The Four Hundred and Thirty-Seventh Post: The One Where I Drink Scotch with Bukowski.

Well, I sent the writing sample and a cover letter (I am not good at cover letters. Please, God – let the read the sample before the cover letter) to Level Four Publishing and we’ll see what happens from there. If I get rejected – then nothing changes for me, really. I continue with The Deadly Barrows and try to get that going. If I am accepted, then everything changes for me. I’ll be under contract and making money for a change doing this (even more if they sell!). Might even be enough to get away from working for a living to writing. I figure they want 100,000 words every three months. With a five thousand advance, and if I just break even – that’s $20,000 a year. Enough to cover my expenses if I do nothing else but write.

If Level Four doesn’t drop me after one book.

That’s a possibility. I could be a New York Times bestseller. I could be a flop. At least I didn’t quit.

And that’s the one thing: it has never occurred to me that I should quit this. Sure – I’ll get roundly abused (‘more you sweat in peace, the less you bleed in war’ is how I look at it) by my writing group, but I’ve never thought about chucking everything in the air and saying “fuck it”. I look at the lack of sales, but I’ve never felt deep failure. I just need to find a better way to get my stuff out there. Is it stubbornness when I can’t conceptualize another option?

Why I number my pages…

Look at this blog. I think I only have two steady readers (Hi!) but churn it out as often as I can. I might take a “sabbatical”, but I don’t quit it completely.

So, I say to you all (all two of you, so pay attention) and I know it sounds trite and hackneyed but Do Not Give Up. Follow the advice of poet Charles Bukowski: “Find what you love and let it slowly kill you.”

Die for love, my darlings.

The Four Hundred and Thirty-Sixth Post: The One Where I Type with Crossed Fingers!

Originally I was going to talk about how killing characters to show how big and bad the villain was seemed to be cliched to me, then I happened to be on the LinkedIn and I found this ad for Level 4 Publishing. I read on and found something interesting about them.

What’s-His-Name! NOOOO!

They want writing samples.

One of the problems I have had with notion of getting an agent is that I have absolutely nothing concrete to show for it – a degree of some sort. I know some of you are going to say to go out and apply, but I say this: I can’t for…reasons…the kind I don’t want to get into right now.

Anyway, Level 4 Publishing gives you an outline, synopsis, and characters. From all of that, you have to give them 1,000 words. That’s it. You lay it out on the table and see if they like it. I like this. It’s fair. I have an equal shot against someone with a degree in English.

What’s even better – you get paid $5,000 right out the gate if they accept you. Granted, it’s not all at once, but it’s the usual “advance” and you get 10% net royalties afterwards which is pretty standard in the business. So far, none of the usual flags come up for me – I don’t pay anything, they’re up front about the rights to the books (they’re not mine), and they already have at least one book out. This might be the gateway I’ve been looking for to get into professional writing.

Now, when it comes to length, they are not messing around. 100,000 words. That’s about two months of work of you’re clearing 2,000 words a day. This is my only sticking place because I tend to write about half that and call it a day. While it would be nice to let it all hang out as it were, I am a little curious as to the pace they want. Their ad says I would have to be willing to work 10 hours a week – two hours a day on the weekdays, leaving my weekends to myself. An hour at lunch and an hour at home is no problem. I’d still have the weekends to pursue my other projects which are not making money right now, or I could work six days a week for only two hours and see if I can get some favor for working fast.

Am I going to do this? That’s the question. All I have to lose is…nothing really. I’m not putting forward any of my ideas. The company hands them to me and I run with them. Am I comfortable with the company owning the rights…even trying to get the book adapted for movies or games? Sure. Might help to get my name out there for my stuff. Do I think I’m good enough?

No. There is a reason why I have a dreaded day job. Am I ever going to get successful? Who knows? But if I don’t do something, I am going to be sitting in front of this laptop wondering what would have happened if I took the risk.

I did try to get an agent once at a writer’s convention here in Louisville, but it fell flat. She said that what I had given her (the first chapter of The Dreaded Day Job) wasn’t what she was looking for. That was it. No other words of encouragement, nothing. I think she was looking for YA, which I do not do. After that, it kinda cemented my will towards self-publishing…but if this works…

I think I am going to give it a try. Like I said, I have nothing to lose in this. They refuse me, I plug on and kill a character to show how bad the goblins are. I get accepted, I get a novel outline and synopsis, along with professional cred.

Wish me luck.

The Four Hundred and Thirty-Fifth Post: The One Where Nothing Happens…

Sorry, everyone. I’m going to skip out on this week’s blog. I’ve been working twelve hour days for overtime at my Dreaded Day Job.

Want to help me not sit at a desk for twelve hours questioning my life choices? Check out the books I’m selling on the right hand side of the blog, maybe even buy one. It’ll help me, and I’m even selling books from friends — so please help them out, too. I’ll be back next week with a new blog. Promise.

Until then — have a kitten.

Next week — this kitten murders!

The Four Hundred and Thirty-Fourth Post: The One Where I Manifested Donuts Two Days Straight?

There is an old military saying: “Once is coincidence, twice is intentional, three times is enemy action.”

I’ve had donuts twice in two days – from the same person when I was fiending for donuts.

Please allow me to explain.

I love donuts. I am not going to give them up. Yes – I’m on a diet and fitness program, but at no point did they say that I couldn’t have donuts. That’s their fault, not mine. Yesterday, I was absolutely driving myself crazy for donuts. I couldn’t get them out of my head. I was making plans to get donuts during break (there’s a gas station not that far from work). I tasted them in my mind. The mix of sugar and cinnamon. The softness of the dough in my mouth. The smell of the donut before I bit into it. My mouth was watering with the desire for them.

Someone I work with – going to call her J – came in with a box of donuts from a donut place down the road that makes amazing donuts. “I just felt like getting donuts today,” she says with a shrug when she sets down the box on one of the tables. When break time comes, I walk over calmly…not trying to betray the fact that I could upend that whole box into my mouth without a second’s quibble from my conscience. I opened the lid. There, in the upper left corner was a sugar and cinnamon donut just like the one I had been imagining.

Now, I’m a rational person. This was all coincidence. I wanted donuts, and it happened that J appeared with donuts. Cinnamon and sugar is a fairly common flavor, right? There’s nothing to it. I got super lucky (my doctor and my wife will say otherwise, but they don’t read this blog).

Today – more fiending for donuts. This I can’t explain other than I had wanted something sweet for breakfast and donuts came to mind. I was even close to a grocery store so I could walk in and get some. However, I was there on other business and never got the chance to head into the store and grab some for me. I drove to work with no problem (amazing considering the way traffic is).

Louisville rush hour is not for the faint of heart.

Sitting down, I let my mind wander to donuts – maybe I could make this happen on purpose? I pictured myself eating a donut, and this time I pictured a different donut. I pictured a fruit cereal and chocolate covered donut from the place down the street. I tasted the chocolate and fruity flakes in my mouth, I felt the crunch between my teeth. I felt the joy of eating them while I sorted through today’s paperwork.

J looked up at me and asked me if I wanted something from King’s Donuts – the place from down the street.

This is intentional. Either the universe wants me to have donuts, or I am somehow creating donuts in my life. I told J I would love to have the fruity cereal covered donuts. I stood up to give her a couple of dollars and she told me she didn’t need the money.

Let me say this again: the universe heard my call for donuts and answered.

People have been telling me to read Neville Goddard, because he describes this process in greater detail. I might have to do that. I mean, if I can manifest mere donuts, what else can I get from the Universe?

Well – that’s all the high strangeness for now. On the right-hand side (speaking of manifesting) are some of my books for sale and also books from good friends of mine. Please check them out! Have a good day and enjoy those donuts.

The Four Hundred and Thirty-Third Post: The One Where I Am Not Happy with A Certain Blue and White Themed Company (and no Cards fans, it’s not U.K.) …

Facebook has earned my ire. I’m trying to run some ads on it, but they’re not letting them run. I paid money for it and everything, but nothing has gone through and the ad is about to expire. I’ve asked them about it, but I haven’t heard anything else from them. I am not happy about this. Not at all.

So, I ask you all – are there any advertising services for books beyond Amazon and Facebook? The previous times, I got some returns but they quickly diminished. I’m finding it costing more than I would like to pay out of pocket. If anyone has any suggestions, let me know in the comments section. Speaking of ads – on the right (and if you scroll down a little bit), you’ll see some books from myself and dear friends. Take a look at them, perhaps even buy them. They’re all well written…even mine.

Well, I’m going to go on ahead and pony out the cash for the ads. With any luck, I’ll get two or three sales from them. I’m definitely going to try the whole Royal Road gambit. It worked for Andy Weir, right?

I also started the fantasy series that I am going to put on Royal Road. The whole series doesn’t have a title yet, but the first book is called The Deadly Barrow. I wrote an outline for the first book and currently working on the second outline. This is going to be strictly a swords and sorcery affair. I think I’m going to find a good home there at Royal Road. Hopefully, this will be the thing to grow some more followers with.

I think that’s all for now. Again, on the right-hand side of the screen and a little bit down are some books written by dear friends you should take a look at. The list will be updated soon with John Stiver’s historical fiction book The Accidental Hero. I’ve read it and can’t recommend it enough. Everyone take care and be safe. Until next week, then.

The Four Hundred and Thirty-Second Post: The One Where I Try This Scheduling Thing All Over Again!

So – with two official projects to be working on, both of them will hopefully be paying, I am going to try to stick to some kind of schedule.

I’m not saying it can’t happen…I’m just saying look at my track record with dieting…

The plan is simple and requires no large changes from me. Weekdays, I work on The Show Must Go On. I don’t change the word count, but maybe I’ll try to squeeze in some work after I get home. On the weekends, I head to the local Starbucks plop down at a table and write out the outline for the progression fantasy series. With football season coming up, I know I’m going to need to get out of the house. On Saturdays that I have gaming group, or writer’s meetings it’s going to be afterwards (except for the gaming group when it can be before).

This is manageable in that I am still getting work done seven days a week and I’m not burning myself out on one thing. I have to admit I am on a bit of a pause as far as it comes to The Show Must Go On, so working on the outline is giving my mind a chance to figure everything out in the meantime. I’ll be out of the house, so I don’t have the distractions of everything else around me. Sure, I’ll have to do laundry on Friday night, but at least it’s out of the way, right?

I know I’ve said that I’ve got to treat this like a real business, but I had no business model or way to somehow make a steady income until I thought of the serial novel. Even then, I had no good idea that I could serialize. Now I have a long book series, and I might serialize one of my more adult ideas and see what that does. I even have a web address for it (dirt-elf.com – right now it takes you here to my blog, but I am going to try to change that once I’m done with the horror novel). I’m finally getting my feet under me and I am going to stand up.

About time if you ask me.

Well, I just put up an ad on Facebook for The Dreaded Day Job. Let’s see if this gets me some sales. If I could get as many sales as clicks when I post a picture on Facebook under R. K. Clark, then I’d have enough to maybe get to that indie writer’s convention in Las Vegas. I should save up for that. Take a leisurely 27 hour drive to Vegas. Let me think about that.

That’s all for now. I’ve got a schedule, now all I have to do is stick to it. Yeah.

The Four Hundred and Thirtieth Post: The One Where I Try To Do Something Different…

So, I’ve finished up the outline to the first book and I’m starting on the second one. I’m going to finish the outlines for the first three books before I put finger to keyboard and write the novels themselves.

While part of the definition of progression fantasy deals with obvious levels of power, and in the novel I have characters growing in magical, combative, or physical might. I have a character who takes a different journey. The character starts out as an entitled woman who thinks she’s going to inherit her father’s criminal enterprise just because she is the only child, but becomes a leader on her own merit. She gains diplomatic power. I thought that would be an interesting twist in the genre, and it makes it interesting to read to see her change from the intitled to the respected.

My horror novel is an entirely different matter. I’ve come to a point and I have no idea how to get to the next scene. Familiar readers of this blog will recognize this as ‘Tuesday’. I’m not going to get stressed over it, I’ve got dozens of other things to do. I just have to stay in the habit of working, especially since I am being a little ambitious with my Patreon tiers. I also know that my mind works best on a problem when it’s not solely focused on it. Besides, all I have to do is get them out of the airport to their next haunted location. Easy peasy. I say it’s easy because I’m the author and I’ve never had to deal with an airport.

That’s all that really going on right now. Just me trying to herd all these cats. Wish me luck.

The Four Hundredth and Thirty-First Post: The One Where I Make Mrs. Harkess Happy…

I’m feeling a lot better about things now. I was floundering a little bit with The Show Must Go On, but thanks to some friends (thanks, Grovewood!) I am back to being focused and ready to write. I had a good meeting with my writing group, so I’ve got some work cut out for me as far as Resurrectionist’s Blues go and I’ll get to that later on next week.

I like having everything lined up and humming along. I’m still outlining the Patreon series, and I’ve come to a horrible, horrible truth: I need to outline.

I can tell the difference in between when I outline and when I’m winging it. Winging it is The Show Must Go On: I have long moments of productivity, but when I get stuck in something, everything comes to a screeching halt. Outlining it is the Patreon series: I’m going from scene to scene and making notes, and I don’t feel there’s going to be a problem writing the prose since I have a guide.

Somewhere, my middle school English teacher is laughing.

My big problem is that I go down some weird trails in writing and I’ll end up somewhere I didn’t plan out. Sometimes, that’s good in that if I don’t know where I’m going, there’s little chance the reader will, either. However, like the last writing session I had, I end up in a dark dead end and no clear way out. If I outline, I’m having a map to the end. I’m just worried that a lot of the spontenatiety that I like about writing might be undone.

It’s all still plastic anyways, but I’m going to map out at least the first three books and see how things work out. If I get moderately successful, then I can keep on going (in my head, I have a twenty book series). If I fail, I’ll at least have a trilogy that I can sell on Amazon and bow out. Either way, I am moving forward. I have to move forward and see if I can bring things together.

So – onto other things…anyone seen any good movies? I watched Nope and I am looking for more horror films. The Invitation looks interesting, but I’m not sure about the whole vampire thing. Maybe it’s that I’m tired of vampires being objects of passion. Yes, I know they’re a Victorian Age symbol of lust, but I would like to bring back some fear to them. Let’s be afraid of our dark and forbidden desires, not embrace them and tap our veins like a junkie. Maybe that’s what I’ll do a few years down the road – write a vampire novel that bucks a lot of the conventions we have. Which means I must read a lot of vampire books. Any suggestions?

Well, that’s all for now, hope to talk to y’all later.

The Four Hundred and Twenty-Ninth Post: The One Where I Up My Begging Game!

Well, I am finally climbing onto the Patreon platform (eventually) and trying to see if I can drum up some funds to make book publishing easier for me as far as money is concerned. I’m going to use the epic length progressive fantasy as a reward for various tiers. Since I don’t want to set anything up and not have a reward, it’s not going to be up and active yet. When it is, you’ll get access to chapters and books before they’re published – depending on which tier you take up.

I think this might be the thing to take me out of ‘desperate hobbyist’ and firmly put me into ‘desperate novelist’, but nothing is really put together yet. I need to find a way to distribute e-books to various tiers and see how much Amazon is going to charge me for buying my own books (and not have it count as sales, of course).

I wish I had planned this out sooner, but I had no idea of what I could tie this to, or how to generate rewards. Most of my stuff has an end, and I don’t think people are going to continue funding a novel that’s finished and out the door. With this progressive fantasy, the end isn’t going to happen for a long time. I can hopefully also use the platform to advertise other works and get some more sales.

Speaking of which – I have a question to anyone who is way more computer savvy than me, and it’s one I referenced earlier here. Is there a way to distribute a e-book file through methods like mass e-mail? Do you have any suggestions? The only thing I can think of is through something like Dropbox, but people might not trust the link. I thank everyone in advance for their help. I just want to get everything lined up and right before I start.

The other novel I am seriously working on is coming along okay. Chuck is still steadily descending into obsessive madness in the airport (where I’m sure it’s more common, given what I’ve heard about those places). I’m still trying to keep everything loose as far as ‘is she cheating or not’? I want the reader to come to that conclusion on his or her own. I watched this interesting clip on YouTube about madness in fiction. I’m going to use it as a guide for Chuck to make his descent more engaging.

Well, that’s all for this week. Stay safe out there – apparently people think that the interstates are now Triple A NASCAR fields. Have fun, donate coffee to me and see you soon.

The Four Hundredth and Twenty-Eighth Post: The One Where I Start Stacking Metaphorical Bodies Like Cordwood!

On the horror beat sheet I’m using; I’ve come to something called The Chase. In a slasher movie, this is where the monster chases through the camp, hacking teens getting drunk, high, or naked. This is the pursuit of the monster, and the main characters lack the skills or weapons to defeat it. One or more people may die here.

What do you do when your mind is the monster?

Good question. And I even have an answer.

Chuck – the main character and the owner of the aforementioned monster’s mind – is going to second guess and hound everyone and everything around him. He’s going to chase what little trust he has in his crew and beat it to death with his own suspicions. In this same beat sheet, we have (pardons for the language) The Shit Gets Real. That’s when the first death occurs, and the stakes get higher. In this piece, what’s the first thing to die? Chuck’s trust of Lin. A lot of the death here is metaphorical before we get to the nuts-and-bolts murder. Which is what I wanted to do. The one thing I like about The Tell-tale Heart is that this man is clearly insane, but he feels that the actions spurred on by his insanity is justified by that hideous vulture’s eye. They’re made much worse by the titular heart. This is what I am trying to do with The Show Must Go On. I want the audience to side with Chuck up to a point. That point being murder.

It’s going to be a fun trip when I try to channel my inner obsessive (Chuck’s not the only one with issues, kiddos) and take everyone with me through the enchanted land of Unreliable Narrator. Pack some sunscreen and a sandwich, please. It’s going to be a trip and a half.

The book is coming along in fits and starts, mostly because I have only a solid hour at work to write, but I manage to average six hundred words a day. I’m going to try to write a little more at home after the dust has settled. I should also head back to the gym. Bleeech. I’ve been stuffing my face since vacation and I’m starting to feel it in my jeans. Not much else is going on here, just trying to get another book done and clear my schedule for the epic that I hope will make me some money on Patreon once I get a few chapters under my belt. I’ve almost finished that outline; I just have to nail down the details of the final fight and the aftermath.

Well, have a good day everyone – please feel free to donate to my ko-fi account so I can stay awake. Bye!