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, January 31, 2014

A Scrivener Explicates: Whence the Juncture Whither Obscurity Transmogrifies Itself Unto Opacity?

I'm going to talk about a metaphor from this article today. I'm including the link so you don't think I'm addressing a strawman, but there's no compelling reason for you to read the whole article, especially if you dislike politics.

So, here's a quote from this article:

"If he can don the toga praetexta of a statesman, [Mr. X] may think..."

If you're thinking, "What the hell does that mean?" well, you're not alone. I immediately went to Google to learn that a toga praetexta was a toga with a red or purple lining worn by boys, priests, and sometimes as a kind of informal honor. None of these options made any particular sense in the context used, so I went and asked someone smarter than me.

I ended up contacting two trained classicists I know, one of whom is now a university professor, and between the three of us we were still unable to come up with a certain answer. Which is why I took to my blog today!

I understand that everyone has a different frame of reference, and I don't expect The Daily Beast or The Economist to be on the same intellectual wavelength as The New York Post or USA Today. But if you've written a metaphor for mass ditribution that can't be understood by three relatively intelligent adults, including an author and two experts in the terminology you're using, then who the hell are you writing for?

I would never encourage anyone to dumb down their writing. In fact, I think a lot of writing today could stand to be...smartened up? (Is that the right term? Who the fuck knows? I'll bet you understood what I meant, though, right?)

I don't really apologize if I've ever thrown around any $0.50 words or complicated references that made my writing tough, assuming it's something that a person with access to Google or a good dictionary could look up. I used to enjoy learning new words and new bits of history from reading above my level.

But I will say this: if you've come up with something so complicated that only you can understand it, then you're not elevating discourse, you're just being an asshole. Your purpose is to make people come to you and ask you what you mean. It doesn't even really necessarily signify that you're any more intelligent than anyone else. It just means you exposed everyone to a riddle that only you know the answer to.

I once served with an officer in the army who began one day, out of the blue, to begin using the term "FYSA" in all of his correspondence. None of us knew what the fuck it meant, and when he began dropping it into conversations and then leering at us, we all understood that his point in using it was to make people ask him what it meant. The acronym, as it turned out, meant "For Your Situational Awareness." In other words, FYI. But said douchebaggily. So your takeaway from this article? Be smart in your writing, intellectual even, but try to avoid the douchebaggery.

Wednesday, January 29, 2014

Guest Post: Erica Lucke Dean, Author of SUDDENLY SORCERESS

Today I'm happy to host fellow Red Adept Publishing author Erica Lucke Dean, who has recently released her sophomore novel, the paranormal romance SUDDENLY SORCERESS.  Be sure to hang around until the end because our mutual publisher is generously hosting a giveaway for this blog tour.  You could win $20 or $10 Amazon gift cards or a free copy of her first book, TO KATIE WITH LOVE!  But only if you wholly grok this guest post and marketing pitch first.

I found the synopsis for her new book somewhat...shall we say...suggestive.  It certainly made it easy for me to come up with a prompt for her guest post.  Well, instead of hemming and hawing any longer, maybe I'll just let you read it:


PMS can be a real witch.

Ivie McKie isn’t your run-of-the-mill kindergarten teacher.  After an encounter with a horny goat, Ivie has a confrontation with her lying, cheating fiancé. She is shocked when the big jerk suddenly transforms into a skunk—the black and white furry variety.

Enlisting the help of her shopaholic friend Chloe and sexy club magician Jackson Blake, Ivie is forced to play a literal game of cat and mouse as she races against the clock to change her ex back before she’s arrested for his murder.

With every new spell, a fresh wave of sexual desire draws Jack further into Ivie’s troubles, along with her panties, the car, the kitchen, and assorted seedy bathrooms.

Ivie soon discovers what every witch worth her spell book knows: There’s nothing worse than a bad case of Post Magical Syndrome.


And now I'll turn the blog over to Erica to answer the prompt this synopsis immediately inspired in me:

Today I heard the term ”Shark Week” for the first time and then I read about "Post MAGICAL Syndrome" in your synopsis. What are the best…or worst…euphemisms and metaphors that you’ve heard (or made up) for…um…you know…that thing that we don’t like to call by its proper name…

PMS can be a real witch.

When Stephen said he wanted me to write a guest post about PMS, I was certain he was messing with me. Okay, sure… PMS comes straight out of the tagline to my new book, SUDDENLY SORCERESS (the story of a kindergarten teach turned witch who accidently turns her cheating fiancé into a skunk all because of PMS) but surely, he couldn’t want me to break it down and analyze the meaning behind it, right? Let’s face it, guys run from PMSing women like Bigfoot, hell-bent on their destruction. The mere mention of tampons, or assorted other menstrual paraphernalia tends to turn grown men into shrieking little girls.

But he wasn’t kidding. He wanted me to break down the world of PMS so a guy could understand it.
So here goes…

Before you can understand PMS, you have to realize what the condition really is. P (pre) M (menstrual) S (syndrome.) In a nutshell, we’re talking about the rough water you have to paddle through before surfing the crimson wave. The frantic week of stress and anxiety leading up to your monthly visit from Aunt Flo (or Aunt Ruby, or Aunt Martha.) The impending doom (complete with the menacing soundtrack) just before Shark Week. Or (dare I say) the flaky crust to your cherry pie?

I think I just grossed myself out coming up with all the creative ways to refer to the Crimson Curse. Gone are the days of “That time of the month.” Modern women like to spice things up with such golden nuggets as having a crime scene in your pants, being on injured reserve, taking the red eye to Zanzibar, and riding the cotton pony.

But none of those things specifically refer to PMS. PMS is like running around the African savannah with an “Eat Me” sign on your back. It’s swimming in shark-infested waters with a paper cut. It’s the time immediately preceding the giant tampon symbol in the sky warning men to take cover while out of control hormones ravage the town.

Speaking of raging hormones and an unsuspecting town… My last bout of PMS was especially brutal. I felt like Dr. Jekyll and Mrs. Hyde. An entire town of holiday shoppers was at risk while I was loose in the wilds. Let’s just say, they were lucky my magical prowess lies solely within the pages of a book. We would have had a whole town of woodland creatures dressed in yuppie outdoor wear if I could work real magic.

So there you have it. PMS and the modern witch. I mean woman. Is it any wonder they wanted to burn us at the stake?

About the Author: 

After walking away from her career as a business banker to pursue writing full-time, Erica moved from the hustle and bustle of the big city to a small tourist town in the North Georgia Mountains where she lives in a 90-year-old haunted farmhouse with her workaholic husband, her 180lb lap dog, and at least one ghost.

When she’s not busy writing or tending to her collection of crazy chickens, diabolical ducks, and a quintet of piglets, hell bent on having her for dinner, she’s either reading bad fan fiction or singing karaoke in the local pub. Much like the characters in her books, Erica is a magnet for disaster, and has been known to trip on air while walking across flat surfaces.

How she’s managed to survive this long is one of life’s great mysteries.



“You’re too sexy, my ass!” I tried to tune out the Right Said Fred ringtone as I fished my fiancé’s cell phone from the pocket of his discarded Dockers. I glared at the flashing caller ID. “You just don’t give up, do you?”

That was lucky number thirteen. Thirteen missed calls in the span of an hour. Thirteen calls he was unable to answer.

Because of me.
After pressing ignore one more time, I shoved the phone back into the pocket where it belonged, hoping it would muffle the sound somewhat. I didn’t know why I didn’t just turn off the damn thing. I’d endured his ridiculous ring tone more times than anyone should have to, obviously determined to punish myself. Between the maddening song and the horrible smell, I certainly felt punished. Even if it wasn’t nearly enough.

Way down deep in my bones, I knew my life had been forever changed. Even if I could somehow fix things—put them back to normal—nothing would be the same again. Not ever.

Swallowing against the crystal ball-sized lump in my throat, I dropped Matt’s pants where I’d found them, along with his shirt, his boxers, and his shoes, and I collapsed onto the rumpled blankets on the bed.

That sort of thing didn’t happen in the real world. Only small children or crazy people believed in… no, I refused to even think the word, let alone say it. It’s impossible. But I’d seen it with my own eyes, and whatever it was, it definitely wasn’t normal.

My scruffy housecat made another frantic orbit around my feet as the phone sounded again, the self-centered lyrics looping, making me cringe. Apparently, he’d also grown weary of the tune.

If only I could say the choice of ring tone was ironic, a product of his wry sense of humor. But he didn’t have much of a sense of humor. Matthew Green was exactly that arrogant. Despite every despicable thing he’d done to me, every insult, lie, and betrayal that had led us there, I truly wished Matt could answer his stupid phone himself. Unfortunately, wishing didn’t seem to be on my side that morning.

Stifling a groan, I pulled myself from the warmth of the bed to dig the phone out of Matt’s pocket again. Geez, persistent much? With a deep, cleansing breath, I mashed down the button to accept the call.

“Matt! Where are you?” Matt’s receptionist, Ginger, snapped before I had a chance to say hello.  “Friday’s your busiest day. Do you have any idea what time it is? You’ve already missed two appointments.”

Even without caller ID, I would have recognized her breathy Betty Boop voice. She sounded as though she’d been sucking helium all morning. I didn’t know her well, but I suspected she was banging my fiancé.

“We’ll be lucky if there’s enough time for a quickie before the next patient arrives,” she continued in a whisper.

Yep… definitely banging him. 

“And another thing.” Her sweet baby voice morphed into a feral growl. “Candy’s been standing outside your office all morning. I thought you said you were done with her? I’m not kidding, Matt, if I find out you’re still screwing her, I’m going to cut off your balls.”

Apparently, I was engaged to a pathological cheater. Of course, I hadn’t known that when I agreed to marry him. There were a lot of things I didn’t know about Matt. Then again, there was a lot I didn’t know about me.

“Well? Aren’t you going to say anything?”

“Uh… hi, Ginger.” I cleared my throat and resisted the urge to “say anything.” “This is Ivie. Matt can’t come to the phone. I… uh... don’t think he’s going to be able to… uh… make it into work today.” I managed to stammer through the basics without my voice cracking.

“Oh, hi, Ivie.” Her voice changed again; she sounded as if she’d been sucking lemons. She didn’t even have the decency to be embarrassed. “What’s wrong with Matt? He hasn’t missed a day in… Actually, I don’t think he’s ever called in sick.”

My eyes darted to the closed bathroom door, and I shuddered. “He’s really not feeling like himself today.” Understatement of the century.

“Is he sick?”

“Um… I definitely don’t think anyone wants what he has.” I tiptoed around the answer. I wasn’t good at coy, but I gave it my best shot.

“Oh… Well, in that case, maybe it’s best if he stays home.” I could almost see her coiling a lock of her thick red hair around her finger as she spoke. “Just tell him I hope he feels better, and not to worry. I’ll reschedule his appointments for him. Do you think he’ll be well enough to come in Monday?”

I tamped down a flicker of panic. “I really hope so.” But I seriously doubt it.

After listening to Ginger rant for a minute about missed appointments and the difficult task of rescheduling, I ended the call, staring at the bathroom door as if I expected a silent command to open it. I closed my eyes and tried to imagine the door swinging wide and my fiancé sauntering out. I popped open one eye. The door hadn’t moved—not even a crack.

For far too long, I’d avoided that room. With three tentative steps, I closed the distance between myself and the master bathroom, covering my mouth and nose with one hand as I cracked the door. I’d almost gotten used to the foul odor in the bedroom. It was bad but not unbearable. The stench in the bathroom was overwhelming. The fumes poured out, bringing tears to my eyes. The small space reeked worse than when I’d locked him in there last night. It smelled as if someone had cooked up a potion of burning tires and rotten eggs in a boiling vat of sour ammonia, and even that comparison wasn’t quite bad enough.

Blinking back the sting of tears, I scanned the room. I didn’t see him anywhere, just a puddle that looked suspiciously like urine in one corner and in the other, a makeshift bed fashioned out of—were those my good bath towels?

No Matt.

A quick rush of adrenaline kick-started my heart. What’s happened to him now? This is bad. Very, very bad. As if things weren’t bad enough already. What sort of person was I? What I’d done was unspeakable, so horrible even I didn’t know what I’d done.

Just as I was about to have a full-blown panic attack, he slinked out from behind the hamper. I should have been relieved he was still alive, but I wasn’t sure if his current state was much better. He stared up at me—his beady little black eyes blinking in the harsh fluorescent light—so much smaller than he used to be and covered in a thick pelt of black and white fur. My fiancé.

The skunk. 


Be sure to purchase SUDDENLY SORCERESS at:

Barnes & Noble

And don't forget to review it and tell your friends about it on:


Rafflecopter code:

Monday, January 27, 2014

The Quintessential GHOUL ARCHIPELAGO Post

Second Edition Cover

First Edition Cover

THE GHOUL ARCHIPELAGO is now available in paperback:


Here are the purchase links for the ebook as well:

Barnes and Noble
Google Play

The audiobook (narrated by Jennifer Fournier) is also available:


Here are the other places you'll find TGA around the web:

Goodreads entry
A write-up on Horror After Dark
A mention on Zombie Fiction Fanatic
A shout-out on Elizabeth Corrigan's blog
A mention on What's Your Thought on That
A mention on Learning to Write
A dedicated page on the King of Horror's website
A dedicated page on Awesome Gang
A funny write-up on Zigzag Timeline
A shout-out on Sharon Stevenson's blog
A shout-out on Devourer of Books
A review on Sharon Stevenson's blog
An interview on From the Authors
A spotlight on Indie News with Author J.C. Brown
A round-up shout-out on Sharon Stevenson's blog
A review on the Zigzag Timeline
An interview on the IndieView
A shout-out on Big Al's Books and Pals
A mention on Blood, Sweat, and Books
A mention on I'm a Voracious Reader
A review on Minding Spot
A mention on Books, Bones, and Buffy
A mention on Beauty in Ruins
A guest post on Horror After Dark
A review on Horror After Dark
A feature on Laurie's Paranormal Thoughts and Reviews
An interview on Bibliophilia, Please
A review on Patrick D'Orazio's blog
A review on The Horror Movies Blog
A shout-out on THe GaL iN THe BLue MaSK
An interview on Horror Metal Sounds
A review on Bookshelf Bombshells
A reverse promotion post on Wise Words
A shout-out on The Bookie Monster
Fourth Wall Friday (author insertion fiction) on Cabin Goddess
A review on The Eloquent Page
A review on Feed the Zombie Children
A spotlight on Zombie Blood Fights
A spotlight on The Darkness Goes 'Round
A review on The Reader's Hollow
A review on Creating Serenity
An introduction on South Branch Scribbler
A guest post on Brain Squeezin's
An interview on authorsinterviews
An excerpt on South Branch Scribbler
A review on Trista M. Borgwardt's blog
An excerpt on ZombiePop
A feature on The Examiner
A spotlight on Someone Read This
A guest post on The Bookie Monster
An interview on Books, Beer, and Blogshit
A mention on the Zombie Book List
A spotlight on The Backseat Writer
A character interview with Rand Bergeron on Inside the Mind of Kindra Sowder
A spotlight on Reading Recommendations
A guest post on Indie Authors You Want to Read
A mention on Beauty in Ruins
A review on The Bookie Monster
A review on Charnel House Reviews
An interview on Interrogating Ideology With a Chainsaw
An interview on the Darkness Dwells podcast
The world premiere of the SDM commercial on My Book Addiction
A review on Horror Metal Sounds
An interview on This is Horror
A review on Contagious Reads
A spotlight on Serenity's Lovely Reads
A review on The Horror Fiction Review
A spotlight on Are You Afraid of the Dark?
A review on Kelly Smith Reviews
An interview on Sea-Anan Empire
An excerpt on Sea-Anan Empire
A review roundup on Sea-Anan Empire
A review on Sea-Anan Empire
An interview on Servante of Darkness
A review on the Chicago Center for Literature and Photography
The audio trailer on Sound Cloud
The audio trailer on Hollywood Trailers
The Page 69 Test on The Next Best Book Blog
A review on Frank Michaels Errington's blog
An interview on The Horror Show with Brian Keene
A review on The All Night Library
A review on Classic Book Reader
A review on Horror Geeks
A review on Bookolio Blog
A promotion on Choosy Bookworm
A review on Horror Underground
A review on Memories in a Box
A review on Confessions of a Reviewer
A mention on Lipsyy Lost and Found
A review on Hey Said Renee
A trailer review on THe GaL iN THe BLue MaSK
An interview on The Horror Show with Brian Keene (Halloween party)
A review on Lipsyy Lost & Found
An appearance on Dave's Top Ten Moments of 2015 The Horror Show with Brian Keene
An appearance on the best of The Horror Show (Part 2) with Brian Keene
A review on The Most Sublime Things
A guest post on Wagging the Fox
An interview with audiobook narrator Jennifer Fournier on The Featured Voice
An audiobook review on Dab of Darkness
An appearance on Softonic
A mention on Erica Robyn Reads
A review on Erica Robyn Reads

The live-action trailer:

The SDM commercial:

The audio trailer:

The animated trailer:

Thursday, January 23, 2014

Paint by Numbers

Hey, everybody, sorry I've been acting like Uncle Marketing Douche™ these past few days. I'm sure it was especially painful if you follow me on multiple social media sites. The good news, though, is that thanks to you, my beloved fans, I've reached personal bests on almost every statistic I track.  A few of these, paperback sales rankings mostly, are from last year, but the big unplanned double sale this week drove almost everything into the stratosphere.  Since I thought you might be interested, here are my current personal bests for all my stats.  (Bear in mind that the lower the number the in, we all want to be number 1.)

#1,540 author on Amazon US
#36 author in Horror on Amazon US

#5 in Sci Fi & Fantasy (Horror) on Kobo
#5 in Fiction & Literature (Horror) on Kobo
#5 in Mystery & Suspense (Hard-Boiled) on Kobo
#253 on Barnes & Noble
#33,119 on Amazon UK (e-books)
#623 on Amazon US (e-books)

#29,879 on Amazon US (paperback)
#7 in Hard-Boiled (books) on Amazon US
#9 in Hard-Boiled (e-books) on Amazon US
#15 in Horror (e-books) on Amazon US

#20,445 on Amazon UK (e-books)
#13,052 on Amazon US (e-books)

#78,441 on Amazon US (paperbacks)
#19 in Sea Adventures on Amazon US

Thanks for all the support everybody!

Sunday, January 19, 2014


Guess what, everybody?  My debut novel, BRAINEATER JONES, is on sale January 19-21 for only $0.99 on EVERY venue.  That means:

Barnes & Noble

Oh, and if you happen to like me as a person, or maybe you are a fan of my writing and despise me as a human being, or maybe you feel like I've supported you in the past and maybe you want to support me now, please feel free to share this post with your friends and loved ones!  Thanks!

Thursday, January 16, 2014


Hey, kids, for one week only (January 16-23, 2014) my sophomore effort and, in my humble opinion, the greatest horror novel ever written THE GHOUL ARCHIPELAGO is on sale for only $0.99 American!  That's an astonishing deal that you won't find again anytime soon.

And not to be super preachy (like Sonntag) or super greedy (like Rand) but if you feel like maybe you like my writing as an artist, or maybe you like me personally as a human being, or maybe I've helped you out in one of your endeavors, either artistic or elsewise in life, would you consider paying me the ultimate compliment of sharing this link with your friends?  I love all of you fans, both those that are contractually obligated to put up with me and those that just discovered me on the internet.  So today let's raise a glass to the fans and to the ultimate in grueling terror: THE GHOUL ARCHIPELAGO!

Tuesday, January 7, 2014

PHOENIX ISLAND by John Dixon released!

Today's a big day for friend o' the blog* John Dixon!  First of all, tune in now (seriously, NOW!) to CBS to see Intelligence, the TV show based on John's new book, PHOENIX ISLAND.  And in an amazing example of synergy gone right, PHOENIX ISLAND is also available for sale today!  Go buy it!  Go watch it!  Go support our boy!  

* note to self: write a book about a clown named Friendo the Blog

Thursday, January 2, 2014

The Top 13 Manuscripts Burn Posts of 2013

I liked doing it so much last year, that I thought this year I would again bring you...The Top 13 Manuscripts Burn Posts of 2013!

13.  The 2013 Hundie Challenge #4: The Postman Always Rings Twice - a lengthy fan fiction piece where Samwise Gamgee teams up with Prince Myshkin and together they set out to become Mandalorian bounty hunters

12.  The 2013 Hundie Challenge #1: Catch-22 - ?

11.  The 2013 Hundie Challenge #48: An American Tragedy - a recipe for making poopsicle stick pies (yes, I said "poopsicle")

10.  The 2013 Hundie Challenge #53: Upload - sweet ambrosia of a heavenly variety

9.  DIRTY SOCIAL WORKING - WAR AND PEACE typed word-for-word but in reverse

8.  The Great 2013 Review Rumble - IT'S ON! - unfortunately, no one can be told what this blogpost is, you have to see it for yourself

7.  The 2013 Hundie Challenge #44: To Katie With Love  - I set fire to the rain

6.  A Little Housekeeping and a BIG Announcement - two generic, multi-ethnic street gangs vie for the hand of a single maiden who turns out to be nothing more than an ordinary street urchin (not "urchin" in the beggar sense, but "urchin" in the underwater spined invertebrate sense)

5.  The Top Ten Zombie Movies of All Time - a comprehensive list of every punctuation mark, real or imaginary, ever conceived of

4.  Top 3 Reasons I Love Zombies! (Guest Post by Melissa MacVicar, author of EVER NEAR) - I expound my philosophy regarding how to win as Russia in Axis and Allies in a seventeen hour tour-de-force of video storytelling

3.  The 2013 Hundie Challenge #72: Angle of Repose - a touching eulogy for Prim (SPOILER ALERT!) of the Hunger Games fame

2.  The Quintessential BRAINEATER JONES Post - Samuel L. Jackson's bestselling spoken word version of "Peter and the Wolf"

And while I wish the BJ post would've taken the #1 slot, sadly it was displaced by:

1.  June Drabble Rodeo Entry: Payback - a single plum, floating in perfume, served in a man's hat
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