Sunday morning, going up

IMG_3794I thought I was excited enough when the lovely folk at Avon told me to expect The Little Village Christmas to reach #7 in the Sunday Times Fiction Paperbacks chart today. Then I bought the paper this morning – and found it at #6!

I officially became a Sunday Times bestselling author last week when The Little Village Christmas popped up at #17 but to reach the top ten makes me feel more relaxed about claiming the title ‘Sunday Times bestselling author’. It’s something I’ve coveted for so long without ever really expecting it to apply to me.

After all, it’s been a while coming. Over more than 21 years 150+ of my short stories have been published, along with 250+ columns or articles, three courses, six serials, a writing guide, and a novella. I’ve judged 120+ writing competitions, appraised dozens of manuscripts and led a host of writing courses and workshops. And The Little Village Christmas is my twelfth novel.

IMG_3790So, when I treated myself to these frivolous but beautiful boots yesterday I was celebrating every one of those steps along the road to seeing my name and the title of my book in the Sunday Times today.

My thanks go to every editor who has chosen my work over the years, the whole wonderful Avon team, my amazing agent Juliet Pickering, the writer of every good review and each member of my fantastic street team.

Most of all, thanks to my lovely readers, who made this joyous celebration possible by buying my books. Thank you.

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The Little Village Christmas – notes for book groups

The Little Village ChristmasWhat was the inspiration for The Little Village Christmas?

I once heard a story about a project to repurpose an old building as a youth club. The project was scammed out of the money raised for the refurbishment and one of the organisers solved the funding problem by successfully pitching to a TV programme for a property makeover. I thought it would make a great plot – but things must’ve changed, as I found that every programme I researched required the subject to have its own budget. I couldn’t use my left arm for a couple of weeks after a procedure and I watched a few (OK, a more than a few) property programmes and kept coming back to the idea of TV being involved somehow. All I had to work out was how, then throw Alexia into that situation and see how she reacted. She took me by surprise.

I was also intrigued by the problems a friend has with his brother. They aren’t the same issues as Ben and Lloyd face but the underlying mistrust and resentment made for an interesting plotline. I like every member of my family and I’m always surprised that it’s not like that for everyone.

I also had in the back of my memory something that happened when I was a teenager and a young guy crashed the car he was driving, completely changing his life and that of the passenger in the car, his fiancée. With a fundamental change to the situation so that it’s Ben’s wife in a car driven by Lloyd it made a good inciting incident.

Do I often use incidents stored in my memory banks?

Yes! I don’t sit and consciously dredge through my memories but sometimes things drift into my mind and I find myself wondering about those long-ago people and trying out ‘what happened next’ scenarios. Then I mix in a bit of ‘what if?’ for added drama.

Do I also use anecdotes I hear?

Yes again! But I usually seek permission or, if that’s not possible or appropriate, change the situation until it’s unrecognisable. Often it’s only the premise of the story I use because my characters will react according to their own characteristics and that changes everything. Just for the Holidays is an example. A friend told me about her holiday and I said, ‘Ooh, may I use some of that?’

Any other sources of inspiration?

My imagination is top of the list, obviously, but I read news features too. I like to see what contemporary challenges people are facing. Such challenges can relate to technology or the negative side of a modern phenomenon like social media, as in my other Christmas book, The Christmas Promise.

Why write about Christmas?

Originally, it was a commercial decision. Christmas books are popular. But once I began planning and writing I saw how Christmas can emphasise challenges, create its own pressures or throw people together who might not otherwise meet. I’ve written Christmas serials for My Weekly magazine too. You can read one for free here:

And the next, Moonlight Over Middledip, will be in issues dated the 2nd and 9th of December 2017.

Themes of The Little Village Christmas as I see them

Love, loss, family, betrayal, friendship, the fallout from being victims of a scam, regeneration, Christmas, village life and community spirit.

Possible messages

Love is powerful; love can change your goals; love sometimes hurts; friends and family members are not always perfect; when a victim, fight back; have a Plan B; Christmas can bring family, friends and communities together.

If your book group is reading The Little Village Christmas and would like to involve Sue click here and complete the contact form.

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Paperback publication! @AvonBooksUK #competitions

OK, you got me. Sometimes, as for Christmas books, I get two publication days! Today is when the rather fetching sparkly paperback of The Little Village Christmas hits the shelves even though I was all excited about the ebook four weeks ago.

It’s still exciting that from today readers can buy the printed version for their bookshelves or as Christmas presents – or put it on their own Christmas wishlist, of course!

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I’ll be celebrating by joining Bernie Keith on BBC Radio Northampton about 10.30 a.m. and maybeeeeee with a couple of glasses of wine tonight. Or three. It’s a joy to celebrate the culmination of all those months of work to bring you a new book. As part of the general jollity, watch out for my newsletter and on Twitter, Facebook and Instagram for competitions to win one of these pretty prizes that I had made for me by crafter Pebbles by Jenn. They all have to go! Although I’m so in love with them … No! They DO have to go! Try and win one.

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Ribbon bookmarks, key rings and wine bottle charms.

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Blog Tour: The Little Village Christmas by Sue Moorcroft @SueMoorcroft @AvonBooksUK

Thanks to Novel Gossip for this fab review and for taking part in the blog tour.

Novelgossip


Goodreads|Amazon
Release date: October 17, 2017

Publisher: Avon

Genre: Women’s Fiction

Blurb:

Alexia Kennedy – interior decorator extraordinaire – has been tasked with giving the little village of Middledip the community café it’s always dreamed of.


After months of fundraising, the villagers can’t wait to see work get started – but disaster strikes when every last penny is stolen. With Middledip up in arms at how this could have happened, Alexia feels ready to admit defeat.


But help comes in an unlikely form when woodsman, Ben Hardaker and his rescue owl Barney, arrive on the scene. Another lost soul who’s hit rock bottom, Ben and Alexia make an unlikely partnership.


However, they soon realise that a little sprinkling of Christmas magic might just help to bring this village – and their lives – together again…


Settle down with a mince pie and a glass of mulled wine as…

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Love A Village Book: A Guest Post by Sue Moorcroft, Author of The Little Village Christmas

For those who have asked how my village of Middledip’s going on, this post, hosted on LInda’s Book Bag, is for you. 🙂 I hope you enjoy it.

Linda's Book Bag

The Little Village Christmas

Regular readers of Linda’s Book Bag might be forgiven for thinking I’m a little bit obsessed by Sue Moorcroft. I’ve met Sue several times and had the chance to interview her here, and have previously reviewed Sue’s The Christmas Promise here, and Just for the Holidays here. As well as all that, Sue has told me about her fantasy holiday companions here too!

Today I’m delighted that Sue is explaining a little about the village concept behind her latest book, The Little Village Christmas.

The Little Village Christmas was published by Avon Books, an imprint of Harper Collins, on 9th October 2017 and is available for purchase here.

The Little Village Christmas

The Little Village Christmas

Alexia Kennedy has lived in the little village of Middledip all her life – and now it’s time for her to give something back. As an interior decorator, she’s been tasked with turning…

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It’s publication day!

Hooray! The Little Village Christmas comes out in ebook today!

The Little Village Christmas

 

I’ve been waiting impatiently to bring you The Little Village Christmas and introducing you to Alexia Kennedy, who’s lived in the village all her life and is on the cusp of leaving as the book begins. Alexia’s an interior decorator and has agreed to project manage the conversion of an old, neglected pub, The Angel, into The Angel Community Café. Most of the work’s being carried out by the boyfriend and mate of Alexia’s best friend, Jodie Jones. Jodie’s in partnership with Gabe Piercy (who regular readers will have met in Is This Love?) and the village have fund-raised towards the refurbishment. Everything’s wonderful …

… until someone runs away with all the money. Alexia has to stay at least until she’s found a way to rescue The Angel.

Gabe’s nephew, Ben Hardaker, has come to live on the edges of the village to lick his wounds after his marriage combusted in a mysterious way. All he wants is to be left alone. But Middledip isn’t like that. The village takes him to its heart – and he gets tangled up with Alexia in all kinds of ways! He does have a weakness for women who look like Betty Boop though.

IMG_3387And for those who would like the paperback – it hits the shelves on 2 November (so there’s not long to wait).

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Writing Commercial Fiction, one-day course

Writing Commercial Fiction

When I took on a publishing contract for two books a year, I had to make a few adjustments to my working life. I had to cut out all those publishing parties … No! Of course I didn’t! I love publishing parties. But I did have to sacrifice most of my teaching of creating writing.

So … the above workshop is the last I’ll be leading in the foreseeable future. (Unless someone invites me to teach in a country I want to go to. Then I might find the time.)

If you’d like to join me on October 19th then go to the diary page of the Society of Women Writers and Journalists and click on the booking form. Men are, of course, as welcome as women.

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Have laptop, will travel

Reblogged from Take Five Authors. I love to travel!

Take Five Authors

Mary Smith’s great post last week made me think a little more about where I write and when.

Study webcopy Study

Over the past few months, I’ve spent quite a bit of time writing in places other than my favourite place – my study at home. I headed up a great writing retreat in Italy for Arte Umbria where I had the huge pleasure of writing a book set in Italy while I was actually there. (And if you’re thinking of joining one of my writing retreats there in 2018, here’s what you might like to know, along with the booking link.)

AU retreat 2017 webcopy Arte Umbria – 2017 retreat

In August I was a little more local, heading off to Derbyshire and the fabulous Swanwick, The Writer’s Summer School to teach the Popular Fiction course, which ran over four morning sessions and was so well attended I was allocated the Main Conference Hall…

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Interview with Sue Moorcroft

It was lovely to be invited onto Papers, Pens, Poets to talk about my secret stationery vices.

Papers Pens Poets

Sue cropI’m not going to open my drawer and count how many notebooks I have. Let’s just agree that the drawer is full.

Drawerful of notebooks

My latest was given to me at the Emirates Airline Festival of Literature at the beginning of March. I went to the festival to teach a three-day fiction-writing course and be part of a panel along with April Hardy and Nadiya Hussain. The notebook was a gift given me in appreciation of my work. Its dark red cover is smooth and silky and the (as yet untouched) pages are creamy, thick, unlined paper. It even has its own bookmark.


I was also given a Montegrappa fountain pen, the quality of which has to be felt to be believed. I even love its box! I used the pen to sign my latest contract with Avon Books UK (HarperCollins). There was only me here to see it but if felt…

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August 24, 2017 · 9:56 am

Summer in Winter, Christmas in August

Take Five Authors

I’m thrilled that, finally, the announcement has been made that I’ve signed a new three-book deal with Avon Books UK (HarperCollins). Because announcements are never made until all parties have signed the contract, and the contract takes a while to prepare, the agreement was actually reached back in March – and it has nearly killed me not jumping the gun and announcing it myself! But I’m thrilled to continue working with the fantastic Avon team.

The first of the three new books is The Little Village Christmas. The next will be a summer book and the last another set at Christmas. This makes my position as an author ‘seasonal’. Every book will have a seasonal title and cover. You can see that I began exactly this way in my original contract with Avon.

TCP-and-JFTH-for-web

So, what does it involve to write books with such an overt seasonal slant? Frequently, I’m…

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