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Posts from the ‘books’ Category

‘Special Investigative Reporter’ is 99₵ today

The Kindle edition of Special Investigative Reporter, my recently released satire is on sale today on Amazon for 99₵.

Description:

In this satirical and somewhat insane lament about the fall of traditional journalism into an abyss of news without facts, Special Investigative Reporter Jock Stewart specializes in tracking down Junction City’s inept and corrupt movers and shakers for his newspaper The Star-Gazer.

Since Stewart is not a team player, he doesn’t trust anyone, especially colleagues and news sources. Stewart, who became a reporter back in the days when real newsmen were supposed to smoke and drink themselves to death while fighting to get the scoop before their competition sobered up, isn’t about to change.

Stewart’s girlfriend leaves him, the mayor’s racehorse is stolen, people are having sex in all the wrong places (whatever that means), and townspeople have fallen into the habit of sneaking around and lying to reporters and cops. Sure, everyone lies to the cops, but reporters expect gospel truths or else. Stewart may get himself killed doing what he was taught to do in journalism school, but that’s all in a day’s work.

Pithy Quotes from the Novel

“I like a man with a cocked weapon in his trousers.” – Monique Starnes

“Democracy demands that we celebrate the election process at one ball after another. Just think, in some countries, the winners aren’t allowed to have any balls.” – Monique Starnes

“Now Jock, that’s just flat right as rain. But tell the people, especially those in my district, I’m here to serve. No sacrifice is too small that it can’t be ignored. You tell them.” – Councilman Billy Purvis

“Lucinda came in this morning dressed to the nines even though it was only 8:30.” – Coral Snake Smith

“If you can’t bail out with a box of money and perks leaving the little guys to fend for themselves (poor bastards), what’s the point of being a corporate CEO?” – Marcus Cash

“You know, Eddie, it’s a sin to kill a Mockingbird, but the law doesn’t prohibit me from clipping its wings.” – Marta Smith

The meatloaf was surprisingly lousy. It was the kind of meatloaf Aunt Edna fixed Jock when he was an innocent kid on or about the time when she was losing track of things such as who he actually was and what ingredients belonged in the food. – Jock’s opinion.

–Malcolm

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Excerpt: ‘LOCAL AUTHOR APOLOGIZES FOR MAKING VIXEN IN NOVEL TOO MUCH LIKE NEIGHBORHOOD VIXEN’

Here’s a brief excerpt from Special Investigative Reporter:

“When he got to the office, the clerk at the information desk told him Marcus wanted him to cover the Cane Molasses press conference over at the Main Street Book Emporium. He (Jock) would know that already if he bothered to answer his phone. Cash had, apparently, left for the day when a police officer located the pickup truck at his house. (The receptionist said she didn’t know whose house she was talking about.)

“After the press conference, he went home and slapped together a news story while waiting for a goat cheese and anchovy pizza to arrive:

 

LOCAL AUTHOR APOLOGIZES FOR MAKING VIXEN IN NOVEL TOO MUCH LIKE NEIGHBORHOOD VIXEN

Cane Molasses apologized at a hastily called press conference here this afternoon to “any and all women” who believe they are or might be the Judy Miracle character in his prize-winning 2008 novel Miracle on 35th Street.

Molasses called the press conference and book signing at the Main Street Book Emporium after an unidentified woman accosted him at his home this morning and accused him of basing the Miracle character on secrets she told him when they stopped for drinks on the way home from an AA meeting.

“I’m involved with dozens of women a year for research purposes,” said Molasses, “and all of them are well compensated. Miracle is a composite character based on Carl Jung’s reformed hooker archetype which is extensively described in his collected works.”

Molasses told the crowd of some 500 adoring fans and one heckler that Miracle is a beautiful fictional character who sees the light just in time to be buried in a high-brow cemetery on 35th Street. While many of his fans purportedly model their lives on Miracle’s story, it was not his intent to suggest Miracle is either every woman or any specific woman.

According to Police Sergeant Wayne Bismarck, nobody was seen leaving the Kroger Store on Edwards Street wearing a sack over their head “any time in recent memory.”

-30-

 

As he finished the story, the pizzeria called and apologized for not sending out the pizza he wanted. Apparently, everyone who tried to make such a thing got sick. He thanked them for their trouble, canceled the order, and ate two diet TV dinners with a glass or two (he lost count after two) of Cabernet.

It was the kind of wine a restaurant like the Purple Platter bought in 55-gallon drums, then used for filling bottles with an “estate bottled” Purple Platter label.

Copyright © 2019 by Malcolm R. Campbell

What happens to your book cover when you change publishers?

If this issue resonates for you, the first thing we would suggest — first, last, and always — is to read your contract. Only there can you discern what the original agreement was, and what you signed off on. In 99.99 times out of a hundred, the publisher retains the rights to the cover image. What this means is that if you part company with them but still want to self-publish your book on your own, you must come up with a new cover design.

Source: When You Split with Your Publisher: Book Covers ‹ Indies Unlimited ‹ Reader — WordPress.com

Melissa Bowersock, at Indies Unlimited, tells us that there are legal reasons for this based on where the cover art came from. So, it’s not a matter of your old publisher being nasty. When I left my previous publisher, I wanted new covers because old, out-of-print editions of books seem to remain on Amazon forever. I can still find books my father wrote in the 1940s, 1950s, and 1960s. Most of these are there because third-party seller frequently use Amazon as their preferred site for reselling books in their collections or warehouses.

So, I thought it best to begin with a new cover to keep my new editions from getting mixed up with the old ones. Some publishers will let you keep the old covers if you’re willing to buy them. Might work, or might not work. I did it once because one publisher never managed to get the books into print.

Interesting article and a part of book publishing to keep in mind when your publisher goes out of business or when you want a fresh start.

Malcolm

Malcolm R. Campbell is the author of satire, magical realism, contemporary fantasy, and paranormal stories and novels. Click on my name for more information.

Introverts and book clubs don’t mix

The other day on Facebook, there was a book club thread. Some people loved them. Others said they were often unhappy with the book being discussed (decided by vote), people who monopolized the conversation, and the fact that some people never seemed to be prepared for the meetings (i.e., they hadn’t read the book up for discussion).

As an introvert, I seldom say anything during meetings. So, I’d be the one at the club meeting who seemed unprepared due to my silence even though I may well have read the book several times.

While I do review books that I like and that I want to draw to others’ attention, I really don’t like discussing books. Other than the introvert thing, I think this comes from being turned off with book discussions in lit classes where the prof had a view of the book and its symbolism that the rest of us were expected to kowtow to (or else).

Also, even though thousands of people are reading the books I’m reading, the process always seems personal. It’s not so much a figurative relationship between me and the characters as it is an emersion into the plot, theme, characters, and symbols. Somehow, sitting around with a bunch of people and talking about that emersion seems about as negative as talking with others about one’s sexual experiences.

I’ve never been invited to participate in a panel. Thank goodness. That sounds worse than a book club because many of the people on the panel will probably the gurus, MFA professors, and others who know everything. After some panellist says s/he was impressed with the deep archetypal symbolism of the last chapter, I’d be likely to say that I liked the protagonist’s shirt.

I was in an encounter group once in which each member was expected to say why they loved their spouse or significant other. My thought was, “that’s none of your business.” People talked about feelings of being soul mates, of rowing in the same direction through the problems of life, completing each other’s sentences, etc. I said, “I like the way my wife cooks grits.” The moderator said, “Is that it?” I said, “What else is there?”

You can count on me to deflect questions with intentionally lame comments because it’s better than blurting out info about feelings which I feel more comfortable keeping to myself. This is what I’d do in a book club. So, please don’t invite me to join up.

Malcolm

Malcolm R. Campbell is the author of “Special Investigative Reporter,” a mystery/satire that pokes fun at just about everyone.

Just Released: ‘Special Investigative Reporter’ by Malcolm R. Campbell

Thomas-Jacob Publishing has released my satirical mystery Special Investigative Reporter, which is a change of pace from my Florida Folk Magic series. At present, the Amazon link is displaying the Kindle edition, but will soon include the paerpback and hardcover editions. The book is also available online at Apple, B&N, and Kobo. Your favorite bookstores can order the book under standard terms and conditions from their Ingram Catalogue.

Description

Now Available

In this satirical and somewhat insane lament about the fall of traditional journalism into an abyss of news without facts, Special Investigative Reporter Jock Stewart specializes in tracking down Junction City’s inept and corrupt movers and shakers for his newspaper The Star-Gazer.Since

Stewart is not a team player, he doesn’t trust anyone, especially colleagues and news sources. Stewart, who became a reporter back in the days when real newsmen were supposed to smoke and drink themselves to death while fighting to get the scoop before their competition sobered up, isn’t about to change.

Stewart’s girlfriend leaves him, the mayor’s racehorse is stolen, people are having sex in all the wrong places (whatever that means), and townspeople have fallen into the habit of sneaking around and lying to reporters and cops.

Sure, everyone lies to the cops, but reporters expect gospel truths or else. Stewart may get himself killed doing what he was taught to do in journalism school, but that’s all in a day’s work.

Book Within a Book

In the story, Jock Stewart has released some of his columns in a book called Worst of Jock Stewart. That book is real and can be found here.

The Fine Print

This novel was originally released by another publisher under another title (with the words “Sea of Fire” in it), but went out of print. At a time when people are complaining about biased news sources and “fake news,” the novel is more relevant now than when it first appeared.

A Letter From Jock Stewart

Jock Stewart’s letter to prospective readers, which appears on the dust jacket of the hardcover edition, can also be found on my website.

I hope you have a good time reading this satire.

–Malcolm

Time for a book sale

 

Okay, so I was lazy and didn’t create an updated version of this graphic that says the sale is live now.

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.

Warning: Today’s My Birthday

Yes, I’m a Leo and darned proud of it.

–Malcolm

Speaking of covers again

I’m a long-time fan of film noir and had the genre in mind when I wrote my upcoming novel Special Investigative Reporter. A noir feature film is usually a fairly dark–and an often hopeless–kind of movie. It’s usually in black and white, features a lot of blunt, voice-over narration, and portrays cops and detectives trying to solve cases in foreboding environments.

Special Investigative Reporter isn’t a noir novel. It’s a mix of comedy, satire, and corruption. Yet, once I got my rights to the novel back from the publisher that released the original edition under another title, I thought we needed a stronger cover. I suggested to my publisher, Thomas-Jacob, that a big-city image might work. Melinda Clayton, who manages Thomas-Jacob and who writes darker novels than I do, designed a beautiful cover.

I like the city-scape scene, the word “bar” in the picture, and the stark, noir-film-like rendering of the title. The individual on the cover–who’s my protagonist Jock Stewart–looks like he could be a detective or newspaperman out of the film noir era. Melinda once told me that some of Jock Stewart’s lines reminded her of Humphrey Bogart. She has a good ear. I was thinking of the kind of voice-over narration he would do in such movies as “Dark Passage,” “Dead Reckoning,” and “Key Largo.” (If you like noir films and have Turner Classic Movies on your satellite or cable menu, look for Noir Alley. It features noir films–except in August–and I watch it like a religion.)

My protagonist Jock Stewart, who’s been a reporter since the days of letterpress, is old fashioned. He would despise the kind of “journalism” we see on the 24/7 news sites. This novel’s satire pokes fun at those kinds of sites and reminds us that journalism used to be about reporting the facts and not about displaying the reporter’s (or anchor’s) opinion about those facts.

I’ve been teasing you for a while about this upcoming novel, but we’re rather in a holding pattern waiting for Ingram to send us the proof copy of the hardcover edition. Meanwhile, I’ve been enjoying looking at Melinda’s cover.

Malcolm

 

 

Thinking book covers

This is one of the cover pictures I use on my Facebook author’s page. It’s a handy way of showing all the covers in my Florida Folk Magic Series together.

While the book cover is often the last thing an author thinks about, it’s the first thing a prospective reader sees. Some say a reader decides in 15 seconds whether to look inside the book at a physical book store or via the look inside features on book pages at Amazon and B&N. However, as I write I can usually see my characters and their environment quite clearly; it’s almost as though I’m looking at them in a photograph.

So, I’m lucky that my publisher Thomas-Jacob works with authors to come up with the cover art. In this case, we used two artists. The first did Conjure Woman’s Cat and Eulalie and Washerwoman; then, when he wasn’t available to do the cover for Lena, we found another great artist who was willing to work in the style we needed to make all three books look like they belonged together.

Thoughts behind the cover: The book is set in another era, the 1950s. So, we have an unpaved road through the piney woods. Eulalie, the conjure woman, wore a dress and a hat (unlike the jeans and tee shirts people wear today) when she rode her bike into town to sell stuff out of her garden at the mercantile. Her kitty, Lena, would either side in basket or trot alongside. The railroad tracks figure into the story.

The style of the art tells you these stories are magical in that there’s something ethereal the scenes: the radiance in the first book, the spooky nighttime in the second, and the sudden appearance of an alligator in the road in the third one. The mood here would be quite different if we had tried to do this cover with a photograph of a similar scene or with stock drawings.

I like spending time on the look and feel of the covers because they set the stage for the story. When I look at the covers of some self-published books on Amazon, I wish the authors had worked a little harder to come up with unique covers instead of using stock photography and a boxy layout. Spending the money for original art or custom photography is money well spent.

Malcolm

 

Don’t Let Your Publisher Become Your Worst Enemy

I have a wonderful publisher, in Thomas-Jacob, and couldn’t be happier. One of the positives of a small (some say boutique) publisher is that the author and the publisher can actually talk to each other about what the best approach to the book.

Larger publishers often make decisions about books that come from heavenly heights and cannot be questioned.

A long-time online friend of mine is an acclaimed Canadian author. I’ve read most of her books. What bothers me about her publisher’s decision making is the fact that those books have different Canadian and U.S. Titles. Sometimes this is necessary. But in her case, those differing titles cause a lot of reader confusion about what book they’re buying. Frankly, I don’t think the U. S. and Canadian audiences are so different that a book requires separate titles for Amazon and Amazon.ca. I think this kind of thing hurts the author.

I just finished reading a novel by one of my favorite U.S. authors that is set in New Orleans just after the Civil War. I considered posting a review today, but then saw that on Amazon the book was listed as Political Fiction. Those who like southern gothic fiction and historical fiction will never find it there. Pardon my exasperation, but who the hell came up with those genre classifications for this novel?

From what I hear, if one of the major U.S. publishers releases your novel, you may have to put up with some stuff you don’t like. I guess that’s called “paying your dues” or pretending that “the publisher knows best.”

Book genres aren’t perfect. Neither are titles. But they do tend to steer prospective readers toward an author’s book. If you can, I hope you can discuss such things with your publisher before the historical novel you titled “Tough Women” is released as “Porn Babes” in the “How To Repair a Flathead 6 Engine” genre.

I’d say that if you cannot agree on the title and the genre, you have a problem.

Malcolm

Creating ARC Copies: A How-To

Once upon a time, Publisher’s Weekly asked for a review copy of a children’s book our small press had in the works. We were new to the business then and had no clue how to accommodate them, so we lost the opportunity for a high-profile review. Ouch! Now that I know better, I won’t make the same mistake again. Better still, I’ll share what I’ve learned so you won’t, either.

Source: Creating ARC Copies: A How-To | Celebrating Independent Authors

I saw a post by author Hope Clark in which she said that she buys copies of her books and sends them out to her favorite readers prior to publication so that then her books go live, there’s a batch of reviews ready to go. (She’s at a mid-seized publisher and buys the books at cost because many publishers don’t send out review copies any more.)

For the same reason, think about creating advance reader copies (ARCs) of your books so that you can send them to review sites before your books are published. In fact, major review sites won’t look at a book after its publication date; many of them expect a copy four months in advance.

You may not get in Kirkus or Book List, but it’s worth the time an effort, I think, to try. This post at Indies Unlimited takes you through the basics. Reviews early on in a book’s life not only draw more readers but improve how your book is displayed on sites like Amazon or in book newsletters.

Malcolm