Do I really need an e-mail address from this blog site?

This promotion from WordPress has been running on my dashboard for a while. The good news is, it doesn’t seem expensive. The bad news is, it doesn’ seem expensive. I suppose this is a good service for those who can really use it. Yet, for those of us who probably don’t need it, $3.50 a month looks quite different when I add that up to $42.00 per year.

If I’m James Patterson or John Grisham, then maybe having my entire media presence tied together makes sense. However, if I’m any of those people, I don’t really need everything tied together because nobody’s going to notice it or care about it one way or the other.

My first question to WordPress–if we were having a discussion about this–would be: “Will that $42.00 e-mail address sell more than $42.00 in books a year?”

I’ve done a lot of things that were supposed to portray me as a professional writer. My view is that most of them weren’t noticed by the people they were supposed to influence: publishers, movie studios, agents, bookstore, book distributors, and prospective readers. Needless to say, looking bad isn’t good, though looking good may not be as important as the people selling writers all these “makes you look good” services say it is.

It comes down to this: if you can afford to throw money at your book marketing, you don’t need to throw money at it. If you can’t afford it, it won’t help.

You’ve probably guessed that I’m not going to add a malcolm@malcolmsroundtable.com e-mail address to my life.

On the other hand, if you think I’m wrong about this, please send me $42.00 and I’ll give it a try.

Malcolm

Malcolm R. Campbell is the author of a lot of books that should be on your bookshelves.

Supply chain crunch leads to spam shortages

New York, NY, Star-Gazer News Service, October 25, 2021–As warnings about new shortages in grocery store items and potential supply problems in publishing float through Wall Street’s top-floor corner offices, analysts are noticing scattered shortages in spam, sources said here today.

While most prominent bloggers and e-mail newsletter outlet managers say spam still seems to be flowing freely throughout the Internet, small-scale operations believe spammers have targeted their operations 20% less than last year. Spam, some say, has become thinner, smaller, and less rich.

Spam concept illustration. hacking or advertising emails on computer. |  CanStockAccording to Maverick Jones, chairman and CEO of the All American Phishing and Spamming Association, “Higher production costs and the reduced availability of spurious content have led many practitioners to reduce the size and quality of their materials rather like candy bar companies that reduced the size of their products rather than raising prices.”

Wall Street analyst Algernon Moncrieff said that while readers detest spam and phishing, the practices are indicative of an economy’s health. “Deteriorating spam of reduced quality is a warning sign that the federal government is trying to micromanange private industry in the name of so-called ‘common good’ policies.”

As of press time, both major parties were blaming each other for the spam boondoggle while splinter parties said the whole problem was yet another “horror caused by Facebook.”

Blog readers such as Gwendolen Fairfax believe posts aren’t as much fun as they used to be without the sport of dodging spam. Dr Chasuble believes aggressive spam provides a learning experience for young adults. Cecily Cardew thinks the “creative lights have gone out all over the multiverse.”

Informed sources warn that hoarding spam will only lead to increased shortages and more intense supply chain disruptions from fake Viagra to ineffective vitamin supplements.

“Old people will be first to suffer,” said Jones, “followed by Congressmen and women.”

Jock Stewart, Special Investigative Reporter

A second blog?

My website has a blog setting, but I’ve ignored it up to now because (as far as I can tell) the blog has to be created on the site rather than imported as I have done on my previous author sites.

Wikipedia graphic

With apparently nothing better to do this afternoon, I created a second blog on my author’s website. One thing I don’t want to do is copy posts back and forth between the two blogs. Yes, that would save time, but it seems like cheating, especially for those who read both blogs. The first post on the second blog has been written. And yet, just what the hell have I done?

Right, one blog is okay. Two blogs = lunacy. But then, I’ve never claimed to be sane except when I wrote my will and had to begin by saying that I was of sound mind. Ha. So here we are with an annoucement about the new blog. Wow. Yay. Allrighty. And yet, I think you can be sure that if I realize I can’t handle two blogs, the second blog will disappear without any fanfare. Yep, we’ll play like it never happened.

For now, the new blog exists. Will it exist tomorrow? I don’t know.

–Malcolm

T

A Glacier Park Novel

Malcolm R. Campbell has been the author of blogs on Typepad, Blogger, Writing Up, and several other sites that no longer exist. Oh, and when he’s not blogging, he writes novels like “The Sun Singer.”

Where were you last Friday at 3 p. m.?

Don’t you just hate it when a police detective asks you a question like that? My first thought would probably be, “Uh oh. I need an alibi for something, probably something bad.” In “real life,” I wouldn’t have a clue even though suspect characters in police dramas seem to have a clock inside their heads that remembers, “No, yeah, I was drinking sidecars with Bill Smith and Bob’s bar on 79th street.”

No worries, though, I’m not a cop. According to WordPress statistics, a fair number of you were reading this blog last Friday at 3 p. m. Why I wonder.

  • Did you just get home from school?
  • Did you wake up from last night’s drunk (all those sidecars with Bill Smith)?
  • Did you get bored staring out the windows of your corner office on the penultimate floor of a downtown office building where workers assumed you were making important decisions on behalf of the company?

On the other hand, there might be positive, less frivolous reasons why you were here last Friday at 3 p. m.

  • You were looking for information and didn’t want to go to one of those websites with a paywall there it costs $45/hour to read something that only a person with 25 PhDs can understand.
  • Reading my words has become a religious experience; no drugs or costumes required.
  • You keep hoping I’ll blurt out the endings of my novels so you have an “edge” for the book report in Mrs. Johnson’s 4 p. m. English 401 class.

Quite possibly, you’re stalking me because you think that, as a writer, I have $10000000000000 in my checking account. If so, you’re wasting your time. Most writers, not counting people like James Patterson, don’t make enough off their writing to pay the bills. But it’s flattering if you think that I do.

Frankly, I’m happy you stopped by even if it wasn’t on a Friday at 3 p.m. Of course, reading my blog isn’t much of an alibi. But then most of us don’t need an alibi. We don’t, do we?

–Malcolm

Malcolm R. Campbell

Publisher: Thomas-Jacob Publishing

Website

Facebook Author’s Page

Amazon Author’s Page

If you like satire, “Special Investigative Reporter” is the novel for you. Have a friend take a picture with a date/time stamp of you reading it in case you need an alibi.

New Blog Theme – No Longer Contains Subliminal Messages

No, I’m not turning over a new leaf with this new blog theme, nor launching a series of books that knocks James Patterson off the bestseller list. I get bored with themes fairly quickly. When products come out with new packaging, they write something like “NEW LOOK” on the packaging often followed by “SAME GREAT STUFF.”

Makes me wonder why the new look. Perhaps the manufacturer removed something bad from the product. If so, they can’t really say, “No longer with traces of mercury.” Or, “No longer infringes on patents of three competing products.” Maybe they just wanted to attract the younger generation.

Years ago, we worried about subliminal messages, primarily at movie theaters when we learned that some theaters were flashing messages on the screen so quickly that the eye couldn’t register them, stuff like “BUY POPCORN.” I can’t remember how effective those messages were. People took a dim view of them because behind the fairly harmless urge to rush out to the concession stand, there lurked darker possibilities.

Those were the days of the BIG RED SCARE. Or, as the McCarthy hearings thought: “There’s a communist in every pot.” Or maybe it was a chicken. Whatever McCarthy thought was in the pot–and I don’t mean marijuana cut with oregano–it all led back to Stalin, Lenin, Marx, spying, and other nefarious stuff that might be hidden in those subliminal messages.

Even today, hidden code lurks amongst the pixels of the graphics in the PR and ADS we get via e-mail. They mainly tell the sender whether you opened the e-mail or not. That seems a bit intrusive to me, but I’m not worrying about it unless the code in the graphics is telling me to buy popcorn, join the communist party, or cheat in Angry Birds games.

If I stooped that low, I’d say “BUY MY BOOKS” and you would have a sudden urge to buy hardcover editions of all of my novels. Or, possibly, “SEND MALCOLM $1000000 TO LEARN THE SECRET OF LIFE.” There are endless options here.

I do suspect the major political parties of using subliminal messages, and they sure as hell aren’t “BUY POPCORN.” There’s a lot of weird stuff happening these days that can’t possibly be attributed to fate, rogue conjure women, or haints. But that’s a subject for another post, and possibly somebody else’s blog.

I just wanted to set your mind at ease that there’s no hidden agenda behind this blog’s new look. Of course, if there were, I’d say there wasn’t.

Malcolm

Do I feel lonely on days with no new SPAM?

SPAM? The short answer is “no.”

What I like to see on my dashboard.

I appreciate the fact WordPress catches these comments rather than dumping them into my weblog as purported real responses to my posts.

Sometimes I glance at the queue just to see what’s there. I’ve never once found a real comment mistakenly labeled as SPAM. I’m often amused by he things spammers (or their bots) say to get past the SPAM catcher: “This is my favorite blog,” “What a timely topic; I’m bookmarking this page” “Did you know your posts don’t display properly on my cellphone?” and “Can I help you with SEO optimization.”

The Worst Ruse

“Would you like to save time and energy using curated posts from real writers in this blog? Trust me, I know it’s hard finding new things to write about and composing them properly.”

Are you crazy?

Of course, I don’t send that response because I don’t want more SPAM. But I do want to say, “You pretend to follow my blog and yet you haven’t noticed that I am a writer. Why would I want other writers writing my stuff?”

So bloggers ever allow these kinds of comments to see the light of day? That is, does SPAM like this ever work? Should I feel heartless about the 59, 976 SPAM comments that I threw in the cyber trash can?

Now, if a spammer wanted to send me some real SPAM® from the Hormel Foods Corporation, I might consider it. When I was a Boy Scout, we sometimes took SPAM® on camping trips because it was easy to cook even though the Scoutmaster wanted us to cook our meals from scratch–and that was back in the old days before all these choices were available:

I’m not tempted enough to buy these at the store, but if all these wonders had been on the shelves when I was an eleven-year-old Tenderfoot Scout, I may never have cooked any real food over a campfire and earned a merit badge for it.

But, alas, none of the SPAM is the real deal.

The phony stuff posted by leeches in the WordPress Akismet swill catcher just doesn’t light my fire, much less make me feel loved and treasured as a blogger.

Malcolm

Malcolm R. Campbell just updated the book page on his website and invites you to stop by and take a look. 

A conversation or a momentary glance?

Many websites ago, I noticed that the number of visits a page had over the previous day or week or month took on quite a different meaning when I considered the average length of each visit: usually in nanoseconds. So, most of those visits that I first thought were people actually considering my words or the books I talked about actually were bots that came and went faster than human fingers could possibly operate a mouse or keyboard, and that when the time-length of each visit finally got long enough to suggest a human saw my page, it was apparent that s/he was only there long enough to give my presentation a momentary glance.

Ah, so that’s why a thousand visits to a page in a website translated into so few clicks on links to other pages, much less to my books sitting there on Amazon waiting to engage you in a conversation. What a humbling epiphany it was, discovering that most of what I perceived as attempts to engage were machines scouring the web for this or that or people in a hurry to go somewhere else when they found nothing to slow them down on my page during their frenetic pace through cyberspace.

To my knowledge, WordPress isn’t telling me how long you are here, much less the impact–if any–upon you from what you see. So, as I sit here at my Dell desktop computer screen with my cat occupying a fair share of my desk chair, I wonder who you are and what you make of this place. If you’re here long enough to grok what I’m saying, you know by now that this blog has no niche. That’s good and bad, depending on what the gurus are saying.

I don’t care what the gurus are saying because if I really listened to their prescriptions about how to manage this weblog, I would become too bored to manage this weblog. Yes, I understand the value of knowing what you’re going to get before you arrive on a page, the certainty that one blogger provides daily writing tips and another provides humorous commentaries on national issues. So, I don’t offer any certainty, because I might talk about anything here from Trump to tadpoles to transformation.

I’m unrepentant about my overt lack of a niche. I thrive on chaos because as a writer (you do know I’m a writer, capeesh!) I think our most creative moments come out of chaos rather than plans and outlines.

So, you’re brave to come here because the whole place probably is about as sane as the movie “Fargo” or some film from Federico Fellini. If you’re a bot, I don’t care why you’re here, and (frankly) I hope the chaos shorts out your circuits. If you’re a person, I appreciate your brief glance at this page and can understand why it may not be your cup of tea. But then, if you’re here long enough to read today’s post and think “well, this is crap” or “hmm, he might have a point,” then thank you for stopping by–you’re the person I’m writing for.

Malcolm

Malcolm R. Campbell is the author of a chaotic array of books.

The vicissitudes of blogging

Publishers and publicists often ask authors who their readers are. The one thing you’re not supposed to do is pick a famous author’s book and say, “People who liked Fire Ants in the Birdbath will love my book.” That’s usually considered arrogant.

If a writer is a blogger, s/he is often asked about the blog’s demographics. If it has a niche, then how many people stop by every day? If it’s more general, what subjects get the most readers and comments?

My answer to the first question usually includes Floridians and/or those who like fantasy, magical realism, and paranormal short stories and novels. My answer to the second is “I get the most hits on stuff I’m not writing about now.”

Currently, most of my visitors are looking at blogs that focus on conjure. I wrote a lot of these when my novel Conjure Woman’s Cat first came out. I wrote these because authors are advised to blog about themes and subject matter from their novels rather than promoting the novels over and over again.

People are searching and reading about graveyard dirt. Makes me wonder if there’s a graveyard dirt scandal going on and folks are looking it up.

When I was writing the conjure posts, they didn’t get as many hits as silly posts, satirical posts, occasional rants, or posts about things going on in my life. Now that I’m writing posts about other subjects–some about my life, some about writing and publishing–those are getting very few hits compared with the massive number of hits on the conjure posts.

Go figure.

This means when it comes to blogging, I have no idea who my readers are except for people who know me in “real life” or on Facebook.  I suppose I should have called this post “Clueless in Georgia.” I wonder if that title would have attracted people from Georgia. Since I’m clueless, I have no idea.

Malcolm

Occasionally, I write something that isn’t fantasy. Examples are the comical satire “Special Investigative Reporter” and the realistic Vietnam war novel “At Sea.”

 

Only the fates know which posts will attract the most readers

So far this year, my posts have had 15,506 views, the most popular post being an old one Barebones Structure of a Fairy Tale with 2,086 views and my navy slang post Heave out and Trice Up with 923 views. It’s also an old post.

For a while, my post about the White House Boys, the survivors from Florida’s nasty Dozier School and its transgressions received many views. Those began to fade as the story about the search for graves on school property fell out of the daily news. I thought some of those readers might find yesterday’s post about the school and Colson Whitehead’s bestselling novel The Nickel BoysColson Whitehead’s ‘The Nickel Boys’ Takes Kirkus Prize for Fiction) that was based on the school. So far, only three views. That surprises me.

After all these years posting on this blog, which began on Blogger and was moved to WordPress in 2008, you’d think I’d know what I was doing. But I don’t. The posts I think nobody will notice get lots of views and the posts I think everyone will notice are slim to none in the popularity category. In “real life,” I don’t believe in fate, much less in the fates of Greek mythology (Clotho, Lachesis, and Atropos, et. al.). Yet, sometimes I wonder.

Are three ladies truly spinning thread that represents our lives, measuring it, and then snipping it off? Gosh, I hope not. Yet, “fate” is a popular notion even in our age of science and technology about things that happen for no discernible reason. Others are more comfortable saying “God moves in mysterious ways.” (I don’t mean to imply that God reads my blog. <g>)

Why anything happens when it happens is usually tangled up in so many variables that understanding all but the most simplistic parts of it are beyond human ken. We might say that a person was injured in a car accident because somebody ran a stop sign. The police report usually covers that part. What they don’t cover is why the two cars involved happened to arrive at that intersection at the same moment. There are lots of theories about what “Why” but most of them don’t sync up with our consensual logic about the world so all we can do is ponder them.

Many newsletters these days have within them the code (often within a pixel) which the sender can use to see who reads them. If you don’t read them for a while, sooner or later you’ll get a message that asks if you will want the newsletter. Usually, I do. But I have to logical reasons for why I read it some days and skip it on other days. Sure, there are obvious reasons: I was sick, I was out of town, &c. But then there are the times when my brain is shorted out already and I don’t have the patience for reading something I normally like.

I don’t think that’s fate, but I can’t prove it. I’m happy that so many of you keep coming back to this rather eccentric blog and are reading so many posts. So thank you for being fated to read what you read <g>.

Malcolm

Excerpt from Widely Scattered Ghosts: “On the band bus ride home, the stunning, first chair flute player Melinda Wallace sat beside him. She had no clue how he felt about her, not that he’d said anything. The empty aisle seat next to a clarinet was, he guessed, preferable to sitting in the back with the band’s borderline criminal element of raucous drums and tarnished brass. Melinda smelled like wildflowers and her unruly light brown hair smelled like the wind. When the band played ‘The Stars and Stripes’ Forever’ in concert and Melinda stood up into the light for her piccolo solo—the sweetest banshee cries the world has ever known—her blue eyes were frozen into ice for thirty-two measures of leaps and trills, while her hair could not be restrained.” – The Lady of the Blue Hour in “Widely Scattered Ghosts”

 

 

Housekeeping (after all, it is Saturday)

Since I’m not a fan of housekeeping, I procrastinate on the housekeeping chores that go along with having a website and a blog. On the website, I’m likely to let pages sit for a while without a constant supply of fresh material so that return visitors have something new to read. Here, I’ve uploaded quite a few posts, but didn’t touch the pages that display on the menu across the top of the screen for a long time.

Now, the website is looking better and I have two new pages–replacing two out-of-date pages–that I’ll try to keep current with excerpts and pictures.

My view of websites and blogs is that, other than talking about my books and related subjects, they are all about you rather than all about me. I wrote an article for a magazine for nonprofit organizations in which I said that many of them were missing the boat when they advertised events and exhibits. Like commercial advertising, nonprofit news releases which appeared in the newspaper should be about the reader, that is, showing him/her why the event would be fun, entertaining, and otherwise worthwhile.

Author C. Hope Clark, who sends out a weekly newsletter from her Funds for Writers website said that author newsletters seldom do much good because instead of talking about books and interesting subject matter, they often degenerate into monthly updates about the authors’ kids and pets. That’s not what the readers want to see. As Clark but it, they didn’t subscribe to be a buddy, they subscribed to find out about exciting new releases and, in some cases, book signings and other events the author would be attending. So, I try to use my website to show prospective readers why they might enjoy my books rather than having, say, a page about what my cats are doing.

This blog is a bit more relaxed. Since I’m disorganized, I’m likely to talk about anything here and sometimes it is about what my pets are doing.  Sorry about that, if you’re not a cat person.

At any rate, I hope you enjoy the improving website and the two new pages on this blog. And, if there are certain kinds of posts you want to see more of, let me know in the comments section

–Malcolm