The Sun Singer's Travels

Malcolm R. Campbell's World

Which mobster am I? Give me a break.

Do you ever wonder (and, if you don’t, why not?) if some people on Facebook have too much time on their hands. Some days, my news feed there is overrun by people posting new stuff every five minutes. Some of these people have full time jobs with (a) nothing to do, (b) no supervision, or (c) a mandate from management to annoy others.

Those tidal waves of posts are often slogans, ads for products, political jousting, and everything but words that actually engage the readers.

Among the worthless posts are the tons of purported quizzes (which, in reality, supply personal information to advertisers) with questions like:

  • Which Star Wars character are you?
  • Which famous writer would you like to be?
  • If you ran a bordello, which of your friends would work there?
  • And, the one I just noticed yesterday: “Which Mafioso am I?”

mobsterGive me a break.

Why would I want to pretend to have anything in common with a killer, pimp, extornist, or thug?

Now, if the software was actually hooked up to the Akashic records (that cosmic database that knows more about each of us than the FBI, NSA, Facebook, and Google) and could tell me that I was the reincarnation of Machine Gun Kelley or Ma Barker, that might be information I could use. Especially if I learned enough secrets to write a tell-all novel.

I suspect the “Which Mobster Am I?” quiz is hooked up to a random number generator that spits out a picture and some murder stats about one of several mobsters and then proclaims, “Malcolm, you are Al Capone.” Great, now I feel like a real scumbag.

Once you post this on your Facebook profile, all your friends chime in with smiley faces and/or confessions of which mobsters they were.

And we claim to be adults–apparently, with time to kill.



Memory Lane: Lovett’s Grocery

Florida Memory photo

Florida Memory photo

When I mentioned a Winn & Lovett grocery store in my 1950s-era novel Eulalie and Washerwoman, I was walking down memory lane to the name displayed on many grocery stories in the Florida Panhandle when I was in grade school. The stores, which were also branded as Lovett’s, could be found in many southern towns.

The current name, Winn-Dixie, came about when Winn & Lovett acquired Dixie Home Stores out of Greenville, South Carolina, in 1955. The company dominated the Southern grocery scene until Publix and Walmart appeared and began stealing away its customers.

I like shopping at Publix and detest shopping at Walmart, but along with A&P, I still miss the Winn-Dixie chain as it was in its heyday.




How to Boost a Post on Facebook

“In this tutorial, I’ll show you how to boost individual posts to get them in front of more people.”

Source: How to Boost a Post on Facebook – Indies Unlimited

facebookUnfortunately, whether you’re using a Facebook profile or a page, a relatively small number of your friends (or those who’ve LIKED the page) see your posts. However, when you make important announcements like newly released book or other product, you can “boost” the status update to a targeted audience for a relatively low fee.

I’ve been doing this for a long time, so it’s nice seeing this tutorial by Melinda Clayton that shows those who haven’t yet discovered the feature just how to set it up.


I’ve stopped counting the dust bunnies

With the arrival of out-of-town company imminent, one finds out just how messed up the house has gotten since the last time everything was dusted, vacuumed, polished, scrubbed and mopped.

mopbucketWhen we were first married, my wife and I cleaned the house every Saturday because we were brought up right. On the plus side of this effort, we felt virtuous. We also felt safe, knowing that if the phone rang and somebody announced they were dropping by in a few minutes, we didn’t have to worry about the house looking like we lost our brooms and sponges during World War II.

As time goes by, one forgets bits and pieces of being brought up right. House cleaning turns into an every other Saturday kind of thing. If there are other things to do, maybe the guest bathroom gets skipped one week and the mirrors and windows aren’t Windexed the following week.

Those of you who have pets know all the ways they contribute to the general deteriorating of the homestead and how–no matter how many times they are asked–the refuse to clean up after themselves. We find so much cat hair strewn around the house from our three kitties, that we wonder why they aren’t bald. And we also wonder how pieces of cat litter can get tracked to the far ends of the house.

Today, the cats have been freaked out and in the way. This always happens when brooms and mops come out, when the base boards get scrubbed, when they can see me on the porch cleaning the outsides of the windows in the front door. This means they’re underfoot and when their tales get stepped on, all hell breaks loose.

catsblackSo far, nobody’s been injured today. When the wastebasket got knocked over spilling junk onto the bathroom floor I just finished mopping, no cats were harmed because they beamed out of the room at the speed of light. After all the racket, they kept their distance for a while and that suited me just fine.

Most of the house is cleaned up now. Seems like a good time for a glass of Scotch, but seriously, it’s not good to start having one’s first drink of the day at 1:30 p. m. Once you justify that, it’s easy to justify having it at noon and then breakfast. The only good thing about that, is getting too drunk to clean up the house.

But then, the cats will start complaining about me and the joint will be a mess when the company show up.

Maybe it would be easier to hire a maid service or live in a fancy hotel suite.


ewkindlecoverWhen I’m not cleaning the house, I’m writing magical books like “Eulalie and Washerwoman” and “Conjure Woman’s Cat.”

Poets & Writers Information Clearing House

I enjoy reading this magazine. I also enjoy its online presence from writers’ news to the database of grants and competitions. However, the page filled with links to Poets & Writers articles is a must, especially for new writers. This solid information is so much better than the quasi-SPAM webinars and pitches that appear in our e-mail in-baskets and litter our Facebook newsfeeds.

Here are the topics: Literary Journals and Magazines; Publishing Your Book; Literary Agents; Creative Writing Contests and Competitions; Vanity Publishers; Copyright Information for Writers; Book Promotion & Publicity; Writers Conferences, Colonies, and Workshops; MFA Programs, Literary Organizations; Self-Publishing.

And here’s the link:

Click on the graphic.

Click on the graphic.

It’s like a goldmine. Maybe better.

Here’s hoping all of you had a wonderful Thanksgiving and are enjoying a day off, or possible a day fighting a locusts’ plague of shoppers out at the Black Friday sales.




Bone tired and doing nothing

To every thing there is a season, and a time to every purpose under the heaven:
a time to be born, and a time to die; a time to plant, and a time to pluck up that which is planted.

Ecclesiastes 3:1 – 3:2

In 1962, a folk group I liked at the time, The Limeliters, released “To Everything There is A Season,” their version of the song popularly known as “Turn Turn Turn,” written by Pete Seeger and made popular by The Byrds’ 1965 version. I’ve always liked the song and the approach many singers and groups have taken with it.

byrdsThe song comes out of an ancient idea in many traditions, the cycles of nature, of birth and re-birth, of transformation, of the soul’s progress and the seed’s progress. All these stories overlap. I don’t think I quite understood all this when I first played that Limeliters song on my record player.

I’m an Autumn and Winter person, so I definitely don’t suffer from seasonal affective disorder (SAD). But, after too many trips to doctors and hospitals this year, after releasing a new book and wondering what they next one will be, after the Georgia drought, and after all the rancor of a highly polarized Presidential election, I’m more than ready for a rest. As we say in the South, I’m bone tired.

It’s not a good tired or a bad tired, though it has elements of both. I’m too tired to write new stuff, hence the absence of dozens of scintillating posts. I’m not actively working on the next novel. I’m reading a lot, always good, but otherwise doing nothing–except for household chores.

I’m always energized by the holidays and cold weather, but that doesn’t mean I’m the life of the party. More like a seed gathering in handfuls of possibilities for Spring. Being quiet deep in the earth is essential to the life of a seed and the tree or grass or flower it will become. I think the same thing, figuratively speaking, is essential for humankind.

So, while there are days I get impatient and wish the next novel were underway, I’m not worried or sad about this time of waiting because, without it, our ultimate growth would be stunted.

How about you? Do you find Winter a great time for being quiet and simply enjoying what you have while prospective dreams and goals simmer on the back burner?



If you want to succeed at self-publishing, don’t be discouraged

“I strongly recommend resisting the urge to publish your first work as quickly as possible. Rather, proof it, reread it, get comments, proof it again, and devise a pre- and post-publishing marketing plan…Don’t be discouraged by rejection or settle for good-enough. In marketing-speak, make it the highest quality product you humanly can, and — with some doggedness and hard work on your part — the product will then sell itself.”

Source: Want to Succeed at Self-Publishing? Don’t Be Discouraged: Tips from an Indie Author

Ben Batchelder has certainly been there and done that even though writing wasn’t his first career.

I like his message partly because I hear a lot of indie authors talking about speeding things into print, getting as much stuff out there as possible, and–often–skipping the quality control side of the work.

What’s the rush, I often wonder.



This and that about books (while drinking a glass of water)

Usually, a glass of wine is called for while writing my this and that posts. It’s too early in the day for that, and with the Georgia drought and its mandatory water restrictions, water may soon cost more than booze.

Here’s the latest news:

  • atravessiadecoraA Travessia a Cora, the Portuguese edition  of my paranormal short story “Cora’s Crossing” was released today on iTunes, Nook, Kobo, Sribd, and is coming soon on Kindle.  Publisher’s description: Two young men are mysteriously drawn to an old bridge during a rogue thunderstorm, where they discover the dead are waiting to speak and their lives are in jeopardy when they help an injured young woman they find beside the road. “Cora’s Crossing” was inspired by the now-abandoned Bellamy Bridge (which the author last saw 50 years ago) over the Chipola River near the town of Marianna in the Florida Panhandle, and the local folk legend that claims the bridge is haunted by a 175-year-old ghost who died tragically on her wedding night when her dress caught fire.
  • Conjure Woman’s Cat: Thank you to everyone who entered the recent free Amazon give-away in which Kindle copies went to to the five winners. I hope you enjoy this 1950s’-era novel set in the Florida Panhandle about a conjure woman who fights the KKK with folk magic.
  • ewkindlecoverEulalie and Washerwoman: My publisher is currently reviewing the narrator’s sound files for the upcoming audiobook edition. If all goes well, I hope it will be available before Christmas. Publisher’s short description: Torreya, a small 1950s Florida Panhandle town, is losing its men. They disappear on nights with no moon and no witnesses. Foreclosure signs appear in their yards the following day while thugs associated with the Klan take everything of value from inside treasured homes that will soon be torn down. The police won’t investigate, and the church keeps its distance from all social and political discord.
  • Smoky Zeidel Interview:  Here’s an interesting interview from one of my collegues at Thomas-Jacob Publishing. She’s the author of The Cabin (novel) and Sometimes I Think I Am Like Water (poetry), both of which are on sale today on Amazon.
  • claytonmisunderstoodA Woman Misunderstood, the second novel in Melinda Clayton’s Tennessee Delta Series will be released December 1 from Thomas-Jacob Publishing.  The novel follows Blessed Are the Wholly Broken (2013). Clayton is also the author of the Cedar Hollow Series. A Woman Misunderstood is available for pre-order on Amazon. Publisher’s short description: On a sweltering July morning in rural Tennessee, fifty-year-old Rebecca Reynolds visits the family farm, where she literally stumbles across the mutilated bodies of her parents and younger sister, a sister who had spent life in a wheelchair after a birth fraught with complications.

According to Georgia’s mandatory water restrictions, odd people get to water plants outside on Sundays and Thursdays after 4 p.m. and throughout the night. That means that while you’re watching football, taking a nap or getting ready for supper, I’ll be dragging a hose around the yard. Yeah, I know you’re worried about me.



Review: ‘The Rabbi, The Goddess, and Jung’

First published in Literary Aficionado

The Rabbi, The Goddess, and Jung: Getting the Word from Within

Review by Malcolm R. Campbell

In the introduction to this spiritual and psychological collection of essays, poet and Jungian analyst Naomi Ruth Lowinsky writes, “I didn’t have to account to God or my analyst for why I wasn’t Moses, or for that matter, Jung. I had to account for why I wasn’t Naomi.”

This visionary collection follows the transformations that molded Lowinsky from the prima materia of her young self in chaos and doubt into the Naomi that life and the gods were waiting for her to discover.

Readers of The Rabbi, the Goddess, and Jung witness outrageous fortune’s wont to injure seekers of the voice within with the arrows from its quiver of devils, demons, shadows, temptations and tricks. Ultimately, when the seeker hears and responds in harmony to that voice, s/he discovers the meaning of Joseph Campbell’s promise that “The privilege of a lifetime is being who you are” and that the Tewa prayer’s answer from nature’s light in “Song of the Sky Loom” is a Garment of Brightness.

In “My Lady Tree,” Lowinsky writes that “Words bring the raw stuff of emotion and experience into a focused form that we can share; they bring the prima material of the unconscious into consciousness; they tell our stories.” Late in the book in “Grandmother Spider’s Song,”—in contemplating the state of the planet and humankind’s relationship to it—she tells one of her inner mentors that she doesn’t know what to do. The mentor responds, “You’re missing the obvious fact that’s right under your nose. Your tool is poetry. That’s what you do.”

Every section of this book is richly illustrated by Lowinsky’s poetry, her response to the sights, sounds and voices of her journey from a lady tree she drew as a child, to her experiences with a secular Jewish upbringing, analysis, India, Africa, the forgotten feminine, Jung, Faust, alchemy, Kabbalah, old gods, spirits and the living Earth.

From “Lady Tree”:
You have written the book
Of life Your roots know sky
Your branches know down
below ground water
You drink from my dreams

From “Your People are My People”:
Your people are the drum beat people the field holler
People the conjure people Blues people Jubilee people people who talk
Straight to God Your people are the Old Man River people
The Drinking Gourd people singing the Lord’s song
                                                                            in a strange land

From “Sisters of My Time”:
What became of our fierce flowering? Don’t you remember
how that Old Black Magic revealed Herself to us—gave us the fever
the crazy nerve to burn bras, leave husbands, grow animal hair?
We knew Her belly laugh, Her sacred dance
Her multiple orgasms—It was our period.

Lowinsky brings to her search for herself and to this book an exquisite facility with words, a Jungian’s knowledge of consciousness and symbols, the ability to synthesize the common threads of diverse peoples and cultures into a universal whole where opposites disappear, an adept approach to dreams and active imagination, a cast of wise inner mentors, and an abiding love of the creaturehood of the sacred Earth.

Her path is not a recipe for her readers’ paths because her readers have widely varied ancestors, upbringings, goals and skills. Instead, The Rabbi, the Goddess, and Jung is a wise and loving demonstration of a path, flaws and doubts included, that inspires rather than prescribes.

Lowinsky recalls walking a labyrinth and hearing Earth’s voice telling her that staying in balance is what it’s all about. She goes home and reads in a book in her library that the chaos of a labyrinth opens up the mind to new and transcendent dimensions. “The world,” she writes, “is still as big a mess as it was before I entered that labyrinth. But I feel more balanced, rewoven into earth and soul.”

Reading the spell cast by the words of the prose and poetry of The Rabbi, the Goddess, and Jung will disturb the minds of readers walking the labyrinths of their lives enough to help unlock the silent inner voice and the journey toward the privilege of a lifetime.

TITLE: The Rabbi, The Goddess, and Jung: Getting the Word from Within
AUTHOR: Naomi Ruth Lowinsky
PUBLISHER: Fisher King Press
ISBN: 9781771690362

That elusive racial equality

A 2014 USA Today article “Equality still elusive 50 years after Civil Rights Act” notes that “Blacks have made many economic and educational gains, but progress still falls short.”

After so much recent racial unrest, some people might say that article is an understatement. I frankly don’t know, partly because fake news sites are putting out erroneous stories from both sides of the political aisle that skew what we know. And, some major news outlets slant their coverage so that news that might balance out stories about nasty incidents isn’t covered.

President Johnson signing the Civil Rights Act.

President Johnson signing the Civil Rights Act.

I grew up in a segregated state that had a strong KKK. When any progress toward equality was made, or even suggested, the Klan showed up. My church split into two churches when the main downtown church welcomed Blacks. I wondered how many people in the group that split off were members of the Klan. The thing is, one seldom knew. This environment impacted my childhood due to the fear, unrest, discord and unfairness of the status quo.

Frankly, once the Civil Rights Act of 1964 was passed, I thought we’d begin to see progress. It never dawned on me then that 50 years later that so much racial inequality, distrust and outright hatred would still exist. I guess I was more naive than I knew.

I didn’t write Conjure Woman’s Cat and Eulalie and Washerwoman because I thought they would impact the current national dialogue about race. I wrote them primarily because I needed to speak to the fear and uncertainty I saw as a child in hopes of finding closure, and secondarily to remind people of a discouraging part of our history. It goes without saying, I suppose, that I also wanted to tell interesting and compelling stories.

I also grew up seeing that the Black church and the folk magic components of Black culture were being maligned. So I wanted to present fair and hopefully accurate stories that took those realities seriously–along with the blues music so closely associated with them–instead of as the targets of stereotype slurs I still hear too much of today. I hope readers will enjoy a look at these realities that’s both entertaining and a breath of fresh air.

I’m writing this post because racial issues are so much in the news today that I’m constantly forced back into memories of my childhood where–as I said somewhere in another post–I lost my innocence about our school lessons teaching us that everyone is treated equally socially, economically and legally. Writing these novels helped me sort out a lot of things, but I’m still waiting for closure.


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