Friday, 25 January 2013

How Far Will You Go? Sacrifice of the First Born.

A few weeks ago I had an exchange with a new writing friend on facebook. The usual sort of thing - martial arts self-injuries and human sacrifices. My new friend, Lucy Pireel, then asked if I would like to do an author interview on her blog. Now, I'm not big into author interviews, blog tours, tag you're it, kiss chase and that sort of thing. Well, okay, maybe the kiss chase, but I'm too slow to catch anyone. As it turned out, Lucy's character and her zany questions trumped my reservations. Go here to read the interview - it might give you a TGIF giggle.

P.S. don't forget to help yourself to one of my books for free (mobi, epub or pdf, you choose) by signing up to my newsletter, Ruby's News.

Monday, 21 January 2013

No Such Thing as a Free Lunch? There is.

I recently had an email from telling me someone had requested an authorgraph for Peril (thanks Matt Posner!) This is a great little free service that allows authors to send a personalised message and connect with readers who seek them out.

The way it works is like this: 
  • the author signs up with Authorgraph and identifies their books on Amazon by ASIN;
  • a reader registers with Authorgraph (the reader doesn't have to have a Kindle or any particular device), requests an authorgraph for a particular title and waits for news;
  • the author gets an email telling them there is a pending request, goes to the site and writes a personalised message to the reader with a signature (real or created);
  • the reader receives an email, goes to the site and can download a pdf with the title cover, personalised message and signature (if they are a Kindle user this is whispered straight to their Kindle, otherwise they can load the file to their e-reading device).
It's a neat way for readers and authors to have a virtual signing experience.

If you want to try it out there's a link on the right for Peril on Authorgraph. If you don't have Peril or one of my other books (they're all on Authorgraph) you can choose one for free as a welcome gift when you join Ruby's News (my mail list for advanced reader copies, special offers and other news).

Ruby's books:

Peril - a crime thriller (43 Goodreads ratings)

The Baptist - a psychological thriller (21 Goodreads ratings)

The Crucible Part 1 - a conspiracy thriller (14 Goodreads ratings)

The New Author - writing, social media and e-publishing (10 Goodreads ratings)

kindle, mobi, Nook, Kobo, epub

Thursday, 17 January 2013

Bateman's Bestselling Book Basics

Bateman's breakthrough

Mr Colin Bateman writes humorous crime fiction. If you have a funny bone in your body then he will tickle it within pages, leaving you to clean up a mess of dead villains and destroyed relationships with a smile on your face. That style of writing is what led me to attend Mr Bateman's weekend workshop on writing a bestseller.

First things first and let's establish the credentials of the mononymous Bateman: author of 23 novels, two of which are bestsellers by the 100,000+ paper copies sales definition (Divorcing Jack and Mystery Man); screen-writer of several films and TV series; most importantly, a very funny and modest man who is generous with his knowledge and experience. He describes himself as a mid-list author with an occasional bestseller. I describe him as a pain in the self-publishing arse because any attempt to put Barnes books on a shop shelf is swamped by a raft of Bateman titles.

Now to put the workshop in context. Sixteen people in a hotel conference room next to the marina in Bangor, County Down, Northern Ireland. We were a mixture of beginners, burgeoning crime writers and Bateman groupies (me, obviously). Tea, coffee, scones, draught beer and weather to take the paint off a supertanker. Our hopes and fears ranged from how to expertly develop a plot for a crime thriller to touching the Bateman coat tails in hope of skills transfer by osmosis (me again). The learning was spread over two 9 'til 5 days of full-on discourse, discussion and group exercises.

We covered all the writing basics - research, planning, genre, plot, settings, characters, narrative voice, dialogue, self-editing and taboos (I can't mention those).

Tuesday, 15 January 2013

Hallelujah! The Crucible finally lands at Barnes & Noble

The Crucible Part 1 e-book epub mobi
The Crucible epub edition

At long last The Crucible Part 1 has gone up on Barnes & Noble and is available there as an epub and paperback. It's a harrowing story of horrifying international conspiracy, religious fundamentalism and global negligence, very close to reality. I'm going to blog further about the background research, controversy and moral message of this book but for now I'd just like to announce the B&N availability because I know very well (from Ruby's News where I ask about e-book file type preference) that a lot of people read epub.

The Crucible by Ruby Barnes paperback edition
The Crucible paperback edition

This controversial thriller has had some great reviews on Amazon and Goodreads since its release but the process to get the epub up on B&N has taken a long, long time. Pubit! isn't yet available to European authors so direct publishing to the store hasn't been an option for me and Smashwords is the way in. B&N are planning to open Pubit! up to UK authors in the near future, since the recent UK launch of the Nook, and I'll be slipping across the border then to fix things up.

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Sunday, 13 January 2013

What's Going on with E-books and Readers?

How are people going to read their books in the future? What's the way ahead? Somebody tell me so I can lay my handkerchief across a puddle in the path with one hand and humbly reveal my growing list of titles with the other. If you're a reader then please join my mail list and I'll drop you my newsletter when the hankie is going down. If you're an author then read on about why you should pause to consider the future.

Monday, 7 January 2013

Can they hear me, crying in the rain?

Dig down through the soil in any part of my garden and you’ll hit a solid pan of pebbles and boulders. It comes as a surprise after two feet of soft, rich soil. A hard, jolting surprise. The tines of your fork bend as you try to find a way through, to ease the foreign matter loose. Your neat hole dug for the fence, trellis or gazebo post becomes enlarged and distorted in the search for the margins of a large boulder. When the obstruction is revealed in all its terrible glory, the shaft of the spade snaps in an attempt to lever the monster free from the earth.
This isn’t a natural feature of my back garden. There’s no glacial or ancient river-bed explanation, it was caused by huge earth-shifting lorries that used my back yard as a throughway during the construction of the housing estate seven years ago. There’s no such easy explanation for the obstruction under my own soft surface. It was found beneath my ribs, after I broke them in a karate sparring session. The boulders can be dug out of the garden with the right tools. My cancer couldn’t be removed. It was part of me.
James loves the garden. He’s not a typical boy. The flowers and vegetables are safe from harm when he’s around, unless he has other, more boisterous, playmates to visit. We have the accoutrements of childhood - footballs, sliotars, a rugby ball, the usual sport playthings, but James doesn’t kick the heads off the roses or bash the broccoli. He inhales the scents, wonders at the earth’s creative abundance and carries ladybirds from tree to tree. My special son with unique focal powers. He dwells within a spectrum of disorders, a fitting word for the range of colours and lights that brighten his world.
From the front of the house I call to my family, each of them busy, indulging in their own favourite pastime. They don’t hear me or, if they do, there’s no response.
My wife, Leah, reads a novel. When she doesn’t read, she sleeps on the white stitched, dark brown leather of the Italian sofa in the playroom. We chose that sofa together, just before the recession took hold. There was a bitter fight with the bankrupt furniture company to get it delivered.
Sarah plays her silver-plated flute, bought with her own money saved from birthday, Christmas and Holy Communion gifts. At age six she drew her first note from a flute at the music school open day and took a firm vow to one day buy her own. Now ten, she picks up any new classical piece from sheet music within minutes. It’s too early to say she’s a prodigy but the sound is heavenly.
I walk through to the back of the house, calling for them again. James hears me first, his ear ever tuned for my voice. He looks up from his Lego and I stoop down to ruffle his hair. When he’s not playing Lego or exploring the garden, James likes to watch recorded TV programmes that include quizzes, facts and figures. He’ll stand in front of the screen and speak the answers in time with the contestants, every high and low score of the series stored in a memory that can’t remember where he left his shoes.
I became needy. The family understood that. I didn’t show pain and they didn’t smother me with sympathy. They showed that they cared by respecting my needs when I had to have one or another to keep me company.
‘Let’s take a turn around the grounds,’ I say.
Leah lets her glasses slip down her nose, gives a tight smile and returns to her book. Not her.
Through the archway, in the dining room, Sarah runs through a minuet and hits a wrong note.
‘That should be a sharp,’ I call to her.
‘I’ll play that again,’ she says and runs through the tune, an emphasis placed on the corrected tone.
‘I don’t know how your father could tell the difference,’ Leah mutters from behind her book.
James stands and I put my hand down to his.
‘We’re going outside, Mum. We’re going outside.’
‘Yes, dear. Come in if it rains.’
He unlocks the door and hooks it open.
‘Down here, Dad. Down to the orchard, where it’s squelchy.’
It’s just a dwarf Granny Smith’s apple and a Victoria plum tree. I built the trellis across the garden to give an illusion of a secret garden. This is where I did battle with buried boulders. This is where I sit on my bench, listening to the birds and watching James gather the autumn leaves.
‘Look, Dad. These aren’t from our tree.’ He holds up a fistful of oak leaves that have blown in from the neighbour’s garden.
Sarah’s flute strikes up a new tune, a march. The notes stride down from the house, and James stomps around the base of the apple tree, his shoes hitting the waterlogged ground with the sound of troops crossing the marshes.
‘Let’s dance,’ he says and takes my hand, swinging his arm to the military step. He will never be too self-conscious, too embarrassed to hold his father’s hand. James doesn’t see, hear or feel other people’s opinions. But he sees me, feels the strong, assuring grip of my hand on his.
My feet make no splash next to his. The rain begins to fall, pattering the leaves. The tears of an absent father.

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Thursday, 3 January 2013

Get the WIP out and get on with it, Ruby!

Over Christmas I shared the first 38k words of the sequel to Peril with my beta reader and things are looking good. Now I need to knuckle down and get it completed. Peril has reviewed well on Goodreads, Amazon dot com and UK. I've learned a lot from those reviews and hope readers will enjoy the sequel just as much or even more. In the meantime Peril is featured on the UK site Indie Book Bargains - please take a look by clicking the badge below.

Indie Book Bargains 

If you've enjoyed reading Ruby's blog then please sign up to Ruby's News for freebies, advance review copies of upcoming novels and occasional updates. Thanks!