Sunday, August 29, 2010


I figure it never hurts to blog about something that's going on right now.

Having never embedded a video I hope the above works.
I saw Inception with my son a week ago. He's an aspiring filmmaker and is into the odder movies. And so am I so it's fun that I can see these movies with him.
Inception stars Leonardo DiCaprio. He's someone who can go into other people's dreams. It's more complicated than that, but let's say there are some cons involved.
It's a movie you have to pay attention to or else you will miss something.
The video above made me laugh, that's why I shared it

So what does this have to do with crime?
Some of my best ideas come from dreams. Others come from me saying, "Well, how would I have done that movie/book/show?"
Or how can I kill someone using the premise of this movie? Corpse Whisperer was me twisting the show Tru Calling to fit what I wanted to happen.
My youngest son often says he wishes he could read my mind. I say really? You know how twisted I can be. Why would you want to be immersed in that? He doesn't usually have an answer.

So, if you've ever wondered where a writer got their idea? Find out what movie they saw right before they wrote it.

Wednesday, August 25, 2010

Speaking of Promotion Events

I wrote about this once before, but thought I'd add just a bit to my previous post.

Bookstore signings are not my favorites unless I can give a talk, either about the inspiration for the book I'm promoting, or something about writing. Standing by a table with my books, trying to get people's attention who are actively trying to avoid eye-contact is not my idea of fun.

I do enjoy craft fairs because a lot of the people who attend have never seen a "real live author" and it often surprises them to know I actually wrote the books I've got displayed on my table. (I've gone to enough of those that I've purchased my own tent and folding table.)

Big mystery conventions are fun, but unless you're a well-known writer, book sales won't come anywhere near paying for what it cost to go. You will have fun though and it is tax deductible.

Smaller conventions are fun because you really get to know the mystery fans. My favorite is Mayhem in the Midlands.

Speaking in a library is always fun and if they let you sell your books, usually you'll do well.

This year I've been asked to speak to a group of retired women and after that to a Lion's Club. Another fun group is Rotary.

For me, what works best is to give some kind of humorous talk that has something to do with your books. If you make them laugh, you'll sell books.

Those are the things I like to do.


Thursday, August 19, 2010



Criminal motives: murderous, malevolent, convoluted. Matters of the heart, matters of sanity, money matters. In real life, illicit drugs are the driving force behind most crime.


Crimes are linked to their illicit use, illicit dealing, and illicit production. The addict who is seeking funds for a fix will lie, coerce, threaten, steal, kill. The dealer trying to collect what’s owed will torture, blackmail, harass, kill. Gangs protecting their business turf will brandish weapons in broad daylight on a busy downtown street and kill. Robbery, murder, prostitution, and gun play.

Selling drugs to the 7-year-old boy and pimping the 12-year-old girl. Breaking legs. Digging graves. Corrupting the business world, cyberspace, the justice system. Killing.

“Every kilo of cocaine sold in Canada has passed through the hands of a Hells Angel,” I learned at an RCMP presentation on drugs and gangs. Don’t underestimate the power of these people. You don’t have to be an addict, a dealer, a homeless person, a revver of a Harley to fall under their influence. You have to be human—with a weakness.

Even the purist of love for someone or something can make you vulnerable—perhaps your child has a problem or your lover a debt. Maybe there’s an erstwhile goal you want to achieve, an object you want to possess, a job you want to have, an enemy you wish would disappear. Perhaps you’re guilty of a sin you wish to keep hidden. Perhaps you’re lonely, sad, sick, or depressed. Maybe you need to belong to a band of brothers. Perhaps you crave excitement.

Biker gangs and other organized crime have the money to solve your problems and make your dreams come true. They have the influence, the contacts, the power…the bullets. And then…you owe them....

And…they will collect….

If you doubt the power of organized criminals, these are just a few of the headline stories for the single month of August 2010 in the single country of Canada. (with the exception of the Italian snake story.)

TORONTO - Outfitted with an Uzi, duct tape, plastic ties, rope and balaclavas, the thugs were on the way to kidnap someone. The intended target -- police won't say who the victim is or where he lives -- is safe, Peel Det.-Sgt. Kieran O'Connor said Thursday.
The investigation shut down a group that imported, manufactured and sold illicit drugs on the streets.

WINNIPEG - A former member of the Manitoba Hells Angels biker gang pleaded guilty in court Wednesday to manslaughter.
Billy Bowden, 35, reached a plea agreement with the Crown that sees him sentenced to four years for the Nov. 18, 2007, stabbing death of 24-year-old Jeff Engen.
Engen died after being stabbed several times in the chest during a fight.

Hells Angel gunned down in Vancouver
VANCOUVER – A member East Vancouver's Hells Angels was shot and killed at his house near city hall early Thursday.

And…they are violent…

LONDON, Ont. — Two people are facing numerous drug and gun charges after a paintball gun was fired at a car on Friday, police say.
A car, driving in London's east end at about 3:30 p.m., noticed another vehicle drove by and one of its occupants armed with what appeared to be a long gun. He then heard something strike his car.
When officers found the suspect vehicle, they also found a paintball gun, 8 grams of crack and $320 worth of oxycontin.

Two men face a variety of charges after a stolen car was pulled over and Edmonton police found what they describe as explosive devices in the car and on one of the suspects. Police said Wednesday that one man, 39, has been charged with possession of stolen property, possession of drugs for the purpose of trafficking…etc.

Last Friday RCMP raided a home just north of Stony Plain. They found 5,200 grams of hash valued at $78,000 and 850 grams of marijuana valued at $8,500. Police also found a cache of ammunition and weapons including:
a loaded .22 calibre pistol a loaded IMI (Israel Military Industries) Galil 7.62mm semi
automatic assault rifle
a mini 14 .223 calibre assault rifle
an Ithica 12 gauge pump action shot gun
a Winchester 30-30 rifle
oversized magazines to fit both of the assault rifles
A 49-year-old Stony Plain man faces 21 counts related to firearms offences, in addition to possession of marijuana and possession of hash for the purpose of trafficking.

And they are unpredictable and innovative…

ROME - Italian police seized a rare albino python in Rome on Wednesday in a raid on a group of drug traffickers who used the snake to guard cocaine and intimidate customers who owed them money.

Police in southeastern B.C. have raided a marijuana grow operation that was apparently guarded by black bears.

TORONTO - A Colombian man is behind bars after allegedly trying to smuggle almost 2 kilograms of cocaine in his underwear through Toronto's Pearson International Airport.

And…the top dogs are wealthy…

Seized bikers' den had a mortgage

WINNIPEG - The Hells Angels' Winnipeg clubhouse was a place that hosted barbecues and Ultimate Fighting Championship viewing parties, but was also allegedly a hub of criminal activity that was funded by drug money, according to court documents prepared for the home's seizure last week.

Police allege the $927 monthly mortgage payments were made from "...profits from drug trafficking, drug taxes and the payment of dues by members of the Hells Angels and payment of dues and drug taxes by members of the Zig-Zag Crew or other associates..."

My Back Tracker series and my parallel novel, Noraebang, explore this violent, explosive, engaging world of bikers and drugs. They also highlight the bravery, intelligence, personalities, and tenacity of the men and women thwarting these gangsters.

Until next time, dear writers—may YOUR crime always pay…

Agent and publishing rights to the Back Tracker series, the novel "Noraebang"
and the 'tween crime novel, "Aerdrie" are available. More info, including excerpts at

Eileen Schuh's first published novel, "Shrodinger's Cat" will be released by Wolfsinger Publications in both print and ebook formats in 2011.

Wednesday, August 18, 2010

Pathetic Moments in Marketing

We know we have great criminal minds. We believe we have writing talent. But who told us we had to understand marketing, selling through, contracts, and returns?
I thought it might be interesting to hear authors' stories concerning their WORST marketing/promotional/sales idea. Be brave: tell us all the sordid details.
Here's mine.
Early on, as I looked for ways to sell my historical novel, I read advice that said authors should look for non-traditional places to offer their books. "Don't just contact bookstores," the advice ran. "Look for places where people who like what you write congregate."
I looked. I pondered. And I discovered Renaissance fairs.
What a great idea! Hundreds, maybe thousands, of history lovers would walk by and see my book. Surrounded by all that pageantry and ambiance, how could they resist?
I contacted several fair organizers. Most ignored me completely. I was a little miffed. They could have a real historical writer on the grounds, and they passed on the offer? One, however, was quite excited to have me attend. The fair was in Florida, I'm in Michigan. All right, it's a road trip.
Then she asked what my costume looked like. My costume? "Oh, everyone has to be in costume," she said. Hmmm. Okay, a long skirt, a colorful blouse, and slippers. Instant costume. Of course my hair is chopped shorter than any Renaissance boy's, and I can't operate without glasses, but it will have to do.
What followed was a series of mini-disasters. My husband ended up unable to go with me, so I drove to Florida alone. The woman who booked my appearance broke her foot the day before I arrived and was so stressed I feared that a heart attack would follow. And of course, it rained all the first morning. Fair staff hurriedly moved my table into a nearby shelter where I was obscured by racks of T-shirts and souvenir swords.
Worst of all, I learned what might be obvious to others. People do not attend Renaissance fairs to buy books and then carry them around for the rest of the day. They prefer to walk around gnawing on huge turkey legs, buy cheaply made maiden wreaths, and watch hired actors strut, preen, and entertain. Most people walked by me without a glance. A few were kind enough to take a bookmark, one of which I later saw in the bathroom trash basket. One person in two days bought a book.
I learned from the experience, so it was not a total loss. Now I think before committing myself to an event. What a writer wants is sales (first choice) or exposure to readers (also good). She does not want to compete with jugglers, belly dancers, or anything else that is ten times more colorful than she is. Oh, and always bring along a garbage bag. When it rains, those pretty book covers can get ruined really quickly.
Now it's someone else's turn. What's your worst marketing/promotion/sales decision?

Sunday, August 15, 2010

1000 Ways to Die

Or how I get ideas. Or how twisted I am. However you want to look at it.
I've been mulling this blog post over for about two weeks. Ever since I saw the show 1,000 Ways to Die on Spike TV.
The ways of dying range from very tragic to almost funny. Some I have trouble believing.
As I am watching the show, I'm thinking that some of these ways could also be murder and be staged to look like accidents.
This never brings the warm and fuzzy feelings to my husband. He's safe. Really, he is.
One person died because they yanked a fish out of the water and it flew into her mouth. It jammed in there and the scaled kept catching so she couldn't pull it out. She choked to death.
Now imagine a wife is so sick of her husband and he's just brought home a fresh fish. You can fill in the rest.
This is how we writers think.  We take everyday situations and twist them for our own use.
I don't know about other writers, but I find I often have to bite my tongue in conversation, especially with people who don't know me.
So have you read about an odd way that someone died?

Wednesday, August 04, 2010

When Murder and Mayhem Occurs Close to Home

A murder was committed by someone our family knew, was a woman who belonged to a church couples club my parents had belonged to for years. I really can't remember how old I was--too young to have heard all the details, but old enough to eavesdrop when my mother and her friends talked about it.

This woman, who I only remember as being a nice lady like all the rest of the female members of this group, had taken an axe and buried it in her husband's skull while he slept on the couch. The women talked about how boring this man was and said they weren't at all surprised by what she'd done. Later though, I learned the woman was mentally ill and she was committed to a state hospital for the criminally insane for her crime.

My mother loved to read about lurid crimes in the newspapers (we got three when I was growing up) which was surprising since she was such a quiet, prim and proper wife. I think that this strange hobby of hers probably rubbed off on me.

When I was a pre-teen, the husband of the young woman who lived across the street, turned out to be an imposter, pretending to be a Naval officer, and her family home was descended upon by all law enforcement and military types. We turned off the lights and peeked out the windows to watch as the hillsides were combed by flashlight carrying searchers. I can't remember how it all turned out.

The first home my husband and I owned was in a neighborhood filled with police officers and their families. Once we were at a party at one of these men's homes--a poker party--which happened to be against the law at the time. Several other neighbors and other law enforcement officers attended along with their wives.

One of the men came from a neighboring town and while he was there someone murdered his wife. Of course he was the first suspect. He had lots of witnesses to testify to his whereabouts during the time the murder took place. As it turned out, it was random killing by an escaped mental patient.

A horribly brutal murder against a teenaged couple happened on a high school ground at night. I won't go into details, but three teenaged boys were eventually charged with the crime. This murder devastated the families of the murdered couple and the families of the boys who committed the crime. I didn't know any of them, but knew others who did.

One of the weirdest crimes happened two doors up the highway from us. The homes here are all on nearly two acre lots, so we're not that close. The family in question were recluses, an elderly mom, a daughter and two sons. We seldom saw any of them, and often wondered if the old woman was still alive.

A detective came to our house to ask if we'd seen the mother lately. Of course we hadn't. To make a long story short, she'd passed away. Her adult children (in their 60s) had rolled her up in a rug and buried her in the back yard. Nothing might have come of it except they continued to cash her state retirement check. The state sent the sheriff to check up on the woman, but no one would open the door.

What about you? Any murder or mayhem occur close to you?


Tuesday, August 03, 2010

Guest Post: Researching the Crime with Robin Cain

Today's guest blogger is Robin Pope, author of When Dreams Bleed, and she's discussing the nitty-gritty details that most crime authors have learned to love, those sometimes tiny references that make a work believable and 'real', found via one method--RESEARCH. ~ Cheryl Kaye Tardif

“Where in the world did you come up with this stuff?”

This is a question I’ve been asked more than once by people who’ve read my book, WHEN DREAMS BLEED. A brutalized body washed up on the shores of a lake in Washington and a gruesome suicide-by-firearm are just not the sort of things on which a ‘middle-aged, middle-America, law abiding woman’ like me would normally have any insights. So, where in the world do I – or any author of crime-based novels – come up with this stuff?

Research, research and more research.

Writing a crime story requires great attention to detail – particularly if the crime is a figment of the writer’s imagination. It’s not an easy undertaking to create motivation, details, plausible events and the ensuing investigation. An author must think like a criminal or a cop and be convincing enough to ensure that the reader will ‘believe’. Since most authors don’t have firsthand knowledge of crime, creating a crime scene (particularly in the case of a homicide) requires hours and hours of research.

Even though as it was mentioned here in a previous blog that crimes in real life, more often than not, lack real justification, readers still like to understand the rationale, what led the criminals to do what they did and how it all happened. Readers like to get into the minds of criminals. That’s what makes a good story. No one wants to hear that some guy buried a knife in his wife simply because she read the Sunday paper first or that someone killed their neighbor over a badly trimmed tree. Though this is the stuff of real life, the fact of the matter is that engaging stories need to be far more complex.

Want to know about blood spatter patterns? What kinds of bugs infest a body a few days after death? The fragments that are left behind by certain bullets? The criminal charges passed down in a certain city for negligent homicide? One doesn’t need a degree in forensic science or contacts in criminal law to ascertain these facts. All this information is within anyone’s reach as long as they have the time, inclination and research skills.

The internet has opened the doors to a wealth of information. With a few clicks of a mouse, a writer can pull up sample crime scene photos ( or get information on how DNA typing is done ( There are even sites out there that make searching easier. According to the info on its website, has ‘compiled the best crime/ law enforcement sites and categorized topics so one doesn’t have to sort through hundreds of sites to find the one that fits the bill’.

No, this ‘middle-aged, middle-America, law-abiding woman’ doesn’t have any first-hand knowledge about murder or suicide, but, like any good author, I’ve done my research. Every fact, event, character and motivation in WHEN DREAMS BLEED is a figment of my imagination, but they were all based on something I found somewhere during my research.

Now – all you authors who write stories on vampires – what I want to know is, “Where in the world did you come up with this stuff????”

© 2010 Robin Cain

Robin Cain lives in Scottsdale, Arizona with her husband, daughter, three dogs, three horses and donkey. As a novelist and regular contributing writer for an online publication, she spends her days searching for the perfect words to amuse, enlighten and touch her readers. By reading her work, you’ve not only helped make her dreams come true, but others as well.

Robin Cain's website

Robin Cain's Blog

Monday, August 02, 2010

MysterEbooks This Week

Here is the list of ebooks featured on this week:

Title: L.A. HEAT

Author: P.A. Brown

Genre: Police Procedural w gay characters

Setting: Los Angeles



Author: Stacy Juba

Genre: Mystery/Romantic Suspense

Setting: New England


Author: Radine Trees Nehring

Genre: Mystery/senior citizen detectives

Setting: The story opens on the (real) A&M Railroad historic excursion train operating between towns in Northwest Arkansas, unfolds in the 1809 Arkansas River town of Van Buren, moves to Kansas City, and then back to Van Buren. Though the book refers back to historic events, action time is present day.



Author: L.J. Sellers

Genre: mystery / suspense / police procedural

Setting: Eugene, Oregon



Author: Peg Herring

Genre: Historical mystery

Setting: Tudor London (1500s)

Sunday, August 01, 2010

New release: Skeletons in the Closet & Other Creepy Stories

Today launches my new short story collection, kind of a mix between Stephen King's short collections, The Twilight Zone and The Hitchhiker.

In Skeletons in the Closet & Other Creepy Stories you'll find 13 suspenseful shorts, including my novelette Remote Control. Some of the stories are based on true events.

Skeletons in the Closet is now available in ebook edition for only $2.99 US at Amazon's Kindle Store and Smashwords.

Pick up your copy today! It makes an awesome gift for anyone who likes a good scare.

Cheryl Kaye Tardif