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."

Wednesday, December 28, 2016


I know, I know, the blog's been pretty much wall-to-wall videos lately.  So why not one more?  Check out the trailer for the upcoming BILLY AND THE CLONEASAURUS audiobook, narrated by the inimitable Steve Rimpici!

Monday, December 26, 2016

New Year's Party Con or Bust!

Hey everybody!  In case you haven't been obsessively clicking my 2016 Schedule for updates (and, seriously, what kind of fan are you if you haven't?) it turns out I have one last appearance in me for 2016, verging into my very first appearance of 2017.  That's right, I'm going to be attending New Year's Partycon from December 30 to January 1!

The con's going to be held at the Holiday Inn Lehigh Valley on I-78 near Allentown, Pennsylvania.  The address is:

7736 Adrienne Dr.
Breinigsville, PA 18031

I'm going to have a table in Artist's Alley all weekend.  All five of my novels will be available in paperback.  My frequent convention partner and science fiction author Mary Fan will be there, but Saturday only, so plan around that if you want to meet Mary.  Autographs are free, and we'll have our own books available for sale for $12 apiece for a single purchase or $10 apiece for more than one.  We accept cash or credit.  I've also promised to do a little dance for anyone who asks, free of charge.

And as if you needed any reason to come other than me, titan of the industry and my personal hero Brian Keene will also be at the convention, signing autographs and selling books.  (No word yet on whether he will be performing little dances.)  You can also meet horror author Mary San Giovanni (the progenitor of the Slender Man myth), Marvel Comics artist Steve Geiger, author Michael DiBaggio, and many, many more.

You can find more information on the con's Facebook page or website.

Wednesday, December 21, 2016

Monday, December 19, 2016

Friday, December 16, 2016

Holiday Gift-Giving Guides #5 and #6: BILLY AND THE CLONEASAURUS and FAT ZOMBIE

Best for:

- Simpsons fans
- older millennials
- science fiction fans

Available now at Amazon!

Best for:

- horror fans
- Walking Dead fans
- twisted minds

Available now at Amazon!

Wednesday, December 14, 2016

Holiday Gift-Giving Guides #3 and #4: THE GHOUL ARCHIPELAGO and BRAVE NEW GIRLS

Best for:

- horror fans
- Walking Dead fans
- Russian literature fans
- classical literature fans

Available now at Amazon!

Best for:

- girls in grades 5-10
- science fiction fans
- fans of math
- fans of science
- fans of computers

Available now at Amazon!

Monday, December 12, 2016

Holiday Gift-Giving Guides #1 and #2: BRAINEATER JONES and AT HELL'S GATES

Hey, everybody!  Last year I made a couple of totally self-serving last-minute gift-giving guides for the holidays season.  Still, if you're stuck on what to buy for somebody, they could actually help.  I have (at least) two more to make this year, but first I'm going to run through the six I've already made, and since it's already December 12 (!) we're going to double them up for the next week.  Enjoy!

Best for:

- mystery fans
- humor fans
- horror fans
- Humphrey Bogart fans

 Available now at Amazon!

Best for:

- veterans
- police officers
- first responders

Volume I
Volume II
Volume III

Friday, December 9, 2016


Hey all! 

I don't usually toot my own horn about reviews here on the blog.  I just keep a running tab here.  Every once in a while, though, a review is so mind-boggling or flattering that I just have to share.  And earlier this week I was absolutely floored when I clicked on a seventeen minute YouTube video which I assumed was one of those porno come-ons where they just happen to include your book cover at the beginning so people will click on it.  Instead, though, it turned out to be a thorough exegesis by reviewer and Teslan super-fan Erik Smith!

So if you liked HUNTER OF THE DEAD even a little book, I'm thinking you'll be tickled pink by Erik's review.  Check it out!  Click like!  Subscribe!  All that good stuff we should do for people we support.

Wednesday, December 7, 2016

NaNo Update

Hey kids!

Sorry I've been out of pocket for almost the last two weeks.  I'm not really sure what happened.  I guess I used to compose blogposts at work and things have been getting hectic.

So it probably seems a little late now, but here's a little check-in on my NaNoWriMo this year.  I did, indeed, win, as I have every year since I started in 2009.  For those of you interested in my statistics, here they are:

And in graphic form:

Now for a brief analysis as I do every year as well.  As you can see, I started the month just barely squeaking by.  I normally like to get a solid buffer in the first few days, ideally after midnight Halloween night when possible.  That didn't happen this year.  Around November 5 I did finally begin logging a little extra each day.  The biggest spike came on November 18, the first Friday for some reason that I really managed to sit down and pound out a couple of writing sessions.  I had intended to do that every day of every weekend before that, but as you can see I couldn't get it to really click until the 18th.  I stayed way over expectation up until I hit 48,500 words on the 24th.  That was the weekend I was at Chessiecon in Baltimore, and then went home to Philadelphia the Monday and Tuesday after.  So Friday the 25th I did just a few hundred words before heading to the con, then it's a flat line for the con, where I wrote nothing.  I pounded out a few hundred words when I got home Tuesday, then finished the project Tuesday evening, with one day to spare.  So, not exactly a banner NaNo, but a win's a win.

Since NaNo loosened up their strictures and allowed that 50,000 words of writing counts as a win even if it's on multiple projects, I've been enjoying the process a little more.  Do you ever get sick of working on that one project and start another?  There used to be no room for that in NaNo.  Now that there is, it's a bit freeing.

So this year I was working on SLASHVIVOR! which is a contracted manuscript I owe to Sinister Grin Press in February.  I somehow suckered our good friend Stevie Kopas into collaborating with me.  But I knew that since we were batting it back and forth, there was no way I was going to get 50,000 words done on it in a month.  I did get a solid 15-20,000 done on it, and we are so close to the finish line I can taste it.

My backup manuscript this year was the sequel to THE GHOUL ARCHIPELAGO, tentatively titled NOTES FROM THE UNDEAD.  I've now worked on NFtU for three solid NaNos: 2012, 2014, and 2016.  I've already winnowed out two short stories from this, "The Man With Four Scars" which appeared in AT HELL'S GATES II, and "The New Dark Ages" which appeared in FAT ZOMBIE.  I also did something this year I've never done before: edited out large chunks of the text as I went.  More than once I wrote a solid thousand words, chucked it into my tally document, and started over.  You're not supposed to edit during NaNo, but, surprisingly, I found that having that word count as a goal meant that major editing, as in, cutting out a huge chunk and starting over as I described, was actually beneficial.

Since I've worked on NFtU for three solid NaNos, you'd think it would be a monster of a document, and even bearing in mind how much I've sliced out, it still is.  And it's still not quite complete yet.  I'm thinking it'll take at least another thousand words to finish up one chapter I left hanging.  And then there's the question of whether there's enough ligament holding the story together, or whether I'll have to flesh (ha!) some of that out as well.

I have a lot of work ahead of me.  First my author edit, which I should put off for at least a month or six weeks, assuming I even do it then, then I'll probably pass it to my good friend Mike Lerman, who beta read TGA and who I've always intended to tap for this project as well, belated though it may be. 

I don't know if the story is going to be published at its current length (over 125,000 words even before the beefing up I just described.)  TGA was a solid 119,000 words, which is on the longish end of novels.  I'd like to cut at least ten thousand words out of NFtU, but I'm not sure there's enough fat to trim that much out organically in the editing process.  It may just turn out to be a doorstop of a book.  Time shall tell.

How about you?  How did your NaNo go this year?

Friday, November 25, 2016

Chessiecon 2016 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 (25-27 November, 2016.)  I'll be a guest for the second year in a row, and I have to say that this is one of my absolute favorite cons.

As a guest I will not be manning a vendors table as I often do at cons.  However, you'll still be able to see me at one of the eleven panels and appearances I'll be conducting.  If you want to buy a book, I will be available after panels and during the group signing Saturday evening.  If you're really having trouble finding me, feel free to tweet me and I'll come meet you for signing, buying, bone collecting, whatever.  As usual, fellow Red Adept Publishing author Mary Fan will also be a con guest.  My finalized panel schedule is as follows.  (M) indicates I'll be the moderator.

Time  Title Location
3:00 PM Gadgets in Fiction Greenspring 1
5:30 PM The Other Side of Over the Top: Writing Your Turkey Award Entry (M) Greenspring 1

Time  Title Location
10:00 AM Literary Agents and Query Letters: What, How, and Why Greenspring 3-5
11:15 AM Gruesome Deaths: GRRM vs. GRIMM Greenspring 1
12:30 PM Reading: HUNTER OF THE DEAD Chesapeake 1-2
1:45 PM Turkey Awards Panel Greenspring 3-5
4:15 PM Character Building: Quirks, Hobbies, and Passions Greenspring 3-5
6:45 PM Group Signing Atrium
9:15 PM What's My Line Greenspring 1

Time  Title Location
10:00 AM The Martian: Repopularizing the Robinsonade (M) Greenspring 2
11:15 AM Protagonists With Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder Greenspring 2


3:00 PM - 4:00 PM  "Gadgets in Fiction"

It's easy to get too passionate about your faster-than-light drive or the workings of your hand-held ray gun, but your audience doesn't want a textbook. How do you share your geeky idea without straying into too much? When does over-reliance on gadgetry start to take away from the plot and characterization?

Moderator:  Steven R. Southard
Panelists:  Nicole "Nickie" Jamison,  Steve Kozeniewski,  Jessica Moran, Martin Wilsey
Location:  Greenspring 1

5:30 PM - 6:30 PM  "The Other Side of Over the Top: Writing Your Turkey Award Entry"

Previous winners and judges give advice on how to make your bad writing the best kind of bad it can be. The deadline for entries is 9pm, so you still have time to write yours after the panel, or you can start planning for next year!

Moderator:    Steve Kozeniewski
Panelists:  Beth Chandler,  Luke Katafiasz, Eileen Martz,  Elizabeth Schechter
Location:  Greenspring 1


10:00 AM - 11:00 AM  "Literary Agents and Query Letters: What, How, and Why"

One of the toughest parts about being a writer is selling your work before it's even published. For those aiming to publish traditionally, the first step after polishing your novel is to query literary agents - the gatekeepers to the major publishers. But just what does an agent do? How do you approach them? And how do you capture the spirit of your book in a few short paragraphs? This panel will discuss the what, how, and why of agents and query letters.

Moderator:  Mary Fan
Panelists:  Danielle Ackley-McPhail, Steve Kozeniewski,  Jessica Moran,  Kelly Szpara
Location:  Greenspring 3-5

11:15 AM - 12:15 PM  "Gruesome Deaths: GRRM vs. GRIMM"

We've all heard the comments and jokes about how many deaths there are in Game of Thrones, but how does George R.R. Martin really stack up against the classics? Are his deaths more numerous or more ghastly than those in the Grimm fairy tales? Which other authors have a similar reputation? Come discuss various creative nasty ways to die in a story!

Moderator:  D.H. Aire
Panelists:  Steve Kozeniewski,  Meg Nicholas,  Jay Smith,  Martin Wilsey
Location:  Greenspring 1

12:30 PM - 01:00 PM  Reading: Steve Kozeniewski

Stephen will be reading an excerpt from his latest release, Hunter of the Dead, a hardcore horror novel about a young Chinese farmgirl coming to grips with suddenly being the most powerful vampire in the world. Cemetery Dance Magazine said Hunter of the Dead is "At times mesmerizing and breathtaking...a complex tapestry of blood and violence."

Location:  Chesapeake 1-2

1:45 PM - 2:45 PM  "Turkey Awards Panel"

Writers were asked to send in 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:  Lee Budar-Danoff,  Harrison Demchick,  Steve Kozeniewski, Elizabeth Schechter
Location:  Greenspring 3-5

4:15 PM - 5:00 PM  "Character Building: Quirks, Hobbies and Passions"

Characters feel more whole when they're given something that they do outside of the story, such as hobbies, passions, and favorite foods or media. Talk about memorable characters that have jumped off the page. Discuss what details make a character real.

Moderator:  Cathy Hird
Panelists:  Jamaila Brinkley,  C.S. Friedman, Steve Kozeniewski,  TJ Perkins
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:  Danielle Ackley-McPhail,  D.H. Aire,  Charles Butler,  Margaret Carter,  Leslie Roy Carter,  Vonnie Winslow Crist,  Mary Fan,  C.S. Friedman,  J.L. Gribble,  Elektra Hammond,  Kim Headlee,  Andrew Hiller,  Heather Rose Jones,  Steve Kozeniewski,  Tabitha Ladin,  Katrina Messenger,  Andi O'Connor,  TJ Perkins,  Sarah Pinsker,  Don Sakers,  Elizabeth Schechter,  Jay Smith,  Michelle D. Sonnier,  Steven R. Southard,  Martin Wilsey
Location:  Atrium

9:15 PM - 10:15 PM  "What's My Line?"

Contestants roleplay SF/F characters with unusual occupations; panelists ask questions to try to figure out who they are/what they do.

Panelists:  D.H. Aire,  Carl Cipra,  J.L. Gribble,  Jeff Gritman,  Cristin Kist,  Steve Kozeniewski,  Batya Wittenberg
Location:  Greenspring 1


10:00 AM - 11:00 AM  "The Martian -- Repopularizing the Robinsonade"

What's so intriguing and enduring about the "marooned on an island (or planet)" story? Why is the rescue of one person so satisfying even at great cost and risk to others?

Moderator:  Steve Kozeniewski
Panelists:  D.H. Aire,  Jessica Moran,  Jay Smith,  Martin Wilsey
Location:  Greenspring 2

11:15 AM - 12:15 PM  "Protagonists With Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder"

First recognized among soldiers, 'Shell-shock' and 'Battle Fatigue' has become PTSD, and the awareness of it has gone mainstream. Has the SF/F genre kept up with science in this case? This panel examines several stories which feature characters who have some emotional-trauma-causing incident in their background, how the story progresses as the character(s) deal with PTSD (or not), and how that particular viewpoint changes the sympathy factor of the character, and affects the story line itself.

Moderator:  Batya Wittenberg
Panelists:  Steve Kozeniewski,  Jessica Moran,  Jay Smith,  Pam Smith
Location:  Greenspring 2

Monday, November 21, 2016

A Conversation Which Must Have Taken Place Offscreen During "Star Trek: Generations"

Kirk:  So you say we can go back to any time and place?

Picard: Yes. We're going back to ten minutes before Soran blows up the star.

Kirk:  Wait, wait.  Hang on.  We can go anywhere in time and space.  Why don't we go back to before Soran blew up any of the stars?  Well, hell, I mean, we could go back to before he entered the Nexus in the first place.  Or, I don't know, abort him as a baby.

Picard: No, no. Then we're messing with history.

Kirk:  We're already messing with history.  If all we do is save this one star, that's millions of people who will live who didn't before.  That's going to change billions of things about history.

Picard: Look, we're going to ten minutes before Soran blows up the star, and that's final.

Kirk:  All right, all right.  So what's the plan once we get there?

Picard: Well, this time there will be two of us.

Kirk:  Right.  So the plan is...

Picard: Well, I don't really have a plan.

Kirk:  Okay, so we're just going to double team this guy and hope everything pans out.  Can we get some other guys to help?

Picard: No. No other help.

Kirk:  Look, we can go anywhere in time and space, we could go an hour before shit starts, get some guys...

Picard: No. No other guys.

Kirk:  Can we have guns at least?

Picard: No. Look. We're going back to ten minutes before the star blows up. Just you and me. We're going to double team him with no plan, and everything will be fine.

Kirk:  Look, is there going to be another Enterprise in the future?

Picard: Presumably yes.

Kirk:  I know I said I wouldn't question the captain of the Enterprise, but do you think we could ask him for his thoughts?

Picard: Or "her."

Kirk:  Wow, you're allowed to have lady captains in the future?

Friday, November 18, 2016

The 2016 This is Horror Awards

Hey kids!

Nominations are open for the 2016 This is Horror Awards.  Rules are here.

It just so happens that HUNTER OF THE DEAD is eligible.

Now, I can't nominate any of my own work, so if you feel it's deserving I'd be much obliged if you'd take a minute to e-mail the good folks at This is Horror and nominate HUNTER OF THE DEAD for Best Novel.

If you're interested in some of my thoughts about how to fill out the rest of your ballot (there are two choices available in each category) here are some of the other works I personally am nominating, or else cannot because of my own involvement:

Novel of the Year:

LIFE SENTENCE by Lily Luchesi

Short Story Collection of the Year:

NEVER SAY DIE by Stevie Kopas

Anthology of the Year:

MAN BEHIND THE MASK by David Owain Hughes

Fiction Magazine of the Year:

Cemetery Dance

Publisher of the Year:

Sinister Grin Press
Severed Press

Fiction Podcast of the Year:

The Horror Show With Brian Keene
Arm Cast Podcast

Wednesday, November 16, 2016

Review: Shin Godzilla

***This review was featured on the most recent episode of The Horror Show with Brian Keene.  I'm posting the script I read from here.  If it differs slightly from the final recorded product...welcome to fucking voice work.***

Hey everybody, this is Stephen Kozeniewski, author of HUNTER OF THE DEAD amongst other titles.  Today I'm going to be reviewing "Shin Godzilla" for The Horror Show.  And the reason I'm doing this is so that Brian can start calling me his Jimmy Olsen instead of his Jason Todd.

First things first, this is one of if not the best Godzilla movie ever made.  I think it might be the best, but it's hard to tell since I've only seen it once.  It's definitely in the top tier with classics like the original "Godzilla: King of the Monsters," "Final Wars," "Godzilla 2000," and so forth.  The reason I think it may even better than those is because I have never so much believed that this was a real monster destroying a real city.  The combination of special effects, practical effects, and CGI was quite simply astonishing.  In addition, I never recall even as a child being scared of a Kaiju movie.  "Shin Godzilla," however, had some genuinely chilling moments.  By focusing on the very real human cost that such a monster would actually cause, "Shin Godzilla" made a compelling case for Godzilla as straight-up, non-ironic horror.

That being said, there is one big drawback to this movie.  If you hate subtitles, do not see "Shin Godzilla," or wait until a dubbed version comes out.  This is very much a satire of Japanese governmental bureaucracy.  So every time a new location or character is introduced, a chyron appears stating the name of the location or the title of the character, such as "Deputy Executive Assistant to the Prime Minister."  That means that there are many scenes with three subtitles when there's a new location, a new character, and someone is speaking.  It's physically impossible to read that fast, and even when there aren't three subtitles on the screen at once, the dialogue comes very fast and very heavy.

This movie is unapologetically Japanese in its outlook.  Americans are largely portrayed as well-meaning buffoons, and the main American character, the ambassador's daughter is, um, not Japanese cinema's greatest portrayal of an American.  The movie takes a lot of digs at the Japanese government, which is funny enough but I assume it would be much funnier for a Japanese audience.  And its underlying message is about the importance of teamwork and community.  The film seems to be saying, yes, bureaucracy is bad, but it's a natural outgrowth of democracy, and the important thing is when the chips are down the Japanese people come together, everyone does their duty, and they pull through together.  There's a touching scene where a janitor simply cleans up the wreckage and later a caterer brings a bowl of noodles to the main characters, and it seems to be saying no matter who you are, your contribution is important.  The original Godzilla was pretty explicitly a metaphor for the atomic bombs, and this one is, too, though it also carries shades of the more recent disaster in Fukushima, and that was one of the times that we saw the Japanese people coming together and making individual sacrifices for the greater good.  So don't expect an American blockbuster where a lone cowboy saves the day like Will Smith blowing up the alien mothership.  Instead this is a story of a community coming together.

Overall, I give "Shin Godzilla" more than infinity stars.

Monday, November 14, 2016

Obligatory NaNo Post

Hey everybody!  It's National Novel Writing Month, or NaNoWriMo.  Naturally to a semi-professional (or am I fully professional now?) author like myself, every month is novel writing month.  But NaNoWriMo is still something special.

The basics, in case you don't know: in the 30 days of November each year millions of people around the globe attempt to write a full 50,000 words.  Basically, the ass bottom end of a novel's word count.  That comes out to about 1700 words a day, every day, which is a huge step up from most people's "eh, whatever I feel like whenever I feel like."  In my case I'd say in regular times I attempt to get something akin to 1000 words done every day, though it may be closer to every other day between research and procrastination.  So NaNo is a time of year when I double or possibly even quadruple my output.

So why do I bother if, as I said, I'm already a published, though admittedly not full-time author?  Well, mostly because it kicks my ass into gear and it's a good opportunity to bond with other people.  Everybody in the writing community either does NaNo, or has some kind of reaction to it.  I guess it would be like being a football fan and ignoring the Super Bowl.  Yeah, maybe your team's not playing, but you're going to have some kind of opinion about it.  It's a big fucking deal.

Now, for me personally NaNo has also been a source of great pride.  Here is a list of the novels that I have produced during NaNo (bearing in mind that, no, a novel is not complete at 50,000 words and before months and months of editing, but still, the bulk of each of these was done in November):


And if all goes well after the next few years of editing, etc., I may just be filling out the gaps in that schedule with a few more books.  So, yeah, NaNo has been good for me in the past.

I know I'm more than a little behind on this post.  More than a little as in two weeks...or almost half the entire month.  But, yeah, as usual, I'm doing NaNoWriMo.  If we're not already buddies, definitely add me.

So where am I right now?  I'm at just under 24,000 words.  Tomorrow's goal is 25,000 (obviously, as that would be the halfway mark of both the month and the word count.)  So I'm just a scoche ahead of the game, maybe a little more than a day.  Normally by this point I like to be much further along.  There have been years when I've finished in under three weeks, and more than a few times I've jokingly suggested I should attempt NaNoWriFoNi and get it done in two weeks, but so far I've never been able to crack that nut.  Maybe one year when my schedule's a bit less hectic and I have time to prepare a manuscript to start come November.

How are you doing?  Playing along this year?  Or does NaNo disgust you, as it does any right-thinking wordsmith?

Friday, November 11, 2016

Happy Veteran's Day!

Today is a good, albeit often lonely day for me.  I don't think a whole lot of people get Veteran's Day off.  Certainly none of my family ever did.  I've benefited from (with the exception of about a year at a godawful call center) working for the federal government all my adult life, so I've always gotten Veteran's Day off.

While I was still in the army Golden Corral used to offer a free meal, and we used to wait in line, even when it went around the block, which it often did, especially in a military town.  Nowadays I usually flit to a few different places for lunch, dinner, and coffee and so forth depending on what they're offering.  As I said, it usually means I'm alone, which is a little sad, but I feel like if this is the day of the year when a few businesses want to show their appreciation, I should probably take advantage.

For a few years I tried to make a spree of it, seeing how many different places I could hit, but ultimately I just wasn't enjoying that.  I had made it into a scavenger hunt and it started to make me feel kind of icky, like I was taking advantage.  Nowadays I'm just of the mind, "Okay, I'll get a free meal or two.  No need to cram a year's worth of veteran deals into a single afternoon."

How about you?  How are you spending yours?  Did you contact your veteran friends and family?  Go to Arlington?  Watch war movie on TMC all day?

Wednesday, November 9, 2016

It Happened Here

Well, the nightmare scenario has, somehow, improbably, come true.  Lunatic hell clown Donald Trump has been elected president. 

It's likely I have little to add to the great navel-gazing going on right now.  I'm mortified.  I'm terrified.  I'm horrified.  Lots of "-fieds."  It's likely you are, too.  If you're not, you're probably about to be granted that supposed worst outcoming of all wishing: getting it. 

To you I say: I can't imagine what you think you're going to get out of this.  If poking a finger in the eye of liberal coastal elites was kind of the end-all be-all of your goals, well, I guess you got it.  In exchange for which you'll also get global recession, a rollback of all the hard-fought freedoms we've earned over the past decade, and likely nuclear war. 

Was that the point?  Fuck over the country in exchange for a great big "fuck you" to the blue states?  Hell, we already knew that was your sentiment. I still remember vividly the day a Republican crowd cheered that Chicago wouldn't be getting the Olympic Games. That was the first time I got an inkling that for some of you, partisanship really does trump patriotism.

I don't think Hillary would have been a great president.  I think she would have been fine.  A reasonable caretaker.  We would have continued inching our way back towards prosperity.  Trump, though, is going to be a disaster of possibly existential proportions.  And with an all-Republican legislature, an unmitigated one.

Is this the end of the great American experiment?  Quite possibly.  We might eke through the next four years of deranged "leadership."  The power of our system of checks and balances may keep Trump's greatest excessed in check.  Perhaps the real line he was selling was to the voters he so obviously scorned, and his administration will look nothing like his promises.  Perhaps he'll be even more of an absentee-in-chief than Bush was.  Perhaps he'll even be impeached or imprisoned before or shortly after taking office, and be more than just an empty suit.  I don't exactly like the idea of Mike Pence running the country, but he'd be more of an "awful Republican running the country" type of administration than "deranged lunatic stroking his ego" type of administration.

That's about the best we can hope for.  One of those four scenarios:

1)  Our system of governance is actually strong enough to endure a Trump in office
2)  Trump was full of shit all along and will run things like a businessman instead of a demagogue
3)  Trump will be happy just being called president and let others do the actual business of governing
4)  Trump will actually physically be absent due to his past or future crimes

I feel like analyzing this is like analyzing all the ways Hillary could've found a path to electoral success.  Partly because it feels so masturbatory at this point, but mostly because I don't think any of them will come true.  I think Trump will rule with an iron fist, and will do all of the crazy things he said he'd do, and then we're at apocalypse scenario time.

And the apocalypse scenarios are terrifying.  Trump seems obsessed with using nukes, which should terrify any right-thinking person, but, you know, liberal elites are just the worst.  Trump's economic policies are projected to lead to a recession if we're lucky (and just his election is causing the markets to tank) and possibly another '30s-style depression, but, you know, liberal elites with their fucking kale.  Trump has mobilized the KKK, American Nazi Party, has encouraged violence at his rallies, threatened to jail his opponent, and clamp down on the media that opposes him, but, you know, fucking iPhone-buying liberals.

So at this point I don't know.  I really don't fucking know.  I've never been this scared in my adult life.  When Bush was elected, I didn't care, because Republicans and Democrats were pretty much two sides of the same coin as far as I was concerned.  When Bush was re-elected, I was sad, but it was pretty much just crummy business as usual so I knew it was just a matter of holding out four more years.  If Romney had been elected I would have held my nose and dealt with it, because he wasn't a terrible guy, just, you know, a little right of where I like my politicians to be. 

With Trump the whole fucking paradigm's out the window.  I'll probably be all right.  I'm a fairly wealthy white guy who lives in the suburbs.  I work for the military, and unless things change a lot I don't think Republicans are going to start cutting military jobs.  I'm not happy about the economy in general tanking, because it will fuck up my savings and my 401K, but I'm young.  My retirement will bounce back, hopefully.  I'll probably be all right.

And I'm still scared.  I'm terrified.  People who aren't like me are going to have their backs against the wall.  Blacks are going to be told their lives do not fucking matter, no matter how they demonstrate.  Muslims are probably going to start being lynched.  Gays are probably going to be forced, weeping, back into the closet to get by.  I don't even know what's going to start happening to Hispanics, although I'm guessing there will be a lot of fun, good old-fashioned Gestapo style random house inspections and rounding ups. 

My mentor today said that great art will come out of this, that Watergate lead to THE SHINING and so forth.  It's scary that that's the best we can do in terms of a silver lining.

Monday, October 31, 2016

Happy Halloween!

Copyright: Granamir

Hey there, boils and ghouls!  Horror Christmas is finally here!  In case you missed all the fuss last week, you still have a liiiiiiittle time left to grab BILLY AND THE CLONEASAURUS for free and HUNTER OF THE DEAD for only $1.99.  That way you have something to open up under your horror tree that's a little less awful than what Spike's getting into up there.

As for me, I'll be watching "Halloween" for the first time tonight.  I know, I know, I'm a total Philistine.  Hope the rest of you have a blast no matter what you're doing.  Let me know about your plans in the comments!

Friday, October 28, 2016


Hey everybody!  Okay, the week of Halloween craziness is almost over.  The second-to-last sale I'm announcing this year is an ongoing one.  HUNTER OF THE DEAD is on sale for only $1.99 all month long.  So right up until midnight Halloween you can grab this hardcore horror vampire epic.  Enjoy!

And finally, last and perhaps best, BILLY AND THE CLONEASAURUS is absolutely, 100% free.  What's the catch?  The catch is I don't know for how long.  And that's not like some kind of slimy car dealer come-on, either.  My publisher didn't tell me.  They didn't even tell me it was going on a freebie run.  So it might be perma-free.  Or it might just be for the next few minutes.  I have no way to be sure.  But I recommend grabbing it soon!

Wednesday, October 26, 2016

Contest: Horror October 2016 Flash Fiction Battle

Hey everybody!  I have a free short story, "The Quiet Life" over on Lipsyy's Lost and Found.  If you enjoy it, you can vote for it.  You should also check out the stories by our good friends Stevie Kopas, Lily Luchesi, and Alessia Giacomi.  But don't vote for any of theirs.  If you think theirs are better, just abstain.  

Monday, October 24, 2016


Hey, everybody!  It's that time of year when Halloween sales start coming hot and heavy.  Starting today BRAINEATER JONES is going on a Kindle Countdown sale.  That means for the next two days it will be $0.99, for the two days after that it'll be $1.99, and so on.  So jump in early to get the most savings!

THE GHOUL ARCHIPELAGO also went on sale for $0.99 yesterday, which will last until October 30.  So make sure to snarf that up, too.

There'll be more sales and events I'll be announcing all week.  Thanks for the support everybody!

Friday, October 21, 2016

The Poke Mongo

Some of you may be familiar with the recent dance craze "The Poke Mongo."  "Mongo" is, of course, the American version of "Manga," which is the Japanese version of "The Macarena."  So "Poke Mongo" is kind of like an omelette is my understanding.

There's an interesting story about the Poke Mongo.  A few years back, three contractors were working in my office.  One was a perfectly professional lady who was later hired on full-time when their contract was up.  Another was a weasely little guy who was constant over in my cube, tugging on my Team Lead's sleeve and begging to be hired full time.  Unsurprisingly, he was not.

And then there was the third contractor...

I cannot for the life of me remember the guy's name.  But let's call him Mike.  Mike was the kind of stereotypical Yoohoo-drinking, message-board-trolling neckbeard that you see all throughout pop culture and yet, strangely, only very rarely in real life.  Picture Comic Book Guy from "The Simpsons" blended with the Warcraft player from "South Park."  Yeah, about that level.

Now we didn't hear much from Mike.  At least, he didn't complain much, which was good.  But he also didn't really seem to do much work.  Which was not so good, but, hey, it's the government.  Hell, I'm writing this blogpost at work right now.

It turns out that what Mike the Neckbeard had been doing all day - in lieu of whatever we were paying him for - was playing a game called Ingress.  In fact, he was beta testing it. 

Now, Ingress is an augmented reality game.  The basic concept is that various real-world landmarks - say, your local church or that statue downtown - are portals through which aliens are trying to contact humanity.  The world is divided into the obviously superior green Enlightened and the deranged, worthless blue lunatics of the Resistance.  So your goal is to collect various tools to switch real world portals from green to blue, or to keep them the right color, or whatever.

Nowadays, if you say "augmented reality" - or, more likely, if you vaguely outline the concept - even muggles will understand what you're talking about, because of Pokémon Go.  But step back just a handful of years ago, and the concept was obscure, maybe even novel.

So Mike was walking around all day, marking various benches and landmarks as potential Ingress portals for the game company.  It would have been bad enough if he had just been slacking off at work.  But I work on a Navy base.  The dude was wandering around pointing his phone at things and hanging around random spots on base at all hours of the day.  Now, when you or I play an augmented reality game, we're at least cognizant of our surroundings and a little bit ashamed to be playing a video game in public, so we hide it to the extent that other people might be around and we give a shit.  However, I suspect shame played no role in Mike's behavior.
So when the MPs finally rolled up on him and asked him why he was hanging around our decorative anchor at 7:00 am, weirding out passersby, he started to babble on and on about virtual reality and aliens trying to creep into the world.  Which led to the MPs bringing him in to his supervisor, and, Mike being a contractor who wasn't doing any goddamned work and was creeping around the base scaring people, he was fired and escorted off base.

Now, that's kind of a funny story in and of it self, but there's a coda.  A few years went by and I picked up Ingress, in case you couldn't tell from my bashing those fucking Resistance Smurfs earlier.  And lo and behold!  I work right on top of a portal.  And there are five portals I walk by every morning from my car to the office, and another five or ten within easy walking distance.  So while I was playing Ingress, I benefited greatly from Neckbeard Mike's largesse in marking every fucking tree with a funny branch on it as a potential portal.

Then we flash forward to this summer, and the smashing launch of Pokémon Go.  It turns out that Niantic, the company that created Ingress, also created Pokémon Go.  And rather than start from scratch and spend years beta testing they just overlaid Pokémon over the Ingress map.  I don't know if it was deliberate or not, but functionally Ingress turned out to be a beta test for Pokémon's capabilities.

Which means that I'm also now working on top of a Pokéstop, and there are a bunch of Pokéstops within walking distance of me, and two gyms.  And all thanks to that one weirdo who worked here a few years ago.  Here's to you, Neckbeard Mike, whatever your real name was, wherever you are.

Friday, October 14, 2016

Cover Reveal: GEMS OF GRATITUDE by Lily Luchesi

Hey everybody!  You know I always love to support great authors and share the love.  So today we have a cover reveal for an anthology featuring our good friend Lily Luchesi.  Check it out!

Gems of Gratitude
Releasing November 14th, 2016

Author List:
Alana Madden
Chrissy Moon
Christie Stratos
Elizabeth Horton-Newton
Karen J. Mossman
LG Surgeson
Lily Luchesi
Markie Madden
(and one possible: Kristy Wagner)

From the Gems of Strength authors comes the second book in the Gems of Sisterhood series! The theme of this book is, of course, gratitude!

Meet Detective Cara Solino, a young woman following in her father’s footsteps. Can she solve the case he was unable to?

Find out how Chloe’s mother discovers a way to keep her daughter’s dream alive under the worst possible circumstances! Read about young Lady Iona, a child of the Elven Forest, as she struggles to give her daughter a fighting chance in a harsh world.

Cheer on Sharliss as she finally takes control of her own life, and becomes a better person. Meet Julie, who gathers information on history, and Jody, an elderly dog whose time to cross The Rainbow Bridge is near. These stories and more are within these pages, just waiting for YOU!

Pre-Order Gems Of Gratitude via:

Friday, October 7, 2016

Making the Sausage: Book Sale

Generally speaking, the whole thrust of your marketing efforts should be to get as many eyes on your books as possible.  Ideally everyone that sees your book will buy it, but the truth is that just doesn't happen.  There's tons of raw data on this, but I'll give you just one example.

I recently tweeted about BILLY AND THE CLONEASAURUS.  I pushed this tweet harder than I do my normal tweets, utilizing retweet groups and so forth.  The tweet got 30 retweets and a total of 2,587 views.  That's 2500 eyes on.  And how many link clicks did it get?  3.  And I'll go even a step further and tell you that based on sales that day, only one person that actually clicked the link bought the book.

If I could sell 2500 copies of my book based on a tweet, well, kids, I'd be retired.  But I don't.  There's a trickle down effect.  If 1 out of every 2500 people who see my book buy it (and that's just a wild guesstimate based on this one tweet), then 6,250,000 people would have to see it before I sell 2500 copies.

But that's not the whole story.

I've written here previously about what I somewhat tongue-in-cheekly call The Katy Perry Theory.  As a general rule (again, there's no magical number, just kind of what research seems to suggest) you have to hear about something seven times before you'll actually purchase it.  So the 2,499 people who didn't buy my book based on that tweet are not lost causes.  They are potentially racking up psychological tally marks pushing them towards finally breaking down and buying it.

Now one thing that can tip the scales in your favor is putting your book on sale for a discounted price.  Some people have already been primed by your ongoing marketing efforts to consider buying your book.  And they may simply be waiting for it to go down to $0.99 before they do.  So in that sense, all of your marketing efforts are building a foundation for a successful sale.  Having your book go on sale is an opportunity.  It's not a guarantee, just an opportunity.

So when a sale comes around, capitalize on the fact that this may be the culmination of all your hard work.  Don't just let it just pass by.  Push it hard, because maybe you've already pushed a whole bunch of people into the "maybe" camp and all they're waiting for is that little push to buy.  So here are some steps you can take to make sure everyone knows about your sale:

- craft a sale day blog post.  I'd recommend making it the day of the sale and not earlier.  Some people suggest you prime the pump, but my feeling is if you have their attention, don't expect them to wait a day or two before they can actually make the purchase.  One click, one buy.

- respond to any blog comments with a personalized thank you

- craft the perfect e-mail for the mailing list.  Personally I don't use my mailing list for sales, because I've promised not to.  But if you have a mailing list, by all means utilize it.  And, again, I'd recommend you e-mail people on the day of the sale.  If it's a multi-day sale, send the e-mail on the first day of the sale.  Yes, some people don't check their e-mail constantly.  But you still want to have that one click, one buy effect.

- send two separate e-mails, one for the people you know are real on the mailing list, and the other to the people you suspect are scammers

- clear the confirmed scammers out of your mailing list when their e-mails bounce

- answer congratulatory e-mails from your mailing list

- create the perfect Goodreads event well in advance of the sale, making the duration of the event at least one day for each thousand friends you have on GR

- invite all of your Goodreads friends to the event in blocks of a thousand, a hundred at a time, because Goodreads won't let you invite more than a thousand people to an event in a 24-hour period.  If the duration of your sale is less than the time you need to invite everyone, you have to make a hard choice between losing the "one click, one buy" effect by starting the event early or being more selective in who you invite when.

- respond to each "yes" and "maybe" on your GR event with a personalized thank you, and to some of the "nos" if they've given some kind of justification with an offer of some sort or possibly just a condolence

- mention your sale on any pertinent and apropos GR groups

- craft the perfect Facebook post for the business page and schedule it for release day

- like (or love) and craft a personalized thank you comment to each person who shares your FB post

- after determining interest has waned on your business FB post, share it to your personal FB wall

- also like (or love) and craft a personalized thank you for everyone who shares your personal FB post

- mention your sale on any pertinent and apropos FB groups

- consider a FB event for your sale.  I don't personally tend to do these as I'm not sure whether people enjoy them or even care.  However, you should definitely experiment with it before writing it off, because lots of people do it.  Have your author friends donate items to give away.  Have caption contests, share memes, and the like.  You can also enlist your friends to take over the event for, say, an hour at a time.

- craft the perfect Tweet

- take advantage of Tweet sharing groups, etc., to get more eyes on your tweet

- craft a personalized thank you for everyone who shares your tweet

- monitor Twitter for mentions of your sale that you haven't been tagged on and gradually retweet them and send personalized thank yous

- retweet every review or spotlight you've ever had for this book, and tag each reviewer.  If you've ever wondered if there was any practical value to my Info on My Published Works page above, this is one example.  You're doing the reviewer a favor by sharing their site, so they're extremely likely to retweet your tweet.  Unless you're Ashton Kutcher you probably can't get anything trending on Twitter just because you're tweeting about it, but you can turn your account into a mini shotgun, blasting news of your sale as far and wide as possible.  Here's the format I recommend: a short, punchy quote from the review + the reviewer's handle + mention the sale price + link + hashtags (if there's room.)  So here's an example:

"I give this book 5 out of 5 blood spattered stars." - @Jeanette_art
And you can own it now for only $0.99!

- monitor Amazon rankings, sometimes all night, in order to capture screenshots of your possible bestselling statuses, across every individual national Amazon store

- after determining your highest bestseller statuses, post screen caps, along with a thank you to your fans, on FB and Twitter

- mention your release on any pertinent and apropos message boards you may belong to/participate in

- submit your sale to any blogs you know that will share news of your sale for free

- consider paid ads on FB, pay-for-play websites, Fiverr, and so forth.  This is where art, science, and business blend into a murky stew.  No one knows for sure what, if any, value you'll get for your dollars.  There are thousands of websites offering advice on this, so I'll refrain from offering any here, except to say that most of those websites are run by snake oil salesmen.  I'd recommend you spend the years you're in this business experimenting until you get an idea of the kind of alchemy it takes to put how many dollars where to maximize your revenue.

That's everything I can think of that's sales "day" specific.  What do you think?  How much of this is wasting my time and how much is actually driving sales?  What do you do?

Wednesday, October 5, 2016

Re-Animated #13: Rejected

Today we're going to talk about a single animated short which debuted in July of 2000.

The "Re-Animated" series has, for the most part, been a chronological account of the advent of adult animation.  But when you have shows like "The Simpsons" that have been on for 27 years or "South Park" that have been on for 20, naturally the timeline becomes a bit elastic and so I've covered things that "haven't happened yet" chronologically.

One of the worst cases of this is my constant references to adult swim, a network which did not exist yet in July of 2000.  But perhaps it's apropos, too, that I keep hinting at something so huge coming around the bend.

Don Hertzfeldts's "Rejected" is so short and yet so seminal to our story, that I feel like it couldn't hurt for you to just watch the entire thing right now.

Hertzfeldt was (and still is, apparently) a man of conscience.  By this time in his life he had found some moderate success with making short cartoons, particularly "Billy's Balloon," and had been approached to do commercial work, a logical next step in a burgeoning cartoonist's career.  But Hertzfeldt despised commercialism and instead essentially torpedoed his chance for wealth and fame in order to continue pursuing the sort of art he wanted to do.

His response to the offer was "Rejected," a master class in surrealism as well as a scathing indictment of both Madison Avenue's greed and "educational" television's hypocrisy.  Chronicling an imaginary Hertzfeldt's descent into madness (and the suffering of his characters as a result) as he pursues a career making advertisements, "Rejected" was both a mission statement and a masterwork.  After being nominated for an Oscar and winning 27 awards worldwide, you can again imagine the crossroads that a young Don Hertzfeldt must have stood at yet again, only to reject commercial work and continue to make his own iconoclastic creations yet again.

If I'm being too hagiographic, I hope you can forgive me.  Obviously, Hertzfeldt's story is rare in a world where becoming popular enough to sell out is a goal for most artists, myself included.  To actually wrap your fingers around the brass ring and then say, "Eh, nah, fuck it" is a compelling path, one I can't even imagine myself taking.  It would be like if the Big 5 called me today and said, "Here's a million dollar advance, you just have to write horse ranch romances" and I said, "Nah, fuck it, I want to keep writing about zombies and losing money."  Admirable in theory, but you know the real me would already be researching ponies.

Anyway, that felt like a long digression.  Here's what's really important about "Rejected."  Or, you know, maybe not, because it does stand on its own.  Nevertheless, as a nine minute abstract cartoon it is a prototype and ur-example of what adult swim would start doing just one year later.  Most adult swim creators cite "Rejected" as the inspiration and proof-of-concept for their own work.  The influence of Hertzfeldt's abstraction and the bizarre humor is obvious.  But let's also talk about the length.

Today it's taken as a given that if your TV show takes an hour and eleven minutes, it takes an hour and eleven minutes.  Almost every drama on cable, and some comedies and even a bunch of network shows now, get some wiggle room.  But in 2000 television slots were exceptionally rigid, and there were really only two kinds of shows: half hour comedies, and hours-long dramas.  The only exception in the television landscape was "Saturday Night Live," which was an hour and a half.  But SNL was an institution and no one was watching anything else on a Saturday night, so it wasn't like a fat, glaring example of an exception.  And who watches a full episode of SNL anyway?  You just tune in and out, so having it run a bit longer didn't really matter.

Most cartoons that had been created for television were constructed to be a half hour long.  Cartoons, though, had a long history of being five to ten minute shorts which played before feature presentations in movie theaters.  A few cartoon shows in the '80s and '90s used the format of those old Warner Brothers and Disney cartoons.  "Tiny Toons," "Animaniacs," "Taz-Mania," "Pinky and the Brain" and the like would play three to six cartoons in their half hour block, often with either a framing story, a through line, or the characters from one cartoon cameoing on another to give the whole show a greater sense of cohesion.  You might have been watching six individuated cartoons, but you felt like you were watching a single half hour program.

adult swim's great innovation was splitting the half hour.  I have no doubt they understood from the start that their audience for late night cartoons would be either stoned or drunk, and therefore would have difficulty following a complex storyline.  Knowing that, making a show eleven minutes long meant that you were only taxing your audience to watch the equivalent of a Bugs Bunny cartoon - long considered perfect fare for stoners.  And doubling down on the concept, through the use of surrealism and abstract humor, it almost didn't matter if you were paying attention at all.  It wasn't about following a complicated story, it was about random silliness.

Watching a cottonball person bleed from his (her?) anus until it fills the room is the sort of thing that you can laugh at whether you've been following along with the story or not.  And so Hertzfeldt, somewhat unwittingly, had pioneered a new art form: the half half hour stoner cartoon.  Once "Rejected" existed, the idea of putting something like this on later at night when college students would watch was a logical next step.

So "Rejected," while it stands on its own, would also usher in a new era in adult animation.  Which we're going to visit more in-depth in the next few installments.
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