The Sun Singer's Travels

Malcolm R. Campbell's World

Research Factoid – Heart Shield Bible

This newspaper ad appeared in 1951

This newspaper ad appeared in 1951

Hoodoo practitioners not only consider the Bible to be filled with stories of magic and powerful verses that can be used for spells, but note that from the Civil War through the Vietnam War (and possibly later) Heart Shield Bibles were popular amongst soldiers. These New Testament editions were small enough to fit in the breast pocket of a jacket or shirt and featured gold or gold-colored metal over steel that was said to be able to stop a .45 caliber bullet.

Among the manufacturers was the Protecto Bible Company of St. Louis. The covers of these bibles were often engraved with slogans such as “May this Keep You Safe from Harm” and “God’s Weapon.” They came in a 3-inch by 4.5-inch size and were 3/4-inch thick and sometimes included Psalms. Another edition contained prayers for Catholics.

Many people sent these to their loved ones easily since they often came in a ready to ship box.

During World War II, Bibles carried the inscription: “As Commander-in-Chief I take pleasure in commending the reading of the Bible to all who serve in the armed forces of the United States. Throughout the centuries men of many faiths and diverse origins have found in the Sacred Book words of wisdom, counsel and inspiration. It is a foundation of strength and now, as always, an aid in attaining the highest aspirations of the human soul.” –Franklin D. Roosevelt

protectobible2Interestingly enough, a fair number of these Bibles are currently being sold via eBay, sometimes called Shields of Faith. Did they really work? Stories from the front include statements from slightly injured men who claimed the Bibles stopped enemy rounds. Perhaps the distance traveled and angle of the incoming round made a difference.

However, there’s video on YouTube showing a man simulating a Heart Shield Bible with other materials and testing it with rounds of several calibers. All of them went through. On the other hand, since he used a phone book, those who are sold in the Heart Shield Bible will no doubt remind us that the books in the test were not Holy Writ. Here’s the video link.

The words alone, in Protestant and Catholic editions–like a pocket-sized edition a portion of the ancient Jewish mystical book The Zohar–might be enough, for they are often carried by believers who know little or nothing about the Heart Shield Bible or the hoodoo practice of carrying Bibles and selected Bible verses for general good luck and protection.








New edition of ‘Carrying Snakes Into Eden’ is Free Feb 17-19

I’ve added a second short story to my Kindle book Carrying Snakes Into Eden in this new edition now available on Amazon.

Always free on Kindle Unlimited

Always free on Kindle Unlimited

Here’s the book’s new description:

The title story, “Carrying Snakes Into Eden,” is a whimsical 1960s-era tale about two students who skip church to meet some girls at the beach and end up picking up a hobo with a sack of snakes, and realize there may be long-term consequences.

“Hurricane in the Garden” is a folktale that explains why the snakes were swept out of Eden in the first place. The story features animal characters who made their debut in the three-story set called Land Between the Rivers.

New Edition is Free On Kindle – Feb 17-29

I always intended for this to be a two-story set because the hurricane tale adds depth to the title story, however I got diverted by work on my Florida Folk Magic series longer than I expected.

By the way, I was pleased to see that Midwest Book Review liked the second book in the series, Eulalie and Washerwoman, in a review just out this month:

“A simply riveting read from beginning to end, ‘Eulalie and Washerwoman’ is very highly recommended for both personal reading lists and community library General Fiction collections. It should be noted that ‘Eulalie and Washerwoman’ is also available in a Kindle format ($4.99).” – Julie Summers


Book Marketing tips for trad published authors

“Over the course of my ongoing tour, a lot of people have asked me what it’s like working with a major publisher and how much book marketing is expected of a traditionally published author. The answer is, it’s great, but it’s also a lot of work. In fact, based on my conversations with self-published authors, I can tell you that the book marketing effort required by a traditionally published author is about 99% the same as what’s expected of a self-published writer.”

Source: Book Marketing tips for trad published authors via Mark Noce

Mark Noce’s comments may surprise some self-published and small-press-published authors who assume larger publishers do more of the promotion work. As you’ll see, that’s not possible, due to the volume of new books coming out every month.

But Mark offers some nice tips here, well worth reading.


You gotta ask yourself, “Do I feel lucky?” (nope)

Aspiring writers who have yet to publish or whose books seem to sit on Amazon with very few sales, often suggest that more successful writers were lucky–in one way or another–to become successful.

Nope, asking, “Do I feel lucky” is the wrong question (unless you are really adept at using the Law of Attraction to seemingly manifest your desires out of thin air.

goodluckIn her recent Funds for Writers newsletter, Hope Clark writes, “First of all, there is no serious luck in this business. It’s a matter of constantly putting yourself out there in terms of writing, publishing, appearing, working social media, fighting to be current, taking chances. There is no one right way or best way, only the way that happens to work for you at that moment in time. “

Sure, we hear the occasional story where an English Department student taking a short story class just happens to live next door to a senior editor at Random House who reads her story and turns it into a bestseller. But counting on that, or any other kind of lucky break, is probably worse than expecting lottery winnings to pay off your credit card debt.

Hope looked for paying markets, building up writing credits, publicizing them, and then repeating what worked to improve her Google ratings.

  • Paying markets are better resume material than free markets other than, perhaps, top-flight literary magazine that are widely known. Start with the easy markets. Work up to the harder-to-crack markets. Each level of improvement helps you break into the next level. Editors don’t credit you with much if you’re not being paid.
  • Build a website where you talk about and link to your published work, while adding value of some kind (free articles, links to writing or subject matter resources, and other interesting material that keeps people coming back. Talk about your successes in a blog, careful, though, to keep the blog interesting for readers rather than turning into an “all about me” advertisement about you. At some point, consider a newsletter to keep people up to date, especially if you start appearing at workshops and conventions and want people to know your schedule.
  • Once you find out what works, keep doing it so that you draw a following while improving your search engine ranking. The more you do within a niche, the more people who will find you, including editors who begin to notice you have a track record.
  • Use this platform as a base if and when you decide to write a novel. Your platform will show potential publishers you weren’t born yesterday and that you have a following. But don’t kill off the platform just because you’ve submitted a novel and want to quit writing nonfiction and/or short stories for magazines. Keep your audience alive because they will be interested in your books once a publisher gets interested in your books.

Maybe you’ll catch a so-called lucky break or perhaps “chance” does favor those who are prepared and who have done their homework, paid their dues, and kept trying.


Review: ‘Serafina and the Black Cloak’

Serafina and the Black Cloak by Robert Beatty (Disney-Hyperion; Reprint edition – June 14, 2016), 320 pages, Age Range: 9 – 12 years

Twelve-year-old Serafina lives secretly in her father’s basement workshop at Asheville, North Carolina’s Biltmore Estate in 1899, taking care to stay hidden from the Vanderbilts, the guests, and the servants. While he is an employee tasked with keeping the electrical and mechanical systems working, nobody knows her father lives in his workshop, much less that he has a daughter who spends her nights catching rats in the dark hallways of the vast estate.

serafina“Pa” said her mother died in childbirth, but that doesn’t explain why Serafina must hide. For years, she’s believed her father was ashamed of her because she was born with four toes on each foot and a spinal abnormality that make her different from other children. While he’s content to allow her to wander the house at night, her father has told her many times to keep out of the dangerous forest.

One night, she sees a hooded man in a black cloak murder or kidnap a young girl in a dark hallway, but she has no way to prove it happened. Her father thinks she’s imagining things, and even if she comes out of hiding and talks to the Vanderbilts, she doubts they would believe a strange young girl’s story about a mysterious man she cannot identify. But then another child disappears the following night, and another on the night after that. The missing ones are the children of the Vanderbilts’ guests. Search parties are organized, but nothing is found.

This well-told tale centers around Serafina’s need to act, her fear that the man in the cloak may also be stalking her, to discover why she’s drawn to the dangerous forest, and her continuing need to learn why she is different and must hide in the basement. When she befriends young Braeden, a nephew of Biltmore’s owners after a chance meeting, she realizes the man in the cloak is also stalking him. Braeden keeps Serafina’s secrets, but is hesitant to believe her when she puzzles out the probable identity of the man in the black cloak.

Nonetheless, her determination to stop the man and how she goes about it, make this fantasy mystery a compelling story for young adult readers. The conclusion is stunning, and (for many readers) quite likely to be unexpected, yet the hints, clues and mysteries will fall perfectly into place.

The novel is the well-deserved recipient of the 2016 Pat Conroy Southern Book Prize and other awards. Adults who have toured the Biltmore House and its beautiful grounds, might also find themselves lured into reading the book once their children finish Serafina and the Black Cloak because the story fits so well into the setting.


ewbookcoverMalcolm R. Campbell is the author of “Conjure Woman’s Cat,” “Eulalie and Washerwoman,” and other magical stories and novels.



Add a few fun facts to your media kit

“People love reading fun facts, like these, about their favorite authors:Stephen King said that if he had the chance to live his life all over again, he wouldn’t change a thing, except he’d want to appear in an advertisement for American Express.”

Source: Dress Up Your Author Media Kit with “5 Fun Facts You Didn’t Know About Me” – The Book Designer

When I was interviewed once for a local newspaper, naturally they asked about my latest book. But they also wanted a human interest approach. That makes those being interviewed more approachable, especially when the very human thing is rather universal.

I agree that this can spice up a media kit or a website or a blog post as long as it doesn’t get out of hand and make your look like an amateur rather than a professional writer.


Goodbye to the old car

After a light January snow storm.

After a light January snow storm.

I think the last car we bought new was our 1997 Saturn. Only cost about 12 grand. It ran well for a long time, but then started giving us a lot of trouble during the last few years. That meant it sat idle more than it ran. Meanwhile, keeping the insurance and the license plate up to date was like burning money.

So, we finally sold it today to a guy who knows a lot more about car engines than I do. I hope he can keep it running and get some good out of it.

Goodbye to the stick shift car (a five speed) which I still prefer to automatic transmission. Probably because I learned to drive on a stick shift.

After they drove it away, I had a swig of moonshine to help say goodbye.



Changes at Books-a-Million Publishing

It’s a common dream among first-time authors: you walk into your favorite local bookstore and there’s Your Book, sitting on the shelf for everyone to see – and buy. Alas, it’s unlikely to happen if you’re an indie author. If it happens at all, it will require a lot of hard work and persuasive energy…

via BAM! Publish: A Vanity Press? — Indies Unlimited

The changes look kind of pricey. Why would anyone go this route when there are more economical ways to get into print?

Perhaps there’s an “up side” to the program. Look closely before signing anything to make sure there’s anything here you can use.



A word from your sponsor

As always, that would be me.

mcfrenchbriverI realized I hadn’t posted one of those “where I am on the Internet posts” for quite a while. So here are all my addresses for more information about books and stuff.

  • My Other Blog: Malcolm’s Round Table
  • Website: Conjure Woman’s Cat
  • Twitter: MalcolmCampbell
  • Facebook Author’s Page: Star Gazer
  • Publisher: Thomas-Jacob LLC
  • Additional Publisher: Vanilla Heart Publishing
  • Amazon Author’s Page: Malcolm R. Campbell
  • Favorite Blog: Myth and Moor (Terri Windling’s Blog)
  • Favorite Myth and Hero’s Journey Site: Joseph Campbell Foundation
  • Favorite Tarot Site: Raven’s Tarot
  • Favorite Fiction Quote: “You may tell a tale that takes up residence in someone’s soul, becomes their blood and self and purpose. That tale will move them and drive them and who knows that they might do because of it, because of your words. That is your role, your gift.” – Erin Morgenstern, The Night Circus
  • Favorite Nonfiction Quote: “Our deepest fear is not that we are inadequate. Our deepest fear is that we are powerful beyond measure. It is our light, not our darkness that most frightens us. We ask ourselves, ‘Who am I to be brilliant, gorgeous, talented, fabulous?’ Actually, who are you not to be? You are a child of God. Your playing small does not serve the world. There is nothing enlightened about shrinking so that other people won’t feel insecure around you. We are all meant to shine, as children do. We were born to make manifest the glory of God that is within us. It’s not just in some of us; it’s in everyone. And as we let our own light shine, we unconsciously give other people permission to do the same. As we are liberated from our own fear, our presence automatically liberates others.” – Marianne Williamson, A Return to Love: Reflections on the Principles of “A Course in Miracles”
  • Favorite Genres: Magic Realism, Contemporary Fantasy
  • Favorite Vacation Spots: Glacier National Park, Montana and the Biltmore Estate in Asheville, North Carolina. (The pphotograph was taken during a paddle trip on the French Broad River on the Biltmore Estate.)
  • Favorite Authors: James Joyce, Virginia Woolf, and more recently: Pat Conroy, Mark Helprin, Isabelle Allende, Terry Kay, and Diana Gabaldon.

Enough about me. What are your favorite vacation destinations, quotes, authors and websites?





Why The NEA Is So Vital To America

“The NEA’s Creative Writing Fellowships enable recipients to set aside time for writing, research, travel, and career advancement. While this nealogosupport – both financial and non-financial — can be important at any stage of a writer’s journey, it can be particularly encouraging to someone just starting out, trying to gain recognition and get a foothold on what a writer’s life can be. Examples of this abound. Take Alice Walker: she received her NEA fellowship in 1970; in 1983, she became the first African-American woman to win the Pulitzer Prize in fiction for “The Color Purple.” There’s also Louise Erdrich, Michael Cunningham, Maxine Hong Kingston and current Poet Laureate Juan Felipe Hererra. More recent fellows include Celeste Ng, Major Jackson, Sandra Beasley, Teá Obreht, and Justin Torres.”

Source: Why The NEA Is So Vital To America – Culture –

If you’re an emerging author–or would like to become one–the NEA offers some programs that might help you. Check out their grants here.

You may also find their news and publications useful. (Check out their literature page.) The arts are what we do. The National Endowment for the Arts is one of our valuable resources for networking, information, trends and financial assistance.


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