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Michael Arnzen's Weird Newsletter
+++Vol. 9.2 | 3.23.2014+++
The Suck of Blood
Blather. Wince. Repeat.
Why it Sucks to be a Vampire in the Second Decade of the 21st Century
+ You can never take a selfie.
+ The Prozac in all the children's blood makes you sluggish.
+ Everyone thinks your accent is affected.
+ It's harder to hypnotize when they keep checking their cell phones.
+ You feel terrible, desecrating the art on so many finely tattooed necks.
+ All your wives wear “Team Edward” t-shirts but you still don't know who this Edward guy is.
+ Have to put the cape back in the closet. Can't get away with “Goth” anymore and you'll have to dress down if you don't want to be called out as a “Creeper.”
+ The kids seem less frightened and subtly disappointed that you're not a zombie when you reveal yourself to them.
+ You thought online dating services would be a natural place to apply your seductive powers – but all the best prey is on Christian Mingle, and you can't even look at their logo.
+ You can only fly as far as your bat wings will take you. Your teeth – and only your teeth – show up in the full body scanners at the airport security checkpoint.
+ Everyone's a foodie, instead of food, anymore. Their blood's too spicy and they all have garlic breath.
+ You're the only real Millennial, but no one in this generation recognizes it.
Random Provocations on the Dark Side
I've long admired the “Oblique Strategies” – an infamous deck of creativity cards invented by musician Brian Eno and artist Peter Schmidt that has a cult following among artists and musicians. It is one part thinking game, one part fortune cookie. They made it as a way to spur them into thinking differently about their current projects, by drawing random lateral thinking triggers from the deck (like “destroy the most important thing” or “give the game away”). But I've always wondered: What would they look like if Eno had been in a Death Metal band instead of Roxy Music? Or if Schmidt were more of an HR Giger?
So, borrowing a page from my book of prompts, Instigation, I rewrote the Oblique Strategies my own way – turning it to the dark side. And I made a web app out of it to “think outside the coffin.” Go to diaboliquestrategies.com and crack open your evil fortune cookie whenever you like. There's over 200 sick little strategies lurking inside and I keep adding more when inspiration strikes.
Please pass news along and share this brand new site with all the strange and creative personalities in your life.
At the recent AWP14 conference, I began distributing some nifty new Instigation postcards which invite people who have no other use for them to send them back to me, nefariously responding to the prompt “Greetings from Hell!” I've already received some hilarious and disturbing responses and my mailman is growing quite concerned. Let's push him over the edge. You can get these cards from me at my upcoming events, in packages I send to people who order books from me directly, or by request through the mail for a small fee – see the examples and read all about it on the Greetings from Hell page at Mastication Publications:
World Horror Convention (http://www.worldhorror2014.org/)
May 8-11, 2014 | Portland, OR
PA LitFest 2014 (http://palitfest.com/)
May 30-June 1, 2014 | Uniontown, PA
Seton Hill University (http://inyourwritemind.setonhill.edu/)
“In Your Write Mind” Booksigning June 27, 2014 | Greensburg, PA
July 25-27, 2014 | Pittsburgh, PA
“When Hell Freezes Over”
the demons are sluggish
in the simmering snow,
but the show must go on
and the torment continues:
slowly the sinners suffer –
stretching on their crusty racks
and spinning on their icy spits –
the burns and boils of the afflicted
exposed to the prickling pain of the cold,
punished by a frost that truly bites.
their damnation remains
hard as ice – over
and under it all.
suffering in the snowfall of the fallen,
they are forever freezing, never free.
Stories based on Bruce Springsteen songs. Sequels to Richard Matheson tales. Musings on gender issues in The Exorcist. A list of the “Top 5 Horror Colleges.” Poems about zombie cats and transvestite superheroes. Ghost stories based on Appalachian urban legends or the artwork of Alan Clark. A dining ritual in Hell. Cthulhu visiting a classroom.
I've written these things. Not only because I'm weird, but because a devilish editor “made me do it.” These stories and more have all appeared in theme anthologies, which collect stories on a common topic. Horror is a genre that is perfect for the short tale – the sudden shocker – and over the years, the genre seems to have published more theme anthologies than most areas of literature…which attests to its versatility: every topic has a dark side.
When I appear in anthology, I consider it “my book” as much as everyone else's from the Table of Contents. To that end, I've finally added a new page on my website devoted entirely to the anthologies in which my stories, poems and articles have appeared. Visitors welcome.
and Other Arnzen News
Drawn to Marvel: Poems Inspired by the Comic Books is now available from Minor Arcana Press. This book is AMAZING, and features poets ranging from Sherman Alexie and Lucille Clifton to Albert Wendland and Bryan Dietrich.
The Gorelets Omnibus is a nominee for the 2012-13 Elgin Award for Best Speculative Poetry Book by the Science Fiction Poetry Association. (Voting SFPA members are eligible for a free review copy – email me – the deadline is May 15th).
My audacious career advice for writers, “The Five Laws of Arnzen,” will appear in Horror 101: The Way Forward coming this Spring from Crystal Lake Publishing. This is an updated version of an essay you might have seen in Instigation: Creative Prompts on the Dark Side.
If you haven't dropped by http://gorelets.com in awhile, take a gander. I've updated the look of the place and you can catch things like my photoreport from AWP 14 conference (http://gorelets.com/blog/ambulations/awp14-seattle/) in Seattle last month.
I'm pleased to quietly announce here that Raw Dog Screaming Press has contracted to release the 20th Anniversary Edition of my first novel, Grave Markings, in trade paperback and ebook this Fall! Stay tuned!
twisted prompts for sicko writers
* Write a stream-of-conscious piece from the deep point of view of a sausage grinder.
* Write from the viewpoint of a poisoning victim drifting into a state of unconsciousness.
* Review a scene from a classic slasher film and depict the state of mind of a panicky victim as they flee and try to evade the hunting killer.
* Compress the entire lifespan of a serial killer – from womb to tomb – into one page or less of prose-poetry.
* Depict the thoughts of an evil-doer as they are buried alive.
* They say your life “flashes before your eyes” as you die. Depict this, but feature a curious pause or other glitch in the stream of time/flashes. (This fascinating study from Popular Science – http://www.popsci.com/science/article/2010-03/how-time-flies – might give you ideas).
* Write a character's dying words, formatted in a clever way, as if they were a poem by ee cummings.
* Expound on a character's thoughts as they race to write something on the floor or wall with their own rapidly draining blood.
If you like writing prompts as wacky as these, Instigation: Creative Prompts on the Dark Side has over 500 more! http://gorelets.com/books/mastication-publications/instigation/
Q: “What do you love most about the horror genre?”
A: The sheer originality of the form, and the legacy of its history. Though it’s often gotten a bad rap from the literati, if you look back over the history of literature you’ll see that the best stories are the horror tales — from Beowulf to A Christmas Carol, The Fall of the House of Usher to Turn of the Screw. We delve into the psyche and the unknown unlike any other genre. I truly believe it is the most creative of the popular genres, too. For one thing, the horror genre is THE genre where the only thing you can expect is the unexpected. And that’s no cheesy slogan, either — the whole point of much of the genre is surprise. For another thing, horror has no limits: you can put a horror lens over anything, or mix it into any other genre, and people will understand that this story is out to get you.
Read Randi Alexander's complete Arnzen interview in the Author's Spotlight at DarkMarkets.com
The HWA (Horror Writers Association) has announced the finalists for this year's Bram Stoker Awards, which will be announced at the banquet at World Horror Convention in May. The shortlist – including titles from Stephen King, Joe Hill, Bruce Boston, Michael Bailey, Marge Simon and a litany of other well-known writers and newcomers – is a great sample of just how vibrant the horror genre remains. The ballot always makes for a good “best of the year” reading list.
I'm proud to appear in the book, Horror Library Vol. 5 which is a finalist in the Anthology category. (I'm told a Kindle edition will be available soon). I also wrote the introduction for Stephanie Wytovich's book, Hysteria (from Raw Dog Screaming Press) – a finalist in the poetry category. Congratulations to these writers, editors, publishers and all the nominees. I'll be at the ceremony at WHC in May, applauding them all.
“Surrealism will usher you into death, which is a secret society. It will glove your hand, burying therein the profound M with which the word Memory begins. Do not forget to make proper arrangements for your last will and testament: speaking personally, I ask that I be taken to the cemetery in a moving van.” – Andre Breton (died 1966)
Find me on your favorite social network via http://michaelarnzen.com
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