‘Somebody said an airplane crashed into a building’

So the comments at work began on a Thursday morning in 2001. When the second plane hit a building, we knew this was more than a simple crash.

Most of us went home and watched the news, saw both buildings fall, hoped until the last minute that United flight 93 would survive, but as we learned what happened, we could only praise the heroism of those who fought back against their hijackers.

Later we remember the President visiting ground zero, people saying they couldn’t hear what he was saying, and then he grabbed a bullhorn and said, “Can you hear me now?” Those words were what we needed.

I learned that an online friend of mine was in one of the buildings when the plane hit, how she made her way down countless stairs, emerged into windswept ash and the cries of the lost and wounded, and walked a mile in a pair of shoes she found on the street.

The stats–the number of dead, the dollars of damage done, the squabbles over what to do with the site, the size of an attack that dwarfed Pearl Harbor–all failed to catch our attention when compared to the work of the first responders and everyday people who were heroic in spite of their fears on that day.

I don’t know how New Yorkers feel when they visit the memorial. The project had so many competing ideas, I remember thinking at the time that the result was going to look like everything done by a committee. Nonetheless, I think we did the best we could, and I hope people are reverent there and treat it as sacred ground, in the same manner we respect of Battleship Arizona memorial and the Tomb of the Unknowns.

So far, I haven’t had the opportunity to visit this memorial, and if I did, I think it would be too much to bear for I would hear the voices still screaming there as I do when I quietly walk through Civil War battlefields and cemeteries. Each of us interprets the aftermath as we can even though we may not understand the memories of the dead or the survivors who suffered this tragedy in person: one can only feel humble in their long shadows.




So, you think Art Fleming was the first host of Jeopardy!

Or, possibly, you don’t think that because you weren’t yet born during the years 1964 to 1975 when Fleming was the host or you’ve just assumed that Alex Trebek has always been the host going back to the days when the Psalms were being written.

Actually, Laurence R. Campbell (my dad) was the first host of the show even though we never could find a network to pick it up. Word is, Merv Griffin created Jeopardy!  in 1964, and that’s true. What’s left out of the story if the fact that Merv stopped by our house in Florida for dinner when we were playing a spirited round of “Questions” (as we called it) around the dinner table.

We had a pot roast that day. And Parker House rolls. And Merv taking a lot of notes and phoning in ideas to the network brass. So, he went down in history as the originator of the show first called “What’s the Question?” and we didn’t even get into the credits.

Dad asked all the questions. They were random. My two brothers and I shouted out answers. Mother occasionally answered a question when it was obvious none of us knew the answer. There were no winners or losers. There were no prizes. Just a rollicking good time.

Dad was a university professor. It occurred to me that “Questions” was more than a good time. It was homeschooling before the term became popular and it was Jeopardy! before Art Fleming began the televised show as the host. The family watched Jeopardy! in those days, and we tuned in almost every night, but it was never quite the same as answering questions around the dinner table while eating pot roast and Parker House rolls.

For those of you who don’t know what Parker House rolls are, I’m sorry, but that information is classified.


Malcolm R. Campbell is the author of “Fate’s Arrows,” released a few days ago by Thomas-Jacob Publishing.

It’s fun having a website again

I cancelled my old website because it was becoming expensive, truth be told, it cost more than my books were making. Now I have a new one. I’m using Homestead again, and have found an inexpensive plan. It doesn’t include a domain name like my old sites, but at least I can afford it.

You can find the website here: https://malcolmcampbell.homesteadcloud.com/

I know, I know, that URL isn’t memorable. But it’s cheap.

This time out, I’ve resolved not to allow the web site to become as cluttered as my desk. So far, it has a home page, and about me page, books, contact, and audiobooks

I’ve made that resolution before, but then as time went by, I kept tinkering with my websites, adding a little here and a little there, until the whole shebang was quite a mess. “More” turned out to be “less,” a confusing site where visitors didn’t know what the hell they were supposed to do.

Will the new website sell thousands of books? Probably not. But for better or worse, it’s an online presence, something all writers are supposed to have. We’re not sure why we’re supposed to have it, but if we don’t have it, we’re considered wannabees, and good lord, that’s a fate worse than death.


Everybody knows everybody here, so a drowning brings out all the neighbors

A steady line of cars has come and gone at the house across the road where the parents of the 34-year-old man who drowned in a nearby lake yesterday live. The son died on his father’s birthday and his daughter-in-law’s child’s birthday.

Lake Allatoona, GA.

We don’t know them well, but well enough to know the news and that the family gathered at the son’s house last night and told stories into the night.

Now, nothing will never be the same. Those who remain seem to bear the brunt of a family member’s death, for they are still here and have to cope with it, settle all that needs to be settled–his house, his company, his will, all he left behind.

I cannot imagine a parent celebrating his/her own birthday again with this tragedy inscribed on the date. My brother and his wife lost their son to suicide and they make sure they are never home on that sad anniversary. Our neighbors might end up doing the same thing, avoiding everything that reminds them of yesterday afternoon.

As weekends go, the Labor Day weekend holds its share of accidents and other tragedies. For the most part, we don’t know those whom we lost. Today, I know his name and his parents’ names. He was a great guy, folks are saying, and I don’t doubt them. I didn’t know him but I think it’s sad that he’s gone. I worry about his family most of all and how they will move forward. I hope they can.



Are you afraid to say what you think?

Many have said we are losing our freedom of speech. Basically, large segments of society don’t want freedom of speech, and they are making it less and less free by imposing penalties for using it. The daily news is filled with stories about people who spoke out and then got fired from their jobs, banned from the organizations they used to call home, or kicked senseless (or worse) on a city street.

People no longer consider there’s any reason to be civil to each other: just look at the name-calling in the social media or the public statements made about newsmakers that are so vitriolic they would have been considered libel a few years ago. It’s not much of a stretch to say that if we–as a society–are now allowing violence under the threat of more violence, we’ll soon de-criminalize violence. One deterrent to Freedom of Speech is mob-enforced political correctness.

This means bands of thugs can torch a building, burn a car, or kick a person to death–all fully documented by videos and eyewitnesses–then they’ll continue doing it because–as one apologist said–violence is pleasurable–and we’ll begin living lives as though we’re all in a jungle of fang and claw. In some cities, we’re already there.

In some ways, the current chaos of violence occurs because people feel entitled to be violent. So it is, that I no longer feel safe enough to:

  • Put a political bumper sticker on my car
  • Display a candidate’s yard sign in front of my house
  • Post about the pros and cons of parties or candidates on Facebook
  • Wear a political hat or tee shirt
  • Be seen with anyone wearing a political hat or tee shirt

The problem is larger than this list, of course. But I no longer feel safe enough to say how much larger it is on this blog. I will say, that most of us see and hear enough stuff daily to know how and why the problem is larger and what it takes to solve it.



Okay, Malcolm, what are you going to write next?

Yesterday, I announced the publication of Fate’s Arrows, the fourth novel in the Florida Folk Magic Series. Today, people are asking, “So, what are you going to write next?”

Actually, we have more to do with Fate’s Arrows. We’re still working on the hardcover edition, we’re contacting review sites, and we’re waiting for the printer to finish the edition that will be sold in bookstores.

Asking me what I’m going to do next is like asking a new mom what she’s going to do next 24 hours after she delivered a baby.

Or, it’s like those commercials where a major sport’s figure has just finished a big game. The announcer says, “Hey Bob, you just won the super bowl. What are you going to do now.” The answer was, “I’m going to Disneyland.”

My answer to that question right now, is “I don’t have a clue.” Even if I wanted to go to Disney World, I couldn’t because travel and venues are still restricted. My feet still hurt from our last trip several years ago.

I keep threatening my publisher with another sequel to The Sun Singer. I wrote the first version of that novel in 1980. It’s gone through multiple editions as has its sequel Sarabande. So much time has gone by, I’m not sure I can face returning to that hero’s journey and heroine’s journey world in Glacier National Park and pick up the story again. I’m not the same person I was when I wrote those books, or even the same person I was when I limped back to the car after our last trip to Disney World.

So maybe I’ll just sit here and wait for Viola Davis to call and say that JuVee Productions wants an option on Fate’s Arrows. Davis can play the conjure woman, Cynthia Erivo can play Julia, and Jennifer Lawrence can play Pollyanna. If you know Viola, send her a copy of all four books in the Florida Florida Folk Magic Series.

Meanwhile, I’m watching the grass grow, mowing the grass, and then watching it grow again.


“Fate’s Arrows” is published by Thomas-Jacob Publishing of Deltona, Florida.




New novel released today, ‘Fate’s Arrows’

Click here for Amazon editions.

Thomas-Jacob Publishing and Malcolm R. Campbell announce the 9/3/20 release of Fate’s Arrows in paperback and e-book. The hardcover edition will be available soon, The novel is the fourth in the Florida Folk Magic Series.

The novel is also available at Barnes and Noble (web site),  Apple, and Kobo, and will be available soon to bookstores via their Ingram Catalog.

Fate’s Arrows Description

In 1954, the small Florida Panhandle town of Torreya had more Klansmen per acre than fire ants. Sparrow, a bag lady; Pollyanna, an auditor; and Jack, the owner of Slade’s Diner, step on fire ants and Klansmen whenever they can while an unknown archer fires fate-changing arrows at the Klan’s leadership. They are not who they appear to be, and while they take risks, they must be discrete lest they end up in the Klan’s gunsights.

When Julia and Eldon, a married couple from Harlem, New York, run afoul of the Klan because of Eldon’s pro-union stance at the sawmill, they find themselves down at the ancient hanging tree where two policemen, hiding their identity beneath white robes and hoods, are the ones holding the noose.

Meanwhile, Sparrow seems to have disappeared. When the ne’er-do-well Shelton brothers beat up the Klavern’s exalted cyclops because they think he harmed Sparrow, they, too, find themselves the focus of a KKK manhunt.

Bolstered by support from a black cat and an older-than-dirt conjure woman, Pollyanna persists in her fight against the Klan, determined to restore law and order to a town overwhelmed by corruption.


Scenes from my childhood

The burning cross shown here in 1956 to protest singer and activist Paul Robeson is typical of Klan activity from my childhood years in the Florida Panhandle.

Florida Memory Photo

Paul Robeson had a great voice. We had a few of his recordings. But the KKK didn’t care about his voice or his records. They cared about his activism–as the sign says: “We protest Paul Robeson and all other communists.”

These are the memories of growing up that brought me to write the Florida Folk Magic Series of novels and to hate the Klan with a passion. It saddens me greatly to see Klan-like groups openly screaming out their hatred during these chaotic times.


Jonathan Strange and Mr Norrell author to return after 16-year gap

Sixteen years after readers were introduced to the magical world of Jonathan Strange and Mr Norrell, Susanna Clarke is to publish her second novel.

Source: Jonathan Strange and Mr Norrell author to return after 16-year gap | Books | The Guardian

Her first novel seemingly came out of nowhere, sold four million copies, and then she was silent except for a short piece linked to Jonathan Strange and Mr. Norrell.

I can absolve 2020 for some of its crimes because of the upcoming publication of Piranesi.

Publisher’s Description

Piranesi’s house is no ordinary building: its rooms are infinite, its corridors endless, its walls are lined with thousands upon thousands of statues, each one different from all the others. Within the labyrinth of halls an ocean is imprisoned; waves thunder up staircases, rooms are flooded in an instant. But Piranesi is not afraid; he understands the tides as he understands the pattern of the labyrinth itself. He lives to explore the house.

There is one other person in the house-a man called The Other, who visits Piranesi twice a week and asks for help with research into A Great and Secret Knowledge. But as Piranesi explores, evidence emerges of another person, and a terrible truth begins to unravel, revealing a world beyond the one Piranesi has always known.

For readers of Neil Gaiman’s The Ocean at the End of the Lane and fans of Madeline Miller’s Circe, Piranesi introduces an astonishing new world, an infinite labyrinth, full of startling images and surreal beauty, haunted by the tides and the clouds.

Personally, I classify this book for lovers if magic and fantasy as a book not to be missed.


At best, we don’t want to be misunderstood

People are often wary about being understood because they think being understood begins with them having to share too much private information with others. However, being misunderstood is another can of worms because it begins with others thinking you are something you aren’t or that you did something you didn’t do.

In marriages, hurt feelings–and perhaps, separations and divorces–come from an unintentional cross word or something said in a fit of anger or the wrong impression given by saying something that isn’t clear.

The same thing can happen between good friends, business or club colleagues, or neighbors

In employer/employee relationships all kinds of things can happen when the employee doesn’t understand where the boss is coming from and vice versa.

What amazes me is how little it often takes for communications between people to get into a mess and how hard it is to get things out of that mess.

I suppose pride is part of it, feeling hurt is part of it, and the surprise of feeling misunderstood is part of it.  Sometimes a friend can see the problem quicker than those involved, noticing that the obvious question that should be asked isn’t getting asked and/or that the best thing either person can say isn’t being said.

This reminds me of novels and TV shows where the shit hits the fan and things never get cleared up. Readers and viewers, of course, can say, “Well, if s/he had just asked XYZ, everything would have been cleared up in a second.” When an author omits the most obvious question any sane person would ask, they’re screwing with their readers by keeping the story going long after it should have been over.

“Real life” is a bit more complex. As I say this, I think of Eric Berne (Games People Play) and his rather cynical reasoning why relationship problems that look easy (to an outsider) to fix never get fixed. Basically, people enjoy/need the uproar more than they need the serenity of a good marriage, a good friendship, or a good work environment.

In the chaos of today’s world, I’m saddened by the issues that people would rather argue about than fix/solve. Of course, the media isn’t helping. Both CNN and FOX often refuse to cover stories that don’t match their corporate agendas. This keeps a lot of people ignorant. And, it builds misunderstandings where none would exist if everyone were given the facts as news instead of opinions as news.

I wish more people would go to multiple news sites before forming an opinion about the issues of the day.  Then they would get the answers to the questions some sources never ask (but should).

Many people are being misunderstood these days because one party or the other likes it that way. I think we need a psychologist who treats political parties, PACS, think tanks, and social service groups. Then maybe we’ll find the unity people say they want while sabotaging every realistic approach to achieving it.

Maybe they can save a few marriages in the process.