Sunday, September 29, 2013

Guest Blogger Melodie Campbell on Writing Screwball Crime Comedy

Writing Screwball Crime Comedy – and Loving It!

By Melodie Campbell

“I had the flu once.  It was terrible.  I couldn’t eat a thing for three hours.”

I hope you giggled at that line.  I think it’s one of my best.  And yes, I am a tad fond of eating.  In fact, you could list it as my major hobby.

My name is Melodie Campbell, and I write comedies.  (This is a self-help group, right?)  Sure I’d like to kick the habit and write a ‘real’ book with literary merit.
Okay, so that’s a lie.  Leave The Goddaughter’s Revenge behind?  Not write a sequel?  I’m starting to hyperventilate.  Actually, I love writing comedies.  It’s in my blood.


Some people are born beautiful.  But most of us aren’t and we look for ways to survive the slings and arrows of life.  Sometimes we choose to hide behind a mask.  That Greek Comedy mask was the one I picked way back.

As a means of self-preservation in the cruel world of teenagers, I looked for the ‘funny.’  More often than not, I made fun of myself.  This was easy to do.  I knew the target well and there was a wealth of material.  And it didn’t hurt anyone else, so people liked it.

When I left school and had a ‘real’ job, I started writing stand-up on the side.  I rarely delivered it – usually I wrote for others. That led to a regular newspaper humour column, and more.
So when it came to writing novels, I fell back into ‘safe mode’.  Write it funny.


Worse than chocolate and foreign Counts…  Comedy writers take a situation, and ask themselves ‘what’s the worst thing that could happen now?’  And then, what’s the funniest?


What’s the worst thing that could happen to TheGoddaughter when she is reluctantly recruited to carry hot gemstones over the border in the heel of her shoe?  Predictable would be: she gets caught at customs.  But I don’t want predictable.  I want funny.

Instead, the shoes get stolen. By a complete amateur! It’s embarrassing, that’s what it is. How is she going to keep this from her new boyfriend Pete, who thinks she’s gone clean? And what the heck is she going to tell her uncle, the crime boss?

Nothing, of course.  She’s going to steal them back.  Or die trying.

And hopefully the audience will die laughing.


Here are two ways to add comedy to your books:

1.       Make your basic plot funny. 
The Goddaughter books are an example of that. In THE GODDAUGHTER’S REVENGE (out Oct. 1) Gina must retrieve a number of fake rings from her best clients, before anyone finds out they are fake. This means masterminding a bunch of burglaries that go…well…wrong.
The basic plot is funny.

2.      Make a secondary character in your book funny. 
In Rowena and the Dark Lord, Val is a hereditary wizard who really wants to be a couturier dress designer. This leads to lots of zany comedy, as the book is set in a medieval land at war. “Oooh dear. Whatever have you done to your gown? It’s simply rags. And you should never wear that color. Not that I blame you, with all that Sargonia has to offer. Barbarians.”

But why do it?  Why does an otherwise sane individual write zany and some might say silly comedy, and risk the inevitable hit from critics who say your book is without great literary merit? 
We do it for readers. Hopefully, we’ve lightened their day with laughter, and in some cases given them a story they can escape into, over and over again. 


Melodie Campbell has over 200 publications and was a finalist for the 2012 Derringer, and both the 2012 and 2012 Arthur Ellis awards. She is the Executive Director of Crime Writers of Canada.

Library Journal says this about Melodie's third novel, The Goddaughter (Orca Books): "Campbell's crime caper is just right for Janet Evanovich fans.  Wacky family connections and snappy dialogue make it impossible not to laugh."


Gina Gallo would like nothing better than to run her jewelry shop.  Unfortunately, she’s also The Goddaughter, and, as she tells her new friend Pete, “you don’t get to choose your relatives.”  And you can’t avoid them when you live in Steeltown, and they more or less run the place.

When Gina is reluctantly recruited to carry hot gemstones across the border, the worst happens: they get stolen.  By a complete amateur!  It’s embarrassing, that’s what it is.  Pete and Gina have no choice but to steal them back, even though philandering politicians, shoe fetishists and a trio of inept goons stand in their way.  

It’s all in a day’s work, when you’re The Goddaughter.

Short Excerpt from THE GODDAUGHTER

We got through the border with no problem at all.  Of course, it`s much easier to get through borders without a semi-frozen dead body pretending to be asleep in the back seat.

Find Melodie's books on AMAZON - click HERE

Check out Melodie's Blog HERE 

Follow her on Twitter @MelodieCampbell

Wednesday, September 25, 2013

More Creepy Food

Here's some more creepy food, cakes this time (you can start planning now for Halloween!)

Monday, September 23, 2013

Recent Reads: Brethren Screen Judge Out

Not up to snuff (and I'm usually a loyal Grisham fan).  I gave up on page 108.  I found that I just didn't care about any of the characters.  Sorry!

WOW!  No wonder  this book is thought of as "The Bible"!  A tad repetitive, but crystal clear,  with an easygoing tone.  Definitely worth a read for ANY writer (or aspiring writer), not just those who are interested in screenplays.
I really liked the writing tone and style.  The voice is good, smooth and engaging.  But but but (I should point out here this book is NON-FICTION!) the real life Mr. Parker does one or two dingbat-ish things that make you want to smack him!  Still, it's an interesting tale, and it's well told.

Interesting premise, interesting thesis (though he wanders from it at times).  Many interesting case studies and/or anecdotes.  Notice that I said "interesting" three times here.  It's not compelling, it's not funny, it's not engaging... merely interesting... Hmmm...

Friday, September 20, 2013

My Maiden Voyage with Beta Readers

I've never before used Beta Readers.  In fact, until a couple of months ago, I didn't even know for sure what a Beta Reader was or was supposed to do.

Short explanation: Beta Readers are folks (often fellow writers, but not exclusively) who read your manuscript and give you feedback.  The feedback can take on just about any shape - from formatting to dialogue to plot to structure to punctuation, and everything in between.

A little while ago, I (nervously) sent the manuscript of Frisky Business to six people.  They all got back to me fairly quickly (which in itself was a very good sign.)  

Wow!  What a cool process this beta reading thing is!  The overall reactions were positive, very positive, and obviously that made me do a happy dance!  Yay!  

But, despite the loads of good karma these six people gave me, they also offered criticism - constructive, well-intended criticism.  

I'm so very glad they did!!!

As I read through their comments, I found myself nodding in agreement.  I thought to myself: "Yes... Good point!   ...My gawd, he's right!   ...Wow, her suggestion is terrific!" and so on.  

I can honestly say that there wasn't one point raised by a single one of them that I disagreed with.  So, revisions are being made, and Frisky Business will be a better book because of going through this process!

It's a good feeling to try something new and to have it work out so well, so satisfyingly.  That's probably because I was smart enough to choose good Beta Readers.

Thursday, September 19, 2013

Sasha TV Update...

Hey Folks,

Quite some time ago, I shared the awesome news that the Sasha Jackson Mysteries had been optioned for development as a TV series.  I haven’t said much about it since that original announcement way back when, and many of you have been asking about the status, so here’s an update...

In short, the TV world is a world of “hurry up and wait”!  I’m okay with that because it’s still progress, albeit slow-moving progress.  And you know what they say:  No news is good news. 

Initially, the Sasha Jackson PI books were optioned for development by Lock and Load Productions.  A short while later, Lock and Load signed an agreement for an option to shop with Nightingale Productions.  

Together, they sought and found people to join in on the project, people such as a show-runner and a head writer, etc. etc. etc.  I like the team they've put together - but I can't give names just yet... suffice to say, they have good cred!   

Once that was accomplished, the team put together a package to present to the TV Folks.  What’s happening now is that Nightingale (in tandem with Lock and Load) have been shopping the series, which means they have been meeting with, and pitching it to, various broadcasters. 

Early feedback re: the pitches has been quite positive, but nothing definite has been established... yet, sigh...   The motto for the time being is “cautious optimism”. 

I really hope to have more news soon.  Trust me, as soon as I know anything definite - anything at all,  I’ll be shouting it from the highest rooftops!  It would be so cool to see Sasha and her gang on television!

Stay tuned... Jill

See 19 Nov 2013 for update.  

Wednesday, September 18, 2013

Guest Blogger Charles Deguara on Building Your Following

 Finding Your Reader
    One of the most important things for an author is gaining a strong reader base. The first challenge when you start writing is actually finding the right readers for your work. Most authors think and dream about having millions of fans and readers hungering for their books. After all,
we all want best seller status no? The problem most authors face is expecting best seller status overnight. In this post I want to cover the basics of finding your readers and how that can eventually lead you to your goal. 

 Jesus Had Twelve Followers and One Unfollower  
    Excuse the religious reference here, currently working on my upcoming novel Satan's Slave so this has led me to research and immerse myself into religion. On to my point, Jesus initially was not quite the most popular guy around; he was a carpenter's son who was now presenting himself as the messiah; whilst I will not debate religion here, there is a lot to learn from the way Jesus built his own following. 

    The first thing you need to realize is that he started with twelve devoted individuals, not one hundred or one thousand.  These twelve disciples believed in him and loved what he had to say. Each of his followers would spread the word further. So as an author it is important to keep in mind that it is better to have a team of twelve loyal readers who absolutely love your work and will sing praises about you as opposed to one hundred or one thousand silent fans. 

    How do you get those first twelve fans that are absolutely in love with you? Visit them; you should by now know what style of writing you intend on doing, so you should be looking for forums and websites where your potential fans might be communicating with one another. A cheeky way for example is visiting websites of other authors in your same genre; if they have a commenting system pitch in to the conversation and introduce yourself. 

 Hi! I’m Charles J Deguara and I love the horror genre so much I have actually been 
working on a horror novel.   This post gave me some food for thought and I would like 
to personally thank the author for posting it. I have   also read through the comments 
and love what some of the readers have to say about it. I would love  to have  a few 
great readers give me feedback on a few excerpts from my book.

    Do this enough **without being spammy** and you’ll find that you’ll easily get your own set of potential SUPER FANS - once they arrive at your doorstep, you need to give them VIP status and treatment.  You really want them to be involved in the process, they need to have all the insider stuff that only your top fans can have. If they love what you have to say, they will spread the word. 

    Take it for granted that there will be a few who don't quite jump on the bandwagon; so don't stop searching for SUPER FANS just yet, you will need to rotate a few until you have your twelve and even then you might have an unfollower or two. 

Being a Miracle Author
    You don't quite have Jesus's abilities, so you can't quite go around performing miracles, but you can help other authors and individuals along the way. You need to do some awesome things as you trudge along, in order to continue building a base of readers. Jesus is known for telling stories to many audiences, you need to do that also, you need to get chatting and find your platform. Twitter, Facebook, Guest blogging, TV appearances, Radio interviews, family gatherings, weddings, you need to be preaching the good word about your writing. You also need to be performing your little miracles for your initial fans, signed copies of your books, special insights etc. 

Love Thy Reader  

    Above all if you really want to build a strong base of readers, you need to love your readers. Remember your job is pleasing your readers, ultimately above everything your reader is the one that needs to love what you write. If you write for you ... well, that’s nice, people might love what you write anyway; however, ultimately you write for your reader. Love thy reader, this is another lesson you can take from Jesus, he loved his followers so much he was crucified for them. I do not expect you to turn yourself in to the Romans or anything but you have to appreciate that you have to love your readers.  

About Charles Deguara  
I am a relatively new author; however, I have been working in sales and marketing for over ten years. I specialized specifically on online marketing and advertising for international brands (mainly food & clothing). My books are available on AMAZON.  If you want to get to know me better, you can connect with me on Facebook, or my website, or follow me on Twitter @ipopnetwork

Tuesday, September 17, 2013

Guest Blogger Becky Komant Celebrates THE CONTROLLED

Celebrating the release of The Controlled
by guest blogger Becky Komant

No matter how elegant or simple, I believe that every author should celebrate the release of his or her new book. I don’t do anything half-way, so I wanted our book launch party to be something my friends and family would enjoy as together we toasted the journey that this book brought me on so far.

It really was a night I will never forget. I chose a new local hot spot, SOCIAL 242 Grill & Lounge. It’s a sexy kinda place and the perfect fit for such an event, in particular for THIS book. The intimacy, the dimmed lighting, the classy feel, and the fabulous cuisine all added to the elegance. 

It was a private, ticketed event, with invites sent out to select media. I ran some Facebook contests to give “fans” the chance to win tickets as well. Counting the guests, my friends, and family, we had about 120 people come. 

From the moment the door opened, there was a steady flow of happy, excited faces.  I was at the door to personally greet everyone while servers handed out a tasty glass of wine, supplied by a local Kelowna winery called 50th Parallel Estate Winery.  As people socialized, they enjoyed great tapas and music.  The staff was wonderful, catering to each and every person. 

I did my rounds trying to have a few moments to chat with everyone in the room.  The evening was actually a little surreal for me.  I did it!  It was the release party for my debut book The Controlled! I can still see the image in my head, looking around the room at everyone laughing and having a great time.  It was an amazing feeling.

When it was time for me to say my thanks and a few words to my guests, I actually was nervous. That was weird for me because I have done a lot of public speaking and anyone who knows me knows I ALWAYS have something to say and no problem saying it. Yet, this was different somehow.  I remember talking with one of my best friends and she asked, “What are you nervous about?”  I realized that actually I was overwhelmed.  They journey that I took was ending. The book was done. But it was not really ending, it was just moving into the next phase.

I gave thanks to everyone and the local businesses who supported me, debuted my book trailer for The Controlled, and an excerpt of the book was read by my dear friend, Kim.  The feeling that moved through my body was one of complete happiness.  That moment will go down as one I will never forget.

The best message I can give to you all is, a celebration is a beautiful thing. Whether it’s for a birthday, graduation, new job, a promotion - celebrate it!  

My release party was not only a way to say Thank You to the wonderful people in my life, but a way to share The Controlled with them. Like I said, I have always been a girl that never does anything small.  I will most definitely do no different with every book I write. Celebrate your accomplishment.  You’re worth it! 
For more from Becky, follow her on Twitter @BeckyKomant 

Book trailer video on YouTube

Check out her website HERE 

Sunday, September 15, 2013

Murderous Wedding (Divorce?) Cakes

Here's a collection of bad karma cakes!  Any one of them would have been perfectly suitable as dessert for the characters in Blood and Groom (the wedding themed murder mystery novel in which I introduced my character PI Sasha Jackson). 

Fellow mystery writers may want to buy/bake one of these as inspiration!