Tuesday, 31 January 2012

Matt Posner kindly interviews yours truly

A very nice man, that Matt Posner!

See his interview of Ruby here.

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Friday, 27 January 2012

New cover design for Peril by Ruby Barnes

For a number of reasons I'm changing the front cover of Peril.

My designer has come up with six variants. These are just drafts. If you have a minute then please take a look and let me know which you prefer, A through F.


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Saturday, 14 January 2012

To POD or not to POD? That is the question

Print on Demand is POD. It means that booksellers don't have to hold stock of a book. They simply place an order in the system and the book gets printed and delivered in a few days.

POD is a cost-effective route to market for independent authors. The book cover and blurb can be put together for a minimal cost and the author then sets things up with one of the numerous POD outfits.

So far I have two thrillers out as indie ebooks and I managed to shift 17,000 copies in 2011 (many of which were free) but I've been stumbling over the POD approach. Points that go through my mind are as follows:
  • will an agent / publisher still talk to an author about a book that is out as indie POD? There's evidence that they do talk to and take on authors that have titles out as indie ebooks, but POD? Do I want to talk to a mainstream publisher anyway? (See The Breakthrough on multi-story.co.uk !)
  • the POD / vanity argument. I don't feel the perceived stigma attached to indie ebooks is the same as self-published print. Is POD not vanity because there aren't three thousand printed copies in boxes in a garage? Surely POD can be vanity. I figure indie ebooks and POD can be vanity if the product isn't up to a publishable standard, but who's going to be the judge of that? Readers, I guess.
  • I do get some readers asking me for print versions of my books but I'm not interested in physically going around marketing a print version. Our Kilkenny writers' group did that with an anthology and it was hard work with numerous readings and visits to bookshops throughout the South East of Ireland by the team of twenty-two authors. All the books were sold but profit was small. I have a social networking platform so I would use that for the job if I went POD.
So, thanks for listening. POD here we come. Or not. What do you think?

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Monday, 9 January 2012

Ger Mayes - the early days before Peril

This short story is based upon true life events. Thanks for reading.
The letting agent arranged a joint viewing of the canal-side property at five o’clock on a Monday afternoon in April.
Take the turn off the Preston Brook main street just after the canal bridge. Then drive down the gravel road, past the derelict rope works. 1 Canalside is the first semi-detached house on the left. The building is in good repair but unfurnished.

I parked a good way up the gravel road, which was more of a path, and approached on foot. A black Volkswagen Golf with darkened windows was in the driveway, a dark shadow of a figure just visible in the driver’s seat.
The first few steps on Canalside put me in a relaxed mood. Birds chirped in a small gated apple orchard that banked the canal. A deep-throated mechanical rhythm came from the mouth of the canal tunnel, just visible beyond Canalside’s seven houses. It increased in volume as the prow of a canal barge emerged from the tunnel, its rope fenders clustered around the long, low steel hull. Foot after foot of red painted steel emerged, a man at the tiller easing off the throttle as the stern cleared the tunnel mouth. He saw me up above the orchard and waved. I returned.
‘Mr Mayes?’ a voice greeted me from behind.
I turned to the speaker and extended a hand. The appearance of the female letting agent escapes my recollection, as does her name. By comparison, the woman who then stepped out of the black Golf, and smoothed her leather skirt, is burnt into my memory.
‘Mr Mayes, this is Ms Doyle. As I explained on the phone, Ms Doyle has first refusal on 1 Canalside as her enquiry was received before yours. On that understanding, and to save time, we’ve agreed to view the property together. Okay?’
We both nodded and Ms Doyle extended her hand to me.
‘Fay,’ she said.
Her hand was cool and wiry.
‘Ger,’ I returned, and let her have the look. What I received back was a once-over that didn’t end until Fay released my hand. First impressions? She was my age or slightly older, perhaps early thirties. Tall, maybe five-seven. Dark, like a gypsy. Unsavoury, like a biker, yet thrilling. Straight away I knew that 1 Canalside was my Hotel California. This could be heaven or this could be hell.

Saturday, 7 January 2012

The Breakthrough

This story, The Breakthrough on the new Multi-Story short fiction website, is reproduced with permission from the Autumn 2011 issue of The Author (the quarterly journal of the Society of Authors).

It made me groan. As an independent author I continually have at the back of my mind that I should resubmit my novels to agents and publishers in order to try and become mainstream. When I read stuff like this article it pulls a veil down over that nagging doubt. Is mainstream publishing just kudos these days? Is it any more than validation?

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Tuesday, 3 January 2012

Tired old limes stand the test of time

As an author myself, Stephen King's novels might be considered essential reading. I'm ashamed to say this was a first for me, but it won't be the last. 

Like everyone, I've seen the film of The Green Mile. Unlike everyone, I've not heard the film as I was in denial about my hearing loss for the past two decades. All the films I've watched have been looked at and not heard, so my attention wandered. I remember the mouse resurrection and that's about it. My recollections of other King stories in film are similar - Carrie and the burning sports hall, The Shining and Crazy Jack with the axe.

There was an inertia I needed to overcome in even buying a Stephen King novel. I hate to walk with the crowd, Contrary Mary that I am. Eventually I picked up The Green Mile to complete a 3 for €10 offer in a shop in Dingle, Kerry. The title didn't even register with me at the time.

Then I opened the book, began to read, recognised the premise of large, unnatural John Coffey on Death Row and was hooked.

King uses Paul Edgecombe as first person narrator to great effect. The full horror of the death penalty is the overriding theme throughout. This is Death Row and execution is by electric chair so there are necessarily graphic scenes but they're gratifying without being gratuitous.

Most of the book takes place within E Block at the Cold Mountain State Penitentiary. It's claustrophobic. The sweat and tears of prisoners and guards alike flow before the reader's face and sometimes down the reader's face. Each character comes to life, and some to death, in full 3D technicolor and the story is all about their interaction. The plot is bare bones, the reader wishing that the characters would catch up with what the reader has already divined, praying for the salvation that comes for some and not for others.

Coffey's character is truly supernatural and would bring anyone close to Believing. I was simultaneously relieved and disappointed that Coffey let the gang off the hook in the end.

The wrap-up in the retirement home was very moving - to find love again at the end of the road, an absolution for wrongdoing and acknowledgement of human frailty in the face of death.

Once or twice I was perplexed by repetition at the start of new chapters but the author's afterword explains that the story was originally issued in instalments, so that's why recaps were built in.

This is the kind of book that I could read again immediately, but my wife has already swiped it out of my hand! So I'll have to go scour my bookshelves for The Shining or Carrie.

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