Guest Post with author Jeannie Zokan

In today’s guest post (I know it’s not Friday, shut up), I discovered a kindred spirit in Jeannie and her little black book of, well, books.


In the summer of 2004, I started keeping track of each book I read in a little notebook. I considered making an entry about the books, but decided to keep it simple and just note the title and author. If it turned into work, I wouldn’t do it. Now, this 3-inch notebook, stored in my bedside table, has become an interesting book in its own right.

For one thing, I’m amazed at how many self-help books I go through. And how many titles I immediately remember, like names of close friends. They evoke a vivid image of where I was when I read a certain passage or the conversation I had about it for book club. There were, however, some titles that didn’t leave an impression on me. What was Three Junes about again?

The eclectic nature of the list in my notebook surprises me. I make no sense, and maybe that’s why there are so many self-help books. But how can I consider Barbara Kingsolver’s Poisonwood Bible as one of my favorites books when I’ve read everything scifi writer Douglas Adams wrote? I can see the links to Dave Barry and Bill Bryson, but how to explain The Fault In Our Stars by John Green? Or Robert Pirsig’s Zen and the Art of Motorcycle Maintenance? Or Sophie Kinsella’s Confessions of a Shopaholic?

Of course, that’s the beauty of reading . The next book that finds its way onto my list doesn’t have to fit into a category. The heart wants what it wants, and I just enjoy the delicious journey a good book always provides.

And since I know you’re curious, a few of the self-help books on the list are How to Think Like Einstein, Style on a Shoestring, and The Top Ten Things Dead People Want to Tell You.

Happy Reading!


Jeannie Zokan’s debut novel, The Existence of Pity, was released in October 2016 by Red Adept Publishing.

You can follow her on Facebook:

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Her blog:

And her webpage:

Moar Prompts to Get You Writing

It’s Monday again, dolls. There’s a chill in the air, apples in my fruit bowl, pumpkin in my coffee, and an itch in my head to do some writing. I can feel you resisting, so here are some prompts to get you going. As always, check back here EVERY MONDAY for more prompts.


  1. Think of two unlikely heroes and pit them against one another.
  2. Write a poem about a dirty sock.
  3. What would the most popular spell in your spell book be?
  4. Watch a movie without the sound. Write your own dialogue.
  5. Write about a wicked stepmother.
  6. Now write a redemption story for her.
  7. Write the first like of a story titled: MR. LAWSON’S ANGER PIE.
  8. Describe the perfect day for apple picking.
  9. What would a candle made of earwax smell like?
  10. Describe the pet of a woman who owns three restaurants, all named after venereal diseases.

PLEASE share in the comments any of your favorite prompts or the fruits of your labor. Have a great week!

Guest Post with Stephen Kozeniewski

Happy Friday! This week, it’s Stephen Kozeniewski (author of BRAINEATER JONES and HUNTER OF THE DEAD) on the blog, chatting a bit about re-reading books.



There’s a lot of pearl-clutching these days about what kids won’t get to do that their parents got to do because, you know, every generation has to live identically to the generation before it or else society just, like, completely fucking breaks down.  Just like, you know, the Greatest Generation didn’t live the way their parents did and then the universe imploded in the ‘40s.  I don’t want this to be one of those posts, because those posts are universally stupid and no, I am not being hyperbolic, they are, to a one, completely and utterly moronic.
So this is more of an elegiac post than a condemnatory one.  But I do wonder if kids in the future will ever know what it’s like to have a battered, dog-eared copy of a book that they’ve read cover-to-cover a hundred times.  I mean, maybe they will.  I don’t know.  I don’t know what the future holds.  (Except that the next generation will condemn the one after that.)
But I was thinking about it the other day, and I can’t remember the last time I’ve re-read a book.  I mean, with the internet, there’s so much new content blasting my eyeholes every day I can’t even keep up with one tenth of one tenth of a percent of the stuff I’d actually like to keep abreast of, let alone have a broad knowledge base of the world.  I have to settle for reading a paragraph-long review of a video game I might like to play and hoping I get the gist because I just don’t have 80 hours to devote to playing it, but I want to be knowledgeable about games.  And hell, if I do play a game, then that’s like, six seasons of TV I didn’t blast through on Netflix.
It didn’t used to be this way.  I had magazines – magazines, for God’s sake – that I used to read through so many times that I can still picture the photographs in my mind.  Single issues of “Boy’s Life” and “Nintendo Power” that were just, like, all I had.  So every rainy Sunday or boring weekday afternoon I’d re-read them.  I read every “Warhammer” rulebook I owned more times than I ever played the game.
And then there was THE HITCH-HIKER’S GUIDE TO THE GALAXY.  I’d be lying if I said I haven’t read that entire series dozens, possibly hundreds of times.  In the tire swing.  In the treehouse.  At school between (and sometimes during) classes.  One night when the power went out and all we had were flashlights.  One night when my father wasn’t working for some reason and we all went out and got McDonald’s.  At my egg donor’s job on more than one occasion when I had to come in with her.
I mean, right now the thought of re-reading something is just so laughably out of the realm of possibility for me.  As I write this, I’m looking at four fat stacks of physical books that I own and ought to have read years ago.  That’s not even counting all the favors I owe in the form of books I should be reading that I just plain haven’t bought yet.  Or all the sorts of hints and dodges that I give people that sort of suggest I’ve maybe read their work while desperately hoping they never point blank ask.
Ingesting a book, grokking it, letting it become a part of you, that’s certainly a dead part of my life.  I don’t know if it’s the times (man) or just my age, or just me personally.  But I do wonder about kids.  I don’t know if they’ll have a HITCH-HIKER’S GUIDE (or whatever) the way I did.  Maybe all kids do.  Maybe they ingest books a hundred thousand times because that’s what you do when you’re a kid.  I don’t know if I even want them to.  Maybe it’s better not to do that, and to spend that time wisely broadening your horizons.  I mean, I didn’t.  Then again, I’m a frood who really knows where my towel is, so, you know, I guess it’s kind of a trade-off.

Something, Something Title Whatever

As I sit here tweaking the next draft of my latest MS, I can’t help but think that this is the THIRD book I’ve managed to write in two years.

I’m no James Patterson, but that’s a fuck ton of words.

And then I’m overwhelmed by this weird sadness.

I think, I’ve devoted so much time to this writing life–not just the two years of solid writing, but another 4 years of learning how to do it in the first place. I’ve poured so much of what I see as my identity into this title–WRITER–that the moment I deviate from the routine, or think for even a minute that I’d want to do something else with my day, I start to lose myself.

I get depressed.

I think, what if this isn’t what I’m supposed to do? What if I’m not good enough? What if this shit-shoveling I manage to do on a semi-daily basis is a waste of time?

It’s not. I know it’s not. At least, the lizard part of my brain knows it’s not. I always come around.

But sometimes…

Sometimes it’s harder than others.

Today. Today, it’s hard.

Do me a favor and write a few awesome words. Throw me some wordsmith karma.

Short Fiction Monday – Excerpt AND Contributions?

‘allo, dearies. 

Here is your short fiction fix on this lovely Presidents’ Day Monday. It’s like a double-whammy of shit, isn’t it? It’s Monday, AND you can’t go to the bank and get laundry money because they’ve closed for some obscure holiday that doesn’t really mean anything anymore. Never fear, Crunchy-Smooshy is here for you.

Excerpt from a yet-to-be-titled WIP:


There’s a formula for gauging phone calls before the other party has answered. One ring, and they’ve been waiting for something important that isn’t you. They’ve been staring at it, playing with it, willing it to ring. And then finally, FINALLY, it comes to life. It’s better to just hang up without introducing yourself, lest you send your own hide in for verbal slaughter. Four or five rings, and you’ve torn them away from something; dinner with the family, an engrossing novel, a homemade explosives project. Take these on a case by case basis. Women are more likely to turn you away than men, especially if you’re me. I’ve been told my voice is sultry when detailing the many uses of a telephone book.

Three rings, though, that’s the sweet spot.

This isn’t something they teach you when you answer an anonymous internet ad looking for people who wish to ‘work from home!’ ‘All you need is a computer and a telephone! It’s EZ!’ You learn by doing.

Three rings and they’ve been waiting for you to call. No, really, they have. It’s their day off and nothing interesting has presented itself as a suitable distraction. You are their distraction.

Don’t worry about selling, the anonymous emailer attached to the anonymous ad tells you. Just log your calls and collect your money.

Sometimes I don’t even market what I’m supposed to. The spreadsheet in my weekly email will call for entertainment magazine subscriptions; I sell them slippers made in the likeness of their favorite United States President. God bless America!

Sometimes, a girl just wants to have some fun.


I’d had a productive morning. One entry left on my daily spreadsheet, and it was just past two.

One ring. Two rings. Three rings.



“Good afternoon. Would you be so kind as to connect me with the matron of the home?”

I cradled the phone between my shoulder and ear while fingering a copy of Little Women. I’d finished reading it over lunch and was itching to try it out.

“Who’s calling, please?

Her voice was calm but reserved.

“Jo March, madam. I’m calling to invite you to participate in an unbelievable opportunity in literature.”

I wished Jo March had a British accent. I loved doing British.

Shuffling against the speaker on the opposite end. She was switching ears.

“Is this a joke?”

“Fiction is no joke, ma’am, unless of course you’re reading comedy. Then all of it is a joke! Unless it’s bad comedy, in which case it’s better used as kindling in my humble opin –“

“Just get to the point, please.”

“Yes, yes, of course. I am offering escape in the form of words. Penny Dreadfuls, specifically. For the cost of a typical novel you will receive five stories in which you are taken through perilous adventures, one after the other.”

I paused.


She’d hung up.

Unfortunate, since I hadn’t had the chance to tell her about the imaginary friend that accompanied every purchase.

Classic characters are always a risk.

I logged the call, sent my end-of-day email using an out-of-date but perfectly useable desktop computer, and considered my options for the rest of the afternoon.  



Would you like to contribute a story to short fiction Monday? Email me at 

Submissions are also STILL open for Asfixia. Send me ALL THE WORDS!