The Sun Singer's Travels

Malcolm R. Campbell's World

Archive for the tag “Sarabande”

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.




Limbo ain’t no fun when you’re in it

As a writer, I enjoy creating limbo for my characters to fight their way out of. I probably got warped by old TV shows such as Alfred Hitchcock Presents, and Rod Serling’s The Twilight Zone, and Night Gallery. Those shows had plenty of limbo, often limbounresolved at the end of the episode.

I met Rod Serling once at an English Department “tea.” He gave a talk and then we all mingled and shook hands with him. I probably said something lame while shaking his hand. Unfortunately, there were no selfies in those days to record the moment.

I did wonder how he thought up the stuff he thought up. I worried about myself when I thought stuff like that up even though I didn’t get my stuff on TV where I could be paid for thinking strange things.

The limbo was (and possibly still is) a dance. If you remember Chubby Checker’s recording of “The Limbo Rock” in 1962, then you’ve been around for a while. I never tried to do the limbo because it looked like a good way to get hurt. But ever since then, it’s been hard for me to think of limbo without thinking of “the rock” as an object that hits you in the head or a spooky place that you visit rather than rock and roll style.

In some theologies, limbo is the edge of hell, a place where you went to wait, I guess, if you weren’t bad enough to go to the main venue. I don’t know if the powers that be make you dance to the “Limbo Rock” while you’re there.

I Create Limbo for Others, Not For Myself

All of that said, as a writer, I see limbo-like plots and scenes better when I’m making them up from a position of calm and order and serenity in my own life. I marvel at writers who can create wonderful stories while their own lives are in a state of chaos.

Many thanks to those of you who picked up a copy of the new audio verson.

Many thanks to those of you who picked up a copy of the new audio version.

My own limbo is created by (a) having just come out of the hospital after appendicitis surgery and feeling, er, zoned out and tired, and (b) knowing that I have to go back into the hospital on May 9th for kidney surgery. I’m not worried about it even though I know I’ll feel even more zoned out and tired after I’m discharged from the hospital since it’s more intense than an appendectomy.

Meanwhile, I’ve felt like doing more research for works in progress, but find my concentration is in, well, limbo whenever I try to make progress on the manuscript of the next book in the queue. This tends to tick me off because I see there the story needs to go and, quite frankly, the characters are getting ticked off because they feel like they’re in limbo.

On the plus side, many of you have found the audiobook edition of Sarabande. I’m happy to say that even though I’m in limbo, the production process of the audiobook version of Conjure Woman’s Cat is moving along with a probable release date in about a week or so. Both narrators have done an outstanding job.

Thank goodness my publisher isn’t in limbo and keeps things on track while I’m not on track. By the way, a glass of wine at dinner does help the limbo do down but doesn’t make it go away. Two glasses is even better. Three glasses probably adds more limbo to the mix, and I don’t want that.


When not in limbo, Malcolm R. Campbell writes magical realism and fantasy stories that make others think he lives in limbo.



One thing, another thing, and (yes) another thing

As always, I appreciate all of you who stopped by to read posts this week, with a fair number checking out the one about Maya Claridge’s new book. My publisher will be giving a talk at upcoming the Deltona, Florida book fair. Unfortunately, that’s about a nine-hour drive from here; otherwise, I’d surprise her by showing up in the audience.  And then there are the extraordinary people who read about my new Kindle fairy tale and zoomed over there to buy a copy of “Waking Plain.”

As for those of you who ended up in the SPAM queue for trying to sell me viagra, cocaine and SEO solutions, life is tough.

  • thebluesI’ve been working on the sequel to “Conjure Woman’s Cat,” and that has meant listening to more blues and gospel music. The songs are copyrighted, of course, so I can’t use the words. It’s nice to hear them, though because they define both the conjure woman and a lot of her customers. They just naturally live the blues in a segregated state (Florida) where the KKK is strong and a lot of the public officials are corrupt. This was in the 1950s.
  • KIndle cover 200x300Meanwhile, the audio book versions of “Conjure Woman’s Cat” and “Sarabande” are almost complete. The narrators are vastly different, but they’re both doing a great job. The narrator for “Sarabande” had to contend with some non-English words and the narrator for “Conjure Woman’s Cat” has actually been singing some of the blues songs I wrote for that book. Boy, do they bring these books to life for those who love to hear stories as though a storyteller stopped by for a drink and a meal in exchange for an evening of tall tales.
  • WakingPlainCoverI suppose I should find a niche for my writing and stick to that. But I’m sort of a chameleon writer and enjoy doing something different each time out rather than sticking to one genre.  “Jock Stewart and the Missing Sea of Fire” is comedy satire, “The Sun Singer” and “Sarabande” are contemporary fantasy, many of the short stores are paranormal or folk tales, “At Sea” is realism (mostly) and “Conjure Woman’s Cat” and its sequel are magical realism. I know a lot of readers want authors to stick to one thing rather than writing one thing and then another thing. But I find that each story idea has a certain melody about it, a genre that fits, and it just naturally does that direction.

facebookI’ve tried to stay out of most of the political debates on Facebook, mainly because everything is so polarized there that it’s difficult to express opinions that have more shades of grey in them as opposed to being 100% this party or that party. And then there’s the tragedy is Belgium. There’s not a lot I can say about that other than taking innocent lives to advance a political philosophy goes against what most of us believe is rational and moral. So, I retreat into my writing while many of you probably retreat into your own jobs, hobbies, chores, and (hopefully) a little bit of reading.

There’s rain in our forecast this afternoon, but on the plus side, I have leftovers to heat up for dinner and plenty of books to read (and write). I hope you have a great weekend.




‘Sarabande’ is on sale on Kindle March 3rd

This dark contemporary fantasy about a young woman’s journey away from ghosts and abusers into the wholeness of becoming a survivor will be 99¢ on Kindle tomorrow.

From the Book

SarabandeCover2015As the great horse shot through the night as swift and sure as cedar arrow, his feet barely touched the grassy shoulder of highway number two in the domain of Montana. Thunder rumbled far away, indistinct, yet somehow technology borne in the labyrinth of fog. Gentle sparks of light darted within the world’s white folds, reminding her of minnows at the edge of a lake.

When Sikimí plastered his ears back as they crossed over a small creek, Sarabande instinctively grabbed onto the saddle horn. The highway blazed hot with light. The fog tore away with the screech of a Hawk Owl. Then she heard the horn. She was neck-reining Sikimí farther off on the shoulder and was glancing over her shoulder into the twin suns of a mammoth truck when the earth moved.

Review from Big Al’s Books & Pals

“Sarabande is an amazingly well told tale of redemption that starts off with Sarabande seeking Robert Adams help to settle Dryad’s haunting torment. Her quest starts off well through the dimensional divide and Mr. Campbell’s poetic prose is spellbinding as he paints a picture of Sarabande riding Sikimi through the night sky. Things then go terribly awry in a horrific set of events. Sarabande must draw on all of her inner strength to survive.”

I hope you enjoy the story!


Where things are at

note from your sponsor (aka, me):

Okay, here’s where things are at as of this moment of the eternal now:

  1. KIndle cover 200x300Work continues on a sequel to Conjure Woman’s Cat. It’s about half done, so if you’re my publisher it’s too soon to be checking e-mail for the continuing exploits of Eulalie (conjure woman) and Lena (her cat).  As I work on this book, I wish I’d kept a journal when I was growing up so I didn’t have to spend so much time researching what I once knew…the slang of the era, the year a book or movie came out, the headlines from a specific month. Meanwhile, we (my publisher and I) are actively working to bring out an audio version of Conjure Woman’s Cat. And, coming soon, we’ll be having another reduced price day for the Kindle edition of the book.
  2. I’m seeing a lot of flash fiction and fan fiction contests these days, and just can’t motivate myself to enter any of them. I’m not sure if it’s because–in terms of fan fiction especially–I don’t see the point of it, or if I’m afraid it will derail my work on the main books.
  3. SarabandeCover2015Thanks to Big Al’s Books and Pals for reading and reviewing the new edition of Sarabande and then posting the review on Amazon. This is contemporary fantasy about a young woman’s journey to the land of the dead to confront her sister is both a sequel to The Sun Singer and a standalone novel. “How is that possible?” you might ask. It’s my second story with the same group of characters, though I didn’t want those interested in the story line to feel they had to read The Sun Singer before they could jump right into it. If we can find a reader who can pronounce the Blackfoot words in Sarabande, we’ll see if we can bring out an audio book edition.
  4. For years, I’ve considered writing a third book to go with The Sun Singer and Sarabande as part of what we’re calling the Mountain Journeys Series.  Perhaps I’ve been scared of that book because it features a character who knows a whole lot about magic, the “big picture,” and where things are at in the universe as it really exists. I have asked my muse just how the hell I’m supposed to write that book since I don’t know all that stuff. The answer isn’t yet clear.
  5. dreamofcrowscoverMy Tate’s Hell Stories are about a Florida Swamp named Tate’s Hell. Makes sense, don’t you think? These more or less come from the area where Conjure Woman’s Cat is set. You can find them on Kindle: Snakebit, The Land Between the Rivers, Carrying Snakes into Eden and Dream of Crows. These are all free for Kindle Unlimited subscribers.
  6. Sad to say, I’ve been unsuccessful in convincing the publisher of several of my older books that it would help new readers find some of my work by having an occasional book sale. That’s why you haven’t seen a 99-cent deal mentioned here for Jock Stewart and the Missing Sea of Fire or Emily’s Stories. They’re very different books. The first is a comedy/satire about a reporter looking for a missing race horse and the second is a set of three stories about a young girl who talks to spirits. I’m very fond of both books and think we’re missing the boat by not having an occasional sale. Sorry about that, but I’ve tried.


Two ‘Sarabande’ launch deals for your weekend

Thomas-Jacob Publishing released the new second edition of my contemporary fantasy Sarabande on November 1.

SarabandeCover2015Now we’re scheming to bring the book to your attention, starting with a sale and a giveaway.

  • The Kindle edition 99¢ sale begins and ends on Amazon on Sunday, November 8th. Click on the book cover to get to the right place.
  • The GoodReads giveaway also begins tomorrow and lasts through November 26. Two paperback copies are available. Click here to enter.

Benjamin Mowers, who did the cover for The Sun Singer, also captured the ambiance of Sarabande with a mountain stream and a thick high-country forest.


TSSJourneysMalcolm R. Campbell is also the author of “Conjure Woman’s Cat” and “The Sun Singer.”

On Location: Glacier Park’s Lake Josephine

Lake Josephine with the Garden Wall at the end of the valley. The swirl of rock to the left is called The Angel Wing. - Wikipedia Photo

Lake Josephine with the Garden Wall at the end of the valley. The swirl of rock to the left is called The Angel Wing. – Wikipedia Photo

“One of the prettiest lakes in Many Glaciers Valley is Lake Josephine. This glacier-fed lake covers 137 acres upstream from better-known Swiftcurrent Lake and receives numerous visitors over the course of a year. A highlight of any trip to the east side of Glacier National Park, Lake Josephine takes a bit of effort to reach. The lake is termed a ‘back country lake’ because it it not accessible by car. A short boat trip across Swiftcurrent Lake and a short walk rewards visitors with spectacular views.” – LakeLubbers

Most visitors to Glacier National Park’s Swiftcurrent Valley where Many Glacier Hotel is located see Lake Josephine one way or another. Some see it on a saddle trip to Grinnell Glacier at the far end of the valley. Others hike and a few climb the peaks on either side. Most take the motor launch across Swiftcurrent Lake from the hotel, walk over some forested moraine on a paved trail, and then take another launch to the head of Lake Josephine and back. If you are new to the park, the launches offer a quick way to see the mountains with a guided commentary from the boat crew.

When my brother and I hiked alongside the lake two years ago, we got caught in a hail storm.

When my brother and I hiked alongside the lake two years ago, we got caught in a hail storm. Notice the surface of the lake.

Lake Josephine was named after the former Josephine Mine on Grinnell Point. The boat crew will point out the entrance to the mine. When I looked inside the mine many years ago, it still contained the wood tracks on which the carts moved. Tourists are always told there are bears inside. The Blackfeet name of the lake is Nitáki (Lone Woman).

The trail alongside the lake to Grinnell Glacier is probably the most popular on the eastern side of the park. The glacier has gotten much smaller since I first saw it when I worked in the park in the 1960s. But it’s a beautiful six mile hike. It will require some effort, though, if you’re out of shape or not acclimated yet to the altitude. The more adventurous will climb to the top of the Angel Wing for an even better view. There’s a stream, loose rock and a snowfield to consider, but this is by no means a technical climb.

SarabandeCover2015Since I know this area well–and consider it my favorite place on the planet–I set many scenes from the upcoming new second edition of my novel Sarabande alongside this lake and the neighboring valleys.

Here’s the beginning of the novel:

Sarabande bled on the leading edge of the Angel Wing while the moon was dark. The grey-green rock at the summit accepted her flow without complaint. Yesterday, Gem said sky wasn’t a fit place of renewal: dark woods and tents served best for bleeding. “Tccch,” she said without finesse, “why expose yourself on that strange spur of rock at the high end of the valley? You’ll catch a cold sitting on unforgiving stone above that cold glacier.”

Indeed, but it suited her.

The lake's color comes from "glacial flour," the small particles of rock scraped away by the ice and sent down stream.

The lake’s color comes from “glacial flour,” the small particles of rock scraped away by the ice and sent down stream.

During the night, Sarabande heard the beating of her heart. She heard the voice of water flowing eastward out of the cirque that hugged the glacier snugly against the Continental Divide. Water called her attention to a world on the other side of time, a world with a road running truer across the plains into dawn than golden eagles, a world with destiny straighter than cedar arrows, a world called the World of the Dead. There was a dead horse alongside the road. Past the horse, an angry fire gave off black smoke that lifted away from the prairie and the straight road like a prayer.

I’ve used this area for several novels because of the beauty and magic I find there. Sometimes it’s odd hiking there with other people who almost seem to be walking through my fictional scenes without realizing it.

Most visitors arriving by air fly into Kalispell which is 33 miles south west of West Glacier.

Most visitors arriving by air fly into Kalispell which is 33 miles south west of West Glacier.

You can reach Many Glacier Hotel and its adjoining valleys from the West by following U.S. Highway 2 eastbound to East Glacier, and then heading north on state highway 49 to U.S. Highway 89 via St. Mary to Babb. From there, Glacier Park Route 3 leads you into the valley. You can also drive or take a park bus from west to east across the park on Going to the Sun Road. From the east, you reach the hotel from high way 2, picking up U.S. 89 toward Babb at Browning. Amtrak’s Empire Builder serves East Glacier and West Glacier during the summer season where you can catch buses into the park.

By the way, if you plan to stay at Many Glacier Hotel, make your reservations very vary–the previous winter–because it fills up fast as do the nearby campgrounds.


The new second edition of my contemporary fantasy “Sarabande” will be release November 1, 2015 by Thomas-Jacob Publishing.

Glacier Park Boat Company

Many Glacier Hotel

Grinnell Glacier Trail – at “Hiking in Glacier”



A glass of Scotch on another Sunday Afternoon

Now that supper’s in the oven and the cats have been fed, I can take stock of the week with a glass of Scotch

  • taliskerbottleGood: A large number of you–more than I expected, actually–downloaded a free copy of my contemporary fantasy novel The Sun Singer during the last several days. In fact, if you’re reading this before midnight on 9/27, the book is still free on Kindle. Thanks for reading the book.
  • Bad: A lot of rain this past week. Here’s what that means. The grass we mowed a few days ago is going to have to be mowed again in a few more days–and the riding mower is developing problems.
  • Good: I didn’t see this live, but if Utah can beat Oregon with (partly) a fake punt return catch, more power to them.
  • Bad:  I can’t get past a certain level in Candy Crush Saga. For those of you who don’t play the game, trust me when I say it’s a highly sophisticated, divinely inspired game that takes players where both wise guys and angels fear to tread.
  • "The Sun Singer" has a new cover.

    “The Sun Singer” has a new cover.

    Good: I finished The Red Garden. If you like short stories, take a look. I’m now reading The Lowland. One thing interesting about the story is seeing the unrest in India from the characters’ on-the-scene point of view in the 1960s as opposed to what it looked like to me at the time.

  • Bad: Apparent memory loss: while scanning some old slides into the computer I found a dozen of a hot air balloon that visited Berry College in 1978 when I was teaching journalism there. My old Jeep is even in the background of one of the pictures. But I have no idea anymore why it (the balloon) was there. I hope some of you forget stuff that happened a long time ago and then have to figure it out when you find old pictures.
  • getawatwithmurderGood: Principle formatting and copy editing are underway for the new release of Sarabande. It will be the second book in my Mountain Journeys series. We’re hoping it will be ready in November.
  • Bad: It looks like everyone on one of our favorite shows, “How to Get Away With Murder,” is guilty.  Note to writers: who the hell are we supposed to be rooting for now?
  • Good: Lit Hub is providing a variety of interesting articles and essays about writing for a highly literate audience.
  • Bad: I’m obviously not part of that audience since my eyes glaze over while reading a lot of the articles and essays. I’ve decided those articles are about (and written for) the upper 1% of readers and writers. That means: people who are in Mensa or think they should be in Mensa.

I hope your week went equally well, with a tasty mix of good and bad to keep you awake and moving forward while not getting too full of yourself in the process.



A glass of Scotch on a Sunday Afternoon

If you’re like me, you grab a wee dram of single malt Scotch whisky on Sunday afternoons to help you take stock of the week.

  • taliskerbottleGood: Work is underway for a new edition of my 2011 novel Sarabande which went out of print a few years ago due to a disagreement with the publisher. A new publisher will be releasing a new edition soon.
  • Bad: No rain this past week. That meant dragging around the hose to water trees and shrubs put in early this year.
  • Good: Ole Miss beat Alabama. Slow start today after staying up late to see how that game ended.
  • Bad: New doctor tells me my dosage of medication XYZ as prescribed by my previous doctor is wrong.
  • Good: Enjoying the linked short stories in Alice Hoffman’s The Red Garden.
  • Bad: Presidential candidates are proclaiming that the government and apparently all of us must be controlled by their personal religious beliefs.
  • redgardonGood: After I sent him a message through the clinic’s “patient portal” explaining that XYZ was prescribed by a specialist who presumably knew what he was going, the new doctor restored my original two-capsules-a-day prescription.
  • Bad:  Our cats get easily bored by their dry food after we’ve had the sack open for a week and when I put the bowls down, they act like they (the bowls) are empty.
  • Good: My brother and his wife returned safe and sound to central Florida after a vacation trip to Chicago.
  • Chicago on somebody elses vacation

    Chicago on somebody’s vacation

    Bad: We weren’t on a vacation trip. While they were staying in a cool condo with a great view, we were here taking out the garbage, feeding cats who were pretending their food’s invisible, mowing the yard, and doing other chores that our “people” would be taking care of. Also bad: we don’t have “people.”

  • Good: The TV shows we like are coming back soon.
  • Bad: NCIS is still missing Ziva. Also bad, the blank lines WordPress often inserts into posts with pictures.
  • Good: My friend and publisher Melinda Clayton’s new novel Making Amends has gotten off to a good start.
  • Bad: Oprah didn’t call us this week with any book club or movie deals. Maybe her cell phone’s broken. Maybe her people lost our phone numbers.
  • Good: The North Koreans didn’t launch a nuclear attack on the U.S. this past week and we have leftover pizza to warm up for tonight’s dinner.

I hope your past week had more good than bad and that it was worthy of a glass of Scotch when you thought about how it went.



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