Monday 26 October 2015

“He said THAT??” And other male no-nos… (for Mark, who missed it the first time around)

By Melodie Campbell

One day, I am going to write a book.  It is going to be entitled:  A Male’s Guide to Social Acceptance.

Or alternatively, What NOT to say to Females if you want to Continue Breathing.

Because men, you need some help.  Even you good guys need help.  For lesson one, I am going to deal with a perfectly innocuous question that has led to many relationship breakdowns.

She:  “How do I look in this?”

Yes, guys, this is a minefield.  Here’s my advice:

You must answer.  Silence is not an option.  Silence implies that you are desperately thinking of something to say that won’t result in your going to bed with a meat cleaver in your head.

1.  Say, “Very pretty.”  (Pretty is a safe word.  Use it often.)

2.  Or say “I like that.”  (Try to say this without too much hesitation beforehand.)

3.  When all else fails, say “Wow!” (You don’t have to be specific.)

Do NOT say: “It makes you look slim.”

This should be obvious, but often confuses males.  Your saying this implies that she is not slim, and thus requires something to make her look so.  Violence may ensue.

“But she’s always asking me if something makes her look fat!”  Yes, this is a trick question.  It’s one thing for her to ask you.  It’s a totally different thing for you to suggest, without prompting, that something is good because it makes her look slim.  Get it?

Other cautions: 

Guy: “You look sexy.”

She:  “Nice sexy, or slutty sexy?”

Guy (confused):  “All sexy is good…  Isn’t it?”

No, Prince Charming!  What is good sexy for the bedroom is not good sexy for the company Christmas party.  So the correct answer is, “nice sexy.” 

Final tough question:

She (striding confidently into the room):  “Notice anything different?”

Guy (squirming):  “Did you do something to your hair?”

At which point she commences pulling it out.

Guys, I sympathize when you are faced with this one.  In a panic, you go through the checklist: hair, new outfit…and then run out.  So I suggest the following default answer, good for so many occasions:

“Not sure, but you look terrific.”

Final point:  if you have learned anything at all from this lesson today, and you want to continue breathing, you will NOT say:

“Have you lost weight?”

Next time, we will explore the issue of pickup lines.  <I can hardly wait for this one.>

Melodie Campbell writes funny books, like the mob comedy, The Artful Goddaughter.  You can buy them in stores like Chapters and online at all major retailers.

Monday 19 October 2015

I'M NOT MY PROTAGONIST! Oh, wait a minute...

By Melodie Campbell

My college Crafting a Novel students often hear me say, “You can’t make every character sound like yourself.”  And it’s true.  Most beginning novelists (at least the ones in my class) write themselves into their books.  The star of the book – the protagonist - sounds and looks an awful lot like the writer himself.  Has the same likes, dislikes, and insecurities.  But is of course, more heroic.

In fact, we come slamming up against the famous saying, “Write what you know.”

And some know themselves pretty well.  (Others, not at all, but I digress…) 

A protagonist who is a barely veiled, idealist version of yourself?  We’ll allow you that for your first book.  But if an author persists in writing the same protagonist over and over again, in every book and series they write, things get pretty stale.

So that prompted me to look at my own series to see what I had done.  Ten books in now, I held my breath. 

The Character I wish I was

I started the Land’s End Fantasy Trilogy when I was dearly in need of escape.  My mother was dying.  I remember looking at her hospital bedroom wall, and thinking, ‘if I could walk through that wall into another world right now, I would.’  That’s how the first of the series, Rowena Through the Wall, came about.  I started writing it in the hospital.

Rowena isn’t me.  She is the ‘me I wish I was,’ at least at that difficult time.  I wrote the character I wanted to be.  She’s prettier than me, more generous than I am, and in the end, more courageous.  I was dealing with the issue of courage at that time.  Courage to face what was coming and what was inevitable.  I wonder how many readers of that series would nod their heads, hearing me say that now?

The ‘Me’ my Mother Wanted Me to Be

Next I grabbed A Purse to Die For off my shelves.  This book is in a different genre – it’s amateur detective, or classic mystery, and I co-wrote it with my pal, Cindy St-Pierre.  The second book in the series, A Killer Necklace, has just come out.

The protagonist is a fashion diva – a television personality from the Weather Network.  She’s drop-dead pretty, and always put together.

I am not.  Spending more than ten minutes on my long hair is an impossible chore for me.  You won’t find high heels in my closet.  I like clothes, but am not a slave to fashion. 

But my mother was.  My mother was a fashion diva until the day she died.  We’re pretty sure she was the longest subscriber to Vogue magazine, ever.  Mom dressed me in designer clothes all my childhood.  She was delighted when I did a little modeling as a young woman.

I never quite came up to her standard of fashionista though.  “Put on some lipstick,” she would say.   
“You look like a ghost!”

Looking at the series now, I can see that the main character is the ‘me my mother wanted me to be.’  It was, in a way, my tribute to her.  Wish she could have been here when the first book was published.

The Closest I get to Me

So where am I in all my books?  That’s easy.

I’m The Goddaughter.  Sort of.  In this wacky crime caper series, the protagonist is a mob goddaughter, who doesn’t want to be one.

I’m half Sicilian.  I had a Sicilian godfather.  I had to wait until certain people died in the family before I wrote this series.

In Gina Gallo, the ambivalence is there.  ‘You’re supposed to love and support your family.  But what if your family is this one?”  Gina says this in every book of the series.  Those words came directly from my mouth.

This book is meant to be laugh out loud funny.  I let loose with my own wit, and shook off the inhibitions.  Not that I’m very inhibited normally.  But in The Goddaughter series, you get the real me peeking out.  Not idealized.  Not always upstanding.  Sometimes just looking for a way out of a real mess, possibly of my own creation.  But kind of fun to be with, I think. 

So that brings us back to the beginning.  One of the delightful things about being an author is allowing yourself to ‘become’ a character other than yourself, as you write.  Fitting yourself into their skin, so to speak.  As you write more, this becomes more fun, and more of a goal.  I LOVE putting myself into the mind of a killer in a short story, if only for a little while.  It’s a kick to ‘pretend’ to be someone else, by writing their story.

Let’s be honest: who needs drugs, if you’re an author?  THIS is the ultimate escape.

Do you relish creating characters and living their lives through your fiction?

A KILLER NECKLACE - just released!
 On Amazon

Wednesday 14 October 2015

World's First Simultaneous Google+ and Facebook Launch Party!

Join in - Saturday October 17, 1-3 pm ET
All Welcome!

Help us celebrate the launch of A KILLER NECKLACE!
Free book giveaways by several featured crime and erotica authors (and we know which books you'll be hoping to win...)

Link to the Facebook Party

Link to the Google+ Party

 Never been to an online book launch before?  This is your chance to see what happens!
You can visit for just a few minutes, or stay a while for the book giveaways.

Friday 9 October 2015

A KILLER NECKLACE is now available for preorders!

(and believe me, I do appreciate preorders. They count as a sale on the day of launch.)

"If Christie wore Armani and Louboutins..."
(review of A PURSE TO DIE FOR, first in the Fashionation with Mystery series)

Amazon, Kobo, iTunes, and all the usual places. Here it is, the cutest cover ever!  Links are below:

Here are the links:

Wednesday 7 October 2015


By Melodie Campbell

“Why would you ever want to write about murder?” said the horrified relative.  “Why not write a nice little romance?”

Why indeed?

As I quickly added another relative to kill in my next book (you would be shocked how often that happens….) it occurred to me that there were many reasons to write about murder. 

It’s the challenge of creating the clever puzzle.  Plotting a mystery is like playing a chess game.  You always have to think several moves ahead.  Your reader is begging you to challenge them, and is working to beat you – meaning to guess the killer before your detective does - to the end.

It’s plot driven.  Murder mysteries start with action – a murder.  Yes, characterization is important, and particularly motivation.  But murder is by nature an action, and thus something happens in the book you are writing.  And quite often, it happens again and again.It’s important.  This is murder, after all.  We’re not talking about a simple threat or theft.  A lot is at stake.  Murder is the final act.  The worst that can happen.  The end of it all.

It’s a place to put all your darkest fantasies.  There are a few people I’ve wanted to kill in my life.  They did me wrong.  And while I do have a bit of a reputation for recklessness, I value my freedom more.  So what I can’t do in reality, I relish doing in fiction.

Finally – it’s fun. This is the part I don’t say in mixed company (meaning non-writers and relatives.)  I can’t explain exactly why it’s fun – you’ll have to trust me on this part.  But plotting to do away with characters in highly original ways is a real power trip.  I’m smiling just thinking about it.

Of course, I can understand where some of the relative angst comes from.  In A PURSE TO DIE FOR, a gathering of relatives for a funeral results in the death of one or two. 

In THE GODDAUGHTER’S REVENGE, a cousin of Gina’s does her wrong.  So she does him back, in a particularly crafty and oh-so-satisfying way.

It was entirely accidental, that use of relatives.  Honest.  I wasn’t thinking of anyone in particular.
 Not much I wasn’t.

Do you ever kill off real people in your fiction?  Under a different name, of course! 

Thursday 1 October 2015

Renovation? Aggravation! (comedy reprinted from the places that pay me)

I wanted to buy a new front door the other day.  This has become necessary because the old front door is no longer functioning as a door in the usual sense.  'Wind Tunnel' or 'Interstate highway for neighbourhood field mice' might be a better description.

But as always, things have changed in the world of destruction and aggravation aka construction and renovation.  Apparently you can’t buy a door anymore.  They don’t make them, according to the sales clerk (excuse me… 'Customer Service Associate.')  Apparently you now buy an 'Entry System.'

“But I already have an Entry System,”  I explained.  “The mice are entering all the time.  What I want is something to keep them out.  Like a door.”

“Let me show you how this works,” he offered.  He then demonstrated how to insert a key in the lock and turn the doorknob to activate the Entry System.  Not unlike my old door, in fact.  I pointed this out.

“But this is a great improvement,” he argued.  “See?  It’s Pre-hung.”

‘Pre-hung' – for construction illiterates – does not mean you have a hunky construction worker standing by, ready and willing.  Nope.  Pre-hung means that you don’t have to undo three hinges to slip the old door off and install the new door.  Instead, the new door already comes with a frame (and sometimes side windows) attached.  To install, you simply demolish the old door frame and rebuild the entire entranceway to fit the new pre-hung frame.  It requires 3 men and a boy, and at least two weeks of labour and Starbuck's runs.  But you don’t have to touch those pesky hinges, which is a big improvement.

Not surprisingly, Entry Systems cost a lot more than mere doors.  This, I pointed out, was not an improvement.

One more thing bothers me about all this fancy renaming business.  If they insist on calling doors ‘Entry Systems,’ just what are we going to end up calling toilets?  Exit Systems?