Sunday, November 10, 2013

We are Writers!

Philip Perron Melissa Gates and DB Poirer
Often misunderstood, sometimes introverted and unbalanced or starkly outgoing and popular. Art is often consumed with gluttony while being minimized as unimportant. Oh the perils of being an artist in such an uncaring and cold world. The truth about art, or the artist at least, is that it is the struggle that makes the art.
Today I sit behind my laptop listening to Tangerine Dream, sipping coffee well past its life cycle that has thickened and pour over the many photos from Anthocon. I should be working on my novel, but I'm distracted... That happens.

In these photos I see typical writers. Pass them on the street and they are just people, no red carpet, no self indulgence, just folks you meet every day. They could be your brother, your father, sister or best friend. They travail over their work, playing out their stories in their minds. These psychological movies envelope their consciousness. What happens in the gray matter is surely only a
mixture of chemicals and synaptic pulses, but to the creator it is orgasmic.

Sorry, couldn't find a more appropriate word. Perhaps that is because it is what it is.
Author Kyle Rader
Orgasmic of an almost sexual nature.

Their struggle often entails a day job, pulling long hours away from their true passion, but necessary to pay the bills. They do not want red carpets or to be one of the beautiful people. Not at all. They just want to share this experience, to tell the tale that unfolds and to release it to the world. Their stories, like children are born and set out onto a world to which they hope they will be embraced, accepted, and even loved.

Today I poured over the many pictures of artists, like myself, who are sharing in a collective birthing of their passion. On one hand I am saddened that I could not share in this event, but that is overshadowed by the deep humbling I feel with a sense of pride at what is being displayed.

Sometimes the road is hard and it can be a struggle to carry on, but to see this... This fruition of hard work, that is the pay-off. 
I am in awe to be in your company and say with great glee.

We are Writers...

H.P. Lovecraft, T.G. Arsenault, Michael Bailey, Eric S. Brown, Judi Calhoun, Tracy L. Carbone, Karen Dent, Roxanne Dent, Jonathan Dubey, Allen Dusk, Melissa Gates, Marianne Halbert, David Hayes, Michael Hughes, Joe Knetter, Esther S. Leiper-Estabrooks, John McIlveen, Gregory L. Norris, Philip C. Perron, Kristi Petersen Schoonover, D. B. Poirier, James Pratt, M. J. Preston, Kyle Rader, Suzanne Robb, Gord Rollo, Lawrence Santoro, Brett A. Savory, B.E. Scully, Henry Snider, and Erin Thorne.

Sunday, November 3, 2013

Jars, Mummies and Hidden Secrets

Some months back I was approached by Dark Discussions host-founder Philip Perron about doing cover art and contributing a story for an upcoming anthology called Canopic Jars: Tales of Mummies and Mummification. Actually, that rather lengthy title hadn't been thought up yet. Phil just said that the theme was Canopic Jars and or Mummies, and maybe even some mummification. Initially I agreed to the cover art, but didn't commit to a story because I am hip deep in writing my new book and didn't think I could afford the time or distraction. Besides, what could I write about mummies that hadn't already been written? So I agreed to support the project artistically, which was being spearheaded by Great Old Ones Publishing and Phil suddenly became my conduit to two other gentlemen: DB Poirier and Gregory L. Norris.

     During my off time I did a couple of conceptual pieces, that I bounced off to Phil, who in turn bounced to Poirier and Norris. The initial drawings were rough, but as time went on they began to come together and suddenly a little piece of magic occurred. Art is a medium I often use when I write, but it is not the only medium. Either through art or photography or even music my muse  sometimes whispers and when this happens, it pays to listen. In this case, the cover I was putting together began to awaken a story that might be suitable for the Mummy Jar Anthology.

     I sent off a new cover and began thinking about my first book THE EQUINOX, but more specifically a character from the book. A Chicago Police Detective named Sean Woodman who made a brief appearance in the beginning and near the end of that book as a supporting character. I liked Sean Woodman, he was smart, tough and he would never find resolution to a string of serial murders that occurred on his watch. Woodman simply came into the story early on and turned up later on when another string of bizarre killings took place in a little town called Thomasville after the Chief of Police contacted him about a possible connection.

    I always wondered what had become of Woodman and suddenly as I stared into the piece which would become the front cover and another piece that would end up as the rear cover, my muse didn't just whisper, but began to rant. "Take him back to the Run-off. Run-off 31!" And so my fingers did their ritualistic drunken dance n the keyboard as the story spilled out and onto the page. I was done the piece in about three hours. I toiled over it for a day or two. Sent it to Writer Pal, R. James Steel. He sent it back and I gave it another going over. Then I forwarded it onto Phil, who in turn took it to the boys and they accepted it.

     Along with my piece there are also stories submitted by Gord Rollo, B.E. Scully some guy named HP Lovecraft and many many more. I have had a chance to read a few of these stories and have to say that there is some real treasures in this book. Who knew that there could be so many interesting variations on the Mummy tale.  Go out and grab a copy of this book, if not to read something by me, but to get a candy dish of different tales from which you can sample one at a time or gorge yourself completely. Either way, the fix will be a rush so check out the link at the end of this post.

      With that in mind, I'm going to borrow from B.E. Scully and post an excerpt from my story Run-off 31.  I say borrow, because Scully did the same thing in her blog, so I am openly admitting that this is not an original idea. Without further adieu here is an excerpt from Canopic Jars: Tales of Mummies and Mummification.

Run-off 31
by MJ Preston

     The bodies started turning up in late July. Before long, police began to think that this was not the work of one serial killer, but two, possibly even three. The only flaw in this thinking lay in the fact that every victim had been left with an identical incision from solar plexus to belly button. Some of the detectives called them the 'X Killings', because carved into each victims belly was an X that was not a symbol, but the end result of evisceration. The reason they speculated the killings couldn't possibly be committed by one perpetrator, the sheer number of victims. To date there were 44, and the dead weren't more than a day or two old when they began turning up. Now, into the end of August, meant only one thing, the killer or killers, were claiming a victim a day on average, with the odd double.

     Sean Woodman was not assigned to the case, he wasn't even a cop anymore, but he followed closely through the papers. It reminded of a case he'd worked back in his days as a Chicago Police Detective. A case that was never closed. He'd been young and cocky back then, but along with his damn-the-torpedoes attitude, he also had a talent for seeing things others missed. And with the exception of that one unsolved case, he'd cleared a lot of murders. Those cleared cases garnished a respect which would eventually pave the way to a door plate which read: Deputy Chief of Police. That was the end of the line for Woodman. He wasn't a cop anymore, just a PR man who practiced politics with the best of them. Truth was, he hated it. He missed the smell of an unsolved case and made it his business to poke his head in on a task force or two to get a whiff of that scent.

     At first they thought he was some crazy micro-manager from upstairs. But Woodman proved a great help to his fellow officers; and even better, he took zero credit. Word got around, and after a while the task force cops to start coming to him for insight. 

     Chief Jorgenson didn't like it when Woodman got down in the trenches with the troops. Woodman thought that dislike was born out of resent. Jorgenson had been an career pencil pusher and had no cred with the cops he commanded. Although Jorgenson disapproved, there was no real reason to put a halt to Woodman's actions. He balanced his position as Deputy Chief with an occasional task force consultation quite well. When a case cleared, the Chief did what any politician would do. He held a press conference – congratulated his officers, and basked unabashedly in their success.

     Then the unthinkable happened to Woodman. The unthinkable being, a car accident that resulted in the death of his wife Jesse. Then there was the trace amounts of alcohol in his bloodstream that hardly registered .04 on the breathalyzer. He hadn't blown enough to be charged, he wasn't legally drunk, but Jesse was gone and when word got out, the media hooked onto him like a pariah. They dogged him about the accident, and about how much he'd drank after someone leaked the blood alcohol tests. 

     His career ended in much the same way Jesse's life ended. Abrupt and without mercy. He found himself standing before the Mayor and Chief Jorgenson. On either side, like book ends, a Public Relations Bitch and the City Lawyer. Set neatly on a table before them, a stack of paper roughly an inch and a half thick. 

     That's the “The Big Fuck You”, he thought. Somewhere through that he heard the Mayor offering words of regret, and there was even a round of condolence. But was it was hollow, the papers on that table spoke more about what was at play than these four assholes put together. In the end he did the only thing he could do. He signed his resignation, took a handsome buyout and left them to pat each other on the back. That was the end of Sean Woodman's career in the Chicago Police Department. And though he was gone, he never forgot that one big case that got away. The one with the Indian named Blackbird and the bodies of women they found in the Chicago sewers. They had also been eviscerated, but the belly's of those girls had been torn open. They called the case Little Big Horn, because on the evening of the last murder there had been an exchange of fire which included the use of a cross bow. Considering that Daniel Blackbird had been of Native descent and was the one firing the arrows, the name stuck.  

     Scott Emmett showed up on his doorstep with a case file thicker than a city phone book. He liked Emmett, but he was adamant that his days as a cop were over. Emmett was the son-in- law of his partner and best friend, Brad Rosedale. Coincidentally, Rosedale had been a part of that forgotten case as well. Unlike Woodman, Brad moved on. In fact he moved all the way on down to Tennessee; somewhere between Nashville and Memphis with his third wife. 

      “I can't do this Scott. In fact if Jorgenson found out you were on my doorstep you could find yourself in deep shit. You could lose your job.”

      “Well, normally I'd say fuck Jorgenson, but to be honest, he sanctioned this visit,” Emmett replied. 
     “Don Jorgenson told you to come see me?”


     Woodman laughed, not because it was funny, but because he couldn't believe the bastard would have the nerve. “Nothing personal Scott, but you can tell Jorgenson to could go fuck himself.”

      “We need your help Sean.”

      “Why should I care? I'm not a cop anymore.”

      “The last one was a 10 year-old girl.” 
      “Jesus Christ.” Woodman sighed and pushed open the screen door. 




 If you want to check out this story and others, grab yourself a copy of the book Canopic Jars: Tales of Mummies and Mummification on