S.R.Claridge writes Mystery and Romantic Suspense novels. Her work has been said to have the energy of Dan Brown, the mystery of Mary Higgins Clark and the humor of Janet Evanovich. Claridge novels will take you to the edge of your seat, keep you guessing until the very end and ultimately warm your heart. It is on the pages of every S.R.Claridge novel that Mystery and Sensual Suspense collide.

For more information on bookings, interviews and upcoming releases, please visit the author website and Facebook fan page.

Friday, August 30, 2013

Red or Blue...Which Pill is for You?

A Tale of Truth:  How I Came to Choose the Red Pill

Once upon a time I wrote a book.  Several months later my book was nominated for the Molly Award and I signed a publishing contract with Vanilla Heart.  I was on cloud nine.  It felt as if my dreams were finally coming true.  Excitedly, I wrote another book and another and another, until I had completed eight full-length novels and one short story; all in less than three years.  Vanilla Heart published them all.

 One day, I wrote to my publisher and asked, “When will I find out how many books I have sold?”

“As soon as I get all of the reports from the distributors,” she replied.  “And they are always late with reporting.”

 I waited and then a couple of months later I asked again, “Are my books selling?  Am I doing something wrong?  Do I need to promote differently or market to other channels?”  You see, people were telling me that they had read my books and yet I wasn’t seeing sales numbers to validate their words.  I thought people were lying to me just to make me feel good.

 “You’re doing fine, hon,” my publisher said.  “This is a marathon, not a sprint.”

So I went back to work.  It might be a marathon but I was going to sprint my way through it.   What I mean is, I was determined to do all I could to market my work.  I visited book clubs, did book signings, purchased advertising in every brochure and playbill I could afford.  I ran ads on Facebook, mailed out postcards, ran press releases and a monthly newsletter.  I coordinated a blog tour, participated in blog hops, conducted author interviews and submitted my work to various review sites. 

Then, I went back to my publisher and asked, “Are my books selling?”

“You’re doing great, hon,” she responded.  “Your sales are right where they should be for a newer author,” she explained.

 “Yes, but, what does that mean?” I questioned.  “Which books are selling best?  What format sells best?”  I begged for information so that I would know how and where to devote my marketing and promotional efforts going forward.

 “Just keep doing what you’re doing,” she said.

 What was I doing right?  What was I doing wrong?  It felt as if I was spinning my wheels, chasing my own tail and ultimately getting nowhere.  My royalty checks, when I actually received one, were demotivating and I began to feel like I was more of a failure than I had ever been before.  I began to tell myself that there was no sense in writing another book because no one wanted to read my work.

As if she could sense I was on the verge of giving up, my publisher would call with some new idea of what she was going to do to promote my work.  She’d shroud me with motivation and hope, but something on the inside began to feel very hollow.  There was little follow-through on all of the promises.  There was no reporting of royalties, no statements or a breakdown of sales; and when a royalty check arrived, it was a miniscule amount and always months late. 

How is it that the harder I have worked to promote my books, the less I am selling?  I began to wonder.  Something wasn’t right. 

Sometimes reality is a bitter sweet pill.  As much as I wanted to believe everything was on the up-and-up, believing that meant that I was a failure as a writer.  Believing that meant that my books weren’t selling and that no one wanted to read my work.  But… if I didn’t believe everything was on the up-and-up, it meant that my publisher was shady and accepting that truth opened a whole other can of worms.  If she’s cheating me out of royalties then I would most certainly terminate my contracts with her, and if I break away from her, what becomes of me?  Will my books disappear forever?  Will someone else want to publish my work?  What if nobody wants me?

I wanted so badly to believe my publisher was being honest, but I couldn’t ignore the sinking feeling in my gut, not to mention the evidence that was piling up. 


It’s difficult to explain the feeling of teetering on the edge of truth and ignorance, knowing you must choose one.  You must either be willing to turn a blind eye and live in ignorance or you must be willing to accept the pain that might come with a truth you don’t want to face.  As I mulled over everything, I was reminded of the 1999 movie, The Matrix.  In the movie, Neo is offered a choice between a red pill and a blue pill. The blue pill will allow him to remain in the fabricated reality of the Matrix.  The red pill would lead to his escape from the Matrix and thrust him into the real world.

There I sat, asking myself, “Blue pill or red pill?”  Should I dwell in the blissful ignorance of illusion or embrace the painful truth of reality?  If I chose truth, my eyes would forever be opened and there would be no turning back.

This decision churned in my stomach like a soupy, sour mess that made me want to vomit and drove me to tears.  But, as evidence of wrongdoing began to pile higher and higher, what choice did I have? 

With trembling fingers I took the red pill, placed it on my tongue and swallowed.  It felt as if the ground beneath my feet disappeared and I was falling.  Consumed by fear I fought what felt like a suffocating whirlwind, pulling me downward and then, all of a sudden, I was lifted on the wings of truth and I realized I wasn’t falling; I was flying.  I was no longer being tossed by the winds of deceit, I was soaring above it.

With the lies now gone, I had a clear view of my options and a clearer picture of who I am as a writer and as a novelist.  I was selling books, a lot of books, more books than my publisher ever let on.  I wasn’t a failure.   I’m not a failure, but had I continued to believe what Vanilla Heart was telling me, I would never have known.   The truth, as scary as it was to face, has set me free from a bondage that had done more damage to my self-confidence and self-image than I ever imagined it could.  My publisher didn’t just rob me of royalties, she was robbing me of my self-worth.   The blue pill of ignorant bliss was slowly poisoning me, but the red pill of harsh reality brought me back to life.

I’ve received numerous emails from other authors sharing their experiences with unethical publishers.  I’m sorry that any of us have had to endure this injustice.  It breaks my heart, but better to have your heart broken and come out wiser than to have your spirit broken and end up weaker.

Authors… if you’re in a situation right now where you are teetering on the edge of truth and ignorance… if you have that stinging, gut-wrenching sensation that something isn’t right…and you’re wondering, like I did, what will become of you and your work if you stand up for what you deserve and stand against unethical practices…  
Don’t let fear immobilize you.  The big picture is overwhelming, but like my husband always says, “You can’t eat an elephant all at once…you have to do it one bite at a time.” 
When you’re facing a bunch of red flags, let your first bite be the red pill and the rest will fall into place.


Red or Blue…which pill is for you?




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