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Michael Arnzen's Weird Newsletter

+++Vol. 9.4 | October 2014+++

Horror is a Church


Blather. Wince. Repeat.

Horror is a Church

Horror is a church. Its blood-stained glass both colors and reflects its readers' worldview. It sacrifices many readers on the altar of repugnance. Some resurrect in order to pray and pray again. It appears on many territories – from the realms of dark fantasy to the alleyways of noir mysteries – from the cobwebbed stacks of literary libraries to the fecund boudoirs of paranormal romances. It has no bible. It has no church. It is a moving church. It is falling on top of you.


Grave Markings 20th Anniversary Edition

I'm proud to report my first novel, Grave Markings, is being re-released on Halloween day in a wonderful 20th anniversary edition, making it available in both trade paperback and ebook format for the first time. This 1994 horror novel about a “tattoo killer” (originally published in mass market paperback by Dell/Abyss Books) won the Bram Stoker Award, the Horror Critics Guild Award and was also excerpted in both The Best of Outlaw Biker Tattoo Revue magazine and DAW Books' The Year's Best Horror Stories vol. XX. This new edition from Raw Dog Screaming Press includes 50 pages of bonus features, including an array of articles behind the making and reception of the book, and also a handful of tattoo-based short stories I wrote for biker magazines in the early 90s, a few never published before until now! The last pages of the book include a link to even MORE bonus features, giving you special access to extra multimedia files, hidden online for your eyes only!

$4.99 ebook from

$12.99 paperback from Raw Dog Screaming Press

To celebrate early, a launch party at Terrault Contemporary art gallery is being held on Oct 25th in downtown Baltimore. Come join the publisher's “Bizarro Halloween” gathering of authors and readings to get your grubby hands on this book early, hear me read from the book, and generally share in weird frivolity of the evening. Other guests planned to read fiction include authors John Edward Lawson, G Arthur Brown, Blake Burkhead, Hanna JL Gribble and K. Ceres Wright. A great chance to get a copy of this title before anyone else can.

“Grave Markings is a high-speed chase into madness, unpredictable and twisted as a mountain road, written by one of the most inventive and outrageous talents in the horror genre.” — Karl Edward Wagner


I've joined the numerous voices on the Science Fiction Poetry Association's Halloween Readings page, with a new bass and drum-backed spoken word piece, called “Katzen Clavier”. Check it out, along with twisted readings from writers like Matt Betts, Sara Tantlinger, Maria Alexander and many more.

A few weeks ago, I returned to Riley's Pour House – an Irish pub near Pittsburgh – where writers like Stephanie Wytovich, Sheldon Higdon and others shared flash fiction as a warm up for the Halloween season. Watch host Lawrence Connolly's website to see if any recordings pop up. But for now, you can listen to my “storytelling” moment at the pub last May, where I discussed “What Possessed Me to Be a Horror Writer.”

Speaking of Lawrence Connolly, he is the latest featured horror writer in the Instigation Showcase ( ! Check out his interview and enjoy the custom-made writing prompt he's created for you.

And finally, you can watch and hear me read some recent flash fiction in this video that Raw Dog Screaming Press captured from DogCon3 held at the Confluence convention in Pittsburgh in July.


RDSPress presents “Bizarro Halloween”
Terrault Contemporary Art Gallery
Oct 25th, 2014 @ 7:30pm | Baltimore, MD

Rickert & Beagle Books
“Write or Die” Halloween Readings
Oct 28th, 2014 @ 6:30pm | Pittsburgh, PA

World Horror Convention 2015
May 7-10th, 2015 | Atlanta, GA

Nightsun Writer's Workshops
Science-Fiction/Fantasy/Horror Classes
July 23-26th, 2015 | Frostburg, MD
Register by July 1st to Participate

World Horror Convention 2016
April 28-May 1st, 2016 | Provo, UT
Mark your calendars in blood…Arnzen is a Special Guest!



The word “lobe” was applied to brain matter in the 1670's. Prior to that, in its original Greek, lobos, meant “vegetable pods.”

i.e., We are all pod people.

is named for its placement, resting against and behind the remainder of the matter, like some cowering weakling crushed beneath the dogpile of brains. Occipital: occupied with its social position and therefore pitiful in every way. Paranoid, the occipital lobe madly processes sight, wishing for more than two front-facing eyeballs to feed it, wishing it were instead one giant pupil, absorbing all.

is always late to meetings and can't hold a job. These are the cells you kill without a second thought because they're where memory is stored.

is the laboratory of the senses, but it just stands there in the middle of everything, a wallflower of goop, breathing it all in. The other lobes wish it would get out of the way.

steals the show, its gyri annoyingly plump with ideas and always, obnoxiously, full on nude. It is always jutting forward as if ready to pour out over the bearer's brow – if it could just turn around it might see that the others are nudging it forward.


Hashtag Games

I continue to enjoy (follow me at @MikeArnzen ( ) as a creative playground, as much as a place to share and learn and generally laugh it up. Hashtag games – where people post a witty remark “tagged” by a searchable keyword connected to a pound sign (like #thisiswitty) – are one thing I particularly enjoy. They're like micro-prompts, and they can drum up a great stream of punchlines.

Here's a batch of the weirder ones I've posted since the June issue of The Goreletter, assembled for your amusement.

* Linus’ Blanket is Actually Human Skin, Charlie Brown #rejectedpeanutsspecials
* We Have Always Lived in White Castle #fastfoodfiction
* #spookierbooks The Importance of Burning Ernest
* “Baby Van Helsing”: fang tips / clattering in the garlic jar — / he rattles at the moon #horror #poetry
* Hamperber #RuinAFood
* If you always think “murder weapon” whenever you see a letter opener, you might be a horror fan. Happy #TerrorTuesday
* Unspeakable Hazing Rituals of the Oompa Loompa Deltas #titlewithoutstory
* #explainafilmplotbadly Perfectly good polaroid photos get ruined whenever toddler anti-christ is nearby.
* Why do I have nothing to tweet? / My tweets are sealed. / Tweet something once / Why tweet it again? / Psycho Twitter / #F-friday #ff ff fff
* Hell serves the best blackened swordfish. #sixwords
* “I am NOT a hoarder,” the man pleaded as he was led out into sunlight. “This installation is my magnum opus…I call it, ‘The Smell.’” #vss
* #6words He shouted: “All over but the — !”

Even if you're not on twitter, you can find more of this weirdness and more in the non-stop archive of all my tweets, updated hourly at The Nest at


and Other Arnzen News

Paula Guran has edited a fantastic anthology of contemporary zombie literature, called ZOMBIES: MORE RECENT DEAD (a follow-up to Zombies: Recent Dead), in an attempt to capture the best “new millenial” literature of the undead. The book is now available in ebook, paperback and even audiobook from Prime Books. A great Halloween season read. I'm proud she's included my poem, “Rigormarole” in this book, alongside works by Neil Gaiman, Caitlin Kiernan, Joe Lansdale, Stephen Graham Jones, Jonathan Maberry, Marge Simon and many more.

Longtime subscribers of The Goreletter will remember my book, Sportuary , which was an early giveaway to reders. This collection of chilling poetry and horrifying thinkpieces puts a variety of sports through the wringer of terror. It's only available in ebook format. And now it's available FREE via amazon's “Kindle Unlimited” service . Check it out.

“Employing haiku and free verse, Arnzen plumbs the depths of his aberrant, wonderful imagination and offers biting commentary on the shadowy side of athletics: swimmers mesmerized by hungry undertows and ping pong played with staring human eyes, referees getting their gruesome reward and badminton as played by lunatics…these poems are good!” – Tim Curran


twisted prompts for sicko writers


SATANOWRIMO If you've read my book, Instigation: Creative Prompts on the Dark Side, then you know I like to help writers make their sick thoughts even sicker. And since we're gearing up for NaNoWriMo ( – National Novel Writing Month – the world's annual challenge to spit out a whole book in the month of November) I thought I'd remind everyone that there's a special chapter all about “Binge Writing and NaNoWriMo” in the back of the book, as well as a section of “spurs” to help you muddle through the middle of a book you've already started when you start to tire halfway through.

If you don't already have it, you can read this article – and get a meaty batch of Instigation prompts for free – in the excerpt I've posted on

You'll probably want the whole book after you've gotten a taste – order your copy here ( .

If you need yet another cattle prod, try these gentler words of encouragement in my recent audio post of the chapter called “Persist! Avoid these Five Defeatest Writing Myths” on soundcloud.

And don't forget that the free web app of doom, Diabolique Strategies – – is always just a click away!


I would love to receive photos of your “Fridge of the Damned” poems ( for Halloween, to post in my flickr gallery. E-mail me at with a snapshot, or post it to twitter with the hashtag #TFOTD – or heck, just post it anywhere, but let me know where I can find it and thereby share it with the world.

If you don't already have your own set of these cool poetry magnet kits, visit Raw Dog Screaming Press ( and order one today. They're a great way to dress up your otherwise boring refrigerator before all your Halloween party guests hang out in your kitchen, sizing up your meat drawer.


If you liked 100 Jolts …
You'll like Not Just Rockets & Robots by Daily Science Fiction

If you liked The Gorelets Omnibus …
You'll like Dreams Delusions & Chimeras by Angela Pardue

If you liked Play Dead …
You'll like Dinner with the Cannibal Sisters by Douglas Clegg

If you liked Proverbs for Monsters …
You'll like Gifts for the One Who Comes After by Helen Marshall


“There are nights when the wolves are silent and only the moon howls.”
– George Carlin, died 2008


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© Copyright 2014, Michael A. Arnzen - All rights reserved

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goreletter/horror_is_a_church.txt · Last modified: 2014/10/20 17:25 by marnzen

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