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.


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.


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











Book Review: ‘New Dimensions of Being’ by Nora Caron

NDB cover smallAuthor Nora Caron (Journey to the Heart) returns with the gentle and deeply spiritual sequel New Dimensions of Being about a young Canadian woman named Lucina who has moved to Oaxaca for a much-needed change of scene. Fluent in Spanish and acclimated to the warm climate and culture of Southwestern Mexico, the former computer professional works as a waitress and shares her apartment with her boyfriend Teleo.

While she is happy with her decision to move to Oaxaca, Lucina’s sleep and serenity are being disrupted by frightening nightmares. Then she discovers she is pregnant. Her uncertainty about motherhood at this time in her life puts a strain on her relationship with Teleo and widens the scope of her spiritual quest.

New Dimensions of Being is a story about mentors. Teleo is an herbal healer; John is a shaman, Maria–a former actress–is wise in the ways of predatory men (vampires, as she calls them); Teleo’s mother is a midwife with strong connections to spirit as indigenous cultures view humankind’s relationship with Earth, gods and elemental forces; and Weeping Willow brings Lucina the Hopi worldview and its prospective  connection to her nightmares.

Each of these mentors has a role to play in Lucina’s quest, imparting wisdom and advice out of their experience. What does she want to do about her pregnancy, her relationship with Teleo, and her role as a woman at a time of spiritual shifts?

Written in a natural, easy-to-read style, New Dimensions of Being brings us a believable protagonist who is learning how, exactly, to define herself. At times, she is more reactive than active, when some of the mentors’ stories become lengthy.

However, her reactions ring true and her progress along her spiritual path will appeal greatly to women who are reclaiming their feminine energy and power in a patriarchal world, and to others who are focused on a more natural and cooperative relationship with Mother Earth.

Quebec author finds her stories and spirit in the Southwest

NoraCaronToday’s guest is Nora Caron, author of Journey to the Heart and the recently released sequel, New Dimensions of Being. From Montreal, Quebec, Caron works as a private English teacher and Kangen water distributor when she’s not in the American Southwest working on films.

She co-wrote the script for Wyoming Sky, a film currently in development by her own film production company, Oceandoll Productions.

Malcolm: Welcome to Malcolm’s Round Table. You’ve been busy lately touring on behalf of New Dimensions of Being. I won’t ask you to tell tall tales about appearing in multiple towns and multiple stores, but I’m guessing it’s been an adventure. What are the high points?

NDB cover smallNora: I adore meeting new people and not knowing who will show up. Every bookstore has its own energy and I never know what to expect! It’s like a dream every time in which I don’t know what will happen. In the past I used to try to organize everything and count on certain people to show up but now I just go with the flow. Sometimes people don’t talk and other times, like in Texas recently, they just open up magically and incredible life stories are shared in the room. The best part of touring is that afterwards, you come home with new friends and unforgettable memories, not to mention great new ideas for future novels.

Malcolm: When you wrote Journey to the Heart, did you know that your protagonist Lucina had another story to tell or did she start appearing in your thoughts and dreams later?

Nora: I had several people come up and ask me, “So what happens after? I want to know more! Please!” I had never thought of writing a trilogy but I realized after much meditation that Lucina’s story indeed was not over. When I started writing the second book, I had so much to say that I couldn’t wait to start the third. I literally wrote two books one after the other without taking a break, something I thought I would never pull off given all my other work that I must juggle daily. I can honestly say these books wrote themselves through my fingertips, as though powerful forces were pushing their way to print.

Small-coverMalcolm: I can understand a resident of Quebec being fluent in French. But how did the German and Spanish come into the picture? How does being multi-lingual influence your work as a writer in English?

Nora: My mother speaks many languages and it was a sort of necessity growing up in our household to master different languages. I lived for a while in Berlin back in 2001 and loved the German culture very much, and it was at that moment that I began learning German. In 2002, I traveled to Mexico where I heard Spanish for the first time and couldn’t shake it from me. It was in University that I minored in German and Spanish because I knew that being multilingual would help me later down as I traveled the world. Speaking different languages allows me to study other cultures and people more in depth, and allows me to see more clearly how other people live and interact. The fact that I speak Spanish gave me an inside perspective on Mexico which is everywhere in my first three novels. I believe that to know different languages gives you freedom to explore worlds that remain hidden sometimes to the common outside tourist.

Malcolm: How does a person living in the ice and cold of Quebec become fascinated with the American Southwest? Yes, I know it’s warmer there, but I think there’s more to it than that?

Nora: Although I am born in ice and cold and gray skies, my spirit is far from that energy. It was in the south of the US that I started to feel myself fully, especially in California and Arizona. I find the people more welcoming and friendly, and I adore the dry heat. I am an outdoors person, I love running and swimming so winters in Quebec are a little death for me each year. In my heart, I am a true Californian: wild, free-spirited, open-minded, rebellious, and very liberal. Plus I love the joy and lightness of being in the southwest which is rare to find in my part of the world. Up here people are constantly fighting the weather hence that reflects in their personalities. Quebecers are rough, tough, and often not the happiest people on earth. I believe climate shapes people much more than we imagine.

Malcolm: You’re one of the few authors I know who also has an IMDb listing. What led you to acting and to your work in the Wyoming Sky project?

In the summer of 1884, the proud daughter of a horse rancher returns home from back east, only to face hardship and danger on the Wyoming frontier. To save her father's ranch, she must move a herd of rare horses over 100 miles, with a gang of killers in hot pursuit.
In the summer of 1884, the proud daughter of a horse rancher returns home from back east, only to face hardship and danger on the Wyoming frontier. To save her father’s ranch, she must move a herd of rare horses over 100 miles, with a gang of killers in hot pursuit.

Nora: When I first went to Los Angeles seven years ago, I befriended a wonderful actor named Ingo Neuhaus who became one of my closest friends on earth. One day he threw me into a short film Online Dating and we had so much fun, that we decided to work together on other short films. I had done television and theatre in the past, as well as film studies, so I felt like I was re-connecting with a part of me that had been sleeping for a long time. Three years ago, Ingo and I started writing our first feature film Wyoming Sky and once the script was complete, we realized we had something really special in our hands. Several people in Hollywood jumped on board, and last year we formed our film company with Brad Neuhaus and we became Oceandoll Productions. Since then, we have been raising funds for Wyoming Sky and recently launched a Kickstarter campaign for development money. It’s such a pleasure to be doing films with such talented men as the Neuhaus boys! There is never a dull moment and we like to think we are different from other filmmakers because we take time with people and listen to people rather than just think about ourselves. Hollywood can be very narcissistic at times, sadly.

Malcolm: In her novel The Goldfinch, Donna Tartt describes Nevada as a place of “wide horizons, empty skies, spiritual clarity.” I also get this feeling when I visit my granddaughters there, and I sense it lurking behind the scenes in your work set in the Southwest. How do you visualize the region when you approach it as a writer—and perhaps someday as a resident?

Mojave Sunset
Mojave Sunset

Nora: Since I did travel in Mexico, the scenes in my novel come from a first-hand account as well as much research about the places my narrator visits. I feel at home in places with wide horizons and clear skies, and one of my favorite places to visit was the Mojave desert in California. It was there that I heard the calls of the coyotes and slept under the starlit skies, and dreamed of shamans and witches and transformations. I hope that my descriptions of places in my novels stir that sense of wonder in readers, wonder about the mysterious unknown, the Other Side, the world of magic and spirits, and rebirth and death.

Malcolm: Thank you for stopping by Malcolm’s Round Table. Best of luck with your Kickstarter campaign for Wyoming Sky and your tour for New Dimensions of Being.

The Story: In New Dimensions of Being, Lucina is haunted by terrible recurring nightmares. Unsure of what they represent, Teleo and her seek answers but the quest opens up many new areas of life Lucina is not certain she can cope with. Discovering that she is pregnant, Lucina faces a huge decision: Is she ready to become a mother or not? As Lucina stumbles around to find the right path for her, she realizes that keeping love alive is much more complicated than she originally thought.

On the Web: You can visit Nora on the web here; you and learn more about her campaign to raise money for Wyoming Sky here.