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.

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

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Did the writing retreat work?

This year I suggested an experiment to the lovely hosts at Arte Umbria – a writing retreat. To dip a toe-in-the-water, I went onto Facebook and Twitter and asked whether anybody was interested. So many people were interested that all places were taken and deposits paid in a couple of days.

Seriously. A couple of days – and the retreat was full!

So how did it work out? Brilliantly!

AU course 2017

The last evening of the writing course Arte Umbria 2017

I ran the Great Writing course, as usual, the week before. The participants were a fantastic bunch and we had a truly inspirational week of workshops, private writing time, feedback and one-to-ones. It just whizzed by.

This Italian terrace has long been my favourite ‘classroom’ and it has been the scene of many an interactive workshop, generally accompanied by laughter and fruitful discussion and perhaps followed by private writing time, when the loudest noise to be heard is the buzzing of the cicadas. (Or was that the whirring of writerly imaginations?)

In previous years I have left at the end of the week at the same time as the course participants – but this year I waved them off from the doorstep. My first writing day had begun!

IMG_3157At lunchtime, the first of the writers booked on the retreat arrived, looking stunned, as I was on my first visit, by the gorgeous venue and awe-inspiring views.

What can I tell you about a writing retreat, if you’ve never joined one? The camaraderie and sense of purpose are each amazing. It’s an opportunity to disconnect from the chores associated with home, from your commute, your friends and family (however fantastic they are) and your day job … and simply write.

IMG_2757My favourite place was still the terrace. I found I could see my laptop screen under a canopy of split bamboo, and it was warm enough under there to satisfy my sun-loving soul. There are outdoor power outlets on the terrace so I was able to plug in whenever my laptop needed charging. To cut out other distractions I listened to music from my phone via my earbuds. I’d prepared my research before travelling in the interests of not overburdening the satellite wifi, which is all that’s available in that particular part of the world. I’d also been able to take a lot of photos while on a day trip to Orvieto with the course participants the week before.

And during the week of the retreat, I wrote over 23,000 words.

I have never, literally never, written that much in one week before.

There were eight writers on the retreat, from unpublished to frequently-published, writing in all kinds of genres. Some, like me, wrote steadily all day every day and others wrote in short bursts in between enjoying trips out or time around the pool.

IMG_2789It was one of the most positive and inspirational experiences of my life to be able to forget all the other stuff that, at home,  wars with my writing time even though I’m lucky enough to be a full-time author. All year I’d been looking forward to writing a book set in Italy, while I was in Italy. It did not disappoint! It was very special to be writing with the view my hero was painting spread out before me.

Here’s an idea of how each of my days went. I’ve included (very rough) times just to give an idea of how I arranged my day. Others arranged their days differently or preferred to write in their rooms.

08.15 Take my laptop to the salon to get on the wifi and write emails and social media posts.

09.00-10.00 Breakfast on the terrace.

10.00-13.00 Write on the terrace

13.00-14.30ish Lunch.

14.30-17.30 Write on the terrace

17.30-18.30 End the day with a swim. Verbal shorthand for this soon became “Pool party?” as many of us realised what an agreeable way it was to end the day, meeting at the gorgeous pool where we could swim, chat, laugh and admire the fantastic views.

18.30 Get ready for dinner.

19.00 Dinner and an evening of chatter and laughter, helped along with free-flowing wine.

NB I offered to facilitate a daily feedback session but we only ever had one ‘official’ one. After that, writing, promo and publishing conversations evolved naturally over meals and at the pool party.

IMG_2744Meals were long and convivial occasions and I think everyone agreed that Arte Umbria‘s reputation for gorgeous food is well-deserved.

Owing to my own tight publishing schedule I won’t be running a course at Arte Umbria in 2018. But the good news is that I’ll be heading up TWO retreats! They will run as follows:

Retreat 1: one week from 20 June 2018

Retreat 2: one week from 27 June 2018

IMG_2759There’s much more information on my page on Arte Umbria’s website but, in a nutshell, the venue is a 200-acre estate with interesting and individual accommodation in a stone house that was once a hunting lodge. Hospitality is generous. There are plenty of different places to write, indoors and out. Trips out can be arranged by the hosts at a small extra cost and there’s a private pool in the beautiful grounds. You need to arrange your own transport but the majority of people take the Stansted-Perugia flight and are transferred to/from the venue by the hosts at no extra cost.

Sue working on terraceBooking is open now and the first place has been taken up. Click here if you fancy joining us next year.

Pool

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Announcing …

… my new three-book deal with Avon Books UK (HarperCollins)

Avon logo Apr 17Deeply thrilled that this deal has now been announced. It covers my next 2017 book, The Little Village Christmas, and two books in 2018, one summer and one Christmas. Thanks to the ever-lovely and brilliant Juliet Pickering of Blake Friedmann Literary, TV and Film Agency and everyone concerned at BFLA. I’m seriously and sincerely pleased to continue working with the Avon Books UK team.

If you’d like to read the full announcement, you can find it here.

And while I’m talking of good things, Just for the Holidays is well inside the Amazon Kindle UK top 100 and has been sporting a pretty orange ‘bestseller’ flash as it moved into pole position in some of the sub-categories. It’s hard not to be floating about on a cloud!

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Just for the Holidays- Sue Moorcroft

Many thanks to Bookworms and Sutterbugs for this lovely post:

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When her sister splits with her husband, Leah finds herself agreeing to go on their holiday to a gite in France. She doesn’t expect to find herself in sole charge of her teenage niece and nephew with a steep parenting learning curve ahead of her. There is the added attraction of a helicopter pilot and his son doing up the place next door to improve matters slightly.

I loved the way Leah tackled her new responsibilities and found the way to their hearts through some good old fashioned baking, expeditions and water fights.

The book has troubled relationships, family issues, sibling arguments combined with some delicious meals outside at the gite and huge sparks of attraction thwarted at every turn.

The cover really entices you to pick this book up as a perfect summer read- and I guarantee you’ll want to carry on reading once you start. Making this the…

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Just for the Holidays by Sue Moorcroft / Blog Tour

Reblogging this lovely review from ‘On My Bookshelf’ because it put a big smile on my face. 🙂

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Hi guys! I am so thrilled as today it is my stop on Sue Moorcroft’s blog tour – she has just gone and written the ultimate summer book! “Just for the Holidays” has this all what I am looking for in a novel, it is funny and poignant, full of emotions and hilarious moments. If you haven’t had a chance to read this book yet – please do it immediately, you won’t regret it!

Just for the Holidays by Sue Moorcroft

34862126Publisher: Avon

Publishing Date: 18th May 2017

Source:  Received from the publisher in return for an honest review!

Number of pages: 400

Genre: Romance, Women’s Fiction

 Buy the Book: Kindle | Paperback

 

Synopsis:

The #1 bestselling author returns for summer! Grab your sun hat, a cool glass of wine, and the only book you need on holiday…

In theory, nothing could be better than a summer spent basking…

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Sharing with you the excitement of launch week

I wrote this post for Take Five Authors. It’s been an exciting week!

Take Five Authors

Hello!

Helen with JFTH RNA Summer P Editor Helen Huthwaite from Avon Books UK with JFTH at the RNA Summer Party on publication day

After a saturated end to last week in Northamptonshire, when I was soaked to the skin dashing through Northampton to get to BBC Radio Northampton for my interview on the Bernie Keith Show, by Monday summer had arrived! Before my BBC Radio Cambridgeshire spot with Jeremy Sallis I was able to sit outside at a nearby pub to eat my lunch. (I only drank water and tea, honestly.) It was glorious!

The week has continued in the same vein. Yesterday I met friends in London and then went on to Romance in the Court, hosted by Goldsboro Books of Cecil Court. Standing outside the shop, drinking fizz and chatting to many author friends plus quite a few readers, it felt as if we were in the Mediterranean. (I had a chocolate brownie…

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Interview with Sue Moorcroft

An interview reblogged from Chellsandbooks. Thanks for inviting me to chat, Chells!

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Interview

Sue Moorcroft has very kindly agreed to appear on my blog and has agreed to an interview. First I would like to say thank you Sue.

Best-selling author Sue Moorcroft writes contemporary fiction with occasionally unexpected themes. The Christmas Promise rose to #1 in the Amazon Kindle chart; The Wedding Proposal, Dream a Little Dream and Is this Love? were all nominated for Readers’ Best Romantic Read Awards and Darcie’s Dilemma for Readers’ Best Short Romance. Love & Freedom won the Best Romantic Read Award 2011 and Dream a Little Dream was nominated for a RoNA in 2013. Sue’s a Katie Fforde Bursary Award winner, a past vice chair of the RNA and editor of its two anthologies.

Sue also writes short stories, serials, articles and writing ‘how to’.

Sue’s next book: Just for the Holidays

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Here is our interview. I hope you enjoy reading this as much…

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Just for the Holidays by Sue Moorcroft

‘ … sometimes I thought I knew what would happen but what actually happens is so much better’ EXACTLY what I aim for! Great review from Chells and Books.

Chellsandbooks

16Pre-published review

Title: Just for the Holiday

Author: Sue Moorcroft

Blurb: Summer in the south of France. Think long, lazy lunches, endless days stretched out by the pool, and carafes of wine on tap. Perfect, unless you have the world’s most troublesome family…

In theory, nothing could be better than a summer spent basking in the French sun. That is, until you add in three teenagers, two love interests, one divorcing couple, and a very unexpected pregnancy.

Admittedly, this isn’t exactly the relaxing holiday Leah Beaumont was hoping for – but it’s the one she’s got. With her sister Michele’s family falling apart at the seams, it’s up to Leah to pick up the pieces and try to hold them all together.

But with a handsome helicopter pilot staying next door, Leah can’t help but think she might have a few distractions of her own to deal with…

Publisher: Avon

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Hooray! Publication Day!

IMG_2120Waiting for publication day is a bit like waiting for my birthday when I was a kid. The last few days seem to go slowly and I’m filled with that ‘Can’t wait!’ feeling. Mixed in, though, is a nagging worry that nobody will come to my party.

As it happens, there’s not an actual launch party for Just for the Holidays as, with magnificent timing, the Romantic Novelists’ Association has chosen 18th of May for its Summer Party so I’ll be there this evening. There will be plenty of people to raise a glass with (but nobody to sell the book!).

But, anyway, publication day is HERE, finally, and I can watchJust for the Holidays, my latest book baby, set out into the world. And check my Amazon rankings obsessively and look for the paperback in bookshops and supermarkets. And go on the radio, and have lunch with my agent, and hang out on social media a lot.

Just for the Holidays …

Set: Mainly in France, the gorgeous and individual Alsace region. The action comes back to the UK for the final chapters.

About: Leah, who has avoided having a husband and children, ending up looking after her sister’s husband and children. Luckily, there’s a grounded helicopter next door, Ronan, who helps her with the language barrier and decoding the mysterious ways of teenagers. Things look pretty promising between Leah and Ronan until he receives an unexpected and unwanted guest.

Leah’s job: Chocolate taster. Yes, seriously, this is a job. It is! It is! I Googled ‘cool jobs’ and this came at the top.

Favourite research: Being taken up in a helicopter for a pretend crash. However, four days in Alsace and experiencing what the region has to offer (Cremant d’Alsace being a favourite) comes only a hair’s breadth behind.

Happy reading!

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What is a blog tour and how do I get one?

JFTH Blog tourI’ve been asked for my tips on creating blog tours. I’ve been doing them for some time so tend to forget they were ever a mystery to me, and I’ve usually had the luxury of someone else doing a lot of the work! But here we go:

You can see from this lovely graphic created for me by my publisher, Avon Books UK, that Just for the Holidays has a two-week tour. Team Avon has a lot of experience so let’s work with that timescale (although I have also found my own opportunities for additional guest posts for blogs such as Mark West’s Strange Tales, Booktrail, French Village Diaries, and TripFiction). We’re talking about 14 posts but you don’t necessarily have to write a guest post for all of them. See ‘What will the author have to do’, below.

Where will authors find bloggers to host the posts?

  • Social media. Facebook is particularly good because there are groups that exist specifically to bring authors and bloggers together. Twitter works too. Just post that you’re putting a blog tour together, say a few words in terms of genre and blurb and ask whether any book bloggers would be interested in hosting you.
  • If you already have relationships with book bloggers, contact them directly and ask if they’d be interested in being part of your tour.
  • Blogger/author meet-ups. Personal relationships between authors and bloggers are not only fun and stimulating, they’re useful.
  • Sometimes bloggers offer, especially if they like any previous books you’ve had published. Being approached is a bonus!
  • Pay for someone to run a blog tour for you. There are various people who provide author services and will put together something professional, useful, functional and appropriate (i.e. the correct book bloggers for your book). You can search for them on the internet but it would be reassuring to have a recommendation from another writer.

What will the author have to do?

  • Plan the tour: blogger A on date 1, blogger B on date 2 etc. (I alway think you need to be good at doing sudoku.)
  • Either provide advance copies of the book or get your publisher to do so, in time for it to be read ahead of the tour.
  • A stop on one of my blog tours would typically comprise of a post from me OR an excerpt from the book OR a competition to win a copy of the book PLUS, in each case, a review from the blogger, but some bloggers are happy to simply provide a review, on its own. NB If the blogger has offered, I think they’d probably expect a post from you.
  • Provide whatever else the book blogger needs: cover art, blurb, buy links, other pix, to fulfil the competition if there is one, i.e. send the book to the winner of the comp.IMG_2120
  • Create a book tour graphic and send it to everyone on the blog tour with a request that they include it in the post.
  • Say thank you. The author-blogger relationship is one of working together. If the blog tour is a success the author will get more out of it than the book blogger.
  • Promote every stop of the blog tour on your social media outlets, remembering to tag the book blogger in question. The blogger will do the same and, if you’re lucky, all the book blogger’s book blogger friends will share the posts too.
  • If you have a blog of your own it makes sense to run the blog tour graphic on it (as I am doing with this post!) and, if it works for the style of your blog, reblog some or all the blog posts on the blog tour. It’s blog etiquette to link the URL of any blog you name – as I have done in the second paragraph of this post.

Good luck! And don’t forget to ask each book blogger to post their review on online review sites such as Amazon and Goodreads.

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