Tuesday 23 June 2015

Stomping on the Box (reprinted from The Sage News Network)

By Melodie Campbell (Bad Girl)

It has recently been reported that the local symphony orchestra is in deep financial doo doo.  The numbers coming in don’t match the numbers going out anymore, and the chorus has become operatic.

For some reason, management is paralysed.  They don’t seem to know where to start. 

Lucky for them, I am here to help.  Time to economize, and I’ve got a plan.  In the true spirit of generosity, I have agreed to devote a total of ten minutes to this problem.

It’s really a question of numbers.  We simply need to attack the figures like an accountant, and make the necessary cut-backs.  To that end, I’ve tabled a list of ten cost-saving solutions.

The ‘Why didn’t I think of that’ suggestions:

1.   Is it necessary to have three or four movements of a symphony?   Everyone knows the slow parts are a drag.  Cut them out.
2.   A Chamber Orchestra is simply wasteful.  Make them a quartet, and they can play in smaller quarters. 
3.  Do we really need four trombones all playing the same note?  Knock it back to one, and use an amp.   
4.  I’m sure violas must have a purpose, but we’re downsizing, Sister.  Get a violin.
5.   On that note <sic>, nobody, but nobody, wants to hear 16 strident violins. 

The ‘Not only were we thinking out of the box, we actually stomped on the box’ suggestions:

6.  The 1812 Overture becomes the 1610.
7.  Tosca can throw herself off a picnic table instead of a rooftop.
8.  Every suite should be reduced to a bachelor pad.
9.  Replace the oboe player with a duck.
10  Finally:  does anyone, anywhere, ever need THREE TENORS?

Ten solutions, people, in ten minutes.  Now really…was that so difficult?

Melodie Campbell is a comedy writer from back in the Paleolithic era.  You can buy her “hilarious” Goddaughter mob caper series at Chapters, and all the usual places.

Wednesday 17 June 2015

The Black Dog Lives Part Time at my House

(a serious post, just to prove I can write one)

Dammit, I’m insecure again.

I have two dogs.  Frankenpoodle is friendly ginger giant of a mutt who lies on the couch next to me as I write.

The other one is black.

The black dog has no name, but haunts me like a ghost.  It wanders in and out of my life, with no listed itinerary.  One minute, I can be writing the best novel of my career.  The next day, I am in a straight-jacket of doubt, unable to type.

It shouldn’t be thus.  No one believes I do this dance with the black dog.  Not me, the comedy writer.  People expect black comedy, maybe.  But not the dark shadow of the black dog.  

I am not first by far.  Better and far more famous writers than me have been stalked by this crippling creature. That is some consolation.  Good company is always a blessing.

I’ve tried numerous things to shoo it away.

1.      Awards
We authors long to win awards and be recognized by a jury of our peers.  For some, it is the pinnacle of acceptance, the final reassurance that we are not writing crap.

I’ve won 10 awards.  I won three big ones last year.  It felt great.  It should be all any writer needs, for the rest of their life.

Every author knows you can’t win every award every year.  You can’t even expect to be shortlisted two years in a row.  So why does one feel particularly inadequate when the inevitable happens, after a particularly good year?

2.      Sales
Your first book has stellar sales.  Your second book gets two awards, but sales aren’t quite as good.  Your third book in the series gets no awards, but sales are steady.  Still not as stellar as book one though.

With my first book, I would have been happy if 400 people had bought and read it.  Then, it was 4000.  Now, I won’t be satisfied until 40,000 have bought and read it.  Reaching for sales is soul-sucking.  You can never sell enough.  The next plateau is always beyond reach. No one will ever be satisfied.

3.       Book contracts
Your publisher says they want the next book in your series.  You give a sigh of relief.  You are not a ‘homeless’ author looking for a new publisher, like some of your colleagues right now in this heartless industry.

So you start to plan the next book in your series.  And the black dog sits over your shoulder, panting.  Will this one be as funny as the last?  What if it isn’t any good?  Will this be the last book of your career?

You sit paralyzed.  Fear that you will never write anything as good as your last book becomes a cold mist you can't find your way out of.

You start to wonder why you even thought you wanted to be a writer.

You wonder why you have this need to write, when those around you seem to be satisfied with their lives, and even happy, without ever putting themselves through this torture.

Imagine.  Being happy in life without writing fiction.  Would it be possible?

And then you get an email from a reader who loves your last book and is asking about the next.
And then your royalty statement arrives and it is something more than a meal out for two at Ruth’s Chris.
The black dog recedes for now.
You start writing.  The words become a torrent.  They hold you.  Feed you.  You’re whole again.
For now.

Wednesday 10 June 2015

Thank you, Hamilton Literacy Council!

Truly honoured to receive this stunning engraved blown glass award from the Hamilton Literacy Council, and to be the keynote speaker at their AGM. Laughter and tears, and a night to remember.
And all because of The Goddaughter series.

 June 10, 2015
The Scottish Rite, Hamilton Ontario

Saturday 6 June 2015


Off to the Chapel!  Alex and Nate get married today.
Frankenpoodle is an usher!
Will post photos after the happy day  :)

Wednesday 3 June 2015


Welcome, IWSGers!  Think it's nerve-wracking being a finalist for a big award?  Try running the awards gala itself!  The Arthur Ellis Awards are Canada's Crime Writing Awards, which took place last week on May 28 at the Arts and Letters club in Toronto.   I'll let the post speak for itself.IWSG Badge


By Melodie Campbell

Okay, I haven’t done it yet.  But I may soon.

I’m the Executive Director of a well-known crime writing association.  This means I am also responsible for the Arthur Ellis Awards, Canada’s annual crime writing awards night, and the resulting banquet.

I’ve planned hundreds of special events in my career as a marketing professional.  I’ve managed conferences with 1000 people attending, scarfing down three meals a day.  Usually, we offer a few choices, and people choose what they want.  They’re pretty good about that.  People sit where they want.  Simple.

Granted, most of my events have been with lab techs, doctors, nurses, and other health care professionals.

It is not the same with authors.  Nothing is simple with authors.


A can’t sit with B, because A is in competition with B for Best Novel.  C can’t sit with D because C is currently outselling D.  E can’t sit with F because they had an affair (which nobody knows about.  Except they do.  At least, the seven people who contacted me to warn me about this knew.) G can’t sit with H because G’s former agent is at that table and they might kill each other.  And everyone wants to sit with J.


The damned meal is chicken.  This is because we are allowed two choices and we have to provide for the vegetarians.  We can’t have the specialty of the house, lamb, because not everyone eats lamb.  We can’t have salmon as the vegetarian choice, because some vegetarians won’t eat fish.

So we’re stuck with bloody chicken again.

P writes that her daughter is lactose intolerant.  Can she have a different dessert?

K writes that she is vegetarian, but can’t eat peppers.  Every damned vegetarian choice has green or red pepper in it.

L writes that she wants the chicken, but is allergic to onion and garlic.  Can we make hers without?

M writes that her daughter is a vegan, so no egg or cheese, thanks.  Not a single vegetarian choice comes that way.

I am quickly moving to the “you’re getting chicken if I have to shove it down your freaking throat” phase.

Chef is currently threatening the catering manager with a butcher’s knife.  I am already slugging back the cooking wine.  And by the time people get here, this may be a Murder Mystery dinner.


Nobody got murdered, but a few got hammered.

Check out the other IWSG blogs today at
FLASH NEWS:  The Arthur Ellis Awards for Crime Writing in Canada were held last Thursday night, and Margaret Atwood (not Melodie Campbell, alas) won the Arthur for the Short Story category.  It was an honour to be shortlisted with her.