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.
I’ve signed up over at NaPoWriMo.net, committing to try to write and post a new poem every day throughout April for “National Poetry Writing Month”. My plan is to mix things up regularly: to post twitter poems, full-length gorelets, some audio recordings, videos, word art, and more Fridge of the Damned magnet poetry pieces. Return to this calendar page for all this, which I’m posting off the main blog to avoid clutter and confusion; things will also be tagged as #napowrimo on twitter or The Nest if you want to search for them. I invite you to join me, too, on the Instigation Showcase (see below)!
Key: Blue = Text | Black = Multimedia
Related NaPoWriMo activities I’m indulging in…
+ I’ve joined the gang over at the 5-2 Crime Poetry Weekly for 30 Days of the 5-2. My particular post is going up on April 4th. Update: Scott Emerson posted a kind review of my own poetry on the 5-2 as part of this event too.)
+ I will fit some poetry reading in between the bouts of writing. And if time permits, review it.
+ I’ll post #Instigation prompts to twitter (echoed on the Instigation Showcase) more frequently throughout the month…see below for more details.
+ A new issue of The Goreletter will appear this month. Certainly it will contain a poetry-related contest with some goodies for prizes, so subscribe!
+ DO YOU WRITE? I will continue to celebrate the recent release of my ebook, Instigation: Creative Prompts on the Dark Side by posting #Instigation prompts on twitter… these (along with more) are automatically fed into the new Instigation Showcase page, so if you’re a poet/writer looking for dark inspiration, you’ve found the right place! You also can get a meaty sampler from the book of prompts over at scribd.com/Arnzen
ALERT, 4/5: in celebration of #NaPoWriMo Raw Dog Screaming Press is now offering the Fridge of the Damned poetry magnets at a discount for this month (buy yours here for just $10). Remember that I will post photos of all shared #TFOTD work in the amazing fridge fan gallery! Write a fridge magnet poem for Nat’l Poetry Month.
Instigation: Creative Prompts on the Dark Side is a treasury of twisted tips, strange scenarios and disturbing sparks to help ignite the fuel in your creative furnace. Its aim? To push you into the danger zone of your imagination, by thinking in unconventional ways and trying things you never thought — or dared — to try before in your writing, art, or dreams.
See the catalog page for more information.
DIRECT PURCHASE FROM MASTICATION for $3.99:
NOTE: This book is currently only available in .mobi, .epub, and .pdf formats, which are readable in most ebook devices and computers. It will soon also be available directly from more ebook distributors like amazon and Barnes and Noble. A print edition is not currently available (though you can get a large sampler in the hardcover only edition of The Gorelets Omnibus published by Raw Dog Screaming Press).
For the month of January, Raw Dog Screaming Press, Microhorror.com and Gorelets.com are joining forces to campaign on Kickstarter to make The Fridge of the Damned: a twisted poetry word tile set (based on something that old fans of this site will be familiar with) that will make any sticky metal surface even stickier!
We need your help. Kick in a few bucks and if our dreams become a reality, you can use these demented fridge magnets however you please… in fact, with a little creative play, they might “instigate” you to come up with poetry, stories, art or even novels all your own!
But even better: by funding the project at ANY level (even just a buck!), you’ll automatically reserve a free copy of Instigation: Creative Prompts on the Dark Side! This new ebook is NOT just a scraping together of all the “twisted prompts for sicko writers” you already find here at gorelets… it includes the entire collection from the infamous weekly column that ran in Hellnotes newsletter from many years ago, dozens and dozens of strange prompts from Michael Arnzen’s horror writing classes at Seton Hill University, and a battery of original material only available in this ebook: from new prompts “too hot for gorelets,” to activities intended specifically for writers in the muddlesome middle of their novels, to articles about writer’s block, advice for staying focused, and more. And all of it, intended to navigate you into the dark side, where the interesting stuff awaits. If you’re a writer, you’ll definitely want this.
The book is being published this March by my own imprint, Mastication Publications. Sign up for the Mastication newsletter, and you’ll get ANOTHER free ebook — “Meat Shots” — a collection of short shorts of terror — with design by our kickstarter campaign director Nate Rosen, in .pdf format.
It’s raining free books! Soak them up and get inspired to death.
Begin with a Woman…
+ Begin with a woman…defiantly shaking a phantom (or prosthetic) arm at the heavens.
+ Begin with a woman…requesting plastic surgery to make her something LESS (beautiful, endowed, perfect, etc).
+ Begin with a woman…who reads more than she should into her ‘time of the month.’
+ Begin with a woman…discovering something alive in the meat drawer.
+ Begin with a woman…in love with a man BECAUSE he survived her murder attempt.
+ Begin with a woman…applying mascara to a corpse.
+ Begin with a woman…alienated by the newborn creature in her arms.
+ Begin with a woman…baking a dangerous cake.
+ Begin with a woman…and end with a man.
Review the entire “Instigation” department for more prompts. You can share your writing here on The Goreletter by clicking on the ‘comment’ link.
Instigation fans… stay tuned for the return of The Fridge of the Damned! And even more exciting news for writers in the year ahead. Don’t miss out! Subscribe to The Goreletter today.
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.
— Michael Arnzen (@MikeArnzen) October 31, 2012
I enjoyed the Zombie Haiku tweet marathon on Halloween last year (which later was printed in The Gorelets Omnibus) so much that I am doing it again — but it will be a little more somber and diverse this time with short free verse pieces about disease, deformity, body horror and medical freakitude, all inspired by my recent trip to the Mutter Museum of the College of Physicians of Philadelphia (and based on photographs in former curator Gretchen Worden’s phenomenal book by the same title). These poems will be live tweeted throughout the day with the hashtag #MUTTERVERSE on twitter.
Here’s a quick roundup of recently shared Halloween tricks and treats for you, all waiting in the bottom of your goodie bag:
- If you’re not following me on Twitter, you can track the #MUTTERVERSE in the archive here on gorelets.com, called The Nest.
- You can download “scatterscream” — the latest entry in my annual free exclusive Halloween Desktop Background art series, posted to my flickr gallery.
- Drop by the Halloween Poetry Readings at the Science Fiction Poetry Association website, where you can hear a live recording of my poem, Attack of the Bleu Man Group (here’s the original studio recording with musical enhancement, ala Audiovile, if you prefer that). The poem appears in The Gorelets Omnibus (which the SFPA recently gave an excellent review).
- I’ll also be featured as part of a marathon Halloween session on Inveterate Media Junkies related to the Hazard Yet Forward charity anthology. Look for it as part of Jason Jack Miller‘s SOUND CHECK column.
- I’m also bound to do a giveaway of some kind during the day via @MikeArnzen on twitter. So do pop by — you might luckily stumble on a prize opportunity!
If you live in the Pittsburgh/Greensburg area, don’t forget that I’ll be doing a horror poetry reading alongside Stephanie Wytovich at DV8 Espresso Gallery and Cafe in Downtown Greensburg, 7pm, on Nov 10th. We’re calling it “Halloween Resurrection.” Come on by; it’s free and freaky. (More about DV8 on Facebook).
I love my day job, teaching terror. This class in “Horror and Suspense Writing” meets the requirements for our new undergraduate “Certificate in Genre Writing” at Seton Hill University. [Got a BA and looking to write a novel? Then check out our MFA in Writing Popular Fiction!]
Recognize the image? That’s “The Dark Librarian” from my flickr gallery.
The following is an excerpt from the front page of my Fiction Writing syllabus at SHU, which I posted to scribd and soundcloud as part of the course. I was surprised to find out tonight that it was highlighted as a “Featured Document” by scribd.com! Neat.
Here’s the audio version, recorded for the students in the class to respond to.
Teaching does take time away from my writing, but it’s just as rewarding to me, and it’s fun to share in the students’ creative spirits. Our class is going to be doing a lot of experiments with social networks, ipad apps, and more. Readers who have an interest in fiction writing might want to follow my academic twitter feed, where I’ll likely share the results.
This image from Futurama (found on the wonderful TvTropes.com) cracks me up, but it also encapsulates every horror writer’s dilemma: escaping the conventions and the dominant trappings of the genre.
This is one of the reasons why I continue to publish the Instigation series of “dark prompts for sicko writers,” even if my tongue is sometimes in my cheek. But here’s a few for you now, inspired by this comic:
+ Imagine what lies beyond the side of the frame. What is chasing the creatures? Or where are the characters being chased to?
+ Take a page from King: Write about a writer haunted by his own creations.
+ Take any character from the Stephen King universe…and make it worse. Go where King wouldn’t go.
+ List as many iconic characters from your genre as you can come up with. Now mash them together and dream up a fresh reason for their outrage — the reason for their assembly.
+ Treat an everyday object as a magic wand.
+ Discover a collection of ears.
+ Play a horrifying game of pinata.
Review the entire “Instigation” department for more prompts. You can share your writing here on The Goreletter by clicking on the ‘comment’ link.
At the fun “Raw Dog Screaming Press Book Party” at the Morgantown Poets group in West Virginia last month, I opened my reading by sharing a piece I’d written for Locus Magazine, a poem about why I write poetry, which I contributed to their running Roundtable series on speculative poetry. Here’s my recitation of “On the Irrelevance of Genre Poetry,” recorded during the reading. I don’t often write things like this — an opinion essay told in the form of a poem — but the audience really seemed to laugh and also get charged up by the poem.
Press the play button below to listen, or the link below it to download the file for your own devices.
Open Locus Magazine’s page in a new window if you’d like to read along. Please also consider leaving a comment on their site or below.
Locus Magazine is a long-running trade magazine for publishers, writers and dedicated fans in the genre, featuring reviews and coverage of trends in science-fiction, fantasy and horror publishing. While you’re there, read the other great articles on the Roundtable by Marge Simon, Robert Frazier, David Kopaska-Merkel, Denise Dumars, F.J. Bergmann and plenty of other great practicing sf/f/h poets on the Locus Roundtable Blog.
If you’re a genre poet, be sure to check out the Science Fiction Poetry Association and join the community. I’ve been a member since something like 1988, and their annual Rhysling Award anthology and journal (Star*Line) alone are worth the dues. Plus they do lots of fun things, like post audio readings of horror poetry every Halloween — check it out.