Book Lovers Day!

It’s Book Lovers Day today – and no better time to spread the book love! I have some review copies of my novel, LADY BETH to give to readers / reviewers / bookbloggers in return for an honest review.

If you are interested you can contact me via this blog, on TWITTER, on FACEBOOK or by emailing me at Farrell (dot) caroline (at) gmail (dot) com.

You can read some of the reviews I have been receiving on the book on GOODREADS HERE.

Happy Reading to all my fellow Book Lovers!!

The Librarian’s Cellar: The Night of the Hunter by David Grubb

Although the film adaptation has long been one of my all time favourites, to my shame, I had never read this classic book until it was recently recommended to me. And wow. I think I likened the experience of reading it to being cosseted in a dimly lit parlour full of old friends, curled up in front of an open fire, shins burning yet unable to move. The plight of young John Harper, an innocent child shadowed by sinister evil while trying to protect his little sister, Pearl – and to protect the legacy of his late father’s twisted last wish – had me riveted all the way to the final denouement. First published in 1953, and inspired by a real serial killer, the character of The Hunter, fake preacher, Harry Powell, is the creepiest depiction of relentless evil I think I have ever read. You won’t forget the preacher Powell. He will crawl right in there, under your skin as author, David Grubb’s gothic prose assaults your senses.

 

Caroline Farrell is the author of the novel, LADY BETH, and is screenwriter of the short films, ADAM and IN RIBBONS.

On Writing: Some thoughts on Reviews

I wouldn’t class myself as a regular book reviewer, though I often post recommendations for books that I have enjoyed on my Blog and Facebook Page The Librarian’s Cellar. I like to keep these personal recommendations separate from any reviews I may receive on my own book, Lady Beth, though occasionally there may be an overlap – a mutual appreciation of written work. Nothing wrong with that. Good books need to be shared!

For any author, book reviews are not only the greatest compliment that a reader can offer, they really do help to terms of visibility for a novel, which otherwise, can get lost in a very crowded book market. Honest reviews are also so helpful to other readers in discovering books and making informed choices when spending hard-earned money in an environment so inundated with material. As I seek reviews for my own novel, I’ve been doing a bit of research, looking at the many ways authors look for reviews:

  • ARCs: Advanced Reader Copies: Sent out to a mailing list of readers for review before the book is published. This helps to get reviews up early in the week of publication.
  • Media Submissions: Sending the book to newspapers, magazines and radio. A hard slog which requires a lot of research and correspondence, but gold when a book is featured.
  • Author Endorsements: Not always resulting in a written review, but generally a quote on the book that can be used for marketing purposes. For an author, particularly a newbie, these endorsements are gold. (I treasure mine!)
  • Giveaways: Competitions for free downloads of ebooks or the chance to receive a paperback version. Can be successful when used as a marketing tool, but there is no guarantee that everyone who receives a copy will review, or even read the book. Also, postage costs can be expensive if sending paperbacks out.
  • Book Bloggers: Book lovers who read and review books. These are wonderful people with a genuine love for reading and an interest in sharing good work, and it is an honour for an author to have a book featured. However, they can often be inundated with material and may not get to read and review everything they receive.
  • Virtual Book Tours: A pre-arranged virtual tour where book bloggers and authors feature book reviews/interviews with authors. Hard work, but a lot of fun, and a great way to connect with readers and to highlight books and authors.
  • Author review groups:
  • (a) Where authors swap reviews (I would not recommend this option!)
  • (b) Where an author chooses a book to review in the hope that another member of the same group will choose theirs, either through a verified purchase or as a free download. There are some very ethical groups who engage in this process, but I’m not sure – some authors complain that while they have read and reviewed several books, their own books have not been reviewed – in other words, people want their own books reviewed, but aren’t willing to become reviewers.
  • Purchased Reviews: Websites that authors can submit books for review for a fee (a definite no-no as far as I am concerned!)
  • Honest Reviews from Readers: Reaching out to readers to seek honest reviews in the good old-fashioned way.

If you have any proven tips or are aware of any other methods for seeking reviews, please share! In the meantime, I have some review copies of Lady Beth to send out, so if you, or someone you know, is interested in writing an honest review on Amazon or Goodreads or any good book review site, please do get in touch and I will send you a free copy. You can contact me HERE, or via FACEBOOK or TWITTER

Thanks for Reading!

Talking about writing: Featured Interview

Many thanks to author Wanda Dehaven Pyle for this feature interview on her blog.

https://wandadehavenpyle.wordpress.com/2017/05/16/interview-with-caroline-farrell/

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!

Going Indie: And Why Not?

I like the term Indie Publishing. I’m an Indie Filmmaker – putting skin in the game to get my films made. I am a storyteller. I write screenplays. I write fiction. So when it comes to novels, why wouldn’t I take the independent route as well? Just like the film industry, you only learn in the ‘doing’ when it comes to writing and producing work, and the past couple of years have taught me a lot in terms of the publishing industry in all of its tranches; traditional, assisted – and self-publishing – of which I have now well and truly dipped the proverbial toe.

I’ve also experimented through the gamut of submitting the traditional way, to writing online and publishing my efforts for feedback, to publishing a finished work in ebook format, to going through the whole shebang with the paperback. I’ve made mistakes and thankfully, my readers have been both encouraging and forgiving. I have learned so much from them, and am grateful. There are also organisations that are invaluable to the advocacy and learning process of self-publishing, The Alliance of Independent Authors being at the forefront of ensuring professionalism and a code of standards.

While working through all of the above, I also sent out a sample of my novel to three of the biggest agents in Ireland; one has yet to reply. The other two did, in quick time, and with professionalism and honesty. While both gave positive and constructive comments on my work, both also stated that they are working in very difficult market conditions, which without doubt, limits the selection of work they can afford to take on. I completely understand that, and have so much admiration for publishing companies who take a chance on new writers and who keep supporting established ones. My experience as a Librarian for almost twenty years, working on a literary festival for seven, I’ve also talked to so many authors from all sides of the industry, whom I greatly admire, and reckon I’ve garnered a pretty comprehensive knowledge of how things work. It’s a tough game. Authors work hard. Publishers work hard. Respect. For now though, I don’t have the advantage of a publishing house at my back for the essentials of editor, proof reads, cover design, marketing and promotion, but I’m managing all that, and continue to learn from it.

Ultimately, the culmination of all of that accumulative learning and ‘doing’ is the fact that I am now in a position to make an informed decision on what is right for me at the present time; to stick with Indie Publishing. And here are my top ten reasons for doing so:

  1. Print-On-Demand! The risk is mine – and mine alone.
  2. Ebooks! Accessible and cheap. I read now more than ever with my Kindle!
  3. I connect directly with Readers and Writers – and learn from them.
  4. The start-up investment is manageable – and balanced by higher royalties.
  5. I retain complete control over everything I publish.
  6. Without contracts, I can write what I like, when I like.
  7. I have the freedom to experiment and to move outside any genre.
  8. The services and support to get it right are out there.
  9. I’m in the exceptionally good company of dedicated and supportive Indie, Traditional and Hybrid authors, more and more of whom are self-publishing back catalogues and/or moving into Indie publishing with new work.
  10. It is fun. The learning, the doing, the achievement. And the possibilities are endless.

I’ve never been a fan of labels, I want to express my writing in the genres and formats that feel right for me. and whether I work on a screenplay, a novel, or a short story, in the end, I am a storyteller.

LADY BETH is available from Amazon Stores.

ARKYNE,STORY OF A VAMPIRE is available from Amazon Stores.

From the Wilde Side: Inside Reading Gaol

For the first time ever, Reading Gaol has been opened to the public, particularly poignant as it coincides with a magnificent Artangel – Inside: Writers and Artists in Reading Prison, an exhibition of new works that have been created in response to the prison’s architecture and history. Leading artists, writers and filmmakers that include Steve McQueen, Marlene Dumas, Nan Goldin, Robert Gober, Jeannette Winterson and many more have produced work that has been installed in the prison cells, wings and corridors.

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At last I saw the shadowed bars

Like a lattice wrought in lead,

Move right across the whitewashed wall

That faced my three-plank bed,

And I knew that somewhere in the world

God’s dreadful dawn was red.

From ‘The Ballad of Reading Goal’ by Oscar Wilde.

I have to admit, it was a spine-tingling moment to stand in Prison Cell C.2.2. – no matter how much it might have changed (or not!) over the years since 1897 when Wilde was released from his two-year sentence. I also still find it difficult to believe that the prison was only closed in 2013!

For much of his time there, Oscar was not even allowed to write, but with a change of Governor, was eventually given access to enough paper to complete De Profundis, a letter written to his lover, Lord Alfred Douglas.

“Inside the great prison where I was then incarcerated, I was merely the figure and the letter of a little cell in a long gallery, one of a thousand lifeless numbers, as of a thousand lifeless lives.”

From De Profundis, 1897. Oscar Wilde.

The current exhibition provides audio recordings of De Profundis from Colm Tóibín, Patti Smith, Ralph Fiennes, Neil Bartlett, Kathryn Hunter and many more.

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The books that Oscar requested and was eventually allowed to have in his cell. He deliberately avoided asking for any titles that might have been viewed as contentious.

You can check out further details of the ‘Artangel’ Exhibition HERE