Saturday, 28 March 2020

Interview with the Tenured and Talented Melodie Campbell! (okay, at least part of that is true...)

My honour to be on Lisa de Nikolits' Blog today! As expected, Lisa asks the teaser questions that one can't hide from (says the gal who was hardly ever a mob goddaughter, at least not recently)

Here's a teaser from it:
Tell us something really interesting that's happened to you!
In 1993, I had a wacky comedy play produced in Toronto. A producer was in the audience, and he said to me after, “You are completely nuts. How would you like to come to LA and write pilots for us?” I sadly said no, because I had two pre-schoolers and a husband – how could I move them to the US. Besides…it was 1993. Who had ever heard of this outfit called HBO??

This has to be the worst mistake ever made by someone not legally insane.

Friday, 27 March 2020

Bye Bye Piano! (snif)

Sometimes you have to say goodbye to beloved things in a move.  My piano has a new home with some lovely people.  It also has a history that might interest people popping on here:

 History of the Vose Piano

In 1980, I was a singer with the Toronto Gaelic Singers, and our conductor was with the Canadian Opera Company.  She and I were good friends, and she heard of a sale of used grand pianos that was open to members of the professional music community in Toronto.

There had been a recession in the US, particularly in the auto industry states.  An enterprising man with connections to the opera company had gone down to Detroit with a transport, and brought back seventeen pianos. 

I had only been married two years, but I longed for a piano.  I was not only a singer; I had done twelve years of piano lessons and also played the violin.  As it turned out, I had a bit of extra money because I worked for Bell Canada, and the operators had been on strike.  As management, I had to do massive overtime on the ‘boards’ as we called it.  My job was the night shift, now 911.  My husband (who died in 2019) was a wonderful man who agreed that I should take the overtime money and buy a piano.

My friend got me in the sale, and we had a piano technician with us.  There were seventeen pianos in the old Toronto house where they were being stored.  The technician checked every one, and then told me to buy this one.  I had fallen in love with a pretty white painted one, and he shook his head firmly and said this piano was by far the best one in the place.  “Did I want a pretty piano, or a great piano?” I remember him saying.  I felt duly scolded.

He told me this was a Vose, from Boston – a well-known company that produced excellent instruments.  This particular piano had come from a hotel in Detroit that had gone bankrupt.  It had been used in a bar, by a singer accompanied by a pianist.  Before the piano was refinished (in 1985) you could see drink rings on the lid.

I paid $2100 for the piano, which was a lot of money at the time.  (It was the most expensive piano in the shipment.)  Our research since then told us that the piano was manufactured around 1923.  If you look at the legs, you will see it is definitely in the style of Art Deco. 

I played it for years, and my two daughters took lessons.  Ten years ago, I developed arthritis, so haven’t been able to play it much.

It’s been well-loved for nearly 100 years, and I’m delighted to have it go to its next good home.

Melodie Campbell  (Now with the Welsh Ladies Chorus)

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 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:

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.)