The Three Hundred and Ninety-sixth Blog Post: The One Where I Declare Holiday!

So…I’m on vacation, and I am not going to force the writing this week. I did write on Saturday (3K!) and a little on Sunday, but for the past three days I’ve maybe tossed down a couple of words here and there. I’ve been mostly catching up with friendly correspondence. And buying pens. But I can quit when I want.

Really.

My mind’s been going back to The Truth Will Out every now and then, so what I might do is finish this current Valentina novel, then go back to The Truth. Maybe I can get that one finished, then work on Immigrant Voices and for the final book, work on a comedy. Follow up The Dreaded Day Job with something.

Comedy’s not easy, and horror’s in my blood.

I’m not stressing out this week because it is a vacation. If I write, I can write. If I’m not in the mood, then that’s fine. No stress. Let me restock the well and let my subconscious feel things out for various problems (How will Cadie get over her insistence on not dating people she’s working with? Should Abigail die on camera? Would Guru Joe call it a Christmas party or a winter festival?). As much as I am a workaholic when it comes to writing, I realize I need to rest.

Next week – more pens, more nibs to fix a pen, more ink and a new notebook because that’s what I need. More notebooks. Give me notebooks.

I just need to take a couple of days off (Thanks Bioshock!) and get my mind a bit of a rest. It’s not going to be easy because I have something of an obsessive personality. I’ll be fine.

But seriously – if you like me, send me notebooks. Blank books, composition books, spiral books. If I buy them, my wife will more than likely punish me with more dishes to wash.

I am still writing Valentina’s Repast, and I am getting the two characters together (Cadie and Valentina), snd I’m just trying to every now and then find the worse possible time for something to go wrong with Valentina, it happens and it’s really gotten me a couple of good scenes. Just right now – Cadie doesn’t date people that she’s invested in, and Valentina can only kill so many prostitutes before they start putting two and two together. I just need some sort of justification to let Cadie date and/or sleep with Valentina, so Valentina can get the permission to kill Cadie.

So – while I work on this problem and immerse myself in one of my favorite horror video games, please feel free to check out my other works, give me some coffee (please) and leave some nice reviews.

Thanks for stopping by!

The Three Hundred and Ninety-fifth blog post: The One That Will Not Get Me the Howard Tayler Award…

Howard Tayler is a webcomic artist and a panelist on my favorite writer’s podcast called “Writing Excuses”. His webcomic Schlock Mercenary has been continuously updating once a day, every day from June 12th, 2000 to July 24th, 2020.

My record is…less than stellar.

However, I have been working on the sequel to Valentina’s Feast and I’ve been doing something a little different. At random moments, I’ve been asking myself ‘what is the worst thing to happen right now?’ It’s really led me to a couple of moments where I’ve had to write myself out of a particularly deep hole. It’s also illuminated some things about my characters that I never really considered. Valentina’s disturbed by violence to the point of vomiting at the memory of stabbing someone, but when she flips out, she’s utterly sadistic. I recommend it sometimes when you think you’re stuck in something. It makes it fun.

I’m about halfway through the novel, and I have to start working on the weakest part – the romance. I’m not a particularly skilled romance writer, so I’m trying to take my time with this and get some of it right the first go-round.

Another piece of advice to writers: take your time. I know it’s hard to say in the face of the era of ‘nanosecond gratification’, but your fans (in my case, all three) will thank you for it.

The horror should be the main focus of this book, but the romance is there and it’s something I’m going to have to write. Thankfully, most of this book is from Valentina’s plot of view, so I can squeeze in a cartoon reference when things slow down.

This is going to be a little short because I’ve run out of things to say (sorry) and I want to get this back up to updating on Thursdays again. With that being said – I hope everyone has a good day and I look forward to hearing from you all at some point.

The Three Hundred and Ninety-Fourth Post: The One Where I Draw a Line in the Sand, In Spite of the Oncoming Wave…

I‘ve submitted my work to the editor on June 1st, as of the writing of this blog post (July 31st), I haven’t heard anything yet. In the spirit of ‘I’ve got to do something’, I am going to release Valentina’s Feast under the pseudonym of Kellas Donovan (because it’s horror) on October 29th, with pre-sale orders coming two weeks beforehand. I need to make one more change, then I am going to call it done and let it go out into the world.

Am I nervous about it? You bet, but I have to let this out soon or not at all. Does it feel done to me? Nope. I can sit here and fret over it until the heat death of the universe and never let it see the light of day. That’s not progress, though. It has to be released, it has to be out and I have to put it out into the wild and take my lump so that I can grow as an artist.

It’s a good story, but I feel that there are better people to tell it. This is the big problem I have: self-confidence. I feel good, but I never think I am going to progress beyond ‘interested amateur’. In spite of the sales I’ve made, in spite of the reviews I get, I never feel good enough.

But that’s not why we’re here. I have already started working on the sequel, and hopefully I will get that out in time to capitalize on any goodwill generated from the first book. Given that I wrote over a thousand words so far today and I’m in the fifth chapter (promise, no spoilers). This is a good sequel, and I am making really good progress in it!

I may not be good, but I will be prolific. Can’t dazzle them with brilliance? Baffle them with bullshit.

Speaking of brilliance – head over to the right side of the screen and check out some of my books, and books written by people much, much better than me. Have a good day, and I’ll see you in the next one.

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.