A cat, a paperback, and a pillow

Let’s get this out of the way first: I’m older than most of you.

Bookwise, this means that I grew up reading hardbacks and paperbacks and still prefer them to Nooks, Kindles, and whatever else people use to read off the screen.

As 2018 ended, I tallied up the number of copies sold for Conjure Woman’s Cat, Eulalie and Washerwoman, and Lena. (Actually, my publisher did this.) Anyhow, what continues to surprise me is that for all of these books, the paperback editions represent a very small percentage of total sales.

I have Kindle for PC, so I do read books off the screen. However, I spend the entire day looking at a screen, so the last thing I want to do when I relax with an interesting book at the end of the day is read it off the screen. I buy paperbacks when I can and hardbacks when I can’t wait for the paperback edition to come out. Every night before I go to sleep, I prop up in bed with a calico cat named Katy, a paperback book (currently, Tom Clancy’s Dark Zone) and a comfy pillow. The ambiance would be totally spoilt with a Kindle or a Nook.

Yet, even though I’m older than most of you, I don’t feel that out of touch. I have this blog, a Facebook account, and can be found on Twitter. So, I’m not a 1950s person trying to navigate the new millennium. That means, I thought more people would be reading paperback and hardbacks because those are real books. Yes, I know, they cost more, but you really never own the books, do you? They’re saved on Amazon and you’re just accessing them.

If Amazon were to crash and burn, which might not be a bad thing, all of my physical books would still be on the shelves in my office the next day. I have no clue where all my Kindle copies would be. I suspect the answer is “nowhere.”

Plus, if you have a cat next to you in bed, that cat doesn’t want to compete with a Kindle, a tablet, or any other kind of electronics because those cat ears pick up the sounds from the unit, including the demons hard-coded in the software, and they’re (those sounds) not soporific in spite of my white noise machine that covers up the outside world.

So, my advice–not that you’ve listened in the past–is keep the cat, keep the pillow, and ditch the e-book. Yes, I know, there will be a period of withdrawal as you wean yourself from movies and books watched/read off of cell phones. But once you succeed, you’ll feel better about yourself and your reading habits. Seriously, you don’t want to be hooked into the Internet like just another computer, do you?

The other day, I saw an article bemoaning the fact that nobody fixes stuff anymore when it breaks. They just replace it.  So, what happens to your Nook or Kindle when it breaks? You throw it in the trash since recycling centers seldom take electronics. Bad for the Earth, right? When a physical book “breaks,” we can either throw it in the fireplace (which somehow seems wrong) or we can throw it out with the sure and certain knowledge it’s biodegradable.

The bottom line is this: Kindles and Nooks have zero reading ambiance when you’re propped up in bed with your calico cat, but worse yet, they’re not Earth-friendly. Personally, I hope the Earth stays around for a while, so I read paperbacks and hardbacks and see that as part of my bit for humanity. No, it’s not the same as discovering a cure for cancer or a cost-effective way of getting all the plastic out of the oceans, but it’s a step in the right direction.

Malcolm

Malcolm R. Campbell is the author of three folk magic novels set in the Florida Panhandle during the Jim Crow Era in which a conjure woman named Eulalie and a cat named Lena fight the evils of the day

 

 

 

 

Getting Started with KDP, Smashwords, and CreateSpace

“A note before we begin: All of the sites request some of the same information, so you will need to have it handy. They will ask for your name, your address, your email address, the password(s) you want to use, and some very basic financial information: your Social Security number for US residents, and the routing number and account number for the bank where you want them to deposit your royalties. And okay, another note – each will have different requirements for

Don’t be afraid. We’re here to help.

book covers, so make sure to read those on the respective sites.”

Source: Indie Author 101: How to Get Started with KDP, Smashwords, and CreateSpace – Indies Unlimited”

Good information here for authors who are just starting out in the often-confusing world of self-publishing.

Kindle, CreateSpace, and Smashwords are basic to your sucess.

–Malcolm

My novels and short stories are primarily released by Thomas-Jacob Publishing. However, with information such as Lynne Canwell discusses in the post, I send some of my work directly to Kindle.

Hex Free (mostly) Halloween Book Sale

Yes, you can go door to door begging for free candy and still take advantage of my 99% Hex Free Halloween Book Sale.

hexfreeSale dates: 10/28/16 through 10/31/16

Free Books: Waking Plain, Dream of Crows, At Sea, Willing Spirits

The Stories:

  • Waking Plain is a story about a sleeping prince who is so plain nobody wants to kiss him and wake him up. Bummer.
  • Dream of Crows is a story about a poor slob who’s being led into an early grave. Warning: it just might be you.
  • At Sea is a novel about a conscientious objector serving on an aircraft carrier during the Vietnam War. As it turns out, friends and family are more dangerous than the Viet Cong.
  • Willing Spirits is a story about a girl who waited to the last minute to do her book report and asks the dead author for help. You know before you start reading that this can’t be good.

Warranty: In spite of modern technology no reputable author can guarantee that his or her books are 100% hex free. We do our best to keep hidden hexes and subliminal messages out of our books. But a small percentage of you might fall under a spell that will cause you to buy more of our books and/or steal your children’s Halloween candy.

Malcolm

 

The gold in old manuscripts

Those of us who aren’t poets occasionally think up interesting couplets and quatrains that never go anywhere because the rest of the poem never comes together. Maybe professional poets also have this problem.

manuscriptWhat’s more likely for novelists is writing about a wonderful character or an exciting event in novel manuscript that never gels as a whole. Perhaps we write the entire novel, but see that it doesn’t quite work. Unlike the couplet that comes out of the blue without a poem to go with it, the pure gold scenes in unfinished or unsubmitted novels might not have originally caught our attention when we viewed them as part of a larger work.

Old manuscripts gather dust if we printed them out or were often saved in earlier versions of Word and filed away in an archive with a directory (folder) name like “OldStuff” or “Archive.”

If you’re in between major projects–or stuck in your current work in progress–reading through those old manuscripts might be the jolt you need to throw off your temporary writer’s block; or just maybe one of your favorite scenes with a memorable character can be pulled out of the “OldStuff” bin and turned into a short story.

Odds are, the scene will require rewriting so that it stands on its own as a short story with a beginning, middle and end rather than being a wandering slice of life that disappoints readers. Your options are unlimited because the scene you choose no longer has to fit into the novel you extract it from.

goldmineI’m thinking of this idea because I have some older books that are out of print that include a few scenes I happen to like a lot. Fixing them up was a lot more fun than I expected. Characters I liked when I wrote the original, suddenly emerged more fully formed in the revision. If they were evil, they became really evil in the short story. Or, if they were funny, they turned into first class hoots.

We often waste time trying to resurrect old novels that we already know are hopeless messes–good practice works, perhaps. But when we find a scene we can upload as a great Kindle short story, it’s like going into an abandoned mine and finding a shining nugget that got overlooked the last time anyone was there.

–Malcolm

KIndle cover 200x300(1)Malcolm R. Campbell is the author of “Conjure Woman’s Cat,” a 1950s-era story about granny vs. the KKK that will be 99¢ on Kindle February 4, 2016.

Learn more at: http://www.conjurewomanscat.com/

‘Willing Spirits’ – Look, it’s free for three days

What a better way to kick off 2016: a free ghost story. My Kindle short story “Willing Spirits” is free on Amazon January 2-4, 2016.

willingspiritskindlecoverPicture this: you’re a high school student living in a drafty old house in St. Louis during a winter snow story. The power goes out. You light a candle in hopes that its feeble, flickering light will be enough. You have a book report to finish and it’s due tomorrow.

The author of the book is dead. She used to be famous, a spirit from another time and place who came to St. Louis years ago to be contacted by Ouija board and trance to give readings and write a few critically acclaimed books that swept the country by storm.

Now there’s a ghostly presence in your cold bedroom. It doesn’t take you long to figure out why she is or that her help may be a mixed blessing.

I hope you enjoy the book.

–Malcolm

ouijabboardP.S. The St. Louis ghost in this short story is real. To learn more about Patience Worth, click here. If you know where to look, you can drive by the house where she appeared to medium Pearl Curran. Now, perhaps, she has returned–if you believe ghost stories.

 

Review: ‘Good-Bye, Emily Dickinson’

Good-Bye, Emily DickinsonGood-Bye, Emily Dickinson by Smoky Trudeau Zeidel
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

She’s homeless and she believes she’s Emily Dickinson’s daughter. She observes the world, writes poems wherever she parks her shopping cart of notebooks and other treasures. She ponders the fate of great artists who didn’t get any respect until after they were dead. But, she’s patient (though some say she should be a patient until she gets her mind right).

Smoky Trudeau Zeidel (“The Cabin” 2008) tells a story that’s born in a respected teacher’s English class and played out on the hot streets between the church, the Sinclair service station and the underpass. She—real or imagined daughter of the long-gone Emily—truly understands that “the mere sense of living is joy enough.”

View all my reviews