Category Archives: The Christmas Promise

I Love Dubai! #DubaiLitFest

I accepted an invitation to work at the Emirates Airline Festival of Literature in Dubai without any preconceptions about the country. My itinerary was clear enough – a panel on contemporary women’s fiction, a couple of receptions and outings and three days teaching. With flight times of around seven hours, it was a busy schedule.

But I still had time to fall in love with Dubai.

Dubai marina Sue 2 smallThe landmark style of architecture entranced me. The sunshine was welcome and 25-27c was perfect for me. During my 7-day trip, I don’t think a single person was rude to me, everyone was warm and friendly, I didn’t see a single piece of litter or graffiti. I felt very comfortable and safe.

Dubai’s considered a global crossroads and I can see how it earned that title. It seems that every culture and religion is represented in its populace and, from what I saw, coexisting peacefully. I so wish the rest of the world exhibited the same tolerance as I witnessed in Dubai.

My first evening saw a welcome reception, which included such luminaries as Alan Titchmarsh. Everybody who worked for the Festival was warm and welcoming. They gave me food and wine, so I was happy.

Festival City smallI spent the next morning walking in the sunshine and enjoying the shore of Festival City. There’s a lot of construction in this new area but still plenty to see and enjoy. I didn’t go into the massive mall next door. Honestly. Not then …

Contemp Fic panel, April, Nadya smallIn the afternoon I was part of the Contemporary Fiction panel with April Hardy, who was launching her new book, Kind Hearts and Coriander (very good – I can recommend it) and Nadiya Hussain. Most people know for Nadiya for her triumphant win of the Great British Bake Off but she also writes for children and adults. Her views on writing collaboratively were fascinating.

The hour shot by as our panel, beautifully chaired by journalist Brandy Scott, discussed our work and whether we felt we needed the word ‘women’ in Women’s Contemporary Fiction. The audience were engaged and supplied plenty of questions for the Q&A, laughing in all the right places. A well-organised book signing followed, which was huge fun. Everyone was so willing to chat and, you know, I’m not backward in that department myself.

Saturday was my day off and Diala, a friend I’d made on Facebook, took me out to Jumeira Beach and Dubai Mall.

Jumeira Beach skyscrapers small

Dubai marina Sue 2 small

Jumeira Beach camel small

Dubai Mall small

 

And then came the Start Up Writing course, three days with a group of ten enthusiastic participants. We covered … well, we covered everything, more even than I’d allowed for as the questions poured in during every session.

My teaching was interspersed with sessions from agents, editors and other industry professionals (during which I think I took as many notes as the students). My thanks to editor Charlie Scott of local publisher Motivate, as Charlie came into my room to talk for twenty minutes to my students about opportunities for writers in the Middle East.

Dinner at the Etihad MuseumWe rounded out my part of the Festival with an open-air dinner at the Etihad Museum, listening to honoured guests speaking about what Dubai meant to them. Moving and inspirational.

I’d like to end this post with extending thanks to Yvette Judge and her fantastic team at the Festival, along with the sponsors who make the event possible.

Thank you to my fantastic students.

And some to those who extended the hand of friendship to me during my stay, especially April and Andrew Hardy, Sharmila, Al, Ronita and Monita Mohan, Dial Atat and Ruba Naseraldeen.

Also to Magrudy’s bookshop, which did such a fantastic job all festival long.Sue Magrudy's books small

 

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Filed under Emirates Airline Festival of Literature, Teaching, The Christmas Promise

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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Filed under Avon Books UK, Book group, christmas, ebook, hats, millinery, Paperback, The Christmas Promise, Uncategorized

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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Filed under Avon Books UK, christmas, ebook, Juliet Pickering, Paperback, Team Sue Moorcroft, The Christmas Promise

Wishing you the best Christmas you can have

Merry Christmas and a Happy New Year!

Whatever you do over the next few days I hope that it makes you happy and that it involves loved ones (and maybe lovely food and drink).

If your circumstances are such that this Christmas is not such a happy one for you, my thoughts are with you. Big hugs.

I consider myself incredibly lucky to have ended 2016 on a huge high when The Christmas Promise spent around three weeks in the Kindle top ten, five days of which were at number one! It was a dream come true for me and I want to thank every person who bought my book to put it in that amazing position. THANK YOU!

tcp-ecard-merry-chr

 

 

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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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Filed under Book bloggers, hats, Launch, millinery, Paperback, Romantic Novelists' Association, Team Sue Moorcroft, The Christmas Promise

What happens on publication day?

It’s really not like me to blog on two consecutive days – but then it has been a while since I’ve had a publication day so I’m making the most of this one.

the-christmas-promiseThe Christmas Promise is released in ebook form today and here’s how this morning has gone.
sues-promise-tigger

I thought that having done a lot of work on Ebook Publication Day’s Eve, scheduling in Tweets to play out over the day and asking people to share their promises on social media using the hashtag #MyPromise, I’d get a nice measured start to Ebook Publication Day. This would have worked … if I hadn’t had to begin the day as I ended yesterday – wrestling with my newsletter software!

It doesn’t usually matter which day a newsletter goes out but on this occasion I’d run a campaign to get newsletter sign ups, #MyPromise being a competition to win a signed proof copy of The Christmas Promise. And the competition was supposed to run today, 6 October, Ebook Publication Day. I finally got the newsletter out – maybe the swearing did the trick – and turned my attention to Twitter. Twitter kept me busy till lunch time!

Lots of people were retweeting this fabulous review from Anne Williams on Being Anne, kicking off the blog tour; others were sharing their promises or pictures of themselves in hats. And some were showing their credentials as just lovely people by wishing me a Happy Publication Day.

screen-shot-2016-10-06-at-10-57-21 The big excitement of the morning was when #TheChristmasPromise trended for a couple of hours on Twitter!

Then people began to Tweet to tell me I was trending. My editor and agent both emailed congratulations and my little fingers flew over the keyboard trying to keep up with everyone’s lovely messages.

Finally, the book arrived on my e-reader – I’d kind of forgotten that I’d ordered it so it gave me a peculiar little thrill to see it download and learn from social media that lot of people were experiencing the same thing.

I’m going back to my social media accounts now but thank you to everybody who has supported me with messages, shares, promises or pics, today.

And, most especially, thank you to the readers who buy the book.

tcp-on-kindle

 

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Filed under Avon Books UK, Book bloggers, ebook, Launch, publication day, The Christmas Promise

Hattiness is a state of mind

Since I decided to give Ava Bliss in The Christmas Promise the career of milliner I’ve taken a lot more interest in hats. Before I go further, here’s a quick summary of terms:

hat-vocab

But, basically, Ava makes hats for people, to order, by hand. Abigail Crampton of Abigail Crampton Millinery was my research source and now she’s making a couture hat for me! A cocktail hat, very evening-y and gorgeous. I’ve had the first consultation and on Tuesday I’m visiting her studio again for a fitting. (Pause for excited shiver.) I had a wonderful time trying on Abigail’s sample hats and choosing colour, fabric, shape and decoration. I can’t wait to see the next step!

Meanwhile, the fab team at Avon Books UK sent out lots of fun DIY hat-making kits and here’s what I came up with from mine:

hat-homemade-small

I can see your looks of astonished admiration from here! 🙂 (If I squint a lot.)

Tomorrow (6 October) is ebook publication day, which is mahoosively thrilling. (Trying to find synonyms for exciting.) Oh, go on then, I’ll remind you what the ebook cover looks like:

the-christmas-promise

The paperback and audio book will be published on the 1st December but don’t forget that you have one exclusive opportunity to grab the paperback well ahead of publication at a special event in Nottingham:

sues-invite-3-banner

Stock has been released to this store for this special event so why not come along and help me launch the book? I’ll be happy to sign all books purchased, of course! (A signed book makes a lovely Christmas present.) NB I will be wearing the hat Abigail makes me to the launch rather than the one I made myself …

Huge thanks to all the lovely readers who have already ordered The Christmas Promise.

If you’d like to buy, too, you can choose your favourite platform here.

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Filed under Avon Books UK, Cover, ebook, hats, Launch, millinery, Paperback, Preorder, publication day, The Christmas Promise

Invitation to the launch of THE CHRISTMAS PROMISE!

sues-invite-3-banner

Join me in launching The Christmas Promise! Come and enjoy the party and even grab a copy of the book ahead of paperback release (a signed book makes a great Christmas pressie!). The Sillitoe Room is up at the top of Nottingham’s flagship Waterstones store, looking out over the rooftops and I’d love to see you there.

Tickets:  £3, redeemable against purchase of the book.

Email events.nottingham@waterstones.com, telephone 0115 9470069 or drop in at the store.

TCP proof backcover

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Filed under Avon Books UK, Cover, Launch, The Christmas Promise

Ten things about me you may or may not know

It seems like forever since I originated a post for my own blog. I’ve reblogged a couple of things but haven’t managed a new post. Here’s my list of excuses:

  • imageSummer is my busy time as I’ve led courses in Italy (Arte Umbria), Derby (Swanwick) and Devon (Fiction on the Taw). A fact about running courses is that there’s a lot of behind-the-scenes work, not just preparing the course but being in contact with organisers for admin reasons and perhaps reading work of the participants.
  • 2016-08-09 16.05.48

    Proof copies of The Christmas Promise have arrived!

    The Christmas Promise approached production and I had proofs to check bonus material to write  and promo ideas to talk over. One of the many lovely aspects of being an author.

  • I also took a holiday in my beloved Malta. I had beer to drink and sunshine to enjoy. That took two weeks.
  • I received a lovely invitation to write a two-part story for My Weekly to go in their Christmas issues (3 and 10 December. Look out for that story because you can win a free book!).
  • Throw in the RNA’s conference in the middle of that lot and you begin to get the picture.

Now I’ve realised how much I’ve neglected my blog I can’t really think what to write about! Whenever I’m asked to guest on someone else’s blog I can think of a subject but for my own blog? I’ve come up blank. So, in place of a proper post, here are ten things about me you may or may not know.

  1. My parents were both in the army. My mum originally outranked my dad and he got in trouble for talking to her with his hands in his pockets. He only rose higher than her when she left the army.
  2. I can’t ride a bike no-handed.
  3. I have no tattoos but five piercings.
  4. Chocolate is my favourite food group.
  5. My Saturday job when a teenager was in a butcher’s shop.
  6. I can do the ‘waterfall’ with a pack of cards.
  7. I find it hard to join in conversations about TV because I watch so little.
  8. But I know a lot about Formula 1.
  9. I’m incredibly thankful for good friends.
  10. I try only to read books I love. Life’s too short for those I’m told I ‘should’ read.

Blogpost done! 🙂

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Filed under Arte Umbria, Avon Books UK, Courses, Cover, Fiction on the Taw, Preorder, Romantic Novelists' Association, Swanwick Writers' Summer School, Teaching, The Christmas Promise

Tan tan tarrah! Cover reveal!

 

Here’s the cover of The Christmas Promise! I’ve been adoring it in private for some weeks, now, but, finally, I can reveal it in all its beauty.

Christmas Promise final cover web

Ebook: 6 October 2016. Paperback: 1 December.

I always get excited over a cover, even though it’s the part of the book I hardly influence. Or maybe because it’s the part of the book I hardly influence.

I know that skilled people at Avon Books UK have been painstakingly putting together the ingredients that they, with their experience, consider will best serve my work and sell my novel. They have intimate knowledge of the market and the readership – i.e. what fiction buyers will stock and what readers will pick up from the shelf. The cover even impacts on which shelves in which retailers the book will reside. I’m thrilled to have them working on my behalf.

TCP pb proof

‘Wet proof’ (which isn’t wet)

Here’s the ‘wet proof’ that has been sitting on my desk for me to sigh happily over. Lots of bling! And the title font now being gold, the paperback’s going to truly sparkle.

TCP proof backcover

Back cover

For the sake of completeness, here’s the back cover, too. (If it looks a slightly different colour on your screen that’s because it’s a scan rather than a JPEG, I think.)

The back cover blurb’s also written by an expert in the job. In case you’re having to squint a bit to read it, here it is:

For Ava Bliss, it’s going to be a Christmas to remember…

On a snowy December evening, Sam Jermyn steps into the life of bespoke hat maker Ava Blissham. Sparks fly, and not necessarily good ones.

Times are tough for Ava – she’s struggling to make ends meet, her ex-boyfriend is a bully, and worst of all, it’s nearly Christmas.

 So when Sam commissions Ava to make a hat for someone special, she makes a promise that will change her life.

 She just doesn’t know it yet…

Thanks to Avon Books UK on doing such a fab job on the cover of The Christmas Promise. (And, if you wish, you can preorder the book here.)

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Filed under Avon Books UK, Cover, Cover reveal, Preorder, The Christmas Promise