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Do you actively worry about the state of the world?

There are weeks, aren’t there, when all the news is bad, when new studies come out that tell us texting, climate change, and lack of personal eye contact with each other will be the ruination of everything. Maps are published that show how rising seas will eat away at coastlines, then states, then countries.

My grandparents thought radio and then TV and then Elvis were signs of a degraded populace. Every generation seems to point at some habit or phase of the next generation that spells doom. As we get older, we find out that not only our parents’ generation but our parents themselves were wilder when they were kids than they would acknowledge when we were growing up and pushing various envelopes.

The soothsayers seem to rejoice in proclaiming “The end is near.”

With gobal warming, I begin to wonder if the end is near. A lot of people are denying that it’s happening–in spite of the evidence. And that includes the current administration, one that is also rolling back clean air and water protections and other environmental rules. I remember when Jay Leno, on the old Tonight Show, used to interview people on the street about historical and other facts that my generation saw as baseline knowledge. More often than not, people didn’t even know the name of our President, where California is, and other basic facts.

Is our texting generation creating anew this aura of general stupidity about how the world works, where states and countries are, and whether or not rising seas constitute a real problem? I hate texting–so, I have a bias. But sidewalks filled with people who are looking at their cellphones is disturbing. What the hell can y’all possibly be talking about that’s more important than where you are and the people around you?

Do things like this worry you?

I’m beginning to wonder if I should start a new blog called “The end is near.”

Malcolm

Excerpt: ‘LOCAL AUTHOR APOLOGIZES FOR MAKING VIXEN IN NOVEL TOO MUCH LIKE NEIGHBORHOOD VIXEN’

Here’s a brief excerpt from Special Investigative Reporter:

“When he got to the office, the clerk at the information desk told him Marcus wanted him to cover the Cane Molasses press conference over at the Main Street Book Emporium. He (Jock) would know that already if he bothered to answer his phone. Cash had, apparently, left for the day when a police officer located the pickup truck at his house. (The receptionist said she didn’t know whose house she was talking about.)

“After the press conference, he went home and slapped together a news story while waiting for a goat cheese and anchovy pizza to arrive:

 

LOCAL AUTHOR APOLOGIZES FOR MAKING VIXEN IN NOVEL TOO MUCH LIKE NEIGHBORHOOD VIXEN

Cane Molasses apologized at a hastily called press conference here this afternoon to “any and all women” who believe they are or might be the Judy Miracle character in his prize-winning 2008 novel Miracle on 35th Street.

Molasses called the press conference and book signing at the Main Street Book Emporium after an unidentified woman accosted him at his home this morning and accused him of basing the Miracle character on secrets she told him when they stopped for drinks on the way home from an AA meeting.

“I’m involved with dozens of women a year for research purposes,” said Molasses, “and all of them are well compensated. Miracle is a composite character based on Carl Jung’s reformed hooker archetype which is extensively described in his collected works.”

Molasses told the crowd of some 500 adoring fans and one heckler that Miracle is a beautiful fictional character who sees the light just in time to be buried in a high-brow cemetery on 35th Street. While many of his fans purportedly model their lives on Miracle’s story, it was not his intent to suggest Miracle is either every woman or any specific woman.

According to Police Sergeant Wayne Bismarck, nobody was seen leaving the Kroger Store on Edwards Street wearing a sack over their head “any time in recent memory.”

-30-

 

As he finished the story, the pizzeria called and apologized for not sending out the pizza he wanted. Apparently, everyone who tried to make such a thing got sick. He thanked them for their trouble, canceled the order, and ate two diet TV dinners with a glass or two (he lost count after two) of Cabernet.

It was the kind of wine a restaurant like the Purple Platter bought in 55-gallon drums, then used for filling bottles with an “estate bottled” Purple Platter label.

Copyright © 2019 by Malcolm R. Campbell

What happens to your book cover when you change publishers?

If this issue resonates for you, the first thing we would suggest — first, last, and always — is to read your contract. Only there can you discern what the original agreement was, and what you signed off on. In 99.99 times out of a hundred, the publisher retains the rights to the cover image. What this means is that if you part company with them but still want to self-publish your book on your own, you must come up with a new cover design.

Source: When You Split with Your Publisher: Book Covers ‹ Indies Unlimited ‹ Reader — WordPress.com

Melissa Bowersock, at Indies Unlimited, tells us that there are legal reasons for this based on where the cover art came from. So, it’s not a matter of your old publisher being nasty. When I left my previous publisher, I wanted new covers because old, out-of-print editions of books seem to remain on Amazon forever. I can still find books my father wrote in the 1940s, 1950s, and 1960s. Most of these are there because third-party seller frequently use Amazon as their preferred site for reselling books in their collections or warehouses.

So, I thought it best to begin with a new cover to keep my new editions from getting mixed up with the old ones. Some publishers will let you keep the old covers if you’re willing to buy them. Might work, or might not work. I did it once because one publisher never managed to get the books into print.

Interesting article and a part of book publishing to keep in mind when your publisher goes out of business or when you want a fresh start.

Malcolm

Malcolm R. Campbell is the author of satire, magical realism, contemporary fantasy, and paranormal stories and novels. Click on my name for more information.

Thank you for not giving up

I feel somewhat guilty writing too often about my prostate cancer because, compared with the heartbreaking stories we hear about from some of our friends or via online articles, my cancer is–as of now–rather low key. We lost one of our best friends to cancer a few months ago. Her cancer was thought to have been cured, but it came back and there was nothing for it–other than hospice care. She stayed strong as long as she could.

When I mentioned on Facebook a week ago that my 40 days of radiation therapy had begun, one of my long-time online friends wrote, “Thank you for not giving up.” She’s a feisty New Yorker and deals with issues and events that are quite foreign to me–as I’m sure my Georgia farm life is to her–so we don’t communicate often. But this comment was almost too much for me to take in and to process.

It never occurred to me to give up even though my age is getting up there and I keep reading about people who are younger than I am passing away after having “long and happy lives.” If I were in a worst-case scenario in a hospital bed, I might say this kind of life just doesn’t cut it. But I’m not, thank the good Lord. Sure, the daily radiation treatments are a bit tedious and, like almost all medications and protocols, they include a hideous list of potential side effects.

One of the doctors at the radiation oncology center said I might start feeling a lot of fatigue in several weeks. I mentioned that when I was checking diets, etc. online, I read that while alcohol was okay, I might be too sleepy and tired to care about it. When I told the doctor this, her response was “one’s never too tired for a glass of wine.” I’m glad we saw eye to eye about that.

I wonder how many cancer patients do give up. How many of them think that no matter what they do, cancer will ultimately win. Maybe not today or tomorrow but–like our recently departed friend–sooner than one expects. According to the statistics, all men will eventually get prostate cancer if they live long enough. That sounds like bad software to me. So, I suppose I should feel honored to have lived long enough to get it. I don’t. I’m pissed off because it’s a lot of trouble and it costs a lot of money to treat. Also, radiation is a one-time thing. If the cancer were to come back, we couldn’t use radiation again.

I don’t see the logic of putting my family $100000000000000 in dept for treatments that would prolong my life at a low ebb for another six months. But that’s not where I am with this. Nonetheless, when Lynne wrote, “Thank you for not giving up,” I felt that living out my life mattered to somebody–in addition to my family–and that gave me a strong dose of positive vibrations, the kind we should feel for all who are in need since they are stronger than most cures.

Malcolm

Malcolm R. Campbell is the author of the recently released “Special Investigative Report” that’s available in hardback, paperback and e-book editions.-

Spent the day working on my author’s website

Supposedly, professional book publicists can look at an author’s platform (website, blog, Facebook) and say. “No wonder you’re not selling many books” and/or “If people aren’t buying your books, they’re nuts.”

Short of paying a professional $25,000 to provide us with that information, most of us (authors) are blindly wandering in the dark with no clue what helps us and what hurts us. With that in mind, I spent the afternoon updating my website with no idea whatsoever whether the changes will increase sales, decrease sales, or put me on the “no-fly list.”

Much to my horror, I’ve discovered that if an author is crazy and broke, s/he tends to draw crazy and broke people to his/her website, blog, and Facebook author’s page. So, what this means is lots of people are stopping by, but few of them are going out to Amazon (or wherever) and buying any books. This isn’t good.

Gurus say, “Be yourself.” Well, who else the hell can I be? The thing is, I wonder if I ought to stop being myself and put up a website that looks like I’m Dan Brown or Jo Rowling. Prospective readers would look at the site for a nanosecond and buy everything they see there. There might be some negative repercussions, but I wouldn’t care because I’d be rich.

As authors, we’re never sure what exactly will draw people to our books, to consider buying them and seeing if they like them instead of automatically purchasing the latest novel from one of the BIG NEW YOUR PUBLISHERS. Heck, I buy from the big publishers because most of the reviews, lists of the best of the best, interviews, and feature stories ignore authors from small-press publishers.  Why? That’s all I hear about in literary sites. Even sites that focus on helping aspiring authors don’t interview or feature aspiring authors.

So, what to do? I thought about using malware to automatically sell a copy of one of my books to everyone who logged onto my website. Somehow, that seemed wrong.  So, I didn’t do it.

I thought about putting a hex on everyone who logged onto my website so that they would buy copies of all of my books. Yes, that would help my Amazon ranking and maybe even get me on the New York Times bestseller list. Yet, it also seemed wrong.

So, when promoting my books I’m pretty much stuck being me. All of us are. And who knows what will come of it?

Malcolm

Malcolm R. Campbell is the author of the satirical mystery/thriller “Special Investigative Reporter.”

 

Backstory can detract from the primary plot

 

Katherine Neville (The Eight, The Fire) is generally credited with pioneering the quest/adventure novel in which the current-day and primary plot is greatly influenced by past events. Dan Brown made the style famous in The Da Vinci Code and related novels.

The Da Vinci Code had a compelling plot that kept readers engaged in spite of the fact that great swaths of text were instructional in nature, that is, one character tells another character about the history and symbolism as a device to inform the reader what the current-day plot means.

I’ve just completed reading three quest/adventure novels that, while they kept me reading, spent too much time in the backstory. I won’t mention the author because my intent here is not to trash her books. We have current-say plots which are exciting, but the meaning behind them comes from memories of part events or past lives that might have occurred many centuries ago. In general, I liked the books. However, she spent too much time with the backstory.

Imagine this. A character is trying to puzzle out a mystery and it’s kind of a page-turner. Then, the next chapter is titled Accra, Ghana, 1578. Suddenly the current-day plot is put on hold and the reader finds himself/herself reading about people s/he’s never heard of from many centuries ago. In some cases, they’re living heroic lives; in other cases, they’re everyday people doing about their daily tasks.

Then the novel switches back to the current day for a chapter before the author delays the mainstream plot with a chapter called, let’s say, Constantine, Algeria, 1830, and now we’re suddenly following a French soldier at the beginning of France’s occupation of the country.

While these past events usually factor into the reader’s understanding of the mainstream plot before the novel ends, the past-history events are a distraction. For one thing, they stop the present-day story and introduce new characters. For another thing, they drag on for multiple pages when all the reader wants to do is get back to the primary story. In each case, the novelist would better serve his/her story by cutting the number of words in each of these ancient history chapters.

It’s interesting, as it was in Neville’s and Brown’s novels to see the influence of the past, but it becomes a tedious distraction when past events occupy a large portion of the novel. Even if we learn, let’s say, that our protagonist name Dan actually was that French soldier in a past life, it doesn’t justify (in my view) spending ten pages in Algeria while the primary plot sits in limbo.

Malcolm

Malcolm R. Campbell is the author of “Special Investigative Reporter,” recently released by Thomas-Jacob Publishing.

Introverts and book clubs don’t mix

The other day on Facebook, there was a book club thread. Some people loved them. Others said they were often unhappy with the book being discussed (decided by vote), people who monopolized the conversation, and the fact that some people never seemed to be prepared for the meetings (i.e., they hadn’t read the book up for discussion).

As an introvert, I seldom say anything during meetings. So, I’d be the one at the club meeting who seemed unprepared due to my silence even though I may well have read the book several times.

While I do review books that I like and that I want to draw to others’ attention, I really don’t like discussing books. Other than the introvert thing, I think this comes from being turned off with book discussions in lit classes where the prof had a view of the book and its symbolism that the rest of us were expected to kowtow to (or else).

Also, even though thousands of people are reading the books I’m reading, the process always seems personal. It’s not so much a figurative relationship between me and the characters as it is an emersion into the plot, theme, characters, and symbols. Somehow, sitting around with a bunch of people and talking about that emersion seems about as negative as talking with others about one’s sexual experiences.

I’ve never been invited to participate in a panel. Thank goodness. That sounds worse than a book club because many of the people on the panel will probably the gurus, MFA professors, and others who know everything. After some panellist says s/he was impressed with the deep archetypal symbolism of the last chapter, I’d be likely to say that I liked the protagonist’s shirt.

I was in an encounter group once in which each member was expected to say why they loved their spouse or significant other. My thought was, “that’s none of your business.” People talked about feelings of being soul mates, of rowing in the same direction through the problems of life, completing each other’s sentences, etc. I said, “I like the way my wife cooks grits.” The moderator said, “Is that it?” I said, “What else is there?”

You can count on me to deflect questions with intentionally lame comments because it’s better than blurting out info about feelings which I feel more comfortable keeping to myself. This is what I’d do in a book club. So, please don’t invite me to join up.

Malcolm

Malcolm R. Campbell is the author of “Special Investigative Reporter,” a mystery/satire that pokes fun at just about everyone.

Just Released: ‘Special Investigative Reporter’ by Malcolm R. Campbell

Thomas-Jacob Publishing has released my satirical mystery Special Investigative Reporter, which is a change of pace from my Florida Folk Magic series. At present, the Amazon link is displaying the Kindle edition, but will soon include the paerpback and hardcover editions. The book is also available online at Apple, B&N, and Kobo. Your favorite bookstores can order the book under standard terms and conditions from their Ingram Catalogue.

Description

Now Available

In this satirical and somewhat insane lament about the fall of traditional journalism into an abyss of news without facts, Special Investigative Reporter Jock Stewart specializes in tracking down Junction City’s inept and corrupt movers and shakers for his newspaper The Star-Gazer.Since

Stewart is not a team player, he doesn’t trust anyone, especially colleagues and news sources. Stewart, who became a reporter back in the days when real newsmen were supposed to smoke and drink themselves to death while fighting to get the scoop before their competition sobered up, isn’t about to change.

Stewart’s girlfriend leaves him, the mayor’s racehorse is stolen, people are having sex in all the wrong places (whatever that means), and townspeople have fallen into the habit of sneaking around and lying to reporters and cops.

Sure, everyone lies to the cops, but reporters expect gospel truths or else. Stewart may get himself killed doing what he was taught to do in journalism school, but that’s all in a day’s work.

Book Within a Book

In the story, Jock Stewart has released some of his columns in a book called Worst of Jock Stewart. That book is real and can be found here.

The Fine Print

This novel was originally released by another publisher under another title (with the words “Sea of Fire” in it), but went out of print. At a time when people are complaining about biased news sources and “fake news,” the novel is more relevant now than when it first appeared.

A Letter From Jock Stewart

Jock Stewart’s letter to prospective readers, which appears on the dust jacket of the hardcover edition, can also be found on my website.

I hope you have a good time reading this satire.

–Malcolm

Cats enjoying a pile of shoes

There must be hundreds of Facebook graphics showing cats enjoying empty boxes. Our cats certainly do. In fact, if we put anything on the floor from a towel to a receipt from the pharmacy, they’ll lie on top of it.

We’ve been in this house for a little over four years. Since my office is the first room inside the front door, I tend to take off my shoes and leave them next to my desk. They’re probably four or five pairs of shoes, including flip-flops and slippers, there most of the time.

Several months ago our calico cat, Katy, inadvertently lay down in a gap between some of the pairs. When our grey and white cat, Marlo, noticed that, she started hanging out amongst the shoes. Now, Marlo is there almost 24/7 and Katy is there at least half the time.

We’ve had these cats for quite a while and by now we should be used to their habits. But this is a new one. While they move the shoes around to make room for themselves and use the softer ones as pillows, they don’t tear them up or carry them around.

Living with cats is always an adventure.

–Malcolm

Time for a book sale

 

Okay, so I was lazy and didn’t create an updated version of this graphic that says the sale is live now.

Description:

When Police Chief Alton Gravely and Officer Carothers escalate the feud between “Torreya’s finest” and conjure woman Eulalie Jenkins by running her off the road into a north Florida swamp, the borrowed pickup truck is salvaged but Eulalie is missing and presumed dead. Her cat Lena survives. Lena could provide an accurate account of the crime, but the county sheriff is unlikely to interview a pet. 

Lena doesn’t think Eulalie is dead, but the conjure woman’s family and friends don’t believe her. Eulalie’s daughter Adelaide wants to stir things up, and the church deacon wants everyone to stay out of sight. There’s talk of an eyewitness, but either Adelaide made that up to worry the police, or the witness is too scared to come forward.

When the feared Black Robes of the Klan attack the first responder who believes the wreck might have been staged, Lena is the only one who can help him try to fight them off. After that, all hope seems lost, because if Eulalie is alive and finds her way back to Torreya, there are plenty of people waiting to kill her and make sure she stays dead.

Warning: Today’s My Birthday

Yes, I’m a Leo and darned proud of it.

–Malcolm