Thursday, July 31, 2008

Tips for Plotting Your Novel - Part 1: Percolate Your Ideas

Fiction authors are often asked, “How do you come up with your novel plots? Where do you find those ideas?” As a Canadian suspense author, I am often asked these questions, and my answers will usually include something about letting ideas percolate and ferment.

I know―it sounds like I’m brewing coffee and making homemade wine, but in reality I’m creating what I hope will be a fast-paced suspense novel that will be enjoyed by readers worldwide. I think that percolating a novel plot is the perfect way to describe how my mind processes information that will eventually end up in a novel.

What do you think of when you see the word PERCOLATE? Do you picture a stove-top percolator brewing some strong coffee? That’s how I think of writing a novel. Basically the percolation method, in relation to writing, means that I will think on an idea until it begins to take hold. Then I’ll think about other ideas and just allow the ideas to bubble to the surface, until I have the skeleton of my novel plot.

Most often I’m thinking of everything from the perpetrator’s mind. How does he commit his crimes? Who are his victims? Why does he choose them? What’s his motive? Who else might be a suspect? How can I mislead my audience? How does he finally get caught?

After I have the percolating part, I’ll make just a few notes. Sometimes, I’ll open a file on my computer and write a prologue or first chapter. Once I start thinking of the basis for the novel, I’ll almost always have a scene come to mind that usually throws the reader into some kind of action. I like doing that; throwing you into something unexpected in the first few pages.

Not every writer will plot a novel like I do. Many will use an outline; they’ll often write it out first, thinking of ideas as they go. Some authors won’t start writing until they have a completed outline. I’ve tried working this way, but it doesn’t work for me. So I use the percolation method.
As you think about the novel you want to write, ask yourself: who is the story is really about and what is the story about (in 30 words or less)? Don’t worry if you don’t have all the details yet. That’s what fermenting is for. You can read about that in Part 2, coming up on August 3rd.

©2008 Cheryl Kaye Tardif

~Cheryl Kaye Tardif is a bestselling author of 3 Canadian suspense novels (Whale Song (published by award-winning Kunati Books), The River and Divine Intervention). She is also a freelance journalist and popular speaker at writers groups, conferences and book clubs. Her specialty topics are: book publishing options; book marketing (online and offline) and writing advice. Cheryl currently resides in Edmonton, Alberta, Canada.

Wednesday, July 30, 2008

Want to review books for

Do you like to read? Want some free books in exchange for writing a review? is looking for people who love reading to review the stacks of books that are pouring in to a new book review program.

If you enjoy reading, don't mind getting a free book (or 2...or 5) and like to write reviews, then this is for you!

From the newsletter TIPS for WRITERS:
We have tons of books and not enough readers to review them...if you know someone that would love to read and review books please send them my way. It’s easy, they can pick what they want, there is no timeline, the book is free, all we need are interested readers. Your help is appreciated.

For more information, please contact Jerry D. Simmons.

~Cheryl Kaye Tardif,
Canadian suspense author

Tuesday, July 29, 2008

Stop by LibraryThing for an Author Chat

Hey, I tried to call you, but your phone was busy.

Have you ever been to LibraryThing? No? If you are a bookworm, this is a must-visit site. And I'm having an Author Chat there July 30th-Aug 13th.

Stop by and ask me questions about everything from:



Why my toddlers insist on ripping Barbie's legs off

Why typos are the bane of my existence!

How many exclamation points one is allowed per novel

What's for dinner tonight.

Included in my Author Chat will be commentary from key characters in JANEOLOGY. (And they have something to say, believe me.) And, at the conclusion of my chat, I'll be giving away a copy of JANEOLOGY to one lucky commenter. So stop by and just say hello. One comment could equal a free book!

Haven't had time to read JANEOLOGY yet? No worries. Here's the Cliffs Note version:

And then come back on September 22 when the very talented Dave Donelson (also brought to you by Kunati) will have an Author Chat about his new release Heart of Diamonds.

And I'd just like to add that that color really brings out your eyes.


Karen Harrington

Blog a Debut Author

I’ve blogged before about first time novelists, and to add another page to my album of obsession may be boring to some but here is my question anyway: How does an obscure, non-A-list published author slice through the thorns of who-are-yous and climb to public attention?

Luck. I was recently told this by one such individual whose friendship I’ve made through cyberspace. One can not disagree, however it would also appear to be their publisher’s influence and long arm as well.

Anyone currently on the threshold of a new release, a first timer, be assured of the thrill, the rush, the smell of just printed text, because it is intoxicating – so delicious; easily the best feeling ever.

The New York Times Book Review ran a piece on Larry McMurtry who was a new author in 1961. Everyone starts at the beginning. His first book, “Horseman, Pass By”, went to Hollywood under the title, “Hud”; remember Paul Newman? His next two books ended up in Hollywood too, but he did not make the coveted New York Times Bestseller list until 1985, twenty-four years after his debut. At that time he was twenty-four weeks running for “Lonesome Dove” and also garnered a Pulitzer Prize.

Mr. McMurtry was obviously not discouraged through a quarter of a century by the lack of recognition as a bestselling author. New novelists take a note, which means me too.

If writing is your passion, then keep writing. Lady Luck is floating around and she may sit next to you. Hollywood beckons like a beacon on a foggy night and the New York Times is just a newspaper.

Blog what you read, see, think and feel.

Linda Merlino, author, Belly of the Whale

Too scared to go out.

The UK simply isn’t safe anymore.

Let’s suppose I earn a grand. Great, but what do I do with it? Well, first off I give the government £400 for the privilege of living in the UK. Still, I can do something nice with the £600 I’ve got left so I go down to a local business and buy and sofa. Bargain, although it could have been cheaper but the bloke at the sofa shop, even though he’s a pal off mine, plays it straight and declares the deal, happy enough to pay the government another 30% in business taxes etc. The sofa bloke of course has to pay the lad who built the sofa (his son as it happens and also a mate of mine), roughly £200 for his trouble. No wait a minute, that’s only £150 in his pocket after tax. That night the three of us go out on the town to celebrate. I’m skint (just bought a sofa remember), so my mate and his son pay my end all night and between us we manage to do in £240 on beer, fags and food. Hell of a night, and as we all slump down to test the new sofa back at my place, I can’t help but wonder if the tax man had a good time too. As far as I can work out, from the grand I earned, he took £890.

You know, I’m not so convinced that it’s street crime we really need to worry about.

Recycling Jimmy

Got Passion?

This is Randy Pausch's address to Carnegie Mellon on passion, love and a life well lived.

This is a MUST see. Whatever you are doing today that you love, you are going to want to do more and with greater vigor. Go get your cuppa. Sharpen your pencils. And don't be surprised if you write a whole story today. This is your caffeine.




Watch all my YouTubes Day videos at

Sunday, July 27, 2008

Inspiration for Promotion and Writing

Another week and another round of promotion, but it's been fun and productive. Library orders are starting to come in and I was featured on Dan Janal's Cool Book of the Day site.

On the bulletin board behind my computer, I keep a list of wonderful sayings and bits of wisdom that I've collected from ByLine Magazine over the years (I'm still reading back issues to catch up). The sayings are directed at writers struggling with their prose and poetry, or with the submission process. But as I re-read some of them today, I realized they also apply to the writer who's working hard to promote his/her book. Here are some of them:

"Life's battles don't always go to the stronger or faster man. But sooner or later the one who wins is the one who thinks he can."

"Believe in yourself and keeping trying."

"Rejection is a writer's best friend. 'If you are not failing regularly,' Gregg Levoy observes in The Business of Writing,' you are living so far below your potential that you're failing anyway."

"Tenacity is essential to success in writing. While successs as a writer is a great achievement, considerable merit attaches to the effort itself. As in athletics, training is the struggle; victory is merely the affirmation of that struggle."

Food for thought, eh?

To read excerpts of Fatal Encryption visit:

My interview at Dan Janal's site is at

Friday, July 25, 2008

Making good use of the delete key

Tell me if this is true for you - does the level of your writing progress directly correlate to the cleanliness of your house?

This week, I am happy to report that dust bunnies abound, the floor needs mopping and the place could use a general tidying. Yay! This means I’ve been writing. A lot. So much so that I have arrived at that golden moment on a project where it is actually acceptable to print it out and begin editing on paper. This is a piece that's been in progress on the computer for a full year. Time will tell if this is a gross misuse of paper and ink. Right now, it just feels good. And I do look forward to reading the novel as a reader – which is, as they say in Texas, a whole nuther process.

Also this week, I’ve discovered something decidedly quirky - The Delete Key Awards These awards, brought to us by the fine One Minute Book Reviews Blog, are given to published books whose writers and editors did not make good use of the delete key. Ah, we are all guilty of this at times. But this is just downright funny. (Unless this writer ever wins one. Then, it will not be so funny, eh?)

I offer into evidence, the runner’s up for the 2008 Delete Key Awards contest:

“And there it was, the hole that had given birth to me.…This was not the first time I’d been face-to-face with my mother’s genitalia.” - From Alice Sebold’s The Almost Moon (Little, Brown)


From Holly Peterson’s The Manny:
“We’re in the modern era, baby, you spoiled, Jurassic, archaic, Waspy piece of petrified wood!”

“He was munching furiously on his prey, like an African lion with a freshly caught zebra.”

Not the WORST string of words I've ever read. Still quite worthy of this award.

The grand prize winner in the 2008 Delete Key Awards contest

“A new species is arising on the planet. It is arising now, and you are it!"

“We are in the midst of a momentous event in the evolution of human consciousness. But they won’t be talking about it in the news tonight. On our planet, and perhaps simultaneously in many parts of our galaxy and beyond, consciousness is awakening from the dream of form. This does not mean all forms (the world) are going to dissolve, although quite a few almost certainly will. It means consciousness can now begin to create form without losing itself in it. It can remain conscious of itself, even while it creates and experiences form.”

Both of these sentences came from Eckhart Tolle’s A New Earth: Awakening to Your Life’s Purpose (Plume)

Also offered into consideration was this line from Barbara Walters' memoir Audition

“Just before the ax fell, lightning struck and my life changed, never to be the same again.”

Barbara! How could you? How could your editor? Oy!

Time to get my manuscript off my printer and start looking for places where my characters are face to face with nether regions of their mothers while munching petrified wood like an African lion that is arising like a new species on the planet right before lightning strikes. Surely, I will never be the same again!!!!

Whaddya think. Should I just clean the house first?


Author, Janeology

Wednesday, July 23, 2008

Update #5 on the suspenseful work-in-progress Remote Control

“Be careful what you wish for,” they say, but for forty-four-year-old Harold Fielding, who unfortunately isn’t one to listen to such good advice, those words will come back to haunt him.

Harold―Harry―always rebels against the norm. In fact, he says, “Wishes are like saying grace―something to be said before every meal.” So he wishes at least five times a day, while growing exceedingly fat.

However, good ole Harry has an excuse.

“If I wish hard enough,” he tells his wife Beatrice, “my wishes will eventually come true.”

Harry’s a TV fanatic and, surprisingly, very intelligent. He spends about ten hours a day parked in front of his ten-year-old Sanyo television with the remote control in hand, while watching shows on just about everything. The next day, he can tell you all about it; his recall is nearly perfect.

He never once contemplates actually working a forty-hour week and earning money. He’s already maxed out the VISA and MasterCard, plus a small bank loan that Beatrice knows nothing about. And now he’s waiting for his fortune to fall in his lap. Sadly, there’s no room there, so whatever good luck finds him usually ends up in a puddle on the floor.

Harry’s good with puddles. He’s a plumber by trade, when he bothers to do a job. The truth is, he’s been having trouble maneuvering under kitchen sinks; his stomach keeps getting in the way. Six months ago, he was depressed, which made him eat more. He’d almost lost faith that there is something better for him…somewhere…out there, and then fate stepped in. After a chance run-in with an old classmate (Harry nearly knocked him down a flight of stairs when they passed on a landing), who happens to be very wealthy and who recommends one book, Harry’s life changes forever.

The Secret sits on the shelf behind the toilet. Harry reads it every day while relieving himself of the pounds of food he’s eaten that day. Since he’s always there a while, he can usually get through five or six pages a visit.

“I’ve read it now from beginning to end at least five times,” he boasts to his friends.

Of course, he hasn’t quite figured out that one must work towards receiving the good things in life, whether by deed or thought. He just figures that if he wishes for something, he’ll attract it. Eventually.

Be careful what you wish for, Harry.


Read the work-in-progress so far.

~Cheryl Kaye Tardif, Canadian suspense author

Monday, July 21, 2008

Imagine if you and your sister were part of a nature/nurture study

What would it be like if you were a twin, separated at birth and found your sibling 39 years later? And imagine that the reason for your separation was for a secret study about twins that not even your adoptive parents knew about?

No, this isn't a novel, but it could be. This is the story of two, real sisters who were adopted out to different parents and studied to see how they would grow up.

Here's the trailer for this intriguing book.

From the authors' website:

"Identical Strangers" is the amazing story of two women coming to terms with the strange and unbelievable hand fate has dealt them, an account that broadens the definition of family and provides insight into our own DNA and the singularly exceptional imprint it leaves on our lives.

This is a book I've recently discovered. I'm looking forward to reading it for its clues to how much nature and nurture write on the slate a person's life - a subject close to the bone of JANEOLOGY - where the entire focus is looking at the inherited nature and nurture over four generations. (Read the first chapter here.)

Let me know if you've read this book. I'd love to hear your thoughts.



author, Janeology

Sunday, July 20, 2008

One of the Great Perks of Writers' Groups

I know there's always debate about whether writers' groups are useful or not, and I happen to feel that both sides of the argument have valid points. To my mind, the success of a writers' group depends on the expertise, attitudes, and chemistry in the group. I've been in tense, somewhat destructive groups, but about six years ago, I found a wonderful collection of talented writers whose purpose is to help and be helped.

It's always a great joy to me when one of us publishes a book (our moderator, Eileen Kernaghan, is about to have her eighth book released!), and this year the Kyle Centre group is reaping the rewards of years of hard work. I published in April, Eileen and two more members will release titles in September, and yesterday I attended the book launch of a colleague who's written quite a book.

My colleague, Marja, comes from a vastly different background than me. She's a devout Christian who also happens to be bipolar, although this took many painful years and stays in psychiatric wards to properly diagnose. Because of the unsympathetic way she was treated by certain members of her faith (some people still believe that the mentally ill are possessed by demons) she felt compelled to tell her story so that other Christians struggling with similiar afflictions will come to understand that mental illness doesn't make them evil or unworthy. Marja now offers hope through a support group she founded called "Living Room", and branches are now spreading throughout Canada and as far as New Zealand.

If you'd like to read more of Marja Bergen's beautiful and inspiring book, A Firm Place to Stand, visit her at

For excerpts of Fatal Encryption visit,

Thursday, July 17, 2008

Pain… Real, imagined, physical, psychological, heroic and…self-indulgent

I figured that this might be a good topic for tonight.

I just got back from the hospital for what was just really minor back surgery – No biggie unless you get spooked by those foot-long, square tipped needles. You know the one they used in the Three Stooges movies? “Nuk, Nuk, Nuk!”
But it did give me a chance to reflect on so many people I know who are really brave when it comes to the pain in their life and how to so many of us who indulge their occasional little bouts with physical or emotional pain, really don’t even know what real pain is all about.

I just realized this while I was writing to a sweet, brave little girl who was concerned about how my surgery went.
And I realized about halfway through my reply to her that for all of my ‘tough-guy’ self-images, I really didn’t have a clue to what real pain must be like to the unsung hero’s who smile through it every day. Our wounded men and women - soldiers who must endure a life time of pain to protect us. Those sad hoping kids that have drawn the ‘busted flush’ in life’s poker games. The ones who give and give and only get a condescending smile in return. Those who love and get used but keep loving anyway.

These are the real hero’s – not those of us – like me… maybe like you – I don’t know, who run up against a few little pin-pricks in life and think we’re tough stuff.
The black guys in our band had it right. “Perspective, my man.” They’d say. “It’s all about perspective.”

But I think that my own personal genius musical idol - Bob Dylan – who I once long ago had the singular honor of playing on the same stage with, said it best in his song “Chimes of Freedom.”
“Tolling for the aching ones whose wounds cannot be nursed. For the countless accused, misused, abused strung-out ones and worse. And for every hung-up person in the whole wide universe…”
That says it all.

And if you like, here’s a peek at the road through my mushy brain that wised me up to this truth tonight.
It’s the response to my dear sweet friend who was kind enough to spare a thought for someone who’s tough-guy antics long ago ceased to matter. But then we all pretend in some way or another – don’t we?

Anyway, I don’t think she’ll mind if I share my ramblings with you as well.


What???? You had a back operation... today! There is no such thing as a "small back surgery"..... What is going on? I know a lot about back pain.... My spine is the actual shape of the letter S... for real! Lucky for me the curve at the top is equally dramatic as the lower curve so they level each other out and allow me to look "normal".... It hurts.... back pain sucks eggs!

Are you okay? I will say a special prayer for ya!


Nah, don't sweat it darlin'
It gives me a chance to prove to me that I'm still 'macho'

When I used to fight in my bad, bad old days - I always used to try to smile while I was bleeding. It always freaked out the guy who was tryin' to beat the crap outta' you.
You know wipe the blood away from your face, spit the blood from the cuts inside your mouth onto the floor and tell 'em, "Is that the best you've got?"
Freaked 'em out almost every time.

The only problems came with the very few who'd smile back at me and say, "Oh no kid - I got a whole lot more."
Those were rough.

But I'm back home now with bandages on my back, an ice pack strapped on to me and the 3d... or maybe it's the 4th, cold beer in my hand, Screw the pain Meds! (some guys never change - sigh)

But enough of my retro attempt to prove to myself that I can still take it.
What's this about your back ?
I don't doubt for a minute that you've overcome some heavy obstacles in what sounds like a fascinating life but have somehow managed to keep it from haunting your face as so many that I knew and still do - including me - still do.
You're something special darlin'

The back is acting up and wants to make me a sissy and pop the pain Meds - but what fun would that be?
I've got them on the side of my desk so I can look at them while they stare back at me and tease me.
The Hell with them - I'll get another beer. Maybe that makes me a sissy too.

There was an old black blues guitar player when I lived down in Kentucky who used to say, "We all got our poison man - You just gots to know yours".
I guess I know mine all too well.
Write me back sweet girl. Your shining smile and resilient soul helps me to do what I gotta do - suck it up.
And, yes say a little prayer for me - I gave it up 40 years ago and never went back. But I've got a hunch that every prayer that you utter goes straight to the source.

Ric Wasley – Author/Musician

•Shadow of Innocence - Kunati - 2007
•Newport Blues (limited Edition)
•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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Monday, July 14, 2008

Blog Hope Lodge

The siren of summer lured me off my writer’s path and I went willingly to sit on the ocean’s edge and contemplate. Stretched before me was the Atlantic, so far into the horizon that even squinting did not allow me to see its end. When these moments came there was no choice but to stop and raise a hand to shield the sun from my eyes, to pause for the solar rising or setting. All thoughts passed away and my mind was relieved of burdens and bundles of musts and must-nots.

As I shake the sand from my suitcase and out of my shoes I am reluctant to return to the pace and routine I set aside. Vacation is a place where time stops, there is no calendar and no alarm clock. The beach beckons and you go, nothing else is required of your time. Nothing.

Days before I journeyed to the shore I was given a tour of a facility in New York City: Hope Lodge. There I met a team of persons dedicated to serving the needs of people undergoing therapy for cancer. Reminiscent of a five star hotel, Hope Lodge provides patients and their caregivers accommodations during the long treatments related to their disease. Individuals who live at a distance and require a commute over an hour are eligible to be one of the over sixty guests at the Lodge.

Walking along the shore with sea water lapping my ankles I thought long and hard about Hope Lodge. I prayed that I might never have to use the facility for the purpose it was intended and despite the beauty of its interior and the warmth of the staff, I mumbled to myself an entreaty to God that He might spare me that fate.

The people I met on my tour were extremely enthusiastic and excited about the subject of my book and how we could (I could) become a part of the fight against breast cancer. Without knowing a reason to write about a character with breast cancer other than the old stand-by, I had to; I discovered on that tour and during my subsequent meditations by the ocean, a more valid reason.

Perhaps another entity was at work, guiding my hand and my imagination, and perhaps that entity had a knowing that I would be introduced to Hope Lodge and when that day came, which it did, I would recognize the reason.

There is a place where we all must travel, a place along our path that is not illuminated, where darkness rules. The descent into darkness is not unlike being swallowed by the biblical whale. Hope and survival is the message of my story and hope and survival are the premise on which Hope Lodge was built.

Blog what you see, hear, feel and pray.

Linda Merlino, author, Belly of the Whale

Sunday, July 13, 2008

How Not to Conduct a Writer's Symposium

Yesterday, I went to a writer's symposium on crime fiction writing sponsored by SFU. Five authors and three other panelists (a bookseller, editor, and reviewer) plus the moderator were to spend the day discussing the nuts and bolts of crime fiction through ten minute presentations by each author, followed by a question and answer period. As someone who's working on her fifth book and has read her share of how-to writing manuals, I hadn't expected to learn a lot that I didnt' know. And I didn't.

But here's what got me. First, the symposium started late, and as presenters wandered to the tables at the front of the room, they seemed confused about where to sit and wasted time trying to sort themselves out. Worse, two of the authors gave downright poor presentations. One had a hard time articulating her thoughts nearly every time she reached for the microphone. The other preferred to tell anecdotes about his adventures as a writer, some of which had a point to his topic, but almost all of which I'd heard before. Actually, I found the reviewer and editor far more insightful.

I've done presentations before and I absolutely believe in coming prepared. I also like to bring handouts to add more depth to topics I might not have time to discuss in class. None of these presenters did so and frankly, I could have lived without the ancedotes (or the writer should at least change his material more often). The same guy seemed a bit miffed, or at least surprised, that copies of his new book were in our gift bags. Guess he'd hoped to sell a bunch after the presentations.

The best part of the day was meeting new people and catching up with a colleague I hadn't seen in a couple of years. I also received over $100 worth of new books for a $75 course, so the day wasn't a complete loss. But will I go see these authors again? Not likely. Could I have done better as a presenter? You bet.

To read excerpts of FATAL ENCRYPTION, visit

Wednesday, July 09, 2008

Contest: Win a framed print of Aynsley Nisbet's painting "Whale Song"

If you haven't read the amazing story about Edmonton artist Aynsley Nisbet and how my novel Whale Song inspired her to paint again, please check out her story.

Now, for the contest...

One lucky winner will win a matted, signed and framed print of Aynsley's beautiful painting, titled "Whale Song".

To enter:

Leave a comment after reading Aynsley's story. Be sure to leave your name and email.

On July 30th, Aynsley will pick the lucky winner, and I'll make arrangements to send the print.

So be sure to leave a comment after reading Aynsley's story so you qualify. Good luck!

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

DNA and Destiny

Has everyone received his or her copy of June’s UTNE Reader? Great. We’re all on the same page then. And if not, you can get on said page here.

So, what did you think of the article “The Nature of Nurture?”

To recap, in that article the author discusses the “effects of maternal stress on childhood development.”

Well, that certainly caught my eye due to the subject matter of JANEOLOGY in which the nature and nurture of one Jane Nelson are explored going back four generations on both sides of her family until a full picture of her genetic inheritance and family traditions emerges. All of this, of course, is explored in an attempt to answer the question – Why did Jane do what she did? Intrigued? (Read a chapter here.)

The Utne Reader article features a neuroscientist’s experiment with mother rats to illustrate what anxious nurturing versus calm nurturing can do to a child. Will a child absorb the tendencies of her mother?

From the article:

"As a graduate student, Francis conducted an experiment in which she swapped pups between a litter of rats bred for calmness and another that was predisposed to anxiety. The genetically calm mothers tended to be better nurturers, licking and grooming their pups more than the anxious mothers did. But when a calm, nurturing mother raised the genetically anxious pup added to her brood, the adoptee switched tendencies. The anxious rat behaved calmly throughout life, performed better in cognitive tests, and was more willing to explore new environments. The calm mother’s behavior, Francis discovered, had caused permanent changes in the operations of the anxious rat’s genes.

Even more stunning: The acquired traits—calmness and nurturing habits—were passed on to the anxious rat’s next generation.In the question of nature versus nurture, we’ve embraced the view that our fates are written in genetic code. The news in recent years has been filled with reports about the isolation of genes said to “cause” everything from diabetes to voter turnout. Increasingly, though, researchers are finding that genes don’t tell the whole story."

Genes don’t tell the whole story, do they? The influence and social relationships in one’s environment has such a profound impact on each individual. This is probably the reason my siblings and I would all report a different childhood experience to you.

So, what do you think about all of this? How much do you think your childhood nurturing impacts who you are today?

Tuesday, July 08, 2008

How Whale Song inspired artist Aynsley Nisbet to create a brilliant painting

I first heard of Aynsley Nisbet when an acquaintance of hers came up to me during the 2008 CAA CanWrite! Conference in Edmonton, Alberta. This friend told me that Aynsley had created a painting after reading Whale Song and being inspired. I hadn't seen the painting until today. I tracked Aynsley down online and the story she told gave me goosebumps, and I'm not too embarrassed to say that I had to wipe away the tears. She has given me permission to share this story with you, in her words.

This is Aynlsey's story...a story about how Whale Song impacted her life...

"It was I think last summer, or maybe spring ( I really hate keeping track of time) and I was on my way home the morning after a really long night. It was windy and I felt miserable... I got off the bus downtown and walked past Audrey's bookstore. Something in the window made me stop... it was the cover of your book. Orcas are a symbol of my childhood. I was born in Vancouver, and every weekend my father ( who had always wanted to be a marine biologist, but settled for a banker...why do some people, not do what they dream!?!!) would take me to the Aquarium. These were my favorite animals for the longest time, and still are now. They are so intimidating, fearsome but elegant... and I admit to even having a fear for them, even though I love them... I took note of the title of the book, and said to myself, "I think I need to read this book..." and then continued walking down Jasper Ave, to continue onward, down my so-called destructive life path.

The summer went by, and I was still miserable. Bitter with anger and resentment of my past, and the people in it. Me even. I hated myself... who I was every second...and was so unsure of my future. One night, after my birthday in October, I thought of the cover of Whale Song, and decided to google it. Read what it was about... I fell more in love with what it's meaning could be to me. I decided to take my biggest canvas, which stands 5 feet tall, and 4 feet wide, and put it aside... I wrote on the side... "Whale Song". I started drawing ideas, but nothing was complete...obviously, because I needed to read the book. I then got a job at Chapters, and the first thing I did with my first paycheck was buy it. I also worked at a photolab in St. Albert, and it was the type of job, where it was so slow, and all we really did was read... and I always worked alone. I worked there that day after I got the book, and I started reading...

When I was little, and we moved from Vancouver up to Fort Nelson, BC, and the long roadtrip up the Alaska Highway, and all the tall trees... were exactly how you described the initial part of Sarah's journey. My father always wanted to name me Sarah, but my mom liked Aynsley better...haha, which is alright because I feel more special to have the unique name! :) Anyways, I spent a lot of time indulging in native culture when I lived in the north and became very connected to the Wolf and
Raven... I found some sort of peace, and place in my world, at which I always
had a hard time finding because I was always the weird kid...

Well the further I read into this book that night in the lab, I couldn't stop. I actually told the electronics department that the machines were broken and I was fixing them, just so I could finish it. I cried the whole time I read it... Don't worry, these were tears of self- realization and happiness... a sort of passion and emotion I needed. A sense of forgiveness, ultimately leading to my freedom... My life over just a year ago, was not so great. I was not myself... I didn't paint. It was awful.

You're book changed my life, in ways I can't even explain... If it wasn't your gift, the idea that forgiveness sets you free... I would still be angry, hateful, resentful... all that is negative. I have learned to forgive everything that has happened in life, and now, I have become what I have always dreamed... Happy, a successful artist... at peace with myself... determined...the list could go on. I then finished drawing and painting "Whale Song"... which sits, well hangs on my wall in my Mother's basement...

Well, I think I lied when I said it was going to be a relatively short message... but I needed you to know that your wisdom and your talent as an author is greatly appreciated, and I just want to thank you for all you have done for me... helping setting me free, like a whale... in a deep and endless sea ♥ ...

Thank you so much, for writing the book that changed my life... forever.

Aynsley :)"

I will be giving away a matted and framed print of her painting..."Whale Song" (see below) so be sure to check back here for contest rules. Stay tuned!

To view all of Aynsley's paintings, please visit her photo album on Facebook:

You can also learn more about her at:

Thank you, Aynsley, for allowing me to share this. I am sure the Universe will repay you threefold.

And now...Aynsley's painting inspired by my novel Whale Song...

"Whale Song"
by Aynsley Nisbet

~Cheryl Kaye Tardif

Monday, July 07, 2008

The power and magic of 'WHALE SONG'

For a few years I've been referring to my novel Whale Song as "my heart book". I tell people it's because I am connected to it personally and emotionally. There is so much of me in that book. Sometimes I share the story of my brother Jason and how Whale Song was the way the police found me after his death. At signings, I'll sometimes share a story that a fan shared with me about how Whale Song affected him or her--how it sometimes changed a life.

It humbles me to realize that the words between the pages of Whale Song--MY words--could ever affect someone so deeply. It's changed people, brought family closer together, healed old wounds and changed the course of someone's life from destructive to constructive.

Wow...I am humbled.

I recall the story of the young woman who emailed me saying that she and her mother weren't talking anymore, too many past hurts. And then she bought Whale Song for her mom and everything changed. There was forgiveness and healing. They are now talking, sharing, laughing, crying and living with love in their hearts for each other.

Wow...I am blessed.

I remember the woman who bought Whale Song just before Mother's Day. She'd told me her mom had just passed away a few days before. I felt awful for her and talked her out of buying the book. I didn't want her to feel more pain and I thought she wouldn't be ready to deal with a book about mothers and daughters. She agreed. A few minutes later she came back to my table and said Whale Song was all she could think about. So she bought it. She was ready. She emailed me weeks later to thank me for helping her find closure.

Wow...I am awed.

And just this weekend, I heard from a young woman who told me her life had changed after reading Whale Song, and that it had inspired her to paint again, and the painting she created is unbelievably beautiful. In my next post I will tell you how Whale Song changed Aynsley Nisbet's life, and I'll share her words (with her permission) and a photo of the painting, which are the most amazing gifts anyone has given me.

Wow...I am honored.

For this and so much more, Whale Song is and always will be "my heart book".

~Cheryl Kaye Tardif

Authors: Learn how to use social networks to promote yourself

In July 2008, I presented on a panel at the 2008 CanWrite! Conference in Edmonton, Alberta. The topic of the panel was Hot Trends, Hot Markets. As an author, I was looking at this topic from the perspective of aspiring and published authors.

As someone who's been nicknamed "Shameless Promoter" because I promote my books with everything I've got, utilizing everything I can think of or learn about, I want to share what I've learned. This information will help writers and authors connect with readers and fans, which can lead to sales once a book has been published.

The question I asked myself was: "Which hot trend or market is really on fire today, one that actually benefits writers and authors?"

The answer I came up with?


~Cheryl Kaye Tardif (aka 'Shameless Promoter')

Sunday, July 06, 2008

Reviews: The Good, the Bad, or Should I Say Ugly?

It's been an interesting week. Reviews are starting to come in and for the most part, I'm pretty happy. I sent a book off to a reviewer whose website I liked and who seemed open to reviewing my type of mystery. A while later, I discovered her 4-star review on Yeah!

And then I got an e-mail from someone I didn't send the book to and who wouldn't sign their name. This person said she won my book in a draw at a mystery store (my book isn't carried at mystery stores, though I did give a complimentary copy to most of them), thought it was intriguing, but that she couldn't get past the first hundred pages because the dialogue was too "cartoonish". (Actually, I've been told by others that my dialogue's great.) The person then went on to say I shouldn't use friends to blurb my book because they're not helping me. I'm here to tell you that Cheryl Kaye Tardif wouldn't compromise her integrity by blurbing a book she thought undeserving. But I didn't tell that person this because she wouldn't have believed me.

It's all part of the writing life, and what makes it so interesting. Anyway, here's the good review:

"Debra Purdy Kong reprises her lead character, Alex Bellamy, in her book Fatal Encryption. This book begins with a murder and Alex in a frog costume. Alex takes a job at McKinleys' Department Store as a systems analyst. Someone is threatening to encrypt their system permanently. Alex delights in a challenge, but is he up to this one? Debra Purdy Kong writes with a flair for technology. Fatal Encryption has a timely plot. The thought of Alex in a frog costume brings humor and depth to his character. This is an entertaining read. Mystery readers will love it." -- Debra Gaynor for

For book excerpts visit,

Thursday, July 03, 2008

Please don't shoot the messenger...

Not politically correct, but I’m going to say it anyway; Chloe Marshall shouldn’t win the Miss UK beauty pageant. Why? Because she’s fat. And before you get all riled up, just hear me out. See, beauty pageants aren’t about making people who are over weight feel better about themselves. If someone has a body image problem (and I’m including myself here) they can go on a diet or, if they can’t be bothered to do that, then pig out and watch the Oprah/Trisha/Ricki Lake show. No, as far as I recall, beauty pageants promote healthy, natural shapes and minds; unfairly beautiful people it’s true, but ultimately people we can be happy to aspire to. We’re not talking about modelling here either. I can see a role for obese men and women in fashion because that gets the product (or piggy) to the market. Indeed, I find this more acceptable than the size zero approach that designers cling to in order to get their freaky sketches off the drawing board and it blatantly isn’t right that freaky women should be nurtured to achieve this. But like I said, beauty contests aren’t about fashion, they’re about people and people should try and be the best they can be. We shouldn’t dilute that principal to cater for gluttons who insist that big is beautiful and that everyone else should accept that. On the whole, we don’t accept it and watching a pretty girl stuff her face with chips and burgers in preparation for a Miss UK competition feels wrong.

Recycling Jimmy

Tuesday, July 01, 2008

Check out my 'work-in-progress' - Remote Control

I've added a "work-in-progress" to my site. I'll be posting additional paragraphs to it as I have time, up to the conclusion. I hope you check back every week or so.

Ironically, a TV game show came out in '87. It was called 'Remote Control'. I never heard about it until today when I did some research. Also, in 1988, a movie was released with the same title. I never saw that either. There's also another movie--one that is more current and probably better known. I'm sure you'll think of the title when you read my story. Keep in mind, I had this concept and wrote about it in 1987.

The story you're about to read was originally written in early 1987 by Cheryl Y. Kaye, in the small town of Chatham, New Brunswick, now known as the Miramichi. It was written as a 2700 word short story. However, it looks as if it will be closer to a novelette, about 10,000 words, when finished. This story was never published.

I am cleaning it up now, adding to it, changing the tense and tone and I quite like where it's going. It's not the exact original--I think now it's even better. I welcome your thoughts, so feel free to leave me a comment.

I can't recall what made me write the original story, but it has always been a favorite of mine. Perhaps it was inspired by that old saying...

"Be careful what you wish for."

And now....

Remote Control