Friday, 21 June 2013

Out of the Frying Pan? Renaming a Novel.

One of the advantages of independent publishing is the freedom to choose your own title, character names etc. One of the risks of independent publishing is making a bad choice of title, character names etc. The double-edged sword of freedom. Readers, authors and bloggers, I need your help again, please read on.

As described with excruciating honesty in The New Author, I've made many beginner's mistakes. Peril was originally titled The Rise and Fall of Ger Mayes, in honour of a BBC TV comedy series from the 1970s. Not the greatest choice of title for the global village of digital publishing. Ger's name is common in Ireland and is pronounced 'Jer' but does that work around the world? Too late now. Ger Mayes is established with thousands of copies out there, a ton of reviews on Amazon and Goodreads, and Ger reappears in Getting Out of Dodge: Peril 2. I'm going to let Ger enjoy his small infamy in perpetuity.

But this post isn't about Peril and Ger. It's about another mistake I've made. My fiction tends to be first person narrator, (picaresque) crime, set in small-town Ireland. I have another series of novels which differ to this and the first title is The Crucible Part 1. Unlike my other books, I get a lot of returns for The Crucible. Really rapid returns. It is a controversial novel, dealing with a conspiracy of AIDS in Africa and Evangelical Christianity in the USA and Europe. I figured that the returns were from irate purchasers who disagreed with the book's storyline attack on religious fundamentalism, corporate greed and corrupt politics. The reviews on Goodreads and Amazon for The Crucible Part 1 are good and I was expecting some scorching one star reviews from those who returned, but no. Any negative reviews were related to the complexity of the conspiracy.

Then, during a recent e-publishing workshop I was running in darkest Tipperary, it came to me. One of those "Aha! I'm an idiot" moments. The quick returns were from dissatisfied customers who thought they had purchased the famous play The Crucible by Arthur Miller. I was flattering myself to think my novel was provoking an extreme reaction from readers; it was just a dumb choice of title. To top that, I had named my Crucible main character Thomas Thistlethwaite - an unpronounceable surname even for Brits. The name was chosen in memory of an early girlfriend (Thistlethwaite, not Thomas!) So now it's time to re-title my novel and rename the MC.

Ezra Barany makes some interesting comments about book titles and search keywords in his post here but I'm also looking to solicit direct reader and fellow author feedback on some alternatives below.

Here's a US reader review of the novel to give the flavour of it:

Ruby Barnes' latest novel is as revealing and surprising as his last. Expecting a military/covert thriller a la Tom Clancy, from my initial skim-over, I was struck by just how insidiously the author has led me into a deep, very moving and highly skeptical look at the effects of post-colonial "colonialism" in the name of aid in Africa. Mr. Barnes has suggested a collusion of terrifying proportion, acting completely outside the realm of governmental intervention. This is a book to make you think, then think again. But don't assume it's not a rousing journey. There are few storytellers as gifted as this author. His story carries you at high-speed. His subject and characters are gripping, fully fleshed and researched with a scholar's thoroughness. I would highly recommend it to readers of Clancy or Le Carre, political science fans, and all those whose views of European and American intervention in Africa, the cradle of human life, need revision.

Titles I have in mind to replace The Crucible are Into Africa (the main story is Europe recolonising Africa) or Koobi Fora (a Kenyan village thought to be the origin of Homo Sapiens and the setting of the novel climax). What do you think? Do you have an alternative suggestion?

Names I have in mind for the MC (British assassin turns good guy) instead of Thomas Thistlethwaite are Thomas Wolfe or Thomas Blackwood or Thomas Jakeman. Am I too hung up on Thomas and which of those surnames appeal? Alternative suggestions also welcome.

Please share your thoughts with a comment below. I'll be sending a paperback copy of the revised book to a randomly selected winner.

Oh, not to forget a free e-copy of the novel if you sign up to Ruby's News.

Monday, 17 June 2013

Picaresque? Learned I ain't!

The other day I had a writing friend make a very astute observation about my Ger Mayes series of crime novels (I can say series now since the second book was released on 15th June.) He said, "Well, you've written another picaresque novel." I had to wonder about his spelling and, considering Getting Out of Dodge: Peril 2 is set in the medieval Irish city of Kilkenny, I agreed that it might be considered picturesque. But, before I wrote back with my smart-arse comments, I thought I'd better go Google, as people do when they suspect that they're not as smart as they'd like to think they are.

This is what I found (courtesy of Wikipedia, similar definitions on Merriam-Webster, the free dictionary, Encyclopaedia Britannica and others):

The picaresque novel (Spanish: "picaresca," from "pĂ­caro," for "rogue" or "rascal") is a popular sub-genre of prose fiction which might sometimes be satirical and depicts, in realistic and often humorous detail, the adventures of a roguish hero of low social class who lives by his wits in a corrupt society. This style of novel originated in 16th-century Spain and flourished throughout Europe in the 17th and 18th centuries. It continues to influence modern literature.

Well, I always thought I was a learned type of guy but I had never heard of picaresque before. Sure, I recognise the character and it fits Ger Mayes to a T. What it made me realise, as I push into my second half-century, is that learned I ain't. I just have a very good memory for what I read and see. This humble pie tastes good. I've been calling Peril urban noir ever since a reviewer wrote that about it. The moral of the story, for me, is that sometimes you don't know what you've written until someone reads it and tells you. That's the beauty of reader reviews.

Getting Out of Dodge: Peril 2 is out now in your favourite reading format, be it epub, kindle or paper.
If you haven't read Peril then you can get that free by signing up to Ruby's News.

Amazon dot com 151 x 40   amazon UK 150 x 40
Barnes-Noble 150 x 40   ibookstore 147 x 47
Kobo 150 x 95 

Want to win a new Kindle? Marble City Publishing is giving away a Kindle Paperwhite plus leather cover in a free draw, visit their site to enter:

Saturday, 15 June 2013

New Release - Getting Out of Dodge: Peril 2 by Ruby Barnes

It's been two years since the launch of Peril but nine years have passed in the world of Ger Mayes. He didn't die but he did go to prison for his part in the biggest drugs heist Ireland has ever known. Now Ger's back on the loose, looking for love and finding trouble. Getting Out of Dodge: Peril 2 is the latest Ruby Barnes release in paperback and e-book from Marble City Publishing.

Here's the blurb:  

After nine years in maximum security prison for crimes against the state, Ger Mayes is on release. Free to try and recover the life he destroyed, free to rediscover love and normality.

"The worst criminal I have ever met," the judge stated at Ger's trial, and it wasn't a professional compliment. A decade of rubbing shoulders with Ireland's criminal elite hasn’t improved Ger's skills.  

Two weeks after release Ger sits on a Dublin park bench, the uniformed authorities to his right, the gangsters with their bad trousers to his left, a blonde woman's fragrant head in a bag at his feet. He should have got the hell out of Dodge when DI Andy McAuliffe told him to. How has it come to this? 

His wife is ex, his son estranged. The authorities have his number and so do the local criminal fraternity. A couple of choice decisions place Ger in the middle of a brothel turf war, and he decides to rescue somebody that he used to know. He chases his dreams but murder, kidnap and blackmail catch up with him. Fate hasn't had its fill of Ger but will his natural survival instinct win out again?

Peril has great reviews on Goodreads and Amazon, and fans are sure to enjoy Getting Out of Dodge.

Want to read more? Here's the first chapter:

Friday, 14 June 2013

He's Not My Son

Bad news. Turns out I'm not the father of the boy. After nine years estranged and wondering every day if I should have done more, I finally faced up to it and went on a surprise visit (a.k.a. stalked) my ex. The kid is a mini-me of her yoga instructor, Ciaran. No doubt he'll grow up to be just as flexible. 

The good news is it's just fiction. Getting Out ofDodge - the sequel to Peril. From Marble City Publishing.

Friday, 7 June 2013

Fatman's Couch puts The Hitler Diaries to the Burger Test

In a recent Goodreads Giveaway my publisher shipped a paperback copy of The Hitler Diaries off to Canada. In the business of book marketing, publishers and authors have to put themselves out there and many review copies go out. Sometimes you hear back, and sometimes you don't. In this case the result was a perfect match. The Fatman loved The Hitler Diaries and wrote a very insightful review for Fatman's Couch Reviews, giving The Hitler Diaries four and a half burgers out of five.

The story doesn't stop there. To spread the word, Marble City are offering up to five e-book copies of The Hitler Diaries to winning entrants on his website. Go here to enter.

The Hitler Diaries by Jim Williams