Excerpts / About Writing

Love – Hate – Love


three stories


LOVE 1.0

a short story

by Michael C. Just

“I hate him.”

Candace smiled and nodded. She adjusted the gain on her speaker and clicked off her email to increase the bandwidth on the image. Sam came into resolution a little clearer.

“Are […]

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Writers Write, and They Rewrite

I’d like to write today about writing. Not the difficulties of being a self-published author of fiction, but the nuts and bolts, the process itself. I don’t have much of a horn to honk. I’m not a best-seller, but I do continue to write – fiction and non-fiction – across several genres. I’ve written screenplays, […]

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Presumed Fallen

Like a tiger stalking, Dania slinked through the lianas, careful to step over a death adder with his bare feet.  His little brother was somewhere behind, stalking him in their game of soldiers.  Dania pulled the New Guinean jungle from his eyes and saw the old Corsair.  Rhododendron strangled the fuselage, and what the vines […]

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Why Do You Write?

The hardest thing about writing isn’t writing. It’s what comes after you finish. And by that, I don’t mean editing, for writing is re-writing, and I probably enjoy going through a manuscript a few times even more than I do the first rough draft. No, what I’m talking about is the feedback, or lack thereof.

An […]

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Writing: It’s Between You and Yourself

I’d like to write about writing today. Actually, I’d rather not, but I must expiate me pain. I’ve been writing now for, oh, since about 7th grade when I wrote a parody on an old Mennen Skin Bracer commercial, with a disembodied hand that slowly crawled up a poor dude’s face and then slapped him […]

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This would be your cubicle

The title of my latest book is The Dirt: The Journey of a Cowboy Mystic. We have cowboy poets. Why not cowboy mystics? After all, the one essential quality of mysticism is that it chooses you as much as you choose it. No one can really set out to […]

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The World’s Nature

Vegas be fine, but . . .

What is the world?

I use the word in the temporal sense. The world is busy, blind, distracted by its own discord. The world is the purposeful creation of drama. It’s the need for speed. It is circular. It never arrives at the truth, though it reaches many […]

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The Local Relief

Disappear Here. Yale Does.

Landscape is an importabt part of my life. As did one of the main characters in my novel of mainstream-contemporary fiction, The Dirt, I grew up in Chicago. Landscape is of dwindling importance in a flat city. We had the lake, and we had our archictecture. Subjects like geology were […]

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Supreme Ordeal

The Supreme Ordeal for Many

In the last post, I discussed the 12-stage journey of the world myth. Popularized by scholar’s such as Joseph Campbell in The Hero with a Thousand Faces, and by psychiatrist, C. G. Jung, the hero’s journey is truly a universal phenomenon. The hero in most stories, regardless of culture […]

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Approaching the Inmost Cave

Cave near Comb Wash

The world myth represents a journey undertaken by the hero (used for both female and male characters) against an adversary of unimaginable powers.  In mythological tales which have existed for thousands of years, since the dawn, cross-cultural similarities regardless of time of emergence have been noted by scholars such as […]

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The Passing of a Man Already Dead

The Last of Dusk from Claycomb’s Last Day

Yale depended on Rolando Claycomb -a hard drinking old rancher with hardened veins – for his sustenance, his livelihood. I was defending Yale’s freedom in his guardianship trial. The State wanted to declare itself guardian over his person and property. He definitely had a person. His […]

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Lost to Ourselves

A trace of Yale

Sometimes, it’s not so much what happens, but how it happens. Think of all the misfortune in your life that you could have avoided, if only you would have known. Might you have steered clear of that doomed heading, averting the shoals of misfortune, making different choices along the chain […]

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The Fallen Snow

Late May storms 

It’s usually hot by this time of year. After all, we’ve only got 10 days before June. Monday is Memorial Day. I feel for the hummingbirds. They migrated up this way a couple weeks ago, and I’ve had to knock the snow and ice off their feeders and stick an ice […]

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Stripping Us from the Land

A sunset from Claycomb’s ranch

Rolando Claycomb was one of the last big ranchers left in the county, which was surrendering to development. My client, Yale, lived in a tiny, battered old Airstream up on blocks on Mr. Claycomb’s section of land. Yale served as a hand to help Mr. Claycomb run the place. […]

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Candlestick Tower,Canyonlands, a favorite place of contemplation for Yale

What can I say about Josh Shorty? Built like a tank, he had the temperament of one, too. Josh was a Navajo who practiced in the tribal courts all over Dinetah, as well as representing Anglo defendants in a flourishing criminal defense practice in gateway […]

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The Players in The Dirt

Yale would disappear,& they’d find him here

I’ve always had this hair-brained genius for public speaking, coupled with stumbling onto the truth by accident. But it takes so much more to be a topnotch litigator like my friend Josh Shorty, a pit bull criminal defense attorney who practices in the tribal courts.

To be a […]

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Wisdom on a Wendy’s Napkin

Lava Tube,Nevada

My ex-girlfriend, Udenni, once said that savants aggregate in the areas of numeric calculation, arcane memory retrieval, music played by ear, and drawing. But that itch inside me wanted to believe, craved believing. And so I convinced myself that Yale possessed the savant-like gift of sagacity.

He couldn’t do simple arithmetic, and the […]

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The Dirt – Excerpt

I was due at his trailer to go over the rest of his testimony. Hadn’t slept in nights. Not real sleep. Just veering into the vacant rooms of dreams without inhabiting them, or snagging a voice that called my name. Udenni’s voice. Seeing her face. Feeding my tears into the Dolores, the River of Sorrows. […]

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Killing Off Your Personal Savior

Fence Post,Montezuma County

To believe in yourself is of utmost importance. All the sages say that. The question they can’t answer, is what to believe about yourself.

What are we? Where do we come from? Where are we going? Once you dust all the dirt from the headstone, these are the questions that remain. We […]

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Lost in Fire

It was as if he came into this world from nowhere, and left it, sliiping into nowhere again. He had a past, but it was obscure. I had to dig to find out where he was born, who his family had been. As if he wanted to remain an enigma to this world, no matter […]

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My Private Shaman

Montezuma Valley,Four Corners

I come up here for the color. Mostly for the sunsets. In the picture above, you’re in Colorado, looking through a false saddle into Arizona, into Navajoland. On the left, barely made out in the darkest blue, are the cliffs of Mesa Verde. To the right, the little toe sticking out […]

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Buried Alive

An entrance into the Underworld

When  I was a child, I suffered a life-altering at age 2 1/2. So indelibly etched it was upon me that I have some memory of it. When children experience PTSD, they will often suffer dreams of unrecognizable content. I went through night terrors. Years later, I see the connection between […]

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Dream Come True

What you might find in your dreams

Being a psychonaut, one who explores the inner depths of the psyche through mind travel, I’ve always been fascinated by the dreams of sleep. Lately, what I’ve been reading and who I’ve been studying in this area has been cross-conferencing in a synchronous way: Dr. Rubin Naiman […]

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Underworld Uncovered – The Horror, The Horror


Are you afraid of what lies beneath?


Ever since the Morlocks of H.G. Wells’s The Time Machine, every era of science fiction and horror has its underground stories, its subterranean tales. The underworld genre has been criticized because the world created often takes no real account of what it would be like to explore […]

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Walking through purple landscapes with pink bunnies has decided disadvantages

A Victim of my Own Fantasy

A writer, especially a science fiction writer, especially a writer of dark fantasy and horror, is victimized by her own imagination.  I mean, I’ve read Stephen King of course. I’ve read about him, what he’s written about writing (he’s […]

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Everyone knows what it feels like to be the fish out of water. We are each, in our own unique way, exiles on a planet called Earth. In fact, to be unique is part of our banishment, for were we each alike, we would, perhaps, feel at home in our sameness.

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Back Yard

How many times have you wandered far, looking for something that sat under your nose? Maybe looked all over the friggin’ house for the car keys, only to find them in – that’s right – your hand.

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Excerpt from The Crippy

from Chapter 42.

Angelfire fell asleep after that.  A few minutes later he woke up, and shook his head like a wet dog.

“Man, I just had the weirdest dream that I turned into a giant magnifying glass, and then the sun set me on fire.  And before that, you know?  I don’t remember what […]

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Excerpt from ‘The Mind Altar’

from Chapter 31. 

They shuffled single file through a series of corridors separated by security doors like bulkheads in a ship.  They neared the end of the mapped part of the Facility, and they slowed as they reached the paddocks.

Gray led them.  With a stubborn mind that never seemed to forget anything, he remembered the […]

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Writing the Dirt

I live out in the country in the extreme southwest of Colorado, 10 miles from the nearest town, a quarter-mile from my nearest neighbor. I’m 40 miles from Durango, where I drive to do business three times a week. When you take a job, you must be willing to drive long distances. I worked one […]

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Just WTF is a Mind Altar, Anyway?

Got the notion for this book a long time ago. When I was a boy, I had boy friends, like most boys. But for some reason, I also had a girl friend. It was clear even at the age of 8, that we weren’t playing house. She was a friend, and I felt we had […]

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What Is a Crippy, and What Do They Do

I’d heard the term used before, but when my editor started editing, she called and said she couldn’t find a reference to crippy online. I kinda shrugged and said: “Let’s use it anyway.” I liked the word. FYI, a crippy is a cryptographer, someone who makes or breaks code.

I got the idea to write about […]

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