‘Emily’s Stories’ book club information

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Available on Kindle, audiobook and paperback

Available on Kindle, audiobook and paperback

Emily’s Stories, my three-story set about a teenager who is very much at home using both logic and information from birds and spirits, is intended for families and teens. If your book club is looking for stories that work for discussions that parents and children can all take part in, here is a packet with starter discussion questions and other information you can use when deciding if this short book will work wonderfully for your club.

Emily’s Stories Book Club Extras

Emily Walters is a sharp, inquisitive fourteen-year-old north Florida girl who loves maps, her rusty old bike, and the forest behind her house. Sometimes her dreams tell her the future and sometimes her waking hours bring wise birds and other spirits into her life. In these three short stories, join Emily in adventures and mysteries.

When her family vacations in the mountains in “High Country Painter,” a wise Pine Siskin tells her she must quickly learn how to paint dreams into reality to prevent an afternoon hike from becoming a tragedy.

In “Map Maker,” she’ll need her skills—and the help of a Chuck-will’s-widow—to fight a developer’s plans for from bulldozing the sacred forest behind her house and replacing it with a subdivision.

In “Sweetbay Magnolia,” she’ll learn the secrets of her grandmother’s favorite tree, the crumbling almost-forever house down on the river, and why some ghosts would rather visit than haunt.

REVIEWS

I’ve recommended this audiobook more than any other I’ve listened to… The kid is powerful because she can see & hear the beauty and the magic in Nature. This audiobook has the coldest, scariest ghost voice in the world and also the wonderful open, free and uninhibited voice of ‘Emily’. AND the voices of birds and much more. The widest range of voices I’ve heard from a narrator. And all seemed real, not forced. I believed it – I believed this could happen. – M. Stein

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A Magical story… You know how people sometimes say to children they have old souls. Well Emily is one of them. The way this fourteen year old sees everything around her was what captured my heart. This author more. … Emily is easily related too, well for me that was. She lives with her engineer father. The relationship between them is what every relationship should be like between father and daughter. It’s a beautiful one to read. She got her grandmother’s gift of sight and gets revealed through her dreams. It’s a world as real as yours and mine but it has a hint of magic and a slight bit paranormal as a ghost makes it appearance when danger is near. What I absolutely loved about this was that it had that reality to it. It feels so real and sure that this can happen.

Want to see more from Malcolm Campbell! In “Emily’s Stories,” author Malcolm R. Campbell captures the sweet, quirky essence of his young main character. Three stories offer snippets of Emily Walter’s world and the love of nature she shares with her father. She’s only fourteen, yet she understands much more of life than most teens her age. Her dreams hint of the future, and even her waking hours fill with spirits and birds that speak a special truth.

The only issue I found with this enchanting set of stories was its brevity (and this is based on my wishes). Emily cries out for a novel-length book, where Mr. Campbell can delve deeper into the special trust between the young girl and her father, and the legends behind her grandmother’s favorite Sweetbay Magnolia. But this is a good thing, that as a reader, I long for more. “Emily’s Stories” is a sound, fun read. I hope to see more of Emily and her unusual take on the world. Bravo, Malcolm! –Rhett DeVane, author of “Elsbeth and Sim” and “Suicide Supper Club”

Book Club Discussion Guide

YA Version

  1. es2014audioDo you have a favorite place to go like the woods behind Emily’s house in “Map Maker” that you think will be there forever? How will you feel if you ever go back and find that somebody put a house or a store there? Would you wish you’d known how to save it or at least had thought to take more pictures of it the way it was?
  2. In “Sweetbay Magnolia,” Emily learns that her grandmother had a secret reason for loving the white-blossomed tree in her back yard. Can you imagine your grandparents being young and in love with suitors? Your parents?
  3. In “High Country Painter” and “Sweetbay Magnolia,” Emily hangs out with her dad in such an easy relationship they can even poke fun at each other. Do you experience this kind of camaraderie with either or both of your parents?
  4. Emily rides her bike everywhere in “Map Maker,” exploring her entire neighborhood. Have you done this kind of exploring, wanting to know what’s happening on every street and vacant lot?
  5. Is there a time in your life when you thought there were things to learn from the birds and animals like Emily does in “Map Maker” and “High Country Painter,” as though they might even have important messages for you?
  6. In “Sweetbay Magnolia,” Emily is very accepting of the idea that a ghostly captain could appear out of the fog on his tugboat and converse with her. Is this ability to seek out, experience and believe in magic as a child something that is lost when children grow up? When you become an adult, where does this belief go?
  7. “Sweetbay Magnolia” question for North Florida Readers: Have you had an opportunity to visit St. Marks and explore the ruins of San Marcos de Apalache Historic State Park, the nearby wildlife refuge or head upriver toward the long-gone town of Magnolia and hear the old stories about the 1850s steam-powered tugboat called the Spray that once patrolled the river? That boat, which saw brief action in the Civil War, was the inspiration for the tugboat in the story.

Adult/Family Version

  1. I grew up in north Florida where Emily lives. In fact, her family lives in my family's old house!

    I grew up in north Florida where Emily lives. In fact, her family lives in my family’s old house! They’re not stuck with that old 1950s car, though.

    When you were growing up, did you have a favorite place to play like the woods behind Emily’s house in “Map Maker” that you thought would be there forever? As an adult, did you ever go back and find that somebody put a house or a store there and wished you’d known how to save it or at least had thought to take more pictures of it the way it was?

  2. In “Sweetbay Magnolia,” Emily learns that her grandmother had a secret reason for loving the white-blossomed tree in her back yard. When you were fourteen, could you imagine your grandparents being young and in love with suitors?
  3. In “High Country Painter” and “Sweetbay Magnolia,” Emily hangs out with her dad in such an easy relationship they can even poke fun at each other. Did you experience this kind of camaraderie with either or both of your parents?
  4. Emily rode her bike everywhere in “Map Maker,” exploring her entire neighborhood. Did you do this? If you have children, do they do this, wanting to know what’s happening on every street and vacant lot?
  5. Was there ever a time in your life when you thought there were things to learn from the birds and animals like Emily does in “Map Maker” and “High Country Painter,” as though they might even have important messages for you.
  6. In “Sweetbay Magnolia,” Emily is very accepting of the idea that a ghostly captain could appear out of the fog on his tugboat and converse with her. Is this ability to seek out, experience and believe in magic as a child something that is lost when the children grow up?
  7. “Sweetbay Magnolia” question for North Florida Readers: Have you had an opportunity to visit St. Marks and explore the ruins of San Marcos de Apalache Historic State Park, the nearby wildlife refuge or head upriver toward the long-gone town of Magnolia and hear the old stories about the 1850s steam-powered tugboat called the Spray that once patrolled the river? That boat, which saw brief action in the Civil War, was the inspiration for the tugboat in the story.

Audiobook

Kelley inn her Studio

Kelley in her Studio

Emily’s Stories is narrated and produced by Storyteller Productions – Kelley Hazen and Bruce Carver – of Los Angeles, California. The boutique, state-of-the-art studio offers full recording services featuring intuitive narration.

For Emily’s Stories, Kelley found pictures of the birds that became such important characters for Emily and clips on YouTube by avid birders who had recorded the cry of each of these birds. Then when she gave the bird characters voices or imitated their calls, she made it sound as much like that bird in real life as she was able.

Your club can see a sneak peek video for Emily’s Stories on YouTube.

 

Malcolm R. Campbell, the author of contemporary fantasy novels and paranormal short stories also wrote “Cora’s Crossing” and “Moonlight and Ghosts,” both of which are also set in north Florida. These Kindle stories were combined into “Malcolm Campbell’s Spooky Stories” which–like “Emily’s Stories–has a great audio version.

“Should” and “Ought” – two words I distrust

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“I think that word “should” in our internal narratives is very toxic—this notion of, ‘what should I be doing?’ and it’s always pegged to some sort of expectation, whether it’s self-imposed or external or a combination of the two. It’s hard to balance those expectations of what you should be doing with what you want to be doing. I feel very fortunate in that to a large extent what I do is exactly what I want to be doing for myself, and I still write for an audience of one. I read things that stimulate me and inspire me and help me figure out how to live and then I write about them. The fact that there are other people who enjoy it is nice, but it’s just a byproduct.” – Maria Popova in an interview with Jocelyn K. Glei

gamespeopleDuring the 1960s and 1970s when Eric Berne, Thomas Harris and others were popularizing the role of psychological games in our lives while suggesting transactional analysis as a way to escape them, the words “should” and “ought” were singled out as parental words. That is, they appeared in the daily string of DOs and DON’Ts we heard from our parents, teachers and other authority figures when we were young.

These parental injunctions, as they were called, were often heard time and time again by children until the rules within them became–for better or worse–so much a part of our view of the world, they were hard to separate from facts. Simplistically, this happened because we were too young to know the difference between fact and opinion and–as some said–became brainwashed into believing things that weren’t totally true and/or didn’t need to become a long term mantra for our lives.

Berne, when he took his theory of games into script theory, told us that combinations of “shoulds” and “oughts” and attitudes and coping mechanisms would often become engraved in stone as scripted ways of approaching various situations (or life itself) that worked more like canned computer programs rather than dynamic and authentic behavior.

Human Relations Training

When I wrote training materials in corporate settings in those days, transactional analysis was adapted by many as viable model in human relations and supervision/management courses, resulting in seminars, courses and newsletters. My exposure to all this–as a writer and not as a psychologist–influenced my view of human interactions.

IOKYOKConsequently, I am sensitized to any rule, prescription or sermon that sounds like a parental injunction being imparted to others who are supposed to accept it without question because it comes from an authority figure (parent, grandparent, doctor, minister, boss, “expert,” givernment agency). I automatically want to know why SHOULD I do ABC or why OUHGT I believe XYZ.

Sometimes, the SHOULDs and OUGHTs are correct. “You should look both ways before crossing a street.” “You ought to avoid bullying other people with fists or words.” “You should not put metal in a microwave or sugar in a gas tanke or text with your cell phone while driving.”

Since we can think of so many good examples of such rules, we often assume all of the SHOULDs and OUGHTs we hear are valid. That’s where the danger lies. A lot of our prejudices arise this way. So do a lot of our assumptions about what we can do or become in our lives.

Yes, I Always Question Authority

I would rather question what some say should never be questioned than blindly accept every SHOULD and OUGHT as gospel. My training in journalism trained me to check and double-check facts. My creating of supervisory and management courses using game and script theory concepts trained me to look carefully at everything every authority figure says.

Perhaps I’ve over-thought a lot that could have been accepted without question. Likewise, being wary of the SHOULDs and OUGHTs also frees up the imagination and unchains ones thinking when it comes to their ongoing life experience.

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  • You can learn more about Eric Berne and transactional analysis here.
  • The International Transactional Analysis Association has a website here.

–Malcolm

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

RHP—New Division, New Imprints!

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Originally posted on Robin Writes:

Some of you may have heard, via social media, that RHP is expanding. Yay, us! We just brought out two new imprints, and added staff!

First, we will now be listing all of our literary fiction under the imprint Equidae. Oh, it’s still Rocking Horse Publishing, never fear, but we’re at the point now where we can specialize a bit. The release of The Fires of Waterland gives us two lit-fic titles, as Danny’s Grace will be moved to Equidae as well.

What the heck does that even mean? Glad you asked. “Equidae” is the Latin term, as in taxonomy, for “a family of perissodactyl ungulate mammals including the horses, asses, zebras, and various extinct related mammals,” as per Webster’s.

Second, since we have had such success with Spirits of St. Louis: Missouri Ghost Stories, we’ve opened up a new division/imprint for anthologies.

Our intent is to publish…

View original 472 more words

Sometimes Doves Think Like Hawks

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During the 1960s, the so-called “flower children” suggested that we sit down with our worst enemies and sing songs, share a meal, have a few beers or maybe some pot, and “give peace a chance.” While I was (and still am) a pacifist, that approach sounded naive and unworkable.

It’s easy when a war is far away to say, that’s a civil war and should be decided by the people who live there. It’s harder to say that when the war is on your doorstep or the news is broadcasting a steady stream of information about the kinds of atrocities now being perpetrated by ISIS in northern Iraq in the name of their religious and cultural views.

Like most doves, I have a few hot buttons that make me think more like a hawk. I have no patience when it comes to crimes against women (stoning, mutilation, honor killings) or crimes against peoples (such as the Yazidi) based on the absurd, stone-age belief that one’s god wants them to do such things. It’s especially sad for a dove whose beliefs are based on a spiritual foundation, to see the horror committed by others in the name of a religion.

Generally, I’m tolerant of other religions and really feel no missionary zeal whatsoever to tell people who are worshiping their god to stop doing it and come worship my god. I don’t know why so many people care about the spiritual practices of others.

I grow intolerant, though, when anyone says their god is telling them to kill me or torture me. I see no spiritual component whatsoever in such attitudes and as an angry dove, I quickly think “those people are worshiping a misguided tradition rather than a god.” And, as a dove who is being pushed by circumstance to think like a hawk, I think that if I were flying a drone over a bunch of men about to kill women and chidren for purportedly religious reasons, I would fire a Hellfire missile.

The issues, of course, are larger than one band of religious thugs, and one or two Hellfire missiles. We cannot kill every ISIS thug. And right now, we don’t know how to change their minds. Perhaps some day we will figure out what makes them tick and how to stop it. Until then, the atrocities are mounting up in real time and they require us, I think, to take a pragmatic look at how we should respond as civilized and sympathetic people.

Doing little or nothing should not be the default answer to ethnic cleansing against entire peoples or faith-based crimes against women.

–Malcolm

 

Lame author’s questions and answers

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Stewart

Stewart

Our guest today is Jock Stewart of Junction City, Texas. He’s the star of Jock Stewart and the Missing Sea of Fire, a loose biographical tail, and the author of Jock Stewart Strikes Back.

Stewart: Before you start asking me questions, I want to know where the hell your copy editor is. Look at the title. Makes me look like I’m lame. The questions and answers are lame. “Sea of Fire” isn’t a loose biographical tail, it’s a loosely biographical tale.

MRT: Thank you for acting like a grammar nazi before we hit the questions your readers came here to read. So, tell us about yourself?

Stewart: That’s not a bloody question, it’s an order and I don’t like it. What it shows me is this: you didn’t do your homework before starting this interview. If you had, you’d be asking me questions like, “Were you really raised by alligators in a Florida swamp?” and “Why did you ditch gossip columnist Monique Starnes in favor of shacking up with the mayor’s wife.” But I’m not talking about that. As for me, I’m a newspaper reporter of the old school. Old school reporters smoke cigarettes, drink, shack up with women and do their homework before interviewing people.

MRT: Where do you get your ideas?

Stewart: God help us from questions like that. I get them from the editor. He says, “Stewart, get your ass in here.” Here is is office which is filled with cigarette smoke. There’s usually a gun on the desk. Then he says, “A source told me somebody got killed behind the windmill at the miniature golf course. Go out there and find out who’s dead, how they died, and whether the windmill was damaged in any way.”

MRT: Does “any way” mean blood stains or bullet holes?

Stewart's Boss

Stewart’s Boss

Stewart: It means anything that shuts down the golf course so the kids can’t stop by an drop a few grand playing the links. Last year, the victim was left out there on the 9th hole for a couple of days and he just became another hazard. Business picked up for a while.

MRT: So, when did you first know you wanted to be a writer?

Stewart: That day still hasn’t arrived. But, if you want to know why I work for a newspaper, it’s because I think people need to know what’s happening. That requires writers. My dear old daddy once told me that I wasn’t going to amount to squat and, looking at my career, you can see that he was right. I tried too prove him wrong by going into the gigolo business, but things didn’t work out.

MRT: Where can people find you on the web?

Stewart: They can’t.

MRT: Where can they find you.

Snowden - NSA sketch artist drawing

Snowden – NSA sketch artist drawing

Stewart: If it’s Saturday night, I’m sleeping it off in the slammer. If it’s lunch time, I’m eating lunch. If it’s bedtime, I’m in somebody’s bed. Seriously, I really don’t want to see the kind of people who are usually looking for me.

MRT: What are you working on now?

Stewart: I’m working on getting the hell out of this lame interview as soon as possible. Interviews like this are a dime a dozen. That’s why you see this same list of questions on so many blogs. If you’re talking books, which I guess you must be, my work in progress is called What Edward Snowden Does When He’s Not Taking a Leak.

MRT: I hope you did your homework before you interviewed him and didn’t start out with something lame like “Tell us about yourself.”

Stewart: You’ve got that right. Before I got to Putin’s bedroom, I knew more about Snowden than all the other reporters in the free world.

MRT: Putin’s bedroom?

Putin - Predator drone imagery

Putin – Predator drone imagery

Stewart: People said they were probably in bed together. He wasn’t there, but what with all the Ukrainian separatists, the place was kind of crowded. Snowden has a rich, full life–to the extent that’s possible in a country that was filled with commies a couple of years ago and is trying to revert back to a police state mentality.

MRT: I’m looking forward to the book?

Stewart: Want to be a beta reader?

MRT: No.

Stewart: Good, because real writers don’t need beta readers to tell them how to write. God help us from people who write by committee, it you know what I mean.

MRT: I think I know, but I need to check with my blogging team here to see how to best respond to that question.

Stewart: Figures.

This interview first appeared on the Junction City (TX) Star-Gazer where people found it worked much better than the comics for lining parrot and hamster cages.

 

 

 

It’s all in what you’re used to…

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…when it comes to hot weather.

todaysweatherMy wife and I lived in houses without air conditioning when we were growing up. Her north Georgia house finally go A/C after she had long-since moved out; my north Florida house got A/C when I was in college. When hot weather came, we turned on the fans, sat on the front porch and drank iced tea, hers with sugar and mine with lemon.

Our A/C unit was limping along at the end of last week and finally quit on Sunday. Sunday’s the most popular day of the week for stuff breaking down. Fortunately, the temperature got down into the high 60s last night, so we were finally able to get some cooler air in the house.

Nonetheless, our cats acted like the A/C breakdown was our fault.

Okay, I know people are living in places where the daily temps are always over 100. I don’t want to hear about it. They’re used to it. Plus, my DNA was probably altered by the fact I was born across the bay from foggy and usually cool San Francisco. When I was a kid, 88 wasn’t too bad.

But, years of soft living with A/C, have conditioning me to need ten degrees cooler–if not more. I’m a winter person in spite of growing up in the land of hurricanes, alligators and hot weather.  So, until the repairman arrives this afternoon with a replacement part for the unit, I’m not a happy camper even though I’m not actually camping. To add insult to injury, iced tea now gives me heartburn.

Maybe we’re all just getting older. (You may want to write that down.) Maybe 88 degrees is hotter now than it was fifty years ago. Maybe it’s global warming and the weathermen have inflated the temps to keep up and it’s really 120 in the shade outside.

If worse comes to worse, I suppose we could go sit in the car with the A/C up on high.

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TSStitleTo segue to another sun-related subject, Second Wind Publishing will be releasing my novel The Sun Singer this week in e-book and paperback editions. That’s cool news after the novel has been out of print for a year. I’m looking forward to the new edition.

Malcolm

 

Clean up your plate: people are starving in. . .

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Even though this is only 212 pages, a lot of people didn't have time to finish it.

Even though this is only 212 pages, a lot of people didn’t have time to finish it.

This is a post about books even though you wouldn’t know it from the title. Hopefully, I can connect the dots with or without logic.

My brothers and I were taught that it was not only rude, but just plain wrong, to leave food on our plates. Why?

Generally speaking, food left was food wasted. Years later the giant chow hall sigh at Navy boot camp “suggested”: TAKE ALL YOU WANT BUT EAT ALL YOU TAKE.

It was okay to be a pig as long as you didn’t leave anything in the trough.

Why was leaving food wrong? Because people were starving in country XYZ. We were informed that while eating two or three times the amount of food we needed wouldn’t harm anybody, that throwing away food literally took it off their plates. Asking how that worked in practical terms was considered rude and/or that you thought your parents, school teachers and pastors were liars.

Later, we were told that books cost money (so does food, as it turned out) and that reading only half a book meant that–figuratively and/or literally speaking–you had thrown away half the book’s cover price. Of course, by today’s standards in which people are slinging books out there on Kindle for 99 cents, reading only a third of it means you only threw away 66 cents even though–had you sent that to countries where money goes farther (and often further)–life in general would be better for everyone.

The bottom line on unfinished dinners and unfinished books was shame. Whether it was Aunt Naomi’s brick-hard fruitcake or a dreadfully depressing novel like All Quiet on the Western Front, we were supposed to soldier on to the final battle no matter how much collateral damage our stomachs and psyches suffered in the process.

Lured into the book by its sexy cover, people apparently thought 21 was the number of centuries it would take to finish it.

Lured into the book by its sexy cover, people apparently thought 21 was the number of centuries it would take to finish it.

Today, that shame isn’t quite gone with the wind, but it’s getting there. In fact, reviewers on Amazon and GoodReads often confess that “This book sucks even though I stopped reading on page 10.” How brazen is that, shame-wise? You really need to finish the book because some kid in city XYZ is going without a story tonight.

Now we’re getting statistics on unfinished books. People mean well, but like boring stews and bland deserts, their eyes are bigger than their reading endurance. So, consequently, they bought “Capital in the Twenty-First Century” by Thomas Piketty and “A Brief History of Time” by Stephen Hawking seriously intending to eat up every word, but then lost interest a few pages into their literary meals.

Using something called a Hawking Index (H.I.)–explained in The Summer’s Most Unread Book Is…–scientists determined that these two books top the list of unfinished books with folks getting only 2.4% and 6.6% of the way through. These days, fewer people believe in such admonitions as TAKE ALL YOU WANT BUT READ ALL YOU TAKE.

People seem to care less about waste, shame or the value of soldiering on. We’re more comfortable with tweets, texting and sound bites, even though such things often leave us ignorant of the big pictures, full course meals and lengthy tomes the world has to offer. We’re more of a TAKE VERY LITTLE AND PURSUE IT UNTIL BORED kind of society these days. More information, words and food all require commitment and frankly, we don’t want to promise that.

I’ve been tempted of late to throw several books out the window before finishing them. But, I kept on going, not so much because people are staving for words on continent XYZ but because I didn’t have any more fresh books in the house. When that happens, it’s like throwing away your last cracker because it’s a Ritz rather than a Triscuit.

As I read on in spite of the hardships involved, I try not to feel pride for soldiering on or shame for wishing I weren’t. In case it matters, I still clean up my plate.

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You May Also Like: Can the Hawking Index tell us when people give up on books? in  The Guardian.

–Malcolm