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, 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.
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