Friday, February 29, 2008

Cheryl visits Mexico

Well, this has been an interesting trip. I'll fill you in on all the details when I return, but in a nutshell we went whale watching and saw a small humpback family. We followed the whales out to sea in a tri-maran. Lots of pina coladas! Ole´!

We also had a romantic candlelit dinner on the beach at Los Caletas. We traveled by boat again--a catamaran this time and went to the most beautiful place lit by thousands of candles and torches. It was like being thrown back into the past. It was amazing! Dinner was awesome.

Afterward we headed back to Puerto Vallarta. Lots of music, rum punch and dancing. We sat up top this time. I have to tell you, it's not that easy to dance on an upper deck of a boat that is rocking from side to side. Yes, it was the boat and NOT the rum punch!

Well, I am on a timed internet session, so I'll log off for now.

Adios amigos!

Cheryl Kaye Tardif,

Thursday, February 28, 2008

Judging a book by its...trailer?

Do you recall that great line from Sunset Boulevard where fading silent movie actress Norma Desmond defends her role in the movies? She cites her looks, her expressions and says, “You can’t write that down.”

It’s true. There are feelings one can convey through a single image or look that even the best writers would find hard to describe. So it’s only natural that the trend towards using cinematic tools is now in vogue for bookselling. Book trailers have the power to convey dramatic elements of a story in ways a book jacket cannot.

Author Brenda Coulter disagrees that this is a good method for books however saying that most trailers are simple slideshows with a soundtrack. She also dislikes that so many of the trailers cannot be viewed by a huge percentage of Americans due to dial-up connection. Now, to be fair, Ms. Coulter wrote her opinion two years ago.

The art form has come a long way, baby!

Take the trailer for Ann Patchett’s latest novel Run It shows an aqueous blue background with bubbles continuously floating over images of people, houses on the rich/poor ends of the spectrum and selected descriptive passages from the novel. The singular piano accompaniment to this trailer creates an inviting, if not subtle, undercurrent of mystery and secrets. You could probably view this trailer in a library.

By contrast, viewing author Dan Ronco's novel trailer for Unholy Domain might get you kicked out of the library. It comes at the viewer full stop with fast-paced images of money, guns and Terminator-reminiscent threat, all set to a soundtrack that keeps up the intense back-beat like a Jason Bourne chase. Now, this is a book I want to read AND watch.

Somewhere between these two thematic trailers is my book, Janeology which so hauntingly couples water imagery with hints of dark family secrets trickling down among the generations. The unrelenting tribal drumbeat of the music ratchets-up the tension until you feel like the hairs on your neck stand at attention. If only a CD of the music could play as a reader turns the pages. (Fortunate author that I am, this trailer was created by THE inventor of the novel trailer art form, Kam Wai Yu, who has been developing this art since the 1980s.)

I am intrigued by the very way images, music and ideas come together in less than five minutes to give potential readers a sense of the book. And this new view into book trailers makes me wonder: Will we choose books the same way we choose movies – from a two-minute glimpse? Would you rather go to YouTube to scan several short videos to make your reading selection? Or do you prefer to scan the bookstore new release table and thumb through the pages in hand?

If you're like me, you like doing both.


Karen Harrington is the author of JANEOLOGY, the story of one man’s attempt to understand his wife’s sudden descent into madness and murder.

Tuesday, February 26, 2008

Food and Wine Make It on The Avenue of the Arts

In Philadelphia, a lot of people get their news from a single, out-of-town newspaper. Those folks often turn to blogs or radio for their sports news and to The Broad Street Review for news of the arts. I've always been disappointed that the premier arts source in this town disdained news of Food and Drink as beneath its dignity and while I sympathized with the prejudices and insecurities that prevent the culture-vultures from talking about The First Art, I felt it time to protest. Here's what I wrote:

Dear Editor,

Congratulations on the success of Broad Street Review. It's a brave and wonderful thing you're doing. There is a certain pleasure in connoisseurship, in thoughtful appreciation of the good things, in studying and knowing something well enough to get as much pleasure from your knowledge of it as you do from the thing itself.

There's also a bit of cultural and political statement involved. In an age when mass pleasures like TV grow more feeble and homogeneous, the very act of discrimination becomes a form of protest. And so I am a bit shocked a publication so fervently dedicated to refined appreciation and support of the arts shows such cultivated disdain for the culinary arts. ...

To read more of my diplomatic, persuavive and gentle plea: go to The Broad Street Review itself. For real inspiration on the topic, check out The New Short Course in Wine.

Monday, February 25, 2008

Music in Blog

I woke up this morning thinking of music; the kind of music that is about lyrics. Words strung together with a certain tempo that get stuck in your brain for an hour, a day, or a week.

Last night at the Academy Awards a young couple won an Oscar for their sweet tune, “Falling Slowly”. Given the competition and the magnitude of the performances related to the same, is it any wonder that this pair seemed struck by a bolt of lightening when their names were called.

In the true sense of winning they were the epitome of what we believe in, not the hype, not the self-seeking, not for-old-time-sake, but for the genuine purity of lyrics.

Sometimes I answer questions with a lyric. I find myself in a situation that brings to mind a mood and a song. Sing to me, words to give me hope, and words to stir my heart.

When Marketa Irglova was ushered back onto the stage she used up less than a minute to say thank you to the Academy. Her words were worth noting.

“…and, you know, fair play to those who dare to dream, and don’t give up. This song was written from the perspective of hope, and hope at the end of the day, connects us all, no matter how different we are.”

I am a writer and I like to write about such things as hope. Belly of the Whale is much like the song that won the Oscar. It doesn’t carry a lot of hype, it isn’t like another famous book, and it does not follow in the footsteps of mystery, romance or thriller. Belly of the Whale’s message was also written from the perspective of hope.

There are times when the beauty of simple lyrics outweighs the grandeur of costumes and seventy-six trombones. Like a simple song of hope whose lyrics stay with you throughout the day, Belly of the Whale will touch your heart and resonate inside you long after the book is closed and the pages all read.

The soul’s voice whispers in the early hours of day. Blog about music and lyrics, blog about reading a book. Keep the melody in your head; find the words embedded in your heart.

Blog what you think, see and hear.

Linda Merlino, author, Belly of the Whale
preoder on

Sunday, February 24, 2008

IPods and the Final Push is Nearly Over

Thanks to Ric Wasley for his wonderful post on empty nests and IPods. I would have e-mailed my comments but I don't know his address. Anyhow, three days ago, I acquired my first IPod - a cute little silver thing. Yesterday, my 19 year-old-daughter (who still lives at home, but dreams of leaving when she's finished university and has a real job) taught me how to download CDs onto iTunes (I didn't know iTunes existed until yesterday), and then onto the IPod. It's very cool because I can now listen to those CDs--on my walks, or in my car --that have been neglected for years. My daughter's also responsible for creating my website and is almost as excited about my soon-to-be-released book as I am.

Mercifully, I am nearly finished the final edit of FATAL ENCRYPTION. I've managed nearly 300 pages over the past four weeks and am down to the last 70 or so. It's been fun and exhilerating, but it's only the beginning of the hard work that's to come. Which reminds me, if I ask real nice, she'll help me put up sample chapters and the new jacket cover by this time next week. Stay tuned.

Notes from the Empty Nest

Years ago when my wife and I seemed to be spending every waking hour trying to keep our trio of little rug rats from trashing the house and/or each other, well meaning friends had tried to comfort us by saying, “Ah, yes – but just wait. A few years from now when your kids are grown and gone, you’ll wish you had all of this back.”
The syndrome they were referring to is better known today as the “Empty nest”, and it conjures up visions of two old geezers rocking on the front porch and gazing wistfully at the old swing set rusting in the yard.
Well I hate to be the ‘buster’ of popular myths but it just hasn’t worked out that way.

First off, for the first three years after our little ‘fledglings’ had flown the coop, they kept doing something that made the Empty Nest very difficult to kick in. They kept coming back. With one or more constantly flying off to Europe, California or Australia and then moving back in for 2, 4 or 6 months, the nest was about as empty as a frat house on Free Beer night. The only thing that had really changed since the brood were little rug rats, was that now instead of stocking up on milk and Oreo’s, we found ourselves making trips for Thai take-out and Corona’s and Jack Daniels!

However, after the last of the pizza boxes and tinsel were cleared after the holiday’s this year, my wife and I awoke one frosty January morning and noticed that something was different. For the first time in nearly three decades, we were – alone.

I’ll have to admit that at first it was kind of spooky. No sounds of MTV or size 11 sneakers clumping up and down stairs but gradually we began to find that we were doing things that we had totally forgotten about, like watching a TV program that wasn’t about drugged out rappers or ‘twenty-something relationships. Meals that didn’t have at least one dish that consisted almost entirely of jalapeños and the opportunity to say during the middle of a bad TV night; “Well hello dear - you’re looking awfully cute tonight – what have you been up to for the last thirty years?”

But the thing that surprised me the most - especially having been a musician in my younger days, was that somehow I had missed about 25 – 30 years of music!
No, I don’t mean I’d been locked in dungeon or marooned on a desert island. I’d heard songs on the radio and hummed them while building swing sandboxes and driving kids to college. But they hadn’t really registered. For the most part, I didn’t know the names of them or who sang them. Of if I did – it was only the pop song of the day.
How could that be? How could an old rock and roller give up blasting the best new tunes at 2AM while downing a few ‘cold frosties’? Have you ever gone to turn on the stereo after the last of kids has nodded off and had your wife offer to brain you with a blunt object if they woke up? Well lets just say I got out the habit. But I never really lost my taste for good old ‘kick ass R&R’. And the kids knew that. So this Xmas, they gave the old man his first i-Pod and a gift certificate to the i-tunes store. And best of all – they showed me how to use it all. Thus over the past several months I’ve been going through my second teenage-hood (my wife of course claims that I never left my first one) and have been collecting and playing songs like mad. Oldies, Newbies, folk, rock ,blues –even ‘alternative’ and heavy metal. But especially… all the great stuff that I hadn’t really paid much attention to for the past 30 years. For instance – were you aware that Lynyrd Skynyrd had more songs than, “Free Bird”? Lots more! And now my trusty i-Pod is brimming with them. And that just the tip of the iceberg. I’ve already filled my first 4 Gig i-Pod and am seriously thinking about getting the 20 Gig! And… I can play them whenever I want – and whatever I want (or at least until my wife says, “enough already – play something besides Lynyrd Skynyrd!”)

So for those of you who are currently being driven batty by your own darling brood, I say, “Hang in there. There is life after kids.”

And for those of us who are currently ‘suffering’ through the trauma of the “Empty Nest”, I give you a sympathetic nod – and a big old grin – and say, “Yeah – wink, wink - tough duty, isn’t it.”



Ric Wasley – Author/Musician

• Shadow of Innocence - Kunati - April 2007
• Acid Test - 2004

And please check out my McCarthy Family Mysteries free sample chapters on Amazon and Google!
Baby Boomer article series:

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From Kunati Publishing: SHADOW OF INNOCENCE - The Newport Folk Festival provides a groovy backdrop for this fun and exciting mystery set in the music and drug soaked sixties. The Baby Boomers and everyone else are sure to enjoy this appealing mystery featuring a pair of musician partners in love and danger. Don't miss Shadow of Innocence From Kunati Publishing.
Available now on; Amazon ,Borders, Barnes & Noble and at bookstores everywhere.


Ric Wasley has spent almost forty years wandering through corporate board rooms and honky-tonk bars. He now divides his time between writing mystery novels and observing the really ‘juicy parts’ of the human condition.

Saturday, February 23, 2008

Dream Blogging

Blog about dreams. We all have dreams. That place we go to when we are not in deep sleep, the cross-over place of almost sleeping brings us into another dimension. We spend almost a third of our lives asleep, this is a known fact. What happens to our imagination when we slumber, that nocturnal time when consciousness is shut down?

Sleep takes us on a mystical journey of dreams where people and places collide. What do our dreams tell us? Our task is to listen. What in our waking world causes us to ask questions? Dreams give us the answers. The answers are not orderly. The answers do not come in a structured response.

Dead Aunt Mary invites us to dinner in with seven people we’ve never met and the fare is water and dried prunes. What do we make of this supper party? How does a dream with dead Aunt Mary give us answers?

The ancients believed in dreams. Wars were fought, events foretold and Kings were born out of dreams.

Perhaps Aunt Mary was a person we trusted; maybe she had all the answers. I wrote a novel, my first, based solely on a dream. The seed of that story was planted with my eyes closed. Dreams have a way of opening our minds to many possibilities. How do we feel after a significant dream? What emotion is present? Does our ego over ride the interpretation of a dream? All of these questions arise.

I am not blogging about dreams with the intention of suggesting that we make life decisions based on them, but more realistically, that we give respect to dreams. Honor the nights we find our self at the dinner table of a long demised relative who has invited a hodge-podge of outsiders. Perhaps sitting down to dinner with the unknown would force me, or any of us, to make conversation, to pay attention, to be on our best behavior, and to garner wisdom.

Seven is a significant number; it heralds a cycle which acknowledges lessons learned. Aunt Mary epitomizes someone we felt comfortable with and it would not matter how many strangers there were at her table. Having Aunt Mary as hostess makes it all okay. Take this into real life and perhaps something we fear is not as ominous as we think. Someone we trust is guiding us and we have to learn to make peace with the outcome, find our place in terra incognita.

A dream blog can be a wake up call. Set our alarm for tomorrow and we may find our self caught in a “ground hog day” scenario. Do it over until you get it right. This may never happen on the realistic plane but could recur in dream after dream until we recognize that we must face a fear, or an ingrained habit of denial that has dogged our heels. Whatever it is, dreams are our friends disguised in vignettes and characters that seem confused with our recent activities.

We can blog about our dreams and view them as a response to our souls need for nurturing. Feed me the soul asks…your dreams will tell you how and when.

Blog what you see, hear and think…

Talk later…
Linda Merlino, author: Belly of the Whale
preorder in hardcover on

Friday, February 22, 2008

Getting frisked at Edmonton International Airport

Hola, amigos!

Today, I'm on a great adventure with my husband. We left the house this afternoon and headed to the airport. We're going to Puerto Vallarta, Mexico!! Ole!

First stop, Edmonton International Airport. Met a couple of nice gals in airport security who decided that I was very special. So I was selected out of all the tens of people going through security to get the special attention of a body pat down. :) Well, Louise, the gal who got closer to me than any gal ever has, was very nice and very polite.

And of course, me being the "serious" person that I am, had to have a bit of fun. I mean, there's nothing like being frisked in the airport. When Louise asked if I had any medical devices and I told her I left my wooden leg at home. When she got to my neck, I asked for a neck massage. :)

Somewhere in the middle of all this, I mentioned that I had been in the Chapters store right across from them recently for a book signing and watched a woman get patted down and metal detectored. :) The next thing I knew I was shaking the two gals' hands and giving out bookmarks. I really wanted to give Louise a signed copy of Whale Song. I have extra copies of all my books in my carry-on so I can give some away during the trip. But airport security are not allowed to accept gifts. DRAT!

Oh, and for anyone traveling across any borders, they've changed the rules--again. So don't think you know exactly what to put in those bins. Nothing major, but boy I thought we were so organized, only to discover that half the things we put in the bins were not quite right.

After I was done being frisked, I told Louise and her supervisor (sorry, I didn't get your name) that the Chapters bookstore had all of my books.

Louise? I checked. There's an autographed copy of Whale Song on the top shelf of the Canadian books. :) I hope you get it.

Now we're waiting for our flight...Regina first, then on to Puerto Vallarta.

I will have to brush up on my limited Spanish.

Dos margaritas, por favor. Dos mohitos, por favor. Gracias!!! ;-)

Cheryl Kaye Tardif,
reporting live from the Edmonton International Airport.

A Suggestion for Senator Clinton

Like a lot of Democrats, I've gone from smug about our party's chances to nervous about the possibility of it tearing itself apart before Election Day. The debate between Clinton and Obama isn't much of a cause for worry: aside from some differences about health care and questions about who got on the anti-war bus first, they are pretty much in agreement on the issues. What difference exists lies in the degree of specificity that the candidates bring to their visions. Clinton is a policy wonk, Obama is a charismatic.
Unfortunately, the debate has been hijacked by folks on the sidelines. We did have a few blissful months when the pundits were punditing that America had finally made it: we were now (mostly) over our racial peculiarities and willing to see each other as people. Some folks had even raised the question of why, in a post-racial America, a man who is half-white and half-black should be called black. There's certainly some history behind that way of categorizing people, but there's also a growing feeling that it just ain't right.
In fact, if we had primary elections based entirely on ideas, the whole issue of race wouldn't be raised at all. But there are observers-both white and black- who have something to gain from the preservation of the distinction between the races.

And so it's impossible for Clinton to criticize Obama about his lack of specifics without African-American politicians characterizing the criticism as racial. Obama, on his part, doesn't have to criticize Clinton; there are people doing it for him. (It would be nice if older and wiser heads in the Black community could advise some restraint, but that advice doesn't seem either forthcoming or likely to be heard.)

So, instead of debate this year, we Democrats are likely to be treated to a sullen anger-fest. Either white or black voters get to feel bullied and somebody stays home on Election Day. President McCain, anyone?

I've been feeling pretty bad about this-feeling that entrenched interests fighting over their piece of the lifeboat were going to drown us all. Then this morning, I got an email from a fellow named Stan Spitzer. Stan is about a million and half years old and he builds sailboats for a living. His sailboats have proved to be about as durable as he is so even though he doesn't make many of them, you see them around a lot.
Stan's thinking on boats has been revolutionary for so long that radical thinking is almost a habit with him. He has a suggestion for Hillary. He thinks that she should take to the high ground. Stan thinks she should open the next debate with:

" the interest of what is best for the
Democratic Party and, what I feel is in the best interest of the United
States of America, that if by any chance I should be your nominee, I will
ask Barack Obama to be my vice president AND, if Barack wins the nomination, and asks me, I will proudly be his vice presidential running mate.

I think this debate should now be considered a press conference and we
should take your questions. I am going to let Barack do most of the
responding since he says it so much better than I do."

Aside from coming out looking like an unselfish patriot, a move like this could secure both Obama's future and her own. With the sniping stilled, the Democrats win in a walk-look for at least 60% of the popular vote. Eight years of good governance on the part of either one of them could virtually deliver the nomination and the election to the other.

One of the things I like about Stan's saliboats -(hey're called Rhodes22's) is that a person feels secure in them. They get you where you want to go. Wouldn't you love to that feeling about the election?

Lynn Hoffman, author of bang BANG, a novel about another woman who does something audacious and wins and The New Short Course in Wine

Wednesday, February 20, 2008

2007 Book Cover of the Year Contest


The voting page for 2007 BOOK COVER OF THE YEAR at is now ready, and WHALE SONG is awaiting votes.

Every voter will be entered in a drawing for the winning title.

Voting is simple, and the instructions are on the voting page at:

Whale Song was May's Book Cover of the Month, so just scroll down to hit and click on Vote for Whale Song!

Voting will run through APRIL 15th!

Good luck and thank you!

~Cheryl Kaye Tardif,
author of Whale Song (2007 Kunati Books)

Monday, February 18, 2008

Promise in a blog

Blog about promises, blog about a wedding.

Two people I did not know were married on Saturday evening. I went to their celebration as a guest of a guest and from my non-partial view point, I observed more than just an exchange of vows.

By way of wishing both the bride and groom a long life together, I was sincere, but it occurred to me that perhaps they did not have a clue what the whole thing meant.
The ritual of marriage is based on promise. A promise being the one thing in life, you can not break. But wait, pause the camera and look around; there and over there lay so many broken promises, more in fact than the amount of confetti thrown at the bride and groom.

So what of those promises?

Did the young couple with joined hands at Saturday’s wedding take a course on how “not” to go back on their word? Both were children of long term marriages and their parents, in turn were the same. This bride and groom had role models. Do they have the inside scoop on how to sustain marriage?

Is a person like me, child of divorce and parent of divorce incapable of knowing what they know?

Asked once, this very question, I responded by saying that if after marriage you wished to bring children into this world then you must be absolutely sure that you would and could love each other forever, no matter what, till death do you part.
But those words were not spoken on Saturday; something less morbid replaced that phrase. The words exchanged implied love forever but no shadow of demise as the end of the union.

Weddings always bring out the tears in me. The music alone raises the hair on my arms. I am acutely aware of the words spoken; aware of the promises being made. One of the readings, my favorite, speaks of love being patient and kind.

I do not believe that there is a formula that can be mixed up like a potion and given to the newly married couple. Their fate is in their own hands. They can learn from those who came before but only the two of them can keep the promises made.

I am hopeful and optimistic about the making of promises. I do not make them easily, but when I do they are etched in stone.

Blog what you think, what you hear and what you see.

Linda Merlino,author, Belly of the Whale
preorder on amazon at a great price

Sunday, February 17, 2008

The Numbers Game, and Is It All Bad for Authors??

Cheryl's interesting post about why her books aren't in all the stores prompted me to rummage through my file folder for further stats on the state of publishing. This info came from someone on another chat list who'd posted what she'd read in Publishers Weekly. These are 2004 stats, and they state that Nielsen Bookscan tracked sales of 1.2 million books in the U.S. Of those 1.2 million, 950,000 sold few than 99 copies. Another 200,000 sold fewer than 1,000 copies. Only 25,000 books sold more than 5,000 copies. Fewer than 500 sold more than 100,000 copies. And only 10 books sold more than a million copies each.

Whew, I've already surpassed tha 950,000 book category, and hardly anyone knows who I am. There's hope the future, whether I land a contract with one of those big six publishing conglomerates or not. And here's a big reason.

PMA, the Independent Book Publishers Association is an organization for independent publishers of all sizes. Established in 1983, it now has over 4,000 members. According to a PMA article written in 2003, there are over 80,000 independent publishers in the U.S. whose combined revenue was $30 billion that year. Independents were growing at a rate of 22% per year, and this was five years ago. On the whole, independent presses are doing just fine. The internet has levelled the playing field a little bit by allowing us small guys to reach out to millions of people.

The big six might not be available to most of us, but there are plenty of other options. And as Cheryl wisely pointed out, it's a matter of going out and finding them. Publishing and sales opportunities are there. It's up to us to make the most of them. By the way, if any of you want to learn more about PMA go to Lots of interesting stuff there.

Friday, February 15, 2008

Emanual Cardoso Cooks Asparagus

Deep in the middle of the novel bang BANG, there's this guy Cardoso. He's not really in the center of the action, but until he is, we watch him cook a seductive dinner for the woman of his dreams. Her name is Concetta, Connie and she's radically candid-open, that is, a woman incapable-no, not interested in- the ordinary deceits that make ordinary life possible.
So he, disabled he, cooks her asparagus. Little skinny phallic asparagus. It's not exactly a dirty joke, it's just a pointer. Here's how it goes:
He picks some really skinny spears, three-quarters of a pencil, breaks off the woody part. He puts some water in a broad shallow pan and a steamer basket over the water. The 'ragus goes in as soon as the water boils, cover goes on. Two minutes, the crunch is soft, yielding but still fresh and live, just like, well never mind. Then the whole pan goes in the sink and the cold water rushes over and the sulfur smell is washed down the drain. Cardoso, who's now thinking about Connie so intensely that it's hard for him to remember the ordinary thing that he wants to do. But the green reminds him and he hits the dried pan with a shredded garlic comma and some butter and a squirt of olive oil from this little cylinder that would remind him of something if he weren't immersed in the dairy-tree smell coming off the pan as it heats and the cold bright green hits it with a bitty squeal.
Shaking the pan the pan's shaking him back roasting browns getting to them both. A spoonful A of his forearm and then out and on to a plate.
Salt. By God salt. There's a Pinot Blanc from this German Frog called Trimbach and he doesn't pour it in the pan, but in the glass and he looks at her and she's laughing like a crazy person who's used to being nuts, no big deal and he puts the plate between them and she reaches for a spear and smiling wickedly bites the damn head off.

Lynn Hoffman, author of The New Short Course in Wine and of course, the novel bangBANG.

I used to say: 'When I grow up, I want to be an author.'

When I was young I always thought, 'When I grow up, I want to be an author.' At about 3 or 4, I was caught scribbling lines in my Dr. Seuss book. When my mother asked me what I was doing, I told her I was writing the story.

At about 14, I took my first writing job. I was a journalist for a small newspaper in BC. I made $5.00/week.

At 16, I wrote my first novel, took it to school to show my LA teacher and someone broke into my locker and stole the manuscript. This was before MS Word! I had typed it out on my mother's typewriter. The only copy. I was devastated.

When I graduated high school, I knew I needed a career that paid money...and I knew that a new writer--even published--doesn't make much. So off I went to hairdressing school. At the age of 23, I owned my own salon, becoming the youngest salon owner in BC at that time. And between cutting and perming, I wrote a Health & Beauty column for a military newspaper.

I got married and moved to the east coast. There, I took a Journalism & Short Story Writing course and graduated with Highest Honours and a 96% average. I went on to write another novel.

Shortly after my daughter was born, we moved to Vancouver, BC, and I became a motivational speaker for a well-known international company. Every week, I held 3-4 sessions where I spoke to hundreds of people. I was dedicated to helping them overcome certain obstacles in their lives. I loved this job--and it became a way of life for me and it also involved writing. I loved seeing people transform, seeing their lives so enriched, and it challenged me to be a better speaker every week.

After almost 2 years with this company, I had some health issues plus another opportunity, and I made one of the hardest decisions of my life. I decided to leave Vancouver, and my job, and my family moved to Edmonton, AB. Before I left, everyone from one of my weekly sessions gathered together and gave me a going away party. I was very torn between wanting to stay and continuing to help motivate these people or leaving.

The move to Edmonton turned out to be the best thing--for me and my husband. After homeschooling my daughter for a year, I decided to go into home childcare so I could stay at home with her. At the same time, I wrote 2 children's picture books and illustrated them. I had them printed and bound into prototypes, but was unable to find a publisher. I continued with childcare for over 15 years.

During the last 5 years of this career, I began a childcare consulting business and then wrote and published The Edmonton Childcare Directory. This lasted a year. Then I wrote a romance novel and newsletters about my dayhome. I sent the latter to all our neighbors. And in the back of my mind, I kept saying, 'When I grow up, I want to be an author.'

I quit childcare and went on to be a Pampered Chef consultant. I really enjoyed the parties and cooking in front of people. I loved it. I loved visiting with adults. I was still doing this when I wrote my first novel, but once it took off, I quit Pampered Chef.

I am now a full-time author with 3 bestsellers--Whale Song, The River and Divine Intervention. And I couldn't be happier. I am doing something that makes me feel so fulfilled, I am never short for ideas. I have a list of books I want to write.

I live in Edmonton now, where I am considered to be a bit of a "celebrity". It is fun seeing my name and photo on the front cover of a newspaper or watching myself on TV or listening to a radio interview. But even that little natural 'high' is nothing compared to the joy I feel when I complete a book. Or when I hear back from fans.

I always used to say, 'When I grow up, I want to be an author.' I guess you could say... I finally grew up. :)

I invite you to check out my novels. If you read and review any of them, please let me know and I'll write about it on my blogs and link to your site/blog.

~Cheryl Kaye Tardif, bestselling author of Whale Song, The River and Divine Intervention

Thursday, February 14, 2008

Derek vs Harry contest

It’s been almost 6 months now since Recycling Jimmy was published. It felt great to hit that particular milestone but in truth that was just the beginning of the challenge; a bit like emerging from the rapids and spotting the waterfall ahead. If you don’t believe me, take a look at this article by the excellent Derek Armstrong. Scary indeed, and as Derek points out, the most important (if not only) tool in the author’s box is branding. This is something I was told very early on in the process, something that has been pounded into me time and time again until the publisher was sure that it had sunk in. Must admit, it’s kind of fun to watch now as a new batch of Kunati authors are taken on; drill Sergeant Derek whipping the recruits into shape. Feel a bit like Richard Geer, driving off on his motor bike to go and collect Deborah Winger from the factory. Trouble is, unlike Mr Mayonaise, things aren’t quite so straight forward for me. It’s this branding thing see. Do you be yourself and hope that that’s enough or do you try and be something you’re not and run risk of getting sussed? Pick the wrong costume and you could end up marginalising yourself and shutting out a large percentage of potential readers. Judging by Derek’s picture on the Foreward blog, he went for the ‘terminator’ look; rogue robot author sent from the future to destroy Harry Potter (sorry kids). Now there’s a death match worth paying to see.

Recycling Jimmy

Wednesday, February 13, 2008

Why doesn't every bookstore carry my books?

Is it true that once you're published by a traditional royalty-paying publisher your books will be in all the bookstores across Canada and the US?

The answer Many writers believe that this is the big advantage to being traditionally published. But it's a myth.

Since my first novel was published in 2003, I have often been asked why my novels are not in every bookstore across North America. There are a few reasons for this, actually, but one of the main reasons is that the book industry just doesn't work like that. Yes, you'll certainly see the top 25 or so bestsellers in every store. These are big name authors who have proven time and time again that their books sell by the truckloads, and the 1 or 2 breakout authors whose book flies off the shelf at record speeds may be among them.

Believe me--I would be quite happy (and possibly a bit manic) to see my novels in every bookstore. It is a partnership between so many divisions of the publishing industry that helps increase a book's availability. I know one thing for sure, there are thousands of authors whose books have less exposure than my novels.

My publisher has been writing articles for Foreword Magazine, an industry standard for the book world, and his latest article touched on something I have believed since day one. If I want my books to sell, I have to do whatever I can to 'move' them off the shelves. I owe it to myself. Every author does.

The following is my reply to my publisher's latest article on Foreword's website:

In the years (okay, decades) that I've been researching the book industry, I've heard these statistics many times. And they're so true. I've also heard how publishers in the US are publishing nearly 200,000 new titles a year. This sheds some light on why my 3 novels aren't on every bookstore shelf. Can you imagine the size the bookstore would have to be to accomplish shelving every title? But it is a common assumption with aspiring or newly published authors that their books will be everywhere, in every store automatically. That's just not the case.

Today's authors have to take on the role of marketing even more than ever if they want to succeed. You can't wait for the sales to happen; you have to go out and get them. Book signings are a plus. I love doing them, meeting people and talking to fans. But most authors, including me, can't afford to tour all across the country 2-3 times a year. And publishers certainly can't pay for all of their authors to do so either.

I was the first author from Kunati Books to hold a virtual book tour (VBT). For one month, I blogged, wrote articles, answered intervews, spoke on radio shows--I loved it. VBT's are becoming more popular every year, and I believe that's where author tours are heading. Even bestselling author Margaret Atwood knows the trials of traveling; she invented the LongPen, a device that signs books with the author in one city and readers in another. I've signed up for that too.

I embrace the marketing of my novels and I am excited to do so. With three novels published, I am constantly searching for new ways, new ideas, and the majority of them involve online marketing. From my own experience, I can say that being computer savvy is a huge advantage as more and more authors are turning to internet marketing. Authors experienced in web design, HTML code, navigating the internet, and those who blog regularly and update their websites routinely have a headstart. I believe in working smarter, not necessarily harder.

Selling books is a partnership between everyone involved--author, agent, publisher, distributor, booksellers...they each have their role, and the common one is to sell books. Today's authors have to be bold, daring, open to learning, open to selling, persistent, and driven. That's how you become one of the 2.1% of authors who sell more than 5000 copies.

If you'd like a better understanding of the book industry, please read my publisher's article:
Staggering Statistics in Book Publishing can Read Like a Stephen King Horror Novel. Is There Any Hope for Authors and Publishers?

I invite you to leave a comment here and on the Foreword page.

What do you think about these statistics and the book industry's future?

~Cheryl Kaye Tardif,
bestselling author of Whale Song, The River and Divine Intervention


Writers Dave Diotalevi and Karen Harrington weigh in.

Karen, this whole Valentine thing has been taken out of a man's hands. Companies are trying to sell us ideas and products and force us to fit in to a mold.

Well, Dave, maybe the “sell” tactic has been ineffective. The U.S. Greeting Card association estimates that 85% of all Valentine’s cards are purchased by WOMEN.

Sure, Karen--you women are giving them to EACH OTHER! You think a piece of cardboard with a couple of words on it, some sparkles, and a painted flower is worth 5 bucks. That’s a coupla beers...I mean, please break out of that trance you’ve been lulled into.

Come on, Dave. Every man I meet tells me he needs a woman to be specific and direct. Valentine’s is just one more way a couple – not just the guy - can have a specific and direct objective: to celebrate each other’s love. And it doesn’t have to cost a lot. Where has your sense of romance gone?

I really don't need to be told when and where and how to be romantic. I just let the ol' Diotalevi charm waft its way to a lady--and then the MAGIC happens!

Now, you’re reminding me of an ex-boyfriend. We had our names made into a heart puzzle shape – Karen + Steve. When we broke up, I handed him the “Steve” part. To which he replied, “but that’s not very romantic.” Yeah, magical.

Please give me Steve’s number so I can congratulate him on the close call. The puzzle--WHOSE idea was it to spend Steve’s hard-earned cash on that puzzle? YOURS! Because you had some prefabricated film concept of two pieces separated but whole. You bought into some advertisement while poor Steve was probably right there--the REAL goods and not some symbol--ready to wait on you hand and foot just because you’re gorgeous. He never saw the portrait you keep of yourself in the attic I take it.

Actually, I just wanted the name puzzle because I thought it would look nice on our mantle.

Companies are out to make a buck--admit it. They want a guy to try and keep up with an image on TV or a magazine regardless of how he truly feels. That artificial guilt is what drives guys nuts and then makes a woman feel like she's being neglected, taken for granted, and undervalued.

Sure, sure, media and movies contribute to romantic ideals. But what I want to know is exactly when did celebrating Valentine’s Day officially jump the shark? The Valentines exchange of love messages has existed since poor St. Valentine’s himself was martyred on February 14, 269 AD. I mean, a MAN started this whole thing. So the modern man doesn’t have time to write personal love messages anymore and he gets Hallmark to help him. What’s the big deal?

Some of St. V’s captors probably had mystical visions of what he was going to put men through for the next millennia and said, “Time to teach this guy a lesson!” Time to write is one thing, but a written note is never right with a woman: it’s too short, you didn’t say you love me enough, when are you going to stop writing like a doctor--it goes on and on. But Hallmark--then you get ooohhs and aaahhhs--for 5 bucks again.


Ouch! Well, I guess she of the “you didn’t say you love me enough” era didn’t realize you were going to turn out to be such a prolific fiction writer, huh? Oh, and it was the prison guard’s daughter to whom St. Valentine wrote his last affectionate message – “Love, from your Valentine.” I’m pretty sure there wasn’t any media propaganda back then forcing his pen to the page.

Okay. Okay. Got me on that point. Maybe it would have been better if the guard’s daughter had slipped Val a key to his shackles as a sign of her devotion for the first Valentine’s day! Now THERE’S a gift!

But men don't need a special day to commemorate some unattainable ideal of love. Love is something that can be shown constantly without some "authority" legislating it in the media.

Men don’t need a special day? I beg to differ. As evidence, I call my first witness from that timeless classic Be My Valentine, Charlie Brown.

Violet: Charlie Brown, we've been feeling awfully guilty about not giving you a Valentine this year. Here, I erased my Valentine from this one. I'd like you to have it.

Schroeder: Hold on there! What do you think you're doing? Who do you think you are? Where were you yesterday when everyone else was giving out Valentines? And now you have the nerve to come around one day later and offer him a used Valentine just to ease your conscience. Well let me tell you something - Charlie Brown doesn't need your –

Charlie Brown: Don't listen to him! I'll take it!

So, Karen, you’re teaching me about offering unique and special Valentines by quoting an old Valentine ABOUT a recycled Valentine? And do you wonder why men are confused, scared, and cowed into digging that two beers--I mean--five bucks out of their pockets and buying a card that is embarrassing as the female cashier reads it and says, “Awwww!”

All I can say to you, Karen, is...Happy Valentine’s Day!


Well, thanks, Dave. I guess what it comes down to is this: If every guy or girl expressed thoughts of appreciation and love on their own, we wouldn’t need a row of cards to do it for us. But as writers, we really don’t want people to stop buying other people’s words, do we?

Happy Valentine’s to you, too, Charlie Brown…I mean, Dave.

Dave Diotalevi is the author of MIRACLE MYX

Karen Harrington is the author of JANEOLOGY

Tuesday, February 12, 2008

Snow Blogging into the Past

Snow blog or snow plow, here in the Northeast tonight you can do both. There is such stillness outside that the only sound is an occasional rattle of tree and wind.

These are the times you can go inside your head and find all manner of thoughts warming themselves around the campfire. In my case, the wood burning stove. Snow blogging doesn’t have to be about the weather because this precipitation doesn’t induce brain freeze.

My mind mellows out and meanders into thinking about a fierce snowstorm we had many years ago. The snow was piled so high that the kids could climb onto the roof of the house. I spent a lot of time that day, playing snow cop, talking them down and pretending not to be amused.

Today I regret being so parental. What fun I missed.

There are no children here anymore. They’ve grown and moved away. The snow piles up on the roof tonight, but there are no footprints zigzagging across it. Snow blogging makes me melancholy for not taking the time to savor the laughter of those children at their winter game. Snow blogging reminds me that I let those unexpected times slip by, too busy cooking, too busy worrying, too busy shoveling, and too busy to put on a hat, gloves and boots and make the trek to higher ground.

Snow blogging finds me longing for that snowbound day of the past when the kids were still here. I’d be less concerned about getting to the next day and the day after that. I’d fall backward in the snow and wave my arms and legs outward and inward, creating a snow angel that could be seen by the children standing on the roof. I imagine that their memory would be of mom’s snow angel, rather then of mom’s “no television” unless you come in right now.

Snow blogging reminds me that I need to lighten up. Maybe when the grandkids come, and there is a snowstorm, I’ll put on my boots, mittens and hat and stay outside directing their small feet in the art of climbing up roofs where they can see the world from a different vantage point.

Blog what you hear, what you think, what you see…

Post Script:
February 8-17th WBCA’s-Think Pink- is in full swing. Women’s college basketball is wearing pink this week to help raise money and awareness for breast cancer. Support this worthy cause…stay aware, stay healthy, fight-the-fight.

New Subscribers contest! Wanna win? :)

I love giving away prizes! So I decided to give away lots of prizes in the next few months.

This month, I have a contest that is open to anyone who subscribes to my monthly newsletter. And I often do spontaneous things for my subscribers and I plan to do even more this year.

Your email addy is safe with me; I don't bog you down with junk mail. My Divine News newsletter often gives you information about special events first. It's an easy way to check out what I'm doing, what novel I'm working on and more.

And it automatically registers you for special subscriber only contests.

So sign up for my Divine News newsletter now and check out this month's Subscriber Only contest!

Go to: and in top left box, fill in your name and email addy and hit "OK".

~Cheryl Kaye Tardif,
Bestselling author of Whale Song
(ISBN: 1601640072 or 9781601640079 - 2007, Kunati Books)

Monday, February 11, 2008

Guest blogger April Robins talks about Pen Names

I came across an author on and invited her to post an article here on The Write Type. I hope you enjoy.
~Cheryl Kaye Tardif, author of Whale Song

Picking a Pen Name

We had our first book started, “I’ll Tuck You in, Deer.” In fact the writing was going pretty fast. Everyone was committed and the edits were flying between me and the girls. I realized that, when I submitted the book, an Author’s name would show on the front cover. Would it be my every day, common name or something more spectacular that everyone could remember?

We decided for the safety of the children to go with pen names. After all, we are going to be famous someday. Back to reality, the last name for everyone was established. It would be Robins. My husband had named our farm Robin Falls because it has a waterfall that flows when it rains, otherwise it is bone dry. Also, we are blessed with every bird possible for this region, especially robins. So everyone decided that they wanted to be a Robins even our married daughter. I was going to be Elizabeth Rachel Robins. I asked my daughter what was her pen name. Her husband suggested that she go by his grandmother’s name Ruby. My daughter-in-law wanted to be called what her mother had started to name her, Celeste.

There I was surrounded by jewels and the heavens, and I was simply Beth. I did research and found that there was already a writer name Elizabeth Robins. So who would I be? I started thinking that my birthday was in April. I would be April. Then I went on line and picked another name from a listing of baby names. I found Rachelle which is often shortened to Rachel. So I was April Rachelle Robins.

Then my husband started to fill in writing for our daughter who was now the mother of a newborn. He decided to be F. Jay Robins. I asked him what the F stood for, and he told me he was going to keep everyone guessing. Initially we were going to be “Three Robins and a Jay Bird”, so that is where he got the Jay.

Everyone is happy with their alias. There are always pros and cons to every writing decision. My grandson asked me the other day why I used a pen name. He said no one knows that his grandma writes children’s books since Robins is not his last name. How sweet that he wanted to brag about his grandma.

Think about it, what would your pen name be?

April Robins, guest blogger


A Q&A about the central character in the novel JANEOLOGY.

Is Jane the heroine of JANEOLOGY?

She is actually an anti-heroine if you consider that she commits the murder that sets the story in motion. But like many stories, you may find that though you cannot excuse her actions, you have sympathy for her because of the life that created her.

Why did you pick that name for her?

I don’t actually recall how it came to be. But when I was thinking up various titles for the book, I remember thinking how I could use Jane for Jane-e-ology (which rhymes with genealogy) as an apt description of the book – the story is the history or study of Jane.

What does Jane look like?

She is from Texas so her hair is always naturally highlighted, especially around her face. Her eyes are blue, clear and confident. In many other ways, she is your typical pretty American mother who looks worn out at Wal-Mart, but who cleans up to a nine if she’s going to a party.

What is her occupation?

She was an ER nurse before she had her kids. Then she had the toughest job in the world: a stay-at-home mom.

Who does she love? Why?

Jane loves her husband, Tom. That is certain. He has drawn out her softer side, which wasn’t really nurtured in her childhood. I think this is why she was attracted to him.

Does this person love her?

Immensely. This is the heartbreak of the story – loving someone whose mind is no longer her own. How do you love someone who doesn’t really exist anymore? This is what her husband grapples with.

Tell us about her family.

This question makes me smile. Why? Because it is the heartbeat of the book. JANEOLOGY is the story of Jane’s family. The chapters alternate through past and present and reveal eight of her ancestors. Who they were, what they did and how they were raised all trickled down into Jane’s DNA. To say anymore is to begin writing the story for you. Suffice to say, ask yourself about your own family. You would have a story about your mother, your father, your grandmother, your grandfather and so forth. These are the stories that make up JANEOLOGY.

Where is she from?

She is from Texas, born and raised. And it shows. There’s a certain can-do moxie about her spirit. This spirit propels her in both good and bad directions.

Does her hometown affect her attitude?

Perhaps. Texans have a certain wide open attitude. That there is enough room – physically and mentally – to do things in a big way. So, yes, I think that living in Texas must have affected her worldview.

What does she want out of life?

To be known. To have one person really understand her.

What's her biggest secret?

Like most people, she has two secrets: one from childhood and one from adulthood. Her childhood secret is that her mother once abandoned her at a grocery store. And her adult secret is that she had murderous/post-partum impulses before she acted upon them.

Did you write more than one story about her?

Actually, yes. I wrote Jane from several perspectives and ages. One of those – Jane at age nine – appears in the novel. And it is one my favorite chapters in the entire book because of the way her innocence begins to bend.

How would she describe you?

If she were to describe my day job as a stay-at-home mom she would say, “I completely understand what a tough job it is. Call me if you want to go garage- saling next weekend.”
If she were to describe my job as a novelist she would say, “You are too sympathetic to my husband. Do you realize all the things you DIDN’T see about him? Don’t ever call me.”

What else should readers know about Jane?

Jane is a complex, dark, hurting individual. She surfaced in my writing because of all the tragic stories I have heard about mothers who kill and my quest to understand why and how this was possible. I believe I gleaned a few answers to this question by knowing her.

Is JANEOLOGY available now?

It will be released in April, but you can pre-order it now.

Where can we find more information about JANEOLOGY?

Visit my website:

Soul Writing...

Blog about soul, that’s what I was thinking today. But how do you do that? We talk about soul, things like: soul food, he’s got soul, music from the soul and other such phrases. But, what does soul mean?

This thought occurs to me that soul is the very center of creativity, that when we deny soul we deny self-expression. We live linear lives, inside the box and color inside the lines. If that’s the case then from an early age most of us we’re taught to bypass the soul.

Soul is what we are supposed to be, not what we are told to be. To use a cliché: We need to get back to the soul. In some beliefs the soul never dies. That’s heavy. But something so important must be immortal. So perhaps we have immortal souls.

To blog about soul means to go inside and search for it; talk to our soul, ask it what it needs. If you get up every day and are doing your souls bliss then you are on target.

Soul is passion. For me writing is my passion and each day that I do that, my soul sings. This is food for my soul.

What kind of diet does your soul thrive on? I have a sense that perhaps we need to feed our souls. We feed our bodies, often with the wrong things; junk food for one. Our diet can be healthy or a killer. Fried foods, diet sodas, coffee and lots of white sugar can lead to disease and malfunctions. So while you are talking to your soul today, think long and hard about how to nourish it. Make an exercise of doing what gives you joy. If it doesn’t pay the bills, maybe someday it will or realign your life to make it so.

Don’t continue to deny your soul because you can always pick out those people who do. They see the glass half empty and the negative in most everything. Their soul has shrunk and barely exists. There is still time, if you are reading this you are still on the planet. There is no limit to being whom and what we are meant to be.

Blog what you hear read and think.

Preorder Belly of the Whale in hardcover on
Thanks...Linda Merlino

Sunday, February 10, 2008

Read Any Good Books Lately?

Few things make me happier than reading a good book. It's wonderful to discover a terrific author whose work I hadn't read before, and there are plenty of new and well-established authors I have yet to read in all sorts of genres. One of my latest finds is Ray Banks. Since I've been writing reviews for fun (but not profit, alas), I thought I'd share some of them on this blog, from time to time. So here goes.

Saturday's Child
By Ray Banks

Ex-con and unofficial PI Callum Innes has no choice but to help gang lord Morris Tiernan find an employee who’s disappeared with some of Morris’s money. But Tiernan’s nasty son, Mo, has sinister plans for Cal, when the time is right.

The badly beaten man left for dead in this novel is only a subplot. The main story is Cal’s quest to find the employee and figure out how he’s going to stay out of trouble while doing so. The police think he’s responsible for the beating, and every time Cal gets a little closer to finding the missing employee something violent happens.

There’s plenty to like about this fast paced novel. The dialogue’s terrific and the author’s narrative descriptions are amazing. Check out Cal’s sparring match with his friend, Paulo, on pages 109 to 112. Wow. Also strong are Cal’s and Mo’s voices. The story’s told from two points of view, both first person and in present tense, yet it’s easy to identify who’s speaking simply by the language used. Of course, Mo doesn’t have much of a vocabulary beyond the usual four-letter assortment.

Although Cal’s not the world’s smartest protagonist, he is an intriguing character. A down-on-his-luck man addicted to tobacco and alcohol is a stereotype, sure, but I rooted for this guy. Despite his many mistakes and lack of common sense, Cal wants to do a little better, be a little better. Yet for every step he takes forward, he falls back two. And still he doesn’t pack it in.

Great books aren’t just about engaging plots and interesting characters. They’re about emotion. Emotion in the story and an emotional response from the reader. SATURDAY’S CHILD certainly got a response from me, which was why I wanted more from the ending. To explain further might give too much away. So, read the book and enjoy.
Fatal Encryption coming soon

Friday, February 08, 2008

Blast From My Past: "You are getting sleeepy..."

Today, my Blast From My Past takes me back to high school a few years ago. Okay, a couple of decades (now I really feel old!) So here's the setup...

What do Bermuda and George M. Dawson High School in BC have in common? Well, I was hypnotized in both places.

[Disclaimer: I may have gotten the hypnotists' names mixed up. I mean, they're darned close--Reveen and Romane. Also, remember...I was hypnotized. I was not responsible for my actions. Really!]

It started in Bermuda, about 1979. My best friend Annmarie and I sneaked in to see a performance of the amazing Reveen, a world renowned hypnotist. I say "sneaked" because we were underage. You had to be 18; we were 16. I had always been very curious about anything remotely paranormal--things like palm reading, tarot cards, tea leaf reading, psychics of all kinds--and hypnotists.

So there I was, trying to be incognito so we wouldn't get tossed out, and then Reveen goes into his audience routines. He had everyone clasp their hands and rest them on their heads (or something to this affect). Then he does his little hypnotizing spiel and--voila! Many people in the audience found they couldn't remove their hands from their heads.

Including me--the underaged teen who was trying not to be noticed.

Well, Reveen could have said something to make us unlock, but no, it wasn't going to be that easy. Instead, he asked everyone with locked hands to come up on stage. And there lay my dilemma. Do I go up, get unlocked and risk being kicked out? Or do I stay where I was and walk around with my hands stuck to my head for the rest of my life?

So up I go...Miss Incognito. I recall feeling petrified. Not about being hypnotized--that was kind of cool. I looked at Annmarie and thought, 'Great, now we'll get booted out and she'll hate me.'

One by one, each person's hands were unlocked by the mystical Reveen. Then it's my turn. He unlocks my hands, then says, "How old are you?"

"Uh...eight--eighteen," I lied in a quivering voice.

He smiled. "Good. Would you like to stay up on stage and be part of my show?"

What? That was not what I expected.

So Miss Incognito politely excused herself and went skulking back to her seat.

Well, the show continued, I relaxed and we had a great time. I couldn't believe all the crazy things he'd gotten people to do. It was a night I've never forgotten.

Flash forward...1981 - Masset, QCI, BC - George M. Dawson gymnasium. Our special guest? Romane, another well-known hypnotist.

The show starts with the same idea--audience participation. Of course, he wants to see whose mind is susceptible to being put under. And there goes Cheryl, up to the stage to have her hands unlocked. This time I decided to be part of the show. What the hell was I thinking?!

The skeptical part of my brain thought, 'There's no way he'll put me that far under.'

Well, all I can say is that by the end of the show, I "woke" up. It seemed like 5 minutes had passed. When I tried to remember, it was like I had my eyes closed and was having a very blurry, weird dream. I believe I was in a "fashion show" and did the catwalk or something. Good grief!

I vaguely recall being a concert pianist. Of course there was no piano on stage...but I know I played my heart out. (Maybe I should audition for the New York Symphony.) I think I ended up sitting on some poor guy's lap. Remember my disclaimer? NOT RESPONSIBLE!

Then after the show, every time someone said, "You were hypnotized, Cheryl", I had this Tourette's syndome-like compulsion to reply with, "Oh, go eat fish!" I couldn't understand why people kept coming up to me and telling me I'd been hypnotized. Wasn't it obvious? I mean, they saw the damned show, for crying out loud. And why the heck was I telling them to eat fish, when I really wanted to say snidely, "Wow, you're observant."

But instead, out pops, "Oh, go eat fish!"

There's nothing stranger than hearing something come out of your mouth that you had no idea you were going to say. Well, wait. There's one thing stranger...hearing your mother's words come out of your mouth. "Just wait until you have kids!"

Have you every been hypnotized? What did you do? Would you do it again? If not, would you like to be?

Please leave me a comment. :)

~Cheryl Kaye Tardif,

bestselling author of Whale Song

Wednesday, February 06, 2008

"Oprah's next book club pick - Canadian novel Whale Song"

Can you imagine hearing those words? The title of this post gives me goosebumps on goosebumps. I can't imagine anything more thrilling than hearing back from Oprah after I've sent her 4 novels over the past 4 years. Having Oprah Winfrey say, "Whale Song is my book club pick for May" epitomizes a leap in success. It's certainly the dream of almost every author I know. And yes, for me, it's still a dream only--for now.

For one Canadian author it's a dream come true. Vancouver-based author and spiritual teacher Eckhart Tolle must feel like he's riding a wave. His book A New Earth: Awakening to Your Life's Purpose, is Oprah's 61st choice for her book club read. Oprah is responsible for Tolle's earlier rise in fame as she launched his 2005 book The Power of Now, skyrocketing it to a million-copy bestseller. The divine Ms. Winfrey is going to be co-hosting an online workshop with Tolle.

Canadian authors have been in the news lately. Andrew Davidson, a writer from Pinawa, Manitoba, created a stir in the book industry recently for obtaining a US $1.5 million deal with Doubleday, as a first-time novelist. The only other recorded case of an unpublished author receiving this kind of advance is Anthony Hyde from Ottawa; his novel The Red Fox went for a reported US $1 million. Davidson has gone on to secure international rights and more advances. His novel The Gargoyle is set to be released on August 5th, 2008. Who knows? Maybe Oprah will take that one too.

Meanwhile, I will continue writing, promoting and praying that one day Oprah gets a chance to read Whale Song. And I hope that her book club members will take a chance on another Canadian author and read it too. I even provide a comprehensive reading guide for book clubs and schools.

"Oprah picks Canadian novel Whale Song for book club."

Now doesn't that have a nice ring to it? How would you feel if she picked your book?

~Cheryl Kaye Tardif, bestselling author of Whale Song

A Note From Saudi America

In Utah last month, Liquor control commissioner Bobbie Coray asked her colleagues to rule that bottles of liquor displayed at restaurants be covered because the sight of them might offend some diners.
Current rules require a glass partition between bartenders and customers, but that may not be enough according to Coray.
The walls don't obscure the alcohol, Coray said, which makes the "atmosphere in a restaurant to more of a bar."(sic) She singled out a chain restaurant that opened on Nov. 1, because alcohol bottles are in plain view.
"We have a dual responsibility," the commissioner said. "We are to make alcohol available for those who want to consume it and at the same time not make anyone uncomfortable."
Of course, there are opportunities here. Enterprising Utahans will certainly come up with Bottle Burkhas in attractive designs that meet the requirements of the new regulation.
There is no word as yet on what other offensive matters may be subject to obligatiory covering in the state of Utah, but a delegation from Iran is expected to arrive in Salt Lake City shortly to begin consultation. Watch this site for further news.

(By the way, it’s also worth noting that, in spite of what your cardiologist and millions of grandmothers say, Utah law provides that publicity about wine “may not imply …..that consumption of the product will benefit the consumer's health…”)

--Lynn Hoffman, author of THE NEW SHORT COURSE IN WINE and
the novel bang BANG which appears in Utah wearing a conservative blue book cover.

Tuesday, February 05, 2008

Canada to lose "oldest bookstore", The Book Room

Over the past two years, I've watched Canadian independent bookstores fight to compete with the 'big boys'--major big-box outlets and Internet retailers, but it seems like a fight to the death. As a Canadian, I cheer them on, hoping they'll succeed. As an avid reader, I mourn their loss. As an author, I feel their disappearance is sadly inevitable. Business, after all, means survival of the biggest and most powerful. It's like watching a giant game of Pac-Man. Something is gobbling up our independent bookstores one at a time, and now we're about to lose "Canada's oldest bookstore"--The Book Room in Halifax, Nova Scotia.

The Book Room is expected to clear out inventory and close its doors for the final time at the end of March 2008, about eight weeks from now. Eight weeks...and then we'll have to say goodbye to a Nova Scotian icon. Founded in 1839, The Book Room has survived two World Wars, the Halifax Explosion and the Great Depression, and it will be a great loss to Canadian booklovers and to its local community. Charles Burchell, president of The Book Room, is justifiably disappointed. "The Book Room has been an institution in Nova Scotia."

The explanation given for its imminent closure? Increased competition, deep discounting from big-box and Internet retailers, as well as dual pricing issues. In Canada, books have traditionally been printed with two prices--Canadian and American. Canadian prices have always been quite a bit higher, but the recent strength of the Canadian dollar has put much pressure on the entire book industry. Canadian customers want US pricing, with that price on the back cover of books; publishers can't afford to discount their books to US pricing when they've based everything on a higher Canadian price, and booksellers are forced to either lower prices and take a loss or lose their customers and their business.

"Out with the old, in with the new" might be an exciting way to ring in the New Year, but in the book business, the saying is a painfully discordant reminder to make way for the "big-boys", at the expense of tradition.

Farewell to The Book Room. Booklovers across Canada will miss you.

Law of Attraction in Blog

The Law of Attraction is just another name for fear. If a person is negative then negative happens. Why- me-God people can not see the flip side…the glass half full. Why do some people take on this kind of behavior? I believe it is out of fear. Fear becomes their protection, the negativity of their attitude is the barrier created against life. Inevitably, I believe this kind of person attracts the very things they fear.

Following my own guidelines to blog about what I see/hear/read, I am adding this Attraction concept to my list. The idea of bringing negative into our life is hardly new. It is not as if someone stumbled on to a lost work of art or buried treasure. I write a column and blog about Good Days and No Days—same theme. Why would anyone want to begin anything significant on a day that potentially would not offer the best results? Live your life---yes, but be mindful of the warnings along the way. People who profess to be out-of-luck, nothing-but-the-worst-happens and woe-is-me all live by the same code, which goes something like this: No matter what, things are not going to get better.

Now, what of the good people the ones that die young, the ones that suffer, the ones that are taken from us too soon? I have no answer; I believe there is no answer, only that there is a reason, a higher purpose to everything and that we are players on the stage of life and we do not write the script. Perhaps the good folk who attract illness or violence are role models. They are the teachers.

In my new book, Belly of the Whale, being released in April, the main character has breast cancer. Her name is Hudson Catalina, she is young; she has a family, her mother died of breast cancer and despite her ability to intellectually rise above her past she gives up hope of survival. It takes an encounter with a killer more deadly than her disease, as a hostage in an all-night market for her to regain faith.

The good people who precede us, who lay down their lives for us, like our soldiers in Iraq and Afghanistan, they are teachers. Our friends, family and loved ones who are taken from us are the angels that walk beside us every day.
We, like Hudson Catalina, learn from them. We learn how to die, we learn how to live.

Blog what you hear, blog what you see…

Linda Merlino,author:Belly of the Whale
Preorder on

Monday, February 04, 2008

I Love New York

There are 487 great things about New York, but the video of the frozen folks in Grand Central reminds of one of my favorites: New Yorkers love jokes-large scale, foaming-at-the-mouth, so senselessly silly that you have to laugh jokes. Remember when Cristo hung Central Park with a cupla hundred orange gates? Remember when they said that the Giants had a chance to win the Super Bowl?
What a great town! I'm glad I live in the same hemisphere.

Lynn Hoffman, author of bang BANG

Frozen in New York

My husband Marc has been whining about being "frozen" for weeks. So much so that we booked a trip to Mexico later this month. (YAY!) We live in Edmonton, Alberta, Canada and it's been anywhere from -10 degrees celcius to -30.

Well, today Marc came across a video of people in Grand Central Station, New York, and these people were definitely far more frozen than Marc has been.

Check out this incredible video. I've never seen anything like it.

Wish I'd been there!

My writer's mind is going crazy with this. Were they a group of acting students? Mimes without costumes? I've watched this 3 times. Check out their expressions...and poses.

What do you think about this video? Please leave a comment.

After you've watched the video, go HERE to read about how it was done.

~Cheryl Kaye Tardif, bestselling author

Sunday, February 03, 2008

I've Been Found Out Again!

Most of the time, I've tried to keep my day job and my writing life separate for three reasons. First, I didn't want to think about writing 24/7, and my retail job kept me sufficiently distracted with customer service or working a cash register to not be plotting out stories. Second, I didn't think it appropriate or professional to be flogging my book or talking about publishing credits, etc., so I didn't. Third, I simply didn't think colleagues would be interested. Only one or two even read during lunch breaks, and no one ever talked about books. But somehow things changed.

It began with chats about vacations. A few people would ask where I was going on mine, and I'd tell them Las Vegas, or Anchorage. Of course, the usual questions about gambling and cruising came up, and then I'd explain that I wasn't going to gamble or cruise, but attend a conference. "What kind of conference?" they'd ask. "A conference for mystery writers. That's what I do . . . I write mysteries." The response was always one of surprise, a moment's pause, and then something like "oh, I didn't know you wrote". Still, I managed to keep my double life under wraps until three years ago, when my picture appeared in the local paper with an article about my essay appearing in "Chicken Soup for the Bride's Soul". The next thing I knew everyone was talking about it at work. I was found out. People wanted to know what else I'd written. They wanted to see the Chicken Soup book. And one or two even wanted to see my published novel. So, I brought Taxed to Death to work and sold a few copies.

Mercifully, the fuss quickly died down. I didn't feel overly comfortable with my two worlds overlapping, and was glad to get back to business as usual. Occasionally, someone would ask how my books were coming along, and I'd reply as best as I could without giving a long-winded response about plotting problems, stilted dialogue, too much backstory, puzzling rejection letters, or publishers who never delivered on their contract.

More time passed. People came and went, as is normal for retail, which meant that lots of new employees didn't know I wrote. Well, that all changed a week and a half ago, when I handed in my resignation letter. People wanted to know why I was leaving. After all, I'd been there five years and seemed pretty happy, most days, anyway. So I told them I needed to finish final edits on a book that would be published soon, and to complete another final edit on a book that an agent wants to see. Also, it's time to move on to new challenges and experiences.

I didn't quite expect the buzz that's been going around the store . . . the interest, the support, and requests to buy my book, especially from young people I thought were more interested in PSPs, XBox, and all the other fun gadgetry out there. But, guess what? They think it's cool that I write. So, I've sold a few more copies. Most of all, I've learned, yet again, that you can never judge a book by its cover.
"Fatal Encryption" coming soon

EAT. PAY. WALK. Part Two

Vivre Venice

"This was Venice, the flattering and suspect beauty - this city, half fairy tale and half tourist trap, in whose insalubrious air the arts once rankly and voluptuously blossomed, where composers have been inspired to lulling tones of somniferous eroticism." Thomas Mann

Mann's words are magnificently true.

Venice is indeed half fairy tale, half tourist trap…and pigeons. Yes, yes, the glorious pigeons are doing well in Venice, even in the wintertime. They show no signs of concern about war, gas prices, economic downturn or the need to lose weight at the start of a new year. Instead, they clamor for a nice resting spot atop the shoulder of anyone who deigns to cross their living room – which happens to be a lovely piece of real estate known as St. Mark’s Square. And if you bring a treat for them, a few pieces of uneaten croissant from your breakfast, well, they will ride on your shoulder from one end to another. At least that’s what my personal pigeon, Fabio, did for me. (I cannot go into the reasons he was named Fabio, but I assure you, there are reasons.)

I explored Venice in January with my two BFFs. (Forgive me, but how many opportunities does a 40 something get to use that expression?) We three walked for hours each day without any real goal in mind. Sure, we wanted to visit St. Mark’s Basilica, feed scores of fat pigeons and have a Bellini at Harry’s Bar. (Note: this five-ounce frothy peach will cost you your entire Starbuck’s budget for a week and have you exclaiming “Euro-kidding me!” when you get the bill). Still, you must go and imbibe, especially if you are a writer and want to rub shoulders with the Hemingway legend. You can drink Folgers when you get back.

We left the rest of our walking to our sense of wanderlust. Okay, so this strategy gets you lost again and again. And again. We searched for the Rialto Market for a ridiculously long amount of time, asking directions of countless kind Venetians and one Frenchman who merely quipped, “Don’t you have a map?!”. So you can understand it when I tell you we felt like we’d hit the Holy Grail when we finally stumbled upon the not so lovely fish stench permeating the market.

But we were there. We found it. We walked through its maze of multi-colored produce stands and seafood. The way the merchants display the food makes you eat with your eyes. After finding Rialto Mercato, the city seemed to acknowledge our perseverance and directed us along its uncrowded, foggy streets with greater patience. (Or maybe we just stopped trying to find anything on purpose.) We found other great places to leave behind our Euros. We ate the best bruschetta and pasta aglio lio e peperoncino (spaghetti with olive oil and peppers). We discovered Limoncello. We saw the same painter twice in one day as he moved his easel from one part of the city to another presumably to take advantage of the light. We spent an hour inside a mask shop trying on tens of sublime and sexy masks. We came upon a French couple sharing a bottle of Veuve Clicquot atop a solitary bridge who proudly announced that they had just become engaged. And if that wasn’t romantic enough, we later watched a gondolier nearly miss hitting his handsome red-haired head on the underside of the bridge he was traversing because his gaze was on us. And then, as he popped up on the other side of said bridge, he watched us again. Ahhh, romance. That scene alone makes me want to write a romance novel. And maybe I could. (Didn’t someone once say those tomes are all about location, sex and adverbs?)

So women, go with your girlfriends. Men, escort your women. Let me be your blogeteering ambassador and say to you, Go feast on the city half fairy tale, half tourist trap. You will not regret it.

Still not convinced? Don’t have enough lettuce to fund your trip? Well, until then, allow me to share my photo album at until you do have the opportunity. And don’t stop there. One of my favorite past-times is visiting

Until next time, Ciao!


Karen Harrington is the author of JANEOLOGY, a spring 2008 release from Kunati Books.

Saturday, February 02, 2008

Look Out Your Window...

I try to follow my own advice, and in a bloggers world that is to blog about what I see. In this case blog about what is out side my window and how it will affect my day. There can be beauty in blog, you just have recognize it in your life and pass the beauty on.

It is early morning. I am in my car. The air crisp, clear New England cold envelopes me. Hunkered down in the driver’s seat I begin my short commute. Ahead of me the sun rises.

I look out my window and see blue sky, an ocean blue palette of color spread low against the sun’s upward movement. Still tired from being forced outside of slumber, I squint into the light. I reach for my glasses, slide them low on my nose and dip my head to see under the tint of the windshield. The color intensifies, like looking through a mystical glass it continues to wrap around the sky as I drive. Skirting the blue is a layer of petal pink, the combination is upside down; pink over blue and the two together, spectacular.

If I was still in bed I would have missed this collision of color, this singular event of the cosmos. Having to go to work keeps me from reading, keeps me from getting more pages of another book written. My day job prevents me from answering email and doing internet marketing for my new novel. Having to plug away takes me out of the valley that surrounds me onto a country road that takes me to higher ground. Perhaps there is an underlying message in all of that, one that speaks of narrow views and of going outside me to broader vistas.

There is time to pull over; I am full face to the rising sun’s majesty.
Houses dot the landscape, their sleepy windows dark and snoring. Wake up I whisper. Run to your windows and greet the sunrise. Don’t miss this one; don’t go through your whole day never knowing its beauty.

But this is life? There are people who have the world uninterrupted right before their eyes and never look out a window? They go through their days oblivious to the rising and the setting.

I can not see the sunrise from my home. I have to search it out, like Mohamed to the mountain. This interlude with the rising sun tells me that I am on the right path. Tells me that others may have the opportunities but do not take them, and I have to try harder, but no matter. Perhaps too, the journey is more important than the destination and for sure, there is a higher power.

So I share the beauty in blog and tell you that life is for living.

“He who postpones the hour of living is like the rustic who waits for the river to run out before he crosses.” Horace 65-8 BCE

Linda Merlino, author of “Belly of the Whale”: release date April 2008
Available for preorder on