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, September 29, 2014

Book Review - FIRST by Chanda Stafford

When I was young(er) I used to look at pictures of, say, Mick Jagger sharing a beer with Paul McCartney, or learn that Keith Moon was godfather to Ringo Starr's son and be flabbergasted.  In my mind, these guys were in competition with each other.  Competition for the charts, competitions for sales, competition for awards and accolades.  How could they hang out together?  It was like finding out Churchill used to babysit Hitler's children or something.

Now that I'm a little bit older and little bit wiser (okay, okay, a lot older and not wiser at all) I finally figured out what I was missing.  I had assumed that artists who were contemporaries had to be rivals.  Now that I'm an author (of sorts) I realize that contemporaries actually form a tribe.  We're united by our knowledge of the industry (or lack thereof), our love of our shared craft, and our favorite artists.  Mick and Paul and Ringo and Keith were all trying to make it at the same time and they all loved Muddy Waters, right?

Anyway, I'm pleased this week to introduce you to three members of my tribe, which is something I don't get to focus on very much.  Chanda Stafford, Collin Tobin, Laura Kolar, and I all share a publisher in Red Adept.  I've read and enjoyed their books and the reason I haven't left starred reviews in the past isn't because we're all trying to gut each other on a race to the top of the charts.  It's because it's generally a conflict of interest for me to do so.  But this week, in my capacity as an industry blogger (boy, don't that sound fancy) rather than as an author, I've joined RAP's Young at Heart tour.  Fittingly, our first spotlight is on FIRST by Chanda Stafford.


Long-time readers of the blog may recall that I first (ha!) read FIRST last year as part of the 2013 Hundie Challenge.  Since then the book has actually gotten a total facelift.  I still have the original or "classic" cover on my copy of FIRST, but the rest of you will have to make do with this pretty new thing.

So what the heck does the title mean?  Well, Firsts are the (theoretically) wisest and smartest of all people, certainly they're the oldest, technically speaking.  Technology allows the mind of a First to be downloaded into a new body, essentially erasing the "Second."  This process can be repeated multiple times, presumably forever, so that Firsts become effectively immortal as long as they have a pool of Seconds to draw from.  But who would volunteer to give up their bodies in such a grotesque manner, you might ask?

In the future, the United States is rocked by a second civil war, which the victors primarily blame on "Texans."  I gather that the rebels were not exclusively from Texas, but the term is used as kind of a non-PC catchall, for instance the way today we might say "The Arab World" even though that area is full of Persians, Copts, Kurds, and countless other minorities.  Anyway, the "Texans" of the future form a slave class, and the only real hope for a Texan to be anything other than a slave is to be chosen as a Second.

The reality of a Second's duty is hidden from the Texans.  They only understand it to be a great honor.  And so, with this set-up, Chanda Stafford opens up a whole world of heady philosophical questions.  Are some people inherently better than others?  If so, isn't it a small sacrifice to give up a lesser person for a better one?  Are there ethical limitations to the pursuit of medicine?  Just because we can live forever, should we?  Is there still dignity in death?

You'd think from the way I've described it so far that FIRST was a densely plotted political treatise of interest only to intellectuals and politicians, but quite the opposite is true.  This is a Young Adult novel, with teenage characters dealing with the world and raging against the unfairness of it all just as I did when I was a teen (although perhaps main character Mira has more legitimacy for her angst than I did.)  It is much to Chanda's credit, I think, that she managed to slip such dense, thinky themes into such a fast-paced, crowd-pleasing story.

Whether you're shopping for a teen or YA is your guilty pleasure, you should definitely pick up a copy of FIRST.

Read an excerpt

About FIRST:

Seventeen-year-old Mira works on a farm in the ruins of Texas, along with all of the other descendants of the defeated rebels. Though she’s given her heart to Tanner, their lives are not their own.

When Socrates, a powerful First, chooses Mira as his Second, she is thrust into the bewildering world of the rich and influential. Will, a servant assigned to assist her, whispers of rebellion, love, and of a darker fate than she’s ever imagined.

With time running out, Mira must decide whether to run to the boy she left behind, to the boy who wants her to live, or to the man who wants her dead.

About Chanda Stafford:

Chanda Stafford teaches middle and high school English. She loves traveling and currently lives in Michigan with her husband and a menagerie of rescued dogs and cats.

When she’s not reading or writing, Chanda enjoys old zombie movies, authentic Italian food, and comic books.

Friday, September 26, 2014

The Human Experience (Interview with Claire Ashby, Author of WHEN YOU MAKE IT HOME)

Welcome, welcome my friends!  Today we have a very special guest on the blog, one of my favorite people in the whole world and one that fans of the blog will already be familiar with: Claire Ashby!


Claire is here today to promote her debut novel, WHEN YOU MAKE IT HOME, a heartbreaking work of staggering genius.  She has agreed to come on the blog today and submit to the usual gibberish questions that I ask my guests, so instead I FLIPPED THE SCRIPT and asked her ordinary ones.  Take that, expectations!

Now let's meet the author, and then dive right into the interview.  Oh, and make sure to stick around for the giveaway at the end!

About Claire Ashby:

Claire Ashby was born and raised in the heart of Atlanta. At a young age, she began keeping journals and over time embellished the details of her quiet days. Eventually, she let go of reality altogether and delved completely into the world of fiction.

When she’s not reading or writing, she spends her time watching extreme survival shows and taking long walks after nightfall. She has an unnatural love of high places, but still regrets the time she skydived solo. She believes some things are better left to the imagination. She resides in Austin with her family and a pack of wild dogs.

You can follow her on Facebook, Twitter, or her website.


SK: Welcome, welcome, Claire!  Thanks for stopping by.  Let's dive right in.  Your male lead, Theo, is a GWOT veteran. Was it difficult for you to put yourself into a military mindset? What kind of research did you do?

CA:  Incredibly difficult. I’ve never served in war. I started reading military blogs and I discovered all these raw, brilliant accounts of day-to-day life. Military blogs share the human experience, in a way I didn’t find in the media. They’re first person accounts of war in real time: you’re not here, but this is what’s really happening. 

I also talked to a lot of people, read books, watched movies. One of the books that left the biggest impression on me was, WAR, by Sebastian Junger. Sebastian Junger also made the deeply moving documentary, RESTREPO, with Tim Hetherington, about a 15-month tour spent with a platoon in Afghanistan. 

SK: Theo lost his leg during the war and I thought you handled such a sensitive subject particularly well. Did you run into any difficulties portraying a Wounded Warrior?

CA:  Well, it’s heartbreaking. Since 2001, almost 2,000 Americans have had battle-injuries that lead to amputation. But again, we’re talking about warriors here, and I read story after story of veterans fighting to recover. Fighting to get their lives back on track. 

SK: Romance is kind of horrifying to me, yet WHEN YOU MAKE IT HOME was one of the best books I've ever read. How did you make your novel so appealing to male readers?

CA:  Wow—thank you! I didn’t aim to make my story appealing to male readers, I just told Meg and Theo’s story the best I could. 

SK: I understand you're very active in the (shudder) romance author’s community. Can you tell us a little bit about what groups you belong to and what events you've done?

CA:  I’m a member of the Romance Writers of America. If you write romance or woman’s fiction, RWA is the place to be. They offer the best workshops, monthly meetings, writing contests, critique groups, and an annual conference that will blow you away. 

SK: Well, thanks for being with us today, Claire! Everyone on the staff here is wishing you the best of luck with your debut.


Meg Michaels, a bookstore owner, has already walked away from two cheating exes. She’s learned her lesson and has her mind set on success—until she gets knocked up. Embarrassed and unwilling to discuss her situation with friends and family, she wears layers to hide the pregnancy.

When Meg gets sick at a party, she’s mortified. Even worse, Theo Taylor, the guest of honor, discovers her secret. Theo, an Army medic wounded in the war, agrees not to reveal her condition, and the two forge a bond of friendship that blossoms into love.

Theo is soon filling all of Meg’s late-night cravings—and not just the pregnancy-induced ones. But can their love overcome all the obstacles that stand between them and creating a happy family?

The novel is available exclusively on Amazon, and is free for KindleUnlimited subscribers!  Make sure to pick up a copy and tell your friends about it on Goodreads.

Read an Excerpt

a Rafflecopter giveaway

Wednesday, September 24, 2014

More Trifecta Winners!

Some of you may recall a few weeks ago I highlighted a few of my favorite reviewers after they completed the Kozeniewski Trifecta (reviewing BRAINEATER JONES, THE GHOUL ARCHIPELAGO, and BILLY AND THE CLONEASAURUS.)  This is a rare and illustrious fraternity, and I'm happy to announce today that we have a few more exemplars of good taste joining it.

Shawn Remfrey

Meet Shawn!  This is the person that most of you authors, publishers and whatnot keep in contact with!  I am the owner and head reviewer of Literary Litter.  I also do reviews for Minding Spot.  I've been an avid reader since the age of five and a reviewer for several years.  What keeps me busiest, though, is helping authors through the beginning phase of their books.

You can find Shawn on Twitter, her website Literary Litter, and the LL Facebook page.

And here are the links to Shawn's completed trifecta: BRAINEATER JONES, THE GHOUL ARCHIPELAGO, and BILLY AND THE CLONEASAURUS.

Nikki Howard

I have an incurable book addiction and I'm not ashamed to admit it. I will buy a book based on its cover alone. I love promoting authors. I am... the Ultimate Reader.

You can find Nikki on Twitter, her website Horror After Dark, and the HAD Facebook page.

And here are the links to Nikki's completed trifecta: BRAINEATER JONES, THE GHOUL ARCHIPELAGO, and BILLY AND THE CLONEASAURUS.

Mary Fan

Mary Fan lives in New Jersey, where she is currently working in financial marketing. She has also resided in North Carolina, Hong Kong, and Beijing, China. She has been an avid reader for as long as she can remember and especially enjoys the infinite possibilities and out-of-this-world experiences of science fiction and fantasy.

Mary has a B.A. in Music, specializing in composition, from Princeton University and enjoys writing songs as much as writing stories. She also enjoys kickboxing, opera singing, and exploring new things--she'll try almost anything once.

You can find her on Twitter, Facebook, Tumblr, her blog, or her website.

And here are the links to her completed trifecta: BRAINEATER JONES, THE GHOUL ARCHIPELAGO, and BILLY AND THE CLONEASAURUS.

Monday, September 22, 2014

Release Announcement: AT HELL'S GATES

Hey, everybody, I'm very happy to announce the release of the AT HELL'S GATES charity anthology, featuring my short story EXPLODING SHIT ZOMBIES, set in the GHOUL ARCHIPELAGO universe.  It's now available for purchase as an ebook on Amazon and Smashwords.  (Paperback coming soon!)

All proceeds from this anthology go to the Intrepid Fallen Heroes Fund, a charity dedicated to supporting Wounded Warriors suffering from PTSD and TBI.  I just picked up my copy to help support this worthy cause, and I hope you will as well.

Just a quick reminder: every book's success depends on word-of-mouth.  If you'd be so kind as to share or tweet this new release on social media, or even just tell your friends about it in person, I'd be very grateful.

Thanks so much to all my friends, family, and fans for making this release and my entire writing career possible!

Wednesday, September 17, 2014


Well, my friends, it's that time.  If you've been following me on FB or even casually on the blog here you've probably heard me mention the Ottawa International Animation Festival a few times.  Zee Risek, owner of Flying Iguana Animation Inc., is going to be pitching the BRAINEATER JONES animated series for the next few days.  In fact, for all I know, he may be pitching it right this second.

Okay.  Well.  The fun news for you guys is I've seen the final pitch packet.  And it's a whopper.  I've already posted some of the preliminary sketches here and some of the finished work here.  Here are the last few pieces of art that you've never seen before.  If you still haven't and you've never heard me make this plea before, please consider leaving a review for BJ here so that Zee will have an easier time selling a well-reviewed product.  Godspeed, Zee!  And thanks for all your support, everybody!

This splash page originally contained Zee's contact info, but I'm guessing he doesn't want me splashing his cell phone all over the internet.  Or maybe he does?  Doesn't matter.  We're all about to blow up anyway and then we won't be able to beat off the Paparazzi with sticks.
Kumaree Tong, the femme fatale.  I like how she's smoking.  In the book she smokes (SPOILER ALERT!) Chesterfields.  You can also see on her arm where the makeup is sort of rubbing away.

Lazar (aka Russ, aka Forday, aka aka aka etc.) the ultimate huckster.  Come on, don't you just trust that what he's selling you is legit?  Just look at how earnest he seems!

Monday, September 15, 2014

Getting Published is What Happens when You're Supposed to Be Doing Other Things (An Interview with H.E. Goodhue, author of TIDAL GRAVE)

Welcome, blogodiles!  It's rare that I actually get starstruck by a guest who comes on the blog.  Most of you are scum and you know it.  (Sorry!  Sorry!  Kidding!  Kidding!)

Nevertheless, today's guest is a horror author I've admired for a while, ever since the mortifying cover to his third novel first blazed itself indelibly into the backs of my retinas.  (Don't worry, we'll talk about that in the interview.)

I'm talking, of course, about the inimitable and amazing H.E. Goodhue, author of the brand-spanking new TIDAL GRAVE!  Let's get to know the man first, and then jump right into the interview.

About H.E. Goodhue:

H.E. Goodhue is an author and educator. Goodhue's series, ZOMBIE YOUTH (Severed Press) has been called “unrelenting”, “thrilling and exciting” by both fellow authors and literary critics. Goodhue is also the author of PINK SLIME, LOVE BUG, TIDAL GRAVE, and the the soon to be released, DRY ROT. H.E. Goodhue currently resides in New Jersey with his wife, daughter and two hardheaded pit bulls.

You can find out more about him on AmazonFacebook, and Twitter.


SK:  Hi, H.E.!  Thanks for being with us today.

HEG: Hey Stephen! I'm happy to be here, but being that I basically broke in, I guess I should just be happy that you don't have a guard dog or baseball bat.

SK: Ha ha, if only you knew how I felt about both dogs and baseball.  Let's get started.  If you could eat anyone's brains, living or dead, whose brains would you eat?

HEG: Man, that's a tough question. I can only eat one? I'm not a glutton or anything like that. Hell, I'm actually a vegetarian - I know that you (Mr. IH8Veggies) and I will have to agree to disagree on this one. But anyway, what's the point of being undead if I have to have self control? Although you didn't specify that I was a zombie, which brings this question to an entirely new and uncomfortable level. Do you have a hole in your basement floor and a basket with lotion in it?

I guess, the straightforward answer seems like it should be someone like Einstein or Lincoln, but that's too easy. Keith Richards would be an interesting one, though I'm not sure what's knocking around in there. But in truth, since I've become a father and my daughter discovered Caillou, I'd want to eat the brain of the person who created that awful show. Hopefully, I'd eat their brain before they had time to release that evil little monster into the world. Granted, I might need a time machine to pull that off. Is it okay that I base my answer upon the availability of a time machine?

SK: [actually laughing] I can't believe someone actually read my IH8Veggies article!  That's awesome!  Yes, time machines are naturally fine.  But as for the "alleged" lotion hole, I plead the 5th.  Moving did you get hooked up with our mutual publisher, the legendary Severed Press?

HEG: Honestly, I was supposed to be doing other things. I was sitting in a graduate class, which was awful, and was editing ZOMBIE YOUTH: PLAYGROUND POLITICS instead of listening to the recycled drivel that was wafting back to me from the front of the room. Randomly, I wondered if a publisher would be interested in ZY, so I started submitting it to them online - again, not doing what I was supposed to do. I ended up with three publishers interested in it, but Severed stood out. They appreciated the genre, put out quality books and didn't ask their authors to sign deals in blood. Severed Press had a solid reputation and I was happy to sign on with them. 

SK: Let me just get this out of the way: your cover for PINK SLIME is the. Grossest. Cover. I have ever seen. I'm sure there's a story behind both its conception and creation.

HEG: THANK YOU! I love that cover! As I said before, I'm a vegetarian, but that's not really where PINK SLIME came from. I'm not really into preaching to people or thinking that my way is the right way. But anyway, I had been hard at work on the ZOMBIE YOUTH series and got to a point in one of the books where I was offing characters left and right. I realized that I was a little burnt and needed a palate cleanser. 

Don't get me wrong, I love writing and reading about zombies, but I wanted to write about a monster than didn't get much love, something that wasn't corrupted to make it more palatable. I'm tired of monsters becoming shiny or too human. They serve a purpose and it gets lost when they sparkle, which is why I always liked the blob. It's a pure monster. There is no way to make the blob sexy, at least no way outside of Japanese comic books. I strung this thought together with aliens, cheeseburgers and that gross pink crap they cut ground beef with and decided to try and write a story using that as a prompt. 

PINK SLIME oozed out of that brain break and granted I'm biased, but I think it's a solid story. It's definitely horror, but it's got some funny parts and a guy named Squirrel, so what's not to love? Severed Press was crazy enough to pick it up. When it came time to design the cover everyone kind of shrugged. So I said how about a pile of cheeseburgers oozing slime? I didn't really think it would happen, but a day later Severed sent me three beautifully sticky options for the cover. 

The "winner."

SK: (E-mail me the other two.  I'm not kidding.  I have to know what the rejects looked like...)  I understand you're from New Jersey. First of all: my condolences. Second of all: where do you do the shore thing? Wildwood? Cape May?

HEG: Hey now, don't start insulting the great Garbage State! That stupid show was full of morons, that for the most part, weren't even from my state. I grew up pretty close to the beach. Fortunately they were smaller beaches that didn't have pretty names like Wildwood or Cape May. I learned to surf at a beach called 'The Pit', which was a pretty accurate name. It really was a pit of rocks that you had to climb down to get to a small strip of sand and ocean. Some days you'd find more beer balls than shells, but it was still a great place. Sadly, some soulless developer bought the land and built condos. All the good places go toe up eventually, but I still love the good ole' Armpit of America. I honestly don't think I could manage living in another state. Jersey has great folklore, crazy people and good music - I'd miss it too much to ever leave.

SK: Nah, trust me, I have enough personal experience with New Jersey (shudder) not to base my preconceptions on The Sopranos.  Next question: Was school a LORD OF THE FLIES-style ordeal for you? I'm just looking at your ZOMBIE YOUTH series here and extrapolating...

HEG: That's not an uncommon assumption for people to make when they look at the ZY series, but in truth, school really wasn't that bad for me. Everyone thinks I was Piggy, which probably should make me feel bad, but whatever. I'm not exorcising educational demons in ZOMBIE YOUTH. Sure, I suffered the usual embarrassments and rites of passage - in 6th grade I tripped an entire line of people during the Electric Slide at my first school dance. I still hate that song, but not school per se. 

ZOMBIE YOUTH is set in a school for a couple of reasons. First, a fellow teacher and I were talking about what would happen if zombies ever got loose in a school. I kept arguing that the students would do much better than the adults because they were more resilient and hadn't committed to one way of thinking. And second, schools are where young people prepare to run the world, but lately it seems like their abilities are being seriously underestimated and undermined. 

When it came time to pick a title for the book my wife suggested ZOMBIE YOUTH because of an article she had just read. It used the term to devalue young people and rambled on about how they were unprepared and the world was swirling the bowl. I seriously disagreed and wanted to use the term against them. 

I ran with these ideas and created a world where the students literally would have to run everything and have no guidance. It felt right that a school would be their base of operations.

SK: Well, thanks for being with us today, H.E. Any parting shots for your fans?

HEG: Thank you! I appreciate you allowing me to wander over and stay for a bit. Everyone says it, but I truly do appreciate each and every person who takes the time to read something that I have written. Through writing I have met some very cool people (both readers and writers) and I whole-heartedly appreciate their feedback and support. Please feel free to find me on Facebook or Twitter.

I've got a few things in the works with Severed Press right now - a new zombie series and quite possibly some more sea monster mayhem. My latest book, TIDAL GRAVE, just came out and people seem to be enjoying it, so I'd say it might be worth a read. 

Thanks again for having me! Like Severed Press, you're one of the few who are doing things right. Too often authors find themselves jealous of rank, sales or deals, but as far as I'm concerned we're all in this together and should celebrate success because it draws more attention and respect to the horror genre. 


Every summer the residents of Sunset Island are besieged by an ungodly plague - tourists. Ray Weller, known to most as The Captain, pilots the ferry that brings the very thing he hates to the shores of his beloved island. Ray loathes the tourists, detests his job and nickname, but will soon discover that Sunset Island is threatened by something far worse than tourists.

Something lies beneath Sunset Island. Something ancient and long forgotten. Something man should never have woken from its slumber.

As a hurricane cuts Sunset Island off from the mainland, residents and tourists alike, are trapped as the sea reclaims the island. Sharks, fleeing what has risen, swarm the flooded streets. The creature, starving from its long hibernation, swims towards Sunset.

Now Ray must find a way to save the island he loves and maybe even a few of the people he hates.

Purchase it now on Amazon US and Amazon UK.

Friday, September 12, 2014


A commonly recurring question in interviews is "Who would you like to play various characters if your novel is ever made into a movie."  I've taken a crack at this once or twice before for BRAINEATER JONES, but to be honest, fantasy casting is something that I'm not very good at.  I gather that some authors actually start with an actor in mind, then model the book character after him or her, so fantasy casting is actually the first thing they do.  I'm kind of oblivious.

I was very lucky recently to have romance author and friend of the blog Claire Ashby send me her fantasy cast for THE GHOUL ARCHIPELAGO.  (Make sure to check out her debut WHEN YOU MAKE IT HOME.  This is a seriously great book, and the only thing I've ever read that dealt fairly with the subject of Wounded Warriors.)  I just want to say right off the bat, I'm very impressed with Claire's choices.  It's a hell of a lot better than anything I would've come up with.  So let's take a look at what Claire said, and I'll make a few comments along the way.

Henk "Howling Mad" Martigan
(Mark Ruffalo)

Yup.  I can definitely see Ruffalo in this role, especially in this non-copyrighted picture.  I gathered all these pictures on Wikimedia commons, so while they're all legal for use in my blog here, they don't all necessarily capture the character of the actors.  Still, in this photo, I can see Ruffalo as a devil-may-care smuggler with an unwanted beard.

"Tuan" Jim
(Charlie Day)

Charlie Day is not, to my knowledge, Filipino, and I might prefer to have an actual Filipino actor play Jim.  But in terms of general squireliness-cum-caginess, Charlie Day would fit the bill.  He's definitely got a Jim vibe, especially in what I've seen of him in It's Always Sunny in Philadelphia.

Rand Bergeron
(Michael Cera)

Yup.  Rand is not-so-secretly based on our very own Mark Zuckerberg, and I would have to pick either  Cera or Jesse Eisenberg to play him.  And Eisenberg is probably all zombied-out after Zombieland.                                   

Reverend Coughlin Sonntag
(Brad Pitt)

At 50, Brad Pitt's a little young for the elderly Sonntag.  That being said, we've seen him play older in Benjamin Button.  And if anyone's got the convincing, charismatic conviction of Sonntag, it's the star of Fight Club.

Dwight "Hannibal Mo"
(Jason Segel)
I had no idea who Jason Segel was until I had to look him up for this fantasy cast.  That being said, this picture says it all.  That IS Mo.

Leona "Butch" Candiru
(Aubrey Plaza)
Another actor I never heard of, but I'm happy with.  I had to check on Wikipedia, but Aubrey Plaza is actually half Puerto Rican, so I could see her playing the Hispanic Butch, and I could definitely see her playing the first half of the movie disguised as a boy.  A pretty boy, but still.


So, what do the rest of you think?  Would you make any changes to this cast?  What about Eve?  Fall?  Zakira?  Papi?  Kurtz?  Chime in in the comments below and let me know!

Wednesday, September 10, 2014

Today Only: THE GHOUL ARCHIPELAGO is on sale for $0.99

THE GHOUL ARCHIPELAGO is on sale for only $0.99 for the next 24 hours! This is my favorite novel and the best I've ever written.  If you haven't, I really hope you'll pick up a copy.  And if you have, I hope you'll share this sale with your friends, both cyber and meat.  (Mmmm...meat...) Here's the purchase link:


Want to know more?  Well, every review of TGA is listed here. And here are what some of the latest reviewers are saying:

"This novel had so much depth and breadth to it that I think the front cover doesn't do it justice. This is no ordinary zombie novel, set in urban America."

"Don’t get too attached though, Kozeniewski also shares George RR Martin’s ability to introduce and kill characters on a whim. No character is safe, and the person you think is the main character, I guarantee it’s not."

"Summing this complex novel up into a few sentences is impossible, but it all comes together at the end and The Ghoul Archipelago delivers an excellent ending which left this reader satisfied.  Don't worry, there is plenty of graphic sex, violence, and gore for those of you who demand lots of horror in your horror novel. In this case, Kozeniewski has also added plenty of heart."

Monday, September 8, 2014

Sex Sells (Interview With Sonnet O'Dell, Author of INTIMATE INVASIONS)

Welcome back, blogsticles!  I'm very excited to have a guest for you on this fine Monday noontide.  And not just any guest, but an author.  And not just any author, but a paranormal romance author.  And not just any PNR author, but a European PNR author.  And not just any European PNR author, but...all right, I'll stop now.  It's Sonnet O'Dell.

Sonnet's been nice enough to answer a few of my insane questions.  So, let's take a minute to get to know her first and then jump right into the interview.

About Sonnet O'Dell:

Sonnet was born at the John Radcliffe in Oxford and spent the first six years of her life living in the town of Abingdon close to both her grandparents and most of the rest of her family.

She moved after that to Cornwall for three years and then to Devon for another three before moving to where she has lived for the last fourteen or so years. Sonnet now lives in Worcester, Worcestershire, famous for Lea & Perrin’s Sauce and as the site for the last battle of the Civil War.

Sonnet has had a passion for the written word from a very young age and enjoys nothing more than to read a good book. The worlds created by words.

You can follow her on TwitterFacebook, her website, her blog, or e-mail her.


SK: Thanks for being with us today, Sonnet! You’re the second British author we’ve had so far as a guest on the blog. Do you get a chance to interact much with your U.S. fans? Anything you’d like to say to them?

SO:  Hi ~waves~ I’d like to interact with them more but they seem so shy :) 

SK: Come on, people, let's show Sonnet a little intercontinental love!  Okay, next question.  What is the meaning or source of your pen name? And why do you use one rather than your real name?

SO: "What’s in a name, that which we call a rose by any other name would smell as sweet." I love Shakespeare. Which is why I chose Sonnet, his lyrical romantic poems, to be my name and O’Dell is an homage to my grandfather who passed before he got a chance to see me in print. My real name's sort of boring.

SK: If you were a hot dog, would you eat yourself?

SO:  LOL. Probably not. I know where I’ve been.

SK: This question comes from my #1 fan, who is a Libra. How does being a Leo influence your writing, if not your life?

SO: Well they say Leos are passionate, which I guess is true to some degree. I really put my all into each and every story I write. To give any less would be sacrilege. In life, reading my horoscope is just a bit of a giggle.

SK: Please help us solve the eternal debate. What is the correct way to pronounce Worcestershire?

SO:  Hmm, let’s see if I can get it right, I’m not a native myself but I think it goes Wuss ter sheer.

SK: I’m not really “hip” to the “jive” but I understand there’s kind of a scale of naughtiness in fiction. It’s something like steamy, spicy, sticky, squeamy, and cuddly. (Or something.) Where does your work fall on the scale?

SO: I think I’ve covered all those bases at one time or another. The old adage is true, sex sells. People are drawn to the taboo of reading something naughty. It's our chance to be a little wild without anyone finding out.

SK: Well, thanks so much for stopping by, Sonnet! Any parting words for us?

SO: Thank you for having me. It was fun :D


When she owns his heart and he owns her body, it will set them both free.

Erik is a Tigarian. His people came to the blue planet five generations before his birth and took over. The native inhabitants are forced to live wild in the forests and Tigarian men hunt them to sell into slavery.

Asia is a wild woman. When Erik meets her, he is injured and abandoned by his comrades. She cares for him and the two begin to fall in love with Erik promising to help her find her siblings and free them. When he is rescued, Asia is captured and Erik must buy her in order to continue their promise. Now Erik must get her and her siblings out of the citadel and to safety before it could be the end of all of them.

You can purchase it at Amazon USAmazon UK, or directly from the publishers website.

Friday, September 5, 2014

The Novelization of the Television Show Wings? (A Guest Post by Melissa MacVicar, author of EVER LOST)

HAWM, bloginettes.  Some of you may recall my victorious triumph over fellow author Melissa MacVicar in the Upset on the Internet (aka the Great 2013 Review Rumble) and her subsequent humbling act of contrition.  And for those of you who don't remember, I just conveniently reminded you.

Never let it be said, however, that I am an ungracious winner.  I was very pleased to invite Melissa back on the blog in honor of the release of her sophomore novel, EVER LOST.  She'll be answering a question that's very near and dear to my heart.  Make sure you stick around until the end, because our mutual publisher, Red Adept Publishing, is hosting a giveaway in honor of the blog tour.  BUT FIRST...let's meet our guest.

About Melissa MacVicar:

Melissa MacVicar has lived most of her life on Nantucket Island. A true native, she's able to trace her ancestry back to the island's first settlers. After attending The Pingree School, she went on to graduate from Franklin and Marshall College with a degree in English. She also received a master's degree from Boston University School of Social Work.  When she turned forty, Melissa decided to renew her adolescent passion for fiction writing. Having once thought writing a novel to be an impossible dream, she's proud to be achieving her childhood ambition.

Melissa currently lives with her husband and two children on Nantucket where she teaches 7th grade Writing Composition.  When she isn't teaching, parenting, and writing, Melissa enjoys eating expensive chocolate, jogging, and watching her beloved Patriots. 

You can find out more about her on her website, Twitter, and Facebook

I understand you're a local Nantucket author. Tell me, when will you be completing your novelization of the classic '90s TV series Wings? And can you tell us a little more about it?

The Novelization of the Television Show Wings?

Alternate title: Stephen Kozeniewski’s Delusions Revealed

Nantucket elicits a variety of responses from people, and I believe I have experienced just about all of them. Most recently, a cashier at a grocery store in Rhode Island, upon hearing we were from Nantucket, said, “Oh, that’s like, part of Martha’s Vineyard, right?”

By way of an answer, I simply nodded and hummed, because really, I don’t feel it is my responsibility to constantly correct the delusions of others. Live and let live, I say, delusions and all. I’m sure I have a few doozies of my own, and I prefer when people just let me hold onto them. Truly, it’s easier that way. Usually, they are harmless in nature. Only when they have to do with weapons of mass destruction do I feel the need to step in. 

So when my online author friend, Stephen Kozeniewski, (SK: you could've just said friend...) just asked me to write a blog post, one of his delusions about Nantucket was revealed—the one about the television show Wings. Yeah, the one where people think that show is real.  (SK: I said Wings was real?)

Because it had been a while since I had seen the show, I fired up my Netflix and stared watching. Seeing the show again was excellent. It has classic sitcom humor and early nineties charm. Like when one of the brothers, Brian, calls a gate at Logan Airport to leave a message for his ex-wife with the attendant. With no cell phones, I guess that’s how it was done. Seems so long ago, doesn’t it?

And after watching several episodes, I realized that the writers of the show actually got many things about Nantucket right. Shocking but true. This person had clearly traveled through Nantucket Memorial Airport and probably consulted several locals as part of his research. He or she might have even spent a few years living here based on their insights. So for Stephen, my friend and sometimes arch enemy, I have listed the top three things that the writers of Wings got right. After all, I want him to be clear about what he’s delusional about and what he’s not.

1. The Fog

Yes, the fog. As I sit here today, finishing up this post, there is pea soup fog out my window. The fog horn, an eerie, repetitive wail from Brant Point Lighthouse, sounds in the distance. Fog is a fact of life here and often closes the airport. In one episode of Wings, a wealthy passenger even tries to pay to have the airport cleared of the fog so he can leave. If only! I think the fog inspires the ever prevalent ghost stories that people like me write. Spooky indeed!

2. Everyone has a history.

Crystal Bernard’s character Helen Chapel works the lunch counter at the airport, just like her father did before her. The Hackett brothers remember her as the overweight girl they went through school with and the good brother, Joe, thinks of her like a sister. Helen was teased and bullied by the brother’s ex-girlfriend/wife, the elusive Carol. The show and the real island is full of stories like this so in this case, the writer is spot on.

3. Despite difference, we are like a family.

Even though they don’t always get along, the characters that populate the fictional airport on Wings are bonded by common circumstance. Locals today on island are very much the same. We will gripe about a person one day and go all out to help them the next, very much like we would for our own family. Our collective isolation makes us stronger. We know we are all better off because of each and every one of us doing our job and taking care of the community.

In closing, I want to thank Stephen for inspiring me to revisit the little gem that is the television show Wings. It reminded me of some of the things I love about Nantucket, and what life was like in the not too distant past before the internet and smartphones began to rule our world. As far as me novelizing the show, it is already too perfect just as it is in all its sitcom glory. I highly recommend indulging in a few episodes if you are ever in a need of a good laugh in a short amount of time. I can assure you it’s better than reading Stephen’s twitter feed. (SK: :'( )

That’s all for now! Check me out at the links below!



New town, new school, new ghost.

Jade has a dedicated boyfriend, an overprotective mom, and a full scholarship. Uprooted from Nantucket, Jade is installed off-island at her dad’s new house so she can attend snobby Layton Academy. Leaving Charlie behind is sheer torment, but living with her father has plenty of dangerous distraction—in the form of a terrifying spirit haunting her new school. Hottie classmate Mateo Fernandez can’t see the ghost, but he knows its story. He’d like to know hers, too, but Jade still misses Charlie, even though distance seems to be changing him.

With support from Mateo and the mysterious Noemie, Jade commits to helping the agonized spirit cross over. As she delves into the ghost’s past, the disturbing secrets Jade learns draw her into a deadly confrontation with a desperate man. If she can’t play his demented game, the spirit’s harrowing fate could become her own.

The novel is available for purchase on Amazon, Barnes & Noble, Kobo, iStore, and Google Play.  It is also listed on Goodreads and the RAP site.

a Rafflecopter giveaway

Wednesday, September 3, 2014

Well, This Turned Out to Be a Great Big Gigantic Waste of Time

***Well, shit, as you all know, happens.  When I'm keeping the blog up-to-date, I usually stick to a M-W-F schedule, posting at noon.  So, if you haven't figured it out yet, allow me to draw back the curtain: I schedule most of my posts ahead of time.  Sometimes weeks, even months ahead of time, especially in the case of guests with time restrictions.
Scheduling posts is kind of a crapshoot.  Sometimes links go dead, as they are wont to over time, or jokes that seemed timely suddenly fall flat.  I've never had THIS happen before, though.  A prediction I wrote in a scheduled blogpost came true.

I predicted Patrick McLaw, who has been touted as a sort of political prisoner in the verrrrry myopic wing of the writing community, would turn out to have much bigger problems than what he said in a self-published book.  I scheduled this post for September 10, and wouldn't you know it, yesterday my "prediction" came true

I'm sort of pissed, because if I had posted this in real time, I would have seemed amazingly prescient.  Instead, I now get to seem like a Johnny-Come-Lately.  But, you know what, I already wrote the damn post, and it's not getting any fresher, so what the hell, I may as well post it now.  There's no way I can prove, of course, that I really wrote this before the news broke, but if I strike you as the sort of person who would lie about something this inane to seem right, then you, sir, don't know that I liked Napoleon Dynamite AND Battlestar Galactica before they were cool.  Trailblazer.***

I once self-published a novel about a school shooting.  You'll probably never find it unless you know me extremely well and personally.  But, yeah, hidden out there in the murk of the interwebz, far worse than any manuscript I at least copped to and burned here on the blog, is my fictionalized account of the blowout from the Columbine Massacre.  If the police look into it, and you believe the hype, I'm about to be arrested.

I suppose that statement would seem inflammatory out of context, but I don't mean it that way. Those of you reading this who are in the publishing community (authors, agents, etc.) probably already know where I'm going with this. For the rest of you, you should probably know that a young schoolteacher named Patrick Law was recently sacked and possibly arrested. He also self-published a novel about a school shooting.

I wish to point out that I did not connect those two facts, either by causation or correlation. But you'll note that when I list those two facts in a row like that, it sure SEEMS like a young schoolteacher got arrested BECAUSE he wrote about a school shooting. I have no idea if that's the case. In fact, I'd venture to say it's probably not.

Based on what little facts I can glean from the news stories - which all appear to be more or less identical - this dude was a 23 year old eighth-grade teacher, has multiple aliases, wrote a science fiction story (set a millennium from now) about a school shooting, was dismissed from his job, was ordered to have an emergency psychiatric evaluation, and is currently in some kind of Kafkaesque alegal limbo.

There are holes here. Big, gaping holes you could drive a Chrysler through. Why was he ordered to have an emergency headshrinking? Why was he dismissed from his job? Was he arrested? If so, what was the charge? If not, what the fuck is the dude's status?

The internet being what it is, and authors being, you know, storytellers, lots of people have jumped to lots of conclusions. I can't blame them, honestly, because this journalism is super shoddy.

1. Conclusion 1: Aliases refers to his pen names

2. Conclusion 2: He was dismissed for some fiction he wrote and no other good reason

3. Conclusion 3: McLaw is now a political prisoner

So, I can definitely see where these ideas are coming from. However, remember what I said about causation and correlation. I feel like we've been presented with a Mad Lib and people have filled it in with their own juicy prejudices. It sorta kinda feels like we live in a police state, what with Ferguson on the one end of the political spectrum and Cliven Bundy on the other, so it doesn't seem that far from possible.

Here's one thing that bugs me. Authors have been jumping all over the seemingly Orwellian usage of "alias" instead of "pen name." And yet (and here, again, I'm no journalist, but...) these articles all mention two aliases. Patrick McLaw, aka Patrick Beale, aka Dr. K.S. Voltaer. So, K.S. Voltaer is a pen name. But my (admittedly cursory) search of Amazon shows no books by anyone named Patrick Beale since 1956, 35 years before he was born.

So who the hell is Patrick Beale? What is Patrick McLaw or K.S. Voltaer doing under this name? And another point: I'm guessing he does not, in fact, have a Ph.D., and yet K.S. Voltaer is supposedly a doctor. Are we looking at a Father Guido Sarducci situation here? Is the "doctor" part just a lark? I know lots of people who use pen names, but I can't think of one that made up credentials. Making up credentials sort of seems like something a crazy person would do.

But all that aside, I think the second conclusion is the one that bugs me the most. People are saying that McLaw got sent in for a medical evaluation because he wrote some twisted shit. And considering the kind of twisted shit I personally write, I have no special desire to belabor this point, but sometimes people write twisted shit BECAUSE they are crazy. I'm saying, we might be putting the cart before the horse here. Why is the assumption that McLaw got sent up the river because he wrote some book about a school shooting?  Why isn't the natural assumption that he acted crazy, got ordered to have an emergency evaluation, and it turns out that one symptom of his issues is a twisted book he wrote three years ago?

Here's a perfectly plausible scenario counter to the current "Maryland is a Soviet-style police state" theorem. Maybe Patrick McLaw did something horrible or acted in a way that a teacher shouldn't. So the school board suspended him, and asked the police to look into his background, and when they did, after an ordinary financial check, they found out he was also an author.  Then the media being what they are, reported all of these disparate facts together (perhaps with an intent to deceive, perhaps not) and now authors particularly are making castles in the sky out of it.  Oh, and, by the way, making a campaign to buy this guy's book.  This guy nobody knows anything about who sometimes pretends to be a doctor and sometimes pretends to be some other guy and got sacked from a union job and cops are looking into.  I'm not saying injustice never happens, but justice also someteimes (on occasion) happens and maybe we should figure out which this is before we make it a cause célèbre.

I don't know.  It could be that we ARE alll living in a Soviet-style police state and authors are getting arrested for what they write.  In which case, can one of you swing by the secret police headquarters and bail me out?  I'm pretty sure I'm going to be next.

Monday, September 1, 2014

Revisiting the Double-Spaced Sentence


To clarify what we're talking about today:




The last time I discussed this subject, I confused some folks who thought I was talking about double-spacing your paragraphs, as in, where there is an extra blank line in between each line of horizontal text, as opposed to the block spacing format this blog post uses.  So, there, right off the bat I hope we're all on the same page (ha!)  We're talking about adding (if you're in one camp) or subtracting (if you're in the other) a space after your final punctuation mark of each sentence.

I never thought I'd have to revisit this subject (I mean, is this really scintillating subject matter for anyone?) but today I came across this rather abusive article.  So, clearly this author is taking a somewhat more nuanced approach to the subject than Farhad "FUCK THE WORLD I AM THE ARBITER OF ALL GOOD TASTE" Manjoo, but still not a kind one to the double-spacer camp.

So the Cult of Pedagogy article suggests that this matter is generational.  Old fogies who grew up on slide rules, Victrolas, and typewriters, who still hilariously try to push the return bar on their computers, are the only ones who still double-space sentences.  And young, hip, presumably urban Twitter-users who grew up on Facebook and don't know who Paul McCartney even WAS, man, are single-spacing their sentences.



So, if you read this article (which, God bless you if you could get through it without throwing your device on the ground) the author even admits that she never heard of this no-double-spacing so-called "rule" until 1999.  Which means that the only people who might potentially have learned NOT to double space in formal writing are 15 or younger.

I supposedly am a Millennial.  The oldest possible Millennial, but still.  I never heard of this supposed rule change until 2012.  Admittedly, I don't have kids in school and I'm not a teacher, so I wouldn't know what's being taught these days.  But even assuming I'm stupendously out-of-touch (which I may be) then this no-double-spacing thing came into vogue at some point between '99 and '12.  And Manjoo even admits in his article that it's still a matter of some contention, though he, of course, considers the debate moot.

I'm not going to relitigate this stupid discussion.  I mean, feel free to in the comments if you want.  I don't believe in prescriptivism in language, so it usually sticks in my craw when someone proclaims there is One True Way to English correctly.

But what it boils down to for me is that, like the Oxford comma, I see no good reason NOT to double space.  It adds clarity and there are occasions when not doing it leads to confusion.  The worst possible outcome of single-space construction (just like leaving off that last serial comma) is that the reader has to re-read something in order to understand it.  But why make your reader do that?

And the only argument for it's hip?  You look like you're over 40 if you don't do it?  Even though everyone over the age of 15 would've been taught that this was correct for formal writing?


After writing this entire blogpost, I drilled down into the comments on the Cult of Pedagogy article and discovered these three articles that essentially explode all of Manjoo's supposedly definitive and unassailable opinion piece.  More food for thought, anyway.
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