Category Archives: Paperback

One Summer in Italy or how I write a book #OneSummerinItaly #NewBook

Publication Day!

Today’s one of the happiest days of the year – a publication day. One Summer in Italy is sent out into the world … well, it’s sent out to shelves and portable devices, anyway. I hope you like my latest book baby.

The jokey term for a novel ‘book baby’ came into being for a reason, I think. Though a fantastic, joyful event, there’s a lot of hard work involved in giving it life.

Here’s the bullet-point version from my perspective:

  • Get an idea for the premise of the book. For One Summer in Italy this came when I was in Italy at Arte Umbria, where I have taught courses and led retreats for several years. The chef and I happened to be taking a break at the same time, sitting in the sun with our feet in the pool, and she told me about being a seasonal worker. I thought, ‘What a great thing for one of my heroines to do’.
  • Work on characters and planning.
  • Research. Yes, this did involve being in Italy again and taking a host of pictures. ♥ But also a lot of finding and absorbing information on seasonal workers (employees and employers), ex-pat families, the hospitality trade, laws and regulations, web development, homelessness, motorbikes, blood groups, watercolour painting and even Italian cemeteries.
  • Write the first draft. This takes months and is punctuated with constant distractions and interruptions. I was thankful for last year’s writing retreat where I wrote nearly a quarter of the first draft and had the joyful experience of being in the place I was writing about … more or less. My imagination added a town and a hotel.
  • Write another draft or two
  • Send book in
  • Receive structural edit. The structural edit covers all the large changes my editor feels will make help me produce the best book I can. Discuss with editor; make decisions on how many suggestions I’ll take up; perform structural edit.
  • Send structural edit back
  • Receive line edits. Line edits deal with smaller matters, continuity and timeline. I’m timeline-blind so this stage often involves a lot of head scratching whilst wearing a grumpy expression – on my part, anyway. Probably it’s the same for the line editor.
  • Send line edits back.
  • Receive copy edits. Copy edits deal with punctuation, grammar and anything that hasn’t yet been picked up in another edit.
  • Send copy edits back.
  • Receive proofs. To proof a book I have to read the whole thing again and indicate any errors I see.
  • Send proofs back.
  • Write acknowledgments and any dedication.
  • Write any backmatter (bonus material) requested.
  • Breathe a great sigh of relief.
  • Start another book. This usually takes place betwixt and between the above tasks.

I can’t tell you in the same detail what the other side of the process is, carried out by the fab Avon team, but it will include the all-important cover (I LOVE the cover of One Summer in Italy), editing, scheduling, typesetting, promo, marketing and blurb writing. I’m involved in some of those areas too, mainly the promo.

Underpinning the process on both sides is respect, co-operation, negotiation, discussion, and a whole heck of a lot of emails!

But it’s worth it when this is what we end up with:

It_s time for Sophia to live her own life – and to fulfil the promises she made to her father Aldo.Montelibertà in Italy_s Umbrian mountains holds plenty of family secrets waitin

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How I created a town in Italy

 

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Arte Umbria

 

As it’s now only one week until One Summer in Italy is published I thought I’d write about the location.

I love to create settings for my novels, whether it’s a little English village or a town in another country. One Summer in Italy is set in Umbria, a verdant region of Italy, and there I built in my imagination a town called Montelibertà.

 

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Orvieto; looking towards the amazing cathedral, ‘Il Duomo’.

 

Where did Montelibertà come from? For the last several years I’ve been lucky enough to run writing courses or retreats for Arte Umbria. The venue is an old stone hunting lodge and it looks out over the rolling Apennines. Their terrace is one of my favourite places and I used it as the basis for Montelibertà, beginning with the view, which my hero, Levi Gunn, is in town to capture in watercolours.

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The building itself grew in my imagination to a small hotel called Casa Felice (Happy House), with a café in front of it – Il Giardino (The Garden, in case you hadn’t guessed). I had to work out how many rooms there would be, where the dining areas were, Reception, back offices, kitchens, even the utility yard. I added in a little marble to the stonework, because that’s what hotels often do.

And I had to create a town for Casa Felice to stand on the edges of. I seemed to have to know a lot about the town too – where the church is and what it looks like; what’s beyond Case Felice; where the cemetery is; the piazzas, the streets, even in which direction the slopes run. I made the town, Montelibertà, a smaller version of the wonderful medieval town of Orvieto, which is only a couple of trains stops, a funicular and a bus ride away. I’ve visited it several times when at Arte Umbria. I spent a wonderful day – and an entire phone-charge – taking photos in Orvieto. Then I took out my trusty big sketch pad and began on the map.

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Sorry it’s not a very good pic. I’ve never found the time to ink the map and tidy it up.

 

I even had to work out transport links, the nearest autostrade or motorway, the railways and the buses. My map is no work of art – slopes marked with the words ‘up’ or ‘down’ are functional rather than pretty – but it works for me. My library of photos from my various trips to Umbria have been mined throughout the writing of the book, so it’s all pretty clear in my mind.

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I called the town ‘Montelibertà’ as it’s set in the mountains and represents what Sofia is seeking when she travels there, her father’s home town – liberty. Does she find it? Welllllll … she finds a whole heck of a lot of things, most of them unexpected.

 

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Writing retreat, Arte Umbria 2017

 

If you’re interested in joining me on a writing retreat at Arte Umbria this summer (20-17 June 2018 or 27 June-4 July 2018) then you can read more about it on their website. You can also read earlier post, Did the Writing Retreat Work? here. (The answer is ‘yes’, by the way. I wrote almost a quarter of the first draft of One Summer in Italy in one week.

One Summer in Italy will hit portable devices or book shop and supermarket shelves near you on May 17 2018.

Promises, Secrets, Family

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#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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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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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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Things I didn’t know would happen to a novelist

It’s 21 years since I sold my first short story and 13 since I sold (or my then-agent sold) my first novel but I’m still surprised – even shocked – by certain aspects of being an author. As it’s only two weeks until my tenth novel, Just for the Holidays, hits shelves and e-readers, I thought I’d share some with you.

  • Fresh ideas can be hard to come by, not because too many people have written about them before – but because I have!
  • Likewise, character names. (If anyone ever wants to gather all my character names together in one document, please do let me know. I can help you achieve that ambition.)
  • People asking for my help. I’m afraid I have to disappoint a lot of people over this one. Please see ‘Time Pressure’ below.
  • People asking for charitable donations. I’m so sorry I can’t fulfil all of these requests. I try to give time as a speaker when I can but I’ve stopped donating signed books because over one-third of the donation goes straight to the Royal Mail in postage.
  • Time pressure. Writing to an agreed schedule is different to writing if and when I feel like it.
  • People telling me what I meant when I wrote something. It’s always interesting to hear these interpretations and compare them with my own thoughts on the subject. Sometimes I wish I had meant whatever it’s thought I meant because it makes me look brainier or more insightful than I am.
  • Lovely messages on social media. These are such a privilege. Seriously. They make my heart dance and sing.
  • People waiting for my next book. (Cue dancing, singing heart again.)
  • Being in magazines – just me, not even my books.
  • Needing patience when it comes to contracts and similar transactions. (Patience never has been my best thing.)
  • My characters getting fan mail of their own. (Isn’t that awesome?)
  • Occasionally needing a skin like a rhinoceros and a back like a duck. (You’re trying to draw this in your mind now, aren’t you?)
  • It being perfectly legitimate to spend working hours perusing magazines or watching TV for ideas or research. Ditto travel to other countries.
  • People actively wanting to help with research.
  • Team Sue Moorcroft, my street team, even existing. (You can read about – and even join – the street team here.)
  • Being taken out to lunch or sent gifts.
  • Summer scorchersBeing asked to talk about myself. Really. And if you want to join me at the next event it’s Bibliomaniac’s Summer Scorchers in Harpenden, along with fellow authors of summery bookery, Jane Lythell, T A Cotterell, Eva Jordan and Helen Cox.
  • Being asked to read other authors’ books and supply a quote. I can’t do all of these either, for a wide variety of reasons, but it’s lovely all the same and it makes me feel better about giving to my publisher the names of other authors who might quote for my books.
  • People wanting to receive my newsletter or share my posts.
  • Being able to go to parties, lunches, talks and conferences in the names of education and networking.
  • Being able to set my travel to/from events and cost of tickets and other relevant costs against tax.
  • Thinking of a lot of ideas for blog posts around the publication of a book.
  • The rush of excitement that accompanies publication.
  • The heady disbelief when a book surpasses my wildest dreams (like The Christmas Promise getting to #1. Sorry. I try and introduce this to the conversation whenever remotely possible.)
  • And receiving copies of my books, seeing the cover art and marketing plans.
  • People thinking they see themselves in my characters. I try never to let this happen but maybe it’s unconscious?
  • People saying they know where Middledip is. It’s on a big piece of paper in my study and that’s it, I’m afraid.
  • Doing exciting research. (Helicopters, travel abroad, meeting interesting people.)
  • Emails often being exciting.
  • People reading my blog.

If I’ve missed out anything you have on your list, please add it in the comments!

Just for the Holidays is to be released on 18th May 2017, or you can preorder it now.

What would you do to help your sis?

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Cover reveal!

Here it is! I’ve been dying to show you this for ages – the cover of Just for the Holidays.

 

 

JFTH Ebook cover

ebook cover of Just for the Holidays to be released on 18 May 2017 (Avon, HarperCollins)

I’m thrilled with such a stunning cover.

The paperback, which will be released on the same day as the ebook, will have lots of lovely purple foil and I can’t wait to have a copy in my hands! (For those of you who like audiobooks, it, too, will be released on 18 May 2017.)

 

Here’s the blurb:

The #1 bestselling author returns for summer! Grab your sun hat, a cool glass of wine, and the only book you need on holiday…

In theory, nothing could be better than a summer spent basking in the French sun. That is, until you add in three teenagers, two love interests, one divorcing couple, and a very unexpected pregnancy.

Admittedly, this isn’t exactly the relaxing holiday Leah Beaumont was hoping for – but it’s the one she’s got. With her sister Michele’s family falling apart at the seams, it’s up to Leah to pick up the pieces and try to hold them all together.

But with a handsome helicopter pilot staying next door, Leah can’t help but think she might have a few distractions of her own to deal with…

A glorious summer read, for you to devour in one sitting – perfect for fans of Katie Fforde, Carole Matthews and Trisha Ashley.

Whether your holidays plans this year will involve somewhere exotic or a ‘staycation’ at home, I think that Leah’s holiday will make your summer look better. You can already pre-order Just for the HolidaysGrab your sunscreen!

And for those of you who followed my adventures in a helicopter, it’s this book I was researching!

 

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The Laid-back Book Group discusses #TheChristmasPromise

When Tricia of The Laid-back Book Group contacted me to say that The Christmas Promise had been Featured Image -- 2969read by the group and was due to be discussed, I offered to reply to any questions. I found the result fun and interesting so I kindly asked if I could reproduce the discussion on my blog:

Tricia: My reading group met last Tuesday evening to discuss The Christmas Promise. Everyone really enjoyed it and loved the characters. They liked how you brought awareness to personal photos between couples landing on the internet.

Sue: I’m so glad that they all enjoyed The Christmas Promise! There are few things that give me more pleasure than people enjoying my books.

T: Here are a few questions and observations from our group:

The Laid-back Reading Group: How much research did you have to do for the online porn?

S: Unfortunately, it wasn’t hard to research revenge porn. There’s a huge number of online articles on the subject, a government campaign and case histories from victims in many parts of the world. I became angry on behalf of those victims and wanted to shine a light on the subject. I began with reputable and authoritative websites and let my research expand organically from there. Some of the case histories were harrowing: the mother whose 19-year-old daughter had killed herself in her humiliation; the documentary-maker who’d been told by the owner of such a site that he wasn’t in the business of making friends of women; ordinary people whose lives had been marred by online malice. What WAS difficult to research was the legal remedies available. When I began the book the UK had no specific law to counter revenge porn although there was a movement to create some, which the House of Lords dismissed. Then the House of Lords changed their mind between the book being bought and it being published so I had to rewrite! I wish they’d made up their minds the first time.

TLBRG: Alcohol has a negative presence in the story. Did you have to do any particular research about heavy drinking?

S: I’m not sure why alcohol was shown in a fairly negative light in the book as I enjoy alcohol and don’t have a personal drum to beat. Of course, people do act stupidly when they drink too much and that’s particularly highlighted by the Christmas festivities. Truly, over-consumption of alcohol just suited this particular plot and was credible with the Christmas background.

TLBRG: Why did you give Izz such a hard time? Making her part of the upload was completely out of character, even if drunk.

S: Things did go a bit awry for Izz, didn’t they? I’m quite glad if it appeared out of character for Izz as the point I was making is that alcohol does make some people act out of character. I think it’s clear that Izz never meant to do what she did. She was showing off her techie knowledge to Patrick and they completed the upload without thinking of the consequences.

TLBRG: Faux dating – Have you checked the urban dictionary definition? They felt they should make you aware of what it says.

S: No, I hadn’t checked the Urban Dictionary and simply made the term ‘faux dating’ up. Now I do check I see the UD’s definition is when a man pays for dinner and gets no sexual reward. I’m not too worried by that, although my reactions are: a woman should expect to pay her way on any date, partly because why the hell shouldn’t she? and partly to avoid any expectation that she should be intimate in exchange for food. You’ll remember that the subject of financing dates is a theme of The Christmas Promise and Ava has strong feelings on the subject. I garnered opinion from men and women in their thirties on social and in person on this subject. Dating etiquette is fascinating!

TLBRG: P.61 – searching tongues – one member said ‘Tongues really? – Was this necessary?’ and felt this shouldn’t have come until much later.

S: The heat level of a book does provoke a wide range of reactions from readers. How we conduct ourselves in intimate circumstances is so personal that when we read something that jars it can feel uncomfortable. I do understand this but I don’t know a one-size-fits-all solution. Personally, I don’t feel that tongue being involved in a Christmas kiss is unlikely or outrageous.

Many thanks to Tricia and the members of The Laid-back Book Group! It’s been great chatting with you.

the-laid-back-book-group

 

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What happened to me this Christmas

Christmas is supposed to be a time of magic and, this year, for me, it was.

The Christmas Promise hit the UK Kindle #1 spot!tcp-1-web

A friend messaged to ask if I’d seen my Amazon ranking. I had, and I’d been at #2, so I chatted on that basis.  Then I saw my new ranking and a Tweet from my lovely editor, Helen, and the storm of joy broke all over my social media accounts. Eventually, I went back to my friend and said ‘And now it’s at #1!!!’ and she said ‘That’s what I was trying to tell you!’
It was a euphoric experience, which, if you were around on social media that morning, you may have noticed! Joy, shock and disbelief turned me into a jelly. I was in the lovely situation of having exceeded even my most optimistic expectations and floating somewhere above Cloud Nine. There were actual tears of joy, I promise you. And, later, champagne!
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I’d also like to share with you my gift from my brother, presented on behalf of our mum, who died in March. He had an ‘Oscar’ made. Inscribed on the plinth is:
Best selling No. 1 author
Sue Moorcroft
oscar-2We all got choked up so I couldn’t make an ‘Oscar-winner’s speech’ but we hugged very hard.
I’m not choked up now so here goes:
Thank you to everyone who bought The Christmas Promise, either for yourself or to give as a gift. Thank you for every one of the many wonderful reviews, whether online or in print, review site or national media. Thank you to everyone who supported the promo campaign, including the wonderful members of Team Sue Moorcroft. Thank you to all the retailers who supported the paperback with wonderful chart and shelf positions. Thank you to my agent, Juliet Pickering, for knowing Avon HarperCollins would be a good publisher for me and thank you to Helen, and everybody at Avon, who worked so hard and successfully to make the book a success.
Thank you, family, for sharing my joy.
And now I’d better get on with the copy edits of the next book, Just for the Holidays. May’s not that far away.

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Champagne? Or black gunge on the washing machine?

sues-invite-3-bannerSomebody once told me that being an author meant drinking champagne with your publishers one day and cleaning black gunge out of your washing machine next.

I had my own taste of that this week with my launch party on Thursday and housework today!

Let’s focus on the fun stuff. Thursday’s launch party for The Christmas Promise was amazing. I’m going to use this post mainly to share photos with you.

I was amazed and thrilled how many people turned up to support me, buying ALL the books in stock and leaving orders with the store for more. Members of Team Sue Moorcroft,  bloggers, readers, family, and friends from as far back as my primary school. Authors, mainly from the RNA, came out in force.

Ava from The Christmas Promise is a milliner and Abigail Crampton, who had made the millinery research very easy for me, made my beautiful cocktail hat especially for the evening. Here we go with the pics!

book-launch-the-christmas-promise

book-launch-the-christmas-promise-11And for those who are interested in how I cleaned the black gunge from the washing machine, I chose a steam cleaner and and an old toothbrush.

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