Author Archives: Malcolm R. Campbell

About Malcolm R. Campbell

Malcolm R. Campbell is the author of "Sarabande," "The Sun Singer," "At Sea," "Conjure Woman's Cat," "Eulalie and Washerwoman," and "Lena."

The audiobook edition of ‘Lena’ is now available

Standard

 

Holly Palance has done a wonderful job narrating this final novel in the Florida Folk Magic series. For those of you who like listening to a story, Holly will draw you into this one and you just might find yourself listening to the book in one sitting.

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.

Click on the cover to buy the book on Amazon. Click here to buy it directly from Audible.

–Malcolm

 

 

 

 

 

 

Advertisements

The Writer’s Solitude 

Standard

“A psychiatrist friend once pointed out to me that one of the definitions of psychosis is a fixed belief in an imaginary world lasting months or years, which no one but the patient himself is able to perceive. He wondered aloud if this wasn’t also a decent definition of a novelist. Having recently emerged from five years of concentration on my own imaginary world of my latest book, I think he has a point. Which has left me considering the disposition that leads people to write in the first place, and the relationship between their actual and imaginary lives.”

Source: The Perpetual Solitude of the Writer | Literary Hub

Adam Haslett adds that in order to interact with others through our writing, we have to have periods of alone time first.

It’s odd, I think, that those who choose solitude are viewed as antisocial, perhaps nuts, by others until they publish a well-received book. It’s culture shock to come out of one’s cave and interact with others and those others, while they like saying they know those authors, react to their emergence from that cave with the same concern they do when a mental patient escapes.

What a strange world writing is.

Malcolm

Another ‘this-and-that’ post

Standard
  • This week’s thriller (my escapist reading) was The Terminal List by Jack Carr. It’s one of the most high-pitched novels I’ve read in a while. It’s hard to say anything about it without spoiling the story. Suffice it to say, when a SEAL team walks into an ambush, the bad guys turn out to be Americans out to make a buck rather than ISIS or the Taliban. The LCDR in charge of the team is more than ticked off about the loss of life and who’s responsible for it. Written by a SEAL, a few parts of the story are blacked out because the powers that be thought he gave away too much.
  • My editing changes for an upcoming book of short stories called Widely Scattered Ghosts have been sent to the publisher. Now we’re waiting for a proof copy to see if any fixes need to be made before the book is released. You can see what it’s about on my website’s Spotlight Page.
  • I’ve also been working on a rather dark story about a man who was put in a rest home because his kids thought he was spending all the money they “deserved” to inherit. This story has been sent off to a magazine that’s very hard to get into, but I always remain hopeful about these kinds of things.
  • I seldom unfriend people on Facebook. I did today because, in a thread about rape, she said it’s not up to women to fix the rape problem. I didn’t disagree but suggested that while we’re looking for ways to change the rape culture, more women could at least take advantage of defense courses. She said women shouldn’t have to. After more back and forth about that, she said I wasn’t a real man and needed to respect women. I finally lost my patience when she got into slamming me as a person rather than debating the issue.
  • Speaking of websites, I’ve spent some time lately trying to make my website more interesting. I see the visitor counts going up, so perhaps some of the new pictures and copy are luring people back for multiple visits. Now, we’ll see whether any of those people buy my books which, of course, is the point of having an author’s website.
  • For reasons unknown, my old post about fairy tale structure still gets more visits every week than most of my other posts combined. Those of you who like fairy tales might enjoy this new collection of re-imagined fairy tales by Dora Goss. I’m enjoying it. I’m a long-time fan of her writing, including The Strange Case of the Alchemist’s Daughter and its sequel European Travel for the Monstrous Gentlewoman.
  • I tend to post quotes on my Facebook profile at the end of the day. My current favorite comes from musician and poet Joy Harjo: “The creative act amazes me. Whether it’s poetry, whether it’s music, it’s an amazing process, and it has something to do with bringing forth the old out into the world to create and to bring forth that which will rejuvenate.” Frankly, I don’t know how the creative act works. That’s why I said in my last post that I get bored reading or talking about it with other authors. We all do what we do without the need for theories.
  • Now, I’m looking for a new story to tell. When an author finishes a story, s/he suddenly feels empty because all the characters have left. It’s like the end of a summer romance. You know it’s going to happen, but you’re never ready for it.

–Malcolm

Do I want to go into the woods and write?

Standard

The short answer is no.

I subscribe to several writers’ magazines. I enjoy the articles and interviews. My eyes glaze over when I see ads for writer’s retreats. Many of these–some you pay for and some you compete for–feature cabins in the woods for writers who want to get away from it all and do nothing but write.

That’s supposed to be a writer’s ultimate dream, well, not counting having a bestseller, lunching with J. K. Rowling, or watching a blockbuster movie with your name in the credits.

The first thing that comes to mind about writing in the woods is that it’s not hard to live in the woods and that if a writer needs to live in the woods in order to write, then s/he would live in the woods all the time. The whole idea of traveling across country for 500 or 1000 miles (which is a lot of hassle) to stay in a special in-the-woods house seems like the worst thing I could possibly do because it would add pressure to the work.

Our family has rented vacation cabins in the woods. They’re often cheaper than hotels near tourist areas. We have a nice setting, plenty of space (especially when kids are around), and a place to use as our HQ for going on sight-seeing day trips. Plus, we can cook a lot of our meals there cheaper than restaurants, play games, and enjoy quality family time.

That’s relaxing. But to go to one of those same cabins, set up my computer, and say, “Okay, Malcolm, write something” pretty much guarantees that I won’t be able to write something. I don’t want to get away from it all to write because I really need “it all” to be able to write. That is, I write in my natural setting in between taking out the garbage, washing dishes, going to the grocery store, etc.

Sure, it’s harder to find time to write if one has to commute an hour to and from work, bring work projects home, or has a noisy family life in a small house. And, if that’s where a writer is and if s/he needs to escape for a week or a month to get any real creative work done, I’m okay with that.

It just doesn’t work for me. Neither does going to a college or a writer’s retreat where one has quiet time to write but is expected to meet other writers daily for specified amounts of time to talk about writing or to meet with students and give seminars about writing. Talking to other writers about writing bores me because I don’t care about everyone’s pet theories any more than they’re going to care about mine. I guess such discussions are supposed to help us grow. I’m overly cynical about those kinds of discussions because, well, I have no idea how I write because I just do it. So, I want to stay at home and not go someplace else where I have to talk about it in exchange for sitting in a cabin somewhere on the grounds of the retreat’s fields, woods, beach, or swamp.

On the flip side of the coin, what if I tried out the cabin in the woods or the writer’s retreat and got addicted to it? If that happened, I’d probably no longer be able to write at home. Well, there’s a built-in excuse for writer’s block as well as a justification for spending more money on renting cabins in the woods than my books can possibly earn.

It just seems easier to write where I am.

–Malcolm

Coming soon, “Widely Scattered Ghosts,” a collection of nine stories. To learn more, click on the cover picture.

How do experienced editors find all the mistakes?

Standard

If you’ve come here looking for editing help, all hope is lost.

I asked the question because I’ve been going through my collection of nine ghost stories, cleaning up the typos and spelling errors. I finally sent off the corrected manuscript this afternoon.

Evil Spirit

But here’s the thing. I know for a certainty that if I read through the manuscript again, I’ll find more typos. They (various gurus) say that a writer is the last person that ought to be proofreading his or her work. They are right. We get distracted by the story and start tinkering with the dialogue or the action and forget all about looking for mistakes.

I’ve decided that experienced editors are bionic in some way or (if you’re a Star Trek fan) part of an inhuman collective called the BORG. Otherwise, they couldn’t find all the mistakes the rest of us miss. The trouble is, these people charge $100 a minute, much more than the book will probably earn. So, we proofread our own stuff and hope we don’t get dinged by a reviewer who writes, “This story was pretty good except for a shitload of errors.”

I’m not sure I want to trust a reviewer who uses the word “shitload.”

But readers trust those reviewers and once they see the book is sinking like a stone on Amazon (due to the weight of that shitload), they (the readers) start looking for more mistakes. BobsYourUncle from Champaign Illinois comments that he has never seen a green cardinal except in a bad dream. RomanceGirl from South Florida comments that the sex was unrealistic and that she ought to know. FlyingNun from Rome says the book has too many pagan references in it and that the author and all the characters are going to hell.

The whole shebang starts because somewhere in the novel, the author accidentally used “your” instead of “you’re.” Once those comments get started on Amazon, they spread to Twitter where mobs of unwashed critics slam the book even though they haven’t read it. If you’ve read the news lately, you know this can happen, especially in the YA world.

There are days when an author thanks his or her lucky stars that the grammar Nazis and the worst of the general public haven’t heard of him or her because if you miss a typo, you have a target on your back. So does your book.

Let me suggest a solution. If you learn hoodoo or Voodoo, you can hide hexes within your books. When you do this, innocent-looking descriptions and inane dialogue passages contain groups of letters that summon evil spirits who don’t like people who go on Twitter, Amazon, or GoodReads and say nasty things about books. Readers who aren’t doing anything wrong have nothing to worry about (usually).

According to a recent poll, evil spirits charge less than editors. So, when it comes to choosing whether to pay $100 a minute for an editor or mixing up some graveyard dirt and rusty nails for evil spirits, what do you think most savvy authors are going to do?

–Malcolm

 

 

 

Bestselling Fantasy Writer Christopher Paolini Kicks of New B&N Residency Program

Standard

Book Bits Special

from Barnes and Noble

New York, NY – February 4, 2019 – Barnes & Noble, Inc. (NYSE: BKS), the world’s largest retail bookseller, today announced that it will host fantasy writer Christopher Paolini for a 10-month author residency to celebrate his internationally bestselling Inheritance Cycle series, as well as his new collection of three stories set in the world of Alagaësia: The Fork, the Witch and the Worm. As part of this national tour, Paolini will appear at 11 Barnes & Noble locations from March through December 2019 with an enhanced customer experience that includes a presentation by Paolini, a booksigning, exclusive trivia, social media photo opportunities with an exclusive backdrop, and an exclusive giveaway, while supplies last.

“We are so excited to be working with Random House Children’s Books to host author Christopher Paolini on this exciting author residency tour,” said Stephanie Fryling, Vice President of Merchandising, Children’s Books at Barnes & Noble. “Fans will have the chance to have an exclusive experience with Paolini and enter the world of Eragon in a way like never before at Barnes & Noble stores across the country.”

Wikipedia Photo

Christopher Paolini is best known as the author of the Inheritance Cycle, a bestselling series comprised of four books including Eragon, Eldest, Brisingr and Inheritance. Paolini wrote Eragon shortly after graduating high school at age 15. The Fork, the Witch and the Worm is Paolini’s newest book in the fantasy series, which debuted at #1 on The New York Times Young Adult Bestseller list.

“It has been such a blast meeting so many Eragon fans while on tour for The Fork, the Witch, and the Worm. I look forward to meeting even more of them on my national Barnes & Noble 2019 Residency Tour,” Paolini said.

The tour will kick off in Paolini’s hometown of Bozeman, MT, on March 4. The full list of tour dates are below.

Barnes & Noble Christopher Paolini 2019 Residency Tour Dates:

Bozeman, MT, Monday, March 4, 5 PM
Boise, ID, Saturday, April 13, 6 PM
Albuquerque, NM, Friday, May 10, 7 PM
Edina, MN, Sunday, June 9, 1 PM
Briargate, Colorado Springs, CO, Friday, June 14, 2 PM
Exton, PA, Saturday, July 13, 1 PM
Akron, OH, Friday, August 9, 7 PM
Springfield, MO, Saturday, September 14, 3 PM
Grand Rapids, MI, Friday, October 11, 6:30 PM
Orem, UT, Saturday, November 9, 2 PM
Stonebriar Mall, Frisco, TX, Sunday, December 8, 2 PM

Briefly Noted: ‘The Hart Brand’ by Johnny D. Boggs

Standard

Many men in my generation grew up watching westerns at the theater and on TV. The first movie I remember seeing was “The Big Sky” based on the A.B. Gutherie’s 1947 novel set in Montana. Name a western movie made between 1940 and 1970, and I probably saw it. Yes, I liked “Shane” and “High Noon,” and some years later, “Lonesome Dove.” Yet, I haven’t read a western in years, much less gone to a western genre film.

You can tell just how long I’ve been away from westerns when I confess that when a friend who was downsizing his book collection gave me a copy of The Hart Brand, I’d never heard of author Johnny D. Boggs even though he’s prolific, viewed by many as the best westerns genre author in the business, and the winner of multiple Spur Awards.

I enjoyed the yarn.

We’re talking about a western for readers who are serious about westerns set in the days of Pat Garrett and the 1890s New Mexico Territory. Greenhorn Caleb Hart, whose father runs a mercantile in Missouri, heads west at 14 to work on his uncle’s ranch and send his paychecks back home to help support the family.

The book’s style and tone remind me of western novels of an earlier era and, for a story about a huge ranch, a hard-as-nails uncle Frank, cattle rustlers, strained family relationships, and frontier justice, the writing is perfect.

The “Booklist” review said, “Boggs writes with a drawling assurance, maintaining a keen eye for the details of life on the range. This is a fine western story about family ties and loyalty, set among cowboys rather than gunslingers, but with plenty enough action to satisfy.”

I don’t plan to go back to reading westerns, but this novel was an interesting change of pace. In a review, I would probably give it four stars. The writing is good enough for five stars but the story, in one form or another, has been told a thousand times. Nonetheless, a fun book. If you’re a fan of the genre, you’ll probably enjoy it.

Malcolm