February book give-away

My contemporary fantasy novel The Sun Singer will be free on Kindle February 4th and 5th.

DescriptionRobert Adams is a normal teenager who raises tropical fish, makes money shoveling snow off his neighbors’ sidewalks, gets stuck washing the breakfast dishes, dreads trying to ask girls out on dates and enjoys listening to his grandfather’s tall tales about magic and the western mountains. Yet, Robert is cursed by a raw talent his parents refuse to talk to him about: his dreams show him what others cannot see.

When the family plans a vacation to the Montana high country, Grandfather Elliott tells Robert there’s more to the trip than his parents’ suspect. The mountains hide a hidden world where people the ailing old man no longer remembers need help and dangerous tasks remain unfinished. Thinking that he and his grandfather will visit that world together, Robert promises to help.

On the shore of a mountain lake, Robert steps alone through a doorway into a world at war where magic runs deeper than the glacier-fed rivers. Grandfather Elliott meant to return to this world before his health failed him and now Robert must resurrect a long-suppressed gift to fulfill his promises, uncover old secrets, undo the deeds of his grandfather’s foul betrayer, subdue brutal enemy soldiers in battle, and survive the trip home.

Praise for The Sun Singer

Many thanks to the seventeen readers who posted Amazon reviews with a 4.9-star average rating.

I love everything you said, but I am especially fond of the review left by contemporary fantasy author Seth Mullins in 2006: “I have encountered few books that have moved me like this one has. Thomas Covenant. Lord of the Rings. Stranger in a Strange Land. There are a few I could name; but really, how many life-changing moments can you have without feeling a little crazy in the end? Life, in its wisdom, rations them out to us. The Sun Singer is one. Maybe I’ll never have the opportunity to encounter the forces of darkness and light that struggle in the depths of my soul, personified within an exotic and yet strangely familiar otherworld, like Robert Adams was fortunate enough to. But I do know this: after reading this book, my own mundane world didn’t look or feel quite the same. I reckon yours may not either, at that.”

Even though the book is free, I know that reading it represents an investment of your time. If you download the book, I hope you enjoy it and see your time with this hero’s journey novel as time well spent.

Malcolm

Free Kindle Contemporary Fantasy – ‘The Sun Singer’

The Sun Singer will be free on Kindle January 28 and 29. (The novel is always free to Kindle Unlimited subscribers.)

Description

TSSJourneysRobert Adams is a normal teenager who raises tropical fish, makes money shoveling snow off his neighbors’ sidewalks, gets stuck washing the breakfast dishes, dreads trying to ask girls out on dates and enjoys listening to his grandfather’s tall tales about magic and the western mountains. Yet, Robert is cursed by a raw talent his parents refuse to talk to him about: his dreams show him what others cannot see.

When the family plans a vacation to the Montana high country, Grandfather Elliott tells Robert there’s more to the trip than his parents’ suspect. The mountains hide a hidden world where people the ailing old man no longer remembers need help and dangerous tasks remain unfinished. Thinking that he and his grandfather will visit that world together, Robert promises to help.

On the shore of a mountain lake, Robert steps alone through a doorway into a world at war where magic runs deeper than the glacier-fed rivers. Grandfather Elliott meant to return to this world before his health failed him and now Robert must resurrect a long-suppressed gift to fulfill his promises, uncover old secrets, undo the deeds of his grandfather’s foul betrayer, subdue brutal enemy soldiers in battle, and survive the trip home.

Praise for “The Sun Singer”

The Sun Singer is gloriously convoluted, with threads that turn on themselves and lyrical prose on which you can float down the mysterious, sun-shaded channels of this charmingly liquid story.” – Author Diana Gabaldon (Outlander)

“This is a wildly spirited and intelligent adventure story where Robert has to learn to believe in the energies around him for them to flow through him. I enjoyed the messages of extended families and the way things came together at the end. All ages of readers who enjoy mystical adventures, alternate universes, or epic tales will love this story.” – Big Al’s Books and Pals

“I have encountered few books that have moved me like this one has. Thomas Covenant. Lord of the Rings. Stranger in a Strange Land. There are a few I could name; but really, how many life-changing moments can you have without feeling a little crazy in the end? Life, in its wisdom, rations them out to us. The Sun Singer is one. Maybe I’ll never have the opportunity to encounter the forces of darkness and light that struggle in the depths of my soul, personified within an exotic and yet strangely familiar otherworld, like Robert Adams was fortunate enough to. But I do know this: after reading this book, my own mundane world didn’t look or feel quite the same. I reckon yours may not either, at that.” – Author Seth Mullins

“This magical coming-of-age tale takes the reader through a labyrinth as a teenage boy/man sets off into the cosmic dimensions of the unknown to redeem his ‘grandfather’s’ kingdom and rightfully claim his position in life as a true leader. What I’d give to have Malcolm Campbell’s imagination, wisdom, wit, and mastery of the written word. Buy it, steal it, borrow it from your local library—one way or another, get hold of The Sun Singer and tell your friends.” – Literary Aficionado

“I highly recommend this book to those who seek to understand their own magical natures. Campbell has a fine eye for describing nature and emotions, something rare in writers these days. I predict that readers will resonate with his wisdom and I am really looking forward to his next book.” – Author Nora Caron

I hope you enjoy the book!

–Malcolm

Grandfathers: protectors and tricksters

The mini-golf ant is fake, or is it?

My mother’s father was a solid, responsible grandfather when it came to driving a nail straight, shooting a flawless game of pool, and finding where the fish were hiding in the river. He worked as a farmer, an auditor and a car salesman, so he knew a lot about the practical nuts and bolts of the world.  He also knew what was wrong with it and what was dangerous, so he was among my childhood protectors and instructors.

He also saw the humor in the unexpected, lurching out of dark shadows at night, playing practical jokes, and becoming a conspirator in the wild, imaginary tales my two brothers and I cooked up.

As a fan on tricksters in myths and legends, my first lessons in combining fact and fiction, the sacred and the profane and the practical and the ludicrous came from my Grandfather Gourley. As a child and a young adult, I simply saw that Grandpa liked making people laugh. Now, I wonder if he had somewhat of a trickster’s mindset: that is, creating the laugh as part of a learning experience?

In my novel The Sun Singer, my Grandfather Elliott character—who has as lot in common with my grandfather—is the one who stirs things up. Since my novel is an adventure story, Elliott’s grandson Robert gets into some dangerous situations because things got stirred up. Needless to say, Robert’s parents aren’t pleased when things get stirred up. After all, they expect grandfathers to serve as wise protectors.

My grandfather lived in Illinois. I lived in Florida. So, for many years I only saw in on vacations. Ultimately, he and grandmother moved to Florida, finding a house about four blocks away from us. My parents liked the arrangement for all the usual reasons about having family close rather than far away. I wonder, though, if my parents noticed that after grandfather came to town, things got stirred up more than  ever. My mother often told stories about the practical jokes her father played on her when she was a kid.

So, she had to know that having Grandfather Gourley in our neighborhood was somewhat like having a coyote or a fox in the hen house. When things went nuts, Grandfather acted innocent like he had no clue what could have possibly caused the latest hijinks. From him, I learned how to keep a straight face while household weirdness played itself out. While visiting my granddaughter last week, who is still very literal when it comes to the meanings of things said and done, I quite naturally felt a need to protect her from all possible harm and unpleasantness.

Yet, I also began my sacred task as a grandfather: working on getting her more acquainted with the figurative. (In small doeses, of course.)  My grandfather helped teach me about humor, magic, and the benefits of managed chaos. That’s a tradition I want to continue.

–Malcolm

Revisiting ‘The Sun Singer’

The most recent edition of my hero’s journey mountain adventure novel The Sun Singer came out in March 2010 in paperback and Kindle formats. I have been revisiting the novel during the last few months to make sure my Sarabande sequel is consistent with the large cast of characters and mysterious plot.

Many of my favorite characters from The Sun Singer are returning in Sarabande. I must be careful not to accidentally change the color of anyone’s hair, mix up who did what, or forget who the traitors and heroes were in the original story.

I Need a Sun Singer Encyclopedia!

I’m using the search feature in Microsoft Word a lot these days. When Gem or Dohver or Robert show up in Sarabande, I search for them in The Sun Singer. I’ve done the same thing for every character because I’m just not organized enough to have a “master notebook” with an alphabetized list of characters, traits, nastiness level, date of birth and eye color.

Searching for such details in The Sun Singer reminds me of bits and pieces of the story that I haven’t thought about for a long time. It’s been fun–as well as distracting. Here’s a scene I came across tonight in which young Robert Adams (aka Sonny Trout) meets Gem and her daughter Cinnabar on a mountain trail:

Gem and Cinnabar

Voices. Voices ahead of him on the trail, as yet indistinct. He crouched down and waited. If it were a search party, he’d just have to hang his head, like Arnold’s puppy when it was caught on the couch, and admit that he was wrong to hike alone and stay out so late. Yet, if he did step through a door into another world, what then? He hid his pack in the underbrush and crawled forward.

He found every dry twig in the forest, and every one of them cracked in two as though he were chopping firewood in front of a microphone. Where was brother owl’s hoooo hoo-oooo, hoo hoo and the wind and the rain when he needed some covering noise? The earth was cold to the touch.

An arm wrapped around his neck, choked him, and pulled him over onto his back. That dream! He knew what was next. The boot slammed into his stomach and the dirty rag shoved in his mouth blocked his weak protest. His hands and feet were bound with a heavy rope.

“Over here. Gem.” A woman’s voice—the word in his dream notebook was a name?—and obviously no one from the hotel out to rescue him.

“Gem, I’ve caught us a lousy spy.”

Sonny saw nothing. His captor had the eyes of a cat. Or, with the ability to operate so efficiently in the darkness, was a cat.

The night moved in front of him and four hands pulled him up on his feet, then hoisted him into a mid-air prone position. They carried him down the trail in the direction he had been heading. After taking a few steps, they were breathing heavily.

A spy? Spies were always stabbed at night or shot at dawn. Robert Adams said he heard a blue dove calling through a doorway. Yeah, for the hapless Sonny Trout.

In ten minutes, the night gave way to a small campfire. They set him down roughly, several feet away from it, and the heat felt good. The light transformed his captors from gasping apparitions into flesh and blood women. One wore a brown, leather dress. Her hair was black and twisted into long braids. The other was shorter, younger, and wore dark green trousers and a flannel shirt. She perspired heavily. Her shoulder-length hair was fiery red, tangled and matted to the sides of her face. She paced in front of the fire, catching her breath. Finally, she stooped down in front of Sonny, turning up her nose in disgust as though she were looking at a helpless bug lying on its back. Then she laughed.

“In the Guardian’s name. Gem, we’ve robbed the cradle with this one. He’s a mere child. Justine must be desperate.”

“Quiet, Cinnabar,” rasped Gem, “the forest can hear. There may be others.”

“If there are others,” said Cinnabar, “they’ll meet the same fate as this one.” She leered at Sonny. “There are numerous ways to die, little boy.”

Okay, I Better Get Back to Work

In the manuscript for my sequel, Robert Adams is talking to Sarabande some 1,600 miles away from the Lake Josephine Valley in Glacier National Park where this scene from The Sun Singer occurred. I found myself reading it to remind myself what Robert’s firrst reaction to a stressful situation was like. He’s in one right this minute in Sarabande, and I better get back to it before I forget the details I just read.


Malcolm R. Campbell is also the author of “Garden of Heaven” and “Jock Stewart and the Missing Sea of Fire.”

A teaser excerpt from ‘The Sun Singer’

BATTLE
from “The Sun Singer,” (Vanilla Heart Publishing, 2010)

When they entered a wide meadow which looked as fluid as water in the pale light, Sarabande ran past them, her waist-length hair streaming out like a flag.

“Grinder,” she said, in a rush of air, more wind than voice.

“Hurry,” said Aegia, and she gave him a gentle shove. “Up there where Yarrow is standing. She’s a brave one, watching the enemy as she does.”

Sonny dashed through an obstacle course of boulders and fallen trees. His boots filled with water from unseen puddles. Thorns bit into his exposed skin like spurs. He swung his staff at the offending briers, and ran, was running—now, he was angry and unchecked. Running—there was Marten, and Marten saw him and punched the air and laughed and shouted with more breath than volume, “Hoo-eeee, hoo-eeee.” Running—“Hoo-eeee, hoo-eeee,” he shouted back and ran harder, pounding down the earth. Running—soon they would turn, soon they would fight, and his heart pumped primal fears, brutal and exhilarating, and they coursed through him on rivers of fire. The day would end in fire. He knew this as he ran and resolved not to be consumed.

Copyright (c) 2004,2010 by Malcolm R. Campbell

Click here for multiple e-book formats at only $5.99

Jock Stewart Reviews ‘The Sun Singer’

from the Morning Satirical News:

Babb, Montana, May 21, 2010–I’m standing here on a blustery day in Babb at the intersection of Hgy 89 and Glacier Road Three watching company trucks and employee cars making their way up Swiftcurrent Valley to get Many Glacier Hotel ready for its June 4th opening for the summer season. My ancient CJ5 complained about the trip all the way from Junction City, and both the Jeep and I are wondering if the 4-wheel-drive will work in tomorrow’s expected snowfall.

I’m here–mostly on my own nickel because newspapers don’t have a lot of money anymore–to visit the setting on a mythic adventure novel named The Sun Singer. (Hey, there goes one of those 1930s “jammer buses” up to the hotel with a batch of new employees.)

Let me clarify several important CYA points right now:

1. Except when I’m desperate for cash, I don’t do windows, Karaoke bars or book reviews.
2. I know diddly about Quantum physics, and that means that I don’t buy into the theory that everything that can happen does happen or that there are multiple universes connected to each other by time portals.
3. Magic is just smoke and mirrors and too many glasses of Scotch.

So, let me dismiss out of hand, the rather rash claims by author Malcolm R. Campbell that there’s a real time portal hidden at the base of Mt. Allen at the head end of Lake Josephine that leads to another universe. If such a thing existed, everyone having “issues” with loan sharks, ex-wives and bad whiskey would be here in the park doing whatever voodoo chants or meditations were required to open that door so they could escape.

Frankly, I think the whole time portal in the park occurred to Campbell years ago after he fell off the top of Mt. Allen and hit his head.

Time Portals

If there were a time portal–and I’m not saying there is one–all those running through it might find themselves smack dab in an industrial-strength spot of bother. That’s what happens to young Robert Adams in the book. His family brings him to this beautiful park, and what does he do? He leaves the celestial world of hiking, boating, riding jammer buses and mountain climbing and steps through a doorway into a place filled with evil. Once he gets there, he forgets who he is.

I know a lot of people in the psych ward over at county general who act like they’ve been there and done that, but the big difference is, they’re real people. Robert Adams is a fictional character who has to figure out how a magical wizard’s-type staff works just to get back to the hotel with his physical self all in one piece.

Even though I had a few drinks while reading “The Sun Singer,” I didn’t totally believe in magic when I got to the last page. But I have to say, the novel tells a darned good yarn and when I sobered up, I considered getting a job in the quantum mechanics or avatar business so I could learn more about all the realities that yours truly appears to have been ignorant of up to now.

Be Safe Rather Than One Universe Shy of Reality

Look, if you go to Glacier this summer, take a copy of the novel along and read it at night while spending your daylight hours celebrating the park’s 100th birthday. Just remember, Robert Adams goes looking for a time portal because he promised his mystical grandfather he’d do it and try to fix whatever was broken. What was broken included himself.

So unless your life is too broke to fix, leave that portal alone. Or at least, read the book first and then decide where you stand on such things as magic and time portals and becoming a Sun Singer.

As for myself, I need to find a warmer place to sleep tonight than a 40-year-old Jeep with a canvas top.

A beautiful bookstore in Dubuque

I love locally owned independent bookstores. They’re not only great for a city’s economy–as websites like IndieBound will tell you–they are also a reflection of the local culture, people, reading habits and thought.

River Lights Bookstore Photo

When I reached handwritten postcard number 100 in the stack I’m sending out to bookstores telling them about “The Sun Singer,” I was curious about the store getting the postcard. It’s River Lights Bookstore, 2nd Edition on Main Street in Dubuque, Iowa. They have a website and a Facebook page, so it was easy to learn more about the store.

They also have something else that chain stores can’t match: a wonderful historic building. The “Second Edition” in the store’s name comes from the fact that when the original store closed, some of the folks involved created a new store down town.

On June 1st, 2007, the new River Lights Bookstore opened in a beautifully renovated historic downtown building at 1098 Main Street. The wooden floors and tin ceilings of this 1870’s building offer an inviting atmosphere in which to browse or connect with fellow booklovers.

River Lights Bookstore photo

As the former chairman of my town’s Historic Preservation Commission (HPC), I was happy to see the “adaptive reuse” of the old building. I wish the store would include a note on its site saying what the building originally housed. By the look of it, it could have been a small manufacturing operation. According to Dubuque’s website, the city has an HPC that oversees the historic districts and historic properties. Doing this is also good for the local economy; and, of course, it strengthens a community’s sense of its own past history and architecture.

River Lights looks like what a bookstore ought to look like: a vibrant operation with excited book people in the perfect setting. If I lived in Dubuque–a three-hour drive from Batavia, the small town where my father was born–I would be shopping at this store every week.

I have no idea how many weeks it will take my postcard to travel from northeast Georgia to 1098 Main Street in Dubuque. Probably several weeks. Chances are, the card will be swept into a stack of Baker & Taylor, Ingram and other catalogues where it might sit for another several weeks. Somebody might actually see it, pause, and think, “hmmm.”

“Hmmm” is fine with me, assuming they can read my handwriting which, suffice it to say, was getting a bit sloppy when I reached card #100. Otherwise, I’m glad I looked up the store where the card is headed. For a preservation-minded writer, the website is a real treat, and imagining what it would be like to shop or attend book club meetings in River Lights 2/e is wonderful to imagine.

Each copy sold benefits Glacier National Park!