The Sun Singer's Travels

Malcolm R. Campbell's World

Archive for the tag “Florida”

What’s blooming right now?

Known by many names such as Camphorweed, Stinkweed, Salt marsh fleabane, Sourbush and Cattle-tongue, Sweetscent is a short-lived perennial wildflower that occurs naturally in freshwater and salt marshes, swamps and coastal hammocks throughout Florida. It typically blooms summer through fall. Its sweet-smelling leaves and flowers are very attractive to butterflies. Bees love this plant, too.

via Florida Wildflower Foundation

SweetscentIf you live in Florida, you’ll find a wealth of wild flower information on this site, including news about what’s blooming right now to growing your own wildflowers.

If you’re a writer, this site keeps you from saying your characters walked in the woods at a certain time of year and enjoyed the wildflowers–and then finding out after your novel is published that those flowers don’t bloom for another month.

If you’re lucky, you’ll find similar resources in your state.

–Malcolm

Malcolm R. Campbell is the author of Conjure Woman’s Cat, a magical novel set in the Florida Panhandle. The Kindle Edition is on sale for 99 cents 7/21-7/23/17

 

Great new review of ‘Emily’s Stories’ audio book

“Kelley Hazen performs the narration in a solid voice that is exhilaratingly fresh and young and old sounding as appropriate.  Her accent is accurate and captures the essence of each character perfectly.  I found her voice mesmerizing and comforting at the same time.” – Audio Book Reviewer

After a book has been out for several years, nothing makes an author’s or a narrator’s day any better than finding a great new review. (Click on the link to see the rest of the review.) Sure, I’m probably biased, but Kelley Hazen did a stunning job with this book of three stories which are geared toward family reading/listening.

Perhaps your family will discover Emily’s Stories, too.

–Malcolm

 

New E-book for lovers of folklore and humor

My new short story “En Route to the Diddy-Wah-Diddy Landfill While the Dogwoods Were in Bloom” has been released on Kindle, Nook, Kobo, and iTunes by Thomas-Jacob Publishing.

Description

Every spring, fast food junkie Peter Martin packs his wife, Mary, and son, John, into his SUV and crisscrosses the back country of the Florida Panhandle searching for Diddy-Wah-Diddy, a legendary town offering travelers all the free food they can eat. Mary thinks they’ll never find it. John draws maps to show where they’ve been in years past. Peter has more hunches than fleas on a hound dog about the town’s location. More often than not, they get lost.

This year, they find Diddy-Wah-Diddy. It’s better than they expected. They begin to eat more than they should. Then Peter has a horrifying accident and disappears. While the powers that be treat Peter’s fall from grace as business as usual, Mary and John wait for him, and while they wait they keep eating all they can eat.

Author’s Note

Diddy-Wah-Diddy is, perhaps, the best known of Florida’s mythical places. The original story about a hidden-away town with unlimited food was among the folk tales collected by Zora Neale Hurston while working with the Federal Writers Project in 1938. Hurston wrote that Diddy-Wah-Diddy was “reached by a road that curves so much that a mule pulling a wagonload of fodder can eat off the back of the wagon as he goes.”

Bo Diddley further popularized the legendary town in his song “Diddy Wah Diddy” recorded for Checker Records in 1955. You can find an unadorned re-telling of the original folktale in Kristin G. Congdon’s Uncle Monday and other Florida Tales. “En Route to the Diddy-Wah-Diddy Landfill While the Dogwoods Were in Bloom” is a re-imagining of the town in modern times.

Malcolm

Free audiobook: ‘Conjure Woman’s Cat’

I have a few ACX codes for those of you who would like to listen to the audiobook edition of Conjure Woman’s Cat. This edition won a prestigious Red Earphones Award from AudioFile Magazine. That means my narrator Wanda J. Dixon did a wonderful job!

To get your ACX code, which allows you to order the book from Audible for free, e-mail me at grinnellglacier@yahoo.com. Put “Conjure Woman’s Cat” in the header. Just say something like, please send me a code, and tell me if you’re going to use Audible US or Audible UK.

I’ll hit REPLY and send you the code. Then, come back here and click on the graphic to go to the book’s listing on Audible (US).

Or, if you live in the UK, click here for the book’s listing.

You’ll either see a field where you can enter the code or a link that says “Do you have a promotion code?’

I don’t have 100000000000000 codes, but the few I do have are first come, first served.

Book’s Description

Lena, 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. When some white boys rape and murder a black girl named Mattie near the sawmill, the police have no suspects and don’t intend to find any. Eulalie, who sees conjure as a way of helping the good Lord work His will, intends to set things right by “laying tricks.” But Eulalie has secrets of her own, and it’s hard not to look back on her own life and ponder how the decisions she made while drinking and singing at the local juke were, perhaps, the beginning of Mattie’s ending.

AudioFile Magazine Review Excerpt

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. Dixon zestfully portrays Eulalie, who is “older than dirt” and is kept busy casting spells, mixing potions, and advising people–that is, when the “sleeping” sign is removed from her door. Most distinctive is Eulalie’s recurring sigh, which conveys her frustration with Florida in the 1950s, when Jim Crow laws and “Colored Only” signs were routine. Dixon’s Lena is fully believable when she spies around town and reports to Eulalie that rednecks have raped and murdered a young women. They almost escape until Eulalie persuades a witness to come forward. Listeners will marvel at the magical realism in this story and benefit from the helpful glossary of the charming local dialect. S.G.B. Winner of AudioFile Earphones Award © AudioFile

I hope you enjoy the book.

–Malcolm

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?

–Malcolm

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.

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

 

‘Cora’s Crossing’ (‘A Travessia de Cora’) Now On Kindle

coraportcoverIt took it awhile, but the Portuguese edition of “Cora’s Crossing” is finally available on Amazon.

Description: No meio de uma violenta tempestade, dois homens jovens são misteriosamente puxados para uma velha ponte no meio de um pântano na Flórida. Eles descobrem que os mortos estão esperando para falar, suas vidas estão em perigo, e eles devem ajudar uma jovem mulher ferida que eles encontram na lateral da estrada.

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.

–Malcolm

coracoverThe English edition is available here.

 

 

Memory Lane: A few old Florida expressions

While writing my two Florida folk magic novels, I suddenly became immersed in some of the dialect and slang that was popular when I was a child in the panhandle part of the state. If you lived somewhere else, you probably thought we talked funny. Truth is, we thought you talked funny.

floridapostcardA few examples. . .

  • Able Grable – 1940s’ slang for an attractive and available woman, based on the name of the actress Betty Grable, 1916-1973. Okay, this one isn’t Southern, more of of World War II expression.
  • Aunt Hagar – According to myth, Blacks are descendants of Abraham and Hagar and Whites are descendants of Abraham and Sarah, making Hagar the first ancestor of all African American slaves. This myth is behind the 1920s W. C. Handy/J. Tim Brymn blues song “Aunt Hagar’s Blues” (also called “Aunt Hagar’s Children”). You still hear Aunt Hagar mentioned sometimes.
  • Beelutherhatchee – An imaginary place.  Seldom heard these days unless one’s referring to the home of the late Florida folklore collector Stetson Kennedy.
  • Big moose comes down from the mountain – Something important is happening, perhaps personal, perhaps judgement day. I haven’t hear this for ages.
  • Bogot people – Descendants of the Lower Creek Apalachicolas who sought refuge near present-day Blountstown, Florida when Indians were sent westward in the years following President Andrew Jackson’s Indian Removal act of 1830. You’re more likely to come across this term in historical and cultural articles than everyday conversation.
  • Boiled Peanuts – Raw peanuts boiled for a while in salt water in their shells until they have a soft, Lima bean consistency. Used to be sold everywhere along highways in penny nail sacks. In the old days, these were called goober peas.
  • Chamber Lye – Urine used as a detergent. In folk magic, female urine brings luck in gambling, especially when it’s used to “feed” (adding various liquids to keep ingredients active and powerful) a mojo bag.
  • Chewing John – One of three roots named after the mythic John the Conqueror who was purported to be a Black slave who knew how to outwit and/or cast spells upon his master without getting caught. To say his name would protect a person from being hexed. Chewing John, Alpina galanga, is chewed like tobacco for luck in court cases. A hoodoo term.
  • seaoatsCoast – Floridian’s word for “the beach” or “the shore.” The cops and rangers will arrest you if they catch you picking sea oats (see photo).
  • Cooper Book – A Sacred Harp tunebook first published by W. M. Cooper in 1902, and popular in the Florida Panhandle, Georgia, Texas, Alabama and Mississippi. A 2012 revised edition is available.
  • Diddy-Wah-Diddy – A mythical town dreamt about by slaves and those conscripted into turpentine camps, chain gangs and orange grove labor in which ready-to-eat food presented itself to those who were hungry and sat on the curb waiting to be fed for free. Seldom used except in folk tales these days.
  • Dominicker – While the word generally refers to a breed of chicken, it’s an old pejorative term indicating a person of mixed blood, often used for an individual of African American and American Indian parentage.
  • Fat ’round de heart – Slang for “scared” or “worried.” A bit out of date.
  • floridawaterFlorida Water – A floral scented toilet water used by hoodoo practitioners for spiritual cleansing, the protection of a place or person, and for luck in gambling.
  • Floy Floy – Slang term for venereal disease that can also refer to trash talk. Slim Gaillard, Slam Stewart, and Bud Green popularized the term in their 1938 jazz song “Flat Foor Floogie (with a floy floy)”
  • Four Thieves Vinegar – Purportedly originating in 15th century Italy as a preventive medicine, the varied recipes for this preparation were later adopted in magic for personal protection. Root doctors’ clients would drink it or put it in their bath water.
  • Goofer Dust – A mixture of ingredients, including graveyard dirt, snake skin and sulfur, used to harm or kill another person who walks through it or is hexed via a sachet. Places where goofer dust has been spread are said to have been goofered. The term is sometimes used to refer to hexes or hexed places in general. A hoodoo term.
  • Hoodoo – A varied system of folk magic primarily of African origin. Practitioners, also called conjurers or root doctors, often included Kabalistic and Christian influences, Native American and European herbal knowledge and a variety of other occult beliefs in work on behalf of their clients. Hoodoo is not a synonym for the Voodoo religion.
  • Advertising Ephemera Collection - Database #A0160 Emergence of Advertising On-Line Project John W. Hartman Center for Sales, Advertising & Marketing History Duke University Rare Book, Manuscript, and Special Collections Library Hoyt’s Cologne – An inexpensive perfume that, in folk magic, was used as bring good luck in gambling. You can still buy it today, though dedicated conjurers prefer to make it from scratch.
  • Hush Arbor – A secret, out-of-the-way place where slaves would congregate to practice their religion, one that tended to combine Christian teachings with traditional African practices and beliefs. Many songs grew out of these meetings and were passed down as spirituals.
  • Jick – Whiskey, often moonshine.
  • Jick Head – A drunk.
  • Joe Moore – Pronounced, Joe Mow (JOMO), the term is used by some conjurers to refer to objects used as charms, often related to gambling or personal protection. The term has also been used as a synonym for MOJO and for conjure work in general.
  • Jook – Also known as a juke joint or a barrelhouse, a bar offering food, drink, dancing, gambling and socializing. The word rhymes with “took.”
  • Judas eye – A belief that a conjurer can harm a person by looking at him.
  • Mister Charlie – An out-of-use pejorative term used by African Americans. Originally, it meant any white man. Later it came to refer to whites in power.
  • mulletMullet – A Floridian’s view of this fish showed where he or she was coming from, class-wise. Upper class people considered it a bait fish to be cut up for deep sea fishing trips. The rest of us thought it was very tasty and ordered it at restaurants down on the coast with slaw and a plate full of hush puppies.
  • Rosin Baked Potatoes – Potatoes cooked in a large pot of rosin, usually outdoors over a cook fire. When they rise to the top, they’re done. We’d wrap them up in twists of brown paper cut from old grocery store sacks when we took them out of the pot.
  • 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.
  • scuppernongSculpin – One name of the Scuppernong grape, a variety of Muscadine found in the Southern Unite States. The light, greenish bronze grapes work well in baked goods, jelly and wine. As they say, all Scuppernongs are Muscadines, but all Muscadines are NOT Scuppernongs.
  • Shine – Moonshine.
  • Shoo-shooing – Whispering.
  • Shug – An endearment meaning “sugar.” Rhymes with “hood.”
  • Steppin’ back on my abstract – Collected in Zora Neale Hurston’s Mules and Men as “Standing in my tracks/stepping back on my abstract,” meaning standing one’s ground. Haven’t heard this for years.
  • Squinch Owl – Screech Owl.
  • Sugar Cane – Used to be easy to get at street corner vendors. Kids would buy short stalks and chew on them for hours; or, you can get the juice in small Dixie cups. Harder to find these days than boiled peanuts.
  • Titi – A flowering plant, Cyrilla racemiflora, also called Swamp Titi, Black Titi and Myrtle, that grows in dense thickets in pine woods, swamps, wet prairies and bogs. Pronounced tie-tie.
  • torreyaTorreya – A rare and highly endangered conifer found along the Apalachicola River near Bristol, Florida. Also called “Stinking Cedar,” the tree was said to be the same gopher wood from which Noah’s ark was built. For years, Bristol resident E. E. Callaway promoted the area as the actual Garden of Eden. The Garden of Eden trail is in the Apalachicola Bluffs and Ravines Preserve.
  • Trick – A form of natural magic, often consisting of a spell with a powder or symbol, that’s placed (laid down) where the intended victim is expected to walk. A tricked place is a spot that has been hexed in some way. A hoodoo term,
  • Tush hawg – Used in various ways, the word often refers to a rough and tumble man. Haven’t heard this for years.
  • 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.
  • Swamp Booger – North Florida’s version of big foot.

If you grew up in the South, but outside of Florida, you probably heard some of these words and expressions as well. But, I’ll always associate them with my childhood.

–Malcolm

Malcolm R. Campbell’s Florida folk magic novels are “Conjure Woman’s Cat” and “Eulalie and Washerwoman.”A conjure woman and her cat fight the Klan and other nasty people in a small, 1950s-era Florida Panhandle town.

cwcewgraphic

‘Eulalie and Washerwoman’ GoodReads Give-Away

One paperback copy of my new novel Eulalie and Washerwoman will be given away on GoodReads between November 6 and November 14, 2016 to a resident of the United States.

Here’s the link: https://www.goodreads.com/giveaway/show/210338-eulalie-and-washerwoman

ewkindlecoverWhile the novel from Thomas-Jacob Publishing is a sequel to Conjure Woman’s Cat, it can also be read as a standalone story.

One Facebook reader who enjoyed the book said she hopes that I’m already at work on a third book in  the series. Er, no, but maybe next year. I need a break.

Yet, I’ve had so much fun writing these novels, I’m very much tempted to come up with more stories for Eulalie, Lena, Adelaide, Willie, Lane, Joe Moore and, of course, that nasty cottonmouth moccasin.

Good luck in the give-away.

–Malcolm

Strange Fruit: What the Sunshine State Didn’t Advertise

Click on graphic for more information

Click on graphic for more information

Southern trees bear a strange fruit,
Blood on the leaves and blood at the root,
Black bodies swinging in the southern breeze,
Strange fruit hanging from the poplar trees.

by Abel Meeropol, set to music and sung by Billie Holiday and others

I cannot hear this song or read this poem without feeling an overwhelming amount of rage. This doesn’t mean I hate the South or dislike Florida where I grew up. I love the land, the folklore, and most of the people there past and present.

As an outsider who came to Florida just in time to start the first grade there, I knew nothing about the Civil War or racism, much less the fact that the Sunshine State had a very active and violent KKK and was near the top of the list for African American lynchings. Discovering this was, I think, my childhood loss of innocence.

Perhaps that’s why I felt so betrayed. Even in the first grade, I heard about the wonders of Florida. I saw them, too. We lived near a national forest, the Gulf Coast, multiple sinks and lakes and blackwater rivers, and–other than the cockroaches, palmetto bugs, mosquitoes and sandspurs–it was a paradise in many ways. I think I first heard about Blacks when the kids in my segregated school called me “a nigger lover” because I didn’t have a Southern accent and was obviously an outsider. They called me a Yankee even though I tried to point out that Oregon (where we moved from) wasn’t part of the “North” in Civil War terms.

The South is still paying for the worst frruit it had to offer: it’s mocked by everybody for its accents and customs and presumed to be the bastion of racial discord. I resent all this because mocking the South has become what many “good liberals do” because it’s just so easy even though some of the worst that racism has brought us did not happen in the South, and other parts of the country have distinctive accents as well.

The title “Strange Fruit,” of course, is especially apt and paradoxical in Florida as the leader in U.S. citrus production (sorry, California, your output is a fraction of the Sunshine State’s) where good fruit is what we advertise. This song and everything it’s about haunts me more than usual now because racial issues have once again become so divisive and have spawned a lot of hatred, misdirected and otherwise. I had hoped we were done with the hatred, unfairness and violence, but it appears that we’re not and so everything we thought we had fixed (or at least were making better) is still bearing strange fruit.

I have written two novels about Florida’s racism as I saw it as a grade school child in the 1950s. Yes, they are magical realism and some people call them folktales. But they’re not fairy tales. So, let’s not mince words: I’m writing about the strange fruit that poisoned even the best of people and further solidified the deplorable evil of those long-since gone bad.

As I grew older, of course I was more aware of the news coverage (when things got too bad for the media to ignore) about racial incidents. That was part of my continuing loss of innocence. But most of what I know came from the stories of an African American lady down to road who treated me like family, from delivering telegrams and hearing people’s stories in African American neighborhoods most white people avoided, and from the good people, Whites and Blacks, who had the courage to speak the truth and risk waking up to find burning crosses in their front yards.

Nightmares about the KKK were a fact of my young life, another cultivar of hatred’s strange fruit.  We all hear about more strange fruit in the daily news. I wish more people saw it for what it was rather than planting the seeds and cultivating it, for it’s making all of us sick and still killing a lot of people. There’s no excuse for it.

–Malcolm

 

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