Manuscripts Burn


"Manuscripts don't burn"
- Mikhail Bulgakov

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

Wednesday, May 23, 2018

Night of the Living Cliche (Guest Post by Victor Catano)

Hey all!  I've known today's guest for some time through our mutual publisher, Red Adept, where I've known him to be clever, genial, entertaining, and overall my most recent man crush.  I'm very pleased to bring him by the blog today to introduce to all of you.  Let's meet him briefly and then jump right into the guest post.

About Victor Catano

Victor Catano is the author of TAIL & TROUBLE, the first book in a series of urban fantasy adventures. He lives in New York City with his wonderful wife, Kim. When not writing, he works in live theater as a stage manager, light designer, and technical director, working mainly with dance companies. His hobbies include coffee, Broadway musicals, and complaining about the NY Mets and Philadelphia Eagles. (Well, less about the Eagles these days.) If you need a seat at a coffee shop, he will actually move for you if you show proof of purchase of his book.

You can find him on Facebook, his website, Twitter, BookBub, and Goodreads.

Guest Post

I’m going to set a scene for you, one that I’m sure most city dwellers are intimately familiar with,

It’s early morning. You duck into the local Starbucks to get a cup of joe to wake you up and get you on your way to work. Or maybe it’s lunch time and you want to recharge. Or maybe you’re meeting a friend over coffee at the end of the day.

You scan the room and look for an open table, but there are none to be found. You just want to sit down and enjoy your latte, but every spot is taken. Why? Why is this happening, no matter the time of day or night? Who is occupying these seats? Who is hogging all the comfy chairs?

You know who. An army of wannabe writers with rolled up sleeves, goatees, serious looks on their faces, and nursing that coffee into its third hour.

Including me.


Yes, I am confessing to being that most annoying of writerly cliches - The Coffee Shop Scribe. And, yes, I have a goatee and often a serious look.

I am not apologizing for it, mind you, because it WORKS.

I wrote the bulk of my first novel, TAIL & TROUBLE (available now at fine e-book retailers everywhere!), in a coffee shop. Specifically, the Einstein Bagels on Dr. Phillips in Orlando, right behind the Universal Studios park. My wife works at the park seasonally, and when I came down from snowy New York to visit her I got into a routine. I’d drop her off, then circle back to the coffee place. I would then proceed to abuse their free coffee refill policy while I pecked out a chapter or two of the book. Then, I’d reward myself with roller coasters. (They really help to rattle those ideas out of the brain)

I find I write so much more effectively at a coffee shop. Maybe it’s the smell of the roasted beans in the air. Maybe it’s looking at fellow writers. Maybe it’s the fact that my cat and dog can’t jump on me and demand treats and attention when I try to write. (You try writing when an eight pound bundle of cuddles jumps on you and licks your face repeatedly.) Maybe it’s the fact that a coffee shop seems to put a time limit on me so I spend less time dawdling online - obsessively checking my Amazon rankings and the rankings of every other author I know and comparing them - and more time actually writing words.

And when I was stuck on my latest novel, a sequel to TAIL & TROUBLE named THE WINTER OF OUR DISTEMPER (coming soon to e-book retailers everywhere!), I went to my local coffee shop, plopped myself down, and wrote. And it worked. I finished the draft just as the sop announced it was closing time.

So yes, it’s my fault that you and your Tinder swipe can’t get a table during your pre-hookup date. No, I’m not moving. I have a half an ounce of cold coffee and grounds in my cup still. That’s good for another half hour at least.



When Gabriel’s witch girlfriend doesn’t return from her latest trip, he gets on the road and heads out to find her. Sheila's coven is secretive and distrustful of Gabriel, so the only help he has is Sheila's familiar, a bulldog named Orson, who is psychically linked to both of them.

In Florida, they walk right into an elaborate plan to steal Orson. A mysterious wizard named Yareth is behind the plot, and he may also know where Sheila is.

Gabriel and Orson will have to fight for their lives as they navigate around all the magical roadblocks to force Yareth’s hand. They won’t give up until Sheila is safe.

Wednesday, May 16, 2018

The Long, Hard Reach for that Brass Ring

I've been writing all my life and scared for a good portion of it to attempt to get published.  I had any number of excuses for not trying.  I was always either too young, or too busy, or too embroiled in college, or desperate not to make an ass of myself in the army.  I likely might have gone on the rest of my life that way (it seems, from anecdotal evidence, that a lot of people do) but in January of 2009 I sat down and swore that I would learn how to get published and then do it.  So I literally sat down at my computer and typed "how do I get a novel published?" into Google.

The results were overwhelming, which was good, in a way, because it meant I had a lot of different people's perpectives to go through.  But it was also bad, because I really wanted a "Step A, Step B, Step C" timeline.  That desire, of course, is what drives people into the maws of sharks like Publish America and Tate Publishing.  One nice thing, I suppose, is that almost every blog and how-to article warned me right off the bat not to fall for a vanity publisher.

However, 2009 was also an odd time for the publishing industry.  E-books were obviously making a dent in traditional sales, and Amazon was beginning to decimate the brick-and-mortar industry.  I don't think it's unfair to say that at the time just about anyone who had anything to say on the subject of publishing was screaming that the sky was falling.  Looking back it's a bit quaint.  But I also lived through an era when people swore Napster would spell the demise of the music industry, and pirating would spell the demise of the movie industry, and the internet would spell the demise of the library - so I guess you could say I was prepared to take such pronouncements with a grain of salt.  Monolithic 20th-century distribution methods may change, but I think it's safe to say people are still interested in storytelling and news and will be for a long time to come.

So, in any case, in 2009 nobody quite knew what to make of self-publishing.  It was clear that E.L James, Amanda Hocking, Hugh Howey, J.A. Konrath and the like had leveraged self-publishing into multi-million dollar enterprises, and many people were strongly advocating that it was the wave of the future.  But the long, dark shadow of vanity publishing still hung over self-publishing.  I'm not sure it's entirely gone away, but nine years ago people were much more likely to scoff that a self-published author wasn't "really published."

So.  Back to me.  After scrawling through thousands of blogposts and news articles on the matter, and (at the suggestion of a friend who had recently been published) starting this very blog, I had determined that while self-publishing was a gamble that could very easily pay off, it would certainly not get you into book stores and was very likely not going to get you in front of any awards committees.  I felt like I should at least take a shot at traditional publishing and then, if necessary, self-publish.  Certainly I couldn't go back from having self-published and hope an editor at a major house would pick me up for a second printing.  That remains so unlikely that you may as well just not count on it ever happening, unless, of course, you have E.L. James-type success with your self-published novel.

So I dug in.  For four years I queried an as-yet unpublished manuscript and then BRAINEATER JONES to every person with an "agent" shingle outside their office.  As it became increasingly, mind-numbingly clear that nobody was interested, I began to expand my search to include small presses.  Finally, after four solid years of trying, I got a bite from a small press. 

Since then my indie career has taken off.  I've worked with a number of well-respected publishers (and managed to escape the clutches of a few less-than-respected ones.  I'm very happy with where I am as an indie.  I'm finally finding the respect, awards, and, most importantly, fans that I've always been searching for.

But what you may not know is that I never gave up on my dream of a Big 5 deal.  It may seem petty in 2018, but there is still a certain gravitas to landing in a bookstore, a certain sense that you've "made it."  I don't care so much about the opinions of the literati, but I'd rather not have to give a five minute explanation about the state of the publishing industry to the regular people who are confused about why they can't find me in their local Barnes and Noble.

So I've never stopped trying to find an agent.  I've queried agents for most of my novels, and, ultimately, ended up going with a reputable small press instead.

I'm very happy to say that as of today, I am now represented by the wonderful Nikki Terpilowski of Holloway Literary.  After hundreds of rejections across half a dozen novels, I've finally found another industry professional who shares my vision.

The funniest thing about this, perhaps, is that the novel that was accepted was neither horror nor science fiction, which is all that you've known from me so far.  This novel is actually a roman à clef about my time in the military.  There's no speculative fiction element, but don't worry, all of the character-building and pitch black humor you've come to expect from me will be there. 

I'm a little concerned, obviously, about branching out into a whole new genre.  I'm worried about continuing to use my name.  I may end up writing under a pseudonym for the literary genre.  My agent and I haven't decided yet.  But I'd like to continue to use my real name for all my work, and just try to be clear about genre differences. 

So, I've done it.  I've finally caught that brass ring.  Now, of course, comes the hard part: selling the novel to New York.  But I wanted to let you all know, and remind you that I wouldn't have any of this today if it wasn't for you.  So thanks!

Monday, May 14, 2018

The Quintessential "Silverwood: The Door" Post

"Silverwood: The Door" is a serialized prose and audio series from Serial Box Publishing.  It is now also available via Amazon.  Here are some other places around the web where you can find out more:

Season 1 of the original "Silverwood" web series
Season 2: "Silverwood: Final Recordings"
A post on Across the Board
A pre-release FAQ on Brian Keene's blog
An FAQ on Brian Keene's blog
A spotlight on Ginger Nuts of Horror
A spotlight on Popcorn Horror
A spotlight on Cemetery Dance
A spotlight on Most Sublime
Cover reveal on Dread Central
Cover reveal on Brian Keene's blog
A cover reveal mention on Promote Horror
A spotlight on Horror Talk!
A cover reveal on Horror News
A cover reveal on JustHorror
A discount offer code on Brian Keene's blog
An interview with The Sisters of Slaughter on Ink Heist
An interview with The Sisters of Slaughter on Gwendolyn Kiste's blog
An interview with The Sisters of Slaughter on Dan Padavona's blog
A mention on Brian Keene's blog
An interview with me on Cemetery Dance
The season preview on Serial Box
An interview with the Sisters of Slaughter on Cemetery Dance
An interview with Richard Chizmar on Cemetery Dance
A giveaway on Brian Keene's blog
A mention on Tor dot com
A discount code on Cemetery Dance
A group interview on Den of Geek
A giveaway on Serial Box
The reading page on City Guide NY
A mention on This is Horror
The signup for the Exquisite Corpse
Episode 1 release on Brian Keene's blog
The reading on the New York Review of Science Fiction
Release announcement on Brian Keene's blog
Interview with Brian redirect on Brian Keene's blog
An interview with Brian Keene on Cemetery Dance
Episode 2 release on Brian Keene's blog
An interview with Michelle Garza on the This is Horror podcast
A news roundup on This is Horror
Another news roundup on This is Horror
A third news roundup on This is Horror
Episode 3 Release on Brian Keene's blog
Exclusive excerpt on Den of Geek
An article on The Line Up
Episode 6 release announcement on Brian Keene's blog
My interview on "Eating the Fantastic"
My interview on "This is Horror"
File 770 shares my interview on "Eating the Fantastic"
A review on The 7th Matrix
Locus Magazine shares my interview on "Eating the Fantastic"
A review on Signal Horizon
A livestream of my reading for "A Night With Serial Box Redux"
An interview with the Sisters of Slaughter on The Bold Mom
An interview with the Serial Box CEO on Recode Decode
Mentioned as one of the best serials on Den of Geek
A mention on The Qwillery
Android release mentioned on Brian Keene's blog
A Review on Lord Samper's Library
My CoronaCon reading is mentioned on Erica Robyn Reads

Teaser Trailer:

Reading starts at about 5 hr 16 min

Friday, May 11, 2018

Mother's Day Thoughts

Mother's Day is coming up.

That's about the extent of my thoughts on the matter.

Wednesday, May 9, 2018

The Horror Show 24 Hour Marathon or Bust!

Hey, everybody!

I'm very pleased to remind you all that I'll be appearing this Friday and Saturday, May 11-12 2018, on The Horror Show with Brian Keene.  But this isn't just any episode of that redoubtable podcast, oh no!  This is a 24-hour marathon, with an intended goal of raising $20,000 for the Scares that Care charity.  For more information, go here.

And how am I involved?  Well, I'll be on hand to sign any books you bring, of course, and I'll have books in my car if you really want to buy one, but for the most part it's not that kind of event.  This is a charity event and so everything will be directed towards providing quality entertainment to encourage the audience to donate to the cancer and burn patients we'll be supporting.  To that end, I'll be on at 7:00 pm EST to make a major announcement, along with Richard Chizmar, about an upcoming project of ours.  I'll also be doing a reading on Saturday morning.

The event will take place at the Courtyard Marriott (2799 Concord Road, York, PA 17402.)  Hope to see you there!

Monday, May 7, 2018

Mascara and a Rifle: Women in the Military (Guest Post by Dacia M. Arnold)

Hey everybody!  Sorry about the brief hiatus.  My schedule is...well, not really calm, but let's say less hectic.  In any case, I don't want to leave this blog to languish for too long ever again, so I called in some favors and managed to score a guest post for you all today.  So I'm pleased to introduce you to author and vet, Dacia M. Arnold.  Let's introduce her briefly and then jump right into the post.

About Dacia M. Arnold:

Dacia M Arnold is an author of dystopian fiction and dark/ horror short fiction. She is also a ten-year Army veteran and served two tours of combat as a medic. Dacia is now a mother and fulltime author in Denver, Colorado. Her debut novel, APPARENT POWER (Immortal Works Press), comes out in December 2018 as is the adult answer to DIVERGENT. Dacia M Arnold blogs at and you can support her on Patreon.

Guest Post:

One of the stipulations Stephen put on this guest post was that it had to be NOT boring. Here is my honest attempt.

First, I wanted to let every writer know one thing, because it seems like people forget: WOMEN SERVE IN THE MILITARY!!! In ALL branches and now, in all combat positions. And the women that serve(d) are not all tall skinny sexy-pots, undeniably butch, or incompetent.

There. I said it.

Also, there are no “Lady” combat loads. 210 rounds of ammunition weighs as much for a 6’3” 200-pound man as it does for a 5’2”, 117-pound woman. There is no “male small” and “female small” body armor. When the ruck requirement is 50 pounds, it’s 50 pounds for everyone. Women get all the same tactical and lethal combat training that men go through.

So why the vaginal omission from military fiction? If I were to guess, it would be the unfamiliarity of how females function in this capacity and how they change the dynamic of the element they belong to. Only 1% of the US population will serve in the armed forces (3.25 million people both serving or have served). That’s about how many people live in LA currently. So, for the majority, speculating on the experience with the addition of women might be difficult. Movies have gotten better at the incorporation; however, females do not often appear in serious leadership roles.

As much as I would like to think that the real-world incorporation of females in combat jobs did not affect the atmosphere of comradery, I do not assume the world, much less the military or the literary world, has ultimately reached gender equality.

“How do we do military women justice in fiction?”

Do you have a sister? THAT is the relationship most males and females within the ranks foster. Imagine a female gaming friend that is off limits, but even if there is an attraction, it’s understood that nothing outside of a plutonic relationship is acceptable. You can even write a motherly figure into an otherwise all male element. No doubt she can pull her weight, but she might also bring a nurturing dynamic. Do you work in an office with ladies? These, nonthreatening, nonsexual, fully coherent and competent female beings exist IN THE MILITARY.

Want to know something scary? Once a woman gets out of the military and takes on other jobs in society, maybe has a few kids… They become the single most capable and defensive human being to walk this planet. Imagine Wynona Ryder’s character on "Stranger Things," ripping a hole in her wall with her bare hands to reach her son… Now imagine if she had been combat trained. Here is a short story from my experiences at war.

I used to carry a hatchet, unsheathed, swinging by my side when I had to walk to the bathroom at night. There had been an increase in women being attacked on the way to go pee in a trailer that was anywhere from next door to a quarter mile away. Again, I carried a hatchet to the bathroom to protect myself from getting raped by a fellow service member. Someone I should have been able to trust with my life. This is just an example of how a woman functions in this atmosphere. No one ever attacked me on my way to the bathroom.

From the time I joined the Army at 19 until I got out at 29, I trained on ways to defend from people trying to kill me or rape me. I did not fear for my life when I carried that hatchet. I feared for the person that I might have to use it on. In a fight for my life, I might lose, but that MFer would not make it out in the same shape he went in. All 5’2” of fierce desperation still knows how to take a grown man down.

I hope I was able to shine enough light on this mythical creature to make writers more comfortable in incorporating females into their fictional defense of this country.

And before someone barks at me, yes, some writers are aware of such matters and DO incorporate strong females into military Sci-Fi. David Gerrold did it in the 80s with Elizabeth “Lizard” Tirelli, a chopper pilot. David Weber also with Honor Harrington.

I’m just a girl, reading this contemporary military fiction, wishing it didn’t miss the mark. CHEERS!
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