My ‘new contract’ gift to myself

When I was researching my ‘Ava’ book in Camden Town, London, I happened across an Irregular Choice shop – the first I’d encountered, although I’ve since found them in Carnaby Street, too. The name of the shop perfectly describes their products – zany – but they’re also gorgeous and imaginative. I like shoes and promised myself  I’d buy a pair if the contract for the book proved good enough.

And it did! ‘Ava’ (she’s going to have a better title than that, soon) is scheduled for October 2016 publication with Avon HarperCollins UK, with the second book in the contract due out in June 2017.

So I have bought some Irregular Choice shoes …

And I very much love them.

I went for those with tape measures on to reflect Ava’s creative career in couture millinery.

Slightly on the downside, lovely as they are, standing up in them for two hours yesterday afternoon at the Love Story Awards and 3 hours yesterday evening at the RNA Winter Party, with a walk along Piccadilly in between, was not an irregular choice, it was a slightly stupid one. :-)

This isn’t the first time I’ve given myself a reward for a writing accomplishment. When I sold my first short story to a magazine, The People’s Friend, I bought myself a new computer chair to replace my dated and uncomfortable typist’s chair. Sadly, the chair had a tweedy sort of fabric cover and, even through jeans, it gave me a rash on my bum.

I’m not deterred and shall continue to buy myself the occasional gift when I achieve a happy point in my career. I shall continue to wear the shoes! But I gave the chair away.


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Book Now! How to Write & Sell Your Novel (Workshop) – Purbeck Literary Festival


A post from lovely Nikki Moore regarding our upcoming joint workshop as part of the fab Purbeck Literary Festival in February.

Originally posted on Writing, Work and Wine:

Hello my lovelies,

I hope you’re all well and enjoying the countdown to Christmas (to be honest I’m trying to ignore it at the moment – I have too many other things to think about, especially as I’ve had the lergy that’s currently doing the rounds)!

I have some very exciting news… drum roll please…


I will be running a writing workshop with award winning author Sue Moorcroft ( at the Purbeck Literary Festival on 18th February next year!  Happily, she is my aunt too, so I get to spend the day with one of my favourite people as well as some lovely (aspiring) authors :)

It’ll run from 10.30 a.m. – 4.00 p.m. (arrival at 10 a.m. for coffee) at the Limes Hotel, in beautiful coastal Swanage.

Here’s the write up:

This fun, interactive one-day course is designed to arm participants with the writing and storytelling techniques…

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Do I write? Or do I ‘do my social media’?

This is a post I wrote for Anita Chapman at the successful and useful Neetsmarketing blog earlier this year.  Neetsmarketing is a top resource for anyone using social media.

Twitter_logo_blue_48Wherever writers gather, physically or virtually, a common subject for discussion is how much time we should be spending on social media. Opinions range from ‘I can’t be bothered. It’s a time drain. I don’t get it.’ to ‘I have Xooo,ooo followers on Twitter, Facebook, LinkedIn, Pinterest, Tumblr, Instagram and I do four blog tours a day.’

Somewhere in the middle you’ll find me.

  • Firstly, I don’t think there’s any ‘should’ about how long I (or you) spend on social media. I like to engage with readers, writers, bloggers and other industry professionals, or just about anybody who may have something interesting/funny to say and will not offend or irritate me. But you might not feel the same, and so why not tailor your social media efforts to your available time, the results you attain, and your personal preference? Don’t let it be a burden.
  • Screen Shot 2015-11-11 at 08.53.37I concentrate on Twitter and Facebook because they appeal to me and provide me with the most followers/friends. I do use LinkedIn and Google+ a little, too. I have this blog and I guest on other blogs whenever the opportunity arises.
  • Screen Shot 2015-11-11 at 08.53.10Routinely, I turn my attention to Twitter, then Facebook profile and Facebook author page early in the morning. Then I get on with my writing (or planning or research or whatever that day’s task is). I return to Facebook and Twitter periodically during the day. If one of my books is part of a current promotion, or if I’m involved in an interesting conversation, I return quite a lot.
  • I don’t spend all my social media time bleating ‘Buy my books!’ I chat to people. I congratulate others on their achievements. I read interesting articles that others have flagged up. I discuss publishing with other writers. I pinch their social media ideas if I think they’re effective, I form and maintain business-friendly relationships with book bloggers etc, and I ask research questions (an underused facility in my opinion). I prolong friendly relationships with people I’ve met in the real world. In short, I network.
  • I see a value in building up a network of people whose posts I share and who will share mine in return. It widens the audience for posts I’ve written, my books when on special offer, and any good news I have, and all it costs is my time as I reciprocate. NB I try not to be a blood-sucking, self-interested user, ie cultivating only those people/conversations/contacts that are likely to benefit me and me alone. Some people’s social media strategy reminds me of a vampire looking for a neck. It doesn’t make me want to help them.
  • Social media has allowed me to form my lovely street team – the suggestion came from a reader, via Facebook, and we use a Facebook group to interact. (If you’re interested in joining Team Sue Moorcroft, do contact me via Facebook, Twitter, my website, , or just click the button in the left sidebar of this blog. You can read my blog on the subject here.)
  • Very important to me is the privilege of interacting with readers. If a reader contacts me via social media to say that s/he has enjoyed one of my books, it makes my day. I always respond. Always. If I had to choose only one use for social media, it would be this one.
  • Do I think that you should have a social media presence? If you’re a writer, then, yes, I do think that you should. I think writers benefit from being visible, contactable, discoverable. Even if you’re awaiting your first traditional publishing contract I think you should have a presence – because many publishers and agents do Google you if they’re interested in taking you on to see if you have an audience and you can self-promote. And if you’re self-publishing, I’m positive that social media will help you sell your book effectively.
  • BUT, if I’m up against a deadline or fighting a knotty segment of my plot, you probably won’t see me on social media at all. This is an important point. I control my social media activity – I don’t let it control me. Unless one of my books is in a promo, of course … then I will find the time. It’s worth it.

Social media has got me engagements as a speaker and tutor, new readers, promotion, invitations to blog, invitations to be part of a promotion activity, research contacts, radio interviews and literary festival appearances. And work.

But if I wasn’t lucky enough to be a full-time writer I would have to cut my social media time proportionately. If I hated and detested the whole social media circus, found it intrusive and puerile, I would do the minimum. The balance between writing and social media is a lifestyle balance, like work/play/sleep or save/spend. It’s deeply personal and you should tailor it to yourself.


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I have a new two-book deal with Avon UK!

I’m really thrilled to be able to announce that my next two novels will be published by Avon UK, part of HarperCollins!

2015-08-12 11.12.06These things take a while for all the T’s to be crossed and I’s to be dotted, so I’ve been sitting on the news since mid-August, when I went down to The News Building, standing right next to London’s Shard and just as impressively glassy (though not quite as tall).

I met Eleanor Dryden and some of the energetic and enthusiastic Avon UK team. They’d decorated the room with hats, as the heroine of my novel, Ava, is a milliner, and made chocolate cake and bought biscuits. (They had me with that cake.)2015-08-14 07.38.23

My lovely agent, Juliet Pickering of Blake Friedmann, came to the meeting, of course, and asked all the questions I didn’t think of, but as Eleanor unrolled Avon’s plans for my books, and for me as an author, I found myself realising that I’d found my new home.

Avon wasn’t the only publisher in the frame but Eleanor and her team were the ones who said everything I wanted to hear so, in the end, after a whirlwind couple of weeks of trying to compare offers that seemed impossible to compare, the decision made itself.

Here’s a little about the books in the deal (titles to be decided):

Book 1

Set in London at Christmas time, the story’s about things being difficult for Ava’s millinery business, revenge porn, Sam having all the trappings of success but little defence against his mother’s illness, and whether it’s obligatory to like Christmas. Due out around September 2016.

Book 2

In contrast, a summer book, set in France, where Leah, who has remained determinedly single and child-free, finds herself looking after her sister’s family while her sister’s life detonates. I’m about halfway through the first draft and the finished article is due out in Summer 2017. (I would be further along with this book if my research hadn’t led me down a blind alley. Every book seems to go through this phase, when I have to do  relationship counselling between my plot and my research.)

2015-08-12 15.42.00On the way home from the meeting, I stopped for a private celebration. Yes, I drank them both!

I’m not even ashamed. :-)


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Would you ‘Paint your bum blue and hang it out the window’?

Some of the books written by participating authors.

Some of the books written by participating authors.

Last Friday I hopped on a train and attended the Writers’ Day run by the Leicester Chapter of the Romantic Novelists’ Association, fabulously organised by Lizzie Lamb at the Belmont Hotel, Leicester.

What a great day, filled with fascinating talks, mainly about the business side of being a writer. And nobody could miss the fact that there were all kinds of writers participating.

Traditionally published, ie by a publisher



In print



Part of an author co-operative

Hybrid, ie traditionally published and self-published

I appear under six of the above headings: traditionally published, agented, in print, digital, self-published and hybrid. I have also been non-agented, so I guess the only heading I’ve never appeared under is part of an author co-operative.


Sarah Houldcroft sharing her social media expertise.

What we had in common was the desire to do better than we were already doing, no matter how well we were doing already. The subject of social media came up in almost every session, even when it wasn’t actually the title of the talk. We were all interested in sharing knowledge, every speaker was questioned exhaustively, new ideas were greeted enthusiastically. We were helping ourselves by helping each other.

During a coffee-break conversation, I chatted with Jean Fullerton, and we agreed how important it is each writer to find her or his own way. If you’re self-publishing, it should be because that’s what you see as the most suitable path for you. If you’re with a publisher and/or an agent, it should be a good publisher and/or agent for you, not just ANY publisher or agent because you really, really want one. As Jean said, ‘When you’re starting out, if a publisher or agent told you to paint your bum blue and stick it out the window, you would.’

Although I haven’t painted my bum blue or stuck it out of any windows, I’ve definitely gone down publishing routes that, in hindsight, weren’t the best for me or my work. Now, with the benefit of experience, I’m more cautious and clear thinking. I’m not afraid to turn opportunities down if I don’t think they’re right for me. I actively pursue opportunities that I do think are right for me. I sometimes make decisions that lose me money, but the decision is still the right one.

Instead of painting my bum blue, I’m painting the bigger picture.


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Research in Strasbourg

2015-08-18 16.11.44If you ever get the opportunity to visit Strasbourg in Alsace, France … go!

I’ve just spent an incredible four days staying with my lovely friend, Julie, who lives in a village just outside  the city. In fact, she’s responsible for my deciding that my WIP, currently entitled ‘Just for the Holidays’, was set in Alsace, as, when looking for a suitable spot for my English characters to spend August in France, I remembered her saying ‘You must come and stay!’ To have a built-in tour guide makes research five times easier.2015-08-18 11.51.30

After strolling through the city and admiring the totally fantastic cathedral, we took a boat ride along the River Ile, which flows through Strasbourg and connects with the canal, to give me an overview of the city, the half-timbered buildings and steeply pitched roofs, the flowers, the ironworks, architecture and history. 2015-08-18 14.51.54

And I had to begin my exploration of local food and drink – Baeckeoffe, with Fischer beer. Baeckeoffe is a very hearty stew with three kinds of meat in it.Baeckeoffe

Wednesday saw us at ‘Urgences’, the A&E department of l’Hopital Civil, where my character, Alister, is taken after rearranging his leg in a cycling accident. Of course, I wouldn’t intrude on anybody’s privacy by taking photos of their dashes to the hospital, but I was able to check out the building, the department, the surroundings and, via Julie (now turned translator), quiz the receptionist in Urgences as to what would happen to Alister after admission. (Transport to l’Hopital Hautepierre for his operation and aftercare).

Flammkuchen, tarte flambeeThat day’s dejeuner was flammkucher and Meteor beer. (You see how seriously I take my research.) Later in the day we wandered for two hours around the village where Julie lives, taking pix of the gorgeous houses and the infrastructure of the place. I was particularly impressed by the pizza vending machine.DSCF0210

Thursday saw a return to Strasbourg to meet Julie’s friend, Corinne, an English teacher who had volunteered her local knowledge. After cake at Christian’s, near the cathedral, we hopped on the tram back to Corrinne’s place, where she gave us lunch on her terrace, much of it sourced from her lovely garden. Then we talked for hours about the locality, about the medical system, the insurance system and we drank tea made of roses. (Sorry that so much of this post is about food and drink but, when in Alsace, one must eat as the Alsatians do.)DSCF0259

I’m going to draw a veil over later standing outside Julie’s apartment with my case as I waited for taxi after taxi that ‘had a problem’, ‘seems to be lost’ and couldn’t find the apartments. Suffice to say, I got a bit anxious. But, eventually, I was on my way, arriving at the airport in time to kiss my hostess goodbye and join the tail of the line for airport security.

Today I’m back at my desk with over 200 photos, leaflets, notes and memories, to weave into my manuscript. So, bye then! I have work to do.


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Nikki Moore’s latest!

Picnics in Hyde ParkPicnics in Hyde Park is a book I’ve been waiting to read since the first chapter, under another title, was shortlisted for a Novelicious competition. I was completely intrigued but, though Nikki Moore is my niece (and I’m very proud of her), she has steadfastly and perniciously refused to tell me What Happened Next!

Now that the book has hit the shelves, I forgive her. Picnics in Hyde Park is safely on my Kindle and is my designated travel companion on my next trip, when I fly to Strasbourg on research for my WIP, currently titled Just for the Holidays. Happily for me, that’s only next week!

Here’s the Picnics in Hyde Park blurb:

Hot summer romance…or cold revenge?

Super nanny, Zoe Harper is mad! It was bad enough discovering her ex-fiancé Greg cheating on her just weeks before their wedding. But now she’s returned home to London to find her younger sister Melody has been left jobless, homeless, broke and dumped.

Zoe is determined to get revenge on the infamous Reilly brothers for her sister’s heartbreak. So when an unexpected opportunity gives Zoe a way in to uncaring—and dizzyingly gorgeous!—successful music producer Matt Reilly’s world, she jumps at the chance to make him pay.

But living with Matt as nanny to his two adorable, but complicated children, Zoe soon begins to suspect that not everything is as it seems… Matt insists on pushing everyone away including his children, but why? And if his delicious summer kisses are anything to go by, he can’t be that bad surely?

Can Zoe convince Matt to open up a little and help fix this family before she leaves…or worse, before Matt learns who she really is?

Here are the buy links:

Amazon UK



I’ve read all of the novellas that led up to Picnics in Hyde Park, (the #LoveLondon Series). They have, deservedly, hit the Amazon UK charts.


LoveLondon - Facebook‘The writing style is impeccable. How I’ll fill the void left by this series is something I’ve not yet figured out an answer to.’ K.L Beeden, Books with Bunny.

Strawberries at Wimbledon

‘I eagerly read and absorbed every page. Such a good feel read earns an easy 5 stars from me.’ Sheerie Franks, Amazon UK.

Cocktails in Chelsea

‘I loved every single minute of this fun, flirty romance… the perfect read for your boring commute to work.’ Holly, Bookaholic Confessions

Valentine’s on Primrose Hill

‘Uplifting and at the same time thought provoking too. I guarantee you’ll be hitting that button on Amazon to order the fourth book in the #LoveLondon series as soon as you’ve finished this one.’ Dawn, Crooks on Books

New Year at The Ritz

A sweet and flirty short story, I really enjoyed it. I can’t wait to see what Nikki comes up with for the next book in the series.’ Simona Elena, Sky’s Book Corner.

Skating at Somerset House

‘Sexy, fun and everything you need in one neat, gorgeous package. This is a winner for me.’ Chicks That Read.

 Nikki MooreHappy publication day to Nikki Moore for Picnics in Hyde Park.


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A birthday in Italy!

Having a birthday while teaching a course for Arte Umbria, in Italy, was a lovely experience.

2015-07-23 12.09.56It seemed odd to take my birthday cards with me and stand them around my room, where nobody would see them, but word had obviously gone around regarding the significance of the date – possibly aided by nearly 500 Birthday messages on Facebook! – and there were more cards, hugs and birthday wishes. And there are far worse ways to begin your birthday than sitting on a sunny terrace with your e-reader while you sip a cup of tea and wait for someone to make you a scrummy breakfast.

IMG_3490One of the course participants had even brought me a present, a patchwork table runner made by his clever wife.

2015-07-23 16.44.09The courses are held on an Umbrian estate amidst a rolling landscape of trees, the village on the next peak, stone houses and olive groves. I claim the huge terrace as my classroom, and we began work after breakfast, as usual. More important than some old birthday – it was the first day of the course.

As luck would have it, the guests went on a trip on my birthday afternoon, to La Scarzuola. I had visited this amazing restored monastery on a previous trip, so I felt justified in staying behind. I worked for an hour – honestly, I did! My work in progress was calling me – and then I took myself down through the gardens to the swimming pool to dangle my feet and soak up a few rays. As I found the chef just finishing her swim, I chatted to her about how she’d come to work in such a fantastic venue. It’s a good story. I’m not going to tell you because I want it for a future book. (Sorry.) As with many conversations with novelists, the chat may have taken the form of me interrogating her, but she didn’t seem to mind.

2015-07-23 20.21.11When the guests returned, a little gentle work rounded out the day, until it was time to get ready for another fabulous meal, including prosecco jelly as a birthday treat.

I ate two bowls full.

Don’t tell anyone.

Here are a few of my favourite pix from Arte Umbria 2015, include those from our day off, when we went to Perugia. If you fancy joining me on next year’s course it’s 13-20 July 2016. (It won’t be my birthday!) Go to for more information.



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RNA Conference 2015 part 2 #RNAConf15

A few more pix from the RNA Conference last weekend:

Panel 21 The cemetery in the middle of the Queen Mary College campus. Never seen an on-campus cemetery before!

2 Participants in the ‘Show-and-tell versus show-don’t-tell’ workshop run by myself and Christina Courtenay.

3 and 6 The gala dinner on Saturday in the fab Rotunda library.

4 The ceiling in the library.

5 Gill Stewart and I have to refresh ourselves after filling goodie bags. (Those who know me well will not be surprised that I have the giant cuppa!)

7 Laura James and Christina Courtenay.

And my absolute favourite, courtesy of Janet Gover, the Choc Lit authors at the gala dinner.

CL at conf 2015

Back row, L-R: Jane Lovering, Sarah Waights, Kate Johnson, Sheryl Browne, Linda Mitchelmore, Margaret Kaine, Margaret James, Laura James, Evonne Wareham, Liz Harris.

Front row, L-R: Janet Gover, Alison May, Rhoda Baxter, self, Christina Courtenay, Henriette Gyland.


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The 2015 conference of the Romantic Novelists’ Association was fantastic. As it was at Queens College University, London, the city where many industry professionals are based, Friday was Industry Day.

Where else can you ask questions of agents such as Carole Blake (Blake Friedmann), Tim Bates (Pollinger), Lisa Eveleigh (Richard Beckley), Hanna Ferguson (Hardman Swainson) and Caroline Sheldon (Caroline Sheldon Literary Agency); and editors such as Kim Young, Helen Huthwaite, Martha Ashby, Kate Bradley, Anna Baggeley, Gillian Green, Jane Johnson, and many more? Also Matt Bates, fiction buyer for W H Smith Travel, Jim Azevedo of Smashwords, book bloggers, reviewers … the list went on.

Christina Courtenay and I ran a workshop titled ‘Show-and-tell versus show-don’t-tell’ on Saturday afternoon, and we were happy to get nearly 60 participants, some of whom allowed Christina to dress them in traditional Japanese costume and answer questions about how it felt to wear a kimono or geta (shoes). Thanks to everybody who took part, made it fun, wore the clothes and ate the biscuits and chocolate.

RNAConf15 panel

The workshops, talks and panels are only part of what goes on at a conference of course. One has to socialise a little.

Henriette Gyland, Christina Courtenay, Gill Stewart and Kate Thompson.


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