Wednesday, June 30, 2010

Mystery Writing Tips from a Master

Everything I learned about planting clues for a 'fairplay' murder mystery I learned by studying and dissecting the works of the most brilliant cluemaster of all time, Agatha Christie. 'Fairplay' means that the reader has all the same information as the detective, and could solve the mystery, if they were clever enough. Writing performance corporate mysteries for nearly twenty years, honed my skills in this regard. Here's one priceless gem from Dame Agatha, hidden deep within one of her novels. If memory served me correctly, it was The Mirror Cracked From Side to Side.

"What you have to account for is if one person did see something why didn't that person say so? ... Possibility one - The person who saw it didn't realize what they had seen. That would mean, of course, that it would have to be rather a stupid person. Someone let us say, who can use their eyes but not their brain.

It might have been a person whose action in putting something in a glass was natural. It would be quite possible, audacious but possible, for someone to pick up that glass which as soon as it was in his hand or her hand, of course, would be assumed to be his or her own drink and to add whatever was added quite openly. In that case you see, people wouldn't think twice ... it would be a gamble, a risk, but it could happen.

Possibility three ... Somebody saw what happened and held their tongue deliberately ... if so, it's a very dangerous thing to do. - Agatha Christie.

Friday, June 11, 2010

Cheryl & Cherish talk murder and romance over at I Love Canadian Authors

Please join me and my alter-ego Cherish D'Angelo as we discuss murder and romance, and answer questions from readers over at I Love Canadian Authors on

I'll be popping by the group throughout today, so be sure to leave me a question or two and I'll do my best to answer them. :-)

And be sure to sign up on my website for FREeBOOK FRIDAY. I'll be giving away an ebook sometime on Friday. To enter, sign up for Divine News (top right corner) at

Thursday, June 10, 2010

Cheryl's challenge to book pirates

So the great book piracy debate is still churning stomachs over at JA Konrath's blog, especially now that his "experiment" has proven one thing: Joe knows how to sell books. Something I didn't doubt for a minute.

Since his experiment is rather skewed in one direction--for piracy--I thought I'd had my own "control" side. I'm issuing my own "experiment" or challenge to book pirates...if they dare to take the challenge.

Konrath says "steal this book"; Tardif says "please don't steal mine"

Cheryl Kaye Tardif,
bestselling author

Wednesday, June 09, 2010

I'm So Excited

The first book in my mystery series will be released this coming December and I have just received the coverart from my publisher. I really like what the artist did. The skyline is Dallas, where the story is set, and the badge is an official Dallas PD badge. I have had a number of people tell me that the cover is great and would make them pick up the book.

What do you think?

Also, I have just received blurbs from two authors whom I have the greatest respect for.

"Open Season is a solid police procedural with fully developed characters and provocative social issues." --- L.J. Sellers, author of the Detective Jackson mysteries

“Detectives Sarah Kingsly and Angel Johnson are crisply drawn characters. The hard-edged story of racial tension in Dallas could be drawn from today’s headlines. Open Season is a smart, spirited page-turner.” —Bruce Cook – Tommy Gun Tango

In his e-mail Bruce also thanked me for letting him read the book in advance and wrote, "It was great fun, with likeable characters and a strong plot."

Wow, what a terrific week this has been. It is the kind that gives a writer a real boost, and I'm sure all the writers reading this are nodding heads in agreement. The business of writing is so intense and challenging at times that we may wonder why we keep doing it.

This is why....

Open Season will be coming out in hardback in December from Five Star Cengage/Gale.

Thursday, June 03, 2010

Someone read it?!?

You know, a well-known writer (whose name escapes me at the moment, although it may have been Stephen King) once said that, "a writer's fame is the best kind. You're anonymous enough to walk the streets unhindered, but famous enough to still get a good seat at a restaurant." Okay, I may have paraphrased here... in fact, I'm sure of it. Anyway, the point I guess I'm trying to make is how so many of us are so busy writing that we sometimes forget that there are people out there that actually read what we write. I'd like to introduce a personal experience as a case in point...
The other day as I was heading to the commuter railroad on my way home (Long Island Railroad), a young lady called to me. I didn't know her but I saw her reach down and pick up a black bookbag. Since I work for the city transit agency and I wear my I.D. around my neck, I assumed that she was going to hand me someone's lost bookbag (this happens all too often). Anyway, when I approach her she surprises me by pulling a copy of my novel from the aforementioned backpack! She points to my photo on the back and asks, "Is this you?" I laughed awkwardly and replied yes. She then said, Oh my God! I'm reading your book and it's awsome! AWESOME! I love it!"
Wow. I was surprised, elated, and chagrinned, all at the same time. I mumbled a thanks and said something about having to catch my train. As I was leaving I called out another thank you and just made my train.
I have to admit that I was caught off-guard. I rarely think about whose reading my novel or stories and I was totally unprepared for this young lady's enthusiastic response to having read it. Perhaps we as writers should occasionally emerge from our self-imposed isolations and think about those that are actually rading what we are writing or have already written, and maybe even practice a little bow, curtsey, hardy thank you, or even a wise nod to show our appreciation. I know I will.