The Three Hundred and Ninety-second Post: The One That Shows My Commitment and Might Get Me Committed…

I have an interesting problem and an easy solution.

This article tells me that one thing I need to be conscious of is branding. When someone picks up a book by R. K. Clark – what are they expecting? Fantasy with a twist of wry humor? Convention breaking romance, be it raunchy and bloody or sweet and kind? Societal commentary? Splatterpunk? I can tell you right now, people who read and like my sweet romance novel are not going to be lining up for my splatterpunk novels. R. K. Clark has to stand for something, darn it.

So, here’s the solution: pseudonyms. Amazon makes it ridiculously easy to write under different names, and I won’t be the first author to do that. The subreddit r/eroticauthors has people who write under several pseudonyms. I can do that.

Ladies and gentlemen – meet what will hopefully not turn into a bad rip-off of The Dark Half:

  • Kellas Donovan – hard smoking, harder drinking horror writer. Prefers splatterpunk with bleak endings.
  • K. R. Malbeouf – a sweet writer who likes romance, earned happy endings and clean prose.
  • Richard Cook – determined to highlight the ills of the world through the power of literary fiction.

I might be going overboard on something like this, but I see it as a chance for more people to get to my work. No sense in alienating fans because they can’t handle gore or romance, right? I also see it as a chance of increasing my revenue by having alternative streams and find out which one really pays. Sure, I have to have a regular writing income stream first, and my last post outlined how I am getting that going (update: cracked 10K words!). As long as I stay the course, I’ll be fine. I can turn two of the novels I finished into series – Valentina having a logical conclusion to support a limited series, and Romance with Advantage having a large enough cast to support a long running series.

Of course, all of this doesn’t mean a warm bucket of spit unless I get back to writing. So, if you’ll excuse me, I have a novel to finish.

The Three Hundred and Ninety-First Post: The One Where I Dangle a $800 Carrot In Front of Me…

Well – I was working on Truth Will Out – my next horror novel when I ran into a part that I needed to think about, which means my progress ground to a halt.

Now, I’m working on the next Valentina Novel called Valentina’s Repast. It can be described with the elevator pitch of: “It’s ‘How Stella Got Her Groove Back’ meets ‘Hannibal’ with a side of ‘Written in the Stars’.”

Sounds like a mess but trust me…it’s going to be good.

One of the keys that self-published authors seem to all agree upon is that series sell. I have enough ideas about Valentina right now to make a four-book series, and maybe even forestall the inevitable for another two books if it proved to be successful. I gave up on wanted to be an x genre author. I just want to be a successful one, so I can still dabble in horror and fantasy (if I finish any of those projects…) as well as romance and try to find where my niche is. I have time after all, and I want to try to do this right, rather than scramble to try to make up for lost time.

Besides, I like writing for Valentina. I just hope I don’t make it too hokey with bringing up her unique hunger as a separate part of her identity. I don’t know how sound that is, given that all my research into cannibals (Hello, FBI!) hasn’t really explored that aspect. Most of the stuff is the lurid ‘here’s how they they killed’. Only one thing I’ve seen really goes into the psychology of a cannibal, and even then, it was a shallow dip. I’m not saying what she did was bad research, I just would like to have more information without becoming Sunday dinner.

But if I was turned into Sunday dinner – I’d be friggin’ delicious.

I do have a goal, and with this goal, I have a prize. If – and only if – I finish four books in Valentina’s series:

  1. Valentina’s Feast – already done and waiting on the editor.
  2. Valentina’s Repast
  3. Valentina’s Service
  4. Valentina’s Dessert
  5. Valentina’s Check

I will get myself a nice fountain pen, carrying case, a bottle of ink and another fountain pen. While I am writing, I am also going to be saving up some money because all of this is going to be expensive! But I think this will motivate me more than saying ‘the real friends were the ones we made along the way’.

However – if anyone here wants to buy these for me right now, I will not stop you. I will give you an address to mail them to me, and my gratitude.

Anyways, this new project is coming along, but the real test of going to be months down the road when it threatens to be a slog. Hopefully, that won’t happen. Cannibalism does hold a fascination for me (Hello again, FBI!) and that’s what really kept me through Valentina’s Feast. Maybe lightning will strike twice with this book.

Because I really want that pen.

The Three Hundred and Ninetieth Post: The One Where I Bang My Head on the Desk…

What’s the hardest part about writing for me? It’s admitting that I’m not going to be very productive for a session and walking away from the keyboard. I get obsessive when I have a goal in front of me. Right now, that goal is to write a haunted house story. Also right now, I put in 68 words in the morning. My writing goal is 750.

My brain is squabbling like a couple of three-year-olds over a stuffed bear.

Half of my brain is screaming at me to work. In the most math-ly sort of way it can work, it’s telling me that 68 is far, far, far less than 750 and that it won’t do. I need to get over this, quick screwing around, and get to work.

The other half is saying that you can’t get blood out of a stone. As much as I stare at the screen – those 68 words are going to be the most I am getting today because I haven’t really plotted out the rest of this chapter. If anything needs to get done, I need to figure out what’s next and write that.

You can see my problem.

I need to follow my wife’s advice and not let it bother me.

It’s bothering me.

It always bothers me. I’m a writer. I should be writing now, rather than staring at the last sentence I wrote a few minutes ago.

I’ll bet King never had to deal with this.

Sorry this isn’t the rampant positivity and humor I try to exude with each post, but it’s really bugging me today and I needed to vent.

I think I’m going to end this here and try to put all of this out of my mind and let myself turn this little box over in my mind.

What’s the worse that can happen?

The Three Hundred and Eighty-Eighth Post: The One Where I Ramble About Pens…

Some of you might know, I have an interest in fountain pens. I went out Sunday to buy a bottle of ink for one of my pens at a local art supply store. They didn’t have the ink I was looking for (Lexington Grey), but I felt like I should get something because I searched high and low for this place and I was not going to leave empty handed. I grabbed a Leuchtturm 1917 small notebook (high end) for about $10. Since I got a notebook, it would not do to get another fountain pen.

It was there I saw disposable fountain pens.

You want to ride the highway? You gotta pay the toll, know what I’m sayin’?

Seeing them was heart breaking. Pilot pen (makers of the only ball-point pens I will ever use) had taken what I loved and adored and turned it into something cheap and worth only the trash can when done. They had taken the notion of a high-end geisha, dressed her in fishnets, a vomit-stained t-shirt and hole riddled cut-off shorts and shoved her out onto a street corner. I was heart broken over this plastic soiled dove.

I bought it. It wasn’t even extra-fine tipped. It was medium. It felt like I was writing with a Sharpie. There was no way I could change the ink or the nib. Holding this pen, I felt almost nauseous. It made thick lines.

Yes. I am a pen snob. My favorite pen manufacturer is Monteverde. My favorite ink maker is Noodler’s Ink and the only nib I will use is extra-fine as I write small and I need for it to be clear. A pen to me is not only a tool, it is a work of art. A cheap pen for me is $36. I own a pen that I bought for $125. I’m saving up right now for a pen that is $1,000. My wife’s caught me (guiltily, I admit) admiring a $7,000 pen. I told her I would like to have that pen for Christmas.

Her laughter was rich, full and very, very harsh.

Anyways, I still have the pen in my pockets with my notebook, and I take it out and look at it. It doesn’t write bad – the ink doesn’t feather or bleed through on the pages. The barrel of the pen looks nice with the geometric pattern on it. It would look better if it were engraved on a metal barrel, but it’s esthetically pleasing to me. It writes smooth for what I got. It’s no Ritma, but it’s not a Bic roller ball.

Did I learn something? What the hell does this have to do with writing?

It has everything to do with managing expectations. I’m not going to write one draft of a book. I let someone read the rough draft of Romance with Advantage and they told me they couldn’t get through the first seventeen pages for all the errors. Rather than be hurt, I know I have a second draft to write. Should I hang up the notion of one draft? No. I should work and aim for that. If I miss that goal, I shouldn’t give up and toss the manuscript aside (like I’ve been tempted to do several times). I must manage my expectations. I get the chance to improve on the tale. Just because I have a disposable fountain pen that was less than $10.00 doesn’t mean I can’t write a good tale with it.

Just because things didn’t turn out right doesn’t mean you should quit.

If only I can remember this all the time.

Well, have a good day everyone – make art with the tools you have. Stay positive and live well. I’m off to work someone on my second horror novel: a haunted house tale called The Truth Will Out. See you all next week.

The Three Hundred and Eighty-Seventh Post: The One I Might be Composing from the Bathroom Right About Now…

I’ve read a lot of books on writing. I’ve gotten a lot of advice and some practical tips on structure, plotting and description. I feel as if I could write my own book (“Confessions of a Writer: I Don’t Know What the Hell I’m Doing, Either! A Beginner’s Guide” by R. K. Clark). The first two bits of writerly advice I would put up would be some of the few bits of advice born out of experience:

  1. Stay Healthy! For pity’s sake…this one is easy. Try not to die before a deadline. Get plenty of sleep. Eat healthy(-ish). Stay hydrated, and by hydrated, I don’t mean watering down your bourbon. See a doctor if you get ill. Which leads into my second piece of advice…
  2. If You’re Sick, Rest!  This is another piece of advice that sounds really common, but you’d be surprised.

The only reason why I bring this up is because I was sick recently (last weekend). Apparently, I found the one cow that, before getting a bolt through his head, stood up on his hind legs, raged against the heavens and shouted, “FROM HELL’S HEART, I STAB AT THEE!

Because, brothers and sisters, he raged all the way through my body.

I took a day off work since I did not feel good enough to work, which people will tell you, means I am close to death. As I woke up Monday morning, I thought: ‘I can work on my novel. I won’t have any problems or interference. I can crank out a page or two. I have the will to work.’

My stomach violently objected, feeling that my work can wait a day. So, I collapsed on the couch (please extend your wishes for wellness to my couch) and watched a couple of shows I had waiting on my DVR – ghost shows so that I can say that I was researching for my novel. I rested, didn’t think about anything but convincing myself that I could eat bananas and dry toast three times a day. I felt bad because I wasn’t working. I furiously chewed on my banana snack, convinced that I could work through this misery. I tried to channel my inner Stephen King-like work ethic.

I took a nap.

I woke up thirty minutes later with a bit of a realization: I can miss a day and not feel bad about not working. Yes, I am on a bit of a deadline in that I want to have this book on the shelves by October. However, If I don’t take care of myself this book won’t get out at all. So, I rested and watched a little TV. Today, I’ll get back on the stick and write as much as I am able. I can get back onto the hardcore schedule in a few days.

Some of you may be asking why am I writing about this?

As a lot of readers know, I have a very obsessive personality. I will latch onto something and ride it to the point of self-harm. I could have written. I could have pushed myself, but I also knew that I would be erasing those words later, undoing all that work and getting madder for not putting forward my best effort that day.

So, I rested.

You should rest, too. As the song lyric says: “let the world turn without you tonight”.

The Three Hundred and Eighty-Sixth Post: The One Where I Try to Scare You Before I Finish the First Act Break…

So, I’ve begun my next new project – a haunted house story called The Truth Will Out – and it’s become a bit of a slog for me already. I might try a different approach to this and write all the good scenes first and try to stitch them to—

No. I’ve done that before, and it doesn’t work. I’m just one of those people that must start at the beginning and work my way through it. I had a ex-girlfriend who would read a series in the middle to decide if she wanted to continue. Makes no sense to me. Oh, well.

I’m trying to take the approach that Stephen King took when he wrote The Shining. It’s not about the haunted house, it’s about the people in the haunted house. The terror isn’t in the ghosts, ghoulies and those unknown bumps in the night. It’s in not really knowing the person standing next to you in the dark. The secrets of the living, not the revelations of the dead, is what should scare you.

I’ve also fantasied about sending a copy of my horror novel to Stephen King. I was going to do it with Valentina’s Feast, but I just don’t feel it’s really worthy of such a notice. This is the book that he’s going to get. So this one is going to be mulled over and tweaked to death. After that, it’s going to be The Agonizing Alibi Day and The Catastrophic Christmas Party. While I love horror, I’m kinda digging in some dark places for this, and I might need the break.

I’m still waiting on the editor to send my manuscript back. Not stressing. Nope. Not me. hahaaahahahaHAHAHAHHAAAA! *ahem* Excuse me. I am so ready for this book to be done. Just a couple of last-minute tweaks to keep everyone in character and it’s done. Still aiming for the end of month release, but if there is a delay – it was unavoidable, and I apologize.

Well – that’s really all for now. Just structuring one novel, waiting to release a second one and trying to figure out a third and fourth. Thank you all for your patience, I hope for it to be amply rewarded in due time. Check out the books on the right – those written by me and dear friends.

Have a good day.

The Three Hundred and Eighty-Fifth Post: The One Where I Fall to my Knees in the Rain…

All I am waiting on now is for the editor to get back with my second manuscript. Once that’s done and the changes are made — I AM DONE WITH “VALENTINA’S FEAST” AND IT’S GOING ON SALE!

I am really happy about this — I also realized I’ve written four books with a fifth shortly on the way and I am working on a sixth one right now (haunted house if you can believe it). By the end of this year, I will have written four books and maybe have them all published — being really optimistic about that, but I’ll have three of them out there for sure.

Maybe this is the year things turn around for me in a literary sense?

In other news, I have finally settled down on a haunted house story so I can finally say that watching that Ghost Adventures marathon was really research. Haven’t settled on a title…or cover art…but I am trying a different approach this time and mapping everything out. Outline, equipment lists, maps — the whole nine yards, in hopes that this will help. When I tend to write, I don’t stay very specific when it comes to locations, maps and other things like that. With this story, since it is a “closed set” (no one can leave the house for three days), I want to make sure that I keep everything in line. Most of my writing is done with a loose outline in my head and “ice cream” scenes already there. Going to see if this works. If everything is copacetic, look for a Hallowe’en release. If not…well…maybe next year.

There is nothing else really going on. I’m just happy that I’ve got one book finished, going to have a second one done on the heels of it and might have a third and fourth done by the end of the year. I feel like this is going to be my singular breakout year.

Thanks for reading, feel free to grab a book or two to the right and keep an eye on that list. It’s going to grow. 😀

The Three Hundred and Eighty-fourth Post: The One Where I Wonder When It’s a Healthy Focus…

I’m about halfway through edit Valentina’s Feast. If everything works out, I am looking at a late June release (depends on how fast my editor can turn around reading it). I can’t state how excited I am in that I’ve finally finished another novel and I am getting another one beta read to make changes (Romance with Advantage), that one might come out closer to the end of the year, depending on things. Everything is finally coming together.

I’m focusing on getting these two novels done – so everything else has been pushed back to either the end of the year, or just doing it during Pander-monium. That will be the real test for me. Basically, it’s twelve Nanowrimos one right after the other. I’m not gonna lie…I’m a little intimidated, but I can do it.

OK – enough about that.

I’m mad at Amazon, right now. I put in an order for a subscription for Digital Photography in January. I understand that it was going to not get here until May. I wasn’t happy about it, but I accepted it and waited…then the week of delivery came…and nothing. I sent a message. I waited another week. Another message…nothing. A third message and I talked to someone in customer support.

“It looks like it got lost in the mail.”

I’m mad that this was just turned off with a “sorry, dude” and “we’ll give you store credit”. I was looking forward to the magazine, and I got nothing.

I guess I’ll try to find it in Barnes and Noble. Let them get my money.

Sorry – not happy. Also, not learned my lesson because I ordered Dead Kennedy’s Fresh Fruit for Rotting Vegetables and the best time I can get is “by 10 PM today”.

Yeah…this is going to be fun.

Enough of that.

I can’t wait for the movie theaters to re-open. The saddest thing I have ever seen is the empty parking lot of my local movie spot. I miss the smell of popcorn, the lights going dim. I even miss teasers. I still watch movies at home, but it’s not really the same thing.

There’s not much else here. I’m laser-focused on Valentina’s Feast to the point of mania, and I’m letting everything else go to the wayside for now. I’m mad at Amazon and running out of good podcasts to binge.

Other than that – I’m doing fine. Thanks for dropping by, and I’ll try to have more for y’all next week. Please bear with me. Thanks.