Blog for updates and musings for author Michael R Collins. Also the home for his radio show Saint Zero's Headphone Bleed.
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Let’s face it, as of this writing, the world around us is scary as hell. I don’t care who you are or what side you are on, things are not zen. From those who are being harassed, marginalized, and abused to those who harass, marginalize and abuse;* we’re all a little on edge right now. … Continue reading Writing (and reading) dark shit during...
Let’s face it, as of this writing, the world around us is scary as hell. I don’t care who you are or what side you are on, things are not zen. From those who are being harassed, marginalized, and abused to those who harass, marginalize and abuse;* we’re all a little on edge right now. If you are one of those that look around and say, “I don’t know what everyone is so upset about, things are fine,” you are an idiot and part of the problem.
Here’s the deal; being scared or reading creepy dark tales is a fun activity. We do it for a thrill and we do it because we find pleasure in it. But if the world is falling apart, most aren’t inclined to use their free time to give themselves the willies from a well-crafted horror yarn. It’s all too easy for the mind’s eye to turn the fictitious slobbering monster or knife-wielding maniac into the very real zealous fundamentalist crusading to angrily subjugate your entire existence. And you picked up the book to take a break from that jackass, so that’s no help.
It leaves us frustrated because we want to read that stuff. From a writer’s perspective, we want to write it as well. I mean, this should be prime time for us. Inspiration everywhere! Metaphors abound! Source material overload! But the difference between imaginary fear and real fear is often a matter of turning on the TV or stepping out the front door. As horror and dark fiction writers, this real fear can make it difficult to sit and pen your creepy tales because if people are already scared, why the hell would they want to scare themselves for fun?
Because of heavy metal music.
Stay with me on this.
It doesn’t have to be heavy metal music, it can be any music that generates a strong emotional response, but we’ll use heavy metal for the sake of an example. When you’re angry, the tendency is to listen to angry music. Why? It speaks to us. It’s an aural example of what we are feeling and it doesn’t judge. You strap on your headphones, or crank the volume past ‘10’ but not quite to ‘piss off the entire block’, and hit play. Maybe it’s only a song, maybe it’s a three-hour long marathon of head banging and crying. After submerging yourself in the music, you emerge refreshed. You feel better because it blew off steam, cleaned out the pipes, and burned off the excess. The same applies to horror. Even in nerve-wracking times, we need to have that scare and dark thrill. It blows off steam, and at the very least, helps gain perspective. After a good ghost story, you can sit back and think to yourself, “Maybe things aren’t so bad, at least the evil that is making my life a living hell has to adhere to the laws of physics.”
As a writer, this is a prime time to use our powers for good. Horror and dark fiction are one of the leading causes of metaphors (for metaphors lasting longer than four hours, please consult a physician). We can use our pants- soiling tales to help make the world a better place. Got something about the world you’d like to change? Throw it in there. Our genre has a long tradition of being on message, so why stop now. In fact, I challenge you to find any classic or popular horror stories without social commentary.
Why not take advantage and challenge the whole thing. When excrement hits air conditioning, we want two things; change and not change. (No, really, I’m going somewhere with this). Times of turmoil and change dictate we alter existing structures. Our inclinations often lead us to seek out something familiar for a sense of stability. So dig in, take a hard look at our beloved genre, and do that weird thing you wanted to do but were too afraid to ask. People expect change and even if they reach for the comfort of the dark and creepy, they are already striving for something different.
For people who have been fighting to been seen in an over dominated society, put on those dancing shoes and turn up the house lights, it’s your time to shine baby! Horror has a serious deficiency when it comes to including people of color, indigenous cultures, women, LGBT+, non-binary, and… well, the list goes on. Let’s face it, we’ve been given a very specific face in our ‘mainstream’ and that face looks nothing like the majority of people wandering around the joint. It’s time to bring out everyone. We focus and exploit (in the good way) certain social mores and behaviors as we write and if you don’t see yours, or notice glaring lack of certain people, put it the hell in there!! You don’t even have to be overt. Throwing in so-called ‘non-traditional’ characters or ways of life, and making absolutely no big deal about it, helps normalize, but with ninja like stealth and precision. (One small aside. Be careful writing too far out of your wheelhouse and if you are representing someone from a community that you are not part of be GODDAMN CAREFUL how you do it. Put in the research, or you could do more harm than good.)
It is a ripe time for trying different methods, structures, and voice in writing. Pull out the stops. Want to do 5th person perspective but only in a staccato linear style that jumps the narrative around so much it might as well been told by a sugar-OD’d eight-year-old on a Pogo stick? Go for it. Not sure if it’ll be readable, but fuck it, your story = your rules. We need to branch out and keep things new and fresh in a structure that tends to confine itself. There is no time like the present and might as well do it while people are looking for difference.
Now having yammered on about change, differences, and yada yada yada…sometimes we just need something familiar. Sometimes we need that same ol’ to give us comfort and familiarity. If that’s what you’ve got loaded and ready to go, then write the hell out of that sucker. Most of all: regardless of your agenda, or lack thereof, keeping writing.
Writing and publishing are two different beasts. Writing is a cute monster that could either eat you alive or curl up in your lap and let you pet it: but either way you’ve already named it and put fresh litter in the box. Publishing is the boogeyman driving a Panzer tank with C’thulu and the alien from The Thing riding shotgun. They keeping yelling that they have cookies and you’re running towards it, in spite of your better judgment. Publishing proves that you can lead a horse to water but you can’t make him read it. Whether you’re writing on message or just to placate the evil gremlins in your head, putting it out in the big wide world is the goal for most of us. But what if no one is reading? I have devised a foolproof method of making sure everyone reads your stuff. See below.
If that doesn’t work, send them my way and tell them to bring $13.99 or their eReader. I’ll set them straight. If all else fails, you keep plugging away because consumers are fickle bastards. (Remember you’re a consumer too, you fickle bastard) Also, remind people that the dark shit is what helps us find the light. It helps us appreciate what is good in our lives, what we can strive for, and warns us to never go down in the dark basement if you hear strange noises.
Come together as a writing community. Sure, we’re competition, but the hidden secret is to work with each other. If we help each other, we all succeed. Readers are not stupid; they see the writers and creators that interact with each other. If an author seems like an asshole, its assumed they will write asshole things. (Unless the reader is, themselves, an asshole, but that’s a different discussion.) Social media makes us more accessible, and as such, is our greatest networking tool. If they see us helping each other and being generally pleasant as a group, we all benefit. And let’s face it; we need to work as a community to get anything positive done, whether in the world at large, or just to sell your latest magnum opus.
To leave you with a few final thoughts: Stick with it. Keep going. Use that fear and darkness to fuel your creativity. Consume it before it consumes you. Read as if your life depends on it. Buy low, sell high. Don’t take wooden nickels. Be wary of anyone that offers you a lemon snow cone.
-Your Weird Uncle Mick
*If you are someone who harasses, marginalizes, and abuses
I’ve just done something that I long put off. I have made it even easier for people to get access to my books. With all the hubbub about Amazon (and trust me, I don’t like their predatory practices anymore than you do) I decided to cut out the middle man. By clicking the ‘Buy My … Continue reading Straight from...
I’ve just done something that I long put off. I have made it even easier for people to get access to my books. With all the hubbub about Amazon (and trust me, I don’t like their predatory practices anymore than you do) I decided to cut out the middle man. By clicking the ‘Buy My Books Here’ button above, or clicking HERE, you can get my work straight from the source: ME.
Not only will this enable me to reach people who don’t want to deal with Amazon, it also helps me interact with my readers more. Plus I have the chance to sign and personalize copies if someone so chooses. Hell, I’ll put some scandalous shit in there if you ask me to. It also give me a chance to actually make some money on my hard work. Indie authors don’t make squat selling through sites like Amazon, and buy straight from them gives more abilities for them to create.
With print books, it will be subject to stock on hand, but right now I have plenty in stock. Ebooks are forever and I can send it in what ever format you prefer. Either way, I got you covered if you’re looking for a good read.
-Your Weird Uncle Mick
People love books. They love gifts…you see where I’m going with this. This holiday, order a fine Michael R Collins work and get it signed by the author!! For yourself, or a loved one, I’ll personalize and express your wishes. Or you can roll the dice and leave it up to me. Hell, I’ll even … Continue reading Signed books for...
Let’s face it, some of us love Halloween …excuse me…correction… 🎃LOVE 🎃 Hallow-fuckn’-ween! And the reason we love this chilly, spooky, pumpkin spiced holiday? All the Halloween cartoons!! During the rest (read: boring) time of the year, if one of these gems popped up it was Christmas and your birthday, but full of bats and … Continue reading A Very...
Let’s face it, some of us love Halloween
And the reason we love this chilly, spooky, pumpkin spiced holiday? All the Halloween cartoons!! During the rest (read: boring) time of the year, if one of these gems popped up it was Christmas and your birthday, but full of bats and dancing skeletons. Never did we know what the weekly tv schedule so intimately than when the it was holiday cartoon time.
There was also the Halloween Episode. The obligatory story line when the networks would trudge out the old organ (not that organ, perv) to make a completely non-spooky scene ‘halloweenish’. I’m pretty sure these episodes only creeped out the type of people who thought mayonnaise was spicy. (Yes it now occurs to me that there is actually spicy mayo, but we didn’t have it back in the 80’s. And if it was spicy, that meant it had been in the back of the fridge for waaaayyy too long.)
Here are some Halloween cartoons for your amusement. Sit back, relax, grab your pumpkin spice popcorn, pour some pumpkin spice Jack in a pumpkin spice Coke, maybe have some pumpkin spice cocoa instead, and have some pumpkin spiced pumpkin spice and pumpkin spice your pumpkin spice while you pumpkin spice.
Halloweeny (snicker) Yours,
Your Weird Uncle Mick
If you aren’t aware of my love for Peanuts, then let it be known now. This is a goddamn masterpiece of the season.
Hi all. Are you ready for a busy month. I sure as hell am. September is going to be a jam-packed month for me. Lots of activities going on and a few new opportunities opening up. -First up, I have a new job, which is exciting. Same company but different department, and vastly different type … Continue reading A Busy...
Hi all. Are you ready for a busy month. I sure as hell am. September is going to be a jam-packed month for me. Lots of activities going on and a few new opportunities opening up.
-First up, I have a new job, which is exciting. Same company but different department, and vastly different type of work. I’m ready for the change and feel good about it. It’ll be less time on my feet and I’m grateful for that alone. Plus it’s a different side of the business.
-Next up, Imagi-Con. Imagi-con is going on in Easton, Pa on Sept 15. It’s a place where Cosplay and Pop culture collide. Pretty much a place to get your geek on, regardless what you geek about. This promises to be a fun day and a whole lot to do and see. Cosplay, steampunk, music, comics, books; you name it. The plus is that Mel and I will be vending our wares (books, jewlery, fairy houses, etc). All homemade, btw. And to top it off, both Mel and I will be speaking on a panel. She will talk about costuming and effects make-up while I will talk about the writing process and inspiration. If you’re in the PA area or simply a Con enthusiast, I suggest getting yer tail over here on the 15th.
Imagi-Con info: https://www.facebook.com/events/447696488993245/
On the publishing front: I have a short story being published this month.
In Shadows & Light Anthology 2018, I have Eat The Poor. Shawna Platt puts out this anthology every year with a host of amazing stories. This year is no exception. I have been blessed to be included in multiple volumes, and honored to be published again this year.
Shadows & Light Anthology 2018: https://www.amazon.com/dp/1719964335/
I do have another story being published in October in Ink Stains 10, but we’ll talk more on that later.
-September is Bi Month (at least as far as I’m concerned) as we have Bi Visibility Day and Bi Awareness Week. For those of us in the Bi community, these are kind of big deals because it’s where we can highlight and and educate the community. There is a lot of erasure and misinformation going on and it’s important to dispel all that bullshit.
In that spirit, the proceeds for any sales of Pale Winter Sun will go to The Bicast. Since PWS is a heavily Bi-centric YA novel, it seems not only fitting that it help support such an important project, but I want to give back to those that have helped me so much. The Bicast is a podcast for and by the Bi+ community. It’s been a mainstay for a number of years now and helps to elevate and educate. Just recently I co-hosted a show, after a long hiatus, which was really awesome. And don’t forget Our Stories, which is a project of the Bicast. It’s to collect and share experiences of the Bi+ communtiy, because we all have a story to share.
-I’m also slated to be interviewed for an episode of Deadman’s Tome with Jessi Dedman. I’ll give more on that as details come forth.
-Ohohoh, and last but not least, I will making a quick trip back home to Idaho to visit the family. It’s been a few years since I’ve been back so I’m excited, even if it’s a quick trip. My initial target was to be there for my dad’s 70th birthday, but plans changed. Still, just being able to get up there and see everyone will be fantastic.
So there you go, my September dance card is kinda full, but that’s okay. Lots of fun and exciting stuff going on and I’m looking forward to it all.
Your Weird Uncle Mick
I’ve mentioned it before, but ‘In Shadows Of The Wicked’ is a book full of music references. Mostly early Goth and Industrial, they become an integral part of the story. In the many forms this book took over the years, one thing that stayed was the love affair I have had with the music. … Continue reading Official Soundtrack...
I’ve mentioned it before, but ‘In Shadows Of The Wicked’ is a book full of music references. Mostly early Goth and Industrial, they become an integral part of the story. In the many forms this book took over the years, one thing that stayed was the love affair I have had with the music. Writing this reminded what drew me to the music in the first place; it was exciting and it scared me a little. In writing this book, it reminded me of that, and I gleefully delved even deeper into it.
With that being said, I couldn’t help myself and put together this image. Seems like lately I don’t need much of an excuse to put together these promo images. They are almost as fun and writing the damn story in the first place. And just to help you all out, I put together a playlist on Youtube so you can listen to the referenced tunes while you read, for maximum atmosphere and creepiness.
Or if you prefer use one of our linkware images? Click here
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