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."

Monday, July 16, 2018

New Release Announcement: BILLY AND THE CLONEASAURUS (Author's Preferred Edition)

Hey everybody!  I'm very pleased to announce the release of the Author's Preferred Edition of BILLY AND THE CLONEASAURUS.

I hope you'll consider grabbing a copy.  As an independent author, I live or die by word-of-mouth, so I also hope you'll consider sharing the good news on social media, or even just tell a friend.

Here are the answers to some questions you may have:

Where is this available?

You can purchase it in paperback through Amazon.

It's also available in ebook format through AmazonBarnes and NobleKoboGoogle Play, and iTunes.

The audiobook (narrated by Steve Rimpici) is also available via AmazonAudible, and iTunes

Is this new edition really any different from the first edition?

Are you kidding me?  Just check out that brand new artwork by Natasha Tara Petrovic!

But that's not all.  With this release I was able to spread my availability to various other publishing platforms, such as iTunes and Google Play, where BILLY has never been available before.

The paperback has been reformatted with new fonts and interstitial art as well as cleaner, crisper formatting.  I've also made edits, including a really major goof which, no, I'm not going to tell you about.

But you want more content?  You got it.  I've also included a new afterword, which is an essay about my thoughts on BILLY, life, the army, and "The Simpsons."

So, in short, new content, a new look, available more places, and all for less money.  What more could a reader ask for?

Who published this new edition?

This time it was all me.  I've created a new personal imprint, French Press.  Natasha also created our lovely logo.  Based on how well sales of BILLY go, and its sister title THE GHOUL ARCHIPELAGO, you may be seeing more of my books published through this imprint as my rights gradually revert.  And if sales are very good, you may also start seeing original, never-before-seen content from French Press.  As always, watch this space!

What prompted the change to self-publishing?  Have you given up on your agent and small press relationships?

Nothing bad happened at all.  In fact, Severed Press, the original publisher of this title, has treated me with nothing but kindness and respect over the years, up until the moment they reverted my rights to me for this title rather than let it fall out of print.  For the record, that's exactly how a good publishing house is supposed to behave.

I'm still working with my agent to bring some books to bookstores through some New York Big 5 publishers.  But for the horror and science fiction in my back catalog she's happy to let me continue to run my own affairs.  So there will still be small presses and some self-published titles in the future.  You can always stay up to date by following this blog or joining my mailing list.

Friday, July 13, 2018

A Note on Why I've Been so Useless Lately

Hey, everybody!

I usually try to be pretty transparent with things online.  I know that's maybe not the best thing when you're trying to cultivate an image, but in my experience I've found that people recognize integrity and appreciate it.

So I haven't been living up to my previously stated desire to keep on top of this blog this year.  I certainly don't want a repeat of last year, but I'm clearly not back to my trop blogging trim yet, either.  I've been feeling like I've been swimming through molasses lately, and I couldn't quite attribute why.  There hasn't really been a change in my life circumstances lately.

Then, last week, I had dinner with my good friend and occasional convention partner Elizabeth Corrigan.  She asked me why I'd been so stressed lately, and I just started talking, and then, before I knew it, appetizers, dinner, and dessert had all disappeared and I was still speaking.  I looked up from the Tower of Power chococlate cake (a tower it was not, I assure you, but I also don't like patronizing the restaurant we had happened to be patronizing that evening, so I won't mention which one it was) and I said, "Wow, that actually sounds like a lot when I say it all out loud."

Elizabeth nodded and said, "Yeah.  You don't have to feel bad about being stressed."

So.  Let me try to give you a brief(er) recap of that discussion.  It may not make for the greatest blogpost, but at least it'll stand as an explanation for why you haven't been getting better blogposts from me lately.

1.)  Brian Keene's Injury

As you know (hopefully) my mentor and good friend Brian Keene was badly injured in an accident last month.  (You can still help out by visiting the GoFundMe if you so desire.)  Brian called me on what he thought was his deathbed to set up that GoFundMe.  He later explained that he had been hoping to give me a test run as the exectuor of his literary estate.  Well, let me tell you: I have now tasted the merest glimpse of what that's like.

I fielded probably a few hundred texts, e-mails, and PMs regarding Brian's condition in those first few days.  I had essentially positioned myself as the go-between between the general public and the Keene estate, and boy was that exhausting.  But not the general public.  For the most part, Brian's friends who were actual friends knew well enough to leave him alone and bother me instead.  And there was only so much I could say because a) I didn't know that much b) privacy and c) public relations.  So it was like a double barrelled shotgun to the face of actual publicity management.

But all that was just a small portion of the stress.  The real stress was not knowing what was going to happen to my friend, and if he would be all right, or if his minor son would grow up fatherless.  As a pleasant coda to this story, I did visit Brian last week and he's back to behaving normally, if perhaps reduced to a half-day schedule for a while until he regains his strength.

2.)  Shore Leave

I've only mentioned it once or twice, but I volunteer to organize the Shore Leave author programming.  Under the best of circumstances trying to organize 35-odd programming hours with 60-odd participants can be trying.  This year we had a rather abbreviated timeline, and I had to put the whole thing together in one month.  That month just so happened to be June, just a few days before Brian's injury.  So that double-barrelled shotgun of publicity management...well, is there even such a thing as a triple-barrelled shotgun?

3.)  Windows 10

A few of you federal employees are already groaning just at that title chyron.  At my day job, the Windows 10 upgrade was, shall we say, pushed a bit prematurely.  My upgrade came on a Wednesday, which put me out of work for two whole days.  That Friday my computer finally seemed to be working.  Not so bad, eh?  Oh, just you wait, dear reader.  Just you wait.

The next Monday I came in to a blue screen of death.  It turned out that the Windows 10 upgrade had brought with it an irreparable bug.  I turned my computer in and learned that it would not be returned to me for a week.  An entire week of lost work.  Pretty bad, eh?  Oh, just you wait, dear reader.  Just you wait.

Tuesday I came in to absolute pandemonium.  The bug had been pushed out to no less than 200 users in our enterprise.  I'm surprised the whole fucking Navy didn't just come screeching to a halt.  All of the loaner computers were gone, as were all of the computers of employees who were on leave.  I had made the mistake on Tuesday of using a leave employee's computer and assuming I would be able to grab it again the next day.  Nope, all that shit was claimed.

I managed to finagle a highly unfeasible computer sharing system with a co-worker since we worked largely different schedules.  It would suck, but it was only supposed to be a week, right?



...later... computer finally came back.  And they had wiped it clean anyway.  So I lost two months of unbacked up files, along with five weeks of marking time.  And my computer finally came back in June.  A few days after finding out about Shore Leave.  And a few days after Brian's accident.  So I had to spend the rest of the month attempting to patch together thirteen-odd weeks of lost work.

4.)  Family Obligation after Obligation after Obligation

At this point, this is just frosting on the Tower of Power cake, but I made the mistake of proposing Atlantic City to my family for Father's Day.  That's a three hour ride out and back for me.  So that was an entire lost day.  The next week was the graduation of one of my cousins.  That time, I decided to go to Philadelphia for a whole weekened in order to break up the two hour drive into more manageable segments.  It was less stressful, but still amounted to a lost weekend for writing purposes.  Then the week after that was another cousin's wedding, which necessitated another day of driving to Philadelphia and back.  Looking back on it, I have no idea why I agreed to all three events.  Except, perhaps, that I hadn't yet been slammed by the computer loss, the Shore Leave schedule, and Brian's injury.


So, the upshot is, having had that discussion with Elizabeth made me realize that perhaps this had been a singularly stressful month, and not that I was appreciably losing control of my life and career.  So, while there will surely still be some stumbling blocks ahead, I'm hoping to get my head screwed back on straight and get back to bringing you as much quality program as you can stomach here on Manuscripts Burn.  See you Monday, everybody!

Wednesday, July 11, 2018

A Thought Exercise on Russia

Here are some things we know:

- America is not a conservative-leaning country.  Conservatives constitute about a third of the country.  Support for progressive ideals like gay marriage and universal health care actually make up majorities of the country.  By population nearly three million more voters in the last election were progressive than conservative - they just happened to live in the wrong states.

- The seemingly overwhelming power of conservatism in this country is institutional.  That is, conservatives have won state houses and gerrymandered their districts, denied judicial appointments during Democratic administrations and then quickly packed them in under Republicans, and so forth.  Much of it is crooked, but some of it is also not crooked, just throwbacks from an era when conservatives had great power and reformed instutions to enshrine that power.  For instance: the electoral college, which favors rural voters over urban.

- Russia had a hand in getting Donald Trump elected president in 2016.  Possibly they hacked voting-adjacent systems like registration rolls and the like.  It's supposedly impossible to hack actual voting systems, but that hardly matters if, say, a vote-counting system is hacked, or someone is not allowed to vote because the registration system was hacked.  But let's say, for the sake of argument, they didn't influence anything directly.  We know with near certitude that the Russian government launched a disinformation campain to help Trump win.  A reasonable person can assume Russia desired a Trump win.

Here's a question, though.  Why did Russia want Trump to win?

Let's take a departure from orthodoxy.  The general assumption, at least among liberals and progressives, is that Russia wanted Trump in charge because Trump is a stooge who would favor Russia.  Certainly his behavior doesn't belie that fact, which makes it seem like a stronger conclusion.  Rescinding our sanctions against Russia and consistently praising Putin seems like a fruit basket sent from the winner of a prize to his greatest patron.

But let's be real.  Russia didn't organize a massive disinformation campaign and possibly more in order to receive a fruit basket.  They did it for geopolitical reasons.  And having a compliant stooge in the White House, while useful, is not exactly a grand slam.  In a Third World dictatorship, sure, that's all you have to do.  In a system with free elections and institutional checks and balances, it's just a start.

Let's consider another unfortunate fact:

- Russia is almost certainly going to interfere in the 2018 mid-terms.  And we have done literally nothing to shore up our election systems against this.  It has been entirely in this administration's interests to pretend like nothing happened, and therefore, nothing to fix it has happened.

So back to my departure from orthodoxy.  Putting a stooge in the White House is a great first step, but it's only a first step, in any overarching Russian plan.  My suspicion is that Putin isn't interested in having a buffoon in charge of the U.S. because he's compliant and he'll do what Putin wants.  Because no matter how compliant Trump may subconsciously be, or even consciously desire to be, even if he disregards every democratic norm (what a shock that would be, eh?) at a minimum popular pressure from his supporters would prevent him from cavorting through the flowers arm-in-arm with Putin.  The GOP has always been hawkish about Russia, and as recently as 2012 their presidential candidate declared Russia the greatest geopolitical threat in the world.  (Funny, isn't it, that one way to defang such a hawkish party would be to put a pro-Russia clown like Trump in charge - but don't try to tell them they're being led by the nose.)

No, My suspicion is that Putin wants to knock the U.S. out of its role as a global leader.  Or at least lift the pressure that having the U.S. in such a role produces on Russian desires, i.e. invading Crimea.  I'm trying not to use apocalyptic, sky-is-falling language here, but to be blunt, the goal is not to make America compliant, it's to cripple America.  

Just my thought, anyway.  I have no proof except logic.

So here's the next question: if the goal is to cripple America, not to bend it to Russia's will as everybody seems to think, what's the next step in the plan?  Surely Russia didn't say, "Hey, let's meddle in 2016 and then never do it again."  In fact, they likely said, "Shit, it worked so well in 2016 let's keep doing it as long as we can get away with it!"  

Orthodoxy seems to think that they'll shore up Trump's win by packing Congress with Republicans.  And while I, as a leftist, think that Republican rule in and of itself is destructive and disruptive, and most on the left have come to the same conclusion, I think it's an erroneous one.  Russians aren't blinded by American ideological proclivities.  Remember: if I'm right, all Russia cares about is sowing chaos and leaving America gazing so deeply into its own navel that it trips over its own feet.

So the question is, what would cause the most chaos next?  Well, shit, son, not a Republican congress.  A Democratic congress.  If the Democrats were in charge, they would start leveling all sorts of charges at Trump.  And they wouldn't get any laws passed, and it wouldn't matter, because any laws they got passed Trump would feel honor-bound to veto.  (Well, except that he has no sense of honor, but I can't think of a better word except spite.  So, spite-bound, maybe.)

With Trump in the White House and the self-proclaimed Resistance in the Dome, business in Washington would grind to an absolute halt.  The gridlock of the last decade and a half would seem like a fucking eight-lane super highway by comparison.  America would be unable to do a whole lot of anything.  With its leader constantly in court and under siege, he sure as shit wouldn't be weighing in on any moves in Azerbaijan or Turkmenistan.

Meanwhile, the left would be eating it up with a spoon.  We'd be cheering so triumphantly at every trial and tribulation of that orange-haired fucknut that we probably wouldn't even notice that our influence on the world stage was waning into a starved, Gollum-like shadow of its former self.  Europe and Asia would be houses with the guard dog chasing its own tail.  Sure, Russia would still have to contend with China and Germany, but without American interests being defended, all of that would go a lot more smoothly.

It's my expectation that the Democrats will win big in November.  Not just big, but 'uge.  'Uge enough to start rasslin' with the Executive Branch and turn the whole country into a big WWE arena.  And while everybody's watching the show in the amphitheater, the Russians will just be sneaking across the street and knocking over as many gas stations as they can get away with.

Or maybe then, purely in their own self-interest, conservatives will get interested in foreign meddling in our democracy.  Maybe they'll stand shamefaced and admit that while it was temporarily in their favor, they never should have sold out to Russia.  Maybe they'll change their tune, start deciding that we need to shore up all of our 18th century voting methodologies, and work towards a more perfect, democratic system.

Yeah fucking right.  It'll be the rasslin' match thing.

Monday, July 9, 2018

New Release Announcement: THE GHOUL ARCHIPELAGO (Author's Preferred Edition)

Hey everybody!  I'm very pleased to announce the release of the Author's Preferred Edition of THE GHOUL ARCHIPELAGO!

I hope you'll consider grabbing a copy.  As an independent author, I live or die by word-of-mouth, so I also hope you'll consider sharing the good news on social media, or even just tell a friend.

Here are the answers to some questions you may have:

Where can I get it?

You can purchase it in paperback through Amazon.

It's also available in ebook format through AmazonBarnes and NobleKoboGoogle Play, and iTunes.

The audiobook (narrated by Jennifer Fournier) is also available through AmazonAudible, and iTunes.

What's so great about the Author's Preferred Edition anyway?

In addition to the new cover art by Chris Enterline, this new edition includes seven black and white illustrations by Ashley Powers.

As if all that wasn't enough, I've also included a character interview with deranged industrialist Rand Bergeron.

This release also allowed me to publish to multiple new platforms, such as Kobo and Barnes and Noble, where this novel was never available before.

And since I'm now in charge of pricing and formatting, I've been able to do all this for a lower price than THE GHOUL ARCHIPELAGO was ever available before.

I've also made edits (lots of thanks to the audiobook narrator, Jennifer Fournier, for identifying most of those) and reformatted the book with new margins, fonts, and chapter breaks, all the nerdy stuff only real book aficionados would care about.

So, to recap: new prose, new artwork, it looks better, it's on more platforms, oh, yeah, and it's cheaper now, too.

So is this published through a new house or what?

Nope, this is my first foray into self-publishing.  I'm publishing under my new personal imprint, French Press.  I've long joked about founding a Kozeniewski Basement Press, but at the end of the day, the purpose of a personal imprint is to add the appearance of legitimacy to a self-publishing project, so I just couldn't do it.  Since this is self published, I can now charge less and earn more from each of your purchases.

Wait, but why are you doing this?  Did you have some kind of falling out with your publisher or something?

Nope.  My relationship with Severed Press remains rock solid and I fully intend to publish with them in the future.  Most contracts are only signed for a finite period, in this case, five years.  Our contract period was almost up and sales were not great, so Severed very kindly offered all of my rights back early so I could seek another publisher or self-publish as desired to keep it from going out of print.  (For those keeping track at home, this is exactly the way a good publisher is supposed to behave.)

Wednesday, July 4, 2018

Shore Leave or Bust!

Hey, everybody!  Hope you're having a wonderful Independence Day.

This weekend (July 6th & 7th) I'll be appearing at Shore Leave in Baltimore, MD, for the fourth year in a row.  I'm also a volunteer there as I organize the author's track panels.  This year all of my panels are on Friday and Saturday (I wonder how that happened...) so I will not, repeat will not, be at the convention on Sunday.

The location is:

Delta by Marriott
245 Shawan Rd.
Hunt Valley, MD 21031

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I will be on the following panels and will have books for sale before and after panels (and during the meet and greets), but will not have a table in the dealer's room:

Friday 5:00 pm - Salon F - End at the Beginning
Friday 10:00 pm - Hunt Valley Hallway - Meet the Pros
Saturday 12 noon - Salon E - Star Trek Adventures RPG (M)
Saturday 1:00 pm - Salon F - Bring Your Own Book
Saturday 4:00 pm - Salon F - Let's Put Them on Ice
Saturday 6:00 pm - Frankie and Vinnie's - Author Meet N Greet

Hope to see you there!
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