Sunday, December 30, 2007

Sacrifice by Kelly Komm

5 Stars

ISBN-10: 0-7414-4254-X
Publish date: December 2007
Trade paperback; 194 pages; $13.95
Fiction, Fantasy, Adventure
Recommended for: YA/Teens and Adult

Mystical and rich with vivid description.

After her parents are slaughtered by the evil Garshu, young Nell is raised by Garick, a wise elf who shelters her and protects her from danger by passing her off as an elf child. Until the day Nell discovers the truth. She is Human, a race that is thought to be nearly extinct.

Accompanied by Garick and a band of fascinating characters, Nell sets off on a perilous journey to rid the world of the bloodthirsty Garshulan soldiers, to destroy once and for all the Garshula and their nests, and to find justice for her parents’ death.

Kelly Komm’s writing is lyrical, moving and engaging. Mystical and rich with vivid description, Sacrifice is a mix of fantasy and adventure that will keep you turning the pages until the very last one. It is one of those rare finds, and although it is marketed as young adult fiction, even adult readers will enjoy this entertaining novel. I certainly did.

You can order Sacrifice HERE.

~ Cheryl Kaye Tardif is a freelance journalist, book reviewer and editor. She is also the author of three bestselling novels set in Canada, including the “compelling “ and “beautiful” Whale Song, the high-octane thriller The River and the sizzling psychic suspense Divine Intervention.

Friday, December 28, 2007

When 'stuff' happens - write about it !

Holiday Family Memories can be made under the Strangest Circumstances

It was the night before – the night before – Christmas, and all of the mice in our family, old and young were out at a festive local inn for a traditional holiday feast.

The nearby inn was a place that we had taken our kids since they’d been old enough to sit in a chair and eat without spilling at least half of it on the floor.
It was a great old place – several hundred years old and very colonial. And we always made a point of going to the inn just before Christmas because it’s always all decked out in wreaths, ribbons and candle’s, like something straight out of Currier and Ives.

The night of our dinner was no exception. In fact all of New England had been blanked by several back to back snowstorms, giving us the feeling that we actually had stepped back into a Currier and Ives world. It was perfect.

As we all filed in, the image was only enhanced by the cheery ambience of the large main dinning room. Wood fires roaring in massive fireplaces and garlands of greens strung all around the room.
But best all was the atmosphere and the people.
The people all seemed to go so well with the place. Large tables filled with families – grandmas, grandpas, moms, dads, kids, nephews, cousins. All dressed for the season in bright holiday sweaters and corduroys or tweed skirts. Everyone eating, drinking, talking and laughing. All so happy to be together at this happy time of year – just having a good time and enjoying one another’s company.

Well almost.

As we were shown to our table I happened to notice that there was a table of several very elegant and sophisticated people who certainly didn’t seem to blend in with the merry throng. And the brief glance that I had of their demeanor as we were seated several table away, seemed to indicate that they had no intention of it either.

Oh well, none of my business. There was certainly more than enough holiday cheer radiating throughout the room to fill even the most jaded of hearts. So peace on earth and good will to all … Or so I thought.

The first order of business I decided as we sat down, was to order up a bottle of the bubbly to toast all of our children finally making it home for Christmas together for the first time in several years My wife was of course delighted, gathering her babies from the four corners of the world. Our oldest boy in from LA after a two day adventure in winter flying. Our daughter finally finished with her continent hopping and happily ensconced back in Boston and our youngest son just returned from Europe.
We had our toast and commenced to catching up. Our twenty-five-year-old daughter, a manager at a publishing company (sadly for her writer Pa, in the medical field, not fiction.) was right in the middle of a very funny story when from out of nowhere an elegantly clad arm fell across her shoulder and a clipped, brittle voice said. “You’re going to have to lower your voice, you’re disturbing us.”
I looked up. It was one of the sophisticated young women from two tables down. She was standing next to my daughter and scowling at her in a disdainful way that I hadn’t seen since Holly Golightly put on her “Dahhhling” act in Breakfast at Tiffany’s.

Wha-a-at ?

Then the Poppa Bear woke up. Who the “bleep” was this prissy young thing disdainfully sauntering up to my daughter and pretty much calling her a … loudmouth?
My talented, educated daughter sat there stunned. This is a girl that had studied in Europe, been a journalist in the Outback of Australia, and gone skydiving in Switzerland and bungee jumping in New Zealand. She is not easily intimidated. But now – she was speechless. The arrogant young woman had finished delivering her pronouncement and was sashaying back to her table. Mission accomplished. Another family of rubes put in their proper place. The back of my neck began to get warm. I got up.

My wife halfheartedly put her hand on my arm but she was too upset to stop me and I was building up too big a head of steam to care.

I followed the elegant young lady back to her table and, Um-m-m, lets just say proceeded gently but emphatically, to give them ‘a piece’ of a father’s mind.
By the time I got back to our table, the holiday mood had most definitely been punctured, though everyone tried to make the best of it. In fact for the rest of the evening there was a steady parade of fellow diners and even waitresses and busboys that had seen the incident and described the disdainful table as a … Well, I’ll paraphrase and just leave it at “a real bunch of jerks.”

For the next twenty-four hours, my wife continued to lament that the rude, supercilious sophisticates had ruined our first full family reunion in three years.
But by the second day, Christmas Day, the story had started to produce laughter and when I heard the kids teasing and laughing about the whole thing – especially about their hot-tempered old man, I realized that a dinner that might have become just another vaguely pleasant memory among many pleasant holiday dinners at the old inn, was on it’s way to becoming one of those classic family stories. Perhaps one that the kids will even recall and laugh about long after their old man is pushing up daisies.

So remember, the next time one of ‘those things’ happens to you and your family, look at it this way. Maybe it’s just another family memory in the making.

All the best!

Ric Wasley
• Shadow of Innocence – 2007
• Acid Test – 2004

And please check out my McCarthy Family Mysteries free sample chapters on Amazon and Google!

Baby Boomer article series:

Wednesday, December 26, 2007

Why I Love Revenue Canada

It was the eleventh hour. I'd written and rewritten my first novel, Taxed to Death, umpteen times over an eight-year period, and finally gave it to a professional editor prior to publishing. And then the question came - the one I hadn't anticipated as a neophyte - the one that ran my blood cold. "Have you run this by Revenue Canada? After all, you're using their name in your book and they might have issues with it." Indeed. My protagonist, Alex Bellamy, is a junior auditor with R.C., his colleague's been murdered, and Alex's investigation leads him to think that someone within R.C. might be involved.

Novel in hand, I sought the advice of an entertainment lawyer and asked him to read the book in search of possible libelous content. While he found none, he advised me to contact R.C., tell them what I was doing and ask permission to use their name in my story. Legally, he told me, R.C., or any real instituion I used, could say no. Having worked too hard and too long to abandon this book, I took his advice to heart.

Did you know there are friendly, helpful people at Revenue Canada, or Revenue Canada Agency as it's now called? After explaining my situation to a woman at the Vancouver Branch, she paused a moment, clearly taken aback by my request. "No one's asked to put us in a novel before," she said. Hmm. I couldn't imagine why. And then she told me that she'd have to speak to higher ups in Ottawa. The prospect of involving Ottawa put me in a cold sweat. If this went badly, I'd either have to scrap the book, risk a lawsuit or, worse, face audits every year for the rest of my life.

Within 48 hours, the woman phoned me back and reported that they'd need an outline of my book and the names of main R.C. characters to run through their database. R.C. wanted to ensure that no one past and present, anywhere in Canada, had those names. At this point, the sweat really began to pour. The names were Alex Bellamy, Andy Gowan, and Kelly Faust. What were the odds?

Astronomical as it turned out. No one had those names and furthermore, R.C. approved the project and wished me well. I have this in writing, in case you were wondering. I couldn't have been happier with their promptness, their courtesy, or more relieved at the outcome.

I'm sharing this to spare other writers the risk of legal problems in their novels. If you intend to use a real institution or corporation in your book, check with them before doing so. A couple of phone calls and an outline is a small price to pay for your peace of mind. Oh yes, and get it in writing.



I believe that it is any author’s dream to be represented by an agent who will elevate their writings to fame and wealth. It’s mine. But at what cost? That was the question that faced me recently.

I had an agent. I self-published a non-fiction book and was approached by a national publisher who wanted to purchase the rights. The publisher preferred to deal with an agent who knew all the pros and cons of the writing industry and suggested I find an agent. I approached an agency that was just starting and whose principal had a background that was impeccable. He agreed to represent me. He in turn, turned me over to a person who would represent the firm.

As it turned out that individual was a national disaster. I signed what I was to learn one of the worst contracts possible. I gave away everything. Three years passed and too many letters later trying to get the publisher to live up to their own contract, and the agent to do his job, I finally went to the Writers Union for help. After months of representing me, they threw in the towel and recommended I hire a lawyer.

I did. A big lawyer.

Two weeks after being contacted by my lawyer, the publisher offered to return my rights if I gave up any claims against the firm. I agreed. I earned $1,400 in three years in royalties and spent $1,500 in legal fees. If you do the math, I gave up three years of my life for minus $100. At the time I was 64 years old. Time is not a commodity that I can afford to squander. The agent received their full commission and shrugged their shoulders at my problem.

Flash forward to today. I have been approached by an agent interested in representing me. I have now written seven books – all self-published and grossed more than $150,000 of which I donated $20,000 to charity. Do I want an agent to disturb the status quo?


I turned this agent down. This is a business. I just didn’t like his contract. I felt I gave up too much. That could be my problem. I’m too much of a free-wheeler. Maybe the reality for me is that I should be satisfied with what I have accomplished. That, too, is difficult to accept. I’m only 71. My next novel will be released in a few months. I’m told I’m at an age when most are thinking of retirement. I tried that. It sucks!

The dream is still there. I have become a local phenomenon. I still dream the dream of any author. I know I can never attain the full extent of that dream alone. But I also can’t attain that goal with just any agent. It has to be someone who believes in my writing and not what they can gain out of me. That’s the harsh reality of what I see. I’m reminded by something my mother once said to me before I wrote my first book. “You are never too old to dream.” So I still dream.

Tuesday, December 18, 2007

When A Thought Becomes A Story

There's a great line in the movie Indecent Proposal where an architect holds up a single brick in front of his design class and proclaims, "Even this brick longs to be a building."

Here, the architect underscores a simple and profound fact - small things are the building blocks for larger things. Single ideas are the genesis of larger ideas. And, one thought can be the first brick to building a larger story.

Inspiring, isn't it?

Here's a picture of how one of my curious thoughts about geneaology so wanted to become a novel that it would not cease until it was done. Brick by brick. Word by word. Draft by draft. Rejection after rejection. Year by year for the last 60 plus months until it was realized.

Got a thought today? Don't give up. See it through.

It very well may be the difference between a single idea on piece of notebook paper and a bound book.

Sunday, December 16, 2007

A Time to Rejoice, a Time to Mourn

First, I'd like to thank Cheryl Kaye Tardif for her kind response to my previous post, "A Letter to My Son". I have one more thing to share about my son, by posting a short essay that appeared in the Vancouver Sun newspaper several years ago. My son's birthday was ten days ago, on the 6th, and perhaps I should have posted this piece at that time, but then I thought that perhaps we should take more than one day a year to remember a tragedy. Here's the essay as it appeared in the Sun with a slight modification to acknowledge the passage of time.

On December 6, 1989, I was holding my 15-month-old daughter in my arms while watching a TV reporter sombrely describe a tragedy. Fourteen women had been murdered at the Ecole Polytechnique in Montreal. Later reports revealed that these people died because a man they'd never met had decided female engineering students were feminists, and he hated feminists. The killer blamed this group of human beings for his own failures and problems, and shot as many women as he could before turning the weapon on himself.

On the following anniversaries of that day, I tried to imagine the terror those young women must have felt during their last seconds of life. Even a brief moment was painful and terrifying. Instead, I concentrated on TV images of mourners across Canada holding flickering white candles on snowy nights. Their songs and prayers were moving, yet I wondered if holding candles in a freezing Vancouver rainfull would make much difference to the victims, or many other Canadians.

In more optimistic moments, I believed these tributes would raise awareness of the enormous amount of violence that still permeates "civilized" societies. But as the years rolled by, I heard and read the names of more women killed by domestic violence or sexual assault. I began to doubt things would improve.

History books are filled with horrific accounts of the violence people commit against one another. The reality filled me with anger and, worse, a sense of inadequacy to help make the world less hate-ridden. What would it take to stop the countless forms of violence committed not only by men, but by women and growing numbers of children? What could I possibly do to make a difference?

In the spring of 1994, violence was the last thing on my mind when my doctor confirmed I was pregnant with our long-awaited second child. After two miscarriages and with a biological clock that was quickly winding down, this was as close to a miracle as I'd experienced. Our baby was due December 7th. I had hoped this child wouldn't arrive December 6th. I should have known better.

My son was born on a grey Tuesday afternoon, in the aftermath of a brief snowfall that had sent snowplows rumbling through the streets during my first stage of labour. Later that evening, when all was quiet, I remembered the massacre in Montreal. Earlier in the week, the media had mentioned upcoming memorial ceremonies, and thoughts of previous gatherings had been lingering in the back of my mind. I pictured the flickering candles that would be held, once again, in many parts of Canada. I then looked at my tiny sleeping son.

Perhaps giving birth to a male child on such a day was God's way of saying there's more than one way to look at things. Over time, December 6th has come to epitomize all that's wonderful and loving about this world, as well as all that is hateful and ignorant. For me, this day represents life's cycles: endings and beginnings that continue in so many different ways, on so many different levels. Through all of this, I've finally understood that I can help stop the violence. I can raise my children to accept all human beings regardless of gender, race, religion or sexual preference. I can teach them not to blame others for their misfortunes, but to accept full responsibility for their choices, to become adults in the fullest sense of the word.

When my children are old enough to understand, I'll tell them what happened at Ecole Polytechnique on December 6, 1989. If I raise them correctly, they'll do what they can to make sure violence isn't part of their lives, or the lives they touch. This is one way to pay respect to those fourteen young women, and to all victims of violence.

This December 6th, while people across the country held flickering candles in the winter night, I lit thirteen candles on a birthday cake. The way I see it, we all honoured life: past, present, and future.

Wednesday, December 12, 2007

Darwin and the evoltion of psuedocide

Psuedocide, that’s the buzz word ripping up the press at the moment (certainly in the UK anyway). It’s back in vogue following the disappearance and reappearance of that canoeist chap. The things people will do to get their hands on a pot full of cash. Hold on a minute though. If Darwin had simply taken a job at Burger King for the last five years instead of hiding in a wardrobe, couldn’t he have saved more than he got paid for dying? Getting back to psuedocide for a moment, this article makes a lot of sense about the reasons why, in future years (in a society that tracks individuals ever closer through financial, employment and even recreational records) we can reasonably expect to hear about more and more disappearances supported by false suicides. I wonder what actions insurance companies are considering in order to future proof their interests in this respect. I’d like to think that they’re going to be a bit more imaginative than simply increasing life insurance premiums for the rest of us. Maybe they should start insisting that any claim resulting from suicide should be supported by a body. In the absence of an actual body, how about accepting a short video clip of the event? Now that would be something wouldn’t it; a whole cottage industry built up around filming suicides? It appears that Jimmy’s idea may not be such a stretch of the imagination after all. Funny how reality often mimics fiction some years later isn’t it?

Tuesday, December 11, 2007

Cookin' with Cheryl on "Celebrity Chefs"

"Edmonton's own best selling author shares a Christmas story that mixes with her Strawberry Dumplings."

For the recipe, please go HERE!

*Please note: No fire extinguishers were harmed in the making of this film.

Monday, December 10, 2007

A Letter to My Son

Yesterday evening, I wrote a letter to my son. Not so unusual except that he turned 13 (Grade 7) last week and lives with us. But as part of his language arts/personal planning curriculum, his teacher has the class keep a "letter log". Once a month, students write a letter to their parents about whatever's on their mind -- school, goals, hopes, etc. The teacher reads each letter, not to judge or comment, but to ensure the assignment's being completed. So, after my son's letter-of-the-month is finished, he gives me his duotang and I write (or in my case print because my handwriting's lousy) a response on the following page. The only guideline the teacher has is that we not be critical of whatever our children write. The idea is to support and encourage an exchange of ideas and thoughts.

The experience has been a real eye-opener because, although my son and I talk everyday, we don't necessarily talk about the things that come up in the letters. Like personal goals, for instance. At first, a small part of me resented being given homework from a teacher significantly younger than me, but I've come to appreciate and enjoy the experience. Often, I wind up sharing an incident about my school life in the "old" days. Through it, my son receives a bit of a history lesson about how things were for me when I was his age. Meanwhile, I gather interesting insights as to how things are with him.

As I wrote last night's letter, it dawned on me how important writing is, regardless of the form it takes. Committing ideas, hopes, dreams, fears, and memories to paper keeps us connected as family, friends, human beings.

Thirty years ago, I spent a year travelling alone in Europe for a year. I wrote in journals, I wrote letters home, and I began writing my first short stories. Family members gave me those letters as keepsakes. I still have the journals, the stories, and I'll always have my son's letter logs. When I grow old and I'm sitting in my rocking chair, unable to do much else, I'll read them all, and I'll stay connected to my loved ones, and cherished memories, and the power of the written word.

Gift Certificates...not as thoughtless as they seem.

I came across an article today that made an interesting point about how people are dealing with ticking off endless lists of ‘Xmas presents to buy’. A lot of us it seems are using gift certificates.

However, Judith Martin (known to millions as Miss Manners…apparently) dismisses gift certificates (and, by extension, gift cards) as "a pathetic compromise convenient to people who do not trust their judgment about selecting the right present for those whose tastes they ought to know."

Well bully for you Miss Manners, but I think that labelling people who send gift cards as dithering fools who can’t be bothered to empathise with their loved one’s is a bit harsh. What you seem to be forgetting is that a good percentage of the people who are tasked with buying gifts happen to be men.

What happened to that old axiom that ‘it’s the thought that counts’? We blokes have relied on that for years! For men, gift tokens are a welcome addition to a growing list of presents that we don’t have to think about too hard and yet still get heaps of appreciatiation for from girlfriends and family. Take flowers as an example. We go to the shop, grab a bunch of something bright and smelly and hey presto, we’re transformed into romantic heroes. You’d think that we’d scoured the Amazon, wrestled snakes and been chased by little men in skirts before picking the last orchid in the canopy. Chocolates for Grandma, another no brainer. Any Play Station game for the kids, although this is effectively a gift certificate anyway because you can guarantee that it’ll be exchanged within days for something rated 18. All these gifts have one thing in common; they have been developed by men over generations as the ideal, thoughtless gesture most likely to be received with kisses and hugs.

But it didn’t come easy this knowledge. Men through the decades have suffered slapped faces and endured cold lonely nights in the spare room as they searched for the ultimate in repeatable gestures. Just be thankful that ‘clothes iron’ and ‘washing up gloves’ did get struck from the list sometime in the early 1940’s. As for gift certificates Miss Manners, please leave my generation’s contribution in tact.

There again, if you really are against them and you’re looking for something hip and heartfelt, why not a copy of Recycling Jimmy or any of the other utterly brilliant Kunati titles………

Sunday, December 09, 2007

Writers Beware

Absolutely true comments made to me at a recent party after the host introduced me as a writer.

Guest: Oh, what's your book about?
Me: A family tragedy. A husband is shocked to learn his gentle wife has committed murder and begins looking for clues about impulsive violence in her family tree.
Guest: Ooooooh. Maybe the next one will be more hopeful.
[Goes in search of dip.]

Guest: Where do you get your inspiration?
Me: I like exploring the perspective of being the fly on the wall when something happens.
Guest: My ex-husband is a psychopath. Now there's a story.

Guest: Really? You wrote a book? I have a great story. Let me tell you about it...
[Ten minutes tick by]
Me: Really? You should write that. You have a lot of passion for it.
Guest: No, this needs to be told. These people ripped people off. They were bad people.
Me: So you quit?
Guest: No way. It's a good company to work for.

Guest: Your book is about generations? Let me tell you about mine. I know I just met you but. . .
Me: [accepts grateful drink from passing waiter]
Guest: Okay, so I wasn't my father's favorite child.

Guest: A book? A big person book?
Me: Uh, yes.

Posted by Karen Harrington, author, JANEOLOGY, Spring 2008

Saturday, December 08, 2007

New Holiday Contest where Everyone Wins!

Holiday Book Contest

In the spirit of the upcoming holiday season and Christmas, I’d like to give some of my reader friends the gift of The McCarthy Family Mystery series.
I know that during this hectic season, it’s always a challenge to get everything done that’s on your list, so I thought I could perhaps help you out with at least one of them. In particular, what to get that reader on your list. And/or – what to read in that long line at the post office while you wait to dump your packages into Santa’s sleigh via the USPS.
The contest rules are simplicity itself. And best of all… everyone wins!
Just read all, some or even a review of; the latest McCarthy Mystery, Shadow of Innocence, then write a short review (between 1 sentence and 1 paragraph) and e mail it to;, and the best entry, will win a complete set of the first two books in the McCarthy mystery series; Acid Test and Shadow of Innocence! Plus the winner will also receive an ARC (advance review copy) of the next exciting book in the McCarthy series; The Scrimshaw - due for release next fall and have the review reprinted on our website and other review pages.
But… unlike most other contests, in this one – everyone wins!
Everyone who submits a review, will receive a signed and personally dedicated, book plate. And the bookplate can be inscribed to anyone you wish. You, a friend, relative, dog, cat, gerbil … anyone!
So start reading and writing and… good luck !
All the best,

Ric Wasley – Author/Musician
 Shadow of Innocence - Kunati - April 2007
 Acid Test - 2004

And please check out my McCarthy Family Mysteries free sample chapters on Amazon and Google!
Baby Boomer article series:
Photo Sharing and Video Hosting at Photobucket

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

Thursday, December 06, 2007

My New Favorite Lawyer

Hostile Witness is my second William Lashner novel and now I am truly hooked. What got me is the marvelous complexity of Victor Carl, the lawyer-protagonist-everyman. He is, contrary to the grishamlike model, a man who has been dealt a hand that is not quite up to his ambitions. He is the prototypical American hero with a dose of realistic ambivalence thrown in.
Hostile Witness also gives Carl a sex life and it's a life that's more realistic than rosy. Lashner doesn't exactly write sex scenes, what he does is give us the protag's view of what's happening and what it means to him. The effect is-sadly-not terribly erotic but wonderfully personal and the hero emerges even more fully human in the reader's eyes.
Lashner's plotting always seems to involve two cases. One is the major theme of the book and is strictly the work of the devil. The other is a minor theme and has a tendency to warm the heart. His plot construction, with its long set-ups and violently surprising twists is masterful.
Hostile witness is also a dark portrait of Philadelphia. Most people who know the city think of it as a fairly voluptuous place known for its pleasures: restaurants, theatres, foodmarkets, music and restaurants. (Did I mention restaurants?). But while the pleasures make for good living, they don't always make for good reading and Lashner accurately depicts the grime behind the crime.
This is lawyer-fiction on a whole new level.

Lynn Hoffman author of bang BANG

Wednesday, December 05, 2007

Alois Kracher Dead at 48

Austria's Wine Community Mourns Alois Kracher
The sweet wine pioneer has died at the age of 48, following a brief,
heavy illness

The Austrian wine community is mourning one of its greatest pioneers.
Alois Kracher died early in the morning of December 5th from
complications due to cancer. His death came unexpectedly to many in the
wine community. With Alois Kracher's passing, Austria has lost an
irreplaceable visionary, not only because his wines achieved so much
international success, but also because of his dedication and service to
Austrian wines around the world.

In 1986, "Luis" Kracher, who was educated as a chemical engineer, went
to work at the winery of his father, already known as a sweet wine
specialist. The young Kracher's reputation soared very quickly due to
his new style of sweet wine making, and within only a few years, he had
become an outstanding ambassador of the new Austrian quality wine
philosophy. Alois Kracher went on to garner innumerable awards and
accolades, including being named - a total of six times - "Winemaker of
the Year" by the internationally renowned Wine Magazine in London. In
addition to the national and international awards, his wines received
the highest scores by some of the world's most influential wine critics.
All of this success and appreciation had turned Alois Kracher into
Austrian wine's most globally-renowned luxury brand name.

Alois Kracher had worked tirelessly, not only for his own winery, but
for the reputation of Austrian wine overall. He opened the door to the
international markets for many of his fellow wine colleagues. His son,
Gerhard, with the support of the Kracher family, will carry on the work
of the great wine pioneer from Illmitz.

--Lynn Hoffman, author of THE NEW SHORT COURSE IN WINE and
the novel bang BANG. ISBN 9781601640005

Sexual Equality for Paedophiles

Recently my publisher was asking for discussion topics that could be linked to the subject matter of Recycling Jimmy. I was racking my brain, considering a possible tie in to one of its subplots, specifically the UK’s sexual offenders list (huge debate here from time to time) when who should pop on the MSN home page but Ms Debra Lafave. Does anyone remember her? Must admit, I don’t recall there being much reported (back in 2004 when she was first arrested) but she was nicked again this morning, this time for violating her probation. The reason? Apparently Ms Lafave bust her parole by talking to a co-worker who also happens to be a 17 year old girl and therefore a minor. Bit harsh that some would argue but what’s really wrong with this headline? Any suggestions? Well I’ll tell you what’s wrong; the fact that Lafave even has a bloody co-worker. What the hell is the woman doing at work? Why isn’t she in prison? Back in November 2004, when she was a teacher, Debra Lafave seduced and had sex with a 14 year old boy. Her punishment then? 3 years house arrest. What! Okay, I can understand that a 14 year old should maybe be grounded for being very very naughty but an adult who has sex with a child? Imagine if it had been a male teacher who had groomed and eventually raped a student in his classroom. Would justice be served then if the judge sent Mr Walker to his bedroom to think about what he’d done? If ever there was a cast iron case for sexual equality, then this is it.

Monday, December 03, 2007

Update #3 on ACE and Cheryl Kaye Tardif in the Times-Herald

First, I have to share the lovely poem, written by Jan Taylor at ACE. She actually sold it to Hallmark years ago and it was on a greeting card. This is reprinted with permission.

Life's Perfect Balance

If all the days were sunny,
and the skies were always blue
except for maybe now and then
a rainbow's tinted hue.
Then life would be quite boring,
not too interesting at all.
Because for every Spring that comes,
there has to be a fall.
For each success...
a failure,
for every day...
a night,
for every moment of sadness,
there's another of pure delight.
And if we're able to accept
whatever comes our way,
we'll find a perfect balance
in our lives from day to day.

What great sentiments!

It was my publisher at Kunati Books who first pointed out to me that there was another article about me, Whale Song, Jan Taylor and the Alliance for Children's Enrichment in the Times-Herald, a Georgia newspaper. Reporter W. Winston Skinner follows this amazing story in his December 2, 2007, article titled 'Canadian author responds to wish on ACE Christmas list'.

I am so glad to know that my small efforts are actually helping. It was time worth spending. :)

Go to and type TARDIF into the top search (Search the News). You'll see both articles that mention this story.

Also, please consider sponsoring a child this Christmas. It is immensely rewarding and truly puts the meaning of Christmas into the holidays. To sponsor a child through ACE, contact Jan Taylor at or call her at 770-254-3339.

Happy holidays!
Cheryl Kaye Tardif

Passive exercise is killing us all

Me and my mate Malcolm spend quite a bit of time stood outside the office these days. The reason for this is that we’re both smokers. Now before you run off and tell the police, perhaps I should just clear up a few popular misconceptions about people who smoke. Firstly, we do not all carry a small puppy around in our pocket to stub cigarettes out on. Neither do we purposefully flick lit matches through the open windows of old people’s homes (that was an accident and no charges were brought). Never the less, we remain social pariahs; stared at like carnival freaks outside restaurants, chased from public parks by angry mobs. This is our life now, thanks to the over hyped phenomena that is passive smoking. Anyway, that said, we do abide by the rules and we try not to moan and, getting back to the shelter outside the office, we kind of enjoy the regular opportunity to grab a chat. This morning’s conversation (we have to have equal amounts of topics and cigarettes so here’s a tip girls: if you’re serious about finding Mr Personality, go get yourself a twenty a day man) was about global warming, specifically that frequently misunderstood and much maligned gas, carbon dioxide. During the course of the discussion we roughly calculated the contribution of CO2 in the atmosphere from you’re average set of lungs, and this totalled up globally to about 30% of the annual USA CO2 emissions. Big number that, but what struck me was that this is the figure calculated at rest. Imagine how much this increases during exercise when your lungs are pumping hard to drag 200lbs of flab round Central Park. My point is this. If we, the smokers, are to feel the full brunt of the law because of a possible link between poor health and passive smoking, shouldn’t those same agencies who persecute us be banning sweat suits too? The people who jog, sweat and grunt their way through life are in reality breathing too much and hurtling our world ever quicker towards its ultimate demise. Just a thought.

Sunday, December 02, 2007

When You Don't Like a Book

About fifteen months ago, two colleagues asked if I would write reviews for their books. I'd never written one before, which is kind of odd since I'd been jotting notes about mysteries I'd read for over a dozen years. After writing those reviews (luckily, I really liked both books) and posting them on, I realized I enjoyed the process a lot, especially when makes posting easy. Since then, I've written over 20 reviews and, of course, some books were better than others.

I've heard many authors understandably bemoan a poor review. I mean, who wants that? But lately, I'm starting to appreciate the reviewers' side of things. I've run across books I didn't enjoy because of poor character development, plotting problems, or simply bad writing. I'm not a vindictive, nasty slammer by nature, but when I don't like a book I feel I have to tell the reader what I didn't like and why. The hard part is choosing the right words to say what needs to be said.

Honesty is crucial. If I write that I like everything, who will believe me in the long run? Constructive criticism's important too, even though some may interpret the critique as blatant slamming. So far, I haven't read a book where there wasn't something positive to say, and I'm a big fan of stating both the negative and the positive. Not everyone will like my approach, and certainly not everyone will agree with my opinions about a book, but this is partly what makes mysteries and the mystery reading community so interesting.

I expect that one dreaded day, a friend will ask me to review his or her book, and it'll be a total stinker. Will I say so? Not with those words, but I will find a way to say what I think. Maybe I'll lose friends and the respect of others, but that's the risk of reviewing.

In the end, what matters most is that I give a book the attention it deserves and that I use my integrity in writing a review. I love promoting writers and sharing opinions about new books. It's something I hope to do for a long time.

If you're interested in reading any of my reviews, visit My latest review is of Copper River by William Kent Krueger, a terrific read. The review I'll be posting this week is for Last Rituals by Yrsa Sigurdardottir, a book I had problems with. Which is what got me to thinking about reviewing and choosing the right words and writing this blog. If anyone wants to discuss a book I've reviewed, or thinks I should review, feel free to drop me a line.

Free autographed bookplates and bookmarks!

Order any of my novels between now and December 10th, and I'll send you an autographed bookplate plus a bookmark.

Email me with the following information:

1. Your Amazon order number (found in the Order Summary section of your confirmation email from Amazon).
2. The number of books and titles you ordered.
3. Recipient's names (are they for you or are you buying gifts?)
4. Your complete mailing address.

This offer expires December 10th, 2007, so order now! All requests MUST supply me with steps 1-4 above. Order from Amazon now.


Christmas miracles DO happen!

There are times in my life when I have to stop and take a moment to just listen to that "still, small voice". Some of you may know what I'm talking about. That voice that says, "Hey! Listen up! You're meant to do something here. But you won't know what unless you stop and...breathe."

There are times when I am so glad I stopped. This is one of those times.

I've told you about the girl in Newnan, Georgia, who asked for a few things on the Alliance for Children's Enrichment Christmas wish list that was posted in the Times-Herald. I've told you how inspired and touched I was to see that she asked for "Cheryl Tardif books", in particular, Whale Song. I've told you that I decided to sponsor this teen and send her a Christmas I hope she'll always remember. And I believe I've told you that I contacted some other authors on the teen wish list, plus some author friends who aren't.

What I haven't told you is...

Read the entire story HERE!