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Michael Arnzen's Weird Newsletter
+++Vol. 9.1 | 2.7.2014+++
And the Winner Is…
Blather. Wince. Repeat.
It's award season in all the media – from the Grammys to the Oscars – and that means it's time for one of my favorite annual rituals: the parade of “In Memoriam” reels that they show during these fancy award ceremonies, reminding us of the industry trailblazers and celebrities that, sadly, are no longer with us…and yet at the same time, they will always be with us, secured by their recorded history.
Call me morbid, but they're my favorite part of the ceremony.
They're touching emotional tributes to some really amazing people who have made a difference in all of our lives. They are a testament to greatness, and a reminder of just how brightly some stars really do shine. But they're also kind of strange, too.
For one thing, the “In Memorium” reel clashes with all the lively festivity going on. They try to dress it up with beautiful music and lighting, but there's no mistaking the funereal darkness of the moment. It's like the Red Death just entered the Masque.
For another, even though I usually have disdain for most celebrity phonies, I do feel a little twinge of empathy for the awardees during this moment. I imagine it must be weird to be nominated for an award and filled with the joy of knowing you've finally made it to the pinnacle of your career, only to be forced to sit quietly and watch clip after clip of the recently demised. It's humiliating, reminding you just how meaningless your award really is in the big picture. Yes, death likes you, it really likes you, and any day now it could be you up there on the screen, too.
The “In Memoriam” moment always tugs at my heartstrings. But I'll admit it: I feel a little cheated by the whole affair. The photos and film clips they use for the “In Memoriam” reel at the Oscars, for instance, aren't all THAT special. They always show people at the height of their career, usually smiling fakely as they play to the camera or simply delivering a famous line that we've seen a million times before. Where's the creativity that movie makers are known for? Why not make a montage of all those dead actors getting shot, stabbed, strangled, drowned, poisoned, hung, beheaded and blown up from all those fabulous death scenes in their movies? That would be far more entertaining…and totally apropos. Just imagine it.
Granted, not all actors and industry workers get to have death scenes in their films, but maybe they should have to record one when they register for the Academy. Then they could save it up for their future death year, and give an award for the “Best Performance in an In Memoriam Reel” in the montage – live! Who wouldn't want to get an Oscar from beyond? It would be an honor even higher than any Lifetime Achievement award! I say let's paint Xs over the eyes of Oscar and give out a post-mortem prize – the “Morties” – to the best of them.
I guarantee the speeches wouldn't go overtime.
KINDLE COUNTDOWN | Feb 10th-15th | PLAY DEAD
One Week Discount on Play Dead for Amazon Kindle Act fast and get the PLAY DEAD ebook cheap from Feb 10th-15th
PLAY DEAD publisher Raw Dog Screaming Press is running a “Kindle Countdown” special offer next week! Kicking off on Monday, February 10th, you can get the Amazon Kindle version of my second novel for just .99 cents. It will go up a dollar a day afterward, until returning to its regular price on the 15th. Don't hesitate! Not only will you get a great deal if you act quick, your purchase will help make the book more visible on amazon.com for little awhile. So share the word and let your depraved friends know all about it, before the clock ticks down.
Find the kindle version through my Amazon Profile: http://amzn.com/e/B001K7NME8
Praise for Play Dead …. “Unreservedly, utterly nasty…and man, does Mike Arnzen make it a work of art – we have got meticulously handcrafted ghastliness here. And no mistake. Arnzen is in the company of writers like Poppy Z, Brite, Clive Barker, and Stephen King, to name just three. Well done….Play Dead commands an extraordinary palette of horror.” – NY Review of SF
“Las Vegas is as diseased a city as there is, and Mike Arnzen knows this as well as anyone. In Play Dead, he distills its essence down to a uniquely brutal game and brings together as fascinatingly repellent a bunch of losers ever to make a grab for the corroded brass ring. What happens in Vegas stays in Vegas? Jesus, let’s hope so.” – Brian Hodge, author of Deathgrip and Wild Horses
“A masterpiece of eloquent depravity.” – JA Konrath, author of Bloody Mary
The original hard-to-find hardcover edition is long sold out but the novel is also available in paperback.
Over the holidays, I uncovered a lost audio recording of my short story from 100 Jolts, called “Limber.” I read this story (about a person whose body starts to fall apart, bit by bit) along with a track of “Pink Floyd-like” guitars, but abandoned it during the making of my Audiovile cd for some reason, and I'd long forgotten all about. But now I've remastered and remixed it for you, and you can download it for free. Consider it an online bonus track to Audiovile. Or just put on your headphones and stream it into your ear canals on Soundcloud
If you like this, you might want to investigate Audiovile: http://rawdogscreaming.com/books/audiovile/
Meet Mike Arnzen in 2014
ARNZEN AT AWP14 IN SEATTLE At the end of the month, I'll be attending the Assoc. of Writers & Writing Programs Conference in the Washington State Convention Center at the Sheraton Hotel in Seattle, WA. I plan to join the Seton Hill University MFA in Writing Popular Fiction booth in the Bookfair, South Hall, Space CC26, and am scheduled there on Friday, 2/28 from 1:30-2:45pm. Also on hand will be Heidi Ruby Miller, Jason Jack Miller and Nicole Peeler – all teachers at SHU.
On Sat., 3/1, Noon-1pm, I'll be joining Minor Arcana Press in the Bookfair at Space BB18 for signings. Whether you're at AWP or not, join me at the release party & poetry reading at 7pm for Drawn to Marvel: Poems from the Comic Books at Ray Gun Lounge (501 E. Pine, Seattle).
Details here: http://gorelets.com/events/awp-seattle-2014/
UPCOMING EVENTS: Association of Writers & Writing Programs https://www.awpwriter.org/awp_conference/overview Feb 27 - Mar 1, 2014 | Seattle, WA
World Horror Convention http://www.worldhorror2014.org/ May 8-11, 2014 | Portland, OR
Seton Hill University http://inyourwritemind.setonhill.edu/ “In Your Write Mind” Booksigning June 27, 2014 | Greensburg, PA
Confluence http://www.confluence-sff.org/ July 25-27, 2014 | Pittsburgh, PA
Pounded into the pavement
at the foot of the skyscraper,
the body is human hash,
flesh pulverized by the weight
of what it has done: and
the skin – where there is skin –
is buckled up by bones
where bones should not be,
looking like something akin
to a sack full of
There is no blood puddle,
only fine droplets, a mist
surrounding its periphery,
which spatters high, alarmingly
so, all the way up
to puzzle the office workers
gazing out the 3nd floor windows.
But there are liquid pools, a pale yellow
color you can't really place,
a foreign custard, and the walkway
smells, faintly fresh but meaty
like a sloppy maternity room.
there is nothing recognizable –
no face nor distinguishing features –
and so you think
it could be anyone,
maybe even someone you know.
But where its clothing
went off to is a mystery
and you can't even read
its gender in the spot you
would guess is between where
what should be legs would be.
The only thing remaining
to indicate that this pile
of skin was once human, actually,
is a single meaty arm
reaching out from the skin stew,
its wedding ring magically intact
around a single bent finger, raised
as if posing a question
or pointing right at you,
or perhaps up,
so you look
discovering only more mystery
in the widening shadow above
before the second body hits you.
“A Good Day for an Exorcism,” (http://www.flickr.com/photos/gorelets/8636723552/in/set-72157626970359893) is one of about 50 “Kindle Experiments” I've been posting over the past few years to my flickr gallery . I like to take photos of ebooks and distort them into something different and unexpected. I'm not sure why I started doing this, aside from my dim sense that ebook devices always feel so static – always the same in shape and feel and look – compared to old school books. Sure, a book is always bound paper, but when you hold a book like The Exorcist in your hands, it has a certain aura about it that feels uniquely suited to scare you.
But I love ebooks, and have actually been publishing them before the Kindle was even invented. There are many ways to read an ebook, but truth is, Amazon really does consider the physical act of reading and the needs of human readers best when it comes to their devices. Seduced by its promise of high contrast lighting and dark e-ink, and the integration of new features like goodreads, I just ordered the new Kindle Paperwhite, so I suspect I'll not only be reading a lot more ebooks soon, but also doing many more of these playful distortions of kindle photographs in the days to come…
THE RESOLUTION story & contest winners
Last issue, I issued an opening line of a story called “The Resolution” (http://gorelets.com/blog/instigation/the-resolution/) and invited everyone to continue writing the tale on the “Instigation Playground” on AuthorBee to both have fun and get automatically entered into a contest with great prizes.
You can read the resulting story on scribd.com, or see it live on AuthorBee! (http://www.scribd.com/doc/194905273/The-Resolution-an-AuthorBee-Story)
Everyone who contributed to the story was entered into a contest for amazon gift cards from AuthorBee or books and swag from Arnzen. Congratulations to:
“Best Individual Contributions” prizes go to: Mike Brendan, Terrie Leigh Relf and Gary Blankenship for creativity, original story development, and prose style.
Using Authorbee's unique “remixer” I reassembled posts into what I felt was the “Best Storyline” (http://www.scribd.com/doc/194905273/The-Resolution-an-AuthorBee-Story). Anyone who was a part of the result was entered into a random draw for The Fridge of the Damned poetry kits. Congrats to the lucky winners: Dale Herring, Gary Blankenship, and Steph Ellis.
Special thanks to AuthorBee (http://tweet.authorbee.com/) for sponsoring and promoting this contest, and for giving the “Instigation Playground” a featured space on their website. Their twitter-based collaborative storytelling engine is a unique and clever forum and I recommend folks who like to write “story chains” check it out.
twisted prompts for sicko writers
* Depict the Grim Reaper delivering a Valentine's gift to the type of person he or she most “loves” to kill.
* Dramatize a blind date between demons from very different sides of Hell.
* Describe the various sensations associated with eating a heart in loving detail. This is your opening paragraph.
* Delineate the crime scene in a holiday card shop during Valentine's season.
* Compose a love letter to an imprisoned serial killer, from an unexpected author.
* Make a list of all the (one-word) sins you can think of. Choose your favorite. Your title is “[Sin]: A Love Story”.
* Seduce an ugly vampire. Perhaps to get them to enter the sunlight.
* Misread a famous love song or romantic poem in a way that leads to horrifying consequences.
* Detail the clean up required on the day AFTER the “Valentine's Day Massacre” (whether literally or figuratively).
* Don't “kill them with kindness.” Kill Kindness.
* Invent a crazy new historical origin story for “Valentine's Day.”
* Portray Cupid as the monster baby he really is.
If you like writing prompts as wacky as these, my e-book Instigation: Creative Prompts on the Dark Side has over 500 more! Click below to get your copy.
Q: “If you could magic another hour into the day, where would you put it and what would you use it for?”
A: “I would put 13 o’clock into my sleep schedule and enjoy the bonus timelessness of dream…”
Read the complete Arnzen interview in pigfender's clever “8Qs” interview series. In it I leak some news about current secret projects I've been working on that will see the light in 2014.
Recently, Instigation: Creative Prompts on the Dark Side was featured in the top books on horror writing shelf at Dark Markets: The Online Market Guide for Horror Writers. The site also interviewed me for their cool “Author Spotlight” series, and you'll find my advice for authors and musings about the present state of the genre posted there on Feb 25th.
The anthology, Horror Library Vol. 5 has not only been receiving raves from horror fans everywhere, but also is currently listed on the Preliminary Ballot for the Bram Stoker Award for Best Anthology (http://horror.org/?p=5627)! Pick up this wide-ranging sampler of original horror by new visionaries and veteran voices in the genre, to see why it's being celebrated.
My story in this book, “Pillars of Light,” is dark resurrection tale. Available from Cutting Block Press and now available on Amazon.com in paperback. Contributors you might recognize include Bentley Little, Jeff Strand, Ray Garton, Kristin Dearborn, Benjamin Kane Ethridge, Anne Michaud, and many others.
“God is a comedian, playing to an audience too afraid to laugh.” – Voltaire (died 1778)
Find me on your favorite social network via http://michaelarnzen.com
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© Copyright 2014, Michael A. Arnzen - All rights reserved
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