Excerpts / About Writing

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’m not a best-seller, but I continue to write – fiction and non-fiction – across several genres. I’ve written screenplays, short fiction, novels, inspirational short and long nonfiction, nature fiction […]

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Presumed Fallen – A Free Short Story

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 I finish. And by that, I don’t mean editing, since 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 man’s lapel and then slapped him and […]

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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 the mystic path is that it chooses you as much as you choose it. No one can really set […]

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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 reasoning. It never arrives at the truth, though it reaches […]

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The Local Relief

Disappear Here. Yale Does.

Landscape is an important part of my life. As did one of the main characters in my novel of mainstream-contemporary fiction, The Dirt, I spent most of my life in Chicago. Landscape is of dwindling importance in a flat city. Growing up, we had the lake, and we had our […]

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Final Battle

What’s at the End of Your Rainbow?

In the 12-stage journey of the hero popularized by mythologists such as Joseph Campbell, writers such as Chris Vogler, and the psychiatrist, Carl Jung, the hero undergoes many hardships on her way to psychological transformation.

Like Sarah Connor in the Terminator series, she may begin life quite commonly […]

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Supreme Ordeal

The Supreme Ordeal 

In the last post, I discussed the 12-stage journey of the world myth. Popularized by mythologist’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 or time […]

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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) which leads to a battle against an adversary of unimaginable power.  In mythological tales which have existed for thousands of years, cross-cultural similarities have been noted by scholars such as Joseph Campbell in […]

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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. […]

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Lost to Ourselves

A trace of Yale

I’ve always felt this rootlessness, this restlessness, never felt at home in my own skin. Condemned to search for meaning, the formulaic truisms of the world never fit me well. You know, the ones you may find in a religion or a certain philosophy or the equations for happiness provided […]

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The Fallen Snow

Late May storms 

It’s usually hot by this time of year. Only got 10 days left 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 off their feeders and stick an ice pick through the nectar […]

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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 a knack for 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 […]

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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 runes, 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, slipping 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.

Yale wanted me […]

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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. In the left foreground, barely made out in the darkest blue, are the cliffs of Mesa Verde. To the right, the little toe sticking […]

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The Dirt, A New Novel

The Dirt, a novel which combines themes mystical and psychological with the backdrop of the American Southwest, is now available in paperback ($12.99) and e-book formats ($2.99). It pits Yale Forestall, a cowhand with a traumatic past who suffers from a rare language disorder, against the State, which seeks to limit his freedom through guardianship. […]

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The Big Empty

Navajo Lake, Gladstone Peak in the background

It’s been said that reality is as much what it isn’t as what it is, that the true path leads to emptiness, that God is as much nonbeing as It is being. As a reader of books of esoteric spirituality, I was always confused — and very […]

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Buried Alive

An entrance into the Underworld

When I was a child, I suffered a life-altering experience at age 3. So indelibly etched it was upon me that I have some memory of it. When children experience PTSD, they’ll often suffer dreams of unrecognizable content. I went through night terrors. Years later, I see the connection between these […]

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The Crippy, a novel of fantasy and science fiction, is available on amazon. The Mind Altar, in the horror and science fiction genres, will be available on amazon on June 1st.

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Dreams Come True

In dreams, the laws of the waking world are suspended

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 has been cross-conferencing in a synchronous way: Dr. Rubin Naiman of the Center for Integrative […]

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Straggling lamb in the mountains

Hiking with a friend in the mountains above Dolores, this flock of sheep aggressively blocked us and we were forced to stay in the vehicle. What struck me was the lamb that loitered in front of the vehicle. She (or he) seemed lost for a moment. The Crippy, my […]

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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. Even thousands of years, the underworld was the subject of mythology. The underworld genre has been criticized because the world created often takes […]

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The Mystery of the Mountain of the North

Dibe’ Ntsaa, Mountain of the North

The mountain you see is known as Dibe’ Ntsaa, the Navajo Sacred Mountain of the North. It represents the northern boundary of Dine’tah, or Navajoland. The old stories associate it with the color black. First Man created it as a replica of mountains in the Fourth World. With […]

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San Miguels

You’re looking at the backside of the San Miguels, near a place called Groundhog, in mid-March. It’s still near impossible to get to the actual Groundhog Lake this time of year. Snow and mud will stop you out, as two vehicles which passed me by as I walked the road found out. […]

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The Hiding Place


Mt. Trumbull and the Uinkarets, on the horizon

What would you do if you had to come here to hide? The Crippy, a novel which contains elements of mystery, suspense, science fiction and fantasy, will introduce you to these trackless lands.

You’re looking inside a 277-mile-long throat, almost 20 miles wide in places, and up […]

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Refuge in Mystery

The Inner Gorge, from Dutton Point

I’m not a very peaceful man, from the inside-out. Most of us aren’t. Peace shouldn’t depend on a place, and yet, one of the only places I experience peace is at Grand Canyon. To me, the Canyon remains a place of mystery, suspense and solitude. Much of my […]

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Beef Basin

Six Shooter Peaks, with Bridger Jack Mesa

Some landscapes bring me to tears. When I drive up highway 211 toward the Needles District of Canyonlands, I begin to understand the meaning of the old truism that it’s the journey, not the destination, that matters. I have this 6-cylinder Silverado I bought from a State trooper. I […]

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A Victim of my Own Fantasy

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’ve read Stephen King of course. I’ve read about him, what he’s written about writing (he’s a masterful, […]

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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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My Own 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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White Canyon


At rim of White Canyon, with Henry Mountains

People often ask me what I was doing before I started writing. Well, no they really don’t, but I’m supposed to blog about stuff like that to sell my books. But, if you were to ask me what I was doing before I started writing, I’d tell […]

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Is There an Unbreakable Code?

The Crippy begins when a little girl with a strange talent – the ability to speak any language and break any code – is kidnapped by Men in Black. Of course, the world would covet such a child. Governments would. Enemies of governments would. Organized crime, hackers, corporations, just about anyone would see such a […]

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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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Narrow Canyon is Why I Write

Narrow Canyon, looking east

People ask me why I write. Well, I ask myself why I write. People don’t really care. In a way, to write is to travel. I used to live in Chicago, and even after I moved out to the Four Corners and was stuck in some crummy office when I […]

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Just WTF is a Mind Altar, Anyway?

available on amazon at The Mind Altar – Kindle edition by Just, Michael. Mystery, Thriller & Suspense Kindle eBooks @ Amazon.com.

Got the notion for The Mind Altar a long time ago. When I was a boy, I had male friends, like most boys. But I also had a girl friend. She was a friend, and […]

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What Is a Crippy?

Available on amazon at Amazon.com: The Crippy eBook : Just, Michael: Kindle Store

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 […]

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If You Can Do Anything Else Besides Write, By All Means, Do

I started writing in 7th grade. Of course, you don’t aspire at that age. You just write ‘cuz it’s fun. The problem is aspiring. To anything. It’s so self-conscious. Anyway, my story parodied an old Mennen Skin Bracer (male cologne) commercial. It was comedy-horror: a disembodied hand crawls up a guy’s shirt and then, at […]

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