The Sun Singer's Travels

Malcolm R. Campbell's World

Archive for the tag “books”

Ten years of trying to get a book deal

“So after 16 years of writing books and 10 years of failing to find a publisher, why do I keep trying? I ask myself this every day.”

via Why I’m Still Trying to Get a Book Deal After 10 Years – The Atlantic

Many of us ask ourselves this question, if not daily, than multiple times a month. Anjali Enjeti’s concerns will resonate with most of us even though she’s not exactly representative of most of today’s struggling, unknown writers.

First, she isn’t unknown inasmuch as her work has appeared in prestigious publications. (This essay is in the Atlantic!) Second, she’s trying the traditional route by trying to find a publisher by going through agents. Not a bad route, though most of us don’t do this.

However, we can identify with this” “Some of my resolve to get published stems from my ego. Aren’t my words important? Isn’t there something of value here? Wouldn’t this story bring joy or peace to a reader? Another part of me craves having a visceral connection to an audience; it’s isolating to keep these stories to myself, to experience them alone.”

We have stories to tell and a lot of people who love reading stories and who are demanding and picky when they choose what they read have said they love our work. Yet, whether we’re self-published or part of a small-press catalogue, we still wonder why things never quite match our dreams and expectations.

This essay is food for thought. Perhaps it will help us question what we’re doing and/or whether we ought to be doing it a different way–if at all.

–Malcolm

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Nightbeat: How to live long, if not prosper

Rome, Georgia, August 12, 2017, Star-Gazer News Service–At my age, several things are happening, especially on my birthday. First, my newspaper is trying to force me into retirement because I refuse to write opinionated news like to many of today’s modern “journalists.” Second, people keep saying, “Jock, you look so young.” And finally, folks want to know how to live a long life.

It’s tempting to just toss off my dear old daddy’s prescription and then get the hell away from everyone asking that silly question. He always said, “Drink a pint of moonshine everyday while smoking three packs of Marlboro cigarettes. “ He said this before Marlboro started marketing pot cigarettes in green boxes.

Actually, when my wife isn’t listening, I say the true solution is booze, books and blondes. If she hears me, she ruins the ambiance of the moment by saying, “Didn’t I tell you to lay off those blondes?” She’s a brunette whom I met at work when we both really looked good enough to meet people at work. She also tells me to cut back on “the sauce,” which leads to further trouble when I say a half a bottle of single malt Scotch either makes brunettes look like blondes or makes it not matter.

So, that leaves me with the books. Studies have shown (I’m not making this up) that books lead to a longer life. Of course, you gotta start early. It’s not like asking God for forgiveness on your death bed after a life of sin.

Books won’t save you if you wait until your at death’s door before you pick up, say, A Tree Grows in Brooklyn and expect it to work like the fountain of youth. Books save you slowly over the long haul and–except for Finnegans Wake–are less dangerous than blondes for men or women with a brunette spouse.

A psychologist–and we know how “sane” they are–suggested on Facebook that it takes 65 days to create a habit. Let’s say she’s right. If you had read your English teacher’s book report assignments in middle school and high school, you’d be all set by now no matter hold old you are unless you’re in the 5th grade. Booze and blondes don’t take 65 days to become a habit, but in most school systems, they’re not assigned as middle school or high school homework–and if they were, woe be unto the kid whose dear old mama finds either one in his/her room after the lights are out.

One thing to avoid when you reach AARP age is trying to play one-upmanship with other AARP friends about your illnesses. After 65 days of that, you’re en route to an early grave. Plus, young people hate sitting on a front porch while granny says something like, “You think alcoholism is bad, I’ve got hemorrhoids.” If granny had just read a book, that wouldn’t have happened. Too late now, though.

Mark Twain once told a joke about an old lady who went to the doctor with some illness or other. The doc told her to give up smoking, and she said she didn’t smoke. When he suggested giving up chewing tobacco, she said she didn’t partake. He listed a long string of other real of imagined vices to which she said she didn’t do any of that stuff. Twain’s comment to the audience was, “So there it was. She was like a sinking ship with no extra freight to throw overboard.”

I heard this joke when I was a kid and it made a strong impression on me. I picked up as many vices as I could and as I got older, I’ve have plenty of dead weight to jettison in order to stay healthy. True, my wife might force me to throw the blondes overboard along with most of the booze. But, like Paris, I’ll always have my books.

Editorial Column by Jock Stewart, Special Investigative Reporter 

Free Books: March 29 – four Kindle titles

The following books will be free on Kindle on Wednesday, March 29:

  • Waking Plain (short story) – An enchanted prince waits for the kiss of a beautiful princess to bring him out of a century of sleep. The problem: he ain’t no sleeping beauty.
  • At Sea (novel) in this sea story set during the Vietnam War, David Ward learns that people back home are often more troublesome than the enemy. Inspired by my service aboard the aircraft carrier USS Ranger.
  • The Sun Singer (novel) Young Robert Adams goes to the mountains on a family vacation and then, via a mysterious cabin, enters an alternate universe where people are at war with their dangerous king. He’ll have to use his psychic abilities to survive.
  • Dream of Crows (short story) A man goes on a business trip to Florida and gets involved with a witch who wants him to risk his life to make love to her. When he returns home, he can’t quite remember what happened. Don’t read this one if you’re superstitious.

I hope you enjoy the books.

–Malcolm

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 – Forward.com

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.

–Malcolm

Book blogs come and go while the blog directories don’t seem to notice

If you’re a reader, you might have a few book blogs to visit every week for comments about books you’re thinking about reading. If you’re a writer, you hope to find people who like reviewing the books in your genre who will consider your latest novel for review.

As I mentioned briefly under “Musings” on my other blog, I’m not going to submit any book I write to a blog with a goofy name that sounds like it’s written while somebody’s frying eggs or sitting on a riding mower. Yes, those blogs may have a fair number of followers, but a positive review from them can’t be quoted anywhere because goofy names don’t stack up well when the competition is quoting from magazines, newspapers and blogs with professional names.

blogclipartAll this comes to mind again because I’ve been looking for bloggers that might want to review my work. Unfortunately, some of my favorite blogs from a few years ago have closed down while others have made it harder for writers to get a foot in the door.

So, the next places I turn to are blogging directories, some are run by professional authors, editors and reviewers, and others run by people who read a lot and who kept a record of their links.

What surprises me is that a fair number of people with websites listing bloggers, don’t keep their directories current. Sure, since the directory is free and might have a hundred listings, it’s a lot of trouble without compensation to go out there every month and see if the links work. That’s too bad because bad links are not only a waste of time, but they show the kind of laziness on the directory owner’s part that suggests they’re not actively looking for new links either to keep the place up to date.

I wish I’d kept a record of the number of blog links that ended up on screens like this yesterday and today while I was making the rounds:

  • The blog’s last post was several years ago.
  • The blog is officially closed because the blogger got too busy but has been left online so people could get to the archives.
  • A 404 error message.
  • A message that says “this domain is for sale.”
  • A change in policy indicating that the blog now has nothing to do with the blurb in the directory that supposedly describes what it offers.
  • Porn and other clickbait junk.

Naturally, my saying all this isn’t going to fix anything. But if you’re a reader or a writer who’s looking for new blogs, I’m not going to say “I feel your pain” because why would I want to do that? But I do understand your discouragement when you spend several hours looking and are lucky to come up with only one or two possibilities.

–Malcolm

Starting the new year with a jig saw puzzle

Getting close to done while Katy wonders why we're still awake.

Getting close to done while Katy wonders why we’re still awake.

At our ages (which are none of your business) we no longer race out on New Year’s Eve and drink until the cows come home, go home with the wrong partners from the neighborhood bar, or stand around in Times Square. On the other hand, we didn’t go to bed before midnight.

In fact, we went to bed a little later than usual because we were finishing up the 1000-word jigsaw puzzle my wife bought me for Christmas. We haven’t done one of these for years. Surprisingly, we still have the patience for it. As you can see, it features a collage of bestselling books.

Thomas-Jacob Publishing

historyofmybodyMy small Florida publisher continues to grow.  As most of you already know, my new book for 2016 was Eulalie and Washerwoman, the sequel to the award-winning Conjure Woman’s Cat. Author Sharon Heath has joined our group with her wonderful novel  The History of my Body.  Look for a sequel coming this year.

Meanwhile, we have three new audiobooks: My own Eulalie and Washerwoman, and Smoky Zeidel’s The Storyteller’s Bracelet and The Cabin, as well as a new paperback and e-book release from Melinda Clayton, A Woman Misunderstood.

While my wife looks for some new jigsaw puzzles, I’ve been getting some review copies of Eulalie and Washerwoman packaged up and ready to mail. I’ve also been working on Mountain Song, a Kindle novel which I hope will be ready by March. Some readers want another story in the Florida Folk Magic Series and some want another story in the Mountain Journeys Series. It’s hard to decide which way to go.

Getting the word out about small press books often feels like a jigsaw puzzle. If you enjoy reading them, we hope you’ll stop by Amazon and leave a reader review saying what you thought. If your local bookstore wants to order them, tell them the books are available through their Ingram catalog.

Now, just to prove we finished the puzzle, here it is:

puzzle5lores

Malcolm

Click on my name to visit my website.

Hometown Reads, a new place for authors

“Thanks for visiting Hometown Reads! We’re launching our site for Toledo authors and readers first, with plans to quickly expand to other Midwest cities, and then across the country. As of March 2016, we’re in beta, with plans to add more features, resources, and opportunities as we grow. ”

Source: Hometown Reads

I have mixed feelings about sites and programs for indie authors. On one hand, I wonder if appearing on such sites simply alerts readers to the fact that we’re not mainstream authors so that they dismiss us without a second look. But I also like the idea of getting the word out and hope that one day the mainstream media and its reviewers will take us seriously. (Once again, this year’s “best of” and “most overlooked” book lists included no ultra-small presses and authors.)

So how do we get on the radar? Traditionally, one starts in his or her home town and works to become known there first. I hope this new site will help that happen.

–Malcolm

 

Amazon’s New Pre-Order Policies Give Authors More Flexibility

“Amazon recently made some changes to their pre-order process that give authors more flexibility. Back in 2014, in what was considered a great leap forward foward self-published authors, Amazon provided the ability to offer books for pre-order.”

Source: Amazon’s New Pre-Order Policies Give Authors More Flexibility – Indies Unlimited

Now, author R. J. Crayton tells us that changes in the system will make the service even easier to use. I like having the ability to due pre-orders as my publication dates draw near.

–Malcolm

 

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.

–Malcolm

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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.

Malcolm

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