Tuesday, August 19, 2014

Step into the World of R.M. Clark

Since this week I'm in the process of grounding my computer keyboard into dust (or setting it ablaze), we're going to have the pleasure of getting up close and personal with a few fellow indies.  Today's hot-seat victim is a prolific writer who has a very good understanding of what it means to focus.  He's written "THE END" on nine and soon to be ten novels since delving into the realm in 2007.  Please join me in welcoming to the stage author R.M. Clark!

DAB:      Was there a point in your life that prompted your desire to write or have you always wanted to be an author?

RMC:     I loved creative writing classes in college and even tried writing a bit in my twenties. But it quickly became a low-priority then a no-priority item as I got older. I started writing regularly in 2007 (age 47) when the voices in my head aligned and provided somewhat cohesive words. Now I'm just about done with my tenth novel.

DAB:      What was the catalyst for this novel’s premise?

RMC:     I liked the idea of a long-deceased father providing inspiration for his son through something the father left to be opened later. At first, it was going to an unfinished novel and the son would become enlightened upon finishing it. I changed it to drawings and maps, tossed in a Native American legend and a Revolutionary War angle and ran with it.

DAB:      Do you ever have difficulty writing from the point-of-view of a member of the opposite sex?

RMC:     Most of my novels are first person narratives as told by a female character and I find it no harder or easier than writing from a male perspective. I just mentally project what I'd like the character to say, then wait for the voices in my head to tell me what to write. It works for all characters. Either that or I’ve gone completely mad. It’s a fine line!.

DAB:      We all tend to walk that fine line, don't we?  Who is your favorite character in your novel, and why?

RMC:     I can relate to the main character, Dennis, quite a bit. Although I was never a "professional student" and my father was around, I was what some would call a "late bloomer," much like Dennis. I like Dennis because he's not the typical fictional hero. He takes his time solving the mystery. He lets others do some of the heavy lifting. I most like the fact that he becomes a better person for taking part in his father's adventure. It just goes to show that a father can (and should be) a positive influence long after he's gone. I sure hope I am.

DAB:      How long did your novel take to put to bed?

RMC:     Therein lies a tale. I completed Center Point on Halloween night, 2008, after ten months. I was agent-less at the time, so after I cleaned it up a bit I started querying the manuscript along with another book. I had no luck getting an agent for either, so I submitted CP to several small presses and got offered a contract. A few days later (September 2009) my other book snagged me an agent and agent told me not to sign any contracts for other books until he read them. As my bad luck would have it, I lost the agent in 2010 (and he never read CP). I went back to the offering publisher and this time I signed the contract for a 2012 release. Yay. Then I found out the publisher was broke and switching to a pay-to-play model and I refused and got my rights back. Wait, there is a happy ending. I sent Center Point to the good folks at Writers AMuse Me Publishing in late 2012 and they agreed to publish it. A year later (November, 2013), Center Point was officially released. So it took nearly five years (and a whole lot of heartache) from the start of the first draft to publication and over four years from the time I wrote THE END. 

DAB:      There are so many authors who've walked this same path - I feel for you all!  There's the eternal debate whether to outline or not.  What is your preference?

RMC:     I've never outlined an entire novel, only a few parts. I start with a basic idea then let it take me where it needs to go. I've never had to sell an idea via synopsis to a publisher or editor, so I've been free to let the characters dictate what's going to happen. I never know at the start how any of my books are going to end, yet they've all ended! I know this is inconceivable to some writers but it works for me. I guess that makes me a pantser! 

DAB:     Yay!  A fellow pantser!  What are some things you’ve done to get the word out about your novel(s)?

RMC:     I have the usual social media outlets like Twitter, Facebook and Goodreads. I've made a huge effort to increase this book's visibility by requesting reviews from book bloggers and so far it is working pretty well. I'm also getting interviewed quite a bit and guest hosting on several blogs. It's tough for a small press author to establish a "name" and every little bit of exposure helps. Plus, I have a middle grade book (The Secret at Haney Field: A Baseball Mystery) coming out in September, so I get to double the promotions fun. I don't mind, though. It's part of being a writer.

DAB:      Do you have any writing pointers for the authors in our audience?

RMC:     This may sound harsh, but if you want to write you probably have to give up something else to do it. I'm not talking about abandoning your family or work responsibilities, of course. But I've seen many examples of folks who say they don't have time to write, but will post about the full season of Game of Thrones they watched over the weekend. Pointer #1: The DVR is your enemy. Pointer #2: You're not missing anything. I've watched very few primetime TV shows in seven years, but I have typed THE END nine times, soon to be ten. Writers write. It really is that simple.

DAB:      I hear you!  In our home, the DUH machine is on rarely as well.  Care to tell us what is next on your writing horizon?

RMC:     I have four middle grade books coming out by the end of 2015. The Secret at Haney Field comes out September. Dizzy Miss Lizzie gets republished in November on the two Lizzie follow-ons come out in May, 2015 and November 2015. Plus my agent is trying like mad to get two more books into an editor's hands. Oh, I also have two others in various stages of completion. 

DAB:      Now’s your chance – give us the final plug for your novel.

RMC:     Center Point is a new adult mystery. Cue the back cover wordage:

A list of names, an old map, and a drawing of a Native American warrior named Komaket: these are the items "professional student" Dennis Kozma receives on his twenty-fifth birthday from his father, who died fifteen years ago. Unfortunately, Dennis' memory is tainted by accusations his father defrauded their town.

The map leads Dennis to the graves of the men on the list...members of a secret society awaiting the return of Komaket. While unraveling the mystery of the secret society, Dennis discovers a shocking conspiracy: town officials covered up a dark secret and framed his father.

As he strives to clear his father's name before the long-awaited arrival of Komaket changes his quiet New England town forever, Dennis comes to a startling and fateful realization - nothing is what it seems and all clues lead to the...Center Point.

Center Point is available from the Writers AMuse Me Publishing site (http://www.writersamuseme.com/rmclark.htm#903985084) as well as Amazon, B&N, Smashwords, iBooks and Kobo. Visit my author site to read about all my books: http://www.rmclarkauthor.com

Thanks, R.M. for allowing us a peek into your process and the foibles and trials of the road to publication.  Be sure and check out his books and read more on his website above.

Author Bio:
R. M. Clark is a computer scientist and adult and childrens' book writer who lives in a small New England town with his wife, two sons, one dog and one cat. He is currently at work on his latest mystery.

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