Tuesday, May 19, 2015

So Quote Me

Layered collage using ad images from LOTR and NZ tourism.
I love quotes...

I've been collecting them since I was a teen. In a safe place somewhere (I keep misplacing the dang thing) is a note book that I turned into a scrapbook of favourite cartoons, quotes and art.

I know it goes back (at least) to when I was sixteen because I quoted a Hagar the Horrible strip on my Economics paper that year and the strip is in the book.

Today is cash, tomorrow credit. 
Remember please, 'twas I that said it.

Every since watching Gilligan Island's version of Hamlet, I've tried to remember Polonius's excellent advice... to music of course.(Toréador's song from the opera Carmen)
Neither a borrower nor a lender be,    
Do not forget: Stay out of debt; 

Think twice, and take this good advice from me, 
Guard that old solvency. 
There’s just one other thing you ought to do. 
To thine own self be true.
I never paid enough attention to the solvency part, but I have done my best to be true to myself... although it's a real challenge some days.

I've owned Time Enough For Love by Robert Heinlein since it came out in 1973.That didn't stop me from copying out my favourite bits from The Notebooks of Lazarus Long (a book of advice within the novel).
“Never underestimate the power of human stupidity.”
"The supreme irony of life is that hardly anyone gets out of it alive."
"A society that gets rid of all its troublemakers goes downhill."
And a quote that is as true today as it was during the Inquisition:
"It is a truism that almost any sect, cult, or religion will legislate its creed into law if it acquires the political power to do so."
If there is not a Notebooks of Red Green there should be.
"You need only two tools.  If it doesn't move and it should, use WD-40.  If it moves and it shouldn't, use duct tape."

"When you make a mistake, make amends immediately.  It's easier to eat crow while it's still warm."

"Never pass up an opportunity to pee."
That last one I didn't learn to appreciate until recently.

On that note, if you'll excuse me, I need to skip to the loo.

Thursday, May 7, 2015

Throwback Thursday - Nighthawk Revisted

Nighthawk vs Kate Garrett

For a couple of years I ran a character interview blog called Nighthawk Talks. My alter ego, Nighthawk, chatted with characters from a wide variety of books, starting with my own, friends' books and then friends of friends and so on. I met some lovely people as a result.

Kate Garrett is from my mystery, Deadly Legacy.

Welcome back to Nighthawk Talks, I’m your host Nighthawk...

You’re a bird.

Well, yes.

Common nighthawk, aka Chordeiles minor. Owl-like insectivore. You look more like a crow.  No, a raven. I remember my father telling me that ravens have longer tails and hookier beaks.

Nighthawk is my name, not my breed... Never mind that! Tonight we welcome Detective Kate Garrett.

Is Nighthawk your real name?

No my real name is “Quoth” - YES, it’s my real name!

Calm down, ma’am, it was just a routine question. How long have you been a virtual radio host?

I’m supposed to interviewing you, Detective Garrett.

You haven’t asked me anything yet.

Tell us about your father.

Which one?

Joe Garrett, of course. How many father’s do you have?

Well there’s Joe of course - everyone knows Joe. Then there’s my step-dad David. He’s a physician and counsellor at the university. I guess a lot of people know him too, but not as well as he knows most people. The Chief, Igor Thorsen, is my godfather. I used to call him Papa Igor when I was younger. Not so much now he’s my boss.

You say “everyone knows Joe”. He must cast an awfully large shadow on your life.

Well, he is taller than me, but compared to the Chief...

You know that’s not what I meant.

Yeah, but I get tired of the question. It’s almost as bad as “How are you feeling?” How am I supposed to be feeling when my Dad dies? As for living in his shadow... think of it more like shade. Sometimes I get a little lost in it, but mostly it provides protection.

Okay. What are the benefits of being Joe Garrett’s daughter? You didn’t exactly have a normal childhood with your father being injured and turning to alcohol, and your mother having an affair with another man.

If you think that’s all that abnormal, you’ve never looked at family services stats. Anyway, my childhood was happy. It was my teen years that were ... challenging. I got through them. Even if I was willing to talk about what I went through – which I’m not – you’re prying into events that involve people who are not here to speak up.

Does that mean you won’t tell me about your new partner, Jake Carmedy? He called you the “damned woman.”

He did, did he?

He thinks you’re crazy to leave the police force.

Police services. Even in your time, it’s police services.

What do you think about Mr Carmedy?

I have generally found Carmedy to be polite and professional with people other than myself and, it seems, with you.

He walked out on the interview when I suggested he was attracted to you.

(Sputtered laughter.) According to this wiki, ravens are supposed to be highly intelligent problem solvers. I’m not so sure. Before you ask me something that will make me walk out, why don’t we end this interview and have an off the record chat over coffee.

That’s an offer I can’t refuse. If you want to learn more about Kate Garrett, dear listener, you’ll have to pick up Deadly Legacy.

2018: When Joe dies unexpectedly, he leaves his daughter Kate half interest in Garrett Investigations, his last case that ties to three murders, and partner she can't stand.

Jake Carmedy has lost a partner, mentor and friend, but grief will come later. First, he has a case to solve, one that has detoured from a simple insurance case to a murder investigation. If that isn't enough, Joe's daughter seems to want to take her father's place as his boss.

No matter how hard they try, Carmedy and Garrett can't avoid each other and they might be next on a killer's list.

Mystery, Suspense, Speculative fiction

On sale in Kindle and paperback formats at:
Also part of the Deadly Dozen book set.

Sunday, April 5, 2015

Some Women Fantasize about Prince Charming...

... I dream of getting new flooring.

When I was a teen, I fantasized and wrote about exploring strange new worlds, seeking out new life and new civilizations, boldly going... anywhere off-planet.

When I was at university, the theme was saving the world and having hot sex with a variety of partners who thought the sun rose and set on me.

When I wrote Under a Texas Star, I was escaping my hospital room and nosy roommate.

Deadly Legacy gave me a way of dealing with my mother's death.

When I started A Bodyguard to Remember, what I most wanted was new flooring and fresh paint.

Our carpeting was dirt brown, indoor/outdoor stuff that was at least twenty years old. The previous occupants were smokers, drinkers and kept rabbits and cats, neither of which were particularly well housebroken.

The co-op cleaned the carpets and painted, of course, but some smells are hard to eliminate.

In fairness, we added to the cocktail. With two small children, you can expect spills. I'm not perfect either, especially when distracted while holding a full cup of coffee. 

The worst happened after my father's stroke. We took care of him at home for a few years. Although he had quit smoking years ago, his sense of smell never entirely bounced back. He really didn't know what we were talking about when we told him he couldn't dry his Depends in front of the fan. Nor could he tell when his portable urinal ranneth over. 

Around the same time, our family cat was reaching twenty years of age, which is almost 200 in cat years. We had an incontinent cat added to the mix. Georgette (named for Georgette Heyer) had been with my sister and I (going back and forth when our allergies demanded) through four pregnancies (two each). She was my daughter's best friend. There was no way that we weren't going to keep that cat as long as we could make her comfortable.

But the carpeting and our sinuses suffered. No amount of carpet cleaning or deodorizers completely removed the stains or smell. So, when I was standing at the corner, waiting to cross the kids at lunch (I'm a crossing guard too) I started thinking about ways I could speed up the replacement of our flooring. I came up with a dead body in the living room.

Being a writer, I had to work out who the body was, how he got there and what happened next. Since I hadn't totally given up on the fantasy of being desired by multiple men or saving the universe, a little bit of that crept in too... And the first Men in Uniform book was born.

Wednesday, April 1, 2015

Code Name: Gypsy Moth - the annotated listing

On sale now!
($3.77 in Canada... damned rate of exchange!)

An Imajin Qwickies™ Sci-fi/Romantic Suspense Novella with a dose of Campbell Humor
(Campbell humor is nothing to be scoffed at... laughed at, but not scoffed.)

It isn't easy running your own bar in the final frontier...especially when you’re hiding a secret.
(If it was easy, Melodie wouldn't be writing about it.)

Nell Romana loves two things: running The Blue Angel Bar, and Dalamar, a notorious modern-day knight for hire. Too bad he doesn't know she is actually a spy working undercover for the Federation.
(Doesn't know yet... will he? You'll just have to read to find out.)
The bar is a magnet for all sorts of thirsty frontier types, and some of them don’t have civilized manners. That’s no problem for Dalamar, who is built like a warlord and keeps everyone in line. But when he is called away on a routine job, Nell uncovers a rebel plot to overthrow the Federation. Her cover blown, she has to act fast and alone—and more than their love is put to the test.
(Like I said, if it was easy, Melodie wouldn't be writing about it.)
If you're read the Land's End Trilogy, you know Melodie Campbell throws everything but the kitchen sink at her heroine and that's only left out because they don't have indoor plumbing.

If you've read the award-winning Goddaughter series, you know that Melodie knows her way around comic capers.

Now she's gone into space. The galaxy will never be the same again.

Follow Melodie Campbell on Amazon and don't miss a book!

Wednesday, March 25, 2015

I Love Coffee, I Love Tea

“Black as the devil, hot as hell, pure as an angel, sweet as love.”
Charles Maurice de Talleyrand 1754-1838

I wasn't always a coffee drinker. For the first twenty-two years of my life I was all about tea... I don't actually remember when I was too young to drink tea. For all I know, my baby bottle was filled with milky tea.

I didn't like coffee at all back then.

I blame my parents. They drank instant. Seriously? Who would forsake tea for instant coffee? On special occasions my mother would perk coffee. By that point in the evening her guests had so much food and drink they didn't notice how bad it was. Or maybe they were too polite.

I'm not being mean. Mum would have been the first to admit she did not have the knack of brewing coffee. She was English after all. Most of the time she drank tea and her tea was excellent.
"You can't get a cup of tea big enough or a book long enough to suit me."
C. S. Lewis
In my senior years at high school (in Ontario we effectively had two senior years when I was growing up: grades 12 and 13) I used to have a tea locker. It was outside the chemistry classrooms. I kept a travel kettle, tea, sugar, powdered milk and two or three mugs. (I didn't take milk or sugar in my tea by then, but I was a very good host.) At lunchtime, I do a brew-up in the lab. Our chemistry teachers not only allowed it, one had his own tea beaker.

When I went to university, the tea was terrible. Sure, I could bring my own, but they charged the same for a cup of hot water as a cup of coffee. Worse, tea didn't keep you awake when you had three papers to complete in twenty-four hours. That's what drove me to coffee. Since I wasn't crazy about it, bad coffee didn't bother me.
“I don't really like coffee," she said, "but I don't really like it when my head hits my desk when I fall asleep either. ”
Brian Andreas
I'm not sure when the turning point came... maybe it was when I was hanging out at cafes writing longhand fan fiction when I was supposed to be writing essays... but I became a coffee drinker.

Back in my fan fic days, I preferred flavoured coffee. When I was Captain of the Guelph Star Trek Club I had my own "Captain's Blend". (Two parts Columbian dark roast to one part Dutch chocolate flavoured beans.) I started drinking straight dark roast about the same time I started writing mysteries. Coincidence? I think not.
“Coffee first. Schemes later.”
Leanna Renee Hieber
Now I am known as "She who must have coffee." But truth be known, when the world is falling apart around me, my first instinct is to go and put the kettle on.

Sunday, March 15, 2015

Farewell Sir Terry - But Not Good Bye

I was introduced to Terry Pratchett via his Discworld novels in 1989. My parents, my sister and I were visiting London (my mother's hometown) -- the last trip the four of us would make as a nuclear family. My sister and I would wander around the west end while mum and dad had a nap in the afternoon. One day we discovered a "gentile blackhole"* aka a bookstore, and I discovered Wyrd Sisters.

That was the day I made a grievous tactical error. I only bought the first two Discworld books, The Colour of Magic and Light Fantastic. I should have bought every book up to and including the newly released Wyrd Sisters - or at least also bought Wyrd Sisters. The books were slow to be released in Canada back then, and it took three years before I finally read the book that first caught my attention.

I can't remember how long it took before I read Guards,  Guards, the book that started my favourite series within the series, and ongoing unrequited love affair with Commander Sir Samuel Vimes, Duke of Ankh Morpork. I read them all, from Guards, Guards to Snuff at least once annually.

Fast forward a dozen years later, my collection of Discworld novels was complete and up to date. I was (and am) the mother of two wonderful children and every night, for about a year, I had to read  Where's My Cow to my son Sam**... complete with appropriate voices. He was delighted that Sir Sam was reading the title story to Young Sam, his son.
Illustration from the book illustrated

When my kids got older, we started collecting the audio books so we could listen to the books in the car. Unseen Academicals is the family favourite. It's the only one we have that's not abridged. (That must be fixed because you shouldn't miss a word of a Pratchett novel.)

When my daughter hit her head and we spent about six hours in Emergency, I read Wee Free Men to her... with appropriate voices.  When we finally were called, a woman remarked that she was sorry she wouldn't hear the rest of the story and, by the way, what part of England was I from? (I'm born and bred Canadian.)

I have never met Sir Terry. I do not know his family. But he and his books have been part of my family for twenty-six years. I'm going to miss him, but he will live on through his books.

From Sir Terry Pratchett's BBC News Obituary

* “A good bookshop is just a genteel Black Hole that knows how to read.”
Terry Pratchett, Guards, Guards

**Sam is named jointly for Sam I Am from Green Eggs and Ham, Sam Vimes from the Discworld series, and the first cat I had as a child. But don't tell his father. He has other ideas.

Sam is the Ginger.

Friday, February 27, 2015

Four Years Old and Twenty Years in the Making

It started in Cambridge General Hospital. I was recovering from surgery. I shared the room with a lovely lady who was fighting cancer, an octogenarian with night terrors, and a woman who was more social than I could handle. I started writing the story of Marly Landers and Jase Strachan to give myself an escape.

The first draft was in very wobbly longhand. (Post surgery, remember?)

The second and third drafts were written on a Commodore Plus 4. When the Plus 4 died and I couldn't transfer the files to a dos system, I thought that was the end of that novel. Fortunately for Marly and Jase, I had friends who refused to let it die.

While I was creating the world of Carmedy and Garrett for the book that would become Deadly Legacy, they scanned, OCR'ed and consolidated El Paso Trail... which would become (one complete overhaul and two edits later) Under A Texas Star.

You should hear what I had to go through to have my daughter! ;)