The Three Hundred and Sixty-Sixth Post: The One Where I Do My Best Oliver Twist Impersonation…

I’m going to be honest – I am not a very social person. I hate having to ask people for things, especially strangers. I’m not a good salesperson (Star Ford can tell you that), and I would much rather be in the back writing rather than doing the smiling and pressing of the flesh.

Now, having said that…I need help.

Last week, I gave away The Dreaded Day Job and I watched 300 books fly off the virtual shelves. The most I have either given away or sold ever. You’d think that with all of that, I’d get a couple of sales to other books, or get some ratings.

Nothing.

Now, I have gotten from reads on Kindle Unlimited and Kindle Lending Library, so the whole thing isn’t a complete wash…but let’s all face facts.

I need ratings. Good ratings.

Amazon doesn’t look at sales as much as they look at ratings. More ratings means the book gets a higher ranking and more visibility. More visibility means a better chance for books to be sold, which means I can eventually go to full tiem writing like I want to,

But I can’t do that without ratings.

This is where I ask for help.

If you got my book – either for free last week, or you’re one of the intelligent, discriminating readers who bought my book (clearly a scholar and a person of distinction and good breeding) – please leave a review. I’m not asking for a dissertation on how Evan’s whammy is a metaphor about the capricious nature of the budding gig economy (not saying it isn’t either). I just need some people to click on three, four or even five stars. Won’t take but a second, nor do you have to be sincere.

Speaking of settling down and writing…

I am going to finish the party scene in Feast Friday night and perhaps revisit the final chapter with Greg and Valentina. I think it will be better served with Valentina being more reflective about their relationship. After that, it’s a couple more scenes with Siobhan and maybe a short chapter with Valentina and Greg running into each other with Greg bringing up the movie. Just a short scene or two to give them some more characterization. After that – done! I move on to giving Resurrectionist’s Blues my full attention to hopefully have it done by Halloween. After that, it’s off with Romance with Advantage and then start on some side projects to end the year.

Wish me luck.

And give my books a good review. Thank you.

The Three Hundred and Sixty-Fifth Post: The One That I Would Have Gotten To Several Years Ago…

Well – it was fun while it was lasted. I put my book up for free for the week (still for free until Friday!). The first day it went free, I gave away 274 copies. I was giddy! Breaking into the top 25 in two different categories really buoyed my spirits! Yes…to quote a friend of mine: Free tastes good. I haven’t sold anything, but if you get to the top 100, then Amazon will make your book more visible.

Umm…I think that was a lie.

I went from 274 down to 34 the next day. Today? 17.

To be honest, this was something that I needed. I’ve been dogging it badly for the past week. I’ll try to work on something but after forty-five words, I couldn’t go on. It became a slog. I hate slogs. When writing is work for me, I know it’s going to be work for someone to read. So, I’m trying something new.

I am writing something with which I have no sort of emotional context.

Let me explain with this quote from A Knight’s Tale: I will eviscerate you in fiction. Every pimple, every character flaw. I was naked for a day; you will be naked for eternity.

Some people sharpen their knives. I sharpen my pen.

Nine times out of ten, this motivates me to work hard. This is apparently time number ten. So – the fiction in question is being gently set aside to be picked up later when I have a steadier head on my shoulders and a stronger fire in my gut.

Good news for you all. What I’m working on new is the Hallowe’en tale called The Resurrectionist’s Blues: One and Done. This was something I was going to write and put out for Hallowe’en, then working Valentina’s Feast kinda sidetracked me. I’m still working on getting it finished, but I might have to make it an all-day Sunday approach. I got the main characters out of the party (yay!) and heading home where Valentina is going to get a little creepi(er). After that, there is another chapter I need to re-write and some changes I want to make to the main character. It’s going to get done, and this book will be out by December.

As far as my mental health goes…well…I’m trying and that’s all that I can do in the end. Maybe switching books will help so that I don’t feel like I’m wasting my time in my little cubicle flipping through Facebook rather than writing.

Well, that’s all for now. I should get back to work tormenting my new and poor, innocent character. After all – it builds character.

PTI: Oh, My God!

I put The Dreaded Day Job up for free this week — starting today. This has not been free for even 24 hours yet…and I’ve done this!

That’s right — I have never given away this many books before today…and it’s still going! I am going to hit 200 easily before tomorrow. I might even finally break into the top 100!

So — run out and get you free copy of The Dreaded Day Job today before you actually have to pay for it!

The Three Hundred and Sixty-Fourth Post: The One Where I Talk About Genres, Fame and Finding Someone to Cosplay A Cannibal!

(Almost missed the deadline…it’s been a weird couple of days here)

Hello! “Valentina’s Feast” continues the slog forward, with this being both the longest and the shortest party I’ve even been victim to, and I’ve decided to try to continue forward with another project on Sundays. I’m doing at least a thousand words on a Hallmark romance called “Romance with Advantage”. This is going to be something new for me, in that I’m not completely familiar with romance. While, yes, “Feast” is billed as a “splatterpunk romance”, it’s relying more on horror than romance. “Advantage” is pure, sacchariney romance – chaste, even. The big moment in this piece is a kiss between the MMC and FMC.

You may wonder why I seem to flit from genre to genre. Going from horror, to fantasy, to romance and (hopefully) on to sci-fi. To be honest – I just enjoy writing. While, yes, I am trying to find a genre that is profitable for me, I’m also trying to write things that I would like to read, and I have varied interests. I also like mixing genres. I’ve also got a horror / steampunk novel deep in the works which I need to get back to in the beginning of the year (provided we live through it!).

I also know that this means that the High and Holy Branding that writers seem to live or die by will be hard for me. I don’t want to be known as a horror writer, or a fantasy writer, or a romance writer. I just want to be known as a good writer. So far, my benchmark for good writer is this:

  • Make a living, or a substantial part of it, through writing.
  • Getting fan mail.
  • Having people cosplay the characters.

OK – these are odd benchmarks, I admit and only one of them really, really counts. The other two are just a hallmark of fame. I don’t think the first one is unobtainable. I just need to settle down and get productive. The other two? Well…I do put an email address in the back of every book, and I’ve been thinking about getting a mailbox for letters (people still do that, right?). I’m thinking about drawing the line at my Discord server.

Yes! I have a Discord channel for writing (R. K. Clark #3098) and I’ve considered doing a live write and chat thing with Scrivener since I can live stream writing on it. I thought that was kinda weird, but if you think about it – there are some artists who live stream their art sessions. Why should writing be any different, and I need to get used to talking to people as I intend on getting more interviews as more books come out.

Well – speaking of deadlines, I need to finish breakfast and getting ready for my Dreaded Day Job. Hope you all have a good day!

The Three Hundred and Sixty-third Post: The One Where I Ramble on a Little About My First Comic Book Crush (oh, yeah…and talk about ‘The New Mutants’, too)!

So…I finally got a chance to see The New Mutants and I think the long time it took to get it re-shot and re-edited did it some good. Speaking as a Marvel fan in general and specifically a fan of the comic, it was good to see the source material adhered to (for the most part) closely. There were things skipped over, but I think that it was done so with the idea that the sequel would answer them. Sadly, this would not be the case. This movie signals the final 20th Century Fox / Marvel collaboration. Upside: mutants join the MCU (‘mutant’ was owned by Fox for the longest time. That’s why you never heard Agent Coulson refer to mutants, but to ‘enhanced individuals’), downside: we’ll more than likely never run into Mr. Sinister, the Exxex Corporation or the current cast of New Mutants being carried over.

That’s a shame because the actors and actresses they cast nailed the roles. Maisie Williams was excellent at Rahne / Wolfsbane. She captured the skittishness of a character caught between her religion, her self and her mutancy. Anya Taylor-Joy gave us the understandably aloof Illyana and the utterly frightening Magick. Charlie Heaton’s performance of Sam Guthrie didn’t drop into the realm of stereotype Kentucky redneck, but gave the future leader an ‘aw-shucks’ quality about him.

This is not a superhero film – this is a teen horror film in superhero’s clothing. Finally, someone understands the formula (DCU…I’m looking at you) and has applied it. The director did say that he had to tone down quite a bit…and I would have loved to see the film he imagined. From what I did see, it would have been more straight up horror – a genre that I have yet to really see in the superhero trappings (yes – I know we’re going to get something like that with the second Dr. Strange film, but there were other really good chances for that).

Now, having said all of this…I would wait until it hits digital. If you’re a fan of the comic – see it in the cinema. If you’re not, or you’re a casual Marvel fan, then definitely wait. Since this is the last Fox mutant movie, there’s no need to get hooked on the current cast (especially if you’re like me).

As far as the writing goes…still trying to edit down the current project. I am dedicated to getting it out there before the first week of December and getting out a couple of other projects done before then as well. It is a drag, but it needs to be done as I want Valentina’s Feast to be the best it can be.

Now, those of you who want to hear what I sound like (don’t know why) or even know what my face looks like (see above comment), I am going to be a part of a male author panel soon. When I get more information, I will pass it along. I will also be hawking my works as well, so have a card or cash ready.

Hope everyone has a good day!

The Three Hundred and Sixty-Second Post: The One Where I Quickly Talk About Something Near to My Heart…

Today (9/10) is World Suicide Awareness Day.

If you know someone is having a problem – reach out to them. Sometimes people are too shy, stubborn to say anything. It takes nothing to ask “What’s wrong?” or even “How can I help?” to someone. It might even mean the world to them that someone else is willing to ask them if they’re all right.

It does for me. Having depression and a host of other things, I’m sometimes not willing or feel able or comfortable to say something if I’m having an episode. Sometimes, it really does take someone checking in with me (my wife does this, and God bless her for it) to remind me that I’m not having to bear this alone. I don’t, nor should anyone else.

To quote Tom Araya of all people: “If you see someone goin’ down. Help ‘em out. That’s what you’re here to do – help each other out.

Thanks for coming in. I’ll have some better stuff for you next week.

Take care.

The Three Hundred and Sixty-First: The One Where I Explain How Slavery is Freedom!

I am now about three thousand words into the Hallmark romance which I have started, and I can see the appeal to writing it at least. With these sorts of romance novels, everything is already mapped out as far as expectations go. I don’t have to think about the structure or a lot of plot reversals or anything like that. I can just sit down and think of characters, but even then, there are expectations. One would think that there are so many limitations you can do little.

I say the opposite – because all of the heavy lifting is done for you, you’re free to do anything thing else. You can concentrate on really fleshing out the characters. You can work on your descriptions, work on dialogue – work on things that you’re not so solid on. All the major stuff has been taken care of for you.

So far – the name of the novel is Romance with Advantage. The story is about a man who runs a game store, but his ex is coming back to town to develop the area for houses, stores in a sort of open air arcology. They had a split-up about five years earlier which was acrimonious, and both have managed to finally piece their lives back together.

I’m trying to use things that I know about. The main character knows games – something that I know quite a bit about. He’s been through the wringer about this relationship…check…and there will be a happy ending. Yes, I’ve had one of those, too. This is going to be a little more difficult because I am trying to keep it a little light as the genre demands.

I’m enthused about this particular novel. It’s something that while I am writing for profit, I am going to have fun writing it. I get a chance to use my humor with some of the characters, I get to mine my own personal history for material, and I get to work out of my comfort zone. I’m still in love with this process, and I’m going to work to get the freedom to pursue this to the end.

Also – I have the cover design in mind, and all I need to do is find a place that can make custom made dice. This is going to be an amazingly simple cover and I get to use some of my photography equipment. I am so stoked about this! This has been what I’ve been missing for the past week. This sort of enthusiasm! The heady rush of creativity. The voices of the character are coming to me… and I love my sassy gay friend character Scott. It might be cliched but looking at the plot and what I’m aiming for, I think it’s going to be fine.

I am still committed to The Resurrectionist’s Blues, though. I’m going to break this up into writing one in the day and the other at night. It’s going to slow down things a little, but as long as I have three books done by the beginning of December, I’m fine.

Wish me joyful luck, everyone!

The Three Hundred and Sixtieth Post: The One Where I Talk About One of my Most Hated Sayings!

There are certain words that make me grind my teeth (co-conspirator — there is no such thing. Either you’re in on it, or you’re looking over your shoulder. There is no in-between). There are certain phrases I have heard over and over again in an attempt to bolster my confidence, alleviate some personal misery or just to turn my mood around. While these are generally well-meaning people, I still want to shove them through a colander at times.

One of these inane phrases is: you’ve got to get out of your comfort zone, bro…

Let me tell you why I hate this phrase. It’s really simple.

I have been out of my comfort zone since ’93. Trust me, I would love to run screaming back into it if I could, but modern physics states I can’t right now. I’ve been way, way out of my comfort zone from 2006 to 2016. Luckily for me, things turned around a little bit, so I’m in a tolerable zone.

The reason why I am bringing this up is because this week (August 24th-28th) is a very bad week for me emotionally. I’m not going to go into particulars right now – those of you that know me will know the reasoning. Those of you who are casual readers of the blog might be able to suss out a reason if you go back far enough.

Well, I asked a writer friend of mine for some help to keep my mind occupied for this week. We are both good friends, but very disparate writers. I tend to be a little darker and more cynical when it comes to my genre fiction: splatterpunk, grimdark fantasy or sci-fi. Even my comedy tends to be of a snarky nature. I’m more of a world weary Bugs Bunny sort of person.

However, my friend commiserated with me, and then gave me an assignment that has not only put me out of my comfort zone as far as writing goes…but is going to challenge me:

Okay, a writing assignment… I would like to see how R. K. Clark does Hallmark. Small town. Guys in flannel shirts. Rival florists or bakers or wedding planners must work together for some reason. Or big city guy comes to town to take over the town’s biggest business. It doesn’t have to be a complete story—some scenes will be fine. But put your spin on it!

Well.

I’m not really a romance sort of person to be honest. The closest I’ve gotten to writing one thus far has been Valentina’s Feast…and that’s romantic for a ridiculously small part of the population. A part of the population that I would like to keep a safe distance from.

But even as I sat there, thinking about her assignment…that story popped into my head. I saw the opening scene, where our protagonist is looking at a sign for a developing condo/shopping center and sees an old flame’s name. He realizes that her development is going to take him and everyone else in this kitschy bohemian block out of business, if not get mowed over.

I’ve also been having issues with outlining Resurrectionist’s Blues. Maybe doing something completely different is what I need to get out of this funk I’ve had as of late.

Can’t hurt right? As long as I have three books in the hopper by early December, I’m chugging along.

Maybe this will be the one time I’ll be happy out of my comfort zone.

The Three Hundred and Fifty-ninth Post: The One Where I Talk About Something That I’m Interested In…

When I was in high school, I became fascinated with fountain pens. I bought them from office supply stores whenever I had the chance. They were messy, the ink didn’t dry fast enough for me (being left-handed) but I loved the scratching sound they made on the paper. I liked to look of the nib. The only things I didn’t like about them was: I could only find blue ink (I prefer black, and even then – the black they had never looked dark enough for me), and they only had the medium sized nib. I tend to write small, so a medium nib won’t make the letters legible. Soon after, I discovered Pilot G2 pens and the extra-fine point (.038) and I was off chasing the thin-lined dragon as it were.

Recently, I saw a friend of mine in my writing group using a fountain pen. I asked him where he got it, and he gave me the name of Goulet Pens (hmu guys for a sponsorship deal). Just out of curiosity, I went to the site later one and looked around. I bought two pens and a note pad for about $90. When I got everything, I admit I was skeptical. A fountain pen is a fountain pen, right? It’s not going to write as smooth as my Pilot.

I was joyously wrong! As soon as I dragged my new favorite pen across the paper:

pen

I want this for Christmas, and my Birthday, and Valentine’s Day…and Arbor Day.

All those old feeling of love of longhand writing came back. I’m writing a journal because I feel the need to grab one of the fourteen pens I own (I do not have a problem) and write with it. I tried the Diplomat Stealth blue pen and I wrote a quick note. It was wonderful! I’d even consider writing this blog in long hand and taking pictures of it to put on the site. I might even do that on a lark.

I went to the Internet to see if there were other retailers for inks. I found blogs, websites and message boards about fountain pens. Other pen and paper nerds like me carved spaces in the Web. I felt like I’ve found a new branch of my tribe. Through these wonderful people, I’e found other pens to sate my appetite, inks to use and papers suitable for writing. Not only have I come home, but I can now write nice looking letters to you.

Why am I writing about this? What does this have to do with writing? Tangentially, when I outline for novels I do it in longhand. Doing it with the fountain pen makes it easier, and I can do it much longer. There is another reason for this.

I spoke of passion. Passion can be taken and twisted and perverted. Unrestrained passion is maddening – I speak from experience on this – but passion aimed and properly bridled is a wonder to behold. I rediscovered my passion for long handwriting, and with it I am helping myself and my career.

Go out. Find your passion. Never let it go, never let others hijack it. Change the world with it.

Now, more than ever, we need that.