Friday, July 29, 2011

I see dead people...

I am often asked where I get my inspiration for my stories, and I must confess that many of my ideas come from dreams. You see, my mind must be quite twisted. At least you'd think so if you could see what I dream about some nights.

I see dead people. I've always been haunted--by horrifying images, mind-numbing sounds and things that go creak in the night. These dreams are creations, no matter how scary or horrible they may be. My creations.

Perhaps my dreams stem from all those horror movies I watched as a teen. Or perhaps it's all Stephen King's fault. Yeah, let's blame the King. After all, he got me in trouble plenty of times when my parents would yell at me to put down my book and turn off my light. Thank God for flashlights and Duracell!

Some people ask me if my books are written from true experiences. Yes, I once was a young girl living on an island and being bullied while dreaming of killer whales and wolves. Yes, I once traveled down the Nahanni River in search of my father who had been presumed dead but was actually alive and in danger. Yes, I'm actually "Jasi McLellan", a psychic government agent who hunts down serial killers and is haunted by a dead girl in my closet. Yes, I once saw ghost children outside a cabin near Cadomin Cave, Alberta. Yes, I once fell madly in love with a handsome recluse who lives on a private island in the Bahamas.

I see dead people. It's not my fault. They're in my dreams. They're in my head.

And they want out.

That's why I write. Well, one of the reasons. After all, every fictional character is "dead" until a writer brings them to life. That's my goal with every book. To bring you characters that you'll love, hate, feel something for.

I see dead people. I hear them too. Right now they're saying, "Go to bed. You've got some dreaming to do."

Cheryl Kaye Tardif

Wednesday, July 20, 2011

Book Giveaway: The Drinking Game

Enter to win.

Watching Over Your Kids

Times have changed a lot since I was a kid. I had lots of freedom. I could go where I wanted without saying where that would be as long as I showed up for dinner exactly at 5 p.m. I don't really think my mom had a clue where all I went, I think she thought I stayed in our neighborhood. Mostly I did, but once in awhile I got the urge to go visit someone much farther away and I walked there or road my bike. (This was in the 40s.) I also rode the streetcar to downtown L.A. from the time I was 10 with my cousin and later with friends as a teen. I saw plenty, but didn't tell the worst to my mom because I knew she'd curtail my trips.

One time my sister did disappear from the neighborhood when she was only 5. The police were called. Everyone looked for her and she finally turned up about 3 hours later, then the police arrived. I don't really remember where she was, but it didn't make any of the parents keep a better eye on us. Of course we only had radio and newspapers back in the day and we didn't learn about bad things happening anywhere but our general area which was Southern California. The news seemed to concentrate on the movie stars of the day. I don't remember any stories of child disappearances from that time and I'm sure there must have been.

When my oldest girl was only 2, my mom left her on a fenced in front porch while she went in back to hang up clothes. When mom returned, my child was gone. She called the police immediately, within a short while they found her 5 miles away on a street corner. Supposition was that the abductor had a police radio and hear the police were already looking for her.

As time went on and I had a houseful of kids an lived in a rather small beach town, our kids were allowed the free run of the neighborhood. My four-year old disappeared and of course the police were called. We learned 3 other 4 year-olds were gone too. To make a long story short, around 4 p.m. a crossing guard (who I knew from PTA) went home to find four little kids in her back yard. They'd managed to climb over the fence using a trash can, but couldn't get back out. They were kept company by her chow dog and ate lots of oranges from her backyard tree.

She tried to drive the kids home, but they had no idea which way to go. She called the police and they delivered them. What we learned is they were trying to find the jungle. They saw the dog through the fence and thought he was a lion. So everything turned out okay--but really scarey for long, long time.

Today, most people would not let their children roam free like we did in years past. Just walking to school can be dangerous. We hear on the news all the time about children being abducted.
I do think it's a shame though, I know all my traipsing around is what made me so independent and figuring I could do anything.


Monday, July 18, 2011

Summer Reviewer Giveaway - July 1-August 31

A special announcement from Imajin Books:

This July & August, we hope you'll join us for our Summer Reviewer Giveaway. No, we aren't giving away reviewers (though I'm sure some authors would LOVE to have their very own). We're rewarding reviewers!

We think reviewers are special. They take the time to read our books and then post their thoughts about our titles on blogs, websites, Facebook pages, Goodreads, LibraryThing, Shelfari etc. And it's time they get some real appreciation. So we're giving away ebooks to reviewers.

And our reviewers will be entered in a draw for a Mystery Prize worth at least $120.

Here's how it works:
  • Borrow an Imajin Books title (ebook or paperback) from a friend or lending site, or buy from your favourite retailer. 
  • Then post a review on Amazon, B&N or Goodreads. Only reviews posted between July 1, 2011 and August 31, 2011 qualify.
  • Email us with the links to your reviews.
  • You'll receive 1 free ebook of your choice (from our titles). No obligation to review your ebook prize.
  • 1 Mystery Prize valued at $120 (minimum) will be given away to one lucky winner.
  • Anyone, anywhere, 18+, can enter this giveaway. Void where prohibited. No purchase necessary. No cash value.
  • Imajin Books authors, their families and any subcontracted associates of Imajin Books are excluded from this contest.
  • All prizes will be awarded after September 1st and before September 3rd. The Mystery Prize may take up to 4 weeks to be received.

Tuesday, July 12, 2011

Young Victims of Gang Violence

Five-year-old killed in Alberta drive-by shooting

This shooting on the Samson Cree First Nation Indian Reserve is quite likely gang-related.  The main business driving this gang activity, and gang activity across the nation, is the illicit drug trade and its associated ventures.

People in the know anticipated a spike in gang violence following the massive crack down on the Hells Angels in Eastern Canaada as rival gangs fought to fill the void left in the drug trade by those bikers sitting in prison awaiting their trials and sentencing.

The gangs have not failed to dissappoint.  In Manitoba, gang warfare in recent weeks has been regularly making the headlines.

It is often the young who pay the dearest when drug wars rage.  At-risk children, seeking a place to belong, are flattered by the attention of older gangsters--and those unscrupulous adults are eager to take advantage of that weakness.  Youngsters are often the foot soldiers for the gang elite, doing the dirty work at street level in exchange for vague promises of  belonging and respect.  However, gang life is far from the glittery, glamorous, and powerful lifestyle these youngsters imagine.

Bikers/drugs/blood.  A girl/a man/ and the law.  THE TRAZ, written for teens and the adults in their lives reveals the dark, stark, and painful reality of life with a gang.  It come complete with a Teaching/Discussion Guide to help both adults and children avoid a life of terror.

"What are some major differences between a gang and a family?"  Do you know?  It is time to find out.

Let's keep our children safe.  It's going to get much worse before it gets better.

Firebombings linked to biker turf war: Cop

THE TRAZ soon to be released as a paperback.  Available in eFormat at:

...and more 

Being a Famous Writer's Spouse

My husband gets it all the time, especially when there has just been an article about me in the local news. Last week the paper covered my experience at Printers' Row in Chicago, so when he went golfing on Sunday, he got it again: "What's it like to be married to a famous writer?"
He takes it pretty well, always joking that he has to make an appointment if he wants to talk to me. Actually, I'm probably more accessible now than ever before in our 40-plus years of marriage. He can always find me in the successful writer's spot, Butt In The Chair, Honey! (Get the acronym?)
What is probably hard for him is listening to my two favorite, repetitive topics: what do I do about this (or that) plot problem, and why is it so difficult to get noticed in this business?
The problem is that I'm not famous, despite what the home-town crowd thinks. Hubby knows, from years of observation, how un-famous most writers are, toiling away in semi-obscurity for very little money with only occasional glimmers of encouragement from the world. He knows that I work as many or more hours now as I did when I taught school. Being a writer means I don't know when quitting time is, as he's witnessed many times when I edit right through dinner or scarf my breakfast in order to get back to work on the current MS.
He's learned to schlep books to signings and then stand back until it's time to schlep (most of) those same books back to the car. He's become a source of information on everything from boating terms to guns to life in Vietnam. He repeatedly encouraged me during the long years of waiting for that first book deal, and he is very wise about when to say nothing--which is a lot of the time.
Writers' spouses must want to say "Give it up" sometimes. They must want to point out that only a crazy person would work so hard for so little remuneration. They might even want to do an intervention: "You are way over the edge with this writing thing, honey."
The good ones say nothing.
What my husband says to the guys on the golf course? I couldn't tell you. But this "famous" writer is glad her spouse is such a good sport about living with a writer, a person who can not NOT write. If I ever do become famous, he'll deserve half the limelight.
But he'll probably be golfing.

Sunday, July 10, 2011

Why I Write Supernatural Thrillers

I don’t have the answers to my questions about life and forever, but I do know why I love writing supernatural thrillers. For starters, I think many people have some sort of curiosity about the supernatural. At some point, most people wonder about heaven and hell and life and death and spirits and monsters, if at no other time than in their youth.

I have always been intrigued with things that freak people out: Eternity, Ghosts, Aliens, and spirits of the unknown. And to be honest, I'm using the word intrigue in place of the word "afraid". If I were to tell you some of my real life experiences you'd know why. 

I'll save those for another post.

It’s normal for us to be curious about our body’s natural course, that is, to die, get buried and then enter eternity. You don’t have to believe in anything to question or fear the possible realms and dimensions that may or may not exist in this vast and endless universe. You will eventually, however, discover the truth. And if that truth means that your spirit floats endlessly through my living room late at night, I for one want to understand what the hell your doing there and how I can properly dispose of and/or exorcise you from my presence!

The supernatural: ghosts, spirits, apparitions, they are the things that we often hear about, but rarely see for ourselves. Those of us that have experienced something, something eerie, something malevolent, or something gently watching over us, know that there is more to this life than what we can see. The rest of the world either chooses to disregard the supernatural until they look at it with their own eyes, or fear it too much to desire investigating. Either way, it makes for great literary fodder.

I have had a few supernatural experiences in my life. These are the experiences that have formed my inner drive to create tales of frightful delight for the reader who needs a regular fear-fix. In some ways you could say that I’m a literary drug dealer, injecting my bookish narcotic into the veins of the paranormally addicted. If that’s the case, I’ll apologize on behalf of all suspense, horror and supernatural authors everywhere. We don’t mean to make your life miserable, leaving your forearm with jagged tracks from your literary lusting. For that, we are sorry.

Of course I don’t want to scare you at every turn of the page. I want to climb into the human spirit and lay out the facts. I want to reach into the fears that we all have and place them under the skin of my characters so that you feel as much like you are living the story, the exhilarating and intense moment that you thought was only fiction. That’s all I want. I hope I’m not asking too much.

Here’s a short excerpt from Reunion, my supernatural thriller…

.…Paul changed his tone. He had to get to the bottom of the rumors that were circulating about the building. 
“So, have you guys seen or heard anything unusual?”
“Nope!” responded Tony.
“Aaaap!” wheezed old man Joe.
“You okay there, Joe?” asked Paul.
“What are you saying, Joe? Did you see something unusual or not?”
Paul threw his hands in the air. “For God’s sake, what is he saying, Tony?”
“Hell, I don’t know. Sounds like he’s saying…Aaaap!”
“What the hell does that mean?”
“I think it means yes. At least, that’s what I think he means when he makes that sound.”
Paul thought for a second and asked, “So, what did you see, Joe?” 
Joe pointed behind the two men. They both followed his finger with their eyes.
“What the—!” shouted Tony. He tripped on the mop bucket, causing the wax to spill all over the floor. He slipped and splashed in the slippery solution.
“Oh, God!” cried Paul.
When Paul turned to look at what old man Joe pointed at, he saw a mirage of children walking to and fro. The images looked like an old-time movie where the picture faded in and out, but the same frames played over and over. Paul and Tony stood there frozen, watching the images emerge and vanish again as if their broadcast depended on a weakening signal. Old man Joe just kept on gliding his squeegee across the floor. The flickering film continued, smoky and translucent. Paul stared right through the children, across the cafeteria.
The kids seemed to be trapped in another dimension where they walked the same path over and over. Their spirits appeared lost and searching for the life that was cut way too short. One of the spirits resisted the pattern and stared back at them, looking deep into the place that he could no longer enter.
“Do you see that, boss?” asked Tony as he rose to his feet, dripping with wax.
Paul stepped back and said, “Yeah,” then turned toward Joe. “Why didn’t you say something, Joe? Why didn’t you tell us?”
Joe kept on working. “Reckon, you’d see it all by yurself, just like you done.”
Paul and Tony looked at Joe in disbelief. Paul began pacing in circles, trying to make sense of the mirage as it slowly disappeared.
He looked at the men with eyes clouded in fear. “Just finish the floor and get the hell out of here. You hear me?” They nodded and continued cleaning up. 
Tony looked over his shoulder and gripped the mop handle tight.
“I’ll check on Mike,” said Paul. “Hopefully he’s done by now.

-Jeff Bennington  
Author of REUNION
Creator of The Writing Bomb

Friday, July 08, 2011

New Spy Network

Six months ago we finally bit the bullet and became a family fully equipped with cell phones. Motivated by the increasing complexity of chauffeuring our fourteen year old daughter between her social activities, school and home prompted us to indulge in the latest gadget and to train ourselves in texting.

"This is good," I thought. "We'll be able to know where she is all the time." But that is only one side of the story. The other day my husband had a toothache so we zipped into town when she was at school and when we got home the daughter says, "So how was the dentists?" A friend of hers who we didn't know was in the dentist's office as well and texted her "I think your parents have just come in."

Then we get a call from the school that she's up for an award and could we come to the assembly. It was a hush-hush thing. No sooner had we walked into the building and sat down than my phone signaled a message from the daughter.
"Are you in the school?"
"What makes you ask that?"
"D saw you and texted me."
"Isn't your cell phone suppose to be turned off during school hours?"

There's no getting away from it. She can keep track of us better than we can keep track of her. The new spy network. Graphic for this blog entry (Spy vs Spy - remember them?) is stolen from here.

Thursday, July 07, 2011


Posted by Chris Redding

The Anonymous Client
By JP Hailey (Parnell Hall)
ISBN: 978-1-936441-22-8,
e-book edition released 2011,
232 pages.
This is another fast-paced novel featuring criminal defense attorney, Steve Winslow. The protagonist is clever and so is the novel. It’s also slick, fast-paced, amusing and entertaining. The author has a good sense of his readers and their likely primary interests. He also has a good eye for detail and a finely-honed ability to use words to their maximum effect.
The novel begins and ends with personnel problems in Winslow’s office, a nice counterpoint to the main theme. The problem is a little fillip that adds some rhythm to the book. In the beginning, Winslow’s sole employee, Tracy Garvin, complains of being seriously underworked. That’s because her boss has a tendency to not appear in the office for weeks on end, and that’s because Winslow has few clients.
One day, as the novel opens, a letter arrives. It contains ten one thousand dollar bills. Thus is laid the basis for a very entertaining, very complicated murder and blackmail plot. As is the case with other novels in this series, the plot is a morass of mis-direction, tricky timing, private detectives, and a lot of both internal and external speculation and dialogue. The book is rife with minutia, details that enhance and color the reader’s perceptions of what has just happened, what it may mean and where the story is going next.
Set in New York City, Hall and his protagonist mine the rich variety of setting and character in mostly excellent ways. There is considerably less action in the novel than is often found in crime fiction except for the courtroom scenes which are among the most compelling I have ever read. Dialogue heavy, with sometimes arcane legal maneuvering; these scenes crackle with urgency and tension as we watch the nimble attorney skate along the edge of legal chasms while trying to save his client, sometimes without even knowing who his client is.
Carl Brookins Case of the Great Train Robbery, Reunion, Red Sky

Friday, July 01, 2011

Check out the Imajin Books Summer eBook Sale - July 1-31

Check out the 'Summer Sizzles with Imajin Books' event. It starts off with a bang! And it would be a crime to miss it.

All ebooks are priced between $0.99 and $2.99 USD.

If you order Kindle ebooks via Amazon, you can visit any of the books' Amazon pages (links below) and you'll see the new price listed. These prices are in effect until August 1st, 2011.




REMOTE CONTROL - (This novelette is FREE via Smashwords and $0.99 on Amazon; Amazon users: get the mobi file FREE from Smashwords)





If you usually buy ebooks for a Nook, Kobo, Sony, iPad or other ereader or for your PC, you can purchase discounted ebooks via To receive the sale price, simply use the codes below when purchasing. You can click on the links below to go right to Smashwords. Go through the buy process like normal and enter the code in the coupon code box to receive the discount.

WHALE SONG - - Code: SP97D


THE RIVER - - Code: CS52Q



(This novelette is FREE via Smashwords and $0.99 on Amazon; Amazon users: get the mobi file FREE from Smashwords)





Happy reading!