Manuscripts Burn


"Manuscripts don't burn"
- Mikhail Bulgakov

Hi, I'm horror and science fiction author Steve Kozeniewski (pronounced: "causin' ooze key.") Welcome to my blog! You can also find me on Facebook, Twitter, Goodreads, and Amazon. You can e-mail me here, join my mailing list here, or request an e-autograph here. Free on this site you can listen to me recite one of my own short works, "The Thing Under the Bed."

Tuesday, July 30, 2013


***One of my favorite unpublished manuscripts remains to this day MAVERICK, LCSW.  And one of my all-time favorite parts of MAVERICK, LCSW is a little piece I like to call DIRTY SOCIAL WORKING.  I like to think of this as the GRAND INQUISITOR to MAVERICK LCSW's THE BROTHERS KARAMAZOV.  So, for everyone's benefit, but especially newcomers to the blog, please enjoy...DIRTY SOCIAL WORKING.***

CLOSEUP FADES TO wavy transition



We met in the summer of 1963.  My future wife was vacationing at a summer camp in the Catskills.

wide shot


Wait, did you say 1963?


Oh, I meant 1987.


1987, are you sure?


Whatever year is appropriate for the current year, based on my apparent age.

Angie rolls her eyes.  Maverick goes back to string off into the distance.

closeup fades to wavy transition



Anyway, as I was saying.  We met in the summer of 1963.  My future wife was vacationing at a summer camp in the Catskills.

ext.resort in the catskills - flashback

The soundtrack and clothing indicate to the audience that this is a "Dirty Dancing" spoof.  LISA, Maverick's wife, enters the camp with her family, chewing on a stick of bubblegum.  Young Maverick, dressed in a black leotard, is hanging out by the pool, stretching his calves.



I was one of the social services instructors at the resort that year.



Whatever year that was?



Right, whatever year that was.

Lisa walks up to Young Maverick and blows a bubble.  Young Maverick puts his hands on his hips.

young maverick

Hey, baby.  You want to go over in that corner and make out?

INT.ANGIE'S APARTMENT - present day - continuous

Maverick is gesturing at Angie like, "Huh?  Huh?  Get it?"


What?  I don't get what you're doing?


Go to the corner?  Get it?  With a girl I just called baby?

Angie shrugs and shakes her head.


Well, I thought it was clever.


You seem to think lots of things are clever.


Maverick and Lisa are making out behind the pool shed.  Suddenly she stops and pushes him away.


Wait a minute, handsome stranger.  Who are you?


I'm Maverick, MSW.  I teach social services and a little bit of leathercraft here at the resort.  But that's not all I plan to ever do.

Young Maverick gestures expansively out at the wide world.


I'm going places, baby.


Why do you keep calling me that?


Someday I'm going to be a big cog in the social work empire.  Someday I'll be king of the social workers, and everybody will listen to what I say: presidents, popes, everybody.  And razor-thin funding won't ever be a problem again.


Oh, you and your dreams, Maverick, MSW!  Could you teach me to social work?

Young Maverick takes her arm and moves her into an elegant en pointe ballet position.  He runs his fingers along the underside of her arm and armpit.


I can do better than that.  I can teach you to...dirty social work.

EXT.RESORT IN THE CATSKILLS - various locations

An appropriate song plays on the soundtrack for a dirty social working MONTAGE.

Lisa carries a watermelon in her arms like it's a baby.  Young Maverick jumps in the way and takes her watermelon baby and gives it to another crying vacationer.

They dance in the woods across a log bridge with a bunch of tri-folders in their hands.  On the other side of the log bridge they put the folders into a filing cabinet sitting in the mud.

Lisa sits at a pottery wheel.  Young Maverick comes up behind her and sensually helps her make a clay vase.

Lisa carries the vase she just made in her arms like it's a baby.  Young Maverick jumps in the way and takes her vase baby and gives it to another crying vacationer.


INT.the big social work cotillion - flashback

LISA'S FATHER stands up.

lisa's FATHER

I forbid you to do any more of this...this...dirty social work!


Angie is on the edge of her seat.


What happened after that?


Well, her father forbade her.  What would we do, defy his wishes?


So you just didn't do anything?


Well, another one of my students won the Big Social Work Cotillion that year, so I guess it all worked out in the end.


Well, what happened after that magical, nostalgia-inspiring summer?


Well, her father went on to star in Law and Order for a number of years.


No, I meant with you two.


Oh, I don't know.  We got married or something.

Monday, July 29, 2013

The 2013 Hundie Challenge #62: The Sun, the Moon, and Maybe the Trains

Ooh, this was a fun book.  It's too bad I'm ethically prohibited from reviewing this books, because I have some nice things to say about that one.  But, since that is the case, let's go ahead and proceed with coming up with a tagline.


Hey, that was pretty good!  I was going to throw a BACK TO THE FUTURE III reference in there, but I wasn't sure I could make it fit.

This book is supposed to be YA, but I never felt like I was reading a kid's book.  It felt very mature to me, although I guess that might be me exposing my bias of assuming kids aren't mature.  But anyway, I fell deeply, deeply in love with the characters, which is really saying something because I usually care fuck-all about characters and am only interested in a crack-a-lacking plot.

Basically, THE SUN, THE MOON, AND MAYBE THE TRAINS by Rodney Jones is a time travel story but a most UNUSUAL time travel story.  John, a kid from 1875 (well, I guess not really a kid by the standards of that time) accidentally stumbles into a portal and find himself in 2009.  It's a culture clash of the type you know I probably love due to my ongoing unrequited love affair with LIFE ON MARS (which, not incidentally, I'm watching the unaired U.S. Los Angeles pilot of right now...yeah, that's right, everyone's totally stoked on me.)  But back to the book.  John is cool but when he meets Tess, a girl from 2009, that's when the book really takes off.  These two are just electric right from the get-go (see, that's a funny joke because electricity is only really meaningful in 2009...get it?  Get it?)

For the back cover blurb, click here.

Or to read an excerpt check this out.

And, finally, to go the whole hog and buy the book and support one of our great RAP authors, click here.

Monday, July 22, 2013

The 2013 Hundie Challenge #59: First to Find

Our first entry (but not our last...dun dun dunnnnnn) in the series from the inimitable Morgan C. Talbot is FIRST TO FIND.  I said "series" in that last sentence meaning the 2013 Hundie Challenge and/or the Red Adept enclave of the same, but of course I should also point out that FTF is the first book in the Caching Out series...which was also what I was ham-fistedly implying. 

Ok, fun stuff first then we'll get down to business.

FIRST TO FIND is like NCIS if it was staffed by Inspector Clouseau.

Well...that wasn't such a great tag, but it was pretty funny.  I was actually going to drop VERONICA MARS, except I already used that one, and then I was thinking of GOONIES, except I'm pretty sure I used that one, too.

Aaaaaaanyhoo...I sort of vaguely had a notion of what geocaching was before I read this book because I had a friend who was "in to" that whole "scene" back when I was in "college."  I gather that the geocaching community or "GCC" has kind of advanceed since then.  No, don't bother asking me when "then" was.  I've spent way too long already this weekend trying to dodge questions about my "age."

So FTF is about a couple of "geocachers" who get drawn into a "net" of murder and "intrigue."  The one character, Margarita (which, awesome) is a jiujitsu expert or something so she's constantly kicking ass, but she's kind of a hare-brain so it's not always the right ass.  The other, breakout character, Bindi is an Australian fashion designer (no, I'm not kidding) with a "nose" (ha!) for trouble.  Yeah, that joke will make more sense when you've read the book. 

So, anyway, for the back cover blurb which will have far fewer digressions and much less of the "lingo" I've been "pimping in your face" go here.

And to "catch" a "whack cut-out jobbie" click here.

Or to "snap that sucker up" click here.

Ooh, and a bonus "wiggity wham wham wozzle" this week: an audio interview with Morgan C. Talbot herself!

Monday, July 15, 2013

The 2013 Hundie Challenge #56: Lay Death at her Door

All right, without any further preamble, let's take a crack at making a tag for LAY DEATH AT HER DOOR by Elizabeth Buhmann.

LAY DEATH AT HER DOOR is like CRY THE BELOVED COUNTRY meets that 2002 Katie Holmes vehicle ABANDON.

Yeah, you really didn't think I'd be able to do this one, did you?  I read.  And, uh, watch movies.  So there.

You know, everyone told me this book was twisted.  And I was like, "I've met Elizabeth Buhmann.  She's a nice lady.  There's no way it could be all that twisted."

I was wrong.  "Death" fucking wrong.

I thought I had figured this book out about halfway through.  I said to myself, "Oh, well, there's only one possible outcome to this."  Well, I was right after a fashion.  But I was only about 10% right.  This is one of those mysteries that blows your brains out, like THE SIXTH SENSE. 

Oh, so, there was a reference to Sam Spade about halfway through this book, and it occurred to me what the author was trying to do.  If I could sum up this book in a sentence (anyway, a better one than the one I already tried), it's like an old noir novel, except from the perspective of the femme fatale instead of the PI.  Pretty cool, no?

For the back cover blurb click here.

For an excerpt click here.

And to go ahead and knock this one out of the park with a buy, click here.

Thursday, July 11, 2013

My First Published Work - ANOTHER 100 HORRORS

If you don't follow my author Facebook page you may not be aware that I was finally published this year.  2013 is going to be a big year for me, with BRAINEATER JONES coming from Red Adept Publishing in October (not to mention a few other things that may be in the works), but as an appetizer, check out my drabble (100 word short story) CLOCKWORK OFFAL found in the collection ANOTHER 100 HORRORS.  All the drabbles are great (though I have a soft spot for my own) and I've already had a friend who's not a big reader advise me that he can really get onboard with drabbles.  The whole collection shouldn't take you more than a night to read, and I'd be happy to autograph a copy for anyone that buys one, free of charge.  (Take that, Stephen King!)

Tuesday, July 9, 2013

The Top Ten Zombie Movies of All Time

At the behest of certain interested parties, I have been entreated to compile a list of the top ten greatest zombie movies of all time. No mean feat. Nevertheless, I have taken a crack at it, and as with all top ten lists, the goal here is really more to generate discussion than to make definitive statements. Here are the criteria I used in order of importance:

a) importance to the genre
b) quality as a film
c) personal taste

Please note: I do not consider anything to be a zombie which is not literally a reanimated corpse. There is no need to advise me that I “forgot” Sam Raimi or Danny Boyle. I’m familiar with their work. People possessed by demons or infected by viruses while still living simply don’t count for these purposes.

1. DAWN OF THE DEAD (1978) - I can already predict that this is going to be my most controversial choice. However, this is the one occasion where the quality of the film outweighed its contribution to the genre. DAWN established the capacity for glorious setpieces, laugh-out-loud humor (blood pressure test, anyone?) and potent, still jarring political commentary that resonates to this day. If watching the ghouls gonk out on the ice rink at the end doesn’t make you slap your forehead and say, “Jesus, what kind of a world do we live in?” I don’t know what’s wrong with you.

2. NIGHT OF THE LIVING DEAD - The original, still the scariest (Karen Cooper, Jesus Christ!), but just not quite as good watching as the sequel. Obviously, without this one, there would be no modern zombie genre. Its importance categorically cannot be overstated, but due to some creaky acting and the satire being a little less cutting than DAWN’s, it takes the #2 spot.

3. RETURN OF THE LIVING DEAD - Probably the first major departure from the traditional, slow-moving, shoot-them-in-the-head Romero zombies, ROTLD gifted the world with the Russo zombie. Russo’s zombies can talk, are indestructible, and, perhaps most notably, crave “braaaaains.” On a personal note, this is my all-time favorite zombie movie, eminently watchable and rewatchable, ridiculously laugh-out-loud funny, and with an almost impossibly good soundtrack. “Send…more…cops!”

4. DAWN OF THE DEAD (2004) - The first ten minutes of this movie is perhaps the greatest ten minutes in cinematic history. Sad to say, that glorious tour-de-force could not continue for the next ninety, otherwise this might take the top spot. However, considering this was a remake of a sequel, it had a surprisingly big impact on the genre. Eschewing the usual political satire, unfortunately (except perhaps for the scene with the stillborn baby) it instead focused on establishing “fast” zombies as a real and credible threat. Some people credit 28 DAYS LATER with that development, but the two were contemporaries, and, obviously, this is a list of zombie movies, not a list of “ooh, booga-booga, we got infected by monkey Rage virus and are still alive” movies.

5. ZOMBI II aka ZOMBIE - Picture a zombie poster in your head. Are you surprised at the one that popped in there almost instantly, with the worm crawling out of its nose? This ubiquitous image is probably the most lasting contribution of Lucio Fulci’s seminal work, but in terms of altering the landscape of Italian horror, its cannot be overlooked. This film could be ninety minutes of Andy Rooney picking his nose and just that thirty second scene where the splinter pierces Paola Menard’s eye and I would still watch it. Also, answers the age-old question of who would win in a fight: the zombie or the shark.

6. SHAUN OF THE DEAD - SHAUN probably doesn’t deserve to be this high on the list on its own merits, but for kicking off the zombie renaissance of the last decade, it can hardly be overlooked. Most non-gorehounds, in fact, will cite this as the one zombie movie they’ve seen. Possibly the funniest movie on this list and probably the best acted - check that, DEFINITELY the best acted. I always appreciate a genre spoof that also works in the lexicon of the genre it’s spoofing. (You hear that, makers of MEET THE SPARTANS who keep churning this crap out every year? Go watch SHAUN OF THE DEAD, and respect the god-damned source material!)

7. DAY OF THE DEAD - Rounding out the Holy Trilogy, I really hate to give DAY OF THE DEAD such short shrift, since it gets such short shrift from everybody else, but I really can’t justify ranking it higher. Even Romero was upset with the changes he had to make (go read the original script if you want to see what the genre’s crowning masterpiece could’ve looked like.) However, for the introduction of Bub alone this film deserves the #6 slot. Never before had a zombie been a sympathetic character, thus paving the way for Big Daddy in LAND OF THE DEAD, COLIN, FIDO, R in WARM BODIES…come to think of it, pretty much every zombie character since then. Also, Rhodes’s comeuppance? Guess you’re not running this monkey farm anymore, eh, Frankenstein?

8. BRAINDEAD aka DEAD ALIVE - Some people claim that THE LORD OF THE RINGS is Peter Jackson’s best film. Those people haven’t seen DEAD ALIVE. The goriest movie of all time™ still stands up with the best and the bloodiest of them after 20 years. “I kick ass…FOR THE LORD!”

9. RE-ANIMATOR - “Herbert West.” Just try to say it without using Jeffrey Combs’s creepy-ass inflection. RE-ANIMATOR definitely takes the top slot in the “mad scientist who makes zombies” sub-genre. There is no other character quite as composed, charming, brilliant, and batshit crazy as “Wesssssssst!” For a different look at the havoc that just a few zombies can cause, as opposed to the deluge we usually end up with, RE-ANIMATOR definitely takes the cake. (Hint: decapitated blowjob.) And, yes, there’s a deluge at the end.

10. DELLAMORTE DELLAMORE aka CEMETERY MAN - Didn’t think this movie was going to make it on here, did you? Well, fuck you. If nothing else CEMETERY MAN proves that zombie cinema can be high art. A haunting, disturbing film that nevertheless doesn’t give any short shrift to the sheer zombie awesomeness, CEMETERY MAN is perhaps the most unique film on this list and definitely deserving to be ranked amongst the top of the canon.

Honorable mentions:

JUAN OF THE DEAD - notable if for no other reason than for being the first Cuban film released internationally, it shows the universality of the zombie metaphor in a glorious satire of the Castro regime that makes me wonder how many of the filmmakers got shot afterwards

FIDO - since NOTLD was made in 1968, we had no idea how the people of the 1950s would’ve reacted to a zombie invasion…until Fido came out. Clever, though slight, it adds little to the genre and so gets knocked out of the top ten. Also notable for introducing the zombie control collar.

RESIDENT EVIL - easily overlooked in the wake of its execrable sequels (yes, I’ve watched every last one and will keep doing so) the original RE film was a bit of a gem, and helped bridge the long gap between the late ‘80s/early 90’s unofficial moratorium (ha!) on the genre and the latter day zombie renaissance. Similar to the DAWN OF THE DEAD remake, if the opening ten minutes doesn’t blow you away, you’re a little bit dead inside.

ZOMBIELAND - one of the tightest film-as-a-films on this list, clever, watchable, with a fun gimmick and great characters. But ultimately it just doesn’t add a whole lot to the genre, except popular exposure.

Monday, July 8, 2013

The 2013 Hundie Challenge #53: Upload

Rounding sixth base (I don't know how baseball works) in our metaphorical Red Adept mini-series comes a techno-thriller by the one, the only, the man, the myth, the legend ...Collin Tobin!

Let's just get this tagline business out of the way. Sometimes I really enjoy doing this and other times I really bash my head against the wall and remember how painful it is even to come up with taglines for your own book. But here goes:

UPLOAD is like SNEAKERS (didn't think I'd be able to bust that one out did you?) meets GOONIES.

All right, I'll admit, I'm not very proud of that one but I couldn't really come up with anything for the second one. It's a techno-thriller, and those all always seem to be about some guy trying to take over the world while plucky heroes or possibly Angelina Jolie try to stop him. What did you want the second one to be? CONSPIRACY THEORY? EAGLE EYE? Yeah, I'm not even going to dignify your hypothetical suggestions with a response.

Aaaaaanyhoot, this book is kind of disturbing. I think I mentioned last week while talking about ARTIFICIAL ABSOLUTES that you always felt like one or two wrong turns with the Congress or maybe Apple and we'd be living in that world. Of course, AA is science fiction and takes place centuries in the future in a distant, far-off planet. UPLOAD happens right here on earth, right this very minute, and it feels like it's goddamned well happening right now.

Collin is an actual tech guy (actually, there are a couple of things I could tell you that you could blame him for, but I won't) and so I assume the mortifying, gut-icening shit that happens in UPLOAD is 100% possible with present-day technology (and, oh yeah, by the way, legal what with the Patriot Act and all.) I feel like I'm kind of talking around the issue, but I don't want to ruin any of the surprises for you. Suffice it to say that in their own ways, the hero of the story is just as creepy as the villain. In the one case, he was deliberately abusing technology to hurt people, and in the other case he was so naïve that he didn't understand how technology might hurt people. In any case, together, they present two sides to a very frightening coin, and throw right in our faces the very real possibility that privacy is a fast diminishing commodity, if not already a relic of the past.

Anyway, to check out the back cover blurb where I'm sure they're much less circuitous than I was in my description of the book, click here.

Or for an excerpt click here.

And to go ahead and support Collin's muscle car/Nabokov book habit, go ahead and buy the book at any of these fine retailers.

Oh, and bonus this week! An interview with Collin Tobin.

Monday, July 1, 2013

The 2013 Hundie Challenge #50: Artificial Absolutes

Halfway home!  That puts us right on schedule (as far as you know) to reach 100 books this year.  I've crunched the page counts and assuming I keep up a schedule of 100 pages a day, I'm about ten days behind where I need to be.  But that also doesn't take into account that a lot of books have introductions and prefaces and a lot of junk I'm still hopeful that this little experiment is all going to go off without a hitch.

SPEAKING OF EXPERIMENTS (nice segue, eh?) today we're going to be talking about a Red Adept classic where the grand experiment (see what I did there?) of artificial intelligence runs amok: ARTIFICIAL ABSOLUTES by Mary Fan.  So, now, without further ado, let's do this thing:


Hey, that was pretty good!  Somebody should pay me to do these tagline things.

Aaaaaanyway, AA is kind of a big deal, at least in the circles I run in* because it's sorta kinda been shoehorned in to the up-and-coming category of NA.  If you don't know what that means, or if you said "Not Applicable?  What the fuck is Not Applicable category?" then congratulations, you don't run in the circles I run in**.  If, however, you ruefully shook your head and said, "Ah, yes, this much vaunted New Adult I've been hearing so much about," then, congratulations, you're probably some kind of industry*** insider.

If, at this point in the blogpost, you're saying, "What the fuck, Steve?  You haven't said a word about the book you're purporting to spotlight" then you would be correct and not alone.  ARTIFICIAL ABSOLUTES is a rick-rollicking sci-fi space adventure which deals with the heady issues of identity, humanity, and the role of automation in our society and the loss of privacy that can ensue.  It's actually pretty satirical, and some of the things that happen to the characters will make you slap your head and say, "Wow, we're about a week's technological development or one bad congressional vote away from that happening here."

But, as I alluded to above, it's also NA, the sticky, squishy, hard-to-pin down category that's just a little past coming-of-age but not quite as far as old-man-looks-back-on-his-life-with-regret.  (That's not a thing; I just couldn't think of anything other than "coming-of-age.")  Jane Colt, the heroine, is in her early twenties and is trying to come to terms with who she is in terms of family, society, work, dating, and even and maybe most especially religion.  (SPOILER ALERT****)

Anyway, definitely check it out.  Oh, and I'm also proud to inform you all that I apparently knew something the author didn't: she named Dr. Kron after Kronos, King of the Titans.  You're welcome, society.

Here's the blurb.

Aaaaand an excerpt.

And buy your very own copy at any of these fine retailers.

*E.T. cosplay conventions
***furry costume dry-cleaning industry
****the answer is robosexual
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