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)

Saturday, September 25, 2010

Criminal Kids

A couple of my professional readers weren't impressed that my protagonist in The Traz--prequel to the Back Tracker Series is a 13-year old girl. One suggested I ought to make her 19. Ummm...that’s kind of an entirely different story, sir.

The readers perceived a problem with Katrina’s age because they didn't believe someone her age would be ‘allowed’ to run wild on the street bereft of adult supervision. They also didn’t think adults would establish relationships with one so young—and use her in their criminal activities.

While Katrina’s behaviour is not typical of a young teen, it’s certainly within the realm of possibility. One doesn’t have to look far to find headlines about juvenile criminal behaviour. And it’s well known to those in law enforcement and social services that adults often recruit youngsters into their criminal networks—for a variety of sinister reasons.

Youth are often insecure, in need of belonging, susceptible to peer pressure, and not very world-wise. This makes them vulnerable to both threats and promises. It makes them prime candidates to become eager customers of illicit drugs and once addicted, candidates for prostitution and other illicit activities.

Adults often overcome a youngster’s reluctance by playing up the fact youth are dealt with lightly by the court system and that they are above suspicion. Youngsters can be flattered by the adult attention they receive and often misinterpret the manipulations as trust, affection, and sometimes even love.

Although many children on the street are trying to escape terrible home lives, some are just rebellious or adventurous. Some have mental health issues and some...are born psychopaths.

It's my deepest wish that my stories about troubled children help youngsters deal more effectively with life. Just as importantly, I hope they give parents, educators, law enforcers, and other community leaders a better understanding of the darkness these kids are often both facing and fleeing.

Here’s some September 2010 headlines about youngsters engaging in evil.

Georgia baby sitter, 11, charged in death
An 11-year-old baby sitter in suburban Atlanta, Georgia, has been charged in the death of a 2-year-old, authorities said. The baby sitter is accused of felony murder and cruelty to children....
read more:

Youths to stand trial in 2011 in double slaying
Last Updated: Friday, September 17, 2010 1:21 PM MT

A 14-year-old boy from Strathcona County was charged with two counts of first-degree murder. Another 14-year-old boy from Strathcona County was charged with two counts of accessory after the fact to murder.The charges against the youths are troubling since they are both in government care, said Edmonton NDP MLA Rachel Notley.

"From our indications, [it was a] completely random incident," RCMP Cpl. Darren Anderson said of the slayings.
read more:

Teen who killed family could move to group home
Last Updated: Wednesday, June 30, 2010 4:04 PM MT

The girl was 12 when she killed her parents and younger brother in their Medicine Hat, Alta., home in 2006. The girl and her boyfriend at the time of the murders, Jeremy Steinke, 23, plotted the stabbing deaths of her mother, father and eight-year-old brother. The pair felt the girl's parents stood in the way of their relationship.

At her last review in November, the hearing heard the girl was making progress in therapy but was lagging in accepting the severity of her crimes.
read more:

Teen who killed mom gets 4 years in prison
Last Updated: Tuesday, September 14, 2010 6:33 PM MT
CBC News
A Fort Macleod, Alta., teen has been sentenced to four years in prison for killing his mother with an axe. The teen, who was 17 at the time of the crime, pleaded guilty in October to second-degree murder.

"My nephew's always been troubled, and his mother did try everything possible to get him help … When this happened, we were shocked but not surprised." The woman said her sister had been seeking intensive treatment for her son for two months prior to her death.
read more:

Would-be pot buyer slashed with meat cleaver
OTTAWA — A 14-year-old charged in connection with a robbery in which a would-be pot buyer was slashed with a meat cleaver
read more:

Stephenville cabin theft ring busted
Last Updated: Monday, September 13, 2010 3:19 PM NT Comments8Recommend6
CBC News

Police in western Newfoundland say they've busted a ring of people who've been busy breaking into sheds and cabins over the summer. Five teenage boys and two men face more than 50 charges following a rash of break–ins and thefts in the Stephenville area.
read more:

Canadian girls victims of human trafficking: RCMP
By Brian Lilley, Parliamentary Bureau
OTTAWA - Imani Nakpangi was sentenced to five years in jail for trafficking two underaged girls. She forced the girls, 14 and 15 years of age at the time, into prostitution while he lived lavishly off their earnings. The girls received nothing for their efforts while Nakpangi earned $400,000 over a two-year period.
read more:

Fatal Alta. ecstasy case nets guilty pleas
Last Updated: Friday, September 10, 2010 3:48 PM MT
CBC News
A 17-year-old boy pleaded guilty to drug trafficking Friday during his trial on charges related to the deaths of two teens on the Paul Band First Nation in March 2009. Leah House, 14, and Trinity Bird, 15, died in hospital days after they ingested the stimulant ecstasy at a March 22, 2009, wedding celebration on the First Nation west of Edmonton.
read more:

Teen charged in schoolyard sex assault
By QMI Agency
CALGARY - Police have charged a 16-year-old boy in connection with an alleged sexual assault that took place at a schoolyard as a group of youths looked on.
read more:

Teen accused of killing his sister

MONTREAL – A teen accused in the slaying of his 14-year-old sister will undergo a psychiatric evaluation to determine whether he’s fit to stand trial. Doctors will also determine whether he can be held criminally responsible for the alleged murder. His lawyer, Daniel Lighter, explained the 18-year-old was too ill to appear in court. “He’s schizophrenic, has psychotic episodes and hears voices.”
Read more:

German teens jailed for murdering ‘hero’
MUNICH, Germany - A German court handed out long jail sentences to two teens on Monday for the fatal beating of a Good Samaritan whose efforts to stop them from bullying four 13-15 year olds and trying to steal their money. The court in Munich sentenced Schiller, who is now 19, to nine years and 10 months in jail for murder and Leibinger who is now 18, to seven years for bodily harm with fatal consequences.
read more:

Boy charged in connection with stabbing
By Chris Kitching, QMI Agency
WINNIPEG - Police have charged a 16-year-old boy who allegedly stabbed a younger boy during a violent, unprovoked robbery last month. The 13-year-old victim was slashed with a knife and suffered a 20-cm cut that required 33 stitches to close.
read more:

For a preview of my Back Tracker series that traces Katrina’s life from the time she’s a toddler until she’s a grandmother visit:

Wednesday, September 22, 2010

Guest blogger James M Turner sheds some light on human trafficking

Guest blogger James M Turner discusses human trafficking...

The recent case of Thai workers brought to the US to work on Pineapple farms, who then had their passports confiscated, was a sharp reminder that human trafficking is alive and well and closer than we can imagine.

The fact that this act was allegedly perpetrated by a supposedly respectable recruiting agency based in Los Angeles is shocking, perhaps. But the fact remains that placing a price on a human life is a practice that is still going on throughout the world despite the abolition of slavery for more than a hundred years.

A recent docu-drama 'I am Slave' set in London also brought to light the uncomfortable fact that in apparently enlightened and multi-cultural cities such as London, trafficking into prostitution and modern day slavery is far more common than we would like to believe.

So, what is it then that allows this trade to survive and even as some might say 'thrive'? Certainly in the case of workers and those trafficked for prostitution there is a criminal element whose duplicitous recruitment techniques lull the victims into a sense of false security. By the time they know the truth it is already too late and fear prevents many from seeking the emancipation they are entitled to.

Far from our shores another, though equally repugnant, form of trafficking is also still going on. Children, often pre-teens, are being sold into a life of misery in the sex trade across Asia, South America and Africa. Shockingly it would seem that the first step on this road to suffering sometimes begins with the parents. Deplorable, yes. Unforgivable, maybe. Understandable?

In order to cast a judgement on these actions it seems prudent to consider the parents' choices. These are not housewives sitting in New York, Paris, London or Berlin. Take for example a young family in the border regions of Myanmar (Burma). The region has experienced the longest running civil war in history. What are her choices for her children? The army and militia groups recruit children from about ten years old. Young girls may be subject to rape by the roaming militia. She is hard put to feed a small family and may be looking at a future of starvation for one or all of her children.

Could she be forgiven for sending one of her children off to neighbouring Thailand? In the process she would be saving the child in question from all of the above, gaining money to save the remaining children and further receiving income from the child's 'occupation' in Thailand. None of these are good choices, but they are decisions that have to be made across the world from Cambodia to the Sudan, South America to the Philippines. Should we think these mothers love their children any less?

In order to eradicate or even slow down the trade of vulnerable elements such as those mentioned above we must look to the causes; war, poverty, crime and corruption and commit to a concerted effort to resolve these core triggers. Until we do, it is likely that the latest incident being reported recently in the United Stated will not be the last.

James M Turner is the author of Beyond the Comfort Zone, which documents his own hair-raising adventure battling child traffickers in Asia.

Monday, September 20, 2010

Promoting a Great Writer's Conference

Public Safety Writers Association is a great conference for anyone writing about any of the public safety fields, fiction or non-fiction. As a mystery writer, I love this conference. Of course I have a vested interest because I'm the program chair.

This is a very different conference than most. The majority of the people who attend (and are members) are or were in some law enforcement field. Fortunately, they've embraced all the mystery writers who've joined and come to the conference.

Represented are police officers from all the corners of the US, FBI, Border Patrol, Airport police, police dispatchers, firemen, forensic and crime scene experts, a coroner, and no doubt I've forgotten someone.

Because it's a small conference--we try to keep it at 50 attendees, there is plenty of opportunity to get acquainted, ask questions, and make friends who will come in handy later on for research.

Yes, you can bring books for sale. The organization keeps 10% and takes care of the selling end.

You can take a peek at those who are speaking next July by going to though it's only a partial list.

And there are panels. We'll try to fit in anyone who'd like to be on a panel.

Three wonderful lunches (more like dinner) are included in the registration price--and of course, there is a break for those who register early.

I go to a lot of cons and conferences, and this is definitely my favorite, even if I am a bit prejudiced.


Wednesday, September 15, 2010

What Led up to Writing Invisible Path

Invisible Path is number 10 in my Deputy Tempe Crabtree series. With each book there are certain things I set out to accomplish:

1. Have Tempe solve a crime that others can't seem to.

2. Have the circumstances be different than in previous books.

3. Have interesting things happen in her private life so readers who have been following her through each book will learn what's going on with her relationship with Hutch, her preacher husband, and perhaps a little about her son--who is now in college.

4. Something about her Native American heritage, either something new she learns or discovers as she's working on a case.

5. Though the settings can be familiar since she's the resident deputy of a mountain community--something new about the settings or unusual.

6. That the book be written so it can stand alone. I want someone who is unfamiliar with the series, to be able to read each book and be satisfied with the mystery and the conclusion.

It is always a challenge to come up with some new idea, so I'm always paying attention to what interesting things happen in mountain communities and on Indian reservations.

Because I had a contest a few years back asking for ideas for a new plot for a Tempe book, I gathered quite a few. Of course I didn't use exactly what I was given, but it was enough to build on.

Also one of the people who entered the contest gave me a wonderful name for one of the main characters in the book, an Indian who is falsely accused of murder, Jesus Running Bear.

In Dispel the Mist, the Hairy Man (the reservation I use as a basis for the reservation in my books believes in a Big Foot like character they call the Hairy Man) had a major role and I really enjoyed writing about him. I wanted him to have a part in this story too.

For several years, I'd been noticing these truck and jeeps heading up into the mountains all decked out like a military convoy. I'd also seen these same vehicles, or some quite like them, gathered in the front yard of a large ranch. No one seemed to have any idea who or what they were about. I went on line and started reading about para-military groups and found that there were more in California than anywhere else.

Giant Sequoias grow in the mountains where I live and also in the mountains that are part of the reservation. I knew somehow I needed to include these huge trees in the story.

Tempe's son is in college now, but this tale was going to happen around Christmas so I brought him home for the holidays.

These are but a few of the ingredients I brought together for Invisible Path.

The book is schedule to be available from all the usual places sometime this month including from the publisher's website, .

As usual, this is anxious time. It's like being pregnant and waiting for the baby to arrive. Needless to say, I'm anxious. I love the cover, but I know they always look even better when you get to hold the actual book in your hand. No matter how many books I have published, the excitement is always the same.


Sunday, September 12, 2010

Guest Blogging

I'm guest blogging here: tomorrow and will give away a prize to one lucky commenter.

Friday, September 10, 2010

Where Do Your Ideas Come From?

People often ask where I get my ideas. Some ask with interest; a few ask with a sense of alarm, as if they can't get over the idea of a church-going choir director dreaming up headless corpses and subtle poisons.
Most writers I know could answer with a question of their own: How do I get them to stop? Every day at least one idea floats through my head that might make a decent book. The problem is choosing one that I like well enough to flesh out the details and finish. In other words, the idea is the easy part.
An idea for an Arthur-and-Guinevere sleuthing team struck my fancy a while back, but I couldn't get interested enough to actually write it. I have several other started mysteries that got shoved onto the back burner. An abandoned idea might be due to other demands on my time (like edits), a plot knot that won't dissolve, or simple boredom: I don't like the story enough to finish it. I call these files "somedays", as in some day I might go back to them. (James Michener didn't write IBERIA for years after he took all the notes and outlined it. I'm no Michener, but still.)
If you are a storyteller, stories grow in your head of their own volition. The work part is writing a story down, toiling over it until it is no longer just a good idea, but a story that others can understand and enjoy.
So my answer to "Where do your ideas come from?" is that my brain is like a tree full of story blossoms. I have to pick the ones that seem promising and then work on them until they become fruit.

Wednesday, September 08, 2010

A Bit of A Problem

But rather a nice problem to have in a way. I am busy trying to finish the second book in my mystery series while doing early promoting on the first one. I feel like a juggler at times, and a poor one at that.

For a little while, I'm a writer, hacking away at the latest scene in Stalking Season. Then I get up, walk around my office chair and become my publicist. I contact places to send the ARCs for review. Work on the promo pieces that go out with ARCs. Write the cover letters that go out with ARCs. Did I mention I have a few ARCs on hand?

The first book, Open Season,  introduces Sarah Kingsly and Angel Johnson, homicide detectives who are unlikely and unwilling partners. When people start dying in area shopping malls, the detectives find themselves up against a killer who has his own race card to play. Some people have described it as "Lethal Weapon" in Dallas with female leads. 

Here is an excerpt from Open Season, which will be released in December from five Star Cengage/Gale. I will post another excerpt in a few weeks.

Sarah took a deep breath and faced Quinlin in the stuffy cubbyhole of an office. The room was hot and musty. Dust motes floated in the slivers of sunshine that had penetrated the haze of accumulated grime on the windows of the old building. The scent of his cologne hung heavily in the still air. Chaps. Rich, masculine, and too easily a distraction.

Dressed in a dark, somber suit, Quinlin didn’t speak. He watched her with the careful scrutiny of a snake considering a field mouse. A trickle of perspiration ran down Sarah’s back and dampened her white T-shirt. Shifting in the wooden chair, she contemplated the wisdom of taking off her jacket, then decided against it. He would interpret it as a sign of weakness.

She thought she was prepared for this. She’d rehearsed it a million times, remembering the images, nailing down the sequence, readying herself for his opener, “Detective Kingsly, tell me what happened that night.”
She recalled the moon playing tag with a few heavy clouds, casting weird, disorientating shadows on the crumbling buildings. She remembered wishing the clouds would give way to rain, anything to relieve the oppressive heat that had pounded the city relentlessly for weeks. She remembered thinking the heat made people do crazy things.

Maybe that’s why it had happened.

The rest of it flashed through her mind like a sequence of freeze frames.

Franco and the boy turn.
A glint of metal in the moonlight.
John pushes her away, reaching for the gun tucked in his waistband.
The clasp on her purse sticks.
A flash of gunfire.
The sharp report of return fire.
Struggling to get her gun.
Franco is down.
The kid swings his gun toward John.
She fires the same time the kid does.
The coppery smell of warm blood.
Goddam it, John, get up!
Why is everything so quiet?
Where is the kid?
There’s a big gaping hole in the cheap sequined evening bag.