Midweek Musings, (AKA random stuff)

  • My latest book Florida Folk Magic Stories is now part of an Amazon giveaway. Go here for a chance to win.
  • Sometimes I think the so-called, all-important “writer’s platform” looks more like a gallows.
  • Right now, I can’t tell whether my discomfort from an inflammation is coming from the disease or the antibiotic.
  • I’m discouraged when long-time online friends leave Facebook because, as they see it, the site has become toxic. I admit that I try to avoid most political discussions there because I’m more of a moderate than a hardcore Democrat or Republican and feel like I’m getting beaten up by both sides. One can avoid that by not talking politics.
  • Dang, I accidentally bought a new copy of a James Patterson book that I’d already read. Unfortunately, it’s one of his weaker novels. It has a trick ending and there is no excuse for it. It’s called The Store. Forget about it.
  • I keep wondering if the female contestants chosen to be on “Survivor” are those with the most cleavage and the skimpiest bathing suits. So much for women being considered equal when they dress like that.
  • When I look at a lot of news sources, I see many things going on that aren’t covered by either CNN or FOX. Those two networks seem obsessed with running talking heads show of “experts” who are really liberal or really conservative. Unfortunately, a lot of people believe the opinion shows on both networks are gospel.
  • Minnesota is suing “big pharma” for an exorbitant increase in the cost of insulin. It’s sort of like buying a pair of pliers one year for $12.00 and then a few years down the road seeing the price jump to $120.00. There’s no excuse for that kind of price gouging.
  • Writers aren’t immune to the debates going on in the country. Some writers have found a way to speak out in those debates through their poetry, novels, and essays. Not all of us can do that. It doesn’t mean we don’t care. It means that the kind of writing we do doesn’t lend itself to work focused on the latest issues. We always hope what we write will make a difference, even if that difference is indirect.

Malcolm

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Suddenly the blog is like chopped liver.

There are weeks when a hundred or so people show up. And there are weeks when almost nobody shows up. One is tempted to ask, “What am I, chopped liver?”

If you love chopped liver, no offense is intended even though I might wonder if you were brainwashed.

Mother tried to sneak liver into our menu about once a month. Nobody liked it. Maybe she learned about it in Home Ec. Maybe her parents forced her to eat it and she was carrying on the tradition. Even ketchup couldn’t save it.

Chopped Liver with Egg – Wikipedia photo

If you know how search engines work, I have a question for you. When the subject of a post, often one written several years ago, isn’t part of the national debate, what causes people to suddenly click on it, seemingly in groups? It would make more sense if they left comments or posted links to those posts on Twitter or Facebook. But, they aren’t doing that (I don’t think).

This week it’s my Seminole Pumpkin Fry Bread post from March 2015. I grew up in Florida and often made fry bread. So, when I included fry bread in one of my novels, I wrote a post about it. Now, the post is getting more hits. What’s that about? Do clubs have meetings, pick a post, and then go out and look at it in droves to confuse the blogger? If so, those people are eating too much chopped liver. (By the way, if your mother is serving you liver, a half teaspoon of Tabasco sauce will kill the taste.)

Every week, my post The Bare-Bones Structure of a Fairy Tale gets hundreds of hits. I wrote that post in 2013. The number of hits surprises me. Perhaps more people are reading, writing, and studying fairy tales than I suspected. So many people have stopped by that post, that I’ve updated it with more information and links. Maybe I should add a subliminal spell to that post that draws fairies into every reader’s house. All in good fun, of course. What could possibly go wrong?

The answer, of course, is that those fairies bring you steaming plates of chopped liver.  (By the way, Sriracha sauce makes liver even worse. It makes everything worse. I know, I know, I’m in the minority of people who didn’t jump on the big Sriracha sauce bandwagon, opting to stay with Tabasco.)

Okay, let’s agree to disagree if you like chopped liver or Sriracha sauce, don’t send me any recipes, pamphlets, white papers, or how-to books featuring those things. In fact, if you’re a fan of chopped liver or Sriracha sauce, my advice is to become a contestant on the cooking show called Chopped. That show features mystery baskets of hideous ingredients that regular people have never heard of, much less would even eat.

According to The Weirdest Ingredients Ever Used on ‘Chopped’, here are a few of the show’s strange offerings: Dried fermented scallops, Eyeballs, Scrapple, and Caul fat. If you want to know what any of these things are, click on the link. I’ll warn you now that the article includes pictures. The chef contestants on each show must include all of the mandatory ingredients in each appetizer, entree, and dessert. And, as the show’s host Ted Allen tells them something like, “If your food doesn’t cut it, you’ll be chopped.” (Eliminated in that round of the show.)

In general, Mother made good meals. So, I probably would not have voted to chop her from the family kitchen for serving liver. I came close to saying I was going to start having meals on campus (you have to be crazy to do that) when mother–and apparently everyone else in the neighborhood–went on a weird food fad: baby bees, chocolate-covered ants. My brothers and I were told we had to taste everything on our plates. We forced down the liver with Hunt’s Ketchup (we never ate that swill called “catsup”), but we drew the line at the bees and the ants.

So, now I’m curious: Will people who tend to follow this blog see this post as just more chopped liver?

Malcolm

I do most of the cooking in our house. I have never served liver, chopped or otherwise. It goes without saying that I wouldn’t try to “elevate” the meal, as chef contestants would say, with something hideous like dried tarantula powder.

 

 

What this blog is still all about

I wrote this post back in 2008. It’s still true today:

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

Clipart.com graphic

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 organisations 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?

–Malcolm

 

Your suggested password is BDH#$%cX*%qw

When My desktop PC had to be taken back to factory settings–which was a lot of trouble–that meant my browsers had to be re-installed. The new versions didn’t know my passwords.

I’m tired of passwords. Every site has a different set of rules about length, special characters, CAPS and lowercase letters. We’re told not to write these down. Many gurus also say don’t allow your browser to remember them for you.

So, when I tried to log on to WordPress today with my new browser, I couldn’t remember my password. I tried all the usual passwords even though we’re not supposed to have usual passwords. I clicked on a link that would allow WordPress to generate and–I swear I’m not making this up–the suggestion looked like this: BDH#$%cX*%qw.

Get real. How the hell can I remember something like that? Perhaps Data on Startrek, the Next Generation can remember that, but otherwise, nobody can. So, I used something easier and wrote it down on a list of 10000000000 other passwords for everybody from my doctor’s office to Microsoft to Amazon to Facebook.

If anyone breaks into my house and finds an empty Funk’s G Hybrid sack beneath the house, they’ll discover my list of passwords. There are snakes and spiders there, so who ever needs to play like they’re me and log on to WordPress and create a fake post will have to be very determined.

I’ve seen enough TV crime shows to know that even if I didn’t need a password and could access my accounts through a fingertip reader, somebody would kill me and use my finger to log on. So, there’s no sure thing, password-wise. The only plus to forgetting and constantly changing my passwords is the fact that we’re told to constantly change our passwords. That means we’ll forget them more often and change them more frequently. Maybe that’s how the whole password thing works.

Now, if I could only remember the danged user names (other than my e-mail address) which a lot of sites require.

Malcolm

 

 

The Paramecium Papers

Blog feedback from a feral study group in Dubuque indicates that my focus here on the Round Table has been insanely misguided for years. Or, perhaps it’s an insane study group and my posts have been too feral for everyday people.

Study group spokesperson Vixen Galore said, “Malcolm–I hope you don’t mind if I use your first name–you need a niche. You’re all over God’s multicolored earth here with your posts. After all, you’re writing this blog in hopes of attracting readers to your books, right?”

“Sort of, Vix, but I don’t have a niche because I don’t know who those prospective readers are.”

“You better find out. But first, find something fresh and new and write ground breaking posts about it day after bloody day until the cows come home. My feral advice is paramecia. You’ll have people kicking in your front door in nothing flat.”

Suddenly, perhaps because I’ve been watching tennis matches at Indian wells while drinking moonshine, that advice makes sense. If things go well, I might even change the name of the blog to The Paramecium Papers.

What is a Paramecium?

For those of you who haven’t thought about these cute little critters since your grade school biology class, here’s the definition from Wikipedia: “Paramecium (also Paramoecium) (/ˌpærəˈmʃəm, –ˈmʃiəm, –ˈmsiəm/ parr-ə-MEE-sh(ee-)əmparr-ə-MEE-see-əm) is a genus of unicellular ciliates, commonly studied as a representative of the ciliate group. Paramecia are widespread in freshwaterbrackish, and marine environments and are often very abundant in stagnant basins and ponds. Because some species are readily cultivated and easily induced to conjugate and divide, it has been widely used in classrooms and laboratories to study biological processesIts usefulness as a model organism has caused one ciliate researcher to characterize it as the “white rat” of the phylum Ciliophora.

Since there a billions of these suckers in water, chances are there are millions of them inside you. For all we know, there may even be more of them in your favorite bottled water than the microscopic chips of plastic that today’s news told us about.

The downside is this: we don’t really know what they want (the paramecia hordes, not the pieces of plastic). That being the case, my mission here–my new niche–will be to teach you how to develop your psychic powers so that you can communicate with the so-called white rats of the Ciliophora phylum. So far, it appears that they want most of us to stay more hydrated than we do and to stop killing them by boiling our water or adding chemicals to it.

The other downside is that early results are showing that these tiny specks of life are actually more intelligent than some humans. It’s a group mind kind of thing: they think like the BORG in Star Trek, a true collective where the rights of the individual (including you) don’t mean squat.

Some people tell us that if the planet gets wiped out by a nuclear war, cockroaches will be the primary survivors. Maybe so. But they have to drink the water, and what that means is that the thoughts roaches think they’re having are coming from paramecia.

The inner child people often speak of is really a BORG-like colony of paramecia. If this doesn’t disturb you, then you’re probably not the true niche-reader for this blog.

Upcoming topics for The Paramecium Papers are:

  1. How to ask a paramecium out on a date.
  2. Understanding the kinds of books paramecia like and what they do to you if your’re not reading those books.
  3. How much beer can you drink without out turning your colony of paramecia into a bunch of sots?
  4. Paramecia speak Russian, so they have been meddling in your decision making longer than Mueller suspects, and so far, he hasn’t subpoenaed any of them. (Of course, his colony might be blinding him to reality.)

So there it is, a niche that will lure readers into my magical, paranormal, and fantasy novels and short stories.

Malcolm, Vix, and Paramecia Colony J38

 

I’m not psychic enough to know what people want to read

If I were a super psychic, every one of my posts on this blog would have thousands of views and, better yet, people clicking through to look at my Amazon author’s page, my website, and the books mentioned at the ends of the posts.

Alas, as a blogger, I don’t have a clue.

No, this is not me. It’s clip art from Vital Images, Ltd.

I started this blog in 2008 after having been on Blogger and other sites for a while. In ten years, nothing stands out as a niche. I asked people on my Facebook friends list a week ago if anything had been on the news about the herb called Holy Ghost Root because a post I wrote about that was suddenly getting lots of hits. Nobody was sure why.

Naturally, some of the posts I spend the most time researching and writing often get the fewest hits and no comments. I believe in whatever Murphy’s law applies.

About ten of my posts have received over a thousand views. My home page has almost 24,000 views. Surprising to me, here are the top two posts since 2008:

  • The Bare-Bones Structure of a Fairy Tale – 14,540 views. Frankly, I thought few people would read this and remain surprised that it continues to come in first every week in activitiy.
  • Heave Out and Trice Up – -5,010 views – I’m less surprised about this because the title is a bit of Navy slang that makes no sense to people who haven’t been in the Navy. A lot of people probably search on the terms I listed in the post.

Other posts get readers while an event is in the news. For example, my post about several books written by survivors of Florida’s Dozier School (The White House Boys) kept getting hits while the state investigation was ongoing.

Overall, I’m happy with readers’ response to my posts and appreciate every one of you who stops to read one of them. I don’t have a niche, because I don’t like being confined to a narrow area of subjects. And, I make no attempt to compete with the top writing and publishing sites even though you will see writing ideas here. (Yes, I know, those posts are probably a “who needs it” for non-writers.

When it comes down to it, I’m just shooting the breeze.

Malcolm

 

 

Starting your blog

“I love blogging and blogging has loved me back. I’ve been offered paid freelance writing gigs and paid speaking engagements because of my blogs and I’ve used the See Jane Write blog to grow a small women’s writing group into an award-winning business. A blog can also be a great way to build an audience for the book you want to write.

“Make 2018 the year you finally launch (or relaunch) your website and blog. Here’s a guide to get you started.”

via How to Start a Blog – See Jane Write

blogCLIPartFrom time to time, people see that I’ve been blogging for many years and ask me how to start a blog. Seriously, folks, I’m not the one to ask because I break too many of the rules and/or some aspects of blogging don’t interest me.

However, Javacia Harris Bowser does know how to blog and offers one of the best overviews about getting started. She begins with domain name and theme considerations and works her way through the steps to having consistent content. (I’m inconsistent, but I see that consistency is better for most bloggers.

If you’re serious about writing a blog, See Jane Write before you do anything else.

Malcolm

 

 

Where did I get the name for my previous blog?

In 2004, I self-published the first edition of my contemporary fantasy novel The Sun Singer. The second edition, from a small publisher, came out in 2010. When that edition went out of print, I self-published the current edition in 2015.

The story is about a young man named Robert Adams who travels to a look-alike version of Glacier National Park, Montana, where he finds a raging battle in progress between the evil king and a rebel group. While Robert has had some psychic skills for many years, he buried then as deep in his mind as possible because he stopped trusting them. Now, to survive the battles and find his way home to our world, he must rely on them once again.

The Sun Singer is a hero’s journey novel, that is to say, a story about a person who undertakes a journey and comes back from it forever changed. Oddly enough, I began dreaming about this story when I was in junior high school. On a visit to see my grandparents in Illinois, we visited Allerton Park, now owned by the University of Illinois, which serves as a convention center and nature preserve with a collection of outdoor statuary including The Sun Singer. It was almost as thought my seeing that statue created the connection to a story I was destined to write.

In some ways, I am the Sun Singer. Each of us is, when you consider the fact that our life’s journey seems to be intended to transform us into the very best we can be. With that in mind, it seemed fitting to name original blog “The Sun Singer’s Travels.” It was about the hero’s journey, my own journey through my published books, and–through its writing posts–the journeys each of us take when we write a novel or short story. A few months ago, I merged that blog into this one to reduce the amount of time it took to keep two blogs active and up to date.

The sequel to The Sun Singer, Sarabande, is a heroine’s journey novel in which a young woman comes from the look-alike world into our world to search for Robert Adams. She doesn’t have an easy time of it. Even though I’m no longer using the original blog name, I’m still focused on the same kinds of ideas and subject matter.

I’m very definitely a child of the new age, a long time student of magic, and a strong believer that each of us is much more powerful and complex than we appear. The challenge is finding out how and why that is so and then creating a world that mirrors our highest goals.

–Malcolm

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New Year, New Look, New URL

For the new year, I’ve changed the WordPress Theme for this blog’s look and feel as well as the URL:  https://malcolmsroundtable.com/

I used the previous theme for quite a few years and was especially fond of it. Who knows, maybe I’ll return to it some day. But for now, a clean slate for 2018.

The picture is all about magic, though I can’t promise my novels or blog posts will float in the air in a cloud of blue smoke. Being more consistent than usual, I’m using the same picture here as I do on my Conjure Woman’s Cat website.

The magic on this blog comes from my novels, at present the Florida Folk Magic series published by Thomas-Jacob Publishing in Florida. Already released are Conjure Woman’s Cat and Eulalie and Washerwoman. I’ve promised my publisher the third book in the series by Spring.

You’ll also find magic in posts here that relate to life itself, the idea being that we’re all on a hero’s journey or a heroine’s journey in an attempt to become the best that we can be. Life transforms us. There’s a synchronicity to it that tends to put in our path the very things we need whether they’re experiences, people, epiphanies about the cosmos, the environment and our stewardship of it, or even books, music and songs.

As an author, I can’t help but talk about books, writing techniques, and publishing. Sometimes you’ll find a review of a book I enjoyed, or a tip about making stories and novels better, or an occasional feature called “Book Bits” that lists links to reviews, author interviews, and publishing news.

While I’ll often mention other books and authors from Thomas-Jacob Publishing, I don’t review my colleague’s books here or on Amazon or GoodReads because doing so just doesn’t look right. They don’t review my books either. But all of us talk a lot about the books we like for the same reason a NASCAR driver talks about a new engine: we can’t help it.

One thing you won’t find here very often is politics because, as I see on the news and on Facebook, that’s hard to discuss without getting into a shouting match. I don’t think those shouting matches make things better. Nonetheless, my old-school reporter character Jock Stewart (from my novel Jock Stewart and the Missing Sea of Fire) will occasionally contribute a satirical news story post about real or imagined events that probably have political overtones. (Authors really don’t have as much control over their characters as readers believe, so I’m innocent here when Jock writes what he writes.)

I really don’t think the New Year gives us a clean slate any more than any other day, but this seemed like a good moment for some shameless self-promotion about this blog and its new look. As always, I appreciate all of you who stop by and read my posts and hope that your journey through 2018 is everything you desire.

–Malcolm