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.
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.
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!
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!
The Romantic Novelists’ Association (@RNATweets) is sixty years old this year. You can read a little of its history here. I’ve been a member for twenty of those years, initially as a member of the New Writers’ Scheme and then graduating to full. During those years I’ve given talks and workshops at various of their meetings and conferences, been minutes secretary, vice-chair and editor of its two anthologies, Loves Me, Loves Me Not and Truly, Madly, Deeply. The Association has been instrumental in my connecting to publishers and agents, making a huge number of friends and developing a can-do attitude.
I’ve attended the annual Romantic Novel Awards just about every year and coveted winning one of those crystal stars so much! Dream a Little Dream and Just for the Holidays were shortlisted and I went along to the awards revelling in being amongst the chosen few. I didn’t think I’d win and I was proved right.
This year, A Summer to Remember reached the shortlist and I plunged into the fun of shortlistee photographs and the champagne reception with utter enjoyment. I’d got into a dress that I hadn’t been able to wriggle into for a while, my shoes were reasonably comfortable and settled in to chat with the other shortlisted authors.
Shortlistees for the Goldsboro Books Contemporary Romantic Novel Award 2020. L-R Bella Osborne, Jeevani Chakira, Jules Wake, Sophie Kinsella, Victoria Walters and Carole Matthews. Imogen Clark somehow missed the photos.
Eventually, the reception expanded to encompass the rest of the guests, including my husband, who had waited out the photoshoot in the bar. It was time to claim our name badges, check our table numbers and find our seats at the circular tables dressed with snowy cloths. My agent Juliet Pickering from Blake Friedmann Literary, Film and TV Agency and editor Phoebe Morgan from Avon Books UK joined us, along with authors Dorothy Koomson, Lorna Cook, Jenni Keer and Bella Osborne.
The first excitement on the table was when Lorna Cook won the Katie Fforde Debut Romantic Novel Award for The Forgotten Village. As this book had also lifted the Joan Hessayon New Writers’ Award, Lorna’s obviously written something special! The awards were presented by performer and broadcaster Jenny Eclair and compered by the ever-lovely Jane Wenham-Jones.
I’d backed Jules Wake to win my category, which was seventh in the running order, because Notting Hill in the Snow is such a charming book, but had also suspected it would go to one of the top-selling authors on the list, Carole Matthews or Sophie Kinsella. When Jenny Eclair announced that I had won the Goldsboro Books Contemporary Romantic Novel Award 2020 my jaw must have almost hit the table!
Jenny Eclair presents the award
I remember very little about the next few minutes apart from chanting ‘Don’t fall up the stairs’ to myself as I made my way through the tables, doing the bump with Jenny Eclair as ‘social distance’ was being (somewhat) observed in view of Coronavirus concerns and grabbing my crystal star with both hands. I know I attempted a speech and choked up and I’m glad I retained enough presence of mind to thank the RNA, my fab agent and wonderful Team Avon and also Goldsboro Books for sponsoring the award.
I made my way back to my table with lots of lovely people shouting congratulations but I was too much in a daze to respond much. Sorry if I just gazed through you. Winning ‘a RoNA’ was such a dream come true for me that I was somewhere between Cloud Nine and Over the Moon. I have seen other winners act with dignity or with cool professionalism. I was just an over-excited mess!
At the end of the other awards, which I was too dazed to really concentrate on – even the wonderful speech given by Milly Johnson who received an outstanding achievement award – I was ushered off for more photographs with all the other winning authors.
Thank you not just to my agent, publishers, the RNA and the sponsors but to the volunteers who run the RNA and make it what it is, including working hard to give awards to authors like me at a glitzy event I’ll remember forever.
Thank you to the readers who read A Summer to Remember and loved it enough to put it at the top of the scoresheets.
Thanks to everyone who wrote the hundreds of congratulations I received on Twitter, Facebook, Instagram, Messenger, email, text and WhatsApp. This post is partly the speech I wish I’d had the presence of mind to make at the time.
But being an over-excited mess is what happens when you have a dream … and eventually, it comes true.
How lovely to be featured in my local paper. This is the screenshot of the print version but there’s a longer interview online on the ET’s website if you’d like to read it.
Quite a long time ago I used to work an evening shift for a digital prepress company situated in the Evening Telegraph’s then premises. Walking through the building in those days I would not have guessed that I’d ever make a news item. 🙂
I’m excited that it will be on book shop and supermarket shelves today, especially after the ebook has done so well, bobbing about in the top 100 for most of the past few weeks, rising as high as #26. Thanks to all the readers who have bought it.
Last night we had a launch event at Rothwell Library where I sold out of all the prepublication stock I had. The audience was fantastic and my friend Mark West a great organiser and interviewer. Thanks also to the Friends of Rothwell Library for putting on the event. Rothwell is a community library now and volunteers are keeping libraries going.
I hope that readers enjoy Lily’s journey, both emotional and physical, from the frosty cottages of Middledip to the snowy mountains of Switzerland. It begins with a determination to find her half-brothers and ends with a lot of hard choices.
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.