Posts Tagged ‘characters’

To promote or not to promote?

If so…When? Where? How? How often?FB Cover_seal_small

These are the questions that an indie author faces.

Do I have the answer?

Hell no!

Before my anthology, ‘Blondes, Books, & Bourbon‘, came out, I was going to be attending the Ad Astra Toronto Convention. To promote my work, I printed up business cards with a scan code. I passed out these cards to any and all who would take one. My hope? That people would, in fact, download and read my work. From this, I hoped whatever number did take advantage of the offer, a portion of those would enjoy the stories enough to purchase, ‘Tomorrow Wendell‘, the novel set in the same universe.

BBB review & banner 4

For almost a month before the convention I plugged hard – including mentioning about the free give away on any Ad Astra related site I could. I made pictures that had the book covers and quotes from reviewers and shuffled which ones I posted on Facebook and Twitter every day. I tried my hardest to both be constantly in the faces of anyone who might see these posts and yet find a line where I kept them engaged in the posts without just being the same ‘billboard’ over, and over, as they drove down the street. Because lets face it…there are thousand of such billboard lining the social media highway and it is too easy to be jaded, even to the things you love.

What was the result? Well, there was a definite sales upswing during that period recorded on my quarterly report. The question is – was it worth it? I spent many hours tailoring these posts, and responding to posts, and working hard to get people to seriously think about purchasing my books. It was not something I would really want to do 365 days a year… nor do I think I could, while maintaining any sanity or time to write. It was nice to see what appeared to be a direct correlation from the work to the sales – but it was also a bit disheartening because I knew I could’t keep it up.

So if ngamblingot time invested to bump sales, what about money? Answer? I don’t have enough of it to find out. I suppose I could horde all profits from sales until I have enough to pay some decent agency/group to promote me and then after a year compare sales… but I have other uses for that money. I guess maybe I’m just not a gambler at heart.

I used to write for the love of writing and because I had to get the damn voices in my head to shut up. Recording them was the only way to do it. I still try to do it for the love of the plot, characters, and the simple joy of creating a world from words, but the pay-check – big or small – it changes that. No matter how hard I try, my brain slips to the business side. Should I be spending more time on social media – more sites, more clever promotion gambits? What am I doing wrong – what did I do right?

It’s no wonder writers are so often considered to be insane… the job drives us there. I have no answer except one – write for the love. I’m going to try my hardest to follow my own advice on this but, as I’m sure you’ve noticed, even this post is a promotion. ~sigh~

My life has become… busy. Oddly, delightfully, busy.

With my lady and I returning to the Society of Creative Anachronism (SCA), parts of my life that were ‘shut down’ and no longer used are back in operation – full tilt. There are many skills, and desire to learn more skills, that lay dormant in me when I wasn’t in the SCA. That was because there was no reason, or form, for the skills to be channelled through. That is now flooded forward as the SCA gave me opportunity and reason to reuse them.

Mean while, I also have started the edits for the next White Dragon Black novel, ‘Bindings & Spines’, with my editor, McKenna Gardner, from Xchyler Publishing. They are not going fast right now, due to ‘life’ on both our sides of the process. However, I am in that phase which means, an actual publication is not too distant. We have the cover art all done, and Luke Spooner at Carrion House has once more created the right look, and atmosphere, with his art.

Bindings and Spines1

I have recently taught myself how to do repousse and chasing. I’ve in no way mastered it but I’ve had enough success and fun doing it, I will certainly continue to improve and utilize that skill.

Tongue brooch pair

I’ve just challenged myself, in court, before Her Majesty, to carve a rosary from bone and tagua nut or ‘vegetable ivory’ in a year (or less). I’ve worked with bone in the past but using a Dremel tool – so doing it by hand will be a big learning curve for me.
I’ve also bought some Amber to play with and find it a very interesting material to work with, much like soapstone but… well, not. It does smell rather nice as you gently file away the unwanted parts, though.

As for writing, there hasn’t been too much of that. However, as I suspected might happen, now that the weather is turning cooler, and I’m immersing myself in the Jonathan Alvey’s world with edits, the snippets and short scenes are returning to my head. I don’t know if it’s my Muse finally being able to to get into my distracted brain, or if it’s that she didn’t decide I should be allowed new words until now. Either way, it will be nice to create things with words again.

I actually have a strong leaning to get back to a zombie novel I started, long ago.


I still like the premiss of it and the world it resides in, so I might just allow a hiatus from the WDG world and see about writing it. Or maybe my Muse will feel I’m not doing enough and get me working on both worlds at the same time.
The style and emotional input would be drastically different than I have written in a while, perhaps that would be a good thing. Changing your thinking every so often, keeps the regular day, in day –  day out, fresher and more interesting.

With my rejoining the SCA, its associated new projects, and ‘jobs’ to do, I fell out of my habit and routine here on social media. I managed to get my Twitter habit back and now I’m attempting to implement my blogging again as well. Maybe I’ll can get back to sharing updates… now in a wide range of interests.

My life over the past couple months has been taken unexpected turns. It’s not all bad, I don’t even know if, in retrospect, any of it has been ‘bad’, actually.

I stopped writing, not so much by choice or even lack of motivation / creativity, but because of ‘real’ life interfering. I was too busy cutting wood to keep the house warm, and working on making the truck run to really have time to sit and write. When I did find time, I was too worn out to actually do so.

Then my wife said that we were going to be active again in the Society for Creative Anachronism. I wasn’t necessarily being bitten my the bug to do so, though I had been on and off for the past decade. I didn’t complain because is was clearly a good thing for her. I knew, once we started playing, I’d be swept up in the life and that has proved true.

When this decision was made, I was already getting to the point where less time was being taken up by wood cutting, due to warmer weather. I had more free time, but wasn’t quite in the zone to write. Instead, I threw my creative energy into what I used to do last time we played SCA – jewelry making. By jewelry making, I mean carving / shaping bronze, and brass, bone and wood, into ornaments, decorated my hand shaped glass ‘gems’ all in the style of 1500’s venetian period. It is an exacting, creatively challenging, hobby that is very rewarding.Maiden's Heart #1full copy

So, in one way, I’m glad I wasn’t writing when this life change happened, because I would have found it harder to adjust and slip back into the life. I have plan on stopping writing. I honestly don’t think I could, even with the ‘new’ distraction. In point of fact, my mind is percolating, starting to work on a short story I started months back. working a short story is a good way to get back into the rhythm, I find. From there, delving back into the novel will be easier to accomplish.

When will this start? Saturday. How can I know? Because tomorrow, I go to Windsor for my twice annual cat sitting job which is always a writing retreat – a stimulus for getting the words out and onto the screen. I’m looking forward to it, the zen of writing, the enjoyment of submersing myself into another world. I am also packing the equipment needed to work on jewelry, so that I can have both creative outlets available to me. I will have the time, and the desire, and plan on indulging.

If I have any doubt about getting back to writing – or the value of completing another short story – all I have to do is look at the reviews coming in for my second released book, Blondes, Books, & Bourbon. The anthology has been getting some very encouraging things said about it :

anthology 5* – “I loved this book even more than Mr. Ridley’s previous one, Tomorrow Wendell, which BTW is also about Jonathan Alvey and is super awesome! I absolutely loved all the stories and will re-read them very soon (yes, it’s that good!) All the stories are unique and adventurous… Mr. Ridley has created something more than just a likeable character, he’s created a character sensation. Jonathan Alvey is an extremely well developed and an amazingly crafted character”

5* – “Ridley opened this anthology with an interview that will make the hairs on the back of your neck stand up and an even bigger reaction in your brain to continue on reading.
If you haven’t read the first book in the series, Tomorrow Wendell, you’ll still enjoy this collection and get to know Jonathan Alvey, as well as a few other recurring characters”

5* – “Ok so I want to start out by saying I have a strong dislike for short stories in general. But I really enjoyed the time I spent with each one of these. Alvey is an awesome main protagonist that is easy to get along with and root for… I never felt lost reading these stories, and I was never just wanting to get onto the next one either. I can honestly say I like each and every one of them. Even if you haven’t read Tomorrow Wendell you’ll have no problem keeping up or getting to know Alvey…If you like magic and the supernatural in your stories, then Blondes, Books, and Bourbon: A White Dragon Black Anthology is for you. If you’ve never really tried out a detective story, then this is the one I would recommend finding out with. Great writing, amazing characters and fun yet creepy new monsters you don’t normally run into.”

5* – “This is an amazing read, although short stories, all the stories are linked through Mr. Jonathan Alvey and this is a unique collection that reads like an amazing novel. The reader follows Private investigator Alvey as he takes on paranormal cases. I won’t go into each one but just know they are interesting and compelling cases that will have the reader glued to this amazing anthology… This is an amazing book and the author has done a wonderful job creating a special story. Believe me this is a do not miss story!”

5* – “Alvey is a fantastic homage to the hardboiled detective fiction of old with a fresh insertion of the mystical and arcane. Conjuring images of rot-gut bourbon, duplicitous dames and dangerous foes, Ridley manages to channel some of the best traditions left over from the old school of detective fiction… Full of intrigue, danger and bleak humour – the stories in Blondes, Books and Bourbon not only expand on the world Ridley introduced us to in his debut novel Tomorrow Wendell, but rather supersede it.”

I know – I know… I have been remiss in my postings. I place all the blame, squarely on Winters shoulders. That bitch had me in a strangle hold, and it’s hard to type when your fingers are frozen.

My routine, the entirety of my days, was all about getting wood ready for the furnace to keep warm. I had little time of my own, and less energy when I got it.

Also my truck wasn’t running, which added a level of stress, and time consumption, which didn’t help matters any.

I haven’t written in — an embarrassingly long time.

All this is beginning to change, as does the weather. Warmer days, and nights, means less wood consumption, which means more free time, which means an ability to return to usual habits.

My truck is running now (why she wasn’t before remains a bit of a mystery) although I do need to take her into the mechanic today – her axel U-joints are in bad shape. So I have to drive into town and spend money we don’t quite, really, have. But there is not to do about it especially when I look at the next month and see the travel we want to put on her.

This weekend we go to London for the SCA event ‘Winter War’ – or first event in over a decade. In a little over a week, I go to Windsor to watch my sisters cats again, and thus want to be sure I leave my wife a working vehicle – especially as she is going to be coming into Windsor for another SCA event during that that time. When I am done my cat sitting duties, I then get to go to the Ad Astra Convention, which I have been looking forward to since… well, November. That’s in Toronto, which a couple hours drive from me… so truck running = good.

The truck must be fixed, and so she will be.

anthologyOn top of all this, my White Dragon Black anthology ‘Blondes, Books, & Bourbon’ comes out this Friday the 13th (actually you can get the paperback now from Amazon – HERE)

So this month won’t quite be ‘routine’ but it’s will be a good break from what Winter was doing to me, and get my brain back on the right track. Hopefully soon, I’ll be back to posting about word counts, and story arcs, and characters.

I have managed the last two days to get in decent morning writing sessions. Redemption’s Child progresses and I’ve reach the first real ‘excitement’ scene. I hope that from this point on the tension, and action just keep escalating. This novel promises to be both very entertaining to me to write, and yet challenging as well.

As I see it, the breathing spaces in the story should come further, and further, apart and be shorter, and shorter, each time. A rising pace through out the novel, that – hopefully – had the reader flicking the pages towards the climax with greater enthusiasm and need.

A story can’t be all action, without some pauses, it simply becomes too much – almost boring – I plan to keep this  in mind as I go. There is also an emotional aspect, regarding what my protagonist is going through, as the story progresses, that needs to be shown. This will help both give small breaks in the action while giving more impact and tension during the action scenes.

I’m worried about my portrayal of the child that Jonathan is watching over. I don’t have much exposure to children in my life, and thus don’t have real world experience to draw on. I do expect  that anything which rings too false or contrary, will be brought to my attention by my beta-reader as she does have such experiences to compare to.

For now, as always, I write. I write without judging or worrying. I write the tale as it is shared with me by my Muse – all other aspects will be dealt with when the novel is edited.