Thursday, 20 February 2020

Hey! A photo that doesn't make me want to kill myself...

I READ CANADIAN DAY!  Joan O'Callaghan and that sketchy broad from the Deadly Dames, at the Toronto Public Library in front of an audience of 60+. 
(Hey! a photo that looks like me, and doesn't make me want to kill myself.  Bonus.)

Wednesday, 19 February 2020

I READ CANADIAN! - Crime Writing Panel Tonight

Catch me at Armour Heights branch of the 
TORONTO PUBLIC LIBRARY, in celebration of 
I READ CANADIAN day! 
 I hear registration is full house, which just goes to show how many people are interested in Crime (okay, crime writing!) 

Worst Date Ever, featured in this poster for I READ CANADIAN!



Friday, 14 February 2020

My New Home! Classy people at Transatlantic - Happy to be represented out of New York again!


You can catch the rest here:
https://www.transatlanticagency.com/2020/02/13/welcoming-melodie-campbell-to-transatlantic/?fbclid=IwAR3gU-KfuKXD1NWQHbu7nRyeGefaXz6v5Bj3vQ6WZEVzmplo1iUkBqdCKls

Tuesday, 11 February 2020

How I became an overnight success in 26 years (That was one long night..)



By Melodie Campbell  (Bad Girl)
(Reprinted with Permission)

Three years ago, I wrote a crazy little book that won two crime writing awards.  (Okay, not three years ago.  It won the Derringer and Arthur Ellis three years ago, which means I wrote it two years before that.  Trad publishing takes time…but I digress.)

That year, I also won a national short story contest, with prize money of $3000.  The year after, I was shortlisted along with Margaret Atwood, for another fiction award.  (That was the year pigs learned to fly in Canada.)

The Toronto Sun called to interview me.  They titled the article, “Queen of Comedy.”

“You’re famous!” said an interviewer.  “How does it feel to become an overnight success?”

“That was one long night,” I said.  “It lasted 26 years.”

This blog post was inspired by Anne R. Allen

Not long ago, Anne had a post on her Top 100 blog:  10 Reason Why You Shouldn’t Publish that 1st Novel

(It’s terrific.  Click on the link, to see why.)

But that got me thinking about my own “overnight success.”

Here’s the thing.  I started writing fiction for money in 1987. (Nineteen Eighty-Seven!!  Big shoulders and big hair.  Wasn’t that two years before the Berlin Wall came down?)

I won my first award (Canadian Living Magazine) in 1989.  By the time my first novel hit bookshelves, I already had 24 short stories published, and had won six awards.

Plus The Goddaughter’s Revenge – the book that won the Derringer and Arthur – wasn’t my first novel published.  It was my fifth.

My Point:

I’ll drill down even more.  It wasn’t even my fifth novel written.  It was my seventh.  The first two will never see the light of day.  One has gone on to floppy disk heaven.  Although if God reads it up there, he may send it to hell.

I would never want ANYONE to read my first two novels.  Writing them taught me how to write.  I got rid of bad habits with those books.  I learned about the necessity of motivation.  The annoyance of head-hopping.  And the importance of having a protagonist that people can like and care about.

Yes, my first novel had a TSTL heroine who was naive, demanding, and constantly had to be rescued.  (For those who don’t know, TSTL stands for Too Stupid To Live.  Which can occur when the author is too stupid to write.)  Even I got sick of her.  Why would anyone else want to make her acquaintance?

In my first two novels, I learned about plot bunnies.  Plot bunnies are those extraneous side trips your book takes away from the main plot.  Each book should have an overall plot goal, and ALL subplots should meander back to support that one plot goal in the end.  My first book had everything but aliens in it.  All sorts of bunnies that needed to be corralled and removed.

Speaking of bunnies, I’m wandering.  So back to the point:

IN 2015, some people saw me as an overnight success.  I was getting international recognition and bestseller status.  One of my books hit the Amazon Top 100 (all books) at number 47, between Tom Clancy and Nora Roberts.*

But that overnight success took 26 years.  I had one long apprenticeship.

I tell my students to keep in mind that being an author is a journey.  No one is born knowing how to write a great novel.  You get better as you write more.  You get better as you read more.  You get better as you learn from others.

Being an author is a commitment.  You aren’t just writing ‘one book.’  You are going to be a writer for the rest of your life. Commit to it.  Find the genre you love.  Write lots.

And you too can be an overnight success in 26 years.

(The Goddaughter.  A much more likeable protagonist, even if she is a bit naughty.)




Sunday, 2 February 2020

Four years and Four Books Later....

At the Ontario Library Association Conference, signing in the Orca Booth and later presenting at the Crime Writers of Canada Event...

4 years and 4 books later...not sure I like the black glasses.


Sunday, 29 December 2019

The Event was a Success: Nobody died... a fun post to welcome the new year

Above is the motto of marketing and public relations professionals when describing an event they managed.  You think I’m kidding.  Hah!

A lot of people in the crime writing world know me through my committee involvement in Bouchercon 2016, and the semi-annual Bloody Words mystery con in Toronto.  There’s a reason why I was on those committees.  It has to do with my real job.

I’ve been a professional event and conference planner since the 1980s, when I was part of the Bell Canada Golf Tournament committee.  That’s a lot of years.  In that time, I’ve arranged corporate promotional gigs, entire conferences, and classy fundraising dos.  The key to event planning is the second word:  PLANNING.  We try to anticipate everything that could possibly go wrong, and plan for it.  Probably, we are the most anal, list-making people you would ever come across.  Even so, and even with a ton of experience, I’ve found you can’t plan for everything.  What can go wrong, you say?

Just wait.

You can have water…and well, water.

Note to self: never trust your new staff with critical functions, like – for instance – the bar at a reception for 500.  She took care of the liquor license.  The cocktail food.  The entertainment.  The security.  The insurance.  Everything, in fact, except actually hiring the bars plus bartenders plus spirits.  One hour before the event-start, we were frantically on the phone with a nearby hotel, working a deal to borrow all the staff and spirits they could muster.  They came through, bless their extremely expensive hearts.  As conference-goers waited in the two interminable bar lineups, senior management sashayed up and down the line with lavish finger food to stall the riots.  “It’s so nice to see all the executives get involved like this,” said happy munchers, blissfully unaware of their near-dry event.

Said senior managers took turns slurping the bottle behind the stage.

Lesson learned: ALWAYS put booze and the serving of which at the top of your checklist.  People will forgive most everything.  But not that.

But I thought Moose Factory was in the Prairies…

In Newfoundland, they have a nifty way to make a little extra money.  Moose insurance.  No, really.  I used to work for a really big health care association that had conferences across Canada.  The national conference was in St. John’s one year.  It took a lot of organizing to get the main sponsor’s huge demonstration truck across to the island of Newfoundland.  This was a million dollar vehicle filled with the latest scientific and medical equipment, for demonstrating to the lab manager attendees.  Not a shabby enterprise, and the highlight of our nerdy conference, seeing all those state of the art goodies.  That truck rocked.

Until it was totalled by a Moose on the highway. 

Lesson learned:  ALWAYS get moose insurance.  Yes, this is a thing.

Bus 54, where ARE you?
 

Wine tour.  Yes, those words should never be allowed together.  People who go on wine tours invariably like to drink.  As you might expect, so do their bus drivers. 

It takes 45 minutes to get from Hamilton to Niagara Falls.  A convoy of six buses started out.  Three hours later, five buses made it for the dinner theatre.  The sixth made a slight detour to a winery and never got out of the tasting room.  Nobody there minded.  They had a kick-ass time in the attached resto.  I’m told everyone forgot about the dinner theatre in Niagara.  We tried to reach them.  But the ribald singing made it hard for people to hear their phones. 

Lesson learned:  Never *start* your event at a winery.

Dogs and dragons…it will never work.

Twenty years ago, I joined the PR staff of a major urban teaching hospital.  Anxious to show our commitment to multiculturalism, we scheduled several ethnic lunch days in the cafeteria, complete with food and entertainment.  You can imagine our excitement when the local Chinese community agreed to bring costumed dancers with elaborate twelve foot dragon into our facility.

So it was with great pride and a certain amount of smugness that we had news media standing by.  Not only that, the local television station agreed to film the event.  All good.  Hundreds of people crowded in.  The music started up.  The dancers came on stage. The twelve foot long colourful paper undulating dragon was magnificent.  Cameras rolled.

Cut scene to our blind physiotherapist on staff, who came into the cafeteria with his seeing eye dog Mack.  Mack took one look at the huge dragon and took off, knocking over his master and a table full of thoughtfully provided multicultural food.  Dog went crashing into dragon:  Rips, screams, people running, tables falling, and all this thoughtfully caught on camera for the six o’clock news.  “Hamilton Hospital celebrates Multiculturalism”

We called in every favour we had banked from every media person in town, to keep this off the news.

Lesson learned:  The event was a success.  Only the dragon died.