Monday, 14 May 2012

Think You Have a Book in You?

Chances are that if you haven’t already, writing a book is on your bucket list.  According to a recent survey 81% of Americans want to write a book before they die.  But few will actually follow through.  In fact, only 10% of them will ever start one and only 5% of those wannabe novelists will finish it.  And of those thousands of completed manuscripts, only 2% will end up on bookshelves. 

I posted these numbers to my Facebook profile a while back and reactions to these assertions were very telling.  Some of my friends gave the stats a happy thumbs up, secure in the knowledge that if they chose to, they would surely be amongst the 2% of writers whose books would end up on bookshelves.  My writer friends, who are members of the elite group of people who have started and finished at least one book, proudly listed just exactly how many they’d written eager to share the details of their dedication to the craft. 

Then there were the bloggers, journalists and non-fiction writers who wanted to know if writing dozens of non-fiction articles “counted” - after all, they’d written just as many pages as the fiction writers, and, finally, there were the doubters who were rather put off by these claims – surely they could write a book if they tried.  They just hadn’t had the time to do so. 

So why do so many people want to write a book? Some feel they have ideas or a message that need to be shared.  Others want to leave a legacy of thoughts and ideas that will remain long after they’re dead, and, as it turns out, most have an idealized idea of what the writing life is like and imagine themselves making their own hours, writing in cafés or under a palm tree in a sunny destination, cocktail in hand.

I must admit, a part of me has always belonged to the latter group.  The idea of the writer’s life appeals to me.  I like sitting in my pajamas, coffee cup in hand, imagining beautiful, spunky heroines and sexy, to-die-for heroes.  And I do, on occasion, sit in a café to write, all the while soaking in the hangout’s colorful vibe.  I’ve even had the good fortune of writing while sipping cocktails under a palm tree. 

In fact, in the last 10 years, I’ve written just about everywhere I’ve been.  Waiting rooms, buses, planes, cafés, on the corner of the kitchen table and, yes, ocean side.  But the reality is that I’ve done most of my writing in my home office, butt in chair for hours on end, after working well over 40 hours at my day job while others slept, relaxed or socialized. There’s a difference between loving the idea of doing something and actually doing it. 

Writing a book is slow, hard work, and a terrible return on investment.  It took me two years to write my latest book and so far, I’ve made a whopping 10$ from my fiction for a short story I contributed to an anthology.  And yet, there’s nothing I’d rather do.  And in a few short weeks, I will join the ranks of the 2% of writers whose books make it onto bookshelves and I couldn’t be happier.

A true writer is someone that can’t not write.  It is someone who writes for the pleasure of losing themselves in the worlds they create.  Think you have a book in you?  Then start writing.  And if you lose yourself in the world you’ve created without expecting anything more than the fulfillment of giving the voices in your head a home, you’ll know you’ve found your true calling.

Méline Nadeau’s début novel Hot Off the Press is available for preorder on

Friday, 13 May 2011

Does Height Matter?

Everybody lies.  Especially when it comes to filling out an online dating profile.  Women tend to shave off a few pounds and embellish their physical build– wouldn’t you? – while men overestimate their height and income.

It’s no big secret why we do this.  We want to appear as sexy and desirable as possible.  And since the majority of men say they want to date a woman who is slim while the bulk of women state they want to date a man who’s over 6 feet, might as well try to make the cut – online anyway.  Right?  So we lie and perpetuate these impossible standards.

Meanwhile, at 5’3” and 153 pounds, the average Canadian woman is definitely more curvy than slim and at 5’8 ½ and 180 lbs, the average male is no Adonis, either.  Oh, and in case you’re wondering, Mr. Average makes about $40,000 a year.  Not bad, but nothing to brag about and not exactly the Prince Charming we’ve been conditioned to hold up as the ‘desirable standard’.

So, why do we keep doing it?  Why hold ourselves and our potential mates to impossible standards?  We all know weight matters a hell of a lot more to us girls than it actually does to the guys we date.  They check the ‘slim build’ box because it’s what they think they should be looking for.  In reality, most guys would rather date a curvy girl than one that’s a walking coat rack.

Do you really need to date a guy who’s over 6 feet?  Come on.  If you’re approx 5’3” or 5’4” don’t you think you should give guys who are 5’5” and up a chance?  You’re missing out on at least half the male population by limiting yourself to some impossible ideal.

And, short guys are sexy!   Kanye West (5’8”) and Joaquin Phoenix (5’8”) both made Hollywood’s Top 50 sexiest Male Celebrities list last year while Eminem (also 5’8”) is at the top of the Top 10 Sexiest Male Rappers’ list every single year.

Not into rappers and moody actors?  How about whip smart, charming and funny guys like Jon Stewart (5’7”) and Ryan Seacrest (5’5”)?  Or sweet crooners like Nick Jonas (5’8”) and Justin Bieber (5’4”)? And finally, if it’s money you’re after don’t believe the old wives tale that says tall men make more money.  Just ask Tom Cruise (5’7”), Prince (5’4”) or Bill Gates (5’8”) if being under 5’9” ever stopped them from raking in the dough.

Take it from me.  A man’s height has nothing to do with his looks, charm, generosity and sense of humor.  Dating a ‘short’ guy is wonderful.  And not wearing heels all the time will let you say goodbye to sore feet, lower back pain and that kink in the neck you get from looking up all the time. 

Relationships are about equality. Wouldn’t you rather see eye to eye – literally –than spend your time looking up?

~ Meline
Meline Nadeau (5’6 ½ “) is Oh So Cosmo’s supervising producer.  When she’s not working she enjoys photography, yoga and hanging out with the love of her life (5’7”).

Every Girl Needs a Gay Besty

Archie Comics recently introduced Riverdale’s first openly gay character.  Kevin, the hot new guy in town, appears in Veronica #202 in a story called, “Isn’t it Bromantic?” And, of course, Veronica decides she has to have this gorgeous, charming new man.   Kevin is then faced with having to let her down easy.  Sound familiar?

If it does, then you’re one of 37% of women who’ve fallen for a gay guy at some point in their lives.  This got me thinking about how I met my first gay friend many years ago.  He was good looking, charming and had the demeanor of a romance novel hero.  Needless to say, I quickly realized that the object of my desire was not remotely interested in women.  But I came out of the experience with a hot male friend always willing to go out and pick up guys with me.

 Since then, I’ve made many more gay male friends – some might say I’m a bit of a fag hag – and I feel extremely fortunate to have so many wonderful and caring men in my life.  In fact, these friendships have been and continue to be such a positive in my life that I think every girl needs a gay besty.  If you don’t a close gay male friend in your life, here’s why you should :

1 – He always thinks you look fabulous!
2 – He’ll happily wait for you while you change outfits five times before going out
3 – He’ll help you pick shoes and accessories to go with that perfect dress
4 – You can touch him, kiss him and hug him without worrying he’ll misunderstand
5 – You can have a few too many cocktails, drape yourself all over him and know he won’t take advantage of the situation
6 – He loves chick flicks as much as you do
7 – He’ll go to hot yoga, pilates and salsa dance classes with you
8 – He’ll diet or binge on cookies and ice cream with you
9 – He loves to shop, ‘do’ brunch and scope out hot guys with you
10 – He always says the right thing
11 – He’ll be your date for that wedding you’re dreading and once you’re there, you can both pick up!
12– He enjoys antiquing and he knows a great decorator
13 – His boyfriend loves you, too
14 – He thinks you’re hilarious when you’re bitchy
15 – He owns as many pairs of shoes as you do
16 – You can cuddle with each other when you’re both lonely
17 – He’ll celebrate your sexual exploits rather than judge you
18 – You can make a pact to marry each other if you haven’t found the man of your dreams by the time you’re 40 or 50 – you decide!
19 –He’ll stop you from dating losers, spending your money on tragic home décor or turning into your mother
20 – And, your boyfriend is not remotely threatened by him

Todd, Steve, Frank and Yves – I love you guys.  Thanks for being some of the best and most caring friends a girl could ask for.  Chris, Liam, Geoff, Guy and Bruno.  I miss you all.  Hope you’re happy and in love. 

What?  When I said fag hag, I wasn’t kidding!

~ Meline

How to Be Single

I work in a young industry that keeps me party hopping and generally in the know when it comes to trends, fashion and celebrity gossip. So, it’s no surprise I’m often the one my single girlfriends turn to when they want to go out on the town.

But, to be honest, when I’m not out schmoozing at some work-related shindig, I try to avoid the bar scene altogether.  They’re loud, which makes it virtually impossible to carry on a conversation, they’re filled with posers just looking for arm candy and they’re usually standing room only.  And I don’t need to tell you what standing in four-inch heels all night can do to your feet.

Beside, c’mon.  Do you really want to strut your stuff next to hundreds of equally young, sexy and eligible women?  Or do you want to put the odds on your side?

If you want to meet a man and have a fighting chance at nabbing him, try these three suggestions:

-        Take a class or join a club.  Whether it’s cooking, photography or sailing, follow your passion and even if you don’t meet the man of your dreams right off the bat, you’ll at least meet interesting, like-minded people.  (I met my partner at Second City in an improv class some 10-12 years ago and I know at least a half dozen other couples who met and fell in love there, too.  Those relationships, might I add, are still going strong.)

-        Go to the gym.  You’ll look better, feel better and potentially meet a man who takes care of himself.  And ladies, let’s face it.  The better shape he’s in, the better he’ll be in bed. (Ask me about my stint as an aerobics instructor some time.)  If you really can’t stand the thought of working out, join a hiking or walking club. 

-        And finally, if you love the bar scene ask yourself why.  If it’s the getting dressed up, socializing and people watching parts you love, consider attending beer or scotch tastings.  Wear your hottest pair of heels, show off those legs and who knows?  Even if you don’t meet the guy of your dreams, you might actually learn something.  And, take heed.  Men are impressed by women who like traditionally manly drinks.

Really, the best part about being single is the thrill of the chase, isn’t it?  So, ready, set, go!


Working in “The Business” or What Do You Do With A Dead Horse?

When I tell people I’m a TV producer, I get one of three reactions.  Those who know the business shake their heads and give me a look of sympathy, those who are trying to get a TV job, try to score my business card and become Facebook friends, and those who have nothing to do with the industry, want to hear about the celebrities I’ve met, worked or partied with.

In this blog, I’ll do my best to satisfy all three types of readers and give you a first hand behind-the-scenes account of the shoots I produce.  Keep it mind these will be my accounts with all of my personal biases, judgments and color commentary which means that my POV will often be very different from the talent’s.  In fact, if I do my job well, I will shield them from any unpleasantness and their accounts will always be about the glamorous side of things while mine will be about what ‘really happened’. 

That said let me start by dispelling any illusions you might have about “the biz”.  Working in the television industry is not glamorous.  It is hard work and most often means long hours of thankless toiling.  All right.  I exaggerate a little.  It’s really not that bad.  In fact, most days it’s really pretty great and I love it.  I even love the months of long hours, hotel rooms and bad coffee punctuated by slow periods of short days and long lunches.  Plus, as most writers will tell you, nice and uneventful is boring.  Conflict is what turns a nice story into a great one.  The same can be said about perfect jobs.  If working in TV Land meant steady hours and a regular paycheck no one would be interested in hearing about it.  I mean, come on.  If your boss is a great guy, your coworkers are all normal, you work regular hours and you're gloriously happy in your job, I don't want to hear about it.  I'd much rather find out about the freak in accounting, that twit who talks to herself during meetings or the teen star who threw up in the dressing room.

So, I thought I start by telling you about the worst shoot I've even been on. It was, I'm sorry to say, a shoot I produced, so I have no one to blame but myself on that one.  In fact, just thinking about it gives me hives.  This is the shoot I lovingly refer to as my "What Do You Do With A Dead Horse?" promo shoot.

A few years ago I was hired to produce a series of network promo spots (those thirty second bumpers TV stations run before and after everything so you never forget which network you're watching) for Scream, Canada's thriller-horror station.

The channel was new and we wanted the promos to be nothing short of amazing.  The artistic director, whose talent is only surpassed by his insanity, came up with about half a dozen bunch of wickedly cool horror-movie themed promo spots - each one more complicated to achieve than the next.  Big budget effects on a shoestring.  TV sets bursting from the ground, a killer’s morphing into a cadaver, nightmarish images - you get the picture.

One of the spots featured three men shoveling out a grave, in a sinister cemetery on a dark, rainy night.  After calling around and pricing various options - funny how most cemeteries do NOT want you to bring around forty people to stand around in the rain while three actors dig a grave - we decided it would be cheaper and easier to build our own cemetery. We found a farm just outside of Toronto where the owners were willing to have us come in, build a cemetery, dig holes in the ground, bring a water cistern, lighting strikes, a crane, trailers and a full crew - a feat in itself.

The night before the shoot, after we'd spent all the money to build, dig and light our cemetery, I got a frantic call from the farmer's wife.  One of her horses was dying and it was ‘all our fault’.   Someone from my crew had apparently left one of the gates open and her favorite horse had gotten into the chicken feed.  Chicken feed, she explained, could kill a horse and would surely kill hers.  The horse was dying, her husband (who, as it turns out was a mean drunk) was furious, we were going to have to pay the vet bills, get her a new horse, and there was no way they were letting us shoot anything on their property.  They wanted us gone.

Did I mention she called at midnight on a Friday night?  I managed to talk her down.  I convinced her to let us stay.  I told her we'd take care of the vet bills and of the horse if, God forbid, it didn't make it.  I called a vet.  I found out how much a new horse would cost, found someone who might actually be interested in buying a dead horse (yes, there are people out there who take care of that sort of thing) AND I found a back-up location in case the husband did decide to pull the plug. 

The horse didn't die.  We weren't the ones who'd left the gate open, the drunken farmer had.  We shot our spot on schedule and as planned.  It poured down rain the entire time and the water we had wanted to carefully control, got into everything.  One of our lightning strikes blew, our crane sank a good two feet into the mud and the drunken farmer had to be escorted out of the shot at least half a dozen times.  We also scratched a camera lens and the rain damaged over half the tombstones we had rented.

All that for 30 seconds. 

Ten years later, I can almost laugh about that night…almost.  I don’t do cemetery shoots anymore and I’ll probably never produce a shoot involving man-made rain again, but I still work with the crazy art director.  In fact, he’s become one of my closest friends.