Tag Archives: Malcolm R. Campbell

Hex Free (mostly) Halloween Book Sale

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

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

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

The Stories:

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

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

Malcolm

 

This and that on a blustery October weekend

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Sunshine and gusty weather here in northwest Georgia. Here’s a little this and that:

  1. matthew2My brother, sister in law, and publisher who live in two counties in central Florida came through the hurricane okay even though they’re still without power.
  2. As you see from the map, I live 275 miles from the Georgia coast. Sure, we have a wind advisory, but not a drop of rain. Meanwhile, my daughter and her family in Maryland will be getting rain soon if it isn’t already there. So, our drought continues while a lot of places have seen way too much water.
  3. The cover art work is done for my upcoming novel Eulalie and Washerwoman. I can’t show it to you yet because my publisher won’t be able to see it until her power comes back on. It looks good. It was done by the same artist who did the artwork for Conjure Woman’s Cat.
  4. While the hurricane was deluging Florida, I was writing a short story about a hurricane. I want you to know what I didn’t use any spells to attract Matthew even though Eulalie loves to whistle up the wind.
  5. I’ve added another poem to the selection in my Kindle stories and poems book College Avenue. When I originally uploaded the book, I couldn’t find a copy of my poem “Sock Puppet.” It first appeared in the former “Smoking Poet” Magazine, but was missing from their archives. Finally, my brother found a copy of it. Thanks, Barry.
  6. Okay, maybe I can show you a little piece of the cover art work, enough to tip you off there’s an alligator in the story:

ewgator

 

–Malcolm

This and That from, well, me

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coracoverYes, I’m the guy behind the curtain of this blog. Seemed like it was time for a books update:

  • Two more of my e-books are being translated into Italian, “Cora’s Crossing” and “Moonlight and Ghosts.” Meanwhile, we’be found a translator to create a Spanish edition of “Sarabande.”
  • The sequel to “Conjure Woman’s Cat,” “Eulalie and Washerwoman” is now on the editor’s desk. (uh oh) I’ve seen a partial version of the cover art and it’s looking good. It’s being done by the by the same artist who did the cover art for the first book.
  • For years, I’ve put off writing the third book in the Mountain Journeys Series that begins with “The Sun Singer” and then moves forward with “Sarabande.” Don’t laugh, but I didn’t start it sooner because the protagonist knows more about magic than I do, and I thought, “Well, Malcolm, how in the hell are you going to write this book.” I thought about faking it, but that seems wrong. The book’s name will be “Aeon.” Shhh, my publisher doesn’t know about it yet.
  • My review of “A Girl is a Half-Formed Thing,” which I posted here recently, also appears on Literary Aficionado. Nice to show up on that site again! It’s been a while.
  • Have you seen this article: How Long Until a Robot Wins the Pulitzer? I don’t think it will happen for a year or two. What about you?
  • Since this is banned books week, let’s end with a quote about it: “I urge everyone to celebrate Banned Books Week by picking up a book that some closed-minded person out there wanted desperately to keep out of your hands.” – Jessica Herthel
  • If any of my books are banned, I’ll be really ticked off and might even use some profanity.

Malcolm

99¢ sale for the Vietnam-era Navy novel ‘At Sea’ begins Friday

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You’ll save $3.00 off the regular price if you download my Kindle navy novel At Sea during the next several days for only 99¢. Check its listing late tonight or Friday for the sale price.

Amazon Book description

Even though he wanted to dodge the draft in Canada or Sweden, David Ward joined the navy during the Vietnam War. He ended up on an aircraft carrier. Unlike the pilots, he couldn’t say he went in harm’s way unless he counted the baggage he carried with him. As it turned out, those back home were more dangerous than enemy fire.

Inspired by my experiences on board the USS Ranger (CVA61)

Unfortunately, the Navy saw fit to scrap the historic USS Ranger rather than proactively helping convert the aircraft carrier into a viable museum. Through my fictional account, I hope that some of the ambiance of shipboard and liberty port life will live on in this novel.

From the novel

AtSeaBookCoverThe Pacific Ocean filled multiple Bluehorse and Silver Bear composition books with an assortment of facts and lies about David’s two cruises to the Western Pacific aboard the “top gun” aircraft carrier. Both cruises began and ended at Alameda, California, with a primary destination of Yankee Station one hundred miles off the coast of South Vietnam, where the aircraft carriers and other ships of the “Gulf of Tonkin Yacht Club” assembled for combat operations.

As the crow flies, Yankee Station lay 6,448 nautical miles across the blue water from the California coast. When the exercises and operations and port calls were factored into the distance, the carrier steamed about 86,000 miles per year. The ship was at sea 225.9 days in 1968, with 124 days engaged in Special Operations (SPECOPS) at Yankee Station, 61.7 days in transit, 8 days in major fleet exercises, and 32.2 days in minor fleet exercises. The ship was at sea 215.5 days in 1969, with 98.5 days of SPECOPS, 57 days in transit, 8 days of contingency operations, and 52 days for minor fleet exercises. There were 15,871 arrested landings in 1968 and 14,000 arrested landings in 1969.

By rough calculation, in 1968 and 1969, while the flight deck was secured from flight operations, David spent roughly 500 hours standing on the port side catwalk near the stern of the ship just aft of the ladder that rose up from the hangar deck past the public affairs office on the 03 level. There the ship was quiet, except for the ever-present pulse of the engines, as he stood alone with the sea. There was much to think about: two deaths, two novels, a prospective fall from grace, a marriage, and a spiritual decision.

Standing on that catwalk, he was awash in photons because the Creator, like his romantic disciple J. M. W. Turner, was a “painter of light.” All that was wrong with the world, like the monsters in Turner’s “Sunrise With Sea Monsters,” was scarcely visible because the light had not yet become heavy enough to become water, much less the darker creatures beneath the surface.

I hope you enjoy the story.

–Malcolm

Malcolm R. Campbell is also the author of “Sarabande” and “Conjure Woman’s Cat.” Both books are available in paperback, audio, and e-book editions. See my website for more information.

Announcing a new book of short stories and poems

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collegeAvenueCoverCollege Avenue, released June 3 on Kindle, features three short stories and four poems. The title story “College Avenue” is set in 1965, a time long before cell phones gave women on dark streets a viable means of calling for help. In this story, Anne tries to communicate to her far-away boyfriend how an assault by another student took place and how it has changed her.

“Mr. Déjà vu Upsets the Apple Cart” is a fanciful story about a girl selling apples who thinks a conversation with a customer has happened before. “Storybook is about a long-ago society that used a meaningful event from a young man’s formative years as a basis for his adult name. As he stands in line waiting for his new name, our protagonist can’t think of a single memorable event from his childhood. And, in “Again and Again Throughout the Long Night,” a son must tell his Alzheimer’s-stricken father that his wife has died–and that’s problematic and hurts both the father and the son.

The poems in the middle of the book are a varied batch, my hope being that each reader will find one or two that s/he likes and then move on to the rest of the stories.

I hope you enjoy the collection.

–Malcolm

 

Faerie tale in a mirror

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Once upon a time—when time was more speculative than it is today—a king and queen had no children. The lords and ladies at court watched the night skies for signs and the townspeople from shipwright to innkeeper offered prayers and charms to the realm’s gods because the court and castle were dour, grey and unhappy indeed.

The king and queen seldom ventured outside the castle walls because nature’s cycles were rich and profligate. Across the parklands and throughout the forests, bluebells, roe deer, and red kites were blessed with young past human understanding.

The royal couple consulted astrologers, crossroads spirits, and the legendary faerie in the great forest. They carried talismans, drank teas, and chanted strange combinations of awkward incantations during the blue hours and holy days. Yet no answers came.

The queen considered herself sorely lacking as the barren years grew in number like stacked-up like rushes grown foul with use. The king felt cursed for the frivolities of his youth. Desperate, the couple went to a solitary goodwife and upon the winter solstice they drank together her bitter coction of herbs prepared over an unnatural fire.

 

So it begins. You’ve been there before…a girl child is born…she’s a fetching one…but a faerie is inadvertently slighted…a curse is pronounced…ultimately she sleeps for one hundred years waiting for the kiss that will wake her up into the world.

What handsome prince wouldn’t want to kiss a young woman so beautiful, so pure. . .

WakingPlainFB

But wait!

In “Waking Plain,” my new Kindle faerie tale, the sleeper is a young prince.

They say he’s as dull as dishwater, and that is kind.

The castle is a wonderment as always. So, too, the faeries and their magic. Even the great forest surrounding the wonderment of a castle is enchanted with four-legged animals and winged creatures and flowers and trees and sunshine that are grand beyond the understanding of everyday men and women.

But if the sleeper isn’t beautiful, who will kiss him? Perhaps it’s kinder to the young man–not to mention, the world itself–to let him sleep.

I don’t mean to imply that the classic tale of “Sleeping Beauty” is sexist, only to say that it’s more realistic to ponder how it would be for an everyday kind of guy–you know, the one who would be the last one chosen for a team during recess–to wait for eternity, if not longer, for the woman of his nightmares to kiss him and re-awaken him for all to see.

They would prefer not to see him, of course, but they might, just maybe, in this faerie tale in a mirror.

–Malcolm

WakingPlainCoverInasmuch as “Waking Plain” is a Kindle faerie tale (or as Amazon calls it, a “fairy tale”), that is where you will find it, and not for a who’s-fooling-whom 99¢ but for an entire $1.00. That extra penny is your payment to the faerie world for allowing this story to be told.

 

 

 

 

 

 

Creating a Book Cover on the Cheap

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Since the release of my Vietnam novel At Sea is a relatively modest Kindle production, I didn’t want to spend money for a cover photograph, artist or a cover designer. It’s a hard choice. The expense might produce a cover that increases sales or it might run the whole project in the red.

I wanted a cover that showed readers At Sea is set on an aircraft carrier. When I was in the navy, the pictures I took as a navy journalist belonged to the navy. There are many stock images of aircraft carriers on navy sites, but they cannot be used without permission for a book cover or advertising.

Many self-published books end up with little or no art work on them and rely on print, color, and a few simple graphic shapes. I don’t think these attract attention or help sell the book. Plus, they give prospective readers little to no idea what the book might be about. I definitely needed an aircraft carrier on my book’s cover.

Finally, I found an old color slide of the USS Ranger’s flight deck I took when I was part of the crew:

flightdeckA

Several issues come to mind. Although a lot of people are doing a lot of things, the picture doesn’t have the dynamic punch it would have if it showed the ship navigating a stormy sea or a plane taking off.

Even though the color was muted due to the age of the Ektachrome slide, it still brings out detail, potentially leading some readers to infer this book is nonfiction. Also, it’s a landscape rather than a portrait photo. The first thing I did was get rid of the color:

AtSeaCoverPhoto

Now it’s less busy and the black and white photo rather lends itself to older times such as a book about a war that happened in the 1960s. Whether or not this picture would “work” depended on how it was cropped, how the title displayed, and how dramatic color might be added to the resulting book cover:

AtSeaBookCover

First, the detail has been downplayed via black and white and cropping. The cropping provided a portrait format and the added color framed the image of the two planes and the ship’s superstructure. To keep the author’s name and title from looking static, I have them displayed at an angle.

I like the two planes displayed on the cover because the main character works in the ship’s aircraft maintenance department and is best friends with one of the air wing’s pilots.

The result works for me because it came together without my having to hire an artist and/or pay for an expensive stock photo. Perhaps you would have approached it differently.

Doing a cover on the cheap won’t work if it looks cheap. Perhaps my ideas here from rough photo to finished cover will give you some ideas for your next cover.

–Malcolm

Note: Another version of this story was originally published as “The Sailor,” a book that’s now out of print.