My Facebook author’s page is not all about me

I promise it isn’t. It’s filled with links to book reviews, writing how-to, author interviews, obituaries, books being made into films, and other books and authors’ subjects. There are usually five or six links there per day, so it’s not overpowering. This blog usually has a link there as well

Today I included a link to the rather scandalous film “Deep Throat,” one of those anniversaries, looking back in time kinds of articles. So far, Facebook hasn’t told me the link doesn’t meet community standards. There’s also a review of Two Nights in Lisbon and an article about the disturbing biographies of children’s book authors.

At any rate, if you follow authors and books, I hope you’ll stop by and take a look. If you find something you really like once or twice a week, count yourself lucky!

Malcolm

Malcolm R. Campbell is the author of a bunch of stuff. Click on his name to find out what.

So, how’s ‘Run, Rose, Run’ by Patterson and Parton doing?

When the novel was released on March 7, it began its life at number one on the New York Times bestseller list. It’s currently at number five on Amazon with 11,207 ratings with a 4.5 average. The companion album by the same name, Parton’s forty-eighth solo studio album, a mix of bluegrass and country, is described as high energy with a lot to like. Meanwhile, “Variety ” reports that a movie deal is already in the works with Reese Witherspoon’s company. The whole project appears to be doing well.

Amazon Description:

From America’s most beloved superstar and its greatest storyteller—a thriller about a young singer-songwriter on the rise and on the run, and determined to do whatever it takes to survive.
Every song tells a story. 
She’s a star on the rise, singing about the hard life behind her. 
She’s also on the run. Find a future, lose a past. 
Nashville is where she’s come to claim her destiny.  It’s also where the darkness she’s fled might find her.  And destroy her. 
Run, Rose, Run is a novel glittering with danger and desire—a story that only America’s #1 beloved entertainer and its #1 bestselling author could have created.

Not a lot of detail there, but then I guess when you have Patterson and Parton working together, you really don’t need a lot of detail. Just mention the surprising co-authorship of the book, and sales will follow.

The last line of the book’s Kirkus review is an apt summary of what’s going on here: “The fairy-tale characters and details of the country-music scene are so much fun you won’t mind the silly plot.”

The Publishers Weekly review ends about the same way, “Never mind that the mystery element runs a distant second to the story of AnnieLee making good in Nashville. Parton fans will relish this timeless fairy tale, which displays the singer’s lively way with words and draws liberally from her experience in the music business.”

All About Romance begins its review this way: “Run, Rose, Run is just as charming as everything else connected to musician/actress/philanthropist Dolly Parton. Though it’s mostly a character study about three different personalities making their way through the Nashville scene than a thriller, the suspense element adds a nice bit of variety to the proceedings. It’s a fun, quick read in spite of its length – a page-turner with brief chapters.”

According to Book Marks, “Parton’s co-authorship of Run, Rose, Run may not suggest literary finesse, but she is able to supply an authenticity in the details of the American music business to match (in her own way) the political insights previously provided by Clinton.” (Bill Clinton and Patterson, another unlikely combination of authors, previously teamed up on The President is Missing and The President’s Daughter.)

I have not read Run, Rose, Run because I’m waiting for the price to come down, but I have read The President is Missing and can see the synchronicity of the thriller details from Patterson and the Presidential details from Clinton. I expected the same combination of skills/backgrounds in the Parton and Patterson collaboration.

I think the book will be easy on the eyes and a run-read if you like country music. That’s my guess because we all love Dolly.

Malcolm

P. S. I sent Jim an idea about a guy with a paper route who’s being targeted by mob enforcers from a competing newspaper but haven’t heard back yet.

Review: ‘The Boy from the Woods,’ by Harlan Coben

I read a variety of black ops/thriller books that I generally refer to as “grocery store books” because that’s where I see them while buying milk, bread, eggs, and inexpensive wine. I know my definition is unfair because, frankly, if an author’s books are on grocery store shelves, they’re usually compelling, well-written, bestselling books. Coben’s books fit all three of those categories.

Publisher’s Description: Thirty years ago, Wilde was found as a boy living feral in the woods, with no memory of his past. Now an adult, he still doesn’t know where he comes from, and another child has gone missing.

No one seems to take Naomi Pine’s disappearance seriously, not even her father—with one exception. Hester Crimstein, a television criminal attorney, knows through her grandson that Naomi was relentlessly bullied at school. Hester asks Wilde—with whom she shares a tragic connection—to use his unique skills to help find Naomi.

Wilde can’t ignore an outcast in trouble, but in order to find Naomi he must venture back into the community where he has never fit in, a place where the powerful are protected even when they harbor secrets that could destroy the lives of millions . . . secrets that Wilde must uncover before it’s too late.

Wilde is an interesting character who will subsequently appear in a second book in the series called The Match. He lives off the grid and becomes uncomfortable if he has to come into the city too often. But he has some handy black ops skills and some very strategic common sense when it comes to solving things that aren’t what they seem.

This works well in The Boy from the Woods since most of the crimes and other strange events aren’t what they seem. The reader can only think that everyone except Wilde is probably lying. Fortunately, Wilde has some high-powered friends who believe in his abilities. That’s good, for this plot is so tangled up that even Sherlock Holmes might be tempted to say, “Watson, this time, I don’t have a clue.”

If you like thrillers, this book will probably appeal to you. You certainly won’t be bored. You might even condone the dash of schmaltz in the ending.

Malcolm

Facebook author’s page – an invitation

You are hereby and herewith, &c. invited to stop by my Facebook author’s page. I change the header from time to time, but right now it looks like this:

As you can see by the graphic, the page mentions my work. Yet, it is by no means a giant advertisement.

In fact, most posts focus on publishing news, author interviews, upcoming titles, book reviews, opinions and criticism, writing tips, genres, and book news that provide you with a snapshot of the latest activities from the world of books. I usually post about five links a day so that visitors can quickly scan the page to see if there’s anything that leaps out and grabs their attention.

Sure, I also have a Facebook profile, but it’s personal stuff, weird memes, pictures of kitties, general news, and other typical stuff that friends want to see. Most of the book world information is on my author’s page.

I hope to see you there.

Malcolm

I was happy to see that the first reviewer of the new “Fate’s Arrows” audiobook was happy with the story and the narrator’s presentation.

 

 

Briefly Noted: ‘The Outsider’ by Stephen King

Like his Mr. Mercedes trilogy, King’s The Outsider begins as a thriller/police procedural, then falls down the rabbit hole of the supernatural. I wasn’t happy with this in Mr. Mercedes, because after two books of standard police work, I thought changing the genre into a supernatural solution in book three was a mistake. However, in this standalone book, it works.

From the Publisher

An eleven-year-old boy’s violated corpse is discovered in a town park. Eyewitnesses and fingerprints point unmistakably to one of Flint City’s most popular citizens—Terry Maitland, Little League coach, English teacher, husband, and father of two girls. Detective Ralph Anderson, whose son Maitland once coached, orders a quick and very public arrest. Maitland has an alibi, but Anderson and the district attorney soon have DNA evidence to go with the fingerprints and witnesses. Their case seems ironclad.

As the investigation expands and horrifying details begin to emerge, King’s story kicks into high gear, generating strong tension and almost unbearable suspense. Terry Maitland seems like a nice guy, but is he wearing another face? When the answer comes, it will shock you as only Stephen King can.

The police seem to have Maitland dead to rights, But then more and more lapses in the investigation begin to occur. Mainly, how could Maitland be in two places at the same time? The star of the show is a private detective who specializes in skip tracer, lost dog, and missing persons work at a small agency called Finders Keepers named Holly Gibney. (She appeared in earlier King novels.)

She has seen doppelgänger cases before and is open to multiple solutions that don’t fit the standard police approach. King does a good job of building tension, showing the frustration of the police investigators, and allowing Gibney to slowly orient the investigation toward a supernatural solution.

I enjoyed the book.

–Malcolm

Malcolm R. Campbell is the author of magical realism, contemporary fantasy, and paranormal novels and short stories.

 

Review: ‘The Sinister Mystery of the Mesmerizing Girl’ by Theodora Goss

The Sinister Mystery of the Mesmerizing Girl (The Extraordinary Adventures of the Athena Club, #3)The Sinister Mystery of the Mesmerizing Girl by Theodora Goss
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

The first whisperings of the three novels in “The Extraordinary Adventures of the Athena Club” series can be found in Theodora Goss’ doctoral dissertation “The monster in the mirror: late Victorian Gothic and anthropology.” In fact, the members of the club–Mary Jekyll, Diana Hyde, Beatrice Rappaccini, Catherine Moreau, Justine Frankenstein, Lucinda Van Helsing, and Lydia Raymond–often call themselves monsters because they were created by amoral mad scientists.

Athena club members and other primary characters in the series are drawn from (or inspired by) the works of H. G. Wells, Bram Stoker, Robert Lewis Stevenson, Arthur Conan Doyle, Mary Shelley, Nathaniel Hawthorn, Arthur Machen, and Oscar Wilde. The genius behind these multi-layered novels comes not only from their accuracy of the Victorian era and its literature but from the fact that Goss has taken characters from multiple books and fit them hand-in-glove into a delightfully inventive and readable series.

Several years ago, Goss told an interviewer, “What really inspired me was reading the original texts for my Ph.D. in English literature. I wrote a doctoral dissertation on late-19th-century gothic fiction and started noticing that there were a lot of mad scientists running around in the 19th century — and that a lot of those mad scientists either thought of creating or actually created female monsters.”

The monsters of the Athena Club–who often quibble with each other in specially formatted bits of conversation–about the progress of “The Sinister Mystery of the Mesmerizing Girl” solve mysteries using (somewhat) the approach of Mary Jekyll’s friend and mentor Sherlock Holmes. While their powers of deduction aren’t as pure as Holmes’, their special powers provide them with talents Holmes doesn’t have. (Inspector Lestrade doesn’t like them and they don’t like him.)

They react to bad things that happen; this time it’s the simultaneous disappearance of their household maid Alice, Sherlock Holmes and Dr. Watson and, as it turns out, a threat against the British empire. Near the end of the book, when the women in the club are admonished to stay out of of mischief, Mary Jekyll says, “We don’t get into mischief. It sort of happens to us, or around us, or in our general vicinity.”

Most readers will see that comment as an understatement and as part of the charm of the books. The Athena Club is not a covert black ops group but a family of good monsters who often finds itself trying to thwart the plans of evil monsters. In this series, the women prevail as those who are setting things to rights. On the way to saving the day, the Athena Club’s debates tend to keep everyone grounded, such as when Catherine Moreau, who’s ostensibly recording the group’s adventures, says, “You realize that to a puma, you’re all just meat?”

Sure, they can all kill each other, but going after the bad guys is more fulfilling.

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New Pages: a great resource

NewPages.com is news, information, and guides to literary magazines, independent publishers, creative writing programs, alternative periodicals, indie bookstores, writing contests, and more.New Pages

Literary magazines and writing contests have been a traditional training ground for aspiring writers for years. Some magazines pay. Some don’t. Contests usually pay, but sometimes offer publication and author’s copies. Either way, they give writers a way to practice their craft and potentially earn a few dollars and some writing references.

If you look at the website of a successful author, you will often see a long list of literary magazines where his/her work has appeared; so, too, grants and fellowships. Traditionally, mainstream/large press publishing has found these credentials more important than some of the newer small presses because the “resume material” helped show an aspiring writer had already received some validation elsewhere. While those who self publish don’t need a resume to publish a Kindle or CreateSpace book, magazine credits and awards still look nice on the website.

Many writers rely on the Poets & Writers database of upcoming writing competitions, grant opportunities, and fellowships. As a writer, I think more is more when it comes to keeping up with resources. So, I highly recommend New Pages. They offer multiple resources in addition to information about literary magazines, bookstores, competitions, as well as book reviews.  One unique feature is their publication of the titles of books received for review. This is kind of nice whether your book is reviewed there or not.

They also review literary magazines and keep readers up to date on news magazines. This feature helps authors choose where to submit as well as an easy way to learn more about the magazines before sending in an MS.

This is a writer-friendly site with multiple menu selections, options, and resources. It’s been around for a while and has a good handle on the subjects it presents.

Malcolm

Malcolm R. Campbell’s short story “Shock Treatment” appears in the Tulip Tree Publishing’s 2019 anthology “Stories That Need to be Told.”

 

 

 

Creating ARC Copies: A How-To

Once upon a time, Publisher’s Weekly asked for a review copy of a children’s book our small press had in the works. We were new to the business then and had no clue how to accommodate them, so we lost the opportunity for a high-profile review. Ouch! Now that I know better, I won’t make the same mistake again. Better still, I’ll share what I’ve learned so you won’t, either.

Source: Creating ARC Copies: A How-To | Celebrating Independent Authors

I saw a post by author Hope Clark in which she said that she buys copies of her books and sends them out to her favorite readers prior to publication so that then her books go live, there’s a batch of reviews ready to go. (She’s at a mid-seized publisher and buys the books at cost because many publishers don’t send out review copies any more.)

For the same reason, think about creating advance reader copies (ARCs) of your books so that you can send them to review sites before your books are published. In fact, major review sites won’t look at a book after its publication date; many of them expect a copy four months in advance.

You may not get in Kirkus or Book List, but it’s worth the time an effort, I think, to try. This post at Indies Unlimited takes you through the basics. Reviews early on in a book’s life not only draw more readers but improve how your book is displayed on sites like Amazon or in book newsletters.

Malcolm

 

Review: ‘The President is Missing by Clinton and Patterson

The President Is MissingThe President Is Missing by Bill Clinton
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

Those of us who write novels would probably sell out our own grandmothers to collaborate with a former popular President of the United States. The good news is this: the book delivers.

I found myself thinking about the mechanics of collaboration. Did Clinton approach Patterson or did Patterson approach, Clinton? Who wrote what? Who thought of the plot? We may never know. But the plot and presentation succeed because they focus on cyber-warfare or cyber-terrorism, both of which seem to be a real threat these days. That’s the strength of the story: it focuses on a fear many of us have.

The President of the book is believable. (I would hope so.) He’s facing prospective impeachment, something the country lives with every day. He takes risks that make sense to the reader even before we know the extent of the danger. What more could one ask of a chief executive?

We have an unusual mix here: prospective terrorists offering to help the U.S. A potential traitor in the administration’s inner circle. Who can the President trust? The reader might wonder, has any of this happened already and still remains classified?

The novel has a satisfactory conclusion. I could have done without the Presidential address to Congress near the end of the novel because it focused not only on the political polarization within the novel but spoke the polarization of views outside the novel, that is to say, the fact that parties and individuals can’t seem to work together for the common good. Yes, they should be able to do that, but the end of the novel seemed to be a bit of an editorial.

This novel is an entertaining read about issues that might (one day or already) impact the U.S. and other Western nations. It’s food for thought about our dependence on the Internet and about how the nation could or should react to cyber threats. One suspects that Clinton’s knowledge of the presidency brings realism to the story. The scary thing about the book–and why one keeps reading–is that it seems all too real.

Malcolm

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Review: ‘Redemption Road’ by John Hart

Redemption RoadRedemption Road by John Hart
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

There’s enough darkness in this book to cause an eclipse of the sun soon after you begin reading. Elizabeth, the protagonist is a good cop with a good heart that is filled with life-affirming love and infinite grit. Her past was cruel to her and it’s neither gone nor forgotten.

Her story in this thriller will carry you through the darkness stemming from multiple characters whose self-righteous evil is as unflinching as Elizabeth’s heart. Thirteen years prior to the beginning of the novel, a policeman was convicted of killing a young woman and leaving her body on the altar of the church where Elizabeth’s father preaches. Elizabeth, who was a rookie cop at the time thought he was wrongly convicted. As a cop, he has a hard time surviving prison. When he gets out, the killings start again with the same MO. This appears to prove that everyone else on the police force is right about him and that Elizabeth is naive.

Meanwhile, Elizabeth is having her own troubles with the authorities over a case she’s involved in. The plot is complex and well constructed, the writing is superb, and the characters have more dimensions, secrets, and agonies than you can shake a stick at. At all times, the notion of a redemption road out of this chaos seems to many as an unlikely nirvana or simply a dead end.

The story is adeptly told and highly recommended.

–Malcolm

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