Summer listening for cheap hotels with bad TV service

In this word from your sponsor (me), I thought I’d mention–just after getting back from a one-week vacation–that when you collapse into your hotel room after a day of sightseeing, you need entertainment. But, sometimes there just isn’t anything to watch on TV except the Weather Channel.

The answer: audiobooks. Here are some for your list:

Editorial Review: Wanda J. Dixon’s warmth and gorgeous singing voice are superb in this story about Conjure Woman Eulalie, which is told through the voice of her cat and spirit companion, Lena. Dixon zestfully portrays Eulalie, who is “older than dirt” and is kept busy casting spells, mixing potions, and advising people–that is, when the “sleeping” sign is removed from her door. Most distinctive is Eulalie’s recurring sigh, which conveys her frustration with Florida in the 1950s, when Jim Crow laws and “Colored Only” signs were routine. Dixon’s Lena is fully believable when she spies around town and reports to Eulalie that rednecks have raped and murdered a young women. They almost escape until Eulalie persuades a witness to come forward. Listeners will marvel at the magical realism in this story and benefit from the helpful glossary of the charming local dialect. S.G.B. Winner of AudioFile Earphones Award © AudioFile


Editorial Review (Excerpt): “Kelley Hazen performs the narration in a solid voice that is exhilaratingly fresh and young and old sounding as appropriate. Her accent is accurate and captures the essence of each character perfectly. I found her voice mesmerizing and comforting at the same time.” – Audio Book Reviewer

Reader Review: I like it when kids are smarter than adults in stories like this. It gives me hope. The author ‘s writing had a ‘Peter Pan’ feel to it – not that it reads like ‘Peter Pan’ but it’s a kid being powerful and doing something positive. And there is also a magical ‘The Secret Garden’ kind of feel in here.The kid is powerful because she can see & hear the beauty and the magic in Nature. This audiobook has the coldest, scariest ghost voice in the world and also the wonderful open, free and uninhibited voice of ‘Emily’. AND the voices of birds and much more. The widest range of voices I’ve heard from a narrator. And all seemed real, not forced. I believed it – I believed this could happen.


Editorial Reviews:

Told through the narrative voice of Lena, Eulalie’s shamanistic cat, the fast-paced story comes alive. The approach is fresh and clever; Malcolm R. Campbell manages Lena’s viewpoint seamlessly, adding interest and a unique perspective. Beyond the obvious abilities of this author to weave an enjoyable and engaging tale, I found the book rich with descriptive elements. So many passages caused me to pause and savor. ‘The air…heavy with wood smoke, turpentine, and melancholy.’ ‘ …the Apalachicola National Forest, world of wiregrass and pine, wildflower prairies, and savannahs of grass and small ponds… a maze of unpaved roads, flowing water drawing thirsty men…’ ‘…of the prayers of silk grass and blazing star and butterfly pea, of a brightly colored bottle tree trapping spirits searching for Washerwoman…of the holy woman who opened up the books of Moses and brought down pillars of fire and cloud so that those who were lost could find their way.'” – Rhett DeVane, Tallahassee Democrat

“A simply riveting read from beginning to end, ‘Eulalie and Washerwoman’ is very highly recommended for both personal reading lists and community library General Fiction collections. – Julie Summers, Midwest Book Review

“Narrator Tracie Christian’s spirited style is ideal to portray the fantasy world of conjure woman Eulalie Jenkins and her shamanistic cat, Lena, who live in Florida in the 1950s. Christian captures Eulalie’s shock when she learns that Jewish merchant Lane Walker, who’s always traded fairly with the local African-Americans, is being forced to give up his store to the Liberty Improvement Club, which forbids serving blacks. Lively descriptions of Eulalie reading possum bones and casting spells; tender scenes with her old beau, Willie Tate; and feline Lena’s communication with Eulalie via secret thought speech add to the local atmosphere. S.G.B. © AudioFile 2017


Editorial Review: Narrator R. Scott Adams’s rapid-fire delivery mirrors the speech of fast-talking old-style newshound Jock Stewart. Listeners need all their skills of concentration, or they’ll miss the story’s wit and even the occasional clue. Sea of Fire is a missing racehorse, but the mystery of his whereabouts sometimes seems merely incidental. The story is high on humor but light on plot–a vehicle for sex, cigarettes, steak, and zinfandel. Stewart, a print journalist, is a likable dinosaur in a changing world. Adams’s timing is perfect, but a second listen is recommended to catch what is missed first time around. C.A.T. © AudioFile 2015, Portland, Maine [Published: APRIL 2015]

Happy listening,





AudioFile Review of ‘Jock Stewart and the Missing Sea of Fire’

SOFaudibleI had a good time writing my comedy/satire about an old-time reporter caught in the modern age of journalism. It was even more fun listening to the audio version of the book because the narration worked so well.

Amazon readers “got” the book, seeing it as just as wild and crazy as it really is…

…as in Elise’s comment: “Plenty of memorable characters reside in Jock’s home town, like a perpetually doughnut-eating cop by the name of Kruller. Those kind of little word plays and the intentional use of old clichés will make you laugh out loud. Jock projects himself as a hard core kind of guy, but deep down he’s a softie. ”

AudioFile magazine thinks so, too:

“Narrator R. Scott Adams’s rapid-fire delivery mirrors the speech of fast-talking old-style newshound Jock Stewart. Listeners need all their skills of concentration, or they’ll miss the story’s wit and even the occasional clue. Sea of Fire is a missing racehorse, but the mystery of his whereabouts sometimes seems merely incidental. The story is high on humor but light on plot–a vehicle for sex, cigarettes, steak, and zinfandel. Stewart, a print journalist, is a likable dinosaur in a changing world. Adams’s timing is perfect, but a second listen is recommended to catch what is missed first time around.”




Holiday Sale: ‘Jock Stewart and the Missing Sea of Fire’

“Jock’s dear old daddy always said, ‘Jock, take my word for it. Sloppy people are all going to hell.’ He also said, ‘If a man smells like a whore house, he’s going to hell.’ Smith had two strikes against him today and it wasn’t even noon yet.” – from the novel

SOFcover2014I’m happy to announce that the e-book edition of my dark comedy/satire Jock Stewart and the Missing Sea of Fire has been reduced to 99 cents for the holidays.

This novel about an investigative reporter named Jock Stewart who’s on the trail of a missing racehorse named Sea of Fire can be found on Amazon, Smashwords, Barnes & Noble (Nook) and OmniLit.

You can read preview chapters in multiple formats in the book’s Smashwords listing.

“County Road 3724 closely followed the lay of the land like the arm of a lover or a python crushing its next meal.”

The paperback edition on Amazon has been reduced to $8.95. I expect my publisher will continue the sale through the first of the year.

“But sometimes a girl gets her heart broken. Sure, she may have played the field for more years than was right as rain, but there comes a time—assuming some murderous wretch hasn’t mistaken her for a two-dollar hooker and cut her throat behind the hardware store—when she wants a loving husband and a warm home and kids on the way.”

You can get a little bit of the Jock Stewart flavor by reading “his” occasional news story style posts on my Calamities of the Heart blog:

The “fake news story” posts are all set in Jock’s fictional town of Junction City, Texas and occasionally include some of the crazy and/or inept characters from the novel. If you haven’t met my lovable old curmudgeon with a heart of gold (heh heh), this is a good time to take the plunge.





Dialects Specialist and Actor becomes Storyteller for New Audio Book

R. Scott Adams

R. Scott Adams

Today’s guest is radio and television character and voice actor R. Scott Adams who narrated and produced the new audio edition of my comedy/satire novel Jock Stewart and the Missing Sea of Fire. Scott claims—and I have no reason to doubt him—that he “fell out of the womb a natural mimic and began telling jokes and performing skits almost as soon as he could talk – much to the chagrin of his family.” His Seattle company, offering “The Whole World in One Voice,” is called Dialects on Demand.

Malcolm: I liked your approach to the narration of Jock Stewart and the Missing Sea of Fire because it brought out the attitudes and eccentricities of each of the characters. With your focus on voices and dialects, do you automatically “hear” the characters in novels whenever you read a book for pleasure at the end of a  busy day?

Scott:  Hi, Malcolm, thanks for having me here today to interview. Yes, when I read, I rapidly come up with a voice in my head for each of the recurring characters. I usually don’t have one when I start off a book, but as their personality or primary character traits appear, their voices start coming to me and before I know it, I am hearing each specific voice in my head as I read their dialogue.

I think that ability does make it easier for me to come up with the appropriate voice for characters that I am performing. For instance, your character Coral Snake Smith struck me as someone who has a high SOFaudioopinion of himself and talks down to Jock. From Jock’s point of view, Smith is useful, though kind of disgusting. How to combine that? Give him a somewhat self-righteous, “better than thou” voice, but make it unpleasantly high and nasally.

Malcolm: As Jock would say about Coral Snake Smith, “you got that right!” What led you to add novel narration and production to your work at Dialects on Demand? Was it an intuitive and natural extension of the business or did a muse out of nowhere suddenly present you with the idea?

Scott:  Looking back on it, I consider it the culmination of a number of semi-related events. I love books, and have been a reader since I was a child. I still read voraciously. In my career I worked  in several bookstores, and, among other duties, often wound up reading stories to children in the store and even in local schools as part of the stores’ literacy outreach program. I received a lot of compliments and requests for return performances from the teachers and parents. I found I really enjoyed doing this, and even read mainstream fiction to a couple of my girlfriends, who told me I should do it for a living.

Malcolm: Reading to children is a good way to get into the business. If you can keep their attention, you’re in the groove.

Scott:  Fast forward a few years. I’ve started Dialects on Demand, but it hasn’t occurred to me to focus on reading novels as part of my primary business. A good friend of mine, Laura Holt, told me about a new web site called Audiobook Creation Exchange (ACX), wherein I could audition for any book on the exchange that drew my attention and was seeking a male narrator. I was immediately drawn to this idea, and after looking over the site and seeing how it worked, began seeking a novel that I liked and felt would be a strong match for my repertoire of voices. I laughed out loud at the opening sentence of “Jock Stewart and the Missing Sea of Fire,” so it was a no-brainer to submit my audition for it as soon as I could book time with Ben Shenberger, of Subzero Audio (, where I do all of my recording work. I was really excited when I heard back from Kimberlee Williams at Vanilla Heart Publishing, that I had been selected as the voice for “Jock Stewart.”

Malcolm: As I listened to your narration, I thought of the old-time tradition of storytellers traveling from town to town with entertaining stories. How do you achieve the old-style storyteller-spinning-yarns around a campfire effect in audio book production?

Rehearsing as the host of an imaginary talk show.

Rehearsing as the host of an imaginary talk show.

Scott: Thank you for saying, that, Malcolm. I consider that really high praise. The short answer is that, as I narrate a story, I see it unfolding in my head, and it then falls to me to add the inflection and pacing needed to best convey the feel of each scene, as well as that of the characters.

To add a bit more context, my father was a born story-teller, and I apparently inherited the gift. I’ve already mentioned I was a mimic from the get-go; as it happens, I was a raconteur as well. I began adding sound effects and giving characters individual voices any time I told an anecdote when I was still a little boy. I think it was a natural extension of the mimicking, really – I made up the different voices, so shouldn’t I also include the various sounds that set the scene? This ability improved with age and experience to the point where people would let me know my stories made them feel like they were right there in them as they happened. This, of course further encouraged me, so that now I can’t really imagine telling them any other way.

Malcolm: As a writer who majored in radio/television and then strayed over to the dark side of print, I’m fascinated by the ways a narrator approaches an audio book production. When a new book arrives, how do you approach it? Do you have a series of steps you follow for each book before you step into the recording studio?

Scott: Well, you have to keep in mind that this was actually my first audiobook recording. Some things were obvious, but I’ve also learned a number of things the hard way that I am definitely bringing into my process as I prepare for and narrate future books.

The first thing I do is to read the entire novel. I want to know the whole story so I can pace scenes and know where to place the most tension and suchlike. It’s a little bit like thinking about what the background music of each scene should be in a movie. Most people don’t really consciously notice the music, but take it out and the scene comes across very differently. It’s the same here – if I don’t pace things correctly, the book loses something – in a really severe example, it could even fall flat.

I take notes of any questions I have while I’m reading, so once I’ve read it, I’d really like a chance to ask the author any questions I have, though sometimes speaking with the editor will also work fine. For instance, when Kimberlee confirmed my impression that Jock Stewart took place in a small Southern town, it really helped open up my voice repertoire. I grew up in North Alabama – I can do Southern voices and dialects for days.

Malcolm: Those of us who live in the South notice right away whether an accent purportedly from our neck of the woods is Hollywood phoniness or genuine! Alabama is a good place to learn Southern.

Co-hosting a segment for the 2000 Addy Awards in North Alabama.

Co-hosting a segment for the 2000 Addy Awards in North Alabama.

Scott: Once I know the story, basic pacing, and have answers to my questions, I go back through the entire novel again and literally highlight each character with a different color marker. If there’s a scene with a lot of secondary characters in it, I may even write one or two word notes to remind me which voice I’ve assigned each of those minor characters. That latter is of course not needed with the major characters, but for instance, in that one news room scene in “Jock Stewart,” you had over a half dozen background characters – none of whom, if I recall correctly, showed up in the rest of the book. I definitely needed notes for the voices in that one!

Malcolm: In  the studio, how much do you read at a time before your voice needs a rest?

Scott: Usually 45 minutes to an hour. I can stretch an hour out a little, but sixty minutes is my average for a session.

Malcolm: How is the production of an audio book different from, say, a commercial with characters in it or a television or film narration project?

Scott: Most television and radio commercial spots are done in straight single-voice narrative. If two major characters are speaking, you’re generally working with a second voice actor doing the other voice. Either way, in commercials pacing is always important, but time is the critical factor – the spots are set length duration – often thirty seconds, and you have to fit all the words the client wants to include into that short, specific length of time without sounding rushed.

As to film narration, I have only done business film work, no movies, but again, I use a single voice. There the main thing is, again, pacing, but also speaking with the writer or business manager beforehand to ensure I know what should be emphasized versus what is more of a detail.

Malcolm: If the radio dramas of past years ever returned to popularity, would you be one of the first actors in line for a chance to play a role in a modern interpretation of “The War of the Worlds,” “The Lone Ranger” or “The Shadow”?

Scott: Absolutely! Performing characters in animation and/or radio drama would be my dream job. As to the specific broadcasts you mention, I am a huge fan of pulp stories from the 1930’s and 40’s, so “The Shadow” would be perfect, though I’d thoroughly enjoy doing any of those you listed.

Malcolm: Where can fans of your work find you: commercials, films, plays, other audio books?

DialectsLogoScott: I appreciate your asking, but up until “Jock Stewart,” the vast majority of my work was for private companies or small Southern businesses. I’m looking around for some regional theatre here in the South Seattle area, so hopefully I’ll be in a few plays around Puget Sound in upcoming years, but nothing specific at this time. I definitely hope to be found as the narrator on an increasing number of audiobooks, and people who are interested can always reach me through my Dialects on Demand web site.

Malcolm: Is there anything I should have asked you about voices and dialects?

Scott: I’m hoping to get a chance to explore a wider variety of the various accents and dialects that I do in my future work. I had a lot of fun doing all the different Southern voices and dialects in “Jock Stewart,” but I have a lot of breadth across different accents, so doing a book in, say, a series of British dialects or something like that would be great.

Malcolm: Thank you for stopping by Malcolm’s Round Table.

Seeker for promo 1Malcolm R. Campbell is also the author of the contemporary fantasy novels “The Seeker” and “The Sailor”

Dialects on Demand

Vanilla Heart Publishing

I see puns everywhere

Some writers–and I’m one of them–see double meanings in almost every word. I’ll admit that in “real life,” this annoys people.

I’m real sorry about it, but when somebody innocently asks me what my plans are for hump day, I’m going to reply with a straight face: “Sex, how about you?”

And I’m doubly sorry that on more than one occasion when the conversation drifts to the kinds of security measures one sees on shows like “24” and in movies like “True Lies” and mentions the retinal scans at the entrances to protected areas, I can’t help but pretend I’m hearing “rectal scans.”

Innocent Friend: “The burglaries around the neighborhood are beginning to scare me.
Me: “Sometimes I think we need to post armed guards at our front doors while we’re away from the house.”
Innocent Friend: “Either that or put in a retinal scan device like Jack Bauer has to put up with at CTU.”
Me: “I just can’t see having to moon my front door to get in.”
Innocent Friend: “Oh, hell, that’s retinal scans, not rectal scans!”

People have been known to ask my wife, “Is he like this all the time?” She sighs, knowingly, rolls her eyes, and proclaims: “Worse than you could ever imagine.”

Double meanings give writers a chance to create some wonderfully symbolic images. I loved the broken dugout water fountain in the movie “The Natural.” Before the cantankerous team manager Pop Fisher (Wilford Brimley) allows the aging Roy Hobbs do anything other than sit on the bench, the water fountain is dry as a bone. After he lets Hobbs have an at bat in a game, he walks over and the water flows freely. There are so many meanings in this scene, it’s impossible to talk about them all in one post.

The double meanings in water, light, sunsets, dawns, spring, winter provide exceptional opportunities for symbolism. The writer can say one thing in a literal way, but the reader also notes the double meaning there and gets the message.

I’ve written my share of celestial phrases, but the trickster in me has a lot more fun with hump day and rectal scans. Yes, I know, in the world of words and their meanings, I’m often on the Dark Side. When I hear, for example, that somebody got banged up in a wreck, I really do want to offer all of the empathy and solace of which a human being is capable.

Yet–and I suppose I should be ashamed of this–my thoughts cannot avoid the kind of thinking that went into this short excerpt from my satirical thriller Jock Stewart and the Missing Sea of Fire:

“Billy baby, you’re being soooo formal this morning,” said Delaney.
“I have an official request.”
“Sure,” she said, laughing.
“Does the department have an ID on the individual who stole Marcus’s truck?”
“Yeah, Billy baby, it was one of Clinton’s boys.”
“Which one?”
“The ugly one.”
“That figures. Where’s he now?”
“Still at the ER, probably. He was pretty banged up.”
“I heard the truck was a mess.”
“No, it wasn’t from the wreck; it was from Darla,” said Norma. “She’s pretty thorough when she has sex with a guy.”
“My goodness.”

Truth be told, I know I can’t get away with using some of the puns I think up, so my solution was to let my hard-boiled investigative reporter say them. Both my wife and I thought the novel would get all the puns out of my system and allow us to lead normal, pun-free lives.

Unfortunately not.


P.S. You can find the e-book version of Jock Stewart and the Missing Sea of Fire in multiple formats on Smashwords for only $5.99 and begin suffering immediately the kinds of slings and arrows my friends put up with on a daily basis.

Jock learns Race Ready not meant for real men

from Jock Stewart and the Missing Sea of Fire, a comedy/thriller about horses, horse thieves, girl friends and murderers. In the following excerpt, he’s on the trail of whoever stole Mayor Clark Trail’s race horse Sea of Fire.

Coral Snake Smith needed two omelets to loosen his tongue. For an informed source who made his living trading information for food, one might think Smith would have picked up some table manners along with the details of everyone else’s life. Jock drank half a cup of cold, gritty coffee and tried not to watch. Smith’s pig-in-a-trough noise was bad enough.

Jock’s dear old daddy always said, “Jock, take my word for it. Sloppy people are all going to hell.” He also said, “If a man smells like a whore house, he’s going to hell.” Smith had two strikes against him today and it wasn’t even noon yet.

“What did Lucinda Trail have to say?” asked Jock while Smith was licking his plate like an all day sucker.

Smith almost dropped the plate.

“Are your people following me around?”

Jock shrugged. “That, plus you’re wearing her perfume.”

“We were together, but not in the Biblical sense,” said Smith, and he grinned like it was something he spent a fair amount of time contemplating. “A man can do worse.”

“Word is, Clark has.”

Smith did a spit take with the remains of his coffee.

“So has your boss, but none of this is what Lucinda asked me about. She wanted to know why Monique Starnes bought two sacks of Race Ready.”

“What is that, some kind of Viagra knockoff?” asked Jock, recalling that while his Scotch tasted funny last night his performance had been better than usual.

Smith sat there with his mouth open, for once empty of anything approaching food. He looked like he’d seen a dunce.

“Race Ready is a brand of horse feed,” Smith said, with a fair amount of exasperation and condescension. “Martin and Brian Bentley over at the seed and feed stock it especially for Clark Trail. A new employee who didn’t know the feed had been set aside for Sea of Fire sold one sack to Ms. Starnes at seven AM and another sack at seven thirty-two AM. Brian called Lucinda and apologized for being out of stock.”

Since the waitress had temporarily lost interest in her job, Jock went to her station, selected a pot of coffee with the least amount of sludge in the bottom, and refilled Smith’s cup as well as his own. Doing this gave him time to collect his thoughts such as they were. Out of the universe of probabilities, one begged him to allow it to come to mind. But he wasn’t ready to think that way. So Jock temporarily dodged that line of thought by considering why Lucinda came to the Purple Platter.

“What was a woman like Lucinda doing in a place like this?”

“We keep in touch on a daily basis,” said Smith. “She facilitates that by sitting where you’re sitting now. She’s not exactly eye candy, but she trumps your sourpuss look without having to bat an eyelash or shove a shoe up a man’s trouser leg under the table.”


So far, Smith had slung four sugar cubes into his cup. Now, he seemed to be studying the sugar bowl as though, what with the rain and all, Monday was turning into a five-cube day. He tasted his coffee, and then he dropped in another cube.

“Lucinda came in this morning dressed to the nines even though it was only eight thirty. Her face was blanched out more than her hair. She was disappointed when she learned that my network of quasi-ubiquitous sources knew nothing about the two sacks of Race Ready.”

“You’re not a seed and feed kind of guy,” observed Jock.


Copyright (c) 2009 by Malcolm R. Campbell


An interview with Smoky Trudeau, author of “Observations of an Earth Mage.”

Have Fun and Lose Weight

Riding in Christmas Parade

The feds won’t let me promise you anything, but let’s just say that anyone reading my comedy/thriller novel Jock Stewart and the Missing Sea of Fire might just laugh their butt off.

Now, for some people, that’s going to be a hell of a lot of weight lost in only 220 pages for only $11.86! The price is lower on Kindle.

So, it’s win/lose for everyone.

Really Brief Excerpt

Jock’s dear old daddy always said, “Jock, take my word for it. Sloppy people are all going to hell.” He also said, “If a man smells like a whore house, he’s going to hell.” Smith had two strikes against him today and it wasn’t even noon yet.

“What did Lucinda Trail have to say?” asked Jock while Smith was licking his plate like an all day sucker.

Smith almost dropped the plate.

“Are your people following me around?”

Jock shrugged. “That, plus you’re wearing her perfume.”

It was an honor being among the local authors serving as grand marshals in this year’s Christmas parade in Jefferson, Georgia. The theme was “A Storybook Christmas.” Each of the authors tossed handfuls of candy to the kids along the 40-minute route. I’m shown here in the photograph with my wife, Lesa.