Saturday, May 31, 2008

A candlelight vigil in honor of Tori and Dean

Yesterday I wrote about a tragic double murder that happened on July 26, 2006--the brutal strangulation of Tori Vienneau and her 10-month-old son, Dean. Their story deeply saddens me, especially for Tori and Dean's family and friends.

Such a senseless and incomprehendable act by Dennis Potts, the baby's birth father, a man who is awaiting a trial that I know will bring more heartache for Tori's family as they relive their loved ones' last hours. If the court sees fit, as it should, perhaps Tori and Dean will see a slim slice of justice. However, I believe there is never really true justice in this world.

Now I am going to turn my thoughts away from the INhuman to the wonderful and loving family and friends of Tori and Dean. I felt honored when I found emails from Tori's good friend Deserie and Tori's mom (and Dean's grandma) Dayna. I felt an immediate connection to them both, and my heart cries for their losses. But I am going to focus now on the knowledge that Tori and Dean's lives were richly blessed, by love and an ever-growing family of relatives and friends.

Right now Dayna and Deserie are preparing for a candlelight vigil and walk that will take place from 5:30-8:00 (PST). They are expecting about 50 family and friends to walk with them, including possible media. If you live in their area, I hope you will consider joining them. They can use all the support possible. (Vigil details at the end.) I wish them a peaceful and safe journey filled with loving thoughts of their two angels.

I can't walk with them since I live in Canada, but I'm walking in spirit. I've set up my own candle vigil, with angels and flowers from my brother's memorial service watching over my display.

Tonight I'll light 2 candles in honor of Tori and Dean, who touched my heart in 2 days. I pray that their spirits are at rest, just like my brother Jason, safe in the knowledge that they are loved.

A message from Deserie:

PLEASE JOIN US for a walk and candle light vigil in memory of Tori Vienneau (22) and Dean Springstube (10 mo.), TONIGHT from 5:30-8:00 pm.

Tori and Dean were viciously murdered on July 26, 2006 in their home. (Tori was savagely beaten and strangled; Baby dean was hung by a noose from his crib! The murder suspect is finally behind bars awaiting trial, to begin June 16, 2008).

We will walk from Tori's childhood home @ Fallbrook Ct. in Bonita, CA (91902), stopping along the way for a silent lighting of the candles.

We will continue on to Tori and Dean's final resting place at Glen Abbey Cemetary on Bonita Road.


We are asking for a $25 dollar donation, but any amount will help.

ALL PROCEEDS WILL GO FOR LEGAL EXPENSES AND START-UP COSTS for to become a non-profit organization to help others who have been affected by violence.

Your donation is GREATLY appreciated!

While we are hoping to raise funds for this very worthy cause, we are first and foremost doing this to HONOR THE LIVES OF TORI AND DEAN.

Deserie Peterson

~Cheryl Kaye Tardif, author

Friday, May 30, 2008

What kind of monster hangs a baby in a noose?

I came across a very heart wrenching site yesterday. And I don't believe in accidents or coincidences. Someone had signed my guestbook recently at and I decided to check out their blog. On the right side I saw a link to A Voice for Tori & Dean. I'm not sure what made me click on it.

There are some things that happen that just make us cringe and ask: How can this possibly happen?

Tori Vienneau (22) and her 10 month baby boy Dean were brutally murdered on July 26, 2006. Tori was found beaten and strangled in one room and her baby Dean was found hanging by a noose in his crib.

I can't shake this imagery from my mind. It is tragic beyond words, beyond belief.

Strangled? Both of them? And one a baby?

What would make someone do something like this? How could any human being hang an innocent baby?

To me, there is only one answer: someone INhuman, someone evil, a monster who has no right to life himself.

There is no defense or excuse for murders such as these.

Thankfully, there was an arrest. Two, actually. Dennis Potts, 23, was charged with two counts of murder and conspiracy to obstruct justice, and Max Corn, 23, was charged with conspiracy to obstruct justice. Reading some of the news reports, I was not surprised to learn that Potts was actually the baby's father. It felt like a case of focused voilent rage, which meant that the victims knew the perpetrator.

Recently, an author friend of mine, Karen Harrington, wrote about mothers who kill their children and the possibility that it could be a hereditary trait. Does this suggest that men could inherit this same deadly trait? We all know men who are prone to voilence, but what kind of man takes a friend with him and performs such a heinous crime? No man at all.

I felt compelled to sign the guestbook, but I admit, I felt somewhat like an intruder. This is such a very deep and personal loss for them. But I haven't been able to forget about Tori and Dean. Surprisingly, I received an email from Deserie, a friend of Tori's. She thanked me for leaving a message in the guestbook, and this reminded me of how I felt to see strangers leave notes in my brother's guestbook after his murder. Strangers and people who knew him but that I didn't know.

I think the real message in all this is that victims of violence need to be remembered, their memories kept alive by everyone and anyone. Survivors of violence need the comfort of knowing that their loved one(s) have reached out beyond the grave and touched even a stranger's heart, as Tori and Dean have touched mine. I know what it's like to lose a baby. I know that Tori's mom and Dean's grandma need to feel still connected, and they are. By love.

My message for Mom/Grandma and all family and friends of Tori and Dean is this:

There is always light at the end of even the darkest tunnel. And with light comes hope. You have been kissed by angels.

So I invite you to visit this humble site with it's tragic story, beautiful pictures and a guestbook filled with love.

~Cheryl Kaye Tardif, author of Whale Song

It's never too late to turn your life around

As mentioned in my last post about Hope Mission in Edmonton, I was asked to pre-record a personal message for the Mission of Hope Radio-thon in October 2008. As this date draws closer, I'll give you more information.

For now, here's a recap of what Hope Mission is all about:

Hope Mission, a Christian social care agency, began in 1929 as a soup kitchen serving meals to hundreds of people struggling with unemployment and homelessness at the onset of the Depression.

Hope Mission currently operates a men’s emergency shelter (Herb Jamieson Centre), a residence for at-risk women with or without children (Women’s Centre), a youth outreach centre (R.W. Tegler Youth Sports Centre), an activity and hot meal program to low income area elementary schools (Kids In Action), a Youth Shelter, a Women's emergency shelter, a Ministry Van, an Intox/Detox Centre, Transitional Housing, an Emergency Mat program and a summer camp for underprivileged youth and children (Brightwood Ranch)

Today, I drove down to Hope Mission. It's located in downtown east Edmonton. From my understanding, they rely solely on donations from the public. I had the honor of teaching a men's writing workshop last year, to men in the addictions program. These men were inspiring, respectful and eager to learn, and there was some awesome talent there. They should each be proud of all their accomplishments. One day at a time.

My interview went well and I hope I was able to convey how important Hope Mission is to the people of Edmonton. I hope it inspires more people to donate, and I hope it will change people's perceptions of homeless or down-on-their-luck people. I talked about my brother Jason, who was murdered in Edmonton in 2006. I spoke about how Hope Mission tried to help him, how they reached out to me and my family and remembered Jason in a special memorial service in 2007.

On the way home from Hope Mission, I heard a song on the radio that hit me hard. The lyrics spoke to me. I felt like this is a message my brother wants to share with his street family...

Never Too Late by Hedley

Hoping I can run today and get away faster

Than ever from here

Another night and who can say if leaving is better

Than living in fear

Here's to all the broken hearts tonight

Here's to all the "fall-a-parts" tonight

Here's to every girl and boy who lost their joy

They let it get away

You know it's never too late

Get up and start all over again

You know it's never too late

There's got to be a better way

Don't settle for the cold and rain

It's not too late to start again

Find a way to smile and never let it get away

It's been too long and we've been down and out without laughter

No smiling just tears

We're tired of falling down and being such a disaster

We've been here for years

Here's to all the broken hearts tonight

Here's to all the "fall-a-parts" tonight

Here's to every girl and boy who lost their joy

They let it get away

You know it's never too late

Get up and start all over again

You know it's never too late

There's got to be a better way

Don't settle for the cold and rain

It's not too late to start again

Find a way to smile and never let it get away

I'm gone, I'm gone, there's got to be a better way, I'm gone

I'm gone, I'm gone, there's got to be a better way, I'm gone

I'm gone, I'm gone, there's got to be a better way, I'm gone

I'm gone, I'm gone, there's got to be a better way, I'm gone

You know it's never too late

(I'm gone, I'm gone)

You know it's never too late

(I'm gone, I'm gone)

There's got to be a better way

(I'm gone, I'm gone)

It was tough to hear these words and drive home. Below is the actual song.

Please consider donating to Hope Mission.

Also, if you buy a copy of Whale Song, a portion of my royalties will go to Hope Mission.

~Cheryl Kaye Tardif

Thursday, May 29, 2008

Isn't poverty and homelessness (as well as murder) a crime?

Yesterday, I received an email from Stephen Berg, the Development Director at Hope Mission here in Edmonton, asking if I would agree to pre-record a radio interview for the Mission of Hope Radio-thon in October and talk about Hope Mission. I was extremely honored that Steve thought of me; he has always been very supportive of me as a survivor of a violent crime and also as an author. I knew immediately what I wanted my message to be. I wanted to share how I am connected to Hope Mission by tragedy, what it offers and how important it is to Edmonton inner city survival.

First, let me remind you of what happened to me and my family in January 2006...

My youngest brother Jason was raised in a good and decent family, went out on his own in his early 20's and tried to start his adult life. But he struggled financially and emotionally. He went from job to job, as is common with many young people, and he moved to Edmonton on my invitation, with hope to start a new life for himself. But somewhere along life's path, he lost his way.

Jason turned to alcohol and it became his companion. He lived for some time on the streets, then in a men's shelter. He called occasionally and told us about Hope Mission, that they were helping him. He also suffered from mental illness and bouts of depression. He was on medication--when he remembered to get it. Slowly, he closed himself off from family, and I even filed a missing persons report at one time because we hadn't heard from him in months.

We finally did hear from him, indirectly. I was contacted by a local hospital. Jason had been admitted because he'd been badly beaten. But by the time they contacted me, he had already been discharged. At least we knew he was still alive. We heard from him a few times after that.

Jason had just celebrated his 28th birthday on January 15th, 2006. Then on January 23, 2006, two police officers showed up on my doorstep and my world and that of my family's was turned upside down. What we had feared most had happened. My brother, a funny copper-haired computer whiz, was found dead in the alley close to the Mustard Seed church in downtown east Edmonton. His murderer is still at large and police are still looking for leads in this case.

After his death, we were contacted by people who knew Jason. We even met some of his friends--his city family. The police officers were kind to us and very respectful of Jason's memory. They admitted that they knew of him, but that Jason had never caused any serious trouble and had been the recipient of violence (as in the time above when he was admitted to the hospital). It is during this time that I was connected again to Hope Mission. Many people there knew about Jason and knew him.

In January 2007, Hope Mission held a special memorial to honor all the people who had died in the last year--people who had lived like Jason, disenfranchised, suffering from addictions and feeling hopeless. Most of these people struggled through life and died very violently. My husband, daughter and I attended this memorial, and I was asked to talk about Jason and remember him. That is the only time I ever recall speaking to a group of people while my entire body shook and while struggling to hold back tears. It was a beautiful memorial, and I was so grateful to meet others who knew my brother. Everyone had such wonderful things to say about him. He was loved.

Shortly afterward, my husband and I decided to support Hope Mission financially. We've always given money to charities before but this time we had a personal connection. We signed up for one of their donation programs--Friend of the Friendless. We gladly give money every month and I can't tell you how rewarding it feels to know that our money is going to something so vital, so hopeful, and to an organization that can use it to help save a life.

When my novel Whale Song was published by Kunati in April 2007, I dedicated it to Jason. I also decided to give a percentage of my WHale Song royalties to the three nonprofit organizations who helped my brother--the Bissell Centre, Mustard Seed church and Hope Mission. These types of nonprofits are found in every major city, and it's unfortunate but we need them. And they need us. Without financial support, programs are shut down, shelters are closed or never expanded and people are left with nothing--no food, no shelter, no support, no hope.

Next time you see a homeless person, someone begging in the street, a person you would consider a "bum", please remember this: this person before you is someone's son or daughter, maybe someone's brother or sister, or a mother, father, uncle, aunt, grandmother, grandfather. These are PEOPLE. With feelings, emotions, hopes and dreams that have been squashed by addictions they can't help, jobs they're just unable to get or keep, and a life they never chose.

Do you really think anyone would CHOOSE to live like this if they really felt deep inside that there was another way? Don't you realize that they often think they're unworthy, that they don't deserve better? Don't you understand that it's this lifestyle that leads some of them to crime; they weren't born criminals--at least not the majority. I think the poverty lifestyle is also an addiction. It's a life they know.

I implore you to look at the people behind the grizzled, dirty, tired, drunken, drugged up, battered, homeless faces. SEE them as human beings. And I urge you to check out your local homeless shelters, support them in their work and in bringing hope to those less fortunate.

Don't you think everyone deserves hope? I do.

"Become a friend of the hungry, the hurting, the homeless; become a friend of the too often forgotten." --Hope Mission

Please visit Hope Mission's website and support the work they are doing. Right now they need donations to help send children to a special camp. I am about to donate to this myself. And remember...your donations could save a life.

More on the Radio-thon and my interview in my next post.

Buy Whale Song in support of Hope Mission, the Bissell Centre and the Mustard Seed church and help the homeless.

~Cheryl Kaye Tardif

Sunday, May 25, 2008


At speaking gigs and book signings I most often refer to my crime novels as detective stories. I suppose that’s because I think of them as being about my fictional sleuth, Hannibal Jones more than about the plot. Still, people often challenge that description, either for clarification or seemingly as a correction.

“Oh, you mean a murder mystery?”

Well, yes and no. Between them, the four books in the series give Hannibal five murders to solve. But two of those murders are in one book, and three in another. The other books have different puzzles for him to solve, and as I thought of it, none of the cases begin with him actually hired to solve a murder. Lately I’ve begun to wonder if I’m the weirdo for thinking that a story can be a valid mystery without a bloody killing at the center of it. Has our society come so far that it isn’t a mystery without murder?

I blame the girls.

Ler me explain. The first mysteries I ever read were Sherlock Holmes stories. Seen as a body of work one notices that there are rather few grisly killings in the lot. Missing persons, stolen artifacts, lost documents, even stolen identities - Arthur Conan Doyle found a remarkable variety of cases to challenge his consulting detective, but not that many outright murders.

From there I graduated to what are now called hard-boiled detective stories. Despite their reputations as he-man writers, Ray Chandler, Dash Hammett and even John D. McDonald managed to spin some great tales without making the solving of a murder the focus. Instead they managed a pleasing variety of cases.

You may have started with Nancy Drew’s mysteries. As I understand it, there’s not a lot of gore in those tales, and there’s a total absence of maniac serial killers. But then you probably moved on to the most influential of all mystery authors: Agatha Christie.

Yes, we can credit Edgar Allen Poe for inventing the form and Wilkie Collins for making it work as a novel, but nobody popularized mystery fiction like Dame Agatha. She solidified the format of what we call the traditional mystery, and created most of the conventions of the genre. She invented the locked-room mystery, the dining room interrogation, and the drawing room denouement, Even the term “red herring” is from Ten Little Indians (or is it, And Then There Were None?)

And every one of Miss Marple’s or Hercule Poirot’s cases revolves around a murder most foul. All the greats that followed close after her - Margery Allingham, Dorothy L. Sayers, Ngaio Marsh, etc. - Held to that formula. A mystery wasn’t a mystery without a murder. And let’s face it, these ladies made the mystery novel what it is today.

So these seminal sisters in crime must take the blame for the expectations of mystery readers. But the question is, were they right? Must a mystery require a murder?

Wednesday, May 21, 2008

Authors interviewing characters? What?

Have you visited The Plotline? It's a funky little place where authors get to talk to characters in a whole new light.

If you visit today, for instance, you'll be treated to an interview with Tom Nelson, protagonist of Janeology. That is, if he decides to show up. Sometimes he sends others in his place.


K. Harrington
What did Jane do?


From the diary of Tiffany the Toilet Ranger:

Really, a campground over a long weekend is a great setting for a mystery - of any type - suspense, cozy, psychological thriller … all the elements are there. I know, I was there, too.

The balding fellow with the huge RV, the tiny yappy dashboard dog off-leash and a cougar in the area - what was he thinking? Squirrels are bigger than that animal for gosh sakes and if the mutt were to disappear down the maze of gopher holes, he would never ever be found again. Would the perplexed owner with the big rec equipment think someone had stolen his pouch … would he be set on revenge?

Where would he look to cast blame?

Suspense: On the couple running naked through the trees and doing a very private act in a very public place? Wait - I can see there's no where to hide a dog, even a very small one, there.

Psychological thriller: Maybe it was the group with the axes stuck into the environmentally protected trees? Too bad there is nothing to save them from the mentally deficient. Is the pampered pet chopped liver?

Cozy: How about the Goth with the dog collar around her neck - that collar looks pretty tight - did she take it from the yappy-happy puppy? Are those ripped leggings from Rover’s roving claws?

Action: The dudes with the dynamite fireworks - did they accidently light Rover over a cherry bomb? Will the dudes steal a high speed cleaning cart, bust the barricade and dump the deceased into the ash pit?

Accidental Death: Or maybe it was a bear, waking up, hungry and thinking the diminutive dog was just a berry on the bush - smush, chomp, swallow - no evidence there until it comes out the other end - miles away - in a cave high above the tree line.

Such are the ponderings of a toilet ranger.

Saturday, May 17, 2008

If one whiff of smoke from an arsonist’s fire made you see into a killer’s mind, would you consider it a gift or a curse?

Whether you believe in psychic or paranormal phenomena or not, there is an element of the "unknown", happenings that don't lend to logical explanations. Since the beginning of mankind, there have been reports of strange or unusual phenomena--UFOs, psychic visions, crop circles, Stonehenge and much more.

Do you believe in the paranormal? What exactly do you believe?

Can God or an ultimate power still be found within a psychic gift?
Or is this power coming from something or somewhere evil?

Have you ever had a premonitory dream or vision? Ever touch
something and suddenly know who held it last and why?

For some, paranormal gifts are a reality; for others a curse and for many an impossible feat. Some of us avoid thinking about it, while others are drawn to television shows like Medium and Ghost Whisperer or to novels like Divine Intervention that explore the luring world of the paranormal.

For CFBI Agent Jasmine McLellan, her special gift as a Pyro-Psychic gives her an ‘edge’ as she leads a covert team of psychic government agents in search of some of North America ’s most ruthless criminals.

Jasi and her team hunt for a deadly serial arsonist who is bent on revenge and murder in Divine Intervention, a novel that explores abortion, abuse and abandonment.

Vicious murders, deadly secrets, suspects with hidden agendas and a dead girl’s ghost in Jasi’s closet are the key elements to Divine Intervention, book 1 in a paranormal suspense series set slightly in the future, and a novel for fans of J. D. Robb and Kay Hooper or TV’s CSI , Ghost Whisperer and Medium.

"An exciting book from start to finish...mystery fans will love this book." --Writer's Digest

P.S. I welcome your thoughts on the questions above.

~Cheryl Kaye Tardif,
author of Divine Intervention

Friday, May 16, 2008

Husbands Who cheat...with other men.

A little more than ten years ago, an article in a local paper caught my attention. It wasn’t just that it was well written (which it was), but the subject matter, because it corresponded so closely with research I was already doing in preparation for writing my novel, truly piqued my interest. The article began with the information that doctors, investigators and social scientists were puzzled by a sudden increase in HIV/AIDS cases in Long Island. The thing that really made this outbreak all the more mysterious was that the great majority of these new HIV/AIDS cases involved heterosexual married women. Subsequent investigation revealed that most of these women had been infected by their husbands who, it was later found out, had been sexually involved with some of the young male prostitutes that regularly ply their trade on the streets of New York City. In one extreme case, one of those husbands murdered his entire family fearing he’d passed the HIV/AIDS virus on to them because of his extramarital dalliances with male prostitutes.
Men sleeping with men certainly isn't new, even married men having sex with other males isn't a new idea, I believe it was Alexander the Great who said,and I paraphrase here, "A woman to bear children, a boy for fun." What has seemingly brought all this to the fore is the attention it's getting from and through the media. Recent events headlined in national news were the arrests of a famous celebrity, a couple of senators and other politicians, and top executives of Disney (of all places!) for either allegedly trolling public restrooms for man-on-man quickies, or for promoting child pornography. In 2007 alone, there were at least ten instances of well-known or at least well-to-do married "straight" men arrested by police or captured by the media either having sex or attempting to have sex with other men in public places, or in the case of the media; discreetly in motels or hotels. What confuses many of the friends and family (especially the wives) of these men is that they insist that they are "straight." Very few of these men ever admit to being homosexual, even when caught in the act of performing what is clearly a homosexual act. A few years ago a non-fiction book was published on the subject of men, specifically black men, secretly being sexually involved with other men. "On the Down Low: A Journey into the Lives of 'Straight' Black Men Who Sleep with Men" (Hardcover)by J.L. King (Author), became a best-seller.
What are the factors involved that would cause a seemingly happily married man to pursue a sexual relationship with another man? I would imagine they are the same as those that would lure a man into an extramarital affair with someone of the opposite sex. Other factors may contribute to the liaison(s) with other men however, such as latent( or not so latent) homosexual desire, easier sexual access, the thrill of performing a societal taboo... one or more of those things could be a deciding factor in causing or luring a married man into a covert homosexual relationship. In actuality however, the reasons a probably as complicated and numerous as the number of persons involved in such affairs. It would probably take a lot more knowledge in the area than I have, and many years of study to figure it all out completely.

My novel Chickenhawk was inspired, at least in part, by the revelations in those previously mentioned newspaper articles.

Wednesday, May 14, 2008

To CSI or not CSI...that's the question!

Recently, mystery/crime writer Patricia Cornwell donated a lot of money for the creation of a crime scene academy at the John Jay College of Criminal Justice in New York. Why? See the excerpt of the article below that appeared in the newspaper, USA Today.

NEW YORK (AP) — Patricia Cornwell is donating $1 million to a top criminal justice college for a new academy to teach CSI techniques.
The best-selling novelist said she's taking action because she's appalled by what she's seen at crime scene investigations.
"I've seen cops walk through blood. I've seen them leave their own fingerprints on a window," Cornwell said in an interview Friday. "I've seen bloody clothing put in a plastic bag, instead of a paper bag, so it decomposes."
Her funding will help start the Crime Scene Academy at New York's John Jay College of Criminal Justice, set to open this fall with training in DNA typing, fingerprint enhancement techniques, ballistics and forensic psychology

Later, Ms. Cornwell recanted her words and, more or less, apologized for the above quote. As writers of mystery/crime-related stories, articles, novels and books, we often get mired down in finding the facts. We do research and interview experts and sources in order to have authentic information in our works. In the case of works of fiction, truth may be even more important since we ask our readers to suspend their disbelief while reading our words and trust in us enough to let us lead them into our world. Few things can be as jarring to a reader than to find a miscue or incorrect information in the middle of an otherwise fully engaging story. I was once reading a great story( although the title and author momentarily escape me) in which the author describes how one of the characters screws a silencer onto the end of a revolver. Revolvers don't have silencers that can be screwed onto the end of their barrels and they wouldn't work if they did anyway. Truth in fiction is important, especially in crime drama.

But, getting back to the CSI thing... First off, I know a lot of cops (heck, I'm a former employee of the NYPD myself), and although Crime Scene Investigations are an extremely important part of any investigation, most cops know that the great majority of crimes are solved by their stoolies and street informers. I have watched cops and/or agents at crime scenes and have sometimes winced at the lack of respect for the crime scene. I have watched cops smoke at crime scenes, dropping ashes and spent cigarettes carelessly onto the ground or floor, cops move furniture, sit down, flush toilets, wipe their feet... I even once watched as an officer ate sunflower seeds and spit the shells onto the prone body of the perp! The truth is, although CSI makes for great television and even better writing, in real life it often takes a back seat to pounding the streets, knocking on doors, interviewing witnesses, or talking to informants. The CSI stuff, hairs, fibers, prints, etc. usually go into building a more solid case; something that can be presented to a D.A. and a judge. It can be used to elevate a case from purely circumstantial to indisputable, and certainly is crucial to getting a conviction... but the initial work, the grunt work, is what, most often than not, gets the bad guy or at least points the cops in the right direction. So Patricia Cornwell has nothing to apologize for... at least as far as I'm concerned.

Monday, May 12, 2008

Be wary of what you say. A writer might be listening.

Writers are born spies. We are watching and recording even when we don't realize it. Often, a story is inpsired by a slice of conversation between a couple we overhear in the next restaurant booth – "This is not the time or place, Fred!" or the way someone artfully complains to a steward on an airplane – "Maybe this service goes over well at Greyhound, sweetie, but this is first class and I shouldn't have to tell you."

I was recently having drink with a friend at a coffee chain. We were sitting inside next to a window. As we talked, I noticed a couple sit down at a two-seater table outside.

They didn't arrive together, that was clear. She, natural and not in-your-face-pretty in a Gwyneth Paltrow kind of way, sat down first. Her ram-rod straight posture against the hard, wire-framed chair suggested she felt very relaxed and confident.

He, equal to her looks in an everyman, but not leading man fashion, carried a large laptop case, pulled out his chair and made to sit down – but not before his whole case came tumbling open and the contents of it, including his laptop, spread around on the pavement at his feet. Fortunate for him, it was not a windy day. He stood there for a moment looking like he'd just wet his pants on the playground in front of the popular girl. He scooped the papers and pens back into the case and shoved them under the seat. (I noticed she did not help him with this task.) Then, he sat on the edge of his seat, slightly hunched toward her, continuously running his hand through his hair. He was talking fast. Whatever he was saying, probably tinged with a healthy dose of nervous laughter, just made her more interested in her frothy drink and straw, which she was moving up and down inside the cup with the tips of her coral colored manicure. She was bored. I assigned her a bubble thought: "I think on my next polish change, I should go with Make Mine Mauve."

His bubble thought shouted, "Idiot! Stop talking about how your new Dell laptop can withstand a drop from three and half feet."

I felt bad for them. Well, actually, I felt bad for him.

It was clear this was a first and possibly last meeting. Through the window glass, I never heard any of their exchange. Still, I could see a story play out in front of me. Would she be worn down by his nervous charm when he called her the next week and they'd go out again? Or was she counting the minutes until she could text her girlfriend about this bad date? Was he waitng for her to leave so he could sufficiently flog himself for being so clumsy, fueling the start of his future serial-killer infamy as the Manicure Maniac? Or, would this send him inside for a double-tall latte from a sweet barista who would become his next girlfriend merely because she asked, "Is that the latest Dell laptop?"

The story could go so many directions, which is the pure joy of writing. We take human observations and weave in our own "what ifs" and life experiences until an interesting scenario emerges.

Do you observe people and conversations? Do you sometimes fill in the blanks about what is taking place?

Today's JANEOLOGY blog tour stop is a review from ReviewYourBook:

Happy Days!

I have finally come down off the ceiling of excitement from the news of my very first major book contract – major meaning it comes with an advance and everything! Thrilled beyond description would be one way to describe it. Now it’s time to enter the harrowing and narrowing hall of two full-time jobs plus family. Luckily it’s a hall that only four months long.

Sunday, May 11, 2008

What I learned from Mother

Good morning, and Happy Mother's Day! I could not resist sharing this very insightful list with you on this special day, proving that I owe everything I know to my mom.


1. My mother taught me: TO APPRECIATE A JOB WELL DONE .
'If you're going to kill each other, do it outside. I just finished cleaning.'

2. My mother taught me: RELIGION.
'You better pray that will come out of the carpet.'

3. My mother taught me: TIME TRAVEL .
'If you don't straighten up, I'm going to knock you into the middle of next week!'

4. My mother taught me: LOGIC.
' Because I said so, that's why.'

5. My mother taught me: MORE LOGIC .
'If you fall out of that swing and break your neck, you're not going to the store with me.'

6. My mother taught me: FORESIGHT.
'Make sure you wear clean underwear, in case you're in an accident.'

7. My mother taught me: IRONY
'Keep crying, and I'll give you something to cry about.'

8. My mother taught me about the science of OSMOSIS .
'Shut your mouth and eat your supper.'

9. My mother taught me: CONTORTIONISM.
'Will you look at that dirt on the back of your neck!'

10. My mother t aught me about STAMINA.
'You'll sit there until all that spinach is gone.'

11. My mother taught me: WEATHER .
'This room of yours looks as if a tornado went through it.'

12. My mother taught me: HYPOCRISY.
'If I told you once, I've told you a million times. Don't exaggerate!'

13. My mother taught me: THE CIRCLE OF LIFE.
'I brought you into this world, and I can take you out.'

14. My mother taught me about BEHAVIOR MODIFICATION.
'Stop acting like your father!'

15. My mother taught me: ENVY.
'There are millions of l ess fortunate children in this world who don't have wonderful parents like you do.'

16. M y mother taught me about ANTICIPATION.
'Just wait until we get home.'

17. My mother taught me: RECEIVING .
'You are going to get it when you get home!'

18. My mother taught me: MEDICAL SCIENCE.
'If you don't stop crossing your eyes, they are going to freeze that way.'

19. My mother taught me: ESP.
'Put your sweater on; don't you think I know when you are cold?'

20. My mother taught me: HUMOUR.
'When that lawn mower cuts off your toes, don't come running to me.'

21. My mother taught me: HOW TO BECOME AN ADULT .
'If you don't eat your vegetables, you'll never grow up.'

22. My mother taught me: GENETICS.
'I swear you're just like your father.'

23. My mother taught me about my ROOTS.
'Shut that door behind you. Do y ou think you were born in a barn?'

24. My mother taught me: WISDOM ..
'When you get to be my age, you'll understand.'

'One day you'll have kids, and I hope they turn out just like you!

BTW, I sent a less humorous Mother's Day essay as a guest blog to The Stiletto Gang - an all-girl team of mystery writers.

Friday, May 09, 2008

Interview with Arnold Wolf, author of Chickenhawk, by fellow Blogger and author: Tamara Grant

Hello fellow crimesters... (crimesters?) The following is an interview conducted by fellow blogger and author, Tamara Grant on Tuesday, April 22, 2008.

Get to know Author Arnold Wolf!
1. Your new novel is entitled Chickenhawk. Where did you come up with the title and what was your inspiration for the book?

Chickenhawk is the term police use or used to describe a man that sexually preys on children, particularly young men and boys. (I recently saw the movie, "Street Kings" in which the Keanu Reeves character accuses some bad guys of being chickenhawks after he saves two young Korean girls from their clutches).

My inspiration for the book came from three different sources that all still had a common thread of fact running through them. First was when I worked nights as a Token Booth Clerk for the MTA many years ago, I used to watch the young male prostitutes running from the cops. Second was a newspaper article in which doctors and investigators were baffled about a sudden rise in HIV/AIDS cases among heterosexual married women in Long Island. It was later found that that this phenomenon was caused by the husbands of the afflicted women who, it was also later found out, had been buying the services of male prostitutes. Finally there was another newspaper article about a man who was a regular customer of male prostitutes and thought he’d given his family AIDS. In a fit of guilt and madness, he killed his entire family. It was later found out that he didn’t even have AIDS.

2. Who is your favorite character in Chickenhawk?My favorite character is Detective Ramos. He’s a solid, regular guy.
3. What were some of the challenges of writing this novel?The biggest challenges were in finishing. It seemed that the farther along I got in the novel, the more reason I found to procrastinate.
4. Many writers pen a novel and don't go to the next step of actually publishing their work. What was the moment when you decided to get your work published?I felt I had a very good story here. A lot of the things that happen in the novel are totally relevant to things that are happening in real life today. Besides, I have two friends. Peter and Cliff, that really liked the draft of the novel that I let them read. Together, they kept bugging me to get published until I succeeded in finding a publisher.
5. Talk about your experience in the publishing game so far?So far it’s been a fairly enjoyable experience. In the beginning I was rejected by every publisher and every agent that I approached with my work. But once I found a publisher that was truly interested in my novel, it became a fun and interesting experience.
6. What aspect of the literary world have you been unprepared for?I must admit, I was unprepared for the amount of racial and ethnic bias in the literary world. A lot of people involved in publishing, and the literary world in general, have predetermined notions of what types of books certain people should write.
7. What time of day do you prefer to write?I prefer to write during the day, usually between the hours of 10:00am and 1:00 pm. That way I can get plenty of rest and still have time to take my time writing. Then of course I can still run errands or watch t.v.
8. What type of promotion has worked best for you?I’ve found that promoting my novel through word of mouth has worked the best so far. Not just with my own friends and relatives, but their friends and acquaintances have helped spread the word as well. Then I’d say would come the internet. Using the internet I’ve been able to reach out across the world to get interest for my novel.

9. Why should people read Chickenhawk?Chickenhawk is very entertaining and has a lot of action. It’s a realistic story that is extremely relevant and seems to have been ripped right from today’s headlines. Apex Reviews compared it to John Grisham or Stephen King!
(Yeah, right)

10 Questions with Arnold Wolf....Off the top of your head:

1. Buy a book or Borrow? Support your local library and borrow a book. Support me and buy mine!

2. Zodiac Sign. Aquarius.

3. Favorite food from your childhood. My mom’s corned beef, or rice&beans and fried chicken!

4. When I come home in the evening, the first thing I do is...Put down my work bag, tear off my tie, and get rid of all the accoutrements of my 9 – 5’er!

5. The best advice given to me was from ..... and they said....My old boss Mr. Mullen. He told me to never change.

6. Favorite season.... Spring. It’s a time of renewal and rebirth.

7. The one thing that truly scares me is.... The idea of anyone in my family being seriously hurt or terminally ill.

8. 2 of my other talents are...Painting&Drawing (Artwork), and Photography.

9. In my free time I... Read, write, draw, paint, play video & computer games, study, research, hang out with my family

10. Advice for aspiring authors. Don’t ever give up, don’t let anyone tell you what you can or can’t write, keep your eyes and ears open and absorb all the people you meet and places you go; as these will be the foundations of your stories. Most of all, life is meant to be lived… so live it!

Tuesday, May 06, 2008


“I am sitting in the smallest room of my house. I have your review before me. In a moment it will be behind me.” - Max Reger

Monday, May 05, 2008

Write a short, short story. Win free copies of JANEOLOGY

Janeology just received a 5 Bolt review from the New Mystery Reader. Woo! To celebrate the event, I have a couple first edition, signed, hardback copies of Janeology to give away to my most creative friends.

All you have to do to prove your creativity is write a ten word story about a dysfunctional family. (See, Jane's family is pretty dysfunctional so, well, you get the idea.) It can't be under ten words. It must be precisely ten. The more humorous and bizarre, the better. No profanity, please. If your gem absolutely, positively must include an expletive, insert the word "muffin." Really. It will work. Trust me. Ex: "I've had it with these mother-muffin snakes on this mother-muffin plane!" Hey, you've got to have rules or we'd all be…dysfunctional. Okay, more dysfunctional.

Once you've written your story, post it on And then tell all your friends to come on over here and give it a try!

I'll announce the winners on May 31, 2008 and post the stories on my blogs. And if you don't feel that creative and just want to read Jane's dysfunctional family story you could always order it here.

Okay. Proceed. And have fun!

Three Steps To Launching Your Writing Career

Step one: Make sacrifices to get the book written

Charles Bock, author of Beautiful Children, has said,

"Truth is I worked on this novel for 10 years. Not ten years of watching Seinfeld at 11 PM. Ten years of a high priority in my life. When I was dating the woman who is now my wife, I would only go out with her two nights a week because I couldn't give more time to that.

Step Two: Make your opinions known to your publisher

James Bernard Frost wasn't happy with the cover St. Martin's Press came up with for his debut novel, World Leader Pretend. This was after he'd already asked for a redesign of his first cover. So he created his own, stick-on cover that he slapped on his books after they hit the shelves.

Step Three: Make sure you only receive positive reviews

Author Deborah MacGillivray made an interesting choice when faced with an unfavorable review. According to, the author and her critical Amazon reviewer exchanged a series of heated emails over the posting of a 3 star review. Ms. MacGillivray is credited with making said review disappear by encouraging her fan base to "vote down" the bad review.

Who knows what's in store for these writers in years to come. But their techniques, if nothing else, have made them widely known throughout the blogosphere – which either makes them shrewd marketers or cautionary tales. Only time will tell.


"What did Jane do and why?"

Saturday, May 03, 2008

Body of Quebec woman found in freezer - On Ice?

Globe and Mail covered a story yesterday just seemed weird and a bit ironic to me. The body of a 73-year-old woman in La Prairie, Quebec, was found in a freezer today.

My first reaction was horror; my next reaction was disbelief. This led to a barrage of questions that raced through my mind, ones I'm sure authorities are also asking. Who would do such a thing? Was she alive when she was stuffed into the freezer? Was she already dead? Did she die of natural causes? Was she murdered?

The woman's son, 50-year-old Daniel Martin, was arrested and "charged with improper disposal of a body", states Globe and Mail reporter Sarah Hoida.

The irony of this story is that it immediately reminded me of Red Evans' novel On Ice. It was published by Kunati Books, the same company that published my novel Whale Song. Sadly, Red Evans passed away January 13, 2008.

Here's a synopsis of On Ice. You may see why this news story reminded me of this book.

A twelve-year-old boy from West Virginia, a banjo player and a flatulent dog set out for Louisiana in a 1959 Studebaker pickup truck. In a kiddy pool full of ice, is the corpse of Tyrane Percival. Their mission is to bury Tyrane where he is meant to be, next to his long-lost love, Leona. Young Eldridge and his new pal Felton soon learn that transporting a body that distance is more difficult than they had anticipated as they are pursued by a motorcycle gang and well-meaning bumbling police in this heart-warming and funny road

“Evans’ humor is broad but infectious ... Evans uses offbeat humor to both entertain and move his readers.” —Booklist

Red saw humor and life in everything. His joyous spirit is immortalized in his wonderful novel On Ice. Red Evans had a varied career in the print, radio and television media, and traveled extensively throughout the world to research his writing projects. He lived in Mount Pleasant, South Carolina.

"Truth is stranger than fiction."

~Cheryl Kaye Tardif,
bestselling author

Friday, May 02, 2008

Ponzi Schemes 101

Welcome to Ponzi Schemes 101. Okay, class, we are ready to begin our exploration of Ponzi schemes--what they are, how to recognize them and what the legal and moral ramifications are for becoming an "investor". The first thing that people need to know is that there are thousands and thousands of people who are currently investing in illegal high yield investment programs and most of them haven't got a clue that it's illegal. Most of them look at the small picture--"I can more than double my investment in 60 days."

According to Wikipedia's definition, a Ponzi scheme--named after Charles Ponzi--is "a fraudulent investment operation that involves paying abnormally high returns ("profits") to investors out of the money paid in by subsequent investors, rather than from net revenues generated by any real business."

Charles Ponzi (aka Charles Ponei, Charles P. Bianchi, Carl and Carlo) was the most notorious swindler of his time in the early 1900s in the US, but his criminal activities started off in Canada when he forged checks for himself. After his return to the US, he became an immigrant smuggler, then was involved in IRC and stamp fraud, which he later lured others into participating in, promising them high returns for their investments. After a run of bad press and investigations into his Securities Exchange Company, Ponzi was forced to pay out some of his investors. This caused chaos and fear and more investors pulled out. Eventually, federal agents raided his company and shut it down.

This is basically how a Ponzi scheme works:

  1. An "investor" or admin advertises that he is willing to help you achieve high returns on a small investment over a short period of time. He lures you in.
  2. He will tell you that he'll invest your money in offshore investments, high yield investments, hedge trading or other investments, but he won't give you exact names of said "investments" and you'll have no way to confirm where your money has gone.
  3. He will tempt you with the promise that your money will see a high return over a short period of time, which could be a week, 2 weeks, a month, two months.
  4. Once you "invest" a small amount of seed money, you will usually see the return with little problems (on paper), but you'll be advised or tempted to keep some money in and let it grow.
  5. You might start taking out money, but usually in small amounts.
  6. Most people begin increasing their initial investments after they see it "work" once or twice. That's what the scammer is counting on.
  7. Your investment isn't being invested in legal "offshore investments" that gives that high of a return. It'll be in a regular interest bank account or other accessible place, and since the money from thousands of investors is pooled into that one place, the admin is making some minor interest.
  8. Your invested money will be used to pay off earlier investors and to pay the operator/admin. You invest $1000 and your money is going to someone else as their "interest earned" or to an admin so he can buy a fancy home or sports car.
  9. A Ponzi scheme will offer a referral bonus so that you will bring in new investors. Why? So they can pay off the people before that new person you bring in, including you.
  10. This scheme relies on people's yearning to make money the fast and easy way. If 10,000 people invest $1000 or even $100, that's a lot of money. Even in a bank, it would make some interest.

Why do Ponzi schemes fail?

  • These scams are destined to crash at some point. It is really only a matter of time.
  • They will crash because of many reasons, like the person or persons running it will eventually get greedy, take all the money and disappear.
  • Or the government will step in and close it down--without warning.
  • Or people will wise-up and start pulling their money out, at which time the company folds and the operators steal what they can and disappear.
  • Or because people become suspicious and less investments are received, which then causes payout problems.

How do you know if you're involved in a Ponzi scheme?

  • Are you getting an abnormally high return on your internet investment? Like 20% or more for short terms like 1 week or 2 months?
  • Will the operator of the scheme not give you specific details on where your money is invested, including the names of companies invested in, so that you can check it out? (According to Bill E. Branscum, a financial crimes investigator, "Any legitimate investment opportunity should have an offering circular with specific, detailed information about the company and the investment."
  • Were you told you'd get a referral bonus if you bring someone in?
  • Has the admin/operator been involved with any similar short-lived investment businesses?
  • Has anyone had problems getting their money out?
  • Do you make deposits by either e-currency, like e-gold, and INTGold, or third party payment processors like AlertPay, SolidTrustPay, CEPTrust, TriStarMoneyChangers and StormPay.

If you've answered 'yes' to any of these questions, then you are more than likely involved in a Ponzi scheme.

What are some of the signs that a Ponzi may be on the brink of collapsing?

  • Is there any sign that other investors have not received payment after they've gone through the steps to withdraw their money?
  • Have any of the investors complained of late or incorrect payments or transfers?
  • Has anyone been told there is a computer glitch, banking error?
  • Has there been problems with investors not getting their money for longer than 2 weeks?
  • Has the admin/operator ever suggested that he will limit members/investors?
  • Has the operator ever badmouthed a former investor who swears it's a scam?

Some Ponzi schemes you may have heard about:

  • Second Life, the virtual computer world, was recently scammed by a "Nicholas Portocarrero", who has refused to reveal his/her real identity. Portocarrero started Ginko Financial, a virtual bank which operated much like a real bank only in virtual funds that happen to be vital to the game of Second Life. When Ginko began to collapse, the virtual world was a buzz and it is thought that this was a virtual Ponzi scheme.
  • Ironically, there is another "Nick" that seems to be operating a Ponzi Scheme. Pathway to Prosperity (P2P) has received a lot of attention since it set up in February 2007. A Google search will bring up over 900,000 links, and many of them are complaints by former members and warnings that P2P is a scam. So I checked into it, using the above questions to see if it fit the Ponzi scheme profile. And it does. Not only that, it is run by a Nick Smirnow, which seems coincidental. I found one post by an investor in P2P and it seems the poor investor hasn't received his money in months. I found another very interesting article by someone who investigated Nick Smirnow and Pathway to Prosperity very thoroughly. He points out the similarities between an ad for P2P and one for InvestPlace, a huge scam that cost its members thousands of dollars when its admin or operator disappeared with all the money. Ironically, Nick is linked to that company too.
  • "In the fall of 1998, the SEC filed a lawsuit against Robert Cord, Funding Resource Group a/k/a FRG Trust; MVP Network, Inc. a/k/a MVP Network (Trust); FMCI Trust; Funders Marketing Company, Inc.; Fortune Investments, Ltd.; Winterhawk West Indies, Ltd.; IGW Trust; which were accused of violating various securities laws by engaging in alleged high yield investment schemes which were, in actuality, nothing more than elaborate Ponzi schemes. A criminal forfeiture seized various funds, real property, cars, boats and other property belonging to Robert Cord and his various entities. In connection with his role in running the scam, he pleaded guilty to mail fraud." Source: Crimes of Persuasion
  • According to, "Three con men have been ordered to pay almost $17 million in restitution and fines after they bilked dozens of British Columbians out of millions in a ponzi scheme. The B.C. Securities Commission also banned the men from public markets for life. Malcolm Stevenson and Daniel Byer, both of Abbotsford, and Preston Pinkett II of Virginia, violated B.C. securities laws with their fraudulent firm, International Fiduciary Corp. They promised investors a return of six per cent a month, or more than 72 per cent a year, by flipping bank notes and promising investors they could withdraw their money on short notice from a U.S. account."

Of course, as with all scams, you'll find those that will defend a company, regardless of the evidence in front of them. The truth will come when the Ponzi scheme closes down with no warning, usually within 3 years. My advice: do your homework--yourself. Check out any company that offers high returns. A legal company will be easy to find listed in any business directory and investment companies will be governed in some way, depending on the country.

According to the Ontario Securities Commission, "A company is generally required to put out a prospectus before it sells securities to the public. It includes information like:
• a history of the company and a description of its operations
• a description of the securities being offered
• a list of directors and officers
• financial statements
• a summary of the major risk factors affecting the company
• how the company will spend the money it raises by issuing the securities

Anyone who tries to sell you an investment or give you investment advice must be registered unless they have an exemption."

It's my belief that to be informed is far better than uninformed. In the end, Ponzi schemes will lure people in with its promises of easy money and each individual has to determine if they can continue investing, knowing that it is a Ponzi scheme, knowing that they're taking the next new investor's money, and knowing that they are involved in an illegal investment scam. Sure, $1000 might be no big loss to some, but what if you started investing more? And then more?

This is what Brenda Martin seems to have been involved in--a Ponzi scheme--and she spent over 2 years in a Mexican prison just for unknowingly investing in an internet investment scam. Has she set a precedent now? Will others find themselves in prison because they invested in a Ponzi? These are the questions to ask, and since I know people who are investing in similar programs, I am more than a little worried.

Comments are welcome as long as they are respectful.

~Cheryl Kaye Tardif is a freelance journalist and bestselling suspense author of Whale Song, The River and Divine Intervention. She currently resides in Edmonton, Alberta, Canada.

Thursday, May 01, 2008

Ponzi schemes: Brenda Martin released from Mexican prison

I've been following the Brenda Martin case since I first saw her pleading with the Canadian government to help her after she'd been held for over two years at the Puente Grande women's prison near Guadalajara, Mexico. She was arrested on allegations of money laundering and participating in a criminal conspiracy (a high yield investment plan) that defrauded over 15,000 investors out of approx. $60,000,000. Today, she was back in Canada and has been remanded to the Grand Valley Institution for Women in Kitchener, ON.

At first, when I didn't fully understand what she'd gotten involved in, I was one of the people who said, "Hey, if you do the crime, you do the time." I originally thought, "What could you expect? Serves you right for breaking the law." But I don't think that way now.

Why? Because ANYONE could have invested in Waage's investment club thinking it was a great investment. If someone told you they'd give you a 60% return after 60 days and that you could invest as low as say $100.00, you'd be tempted, wouldn't you? The problem is, these plans DO work. For a short period of time.

According to Martin, she was given a severance pay of about $25,000 for her position as personal chef after her boss, former Edmonton resident Alyn Waage, fired her. Martin then took $10,000 of her severance pay and "invested" it in Waage's company Tri-West Investment Club, saying she didn't know it was a fraudulent company and that she was under the impression it was a good investment. She was quite simply an "investor".

This is a strange case but what seems clear to me now is that Martin's former boss concocted a fraudulent internet investment scheme, the kind that is commonly referred to as a Ponzi scheme, and Martin was duped into believing that it was a legal investment. She is not the first person to be duped. I think it's important for people to keep in mind that she was convicted of investing in a scam, and I bet that most people know someone who has been tempted by Ponzi schemes at least once in their lifetime, and some of us know people who are "investing" in them right now.

Ponzi schemes are everywhere, and they lure unsuspecting people in by promising huge returns, like 60%, on your small investment. Ponzi schemes work because people are lured into a false sense of security. They're told that they don't have to invest much, maybe $100.00 minimum. They're convinced that it's all on the up-and-up by a smooth-talking company representative who not only tells them he's investing in "offshore investments" or some such BS, but also that he genuinely wants to help people so he's allowing them to "piggyback" on his own investments.

As my husband is always quick to point out, "If it sounds too good to be true, it probably is." And it is. Unfortunately, I know people who have fallen for this scam. But if Martin's case sets a precedent, then that would suggest that ANYONE who invests in a Ponzi scheme, knowingly or unknowingly, could then be charged for participating in a criminal conspiracy. THAT scares me!

Why? Because someone close to me has been investing in a Ponzi scheme and even though I have tried to convince this person that their involvement isn't safe (financially, morally or legally), they would rather trust someone else, including the man behind the scheme, rather than me. So in the past month I have been doing my own investigation into the company and others like it.

I'll reveal more about Ponzi schemes in my next post. For now, I just want to say that I think Brenda Martin has done her time and I would hate to see someone who was duped into investing in a Ponzi scheme spend anymore time in prison. There are far worse criminals out there that should be behind bars.

~Cheryl Kaye Tardif is a freelance journalist and bestselling suspense author of Whale Song, The River and Divine Intervention. She currently resides in Edmonton, Alberta, Canada.

A Salute to ALL Fallen War Heroes

When I was a child, I knew a lot about military life; I was a military 'brat', born and raised. My father served in the Canadian Armed Forces, as had his father before him. I grew up surrounded by army green or camouflage uniforms and the smart looking dress uniform I saw on special occasions. My father retired years ago after a long stint and trips to faraway places. My husband and his father also served their country. They are heroes.

My brother Derek is the next generation of military men in our family. He, too, is a hero. I find it very hard to think of what he does, what he could be doing, where he could end up going. It's harder because he's the only brother I have left, since our younger brother Jason was murdered in 2006. I don't think I've ever told Derek how proud I am of him, for representing our family, his family and our country. I am very proud, Derek.

Today Derek sent me a link to a news story in Britain, where fallen heroes are not given the respect they so deserve. While the article made my heart ache for the fallen soldiers in that country, I also felt pride for my country--Canada. I've been 'away' from military life now for about 18 years, but I always think of the men and women overseas who are fighting for freedom--maybe not Canada's freedom, but they're helping those who are too weak to fight for themselves.

I salute and honor all fallen heroes in all countries, particularly Canada, Britain and the US. I think it is tragic and criminal that war heroes are not welcomed with ceremony and honor in Britain. But we can honor them now. I invite you to take a few minutes right now and read the article posted today in This is London and honor ALL fallen heroes.

The article begins with:

"They serve the same Queen, fight the same foe and lay down their lives with equal valour and sacrifice. But when the fallen heroes of Canada and Britain come home, the welcome is very different."

There is no place to comment directly at this link, so I welcome your comments here after you read the article.

~Cheryl Kaye Tardif,
former military 'brat' and former military wife