Friday, August 31, 2007

Hey Fellow Baby Boomers – who of us feels like working at our ‘day jobs’ till we keel over?

OK. So we’ve all heard about how our generation is gonna make the social security system go bust. Forget about the fact that we’ve been getting our pockets picked since we saw our first pathetic paychecks from that crummy teenage job all those years ago. When we stared at it in adolescent dismay and squeaked out something like … “Ah, gee – Mr. Smith, what’s all this stuff that got taken out of my pay?”
It was then that we were explained to in paternal tones, that after Big Brother (the Government – City, Sate and Federal) got through picking our pockets, they came back for one more round with a little doozy called; Social Security. An interesting little shell game that we’ve all come to find out is neither very social nor secure.

I know we’ve all heard this before, but the not so subtle message - that we better put our hands back in our pockets if we expect to collect what SS is due to us, has been becoming a lot more ominous as of late.
Have you noticed for instance that the retirement age for us – The Baby Boomers – keeps moving forward; 62, 63 64, 65 – 67…! It’s kinda’ like that mechanical rabbit at the Dog Track. You know the one that they use to keep the dogs running at top speed. And the poor old mutts never seem to catch on that the faster they go, the faster the rabbit runs to keep just tantalizingly ahead of them. Just like SS, where as we approach the current retirement age, it moves tantalizingly ahead – just barely out of our reach. Just like the dogs and the rabbit.

Now the message has begun to alter slightly. “Hey Boomers – forget about that measly little SS check. Just stay on and work at those lucrative big-time, high-stress jobs that you’ve been over achieving in since you were in your twenties. Yes sir and yes ma’am – that’ll work out just find for your friendly helpful government, ‘cause if you do it will mean that…”
a.) You won’t ask for the Social Security (that we don’t have to pay you) and;
b.) You’ll keep making ‘big bucks’ that will enable you to by cars, boats and second homes for retirement (that you’ll never get to actual retire in but it will make the housing and condo markets happy) and you’ll be able to keep the economy humming along as well as;
c.) You’ll be able to continue to pay lots and lots and lots more City, State and Local taxes. And best of all;
d.) You’ll continue to pay into Social Security instead of collecting from it! (which will make your friends in the government much happier at not having to break the bad news to you that they’re spending it faster than you make it.!)

Well whew! Now that you put it that way, that sounds a lot better to me. You know, pay in instead of collect. Yes indeed, a whole lot fairer.
Plus if we take the governments obviously well meant advice, then we get to keep working at the ‘fun’ jobs we’ve been plugging away at for the 20, 30 or 40 years! Cool.
Just a couple of quick questions for the friendly, ‘man from the government who’s here to help’. You have cleared all of this with our employers, right? I mean they’re all on board with us sticking around the job until we’re into our nineties – right?
Perhaps we could be issued with government subsidized Depends and Metamucil to keep us at our desks longer.

On the other hand there is the lttle matter of those pesky younger generations who are already beginning to make unpleasant noises, saying things like, “Why don’t you guys retire and get the ‘bleep’ outta here so that we can move up to better jobs!”
And if that one doesn’t move you, then how about this. “Hey if you don’t retire, then we’re never gonna get those better jobs with the big bucks which also means that we’ll have to keep living in your basement which will mean that you’ll have to continue working to support us … Forever!”

Instead lets remember that we were the generation of ‘Protest’! The generation that The Who spoke for when they san, “We’re not gonna take it!”

So remember that the next time the friendly government man tells you what fun it will be to keep laboring away at the same old popsicle stand all through your ‘Golden Years.’
Tell him you want that crummy little check that you’ve been bustin’ a hump for all these years. And that you’re gonna take it and go bird watching, or fly fishing or back packing in the rain forest. And when you stuff the measly little thing into your pocket and amble off to ‘do your own thing’, just keep on whistling that cool old anthem of our generation … “we’re not gonna take it!”


Ric Wasley
Shadow of Innocence
Kunati - April 2007

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 – Shadow of Innocence & Acid Test - McCarthy Family Mysteries – and observing the really ‘juicy parts’ of the human condition

New 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 ,Barnes & Noble and at bookstores everywhere.

Are You Wasting Time?

Excerpted from Inspiration from a Blind brought to you by

For this issue, I want to talk about time, specifically how we waste such a precious resource. Below is excerpted from one of my forthcoming books.

We all know that time is a precious resource. (You do, do you not?) But quite often enough, our actions do not match our belief and thought on the matter. We do things that waste our times while putting what we should do way behind us--right at the back of our minds. Sure, you need to relax and not to work all the time, but I am referring to the activities you often automatically do without giving much thought to it. Relaxing and meditating are productive; smoking, gambling, and sitting in front of your television set for an extended period of time are not. Below I will briefly touch upon the most common time wasters we encounter, some of them you may never have realized as such.

Smoking is a huge time waster. All you can do while you are smoking is, well, smoke--unless you are one who does deep thinking about life's issues during smoking. Not only is smoking wasting your precious time, it is costly to both your health and pockets, but your health is what it is mostly costing.

Gambling could be fun if it is not done excessively and especially if it does not involve money--so, yes, gambling is a no-no. It is an extremely expensive time waster. It is an activity that can potentially cost you everything. Many people sell their belongings and go through heavy debt and financial burdens and troubles as a result of excess gambling.

We all know what drinking too much can do to you. Social drinking is perfectly fine. Many people become aggressive and do silly or dangerous things on impulse when too much alcohol gets into their system.

As for watching too much television--quite a few people have been guilty of it, but I am glad to say that I am not one of them. Watching one or two hours of television is perfectly fine, especially if the content is educational or entertaining without corrupting your mind. Television viewers are exposed to so much inappropriate content nowadays that young audience are taking them as the norm--and sadly, many have become the norm in our society--and they feel whatever they see on television--including murdering and raping their classmates--is acceptable. Television watching used to be a safe source for education and entertainment. Now it has turned into a source where parents have to guard what their children see. Sitting on your couch in front of your television, with a bag of popcorn (it may be your third serving)--is not only wasting your time but filling your mind and tummy with valueless fillers.

There are plenty of other time wasters that people do, and they can also do you harm if they are done excessively. Vanity and paying too much attention to your outward appearance does not only waste your time but it also wastes your true self. We are the way we are born, but sadly, not everyone likes to accept the way they are. Instead, they hide themselves under false coloring and heavy makeup, and some go to the extreme by having plastic surgery and receiving implants that are risky to their health, not to mention to their banks. How come it is so hard to accept the way we are? Why can we not realize what truly count are the values we hold inside? Everyone can become a beautiful paper rose. What good is that when it does not hold any inner worth? While I do not have anything against fixing yourself up a bit to look presentable, being fake and artificial is not desirable. Everyone wears different clothing--some with floral designs, some with stripes, while others wear solid colors. Just as you would not judge someone by what they wear, you should not judge someone by their natural outward appearance. How we naturally look is the clothing we are born in. So accept the clothes life supplies you. Always value what is inside of you and others. If other people cannot accept you and they instead judge you by your appearance, then too bad for them!

Speaking of being fake, fake gentility is another of those things that wastes your time. You might not have thought of it wasting your time. But think about it, everything you do uses time, so pretending to be someone you are not is no exception. Pretense is void; it holds no value in itself, and someone who lives with pretense lives with no meaning. It is not the same when you grit your teeth to be polite to someone you do not quite like. Fake gentility is pretending to be a different person all the time in front of many people. You are, in turn, living someone else's life, not your own.

And that brings us to the activity of showing off. As with fake gentility, it wastes your time as you perform a void task. Being arrogant and snobby also falls under this category.

Worry can be harmful when every second counts. You are letting time slip away when you fret over an urgent matter.

Gossiping and spreading rumors can waste your time as well. While chitchatting with your friends is fun and memorable, spreading the untruth is not a wise way to spend your time.

Complaining is yet another automatic time waster we do. Does complaining fix whatever you complain about? Of course, it is fine to get what is bothering you off your chest, but complaining and being upset and angry about something over an extensive period does not only waste your time but is not good to your mental health and spirit.

Fighting and bickering can be the same as being angry or upset, but with a much worse physical and mental effect. Violence, either done verbally or physically, but especially the latter, is never a way to successfully resolve a problem.

We measure time by calculating what we have achieved through time. Each day can be very different. You may be very productive one day and the next day you become a couch potato. When you use up your time by doing the mentioned time wasters, even though you have spent a lot of time, none of the time has been put to good use.

So how do you know that you are not doing something that wastes your time? To find out, ask yourself the following questions.

1. Am I learning something? Learning is not just about book material--you can learn about a life matter or a new perspective on an issue. So if you spend five hours on a computer, and most of that time, you are learning something, then you will not be wasting your time.

2. Is what I am doing morally acceptable? It is important to use your time to being a good person; time spent on goodness is the most worthwhile time spent ever. By doing something immoral wastes away your value. You may think, how what I am doing can be unacceptable when everyone else I know does it. Does that make the activity morally acceptable? Just because many people do the same thing does not mean what they do is morally right.

The third way to find out if you have not wasted your time is to see how you feel after you have performed the activity. Do you feel spiritually cleared and rejuvenated, and are you more happy and relaxed? Do you feel content after the task? Do you overall feel truly good about yourself afterward? If you feel in some way empty and uneasy means that you have not spent your time wisely. It is especially true if you feel ashamed or embarrassed to tell others what you did.

The reason why some people are good friends with time wasters is because they do not realize the importance and value of every minute of time. In essence, they do not understand the importance and value of life. When you truly want to live a worthwhile life, you will be able to know how to identify time wasters, and therefore, never let them take up your time.

So be a lover of life and scorn those time wasters!

Until next time, be sure to spend your time wisely. Once time is gone, it's gone forever.

Shirley Cheng,

Last day of Cheryl Kaye Tardif's virtual book tour: read chapter 2 of Children of the Fog

Today marks the end of my month long virtual book tour, and I will confess, I am exhausted! It's been a long time since I've written these many articles and answered these many interviews. :) But I had so much fun visiting all of my hosts' wonderful sites, getting to know them and answering questions from visitors via email or comments.

Thank you! You have all made my 'Touring the World' virtual book tour a success! And I look forward to doing it again.

For today's stop, and because I had so many email requests, I have given you chapter 2 of my new unpublished novel, Children of the Fog.

You will notice a "book cover". This is something I designed to inspire me and it is not intended to be the actual cover. In fact, I'm hoping my publisher will come up with something even more eerie and creepy and foggy. :) On the back of my mock up cover is the following text:

Would you let a monster take your child?

A mother's descent into alcoholism and madness leads to strange apparitions and a face-to-face encounter with the monster who abducted her son--a man known only as...

The Fog.

Sadie O'Connell is a bestselling author and a proud mother. But her life is about to spiral out of control.

After her six-year-old son Sam is kidnapped by a serial abductor known as The Fog, she nearly goes insane. But it isn't just the fear and grief that is ripping her apart. It's the guilt.

She is the only person who knows what The Fog looks like. And she can't tell a soul. For if she does, her son will be sent back to her in "little bloody pieces".

When her unfaithful husband stumbles across a drawing of The Fog, he sets into play a series of horrific events that sends Sadie hurtling over the edge. Unable to deal with her pain, she drowns her sorrow the only way she knows.

"Tardif specializes in mile-a-minute pot-boiler mysteries." --Edmonton Sun

Read chapter 2 of Children of the Fog by Cheryl Kaye Tardif

Read the prologue and chapter 1 first!

Friday, August 17, 2007

No pain, no gain.

Once again I find that Cherly gets me blogging. Take a lesson Derek!!)))). You know, if I didn't know better, I'd say that she sows these seeds well knowing that there'll be another link in it for her! This time it was Cheryl's very personal account of her brother's tragic death that, having initially touched me, then got me thinking. You see, what grabbed and impressed me more than anything in that heartfelt account was her inspirational reaction to a very painful and personal tragedy. Cheryl's thoughts and actions gave me another slant on my own recent 'tragedy', that being a very sticky and, well to be honest, quite vicious divorce.

For those who haven't experienced it, getting thrown out of your family sucks. Losing contact with your kids and watching from a distance as some other bloke seeps slowly into their lives hurts like hell. Sitting in silence as a judge packages up everything you own before handing it to the person who did all this too you, well that’s just plain wrong; pumps you full of hate. Finding yourself on the wrong end of a divorce is bad.

Or is it? Okay, I accept that it has its down side, but on balance would it be true to say that divorce is fundamentally a bad thing? I mean ultimately, if you look at the end game, what divorce actually manages to do is disconnect; put legal and emotional space between us and something that has become, over whatever period and for whatever reasons, a threat to our happiness. Understanding that this painful process is necessary from inside a marriage, I would suggest, is impossible for all but the most philosophical and even then, even if we had the courage to remove the rose coloured glasses and see the drab colours of a stale relationship, would that revelation really change our view of the world (and particularly how we judge our own decisions and behaviour within that marital mess)? I suspect not. Just like me and my cigarettes. I know they’re trying to kill me but I keep them close by and kiss them all the same. You see, my problem with giving up smoking is that there’s nothing to motivate me, other than the knowledge that it is bad for my health. Unfortunately though, that knowledge just isn’t enough. I need something more tangible. I need to find myself hunched over, gagging for breath five minutes into a game of football or clutching at a stitch as I miss the bus. Maybe then I’ll have the tools I need to walk away and not look back. And this is another thing that the whole divorce process does for us; it gives us pain. It sticks prying fingers deep into the most sensitive parts, salts the wounds and like an x-ray backlit on the surgeon’s wall, illustrates to the world that, beyond doubt, something is bad and has to be removed before it consumes and ruins totally. Imagine a divorce without all the nasty business to sterilise and wipe the dreams away? I can’t. I think it would be torture to be left outside of something that you still loved and desired. Heart surgery may be painful, but once it’s done, it’s done.

Of course all this is only my take on it. I’m no expert but I am recently divorced and I guess far enough through the other side now to think about what just happened. And when I do, I smile. Sure there are moments of reflection, twinges from time to time but nothing to worry about. And having been given the chance to re-evaluate and remodel, I’m more than happy with the way things are turning out. Selfishly some might say I’ve put a lot of effort into ‘me’ over the past twelve months. I’m skiing again, plenty of travel, thrashing the guitar a whole lot better than I used to and recently had my first novel published. No doubt, shifting the focus back toward my own happiness for a while has certainly helped Andy Tilley; not to forget what happened to him but to remember who he was before getting swept away in a bad marriage. And if proof is needed that what we perceive as personal tragedy (in my case divorce) isn’t necessarily something to fear, I find myself in love again. Seems like the old heart is perhaps more resilient than I for one gave it credit for. Then again, maybe it’s just more stupid than I thought!


Tuesday, August 14, 2007

Day 14 of VBT: Read Chapter 1 of Cheryl Kaye Tardif's terrifying thriller The River

Praise for Tardif’s riveting techno-thriller… THE River

“Cheryl Kaye Tardif has once again captivated readers in her third novel and latest suspense thriller, The River. Set in the wilds of Canada 's north, The River combines intrigue, science, love and adventure and is sure to keep readers clamoring for more.” ― Edmonton Sun

“Exciting and vivid. Tardif’s latest novel sweeps readers along into uncharted, wild Canadian territory. A thrilling adventure...” ― Midwest Book Review

“A wild river ride of tension, intrigue and romance as a motley crew of adventurers take you on a search for a man of the past who holds the key to the future, and the secret to eternal youth and power. Hang on--it's going to be a bumpy ride! Excellent read!” ― Silver Moon Magazine

Dear Reader:

One of my mother’s friends had a dream to travel along a mysterious river in Canada . When my mother told me some of the rumors of this river―the name of which she couldn’t remember―I became hooked and a chilling story began to brew in my mind. The search was on to find that river.

The South Nahanni River in Canada ’s rugged Northwest Territories is one of the most spectacular sights in the world. It is fraught with exquisite beauty and hidden dangers. It is also filled with an abundance of plant and animal life―not to mention, woven with legends ‘older than dirt’, as my husband would say.

This may be the river to which my mother’s friend was referring. Or it may not. Nevertheless, the Nahanni River holds many secrets. Decades ago headless skeletons and corpses were discovered along its banks. Over the years, people have gone missing, and I’ve heard it referred to as the ‘Bermuda Triangle of Canada’.

Although THE RIVER is interwoven with fact, this novel is a work of fact…and fiction.

I’ll let you be the judge of which is which.

Take the ride of your life, down…

The River

©2005 Cheryl Kaye Tardif


She always leads with her heart,” a voice croaked.

Startled by the interruption, Del Hawthorne lifted her head and gasped, shocked.

What the―?

A man stood in the doorway to her classroom, panting for breath. He was in his late seventies and wore a grimy suede jacket over a once-pristine white dress shirt. The shirt was torn and stained with what looked suspiciously like dried blood. The man’s tailored black pants were ripped from the knees down.

He stumbled inside and slammed the door.

Del threw a warning look at Peter Cavanaugh , her young anthropology protégé. Rising slowly from her desk, she faced the old man.

“Can I help you, sir?”

His stringy gray hair covered part of his face and was in desperate need of a shampoo and cut. His mottled, creviced skin reminded her of weathered cedar bark. But it was the man’s glazed yet vaguely familiar eyes that made her heart skip a beat.

Did she know him?


The man’s eyes flashed dangerously. “She always leads with her heart!”

Del gulped in a breath.

It wasn’t every day that she heard her father’s favorite saying―especially when it wasn’t her father saying it. Instead, the words were coming from a man who looked like he had escaped from the psych ward.

How the hell did he make it past security?

She looked at her watch. Damn!

After six o’clock , security was reduced to two men on the Anthropology wing. And they were probably on rounds or at the snack machine.

She glanced at Peter.

The young man was terrified. He stood motionless at the far end of the room, his head drooping against his chest.

“Campus security will be here soon,” he said quietly.

The man turned half-closed eyes toward Peter. “Who’s that?”

Del took a hesitant step forward. She rested her hands at the edge of her desk, careful not to draw the man’s attention.

Where’s the damn button?

Security had installed silent alarm buttons underneath the lip of every faculty member’s desk. Times had changed. Schools, colleges and universities had become common targets of deranged psychopaths hell-bent on murder.

She pushed the button and drew in a breath, praying desperately that it wasn’t the case today. “Security will be here any minute.”

The old man’s head whipped around, his eyes pleading. “Don’t you recognize me?”

“Should I?”

Whatever reaction she was expecting to see, didn’t prepare her for the one she got. Instead of answering her question, the man slumped to the floor, babbling incoherently. His right hand reached shakily into the folds of the jacket.

She stabbed repeatedly at the alarm button.

Where the hell is security?

Terrified, she saw the man pull something bulky from his jacket.

A gun?

Suddenly, two armed security guards rushed into the room.

Then all hell broke loose.

One minute, she was standing behind her desk. The next, she was on the floor―with Peter Cavanaugh on top of her.

She waited, holding her breath, expecting shots of gunfire. But there were none. Instead, she heard scuffling sounds and a few grunts.

Finally, one of the guards called out. “We got him, Professor.”

She heaved a sigh of relief.

“You okay?” Peter asked, his boy-next-door face bare inches from hers.

She groaned. “Uh, Cavanaugh? Security has him under control, so you can get off me now. You’re crushing me.”

Peter turned a delicious shade of lobster red.

“Didn’t want you to get shot,” he mumbled, helping her to her feet.

She brushed herself off, then glanced toward the door.

The guards dragged the intruder out into the hall.

That’s when she heard the man shout, “Delly! It’s me!”

Only one person in the world had ever called her ‘Delly’.


She ran toward the old man.

“I’ve seen it,” he hissed, his eyes wild. “I’ve seen the future…not human…monsters!”

“ Schroeder?” she whispered. “Is that you?”

The old man’s gaze locked on her. “You have to stop the Director, Delly!”

A shiver raced up her spine. “Director of what? Professor, we thought you were dead. You, my dad, the other men…”

Schroeder leaned closer, tears welling in his eyes. “They’re going to kill your father, Delly.”

“He-he’s alive?”

“For now. The little bastards have him. You have to destroy the cell. I know how to get in. To the secret river. I know how to get in…and out.”

“Hawthorne,” one of the guards said. “We have to take him downstairs.”

Halfway down the hall, Schroeder’s head whipped around.

“Follow your heart, Delly. And remember…only one!”

The guards half-dragged him into the elevator.

“Schroeder!” she yelled. “What are you talking about?”

His dull brown eyes flared like a trapped fox, wild and feral.

“It’s all in the book. Destroy the cell, Delly. Find the river and stop the Director before he destroys humanity.”

The elevator doors hissed shut.

Del leaned against the wall outside her classroom. Her legs ached and vibrated. When her vision wavered, she closed her eyes and welcomed the darkness.

They’re going to kill him, Delly.

Was her father really alive?

Someone called her name. Peter.

He stood beside her, clutching something to his chest. Whatever it was, he gripped it as though he were holding the treasures of the Egyptian Pharaohs.

“He dropped this,” he said, handing her a book. “It’s what the old guy was reaching for. You gonna be alright, Professor?”

She nodded. “See you tomorrow, Peter.”

Del returned to her empty classroom, firmly closing and locking the door behind her. She made it across the room before her legs gave out. Dropping into a chair, she took a few deep breaths, then she picked up the leather-bound book that Peter had given her.

The cover was stained, partially missing. There was nothing on it except for an embossed symbol that was hard to make out.

Perhaps a cross.

She traced what was left of it with one finger.

Schroeder, what happened to you?

Arnold Schroeder was a renowned genius in anthropology. Whenever he had visited Del ’s father, which was often, he would take Del under his wing and teach her something new. He was the reason she was teaching anthropology at the University of British Columbia . Schroeder had been her idol.

Other than Dad, of course.

Del carefully opened the journal, her fingertips barely grazing it. She flipped the pages, reading sentences here and there, trying to make sense of Schroeder’s notes. Most of the entries in the journal appeared to be written in some kind of code and they were next to impossible to decipher. She was about to put the book down when a name jumped from the page.

Lawrence V. Hawthorne.

Just below her father’s name, a date was scribbled.

January 2001.

Her hand began to shake.


She yanked open a drawer and rifled through it.

Finally, she found what she was looking for―a photograph taken seven years ago. Back in 1998. In it, her father and Schroeder stood side by side wearing jeans, t-shirts and silly fishing hats. They had infectious grins on their faces, probably laughing at some private joke. The photo had been taken the day that her father, Schroeder and two associates had left for ‘the adventure of a lifetime’.

In the summer of ‘98, a new intern at Bio-Tec Canada, the company Del’s father worked for, suggested a summer rafting excursion down the Nahanni River in the Northwest Territories. The intern seduced him with native legends about veins of undiscovered gold, and headless skeletons and corpses lining the banks of the river. Her father became consumed by the idea of exploring one of Canada’s most spectacular sights, and he convinced Schroeder and his boss to accompany them.

The four men went missing three days later.

A search party was sent down the Nahanni, and the investigators discovered a headless skeleton a few miles downriver from Virginia Falls. Most of the flesh had been consumed by wild animals and the bones were badly decayed, but a forensics expert was able to identify the body.

It was Neil Parnitski, CEO of Bio-Tec Canada.

There was no sign of Del’s father…or the other men.

A week later, the search party found a bloody shirt on the shore and scalp tissue embedded into a rock. DNA tests showed that most of the blood matched her father’s, while the scalp tissue was Schroeder’s. The investigators also said that based on the amount of blood found at the scene, even a doctor couldn’t have survived without medical attention. Six months later, the investigation was closed, the missing men presumed dead.

Del stroked the photograph of her father.

He’s a dead man.

Schroeder’s words echoed in her mind, and she was unable to shake the doomed sensation that crept under her skin and invaded every pore.

She stared out the window into the darkening night sky, remembering the day her mother had told her that her father was presumed dead, months after his disappearance. She recalled the funeral a week later, and remembered standing in the pouring rain at the edge of the gaping hole as an empty casket was lowered into the muddy ground. The funeral had been three days before her twenty-fifth birthday―a birthday that came and went without any fanfare.

Del never celebrated her birthday anymore. Too many memories.

Now, staring at her father’s picture, the overwhelming grief she had felt seven years ago came back with a vengeance.

They’re going to kill him, Delly.

It was past eight o’clock when Del reached her small house in Port Coquitlam. Parking her car under the carport, she grabbed her briefcase and went inside.

“Honey, I’m ho-ome!”

An overweight, one-eared, brown-tinged Siamese darted toward her and anxiously rubbed up against her leg, mewing mournfully at the same time.

“Oh, Kayber! You act like I never feed you.”

She had found the cat in her backyard five months ago. He was bruised and scratched, his right ear hanging by a piece of skin. He looked like he had been in a barroom brawl―and lost. She had adopted him on the spot.

Although, she often wondered if it weren’t the other way around.

Tossing her briefcase on the couch, she returned to the kitchen, poured some cat kibble into a dish and set it on the floor. Then she sat on the couch, picking at a bowl of leftover macaroni casserole and sipping vanilla tea.

Her gaze drifted over the photographs on the mantle of the brick fireplace and dozens of memories raced through her mind. Memories of good times, happy times. Times when her father was alive―before he disappeared and left a dark void in her life.

She slid the bowl of half-eaten casserole onto the coffee table and pulled the journal from her briefcase. She leafed through the book, stopping when she came to a page filled with unfamiliar words, abbreviations, numbers and symbols.

NB…resistant to…≠

DC #02541-87654-18 prov. base….BSC & syn. CSF in

V. saline…gn.

She found several references to her father but couldn’t make out the content. A few pages in, the journal lapsed into page after page of numerical code. An hour went by and she was only one-third into it when she found an odd entry.

Bio-T Can…key!

She hissed in a breath.

Bio-Tec Canada?

Her father had worked for Bio-Tec. Why was that in Schroeder’s notes? Other than her father, Neil Parnitski and the intern, Schroeder had never had any contact with anyone else at Bio-Tec. He was an anthropologist. Bio-Tec was a research company exploring biotechnology.

Del was baffled.

She pushed the journal aside and flicked the remote control in the direction of the CD player. As Alexia Melnychuk’s smooth voice filled the room, Del stretched out on the couch and closed her eyes.

Kayber, having wolfed down his food, immediately took this as an invitation and jumped up on her stomach. All twenty-two pounds of him.

“What is it with males jumping on top of me today?”

As she thought of Peter Cavanaugh with his Tobey Maguire-like face, a smile formed on her lips. Peter was in his first year of studies, but he had missed too many classes due to an ailing grandmother, which resulted in an ‘incomplete’ on the regular one-year course. That was why he was taking her summer class.

Ten years younger, he was an embarrassingly shy kid, a bit of a loner―except when he was around Del. He had a severe crush on her. She knew it. Hell, everyone knew it. Half the faculty thought she was sleeping with him. But she wasn’t. She wasn’t a cougar. She didn’t go after younger men. Unlike her mother.

Del unceremoniously pushed Kayber aside, then reached for the phone and dialed her mother’s number. After several rings, someone picked up.

“Yeah? Wh-who’s this?”

Ken, her mother’s newest conquest and third husband, had been drinking again.

That’s what you get when you marry a nightclub owner.

“Is my mother there?”

“What ya want her for?”

“Just put her on, Ken.”

She listened while her mother’s husband stumbled through the house. He swore loudly after he dropped the phone. She swore too as the sound reverberated into her ear.


Jesus! What’s taking him so long? Did he pass out?

She waited, listening to faint shuffling sounds. She was about to hang up when her mother’s cool voice greeted her.

“Maureen Walton speaking.”

“Hi, it’s me.”


“It’s Delila, Mother.”

God forbid if you forget to introduce yourself!

She couldn’t believe that her mother was still playing that game. The woman lived for formality. Proper manners and etiquette, shaking hands, addressing elders by their surnames and owning a house that was treated like a show home. It was all part of her mother’s attempt to become the next Manners. Or, God forbid, Martha Stewart.

“Delila, I haven’t heard from you in weeks. Why haven’t you come to visit us?”

Del cringed, remembering the last time she had visited. The time Ken tried to cop a feel when she passed him in the hall.

“I’ve been busy.”

“Too busy to visit your own mother?”

Great! Here it comes.

“When you were sick with the flu, was I too busy to bring you some magazines?”

Her mother’s voice was tinged with disapproval.

“And when you went away with Tyler or whatever his name is, was I too busy to feed that filthy animal?”

Del held the receiver away from her ear and threw Kayber a rueful look. “She’s never going to forgive you for peeing in her shoes.”

She gave her mother a few minutes to vent, then drew the phone back to her ear.

What could she possibly say that would shut the woman up?

“Dad’s alive.”

A sharp gasp on the other end was followed by silence.

“Well, that worked,” she said dryly to Kayber who was busy grooming himself.

She pressed her ear against the receiver.

Dead air.

“Are you there, Mother?”

“Of course, Delila. Now what’s this nonsense about your father?”

“I had a visitor today. Schroeder.”

“Arnold? But that’s not possible, dear. They found a piece of his head.”

“His scalp.”


Del gritted her teeth. “They found a piece of his scalp, Mother. And a bit of hair. That’s all.”

"Well, whatever. He was dead and buried along with Neil , Vern and your father six years ago.”

Del resisted the urge to correct her again. It had been seven years.


"Yes, dear. The young man, your father’s assistant or whatever he was. At least I think his name was Vern. Or maybe it was Victor …”

Her mother’s voice dwindled away, lost in thought.

“Schroeder says that Dad is alive. He gave me a journal. It has some strange notes in it, Dad’s name―”

“Arnold always was a bit of an odd duck, Delila. I wouldn’t take too much that man said seriously. God only knows where he’s been.”

“I’m going to bring him back, Mother.”

There was a pause on the other end.


“No. I’m going after Dad.”

“You can’t be serious, Delila. He’s dead!”

“I am serious. I’m bringing Dad home.”

She hung up, feeling both relieved and irritated.

Why was her mother so heartless? Her parents had been married nearly thirty years. Didn’t that count for anything? Didn’t the woman care that her husband might still be alive? Or was it that her mother didn’t want her perfect little life to come crashing down?

Del scowled.

She was the first to admit she certainly wasn’t an expert on relationships. Look how long it took her to realize that TJ was screwing around on her. He had moved into her house and her heart.

Then he betrayed both.

She would never forget the day she came home early, barely able to walk and yearning for her bed―only to find that it was otherwise occupied.

Her neighbor, Julie Adams, had always been asking whether the rumors about a black man’s libido and the size of a specific part of his anatomy were true. Now Julie knew.

Del had kicked TJ out on his ass that same day.

She shrugged off the dark mood that threatened to engulf her and gave Kayber a quick pat on the head. With the journal and briefcase in her hands, she walked to the large second bedroom that doubled as an office. She flicked on the lamp and was immediately greeted by a pile of final summer exams that screamed to be marked.

Turning a deaf ear, she nudged them aside, opened her briefcase and pulled out an empty notebook. She wrote a reminder at the top of the first page.

Find out where Schroeder is. Go see him!

Then she began to translate Schroeder’s journal.

An hour later, she gave up trying to make sense of the scribbled notes and strange numerical code. When she finally crawled into bed after marking the exams, it was after midnight.

She lay in the dark, the flicker of shadows moving through her room. She pictured her father as she remembered him. Tall, with golden brown hair and rich brown eyes. He was always happy, always smiling.

She closed her eyes, her lashes damp with unshed tears.

I’m coming for you, Dad.

©2005 Cheryl Kaye Tardif

Read Chapter 2.

Get the whole story. Order THE RIVER now.

This month I am giving away free books at some of my virtual book tour stops, so be sure to check my schedule and drop by.

To order The River, please order from, or any other online retailer, or ask for it at your favorite bookstore.

Also, if you order Whale Song plus two other Kunati titles, you can qualify to enter Kunati’s Great Summer Reads Contest.

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

(Please note: there were some minor spacing issues while pasting this chapter into this site. They do not appear in the printed text of the novel. CKT)

Sunday, August 12, 2007

Day 12: Cheryl visits Grow Mercy and talks about how murder touched her life

On Grow Mercy I share a very personal tregedy with you, and I explain how Whale Song is benefitting others:

Let me introduce you to author Cheryl Kaye Tardif and her story…and how she is using one story to help homeless people.

Thanks, Steve, for having me visit Grow Mercy on Day 12 of my ‘Touring the World’ virtual book tour, where I’m promoting my latest novel Whale Song, a novel that will change the way you view life…and death. This is the first stop where I get truly personal, sharing a very painful part of my life…but one that is also filled with hope.

First, I’d like to pose a few questions. If you saw a beggar on the sidewalk, hand out for a bit of change, would you scowl, judge him and walk by? Or would you say ‘Sorry, I don’t have any change.” Or would you buy him a coffee and donut? Or would you hand him some money?...

Read the entire story at

This is also my big 44 prizes contest day. To qualify to enter you must order Whale Song today from or! More on this at Grow Mercy.

Saturday, August 11, 2007

Virtual book tours -- what are they and how do you have one?

Want to know more about virtual book tours, how to organize one and how they benefit authors, hosts and avid readers? If so, then drop by to find out how much work went into Cheryl Kaye Tardif's 1-month 'Touring the World' VBT.

There is a new wave of online marketing on the rise―virtual book tours (also known as virtual author tours or blog tours). About five years ago, various authors decided to promote their works online at host sites and announce those dates just as they would a bona fide book signing tour. It started off small―one or two appearances on someone else’s website. In fact, virtual book tours (VBTs) have really only taken off in the past year or two.

The concept is simple: the author “tours” various blogs and sites, often ones pertaining to a theme in the book or the host’s theme, or to writing in general. This way, an author can potentially reach thousands of avid readers each tour day from the privacy of his or her office or home...

Read Cheryl Kaye Tardif's article: Virtual Book Tours - Touring the World.

Also, be sure to order Cheryl's novel Whale Song on August 12th from or to qualify to enter for her 44 Prizes giveaway!

Monday, August 06, 2007

Chapter 2 of Whale Song, a novel that will change how you view life...and death

Day 7: Cheryl's 'Touring the World' virtual book tour - here's Chapter 2 of Whale Song, a haunting and compelling novel by Cheryl Kaye Tardif.

If you want to read the Prologue and Chapter 1 first, please go HERE.

Whale Song

©2007 Cheryl Kaye Tardif


IT WAS THE dazzling light that hit us first.

Large picture windows wrapped the entire front of the house and faced the ocean. The flaming sunset outside made the interior glow like the embers of a fire.

“Wow,” I murmured.

My eyes swept across the open main floor. There was a living room to my left. It was decorated in bronze and copper tones, and two beige plaid couches framed a chocolate-brown area rug. To my right, a dining room table and four chairs claimed the area in front of one of the windows.

I ran to it, almost knocking over a potted plant. I looked out the window and stared, mesmerized, as the setting sun sparkled on the bay.

“I can hear the ocean, Dad.”

The door behind us opened and my mother joined us, her face instantly lighting up. “It’s beautiful, Jack.”

“It’s private too,” my father said. “The nearest neighbor is about a fifteen-minute walk down the beach.” He teasingly ruffled my hair. “Hey, do you want to check out the rest of the house?”

“Do I ever,” I said, my eyes wide with anticipation.

He led me to a large closet by the back door. “This is the closet.” His voice was serious, as if he were a realtor showing me a potential property.

I laughed. “No kidding, Dad.”

I took off my jacket and hung it in the empty space. That was my first claim on my new home.

“Over here is the living room,” my father said with a sweep of one hand.

I pointed to a large black monstrosity. “What is that thing?”

My mother stifled a gasp. “A wood-burning stove. How charming. I love it, Jack.” She spun on her heel slowly and surveyed the room. “You were right about this house. It’s perfect for us.”

I agreed. The house was far better than I had expected.

I walked closer to the stove.

Over it, a cedar shelf was mounted to the peach-colored wall. On it was a peculiar collection of oddities—an eagle’s feather, a fisherman’s glass ball wrapped with twine, a skull from a small animal and a crab shell.

I looked up and gasped. “Mom! That’s your painting.”

The large watercolor that hung above the shelf was the one my mother had painted while she was pregnant with me. It was of a mountain waterfall and was her very favorite. Mine too.

“I sent it on ahead so it would be here when we arrived,” my father explained. “I asked the caretaker to hang it. He also made sure we have lots of firewood. And he turned the electricity back on.”

“Let’s check out the kitchen,” my mother said, rubbing her hands gleefully.

A spacious country kitchen with a wooden island was tucked around the corner, barely visible. The walls were painted the palest sage green and along the ceiling edge ran a soft leafy border. A small round table and two chairs sat in one corner.

My mother busied herself by checking out the fully stocked cupboards and making a pot of tea while I continued my exploration of the lower level of the house. Between the kitchen and dining room area, a wrought iron staircase led to the upper floor. Behind the stairs, a sliding glass door opened onto a cedar deck.

“Can I go out there?” I asked my father.

He smiled. “Of course. It’s your house now.”

We stepped outside and the humid night air enveloped us.

“Hey,” I shouted. “A swinging chair.”

The deck held a padded swing, big enough for three people. There was also a barbecue and a picnic table with two benches. A protective wooden rail ran around the entire deck, with an opening for the stairs that led to the ground below.

I leaned over the rail.

A well-trodden rocky path led from the bottom of the stairs, through the grass and down to the beach. From the deck, I saw waves crashing on the fiery shore. Better yet, I heard them. I breathed in the salty air, thrilled with my new home.

Then I turned and darted inside, urging my father to follow.

“Come on, Dad,” I yelled. “I want to see my room.”

He smiled and remained where he was. “You two go ahead.”

Grabbing my mother’s hand, I raced up the spiral staircase to the upper floor. Under my pounding feet, the stairs groaned with a dull clang. I turned down the hall and entered the first room on the right.

The room was tiny, like a baby’s nursery. But there was no crib. There wasn’t even a bed. The walls were painted off-white, but looked like they had definitely seen better days. Small tables, old toys and cardboard boxes littered the floor. A rocking chair sat motionless near a large window and an antique bookshelf took up one wall. Dusty encyclopedias and ancient books inhabited the shelves.

I drew a heart in the dust.

“This room needs a good cleaning,” my mother muttered.

I yanked back my hand and eyed her suspiciously. I was positive that she had plans for me, plans that included a dust rag in one hand and lemon furniture polish in the other.

“This’ll be my studio,” she said, eying the room.

I barged past her out into the hall. “I want to see my room.”

The next room I entered boasted a large brass bed with down-filled pillows and a flowered quilt. Along the side walls stood two white colonial dressers, one with a large oval mirror. The other wall had a cedar bench seat built into a bay window that faced the ocean.

I fell in love with that room immediately.

I turned, fingers crossed behind my back. “Is this your room?”

I fervently hoped it was not.

My mother looked around the room and pointed to the boxes stacked to one side. On the bottom box, the letter S had been scribbled in red marker.

“Looks like it’s yours, Honey-Bunny.”

I rolled my eyes at her.

My parents had been calling me that ridiculous nickname since I was a baby, but I didn’t have the heart to ask them to stop.

Looking around my new room, I was elated. It was twice the size of the one back home, the bed was huge and I could see the ocean from my window.

“I love it, Mom,” I said, stifling a yawn.

After I took a peek at my parents’ room and the large upstairs bathroom, I followed my mother down to the kitchen where I devoured a piece of toast with peanut butter and maple syrup. All through my snack, I wrestled with exhaustion, afraid that I would miss something wonderful. My mother noticed and sent me to bed early.

That was the first time I didn’t argue.

In my beautiful ocean room, I sat in the window seat and cranked open the side panel. I heard waves lapping softly against the shore. In the distance, a water bird cried out, searching for his home.

I didn’t know it then, but I had found mine.

Everything in the new house was perfect. But I missed Amber-Lynn. I had promised her that I would call and write to her every week. After all, best friends were hard to find. We’d been inseparable since we were two years old. Her parents and mine had often played cards together while the two of us stayed up past midnight watching movies until we fell asleep.

Now I was hundreds of miles away from my friend, but I pledged my undying devotion to her. My only consolation was that in three years I’d be returning to Wyoming , to my ranch and to Amber-Lynn.

Three years.

To a child my age, three years was a lifetime.

As the moon dipped lower behind the trees, I climbed into my new bed and sniffed the spring-fresh sheets.

Then I sank into a dreamless sleep.

“CAN I GO OUTSIDE?” I asked my father the next morning.

We were eating breakfast while my mother slept in.

“Sure. Let’s go for a walk.”

I followed him onto the deck, down the stairs and across the rocky trail to the beach. The sun gleamed off his blond hair, highlighting a few gray ones. At forty-one, my father was the handsomest man I knew. And I loved him more than I loved anyone in the world. He was my idol. He always made my mother and me laugh. He’d pretend he understood the creatures of the sea and he’d tell us what they thought of his fellow professors. Apparently, some of the whales didn’t have too many nice things to say about them.

I studied my father as he leaned forward and picked up a rock. He examined it with what my mother and I called his scientific mind. Then he skipped it across the water.

When I tried to mimic him, my rock sank with a thud.

“Like this,” he said.

He showed me how to select a flat stone and fling it toward the water’s surface like a Frisbee.

“You have to throw it hard, but keep it flat.”

I practiced skipping stones until my arm ached.

“Last one,” I said, frustrated.

I flung a smaller stone and to my amazement, it skipped.

One…two…three times.

“You did it!” my father cheered.

We followed the beach a few yards from our house. The shoreline of multi-colored rocks disappeared and a sandy beach curved toward the water.

I squealed with delight and pointed to a floating raft anchored maybe fifteen yards out into the water. “Is that ours?”

My father’s eyes turned serious and dark. “This is all part of our property. It’s safe to swim out to the raft, just don’t go any farther.”

I looked out over the water and noticed an island not too far away. My father stared at it too and I wondered what he was thinking. It wasn’t until after supper that I found out.

That was when he told me the story of Fallen Island.

“Last year, the son of one of our neighbors tried to swim out to Fallen Island,” he began. “The story I heard was that the boy challenged his younger sister to swim from the raft to the island. When she refused, he went anyway. They say he made it most of the way across.” He paused and I clung to my chair, waiting.

“No one knows if he got caught in an old fishing net or if he just got too tired,” he continued. “His sister tried swimming out to him, but I guess she panicked and went back to the raft. Her parents found her an hour later, sitting on it, staring at the island.”

“Did they find the boy?” I asked.

My father shook his head. “Search teams dragged the bay, but they never found his body. I heard that his sister went to the beach every day for months, hoping to catch sight of her brother. She believed he was still alive. He was only fourteen.”

“That’s an awful story,” my mother moaned. She turned and patted my back. “Your dad never should have told you.”

“There’s a reason I did,” my father argued, looking at me. “I want you to promise, Sarah, that you’ll never swim farther than that raft.”

There were times when he scared me. And that was one of those times. The intensity of his words combined with his piercing blue eyes made me swallow hard.

“Promise me,” he repeated firmly.

As I made that solemn vow, I reminded myself that promises were sacred, not to be broken. I knew that he loved me and that he was only protecting me, or trying to.

My father would always be my protector.

THE FIRST WEEK went by swiftly. Our days were spent exploring the beach. My mother was happy because my father didn’t have to go to work for two weeks. I watched them take off their shoes and run along the water’s edge, laughing like children and holding hands. If Amber-Lynn had been there, I would have felt mortified by my parents’ display. Since I was the only witness, I just smiled and watched.

During the second week, my father often went into town to get supplies. I’m sure he just wanted to escape all the cleaning my mother had planned. While he was gone, I helped her clean her new studio. We emptied one side of it and made room for her painting supplies. I dusted the numerous books while she washed the floor and stored the owners’ boxes in the basement.

By mid-afternoon, the room sparkled and a faint lemony fragrance lingered in the air. As a finishing touch, we placed some candles and an oil lamp on the round table beside the rocking chair.

“There,” I said, setting a blank canvas on the easel. “Now you’re ready to paint.”

My mother shook her head. “Not quite. At least, not that kind of painting.”

To my dismay, she pulled out two cans and two large paint rollers. It appeared that the walls were going to get a new coat. Resigned to my fate, I grabbed a roller and started painting. She started on one side and I started on the other, until we met in the middle. By the time we were finished, we were covered in paint and giggling like children.

It’s one of my favorite memories.

“Good job,” my mother said, shaking my hand as we admired the finished result. She leaned against the hallway wall. “I’m exhausted. And thirsty. How about some iced tea?”

I laughed and raced down the stairs ahead of her.

By the time she reached the deck, I had already set two tall glasses— complete with lemon slices—and a pitcher of iced tea on the picnic table.

I crossed my fingers behind my back. “Can I go swimming?”

My mother stared out at the bay. “I’m really tired, Sarah. I need to lie down for a bit.”

“You don’t have to come with me,” I assured her. “I promise I’ll only swim out to the raft. You know I’m a good swimmer.”

I knew she was thinking of all the swimming lessons I’d taken at the Buffalo Recreation Center. I was an advanced swimmer, ahead of most kids my age. Not many eleven-year-olds could swim as fast or as far as I could. In fact, the last class I’d taken before we moved was with kids two years older than me. I’d even earned a badge for Intermediate Lifesaving.

“Just for two hours,” she said with a sigh. “Don’t be gone longer than that.”

I gulped down my iced tea and checked my watch. Darn! It was already two o’clock.

Charging upstairs, I changed into a one-piece bathing suit. When I caught my reflection in the dresser mirror, I stuck out my barely formed chest and scowled. “One day they’ll grow.”

Pulling my thick dark hair into a quick ponytail, I secured it with an elastic band. Then I grabbed a towel and sprinted downstairs.

My mother was still outside. “Be back by four,” she warned.

When I reached the bottom of the stairs, I heard her yell after me. “No farther than the raft!”

“Mothers,” I muttered beneath my breath.

I made a beeline for the beach across from the raft. Flinging my towel over a log, I quickly removed my sandals and stepped into the warm water. A few pieces of seaweed and something that looked like a bloated onion swirled around my legs. Other than that, the water was clear.

I laughed and plunged in, shocked by the salty taste in my mouth. Swimming toward the raft, I glanced at the forbidden island across the bay. It didn’t look so far.

With the cockiness of youth, I grinned. “I could make that.”

I floated on my back and stared at the clouds. After a few minutes, I decided to see if I could swim underwater, holding my breath all the way to the raft. I dove under.

When I reached the raft, I pulled myself up the metal stepladder and stretched out on my stomach, smiling. The raft sizzled under the summer sun and I lazily examined its surface. A few swear words had been scratched out with black marker, but I could still read them. I giggled.

As I shifted my gaze, my eyes were drawn to some initials that were carved into the weathered wood. I traced them with one finger. RD+MC FOREVER!

I glanced back at the shore, wondering about the owners of the initials. Who were they and where did they live? There were no houses visible, but the beach disappeared around a tree-lined corner.

Maybe there are houses around the bend.

I glanced at my watch. I had lots of time.

Propping my chin on my hands, I admired the view. It was so peaceful, so soothing that it lulled me. I yawned loudly. Cleaning, painting the studio and swimming had made me more tired than I realized. I rested my head on my arms and dozed under the warm rays of the sun. The water lapped against the raft, like a whisper.

“Amber-Lynn…I wish you were—”

Something splashed nearby.

I thought that maybe I was dreaming, until I heard it again and looked up.

I blinked.

Something was sticking out of the water. Seawater sprayed and foamed off a solid black mass as it rose from the depths. Then it sank under water, out of sight.

I was captivated by the strange spectacle and waited for it to reappear. But I didn’t see a thing.

I admit I was a bit nervous about going in the water.

What if it’s a shark?

I didn’t even know if there were any sharks in the bay. My father had never said anything. But I knew one thing. I couldn’t stay on the raft all day.

I pushed myself up on my elbows and strained my neck for a better view.

The bay seemed quiet and demure, until I sensed something moving in the water behind me.

“That was my brother,” a voice said.


©2007 Cheryl Kaye Tardif

Read Chapter 3 of Whale Song.

Get the whole story. Order Whale Song now.

Note from Cheryl: This month I am giving away free books at some of my virtual book tour stops, so be sure to check my schedule and drop by.

To order Whale Song, please
order from this month. If you order on my birthday, August 12th, you may qualify to win one of 44 prize packages. For more info on this special contest, please see 44 Prizes. Also, if you order Whale Song plus two other Kunati titles, you can qualify to enter Kunati’s Great Summer Reads Contest.

Thank you!

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

Friday, August 03, 2007

Excerpt from Whale Song, a novel that will change the way you view life...and death.

Day 4: Cheryl's 'Touring the World' virtual book tour - here's a special treat.

Whale Song

©2007 Cheryl Kaye Tardif



It is said that death begins with the absence of life. And life begins when death is no longer feared. I have stared death in the face and survived. A survivor who has learned about unfailing love and forgiveness. I realize now that I am but a tiny fragment in an endless ocean of life, just as a killer whale is a speck in her immense underwater domain.

It’s been years since I’ve experienced the freedom of the ocean. And years since that one horrifying tragedy took away everything and everyone that I loved. I have spent my life fighting my fragmented memories, imprisoned by guilt and betrayal. I had stopped hoping, dreaming or loving.

I was barely alive.

Locked away in darkness, I struggled until I learned the lessons from Seagull, Whale and Wolf.

Now I am free.

I finally remember my youth. I recall the happy times, the excursions in the schooner and the sunlight reflecting off deep blue water. I can still visualize the mist of water spouting from the surface and a ripple opening to release the dorsal fin of a killer whale.

But what I remember most is the eerie, plaintive song of the whale, caught on the electronic sound equipment of the research schooner. Her song still lingers in my mind.

A long-forgotten memory…

Part One: Village of the Whales


IN THE SUMMER of 1977, my parents and I moved from our rambling ranch home in Wyoming to Vancouver Island , Canada . My father had been offered a position with Sea Corp, a company devoted to studying marine life. He would no longer be a marine biology professor at the university. Instead, he’d be studying killer whales and recording their vocalization.

My mother was ecstatic about the move. She couldn’t wait to return to Canada where her parents were living. She chatted nonstop about all the new things we would see and do.

But I was miserable. I didn’t want to move.

“You’ll make new friends, Sarah,” my parents told me.

But I, like most eleven-year-old girls, hated them for making me leave the friends I already had.

Since our new home was fully furnished, we were leaving almost everything behind. A few personal belongings, my mother’s art supplies and some household items would follow in a small moving van.

My father told us he had rented out our ranch to a nice elderly couple. I was quite happy that no children were going to be living in my bedroom, but I was miserable about leaving behind my prized possessions. I reluctantly said goodbye to my little bed, my Bay City Rollers wall posters, my bookshelf of Nancy Drew mysteries, my mismatched dresser and my swimming trophies. Then I sulked on the edge of the bed and watched my mother sift through my things.

“I know it’s hard,” she said, catching my sullen mood. “Think of this as an adventure.”

I let out an angry huff and flopped onto my back.

“I don’t want an adventure.”

THE FOLLOWING MORNING, we left Wyoming with my three-speed bike strapped to the roof of the car and our suitcases and my mother’s easel piled in the trunk. That night, I watched TV in a motel room while my parents talked about our new home in Canada .

“Time for bed, Sarah,” my father said after a while. “We have a long day ahead of us tomorrow.”

Unable to sleep, I tossed restlessly in the bed and stared at the ceiling, wondering what life would be like stuck on a tiny island.

How boring it’s going to be.

I thought of Amber-Lynn MacDonald, my best friend back in Wyoming . She was probably crying her eyes out, missing me. Who was I going to tell all my secrets to now?

I swallowed hard, fighting back the tears.

Life is so unfair.

Little did I know just how unfair life could be.

IT FELT LIKE days later when we finally arrived in Vancouver . We drove to the ferry terminal and waited in a long lineup of vehicles. We boarded the ferry and I rushed to the upper deck where I stood against the rails and watched the mainland disappear. The water was choppy and the ferry swayed side to side. When we saw Vancouver Island approaching, dismal gray clouds greeted us and I instantly missed the scorching dry heat of Wyoming .

The drive from the ferry terminal to our new house took hours and seemed relentlessly slow. After a while, we veered off the highway and headed along the main road to Bamfield. The narrow unpaved road was bumpy and pitted. It was swallowed up by massive, intimidating logging trucks that blasted their horns at us.

I watched them roll precariously close while my father steered our car until it hugged the side of the road. I held my breath, waiting for the huge bands that secured the logs to snap and release the lumber onto our car. And I was sure that we’d topple over into the ditch or onto the rocks below.

I released a long impatient breath.

“Where’s the ocean?”

“You just saw it,” my father chuckled. “From the ferry.”

“No, I mean the ocean ocean,” I muttered. “That was just like a big lake. I want to see the real ocean, where it stretches out for miles and you can’t see the end of it.”

My mother turned and smiled. “You just wait. You’ll see it soon enough.”

I settled into the back seat with my latest Nancy Drew book and tried to read. But my eyes kept wandering to the window. When we hit a huge pothole, my book dropped to the car floor. It stayed there for the remainder of the trip.

I pushed my face against the window and watched the scenery streak past. The forest that surrounded us was enormous and forbidding. Moss hung eerily from damp branches and a fog danced around the tree trunks.

Then the sun broke out from behind a cloud, free at last from its dark imprisonment. It quickly heated up the interior of the car. Unfortunately, the gravel road kicked up so much dust that I wasn’t allowed to roll down the window. And since we didn’t have air conditioning, my hair—my Italian mane as my mother called it—hung limply to my waist and my bangs stuck to my forehead.

I scowled. We’d been driving for days and I was tired of being cooped up in the car.

“Close your eyes, Sarah,” my father said, interrupting my thoughts. “And don’t open them till I say.”

I obeyed and held my breath in anticipation.

I’m finally going to see the ocean.

Minutes ticked by and I grew restless. Being a typical eleven-year-old, I had to sneak a peek.

“Okay, now you can look,” my father said.

He chuckled when he caught me with my eyes already open.

Pushing my damp bangs aside, I scrunched my face up close to the window. The ocean was spread out before me, interrupted only by a tiny island here and there. The water’s surface was choppy with whitecaps and it looked dark and mysterious.

I smiled, satisfied.

Back in Wyoming , we saw endless stretches of green hills and grass with mountains rising in the distance. That was all I’d ever known. I could go horseback riding and never see water bigger than our duck pond. Now before me, the ocean seemed to go on endlessly.

I couldn’t resist rolling down the window. As soon as I did, I heard waves crashing along the shoreline.

“Well, what do you think?” my father asked. “This road winds all along the shore. Every now and then, you’ll be able to see the ocean. And once we reach Bamfield, our house is just east of town, right on the water.”

He reached over and tugged at a piece of my mother’s long auburn hair. I laughed when she swatted his hand.

“The house will be ours for the next three years,” my mother said over her shoulder. “It belongs to an older couple, so we’ll have to take very good care of it.”

Twenty minutes later, we passed a sign. Welcome to Bamfield.

I breathed a sigh of relief. We were almost there.

As we drove unnoticed through the modest town, I realized that it was much smaller than Buffalo , the town nearest our ranch in Wyoming . After stopping at Myrtle’s Restaurant & Grill for a delicious supper of deep-fried halibut and greasy home-style French fries, we clambered back into the car and headed for our new home.

“The house is just up ahead,” my father said. “I know you’re going to love it, Dani.”

He gave my mother a long, tender look.

MY MOTHER, Daniella Andria Rossetti, was born and raised in San Diego , California . Her parents were immigrants from Italy who had moved to the United States after World War II.

When she was eighteen, her parents moved again, this time to Vancouver , Canada . My mother took advantage of the move, left home and struck out for Hollywood with hopes of becoming a famous actress. After numerous rejections and insulting offers from sleazy directors, she gave up her stalled acting career and studied art and oil painting instead. Within a few months, her work was shown at Visions, a popular art gallery in San Francisco .

It was there that she met my father.

Jack Richardson was a Canadian marine biology student who had wandered in off the street after being caught in a tempestuous downpour of rain. Six months later, my mother moved in with him, much to her parents’ disapproval. Four months went by and they were married in a small church with a few friends and family present.

During the next three years, my parents tried to have a child. They had almost given up hope when they discovered that my mother was pregnant. Six months into a perfect pregnancy, she miscarried. My parents were devastated.

Eight months later, my father’s stepfather and mother were killed in a car accident. During the reading of the will, my father discovered that he had inherited the family ranch in Wyoming .

But my mother was upset. She didn’t want to leave the bustling city of San Francisco for the wide-open plains near Buffalo . When the curator of Visions, Simon McAllister, promised that she could courier her paintings to the gallery, my mother agreed to the move.

After a year on the ranch, she couldn’t imagine living anywhere else. Her work thrived, reflecting images of country living, meadows and mountains. Then she was rewarded with unbelievable news. She was pregnant again.

Nine months plus a week later, Sarah Maria Richardson weighed in at eight pounds, four ounces. At three months old, I had thick black hair and dark brown eyes. My parents doted on me.

When I was about six, my mother told me how handsome my father had looked the moment she first saw him in the art gallery. Even though he was shivering and drenched, he had stared at one of her paintings for the longest time.

My mother had fallen in love with him that instant.

It sounded like a fairytale to me, but I believed that my parents loved each other and that they would be together.


NOW, YEARS LATER, we were driving along the rustic coast of Vancouver Island , anticipating the first glimpse of our new home. I felt restless and uneasy. I somehow knew that my life would change the second we drove into those trees.

Destiny… or fate?

As the sun began to set overhead, we reached a small, barely legible sign that read 231 Bayview Lane . A gravel driveway curved and disappeared into the trees. When the car followed it, we were plunged into darkness. Branches reached out to the car roof, caressing it like a thousand hungry fingers.

The tall cedar trees that surrounded the car opened to reveal a lush lawn carefully landscaped with small shrubs. At the end of the gravel driveway, a two-story cedar house stood just beyond the lawn. The shingles of the roof gleamed in the reddening sunlight. The main door into the house was solid wood with no window. In fact, there were only three small windows on that entire side of the house.

Our new home seemed forlorn, empty.

“Well, not much to look at from here,” my mother mumbled. “But I’m sure it’s much nicer inside. We could always punch out a window or two.”

My father grinned. “Dani, my love, looks can be deceiving. Just wait until you see inside.”

When he pulled the car onto a cement pad, my mother smirked. “The garage?” she asked sarcastically.

“You’re so funny,” he said, unfolding himself from the driver’s seat.

I clambered out, impatient to get inside and explore. Reaching for his hand, I tugged on it and pulled him toward the house while my mother followed behind.

At the door, we turned back and caught sight of her pale face.

“Are you okay?” my father asked.

“I’m just a bit carsick,” she said with a wry smile. “You two go in first, let me get some fresh air. I’ll be in shortly.”

“If you’re—”

She laughed. “Go inside, Jack. I’m okay.”

With a shrug, my father unlocked the door and gave it a gentle nudge. Then he turned to me, his mouth widening into the biggest smile I had ever seen.

“Welcome to your new home, Sarah,” he said.

I let go of his hand and eagerly stepped inside, a thrill of excitement racing through me. “I want to see my roo—”

I froze, dead in my tracks.


©2007 Cheryl Kaye Tardif

Read Chapter 2

Get the whole story. Order Whale Song now.

Note from Cheryl: This month I am giving away free books at some of my virtual book tour stops, so be sure to check my schedule and drop by.

To order Whale Song, please
order from this month. If you order on my birthday, August 12th, you may qualify to win one of 44 prize packages. For more info on this special contest, please see 44 Prizes. Also, if you order Whale Song plus two other Kunati titles, you can qualify to enter Kunati’s Great Summer Reads Contest.

Thank you!

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

Thursday, August 02, 2007

Day 2: Cheryl's 'Touring the World' Virtual Book Tour

A minor glitch at has postponed this interview's appearance there, so it is being posted here temporarily.

Karina Fabian of Virtual Book Tour de'Net interviews Cheryl Kaye Tardif, author of Whale Song

1. What inspired you to write Whale Song?

Many years ago, while living on the Queen Charlotte Islands in BC, Canada, I heard a native legend that really appealed to me. The story goes that if you see a killer whale close to shore that it is really the reincarnated soul of a loved one who has passed on but is coming to say goodbye…or as some say, just coming to visit their human families. I thought the concept was beautiful and certainly a lovely way to look at death. That legend stayed with me all my life and I found myself drawn to the orca, to their majestic beauty and wild free spirit. I often dream of them.

A few years ago, I thought “what if it’s true?” That’s usually how my novels are birthed. What if this happened? What if that happened? As Whale Song evolved I realized that the characters had become almost lifelike to me. They were telling the story. I knew before typing the first word where the story would start and end. And I knew that the legend I had grown up with was a key element to the story.

2. What was the hardest part about writing it?

This will sound strange but writing the novel was easy for me. It flew from my head, onto the keyboard and into a file, mainly because the story had grown for 2 years before I even started writing it. But there was a moment that I found particularly difficult, and that was writing the last two chapters of Whale Song. I knew what would happen in the story and I knew it would be emotional from two perspectives: the story itself and the fact that once I’d written them it meant I was finished.

So I did something that has now become a trend for me. I wrote everything up to the last two chapters. Then I edited and re-edited I don’t know how many times. Once I felt it was extremely tight, I wrote the last 2 chapters…with a box of Kleenex nearby. And I’ll tell you, I used it. My husband came home and found me all teary-eyed and was quite concerned. I blubbered, “I’m finished Whale Song.” In some ways, I mourned. It was as if I had lost a friend. But that went away the second it was published. J

3. What was the easiest or most exciting part of writing it?

The most exciting part of writing Whale Song was in watching my characters grow. As an author you get to create them, manipulate them, give them happiness, cause them pain…and even kill them off. Characters are the soul of a story; the plot is just the action that takes them along their journey.

For me, watching Sarah’s growth as the main character was a bit like reliving my own childhood. There are many similarities. I’ve even had people ask if Whale Song is my life story. It isn’t; it’s Sarah’s. Molding a character does often mean using parts of yourself, so Sarah experienced some of the things I experienced—not all good things either. But in the end, it is her journey.

I also enjoyed creating Nana, the wise old native grandmother. Not only is she unusual in appearance, she is unusual in her perceptions and intuitiveness. She’s a likeable character who helps to guide Sarah on her journey of truth and forgiveness by telling her the most fascinating legends.

Sarah’s father, Jack, is another character that really interested me. Here is a father who knows the true meaning of sacrifice and love.

4. What’s next for you?

I have just finished a chilling new thriller called Children of the Fog, and my publisher is considering it now. I’ve already had many emails from my fans asking when it will be published and I’m hoping to be able to answer them soon.

I am also working on three other suspense thrillers, including book 2 in the Divine series. I have had to hold back on that series, which has been very difficult because I get daily emails from fans wanting to read it. I’m looking for another publisher to take book one first; it’s just something I feel compelled to do. The other titles I am working on are: Submerged and The 6th Plague. I am so excited about all of my future projects.

5. What one thing do you wish folks would ask you about your book and how would you answer?

I wish more people would ask: “How is Whale Song making a difference in the world?”

My answer: There are two main ways Whale Song is making a difference—it has changed the way people view life and death, and a portion of my royalties is going to three nonprofit organizations. I’ll elaborate.

Whale Song has a series of beautiful messages for anyone who ‘gets’ them. Not only does forgiveness set you free, life is something meant to be lived and enjoyed, and those who pass on live in each of us. I have had many emails from people who have lost family or friends and they have said my novel has helped them deal with their loss. I have also had amazing emails from mothers and daughters whose relationships have been healed after reading Whale Song. I never expected that—especially from a work of fiction—but I am truly grateful.

After the murder of my brother Jason in 2006, I not only dedicated Whale Song to him, but I wanted to do more. So I contacted the three organizations that tried their best to help my brother and I’ve made arrangements for 5% of my royalties to go to EACH of these: Hope Mission, the Mustard Seed Church and the Bissell Centre. They help combat social issues like poverty, homelessness and addictions, and I believe they are worth giving up 15% of my royalties.

You can read more about my brother and these organizations at:

Thank you so much for inviting me here, Karina. This month I am giving away free books at some of my virtual book tour stops, so be sure to check my schedule and drop by.

To order Whale Song, please order from this month. If you order on my birthday, August 12th, you may qualify to win one of 44 prize packages. For more info on this special contest, please see 44 Prizes. Also, if you order Whale Song plus two other Kunati titles, you can qualify to enter Kunati’s Great Summer Reads Contest.

Thank you! :)

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