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 30, 2015

NaNo Update #4

Wellp, it's all over.  I finished and validated on November 27.  Funny enough, I didn't write shit on the 25th, which was the day before Thanksgiving.  I'm not 100% sure why.  I mean, I had a lot of things going on due to the holiday, sure.  But I was so damn close.  Then, Thanksgiving, after the whole holiday business, I sat down and pounded it out  I was ready to quit a bit after midnight, then I just powered through and ended up finishing a little after midnight.

Well, this NaNo hasn't been quite as memorable as previous years.  Last year the heater blew and I felt like I was living a bit like a caveman, huddled up to a space heater for warmth.  In previous years I've had wild, exorbitant ups and devastating downs.  Perhaps this year was just fairly even and didn't blow my mind.  I'm glad as always that I did it.  At a minimum I made some grand progress on a contracted novel.

So how about you?  Did you make it?  Fail miserably?  Fail triumphantly?  How was your experience overall?  Let me know in the comments below.

Friday, November 27, 2015

Release Announcement: MURDER GIRLS by Christine Morgan

Hey, everybody!  A couple weeks ago I hosted a nice interview with Christine Morgan that's definitely worth going back and checking out.  At that time, her latest novel MURDER GIRLS had still not been released yet, so I wasn't able to share the back jacket copy or purchase links.  Luckily, MURDER GIRLS has since been released and I definitely want you all to get the chance to pick up a copy.  So check it out below and then head on over to Amazon to grab a copy for only $0.99!

Coming soon:

Five college housemates-brainy Rachel, sporty Jessie, angry Darlene, quiet Gwen, and mysterious Annamaria.

One ordinary evening at home, engaged in their various pursuits-studying, showering, watching a program about serial killers.

Eight little words... "I bet we could get away with it."

It was just an offhand remark. The next thing they know... there they are a body at their feet, and the pressure's on to prove those eight little words.

After all, why wouldn't they get away with it? Who'd suspect a bunch of coeds? They don't fit the usual profile, or go for the usual kind of victims. They're as smart, as strong, as cruel, and as capable as any serial killer out there.

It's time for a little payback and a little revenge. It's time for the local guys to learn about living in fear.

It's time for the MURDER GIRLS.


About Christine Morgan

Christine Morgan spent many years working the overnight shift in a psychiatric facility, which played havoc with her sleep schedule but allowed her a lot of writing time. A lifelong reader, she also reviews, beta-reads, occasionally edits and dabbles in self-publishing. Her other interests include gaming, history, superheroes, crafts, cheesy disaster movies and training to be a crazy cat lady. She can be found online on Facebook and her blog.

Wednesday, November 25, 2015

Chessiecon 2015 or Bust!

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 (27-29 November, 2015.)  For the first time (ever!) I have been invited as a guest of the con!  Other guests this year include Seanan Mcguire (aka Mira Grant) and Tamora Pierce.

As much as being a convention guest sounds like champagne fountains and gilded pillows, I'll actually be working nearly non-stop.  I have thirteen (!) panels and appearances spread out across all three days of the con.  So if you show up and you can't find me jawing at you, I'm probably asleep in my car.  And if you get sick of hearing me talk, fellow Red Adept Publishing author Mary Fan will also be a con guest.  My finalized panel schedule is as follows:

Time  Title Location
6:45 PM The Art of Bad Science Greenspring 2
8:00 PM Discussion Group: Questions From a Hat Greenspring 3-5
9:15 PM Getting Publishied in 2015 (and Beyond) Greenspring 2
Time  Title Location
10:00 AM Rethinking the Zombie Apocalypse Greenspring 3-5
11:15 AM Fantasy/Legendary Water Creatures Chesapeake 1-2
12:30 PM Turkey Awards Panel Greenspring 3-5
4:15 PM Beyond Sauron: Complex Villains and Questionable Heroes Greenspring 3-5
6:45 PM Mass signing Atrium
8:30 PM Reading (30 minutes) Greenspring 1
10:30 PM Beyond Doctor Who, Star Trek, and Buffy Greenspring 3-5
Time  Title Location
11:15 AM Military Science Fiction vs. Real Military Life Greenspring 2
12:30 PM Kaffeeklatsch Chesapeake 6
1:45 PM How Much Do I Worry About My Own Canon? Greenspring 1


6:45 PM - 7:45 PM  "The Art of Bad Science: Preparing for Your Turkey Award Submission"

A carefully crafted Turkey Award submission might include a whole lot of bad science. For example, the winner of last year's Worst Place featured a "proton hydrator". Where is the line between creatively bad science and garbage? How does a good author of bad fiction obliterate that line creatively?

Moderator:  Carl Cipra
Panelists:  Eileen Martz,  Jeff Gritman,  Steve Kozeniewski, Don Sakers
Location:  Greenspring 2

8:00 PM - 9:00 PM  "Questions From a Hat"
Guests and fans discuss answers to questions such as, "What was your first SF/F book?"; "Who would you consider the first SF author?"; "What SF character would you most hate to sit next to on a long flight?"; and others randomly chosen from fan suggestions. 

Moderator:  Andi O'Connor
Panelists:  C.S. (Celia) Friedman,  Ursula Vernon,  D.H. Aire,  Steve Kozeniewski,  Seanan McGuire
Location:  Greenspring 3-5

9:15 PM - 10:15 PM  "Getting published in 2015 (and Beyond)"

Is self-publishing the wave of the future? Or are the publishing houses still where all the talent is? A look at how and where an author might go to get a story published, and how the approaches differ depending on the publishing route.

Moderator:  Don Sakers
Panelists:  D.C. McLaughlin,  Mary Fan,  Steve Kozeniewski 
Location:  Greenspring 2


10:00 AM - 11:00 AM  "Rethinking the Zombie Apocalypse" 
We often joke about "surviving the zombie apocalypse." Is this just a cover for our anxiety about more likely forms of societal collapse? Some sustainability experts have criticised the zombie apocalypse meme for promoting the idea of survival through exclusion -- keeping out the terrifying "other" -- when we should be building resilient networks through community. What skills might we need for survival in the face of climate change and other real threats, and how do they differ from zombie apocalypse skills?

Moderator:  Elektra Hammond
Panelists:  Harrison Demchick,  Steve Kozeniewski,  Mike McPhail,  Myth Woodling
Location:  Greenspring 3-5

11:15 AM - 12:15 PM  "Fantasy / Legendary Water Creatures"
We all love Chessie, our mythological sea dragon. Equally, we've heard of merfolk, selkies, sirens, lorelei, and a host of others. What are some of the lesser-known mythological water creatures on the planet? On other planets? On fantasy worlds?

Moderator:  Vonnie Winslow Crist
Panelists:  TJ Perkins,  Michelle D. Sonnier, Steve Kozeniewski, Myth Woodling
Location:  Chesapeake 1-2

12:30 PM - 1:30 PM  "Turkey Awards Panel"
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. The panelists will decide who gets this year's dubious prizes! 

Moderator:  Don Sakers
Panelists:  Steve Kozeniewski,  Harrison Demchick,  Lee Budar-Danoff 
Location:  Greenspring  3-5

4:15 PM - 5:15 PM  "Beyond Sauron: Complex Villains and Questionable Heroes."  
In reality, neither good nor evil are found in a pure, unadulterated form. Panelists discuss how this type of simplification can affect our worldview, and present examples of more complex approaches to fictional realities.

Moderator:  Don Sakers
Panelists:  Tamora Pierce,  Intisar Khanani,  Steve Kozeniewski,  Andi O'Connor 
Location:  Greenspring 3-5
6:45 PM - 8:00 PM  "Group Book / Art / CD Signing" 

Authors, artists, and musicians gather in one room for signing/book-selling/chatting with fans.

Participants:  Michelle D. Sonnier,  Ursula Vernon,  Steve Kozeniewski,  TJ Perkins,  Cathy Hird,  Heather Rose Jones,  Intisar Khanani,  Kim Headlee,  Cristin Kist,  Jeff Gritman,  Tamora Pierce,  Steve Haug,  Margaret Carter,  Danielle Ackley-McPhail,  D.C. McLaughlin,  Mary Fan,  C.S. (Celia) Friedman,  Tom Smith,  Roberta Rogow,  Lawrence M. Schoen,  Harrison Demchick,  Karen MacLeod,  Seanan McGuire,  Charles Butler,  Vonnie Winslow Crist,  Kelly A. Harmon 
Location:  Atrium

8:30 PM - 9:00 PM  "Reading: Steve Kozeniewski" 

Excerpt from BRAINEATER JONES. Named one of the best books of 2013 by World Horror Grandmaster Brian Keene, BRAINEATER JONES is the story of a zombie private eye trying to solve his own murder. Taking place during Prohibition and full of zombies who need alcohol to curb their brainlust, BRAINEATER JONES is part noir mystery, part comedy, and part horror.

Location:  Greenspring 1

10:30 PM - 11:30 PM  "Beyond Doctor Who, Star Trek, and Buffy"

Panelists discuss the offerings of SciFi TV, including favorites and lesser-known series. What makes an SF/F show good? Are there shows we wish were better, but are worth watching because of some redeeming features? Do we watch shows we know are crappy just to support the genre in the hopes of getting TV producers to do more and better shows?

Moderator:  Don Sakers
Panelists:  Jeff Gritman,  Cathy Hird,  Steve Kozeniewski
Location:  Greenspring 3-5


11:15 AM - 12:15 PM  "Military Science Fiction vs. Real Military Life" 

Military science fiction usually focuses on a hero fighting against the enemy: sometimes the enemy is the opponent (Lensman series), sometimes the enemy is the hero's environmental limitations (Forever War), sometimes the hero's own political-military hierarchy (Shards of Honor). How realistic is the hero figure in the true nature of battle, given the current and projected technology? How does all of this change when the hero in the story is female?

Moderator:  Steve Kozeniewski
Panelists:  TJ Perkins,  Leslie Roy Carter,  Pam Smith
Location:  Greenspring 2

12:30 PM - 1:30 PM  "KaffeeKlatsch: Steve Kozeniewski" 

Location: Chesapeake 6

1:45 PM - 2:45 PM  "How Much Do I Worry About My Own Canon?"  
Writing a series? Sure, you don't want to get major things wrong, or contradict yourself. But are you creating a work of art for which you have to bend the rules sometimes -- or even do so deliberately, for effect, as M. John Harrison does in his Viriconium stories? Or is our increased awareness, through the internet, of fan readers, their concerns and reactions (and their attempts to write coherent fanfic) boxing us in? As major franchises mess with their Canon, what about us writers?

Moderator:  Don Sakers
Panelists:  Harrison Demchick,  Lawrence M. Schoen,  Danielle Ackley-McPhail, Steve Kozeniewski
Location:  Greenspring 1

Monday, November 23, 2015

Nano Update #3

Okay, I feel like I don't have a whole lot to say today, so let's spice things up by taking a look at the old leader board.  This might be (mildly) interesting to those of you who don't NaNo, and therefore don't know what, exactly, we're looking at every day, staring at us, mocking us.


So, this is a snapshot of my graph as of today.  Obviously, the x-axis is the number of days and the y-axis is the wordcount.  The gray line represents what you need to make par (1667 words per day, or enough to make up that amount.)  The brown bars represent what you actually typed.

So what are we looking at in my particular case?  Well, as you can see I basically made par or just barely over every day for the first week.  Day 7, the first Saturday of the month, represents my turnaround.  (Duh, it was a Saturday, I had time to write.)  Day 8 the lead improved, and things went swimmingly up until the 13th, which as I've mentioned before was the Friday when I only managed to knock out about 800 words. 

The 14th and 15th (Satuday and Sunday again) were two more banner days and put me back on track.  The only other day since the 13th when I failed to make par was yesterday, Day 22, when I wrote about 1300 words.  It doesn't really matter at this point unless I completely lay down on the job, because I'm at about 43,000 words and par for the 23rd is 38,000.  I'm not exactly setting the world on fire but I'm a scoche ahead.

The only other interesting thing on this chart is the flatline from yesterday to today.  If it's not otherwise obvious, that's because I haven't written any words yet today.  But I will (barring any unforeseen circumstances) so the bar graph shouldn't remain like that.

Here's a look at the stats the NaNo website provides us with:

In some ways this is more interesting than the chart.  In other ways it's less interesting.  For instance, knowing that I average 1881 words would indicate that I slightly overachieved.  It doesn't reflect the two days I fell down on the job and the four days (all weekends, I might add) when I excelled.  And, again, this chart is a bit skewed because it considers the amount I wrote today as 0, rather than, say, projecting what I'll probably write today.  Which means my actual average is probably a bit higher, etc., etc.

What is interesting about this stat bar is it always tells you your estimated rate to finish and the words per day to finish on time.  So if I had some crazy banner year and pounded out 10,000 words a day, it'd guess I'd be done by November 5.  A lot of people, of course, fall behind NaNo, and let it really affect them.  I've never been in that boat, so I don't want to be preachy, but the nice thing about NaNo is that it never rules you out.  Let's say I had only written 6000 words by today. 

He he, I just plugged that in and the result is pretty hilarious.  It projects that at my current rate I won't finish until May 11, 2016.  (Hey, that's what I get for only writing 260 words a day.)  But more to the point, it tells me I can still win if I write 5500 words a day for the next week.  I mean, that's daunting, that's especially daunting to me since I've never written that many words in a day before, but the NaNo bots never count me out.  I think that's pretty cool, all things considered.

All right, so, again, barring Fate deciding to make an ass of me, I should be well and truly finished in the next few days, with plenty of time to give you guys a full report on how I ended my run on next Monday's update.  See you then!

Friday, November 20, 2015

On "Supergirl" Pt. 2 (TV Show - aka "Suck It, Karissa")

***Okay, so on Wednesday I realized that what was supposed to be the prologue to this post had careened out of control and become an entire post unto itself.  So you can go back and read that for background or you can just jump in here and watch me school Karissa Laurel.***

"Supergirl" is pretty good.  (I never thought I'd become old enough to watch a show on CBS, but I guess all things must pass.)  The TV show really captures all my favorite elements of the comic book, and, for that matter, the greater source material.

First of all, Melissa Benoist is a delight.  I only got as far into "Glee" as about midway through the season when she first appeared before my wife and I finally gave up.  (The first season of "Glee" was pretty good and then it just disappeared up its own asshole, and by the time they tried to bring in a new crop of kids - before surreptitiously dumping them all - we were done.)  I think the producers of "Glee" must have seen in her a JV show lead and tried to see if a show with her at the center would fly (ha!), and then just said, "Fuck it." 

Luckily a few years later the producers of "Supergirl" gave her a second chance and either she's grown into her acting skills or finally been given a proper platform to display them.  Here's one thing I particularly like: when in costume she spends a lot of time with either her arms folded or her fists on her hips.  It's never commented upon, but these are the iconic poses of Superman and while in costume she seems to do them subconsciously.

One thing I was wondering about was how the pilot would unpack the backstory, and I have to say I think it did it perfectly.  One of the exhausting problems of superhero reboots of the last few years is endlessly retelling origin stories that everybody already knows.  I no longer get any sort of emotional connection with seeing Bruce Wayne's parents be shot or Spider-Man get bitten by a radioactive spider.  The 2012 Superman reboot "Man of Steel" spent what felt like an interminable amount of time on Krypton, and it all added practically nothing to the movie.  You almost forget that the first forty minutes was about Jor-El zooming around, bickering with Brainiac, etc. because it's otherwise so inconsequential to the plot.

Here's the thing.  Yeah, maybe I don't know offhand how Ant-Man or Apache Chief got their powers.  But there has been a major Superman reboot for every generation alive today.  There was the comic book in the '30s, the TV show in the '50s, the first movie series in the '70s, the cartoon series in the '90s, and, oh, hey, look, another reboot in the '10s.  That means I could ask anyone from a kid today to someone who was a kid during the Great Depression, and they would pretty much know that Superman came from Krypton when it blew up.  There's no need to belabor the point.

And where "Man of Steel" belabored and belabored it, "Supergirl" pretty much breezily blew past it.  I think the entire origin story was about 2-5 minutes of screen time which boiled down to, "Look, you know my cousin's deal, my deal is basically the same but I grew up on Krypton and I'm younger than him because, you know, time dilation." 

And this steady clip didn't let up for the whole pilot.  There was no dragging out the whole "refusing the call to greatness."  Again, within the first ten minutes Kara had seen her foster sister in trouble, which added an emotional element to the proceedings, saved her plane, basically outed herself to the world, and decided she'd have to be a superhero after all.  No angst.  No brooding.  No Hamlet-style indecision.

A couple of breezy costume jokes and by the halfway point of the first episode we're off to the races.  Compare that to another show I was really excited about this year, "The Bastard Executioner," which squandered an hour and a half of pilot before finally, finally explaining its premise in the last thirty seconds.  It's about pacing, and "Supergirl" (at least so far) has great pacing.

One thing I'm a little leery about, but I'm also pretty stoked about, is that "Supergirl" chooses to address all of its criticisms head-on.  It's very meta.  I think the producers must have been expecting a huge amount of lashback, and were probably pleasantly surprised to see that so far fan reception has been pretty good.  But baked into the DNA of the show is a lot of meta self-justification.

So for instance, in the first episode, they address the use of the name "Supergirl."  Two characters just straight up have a conversation about it. 

"Isn't it a little corny, isn't it a little sexist, isn't it a little stuck in the '70s?  Why not update it to Superwoman or something?" says Supergirl herself in her alter ego.

"There's nothing inherently wrong with being a girl.  You can consider it diminutive or you can consider it empowering to be a girl.  And Supergirl is iconic - it's not like we can just change the name now," replies her boss.

It's a clunky conversation and not really one you'd have in real life, but it shows that the producers were anticipating these concerns, and that they are trying to address them.  In another episode shock jock turned supervillain Livewire complains that Supergirl is trying too hard to be "adorkable."  And I didn't even consciously realize until they brought it up themselves that this concern was legitimate.  I remember when Fox was trying to foist Zoey Deschanel on us as the "New Girl" how everything was about how "adorkable" (read: Manic Pixie Dream Girl) she was.  And thank God that turned out to be not the case for that show. 

And thank God the "Supergirl" people are aware of it and are trying to avoid it, too.  And, to my thinking, doing pretty well.  Kara lacks confidence but she's never goofy and wacky.  She's (dare I say it) a bit nuanced.  Hell, even Supergirl lacks confidence, but she realizes she can address that by asking her friends and mentors for help.  It's a very (forgive me for generalizing here) feminine attitude, and one I wouldn't expect to see addressed in a superhero show starring a male.  It's very much a thing that Buffy would do, to build a team to help cover all her weaknesses, despite the fact that she's technically the one with super-powers.

One point where I think the "Supergirl" producers overdo predicting the backlash is with the heavy shadow that Superman himself and "Superman" the franchise casts over the proceedings.  Perhaps they thought that "Man of Steel" was still fresh in everyone's minds.  But it's been three years since that movie and I don't know if Henry Cavill has become the de facto Superman for anybody yet.  Supergirl spends a lot of time in the show lamenting living in her cousin's shadow.  And the producers devote a lot of time, both in the first episode and in almost an entire other episode on the subject, to pointing out how different Supergirl and Superman are.

I don't think they need to try so hard.  I think Supergirl has a different feel to Superman, and always has.  Yes, part of it is about living with sexism in general and living in a great man's shadow specifically.  But that should just inform the show, not be an obsession.  Kara doesn't need to constantly be saying, "I'm not Clark!"  We know you're not Clark.  You're already doing a good job of it.  Now get confident about it, damn it.

All right, I think I've waxed on enough about this show and other people have already said basically what I have to say better than I ever could already.  It's nice to have a female superhero on TV.  It's nice to have one who's so well characterized.  It's nice to have one who doesn't need to be dark and moody or some kind of assassin with a dark past.  It's nice to see someone excited about having superpowers, and not getting all grimdark about it which has seemed to be a requirement in the post-Watchmen era.  "Supergirl" is almost so retro it seems like it's covering new ground.  And all things considered, for Christ's sake, it's just a TV show.  Melissa Benoist doesn't need to be the next Susan B. Anthony.  She just has to put on entertaining show, and she does that quite well. 

(QED, Karissa.  Why don't you stuff that in your pipe and smoke it?)

Wednesday, November 18, 2015

On "Supergirl" Pt. 1 (Comic Books)

***Foreword:  As often happens with me, I started a blogpost on one topic and ended up veering off in a completely different direction.  I wanted to write about the new "Supergirl" TV series, and spent so long on the prologue about my history and thoughts on the comic book version of Supergirl, I realized I had a whole other post.  So I'm going to split it up and talk about comics today, then Friday I'll wade into the TV show.***

Now that we're four episodes in, I feel confident in finally telling off fellow author Karissa Laurel re: her tepid response to the new "Supergirl" series.

I've never been much by way of a comic book fan.  In fact, I could probably list the comics I've read in my lifetime without taking my shoes off.  Actually, that might be an interesting exercise.  Let's do that:

"Supergirl" (1996ish?)
"The Atlantis Chronicles" (also around 1996)
"Batgirl" (2004 or 2005 with Cassandra Cain and 2012, the Stephanie Brown Batgirl)
"Johnny the Homicidal Maniac"
"The Killing Joke"
"Venom" (199...3?)
"Hellblazer."  Or maybe "Hellstorm."  Can't remember which exactly.  He was the son of Satan.  Maybe one of you helpful comic book fans can let me know in the comments.
"Black Orchid"
A few "Sandman" issues

And I think that's about it.  That's all I can think of, anyway.  And those last four there were ones I stole (borrowed?) from my sister.  Now that I think about it, this is a pretty eclectic mix.  And that's probably my sister's fault, since she pretty much singularly dictated my taste in comics as a non-comic reader.

Oh, but my friend Scott Dubin found me terribly uneducated and insisted I read those first three there.  "Watchmen" for obvious reasons, but "Supergirl" and "Atlantis" because of the incredible mid-90s writing of Peter David.  The point may have been to prove something about how comics were art, though I don't recall ever protesting very heavily that they weren't.  For one thing, I was 14 and didn't know art from the hole in my ass, and for another thing considering I had mostly read "Sandman" up to that point I was pretty well aware that comics were art.

Shit.  Now this is becoming a blogpost about comics.  Okay, let's get back on track.  ***Note: this never actually happened.  See above.***

The point is, Supergirl has always been one of my favorite comic book characters.  For one thing, as a straight guy, in any given graphic art form I'd rather be staring at a girl than a guy.  (The same reason the animator decided to make the Tomb Raider a woman instead of a man.  I think he said something like, "If I have to stare at a pixelated ass for eight hours a day, it's going to be an ass I enjoy staring at.") 

But aside from that adolescent reason as a starting point, one of the things I always loved about Batgirl and Supergirl was that they always had to deal with the issues of being a woman in a male-dominated industry.  Whether handled well or handled terribly it was something that the writers pretty much couldn't ignore.  And it's not all that hard to draw the obvious parallels between the superhero "business" and something like the military, police force, or business world in the real world. 

Batgirl and Supergirl had to live in the shadow of powerful men.  They may have been just as powerful but they would never be Batman or Superman.  They had trouble being taken seriously.  Sure, sometimes the villains were just overtly, outrageously sexist.  In fact, they quite often were.  But more often Batgirl and Supergirl were dealing with the little things, what we would call today institutional sexism and microaggressions. 

"Supergirl" at the time that I read it was getting into some particularly heady (read: batty) stuff.  God was real and he was a little boy with a baseball bat and Supergirl was not Kara Zor-El but rather Linda Danvers, a half goo/half angel-type creature (yeah, I don't know.)  But in spite of all the wackiness (and a fair amount of what we in the '90s would've called wackness) it was still a story about a girl in high school trying to deal with all that bullshit and the transformation into Supergirl (read: puberty) that's supposed to make everything better but turns out to just be a gigantic pain in the ass. 

And, yeah, this is well-worn territory.  It's basically Spider-Man's entire shtick.  But boys and girls face very different issues in puberty, as much as we all face the same ones.  Supergirl is invincible physically, sure, but she's vulnerable emotionally.  The difference between that and Spider-Man is that men are supposed to be stoic and learn to repress all emotion and become Don Draper by the time they're 18, but girls are supposed to have a more nuanced relationship with their inner selves.  (Yes, I understand I'm generalizing a lot, here, but this is somewhat complicated subject matter, despite the fact I'm talking about a comic book.)

So, for instance, no one's supposed to go running home crying when someone trips them and their books fall all over the floor.  (Now that I think about it, getting tripped and having your books fall all over the floor seems to happen a whole lot more in pop culture than I ever remember it happening in real life.  But I digress.)  Spider-Man, or a guy in general, is supposed to build up his backbone until he finally lights-outs the guy who did it, and then there's all the cheering because he beat up the bully, and that all feeds into beating up guys as a superhero. 

A girl, though, wouldn't typically solve her problems with macho bullshit.  In the same situation, I dunno, she might have to find out why the girl who tripped her was being a jerk, and then it turns out she comes from a bad home, and, you know, there are any number of story paths.  And that also has an interesting connection with how you're supposed to behave as a superhero.

One of my favorite relationships in comics was always the friendship between Batgirl and Supergirl.  Batman and Superman are also friends, but again, it's a very macho bullshit friendship, predicated on who can beat the other up, and grudgingly every once in a while admitting mutual respect.  Batgirl and Supergirl, though, were basically sisters.  They confided in each other, they hung out together, sometimes in costume, sometimes not.  In addition to being female superheroes, which is tough enough already, they had the added bond of always being in their more famous namesake's shadow. 

All right, this is already a full blogpost at this point, and I haven't even gotten to the new show yet, so I'll just let this sleeping dog lie and let this be my post on comics and "Supergirl" specifically.  I'll be back on Friday with thoughts on the TV show.

Monday, November 16, 2015

NaNo Update #2

HAWM, fellow NaNoers!  If you are not already, make sure to friend me over on the NaNoWriMo site.

So, after last week's update I'm feeling pretty good about the blog this year.  I've been reporting in about NaNo, but also keeping up the regular posts, and that makes me feel good.  This might just be the sweet spot I'll be going for in future years.  In the past, November's often been either me frantically talking about nothing but NaNo, or the exact opposite, I'm so sick of it that I want to talk about anything but when I'm on here.  I think weekly updates is the sweet spot, though, so I'm going to try to remember that for next year.

So what is this week's update?  Well, I'm happy to report I'm standing pretty at about 31K words.  By the end of today I'm supposed to have about 27K (and I anticipate, barring any unforeseen circumstances, I'll be at about 33K.)  So, for all intents and purposes I'm about 6K words ahead of schedule.

Now, you'll remember I was fretting last week about just barely keeping my head above water and how I had been gunning for a "beautiful day" - 5K or maybe even 10K words to just boost me into the stratosphere.  Well, as it turned out, my strategy shift away from that stupidity succeeded.  Last week I just tried to steadily have 2K word days, and a few times I clocked in at 3K, almost two days work.  I never had a "beautiful day," not even on one of the 6 Saturdays, Sundays, and holidays we've had so far this month. 

I did have one day, Friday, where I just absolutely fell down on the job and only clocked about 800 words.  I hate doing that, and it's one of the reasons I hate getting too far ahead, because the temptation to say, "Oh, I'm ahead, I can take today off" is very great.  So let me give you a word of advice, fellow NaNoers: never (and I mean never) take a day off because you're ahead.  It will inevitably bite you in the ass.  It will lead to two, three, four days off and then you're behind.

So I'm treating Friday as a fluke.  I didn't mean to underachieve, and I didn't set out to take a day off because I was ahead, it just sort of happened.  And those days will just sort of happen, which is precisely the reason you need to do a little more than the bare minimum as much as you can.

Okay, so what else?  Well, some of you may be wondering what I'm working on.  The answer is I'm working on HUNTER OF THE DEAD, which is actually a contracted piece for Sinister Grin Press.  HotD originated as a script I wrote in 2002/2003 at a time when I was sick to death of artsy fartsy bullshit in vampire movies - yeah, this was way before TWILIGHT - and it was my ode to the folklore.  It's changed quite a bit since then, as these things do, and it had dropped off my radar for a long time, but my good friend John Waxler has always insisted that this was my best work and I had to make a novel out of it.  To that end, he fronted $100 to "hire" me to write the HotD novel. 

After a few publisher implosions and other things that I don't want to get into publicly, and almost two years later, it's finally happening.  So, something I've been struggling with for a solid two years, something that's existed for thirteen, something I've started over and scrapped completely at least 6 times, is finally coming to fruition.  And it's doing so because of NaNo.  Because I'm forcing myself to jump through these hoops, and as I do, the novel is crystallizing before my eyes.  The NaNo process is even forcing solutions into places I didn't know where there. 

This is why I NaNo, and when folks pooh-pooh it, I always remember that this month is when I do my best work.  It doesn't have to work for you.  It just has to work for the folks it works for, like me.  Okay, I'm starting to get a little preachy here so it's probably time to sign off.  Toodle-oo and good luck, everybody!

Friday, November 13, 2015

How a Man Should Act

So, the New York Times published a stupid fucking article by a writer named Brian Lombardi about how men are supposed to act.  What's stupid about this article is not that it contains broad advice that might apply across the spectrum of 200 million human beings who happen to have dicks in this country, let alone 3.5 billion across the world, but that it broke down what I presume to be Lombardi's individual personal idiosyncrasies and presented them as universally correct.  This includes obvious matters of taste, like music (Wu-Tang Klan), movies (Michael Mann), and his daughter's taste in breakfast (apple doughnuts.)  Stupid.

Then in response Mike Rowe, who I think is a television host or something, penned this stupid fucking Facebook post refuting pretty much every point Lombardi made and then replacing them with his own individual personal idiosyncrasies!  You see, Rowe prefers steel-toed boots to Oxfords, renting movies to owning, and whiskey to soda because obviously pure unadulterated testosterone flows through his veins in place of blood.  Equally as stupid.

I am now in the position of being stupider for having read something, two somethings, in fact, which is not a position I like to put myself in.  I am hoping that at least one or both of these gentlemen wrote their lists ironically, with the point being feel free to be your fucking self, but if so, that point was left unclear.  And since I have allowed myself to be drawn into this moronic train of thought on this lovely autumnal morning, I have decided to set the record straight once and for all, with my own list about how a man should act.  Consider this the final word on the matter:

1.  Act however you want to act.  Define your own life, because no one else is going to hoe this row for you.

(Oh, by the way, you can feel free to follow that advice even if you're not a man.)

QED, motherfuckers.

Monday, November 9, 2015

NaNo Update #1

Okay, I made a couple of promises last week.   The first was that I wouldn't abandon normal blogging this month entirely, and after Friday's ass-chapping post and even Wendesday's cover reveal I'm feeling pretty good about that one.  The other one, though, was that I would keep you more up to date on how NaNo's going this year. 

In the early years of this blog, when I didn't have a whole Hell of a lot else to talk about, I talked about NaNo a lot in November.  Now I've got so many irons in the fire, I noticed last year I barely talked about it at all.  So, going forward let's try for a happy medium.

I'm happy(ish) with my wordcount right now of 16,025.  My target wordcount for today is 15,000 and I haven't started writing yet, so actually I'm closer to two days ahead of schedule than one. 

So how's it been going?  Well, not glorious.  My first few years I really sat down at midnight on Halloween and tried to crank out a few thousand words and get off to a good start.  This year, I didn't do that, and I was scarcely ahead of the bell curve at all this week.  I'm satisfied that I haven't really blown any days off, or come in under schedule at all, but I usually don't like to be playing it this close to the bone at all, and I'm not happy that after 9 days I'm still playing it this close to the bone.

All week I kept saying to myself, "All I need is one beautiful day."  And I do.  But I still do.  I was hoping to make that Saturday and Sunday this past week, or at least a combination of the two, but only being two days ahead of schedule was not my goal.  I wanted to sit down and crack out ten thousand words one day.

Realistically, though, that's not going to happen.  The most I've ever written on one day, and this was when I was fired up and sat down for nearly a solid uninterrupted eight hours was five thousand words.  So I know the day I write ten thousand words, well, it might be coming, but it's more of a pipe dream than anything else.  It's something I keep telling myself will come.

All that being said, I think I've finally passed through the gunk phase.  I may talk about this more, but I think last night I finally figured out what was clipping my word count.  I was struggling to try to put together the beginning of a story I've started and restarted several times.  Last night I realized maybe I was going about it the wrong way.  Maybe what I really had to do was recreate the ending, and then spool it back from there.  Without all the same mental issues of hitting a barrier so many times with the ending (which is the issue I kept running into with the beginning) I feel a little more space to breathe. 

So for those of you who question the value of NaNo...this right here is why I do it.  Forcing yourself to jump the hurdle every day forces you to think about new ways to do that, which forces you to think about new ways to solve your story problems, and new ways to approach your story.

So now what I'm thinking is, maybe instead of going for one beautiful day, I'm going to have one slightly overachieving week.  If I go for a solid two, maybe three thousand words every day this week, I should be a lot closer to where I like to work for NaNo, being a good five-to-ten thousand words ahead and clocking out ASAP on the 25th.

And...with that, what I was expecting to be a very brief update turned into a regular-length post.  Maybe I really do have enough thoughts about NaNo to keep it interesting this year.  Oh, and of course, if you are participating this year, make sure to friend me!  We'll see you on Wednesday for...I'm not really sure what.  But we'll find out then.

Friday, November 6, 2015

On Working for Exposure

Meet The Don't Work for Exposure Fairy!
I'm going to ruffle some feathers here.  Actually, I'm probably not because nobody reads this blog, but in theory if there were feathers here to ruffle I would be about to ruffle them.  That's because I'm about to question inherited wisdom, and if there's one thing that pisses people off, it's questioning inherited wisdom.

So, Wil Wheaton wrote an article that sort of seized the authorial blogosphere by storm last week.  You should go check it out, of course, as I recommend everyone does check all the footnotes when trying to be well-educated on any subject, but as I also always do, I will simply sum it up for you here for the tl;dr crowd.

Basically, Wheaton wrote a blogpost (much like this one) and someone from the Huffington Post approached him and asked if they could share it on their site.  Wheaton asked to be paid and they declined, and everyone was pretty much respectful to each other and that's the end of the story portion of the article.

Then, in the time-honored tradition of people rich enough to whom it doesn't matter whether they turn down good opportunities or not, Wil took to task the very concept of writing for exposure.  As I said, you can read the article for the non-misrepresented-by-me story, but this argument boils down to a couple of bullet points:

- writers should be paid for every word they write
- other professionals like doctors and plumbers get paid when they doct and/or plumb
- exposure is not measurable in pounds sterling and therefore doesn't count as anything

Still tl;dr?  Check out this cartoon from The Oatmeal, then.  It basically sums up the concept.

Actually, before I get into this, let's look at some more background information.  First of all, Wil Wheaton is a famous actor.  He got famous in the '80s from Star Trek, where his character was much disliked.  He then got re-famous in the '00s for being an internet personality and trying to explain how character ≠ actor.

Huffington Post (which we'll just call HuffPo for brevity's sake, not that I've been particular brev up until now) is a news aggregator site.  They don't produce content, they collect the best content from around the web and put it in one spot.  This is all very fishy/dicey and could be the subject of a whole other blogpost or perhaps book.  But that being said, HuffPo according to its own presumably biased sources, has a reach of 84 million hits a week.

Okay, is the stage set and dressed?  Have I been more or less fair to all of the players? 

Now, here's my question.  If Wheaton thought his original blogpost was good enough that he ought to be paid for it...why did he post it for free on his blog?  So that leads us into tackling our first bullet point:

- writers should be paid for every word they write

Okay, so, I'm just going to put this out there: this is a stupid concept.  This is a really fucking stupid concept.  Look, even when you write words for a living there are words that you get paid for (novels, short stories, poems) and there are words you don't get paid for (texts, FB posts, tweets) and the fact that I even have to explicate that is kind of making me feel dumber.

And let's just be 100% clear here: blogposts are not something you should get paid for.  I don't expect somebody to pay me to write this.  You want to know why I'm writing this?  In all honesty?  100%?


Yes, I maintain a blog so that even when they're not reading my novels and shorts and the stuff I do get paid for, my readers, fans, and, yeah, total randos who happen to stumble across me (and then maybe become readers and fans...?) are enjoying getting to know me.  This is part of the deal, even for professionals, kids.  You have to be "available" to a reasonable extent to your fanbase and in the age of social media if you can't keep up with every tweet and FB post, sometimes it comes through having a blog.  Maybe you put out a blogpost and say, "Golly, jeepers I've been super busy, sorry I haven't been getting to all your tweets and FB posts."  Whatever.

But, okay, let's say we were talking about words you're supposed to be paid for instead of words you write for free.  I don't see how you can really make that argument about a blogpost, but okay, let's say we were.  Let's say we treated the blogpost as an article for an online news source, which is something that you should get paid for.  It's a stretch, but okay.

What Wheaton did was he posted his "article" on his blog already.  He already published it (yes, clicking the "publish" button on Blogger or Wordpress or whatever counts as publication for professional purposes.)  So what he's really trying to do is sell second publishing rights. 

I've published multiple trunked novels on this blog, for instance.  If I went and tried to sell those (already published) novels to an agent or a press, I'd be selling second publishing rights.  I won't say this never happens - for instance, FIFTY SHADES OF GRAY sold second publishing rights because it was self-pubbed first, and JOHN DIES AT THE END sold second publishing rights because it was serialized online first, and those both went on to popular, Big 5 success.  But it's pretty rare that it happens, and typically second publishing rights are not as valuable as first publishing rights. 

Okay, so to reiterate this point, Wheaton posted something on his blog - in other words, he wrote some shit for free - then someone came along and said, "Say, if I share this content of yours, you'll get somewhere between 0 and 84 million more eyes on your words."  And Wheaton turned that down.

Okay, fair enough.  That's his decision and he made it.

But then he turns around and writes a blogpost - again, for free - about how he turned this opportunity down.  And what does Wil Wheaton get out of writing this second blogpost?

Exposure.  Which is the same thing he said he was turning down out of principle.

Let me tell you something about Wil Wheaton.  I don't know Wil Wheaton from Adam.  From what I know, he sounds like a very nice guy.  But Wil Wheaton was on "Star Trek."  Wil Wheaton will never want for exposure in his life.  He has been world famous since he was a child.

If Wil Wheaton decides to write a book, I can guarantee you that agents will fight over it, it will be picked up by a Big 5 House, he'll get at least a 6-figure advance, and it will be a bestseller.

And you know what?  If Wil Wheaton decides never to write another book in his life, he has a backup source of income in the convention circuit.  There is not a convention in the United States, possibly the world, that would not at a minimum pay for his travel, lodging, and expenses (and quite likely an appearance fee) to show up.  And that's before the lines out the door of people willing to pay $50 for his autograph.  I say $50 very conservatively, because I've seen SyFy movie of the week actors get paid that.  A "Star Trek: The Next Generation" star?  He could probably get away with $200 an autograph.  I'm just guessing here.

I've also done the convention circuit.  I had to pay all my expenses.  I had to pay for travel, lodging, and food.  I had to pay for a table and pay for a ticket, and if I wanted to appear in the program, I had to pay for that, too.  And that was all for maybe the chance that someone might want to buy one of my books.

In other words...I was paying for exposure.

Wil Wheaton (and, just to be clear, I love him, I am a fan) will never have any concept what it's like to require publicity.  He's been famous since he was a child.  Wil Wheaton probably turns down more opportunities a month than I have ever had.

But here's the thing: nobody calls me a dummy for paying for advertising.  The same people who make a big stink about not doing for-the-love (FTL) or for-the-exposure work will also say that I am very wise to advertise myself in every way I can.  No one has ever told me to spend less on advertising, in fact, they have quite often told me I'm not advertising enough, not pimping myself enough.

But, gentle reader, I have to ask, at its core, what is advertising?

It's paying for exposure.

So out of one end of their mouths, a choir tells me to pay for exposure, and out of the other end this same choir insists that I not give my work away for exposure because it may have a technical value.  I don't know what to say to that.  Which leads us to our next bullet point:

- other professionals like doctors and plumbers get paid when they doct and/or plumb

So, this is true.  Professionals get paid to do what they are good at.  And we all know the story of Picasso, after being asked to draw a circle and asking for 1000 pesos for it saying, "Yes, it only took me thirty seconds to draw it, but it took me thirty years to learn how to draw it."

Yes, we pay a doctor exorbitant amounts of money to hand us a bottle of aspirin because he went to medical school to learn how to hand us a bottle of aspirin.  And, yes, in theory, you should pay a writer because he spent 10,000 hours (or one million words) to become a master of his craft.

But this argument only holds so much water with me.  Because you know what?

Professionals give shit away for free, too.

Have you ever been to the supermarket on a Sunday?  Taken a bite of that free cookie?  Did it ever occur to you that a professional baker baked that?  That maybe you should've paid for that baker's time instead of taking a bite of their damn cookie for free, you dirty, stinking thief?


Of course you've never thought that.  Because the baker understands that by giving away little cookie slices, he gets the customer interested in buying his cookies.  It's why there are coupons in your newspaper for plumbers to swing by your house for a free plumbing inspection.  It's why there are masseuses and masseurs who set up stands at the county fair and give away free five minute massages.  Because if you like your free massage or cookie or plumbing inspection or goddamn blogpost, maybe the customer will buy something from you.

Again, this is all part and parcel of advertising.  Getting your name out there.  I understand that famous people don't have to do this anymore.  We all want to be famous so that people will beg for our time.  But as long as we're in the trenches, trying to become famous, you're telling me I shouldn't be selling myself?

Let me tell you about the trenches.  I'm 33 damn years old.  I've been published for two years.  I have fought and slaved and screamed and rended my garments for every single sale I have ever made.  I have given out thousands of free copies of my books to reviewers on the slim hope that they might review it and grant me a modicum of exposure.  (That's solicited, by the way, not unsolicited.)

Every fan I have I have sweated for.  Every review I have I have jumped through my ass for.  Wil Wheaton will never have to jump through his ass to win a fan.  Taylor Swift will never have to sweat to win a fan.  Taylor Swift has been world famous since she was 16 goddamn years old, and Wil Wheaton even longer.  So when I hear stories about how Wil Wheaton boldly turned down HuffPo, or Taylor Swift sang truth to power to Spotify, there's only so excited I can get about that.  There's only so much I can relate to that.

And you know why?  Because for me, the battle is not between a good and a bad reputation.  The battle is not between making a little money and compromising my principles.  For me, the battle is between exposure and complete and utter obscurity.

Which leads us to our final point:

- exposure is not measurable in pounds sterling and therefore doesn't count as anything

Exposure has value.  Look, people, Coca-Cola is quite possibly the most ubiquitous brand on the planet.  And they still advertise.  McDonald's is bigger than Jesus.  And they advertise the fuck out of their brand.

The United States fucking Army advertises.  The United States fucking Postal Service advertises.

You know why?

Because exposure has value.

I know, I know, I'm not going to win any friends for saying this.  I'm probably supposed to shut up and toe the party line and say, "Yeah, writers deserve to be paid!"  Well, sure, writers deserve to be paid.  Obviously.  But a writer needs to prove himself first.  A writer needs to develop a platform first.

Look at the way the writing world has changed since the '90s.  You know what is the ubiquitous, inescapable watchword of the 21st century?  Platform.  Writers don't get to come at this brave new world without a platform.  They need Twitter, Facebook, a blog, a website, Tumblr, Instagram, God all knows what else.  

YouTube stars are getting book deals.  I personally know people who have gotten book deals from having popular blogs.  I have also personally been turned down by agents for not having a big enough platform.  Someone like The Oatmeal, who has a platform of millions of followers, confuses me when he weighs in on a subject like this.  Didn't he spend years doing hard work and giving it away for free to develop a platform big enough that he's now in a position to make money off of his books and merchandise?  I know I've read dozens of Oatmeal comics, and I've never paid a dime for one of them, because he gives them away for free on his blog for...(wait for it)...exposure!  And then chastises other writers not to work for exposure!  What the fuck am I not understanding here?

Here's a question.  Why do you think someone like John Kasich or Rick Perry or Lincoln Chafee runs for president?  I'm being 100% serious here.  John Kasich will not be president in 2016.  That's a guarantee.  (You read it here first!  Manuscripts Burn scoop!)  I know that.  You know that.  John fucking Kasich knows that.  So why run?  Why waste everybody's time?  Does he secretly think he's going to dark horse it in somehow?

Hell no.  The reason half the people who run for political office do so is to raise their public profile.  They take on the humiliation of a cruel media and an indifferent populace because it will get them on TV.  As Gore Vidal said, "Never turn down a chance to have sex or be on television."  It will not only get them on television, in the newspapers, on the internet in places like HuffPo (hmmm...), it will even get them mentioned in the same company as the person who really will be in president in 2016, and all of his (well, actually her, obviously) serious contenders.

Running for office - running for president, in particular - is a great way to get your name out there.  And then what do half these people do?  They leverage their new fame for either a cushy lobbying job, maybe a second crack at the office next election cycle when they're better known, or a fucking book deal.

Being famous sells books.  It sells TV ratings.  It sells internet ad copy.  In the 1980s or whenever, it sold newspapers.  Being famous is a commodity.  

So when Wil Wheaton or Taylor Swift or The Oatmeal, who are each more famous than I will likely ever be, tell me to fight the good fight and not trade a few hours of my time as a professional author producing a work for the chance at some exposure, you'll forgive me if I take it with a grain of salt.

And here endeth the feather-ruffling.  Please do let me know how wrong I am in the comments below.

Wednesday, November 4, 2015


If you follow me on Facebook, Twitter, or even on my group blog Across the Board (and why wouldn't you be following me all those places and more?) you've already seen the cover to my upcoming novel.  So to everyone who treats Manuscripts Burn as their indispensable first stop for all Kozeniewski news, I apologize.  October turned out to be so jam-packed with seasonal posts and special guests that I never had a chance to post it, and I figured November will be a better time anyway as I'm NaNoing and could use some non-labor intensive blogposts.

Quite the beaut, eh?  If you didn't check out the evolution of a book cover blogpost on ATB, you really should.  It's a fun time.
You know what?  I was about to write a brief synopsis, but you know what I think would be more interesting?  Why don't you tell me in the comments what you think the plot is, based on the cover alone?  (No fair cheating if I've already told you what it's about.)  I'd be interested to see if it conveys as much of the plot as I think it does.  Should be a fun experiment anyway.  So fire away!

Monday, November 2, 2015


Hey there, cats and kittens!  It's November, and you know what that means alllll across the writing community:


For those of you who don't know, every November is Na(tional) No(vel) Wri(ting) Mo(nth.)  The rules are simple:

30 days.

50,000 words.

Now, a lot of people, including some professional writers, like to pooh-pooh NaNo.  "Every month is novel writing month for me," they'll sometimes say or, "50,000 words isn't really a novel," or "writing isn't a competition."  It's all well and good if you can't or don't wish to participate.  Hey, people have shit to do, and not everyone can wrap up all of their business on October 31 and dive into a month of writing.  Hell, I spent the last two weekends in a mega-marathon of editing to try to knock some semblance of order into a novel I'm contracted to release in December.  (More on that later this week.)

For the most part, though, I think of this attitude as akin to saying, "Why watch the Olympics?  I can watch athletic competitions any time at the local Y."  Yeah, man, I get it.  Not everyone is into this stuff.  But for those of us who are, NaNo is an event.  It's about the camaraderie.  It's about the commiseration.  It's about sharing what is otherwise a lonely, often bitter calling and/or profession with a world full of comrades.

Yes, a lot of them are n00bs.  So, what, are you fucking Obi-Wan Kenobi?  Then go help them out!  Be a fountain, not a drain.  Obi-Wan didn't say, "Oh, Luke, you are such a fucking loser for still being excited about Force pulls and shit." 

I don't even mind dealing with the n00bs.  You know why?  Because their attitude is so positive, they are so not yet ground down by the publishing industry, that they remind me of the spark of why I started doing this in the first place.

Oh, yeah, and all three of my published novels were NaNo babies.  Now, that being said, I sure as shit didn't boot the 120,000 word GHOUL ARCHIPELAGO out the door the day after NaNo.  But still, NaNo has been good to me, and NaNo has been good for me, and if nothing else, at least for one month out of the year I have no excuses to just watch a little more TV instead of writing because writing is hard.

Anyway, perhaps the lady is protesting too much.  So let's just say if you're participating this year, I'd be just tickled pink if you'd add me as a buddy.  Personally, I love having buddies to compete with  My insanely competitive nature really drives my word count into the stratosphere.

I'm not going to abandon the blog for the month.  I'm sure things will still grind my gears in November, so you'll probably get at least a few regular blogposts, and the Year of Interviewing Dangerously is far from over.  But for the most part expect some low-key, low priority posts, probably appraising you of my NaNo progress or thoughts on the whole matter.  That's where my effort is going to be directed for the next month.  Hope to see you there!
Enter your e-mail address in the box below and click "Subscribe" to join Stephen Kozeniewski's Mailing List for Fun and Sexy People. (Why the hell would anyone ever want to join a mailing list?)