Guest Post by one half of Ginger Black – Author of Riverside Lane.

Ginger Black is the pen name for Gaynor Pengelly and Julia Thum, a writing partnership bound together by a love of words and a passion for story telling.

Set in Bray-on-Thames, Gaynor & Julia’s first novel, Riverside Lane, has received high praise and been described as the next ‘Marigold Hotel’.

One half of the writing duo Julia Thum has kindly written a Guest Post about a subject I knew little about (crowd funding) which I hope you will all enjoy.

The Wisdom of Crowds

I am so thrilled to be joining Helen today to tell you a little bit about how my co-author and I raised £9,000 on Kickstarter to crowdfund our first novel. Thank you for having me on your lovely blog Helen.

I had never heard of crowdfunding until we embarked on the path to publication for Riverside Lane.  Now, having raised £9,000 through Kickstarter, I cannot believe this egalitarian, democratic form of publishing passed me by for so long.  I write with Gaynor Pengelly under the pen name Ginger Black and we crowdfunded our first novel, Riverside Lane, published by Momentum Books.
Having  dreamed up and co-written a novel, honed our social media skills and developed the Ginger Black brand, our friends and family already thought we were ambitious, but few understood the most challenging of all projects was yet to come; that of setting up and running a successful crowdfunding campaign.  Indeed, hardly any knew what crowdfunding was,  and therewith stood our first problem.
Stripped down to the bare essentials, crowdfunding our novel involved asking friends, family, colleagues and contacts to pre-order our book.  Most understood this and wanted to help, but once online were bamboozled by jargon.  They were not ‘buying’ but ‘pledging’,   the novel  we had spoken about for so long – wasn’t  a ‘book’ but a ‘project’ for which, instead of a purchase price, they were offered an escalating menu of ‘pledging options’ ranging from  £10 for a paperback to £1,500 for ten hardbacks, launch tickets and rights to our first born children.  Then, like a sponsorship form (but less altruistic) , there was the potential embarrassment of putting their name to the lowest level, ‘pledge’ a measly tenner beside a neighbour’s very public £200.  Or the awkward option of anonymity, risking the assumption they hadn’t joined the fun at all.  From our end, we rode the emotional rollercoaster of friends and colleagues from decades ago reaching out with kind words and pledges-a-plenty and some nearest and dearest avoiding it like an embarrassing plague.  For me, this was the hardest part and I was most grateful to have Gaynor by my side.  Together we smiled through the promise of pledges from friends and family who did not understand that, ‘beneath the bonnet’ of the campaign, we were privy to every penny pledged…..or not pledged as the case may be.
There are two of us so double the contacts, but with £9,000 to raise address books were never going to be enough.  We spread the word through our website and social media and, as Riverside Lane is set in Bray where we live, involved local press and businesses as well as leafletting residents.  And all the while, like a digital thermometer, the funding gradually crept up.
Crowdfunding platforms vary, but Kickstarter pledges are only called in if the target is reached.  We nearly fell short, but a last minute interview with the wonderful Anne Diamond on BBC Berkshire generated the last few pledges we needed and Riverside Lane was on the map.  There was a hardback, a party for pledgers, and the paperback launches this month.
It was a marathon, but worth the effort.  We feel proud of our achievement, learnt a lot along the way and have a beautiful book for our troubles.  Now we’re half way through our second novel for which we hope the path to publication will be straight-forward, but that depends how Riverside Lane sells, so all novelists, our fate still relies on the wisdom of crowds.  They haven’t let us down so far.

 About Riverside Lane

A handsome American with a secret, Luca Tempesta, gets off a plane at Heathrow and heads for a quiet village by the Thames, taking time out, it would appear, for a holiday in the tranquil English backwater.

The local pub, a fine restaurant, church and boat house are where the locals gather, and here Luca discovers an odd assortment of characters: the seemingly wealthy and polished set, others trying hard to make their way into higher society, and curious villagers with surprising stories to be revealed.

As Luca tries to find anonymity, he soon realises that The Village is not such an easy place to hide.

A former spy, a gameshow host, a model, a journalist, the vicar and a biker all play a part in making up the village scene, with secrets lurking at every twist and turn of the river.

When Luca’s secret, along with those of other villagers, is finally revealed and he prepares to leave the village, he takes with him much more than he bargained for.

Set against the cinematic backdrop of a gastronomic village by the Thames, Riverside Lane is a thrilling, vivid page-turner that seeks to understand human behaviour hard-wired for desire, power, love and possession in a traditional society threatened by extraordinary challenges.

Beneath a taut, fast-moving plot, the upstanding residents of Riverside Lane watch and whisper behind a mask of English hauteur whilst their own bipolar lives start to unravel.


I will be posting a guest review on the 29th April to coincide with the paperback launch but if you don’t fancy waiting for the review or the paperback release you can buy Riverside lane from Amazon.

Huge thanks to Julia and I wish you both every success with the book.




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