Wednesday 28 September 2016

A New Ring of Hell for TELEMARKETERS

by Bad Girl
I don’t know about you, but I’m getting tired of telemarketing.  Not that I have anything against the telephone, per se.  Personally, I think Alexander Graham Bell deserves sainthood.  After all, without the phone, how would we ever know what our teenage daughters are doing?

My beef is that no matter when a teenage daughter walks away from a phone, it inevitably rings and there’s a salesperson on the other end.  In fact, the only time I ever get a phone call these days is when somebody wants my money.

Salesperson:  “Hello!  Is this Mrs. Campbell?”

Me (Suspicious. No one calls me Mrs. Campbell):  “Who is this?”

Salesperson:  “How are you tonight?”

Me:  “Are you selling something?”

Salesperson:  “Me?  Ha ha.  Oh no.  Don’t be ridiculous.  Does your house have aluminum siding?”

Me:  “I knew it.

Salesperson:  “Duct cleaning?  New windows?  Lawn spray?”

Me:  “I live in a tent.”

Salesperson:  “INSURANCE! You need insurance. Let me tell you about our extended fire policy for teepees-"

Me:  (click)

The phone rings again.

Second Salesperson:  “Is this the Campbell residence?”

Me:  “No, you dolt.  When was the last time you talked to a building?”

Second Salesperson:  “And how are you tonight?”

Me:  “I’m going to get a gun.”

Second Salesperson:  “Well, you are going to feel even better.  Because YOU have been especially chosen to receive this beautiful set of genuine rat bone steak knives, simply by answering a few questions for this totally legitimate and potentially useless marketing survey which they are paying me diddleysquat to administer:  Do you have aluminum siding?”

Me:  “No. But do you sell guns?”

I am starting to fight back.  There is going to be a new ring of Hell built solely for the nameless carbon based life forms who call up poor homeowners in the dinner hour.  I am going to help build it.  In the meantime, in the grand tradition of the best defense being a good offense, here is my new technique:


Third Salesperson:  “I’m from the Wheelchair Volleyball Association.”

Me:  “Don’t be ridiculous.  Wheelchairs don’t play volleyball.”  (click)


Fourth Salesperson:  “Hello, is this Mrs. Campbell?”

Me (giggling insanely):  “Ollie, oh goody!  It’s another salesperson! You trace the call while I put the meat cleaver in the car-“


Thursday 22 September 2016

Hiding in the Garret – Seven Tips for writing novels while still gainfully employed

By Melodie Campbell (Bad Girl)

It’s a sad fact of life.  The gap between wanting to be an author, and actually becoming a published novelist is a huge crevice bridged by hard work and a lot of time.  Writing is a solitary job with no shortcut.  You become a writer by spending hours and hours alone in a room with your computer.

I wrote ten books in ten years, while working full time at an executive job.  People often ask me how I did it.  How?  How did I find the time?

It’s simple.  You have to make writing your hobby, your passion, and all you do in your spare time. 

Anyone can do it.  But it means making sacrifices.  Like it or not, if you want to be a published writer, and you don’t have anyone to support you financially while you write, time is going to be an issue. 

Writing takes time.  If you are going to write, you are going to have to give up something. Probably several somethings.

Here’s my list: 

1.  No television.  Those hours at night from 8-10 (or 10-12, if you have kids) are writing hours.

Okay, what do I truly mean by no television?  I allow myself one hour a day.  (Crime shows, of course!)  That’s it, on weekends too.  Sometimes I don’t take that hour. I write instead. 

2.  Forget the gym.  I know exercise is good for you.  But we have to make sacrifices, people!  I cut out every extracurricular activity that didn’t relate directly to writing.  No more hours at the gym. 

3.  Turn your cell phone OFF.  Until this year, I didn’t have a smart phone.  I had a dumb phone that just took calls.  Even now, when I write, the smart phone is in my purse in the hall.  Oh yeah – and I don’t pay for data on it.  This means, when I’m in a doctor’s waiting room, or on transit, I don’t surf the net.  I write. 

4.  Ignore those facebook alerts!  Turn them ALL off.  You can check your page at break time.  You don’t need to be notified for every post. 

5.  Make your vacation a writing vacation.  I cannot stress this enough.  If you are serious about becoming an author, then the prospect of two weeks with nothing to do but write should fill you with delight.  (If it fills you with anxiety, we have a problem.)
For me, there is no better vacation than going to a tiny villa in Arizona where there is fab weather but no resort distractions.  Going out for every meal.  And then coming back to sunny weather on the patio and writing.  And writing.  I get so much writing done on vacation.  It starts on the airplane. 

6.  Get a dog.  Yes, there is a tendency to overdo the author-recluse thing.  Having a dog will make you get outside for short walkie breaks (your new exercise.)  A dog will keep you company as you slog away at the computer.  And a dog is an essential audience for when you read your work out loud to test it.  My pooch thinks I’m talking/performing just for him.  Win-win. 

7.  Finally – and most important – collect friends who are writers.  As I look back on my writing career (27 years, 100 comedy credits, 12 novels, 40 short stories) I can see that my body of friends has changed over the years.  Most of my friends are fellow authors.  They encourage me.  Inspire me.  Rage with me.  Drink with me.  Most of all, they understand me.  Author-friends are the magic that keeps me writing.  God bless them.

Thursday 15 September 2016

Food as Weaponry, Part 1: A Savory Beef Stew Saves the Day!

"Is that a broadsword on your belt, or are you just glad to see me?"


"Hilarious"  (several twisted readers)


Okay!  I was challenged to come up with a recipe that relates to one of my novels.  So natch, it has to be Rowena.  The first book.  The one that put me on the bestseller list between Tom Clancy and Nora Roberts.

 In my comic time travel novel, Rowena Through the Wall, the heroine gets kidnapped ‘not once, but twice, dammit’.  And as the promo blurb says, The stakes get higher as the men get hotter!

So it’s no surprise that Rowena starts to fight back, and the real fun battle in this book is with food:

Nobody noticed Kendra reach casually for the cauldron on the stove.

            “Bollocks!"  Warm meat stew hit Ivan square in the chest and face, and me behind him.  “What the devil was that?”

            We went down in a slithery tangle of arms and legs, meat chunks and cooked carrots.  I gasped for breath and tried to get up on my knees, but the stew was everywhere, and I fell on my face.

The beef stew in question is a lovely French variety, with mushrooms, rosemary and Burgundy wine.  Shame to waste it on a food fight, but it did the trick.

 So for your next food fight, I recommend:

 Melodie’s Magical Beef Stew

 1 ½ -2 lbs sirloin (or stewing beef, if you want to cook it longer)

1/3 cup all purpose flour

¼ cup olive oil

1 sweet onion, chopped

20 oz beef stock

1½ cups red wine

3 T tomato paste

1 T Worcestershire sauce

2 tsp sugar

½ tsp dried rosemary

½ tsp ground marjoram

2 tsp salt (reduce or eliminate if stock contains salt)


1 cup cooked sliced baby carrots

2 cups cooked sliced baby potatoes

½ lb mushrooms, sliced


Dredge meat with flour.  In a large heavy saucepan over medium-high heat, heat oil; add meat and cook until browned all over.  Stir in onions; cook until onions are tender.  Add all ingredients ending at pepper.

Cook, uncovered, stirring often, until sauce is smooth and thickened.  Cover and reduce heat, and simmer until meat is tender (1/2 hour for sirloin, more for stewing beef).  Add carrots and potatoes.  Sauté mushrooms in a small amount of butter.  Add to pot.  Heat thoroughly and serve with fresh bread and the rest of the bottle of wine (if you haven’t slurped it all down by now).

 Use generously in food fights.

 Melodie Campbell got her start writing comedy, so it’s no surprise that editors have called her writing ‘wacky’ and ‘laugh out loud funny’.  She has over 200 publications, and has won 10 awards.  Melodie was invited into the Toronto Press Club in 1994.  There is no truth to the rumor that she once did a somersault off the Press Club billiard table.

 Melodie Campbell’s comic novel Rowena Through the Wall (Imajin Books) is available at Amazon