Tuesday, October 27, 2009

Guest Blog by author Cheryl Kaye Tardif

I have a great guest blog this week--a followup article from best-selling Canadian author, Cheryl K Tardif, who last time discussed her pseudonym, Cherish D'Angelo. You can read the first Romance novel she's written under that name--for free, as she explains below.

If 'free', 'romance', 'suspense', and 'thriller' aren't enough enticement, she's recently revealed she's included some of her friends and supporters in the novel. Does that include me? You? We better check it out!

Eileen Schuh
Canadian Author

Romantic suspense: a scintillating combination of titillation and trepidation

When I first decided to write a romance novel, I polished off the first half of a contemporary romance, then got bored with it and filed it away in the bowels of my computer. You know, stuffed so far into a file that I easily forgot about it. The problem was that I had already established myself as an author of mystery and suspense. Sure there was some romance in my novels, but it didn’t “drive” the story, and there often wasn’t a “happily ever after”, which is the unshakable law of romance novels.

What bored me about my original romance novel—beside the title (Reflections)—was the journey of my characters (I forget the main character’s name). They met, there was chemistry, she had a disturbing past that stood in her way, they explored each other timidly, she fell in love, he didn’t at first, they eventually hooked up…blah, blah, blah…and they all lived happily ever after. Boring!

I knew that there were many problems with the work. I couldn’t get into my characters enough for even ME to feel for them, much less a poor reader. It’s my personal mantra to make readers feel what my characters feel. Then there was the setting. It originally took place in Bermuda, where I had lived as a teen. However, the laws there are strict regarding people who can live there or own land. And finally, there wasn’t enough tension or suspense, something I feel I’m good at creating when I write a thriller. I buried the manuscript, never sure if I’d ever look at it again. But I did.

In June, I heard about the Dorchester ‘Next Best Celler’ contest over at http://www.textnovel.com/. Dorchester Publishing is looking for the “New Voice in Romance”. As soon as I read that, I thought: I could BE that voice. Since the prize was a publishing contract with Dorchester, a company I’ve been interested in for a few years, I was instantly motivated.

First, I opened up Reflections and did lots of cringing and groaning. I wondered if I’d be better off starting a new novel from scratch, but the theme of the novel drew me in: A woman is stranded on a tropical island after her dying boss sends her there for reasons only known to him and said woman meets angry but handsome recluse. Sure beats meeting a guy in a bar.

As I read over the first few chapters of Reflections, I realized instantly what I could do to amp up this novel and make it worth publishing. I could make it a romantic suspense [insert flashing light bulb]. All I had to do was throw in an element of danger, which came in the form of a sleazy, sadistic private investigator. He was created when, partway through writing this novel, I held a special contest. My “Create a Corpse Contest” had been popular in the past and this time it resulted in the winning entry: “Winston Chambers”.

As soon as Winston was thrown into the mix, the plot thickened, grew darker and more intense, and I realized something. I had created one of my best characters in that scumbag Winston. I hated him! And if I hated him, I knew my readers would too. If you read some of the comments over at Textnovel.com, you’ll see the reaction people have had.
Winston Chambers allowed me to tiptoe over to the dark side, while pursuing the romance between my main characters, Rhianna and Jonathan.

Has the original Reflections changed? Darn rights it has! Only the premise and a few short scenes are from the original manuscript. I took the concept and created an entire 66,000 word manuscript in just under 5 months. You can read about ¾ of it online FREE.

My debut romantic suspense is called Lancelot’s Lady, and I think you’ll find it’s a scintillating combination of titillation and trepidation, the ingredients necessary in a novel of this genre. You’ll also find that I plan to use a pseudonym for my romance writing, so be sure to keep an eye out for Cherish D’Angelo’s debut. Cherish likes to stir her cauldron of steamy romance and lurking suspense, occasionally adding a dash of humor and a pinch of foreshadowing. She’s already considered her next romance novel…but if she tells you about it now, she’d have to kill you.

What started as a boring work has become an inspiring one that grew more visible to me with each added scene. This Dorchester contest, while often seeming long and exhausting, pushed me to deliver. And I hope I did. Please check out Lancelot’s Lady at Textnovel.com. Let me know what you think. How did I do? If you really enjoy it, please consider voting for me. If you click on the blue thumb circle and blue phone circle, I get 2 points, and that will help me get to the finals in mid-November. I sincerely value your support.

Read Lancelot’s Lady for FREE at:

~Cherish D’Angelo (aka Cheryl Kaye Tardif)

Wednesday, October 14, 2009

The Circle of Time

This is my 44th consecutive smoke-free day. As my life as a smoker draws to a close, my career as a writer opens wide.

Life is a fabric woven from segments like these--intertwined memories and expectations, beginnings and endings, past, present, future--self and the universe. I am the pattern that emerges from this tapestry of choices and fate, traumas and celebrations, failures and triumphs. As it is with the universe, this pattern that is me is ever changing, ever renewing, ever becoming.

Most writers blog about the use of the semicolon, the proper format for a query letter, the upcoming release of their newest book, the source of inspiration, etc. Likewise, I intended to use "Magic of the Muses" to showcase my skill as a writer, promote the novels I've written, find the agent/publisher I'm seeking. My blog, however, evolved into an intimate diary of my quest to quit smoking.

Between the hours involved in blogging about this quest, and the time spent pacing and eating--distracted by cravings and pain--my writing career seemed to be going nowhere. Yet, in my inbox an email from an agent appeared, requesting a copy of my novel, "Noraebang" to review. Next came a tweet from an American scientist, interested in my tweeted and blogged campaign to quit.

As my nicotine cravings gradually fade along with the need to write about them, my time becomes increasing devoted to cultivating the interest in my writing sparked by "Magic of the Muses".

I am diligently pursuing an agent, preparing queries and answering responses. I'll keep you posted. Perhaps my next blog will be entitled, "Me and my Agent".

Eileen Schuh,
Canadian writer

Read a preview and excerpt from my novel


Tuesday, October 6, 2009

Day 36: Suck it up, Princess

I received an email about my last post, suggesting I shouldn't minimize my fight to quit smoking. Although others in the world may be facing greater and more painful challenges, addictions are a very serious issue for individuals and for society.

I have to agree. In fact, the woman who inspired me by working through the grief of losing her grandson to a drunk driver, was quite likely the victim of someone with an addiction--alcohol addiction. Addictions are the evil behind many criminal acts. [They have a prominent role in my crime novels which are previewed on my website: http://www.eileenschuh.com]

I did not intend last week's blog to minimize my addiction, my pain, or my efforts to quit. I believe, though, that I was attributing entirely too many words and exclamation marks to my weeping and moaning. I chose to start smoking and I chose to quit smoking. Lots of people, like the grandmother in my last blog, are hurting through no choice of their own.

So, what I was trying to say to myself was, "Suck it up, Princess!"

Although encouraging people to talk about their pains and problems is touted as a great stress reliever, studies have shown otherwise. During conversations about trauma, people react emotionally and physically as if they were actually experiencing the events. The moral? Sometimes it's best and healthiest to leave things be and move on--think about other things, other people, sunnier times, brighter futures.

To this end, I will briefly inform you--the cravings are much less frequent and less intense. My candy consumption is decreasing. And my husband has announced he is joining me in 'butting out' for keeps.

On a lighter note, I asked for tidbits of humour on Facebook and Twitter and promised I'd post on my blog the joke that made me laugh the most.

Thanks to Shevi Arnold for the following giggle: "Would everyone who believes in telekinesis, please raise my hand."

And, equally humorous, thanks to my cousin, Maureen, for the following laughs:

My face in the mirror isn't wrinkled or drawn.
My house isn't dirty, the cobwebs are gone.
My garden looks lovely and so does my lawn.
I think I might never, put my glasses back on!

A librarian admitted to hospital for surgery got this card from her associates: "If they take anything out make sure they sign for it!"

Funny Definitions:
BEAUTY PARLOR: a place where women curl up and dye
CHICKENS: the only creatures you eat before they are born and after they die.
EGOTIST: Someone who is usually me-deep in conversation.
TOOTHACHE: the pain that drives you to extraction!

Thanks, guys, for making me laugh!

Eileen Schuh,
Canadian writer