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, July 29, 2016

"I'm Dreaming of a White Doomsday" Trailer

Check out the trailer for "I'm Dreaming of a White Doomsday," the new feature-length film from our good friend Mike Lombardo!

Wednesday, July 27, 2016

Scares That Care Autopsy

On Friday my sister graduated with a nursing degree from Johns Hopkins in Baltimore.  Now bear in mind she is 36, got her undergrad from York College in Psychology at 22, and her Masters in Social Work from Tulane at 24.  Am I name-dropping?  Yeah.  Well, I don't get to name-drop when it comes to my own education, so, yeah, I am.  More name-dropping to come when I get to the actual convention part.

So, anyway, my sister reached a point where she had essentially reached the pinnacle of her career as a social worker.  Her options were to stagnate or go into an administrative role where she would no longer be doing any actual social work.  And she wanted to keep helping people, but have a job with actual growth potential.  So she became a nurse.

It's all pretty amazing to me.  But, then, I've never looked at my day job as a vocation.  To me, my day job has always been a way to earn a paycheck to pursue my real goal, which is, of course, writing.  My sister genuinely wants to do good all day.  So I guess changing careers in her mid-thirties is just part of walking the walk.

My father, stepmother, aunt, and I finally met my sister's "special person" (or whatever the kids are calling it these days.)  The actual ceremony was blissfully brief, and I caught several Rattatas and an Eevee.  Then we had lunch at one of those hipster places where you just keep staring and staring at the menu, willing some actual food to appear listed on it.  For the pièce de résistance (French: piece of resistance) we played a few rounds of pinball at a local bar.

From there it was on to Williamsburg, Virginia.  As an avid fan and former employee of Wawa I've been delighted over the last few years to see that estimable chain finally making its way to Richmond and environs.  My last few trips to Raleigh to meet with my publisher Red Adept usually resulted in a Wawa pit stop, which is usually only something I can accomplish on my trips to Philadelphia, thanks to the overbearing predominance of garbage convenience marts Turkey Hill and Sheetz here in central Pennsylvania.

The only problem is deciding when, exactly, to stop at Wawa, and hoping not to miss the brief window around Richmond where they exist.  Unfortunately, on my way to STC this year, I missed my window and ended up having to stop at an Exxon.  And then, of course, they immediately started back up again, as if mocking me with their delicious, delicious tuna hoagies.

When I arrived in Williamsburg, I was in a shirt and tie, having just come from my sister's graduation.  I figured it would be the weirdest thing anyone was wearing at the con, so I left it on and finally got to meet John Urbancik, my roommate and fellow author.

Perhaps I should back up.  I had been seriously considering attending STC this year, but I missed the window for a vendor's table, except on the second floor, and I wasn't really interested in finding out whether a second floor vendor's table was going to be worthwhile or not.  And then I ended up pussyfooting around so much the hotel sold out, which ended up being a second strike against the convention.  (There's nothing worse than getting drunk at a con and realizing you have to drive, even a mile down the road, to your sleeping quarters.)  I had a reading scheduled on Sunday, but when my sister initially told me (or I initially misunderstood) that her graduation was on Saturday, I decided not to bother to drive five hours for a few hours of convention-going.

Everything turned around in the space of a few days after that, then.  I realized my sister's graduation was actually on Friday, which meant I would have two solid days of conning.  It would also be in Baltimore, which was an hour closer to Williamsburg from where I am.  Then it turned out that John was looking for a roommate, which put me back in the hotel.  So I stopped vacillating and decided to come.

The first night, I caught up with my sister-from-another-mister Rachel Autumn Deering and her wife, Jessica.  I also got to meet Matt and Melissa Hayward, the glitterati of the Dublin horror scene.  John and Melissa then realized, "Sixth Sense"-like, that they were actually ghosts, as Matt received a message his sister never sent indicating that she and John were dead.  Then the lights went out.  It was all very spooky if you believe in bullshit like ghosts.

Adam Cesare and Scott Cole also were around, and, of course, filmmaking maestro and diseased mind Mike Lombardo.  Gathered in the hotel lobby we lacked only one thing: alcohol.  And when the bar closed, our intoxication aspects grew dim indeed.  We ended up staying up until after 6 anyway, partially because the conversation was good, but also partially because I wanted John to have at least a few solid hours of sleep before discovering my secret snoring habit.

The next morning somehow I woke around ten and decided to finally see what the con was all about.  I had promised to get copies of "The Zine" (a short throwback to the zines of the '90s featuring stories by six of the authors at the con) for heroic super-fan Kenny Hughes and one half of the Sisters of Slaughter, Michelle Garza.  Kenny had also asked Jonathan Janz for a copy of "The Zine" so I decided my first stop was to meet Janz (which I wanted to do anyway) and find out if I needed to procure one or two.

"The Zine" signed by Brian Keene for The Sisters of Slaughter

Janz was busy running for mayor or something, so I wasn't able to talk to him, but I did get to meet his table-mate, Kristopher Rufty, and then move down the line to talk to a few other authors, including John, Mary SanGiovanni, and Brian Keene.  I managed to catch Janz for just a second, introduce myself, tell him how my roommate Meghan Hyden had regaled me with stories about him, and find out that he had, in fact, gotten Kenny's "Zine."  So that meant I just had to get one, for Michelle.

Everyone was selling copies of "The Zine" but I also had come to STC with the specific intention of meeting Jay Wilburn.  Jay has been featured in just about every anthology I've ever been in, including the micro-mini-press published ANOTHER HUNDRED HORRORS, which was my very first publication ever and is now out of print.  Jay had shaved his beard, which made him look...well, not good, but better than when he had the beard.  I also got to meet Armand and Shelly Rosamilia.  Then I began collecting autographs, meeting Yvonne Navarro, Bryan Smith, and Weston Ochse in the process.  Then, promptly as soon as I had finished that fetch quest, Aaron X tweeted me and asked for his own copy of "The Zine," so I started  all over again.  This resulted in Jay and Armand dubbing me "Aaron" for the rest of the con (and my life, apparently.)

"The Zine" signed by Yvonne Navarro for Aaron (the real Aaron)

As long as I'm doing all this name dropping, let's drop some fucking names.  In the guest room was the guy who played Father Gabriel on "The Walking Dead" (replete with a sign that read "No, I don't know who Negan killed.")  Sid Haig of "The Devil's Rejects" was there, as was The Cigarette Smoking Man from "The X-Files" and Mitch Pileggi, and the guy who played the warden in "The Shawshank Redemption."  Joe Lansdale was there, too.  I apologize if I forgot anyone or forgot your real name - this is just a hotwash, not a record for posterity.

I moved on to the vendor's room, which was just as bopping as the celebrity room in a lot of ways.  There I got to see Christian Jensen, who I actually met earlier this year at Amazicon, and we traded Amazicon war stories.  I saw Adam and Scott again, and got to meet Matt Serafini.  Then I got to meet Matt Manochio, who I know because Meghan has a stack of his novels on my end table right now, as well as Glenn Rolfe, whose BLOOD AND RAIN I'm currently reading.

Then I saw Lombardo again, and sold him a copy of BILLY AND THE CLONEASAURUS, and got to watch the trailer for his feature-length debut "I'm Dreaming of a White Doomsday."  We also discussed Lombardo stuff, which is a prerequisite for being around Lombardo, and, no, there is really no other way to describe it than "Lombardo stuff."

I shoved a ham sandwich down my gullet because, despite being surrounded by people I knew or wanted to know, I couldn't find anyone to have lunch with.  The con was just too damn busy.  And I realized I hadn't even attended any of the programming.  So I checked my schedule and saw that Armand had just started a reading with Hunter Shea.  Now, a few weeks ago I reached out to Hunter to ask for some advice about cryptids, so I definitely wanted to shake his hand in person, too.  But Hunter wasn't there!

Instead, I got a sweet surprise in the form of Jaime Johnesee.  Armand had (I guess) changed the double reading into a panel discussion with Mark Tufo and a few other authors I didn't know from Devil Dog Press.  But Jaime is another sweetheart contemporary of mine along the lines of Jay.  Well, less ratlike and hate-filled than Jay, but still.  So after the panel I walked up to introduce myself, but I didn't have to, because Jaime was already shouting my name and leaping into my sturdy, manly arms.

I neglected to mention I wasn't wearing underpants.  It wasn't particularly pertinent until just now.  But, you see, I hadn't packed any.  Which is exactly the sort of problem you find yourself embroiled in on the con circuit.  So, at about 2:30 in the afternoon I hit the mean streets of Williamsburg looking for skivvies and liquor, as, I suppose, countless sailors have before me.  I was determined not to spend a second night sober, because, really, I wouldn't wish sobriety on anyone.

Everything you need for a successful con.

So, finally powered up with a handle of vodka, a handle of bourbon, and five pairs of Hanes, I settled in for an afternoon nap.  I emerged from my hibernation later that evening in search of someone to have dinner with.  I was hellbound and determined not to repeat my lunch mistake.  Rachel, Jessica, and Mary had already eaten so my first line of defenses had been penetrated.  I repeatedly made Adam, Scott, and Mike promise not to eat without me.  Then, around 7:30, I left to go eat without them, because I'm an asshole.

Jay, Armand, and Shelly were eating at a place called the 2nd Street Bistro, and I didn't understand why they had driven so far for a meal until I sat down and joined them.  In place of my customary "Team Horror" Red Adept pin I was wearing a magnetic version of Jaime's SHIFTERS cover.  At what turned out to be an astonishingly good dinner, I got to meet Chuck Buda and Frank Edler, while Jay regaled us with his stories about his father being a terrible man, even in church.

(Editor's Note: I suspect Jay Wilburn's father is not a terrible man, church notwithstanding.  In fact, this was a reference to an audiobook narrated by what sounded like Foghorn Leghorn, which had turned into a running joke.)

When we left the restaurant, my phone started dinging and I realized that Scott and Adam had not, in fact, ditched me, but that I had ditched them and 2nd Street Bistro simply had no service.  Luckily, they hadn't left for dinner until about the time I was leaving from dinner, so I was able to catch up with them at the hotel bar.  The gods were smiling upon me, though.  Not only was I sitting in the middle of scaryoke, but I was surrounded by dudes who were into it.  (Except for Scott.)

Adam Cesare and Matt Serafini

So Adam and Matt sang "The Time Warp" while Glenn Rolfe seemed to be headbanging for every song.  Patrick Lacey later clarified for me that Glenn was deep, deep into his fourth pint of the night, and would actually wake up later outside at sunrise, confused as to what had happened.  India Inke joined Adam and Matt for "Summer Lovin'" and I did my own rendition of "Macho Man," which had seemed like a much better idea when it had played in the car on the way down.  Then the other karaoke standards filtered down: "Bohemian Rhapsody," 4 Non Blondes, Insane Clown Posse, you know, the basics.  Joe Ripple, the head of STC, appeared in a bra and we began stuffing money into his cleavage.  It's all for charity, you know?

"The" Glenn Rolfe

When we finally called it quits on scaryoke, it was time to head for the authors' room, where more drinking was afoot.  I got to meet David Bernstein and his wife, Sandy Shelonchik, who is just a ray of sunshine in the boundless morass that is Facebook.  I chatted with David and Patrick about the various publishing kerfluffles I've been involved in.  By the end of the night Matt Hayward was pretending to be Brian Keene on a panel, taking questions from an imaginary audience to which the answers all seemed to be a Groot-like "Brian Keene, Brian Keene."  It was another night where I was not in bed before 6:30.  The last thing I did was try to check up on Glenn, but I guess he was still asleep on that park bench, so I didn't hear back from him until later.

The next morning - and by morning, I mean afternoon - was my panel, the only thing I actually had to be present for all weekend.  I did not feel so good.  And Rachel hates doing panels.  I also had not decided what to read yet.  So I sat down and as Rachel read her reading, I was flipping through my books, trying to pick something out.  I settled on the brothel scene in BRAINEATER, which is usually everybody's favorite.  But just to be sure, I asked the audience if there was anything they wanted to hear.  The response was a hearty request for my 2016 World Horror Convention Gross-Out Contest-winning entry, "Dildoey McDildoFace: A Poop Dildo's Odyssey."  Three people promptly stood up and walked out about thirty seconds in.  I consider it a rousing success.

Afterwards I got to actually sell some books.  I got to meet Alicia and Chris Stamps, who I knew from Twitter, as well as a few other fans.  I'm not sure if the others were long-time fans or just really enjoyed scat humor, but Alicia, at least, had loved it.  Then I wandered off to sell David a book I had promised him, and while turning a corner I heard the first unpassupable pitch of the weekend: a band of four squirrel brothers run a reputable marketing firm by day and solve paranormal mysteries by night.  I had to buy SPOOKY SKWERL STORIES on the spot, and I don't even read YA or have kids.

There's a thing called I think "stage sobriety" where, in the light of an audience, you're able to pull your shit together.  That wore off immediately.  I was stumbling around, incoherently mumbling at 2:15 on a Sunday when Brian yelled at me to go to bed.  So I did.  And when I woke up later I was surrounded by Lombardos and Urbanciks, and we finally had a chance to talk about publishing and (of course) Lombardo stuff.  Then it was time for a proper dinner with the crew who was staying Sunday night.  Bryan and Jennifer Smith (who had gotten married the night before at the con) joined Brian, Mary, Rachel, Jessica, Alicia, Chris, Matt, Melissa, and myself at the Italian place across the street from the hotel.

Being Sunday night we naturally all decided to take it easy by which I mean we started drinking earlier rather than later.  We saw Sid Haig and shouted until we got his attention but then all promptly decided we were too scared to invite him over.  So, yeah, Sid, that was us.  Sorry.

At some point I passed out in my seat, which seems to be a recurring thing with me likely.  But unlike Glenn the night before, I managed to make it back to my room, where I was promptly joined by Lombardo crawling into bed with me and whispering sweet Lombardo things into my ears all night.  And thus Scares That Cares III ended in the best possible way imaginable.  (For those wondering, the child-thing shall be named Lumpy.)

Monday, July 25, 2016

My First Video Review!

I've never had a video review of one of my works before.  Does anybody know if these are becoming the big new thing now?  I may have to start seeking out YouTube reviewers.  In any case, enjoy the Gasmask Reviewer's take on BRAINEATER JONES, including a short rendition!

Friday, July 22, 2016

Scares That Care 3 or Bust!

Hey kids!

In case you (somehow) haven't figured it out it is con season.  But thankfully, my weeks of not updating the blog except to remind you which con or signing I'll be at this week are almost over. 

Sometime late tonight after my sister graduates from Johns Hopkins (I know, right?) I'll be showing up at Scares that Care Weekend Part 3 in Williamsburg, VA.  Scares that Care is a charity convention, so even if you're really not usually the convention-going type, seriously consider this one.  All the proceeds are going to needy families afflicted by cancer and burns.

If you live in the Williamsburg area and want to stop by the convention will be all weekend at:

50 Kingsmill Road
Williamsburg, VA 23185

I won't have a table this time, but I am bringing books so I'm happy to sell them out of the trunk of my car or whatever if you need them.  Basically I'll be going as an attendee, but I will have one bit of programming which is a reading alongside Rachel Autumn Deering on Sunday at 1:00 pm.  Room is TBD as far as I know, but I'll update the blog when/if I find out.

Hope to see you there!

Friday, July 15, 2016

Shore Leave 38 or Bust!

Well, kids, as you're reading this Shore Leave 38 is starting.  And I'll be there.  Along with, you know, Karen Gillan and Robert Picardo and a bunch of famous science fiction people, but I'm sure I am by far the biggest draw.

So how do you get there?  Easy!  Plug in this address to your phone:

The Hunt Valley Inn
245 Shawan Rd.
Hunt Valley MD 21031

Bonus!  If you're within walking distance, you can just pull up your Pokemon Go and search for the horse statue, collecting caterpies and rattatas all the way.  (Don't say I never did anything for you.)

How long does the convention last?  Well, it's this weekend, Friday, Saturday, and Sunday, July 15-17.  Myself and fellow author Mary Fan will be in the vendors room, except when we're not, which in my case will be:

Friday 5:00 pm, Hunt Room - "How to Survive Your First SF/Media Con" (M)
Friday 7:00 pm, Derby Room - "Where Do Writers Start?"
Saturday 2:00 pm, Chase Room - "World-Building" (M)
Sunday 11:00 am, Derby Room - "Step One: Writing! Step Three: Published!" (M)
Sunday 11:00 am, Concierge Room - "Publishing in 2016" (M)
Sunday 3:00 pm, Concierge Room - "Connecting With Readers in the Modern World" (M)

What's that?  I'm double-booked Sunday at 11:00 am?  Yes, that's true and I'm not entirely sure what I'm going to do about that.  I guess you could let me know in the comments if you're dying to hear one or the other.  If not, I'll probably decide the day of based on...things?

Anyway, hope to see you there!

Wednesday, July 13, 2016

Re-Animated #10: Batman: the Animated Series

Up until now I've been using the "Re-Animated" series to build a cohesive story of adult animation from the debut of "The Simpsons" to the present day.  It hasn't been perfect, and if you've been following along you'll notice some holes in the story, some bigger than others.  It was always my intent, though, to finish that singular storyline in 2016 and then go back in later years to fill in some of the holes and maybe even stretch my legs a bit and cover some other, not-strictly-adult shows.

Today, though, I'm going to switch things up a little bit.  While perusing the internet a few days ago I came across the series bible for "Batman: the Animated Series."  It gave me a hankering to talk about "BTAS" on the blog, but instead of just a random post, it certainly seems to fit in the wheelhouse of "Re-Animated" so I'm adding it to that series.  So that's why this post will seem a bit out of order if you've been following along.

"BTAS" (isn't it a shame they didn't call it "Batman: Animated Television Series" or something considering the acronym?) is, in its own way, probably as important as "The Simpsons" to animation, though its influence is felt more in children's programming than adult (although, yes, it was very impactful on adult animation as well.)

I'll try to set the scene as briefly as a windbag like myself can.  The '80s saw a glut of children's cartoon programming based on toys.  Saturday mornings were basically about selling toys and cereal, and while there were exceptions, most shows were just shoddy, barely-concealed marketing ploys.  To put it bluntly, cartoons were crummy, and the general consensus in Hollywood was that kids were dumb and didn't give a shit and would watch anything put before them.

Now, before I get a lot of angry e-mails and comments from people my age, I want to point out that I made the caveat there were indeed good shows that came out of this muck.  No, I wasn't talking about whatever your favorite show that you're about to bring up is.  However, I will also recommend that using the amazing power of looking at things through not the rose-colored glasses of nostalgia, you go on Netflix or Hulu and check out that show that you remember watching so fondly as an eight-year-old.  Come back and let me know how it is now that you're in your thirties.

The second thing you have to understand, and this is going to be the tougher frame of mind to put yourself into, is that superheroes weren't a thing.  Superman and Batman were the most popular superheroes in the world.  There had been a few Superman movies in the '70s, and Batman had finally been brought to the big screen in 1989 for a smash bit by Tim Burton, followed up with the sequel "Batman Returns" in 1992.  Outside of that, though, there was nothing.  I'll put it to you this way: nobody knew who Iron Man was.  They certainly weren't clamoring for his sixth movie.

So, based on the success of the Batman movies, Warner Brothers was essentially gambling that an adaptation of a popular movie would make for good crap programming for kids.  It wasn't a big gamble, considering the popularity of Batman, but bear in mind that we're talking about a time when superheroes weren't everywhere, kid's animation was crap, and adapting movies into animated series was commonplace.  All the ingredients were there for a forgettable hunk of junk a la the "Men in Black" cartoon series, the "Godzilla" cartoon series, or any of dozens of other examples.

So imagine how shocked everyone was when "BTAS" turned out to be good.  And not just good, but damn good.  Damn damn damn good.  "BTAS" had excellent writing, beautiful artwork, and incredible voice acting.  One thing that made it stand out from the bunch was that everyone just seemed to give a shit.  The people behind the scenes could have made "Bat Superhero-Themed Show Targeted at the Cereal-Buying Demographic #17" and probably met the criteria of what Warner Brothers had asked of them, but they didn't.  They made a show that was psychologically complex and beautifully elegant.  It was better than most of the adult shows made at that time.

As I implied above, I've gone back and watched some of the stuff I used to love as a kid, and, dear God, so much of it is literally unwatchable.  I can understand now why my parents didn't have the same verve for "Camp Candy" or "Captain N: The Game Master" that I did.  I have also gone back and re-watched "BTAS."  I will admit it seems less epic than it did when I was a kid.  I remember those 22 minutes seeming like sitting down for a summer blockbuster every day.  Divorced of commercials and the inexperience of youth, it seems more like any other half-hour television show.  Aside from that, though, the quality really stands up.

So, let's finally talk about what inspired me to write this post.  If you're a cartoon freak like me, you probably already devoured that show bible I linked to earlier in the post (and linked here again for your convenience.)  It's really not as long as it seems, by the way - a solid 75% of it is just animation cels.

What I found fascinating was all of the plot points that were in the bible that never made it into the show.  There was a lot of talk of Batman actively making Bruce Wayne look not just inept, but rather villainous.  He was to be the Martin Shrekli of Gotham, essentially, not an actively malicious person but one so greedy and ignorant that poor people would hate him.

As actually depicted in "BTAS," I always thought of Bruce (when he was "on") as more of an absent-minded professor than a greedy jerk.  I can certainly understand why those plans never made it into the show - it's not a great idea to undercut your hero, even if you consider his alter ego a distinct and manufactured person.

Also interesting was all the focus on Alfred being a trickster, delighting in making the Bruce Wayne alter ego look bad as well as faking Batman sightings in Gotham when Bruce Wayne is abroad and vice versa.  Alfred certainly had a dry sense of humor, but this is very much not the Alfred depicted in the show, who is overall a bit geekier than some of his more recent "edgy" depictions, but overall pretty level-headed and a down-to-earth foil for a character who's a billionaire and a superhero.

There are some villains and suggested plots that never got made (some with good reason) and others that, as outlined in the bible, were recognizably adapted into a different but similar episode of the series.  I was also surprised that Renee Montoya and Summer Gleeson were outlined in such detail in the bible.  I mean, I remember the characters, but it's funny how each of the characters kind of found their own level of importance in the show.  Summer Gleeson ended up being a barely-there talking head, while I gather the original intention was to focus on her attempts to unmask Batman in a non-villainous capacity.  It's not hard to see why that sounded like an interesting idea for the show, but it's also not hard to see why it never quite panned out.

So, anyway, that's my take on both "BTAS" and how it compared to its original conception.  Let me know your own thoughts in the comments below!

Monday, July 11, 2016

Progress Marches On...

Every month is pretty much some kind of diversity celebration in the military.  Even folks that aren't in the military will probably be familiar with Black History Month.  But there's also a Hispanic heritage month, Asian and Pacific Islander month, Women in the Military month, and so forth.  To celebrate these events we usually have at least an assembly with a guest speaker, and possibly a party or a few other events.

I've been in the military proper or a DoD civilian job, over eleven years now.  I just made myself feel old.  Thanks a lot, blogging!  But anyway, the point is this is all rather de rigueur at this point for me.  Eleven years and something like six or seven events a year, so at this point I've been invited to on the order of seventy or so diversity events.  At this point I usually just click "add to calendar" and then decide the day of whether I'm too busy to attend or not.

Then, the other day, something struck me.  I walked by a flier advertising LGBTQ Pride Month, which was June.  So, not the other day, I guess at least two weeks ago, but I didn't blog about it until now, so, whatever. 

It suddenly struck me that I was on a naval base and I had been invited to a public, command-sanctioned LGBTQ event.  A two-star admiral was going to be there to make opening remarks.  Senior officers and civilians would sit in the audience and clap politely.  There might be a barbecue afterwards.  People like me would click "add to calendar" and not give it another thought.

It further occurred to me that this was entirely possibly the fourth time we had done this.  And not just us, but every naval base and army post in the world.  I can't speak for every person in a uniform (well, nobody can) but as far as the DoD was concerned, gay pride was de rigueur.

Another author asked me the other day if I knew any gay vets who served under Don't Ask Don't Tell.  The answer is (obviously) yes.  But the other answer is, perhaps just as obviously, I have no idea.  There were guys we all assumed were gay, of course.  But it wasn't just official policy not to ask people about their sexual orientation, it's also not my style.  It's not really my business, honestly.

But I served during DADT and I remember what a pall it cast over us.  There was a certain sense that no one was quite being honest.  The guy next to you could be gay but you couldn't ask him and he couldn't tell you, so you never quite knew.  A Soldier's word - and an officer's word, especially - is supposed to be sacrosanct.  There's supposed to be no room for dishonesty in the military.  And then there was this weird, quasi-religious, quasi-political rule that basically insisted everybody lie and be complicit in a culture of lying.

I can't say I blame any of the gay Soldiers I served with for not coming out.  Of course, we've all heard the apocryphal stories of Soldiers who came out to their units and nobody cared.  I hope that's true because it gives me hope for humanity, but it wasn't my experience in the military.  I can tell you about my experience in the military.

I remember arriving at Officer Basic Course, where our battery commander was a nasty son of a bitch called Janis Mikits.  CPT Mikits didn't have time for anybody or anything, and seemed to want to be almost anywhere but in command of two hundred brand new second lieutenants.  I can't say I blame him for feeling that way, but I do say I blame him for making it clear to every single one of us, every single day just how much he resented us.

One day we were learning about the Combined Federal Campaign, the military's only sanctioned charity fundraiser.  CFC has a listing of thousands of charities across the country which you can donate to specifically, or you can just put your money into a general pot and it's distributed to every charity in the list equally.

Or, as CPT Mikits shouted at us in a crowded amphitheater, "So if you don't want a bunch of fucking fags in San Francisco to get your money, you'd better mark down which charity you want to donate to."

I did indeed immediately mark down which charity I wanted to support.  I seem to recall it was supporting LGBTQ rights, and it may or may not have been located in San Francisco.

In any case, in an environment like that, I wasn't particularly surprised at the furor that arose when the president announced he'd be repealing DADT.  Do you remember those days?  All the frothing at the mouth and arguments about how unit cohesion would dissolve?  How no one would know what bathroom to use and our proud two-and-a-half centuries of military tradition was giving way to politically correct hogwash shoved down our throats by pencil-necked civilians?  Oh, the children, would no one think of the children?

I knew at the time it was all quite stupid.  Stupid on the scale of the arguments about how desegregating the army would lead to similar apocalyptic, dogs and cats getting along type events.  Or how letting women in the military would screw it all up.  Or presumably any other number of times when the military's needed to put on its big boy pants and realize not everybody looks and acts the same, but somehow they can still yank on a uniform and show up to formation on time.

Which brings me back to today, or rather, a few weeks ago, staring at a poster for LGBTQ Pride Month, and realizing that the military, had, in fact, somehow, not collapsed into a singularity in the wake of people coming out.  The past few weeks have been a bad time for diverse voices and national cohesion.  We're reminded every day how Dr. King's dream is, sadly, still deferred.  Equality and unity are elusive, and sometimes seem impossibly far off.  But it's nice to remember that we've come a long way, too.  Eleven years ago if you'd told me I'd see a rainbow flag on a naval base, I would've laughed in your face.  Now it's all quite de rigueur.

Friday, July 8, 2016

Horrible Saturday or Bust!

Guess what tomorrow is?

Yes, Saturday.  Guess what else.

Yes, the 9th.  Guess what else.

All right, stop guessing, you're terrible at this.  I'll just tell you.  Tomorrow is Horrible Saturday at the York Emporium!

What's Horrible Saturday you're asking?

You fucking Philistine. 

First of all, it's an amazing book signing event from 12 noon to 4:00 pm featuring the likes of myself, Lesley Conner, Rachel Autumn DeeringBob FordBrian Keene, Kelli Owen, Jason Pokopec, Mary SanGiovanni, and Chet Williamson.  I'll have all of my novels available for sale, and, as always, autographs are free.

But it's not just that.

There's also going to be a horror panel from 1:30 pm to 2:00 pm starring yours truly and the other authors.  That's going to be broadcast on local TV.  On TV, people.

But it's not just just that.

There's also also going to be a movie screening.  Joe R. Lansdale's "Christmas of the Dead" starring Chet Williamson.  That's from 12 noon to 1:30 pm.  With free popcorn.  Free.

So how do you get in?  Easy, just show up at:

343 W Market St
York, PA 17401

Entrance is free.  Hope to see you there!

Tuesday, July 5, 2016

Cover Reveal: LIFE SENTENCE by Lily Luchesi

Life Sentence (Paranormal Detectives Book Three)
By Lily Luchesi
Genre: Paranormal, horror, mystery
Release Date: August 2nd, 2016
She can fight evil, but can she fight the darkness in her own blood?
After the disastrous events with Miranda have subsided, Danny and Angelica have to adjust to a new kind of life at the Paranormal Investigative Division.
Fiona is still on the loose, and she has all of Hell on her side. Danny begins to enhance his psychic abilities with the help of a soul just like his. Angelica is caught between a rock and a very dark place.
Can their love survive these new trials, or will the past tear them apart?

Read Stake-Out and Miranda's Rights by clicking HERE.

Watch the official trailer featuring the song "Together" by Matt Lande.

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