"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, November 29, 2019
Hey everyone, Jess here. I hope you all had a nice Thanksgiving and that the sewer system at your house is working well.
Now that the holiday shopping season has officially kicked off, I just wanted to remind you that tomorrow is Small Business Saturday. In case you don't know, that's an unofficial holiday a lot of folks like me and Koz like to nudge people in the direction of shopping from mom & pop shops, family owned franchises, and independent sellers; like us authors.
Authors have it tough when it comes to marketing. We have to take advantage of word of mouth and reviews to really get our books sold. So we ask this Saturday, that you consider forgoing the big book stores and Amazon, and purchasing a book or five from your favorite authors personally. Many of us have boxes of books at our house that we are more than happy to autograph and ship to you.
You can contact Koz (and me!) on Facebook or Twitter to get a copy directly. Of course, we aren't going to complain if you buy something from us on Amazon, but remember, we get far less profit out of it.
Consider shopping small for all your holiday needs, and help out your neighbors instead of the big corporations. It's very much appreciated by us little guys!
Happy holidays to you all!
Monday, November 18, 2019
Announcing THE BIG BOOK OF BLASPHEMY, featuring Stephen Kozeniewski, credited as 'And many more', for some odd reason.
If you're religious, look no further - this is not the book for you. The Big Book of Blasphemy is just what the name says: BIG. With 30 stories from today's best extreme horror writers, no one and nothing is sacred. These stories take on everything from goddesses to paleros to priests to saints and sinners, angels, demons, devils, and even pizza. From wretched pasts to dystopian futures, these tales explore a range of topics, religions, and blasphemies. The stories in this book range from serious to humorous, loud to quiet; there's a sacrilege for everyone.
Avaliable on Amazon, so check it out now. I think this one would be an especially good ironic gift for all these religious holidays coming up. We here at 'Manuscripts Burn' are not responsible for any family fights breaking out over the gifting of this book.
Friday, November 15, 2019
I've been a writer for many years, and I've got a little experience under my belt, but I've learned a few more things about the trade since working for Stephen. There is a lot of time-consuming, mind-numbing work involved with promoting yourself as an author, but if it's done right, the benefits are worth the hassle. Here are a few nuggets of wisdom I've accumulated over the last few months:
1.) Reviewers are finicky creatures!
Most of my time is spent searching through list of potential reviewers for Stephen's work. Aside from some of the odd or particular requirements some have for even contacting them, a lot of them have a hefty list of 'yes' and 'no' requirements for any book they are sent. A few reviewers who have themselves listed as Horror reviewers will also reject certain genres of horror, like Splatterpunk. You have to read a lot of fine print and do a lot of overhauling on your general request letter to get their attention. Treat each reviewer like they're the only one.
2.) Social Media is exhausting, yet crucial.
Since I've now been given the keys to the city -- Stephen's social media page, I've realized there is a lot to keep up on. To keep people following you and gain more visitors, you have to keep it interesting. On Stephen's page we do random questions to engage the followers, and we share every instance of his existence online in the form of blogs, interviews, etc., so people know he still exists and is still releasing stuff.
3.) Fucking Blogs!
Oh man, that is the hardest part for me. As a writer myself, I should have no problem busting out blogs, but I do. After a while, I have a hard time coming up with subject material. This is where Stephen shines. He's able to consistently keep his blog running by sharing videos, articles, and interviews, as well as his own meandering thoughts on subjects. I have found that writers who maintain blogs in between their publishing projects can keep their audience interested longer.
4.) Public events are great even if you don't make money.
Every creator should be booking and attending as many events as possible. Whether it's a small book store signing, or a huge comic con, you should be trying to get out among the human beings whenever possible. Even if you don't make back your table fees, the connections you make with potential fans and networking with other creators can be extremely rewarding. I have countless new friends and have found out about tons of new venues over the years because I get out there as much as my schedule and wallet allow me.
5.) Write for yourself and be your own biggest fan.
This is the big one. I've always lived by the policy that if I write what I want to read, others are bound to want to read it to. You need to be your own biggest fan (and critic!) in order for anyone else to believe in you. Remember, even if you don't ever make it big, as long as one person is reading your work, you are legit. That one person can be you.
Do you have anything to add? Comment below!
Monday, November 11, 2019
1. What literary pilgrimages have you gone on?
I've been to the Herman Hesse statue in Düsseldorf. I've been to Edgar Allan Poe's apartment in Philadelphia (apparently it was a brief tenure there.)
2. What is the first book that made you cry?
Probably MOSTLY HARMLESS.
3. What is the most unethical practice in the publishing industry?
Well, there are a lot. Probably publishers not paying contracted payments and Kickstarter owners never delivering their product. But there's also sexual and racial harrassment. I don't know. It's hard to say.
4. Does writing energize or exhaust you?
Sometimes A, sometimes B. It varies day to day.
5. What are common traps for aspiring writers?
I think the main thing is believing your book is your baby. Your first book's not going to be perfect, so don't obsess over it until you think it is. Write five or six books instead. Similarly don't be shocked if your first book doesn't get all the attention. Maybe it'll be your twentieth. Just keep at it.
6. Does a big ego help or hurt writers?
It's a prerequisite to feel like your thoughts are important enough for other people to want to read. It's only a problem if your big ego isn't accompanied by a crippling sense of self-doubt, which makes you constantly strive for perfection. I think both elements are necessary for good writers.
7. What is your writing Kryptonite?
Almost anything. TV, video games. It's all so alluring.
8. Have you ever gotten reader’s block?
Oh, sure. Sometimes I have to slug through a book for months because I keep putting it down.
9. Did you ever consider writing under a pseudonym?
Are you kidding me? With this ridiculous name? I assumed it would be mandatory. Strangely enough, my first publisher talked me out of it. She said if she were writing something she'd want it under her own name. So I said what the fuck.
10. Do you try more to be original or to deliver to readers what they want?
I don't really care if the reader gets what they want. The characters need to be well served. If that makes work original, so be it.
11. Do you think someone could be a writer if they don’t feel emotions strongly?
Well, I don't, if that makes a difference. One symptom of my PTSD is a flat affect, aka I don't feel great highs and lows, just the consistently creamy middle. So hopefully not.
12. What other authors are you friends with, and how do they help you become a better writer?
My collaborators Wile E. Young, Stevie Kopas, and John Urbancik obviously all help me improve my work. I also regularly commiserate with Mary Fan, Elizabeth Corrigan, Kimberly G. Giarratano, and a bevy of others. I like to think of all authors as my friend. Except that one dickhead. He can sit and spin.
13. Do you want each book to stand on its own, or are you trying to build a body of work with connections between each book?
I'm not trying to do a DARK TOWER kind of thing. Basically each book is its own thing. But I have pondered how a few small hints in each book could connect them if it ever becomes necessary. In some cases I think it's impossible. For instance, it would be very difficult for THE GHOUL ARCHIPELAGO future and the EVERY KINGDOM DIVIDED future to co-exist.
14. If you could tell your younger writing self anything, what would it be?
Start publishing in the '90s, you yutz! Don't wait until you're out of college and the army! The boom times are ending!
15. How did publishing your first book change your process of writing?
It didn't really change my writing process, but it did significantly change my publishing process. Once you have work out there, selling the second, third, and fourth pieces become significantly easier. It's sort of like when you're putting together a piece of IKEA furniture with four wheels. Wheel one is a pain in the ass. Then by the time you've done wheel four, you're like "I'm the boss now. Why aren't there more wheels?"
16. What was the best money you ever spent as a writer?
Hiring my PA.
17. What authors did you dislike at first but grew into?
Oh, I dunno. I don't usually revisit authors if they don't catch me with the first book.
18. What did you do with your first advance?
I'll let you know when I get one.
19. What was an early experience where you learned that language had power?
One of my favorite lines is in LIFE, THE UNIVERSE, AND EVERYTHING. Adams says "the ship hung in the sky much the way a brick doesn't." I often use that as an example of what novels can do that no other medium can, that sheer indulgence of language.
20. What are the most important magazines for writers to subscribe to?
Eh. A subscription to Publisher's Weekly would probably be useful since there are markets and agents you can only read about if you havea subscription. But most things can be found online for free with a little digging.
21. What’s your favorite under-appreciated novel?
Well, that's a push-and-pull sort of situation because in some ways my least appreciated novels are not my best. But I feel like EVERY KINGDOM DIVIDED never got the love it deserved. People actually often ask me why I don't push it more in the current political climate. My response to that is, "Why do you think I'm not pushing it?"
22. How do you balance making demands on the reader with taking care of the reader?
I don't feel any special obligation to take care of the reader. Is that something I was supposed to be doing?
23. As a writer, what would you choose as your mascot/avatar/spirit animal?
A Rigellian, of course.
24. What do you owe the real people upon whom you base your characters?
Interesting question. Probably the courtesy of a heads up. But I think if you're a good writer they'll never know it was based on them.
25. How many unpublished and half-finished books do you have?
26. What does literary success look like to you?
Millions of dollars, movie deals, mansions, champagne, caviar.
27. What’s the best way to market your books?
Get reviews and share them on social media. Prove that your work is woth reading because others have read it. Awards nominations and wins are also very positive.
28. What kind of research do you do, and how long do you spend researching before beginning a book?
It varies. I do research quite a bit before and during writing. Probably dozens of hours for a single book.
29. Do you view writing as a kind of spiritual practice?
No, but I don't really believe in the spirit. I guess it could be a spiritual practice if you were in to that kind of thing.
30. What’s the most difficult thing about writing characters from the opposite sex?
Sex scenes apparently? That's the only thing I've been criticized for. But I've also been complimented for it, so I dunno. You take the good, you take the bad, you take them both, and there you have the facts of life.
31. How long were you a part-time writer before you became a full-time one?
Forever, basically. since I was twelve. But I wouldn't say I'm a full-time writer now. Far from it. Certainly a professional, but I'm not making the bulk of my money from writing or anything.
32. How many hours a day do you write?
When I'm on? Two or three. When I'm off? Sometimes zero for weeks at a time. But them's the breaks.
33. What period of your life do you find you write about most often? (child, teenager, young adult)
I don't think I write about my life very often. In my one roman a clef it was my early to mid twenties.
34. What did you edit out of this book?
Out of SKINWRAPPER? Eh, I overdid it with all the pee globules floating around. There was too much dealing with urine and I think it drained (ha!) some of the tension out of the book.
35. Have you read anything that made you think differently about fiction?
It sounds trite, but Hodgson's THE HOUSE ON THE BORDERLAND always makes me excited about the possibilities of the genre every time I read it.
36. What are the ethics of writing about historical figures?
Um, none, I think, unless they're still alive. Didn't ABRAHAM LINCOLN, FUCKLORD OF THE MOON prove that to us?
37. How do you select the names of your characters?
Laboriously. I want my characters to have meaningful names, but not so cutesy that it slaps you in the face, like how every werewolf character is inevitably named Lupin "Mooney" Lycanthrope. Sometimes it's as subtle as "this is a working class name." Other times the names do very heavy philosophical lifting. Jack Pasternak is one of my favorites.
38. If you didn’t write, what would you do for work?
Well, I don't make money from writing. I did one year, but not nearly enough for my bills. I currently have a full-time day job and I'm co-owner of a small business.
39. Do you read your book reviews? How do you deal with bad or good ones?
Yeah, I read them all. Good ones I share. Bad ones I'm just happy to have. If you don't have bad reviews, you're not being widely read. I know some authors claim they don't read their reviews, but I find that difficult to believe. I think it's something that they think is important to pretend to say.
40. Do you hide any secrets in your books that only a few people will find?
Oh, yeah. Most people on pick up on two or three of the hundreds of Easter eggs I sprinkle throughout all of my books. I did a comprehensive list of the Easter eggs in BRAINEATER JONES once, and there were over a hundred.
41. What was your hardest scene to write?
That's a tough question. I'd say the toughest scenes to write are the boring, weight-bearing ones. Getting from Point A to Point B. If there's no zazz, no reason for it to be there except it has to be, those are difficult.
42. Do you Google yourself?
Every goddamned day.
43. What one thing would you give up to become a better writer?
This is an odd question. Like I get to choose? So could I just give up Brussels Sprouts or something?
44. What are your favorite literary journals?
Cemetery Dance, I guess. I don't really read a whole lot of them.
45. What is your favorite childhood book?
THE HITCH-HIKER'S GUIDE TO THE GALAXY.
46. What is the most difficult part of your artistic process?
Editing. Writing is relatively fun and easy, but honing the prose to perfection is a long, difficult process.
47. Does your family support your career as a writer?
Yeah, certainly they do, my girlfriend in particular.
48. If you had to do something differently as a child or teenager to become a better writer as an adult, what would you do?
Read more. Write more. Same as being an adult.
49. How long on average does it take you to write a book?
I can do it in six months. I guess I've done it in a month, but the real work is in editing, which takes considerably longer.
50. Do you believe in writer’s block?
No. You've just got to either write the words or not.
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