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.