My Writer’s Identity Began Ten Years Ago….

For the last ten years I’ve called myself a writer. I feel better able to claim the title on some days than other days. And there were decades of my life when I despaired of being able to write at all.

I was one of those little kids who knew very early what I wanted to become: I was going to be a writer! And then life happened, an income to be earned, and rent and bills to pay.

I had so many self-doubts. Who was I to think I had enough talent? What did I know about life, anyway? Whatever I did know, it couldn’t be enough to write a book….

So I went out into the ‘real’ world and forgot about my very first, exhilarating dream.

Or did I?

I wrote freelance for Massage Magazine for a decade and I’ve always kept a journal, but in my mind those activities never qualified as actual writing. Gods, I was dumb.

About twelve years ago I decided to re-read all those old journals in consecutive order, from beginning to end. By the time I got to the fifth one moaning about ‘Woe is me, how I wish I could write a book’ I was ready to hurl the journal and myself across the room. Enough whining!

I started to write in earnest, I found and joined the Writers in Stuttgart, a writers’ group  that meets monthly. On September 5, 2012, I self-published my first book. On this day ten years ago, I held the first copy of Broken In: A Novel in Stories in my hands. As I held it I literally felt my heart and my body and the room and my life begin to expand and glow. I was filled with a joy that has never really abated since.

Writing remains easy some days… less easy on others. I still have those self-doubts. Those, I think, will never really go away; I’ve learned to regard them as healthy. They’re reality checks. But you know what? The only question I ask myself these days is    ******What took me so long?*******

Don’t wait to start on your dreams. Whatever they may be, no matter how impossible. Part of our soul will only feel complete if we are following whatever Muse has chosen us.

Broken In: A Novel in Stories, Happy Birthday!

NOTES: ©2022 Jadi Campbell. My books are Broken In: A Novel in Stories, Tsunami Cowboys, Grounded, and The Trail Back Out

Tsunami Cowboys was longlisted for the 2019 ScreenCraft Cinematic Book Award. Broken In: A Novel in Stories was a semifinalist for the international 2020 Hawk Mountain Short Story Collection Award from Hidden River Arts and a Finalist for Greece’s international 2021 Eyelands Book of the Year Award (Short Stories). The Trail Back Out was American Book Fest 2020 Best Book Award Finalist: Fiction Anthologies, Runner-Up for the 2021 Top Shelf Award, 2021 IAN Book of the Year Award Short Story Collection Finalist for the Independent Author Network, and 2021 Wishing Shelf Red Ribbon. The title story The Trail Back Out was longlisted for the 2021 ScreenCraft Cinematic Short Story Award.

Broken In: A Novel in Stories went on to become a Semifinalist for the international 2020 Hawk Mountain Short Story Collection Award from Hidden River Arts and was a Finalist for Greece’s 2021 Eyelands Book of the Year Award (Short Stories).

Click here for my author page to learn more about me and purchase my books.

Top Shelf Award!

The Trail Back Out was just named a Runner-Up for the 2021 Top Shelf Award… this is the fifth (5th!) accolade my book has received.

Use this link to see the books listed for the prize!

2021 Top Shelf Awards

The Trail Back Out was named a 2021 IAN Book of the Year Award Short Story Collection Finalist for the Independent Author Network, Finalist for the American Book Fest 2020 Best Book Award, and awarded a Red Ribbon by the 2021 Wishing Shelf Book Awards of England. The title story The Trail Back Out was longlisted for the 2021 ScreenCraft Cinematic Short Story Award.

Click here for my author page to learn more about me and purchase my books.

 

The 2014 Soccer World Cup Finale

Reprinted in honor of this day in 2014 when Germany won the Soccer World Cup.

It wasn’t the first time I’d hitchhiked, but I was 18 the last time I did anything this dumb. Or this kind of dumb anyway. Allow me to explain.

I was back in the States and it was the day of the final match of the 2014 World Cup, Germany vs. Argentina. My family unfortunately all had a prior engagement. They took the car that morning and left for a certain Country Fair. [1]

I, however, remained true to the country of my husband and my adopted home for the last 26 years. I put on face paint, donned my German lei, and headed out the door.

I’d done my research. I knew the exact location of not just a sports bar in town, but a soccer sports bar at that – and I gave myself plenty of time to get there. As I headed down a footpath alongside the main road, a Mercedes Benz honked its horn repeatedly when the driver passed me. I looked at the car and laughed: he had decorated it with the colors of the German flag. I gave him a big wave and headed for my bar.

Ten minutes later I neared the entrance to a park and was astonished to see the car again. It was waiting for me. The driver had rolled down his window. “Do you know where I can go to see the game? I’m driving through on business, on my way to the coast, and I don’t know where to go to watch the match!” His accent was German and anyway he had the (to me) comforting look of a German engineer. [2]

“I sure can!” I answered. “There’s a sports bar near downtown. You need to turn around, take a left before the ramp for the freeway heading south, go under the overpass, take the one-way road three blocks and….” I stopped talking and considered. The park was empty, and so was the path I was walking on. I thought to myself, “Jadi, this could end up being the last spot anyone might have seen you standing alive before you made one last, stupid, fatal blunder.”

I scrutinized the driver more carefully. And then I made a snap decision.

“It’s complicated. Give me a ride, and I’ll guide you to get to the bar,” I offered. “Otherwise, it’ll take too long to describe.” The surprised dude immediately agreed. He opened the car door and I climbed in.

Fifteen minutes later we claimed two of the very last available seats in the packed bar (the employees were bringing in more chairs when we entered). I sat between the man whose name I no longer remember and a Mexican father and daughter.

The things we do for love (love of soccer, that is). No need to hitchhike this year, which is probably a good thing. I figure I used up my entire quota of guardian-angel-watching-over-you-while-you-do-something-colossally-stupid protection. But I’m definitely watching some soccer. France vs. Croatia, Sunday night! Come early if you want a seat!

NOTES: [1] Go to my post The Oregon Country Fair for more on the fair. I’m still glad I made it to that bar and saw Germany win. [1a] … especially after watching their pathetic performances since…. [2] The standard German engineer: short hair, clean shaven (99.99% of the time), honest face and slim body wearing jeans, an ironed shirt and a trustworthy earnest expression.

NOTES: © Jadi Campbell 2018. Previously published as The Last Time I Hitchhiked was to get to a Bar. All photos © Uwe Hartmann. Uwe’s photos of our trips and his photography may be viewed at viewpics.de.

My books are Broken In: A Novel in Stories, Tsunami Cowboys, Grounded, and The Trail Back Out

The Trail Back Out was honored as 2021 IAN Book of the Year Award Short Story Collection Finalist for the Independent Author Network and with a Red Ribbon by the 2021 Wishing Shelf Book Awards of England. In addition, The Trail Back Out was an American Book Fest 2020 Best Book Award Finalist: Fiction Anthologies. The title story The Trail Back Out was longlisted for the 2021 ScreenCraft Cinematic Short Story Award. Broken In: A Novel in Stories was a semifinalist for the international 2020 Hawk Mountain Short Story Collection Award from Hidden River Arts, as well as a Finalist for Greece’s 2021 Eyelands Book Awards. Tsunami Cowboys was longlisted for the 2019 ScreenCraft Cinematic Book Award.

Click here for my author page to learn more about me and purchase my books.

 

My Imaginary Friends: #9 The Tidal Wave

Current events often find their way into my books. I wrote about the tsunami in Japan not long after it occurred. One of my characters in Tsunami Cowboys (the title I am most proud of thinking up!) can dream the future:

Ronnie’s coworker Yoshiko Sakei appeared in the next vision. Yoshiko came to the States for college and ended up marrying Erik Gross. She became an American citizen forty years ago. She’s nearing retirement, and she and Erik plan to move to Honshu. Yoshiko feels a secret guilt: she’s enjoyed the irresponsible freedom of a Japanese person living outside the home country.

Kyoto parade
Kyoto parade

Yoshiko tells Erik, “Let’s go back and care for my parents.” Erik likes the idea, because a Western man in Asia has lots of advantages. Gaigin aren’t expected to fit in.

They sell their home and plan to move as soon as Yoshiko stops working.

Miyajima
Miyajima
Kyoto train station
Kyoto train station
Kagoshima Aquarium
Kagoshima Aquarium

The vision shifts. Zen landscapes,

Bamboo forest
Bamboo forest
Zen garden
Zen garden

crowded city streets with tall buildings,

Tokyo
Tokyo

monks in yellow,

Kyoto temple
Kyoto temple

geishas in colorful kimonos,

Geishas

salarymen in somber business suits all kaleidoscope through the dream. A few exquisite pieces of lacquer ware and a hand painted folding screen decorate a small space.

Zen interior
Zen interior

Yoshiko and Erik sit at a table across from an old Japanese couple with gentle smiles and parchment paper skins. The four of them drink tea. In the next scene they lie asleep in blankets on spotless tatami mats.

All four open their eyes as the light wood of the house splinters into match sticks. They look shocked in Ronnie’s direction – and the dream blows apart.

– from my chapter Precognitious in Tsunami Cowboys.

Notes: © Jadi Campbell 2021. All photos and images © Uwe Hartmann. Uwe’s photos of our trip to Japan and his photography may be viewed at viewpics.de.  Tsunami Cowboys was longlisted for the 2019 ScreenCraft Cinematic Book Award. Books make great gifts!

The Trail Back Out was honored as 2021 IAN Book of the Year Award Short Story Collection Finalist for the Independent Author Network. In addition, The Trail Back Out was an American Book Fest 2020 Best Book Award Finalist: Fiction Anthologies. The title story The Trail Back Out was longlisted for the 2021 ScreenCraft Cinematic Short Story Award. Broken In: A Novel in Stories was a semifinalist for the international 2020 Hawk Mountain Short Story Collection Award from Hidden River Arts and is currently a Finalist for Greece’s international 2021 Eyelands Book of the Year Award (Short Stories).

Click here for my author page to learn more about me and purchase my books.

….And Broken In: A Novel in Stories is a FInalist for Greece’s 2021 Eyelands Best Book of the Year Award

I can’t believe I get to write this…

The Trail Back Out was named 2021 IAN Book of the Year Finalist (Short Story Collection) by the Independent Author Network.  As if that wasn’t enough, I cannot believe I get to write this: a week later I was listed for another award! My first book Broken In: A Novel in Stories is now a finalist for Greece’s international 2021 Eyelands Book of the Year Award (Short Stories). Two awards in one week, I am in the kind of time continuum writers dream of! I keep crying with joy and laughing in disbelief. I’m I shock!

Eyelands 2021 Book of the Year Awards

NOTES: ©Jadi Campbell 2021. My books are Grounded, The Trail Back Out, Broken In: A Novel in Stories and Tsunami Cowboys.

Tsunami Cowboys was longlisted for the 2019 ScreenCraft Cinematic Book Award.

Along with being named 2021 IAN Book of the Year Finalist, The Trail Back Out was named a 2020 Best Book Award Finalist in Fiction: Anthologies for the American Book Fest. And, in addition, the title story The Trail Back Out was longlisted for the 2021 ScreenCraft Cinematic Short Story Award.

Broken In: A Novel in Stories was also a semifinalist for the international 2020 Hawk Mountain Short Story Collection Award from Hidden River Arts.

Click here for my author page to learn more and purchase my books.

Here is what readers will find: The chapters are casual but carefully arranged spokes, radiating out from a rainy evening. At first glance it’s the story of an accident near JJ’s Bistro involving a drunk driver and some parked cars. With each chapter, the picture grows more complex. Each character faces the challenge of being broken in, one way or another…. Gabe is the mixed-race bartender with a sore heart. Lisa is about to confront the hyper-sexual reality of Bangkok. Rob died, because ambulance and police were all racing to the scene. A burglar schemes to steal Jeff’s sanity. A star chef knows it’s her fault that a man is dead. Jeremy should tell his wife he has an incurable disease. Sally mourns her missing children. What seemed so clear cut (a rainy night, bistro patrons, an accident) is an event with layers, and consequences, and after-effects. The circles will go on rippling long after the reader finishes the book.

The Trail Back Out is 2021 IAN Book of the Year Award Finalist for Fiction: Short Story Collection

I am honored, awed, and humbled that my short story anthology just received its third distinction. I was notified that The Trail Back Out was selected as a Finalist for the 2021 IAN Book of the Year Award (Short Story Collection) by the Independent Author Network. Go to this link for the finalists and winners:

2021 IAN Book of the Year Awards

The Trail Back Out was also named a 2020 Best Book Award Finalist in Fiction: Anthologies for the American Book Fest. In addition, the title story The Trail Back Out was longlisted for the 2021 ScreenCraft Cinematic Short Story Award.

I’ve been going for long walks on the trails in the woods and orchards here, trying to absorb the news. The Trail Back Out is available for purchase and download.

NOTES: ©Jadi Campbell 2021. My other books are Grounded, Broken In: A Novel in Stories and Tsunami Cowboys.

Tsunami Cowboys was longlisted for the 2019 ScreenCraft Cinematic Book Award.

Broken In: A Novel in Stories was a semifinalist for the international 2020 Hawk Mountain Short Story Collection Award from Hidden River Arts. And Broken In just received a second distinction, which will get its own post!

Click here for my author page to learn more and purchase my books.

Here is what readers can expect: From tales of Eddie, high on LSD and trapped by “What Died in the Fridge”, and a compulsive gambler hiding during a Category Five storm in “Better Weather”, to the luminous title story of two strangers meeting by chance in the backwoods during a pandemic, the stories describe the pain and humor of being alive. Included in this collection are “Rules to Live By”, a funny and deeply thoughtful story about what we choose to teach our children. The author examines our responsibility to others when a hunter is shot and left for dead in “The Green Under the Snow”. In “Do Dreams Float?” a wife considers a hit-man’s offer of revenge. And the eternal search for happiness is carried out by a gloomy little girl nicknamed “Princess Rain Clouds”. In ten stories, Campbell paints vivid descriptions of everyday life in strange times. Whether during the upheaval of the last century or the present COVID-19 crisis, The Trail Back Out guides the reader through a labyrinth of questions about how to live and love.

My Imaginary Friends: #7 An Insect

When my nephew Niko was quite young, I took him to the Woodlands Park Zoo. Late that afternoon I watched a young man standing at a building; he kept peeping into the box he was holding.

I couldn’t contain my curiosity. “Excuse me,” I said, “but can I ask you, what’s in the box? You keep checking on it.”

He answered me with a solumn look. “I work in a grocery store. One of the stockboys was opening a box of fruit and got bitten by this.” He opened the box and we gazed down at a very large, very irridescent insect with huge pincers. “It was in the box hiding underneath the fruit,” he said. “The store manager’s worried it might be poisonous. I called and made an appointment to come in to the zoo and talk to their entomologists. We don’t know if we should send the guy who got bitten to the hospital.”

A decade later I used that memory to write a scene of Jeremy, a character in my first book Broken In: A Novel in Stories. The insect has morphed into a Thai giant centipede, and Jeremy is bitten. – Jadi

Jeremy unpacked the two crates of baby pineapples and stacked them on their sides in the bin. The sweet smell of the fruit put him in a good mood. Jeremy was humming ever so slightly under his breath as he broke the next exotic produce crate open and began to unpack its contents.

“F**k!” he screamed. The front of the store suddenly went silent and his coworkers came running.

Jeremy knelt on the floor cradling his right forearm and breathing in and out heavily. “Something just bit me,” he said in a strangled voice. He began to hyperventilate.

The day manager Lynnie Wendels pushed through the others wielding a metal stool. “Sit!” she commanded. She somehow got Jeremy onto the stool with his back bent over and his head down between his knees.

The others made a ring and offered suggestions. “Keep your head down, Jeremy! Just try to breathe, long slow deep breaths. That’s it, guy; you’re gonna be okay.”

“What was it?” Lynnie was still trying to ascertain what had happened. Jeremy raised his head and his face was damp from pain and shock. He held out his arm. “What in the -?” Lynnie didn’t finish the sentence. On the inside of Jeremy’s forearm, just above his wrist, two puncture marks stood out against the skin. The wounds were swelling and their red pulsated in angry color.

-from my chapter Punctured in Broken In: A Novel in Stories

Thai giant centipede, Khao Yai National Park, Thailand
Thai giant centipede, Khao Yai National Park, Thailand

NOTES: Jadi Campbell 2021. All photos and images © Uwe Hartmann. To see Uwe’s animal photos and pics from our trips go to viewpics.de.

My books are Broken In: A Novel in Stories, Tsunami Cowboys, Grounded, and The Trail Back Out. Books make great gifts!

Tsunami Cowboys was longlisted for the 2019 ScreenCraft Cinematic Book Award. The Trail Back Out was a 2020 Best Book Award Finalist for Fiction Anthologies. The title story The Trail Back Out was longlisted for the 2021 ScreenCraft Cinematic Short Story Award. Broken In: A Novel in Stories was a semifinalist for the international Hawk Mountain Short Story Collection Award from Hidden River Arts. 

 Click here for my author page to learn more about me and purchase my books.

I’m a Semifinalist for the International 2020 Hawk Mountain Short Story Collection Award!

I am extremely honored and very definitely pleased to announce that my first book Broken In: A Novel in Stories is currently a semifinalist for the international 2020 Hawk Mountain Short Story Collection Award. See the list here: Hidden River Arts News

Writers have strange solitary lives and we really do hunch over our desks at all hours, snarling at people to keep away… until moments like this one. Writing honors are rare and seldom! This is the first award listing that Broken In has garnered, and the third of my books to receive one!

NOTES: © Jadi Campbell 2021. Tsunami Cowboys was longlisted for the 2019 ScreenCraft Cinematic Book Award. My short story collection The Trail Back Out was a 2020 Best Book Award Finalist for Fiction Anthologies. The title story The Trail Back Out was longlisted for the 2021 ScreenCraft Cinematic Short Story Award.

Click here for my author page to learn more about me and purchase Broken In: A Novel in Stories or my other books.

 

The Trail Back Out – Excerpt

As promised, here is an excerpt from my story The Trail Back Out. This tale was longlisted for the 2021 ScreenCraft Cinematic Short Story Award. The entire collection The Trail Back Out was named an American Book Fest 2020 Best Book Awards Finalist in the category  Fiction: Anthologies.

The Trail Back Out © Jadi Campbell 2020

I: Prelude: Rain and Fire

Each evening, while twilight shadows lengthened, Ken sat and stared into the fire. What a shame it had taken what felt like the end of the world for him to return to the Adirondacks.

Ken had been working on the oil fracking fields and living in a container. The evenings consisted of lengthy monologues from men alternately bored, or angry, or scared, arguing over every subject with a captive audience.

Why aren’t there any solitary quarters, he’d thought more than once. When a new wave of the mutated virus arrived, the corporation went into lockdown. All workers would quarantine with them or leave.

Ken looked around and couldn’t imagine sharing a room with any of the men for an extended period. He stopped at the head office to quit and collected his back pay. Ken gathered his things (simultaneously relieved and strangely distressed that they made a small bundle) and drove away.

He traveled cross country, always heading east, not yet quite sure where he was going. In some places he took temporary work; no matter where he stayed, in his free hours Ken helped register people to vote. Outside Kansas City he bought camping gear and stocked the trunk of his car with canned goods and nonperishables.

His internal compass pointed its needle at his personal true north. When he pulled into Cranberry Lake township in upstate New York months later, Ken’s eyes burned. He passed signs that stated simply, Forever wild. Ken had arrived in one of the loneliest places that an already solitary human being could go in an increasingly lonely world. He was glad; it beat being in a ghost town.

Wet winds gusted, but he was sheltered. He scratched his face and watched the flames. “Scritchy,” Grace used to tease. She’d rub her cheeks hard against his bristles. He was the picture of the backwoods loner: a misanthrope in layers of clothes that all smelled like campfire smoke and dried sweat, his tee shirt faded, the wool jacket stiff with dry mud and the smell of damp lanolin.

The perfect cliché. Shaggy hair, overweight, six feet two inches tall when he bothered to stand erect and wasn’t slouching so as not to intimidate other people.

No one to intimidate here. Ken had seen fewer and fewer people as the summer ended. In the last week he’d passed a total of two single hikers, a family, and a couple. Everyone had raised their hands in greeting and headed down the trail to the next pond or on their way back out.

On the day before, he had shared the wet trail for a few minutes with a female park ranger. He imagined how he’d looked: muddy boots, soaked hiking pants, brushing the rain out of his eyes.

He could picture himself, and suddenly Ken did. Across the fire a man stood in the shadows, with rain streaming off a poncho and dripping around his feet.

 “Sorry to break into your privacy like this,” the stranger said. “You were lost in thought. According to my map this was the nearest lean-to. I’ll keep going; it’s not dark yet.”

NOTES: © Jadi Campbell 2021.

Two strangers meet in the woods. Children wear masks. A gambler hides in the cellar during a Category Five hurricane. A wife considers a hit-man’s offer. Princess Rain Clouds searches for happiness. An entire village flees, a life is saved, and a tourist in Venice is melting. Everyone keeps trying to make sense of strange events far in the past or about to occur. Let these characters be your guides. Join them on the trail back out – to a familiar world, now unexpectedly changed.

Click here for my author page to learn more and buy my books.

The Trail Back Out is longlisted!

I was longlisted! My short story The Trail Back Out was named a quarterfinalist for the 2021 ScreenCraft Cinematic Short Story Award.

If you click on the link, 2021 ScreenCraft Cinematic Short Story Awards, you’ll have the same experience I did….. scrolling down and down and down to the T’s, wondering if the story made it or not.

An interesting experience. The next time I submit a piece, remind me to begin the title with the letter “A” !

Tomorrow I’ll post a bit of The Trail Back Out. I promise I won’t make you scroll for it.

NOTES: © Jadi Campbell 2021. The entire collection The Trail Back Out was named an American Book Fest  2020 Best Book Award Finalist in the category  Fiction Anthologies.

Click here for my author page to learn more and buy my books.