Tag Archives: books

The 50 Most Influential Books

Nobody does anything in a vacuum, sure as heck not yours truly.  We all stand on the shoulders of giants!

Many giants have taught, mentored and helped me in my search for martial and spiritual knowledge — some of them face-to-face and some by means of their incredible writings.

For those who’d like to browse the same stacks and walk the same library mazes that I have trodden, here is a list of the fifty books that influenced me most in my development of the martial art of Cabal Fang.   

[In alphabetical order by author’s last name:]

Simplified magic by Andrews, Ted
More Simplified Magic by Andrews, Ted
Meditations on the Tarot: A Journey into Christian Hermeticism by Anonymous
The Holy Bible (Revised Standard Version by Anonymous
Bulfinch’s Mythology (Laurel Classic) by Bulfinch, Thomas
Myths to Live By by Campbell, Joseph
The mythic image by Campbell, Joseph
Occidental mythology by Campbell, Joseph
How to Win Friends & Influence People by Carnegie, Dale
The Alchemist by Coelho, Paulo
Explorers of the infinite by Coffey, Maria
The Chicken Qabalah of Rabbi Lamed Ben Clifford by DuQuette, Lon Milo
The Story of Philosophy by Durant, Will
The Complete Michael D. Echanis Collection by Echanis, Michael D.
The Essential Writings of Ralph Waldo Emerson by Emerson, Ralph Waldo
The 4-Hour Workweek by Ferriss, Timothy
The 4-Hour Body by Ferriss, Timothy
Karate-Do: My Way of Life by Funakoshi, Gichin
The Complete Guide to the Tarot by Gray, Eden
A Witch Alone by Green, Marian
Beowulf: Two Translations by Hall, Lesslie and Gummere, Francis
Tarot as a way of life by Hamaker-Zondag, Karen
The Last Hours of Ancient Sunlight by Hartmann, Thom
No Holds Barred Fighting by Hatmaker, Mark
The Clinch (No Holds Barred Fighting) by Hatmaker, Mark
No Second Chance: Reality-Based Self-Defense by Hatmaker, Mark
Boxer’s Book of Conditioning & Drilling by Hatmaker, Mark
The Gladiator Conditioning Workbook by Hatmaker, Mark
The Emerald Tablet by Hauck, Dennis William
Dark night of the soul by John of the Cross, Saint
Modern Man in Search of a Soul by Jung, C. G.
Modern Magick by Kraig, Donald Michael
The Quest for Hermes Trismegistus by Lachman, Gary
Tao of jeet kune do by Lee, Bruce
Desperate Journeys, Abandoned Souls by Leslie, Edward E.
A book of five rings by Miyamoto, Musashi
Living the martial way by Morgan, Forrest E.
Zen and the art of motorcycle maintenance by Pirsig, Robert M.
Timaeus and Critias by Plato
The last days of Socrates by Plato
The complete idiot’s guide to shamanism by Scott, Gini Graham
Inner Christianity: A Guide to the Esoteric Tradition by Smoley, Richard
Sir Gawain and the Green Knight by Stone Jr., Brian
The Idylls of the King by Tennyson, Alfred Lord
Hagakure: The Book of the Samurai by Tsunetomo, Yamamoto
Mysticism by Underhill, Evelyn
The Rider Tarot Deck by Waite, Arthur Edward
Nature, Man & Woman by Watts, Alan W.
Behold the Spirit by Watts, Alan W.
Myth and Ritual in Christianity by Watts, Alan W.

10 Ways to Spice up your Workout Routine (Cheaply)

DSC_0156Lucky for you I kicked boredom’s ass, and I’m more than happy to tell you how I did it.  Here are…

10 Ways to Kick Workout Boredom’s Ass (on the Cheap)

  1. Ask a buddy if you can work out with him. See what he’s doing and steal ideas. Good news is, his gym probably gives out free guest passes like they’re Mentos.
  2. Take a class. If money is an issue, there is an excellent chance that your local county or city is about to publish its Summer class catalog, if it hasn’t already. Some of those classes — even the dancing and martial arts ones– are super affordable.  Most police athletic leagues offer really cheap classes too.
  3. Have cable? Go to the free on demand area and check out all of the free workouts. There’s all kinds of Yoga and Pilates workouts on there.  Pull one up and follow along.
  4. Go get a set of PTDICE and create random calisthenics workouts.
  5. Get a cheap new toy to play with.  Check out your local Goodwill store. Last time I was in there I saw a Total Gym for $100.00 (I used to have one back in the day, before I got into calisthenics, and it was lots of fun).  They also had two complete sets of P90x and a slew of other cheap workout DVDs. And don’t forget to check Craigslist. I’ve gotten some brand new stuff on there for half price, including two heavy bags and my mountain bike.
  6. Does your employer sponsor any corporate games, have a softball team, golf team, etc.? You might be able to earn some brownie points while saving on greens fees or fitness club memberships.
  7. Preorder The Calisthenics Codex eBook and use it to create virtually unlimited calisthenics workouts that you can do at home for free. Click here to pre-order at Barnes & Noble, or here to pre-order on iTunes/iBooks.  Only $2.50 until 5/31.
  8. Set a goal. Training is a lot more interesting when you’re training with purpose. Sign up for a 10K or a mud run, a charity walk or bike ride, enter a tournament, etc. If you want to get lean for swimsuit season, get a copy of Cut! and learn how to do it sensibly — without insane workouts, crazy or complex diets, or freaky supplements.
  9. Got any old auto tires laying around in the garage?  You don’t have to go crazy and invest in expensive, gut-busting tractor tires.  Put on some gloves and get to work.
  10. Go outside and explore your local parks.  Walking is still the safest way to exercise, and although it seems like every year’s workout fad is more extreme than last’s, walking 5 miles burns just as many calories as running 5 miles, and walking may even be better for your heart.  Yes, I’m telling you to go take a hike.

Hey Writers: Wanna Bundle With Me?

books_bundle2So there’s this not-so-new idea of selling story bundles, and since I’m always somewhere like two years behind the curve on most trends, I got the idea that I might try and create a story bundle with another writer.

If you’re a horror, occult, mystery, or slipstream writer who writes creepy, strange, unusual books and you want to team up on a bundle, post a link to your stuff in the comments below.

Maybe we can make a bundle together, what say?


Putting the Heart in Horror

Spanish Moss on a Cypress tree

Spanish Moss on a Cypress tree, taken during a bayou tour the wife and I took. Classic horror stuff!

I don’t understand why there isn’t more heart in our horror books and movies.  You can’t spit at anything in the genre without hitting tension, fear, dread, adrenaline, and gore.  But finding more than a dash of real heart is pretty difficult.

That’s surprising to me when I think about how many of my favorite horror works have a gut-wrenching ribcage-smashing load of agonizing heart  in them.  By “heart” what I mean is fully developed relationships, feelings, caring, and love.  You know, the stuff that’s such a nice counter-balance to tension, fear, dread, adrenaline, and gore?  I wouldn’t give you a nickel for Saw, Hostel, or any of those heartless splatter flicks (see there, I didn’t even link their titles to IMDb).

As a kid I watched the original Frankenstein.  The scene I can’t get out of my head is the one in which Karloff’s monster is playing with a little girl beside a pond.  Here we have an innocent child, the one person in the entire village who is able to see beyond the monster’s appearance and give him a chance to prove himself harmless, sitting with the monster and taking turns tossing flower petals into the water.  Thinking she’ll float too, when the petals run out the monster tosses her in.   His reaction when she drowns is one of the most painful in my movie watching history.

I hope I don’t have to explain the dump truck load of heart that’s in The Exorcist.  Love shines out of every character, which is why the movie pains the viewer at every turn.  Then there’s Night of the Living Dead.  When the little girl gets zombiefied, what really gets me is the mother’s unwillingness to admit that her child can’t be saved.  And when the hero gets picked off at the end, it hurts because for the previous 90 minutes he’s been caring about everyone else.

The movie Pet Sematary pulls all the right heart strings.  What father wouldn’t do everything possible to save his son?  And how about Let the Right One In?  A lonely, bullied boy’s childish crush grows into so much more, all against the backdrop of ever-growing  tension and horror.   Or 28 Days Later?  This movie spends an hour making you love Frank (the brave and caring father masterfully played by Brendan Gleeson) only to have a raven’s single carnivorous peck take him away from us forever.

I guess my preference for heart with my horror explains why I’ve been very hard to please when it comes to horror books.  I have enjoyed  some Stephen King and Richard Matheson (Stir of Echoes, both book and movie, are out of this world), but most modern authors leave me cold.  Give me Orwell and Kafka.  McTeague by Frank Norris isn’t a tragedy, it’s horror.  And one of my favorites.

Horror without heart is a whole lotta nothin’.  That’s why, when I set out to write my slipstream horror books, I put in as much heart as the stories could bear.  After all, you don’t want to go overboard when adding heart to your horror.   You might end up with a love story or drama with a pale and sickly horror backdrop (and we all know a few examples of that).

No More Free Rides

Starting today and going forward, the only way you can get one of my books free is to pirate it or go to a library.  But it’s not about greed.  It’s about commitment.

I didn’t charge for my first few books because I wasn’t confident in their quality.  Putting them up for free made it easy for me.  If people didn’t like it, I could say to myself, “Well, at least they didn’t get ripped off.”

The problem is that if a book stinks, the reader is still ripped off even if the book is free.  If a person sees your book cover, becomes intrigued, gets hyped with anticipation, downloads the thing, and invests the reading time, he or she has been ripped off by an inferior product even if it was free.

Putting some of my books up for no charge wasn’t giving the reader a free ride — it was giving myself a free ride.  If I charge for my books it’s a message to myself that says, “Mitchell, you owe the public a superior product, one that’s worth the reader’s investment of time and money.”

I took a step back and realized that my stuff is good — really good — and that I should stand behind it unequivocally.  And from now on I am.

As they used to say back in the ’70s, “Ass, cash, or grass — nobody rides for free.”  Especially me.


Here are links to my eBooks at Smashwords — but if you prefer other websites, they are also available at Amazon, Barnes & Noble, Kobo, or Diesel.

Wisdom of Raven CoverWisdom of the Raven: The Mystic Way of Cabal Fang

By Robert Mitchell, Jr
Series: The Cabal Fang Martial Arts Study Course, Book 2. Price: $1.99 USD. Words: 6,560. Language: English. Published: January 16, 2013. Category: Nonfiction
A blend of fact and fable, the practical and the esoteric, ‘Wisdom of the Raven’ instructs the reader in the spiritual underpinnings of Cabal Fang Martial Arts. Learn the basics of the Three Sisters — contemplation, meditation, and prayer — and how they come together to inform the mystic experience.

Cabal Fang MAM CoverThe Cabal Fang Martial Arts Manual

By Robert Mitchell, Jr
Series: The Cabal Fang Martial Arts Study Course, Book 1. Price: $1.99 USD. Words: 22,860. Language: English. Published: January 16, 2013. Category: Nonfiction
A seamless blend of the ancient and the modern, the physical and the internal, Cabal Fang has one foot apiece in the middle ages and the new millennium. Get a glimpse of what is at once a modern self defense method, a strenuous fitness regimen, and a spiritual framework drawing upon the Western esoteric tradition. For all fitness and experience levels — but not the faint of heart.


By Robert Mitchell, Jr
Series: The Montenegro Cycle, Book 2. Price: $2.99 USD. Words: 71,680. Language: English. Published: October 3, 2012. Category: Fiction
Ergie is a high-school slacker with too few friends, so when he meets Zack he welcomes the friendship. But he soon discovers that Zack isn’t what he seems, his parents have a hidden past, and everyone he loves is threatened by a race of ancient creatures known as ghilan. Can Ergie find the truth, and if he does, will he have the courage to do what he knows is right?

Chatters_thumbChatters on the Tide

By Robert Mitchell, Jr
Series: The Montenegro Cycle, Book 1. Price: $1.99 USD. Words: 55,780. Language: English. Published: October 3, 2012. Category: Fiction
Harold has lost his job, divorce is on the horizon, a religious cult believes he’s a prophet, and he’s being stalked by an eerie motorcycle club and its mute, wild-haired mascot named Gator. His skeptical wife Bonnie is fighting to free him from the strange world into which he has fallen while Harold struggles with bizarre and unusual revelations. Is he really a prophet with miraculous powers?

Great Online Resources for Occultists

Most occultists are pretty good at finding what they need (which I suppose makes sense when you figure occult basically just means hidden).  If you’re a student of the occult you probably already know about these resources.  But just in case you don’t, here are four of my favorites:

The Online Books collection at University of Pennsylvania.  There are links to full scans of over 40,000 books on a variety of subjects.  For example, check out the selection of links on the subject of Demonology.

The University of California Digital Library.  Over 4 million books.  Ready the paddles; your heart may skip a beat.

The Internet Sacred Text Archive.  It is what it says it is.  Dig it.

Cimmay.com.  It’s stated purpose is to introduce the world to the Urantia Papers, but there are a ton of cool old books on other subjects.  Check out The Angels and their Ministrations by Robert M. Patterson.  Nice.






Two New Books to Read

imageBlackbirds by Chuck Wendig over at Terribleminds came in the mail from Alibris last week and I’m about 60 pages in.  Exciting, plot-driven stuff so far, with a protagonist you love in print but would probably steer clear of in real life (if you knew what was good for you).

(Footnote: If the IOC permitted Swearing as an Olympic event, Chuck Wendig would be its Michael Phelps.  I pity the grocery clerk who puts his bread on the bottom.  Ears will melt.  Parents will hold their children close and shield their faces from the shattering glass of nearby shop windows.  My boy Chuck cusses like a Thompson gun.)

When Blackbirds is done I’ll dig into Lady Go Die by Mickey Spillane and Max Allan Collins.  R.I.P. Mickey, you are missed.  Can’t wait to see what Collins has done with Mickey’s signature character.   I’m a huge fan of Spillane and I’ve read probably 30 of his books, so Max, this is not a pop quiz for zero credit.  This will be for 50% of your final grade.

Two New Non-Fiction Books Now Available

In addition to my novels I now have two free non-fiction works available on Smashwords.

The Cabal Fang Martial Arts Manual is an introduction to the martial art I founded in 2009.  Open the covers of this remarkable manual and step into the spaces between traditional martial arts, combat sports, and historical reconstruction. Get a glimpse of what is at once a modern self defense method, a strenuous fitness regimen, and a spiritual framework drawing upon the Western esoteric tradition. A seamless blend of the ancient and the modern, the physical and the internal, Cabal Fang is at once a child of the middle ages and the martial art of a new millennium. For all fitness and experience levels — but not the faint of heart.  Approx. 22,865 words.

Wisdom of the Raven: The Mystic Way of Cabal Fang is a companion booklet to The Cabal Fang Manual.  A blend of fact and fable, the practical and the esoteric, ‘Wisdom of the Raven’ instructs the reader in the spiritual underpinnings of Cabal Fang Martial Arts. Learn the basics of the Three Sisters — contemplation, meditation, and prayer — and how they come together to inform the mystic experience.  Approx. 6,563 words.

You Better Keep the Camera Moving


“You better keep the camera moving, cuz I’m moving fast,” Ali said in his famous quote.

At least two of my books will be available on Smashwords.com within the month, and changes coming soon to this blog.