Saturday Natterings: Yard work, Diagon Alley, NPR poetry, and Melinda

A selection of stuff for the blog today because my bad cold makes me too tired to write an exciting post. However, we will be speaking of magic again soon.

  1. Parked in the garage this week.

    The yard is out of control. If you have a yard, you know what this means. My wife and I planned to rein in the unruly grass and encroaching weeds even though we hadn’t yet recovered from our one-week trip with family to Disney World and Universal Studios. But then it rained. Dang, we had to postpone our yard work. Several days ago, somebody didn’t secure the pasture gate and we found our yard full of cattle. Not the first time this has happened. They ate some of the grass before we chased them back into the pasture.

  2. While in the Orlando area, I was lucky to finally meet
    Melinda Clayton of Thomas-Jacob Publishing.

    my publisher whom I’d worked with on line for quite a while but had never met in real life. Great times at a cool restaurant in Sanford. Her husband, my wife, my brother and my brother’s wife were there as well.

  3. Speaking of my publisher, Melinda will be happy to know that I finally ran out of excuses and have added new scenes to Lena, the upcoming third book in my Florida Folk Magic Series. The series begins with Conjure Woman’s Cat.
  4. NPR wants you to fill Twitter with “your haikus, tankas, limericks and the nonsensical, and we’ll feature some of our favorite bite-sized verses online and on the air.” Learn more here.
  5. FROM MY FACEBOOK AUTHOR’S PAGE: Napoleon Hill’s statement that “Whatever The Mind Can Conceive And Believe, The Mind Can Achieve” separates, I think, those who succeed from those
    Original cover. The 1902 book is still in print.

    who don’t–this depends on how one defines “succeed.” Or, as James Allen wrote many hears ago, “You are today where your thoughts have brought you; you will be tomorrow where your thoughts take you.” Everything I know about magic can be based upon these and similar statements. Whether one is talking about magic or the processes of daily living, many people limit these statements because they either don’t see that people are more powerful than they know or because both statements force a person to acknowledge his/her responsibility for his/her “lot in life.”

  6. Photo from the trip: Diagon Alley at Universal Studios. There were long lines, of course, but it was fun seeing this re-creation as well as my two granddaughters’ reaction to it. They each bought an interactive wand which, if you used it just right, made things happen in many of the store windows.

Have a good week.

–Malcolm

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Subscribe to our newsletter and receive a free book

Thomas-Jacob Publishing is offering free copies of Melinda Clayton’s novel Making Amends to those who sign-up for our newsletter via the InstaFreebie site. This offer is good through the end of this month.

Just enter you name and e-mail address, and then choose the file type you want: MOBI, EPUB, or PDF.

We promise not to send you a deluge of stuff. We hope you’ll like what we do send: announcements of new books, a few poems, and a bit of news.

I enjoyed reading Making Amends. Here’s the publisher description from Amazon:

On a beautiful fall evening, in the middle of a game of hide-and-seek, five-year-old Bobby Clark is kidnapped by his estranged father, a shiftless man with a history of domestic violence and drug abuse. Bobby’s twin brother Ricky watches, terrified, from his hiding place behind the bougainvillea, while mother Tabby, who also struggles with addiction, lies inebriated on the living room floor. Bobby isn’t seen by his loved ones again until a fateful morning twenty-five years later, when video of his arrest dominates the morning news. He has been charged with the murder of his father, but before the trial can begin, he manages to escape. As Tabby and Ricky absorb the news of Bobby’s return and subsequent escape, Tabby is convinced he’ll come home to the quiet Florida street from which he was taken so long ago. But when events begin to spiral out of control, she’s left to wonder: is a child born to be evil, or shaped to be evil? And in the end, when it’s time to make amends, does it really matter?

I hope you enjoy the book and the Thomas-Jacob newsletter. The next issue should be out near the end of this month.

–Malcolm

 

 

 

Kindle 99-cent sale today on four books

On Sale January 20th from Thomas-Jacob Publishing

 

historyof
Few of the eccentric inhabitants of her father’s Main Line, Philadelphia estate have much time for Fleur Robins, an awkward child with a devotion to her ailing grandfather, a penchant for flapping and whirling, and a preoccupation with God and the void. While her mother spends much of her time with her hand curled around a wine glass and her abusive father congratulates himself for rescuing babies from “the devil abortionists,” Fleur mourns the fallen petals of a rose and savors the patterns of light rippling across the pool. When she fails to save a baby bird abandoned in her garden, a series of events unfold that change everything.

appalachianjustice

Billy May Platte is a half Irish, half Cherokee Appalachian woman who learned the hard way that 1940s West Virginia was no place to be different. As Billy May explains, “We was sheltered in them hills. We didn’t know much of nothin’ about life outside of them mountains. I did not know the word lesbian; to us, gay meant havin’ fun and queer meant somethin’ strange.”

 

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Lena, a shamanistic cat, and her conjure woman Eulalie live in a small town near the Apalachicola River in Florida’s lightly populated Liberty County, where longleaf pines own the world. In Eulalie’s time, women of color look after white children in the homes of white families and are respected, even loved, but distrusted and kept separated as a group. A palpable gloss, sweeter than the state’s prized tupelo honey, holds their worlds firmly apart. When that gloss fails, the Klan restores its own brand of order.

 

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In 1955, at the height of alarm over the Emmett Till murder in Mississippi and after the Supreme Court ruling against school segregation, Associated Press reporter Rachel Feigen travels from Baltimore to Tennessee to report on a missing person case. Guy Saillot’s last contact with his family was a postcard from the Tennessee Bend Motel, a seedy establishment situated on beautiful Cherokee Lake. But they have no record he was ever a guest.

 

 

Remembering a batch of authors

When we use traditional collective nouns for groups of animals, we speak of a congregation of alligators, a colony of ants, a swarm of bees, a herd of buffalo, a clutter of cats, a murder of crows, a pod of dolphins, a flock of geese, a charm of hummingbirds and a pandemonium of parrots.

batchHumorous collective nouns have been suggested for writers, including an absurdity of, an allegory of, a gallery of and scribble of. Some of the funnier suggestions are less than flattering. When I was interviewed for a regional magazine along with other authors from the county, the article was titled “A Truck Load of Authors.” We were all packed into a vintage pickup truck, a picture was taken, and the magazine had a great illustration.

Since I had no viable way of getting all the authors together who have appeared on this blog directly through guests posts and interviews or indirectly through reviews together and posing them on a raft, railcar or a team of wild horses, I’ve settled for the word “batch.”

The Batch at Malcolm’s Round Table

GoldfinchIf this blog has a niche–or a partial niche–it’s books and writers. Since I read a lot, the batch of writers here has included a lot of reviews. Some of those were BIG PUBLISHING BESTSELLERS but most were not.

So yes, I reviewed Dan Brown’s Inferno and talked about Donna Tarrt’s The Goldfinch. I liked The Night Circus, The Tiger’s Wife, and Long Man a lot and you probably heard about those more than once. Of course I talked about my own books but, well, that’s because I can’t help it and I try not to go on and on about them even though I might be going on and on anyway.

But, to move on. . .

However, it was much more fun talking (in reviews or notes) about books by some wonderful authors you weren’t hearing about everywhere else, L. S. Bassen, Seth Mullins and Smoky Zeidel (who has a new edition coming out soon).

Guest Posts and Interviews

Sara Ann grave in PA. Bob Salerni photo.
Sara Ann grave in PA. Bob Salerni photo.

When an author has delved deeply into a subject while researching a book, it’s fun to have them to stop by and do a guest post. The most unusual guest post was author Dianne K. Salerni’s (“We Hear the Dead,” “The Caged Graves”) Mortsafes: Protection FROM the Dead or FOR the Dead? Spooky stuff.

Interviews are something special because even though they are conducted via e-mail, my guests and I try to make they read very much like conversations.

Most recently, Marietta Rodgers stopped by to talk about her debut book The Bill. Laura Cowan has been here twice, most recently to talk about her magical Music of Sacred Lakes. Nora Caron, a Canadian author lured into Mexico and the American southwest has written a wonderful trilogy that includes New Dimensions of Being. Melinda Clayton, a psychologist who’s now focusing her observational skills on fictional characters spoke about her novel Blessed Are the Wholly Broken.  Two audio book narrators, R. Scott Adams and Kelley Hazen stopped by do tell me how they do what they do. Adams brought his talents as a dialects specialist to my novel Jock Stewart and the Missing Sea of Fire. Hazen brought her experience as an actress to narrate my three-story set Emily’s Stories.

row1Diane Salerni’s research into Mortsafes made for a wonderful book in Caged Graves. Novelist Robert Hays used his background as a journalist and journalism educator to write the well-received nonfiction book Patton’s Oracle: Gen. Oscar Koch, as I Knew Him. Laura Cowan (“The Little Seer”) contributed a close-to-my-heart guest post Speculative Supernatural Novels and the Growing Fantasy Genre. Novelist Pat Bertram (“Light Bringer,” “Daughter I Am”) also wrote the nonfiction Grief the Great Yearning which brings together her experiences with loss in an guest post called The Messy Spiral of Grief. Beth Sorensen (“Crush at Thomas Hall”) wrote a sparkling thriller/romance in her novel Divorcing a Dead Man.

row2Helen Osterman worked as a nurse for 45 years. During her training, her rotation she witnessed hydrotherapy, Insulin coma therapy and electroshock. Her background served her well when when she turned to fiction writing in  Notes in a Mirror. Vila SpiderHawk’s Forest Song novels are magical. She stopped by to talk about Finding Home. I thoroughly enjoyed Deborah J. Ledford’s Staccato, Marsha Forchuk Skrypuch’s Dance of the Banished and Rhett DeVane’s Suicide Supper Club.

row3

Memory Lane

As you see, memory lane is a long street. It would be even longer if I kept better records, so I’m sure I didn’t find all of my interviews and guest posts. I’m planning to bring you some more new posts in the coming months. I hope you’ll stay tuned and, from time to time, sample the authors’ stories.

–Malcolm

KIndle cover 200x300(1)Malcolm R. Campbell is the author of “Conjure Woman’s Cat”

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Book Review: ‘Shadow Days’ by Melinda Clayton

Shadow DaysShadow Days by Melinda Clayton

My rating: 4 of 5 stars

 

 

“Shadow Days” is a delightful addition to Melinda Clayton’s popular “Cedar Hollow” series, featuring in this novel protagonist Emily Holt who suddenly leaves her home in Florida and runs away on the anniversary of her husband’s death.

She ends up by chance and destiny in Cedar Hollow. The sheriff wonders if she’s crazy when he finds her and her broken-down car a few miles from town.

After she finds a place to stay, she begins to learn about the town and its people. Readers who’ve been with the series since it began with “Appalachian Justice,” will recognize just about everybody. Those who read “Shadow Days” first will, like Emily Holt, learn who’s who as the plot unfolds.

Emily has to come to terms with her husband’s death, the remnants of her life in Florida, her two sons who are off at college and don’t know where she is, and just who she is now in this off-the-beaten track town in West Virginia.

This is a well-told story with a cast of characters that increases in depth and scope as each new novel in the series is released. There are nice touches in the memories of characters such as collecting calendar towels and saving S&H Green Stamps. Very satisfying and hopefully not the end of the story.

Malcolm

View all my reviews

Indie Authors – The Publicity Dilemma

“Most books, both traditionally published and self-published, don’t sell well.” – Mark Coker, Smashwords founder

Free Kindle Book
Free Kindle Book

Self-publishing has made the world of books more democratic. Authors who never could find an agent or a publisher’s editor to give their books a chance in the traditional publishing world can now publish and distribute their books through such platforms as Smashwords, Kindle, and CreateSpace.

But then what?

While self-published and small press authors are no longer the black sheep who couldn’t get published by a “real publisher,” book marketing for indie authors partly includes re-training the reading public and partly creating a platform that makes the books worth the time and cost to the reader.

Retraining the Public

Free Kindle Book
Free Kindle Book

When I talk to friends who are not authors, they tell me that 99.99% of the books they buy are traditionally published books from widely known publishers and authors that they heard about from friends, feature stories in newspapers and online publications, and from reviews by professional reviewers. While, book bloggers, social media, and reader reviews are making a dent in reader reliance on old-style marketing techniques, people tend to buy and read what they’ve always bought and read unless we show them something better.

I’m a writer and not a marketing expert, so I’m not going to try and compete he with advice you can get from books like the two free Kindle books by Smashwords founder Mark Coker. (If you don’t own a Kindle, download the free “Kindle for PC” application from Amazon and read the books on your computer screen.) Otherwise, here are a few thoughts:

  • Yes, we need to show friends and other prospective readers samples of our work so they’ll see that it’s good. But we also need to talk about other self-published and small press books to let people know there’s a lot of stuff to read out there that’s not coming from giant, traditional publishers. Talk about the authors you’ve discovered in the genres you know your friends like.
  • Yes, we need to converse with other people in “real life” and in the social media, but unless (or until) you’re a celebrity, most people other than your closest friends don’t care what you’re having for dinner tonight or how many times a day your cat threw up a hairball. We need to be accessible while maintaining the ability to morph our off-line and on-line presence into that of a professional writer.

Platform and Presentation

Naturally, we need to begin with the best book we can write and design. While a small press will usually provide professional editing, formatting and cover design, you will either have to learn how to do such things or pay somebody else to do them if you self-publish.

claytonpublishSince the book will be competing with professionally edited and designed books, asking your kids to create the cover art work with crayons or your spouse to look through the manuscript for typos isn’t going to cut it. Part of your investment in your book may well include hiring a professional cover designer and editor or finding some very talented beginners or students who will provide great work at a lower cost. Maybe you can barter with other professionals: you write their news releases and they copy edit your books.

There’s a learning curve with professional-level self-publishing. I’m wary of many of the online services that offer help. Perhaps  I’m cynical and think that after I pay $500 for somebody to arrange a blogging tour, will I break even when/if the book starts to sell. Novelist Melinda Clayton has done some of our self-publishing homework for us in her recently published Self-publishing Made Simple: A How-to Guide for the Non-tech-savvy Among Us. Here are a few more thoughts:

  • Developing an on-line persona in blogs, social media sites, and our own web sites can easily trap us into an overall approach that appears to be ALL ABOUT ME. While we’re writing the book, we’re focused on the story and how can best tell it. Sure, some people are curious about such things. But, too much of that, and their eyes glaze over.
  • Yes, an author’s fame helps sell books. Some people will buy everything their favorite author writes as long as it’s good. Prospective new readers will, however, read the reviews, the interviews and the feature stories about an author’s new book. When presented with thousands of prospective books a month, most of us are more likely to reject a book than to try it out. Why? We don’t have time to study each book in depth, so we weed them out quickly. . .wrong price, wrong genre, uninteresting story, unattractive cover. In short, there’s nothing in it for us. Take your best shot fast with something interesting that stops that rejection train.
  • This leads to the true focus of our pitch. It’s not ALL ABOUT ME, it’s ALL ABOUT YOU. We need to show prospective readers the book’s features and benefits. Show them in everything you say and do, including the book’s online description and back-cover copy, what’s in it for them.
  • Avoid blog interviews that rely on generic questions unless there’s a wide variety of them and you get to choose which ones to answer. More often than not, generic questions such as When did you first know you wanted to be a writer and Are you a plotter or a pantser make you sound like an amateur. Plus, they focus on you, your issues, and your writer’s journey rather than what’s in the book for the reader to enjoy.
  • Readers were attracted to Rowling's books before they were attracted to her story about writing them. he story in your novel comes before the story of your life.
    Readers were attracted to Rowling’s books before they were attracted to her story about writing them. The story in your novel comes before the story of your life.

    Sorry about this, but saying you’re a work-at-home mom, an avid reader, or a dad who makes up bedtime stories for his kids isn’t going to sell your book. First, there’s nothing unique about any of that. Those are not the prerequisites for becoming a writer no matter how important they are in your own life. Second, focusing on your personal life is still ALL ABOUT ME. Focus on hobbies, avocations, and career information that not only shows the reader you’re deeply involved and knowledgeable about the people, places and themes in your books, but that you share a common ground.

  • Success Breeds Interest. That’s a long-time proverb from management and supervision courses. I think it’s true of writers and how they relate to the public. Even if we’re not selling loads of books, being negative online about one’s lot in life doesn’t make us very attractive. Obviously, lack-of-success probably breeds apathy. So, a positive approach is the basis of a successful platform. Many writers disagree with me, but I think it’s bad form to ask for reviews and for readers to tell their friends about your book. That sounds like lack of success to me for, if people like your book, they’ll spread the word without being asked. If you’re having trouble with your publisher, your editor, your cover designer, with Amazon, or with anyone else, save comments about that to writers’ forums and private messages. There’s a double standard here, I know: if J.K. Rowling sues somebody, it’s news–if indie writers complain, it’s unattractive and unsuccessful sour grapes. Don’t bash your publisher online.
  • You are not a charity case even if you’re broke. When I worked with nonprofit organizations, a lot of executive directors thought that if they simply announced an event, the public would show up in record numbers. Why? Because the charity or museum is a good cause. Well, there are hundreds of good causes out there, so using that as one’s rationale isn’t going to draw people to weekend events. Nonprofits have to sell the event. What wonders will the pubic experience by attending it? What’s in it for them? We show our lack of professionalism and continue the ALL ABOUT ME mindset if we present ourselves as people who need to be rescued rather than professional writers to be read if we focus our efforts on asking people to help us succeed. This kind of sentimentalism isn’t going to sell books. Count on it. If you say you’re broke, it suggests that you’re not any good.

If you’re a writer, best of luck finding the combination of publicity techniques and approaches that works for you. If you’re a reader, remember that those of us who focus on storytelling don’t always know how to tell you about our stories.

Kindle Version
Kindle Version

Malcolm

Malcolm R. Campbell is the author of contemporary fantasy novels, including “The Seeker”

Fall Reading: See anything you like?

Once the barrage of lightweight summer books has come and gone, readers’ thoughts to turn fall reading and holiday gifts. To help us make our choices, the usual flurry of best books of the year articles and lists is showing up all over the Internet and in your favorite book stores. For this, you can always start with the list of 101 best books of the year on Publishers Weekly.  (The feature has site errors in it, but click on OK and get past them.) Or you can look at USA Today’s list of fall books here.

Indie Bound publishes a “Next” list for upcoming books. Here are their favorites for November:

IndieNEXTnov13

Likewise, Southern Independent Booksellers Alliance (SIBA) keeps up with bestsellers for bookstores in the southeast. Here’s the link to their hardbacks PDF. On the download, they’ve highlighted several books, including:

leesmith

When people ask me about fiction and poetry, my answer depends on what (if anything) I know about the person. Do they like romance, fantasy, general fiction, crime? However, my three top picks of the year in fiction are:

fall2013books1

And, for those who like poetry (I think Bryant’s latest book is only on Sams Dot Com):

fall2013poetry

I’m intrigued by these short stories, but they may not work for everyone:

claire

In  the crime category, I liked Robert Galbraith’s (J. K. Rowling) The Cuckoo’s Falling and  Stephen King’s Joyland. In plays, I liked Elizabeth Clark-Sterne’s On the Doorstep of the Castle. Also, Tracy R. Franklin’s strong collection of poetry and essays Looking for the Sun Door is a beautiful book. And, since a short story of mine appears in the anthology, I have to mention Spirits of St. Louis: Missouri Ghost Stories. Of course, I wouldn’t mind if you clicked on the banner below to take a look at my new contemporary fantasy The Betrayed.

I hope you find plenty out there for your to-be-read list and for the lists of your friends and family.

Malcolm

betrayedbanner

Melinda Clayton views her latest protagonist as ‘wholly broken’

ClaytonphotoToday’s guest is author Melinda Clayton (“The Cedar Hollow Series”). Her new novel, a stunning tale about a family in the midst of self-destruction Blessed Are the Wholly Broken, was released October 16.  Clayton, who has published numerous articles and short stories in print and online magazines, is a licensed psychotherapist in the states of Florida and Colorado. She holds an Ed.D. in Special Education Administration. She recently founded Thomas-Jacob Publishing described as a “unique family-owned publishing company.”

Clayton previously visited Malcolm’s Round Table in July of 2012 when her novel Entangled Thorns was released as the third book in “The Cedar Hollow Series.”

Malcolm: Welcome back! In your new novel Blessed Are the Wholly Broken, you move away from the Appalachian Mountain families in “The Cedar Hollow Series” to Phillip and Anna Lewinsky, a modern-day urban couple, living in Memphis. As an author, how difficult was it to shift away from the prospective “comfort zone” of an on-going series with known characters and established settings to a new environment featuring students graduating from college who are ready for careers and family life?

cedarhollowcoverMelinda: Thanks for having me back, Malcolm. It was difficult, but I also felt it was time. There may be other Cedar Hollow stories, but the story of Phillip and Anna Lewinsky had been rattling around in my head for some time. I had also wanted to write a story set in the area of Tennessee in which I grew up, so that was fun. It was also fun to revisit the University of Memphis on Memphis’ rainiest day of 1989. I remember that day well. I was really tired of the rain, of being cold, and of getting soaked on my walks to both class and work.

Malcolm: At the beginning of the book, you quote a line from “In Place of a Curse,” a signature poem by John Ciardi: “They who are wholly broken, and they in whom mercy is understanding, I shall embrace at once and lead to pillows in heaven.” In addition to suggesting a unique title for your novel, how does this sentiment set the stage for the story to come?

Melinda: I think of Phillip as being “wholly broken.” This is a man who in his early twenties felt he had everything he needed to be happy. In his words, “I felt like the luckiest guy in the world. First job, first apartment, first girlfriend, best friend. What more could I have possibly wanted?” But by his mid-forties, when we first meet him in the Prologue, he feels he has nothing at all. “Life imprisonment or death; that is the question. And while the outcome matters immensely to the other players in this drama of my life, it matters not at all to me. I am dead either way.”

I wanted to explore that dynamic, the path one might travel that could lead from euphoria to despair, from hopeful to hopeless.

Malcolm: Asking a therapist why s/he writes about characters with deeply rooted psychological problems probably makes as much sense as asking a composer why s/he writes about characters who are struggling with a symphony. Yet, as I think about both “The Cedar Hollow Series” and Blessed Are the Wholly Broken, I can’t help but see the books’ characters as almost being—as we say in the South—“too broke to fix.” In addition to the page-turning read we all look for, do you think these novels will also help provide closure for readers who know people who seem wholly broken and/or who often feel they might be wholly broken?

BAWB 200 x 300Melinda: Wow, I might have to think about that for a minute! I think the “broken” characters in the Cedar Hollow Series have within them some spark of hope, enough, at least, to compel them to continue moving forward. One reviewer remarked that she loved it that those books all ended on a hopeful note, a type of new beginning for the characters. If there’s a message to those books, it might be something along the lines of each cloud having a silver lining, or there being a light at the end of the tunnel. Never give up; this too shall pass, etc.

I think Blessed Are the Wholly Broken is different in that within the first page, we know Phillip Lewinsky has been found guilty of the murder of his wife. One of the beta-readers called me midway through reading and said, “But he’s going to get out, right?” She found him to be a sympathetic, likable character and wanted a happy ending for him. I suppose a philosophical argument could be made that in a paradoxical sort of way, he was happy with the ending and he did find the closure he was looking for, but the writing of Wholly Broken was more about an examination of the unraveling of a life than it was about reaching closure.

Malcolm:  How do prospective wholly broken people/characters impact the therapist/novelist?

Melinda: In some ways, the impact is the same for both the therapist and the novelist, in that I’ve always been fascinated by trying to discover what makes us all tick. Behavioral theory would say we don’t engage in a behavior unless we’re getting something out of that behavior. Maybe we’re being positively reinforced in some way, or maybe we’re trying to avoid something uncomfortable. That’s overly simplistic, but I think for the most part, it’s true.

As a therapist, part of finding the solution lies in finding the why of the behavior. Once a person recognizes and understands the purpose behind their behavior, they can choose whether or not they want to change it.

As a novelist, it’s fun to work to tie together a character’s motivations, choices, and decisions with their ultimate outcome.

Malcolm: After readers learn on the first page of Blessed Are the Wholly Broken that a crime has been committed, the novel moves about quickly from one time to another and from one place to another rather like a “whodunit.” I felt like I was reading a detective story. How did you approach your research for this, especially that involving medical, police, prison and courtroom procedures?

The dorms at Memphis State University (now U of M) where Phillip and Anna meet.
The dorms at Memphis State University (now U of M) where Phillip and Anna meet.

Melinda: This novel, by far, required more research than all three of my previous novels put together. I spent time both talking with and emailing medical and legal experts as well as making several phone calls to the Lauderdale County Jail to make sure I accurately portrayed not only procedures, but physical components of the building.

I sent hardcopies of the chapters dealing with medical issues to an expert in the field of microbiology, and chapters dealing with legal and courtroom procedures to the founder of a law firm in New York.

I wanted the book to be as true to the regions as possible, so I also researched weather patterns in that area during that time to make sure if it was raining in the novel, it really had rained on that particular day. I pulled up calendars from that time to make sure if court was held on a specific day in the novel, it would have really been held on that day in Ripley, Tennessee.

I think I probably spent more time on research than I did on writing. Everyone was incredibly helpful; if there are mistakes, they’re completely my own.

Malcolm: While Blessed Are the Wholly Broken was still a work in progress, you formed your own publishing company. How did the becoming a publisher change your perspective about what it takes to prepare and format manuscripts, and to publish and market a book? How did it change your viewpoint as a writer? Did becoming a publisher change your writing habits or approach or were you able to keep your publisher’s hat in the closet until the manuscript was done?

TJpublishingMelinda: Becoming a publisher in the middle of the writing process taught me that publishing is a lot of work! In some ways it stifled me as a writer because as I typed, I couldn’t help thinking, “Ugh, once I get done with this manuscript, I have to reformat it three different ways….”  On the flip side, I loved having the ability to review and proof the finalized manuscripts before hitting “publish.” It was nice to have one last chance to check for any typos or formatting errors before going “live.”

Malcolm: Best of luck with Thomas-Jacob Publishing and Blessed Are the Wholly Broken. Where can prospective readers find you your novels on the Internet?

Melinda: Thanks, Malcolm!  And thanks for the wonderful interview.

All of my books can be found through major retailers such as Amazon and Barnes & Noble. They’re also available through Smashwords, Apple, Sony, and Kobo.

Briefly Noted: ‘Cedar Hollow,’ by Sam Franklin’s family

“Cedar Hollow,” by  Patty Hayner Franklin, Bill Franklin, Eric Thomas Johnson, Melinda Clayton, Samuel Joseph Franklin, Frankie Johnson, W. Michael Franklin and Tracy R. Franklin, Vanilla Heart Publishing (October 2012), 150 pp, paperback and e-book

While Cedar Hollow is the fictional town in Melinda Clayton’s novels (“Appalachian Justice,” “Return to Crutcher Mountain” “Entangled Thorns”), the Franklin Family is lovingly real as are the flavor, ambiance and wonders in this book.

All author and publisher proceeds from this anthology, created by Sam Franklin’s family, will go to the “Helen R. Tucker Adult Developmental Center, Tipton County Branch [in Tennessee] where Sam currently spends many of his days interacting, learning, growing, and experiencing life. With great honor, Vanilla Heart Publishing is pleased to support this center and the people who make it possible.”

Pushcart Prize Nominee Short Story Erma Puckett’s Moment of Indiscretion by Melinda Clayton is included, along with stories, poems, lyrics and music score, recipes, and more from Sam and his Family, including his father, mother, sisters, and both his eldest brother and his brother-in-law.

Excerpt about Sam from his sister, Melinda Clayton

My brother is funny and sweet. He likes basketball, dancing, and singing. He loves old reruns of shows he watched as a child. He likes to play the keyboard and the drums. He loves foods that aren’t healthy for him, but always follows the doctor’s orders. Most of all, he loves his family.

And, by the way, he has Down Syndrome.

Just one little sentence in the whole of who he is.

There’s a lot of prose and poetry to look forward to in this anthology. Even so, I’m also tempted by the recipes for Darryl Lane’s trout, Peggy Mitchell’s burgers, Kay Lanley’s key lime pie, and Beryl Dickson’s holiday cookies.

Malcolm

P.S. Vanilla Heart is also my publisher, Melinda Clayton is my friend and I was once a unit manager in a developmental center where some residents had Down Syndrome. You might say I am fully biased in favor of this book in every possible way.