Tuesday, 21 October 2014

Crowdfunding nEveremore! An anthology of mystery, murder and the macabre...

We're pleased to lend this page to good friend and colleague Caro Soles for a very interesting project!  Read below.
 
Caro Soles, co-editor with Nancy Kilpatrick 
We have a great concept, a publisher, big names writing for us, and three spots for anyone who wants to enter a story in our Contest, run from the Indiegogo Crowdfunding site. Why do we need funding? Because this venture follows the growing trend of making small projects from non-major presses into big books that are able to pay professional rates just like the big guys. And it is working! But we are running out of time, and if we do not meet our goal by this Thursday night, we lose everything. We need your support! Now! We believe that this campaign is for anyone who values the arts, particularly publishing, and wants to support an intriguing project. If you care about the value of the arts, if you care about literature, supporting us will provide you with the wonderful feeling of aiding this art form directly, helping literature stay alive and remain healthy, and paying writers what they deserve! Art is worth something. Artists should be paid. nEvermore! is an anthology for readers who enjoy the Gothic style in both mysteries and weird, dark fiction and who want to explore a blending of these two realms in the story-style of Edgar Allan Poe. Help bring a touch of gothic into our world! Click this link and make your contribution. And choose a Poe-themed perk! Some of them are fun. Some unique. All unusual. Just our way of thanking you for being a Patron of the Arts! http://igg.me/at/nevermoreanthology

Monday, 20 October 2014

My Dog thinks his name is Dammit


(as seen in The Sage)

by BAD GIRL  (Melodie Campbell)

So I wanted something tall dark and handsome, and what I got was something short, blond and furry.   

Actually, I was given the choice of having another kid or getting a dog – and all parents will understand this immediately – I chose the dog.  Delivery is faster, and you don’t have to start saving for university.

Sunny is a Frankenpoodle, ergo, the sort of dog that Dr. Frankenstein might have created.  He is maybe short for a horse, but not for a dog.  We call him a “giraffe in a dog suit.”

Unfortunately, he is eighteen months old and lacks judgement.  This means he retrieves absolutely everything.  Soggy, old cigarette packages, other animal doo-doo, and his current favorite, old mouse skulls.  If I’m really lucky, he deposits them right on my lap.

The other problem with water dogs is, of course, that they love water.  Happily, this makes them easy to bathe (just run the bath, and they’ll jump in.)  Sadly, they are not too discerning about what they use as a bathtub.

Here’s what happened just the other day:

Me:  Where’s the dog?

Him:  Huh?

Me:  You know…the mutt, the mangy curr, your canine son and heir.  It’s too quiet in here.  Where is he?

Him:  I don’t know.  I just got out of the bathroom.

Me (horror-stricken):  You didn’t leave the door open?  AND THE SEAT UP?

I’ll leave the rest to your imagination.

According to the book, these dogs are quite easy to train.  This may be true compared to training iguanas or dump trucks, but I think Sunny needs a lot of work.  Witness yesterday at the park:

Me:  COME Sunny!  COME boy!  Clever boy.  Come!  COME HERE DAMMIT!  Will someone get the damned dog off that Pekinese…wait a minute.  He’s coming!  He’s actually coming!  Good Boy!   Good dog!  Where’d he go?  COME BACK, DAMMIT.

Yes, my dog thinks his name is Dammit.

Dogs also know that everything in life serves one of two purposes.  It’s either for playing with or for eating.  Sunny follows this rule to the letter, testing all new objects for ‘playability.’  Squirrels respond to being barked at and chased, by frantically running away.  This puts them in the play category.  Socks, on the other hand, don’t run away, so they’re for eating.  Sunny’s first victim was a pink nylon doll sock which disappeared one evening about suppertime, and found its way to his other end shortly after noon the next day. 

The next victim, I regret to say, is all my fault.  I don’t know how he captured my pink bikini undies, but I do know I’m not letting him out of the house until they show up again.  No way is he going to barf up my panties in front of all the neighbours.  (“Oh look, dear!  She shops at Walmart.”) 

Ever wonder how those lone abandoned socks find their way to the side of the road?  I bet you thought they blew out of car windows.

Melodie Campbell writes funny books, like The Artful Goddaughter mob caper, available at Chapters and all online retailers.

Sunday, 28 September 2014

YOU KNOW YOU’RE AN AUTHOR WHEN…

(as seen on Sleuthsayers)

By Melodie Campbell

Recently, I read something  that got me thinking.  (Okay, have your little laugh.  I can wait.)

The quote was:

“A writer who isn’t writing is a monster.”

At first, I wasn’t sure if that meant a writer who wasn’t writing right now and every minute was a monster.  Or whether it meant a writer who was prevented from writing was a monster.

For the sake of all concerned (at least in this house,) I’m goin’ for the latter.

Which brings me to this little list.  If you are a writer, tick off the ones that apply to you and leave a comment before.  Or better still, add your own.  If you are not a writer, stand back.

You know you’re an author when:

1.    You’d rather spend time with your characters than your friends.

2.    You’ve been at the computer all day and Nachos seem like a major food group.

3.    Your spouse yells “Are you all right in there,” and you’re pretty sure you’ve heard that voice before.  Somewhere.

4.    Your idea of a vacation means hours and hours of time to write.  And nobody bugging you to “do something.”

5.    You reach for Glenlivit when the internet goes down.

6.    You could be arrested if the Feds look at your search history.

7.    You actually know the difference between less and fewer.  And consider it a hanging offence when people misuse them.

8.    You have been known to ignore phone calls from your mom, kids, husband, boss, and possibly God.

9.    Your idea of supreme hell is being trapped at a cocktail party for three hours with people who aren’t writers.

10.    You have seriously considered murdering people who say, “I have this great idea for a book, and if you’ll write it, I’ll share the profits with you.”   And the ones who say, “I think I’ll write a book someday when I get more time.”  And the ones who say, “Of course, it’s just a mystery/fantasy/romance genre book you’ve written.  When are you going to write something important?”

Excuse me now.  I have a lot of people to murder, and I’m behind.

Melodie Campbell murders people regularly in her zany mob crime series, The Goddaughter. 

Wednesday, 24 September 2014

CYANIDE is my favourite

I'm usually so respectable, right?  Nah, not even my kids believe that.  In the 1990s, when I was writing stand-up and other comedy, I was also a regular in the underground poetry world of Toronto and Hamilton.  Ironically, most of my publications were in England and the US. 

Here is a sample of published poetry.  Some is subversive.  Some is sweet. 

In another post, I'll talk about the deconstruction a U of Toronto class did of SAILAWAY.  I was...admittedly...astounded at how profound they thought I had been (when I actually hadn't.  Irony alert here.)

Schools are free to copy these, with appropriate credit given.

ENVY
by Melodie Campbell

(Published in Parnasus Literary Journal)

She has
Eight-hundred dollar business suits
A nifty Japanese sports car
Trips to Europe
And twenty-seven different outfits for just the
Right Occasion.

I have
A closet full of Fleece
A beat-up station wagon
Trips to the Pediatrician
And twenty-seven different cleaners for getting
grass stains out of corduroy.

She has
A charge account at Sak's
A heavy date for Saturday night
An off-white living room you could go blind in
And several friends of the 'Beautiful' variety
you can take anywhere and maintain your credibility.

I have
A charge account at Walmart
A laundry date for Saturday night
A kid-approved family room you could go deaf in
And several off-spring of the 'exhuberant' variety
you can't take anywhere and maintain your sanity.

She says she'd give anything for my life.
I say she's nuts.

~~~~~~~~~~~

SAILAWAY
by Melodie Campbell

(Published in The Lyric. Studied in the University of Toronto post-graduate English program.)

Come with me on a sail at sea
Across the tide and away
Where foreign shores and yachting chores
Shall mark the close of day.

Come with me on a sail at sea
To the dawn of time and back
Through calm of night and morning light
Our sails will take the slack

Come with me on a sail at sea
The Main is a briny bower
We'll climb to heights of seafull flight
And soar on waves for hours.

Come with me on a sail at sea
We'll ride out the roughest weather
Then you'll be mine till the end of time
And I'll be yours forever.

~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~

CYANIDE
by Melodie Campbell

(Winner of the Poetry division of the Murder, Mayhem and Macabre Literary Award)

You say my cooking's ghastly
I'm useless on my back
I never read a paper
And besides, I'm getting fat.

You call this match unequal
On that, I must agree
For now you're dead upon the floor
And I am finally free.

~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~

CAT AMONG THE PIGEONS
by Melodie Campbell

(Published in Candelabrum Poetry Magazine, under a different title)

Coliseum cat
Streak of silver in sun
Walks the ruins, with
Caesar's ghost.

~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~

FOREST GRAPEVINE
by Melodie Campbell

(Published in The Lyric)

Leaves, leaves!
Dance in the breeze
Whispering secrets to neighbouring trees
(Scandalous bits on the birds and the bees.)

~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~
 

Wednesday, 17 September 2014

TAGGED AND BAGGED! This Writer of Mob Comedies Dishes the Dirt...

(as seen on Sleuthsayers)
I should have known there would be a price. 
Back in 2012, when Steve Steinbock reviewed The Goddaughter in Ellery Queen’s Jury Box, I was ecstatic.  <So was my publisher.  Ellery Queen ROCKS!>
Steve called my book hilarious. I called Steve my hero. Little did I know, two years and three books later, that he would be tagging me on Sleuthsayers.
Oh Steve, thy devilish one.
Many of you remember Steve from the days of ‘Criminal Brief, the blog.’  <There are a hundred ways in which I want to play with the word ‘brief’ right now, but I will refrain.>  Steve and I met years ago at a Bloody Words Mystery conference in Toronto. As teens, we had a mutual pash <lovely Brit expression there> for Dark Shadows, the original series. I like and respect Steve.  I also fear him slightly <EQ and all> so hastily accept the tag.
What Am I Working On?
The Goddaughter Caper.  Or A Coffin for the Goddaughter.  Or A Body for the Goddaughter.  Or The Goddaughter’s Coffin Caper.
Somebody help here!  Book 4 of the Goddaughter series is nearing completion, and I need a title.  I started with the 3rd in the list above.  I’m leaning toward the first.  Of course, Orca Books may throw all those out and come up with their own, but I’d still like to hear from readers in the comments below.
Gina Gallo and her inept mob family are back in biz.  The second book in the series, The Goddaughter’s Revenge, won both the 2014 Derringer and Arthur Ellis awards for best crime novella. <author is over the moon>  The third in the series, The Artful Goddaughter, came out last week.
For those new to the series: Gina is a mob goddaughter in the industrial city of Hamilton (The Hammer.) Try as she might, she can’t seem to leave the family business.
How Does My Work Differ From Others In The Same Genre?
Library Journal said it well:  “Campbell’s comic caper is just right for Janet Evanovich fans.  Wacky family connections and snappy dialog make it impossible not to laugh.” 
When people ask what I write, I say ‘comedies.’  Then I give the genres (crime capers and time travel fantasy.)  My books are comedies first and foremost.  I look for plots that will lend themselves to laughs.    
. 
Why Do I Write What I Do?

A Greek Mask

Some people are born beautiful.  But most of us aren’t, and we look for ways to survive the slings and arrows of life.  Sometimes we choose to hide behind a mask.  That Greek Comedy mask was the one I picked way back.
Comedy is Tragedy Barely Averted
My younger brother is autistic.  Our home life was stressful and at times, sorrowful.  When I was a teen, as a means of self-preservation, I looked for the ‘funny.’  More often than not, I made fun of myself.  This was easy to do.  I knew the target well and there was a wealth of material.  And it didn’t hurt anyone else, so people liked it.
When I left school and had a ‘real’ job, I started writing stand-up on the side.  I rarely delivered it – usually I wrote for others. That led to a regular newspaper humour column, and more.
So when it came to writing novels, I fell back into ‘safe mode.’  Write it funny. 

How Does My Writing Process Work?

I teach Crafting a Novel at Sheridan College in Toronto, so I’m pretty immersed in craft.  Not surprisingly, I’m a plotter. I don’t start writing until I know the ending.  But I’m a forgiving plotter.  I don’t plan out every scene.

Sometimes a plot idea will trickle around in my mind for a year.  When the ending clicks in, I sit down to do a basic three-act plot diagram.  I teach this method, and I use my own books as examples.

So…once I have my inciting moment, first, second and third crisis, and finale firmly in my head, I sit down to write.  I start with the opening/inciting moment.  Then I usually skip to the ending, and write the climax and finale.  Then I go back to the beginning and write forward.

For me, it’s important to know that I like the characters and plot enough to stay with that story for the months to come.  That’s why I write the beginning before I spend much time doing outlines.  I need to know that I can live in that world, and enjoy it.

And that’s what I suggest students do.  If you are going to be a writer, you have to love the actual act of writing: by this I mean, hands on keyboard, butt in chair, all by yourself, pounding out stories that the characters in your head are demanding you tell.

Of course, coffee and a wee dram o’ whiskey help.

Melodie Campbell drinks coffee and single malt somewhere south of Toronto.  The Artful Goddaughter is now available in stores and online.