I’m presently wrapping up a full semester of teaching Horror Writing to undergrads at Seton Hill University, and we’ve been having a blast doing all sorts of multimedia work — especially work using SoundCloud for audio critiques. Along the way, I’ve been been playing with the site, too, uploading lecture excerpts and strange sound prompts and other weird things. I even recently gave a little presentation about the class experiments for a conference we held on campus called the iTeach gallery.
During the term, I discovered the above excerpt (from my article in the wonderful book for dark authors, WRITER’S WORKSHOP OF HORROR, edited by Michael Knost — who just edited a similar book on Science Fiction and Fantasy coming out next month). The exerpt had been a featured reprint in THE WRITER magazine and therefore available in our college library’s online databases in full text format. The database included an audio player for the visually impaired, so I played it and recorded the robotic voice reading my article so I’d have a copy…then I distorted the file on my computer to give it, well, some kind of aura of the strange. Here’s the result: a mini-lecture by the ghost in the machine, about writing in the horror genre, drawing from my favorite quote by Psycho-author Robert Bloch: “Horror is the removal of masks.”
Arnzen, Michael A. “An Open Book: Writer’s Workshop of Horror” in The Writer (Jan 2010). Excerpt from Knost, Michael, Ed. Writer’s Workshop of Horror. Woodland Press, 2009.
Announcing the Instigation Showcase!
From now on, anyone who publishes a response to a prompt or is inspired to write something specifically in response to Instigation: Creative Prompts on the Dark Side or the Instigation department on this weblog will be listed on the new Showcase page dedicated to helping broaden your audience.
Over the years, I’ve received numerous emails from writers who produced new work based on the prompts in The Goreletter, and I’m happy to have finally figured out a way to showcase your work. Share your links to work (whether on a blog or in a book) that has Instigation as its source, via e-mail or comments on the blog and you’ll be listed. That easy. And remember to check back from time to time to read the work of others… it’s bound to inspire you to pick up your demonic pen.
[NEWSFLASH: TONIGHT (3/15) is Instigation Eve! Help us get ready to launch the book this evening. Folks are sharing links to masticationpublications.com and tweeting their own bizarro prompts using the hashtag #Instigation.
Don’t forget: subscribers to the Mastication Publications newsletter will get a discount code to use when purchasing Instigation directly from this website!
If you’ve been reading my ebooks since the early days (e.g., pre-Kindle), then there’s a good chance you got them through Fictionwise.com — one of the first successful ebook distributors, known for offering a wide array of genre fiction — especially individual short stories — for a very affordable price. You may have already known that they were “bought out” by Barnes and Noble a few years ago, to help support B&N’s offerings for the Nook e-reader.
Yesterday I was informed that I should backup all my own purchases and get ready for the site to close down. They have posted a FAQ page with instructions for both downloading your bookshelf to archive copies and to also automatically transfer your ebooks over to B&N’s site, for your Nook library. I recommend doing both, if you can, as I’ve heard rumors that not all ebooks convert over to the Nook bookstore — and if you don’t have a Nook, you still might want to set up an account anyway, because you CAN read Nook books on some other devices, in aps, and on computers for free. Or in case you ever buy one.
Let me say it again:
Bookshelves on fictionwise.com will be unavailable after December 21, 2012. ACT SOON.
I’ll try to keep the books page on gorelets.com updated to help fans of ebooks find my work. Not all of my titles are in ebook form (and I like that, because I think avid readers SHOULD have special and exclusive — if not collectable — versions of stories). But in the years ahead, you’ll be seeing a growing number of e-titles from me, like the re-release of my second novel, Play Dead in ebook form from Raw Dog Screaming Press in late 2013, and a project I am developing for my own line (Mastication Publications) that takes the “Instigation” section of this website to a new level.
Although the death of fictionwise.com is not a major travesty to literature — since most of the titles are really just moving over to the Nook — I’m a little saddened by this turn of events. I’m a “Kindle person” for the most part, but I liked being able to read fictionwise titles on the Kindle. But thinking more broadly, this is another sign of the volatility of the ebook publishing economy, which constantly seems to shake things up and disorient readers, while struggling to evolve into something stable. The thing I liked most about fictionwise was its short story offerings — you could easily build your own “anthology” (or mixed tape) of fiction, and find good short-shorts by your favorite authors that might have appeared in magazines and anthologies you missed. It allowed writers who had a modicum of success to self-publish, and it offered a distribution for indie publishers to sell their wares outside of the dominant agency model that circulates mass market books. I also wonder if this is a sign of the waning of interest in the short-story form. As people can buy complete novels for a mere .99 cents, it seems hard to suggest they pay that much for a short story. Fictionwise had a micropayment system that seemed to solve that issue, and provided a really good niche market to find new genre fiction outside of the mainstream, but now we’ll likely have fewer options, as the dominant corporations have more control the e-publishing economy.
On a related note, Heidi Ruby Miller recently posted a video of our talk at the Western Maryland Indie Lit Book Festival back in 2011, that reveals some of my thoughts about how e-publishing is changing the way readers find books, and how publishers need to brand their lines as a signpost for navigating the disorienting, uncharted waters of electronic books.
I’ve been a longtime fan of the Dexter series on Showtime, and a new season (#7) is going to begin in about a month. I unfortunately don’t subscribe to Showtime, having caught it through Netflix and Amazon Video on Demand in the past. But last month I picked up the entire run of the whole series (when I spotted it as a blu ray deal of the week on Amazon) and have begun watching it all over again, deliberately, studying this serial killer series for whatever new observations I can make the second time around and to uncover any lessons I can glean.
I’ve begun sharing some snippets of these thoughts on twitter in a series with the hashtag #DexterNotes. If you don’t follow me on twitter, not to worry: these are all handily available in the permanent archive I keep here on gorelets.com, called The Nest; here’s a link to the archived #DexterNotes. I’m also posting links to related Dexterophilia on Delicious. I’m ashamed to admit I’ve only read one of the Dexter books by Jeff Lindsay that inspired the series so far, but I plan to make amends. I’m not just a fan; I think this study may lead to something very interesting and unique in the future.
While “responsive” is a word I usually associate with “Things Doctors Say In Intensive Care Units,” it’s also a word that now applies to this website. “Responsive” means that the site automatically recognizes if you’re reading it with a touchscreen device and it changes to make it more mobile-friendly. [The same is true of the Arnzen Social Network page at http://michaelarnzen.com/ and most of the other main pages linked in my menu.] While I doubt it’s perfect, you can now far more easily read the text and browse pages while on the road, riding in the back of your hearse or whatever. I’ve only tested it on an iphone and ipad, but it seems to work well. In fact, in iOS, you can not only bookmark it, you can choose “Add to Home Screen” and it will place an icon on your main screen that you can click for instance access to these pages, just like clicking on an “app.” Try it out, Apple-heads!
It’s funny to me to reflect on how far things have changed — yet remained virtually the same — over the decade+ that I’ve been running this website. I bet most people don’t realize that “gorelets” is neologism short for “gory applets” (aka “apps”) — which was how the original poetry series was created and delivered using some of the first handheld devices (PDAs). Here’s a funny before-and-after comparison of gorelets now and then, to show the evolution of this website.
This is all very trivial, but you can read more about the history behind the gorelets project in The Gorelets Omnibus. An excerpt, answering the question “What are Gorelets?” is available on the book page for the original chapbook, Gorelets: Unpleasant Poems, where more photos and history is provided.
To all my longtime readers and goreletter subscribers over the past decade who have been there with me since the beginning and are smiling right alongside me…THANK YOU.
Related fiction: “Introducing MyBlade”– a parody of those infamous Steve Jobs-styled ipod/iphone product announcement speeches, published in The Goreletter back in 2007. (And here’s a funny youtube video I found of some kids goofing around with an uncannily similar concept).
I’ve made some good progress on the new bibliography/book catalog for gorelets.com — not complete yet, but most of the titles in print are ready to view. You can get to them through the “Books and Other Creative Works” button at the top of this page. Surprises lurk therein, from audio samples to downloadable excerpts to extended tables of contents and great photos.
I’ve been slowly updating the entire website at gorelets.com this summer. I recently updated my bio page with some funky photos and updates, for instance, and I’ve set up a youtube channel (see the micro-buttons in the top-right of this page) where I hope to add more book trailers in the near future. And then there’s also the “trending tweets” subpage that you can find as part of the newly fashioned twitter archive, The Nest. Please browse around with wanton abandon and feel free to leave some comments all over the house.
I’ve begun a new series of original digital art called “Demons of the Dark” on my flickr gallery. Demons of the Dark will be an imaginary bestiary from the shadows of hell. It kind of scares me. (Even scarier: in the spirit of the original gorelets poetry series, I’m creating these by ‘fingerpainting’ on my iPhone (using the great ArtStudio app)!
Returning visitors to gorelets.com may recall that the site once hosted a gallery of its own (and information about all my books in a bibliography). These elements of the site are being rebuilt from scratch, and are not ready for formal opening yet. But even though it’s under construction, the gorelets gallery page is available for browsing if you don’t mind tripping over the wet dustcloths at this link: http://www.gorelets.com/gallery/. Restoring the bibliography right now, however, is my highest priority, and I hope to have a full catalog of my books up soon, which will likely include a way to order signed editions directly from me, for those who collect such things (e.g., the cool kids).
Comments appreciated if you want to give feedback on what you’d like to see on this site.
I’m still overhauling this website to consolidate things and make them easier for me to manage (so I can spend more time writing). I recently pulled my microblog from the Posterous website (and dumped my pinterest account) and those posts are now happily reintegrated into this blog, which I’m trying to make more active as a genuine blog and less of a page for only sharing Goreletter department drafts. I also started a new department on this blog, called “Ambulations,” to make up for it: it will feature mobile posts, road trip photos, and ideas jotted while on the move, essentially taking over what was formerly found on posterous. The newsletter will continue and I plan to release the next issue in early May, so feel free to subscribe.
I’ve yet to find a new suitable art/photo gallery for gorelets.com, so I decided to post a batch of artwork that was published here in the past to my flickr gallery site, where I’ve been posting digital experiments for two years now anyway. I’m not sure yet where or how I’ll share images of my book covers and other illustrations, but for now, I just wanted folks to know what was happening with the gorelets.com gallery. Go over to http://www.flickr.com/photos/gorelets/ and check out some crazy images I’ve created over the past few years — like that strange “Demonaurus” creature pictured above, which is one of my personal favorites.
I’ve been extremely busy on many fronts, personal and professional — and now that I’m on a brief holiday break, I’m catching up with obligations and promises. I plan to get the next issue of The Goreletter out soon, but for now I thought I’d give everyone a quick round-up of what’s happening in Arnzenland lately:
- Big news: The Gorelets Omnibus is scheduled for a January 2012 release! If you preorder a copy directly from Raw Dog Screaming Press (publisher of my other books, 100 Jolts & Play Dead), you’ll get a free collector’s item! Get the hardcover — it’s got a lot of bonus material and is so worth it.
- I started keeping a journal at the innovative creative non-fiction site, cowbird.com. I’m trying to keep it focused on authentic observations, but with an emphasis on the weird, uncanny, and overlooked as much as I can. Drop by, encourage me, and I’ll keep it up.
- A new overview page that lists all the social networking sites I’m a part of is now up at michaelarnzen.com Please feel free to friend and follow in a frenzy.
- This website was injected with a malicious code last month and I’ve been quite busy rebuilding much it from scratch. It was time to purge and renew anyway, and I like how it’s turning out. But several links — especially to material from my gallery and bibliography pages — are now broken and I’m still recreating a page dedicated to my books and other horror creations. If you’re here shopping or researching horror, please head on over to my profile page on amazon.com for the time being.
- If you’re a writer, don’t overlook the book I c0-edited that was released a few months back: Many Genres, One Craft: Lessons in Writing Popular Fiction. It was listed by The Writer magazine as one of the top ten “terrific writing books of 2011″ and also was a finalist in the USA Best Books Awards. Read the MGOC blog to learn more.
A few folks have asked me: How do I “follow” or “join” your ostentatious-sounding “network”?
Simple answer: If you just want to follow me on the MASN, click on the “Get Updates” link on the left hand side of the main page at michaelarnzen.com. [Or better yet: sign up for a posterous.com account (which is a free web blog you can create via email (!) that also autoposts to various social networks...highly recommended!) and "subscribe" that way to michaelarnzen.com.]
Or if you’re on any of the other social networks (twitter, facebook, etc.) you can “follow” me by finding my profiles, linked at the top of the michaelarnzen.com front page. I would love to follow goreletter readers and see what sorts of things you’re up to.
Of course, The Goreletter is still the best way to keep up with me. Subscription always free.
Social networking is a chaotic mess, so I’ve created a new weblog as a central hub for posting mobile photos, sharing errant items, weird notions, and personal items that don’t quite belong here on The Goreletter. If you want to follow or friend me on your favorite social media site, drop on by:
The Michael Arnzen Social Network: http://michaelarnzen.com
My first plan for it is to post photos and more from the Bram Stoker Award Weekend in New York later this week.