Clarissa’s Warning Book Tour Round Up

Book Tour Reflections

Is a book tour worth the effort and the expense? This is a question on the minds of many authors as we think about ways to promote a new release. I have nine novels and a short-story collection under my belt so far, and after struggling for years to find reviewers, I am turning more and more to Book Tour service providers.

It is not uncommon for me to send out two hundred individual email requests for one title. Each of these reviewers I source using online databases and then scrutinise to see if they are available and a fit.  Usually, I get a 10-15% take up rate and half of those do not follow through. It is a risky process too, because you may end up with some poor reviews and even one or two  DFNs – Did Not Finish – from book reviewers who simply did not like your book, or worse, have no qualms trashing your creative output.

When it comes to Amazon, the idea is that customers leave reviews, but how many readers will do that? Many or most will not be all that confident leaving a book review, even in this age when everyone has an opinion and every company wants your views on their product or service. Only verified purchase reviews count in the algorithm, but all reviews count towards Social Proof that your book is worth buying. This is why us authors are always on the hunt for more reviews. Authors please note not all book bloggers are able or willing to share their reviews on Amazon. If you are looking exclusively for Amazon reviews, you might think twice about a book tour. 

I can happily say Rachels Random Resources takes the pressure off tired authors. Her service is excellent, she is highly professional and her reviewers are gracious. I am so impressed, have signed up as one of her reviewers. Below is a list of review highlights from the Clarissa’s Warning book tour. (copy and paste the urls to view the whole review)

 

Fuerteventura

Find Clarissa’s Warning on Amazon

Highlights from the Clarissa’s Warning Book Tour

“It’s nice to see the gothic genre given a more modern take. Gothic fiction combines mystery, horror, death and romance, traditionally in the setting of a building of Gothic architecture i.e. medieval, but any old, large imposing building will do. The heroine is generally unassuming, naïve but no sissy, and likeable. Claire Bennet from Colchester fits the bill perfectly. She’s had a lottery win and is using that money to buy a wonderful old building on the island of Fuerteventura which she’s admired every year during her summer holidays. It is probably a foolish thing to do, as the house needs a lot of work and it’s a huge leap for an ex bank-employee to take, but Claire is game. She’s even prepared to ignore a warning from Aunt Clarissa who informs her that the astrological and other psychic signs aren’t favourable to this rash venture. However, her warning comes too late. Claire is committed and so ignores anything she doesn’t want to hear.

She embarks on her plans, encountering some pleasant locals and some less so, and slowly her house becomes habitable. She’s forced to move in a little sooner than intended, and some inexplicable happenings began to occur. Claire is rattled, but she’s made of stern stuff and begins to investigate what might be behind it all. She’ll make some alarming discoveries, but also encounter true love.

This book is rich with description and thus we can conjure up the appearance and atmosphere of Fuerteventura in vivid detail in our minds. We quickly get to know Claire by sharing her wry humour and down-to-earth approach as we share her space, mental and physical. Aunt Clarissa is a colourful, eccentric figure but something of a cornerstone in this book, and Paco is another.

It’s an enchanting, exciting read and definitely has you considering whether there’s more than meets the eye in this world of ours.”

http://www.booksarecool.com/2019/clarissas-blackthorn-enchanting/

Fuerteventura ruins
Photo by JF Olivares

“Isobel Blackthorn stole my heart, after she made it drop to my stomach. Her capability of amalgamating horror, romance, mystery and travel had me floored.

The language and presentation of the plot has all the makings of excellent story telling.

I am not saying that it is a story unlike any other. Most haunted house tales do follow a certain line of story development. Despite that ‘Clarissa’s Warning’ is not predictable. The suspense was steadily built throughout the book and the ending was completely out of the blue.”

https://trailsoftales620253622.wordpress.com/2019/03/15/blog-tour-clarissas-warning-by-isobel-blackthorn/

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“This is a suspense filled, spooky story with legends, rumours, danger and romance all playing an integral part in events. If you’ve never been to Fuerteventura, you’ll probably feel like you have after reading this and if, like me, you’ve already visited, you’ll have memories of visits rekindled whilst reading it. The whole community and Claire’s integration into it are shared, as her friendships and even a romance develop alongside the restoration of the property. It is an engaging read that you’re never quite sure just who will survive to the end! The research into the previous occupants of the house, the steps taken to protect herself and the peril she faces make this a story that I enjoyed reading and have no hesitation in recommending to anyone who enjoys a suspense filled paranormal mystery and romance.”

https://splashesintobooks.wordpress.com/2019/03/21/clarissas-warning/

Cofete
Photo by JF Olivares

“I liked Claire’s character and was really pleased when she wins the lottery and becomes a woman of great means!!  I loved the way that despite not having to watch the pennies, she still does!  I also felt quite sorry for her at times as she had no belief in what her Aunt Clarissa had told her, but the local tradesmen obviously knew all about the old ruin and this meant she had great difficulty in getting anyone to work on it without really knowing why!

The story built up slow and steady, giving you plenty of time to take in the other parts of the story, such as Claire’s difficult relationship with her father and her relationship with her Aunt Clarissa.  The supernatural part of the storyline was done really well and I did enjoy the spooky things which were happening.  I loved the setting of this book, having been to two of the Canary Islands but never to Fuerteventura.  The history behind the ruin and the local opinions were really interesting also.  A suitably spooky story which was enough to make my hair stand on end and I did love the ending, although I won’t tell you what it is because it will definitely spoil the whole book!  Would recommend!!”

https://stardustbookreviews.wordpress.com/2019/03/13/isobel-blackthorn-clarissas-warning/

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“The backdrop of Fuerteventura for this story was just exquisite, with the local cafes, the volcano and the heat. All descriptions adding to this story building a wider picture of where Claire is and the history. To mix it in with the supernatural too was just delicious and cleverly done and adds a lot of tension in the book because it was so contrasting….This is my first read of Ms Blackthorn, but after reading this, getting a taste of her writing, I can safely say it will not be my last outing!”

http://zooloosbookdiary.co.uk/bookreview-of-clarissas-warning-rararesources

Fuerteventura
Photo by JF Olivares

“I really found myself falling in love with pretty much everything and was completely sucked into the descriptions, it was like a little mini holiday in my head.” https://nzfnmblog.wordpress.com/2019/03/15/book-review-clarissas-warning-by-isobel-blackthorn-rararesources/

“This is the first book that I have read by Isobel Blackthorn and I must say that I found her writing to be particularly impressive. There is a great sense of location throughout and the fact that this was set on one of the Canary Islands was something that brought a unique factor.” https://reflectionsofareader.blogspot.com/2019/03/blogtour-clarissas-warning-by-isobel.html

“All in all, Clarissa’s Warning will be a great read for anyone who enjoys a good self-discovery novel, with enough spooky happenings for mystery lovers as well.” http://www.vainradical.co.uk/blogs/clarissas-warning-blog-tour/

“This is a fantastic paranormal thriller. You are kept guessing at the person out to get Claire and the haunting.” jbronderbookreviews.com/2019/03/20/clarissas-warning/

Fuerteventura ruins
Photo by JF Olivares

“Apart from possibly the ghosts this read like a beautiful love letter to Fuerteventura. I could capture so much of the island reading this even though I’ve never been. I now want to.  There is so much attention to detail in this book, not just with the island but the history of the house being renovated and the people linked to it. Also though the renovations themselves. You could really imagine the restoration as it happened over the time period in the book. Everything is just so beautifully written.

It’s a slow burner which isn’t something I normally enjoy but I think possibly because it’s so descriptive I found it easy to follow and allowed myself to be swept along with the story rather than wishing it would hurry up and get to the action. Again credit goes back to the writing to be able to keep my poor attention span involved in the book.”

https://kirk72.wordpress.com/2019/03/14/clarissas-warning-by-isobel-blackthorn-rararesources-iblackthorn/

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“I recommend checking this intriguing story out!” – Jessica Rachow book blogger

“While this is a slow paced read, it has depth and detail and triggers imagination. It is vividly descriptive….If you have any interest in history you will appreciate this book.” – Dog’s Mom Visits book blog

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“The author had a way of bringing even the smallest character to life, the picturesque detail lets you easily imagine the locals and you get to find out as much about Gloria who run the local café as you do about Claire…This is a gentle slow-paced mystery, which I read fairly quickly. With its mixture of genres, this has got something for a lot of readers. This is the 1st book I have read by this author and checking my kindle I am glad to say I have some more of their books to read.” –

http://terror-tree.co.uk/2019/03/clarissas-warning-by-isobel-blackthorn/

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“This was a fun and easy read. It’s not particularly a scary book, and there is nothing that will make you jump. However there is an underlying menace throughout the story that gradually builds up as the tale progresses and Claire becomes in more and more danger… You got a sense of how isolating it would be to move to a strange country all on your own and try to complete a project like this.

Within the novel I especially liked the way the story mixed up descriptions of the island with some history and some supernatural events yet kept things grounded with the detailed paragraphs about the restoration work. By the end you felt as invested in wanting it all to work as Claire did.

All in all this was an easy and enjoyable story that almost needs a category of its own of ‘Cosy Ghost Stories to read by the fire on a cold winters night’ Even if the story doesn’t make you jump the descriptions of the Island will certainly warm you up!”

Clarissa’s Warning by Isobel Blackthorn – a review

In conversation with Donna Maria McCarthy on Gothic fiction

When I decided to review Biddy Trotta gothic novella by Donna Maria McCarthy, I had no idea what I was in for. I haven’t read gothic fiction in a long while and I certainly didn’t anticipate coming across a work as much subtle as it is absurd, as much vivid as it is dark and dense, a work profoundly evocative and masterful in its execution. An accidental find I made as I walk the path of dark fiction.

It was a discovery that led me to ponder many things. So I invited Donna Maria McCarthy to chat with me about gothic fiction, as I prepare to write my debut in the genre, and am immersed in studying the form. I hope you enjoy reading my questions and Donna’s answers.

Donna Maria McCarthy

I often wonder what leads a writer into the dark side and what compels them to stay there. You’ve been writing gothic literature for many years now. What are your thoughts on the matter? What makes you write dark fiction? 

For myself (this is no way a board stroke) I cannot say any one thing compelled me or altered my mind from the age of reason until now. I know many authors have either personal  tragedy or adversity fuelling their fires but I cannot say that I have – at least nothing that occurred to me in the first instance as Gothic Horror even from a very young age inspired me. I say Horror but would say that my first love came from Alice in Wonderland,  which although a strange observation – I find quite dark and a little Gothic.  Obviously life enriches us all and whether it is through pain or pleasure we all become more rounded individuals – and how we pluck inspiration from within or draw on experience is in no way an indication of personal character at least for my mind. I had someone recently ask me how I managed to write such horrors – it was eye opening as she was truly astounded by it – I simply replied that anyone’s imagination on close inspection might be held up to critique and that authors are a brave and honest breed. I’m not sure she liked it but I’m not sure I enjoyed what she inferred.
I believe you are right. I think nothing reveals the whole human mind (and not our best face, the one we like to project on the world) better that dark fiction. In this sense, authors of dark fiction are laying themselves bare. Before I started writing horror, I had no idea how broad the genre is and how many different kinds of horror fiction there are. Gothic fiction is special. It pre-dates the horror genre by centuries. Who are your favourite Gothic authors? Who have been your biggest influences?
Hopefully I don’t sound boring but on leaving school (where early classics were hardly touched upon) I became bewitched by the following – not only their more famous works but by everything they wrote:
Dante Alighieri
Bram Stoker
Robert Louis Stevenson
Mary Shelley
Oscar Wilde
Henry James
Victor Hugo
Alexander Dumas
Emma Orczy
Arthur Miller

There are many more and more contemporary ones too.

An impressive list! I currently live in Australia, where a form of Gothic literature has emerged, one rooted in bleak settings and dark Colonial history. I wonder if Gothic is the right label for such works, and no doubt purists would bristle at the broadening of the definition. Yet if we narrow the term Gothic to stories set in creepy old ancient houses on the edges of cliffs, things start to look stale and old. What do you think makes a work worthy of the title Gothic?
That’s a great point and I’m not sure I can answer it! People have always referred to me as very soulful and Gothic and called my writing this with no prompt. I have to be honest, I never picked up a book because it was Gothic and I never intend to write that way, so the question has befuddled me. It’s incredibly perceptive too as I have been thinking on it recently. If I had to answer I would say that which distinguishes Gothic Horror from other types of Horror is the ability to portray or find beauty in the most gruelling or desperate text. To find terror divine and wish to drink it in as opposed to wanting to turn the page to find a hero or something that will numb you from what you have just read.
An ample answer that has given me much to think about. Just as there are many kinds of horror novels, a diverse range of fiction comes under Gothic umbrella. Horace Walpole, Ann Radcliffe and Mary Shelley and the Brontes were the forerunners. Now, Gothic includes everything from Elizabeth Kosova’s The Historian which is comparatively light in tone, to Iain Banks’ The Wasp Factory and The Crow Road, both dark and disturbing. Then there are works like your own Biddy Trott, which are darker still. What motivated you to write a work as pithy and dark as Biddy Trott and does it exemplify the sort of Gothic fiction you write?
I am never sure why any one book that I write comes out so dark; I usually get inspired by one word – whether somebody speaks it or I read it in a different way to how I usually would. When I read I want to eat up the page – devour it like forbidden fruits and maybe that’s why I write such full text. The only analogy I can give you is that when I write it’s lustful to me and I never feel so alive – many times there are so many words that I can’t type quickly enough and this infuriates me. I’m always at that eureka point and so eternally frustrated too.
And yes, all my works are of this tone and I believe I can say, always shall be.

You’ve subverted some Gothic stereotypes in Biddy Trott. Particularly the damsel in distress. Do you think modern Gothic is more about subversion than it is mood building? 

I love this observation and yes, modern Gothic Horror is edgy and has had to be, and sometimes offending people’s principles or upending their pre conceptions is kind of wonderful – a bit of a feast. However Gothic has always stretched people’s tolerance in my opinion, and this is maybe why I enjoy it so much. In a homogenised world where everything blends so as we are all acceptable to each other, Gothic Horror stands alone offering no excuses, only a demand that you read, enjoy and are touched, even if you are ashamed to say it.

I think Gothic is a porous genre in the sense that many works have one foot in and the other out, and could be classified as thrillers or romance or horror, or plain literary fiction. How does as writer ensure they have both feet in the genre?
Great question though I’m not sure I’m equipped to answer as I am rooted thoroughly in Gothic Horror with no wish or need to venture out. So maybe that is the answer? Maybe feeling 100% at home somewhere stops you straying and makes your writing pure.
I’m embarking on my first Gothic novel. I think I have always had a sense of Gothic in me, and long ago I identified my muse –she who must be obeyed — as a barefooted, wild-haired young woman in a red ball gown. She’s rooted in the nineteenth century. I call her Scarlet and she’s untameable. What is your relationship with your creativity? How does it affect your life?
Isobel, I’m already fascinated! I have a very dark muse, and if Scarlet speaks to you then maybe this is where you have always belonged? You obviously have a passion for the genre and write such beautiful text. My relationship with my creativity is that I am completely dominated by it – don’t get me wrong, I thoroughly enjoy that part and it’s what makes me me, but I am in no way master of my imagination. In fact I do believe no one is, for then surely we wouldn’t enjoy it or be transported.
What advice and tips do you have for Gothic novices like me? Should I adhere to the strictures of plot and motif? Should I experiment? Or be subversive?
I would be yourself and loyal to only you. Whatever you create is what was meant to be and if you are impassioned as you so obviously are then what an absolute treat!
Basically in a word – FEAST!
Where are you heading next in your writing? 
I’m writing a series of novellas to accompany Biddy Trott. Although these aren’t follow on works.  And I’m writing a Gothic Horror novel at the same time.
Sounds like you have your work cut out for the foreseeable. I look forward with relish to reading what comes next. Donna Maria McCarthy, thank you very much for participating in this conversation! 

You can find Biddy Trott here.

Find Donna on:

Facebook

Twitter @roast914_k

And read more about Donna on HellBound Books  and on Amazon.