt I got for Christmas last year.
I also have a mug that says, "I kill my enemies in my books. You're on page 12."
You think I'm kidding.

I always joke with people that if they make me mad, they will die a horrible death in one of my books.
Heh, heh.
Well, sort of.
The person would never recognize themselves. I'm smarter than that.
It is very cathartic.
Plus what goes around comes around, but you don't always get to see someone's comeuppance.
So that second grade teacher who told me lions weren't purple? Dealt with.
And many others.
What does it mean?
I don't have to hold grudges.
They are gone. They don't weigh me down and I can concentrate on the more positive people in my life.
So my next question.

Who wants to be next?
Merry Christmas.

Chris Redding's latest book, Incendiary, is out in electronic format this past week. It will be out in print in the Spring.

Friday, December 17, 2010

Thursday, December 16, 2010

Planning a New Mystery

I just finished a Rocky Bluff P.D. crime novel, as yet unnamed, and I am working on the editing which includes reading a chapter at a time to my critique group.

Mundania Press just sent me a contract for the next Deputy Tempe Crabtree mystery which will come out during the fall of 2011 which I do have a title for,Bears With Us.

This means it's time for me to write a new Tempe. I do have some ideas floating around though I haven't written anything down yet, so that's next. I need to come up with someone to kill (see, criminal minds at work), who would want that person dead--and preferably, more than one person with a good motive, interesting characters who I haven't written about before, though I do think Nick Two John should play a bigger part in this offering. We'll see, not sure how I'll do that.

In any case, things are beginning to float around in my head so the next step is to start taking notes.

Wish me luck--or perhaps inspiration might be a better word.

And while we're wishing, I wish you a very Merry Christmas.


Wednesday, December 15, 2010

What Mystery Writing Demands

Mystery as a genre is often dismissed as...well...genre fiction. It's true that there are expected, almost required elements that can make a mystery formulaic. Events sometimes veer from reality for the sake of plot. The police ignore possibilities outside the box. The protag loses his cell phone. He goes alone to a place where every sense should be screaming, "Don't!" A convenient character shows up and drops an essential bit of information without any real reason for doing so.
(In the book I'm currently reading--big name author--the protag is just wandering through an area and two complete strangers venture out of their homes, one after the other, and invite him in. Each provides valuable information about the case. Maybe I'm lacking social sense, but I cannot recall the last time I saw someone passing on the road and asked him in for tea!)
Mystery writing--at least the best of it--requires writing talent along with an additional skill: mystery construction. To create characters who resonate, plots that hold interest, and settings that pop is one thing, and we certainly want that. To at the same time drop hints for the reader, hints that add up later but don't give the whole thing away, is both different and difficult. Everything has to contribute, every blind alley must be believable at first but then not. As a reader, I feel cheated if a character has shown no sign of evil and yet is in the end. I hate it when the crime is so elaborate there is little possibility of it succeeding, and yet it does. I'm angry when the evildoer is not even on the radar until the final revelation.
In addition to good story-telling, then, a mystery writer has to do good mystery-telling. Unlike other genres, mystery is a maze. The writer knows the layout, and the reader must follow his lead. He should not meander, should not examine unrelated avenues. He should guide the reader deftly, with a clear reason for every twist and turn taken.
A reader of mystery should be entertained by good writing, but she should also find at the end that she was given, within the maze, a fair chance to solve the puzzle by herself. One hopes that she missed it, being so entertained by the journey.

Sunday, December 12, 2010

No Cents

How crazy is this? People breaking into a store to steal stuff that is given away for free. Duh.

Read all about it here.

Saturday, December 04, 2010

"I Kill People Off for a Living"

When people ask me what I do, I like to say, "I kill people off for a living." It's amazing the responses I get. Sometimes, I'll get a nervous laugh, a snicker, widened eyes, shocked expressions or just looks of confusion.

I know what they're thinking.

Really? She kills people off? Is she joking? What does she mean by that?

Yes, I'm a bit of a mind reader. But with this, it's not too difficult. Besides, I do it on purpose. I have a desire to shock people every now and then. Some may think it's a sadistic tendency; I just think it's kind of fun. And funny.

Most times, I'll clarify my answer. "I write suspense. I kill people off...fictitiously."

Their response. "Oh!" I'll hear a sigh of relief most times, then another laugh as they explain they weren't too sure about me.

I started saying this as a reply after my first thriller Divine Intervention was released back in 2004. As Cheryl Kaye Tardif, I've killed off someone in every novel. And not always people who deserve to die. I don't intentionally go looking for someone to write off; it just happens as a natural result of the direction the plot is going in.

So what about Cherish D'Angelo, my alter-ego who writes romantic suspense? Well, it seems even Cherish isn't immune to the need to write someone off--permanently. She tried to keep the victim alive. At least, in the second draft. But the victim, who wasn't a nice person at all, just begged to be killed. So I did this person in. Or, I should say, Cherish did.

Sure, Cherish may have the flowery name and she may write scintillating romance scenes and flowery descriptive prose, but she's also aware that once a character has fulfilled their destiny, we don't always need them around. And sometimes bad things happen to bad people.

In Lancelot's Lady, I can guarantee you one thing. There's a corpse. Now you just have to read it to find it. J

Lancelot's Lady is available in ebook edition at KoboBooks, Amazon's Kindle Store, Smashwords and other ebook retailers. "Cherish the romance..."

~Cherish D'Angelo (aka Cheryl Kaye Tardif)

Lancelot's Lady ~ A Bahamas holiday from dying billionaire JT Lance, a man with a dark secret, leads palliative nurse Rhianna McLeod to Jonathan, a man with his own troubled past, and Rhianna finds herself drawn to the handsome recluse, while unbeknownst to her, someone with a horrific plan is hunting her down.

You can learn more about Lancelot's Lady at Be sure to check out my blog and follow me on Twitter at 

Friday, December 03, 2010

Be Wary While Shopping

Already one of grown granddaughters had $20 stolen from her pocket while shopping. She was distracted because she was tending to a friend's toddler.

This is the time of year when the thieves are out in force and looking for unwary shoppers.

If you're going to leave your purchase in the car, not only be sure the car is locked, but that the purchases are in the trunk or on the floor where they won't be so easily seen.

Pay attention when you're walking in the parking lot with your purchases. Already have your key out. Watch to see who all is around you, if you're worried go back to the store and have someone walk out with you.

When you are still inside the store, keep an eye on those who are around you. Hang onto your purse, don't leave it in a basket or set it down anywhere.

It's too bad we have to think like this during the Holiday season, but far better to be wary than robbed.


Wednesday, December 01, 2010

A crime novelist is....

In defference to the spirit of the holiday season, I thought I'd lighten the topic of crime by offering a humorous (but realistic) look at what makes a crime novelist:

You know you are a crime novelist when...

10. ...if you don’t answer the phone because you’ve just stepped out of the shower, for the rest of the day you worry that the robber who called to ensure no one was at home is going to show up on your doorstep–or in your basement.

9. see the flashers of a cop car behind you and you’re pretty sure they're pulling you over to ask for your help in solving a major crime

8.'re certain that at some point in your life you are going to discover human remains and it won’t be in a funeral home or a graveyard

7. know the number for Crime Stoppers and have to resist calling in tips on what murder investigators ought to be doing. You also want to read them your list of suspects.

6. think your novel is more exciting and more realistic than that "other author’s" True Crime books.

5. vehemently deny that you ever wanted a ‘real’ career in law enforcement. And you lock all your doors and are in bed by 10:00 pm–unless you are in the middle of writing an exciting scene. In which case you go to bed two hours before your alarm goes off.

4. believe you would be a good candidate for the next Commander in Chief of the RCMP and are a bit disappointed when no one calls.

3. believe that cops are simply engaging in an grand conspiracy of denial when they say real-life policing is not nearly as exciting as it is on TV.

2. ...the lady crossing the street in a wheelchair looks suspicious to you.

AND...the top trait of a Crime novelist: think your manuscripts are so compellingly realistic that publishers are rejecting them out of fear that either the police or organized crime will come after them if they print your novels!

Happy Holidays to you all and the very best in 2011!

2011 will be an excellent year for me.  I'm excitedly awaiting the release of my debut novel SCHRODINGER'S CAT by WolfSinger Publications.  Can hardly wait.

Eileen Schuh, Author

Sunday, November 28, 2010


"A thief believes everybody steals." - E.W. Howe (1853 - 1937) American novelist and newspaper editor.

This bit is insight into human nature is a wonderful inroad into characterization. Everything we see or do runs through our personal filters. It's a fascinating study to listen to the language people use and how it reveals their world view.

Thursday, November 25, 2010

Happy Thanksgiving

There's an old Thanksgiving song that starts out, "Over the river and through the woods to Grandmother's house we go..."

When I was a child, my Dad would break into that song as we crossed the Pennsylvania border into West Virginia on our annual pilgrimage to celebrate the Holiday with his family. "The horse knows the way to carry the sleigh, through the white and drifting snow..."

The closer we got to his childhood home, the heavier his foot rested on the gas pedal as our Chevy station wagon climbed the hills on twisting roads and flew on the downside. His rich baritone voice belted the song, and in my imagination we were on that sleigh behind dapple grays in their rhythmic trot. I could hear the clump of their hooves and feel the blowing snow bite my cheeks as we were carried along.

It was magic, pure and simple. A magic that continued for the few days that we stayed in that 'otherworld.'

Today as those memories float pleasantly through my mind, I can almost smell the wonderful aromas of sage dressing, pumpkin pie, and mulled cider that permeated my grandmother's house. And I can hear the bustle of activity accompanied by short bursts of conversation among the women in the kitchen. The front bedroom is where the men gathered and brought out instruments. Their music became another soundtrack.

My brothers, sisters, and I would join other cousins in the back bedroom in between our numerous trips outside. Our biggest challenge was to see who could roll down the hill and retain the most amount of snow, turning ourselves into living snowpeople. The second biggest challenge was to see who would have the honor of receiving the drumsticks. They were dolled out on a 'merit' system based loosely on which of us waited the most patiently for the great announcement, "Dinner's Ready."

With memories like that, it was hard for me to face the formidable task of creating Thanksgiving Days that would live in glory for my children.

We were living in Texas, so mountains and snow were out of the question, and my signing never could quite match my father's. I didn't possess even a tenth of the culinary skills of my grandmother and my aunts, so the meal would probably be lacking. And we were more than a thousand miles away from cousins to help distract my children from their impatience.

But despite those limits, we managed to muddle through. I did manage a passable dinner and my husband actually raved about the German dressing. The pies were a major hit, all ten of them, and everyone was willing to eat the broccoli for the promise of a second piece of pie. And after cheering the Dallas Cowboys to another victory, most years, we would all tumble outside for a family game of touch-football.

In sifting through all these random memories I realize that the memory itself is not what is important. What is, is the fact that we have memories and they don't happen by accident. No matter what we do to 'mark' these important occasions, it is vital that we do 'mark' them. Even if our process doesn't live up to a Martha Stewart image or our own fond remembrances of childhood.

So here's to our memories, no matter how we create them.


Happy Thanksgiving to all my American friends, from Maryann Miller who is so thankful for all the friends she has made this year on the Internet.

Monday, November 22, 2010

Why Do We Enjoy Reading and Writing Mysteries?

When I read the newspapers and see the Internet news telling about heinous crimes, I think how awful. Often my mind goes to the families of all who are affected--not just the families who are related to the dead, but also the families of the one who did the killing.

In the books sometimes there isn't much about the family, but if there is they are usually twisted too, much like the criminal himself.In fact, the cruel father or the sadistic mother is what created the monster. In real life, often the family is as shocked by the actions of the killer as the rest of the world.

I was thinking about this while enjoying a mystery about a serial killer, then later reading something on the Internet about a real serial killer and shuddering.

This made me stop and think. Though I don't write about serial killers, I do write about ordinary people (or those who appear ordinary) who do bad things to other people and I got to wondering about it. Why do I enjoy reading and writing about such things?

I think the answer has to be in the books the bad guy always is caught and received some kind of justice. In real life, sometimes the bad guy is never caught or if he is caught and put on trial, sometimes something happens and he is released because of a mistrial or a jury finds him not guilty.

Do your have another opinion? I'd love to hear it.


Saturday, November 13, 2010

Why does TV get more leeway?

I know more than a dozen people in law enforcement.
That's not odd as I was on a first aid squad for 18 years.  We interact with the cops on a regular basis. When you call 911, depending on where you are, a police officer responds first.
Of those people in law enforcement half of them are or have been directly involved in investigating crimes.
In other words I have some great resources.
And none of them watch any crime shows on TV. They wish their jobs were that easy.
So I know from my research that crimes don't get solved in a half an hour and that crime scene techs wear, at the very least, booties on their feet. And that sometimes Emergency Medical Services has been there so the crime scene is not pristine.
But there are more than a dozen crime shows on TV.
If I wrote a book with that many inaccuracies, NO publisher would buy it.
Is the TV watching public not so smart? Being someone who watches TV, I'd like to think they aren't.
But publishers and I assume book buyers will not put up with such things wrong in my story.
Why does TV get so much leeway? Anyone have an answer?

Friday, November 12, 2010

What a Setting for a Murder!

Today hubby and were supposed to be driving down to Long Beach where we would spend the night and the next day be transported to the Splendor, one of the ships in the Carnival Cruise Line. Along with 40 others we planned to spend 7 days aboard and the days at sea be part of a mystery conference called "A Cruise to Die For."

If you've watched the news at all you know that the Splendor left port last Sunday on the same route we were supposed to go, but on Monday the engine caught fire. This meant the ship could no longer move under its own steam and all the electricity was knocked out.

For a few hours, the 400plus and crew had no flushing toilets. Finally, the toilets worked, but there was no electricity, no way to cook food or keep it cold. Of course the elevators didn't work, no one was allowed in the pools, and the casino was closed.

The US Navy came to the rescue with food: Spam, canned crab meat, canned fruit and Pop Tarts--of course there was no toaster to heat them up in.

Tug boats came to the rescue and slowly hauled the ship to San Diego. They arrived on Thursday and finally could disembark around noon.

What a perfect place for a murder. In fact, it's a wonder there wasn't one.

Only showers that could be taken were cold. Reading and game playing could only be done on deck and until it got dark. No air flow, so the lower decks smelled--and of course that's where people had to go to sleep.

For the first couple of days there was no phone service at all.

Though disappointed about the mystery cruise, I can't express how happy I am I was not on that boat the week before.

We've been promised our money back and a 25% discount on our next cruise. Those who planned the mystery cruise have promised to do it again, next November. Will I go? Sure, what are the chances of the same thing happening again?

Don't answer that.

Wonder if there were any authors aboard the Splendor this past week and if so if there imaginations are working overtime?


Friday, November 05, 2010

Execution by Elephant

This wood engraving was first published in Le Tour de Monde in 1868.
Capital punishment at its squishiest.

Monday, November 01, 2010

Magna cum Murder 2010

Magna, a small con in Muncie, Indiana that happened this past weekend, is always fun because it is smaller and more fan-friendly than some other cons. Here are my photos of some of it. Pictured: Luci Zahray, a.k.a The Poison Lady; Laura Alden, author, and P.J. Coldren, book reviewer. Charles Todd (a writing duo comprised of mother Caroline Todd and son Charles). Brenda Chapman, Tony Perona, and one unknown (sorry).
It was great fun!

Sunday, October 31, 2010

Happy Halloween

The photo is the Halloween decorations a grandson did at a campsite while camping with his family. He does even more elaborate decorations at his home. Corpses rise from caskets, ghostly figures hover around, and all sorts of nastiness. If I were still a kid I'd be scared to go to the door and knock for a treat. However, it doesn't keep any of his neighborhood kids away, it's the most popular house on the block, and his own two love it.

Do you go all out for Halloween?

When our kids were young, we always did something special. Once I made a spooky box like thing where the kids had to stick their hands in to get a their treat.

We often had Halloween parties with icky things to touch and scary villains making appearances at the window.

A nephew scared away a lot of kids trick-or-treating when he dressed up like a ghoul and had a skeleton hand he offered for a shake.

In the good old days (and mine were really back then), I can remember running all over the neighborhood, sometimes alone, to collect all the goodies I could get.

Nowadays, Halloween seems the perfect time for some horrible crime. I've never incorporated the holiday into a mystery, but there are certainly many options for intriguing and scary plot twists.

How about you? Have you ever had a scary experience at Halloween? Or made up one?


Tuesday, October 26, 2010

Cyber Crime Villains

I was downloading my updated NORTON INTERNET SECURITY software when the bubble popped up asking if I wanted to take advantage of their online backup service. I thought that was kind of a cool idea. Although I’ve been the victim of a couple of hard drive crashes, I'm notoriously negligent when it comes to backing up my computer files.

Something scared me a while ago and I backed up my document files to a thumb drive and put it in my fire-proof wall safe. As I said—that was a while ago. That 2008 backup copy of my documents is likely of not much value to me today.

I opted to partake in NORTON's free 30-day trial. Well, as per my luck with things computer, for three hours the trial version was stuck on ‘reading files and estimated size of backup’. As I waited for it to do something more exciting, I scanned the online news services looking for tidbits to use in my Criminal Minds at Work blog.

At some point it struck me that I had no idea where my files were going, who was looking after them, what they may do with them. I had quickly read the agreement with Norton before hitting the "I agree" button. I remembered something about granting a ‘third party’ access to my computer files. I panicked.

I have a vivid imagination. Who was this third party? Was it the FBI? The Mafia? Some legitimate poor soul trying to make a living who was on the brink of bankruptcy and was being offered a few thousand by organized crime to reveal my passwords and and other banking information that may be stored on my hard drive?

Alright, so I have a vivid imagination—but don’t under estimate the vulnerability of the Internet—and all things so linked and connected. My Back Tracker series outlines a host of possibilities. Katrina, my genius computer-geek-socially-inadequate-and-abrasive young heroine,achieves notoriety and power by outsmarting those those who would take control of cyberspace and bring the world to its knees.

p.s. Ever wonder what’s REALLY behind the international economic melt-down?
That’s all fictional speculation. Right? Right?

Judge for yourself. Here are October’s news headlines on CYBERCRIME.

Student hacker exposes high school website's flaws By NORMAN DE BONO, QMI Agency
Hmmm... this 15-year-old lad got into the school computer system because he’d warned the school’s administrators their protection was weak and they snubbed his offer to help. Computer people are weird that way—it often doesn’t take much of an incentive for them to wreak havoc in cyberspace. Sometimes just being able to, is a good enough reason. Apparently he could have changed marks and personal information . The hack was done in less than an hour.
Read more:

Few things are more interesting than combining sex and cyberspace crime.
Sneaky sex tape lands student in court
CALGARY - Surreptitiously taping a sexual encounter with his girlfriend, video which ended up on a shared University of Alberta computer network, has landed a Calgary man in legal hot water.
Read more:

Many computer criminals are actually very nice.
Thief steals laptop, sends victim backup files
But many want money.
Scam targeting students under investigation
TORONTO - An immigration scam targeting Chinese foreign students who are seeking online help with their visas is under investigation, Toronto Police said Thursday.

Facebook, of course, is always in trouble. People seem to view it like a public utility—something they are entitled to, on their own terms, for free. We are a strange generation…
Facebook probe mulled by Canada's privacy czar
Top 10 applications breach users' private information: paper's report
Read more:

We sometimes have a difficult time separating our REAL lives from our ethereal identities.
Cops suspended for inappropriate web surfing
QUEBEC CITY - Nine Quebec City police officers have been suspended for the improper use of the Internet at work. They'd reported viewed and shared material deemed offensive and in bad taste.

Child pornography is one of the most abhorrent cybercrimes.
Death threat suspect also faces child porn charges
A 28-year-old Montreal man accused of sending death threats over popular social networking sites may be facing new charges related to child pornography. read more:

The whole world is facing an identity crises as personal information is being intercepted and used for illicit purposes. No one knows how to hack into this info except computer geeks—the same people we must hire to protect us.
Bureaucrats with smartphones a risk: report
The federal government has not done enough to protect its smartphones from interception, leaving Canadians' personal information vulnerable, Canada's privacy commissioner warns. Read more:

Spammers might not be the most dangerous of cyberspace fraudsters, but they’re close to be the most annoying.
Court orders Montreal man to pay Facebook $1 billion
MONTREAL — Spammers of the world, beware.
A Quebec man has been ordered to pay Facebook $1 billion after he allegedly bombarded its members with junk messages. Read more:

Computers can also pose a direct physical risk.
Working with a laptop on your lap could lead to "toasted skin syndrome," say Swiss researchers who recommend placing a heat shield under such computers. Read more:

And if you think I’m being over dramatic:
Canada will spend $3.5M to fight hackers
The federal government will spend $3.5 million to set up a round-the-clock Information Protection Centre to protect its computer systems from hackers and cyber attacks, Public Safety Minister Vic Toews said Sunday. Read more:

It’s not just sex, money, and information that cyberspace criminals want. How about control of nuclear reactors?
Iran makes arrests in nuclear spy case
TEHRAN - Iran has arrested several people it believes were spying on its nuclear facilities, a news agency quoted the intelligence minister as saying on Saturday. The report gave no details and did not specify whether the arrests were linked to a virus Iran says infected computers at its Bushehr nuclear plant, which has yet to start working. Read more:

How about sabotaging the war effort?
Testing grounded for F-35 jets
Flight testing of Lockheed Martin's F-35 fighter jet, the costliest U.S. arms purchase, has been suspended as a precaution pending "minor" modification of software that controls signal timing, Cheryl Irwin, a Pentagon spokeswoman, said in a statement emailed after the close of markets.

And last but not least—perhaps one of the saddest headlines of the month:
NJ university holds vigil for student who committed suicide after gay sex tryst went online
NEW BRUNSWICK, N.J. - Rutgers University held a silent vigil Sunday night to remember a student who committed suicide after his sexual encounter with a man in his dormitory room was secretly streamed online.

Until next time: Play Safe in Cyberspace
For more information on my Back Tracker novels, please visit my website

For an inside look at how I weave news headlines into my novels visit my blog

Monday, October 25, 2010

"I’ve never held a gun, but I still shoot people."

I'd like to welcome Canadian thriller author Russell Brooks to Criminal Minds at Work. As soon as I read the title of Russell's post, I knew it would be perfect for this blog. He's got the same warped sense of humor as the rest of us. Plus he's holding a contest. Russell, take it away! ~Cheryl

A question that I often get about Pandora’s Succession was how I managed to be so detailed about the guns that were used throughout the story. I can relate. I’ve never owned a gun, or fired one for that matter. I tried to get my brother to hook me up since he’s in the Canadian army, but he reminded me that I’d need a permit. After all, this is Canada. However, I knew that it was important to be as descriptive as possible when it came to writing about weapons because I knew that my audience would be composed of current and former military officers, government agents and even police officers. Contrary to popular belief, readers are the most important critics, not book reviewers. You want proof? How many times have critics blasted a movie that you enjoyed. In fact, despite what the critics said, you still recommended it to your friends, correct? So I knew that being as accurate about sidearms or weapons was important if I expected to win back readers for future novels.

As we know, there are several varieties of guns—the Ruger, the Hechler and Koch, the Magnum, and many more. So why was it important for my protagonist, Ridley Fox, to use the Hechler and Koch rather than a Ruger? Why not have Fox use any gun? They’re all the same, right? Wrong. Allow me to let you in on a secret. In a previous draft, Fox used a Ruger in the opening chapter until a buddy of mine—who knows more about guns than I do—advised me that the Ruger would be too large a sidearm for Fox to use—and that he’d never be able to conceal it in the seat of his pants as described in the novel. He suggested that Fox use the Heckler and Koch (HK) instead because it is lighter, smaller, and yields a more powerful punch than the Ruger. I verified the info that he sent me and saw that he was right. I thanked him immediately and replaced Fox’s weapon.

Another matter of importance was that Fox used a noise suppressor—or silencer—in some situations. It was equally important to know that I’d need to arm Fox with a weapon where one can attach a noise suppressor—because not all sidearms accommodate one. In addition the sidearm would have to be small enough for him to conceal. The HK, thankfully, was still the perfect weapon for Fox.

Furthermore, since this is an international thriller, one must expect that in different areas of the world, people would be using different kind of guns. For example, when Fox was in Darfur confronting the Janjaweed, Fox noticed that they were using Chinese-made assault rifles. I read in the news about the immorality of China selling weapons to Sudan since they were being used against innocent Darfurians. Although the situation in Darfur has changed, one could expect the same weapons to still be present in that region.

As illustrated, although I’m not a big gun enthusiast or firearms expert, I had no choice but to learn as much as I can about guns in order to add to the realism of the story. By the way, when I mentioned earlier that I wanted my brother to hook me up with a gun, it was simply for the experience of holding one. That way I can be more descriptive when I write. I’d never think of shooting anyone that gets in my way. Ridley can do that for me.

PS. Thanks Jimmy G. for helping me out again.

I’d like to thank bestselling author, Cheryl Kaye Tardif, for hosting me during this tour.

(You're very welcome, Russell.)

Everyone that leaves a comment with their email address (in the body of your message) will win an autographed book cover. After the blog tour, 10 commentors from all of the blogs will be drawn to win free autographed ebook copies of Pandora's Succession.

Pandora's Succession is available at and  

You can learn more about Russell at:

Saturday, October 23, 2010

The Black Dahlia and Me

When I was a kid, my mom subscribed to three newspapers, one was the Daily News, the Harold and probably the L.A. Times. The Daily News was on the lurid side with headlines about movie stars and gruesome murders. My meek and mild mom read every paper from start to finish.

We lived in Los Angeles near Glendale in a quiet neighborhood. Every Friday night we went to the movies and always saw a double feature, a good movie and a B movie which quite often was about gangsters. We paid our money so we always stayed until the end.

There were lots of good radio shows too and my favorites were Inner Sanctum and other spooky shows.

When I was 14 and my sister 9, we had a small Philco radio that we listened to and for some reason at night we could hear police calls on it. We weren't supposed to, but of course we did anyway.

One night while we were listening, the L.A.P.D. discovered a female body that was cut in half in a vacant lot. The officers on the radio were so excited they described what they'd found in great and gruesome detail.

Sis and I finally fell asleep. During the night, I felt something on the bed. I reached down and touched--it was a leg! I screamed. Surely this was another part of that poor murdered woman, which meant the murderer must be in my room....

Mom came in and turned on the light. I didn't open my eyes for fear of seeing a bloody mess.

"What on earth is the matter in here?" she asked.

Still with my eyes shut tight, I said, "There's a leg on my bed."

"Yes, and it's attached to your sister."

Sis had probably had a nightmare and climbed onto my bed.

Mom shook her head. "You've been listening to police calls again, haven't you?"

I don't remember what our punishment was, but I also don't remember listening to any more police calls.

I can remember that night so plainly.

Many years later I attended an Edgar ceremony where I met the man who believes his father was the one who killed the Black Dahlia. I've read his book and other accounts of the investigation into the murder of the woman they called the Black Dahlia. I don't remember much about any of that, but I'll never forget the night they found her body.


Tuesday, October 19, 2010

Flickering Justice - Charleston Prison 1927

The guilt or innocence of Nicola Sacco and Bartolomeo Vanzetti, two Italian immigrant anarchists, was hotly debated right up until the switch was thrown on the men strapped into the electric chair at Charleston Prison. Convicted of two murders during a 1920 armed robbery Sacco, a cobbler and Vanzetti, a fish-peddler, believed they were being sentenced more for their politcal beliefs than for any crime. Protests over their treatment was worldwide with notables such as Albert Einstein and George Bernard Shaw registering their doubts over the guilty verdict.

Angry dissenters gathered outside the prison on the Italians' last night. Author Katherine Anne Porter wrote: "At midnight the light winked off, winked on and off again, and my blood chills remembering it even now - I do not remember how often, but we were told that the extinction of this light corresponded to the number of charges sent through the bodies."

Dispute over the fairness of the trial and the impartiality of the judge is still discussed among historians.

Sunday, October 17, 2010

It's football season...let's kill someone!

Hello fellow criminal minds...

I don't have to tell you (or maybe I do?) that it's FOOTBALL season, and as such it may be the perfect backdrop to... MURDER! Hey, think about it... a sport that already involves plenty of violence, competition is paramount, professional and petty jealousy abounds... there's drugs, heavy partying, sex... remember those two athletes that pulled guns on each other in the locker room? Professional sports are fertile ground for revenge or maybe just getting rid of the competition. How about somebody faking an injury in order to spend time with a teammate's or rival's wife or girlfriend? How about a family member that's jealous of a sibling's, cousin's, or even child's success? Oh man, the list goes on and on. Mankind is a flawed ideal, a runaway train loaded with explosives just waiting to hit that schoolbus stalled on the tracks ahead. Our job is to make the trip as exciting, interesting, and enjoyable for our readers as possible! So go ahead, tackle a sports crime and you might just make a GO_O_O_O_OAL!!!

Saturday, October 16, 2010

Fun with the Police Blotter

These are entries in a police blotter for a group of local newspapers. The website is I found some of them hilarious.

A Garfield Street man reported that someone smeared grapes on his vehicle, damaging the paint.

Grapes? Really? You couldn’t think of something more inventive than produce?

Deputies reportedly arrested a driver on Girdle Road when they found him asleep in his vehicle, which was located in a ditch.

Would they have let him sleep if he’d been on the side of the road instead?

A Broadway resident called to say her dog had locked her out of her running car. You can’t make this stuff up.

Sheriffs investigated a report of a stolen vehicle on Clinton Street. The subject reported that he went to warm up the car and when he returned to it, the vehicle was gone. It was eventually recovered in Buffalo.

Dude, two words: remote starter.

A Lancaster business owner reported that a caller ordered food and he could hear laughing in the background. When the owner called back to verify the order, another person answered the phone and threatened to burn down the business. An investigation revealed that a 12-year-old boy made the initial call and his friend answered the return call.

Whatever happened to asking if your refrigerator was running?

An auto shop owner complained that 200 brake shoe cores, which were

stored in a bin in the parking lot behind the building, were taken.

People will truly steal anything.

I hope you enjoyed these fun police blotter entries.

Tuesday, October 12, 2010

E-book Evolution

First, they were obscure and unattainable. I read somewhere that the biggest selling e-book of 2006 sold 60 copies. Wow.
Then they were romances, mostly erotic, possibly due to the fact that the reader did not have to take a stack of books with heaving bosoms on the cover to the register and claim them as hers. Many of those were not very good, and some readers and writers are still suffering from that mindset: e-book = trash.
But the idea did not go away. Readers like the idea of books on tap in endless supply, and publishers are starting to catch on. Yesterday I bought new releases from two author/friends offered from Day One in both e-book and print form. Yay!
There are still problems, of course. E-publishers don't really want to play nicely with each other. Protection from piracy is weak (although one person I heard speak recently who has spent years in publishing reminded us, "We're been experiencing book piracy for centuries. We call it a library.")Still, the e-book is here to stay, and anyone in publishing who ignores it does so at his or her peril.
The biggest problem for me as an author is promotion. The Internet is such an ocean, and one book such a tiny drop, that it is hard to get noticed. Those who already are well known will be found, of course. All a reader has to do is type in a name.
But what if your name is no household word?
I've heard there is a new company forming that will address the problems of lesser and unknown authors who want to publish in e-book format. When I know the details, I will share them here. Who couldn't use some help with preparing, publishing, and promoting that next book?

Monday, October 11, 2010

Commiting Murder on Your Writing Career

Why would anyone do that?

A good question, but lately I've been reading what some editors and publishers have been saying about some of their authors.

Why would anyone post on the Internet where anyone can see that they aren't satisfied with his or her small press publisher and are just biding time until they can find a New York publisher? Even if that were someone's goal--proclaiming it where the small press publisher can read it, is just plain dumb.

If the small press publisher also e-publishes the author's book, why on earth would the author say I don't care about e-books I'm never going to make any money that way anyway? Believe it or not, that was written right on someone's blog where all could see.

Why would an author say they aren't going to waste their time with social networking to promote their book? Yep, I've actually heard people say that one.

Why would an author continually email their publisher asking when their book is going to come out? Once is enough. If you've been around the publishing industry very long, especially working with small presses, you know that often the targeted date for the publication of a book may be pushed back for one reason or another.

Personally, I think the less you bug your publisher the better. The more you make the publisher take time away from the job of publishing, the less likely that book will come out on time.

When an author is hard to work with, the word gets out. The publishing world is not all that big. Especially now with the Internet and e-mail, it's much too easy for publishers to share which authors are a pain to work with.

Just something to think about--be careful, don't murder your own writing career.


Saturday, October 09, 2010

Granta names 'best young Spanish-language novelists'

Extending its celebrated selections of rising literary stars into the Spanish-speaking world, journal tips 22 young authors for the future

The future Ian McEwans and Salman Rushdies of the Spanish-language literary world have been named by Granta magazine in a list of the best young Spanish-language authors writing today.
From Argentinian author Federico Falco to Chilean poet and novelist Alejandro Zambra and Spain's Pablo Gutiérrez, the literary magazine unveiled the 22 writers to make it into its list of the best of young Spanish-language novelists in Madrid this morning. Running since 1983, when the literary magazine included Julian Barnes, Martin Amis, McEwan and Rushdie in its list of the best of young British novelists, Granta's "best of young novelists" series has tipped a host of future writers for stardom, from Edwidge Danticat to Jonathan Franzen, but has never looked outside America and the UK before.
A panel of judges including acclaimed Argentinian film director and writer Edgardo Cozarinsky, award-winning novelist Francisco Goldman and journalist Isabel Hilton, along with the Spanish edition of Granta's editors Aurelio Major and Valerie Miles, chose the Spanish-language writers, who also include Peruvian short story writer Carlos Yushimito del Valle, currently finishing his first novel, and Argentinian poet and short story writer Matías Néspolo, whose first novel, Siete maneras de matar a un gato (Seven Ways to Kill a Cat), is due out in English from Harvill Secker.
"From Borges to Bolano, the Spanish language has given us some of the most beloved writers of the 20th and 21st centuries," said Granta. "But as the reach of Spanish-language culture extends far beyond Spain and Latin America, and the US tilts towards a majority Hispanic population, it is time to ask who is next in this exciting tradition."
Granta said that fiction from the 22 authors, which will feature in the new editions of Granta and Granta en español next month, would give readers "an unprecedented insight into the world of Spanish letters". Of the writers selected, eight come from Argentina, six from Spain, two each from Peru and Chile, and one from Mexico, Colombia, Bolivia and Uruguay. Five of the 22 writers are female.
Granta's best of young Spanish novelists:
Carlos Yushimito del Valle
Matías Néspolo
Alberto Olmos
Antonio Ortuño
Andrés Felipe Solano
Santiago Roncagliolo
Elvira Navarro
Andrés Neuman
Patricio Pron
Carlos Labbé
Oliverio Coelho
Rodrigo Hasbún
Sònia Hernández
Andrés Ressia Colino
Samanta Schweblin
Pola Oloixarac
Javier Montes
Federico Falco
Pablo Gutiérrez
Andrés Barba
Alejandro Zambra
Lucía Puenzo © Guardian News and Media Limited 2010

Allan Pinkerton Detective

What a find! At a garage sale this morning I bought a 1880 edition of Professional Thieves and the Detective by Allan Pinkerton - founder of the famous Pinkerton's Detective Agency. The logo of the open eye and the motto 'We Never Sleep' is pretty much rubbed off and the book is in very rough shape.

Nevertheless - I am THRILLED!

Here's a sample of the writing. This is the first sentence of the opening paragraph Chapter VII.
"Several days subsequent to the occurrence of the events related in the preceding chapter, while Root was passing from the lath-mill, in which, for a short time, he had been employed, attending to and feeding a rapacious circular saw, and going toward his home, the wearisome labors of the day well ended, he encountered Big Bill, sitting on a lumber pile, alone, his face buried despondently in his hands, and once more shaking painfully with the ague."

Isn't that ... something!

Saturday, October 02, 2010

How to Organize a Virtual Book Tour (VBT) - Part 3

Organizing a virtual book tour (VBT) may seem intimidating, but I assure you that once you do one, you'll discover it's not very hard. It just takes time and good organization. Read Part 1 and Part 2 (links are on my VBT page) before proceeding to the following steps.

Part 3:
The day before each virtual stop:
·       Send out a reminder to your host and ask them to post that night. Make sure they have book cover jpgs, your photo and anything else they might need.
The morning of each stop:
·       Confirm that your host has posted your content. Check the site. Copy the full URL that leads directly to your post. The home page will change and you want your links to always lead to the exact page that the host has created just for your content.
·       Change the home page URL on your schedule to the exact page link. This is how you really leverage yourself. Now when someone stumbles across your schedule and clicks on the link, they’ll be directed to your post, not your host’s ever-changing home page.
·       Write about the day’s stop(s) and post it everywhere. Copy the first paragraph or two of the interview or article and use that for your intro. If you have multiple stops, list them with direct links. Don’t forget to post to your Amazon blog, MySpace blog and MySpace bulletin. The latter goes out to all your MySpace friends. Make sure you have some! And definitely send announcements out on Twitter.
·       Check your host site frequently throughout the day for comments and answer any questions directly on your host site. Do this every other day afterward for about a week. Offer to write a possible follow-up article, depending on what you posted originally.
·       Assess the success of your virtual book tour. Set up NovelRank, TitleZ and/or Charteous to monitor your book’s Amazon sales rank throughout the VBT. You should see some lower ranks (lower is better!) during your blog tour, particularly if you have a contest or incentive that inspires more sales of your book. Be creative and have fun!
Authors now comprehend the full potential that blog tours have to offer and how they benefit everyone involved. You could sign books at a bookstore for three hours plus driving (or flying) time and reach a few hundred people yet sell only a dozen copies, or you could organize a VBT and promote to millions of people worldwide.

Virtual book tours take time, patience, organization and research, but as I have discovered, they are definitely worthwhile. You have nothing to lose and everything to gain. So why not start today? You have the entire world at your fingertips!

Thank you to everyone for dropping by this blog and visiting me on my Cherish the Romance Virtual Book Tour. Lancelot's Lady is available in ebook edition at KoboBooks, Amazon's Kindle Store, Smashwords and other ebook retailers. Help me celebrate by picking up a copy today and "Cherish the romance..."

Lancelot's Lady ~ A Bahamas holiday from dying billionaire JT Lance, a man with a dark secret, leads palliative nurse Rhianna McLeod to Jonathan, a man with his own troubled past, and Rhianna finds herself drawn to the handsome recluse, while unbeknownst to her, someone with a horrific plan is hunting her down.

You can learn more about Lancelot's Lady and Cherish D'Angelo (aka Cheryl Kaye Tardif) at and

Prizes & Giveaways: Follow Cherish from September 27 to October 10 on her Cherish the Romance Virtual Book Tour and win prizes.

Leave a comment here, with email address, to be entered into the prize draws. You're guaranteed to receive at least 1 free ebook just for doing so. Plus you'll be entered to win a Kobo ereader. Winners will be announced after October 10th.

Friday, October 01, 2010

10 Shows For The Criminal Mind

There are many television shows that follow the lives of detectives and investigators who work on various crime cases. While some of the shows are summaries of real-life events and others are fiction,  they are all definitely intriguing. The following are 10 shows that will keep criminal minds entertained:

Snapped is an American television crime series that airs on Oxygen that recalls the real life events of women who have committed or attempted to commit murder. Each episode details the events that occurred and includes clips of the trials, interviews with people that were involved in the case (family, law enforcement, attorneys, etc) and sometimes the accused themselves. The episodes end with the verdict and sentence of the case and an updated summary of where each defendant stands.

Cold Case Files  is a documentary style series that airs on A & E that follows the investigations of cases that were never solved and have been reopened many years later. Referred to as “cold cases” by detectives, these cases have been opened again because of emerging technological advances in forensics, recent breakthroughs in the case, or witnesses who come forward years later. The episodes of this show have been known to be used by law enforcement agencies across the country for training purposes.

Forensic Files is a documentary type show that airs on Trutv and shows how forensic science is used to solve crimes. The show follows one case per episode, from the initial investigation to the legal resolution, with re-enactments and in some cases, name changes for privacy. The show also features medical examiners, coroners, and forensic detectives and specialists involved with the case. Clips of their interviews are shown. Some of the best and most well-known forensic analysts in the country have appeared on the show.

America’s Most Wanted  is an American television show that airs on Fox and is meant to assist law enforcement in capturing fugitives. Many of the fugitives, who are wanted for murder, rape, kidnapping, child molestation, armed robber, and terrorism, and white collar crimes, are also on the FBI’s Most Wanted lists. The show has been fairly successful; over 1,100 people have been captured as a result of their story being aired.

48 Hours Mystery airs on CBS and presents true crime documentaries and mysteries. The show does not use a host. Rather, it is narrated by the reporter who was assigned the story and is also known to report on special cases such as past or current shocking events that made media headlines. This program has been quite popular and has received over 20 Emmy awards.

Law & Order  is a police and law related drama series that is often based on real events that have made headline news. The show is separated into two parts: the investigation of the crime and the capture of the suspect, followed by the prosecution in the second part. The trial is usually shown from the prosecution’s point of view. At the time of its cancellation, Law & Order was known as the longest running crime drama on American prime time television.

The Closer  is an American crime drama series that originally aired on TNT. The show centers around a police detective who leads teams that are assigned to deal with high profile murder cases. Each episode portrays the aspects of Los Angeles culture as it interacts with law enforcement and highlights issues of public policy, honor, faith, and government responsibility.

CSI is an American drama television series that follows crime scene techs who find the evidence to solve brutal murders. Many episodes feature lengthy scenes that focus on technical work, experiments, and tests that usually involve high-tech technology and gadgets that don’t exist. The series is also known for using unusual, close-up camera angles, and graphic and sometimes gory portrayals of murders.

NCIS is a drama television series that premiered on CBS that revolves around a fictional team of agents from the Naval Criminal Investigative Service. This team conducts investigations involving the Marine Corps and the US Navy and is often assigned to high profile cases including terroristic threats, deaths, kidnappings and bomb situations.

Bones is a crime drama series that premiered on Fox and is based on forensic anthropology. The show focuses on cases concerning the human remains found by FBI detectives and given to a forensic anthropologist for analyzing. The show is based loosely on the life of Kathy Reichs, who is a forensic anthropologist and also produces the show.


Shared by Jay Smith  of the Criminal Justice University. This piece first appeared on their Web site  before Jay offered to let Maryann Miller post it here.

Monday, September 27, 2010

Create a Corpse winner debuts in Lancelot's Lady

Today is LAUNCH DAY for my contemporary romantic suspense Lancelot's Lady and I'm celebrating by throwing a huge all-day party at various blogs, including this one, and lots of prizes (Kobo ereader giveaway!) will be awarded as I love a good contest--especially my own "Create a Corpse Contest".

Just over a year ago, I held my second "Create a Corpse Contest". People sent in names of someone they wanted me to kill off in a new novel. Some of the names were fictitious, some were real. There was a mix of suggestions from ex-husbands to boyfriends to parents and even children. I have no idea of the story behind the winning name, Winston Chambers. Perhaps I'll contact the winner of that contest, Wally Rabbani, and ask him. :-)

Winston Chambers makes his debut in Lancelot's Lady, and I have to tell you, I really enjoyed creating his character. In many ways, I think he created himself. When I see his name I can now picture him, overweight, balding, sweating and plotting. This evil man has terrible things planned for the lovely Rhianna, if only he can get his slimy hands on her.

Winston puts the suspense in Lancelot's Lady. Perhaps in a future post during my Cherish the Romance Virtual Book Tour, I'll give you an excerpt featuring Winston Chambers, private investigator, blackmailer and sadist. Follow me on my tour!

Lancelot's Lady is available at Amazon's Kindle Store and on Smashwords. It'll soon be available at other ebook retailers. Pick up a copy and get to know Winston Chambers more thoroughly.

Be sure to check out my other stops today in my Cherish the Romance Virtual Launch Party for many chances to win great prizes.

Prizes & Giveaways: For a chance to win some great prizes, make sure you leave a comment here with your email address. Leave a comment here, with email address, to be entered into the prize draws. You're guaranteed to receive at least 1 free ebook just for doing so. Plus you'll be entered to win a Kobo ereader. Winners will be announced after October 10th.You're guaranteed to receive 1 free ebook just for doing so. Some prizes will be drawn, while others (Divine Intervention ebook) will be given to EVERY commenter today. Let me know what you think about my Create a Corpse Contest, Winston Chambers or anything else. :-)

Special prizes: Purchase Lancelot's Lady today from KoboBooks, Amazon's Kindle Store, or Smashwords and email me with your receipt as proof of purchase and you'll be entered into another draw for signed paperback copies of Divine Intervention. Two copies will be awarded.

Cherish D'Angelo
(aka Cheryl Kaye Tardif)