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 3, 2015

"R" is for "Red"

I'm a pretty heavy-ass drinker.  (In fact, I'm drinking right now.)  If you thought all the wacky drunkennness of BRAINEATER JONES was some kind of wish fulfillment, rest assured, that's pretty much my life, sans all the having a biological necessity for drinking.  Pretty much every time Jones was taking a drink in the book I was also reaching for a drink.

No surprise, then, that on Saturday nights I really like to tie one on.  No normal weekday drinking for me!  Saturday is when I can really get sloshed, sit down, and watch DVDs until the wee hours of the morning.  Because fuck it, Sunday will attend to itself.

But what if I told you that one time Sunday did not, in fact, attend to itself?

I remember the day distinctly.  It was January...9, I think?...2013.  I guess I don't remember the date that specifically.  But I do remember the morning well!  I rarely get phone calls just as a general rule.  And I can't even think of how many times I've gotten a phone call on a Sunday morning before noon.  In fact, this may have been the first time now that I think about it.

I fumbled for my phone.


My mouth felt like paper.

"Hello is this Stephen?"


"This is Lynn from Red Adept Publishing."


I didn't understand what was going on.  But I knew how hungover I was.  I had to try to get some water into my mouth from the bathroom sink while I was talking to this person.

"I'm calling because we've accepted your manuscript."

Well, now isn't that a better reason for a Sunday morning call than anything else?  I hoped I didn't sound like a complete lush, but I was rather a lot happier for the rest of the day.  My first novel was going to be published.  I guess it's a moment you never forget.  I wish I hadn't been hungover for it, but I guess that's appropriate for the birth of BRAINEATER.

Red Adept has turned out to be a boon in my life.  If there's one thing I've learned - if there's one thing I wish I could impart on younger writers, much as I despise writing advice - authors are a tribe.  You don't really get a pass to join the tribe just by becoming published.  But once you are you can start reaching out.  It's amazing what kind of doors the ability to say, "Here's my book" will open for you.

Red Adept came with a tribe pre-baked in.  Lynn, the owner, the same lady who made that call to me that fateful Sunday morning, insisted upon it.  We all had to join the RAP Authors FB group.  I'd never been in a writing group before.  For one thing the whole idea stinks of desperation to me: unpublished authors jerking one another off in a circle and getting jealous if one of them makes it.  To be quite honest I had never sought one out, even with the advent of the internet or advice to the contrary.  Writing was never really a team sport to me.

The RAP group changed my mind.  Well, maybe it was a bit different from my preconceived notion of a writers group, because we had all been accepted for publication.  But having a safe space to interact with other authors, where you don't have to bore the piss out of ordinary bystanders because (repeat it with me now) WRITECRAFT IS BORING was actually quite nice.  And we dug into marketing schemes and things like planning to do cons together.  And now I've met members of my tribe IRL and some still just online, but anyway I've started cheering them on.

And I learned another important truth about this business, one which had perhaps never occurred to me before, which is that this isn't a competition.  Writing isn't a zero sum game and no reader buys just one book.  When one of the members of the tribe has success, the whole tribe is elevated as a result.  One person's success improves the image of the group, and by interacting with one another you become part of a group of successful people, and that (hopefully) leads to success yourself.  I've had so many doors open to me because of the authors I met through RAP that I couldn't even really begin to adequately list them here.

Well, that went off a bit from what, if anything, I initially meant to say, but there you have it.  "R" is for "Red Adept," my first publisher, home to my best mates and peers in the business.  Ten years from now I wonder where we'll be.  Some of us will be long done with the whole writing thing, a fluke or a life goal long since given up on.  Others of us, I have no doubt, will be unicorns, living off our work.  I hope I'm not still in the trenches, but I imagine I will be.  Will some of us be dead?  Have movies made of our work?  Go quite mad?  Have t-shirts with our faces on them?  Time will tell, I suppose.

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