Sunday, 7 October 2018

Saying Goodbye to Beloved Frankenpoodle, a St. John Therapy Dog

My beloved Frankenpoodle crossed the Rainbow Bridge tonight. He was twelve and a half, a wonderful wonderful St. John Ambulance therapy dog, who did such good with many disabled children. Such a good life lived. 
Even though I knew it had to be soon, I can't stop crying. Dear Sunny.

He was famous, although he didn't know it.  This appeared in The National Post Newspaper, about seven years ago:


By Melodie Campbell

If Dr. Frankenstein were creating a dog, this is what he might end up with.   Standing 30 inches at the shoulder, Frankenpoodle is a giraffe in a dog suit.

I got my start writing comedy.  Frankenpoodle got his start as the klutzy giant of the litter. No breeding for him.  Instead, he became a canine muse.  Together, we have slogged through seventeen novels; me at the keyboard, him on the worn brown chaise beside me.  Both of us snarfing snacks and looking forward to walk time. 

Damn straight, this dog inspires me.  Toker, the big black poodle-cross with the Mohawk hairdo in The Goddaughter’s Revenge, steals the show. 

 The dog that stole my heart:

Thursday, 4 October 2018

Why I Chose a Traditional publisher

by Melodie Campbell (Bad Girl) 

Students often ask me why I don’t self-publish. 
I try to slip by the fact that I was a babe when dinosaurs roamed the earth.
Meaning, I was writing long before self-publishing on Amazon and Nook etc. had even become an option.

Having a publisher and agent before self-publishing was a 'thing' has certainly made a difference, I'm sure.  But now we have a choice. 

Why do I still stay with a traditional publisher?

Gateway Endorsement

There’s no getting away from this:  a traditional publisher, no matter how small, is investing THEIR money to produce YOUR book.  They believe in your book so much that they are willing to risk their own money to see it published.

What’s more, readers know this.  They know that if your book has a publisher, then it has gone through a gateway of sorts.  Someone in the business who knows about the book trade – someone other than the writer - has determined that this book is worthy of being published.

They believe in your book.  That’s a huge endorsement.

You may believe in your book.  I hope you do.  And you may decide to self-publish it.  That’s your choice.  And it may be just as good as any book that is released from a traditional publisher. 

But the reader doesn’t know that.  Further, they don’t know if you’ve already sent the book to a dozen publishers and had it rejected.  In many cases, they assume you’ve done just that.  They assume that no publisher  wanted it.  Therefore, they figure they are taking a risk if they buy your book.  And most readers don’t want to take risks with their money.  (Some will, bless them.  We love those 

Distribution and Promotion

Traditional publishers – particularly large or mid-size ones – get your books into national bookstore chains.  They will also include your book in their catalogue to the big buyers, create sales info sheets for your book, and perhaps buy ads.  They arrange for industry reviews.  We authors complain they don’t do enough promotion.  But they certainly do these things that we can’t do.

We, as authors, can’t access the same distribution networks.  We can’t easily (if at all) reach the prominent industry reviewers like Library Journal and Booklist. 

And then there’s the whole problem of bookstores insisting on publishers accepting returns.  So if your book doesn’t sell, your publisher has to pay the bookstore back the wholesale price they paid for the book.  Independent authors can’t work that way.  We authors would go broke if we had to return money to every bookstore that shelved our books but didn’t sell them.  Remember, you don’t get the book back.  The cover is sent back and the book is destroyed.  Yes, this antiquated system sucks.

All the other crap

I’m an author.  I want to write.  I don’t want to spend my cherished writing time learning how to navigate Amazon’s self-publishing program, and Nook’s self-publishing program, and all the others.  I don’t want to pay substantive and copy-editors out of my own pocket.  I don’t want to seek out cover designers (although I admit that part might be fun.)  I don’t want to pay a bunch of money upfront to replace the work that publishers do.

If you self-publish, then you become the publisher as well as the author.  I asked myself: do I want to be a publisher? 
This was my decision, and you may choose a different one.  You may love being a publisher.  But I find it hard enough being an author.  Adding all those other necessary factors to the job just makes it seem overwhelming to me.  I may be a good writer.  But I have no experience as a publishing industry professional.  I have no expertise.  So I publish with the experts.

You may choose a different route.  Just be aware that when you self-publish, you become a publisher just as much as an author.  It’s all in how you want to spend your time.

Good luck on your publishing adventure, whichever way you choose to go!

That's The B-Team, a humorous heist crime book, on the shelf at Indigo/Chapters, in the photo above.  You can get it at B&N, Amazon and all the usual suspects. 

ON Amazon

Friday, 28 September 2018

A Thank You to the Original Fashionista

My mother died 7 years ago this week.  Today would have been her birthday.  So I am revisiting this post for the first time since the original was posted.  (Yes, this blog has been going a long time!) 

(That's me on the right, after a modeling job, still wearing the last dress from the show.  Mom is on the left, her sister Marg in between us.  Circa 1986.)

My mother was the original fashionista.  From the day I was born, she dressed me like a princess in petite designer knock-offs.  So it’s no mystery why my latest mystery A PURSE TO DIE FOR (co-written with Cynthia St-Pierre) has a fashion theme to it.

I remember happy Saturdays with Mom traveling the subway to Eaton’s in Toronto, from the time I was five.  I would gaze at the super stylish manikins in the picture windows at Eaton’s and Simpson’s (both long gone) with pure delight.  It was the 60s and fashions were ‘mod’.  Colour sizzled. Makeup was bold.  And 
Mom was a gorgeous diva who turned heads everywhere.

Many years later, I took my own trips down the runway in Vancouver and Toronto, as an occasional fashion model for Marilyn Brooks and others.  And trip is the right word!  Sometimes those high heels were a little too stiletto.

Now, my own daughter Alex rules the runway, and has taken over as the family fashion Diva.  Why?

One of the tragedies of my life is that my mother died mere months before A PURSE TO DIE FOR was published.  It was my gift to her – a fun and heartfelt thank you for the brightness she created in my life.  Mom was the sun around which this family spun.  Her love of beauty in art and clothes reflected the beauty of her soul.

The heroine in A PURSE TO DIE FOR has the same fashion addiction, and the same big heart.  What Gina recognizes – and what my Italian mother so effortlessly portrayed – is that fashion is just downright fun, and we should take joy from it.

So to my dear Mom who walked the Rainbow Runway just months before A PURSE TO DIE FOR came out – this book is for you.  Miss you every day.  Ciao Bella.

Wednesday, 26 September 2018

"Not MY body." An Excerpt from my favourite book, THE GODDAUGHTER CAPER

Oh dear.  As authors, we aren't supposed to have favourites.  Please don't tell my other book-children.  Here's the start of Chapter 2, in the book that answers the question:

Do old mobsters EVER retire?

Chapter 2

It was almost nine. I drove to the place I was supposed to go. (Don’t ask—I can’t tell you.) It was a little place behind a little place in a not-so-well-lit area. The guys at the chop shop stared as I emerged from the car. They had the good sense not to catcall.
Tony (my second cousin Tony—meaning I have more than one) nodded at me.
“Gina. How’s things?” He was wiping his greasy hands on an even greasier towel.
“Same ole, same ole,” I said. Except for the dead body in my trunk. “You?”
“Good. The twins are growing. You should come ’round.” Tony looks like a Tony. And his wife, Maria, is equally front-page Italian.
He nodded to the trunk. “The Wanker dude?”
I gestured with both arms. “Not my body. I had nothing to do with it.”
“Strange they dumped it there at the restaurant. But no worries. I’ll get it to the retirement home.”
“The retirement home? Too late for that,” I quipped. “You mean the funeral home.”
Tony stiffened. He tilted his head. “Sure, whatever.”
He looked like he was about to say more, then stopped.
Maybe “retirement home” was new slang for “funeral home”? Like you sort of retired from life there?
“No probs. I’ll call you when the car’s ready,” he said finally.
I wanted to get out of there, but it was really dark. And I had no wheels. And I didn’t want to be seen at this place, so that meant no taxi.
I called my fiancé Pete’s cell phone. “Hey, can you come pick me up?”
“Where’s your car?” Pete asked.
“What?” Pete’s voice always does something to me. I might have been a bit distracted.
“Where is your car?” Pete repeated precisely.
“Oh.” I thought fast. “It needed a little work, so I took it in to the mechanic.”
“Does this have anything to do with the take-out on James?”
I shrieked a bit. Or, at least, that’s what Tony said it sounded like.
“What do you know about a murder on James?” I hissed into the phone.
“I work for a newspaper, remember? I hear everything.”
“Well, un-hear it. And get the others to un-hear it too.” Jeesh. All I needed was reporters following me around, and cops following them.
I gave Pete the address.
“I’m still at work. Pick you up in twenty.”
Before I could put my cell back in my purse, it started singing “Shut Up and Drive.”
“Wally the Wanker got whacked?” It was Sammy the String Bean, Vince’s underboss.
I hesitated. “Looks like two plugs from a .38. You mean you didn’t do it?” I wasn’t going to say we. There is no we in my vocabulary when it comes to murder.
“No way, Sugar. This is interesting. Gotta go talk to Vince.” He hung up.