05 July 2014

Murder at the Crime Writing Awards

Okay, I haven’t done it yet.  But I may soon.

I’m a crime author. But I'm also the Executive Director of a well-known crime writing association.  This means I am responsible for the Arthur Ellis Awards, Canada’s annual crime writing awards night, and the resulting gala banquet.

I’ve planned hundreds of special events in my career as a marketing professional.  I’ve managed conferences with 1000 people attending, scarfing down three meals a day.  Usually, we offer a few choices, and people choose what they want.  They’re pretty good about that.  People sit where they want.  Simple.

Granted, most of my events have been with lab techs, doctors, nurses, and other health care professionals. 

It is not the same with authors.  Nothing is simple with authors. 


A can’t sit with B, because A is in competition with B for Best Novel.  C can’t sit with D because C is currently outselling D.  E can’t sit with F because they had an affair (which nobody knows about.  Except they do.  At least, the seven people who contacted me to warn me about this knew.) G can’t sit with H because G’s former agent is at that table and they might kill each other.  And everyone wants to sit with J.


The damned meal is chicken.  This is because we are allowed two choices and we have to provide for the vegetarians.  We can’t have the specialty of the house, lamb, because not everyone eats lamb.  We can’t have salmon as the vegetarian choice, because some vegetarians won’t eat fish.

So we’re stuck with bloody chicken again.

P writes that her daughter is lactose intolerant.  Can she have a different dessert?

K writes that she is vegetarian, but can’t eat peppers.  Every damned vegetarian choice has green or red pepper in it.

L writes that she wants the chicken, but is allergic to onion and garlic.  Can we make hers without?

M writes that her daughter is a vegan, so no egg or cheese, thanks.  Not a single vegetarian choice comes that way.

I am quickly moving to the “you’re getting chicken if I have to shove it down your freaking throat” phase.

Chef is currently threatening the catering manager with a butcher’s knife.  I am already slugging back the cooking wine.  And by the time people get here, this may be a Murder Mystery dinner.

Nobody got murdered, but a few got hammered. 

John, Rob and Leigh are saying I have to introduce myself.  Here goes:

Billed as Canada’s “Queen of Comedy" by the Toronto Sun (Jan. 5, 2014,) some folks would say I’ve had a decidedly checkered past.  Don’t dig too deep.  You might find cement shoes.

My crime series, The Goddaughter, is about a wacky mob family in industrial Hamilton aka The Hammer.  This has no resemblance whatsoever to the wacky Sicilian family I grew up in.  Okay, that’s a lie.  I had to wait for certain members of the family to die before writing The Goddaughter.

My other series is racy rollicking time travel, totally scandalous, hardly mentionable in mixed company.  But I’ll mention it anyway.  Rowena Through the Wall.  Hold on to your knickers.  Or don’t, and have more fun.

The Goddaughter’s Revenge won the 2014 Derringer (US) and the 2014 Arthur Ellis Award (Canada) for Best Crime Novella.  There are seven other short story awards kicking around here somewhere.  I got my start writing comedy and seem to be firmly glued there, after 200 publications and seven novels.  But others know me as the Executive Director of Crime Writers of Canada.

Canada's quirky and much-loved
award for Crime Writing


  1. Pleased to meet you, Melodie! I've traveled the special events road and found that writers are almost as difficult to please as artists, who tended to rank right up at the top with the drama folks. I haven't read your books,but after reading your column this AM, I definitely plan to.

  2. Thank you, Fran! Well, we crime writers write about drama, so maybe it's natural for us to like it in our lives ;)
    I'm delighted to be a part of Sleuthsayers!

  3. Melodie, welcome to SleuthSayers!

    You can sit anywhere you want.

  4. Glad to read you on Sleuthsayers- a laugh in the morning is always welcome.

  5. Laugh! John and Janice, thanks for the welcome. I'll take a seat at your table, thanks!

  6. That was fun, Melodie. Thanks and welcome!

  7. Welcome to Sleuthsayers! Your woes remind me of the days when I was running an annual "Art in the Park" - insanity at every turn. An idealistic young person asked me what the most important thing about running an arts festival was - I think expecting something profound - and I said, "Get enough porta potties and make sure the toilet paper never runs out."

  8. Thanks, David! And Eva - oh yeah :)The life of an event planner is so grand. Sort of like the life of an author...but that's another blog, coming soon.

  9. Funny as always, Melodie. Having had similar experiences ordering breakfasts and lunches for several academic department retreats, I hear your pain, sister!

  10. Melodie, welcome to the SleuthSayer Family and thanks for this morning's laugh.
    You brought back frantic memories of when I ran the Black Hills Writers Conferences many years ago, and they were only 1/3rd the size of the one you're talking about. It was fun, but I sure don't miss the tension.

  11. Melodie, I'm delighted to welcome you. And we promise– no chicken!

  12. Welcome to the club! Melodie, I've worked in the food service industry, so I can say I feel your pain! :)

  13. A Broad Abroad06 July, 2014 05:28

    Greetings, Melodie, and welcome.
    Laughter's good - we have it by the bucket-load here on SS - from the hysterical to the maniacal.

  14. Thank you for the warm welcome, everyone! I had a book launch last night - so indeed the laughter may be maniacal today :)

  15. Reminds me of Utah Phillips the great songwriter who, after his heart attack, said he was put on a "low social cholesterol diet. No fat-heads."

    Welcome, Melodie.

  16. Now everyone wants to know who authors E and F are.

    Thanks for the laugh, Mel.


  17. Welcome! I'm anxious to read your books. I feel very humble (I'm a newbie writer).

  18. Rob, I'll have to remember that. No fat heads.
    Anonymous, you simply have to keep up with us Canadian Authors. We're a pretty sexy bunch. (It's the winters...:)
    And Carolyn - thank you for the warm welcome!


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