Why do old posts suddenly catch a lot of people’s attention?

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When I log on to my WordPress dashboard, I see how things are going. Quite often, posts I think will have traction aren’t noticed while silly throw-away posts attract hundreds of readers.

Sometimes, I do a Google search to see if the subject of an old post that suddenly has hundreds of hits has been in the news. This time, it’s my 2011 post Many Glacier Hotel 1963, where the fantasy began. Why are people suddenly reading this old post?

  • I check the news to see if the hotel burnt down, had a string of murders in the basement, or got sued for not having an elevator in the annex.
  • As far as I can see from scanning Amazon, no new books have come out about the hotel that might cause people to put it into their search engines for more information.
  • President Trump isn’t staying there, nor has he unleashed a Tweet Storm about the place.
  • My publisher hasn’t made a surprise announcement to the press that I’m going to be there to talk about my two novels set in the historic structure.

So, I’ve got nothing. If any of you who went there see this post, I would like to know why you went there.

This is very a perplexing thing for a blogger. Why people read what they read. Lately, I saw that a lot of people arrived on my blog after a search for subject XYZ. So, I wrote a post about XYZ. Nobody read it even though my search terms index kept showing me that people were looking for more information about it.

Sometimes I think the Feds are doing this to make me go crazy to they can put me in a home, a One Flew Over the Cukoo’s Nest kind of home. Why would they do that, you wonder. My guess is that it’s because my alter ego Jock Stewart has contributed a lot of guest posts on this blog that made fun of the Feds. (Lately, the real news has become so crazy that Stewart couldn’t think of any way to satirize it.)

Okay, let’s pretend the Feds aren’t going it. Maybe some of you are doing it. You probably have a ringleader, some tough guy or badass chick from Chicago who calls the shots. Why would s/he do this? Kicks? Too much free time? A dislike of bloggers? Nurse Ratched withholds their meds unless they click on old blogs of mine to make me wonder why they’re clicking on old blogs of mine.

I’m sure there are other possibilities. The Russians hacked into my blog or maybe the Mafia did it. Or, possibly aliens from a place where no one has gone before.

Like those cop shows where a crime is committed in the middle of a crowded mall where nobody saw nothin’, I strongly suspect nobody knows why everyone’s headed out to that old Many Glacier Hotel post.

Okay, I can play that game, too, because my hacker software knows who you are and what you did. <g>

Malcolm

Malcolm R. Campbell is the author of fantasy and magical realism novels which, after youve read this post, shouldn’t surprise you.

Hate doesn’t help us fix the racism cancer

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“The House overwhelmingly passed a resolution on Tuesday disapproving of racist remarks by Rep. Steve King, R-Iowa, amid a wave of bipartisan denunciation.” – NBC News

Representative King reportedly told the New York Times that he doesn’t understand why terms like white nationalist and white supremacist are offensive.

He has a history of such statements.

Wikipedia photo

I grew up with people who felt that way in the 1950s in Florida, a state with a large number of lynchings, bombings, and other KKK activity. I learned to hate these people when I was in the first grade. I’ve spent a lifetime trying to come to terms with such hatred, an emotion that seems natural but that we are told is spiritually indefensible.

Hate, we are told, hurts us, keeps us from understanding those with whom we disagree, and while we are destroying ourselves with it, does nothing to harm those in our gunsights.

My natural instincts are not to understand Steve King and all the others like him who are getting to much media attention these days. My natural instincts are to hate him, despise everything he stands for, and to question his intelligence.

Some people are trying to curtail our freedom of speech these days. I resent that. Mr. King has just as much right to say he loves white supremacists as I have to say that I dislike them. If you look up white supremacy on the Internet, you’ll find articles in which those who believe in it have used pseudo-science and mythology to try to justify their beliefs. Frankly, I think most white supremacists are thugs and have zero tolerance for them.

The media is giving them a lot of attention. I guess we have a right to know, but the skewed attention is giving these thugs a voice that (in my view) they do not deserve while giving the public the impression there are more racists per square mile in this country than there are.

I want to hate Mr. King but the gurus out there say that if I hate him I am really not doing him any harm while it destroys me. Scary thought. People like Mr. King ruled my world when I was a child and now, a half century or so later, I’m hearing that I should deplore the sin while loving the sinner. I’m not there yet.

I may never be there. That’s why I write novels that speak out against racism. They are my atonement for the times I remained silent years ago.

Malcolm

Malcolm R. Campbell is the author of “Conjure Woman’s Cat,” “Eulalie and Washerwoman,” and “Lena” all of which are set in the Florida Panhandle of the 1950s when Jim Crow was in charge.

 

 

 

 

 

A cat, a paperback, and a pillow

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Let’s get this out of the way first: I’m older than most of you.

Bookwise, this means that I grew up reading hardbacks and paperbacks and still prefer them to Nooks, Kindles, and whatever else people use to read off the screen.

As 2018 ended, I tallied up the number of copies sold for Conjure Woman’s Cat, Eulalie and Washerwoman, and Lena. (Actually, my publisher did this.) Anyhow, what continues to surprise me is that for all of these books, the paperback editions represent a very small percentage of total sales.

I have Kindle for PC, so I do read books off the screen. However, I spend the entire day looking at a screen, so the last thing I want to do when I relax with an interesting book at the end of the day is read it off the screen. I buy paperbacks when I can and hardbacks when I can’t wait for the paperback edition to come out. Every night before I go to sleep, I prop up in bed with a calico cat named Katy, a paperback book (currently, Tom Clancy’s Dark Zone) and a comfy pillow. The ambiance would be totally spoilt with a Kindle or a Nook.

Yet, even though I’m older than most of you, I don’t feel that out of touch. I have this blog, a Facebook account, and can be found on Twitter. So, I’m not a 1950s person trying to navigate the new millennium. That means, I thought more people would be reading paperback and hardbacks because those are real books. Yes, I know, they cost more, but you really never own the books, do you? They’re saved on Amazon and you’re just accessing them.

If Amazon were to crash and burn, which might not be a bad thing, all of my physical books would still be on the shelves in my office the next day. I have no clue where all my Kindle copies would be. I suspect the answer is “nowhere.”

Plus, if you have a cat next to you in bed, that cat doesn’t want to compete with a Kindle, a tablet, or any other kind of electronics because those cat ears pick up the sounds from the unit, including the demons hard-coded in the software, and they’re (those sounds) not soporific in spite of my white noise machine that covers up the outside world.

So, my advice–not that you’ve listened in the past–is keep the cat, keep the pillow, and ditch the e-book. Yes, I know, there will be a period of withdrawal as you wean yourself from movies and books watched/read off of cell phones. But once you succeed, you’ll feel better about yourself and your reading habits. Seriously, you don’t want to be hooked into the Internet like just another computer, do you?

The other day, I saw an article bemoaning the fact that nobody fixes stuff anymore when it breaks. They just replace it.  So, what happens to your Nook or Kindle when it breaks? You throw it in the trash since recycling centers seldom take electronics. Bad for the Earth, right? When a physical book “breaks,” we can either throw it in the fireplace (which somehow seems wrong) or we can throw it out with the sure and certain knowledge it’s biodegradable.

The bottom line is this: Kindles and Nooks have zero reading ambiance when you’re propped up in bed with your calico cat, but worse yet, they’re not Earth-friendly. Personally, I hope the Earth stays around for a while, so I read paperbacks and hardbacks and see that as part of my bit for humanity. No, it’s not the same as discovering a cure for cancer or a cost-effective way of getting all the plastic out of the oceans, but it’s a step in the right direction.

Malcolm

Malcolm R. Campbell is the author of three folk magic novels set in the Florida Panhandle during the Jim Crow Era in which a conjure woman named Eulalie and a cat named Lena fight the evils of the day

 

 

 

 

Professors, you’re killing your students with books

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I taught in a small college and among my duties was serving as the advisor to a group of students. I wanted to say, “Get out while you’re still alive.”

Why?

Class, you have to read all this shit by the end of the week. Yeah, right.

Because each professor assigned books, in addition to the course textbook, for each student to read during the quarter or semester. First, nobody could read that many books. Second, each professor acted as though s/he was the only professor in the college assigning books to be read during the term.

There was no communication between departments. This meant that each professor assigned books without thinking about the number of books his or her students’ other professors were assigning. Between the time I went to college and the time I taught in college, this problem had gotten worse. Nobody can read 3-4 novels a week when they have other classes to attend.

Putting up with the nonsense of (a) studying the assigned chapters in the textbooks for 3-4 courses per semester and (b) fitting in a hundred pages worth of additional reading from a stack of fiction and nonfiction for each course killed my respect for the educational system. I felt the same way when I was caught up in it as a teacher. I taught journalism. All we had was the textbook. But my colleagues were assigning stacks of books to be read each week and nothing I said about it mattered.

They wanted me to get with the program and, for example, force my students to read a thick book containing all of Hemingway’s war reporting one week and all of some other journalist’s dispatches another week. I wouldn’t do it.

So, we argued about it, the other departmental teachers and I, and the students were lost in the shuffle. No wonder everyone survived on Cliff’s Notes and Monarch Notes and whatever the modern versions of those are today. Frankly, I think that–based on the credit hours of a course–there should be a maximum number of pages/books that can be assigned (including the textbook). We need to increase the credit hours awarded by the course if we add more reading material.

I’m a writer and I disliked high school and college English departments. That’s kind of sad, I think. Those departments did their best to kill my love of reading and writing and, I have a feeling, they’re still doing it today. When will they ever learn?

Malcolm

What It Felt Like When ‘Cat Person’ Went Viral

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“So what was it like to have a story go viral? For a few hours, before I came to my senses and shut down my computer, I got to live the dream and the nightmare of knowing exactly what people thought when they read what I’d written, as well as what they thought about me. A torrent of unvarnished, unpolished opinion was delivered directly to my eyes and my brain. That thousands—and, eventually, millions—of readers had liked the story, identified with it, been affected by it, exhorted others to read it, didn’t make this any easier to take. The story was not autobiographical, but it was, nonetheless, personal—everything I write is personal—and here were all these strangers dissecting it, dismissing it, judging it, fighting about it, joking about it, and moving on.”

Source: What It Felt Like When “Cat Person” Went Viral | The New Yorker

Most authors hope this will happen to one of their articles, short stories, or blog posts because they have been working for years as a virtual unknown writing what reviewers and friends tell them is good stuff even though none of that good stuff sells well on Kindle or anywhere else.

We don’t think about the flip side. Do we really want the world peering through our online windows asking who the hell we are, why the hell we wrote what we wrote, and what exactly was the whole point of it?

When a writer’s novel suddenly becomes a bestseller, the old joke is that s/he is an overnight sensation that was years in the making. That his to say, the public discovered the writer today even though s/he has a resume full of books written over a decade or more that few people noticed.

The dangers of things going viral are, I think, greater with a magazine article or a short story because even if the primary version appears in print, the online version will have a link that makes it easy to access and read quickly in its entirety–as opposed to a 400-page novel. Suddenly, everything about the author and his/her piece is all over the Internet and people are saying this sucks or this is great. Yes, writers dream about becoming known, seeing their work sell, and actually earning a living off their efforts.

I’m not sure going viral as Kristen Roupenian describes in her article is the way I’d want to go. How about you? If you write a short story that does viral, you’ll probably be able to get an agent and a publisher for your book. Yet, are you sure the intrusion of the universe into your writing room is worth it?

Malcolm

LA Walk To End Epilepsy

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There is no cure.

Loved ones of those suffering from Epilepsy walk to raise money. I know so many people who walk these walks for different medical conditions, it’s almost overwhelming.

“Epilepsy is the most common serious brain disorder worldwide with no age, racial, social class, national nor geographic boundaries (World Health Organization). Seizures steal moments and memories, can change lives, impact development, affect learning and can even result in death.”

If you can walk, walk. If you can’t, send a few dollars to those who are.

–Malcolm

If you don’t know where you’re going. . .

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“You’ve got to be very careful if you don’t know where you are going because you might not get there.” – Yogi Berra

This blog came into being after I tinkered with earlier blogs on Blogger, MySpace, Typepad, and Xanga. Since this blog doesn’t have a real niche, you might say that in all its incarnations I never knew where I was going. Except in wholly practical matters like getting on a plane and ending up where my ticket says I’m supposed to end up, I much prefer not to be going to any particular place. I dislike planning.

I took a look at the first post on this blog in 2008 to see if I began with a plan, forgot about it, and then decided there was no need for a plan:

As of 2008

Photo by João Barbosa on Unsplash

A friend asked in a recent post on her MySpace blog “How Do You Define Success?”

Essentially, her answer was finding the freedom to be herself and to follow her dreams. The challenge for her–for many of us–was that while following our dreams requires a measure of security and financial well-being, if we spend too much time or stress establishing that, we may not ever get to our dreams.

My answer to her question was similar to hers. Success to me is doing what I’m here to do: making an inner journey and writing about it. This blog represents my random thoughts, and a lot of yours, about the challenges we face and about the things we see along the trail.

I’m influenced, as many of you can tell, by the work of such writers as Edward Abbey and Colin Fletcher and by the dedication of volunteers in such organizations as the Sierra Club and the Nature Conservancy. I’m also influenced by Jane Roberts’ “Seth Books,” by the writings of Carlos Castaneda and Caroline Myss.

As we walk the trail, we learn–as Carlos was taught–that our outer journey is a reflexion of our inner journey and, conversely, that if we are impeccable in what we do in the physical world, we will be more centered within.

For me, success is being on the path and experiencing what I find there and then putting those feelings into words on the page.

What about you?

As of Right Now

My novels and blog posts still reflect my inner journey–more or less. The journey has been satisfying, if not profitable. This doesn’t mean I couldn’t have done better, though I’m not sure better would have yielded the same lessons.

What about you? Have you changed your basic philosophy and/or how you view success since 2008?

I envy people who keep diaries, real diaries rather than those they write in such a way that people years down the road will read them with great admiration. I could never do that. I either couldn’t stay with it or I couldn’t stay with it without fictionalizing what was happening while it was happening. Maybe the embellishments were the real me. I don’t have a clue, and that’s probably just as well. But those can do keep honest diaries can go back and see what the hell they were thinking long, long ago.

I think this blog is just as chaotic now as it was when it began. I like it that way because it makes every day a blank slate where everything is possible. Plans seem to limit what is possible because they’re based on preconceived notions about what I ought to be doing tomorrow or next week.

My wife will tell you that–like most men–I don’t like to stop and ask directions. Frankly, I don’t know why that lack of practicality is a “male thing.” If we’re on the way to the hospital ER or maybe to pick up the Pulitzer Prize, I’d ask somebody where we were and where we needed to go.

Otherwise, I don’t want to know. I want the road to surprise me.

Malcolm

Malcolm R. Campbell is the author of the Florida Folk Magic Stories, three novels in one e-book.