An Omen? Or just the flutterings of a dumb bird?

A Raven sits on my mantelpiece, surveying all and sundry with a haughty eye. Arkyne, as I call him, is cast iron, in body and, yes, I believe, in spirit. He travelled here from a curio and antiques store in a small town called Cashmere in Washington, USA. As I recall, the suitcase didn’t make it onto our flight home from Seattle, well not until two days later, and I worried so for Arkyne, if he would ever get here. My treasured dark-winged harvester.

So, the other day, while we were out, we got a call from our neighbour that our house alarm was going off. Turning back from our journey, all the usual scenarios went through my head, but reaching home, there was silence, the house unturned, except for the strange and unusual code that flashed on the alarm keypad.  A number we had never seen before.

And then I ascended the stairs, and coming at me, invoking my best Tippi Hedren screech and dramatic pose, were two flapping black wings and a haughty eye, heading straight for mine! As I cowered against the impending gouging, my hysterical cry of It’s a bird! somehow translated to It’s a burglar! as it reached the ears of my better half, now downstairs in the kitchen. Thundering up the stairs he bounded, my defender, prepared to face down this unseen intruder, his face – and mine – creasing to confusion as neither burglar – nor bird – presented on the landing!

As my heart rate fluttered downwards, for a moment, I will admit, my very dark and fertile imagination wondered if Arkyne was still on the mantelpiece; if we had somehow found him out. Had we come upon his free gaff flight of fancy? Was this how he spent his time when we were not at home?

Yes, my better half gave me that same pitying get a grip look that you would probably like to give me right now.

We found the dark-winged intruder perched on my favourite chair. My husband opened the window, ordered him off the premises, and out he flew, though not before he hovered for a minute, eye to eye with the source of his liberation. Perhaps to say thanks? Perhaps to depart some omen, some warning, some message… or perhaps, it was simply a look of sympathy to the poor man having to live with this dumb bird!

On Writing: The process and importance of book reviews…

My novel, LADY BETH is out there…seeking honest reviews…and here’s why!

My book is finally published, and I curl up in a quiet corner to rest, sleep, ruminate on the exhausting, though hopefully, exhilarating process I have just experienced in the writing – the editing – the formatting – the cover design – the launch!

And then I remember – I ain’t finished yet. Not by a long shot!!

Next I have to market my baby, get it out there, get it SEEN, get it READ, get it ENDORSED, get it REVIEWED!

I am not complaining. I am proud of my work and I enjoy the process, all of it. And I know what my goal here is. Simply, for my work to be READ.

It might seem obvious to say that book reviews engage readers. Worth repeating though. Book reviews, when they are honest, constructive and hopefully, positive, give kudos to a book, and therefore, allow potential readers to have confidence to know that the book is quality. That it is worth the spend of their hard-earned cash, and their precious time.

An interesting point to note also is that all reviews do not have to be 5 Stars – as long as an average of 3.5 stars or higher can be achieved, and that the reviews are from genuine and discerning readers, it is the quantity of reviews that count, no matter how short or long those reviews are.

Book reviews on Amazon are tied in to that lovely system of algorithms – Amazon rank books according to their popularity, the more reviews the book gets, the more the book gets seen! The more the book gets seen, the more potential readers…

If you are reading this, you are a reader. If you’ve recently read a book that you’ve enjoyed, consider giving it a review – you’ll be supporting, not just authors, but readers too. Share the good word!

LADY BETH is available from AMAZON Stores.


 

The Librarian’s Cellar: The Mistletoe Bride and Other Haunting Tales

Haunting, as in lingering like shadows when you’ve finished the book entirely, The Mistletoe Bride and Other Haunting Tales by Kate Mosse is a lovely read. Nothing gorey or horrific, the book is filled with winsome characters and haunted houses…buildings that hold secrets, and spirits that connect with the living. The author, who takes her inspiration for these stories from English and French legend and folklore, has also included notes on each story, and one play, which gives the reader some insight. A delightful collection to dip in and out of, especially on a winter night, with candles casting shadows and the wind tapping at your window…

LADY BETH: GOODREADS GIVEAWAY!

LADY BETH GOODREADS GIVEAWAY launches Friday, March 31st!

ENTER for your chance to win one of TEN SIGNED COPIES!

Goodreads Book Giveaway

Lady Beth by Caroline E. Farrell

Lady Beth

by Caroline E. Farrell

Giveaway ends April 23, 2017.

See the giveaway details
at Goodreads.

Enter Giveaway

See AMAZON Reviews HERE

LADY BETH: Praise for the novel…

Putting your writing out in the world is a risk. The risk of being criticised. Of being rubbish. Of being ignored. Sometimes though, the risk pays off and I am so grateful for the praise and encouragement I have received so far for LADY BETH and am delighted to share the good word and positive vibes here!

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From Liz Nugent. Author of Unravelling Oliver and Lying in Wait.

Sat down to read the first 30 pages of Lady Beth this afternoon and just kept turning the pages until I’d finished! Compelling grit-lit.

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From Martin Malone. Author of Black Rose Days, Deadly Confederacies and Other Stories, US, Valley of the Peacock Angel, The Silence of the Glasshouse, After Kafra, The Lebanon Diaries.

Given the author’s previous works, a vampire tale, I was a little concerned that the title of Caroline Farrell’s latest novel, Lady Beth, might have been of the same genre, ensuring that I would not have consumed a word beyond its blurb. I’ve had enough of those bloodsuckers. Described as an urban thriller Lady Beth is stylishly written and has Gothic influences in its telling, which lend a splendid and chilling atmosphere to the story.

Set in the seedy world of drugs, the reader is presented with characters that are, too sadly, only too believable. The book steams ahead at a cracking pace, but not so quickly that we lose sight of what’s at stake, and who and what has been lost. The novel deals with loss, some serious secrets and the dark side of human nature, but there are redeeming traits in several of the characters, especially Frankie, who epitomises what it is to be a product of his environment.

Beth escaped a harrowing sub-existence to begin a new life for herself and her baby Jesse, who as a teenager is full of angst and rebellion; he travels the same route as his mother had done years before, to his detriment. When things in her life fully unravel, Beth sets out for revenge against the source of her ills; a confrontation with a brutal and controlling man known as The Poet…one wrong move from her, one hollow sentence, one false expression and she will not live to repeat another.

Lady Beth is a hugely entertaining read with well-crafted characters, and a strong plot-line. There are no vampires, but in hindsight, there actually are, but they’re defanged…which, by the way, makes some of the characters in Lady Beth no less menacing and no less dangerous. Really, a very worthy read.

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From Lissa Oliver. Author of Sainte Bastien, Chantilly Downs, Gala Day and Nero.

Gritty warts-and-all crime thriller, a real page-turner. Plenty of twists and an array of well-drawn characters you care about, propelling you forward to the end.The heroine is a fiercely protective single mother who loses her son to drug addiction and can either cave in completely or seek revenge. Past demons add to her torment. You feel her pain as she hovers on the brink of that agonising choice, the interesting cast of characters around her ready to help in whatever direction she takes. A departure from the usual books I read and well worth it, the author has used an interesting and unusual narrative technique that really adds to the suspense and mystery.

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From Fiona Ashe. Filmmaker and Editor of 31 Years of Hell! 1914-1945

I was captivated first by the eye-catching cover of the book ‘Lady Beth’. As a huge fan of Noir, the imagery immediately drew me into that style. The story lived up to expectations. It’s a thrilling journey into a dangerous world. The story is fuelled by tension and high stakes. I became immersed in the desperate lives of fascinating characters who are all plagued by inner traumas. The book delivers multiple hard-hitting surprises, resulting in a powerful ending. A truly compelling read!

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From Lindsay J Sedgwick. Author of Dad’s Red Dress. Screenwriter of Punky, Wulfie and Barzakh. Playwright of Fried Eggs and All Thumbs.

I devoured it! The story was riveting and not at all what I expected – gritty and dark and very human and sad and a real roller-coaster of a ride! On every page, there were surprises. There’s a rawness to the writing and an energy and the characters are so complex. The choices they make are logical to them but not predictable ever.

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From Bob Gillen. Author of Understanding digital Storytelling, Filmmaking Basics: how to find your creative voice, Apart, The Man at the Door.

Don’t miss this one. A truly dark story, rising up out of the deeps of urban Dublin. A woman lifts herself up from a sordid, soulless past to build a normal life in the light of day. But darkness follows her, waiting for its moment. A death forces her to face her dark realities again, to confront the pain she masked for years. Is redemption possible? The author does an excellent job creating a tight story. Lots of twists and reveals. Strong characters. An exciting read. Caroline Farrell is not afraid to reach down into the dark to pull it back up into the light.

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LADY BETH is available from Amazon Stores and from Kindle Unlimited.

Signed copies are also available from this website HERE

The Librarian’s Cellar: Dave At Large

As controversial and challenging as ever, Dave Allen is back. He’s still dead though! Up there, down there, somewhere. Written by Brian McAvera and co-directed by the writer and Joe Devlin, the play is produced by Directions Out Theatre Company.

The essence of the man, the comedian, the commentator, is portrayed by not one, but three exceptionally talented actors, Bryan Murray, Michael Bates and Tara Breathnach, each one encompassing traits of Allen’s personality and unique performance style.

This is a must-see show, packed with satire, comedy, memoir. In a haze of nostalgia, whiskey and cigarettes, no topic is safe, politics, religion, sex, family, death ( and classic literature!) and all interpreted from the irreverent mind of a man born way ahead of his time. A magnificent tribute to an iconic Irish comedian, the play is now on tour and hitting the following venues. Go see it!

Civic Theatre, Tallaght: 13-18 March

Town Hall, Galway: 21st March

An Grianan, Letterkenny: 22nd March

Theatre Royal, Waterford: 24th March

Wexford Arts Centre: 25th March

Viking Theatre, Clontarf: 27th March – 8th April.

On Inspiration…and why everything truly is copy!

I never kept diaries as a kid, and even today, as a devout scribbler, I find that the most trying times are the ones that are difficult to write down, in that moment, anyway. So it often becomes a shorthand of blunt sentences, enough to revisit when the crisis is over. Enough to jolt the memory, or for inspirational purposes, to fire the imagination; representing the real, I like to call it!

There are people however, some who don’t even consider themselves to be writers, who do manage to record their experiences in intricate detail, however traumatic, putting pen to paper at every point of their journey, until coming out at the other side of it. Talking to a female acquaintance recently on a rather difficult experience she had gone through, she told me that she would not have remembered or been able to describe what happened to her so vividly, had she not been writing it down as she experienced it. It was important for her to remember; to have it recorded for the future.

“You own everything that happened to you. Tell your stories. If people wanted you to write warmly about them, they should have behaved better.”

So wrote Anne Lamott. An accomplished writer, her non-fiction work is greatly influenced by her own struggles, her writing best described by the author herself;  “I try to write the books I would love to come upon, that are honest, concerned with real lives, human hearts, spiritual transformation, families, secrets, wonder, craziness—and that can make me laugh.” I posted Lamott’s quote on my Facebook page a while back, and a writer friend responded with another quote, from the late and great, Nora Ephron:

“Everything is copy.”

In the introduction to her novel, Heartburn (based on her personal experience of a marriage break-up) the wonderful Ephron elaborated further when she wrote of becoming the hero, rather than the victim of the joke. I am sure that many of us can identify with the sentiment? Not that I advocate dusting down tomes of snotty, tear-stained journals of youth and regurgitating a narrative of some exquisitely nostalgic pain-ridden experience. Nor indeed, some vengeful tale of ridicule to spite the target of your blame – though, it has to be said that all is fair in the land of fiction – so whatever floats your boat!

Recorded on paper or not, with distance, time-passing and maturity, and perhaps with a third-person narrative, stories of self can come to life in three-dimensional worlds that make meaning of experience, and hopefully generate empathy and connection with others. Removing the shield of author, and stripping away the mechanisms that hide the fragility of a human being alone, we know what we experienced, and we know how it felt. How we looked out at the world and the people in it, how we continue to do that. The difference between being a child as opposed to being an adult is that, as the former, we are powerless to our fate, and powerless to change anything. Becoming the latter enables empowerment to not only steer our own course, but more importantly, to change our ways of thinking, reacting and of just being. We can decide to be weak, or we can determine to be strong, and to analyse our past to the point of not wallowing in the soreness of it, but in recognizing how our experiences have shaped us – and perhaps, to step outside of it all, to write it out in a fictional world as we look back in; the spectator.

 Man is least himself when he talks in his own person. Give him a mask, and he will tell you the truth. [Oscar Wilde]

For the writer’s inspiration, this is gold. For the writer’s soul, this is life.

 

Photograph is the copyright of Errol Farrell. 2017