Skip to content

Posts tagged ‘Jock Stewart’

Speaking of covers again

I’m a long-time fan of film noir and had the genre in mind when I wrote my upcoming novel Special Investigative Reporter. A noir feature film is usually a fairly dark–and an often hopeless–kind of movie. It’s usually in black and white, features a lot of blunt, voice-over narration, and portrays cops and detectives trying to solve cases in foreboding environments.

Special Investigative Reporter isn’t a noir novel. It’s a mix of comedy, satire, and corruption. Yet, once I got my rights to the novel back from the publisher that released the original edition under another title, I thought we needed a stronger cover. I suggested to my publisher, Thomas-Jacob, that a big-city image might work. Melinda Clayton, who manages Thomas-Jacob and who writes darker novels than I do, designed a beautiful cover.

I like the city-scape scene, the word “bar” in the picture, and the stark, noir-film-like rendering of the title. The individual on the cover–who’s my protagonist Jock Stewart–looks like he could be a detective or newspaperman out of the film noir era. Melinda once told me that some of Jock Stewart’s lines reminded her of Humphrey Bogart. She has a good ear. I was thinking of the kind of voice-over narration he would do in such movies as “Dark Passage,” “Dead Reckoning,” and “Key Largo.” (If you like noir films and have Turner Classic Movies on your satellite or cable menu, look for Noir Alley. It features noir films–except in August–and I watch it like a religion.)

My protagonist Jock Stewart, who’s been a reporter since the days of letterpress, is old fashioned. He would despise the kind of “journalism” we see on the 24/7 news sites. This novel’s satire pokes fun at those kinds of sites and reminds us that journalism used to be about reporting the facts and not about displaying the reporter’s (or anchor’s) opinion about those facts.

I’ve been teasing you for a while about this upcoming novel, but we’re rather in a holding pattern waiting for Ingram to send us the proof copy of the hardcover edition. Meanwhile, I’ve been enjoying looking at Melinda’s cover.

Malcolm

 

 

Advertisements

EPA to Implement Cistern Plan to Solve Rising Seas Problems

Washington, D.C., July 25, 2019, Star-Gazer News Service–The Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) will soon begin placing rows of used crude oil storage tanks, each capable of holding 16 million gallons of liquid, in the open spaces at solar farms, wind farms, abandoned military bases, and Alien holding cells at Area 51. These tanks will be linked to a vast pumping station and pipeline network that will extract seawater from the oceans to counteract rising sea levels.

At this morning’s press conference, EPA Deputy Manager of Oceans, Leilani Moana reported that while the agency has not reversed its position about the unreality of climate change and related rising sea levels, it recognizes that small, short term climate anomalies are causing a public panic about the future of states like Hawai’i and Florida.

“Since the EPA feels your pain,” Moana said, “our top scientists and engineers  have devised a system of pumping stations, pipelines, and aqueducts to remove water from coastal areas and store it inland until it can be safely released.”

Some of the pumping stations would be tied into desalinization plants that would reduce the pressure on river systems for potable freshwater during times of drought.

According to a NASA white paper, launching water into the sun on Saturn V rockets would be cost-prohibitive even though some experts said such a program would cool the sun slightly, allowing Arctic glaciers to reform to help stabilize sea levels.

“The world’s excess heat is primarily caused by heated arguments about climate change that are turning the entire issue into a self-fulfilling prophecy,” Moana said. She added that groups claiming that the weight of the water in the cisterns would push the U.S. deeper into the ocean are unfounded.

Scientists told reporters this morning that the water held in the cisterns would always remain available to be pumped back into the oceans should weather anomalies ever decrease sea levels to the point where cruise ships were scraping bottom trying to get in and out of popular tourist destination ports.

“The Earth’s water supply is a closed system,” said EPA Chief Oceanographer Porter “Po” Seidon. “The water we have is all the water we have. All we’re doing is improving upon the Creator’s design to better manage that water in times of weird high temperatures or weird low temperatures.”

“We think we’ll have the system up and running before we lose southern Florida,” Moana said.

Story filed by Jock Stewart, Special Investigative Reporter

 

 

 

About ready to re-release an out-of-print book

When I left my previous publisher to become part of Thomas-Jacob Publishing (T-J) in Florida, many of my titles went out of print. I have self-published some of them because I didn’t want to dump a box of titles on T-J. Some of those I have self-published have come out under new names. Some, like The Sun Singer (self-published) and Sarabande (T-J) kept their original titles.

Over the past several weeks, I’ve been converting a PDF copy of Jock Stewart and the Missing Sea of Fire into a DOCX copy of the newly titled Special Investigative Reporter.  The formatting has been tedious since the conversion, using Acrobat, produced a Word file with weird spaces and strange formatting in it.

I think the 2009 novel is still valid inasmuch as it hits on the growing tendency for news sites to mix opinion with facts or, in some cases, to present opinion instead of facts. So, I hope the novel will still be considered relevant by today’s readers.

As a journalism school graduate and former college journalism instructor, I become somewhat irate when an interviewer asks a guest a question and then proceeds to interrupt him/her by doing most of the talking. I can cite examples, but it’s probably safer not to do that. I don’t see that as journalism or even fairly presented opinion.

I grew up in a journalism environment. My father was a journalism textbook author, the dean of a college school of journalism, and active in a variety of press institutes. What I liked best in those days was hearing the stories of veteran journalists either at our house or the journalism school. They captured my imagination. So, I went to journalism school at the University of Colorado and Syracuse University as well as a summer journalism institute at Indiana University.

That means, there’s a lot of info available for a satirical newspaper reporter novel. I’m not sure my late father would approve because Special Investigative Reporter is a bit risque and presumes that many old-style reporters rank too much. My uncle, who was a reporter, might have liked booze a little too much–to my father’s chagrin. So do I, actually.

So, in spite of the tedious process of fixing the PDF-to-DOCX conversion of the novel’s file, I’ve had fun re-visiting a book that originally came out in 2009. I’ll let you know when the new edition come out. I hope you like it.

Malcolm

 

 

Why do old posts suddenly catch a lot of people’s attention?

When I log on to my WordPress dashboard, I see how things are going. Quite often, posts I think will have traction aren’t noticed while silly throw-away posts attract hundreds of readers.

Sometimes, I do a Google search to see if the subject of an old post that suddenly has hundreds of hits has been in the news. This time, it’s my 2011 post Many Glacier Hotel 1963, where the fantasy began. Why are people suddenly reading this old post?

  • I check the news to see if the hotel burnt down, had a string of murders in the basement, or got sued for not having an elevator in the annex.
  • As far as I can see from scanning Amazon, no new books have come out about the hotel that might cause people to put it into their search engines for more information.
  • President Trump isn’t staying there, nor has he unleashed a Tweet Storm about the place.
  • My publisher hasn’t made a surprise announcement to the press that I’m going to be there to talk about my two novels set in the historic structure.

So, I’ve got nothing. If any of you who went there see this post, I would like to know why you went there.

This is very a perplexing thing for a blogger. Why people read what they read. Lately, I saw that a lot of people arrived on my blog after a search for subject XYZ. So, I wrote a post about XYZ. Nobody read it even though my search terms index kept showing me that people were looking for more information about it.

Sometimes I think the Feds are doing this to make me go crazy to they can put me in a home, a One Flew Over the Cukoo’s Nest kind of home. Why would they do that, you wonder. My guess is that it’s because my alter ego Jock Stewart has contributed a lot of guest posts on this blog that made fun of the Feds. (Lately, the real news has become so crazy that Stewart couldn’t think of any way to satirize it.)

Okay, let’s pretend the Feds aren’t going it. Maybe some of you are doing it. You probably have a ringleader, some tough guy or badass chick from Chicago who calls the shots. Why would s/he do this? Kicks? Too much free time? A dislike of bloggers? Nurse Ratched withholds their meds unless they click on old blogs of mine to make me wonder why they’re clicking on old blogs of mine.

I’m sure there are other possibilities. The Russians hacked into my blog or maybe the Mafia did it. Or, possibly aliens from a place where no one has gone before.

Like those cop shows where a crime is committed in the middle of a crowded mall where nobody saw nothin’, I strongly suspect nobody knows why everyone’s headed out to that old Many Glacier Hotel post.

Okay, I can play that game, too, because my hacker software knows who you are and what you did. <g>

Malcolm

Malcolm R. Campbell is the author of fantasy and magical realism novels which, after youve read this post, shouldn’t surprise you.

Sunday potpourri (not to be confused with SPAM)

I’m not quite sure how to spend my time this weekend because it’s usually raining. But this weekend it isn’t, even though rain was predicted.  I blame both weather.com and accuweather.com for my feelings of chaos.

  1. According to USA Today, J. J. Rowling will release her fourth Cormoran Strike mystery this fall. She told USA Today she could easily write ten more. I don’t understand writers who have that many story ideas backed up inside their heads. But, I’m happy for her, I promise. I like the series for the same reason I liked the available detective stories that were popular when I was growing up. That is, they were Agatha Christie-style books in which (usually) one guy was trying to solve a crime rather than some high-tech firm with all kinds of illegal hacking software.
  2. Yesterday, the LeafFilter people were out here installing coverings on our gutters. They took pictures of the gutters before they cleaned them out. What a mess. We had flip screens at the old house, but stuff got under them and the wind blew them up and warped them in all kinds of ways to they wouldn’t cover the gutters properly anymore. I hope this system works. It didn’t help my mood on Saturday to have all the noise, but then I was in a bad mood already when Serena Williams lost her match in the Wimbledon final. So now, we’re protected against leaves.
  3. My hearing is crap and even with my Audibel hearing aids, I have a lot of trouble hearing human speech and need to use the closed captioning when I watch TV. So now I’m looking for something better. If you have hearing aids, are you happy with them? Can you hear your spouse asking you to take out the garbage or extinguish the stove-top grease fire? If so, tell me your stories. I looked at the online reviews and found that one site said brand XYZ was the best and then saw it had a lot of bad customer reviews. As always, I wonder if can I trust those, or is it simply that the people who are ticked off are the only ones who post anything?
  4. Maybe it’s just me, but seeing faux pas news stories and rants about Trump not bowing to the Queen of England tick me off. They are both heads of state and neither one should bow to the other. Yes, I know, the Queen is an old lady with 100000 years of tradition behind her, but we fought a war about bowing to the English monarch and I think we won it and no longer owe that monarch our allegiance. A friendly smile ought to be enough. (End of rant.)
  5. I’m starting to wish my publisher and I had scheduled the release date for Lena a little sooner than August 1. We had some trouble with the printing of the cover, and decided not to rush the release for fear something else would go wrong. (In this business, one has to assume that something will always go wrong.) However, now that the cover is squared away, I’m feeling a bit at loose ends waiting for the release date.
  6. I would like to start writing more “Jock Stewart” satire, but the real news is so crazy it’s hard to write anything outlandish. That is, reality is already enough of a satire about the left vs. right situation, so it’s hard to make up something worse.

–Malcolm

I’m finding satire harder to write these days

“We’re not a respectable network. We’re a whorehouse network, and we have to take whatever we can get.” – “Network.” 1976

I’ve been writing satirical news stories since the Nixon administration, poking fun at government stupidities that seemed so inane that the public should have run for the hills, escaped over the border into Canada, or gone flat nuts.

My wife and I watched “Network” a few nights ago. We don’t think it works now as well as it did when was released because in our view, all of the networks are whorehouse networks. That is to say, they all seem biased for or against President Trump.

I introduced my old-style reporter character Jock Stewart in my in 2011 in Jock Stewart and the Missing Sea of Fire after using the character in blogs as my alter-ego for poking fun at the major political parties for years.  “He” has appeared on this and other blogs since then as well as in several Kindle books of short stories.

The problem seems to be this: everything I read in the national news already seems to be satire. At some point, Peter Sellers and/or Oscar Wilde took over the world and everything has gone crazy. Since both of them are dead, you can see that the problem must be tangled up with karma and reincarnation.

The challenge for those of us who enjoy writing satire is this: People don’t think it’s funny because they think it’s true.

The Howard Beale character in “Network” said: “So, you listen to me. Listen to me! Television is not the truth. Television’s a god-damned amusement park. Television is a circus, a carnival, a traveling troupe of acrobats, storytellers, dancers, singers, jugglers, sideshow freaks, lion tamers, and football players. We’re in the boredom-killing business. So if you want the Truth, go to God! Go to your gurus.” If the movie were made today, Beale would include the Internet.

Yes, I know, “Saturday Night Live” and “The Onion” are still out there. But when I see them, they look like the real news, the stuff we’ve been told is fake news. Gosh, when real journalism is in the toilet, satirists have no place to go. In order to save satire, we first have to return journalism to the world of objectivity. Easier said than done.

But if we lose satire as an art form, civilization is done for.

Malcolm

 

Congress Imposes Word Limits on Members

Washington, D.C. January 19, 2018, Star-Gazer News Service–Angry about the looming government shutdown, Congress passed a wordy new law that imposed strict limits on the number of words Representatives and Senators are allowed to use each year.

Called the “Sit Down and Shut the Hell Up Law” by supporters, the bill restricts all members of Congress to 10,000 words per year, with 5,000-word bonuses for each co-sponsored bill that actually becomes a law instead of getting “bogged down in squabbling.”

“This is a results-oriented law,” said Senator John Doe (Whig-Florida), “because it forces people who are not popes to stop pontificating at taxpayer expense.”

According to informed sources, Congress passed the legislation in a snit over years of gridlock and now they’re stuck with it.

“Most Senators are playing a ‘mum’s the word’ game with reporters because the new law was unclear about which words count and which don’t count in the annual tallies,” said John Doe’s chief of staff Sally Doe since her words are not limited by the law.

A whitepaper released by Acme, a Washington, D. C. think tank that emerged after ten years of thoughtlessness, said that a longitudinal study of lawmakers’ words and deeds showed that most Senators and Representatives “obfuscated the issues by talking out of both sides of their mouths at the same time.”

“The general public is paying high salaries with lavish benefits packages to these clowns (AKA Senators and Representatives) to help govern the nation, not to talk about governing the nation,” said Acme CEO Bill Smith. “We will have a safer, more-effectively managed country by issuing sticks and stones to lawmakers rather than providing a forum for endless ‘pick a little, talk a little’ debate.”

Word-counts will be posted daily in the Congressional Record, including the sources of the words, that is, speeches on the floor, committee debates, quotes given to reporters, leaks of all kinds, and notes scribbled on bar napkins.

Story by Jock Stewart, Special Investigative Reporter

 

 

 

New Year, New Look, New URL

For the new year, I’ve changed the WordPress Theme for this blog’s look and feel as well as the URL:  https://malcolmsroundtable.com/

I used the previous theme for quite a few years and was especially fond of it. Who knows, maybe I’ll return to it some day. But for now, a clean slate for 2018.

The picture is all about magic, though I can’t promise my novels or blog posts will float in the air in a cloud of blue smoke. Being more consistent than usual, I’m using the same picture here as I do on my Conjure Woman’s Cat website.

The magic on this blog comes from my novels, at present the Florida Folk Magic series published by Thomas-Jacob Publishing in Florida. Already released are Conjure Woman’s Cat and Eulalie and Washerwoman. I’ve promised my publisher the third book in the series by Spring.

You’ll also find magic in posts here that relate to life itself, the idea being that we’re all on a hero’s journey or a heroine’s journey in an attempt to become the best that we can be. Life transforms us. There’s a synchronicity to it that tends to put in our path the very things we need whether they’re experiences, people, epiphanies about the cosmos, the environment and our stewardship of it, or even books, music and songs.

As an author, I can’t help but talk about books, writing techniques, and publishing. Sometimes you’ll find a review of a book I enjoyed, or a tip about making stories and novels better, or an occasional feature called “Book Bits” that lists links to reviews, author interviews, and publishing news.

While I’ll often mention other books and authors from Thomas-Jacob Publishing, I don’t review my colleague’s books here or on Amazon or GoodReads because doing so just doesn’t look right. They don’t review my books either. But all of us talk a lot about the books we like for the same reason a NASCAR driver talks about a new engine: we can’t help it.

One thing you won’t find here very often is politics because, as I see on the news and on Facebook, that’s hard to discuss without getting into a shouting match. I don’t think those shouting matches make things better. Nonetheless, my old-school reporter character Jock Stewart (from my novel Jock Stewart and the Missing Sea of Fire) will occasionally contribute a satirical news story post about real or imagined events that probably have political overtones. (Authors really don’t have as much control over their characters as readers believe, so I’m innocent here when Jock writes what he writes.)

I really don’t think the New Year gives us a clean slate any more than any other day, but this seemed like a good moment for some shameless self-promotion about this blog and its new look. As always, I appreciate all of you who stop by and read my posts and hope that your journey through 2018 is everything you desire.

–Malcolm

 

 

Go to hell and have a nice trip

Mama always said, “If you’re going to insult somebody, do it with a smile on your face.” (Mama always talked in bold face.)

That admonition has served me well for years.

Daddy always said, “You can take the sting out of profanity by putting it in quotes.”

As I noticed on Facebook, the Internet’s great forum for esoteric and learned debate, there’s a world of difference between saying, Bob, you’re really screwed up AND Bob, you’re really “screwed up.”

People think you love them when you add a smile and quotation marks even if you have to raise your hands and extend two fingers on each. Extending one finger on each doesn’t smooth things over.

I miss this magazine because it taught me everything I needed to know.

People become used to humorous insults. That’s why Don Rickles got so many laughs. When he made fun of people, they thought he loved them. Most of my friends think of me as “Mister Warmth.” They knew I grew up with the commandment, “Mama don’t allow no swearing ’round here.” So, when I tell them to go to hell, they think it’s satire or love, sweet love.

It takes many years of practice to get people to laugh when you’re dead serious about the “sanity” of their families, the “beauty” of their daughters, the “honor” of their sons, and the “stunning” breakfast of burnt grits they prepared for you.

It’s become clear that a well-publicized “wacky” belief system goes a long way in getting away with stuff. The people who know I believe in reincarnation and not hell, think that when I say “Go to hell,” I’m talking about Michigan.

Actress Barbara Stanwyck purportedly told Fred MacMurray that the secret of acting is truthfulness. “Just be truthful – and if you can fake that, you’ve got it made.” Faked sincerity covers almost as many “sins” as a “wacky” belief system. If you sound sincere, people want to go to hell and want to be screwed up.

Sometimes when people learn that I’m a writer (which is just as handy as a “wacky” belief system), they say, “OMG, will you put me in your book?”

My response is usually something like, “You’re already in my book. I just changed your name to keep your spouse from divorcing you.” 

“Aw, shucks,” they say, genuinely proud of themselves.

My friends variously think that I’m joking, being wacky, being satirical, and being a writer even when I’m not. Their kind thoughts in such matters have kept me from having to censor myself very often.

–Malcolm

I’m a lot more like my Jock Stewart character in “Jock Stewart and the Missing Sea of Fire” than most people suspect!

 

Cool, an error screen instead of a book piracy listing

After going through several e-mail addresses, my persistent publisher (Thomas-Jacob) has gotten a pirated copy of my novel Eulalie and Washerwoman removed from one of those sign-up for free downloads sites. We have no idea how they got a PDF file: we’ve never released the book in that format. Did they create it from the Kindle edition, use conjure, break into my house while I was having a late-afternoon glass of wine? We may never know. But, the error screen is a welcome sight when we click on the link.

Florida Folk Magic Stories: Speaking of conjure, your response to Eulalie and Washerwoman and Conjure Woman’s Cat has been wonderful. Thanks for your support. I said I wasn’t going to write another conjure book because it was time to move on. But people kept asking when I was going to have it ready. Er, well, I dunno, maybe later.

Novel in Progress: Okay, I’ve changed my mind and have gotten started on the third book which will be called Lena. I know how it begins: things don’t look good for Eulalie. I have no idea how it ends. Finding out is just as much fun for an author as it is for a reader.

Review: My colleagues and I at Thomas-Jacob Publishing don’t review each other’s books on our blogs, Amazon or GoodReads because, quite frankly, it wouldn’t look good. I think it’s okay for me to include the link of a review of one of those books written by an impartial (and sometimes, hard to please) reviewer: Big Al’s Books & Pals.

Big Al didn’t see the ending coming. I have to admit it: neither did I.

Satire: For those of you who missed the last post, it’s another one of my “Jock Stewart” satires: Feds Bust Sneezeweed Resisistance Movement Scam. The headline alone tells you this is solid news reporting.

For Writers: For actual solid news reporting, check out Melinda Clayton’s How to Set Up an eBook Ad with Amazon Marketing Services at IndiesUnlimited. If you’ve looked into Amazon book ads and found that the setup resembles a Greek tragedy written in Greek, this handy post will help your sort it out.

–Malcolm