Monthly Archives: March 2015

What’s a Street Team? And why has Sue got one?

Team Sue Moorcroft 2When a reader and Facebook friend, Louise St, posted on my Facebook author page that I should have a street team, and she’d like to be on it, I at first thought it was a joke. I saw street teams as the preserve of America, to be honest, and something that other writers had.

But my natural curiosity led me to research the subject on the internet. I discovered that:

  • The idea does seem more prevalent in the market-savvy States, but, hey, I like it. So why not adopt it?
  • A street team is made up of enthusiastic readers who want to talk about, and to, a favourite author.
  • They want to be the first to hear news, and talk about it, to help both author and publisher by spreading the word about special offers and awards shortlisting.
  • The big difference between a street team and the sort of reciprocal sharing of social media posts that authors perform in order to help and be helped, is that it simply harnesses the enthusiasm of readers.
  • Truthfully, a street team can be anything you want it to be.

There’s a lot more general information about street teams available, which you can search for easily on the internet. I felt really humbled when my mum said, ‘It sounds like a fan club!’ In a way, I suppose it is. I’m thrilled to say that a further 8 people (5 women, 3 men) joined Louise St on ‘Team Sue Moorcroft’. We began with a Yahoo group to share news and chat but that seemed a bit clunky, so, at the suggestion of team member John, we switched to a closed Facebook group, which works really well. It’s quick and easy for team members to share information from there.

I asked a few team members if they’d like to share with us what they like about being members of Team Sue Moorcroft. And here’s what they said:

Tracy: Being asked to be part of #teamsuemoorcroft is very exciting. It’s great I can interact with one of my favourite authors and like-minded people.

Louise St: Being able to Interact with an author who’s work you thoroughly enjoy is not only great fun but inspiring too!

Louise Sp: For me, it’s an honour to be part of the Street Team as I’ve been an avid reader of Sue’s books for a long while now. It goes without saying, I am also a huge fan and being able to interact with Sue and help to get more people reading her books is fantastic!

Anne Williams, ‘Being Anne’ (blog): I wanted to be part of your street team because there’s nothing I like better than spreading the word about authors and books I love – if they’ve given me such pleasure, I love being able to share it. And if I can also share “breaking news”, people who trust my judgement by now will appreciate that extra information. I’d also like to see you selling a lot more books and reaching loads of new readers!

The team gives me a lovely warm glow whenever I think about it. Thank you to each and every team member. It’s a joy to chat to you.If anyone reading this would like to talk to me about being a team member – sign up, ask questions, whatever – you can contact me by direct message on Twitter or Facebook, or simply email me via my website. It would be a pleasure to hear from you.

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Sue’s Lovely Blog Hop

I’ve been challenged by Shauna Bickley to join in the Lovely Blog Hop to talk about some of the things that have shaped my life and my writing.

At the end, you’ll find links to some blogs and writers I like. The writers have all agreed to participate in this Lovely Blog Hop.

First Memory
I think it was having measles when I was three or four years of age. I was very ill, apparently, and didn’t eat for a long time. I can still remember my bedroom (blue rug with a peacock on it) and the high bed (small birds on the cover) and how much I ached all over. My dad came home during the day for something and I could hear him downstairs but by the time my aching muscles would let me get out of bed, he’d gone back to work. I was upset but my mum was thrilled – I didn’t realise until much later that she’d been worried for my survival and my standing on the landing and crying was a big step up from lying in bed like a hot little slug.

My family lived in Cove, near Farnborough in Hampshire, England, at the time. Dad was in the army and stationed at Aldershot Barracks. There hadn’t been an army quarter available for us when we first got the posting and Mum found she liked living out of barracks for a while, so we stayed in the village instead of moving into the camp.

Books
I was slightly late to reading but once I’d conquered the skill I latched onto the world of fiction and it has remained one of my favourite places to be. Although I was a noisy kid with a big social group, I spent hours lying on my bed with a book. I read a lot of Enid Blyton but was reading adult novels by the time I was 9. The first was ‘A Town Like Alice’ by Nevil Shute. I’m still a huge devotee and think I have everything of his that was published – even stuff published posthumously and which I’m convinced he would never have wanted his readers to see. Dad used to vet what I borrowed from his bookcase to ensure it was ‘suitable for little girls’. (Not ‘Lolita’, apparently.) I used to give almost any book a go and made it a mission to finish anything I began. This has reversed itself as I find reading time harder to come by and therefore more precious – I tend to read mainly in the romantic and women’s fiction genres and if I’m not enjoying a book, I stop reading it.

Libraries
When we first left the army (I was nearly 10) I hated Civvy Street. The kids at my new school had received few ‘new kids’ into their classes. In army schools new kids were generally helped and welcomed because it happened to us all so regularly. But, in my new school, I answered the familiar question ‘Where did you used to live?’ in the way I was used to: Germany, Cyprus, Malta, and, in the UK, Hampshire and London. The response was ‘You’re a liar’ and nobody spoke to me. During that time, the local library was my saviour. I could get three books out a week – nowhere near enough! So I used to sit on the floor or in the window seat and read in situ.

*Footnote: I gained acceptance at my new school by winning a fight arranged for after school. The girl in question (with whom I’m still friends!) came at me with a couple of ineffective slaps. I’d been not only brought up in the barracks but had two big brothers. I punched her in the throat and, when she could breathe again, she ran home crying. The crowd who’d come to see me beaten up then accepted me as if the no-speaking period had never happened.

What’s Your Passion?
Formula 1 racing. I’m a complete F1 bore and watch every programme, report, practice session, qualifying session and race that I possibly can. I love it.

Learning
I hated my senior school and, when I was told I would have to stay there for two additional years plus do six years of university if I wanted to be a journalist, I said, ‘I’m not doing that, then.’ I found a secretarial course at the local college and set myself free. On the first day, I learned I could have applied to be a cub reporter at the local newspaper and done my qualifications on day-release. Instead of going home and writing to the paper to ask about positions for the following year, I took the view that the opportunity had gone. I did well on my course and went into a bank, where I also did reasonably well until I left, 9 years later. I have never taken an exam since my secretarial course.

However, I’ve educated myself about writing and publishing! I read writing magazines and books, attend conferences, take workshops, read newsletters, and at one time took a correspondence course that helped me launch my career in short stories for national newsstand magazines. Creating a CV around short stories was planned as a stepping stone to being a published novelist. I’ve sold over 150 short stories, 8 novels, a novella, 5 serials and dozens of columns and articles, so my plan worked – even if the route wasn’t as straightforward as I’d once hoped.

Writing
It’s a compulsion. What we call ‘writing’ would’ve been called ‘storytelling’ in the days before most people could actually write. I think that’s what I am first: a storyteller. This concept is something I try to use when teaching creative writing so that people who have a challenge such as dyslexia or interrupted education are not put off.

Here are the links to other blogs from some writers you might find interesting. Not all of my writing friends write in the same genre as I do but they have something in common – they’re lovely. Thanks to Shauna Bickley for nominating me.

Liz Harris

Sheryl Browne

Berni Stevens

Mark West

Kirsty Ferry

Nikki Moore

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Italy, the company of writers … what’s not to love?

Flip chart and table on the veranda

Flip chart and table on the veranda

Although I work on my own mostly, and like it that way, sometimes I get the opportunity to work with other writers. I love their company and the feeling of being with people like myself, who live partly in the worlds of their imaginations.

Sharing the world another writer is creating, as they create it, is really exciting. I’m able to dip in and out of these worlds-in-progress whenever I run a workshop or share an ideas storm with a writing friend – but, once a year, I’m able to share a special experience, a

The terrace

The terrace

writing ‘holiday’, in a special place. At Arte Umbria, halfway up an Italian mountain in beautiful Umbria, my classroom is a sunny/shady terrace with panoramic views. I’m able to tailor what I offer to the participants: workshops, one-to-one tutorials, mentoring, peer review, publishing insight and private writing time. Writers of all abilities and experiences from novices to second- or third-time novelists come on the holiday to progress their work, expand their knowledge, write, and leave the workaday world behind.

My room last year

My room last year

The Poggiolame Estate is wild and beautiful, full of places to walk. There’s a swimming pool, places to write, and the house itself is 300 years old, furnished in a way that’s somehow gracious and quirky. The food and wine is fabulous and the hosts, Sara and David, are welcoming. We only leave the estate to go on a couple of local excursions. As course leader I’m busy all day, but even I find time to write, without pesky domestic chores to bother me.

The pool

The pool

To find out more or to book, go to arteumbria.com.

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Why use a pseudonym? And should you?

I was asked recently whether a writer should write under his own name, or to take a pseudonym.

A lot of people get hung up on this – and for good reasons. The right name can grab readers, the wrong one turn them off. A pen name can distance you from associations with your real name. So here are my thoughts:

  • StartingOver-cover-4 (1)I write as Sue Moorcroft because THIS IS ME. That’s what it says on my birth certificate. THIS WORK IS MINE. That’s how I feel about it.
  • Writing under one’s maiden name can be useful. If you write under your married name, find success, then the marriage ends, you can be stuck with a name you no longer want.
  • Length is a disadvantage to ‘Moorcroft’. A shorter name could be larger on book jackets.
  • A lot of people believe that having a name at one end of the alphabet or the other makes them easily overlooked on the A-Z bookshop shelves. Others that names containing certain letters such as K or Z look strong.
  • I have a friend who regrets taking a pen name and says it often makes easy things laborious, especially when it comes to giving people bank account details for payments. She’s in the process of moving over to her real name. I have also addressed her by the ‘wrong’ name at events, ie her real name.
  • I also know someone whose day job is in HR and her first book has an HR dispute in it … Those two parts of her life are better distanced for professional reasons. Also, being a woman writing about relationships, she was already attracting negative fnaar fnaar  jokes from men at work. ‘Do you write like that Fifty Shades woman?’ etc. She wasn’t quick enough to come back with ‘I would love to write the world’s bestselling paperback’ and it made her uneasy, so she took the pen name.
  • Some people feel they have a ‘funny’ name. If my name were Schitt or Snott or Peepee I would change it, too! Otoh, Dean Koontz is memorable precisely because people can make ribald jokes about his name. And I understand he writes  good books, which helps. But look at actors Larry Lamb and Sean Bean (who was born Shaun Bean) – their ‘funny’ names haven’t held them back. They’ve utilised them as memory joggers.
  • if you have a mediocre sales record but a big publisher wants you, they will find it easier to market you under another name, ie one that doesn’t have the mediocre sales record attached. This means throwing out the baby with the bathwater as you will lose the readers you already have …
  • If you share a surname with someone writing in the same area as you, you may feel that you’ll be accused of trying to capitalise on their success. Of course, you may actually capitalise on their success. Who knows?
  • TWP_HIGHRES 150dpiI have recently fallen victim to a writer writing different things under one name. The first was chick lit, which I enjoyed, the second was motor cycle gang romance, which left me cold. Waste of my money. Now I probably won’t buy any more of her stuff because I feel cheated and can’t be bothered to check out whether any particular book she’s written is chick lit or motorcycle gang stuff. Even subtle variations are picked up by readers. I’ve written short stories and serials for women’s mags, and they’re pretty wholesome. The serials made it to large print for the libraries and so became books, in that you could go to a library and borrow it as a book you hold in your hand. So these books appeared on Amazon and readers began asking why they were always out of stock as they had very small print runs. So, as a service to readers, I  put them out, along with an out of print novel, as ebooks. They became a useful stream of income. But then the reviews started and a few people are disappointed that the ‘wholesome books’ are not what they’re used to. They’re short. Where’s the sex? Conversely, I’ve had people who followed my mag stuff buying a novel and saying they were disappointed in me for the heat level! In my view, the shift between my mag stuff and my traditionally published novels is small. But it’s enough to disappoint some folk.

So, should you use a pseudonym? It depends upon your particular circumstances and preferences. It may be a choice that an agent or publisher helps you make.

Good luck!

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