Monday, March 31, 2008

Lists, Lists, and More Lists, and an Invitation

Okay, so the book is finished and the first shipment is about to arrive. It's very exciting, but also daunting because now the hard work, part II, is underway. Promotion and marketing requires almost as much thought and organization as writing a book does. Mainly, it requires a plan, and with a plan comes list making.

I've been a list-maker from way back. Grocery lists, Christmas gift lists, packing-for-vacation lists, attending bookfair or conference lists, daily planner lists, and so on. Over the years, they've spared me a lot of wasted time and money. They're also fun to toss out when I'm done. When I'm shopping by myself, I stick to the list and pretty well come in on budget. Not so if I bring my family along.

Book promotion has taken list making to a whole new level. So far, I have a full, typewritten page of promotional things to do, and now I'm started to add more ideas. I'm not sure how long it'll take me to check off everything on that list. Some things will only take a few minutes, others a couple of days, and still others will be ongoing.

As writers tend to do, I'm preparing for my book launch (on the promo to-do list), but now my list is growing lists. There's a list for food to bring to the launch, and other things, like plates, drinks, camera, etc. I figure that, sooner or later, I'll reach a point where I'll be just as excited to put the lists away as I am to receive that first shipment, but until then,

If anyone out there lives in Vancouver's lower mainland, you are cordially invited to my book launch on Thursday, April 17th in The Lounge at the Kyle Rec Centre, 125 Kyle Street, Port Moody, from 7 to 9 p.m. There'll be some fun, some food, some reading.

And now that all of the invitations are out, I can check one more thing off the to-do list. On the other hand, there's still the press releases . . .

To read excerpts of Fatal Encryption, visit

Good & Bad Girls of Fiction

Karen Harrington: author of Janeology, and Linda Merlino: author of Belly of the Whale, recently put their keyboards together to talk character development. Specifically: the good girl and the bad girl. Their debut novels, released this month, have a splash of each.


Belly of the Whale: Meet Hudson Catalina, age thirty-eight, a wife and mother who has lost both breasts to cancer. This is twenty-four hours in her life, the morning she awakes devoid of hope, certain that she will die of the same cancer that took her mother, and the night she is taken hostage in a market by a killer more deadly than her disease.


Janeology: Meet Jane Nelson, age thirty-eight, with soft eyes, south Texas natural highlights and a penchant for paperback romances. A former ER nurse, Jane is smart, sexy and confident. Only she hasn’t felt that way about herself since she had her twins a couple years ago while at the same time, her husband begins spending more time at work. In an attempt to soothe herself, she develops an odd compulsion to garage sale, filling up her empty hours, and filling up her garage with needless stuff.

What makes your female lead so good or bad?

KH: Like the Chris Isaak song says, “Baby did a bad, bad thing.” Jane did a bad thing by committing murder. In a moment of psychosis, she drowns her toddler son, and nearly kills her toddler daughter. Her mind dissolved into a twisted mess as a result of her depression and isolation. The result: Indefinite confinement to a state mental hospital while her husband, Tom, tries to care for their surviving daughter and shed the guilt that he should have seen Jane’s approaching mental snap.

LM: Strong women, those are the one’s that are cut from the cloth of good women; determined, do-it-myself kind of females that act assertively when the situation gets grim. Hudson Catalina is just this sort of woman. We are our history; even fictitious people have a background, that seed from which he or she grew. The molding of a person, their experiences and their choices generally determine the good or bad theory. That is not to say that, real or imaginary, a seemingly good girl can’t go bad. But, again, something in her past, some quirk or turn-of-the-screw is the trigger. And the mental illness factor is huge. History, for sure, determines the genetics for Jekyll and Hyde personalities; the good girl mask on a bad girl. In Belly of the Whale, Hudson has given in to cancer, the flaw in her otherwise seamless character; she’s hit a wall of hopelessness. This glitch turns her inward, makes her self absorbed. Life shuffles the cards, and on the day she thinks she knows “what will happen”…she is taken hostage in an all-night market by a killer more deadly than her disease. It is in the market, Whales Market, that the good versus bad portion of the novel takes place.

Characters are multi-dimensional. What qualities defy this characteristic in your female lead?

KH: There was a part of her, once, that was good. In fact, her entire motivation for wanting to be a nurse was to save people. When she was nine, her mother died and she always thought this was a mistake. And in the novel, when readers meet her as a nine-year-old girl, all of her vulnerable side is on display. She wanted to be pretty. She wanted to fit in. I think she struggled against this side of her, which was perceived as weak by her mother, for a long time. That is actually my favorite chapter in the whole book because you witness the slate of a child’s life being written on with things that strip away her innocence.

LM: Hudson Catalina has a boulder-size chip on her shoulder. Despite her seemingly good life, good family, great husband, beautiful children, she is still bitter about the loss of her mother when Hudson was fourteen. She has spent two decades plus running away from her fear of having breast cancer like her mother. This is her history, this is what shaped her, and this is how the Good Girl loses hope and succumbs to her own fears.

How did your character come into existence? What was your motivation?

KH: Stephen King is responsible. A few years ago, Stephen King issued a short story writing challenge to take a common situation and turn it on its head, possibly reversing the sexes. I thought about the fear a woman has of being stalked by a deranged boyfriend, and I thought, “What if a man was afraid of woman he still loved? What would make him afraid of her and desire her at the same time?” So those were the seeds for drawing Jane as a bad girl, as someone a strong man could fear.

LM: The seed of this story, Belly of the Whale, came from thinking about heroes. What does it take to be a hero, who is capable of being a hero and could someone who defies the acknowledged criteria for heroism, be a hero? The character Willy Wu in Whales Market is this person. The book’s title was originally, Willy Wu. I wanted to depict this young man as a hero. In order to do that, I built a story around him and it became, not just his story, but Hudson Catalina’s story.

Find out more about Linda's novel and view the Belly of the Whale trailer at:
Find out more about Karen's novel, view the JANEOLOGY trailer, or read an excerpt at:

Come back on Wednesday, April 2 for Part 2 of our Good Girl/Bad Girl discussion.

Sunday, March 30, 2008

Magic in Blog

There are days when I wish I had a wand, a magic wand. The very idea of being able to wave a stick and poof the uglies into oblivion appeals to me. If I owned that wand I could blog about magic. My status could be: expert in abracadabra. People would come from the four corners of cyberspace to read my blog.

Where would I begin the magic? Would I remove all disease? Replace sorrow with happiness or death with life? How would I discriminate between those who would get a wave and those I would pass over? Would I be playing God with my magic? Selfishness might overtake me and suddenly all the magic would be sullied by opportunists banging on my door making offers to exploit my powers.

The truth is there is no magic, no incantation that will allow anyone of us to escape the bumpy roads of life. There is a beginning and there is an end. There are no potions or elixirs to instill passion or power to those unworthy or incapable of securing the same on their own.

There are few, if any, short cuts, such as magic for averting the inevitable, or for redirecting fate or destiny. The magic is carried not in a wand, but inside each one of us. A fairy godmother with the power to turn pumpkins into coaches and frogs into princes is not the magic we need to seek.

Faith in the unknown brings with it surprises, if we stay open to the possibilities of tomorrow, then having faith allows magic to happen over and over. The best I could do with a magic wand would be to play it forward.

Stay true to your bliss, to yourself and to the magician within.

Blog what you hear, think and feel.

Linda Merlino, author, Belly of the Whale

Friday, March 28, 2008

"I'm Sorry."

WARNING: The following post may reduce you to jello. This is a 2 tissue post.

Coming up on the 1 year anniversary of Whale Song's release, I find I'm feeling retrospective. Sometimes it's good to look back over the year, analyze what went well...what didn't. We all have regrets and sometimes they hang over us, a dark cloud in an otherwise endlessly blue sky. I have a few. But for the most part, everything I've experienced--even the traumatic events in my life like the death of my son and the murder of my brother--has made me who I am as a person...and as a writer.

They say: write what you know. I've always agreed, to some extent, and I've done exactly that. There are also times to write what you don't know, in which case, having good research instincts comes in handy. In Whale Song, I wrote about broken relationships and death--two things I know maybe far too much about.

Although I am writing mainly fiction now, I wrote a lot of poetry and song lyrics as a teen. Last year, while getting ready for the release of Whale Song, I was so inspired by the story that I wrote a song. My daughter Jessica also plays guitar and sings and she performed the following song at the book launch for Whale Song last April.

Sarah Richardson, the main character, has always been a reflection of me--the bullied child I once was, the awkward teen I grew into, and the once bitter adult who harbored resentment towards her father. But Sarah's journey and experiences are her own, and in her darkest moment, when she realizes a truth that changes her life forever, she is devastated. This is Sarah's song to her father--her words, her thoughts...her regrets.

I'm Sorry

I can't believe so much time has passed,

That you'll be with me once again, at last,

Through all the pain my life has been,

I'm sorry for not trusting you,

For pushing you so far away,

For all you did,

I hated you.

I didn’t understand what you were doing,

I thought your actions selfish and confusing,

If only I had really known,

The truth of all that happened,

I’d realize far sooner

That you loved me,

Really loved me.

I’m sorry,

So very sorry,

If I could take those hurtful words away, I would,

If I only knew,

What you'd put me through,

That it was for my own good.

I’m sorry,

So very sorry,

If I could turn back the hands of time, I would,

If you only knew,

I’d make the suffering mine,

But nothing can change time.

I realize you loved me more than ever,

A father’s love could never be more pure,

But, Daddy, I wish you’d stayed,

And never have gone away,

I needed my father,

I missed you,

I love you.

I’m sorry,

So very sorry,

If I could take those hurtful words away, I would,

If I only knew,

What you'd put me through,

That it was for my own good.

I’m sorry,

So very sorry,

If I could turn back the hands of time, I would,

If you only knew,

What I’d do for you,

I’d tell you this,


©2007 Cheryl Kaye Tardif

Read an excerpt from Whale Song.

Pick up a copy of Whale Song from Amazon or your favorite bookstore or library.

I hope you enjoyed this post. And thank you all for making Whale Song the success that it is.

~Cheryl Kaye Tardif

Thursday, March 27, 2008

Fathers and daughters

Relationships need special, ongoing care, and often a bit of mending. The bonds between fathers and daughters are so important and often very shaky. I see this in my own life and I can see how not having a good relationship early on with my own father has affected my choices, thoughts and my life. But as with every relationship, there is always a chance of healing, and sometimes this comes many years down the road.

Before I wrote Whale Song, my relationship with my father had changed--evolved into something relaxing, accepting and loving. He had changed. And so had I. I watched him interact with my daughter Jessica from the time she was a baby and realized that he was making it up to me--through Jessica.

Later, when my parents divorced after 36 years of marriage, I was devastated. I blamed my father and returned to my old feelings for him. Divorce is never easy on children--even adult ones. It felt as though my life had almost been a lie, that everything I had known had changed into something unrecognizable. It affected my own marriage.

Ironically, it was at this time that I wrote Whale Song. As the story progressed, it became apparent that my character Sarah was going to have to deal with a tragic event in her life and that her father, who had always been her hero, would make some life-altering decisions.

Writing the last few chapters, I also realized that Sarah was finally ready to accept her father's decisions and forgive him. "Forgiveness sets you free." This strong message weighed heavily on my mind, and I decided that I had some forgiving to do of my own.

To date, I have received dozens of emails from readers who have shared how Whale Song has affected them. It has brought fathers and daughters closer together. It has mended broken spirits and relationships. It has brought mothers and daughters closer together as well. I had no idea that my novel--Sarah's story--would have the power to do such things.

I invite you to pick up a copy of Whale Song from your favorite bookstore or online retailer. If you know someone with a broken relationship, Whale Song makes a wonderful healing gift.

If my novel impacts your life and you'd like to share this with me, I would be honored. I won't reveal your story or information unless you give me permission to, but hearing how my book--any book--changed your thoughts or life keeps me focused on always delivering a story with emotion, depth and value.

In the end, writing Whale Song changed my life and my own relationship with my father. I may not always agree with his choices, but I love my father. And that's all that is really important.

Whale Song set me free.

~Cheryl Kaye Tardif, bestselling author

Wednesday, March 26, 2008

Clinton may be related to Angelina, but YOU might be too.

By now the news has spread. The New England Historic Genealogical Society announced some interesting findings this week.

Hillary Clinton and Angelina Jolie have something in common: they are ninth cousins. Author Jack Kerouac and Camilla Parker-Bowles, wife of England’s Prince Charles are also among her gene pool.

An auspicious family tree, nay, orchard, if you ask me. Lots of interesting branches.

But I am not shocked. In fact, I’d wager that at least one of the readers of this blog is my distant relative. (Hey, you want an author to write about our big, dysfunctional family, right?) This is all part of a concept known as pedigree collapse. Here’s how it works:

We all have two parents, four grandparents, and eight great grandparents. Let’s assume for the sake of math that the average generation is twenty-five years long. If we go back in time 1200 years (800 AD) each person would have 281.5 trillion grandparents. This calculation is done by reasoning the number of grandparents doubles every 25 years – and in 48 generations (or 1200 years) 281.5 trillion names would be on a person’s pedigree.

But in 800 AD, there weren’t even that many people in the world. How could any of us have that many grandparents? The answer: they are not all different people. Some names on your family tree would appear twice, or ten times, or even one hundred times over the years. Ancestors married their relatives throughout the years, knowingly or unknowingly. This was particularly common among royal families who were encouraged to marry other kinsman of royal blood.

This is pedigree collapse. So if you trace your family roots backward, you will find that it spreads out for several generations – and ultimately “collapses” back on itself, corresponding with the original size of the world’s population.

There are even some geneticists who believe that everyone on earth is at least a 50th cousin to everyone else. It’s no wonder we don’t always get along. Most families do not.

But, this is what makes the study of genetic inheritance so fascinating. The knowledge that gifts, talents – even dark traits like mental illness or disease – can be passed down from one generation to the next. This linking of one ancestor to another is the integral theme to my novel Janeology – where you will meet eight of Jane’s ancestors as her husband searches her family tree for answers to her nature and nurture.

In the beginning of the story, you will meet with Jane, age nine, as she was abandoned by her own mother. (This is my personal favorite chapter of the book.) And you meet her mother, Victoria, who left New England as soon as she was of age, forever cutting off ties with her father -- Jane’s grandfather, Horace, who is filled with regret as he comes to terms with the focus of Victoria’s contempt. And then, Jane’s great-grandfather, Charles, a distant scientist, who looked the other way when his wife once tried to sell Horace’s twin sister to a carnival manager. For his part, Charles has been plagued by uneasiness all of his life, because his mother, Jane’s great, great grandmother, Eliza Anne, woke in a London hospital with no knowledge of who or where she was. And these are merely the relatives on Jane’s maternal side of the family. Many more are found on her paternal side.

All the secrets and misdeeds occurring within the family have a domino effect on Jane Nelson – daughter, wife, mother and ultimately, murderess. Visit my website to see Jane's pedigree chart.

So next time you research your family tree, expect to find the unexpected. And for all you cousins out there I have yet to meet, Howdy!

Who ordered 27 dresses?

So, yet another romcom hits the big screen. Something about 27 dresses this time but I guarantee you it will be the same old rubbish with too many flaws to mention…but I’ll have a go. There’ll be the lonely, vulnerable girl; beautiful, intelligent, fully cashed up with daddy’s fortune. In other words, a bloke’s dream catch. So why hasn’t she got a boyfriend already? It’s not as if she’s chosen to be single or is particularly career driven. She’ll work in a cafe or a video store and spend all day moaning about how ‘there’ll never be anyone for me’. The whole thing would be so much more believable (dare I say romantic?) if the lead lady was ugly, genuinely stupid and had actually tried to get a boyfriend before. Enter the bloke. He’s easy to spot. Good looking (but not dashing) innocently na├»ve, skint and on a run of bad luck that would make the bloke carrying the Olympic torch through Tibet feel wanted. He’ll cry a lot too (not the torch carrier…although we’ll see about that), usually about something she reminds him of. It’s a complete mismatch! And the story will never gain credibility because the plot will be transparent, the dialogue mush and the humor infantile. When are film makers going to realise that we can only watch what we’re given? Forcing us out on first dates to watch sloppy, ill thought out tripe just isn’t fair. Give us a choice once in a while. You could do a lot worse than to develop screenplays from edgy, original stuff like Recycling Jimmy, The Game or Truth or Bare. There is no excuse; the materials all out there.

Recycling Jimmy

Tuesday, March 25, 2008

Blog Me a Metaphor

Blog me a metaphor, turn a phrase and replace its true meaning with another. Would if I could blog you a metaphor, but I can’t, because tonight my brain is a sieve. Not one thing that goes in stays long enough to make a difference. All I can say about metaphors is that my whole life is one, a series of ongoing metaphors.

It started off way back, when one day a long-long time ago I realized that I must be living someone else’s life, that my life was not the one I signed up for. My life was a metaphor, not of blue skies and sunshine, but more like a twister over Kansas. The life I knew and had grown to love had the rug pulled out from under, and all that was left was me holding on to the metaphorical “edge” by my fingernails.

Having arrived at life on the edge, I had to learn to navigate the planet with a different perspective. First the rules had all changed, and most days there were no rules. I had to learn to think by the seat of my pants. Improvise on the spot. Lie through my teeth and smile through adversity.

If mamma is good, the kids will be too. This metaphor for optimism is more difficult to execute than almost any task before or after. Sifting or wading through emotions, the ones that you wear on your sleeve and the ones you seek comfort for, disallow feeling good.

Mamma often felt like she’d taken a trip through hell and back, mamma sometimes did not feel good, no matter how hard she tried to fake it. What’s the metaphor for that?

Blog a metaphor, here’s one: life is a circle. The wheel goes round and round taking you into and out of the light, either you face the sun or the darkness.

Once upon a time I learned about metaphors. The ones that shape beliefs and daily do’s. I learned about give and take. I learned about living behind a mask of pretend, I learned about life lessons and what matters in the Big Picture.

I learned to be grateful for each new day. I learned not to take myself too serious, and how to laugh even when I wanted to cry. I raised the bar on my own goals and dreams. I learned to shoot for the moon.

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

Linda Merlino, author, Belly of the Whale, release April 1, 2008

Blast From My Past: Scissors & Stories

It's been a while since I wrote a Blast From My Past. So here's one that takes me back to the early '80's. Seems like centuries ago...

Something that most of my readers don't know is that I was once a hair stylist with my own salon. After high school, I moved to Vancouver, BC, and took a cosmetology course at Moler's School of Hairdressing. I'm not sure, but I don't think it is there any more. Back then, "cosmetology" consisted of mainly hair and some general aesthetics. My big dream was to become a stylist and makeup artist for the stars. Although I still dreamt of becoming a published author, I knew that I could actually make a living as a cosmetologist.

The course was about a year long, and then we were required to apprentice for one year before we could get our licence. And that's where I hit a brick wall. Back in the '80's, salons weren't looking for apprentices. They wanted fully qualified stylists WITH clientele.

So I moved around a bit, trying to complete my year. I went to Terrace, BC, then moved back home to the Queen Charlotte Islands. In Masset, the town my parents lived in, there were 2 salons at the time and one was on the military base. I was very fortunate to continue my apprenticeship with Linda, the owner of the salon.

I had about 2 months to go when I got some bad news. Linda and her husband were moving. The shop had to be sold and the chances of me continuing my apprenticeship with a new owner were slim. I had hit another brick wall.

But then Linda had an idea. I had completed my cosmetology course with flying colors and although I hadn't completed my 1 year apprenticeship, I had been working from my home for over 2 years. Hair styling is artistic and creative and right up my alley, and I was very good at it. Linda thought so too.

Because the salon was on military property, all potential owners had to go through a "competition". Licensed stylists were allowed to apply for the shop and had to prove they were the best person. Linda backed me 150%, but there was still something standing in my way. The apprenticeship.

Linda contacted the apprenticeship board and explained the situation, plus gave me a glowing recommendation. A few days later, a fellow from the board flew to the island to watch me work. I was a bit nervous at first, but then forgot he was there. I was in my element--creating. My apprenticeship term was written off as completed, and I received my license shortly afterward.

With Linda and my father (who was in the military) batting for me, I was in my glory when it was announced that I had 'won' the competition for the salon. I bought the equipment, supplies, said goodbye to Linda and embarked on my exciting journey. At about 21, I was the youngest salon owner in BC.

I renamed the salon Cheryl's Scissor Trix. The 'x' was a pair of scissors. :)

I have always said that I have written something at every job I have ever had. During my time as a salon owner, I told stories to the kids that came to get their hair cut. Even the most difficult ones would sit quiet as a mouse as I told them about Ty-Lor, the Knot Elfling, and how he was so tiny and would climb up their sheets at night and tie knots in their hair so that they'd learn to brush their hair each morning. I had created this fantasy world of Elflings--fairylike creatures with colorful glowing skin and hair. The girls had glowing wings.

Years later, I painted a series of illustrations and wrote the text for my first Elfling Kingdom book--The Elfling Princess. It remains unpublished at this time, but I did get some prototypes made (completely bound hardcover picture books) and took them to schools, libraries and daycares and read my story to the children. I even fashioned a Barbie doll after one of the characters. Shortly afterward, I wrote and illustrated a children's book called My Imaginary Friend. One day, I'll get these books published.

For now, I am very happy to be Cheryl Kaye Tardif, bestselling Canadian suspense author. ;-)

Monday, March 24, 2008

I Liked It a Lot, But It Still Bugged Me

In my work as a reviewer and perhaps because of all the editing I've done on my own books lately, I find myself reading novels and watching movies or TV shows from a more critical viewpoint than I used to. This doesn't lessen or enhance my enjoyment of something, but it does mean that inconsistences, or logic glitches jump out and stay with me.

The other day, I read an entertaining, well-written book, yet I had to stop and think about two events in the story that didn't make sense. Even after I thought about them, I still couldn't figure out a good reason for events unfolding the way they did. Maybe there was one, but I somehow missed it.

And then, three nights ago, my husband and I rented "I Am Legend" starring Will Smith. The story's a remake of a Charleton Heston movie, which I think was called "The Omega Man". The story's about a man's desperate quest to find a vaccine to cure a man-made virus that has turned people into monsters. The monster part was a bit over the top, but the point of the story was timely and scary. Smith's character is immune to the virus, so he lives alone in New York city with his dog. Every day, he works on finding a cure and sends out a radio message inviting anyone who's alive to meet him at a specific place.

If anyone hasn't seen the movie and wants to, don't read on because I'll probably spoil it for you, but if you have . . .

then please tell me why Smith's character, who can broadcast on so many frequencies, wasn't heard by the human colony surviving in Vermont, which we learn about at the end? And if he was heard, why wouldn't they have come to get him? Vermont's not that far away from New York, right? And here's another thing. The virus infects dogs, turning them into rabid, super-aggressive killers, and yet the monsters seem to have the infected dogs on leashes and well-trained enough not to attack them. How do you even get a leash on a rabid dog, even if you are stronger than your average healthy human? Hmm.

I was also disappointed that Smith's character dies at the end when he didn't really have to. After all, couldn't he have just thrown the grenade on the monsters and escaped into the chute with the woman and boy? I mean, the guy worked so hard to stay alive. On the other hand, given that he discovered the serum and his mission was over, and that everyone he loved was gone, this wasn't a logic glitch, so much as a creative choice.

Having said all that, I really liked this movie, but here I am still thinking about it 3 days later and, as a writer, wishing I could have changed a couple of things, so these points wouldn't quite bug me so much.

Tonight we're taking our son to see College Road Trip. With some movies you don't bother looking for glitches and major plot holes. You just sit back, let the brain relax, and have some fun watching.

excerpts for Fatal Encryption
now available at

Full Circle Moments in the Life of a Writer

I don't know about you, but when you experience a full-circle moment, it's a moment that stops you in time.

I sent my favorite writing mentor, Professor Robert Nelsen, at the University of Texas at Dallas, a note telling him about the publication of my book Janeology and that I would soon be sending him a copy. I don’t know why taking this step was a little bit scary. Perhaps my reverence for this teacher, who everyone always wanted to please and feared just a little bit, played into it. His courses produce an astonishing number of writers who go on to be published. While I attended UTD, 25 percent of the students who attended his program went on to be published. Yeah, he’s that good. But he’s that tough, too. And he’d do the "Look to your right. Look to your left. Those people will not survive the semester because they don’t have the stamina to write every day," speech each semester. (I took five of his classes over the years.)

I remember the day all of us in the novel class got our first three chapters back from him – graded and marked-up. At least three red pens must have given their lives in this effort. Like most new writers, we were all too consumed by the remarks and comments throughout our masterpieces to concentrate on anything else in the class. (Like correcting a classmate’s use of the word hopefully - writing in the margins "Hopefully, you will learn how to write one day.")

He picked up a few of our papers and read aloud some of our work. Of course, this was meant to be instructive, but it was also intimidating. As he walked through the rows of small desks, was he going to pluck your story as an example? Yup, he chose mine. Fortunately, one of the three comments he made about the chapters were positive. Still. So I walked out of the class with the rest of my battered classmates. Professor Nelsen called out my name in the hallway. He told me something pivotal in my education, something that I probably already knew deep down, but needed to hear. "Don’t interpret all those comments as if I’m telling you to stop writing. I’m not. I’m telling you to keep writing. And I don’t tell everyone that."

So you can understand why, after all these years, when I go back to his office in a couple of weeks, hardback novel in hand, it will be a weighty, full-circle moment. I kept writing. And I’ll keep writing. Because I’ll tell you another Nelsen-ism that is 100 percent true: If you wrote today, you are a writer.

Friday, March 21, 2008

Cooking up another false writing scandal

Just on the heels of the false-memoirist Margaret B. Jones scandal, yet another example of the written word has been found false. But hold onto your blog commenting keyboards, friends, this false copy isn’t a from a memoir. It’s from a recipe.

What’s the world coming to that you can’t even trust a recipe?

The culprit: a recipe falsely attributed to a celebrity. That’s right. GoodHousekeeping Magazine had to do a mea culpa after posting a recipe in its mag, proclaiming it to be Conan O’Brien’s Irish Stew. The talk show host said he’s never made a stew, doesn’t cook, and was never contacted by the magazine to lend his name to the St. Patrick’s Day recipe.

For the record, O’Brien said he wasn’t mad at the magazine, and even demonstrated on his March 20 TV show how he could "Irish up" the stew recipe by adding booze, Lucky Charms cereal and a nice garnish of grated Irish Spring soap.

Dear reader, I give you my promise that every recipe in Janeology was actually cooked by a celebrity, eaten by a celebrity or eaten while I watched a celebrity on TV.


Karen Harrington is the author of Janeology, a mystery with a unique emphasis on genetic inheritance that Booklist calls " much a character study as a legal thriller."

Hope in Blog

This is a blog about hope; a four letter word that we can’t live without.

We throw this word around without thought: “I hope you can make it….”
“You are our last hope…” “Don’t give up hope…” “All we can do is hope…”

On and on it goes, these four letters strung together, our glue, our reason to go forward, our response to life gone sour, to life turning the corner, and to life in general. Blogging about hope, raises the question of what do we do without it. What happens when we hit-the-wall and abandon hope? Is it true that hope is the last thing to die?

When a person is given a life sentence, the final diagnosis that sets the stage for a permanent exit, and the exit doesn’t have to be loss of life, it can be the death of a relationship, a marriage or an idea. What role does hope play?

One would hope that loved ones rally around and give encouraging messages. Fight-the-fight, they will say, this is a battle you can win, they chorus, and don’t listen to negative thinkers, that’s what close friends and family say. Yet, reality is all around and hope must somehow stay afloat on its own.

Hope in blog asks us to give more than we get. Maintaining the spirit of hope is not always accomplished. When hope wanes, we must look inside our self. Hope denies imposters and self-service. Hope is pure and spiritual.

If someone you know needs encouragement, needs the thread of hope sewn into their fading tapestry, then step up and take a position of the bearer of hope for others. Perhaps in doing this we will be fortunate to have the same in return.

Belly of the Whale carries the message of hope. It does not take advantage of breast cancer or the roller coaster surrounding the highs and lows associated with dealing with it in our life or that of a loved one. Belly of the Whale offers insight into the regaining of strength sometimes lost during cataclysmic events.

In the spirit of the symbolism of the Resurrection, may we all retain the ability to rise above the darkness in our lives.

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

“To give up hope is to give up life”. Quoted from Belly of the Whale, available for pre-order at: and in stores, April 1, 2008.

Linda Merlino, author, Belly of the Whale:

Monday, March 17, 2008

Writing the marrow of a character

Could you tell something about me from this picture of my aunt and mother (right) taken in 1959? You might make a couple accurate guesses for sure. Because we all know there are some traits that run in the family - and the Irish have a great saying about this:

What's in the marrow is hard to take out of the bone.

This sentiment really speaks to me. Its simple truth – that what’s deep inside us cannot be easily removed – is moving on so many levels. The essence of who we are is imprinted upon us early on. Life has the ability to bring out or beat down our own marrow – often to the detriment of ourselves and others.

When I charted the course of Janeology, I really wanted to understand a character from her marrow. And what better way to understand someone than from her family? (I mean, if I learned your mother liked to sew and her mother responded to EVERY piece of mail she received – junk or not – that might explain why you give me presents I adore that you’ve made yourself.)

So before outlining my story, I went first to my pedigree chart software. I wanted to understand the time this woman Jane was born and also, the era in which her mother was born. Turns out the way her mother was raised had a huge and tragic impact on young Jane and what she subsequently thought about men.

I have to tell you, this is a very satisfying way to begin a story. For me, it became the whole story, the centerpiece of the story, making Janeology something of a novel-in-stories, showing eight of Jane’s ancestors from present-day to the 1800s. Some writing tomes advise that you must know the brand of laundry detergent your character would choose. Or the brand of cigarettes she smoked in her youth. But just knowing these facts isn’t as important as knowing why she chose them. Because a lot of these small choices were probably influenced by her mother. (I know I use Tide to this day for no other reason than it was present my whole life.)

Women Won't Win.

Thought I’d let you know about a new blog just started up. It’s kind of a battle of the sexes thing; an exchange of ideas over a week or two centred around a specific topic that men and women don’t traditionally see eye to eye on. It was my girlfriend’s idea (a result of her growing fascination with blogging I guess) and it should be fun. Hopefully people will get involved because of they don’t, it’ll just end up being me and her trading blows in public! Have a look anyway, read the ‘rules’ and let me know what you think. I’m up first with my attempt to expose romance for what it really is……….or should I stop now and run for the hills?

Sunday, March 16, 2008

A Pleasant Surprise

Driving home from one of my library talks last week it occurred to me
that it was almost one year ago that I started doing signings and
events. So by now I should have a pretty good idea of what to
expect, right? Nope.

I've probably done at least 20 of these library talks and they
usually run around 8-10 people and last between an hour and an hour
and a half, consisting of a talk and then Q & A.
The usual 'remuneration' comes in the form of being able to sell
books at the end of the talk. Sometimes the library orders them from
the local bookstore and other times I'll sell them from my own
stock. So basically you get to move a few books, get some very nice
publicity and have a lot of fun. So like I said, I thought I knew
exactly what to expect.
But I was wrong.

I first suspected that something was different when I walked into
the room. Every seat was filled. I was expecting a dozen people at
the most and there were at least 3 times that number. And these were
not just bored, warm bodies who wandered in looking for a soft chair
and some free brownies - they were engaged and interested, with lots
of really good questions. And instead of lasting an hour or so, it
went on over two, until closing time.
Oh, and I forgot to mention that when I came in there was big table
at the back of the room with a large display of my books manned by
someone who I expected was one of the library staff.
Once again I was wrong. Turns out she was from Barnes & Noble. So at
the end, the library director thanked me, everyone applauded (also a
first!) and the nice lady from B&N sold my books. Then people came
up to ask me questions and get their books signed and I got what
turned out to be my biggest surprise of all.

Often when I book these gigs, the head of the library will ask me
what my `fee' is. Since I'm basically doing it for the exposure, I
always answer whatever their standard `honorarium' is or whatever
they want – which usually varies from $25 - $50 to nothing. And
given library budgets today, it more often than not, winds up being
closer to the `nothing' side. And that's OK because much like music,
you do this because you love it.
So you can imagine my surprise when I got home and looked at the
check that the library director had handed me at the end of my talk
and found that it was not only more that the standard
token `honorarium`, it was a lot more! So much more, that for a few
fleeting moments I had an actual `delusions of grandeur' spasm where
I thought, "Wow! This must be what it feels like to be James
Patterson or John Grisham!"
Fortunately it quickly passed when my wife told me to stop drooling
on the check and go take out the garbage (do you suppose that James
Patterson has to take out his own garbage?)

At any rate I guess that it proves that whenever you think you've
got it all figured out, often this business can really turn around
and surprise you … and sometimes very pleasantly!

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:

Photo Sharing and Video Hosting at Photobucket

Sample Chapters Are Up and Let the Selling Begin

Well, Fatal Encryption is at the printer and, to a large extent, the creative process is over. Or is it? Now my main focus is selling this puppy, and let me tell you, when it comes to selling, creativity takes on a whole new meaning. Because I'm still pretty much a rookie at this, I'm in learning and exploring mode.

There's the standard must-do stuff, like posting sample chapters on my website, which is now done, by the way. If you're interested in reading the first four chapters, (the first three are short) then simply go to and click on Fatal Encryption excerpts.

And then there's the not-so-common things like, posting a "What I've Been Doing" article to my old high school. This isn't something I would have thought of, normally, but I needed to look up the full and correct name of the school for my bio (it's been a long time since I went there) and, as it turns out, they're having a big reunion this May to celebrate the school's fiftieth year. So, they've invited class graduates to post an update of what they've been doing. It's on my to-do list.

Today, I experimented with something new, at my kids' suggestion. I've offered autographed, new, first edition copies of my first Alex Bellamy novel, Taxed to Death, on Ebay. The selling period is one week, and it was fairly simple to navigate my way through the instructions. So, we'll see what happens. It's another great way to reach the whole world, but whether the whole world will be interested is another matter.

Meanwhile, I have to sign up with all the online bookstores, also on this week's to-do list. Did I mention that I have a really long promotion to-do list? I guess most writers do. Let's see how far I can plough through it in a week.

Friday, March 14, 2008

Having a bad day? Here's something to cheer you up!

To a writer, a bad day might mean stumbling over a story plot, or backing your characters into a proverbial corner, or God forbid that dreaded 'writer's block'. Or a bad day could be getting a computer virus and having to reformat C drive, then remembering you forgot to save your manuscript on D drive where it would have been safe.

A bad day for an author might mean getting no reviews from industry standards like Foreword Magazine or Publishers Weekly, or getting a bad book review. It could mean getting a rejection from hundreds of literary agents or publishers on that great new novel you've just completed. A bad day could also be having no Amazon ranks to compare because TitleZ is down.

For those of you who aren't writers, there are many things that could comprise a bad day--or night. Take my husband, for instance. Last night, I was having a really bad dream (probably about rejection letters) and I took an angry swipe at someone in my dream. I woke up 2 seconds later, thinking, "I didn't just clobber my husband, did I?" I learned this morning that I DID deck him. Oops...sorry, Marc. Luv ya. :)

I invite you to watch the following video and share in other people's bad days, then come back here and leave a comment. When you get to the part with the guy in the office working on his computer, keep in mind--that could be me!

What's your definition of having a bad day?
~Cheryl Kaye Tardif

Thursday, March 13, 2008

Can't sing? Blame your parents!

Listen up American Idol wannabes: It’s not Simon Cowell’s fault. It’s in your genes.

Genetic researchers in the U.S. recently suggested that one gene may hold the key to one’s ability to have perfect pitch – a trait found in only 1 in 10,000 people.

A study including 2,200 participants done at the University of California, San Francisco, found that people with perfect pitch can instantly pick out the pure tones with ease.(Nature) And those with the ability most often had musical training before the age of 7. (Nurture)

These factors lead them to the conclusion that there is a perfect pitch gene, which they plan to identify through gene mapping.

Doesn’t this make you in awe of how we are all largely gifted in different ways before we’re even born?


Karen Harrington is the author of JANEOLOGY, the story of one man's struggle to understand his wife and the genetic inheritance that contributed to her sudden violence.

Wednesday, March 12, 2008

Hand Blogging

Helping hands, they can blog too. These are hands you can not see, invisible hands if you want to call them that. Hands that pat us on the head when we are good; push us when we think we can’t go any further, and move things around, so what is lost can be found. Helping hands; what would we do without them?

This blog is to say thank you to my invisible hands and yours too. Many nights, with no hand to hold, I reached up and out and in my heart I held on tight to a guiding hand, my endless resource of support. People, who believe in angels, know all about helping hands, even when I was little we were taught to believe in guardian angels. We all had one, we were told, hand-picked for each one of us. The concept of that got skewed over the years, believing in the unknown was considered weird. Like dreams that flood our nights, helping hands follow us during the day.

Think about it.

I am a writer, not a very organized on the surface kind of writer. In my brain I have it all mapped out, but if you look at my desk you’d shake your head. I write stuff down on post-it-notes and lay them out in a sort-of-rainbow. Every once in awhile I add some of my collected information to my work book; a bit more linear than my stickies. Since there is no real file, no A to Z, I sometimes have to sit back and say…”Where is that phone number?” The helping hands are there, what I asked for will show itself, like my invisible secretary a phone number will be in an email, a name on someone’s lips, an address inside a book jacket, and those are just the little things. It astounds me.

I can’t change how I navigate the planet. I can try, but this old dog is short on new tricks. Blogging is my latest “go fetch”. Obedient to the wise publisher that has made my book dreams come true, I tap on my computer keys and blog to you about dreams, soul, sacred space and more. These are observations of the heart, of the eyes, of the ears. To blog about the invisible hand that blows a kiss, the one that brings us love, and the one we have known in the flesh that is now gone, is a way of bringing all of this together; a way of saying thank you to our angels, everyday.

Blog what you hear, think and see.

Linda Merlino, author, Belly of the Whale
Preorder on

Writing In Your Country

My friendly neighborhood Girl Scout just came by with my cookie order. That's a good thing because the weather is beautiful in Dallas today, but the news sucks.

The morning started with a friend calling to alert me about a 28-year-old woman who threw her two children, then herself, over a bridge not twenty minutes from my home. Incredibly, all three survived and were not hit by on-coming traffic on the highway below. What did I think, asked my well-meaning friend?

Well, friends, this kind of story is on my radar for obvious reasons. And this isn’t the first Texas mother in recent weeks, months, years to make headlines that get shuffled into my email box or on my voice mail with the accompanying, "Did you hear about this?" So, yeah, people are going to ask me about it because, in the words of my writing professor, "Parental relationships, especially mothers, are your territory, Karen. That’s your country. So don’t stop writing about it."


But this querying of my opinion, as if I am an quasi-expert or collector of mom tragedy, is an unexpected part of this writer’s education. Fair enough. All writers have their country. And when we buy a house in our country, I suppose it’s assumed we speak the language.

So, I wonder what writer whose work is a pot-boiler of politics and prostitution is being asked her thoughts on Eliot Spitzer today? You know you’re out there. Please step forward an answer the question: Why is Mrs. Spitzer looking at her husband with such restraint?

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

Inspiration the Hemmingway

I’ve got a couple of projects on the go at the minute (both at various stages of frustration) so it was cool to have an excuse to close the lap top for a while. That excuse was a short trip to Italy, skiing mainly but with a couple of days travelling tacked on the end. After the snow, we decided that Venice could be nice at this time of year and we were right, a cool breeze having emptied the city of the smells and tourists that can make a summer visit here feel like a crappy fair ground ride. It was on the water taxi on the way to the hotel that I happened across a short article in the guide book inviting me to spend some time at Harry’s Bar.
‘Apparently Hemmingway used to drink at this bar, love.’
‘Oooh, Gucci!’
So it’s obvious from the start that my girlfriend and me have got different things to see and do but as we’re unpacking in the room I manage to convince her that we should find the bar and chill out for a bit before trying to empty the shops. The concierge explains where Harry’s is. Not far actually, just a quick stroll through San Marc’s insatiable pigeons, a right turn at the water front and a 100 yard stroll to the corner where the gondoliers meet. Italian men are worse than the pigeons when you’re with a beautiful woman and my plummeting confidence isn’t helped much by their laughter as I stop to ask where Harry’s is only for one of them to reach across with his oar and tap on the brown door behind me.
‘Grazie. Now come on love, leave the nice men alone.’
Inside the bar is small with not so much a sense of 1920’s chic, more a station waiting room some way down the track. The semi fine furniture is cluttered with jackets, umbrellas and confused, flushed faces. No sign of Hemmingway either and I’m beginning to wonder where I’m going to get my inspiration from. There are waiters though, more pigeons dressed this time in white jackets and I order a couple of Bellini’s from them. While I’m waiting I get a clue from the table next to us as to what Harry’s bar means today.
‘Er, excuse me waiter, but Martini is usually served in a cocktail glass isn’t it?’
The waiter smiles at the American gent with ridiculous contempt. He looks down at the short, stubby glass of gin and then back at the customer.
‘That is how Mr Hemmingway liked them sir’
Our drinks arrive as we’re laughing about this and finally I get the inspiration I came for, and not only to write but to market and sell as hard as I can too.
‘Forty five euros for two bloody drinks!’
The American gives me a knowing nod and together we finish our drinks and hum the theme tune to The Italian Job.

Recycling Jimmy

Tuesday, March 11, 2008

At last, the Push is Over

My, oh my, I started the final edit for Fatal Encryption on January 7th. I worked on it every day and finished it on March 10th. What had been a 388 page book is now 370 pages, and on that score alone I'd say it was worth the effort.

You know, I thought I had a pretty polished manuscript when I gave it to my editor (and this was her second go with it), but she came up with 5 pages of comments on everything from commas and dialogue tags to awhile vs. a while. And she pointed out that I had a particular fondness for the word "plunk". God knows why I used it so often because I never use this word in everyday language. But she also thought I'd written a clever, funny, entertaining book, so the 5 pages didn't seem so bad.

After I finished the rewrite I gave the book to my husband for proofreading because he does a fair amount of this in his work, and he does it well. He's a meticulous, detail-oriented man...okay, some might call him anal, but that's perfectly okay when it comes to book production. Sure enough, he found a half-dozen pages with a double period at the end of a sentence, or a quotation mark missing, and there was even one word missing from a sentence.

I've learned two things about this process, beyond the grammar and punctuation stuff. One is that the best feature in Word is the "Find" key, because it'll find all those "plunks" and double periods in a split-second. The other is that I could change and tweak and ponder over words here and there for years and still wouldn't be satisfied that I'd created the perfect book. But for the time and skill I have at this point in my life, it's as close as I can get.

I'll let you know when the sample chapters are up on my website.

Debra Purdy Kong

Friday, March 07, 2008

The Canadian Book Challenge

I came across a blog today that invites readers to read Canadian books and participate in a challenge of reading 13 book before Canada Day--July 1st, 2008.

The Book Mine Set blog, operated by John Mutford from Iqaluit, Nunavut, Canada, which for those who don't know if far north, is where you can find information on this contest. There are even prizes. Very interesting ones, I can assure you.

So check out The Canadian Book Challenge, post a comment to let John know you're participating, and start reading!

Also, I found the above site and event by accident when I discovered that someone was writing about me here:

~Cheryl Kaye Tardif,
bestselling Canadian suspense author

Thursday, March 06, 2008

A Hero in Blog

I want to blog about being a hero but how do you define a hero? Can a hero be the subject of a blog?

The seed for my book came not from the idea of breast cancer but rather from the premise of what is a person really made of? Not skin and bones, but that something which makes him or her different from another person. Specifically I wondered about individuals who are challenged by what most of us take for granted; thinking, processing and verbalizing.

The feat of heroism requires you to step outside yourself and all that matters in your life and take action without thought. To be a hero is to be selfless. To be a hero takes courage, and so few of us meet that criteria; so few of us are capable of true heroism.

Our children need heroes, not the animated variety or the Hollywood version but real people. Every man and woman who serves our country is a hero. Whether we believe our presence in Iraq and Afghanistan is valid we must not fail in our loyalty to the soldiers. No one asks to go to war, not intentionally, not until later when the scent of war is ingrained, and even then as Americans we need to fly our flag and thank those young men and women in uniform for their bravery.

Now what of other kinds of heroes, the ones that receive no medals, no recognition, what about them? What about the teenager who bags your groceries and hauls your shopping cart into the grocery store? Can he be a hero? If we stereotype our heroes then the likely answer is, no.

In blogging about heroes I am asking you to go outside that square place we call a box. Rethink how you view the people around you. Do not take for granted someone who appears to be challenged for what we consider mundane tasks, and ordinary chores.

Perhaps a hero lies beneath the surface. We may never know, but we can wonder. Belly of the Whale will introduce you to Willy Wulinsky. He may not fit the description of a hero, but he will surprise you. To learn more: read Belly of the Whale, available April first everywhere you buy books and on

Blog what you read, what you see, hear and write.

Cheryl Kaye Tardif - Spotlight Artist for CTI

I am back in Edmonton now, wading through thousands of emails after an awesome trip to Puerto Vallarta, Mexico (pronounced "Meh-hee-ko" after a few pina coladas!) This was a long overdue holiday and the first REAL vacation my husband and I have had together in 21 years--the last one was our honeymoon.

While I am tempted to run out and buy margarita and pina colada mix and keep on holidaying, reality set in when I turned on my computer and opened up my email program, which took almost 10 minutes to upload.

I felt like I was wading through a swamp of emails without a bathing suit! I stepped ankle deep into a bunch of spam mail and quickly deleted it. Then knee high into business emails.

And that's when I found a hidden gem, amidst notices to send in book information and fanmail.
"Author Cheryl Kaye Tardif has won the attention and admiration of readers worldwide with her uniquely compelling suspense novels, including the celebrated “Whale Song,” “Divine Intervention,” and “The River.”

Those who have noted her blogs at Creative Thinkers International and elsewhere know the author is not one to simply rest on her five-star literary laurels, but often shares quality communication with her readers and lends humanitarian support to the causes and issues that concern her. We are honored to present Ms. Tardif as the CTI Spotlight Artist for March 1-15, 2008, and invite you learn more about this gifted Canadian author at"

I also received an email from Aberjhani at CTI:

"It is our pleasure at Creative Thinkers International to inform you that in recognition of your outstanding literary accomplishments, inspiring interaction with your reading audience, and participation at CTI, you have been selected the CTI Spotlight Artist for March 1-15, 2008. We hope this token of recognition helps in some way to further enhance your individual creative vision and marketing efforts."

I invite you to check out my page at Creative Thinkers International.

And please check out and sign my guestbook and sign up for my monthly newsletter.

Hasta Manana...

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

Random Acts of Kindness

During our stay at the Riu Vallarta Hotel in Mexico, I had the pleasure of meeting some great people and giving away some of my novels. Ironically, most of the people I talked to were from Canada. The funny thing was that two people--one Canadian and one American--said they thought I was from the States. Apparently, I have an American accent. Go figure! :)

One day I passed by a woman who told me she liked my red hair. Then we went our separate ways.

Later that day or the next, I decided to pass out some more of my books. By the pool, a couple sat to my right and I debated on leaving a book. Neither of them seemed to be reading, but I felt compelled to leave a copy of Whale Song anyway. I did so when the couple went to the pool.

Then switched seats with my husband and waited.

When the woman returned, she gathered her belongings and gave a few glances at the book lying on her chair. She walked away, and I felt a bit deflated. But she returned right away and made a beeline for the book. She asked my husband if it was his. He said, "No. It's my wife's."

When she turned to me, I explained that I was the author and that I had left it for her as a gift, if she thought she'd enjoy it. The next thing I knew, she was sitting down on her lounger and reading Whale Song. I had to laugh when my husband and hers started talking. She moved away slightly and gave me an apologetic look. "I don't want to be distracted from your book," she said with a smile.

I may have gifted her with a book, but she gave me something unexpected back in return. With all the book signings and special events I have held, it is a rare treat for me to actually observe someone reading one of my books. It is an indescribable feeling--a delightful mix of accomplishment and humble thankfulness.

A while later I took a walk with 4 books in hand, one each of Divine Intervention and The River and 2 of Whale Song. I walked down one row of loungers until I reached some women who were reading. I introduced myself, assured them I wasn't selling anything and told them I wanted to give away my books. Within seconds I had no books left.

The last gal took The River, I think. When she first glanced up at me, she said, "Hey, you're the one with the red hair." It was the same woman I had passed earlier.

Coincidence? I don't think so. I don't believe in coincidence.

Have you ever been the recipient of a Random Act of Kindness from a total stranger? If so, please share.

Have you ever "given" a Random Act of Kindness? If so, please tell us about it.

I challenge each of you to do one totally random "nice" thing for a stranger--someone you've never met before. Do this by Sunday, March 9th. I guarantee you will impact a life and you'll feel really great afterward. :)

If you're unsure of what to do, give someone a copy of Whale Song. :)

~Cheryl Kaye Tardif,
bestselling author

Wednesday, March 05, 2008

Saying "Great Job"...with cake!

Recently my family and friends gathered to help me celebrate the run up to publication of JANEOLOGY, which makes its debut in less than 30 days.

How did they express their happiness? With cake! Now that's the kind of kudos everyone needs.

Monday, March 03, 2008

Fatal Encryption, A First Look at the Cover!

My cover for Fatal Encryption is now complete, and thanks to Jim Bisakowski at for the amazing job.

Here's what the back cover copy says:

Dressed as Kermit the Frog on Halloween night, an unemployed Alex Bellamy wonders where his life went wrong. It could be worse. A few miles away, Zachary Ternoway is stabbed at his front door. In need of cash, Alex agrees to help catch a computer prankster at McKinleys’ Department Store. But things turn serious when someone vows to permanently encrypt the store’s data and torch the building unless ten million dollars is handed over in two weeks. Alex knows there’s a connection between the murder and the extortion threat, yet time’s running out. People are questioning his competency, and a killer’s threatening his life.

And thanks to our own Cheryl Kaye Tardif for the terrific blurb. She's the best!:

FATAL ENCRYPTION is a corporate caper with plenty of twists and turns, and an assortment of appealing characters to keep you guessing. Debra Purdy Kong’s newest novel offers a well-plotted mystery reminiscent of the classic whodunits. A great beach read!” – Cheryl Kaye Tardif, bestselling author.

I'll let you know as soon as the sample chapters are posted on my website.

Sunday, March 02, 2008

Cheryl Kaye Tardif and Michael Connelly

On my trip to Mexico last week, I realized how many people read books while on holiday and I said to my husband that one of my dreams was to walk past someone reading one of my books. I had no idea that would happen by the end of that week.

The second day, we decided to spend some time on the beachfront of the Riu Vallarta. By the way, I highly recommend this hotel! Beautiful rooms, stunning views, soft sandy beach, yummy all inclusive buffets and restaurants and refreshing pools.

While relaxing on a lounger and working on my freckles, I noticed two couples a row in front and a few seats down. I saw books in their hands. Immediately, I plotted how I could anonymously leave them one of my books. When they disappeared into the beach restaurant for lunch, I strode toward their loungers and left a copy of The River on one seat and Divine Intervention on the other.

Inside each book, I wrote a special message--something like this:

If you found this book, it is yours.
This is a Random Act of Kindness from the author.
Cheryl Kaye Tardif,
Riu Vallarta - Feb. 22 - Mar. 1st, 2008

When the two couples returned, I shamelessly spied on them and watched their puzzling looks. Okay, I admit, it was fun to do this unexpected thing, even though my husband Marc was worried they'd just throw the books away. But mischief me got a big kick out of watching them covertly from my wrap-around sunglasses while I tried hard not to smile.

I saw them look around, then finally one of the men opened the book and saw my message. I was torn between wanting to go over and say Hi and just wanting to revel in doing this random act. So I remained in my seat. The reward came first when I saw one of the men open up my book and start reading.

Even more ironic was the fact that on the day we left, we came across the same couples. As we drew closer I realized that one of the men was holding Divine Intervention. He was halfway through it. Then I saw the other man with The River, also halfway finished. So I leaned down and said, "Can I ask if you're enjoying your book?"

It didn't take them long to figure out who I was and I was rewarded with smiles and praise.
But it's the words of the one fellow I won't soon forget.

"Your style is similar to Michael Connelly's," said the man reading Divine Intervention.

WOW! That is high praise! And I am immensely honored.

So, to these kind couples, if you come across my site and blog, please sign my guestbook.

And to anyone reading this blog post, please check out Divine Intervention and The River on Amazon, and please let me know what you think when you read them. :)

Saturday, March 01, 2008

Blog for Sacred Space

This is a blog about space, not outer space or myspace, but sacred space. The mere mention of this place rings holy, divine and reverential. Beyond cyberspace is that place of our own, a physical spot on the planet where our soul is at peace. To some it may be the beach, to others a mountain view, for a writer sacred space is essential, it is the very center of where thoughts begin.

When I was younger and a single parent there was no such place. Every inch of our small house was tagged, even my bedroom. There were only so many corners four people could escape to and no place was off limits in our home. If I put paper and pen on the dining room table, someone was bound to settle in next to me, if I thought to stay up, pillows fluffed behind my head, I would find myself next morning slumped over with pen still in my hand. So my writing became portable, because we were portable, our lives a constant swirl of motion. My sacred space was in my car, on the sidelines of a soccer game, on a rain-drenched field under an umbrella, on my lap at lunch, at five in the morning sitting on a kitchen stool and in motel rooms during championships from here to Phoenix.

The stories in my head began in long hand on yellow legal pad without the benefit of a holy spot, the ever sought after, close-the-door-place I could flee to when the words bubbled over.

Today I have an office in what used to be the playroom. Surrounding me are snippets and quotations, kid photographs and a smiling Buddha. This is the place, the space I blog about today, the spot I encourage each one of you to create and seek. Your spirit is revived in your hallow place, your soul finds comfort, your mind rests and your creativity flows.

Where is your scared space?

Look around, walk the terrain, touch, smell and listen. Move the furniture, pictures and lamps until it feels right. Mark your place on the planet. Deem it yours.

Blog what you hear, what you see, what you feel.

Linda Merlino, author, Belly of the Whale
preorder on