Friday, November 20, 2009


E.piph.a.ny (noun) [i piffbnee]
1. sudden realization
A sudden intuitive leap of understanding, especially through an ordinary but striking occurrence.
Encarta Dictionary: English (North America)

I had intended ‘Magic of the Muses’ to be a blog about my journey towards publication. Instead, it turned into a diary of my Quest to Quit smoking. I reluctantly admitted that my blog was not attracting the attention of editors, writers, agents, and publishers, but rather drawing visits and comments from scientists, from those in the throes of nicotine withdrawal, and from those professing to hold the magic solution to addiction.

As I dealt with the pangs of quitting, I doggedly pursued my efforts to find an agent--pitching my adult novel, “Noraebang.” However, my obsession with cigarettes (or lack thereof) took a toll on my creativity. My writing efforts became limited to short email queries, blog updates on my battle with the butt, and incessant chatter on Quitnet forums.

When I hit day 60 smoke-free, I began proudly offering advice to those less seasoned in their quitting efforts, despite the fact I was becoming increasingly tense about finishing the last of my Champix prescription. It was about then that a Quitnet expert advised me that if I wanted to be a successful quitter, I had to give up my belief that cigarettes were pleasurable.

I didn’t think this was a viable concept as I considered the pleasure derived from nicotine a ‘fact’, not a ‘belief’.

However, I remembered once reading that one should be wary of putting too much faith in facts. Facts change. For example, it was once a fact that man could not journey to the moon. Was the pleasure of smoking a malleable fact like man’s space-travelling abilities? Or was it an unchangeable and forever kind of fact, like 1 + 1 = 2?

During each of my three pregnancies, cigarettes (both mine and others) were obnoxious and nauseating—not really a pleasure. Perhaps there was some flexibility to the fact. Perhaps cigarettes weren’t pleasurable when I was pregnant and weren’t pleasurable to some people, but...if I were to, say, suck back a Player’s Smooth with tomorrow morning’s coffee, could I actually believe that experience would not be pleasurable?

An ad hoc poll of my ex-smoking buddies showed them evenly split between those who believed cigarettes were no longer pleasurable, and those who had no doubts that they were. If I could bring myself to believe that smoking was a disgusting, unsatisfying activity, it would certainly be a fair bit easier to give up my cravings, resist temptation, and get on with a smoke-free life—forever. But was it at all possible?

Was it even sane to convince oneself to believe something that one knows isn’t true? I worried I was doomed to be a slave to nicotine. And all the pain and panic of the past weeks would be for nought.

Then something strange happened.

I opened my eyes one morning, pushed my Pomeranian away from my face, and knew something I hadn’t known when I went to sleep. I immediately panicked.

Although it is eerie that characters visit me, dictate stories to me, boss me around, and argue and stuff, I love writing and their stories are so interesting I find it easy to ignore the freakiness.
But this was different. I simply opened my eyes and my brain had this thought, "Quitting smoking is just like 'Noraebang'".

And I go, “Yeah, like right.” The pom is again licking my face—a sure sign that he needs to go out. I toss him to the floor. Some of the characters in my novel, “Noraebang,” smoke, but as far as I know, none of them quit.

My head insists on explaining the wayward thought, "The addiction--"

"Noraebang isn't about addiction,” I argue, reluctantly pushing back the covers and setting my feet on the floor. “It's about a woman in an abusive relationship." I swing my feet in circles to keep my toes away from the puppy’s tongue.

"And how does it end?"

"Not very well," I think dourly. I shuffle to the door and escort the pup onto the balcony. "I thought the heroine finally saw the villain for what he was in reality, but the moment there's an inkling of a chance that he loves her, Allie is back grovelling at his feet..."

"What was he in reality that she didn’t see?"

"Carbon was a scum bag! He raped her; beat her; abused and used her." I glower out across the leafless treetops. The misty morning autumn air slides under my nightie. I shiver. The pond is still. A lone Canada goose swoops in for a landing.

"Does the scum bag love her?"

"I have no idea. If he does, it certainly doesn't match my definition of love." I think about the ending to the story. I hadn’t wanted that ending. I had wanted my hapless heroine to be intelligent, strong--to be guided by commonsense. I wanted her to discover real love, not remained trapped by her misplaced loyalty to an abusive man.

"Does she love him?"

"Yeah. Unfortunately..." The dog is scratching at the door to go back in.


A flock of geese floats in over the far hill. My lone goose rises to join his brethren. I follow the dog back into the bedroom.

"I don't know why she loves him. His sparkling eyes? Perhaps his deception?”

It wasn’t easy knowing why she loved him. He’d lied to her about his feelings, his motives...lied about everything. I open the bedroom door and puppy runs to find his master. I hear coffee perking. I close the door to the smell of fresh ground Arabica and shuffle to the ensuite.

“At one time,” I point out to myself, “she needed to bond with him to survive. Maybe she's scared of what life will be like without him. Maybe it gives her justification for falling for him in the first place."

"Ahh, I see. Substitute "she" in the preceding conversation with 'Eileen' and "he" with 'cigarettes' and what have you got?"

Does Eileen love cigarettes?

Yeah. Unfortunately...


I don't know why. Cigarette’s sparking eyes? Perhaps cigarette’s deception? At one time, I needed them. Cigarettes lied to me about their feelings, their motives...lied about everything. Maybe I’m scared of what life will be like without cigarettes. Maybe it gives me justification for starting to smoke in the first place....

Yes, my life surprisingly parallels that of a heroine in a novel I’d written long before I’d even considered giving up cigarettes. I hadn’t known then, hadn’t known until now that entanglement in an abusive relationship was so similar to an addiction.

I stare at my reflection in the vanity mirror. My heroine didn’t learn to ‘unlove’ her abuser as I had wanted, but perhaps I ought to quit loving nicotine and see it for the villainous, dangerous, abusive, enslaving thing that it is. I was beginning to believe it was possible, imperative. I sigh and turn from the mirror.

Now, if only Allie had come to believe Carbon was a no good rotter...

Ephiphany: A sudden intuitive leap of understanding, especially through an ordinary but striking occurrence.

Eileen Schuh,
Canadian writer

Sunday, November 15, 2009

Jan Markley, Dead Frogs, & Getting Published

What’s it like to get your first book published?

For those of us destined (so far) to live vicariously through our fellow writers, I invited Jan Markley to tell it to us like it is. I’m very honoured that she agreed to make time in her busy schedule to share with us the details.

Although Jan has seen her creative non-fiction and humourous personal essays published in the Globe and Mail and West Word (magazine of the Writers Guild of Alberta), "Dead Frog on the Porch" is her debut novel. She describes it as “...a comedic mystery adventure for middle grade readers.” It is the first in the Megabyte Mystery Series.

Jan lives in Calgary, Alberta and is active in the writers’ community through the Writers Guild of Alberta, Young Alberta Books Society and the Society of Children’s Book Writers and Illustrators. She’s a big believer in writing critiquing groups and has been a member of the Kensington Writers’ Group for several years.

She has a Master of Arts, Social Science degree in Cultural Anthropology. She’s proud of her thesis entitled: “Walking in the Footsteps of our Ancestors”: Present Day Representation of Peigan/Blackfoot Cultural Identity, University of Calgary (2002). She enjoyed researching her thesis at the Peigan First Nation in southern Alberta. In order to feed her keen interest in other cultures, she has travelled extensively, most recently to India.

I asked Jan to compare the pleasure of seeing “Dead Frog on my Porch” published, to the pleasure of writing the novel.

“It was important to me that my novel get published as I worked as a professional writer for many years as a journalist. But being a writer is more about who I am as a person than a profession. I have always been a writer.

The writing of the book, the craft, was very important to me. I wanted it to be a well-written novel for middle grade readers aged 8-12 as I think that age group demands a good story. It is gratifying to see the book and to hear what children think of it after they read it.

Eileen: With this question, Jan, I’m looking for some words of encouragement for those of us still waiting for our first book to become a reality. How many rejection letters did you get before you received your first publishing contract?

"Many. I documented my ‘how I got published’ story on my blog which is called: Three Dead Moths in my Mailbox: From Finished Manuscript to Book Publishing contract. (To read more , click on this link to Jan's blog ( )

I found the three keys to getting published were rewriting, persistence, and stalking!"

Eileen: Did you come away with anything positive from rejections?

"Yes, as you know there is a hierarchy of rejection letters. I sent out queries and then was asked, y a number of publishers and agents, for my full manuscript which was a good sign. Then I began to get long rejection letters outlining what they liked and what was the stumbling block to them publishing it. They would then outline suggested areas for rewriting and ask me to resubmit it. This happened with a couple of publishers so I knew that I was getting closer.

If you find that you get several rejections that mention the same issues, such as plot or character, then you need to look at that seriously.

If you are getting form rejection letters then perhaps you sent the manuscript out too early and need to do a couple more rewrites."

Eileen: How did you learn you were being offered a publishing contract? Tell us about that moment.

"It was an email from my publisher Crystal Stranaghan. I wrote about it on my blog as well as in an article for the WGA (Writers Guild of Alberta)"

(To read her account of those breathless first moments click on this link to her blog: It was a cold and lonely Tuesday )

Eileen: After signing the contract, what was the next most exciting thing to happen?

"Oh, lots of things, getting a website up, starting a blog, planning a book tour.

The process of going through the substantive editing phase was interesting and helpful, as was the process of going through the galleys and the copy editing stage.

Seeing the book in my hot little hands for the first time was great. The book launches were exciting. And most recently, one of the most exciting things was seeing my book randomly stuffed into my niece’s backpack – just like a regular book!"

Eileen: Your book has been recently published and you are now promoting it. Tell us about the pros and cons of that aspect of your profession.

"Well, now I’m a tadpole in a very large pond of literary frogs. As you know, there are many great Canadian writers and I am thrilled to be in their company, and I’ve benefited from their advice over the years.

I think it’s a continual process of looking for opportunities to promote your book and talk to parents, teachers and librarians about it.

I joined a number of organizations such as the Young Alberta Book Society, the Society of Children’s Book Writers and Illustrators, and I’ve been a member of the Writers Guild for years."

Eileen: Tell us a bit about “Dead Frog on the Porch”.

It’s a mystery/adventure for middle-grade readers aged 8-12.

When twin sisters Cyd and Jane are propelled into an international plot that involves evil scientists and giant genetically stretched frogs, the girls are in a suspenseful and hilarious race to save the frog kingdom.

Feeling bad after she accidentally killed her sister’s frog, Cyd gets caught up in Jane’s obsessive search for an answer to the mystery. But first they have to get past their scientist mom who sides with the geneticists, and the police who don’t believe them. The girls use the Internet to track down the culprits, outsmart them with an antidote to the serum, and expose the scientists for the harm they are causing to the frog kingdom.

Slithering out of a near strangulation by a boa constrictor, and a way-to-close-call escape from a plant vault, their safety is in danger as they get up the noses of the scientists. If their love of animals wasn’t enough to motivate them, scratching yet another mosquito bite, the girls discover the link between frogs, the environment and humanity

The modern characters routinely evoke the spirit of Nancy Drew and use technology and old fashioned curiosity to solve the crime. Armed with strong personal convictions about animals and the environment, the characters act on their belief that kids can change the world even if it is one frog at a time.

The novel started as a ‘write an incident from your childhood’ writing exercise, so I wrote about the time I accidently killed my friend Jane’s pet frog. I recently found Jane and blogged about what it was like tracking her down and finding her after all these years. She still has pet frogs and kept them far away from me when I visited!"

Eileen: What is your advice to those of us still seeking a publisher?

"Do your homework. I think the biggest mistake writers aspiring to be published make is sending a manuscript out before it is ready. A first draft is just that. Send it through your writers group or your beta readers, then rewrite and rewrite some more.

Learn as much as you can about your craft, and read in the genre you are writing and other genres. My blog is about where writing meets life and where life meets writing and I post about aspects of story development and writing.

Educate your self about the publishing industry. A couple of blogs written by agents are particularly helpful in keeping you informed about what’s going on in the publishing industry – Nathan Bransford and Janet Reid’s blogs."

Eileen: Where can we buy “Dead Frog on my Porch?”

"You can get it through or You can get it through your local independent bookstore. If you want to order it in for your school, check out Gumboot Books website for more information."

Eileen: When will your next book be out?

"The next book in the Megabyte Mystery series is called, "Dead Bird through the Cat Door" and should be available fall 2010 from Gumboot Books."

Eileen: Again, thanks so much, Jan. Doing this interview was truly a thrill for me.

Eileen Schuh,
Canadian writer

Saturday, November 7, 2009

Beware: The power of your pen

I've been Quit 68 days. Saved $448.80. Salvaged 7 days, 17 hours of my life.

I get those stats from the Quitnet website which includes discussion forums for quitters, expert advice, links to personal advisers, a buddy system--lots of good stuff. I enjoy this site because not only does it support my quit, but it's a chance for me to help others who are quitting. (

I'll let the following excerpt from an email I wrote to my good friend and confidante, C**, relate what happened next....

Hi, C**

I managed to antagonize users of another forum--my Quitnet forum! I have a fellow quitter accusing me of trying to lure ex-smokers back to cigarettes!

Sheesh! What does he think I am? A nicotine demon hired by the tobacco companies to infiltrate Quitnet and lure back their customers? What the hell? It upset me. Lots. Remember I advised you that one should only hand over the power to hurt to those we respect? I didn't follow that advice.

I have spent lots of time on the Qnet forums offering support and encouragment, so the one time when I seek advice and encouragement and get shot down like that.... I guess I ought to have had more of a sense of humour about it. [Writing emails to you always sparks that possibility.] Actually, for the first time since it happened, I'm finding myself giggling about it. Thanks, C**, for giving me that perspective.

What happened was I wrote an email to Qnet's experts saying I only had a couple of weeks left on my Champix prescription and was scared I'd go back to smoking once it ran out. I was told (among other tidbits of advice) that to be a successful quitter I had to stop believing cigarettes were pleasurable. This startling advice was akin to being told I would inherit a billion dollars as soon as I believed the ocean wasn't salty...

So, that was the question I posed on Quitnet: had anyone out there been able to come to believe that cigarettes aren't pleasurable? Surprisingly (to me), there are many who have and many who believe this is a prerequisite to successful quitting.

One lady responded that since I hadn't believed cigarettes were pleasurable before I became addicted, it was just a matter of returning to that state of mind. To which I replied, it was not all that simple a step for me as I had found cigarettes pleasurable long before I took my first puff-- and in rather flowery, powerful language explained how as a child I'd been entranced by my father's smoking habit.

Do you suppose it was that wonderful piece of prose--describing slender swirls of blue twirling up the sunbeams...the contented look in my father's eyes...the wondrous aroma when he opened a fresh can of tobacco--

D'ya think that's what made him suspect me of infiltrating????

Thanks, C**. It now seems totally humorous to me.... No more tears...
I had intended my Qnet words to communicate my powerful affinity to nicotine. I thought if others better understood my addiction they'd be able to offer me more appropriate advice and encouragement. It was all about me.

Until I wrote the above email to C**, I had not considered the effect my alluring words might have on a community of people trying to quit.

Writers--always keep your readers in mind. Beware: The power of your pen...

Eileen Schuh,
Canadian writer

Tuesday, October 27, 2009

Guest Blog by author Cheryl Kaye Tardif

I have a great guest blog this week--a followup article from best-selling Canadian author, Cheryl K Tardif, who last time discussed her pseudonym, Cherish D'Angelo. You can read the first Romance novel she's written under that name--for free, as she explains below.

If 'free', 'romance', 'suspense', and 'thriller' aren't enough enticement, she's recently revealed she's included some of her friends and supporters in the novel. Does that include me? You? We better check it out!

Eileen Schuh
Canadian Author

Romantic suspense: a scintillating combination of titillation and trepidation

When I first decided to write a romance novel, I polished off the first half of a contemporary romance, then got bored with it and filed it away in the bowels of my computer. You know, stuffed so far into a file that I easily forgot about it. The problem was that I had already established myself as an author of mystery and suspense. Sure there was some romance in my novels, but it didn’t “drive” the story, and there often wasn’t a “happily ever after”, which is the unshakable law of romance novels.

What bored me about my original romance novel—beside the title (Reflections)—was the journey of my characters (I forget the main character’s name). They met, there was chemistry, she had a disturbing past that stood in her way, they explored each other timidly, she fell in love, he didn’t at first, they eventually hooked up…blah, blah, blah…and they all lived happily ever after. Boring!

I knew that there were many problems with the work. I couldn’t get into my characters enough for even ME to feel for them, much less a poor reader. It’s my personal mantra to make readers feel what my characters feel. Then there was the setting. It originally took place in Bermuda, where I had lived as a teen. However, the laws there are strict regarding people who can live there or own land. And finally, there wasn’t enough tension or suspense, something I feel I’m good at creating when I write a thriller. I buried the manuscript, never sure if I’d ever look at it again. But I did.

In June, I heard about the Dorchester ‘Next Best Celler’ contest over at Dorchester Publishing is looking for the “New Voice in Romance”. As soon as I read that, I thought: I could BE that voice. Since the prize was a publishing contract with Dorchester, a company I’ve been interested in for a few years, I was instantly motivated.

First, I opened up Reflections and did lots of cringing and groaning. I wondered if I’d be better off starting a new novel from scratch, but the theme of the novel drew me in: A woman is stranded on a tropical island after her dying boss sends her there for reasons only known to him and said woman meets angry but handsome recluse. Sure beats meeting a guy in a bar.

As I read over the first few chapters of Reflections, I realized instantly what I could do to amp up this novel and make it worth publishing. I could make it a romantic suspense [insert flashing light bulb]. All I had to do was throw in an element of danger, which came in the form of a sleazy, sadistic private investigator. He was created when, partway through writing this novel, I held a special contest. My “Create a Corpse Contest” had been popular in the past and this time it resulted in the winning entry: “Winston Chambers”.

As soon as Winston was thrown into the mix, the plot thickened, grew darker and more intense, and I realized something. I had created one of my best characters in that scumbag Winston. I hated him! And if I hated him, I knew my readers would too. If you read some of the comments over at, you’ll see the reaction people have had.
Winston Chambers allowed me to tiptoe over to the dark side, while pursuing the romance between my main characters, Rhianna and Jonathan.

Has the original Reflections changed? Darn rights it has! Only the premise and a few short scenes are from the original manuscript. I took the concept and created an entire 66,000 word manuscript in just under 5 months. You can read about ¾ of it online FREE.

My debut romantic suspense is called Lancelot’s Lady, and I think you’ll find it’s a scintillating combination of titillation and trepidation, the ingredients necessary in a novel of this genre. You’ll also find that I plan to use a pseudonym for my romance writing, so be sure to keep an eye out for Cherish D’Angelo’s debut. Cherish likes to stir her cauldron of steamy romance and lurking suspense, occasionally adding a dash of humor and a pinch of foreshadowing. She’s already considered her next romance novel…but if she tells you about it now, she’d have to kill you.

What started as a boring work has become an inspiring one that grew more visible to me with each added scene. This Dorchester contest, while often seeming long and exhausting, pushed me to deliver. And I hope I did. Please check out Lancelot’s Lady at Let me know what you think. How did I do? If you really enjoy it, please consider voting for me. If you click on the blue thumb circle and blue phone circle, I get 2 points, and that will help me get to the finals in mid-November. I sincerely value your support.

Read Lancelot’s Lady for FREE at:

~Cherish D’Angelo (aka Cheryl Kaye Tardif)

Wednesday, October 14, 2009

The Circle of Time

This is my 44th consecutive smoke-free day. As my life as a smoker draws to a close, my career as a writer opens wide.

Life is a fabric woven from segments like these--intertwined memories and expectations, beginnings and endings, past, present, future--self and the universe. I am the pattern that emerges from this tapestry of choices and fate, traumas and celebrations, failures and triumphs. As it is with the universe, this pattern that is me is ever changing, ever renewing, ever becoming.

Most writers blog about the use of the semicolon, the proper format for a query letter, the upcoming release of their newest book, the source of inspiration, etc. Likewise, I intended to use "Magic of the Muses" to showcase my skill as a writer, promote the novels I've written, find the agent/publisher I'm seeking. My blog, however, evolved into an intimate diary of my quest to quit smoking.

Between the hours involved in blogging about this quest, and the time spent pacing and eating--distracted by cravings and pain--my writing career seemed to be going nowhere. Yet, in my inbox an email from an agent appeared, requesting a copy of my novel, "Noraebang" to review. Next came a tweet from an American scientist, interested in my tweeted and blogged campaign to quit.

As my nicotine cravings gradually fade along with the need to write about them, my time becomes increasing devoted to cultivating the interest in my writing sparked by "Magic of the Muses".

I am diligently pursuing an agent, preparing queries and answering responses. I'll keep you posted. Perhaps my next blog will be entitled, "Me and my Agent".

Eileen Schuh,
Canadian writer

Read a preview and excerpt from my novel

Tuesday, October 6, 2009

Day 36: Suck it up, Princess

I received an email about my last post, suggesting I shouldn't minimize my fight to quit smoking. Although others in the world may be facing greater and more painful challenges, addictions are a very serious issue for individuals and for society.

I have to agree. In fact, the woman who inspired me by working through the grief of losing her grandson to a drunk driver, was quite likely the victim of someone with an addiction--alcohol addiction. Addictions are the evil behind many criminal acts. [They have a prominent role in my crime novels which are previewed on my website:]

I did not intend last week's blog to minimize my addiction, my pain, or my efforts to quit. I believe, though, that I was attributing entirely too many words and exclamation marks to my weeping and moaning. I chose to start smoking and I chose to quit smoking. Lots of people, like the grandmother in my last blog, are hurting through no choice of their own.

So, what I was trying to say to myself was, "Suck it up, Princess!"

Although encouraging people to talk about their pains and problems is touted as a great stress reliever, studies have shown otherwise. During conversations about trauma, people react emotionally and physically as if they were actually experiencing the events. The moral? Sometimes it's best and healthiest to leave things be and move on--think about other things, other people, sunnier times, brighter futures.

To this end, I will briefly inform you--the cravings are much less frequent and less intense. My candy consumption is decreasing. And my husband has announced he is joining me in 'butting out' for keeps.

On a lighter note, I asked for tidbits of humour on Facebook and Twitter and promised I'd post on my blog the joke that made me laugh the most.

Thanks to Shevi Arnold for the following giggle: "Would everyone who believes in telekinesis, please raise my hand."

And, equally humorous, thanks to my cousin, Maureen, for the following laughs:

My face in the mirror isn't wrinkled or drawn.
My house isn't dirty, the cobwebs are gone.
My garden looks lovely and so does my lawn.
I think I might never, put my glasses back on!

A librarian admitted to hospital for surgery got this card from her associates: "If they take anything out make sure they sign for it!"

Funny Definitions:
BEAUTY PARLOR: a place where women curl up and dye
CHICKENS: the only creatures you eat before they are born and after they die.
EGOTIST: Someone who is usually me-deep in conversation.
TOOTHACHE: the pain that drives you to extraction!

Thanks, guys, for making me laugh!

Eileen Schuh,
Canadian writer

Monday, September 28, 2009

My pain is infinitesimal

I have nothing wise to say today about hitting Day #28 smoke-free. The cravings are less frequent, but their intensity has not diminished. This past weekend I was at a workshop and instead of being in the company of friends who'd successfully quit, I was with those who enjoyed their cigarettes. I could have had a puff. I could have stood outside the doors with them instead of being stuck at a table with ladies I didn't know.

I want to join my buddies for just one cigarette. No one would find out. The woman across from me asks what I do for a living. I begin telling her about my website, my blog, and my dream of becoming a published novelist. She tells me about a poem her young niece wrote as a tribute to our soldiers in Afghanistan. An announcement that the next sessions start in 3 minutes cuts short a very interesting conversation.

I'm caught up in the presentation on covert surveillance techniques and don't entertain a single thought about smoking until the next break. I longingly watch my buddies slip outside. I follow them, watch them through the glass doors, turn away and finger a red MADD ribbon on a display table. A framed photo of a smiling toddler catches my eye. The baby looks so much like my grandson.

"My daughter's boy," the woman behind the table says. "He was killed by a drunk driver." My heart leaps, my eyes moisten.

"I've been volunteering for Mothers Against Drunk Driving (MADD) for the last 11 years--since it happened. I talk at schools. I talk to prisoners."

I stare at her, wondering from where she gets her courage.

"He lived with my daughter in our basement. I remember him calling up the stairs in the morning, 'Grandma, are you awake, yet?'"

A nicotine fix is the farthest thing from my mind.

"I remember tiptoeing in to see him as he slept. I remember thinking, 'I love you so much, I don't know what I'd do if something happened to you.'"

The workshop ends and I pull up to our cabin. My grandson greets me with a gurgle and a 5-toothed smile. I think of the stories that I would not have heard had I been on the other side of those glass doors.

I have nothing wise to say about being smoke-free. There's nothing I want to complain about. On a scale of 1 to 10, my pain is infinitesimal.

Eileen Schuh,
Canadian writer

Wednesday, September 23, 2009

Pangs, Pains, & Panic

Twenty-two smoke-free days and it strikes me that if smoking is like Twittering, quitting is like being in labour. The cravings--intense, painful, and raw--like contractions, come and go. Quitting smoking, like labouring, has positive results--that reportedly are well-worth the agony. However, that's about where the similarities end.

There's no one here to give me demerol, morphine, or a spinal to ease the pain when I'm in the throws of a craving. There's no one to assure me that the doctor won't let the cravings continue for more than 18 hours. There's no one rubbing my back, telling me that I'm half-way through my craving, and begging me to hang in there.

No one saying, "Breath deep. Keep breathing."

Two things kept me from panicking in the labour room. One was timing my contractions and knowing when I was half-way through them. The other was realizing that women for eons had being doing this and, therefore, I would too.

Knowing that the cravings will pass, provides a bit of comfort, but knowing others have successfully quit smoking doesn't help me much--because I also know that unlike labour, many have tried and failed. If three hours into labour a woman could change her mind and opt out of the pregnancy plan, we likely wouldn't have an over-population problem. However, in the quest to quit smoking, there is a choice. And everyone who tries to quit knows there is. That choice results in a hell of a lot more people failing in their attempt to quit than succeeding. I cannot comfort myself with the knowledge that all this pain is guaranteed to result in success.

I'm panicking. For over three weeks I've engaged in a distracting, agonizing, personal, and lonely battle with the nicotine demons. It's a battle I'm imagining will last forever. Again and again my soul will scream out for comfort. For years, I'll be restlessly wandering the house, empty and dark inside. Forever, I'll hear demonic voices whispering tales about the pleasures of 'Players.'

An endless battle I'm not assured of winning. The enticing option to retreat always there. No ointment to soothe my wounds. No deadline to win the war. Pangs, pain, and panic.


Eileen Schuh,
Canadian writer

Wednesday, September 16, 2009

Can Twitter help the Quitter?

Can Twitter help the Quitter? It's a question posed to me by Steve Ondersma, scientist at WSU Med School in Detroit, as I head into my third smoke-free week. "Wld lov yr thoughts!" he tweeted. It wasn't a question I'd considered before.

I hadn't joined Twitter to aid my quest to quit-smoking; I'd joined to promote myself as a Canadian author, 'get my name out there in cyberspace', curry friendships and potential readership, reach my goal of becoming a published novelist. By tweeting about my real-life quit-smoking efforts, I hoped to entice people to read my 'important' website stuff. Until Steve tweeted me, I hadn't thought that perhaps Twitter was also helping me reach my smoking-cessation goal.

"What has the world come to?" I lamented to my publicist. "Are people really relying on faceless friends and electronic messages of 140 characters or less for moral support? What happened to family and friends? Phone calls and hugs?"

One of the hardest parts of my stop-smoking strategy was announcing my intentions to family and friends--a necessary step in order to increase one's chance of success, according to smoking-cessation specialists. It was difficult to do, not only because I was scared that I was setting myself up for a very public failure, but because people's reactions are not always helpful. Comments like "It's about time!" or "Now you won't stink!" are a little tough on a fragile ego, especially when delivered by people you love.

On the other hand, announcing my decision to the entire world via Twitter was surprisingly easy, perhaps because I was masked in anonymity. Perhaps because with Twitter, escaping judgement was simply a keystroke away. Unlike my announcement to family and friends, my Twitter announcement had to be succint--less than 140 characters. There was no room for parlaying reasons, excuses, history, and blame. All I had to say was, "Hey, World. I'm gonna quit smoking."

Come to think of it, I have found Tweeting to be a lot like cigarette smoking. It takes less than five minutes. It provides short, intermittant breaks from the daily grind. It's readily available at all hours of the day and night. It provides a small burst of pleasure. It's addictive--the more you do the more you want to do.

Tweeting has soothed me when I was uneasy, energized me when I was tired, lifted my depression, and offer a me a social connection that rivals that of the smokers' circle. It's something I look forward to doing--something that gets me out of bed in the mornings.

Twitter's simularities to smoking, especially when coupled with its differences (such as much lower cost and no proven ill side-effects), may indeed prove Twittering to be a valuable alternative to smoking--just not when one is driving. Please.

Eileen Schuh,
Canadian writer

Saturday, September 12, 2009

Quest to Quit Smoking

My pre-planned quit date was September 1st.

I was on a road trip to Alaska with two friends and my husband as the days ground toward that dreaded last cigarette. Champix, the smoking cessation drug, built up in my system as the miles slipped behind us. I struggled to cut back on the amount I smoked and ended up smoking more as I desperately sought comfort from cigarettes which were no longer offering that pleasure. I crocheted, I laughed, I drank wine, watched grizzlies, and took photos of glaciers.

On the fifth day of taking Champix, 22 August 2009, I wrote in my diary. "Concentrated on pleasures from other sources: the kiss of my puppy, beautiful scenery, laughter of friends, beautiful flower baskets, the crunch of a Smarties' candy shell and the smooth chocolate beneath. The bite of dark roasted Arabic coffee. I feel better to have taken some conscious and deliberate steps to wean myself, rather than passively waiting for the pills to 'cure' me. Gives me a sense of control participation and counters the panic I feel when I contemplate life without cigarettes. If I quit Champix, cigarettes would again give me pleasure. However, the nicotine demons would demand my health and dollars in exchange for their service. I don't want that.

I realize the instant, on-demand spurts of nicotine pleasure have dulled many legitimate opportunities to experience positive emotions. Not only through the addiction aspect, ("Here, take the grandson. I need a smoke!") but also by dulling the senses of smell and taste. These two senses are closely linked to memory. I think of being a child and inhaling the smell of rain, dew on roses, frogs. Sharp cheese, fresh mown hay...spontaneous pleasures. Gifts: no sacrifices needed."

Day 11, 28 August 2009: "Have done well cutting back. Had 5 cigarettes all day. Cravings, if resisted, vanish in 5-10 seconds. Cravings only happen every 3-4 hours."

Day 14, 31 August 2009: "Felt depressed, as if saying farewell to a friend who for years has been there to comfort me. Have difficulty concentrating on good things about not smoking. Had about 4 cigarettes today. In the evening, I throw my last one into the campfire embers. I contemplate how one simple decision (to quit Champix) could bring back my friend. I do not feel at all like celebrating. I mention it to no one."

September 1st: Quit Day: "Over-riding feeling of depression throughout the day. Past traumas and tragedies mull around in my brain. Can I live with bad memories and current stresses without nicotine?"

September 2nd: "Awake to rain and puppy piddle on the mattress at my feet. No showers in this campground. Remnants of weird, busy dreams. It's so cold. Cravings are frequent and intense--but short-lived. I'm prickly with my friends. Moody. Quiet. Depressed."

September 3rd: "Wake in a more cheery mood. Today I feel better, stronger, more committed. This morning my mouth felt cleaner--the first advantage of non-smoking I've experienced. I wish I wasn't travelling so that I could engage in more exercise and have easier access to healthy snacks. Bought a 4-pound sack of Rockets candies. I don't fit any of the jeans I've packed."

September 4th: "Dark, bottomless emptiness into which 100 sour candies, a steak supper and two pieces of apple pie fall. Coffee and Irish Cream. I'm never sated, never full. I could eat forever. Sugar, caffeine, alcohol. Deep breaths of mountain air, long hikes. Four pounds of Rockets. Half a jug of white wine. 14 hours of sleep. Nothing is ever enough. Nothing fills the emptiness."

September 5th: "Coffee and cream liqueur. Two-hour hike through mountain muskeg. Fall colours, red berries, green moss, blue lakes, quiet. Friends. Hot sun. Slow nagging headache. An afternoon nap turns bad. I can't wake up for supper. Tired. So tired. Tummy stirs. Eyes close. Day 5. Yes. I can do it."

September 6th: "If I knew cigarettes would give me pleasure, I'd fall for the temptation. It's the bane of the addict--the drug always calls..."

Today, 12 September 2009, is my 12th smoke-free day. It has not been easy. It is not getting any easier. I feel like a baby that's lost its soother, a toddler bereft of her teddy bear, a child letting go her mother's hand to step into the classroom on her very first day of school.

Friends, I've been there, done all that, grew through it all and survived. We all know that this time will be no different.

Check out some tobacco trivia at

Eileen Schuh,
Canadian writer

Tuesday, September 8, 2009

Another giggle...

I'll give you another giggle to help me deal with the pangs of withdrawal.

A string slithered down the street, under the door of a tavern, and onto a bar stool. The bartender leaned over and stared at the string.

"You're a string!" he finally growled. "We don't serve your kind."

Disappointed, and very thirsty, the string slithered out of the tavern and continued down the street to the next bar. He crept in and wiggled up onto a chair at a table. The bouncer came over, crossed his mighty tattooed arms, and scowled down. "String," he said. "We don't serve your kind."

The string sadly crawled back out to the street. There was one more bar at the far end of the block and he slowly made his way toward it. As he passed a shop window, he caught sight of his reflection. He was embarrassed to see his tail end was unravelling. "I'm so dishevelled, it's no wonder they won't serve me," he muttered as he tied a knot in his end, hoping to stop the threads from loosening further.

He crept into the last bar on the street and snuggled up into a booth. A waitress came over, put her hands on her hips, chomped on her gum, and stared at him. "Didn't you read the sign?" she asked haughtily. "We don't serve strings and you are a string, aren't you?"

"No," the string meekly replied. "I'm a frayed knot."

Eileen Schuh,
Canadian writer

Thursday, August 20, 2009

Day #3: Guilty Pleasure

Even though my quit date isn't until 1 September, I feel guilty about continuing to smoke. It seems odd that as I tell people I'm quitting, I'm lighting up.

I'm in a better mood today. Champix lost its edge and the damned cigarettes were half-assed pleasurable again. I guess that's why the dosage doubles on day #4 and again on day #8.

According the product insert from Pfizer, the manufacturer of Champix, " is not known exactly how the drug works in people." [Leaving me to wonder if it is known how it works in rats--just kidding. Their wording sounded strange to me, though.]

"Champix," the brochure says, "does not contain nicotine, but it has been shown to affect the nicotine receptor that is thought to be most related to smoking acts like a weaker version of nicotine, and also blocks nicotine from getting to the receptor because it binds more tightly..."

I feel like I should be doing more than popping a pill. When I light up, I wish I'd resisted at least a little bit. I wish I'd kept up with my "Track a Pack" log--perhaps I am smoking less and don't know it. I've noticed my cigarettes often end up dead and only half-smoked in the ashtray. Yesterday, several times I paused in my websurfing, Twitter-learning, tweet-sending, and discovered my cigarette had gone out in my hand.

That NEVER used to happen! My cigarettes got smoked right down to the filter--every time without fail! After all, they cost way too much to waste!

Could it be this easy? Will I go to bed on September 1st and realize I didn't have a cigarette all day? Will there be no struggle? No pain? Will cigarettes just become unimportant to me?

It doesn't seem right that I don't have to pay with the agony of withdrawal for my sin of having smoked for thirty-odd years. Or, that I don't have to recommit to not smoking a hundred times each day, every time the Nicotine Demons whisper.

I'm taking a bit of a break from cyberspace to concentrate on a project. I thank you all for your support and when I come back, I'll update you on the joys of being a non-smoker.

Think of me on September 1st. I'll be thinking of you, and those thoughts will keep me strong!


The hero in my Back Tracker series struggles to quit smoking--a habit he picked up when working uncover with The Traz biker gang.

Eileen Schuh,
Canadian writer

Wednesday, August 19, 2009

Day #2: Seeking Pleasure

Because one is supposed to go at least 10 days on Champix pills before quitting, I didn't think I'd notice anything the first day. Wrong! Two hours after taking the tablet, I felt light-headed. But much weirder than that, something was dreadfully wrong with my cigarettes. It was as though I was smoking those ultra-light-one-hundred-pinholes-in-the-filter cigarettes. It was like being a kid and sucking on a hollow reed. It was like an emptiness inside me.

For those who have never smoked, let me tell you what you've been missing, and what I'm now missing. Pleasure. Instant pleasure. Now, I would never have thought of the word 'pleasure' to describe why I smoked, but it's a word used in one of my quit-smoking brochures.

Anothe brochure explains it this way: "Within minutes of inhaling, nicotine goes to your brain and gives you a temporary 'high'. Over time, your brain starts to adjust and you may need more smoke to get the same effect. Eventually, your brain adjusts again and the nicotine no longer produces a high. It produces a feeling you think of as normal."

A 'high', 'pleasure', 'normal'... I liken it to the minor contentment one feels after satisfying his/her thirst with a glass of cold water.

Now imagine being very thirsty and drinking a glass of water and still feeling thirsty. And drinking another, and still feeling thirsty. Imagine the rising panic as each succeeding glass produces the same non-effect.

Yesterday and today, cigarette after cigarette, and no burst of subtle pleasure. I had planned activities like crocheting and gum chewing to stave off the desire to do something with my hands and to distract me from my cravings. They weren't designed to give me an instant five-minute normal 'high'. I can't think of anything besides a cigarette that will give me that. So, I light one more.

It does nothing for me. I am cranky. I am empty. I am seeking pleasure.

Eileen Schuh,
Canadian writer

Tuesday, August 18, 2009

The Demons will Die

It's day one. The first Champix pill has been swallowed. The 'Taking my Life Back from Tobacco' quit date has been set-- 1 September, 2009.

I have filled in the first line on my 'Track a Pack' chart--"Cigarette #1 Time? 1:45 pm. Reason? hungry and waiting for lunch to heat." I'm also nervous about announcing the quit date.

I delay posting to my blog. Eat lunch. Surf the web. "Cigarette #2 Time? 2:23 Reason? always have a puff after eating."

My daughter was disappointed I didn't start my prescription yesterday. However, I've learned there is a process that, if followed, substantially increases the chance of successfully kicking the nicotine habit. That process starts with identifying and confronting one's fears about quitting.

I had to feel I was prepared to handle withdrawal symptoms. I had to mentally reinforce my personal reasons for quitting. I had to plan activities to substitute for the pleasure of smoking. I had to understand why I smoked. I had to decide how I'd handle weight gain.

I'd have a much harder time quitting if I were to wait until I was writhing from the agony of withdrawal symptoms before dealing with these issues.

Prior to swallowing that first pill, before I set a quit date and made the announcement, I had to be committed to quitting--body, heart, mind, and soul. I had to be strong and optimistic.

Yesterday, I wasn't. Today--I am.

"Cigarette #3 Time? 3: 20 pm Reason? To celebrate the announcement of my quit date."

click 'comments' below my signature ine to leave your message of encouragement

Eileen Schuh,
Canadian writer

Monday, August 17, 2009

On Addiction...

A week ago I decided to quit smoking. Last Thursday, I filled my Champix prescription and on Friday, rifled through the bag of stop-smoking goodies that the doctor gave me. A toothbrush, a pack of gum, a toy...954 brochures. Yesterday, I opened the pharmacy bag and looked at the Champix pills.

This morning, I ripped the cellophane off a new pack of smokes, took a drag, and settled back to read the literature.

"Studies show," one pamphlet says, "that nicotine is as addictive as heroin or cocaine." I wonder if that tidbit of trivia is supposed to make me feel better or worse about my decision.

I'm relieved to discover that I'm not supposed to quit until 10 to 14 days into the pills. When I take the first dose, I'm to set my quit date and announce it to the world. In the meantime, I'm to do thinking exercises, write down why I smoke, why I want to quit, what the advantages are to each. How, through alternate means, I can achieve the advantages of smoking. (Advantages like relieving tension, waking up in the morning, feeling pleasure.)

I butt out, fill my coffee mug, and light another cigarette.

I come up with the idea of blogging a diary about my quitting efforts, like: 'Day #1: finally opened the Champix and swallowed the pill.' The catch is, I'm soon going on a three week vacation, far from any Internet connection. 'Perhaps,' I think to myself, 'I can delay quitting until I get back.'

I'm enough of a veteran quitter to know, however, that it isn't my muses whispering inspiration to me, it's the sinister chuckle of the nicotine demons...

Young people,if you are thinking of smoking or have started smoking, let me tell you about the Nicotine Demons. It's they who plant the idea in your brain that you're not addicted--you can quit anytime you want to. And when you decide to quit to prove your theory and find yourself lighting up yet one more, it's they who convince you that you didn't really want to quit and therefore, your theory about not being addicted is correct. You can quit anytime--provided you want to.

Yes, the Nicotine Demons. They cleverly disguise their voices as your own thoughts.

I re-read the brochure.... "Studies show that nicotine is as addictive as heroin or cocaine." How can that be? From what I know about those illicit drugs, they deliver a much more intense rush of pleasure than a simple cigarette. I can't see myself raising funds for cigarettes by becoming a prostitute or robbing little old ladies. I certainly wouldn't abandoned my children for the pleasure of a puff. On the other hand, cigarettes are legal and available. What if they weren't?

No, cigarettes don't give you a flush of pleasure. Don't deliver a 'high' to fly you over top of your troubles. Nicotine Demons work their magic in a much craftier manner than that.

In nature, two organisms that bind together for the mutual benefit of both (like lichen which is a fungi and algae), are considered to have a 'symbiotic' relationship. If one organism eventually kills the other, it's called a 'parasitic' relationship. Nicotine bears the face of a willing symbiotic partner--but it is actually a parasite.

The Nicotine Demons invite you to believe that you are in control, that nicotine is your willing slave. If you want to relax, a puff will help you relax. If you want to wake up, it will give you energy. If you want some alone time, it will join you as a silent partner. If you want to socialize, it will boost your partying skills. It will tell you, if you're old, that you look much younger with a cigarette in hand. If you're an adolescent, it will tell you a billow of blue smoke about your head makes you look strong and independent.

Nicotine has even been proven to ease depression. It's an all-purpose drug--except it will kill you in the end.

I finger the card of Champix pills. What if I slither into the blackness of depression? What if I gain weight? What if I don't succeed? What if....

I drop the pills back into the bag. I can't tell which thoughts are mine and which are the disguised voices of the demons.

Eileen Schuh,
Canadian writer

for more smoking trivia, visit my website

Wednesday, August 12, 2009

On a Cyberspace presence

About a month ago (July 9th to be exact) I posted my very first blog on 'Magic of the Muses'. I promised brilliance, smiles, warm hearts, and friendship. I'm hoping I've given you at least some of that. My other promise was that the blog would be the story of a writer's obsessive pursuit of her life-long dream of becoming a published novelist. So, how am I doing and where am I at?

The first chapter in that story (underwritten by my able publicist, Cheryl Kaye Tardiff) is about increasing my cyberspace presence. With the creation of 'Magic of the Muses', completion of my fantastic website, and acquisition of numerous Facebook friends, that first step is nearing completion.

Has it helped my career? If measured by publishing contracts or calls from agents, the honest answer would be 'no.' However, it's been my experience that few efforts in life produce immediate rewards. Something worth having, is worth working for.

In the writing and publishing industry, there are opposing views on the usefulness of cyberspace as a marketing tool. It's been said that publishers and editors are not carousing the web looking for talent. That is probably true. It is also true, however, that as in any profession, networking is a prelude to success.

The old adage, 'It's not what you know, but who you know,' still holds true in today's high-tech world. Any kind of networking not only establishes contacts, but is also a rich source of information, opinion, and feedback.

As well, by promoting myself in cyberspace, I'm cultivating a potential readership base to which I can market my books when that time arrives--a fact that will undoubtedly appeal to agents and publishers. I'm advertising, displaying my talent, arousing curiosity, getting my name out there. I am no longer a closet writer with lonely dreams. I am now a personable someone with a smile who has cool stories to tell (and sell)to the world. I'm arousing curiosity, displaying my talent, inviting the world to share my dream.

While a cyberspace presence may never totally replace personal networking, it's a valuable resource for connecting with many more people than even the most seasoned traveller could hope to meet.

I have found my cyberspace friends to be a great source of friendship, information, and inspiration. And, sometimes, they are also very well connected.

Eileen Schuh,
Canadian writer

Friday, August 7, 2009

Some tips for my fans

Thank you all for your tremendous interest in my website, my blog, and my career! I enjoy your feedback immensely!

For those unfamiliar with finding their way around web pages and blogs, I'll highlight some of the user-friendly features of my cyberspace sites.

If you run your cursor over text highlighted in green and click, you will be taken to the page, site, article, or link that you clicked on. The 'back' arrow on your browser will return you to the page you left.

Under some of my postings, like my blog posts and my "Did you know..." posts, you will see "comment" in small,green letters. If you click on the word 'comment' you can read comments left by others. If you scroll to the bottom of the comments, you will find a place where you can enter your own comment.

To sign my guestbook on my website, click on 'Guestbook'. If you scroll to the bottom of the postings by other guests, you will find a place to enter your own comments. When it asks you to fill in 'author's name' that is your name and it will appear with your message. Once your message is posted, you can't delete it or change it. However, I can. If you click on "contact Eileen" you can send me an email, say hello to me, and ask me to edit your post.

I invite you to return often to my sites, as I frequently add new material and my visitors are always leaving new comments and messages.

Thank you all for your support!

Eileen Schuh,
Canadian writer

Thursday, August 6, 2009


Several people I had the pleasure of meeting when I was in Newfoundland for my daughter's wedding have recently become my friends on Facebook. Their faces and names stirred warm memories of my visit to 'The Rock'. I clearly remember their welcoming buffet of traditional dishes (like bakeapple pie)and the performance by the 'mummers'.

In one of my Back Tracker novels, a unique Newfoundland phrase provides my heroine with a vital clue.

For a bit more Newfoundland trivia, check out Did you know. . . on my website.

Eileen Schuh,
Canadian writer

Wednesday, August 5, 2009

Empty Eyes

I had several requests for a followup to my article, "I met a man with empty eyes." I have now posted one on my website.

Take a peek.
Empty eyes, Empty heart

Eileen Schuh,
Canadian writer

Tuesday, August 4, 2009

On Magic...

For those of you patiently waiting for my promised followup to my blog on it is, and it's all about magic. Forget David Copperfield, Kreskin, Houdini--mere illusionists. Once you know how their tricks are done, the magic vanishes. Harry Potter--fictional.

I'm talking about REAL magic. The kind of magic that, the more you know about it, the deeper is your wonder.

Consider the carrot seed.* Have you ever seen one? Dried up, tiny--almost microscopic. Lifeless, it would seem. Yet that seed takes the sunshine, earth, and rain and turns itself into a delicious, colourful, healthy, crunchy carrot. In that dried up speck is not only all the information needed to grow a carrot, but all the labour needed to make it happen.

A carrot--enabling you to imbibe the sunshine, taste the rain, and become a part of the vibrant world in which you live. Can it get much more magical than that?

Consider the elusive origins of your thoughts and inspiration. Magic.

Contemplate your night dreams. How is it possible to be surprised by your own dreams? How it is that you don't know what will happen next, what's behind the closed door, what words will next be spoken? How is it that you don't know how your own dream will end?

From where do the characters in your dreams come? Complete with bodies and faces and voices and personalities. Strangers--doing things you've never seen done, asking questions you've never asked, giving answers you did not know. Magic.

Wonder about rainbows, and sunlight, radio waves, and love. Cherish your own origin.

Believe in magic...

Eileen Schuh,
Canadian writer

*When the heroine in my Back Tracker series, a young genius and an atheist, is dealt a tragic blow, she finds solace in her memory of Grandma Buckhold's lesson on the magical carrot seed. More info on this series is posted on my website. The Back Tracker Series

Wednesday, July 22, 2009

Guest Blog by author Cheryl Kaye Tardif

Thank you to Cheryl for not only offering us the following glimpse of her flirty, romantic, magical side, but also for sharing some of the darker moments in her life--tragedies that have made her the angel that she is. 
THE TRAZ on sale for 99₵

The birth of Cherish D'Angelo, pseudonym of author Cheryl Kaye Tardif

Throughout literary history, pseudonyms or pen names have been used by authors for various reasons. For authors like Nora Roberts, having a pseudonym allows them to explore new territory, maybe a new genre or a series. My idol Stephen King wrote books under the pen name of Richard Bachman because he didn’t want the market saturated with “Stephen King” books. It was also part experiment; he wanted to test whether luck or talent played a part in publishing.

For me, the choice of writing as “Cherish D’Angelo” made sense since one novel I’m writing doesn’t fall into my usual suspense genre. Lancelot’s Lady is a romantic suspense, heavy on the romance. “Cherish D'Angelo” is the pen name I’ve planned on using should I ever branch out into romance. This is a genre I've been drawn to since I was a teen and it was only inevitable that’s I’d write a romance novel.

As “Cheryl Kaye Tardif”, I write suspense set in various locations of Canada, something my fans love. As “Cherish D’Angelo”, I’m free to set my steamy romance novels anywhere and I can boldly go where I haven’t gone before—into my characters’ bedrooms, with the lights on. There’s something titillating about having a “secret identity”, even if it’s not so secret. But I don’t take naming myself lightly.

Most people assume that “Cheryl Kaye Tardif” is my legal name, with Kaye being my middle name. It isn’t. Kaye is my maiden name and the name that I saw first published in print when I was a teenage journalist with a paid reporting job. After I married, I struggled with my writing identity. Cheryl Kaye had always been the writer. I didn’t want to lose her. In a glimpse of absolute brilliance (lol), I combined my last names. My husband’s family always tells me I’m the famous “Tardif” now, and that I made their name famous. I don’t quite think I’m there…yet!

The name "Cherish D'Angelo" comes from two sources. "Cherish", the meaning of which is the same as my own first name "Cheryl", meaning 'beloved' or 'dear one', and "D'Angelo", meaning 'of the angel'. After the death of my first baby, I started collecting angels. In 2006, my baby brother Jason (28) was murdered in Edmonton and sent to the angels. Thus, "D'Angelo" seems to be a perfect choice for a surname that honors them both.

Combined, my pseudonym means: "Cherished one of the angel" but I like to say it means: "Cherish the angels". There is something flirty, romantic, magical―and so 'me'―about this name.

©2009 Cheryl Kaye Tardif

~Cheryl Kaye Tardif,
aka Cherish D’Angelo
Eileen Schuh, Author

Schrödinger's Cat

Monday, July 20, 2009

Sepll Cehck!

Wonedring why yuo're fnindig it so esay to raed tihs wehn the sepllnig is so atorcuios? For more information visit my website feature: Did you know...?

Eileen Schuh,
Canadian writer

Sunday, July 19, 2009

Read a Preview of my novel

Check out the wonderful press release that went out last Friday on my adult crime novel, "Noraebang".

"New York, NY, July 21, 2009 / / - Canadian writer Eileen Schuh had no idea that a vacation to Korea in 2006 would lead to the creation of Noraebang, a novel that explores Canadian biker gangs, Stockholm Syndrome and illicit drug smuggling to Korea. And now she’s on the hunt for a literary agent and a publisher. . ."

Visit my website for the full story. Press Release: "Noraebang"

Eileen Schuh,
Canadian writer

Friday, July 17, 2009

I'll give you a giggle

A mad scientist made a clone of himself, but something went terribly wrong in the process. All the clone would do is stand in the upstairs window and shout vulgarities at people passing by. Nothing the scientist did had any effect on the clone’s persistent rude behaviour.

It caused the scientist great embarrassment because the clone looked just like him, and people mistakenly thought it was the scientist giving them the rude gestures. One day, frustrated beyond measure, the scientist pushed the clone out the window.

Seconds later the police arrived and arrested the scientist.

Charged him with making an obscene clone fall. . . .

(Is that a collective groan I hear resonating through cyberspace?)

Eileen Schuh,
Canadian writer

Thursday, July 16, 2009

Criminal Minds

I'm very flattered that Cheryl Tardif has chosen to feature my article, 'I met a man with empty eyes..." on her blog spot.

Check out my guest blog at: Criminal Minds at Work blog

Eileen Schuh,
Canadian writer

Weak heroines--an endangered species

Little Red Riding Hood was seduced by a wolf and saved by a burly woodcutter. She wouldn't make it into print these days. I'm not sure why. Is it because we think weak females don't really exist? Is it because we believe nothing of importance ever happens to them? Is it because we don't want to hear their stories? Do we think we're canonizing them by giving them words for their pain?

Perhaps we are afraid that if we give them ink, an entire generation of females will be seduced into becoming like them.

Our impatience with weak fictional females is undoubtedly a reflection of our view of the real-life kind. It's too bad. We oughtn't trod on the down-trodden.

Women trapped in abusive relationships can attest to the stigma they bear. They aren't eager to share their stories. We're not eager to hear them. So, the story remains untold.

In my adult crime novel, 'Noraebang', I explore a strong woman's descent into subservience. It sometimes takes a lot more strength and courage than we realize for a woman to put her soul on hold in order to survive. And, perhaps even more courage, to gain it back. "Noraebang"--the story of a weak heroine's courage. A story that ought to be heard.

Eileen Schuh,
Canadian writer

I met a man with empty eyes. . .

It wasn’t that his eyes were dull. Oh, no! They sparkled. That shine, however, was not emanating from his soul, but was merely reflecting the world he was seeing.

I was a young girl, eighteen, straight off the farm. He was tall. Good looking with his dark wavy hair and tanned smooth face. Broad shoulders strained at his T-shirt. His IQ was slightly above 140. He was a genius. He was a psychopath. A sociopath.

He was a dangerous man.

I knew all this because I’d read his case file. I was meeting with him so I could get the little box beside “forensic patient” on “First Year Psychiatric Nursing Required Learning Experiences” record checked off. It was only my second month of hands-on training, so there were pages of little boxes left to go. Other than the ones beside ‘attending an autopsy’ and ‘making a bed’, ‘forensic patient’ is the only one I remember.

The ‘forensic patient’ was obviously enthralled by my presence. Life on the locked ward of a Psychiatric Hospital offers few thrills to those incarcerated there. I could tell by the way his empty eyes rested on the space between my white nyloned knees and the hem of my uniform, that I’d made his day. He didn’t rest his eyes there long, however. Just a quick glance, and then he was cocking his head, raising an eyebrow, and staring deeply into my eyes. A gentle smile lifted his lips and a dimple appeared on his chin.

I knew instantly, that like Dr. Hannibal Lecter when he met Jodi Foster in the movie “Silence of the Lambs”, this man was reading my soul. . . .

To read the rest of this article, go to:
I met a man with empty eyes at

Eileen Schuh,
Canadian writer

Wednesday, July 15, 2009

On Magic and Muses. . .

Muses are spirits or goddesses worshipped by the ancient Greeks as the source of creative inspiration. From the muses comes 'mus-ic', 'a-muse-ment', 'mus-ing', 'be-mused', etc.

As cultures through the ages learned to identify the muses' presence, their names, powers, personalities, and numbers evolved. I thus feel entitled to ascribe my own characteristics to the muses which haunt me.

My main muse sits on my shoulder, just under my right ear, and whispers. If I ignore its whispering for too long, it gets agitated and begins to shout. My muse sometimes bears the wings of an angel but more often, it sports the forked tail of a demon.

My main muse has been known to dictate entire novels, and to stubbornly argue with me about characters and plots (and inevitably prevail). My muse often awakens me at odd hours of the night and never apologizes for keeping me up until dawn brightens the horizon. My muse hates my husband, despises my children, and is generally outright antagonistic toward anything or anybody that keeps me from my keyboard.

My muse is totally uninterested in the mundane matters of love, money, and publishing contracts. It abruptly vacates my shoulder the moment I peck my husband's cheek, ponder cents-paid-per-word. . .or begin a query letter.

I believe muses are a wonderful personification of the mysterious nature of creativity. Although my belief in their actual existence waivers, my belief in the reality of magic is much firmer. But that's an entirely new blog....

Eileen Schuh,
Canadian writer
(I invite you to visit again to read my future posting on the mysteries of magic.)

Thursday, July 9, 2009

Welcome to my world

My new webpage is in the final stages of creation. It took about six days. Historically, that seems to be a standard in the 'creation' industry. Perhaps on the seventh day I, too, can rest!

I intend to use this blog to create smiles with my humour, brilliance with my insights, warm hearts with my philosophies, and friendships with my words.

I intend to share with you not only my soul, but the spirit, wisdom, and words of others whose lives have enriched mine.

A novelist's career is not a process distinctly separate from her life, her characters are never strangers to her heart, and her stories always rise from the depth of her experiences.

Therefore, above all else, these posting will be the story of a writer's obsessive pursuit of her life-long dream of becoming a published novelist.

Tuesday, July 7, 2009


Welcome to my brand new blog. Please be patient while I learn my way around.

I'm also setting up my new website at:

It'll take a few days for everything to be up and running. I appreciate your patience.