Michael A. Arnzen's Blog: News from Gorelets.com
July 29, 2016
I’ve been busy over the past few months with work for Mastication Publications. Finally, it’s time to dish out what’s been cooking all this time.
A lot of it has been on the AUDIOBOOK front. I’m happy to report that this weekend, you can stream the gore on the new page at bandcamp!
Just go to http://arnzen.bandcamp.com and click around — you can listen for free a few times, so sample widely. I’ll embed some players below so you can get a quick listen.
But I hope you’ll consider purchasing the full albums, with come with hidden bonus tracks, companion ebooks, and much more. I have also added very rare “merch” to the site: a limited number of signed CDs for each title!
AUDIOVILE: The Expanded Digital Edition
Audiovile: The Expanded Digital Edition by Michael Arnzen
Audiovile was originally released as a CD in 2007 by Raw Dog Screaming Press, breaking new ground in spoken word horror. Featuring musical renditions and remixes of the top stories from books like 100 Jolts, this “performance-art piece of manic Beatnik horror” (Dead Reckonings) is one-of-a-kind. Or is it? Now there are two! The newly “Expanded Digital Edition” includes high quality digital versions of all the tracks, and then DOUBLES the size of the original release, featuring performances you won’t hear anywhere else. And if you purchase the full album, you get access to BONUS FEATURES: notably — an ebook companion, a photograph gallery and a secret bonus track. Also, while supplies last, you can purchase a signed copy of the original CD along with your digital order of this edition. Act quick!
POEDOWN: Wytovich vs. Arnzen – Live at DV8
POEDOWN: Wytovich vs. Arnzen – Live at DV8 (2012) by Michael Arnzen
POEDOWN is both a poetry slam inspired by Edgar Allan Poe and a live audio performance captured shortly before the release of both Stephanie Wytovich‘s breakout horror poetry collection, Hysteria, and Mike Arnzen’s Gorelets Omnibus. What makes this event special is not just the raw passion and combative energy of their reading (which is at times deeply hilarious and others truly disturbing) but also the way the event inaugurated a ritual that has continued over the past five years: whenever Arnzen and “Wyto” share the stage, they come ready to read a new horror piece on an agreed upon theme. Buy this album on bandcamp and you’ll not only get an exclusive companion ebook but also bonus tracks featuring an example of their recent “slam” on the topic of “scary clowns.” A few rare, signed double-live CDs are also available on the site.
Lots of fun surprises await those who order the full-length albums. And here’s some snapshots of the collectible horror merchandise I was talking about…
I’ll have more news to report soon about other audiobooks, ebooks, and anthologies coming soon. Subscribe to The Goreletter so you don’t miss a beat.
July 5, 2016
Imagine a red devil jumping for joy, wagging its deadly tail, and applauding with hooves ablaze — that’s me, cheering for writer Joe La Dowdy, who just published her 365th creative blog entry, marking a full year of dark flash fiction and devious poems inspired by the 365 prompts in my book, Instigation: Creative Prompts on the Dark Side!
That’s right. She wrote 365 stories. Jealous? You should be. I am! READ THEM.
Joe-La is living proof of what happens when you do that. Sure, my prompts might have given her some starting blocks to kick free as she booked into a full-fledged run, but this marathon was won entirely on her own legs. She knows I’ve been applauding her from the bleachers. I featured her in my Instigation Showcase shortly after she began this journey. I’ve even prodded her to keep going through emails and tweets. But she’s written a year’s worth of stories that never existed before — adopting a range of moods and personae — and I couldn’t be prouder. It gives me the same feelings I have when I see a student I’ve known for years finally walk across the graduation stage.
“I have walked through the inferno with you as my Virgil, leading me until just when I thought I would never see the other side, I am there…Paradiso. Have I come out the same person who went in? Absolutely not. A small idea…turned out to be one of the most important decisions of my life. I AM a writer! All because I found this little gem of a book…” — Joe-la Dowdy
I never met Joe-La prior to accidentally stumbling upon her blog, but we’ve since become colleagues. When we finally met each other at StokerCon last April, it was as fellow sickos, writers of the strange, not as strangers. Her stories — always a hoot — speak for themselves… she has that bent outlook and impishly perverse sense of humor that — in the tradition of Edgar Allan Poe — signifies a person who “gets” horror. Her “self-training” on her blog and in various publications has earned her some bones as an author, and she’s only getting started. At StokerCon she took courses in “Horror University” from several notable authors. She recently was accepted into the graduate school where I teach, as well, launching her work on a novel with the help of several acclaimed writers and other talented newcomers in the genre. Her “petulant muse” will no doubt serve her well as she continues to write; I look forward to watching her career take off.
There is no “prize” for this kind of work. As in all writing-related exercises, the writing IS the reward. You learn by doing in this industry, and you have to go through a lot of keyboards before you start getting traction on a career. But I wanted to give her a big pat on the back by writing this tribute to her achievement. I’m going to send her a gift anyway, too. And I hereby award her the first “#Instigation365” badge, pictured above. She is the only one in the world who has earned it! I dare the rest of you scallywags to try your hand at responding to an Instigation prompt a day for a full year, in an attempt to earn the next one.
Joe-la and Steve Dowdy at StokerCon 2016.
May 18, 2016
StokerCon 2016 was the inaugural convention sponsored by the Horror Writers Association, highlighting the genre with panel discussions, readings, writing workshops, booksignings and presentations… culminating in the Bram Stoker Award banquet, awarding the genre’s top practitioners with the coolest trophy in the world.
It was a blast. Lots of great writers were up for and won the trophy, including some of my closest friends in the business from Raw Dog Screaming Press and Seton Hill U’s MFA in Writing Popular Fiction. My workshop on “Making the Reader Squirm” went very well, engendering plenty of squirmy moments and good writing by the class. I (somehow) did a 9am poetry panel the next day too. As always, there’s too much to remember, too many good things to recount, and many things forgotten until someone reminds me later on. Instead, I’ll just share some photos I managed to take that weren’t too blurry or incriminating, and share them below with some sloppy captions.
It awakens. Arrival in Vegas.
Chatting with Jeff Strand, Patrick Freivald and Kya Aliana at the registration table. Great people.
Jimmy Z Johnston and his son had lots of StokerCon gear in a stock. I said I’d buy a hoodie if I won at the tables. I lost.
I appreciated the dark way they used flamingos in the pocket program.
Kristin Dearborn has a cool tattoo.
John Palisano at the Madhouse signing with John Skipp… photobombed!
Dark Regions sponsored a signing of the Madhouse book. It was… well you know… a Madhouse.
Roy Robbins gave me these rare galleys of The Bitchfight. I held a giveaway (“find me and tell me the code”) on twitter — and Stephanie Wytovich won!
A great gang to chat with at the after party.
Lunch with Bill Nolan, Steve Tem, Jason Brock…and everyone else not pictured here…at Margaritaville. It was fun until it was too much fun.
Catching up with Bitchfight publisher, Roy Robbins.
There really are flamingos at the Flamingo. They are all pathological gamblers.
I taught a workshop in “Making the Reader Squirm.” It started by making THEM squirm into the corner of the room.
Notes from “Squirm Theory” at the “Making the Reader Squirm” workshop.
A clip from my interview on the StokerCon blog about the workshop.
Cousteau Christopher reads a sick scene he wrote involving a squid in the Squirm class.
What happened in this conference room will not stay in this conference room.
Oh, and yes people actually worked in my workshop on “Making the Reader Squirm.” They read these stories… great stuff.
Tim Waggoner, Jonathan Maberry, Steve Rasnic Tem at the “Scary Out There” book signing.
A funny selfie at Caeser’s with Raw Doggers Jen Barnes and Stephanie Wytovich. I spent a lot of time with these guys, and enjoyed every second.
Spotted this postcard on the registration table. I wonder what this coloring book is about? Oh! Back it.
Joe Borelli meets the awesome Nikki Guerlain outside the Stoker Banquet.
Publisher Jennifer Barnes and future Raw Dog Screaming writer Kristin Dearborn.
Jason Brock was a rockstar in this jacket.
RDSP at the Stoker Banquet: Maria Alexander, Jennifer Barnes, Michael Arnzen, Stephanie Wytovich, Lucy Snyder.
Lucy Snyder and Nicole Cushing with their Stoker trophies from the night! Hurrah!
Visiting the poet’s table: Mary Turzillo, David Cowen, Arnzen, and guest of honor Marge Simon.
Michael Bailey won a Stoker and then sealed it in this nifty golden box!
A stolen shot of Maria’s notes for the First Novel award presentation. (Amen, it speaks the truth!)
Mentor of the year, Tim Waggoner
R.L. Stine shakes John Dixon’s hand for winning the YA Stoker award.
Jeff Strand and Kelly Laymon … and Richard Laymon’s ashes.
Lucy Snyder with her SECOND trophy for Fiction Collection.
Venessa, Joe and Wyto… a formidably fun gang of writers.
The Dowdys! What a great time I had, getting to meet Joe-la and her husband Steve.
John Palisano with his freshly minted Stoker trophy for Short Fiction.
Winner of the Poetry Stoker: Alessandro Manzetti, from Italy!
Stephen Jones, Jason & Sunni Brock, and Arnzen at the afterparty.
Great people: Matt Schwartz, Lynne Hansen, John Urbancik
May 11, 2016
This poem got a lot of attention on twitter today, so I thought I’d embed it here for posterity.
life is a poem
that does not rhyme;
so poems exist
to organize time–
free verse wants to be free
& death has its own poetry
— Michael Arnzen (@MikeArnzen) May 11, 2016
May 3, 2016
Just back from a “Provo-cative” weekend in Provo, Utah, where I attended the 2016 World Horror Convention as a special guest. It was a very intimate con, mistimed in the grand scheme of genre events this year (i.e., the first StokerCon is in Vegas next weekend — I’m going to that too), but having a smaller event led to tighter bonds as we all got to know each other better as professionals and people. They kept me VERY busy (I was on three-to-five programming events per day), so I didn’t take as many photos as usual, but I did manage to snap a few which I’ll post below. Shout-outs to everyone who I met (which felt like EVERYONE at the con), even if you’re not in the shots below. And in lieu of writing up a lengthy con report, I’ll just tag some comments in the captions of the photos. Enjoy.
THANK YOU to World Horror Con and the gang in Provo for inviting me out as a Special Guest. I was worked like a dog, yet given the royal treatment, and I totally appreciated both! And thanks to many old friends who came to support me throughout the weekend. Next up in early May: StokerCon!
Jaren Rencher (of Utah Horror Writers chapter) kindly picked me up at the SLC airport. Kevin J. Anderson and I rode an hour to Provo with him, as KJA regaled us with tales of his work with the band Rush. Amazing.
The awesome “souvenir book” for WHC 2016, designed by Bailey Hunter (Dark Recesses Press) and featuring art by Keith Thompson. As one of the guests, I’ve got a story in this one — if you got that, plus my signature, you’ve got a rare collectable book!
I was honored to be a special guest. Guests got tokens for free massages. I gave mine to homeless people on the streets (esp. the pickpocket guy asking passers-by for “free hugs”)
Off to lunch with Jeff Strand and Sara Tantlinger. We found pizza nearby and cracked each other up for an hour or so. I spent a lot of time with these two; they are joyful in the darkness and we shared cackles all weekend.
I had a powerpoint for the “Mutterverse” experience (which is not in print and can only be seen live), but the A/V technology at the conference failed … so I just read scary short-shorts for an hour to a small group of attending friends and trapped IT personnel.
This is what I sometimes look like reading weird stuff. (Photo: Jeff Strand)
Something evil lurked in the NEBO room at the con hotel. If you’ve read Play Dead, then you know what it might be.
I cheered from the back at this year’s “Gross Out Contest.” Here Brian Keene dishes out the rules of the game. It is the most dangerous game. Jeff Strand took 2nd with a fab story. Stephen Kozeniewski (Koz — who was an awesome panel moderator, too) won the night; I missed it, but heard it was gaggingly great.
Had good conversations with these two (Michael Bailey and Jason V. Brock) throughout the con. Jason and I got into some very heady topics. Both these guys really know their horror — plus Michael Bailey’s long arms will terrify you — so do not mess with them.
Jeff Strand gave a fantastic reading of two hilarious horror tales. He is a towering presence. Weiner dogs beware. One highlight of the con was our “kaffeeklatsch” together, where a gaggle of friends and new readers asked us about our history and process and future plans. We giggled with the gaggle. Jeff shared some impressive stories about film and other developments in his career.
Here my friends Jeanne and Bill Bush chat up with Brian Keene at the Mass Autograph session.
A moment with the wonderful Sunni Brock of JaSunni Productions. We shared a panel (along with her partner, Jason) on music later in the con that was very deep, and very good.
A long shot of the Fridge of the Damned display. Here James Beers composes a sick one. You can read his, and the work of others at the con, over on my flickr gallery. (Notice how I’m rarely in my seat at these things. I go around and try to get books signed.)
I really enjoyed getting to know Rachel Autumn Deering at this convention — her book Husk is impressive. She signed it with a reference to my “Doofus” story in 100 Jolts and blew my mind! She’s really cool. Seek her work.
Laughing it up with my old army buddy, Bill Bush. Bill has quite a collection of Arnzenalia… I promised him a signed femur in the future. Not sure when I’ll deliver. But some day. I never said it would be MINE. Maybe I’ll extract and sign his? We’ll see.
Mountains and railings in SLC.
And…back home to PA. Pittsburgh is a city of bridges. This beast reminds you of this fact at the airport. It’s probably supposed to represent a Pittsburgh Steeler, but I see it as a monstrous transformer about to destroy the place. And I can imagine being stabbed to death by the Andy Warhol Bridge.
April 25, 2016
Today my short parody, “Please Publish My Adult Coloring Book: Grow the F*ck Up!” is featured on McSweeney’s Internet Tendency. I’m perversely proud of this, for some reason. Mostly, I think, because it validates my thinking that this silly piece actually contains a great idea for a book!
However, I am also sensitive to the notion that adult coloring books have therapeutic value. When my dad had a stroke, this was something I bought him to help retrain motor memory and create even though debilitated. I also think coloring is fun, and it’s kind of cool when groups of people gather together in coffeeshops to fill in the blanks and chat in a sort of crayola-laden kaffeeklatsch.
Or as @ShinyZomby puts it on twitter:
— Megan (@ShinyZomby) April 25, 2016
Anyway — no, it’s not the therapeutic value, it’s the denegration of publishing and the deskilling of the arts I’m against. We are substituting artistic creation with…something else. So I’ve gathered together a list of some research I’ve been doing (and madly sharing on twitter all day) as a sort of “but seriously!” counter-message campaign:
Adult Colouring Book Craze Triggers Global Pencil Shortage (Independent UK)
Why Adults are Buying Coloring Books for Themselves (New Yorker)
I do like some coloring books.
The kind where the pages turn yellow-colored with time, for instance.
Thanks again, McSweeney’s!
I hope this becomes some kind of ouroboros and Arnzen's pitch for a new adult coloring book actually gets published. https://t.co/WbcT5JJ4KA
— Jeremy R Johnson (@JRJ_Is_Probable) April 25, 2016
Thanks Jeremy! I totally concur!
April 7, 2016
Celebrating Nat’l Poetry Month with the 52!
One of the things I enjoy about National Poetry Writing Month (aka “NaPoWriMo”) is Gerald So’s “30 Days of the 5-2” Crime Poetry blog tour. He asks poets and readers to contribute something for a calendar day related to his journal of crime poetry. I’ve participated in the past (and I also published a new piece at the 5-2 just last month for “Pi Day”) but this time around I decided to do something different: conduct an interview.
As luck would have it, I knew one of the recent contributors to the journal, because she’s working with me as a horror writer presently enrolled in our MFA program in Writing Popular Fiction: Sara Tantlinger. We meet roughly once a month to talk shop, and so I took advantage of the opportunity to ask Sara about her “criminal” motivations as a writer, especially in a creepy love poem she placed in the journal last year, called “Love Me like a Murder Scene.”
LOVE ME LIKE A MURDER SCENE
by Sara J. Tantlinger
You hold me like a ransom note
and love me the way a knife loves
a heart. The police tape is strewn
around us, yellow ribbons that scream
caution, caution, what have you done?
This murder scene love bleeds dark
rubies under my skin, and you can slice
into me all you like, but I remain viciously
tied to our passion crime, a wolf who refuses
to die by anything other than your mouth.
Your eyes, bruised with affection, promise
me forever, but I know that does not mean
golden sun and songbirds. Forever is cruel,
a chilled finality between us. I want it anyway
because I know you will meet me at the end.
Stop your shaking hands. Hold the knife against
our chests, grip me tight in your threatening
embrace, and I’ll promise to love you even when
your skin rots from your corpse. I will clutch your
bones to my heart and bid the world farewell.
— originally published in The Five-Two (8 June 2015)
Karen Petersen, a guest editor for the 5-2, called the poem “tantalizing”: “‘Love Me Like A Murder Scene’ immediately got my attention and kept it. The poet uses crime scene homicide metaphors with a creepy brilliance that captures the obsessive nature of intense passion.” Editor Gerald So liked it enough to submit it as one of his “Best of the Net” submissions for the year. And I, of course, find the seductive violence of the poem worth celebrating.
So, without further ado, here’s my interview with Sara J. Tantlinger (also posted to Soundcloud), where we analyze what the poem means to her, from the invention of the piece to its possible inspirations and meanings. Happy Days of the Five-Two:
Check out HWA Poetry Showcase Vol. II
Learn more about Sara J. Tantlinger on her website, Muses and Madness, or keep up with her work on twitter.
In addition to her poem in the 52 Crime Poetry Weekly and other published pieces, Sara placed a poem in the HWA Poetry Showcase Vol. II, a fantastic collection of dark poems published last year by the Horror Writers Association. (You can read other excerpts here)
Visit the 52 Crime Poetry weekly weblog and celebrate National Poetry Month.
The 5-2 is an awesome journal and I hope you’ll check them out regularly, and support their ebooks (editor Gerald So will contribute the income to Academy of American Poets this month).
At the interview. Photo by Heidi Ruby Miller
April 6, 2016
We’re moving into the season for literary conferences and conventions, and it feels like I’m crawling out from under a snow-covered mossy rock, so I thought I’d post a general update on things I’m planning to do after I blink away the sun blindness.
Among other things, I’ll be a guest at two big cons in the horror genre.
The 2016 World Horror Con in Provo, Utah runs April 28th-May 1st, and I’m fortunate to be one of the special guests. This promises to be an intimate con, with a great chance to hang out and chat with writers and artists over the weekend. I’ve got two presentations scheduled, along with a fun “kaffeeklatch”. See my event page or go directly to the WHC2016 website.
I’ve attended many Bram Stoker Award banquets over the years, and these are always fancy events, tucked under the arms of someone else’s con or in a hotel for a business meeting. But now they’ve raised the bar to “convention” status for the first ever STOKERCON. I’ll be hosting a guest writing workshop at the conference, sitting on panels, and generally mingling about. You can find me on my event page or go directly to the StokerCon16 website.
The HWA actually interviewed me recently to talk about my “Making the Reader Squirm” workshop, so watch the StokerCon16 blog page for that to appear soon.
Though most of my time is devoted to writing right now, summer is already getting booked up and I’m looking into adding some new Fall/Halloween excursions. So Subscribe to the Goreletter or keep your eyes on the upcoming events page on gorelets.com to make sure you stay abreast of the latest.
March 24, 2016
March 10, 2016
Poster by Dante Neal at Mashable
In December’s issue of The Goreletter, I posted the following list of story starters for “Scary Politics.” As the primary season is heating up to the boiling point of hellfire, I thought I’d copy it here to the blog, as a reminder that there’s no better place for reimagining the world — and for doing so in horrific ways — than in the real world of American politics.
If you didn’t see this before, it’s because you don’t subscribe to my newsletter. SUBSCRIBE (or fill out the form to update your email address) and you’ll get Instigation fresh off the grill. And if you want giant collection of over 500 things like this, don’t forget my ebook, Instigation: Creative Prompts on the Dark Side.
Discover the weirdest story you can by simply freewriting (without stopping to edit) in response to one the following prompts and seeing where it takes you.
Murder by voting booth.
Script an over-the-top smear campaign or ludicrously accusatory TV commercial.
From the point of view of an assistant or intern, dramatize a politician’s appeal for help in covering up a heinous crime.
Describe a deathmatch between an elephant and a donkey (or other political animal symbol) with as much gritty realism as possible. Give this battle a function.
Write a “Bill of Rights” for the citizens of Hell. Or invent a “Bill of Wrongs.”
Choose your favorite monster or imaginary creature. Now create a political party for others of its kind, or have it run for office on behalf of all monsters.
Zombify an assassinated politician.
Deliver a non-human character’s speech before the UN General Assembly.
Related reading for further inspiration:
+ Read “The H Word: The Politics of Horror” by Paul Tremblay (Nightmare Magazine)
+ See “If Horror Movie Villains Were Running for President” from Donte Neal at Mashable (Neal created the great Pennywise the Clown (from King’s IT) poster on this blog entry).
+ Speaking of Stephen King, now might be a really good time to re-read The Dead Zone!
+ Do a google or youtube search for “American Horror Story” + your favorite candidate’s name.
+ Of course, vote Cthulhu! Here’s his I Have a Dream speech.