The Sun Singer's Travels

Malcolm R. Campbell's World

Archive for the tag “Conjure Woman’s Cat”

Why I wrote ‘Conjure Woman’s Cat’

Because the world around me when I was growing up included this kind of warped nonsense:

Florida Memory Photo

Any questions?


Conjure Woman’s Cat and its sequel Eulalie and Washerwoman are available at multiple online sites as well as at your book store via their Ingram Catalogue.

Yes, bookstores can order my paperback novels

I’ve added the Thomas-Jacob Publishing logo to my cover photograph because this wonderful traditional publisher has published some of my Kindle books, audiobooks and paperbacks.

What this means is that you can walk into your local bookstore for my books rather than buying on line. If they’re not already on the shelf, the folks there can order my paperbacks from their Ingram catalogue under the same standard bookstore terms and conditions that brought all the other books into their store. Some stores, including one in the town where I live have bookshelves reserved for local authors. We appreciate that.

This includes Sarabande, Conjure Woman’s Cat, and Eulalie and Washerwoman.

Personally, I prefer ordering books from local stores, especially the locally own, independents because that puts money back into the community through salaries, property taxes and business license feels. Beats sending those dollars off to the major online booksellers. And when you buy locally, you don’t have order more books that you really want to get free shipping.



Research falls out of the sky from the strangest places

Writers never know when a fact’s going to be needed. So, we jot things down in notebooks and/or keep links in a DOC file.

adamI like looking at the wild sheet music covers on American Memory, the Library of Congress site filled with recordings, photographs and articles from long ago. There’s a lot of good stuff out there even though the search engine can use some work; by that I mean, stuff shows up in the list of hits that has nothing to do with the search terms.

Old sheet music had covers that don’t match today’s political correctness, music lovers’ styles and fads, or even the kind of music we like. That’s why they’re fun to look at.

Needless to say, when I saw the cover for “Why Adam Sinned,” a song written in 1904 by Alex Rogers and performed by Aida Overton Walker, I wanted to know why.

Due to copyright restrictions, I can’t reproduce the lyrics here, though you can find them elsewhere if you keep looking. But the why of it is this: He sinned because he didn’t have a mother to teach him right from wrong.

Now, since Eulalie–my African American conjure woman in “Conjure Woman’s Cat” and “Eulalie and Washerwoman”–is also a singer and makes a lot of references to music, this “why” about Adam is perfect for her to say in a conversation about the good Lord. Who knows when and where I’ll use it, but sooner or later she just might tell the deacon something like this:

“‘It’s just like the song testified about: He didn’t have no Mammy to teach him right from wrong,’ said Eulalie.”


“‘It’s just like Aida Walker sang: He didn’t have no Mammy to teach him right from wrong,’ said Eulalie.”

The deacon probably won’t like hearing that, but she won’t care because she likes stirring things up.

Writers collect bits and pieces of stuff like some people save baseball cards or have rooms filled with old car parts or stuff from along the side of the road that might come in handy some day.

You just never know. . .


cwcBoth conjure woman novels are available in audiobook, e-book and paperback from major online booksellers; you can also ask your nearby bookstore to order them from their Ingram catalogue.

BOOKS: New, On Sale, and Free

New from Smoky Zeidel


It’s the early twentieth century, and the tragic deaths of her mother and two younger siblings have left Grace Harmon responsible for raising her sister Miriam and protecting her from their abusive father Luther, a zealot preacher with a penchant for speaking in Biblical verse who is on a downward spiral toward insanity.

In the midst of his delusions, Luther believes God has abandoned him and devises a plan to get back into His good graces—a plan that puts both his daughters’ lives in danger and unleashes a frenzy of events that threaten to destroy the entire family.

Will Luther succeed in carrying out his crazed plot against his daughters, or will an unlikely hero step in to rescue them all?

On Sale for 99 cents January 20th from Thomas-Jacob Publishing





  • History of my Body: Few of the eccentric inhabitants of her father’s Main Line, Philadelphia estate have much time for Fleur Robins, an awkward child with a devotion to her ailing grandfather, a penchant for flapping and whirling, and a preoccupation with God and the void. While her mother spends much of her time with her hand curled around a wine glass and her abusive father congratulates himself for rescuing babies from “the devil abortionists,” Fleur mourns the fallen petals of a rose and savors the patterns of light rippling across the pool. When she fails to save a baby bird abandoned in her garden, a series of events unfold that change everything.
  • Appalachian Justice: Billy May Platte is a half Irish, half Cherokee Appalachian woman who learned the hard way that 1940s West Virginia was no place to be different. As Billy May explains, “We was sheltered in them hills. We didn’t know much of nothin’ about life outside of them mountains. I did not know the word lesbian; to us, gay meant havin’ fun and queer meant somethin’ strange.”
  • Conjure Woman’s CatLena, a shamanistic cat, and her conjure woman Eulalie live in a small town near the Apalachicola River in Florida’s lightly populated Liberty County, where longleaf pines own the world. In Eulalie’s time, women of color look after white children in the homes of white families and are respected, even loved, but distrusted and kept separated as a group. A palpable gloss, sweeter than the state’s prized tupelo honey, holds their worlds firmly apart. When that gloss fails, the Klan restores its own brand of order.

Free on Kindle January 18-20

willingspiritsWhen a high school student named Prudence waits until the last minute to write a book report, she finds help from an unlikely source: the dead author. What could possibly go wrong?

The author in question is the famed Patience Worth, the spirit who wrote books and spoke to St. Louis over a century ago through a  Ouija board via medium Pearl Curran until Curran died in 1937. Patience’s voice and her pen have been silent for a long time, waiting for someone who will listen.




AudiioFile Earphones Award for ‘Conjure Woman’s Cat’

This certificate came in the mail the day before Christmas. What a nice present. Might put this one in a frame. If you click on the graphic, you can see the write-up that went with it.


Thomas-Jacob Publisher, Melinda Clayton, and I were very happy with Wanda J. Dixon’s exciting narration for the Conjure Woman’s Cat audiobook.





Paramour Rights, the past you seldom hear about

In 1952, African American Ruby McCollum of Live Oak, Florida was tried and convicted of murdering a local white doctor whom she claimed had been forcing her to have sex with him for years. The Florida Supreme Court overturned the conviction due to a technicality, but McCollum was judged insane before a new trial could be convened and was placed in a state mental institution. Those who covered the trial think it was prejudicial in multiple ways, including the fact that McCollum was allowed to say little or nothing in her own defense.

I mention this because during this case, we heard the term “paramour rights,” the notion–stemming from the days of slavery–that white men could have non-consensual sex with any Black woman they wanted with little if any consequences.

Danielle L. McGuire writes in her  2004 “The Journal of American History” article, “It Was like All of Us Had Been Raped: Sexual Violence, Community Mobilization, and the African American Freedom Struggle,” Despite a growing body of literature that focuses on the roles of black and white women and the operation of gender in the movement, sexualized violence-both as a tool of oppression and as a political spur for the movement-has yet to find its place in the story of the African American freedom struggle. Rape, like lynching and murder, served as a tool of psychological and physical intimidation that expressed white male domination and buttressed white supremacy.”

My novel Conjure Woman’s Cat mentions the rape of a black woman by white males. In my fictional account, the police don’t even bother to investigate because this was, sad to say, par for the course. Black women in those days were portrayed, even in official court transcripts, as sexual Jezebels, “Nigger wenches,” and as women who liked being assaulted by white men.

A “classmate” of mine (I put the word in quotes because we didn’t know each other) was one of four men who raped an African American woman at gun and knife point. His sister was in my high school class. We knew each other, but moved in different circles, so we never discussed the crime or the impact it had upon her or the family. In the high school yearbook, X was a senior and–as such–appears wearing a black bow tie, a white jacket, and a white shirt. He was active in school activities. He didn’t look like a man who would spend the rest of his life on the sexual offender lists.

He and his sister are still alive, so I won’t mention their names or the name of the victim who has passed away. I never saw an interview with the victim or any account of long-term psychological damage after the verdict was announced. She showed great courage during the trial as she described the event and never flinched under defense attempts to paint the seven sexual encounters of the evening as what she wanted.

The first surprising fact in 1959 was that X and the three other thugs who committed the crime were arrested. The second surprising fact was that they were held in jail while awaiting trial. They had confessed, but claimed the sex was consensual, and made light of the whole thing like it was boys having fun. The biggest surprise of all is that they were convicted and sentenced to life in prison. How unusual this way for that day and time.

It was a victory, a wedge driven into the status quo, a precedent showing times might be changing, even though the rapists were out on parole within six or seven years. In Conjure Woman’s Cat, the men aren’t convicted because–in the “real life” of 1954 when the novel is set–they seldom were found guilty of anything. In those days, that was life as usual.


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.



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.


Click on the graphic to see my website:


‘Conjure Woman’s Cat’ is on sale today

The Kindle edition of Conjure Woman’s Cat is on sale for 99¢ today (10/21/16). Already read it? Great. Then perhaps you’ll like the sequel, Eulalie and Washerwoman.

Meet the Critters in the Books

  • Hinny – The offspring of a male horse and a female donkey. Conversely, a mule is the offspring of a male donkey and a female horse.
  • Scrub Chicken – An old wiregrass region name for the gopher tortoise which was once hunted for food. During the Depression, the tortoise was also called a “Hoover Chicken.” The tortoise lives primarily in pine woods habitats and is considered endangered. According to Florida folklore, the gopher tortoise resulted when the Devil tried to make a turtle to impress God, the result being a land-based reptile without the turtle’s love of water.
  • Squinch Owl – Screech Owl.
  • Swamp Booger – A tall, bad-smelling bigfoot-like creature that lives in the northwest Florida swamps that stems from a Euchee Indian legend.
  • Two-Toed Tom – A huge, legendary alligator feared by residents along the Alabama-Florida border in the early 1900s, and said to be still on the prowl many years later. It was reportedly fourteen feet long, suspected of eating cattle and mules, and assaulting women. His left front foot was missing all but two of its toes, the result of being caught in a steel trap.


‘Conjure Woman’s Cat’ is an Earphones Award Winner

cwcearphonelogoThe audio book edition of Conjure Woman’s Cat, narrated by Wanda J. Dixon, is an Earphones Award Winner on AudioFile Magazine. The review says that “Wanda J. Dixon’s warmth and gorgeous singing voice are superb in this story about Conjure Woman Eulalie, which is told through the voice of her cat and spirit companion, Lena.” (Click on the link to see the rest of the review.)

My publisher and I were especially pleased with Wanda’s narration of the book and are happy to see her work’s recognition through this award.

Conjure Woman’s Cat is also available in e-book and paperback editions.

Meanwhile, my Florida Publisher (Thomas-Jacob) finally has the power turned back on after several days of no Internet, A/C, clean clothes, hot showers, or hot meals. After attending to a roof leak, yard damage, and fresh laundry, Melinda Clayton is now moving ahead rapidly with the upcoming release of the sequel, Eulalie and Washerwoman.

The e-book will be released on Friday, October 14th, with the paperback edition coming along about a week later. Here’s a look a the cover:






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