Wednesday, 25 December 2013

Getting Out of Dodge Before It's Too Late! #ASMSG

My second Ger Mayes crime novel, Getting Out of Dodge, is featuring over at the Authors Electric Christmas Sale from 25 - 28 December. Hop on over and grab some truly great books for 99c / 99p. They also have a review site.

Here's the first chapter of Getting Out of Dodge to whet your appetite:

Chapter 1 - A walk in the park

The sky is heavy. Dark purple clouds reflect on the lake’s rippling surface. Here and there an aquamarine gap opens in the sky – maybe a portal to the troposphere? I could do with someone beaming me up there, right now.
‘Look, Ma, look!’ A small boy at the far edge of the water points at a drake terrorising all the other ducks, wings beating as it chases.
The mother pulls her son back by the hand, trying to keep him away from the edge as he hurls chunks of bread at the uninterested, overfed recipients. Two swans glide through the ducks and seagulls swoop in for the spoils.
Plastic wheels on tarmac and a rush of air. A youth on rollerblades flies past the bench where I’m sitting. He moves like a speed-skater but looks like a thief, woolly hat down tight under a hoodie.
‘Fecker!’ shouts another mother as the youth swerves deftly around her pushchair.
Ah, the serene beauty of suburban Dublin.
‘You okay, mister?’ she asks.
I look up. She can’t be long out of school. She’s talking to me but I have no words to share.
‘Jesus! What’s happened to yer face?’
My hand goes to my cheek. My face, my whole body, is sore to the touch. I must look a sight, it was quite a beating.
She shakes her head and walks on.
‘Feckers, the lot of them. Feckers,’ she mutters to the world.
Sean Walsh Park contains everything I hate about this country. I should have left two weeks ago, with the first taste of freedom. Now look.
Across the lake a youngish man in a tracksuit walks cockily, phone to his ear and a beer bottle in one hand. He downs the last of the beer and hurls the bottle into the bushes. Then he switches off the phone and slips it into his jacket pocket.
The little boy feeding the birds turns and runs into the man’s arms. I’m too far away to hear what the mother says but, from the body language, it’s where have you been or who were you talking to. The man ignores her and runs to the water’s edge with the boy. They look across the lake and see me watching, so I turn my head.
I don’t know how I got here, but here I am. It has something to do with this thing between my legs. Everything to do with it.
A breeze picks up and rustles the plastic bag at my feet. I look into the wind and see lads loitering at the far entrance to the park. Even at this distance they look foreign. Something about their trousers. They’re the Romanians. Friends or enemies, I’m not sure. Is this their doing? It could be, doesn’t matter now.
The bag rustles again. I have no idea how I came to be here, can’t remember. I don’t deserve it. This time I tried to do the right thing. My intentions were good.
A shout makes it upwind from the mother with the pushchair. Two uniformed guards struggle past her at the other entrance. A man in a dark jacket follows and then the wiry, brown-suited figure of Detective Inspector Andy McAuliffe. I can smell his cigarettes in my memory.
Andy, I should have taken your advice and got the hell out of Dodge.
Before they reach me I have to know what’s between my legs. But I think I already know and so does Andy, somehow.
The bag is oozing something onto the tarmac. Clear fluid with traces of pink. I open the top of the bag with both hands and my favourite fragrance wafts out. When a woman wears that, it means she’s mine. The scorching sun, sea and sand of the Mediterranean, as the ad says, with a hint of butcher’s shop.
I put my hand inside and let my fingertips touch, then stroke. Her hair is soft and fair. I always loved her hair.

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:

Sunday, 22 December 2013

Miss This at Your Peril #ASMSG

My first crime fiction novel, Peril, is on 99c / 77p sale today and featured at Kindle Books and Tips.

39 reviews on, here are a few samples of what readers say:

"My goodness, I enjoyed this. It had it all, drama, mystery, love gone bad."

"Love the twists and turns"

"A darned good read."

"Serious crime thriller yes, but only on one level; Peril by Ruby Barnes is so much more."

"It kept me turning the pages right up to the satisfying and appropriate conclusion."

"A train wreck you can't help watching through the cracks in your fingers."

"Shifty and shady ... one thing leads to another until it comes tumbling down around him."

"A walking invitation to vice and good-natured corruption."

"Tense, suspenseful read - the fast-paced story of a philandering jerk."

"The importance of being honest."

"It's a story of a drunk, nothing more. There are better stories about drunks." (well, not everybody likes everything!)

Peril by R.A. Barnes

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, 21 December 2013

Watch Out For The Skin Deep #ASMSG

My stablemate Jim Williams has a very eloquent turn of phrase that earned him a Booker Prize nomination for his historical novel Scherzo a few seasons back. Scherzo is a great book but I think my favourite of Jim's is The Argentinian Virgin. Marble City Publishing is running a pre-Christmas sale on Amazon and Barnes & Noble for The Argentinian Virgin and I've re-posted my review of the book here in case it catches your interest. At 99c / 77p it's a snip!

Ruby reviews The Argentinian Virgin

Judging a Book by its Cover

I was captivated by the beautiful woman on the cover of this book the moment I saw her. It’s happened to me before and I dare say it’s happened to you. We assign attributes of character without any basis in fact, but because of the way an individual appears. Through a happy accident of birth, the lucky mix of genes, what the red Hot Chili Peppers call “a perfect piece of DNA”, an individual is blessed with beauty. Facial symmetry, poise, a breadth of shoulders, slimness of waist, coupled with graceful strength or endearing fragility.

Nature’s deception, I call it. The effect may be momentary; if they open their mouth and sound like their antithesis then the bubble is burst; if their charm works when statuesque but fails in movement then they ought best to stand still. Without any contrary evidence, such beauty can be an enduring lure. I’ve been caught out more than once by appearances, giving trust and even affection to the owner, only to find that it was an accident of nature and under the alluring surface they’re just as ordinary as you or I. But sometimes, occasionally, the character matches the appearance and something wonderful is ignited for anyone who comes within range. Such a person is Tom Rensselaer in The Argentinian Virgin by Jim Williams.

Lucky Tom Rensselaer warms the sight and hearts of all who have the good fortune to meet him. He’s a product of good breeding, old money (although now lost) and perfect nature. Strong in principle, generous and loving, he cannot fail in life. But what happens when Adonis meets Aphrodite? Katerina Malipiero captivates Tom from their first encounter. She’s without guile, innocence personified, and all the more irresistible for that. The air crackles with charge whenever they are in each other’s company. He can’t withstand her attraction, any more than the powers at war can halt their own inevitable march towards doom.

Set on the French Riviera early in the Second World War, monumental events occur around the cast of Tom and the other Americans, the Malipieros and the Irish narrator, Pat. A chance encounter, infatuation, love and lust lead Tom and his Argentinian Virgin through the backwoods of occupied France, leading to a tragedy that no one can avoid.

Passionate, evocative, enthralling and emotive, The Argentinian Virgin is a warning to watch out for the skin deep.

Marble City Publishing is running a pre-Christmas sale on Amazon and Barnes & Noble for The Argentinian Virgin.

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:

Thursday, 19 December 2013

Email to: #AllUsers - How I Wrote My First Novella #ASMSG

A few weeks ago I was giving a two hour talk in a local library on the wonders of e-publishing.

'So, there's no quality control?' one of the still-conscious attendees asked.

'That's right. Some restrictions on cover and content, but even those might not prevent initial publishing,' I said.

Another person woke, caught the thread of conversation and asked, 'How about title and author name? Any copyright or that sort of thing?'

'No. You can't copyright a title and you can call yourself whatever you want, within reason. If you use J.K. Rowling you might get into trouble. Let's take a look.'

I opened the Kindle Direct Publishing web page and proceeded to create a new kindle book with the title Nonsense Novel. Then I entered an author name - Tarquin Fin-tim-lin-bin-whin-bim-lim-bus-stop-F'tang-F'tang-Olé-Biscuitbarrel. (For those whose TV memories are more recent or less obscure than mine, Tarquin was a character in a brief Monty Python sketch, lampooning the Monster Raving Loony Party.) Then I uploaded a Word document containing last year's letter to Santa. To complete the ensemble I browsed for a picture of me half-naked with a Hitler moustache and saved it as the e-book cover.

'If I press Publish, this e-book will be live on Amazon within forty-eight hours.'

The insomniac attendee gasped and the others snored more loudly. But the experience gave me an idea.

A couple of days later, in a facebook group, someone (who shall remain unnamed unless it's that Tim Stevens who hangs the toilet roll incorrectly) mentioned that independent author icon J.A. Konrath had said anyone could write an e-book in an hour. The nameless Tim (he won't mind me keeping him nameless) said he had written and published something - a skit on how to market an e-book. It was tongue in cheek but one or two people had taken it seriously and written a dodgy review. The whole thing sounded like a really bad idea. So I decided to do it. Surely I could afford an hour of my life to come up with a rant and immortalise it for Kindle?

So I spent about a week thinking it over. I decided to follow a methodical structure for the few pages (which turned into a structure for each chapter), to break a few literary rules e.g. use a dream sequence (which became a dream sequence at the start of each chapter) and to use real life events for inspiration.

The setting - a Victorian asylum.

The narrator - a health service employee with two jobs, one as solemniser of marriages and the other as dispenser of healthcare aids and appliances.

The humour - a variety of tasteless healthcare appliance puns and mispronunciation of Solemniser.

The odd bits - compulsive behavioural habits, dreams of death and destruction and strange tastes in out-of-date food. And re-use of some very strange emails that are circulated from the former lunatic asylum on the campus where I spend my daylight hours.

The plot - large scale fraud. I would write it in diary form with dialogue where helpful.

Six weeks later, 23,000 words, 88 pages of beta-read, line-edited nonsense. But Tarquin Fin-tim-lin-bin-whin-bim-lim-bus-stop-F'tang-F'tang-Olé-Biscuitbarrel didn't sound Irish enough for the author of this tome. So I added Murphy to the end. The book title came from the prefix of those #AllUsers emails. Uploaded to Kindle Direct Publishing, cover created with an image I purchased a couple of years ago. I clicked the Publish button and finally exorcised the demon.

The moral of the story? If your personality is in any way compulsive then be careful about rising to a challenge. It can take over your life.

The result? I'll let you be the judge of #AllUsers, but here's the opinion of someone who knows:

"#AllUsers is a satirical novella of earth-shattering literary inconsequence." Mrs Murphy

Cover of #AllUsers by Tarquin Murphy

#AllUsers is now available on Amazon
 but you can get it free by joining Ruby's News

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:

This post originally guested on Electric

Tuesday, 17 December 2013

Are We Human, Or Are We Dancer? Ruby Reviews Lifeform Three by Roz Morris #ASMSG #Bookreview

It’s been a long, long time since I read a science fiction novel. Maybe thirty years. The closest I’ve come to doing so was the futuristic part of My Memories of a Future Life by the same author. I knew from MMOAFL that Roz Morris was a lyrical writer and I trusted her when I requested and received an advance review copy of Lifeform Three. My consternation in realising I had picked up a dystopian novel, and that the MC Paftoo was a synthetic lifeform, only stayed with me until the end of the first page, and then I realised the magic had begun.

Lifeform Three is a totally believable, some might say inevitable, scenario. Global warming, lands lost to rising sea levels, increased urbanisation and total reliance upon interactive technology. Synthetic bods manage theme parks based upon historical artefacts. When the sun goes down, the power goes off. Except something is different about Paftoo. To paraphrase the blonde who asked “Do dogs have brains?” the reader is soon thinking “Do synthetic lifeforms have souls?”

Then things start to get creepy. Paftoo has been here before, we’ve all been here before. Groundhog Day. But there’s learning to be had, precious learning that can be tragically erased by a group “Sharing”. After a few chapters you’ll be begging the story not to put Paftoo through a Sharing.

Morris does a fantastic job attributing characters to these near identical androids. Although Paftoo is the one who breaks the rules, my favourite character is the enigmatic Tickets. Part ballerina, part nightclub bouncer, he holds the key to the story. He knows where that missing door on the cover of this book is.

Lifeform Three doesn’t give us all the answers. It leaves plenty of room for the imagination. I really didn’t want this book to end, it’s that good. The emotional involvement reminded me of Never Let Me Go by Kazuo Ishiguro, but Lifeform Three is much more joyous and less tragic.

It wasn’t until the end of the book that I realised there’s no sex in it. None at all. If you’re looking for rampant robot sex then you’ve come to the wrong place. If you’re looking for a gripping read, at times tender, uplifting and hopeful, then Lifeform Three is the one.

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, 14 December 2013

A Seven Book Deal With Pan Macmillan - OMG! #ASMSG

 Not for me, unfortunately, but great news for historical saga author Mary Wood. Making the move from indie author to mainstream, Mary tells her story here on
Mary Wood has been writing novels for nearly twenty-five years and this breakthrough couldn't have happened to a more deserving person (me, me, me! I hear you say). She's kind, engaging and gracious. Go on over to Multi-story to read what Mary has to say about it all.

Also, Mary will be making the Christmas draw for a free Kindle Paperwhite plus leather cover, sponsored by Marble City Publishing, so get your entry in for the best e-reader on the market. Lightweight, glare free, read in bright sunshine unlike a tablet or iPhone (remember that bright sunshine?), read in the dark with the front-lit screen, and save yourself from the internet distractions of a tablet. Entry is free and the draw will take place early January 2014. Good luck!

Thursday, 12 December 2013

Psycho Killer, Qu'est Que C'est? The Baptist on sale today!

My psychological thriller The Baptist is getting an outing on KINDLE BOOKS AND TIPS today. Sale price 99c / 77p for a couple of days only.

 If you're having problems with the link then copy and paste this into your browser:

KB&T is a great platform for readers and authors alike. It gives authors a cost-effective way to reach readers and it gives readers free and discount books that have been quality assured with Amazon Verified Purchase reviews, professional content and great covers. Run by Michael Gallagher, great guy!

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:

Tuesday, 3 December 2013

WTF? The Baptist Profane Twelve Days of Christmas!

It's time to wheel out John Baptist's favourite turns of phrase again. (Seriously, if you are offended by profanity then stop here.)

A couple of winters ago I emailed a copy of The Baptist to a friend's work as a pdf attachment. That email was intercepted and she received an automatically generated message from her employer's Mail Sweeper programme.

This e-mail has been stopped in Profane Messages. 

A report was attached to the message with the MIMEsweeper Analysis results. The report was studied by all and sundry tea-break and the content engendered a lot of discussion. Irish tea-breaks are an occasion for great craic. The consensus was The Baptist contained a lot of action but not enough components to perform it. They discussed the parts of speech.

The report results are below and I have to say that, while I didn't intend to write a profane novel, I can remember exactly each and every page where the offending words occur.

The phrase 'arse' was found at location 70126
and so on. I'll just share the count.
arse x 1
balls x 2
bang x 3
bastard x 12 (a dozen, one of them capitalised therefore a pronoun?)
bitch x 6 (half dozen, imperial measure)
bloody x 8 (quaint that bloody should be a profanity in this day and age, and might actually have described murder weapon)
blow job x 1 (shouldn't I have hyphenated the blow-job? That's what I've been doing wrong)
bollocks x 1 (shouldn't there be at least two of those fellas?)
crap x 2 (okay, in UK and Ireland it's an expletive)
cunt x 3 (I do apologise, it's a very vulgar word but, in my defence, it was, or rather they were, components of dialogue. Vulgar dialogue. Not uncommon in Ireland.)
fag x 5 (means cigarette in UK and Ireland and that was the intention)
fuck x 10 (no argument there and good to see it's gone decimal)
fucker x 4 (nice alliteration and I'm getting an idea for a Christmas song now)
fucking x 21 (more than a score - in fairness, there is a lot of that going on)
penis x 1 (poor little lad, all on his own, but just goes to show it takes only one)
prick x 3 (oh, right ... well)
queer x 1 (surely acceptable as an adjective?)
sex x 7 (the vanilla variety is profane?)
sexy x 2 (sexy too)
shirt-lifter x 1 (at least it's hyphenated, if homophobic, but anyhow it's dialogue)
shit x 11 (one short of the dozen)
shite x 1 (the Irish for above)
slut x 1 (so few?)
wanker x 1 (there's always one)
white trash x 2 (confused, is that profane?).

Right, Christmas is on the horizon. So, in the spirit of the season, I offer:

The Baptist Profane Twelve Days of Christmas

(I'll just go to straight to the last verse)

On the twelfth day of Christmas my true love gave to me
Twelve bastards bragging
Eleven shits a fan-hitting
Ten fucks a flying
Nine fucking expletives (cheated, there wasn't nine of anything)
Eight bloody bus stops
Seven sex in the opens
Six bitches barking
Five ... fags ... a ... puffing!
Four fighting fuckers
Three quiet cunts
Two dangly balls
And a slut arse-wanker penis blow-job bollocks.

(That leaves a spare queer sexy shirt-lifter shite white trash, sounds like one of my characters.)

I'm sure we'll be hearing that little ditty on the radio.

All in the name of literary art, my dears.


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!

Plus my publisher is running a free Christmas draw for a Kindle Paperwhite plus leather cover here - go enter!

Tuesday, 12 November 2013

Beats you down and builds you back up #bookreview

Ruby reviews Once Were Warriors by Alan Duff

Here's another case of the contrary reader. Mrs R's book club chose Once Were Warriors as their book of the month and, despite it being only 198 pages, Mrs R baulked at the serious-looking cover and hesitated to get stuck in. So, rising to the unspoken challenge, I grabbed the paperback and ran off to my kennel with it, growling whenever anyone came near.

This isn't a new release - it was first published in New Zealand in 1990 and was made into a film, apparently - but was a hit at the time. I didn't research the author's background, like I usually do. I just ran headlong into the story. Looking now at the acknowledgements in the front of the book, the author thanks his editor, Richard King, for agreeing to forgo the conventions. He sure did that.

The narrative style is like a stream of consciousness, from varying viewpoints and delivered third person. That editorial flexibility allows extensive use of slang, profanity and grammatical deviations. This is deep third person, a voice that puts the reader on the shoulder of the alternate narrators without having to live inside their heads. And that's a good thing because being on the shoulders of Jake, Beth, Grace and Nig Heke is something that can be difficult to bear at times. No criticism of the writing there, just a nod to the gravity of the story.

Over a quarter of a century has passed since Alan Duff first wrote Once Were Warriors but the curses of the human condition are as real today as they were then, perhaps more so. Duff describes a long-term unemployed, geographically isolated, poorly educated, disenfranchised, underprivileged and alcohol addicted underclass in New Zealand. A once proud warrior race whose sense of identity has faded to become characterized by such icons as rugby players and an opera singer. Unless you've lived a life of complete privilege (as do the Traumbert family in this book), you will recognize the elements of despair: low self-esteem from poor education and exploited minimum wage labour, frustrations taken out on friends, family and acquaintances; job insecurity perpetuated by alcohol-fueled absenteeism; escape offered by substance abuse; bread-line poverty that spirals down into inescapable debt; gang culture that respects mindless violence and destroys family life. Now you really want to read it!

This short novel is an irresistible train wreck of a story. The author speaks from personal experience, being half Maori and half Pakeha. There is a glimmer of hope. Read Once Were Warriors, recognise the frailties of the human race, thank your lucky stars for what you have and see the positive in everyone. I'm not going to describe the plot but all I will say is I don't think Jake did it. It was Dooly.

If you've enjoyed this review then follow Ruby on Twitter and Goodreads and sign up to Ruby's News for a free e-book.

Saturday, 26 October 2013

If They Haven't Heard It, Have You Said It?

My guest post for this month on Authors Electric deals with Triberr - a great free and effective way to generate traffic for your blog, quality content for your twitter and generally boost your social media platform. Head on over and have a read, but while you're here why not sign up to Ruby's News and select one of my crime fiction / thrillers for free as a welcome gift!

Friday, 27 September 2013

Speak No Evil - Sensory Perception for Readers and Writers

There's now a regular slot for yours truly on the 26th of each month at Authors Electric. Hop on over and find out why this author will never get the Wise Monkey badge.

Saturday, 21 September 2013

How to Throw Money Down the Toilet

I have a lot of ideas about a lot of things. Some good, some bad. When it comes to marketing my books I decided to go through as many channels as possible. Amazon is a no-brainer so all my titles went up there straight away. Then there was Smashwords, acting as a distribution hub for Barnes & Noble, Apple, Kobo, Sony et al. The problem with Smashwords was the reaction time to changes in content, blurb and price. Apple and Kobo opened their doors to independent authors so I was able to put my titles directly on those channels (thanks to neighbour Noel for letting me use his Mac to get the titles up on Apple - they can then be managed via the web platform). Barnes & Noble were open to a direct approach and refreshed their offering with NookPress but it remained closed to authors outside of the US and I'm in Ireland. So I replaced Smashwords with Draft2Digital as my route into B&N giving near real-time sales figures and price control.

But this wasn't enough complexity. I wanted to get my titles into other outlets. XinXii turned out to be a nice little route into german-speaking marketplaces. Then, as part of Marble City Publishing, my titles gained entry to the digital warehouse of UK distributor Gardners, resulting in listings on Hive, Kalahari, Dito, Bokkilden, Blackwell's, Foyle's, txtr and goodness knows where else.

So now my tendrils were out it was time to get into advertising. The Baptist had a nice little outing on Ereader News Today and achieved just under 400 sales at 99c sale price. I was fairly delighted and, after the two day promo period, adjusted back to $3.99 and started to rub my hands at the anticipated follow-on. Sales continued nicely but Amazon didn't re-adjust the price. I started to check my channels. Apple, Kobo, Smashwords, Sony, Barnes & Noble, who was the culprit? I had entered the full price on all the platforms, everything seemed to be under control, but Amazon were sticking to that 99c. Then I found it. Kobo were taking days to adjust the sales price on their web store, even though the Kobo Writing Life platform looked like it had adjusted immediately. The result? After five days Kobo had adjusted and Amazon were quick to put The Baptist back to $3.99. More than $150 thrown down the toilet through price comparison to the tardy Kobo pricing. Live and learn.

Saturday, 31 August 2013

Author Skin Exposed? Get Some Snake Oil On There

Today I have a guest post on Authors Electric titled as above. It's a précis of the ebook publishing industry to date and tries to discover the secret of successful ebook marketing. Go take a look and see if you can identify the mystery snake oil vendors mentioned in the post.

Monday, 26 August 2013

Win A Professional Critique On The Opening Of Your Novel

Over on Multi-story they are running a competition to win a professional critique of your novel opening (up to 2500 words) by Booker Prize nominated author Jim Williams. Three winners will receive an incisive critique from Jim who has had twelve novels internationally published to critical acclaim, and he describes here what he is looking for in the winning entries. Entry to the competition is open until 30th September 2013 and here are the rules.

Thursday, 15 August 2013

GAAngsta's Paradise - an Irish rap

A little bit of Irish social commentary - (rap it in your head to the original Gangsta's Paradise by Coolio feat LV).

As I shuffle down High Street struggling for breath

I take a look at my wife and realise she hasn’t left - yet

Which is kinda surprising, considering what’s been going on

With pay cuts and no hair cuts and no manicures and so on

The wallet’s pretty empty but I guess I deserve it

After all I’m just a gutter living, whining public servant

Enough negative, I got a job, I should be grateful

We ain’t eating beef steak, we gotta eat pork, so

The kids need clothes and stuff, ’cos they gotta look cool

But my shoes are puppy-chewed and I dress like an old fool

A meal out these days is a trip to KFC

And the mot tries saving money at Lidl, or Aldi

We’re wasting all our lives

In Bertie and Enda’s paradise

We’ve been spending most our lives

In a self-deluded paradise

We’re wasting all our lives

In Fianna something paradise

We’ve been spending most our lives

In a paper tiger paradise

Look at the situation they got us all facing

Ain’t nothing gonna be free, gotta pay for everything

Next thing you know they’ll ban hurls in the hood

That ain’t gonna go down well at all with us culchees

We got educated fools in the ivory tower

Got a hurl in my hand, wanna whack ’em in the bollox

Except we don’t wanna complain, wouldn’t be cool

Don’t wanna be a parody or appear like a tool, no

Debt ain’t nothing but a heartbeat away

Them Argos special offers only available til Friday

Equity is negative but I don’t give a flying fuck

We’re staying in this house til we die

Tell me why were we so blind to see

The answer don’t lie in property

We’re wasting all our lives

In a Fianna something paradise

We’ve been spending most our lives

In a self-deluded paradise

We’re wasting all our lives

In Fianna something paradise

We’ve been spending most our lives

In a paper tiger paradise

Powers and Jameson, Jameson and Powers

Paddy Power betting, open til late hours

Playing on the Lotto, playing Euromillions

Planning out your future on improbable statistics, yeah

You say your gonna win but you know no one who has

You got a better chance of winning the local beauty competition

We gotta run, we gotta play, we gotta score

Or else we’re fucked, ’cos this country’s outta luck, bud

We’re wasting all our lives

In a Fianna something paradise

We’ve been spending most our lives

In a paper tiger paradise

We’re wasting all our lives

In a Fianna something paradise

We’ve been spending most our lives

In a self-deluded paradise

Tell me why were we so blind to see

The answer don’t lie in property

And what do we bring to the party

Negative equity

We’re wasting all our lives

In a Fianna something paradise

We’ve been spending most our lives

In a self-deluded paradise

We’re wasting all our lives

In a Fianna something paradise

We’ve been spending most our lives

In a paper tiger paradise

words © by Ruby Barnes

Note: GAA Gaelic Athletic Association 

Sunday, 21 July 2013

Suffer little children

How about this? My nine year-old was on a two day camp here in Ireland a few weeks ago, with a club that shall remain nameless. Instructions to parents included "please ensure that sun protection cream is provided."
He returned from a great time a bit sore. He does tan but it had been very hot and sunny, and his upper back was badly burnt. The adult supervisors told the kids they weren't allowed to apply sun protection to the children's skin as the rules prevent them touching the kids. Also the kids weren't supervised to apply cream to each other where they couldn't reach. My son had managed to smear sun cream on most of his body except the upper back.
We've always been so careful to avoid the kind of burning and peeling of previous generations. A couple of nights of bad sleep, after-sun lotion liberally applied, then the peeling. I was pretty angry at the time but the club was closed for summer and I soon moved on to being a grumpy old man about other things.
Today we were buying lunch at an outdoor event when a man with kids said hello to my son. He said he knew him from the camp club wotsit nameless thingy and asked me if my son had been one of the burn victims. His own son had been hospitalised with second degree burns and given morphine; things had been much worse for him than for my son. I began to express my opinions on the neglect exhibited, lack of supervision, risk to future health and the nonsense of no one exhibiting some common sense. He said he had been there but they weren't allowed to touch the kids and the kids wouldn't have applied the cream to each other.
What was today's event? It was a fundraiser for cancer.

Saturday, 13 July 2013

Out of the Mouths of Babes #poem

Weird Sounds
by Eoin, age 9
Kilkenny, Ireland

The quietest sound in the world must be
An ant trying to crawl into the sea.

The saddest sound in the world must be
A dog whining because he wants his tea.

The funniest sound in the world must be
a person burping as loud as me.

The loudest sound in the world must be
someone screaming like a banshee.

Thursday, 4 July 2013

Grabbing the Knife by its Edge - #Goodreads paperback giveaway

Marble City Publishing is doing a Goodreads Giveaway of two paperback copies of the Knife Edge Anthology. This collection of twenty-five crime / thriller / mystery / suspense stories has had a great reception in online bookstores and all profits go to the children's literacy charity There are twenty-three writers involved including Marble City authors (Jim Williams, yours truly and others) and winners from the recent genre competition at Click below to enter the giveaway.

Goodreads Book Giveaway

Knife Edge by Jim Williams

Knife Edge

by Jim Williams

Giveaway ends August 12, 2013.
See the giveaway details at Goodreads.
Enter to win

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 "pícaro," 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: