Thursday, August 6, 2015

THE EVIL CLOWN MUSE (Bastard that he is) presents:

It is often said that critics are failed artists, be they actors, writers, musicians or painters. I am a writer and an artist. Your estimation of my talent is one of personal taste. I am forced accept that, be it good, bad, or indifferent. 
     I write, because that is what I believe I was put on this earth to do. It's the same with being an artist. For me, these things are an outlet and it wasn't until quite recently that I started sharing that outlet with you. To share ones muse is a leap of fate, but I am far more comfortable being a writer or a reader than I am in the seat of critic.
     The Anthology Convention in New Hampshire was a place for writers of dark speculative fiction to meet with like minded folks. It was also a great venue to pick up books and get them signed by the authors. I came back with a pile of books, in fact my extra bag cost me $100.00 to ship home on an airplane. When the clerk, who was completely surprised at the cost herself, asked if I wanted to leave the bag behind, I had suppress the urge to ask her if she was nuts.
      No bloody way I was leaving that bag behind. It was full of treasures, books signed by the likes of F. Paul Wilson and Gene O'Neill. And aside from that I had a pile of other books, that included novels and serial anthologies. Not a chance in hell I was leaving that bag. I paid the 100 bucks and got on my plane.


This anthology is the fifth in the series which delves into the
world of dark desires, ethereal imagery and landscapes which that are often mad and macabre. With Gothic illustrations throughout, it is a treat for the eyes as you turn the pages from one story to the next, and it is also an amalgamation of generations in writing. Within these pages you will find stories by Mary Shelley, Jonathan Mayberry, Gregory L. Norris and many more.
     This is a book to curl up with in a warm spot and engulf oneself in a world where trees have windows and demons kings lure admirers.  I was enthralled by Roxanne Dents: Heart of Stone in which a woman becomes seduced by a statue of Asmodeus: King of all Demons. As one reads, they are left to wonder if Dent's character, Jane, is actually conversing with the statue or if her world is that of hallucinogenic overload.
     Another tale in this book was Patrick Lacey's: The Other Place, in which a young man see's a window on a tree that leads into a parallel universe. Or does it? Is this young man really seeing the window into that other world or is the medication he's on have something to do with the things he is seeing? 
     There is only one way to find out. 
     Read on...
     Expertly edited by Dr. Alex Scully, Dreamscapes into Darkness delivers a smorgasbord of talented story tellers enveloped by the  masters like H.P. Lovecraft and Sir Arthur Conan Doyle. It is a marriage of old and new and the theme of: be careful what you wish for, is deliciously inviting. 
    This wonderful collection is an invitation that should not be turned down. That is, if you are not one with a faint heart or fear what lurks in the deepest shadows of another's  psyche.
     Going back to Lacey for a second, I was privileged to hear him read the opening pages to the story contained in the pages of this anthology. There were many readings on that day and I was unable to ask where this story was published. It was a definite surprise, halfway into this anthology to find that lost tale.
     |And to my opening statement, about being a critic and the discomfort I feel in such a position? I can honestly say that I have dodged a bullet with Dreamscapes into Darkness. It is a great book for the coffee shop, the easy chair or the back deck. 
      But be warned. 
     If the hairs on the back of your neck prickle, B.E. Scully might just be telling you what happened "On the afternoon everything changed." 
     And it might not be that pleasant... 


Pick up a copy of this Anthology, from Firbolg Publishing, by following this link to the amazon page. 


Sunday, July 5, 2015

Books for Brian

Brian lounging with a friend, many  years after leaving the military,
Hard to believe, but it was over 17 years ago that I was medically released from the Canadian Armed Forces. It was after three leg operations that spanned 12 years in the combat arms, when a orthopedic surgeon gave me some hard news. They no longer wanted to operate on the recurring muscle injury I sustained as result of my job as a soldier. He talked about scar tissue, but more so he talked about how soldiering was a young man’s game and I might be better off to pull the pin now while I could still walk away. I did so, grudgingly. I liked being a soldier. Even today I miss the camaraderie and the sound of track clicking against the sprocket of an M109 self-propelled howitzer. That was the best job I had, detachment commander, I still miss it even today
Now, when I look back on my career, I think to that special time when I was young and full of piss and vinegar. I think about my first battery, the "Mighty H" in the Third Regiment Royal Canadian Horse Artillery and it truly was the best time I had in my career. It was there I met so many good people and from all walks of life. It was there I met a fellow gunner named Brian Eley, with whom I talked about my aspirations to become a writer. Brian and I bent elbows over beers and we lived in an H Barracks where it could get
Police at the scene of the shooting.
pretty crazy on our off time. H Battery was known for the funnel which was exactly that. A funnel that could hold two and half bottles of beer with a long tube that was fitted with a tap at the bottom. I don't think I have to tell you what you did with the tap—I can tell you that it was tradition for new gunners to drink from that funnel—and drink we did.

     As I said that was 17 years ago and I’ve done and seen a lot since, but I never forgot about the gunners I knew in H Battery, they were a part of my journey into manhood. It was a long journey by the way, according to my wife, I still have a lot of growing up to do. Facebook, probably did more than any other social medium in
.357 magnum recovered by divers.
helping me reconnect with old friends from H Battery and a much larger circle from the 3rd Regiment. Among them, Brian Eley who contacted me with a friend request and an immediate want of a signed book. Brian remembered our talks about my wanting to be a writer. Anyhow, we communicated, he grabbed a kindle copy of my debut novel: THE EQUINOX and unfortunately his car was broken into and his kindle was stolen. 
     Fast forward from that and I was on getting geared up to head to New Hampshire when I heard news that Brian, after confronting a robber, was shot twice. Once in the stomach, which obliterated his internal organs and once through the neck and shoulder. In addition to this, he was shot with a .357 magnum with armored piercing rounds. How Brian survived the attack is nothing short of a miracle. Luckily, there was a witness to the shooting and doctors were able get him into emergency surgery which undoubtedly saved his life. I found out about all of this after the fact and sent him out a couple my books after communicating with him. I told him I’d be in touch after I got back from Portsmouth, NH, where I was attending a speculative fiction convention known as Anthocon.

Sydney Leigh was front and center..
The note says it all. My friends, the Scullys..
     When I returned, I got a message that Brian received my books and after posting about this on Facebook I received an outpouring support from friends in the writing community that was very humbling. The first to respond was Sydney Leigh, who stepped right up and asked for Brian’s address so that she could send him a care package. This is especially humbling because Syd is undergoing treatment for her own health issues and that she would be at the head of this was pretty damned inspiring. I also received a message from Tony Tremblay the cohost of New England’s Taco Society and then another message came rolling in from the Bobbi and Alex Scully. I can’t tell you how this made me feel. What a wonderful community I have become a part of. These people are artists, writers, editors and most of them do not have a large bankroll, but still they were stepping up and saying: What can we do? How can we help?

     In addition to these fine folks, Great Old Ones Publishing fired off a couple books that should be there somewhere around the 15th of July. I also know Kristi Peterson Schoonover is sending something as well and there are others I can’t name, because I want to wait until they let me know and I’m not putting anyone on the spot. I have spoken to some folks with celebrity status here in Canada who have also said they would like to help out.

     Brian sent me some pictures and I am sharing them with you here in this blog. He is also astounded by the support and hopefully these “Books for Brian” will bridge the long road to recovery as he undergoes numerous treatments. Thank you folks, those I’ve named and those I have communicated with. You are first rate in my book, you are a community that has a similar camaraderie to those I served with in those early military days. You have shown me a side of human nature that is wonderful and selfless and I am proud to call you friends and fellow scribes.

     I dedicate this blog to all of you.

     I don’t know what else to say. I am speechless.

     Okay, I just thought of something.


     Buy Sydney Leigh’s (Bram Stoker Nominated) Chapbook Baby’sBreath

    Watch Tony Tremblay, along with Phil Perron, Sydney Leigh and Gardner Goldsmith on the Taco Society Presents and for gosh sake throw them a review.

    Check out Firbolg Publishings: Enter Your Own Risk Series; or B.E. Scully’s: TheTower Together or the critically acclaimed: Verland:The Transformation


    Check out Kristi Peterson Schoonover’s beautifully written and Pushcart nominated: BadApple

    And finally check out Great Old Ones Publishing
This is where you’ll find my books, works by the authors above and a catalogue of other great writers. 

Friday, June 19, 2015


Portsmouth, NH 
June 4th-8th

Typing my blog with Tony Tremblay's computer
We came from all ends of the continent. Some from Colorado, others California, Oregon, Vermont and Maine. There were even Canadians, such as myself, descending from the north and taking New England by storm. My flight left Edmonton in the early hours of the morning and rather than fly straight as an arrow east to Boston, I was southbound to Dallas Fort Worth where I caught a connecting flight some hours later. I landed in Boston at around 7:30 PM and found the car rental agency after jumping into or rather, putting on, a Kia Forte, I braved the crazed Boston commuters and headed north to Portsmouth, NH.
     An hour later, I arrived to meet author Gord Rollo in the lobby. I shook his hand, said, “Hi.” —and checked into my room where I sent Philip Perron a message.
“Where are you?” I texted.
“In the lobby,” he replied.
“Shit, I must have walked right passed you.”
I gave him my room number and got out of the elevator and that’s where I met Kristi Peterson Schoonover. I don’t think she recognized me at first, I was wearing a hat. No bald head giveaway. I called down the hall to her. “Schoonover?”
“In the flesh.” We hugged.
Kristi and I have conversed over the web for a number of years
Contract negotiations with Great Old Ones: Phil Perron
and share a love of the Dark Discussions Podcast. I have always considered Kristi a friend and was looking forward to meeting her in person. She is a great writer and has a bubbly personality that is infectious to a group. Besides that, she had promised to by me a martini and also had brought up a banner for me from Connecticut.
So, after hooking up with Phil and Kristi, I made way down stairs for a drink where I met Sydney Leigh, Ron Dickie, Andrew Wolter (who I mistook for Syd’s guy) and of course Tony Tremblay, who I will forever think of as Mr. New England. I was settling in for the prelude to Anthocon, because we were just the first bunch.
Later, I heard my name called once again down the hall. “Hey! MJ Preston!” I turned, did not recognize the lady until she introduced herself.
“I’m Alex Scully.”
Next thing you know I am in the Scully’s room, with Gord Rollo, Gene ONeil and a bunch of other folks. First thing I hear is: “MJ Preston! I’m so glad to meet you.” Up walks this muscular tanned dude and sticks out his hand. “Jon Kelley.”
“Holy shit!” I say and shake vigorously thinking. How the hell do all these people know me?
The nucleus of this gather is B.E. Scully (Bobbi to her friends) addressing the group of perhaps twenty while holding up a cellophane wrapped piece of cheese. “It’s a little earthy,” she says as she unwraps the wedge producing what she says is a local blue cheese. Being the last to enter the room she turns to me and asks, “M.J. would you like to try it.”
At which I reply, “Thanks, but I generally don’t eat anything with mold in it.”
She turns to Gord Rollo, and he stands in cowardly allegiance. “Me either.”
I do agree to give it a sniff and my nasal passages deliver the most disgusting— foul—vomit inducing fragrance to the synapses
It was, what I think of when I hear environmentalists talk about how farting cows are cause the earth to warm. I rub my nose, drink my beer, trying to un-smell this putrid stench. Through the haze, I can hear Alex Scully laughing uncontrollably. Before I can warn the others, Fan Boys and Fools alike, line up like sheep to take communion. She breaks of a piece at a time and they declare how wonderful the cheese tastes. Patronizing fools, the lot of them.
This is madness, I think.
When the lambs have sacrificed their senses and engaged in this unholiest of communions, I lean over to Bobbi and say. “Be honest, you got that out of the dumpster behind the Cheese Store. Didn’t you?”
F. Paul Wilson schools me on semicolons.
“Oh no, I bought it locally and paid a fair penny for it,” she insists.
“Well, aren’t you going to have a piece,” I ask.
She grins sardonically. “Are you kidding? This stuff is disgusting.”
I almost squirted beer out my nose.
Sydney Leigh, Frank Raymond Michaels, Kristi Petersen Schoonover, April Hawks, Rena Mason, Gord Rollo,  Gene O'Neill, James Chambers, Diana Catt Alex Scully, Phil Perron, MJ Preston.
I have so much to say about Anthocon, but I am limited to what I can say on this blog and about who I connected with, so I will toss you some of the highlights. I managed to talk Monty Python's Flying Circus with F. Paul Wilson and traded stories with Gord Rollo. I talked with Gene O’Neil extensively about writing who is the coolest, down to earth writer. Gene and Gord actually bought a copy of my novel Acadia Event, although it was tough getting them passed all the well-wishers in the vendors room. of my frontal lobe.
The next three days involved meeting and greeting, but also exchanging ideas and of course pushing one’s own work. I was set up next to the Great Old Ones Publishing table where I did signings and interacted with authors and fans of the horror genre alike. I got to meet the Dent sisters, Roxanne and Karen, who were both so charming. I also met my editor, Sara Kelly, face to face and she posed for a pic with me. It was such a treat. Hours passed without thought and Acadia found its way into the hands of readers. And of course I acquired a pile of books as well. To name a few, Bad Apple, by Kristi Peterson Schoonover. Three editions of: Enter at Your own Risk, edited by Dr. Alex Scully, including works by too many writers to name, but including a variation of the old Masters like Mary Shelley and modern day greats like Jonathan Mayberry. I have the Robot Graveyard which is a collection of shorts by the Sci-Fi juggernaut Gregory L. Norris and Thom Erb’s Heaven, Hell or Houston. I have a pile more, from Gene O’Neil’s Lazy K, to Michael Bailey’s Chiral Mad 2. I even picked up two F Paul Wilson books: Soft and Aftershock. Man, I’m just scratching the surface. Along with getting these books signed by all of the authors, I had a chance to talk about writing, about the industry and just plain shooting the breeze.
While rocking to the Anthocon ‘classic rock delight’ Four Horseman I was enthralled by the guitar work of T.G. Arsenault and pleasantly surprised to hear the Scully’s do their rendition of Mama don’t let your baby’s grow up to be writers. I think Willy Nelson had a similar song? Plagiarism? I think not. Likely homage.
Congrats to Roxanne Dent and Patrick Lacey who won the Ice Road Draw.
The weekend concluded with a number of readings. I can’t list them all, but I have to say that my only complaint would be that we did not slot enough time for the writers to strut their stuff. Five minutes is but a pittance, and I hope that next year a good deal more time will be afforded. Among the readings: Patrick Lacey, Thom Erb, Schoonover, Dent, Scully, Sydney Leigh, and the list goes on. All the readings were impressive, a few standouts: Patrick Lacey’s: Operation Parasite, Roxanne Dent’s: Bug Boy, B.E. Scully’s: Metamorphosis, not Metaphors, and April Hawk’s: Organically Grown. There were many others, equally impressive, but I fear this blog will morph into a novella, which by the way, I should be working on now.
Sunday came far too quickly, I skipped out on another night of festivities as I had to be on the road by 3 AM for Boston, but I got to take off into Portsmouth with my pal Philip Perron who really was responsible for inducting me into this wonderful group. Philip Perron of Dark Discussions Fame. We hit a pub and had a pint and a meal as we talked casually, about the con, about writing, about our passion for horror. He truly is the gentleman, liked by everyone, a great guy and a true friend. Thank you, Phil.
In closing, I can’t forget to mention Tony Tremblay whom I thought of as: Mr. New England. Tony was relentless with his camera, documenting the con, but doing so with a gentleman’s petition, also polite to ask, never a paparazzi. One other credit goes out to: Ogmios the Artist, who has been illustrating a short story I wrote called: SKIN: End of the Line. This guy has an amazing eye and he was also a great buddy.  Wow, this is starting to sound like the Academy Awards, so I will wrap it up here. Thanks, to everyone, sorry if I missed your name, but be assured that I was impacted by all of you and never felt so welcome.  I hope to see you next year, but now I must sign off, grab some cough medicine and get down to work.
Catch you next time...

Author note: Many of the photos on this blog were courtesy Tony Tremblay, Marianne Halbert, and Philip Perron. My thanks to them for sharing.