#CoverReveal One Summer in Italy #excited

One Summer Jpeg web

It’s my pleasure to reveal the LOVELY cover for One Summer in Italy! I absolutely adore it and want to rush back to Italy this very minute.

If you buy the book you will find news of a lovely opportunity in the back! Can’t tell you any more right now but … look out for it.

And here’s what happened, one summer in Italy:

When Sofia Bianchi’s father Aldo dies, it makes her stop and look at things afresh. Having been his carer for so many years, she knows it’s time for her to live her own life – and to fulfil some promises she made to Aldo in his final days.

So there’s nothing for it but to escape to Italy’s Umbrian mountains where, tucked away in a sleepy Italian village, lie plenty of family secrets waiting to be discovered. There, Sofia also finds Amy who is desperately trying to find her way in life after discovering her dad isn’t her biological father.

Sofia sets about helping Amy through this difficult time, but it’s the handsome Levi who proves to be the biggest distraction for Sofia, as her new life starts to take off …

One Summer in Italy will be published on 17 May in paperback, ebook and audio by Avon (HarperCollins)


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THRILLED to announce …

… that Just for the Holidays has been shortlisted for a RoNA!

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The Romantic Novelists’ Association runs the Romantic Novel of the Year Awards every year and they’re currently sponsored by Goldsboro Books. You can read more about this year’s awards on the RNA blog here but, in short, the event will take place on the 5th of March at The Gladstone Library in London. There are seven categories – my shortlisting is in the Contemporary category – and each category has a winner, who’s presented with a trophy sometimes referred to as ‘a RoNA’. Then the winners of the categories go forward for the overall award of £5,000 and a trophy to keep for a year. The latter is usually called ‘The Rose Bowl of Doom’ because everybody dreads dropping it.

This year the awards are to be presented by Rev Richard Coles, who happens to come from the town I live in now, and the judges for the overall award are: Matt Bates, the Fiction Buyer for WH Smith Travel, editor Alex Hammond, writer Elizabeth Buchan and Liz Robinson, book reviewer for Lovereading.co.uk.

It’s a PHENOMENAL shortlist, but I’m happy to be in such fab company. The shortlist for the Contemporary Romantic Novel:
Together, Julie Cohen, Orion
The Picture House by the Sea, Holly Hepburn, Simon & Schuster
The Keeper of Lost Things, Ruth Hogan – Two Roads, John Murray Press
The Dangers of Family Secrets, Debby Holt, Accent Press
The Queen of Wishful Thinking, Milly Johnson, Simon & Schuster
Just For The Holidays, Sue Moorcroft, Avon Books
My Summer of Magic Moments, Caroline Roberts, HarperImpulse
Coming Home to Cuckoo Cottage, Heidi-Jo Swain, Simon & Schuster

I’ve only been lucky enough to be nominated for a RoNA once before, for Dream a Little Dream, when, unfortunately, somebody fainted in front of me, dumping me hard on my bum, drenched by my wine and that of two other people I crashed into. Richard & Judy were presenting the awards that year and they did ask over the microphone whether we were all OK. I was, apart from a bruise and a bra full of wine. (And I didn’t win.)

DALD_v12.2 revise

I always go into awards with the view that I won’t win, and I’m usually right (though Love & Freedom did win a Readers’ Romantic Read of the Year Award), but to be nominated is just SUCH a pleasure.




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The 12 Twelve Writing Tips of Christmas

I decided to celebrate Christmas by sharing my top writing tips on social media, culminating in sending out #12 today, Christmas Eve. You can find them all by searching for the hashtag #12WritingTips, but I thought it would also be a nice idea to collect them all on my blog. So here they are:

The Twelve Writing Tips of Christmas #1

The Twelve Writing Tips of Christmas #2

The Twelve Writing Tips of Christmas #3

The Twelve Writing Tips of Christmas #4

The Twelve Writing Tips of Christmas #5

The Twelve Writing Tips of Christmas #6

The Twelve Writing Tips of Christmas #7

The Twelve Writing Tips of Christmas #8

The Twelve Writing Tips of Christmas #9

The Twelve Writing Tips of Christmas #10

The Twelve Writing Tips of Christmas #11

The Twelve Writing Tips of Christmas #12


That’s it! Have a fantastic festive season, everybody. I wish you peace and happiness.


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Why give an experience for Christmas? (Or a book …)

IMG_3431On Sunday morning I joined John Griff, BBC Radio Northampton presenter, for his newspaper roundup. It’s an interesting slot. The guest is given a sofa, the Sunday newspapers and a cup of tea (all good so far) for about three-quarters of an hour before the 10.45am timeslot. All they have to do is find a few stories they’d like to talk about. Then join John in the studio and talk about them.

It was all fairly Christmassy stuff and I was particularly struck by a feature written by Lucy Siegle in The Observer magazine, The Eco Guide to … Not Buying Stuff.

The thrust of the piece is that your Christmas shopping list doesn’t have to consist of material objects. ‘Experiences’ such as balloon flights or a day at a falconry centre are actually good for us. Apparently, researchers at Cornell University have concluded that receiving an experience gift can create more happiness than receiving possessions. The neuroscientists of the University of Pennsylvania link satisfaction to new experiences, especially if they take place outdoors.

I have to say I’m not convinced by “The most rubbish gift of 2017” – a full day of waste collection and recycling in a UK city of their choice. Me, I’d much rather have a few laps of Silverstone in a Ferrari or a glider flight.

A couple of great things about gifting an experience:

  • You can buy right up until the last moment
  • You don’t have to wrap it!

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And you never know where it will lead. It was an experience day at Icarus Falconry at Holdenby House, near Northampton, that led me to put a rescue owl, Barney, in The Little Village Christmas. Then the lovely folk at Icarus invited me back to fly Lillie, the young barn owl I’d based Barney on (except Barney has been injured and Lillie is all in one glorious piece).File 03-10-2017, 21 05 10

Or you could just give books as presents, of course. There your loved one will find all kinds of experiences without ever needing to leave their favourite armchair!

TLVC bookshotThe Little Village Christmas in paperback and ebook.

TLVC 99p Kindle glitter


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#TheLittleVillageChristmas – a magical #99p on #Kindle

TLVC 99p Kindle glitter

One snowy day, an author decided to write a blog post to tell everybody that her latest book, The Little Village Christmas, is on sale throughout the land (or UK-based cyberspace) for the magical price of 99p.

A Christmas fairytale? Sorcery? ‘Tis not!

You can make The Little Village Christmas appear on your device. All you must do is click here and a window will emerge. Upon entering the window, the first step in your quest is to discover a button like this:

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Be not afraid to click it! And your path to Christmas in the little village of Middledip will appear.

The author sends you luck upon your quest! The way is clear for you. Hurry now before the chance has gone …!

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An Interview with Mark West @MarkEWest

mark west by liz kearns

I’m welcoming Mark West onto my blog today to talk about his new novella, Polly.

Mark’s one of my oldest writing buddies, one of my most local writing buddies, one of my beta readers and a member of Team Sue Moorcroft.

So, Mark, tell us a bit about yourself, and about Polly.

Okay, I’ve been writing fiction since I was about eight (I wanted to know what happened next to The Six Million Dollar Man and also the Star Wars characters and decided to make up the stories myself). I wrote some short horror stories in the late 80s, moved to contemporary novels in the early 90s then went back to horror and started getting published in the small press in 1999 (when I first met you). Polly is a dark thriller about a woman who goes to Paris when she realises her marriage is over.

When we first met you wrote the kind of horror that gave me nightmares (literally). In recent years you’ve moved over into chillers and thrillers. I’m glad, because, a wussy wimp when it comes to scary things, it means I can read your stories again, but what has made you change direction?

I loved writing horror (and still do) but one of my writing goals is to get a mass-market deal and that will just never happen with horror. I wrote a novella called “Drive” a few years ago, which isn’t horror and I was worried about how it’d be received and it went down very well, even getting nominated for a British Fantasy Society Award. Based on that, I decided to move into thrillers and you & I talked it over in-depth at the time during one of our Trading Post meet-ups. Polly was the first step towards that, to see if I could do it again, and my novel-in-progress is a psychological thriller.

I’m always surprised at your writing output, considering you have a full-time job and a family. You’re active on your blog and on social media too. Where do you find the hours?

I don’t really know and I worry that it’s one of those things where, if I figure it out, it’ll all collapse like a house of cards.

What’s your planning process? You write short stories, novellas and novels – does the process vary from one form to another?

I make a LOT of notes. I’ve been more suited towards shorts and novellas the past few years, to be honest, so going back into a novel was a big step for me and I’ve been like a magpie, stealing ideas and processes from all over.

Which is your favourite form?

I’ve thoroughly enjoyed working on the novel but I still prefer the novella – it’s long enough to stretch out and luxuriate in the space, but not get bogged down in the length.

polly blog icon image

But back to Polly, I love the cover art. Did you have much input on that? Are you pleased with it?

I really like the cover art and didn’t have any direct input, other than to say I didn’t think the first image represented the character properly. It was well done, a woman in front of Notre Dame (which is key to the story) but the model was clearly in her twenties (too young for Polly) and had a lot of tattoos (which Polly doesn’t have). But the one that we ended up with is marvellous, very elegant and also nicely noir-ish.

Is there an audio version of Polly coming along?

There is, and it’s the first audio version I’ve had of one of my books.

What made you write this particular story? How did you find the right publisher?

Stormblade Productions, the publisher, asked me, and I knew Carrie Buchanan would be narrating the audiobook. That led me towards writing with a female POV (which also helped as a good exercise to get me up to speed with the novel), I quite liked the idea of writing about Paris and once I’d got the notion that her marriage had collapsed, it all laid itself out. Though, if you remember, my original ending was a lot darker and you & I, in another Trading Post session, brainstormed pretty much what’s there now.

I know you’re working on a novel right now. How’s that going? Can you give us an idea of what it’s about?

I am, it’s into the second draft now and seems to be going well, though I’m currently at the “this is rubbish, it’s not original, nobody’s going to like it” stage. It’s about Claire, a woman in her mid-forties, who is on the verge of divorce and having to start things over. Unfortunately, at the same time, she realises that someone is stalking her.

I know that stage! But I’m sure you’re wrong, it’ll be great, and I’m looking forward to reading it. Thanks for chatting.

Thank you for having me! J

Mark West lives in Northamptonshire with his wife Alison and their young son Matthew. Since discovering the small press in 1998 he has published over eighty short stories, two novels, a novelette, a chapbook, a collection and three novellas (one of which, Drive, was nominated for a British Fantasy Society Award). He has more short stories and novellas forthcoming and is currently working on a novel.

Away from writing, he enjoys reading, walking, cycling, watching films and playing Dudeball with his son.

He can be contacted through his website at http://www.markwest.org.uk and is also on Twitter as @MarkEWest. Click here if you’d like to know more about Polly.


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Welcome M W Arnold, The Season for Love @rararesources @mick859

The Season For Love Banner (1)

I don’t often invite authors onto my blog but I’ve made an exception for M W Arnold as Mick is a stalwart member of my street team, Team Sue Moorcroft. You might also see the same interview on Rachel’s Random Reads to make the most of our respective audiences.

How does it feel to be joining the ranks of the traditionally published authors? How long have you wanted this?
For a ‘supposed’ author, I’m actually lost for words and until it’s actually released, I guess you could say that I’m still waiting for it to all fall through. I can’t tell you how many of my writing friends have told me not to be so silly when I say that. Actually, it’s really not something I thought would happen so soon. I only joined the Romantic Novelists’ Association, New Writer’s Scheme in 2013 after starting to write semi-seriously the previous year, so I’ve only thought about getting published since around that time.
Tell us something about The Season for Love
‘The Season for Love’ is actually the second book I’ve finished and, so far, the only one where the last paragraph was the first thing I’d written. That’s as far as the planning  went. I’m not a ‘Planster’, I’m afraid to say. I’ve tried it since, and for this one too, but it only goes as far as jotting notes on the bottom of the page I’m writing as they come to me, though only about say, 40% of the time do they actually make the story. I expect I could get a sequel out of the notes I have stored away for this book.
What made you choose to write romantic fiction?
I’m a huge fan of the late and very great Terry Pratchett, but my Lady Wife read ‘The Xmas Factor’ by Annie Sanders and she insisted I read it, now. So, and more to humour her I have to admit, I did…in one sitting. Then read again. The morning after that second reading, I felt the need to write. I had no idea what I was going to write, just that I had to write. I was finally pulled from my old laptop late the same evening and I’d the start of what would be my first book. That’s unpubished, and I now know why, though I would like to come back to it as the story is good, but by gum, the writing needs improvement. That was in this genre because of that book I’d read, and since then, this has been my genre of choice. It helps that I really am an old-fashioned romantic. I like to think I’ve found my calling.
Where can readers buy your book?
I’ve been lucky and ‘The Season for Love’ is being released on both sides of the Atlantic on the same day, December 16th. It’s available on Amazon, Kobo, Nook, Smashwords, Bookstrand and the Passion in Print (the publishing house I’m signed with for this book) website. And seeing as you were so kind to ask, here are the links:
What jobs have you had apart from ‘author’?
For the first fifteen years of my working life, I worked for Her Majesty, Queen Elizabeth II. That sounds very impressive, doesn’t it? It’s not quite so much when I elaborate. I was actually in the Royal Air Force, so it counts. Nothing so fancy as a pilot, I was office staff, but I did serve on flying squadrons and saw quite a lot of the world, which was kind of the point as I wanted to travel.
Do you have a day job now?
After leaving the RAF, I started working with computers and that’s what I do now. It pays the bills, so far, though I’d be fibbing if I didn’t say I’d love to be able to earn my living writing.
Have you told your day job colleagues about The Season for Love?
Yep. They all know and after getting their heads around the genre I’ve chosen to write it, have all been very supportive. One of them was actually a beta reader for this book and says it’s encouraged them to write (not that they have yet), so that’s good.
Do you have much time for reading? What do you read?
I don’t have as much time for reading now as I did before I started writing, though I do try to read at least during my lunch break, it helps to clear the mind for an afternoons work. When I do read, it’s very much in the Romance genre. It won’t come as a surprise to those of you reading this that I’m a big fan of Sue Moorcroft books and consider her very much a benchmark I’d like to aspire to attaining. Whenever I feel the need for a break from romance though, I always go back to Mr Pratchett, with a sideways trip into the Harry Potters too.
Thank you for the shout out! Is there another M. W. Arnold book coming along any time soon?
Currently, I’m finishing off ‘Knicker Shopper Glory’, which I expect to start sending out in the hope of getting a publishing deal for that in the New Year. So, yes, if anyone’s out there, read’s ‘The Season for Love’ you know where to find me. Whatever happens, I am determined to get that second deal as soon as possible.
Love the new title. I hope both books do really well for you, Mick.


The Season for Love – blurb

Believing she was responsible for the death of her husband, Chrissie Stewart retreats from all those who love her. A chance meeting with a mysterious stranger, single-parent Josh Morgan and his bewitching young daughter Lizzy, breathes new life into her and gradually, she feels able to start to let go of the memory of her lost love. Unexpected links are revealed between the two families that strengthen the growing bonds she feels to this man and with the encouragement of her best friend Annie, herself hiding a hidden conflict from Chrissie, she battles with her demons to believe in her ability to trust and love again. Everything comes to a head on Christmas Day; which all goes to show that this is truly The Season for Love.

The Season For Love AuthorBio – Mick is a hopeless romantic who was born in England, and spent fifteen years roaming around the world in the pay of HM Queen Elizabeth II in the Royal Air Force, before putting down roots, and realising how much he missed the travel. This, he’s replaced somewhat with his writing, including reviewing books and writing a regular post at the www.NovelKicks.co.uk blog site.

He’s the proud keeper of a cat bent on world domination, is mad on the music of the Beach Boys and enjoys the theatre and humouring his Manchester United supporting wife. Finally, and most importantly, Mick’s a member of the Romantic Novelists Association, with the forthcoming publication of his debut novel The Season for Love.



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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!


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.



Ribbon bookmarks, key rings and wine bottle charms.


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