Monday, April 27, 2009

I think therefore you are

Definitely what we watch, read and hear colours the filters through which we see the world, but what role does it play in creating it?

I've noticed with my recent indulgence and immersion in murder mysteries that people are taking on more sinister overtones than after I read an uplifting book. Because I see them in a more threatening light - does that make them more threatening. Does how we perceive people contribute to their reactions to us? Personally, I believe it does. Not that I think that this a matter that is quite so clear cut as I see you as a creep, therefore you act like a creep to me. But maybe.

Thursday, April 23, 2009

The Free Food Bribe as a Marketing Tool

I promised to try to keep you aware of my writing and promotional progress. Well, I’ve made some progress, at least with the latter.

Did you know that there are 47 bookstores in this country that specialize in mystery fiction? That’s after you eliminate the ones that focus on collectible and antique books, and those that are only on line without a brick-and-mortar store. I’ve just sent each of them a letter informing them of the imminent release of Russian Roulette and respectfully asking (alright, begging them) to order a few copies. I told them all about the 50 review copies I sent out, the new web page, the print ads in Mystery Scene and Crimespree Magazine, the professional book trailer from Circle of Seven Productions, the 5,000 piece postcard mailing to mystery readers, the planned blog tour and on line radio appearances, the book giveaway for fans who post reviews on the internet, and all the cool blurbs I got.

I also promised them a pizza party for their staff if they sell 50 or more copies of Russian Roulette. Yeah, I’m shameless. We’ll see if it works.

Meanwhile, my lovely wife Denise has finalized arrangements for the gala launch party for Russian Roulette. She has arranged a very classy affair at the Farr House in Fairfax, VA. The venue (AKA the Wilson Farr House) often plays host to weddings, bridal showers and fancy luncheons. This Colonial Revival style home in the heart of Fairfax has been party central in these parts since the Farrs’ marriage ceremony in 1915. It was updated in 2001 but retains many of the period details, like Georgia red pine floors. The aforementioned lovely wife has arranged for hors d'oeuvres and wine to be served on June 6th from 2 pm to 6 pm. I have arranged to have copies of Russian Roulette available, a full week before they appear in any stores, for anyone who would like an autographed copy.

Why am I telling you all this? Because each and every one of you is invited! Hey, it’s free food and wine folks! Click here to RSVP for the literary event of my year!

Wednesday, April 22, 2009

50 Ways to Kill Your Lover

Well, here's hoping my husband doesn't read this blog entry...hehe.

The purpose of this exercise is to think of constructive ways to eliminate a fictitious lover, using creative measures with as little evidence left behind as possible.

So I thought I'd put it out there for all you criminal minds.

Here's the set up:

You are the fictional protagonist. Your lover is having an affair with a co-worker. And you've had enough! You have taken those infidelities far too long and you have finally snapped. It is the night of your lover's big promotion and everyone is celebrating at a private hall. And of course, the "other" is there, right across the room, sipping champagne, looking innocent as hell.

What happens next? What do you do? Do you eliminate your lover, or the "other"? You choose. And how do you do it?

There must be fifty ways to kill a lover...cue music, please...

Just stab him in the back, Jack. Make a new plan, Stan. You don't need to be coy, Roy. Just get yourself free. Throw him in front of the bus, Gus. You don't need to discuss much. Drop him off the balcony, Lee. And get yourself free.

Please answer by clicking on comments below. The countdown is on!

Saturday, April 18, 2009

Chip off the ol' Writer's Block?

My son gave me quite a start the other day... he told me he wanted to be a writer. I was surprised, to say the least, because until then he'd exhibited no interest in writing and he'd rarely read anything other than the occasional "Graphic Novel." So what happened? My son admitted that the first spark toward his decision to pursue a career in writing was the Lord of the Rings movie trilogy. He loved the movies so much he did what countless other kids did and played the video games. He enjoyed the video games so much that he then read the books (shame on me for not noticing!). This roundabout way to the works of J.R.R. Tolkien, although unexpected, was totally understood and appreciated. I myself started my literary interests through comic book adaptations of Tarzan, Flash Gordon, etc. So I guess the apple doesn't fall far from the tree.

Anyway, my 17 year-old son now wants to write "anything and everything" he says. The weird thing is that he's also doing better in school now and there's talk that he may even make the honor roll. This from a kid that once considered hooky a viable and noble passtime. Aw, c'mon, I'm really proud of the kid and I'm forever in Tolkien's debt for helping to open my only son's eyes to a world beyond Rap, Hip-Hop, Street Creds and Gangsta attitudes. There was a time when I thought that my rather large collection of books would just fade away, but now my son devours them at a wonderful rate; recently finishing off "Scar Night" and "Raising Cain."

How cool is that? Thanks J.R.R.

Thursday, April 16, 2009

An interview with Angela Cameron, author of Nocturne

Today, I welcome author Angela Cameron to Criminal Minds at Work to discuss her latest novel--Nocturne. Let's hear what she has to say about criminals, crime and writing such elements in a novel.

1. I’m new to your work, Angela, but I understand from your website that your stories generally include suspense subplots. Tell us about that.

Thank you so much for having me here! They do. My story Nocturne kicks off with a dead woman in the middle of a back road in the mountains. It and my romance novels follow the lives of women caught up in the search for a serial killer, running from a stalker, and other criminal activities.

2. Why is it that the stories have these crime subplots? Why not just write mysteries?

My main passion is for the paranormal, which put me squarely in the romance category in the current market, but I’ve always loved crime shows and mysteries. Having these subplots allows me to indulge my inner crime writer.

3. How do you do research for your crime plots?

There’s a combination. The first place I started was with reading Forensics for Dummies. I actually scared my husband for a while because I was fascinated by the information there, like how to kill someone in a way that was almost completely undetectable. When I finished with that, I watched a lot of true crime and true forensics shows.

The research for each story is a little different. For Nocturne, there was a lot of research on morgue operations, reporting, and body decay. I didn’t want to have a body that was intact when it should have been bloated and rigor set in.

4. Where does your inspiration come from?

Crime TV is a wonderful source for inspiration. One of my favorite shows, Most Evil, featured the top ten most evil serial killers. There were killers on the show that I’d never heard of and crimes that never imagined. It’s amazing how truly evil and inventive real people can be. Some of these crimes are too violent even to find a publisher who doesn’t flinch away, except in the horror genre.

5. Do you see yourself ever being a crime writer?

I do, actually. I believe that I will be writing mysteries under my real name in the not so distant future.

6. Who is your favorite crime writer?

James Patterson. Who doesn’t love Kiss the Girls?

7. Who do you think was the scariest criminal in history?

Jeffrey Dahmer was, for me, perhaps the scariest in the completely insane way. Trying to make real zombie friends is definitely an original.

The scariest--just because he was so sadistic and had the whole BDSM angle to his torture--is David Parker Ray. He may have killed sixty women, but no one is sure because he did such a good job of hiding his “toy box” and disposing of the bodies. At least with people like Jack the Ripper, they died the same day. Ray may have dragged his torture out for weeks or months, depending on the person.

-- Angela Cameron is the author of several works that range from horror to romance, and is known for wild, suspenseful rides through the paranormal. To find out more about her and her work, visit

Thank you, Angela, for visiting our blog and sharing your thoughts on criminal minds. I wish you the best in success with your novel Nocturne. ~ Cheryl Kaye Tardif, author

Monday, April 13, 2009

My Birthday, Your Presents!

Yep, it really is my birthday today, and you really are getting the gifts. At least, some of you are.

The big news today is that my web site is finally back on line. A lot has changed since the last time you saw it, including a featured review from Tina Vicini who I talked to at the Love is Murder mystery convention. Tina Vicini was one of the few people who knew right off the bat that my character was named after the Hannibal who marched over the Alps to attack the Roman Empire. Not everything works just right yet, but the two most important things are in place.

The most important thing for me is the link in the middle of the page that allows you to e-mail me. This is how you can send me feedback about my writing, and I will always respond. You should send your friends to that link so they can ask to receive my newsletter. That way they'll always get the latest update on my travels and the progress of my writing.

The most important thing for YOU is the Big Book Giveaway link. Click that and you will find out how you can get an advance copy of Russian Roulette. You'll not only get to read my latest novel before everyone else, but you'll get it for free!

Friday, April 10, 2009

Slippery Slope

In the first three months of 2009 twenty-four people, mostly snowmobilers, died in avalanche’s in British Columbia mountains. Frequently the sportsmen caused the avalanche that took them out by driving up the proverbial slippery slope. Slippery slopes are everywhere. In my opinion, consensus reality is one of the slipperiest slopes of all. We’re all dying from it.

While researching information for my upcoming book Almanac of the Infamous, the Incredible and the Ignored I discovered a vast army of self-proclaimed experts ready to espouse their opinion on a variety of unexplained mysteries, based on ... their opinion. No matter what the topic, each expert was certain that his input was the final word on the subject.

Now we all know that statistics and data can be manipulated to support any idea at all - we do all know that don’t we? Take for instance the Shroud of Turin. Every second year or so a new study is released verifying that it IS or IS NOT genuine. Ditto reports on UFOs, sasquatch and various other phenomena. Let’s take fish falls for example, an occurrence not as rare as you may think.

Fish falls are when a certain type of fish, usually one type of species, fall from the sky, raining down on the people below. Experts attribute these ‘falls’ to water spouts; mini tornado type affairs that suck up water from an ocean or lake and drop it onto land. I’m sure that this happens however I am also sure that water spouts are not always responsible for this mysterious event. Where are the weeds, dirt, rocks and various other debris and fish species that would be picked up with the fish the fall?

What about the Kentucky Phenomena, where flakes of meat fell from a clear sky covering an area one hundred feet by fifty feet. The ‘experts’ explained this away by stating that it was caused by vomiting vultures flying over head. No one saw the birds and the experts did not bother to say how many of the beasts it would take to barf up the amount of beef that lay below.

When facts are few, experts are many.” - Donald Gannon

Saturday, April 04, 2009

Guest blogger Pat Bertram talks about what makes a sociopath

Today author Pat Bertram is our guest blogger here on Criminal Minds at Work as part of her online virtual blog tour. She's going to share some of her thoughts on criminal behaviors. Her post below is informative...and chilling. ~ Cheryl

Anyone who writes crime fiction, especially novels about a serial killer, is familiar with the sociopathic personality. But not all sociopaths are killers. Some psychologists estimate that there are thirty thousand psychopaths who are not serial killers for every one who is. So who are these non-killing psychopaths? Your neighbor, perhaps, or your mother-in-law. Maybe even the psychologists who came up with the sociopathic profile. Possibly even you.

Abused children who were not born with a sociopathic personality usually grow up to lead normal lives. Sociopaths who were not abused usually grow up to lead normal lives or lives that mimic normalcy. Sociopaths sometimes become killers because of childhood abuse, and sometimes they become killers simply because they want to. (The killer in the Dutch version of The Vanishing was a classic sociopath who killed to see what it would feel like.)

Even if you don't write crime fiction, familiarity with the sociopathic personality can help you create dynamic characters and even interesting dialogue. For example, sociopaths frequently use contradictory and illogical statements such as "I never touched her, and anyway, she wanted it."

A sociopath has difficulty connecting to others, though people often like them. They are charming, glib, witty, and use captivating body language. Because of their impulsiveness, need for excitement, poor behavior controls, and lack of responsibility, they can be fun companions, but because they lack empathy, conscience, and remorse, they can never truly connect with anyone.

Other characteristics of the sociopath are shallow emotions, egocentricity, lying for no reason, no need to conform to societal standards, the skill to detect and exploit the weaknesses of others. They are also well satisfied with themselves, never looking back with regret or forward with concern.

One characteristic that keeps a sociopath from being a good fiction hero is that in fiction heroes need to change during the course of the novel, and sociopaths have solid personalities that are extremely resistant to outside influences. But, being the manipulative creatures that they are, they can make us believe they have changed.

The villains of both my novels, More Deaths Than One and A Spark of Heavenly Fire are sociopaths, hiding their true natures under the famed scientific detachment. If they were real people, their crimes would be of such incredible scope that the crimes would be labeled “scandals.” When a CPA bilks a few thousand from a customer, it’s a crime. Yet when a CEO of a major corporation bilks a few million from customers, it’s a scandal. Either way, it sounds like sociopathic behavior. With or without the killing.

Here is Pat's VBT schedule:

Pat Bertram is a native of Colorado and a lifelong resident. When the traditional publishers stopped publishing her favorite type of book — character and story driven novels that can’t easily be slotted into a genre — she decided to write her own. More Deaths Than One and A Spark of Heavenly Fire, available at Amazon and from Second Wind Publishing, are Bertram’s first novels.