25 April 2015

Bad Girl's Tricks for Writing with Kids...

In honour of the Arthur Ellis Awards for Crime Writing shortlists being released this week, a good friend asked the question:  How the heck do we actually find time to write the stuff that is up for the awards tonight?
My tricks.…

Okay, these are not the definitive rules for Writer-parents. I would never claim to be an expert.  But I did raise two kids while writing stand-up on the side and penning a syndicated humour column every two weeks. So I learned a few things about survival along the way.

Bad Girl’s Tricks for Writing with Kids:
    1.  Probably you shouldn’t lock yourself in the bathroom, so the kids can’t get at you. Equally, you shouldn’t sit in the playpen with your kid on the outside, screaming and shaking the thing.  Okay, at least not more than once a day.

    2.  Never put a package of Twinkies in front of a toddler so that you can continue to write. (Remove them all from the plastic wrappers first so the kid doesn’t choke.)

   3.  A kid won’t die if they drink half a mug of cold coffee.  But watch the wine. In fact, you might want to finish the rest of the bottle right now, just to be safe.

   4.  Breast-feeding can be a real timesaver, but not during Bouchercon book-signings.

   5.  Other kid’s birthday parties are a great thing for a writer. But you really should pick up your own kid when they’re over. (Eventually. Before winter.)

   6.  It’s okay to get someone to babysit your kids while you move into a new house. But it’s not okay to forget to tell anyone where that house is.

   7.  When your kid leaves home for university, it is not recommended to immediately change their room into a study or writing room. Wait until after Christmas. The sales are better.

Re “Leaving the nest”: Every mother gets emotional about this. But probably you shouldn’t do it until your kids are grown up.

Do you have tricks?  Leave them below in the comments.  Please.  Hurry. 

Postscript: The Arthur Ellis Award shortlist events were held two nights ago in major cities across Canada.
The jaw-dropping surprise: I am shortlisted with Margaret Atwood for the Arthur!   Never, not ever, did I expect to see my name linked with CanLit Royalty.  Damned honoured.

The Opening to THE GODDAUGHTER’S REVENGE (Orca Books)

Okay, I admit it. I would rather be the proud possessor of a rare gemstone than 
a lakefront condo with parking. Yes, I know this makes me weird. Young women today are supposed to crave the security of owning their own home.

But I say this: real estate, shmeel estate. You can’t hold an address in your hand. It doesn’t flash and sparkle with the intensity of a thousand night stars. It will never lure you away from the straight and narrow like a siren from some Greek odyssey.

Let’s face it. Nobody has ever gone to jail for smuggling a one bedroom plus den out of the country.

 However, make that a ten-carat cyan blue topaz with a past as long as your arm, and I’d do almost anything to possess it.

 But don’t tell the police.

The Goddaughter’s Revenge, winner of the 2014 Derringer (in US) and Arthur (in Canada) is available at Chapters/Indigo stores, Barnes&Noble, and online retailers everywhere.


  1. Wonderful news for you Melodie! Warmest congrats! Thelma Straw in Manhattan

  2. Thanks, Thelma :) It is an honour to be in that company, believe me.

  3. Very funny column, Melodie!
    Congrats as well!

  4. Congratulations, Melodie. And yes, better finish that wine asap to save the kids from it. :)

  5. Congratulations! Way to go!
    Finish the wine yourself (why waste it on the kids?), and eating takeout 24/7 is not child abuse if you give them something green - like a piece of celery with peanut butter on it - once a day.

  6. Fran, and David, thank you. I am still in a state of shock.

  7. Paul - that's my favourite line :)

  8. Eve, I think we must be sisters under the skin. Twinkies show up on another post coming soon. It almost happened.

  9. COngratulations on being shortlisted for the Arthur EllisAward, Melodie. Now you can name drop Margaret Atwood - or she can brag about being on the list with you!

  10. Rob, I quickly left her a tweet, saying "Such an honour to be on a shortlist with you." She retweeted it to her 766,000 fans, which shows that the lady is super-gracious. Yes, I expect I will be able to say, "I lost out to Margaret Atwood" - grin. And everyone will nod.

  11. Congratulations Melodie! How soon will you know the outcome?

  12. Elizabeth, the Arthur Ellis gala is on May 28. So I shall enjoy this interlude of five weeks, as a finalist.

  13. Many congratulations, Melodie!! Best of luck to you!

  14. Thanks, John. I wonder how Margaret Atwood dealt with rug rats.

  15. Yay, Melodie! Rug rats AND Arthur Ellis awards/noms=living the dream!


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