Saturday, December 18, 2010

Authors and librarians: the connection

Caroline Vandriel
When I was writing KidLit articles for the PopSyndicate website, several times I pestered the local librarian for answers, interviews, comments, and links.  She was exceptionally obliging and I couldn't help but mention to her that my first published novel, SHRODINGER'S CAT would be released in 2011.

Although each municipality and each school system in my home province is responsible for its library service, "library systems" were established several years ago to increase the buying power of individual libraries and promote the sharing of resources and information throughout the province. 

So, although I am a member of my local St. Paul library I had never met Caroline Vandriel, Library Consultant from the Northern Lights Library System (NLLS), except online.  I was thrilled when, after she discovered one of her coworkers was a close friend of mine, she suggested we meet for coffee.

"A librarian? That's HUGE!" said Cheryl Kaye Tardif, my book marketing coach.   I thought just being invited for coffee by anybody was huge (those who are lonely writers will understand that).

On the otherhand, this meeting was special--because librarians and libraries occupy very special places in my heart.  I have many warm memories of libraries--the shelves and shelves of books.  The pictures. The stories.  The knowledge. The smell. The hush.  The sound of pages turning.

Lately though, tension between authors and libraries has been in the headlines and I was, after all, now an author as well as a reader.  Questions being batted around included, 'Who owns what rights to the books within the library walls?' and 'Who is responsible for reimbursing the authors for the work they invested in those books?'

With these concerns in mind, I pondered what I should discuss with Caroline.  What should I ask?  What should I say? Did she drink her coffee black or does she drink tea?

A few days before my coffee date, I received an email from an author who lives not all that far from me, asking if I had information on how to get his self-published books into schools and libraries.  Ah, I thought.  That is a good question for Caroline.

I started a list:
  1. When my book comes out in 2011, is Caroline the one I'd contact about purchasing it for the local libraries? 
  2. Who would I contact to participate in literacy events in the region? 
  3. Since PopSyndicate had folded, was there any opportunity to continue my KidLit column on the NLLS website? 
  4. Were there other ways that libraries and authors network? 
  5. What else did she do? 
  6. Was she going home for Christmas?  Where was 'home'?  Does she have siblings? 
It was a lovely visit, a lovely chat, and great coffee (thanks to my Northern Lights friend, Brigitte.)

These are the answers I received:
  1. Caroline could suggest my book to member libraries within the Northern Light Library System, but it would be them, not her, who would decide if they want my book.
  2. Individual libraries organize their own events and promotions.  She could give me the names of the libraries and contacts in my region.
  3. She is responsible for the Northern Lights Library System website.  She'd consider my offer to contribute a KidLit column to the quarterly online newsletter.
  4. Once a year, a convention is held for all those involved with the regional libraries.  Sometimes library people from other areas of the province also attend.  Authors sometimes do presentations at the conferences and at times have showcased their work.  She'd keep me informed on the plans for next year's convention and keep me in mind as a possible participant.
  5. What else is in her job description?  She is the one who researches answers to questions people pose to all the libraries in her jurisdiction.  What a cool service!  (I've already sent her a question: What are these "cables" that Wikileak is leaking?  Emails? Telegrams?  She hasn't found the answer yet.)
  6. I won't share Caroline's answers to the personal questions.  Suffice it to say it was a wonderful coffee date.  And I came to understand the importance of networking with the libraries.
And...regarding the question about self-published books, although librarians generally don't purchase self-published books, if one were to promote one's work to them and it was a good work, there's a chance a writer could spark the interest of a libarary.

I was happy with my questions and happy with the answers, but I wanted to know if I'd missed anything huge.  "Cheryl," I emailed.  "Why would authors want to network with libaries?"

Cheryl Kaye Tardif

 She sent me her top ten reasons:

Why writers would want to network with libraries...

1. Libraries BUY books.
2. People still use libraries and will continue to do so.
3. Libraries are getting into ebooks.
4. Libraries love author visits.
5. Libraries often have other events you can attend.
6. You can arrange to sell your books to patrons during events in a library.
7. Libraries know other authors to which you can connect.
8. Libraries give your books more exposure.
9. Public Lending Rights Commission will pay Canadian authors every year based on how many of their works are in public libraries, while Access Copyright pays authors for the use of their work in educational systems (& elsewhere).

10. You’ll be able to tell readers your books are in the library.

For more great writing tips visit author and book coach, Cheryl K Tardif's, blog

I suggest all authors investigate the connection between libraries and authors in their area. Perhaps invite your librarian on a coffee date!

Eileen Schuh

Wednesday, December 1, 2010

Guest Blog: Jan Markley


Congratulations to Sarah Butland for winning an autographed copy of Jan Markley's latest release DEAD BIRD THROUGH THE CAT DOOR. 

Thank you to all who entered. 
I'm happy to host Alberta author, Jan Markley, who is celebrating the launch of her second book in her MegaByte series, "Dead Bird Through the Cat Door". I interviewed Jan a year or so ago when she received her first publishing contract and am excited that she's enjoying continuing success.

And yes, there is a give-away happening here again...

Take it away, Jan!

Side kicks we love
Dead Bird through the Cat Door book give-away

 My favourite side-kick was Karate from Batfink. He was the not-so-super slick side-kick to Batfink who would say things like “I ate my way out. I love caramel” to Batfinks “Your bullets can not hurt me, my wings are like a shield of steel.”

Batfink & Karate
Side-kick characters serve a number of purposes. They can make the hero look good, provide for comic relief (or be the straight man), be a companion of the hero, a counterpoint to the hero (offer a different pov) and give the hero someone to talk to. Or in the case of Todd, the side-kick to Cyd and Jane in Dead Bird through the Cat Door, they can irritate the twin detectives.

In Dead Frog on the Porch we met Todd. He was the leader of the Safari Sleepoveer at the Zoo when Cyd and Jane were in hot pursuit of the Cheese Pie Man (the culprit). Todd interrupted a near-strangulation of the twins. So he was a bit helpful.

Well he’s back as a full on side-kick character in Dead Bird through the Cat Door and his main role seems to be annoying Cyd and Jane. I love this character. He’s funny, he’s smart, he’s ambitious and he has the ear of the bad guys which comes in handy. He creates a lot of conflict between the sisters. He’s got a crush on their mom (which is gross) and one of the twins has a crush on him (though she won’t admit it). The twins need him because he has access to the bird sanctuary where some interesting goings on are happening including the kidnapping of cats to kill birds. But he’s a bit high maintenance. He’s made me really appreciate the role of the side-kick character.
You may purchase Jan's book through


Win an autographed copy of Jan's latest release: Dead Bird Through the Cat Door

Leave a comment and contact information below to be automatically entered to win. [Click on the green word "comment" below. Scroll down until you reach the place to enter your comment.]
Jan and I are suggesting you comment about your favourite side-kick character.  If you are a writer, tell us about the secondary character you created that you like most. 
To increase your chances of winning, sign up to follow my blog (click on the "Follow" button to the right of this column beneath the heading "Followers".  (Your name will be entered twice if you comment and follow)

To REALLY increase your chances to win, follow this link to Jan's blog and follow hers as well. (Your name will be entered three times if you comment and follow both my blog and Jan's).

Contest closes 6 pm Friday, 10 December 2010. 

Winner will be announced Monday 13 December 2010.
Good luck to everyone.

Eileen Schuh, Author

Wednesday, November 17, 2010

Dianne Tchir: Making Poetry Happen

The winners of the three autographed Dianne Tchir books are:
MY STORY: BABY'S FIRST YEAR: Strider Marcus Jones

Thank you to all who visited, those who entered, and to Dianne for appearing on my blog and generously supplying and mailing the prizes.

Dianne Tchir is excited to announce the upcoming release of her debut book of poetry. Although she has many writing successes, including two self-published books, THE RHYTHMIC CYCLE is her first book-publishing contract. It is great to have a fellow Albertan guest on my blog.  Welcome to Magic of the Muses, Dianne.
Tell us a bit about yourself.

Thank you for inviting me to this interview. I am a retired High School English/Drama teacher, and when I am not writing poetry or children's stories, I am teaching advanced “English As A Second Language” at the local college in Slave Lake. I also facilitate workshops in writing memoir, poetry, readers theatre and teach a chair yoga program for seniors.
" two children's books were
an education in itself..."
I have written poetry for over 40 years and have had several poems published in literary magazines, anthologies and newspapers. My two children's books were self-published, an education in itself.

MY STORY-Baby's First Year was published in May 2010 and is narrated by baby.  It shows developmental stages and is interactive: baby's picture is put into each illustration (stage of development). The Literacy Department at Northern Lakes College purchased several books for gift bags to families with newborns. My daughter, Michelle Tchir, was the graphic designer.

My second book, BEARS Bath Time, was published in September 2010 and is intended to teach steps for bath time fun and introduce rhyming to preschoolers. My sister, Suzanne Levasseur, illustrated this book. The website for my children's books is  Both books can be ordered online and make wonderful gifts.

What innovative writing, Dianne! With the holiday season approaching, these are indeed great gift ideas for children and grandchildren.

There is much debate in the writing community about the career value of a strong cyberspace presence. You’ve proven that the internet is a great way for authors to showcase their abilities and attract attention.

"...the more I read of your poetry on your blog,
the more I want to publish
a collection of 30-40 poems..."

My son, John Tchir, motivated me to post my poetry on the internet. I created a poetry blog  and started on Facebook in August, 2010 .

I had many comments posted on my blog, including one from DYSTENIUM LLC -Publishing for the Third Millennium, publisher Don Odom.

Don sent me an e-mail on August 29, 2010.  "The more I read of your poetry on your blog, the more I want to publish a collection of 30-40 poems."

I, of course, investigated the legitimacy of the publisher and even received a call from New York- Don Odom. I was satisfied with the authenticity of this publishing company and signed an agreement, retaining all copyright, receiving royalties twice a year at no cost to me.

"...he is very interested
 in doing a second volume..."

He is very interested in doing a second volume and I would have no trouble fulfilling another request for 30 or more poems that rest in my box, waiting to be born again.

How exciting to have a second book in the works. You must let us know when it is launched. You told me that in the 1980's you had poetry published in the St. Paul Journal and written on the walls of Blue Quills College–that sounds interesting, especially since St. Paul is my community. Tell us more.

"Home of the World's First UFO Landing Pad"  St. Paul, AB., Canada

Yes, my poetry was on the walls of Blue Quills College in St. Paul and in the St. Paul Journal in the 1980's. At that time, I was attending the University Of Alberta completing my Bachelor of Education Degree in Secondary Education, major-English and minor- Intercultural Education.  A professor from Native Studies commented that he had seen some of my poetry on the walls of Blue Quills College and in the St. Paul Journal.  I'd not been aware of that.

Some of my poems had been published in a literary magazine associated with the Athabasca University and that may be where they were found. At this time, I was invited by the Edmonton Separate School Division to take part in a Writing Workshop for teens.  I did the poetry and Martin Godfrey did the short story segment.

You live in Slave Lake, a small northern community. Tell us how the land and the people have inspired your writing career.

I was born in Edmonton, Alberta, Canada and grew up on an acreage outside of the Jasper Place neighbourhood.

I have lived in several places, most of which have been country and hamlets. The many journeys that life has taken me on have inspired much of my writings. I started writing and reading poetry as a young girl , the oldest of five girls and one brother. Many times my mother would be calling, and I would be hiding in the hay loft with pen and paper staring at the sky through the cracks in the barn roof- writing. I was very close to mother nature and read philosophy, the poetry of T.S.Eliot, Margaret Atwood, and later Leonard Cohen, Al Purdy and always more philosophy.

I have experienced many trials and tribulations and have always searched behind appearances and reality's underpinnings. Poetry is the medium that puts many jig saw pieces together for me.

Isolation poses difficulties in establishing a writing career. For example, help, support, and resources are distant and networking opportunities are scarce. What are some things you have done to overcome these difficulties?

“A wise, haunting, deeply moving sequel to The Traz." 

On Amazon

In the UK


Isolation can present a barrier to one's writing; however, I have always been an avid supporter of the arts and with my teaching background (English and Drama) I am able to offer workshops in Writing Memoir, Poetry, Reader's Theatre, and , with my newly acquired teaching certificate in Hatha Chair Yoga, a program for seniors.

I have had a column in a local newspaper, freelanced and submitted commentaries, and edited two books for budding authors. I was a member of the Writers Guild of Alberta [WGA]for many years, then discontinued. However, resumed membership 3 years ago. The Guild has done a video conference in Slave Lake about self publishing, and setting up a writers group.

I found myself utilizing the computer and internet to aid me in self publishing--registering with the Canadian Library of Congress, acquiring an ISBN number and finding a suitable printer for the children's books. As I previously stated, self publishing is an education in itself.

When I write a novel, I start writing at the beginning of the story and keep at it over the course of a month or so until the story is told. I imagine there is a different process involved in writing a book of poetry. Enlighten us.
"...[I] lay my words out,
weed them, sometimes chisel them,
and transform them..."
When I write a poem, it evolves and reveals itself from one thread of thought that is important to me. Motivation and a sense of purpose are the fibres with which I weave my poems. Word play, rhythm, imagery, sound and word magic create themes dealing with nature, vital social issues such as racism, unemployment, alienation, our dying earth and the many masks of reality. I am not a formula poet ,and so lay my words out, weed them, sometimes chisel them, and transform them to elevate the poem to its essence.
You are launching your debut book of poetry. Tell us about it.

My new collection of poetry, THE RHYTHMIC CYCLE, shows the interconnectedness of all things. The juxtaposition of images created with my words and the beautiful illustrations by my publisher makes one want to return to the book for a second read.

The first two poems were written when I was 14. Some of the poems were published but most were laying dormant in my box, yellowing with age.

The poetry highlights important issues of our world today, and I am honoured to share them in this collection. The audience for my book is anyone who has an interest in the themes I explore.

I always offer my guests a chance to thank their supporters.  Dianne?

I wish to thank Eileen Schuh for inviting me to do this interview; my family- children, siblings and relatives for their encouragement; all the people who have left comments on my blog, especially Strider Marcus Jones- author of 2 books of poetry found on FB and all my Blog followers.

I have been interviewed by the Slave Lake Leader and this should come out this week.

You're very welcome--thank you for participating.  Good luck with the launch of  THE RHYTHMIC CYCLE.

If you'd like to meet Dianne, you will find her selling her books at the Christmas Bazaar Craft Sale in Slave Lake from 19 to 20th of November.  At the Widewater Christmas Craft Sale on the 27th of November and at the WGA Christmas Book Sale on 4 December.

You may purchase her poetry collection, THE RHYTHMIC CYCLE, (published by DYSENTIUM LLC- Publishing for the Third Millennium) through or
The book is priced at $14.95

Her children's books can be ordered through http://www.myongoingstory/

Dianne invites you to visit her poetry blog at



Dianne has generously offered autographed copies of her three books (THE RHYTHMIC CYCLE, MY STORY--Baby's First Year, and BEARS BATH TIME) to lucky readers of this interview.

To be automatically entered in the draw, click on the green word "comment/s" below and leave a comment along with your contact information so I can notify you if you’re a winner.   You may only enter once, but feel free to encourage your friends, family, and fans to enter.

On 30th November, three names will be drawn—one for each of Dianne's books.


Eileen Schuh, Author
"Schrodinger's Cat"

Tuesday, October 26, 2010

Writing what you don't know

As with every rule, the 'write what you know' advice to authors is often broken. Over the course of a novel, an author is bound to run into a circumstance, law, technology, setting, or activity that they're unfamiliar with in real life.

Of course some genres require less research and accuracy than others. For example, a fantasy author would have more leeway with facts than a writer of historical romance.

Russell Brooks wrote an interesting blog "I’ve never held a gun, but I still shoot people" ( ) about the firearms research he did for his crime novels.

I, too, write crime fiction. The heroine of my Back Tracker series solves cyberspace and computer crimes. Now, although I've had a computer since PCs first came out in the early 80's, since one needed to know dos to run one, and even though I have been online since online became a word--I really know tweet all about today's computer technology and even less about the Internet, networking, intranet, and other such things that are part of our interconnectedness. I'm also not in any mood to listen to lectures on this subject or enroll in a techie course.

All the same, my novels are quite accurate, have been at times prophetic, and will, I'm sure, prove believable to the geekiest of computer geeks.

For an example of what kind of research I do to ensure I stay within the realm of believability on this subject of which I know so little, check out my blog Cyber Crime Villains on

Scanning news headlines for story ideas is one of my favourite pastimes. It's a much more 'Eileen-friendly' research option than listening to even 10 minutes of a computer nut's expose.

Headlines about software gliches in Iran's nuclear reactor and America's F-35 fighter jet beg to be turned into novels about espionage, or sabotage, or...the possibilities are endless.

Intriguing stories can be build around international crimes via computer technology and secret technology peeking over the horizon. Online sex scandals, internet luring, child porn, and cyberspace hate crimes provide the juice needed to create gripping, emotional tales.

Behind every computer is a vulnerable human who can be blackmailed, bought, seduced, or...the possibilities are endless. Which may be why I was able to draft 10 novels in my Back Tracker series and never run out of inspiration and never repeat a plot.

For more information on my Back Tracker novels visit my website:

Eileen Schuh, Author
"Schrodinger's Cat"

Tuesday, October 5, 2010

Whale Song: A book review

I was captured by Cheryl Kaye Tardif’s emotional tale, “Whale Song” the moment the Nootka elder gave Sarah her Indian name: Hai Nai Yu―The Wise One of the One Who Knows.

This is an adolescent story with two very obvious differences. Firstly, although it’s about a young girl growing up, it is narrated from an adult’s point of view. And secondly, although it is brimming with the wisdom that comes only with age, the story is written for a child.

It’s an ageless story, though, and appeals to readers across generations. Whale Song teaches us not only about the traditions and lore of Canada’s west coast Indians, but also about ourselves—about the children we once were and the wise elders we are destined to become.

Cheryl so capably captures the essence of the aboriginal oral tradition of story-telling. There are those who say kids don’t take to tales designed to instil life lessons. Yet cultures across the world know otherwise. The best way to pass wisdom from generation to generation is to wrap it in a good story.

I remember interviewing a Cree elder during my days as a journalist. I was confounded by the woman’s simplistic sentence structures (after all, she had a university doctorate), the abundant seemingly-unrelated details in her answers, her slow speech, the antiquated clichés.

An hour in and I was becoming increasingly embarrassed by both my impatience and the patience of the orator. About then I realized I ought to relax into Dr. Makokis' compelling story and quit interrupting. I was speaking too loudly, talking too quickly, and begging for short answers that would fit nicely into a column inch.

Whale Song is narrated in a similar manner to this honourable tradition of oral story-telling.

It seems to ramble and take its time as all great lessons do. (Why do I need to know how Sarah’s parents met all those years ago and that Sarah’s birth was preceded by a miscarriage?).

It contains multitudinous details that at first glance seem irrelevant but are really symbolic. (What pre-teen kid notices “...a cedar shelf was mounted to the peach-coloured wall...the walls were painted the palest sage green and along the ceiling edge ran a soft leafy border...”?)

And then there are the clichés. (“I froze, dead in my tracks...the bustling city of San Francisco...the wide-open plains...A sharp crack of thunder...From that moment on, we were inseparable...I raced stomach twisted into tight knots...”)

These clichés, though, are the vessels of traditional knowledge and lore—the keepers of truths. Because clichés say it best, these phrases stay with us from generation to generation.

Although it may be challenging to find the time to traverse the strange loops and twists that eventually lead to the truth, I have no doubt that we ought to make the time. We also ought to teach our children to have the patience for wisdom.

The young and the young at heart will savour Whale Song’s slow and thoughtful use of words. They’ll enjoy how the story circles back into itself and will find comfort in the rhythmic placement of familiar ancient phrases.

Whatever state of mind we’re in when we first open the book, it doesn’t take long to be lured into Sarah’s painful and courageous journey. We soon feel compelled to discover how 11-year-old Sarah evolves into Hai Nai Yu―The Wise One of the One Who Knows.

Cheryl Kaye Tardif, your words made me weep. Whale Song.

A word from Cheryl:
Whale Song is what I call "my heart book". There is so much of me in Sarah, but the novel is not biographical. I am emotionally invested in this novel, like no other, probably because it was my first novel and definitely because of the story itself. Whale Song was inspired by my love for killer whales and the ocean. I'm a BC girl living in Alberta now, and the call of the ocean is always strong.

Whale Song is available in ebook edition and can be purchased in various formats via Amazon's Kindle Store, KoboBooks, Smashwords and more. It is out of print as a trade paperback, however it will be back in print in a few months with bonus content.

I've recently detoured from suspense and YA to romantic suspense with my new release Lancelot's Lady (Sept. 27th), and I invite you to check it out along with my other books--Skeletons in the Closet & Other Creepy Stories, The River, Divine Intervention and Remote Control. ~ CKT

You can learn more about Lancelot's Lady and Cherish D'Angelo (aka Cheryl Kaye Tardif) at and

Prizes & Giveaways: Follow Cherish from September 27 to October 10 on her Cherish the Romance Virtual Book Tour and win prizes.

Leave a comment here with your email address and you will receive a free ebook and automatically be entered into Cheryl’s draws for other great prizes including a Kobo ereader. Winners will be announced after October 10th.

Eileen Schuh,Canadian writer

Monday, October 4, 2010

Juvenile Crime Characters

Using juvenile characters as either victims or perpetrators in crime novels adds many dimensions to a story. In both my young adult and adult novels, I’m especially prone to characterizing ‘criminal kids’.
Click to Sample/Purchase

Youngsters cast in evil roles pull at caring adults’ heart strings, especially if traumatic life circumstances precede their acts of violence and criminality. The nurture/sympathy vs hatred/fear ambivalence that juvenile criminals arouse can be used to create tension both in co-starring adult characters and in readers.

In addition to the more commonly portrayed child/child and adult/adult relationships, a story with a criminal kid character provides an opportunity to explore the special adult/child relationship. That “position of trust” can be portrayed as protector/protected, teacher/student, leader/follower or perhaps even abuser/abused.

The possibility that one bad choice by a child is going to forever ruin her life creates emotional intensity. A writer can deepen that suspense by having an evil adult character manipulating that criminal child.

Because laws are often much gentler toward youth than adults, the criminal behaviour of kid characters can easily be portrayed as resulting in redemption, salvation, remorse, growth, and learning, which opens the opportunity for creative and fulfilling endings—the story can be about so much more than “crime doesn’t pay” or “the cops always get their man.”

A human being’s brain doesn’t physically develop the full capacity to anticipate the results of one’s actions until one is around 25-years-old. A writer, by exploring the results of poor choices, parasitic relationships, and adult weaknesses and manipulations, can help youngsters avoid making costly and/or deadly mistakes.

Written correctly, novels that include juvenile characters can serve as learning tools not only for children but also for the adults in their lives.

For a peek at some “real” criminal kids in the news check
For more information on my novels, visit my website at

Eileen Schuh,Author
"Schrodinger's Cat"

Wednesday, September 29, 2010

Lancelot's Lady: World's Biggest Book Tour

Welcome to the world's largest virtual book tour in celebration of Cherish D'Angelo's debut romance "Lancelot's Lady."

I'm honoured to have Cherish visit Magic of the Muses as one of the115+ stops on her book tour.

After reading the following intriguing glimpse into the lives of Cherish's characters, remember to leave a comment and your email address. We will automatically enter you to win some fabulous prizes!

If you have never read an ebook--this would be a great one with which to start. If you don't have an e-reader, purchase Lancelot's Lady from Amazon and you can download a free Kindle ebook reader application for your computer. (hint: ebooks are generally much cheaper than print books).

Romance Author Cherish D'Angelo Talks About First Impressions
by Cherish D'Angelo

When we meet someone for the very first time, our brain processes first impression information about that person―about their appearance, their manners, their education, their friendliness, their financial status and their social standing. It isn't right or wrong; it's just the way humans are wired. Our minds process what we see and paint the most common sense picture to determine if we are going to like them.

A device in writing that I find always intriguing is "mistaken identity" or "mistaken first impression". Having one character mistake another for someone else or mistake something about them can lead to tension, confusion and even comic relief. In my contemporary romantic suspense Lancelot's Lady, my two lead characters are thrown together by what seems to be a huge mistake, and both of them make judgment calls when they first see each other. Take a peek...

“Hey, lady! What the hell are you doing on my island?”
Rhianna held her breath and clamped her eyes shut. She didn’t want to face the man whose voice simmered with fury. She was sure that he would look as ugly as he sounded.
Finally, she raised her head and forced herself to focus on the imposing man before her. She took in paint-splattered jeans that hugged well-formed thighs, a purple t-shirt covered in various spatter colors, muscular arms folded in front of an impressive chest, and thick black hair that curled at the nape of his neck.
The contours of his handsome face were chiseled as only an ethereal sculptor could, with strong lines enhanced by a dimple on his left side, the only side unmarked by streaks of paint. His nose was straight and proud, just bordering on arrogant. But it was his eyes that fascinated her. Framed by thick black lashes, they were the deepest sea-blue she had ever seen, and right at this moment, those eyes were trained on her with sniper precision.
She felt her throat constricting. Whether it was from fear or attraction, she didn’t know. But she did know one thing. He was the most gorgeous man she had ever met.
“I asked you a question!” the man demanded. “Who are you and what are you doing here?”
She glared back at him. “My name is Rhianna McLeod. Who are you?”
“I’m no one important.”
Rhianna couldn’t agree more. From the looks of him, he was probably the handyman.

Yeah, Rhianna and her first impressions. All I can say is that they get her into hot water. But she isn't the only one to have a strong first impression. Check out Jonathan's...

Approaching, he surreptitiously studied her. The woman’s creased cotton pants were slightly damp at the hem. The blouse she wore, while feminine, was primly buttoned to the top. And her unmarked suitcase screamed brand new, suggesting this woman either wasn’t well-traveled or worldly, or she was and she bought a new suitcase for every trip.
Rhianna, he recalled.
She had eyes the color of jade, and right now they were flinging daggers at him.
He chuckled. She’s feisty, I’ll give her that.
Now that she was standing, he could see that her head only came as high as his chest, but she was curved in all the right places. She had long, slender legs―the kind he’d like to wrap around him.
Now where the hell did that thought come from?
“Where are you from?” he demanded.
He let out a huff. “City girl.”

Conflict and sexual tension, with a small dose of humor thrown in, is my recipe for a good romance story, and adding a mistaken identity and mistaken first impressions theme only heats things up more. You know what they say about assumptions.

Lancelot's Lady ~ A Bahamas holiday from dying billionaire JT Lance, a man with a dark secret, leads palliative nurse Rhianna McLeod to Jonathan, a man with his own troubled past, and Rhianna finds herself drawn to the handsome recluse, while unbeknownst to her, someone with a horrific plan is hunting her down.

Lancelot's Lady is available in ebook edition at KoboBooks, Amazon's Kindle Store, Smashwords and other ebook retailers. Help me celebrate by picking up a copy today and "Cherish the romance..."

You can learn more about Lancelot's Lady and Cherish D'Angelo (aka Cheryl Kaye Tardif) at and

Prizes & Giveaways: Follow Cherish from September 27 to October 10 on her Cherish the Romance Virtual Book Tour and win prizes.

Leave a comment here, with email address, to be entered into the prize draws. You're guaranteed to receive at least 1 free ebook plus you'll be entered to win a Kobo ereader.

Winners will be announced after October

Eileen Schuh,Author
Schrödinger’s Cat

Monday, September 13, 2010

You know you're a crime novelist when...

The top ten traits of a crime novelist:

10. When you don’t answer the phone because you’ve just stepped out of the shower you worry for the rest of the day that the robber who called to ensure no one was at home is going to show up on your doorstep–or in your basement.

9. When you see the flashers of a cop car behind you, you’re pretty sure they are pulling you over to ask for your help in solving a major crime

8. You are certain that at some point in your life you are going to discover human remains and it won’t be in a funeral home or a graveyard

7. You know the number for Crime Stoppers and have to resist calling in tips on what murder investigators ought to be doing. You also want to read them your list of suspects.

6. You think your novel is more exciting and more realistic than that "other author’s" True Crime books.

5. You vehemently deny that you ever wanted a ‘real’ career in law enforcement. And you lock all your doors and are in bed by 10:00 pm–unless you are in the middle of writing an exciting scene. In which case you go to bed two hours before your alarm goes off.

4. You believe you would be a good candidate for the next Commander in Chief of the RCMP and are a bit disappointed when no one calls.

3. You believe that cops are simply engaging in an grand conspiracy of denial when they say real-life policing is not nearly as exciting as it is on TV.

2. The lady crossing the street in a wheelchair looks suspicious to you.

AND...the top trait of a Crime novelist:

You think publishers are rejecting your manuscripts because they are afraid either the police or organized crime will come after them if they print your novels

Eileen Schuh
Author "Schrodinger's Cat"

Wednesday, September 1, 2010

A year ago last night...

A year ago last night I smoked my last cigarette, tossed the butt into the campfire, and went to bed. The next three months were hell. I gained 25 pounds over the first four weeks mostly because I bought 3lb bulk bags of Rocket candies. I liked unrolling them from the cellophane. I liked popping them into my mouth, one at a time, and feeling them fizzle and melt on my tongue--tiny bursts of pleasure to replace the quick fix of a cigarette.

I dutifully continued my Champix prescription--the smoking-cessation drug that stole the pleasure from nicotine. Knowing that even if I did sneak a smoke it would do nothing for me, certainly helped keep me from temptation. Although I imagined (and often dreamed) about the relaxation,the stimulation, the comfort, the pain-relief that I'd get from dragging on a cigarette, filling my lungs, and exhaling—the reality was--I'd get no comfort.

Soon, Rockets no longer comforted me, either. The first six months were a continuous battle to find a replacement for cigarettes, a desperate seeking for something to fill that empty, cold, black hole in my gut, my soul, my life.

Excercising, forums/information/support at , pacing, eating, yoga, deep-breathing, family visits, phone calls, hikes, anti-depressants, bubblebaths, wonderfully supportive friends and family.

I create a website, learned to Tweet, began blogging, wrote novels, queried agents,and, yes, signed my very first publishing contract. “Schrodinger’s Cat”, a novella to be released by Wolfsinger Publications in both print and ebook format in 2011, is the fufilment of a childhood dream.

I’ve overcome my agony. I’ve learned, grown, stretched, cried, smiled and laughed. I’ve succeeded. All without the “help” of nicotine. There is a life beyond the butt. I still struggle with weight. Struggle with cravings. Struggle with the emptiness.

The best motto for me is that I can, at any time I want to, light up again. I don't, because I choose not to. That’s an important choice that others under control of the nicotine demons, don’t have. I’m free and intend to remain so.

I donated the first $1,000 I saved to the Haitian Red Cross earthquake relief and the second $1,000 to the Pakistan flood relief effort. It’s neat that so many have benefited from my quitting. It’s incentive for me to keep quit. Someone somewhere in the future is going to need monetary help and I’d feel pretty badly if I’d already wasted those needed dollars on a senseless harmful pleasure.

Thanks, guys for your unfailing support. Share with me in celebrating a full year free from cigarettes.

To join me in supporting the Red Cross Pakistan relief effort visit my personal Red Cross fundraising page

Or visit my website where I’m offering donors a free short story. Links to various charities precede “A Nepaterian Visitation”.

My Quit Smoking diary starts here:

Eileen Schuh,Canadian writer

Thursday, August 12, 2010

More Tip Bits from Cheryl

Cheryl's last blog on writing gripping first chapters was very popular with my readers. This one, undoubtedly, will be, too.

Creating a Gripping First Chapter: Part 2 - Chapter Hooks

©2007 Cheryl Kaye Tardif

In fiction, once you've grabbed the reader's attention and reeled them in, you must keep them engaged. You don't want them to put your book down. You want them to turn the next page. Since the end of a chapter often symbolizes a 'stop' to many readers, you want to give them a reason to start reading the next chapter. To accomplish this, consider using Chapter Hooks at the end of each chapter.

Chapter Hooks

A chapter hook is simply a method of ending a chapter on a “cliffhanger”. Most readers are tempted to dog-ear or bookmark and put down a book when they’ve finished a chapter. You don’t want them to do this. You want them to feel compelled to turn the page and start reading the next chapter. One of the easiest ways is to use a chapter hook. You basically end the chapter with a line of text that foreshadows an event.

She upended the envelope and a small box dropped into her hand. She grinned at the delivery man. “It’s my birthday.”
“The box says Bella Jewelers,” the man said. “Happy birthday.”
She closed the door, her heart skipping a beat as she stared at the small box in her hand. Had Roger sent her the bracelet she’d told him about?
She giggled, then opened the box. When she peeled off a square of cotton, she let out a startled gasp. Then, staring at the gift, she did something she didn’t expect.
She screamed.

When the author leaves the chapter with this hook, we just have to find out what’s in that box. So we turn the page and read the next chapter.

Chapter Five

The box sat on the table, a pool of blood oozing from one corner.
“This can’t be happening,” she whispered.
She peeked again, this time holding her breath. And there it was. A bloody finger. A small, bloody finger.

Many of the current bestselling authors use this technique in their work. Some use it at the end of nearly every chapter. The key is to vary the hooks. Make sure that some are action sequences, some are dialogue, some are narrative.

Think of one-liner hooks—sentences you could use at the end of a chapter.

My mother sat down at the table and calmly told me how my sister died.

“Don’t open that!” Frank snapped.

When Justin turned the corner, he came face-to-face with the last person he expected to see.

Dr. Morgan frowned and pointed to the x-ray. “What the heck is that?”

There were secrets in my family. And one of them has haunted me for years.

Using chapter hooks will make your book more interesting to the reader. And more importantly, it will keep them reading.

Cheryl Kaye Tardif is a bestselling author who lives in Edmonton, Alberta, Canada. Her novels feature varying elements of suspense, from light mystery in Whale Song to her gripping techno-thriller The River to her paranormal thriller Divine Intervention. Her latest releases are Skeletons in the Closet & Other Creepy Stories and her award winning novelette Remote Control. Cheryl has also branched out into romance, under the pen name Cherish D'Angelo, and Cherish's debut romantic suspense Lancelot's Lady will be releasing on September 27th, 2010. and

Watch for my upcoming review of Cheryl's "Whale Song" in my October PopSyndicate KidLit 101 column.

Eileen Schuh,Canadian writer

Tuesday, July 27, 2010

Top Tips for 1st Chapters

I was following up on some recent comments on my "Top Tips" for writing blogs, when I realized something dire. Way back when, I promised my readers "My next blog will be tips for writing a great opening chapter..."

Well, there are several blogs after that one, and none of them are about tips of any kind. I'd lied. Although I didn't feel really, really, really guilty about my misstep, I knew I ought to fess up and put the situation right.

Except...I quickly realized that the likely reason I'd never done a post on opening chapters was because...I don't know how to write great opening chapters. How does an author, with just a short chapter's-worth of mere words, introduce a novel's characters, set the scene in time and place, begin the action, foreshadow the future, explain the past...and draw the reader into the story?

Beats me...

But it doesn't beat my fine friend and bestselling author, Cheryl Kaye Tardif. She graciously agreed to do not one, but TWO guest blogs on how to write gripping first chapters.

Thanks, Cheryl. You're a doll.

Creating a Gripping First Chapter: Part 1 - The Four Firsts

©2007 Cheryl Kaye Tardif

In fiction, suspense and foreshadowing create mood, tension and the desire to read more. You want your readers to be gradually drawn in to your story, reeled in by conflict and the need to see resolution. To accomplish this, consider The Four Firsts.

The Four Firsts: First sentence, First paragraph, First page and First chapter

First sentence: Make your first sentence count for something. Don’t start off describing the sky or field unless you can include something that will truly grip a reader.

A million stars twinkled in the sky and the moon hung full and white amidst them.

Does this sentence really grab you, make you want to know more, or tell you anything about the story? No. It’s a weak first sentence…boring.

On the night that Mary-Jane hung herself from the oak tree in her back yard, a million stars twinkled in the sky and the moon hung full and white amidst them.

How about now? Do you want to know why she hung herself? Who is Mary-Jane? Why did she hang herself outside? Maybe she didn’t. Maybe she was murdered. See how many thoughts come from that one sentence? You must toss out the bait to readers, then reel them in.

Introduce a character in the first paragraph―your main character if possible. Show us something about him or her. Give us a clue as to where this story is going. A study done a few years ago showed that most successful classic novels began with an interesting sentence containing a pronoun such as ‘he’, ‘she’ or ‘they’.

On the night that she hung herself from the oak tree in her back yard, a million stars twinkled in the sky and the moon hung full and white amidst them.

Now we REALLY want to know who she is. And we want to know why she hung herself.

A first sentence needs to grip your reader like a pit bull and not let go.

First paragraph: The first paragraph needs to reveal something, a hint of the plot. It might only be revealed in that first sentence. Introduce a challenge or conflict. Use the setting or weather to create mood, if appropriate, but stay focused on the character. You want to keep the reader there, in that moment. Be careful you don’t switch them out of the mood.

On the night that she hung herself from the oak tree in her back yard, a million stars twinkled in the sky and the moon hung full and white amidst them. The fields glistened from the evening rain. A storm had raged through and left everything soaked. The barn doors flapped in the restless wind.

While the description above is engaging, it takes the reader away from Mary-Jane. What you want to do is find a way to bring her back into the story so that the reader will want to know more. To know more, they have to keep reading.

On the night that she hung herself from the oak tree in her back yard, a million stars twinkled in the sky and the moon hung full and white amidst them. The fields glistened from the evening rain, as if Mary-Jane had wept a river of tears before slipping the rope around her neck. To the left of her limp body, the barn doors flapped in the restless wind.

Again, the reader is drawn into Mary-Jane’s life and there is a hint of torment and a visual that is vivid and emotional. You can almost see her body hanging from the tree.

If your first sentence is dialogue, make it gripping. The first paragraph rule then defaults to that line of dialogue plus the next paragraph or lines of dialogue. Make them count!

A first paragraph will draw you into the story and make you want to know more.

First page: The first page is the page that the average reader will read in a bookstore and judge your work on. Some readers will read it to determine if this is the next book they’ll read or buy, or if they’ll grab another one from the pile.

In fiction, your first page must have enough action, characterization, dialogue, humor, mystery, adventure or suspense to make the reader turn the next page. That is your goal. You will need to find your balance between narrative and dialogue and introduce a character by giving us some insight into him, her or it, or give us a glimpse of the plot―by foreshadowing or exposing the murder, love interest, humorous incident, adventure to come, etc. Give us at least one conflict―internal or external.

Remember, this is the beginning of your story. You will be introducing characters and then as the story progresses, you’ll develop these characters―their physical descriptions, voice, moods, back stories, relationships to other characters and motives (good or bad) for all their actions. Don’t do a description dump (full body/clothing description) as soon as you introduce a character. Keep your narrative short! Tell us only what we need to know at that time.

First chapter: Make the first chapter count by having enough action and dialogue to keep readers engaged. By the end of this first chapter, a reader should know a few things about the main character and possibly some things about the antagonist or a secondary character. Show us your character's flaws and weaknesses, and their strengths. We should care about your main character in some way. We should know that something is going to happen. We should sense conflict of emotion or external conflicts. Foreshadowing grabs a reader's attention. Keep in mind, the first chapter is your prologue, if you have one.

If you haven't successfully baited the trap or planted enough suspense in this first chapter, a reader is more likely to put the book down and walk away. There is a key element to preventing this. It's called a Chapter Hook, which I'll be explaining in a future post here. Happy writing!

Cheryl Kaye Tardif is a bestselling author who lives in Edmonton, Alberta, Canada. Her novels feature varying elements of suspense, from light mystery in Whale Song to her gripping techno-thriller The River to her paranormal thriller Divine Intervention. Her latest releases are Skeletons in the Closet & Other Creepy Stories and her award winning novelette Remote Control. Cheryl has also branched out into romance, under the pen name Cherish D'Angelo, and Cherish's debut romantic suspense Lancelot's Lady will be releasing on September 27th, 2010. and

My October PopSyndicate KidLit 101 column will be a review of Cheryl's popular "Whale Song." Watch for it!

Eileen Schuh,Canadian writer

Monday, July 19, 2010

"I'll be happy when..."

I learned to read when I was three. I nagged my older sister into bringing books home from school for me to devour.

Perhaps my passion for literature stems from the fact I was raised in isolation on a dirt farm on Alberta’s prairies. There were no televisions, telephones, iPhones, iPods/Pads, or playschools. In fact, there was no electricity. I quickly discovered that books were at least as entertaining as trapping gophers, petting piglets, and building tree forts. Their exciting worlds and colourful people deepened my life and stirred my imagination. It was about then that I decided I would write books.

As I aged, I discovered that writing wasn’t a lucrative career but rather something one must have money to do—a profession somewhat like farming. But, like farming, I decided, these difficulties could be overcome if one possessed a passion for the craft.

“Please, God,” I prayed as education, various paying careers, a marriage, and three children sucked away the years. “If you just help me find the finances to write a book, I will be happy forever. I promise.”

There were small writing successes—a children’s short story, a magazine article, a Journalism diploma. I managed to wangle a few years as a small-town reporter and a newspaper editor. My life took me through a dozen moves and through the decades many half-written books, sketchy stories, diaries, poems, and letters were packed away and forgotten.

The muses, however, never let me forget my passion. “Please, God,” they prayed with me. “Give Eileen the time, the energy, the money, the space to write and she’ll be happy forever. We promise.”

When my youngest turned 25, when the family business finally became self-supporting, when an able secretary finally took my place behind my desk and in front of the phone, I announced to my family and my world, that I, Eileen Schuh, was going to make her childhood dream come true.

Fifty years of pent up stories spewed forth. Words, phrases, settings, characters, and plots. Sunsets, autumn leaves, and azure skies. Page after page. Chapter after chapter. Sequel after sequel. I was writing.

“Please, God,” I prayed as my queries netted rejection after rejection. “If you just help me get one of my books published, I’ll be happy forever. I promise.”

A story resurfaced that had germinated during the time when I was mothering three toddlers. I transcribed it from my mind to my computer. I re-read, researched, re-wrote, and revised. I acquired a Book Marketing Coach--Cheryl K Tardif--and with her able help, I created a cyberspace presence. I learned to Tweet. I established a blog and a website. I joined writers’ groups and forums. I researched publishers and agents. I attended writers’ conferences.

I hesitantly sent out queries to publishers. “Are you interested,” I asked, “in a psychological crime thriller that spans two universes?” Two of the three publishers I emailed it to, rejected it within weeks. Thirteen months later I flicked on my computer, played solitaire until the internet connected, and then opened my yahoo email account and clicked on my first message:

Sorry for the delay. I’m finally getting caught up and I’m pleased to let you know that I would like to accept Schrödinger's Cat for publication by WolfSinger Publications in 2011….

Attached is a
contract.... I look forward to working with you….”

I stared at my monitor. My story would be a book in 2011…a book, with my name on. An ebook as well as a print book—“Schrödinger’s Cat” by Eileen Schuh.

I stared at the surreal email. I made a coffee and ate a candy. I paced. There were tiny little tears. Though I had met many along the way, this journey to fulfill a life-long dream had in essence been a solo journey. In like form, I relished the solitary celebration and savoured my success in quietude.

Not until hours later, when my husband arrived home from work, did I share the news. He looked proud.

I intended my son, Christopher, to be the next one I’d tell. I grabbed his passport from my safe and raced to town. He’d bought a motorcycle and was planning to cross the border on a business road trip to Reno.

I sat across from him in his office and hesitantly laid his passport on the desk. He still had the golden curls and blue eyes with which he’d been born. His warm smile was very familiar. As was his dimple. His chuckle. His grin.

“When are you leaving?” I asked. “When will you be back? Will you have your cell phone? Watch for other drivers. Don’t get lost. Call me.”

He printed his itinerary, scribbled phone numbers on the back. Smiled. He was happy. Excited. He didn’t want me to ruin it by worrying.

I stood to leave. “Drive slow. Watch for deer. Have fun. Call me.” I plodded back to my car, turn the ignition key, and whisper a prayer. “God, keep him safe.”

When I got home, I realized that I forgot to tell Christopher that I’m about to become a published author. I sent him an email.

The next day hubby and I went to our cabin. Our friends invited us next door for the evening. As we walked the path through the budding Saskatoon bushes, I rehearsed my announcement and anticipated their response. I accepted a beer and took a chair by their campfire.

We talked about the long and happy summer days of the not-so-long-ago—when we were younger, our kids were toddlers, and our parents still shared our lives. It was past midnight but the summer solstice twilight was still brushing orange across the western sky when we headed back to our cabin. I looked up at the distant, faint stars. Was heaven up there? “Dear God, please hold those we once touched and loved close to your heart.”

Not until I was in bed did I realize I’d forgotten to tell the neighbours that I was about to become a published author. For how many years had I longed for this moment? “Dear God, I’ll be happy when...” Here I was, with that when present, and suddenly so much other stuff seemed so much more important.

There are many morals to this story. However, the most important lesson I learned is that happiness isn’t derived from outer circumstances but rather bubbles up from within. Do not wait for happiness—reach out and grab it. Create it. Coddle it. Embrace it. Find it in many places.

Have many goals. Many successes. Many people in your life.

Never give up on your dreams.
Be passionate about your pursuits.
Live a full and busy life.

"Schrödinger’s Cat," an adult sci-fi novella will be published in 2011.

Chordelia finds herself straddling two of the alternate realities proposed in Everett’s Many Worlds Theory of Quantum Physics.

The emotional toll of living two diverse lives proves too much. She must decide if she is willing to sacrifice the chance to be with her dying child in order to save her marriage in the other universe.

She thinks she’s planned it well—she’s researched her choices, prepared herself for the consequences, put everything in place. She makes her decision. However....

Life, as it has the propensity to do, strikes back with the dark and unexpected.

WolfSinger Publications, out of Security, Colorado, USA, is a micro-press company that publishes short novels. Their print books are available through online retailers such as, Barnes &, and their ebooks are available from places like (Kindle), Apple (iPad), Kobo and Barnes &, and other ebook

Wofsinger offered contracts on 11 books for 2011.

Wolfsinger is also the parent for two on-line magazines:
The Lorelei Signal
and Sorcerous Signals
as well as the print compilation of both - Mystic Signals.

They have a FaceBook page and a website

Eileen Schuh,Canadian Author
"Schrödinger’s Cat"