Tuesday 26 November 2013

John Daniel brings Coals to Newcastle, but they Sparkle like Diamonds!

It's my pleasure to introduce crime writer John Daniel to the Bad Girl Blog.  (Every now and then, we allow a Bad Boy on these pages.  John qualifies.)

What’s sss ho fuf, fuf, funny about the way I tut, tut, alk?
by John Daniel

I feel as if I’m bringing coals to Newcastle, and my coals are like…well, like coals, compared to the comedic diamonds that sparkle in Melodie Campbell’s hilarious Goddaughter books. Nevertheless, I have a few things to say on the subject of humorous storytelling, so here goes.

Laugh, and the world laughs with you. Write funny, and readers will beg for more. About this rib-tickling subject I couldn’t be more serious. And, on a serious note, here are three things I believe about writing humorous fiction.

1. Humor is a response to pain. Face the fact that humor bubbles to the surface through a soup of sorrow, suffering, cruelty, loneliness, and anger. Don’t believe me? What humorous writer makes you laugh the loudest? Woody Allen? Nora Ephron? David Sedaris? Read their stories again and notice how much their humor is based on neuroses, love gone wrong, and family dysfunction.

2. Humor must engage the brain. Remember, your stories do not come with a laugh track. You may trade on the familiar, but make the story your own by being original, being honest, and avoiding gimmicks and clichés. Use irony. Irony flexes the mind.

3. Humor should serve a higher purpose. We may tend to consider humor fluff, lightweight, as unnecessary as M&Ms, as disposable as Kleenex. Well, a funny can be as forgettable as all that, but it doesn’t have to be. If you’re going to tell a funny story, find a story that matters, that might make the world a tiny bit better.

Bonus rule. Having reread my last sentence, I’m compelled to add, “Lighten up.” Yes, humor, in spite of its painful origin, its intellect, and its moral purpose, should be fun. To entertain is to serve a higher purpose. So make your stories fun to read, enjoy writing for the fun of writing, and while you’re at it, practice the fine, fun art of laughter. The good news is that humor lightens the load and gets us through. A little laughing gas can make you enjoy the drilling of a tooth.

In my new novel, Hooperman: A Bookstore Mystery, one of the sources of humor is speech disorder. Speech impediments are not funny to anybody who lives with one. But for some reason, speech disorder makes people laugh. Think of Warner Brothers cartoons: Porky Pig stammers, Elmer Fudd can’t pronounce L’s or R’s, Sylvester and Daffy both lisp (wetly), Bugs has a nasal twang, and so forth. 

In Hooperman, the main character, Hoop Johnson, has a dreadful, crippling stutter. Another character, Martin West, has a neurological disorder, similar to Tourette Syndrome, that liberally sprinkles his speech with scatological profanity—barnyard cusswords. Do these two guys think speech disorder is funny?

Funny as a rubber crutch.

Here’s a brief excerpt from a scene with Hoop and Martin.

            “You remember that? How cuh,can you buh,be shhh…sure?”
            “You think because I talk weird, horse**** pig**** and like that, I’m automatically stupid? Horse**** pig****?” Nodded, shook his head, nodded again. Shook his head again. “Huh?”
            Hoop laughed out loud.
            “Funny? You think it’s horse****? You think it’s funny?”
            “Fuh,funny? Shhhh…hit, yes! Fuh,fuh,fuh… hilarious!”
            Martin snarled for a minute, then let his mouth grow into a wide-open grin. “Rat**** bat**** cat**** gnat****!” he said, and laughed. “Couple of horse**** crazies, huh? You and me? Horse****!”
            Hoop clapped his hands and laughed out loud. “Cuck razy and duh, dumb. We;re duh,duh,dumbells!”
            But the laughter quickly died down.…
Book synopsis
Hooperman: A Bookstore Mystery celebrates the joy of books and bookselling and also explores the many ways people get into trouble—deadly serious trouble—when they fail to communicate.
Hooperman Johnson is a tall, bushy-bearded man of few words. He works as a bookstore cop, catching shoplifters in the act. It’s a difficult job for a man with a severe stammer, but somebody’s got to do it, because Maxwell’s Books is getting ripped off big-time. And, more and more, it looks like the thief works for the store.

Set in the summer of 1972, the summer of the Watergate break-in, Hooperman is a bookstore mystery without a murder, but full of plot, full of oddball characters, full of laughs, and full of love, some of it poignant, some of it steamy.

“Pleasant and unusually good-natured, this novel from Daniel harkens back to a time when printed books mattered and an independent bookstore could be a social club for passionately eccentric bibliophiles.” —Publishers Weekly, starred review
For more info, including how to order: http://www.danielpublishing.com/jmd/hooperman.html

Author bio
(photo by Clark Lohr)
John M. Daniel is a lifelong bibliophile, having worked in eight bookstores. He’s also the author of fourteen published books, including the well-reviewed Guy Mallon Mystery Series. He lives among the redwoods in Humboldt County, California, with Susan Daniel, his wife and partner. They publish mystery fiction under the imprint Perseverance Press (Daniel & Daniel).

Saturday 23 November 2013

In a Mob Comedy, How Close is Too Close to Home?

by Bad Girl

It all closed in on me at the launch of THE GODDAUGHTER mob caper in Hamilton. Eighty-five people stood waiting.

The local television station had cameras in my face.  So far, it had been an easy interview focused on my awards and comedy career. The fellow was charming.  I liked him a lot.  Then he dropped the bomb.

“So…have you ever met a member of the mob?”

I didn’t like him so much anymore.

Yikes!  Hesitation.   A lot of feet shuffling.

“Yes.” I said, very precisely. So precisely, that everyone in the room laughed nervously. “In fact, I had to wait until certain members of my family died before getting this book published. ‘Nuf said.”
The ‘nuf said’ was the closure.  He got it.  Being a smart lad, he even let it drop.

But it made me think about how close you want to get in a book to real life.

As writers, we research a hell of a lot.  Of course, I did research for The Goddaughter series.  Some of the study was pretty close to home, as I riffed on memories from my childhood.  But I write comedies, so perhaps the expectations aren’t as great for me to be entirely accurate.  Good thing about that.

In the screwball comedy THE GODDAUGHTER’S REVENGE, I am not very close to real life. Gina must get back fake rings from some of her best clients. So she masterminds a bunch of burglaries that go…well…wrong.  It’s great fun, and rather innocent on the grand scale of criminal activities.

But I do cut pretty close to the wire in describing Hamilton.  The streets are real. The names of the neighbourhoods are real. I even describe the location of the restaurant where the mob (in my books) hangs out. I changed the name, of course, because the last thing I want is readers thinking this hot resto is really a mob hangout.  And besides, it’s fun when fans email me to say, “When they all meet at La Paloma, did you really mean XXX?” Readers feel they’ve been part of an in-joke.

How close is too close?  Here’s what I’ve learned.  You never want to offend anyone by:
1.      Using real names of mobsters past or present.  They have ways of finding you.  Even the dead ones.  We are Sicilian, after all.
2.      Using a street number that is real and can be tracked down.  Especially if you are describing a call girl establishment.  Believe me, this is not cool.  Mrs. Harmon hated it.  Mrs. Murphy, on the other hand….but I digress.

So in THE GODDAUGHTER’S REVENGE, I want you to feel Hamilton. To smell the smoke of Steeltown and experience the ambiance of a post-industrial city in decline.  Like parts of New Jersey, The Hammer is rife with delightfully quirky areas that lend themselves perfectly to a mob caper.

I love this city with character.  And I hope that comes through in THE GODDAUGHTER’S REVENGE.

Melodie Campbell achieved a personal best this year when Library Journal compared her to Janet Evanovich.  Her first book, ROWENA THROUGH THE WALL, was an Amazon Top 100 bestseller. Her fifth novel, THE GODDAUGHTER’S REVENGE, has just been released by Orca Books. 


     Okay, I admit it. I would rather be the proud possessor of a rare gemstone than a lakefront condo with parking. Yes, I know this makes me weird. Young women today are supposed to crave the security of owning their own home
     But I say this. Real estate, shmeel estate. You can’t hold an address in your hand. It doesn’t flash and sparkle with the intensity of a thousand night stars, or lure you away from the straight and narrow like a siren from some Greek odyssey.
     Let’s face it. Nobody has ever gone to jail for smuggling a one bedroom plus den out of the country.
However, make that a 10-carat cyan blue topaz with a past as long as your arm, and I’d do almost anything to possess it.
    But don’t tell the police.

Library Journal says this about Melodie`s third novel, The Goddaughter (Orca Books):
``Campbell`s crime caper is just right for Janet Evanovich fans.  Wacky family connections and snappy dialogue make it impossible not to laugh.``

THE GODDAUGHTER’S REVENGE on Amazon http://tinyurl.com/kmgjgsf
THE GODDAUGHTER on Amazon http://ow.ly/dnObH

Monday 18 November 2013

PAY NOW - DIE LATER (reprinted with permission)

by Bad Girl
I’ve been getting an awful lot of sales calls from funeral parlors lately, and frankly, it’s starting to worry me.  Granted I’ve been missing a little sleep, but do I really look like I’m ready for the harp and wings?  (Okay, fire and pokers.)

What’s happening out there in the Underworld these days?  Who came up with this PAY NOW-DIE LATER thing?

I’m quite familiar with payment plans.  In fact, you could call me hell on wheels with a credit card.  I have perfected the fast draw.  And years of experience have taught me that you can buy a perfectly good dress now, and not have to pay for it until it is out of style.

But I have to question this whole prepaid funeral thing.  Just why the heck should I pay in advance for something I don’t even want?

All I know is, someone has done a killer <sic> marketing job.  And it’s only the beginning.  Next thing you know, they’ll be doing your colours beforehand.  Or – wait for it – for those who want to look their best on the way out – liposuction! “Let yourself go a bit over the years?  Pre-purchase our after-market body-shaping plan, and let us take a little off the sides…or maybe add a little here and here…”

The fashion industry won’t be far behind.  I can see a side-business dealing in up to the minute stylish clothes that make you look good lying down.

In fact, they could have a phone-in service for people who want to switch their final fashion choice with the season.  Perhaps little tear-off strips attached to your license where you can pencil in your latest choice:  “Please bury me in the royal blue strapless, first drawer on the left…”

And it doesn’t end there.  One telephone salesperson wanted to know if I preferred a forest or lake view, sunny or shady final resting spot.  I can see it now:
“The Sun Lover’s Plan – Finally, all the sun you want with no fear of UV”

For those men who want their wives to visit often, they’ll come up with special burial sites next door to major shopping malls.  And certain women I know may elect to be ‘located’ around the seventeenth tee.

There’s a lot of potential still left in this industry, and I’ve come up my own sales gimmick.  You only pay a small deposit for your ‘deposit,’ and you don’t claim it until you need it.  It’s called the “Layaway” plan.

Monday 11 November 2013

No Sex Please, We’re Crime Writers!

I write short.  This stems from my comedy writing roots, where each word must be carefully chosen for impact.  So my publishers don’t delete a lot of scenes from my books.  In fact, they usually tell me where to add more words.

With one exception.

There seems to be a convention that crime books shouldn’t contain sex.  Oh, they can refer to sex. Sex can be a powerful motivator for all those violent scenes we are allowed to describe in painstaking detail. (Irony alert here.)

So you can refer to sex. But Lord help you if you – ahem – ‘Show-not-Tell.’

Okay, so I show a bit.  But just a little bit.  I don’t write X-rated, honest.  In fact, I write with the sort of silliness that might be associated with old Benny Hill skits.  So we’re not talking 50 Shades of Naughty here. Still, my naughty bits get censored.

No sex please, we’re crime writers!

It’s a crime <sic>.  Heck, it’s enough to make a poor gal swap genres. Have you read any steamy romance books lately?  Those novels can be practically pornographic.

When did romance books become more adult than crime books?

I explained to one publisher why a certain sexy blackmail scene was essential to the story. It provided motivation that was completely necessary.  So here was their admittedly canny solution:

Leave the dialogue, but take out the other senses – the sounds, the visuals, the - let’s leave it there.

Yes, it still works.  You get what’s going on by what is being said.

Does it lose impact?  Well, yes.  I work hard to include all the senses in my writing.

But does it work for the plot?  Yes, it does.  It might even be funnier without the senses.
You be the judge.

From THE GODDAUGHTER’S REVENGE, just released!
“Now Carmine, move up front here and pay close attention to this video. You might know the people.”
Everyone came closer. You could almost hear each individual breath. Except then I turned up the volume and you could only hear the heavy breathing and moans coming from the laptop.
“Oh Carmy! Do it – do it – ahhhhh”
“I’m doin’ it, babe – I’m doin’ it –“
“Faster, Carmy! Faster – don’t stop”
All eyes were glued to the screen.
“Oh, gross,” said Lou.
“Holy shit!” yelled Carmine. “How did you get that?”
“Carm, that ain’t your wife. Tracy’s not a blond.” Bertoni was confused.
            “How the heck is she doing that?” Pete stared at the video with far too much interest.

at Amazon

at Chapters

Sunday 10 November 2013

HOW TO WRITE FUNNY NOVELS - why you shouldn't - but you're going to anyway - so Here's a Primer

I've been called many things, but probably best was "Canada's undisputed Queen of Comedy."

Down in the States today, on a Top 100 Writers' Digest blog, with

HOW TO WRITE FUNNY NOVELS - Why you shouldn't - but you're going to anyway - so Here's a Primer

This is basically my workshop on Writing Comedy, without the assignments.

Many thanks to my hostess, Anne R. Allen, a kindred spirit in comedy (there aren't many of us dames out there).
Click here:    http://networkedblogs.com/QZJsS

Please visit and comments welcome!


Friday 8 November 2013

THE GODDAUGHTER'S REVENGE Book Launch - $585 Donated to the Hamilton Literacy Council

Thanks to the many people who came to THE GODDAUGHTER'S REVENGE book launch in Hamilton last night.  68 people attended, and $585 was raised for the Hamilton Literacy Council!

Thanks also to Gareth Bond, Don Graves, and Alison Bruce for their presentations and 'roast' <smile>

I'll be treasuring this photo in future years.  That's my 91 year old Dad on the far right.

THE GODDAUGHTER'S REVENGE launch at the Turner Park Branch of the Hamilton Public Library, Nov. 7, 2013.

Wednesday 6 November 2013

Melodie Campbell donates all Proceeds from the Launch of THE GODDAUGHTER'S REVENGE to the Hamilton Literacy Council!

Launch Tomorrow!

MC: Gareth Bond, Chair of the Hamilton Literacy Council
Special Guest Speaker: Don Graves, Book Reviewer for the Hamilton Spectator
Free, and all welcome!

Sunday 3 November 2013

"Who but Melodie Campbell would pull off this zany story of family characters with their crazy personalities?" R&B Review of THE GODDAUGHTER'S REVENGE!

The Goddaughter's Revenge by Melodie Campbell

Published by Orca Rapid Reads

A Rapid Reads book, lots of personality, humour, zany characters and a fun read, short and compact. The action and dialogue is so reminiscent of an old Black and White madcap movie set in modern day I knew immediately I would enjoy it. The characters are all written with their individual IDs intact and ready to go.

Melodie Campbell has an ability to take a storyline by the roots and shake it up with often hilarious results. This the second book I have read by this author, both from different series. Still, the author's innate ability to create fantastic stories is the foundation of both series.

Here we have Gina Gallow, the goddaughter of a Mob Boss and owner of her own jewelry store. Though she doesn't want to be part of 'The Family' business, she is not beyond eliciting help when she needs it, even enlisting her fiance in her capers. Who else would be burglarizing to steal fake gems to replace with the real thing? And what about the Lone Rearranger? Who but Melodie Campbell would pull off this zany story of family characters with their crazy personalities? Which comes first, loyalty to family or loyalty to the job? Loved this romp; Melodie, I will happily follow wherever your books will take me!

Many thanks, R&B!