Police Bulletin Excerpts from ‘Special Investigative Reporter’

Jock Stewart, a reporter in the small town of Junction City, logs on to the police department website daily to keep up with the bulletins, any one of which might lead him to an exciting front-page story.

Excerpt 1

  • 07:30 – Marcus Cash reports his Black 2008 GMC Sierra Denali pickup truck was stolen or borrowed from the loading dock behind Elroy’s Wide Screen shop while Cash was joking with police across the street at the Krispy Kreme.
  • 08:45 – Officer Parker House is resting as comfortably as possible at Lord Have Mercy Hospital after shooting off his left nut while polishing his weapon while watching a gun safety video in the squad room.
  • 09:50 – Councilman Calvin Knox was injured in a purported two-car accident on County Road 3724 when a “sports car of some kind” ran his vintage Packard off the road into a pasture on the Staunton farm. Knox
    reported he was injured when he slipped on a fresh meadow muffin and wrenched his knee.
  • 10:30 – Clarification of 08:45 item. House’s “left nut” is to be interpreted as his remaining nut prior to the incident as opposed to the nut on the left side of his body. After the incident, no nuts were present other than House.
  • 11:15 – Police responded to the home of author Cane Molasses and took an enraged and yet to be identified woman wearing a Kroger sack over her head into custody when she wouldn’t stop hitting the author with her purse. Molasses states that he answered the door, she started screaming at him for making Judy, the beloved but naughty slut in his recent novel just like me.
  • 11:16 – Clarification of 11:15 item. The word “me” is to be interpreted as the enraged woman and not as Officer Betty Powers who types these bulletins.

Excerpt 2

The 11:15 item led to the following news story:

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 prizewinning 2008 novel “Miracle on 35thStreet.”

Molasses called held 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 35thStreet.

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.” 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.

Copyright © 2019 by Malcolm R. Campbell

 

Review: ‘Good Girls Lie’ by J. T. Ellison

Good Girls LieGood Girls Lie by J.T. Ellison
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

Good Girls Lie is deftly written with a plot to die for: yes, there are a few casualties. And, there’s more lying than the prestigious Goode Boarding School’s honor code allows. The dean’s mother, who previously ran the family-owned school in Virginia was fired when a student died on her watch. Now her daughter Ford Westhaven is in charge and the intrigues are spinning out of control, almost enough to damage the prep school’s reputation, heaven forbid.

This school is for the daughters of the rich and famous. Most of them do well and are subsequently accepted into the best universities. The protagonist, Ash Carlisle expects to follow the same route into the world of the elite after escaping an abusive father in the U. K. A stipulation in his will (yes, he and his wife seem to have died recently in a murder/suicide incident) says that Ash will inherit the money when she’s 25 if she has a college degree by then.

The author, who attended Randolph-Macon Woman’s College knows how boarding schools for women work; she uses her first-hand experience to bring reality into the sheltered world of the Goode School–how the students interact, the secret societies, the honor code, and daily life on the campus. She points out, however, that Goode is pure fiction and that the novel is not a dissertation about Randolph-Macon.

The plot is a delightful tangle of lies, strange relationships, bullying and hazing, student-teacher interaction, and everything else that makes a fantastic thriller and–for the characters–a rather dangerous education. By the end of the novel, readers might wonder if they can trust anybody; and they have cause worry. After all, things at Goode School can’t be all that good when the story begins with a dead girl hanging from the front gate.

Malcolm

Malcolm R. Campbell is the author of the recently released mystery, “Fate’s Arrows.”

View all my reviews

‘Therefore Choose Life’ by George Wald

“I tell my students, with a feeling of pride that I hope they will share, that the carbon, nitrogen, and oxygen that make up ninety-nine per cent of our living substance were cooked in the deep interiors of earlier generations of dying stars. Gathered up from the ends of the universe, over billions of years, eventually they came to form, in part, the substance of our sun, its planets, and ourselves. Three billion years ago, life arose upon the earth. It is the only life in the solar system.” — George Wald

The Nobel Prize-winning scientist George Wald gave the 1970 Massey Lecture on CBC radio called “Therefore Choose Life,” focused on life, the universe, and our relationship to it.

Long considered one of the best lectures from a series of broadcasts that began in 1961 to provide a podium–as CBC has said–for writers, thinkers, and scholars who explore important ideas and issues of contemporary interest, the lectures are generally produced as published books after the broadcasts. Except Wald’s. He was working on the typescript when he died in 1997 and subsequently the manuscript was lost for years.

I heard a tape recording of Wald’s lecture just after it was given. It profoundly impacted my life and my view of the cosmos.  Wald’s ideas, presented in nearly poetic words, in terms non-scientists could easily understand, placed the workings of the universe before my eyes. His words haunted me since then, and it would be forty-seven years before I found them again in 2017, when they were finally published and just as relevant then (and now) as they were in the aftermath of the turbulent 1960s.

From the Publisher

“All men, everywhere, have asked the same questions: Whence we come, what kind of thing we are, and at least some intimation of what may become of us . . .”

So begins Nobel Prize–winning scientist George Wald’s 1970 Massey Lectures, now in print for the first time ever. Where did we come from, who are we, and what is to become of us — these questions have never been more urgent. Then, as now, the world is facing major political and social upheaval, from overpopulation to nuclear warfare to environmental degradation and the uses and abuses of technology. Using scientific fact as metaphor, Wald meditates on our place, and role, on Earth and in the universe. He urges us to therefore choose life — to invest in our capabilities as human beings, to heed the warnings of our own self-destruction, and above all to honour our humanity.

I hope thousands of people will find this book and, for a mere $9.99 on Kindle, see the “big picture” and their part in it.

–Malcolm

Malcolm R. Campbell’s novel “The Sun Singer” is available free on Kindle September 14 through September 18. But for goodness’ sakes, read “Therefore Choose Life” first.

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.

–Malcolm

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.

Malcolm

“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.

Malcolm

For the love of Florida pine trees

Readers of the three books in my Florida Folk Magic Series heard a lot about the piney woods because pines (Sand, Slash, Spruce, Longleaf, Eastern White, Loblolly, and Japanese Black) own the Florida Panhandle. We had forty pines in our yard. I grew up with them, came to love them, so that’s what my characters see.

Wikipedia photo

When the fourth book in the series, Fate’s Arrows, is released in the near future, you’ll find more pines, beginning with a quotation from Gloria Jahoda (The Other Florida) that sets the stage for the book:

“Everywhere. . . there were pines, their long needles shimmering in a faint wind under the hot subtropical sun. In the country there were empty dirt roads, rutted by mule carts. In the towns sprawled rows of unpainted shacks without windows. Ancient Negro women sat fanning themselves with palm leaves as they stared drowsily from rickety porches at their zinnias and coral vines and heavy-scented honeysuckle bushes. Moss-draped oaks and lacy chinaberry trees shaded sandy dooryards. Scrawny dogs, the flies buzzing at their noses, slept among ragged-feathered chickens pecking for scratch feed. Locusts whined from tall magnolias with the steady pitch of power saws. But mostly there were those pines and the tang of their resiny branches and the dark straightness of their trunks. All of it looked like the south of the novelists and the poets, heavy with antiquity, romance, and misery.”

Jahoda wrote this in 1967. Living in Florida between 1950 and 1968, I saw the evolution of the world she describes. The panhandle world seemed, even then, to be the complete opposite of what snowbirds found in the peninsula and what people outside the state expected to see anywhere. The appalling Jim Crow racism was hidden away by the exuberant beauty of the land.

Malcolm

 

‘A Distant Flame’ – the second time through

I purchased my copy of this novel about the battle of Atlanta in 2005 when author Philip Lee Williams gave a reading in my small NE Georgia town. He signed the copy, but since the novel had won the Michael Shaara Award for Excellence in Civil War Fiction, he was more interested in my memories of Shaara as my creative writing teacher than talking about the book. I see that I gave the book a positive review on Amazon.

The book is somewhat haunting for a Georgia resident to read simply because the battles happened in the small towns between where I live now and Atlanta–and I’ve visited some of the battle locations.  I-75 carries motorists past sites where thousands were killed. It’s more haunting now because there is so much violence and unrest in the country in addition to the ills of the pandemic.

From the Publisher

In the spring of 1864, the Confederate Army in Georgia is faced with the onrushing storm of General William T. Sherman’s troops. A young sharpshooter for the South, Charlie Merrill, who has suffered many losses in his life already, must find a way to endure—and grow—if he is to survive the battles that will culminate in July at the gates of Atlanta.

From the opening salvos on Rocky Face Ridge near Dalton, through the trials of Resaca and Kennesaw Mountain, Charlie must face the overwhelming force of the Federal army and a growing uncertainty about his place in the war.

Never before has the Atlanta Campaign been rendered—in all its swift and terrible action—with such attention to history or with writing that reaches the level of art. This crucial episode in the Civil War’s western theater comes alive with unexcelled power and drama as it unfolds in soldiers’ hands and hearts.

Throughout the course of the novel, Charlie’s life is laid out in powerful detail. The experiences from his childhood, through the war, and into his twilight years are to a great extent on his mind half a century later when he is to give a major speech in the park of his small Georgia town

A Distant Flame is a book about the cost of war and the running conflict that led Sherman’s Army to the Battle of Atlanta—and the March to the Sea. It stands as a testament to love, dedication, and growth, from the Civil War’s fields of fire to the slow steps of old age.

What impressed me as an author is the fact that Williams made a chart (for research, not to include in the novel) showing where every general and brigade were 24/7 as Sherman moved through North Georgia. I mention this to everyone who says I spend too much time with research.

The novel reads well the second time through, and since it’s been a while since I read it, I don’t remember things just before they happen.

Malcolm

 

Coming soon: ‘Fate’s Arrows’

Within a couple of weeks, more or less, Thomas-Jacob Publishing will release the fourth novel in my Florida Folk Magic Series, Fate’s Arrows.

This will be the first book in the series that isn’t narrated by the cat Lena. Instead, Pollyanna–introduced in book three–is the protagonist. Set in North Florida in 1955, this book focuses on Pollyanna’s fight against the Klan. Those of you who’ve read some of the previous books in the series will already know most of the characters.

Here’s a look at the cover:

Once we get to the cover art, formatting, and final proofreading, the book begins to seem to a reality to me.

Malcolm

As ugly as homemade sin

Okay, I stole that heading from a Pat Conroy book. One could spend a lifetime writing posts based on phrases like that out of his books. I like phrases like that because I like catching readers unaware–the flip side of relying on clichés.

All in all, I don’t think homemade sin is as popular as it used to be. In part, it takes more time than factory fresh sin. And, like those clothes people used to make from patterns or the cakes some people still make from scratch, homemade now seems to cost more than storebought.

Being pragmatic about my use of time, I’m willing to sacrifice a little bit of quality for easier living. Why make a pie crust when people can’t tell the difference between the one you made and the Pillsbury pie crusts next to the eggs and butter at the grocery store?

Unfortunately, most people won’t admit to practicing homemade sin, so it’s hard to compare its costs with the kind of sin that comes out of a can. Plus, a lot of people gave it up for the same reason people gave up homespun clothes–they got looked down on. Then, too, I think the sin consensus is that if it (the sin) can’t be mass-produced, it’s really something we don’t want to talk about, much less advertise on TV or display in a store window.

Frankly, I think sin–including so-called “original sin” is an invention of the church because–without it–we wouldn’t need the church. But that subject’s a whole nother post other than to note that whether you’re a church or a factory, sin is damn good business.

If you’ve read a lot of Pat Conroy’s books, you’ll not only find strong plots and lyrical prose but a fair number of real or imagined Southern expressions.  I grew up in the South, so I’ve heard some of the most twisted, profane, ludicrous, and humorous expressions folks can make up. Those that haven’t turned into clichés, I love to see in novels because they wonderfully define a character–the kind who would say such things vs. the kind that wouldn’t. Of course, the Navy has always been a fine source for beautiful profanity and other phrases most of us didn’t share with our families when we came on on leave.

And when it comes down to it, so-called sin makes better feature films and novels than everyday people being good. All you need is a little homemade sin to stir up the plot a little bit or–if you’re lucky–bring down an empire.

–Malcolm

Satire and sin. It doesn’t get much better than that in a story about an old fashioned reporter stuck in the modern age.