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.
The Goreletter Vol. 10, #2 was delivered to mailing list subscribers on 12/29/15 @ 3pm est. It contains extra entertainment/material not available here on the weblog version, including a new gorelets poem, a mini year-in-review, information about upcoming events, a batch of “political” instigation prompts, and new art/photos.
But most importantly, it contains news about the NEW YEAR’S EVE GRAND PRIZE GIVEAWAY in the currently running contest rally. If you subscribe to the Goreletter you can win a rare leatherbound, lettered edition of my fiction collection, Proverbs for Monsters. All you need to do is sign up for the newsletter before Midnight eastern on New Year’s Eve, 12/31/15. A random email address will be drawn and contacted the next day about the prize, which will be announced here and on twitter & facebook thereafter.
If you subscribe and did not receive this issue, or just want to see the back issues, review the archives at gorelets.com. If you need to check or update your subscription’s email address, just enter it in the subscribe box and review the report. I highly recommend you enroll in the HTML edition, which contains more rich features than the scaled down text-only version. But do as you will!
I hope you’ll sign up! I approach The Goreletter like an artist’s sketchbook and a way to share my creative/horror life with people who may have a mind of a similar bent. And it is bent, indeed. From distorted art pieces to weird poems to fresh “instigation” prompts for sick writers…it’s always got something strange inside. It’s also free and you can always unsubscribe whenever you want, judgment free. Privacy is respected. Issues are sent just once every three-or-four months, so your inbox won’t suffocate…in fact, you’ll forget you’re signed up just around the time that a new issue sneaks up on you and pounces. Contact me by email or leave a comment here if you have any questions. — Michael A. Arnzen
Happy holiday hugs and kisses! All the New Year’s contests have ended now and the grand prize winner is announced below. THANKS TO EVERYONE WHO PARTICIPATED. Subscribe to the Goreletter (free) for future chances to win free books and more!
Aside from creeping you out with those uncanny body parts above, the best way I could think of to give you a holiday gift was to run random draw contests to finish out the year! There will be several rotating giveaways, so come back to this page routinely between now and New Year’s Eve.
For the first Xmas round of prizes, all you need to do is click the ‘follow’ button on my amazon profile page to be entered to win as I post contests. I will be offering new contests like this on different websites and using a variety of methods, and will keep cycling things so you’ll have new opportunities to win if you miss out. And see below about how to enter the grand prize finale! And hey, you ARE eligible for every contest, so come back again and again!
The FIRST PRIZE was a free HARDCOVER edition of The Gorelets Omnibus! This is the one with 50 pages of bonus features, including a “horror poetry writing workshop,” a copy of Michael Arnzen’s Dying, and currently the only print version of many of the prompts from Instigation!
AMAZON GIVEAWAY for The Gorelets Omnibus Hardcover Edition! GO TO: https://giveaway.amazon.com/p/abeec98c38470389. NO PURCHASE NECESSARY. Ends the earlier of Dec 31, 2015 11:59 PM PST, or when all prizes are claimed. See Official Rules http://amzn.to/GArules.
The first winner was Andrew Vincent — congratulations!
GIVEAWAY #2: AUDIOVILE (ended)
The SECOND PRIZE was a free copy of my musically-enhanced spoken word cd, AUDIOVILE. This book is a sort of abridged audiobook version of my flash fiction collection from Raw Dog Screaming Press, 100 Jolts. In 2016, I hope to make this collection available for streaming online in an extended digital edition.
AMAZON GIVEAWAY contest for the Audiovile CD! GO TO: https://giveaway.amazon.com/p/b9d3f687c1ac6004. NO PURCHASE NECESSARY. Ends the earlier of Dec 31, 2015 11:59 PM PST, or when all prizes are claimed. See Official Rules http://amzn.to/GArules.
The second winner was Lisa McGee — congratulations!
GIVEAWAY #3: INSTIGATION FOR CHRISTMAS! (ended)
Closing out Christmas night, I ran a quick draw for a free copy of my collection of writing prompts “on the dark side,” Instigation.
Send firstname.lastname@example.org an email by Midnight eastern on Christmas Day and he’ll reply with a free copy of Instigation: Creative Prompts on the Dark Side plus one mystery bonus within 24 hours. All you need to write is “send me a ____ for Xmas” (and fill in the blank with your choice of .mobi, .epub, or .pdf format). Offer ends strictly at midnight est, 12/25/15. ALL ENTRANTS WILL BE SUBSCRIBED TO THE GORELETTER but can unsubscribe anytime they wish. Have a merry one, no matter what your religion (or none)!
GIVEAWAY #4: PLAY DEAD (ended)
Leading up to new years, there was a chance to win a free paperback copy of my supernatural noir novel about murder, poker and fate, Play Dead…
Congratulations to Tricia.
See this Amazon Giveaway for a chance to win Play Dead: https://giveaway.amazon.com/p/94f248da8f4cf840. NO PURCHASE NECESSARY. Ends the earlier of Dec 31, 2015 11:59 PM PST, or when all prizes are awarded by random draw. See Official Rules http://amzn.to/GArules.
GIVEAWAY #5: GRAVE MARKINGS (ended)
And we finally closed out with a chance to win a free paperback copy of my “tattoo artist turned serial killer artist” novel, Grave Markings: 20th Anniversary Edition…
Congrats to Brian Converse.
Click on this Amazon Giveaway link for a chance to win Grave Markings: https://giveaway.amazon.com/p/84bc51c0a9162c3e. NO PURCHASE NECESSARY. Ends the earlier of Dec 31, 2015 11:59 PM PST, or when all prizes are awarded by random draw. See Official Rules http://amzn.to/GArules.
GIVEAWAY #6: THE GRAND PRIZE (ended)
PROVERBS FOR MONSTERS…IN LEATHER!
And last but not least, the GRAND PRIZE will be a signed, limited leatherbound copy of the Bram Stoker Award-winning collection of my best horror fiction and poetry, Proverbs for Monsters! Only 26 of these are in existence… and they listed at $125 on release. ALL SUBSCRIBERS TO THE GORELETTER ARE AUTOMATICALLY ELIGIBLE FOR THIS PRIZE, which will be randomly drawn after New Year’s Eve. The grand prize winners will be contacted via email and must respond to my query within 24 hours to win.
SIGN UP FOR THE GORELETTER BEFORE MIDNIGHT EASTERN ON 12.31.15 and this book could be yours!
CONGRATULATIONS TO GRAND PRIZE WINNER & SUBSCRIBER STEFAN ANDREW!
If you entered but didn’t win, stay subscribed… never know when another contest or giveaway might occur!
It’s been a great year but I’m looking forward to 2016 even more… it promises to be the most uncanny year yet! Make sure you keep up with me by subscribing to The Goreletter — a new one should be out before the end of the year, and again: it will feature the top prize!
Easy-peasy: CLICK HERE to sign up.
Mailings now go out roughly every 1-2 months. Privacy is tight and well-respected. In 2013, I adopted a new email system that has greater security and allows for high-quality HTML-based design, but a plain text version is still also available. Browse the back issues to see the newsletter’s decade-plus history.
In last November’s issue of The Goreletter, I posted the following list of story starters for “Horror for the Holidays.” Since the season will soon be upon us, I thought I’d share it here on the blog, to help the sicko writers out there get started on corrupting their holiday imaginations early.
If you didn’t see this before, it’s because you don’t subscribe to my newsletter. SUBSCRIBE and you’ll get Instigation fresh off the grill. And if you want whole trove of things like this, pick up my ebook, Instigation: Creative Prompts on the Dark Side
Horror for the Holidays
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.
+ a possessed belt buckle
+ murder by butter
+ the carving of the beast
+ a sinister game at the children’s table
+ a postmodern puritan meets a elderly witch
+ gravy, in zero gravity
+ a secret trophy on the Xmas tree
+ serving up hot cider — named “Suicider”
+ ceremonial burning inside the chimney
+ inappropriate carolling
+ new year’s eve in prison
+ the snow smothers
+ snow angel chalk outlines
+ the tree feels it all
+ Rudolph the Red-Tipped Pain Spear
+ new year’s cocktails from hell
+ the haunted advent calendar
At the Nightsun writing conference in Frostburg, MD, last weekend, I had the privilege of performing a reading of fiction and poetry. Here’s an audio clip from the event, along with the text for one of the pieces I read — the Seussian horror poem, “Zombifurcation” — which appears in the latest issue of The Goreletter.
|A zombie crawled right,
a zombie crawled left —
both shared the singular
body I'd cleft.
I'd chopped down his chest,
He pulled himself toward me
A zombie crawled left,
|I dropped my machete
and pulled out my gun —
I had to be ready
to shoot either one.
And he got awfully near me
A zombie crawled here,
I could have just left then —
My wife and I snuck away to Germany early in July to visit with family and old friends, and during our stay, we took a side trip to the former east to spend a few days in the city of Dresden. It’s a fantastic city, brimming with festive nightlife partying in the streets of the “neustadt” and overwhelming with architectural beauty and the high life of the “oldstadt.”
In the midst of it all, I had an unplanned encounter with Till Lindemann. Till is not only the lead singer of the uber-metal group Rammstein, but also the author of On Quiet Nights, recently released in English translation by Raw Dog Screaming Press — a book for which I wrote the introduction.
Well, I did not meet him literally. But Till seemed to be all over Dresden, with posters still plastered everywhere advertising a recent concert for his Skills in Pills album tour. His forward leaning “shush” posture kept beckoning me like someone inviting me to follow him to a secret place…
And there was one. We learned that there was an “Over 18” (aka NC-17) art gallery, Galerie Holger John, located deep in the neustadt, featuring a small exhibition of Till Lindemann’s sculpture.
As we entered, the current single from Skills and Pills, “Praise Abort” (NSFW video here) looped over the speakers and we were confronted with a taxidermy surprise — Lindemann’s sculpture of a deer kept under guard by two baby mannequins in leather masks with guns and batons. And that was just the start. Smaller sculptures of things like binoculars with phallic protrusions shooting out of the lenses and skull-headed babies under domed glass appeared all around the two floors of the gallery. The exhibition was amazing and audacious — and given the number of genital sculptures in evidence everywhere, it was not exactly a rated-G experience, so I can’t share many photos. But I loved it.
The exhibition predominantly featured the original photographs from the provocative shoot for Lindemann’s Skills in Pills album (see wikipedia), in addition to sculptures by Till, props from the “Praise Abort” video, and a few large displays of the original artwork/poetry from On Quiet Nights (aka In Stillen Nachten) by Matthias Matthies and Lindemann. There were two floors of fantastic photographs by Stefan Heilemann, Paul Harries, Aram Radomski, Bryan Adams, Tomaso Baldessarini, and Matthias Matthies, in addition to all the unforgettably outrageous sculptures by Till Lindemann. We took some photos, but most can’t be shared here. However, intrepid readers can see them on the gallery’s website, if they are old and bold enough to do so.
Dresden has a fantastic art scene and is an amazing city to visit. I’ve mixed a few extras into the gallery below. Highly recommended.
The exhibition lasts till 8/23/15 at Galerie Holger John (Rahnitzgasse 17, Dresden), so if you find yourself near this historical city in Germany in the month to come — and you aren’t carting around kiddies with you — it’s well worth a visit.
If not, the next best thing might be the super deluxe edition of the Skills and Pills album, which includes a great book of artwork and photography. The music — featuring Till’s all-English singing for the first time — is as hilariously twisted as the art in this exhibition.
Fans of the book, On Quiet Nights might be interested in the photo session from the previous Lindemann/Matthies & Rammstein exhibit for IN STILLEN NÄCHTEN at the Galerie Holger John celebrating the book’s release, which are currently archived here. Large prints of Matthias Matthies’ art and Till Lindemann’s poetry from the original collection seem to still be for sale online from the gallery.
The Goreletter Vol. 10, #1 — the first issue of 2015 — was delivered to mailing list subscribers on 6/24/15 @ 10:15pm est. It contains extra entertainment/material not available here on the weblog version, including a new gorelets poem, information on upcoming summer signings, and new art. The image below, for instance, was included in the newsletter, and you can see more weirdness like it in my flickr gallery.
If you subscribe and did not receive this issue, or just want to see the back issues, review the archives at gorelets.com. If you need to check or update your subscription’s email address, just enter it in the subscribe box and review the report.
If you don’t subscribe yet, sign up! I see The Goreletter as something akin to a weird magazine rather than an author’s publicity tool. It’s free and you can always unsubscribe. Issues are sent just once every three-or-four months, so your inbox won’t suffocate. Contact me if you have any questions. — Michael A. Arnzen
Till Lindemann — frontman from the German metal band Rammstein, also releasing a promisingly twisted new solo album this month — has just published the English translation of his poetry collection, On Quiet Nights (aka In Stillen Nachten), through my favorite indie publisher, Raw Dog Screaming Press.
I wrote the forward for this edition of the book, which I had the chance to read in original German as well as English. The poems make for a very unique read. Here’s an excerpt from my intro:
Poetry is about sound as much as it is about sense. Rammstein reaches a worldwide audience because Till Lindemann’s lyrics cut across cultures; the sound they make is as universal as any scream or howl, and Till’s vocalization of these words with all their Germanic trills and spittle express the feelings we all share — from rage to fear to lust — at the very level of their utterance. In some songs, Rammstein sneaks a little English into the mix, maybe to throw Americans a bone — as in “Amerika” or “Pu**y” — songs that are hilarious in their mockery of nationalistic arrogance mixed with a brash sexuality that suggests one country might be screwing with another. But ultimately, vocabulary is less important to these American fans than the charge they feel in their ribcages when the music plays and Lindemann pushes his voice into the mic. One only needs to hear Till growl out the opening phrase that launches the song, “Ich Will” — a phrase delivered like a hot burp of molten tar mixed with broken glass — to know what I’m talking about: this is a voice to be reckoned with. And it’s at the foundation of this collection of poetry.
The Examiner also has a fabulous review of the book.
Of course, you should look into his latest album, Skills in Pills, too, if only to enjoy the disturbing and devious new video. Lindemann sings the songs on his first solo outing in English, which makes the Rammstein vibe of it all the more unsettling. It’s great to see the man expanding his global audience.
In case you missed the news elsewhere, Cutting Block Press and Farolight Publishing have released The Best of Horror Library, Vols 1-5… and it really is the best! The anthology contains top-rated stories by a treasure trove of great writers. Having worked with editor RJ Cavender and crew at different times over many years now, I can totally testify: they care a lot about quality. And it shows in this collection, which gathers the top 30 stories out of over 150 tales they’ve published over the past decade in their thrice-Stoker nominated series of chilling horror and dread.
I can’t review this one, as a) I’m in it, and, b) my review would go on forever because every story rocks. The introduction by Lisa Morton really explains what makes this book work so well: it’s top of the line small press horror, “which didn’t play by the major (publisher’s) rules…but elevated originality and craftsmanship over formula and stereotype…” Just take a gander at the Table of Contents, and you’ll no doubt spot a familiar author or curious title, and I know you’ll want to read the whole book:
“A Chainsaw Execution” by Stephen R. George.
“After” by Kealan Patrick Burke.
“Consumed” by Michael Louis Calvillo.
“Apple” by Marc Paoletti.
“Ash Wednesday” by Lorne Dixon.
“Bound” by Alan Smale.
“Drawn” by Daniel L. Naden.
“Exegesis of the Insecta Apocrypha” by Colleen Anderson.
“Follower” by Danny Rhodes.
“Footprints Fading in the Desert” by Eric J. Guignard.
“Ghosts Under Glass” by Tracie McBride.
“Guarded” by Michael A. Arnzen.
“I am Meat I am in Daycare” by Cameron Pierce.
“Into the After” by Kurt Dinan.
“Jerrod Steihl Goes Home” by Ian Withrow.
“Next Stop, Babylon” by John Mantooth.
“Obsidian Sea” by Kurt Kirchmeier.
“Open Mind Night at the Ritz” by Shane McKenzie.
“Santa Maria” by Jeff Cercone.
“Skin” by Kim Despins.
“Sporting the Waters of the Bermuda Triangle” by Greggard Penance.
“The Apocalypse Ain’t so Bad” by Jeff Strand.
“The Exterminators” by Sara Joan Berniker.
“The Garbage Collectors” by Ron McGillvray.
“The Happiness Toy” by Ray Garton.
“The Healing Hands of Reverend Wainwright” by Geoffrey L. Mudge.
“The Immolation Scene” by John F.D. Taff.
“The Living World” by C. Michael Cook.
“The Puppet Show” by Rick J. Brown.
“The Station” by Bentley Little.
“The Steel Church” by Charles Colyott.
“The Vulture’s Art” by Benjamin Kane Ethridge.
“Trapped Light Medium” by Sunil Sadanand.
Each story comes with a reflection by the writer on their inspiration for the tale. Read this book and you will get a great snapshot of the diversity of weirdness at large in new millennial horror. Buy a copy from Amazon today.
Tip: see my somewhat buried Anthologies page to discover more books like this, featuring short horror stories by a gathering of writers usually riffing darkly on a common theme.