Wednesday, 25 November 2015

Comedy and the Older Woman - How far can you go?

by Bad Girl (Melodie)

Today, I’m writing a serious blog.  (‘NO!  Don’t do it!  Don’t’ <sounds of heels screeching on floor as body is dragged offstage>)

I write comedy.  I wrote stand-up, and had a regular column gig for many years.  My books and most of my short stories are (hopefully) humorous.  My blog…well, that sometimes goes off the wall.

But I’m noticing that as I get older, the comedy seems to become more shocking.  Or rather, I am shocking people more.  They don’t know how to take it.  I see them gasp and act confused.  Did I really mean what I said just then?  Was it meant to be funny?

I don’t believe it’s because I’m writing a different level of material.  Nope. 

So why?  Why does my comedy seem to shock readers more than it did twenty years ago?

It’s not the readers.  It’s my age.

Writing comedy when you are thirty is ‘cute’.  I can’t tell you how many people told me that I ‘looked cute on stage’ as I innocently said some outrageous things that made people laugh. 

Saying outrageous things on stage when you are over 50 is not ‘cute’.  Women over 50 are never described as ‘cute’ (unless they are silly and feeble and very old.)  Women over 50 cannot carry off ‘innocent’ (unless portraying someone very dumb.)  Women over 50 are expected to be dignified.

Phyllis Diller was a wonderful comic.  She did outrageous things on stage, and we laughed with her.  But she dressed like a crazy-woman and had us laughing AT her as well as with her.  Some women I know dislike the fact that Diller made herself ridiculous in front of an audience.  I don’t, because I know why she did it.

Forgive me while I pull a Pagliacci.  Yes, I still write comedy.  But I don’t do ‘stand-up’ anymore.  I’ve found that women my age are not well received by crowds (especially liquored-up crowds). 

Women who are young and pretty can get away with murder.  Even better, they can get away with comedy.

BUT: A woman over 50 who makes fun of younger women is (often) seen as jealous.  A woman over 50 who makes fun of men is (often) viewed as bitter. A woman over 50 who makes fun of other women over 50 can get away with it, but the big audience isn’t there.

So my hat goes off to women like Rita Rudner, who do it still. I admire her so.  It’s a hard and unfair gender divide, believe me.

 Catch me at the Turner Park Branch of the Hamilton Public Library Thursday night at 7, on The Humour Panel!

Sunday, 22 November 2015

New Release from Alison Bruce! Deadly Season is a perfect Holiday read

And Now for Something a Little Different

 By Alison Bruce

Melodie asked me a very good question the other day. Why is Deadly Season lighter in tone than Deadly Legacy? Both are Carmedy and Garrett mysteries. Both are set in a somewhat dystopian near future…or, as it will soon be, a parallel present.

It’s all about timing.

My mother had died shortly before I wrote Deadly Legacy. In fact, my mother inspired the motive for murder. Things I learned about my mother after her death suggested that she suffered from depression. So did I, but I had to learn more about my own before recognizing the signs.

Here’s the thumbnail history I gave my postpartum depression group. My mother, sister, and father were all diagnosed with various forms of cancer in January. All they had to do was remove the tumour on his kidney for my dad. Joanne had a lumpectomy and radiation therapy for her breast cancer, but it metastasized and attacked her bones. My mother had small cell aggressive lung cancer and died within the year. I found out she was dying just before I found out I was pregnant. At the time I started the support group, I was taking care of a toddler, infant, my sister and father. Frankly, it’s a wonder I didn’t write something even darker…like The Mayor of Casterbridge or Les Miserables.

One of the reasons it wasn’t darker is that I have more of a sense of humour than Thomas Hardy and a more optimistic outlook than Victor Hugo. (Or maybe it’s the other way around.)

Dark isn’t my usual tone. I’m no Pollyanna, especially when it comes to social commentary, but I try to stay away from depressing fatalism.

One of the other reasons Deadly Season is lighter is that it’s written in first person. Kate Garrett, despite losing her father at the start of Deadly Legacy, has a sense of humour that leavens her dark times. As long as she is the voice of the series, there won’t be room for gloom and doom.

Last month Kate Garrett was a Police Detective. Now she’s a Pet P.I.?

Kate recently inherited half her father’s private investigation company and a partner who is as irritating as he is attractive. Kate has been avoiding Jake Carmedy for years, but now her life might depend on him.

Kate and Jake are on the hunt for a serial cat killer who has mysterious connections to her father’s last police case. Kate’s father had been forced to retire when he was shot investigating a domestic disturbance. Is the shooter back for revenge? And is Kate or Jake next?

Available at:


 “Deck the halls with boughs of holly…”

“I thought we agreed no holiday songs in the office.”

“We agreed no holiday music in the office,” I said, hanging fresh holly over the last window. “I didn’t think that included me singing.”

“Well it does,” said Carmedy, scowling.

I gave him my best look of wounded sorrow.

He sighed.

I added my brave waif smile for effect. I took as many drama electives as I could fit in when doing my undergraduate degree in psychology and criminology. It’s amazing how useful they proved to be in my professional life.

The cherry on top was a trembling lower lip a la Little Orphan Annie.

“Oh give it up,” he said, laughing. “I don’t believe that quiver for an instant.”

But I got you to laugh, I thought. These days, that’s victory enough.

By the terms of my father’s will, Carmedy and I became equal partners in his investigation agency. I took a leave of absence from the City Police Services to figure out what to do about that.

Carmedy thought I was crazy. Give up a secure job with benefits in this economy? But when had the economy not been an issue? I knew Dad didn’t expect me to inherit so soon. Well, I didn’t expect to lose my father so soon. Life happens.

He thought I was even crazier to take the cat-killer case. And he was pissed off I didn’t consult him. 

Fair enough, but how did he expect me to say no to the Chief?

But that was yesterday’s news. I was determined to reduce the tension between us. For ten years we had been avoiding each other because of a misunderstanding my darling father created. I had miles to go in the grieving department, but was tired of being sad all the time, and walking on eggshells around Carmedy was getting old.

Alison Bruce has had many careers and writing has always been one of them. Copywriter, editor and graphic designer since 1992, Alison has also been a comic store manager, small press publisher, webmaster and arithmetically challenged bookkeeper. She is the author of mystery, romantic suspense and historical western romance novels. Three of her novels have been finalists for genre awards.  

Monday, 16 November 2015

If the Shoe Fits (reprinted with permission from the places that pay me...)

by Bad Girl

Remember sneakers?  The fashion footwear of the seventies and eighties.  Good ole trusty sneakers that your mother hated.  The kind you wore until they were really scruffy and had holes in the canvas.  Just when they were getting really comfortable, the soles would fall off.

Sneakers, runners…you know what I mean. Recently, I went looking for a new pair.  Things have changed a lot in the footwear industry.

When I was in school, we wore runners and we actually ran in them.  What an antiquated notion.

Now, you couldn’t possibly do anything as strenuous as running (correction: “jogging”) without the specific shoes designed for that task alone.  They are also designed to empty the wallet.  This they do very well.

“Try these,” said the perky sales clerk in the local sports equipment store.  “They’re the latest.  See these little pockets all around?  You pump them up with air to fit your foot.”

I looked at the three figure price tag and jumped three feet in the air.  Clerkette had something for that.

“You need these.”  She pointed to a pink and white concoction that looked like something out of Flash Gordon.  “These are specifically designed for doing aerobics.”

I peered at the impossibly high cushioned heel and shook my head.  “I’m more liable to fall sideways off them and break an ankle.

She gave me a pained, ‘get with it – this is technology’ look.  “We have deck shoes, court shoes, jogging shoes, track shoes, shoes to walk in and shoes to dance in.”

I squinted at the trendy wall display, which spanned the length of the store.  This was a bit much.  I mean, Lord help you if you happen to be walking across an intersection and you need to run before the light turns red.  I’m sorry, but I really don’t have time to change my shoes.

“Listen,” I said.  “For thirty years I’ve walked, jogged, played tennis and changed diapers in sneakers.  Don’t tell me it’s not possible.”

Do I need a special pair of shoes to scrub the floor?  Is there a unique type of footwear designed for vacuuming?

I like to help the economy, but this is ridiculous.  I sure don’t have the bucks to invest in a separate pair of shoes for each sport.  So best to look at what I do most and buy shoes to accommodate that particular activity.

Actually, what I do most is chauffeur the kids around.  Next thing you know, they’ll come up with a shoe specifically designed for car-pooling.  Complete with little pop-up flags to remind you whether you’re coming or going.  Or worse, computerized footwear – like the voice reminders on fancy cars.   

Good grief, I can hear them now:
“You’ve been jogging again.  If I’ve told you once, I’ve told you a hundred times, these are Tennis shoes.  Take them off right now…”

Thursday, 12 November 2015


It's a sweet day, when an industry reviewer gives thumbs up to your latest novel!
Many thanks to Don Graves, Canadian Mystery Reviews, for this sneak peak (Review will be featured in the next Canadian Mystery Reviews newsletter)

BY: Melodie Campbell and Cynthia St-Pierre.
Imajin Books  

Small town, Toronto connections, gorgeous women, wall safes full of real jewelry worth killing for, and house gutted by fire and a body.  Two female, amateur detectives with two authors who know how to plot, feed clues, create atmosphere, offer spicy and spiky dialogue and you have A Killer Necklace, a first rate mystery tale with laughter that could kill you. A Killer Necklace is already on the Amazon Best Sellers list. Guess who wore the jewellery.

The quaint town is Black Currant. Gina, a trendy, outspoken, action destined, TV weather reporter arrives, ready to prepare for her wedding with the support of local Becki. They plan a visit to check out the shower location, a gingerbread, elegant old home in the core of Black Currant. Instead they find a body at the bottom of the cellar stairs. Now, there are men in the novel. Gina’s about to be new husband has a secret life in the Canadian secret services that he’d rather no one knew about. Becki’s husband is the local cop with brains.

It’s the edgy story telling that pulls you in. The pacing is sharp, quick and very funny, a good combination for a mystery that is hard to put down. But the special ingredient is an ending I sure didn’t see coming. It’s an interesting twist on when is justice done and anymore, and I’d be a plot spoiler. Gina and Becki and Campbell and St-Pierre make a pretty good team.

Don Graves, Canadian Mystery Reviews

Sunday, 8 November 2015

Like Romance? Like Christmas stories? Here's a wonderful book you will love -

Today, I'm delighted to have Alison Bruce as a guest blogger.  If you like Romance and Christmas stories, you will LOVE the two stories in Hazardous Unions.  I did.

 Maggie’s First Kiss

By Alison Bruce

When you’re writing a historical romance that is also a sweet romance, the first kiss is often the big romantic payoff.  After all, nice girls don’t go around kissing willy-nilly. Maggie Becker and Captain Seth Stone are in a particularly difficult situation since she works for a southern family and he is a Union officer.  Then there’s the problem that I can’t write romance without a touch of humour. (This may be why I’m still single.)

Maggie’s first kiss happens quite late in the story but, since it doesn’t give much away, I think it’s safe to share. There are even more romantic scenes… at least from my skewed point of view… earlier and later. You’ll have to read Hazardous Unions to see if you agree.

He shook his head impatiently. "You know I love you."

I tilted my chin up and to the side so I could make eye contact.

"No. You said you were smitten with me. You could get over being smitten. My brother has been smitten with and gotten over at least three girls since he was nine years old." I smiled up into those gorgeous green eyes. "If it will help, I'll tell you that I'm quite sure I love you."

It must have helped because the next thing I knew, his arms were around me and I was being lifted and pulled into a close embrace, hoop tilted out behind me like a bell being rung. I probably looked ridiculous. I didn't let that stop me from enjoying the heavenly sensation of being thoroughly kissed.

Twin sisters separated by war, bound by love…

After the death of their father, twin sisters Maggie and Matty Becker are forced to take positions with officers’ families at a nearby fort. When the southern states secede, the twins are separated, and they find themselves on opposite sides of America’s bloodiest war.

In the south, Maggie travels with the Hamiltons to Bellevue, a plantation in west Tennessee. When Major Hamilton is captured, it is up to Maggie to hold things together and deal with the Union cavalry troop that winters at Bellevue. Racism, politics and a matchmaking stepmother test Maggie’s resourcefulness as she fights for Bellevue, a wounded Confederate officer and the affections of the Union commander.

In the north, Matty discovers an incriminating letter in General Worthington’s office, and soon she is on the run. With no one to turn to for help, she drugs the wealthy Colonel Cole Black and marries him, in hopes of getting the letter to his father, the governor of Michigan. But Cole is not happy about being married, and Matty’s life becomes all about survival.

Two unforgettable stories of courage, strength and honor



Alison Bruce has had many careers and writing has always been one of them. Copywriter, editor and graphic designer since 1992, Alison has also been a comic store manager, small press publisher, webmaster and arithmetically challenged bookkeeper. She is the author of mystery, romantic suspense and historical western romance novels. Three of her novels have been finalists for genre awards.


Kat Flannery’s love of history shows in the novels she writes. She is an avid reader of historical, suspense, paranormal, and romance. When not researching for her next book, Kat can be found running her three sons to hockey and lacrosse. She’s been published in numerous periodicals. This is Kat’s third book and she is hard at work on her next.