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, December 15, 2017

How About a Giveaway?

Goodreads Book Giveaway

The Hematophages by Stephen Kozeniewski

The Hematophages

by Stephen Kozeniewski

Giveaway ends December 20, 2017.
See the giveaway details at Goodreads.
Enter Giveaway

Wednesday, November 22, 2017

Chessiecon or Bust!

It's almost Thanksgiving and you know what that means: time for Chessiecon!

I've attended Chessiecon every year since its inception (and one year when it was still Darkover Con.)  I've also been a judge on the Turkey Award panels every year, so this particular convention is getting to be a real holiday tradition for me.

So if you're going to be anywhere near Baltimore, MD this weekend, why not take a break from trampling hordes of people for flatscreen TVs and swing by this fun little convention.  If not for me, then do it for Mary Fan, Scott Edelman, Don Sakers, and any of the other fine guests you'll get to see there.


November 24-26, 2017


Radisson Hotel North Baltimore
2004 Greenspring Drive
Timonium, MD 21093


Friday 5:30 pm - Chesapeake 6 0 "Workshop: How to Turkey"

Want write bad? How do? Join a Turkey Award judge to work on your own entry, hear what makes a good bad entry, what to avoid, and what skills go into crafting a truly stunning Turkey.

Lee Budar-Danoff, Steve Kozeniewski

Friday 9:15 pm - Greenspring 3-5 - "What's good on TV?"

As science fiction and fantasy become more popular (finally!) there are more offerings in the genre on television. Your time is limited; how do you know what to choose? Panelists talk about their favorite current or recent shows, tell you why, and warn you away from the bad stuff.

Elwin Cotman, J.L. Gribble, Jeff Gritman (M), Steve Kozeniewski, Meg Nicholas

Saturday 10:00 am - Greenspring 3-5 - "Small Everyday Forms of Resistance in SF/F"

SF often presents resistance as dramatic: clearcut choices, cinematic fight scenes, and so forth. It's difficult to get away from that mindset, even in real life. For those of us muddling along in moral murkiness, for those of us who can't or don't want to commit violence, for those who cannot for any number of reasons take up protesting full time, what are examples of small, everyday ways to resist injustice and fascism?

D.H. Aire, Jeff Gritman, Steve Kozeniewski, Ada Palmer, Kelly Szpara (M)

Saturday 11:15 am - Greenspring 2 - "Turkey Awards Panel"

At our somewhat misguided request, authors created the opening paragraph to the worst SF/F novel they could conceive of. For three years running, our imaginative and inspired writers have come up with some beautiful, horrible, awful, and awe-inspiring works. Come hear what our finalists have written this year, and what our judges have to say about it. Winners will be awarded dubious prizes later in the evening.

Harrison Demchick, Steve Kozeniewski, Timothy Liebe, Don Sakers, Michelle D. Sonnier

Saturday 12:30 pm - Greenspring 2 - "PowerPoint Improv"

Volunteer presenters pick a slide deck they've never seen before from a list of titles on a variety of topics, and improv a comedic or serious presentation loosely based on the slides for up to 5 minutes. Audience participation comes with each presentation's brief Q&A session! As improvisations accumulate, we can build off each others' ideas. Come play with us!

Harrison Demchick, Sarah Elkins, J.L. Gribble, Cristin Kist, Steve Kozeniewski, Valerie Mikles

Saturday 3:00 pm - Greenspring 1 - "Where Do We Dystopia From Here?"

Dystopia as a genre has been reigning in many science fiction circles and shows no sign of losing popularity. What's powerful and useful about this trend or its manifestations? What's limiting or frustrating? How do we feel about dystopian fiction when we live in dystopian realities?
Note:  I'm marked as attending this panel some places and not others.  I will confirm whether I'll be attending or not at the con.

Elwin Cotman, Mary Fan (M), Andrew Hiller, Timothy Liebe, Jay Smith

Saturday 6:45 pm - Greenspring 1 - "How The Twilight Zone Embraced 'Less is More'"

In 1959, Rod Sterling's television anthology The Twilight Zone engrossed audiences with thrilling stories of all sorts. In 2017, many episodes of the five-season series and its various spin-offs are still intense, captivating, and even scary, often thanks to the show's ability to say as much as possible with very few special effects. Our panelists talk about their favorite episodes of The Twilight Zone and how the minimalist style made it more effective and memorable.

Scott Edelman, Elektra Hammond (M), Steve Kozeniewski, Karen MacLeod, Alanna Morland

Saturday 8:00 pm - Atrium - "Author Meet and Greet"

Authors chat, answer questions, and sign books.

J.L. Gribble, Andrew Hiller, Steve Kozeniewski, Michelle D. Sonnier, Steven R. Southard, Martin Wilsey

Sunday 10:00 am - Greenspring 1 - "Cultural Ramifications of Universal Translators"

The Universal Translator is one of the most common sci-fi tropes, for obvious reasons. Usually it's just a literary convenience, but let's delve a little deeper. What unspoken assumptions does the trope rest on, and what ramifications get overlooked? What consequences (good or bad) could there be for societies at large? We will talk about how languages work, and how computers work, as we work out the sociopolitical and ethical implications of a universal translator.

D.H. Aire, Lanthir Calendae, Steve Kozeniewski, Mike McPhail, Kelly Szpara (M)

Sunday 12:30 pm - Greenspring 1 - Reading

Steve will read "The Rules of a Drinking Contest Against Brian Keene."

Friday, November 17, 2017

Review - "I'm Dreaming of a White Doomsday"

Last week I had the opportunity to see "I'm Dreaming of a White Doomsday," the first feature-length film from friend, roustabout, and director Mike Lombardo. I'm pleased to report that the film is an unqualified success in every way.

Clocking in at a lean 71 minutes, the movie is tight and almost every minute of the running time is devoted to ratcheting up the tension.  As such, the plot is bare bones.  An unexplained apocalypse has left the planet a nightmarish hellscape, and the air breathable only through a gas mask.  Three survivors: a mother, father, and their eight-year-old son have taken shelter in some sort of fallout bunker.  When the father never returns from a supply run, the mother tries to get by and finally, after a series of impossible decisions, plans to give her boy the merriest Christmas circumstances will allow.

And aside from the ending (which will leave even the most jaded viewer saying "Yes, Virginia, there is a Santa Claus") that's about it for the story.  The rest of the movie is comprised of flashbacks, dreams, and visions (or are they?)  There are  only five actors in the movie and they all do yeoman's work, but I'd be remiss if I didn't point out the contributions of Hope Bikle, in the role of the mother.  All of the actors are outstanding, but the mother has the most screen time and the biggest emotional gamut to traverse.  Many of the scenes are just an examination of her face, sometimes behind a gas mask (!), trying to work out what to do in an impossible situation, putting on a brave face for her son, and almost always screaming soundlessly inside.  Not once did I find her wanting.  Not once was I bored or anything less than riveted.  A stunning achievement for a film made for $10,000.

Perhaps most interesting to me is I don't think baby Jesus, Bethlehem, "the reason for the season," or a single religious icon was ever mentioned or shown.  This is as purely secular as a Christmas movie can be, which is certainly a deliberate decision.  This film is a Hiroshima bombing which ends "The War on Christmas" with an unquestionable victory for commercialism; a feature-length answer of "Never" to the question "When are we going to put Christ back in Christmas?"

"I'm Dreaming of a White Doomsday" is a bleak, suffocating throat-punch of a movie, destined to become a new holiday staple.  (How about playing this motherfucker on repeat for 24 hours instead of Ralphie, TNT?)

Monday, October 2, 2017


I'm delighted to be included in CLICKERS FOREVER, a tribute anthology to J.F. Gonzalez coming soon from Thunderstorm Books.  My short, entitled "Deep Into That Dark One Peering" is about what happens when you try to train a monster to be human ("Hellboy" she ain't.)  I'm also seriously looking forward to reading the other entries, which includes such luminaries as Jonathan Maberry, David Schow, and Monica J. O'Rourke.  The full Table of Contents is below!

Edited by Brian Keene
Illustrated by Hannah Gonzalez
Cover by Dave Kendall

Table of Contents:

"Captivity" by J.F. Gonzalez
“That Goddamn Grin” by Robert Ford
“Vanilla Sunshine” by Jonathan Janz
“Books with Bite” by Jonathan Maberry
“Back from the Dead” by Mike Lombardo
“Bangers and Mash” by Matt Hayward
“Garage Clicker” by John Urbancik
“On the Contributions of J.F. Gonzalez to Horror Literature” by Mary SanGiovanni
“My Own Personal Jesus” by Wayne Allen Sallee
“Algorithms of the Heart” by Mike Oliveri
“Moist Air” by Adam Cesare
“On Clickers II” by J.F. Gonzalez
“Clickers vs. Mandibles: The Tale of an Unwritten Saga” by Jeff Strand
“Ten Secrets to Survival Clickers Don’t Want You to Know (They Really Hate Number Six)” by Jeff Burk
“A Birthday Party for Jenny Too Good” by Gord Rollo
“Belief” by Lesley Conner
“Shooting Schedule” by J.F. Gonzalez
“WWJD: Collaborating with J.F. Gonzalez” by Wrath James White
“Only One Way to Write the End of the Individual: J. F. Gonzalez’s The Corporation” by Nick Mamatas
“Gracias, hermano: a letter to a man I never met” by Gabino Iglesias
“Deep into That Dark One Peering” by Stephen Kozeniewski
“At the Corner of Flanders and Phillipsport” by Michael T. Huyck Jr.
“Surfing Is My Life: Fear and Loathing on the Northern California Coast” by Gene O’Neill
“The Folly of the Dead, or, I’m Pretty Sure My Buddy Is A Serial Killer” by Geoff Cooper
“The Survival of Horror: A Tribute to J.F. Gonzalez’s Survivor” by Matt Serafini
“For You, Anything” by Wesley Southard
“WonderClaws™” by Monica J. O’Rourke
“Throwing Books” by Dave Thomas
“Clickbusters” by Amber Fallon
“Night Run” by Kristopher Rufty
“A Bad Influence” by Robert Swartwood
“Grab” by Jay Wilburn
“Ku Klux Clickers” by Wile E. Young
“My Own Private L.A. Gangsta” by Weston Ochse
“Jesus and the Splatterpunks: An Oral History” by David J. Schow, John Skipp, and Brian Keene
“Bleeding Through” by Charles Rutledge
“Mabel’s Recipes” by J.F. Gonzalez
“To the Bitter End” by Kyle Lybeck
“Complications Of” by Kelli Owen

Thursday, September 28, 2017

What Was the Name of that Chris Elliott Show From the Nineties?

You reading this right now are doubtless so familiar with the football kneeling issue you're probably sick of hearing about it.  For posterity's sake, then, a brief explanation: a football player named Colin Kaepernick started kneeling last year during the pre-game national anthem as a form of silent protest against police brutality, specifically race-related police brutality, and just the general inequitable nature of being a minority in the United States today.

What followed was a transcendental moment in the history of this great nation of ours.  Police forces across the nation took deep stock of their behavior and began taking steps to be more conscientious, to root out the corruption within their own ranks and end institutional racism, or at least begin making incremental steps to do so.  Liberals and conservatives united in their desire to have more accountable peace officers, admitting that it wasn't honest cops that anyone was upset about, only the corrupt ones.  A period of difficult, but fruitful reform efforts followed, and today we finally have the police force in this country that we deserve.

Nah, I 'm just fucking with you.  Conservatives declared it some kind of war on police, because, presumably, being a corrupt fuck who guns down black kids is just as good as being an honest cop.  I mean, both are cops, right, so why differentiate?  Then, Donald Trump, just weeks after declaring that both sides were really to blame when a bunch of neo-Nazis marched in Charlottesville and killed a woman, decided to unequivocally state that anyone kneeling at a football game should be fired and was probably a traitor.

Everybody checking in from a few years from now caught up?  Okay, cool.  I don't have much to say about this issue that hasn't already been said, but here goes anyway:

Get a life.

Get a life.

Seriously, get a fucking life.

You're upset that your enjoyment of the pre-show to a sports game is being "ruined" with politics?  Ruined, because maybe you might have to think about unpleasant things like racial disparity and institutionalized murder in this country?  Because some guy on your TV set reminded you that maybe not everything is perfect and hunky dory like you like to pretend it is every day?

Get.  A fucking.  Life.

Try being a minority in this country.  Try not even getting a callback for a job because your name is too ethnic.  Try working hard all your life, twice as hard as anybody else, and getting told you only succeeded because of affirmative action.  Try getting pulled over because of your skin color.  Try getting shot for "looking dangerous."

This is what we awful leftists are talking about when we use that much maligned term "white privilege."  This.  Right here.  You are so fucking privileged that you get all insane in the membrane at the idea of (let me see if I can parse this correctly) being reminded of negative things in this country by someone's silent protest during the national anthem prior to a sporting event, which you probably didn't get up from your goddamn couch for either.

That drives you nuts.  That's what upsets you.

You will never, ever have to deal with the reality of being black in this country.  Shit, I'll never have to deal with it, but I'm not frightened by the idea of having a discussion about it.

And let's be clear: that's what's going on here.  Conservatives are terrified by the prospect of having to even admit that racism might still be a problem in America.  Why all the dodges?  Why all the, "It's about the troops" or "It's about respect" or "It's in the NFL rulebook?"  Why not just admit you don't want to face harsh reality?  You'd rather pretend everything is great because it keeps you from having to admit things that make you uncomfortable.  I mean, hell, if things are bad in your home country, maybe you're partially culpable for that.  A mortifying prospect, no doubt, for someone who doesn't even see color.

Let's boil it all down.  Colin Kaepernick wanted to start a conversation.  That's all.  Kneeling during a national anthem doesn't hurt anybody.  It really doesn't, kids.  It's a silent, and (dare I say it) respectful form of protest.  He didn't burn a Bible, flip off the skybox, or punch somebody in the face.  He said, "Look, I'm not sure I can stand and honor the flag of a country that's been pretty awful to me and my people, and I have the courage of my convictions."

He did that shit in public.  He knew he would probably get booed, probably be ostracized, probably lose his job, all of which happened.  And he still did it!  That's courage, man.  That's personal fortitude.  And not that I'm a fan of whataboutism, but, since he decided to insert himself into this controversy, why can't fucking Trump show that level of courage?  Why can't he condemn the shit out of some neo-Nazis?  Why this mealy-mouthed, "Oh, er, um, both sides are to blame, you know" shit?  Hell, I'd have more respect for him if he just admitted he admired white nationalists and was on their side.  At least that would be taking some kind of stand.  At least that would be showing some goddamned backbone.

But, no, Colin Kaepernick showed some backbone, and he suffered for it.  But he got something out of it: a conversation was started.  Conservatives would love nothing better than to obfsucate the matter and shut that conversation the fuck down.  They want to portray this peaceful demonstration as some kind of cut against the troops or something.  Yeah.  Okay.

Look, I can't speak for every vet.  Obviously.  But I didn't go over and get mortared in Iraq so a bunch of jackboots could stick a gun in your back and force you to stand for the national anthem.  I mean, that's what Saddam did to his people.  He shot them for having their own opinions, especially unpopular opinions.  In America, despite the current administration, you're allowed to have freedom of speech, freedom of expression, and freedom of conscience.

I mean, I think Nazis and the KKK are the absolute bottom-dwelling, shit-eating scum of the earth.  But I joined up so those reprehensible fucks could say whatever they want, because it also means that the rest of us can say whatever the fuck we want.

And look at this!  A free exchange of ideas!  People talking about race in America!  And, predictably, conservatives trying to shut that conversation down.

Get a fucking life.

Friday, September 1, 2017

Release Day: SLASHVIVOR!

It's heeeeeere!

SLASHVIVOR! is now live!  Grab your copy on Amazon now (or click the cover above or below.)

Try Not to Die

TV-XXX (Salty language, Sexual innuendo, Vomit-inducing ultraviolence)

TBA. Pirate transmission.

North America's number one reality television show returns with instant fan favorite Dawn Churchill, a plucky, hometown girl from the irradiated ruins of the former United States. Will she survive the night in the electrified, booby-trapped arena or will one of the serial killers pitted against her come out on top?

Returning slashers include evil animatronic Abraham Lincoln, eight-year-old “Daughter of the Devil” Abadonna, and all-time undefeated champion Denney the Killer Clown. (Plus surprise appearances by mad surgeon Doctor Feelbad, silver-tongued “Charming” Charlie Whitmore, and steel-clawed firebrand Razortooth.)

A night of chills, thrills, and endless buckets of blood. A must-see for Dawn’s innovative use of a shotgun alone. Fun for the whole family!

Host: Mark Winters
Producers: Marisol Martinez, Amy Green, Jacob Graves, Derron James

Wednesday, August 23, 2017

Cover Reveal: SLASHVIVOR!

Coming soon from the twisted minds which brought you THE BREADWINNER trilogy and HUNTER OF THE DEAD...

Friday, August 18, 2017

Toxic Culture

By now you've doubtless read this article from Vulture, or had the opportunity to.  If you haven't, the short version (of the article - I can't really swear to its veracity) is that the YA Twittersphere has become a particularly feculent swamp of ultra-liberal orthodoxy punctuated by occasional witch hunts.  Per this article (again, I'm not really reporting from experience) a certain breed of YA writers and readers have taken to eating their own, attempting to ban books which deal with issues of social justice before even reading them.

I'm not going to weigh in on the particular concerns of this article.  Obviously, if true, it's concerning.  If you're the type of person who watches "Star Wars" and thinks that George Lucas is an advocate of blowing up planets because one of his characters did so, you're obviously missing the point.  But this article also raises a number of specters which I do feel qualified to address.

In the wake of the nightmare of Trump's election a lot of political commentators made hay out of the idea that this was the fault of liberals.  In short, that what conservatives call "Social Justice Warriors" had become so demented in their pursuit of insane goals that they had essentially pushed correct-thinking people into the arms of the Trumps of the world by default.

It hardly needs to be said that this is a specious argument, but, all right, I'll say it.  If the concern is that there is a left-right political division in this country, and the kooks on the far left have made liberalism a toxic brand, what of the kooks on the right?  Am I to judge the average center-right Midwest voter in this country on every statement made by Rush Limbaugh, Alex Jones, or the nut jobs who threaten to rape every woman on Twitter for speaking her mind?  My point is, if Democrats have an SJW infestation that pushed independents into the arms of Trump, it's equally valid to say the right has a Rabid Puppy problem that pushed independents into the arms of Clinton.

All that is nonsense.  But it's equally nonsensical to argue that there are not liberal kooks out there.  Yes, there were people who didn't understand how economics work and thought Obama was just going to give them free welfare.  Yes, there are people who think every white male is a rapist.  Yes, every insane-sounding, negative accusation against liberalism that Fox News or the current (ugh) president has made has manifested itself in a few people.  In a country of a third of a billion I'd be more surprised if it didn't.

I, personally, have a very complicated relationship with liberalism, progressivism, and the Democratic Party.  I consider myself none of those.  I am very much a leftist, which is how I usually describe myself in polite conversation, though I have no objections to socialist or even communist if that's what you prefer.  I've always thought of myself as militantly leftist, which leaves it hard for me to find common ground with the keyboard jockeys and hippies that make up a great deal of what we call the left in this country, despite our common (to an extent) cause.  I'm also a pragmatist, which leads me to my ultimate miserable condition of accepting that anything that turns this country, gradual though it may be, a tick to the left is desirable.  And so I find myself voting with the hippies and the SJWs, repulsive though I may occasionally find their behavior.  Much in the same way I imagine that every intelligent, conscientious conservative in this country finds him or herself making common cause with redneck mouthbreathers and Klansmen.

The solution a certain segment of people take great pride in is declaring a pox on both our houses, and pretending like one side saying "Murder All Kittens" is exactly as extreme and crazed as the other side saying ,"Don't Murder Any Kittens."  I think these extreme moderates (if that's the right word for them) are just as guilty as the evil party for enabling them with their false equivalencies.  (In case you missed it, those were the types I was skewering with the White factions in EVERY KINGDOM DIVIDED.)  And to be clear here, yes, the evil party is the conservatives.  Pretending otherwise in the last twenty-odd years is an exercise in self-delusion.  It means pretending that Obama is exactly as terrible as Trump, that Clinton is exactly as terrible as George W. Bush, and that Kennedy is exactly as terrible as Richard Nixon.  One party has given us decades of misrule and the other has given us decades of flawed, but pragmatic governance.  Shrugging and calling the two equal is the same as saying "I guess murdering 50% of all kittens is just how things are now."

During my interview on The Horror Show a few weeks ago, Brian described me as "woke" which is not how I would describe myself, but all things being equal, a fair assessment.  I have to say one thing for the extremities of the SJW Twittersphere: I think the introduction of the term "white privilege" will be remembered as one of the most potent teachable moments in the last fifty or a hundred years of race relations.  It certainly helped me to understand a worldview I didn't even understand I was missing.  (Conversely, I think "microaggressions" will be remembered more as a dead cul-de-sac of learning.  But I digress.)

I'm happy to be described as "woke" if it means conscientious, not perfect, but attempting to be a good ally and a good citizen.  Brian went on to ask if I was worried about attacks from Vox Day and the Rabid Puppies since my latest novel, THE HEMATOPHAGES, featuring a deliberately all-female cast.  I answered that I had considered that, but cared very little.  In truth I was more worried about upsetting the SJWs (much as I loathe that term, for all its dismissiveness towards actual conscientiousness) for not being "woke" enough.  I was concerned that there would be blowback that I hadn't written my female characters whatever enough for the particular concerns of whoever.  There's something scary about being eaten by your own, about becoming the witch at the center of a hunt by your peers.

I'd be happy, you see, to have scorn heaped upon me by Vox Day, Alex Jones, the infantile (ugh) president or any other right-leaning son of a bitch who wants to come at me.  Hell, I'd wear it as a badge of honor.  I'd probably put it in my blurbs.  "Kozeniewski is a leftist piece of shit" - Ted Cruz  Right next to the outpourings of support from my favorite authors and filmmakers.

But one of my own attacks me?  One says I'm not "woke" enough?  Says I'm not a good enough leftist?  Says I'm a faker, one who doesn't deserve to make common cause with them?  That would hurt.  That would cut deep.  That would cut at my identity.  A lot like I imagine it would for the YA writers who find themselves on the outskirts.  Just a thought.

Monday, August 14, 2017

Fuck Nazis

I had another post all written and scheduled for today but that...that's just not going to happen right now.  Apparently I have to talk about Nazis.  In America.  In 2017.

I thought this was taken care of.  I thought this had all been dealt with.  I thought the Greatest Generation - my grandparents' generation, that is to say, and for some of you out there your great-grandparents' generation - had stomped Hitler's vision into rubble seventy-two years ago.

But no.  They're back.  The Nazis are back, and they've put representatives in the White House and they're marching in the South.  It's ridiculous.  It's ludicrous.  It's insane.  But it's happening.

I feel like I'm living in some kind of dimestore '60s novel.  You know the kind I mean.  The kind where some vaguely European-accented mad scientist smoking hand-rolled cigarettes out of a bone holder pulls back the curtain at the end and reveals Hitler's brain has been inserted into a gorilla robot.  The kind where the villain says, "Yes, we sunk into the shadows, hiding, waiting, until you were no longer looking for us."

Because that's what happened.  We mobilized our nation and helped cobble together an alliance of half the world to smash the fascist war machine three quarters of a century ago.  But when the overt threat was gone, it slunk deep into the recesses and dark places where we weren't looking, where we weren't paying attention.  As we spent eight decades making it impossible to be overtly racist in civic society in the United States, the racists gathered like rats in the sewers, establishing their Storm Fronts and their alt-rights and building an invisible empire that puts the KKK to shame.

And the invisible empire has struck their first blow with Trump.  Trump was always the preferred candidate of the Nazi underground, which is what the alt-right really is.

In fact, let's set all that linguistic business to rest quickly.  The right in this country has had a tortured relationship with truth for at least the last twenty, some might say forty years.  And it has had an especially Orwellian relationship with words.  I've watched Glenn Beck torturously try to convince me that the Nazis were also communists - and that the American left is both Nazi and communist, as though any word with a negative overtone can just be heaped at the door of one's political opposition.  I've watched Trump rebrand the truth as "fake news" - in order to distract from the actual fake news which got him elected.  I've had to watch the right vehemently reject all the extreme positions on the right end of the spectrum - Nazism, fascism, totalitarianism - as having nothing to do with them, as though they didn't need to worry that that was the dark end of their path if they weren't careful and prudent.  As though only liberalism could ever possibly lead to bad things.

There was a time where you just had to admit, "Look, I lean right, but I'm not some crazy fascist" the same way you might say, "Look, I lean left, but I'm not some crazy communist."  Those are just the two ends of the political horseshoe.  But the right entirely refused to accept that reality, to the point where they're now trying to convince us that the alt-right is just a fun, sexy young conservative movement.  But it's not.  It never was.  "Alt-right" is the sexy new brand for "Nazi" because it just sounds better and has less baggage.

But don't fool yourself.  Don't agree to do the mental gymnastics necessary to try to differentiate between one identical brand of awful and another because they don't want to be associated.  These people are Nazis.  They're jingoists, militarists, racists, misogynists.  The lyrics are a little different, but the melody's identical.  They hate minorities and minority religions, they heap all the social ills of society at the footstep of one convenient scapegoat and they'd be happy to go to war with anybody and everybody to distract you from it all.  The alt-right, regardless of what they prefer to be called, are, and always have been, Nazis.

Steve Bannon is a Nazi.  There's a Nazi in the White House, for Christ's sake.  They act offended when we call them what they are because they'd prefer not to admit that's what they are.  But don't let them off the goddamned hook.  These people who marched in Charlottesville were carrying swastikas right alongside their Confederate flags.  But it's all about heritage, right?  I don't even have the time or space to delve into that right now.  I'm too busy dealing with the Nazis.  In control of America.  In 2017.

Jesus.  And I thought George W. Bush was bad.  The best thing - the absolute best thing - I can say at this point about Donald Trump is that he may just be an unwitting puppet.  He may not be Hitler; he may simply be Hindenburg.  Certainly, he knew the KKK and the alt-right and the racists and the shitbags and every vile breed of hateful person in this country supported him, and he refused to denounce them.  Still hasn't denounced them.  Still, as of yesterday, is making false equivalencies.  Sure, Antifa's the real problem.  BLM is the real problem.  Not the fucking Nazis who said they would vote for you, and when you were elected, started rioting and mugging Muslims and immigrants, all while shouting, "Welcome to Trump's America!"  But no.  It's the counter-protestors who are the real problem.  Of course.  Of course they are.  Because if they didn't have anything to counter they wouldn't exist.  But they're the real problem.

You might ask what's the point of this.  What's the point of writing yet another blogpost, yet another thinkpiece about what happeend in Charlottesville?  We've all read dozens of them since yesterday, and if you expand the definition to include thinkpieces on Trump we've all read thousands of them since November.

Sure, I could be preaching to the choir, or worse, talking to an empty chair.  But the odds are that if you're reading this, and you're American, there's a one in three chance you voted for Trump in November.  And if you are, maybe you drank the Kool-Aid and it's impossible to reason with you.  But I think most people are reasonable and most people are not Kool-Aid drinkers.  So this is addressed to you, the person who voted for Trump who nevertheless keeps an open mind.

You may have been wrong.  I've spent the last ten months being told that I was wrong.  That I didn't "get it."  That there were coal towns in West Virginia and steel towns in Pennsylvania and little lost rural communities in Ohio and Kentucky where poor white people were living lives of quiet desperation, and Trump offered them, perhaps for the first time in their adult lives, a life preserver.  I've been told that I missed all that because I was a coastal elite, that I didn't "get" the sense of loss and fear and anger that most Americans felt, and that that was what drove people to the polls for Trump, what ultimately, improbably, saw him sitting in the Oval Office.  I was told that it wasn't about racism, or sexism, or any of the negative things that I associated with Trump based on his behavior.  It was that people were ignoring all of that and seeing someone who was finally speaking up for the little people, and that it was an irresistible siren's song.

So now I want to turn that around.  Maybe you are that person living by the shuttered coal mine in West Virginia, the rusting steel mill in Pennsylvania, or the dying farm in Ohio.  Maybe you voted for Trump not out of animus, but because he had promised you something.  Maybe you ignored what the media said about him, listened to his words, believed his promises, preferred to believe that the better angels of his nature would drive him, and that the rest was just noise.  Now I'm telling you to consider, just consider, that perhaps you were mistaken.

Maybe this is a man who has happily accepted the support of Nazis, the KKK, the militia movement, all the miserable dregs of society who you hate and hate being associated with because you're poor and rural and white.  Maybe this is a man who has refused to condemn the hate groups, not out of political expediency, but because he's okay with them.  Maybe this is a man who doesn't mind racism and sexism, as long as he's in control.  Maybe this man is the demagogue that all along you were warned about, but decided with your reason and your heart instead that he was something more, a good man who was being smeared, not unlike Jesus, perhaps.  Maybe he's the kind of man who won't think twice about blasting Muslims, Democrats, the media, the government, and other instutitions of millions or billions of individuals, but just can't quite bring himself to condemn in even moderate words a single hate group.

You, and by you I mean those of you on the other side of the political spectrum from me, have asked me to reconsider my position, to slaughter my sacred cows and consider underlying currents that I either ignored or didn't even know existed.  Okay.  I have.  I've granted you that courtesy.  I've considered what it must be like to be poor and white and it seems like you have no voice, that everyone's speaking for some other marginalized group, but, fuck, your group is just as marginalized and you're just fucked because of who you are.  It must suck.  It must really suck.  I'm not sure it would've changed my vote, but I think it probably would've changed the tone of the election, and I think it'll probably change the tone of future elections.  You won't be forgotten again.

But now I need you to extend me, and by me I mean the people on the other side of the political spectrum from you, that same courtesy.  Consider that maybe you voted for the wrong guy.  A shitty, shady guy who was actually every bit as bad as the media said he was.  That by voting for him, you were tactily allowing Nazis in the White House...and on the streets of towns like Charlottesville.  Nazis who your grandparents or great-grandparents (or, hell, maybe it was you yourself) fought against 72 years ago.  They're back, and your vote, whatever else it did and whatever else you think it did or might do, emboldened them.  You helped give them that tiny, infinitesimal grain of support, and now all those grains of sand have come together to form a landslide.

Racists use to wear hoods to hide their shameful behavior from scrutiny.  Now they walk boldly among us, march loudly and shout in torchlight parades, and mow down the people who oppose them with cars.  And Trump is silent, because these are his people, his supporters.  You don't need to be silent, though.  And your vote is your voice, come 2018, 2020, and beyond.

Friday, August 11, 2017

Red Lion Street Fair or Bust!

Hey everybody!  If you live in the Baltimore/Central Pennsylvania area, you should definitely stop by the 41st Annual Red Lion Street Fair tomorrow between 9:00 am and 4:00 pm.  I'll be there with Ryan Griffin and Andrew Craven.

You'll be able to find us at booth N17, near the intersection of Broadway and Main Streets, Red Lion, PA 17356.

All of my novels will be available for purchase, including the recently much sought-after HEMATOPHAGES.  As always, autographs are free, but books are $10.  Hope to see you there!

Wednesday, August 9, 2017


Want a free, autographed, personalized copy of HUNTER OF THE DEAD?  It could happen!  Enter the giveaway below!

Goodreads Book Giveaway

Hunter of the Dead by Stephen Kozeniewski

Hunter of the Dead

by Stephen Kozeniewski

Giveaway ends August 17, 2017.
See the giveaway details at Goodreads.
Enter Giveaway


Someone has begun targeting vampires.

Vampire leaders of the thirteen Houses attribute the string of recent losses to over-zealous vampire hunters. Only Cicatrice, the most ancient and powerful vampire in the world, suspects that the semi-legendary Hunter of the Dead may be the real culprit.

Carter Price, a vampire hunter who despises the way his profession is becoming centralized and corporatized, begins to suspect the Hunter of the Dead is back, too – and no longer distinguishing between vampires and mortals. Against his better judgment, Price agrees to work with Cicatrice.

The uneasy allies attempt to uncover the truth about the Hunter, while a vampire civil war brews in the background. But perhaps most difficult of all, they must contend with their new apprentices, who seem to be falling in love with each other against every rule of man and monster…

Friday, July 21, 2017

Scares That Care Weekend IV or Bust!

Hey everybody!  If you're going to be in the Williamsburg, VA area this weekend, you absolutely need to stop by Scares that Care Weekend IV.  It's going to be packed with celebrities like Jeffrey Combs, the cast of "Friday the 13th," Joe Lansdale, and many more.  I'll also be there at a table with Steven Shrewsbury and I'll have all of my books available to sell.  And, most importantly of all, it's all for a good cause, with all the money the charity collects this weekend going to a burn victim, a breast cancer survivor, and a pediatric cancer survivor.  Hope to see you there!


Friday, Saturday, and Sunday July 21-23

Double Tree by Hilton
50 Kingsmill Road
Williamsburg, VA 23185

Saturday 9:45 pm - "This Is How We Do It: A Discussion on Self-Publishing" (M)
Sunday 11:15 am - Reading and Q&A with Ralph Bieber

Wednesday, July 19, 2017

RIP Romero

My reaction to George Romero's death this past Sunday has been subdued.  I didn't immediately jump on Facebook or Twitter to state my feelings.  I hope that hasn't given me the appearance of not caring.  I guess I've just been having difficulty putting words to my feelings and thoughts.

First of all, there's the usual basket of caveats which attend celebrity death: I didn't know the man personally, his work naturally lives on, it's difficult to sort the artist as a person away from his art.  But without delving into that rather shallow well of sewage which haters sometimes make us do when we lose a beloved celebrity, it's important for us as fans and creators in the zombie genre to acknowledge the man who literally, nearly single-handedly, created that genre.

There are few people we can say that about.  Neither King nor Lovecraft nor even Poe invented the horror genre.  Arthur Conan Doyle didn't invent the mystery.  But George Romero invented the zombie, in its modern form, practically out of whole cloth.

As authors we often dream of leaving an impact on the world.  We dream of success, sales, awards, name recognition.  In our wilder dreams we imagine being a titan like J.K. Rowling, Stephen King, or, yes, even Stephanie Meyer or E.L. James.  We may also even hope to do something new and memorable.  But it's very rare to imagine that we might create a genre ourselves.  J.R.R. Tolkien did it, perhaps.  Jules Verne maybe did it.  And George Romero did it.

The idea of the dead rising is as old as man itself.  But the zombie, the modern flesh-eating conception of it, is George Romero's.  His and his alone.  I owe him a debt.  So does Max Brooks, John Skipp, Mark Tufo, Lucio Fulci, Peter Jackson, Robert Kirkman, George R.R. Martin, Brian Keene, and everybody who's ever included a flesh-munching corpse in his book or movie.  That alone would be a contribution worth celebrating.  But George gave us more.

George gave us an eye for satire.  He gave us a political conscience.  He gave us independent filmmaking as it exists today.  He gave us terror and delight in equal portions.  Following in the footsteps of Herschell G. Lewis, he helped to bring us explicit gore in film.  He also gave us "Bruiser," which, the less said about, the better.  (But I like to think that's the kind of joke George would've appreciated - I would've left it out of this tribute if I didn't.)

George gave the world a lot, and, unfortunately, benefited from it very little financially.  It irked him, obviously, and I can only imagine how much it must irk to create something like the zombie and to midwife gore in cinema, and see so little return on it.  So, perhaps it's especially incumbent upon us to celebrate the man, to remember him, to venerate him.  He gave us a lot and got screwed a lot.  That seems to be the way of it.

And at the end of the day (and dawn and night) he gave us a monster.  He gave us a monster that we can project all of our modern-day fears onto.  He gave us a monster that will not go silent to the grave, literally or metaphorically.  I suspect a hundred or five hundred years from now the zombie will be seen as the definitive monster of our era, the same way we now look at the vampire as the definitive monster of medieval Eastern Europe or Frankenstein as the definitive monster of the 19th century.

So George will...well, he won't live on.  But he'll certainly have a life after death.

Friday, July 14, 2017

Episode 124 of The Horror Show With Brian Keene is dedicated to THE HEMATOPHAGES

Hey everybody!

While I was enjoying my lunch of Tom Yum mixed with chili (jealous?) a friend texted me and said he'd never heard an episode of "The Horror Show" dedicated to a single book before.  I wracked my brains and although one episode took a long look at Paul Tremblay's A HEAD FULL OF GHOSTS, I think, for the most part, he's right.

So I'm especially honored to have an entire episode of the world's premiere horror podcast devoted to my latest novel THE HEMATOPHAGES.  Take a listen.  I really think you'll enjoy it.

(If this embed isn't working for you, the direct link to Project Entertainment is here and The Horror Show website is here.  Oh, and you should probably give their FB page a like.)

Friday, July 7, 2017

Shore Leave 39 or Bust!

If you live in the Baltimore, MD area make sure to stop by Shore Leave 39 this weekend! Sci-fi author Mary Fan, fantasist Elizabeth Corrigan, and myself will have a table in the dealers room all weekend. Books are just $12 apiece or $10 apiece for more than one. I'll also be busy speaking at panels all weekend (see the schedule below for more.) Hope to see you there!


Friday, Saturday, and Sunday July 7-9


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

Friday 4:00 pm - Salon A - "Public Face on Social Media"
Friday 7:00 pm - Hunt - "If I Had a Publishing Empire" (M)
Saturday 11:00 am - Chase - "Your Writing or Your Life" (M)
Saturday 3:00 pm - Chase - "The Role of Science Fiction"
Sunday 12:00 noon - Chase "The Devil's in the Details"
Sunday 1:00 pm - Derby - "Chasing Our Tales" (M)

Friday, June 30, 2017

Pokemon Go Update

The party line (by which I mean the pop culture line) on Pokémon Go is that it's dead.  Everyone played it for five minutes a year ago and then gave up.  That hasn't really been my experience.  We're not talking about MySpace here. 

I play Pokémon Go daily.  I've explained previously how I essentially work at a Pokéstop.  It makes it far too easy for me to sit and score points and items all day while I'm at work.  Considering you get 50 XP and a minimum of three items per spin, and you can spin every five minutes, in the average work day I'm scoring somewhere a tad south of 4800 XP and 288 items a day.  That's before I've even caught my first Poke of the day.

So my perspective may be a bit skewed, because I essentially keep the app open 8 hours a day.  But judging by how rapidly gyms turn over and fill up with Pokes, I can tell I'm not the only one playing.  And considering I work on a closed Navy base, I assume that my experience is a bit on the meager side in terms of players as well.

I think the common wisdom that Pokémon is dead is due to the fact that it ballooned out tremendously at first, then contracted over the course of a year to a more sustainable size.  We're still talking about one of the biggest games in the world, but since it's suddenly not the biggest game of all time anymore, people are dismissive of it.  Such is life.

So for those of you who have given up already, you may not know that Pokémon Go recently underwent a massive change.  Gym battles have been completely revamped. 

The way the original gym battles worked was that one of the three Pokémon teams (red, blue, or yellow) could claim a gym.  Then up to ten team members could stash an individual Poke in the gym.  (So much as I may have wanted to pack a gym with ten of my own Pokes, I was always limited to one.)

When an enemy team attacked your gym, they gradually wore away the gym's capacity to hold Pokes until it was empty.  Then they could claim it.

When a friendly team mate attacked a gym, he could drive up the gym's capacity to hold Pokes up to a maximum of ten.

Now, as for the battle itself, it consisted of three controls: simple attack, dodge, and complex attack.  Complex attack happened when you had successfully conducted a certain number of simple attacks in order to fill a gauge.  Then you could depress the screen and execute a complex attack.  The only problem being if the enemy Poke was also attempting to execute his complex attack at the same time, you were stuck standing still. 

So here's how literally every single gym battle went:

Tap tap tap tap tap depress tap tap tap tap tap depress tap tap dodge tap tap tap depress

And so on.

With the recent update the controls haven't changed very much.  Animation has changed massively, though (your Pidgey now looks infinitesimal compared to a Gyarados) and a sort of showdown poster pops up before every battle reflecting the stats of the competing Pokes. 

Gyms now contain a max of six Pokes, and there is no need for friendly fighting to make that possible.  That makes me a sad panda because I used to spend countless hours every day friendly fighting.  Now if my team has a gym, we just have it.  The only time I get to wear out useless Pokes is when I can find an enemy gym.

Pokes who sit in gyms also gradually get depressed.  Their combat power slowly degrades over the course of a day.  A friendly player can now give out berries to combat waning morale.  This is a mild positive for me because I used to just immediately throw out every Nanab berry I got, being the most useless of all berries, to make space for my 200-odd items a day.  Now I can actually do something with my Nanab berries, and feeding berries comes with a very small stardust bonus.  And stardust is always in demand. 

Now, as Pokes get depressed from either sitting there or getting beaten (or even just engaged in combat) their CP gradually degrades.  So when I go to fight an enemy gym, it may start out with, say, 6 enemy Pokes at 2000 CP apiece.  Then I go in for the slaughter and they're all reduced to 1000 CP apiece.  Which means now I can use difference Pokes.  It's like a battle against a different Poke every time, as opposed to the old system where it just felt like I was fighting that same 2883 Blissey over and over and over and over again.

Now the worst part of the change is the new coin system.  Under the old system, when you had a Poke in a gym, at a certain time every day you could claim 10 coins on his behalf, up to 100 coins.  So if you had Pokes in 10 gyms, you were golden.  The time decreased by three hours every day, which did lead to very awkward issues where my alarm was waking up my girlfriend at 3:00 am and it was a bit embarrassing to say why.

I'm not a big fan of the new coin system.  It, like the fact that you can't friendly fight anymore, encourages a lot more changeover of gyms.  The way it works is now that your Poke collects a coin for every ten minutes it spends in a gym.  You can collect a maximum of 50 coins a day.  And coins are only collected when the Poke returns to you.

So the pro: I don't have to worry about checking in at a certain time every day.  Coins just come when the come.

The many cons: there's no way to predict when your Poke will come back to you!  You could put ten Pokes in ten gyms and they could all sit there for a month, all get beaten on the same day, and you collect: 50 coins.

I mean, it's positive from the sense you don't have to wait 21 hours every day.  Having a Poke in a gym for just a few hours means you'll collect.  But it's a waste to keep a Poke in any gym for more than eight and a half hours.  So that battling bastard of a Blastoise you've had tucked away in one spot for almost a week?  Congratulations, he's worth 50 coins when all is said and done.

Basically, it encourages you to go around and constantly be fighting to put Pokes into gyms.  Or else pay real money for coins, which I'm sure is the real goal here.

Anyway, I've blathered on long enough.  Are you still playing Pokemon?  What do you think of all the recent changes?  What do you miss and what do you wish they would just adjust?

Monday, June 26, 2017

Feelin' Groovy

I know I've been a bit scarce here of late and I could give any one of several reasons why I've barely blogged this year, but I find nothing more exhausting than a blogpost promising to do better.  (Usually they're the last blogpost of a dead blog, anyway.)  I'd rather just do better.  So onward and upward.

I, like all reasonable, intelligent human beings, was intensely worried, perhaps even panicked after the sociopathic man-child who was "elected" president took office earlier this year.  From the day after the election until fairly recently I was wringing my hands in worry about all the damage someone like Trump could do while occupying the most powerful office in the world.  Now, though?  Not so much.

I'm not feeling better because I expect Trump will be impeached or otherwise removed from office.  In terms of simple math impeachment is an almost statistical impossibility.  For reasons I hesistate to attribute to loyalty, (but perhaps I can at least offer that complimentary term to the insane side of the aisle) Republicans don't eat their own.  Trump's been buffeted by scandal and sitting in the mid-thirties in terms of his approval rating almost since he took office.  If the Republican congress hasn't turned on him by now, what would it take?  Would he have to devour a live infant on camera?  He's done just about everything but, including talking about grabbing women by the pussy.  No, Trump will be safe from impeachment as long as the R's are in charge.

And even if (because it's far from a guarantee) the House of Representatives flips to the Democrats in 2018, and even if they then impeach him (also far from a guarantee) the Senate even as ideally constituted for the purpose will still have enough Republicans to block removing Trump from office.  So impeachment, should it ever occur (which it probably won't) will have about the same practical effect as it did on Clinton: making the other side look petty for doing it.

Other forms of removal from office, barring unexpected death (I mean, the man is 70) are even more outlandish.  Plus, and I didn't even want to get into this, but even chopping the head off the snake won't make much difference.  The difference between a Trump presidency and a Pence presidency will be one of temperament, not ideology. 

So I don't expect Trump to leave office before 2020.  I certainly hope he does then.  Why, then, am I feeling cautiously optimistic?  Because the man is fucking worthless.

I mean, maybe I should have already expected this, but somehow I had convinced myself that Trump would come into office and actually enact all the crazy shit he promised on the campaign trail.  I halfway believed he would actually surround himself with brilliant advisors who would do all the heavy lifting, and the country would tilt rightward into a fucking ditch.

But Trump never surrounded himself with brilliant advisors and at this point, most know to steer well clear.  Instead, he's surrounded by his daughter, son-in-law, and some low-rent Goebbels wannabe.  And they're all at each other's throats.  By all accounts no one working in The White House knows who's in charge.  Trump himself is apparently always convinced of the rectitude of the last article someone shoved under his nose.  The whole thing sounds like a page out of the Kremlin court squabbles of the Soviet Union.

A preternatural gift for demagoguery has translated into precisely jack and shit when attempting to govern.  (I say "govern" to be kind, because it's obvious that Trump would much rather dictate, and seems frustrated by the very idea that his pronouncements are not actually instantly obeyed as law.)  I mean think about this: Trump couldn't get Obamacare repeal passed with a Republican House and Senate.  That's like McDonald's running out of beef.  I don't even know what to make of that.  But this buffoon cannot get the one thing that has united Republicans of all stripes for the past decade passed?

Legislation is a difficult, grueling process of compromise and discussion.  And Trump is absolute shit at it.  He nearly ruined the budget reconciliation by demanding his stupid wall, which both sides considered idiotic to even be discussing at that point in time.  Imagine that.  Republicans and Democrats in the congress, normally at each other's throats, are suddenly united in how stupid they consider The White House's demands.

As for the scandals, well, Trump will weather them.  I'm not convinced anything can disgrace him anymore.  He's incapable of shame and his followers have erected a nigh impenetrable cult of personality around their own five senses (six, if you count "common.")  Trump is right and therefore right is Trump in their eyes, so it doesn't really matter what he does, he's always right.  The scandals won't bring him down.  What they will do, though, is keep him distracted.  While all his fury is focused on James Comey and the news media being mean to him (poor guy) he's not concentrating on enacting his stupid campaign promises. 

The scandals also keep him boxed in.  Legislators who don't have the advantage of being as Teflon as Don himself are already giving him a wide berth.  Even Fox News seems to be tentatively stepping away from their constant beatification of him.  It's easy to pretend it's still sunny when you feel a lone raindrop, but it's harder to dismiss a storm.  As long as the crap keeps piling up, people with a survival isntinct (read: politicians and pundits) will continue to distance themselves from Trump.

And what this all adds up to is that Trump is so incompetent he can't ruin the country.  In November I was worried about him establishing a fascist dictatorship, but now I'm not convinced he could cut the ribbon to a strip mall without breaking the scissors.  I think, in the end, Trump will run out his four years as essentially a lame duck.  He's what the press used to call "embattled" when they meant a politician was all out of friends and couldn't get anything done any more.  And he's already embattled six months into his presidency. 

Sure, things will be fucked up.  There's already another right-winger on the Supreme Court.  He could fumble a war or a terrorist attack.  But mostly I expect a whole lot of nothing happening.  And when the alternative to nothing is rabid right-wing policies, I'll take it.

Wednesday, June 7, 2017

Cover Reveal: STARSWEPT by Mary Fan

Hey all!

I'm delighted to reveal the cover for STARSWEPT by our good friend Mary Fan!

As an author you sometimes get the opportunity to read books at various stages in the formation. I had the distinct pleasure of reading this when it was still called BUTTERFLY DOME and I loved it then. If you like sci-fi even a little bit, I think you'll love it as well. Check it out!

This sweeping YA sci-fi romance will be released on August 29 by Snowy Wings Publishing. The cover features photography by Roberto Falck, with graphic design by Streetlight Graphics.

Release Date: August 29, 2017
Publisher: Snowy Wings Publishing

Some melodies reach across the stars.

In 2157, the Adryil—an advanced race of telepathic humanoids—contacted Earth. A century later, 15-year-old violist Iris Lei considers herself lucky to attend Papilio, a prestigious performing arts school powered by their technology. Born penniless, Iris’s one shot at a better life is to attract an Adryil patron. But only the best get hired, and competition is fierce.

A sudden encounter with an Adryil boy upends her world. Iris longs to learn about him and his faraway realm, but after the authorities arrest him for trespassing, the only evidence she has of his existence is the mysterious alien device he slipped to her.

When she starts hearing his voice in her head, she wonders if her world of backstabbing artists and pressure for perfection is driving her insane. Then, she discovers that her visions of him are real—by way of telepathy—and soon finds herself lost in the kind of impossible love she depicts in her music.

But even as their bond deepens, Iris realizes that he’s hiding something from her—and it’s dangerous. Her quest for answers leads her past her sheltered world to a strange planet lightyears away, where she uncovers secrets about Earth’s alien allies that shatter everything she knows.

Preorder the hardback on Amazon

Preorder the e-book on Amazon (Kindle), Barnes & Noble (Nook), Kobo, or iBooks

Add it on Goodreads

About Mary Fan:

Mary Fan is a hopeless dreamer, whose mind insists on spinning tales of “what if.” As a music major in college, she told those stories through compositions. Now, she tells them through books. She is the author of the Jane Colt space opera trilogy, the Firedragon YA dystopia/fantasy novellas, and the Fated Stars YA high fantasy novellas. She's also the co-editor of the Brave New Girls YA sci-fi anthologies, which are dedicated to encouraging girls to enter STEM careers and raising money for the Society of Women Engineers scholarship fund.

Find her online at
Facebook: mfanwriter
Twitter: @astralcolt
Instagram: @astralcolt

Wednesday, May 10, 2017

A Feast of Horror...For Your Ears!

THE GHOUL ARCHIPELAGO is now available as an audiobook!  You can purchase it from:


If you've never read TGA before, this is now the Cadillac of ways to enjoy the book.  And if you have, voiceover artist Jennifer Fournier has turned this into a wholly novel experience, well worth revisiting.

Wednesday, May 3, 2017

Tips For Conducting an Interview

If you've been following my group blog closely (and if you haven't, really, what's wrong with you?) you've probably noticed that there's been more emphasis on interviews this year.  That was a deliberate choice at the suggestion of contributor Kimberly Garnick Giarratano. 

Interviews are great for content.  They essentially double your audience, because you tap into the audience of both interviewer and interviewee.  I've done a lot of interviews here on the blog, and I've also been the subject of a number of interviews.  So here are some of my thoughts on how to conduct a good written interview:

1.) First of all, do some research on your subject. You may find questions just jump out from that. For instance, I was writing questions for an author and I found out his dad was a general in the British army, so I asked what that was like.  Whenever you can ask about things other than their basic bitch job, you're showing that you know about them, which is a good thing, and you're giving them opportunities to talk about subjects they may not always get to discuss.  Which dovetails with my next suggestion:

2.) Don't ask questions that have been asked a million times. I, and every other author who ever lived, has already answered "Where do you get your ideas?" and "When did you start writing?"  These are boring questions.  They're boring because they're boilerplate, and they're also boring because they're hard to put a fun spin on.  Your interview subject will probably have a canned response and that's no good, and nobody likes answering those questions anyway. Things that are constantly changing like, "What are you working on now?" are fine, because at least the answer can be different from interview to interview.

3.) You can throw in one whackadoo question, but I recommend keeping it to just one unless you know the person really well. I once asked an actress from Edmonton, which is famous for its dinosaurs, what her favorite dinosaur was. It had nothing to do with acting, but it was fun to hear the answer.  You could even just something straight crazy like, "If you were a hot dog would you eat yourself?" It lets the subject know things aren't too serious, and at a minimum it's a question they've never heard before. Sometimes those even have the best answers.

4.) If you're into them, like really into them, don't be afraid to ask super deep cut questions. If somebody asks me, "What was your first novel" I instantly switch over to "fuck off" mode, and I'll probably stay that way for the rest of the interview.  Also, the reader doesn't care. But if they're like, "Listen, I noticed in BILLY AND THE CLONEASAURUS you said there were no animals, but then on p. 163 there were a bunch of birds, what was that all about?" then I know the interviewer is actually a fan, and, counterintuitively, that stuff is actually really interesting to the reader even though it sounds like it's only for superfans. Sometimes you find out stuff in those answers you didn't even know you didn't know.

So what do you think?  Do you have any tips or tricks for conducting interviews?  If you've done a bunch, what do you like to hear from your interviewer?  Let me know in the comments below.

Friday, April 28, 2017

What the Fuck is the Buddy System?

Countless great movies have been made about one man's quixotic struggle against a vast, dark conspiracy.  And some not so great movies, too.  (I'm looking at you, Sandra Bullock vehicle "The Net.")

What's compelling about the idea of a dark cabal in charge of things is that it both suggests that the vague unease we all feel about living in a complex, sometimes amoral society is legitimate, without really being existential.  Sure, the world is evil, but only because a couple of bad apples are pulling the strings.  Let Arnold Schwarzenegger or somebody explode all the bad guys and all will be righted.

The truth, of course, as most adults grudgingly come to accept while somehow not descending into a wallowing pit of despair, is that the world is actually quite fucked up, society is deeply dysfunctional, and while individual humans can listen to the better angels of their nature, humanity as a whole has mostly allowed its collective id to run rampant.  Corporations aren't so much evil as avaricious, governments aren't so much repressive as bureaucratic, and people aren't so much cruel as blithely, banally self-centered.  That, of course, is a wholly unsatisfying answer, hence why conspiracy theories are so popular.

But this is all a roundabout way of introducing today's topic: the buddy system.  For most of you, of course, the buddy system is nothing more complex than elementary school kids holding hands in the pool or on a field trip so that the teacher can easily count the pairs.  But for members of the horror community, the buddy system has taken on a whole new meaning in recent years.

The buddy system conspiracy theory is (and I don't believe I'm misrepresenting it here) begins with Stephen King and Simon Schuster in the late eighties deciding to cripple one of their employees - a promising young writer named Bradley Snow - and then blackball him from the industry for the next thirty years.  During these three decades of unwarranted McCarthyism, the horror industry shriveled on the vine, being reduced to its current state of mostly being produced by small presses (which don't count and/or are simply porn.)  The other authors who came to prominence during this period are not "true" horror authors in the sense that no Scotsman who disagrees with your premise is true.  One can only surmise that had Snow been allowed to continue writing that we would be in a golden era of horror, perhaps one where the most popular show on television was a zombie saga and horror was consistently increasing in popularity across all media forms.  It is but to dream.

Of course, don't take my word for it.  Snow has been promising to publish a tell-all for years.  I think the back cover really says all you need to know about "the buddy system," and straight from the horse's mouth:

Of course, the conspiracy version of the buddy system is entirely the feverish creation of one dull-witted and mentally ill troll.  Now, to clarify, I suffer from mental illness myself and I have a great many friends who do as well.  But we have all either sought out help or learned to live with our conditions with the support of our friends and family.  Bradley Snow has decided to lash out at horror creators and publishers of all stripes, meaning that what's important about him is less the fact that he's clinically delusional and more the fact that he's an asshole.  You can certainly be mentally ill without being an asshole...but that's not the case here.  And while they may not all use the juvenile term "the buddy system," there are quite a few authors and schmauthors who feel the same way.

It's kind of a shame that the trolls have decided to latch onto this conspiracy concept because I think it's entirely possible that what an adult would call "nepotism," "favoritism," or even (were he struck by a fit of poesy) "the good ol' boy system" may be a concerning factor in the outcome of publishing deals.  Certainly, I've heard more than a few stories of very average novels getting major Big 5 deals before it's revealed that the author was the niece of a big time editor at Penguin or something similar.  So nepotism is certainly a possible factor in the state of publishing today, if you consider it doomed.

But what Snow and his ilk are describing is something far less insidious.  He's absolutely furious that big-name authors and publishers all seem to know each other and, what's worse, like each other and even sometimes help each other out.  There's nothing particularly confusing about that to the non-diseased mind.  Everybody in politics know each other, everybody in the recording industry knows each other (how often do you see hit singles "featuring" another recording artist), so why is it strange that everyone in the horror industry knows each other?

Horror authors (well, any authors, really) need to network to succeed.  I've been in I-don't-even-know-anymore-how-many anthologies with the likes of Jay Wilburn, Shana Festa, and even luminaries like Mark Tufo.  I've done a collaboration now with Stevie Kopas.  I've worked with four small presses and met friends and like-minded individuals at all of them, even at the ones I didn't ultimately publish with.  I've met horror authors at conventions and on Twitter and Facebook and all over the place.  We're all like-minded individuals setting out to succeed in a tough industry, and we often like each other.  Do I have enemies?  Sure, unfortunately.  Are there people I find distasteful and like to avoid?  Hell, yeah.  But for the most part, if you're a horror author, you're part of my tribe, and I'm going to help you any way I can.

Unless you act like Bradley Snow.  That's my one caveat.  If you've decided you're a frustrated author because a mythical "buddy system" is keeping you down, then you may as well just give up right now.  No one's going to welcome that kind of vitriol into their lives, and you're going to remain on the outside, unwelcomed by all.  Hell, I'm a frustrated author.  I don't have nearly the level of success that I'd like.  But instead of blaming others, I work constantly on becoming better at my craft and networking with my fans and, yes, other authors and publishers.  I don't want to alienate anyone who could potentially give me a hand up one day.

Now, where I would agree with Snow is if I felt that I had been given chances I didn't deserve because of my personal relationships.  If I felt that I was doing sub-par work and only getting published because of who I know, then that would be an issue.  But I haven't.  In fact, I was recently accepted into an anthology I'm very excited about and the editor assured me that I wouldn't have been accepted if my work wasn't up to snuff, and in fact he had broken the hearts of a few of his much older and closer friends because their work wasn't good enough.  That's the way this stuff really works.  Good relations will get your foot in the door, but only quality writing will get you accepted. 

So what is the buddy system?  Just an excuse for poor writers to go on being terrible and blaming everyone but themselves for their lack of success.

Wednesday, April 26, 2017

Carlisle High School SciFi Saturday or Bust!

If you live anywhere near central Pennsylvania, it would behoove you to stop by Carlisle High School this coming Saturday.  Carlisle High School SciFi Day is one of the best-run conventions that I attend.  The kids work really hard to take care of the vendors and guests.  And there is a lot of great charitable work that goes on.

If you're interested, the address is:

623 W Penn St
Carlisle, PA 17013

The hours are 11:00 am to 5:00 pm EST.  I'll be participating in the following panels:

Saturday 2:30 pm - LGI - "Q & A for Aspiring Authors"
Saturday 1:00 pm - M41 - "Promoting Yourself in 2017"

Hope to see you there!

Wednesday, April 19, 2017

The Quintessential THE HEMATOPHAGES Post

English-language edition 

Italian-language edition

THE HEMATOPHAGES is now available in e-book and paperback formats through the following fine booksellers:


The Italian-language edition is available via Amazon ItalyAmazon US, and Kobo.  You can purchase the paperback from Dunwich Edizioni.

It's also got a page on Goodreads.

Here are the other places around the net where you can find THE HEMATOPHAGES:

An excerpt on Daily Dead
A review on the Sinister Grin Press blog
A release day blitz on Kelly Smith Reviews
A review on The Most Sublime
A guest post on Sanford Allen's blog
A review on Cedar Hollow Horror Reviews
An interview on Cedar Hollow Horror Reviews
A review in Unnerving Magazine
A review on Kelly Smith Reviews
An interview on The Horror Show with Brian Keene
An interview on Martin C. Wilsey's blog
A review on The Horror Fiction Review
A review on Ginger Nuts of Horror
A review on Indie Picks
A review on RA Horror for All
A character interview on THe GaL iN THe BLue MaSK
A review in Analog Magazine
A mention on Riffle
A review on Cellar Door Lit Rants and Reviews
Included on Cedar Hollow Horror Review's Best of 2017 List
Included on RA for All: Horror's Best of 2017 List
Included on John Boden's Best of 2017 List
Named as "a book I liked in 2017" on Phronk's blog
An honorable mention on Tim Meyer's Best of 2017 list
Named the best book of 2017 by Brian Keene
Included as the best book of 2017 on The Horror Show With Brian Keene
Named one of the best of 2017 by Derek Anderson on Daily Dead
Nominated for a Splatterpunk Award
A review on Long and Short Reviews
Splatterpunk nomination mentioned on Ginger Nuts of Horror
Splatterpunk nomination mentioned on File 770
Splatterpunk nomination mentioned on Locus Magazine
Splatterpunk nomination mentioned on Sound Books
A review on Lipsyy Lost and Found
A review on the San Francisco Review of Books
A review on Hellnotes
A review on Books!  Books!  Books!
A review on The Vegan Revolution...with Zombies!
Merchandise on Red Bubble
A mention on Locus Magazine
A mention on Jeff Strand's blog
A mention on RA For All: Horror
A review roundup on Lipsyy's blog
A review on Sci-Fi and Scary
A mention on David Agranoff's blog
A mention on Reddit
Another mention on Reddit
A review on The Horror Review
A review by A. Renee Hunt
A flashback review on RA For All
A review on Tomes of Darkness
Named one of the top reads of 2017 by BP Gregory on Kendall Reviews
A review on Casey Douglass's blog
A mention on Library Journal
A spotlight on Library Journal

Italian-Language Edition:

A spotlight on Aratak Blog
A spotlight on Il Mondo di Simis
A spotlight on Books to Read
A spotlight on Peccati di Pena
A spotlight on pensieriisconnessi
A spotlight on Letture a pois
A review on Viaggiatrice Pigra's blog
A mention on Viaggiatrice Pigra's blog
A spotlight on Leggenda Web
A spotlight on Milioni di Particelle
A spotlight on Feel the Book
A spotlight on Les Fleurs du Mal
A spotlight on Io resto qui a leggere
A quote on L'ennesimo Book Blog
A spotlight on Tra sogno e realta
An interview in Upside Down Magazine with publisher Mauro Sauracino
A review on L'ennesimo Book Blog
A spotlight on Libri riflessi in uno Specchio
A review on Quattro chiacchiere in compagnia
A spotlight on Club Ghost
A mention on La casa dei libri di Sara
A review on Silently Aloud
A spotlight on Futurbrama
A review on passione libro blog
A review on Les Fleurs du Mal
A review on Giulia R.'s blog


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