Tuesday, 10 May 2016

Ruby's Been a Busy Little Ninja

HBS Author's Spotlight features yours truly today with details of what I've been writing and what I have planned for the future. Please click the link and go take a look! http://hbsauthorspotlight.blogspot.ie/2016/05/ra-barnes-author-interview-at-hbs.html

Tuesday, 3 November 2015

Ruby Reviews Mordred's Victory & Other Martial Mutterings

This non-fiction title is a collection of blog posts by Jamie Clubb, the founder of Club Chimera Martial Arts. I’ve never read the author’s blog but the chapters of this book are plenty long enough (not always the case with books formed from a collection of blog posts) and they group very nicely into the four sections of the book. Also worth a mention is the writing style which makes for easy reading while delivering enough detail to satisfy. The author manages to get his knowledge and experience across without preaching or condescension. Extensive use of reference material provides further credibility and the seven page list of those references provides a great starting point for those who might wish to delve further into martial arts reading.

The first section is titled Martial Mutterings and provides some very interesting background to the various combat sports that are known as the martial arts. If the reader is a martial artist (such as myself, I’m a karate practitioner) then these chapters help to place your sport in the martial universe. Jamie Clubb’s leaning is obviously towards self-defence and he begins to hint that many martial arts are not really practical in that sense, but he deals fairly with the validity of the different disciplines and clearly has a great breadth of experience.

Self-Protection is the second section and here the author begins to deal with his own special area of focus – how to be emotionally prepared and physically secure in the increasingly physically threatening modern environment. The four tenets of Club Chimera – Respect, Awareness, Courage and Discipline – are delved into with unassailable logic. The section concludes with some very interesting suggestions on pre-emptive strikes, proactive training and pressure testing. Having myself trained with four very different karate clubs over thirty years, I can appreciate the acid testing that is needed for effective self-defence. All too often martial artists can become deluded about the effectiveness of their carefully perfected, artistic techniques.

Reality Training for Children deals with the thorny issue of exposing children to the threats of twenty-first century life and finding ways for them to handle such situations. The first step is to train the teachers, as genuine self-defence for children is a rare commodity. Then the author deals with the why, what and how of his approach to reality training for children. He doesn’t give away his trade secrets but just enough to tantalise.

The fourth and final section is Training: Fit for Purpose – a very interesting set of perspectives on attitudes towards and types of training and fitness, including the pitfalls of being led astray by fitness training as an end in itself.

In conclusion, I found Mordred’s Victory and other Martial Mutterings by Jamie Clubb to be a very thought provoking read. Each chapter deserves careful reading and contemplation. Whether you pursue martial arts for fitness, sport, competition, art or self-defence, this book will assist in self-realisation and help any martial artist find their own path. The extensive reference section deserves another mention. Overall, highly recommended. 

Disclosure: I received a free copy of this book in exchange for a fair review. I have no prior connection with the author (although I am a martial arts fan and practitioner).

Thursday, 8 October 2015

To ASSUME makes an ASS out of U and ME

One of those truisms trotted out at management seminars, to ASSUME makes an ASS out of U and ME has people scrabbling for their pens and noting the phrase so they can lay claim to it in front of future audiences. But I'm guilty of ASSUMING. After a few years in this e-book business I have assumed that everyone knows what an e-book is, where they can get them and how to read them.

The truth is lots of people do know all about e-books (they're electronic files e.g. type mobi or azw for Kindle devices, type ePub for Apple and Nook and Kobo and Android and others, or even just plain old pdf) and are familiar with e-readers (Kindle, Nook, Kobo, almost any Apple device, almost any Android device).

But a large number of people really don't know about the world of e-books and how to read them. They just haven't delved into e-books. They don't know how to grab an e-book for a few bucks instead of shelling out several times as much for a hard copy. They don't have a Kindle ("What the hell is a Kindle anyway?") and don't realize that e-books don't require a dedicated e-reader. The answer to reading an e-book without a dedicated e-reader is to use an app.

If you want to buy and read e-books from the behemoth Amazon then you'll find they have FREE apps available for PC, Mac and other devices and Android (see links in column right). They also have a neat page where you can just enter your email or phone number and they'll send you a link to your app.

If you have an Android phone or tablet then you can also grab a free app for your preferred store from Google Play. The same applies for the Apple Store but, not being too clever at that sort of thing, I've fallen down on the link for that.

What I tend to do is install all apps on all my devices (I have a laptop, an iPhone and an old Kindle) and keep my e-book purchasing options open. I do tend to buy from Amazon though and then read via the Kindle App. The great thing about that is all three devices are connected through Kindle and I can pick up from the last page read at any time via any device.

Once you have your app(s) installed then you can go shopping at your e-bookstore of choice. If you happen to come across an e-book as a file on your laptop or PC (for example if you sign up to my list and grab a free copy of my first in the zombie series) then you can side-load the file onto your device by simply connecting that device via cable to the computer. (The only vagary I've come across with this is that Kobo devices like an extra suffix of "kepub" before the filetype suffix, so the filename needs to be edited e.g. from book.epub to book.kepub.epub. I have a Kobo Touch reader too, which is how I found that out.)

So, I hope I've gone some way to remedying the ASSUME phenomena regarding e-books. All of my titles are available in e-book format but, if you're a staunch paper addict then they're also available in paperback too.

Sign up to Marble City Publishing's reader list for free entry into a $100 quarterly giveaway, and info on special offers and new releases!

Wednesday, 9 September 2015

Ruby Drops His Pants to Pen a Page Turner

I've been writing under the name Ruby Barnes / R.A. Barnes for some time now. It's a pen name, in memory of my late Scottish grandfather Robert "Ruby" Aloysius Barnes. Here in Ireland we have famous men named Ruby (okay, so there's one, Ruby Walsh the champion jockey), so it's not totally weird for me to work under what looks like a female name. I did change to R.A. a little while back to try and be a little less "cozy", as my writing isn't "cozy" at all (and readers of my books will concur with that). However, I knew that one day I would have to cast off my cloak of Ruby and strut my street name. That day has come.

I will remove my disguise once I've got rid of this wasps' nest

A couple of years ago I met another writer, one more widely published and successful than Ruby but working even more in the shadows than I. A ghostly apparition, one might say. After a few opening salvos, we concluded that it might be fun to write a novel together. Fun in the way that full contact karate is fun as long as you have adequate protection for your private parts and beauty bits. There was a plot outline, some early work and a strong sense of what had to be done. The missing component was someone who could write Nasty. I had Nasty in a bottle in the spirit of John Baptist and other baddies. It seemed right up my street. Except I don't do plotting and all that. I'm what writers call a pantser.
Wot? No plot?

So I had to drop my pants and run with the lady's plot. It wasn't easy. There was shouting and screaming and hand-to-hand combat. That was the co-authors. But the result was sublime. A struggle to the death by two determined individuals with unique voices. That was the characters. Experienced beta readers were engaged to advise along the way. Each chapter was put through the mangle and came out freshly pressed. The female HALO character is in control but dangerous and with a wonky moral compass. The male SHARD character is evil, vindictive, sadistic, sexually-perverted and lusting for revenge. (Guess which one I wrote.)

John Goldsmith's review of Kill Them Twice says it all much better than I can:

"Everything you don’t expect and everything you want. This is one of the higher aims of any work of fiction, regardless of genre, and it is fiendishly difficult to attain.
Eveleigh and Turner’s super-charged thriller Kill Them Twice gets you there at page one, chapter one, paragraph one – one could almost say, sentence one and keeps you constantly encountering the unexpected and relishing the manifold treats all along the way to the bittersweet, counter-intuitive conclusion."
(See the rest of John's review here)

So, I am an author and my name is Mark Turner. There, I've said it. My pants are round my ankles. I need a beer.

Kill Them Twice is available from 4th September 2015 at the following outlets (at a special release price of 99c / 99p):

We've provided some insights into the mindset of Halo and Shard in our blog post The A to Z of Kill Them Twice

Here are some other pieces of the pie:
Follow us on Twitter @KillThemTwice
Visit our web page http://eveleighturner.com
Visit our blog http://eveleighturner.wordpress.com
Like us on facebook

Thanks for reading and see you on the other side of the page.

Cover for Kill Them Twice by eveleigh & turner

Thursday, 27 August 2015

Tempus Fugit and All That - Time to Win Again!

The seasons roll by, or in the case of here Ireland they all just roll together. Marble City Publishing's Summer Draw is closing in just a couple of days and someone is going to win a $100 / €90 / £70 gift card or a Kindle Paperwhite. Make sure you're entered in the draw here because if you're not in, you can't win. (Existing Marble City subscribers are automatically entered.)

Also just to mention that I'm slowly migrating this blog to a new website rubybarnesbooks.com which has more flexibility. The front page highlights my new Zombie series (thanks to Jane Dixon-Smith for the cover designs) and book 1 is available for free to subscribers. Please wander over and help save the human race! My crime fiction, thrillers and historical blog posts will be following over to the new place once those ninjas have tidied the zombies up a bit.