Wednesday 30 November 2016

Pre-Christmas SALE! Rowena Fantasy series and Fashionation Mystery series books are 99 cents!

You can see all my books on Amazon - check the link below!  

The following books are 99 cents at Amazon, Kobo, Smashwords and Googleplay:

Rowena Through the Wall
Rowena and the Dark Lord
Rowena and the Viking Warlord
A Purse to Die For
A Killer Necklace
Code Name: Gypsy Moth

Here's how to get them through Amazon:

Saturday 26 November 2016

Want Street Cred? Write for Magazines!

by Melodie Campbell

Many readers here know I teach Crafting a Novel at Sheridan College in Suburban Toronto.  (I started teaching fiction writing there before the wheel was invented.  We had to push cars uphill both ways to get them to campus...okay, I'll stop now.)

Students often ask me how to get a novel published.  I say: "Walk out of this classroom right now and become a media personality."

Everyone in the class laughs.  But it's no laughing matter, really.  Most of the bestselling crime authors in Canada were media personalities first.  It's no coincidence.  Being a newspaper or television 'name' gives one a huge visibility advantage.  You leap the slush pile.  And chances are, you know someone who knows someone in publishing.

But launching a new career doesn't work for all of us, particularly if we are mid-career or soon to qualify for senior's discounts.  (Of course, you could still murder someone and become a celebrity.  I have a few names handy, if you are looking for a media-worthy victim...)

In order for a publisher to buy your book, they have to read it first.  I know at least one publishing house that receives 10,000 manuscripts a month.  How in Hellsville can you possibly get noticed in that slush pile?

Here's how:  Develop street cred by publishing with magazines!

How I got my start:

In 1989, at the tender age of twenty plus n, I won a Canadian Living Magazine fiction contest.  (Canadian Living is one of the two notable women's magazines in Canada. Big circulation.)  After that, I pitched to Star Magazine (yup, the tabloid) listing the Canadian Living credit in my cover letter.  They said, "Oh look.  A Canadian.  How quaint.  See how she spells humour."  (I'm paraphrasing.)  Anyways, Star published several of my short shorts in the 90s.  The Canadian Living credit got me in the door.

With several Star Mag credits under my belt (weird term, that - I mean, think of what is under your belt) I went to Alfred Hitchcock's Mystery Magazine.  They liked the Star credits and published some of my stories.  Then I got a several-story contract with ComputorEdge.

So ten years ago, when I had a novel to flog, I already had 24 short story publications in commercial magazines.  That set me apart from everyone else clawing to get in the door.

Writing for magazines worked to launch my author career.  I'm now with two traditional publishers and my 11th book (The Bootlegger's Goddaughter - phew! Got that in) comes out in February.

Writing for magazines tells a publisher several things:

1.  You write commercially salable stories.  This is important for book publishers.  If you have published in commercial magazines, it tells a publisher that someone else has already paid you for your fiction.  They deemed your obviously brilliant stores worthy of a wide enough audience to justify putting their money into publishing them.  It's much like the concept of 'peer review' in the academic world.

2.  You accept editing.  A magazine writer (fiction or nonfiction) is used to an editor making changes to their work.  It's part of the game.  If you have been published many times in magazines, then a novel publisher knows you are probably going to be cool with editing.  (Okay, maybe not cool, but you've learned how to hold back rage-fueled comments such as "Gob-sucking fecking idiot! It was perfect before you mucked with it."

3.  You work to deadline.  Magazines and newspapers have tight deadlines.  Miss your deadline, and you're toast.  Novel publishers are similarly addicted to deadlines.  Something to do with having booked a print run long in advance, for one thing.  So they want authors who will get their damned manuscripts in on time.

Here's something to watch out for if you are going to write for magazines:

Kill Fee
If you are publishing with a major magazine, negotiate a 'kill fee.'  (This doesn't mean you get to kill the publisher if they don't print your story.)  A kill fee is something you get if the mag sends you a contract to publish your story or article, and then doesn't publish it.  Usually a kill fee is about half the amount you would be paid if they had printed it.

Why wouldn't they print your story after they agree to buy it?  Sometimes a publisher or editorial big wig leaves and the new big wig taking over will have a different vision for the mag.  Sometimes a mag will go under before they actually print the issue with your story.  That happened to me with a fairly well-known women's mag.  I got the kill fee, and the rights back. I was able to sell the story to another magazine.

Which brings me to a final point:  Note the rights you are selling.  Many mags here want "First North American Serial Rights."  This means they have the right to publish the story for the first time in North America, in all versions of their magazine.  (For instance, some magazines in Canada publish both English and French versions.)  But what happens after that?  When do rights return to you?  Two years after publication? (Very common.)  Or never?  Are they buying 'All Rights?"  It's good to get rights back, because then you can have the story reprinted in an anthology someday.  Make sure your contract stipulates which rights they are buying.

Of course, I always say, if they pay me enough, they can keep all rights, dress them in furs and jewelry, and walk them down Main Street.  I have the same attitude re film companies that might want to swoop up my novels for movies.

Melodie Campbell writes the multi-award-winning Goddaughter series of mob comedies, starting with The Goddaughter.  It features a different kind of 'kill fee.'

Thursday 24 November 2016

Happy American Thanksgiving! I'm Grateful you're reading this blog

Recently, a chronically mopey person asked me “Why are you so cheerful all the time?”  It was stated like a criticism.  And it got me thinking.

Several years ago, I was in a serious car accident.  I was simply in the wrong place at the wrong time.  A young girl with a two-week old driver’s license lost control of her car and hit me head on. 

I didn’t walk away from it; it took me two years to walk without canes.  Even with extensive rehab, that collision changed my life.  I could no longer go hiking.  I could no longer dance Flamenco.  I have arthritis in every bone that was broken.

Around that time, my best friend Ruth died of MS.  She had been battling the illness since she was 14. 

This was a devastating, life-altering time in my life.  I mourned my friend deeply.  I lost a lot of the physical agility that defined me.  It was tempting to wallow in self-pity.

I had a choice. I could succumb to the darkness.  And sometimes I did.  But then a voice started in my head. 

Be grateful that you lived through the accident.  Be grateful that it didn’t disfigure your face.  A young man in the other car went through the windshield.  You didn’t. 

Be grateful that you can walk without a cane now.  It could have been so much worse.

As I grow older, I have joined the club that enthusiastically bitches about “yet another damned thing” that happens to you as you age.

But it is good-natured bitching.  Because we in that club are grateful to be growing older.  We are here to bitch about it.  So many of our generation aren’t.

I’m cheerful because I’m here to live another day.  It’s as simple as that.  And if my being cheerful, and funny, and maybe even a bit silly can make another person smile, then we’re all better off.

Happy Thanksgiving to my American Friends!  I'm grateful you read this blog.

Postscript:  Another version of “Why are you so cheerful” that I receive occasionally is “Why don’t you write something serious instead of all those humorous books.”  Again, this is stated like a criticism.

My answer is simple.  Of course I could write more serious fare (and in fact, I have.  See my award-winning short stories, such as Hook, Line and Sinker.)  But truly, there are sufficient sources of dismal fiction and alarming news in the world. I would prefer to bring smiles to readers’ faces. 

Friday 18 November 2016

The Worst of 'Morticia's Massage Parlour and Advice Academy'

You asked for it - now live with it!  More from Morticia (reprinted with permission)

Get in shape with BODIES BY MORTICIA
...Select yours today!

Dear Morticia;
My wife can't go a day without playing bingo.  What's your impression of a woman like that?
Signed Fed Up

Dear Fed;
Sorry, I don't do impressions.  This is an advice column.

Dear Morticia;
My husband works shifts and comes home so tired he can barely carry on a conversation.  How can I keep him from falling asleep on me?
Signed, Frustrated

Dear Frust;
Push him off.  Next...

Dear Morticia;
Are you busy this weekend?  Party at my house - I finally got rid of my parents!
Signed, Home Alone

Dear Home;
That's nice.  Did you manage to make it look like an accident?

Dear Morticia;
My mother and I read your advice column every month and we are appalled by the ridiculous advice you give.  In fact, we can't believe you actually get paid to produce this kind of trashy garbage on a regular basis.
Signed Disgusted in Durham

Dear Gus;
Wait a mean they're supposed to pay ME?

Morticia will return to these pages if somebody doesn't kill her off first.

Melodie Campbell writes funny books. Please buy them, so she can spend her time writing more silly comedy.

Monday 14 November 2016

Handbags and Crime! A great combo...

A PURSE TO DIE FOR is featured on Vicki Batman's fun blogsite today!  Check out my post there, and also get yourself introduced to another author of funny romantic mysteries....
Here's the link:
And here's a snip from the post:

Friday 4 November 2016

Introducing (for the second time)...Morticia's Massage Parlour and Free Advice Academy

Many thanks to those demented people who asked for more of Morticia

Brought to you by:  MORTICIA & CO., Distributors of Aftermarket Body Parts.

Dear Morticia;
My husband was married once before.  When he passes on, would it be appropriate to bury him beside his first wife?
Signed Planning Ahead

Dear Head;
Only if she's dead first.

Dear Morticia;
I keep asking my boss for a raise, but he keeps saying no.  As a last resort, I'm thinking of offering him my body.  Think it will work?
Signed Blondie in Bowmanville

Dear Blondie;
Gee, I don't know.  Chances are he has a perfectly good body of his own.

Dear Morticia;
My boyfriend and I won a hundred thousand dollars in a lottery.  I want to buy a house and he wants to buy a 427 AC Cobra four speed.  What should we do?
Signed Homeless

Dear Less;
Recent reports suggest that it is very difficult if not impossible to prepare a proper meal on a 427 engine block.  On the other hand, most houses built today can't travel at more than 2 miles per hours.  Tell you what.  Forward the winnings to my address and I'll do a test run for ya.

Dear Morticia;
What is the quickest way to a woman's heart?
No Don Juan

Dear No Don;
Zippered sweaters, although wrap-around blouses run a close second.

 Morticia writes funny novels under the pen name of Melodie Campbell, who has over 100 comedy credits, 10 novels and 40 short stories.  Buy her books, and then maybe she won't have to appear here.