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Arnzen's Weird Newsletter

+++ Vol. 2 #9, July 4, 2004 +++

Proverbs for Monsters


Blather. Wince. Repeat.

Proverbs for Monsters

+ Slime never feels slimy to slime.
+ Bark all you like, the man in the moon has no ears.
+ Biting off the head silences the victim. But it is the feet that will stop them from running away.
+ Beware of things that go bump in the day.
+ Man, like monster, also has sharp teeth.
+ Those who most shun garlic, often most enjoyed it in their youth.
+ The sleep of madness brings forth humanity.
+ Wear gold jewelry. When silver is in fashion, wear even more of it.
+ Like a stake through the heart, so is the love of the clergy.
+ A man eating plant will even swallow a vegetarian, when hungry.
+ A garbled threat is but a spell cast by an illiterate witch.
+ An infant vampire bites hardest.
+ Even werewolves shave during the day.
+ It is not your tentacles, but the acid that drips from them, that frightens your prey.
+ Those who fear the sun too soon often awaken before sundown.
+ One can catch a good human with a bad hamburger.
+ Holy water stings but a neck bite is forever.
+ Nothing is more stupid than an exposed brain.
+ Fortune favors the cleaver.


It's now official: you're reading one of the weirdest newsletters on the internet.

On June 5th, this newsletter received the 2003 Bram Stoker Award for Superior Achievement in Alternative Forms from the Horror Writers Association. Other winners of this literary award – the horror genre's most prestigious – included JK Rowling, Peter Straub, Neil Gaiman, Gary Braunbeck, Anne Rice, Brian Keene, Don Coscarelli, Tom and Elizabeth Monteleone, Bruce Boston, and Jack Ketchum. I am deeply honored by this achievement and indebted to all of the subscribers reading this. This is my second Stoker – I won it ten years ago for my first novel, Grave Markings, as well. You can read my acceptance speech and read my illustrated narrative of the festive event in NYC at the Goreletter weblog. [My book, Gorelets: Unpleasant Poems, was also a finalist in the poetry category. Bruce Boston won that award, for Pitchblende, a book of poems I selected and edited. At the ceremony, I accepted the Stoker on Boston's behalf by reading his classic piece, “The Nightmare Collector.” Rumor has it that a few limited editions of Gorelets are still available from Shocklines Bookstore and directly from the publisher].

HWA Press Release:

College Press Release:

My Speech:

My Photolog:

Raw Dog Screaming's Report:

Gorelets Limited Ed.:


My publisher, Delirium Books, reports that my Stoker Award-winning first novel, Grave Markings: The Tenth Anniversary Edition has now SOLD OUT in all editions. I have a handful of signed/limited hardcovers available that I'm willing to part with. If interested, PayPal $75 to (or inquire about other payment methods) and I'll personalize your book with an Arnzen “freestyle tattoo” drawing on the page facing the signing page. Orders also include a FREE signed copy of my trade paperback short story collection, Fluid Mosaic AND a BONUS signed cover flat of the Dell/Abyss paperback original from 1994! Postage included.


Fluid Mosaic:

Sign up for PayPal:

I noticed that 100 Jolts has started getting Bram Stoker Award recommendations in the “Collection” category – thanks HWA members! Also, I've received some confused messages because of a discrepancy on my website and I thought I better clarify: copies of 100 Jolts that are ordered from Shocklines Bookstore are no longer signed. Only preordered copies were autographed. If this troubles you, I'll gladly sell you a signed copy from my personal stock if you'd like. PayPal me $15 to (or inquire about other payment methods) and I'll send you a signed copy of 100 Jolts, postage paid. Be sure to include your mailing address and whether or not you'd like me to personalize the signature. If you want a signed copy of Fluid Mosaic bundled with the book, add an extra $10.

100 Jolts:

Jolts on Shocklines:

My e-book exclusive poetry book about the dark side of sports – Sportuary – is now available at Fictionwise for $1.50. Hey, what gives – that's half price! Talk about a scalping. Fictionwise multiformat ebooks are readable in many different ways: on your computer, on your PDA, on your ebook reader. Formats include: Adobe Acrobat, Microsoft Reader, Palm Doc, PocketPC, Franklin eBookMan, Mobipocket, and more. You'll find many discounted Arnzen e-books at Fictionwise, including the Stoker finalist, Paratabloids, and Arnzen's best short stories from the 1990s, Fluid Mosaic. Fictionwise is running a 20% off campaign for all their titles until July 8th…right now's the time to buy!


“What Corrupted Me” is an autobiographical reflection on how my morbid curiosity and taste for horror fiction developed. It should be available any day now at the Really Scary website – which is quite a good place to get your horror media news and offbeat articles. I especially like author Ray Garton's “Bloodshot Eye” film reviews, which are somewhat reminiscent of the classic column, Harlan Ellison's Watching.

I like the approach of Flash Fantastic magazine: the design emulates an actual magazine, and their focus on a single simple concept (speculative flash fiction) defines them. FF published my short-short, “Research Subjects” in the June issue and also kindly reviewed 100 Jolts last April. Check them out.


Wed, July 21st, 9pm eastern
Online Chat: “Short Forms: Horror Poetry and Dark Flash Fiction”
Horror Writers Association Chat Room (HWA members only):

Sat, July 24, Pittsburgh, PA
Fiction Reading + Panels
Confluence 2004 SF Convention:

Sat, Aug 14, 5pm eastern
Fiction Reading (with Gerard Houarner)
Horrorfind Weekend East – Baltimore, MD:

Thurs, Oct 14th, 8pm eastern
Online Chat (open to public)
Long Ridge Writer's Group:

Oct 28-31, Tempe, AZ: World Fantasy Convention 2004 (tentatively planned)


My Favorite Listmanias

A Tour Through The Body: Fun (And Gross) Books For Kids

Greatest Movies Involving Decapitation

Top 25 Weirdest Things You Can Buy on

So You're Going to Jail…

Dead, dying, maimed, deformed, opened & freakish bodies

At Least the Titles are Funny


+ Violate an aquarium by constructing a grotesque underwater display.

+ Disgust a schoolchild by dishing out something surprising in the cafeteria.

+ Do something very nasty with body hair.

Instigation is a WEEKLY department in Hellnotes newsletter: You can also buy collections of prompts for chump change at The Sickolodeon:

If you publish something instigated by this department, let me know at and I'll mention it here! Or if you're bold (and willing to forfeit electronic rights), post your response to a prompt at the new Goreletter weblog by clicking on the word “comments” underneath the “Instigation” section at:

For example, read the recent flash fiction about the “filthiest place in my everyday life” by Cake Earthead here:



To celebrate this newsletter's recent Bram Stoker Award, I'm giving away prizes to subscribers who win this month's guessing game.

Like most people, I've set up automatic spam “filters” to make sure that most junk e-mail messages never make it to my hard drive. But spammers – ingenious bastards that they are – have figured out how to elude these filters, by including long lists of nonsense words which fool the filter into thinking the message is normal correspondence.

What follows is a list of phrases I've actually seen in my spam box in the past month. As you'll see, they're often quite poetic. All are genuine, but there's one phrase in this list that I made up myself. If you are among the first two people to guess which of the following weird spam words are invented by Arnzen, you'll win a prize!

aerodynamic drool
blood clot cowards
bronchial spaghetti
burglar necromancers of 5581
dolphin alchemists
fungoid bug cerebellum
god screwed you
keep it up larvae
horsewomen catsup
living with 30 pig pen gonads
molecular cannibal
pit viper brides
removes skin
super soft graveyard people
voyeur blood boots

You get one free guess. E-mail it to me at The first correct guess will win a free copy of the twisted comic paperback, Dogwitch Series 1: Direct to Video ( signed by both writer/illustrator Dan Schaffer and Arnzen (who wrote the introduction) plus Schaffer's “Special Features” artfolio OR a signed copy of Arnzen's Fluid Mosaic. The second place winner will receive a few random copies of the Dogwitch comic signed by Schaf, plus the poetry chapbook, Michael Arnzen's Dying ( You must be over 21 to receive the comics. You will need to provide a statement of age plus a mailing address if you win.

And please don't send me spam, no matter how poetic you might be.


Mannequin Madness

For your next movie night, rent:
Tourist Trap (1979)
Maniac (1980)
Hide and Go Shriek (1988)


The first anthology from Allegra Press – Wicked Little Girls, edited by Christina Sng – is a mixed bag of stories and poems involving female children who are “made of sugar and spikes and everything >not< nice” (as Scott Urban puts it in his introduction). Sng – a genre poet of much repute – has done a good job selecting a wide array of approaches to the topic. While the production quality is a bit disappointing (especially the bare-boned red cardstock cover, with the words of the title blown up in a large, familiar, blood-dripping horror font), the length is a little short (26 pages), and the story quality is a little unbalanced, there are also some real gems hiding in this small press chapbook about darkness lurking where you'd least expect it: in the form of the sweet and innocent girl.

Refreshingly, half of this book contains the work of female horror writers, and there's a good mix of international authors represented, as well. The horror genre still seems dominated by male voices writing about male preoccupations, and Wicked Little Girls stands as a small press corrective to this hegemony. It dramatizes, in many of its pieces, a turning of the tables and a revolt of the “little girl” against patriarchy and male power. Some stories, like Jamie Rosen's allegory, “Alis Bender's Life Lesson #36,” deliver that revolt with humor, with a direct kick to the groin. Others are more literary, exploring the role of storytelling in disempowering the “little girl.” Marsheila Rockwell's excellent poem, “Gretel” – reminiscent of Angela Carter's feminist work in fairy tales – retells the famous tale of gingerbread house kidnapping in a monologue by Hansel's sister by turning the finger of blame away from the wicked witch and pointing it squarely at Hansel himself: “no wonder father wanted/him gone/it was >his< ungodly hunger/that beggared us…his voracious appetite/that brought the witch's wrath upon us.” I also enjoyed Simon Bestwick's sf/horror piece – “Emily's Song: A Life Cycle in Three Parts” – which may be the best story in the anthology. It's about a little monster named Emily who takes over the body of the president in a parasitic fashion, leading to grotesque and genuinely surprising ends. Bestwick manages to balance gross-out humor against the story's political allegory in an expert fashion. Jonathan William Hodges' excellent contribution, “Deep in the Gloom of Lights from Rescue Squads” is an extended prose-poem, written in a hypnotic weave of prose that moves in and out of reality in quite a bizarre but eloquent fashion. Indeed, poetry sneaks into the prose where you least expect it in many of the stories in this collection. For example, when I first read Robyn A. Hay's “Scrapbook” I almost read right past the rhyme that recurs in paragraphs like this one – “'How's the knee, Bea?' Rodney asked his wife quietly” – even though the over-reliance on adverbs in the dialogue tags made the creative writing teacher in me writhe.

Because the collection's premise is about “wicked little girls” almost every story's ending was telegraphed to some degree: I always already assumed that the little girls of the stories were going to do something wicked or horrible. Perhaps this is why a few of the stories didn't work for me. One might think that this premise is the book's limitation, but with characters ranging from daughters to dollies, and settings from Africa to alien worlds, Wicked Little Girls has enough variety to make it an enjoyable read all the way through, regardless. If you're looking for something on the alternative side, get your copy direct from Allegra Press – or through the small press distributor Project Pulp – for about $6 postpaid.

GORELETS: Unpleasant Poems


i saw a worm squirming in place
one side squashed into the pavement
pink, flattened and stuck like tack
the other snaking wildly
as if in pain or panic
a familiar flagellum
getting nowhere
before my other foot came down


Do me a favor?

Gorelets is a pretty popular site in the horror community, but last time I checked my server's web statistics, I noticed that only 8% of the hits to my site each month come from links on other people's pages. That's good, and I appreciate those of you who have spread the news about on your web sites. But I bet we can do much better. I've always avoided the crass “you link to me, I'll link to you” mutual back-scratching methods of many webmasters, but I'd love to get more people reading this newsletter, so I'm asking you to help me spread the word in whatever way you can. Forward this issue to a sick friend. Mention one of the articles in your livejournal or weblog. Drop my name on a discussion board. Mention The Goreletter in your weekly sacrificial ritual to Cthulhu. Whatever. One of the kindest things you can do, of course, is to add a link to on your home page. I'd really appreciate it. You can even easily include eye-popping graphics, buttons, banners, etc., by copying and pasting some of the code provided on this page:

As you probably know, I offer a free link to all e-mail subscribers who want one on my site at About 120 subscribers are currently listed there – which is actually a small percentage of my subscriber base. I'd really love to add your site, too. Just e-mail me. And scratch away.


(They Burn) Just Like Ants

Chances are good that because you're reading this newsletter, you were the creepy sort of kid – excuse me, I meant “curious” sort – who enjoyed crisping leaves, frying insects, and even burning tattoos onto your kid brother's forehead with a magnifying glass on a sunshining day. If that description brings back fond memories, then you're going to LOVE this month's strange gizmo. It's called “Ant City” and the premise is simple: you're a giant with a magnifying glass that let's you fry all those little human beings (and dogs, and cars, and so on) down below.

If you like this diversion, then go to for even more weirdness (I recommend the bizarre “Just Not Cricket” )


+ Last issue's homage to mermaids generated a lot of comments, ranging from “Where the hell do you come up with these things?” to “Stepping on the Little Mermaid? How could you!?” Marge Simon (and a few others) wrote to remind me that “mer” meant “ocean.” Marcia Borell called my attention to an old Magritte painting entitled “Collective Invention” [] which invokes the fish head on the legs concept I refered to. Of course, Marge Simon also once had poem about this very painting in Strange Horizons magazine [] so I think there's a conspiracy. Jennifer LaConte also reminded me of her 55-word story, “Chick of the Sea” – which I'd read in her excellent Master's Thesis months ago – also featuring a leggy fish. I swear I didn't steal the idea, Jen. Magritte did. Thanks, everyone, for your feedback.

+ Instigation Volumes III & IV have been posted to The Sickolodeon in a combined edition. You get 120 More Twisted Prompts for Sicko Writers for just 60 measly cents – and that's virtually two editions for the price of one! Many of these prompts appeared first in my column for Hellnotes newsletter. Visit The Sickolodeon at or investigate other bitpass-enabled media…you'll be surprised what you can get for a quarter. Sickolodeon: Bitpass Media:


It actually pays to scroll this far down.

Get 20% off the most comprehensive guide to Stephen King's fiction ever published. Over 5300 pages covering every work of fiction, even those that have not been published. King himself describes it as '…a wonderful resource.' For more information visit and click on the link to 'The Complete Guide to the Works of Stephen King'. When ordering enter the code GORE20 in the same box as your name. Offer lasts for only two weeks!

Get all in-stock regular limited edition hardcovers (regularly priced from $40-$50) for $30.00 each and get free shipping. Save $10.00 to $20.00 off every book! Paypal to: and place your order within the special instructions note accompanying payment. Also mention THE GORELETTER discount. This deal is also good for checks or money orders. Customer must include order with check or money order payable to Delirium Books. Again, mention THE GORELETTER discount. E-mail publisher Shane Staley at with any questions. Offer good only one time.

Get all available back issues of Flesh & Blood magazine for 30% off and any of the F&B book titles for 35% off. Free shipping and handling on all purchases. Please send payment made out to Jack Fisher with a note mentioning the “Goreletter discount” to: Jack Fisher, 121 Joseph St., Bayville, NJ 08721

Because you subscribe to The Goreletter, you can get a one year's subscription to the e-mail version of Hellnotes – the Insider's Guide to the Horror Industry – for just $18. That's FIVE BUCKS OFF the regular rate! Use the code GORELETS in your order. You can subscribe via Paypal (payable to; otherwise, check their home page for more information. If you like the “Instigation” prompts, now's your chance to get them every week at a discount!

Fairwood Press is offering an exclusive discount to Goreletter subscribers. You can get a $1.50 off the standard edition of my Bram Stoker Award-finalist chapbook, Gorelets: Unpleasant Poems – or $3 off Gorelets with the purchase of any other title! To get the discount, browse around Fairwood's website and when you have your picks, PayPal your payment to publisher Patrick Swenson at and include the codeword “GoreWood” in your order. Note that Fairwood Press' online shopping cart will NOT work for this discount and that it doesn't count for the Lettered Edition of the book.

+ ASMODAY (FOR WRITERS ONLY) Get 10% of the writer's submission tracking software, WriteAgain! Just tell Asmoday that you heard about it from The Goreletter when you register to get your discount.


All material in The Goreletter is © 2004 Michael A. Arnzen, unless otherwise noted. All rights reserved. Permission is granted to forward the entire contents as a whole, without alterations or excisions. Direct links to articles in the archives or the weblog are permitted and encouraged. For reprint permissions of individual pieces, please contact

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Read The Goreletter online as a draft-in-progress, post comments, and get extras:

Our Editorial Assistant: Don “of the Dead” Kinney

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Forward this issue to your weirdest friend!


Take Your Licking and Keep on Ticking

“Suffering makes you live time in detail, moment after moment. Which is to say that it exists for you: over the others, the ones who don't suffer, time flows, so that they don't live in time, in fact they never have.” – Emile M. Cioran (died 1995)

* Due to the temporary nature of internet URLs, some websites mentioned in back issues of the Goreletter may no longer be live, or may also point to unscrupulous web servers. I will denote these with overstrikes as I discover them, but if you encounter a dead, changed or unscrupulous link, please feel free to inform me.
* “Boo Coupons” are expired in all but the current issue.
* If you are seeking a particular book by Arnzen mentioned in The Goreletter, try
* Arnzen's blog is now located at Visit it for breaking news and extras not appearing in The Goreletter.

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goreletter/proverbs_for_monsters.txt · Last modified: 2013/11/29 11:42 by marnzen

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