Manuscripts Burn


"Manuscripts don't burn"
- Mikhail Bulgakov

Hi, I'm horror and science fiction author Steve Kozeniewski (pronounced: "causin' ooze key.") Welcome to my blog! You can also find me on Facebook, Twitter, Goodreads, and Amazon. You can e-mail me here, join my mailing list here, or request an e-autograph here. Free on this site you can listen to me recite one of my own short works, "The Thing Under the Bed."

Friday, May 27, 2016

Bucket List

Copy and Paste to your Status... Then put a ✔ if you have done it or remove the ✔if you haven't.

Had children
Had a pet
Been a child
Been a pet
Hobbled a stranded author
Been to Brigadoon
Been to Tír na nÓg
Put trousers on a velociraptor
Survived Ragnarok
Thrown a handful of dust in an enemy's eyes
Became pregnant with the final savior of the world by the seed of Zoroaster while bathing in a lake
Written a list
Told your enemy that in the end you're really not so different after all
Gotten married
Married your best friend
Married your greatest lover
Married yourself through a freak temporal paradox
Kissed someone with your eyes open
Given a verbal warning to a gun
Given a final written warning to a gun
Fired a gun
Used the word "reticulated" in a sentence
Seen attack ships on fire off the shoulder of Orion
Been to the movies
Grown a beard
Been a beard
Rode a short man dressed like Carmen Miranda
Eaten an avocado
Eaten long pig
Drunk wine from the skull(s) of your enemy(ies)
Gone bowling

Wednesday, May 25, 2016

Hard and Stressful (Interview with Cassie Cox, Owner of Joy Editing and Author of INTIMATE DETAILS)

HAWM, blogtinis! It's been a minute since we last had today's guest on the blog, and boy, a lot has happened since then. But enough of me hemming and hawing. Let's jump right in!

About Cassie Cox:

Cassie Cox is an editor from Tampa, FL. A certified Shakespeare geek, she has a master’s in Shakespeare in performance, which makes her all kinds of fun at a party.

Cassie lives with her husband and six cats, and her hobbies include baking, reading the news, and watching old movies.


SK:  Welcome back to the blog, Cassie!  A lot's happened in your life since last we spoke.  Can you tell us about Joy Editing and how people can contact you if they want to become a client?

CC:  So much has changed! At the beginning of the year, I opened Joy Editing, and I specialize in editing in romance and erotica. I’ve been fortunate enough to work with some amazing authors already, and I’m looking forward to having a great summer. My website is, and people can always contact me by email at

SK:  I suspect I know the answer to this but obviously our readers don't, so: what is your favorite Disney movie and why?

CC:  The Little Mermaid (as I’m sure you knew), and I think it’s my favorite because of the music and her hair. I always wanted to be Ariel and have long red hair like she does. Hans Christian Andersen’s original ending is so much better though.

SK:  In some other intriguing news, you're now an Amazon bestselling non-fiction author.  How did you come to release INTIMATE DETAILS and what was the process from idea to book?

CC:  You flatter me, sir! Thank you. INTIMATE DETAILS was my publisher’s idea actually. She believed that after all of the sex scenes I’ve worked on, I knew enough to offer advice to writers before they started writing. I dragged my feet on it though. I’m not a writer, and I felt pretty inept trying to put words on a page. But with lots of outlining and encouragement, I managed to finish!

SK:  As someone who's long sworn she wasn't a writer, do you feel like you've betrayed your editing tribe by coming over to the dark side?

CC:  LOL, I’m not a writer! (She says as she starts a new manuscript.) Seriously though, I am so glad I don’t have to do what you do. Writing is hard and stressful. My laptops are littered with manuscripts I started and never finished. I feel like editing is a much better fit for me.

SK:  Obviously, to become an expert at writing sex scenes one need do no more than pick up this book.  But how does one become enough of an expert to write such a book?

CC:  I’ve edited everything from innocent over-clothes petting to dungeon scenes. My job is to make them more appealing to readers, which means I need to know what readers like. I follow fan groups on Facebook, read reviews, and pay attention to what people are saying works and doesn’t work for them. In real life, I have contacts involved in different kinks who can help me work through tricky scenes, and I’ve been known to go to cons and classes in order to better understand things outside my ken so I can help bring realism to my work.

SK:  Can you share with us a Cassie original baking recipe?  (No brownies, please.)

CC:  This isn’t exactly an original recipe, but I’ve made a couple of changes to it, so I think it counts.

Chocolate Chip Funfetti Muffins

•  3 cups all-purpose flour
•  4 teaspoons baking powder
•  1 teaspoon salt
•  1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
•  1/4 teaspoon ground nutmeg
•  2 eggs, room temperature preferred
•  1 cup sugar
•  1/2 cup brown sugar
•  1 cup buttermilk
•  1/2 cup vegetable oil (or canola oil/melted coconut oil)
•  1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract
•  1 and 1/4 cups semi-sweet chocolate chips
•  1/2 cup sprinkles

Preheat oven to 425F degrees. Spray your muffin tin of choice with non-stick spray or line with muffin liners. Set aside.

In a large bowl, gently toss together flour, baking powder, salt, cinnamon, and nutmeg. Mix until all dry ingredients are combined – a 20 second toss to disburse everything together. Set aside.

In a medium bowl, whisk together eggs and sugars until combined. Mix in buttermilk, oil, and vanilla. Mixture will be pale and yellow. Fold wet ingredients into dry ingredients and mix everything together by hand with a wooden spoon. Avoid overmixing. Gently mix until all the flour is off the bottom of the bowl and no big pockets of flour remain. The batter will be VERY thick and somewhat lumpy. Fold in the chocolate chips and sprinkles.

Pour batter into prepared muffin tins, filling all the way to the top. Bake at 425F degrees for 5 minutes. Reduce oven temperature to 375 and continue to bake for 13 minutes until tops are lightly golden and centers appear set.

Allow to cool for 10 minutes in pan before enjoying. Muffins taste best fresh the same day. Store muffins at room temperature in an airtight container for up to 5 days. Muffins freeze well, up to 3 months.

SK:  Well, thanks for being with us today.  Do you have any final thoughts or anything you'd like to say that we didn't get to cover today?

CC:  Thank you so much for having me!


INTIMATE DETAILS teaches writers how to craft one of the trickiest aspects of a romance novel: the sex scenes.

Sex scenes are surprisingly difficult for both new and experienced authors. This guide will help you answer all sorts of questions, including some you may not know you had. What’s the difference between erotica and suggestive sex scenes? Does erotica have to include whips and chains? What should you do if you don’t know anything about BDSM? How long should a sex scene be? How many sex scenes do you need? What’s “normal” for a sex scene, and how far can you deviate from that? What are your characters supposed to say while they’re having sex?

Whether you’re writing from experience or fantasy, INTIMATE DETAILS can guide you toward creating sensual, cohesive sex scenes.

Monday, May 23, 2016

Re-Animated #6: South Park

It's almost as strange to write now about the impact "South Park" had on the cultural landscape in 1997 as it was to write about the impact "The Simpsons" had in 1989.  Both shows are still on the air.  Both shows have had ebbs and flows, not to mention a variety of renaissances, which only an elder statesman of a television show can have.  Both are also intensely over the hill, targeted towards people my age who grew up on it, and no longer a part of the zeitgeist.  They merely...exist, trudging on, making money, running on all-but-used-up nostalgia.

Interestingly, "South Park" just had another supposed renaissance this past year, in its 19th (!) season, when longtime viewers seemed to unanimously agree that the formerly shattered, continuity-light if not anti-continuity show had benefited from an overarching seasonal plot, as well as finally becoming part of the cultural conversation again.  So it's probably not fair to say that "South Park" is a zombie show in quite the same way "The Simpsons" is, but when the headlines read essentially "Surprisingly, 'South Park' Still Capable of Satire" you know that they're not quite the titans they once were.

Ah, but to have been there in 1997 when the show first started!  That was truly a strange and exciting time.  "South Park" was Comedy Central's first true killer app.  "The Daily Show" was two years off, "The Colbert Report" was eight, and, to be quite frank, Comedy Central was a joke, and not in the sense that it wanted to be.

In 1997 Comedy Central was one of hundreds of cable channels, and the modern infatuation with finding a single prestige show and building your station around that had not yet really begun.  "The Sopranos" hadn't even started yet, for Christ's sake.  Cable channels mostly ran old movies and filler, and tried to carve niches for themselves.  Comedy Central at the time was running any movie that could remotely be called funny, hours of old standup from the '80s, and their best-rated shows were imported Britcoms like "Absolutely Fabulous" and "French and Saunders."  Their rare forays into original programming, like "Dr. Katz" were charming but it would be a kindness to say they had anything but niche appeal.

We were a Comedy Central house, though.  My sister loved the channel, and as a result we watched it a ton.  But when "South Park" appeared on the scene in 1997, suddenly everyone was watching it, not to mention gabbing about it on the playground.  (I wouldn't say water cooler - I'm sure adults watched it, but probably weren't admitting it in the workplace.)

"South Park" began life - improbably enough - as a viral video, long, long before the term was coined.  Today I could take a video of myself writing this stupid blogpost, upload it to YouTube in the space of, eh, a minute or two, share it on Facebook a minute after that and (if the fates align) it could go viral later that day.  Rewind to 2005, that was the advent of YouTube, the first real platform for short videos.  Before that, there was Napster and file-sharing, which, even with Napster, was a painfully slow process and even so, with the exception of music videos and sketch comedy, people weren't sharing short videos, they were looking for movies and TV shows.  Rewind to the early '90s, and event nascent file-sharing wasn't really an option.  Downloading a single photograph from a website was a painfully slow process.

In the early '90s "America's Funniest Home Videos" was about the only platform for what we would call YouTube poop today, and that shit was carefully culled for a family audience.  When two young Colorado boys, Trey Parker and Matt Stone, made a dirty, blasphemous video of Frosty the Snowman terrorizing children and fighting Jesus Christ with stop-motion construction paper in 1992, the distribution methods of the time ensured that it was basically something fun for their friends and college classmates to watch - a jumped-up home movie, essentially.

But good art will out (said the all-but-unknown author wistfully.)  In 1995 Brian Graden, a Fox executive, commissioned a second film - "Jesus vs. Santa" - as a Christmas card for his friends.  Graden showed the video to eighty friends.  The video was bootlegged with traditional VHS tapes and even bit-by-painstaking-bit on the then-nascent internet.  And thus was born the first modern viral video.

The success of "The Spirit of Christmas" (as the combined videos became known) led to Comedy Central acquiring "South Park."  And "South Park" was an instant smash-success.  The adventures of four foul-mouthed children getting into wacky, sci-fi hijinks every week led to huge ratings for Comedy Central, which sparked a moral panic (as seemed to be the case with just about every god-damned thing in the '90s) which probably just led to higher ratings.  In two years' time, "South Park" was big enough to justify making the leap to the big screen.  In the early days it was a true phenomenon.

"South Park's" success was a game-changer in a lot of ways.  For Comedy Central, it was the beginning of their ascendance into a pop culture megalith that only now is beginning to wane.  People tuned in to see "South Park" but they gradually began to stay for the rest of it, the same way my sister and I had.  And soon enough "The Man Show," "Win Ben Stein's Money" and other early remoras coasted along in "South Park's" wake, paving the way for later successes like "The Daily Show."

"South Park" may seem long-in-the-tooth now, but a reason for that is that it inspired a rash of ostensibly adult cartoons with a sophomoric, even juvenile sensibility, regardless of how sharp or intelligent the writing was.  Despite Barbara Bush's early pearl-clutching, "The Simpsons" was always a family show.  Though goofy, "The Critic" was never something you couldn't show on ABC in primetime after "Home Improvement."  And even Pat Boone would probably be fine with the muted, character-based humor of "King of the Hill."

"South Park," though was scatological, sexual, and asocial.  In the wasteland of basic cable it could afford to be, because the thought was no one was watching so cable channels could be more experimental.  Except then people started watching.  And like "The Simpsons" before it, "South Park" would inspire a slew of imitations and loving recreations.  Its success also led to more cultural cachet for its creators, who would go on to create "Team America: World Police" and "The Book of Mormon" to major critical and financial success.  But, interestingly enough, though they could have moved on many times, they've never stopped making "South Park."  There's something to be said for first loves, I suppose.

Friday, May 20, 2016

CHS Sci-Fi Day or Bust!

Hey everybody!  I've got some exciting news: tomorrow is the Carlisle High School Sci-Fi Day in Carlisle, PA!

I can already hear you scoffing. But you shouldn't! I attended the CHS Sci-Fi Day last year as a vendor and I am happy to report it is one of the best-run conventions I've ever attended. I think the kids are probably hungrier to run a good event than some of the adults who are burnt out on con organizing.

The school is located at:

Carlisle High School 623 W. Penn St Carlisle, PA 17013 Swartz Building

You can swing by tomorrow any time between 11:00 am and 5:00 pm (EST, naturally) to pick up books by myself and several of the other fine authors in the Red Adept Publishing stable. Of course, autographs will be limited to me, but that's still a bit of a draw isn't it? Hope to see you there!

Wednesday, May 18, 2016


Hey everybody!  Since shit is expensive all over the good folks at Severed Press have decided to give you (yes, you!) a break and put BILLY AND THE CLONEASAURUS on sale for only 99¢!  And if you're on Kindle Unlimited, guess what?  It's 100% free.

The sale ends tomorrow (as in Thursday) at 3:00 am EST, so you only have about 15 hours.  Better strike while the iron's hot!

Not convinced?  Well, why listen to me?  Listen to some respected reviewers:

"Billy and the Cloneasaurus is a complex, thought-provoking story that is oddly inspiring. Kozeniewski is a rich voice that booms over his peers. I am coming to think of him as the closest thing to the reincarnation or spiritual successor of Ray Bradbury."
- David Sharp, Horror Underground

"The story is a great blend of humour and philosophical thought, it is utterly un-pretentious and may well have made my list of ‘books to buy in paperback’ for that hypothetical bookshelf I plan on having in the next few months."

"Because the real story is just TOO FREAKIN’ BRILLIANT. It grabbed me from the first page and held me in such rapt fascination that I was almost halfway through and utterly hooked before the cloneasaurus itself appeared and reminded me, “oh yeah, there’s that, too!”"
- Christine Morgan, The Horror Fiction Review

Monday, May 16, 2016

Re-Animated #5: King of the Hill

In 1993 a friend of mine tried to explain what "Beavis and Butt-Head" was to me.  He explained that it was two boys and they were bad and it was hilarious.  I couldn't even really understand if it was a cartoon or not.

(Don't worry, we'll get back to what, exactly, "Beavis and Butt-Head" was in a later installment of Re-Animated because...well, look, just trust me, it fits into the tapestry better later.)

My confusion disappeared real quick because even though at that time I wasn't allowed to watch MTV at home, "Beavis and Butt-Head" quickly came to dominate the national zeitgeist.  Reactionary opinion of the show basically boiled down to, "This is a show about delinquents who do nothing but watch TV and hurt themselves and one another, and they're inspiring our nation's children to do the same."

Of course, anyone who's ever watched "Beavis and Butt-Head" for even an episode knows that the kids are not supposed to be role models.  They're supposed to be laughingstocks.  They're the objects of derision.  This show clearly came from the perspective of a long-suffering authority figure who watched as stupid, ignorant people just seem to go about being stupid and ignorant and never learning from their mistakes.

That authority figure was Mike Judge.  Today, of course, we all know his shtick and movies like "Idiocracy" and "Office Space" have raised him to the level of anti-anti-intellectualism icon.  But back in the '90s all anyone knew him for was "Beavis and Butt-Head," a show whose provenance was dicey enough that half the country still thought he was encouraging kids to play baseball with frogs and set trailers on fire.

But all that would finally start to change in 1997, with the debut of a cartoon series in some way unlike any other before or since: "King of the Hill."

"King of the Hill" is rife with the DNA of "Beavis and Butt-Head."  For a long time it was practically impossible to tell the main character, Hank Hill, apart from B&B's long-suffering neighbor, Mr. Anderson.  In fact, Judge's original proposal for the show was to have disturbing, uncanny animation of a family of rednecks with buck teeth and other signs of inbreeding.

I suppose that lost show proposal would've had its merits, but somebody at Fox put the kibosh on it and Judge created a realistic show instead.  In fact, "King of the Hill" is so realistic in so many ways that it's hard to think of a compelling reason why it had to be a cartoon at all.  Except for some of the staging of some of the more outlandish episodes (none of which have scratched even the surface outlandishness of your average "Simpsons" or "Critic" episode) "King of the Hill" could easily have been a live-action series.

In fact, "King of the Hill" is excruciating in its realism and specificity, traits that make it almost impossible not to relate to the Hill family.  Or, to put it another way, their trials are so unique to them as individuals that anyone who's ever felt like an individual can relate.  Even the setting was so exquisitely drawn to be a part of a particular type of suburban Texas town that anyone who's ever lived anywhere can relate.  Sure, Tom Landry Middle School is not your middle school, but it's just as real as your middle school.  And Sugarfoot's is not your local themed restaurant, but it's just as real as your local themed restaurant. 

And the characters!  Hank is almost impossibly square, the sort of person who is constantly extolling the virtues of any place even smacking of some form of authority: government, military, even the post office.  Sports are his religion (although, with the church being hierarchical, he loves church, too) and he draws almost all of the joy in his life from fixing up his yard and home.  As for work...well, in one episode, he states, "I can't just leave 15 minutes early on a Friday!"  And then proceeds to sit inside at his desk for the next 15 minutes before leaving with his friends.

Peggy, his wife, is similarly square, but is saddled with the worst of all possible delusions.  She thinks she's amazing at everything.  She thinks she's a genius because she's a substitute Spanish teacher, but in reality her Spanish is worse than mine.  She thinks she's beautiful when really...well, let's just say she's lucky Hank loves her.  She thinks she's cool, but about the "coolest" thing she does is play Boggle well.  The great distance between Peggy's actual worth and her sense of self-worth are a constant source of drama for the show.

And rounding out the loving little family unit is Bobby.  Bobby is such a good kid it's almost heartbreaking to see the way his father misunderstands him.  Bobby doesn't have a malicious bone in his body and truly, genuinely just wants his parents to be proud of him, but he's just a little...odd.  To his father's chagrin, he has zero interest in sports, but is damn good at comedy.  And while his father fell in love with the one girl he dated in high school, Bobby's sense of humor seems to attract all kinds of girls.  Hank and Bobby seem to constantly be at loggerheads because their obsessions are so superficially different.  But when either one squints just so, and realizes what it is about their disparate hobbies that appeals to the other one they can usually bond over their shared obsession with obsession.

I could go on.  Over the thirteen seasons it aired, "King of the Hill" built up a commendable cast of characters and though it often went over the same ground with the same character motivations, it never felt like an episode was just another trip to the well.

"King of the Hill" could have felt exploitative.  As I said, in its original iteration, it apparently was condemning the sort of small-town Texas types it starred as hicks and yokels.  That's the way "Beavis and Butt-Head" went about satire.  But as it turned out, "King of the Hill" was a very different animal.  It would've been easy to make Hank an object of derision for his reactionary attitudes.  But instead, in almost every episode, Hank struggled to make the changes of turn-of-the-century America fit into his worldview.  It gave the show heart.  It made you root for Hank, even when he was almost an object of slapstick, being kicked around by the realities of the changing times.

And there were also no formulas for success.  In some episodes, Hank's old-fashioned morals turned out to be right, even in the face of an entire society seemingly poised against him.  In other episodes, Hank realized that not everything was black and white, and that he still had things to learn.  Ultimately, everyone on the show was a good person, trying to support the people around them, and sometimes they just had different opinions and beliefs.  It made every episode just like real life: the stakes were just continuing living, and that can feel as high or as low as you let it be.

Perhaps most importantly, "King of the Hill" stuck around.  Premiering in 1997, it remained on the air, opposite "The Simpsons" in various time slots until 2010.  Never a ratings giant, but it made a big splash when it first premiered and then carried enough goodwill watchers to last 13 seasons, it proved that "The Simpsons" wasn't the only primetime animated show that could survive.  And in some ways, that opened the floodgates... 

Friday, May 13, 2016

Deserve's Got Nothing to Do With It

It's exhausting most days to be an adult.

I don't want to get up five days a week and drive to an office where I'm shut up in a cubicle for eight hours trying to teach idiots how to use spreadsheets and arithmetic.

But I do.  Because I like to eat.

And I don't like to pay bills.  Or mow the lawn.  Or sit at condo meetings.  Or be the fucking condo president.

But I do.  Because I like having a roof over my head and electricity.

What would I rather do?  Well, you can probably guess if you're reading this.  All you need to do is take a glance up at my header.  I'd rather write about zombies and clones and wacky adventures.  I'd rather network all day with famous people and schmooze all night with my fans.

But, see, I don't make money doing that.  Or rather, I make a little money doing that.  But not enough to pay for my house and my car and my groceries and hot and cold running water.

Does that mean I'm a shitty writer?  Well, no, not really.  Not to toot my own horn, but I'm actually a pretty good writer.  Hundreds of independent, unpaid reviewers have publicly stated that my stuff is, you know, pretty good.  There are some who think I'm shit.  Okay, good on 'em.  Different strokes for different folks and all that.  The point is not that I'm universally acclaimed, it's just that I'm not deluding myself.  The public's not exactly beating down doors to get my stuff, but when I can shove it by hook or by crook into their hands, they think it's pretty good.

So where does that leave me?  Well, it doesn't leave me with any more money, that's for damn sure.  And it doesn't leave me quitting my day job any time soon.  Maybe some day, after years of hard work paying my dues, I'll be able to quit the day job.  For some authors (most authors, I'd venture to guess) that day never comes.  Okay.

So what does that make me?  Well, it makes me an amateur.  Or, if you're finicky about terms (and, Jesus Christ, what writer isn't finicky about terms) it makes me a minor league ball player.  I'm not selling out Nationals Park, but I can half fill City Island for the Nationals farm team in a pinch.

So where am I going with all this?  Well, I'm going to say some shit that people won't want to hear.  But I'm just exhausted not saying it.  Every day my Facebook feed is filled to brimming with artists, both amateur and professional, complaining about how people don't pay them enough.  How some people even have the gall (gasp!) to ask artists to work for free.  And you wouldn't ask your doctor or your plumber to work for free, would youWould you?!?!?!?

Yeah, well, guess what, kids?  My doctor went to medical school for eight years.  My plumber is bonded.  Hell, it took me a college degree and ten years of experience under my belt to get where I am in my day job.

But you know what?  That's all basically irrelevant.  Because social workers need a fuckton of schooling and they get paid shit.  And teachers need degrees, not to mention patience and a whole host of soft skills, and they basically get kicked around like soccer balls.  And being a janitor is really fucking hard, backbreaking work that you do all fucking day and you get paid peanuts.

You see, my darlings, what is important in this lovely capitalist system of ours is not how you value your own time or effort.  Rather, it is how much people are willing to pay you for your labor.  Now my various bosses have evaluated my eight hours a day in the cubicle at a certain figure which is sufficient for me to pay my bills.  Yours may pay you $7.25 an hour.  Fuck, yours may pay you a 6-figure salary.

This is not complicated stuff.  Capitalism ain't fair.  It has to do with supply and demand.  Now, when it comes to art, the demand at present is not for me.  Nobody is going, "I have $6!  Give me an unknown novel by an unknown author!  I demand to be surprised about whether I will enjoy this reading experience or not!"

Nope.  They, like you (if you're honest with yourself) are mostly saying, "I have $6.  Give me another James Patterson novel.  He didn't disappoint me last time and he won't this time."

Now does that mean I am just as deserving of money as James Patterson?  I dunno, maybe.  I'm probably about as good as he is when it comes to pure craft.  In terms of pure craft I know I'm better than Dan Brown and quite a few other major leaguers.  But I can't just complain my way into an audience, or be upset that they found audiences and I didn't.

As a wiser man than me once said, "Deserve's got nothing to do with it."

So please, for God's sake, will you shut up about how much your time is worth?  Your time is worth precisely bullshit until people are willing to pay for it.  Maybe if you spent less time complaining about how you won't work for exposure, and more time getting yourself some goddamned exposure, the value of your work would go up.

I know this isn't going to stop the deluge of memes on my FB feed.  Because I'm friends with a lot of artists.  And if there's two things that artists can agree on it's that:

1.)  being paid in exposure is bullshit
2.)  not having enough exposure sucks

Maybe one day someone, Batman perhaps, will come along and deliver some kind of equitable solution for this Gordian Knot of a fucking puzzle.  But until then I'll just be working all day to pay my bills and working all night in the hopes my dream will come true.

P.S.  If Batman does swing by one day to solve the exposure conundrum, can someone please stop by my cubicle and let me know?

Wednesday, May 11, 2016

Ten Common Mistakes Werewolf Authors Make

10.  Do not messily devour a hart over your keyboard. Blood is hard to get out from the keys

9.  No matter how much the muse is flowing, set aside time for the important things in life, like chaining yourself up on transformation night.

8.  When pitching an agent, resist the urge to finish with, "...or I will visit my ages-old affliction upon you!"

7.  When writing non-werewolf characters, try to remember that their culture does not sanction the eating of hearts. No, not even then.  (Thanks to our good friend Elizabeth Corrigan for this contribution.)

6.  Avoid referring to your readers as "prey-animals."

5.  Remember: an elevator pitch needs to be more than just a primal howl.

4.  "Write drunk, edit sober" should not be taken as a metaphor for "Write wolf, edit human."

3.  When negotiating contracts, it is now considered old-fashioned to demand a clause stating that payment will never be remitted in silver.  With the exception of MacMillan, all the major houses are now on the gold standard.

2.  Avoid prologues.  And old gypsy women.

1.  The only way to improve is to read often, write often, and kill all the furless weaklings who get in your way.

Friday, May 6, 2016

2016 World Horror Convention Gross-Out Contest: The Winning Entry

WARNING:  The following short story contains graphic depictions of scat play, grotesque violence, and non-consensual sex.  It is not intended for minors or easily offended adults.

***I am officially an Award-Winning Author!  Woot woot!  The award I won, as I described in Wednesday's post, was the 2016 World Horror Convention Gross-Out Contest.  This was a contest by writers of extreme horror for writers of extreme horror, so as stated above, please do not read anything below the photo if you are not accustomed to and do not consent to reading something deliberately, offensively grotesque.  The actual award consisted of copies of GHOUL by Brian Keene, HYDE by Vince Churchill, and HUSK by Rachel Autumn Deering.  Special thanks go out to beta readers Christine Morgan, Nikki Howard, Trista M. Borgwardt, Meghan Shena Hyden, and Gino Alfonso.***

If you read past this's your own fault.

“Dildoey McDildoface: A Poop Dildo’s Odyssey”
by Stephen Kozeniewski

The evening began, as every evening did, with a condom full of watery diarrhea being frozen into a dildo.

Neil was not allowed to use his actual penis in Holly, so he kept it stapled through the foreskin to his taint with a heavy-duty industrial staple.

Neil then used Dildoey McDildoface - the name they had agreed upon for their frozen poop dildo - to ream Holly until the condom burst and semi-frozen shit the consistency of Hawaiian Shave Ice filled her vaginal orifice.

"Squish squish," Holly said, contracting her kegels so that the brown, corny slush squeezed out of her pussyhole as though it were a Slurpee dispenser.

Streaks of red cherry flavoring flowed through the dookie sorbet, hinting at Holly’s period.

"My turn!" Neil said, eagerly yanking the industrial staple out of his grundle.

Holly took Neil's thick, throbbing penis into her mouth.  Scarcely had she begun to prod it with her tongue when an eruption of warm, sticky liquid sprayed the back of her throat.  Neil's uncircumcised cock deflated like a balloon and slipped, flaccid, out of her facehole.

"Wow, you were eager," she said, swallowing what little salty fluid didn't flood out of her mouth and dribble down her chin.

"What do you mean?" Neil asked.  "I'm not even hard yet."

With a second glance at his no longer turgid member, she realized Neil's cock hadn't been thick with erection.  It had been thick with a huge, pulsating boil.

Choking, she stared down at the crustifying yellow pus that she had mistaken for jizz running down her blouse.  Bile boiled up from her spleen.  Warm, liquidy puke sprayed out of her mouth, staining the backs of her teeth a putrescent green.

She rose, shaking, from her knees, blouse and shirt now covered with a congealing mix of her own vomit and the purulent discharge from Neil's diseased cock.

"Son of a bitch!" she shrieked.

"Hey, hey," he said in a soothing tone, "How about if I return the favor?  Will that make you feel better?"

She took his head in her hands like a basketball and slid his face the whole length down her dripping blouse so that it was coated with yellowish green grue and speckled with chunks of partially masticated carrot.  She shoved his head under her blouse and pressed his nose to her clitoris.

Plunged in darkness, nostrils recoiling at the fishy stench of uncleaned vagina commingled with drying vomit, pus, menstrual blood, and turd Slush Puppy, Neil started licking.  He had just made his way through the congealing crust of semi-gelatinous fluids and was about to hit skin when Holly came for the first time.  He almost instantly felt a tingle in his cheeks.  Then the tingle became a burn and he felt dozens of red-hot stabs of pain, like someone putting out a whole pack of cigarettes on his face at once.

As he felt the slimy undulations of dozens of tiny, vermian bodies pioneering a webway of furrows through his face, he realized that Holly’s whole crotch was riddled with worms.  And now his face was, too.  He tried to scream out, but Holly repeatedly slapped the back of his head with one hand and pressed his face against the city of parasites that was her genitals with the other.

The first batch of worms quickly grew bored nesting in his cheeks and began to spread down into his throat, up into his scalp, and back into sinuses.  Then a new wave of immigrants, pilgrims fleeing Holly’s vomity, shit-filled, still menstruating cooter landed on the Plymouth Rock the first wormgasm had made of Neil’s cheeks.  Each time Neil stopped licking, a flurry of blows rained down on his head, and each time he succeeded in his appointed task, the spasming of Holly’s orgasms flooded his face with new parasites.

Soon his nose and ears were packed with intrepid worms.  His eyes disappeared with alarming speed, as the worms seemed to favor the delicate visual flesh over his other parts.  And once they had made haste of his eyeballs, they began to munch on his optic nerve and from there slipped into his brainpan.

His attempts at cunnilingus became erratic, then spastic, then finally stopped altogether.  When she could slap no more orgasms out of him, she dropped the eyeless corpse to the ground, watching in charmed fascination as the thousands of worms burrowed through his flesh, leaving trails like a colony of prairie dogs.

As Neil voided his bowels one last time, Holly went to fetch a condom.  After a few hours in the freezer, Dildoey McDildoface would be ready for tomorrow night.


Wednesday, May 4, 2016

World Horror Con 2016 Autopsy


That was a hell of a convention.  So much so that I didn't even get my shit together enough to talk about it on Monday, which was my intent.

So, a few months ago my good friend Martin Berman-Gorvine asked me if I thought getting a table at the World Horror Convention in Provo, UT would be worth it this year.  I do a ton of cons local to my area (Baltimore, Philadelphia, and environs) but I honestly could not say what World Horror would be like.  I do, however, have a nice network of horror authors I know, so I threw the question out to Facebook.

In a classic case of "no, it's not for me, it's for my friend" a ton of people told me I should go to WHC just to appreciate it, and not buy a table.  Amongst those people was my hero, Brian Keene, who was quite insistent that I not waste my time as a vendor and actually enjoy myself at a con for once.  Well, an opportunity to hang out with Brian is hard to pass up, and there weren't really any financial or relationship constraints, so I said "what the hell?" and bought my tickets.

I flew out of Harrisburg last Thursday at 7:00 am (!!!) and, after a brief layover in Chi-town finally arrived in Provo around 1:00 pm local time.  I tried to check in, but check-in wasn't until 3, so I texted Brian and asked if I could come hang out.

"Come on up," he replied, "I'm about to interview Jack Ketchum for the podcast."


So I sat, mesmerized, a fly on the wall as two horror legends chatted in front of me.  If you're a D&D or Pathfinder, the only way I can describe Ketchum is that he must have a +10 Charisma modifier.  Even though we weren't recording live, it was like I was watching him wrap the podcast audience around his little finger.  When it was over, Keene and I both looked at each other and then he said what I was thinking:

"Was it just me or was that the best interview I've ever done?"

Then I took a stroll with Brian Fucking Keene and Jack Fucking Ketchum and we had lunch at an authentic (well, for Utah, I guess) New York-style deli.  That alone was worth the price of admission.  But that was by no means the end of my trip.  In fact, that was just the first afternoon.

Later that afternoon Rachel Autumn Deering and her lovely wife Jessica arrived.  I spent the bulk of the con chatting and eating with them and a sharp young fellow named Richard Wolley about the crushing nihilistic existential dread in which I live my life while trying not to be too much of a bringdown artist.  I couldn't swear I was successful but Rich, Rachel, and Jessica haven't unfriended me on Facebook yet so I guess I must be all right.

That night the drinking began and never really let up, although I suppose there were brief, unplanned periods of sobriety.  I certainly had to pretend to be sober by 9:00 am Friday for my first panel, which was on social media.  I was worried at first because our moderator was a paid social media consultant, but by the time we had jumped in I realized at least that the best practices I was suggesting she was agreeing with, so I guess I must be doing something right.

Later I had a "Horror in the Small Press" panel and got to extol the virtues of Red Adept, Severed, Mirror Matter, and Sinister Grin.  Ironically, my phone went off that morning advising me that one of my manuscripts had just barely been edged out of contention with Ragnarok.  Being at WHC and all, I had completely forgotten about it until someone brought up Ragnarok on the panel and I said, "Oh, yeah, I just got rejected by them!"

Then that night came the big event!  The World Horror Convention 2016 Gross-Out Competition.  Imagine sitting in a room packed with your horror author peers - and, oh yeah, Jack Ketchum and Brian Keene and Linda Addison and Jeff Strand and a half a dozen other heavyweights - and trying to gross them out.  When Strand went, I was sure my goose was cooked.  He writes YA so I'm not supposed to repeat his whole story, but a couple of lines brought down the house.

(Incidentally, I do not write YA, so I will be publishing my entry here on the blog on Friday.  You have been warned.)

The competition was stiff.  Paul Genesse (who we'll talk more about later) got up and extemporaneously riffed on his time as an extra on the set of "The Human Centipede."  Connor Rice, a newcomer from Texas, spoke, also off-the-cuff, as it turns out, about a long, dark night of incest.  Martin had signed up on the spot, and as the others, including Jack Ketchum, went, he was clacking away.  Martin's story about a serial killer attempting to rape a breast cancer survivor, was the final entry. 

But just before him I stepped up.  I refilled my cup of bourbon from the bottle on the judges table as Keene introduced me.  Then I turned to the audience and began to recite "Dildoey McDildoface: A Poop Dildo's Odyssey," which I had written the night before the con.  I realized that I had one advantage, which was that in person I could act out all the parts of the story.  And as I did, the laughter grew more and more intense. 

Each of us were stopped at the three minute mark to determine if we should go forward.  When my pause came, the audience was riotous, and I was pretty sure I had clinched it, unless Strand had managed to squeak past me with the judges.  Then I finished and waited as Keene and Linda Addison put on a vaudeville routine that may well have been the highlight of the whole convention as the judges conferred.

To Richard went the runner up prize: a powdered donut with a bite taken out of it.

Paul came in third for his improve work, and received a Cthulhu bumper sticker.

When they announced Strand as second place, and handed him his fuzzy monster toy, I knew I had cinched it.

I stepped up and received a copy of Rachel's HUSK, Keene's GHOUL, and Vince Churchill's HYDE.

I was probably a little buzzed but I stood up there long enough for Keene to ask if I wanted to make a speech.

"Thank you!" I said, "I have waited all my life to be told I was a better writer than Jack Ketchum, and tonight you've all made my dream come true!"

What a delight.  Anyway, that was the big highlight of my con. 

I went on to meet Michael Bailey of Dark Regions Press and even to pitch him my latest sci-fi outing. 

I got to moderate a panel with Joe McKinney, Bree Ogden, and Michaelbrent Collings on the evolution of the zombie.

I got to meet Kevin J. Anderson, who signed a book for my roommate and even told me he remembered me from when I sent him a copy of BRAINEATER.  (In fact, that'll probably be the subject of an entire blogpost in the future, don't let me forget.)  I even got to be on a panel later with KJA.

Oh, yes, mustn't forget about Genesse.  When we first arrived, I remembered seeing that Genesse was going to be interviewing some of the guests of honor, and we were all in agreement when we said: "who the fuck is that?"  I was even worried for a minute that the interviews would be terrible.  But I sat on Keene's interview, and let me tell you: I was blown away.  If you are ever organizing a con, Paul Genesse is the guy you want doing your interviews.  He was agile, erudite, had obviously done his research, and his questions were probing, funny, and interesting.  None of this, "So who are you and what are you doing here?" crap.  He was asking Keene about deep cuts from his past, when he met Alice Cooper and things like that.  The guy was a dynamite interviewer, and in retrospect I'm not surprised he placed in the Gross-Out.

At Keene's interview I also got to tell him how I really felt about him: that he's an asshole who's ruined horror.  No, I'm just kidding.  Although I did get to finally tell him how much his support has meant to me, and I'm glad I got to do that before he died, which judging by the amount he drinks, should be any day now.  No, I'm just kidding again.  But I am glad I got to say that.

And speaking of drinking...

The convention concluded in perhaps the best possible way with a huge party.  I say "huge" but really it was pretty intimate.  I got to hang out with Bryan Killian, who I found really is a kindred spirit of mine.  I also got to see Sanford Allen again, who I had met the first night at the bar and then had dinner with.  I probably wouldn't even talk about this party because it feels like talking out of turn, but there are pictures of it all over the internet, so I guess the secret's out.  It really was a great way to end the con. 

Er, well, although, I did get to drive back to the airport the next day with Vincent Price's daughter Victoria, Keene, all our luggage, an entire art show display, and a big black service poodle.  And most exciting of all we didn't die.
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