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."

Monday, February 24, 2014

The Ballad of Fuzzy Britches, World's First Transgender Cat

This is a story about my editor, who we'll call Mrs. X (although it's really Cassie Cox, and you should definitely contact her if you need to have any editing done, since she has the coveted Kozeniewski Imprimatur™.)  So, Mrs. X (really Cassie) owns (or, to use the "clever" cat person term, "is owned by," ha ha ha that never gets old) a cat named Fuzzy Britches.

A brief aside about this name. Mrs. X initially purported that the animal in question's name was Fuzzy Breeches. Now, I took this as a particularly clever triple- or possibly quadruple-pun combining the "fussy britches" quote from The Shawshank Redemption, the cat's long hair, and a healthy love of the Second Amendment. However, this was later amended to "Fuzzy Britches" which lowers the pun count to only two, or three, depending on how you look at it. That being said, moving forward we will never bring this contentious name issue into play again and will simply refer to the animal as "Fuzzy."

So, when Fuzzy was purchased (or rescued, or whatever - "obtained" I guess would be a better word but that sounds so damn clinical although I suppose not as clinical as "purchased" which almost makes the cat sound like a prositute...but I digress) it was determined to be a male. I'm not sure how this determination was made, but if it was anything like the way my newest cat, Nibbler, was gender-identified, it probably consisted of a YMCA lady holding the cat up, checking its nether regions and saying, "Yep, it's the gender you prefer if you'll take it off our hands for us" and then us accepting this judgment based on her obvious credentials of being the lady at the fair with the cats. Anyway, I'm sure a similarly thorough procedure was went through for Fuzzy's gender identification, and then "he" was saddled with that name which we swore we wouldn't mention again, which, fortunately, is fairly gender neutral and appropriate for a longhair.

Did I mention Fuzzy was a a longhaired cat? That's kind of important for this next part. So Mrs. X brought Fuzzy into the veterinarian's office for a checkup and someone at the vet's office, presumably with levels of experience commensurate to "YMCA fair lady" checked and determined that Fuzzy was, in fact, a girl, and not just a girl, but an unneutered girl. Naturally, this threw Mrs. X for a loop but, luckily, as I mentioned above, Fuzzy had a gender neutral name, and, so, being a good pet owner, she signed her newly minted female cat up for a good and thorough spaying. Or possibly neutering. I never really learned the difference.

So, a few weeks later, having finally come to grips with the true gender identity of her cat, Mrs. X took poor, long-suffering Fuzzy into the vet's office for her pre-scheduled surgery. And, naturally, as you may have guessed by this point, it turned out that not only was Fuzzy not a girl, but she was, in fact, already neutered as well. I should probably be thankful for YMCA fair lady, because at least she didn't miss Nibbler's penis hiding in a thicket of long hair.

And thus ends the ballad of Fuzzy Britches, the world's first transgender cat. What new and exciting genders will next week bring? Only time will tell, but stay tuned to this channel and we'll bring you all of the latest developments.

Wednesday, February 19, 2014


Baboon Fart Story: An experiment inspired by Chuck WendigBaboon Fart Story: An experiment inspired by Chuck Wendig by Phronk
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

The best part was when he said, "fart."

View all my reviews

BABOON FART STORY is now available for download again (thank God.) Don't miss out on your opportunity to truly grok and love this all-time American classic.

Thursday, February 6, 2014

Jay, Walking (Get it?)

I've never watched an episode of Jay Leno.  Seriously.  I'm not, like, proud of that, like it gives me some special hipster cred or something.  I just never have.  Once or twice I've tuned in for an interview, say Lea Michele in that leather getup (what can I say, I'm a man.)  But an entire episode?  Nope.

I remember distinctly watching the last episode of Johnny Carson.  It just seemed like the thing to do, even though I had never really watched him before.  And when I was young I watched Letterman pretty religiously.  When I was in college and Friday nights before that I watched Conan pretty religiously, too.  I really haven't enjoyed Conan's latest iterations, and I think that adult swim and a general trend towards absurdist humor in society has really taken the edge off what he does, but there was a time when Conan was legitimately the only person doing what he did on television.

I even watched Tom Snyder once upon a time.  If that's not me dating myself, I don't know what is.

But Jay?  Nope.  Hardly ever.  And, really, it was never any animus towards him he just...wasn't Letterman.  Letterman was clearly better comedically.  I hear that's changed recently, but I don't really watch late night at all anymore.  Well, I do, if Colbert and Stewart count.  I feel like they fall into a different milieu, though, but I guess technically they "count" as late night programming.  They just don't follow the same format or have the same aesthetic as the network shows.

I don't hate the Scottish guy, but I don't like him either and I really only tune in (like with Jay) if it's a great interview.  Also, what's up with the fucking skeleton?  Is it a robot with pre-programmed responses or is it just a puppet?  Who the fuck knows?

I refuse to watch either of the Jimmys.  I think they're buffoons and I don't get why people watch them.

So, overall, I'm not really going to miss Jay Leno.  I guess he was an institution, but I never really had a personal connection with him.  Like, I can remember times watching Conan and Letterman and I have fond memories of them, and when either of them go off the air I'll probably get wistful.  But, honestly, I'm probably not even going to watch Leno tonight, or notice when he's gone.  Again, this is from no strong animus towards him.  I mean, I'm aware he's a hack, but I don't think he "stole" Conan's slot.  The network asked him to come back, and as a testament perhaps to his greed or maybe his loyalty to the network, he did, but it's not like he masterminded Conan's downfall as it's often portrayed. long, Jay.  I guess I won't really miss you, but no hard feelings.  Really, there was no way you could have competed with Arsenio's meteoric return, anyway.

Tuesday, February 4, 2014

Why I Love Getting Rejection Letters

Yesterday I got my first rejection letter in...well, it's been a while. I'd like to say that's because all my stuff is getting picked up lately (yeah, right) but the truth is it's because I haven't queried anything in months. (Those of you new to my blog, or the publishing world in general, may not know that a query is a request for an agent or publisher to consider your work. If they like your query, they may request your full manuscript or part of it to review.)

So this rejection I received was just an outstanding one from....oh, what the heck, I'll go check my querying spreadsheet to get you an exact date. Hang on. Okay, I sent the query October 7, 2013. So, I waited about 4 months for the response. This is a little longish for a rejection of an initial query, but by no means the longest I've ever waited. Industry standard, I think, is 4-8 weeks, but typically you'll hear back in 30 days. I've had rejections within minutes and I've also waited...oh, what the heck, I'll go check on the exact stats for this for you as well. (Why keep stats if you're never going to share them with anybody, right?)

Okay, the longest I've ever waited for a rejection on an initial query was 8 months, 12 days and the longest I've ever waited for a rejection on a requested manuscript is a staggering 1 year, 9 months, and 6 days. (Needless to say, I probably would have thought twice about working with those folks even if it had been a "yes.") But you know something? I wouldn't trade a single one of those rejections for all the tea in China. (Well, maybe ALL the tea...)

I suppose you think I'm about to say something uplifting, like about how we have to learn from our mistakes to improve or some bullshit. But if you thought that, then this is probably the first time you've ever read anything I've written, so welcome, and I hope you'll peruse some of my books which you can find on the right hand side of the page. But no, sarcasm aside, the reason I like getting rejections isn't any New Age lovey-dovey bullshit. It's simply because I hate the alternative. No, not acceptance. Acceptance is fine. But I get accepted in .0017% of queries (yes, that's a real statistic, too.) The realistic alternative to a rejection letter is:


Exhausting, heartbreaking, soul-rending silence. Right now all the writers in the audience are bobbing their heads but the ordinary folks (we just call you "normies," by the way) are probably going, "What?" Well, you see, dear reader, there is an invidious policy that certain publishing industry professionals have taken on which, while sometimes caveated in different ways, boils down to "no reply is a 'no' reply." I even keep a column on my query tracking spreadsheet marked "no=no" to track whether the people I'm querying have this policy.

Some agents and publishers are good enough to give you a date when no=no. "If 30 days have elapsed and you haven't heard from me, then your book was probably not right for my list." Something like that. Others give no such timeframe, thus leaving that spark of possibility forever burning in you that someday, perhaps a year, nine months, and six days from now, you'll hear back from that dream agent all the way up in New York City, where, according to folklore, the world's worst salsa is made. (New York City?!?)

I try to make it a habit not to complain about industry practices, or, particularly, individual agents and publishers. That's a big no-no. We're all colleagues now, you know, even though I'm a big fat impostor who doesn't deserve to be published and oh my God any day now everyone's going to figure that out. Nevertheless: colleagues. So I would rather couch this in positive terms. I don't like the "no reply is a 'no' reply" response when I get it (read: nothing) so I actually appreciate when a publishing professional takes the time out of his or her day to send me a rejection letter.

I love getting rejection letters. They help me track all those stats I was so proud of up at the top of the post. They help me know how long an agent or publisher was considering my work. And, perhaps most importantly, they give me a sense of closure. "Sent query Day X, received rejection, Day Y." Simple as that.

So, yes, perversely, I love being rejected. Just not by the ladies. Luckily THAT issue has never come up before...
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