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."

Thursday, March 24, 2011

The Dark Side has seduced me

That's right, blogosphere chums, I have joined the Twittersphere. Twitterverse. East Twitter Co-Prosperity Sphere? Well, whatever it's called, here it is.

To be fair, you probably know this.  There's a link over on the right.  There's a feed down below.  I've even mentioned it in a previous post.  (What an incestuous link for me to use.)  So why bring it up again?  Well,

a)  Why aren't you following me yet, a-holes?, and,

b)  There's a mildly interesting story behind it. 

So, yes, there's a story behind this Twitter account beyond "I want a Twitter account!"  (Ironically, it's longer than 140 characters! Zing!) Here's the story.

I guess I had always been meaning to join Twitter, except that it sounded pretty flat out stupid.  140 characters?  First of all, I'm a punctuation Nazi.  I use commas and ellipses when I text, and that was true even before I had a keyboard on my phone.  I can't handle all the "2hot4u" bullshit and l33tspeak.  It's full-bore English sentences for me or nothing.  (Or nadsat.)  Whenever you hear about someone using Twitter, like Kanye West or Sarah Palin, they always sound like complete morons.  (Although that may be a function of other matters.)  Or they get fired, like Gilbert Gottfried.

So I had sort of vaguely intended to have a Twitter account, because it seemed like then at least I could be dialed in to what other people are saying, but it just seemed so prosaic and childish.  I made a sort of a pact with myself that I would only join if I had some kind of meaningful artistic reason for doing so (a la Shit My Dad Says or Mayor Emanuel.)  Something where 140 character posts would be a powerful storytelling tool and not an excuse to sound like a teenage girl.

So, years pass, and one of my friends posts on Facebook how she is upset that fortune cookies no longer contain fortunes, but, rather, sayings or lucky numbers or Chinese idioms, and that, damn it, she wanted a fortune.  So I gave her one, one that would almost certainly turn out to be true for her, me, and our entire circle of friends:

"You will be disappointed by your mostly pedestrian life."

And thus, a Twitter feed was born.  I realized that as a Twitter feed, realistic fortune cookie fortunes would be limited to about the length of a real fortune cookie.  And the field was wide open.  I looked around.  Couldn't find anybody else doing what I was doing.  I mulled over a few directions, like realistic fortune cookies, or middle class fortune cookies.  I settled on "Outrageous Fortunes" as a mildly punny name, but they still pretty much bear the wallowing misery of being in the middle class in modern America and having nothing to rely on but booze and memories of better times to get you through.  So, enjoy!

Friday, March 18, 2011

Writing 101

Boy, am I ever a sucker for contests, even though, to date, I've only won once, and it was not on the basis of skill. Here is a new contest from our newest follower, Perri.  I decided to enter an as yet sight-unseen excerpt from the rarely excerpted Ghoul Archipelago.  So go over to Lesser Apricots now to see it, or to enter your own first 101 words.  Or, better yet, don't.  Raises my chances of winning.

Wednesday, March 16, 2011

For your consideration...

I want to say something. I'm gonna put it out there; if you like it, you can take it, if you don't, send it right back. Go ahead and discuss in the comments section (if you've never commented before, now is your chance to shake the dust off the ol' keyboard and have your say.)

Talking to someone in a public restroom: cool, or not cool? Is it different whether you're a male or a female? Is it different whether you know the person or not? Is it different whether you're both in stalls or both in urinals or one is at one and one is at the other or someone is at the sink? Or both are at the sink?

Here's a sample scenario: you're a dude at the urinal and another dude you know sets up shop at the urinal next to you and he turns to you and starts talking about work or something. Uncomfortable? Or cool?


Monday, March 14, 2011

What's in a Name?

Yes, yes, I know, that's the most generic title ever. Must have been a title for an episode of every sitcom ever made. But, hey, what the hell, if the shoe fits, right? (Cliché alert! Ding ding ding!)

Anyway, all that aside...oh, no wait. I do want to make one more caveat. I don't TYPICALLY talk about politics on this blog, although it is my blog so I can talk about whatever the fuck I want. Then again, people will find a way to make EVERYTHING political, like for instance how the First Lady encouraging kids to exercise is a communist attempt to ban dessert. Yeah, I didn't actually make that one up. That's an actual thing. So, anyway, I don't consider the subject of this post to be PARTICULARLY political, but if you do, and you're offended, well, hey, now you know not to visit my other blog.

Anyway, after all that preamble, here's the real point of this discussion. I feel like a sad little person, but whenever I check out a news story on Yahoo I always find myself scrolling down to check the horrible little trollish comments that crop up on every subject. I mention Yahoo specifically because they both display their comments and seem to be the most egregious. MSN also has comments, but you have to click on them and they usually display a marginally higher level of literacy than the Yahoo ones. I suppose it could be worse, of course, but Yahoo sort of pretends to be a legitimate news site, so I've always been surprised by the frankly staggering level of vitriol here.

Anyway, in my utterly non-scientific analysis of Yahoo comments displayed at the exact time that I happen to click on various news stories, I've noticed a trend. I suspect this trend is much broader in the right-wing blogosphere, but I just can't bring myself to tunnel too far down into that rabbit hole. So the trend is this: not calling the president by his name. Most of them are kind of childish and not worth dwelling on (Obummer, for instance, being one of the least offensive examples of me, they get much worse.) But these don't bother me much. There were plenty of Bush = slang for vagina jokes when he was in office.

But there's also this whole thing about the president once being known as Barry Soetoro. So I gather that in the right wing world this is a BIG FUCKING DEAL (yes, that was a Biden joke, I'm an equal opportunity dick, ha ha!) I guess the president was raised by his stepfather whose name was Soetoro, and when he was a kid he went by Barry, so there were probably times, especially in Indonesia, when he would have gone by the name Barry Soetoro.

I guess this all kind of serves as "proof" for the birther movement that the president isn't who he says he is and some random kid who was born in Kenya took the name of a dead baby in Hawaii or whatever the hell it is that they think happened. Anyway, long story short, this strikes me as particularly stupid because the same thing happened to me for instance. My father and I share the same first name but different middle names, so while I'm not a junior when I was growing up I went by a different name from my father. Everyone called me "Stephen" and my father "Steve" to differentiate between us. Now that I'm an adult I go by "Steve" since it's not really an issue if someone calls the house and wants to talk to pere rather than fils.

So, by birther logic I'm trying to hide something because I go by a different name than I did when I was a child. To be frank, though, I may not be a good example, but this very concept is extremely common in my circle of friends. Just off the top of my head I can think of half a dozen. I have a friend who I've always called "Stewart" but whose family calls him "Russell." Him and his father are both Russell Stewart X, but in a reversal of my circumstances he and his father shared a name in the house and went by different names in public. I had another friend in the same situation who was Todd to his 'rents and Steven to us.

Or, here's a slightly more interesting one. I knew a kid of Uruguyan extraction whose name was spelled M-A-R-T-I-N but pronounced (properly, I believe) as "Marteen." So, since we had all known him for the better part of a decade we called him "Marteen." But in classes, when all the teachers had to go by when meeting him was a sign-in roster, he let them call him "Martin" to avoid confusion. Now some day if that young man becomes presidents, people are going to start questioning his morality.

One of my wife's friends was adopted by his stepfather when he was a few years old. So he already had last name Y, had always gone by last name Y, when he became a member of the X family. He could have changed his last name to X, no one would have blame him, but he kept it Y because it was his name. The Xs are his family, through and through. Does anyone question why he has a different name, knowing this story? No, not really. Or, if he had changed his name to Y, would anyone question that discrepancy as a moral issue? Maybe only if you're elected president.

So, my point is, a lot of very ordinary people change their monikers from youth to adulthood, because, in a lot of ways, that's part of the transition to adulthood. Do a lot of people get called just "Junior" when they're adults? Or, if you were DJ (short for Daniel, Junior) when you were a kid, maybe you go by Dan now? I won't even bother going into how, you know, John Wayne and Elton John weren't born with those names, since I assume no one's going to question a stage name.

So, it really comes down to these two points:

a) Who give a shit if the president went by something different until he was twelve? You probably did, too, unless people still call you Bucky.

b) Assuming there really was some kind of plot to cover up the president's past, wouldn't it make ten times as much sense to stick with Barry, which is a rather generic and inoffensive regular "American" name than to change it to Barack, which is the decidedly more ethnic name that calls attention to his heritage? Seems like he was straightforward about it and just being true to who he was, whereas when he was a child he was probably a little more sensitive about having a *shudder* ethnic name.

Friday, March 11, 2011

Corrections (With Apologies to Jonathan Franzen)

In our mad pursuit of the scoop, we members of the press sometimes...make mistakes. "Manuscripts Burn" would like to make the following corrections:

-In our Wednesday, March 9, 2011 blog posting we erroneously described the nations set-upon NFL players as the, quote, "most put-upon" people in the country. In fact, it became clear yesterday who the real most put-upon person in the country is. We apologize for misrepresenting the facts, and obviously strongly support this upstanding and slandered-against gentleman receiving 1/10th of a billion dollars for all the suffering he has been through. Wisconsin's teachers can go straight to Hell.

-Bunnies, not groundhogs as previously alluded to, are the REAL world's most dangerous game. QED.

By way of apology, we here at Manuscripts Burn offer this:

Wednesday, March 9, 2011

Things Are Tough All Over (NFL Player's version)

With a potential strike looming, I think all eyes are right now on one of the proudest and most put-upon unions in the country: the NFL Player's Union. With belt-tightening going on all over the country, I'd like to offer these helpful tips to help those poor, hapless players get through the next few months in case negotiations fall through.

10. Consider replacing the beluga caviar wading pool with a less expensive sturgeon caviar wading pool. Don't skimp on the toast points, and your thousands of guests will scarcely notice the difference.

9. Next time you have your chandelier detailed, hire an illegal immigrant to do the work. You won't have to pay taxes, minimum wage, benefits, or insurance. And if he gets hurt on the job, there's always the Emergency Room, and that's free!

8. Do you really need two matching Hummers, one cherry and one avocado? Oh, all right, I'll give you this one, go ahead and get the two Hummers.

7. Instead of wasting your time (and hard earned cash!) wining and dining potential bed partners, simply look for the members of the feminine persuasion with the letters "DTF" written on their chest. This indicates that they're open to sleeping with you, possibly for free!

6. Limit your entourage. There's no need to have 8-12 agents, publicists, marketing coordinators, and hangers-on. 6-7 should be more than sufficient, especially if you ask them to multi-task.

5. Remember, if worse comes to worst, you can always un-retire. Again and again and again and again and again.

4. With the rising price of jet fuel, you can always cut corners by renting out your private plane for sweet 16 parties and the like.

3. Consider limiting your dogfighting arena to more affordable breeds, like border collies and labradors. Also, when making a determination which dogs should be drowned, consider drowning the mutts BEFORE the purebreds.

2. Invest in gold. Gold's value has never been higher, and it has never been worth zero.

1. If it really comes down to dire straits, you could always sell your autograph to the young fans who cherish and believe in you. Oh, my mistake, you're already doing that. Good job, fiscal pro!

Wednesday, March 2, 2011

An interesting little contest...

...And I do mean "little" in the sense of diminutive, not in any demeaning way. So here Ms. Chanelle Gray announces a Twitter-sized contest, so a pitch in 140 characters, which is how long (theoretically) your elevator pitch should be. (Not your query and not your synopsis and...gah, it's complicated. If you meet an agent or a publisher in an elevator, you're supposed to be able to hook them in, I think it's 11 seconds. Because no one has an attention span longer than that anymore. Because of Twitter. Hmm. How cyclical. Like the Skeksis and the Mystics.)

Anyhoot, I wasn't going to enter this contest because it seemed that I had heard about it too late, based on the initial requirement that we had to somehow (magically?) post a blog link before the contest began. But, luckily, there are very few fey left in the world, and most of those aren't querying authors, and the ones that are can just use "charm person" on their agents anyway, so Ms. Gray kindly rescinded the ex post facto requirement here.

So, why does this affect you? Well, first of all, as you may have gathered, your favorite blog-o-teer has recently joined the dark side and begun "twatting" I think it's called. (More on that later.) Second, what are you a moron? It's a writing contest. Jesus, do I have to draw you people a map? Enter it. Or, actually, on second thought, don't. Raises my probability of winning. Yes, in fact, don't enter it.

Anyway, wondering what brilliant work in progress your beloved MC is going to be entering? You have, in fact, seen portions of it on this blog before, and more importantly this brilliant bit of artwork, from (fake) in-house artist, Greg. Oh, that's right, kids. The second-most high concept idea in history is getting the Twitter treatment. Curses! If only Snakes on a Plane wasn't already taken.
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