In praise of book bloggers (and parties)

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L to R: Louise Styles (street team), self, Bookaholic Holly (blogger), Mick Arnold (street team)

When my first book, Uphill All the Way, came out, in 2004, I don’t think I knew what a book blogger was.

Now, twelve years and nine books later, I consider a blogger/author meet up in a cellar bar in Birmingham city centre a fantastic place to spend a Saturday afternoon, not just for fun, but for the networking. I knew a lot of the bloggers personally, a lot more I’d only met online till the event (but I’m very happy to ‘make it real’), and some were completely new to me.

Book bloggers have a huge appetite for books, they read widely, they’re enthusiastic about authors, they make contacts with publishers, and they spend a lot of hours reviewing books and maintaining fabulous, interesting, well-read blogs. They also network with other book bloggers and utilise social media to get news of reviews, interviews and giveaways out there. It’s a real labour of love.

WebUphill All The Way2When Uphill was published, the publicist was chasing a few coveted review spots in newspapers and magazines. Now, there are enough book bloggers to go around, ‘blog tours’ can be organised to reach as many readers as possible. NetGalley is a conduit to make review copies available. The electronic world has opened these opportunities up.

What’s not to love?

But what do book bloggers get out of the deal? They get to read a lot of great books, either pre-publication or early in a book’s life, they get invited to launch parties and to events at big publishing houses, they get access to their favourite authors, they join authors’ street teams.

It’s a lovely symbiotic relationship. And, for me, a reason to spend Saturday afternoon in a bar talking about books. (As if I needed one.)

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Team Sue Moorcroft members, L to R: Louise Styles, self, Mick Arnold, Kim Nash (who’s also blogger Kim the Bookworm and organiser of the meet up) and Mark West (also an author and blogger).



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Getting started

A great post from Janet Gover on the Take Five Authors blog.

Take Five Authors

I thought I’d start 2016 and my part of this great new blog space with an attempt to respond to the words I hear so often – ‘I don’t know where to get started writing a book’.

The timing of this new blog is great because I’m setting out on a new journey myself. That is to say, I’m starting to write a new book and I thought I might share some if that with you here.

For those of you who want to write, getting started is surprisingly simple… just sit down with whatever writing implement you prefer and write something down. It really doesn’t matter what you write. Just write something.

Although I write the actual chapters on a computer, each book gets its own new notebook. Coloured pencils and post-it notes are essential too. More about that in a later blog. Although I write the actual chapters on a computer, each book gets its own new notebook. Coloured pencils and post-it notes are essential too. More about that in a later blog.

A blank page can be quite…

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Writing Together – How Does It Work?

Fascinating post on collaborative writing by Lorraine and Pam, who, together, make up fab author Ellie Campbell. I’ve always wondered how and why it’s done!

Take Five Authors

Hi, my name’s Lorraine Campbell and together with my sister Pam Burks, I write women’s fiction under the name of Ellie Campbell, blending contemporary themes with humor, drama, romance and mystery.  As introduction I want to answer the question everyone seems to ask us:

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How the hell do you manage writing together?

Well, we can’t answer for other writing teams but perhaps it’s no coincidence that they’re often intimately connected — husband and wife (Nicci French, Dick Francis), father and son (Dick Francis again), mother and daughter (Lily Herne, P.J. Tracy), mother and son (Charles Todd). Even Ellery Queen’s famous mysteries were written by two cousins.

Pam and Lorraine 3 and 5

You might say Pam and I started collaborating since we were 3 and 5. Poor Pam, as youngest was coerced to play Robin to my Batman, Tonto to my Lone Ranger, Will Scarlett to my Robin Hood, as we rampaged around Edinburgh, sharing fantasy adventures and…

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Fiction on the Taw

News of a new fiction course in Devon this summer, led by me! :-)

Lin Treadgold, Author - 'Goodbye, Henrietta Street'

by the River Taw in West Devon.


12 – 14 AUGUST 2016

Welcome to Fiction on the Taw, your chance to work with an experienced tutor and award winning novelist Sue Moorcroft in a small and focused group. Fun, interactive workshops will illuminate storytelling and writing techniques to help make your work sparkle.

And, take this fantastic opportunity to review your first chapter and synopsis with Chrissie Loveday, then practice your pitch to an agent/publisher – an invaluable aid in the quest for publication.

This event is hosted by author and Romantic Novelists Association member, Lin Treadgold. Please contact Lin for a brochure and application form. Accommodation is not included but we have a bed and breakfast list and self catering etc.

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Why I love Readers

From the new group blog that I’m thrilled to belong to, ‘Take Five Authors’. Don’t miss the competition to win a signed copy of The Wedding Proposal! :-)

Take Five Authors

Obviously, I love my readers. They send me nice messages on Twitter and Facebook, they post fabulous reviews on Amazon and Goodreads – and they buy my books or borrow them from libraries. I think of my readers whenever I write. Is this right for them? Will they like that? One of my writing missions is to try and stop my readers putting out the light at the end of a chapter.

To be a writer in the age of communication is a privilege, because receiving a nice message from a reader makes my day, and I always reply. Sometimes readers message my characters so I reply on his or her behalf, too.

BookswebBut I have a hugeHeart affection for all readers of all genres/books/magazines/authors. Without them (or I should say ‘us’ as reading is one of my greatest and abiding pleasures) the publishing industry wouldn’t exist. That thought…

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Happy New Year!

imageI’d intended to create some gorgeous Happy New Year graphic to wish all my reader, writer, blogger and all-kinds-of-other friends a healthy, happy and prosperous New Year. However, my iMac is undergoing surgery so I’ll rely on good old words instead.


And my thanks to you all for your friendship and support. I look forward to sharing 2016 with you.

:-) X


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2015 in review

The stats helper monkeys prepared a 2015 annual report for this blog. Thanks to everybody who viewed it, especially top commenters Nikki Moore, Kay Pickard, Penny, Susan Mann and Teresa Morgan. :-)

Here’s an excerpt:

A New York City subway train holds 1,200 people. This blog was viewed about 5,700 times in 2015. If it were a NYC subway train, it would take about 5 trips to carry that many people.

Click here to see the complete report.


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Christmas Message to My Readers

To My Readers,

I’d like to wish each and every one of you a Peaceful (yet merry) Christmas and a Healthy, Happy and Prosperous New Year and say ‘Thank you!’ because:

HeartYou enable the career I love by buying and reading my books. I never get over the thrill of seeing my books on shelves or online. If you didn’t read them, this wouldn’t happen.

HeartYou send me messages on Facebook, Twitter and via my blog and website to tell me what you’ve enjoyed. There are few things that please me more than you enjoying one of my books.

HeartYou give me fabulous answers when I ask research questions on Facebook or Twitter. You share your expertise or experiences and then thank me if your name appears in the acknowledgements!

HeartYou send me congratulations when I’ve had a success.

You share my good news across your networks.

HeartYou tell your friends about my books.

You buy them for others as presents.

HeartYou get involved with the lives of my characters.

You occasionally send my characters messages!

HeartYou ask me when my next book will be out.

Or check with me that you haven’t missed one.

HeartWithout you, ‘writer’ would have little meaning. Publishers wouldn’t publish, agents wouldn’t sell manuscripts, and the world would be a sadder place. I’d be doing a ‘proper job’.

HeartYou’re lovely!



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Christmas survival guide for authors

  • photo(9)Attend as many Christmas parties, lunches, dinners, meet-ups, writers’ days and readers’ days as possible. They can be offset against your tax payment as ‘networking’ and/or ‘research’.
  • Do as little Christmas hosting as you can get away with (unless you can invite people who you can put in your books, of course). You need the Christmas period to refill your well of creativity and running round screaming ‘The turkey isn’t cooked!’ is detrimental to artistic output.
  • photo(53) copy 3Delegate Christmas shopping/wrapping. You have to write as much as possible before Christmas  to free your mind to enjoy the festivities.
  • When you hear anybody say, ‘I can’t think what to buy for so-and-so’ instantly suggest the title of one of your own books. Offer to sign it. And supply a bookmark.
  • photo(9)You know how a Christmas cake is ‘fed’ alcohol at regular intervals? And it makes it richer? Why not try regular alcoholic intake of your own and see if it makes you richer, too?
  • Email or message every writer or reader chum you fancy a gossip with. This definitely comes under the heading of ‘networking’ or ‘market research’ or even ‘PR’. And your editor and agent are probably on holiday by now.

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  • Plan your research trips for next year.
  • Do not make any New Year’s resolutions that may impede your writing career. We’re all going to have a fantastic 2016, right?

Merry Christmas and a Happy New Year.


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Research! Pretend-crash a helicopter!

When I posted on Facebook that I was beyond excited because a pilot was going to take me up in a helicopter and pretend to crash it, I received around 70 comments. The majority of them said ‘You’re mad!’

But I was truly thrilled.

In the book currently entitled Just for the Holidays, my hero Ronan Shea is a grounded helicopter pilot, recovering from a shoulder injury after a forced landing. I was lucky to 2015-12-04 11.51.43be introduced to Martin Lovell who owns a helicopter maintenance company, Skytech, and is his own test pilot. Martin’s devoted quite a few hours to shaping Ronan’s incident, and also introducing me to a Civil Aviation Authority doctor and an aviation insurance expert, both of whom have been invaluable in establishing what happens to Ronan next.

If the engine begins to fail in a single-engined helicopter, the pilot has to take action because he can’t park in mid-air. Therefore, every pilot learns  autorotation, the art of bringing the aircraft down at such an angle that the air passing over the rotor keeps it going.  When Martin offered to take me up and demonstrate how the pilot retains full control, I could not believe my luck.

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I arrived at the airfield on a beautiful day. The cloud increased in the next hour but not enough to stop us.

We walked through the hangar to a black Hughes 500 that needed a test flight. Martin performed the pre-flight checks and suddenly the door was opened and I was invited inside!

I wish I’d taken more photos but I was focusing on video as my publisher had asked me to film the experience. More on that later …

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Martin Lovell of Skytech

Martin strapped me into my seat and gave me a set of headphones, then began a running commentary on the instrumentation and which switches he was flicking and why. The engine started and the whump whump whump as the rotor began to turn, faster and faster until the blades were a blur above us. A little hover, then we were turning, tip-toeing across the grass to the runway where we would take off.

I’m finding it hard to remember that take off. We just cruised up and along and suddenly we were above a village, above a reservoir, above the fields. The Hughes has great visibility, including what’s just in front of your feet. Apart from this, and the fact that we were sliding through very high up air, the cockpit felt a bit like a car – comfortable leather seats, a heater and a sat nav – but with a lot more banking and swooping.

Once up at 2000 feet Martin told me he would begin the autorotation. He wouldn’t actually switch off the engine (prudent of him) but would act as if the RPM was dying. There was a sudden initial drop then we swooped down on a diagonal flightpath towards the ground. It came up to meet us pretty quickly. When we got close, Martin ‘flared’ the aircraft to halt momentum. In a real situation, from there the pilot would perform a run-on landing and, depending on the terrain, the helicopter might sit down nicely on its skids or, as with Ronan, it could tip over.

So up we went again to about 1700 feet. ‘Now we’ll do it a bit more realistically, as if the engine’s cut without warning and the pilot has to act fast.’ And wheeeeeee! We swooped down to Earth a lot more rapidly this time. Someone in the cockpit went ‘WHOOOOOOOOHOOOOOO!’ and I don’t think it was Martin.

He mocked up the run-on landing this time and his accuracy was amazing. When we turned and flew back I could see the parallel lines where the skids had parted the longish grass.

It was one of the most exhilarating experiences of my life. I assumed that we’d pootle back to the hangar but, instead, we circled up high again and flew on (ground speed about 100 knots, so not so much of a pootle) over the town where I went to senior school and over a supermarket my mum had texted me from an hour before, picking out churches and a golf course, ticking off the villages as we flew over them to the town where I now live, and over my house.

I think it took about three minutes from there to get back to the airfield, a trip that had taken me twenty by car. We flew low-level along the runway so I could get an idea of what 125mph feels like in a helicopter (rushy), then came back around and landed tidily outside the hangar.

Everything went quiet.

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Coming back to Earth – reluctantly

What an amazing experience. The only downside was that I later discovered that only the on-ground segment of the video had worked. After that is just a white rectangle and an error message.

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Gutted. Gut-ted.

But – silver lining! Martin has said he’ll take me up again in the New Year. I’m just off to buy a helmet cam!



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