Let’s hear it for Ma Rainey

While my contemporaries were listening to Elvis and the Beatles, I was listening to folk music and the blues. So, of course, I heard Ma Rainey songs and wondered what it would have been like to see one of her over-the-top, gravel-voiced performances in person. Sadly, not possible since the “Mother of the Blues” died here in Rome, Georgia before I was born.

As I wrote my Florida Folk Magic Series of novels about a Florida conjure woman, I heard the blues inside my head and wished the cost of getting permission to include the words of still-copyrighted songs wasn’t more than I could afford. Yet, the series of novels is built on the blues and the lives one led to understand and experience and play the blues. And, Ma Rainey.

As Wikipedia explains, The singer began performing as a teenager and became known as Ma Rainey after her marriage to Will Rainey, in 1904. They toured with the Rabbit Foot Minstrels and later formed their own group, Rainey and Rainey, Assassinators of the Blues. Her first recording was made in 1923. In the next five years, she made over 100 recordings, including “Bo-Weevil Blues” (1923), “Moonshine Blues” (1923), “See See Rider Blues” (1924), “Ma Rainey’s Black Bottom” (1927), and “Soon This Morning” (1927).”

Needless to say, I’m looking forward to “Ma Rainey’s Black Bottom,” coming December 18th on Netflix. As I said on Facebook after seeing the trailer, Viola Davis appears to be exceptional in the role, one that’s quite a bit different than the character we saw in her TV show “How to Get Away With Murder.” Before any of you embarrass yourselves by asking why anyone would make a movie about Ma Rainey’s butt, I should point out that the title refers to a dance, not human anatomy even though Rainey’s persona and many of her songs radiated sex.

My fantasy while writing the four novels in the series was that Davis’ production company would find the books, put an option on them, and produce them with Davis playing the conjure woman. Seeing her in the Ma Rainey role tells me she would have been a very convincing Eulalie.

I’ve got my fingers crossed that the movie lives up to its trailer and the early reviews.

Malcolm

You can buy all four novels in the folk magic series in the so-called Kindle boxed set.

New edition of Florida Folk Magic ‘boxed set.’

The cover looks different at online sellers that don’t use the 3-D approach of the Kindle cover.

With the release of Fate’s Arrows, my publisher Thomas-Jacob has updated the so-called boxed set that features all four novels in the Florida Folk Magic Series in one large e-book. If you’re interested in the entire series, buying the novels this way will save money.

I’m also happy to announce that the hardcover edition of Fate’s Arrows is now available. Moving the hardcover into print was one of the things the pandemic slowed down.

We’ve started initial work on the audiobook, but down hold your breath. Audiobooks that are complete and ready to go are waiting a long time for Audible’s approval. (Another pandemic slowdown.)

Enjoy the books.

–Malcolm

My books take me by surprise

Writing books is fun because once I get into the story, I want to know how it’s going to end. I promise I have no idea until I get there.

I thought of writing Fate’s Arrows because a new character named Pollyanna showed up out of nowhere in Lena, my previous novel. She had a lot of sparkle and energy, so I thought, “Hmm, maybe she has enough spunk to carry a new novel on her own–rather like an actress with a small role in one movie who ends up staring in the studio’s next movie.”

While I planned for Fate’s Arrows to be a standalone novel, I set it in the same fictional town (Torreya) where the Florida Folk Magic Series was set. It’s not surprising, then, that the characters from the series began showing up and found important things to do.

Fate’s Arrows relies less on conjure and more on Pollyanna’s skills, skills that readers learn about as the story moves along. I can’t mention them here because they would be spoilers. Suffice it to say, she is a lot more than she appears while sitting behind the counter in the Mercantile balancing Lane Walker’s books. If you’re a bad person, don’t mess with her.

The Big Al’s Books and Pals nailed it in her review when she said, “Malcolm R Campbell is an author who has lived in the Florida panhandle (where this novel is set) and is old enough to remember the final days of the KKK. His anger about that organisation continues to burn, and this is an angry book.” 

I needed a protagonist who had the same hatred for the KKK I’ve always had and who had the guile and the grit to do something about it. If I’d tried to take the action she takes in the novel when I lived in the Florida Panhandle in the 1950s and 1960s, I probably would have gotten killed–or worse.

Of course, Pollyanna has a strong supporting cast from the earlier books: Eulalie the conjure woman and her cat Lena, Willie Tate who knows how to get people out of trouble, Police chief Rudy Flowers, and others.

I admire Pollyanna and I think you will, too. She kept surprising me every with every risk she took.

Malcolm

BigAl’s Books and Pals: Review

Malcolm R Campbell is an author who has lived in the Florida panhandle (where this novel is set) and is old enough to remember the final days of the KKK. His anger about that organisation continues to burn, and this is an angry book. Coincidentally, it has been released when we must, once again, reiterate that Black Lives Matter and that racism is a foul thing which must be resisted wherever it is encountered.

I enjoyed this book a lot. It’s set in Torreya, a fictional town in the Florida panhandle, in the mid-nineteen fifties. Domination by the KKK ran deep at that time in those southern places. All the same, although it put their lives in danger, there were those who resisted.

Source: BigAl’s Books and Pals: Review: Fate’s Arrows: 4 (Florida Folk Magic Stories) by Malcolm R Campbell

If you’ve ever seen any old movies about the cast of a play sitting around in a restaurant on opening night waiting for the reviews to come in, then you know how an author feels waiting for a reviewer to find a new book.

Whew, she liked it. And she’s from the UK where customs and language (including Southern dialect) are much different.  Click on the link above to read the complete review. Now I can get some sleep.

–Malcolm

‘Fate’s Arrows’ – Update

  • The Kindle edition of Fate’s Arrows will be 99₵ on October 4th from Amazon.
  • The novel is available on these sites: Amazon, Amazon UK, Barnes & Noble, Kobo, Bookshop, Scribd, IndieBound, Powell’s, Google Books, Apple, and as a B&N Nook book.
  • We are still waiting on the printer for the hardcover edition.
  • Bookstores can order the paperback via their Ingram Catalog.
  • Listed on the NewPages website’s new releases.
  • You can watch the trailer on the home page of my website.

Malcolm

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

Florida Plants: Black Titi

Black titi (pronounced tie-tie), Cliftonia monophylla, sometimes called the Buckwheat Tree, is a perennial evergreen shrub/tree found in Florida’s wet flatwoods and bogs. Deer and bees like it a lot. Sometimes native plant nurseries can find it for your garden. The flowers are generally white and bloom in the spring.

I refer to it often in my Florida Folk Magic Series because it’s ubiquitous in the Florida Panhandle along with slash pines, longleaf pines, scrub oak, and saw palmetto. The word drives proofreaders crazy because they think it’s scandalously pronounced as titty.

Plant Distribution

In spite of this map, I see titi has more of a western Florida Panhandle plant with fewer occurrences in Peninsular part of the state.

I like the plant’s description in the Lady Bird Johnson Wildflower Center’s database: “Native from southeastern North America south through Central America and the West Indies to northeastern South America, this deciduous tree stays under 30 ft., and, though it looks shrubby for several years, eventually makes a slender tree with smooth, cinnamon-colored trunks; abundant, showy, whorled clusters of airy, white blooms; and dark-green leaves. In the northern part of its range, the leaves turn rust-red in fall, dropping in spring just as the new leaves unfurl. Farther south, plants are nearly evergreen. Summer fruits are yellow-brown.”

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

Delivery trucks, Ingram & Amazon, CT Scans, and granddaughters

  • In yesterday’s blog, I speculated about when (or if) a lawn mower service and a lawn mower delivery truck would show up. Our old mower is going into to be serviced. It was supposed to be picked up between 9 a.m. and high noon. It was picked up at 4 p.m. A new mower was supposed to be delivered between 3 p.m. and 7:15 p.m. It showed up before lunch. So, I guess that evens out, delivery-wise. Now, if the old mower can be repaired, we’ll be able to use both mowers on the 3+ acres of grass and maybe keep up with it better.
  • If you dashed out to buy hardback copies of the three copies in my Florida Folk Magic Series on Amazon, you probably noticed that two of them are displaying a “no image available” graphic. One of the three is displaying that graphic on the Barnes & Noble site. The good news is, you can still buy the copies and when they arrive, the covers will not say “no image  available.”  I don’t know if Ingram is backed up because it’s having to pick up the slack now that Baker & Taylor has suddenly stopped supplying bookstores, or if Ingram and Amazon are experiencing a failure of communications.
Fortunately, a CT scan is not as loud as an MRI. – Wikipedia photo.
  • I spent the morning at the imaging clinic getting two CT scans. This is a follow-up to the indications of scattered prostate cancer cells from a recent biopsy. If any of you have gone through this, or a similar series of tests, you know there’s a lot of hurry up and wait. So, that meant four days waiting on the biopsy results and another four waiting to hear what the CT scans show prior to meeting with the doctor on Tuesday. For the scans, they injected dye or kryptonite or cyanide or something to provide contrasty pictures that will show how extensive the problem is. If it’s not too bad, the treatment will most likely be hormone injections.
  • My granddaughter Beatrice recently celebrated her sixth birthday. She had a party. I wasn’t there since she’s in Maryland and I’m in Georgia. Fortunately, we’ve been able to see Beatrice (Bebe) and her older sister Freya a fair number of times a year. And, their mother is pretty good about posting pictures of the girls on Facebook. My wife and I hope to visit the Gettysburg battlefield this year. If that works out, we’ll be several hours away from my daughter and her family and might be able to get together.

Once I know the treatment plan, etc. for the prostate cancer, I want to get back to working on the novel in progress, Dark Arrows, Dark Targets. The medical thing has been distrating me, so I haven’t made much progress on it. But soon, I hope.

Malcolm

‘Eulalie and Washerwoman’ and ‘Lena’ now available in hardcover

Thomas-Jacob Publishing has just released the hardcover editions of Eulalie and Washerwoman and Lena. The first book in the Florida Folk Magic Series, Conjure Woman’s Cat, was released in hardcover last month. The books are also available in e-book, paperback, and audiobook editions.  All e-book editions are also available together in one e-book volume.

Bookstand and hoodoo supplies not included!

Enjoy the stories.

Malcolm