Friday, March 29, 2013

Life With Elizabeth

No, not me, but a small gem of TV history just recently discovered on Netflix.  Starring Betty White and from the early 1950’s it contains some side-splitting moments with Betty White as a newly-wed.  Proof once again that comedy doesn't need to be vulgar and obscene.  To quote from Amazon  "Unlike the format of normal sitcoms, LWE did not feature a single narrative, rather several 'incidents' (sort of "A Day in the Life of Elizabeth"), hosted and narrated by Jack Narz. Betty White glows as Elizabeth with fine support from Del Moore as patient husband Alvin. LIFE WITH ELIZABETH ran for three years in syndication. Simple, homely domestic comedy."      If you get the opportunity do watch it and know that, as with I Love Lucy, the best comedy is timeless.

Being Good Friday, the morning was spent attending a Passion Play, put on by Kitchener Holy Trinity Church.  The first time I've been to that church and was curious to see what their presentation would entail.  It didn't disappoint, and while a low key production and simply presented, the effect was moving and very appropriate to the day.  Well done to all involved -  I plan to be back on Sunday.  Then lunch afterwards  and here it is almost five hours later and no hunger pangs to trigger something for supper.

I have letter number three now from grandson Michael as our pen pal relationship develops. He seems to be enjoying it, and I know that I certainly am.  In this most recent note he says he can’t believe he’s ten years old now.  Well, guess what…neither can I!

Hope you're enjoying Pam’s interviews – if you could see the list she has lined up!  When she was still my co-worker, one of her strengths was conducting informal ‘getting to know you’ interviews for the monthly newsletter that I produce.  And even though she’s been retired nearly two years now, printed copies of those interviews still decorate the wall.

We've been working on a short story for a few weeks in anticipation of the upcoming Scene of the Crime in August, and did the first thousand words in tandem, but then at my suggestion we branched out and finished the story independently.   Earlier this week we swapped our finished tales and how very interesting to see how different we treated the ending!   Next Saturday we plan to spend the day in Jamie Tremain mode and see how we want to integrate these endings into one.

I leave you with this whimsical reminder that it really is Spring and send Easter wishes your way.


Monday, March 25, 2013

Happy Monday All

We’re delighted to have as our guest today the irrepressible Melodie Campbell. Melodie can always make us laugh so sit back and enjoy hearing from Ontario’s answer to Lucille Ball.

 Pam:   Writers are a multi-faceted group with their finger in every pie.
 What’s your favourite pie? Writing novels, college instructor, housework, walking the dog, stand up comedian or the (top staff thingy) you do for Crime Writers Canada?

Melodie: Meeting the imaginary men who appear in my novels. (What – that wasn’t a choice?)  I like writing novels. No, that’s a lie. I like having the novel written. The process is darn hard work.
But mainly, I love writing comedy. It’s my default, always. For instance, today I was feeling rather delinquent. You know that feeling you got in high school, when you were so antsy, you couldn’t settle to anything? That’s the way I was this morning, so naturally I wrote a comedy column.

 Pam:  ‘Social Media’? Is it helpful or a hindrance to writers, and is a platform really necessary to sell a book?

Melodie: It’s absolutely essential, whether we like it or not. All publishers want you to be hooked up with websites, blogs, Facebook and twitter, and often write it into your contract. The 90s are over, alas. I miss them. Now authors are expected to do a lot of marketing, and social media allows you to do that with little to no cost.
Look at it this way. If you get with a traditional publisher, your book might be in Chapters for two months. If you’re selling well, maybe six. (I’ve been there six and am biting my fingernails now.) So how will you sell books when you novel is off the shelves?
Amazon and the other online sellers allow our books a much longer lifetime. By promoting on social media, we can reach a large audience that buys books that way.

Pam:  With the changes in the publishing world today many writers have added their books to the eBook format. Do you believe the e book business will take over traditional books or is there room for both?

Melodie: Room for both.  All my books are both print and ebook. Personally, I love the feel of a real book in my hand. I love the scent of the glue (you’ll delete that, right?) I’m very tactile. I guess that is evident from my Rowena series (say no more, say no more.) But I am grateful for ebooks because they allow my work to be read by a much larger audience. The price difference is substantial. If given a choice, I will always pick a real book. I decorate with books. They are in every room in my house.

Pam:  I have only one question about this book. Do they have a contract out on you yet?


"Hilarious" (Ellery Queen Magazine review)
"Campbell's comic caper is just right for Janet Evanovich fans.  Wacky family connections and snappy dialog make it impossible not to laugh."  Library Journal review of The Goddaughter

Melodie: No need. They already know me well. My family is Sicilian. I had to wait for some of them to die before I could write this series.

Pam:   Joking aside, it’s a very funny book and I’m looking forward to reading the sequel “The Goddaughter’s Revenge” when it’s published in the fall. What comedian do you most admire?

Melodie: So many. Of the old masters: Lucille Ball, Phyllis Diller. Women who were willing to make fools of themselves in public to get a laugh – I can so relate to them. These women paved the way for my generation.
Columnists: Dave Barry, Erma Bombeck
Of the fiction writers: Janet Evanovich, Lisa Lutz, Douglas Adams.

Let me explain: We moved a lot when I was young. I was in four different high schools. Being a smart-mouth was the way I coped. I found that being the class clown got you liked. So it was really a means of self-preservation.
Even as a pre-teen, I always looked for the funny. I listened to what others would say to see if I could find a way to make a good-natured joke out of it. Never sarcasm. Sarcasm hurts. I went for self-deprecating humour mostly. People love to laugh with you.

Pam:  Melodie, your dog is called Frankenpoodle. You have written of his exploits on FB; how he would like to play with a coyote on the other side of the fence in your backyard etc. How did he come by his name and does he have a death wish?

Melodie: This is a dog that wouldn’t stop growing. Standard poodles must be at least 15 inches at the shoulder.  Frankenpoodle is double that. Obviously, if Dr. Frankenstein were creating a poodle, this is what he would have come up with. We call him a giraffe in a dog suit. Other people have asked if he was crossed with a great dane. A dog this big is rather intimidating. Luckily, he’s a gentle giant with really big teeth.

Pam:  “A Purse to Die For” (Imajin books) was co-authored with Cynthia St-Pierre. Tell us about that experience. Do you mind sharing control of your work and will you collaborate again?

Melodie: Yes and Yes. I don’t think I could share my other two series, Rowena and Goddaughter. They are vehicles for my comedy.  But Cindy and I came up with the Fashionation series together, and developed the characters together.
We wrote sequentially. It was great fun seeing what Cindy would come up with, and then figuring out how I could carry it on. Then we had the hard work of making it seamless. But we’re starting another novel, with the working title of A Killer Necklace. So it was a good experience we want to repeat.

Pam:  Your time travel book “Rowena Through the Wall” is a romantic comedy. It has been so well received you’ve written a sequel “Rowena and the Dark Lord” to be released in April.  What gives you the most pleasure to write? Time travel or comedy/farce, by yourself or with a co-author?

Melodie:  All of it. Anything that has comedy in it. Oh, and sex.  Did I say that out loud?

Pam:  You have been teaching writing for many years. What is the most important lesson for aspiring authors to learn?

Melodie: That writing is hard work. I can’t emphasize it enough. We all think it should be easier. But it can’t be easy to create something new that the world has never seen before.
I tell my students to expect this to feel like work. And maybe on some days, it won’t seem like work. Those are the grand days.

Pam:  With two books coming out this year, your work with Crime Writers of Canada, teaching and other projects, what do you do for Melodie when you find some time?

Melodie: I like eating. And drinking coffee. And Viking Warlords.
No, seriously. The most fun of all is meeting with other writers. They are the most interesting people in the world because they are always using their minds.

Thanks Melodie. We‘ve enjoyed speaking with you today. As you are my neighbor in Oakville I’d appreciate a heads up on the coyote situation. Anytime Frankenpoodle has his sights on one I’d like to know about it! 
Good luck with your books and come again soon.
Pam and Liz 

Melodie Campbell     

Melodie Campbell experienced a personal best this year when Library Digest compared her to Janet Evanovich.

Melodie got her start writing comedy (stand-up and columns.)  In1999, she opened the Canadian Humour Conference.  She has over 200 publications including 100 comedy credits, 40 short stories and 4 novels. Her fifth novel, a mob caper entitled The Goddaughter’s Revenge (Orca Books), will be released Oct. 1. She has won 6 awards for fiction, and was a finalist for both the 2012 Derringer and Arthur Ellis Awards. By day, she is the highly proper Executive Director of Crime Writers of Canada.

“Impossible not to laugh” Library Digest

“Hot and hilarious!” Midwest Book Review


Friday, March 8, 2013

March Break and Migration

Although the snow is still on the ground it feels like spring. Robin’s have been spied, and shoots of green are pushing up through the snow.  The Canada geese appear confused as hundreds of them are in Chevron formation as they decide which direction to go readying for the big migration. I love the sound of hundreds of geese honking.

Not all the geese leave on migration and many stay behind to flood our park and green space as they search for food. Guess what they leave behind?  Canadians have a love/hate relationship with these magnificent birds, but I think its Canada at its finest.

This w/e is the start of the March break for my grandchildren. I have been talked into maybe going BOWLING!! And then there is lunch at Mc Donald’s etc. I think I would rather chew glass than bowl but at least the coffee is not too bad at Micky D’s. Yes, I know some of the lingo and it is their break from school so grandma will go along with it.

Next w/e we’ve been invited to Kincardine on Lake Huron for a spot of snowmobiling.  If the snow has melted the men in the party will go to a hockey game. My husband is taking his pool cue hoping he can fit in a game. That’s the boys taken care of so my friend and I will shop until we drop (mainly yarn stores as we are avid knitters) and every book store we can find on the Lake Huron coastline. Just being away in a lovely farmhouse with good friends should set me up for spring. The three hour drive there and back gives me ample time to scribble notes on a short story or the next manuscript we have tentatively started.

I’ve finished an interview with ‘Funny Girl’ Melodie Campbell. I’ll be posting this creative and funny lady’s answers to my questions on March 25th. The last week of each month I hope to have an interesting and informative interview from Canada’s many great crime writers.

A date for a collaboration day with Liz is in the works at the beginning of April. I enjoy the face to face and we need to button down a few things that only a meeting can do.
Enjoy the March break all you mummy’s and daddy’s as the wee ones grow up very fast.

Talk soon,

Saturday, March 2, 2013

Captain Underpants meets Origami Yoda

March – the calendar this month has lots of days marked for birthday observances.  Two grandsons, a daughter in law, and a special friend who lives in Florida, plus my godmother, sister-in-law and others at work.

My oldest grandson enters the double-digit era next week.  Michael is my pen-pal as mentioned in an earlier blog – so far we've exchanged two letters.  With more to come I hope!   He’s also a great reader and I love to encourage that whenever I have the chance.  So my thought this year was to take him and his younger brother to my local Chapters and have them pick out their own books for their birthdays.  Apparently Captain Underpants is a hit with young Noah – who knew?  And Michael chose The Strange Case of Origami Yoda.  He seems to like stories with a mystery theme – wonder where he might get that from?   I’ll certainly encourage reading among all of my grandchildren every chance I get.

After Chapters, we enjoyed lunch at Pizza Hut, accompanied by a good friend of mine.

Pam and I want to enter a short story contest as she mentioned below and after discussing a handful of scenarios have decided on the theme of our story.  I woke yesterday morning brimming with ideas and had to rush to jot them down before I forgot.  This morning, over breakfast, I began working on the first draft – so far about 700 words.  Having worked and re-worked so long on Body Perfect I find I’m really energized to be creating something new and I think Pam is of like mind.  I’m waiting to hear her thoughts on what’s been penned so far.

With the beginning of March, my thoughts turn to the approach of spring.  Although this month can be treacherously deceptive, I choose to be optimistic and believe each snow fall will be the last.

Next weekend will see the family get together to celebrate Michael and Noah’s birthdays – only 9 days apart.  Always a good time to catch up with everyone and enjoy being with each other.  In the meantime, there are stories to write and books to read!



Friday, March 1, 2013

Confessions of a Mall Walker

I said mall walker not the other kind!

I was reluctant to join the 50-100 age group that religiously walk indoors at the local mall, either by the orders of their doctors for the betterment of their health or because they like the company.
Since retiring 18months ago I was increasingly sedentary. If I was not parked at the computer writing I was sitting by the fire reading, knitting or watching television. Occasionally I do some dusting! I decided to start the New Year by getting back to walking for fun and relaxation; don’t forget health as according to the old adage.. you gotta use or lose it.

I have done my share of power walking. I trained at the local sports store and completed two half marathons about seven years ago. I was flat and fit and had loads of energy.  Then it was winter. I really do not like cold and snow. The gym has no appeal for me so my friend Michele and I have started with the oldies walking three mornings a week.

What’s not to like? Its 7:30 am and -13degrees, -22 with the wind chill outside. Inside the temperature is controlled and a skylight overhead. Michele and I solve the problems of the world as we chat and check the shop windows for the new spring fashions. We’re not breaking records on the measured path. We walk two miles and when the lure of coffee reaches us we head to Tim Horton’s for coffee and my favourite, oatmeal and berries. 

So it’s all good. I’m not back to my fighting weight but come spring and we start to walk outside we can crank it up a notch and walk further. In the meantime my new boyfriends ; the ones that say good morning to me every time we pass them going in the opposite direction, well, do their wives know they’re out?

Loads of new books are launching this spring. When I pick them up to read I will give a short review. I’ve just finished Lincoln and Child’s ‘Fever Dream’. WOW! Thrillers are new to me, and the tension is palpable. The next in the series I’ve just started; ‘Cold Vengeance’ preferably read in order.

Liz and I are working on a short story to be entered in a contest for ‘Scene of the Crime’ festival on Wolfe Island in August. We are really looking forward to attending this event. This contest is part of their program so we’ll keep you posted.

Talk soon,

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