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, November 24, 2014

Chessiecon 2014!

Hey, everybody!  If you live in the Baltimore, MD, area you should definitely swing by Chessiecon at the North Baltimore Plaza Hotel (2004 Greenspring Dr., Lutherville-Timonium, MD, 21093) sometime this weekend (28-30 November, 2014.)

If you show up, you'll get to see me...guaranteed.  Fellow Red Adept Publishing authors Mary Fan, Elizabeth Corrigan, and myself will be at a table in the vendor's area all weekend.  I'll be available signing and selling all of my books.  In addition, I've committed to the following panels:

Dark Fantasy
The Evolving Landscape of Publishing
Zombies and Vampires and Ghouls, Oh My
How Not to Get Published
11am-12 noon
Turkey Awards Panel
The Psychology of Horror
Reaching Readers
11am-12 noon
Military SF


4PM-5PM Dark Fantasy - GS2
Dark fantasy has become wildly popular in both romance and erotica. What does it take for a fantasy to qualify as “dark?” It has to be more than just the use of beings such as vampires and werewolves. What is the appeal? Who are some of your favorite authors and why? Carter, Crist, Kozeniewski, McLaughlin

5PM-6PM The Evolving Landscape of Publishing - GS1
With the rise of small presses, e-books, self-publishing, and online platforms, publishing has changed a lot in the 21st century. Both seasoned authors and aspiring writers have more options than ever before. This panel will discuss how to navigate the evolving landscape of publishing - and avoid the pitfalls. Corrigan, Demchick, Fan, Kozeniewski

**7PM-8PM Zombies and Vampires and Ghouls, Oh My. Why is Being Undead so Popular? - GS2
Is this a modern expression of the ages-old human desire for immortality? Or is the current trend towards fantasy/horror literature a fad? Is this trend crowding out other forms of horror literature? Just why is there so much current interest in this particular sub-genre anyway? Alexander, Carter, Kozeniewski, MacMillan, Woodling


10AM-11PM How Not to Get Published - GS3-5
A discussion of the mistakes and pitfalls common in publishing SF/F. Demchick, Fan, Kozeniewski, McLaughlin

11AM-Noon Turkey Awards Panel - GS2
Writers were asked to write the best terrible paragraph they could write, as the beginning of the best terrible science fiction novel you (n)ever read. Finalist entries will be presented, and judged with humor and harshness . A good time is sure to be had by all. Demchick, Kozeniewski, Liebe, Sakers (M)

2PM-3PM The Psychology of Horror - GS2
As The Doctor recently said, “fear is a superpower.” Yet for most of society, being afraid is viewed as a weakness, a response for children. So why do some people seek to be scared by boarding rollercoasters, watching scary movies, or reading horror novels? This panel will delve into the complex paradox of what makes the horror genre simultaneously so repellent and so appealing to creators and consumers alike. Cipra (M), Demchick, C.Jones, Kozeniewski, Sonnier


10AM-11AM Reaching Readers
"Whether a writer is self-publishing ebooks, serializing fiction online, or promoting traditionally published books, modern technology is rife with opportunities (and pitfalls) for connecting with readers. The old advice about writers remaining aloof is outdated--especially in marginalized communities. Aloofness is a privilege that writers can't afford, but should writers participate in ""readers only"" spaces like Goodreads? What are the do's and don'ts of serializing as part of a web presence? What do readers want from authors online and how can authors benefit from that relationship?" Corrigan, Demchick, Fan, Kozeniewski

11AM-Noon Military SF - GS1
While we dream of peace, it seems war is an ongoing state for too much of humanity. What is believable about the future worlds propounded by authors such as Elizabeth Moon, David Weber, Eric Flint, and William H. Keith? What do you like in their stories? What do you dislike? Aire, Cipra (M), Kozeniewski, Liebe

Hope to see you there!

Wednesday, November 19, 2014

Awards Season Redux!

Hey, everybody!  In case you missed my original post on awards season, there are still a couple of things over there that you can do.  I've come up with a few more.  But rather than update that old thing, I thought I'd post new (semi-) original content.  Everybody loves original content, right, Cracked Magazine?

So here are two more quick things you can do to help me out this year.  Thanks, everybody!

- Send a link to BILLY AND THE CLONEASAURUS to Jimmy Fallon's Do Not Read List.

(Yeah, I know, this isn't exactly an "award" but it's still stupendous exposure.  Maybe even life-changing exposure.)  Basically this is just a quick e-mail.  I'd love it if you'd personalize the message so he doesn't think I'm spamming him with multiple sock puppet accounts. 

Subject:  Do Not Read List suggestion

Dear Jimmy,

I found a perfect new title for your Do Not Read List: BILLY AND THE CLONEASAURUS.  Check out the link:!

- Nominate me for the 2014 This is Horror Awards.

All you need to do is send an e-mail using the template below by November 28. You can nominate 2 items in every category as long as it's not your own work and it was created between Nov '13 and Nov '14, so feel free to flesh out this skeleton with all your favorite works of horror.

Subject: This Is Horror Award Nominations 2014

Novel of the Year - BILLY AND THE CLONEASAURUS by Stephen Kozeniewski
Film of the Year -
TV Series of the Year -
Short Story Collection of the Year - AT HELL'S GATES by Devan Sagliani, et al.
Anthology of the Year - AT HELL'S GATES by Devan Sagliani, et al.
Publisher of the Year - Severed Press

Magazine of the Year - 
UK Event of the Year -
Book Cover of the Year - BILLY AND THE CLONEASAURUS by Stephen Kozeniewski and AT HELLS GATES by Devan Sagliani, et al.
Tattoo Artist of the Year -
Podcast of the Year -

Saturday, November 15, 2014


Today we have a very special guest: fellow zombie author Shawn Chesser!  Shawn's been with us once before and we're delighted that fate, Providence, or kismet has brought him back.  First, let's get to know Shawn and then jump right into an excerpt from his latest novel, WARPATH: SURVIVING THE ZOMBIE APOCALYPSE.

About Shawn Chesser:

This is what Shawn looks like now...

Shawn Chesser resides in the Pacific Northwest with his wife and two children. He studied writing at Harvard on the hill (PCC Sylvania) many years ago. Shawn is a big fan of the apocalyptic horror genre. Stephen King, Cormac McCarthy and George Romero are strong influences. When not writing, Shawn spends the rest of his time doting on his two children and doing whatever his wife says. :)

...And this is Shawn during his youth in New Jersey.  (Not pictured: His beloved Trans Am, Bruce) 


Chapter 1

Like a makeshift guillotine, the shovel’s blade cut a silent flat arc through the cool morning air before burying inches deep into the rasping creature’s temple. As the rotted corpse crumpled to earth, Duncan squared his shoulders, squinted against the driving rain, and poked the V-shaped cutting edge into the next rotter’s sternum. Having gained a precious yard of separation from the handful of attackers, he backpedaled blindly uphill—in the direction of the white Toyota Land Cruiser which, at the moment, was keeping his two-way radio, the short barreled combat shotgun, and a half-empty bottle of Jack Daniels dry.

Hell of a lot of good they’re doing ya in there, old man, he thought glumly, his equilibrium failing him. In the next instant his legs buckled, and suddenly the gloomy overcast sky was all that he saw.

“Fuck happened?” he muttered, shaking his head vigorously and spraying droplets of water in all directions. But the action had no effect on his vision, which, from the combination of alcohol, sleep deprivation, and the fine mist clinging to his aviator glasses, remained clouded and fuzzy around the edges.

Now, flat on his back, two things registered at once. To his right, wrapped in a rain-drenched sheet, was his brother Logan’s corpse that he’d just tripped over. He walked his gaze along the contours of the young man’s lifeless shell. Regarded the facial profile which had slackened in death, but was still unmistakably Oops—handlebar mustache and all. He noted the crimson blossoms of blood that had dried to black but had reconstituted and now ran in all directions, turning the once-white death shroud into some kind of macabre tie dye.

A half beat later he recognized that the pickle he’d gotten himself into, both figuratively and literally—the former because he’d gone ahead and left the heavy artillery in the truck, the latter because he was more than half in the bag—was about to get exponentially worse.

He flicked his gaze sixty yards downhill at the spot where he’d removed the triple-strand barbed wire from the fence paralleling SR-39 so that he could drive the Cruiser through. There, three disheveled first turns were heading his way, fighting against gravity, their feet slipping on the slick grass. Then his heart skipped a beat as he looked past the struggling trio and noticed another dozen flesh eaters leaving the blacktop. Slow and clumsy, they negotiated the shallow ditch and, jostling shoulder to shoulder, exploited the newly created breach.

The new arrivals to the party were deadly for sure, but it was the half dozen to his fore— spread out in a phalanx line, jaws working in eager anticipation of fresh meat—that were the clear and present danger. Knowing that he was turtled on his back with Logan and Gus lying in state nearby, one hissing monster looming over him, and another in the half-dug grave less than two feet away, sent a cold wave of dread coursing through Duncan’s body.

First things first, he told himself.

Only a second and a half elapsed between him tripping over Logan’s corpse and his fingers finding the knurled grip of the .45 riding high in the paddle holster on his hip. Another half-second ticked by and he had depressed the palm safety, thumbed back the hammer, and his index finger hovered near the trigger guard. By the time the weapon was clear of leather and tracking swiftly right, he had already found the trigger and drawn off a few pounds of pull, the hammer poised and ready to fall.

Flooded with adrenaline and running mainly on muscle memory, he didn’t recall caressing the trigger, but the two reports crashing the still morning air confirmed it and set his ears to ringing. The noise, like tearing paper, bounced off the Toyota’s metal skin and toured the nearby trees before the shock wave rolled back over top his prostrate body. It was awakening and cathartic at once, a substance he could almost feel.

One down, too many to go.

As he watched the flesh eater he’d just blessed with a second death roll towards the Toyota, spilling brains and viscous blood from its cratered face, the female first turn he’d just poked between the breasts with the shovel point was crawling out of the freshly dug grave where it had fallen.

Over the pattering rain, the grating rasp of its clawlike hands grappling for purchase, combined with the wet rattle escaping its working maw, sent an icy jolt through his body. Shivering profusely from a combination of fear-induced adrenaline, his already lowered core temperature, and the desire for another belt of Jack Black, he dug his left boot heel in and pushed uphill. Feeling a tug slow his progress as splintered nails tore into the blue denim just below his right knee, and with a new wave of shivers wracking his body and the stink of death and decay thick in his throat, he spread his legs, a kind of half-assed mud angel, aimed between his boot tips, and pumped a round between the zombie’s beady eyes.

Two down, too many to go.

He kicked free from the dead thing’s grasp, rolled over onto his stomach, and clawed his way towards the SUV; his ultimate goal: getting inside and radioing for help. And then shortly thereafter, making bubbles in the whiskey.

But those things weren’t happening without a fight because a pair of rotters had inexplicably looped around the passenger’s side of the Toyota, flanked him, and were now doggedly lurching his way.

“Where’d y'all learn that trick?” he muttered, bracketing the one nearest him in his sights. As he drew back on the trigger, a sudden flash of reddish-orange, like a .50 caliber round fired at night, minus the sparkle and pop, entered his side vision. Momentarily convinced he was seeing ill-timed tracers—a flood of chemicals to the brain brought on by the stress of a dozen dead things wanting to eat him, or perhaps a byproduct of the Jack Daniels in his system—he held his fire, blinked his eyes, and kept them closed for half a beat. Upon reopening them the thought that he’d had too much of the latter won out because now only one rotter stood between him and the SUV.

With the throaty rasps of the dead advancing on his six, he wasted no more precious time processing what had just happened. Instead, he fixed his gaze on the flesh eater at his twelve o’clock, rose from the ground, and with the .45 extended at arm’s length, took a tentative step towards the SUV.

Make sure to buy your own copy of WARPATH and tell all your friends about it on Goodreads! 

The stench of frozen rotted meat is in the air! Welcome to the Winter of Zombie Blog Tour 2014, with 10 of the best zombie authors spreading the disease in the month of November.

Stop by the event page on Facebook so you don't miss an interview, guest post or teaser… and pick up some great swag as well! Giveaways galore from most of the authors as well as interaction with them! #WinterZombie2014

AND so you don't miss any of the posts in November, here's the complete list, updated daily.

Friday, November 14, 2014

Non-Sister Sister Lovin' Mister (Dis or Dat With Pete Barber, author of LOVE POISON)

'Ello, guv'nahs!  I've got the right proud pleasure of 'aving met today's guest.  And 'e talks in no wise like the way I'm pretending wot to now.  'Owever, 'e is from Liverpool, and I almost never get to use the adjective "Liverpudlian" outside of they-who-will-not-be-named, so I'm proud to introduce Liverpudlian author and close personal friend (well, okay, we met once) Pete Barber!  Pete's graciously agreed to put up with my stunted Cockney bullshit and to engage in a dis or dat regarding his newest work, LOVE POISON!  Let's meet the man and then jump right in.  Oh, and, as always, stick around to the end for a giveaway from our mutual publisher, Red Adept.

About Pete Barber:

Pete Barber was born into a blue-collar family in Liverpool, England. Fortunately, a knack for building computer software enabled an early life switch from hard hat and overalls to suit and tie.

After immigrating to the US in the early ’90s, Pete became a citizen and started living the American dream.

Burned out from twenty years in the corporate world, he and his wife, Joyce, bought a run-down, dog-friendly motel in Carolina Beach, NC. A close friend still refers to this as a brain fart.

Eight crazy years later, they sold the business and moved to Lake Lure, North Carolina, where Pete and Joyce currently live with a dozen llamas, two spoiled dogs, a brace of cookie-eating goats, numerous chickens, and one ferocious cat.

Dis or Dat?

SK:  Barber or Berber?

PB:  Well, my family name is Barber, although no one in my family actually cuts hair. It seems likely, though, that my ancestors practiced the art of bloodletting, symbolized by the red and white striped “Barber’s Pole.” That does make it hard to swell with ancestral pride, so perhaps I should buy a vowel and become a carpet maker.

SK:  New Zealand or New Jersey?

PB:  Much of the action in LOVE POISON takes place in New Zealand. That is an expensive taxi ride from New Jersey, and a far more exotic place for my main characters to fall in love. So, despite Camden’s obvious attraction for my Maori gangsters, I’ll stay with the Kiwi angle.

SK:  Mushrooms or "mushrooms?"

PB:  The mushrooms featured in LOVE POISON are a powerful aphrodisiac that make a man fall hopelessly in love with the nearest woman. They are definitely “mushrooms.”

SK:  Maoris or the Mowry sisters?

PB:  I had to Google the Mowry sisters :), so obviously not them. However, when I learned that Tamera broke down on Oprah and confessed that she’d been the victim of racial abuse, I did question my choice of Maori gangsters for my bad guys. Maybe the sista’s husband would have been scarier?

SK:  Love Boat or LOVE POISON?

PB:  A large white ship that carries hundreds of women to an island escape where they’ll be ravaged by love-crazed GQ models does feature heavily in the plot. So, either will work, methinks. 


Love is a dangerous drug.

Lab assistant and avid climber Amber Wilson is no stranger to risk. But she feels invisible around her handsome boss, Mark, until she accidentally doses him with an irresistible aphrodisiac that leaves him with a suicidal hangover. Abruptly fired, Amber and Mark partner up to research the source of the drug—a rare New Zealand mushroom—in hopes of refining it for safe use.

On their way to New Zealand to collect fungi samples, Amber is blindsided by a deep and intense romantic connection with Mark. Their new business plan is endangered by ruthless Maori mobsters who control a mushroom scheme they’re killing to protect. As the body count rises, Amber struggles to salvage her and Mark’s dreams, but when she risks her heart and acts alone, both of them could end up paying the ultimate price.

Pick up a copy through Amazon, Kobo, Google Play, iBookstore, or Barnes and Noble and be sure to tell your friends about it on Goodreads.

Read an excerpt

Monday, November 10, 2014

Very Sad News Today...

I was very saddened today to hear about the passing of J.F. Gonzalez, one of horror's great authors.  I don't know anything about what happened, but I'm saddened by his loss and offer my condolences to his friends, family, and loved ones. 

I didn't know Mr. Gonzalez personally, but I did have the great honor of meeting him once, around this time last year.  I wrote a guest blogpost about it and the advice he gave me as a brand new horror author.  I remember him being warm, personable, and having a very wry sense of humor.  I regret now that I'll never get the chance to get to know him better. 

I'm not sure what the appropriate thing to say in a situation like this is, but when an author passes away we are fortunate that his work remains as a legacy and a way to remember him.  So maybe now would be a good time to pick up one of his books.

This is me (center) with Gonzalez (left) and his frequent collaborator Brian Keene (right)

Thursday, November 6, 2014

It's That Time of Year Again...

It's that time of year again...awards season!  I've never actually won an award for my writing.  The closest I ever came was having BRAINEATER JONES be named the twelfth best book of 2013 by Brian Keene.  And that's fine.  Awards are generally not to be taken too seriously.

However, I know a lot of my fans are always wondering how they can help my fledgling career.  Obviously, buying my books is the best way, reading my books is the second best way, and reviewing my books is the third best way.  But if you want to help with marketing by spreading the word about my books, that's always much appreciated as well. 

Again, to reiterate: I appreciate all my fans just for being there for me, and you don't have to do anything.  But if you want to, here are a couple of things you can do for awards season:

- Read's 50 Best Indie Books is taking submissions through December 6.  Every form has three entries.  So you can submit BILLY AND THE CLONEASAURUS as well as AT HELL'S GATES, which were both published this year.  And if you're an author, you can submit your own story as well, or if you're a reader and you have a third fave, hey, the slot's open.

- If you're a member of the HWA you can recommend AT HELL'S GATES for this year's Stoker Awards.  I believe you can send one mass e-mail to the jury and post one Facebook post about it.

- The Goodreads Choice Awards are going on through November 8 (see my blogpost about it here.)  You can vote for

BILLY AND THE CLONEASAURUS (June, 2014) in the Science Fiction category


AT HELL'S GATES (September, 2014) in the Horror category

And EITHER in the general Fiction category.

So that's what you can do if you feel like it.  Thanks, everybody!

Tuesday, November 4, 2014

Election Day!

It's Election Day!  That magical time of year when people of all socioeconomic strata from across the United States come together in vague agreement that despite all the shortcomings of our system of both governance and election, hey, it beats worshipping the sun or whatever.

So get out there and vote!  Please, for the love of everything, vote.  I know my exhortation to do so isn't going to change your mind, but maybe mine will be the fifteenth or the sixteenth you've seen today, and the Katy Perry Theory will kick in and you'll just HAVE to go through with it.

And while we're talking about voting, on a slightly lighter and more self-serving note, the Goodreads elections are taking place now.  During this first round, write-ins are allowed, and while I have no illusions about my chances of either of the books I had published in 2014 making it into the next round, a guy can dream, can't he?  So, just as a reminder, if you have a Goodreads account you can vote for:

BILLY AND THE CLONEASAURUS (June, 2014) in the Science Fiction category



AT HELL'S GATES (September, 2014) in the Horror category

And you can write in EITHER for the general Fiction category.

All my other category votes are still uncast, so if you're an author with a book to sell or a reader with a favorite to gush over, go ahead and pitch me your 2014 favorites in the comments below!
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