Saturday 23 February 2019

Endings: You MUST satisfy the Reader!

On Sleuthsayers today, with the following post, repeated here for my regular readers:

By Melodie Campbell (Bad Girl)

“Your first page sells the book.  Your last page sells the next book.”  Mickey Spillane

In all my classes and workshops, we talk about satisfying the reader.  As authors we make a ‘promise to the reader’.  We establish this promise in the first few pages and chapters.  Who will this story be about?  What genre?  Is it romance, mystery, thriller, western or one of the others?  Readers are attached to different genres, whether we authors like it or not.  We have to be aware that when we promise something, we need to fulfill it.

As an example: a thing that drives me crazy is when books are promoted as mysteries, and they are really thrillers.  I like murder mysteries; my favourite book is an intelligent whodunit, with diabolically clever plotting.  In a thriller, the plot usually centres on a character in jeopardy.  Not the same. 

As authors, we want to satisfy the reader, and that is exactly what Mickey Spillane was getting at in the quote above.  To do this, we need to know what the reader expects.  Here’s the handout I use in class to explain the different expectations in the main genres of fiction.  (Note: there are always exceptions.)


ROMANCE:  The man and woman will come together to have a HEA (happy ever after) after surmounting great obstacles. 

MYSTERY/Suspense:  In a whodunit, the ending will reveal the killer.  In a thriller, the protagonist will escape the danger.  All loose ends will be tied up.  Justice will be seen to be done in some manner.  (This does not mean that the law will be satisfied.  We’re all about justice here, and the most interesting stories often have characters acting outside the law to achieve justice.  In mystery/suspense books you probably have the most opportunity for gray.)

FANTASY/Sci-Fi:  The battle will be won for now, but the war may continue in future books.  You should give your characters a HFN (happy for now) – at least a short amount of time to enjoy their

WESTERN:  The good guy will win.  Simple as that.

ACTION-ADVENTURE:  The Bond-clone will survive and triumph.  Sometimes the bad guy will get away to allow for a future story.

HORROR:  Usually, the protagonist will survive.  If not, he will usually die heroically saving others. Hope is key.  If readers have lost hope, they will stop reading.

LITERARY:  Again, the reader must be satisfied by the end of the story.  The protagonist will grow from the challenge.  He/she will probably be faced with difficult choices, and by the end of the story, the choice will be made.  In other stories, it may be that by the end of the story the protagonist discovers something she has been seeking: i.e. The Progress of Love by Alice Munro

ENDINGS – The argument against using real life for your plot. (Why things that really happened to you don’t make good novels.)

       “I am always telling my writing students that the anecdotes that make up their own lives, no matter how heart-wrenching they may have been for their subjects, are not in themselves stories.  Stories have endings.  Endings are contrived.  In order to come up with a great ending, you’re probably going to have to make something up, something that didn’t actually happen.  Autobiographical fiction can never do these things, because our lives contain few endings or even resolutions of any kind.”   Russell Smith

Remember what we do: Fiction authors write about things that never happened and people who don’t exist.  Remember what fiction writers must provide:  The ending must satisfy the reader.

So:  Don’t tell a publisher that your book/short story is based on real life.  The publisher doesn’t care. They are only looking for a good story.

Melodie Campbell is the author of the multi-award-winning Goddaughter series.  Book 6, The Goddaughter Does Vegas, is now available at all the usual suspects.


Thursday 21 February 2019

Ever Wonder how Authors get paid for library reads? (Here's the scoop in Canada)

Yes, libraries pay the publisher to have a copy of our book in their library.  But usually, they get the book from the publisher at half price.

Since most authors get paid 10% of cover, we only see $1 for a $10 book.  If that book is sold for half price, we only get 50 cents a book. 

But what if that book is read by 50 people in a library?  And I was only paid 50 cents of royalty for that book?   Doesn't seem fair, does it.

For those who don't know, one of the ways authors get paid in Canada is through the Canada Council tally of which books are in a random 7 libraries across Canada. They do this once a year. We get paid per book hit in those libraries.

REALLY nice to see all 7 Orca books (the Goddaughter series and others) in all 7 PLR selected libraries (plus a few other books.) Yay PLR cheques!  They can make all the difference to an author.

 You can make a difference to authors too.  If you love an author's books, tell her via email, or on her website.  If you can afford to, buy her books.  If you can't afford to, ask your local library to bring them in.  Let me know that you did, and I'll be very grateful.

SEE Book page for link

Friday 15 February 2019

BEST COVER EVER! Crime Club, from Orca Soundings, out Aug. 29

Book 15 Rocks!  (The cover, that is.)

You love all your book babies.  But I have a particular love for this YA crime book, coming out in August.


Two years ago, I contributed  a "Name that Character" item to the Burlington Humane Society gala silent auction.  The winner gave us all a grin, when he asked if I could include his pug Wolfgang in a book.

Well, readers, I made Wolfgang a key character - a supporting actor, in fact - in Crime Club!  And what fun he is.

Then my publisher, Orca Books, gave Wolfgang even more promo by putting him on the cover.

The money raised from the character name donation went to support needy animals.  I couldn't be happier about that.  A small ray of sunshine in the darkest winter of my life.

Out Aug. 29 from all the usual suspects, and available for preorder from Amazon now.

Tuesday 5 February 2019

On Orca Blog today, with a Peek behind the Screen of where the ideas come from for the Goddaughter series (here's the post for my regular readers)

Author Feature: Melodie Campbell

In The Goddaughter Does Vegas, Gina Gallo is a mob goddaughter who doesn’t want to be one. She’s left her loopy family behind to elope with Pete to Vegas. Except that eloping may be a mortal sin in an Italian family. Between that and some weird deliveries and suitors, Gina’s nerves are frayed. Vegas is full of great acts, but one impersonation is real: Gina has a crime-committing double whose activities are making Gina front-page news. Gina has to track down this fiendish fraud before the police catch up with her. And, of course, cousin Nico is along for the ride.

Another madcap adventure for the lovable Gallo cousins that proves the rule “Why should things go right when they can go wrong?”

What is the best surprise you had in the process of writing this book?

That I could turn a truly awful personal experience into a very funny book! Two years ago, my Amazon account was hacked. It was a nightmare. But that gave me the idea for The Goddaughter Does Vegas, where first her Amazon account is hacked, and then Gina’s whole identity is stolen! When life gives you lemons…write books from the experience.

Do you know who you would want to play your protagonist in a movie? 

Me. Oh wait. I’m too old : )
What question would you pose to readers of your book?

What would you do if you were Gina? You’re supposed to love and support your family, but what if your family was this one?

Is there a question that a reader has asked you that surprised you or stood out to you?

Have you ever met a member of the mob? (Oh yes, I get asked that all the time!) Short Answer: Yes. Long Answer: I had to wait until certain relatives died before I could write these books. ‘Nuff said.

What types of conversations do you hope will come out of your book?

I write comedies, so my hope is that people reading my book will have great fun and be inspired to keep reading all sorts of books for enjoyment. That’s what I want. To help reluctant readers discover the love of reading, as I did.

The Goddaughter Does Vegas is available now!
Melodie Campbell is the award-winning author of several works of fiction. Melodie lives in Oakville, Ontario. For more information, visit

Grateful Pre-pub reviews for THE GODDAUGHTER DOES VEGAS

Many thanks to the early reviewers at Library Thing, who posted eleven 4 and 5 star reviews for THE GODDAUGHTER DOES VEGAS!  Thank you, whoever you are.  You have no idea how much this means to authors.

A sample: