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

 

 

‘Waking Plain’ Free on Kindle December 14-18

WakingPlainCoverFor years, I wanted to take a famous fairy tale and turn it upside down. The result is my Kindle story “Waking Plain” which is a fairy tale while poking fun at “Sleeping Beauty.”

In “Sleeping Beauty,” like other tales, the woman is always beautiful, needs a man to rescue her, and that man is somebody who (after waking her up or otherwise saving her), sweeps her off her feet because he’s not only a rich king or prince, but is really handsome.

What if “Sleeping Beauty” had been a hag? Yes, she’d probably still be asleep.

What if the guy who kissed her was the castle janitor? Does she wake up and die of fright? Does the king give him a meaningless title so he’s fit to marry the princess? Or, maybe the janitor is thrown in the dungeon?

These are the kinds of questions that need to be asked.

But, more could be done. So, I made the sleeper a rather plain prince who, as the story unfolded, was more of an out of sight, out of mind kind of royal. Who’s going to wake him up? Maybe nobody, God willing.

Enjoy the story.

Malcolm

Wow, almost 100,000 views for this blog

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Aw shucks, folks, thanks for all the visits and for putting up with the fact I haven’t felt the need to place this blog squarely in one niche or another.

  • The all-time favorite post is: The Bare-bones structure of a fairy tale. Even though that post is a little over two years old, it still out performs every new post from week to week. I have no idea why, but at over 7,000 views, it’s well ahead of the rest of my 1,065 of posts since 2007.
  • The second most popular post is: Heave Out and Trice Up. This, I understand. A lot of people search for the meanings of navy jargon and slang, most especially what “heave out and trice up” actually means. This post was written in 2010 and still gets hits every week.

I’ve done a lot of reviews on this site, a few author interviews from time to time and talked about writing (including my own). Those posts are in the majority. However, when north Florida’s notorious Dozier School was in the news, my 2012 post about the White House Boys got a lot of hits. So did my 2013 (and frequently updated) post about the fate of the aircraft carrier USS Ranger that was scrapped rather than turned into a museum.

Since my books are mostly set in Montana’s Glacier National Park and the Florida Panhandle, I’ve written posts about my stories’ settings. Those get more hits over time than they do on the day they appear. I’m glad you find them whenever you find them.

I’ve appreciated your comments over the years as well. One never knows what people will say. I do know it takes time for you to write them.

Want a chance at a free Kindle Fire?

For those of you who’ve enjoyed reading my books and short stories, I want to mention that my publisher is starting a newsletter. I hope you’ll sign up. It’s free. Better yet, one subscriber will receive a free Kindle Fire Tablet. Deadline is 16 days from now. Click here to subscribe and enter the random drawing for the Kindle.

As for heaving and tricing

Now, for those of you who are curious about heave out and trice up, it has nothing to do with throwing up while seasick or drunk. I don’t know if navy ships still use the phrase as a wake-up call over the ship’s public address system. It means get up and raise your bunk (rack) or hammock up away from the floor (deck) so that the compartment cleaners can sweep out your berthing (sleeping, not having babies) area.

–Malcolm

Malcolm R. Campbell writes magical realism, contemporary fantasy and paranormal novels and short stories.

 

 

 

 

Faerie tale in a mirror

Once upon a time—when time was more speculative than it is today—a king and queen had no children. The lords and ladies at court watched the night skies for signs and the townspeople from shipwright to innkeeper offered prayers and charms to the realm’s gods because the court and castle were dour, grey and unhappy indeed.

The king and queen seldom ventured outside the castle walls because nature’s cycles were rich and profligate. Across the parklands and throughout the forests, bluebells, roe deer, and red kites were blessed with young past human understanding.

The royal couple consulted astrologers, crossroads spirits, and the legendary faerie in the great forest. They carried talismans, drank teas, and chanted strange combinations of awkward incantations during the blue hours and holy days. Yet no answers came.

The queen considered herself sorely lacking as the barren years grew in number like stacked-up like rushes grown foul with use. The king felt cursed for the frivolities of his youth. Desperate, the couple went to a solitary goodwife and upon the winter solstice they drank together her bitter coction of herbs prepared over an unnatural fire.

 

So it begins. You’ve been there before…a girl child is born…she’s a fetching one…but a faerie is inadvertently slighted…a curse is pronounced…ultimately she sleeps for one hundred years waiting for the kiss that will wake her up into the world.

What handsome prince wouldn’t want to kiss a young woman so beautiful, so pure. . .

WakingPlainFB

But wait!

In “Waking Plain,” my new Kindle faerie tale, the sleeper is a young prince.

They say he’s as dull as dishwater, and that is kind.

The castle is a wonderment as always. So, too, the faeries and their magic. Even the great forest surrounding the wonderment of a castle is enchanted with four-legged animals and winged creatures and flowers and trees and sunshine that are grand beyond the understanding of everyday men and women.

But if the sleeper isn’t beautiful, who will kiss him? Perhaps it’s kinder to the young man–not to mention, the world itself–to let him sleep.

I don’t mean to imply that the classic tale of “Sleeping Beauty” is sexist, only to say that it’s more realistic to ponder how it would be for an everyday kind of guy–you know, the one who would be the last one chosen for a team during recess–to wait for eternity, if not longer, for the woman of his nightmares to kiss him and re-awaken him for all to see.

They would prefer not to see him, of course, but they might, just maybe, in this faerie tale in a mirror.

–Malcolm

WakingPlainCoverInasmuch as “Waking Plain” is a Kindle faerie tale (or as Amazon calls it, a “fairy tale”), that is where you will find it, and not for a who’s-fooling-whom 99¢ but for an entire $1.00. That extra penny is your payment to the faerie world for allowing this story to be told.

 

 

 

 

 

 

It’s time for the WordPress annual report about what the heck happened here

blogcollageAccording to the gurus at WordPress, two of my posts were hogging most of the visitors in 2105. One of them is two years old. This years’s favorite is Okay, who in my zip code is an Ashley Madison User? and the still-visited post from 2013 is The Bare-Bones Structure of a Fairy Tale. The first one I understand; as for the second one, I have no idea why there are so many hits.

You can see the entire report here: https://knightofswords.wordpress.com/2015/annual-report/

As you’ll notice if you read the report, a lot of you are still curious about Navy slang, but fewer of you are looking up stories about the White House Boys this year as stories about the Dozier School in Marianna, Florida haven’t been in the news as often. I probably will have little or nothing more to say about the aircraft carrier Ranger which the Navy, showing lack of sense, decided to scrap rather than turn into a museum. (I’m biased about this, I know.)

Guest Posts

This blog has always been open to guest posts from other writers, though I have to say I never really solicited them. If you’re an author and want to contribute a guest post of 500 to 750 words, send me an e-mail at malcolmrcampbell@yahoo.com with the words GUEST POST IDEA in the subject line.

I don’t run guest posts that are direct sales pitches to buy a person’s book. However, I will run an author’s picture and a book cover picture for anyone whose guest post runs in the blog. To see what I’m looking for, take a look at How to Write a Decent Guest Post on my Sun Singer’s Travels Blog. Then, if you want to try it out, send me an idea of what you want to say or send me the post itself to the e-mail address above.

Meanwhile, I’ve appreciated the 15,000 people who stopped by the blog this year. Best wishes for 2016.

Malcolm

 

 

 

 

 

Wondering why people click on what they click on

When I blogged about the USS Ranger, the Glacier National Park Centennial and the White House Boys (at Florida’s Dozier School), I wasn’t surprised to see lots of folks stopping by to read those posts while the stories behind them were in the news.

Arthur Rackham's 1909 illustration for "The Fairy Tales of the Brothers Grimm"

Arthur Rackham’s 1909 illustration for “The Fairy Tales of the Brothers Grimm”

Then, when there was suddenly an upsurge of interest in those posts, I often found out I’d missed a news event and people were out looking for information again. So then I updated the posts and even more people read them!

Of course, there are always those posts I write, thinking they’ll be popular and nobody reads them. Shows what I know!

It’s kind of fun trying to figure out why people read what they read. If I knew the answer to that question, I’d probably write more follow-up posts and get some real conversations going in the comments section.

  • This summer marks the 100th anniversary of Many Glacier Hotel in Glacier National Park. Along with various centennial events, there will be an employee reunion which–sorry to say–I’m not able to attend. Perhaps this is why I’m suddenly getting more hits on my 2011 post Many Glacier Hotel 1963, where the fantasy began.
  • I figure there must be some Floridians following this blog, or possibly people planning a trip there, because I randomly get slews of hits on some of my “On Location” posts about locations in the panhandle such as Location Settings: The Other Florida, featuring Panacea and St. Teresa. I’ve written a lot about Florida settings and, since most of them are in the panhandle rather than the primary tourist sections of the state, it’s nice to see people stopping by to read them.
  • Reader interest in old book reviews comes and goes, quite often when the author of a book I reviewed has released something new.
  • Long-ago days

    Long-ago days

    The hits on one post, though, really have me puzzled. The highest readership week after week is going to my June 2013 post The Bare-Bones Structure of a Fairy Tale. In fact, that post has taken over from the White House Boys as the most-read post in the history of this blog. But why? I have no idea. I like fairy tales, myths, and legends: that’s why I wrote the post. I figured nobody would notice it because fairy tales are not exactly breaking news or high on the list of things that are trending on Yahoo, Twitter and Facebook. If you’re one of the people who read that post, what were you looking for?

This really isn’t a niche blog, though it generally has to do with books, writing and the things that catch my fancy. If the NSA is tracking me here, it probably knows more about this blog than I do, what with the various algorithms around for weighing how much space has been devoted to one subject or another.

Whatever prompts you to stop and read, I appreciate it. Hang in there as I bounce all over the spectrum. I’m working on another hoodoo related book, so that means you might be finding out more about folk magic than you want to know. (I spent the morning researching possum bones, but I think I’ll spare you the details of that.)

–Malcolm

Free on Kindle Unlimited

Free on Kindle Unlimited

Malcolm R. Campbell is the author of The Land Between the Rivers, the three-story set of folk tales about Panther, Bird and Bear, the first animals (according to the Seminole creation myth) to walk upon the earth. It’s set in Tate’s Hell Swamp in the Florida Panhandle.

 

Stories where we live

from the archives. . .

“One of the best things about folklore and fairy tales is that the best fantasy is what you find right around the corner, in this world. That’s where the old stuff came from.” — Terri Windling

Ivan Bilibin's illustration of the Russian fairy tale about Vasilisa the Beautiful

Ivan Bilibin’s illustration of the Russian fairy tale about Vasilisa the Beautiful

For American audiences, the most famous fairy tales, including those brought to the screen by Disney and others, all came from somewhere else. Such is the power of books and film.

Of course, once upon a time, the more famous stories we know were once local yarns from real places. In fact, many places got their names from something that once happened there with people who were well known at the time. To those who knew the origin of the name, a river or forest or mountain pass was more than water, trees and rocks. It was all that, plus what happened–and, what might happen again.

Almost all places have stories associated with them. You can find some of the more notorious and/or most interesting by running Google searches with such phrases as “Florida ghost stories,” “Glacier Park legends,” and “Illinois haunted places.” The people who live in a town or county often grow up hearing multiple versions of these stories along with others that never get into books, newspapers or websites.

We tell stories to each other almost every day. Sometimes, this is pure gossip. At other times, it’s neighborhood news with a bit of opinion thrown into it.

Storytelling is a very natural pastime even without a front porch or a campfire. We share the good, the bad and the ugly with each other. When that which we’re sharing is larger than life, or stranger than normal, it begins turning into a legend associated with the place where we live.

When we camped pine forests, we told and re-told the tall tales about what happened there "years ago."

When we camped pine forests, we told and re-told the tall tales about what happened there “years ago.”

As a writer of contemporary fantasy, I always love weaving local ghost stories and legends into my work. For one thing, those stories are just as much a part of a place as are the rivers, mountains and towns. Also, they have a lot of flavor in them whether it’s pure local color or an amusing or frightening tale that could have happened anywhere.

Our stories are stronger, I think, when we consider the legends and tall tales connected to a place as part of our research. Almost every town has a haunted house, cemetery, or lover’s lane. If you live there, you know about it already. If you don’t, it’s not too hard to track down through ghost hunter and haunted websites.

Plus, for those of us who love blurring the line between fiction and reality, ghost stories about the places where we’ve set our short stories and novels add a nice touch of mystery.

Malcolm

99seeker

The e-book edition of “The Seeker” is also on sale at Smashwords and OminiLit