Critical reviews wanted in exchange for free books

Uh?

I published a novel, Border Line, in December 2014. I had a party, a stall at the village Christmas Fair, a book-signing at the local farm shop café, I went to the main book shops in my city, plus a few smaller shops in nearby towns. The local paper and the city paper wrote about me and my third novel. I sold plenty of copies at these events and a respectable number (for me) of print and eBooks on Amazon.

eBook cover

And that was more or less it. To be honest, when I have finished writing a novel, I am ready to put it behind me. No book of the imagination ever reaches the original vision, so the fun is in building a new vision and having another crack at it. So, I didn’t blog, tweet or go on facebook with requests to buy Border Line (and I am not going to do so now). I got on with the next project.

This was the important task of getting my non-fiction book about Far East POWs published. This was a very different task – completed last year and published by Pen & Sword – though the research and the follow-up work goes on.

Yet now, as I return to the writing fiction at last, the old questions about what works and what doesn’t in my writing are hovering over me again. Add into this mix some interesting posts from other bloggers about positive and negative reviews, especially how useful negative reviews (see Tara Sparling’s post) are to readers.

So we come to my idea. I would like to give away (UK or Europe only) six copies of Border Line in return for critical reviews on Amazon or Goodreads – and I mean critical – I DO NOT MIND if this results in two-star reviews (or more or less). I am a perpetual student, knowing what does and doesn’t work, are both equally useful.

I already know, for instance, that the ending of Border Line splits readers. So I am looking for personal views, what you loved or hated, what niggled or irritated you. Why you would or wouldn’t recommend this book to other readers. One line would be good, five to ten would be even better, write an essay if you feel like it.

If you are interested and want more information about the book go to the Border Line page of my website hilarycustancegreen.com

If you would like one of these free copies email me threadgoldpressAtwaitroseDotcom

If you are outside Europe and want to write a critical review, the eBook is not expensive.

Sunday Living History Interview – Far East Prisoners of War – Hilary Custance Green

Sally Cronin has once more given my recent work on Far East POWs and my other work the kind of polish I dream about, but never quite achieve. My thanks to her and all her visitors.

Smorgasbord - Variety is the spice of life

Living HistoryMy guest today is author Hilary Custance Green and she will be sharing the story her father’s imprisonment by the Japanese during World War II and the letters that were written to her mother Phyllis by the wives and families of other Far East Prisoners of War.

About Hilary Custance Green.

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Hilary had a nomadic childhood moving between England, Gibraltar, Germany and attending school in Belgium and therefore studying languages might have been the obvious choice. But it was art that was to become the priority. Hilary took degrees in Art History and Art Sculpture and then spent many years producing some stunning pieces. You will find examples of her work on her website: http://www.hilarycustancegreen.com/Hilary_Author_Website/Sculpture.html

This was not Hilary’s only creative endeavour as she also immersed herself in poetry and music both of which would feature side by side with her experience with the more scientific approach to brain health…

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Time, You Old Gypsy Man,

Will you not stay,

Put up your caravan

Just for one day?

etc Ralph Hodgson

It is more than a month since I posted here. My three email inboxes are bulging and I still haven’t posted flyers for Surviving the Death Railway to friends and relatives on my mailing list… A week today on Thursday 28 July, I will be giving a lecture at The National Archives in Kew titled Writing to a Ghost: Far East POWs (by this time a week today it will be over!). But this is the first of five going into November.

At the two launches for my book many people sweetly offered the same theme, with variations: ‘You must be so proud, now you can relax.’ I am proud of the people in the book and very happy that others have been able to recognise their achievements now and  yes, I’m pleased that I played a part in that. Relax? In my dreams.

In between these events I continue to attend the local Toastmasters Club, where I am learning to overcome my fear of public speaking. This is the warmest safest environment imaginable. Many bright young things, often giving speeches in their second language, as well as several of my own age – a very buzzy, happy, honest, international crowd – and that in spite of the nightmare of Brexit and many other world horrors. This provides a good reminder that the newspapers only tell us the bad stuff, there’s plenty of the other. Screen Shot 2016-07-21 at 22.06.36

And, the hedgehog still attends nightly (looking a little anxious about being photographed). I even saw three of them one night. DSCN9629 Of course the garden, a little neglected, will still be there when this caravan limps into a parking space. (These so-green photos were taken before the current heat wave!) DSCN9631 DSCN9606

See you all again soon.

Uh? And an old fence

I have several posts in waiting, but no time for responding. Still, this I had to share. Uh?Screen Shot 2016-03-11 at 22.22.58 Apart from the weird price, my page on Amazon.co.uk shows only this cover of the print version, and shows it three times (some at normal prices), but does NOT show the internet-friendly ebook cover borderline (you have to click through) . They also put books by Hilary Green (not me) on the same page. I have no idea if I have ever sold books because someone thought I was her, but I know she has had sales because someone thought she was me. Grrr.

When I can snatch time away from my desk, and the weather allows, I rush into the garden to wrestle with ivy – by far the most prolific plant in the garden. We are slowly replacing our fence (or rather experts will replace, we just do the destruction part). The need is urgent, we rather think this part dates back to the 1920s.DSCN8921 DSCN8920 DSCN8932

In case you want to know, even (niche) mainstream publishing means you spend your time at your desk organising publicity materials, mailing lists, launch parties and worrying about who you have forgotten in your acknowledgements.

Spring is coming. DSCN8896

Edit – I have just had an email from the Pen & Sword commissioning editor. He asked, among other things, if Tara, Katie and the team had been in touch [not yet]. There is marketing and promotion, but apparently nearer to the release date. More when this happens.

Marketing, a necessary pain?

Last autumn I went on writing course run by Patricia Mullin at The Sainsbury Centre in the University of East Anglia. This was a fun and positive experience and Patricia packed in an immense amount of information and writing practise and managed our diverse group in the gentlest, most effective way. She has kindly posted a guest blog from me on her website:

One October day I found myself, aged 52, standing on top of a telegraph pole. Below me the rest of my ‘team’, five youngsters half my age, two of them clinging to the free end of my safety harness, were urging me to jump. At eye level to my right, but way out of reach, dangled the bar of a trapeze.

Another 867 words at Patricia’s blog

It’s a puzzlement… or two

I had a letter from the House of Lords. The writer thanked me for the copy of Border Line that I had sent “because we are debating the Assisted Suicide Bill…”, apologised for taking so long to read it, owing to so many other commitments, and gave me his/her comments on the book and the topic.

So far so very surprising and gratifying. BUT I did not, to my knowledge, send them a copy of Border Line. I did write to another member of the House of Lords, to ask them to support the Assisted Dying Bill currently making its way through parliament. I argued from personal experience for individual choice in end of life decisions. I didn’t mention my book – Border Line is fiction and only tangentially related to the topic.

Now memory is a funny thing and it is always possible that I had a whim, parcelled the book up and posted it to this person, and that I failed to record it on my list, or write a letter to go with it, and yet their letter implies that it arrived with at least a note from me. Curiouser and curiouser.

The letter is very generous and kind, and indeed it is astonishing that someone this busy should have read my novel and bothered to write and thank me. However there were also some jarring notes. The bill is for ‘Assisted Dying’, not, as they suggest, ‘Assisted Suicide’ – there is a difference. They interpreted comments made by Joanna Trollope about her own wishes not to be a nuisance in her old age and her preference for being able to choose assisted dying when her time came, as implying that people who had become a nuisance should be put away whether they wished it or not. This is a tricky area, but I believe it will be possible to draft legislation which allows those of us who have expressed a wish to be helped to die when that time comes, to do so, while also protecting anyone who wishes to stay alive as long as possible.

And the second puzzlement? Knitted jackets for railings??! IMG_0946_2 IMG_0946   IMG_0949 IMG_0953
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Catching up… and falling behind

Progress on one front is always balanced by a lag on another. The sun only shines at erratic intervals in the UK, you need to get out there and get to work. In the last two weeks we have reduced this DSCN7002to this.DSCN7095

I have spread it round the garden and some parts are done (darling crocus – Blue Pearl).

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Others are half done – the veg bed.

DSCN7100While others are hardly begun…
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The DIY is still pending. If you think watching paint dry is boring, trying watching plaster… DSCN7042  DSCN7107
And yet we have made progress in one room.
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On the writing front Alison Williams has   added to her review of Border Line on Rosie Amber’s site, by giving me an interview on her own. https://alisonwilliamswriting.wordpress.com/2015/03/04/rbrt-author-interview-and-review-hilary-custance-green/ and I have done some work on my Far East POW book.

Meanwhile the drizzle of emails has reached blizzard proportions, but the sun is shining and I must get out.

Tomorrow garden, writing, DIY or blog and email catch-up? I’ll have to roll a dice, check the colour of the sky or design a grid to show which is most urgent. This appeared two evenings ago. DSCN7058