The Librarian’s Cellar: Great Reads – Luisne An Chleite

I received this beautifully produced anthology as a gift, and just had to share it here.

Filled with creative input from writers and artists living in Kildare, the book is a revelation of poetry, prose, paintings and drawings from a very talented collective. For the Gaelgoirs, there are also some lovely Irish language pieces, and what a fabulous title Luisne an ChleiteInspiration of the Quill. Well done to the Wordsmiths Creative Writing Group on the creation and publication of such a gorgeous book, and kudos to Celine Broughal (Writer and Librarian!) and to the library service for supporting such a lovely project.

The Librarian’s Cellar: At the Cinema – THE RIDER

If you get a chance to see THE RIDER, please do, a visceral, beautifully directed film.

Rodeo champ, Brady Blackburn is recovering from a serious head injury, and must come to terms with the devastating possibility that he may never compete in the rodeo again. Horses and riding are in his blood, and this magical relationship with the most majestic animal in the world is so well conveyed. The film is a gentle study of the very masculine world of cowboys, set in the beautiful, though uncompromising South Dakota plains. What makes The Rider stand out is Writer and Director Chloé Zhao’s choice to use non-actors and real-life situations. Even more poignant is Brady’s relationships with his autistic sister, and with his best friend, Lane Scott, who plays himself, also a Rodeo Champion who is now completely paralysed following a serious accident while competing.

Although the subject matter is dark, Brady’s resilience shines through. His fate is promising – his skills and love of horses will carry him through. Superb acting from Brady Jandreau, one to watch, and wonderful storytelling. Chloé Zhao is a talented filmmaker, also one to watch!

 

The Rider | Drama, Western | 2017 |

Cover Image may be subject to copyright.

Battle with the TBR Tower: October Reads

I’m a bit late with posting this as I’ve hit the ground running for November, but I’m still here, continuing my reading challenge, and in October I chose to read spooky novels, and ended up sneaking in a couple of titles that were not on the original list. See HERE

I only managed to read 3 and not 5 novels, as I had hoped, but no apologies, and no excuses – time has a mind of its own! Also, as you know if you have been following me, I’m not in the business of slating other writer’s work, and I only post about books I have enjoyed. Luckily, all three from October’s pile have gotten the thumbs up!

 

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The Nightmare: F.B. Hogan

This collection of 7 short stories contains themes of horror and tales of the unexpected. A great little book to dip in and out of on a cold, dark night be the fire, or tucked up beneath the duvet! The ghostly in the everyday is acutely observed, my top 3 favourites being, Ventry, the hauntingly sad, yet retributive Always, and the wicked I’ve Got My Eye on You. These stories will keep you suitably chilled!

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The Lingering: SJI Holliday

A couple with a disturbing secret enter a spiritual commune, their aim, to make a fresh start, and to get away from their dark past. The commune just happens to be located in a rambling, haunted manor house, which also used to be an asylum. All the ingredients for a fairly spooky read, The Lingering is a disquieting blend of suspense and horror.

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You Let me In: Lucy Clarke

Chilling and compulsive reading, I didn’t want to put this down until I had read the very last page. Lots of twists and turns, but so expertly structured that I followed along seamlessly, and woah – I’ll bet that there will be authors out there who identify so much with the character of bestselling writer, Elle Fielding and her social media persona! This was my first Lucy Clarke book to read, but it won’t be the last.

 

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Caroline E Farrell is a writer, blogger and filmmaker. She is the author of the award-winning novel, LADY BETH. Her short film, FRAMED (2018) is currently screening at festivals worldwide, and she is also the writer of the multi-award winning short film IN RIBBONS (2015) and ADAM (2013). Caroline was a finalist in the 2018 Blog Awards Ireland.

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Wonderful Things!

Three wonderful things happened this week.

The First Thing! This blog was a finalist in the Irish Blog Awards in two categories: Books & Literature and Arts & Culture, so naturally, I was pretty chuffed to attend the awards night in the TRAMLINE Venue, Dublin. The theme of the night was Dia de los Muertos, hence a great excuse to dress up, and the place was only heaving with positivity and good will, and although I didn’t win, I am delighted for all those who did, particularly those in my categories. I keep this blog going because it gives me pleasure to do so, and I get to share, through The Librarian’s Cellar, my favourite books, films, guest interviews and occasional theatre reviews. Through the general side of the Blog, SHE BLOGS, I can write to my heart’s content all things that relate to my personal passion: writing and filmmaking.  So thank you, Irish Blog Awards – the recognition is much appreciated!

The Second Thing! FRAMED, my directorial debut, is in the official selection of The Directors Circle Festival of Shorts in the horror film category. Supporting bold, visionary filmmakers while advancing the art form of film with remarkable cinematic technologies and experiences. the festival takes place in Erie, Pennsylvania, and is the eleventh film festival that FRAMED has been selected to screen at – so far!! I couldn’t have done it without the help and support of such a generous and talented cast and crew, so here I go, thanking them profusely, once again!

The Third Thing! LADY BETH, and a lovely reminder that it is one year since my book won BEST NOVEL at the Carousel Aware Prize Awards. It’s been a fantastic year (moving way to fast though!) and for this too, I am so grateful to everyone who encouraged me to push it out there, read it, praised it, critiqued it, and helped to spread the word. For all these reasons, I would like to pay it forward and have 10 signed copies of Lady Beth to give away. Simply let me know if you would like one.

I am a firm believer in magic, whether it pays you the occasional visit or you make your own, keep creating. It might even return threefold!

Reading Challenge: Progress on my battle with the TBR Tower!

I’m sure I am not alone in rarely being able to resist the temptation of buying new books, despite the growing To Be Read tower already tilting over on the floor of my spare room. To combat my addiction – and it is one folks, it is an addiction – at the beginning of September, I decided to take 20 titles in total, most from the physical book tower, and the remainder from my Kindle, also bulging with waiting to be read works.

See my original post HERE.

I figured if I read 5 books per month between September and December, I could finish the list by New Year’s Eve, though I give myself permission to replace any title that isn’t grabbing me in the first chapter. So far, I haven’t had to resort to that, and am proud to say that I have finished the 5 books I set aside for September. So, here they are, with comments on each:

Her Name Was Rose: Claire Allan

Lonely Emily witnesses a terrible accident when a car mows down a young mother, killing her. Convincing herself that it should have been her who died that day, Emily becomes obsessed with the dead woman’s life through social media, and in particular, with her widowed husband, Cian. No spoilers here, but this is a gripping murder mystery, peeling secretive layers from an ensemble of characters as Emily moves further and further into danger…

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The Collector: John Fowles

Published in 1963, The Collector grabbed me from the very first paragraph and kept me consumed with the story until the last page. Switching between the narratives of the captor, the socially inept Frederick Clegg, and the captive, pretty middle-class art student, Miranda Grey, the darkness of the subject matter is subtlety, yet powerfully conveyed through the author’s acute study of the foibles, gender and psychology of these compelling characters. A truly dark chiller, I loved it!


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Sweet Little Lies: Caz Frear

Detective Cat Kinsella is working on a case, a case in which she suspects her own father of a terrible crime! A very popular debut from Caz Frear with lots of twists, intrigue and clever intertwining of family drama! A sharply written procedural crime novel, Sweet Little Lies is elevated by the witty dialogue that peppers a dark story with some light relief as we follow a very human and ‘over empathic’ main character as her personal and professional worlds collide.

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House of Spines: Michael J Malone

Struggling author, Ranald McGhie, has suffered from mental illness, a result of trauma and disappointment in his early life. When he inherits a rambling mansion from a deceased uncle he had never known, Ranald’s life changes dramatically. Although there are many tropes in this chilling mystery, Malone weaves the story rather well. A thriller bound with supernatural elements, House of Spines is a page-turner.


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The Dead Girls: Derek Flynn

Inspired by real life accounts of highway murders in the US, The Dead Girls is a well-crafted, dark thriller that features an often used, stalwart component of crime fiction, the flawed ex-cop turned private detective, in this case, John Ryan, hired to find a missing girl. The subject matter is harsh, dealing with sexual violence, murder, alcoholism and drug abuse, with a cast of characters that feel authentic to the world. This is the second book to feature Ryan, the first being Broken Falls. The ending of this one suggests a third novel in the making, and I certainly hope so, because there is unfinished business for John Ryan!


 

So there you have it, my progress so far. Now wish me luck for October – and since it is the month of all things ghoulish – so too will be my reading material!!

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Caroline E. Farrell is a writer and filmmaker. Her novel, LADY BETH was awarded BEST NOVEL by the Carousel Aware Prize in 2017. She has also written and directed the short film, FRAMED (2018) currently on the festival circuit, and has written and co-produced the award-winning IN RIBBONS (2015) and ADAM (2013). She is currently working on her latest novel. 

The Librarian’s Cellar: At The Cinema – The House With A Clock In Its Wall

Well, I loved this one! Adapted by Eric Kripke from the 1973 novel by John Bellairs, The House With A Clock In Its Walls tells the tale of Lewis (Owen Vaccaro), a 10 year-old orphan who goes to live with his uncle Jonathan (Jack Black), a man he has never met before. Jonathan, as Lewis will soon find out, is a warlock, and lives in a very quirky and mysterious house – a house that ticks – literally! Cate Blanchette plays the enchanting Florence, Jonathan’s next door neighbour.

For Lewis, a clever, yet vulnerable young boy coming to terms with the death of his parents, moving to live with his uncle will not just give him a new start in life, it will open up a whole new world of wizardry and intrigue. But of course, there will be obstacles before Lewis finds his own kind of magic as he bonds with his new family. Lots of fun, great cast and the film looks spectacular. I reckon it will become a family favourite for many Halloween’s to come!!

 

The House With A Clock In Its Walls | 2018 | PG | Director: Eli Roth

Writers In Ireland: Amanda J Evans

This week on ‘Writers In Ireland’, I am chatting to Amanda J Evans, an award-winning author writing paranormal and fantasy romance novels as well as children’s stories. Amanda lives in Ireland with her husband and two children. Her first novel Finding Forever won Best Thriller in the 2017 Summer Indie Book Awards and her second novel Save Her Soul won Silver for Best Paranormal in the Virtual Fantasy Con Awards 2017. Amanda has a publishing deal with Handersen Publishing and her first children’s book, Nightmare Realities was released on the 25th of September 2017. Her latest story, Hear Me Cry, a fantasy romance telling of the old Irish myth of the Banshee won the Book of the Year Award at the Dublin Writers Conference 2018.

Growing up with heroes like Luke Skywalker and Indiana Jones, her stories centre on good versus evil with a splice of magic and love thrown into the mix. An early tragedy in her life has also made its way onto the page and Amanda brings the emotions of grief to life in her stories too. She is the author of Surviving Suicide: A Memoir from Those Death Left Behind, published in 2012.

Welcome, Amanda and congrats on your multiple awards! So, how long were you writing fiction before you were published?

I joined a writers group in early 2016 and this gave me the motivation to start writing every week. I’d always wanted to write for myself and have the confidence to put pen to paper but self-doubt always got in the way. In July 2016, we began a page a day challenge and that led to my first complete story, Finding Forever. I didn’t have the confidence to submit it to agents or publishers and after some great feedback from beta readers I chose to self-publish in January 2017. Finding Forever later went on to win Best Thriller in the Summer Indie Book Awards.

And did anyone – famous or not – inspire you to write?

No, writing has always been my go to for comfort and enjoyment for as long as I can remember. I spent hours in my bedroom writing as a child, filling copybooks with stories and scripts for new episodes of my favourite cartoons. Teenage years were spent writing poetry, and as life went on, writing took a backseat. It was always my go to though if I got down or needed answers and I love the joy that comes with putting pen to paper and just allowing the words to spill out. It’s therapeutic and I’d love to see journaling being added to school curriculums.

Do you write every day?

Yes. I write every morning, Monday to Friday. I usually get up at 7am and once I’ve checked all my social media and emails, I sit down with my iPad and type for about 40 minutes. I use my iPad because I have no distractions and no notifications. It’s just me and the screen and it works really well. Once I’ve completed my own writing, the rest of the days is taken up with client work. I am an SEO content manager for a large company in Canada so my days are spent typing up reviews and website content.

And you enjoy writing in multiple genres?

I think it might get boring to stay with the same genre forever. I don’t know any readers that only read the same genre of books, so I think it’s okay for writers to experiment in different genres too. Even Stephen King writes in different genres and everything isn’t just horror anymore. He mixes genres in a number of his books including epic fantasy, westerns, sci-fi, and more.

What are the themes you explore in your writing, Amanda?

I write YA and adult romance in a number of subgenres. I love happy ever afters and this is something I strive for in my books whilst still focusing on dark themes. I focus on the struggles and the pain of finding that happy ever after. In Finding Forever, my main character Liz is quiet and can’t make a decision for herself. When her husband goes missing, she is forced to rely on herself and find her own strength as she fights to get him back. In Save Her Soul, a paranormal romance, my main character Kate is a very strong, independent, young woman who is hell-bent on getting revenge on the people who murdered her sister. Hear Me Cry, my latest novella is a fantasy romance retelling of the Irish legend of the Banshee and deals with a lot of dark and deep emotions as well as reminding readers about the important of time.

How long does it take you to complete a book?

That all depends on characters and how willing they are to dictate their stories. In reality, it takes anywhere from 2 to 3 months to get a first draft done and depending on how busy my editor is, it can take another month or two to get the book polished.

Given that you have received so many, literary competitions and awards are obviously worthwhile?

I think literary competitions and awards are great for getting your name out there and getting recognition. I’ve read many interviews with authors who got their big break after winning a literary competition.

And your thoughts on Indie publishing?

I think indie publishing has turned the publishing industry around. It has given serious writers a way to get their stories out in to the world and have more control over the entire process. It also has a negative side in that anyone can publish a book and this, in the beginning, led to a lot of poorly edited and badly written books being published. It tarnished self-publishing and many people assumed that if you were self-published it was because you couldn’t get a “real” publisher. This is not the case and there are quite a lot of traditionally published authors who are choosing to embrace the self-publishing model too. I think on a whole it’s a wonderful way to get your stories out there, but it’s a lot of hard work too and you need to ensure that your book is the best it can be. This means having a professionally designed cover, paying for a professional editor, and taking the whole thing very seriously.

Do you have an agent?

I don’t have an agent at the moment as I have been self publishing, but I am working on a novel called Winterland that I plan to submit to agents and publishers in 2019. I don’t think it’s necessary to have an agent but I would love one. I think their expertise and knowledge of the publishing industry is invaluable and with an agent by my side my writing could reach a bigger audience.

And marketing and PR?

I do all my own marketing and PR work as a self-published author and it’s extremely difficult. I’d love to have a marketing or PR company to help me with this.

Thoughts on social media for authors?

Social media is a necessity in today’s world. It is expected of authors and part of your marketing. It’s time consuming too, but it has its benefits such as being able to engage with your readers.

Do you read your reviews, and if you have received any, how do you handle negative ones?

I had one negative review (1 star) for Finding Forever. The reviewer stated that they read the sample and enjoyed it so bought the book only to be disappointed to find the F word in the second chapter. Initially, I was gutted and considered rewriting and removing the F word, but after speaking with a number of other authors, I realised that my book won’t be for everyone. Surprisingly, when I mentioned that I’d received a 1 star review in one of the book groups on Facebook and the reason for it, my sales soared. 

Name six people, living or not, that you would like to share your favourite beverage with, and why?!

First off it would have to be my dad. I miss him so much and would love to be able to sit with him and talk about my life. After that, Roald Dahl because I loved his books growing up. Also Stephen King because I’d just love to get inside his mind and see how he comes up with his story ideas. Others would be Enid Blyton, Charlotte Bronte, and one of my writing friends, (they could argue about it themselves and choose who would come along).

And is there a book by another writer that you wish you had written?

There are a number of books that I’ve read over the past couple of years that have had a profound effect on me. Carnage by Lesley Jones, Bright Side by Kim Holden, and A Thousand Boy Kisses by Brittany Cherry, all showed me the power of emotions and allowing the reader to feel them. These were the first books to ever make me cry and after reading Carnage, I couldn’t even tell anyone about it without breaking into tears.

Tell me about your latest work and what inspired it?

I have a number of projects on the go at the moment. One of these is a second collection of short spooky stories for children aged 9+, called Nightmare Realities 2. This is for my US publisher Handersen Publishing. I’m also working on a new paranormal romance series, The Cursed Angels. Book 1, Visions, is complete and available in the Angels & Magic Collection until January 2019. I’m working on Book 2, Power. This series came about following a called for angel and magic themed stories. Once I read the post I immediately had an idea about two cursed angel brothers and a witch.

And finally, Amanda, do you have any advice for aspiring writers?

Don’t give up. Write as much as you can and as often as you can. Just go for it whether you’re a planner or a pantser, without words on the page you don’t have a story, and without a story you have nothing to work on. Get the first draft written and be proud of that. There are so many aspiring writers that never even get as far as completing a first draft so praise and congratulate yourself every step of the way. Once you have your first draft you can decide what you want to do next. Another very important thing – Enjoy it. If you don’t enjoy writing, the publishing world isn’t for you.

You can find links and more about Amanda’s books HERE