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, June 6, 2018

Call to Action - Please Donate to the Brian Keene Burn Fund

Bottom Line Up Front:  If you can, please donate a few dollars here.  If you're not in a financial position to donate, please share on social media or spread the word any way you can.

Background:  Hey, everybody!  I'm sorry to have to post this as I wish it had never happened.  But since it did, a good friend of mine and patron of the horror community, Brian Keene, has been badly burned in an accident.  While clearing brush, the wind shifted and he received first degree burns on his face, as well as second and some third degree burns on his arm.  Brian is an author, podcaster, father, and philanthropist, who as recently as last month raised $20,000 for the Scares That Care charity.  That's just the tip of the iceberg when it comes to his charitable work, but now he needs our help.  As a working freelance author, he does not have health insurance or a stable income.  This hospital stay will be a weight on his finances, only compounded by the amount of time he is unable to work.  I hope you'll consider donating, even if it's only a few dollars, by visiting the GoFundMe site here.  If you're unable to contribute at this time, you can still help by sharing on social media and in real life.

I've seen the horror community come together time and time again to accomplish amazing things for worthy causes.  I have no doubt this will be another shining example.  Thank you all for your help!

Monday, June 4, 2018

Uh Oh, It's Magic (Guest Post With Sean Seebach)

Hi all!  I'm pleased to introduce you to today's guest, who, if you haven't encountered him before, has been an absolutely delightful recent addition to the horror genre.  Sean Seebach is the kind of pleasant, supportive, genial person that improves the genre as a whole so much so that you don't even care if his work is good - but trust me, he's no slouch in that area.  Let's meet him and then jump right into the guest post.

About Sean Seebach:

Influenced by Stephen King and Rod Serling, Sean Seebach has written three books: A LOOKING IN VIEW, AUTUMN DARK, and OUR MONSTERS ARE REAL: THE PIG MAN.

When Sean isn't writing or managing a wonderful barbecue joint with amazing people, he enjoys reading, cooking, and listening to rock n' roll.

He currently lives in Ohio with his wife, daughter, and son.

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

Guest Post:

The magic of transcendence into story is why I am a reader first. Have you ever been reading a story and completely forgot about where you are, who you are, the rent payment that’s due in two days or the argument you had yesterday lingering around your conscious like a bad smell?

Have you experienced that?

I have.

The first time I transcended into story I was reading "Mrs. Todd’s Shortcut" by Stephen King. I rode along in that convertible of hers with the wind in my hair, cloaked in the aroma of crispy leaves around us. I even had to adjust my eyes to the long shadows of the trees as we laughed together, shortening each trip by cosmic proportions. Although I laid comfortably in an easy chair with the book tucked into my lap, consciously, I wasn’t there at all.

When I put the book down my hands trembled. After my future wife came home from her shift that night, she heard all about my new friend Mrs. Todd and my thoughts about being admitted to the nuthouse because of the experience.

Transcending happens often to me when I read a great story. Most recently, the following stories come to mind: "The Mime" by MarySanGiovanni, WIDOW'S POINT by Richard and Billy Chizmar, DARKNESS ON THE EDGE OF TOWN and END OF THE ROAD by Brian Keene, KIN by Kealan Patrick Burke, and your blog host, Stephen Kozeniewski, wrote a book called THE HEMATOPHAGES that sent me to a world far away from my own home here on Earth.

Stories like those mentioned above are why I’m both a reader and writer. I get to experience both sides of this unexplainable phenomenon.

Peter Straub confirmed story transcendence when he spoke at The Borderlands Press Writer’s Bootcamp this past January.

One day, he said, he sat in his office in Manhattan after he finished doing something fictionally horrible to some poor guy in a dark alley in New York. Recalling being transported into the scene as he wrote it, he stood against the alley’s brick wall and watched brutal things happen to some guy he conjured from his own imagination. After writing the scene, he gazed from his window as people crisscrossed across the street, bustled into shops and delis, and loaded delivery trucks. In that moment he gasped, and thought, these poor suckers only get to live one life.

Whether you’re a reader, a writer, or both, I think you can agree–he couldn’t have been more right.

And sometimes, when my car windows are down and I’m travelling down a twisting rural road, a warm September breeze rustles up dry leaves and I hear Mrs. Todd’s laughter echo with my own.



Take a look inside a world of the fantastic, strange, and macabre:

Lillian witnesses the death of her undead mother…

A hitman has one last favor to pay…

Frustrated with his mother’s boyfriend, ten-year-old Nathan runs away from home in an attempt for a better life…

A nursing home has a strange visitor with more to offer than battered paperbacks for the residents…

Comprised of thirteen eerie, mysterious tales, A LOOKING IN VIEW is the first collection by author Sean Seebach and features a bonus novella, Blue Collar Diesel, where a man searches for manual labor in an attempt to win his fiancĂ© back, but finds something much darker within himself.

Friday, June 1, 2018

The Politics of Taste

A few years ago I wrote a tongue-in-cheek post about some things I consider overrated.  Thankfully, the fever seems to have subsided, but at the time we were living in an era of peak Amy Schumer.  I didn't think it was particularly controversial to say that she was irritatingly overexposed.  Hell, she's made the same joke herself on her show.

At the time, though, one of my friends warned me that people would accuse me of being a misogynist for making that fairly banal joke.  I scratched my head and didn't really see the connection.

Recently, though, I was reminded of that conversation when I read an article about the extent to which your pop culture taste is dictated by your politics.  This was kind of thought-provoking for me.  I mean, there are obviously celebrities who wear their political leaning on their sleeve.  Sure, I avoid Ted Nugent because he's so grotesquely outspoken on the right, and I was aware plenty of conservatives shun Sean Penn for being similarly far left.  But that seemed more like the exception to me.

There's a saying, though, "Every action is a political action" and it seems truer now more than ever.  Politics are impossible to escape.  They're even being inserted (or perhaps were always there and now we're just noticing them) in things as banal as breakfast cereals.  Certainly I worry about where I spend my money, and make what I assume is an often vain attempt to spend in a politically responsible manner.  So why not when it comes to pop culture?

I guess what I didn't realize was that people consider the passive act of consuming pop culture a political act.  To tie it back in with what I was discussing above might be put succinctly as, "If you like Amy Schumer, that means you support feminism.  Therefore if you criticize Amy Schumer, you're criticizing feminism."

You know where this is going, right? 

The "Roseanne" reboot was weirdly politicized from day one.  Look, I watched the show, with the exception of a few episodes my girlfriend jumped to without me.  I also, like much of America, watched the original show back in the '90s.  It was never a favorite for me, but it was what was on.  About the same as my opinion of "Full House" or "Perfect Strangers."  And the reboot was, except for a very mild miasma of topical subjects, about the same as the old show.

Roseanne voted for Trump and Jackie voted for Jill Stein.  Replace that with Bush and Perot, and the same jokes could have been made thirty years ago. 

Roseanne's grandson is a crossdresser and Dan is worried he'll get bullied.  Replace that with...well, actually there wasn't a whole lot of shit you could wear outside the norm in the '90s without getting shit, so let's say anything, and that same plotline could have been in the original.

So, like I said, a few episodes were topical, but for the most part, it was just your standard network sitcom.  In that sense, it was a bit of a throwback, so there was some nostalgic joy, the same as I get with "Ash vs. Evil Dead" or my sister might get with "Fuller House."

But the general topic of discussion seemed to be that the show was a political bellwether.  If you watched it, you were a conservative.  (Trust me, dear readers, I am not.  I also read Joe Bob Briggs's articles in Taki Mag every week, and turn on Fox News when I'm folding the laundry.  Hell, I used to watch Glenn Beck almost every day.)

Actually, let's pause and make an aside about that instead of just a brief parenthetical.  I disagree with conservative principles on just about every point.  Probably more rabidly than the average person, in fact.  But as my politics are not a religion to me, I believe the other side's arguments should be heard.  Heard, and, in 95% of cases, dismissed as twaddle.  Now, in the case of Joe Bob, I actually agree with a lot of what he says, because it's mostly in the vein of "Hey, I'm old, here's how we used to do things, here's how things are now, and here's why I'm not sure that's an improvement."  He's not shouting at teenaged school shooting survivors or cussing out immigrants.

I have to say, though, hearing what the political right thinks, hearing what their arguments and counter-arguments are, makes me think.  It keeps me from being kneejerk in my worldviews.  It provides a mirror and counterpoint to my own thought processes.  Identifying the weak joints and creaky stairs in the house William F. Buckley built helps me identify my own biases and hypocrisies. 

Hear people out is the long and short of it.  Maybe their arguments are stupid.  Usually they are.  But you never know, people can surprise you, and your thinking is never perfect, and it's less perfect in an echo chamber because you're just not thinking at all.

How did I get off on that tangent?  Oh, yeah.  "Roseanne."  So the whole political bellwether thing seemed, to me, a facade.  And a useful one for the pundit class.  Like I said, people like me probably just tuned in out of nostalgia, and the right decided to take that as proof positive once again that America was on their side.  (To be clear, 10 million people out of 350 million is not exactly a mandate, even if the whole political bellwether theory had been accurate.)

So I didn't think liking "Roseanne" said a whole lot about my politics.  Now liking Roseanne the person, on the other hand, is a whole other issue.  Like I said, I don't think there's anything inherently wrong in giving conservative voices a platform.  In the marketplace of ideas, their terrible ones will simply fail.  Why try to silence them?  Doing that just makes it sound like you're trying to cover something up, and nothing is more alluring than the taboo.  So, by all means, let conservatives talk.

And exactly what was supposed to happen, happened.  Roseanne was a horrible, disgusting racist and put paid to all of her "conservative doesn't mean racist or bad" shtick.  Weird how often that happens.  And then the whole universe imploded on her.  I wish it hadn't taken out all of her cast and crew in the backlash.

But back to the basic thrust of this post.  Does what you watch and enjoy determine who you are, or vice versa?  I understand there's the argument that in watching, you "support" with your clicks and advertising exposure.  I understand how advertiser supported television works.  But it's not like I'm running out and buying a bunch of gold and prepper supplies because I turn on Fox News a few times a week.  It's certainly different from donating to the Trump campaign, or shopping at a bakery that won't bake for gay weddings, or buying a ticket to see "Atlas Shrugged" in the theater or something.  I got that.  You don't want to support people who disagree with you by lending them your time and energy and theoretical money.

But at the heart of it, are our entertainment choices really political?  I know people who only went to see the "Ghostbusters" reboot because it seemed like a vaguely femininist thing to do.  I know there are lots of people who refused to because they're basically misogynsts.  (Or, sorry, "conservative but not misogynstic.")  If all acts are political acts, to what extent is passive consumption political?  Let me know your thoughts in the comments below.
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