The importance of schedules

First off, the good news! My story ‘Hell is here, and it’s trying my patience.’ has been accepted by Vagabondage Press for their upcoming Ink Stains anthology! To say I am happy is a bit of an understatement. I honestly didn’t think I would get this one published because, well, it’s weird. The plot revolves around the opening to hell showing up right off the Downtown onramp. Then nothing happens and continues to do so as people get used to living with constant abject horror possibly showing up at anytime. File under dark comedy. Either way; YAY!!!

But what I really brought us all together for is to talk about the importance of schedules. It’s been on my mind lately because I haven’t been nearly as productive as I should be. (Okay, yes, I am never  as productive as I think I should be and will probably never meet my output expectations.  I’ve learned to live with that.)  A recent conversation with a friend about scheduling life and creative output put me in gear to finally do something about it.

Thinking back to before we moved to PA (nearly a year ago!!) I wrote, did promo, practiced bass, ran a radio show/station, slept, spent time with Mel, and even had somewhat of a social life.  All this while working 50+ hours a week.  How the hell did I do that?!  I’m working roughly a 45 hour week, very small social life, and no radio show, yet I feel that I’ve gotten nothing done since moving here.  To be fair, the first year in a new place is busy, and I expected that.  The little slave driver in my head does not except this as an acceptable answer, but he can go suck eggs.

The key is scheduling.  Both Mel and I have set work schedules and life has settled around that, as it is wont to do. Now to plan my life around that.  I could rail against the injustice of having to plan our lives around our jobs and not vice versa, but it is what it is. Planning out work, and play times, is the key to getting anything done. And the key to planning is finding balance. I could just play DOOM and my bass all day and write in those moments I can sneak in but for me that isn’t a good balance. Priorities can help dictate how you even everything out so you become happy with your output schedule. I want to write more, feel more productive, and increase my output time therefore my emphasis will be on that.

Play time is important too.  You have to make time to relax, or do things that help you relax. I’ll slip in some DOOM when I can because it’s a relaxation thing, but not a priority.  Bass is a priority, but it rides that line of relaxation and creative output so I try to make actual time for it. Sometimes you just want to say ‘hang it all, Imma watch a movie and eat a whole box of Mike and Ikes’.  And that’s cool, we all need a break, as long as it’s just that and not a habit that cuts into your schedule.

Here’s mine, it’s simple and easy.  It’s also mutable, if I need to change it I can, but will only do so if I see a benefit to it.

It’s that easy.  Monday, Friday, and Sunday, Mel is off so I like to spend time with her.  Mondays and Tuesday, I usually go to work early and I don’t have a lot of time.  Promo work has usually been a Tuesday thing for me, so it works out.  Wednesday and Thursday, I usually go in later which leaves me with more time to settle in and write.  Saturday and Sunday I’m off; lots of time to work and get some R&R in so I don’t burn my ass out. (And yes, I am domesticated and I actually like getting housework done, for those of you who noticed.)

Of course keeping to it is the name of the game. A commitment to stick to what you’ve laid out is what makes the whole thing work. Sometimes just knowing that I committed myself to a schedule will help me power through those times when I’m just not feeling it, or I think my head is too empty of ideas to get anything written that day. Other times, things come up and I’m not able to keep to it.  That’s fine.  I just make up for later on by putting extra time in on another day.  See, that balance thing again.

Scheduling is important for life in general, but especially so if you want to get anything else done besides that ol’ 9 to 5. Because, let’s face it, most of us don’t earn a paycheck doing what we want. Let’s make the rest of the time count, otherwise, what’s the point?

Punctually yours,
-Your Weird Uncle Mick



Break time

ANNOUNCEMENT: I’m pooped.  

I have decided to take a wee break.  After some consideration, I am going to take a month off.  Since I got the news that NSO was to be published, I’ve focused time, energy, and all waking thoughts on writing and the writing business.   That was over three years ago.  

My published output hasn’t been as prolific as others, but as a working writer (read: writer with a 9 to 5) those times I’m not at work is spent with my brain on the biz.  It doesn’t help that it’s been a rough year.  Personally, the big cross country move has taken some time to catch up from.  Add that to a heavily saturated market and a very unstable socio-political environment, selling books has been a little rough, to say the least. Realizing it is one thing, not letting them get to you is another.  I can dwell on things at nearly superhuman speed, and you can bet your sweet bippy I have let it chew me up way more than it should have.

Another thing that I am a gold medal winner at is to work myself in to a corner of relentless self-induced pressure. Once I hit that point I get less and less done.  As someone who keeps their depression  at bay with productivity, decreasing said productivity starts the little goblins in my head a-chattering.  When those bastards start up, no good can come of it.

So, I’m not doing shit until after New Years.  Sorta.

I’ve got three short stories and a novel submitted to various publishers, so I’m not completely static.  And you can expect some promo and blog posts, because it is the Holidays, after all.  I’m taking a break, not shooting myself in the foot. But as for actual writing, worrying about book sales, sorting through various projects, and all that: it can wait until I’ve had a chance to sit back put my feet up for a moment.

Plus it’ll help me get focus. I’ve so many WIP’s right now that I need to prioritize and then stick to it. Part of my problem right now, (well, most of the time) has a lot to do with too many irons, not enough fire.  

Come the New Year, I will be able to set a plan and stick to it.  I will also have a new battle strategy as far as getting more books out to more people, that I can promise. 

Be ready kids.      

Love,                                                                      -Your Weird Uncle Mick

Remember kids: stay in school, don’t drink and drive, and the boss says take five.

Weird Uncle Mick’s Guide to the Holidays

I hope you all have survived Thanksgiving, or at least in dealing with the folks who do Thanksgiving.  The Christmas season is fast approaching in it’s wake. Now I know that not everyone celebrates the holidays the same way. In the last couple of years, I’ve seen more and more people disconnecting themselves from the traditional holidays, or just dropping them altogether.  I honestly can’t blame them for it. In a sense I have too.

Now don’t fret, your favorite weird uncle isn’t going to stop coming around.  I mean, someone has to spike the egg nog. But, like so many others, I have taken a long hard look at these holidays.  Speaking specifically about the big three; Thanksgiving, Christmas, and New Years, from here on out speaking of them as holiday ‘seasons’ and not as the actual holiday themselves.  I have a reason for that, which I will explain.

Let’s start with Thanksgiving. Every third Thursday in November, we gather ’round the dinner table and gorge ourselves on a carb and protein binge fest.  Now, we were told in school that we do this because the Pilgrims and the Native Americans sat together as a sign of peace and friendship. Anyone who has ever opened up an American History book can smell the bullshit on this like an after dinner fart.  White folks of European decent committed genocide on the native population in both hemispheres of the Americas.  This isn’t debate, this is fact. So I say #fuckpilgrims. I say let’s get together, enjoy the bounty of the fall harvests, but roll up our pilgrim decorations and smoke them.  This is time to come together with family and friends.  Let’s enjoy some food and reflect what we’re thankful for.  We don’t need genocidal maniacs to have a holiday devoted to thanks.

Christmas season is a loaded time, even for the best of us.  There are a lot of people who have nothing, and no one, or what they do have is horrible memories and shitty people around them. I say, to hell with it, make your own holiday of it. If a hack comedian can come up with ‘Festivus’ and people take that shit semi-seriously, I know you can come up with something tailor-made for yourself. I guess it’s because that time around the 25th of December is a magical time. Is it because we were told it was, for so long?  Could it be because of the Solstice? Or could it be because it just simply is?  I like this time of year, despite being a grumpy ass.  I’ll admit to being afflicted with some warm fuzzies.

Warm Fuzzies in their natural state.

Here is the thing about Christmas: not everyone is Christian. This so called ‘War on Christmas’ comes up every year.  (No it’s not a war on Christmas, its a bunch of people who can’t handle the fact that others have different ideas than their own and they are uncomfortable about it) But ya see, there are a number of cultural and religious holidays that come up this time of year also. So I refer to Christmas as being more of a season than referring to the actual holiday.  This is not to diminish any non-christian celebrations, it’s just habit.  My spiritual holiday is the Solstice, as I am pagan and not Christian.  But I celebrate on the 25th also because this is cultural. There has been enough of a secular influence on the holiday that it has become more a part of our culture than religion for a large number of us. And I’m cool with that.

Again, this is a time to come together with friends and family.  A time to appreciate each other and deal with the fact that everything is about to get frozen and snowed over for a few more months. I think the orgy of gift giving should be pared down to a few meaningful gifts, but that’s just me.  Hell, I’m happy with a phone call and a beer. (for some people, their absence is present enough for me)

To reiterate;  there are other holidays during this time of year. And they celebrate differently. So if you get offended when someone doesn’t mention your particular winter celebration when greeting you, tough shit and get over it.  You can either politely correct them, or (and I know this is a long shot) appreciate that they were wishing you good cheer and magical holiday juju in their own personal way.

New Years.  I really don’t give a much of a damn about New Years.  I don’t like getting shit-faced drunk, or dealing with shit-faced drunks.  I get a nice buzz, wait for it to wear off so I’m not hungover in the morning, kiss my beloved for luck, and then go to bed. I know there is resolutions and crap, but they have become a bit of a joke.  At best, it’s a time to get a game plan set up for the coming year and take advantage of the one day off. (And the time and a half you get when they ask you to work on the extra day off you were supposed to have.)

Moral of the story: The holiday season is a mixed bag and different for everyone. Let’s keep that in mind and just enjoy it in our ways.  It’s time to celebrate, a time to reflect, and a time to enjoy. Make it work for you and yours.  And if anyone gives you guff about it, then send them a bag of dicks. (Actual real thing)

Remember kids: stay in school, don’t drink and drive, and watch out where the huskies go and don’t you eat that yellow snow.

Whatchu want?

I have a plan.  I always have plans, but most wind up sitting on shelves, keeping company with all the other plans that I previously made.

I have a plan.

It is to use blog more than I have in the past.  And I actually will, honest and truly.  The thing is, I would like to use it so others want to come look at it. That is why I am reaching out to you, faithful readers and visitors: whatchu want?  What would you like to see more of? It does me no good to post things if no one wants to read it.  So I open it up to you.

Want more update type posts?
Want more lists?
Want work in progress story excerpts?
Want more cat pics and memes? (this one is facetious, but I’ll do it if properly motivated)
Want more book reviews? (or just reviews in general? I can do music, the news, your kids macaroni art, whatever)
Want more of something I haven’t listed?

This is your venue to help me create content that you would like.  I am nothing, if not a servant of the people.

Let me know.  Leave comments, or email me michaelr422@yahoo(.)com.  Whatchu want?

Remember kids; stay in school, don’t drink and drive, and I am here to kick ass and chew bubblegum. I’m all out of ass.

A nice little list of Halloween songs

I was trying to find something new and interesting to round off this October full of Halloween themed goodness.  I batted around a bunch of ideas and decide to cave to the obvious.  I did books and movies, makes sense that we do some music too.  Here is a list of songs to get you in the mood, and maybe put on your Halloween Party Play List. Enjoy!

A Nightmare On My Street – DJ Jazzy Jeff & The Fresh Prince

Somebody’s Watching Me – Rockwell

Season of the Witch – Donovan

Whistling Past the Graveyard – Screaming Jay Hawkins

I Was a Teenage Werewolf – The Cramps

Ghost Town – The Specials

The Wolf – Fever Ray  (Stretching a little bit with the Halloween theme, but just put the headphones on and make sure you have 4 uninterrupted minutes)

The Boogie Monster – Gnarls Barkley

She Said – Jon Spencer Blues Explosion

Everyday is Halloween -Ministry (Legally obligated to play this every year)

Lords of Salem – Rob Zombie

Werecow – Flippy T Fishhead (A Dr. Demento favorite)

Bloodsucker – Paralysed Age

Creepy Crawler – Zombie Girl

Walking With A Ghost – Tegan And Sara

Fresh Blood – Eels

Remember Kids: stay in school, don’t drink and drive, and listen to creepy tunes.

A nice little list of classic Halloween movies

I have a soft spot for classic movies, especially classic horror and thrillers.  And by classic I mean black & white, scratchy, and often a little cheesy. I watch these movies year round, but during the Halloween season, its the most fun to watch them.  There are a few that I will absolutely watch, no matter what, so don’t bug me, during this time.  My all time favorite movie ever is Dracula (1931).  On Halloween, or as close as I can get to it, this will be watched.

Now don’t get me wrong, I love more modern movies.  Especially ones that can actually scare the crap out of me.  But there are much better lists out there than what I can put together, so I’ll just go with what I know.

For this list I tried to keep it before the 70’s, just for the sake of a reference point. During the 60’s you see a sharp change in cinema, and horror especially. By time the 70’s hit, the game had completely changed.

Classic movies to watch on Halloween

(I did not include the usual Universal classics like Dracula, Wolf Man, Frankenstein, and the like just because they are given.  If you aren’t watching them, then you need to stop what you are doing, completely restart the month, and do it over. Though I am hard pressed not to suggest Bride of Frankenstein, or the even creepier Abbott and Costello meet The Mummy.)

Silent Movies

Nosferatu (1922)– The original vampire movie, predating the Count by nearly a decade.  Dark and full of atmosphere, given it’s a silent movie, it also has some killer special effects.  The story should be fairly familiar if you know how the story of Dracula goes, but no less as good.

The Cabinet of Dr. Caligari (1920)– Maybe more of an art film than horror, it is still disturbing and creepy.  The manipulative Dr. Caligari and his somnambulist Cesare (played by Joker inspiration Conrad Veidt) wreck havoc over a pair of young lovers in very expressionism inspired scenes.

Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde (1920)– John Barrymore (Yes, Drew Barrymore’s grandfather) plays the doctor and the monster one of the most remade horror stories of all time.  The ‘real time’ transformation of Jekyll to Hyde scared the crap out of audiences in it’s day.  Even now, it’s still fairly impressive.


The Vampire Bat (1933)– Starring horror stalwarts Lionel Atwell and Dwight Frye, it also includes Fay Wray, who would get manhandled by King Kong later the same year. Typical of its time, the use of shadow and insinuation lead to the supernatural but winds up just being a bad guy after all.  Still a fun movie to watch with a tub of popcorn in your lap.

White Zombie (1932) – Back when zombies were still a product of voodoo and not a marketing ploy for undead cannibals, this Bela Lugosi movie helped start off a whole genre of zombie flicks.  (Granted, most of them reeeaallly racist) Let me state that this whole damned list would have Bela in it, if I didn’t feel the need to diversify.  After Dracula, he got pigeon-holed and couldn’t lead another feature with the big studios, so he took on a lot of horror and thriller movies with ‘poverty row’ studios.  White Zombie was more middle of the road.  It wasn’t Dracula but still atmospheric and full of Bela’s over-the-top creepy acting.

House of Dracula (1945) – With the continued popularity of the monster movies, the studios thought it a good idea to put them all together, so they did the  ‘House of..” series.  They started with House of Frankenstein and by the time they got to House of Dracula, the idea had about dried up.  The plans for House of the Wolf Man got turned into Abbott and Costello meet Frankenstein. (poor Wolfy) Dracula doesn’t make it past the first 30 minutes, and dies embarrassingly, to give you an idea of the cheese factor, but its still a great Halloween treat.

Horror Hotel (aka City of the Dead) (1960) – Satanists make good little boogeymen.  Movie monsters turned more to either the Devil, or the human monster, in the 60’s.  Christoper Lee stars in this smokey little tale of a young student studying the history of witchcraft for a college course.  She is led to a spooky little New England town and quickly gets in over her head.

I Bury the Living (1958) – Working in a cemetery is bad enough, but when Richard Boone finds out that by changing the pins on the cemetery map from unoccupied to occupied, the owners all mysteriously die.  Of course with this sort of power, things goes south rather quickly.

Any William Castle movie – From the man who brought us the original House on Haunted Hill and 13 Ghosts, anything he puts out is going to be fun to watch in October. This is the same guy who rigged buzzers to movie chairs during the theatrical run of his movie, The Tingler.  Just imagine if he would have gone into porno…..

Psycho (1960) – Anthony Perkins and the most famous shower scene in history.  Need I say more?  A classic for a reason.

Night of the Living Dead (1968) – Forget all the modern zombie flicks.  This is where it started. Relying less on gore, and whether they can run fast or not, this movie is psychological and intense.  Definitely a must watch.

It’s the Great Pumpkin, Charlie Brown (1966) – Don’t judge. This one and Charlie Brown Christmas are my happy place.

Honorable Mentions –

The Exorcist (1973)- I am legally obligated to put this on the list because it is still one of the best horror movies ever made.

An American Werewolf in London (1981) – I’m adding this on here because it’s another one of my personal traditions.  It invariably winds up on tv, at some point, and I will invariably watch it without fail.  (fun fact: when I was a kid, the radio station would go off air at midnight.  The local television station’s audio would bleed through sometimes. One night they were showing this movie and little Mick got to listen to the ending which is all snarling, ripping, and screaming.  Then Blue Moon by The Marcels played as credits roll.  Kinda traumatized me. Also might explain a lot about me)

Remember kids; stay in school, don’t drink and drive, and don’t hog all the damned popcorn.

A nice little list of Halloween stories

There is nothing more Halloween than a good scary story.  In fact it is the most Halloween thing there is.  While some of us pretty much treat the entire year like All Hallow’s Eve; October is a fine time to break out the good stuff.  If you happen to be looking for a good book, or short story, to get into the spirit, then here are a few of my suggestions.  Admittedly, a few of these are fairly standard but that’s why they have stood the test of time. (Of course, Night Shall Overtake should be on your list already.  *wink, wink*)

Novels –
Dracula – Bram Stoker : Read it when I was 11 years old and it creeped me out.  Still the standard bearer for the dark and spooky.  Victorian horror at it’s best.

Exorcist – William Peter Blatty: One of the few books I have ever read, finished, and them immediately turned back to the first page and read it again.  Everything you could possibly want in good horror.

Lost Souls & Drawing Blood – Poppy Brite: Poppy Brite (now Billy Martin) published these two novels full of sex, drugs, and music that profoundly influenced me in so many ways.  Both of these novels, while completely separate stories, usually get read together when I pick them up. Bloody and dangerous, these aren’t your daddy’s horror.

Let the Right One In – John Ajvide Lindqvist: Stark, cold, and disturbing.  Set in a cold Norwegian winter, it seems as if the sun never emerges to chase away the dark narrative.  It reminds us that vampires are not always the tortured romantics we’ve had lately. Both movies are worth a watch, but the novel has a texture that makes it nearly impossible to put it down, or forget.

It – Stephen King: Okay, just hear me out.  I know that it is expected now that the movie is out.  While I haven’t seen it yet (and I’m sure I will once it shows up on Netflix) it has to be better than the made-for-tv movie. (no disrespect to Tim Curry who gave a generation of kids a fear of clowns)  The book, however, is one of King’s best. It’s one of the few that would creep me out as a kid, and still do so as an adult.

Something Wicked This Way Comes – Ray Bradbury: Just a fantastic story. Nice and dark with all that Bradbury goodness.  Still a little surprised Disney made a movie out of it.  Both should be a seasonal tradition.

The Damnation Game – Clive Barker: I am such a huge fan of Clive Barker’s writing, it’s slightly absurd.  Most of his writing is more on the side of dark fantastique, but his earlier stuff, like Books of Blood, were great frightfests.  The Damnation Game is a little bit of both and just one hell of a good ride.

Soul Sister – G.W. Wright: Recently finished this novel and it needs to be on a list such as this.  Creepy, dark, and poignant; it’s one that will go quick simply because you will be hard pressed to put it down.

The Horror Squad – T.J. Weeks: My current read (sorry T.J., just now getting to it) and you should be thankful that I put it down long enough to write all this.  It’s fun, bloody, and action-packed. It’s also spawned it’s own series and a comic adaption.

Masterpiece of Terror series – Edited by Marvin Kaye: These anthologies, edited by Marvin Kaye, and often with covers illustrated by Edward Gorey, were my favorites to check out at the library when I was younger.  Stories ranging from Stoker and La Fanu, to more contemporary like Oates and Matheson, filled these with some of my favorite stories ever.  Some editions were just supernatural stories, other more thematic, such as the Devils and Demons edition.  If you can find them, grab them immediately.

The Haunting of Hill House – Shirley Jackson: Do I really need to say anything about this one?  THE classic haunted house story.

Honorable mentions:

The Keep – F. Paul Wilson: Yes, the one they made that very avante-horror movie of in the 80’s.  Nothing like Nazi’s trying to control the supernatural, only to have the tables turned. The story is fairly standard, but the atmosphere is totally worth it.

Servants of Twilight – Dean Koontz: To be honest, I haven’t read this one.  I have it on good authority (my better half, Melody) that it is amazing, creepy, and everything a good horror story should be. Because I trust her taste in the macabre implicitly, I felt this list incomplete without it.

Joyce Carol Oates – Despite her family epics and deep fictions, few realize the Oates can spin a spooky yarn.  She has put out more than a few scary short stories and novels.  Mysteries of Winterthurn and Bellefluer are great novels, or try The Others for shorter fare.

Short stories: (maybe some tales to tell around the bonfire?)

Dracula’s Guest – Bram Stoker: Published posthumously by Stoker’s widow, I can only assume that it was part of an alternate chapter from Dracula that didn’t make the cut. A great gloomy tale of everyone’s favorite vampire. (You might try The Judge’s Guest, by Stoker, as well.  A nice little spine-tingler.)

Carmilla – Sheridan La Fanu: A vampire tale as classic and beloved as Dracula, Carmilla is a delicate and bloody tale that is both subtle and blatant in its LGBT overtones.

The Night Wire – H.F. Arnold: While I’m not sure this is the original, it’s a story that’s been readapted many times.  The classic haunted technology story where the dire warnings come from beyond the grave. (I think Dickens may have started this traditional tale with his ghost story No.1 Branch Line – The Signal-Man. Someone should look into it.)

The Sixth Sentinel – Poppy Brite: From her Wormwood collection, a fun little story of cohabitation from the ghost’s perspective.

Shuggoth’s Old Peculiar – Neil Gaiman: A properly slimy and dank nod to H.P. Lovecraft.

The Yattering and Jack – Clive Barker: Squaring off with a demon isn’t all fun and games.  You’ll find yourself gritting your teeth along with Jack in this man vs. damnation tale.

Dying in Bangkok – Dan Simmons: From the NSFW anthology Little Deaths, this rather adult tale is another take on the vampire that will stick with you.

Those of you who have been paying attention noticed that I haven’t mentioned any stories from Edgar Allen Poe, H.P. Lovecraft, or even Mary Shelly.  That’s because these are givens.  Poe and Shelly should be mandatory for any Halloween reading, in my humble opinion. Lovecraft, though a favorite, isn’t for everyone.

So there we are, a few suggestions for some October reading.  While not even close to complete, it’s a good place to start. Check out my book review page as well.  There are even more suggestions there.  Happy (spooky) reading!

Remember kids: stay in school, don’t drink and drive, and read something that scares you.