Christmas. A time for family, friends – and rekindling old flames….
When Laurel returns to the village of Middledip, she’s looking for a quiet life. Adjusting to her recent divorce, she’s ready to spend some time getting back on her feet amidst the glorious snow-dusted countryside.
Yet, life in Middledip is far from straightforward. Coming to the aid of her sister, Rea, as she navigates her own troubles, Laurel barely has a moment to think about where her own life is going.
However, time stands still when she sees her old flame, Grady Cassidy – and it’s soon as if they’ve never been apart. But through her happiness, Laurel remembers why she left the village all those years ago, as she recalls a dark night and Grady’s once-wayward brother, Mac….
Can Laurel learn to forgive and forget? Or will her chances of Christmas under the mistletoe with Grady remain a dream?
An enchanting, festive story, perfect for fans of Sarah Morgan and Carole Matthews.
Welcome to my blog. We’ve known each other a long time and it’s my pleasure to welcome you to talk about your writing and your brand new book, A Wing and a Prayer. Congratulations on its publication today!
Hi Sue. Firstly, may I say a big thank you for hosting me on your blog, this is quite an honour and a pleasure.
Tell us a little about your background.
Well, I went straight into the Royal Air Force from school and stayed, quite happily traversing the world, for the next 16 years. I really have to thank the Queen for paying for my excursions, if we ever meet. I had a wonderful time! I then left as I’d been married for the last 5 years and the Lady Wife and I had lived in 4 different married quarters so it was time to settle down. I’m still not certain I’m used to being a civvie yet!
What made you write about the Air Transport Auxiliary rather than the Royal Air Force? You served with the RAF for many years, didn’t you?
It was pure chance. I know you’ve probably heard that from a few authors, that they stumbled into a project – well, I really did. I’d been pretty ill and hadn’t been able to pick up any of my unfinished projects. Then it was suggested that I try something new, something which didn’t bring back bad memories. I happened to be watching a television program about the ATA, ‘Spitfire Women’, and the next thing I know, I’m fishing around on the internet. By the end of the day, I had a rough outline of a story and a number of characters fleshed out. My interest in that time period came in handy and before I knew what was really happening, I was tapping away.
How did you feel when you were offered a contract by Wild Rose Press? Had you published other books already?
My flabber was well and truly gasted! You could have knocked me down with a feather. I had a romantic drama published back in December 2017 and shortly after, that’s when my ill health kicked in. When the contract offer came through, I suppose that was when I first started to think that, perhaps, just maybe, I am an author.
I know the next book’s already underway. Tell us a little about that. Does it follow on?
Book 2 is finished and now with my editor, actually, and is set about 6 months later, around May 1943. This one is more personal, in that the characters find themselves in more peril than the first. There’s a meeting with a big US movie star where things don’t go as planned and which the mystery – a little more minor than in ‘A Wing and a Prayer’ – is centred around. One of the girls gets married and then has to deal with the broken relationship that’s her little sister. I guess that’s what this one is all about, the various relationships between the girls and their various friends and siblings. We see the best of people in the worst of situations I like to think, here.
Do you have a plan to write more books after that to make a series?
When the contract offer came in, I swiftly got to know my editor and pitched some ideas to her. This one is now officially subtitled, ‘Broken Wings – book 1’, so I guess it looks like it. With book 2 with my editor, I’m about a quarter to a third of the way through the first draft of book 3; and this is the Christmas one! I’m having a lot of fun researching and writing this one, especially in making sure my American character gets the full-on mid-war yuletide. I don’t think she knows what she’s let herself in for!
Thanks for coming over to chat and celebrating your achievement.
Many, thanks again for having me, Sue. I’ve had a wonderful time.
The Air Transport Auxiliary Mystery Club!
Four ladies of the Air Transport Auxiliary bond over solving the mystery of who was responsible for the death of one’s sister. Battling both internal forces and those of the country’s mutual enemies, the women find that both love and dangers are cousins cut from the same ilk.
This is a sweeping story of love, death and betrayal set against the backdrop of war when ties of friendship are exceptionally strong.
A Wing and a Prayer – Extract
“Mind the duck!”
Mary’s warning was a smidgeon too late. Betty turned her head toward the shout just when she needed to do the exact opposite and keep her eyes on the path.
“Aargh!” cried Betty as she was sent sprawling to the ground.
A loud, angry, “Quack! Quack!” was followed by a flurry of wings and feathers as the slightly stunned duck half flew and half staggered to the sanctuary provided by the river.
“I did tell her to watch out for the duck,” Mary muttered in her own defense as they rushed to help Betty to her feet.
Penny and Doris took an arm each as Mary reached to retrieve Betty’s handbag. It had landed precariously close to the edge of the river, and the dastardly duck was snuffling at it before Mary seized it and handed it back to Betty.
“Mary!” cried Betty. “Grab that envelope!”
Swiveling, Mary saw a large brown envelope and stooped for it before it could fall into the water. “Got it!” she yelled, waving it in the air. Unfortunately, the envelope being upside down, the contents spilled onto the ground around her, luckily missing going into the river. She bent down to pick them up and was surprised to discover they were all newspaper cuttings.
Mick Arnold is a hopeless romantic who spent fifteen years roaming around the world in the pay of HM Queen Elisabeth II in the RAF before putting down roots. This he’s replaced somewhat with his writing, including reviewing books and supporting fellow saga and romance authors in promoting their novels.
I’m always surprised when someone tells me editors, agents and readers don’t like prologues. Many of my books have a prologue. No editor has asked me to remove one and I’ve even been specifically asked to include one. As a reader, I love them. I find them intriguing.
What do I think a prologue is? Typically, three to five pages of introductory material. Its importance often doesn’t become clear until it shows itself as a catalyst or significant background to the main story. It’s often characterised by being distanced from the opening of Chapter One in time or location so wouldn’t flow easily into Chapter One.
Are prologues necessary? I think the easiest litmus test is to take out the prologue and see if a book still makes sense. If it does then I guess it was written to “set the mood”. But if it later proves crucial to the backstory and/or will impact the main plot, it’s earning its place. In The Little Village Christmas the prologue is made up of a conversation between Ben and his mother. It’s about what he’s just lived through and why he’s in such a rocky emotional state. There were reasons for me deciding to write the scene as the prologue rather than include the information elsewhere in the book:
I wanted the reader to know this about Ben but I didn’t want the heroine, Alexia, to. Her not knowing creates conflict between them that lasts for most of the first part of the book.
Knowing his backstory would allow the reader to forgive his inconsistent behaviour towards Alexia in the first couple of chapters.
I didn’t want to tell the reader everything about Ben’s past. I wanted them to know there was still lots to uncover.
I write from at least two points of view and I like the first and last chapters to be through the eyes of the heroine, not the hero. Giving Ben the Prologue was like an aside.
I like my prologues to be:
short, so readers aren’t wrong-footed when Chapter One begins
self-contained, to some degree so they’re not dissatisfied by the transition to Chapter One
comprehensible but intriguing.
The reader knows full well while reading a prologue that the real story is waiting and some people think it makes the readers start the book twice. Is this a bad thing? In The Little Village Christmas it meant readers had to first immerse themselves in Ben’s past, his old world in his old house near Swindon and then immerse themselves in Alexia’s present world in Middledip, but this could just as easily have happened in Chapters One and Two. I tried to make sure it was worth the readers’ mental energy by treating both the prologue and Chapter One like the opening of a novel in terms of energy and impact. Each were emotional and gave the readers plenty to think about.
Having a prologue gives me the chance to hook the readers in twice in other words.
My favourite prologue was in Starting Over. It was only one page and took the form of an email from Tess’s fiancé, telling her their relationship was over. A lot of readers said, ‘I just had to read on to find out what happened next!’ I counted that a success.
Summer on a Sunny Island has been in the UK Kindle Top 100 for almost all of June. Thanks to EVERYONE who has bought, read and left lovely reviews. Every review is deeply appreciated. The ebook is still 99p but that may end today, 30th June 2020, so grab it if you want it!
Isn’t it great when a website asks to feature you? You might already be familiar with ManyBooks.Net not just for their author interviews and other free content but because of their free downloads of out-of-copyright books. They contacted me recently and offered me the opportunity to be interviewed for Author of the Day.
My thanks, as ever, to the fab team at Avon Books UK and Blake Friedmann Literary, Flim and TV Agency for their fantastic support.
The idea for Summer on a Sunny Island was sparked by a service kids’ reunion in Malta, where I was brought up for several years. My brothers, my sister-in-law and I managed to convert one lunch into a ten-day holiday so I didn’t see why such a reunion shouldn’t for part of a novel too. It’s about Rosa, who’s supporting her celeb-cook mum Dory in Malta and Zach, who’s looking after his Maltese grandmother’s property. They’ve both left tricky situations behind them in England but, of course, those situations don’t just go away.
I really hope that you enjoy the opportunity to travel to Malta by book, even if you can’t travel in real life during the pandemic. Malta’s a glorious, golden nugget in the blue Mediterranean sea and a part of my heart will always be there.
Thanks to every single blogger who’s signed up to read and review the book. Here’s details of the blog tour for you to follow:
In addition, fab bloggers, including several from Team Sue Moorcroft, are kindly hosting extra posts from me.
If you read Summer on a Sunny Island it would be fantastic if you could pop a review online. Every single one is appreciated.
On the evening of Friday 1st May I’ll be appearing on a screen near you as part of the Avon Book Fest. Bella Osborne, Phillipa Ashley and I will be live at 5.30pm BST and you can send us in your questions using the chat feature. It’s free and you can sign up here.
And no publication day blog post would be complete without buy links – so here they are!
The virtual Avon Book Fest continues with authorly chat between Phillipa Ashley and Bella Osborne, an event for which I’ll be acting as chair, on the screen of your device.
Join us on Friday 1st May, 5.30-6.30 p.m. BST for a conversation about books and writing. Register for this free event here and get ready to type in your questions! We’ll answer as many as we can. Registration ends at 5pm Wednesday 29th April 2020.
The full Avon Book Fest programme can be found here and you can register for any event that takes your fancy.
Summer on a Sunny Island will be hitting shelves and devices in two weeks and the promo looks a little different this time. No physical launch party, radio interviews booked by phone and only virtual events. I have to say I’ve had a great time doing these virtual events with Avon Book Fest, MyVLF and Curl Up With Cathy.
I’ve also recorded a piece about Summer on a Sunny Island for Blake Friedmann, the wonderful agency that represents me, to go out to publishers in other countries. That took me nearly all morning, by the time I’d carried my laptop around the house to find the most flattering light, decided what to say, stood some of my books up in the background and applied make-up. The recording took twelve goes and I wish I’d kept the outtakes now! I swore, flapped my hands, pulled faces, groaned and banged my head on the wall.
I’ve also been invited to take part in Facebook Live events for Tamworth Book Club on May 7th at 10.00 am; with Kim Nash on 5th May at 8.00 pm and, hopefully, I’ll be on BBC Radio Northampton on publication day, 30th April about 10.30 am, even if it has to be by telephone rather than whizzing over there to join lovely Bernie Keith in his studio.
People have been so lovely in inviting me to take part in online or radio events! It gives me a glow that so many take #BeKind to heart. Readers have also asked me how they can support me and other authors while we continue to write the books that earn our livings in tricky times and when some people have diminished disposable income. Here are all the ways I can come up with:
If you know you’re going to buy a book, why not preorder it? There’s no added cost to you but it can help with print runs, selling the books into retailers and, very importantly, chart positions. You can preorder Summer on a Sunny Island here:
Buy new books. There are often a lot of book bargains about, especially ebooks. If you prefer print, some of the supermarkets are doing great work in keeping books on shelves and keeping open. Independent or High Street book shops and online retailers are doing home delivery.
Use a subscription service. Audible or Kindle Unlimited are just two ways to access books for a monthly fee.
Borrow ebooks and audiobooks remotely at your library. Many libraries have relaxed their rules so you can join remotely now. Luckily for authors, ebooks and audiobooks loans have just been included in the Public Lending Right scheme so they’ll earn a few pence for every loan.
Review the books you read … especially if it’s a good review. (My personal rule is that if I don’t enjoy a book I don’t finish it, ergo I don’t review it. But everyone makes her or his own decision.) Authors appreciate every single review. If you want to read books slightly ahead of release you can even join Netgalley and request books in return for a review. You won’t get everything you request but that’s a book bargain if ever I heard of one!
I’ve seen quite a few authors talking on social media about whether they should be writing during the current Coronavirus outbreak. Some feel too anxious, because of what’s going on around them; others feel it’s somehow wrong.
Whether I could or should continue writing hadn’t even occurred to me as a choice so these conversations have made me question myself. Am I insensitive? Or do I bury my head in the sand and hope real life will go away?
Maybe one or both, but I don’t think my willingness to plan my summer 2021 novel while I await edits on this year’s winter novel, A Christmas Wish, is due to either of those things.
Writing and reading are my escapes. Owing to external events, I’m actually working harder than usual. My editor and most of her team are working from home to keep producing my books. If I said I couldn’t write I would be letting them down. Missing deadlines would create timetabling issues for us all in the future, as well as endangering a career it has taken decades to build. Writing’s my job. A whole lot of people are working during the Covid-19 crisis. They don’t have other options and I’m not giving myself any either … especially as my editor is an author too and has written 46k in the lockdown alongside her day job. 😊 Some people have been laid off or put on furlough and must think me fortunate to have a job I can continue.
I admit to wondering about how the publishing landscape is changing but I feel that if I write my books then maybe getting them out to readers will fall into place. It would have been much worse if I’d been writing fifty years ago with no ebook or audio to sell, no social media to allow me to talk to the world, no remote ebook or audiobook borrowing from libraries. Also, the paperback supply chain’s still working! Independent booksellers and High Street chains, as well as internet retailers, are selling online for home delivery.
Friday 3rd April 2020, 5.30-6.30 p.m. BST you can join me, along with Fiona Gibson and Lorna Cook for a virtual author event as part of the Avon Book Fest. Click the link to register for this free event then join us as we chat about books and writing. You’ll be able to ask your own questions and we’ll answer as many as we can. Come along!
NOVEMBER 24th 2021 Meet the Author, Socially Shared Business Support Network.
Venue: Priory Theatre, Rosemary Hill, Kenilworth, Warwickshire
Join us for a morning of meeting local women authors from the Midlands. There will be an array of fiction and nonfiction books for people to browse.
This event brings together authors, their readers and local women in business and employment for this social, shopping and networking event. Authors will be showcasing their books and visitors will have the opportunity to chat with them and purchase signed copies of books too if they wish.
FREE event. Get your tickets here: https://www.eventbrite.co.uk/e/meet-the-author-event-tickets-181685605537
Coming shortly: events at Towcester Library and Rothwell Library. Check back for more info when available.