Tuesday, July 30, 2013

Support of the Arts

by Mj Preston

One of the toughest things about breaking out as a new author is getting people to notice you; especially if you're an independent. Since getting into this gig I have learned a thing or two about human nature. We as humans love to take, but we have a harder time giving.
     I am speaking of course of the importance of giving reviews. I'm not getting up on a soapbox to lecture people about how I'm a starving artist and I have it so bad and if it wasn't for you people holding back on your wonderful reviews of my book I'd be living on the same street as James Cameron and Francis Ford Coppola.
     Although, let's face it, that would be kind of cool.
     Recently, in the spirit of thanks, I offered up three of my books exclusively to Dark Discussions members as a way of saying “thanks” to the group for all the support I've received on my debut novel: THE EQUINOX. I'm not like Stephen King or Tom Clancy
or even JK Rowling. I didn't get the break that allowed me to hand back the keys to my big rig and walk away. I'm a pretty realistic guy, I'm 48 years old, I have one book in publication and working overtime to get second book out that has a working title of Acadia Event. While doing this I have to balance a life just like you, I pull long hours, sometimes as long as 16 per day, I work away from home, and I make sacrifices to take care of my family. I'm not bitching, don't get me wrong, I'm relatively content. Of course I'd like to be home, maybe spend more time with my lady, work in my study to write, instead of over the steering wheel of a truck.
      But all in all, I'm not walking around tripping over my lip crying out, “I could have been a contender.”
      Not everyone can be Stephen King. And heck, who wants to be Stephen King anyway, he's one gangly looking bugger aint he? I kid of course, I would have loved to have the ability to get up in the morning and go to work in my office banging away on my keyboard for four or five hours. Because it really is a high when you get to do this. And from a personal standpoint, when someone reads your work and is happily able to escape for a few hours that is better than any paycheck.
     Something that was mentioned on the Dark Discussions Podcast really hit home with me. I think it was host Eric Webster, who gave a bit of insight on the directors of a film called Resolution: He stated, and this is not verbatim, that if you want to see these guys make more films you got to get out and watch their movies. Not download them in torrents or bootleg copies, but spend a few bucks to support an up-and-coming artist. The other thing you have to do is spread the word. This is where reviews come in and this is what helps an artist get to that next level so they're not sacrificing their art in order to eat..
     I will probably work outside the writing trade for the rest of my life, I don't see any movie deals on the horizon and I don't know how many books I have left my system. Two more for sure, but maybe more. I do know that I love this art and it brings me great pleasure. I also know that until I can't see a monitor I will write for
the rest of my life. The most precious commodity I have at my fingertips is time. For me, time yields the greatest value, beyond fame or fortune. Now while it may be too late for me to hand in the keys to my big rig and say to my boss, “Catch you later alligator.” There are many up-and-coming young artists out there who need your support, so that they can do what it is that they were intended to do. Be it music, painting, photography, film direction, acting and on and on it goes...
     Talented people bring us day-to-day pleasure and help us escape our own worlds if not for a few pages or notes as we join them in their world. So I'm going to ask you please, support the arts. If you read a book by somebody that you like, scribble out a few words about that book and post it where that book is being sold. Better yet, go to your public library and request that book be ordered in. The same goes for music, movies, photographers and painters. It really is a waste for somebody to set aside their gift because they can't support themselves. Not only for them, but for all of us.
     With that said, I'll take a second to tell you little bit about what's going on with me. Right now I am working on my new novel, astime allows I'm trying to get the first draft down on paper before summers end. If the Gods shine on me it should be in print by Christmas. 
     After Acadia Event I have a third novel to follow simply called: 4 – and yes,  I am not lost on the fact that my third novel is called 4. My photo book is two thirds done. But I really want to finish the Acadia Event, so it has priority over everything. 
     In addition to that I was sanctioned by Great Old Ones Publishing to contribute a story to an upcoming anthology and I have also had the pleasure of doing the cover art. Those two bits are done, I'm looking forward to the final cut.
     That's it for me but I'm not done yet, I want to bring two short tales to your attention. They're both by an author that I met through Dark Discussions.  That author's name is Gord Rollo. The two stories in question are Crowley's Window and Peeler.
     Rollo has a very distinctive style and weaves a tale masterfully. I enjoyed both of these stories; my only bitch about them is that they were a little too short and I was forced to leave Rollo's macabre world before I was ready. But we don't pick where the story ends and in the case of these two shorts they ended exactly where they were supposed to. 
     Gord Rollo has a number of books in publication that can be purchased on Amazon.com. His e-books are fairly inexpensive so be sure to check him out and once your finished, do him a solid and leave a review.

     Okay, time to set this aside and head North.

     Mj Preston

MJ Preston is the Author of the Horror Novel: THE EQUINOX
His new novel ACADIA EVENT is forecasted for release in late 2013

'The Equinox' is a tour de force of brilliant writing, fast-paced action, and gritty characterisation. 
Get your copy of The Equinox  
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Thursday, July 4, 2013


by MJ Preston

I have been reading since I was kid. I started out with comic books, moved up to novels written by the likes of Stephen King, Frank Herbert, Robert R McCammon and then there were scores of other writers, outside the realm of horror. To name a few, Frederick Forsyth and Tom Clancy who took me for a ride withThe Dogs of War or into the trenches of World War 3 with Red Storm Rising. My appetite for reading was not limited to fiction either, I grew very interested in true crime, historical events and I am an incurable news junkie. What am saying here? Well, I like reading, I don't get to do it nearly enough, but I try to do it as often as possible and if I can't settle back with a book, I'll plug in an audio book.

So, as hard as this might be to believe, I have a confession to make. Up until last year I had never read a single book by Dean Koontz. It wasn't because I had heard anything negative about Koontz, I just hadn't discovered him. Last year, I purchased an old book by him called: Lightening, which was a cool time travel bit in which Nazi's were trying to change the future. I followed this up with a book called: The Voice of the Night which he penned under the name Brian Coffey. The second book wasn't quite as good as the first, but Koontz has an interesting approach to story telling. I might not have picked up another book by Koontz, there are so many out there by so many capable authors and time seems to be the only thing holding me back from indulging in my favorite indulgence.

Six months ago, in a second hand store with my wife, who was clearly looking for something she could afford on my starving artists wages, I picked up a book another Koontz book for a quarter. I figured I'd grab the dog eared paperback and sit in the car while she toiled over the treasure trove of shit other people didn't want in their home. If the book was a dud I'd be out a quarter, if it wasn't I drag it along with me to any place I'd be happy to wait. 

Sitting down in the driver seat, setting it to recline, I thumbed open the paperback and was introduced to the main character who, in the first person, said, “My name is Odd Thomas.”

By the second paragraph, I was hooked and knew that when my wife came out I would have to grudgingly put the book down. 

As I quickly found out, Odd Thomas was a 20-Something Fry Cook slinging hash browns and pancakes in the Peco Mundo Grill, which was set somewhere on the California Coast. As Odd revealed himself, he made mention of his dysfunctional parents, with whom he is estranged – his adopted family, comprised of father figure, Chief Wyatt Porter, and his mentor, Little Ozzie, a morbidly obese and successful mystery writer who tells Odd to keep the tone of the story is telling you light. Most notably, Odd speaks of his love, Stormy Llewellyn with whom he is destined to spend the rest of his life. Once settling into the world of Odd Thomas, his family and friends I also discovered one other thing. Odd sees the dead,e and he attempts to help them to pass from this world to the next. Oh yeah, almost forgot to mention that many of those who come to Odd Thomas for help are often the victims of violent circumstances. In the opening of the first book, he is visited by the ghost of a brutally murdered girl and sets out to catch her killer. That is where the story opens, but doesn't end when he is successful in catching her killer.

In fact, it is only an introduction to the world of Odd Thomas who in the first book of the same name. Along with the victims of violent crimes, Odd often finds himself in the company of Elvis Presley's ghost, who has not moved on to the next world for reasons Odd has yet to understand. Oh yeah, one other thing. Odd also sees apparitions known as: Bodachs which he speculates are either demons or time travelers that feed off massive loss of life with horrific drama.

Anton Yelchin cast as Odd Thomas
I'm not going to spoil the books for you. I will tell you that I have read five of the Odd Thomas Books: Odd Thomas, Forever Odd, Brother Odd, Odd Hours, and Odd Apocalypse. And I'm not finished, there are more books to read and now a motion picture adaption of the first book. I can also confess that the humor and light tone of these books are a pleasant escape told completely in the first person. Odd Thomas, is a selfless individual who manages to stay upbeat and positive in the face of an adverse and cynical world. His only conceit is his greatest talent and I am paraphrasing here as he declares, “No one makes fluffier pancakes than me. So light and fluffy. they almost float of the plate.” Koontz delivers this likeable young man who has faces murder, mayhem, torture, heart wrenching loss, but still he carries on. 

Unlike you or I, Odd does not fear death, because he knows what waits for him, Odd continues his quest to give justice those who cannot demand it because as he puts it.

The dead don't speak.