Great Noir Books – Playback

“Guns never settle anything,” I said. “They are just a fast curtain to a bad second act.” – Phillip Marlowe, Playback

Raymond Chandler has a timeless style of writing prose. His words fly off the page just like you are watching a 1940’s humphrey bogart film. Philip Marlow is one of my all-time favorite detectives in fiction, both film and print. He is a flawed hero, with an insatiable drive to understand the truth, and a weakness for women with long legs in sheer stockings.

Image: http://www.paulgormanis.com/?p=4144

In Playback, Marlowe is hired by an unknown entity to tail a redhead (who goes by many names) of which he knows nothing about. After seeing her get leaned on by a two-bit blackmailer, he decides that he would like to help the redhead if he can. But as the story spirals into secrets, conspiracies, and murder, will she let him?

One of the things that I loved about this book is the Femme Fatale is impenetrable. It is impossible to decipher her motives and her actions. She flip flops between telling Marlow to get out of her life and suggesting they run away together.

The book is a quick read, coming in right around 50,000 words, it can be finished in a single rainy day. I am currently working my way through one of Raymond Chandler’s more well known books, The Big Sleep; so fingers crossed for more rainy days!

-Anderson Ryle

DOES KINDLE FREE PROMOTION ADD REAL VALUE? PART 3

screen-shot-2016-10-20-at-9-23-02-am

Ok, so after a couple of weeks, it is clear that the free promotional campaign had no lasting effect on sales. Don’t be fooled by that one red blip at the end, that was a buy and return, so I didn’t get paid for that.

Conclusions:

  1. Free promotional can get your ebook in the hands of readers. Even this very obscure article on a very obscure topic was downloaded 15 times due to a free promo.
  2. Free downloads does not necessarily translate to paid downloads. It would seem that you need to hit some critical mass of downloads and reviews before the free promo really helps move your ebook.
  3. Maybe doing five solid days of free promo was not ideal. There was definitely a drop off in downloads throughout the 5 day period. Maybe next time i will do one or two days at a time.

I would love to hear what kind of results other indie writes have gotten from their kindle promotional. Let me know in the comments.

-Anderson Ryle

The Back Doors of Fancy Places – Live

 

TheBackDoorsToFancyPlaces-FINAL-SmlResA woman with a green cigarette, a murder with no body, and a mysterious catamaran named the ‘Midnight Sun’. The private eye’s past cases come back to haunt him as he realizes that they are more entangled than he could have ever guessed.

-The Back Doors of Fancy Places is a dark short story that explores many quintessential noir themes, and it is available now as a kindle ebook on Amazon.com!

Click here to view in the kindle store!

I’m super excited to have this short story available, and I hope to find time to write some more noir soon. If you are interested in this story, but would like to see a bit of my writing, I would recommend reading some of the short stories that I have posted on this blog: Newspaper NoirThe DeveloperSavage Country

If you like what you read here, please get a copy of The Back Doors of Fancy Places, and leave me a comment here to let me know how you liked it.

-Anderson Ryle

 

Does Kindle Free Promotion Add Real Value? Part 1

A few months ago I published a Kindle eBook. It is merely a brief article that articulates the current research and status of a particular (and little known) renewable energy source. I published it as a test run for some of the fiction that I am still gearing up to publish, and since it has such a specific scope, I did not expect it to make any sales.

I was correct.

It was published on June 16, 2016, at a cost of $2.99, enrolled in Kindle Select, and sat completely dormant. In mid July, someone “borrowed” it, and it did not have enough normalized pages for Amazon to bother paying me the 0.6 cents that I had earned.

From mid July to mid September it sat dormant again, until a copy was purchased from amazon.ca; this surprised me enough to be curious about the title, and if there was any way to boost those sales. That’s when I remembered that ebooks enrolled in Kindle Select were eligible for 5 days of free promotional during each enrollment period.

So I thought, why not experiment with this promotional tool, to see what kind of effect it has on sales. My ebook has to be a good control group because I have no built in audience, it addresses an extremely narrow field, possesses no reviews, and has so far been virtually dead on arrival.

The next question then is how to quantify the value added by the promotion. Since previous to the promotion, the only sales came from canada, and the exchange fees made my final deposit $0.07, I will ignore them and only count sales from the USA. Paid sales from the USA prior to the promotion were 0. So “Real Value” will consist of paid sales from the USA after the promotion.

Promotion Details:
I decided to start the promotion on a Wednesday, and run it through the weekend to Sunday. This uses all 5 free promotion days in one shot. Maybe next time I will try something different. I decided not to discount the book, but make it completely free, from $2.99.

Current Status:
The promotion is currently in day 2, and free downloads spiked from o to 5 on the first day. Today, it is at 2 downloads, but fingers crossed for more. Some of those free downloads came from Australia and the UK. So the promotion can get even a very unsuccessful book up to a few downloads. I’m not holding my breath for it to continue after the promotion ends; however, if it does trickle in a few sales for my ebook, imagine what it could do for a more readable ebook, with a bigger audience, and an author who is actually trying to make it successful!

screen-shot-2016-09-29-at-12-21-12-pm

I’ll post the results when I see what kind of effect this promotional will have!

Anybody else have experience running promotions on their Kindle eBooks?

-Anderson Ryle

We Were Like Brothers

We were like brothers, you and I. We played little league together out in that dead-end, redneck town that we grew up in. We got a little older and we shot Holy Hoops every Tuesday night at the Tabernacle, where they treated your mom like shit when it all went down. We stayed up nights at the gas station talking about every damn thing under the sun.

You went fishing with me at midnight down by the river, just because I needed to get out of my house for a while. Your little sister was with us, and her boyfriend too. it’s hard to believe that they have a kid now. And there was that one damn lamp that wouldn’t stop flickering.

And wasn’t I there for you every time that you needed a friend? Wasn’t I there for you when you broke up through a text message because she didn’t have the decency to say it to your face?

Wasn’t I there to cheer you on when you lost 30 pounds in a single month by eating healthy and walking 10 miles every day? Wasn’t I there to support you when the back seat of your truck was full of McDonalds wrappers and you had undone all the progress you had made?

Wasn’t I there when your youngest sister went bat-shit crazy and tried to gouge out your little sister’s eye? I maybe didn’t know what to say, or how to say it, but I was there for you.

And wasn’t I at the hospital after your dad had a heart attack while he was driving down the highway? It was you, me, your little sister, and your little sister’s friend who turned out not to be her friend. We stayed there for hours just praying that he’d make it through.

And when you were so scared of the idea of going to community college, because you thought you were too dumb and too worthless, wasn’t I there to tell you that you could do it? And you were so excited when you finished your first semester and you didn’t just pass, but you actually did well!

And then you got your new job, and you made your new friends, and you didn’t register for the next semester, and you wouldn’t even talk to me and tell me what was going on. But didn’t I keep trying to get through when you stopped answering my calls? And when you finally came clean about all the drugs to your mom, who was downstairs just happy to have her son back, you told me that every time you saw my name show up on your phone you knew that I hadn’t given up on you, but you couldn’t face talking to me because you knew that I wouldn’t approve. But I wasn’t even judging you! I just wanted to be there for you, like I always had been. Through whatever shit came your way.

You asked me to forgive you for shutting me out for so long. And I did. I forgave you without reservation. I was just so happy to have my friend back. But I’d be lying if I said that sometimes I wish I hadn’t. Sometimes I wish I had told you to go to hell. Sometimes I wish that I had said, ‘Fuck you. Get out of my damn life. You always pull this shit on me, and I always forgive you, but not anymore. I’m not going to be hurt by you another fucking time.’ But I didn’t say that, because that’s not what you’re supposed to say. And damn it, I wanted to forgive you because I wanted to believe that I could really get my friend back.

I don’t know where you are now. You moved to Kentucky for a while, and I talked to you once or twice. But then you moved around some more, and you got a new phone, and you didn’t bother giving me the new number. You didn’t even bother giving me a call.

I know you’re out there somewhere. I know that you’re with the girl who you were with when we met. You two were on again off again all through high school, dated other people in your late teens and early twenties, just to wind up with each other again, back where you both started. I hope she’s good for you. I hope you’re good for her.

I just wish we were still friends.

Great Neo Noir Films: The Long Goodbye (1973)

Unknown

The Long Goodbye is a favorite of mine. It offers everything that you could ask for from a 1970’s noir film. A complex mystery that you have to have engage with as a viewer, a host of characters who you don’t know if you can trust, and an ending that is as satisfying as it is thoroughly disappointing. A true noir film to its very core.

As Marlow delves into the mystery of his friend’s wife’s death, the puzzle becomes more and more complex. It is important to remember that this film is not a thriller, but rather, possesses a slow deliberate pacing that matches the detective’s character to a tee. The film does an excellent job of painting a bleak picture of society, especially by contrasting Marlow’s character with almost every other major character in the story. Marlow is trying to do the right thing and find out what really happened, while the rest of the characters are selfish, and exist in a world of moral ambiguity. As the detective drifts through this self serving society, it is clear that he can make no allies in his quest; he stands alone, but can he himself rise above the level of those around him?

I hesitate to discuss the film any further, as I would hate to ruin it for anyone who has not seen it. Lets just end our discussion by reiterating the film’s tagline, “Nothing says goodbye like a bullet”

-Anderson Ryle

Savage Country

“Do you want to play guns?” he asked me.

This was a complicated question, and while I stood not knowing what to say, the summer heat beat down through the cloudless Virginia sky. Twenty years has gone by now, and each summer heat wave brings back this vivid memory. It will forever be with me, as clear as it was that day when I was eight.

A dozen or so boys watched me, waiting to hear my answer, and not one of them seemed to notice the oppressive humidity hanging thickly about us. The leader of the horde stood out in front, eyes fixed on me, with a toy cap gun in each hand.

The first part of the question that my eight-year-old brain had to address was this boy’s use of the word ‘guns’. He said it like ‘guns’ was an activity. In my universe, guns are not an activity; guns are things, guns are objects, guns are weapons, and guns can be used for many activities, but they are not activities. They can be used for hunting, or warfare, or even the occasional wild west duel that takes place at high noon on a hot summer day with the hero only seconds faster than the crooked sheriff who finally, finally got what was coming to him, but guns, in my universe, were not an activity.

In my world, as an eight year old boy who grew up playing games like, Boggle, and Scrabble, and the magnificent Trivial Pursuit, ‘playing guns’ did not compute. So I stood there silent for a moment as this other eight-year-old boy watched me, his mouth held open slightly, and all the other boys crowding in behind him also brandishing toy weapons of various kinds. They looked for all the world like a tribe of savages. Some were shirtless, some had skinned knees, and one even had an unnoticed booger hanging from his nose. But every one of them burned by the sun under which they played each summer day. They all looked at me like they didn’t understand why I wasn’t responding, as if they couldn’t have asked a simpler question.

But as I mentioned before, his question was multifaceted. I tried to step out of my universe and into some crazy parallel universe where ‘guns’ was an activity. The question then hinged around the rest of his sentence, ‘do you want to…’ Now that was a loaded question, pardon the pun. Did I want to…what? What did ‘playing guns’ entail? I had no way of knowing what I was signing up for. If I said ‘yes’, would I be resigning myself to an afternoon of getting stung by humming steel pellets fired from the smoking mouth of Red Rider BB guns? Entirely possible. I didn’t know what these booger-nosed hooligans were capable of. The mere savagery of that undetected booger was simply beyond my comprehension. A boy who can look another human in the face while standing there in such a state, well, he must be capable of anything. Saying ‘yes’ was right out of the question.

But to say ‘no’, now, there was another conundrum. If I said ‘no’ to the prospect of ‘playing guns’ without knowing what in involved, well I could be passing up on the greatest event of my life. The day I kissed Sally from School was good, but ‘playing guns’… that could be monumental. An eight year old goes to play with savages; he leaves a boy, he comes back a man. I could see the headlines already! The radio broadcasts! The cinema posters! I was sure that to say ‘no’ would be closing the door on one of life’s great opportunities… forever.

“How do you play guns?” I asked back at him.

The tribe’s leader looked at me like I was an alien from outer space assuming the form of an eight-year-old human boy. His eyes scanned my tucked in polo shirt and my khaki pants, and it was as if a realization dawned on his face. He knew right then that I really was an alien from outer space, at least an alien from a different city, a different suburb, and a whole different way of life. He realized that I had a whole different culture, and he didn’t hold it against me for a minute.

He just held out a Smith and Wesson replica cap gun and said, “You take this one, and shoot at me, and I’ll take the other and shoot at you.” He paused for a moment, looking at me to see if I understood, and then finished with, “It’s every man for himself.”

I took the toy six-shooter in my little hand, and I swear I grew six inches taller. My universe turned on its head. My world flipped upside down. But never for one minute did I want anything else. In my old universe there was order, there was reason, there were games that have boards, and rulebooks, and winners and losers. But here, out here in savage country, there were no rules; there was mayhem. Glorious mayhem. No winners. No losers. Just endless hours of joy serenaded by the pap-pap-pap of the cap guns, and the happy hollers of eight year old boys. Eight-year-old boys being eight-year-old boys.