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."

Friday, October 31, 2014

The Raven (Performed by Steve Rimpici)

I had big plans (I'm not even making this up) to perform Poe's "The Raven" and post it for Halloween this year, because I think Halloween should be a time for telling scary stories in the traditional campfire style.  That's why last week I posted my own original "The Thing Under the Bed" and I intended to follow it up with "The Raven" today.

However, last night, as I was sitting down to do my recording, friend of the blog and narrator of BRAINEATER JONES Steve Rimpici posted his own version, in a '30s noir style.  It's so good I decided to put off my own meager efforts until next year, and just share it with you here.  Actually, when I was listening last night I saw a raven-shaped opening in the clouds.  But the picture, of course, just looks like my phone was broken, otherwise I would share it with you here and spook you out.

So, enjoy, "The Raven" as recited by Officer Weathers as performed by Steve Rimpici.  Make sure to turn the lights out, light a candle, and turn away from the screen and know...listen.

Wednesday, October 29, 2014

Do My Amazon Author Page "Likes" Mean Anything?

Short answer?  No, I'm afraid not.

If you don't know what I'm talking about (and as an average reader you probably don't) go ahead and click on my Amazon author page.  Depending on your browser, you should see something like this:

If you click that button I've circled in red, you've just "liked" my page.  You can go ahead and click it, of course.  For one thing, it'll make me feel good, and the imaginary numbers on which I judge my life a success or not will increase slightly.

What does it actually do for me, though?  Well, nothing, really. 

There's a rumor spreading wildly on Facebook right now that Amazon is basing their marketing for authors on the number of "likes" they have.  Tellingly, though I've seen dozens of posts to this effect, none of them have quoted a source or even cited Wikipedia.  I don't have to be to realize there's something fishy about that.

So, in the interest of finding out whether this is something I should be concerned about, I checked Amazon's FAQs about the "like" button to find...nothing.  So I took the next investigative step and, just like a real-life BRAINEATER JONES, I e-mailed Amazon's Author Central bureau.

Within hours I received a response from a nice all-American girl from Bangalore, Ohio.  So, what the heck, I'll just reprint it in its entirety here:

Hello Stephen,

I understand you'd like to know if the number of "likes" on Author Page will affect the amount of marketing.

Please know that Amazon doesn't market books based on the number of likes on Author Page and also it isn't intended to improve your rank in search results on The "Like" button on Author Pages is a feature we use to recommend books, among other products, based on customer-interest. This feature is purely a cosmetic feature at this time, but when a customer expresses interest in the Author Page and clicks the Like icon, we'll use this to make better recommendations.

The "Like" button feature is only on Amazon product pages, and isn't related to Facebook. Amazon won't share information from an account with Facebook or post anything to a Facebook Wall without the account holder's consent.

If you have other questions about the "Like" feature, check out the information available on our Help pages:

I'd also like to inform you that the "Like" feature on Author Page is now being deprecated and all the existing Author Pages which have this feature will no longer have it as we are currently testing a new presentation of the bibliography on Author Pages which includes deprecation of 'Like' feature. We're aiming for a more convenient way for our customers and readers to browse for their favorite books and authors on our website.

We'll make this change permanent assuming feedback from customers.

Rest assured, your feedback contributes to the development and the way we make future changes to the program.

I hope this helps to explain. We hope to seeing you again soon. 

Best regards,[Eh, What the Heck, I'll Redact Her Name]

So, basically, I'm a "product."  And the likes are there for my readers, not me.  If you "like" me, you'll be informed when I have new releases and that sort of thing, a functionality, incidentally, you can also receive by joining my mailing list.  And while "deprecate" is a bit of an odd word to use, I think it's just a simple translation error on our good customer service rep's part for "discontinue."  Same with "purely cosmetic."  I mean, it's not "purely cosmetic;" it does do something, just...not what the rumor mill seems to think.

So.  Long story short, in a roundabout way having more "likes" helps you in the sense that people who "like" your page will be informed what you're up to.  But it will not affecting your marketing, also boughts, or the Amazon algorithm.  And the functionality is being discontinued anyway.  So, I wouldn't stress out about it too much, authors, but never let it be said that authors will not find something new to stress out about every day.

Monday, October 27, 2014

Survival Instructions for the Zombie Apocalypse (Guest Infographic from Blogger Naomi Shaw)

Hey, kids, I am just pleased as punch to bring you all a Halloween week surprise!  The infographic which I know you're already scrolling past my introduction to read was created by the talented blogger and journalist Naomi J. Shaw, who reached out to me last week.  Naomi's written a few words about this below and then we'll get to know her a little bit, too, but first let's just enjoy this beauty:

Surviving The Zombie Apocalypse

The general American public is fascinated by zombies—and rightfully so. Our current news landscape is dominated by talk of all sorts of looming threats, both domestic and abroad; both real and speculative.

For most, something like ebola, for example, doesn’t make a whole lot of sense. The way a lot of people are talking about it, through professional news outlets and social media alike, there’s no way of knowing for sure just how serious or threatening ebola is to the hypothetical average American.

In stark contrast to this brand of vague, widespread panic and confusion, zombies are a (fictional) threat that makes a whole lot of sense. Zombies want to:

1. Eat your brains.

2. Increase the number of zombies that exist.
Living, breathing humans can prevent them from doing this going for the head. Zombies without a head are zombies no more.

One part of what makes ebola so threatening in the weird way that it is, is that safety from it is not something that can be simply summed up in a clear and concise infographic, but rather, something being hotly debated by America’s top health professionals. If they don’t know, who does?

Protection from a zombie outbreak takes no health professionals; no debate. Rather, a one-hundred-thousand dollar Zombie Fortification Cabin will do the trick.

Zombies in Pop Culture

Products like this—whose cousins include, for example, weaponry/first-aid kids branded to resemble items found on The Walking Dead, plenty of which can be found through a quick eBay search—do not exist for people who are actually worried about a zombie outbreak (people who doubtlessly do exist—somewhere—but don’t have $100,000 of disposable income, I would wager) but people concerned with other, more real things, who also happen to really like zombies.

This is what makes zombie culture so unique: while the threat isn’t real, the idea of threat, while far more simple than the many posed by things the real world, provokes very realistic planning and strategizing.

Of course, zombies are also a whole lot more fun than ebola. From Zombie Crawls to Zombie Balls, a lot of people like to dress up like zombies and be goofy together.

Zombie Preparedness

While cinema portrays zombies as a threat with which humans must be very concerned, it seems perfectly safe to say that zombies are no real threat to an American public so captivated by how to defeat them.

Despite the fact that the current number of humans lost to zombie attacks is negligible (having never actually happened), multiple books exist outlining how to prevent an outbreak, were it to occur.

The attached infographic has a few more tips on how to survive the zombie apocalypse. Whether or not this is something that may actually happen one day, keeping the information below in mind can help prevent this sort of disaster before it even happens.

In the meantime, you can do your duty as a living human by dressing up like a zombie and having fun!

About Naomi Shaw

Naomi Shaw is a writer and mother of three based in Southern California. Originally an entrepreneur, she hopes people with a good business sense will be valued in the case of a zombie outbreak.

Wednesday, October 22, 2014

The Thing Under the Bed

In honor of Halloween, I'm pleased to present an original short story, "The Thing Under the Bed," which made it to the finals in 2014's Horror Addicts Masters of the Macabre Competition.  You can either listen to my dulcet delivery by clicking "play" or read the text below...but whichever you do, make sure you check down below before you lay down to sleep tonight...

by Stephen Kozeniewski

“I’m going to eat you and your whole family.”

The girl didn’t say a word.

“I know you hear me up there,” The Thing Under the Bed said, “You can pretend to ignore me but I’m still going to devour you.”

An involuntary gasp escaped from the girl’s throat. She clapped both of her hands over her big fat mouth, but it was already too late. The monster chuckled.

“I knew you were awake. I’ll tell you what: I’ll make you a deal. If you come down here by choice, I’ll kill you before I eat you. Then you don’t have to feel anything. How does that sound?”

She clenched Captain Bundrick under her armpit. She had taken the poor rabbit’s head off twice before by squeezing him in just that manner, and yet she didn’t care now. Mum would grumble, but she would take him into the sewing nook for doll surgery as she always did. That is, assuming Mum or anyone else would be left alive in the morning.

The blanket began to shift, slowly, inexorably being tugged downwards. Obviously The Thing Under the Bed had caught hold of a corner and was pulling, but gently. The goal was to scare her, not to catch her. Nevertheless, she scrambled out from under the covers and planted her bottom on her pillow.

The Thing chuckled again.

“Look, it’s the best thing for you just to give in. What’s your plan anyway? What’ve you got up there? A pillow? And that desiccated old bunny?”

“My Da’ll be home soon enough,” she spouted defiantly.

“Tha’s a nice voice you’ve got. Very pretty. I think your vocal cords shall be very tasty.”

“Well, you’re just a big bully. If you’re so tough, whyn’t you come up here, then?”


So she had finally shut The Thing up. She grinned over her little victory.

“I’m afraid it doesn’t quite work like that, little pet. No, you have to come down here. And you will. Soon enough. Along with your Da and your Mum and everybody else.”

She hung her head, trying desperately not to let a mournful tear strike her mattress. To distract herself, she turned and looked out of the window. Big Ben seemed to be wearing the moon as a halo. She had not learned Roman numerals and she still struggled with reading an analog clock, but after a moment’s counting she saw that it was three…something. Sometime after three in the morning. Her father would be home from his shift any moment now.

“Why not call out to your Mum?” The Thing whispered in the darkness, “I’ll bet she’d be delicious. I mean…a big help to you.”

The girl couldn’t tell whether the monster was teasing or not, but the sounds of her Mum’s piggish snoring from the next room betrayed that she had spent another night deep in her bottles. The girl might call and call for hours but never wake her mother.

She rubbed her forearms. Without the blanket she was getting cold, but she feared being sucked down into the writhing darkness underneath the bed if The Thing decided to start tugging on the sheets again.

“Why don’t you just be quiet?”

A wave of laughter from beneath the bed splashed the girl’s face like cold water.

“Oh, Mum!” The Thing called out, “Mummykins! Mother dearest!”

With each word The Thing’s slimy, spectral voice grew louder and louder.

“Quiet! Quiet!” the girl cried, her heart now beating solidly in her throat.

“It doesn’t matter! She can’t hear! She’s soused. It’s just you and me, my darling. Now come down here and cuddle.”

At that moment the telltale noise of the door of the flat opening filled the air and a wave of relief washed over her.

“Da! Da!”

She dared a peek over the side of the bed.

“Not so eager to yell now, are you?”

The Thing held its peace.

“Da! Da!”

“Oi, what is it?” her father’s voice replied from the foyer.

“Come quick, Da!”

She leaned far out over the side of the bed. The writhing tentacles of darkness that seemed to slither out from under the bed, forever on the periphery of her vision, had disappeared. And from the monster, not a peep.

Her father appeared at her doorway, a silhouette in the moonlight. He flipped the switch and light filled her room, making her blink in surprise. Finally illuminated, she could see his kind face, smiling eyes, and cracked lips.

“What’s all the racket then, little bit?”

All at once she felt foolish.

“There’s a…there’s something under the bed.”

His right eyebrow shot up, nearly rocketing through the roof.

“What kind of a something? A shoe? A ball?”

“No, Da. A…a monster.”

He smiled deftly, his toothy grin suddenly overtaking the rest of his face.

“Oh, is that all? Let me run out and get me sawed-off then.”

He turned to leave.

“No, Da! Da! Don’t go! There’s really something under there!”

Her father nodded and went to his knees before her bed, as though he were praying, the same way she did every night.

“Let’s see what’s under here.”

Her father lifted the dangling blanket and stuck his head under the bed.

“Ohhh, I don’t see anything,” her father’s muffled voice reported back, “No, wait. What’s this?”

Suddenly a sound like a whirring blender filled the room. She stared down at her father’s kneeling form. His leg began to twitch.


In an instant his twitching leg turned into a kicking leg, like a grasshopper’s. Then his whole body began to writhe and shake. The whirring grew louder and louder and then in the space of a split-second his entire body was sucked under the bed, only his screams and the strange buzz of the devouring monster filling the air. A plume of blood exploded out from under the bed an instant later, spraying the floor, her Sunday shoes, and the wall.

The girl began to scream. She began to scream loudly, not caring what the neighbors would think. Not caring what her Mum would think, if it broke through her drunken torpor at all. She screamed and screamed for all she was worth at the horrible, bloody demise of her father.

“Enough of that.”

The voice caught her off guard. It didn’t belong to the monster. It was far too refined. And somehow it sounded…smaller.

She glanced down at Captain Bundrick, the stuffed rabbit. The captain was standing of his own volition and staring at her. His button eyes didn’t blink, but otherwise he seemed fully alive.

“Cap’n…how are you…?”

“Never mind,” the stuffed rabbit said, “Perhaps you’ve gone mad. But that’s not what’s important now. What’s important is that The Thing Under the Bed doesn’t escape.”

“Don’t listen to him,” the monster intoned, “He’s clearly a delusion.”

“If you toss me through the doorway,” Bundrick continued, pointing, “I know where your father keeps the gasoline and matches. You and your mother won’t survive. But most of the people in this building will have time to escape. And more importantly that thing will burn up, too.”

“I’ll make you a counter-proposal,” The Thing said, “If you come down here of your own choice, I’ll leave your Mum alone.”

“There’s no good decision,” Bundrick said, “But there is one correct decision.”

She grabbed the stuffed rabbit and tossed him with all her might through the doorway. A moment later, the smell of gasoline filled the air.

The next day, the Evening Standard reported a wholly different explanation for the fire.


Friday, October 17, 2014

How to Make An Awesome Buttermilk Biscuit (Interview With Reviewer and Editor Meghan Shena Hyden)

Howdy, friends, fans, and family!  I'm always happy to have guests on the blog, and I get especially excited on the rare occasions when we get non-authors to jump in and tell us about other aspects of the publishing industry.  So today I'm pleased to feature reviewer and freelance editor Meghan Shena Hyden.  I actually got to know Meghan when...well, perhaps I'll let her tell the story.  Let's get to know her a little bit better and then jump right into the interview.

About Meghan Shena Hyden:

Meghan (that’s Meghan spelled the right way) is an avid reader, a book editor, a story teller, a purveyor of delectable fare and pulchritudinous confections, a lover of big words, and the best aunt in the world. She may not be able to find her wallet, car keys or sunglasses, but she always knows where her Kindle is. When she’s not reading or posting on The Gal in the Blue Mask, she’s working on her own novel, editing for one of the great authors she’s had the pleasure of working with, or spending time outdoors (usually at the San Antonio Zoo). She’s one of the easiest people in the world to talk to, so don’t be afraid to say hi. :)

You can follow her on FacebookTwitterGoodreads, and Pinterest.  You can also follow her on her blog The Gal in the Blue Mask, The Gal on Facebook, her book Pinterest, and Hyde ’N’ Seek Editing on Facebook.


SK: Thanks for being with us today, Meghan. First question: what is the key to a really good biscuit?

MSH: Me making them. :) I make an awesome buttermilk biscuit that people are always asking for again.

SK: I ask this question every time I finagle a reviewer into coming on the blog because I think it is one that there are just no helpful tips for online. Like, there are industry standard expectations of how to approach an agent, a publisher, a marketer, etc., but as far as I can tell not one for approaching reviewers. What do you like to see when an author cold contacts you? A one paragraph pitch and a link to the book? A whole media packet? Something in between?

MSH: I’m not as particular as most people are, but I do have a few pet peeves: 1) Including quotes from other reviews (especially in really large print in that awful orange that, for some reason, authors are using lately). I don’t want to see them in your book description on Amazon and I don’t want to see them in my emails. I don’t know how other reviewers/bloggers do it, but I don’t even look at those reviews when it comes to an r2r. I don’t want other people’s opinions stuck in my head while I’m reading. 2) What I call the “cut & paste email”: where it is very obvious to anyone with a brain that you have just cut and paste things from different places into one email. How is it obvious? The formatting is all off, the font is different, the letters are all different sizes. This makes it hard to read and makes me feel like you didn’t put any thought or real effort into this email you’ve written me. 3) Poorly edited emails. This is a big deal in every profession, but I think an even bigger deal when you’re an author trying to get me to read your book. This doesn’t leave a good impression and makes me wonder if your book will be just as bad.

If you’re going to email me, tell me about your book, give me an Amazon link, include the statistics (pages and genre), and treat me like I’m human. You have a better chance of me reading your book if you introduce yourself to me, tell me a little bit about you … and make yourself memorable. Oh, and tell me you’ve actually read one of my reviews (whether it be on The Gal, Amazon or whatever) and which one - I love compliments. :)

SK: What is your favorite episode of Star Trek: The Next Generation?

MSH: Encounter at Farpoint. It’s the first one of the show - the first introduction to the cast of characters - and the first time we meet Q, who is one of my favorite recurring roles.

SK: Oh, no, I'm sorry, the correct answer was "Masks." Taking one point from Hufflepuff and moving on...I have noticed that you are very particular about your horror. What, for you, are the absolute key ingredients for great horror? Or, if you prefer, a negative list of things NOT to include.

MSH: I want to be scared. SCARED! I want a story that is going to stick with me and creep me out for days, that psychological stuff that really gets in your head and makes you think. Blood and gore is great, but not a necessity.

I am always willing to give a horror novel a chance, hoping that it will be my next favorite one, but there are things that I try to stay away from unless it just looks really good. Zombies have been so OVER DONE lately and I have yet to find one that petrified me. And that sucks because there is such a potential there, especially mixed with dystopian, which makes you think that it could happen any day now. Unfortunately, I also avoid (to some degree) vampires. I don’t want shimmery vampires that fall more under paranormal romance. I want evil bastards that will rip your throat out in a second. Yeah, you can definitely leave that romance crap out.

I do like stories that are very unique and a sarcastic anti-hero. I also have an issue with mirrors, which makes me more willing to read about them.

SK: Sarcastic anti-hero and original zombies, eh?  I'll try to see if I can think of something.  Okay, this is one of my favorite questions to ask, and very rarely do people answer it, but I think unless I misjudge your personality you will be one of the bold and outspoken few. Do you have any authors behaving badly stories?

MSH: Fortunately (and unfortunately), I only have a handful. Since I began The Gal a little over a year ago, I have only *fingers crossed* dealt with one that was just an outright jerk. He decided to scrap my interview and send me one he created on his own, then get mad (vicious, nasty, and threatening) because I am completely honest with my readers and told them that this was not the review I created. (I was a little concerned about him, but he lost all his steam when I refused to answer his emails and changed the settings on my blog so he couldn’t just keep leaving nasty comments.)

The worst one I ever dealt with was shortly after I began reviewing books on Amazon and Goodreads. I had found a book on gardening with children on Amazon and it was free for the day. It turned out to be one giant commercial for her other book and I left a 1 star review (my only one) explaining why I felt this way. She contacted me on Goodreads wanting to fix the situation, but kept changing her story, blaming it on everyone else, and then … in the end … told me that Goodreads and Amazon were closing my accounts because she told them that I was trying to force her to give me a free book (no, I just didn’t think that giving me an erotica book … written by your friend … that is already free … when I hate erotica … was a good exchange for a book on gardening). Being new to everything, I really was scared and contacted both Goodreads and Amazon - she is no longer on either.

SK: Ha ha, wow! Okay, let's end on a positive note, since they can't all be bad. Any authors behaving goodly stories?

MSH: Oh gosh yes!! I have some of the best author friends - and I love that I can call them that. Off hand, Jonathan Janz, Evans and Adam Light, Edward Lorn - good people!! Not only great at what they do, but just some of the nicest people I have ever met in my life.

April Elder (A.L. Elder) has been an absolutely awesome author to work with as an editor and a blogger. She is amazing. She is so thirsty for knowledge and so open to other people’s ideas and opinions … and I really enjoyed working with her and look forward to her being done with the other books she is working on.

I have a great meeting-an-author story (he shares this one as much as I do haha). Those emails out of the blue we were talking about earlier - I got one from this one author asking if I would be interested in reading one of his books and, when I went to look at them on Amazon, I realized why his name sounded familiar - I already had both of them. We have been friends ever since. He’s even interviewing me right now. :)

SK: That last one sounds like a lame-o.  Okay, well, thanks for being with us today, Meghan. Any parting words for your fans?

MSH: Read more!! And leave comments!!

I always say that the world would be a better place if people read more. So do it!! And the comment thing - I want to know your opinions, even if you tell me that what I’m saying is completely wrong. And I know lately I’ve just been doing a lot of reviews, but that’s going to be changing - I promise. I have some interviews of some great horror authors (and a horror blogger who I think is awesome) coming up so definitely keep a look out!!

And thanks. That’s my big one. Thank you for making The Gal what it is today. If it weren’t for you guys, there would be no point at all. When I began my blog, I was sure that it was just going to be me hanging out with just a few people and that it would never go over big. Then I find out that, in a little over a year, I’ve had over 200,000 page views - I never thought I would ever have something like that. And when someone tells me they read my blog, I’m always shocked (especially when it’s an author). So thank you thank you thank you!! :)

Wednesday, October 15, 2014

Congratulations to Steve Rimpici on Being Nominated for the Voice Arts Awards!

Toot!  Toot!

No, sorry, Stevie, sadly that wasn't a fart, but rather the sound of me tooting somebody else's horn for a change.  Steve Rimpici, who I'm proud to call a friend and an impossibly dedicated business partner, (although you may know better as the voice of BRAINEATER JONES) has been nominated for a Voice Arts Award!

You can read all about it The VoiceOver Times or on the Voice Arts Awards site.

Steve's outstanding BJ skills have landed him a spot in the Outstanding Audio Book Narration – Mystery category.  I don't want to jinx it, but I can't imagine any way this highly talented narrator and impressionist won't win.  But don't take my word for it.  Check out the man's work here:

And if you really like it, why not support the artist and pick up a copy of the audiobook at Amazon, Audible, or iTunes? I guarantee you'll love it, and not because of the writing.

Monday, October 13, 2014

ANNOUNCEMENT: I Have a New Blog!

Have you ever said to yourself, "Hey, self, you know what I could use more of is?  Is more of Steve blogging!"  Well, then you're in luck.  Because behold!

I am now officially a contributor to the second greatest group blog in the history of all and across of all media.  It should generally be a bit of a departure from whatever I'm doing here.  (What is that supposed to be again?)  Make sure to check it out, bookmark it, whatever the kids are doing these days by going here.  And remember:

Friday, October 10, 2014

BRAINEATER JONES is on Sale for $0.99!

BRAINEATER JONES is on sale for only $0.99 (and remains free for KindleUnlimited users!) This was my debut novel and it holds a really special place in my heart.  Plus it's a rip-roaring good read for Halloween!  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 online and IRL.  Here's the purchase link:


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

"Braineater Jones is one of the most entertaining horror novels I’ve read in 2014. This is a great choice for anyone in the mood for a genre-busting thriller!"

"If you enjoy your zombies stories, but are looking for something just a little bit different; if a world chock full of eviler-than-evil villains and shadowy speakeasies appeals, then Braineater Jones is the undead fella you want to meet. Dark and often darkly comic, this mash-up of nineteen thirties America and zombie fiction is bound to find fans amongst both camps."

"Stephen Kozeniewski hit it out of the park with Braineater Jones."
- Jessica Kong

Wednesday, October 8, 2014

The OneStop Apocalypse Shop (Guest Post by Author Derek J. Goodman)

Hey, burnketeers!  Thanks for stopping by.  We interrupt your regular burntober to bring you...


A guest post!  Today I'm pleased to welcome Derek J. Goodman, whose novel THE APOCALYPSE SHIFT is being made into the movie The OneStop Apocalypse Shop.  First let's meet the author, then let' jump right into the guts of the post.

About Derek J. Goodman

Derek J. Goodman is the author THE APOCALYPSE SHIFT series, along with the Z7 series for Permuted Press (including THE REANIMATION OF EDWARD SCHUETT, THE CONTAMINATION OF SANDRA WOLFE, and the soon to be released third book, THE SIEGE OF SEVEN CITY.) When he's not writing he works as a librarian in Wisconsin.

Guest Post

Hi, my name is Derek J. Goodman, and I would like to talk about the Kickstarter for the movie The OneStop Apocalypse Shop, based on my novel THE APOCALYPSE SHIFT.

The one thing I get asked the most about the novel is if I, like the characters, have ever worked the graveyard shift at a convenience store. The answer is yes, I did indeed work for a year doing the night shift at a 7-11 in a seedy section of Denver. It is, without a doubt, the worst job I’ve ever had. I could tell you stories. But after a certain amount of time passed, I found myself actually growing nostalgic about it. Not because I actually wanted to go back and do it again, but because, unlike most of my jobs since, it was interesting. The idea occurred to me that if vampires, werewolves, and zombies had walked through that door, it wouldn’t have changed anything. That job would have been equally as crazy.

And so I came up with stories of the OneStop and the poor schmucks who worked there. The OneStop was in a special section of the city that tends to attract magical forces once the sun goes down. Most of the monsters that walk through the door are just minding their business like any other customer. They want Twinkies, nachos, doughnuts, Slim Jims, and Froztees. But every so often some mad power-hungry demon might come in for a quick bite on their way to destroying the world. The crew at the OneStop need to stop them. It’s part of their job, right up there with mopping the floor, keeping the coffee pots full, and ringing up the customers.

The Kickstarter is being run by my publisher, Permuted Press, who happen to have several really talented film students among their staff. The script will be by Ryne Driscoll and it will be directed by David Walker. I recently had the opportunity to talk to them in person and I’m confident that the project is in good hands. This is all around a great opportunity and I’m happy to be a part of it.

For further information about the Kickstarter and how to donate to it, you can go to the site.  I really hope that other people will be as excited about this as I am.

Monday, October 6, 2014

The Quintessential AT HELL'S GATES Post

AT HELL'S GATES, featuring my short set in THE GHOUL ARCHIPELAGO universe, "Exploding Shit Zombies," is now available in paperback and all major e-book format through the following venues:


Here are the other places you'll find AHG around the web:

The anthology website
The anthology FB page
A spotlight on Sharon Stevenson's blog
A spotlight on Someone Read This
A cover reveal on The Bookie Monster
A spotlight on The Sity
A review on What does the FluffyRedFox say?
A spotlight on The Examiner
A review on Frank Michaels Errington's blog
A spotlight on Frank Tayell's blog
An interview with curator Devan Sagliani on Zombiepalooza Radio (starts at 1:10 mark)
An article in The Escapist by curator Devan Sagliani
A review on Apocalypse Yarns
A spotlight on Zombie Fiction Fanatic
An interview with contributor Stephen Kozeniewski (me) on Across the Board
A review on The United Federation of Charles
A spotlight on ZigZag Timeline
A review on Have Book Will Travel
A mention on Someone Read This
A mention on Claire C. Riley's blog
A review on Fallen Over Book Reviews
A mention on Intravenous Magazine's Halloween Round-up
A spotlight and giveaway on Creating Serenity
An author spotlight with Stephen Kozeniewski (me) on Good Day PA
Another spotlight on Zombie Fiction Fanatic
A review on The Mad Reviewer
A writeup on Zombie Response Team
A review on Horror Metal Sounds
A review on Masquerade Crew
A review on Curiosity of a Social Misfit
A review on The Bookie Monster
A spotlight on contributor Shana Festa on News-Press
A review on The Horror Fiction Review
A review on Pretty Little Pages
A review on Patrick D'Orazio's blog
A review on Zisi Emporium
An interview on Set Sytes
A mention on Rachel Aukes's website
An interview with Devan Sagliani on authorsinterviews
A review on Astradaemon's Lair
A review on The Horror Review
A spotlight on Risingshadow
A sale spotlight on Sharon Stevenson's blog
A review on Readers Hollow


Friday, October 3, 2014

Book Review - CANVAS BOUND by Laura Kolar

Wrapping up my participation in RAP's Young at Heart tour, today I'm taking a look at CANVAS BOUND by Laura M. Kolar.


I have been accused (mostly by Mary Fan and Kimberly Giarratano) of not reading Young Adult literature.  To that I say, "Ha!" and present to you my signed copy of CANVAS BOUND, the first book in the CAPTIVE ART series.

Actually, I'm just preening.  I don't actually read YA.  I read THE HUNGER GAMES series, and a few HARRY POTTER books, but that's about it.  So I was basically coming into CANVAS BOUND as a neophyte.

To that end, I can't really compare the novel to any other YA classics.  Just can't do it.  Have no idea who the love interest would be similar to, or what the plot would be most like.  I have to judge CANVAS BOUND on its own merits, independent of context.  Luckily this novel stands pretty well on its own.

Libby is an American teenager studying art at a prestigious London boarding school, what I think they call a conservatory.  And when I say "studying" I mean she's basically living every creative type's dream and getting to hang out in her suite all day and just create.  As a gifted painter, Libby is expected to earn her degree by just painting.

Libby seems to have hit the jackpot, at least as far as anyone who's had to sit through ordinary high school classes is concerned.  But her lifestyle is also a way for her to cut herself off from the world.  Her best friend Travis tries to shake her out of her complacency and get her to attend social events. 

Finally Libby attends a dance where she's presented with a conundrum: a nice boy who she is unattracted to likes her, and a mean boy who makes her heart flutter does not.  I suppose this love triangle is the main draw for teen readers.  Not caring much for romance myself, I was more interested in the mystery behind Libby's "living" paintings.

This novel moves along at a nice clip.  Actually, a nicer clip than I'm used to, but I'm guessing if I read more YA I would be more used to it.  Scenes generally alternated between those germane to the love story and those dealing with the secrets of the boarding school and the moving art, so there was always a plot coupon to keep you reading.

I've actually sold copies of CANVAS BOUND at conventions in the past.  Whenever teenage girls approached the table, they inevitably seemed to grab and buy a copy of this book.  Having now read it myself, I'm confident that our young customers were not disappointed.  Definitely pick up a copy whether you're young or...young at heart.  (See what I did there?)

Read an excerpt


Sixteen-year-old Libby Tanner’s art comes to life. Her painted skies turn from day to night, leaves rustle on trees, and sometimes, a mystery boy appears.

While attending England’s Aldridge Art Academy, Libby meets charming Brent Henderson, a performing arts student who showers her with attention. But his rival, gorgeous Dean James, is the one who occupies her mind, even though he’s very much attached to his current girlfriend.

Libby soon learns there’s more to both Brent and Dean than she ever imagined. In order to save her future and the boy who’s captured her heart, she must unlock the secrets behind her art by entering the most dangerous place of all… the world within her paintings.

But once she steps into the canvas, she risks being trapped forever.

About Laura M. Kolar:

Laura M. Kolar lives with her husband and daughter in a one-stop-light town in northern-lower Michigan. Though she didn’t discover her love of books until she turned thirty, as a self-declared hopeless romantic, she has spent the past few years reading and writing stories with mostly happy endings.

If she’s not at her day-job or with her family, you will find her sipping a cup of chai latte while sitting in her favorite rocking chair, hunched over her laptop writing or spending entirely too much time on Twitter.

Wednesday, October 1, 2014

Book Review - UPLOAD by Collin Tobin

This week we're doing something a little bit different.  As part of Red Adept Publishing's Young at Heart Tour I'm going to be taking a look at the work of some of my peers.  Today we're spotlighting UPLOAD by probably the awesomest guy I ever met in real life, Steve McQueen.  I mean, Collin Tobin.  (Sorry, I always mix those two up.) 


As a horror author, I always keep an eye out for things in your little muggle-genres that might potentially be scary.  And sometimes I'm really surprised at what I find.  I remember watching "Looper" expecting a return-to-form '80s style sci-fi adventure a la "Total Recall" or "The Running Man."  Instead, I watched in barely concealed horror as, through a fluke of time travel, a man's vivisection in the past was revealed to him in real time before his very eyes, a scene that haunts me to this day.

Why bring that up?  Well, UPLOAD, ostensibly a technothriller hewing to the YA crowd, has a premise that is just balls-out terrifying.  I may as well just throw up a SPOILER ALERT!!! here because I'm pretty sure it took us about halfway through the book before we got to this part, but I want to delve into it anyway.

Preying on the worst fears of the "Gosh, the NSA sure seems to know a lot about what I left in my stool this morning" era, Collin cranks the squick level up a notch with UPLOAD, where (did I mention SPOILER ALERT!!!!?) cameras are inserted into people's eyes.  Into your damn eye!  And your eye camera isn't uploading all of your staring at yourself masturbating and other various horrible invasions of privacy for something nebulous but ostensibly important like national security.  Nope.  Eye cameras exist solely for the purpose of extorting the fuck out of you. 

So.  Yeah.  Talk about finding abject, existential horror in the least likely of places.  What scares me most about this, too, is that I know Collin a little bit in real life.  And from what I can tell, when he's not driving around in muscle cars or stroking his Gandalf beard pensively, he works for a tech company.  So I don't think he's talking out of his ass when he's describing these technologies and methodologies.  Perhaps the most terrifying part of UPLOAD is that it could really happen.  Maybe it is really happening.  Maybe some Russian gangster is watching as I type this blogpost right now.  [shudder]

Somehow I've gotten this far into what is ostensibly a review without even mentioning what a rip-roaring yarn this is.  It's not all existential, nihilistic terror.  The friendship between main characters Jay and Bennie is a particular highlight.  Bennie's woundedness (is that a word?) and Jay's fumbling interactions with his best friend's sister add some age-appropriate emotional realism to the novel.  I never felt like I was reading about adults in teenager-skin suits.

A great read for teens and technophiles alike, I highly recommend UPLOAD.

Read an excerpt


Someone’s always watching.

Sixteen-year-old Jay Brooks’s life is in chaos. Feeling like a stranger in his own home, he spends all his spare time with his best friend, Bennie, and not just because he had a crush on Chloe, Bennie’s older sister.

A wheelchair-bound hacker, Bennie Welch practically lives in his basement computer lab. Longing to make genuine connections to the outside world, he secretly films people’s precious memories for later sale and surfs the crowds at rave parties, despite the danger to his frail body.

One night, Jay and Benny stumble on a secret video, one that could get them killed. Tracing the origins leads them on an dangerous journey that could change their lives forever.

About Collin Tobin:

Collin Tobin lives in Massachusetts and is the proud father of two daughters. He holds a bachelor's in English and master's in Education. He has worked in the software industry for the past thirteen years.

He was the lucky recipient of the Mississippi Literary Festival's 1st place in poetry and has also published poems in "character i" and "The Drum".

When he's not writing, he enjoys re-reading Nabokov's fiction in chronological order, eating very hot salsa, and dreaming up inventions with neither the capital nor the initiative to see them through.

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