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Just for the Holidays: Sue Moorcroft 5⭐️

The first review is in for ‘Just for the Holidays’ and it’s five stars! Thank you Jenny O’Brien!

Jenny O'Brien

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Book Blurb

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…

Book Review

I loved The Christmas Promise (what wasn’t to love) so when I spotted Sue had written another and something set in France it was a sure fired bet I was going to be quick off the mark in adding it to my…

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Putting the ‘commercial’ into commercial fiction

I’m reblogging Jenny Harper’s thoughts on the difference between commercial fiction and literary fiction. This post first appeared on Take Five Authors, a group blog of which Jenny and I are part.

Take Five Authors

Take two novels: each has lively, interesting characters, each is well written. Each has a theme – let’s say, a love triangle. Each explores the strengths and weaknesses, desires and motivations of the main characters. Yet one is described as ‘literary’, the other as ‘commercial’.

What underpins that distinction?

A year or so ago, a friend urged me to read Jonathan Franzen’s hugely lauded book, Freedom, which I listened to on audio. It was, at heart, about a love triangle. It was very long, extremely well written in the sense that the prose was admirable and his exploration of character profound, yet it seemed to me to amble through various people’s lives and come to no very interesting conclusion. I enjoyed it, but I didn’t either like or care about any of the characters and at the end of the book I was left thinking, ‘Why?’.

Read a great thriller, action…

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Write quickly, edit sloooooowly – update

In February I posted Write quickly, edit sloooooowly, a blog about techniques I was trying in order to get my first draft down. You can read it here.

Now I’m revisiting the subject as I’ve worked on the second part – editing slowly.

Here are my findings:

  • My self-imposed deadline for the first draft was March 1. Did I hit it? Yes.
  • I’d hoped that the second draft would be done ‘in a few weeks’. Was it? Yes, pretty much. I sent it to my agent yesterday (4 April). My deadline to send the ms to my editor is 18 April so I’m on course.
  • I expected my second draft to take more time than usual. I’m not sure that it did.
  • My first draft contained more words than usual: over 103,000. This was a worry but, as it turned out, I cut  9,000 words during the second draft without breaking into a sweat. Some of these words would have been cut out under my old strategy of editing the previous writing session firmly before going on with the present session.
  • Having completed the second draft I feel a bit sick of it. Pleased with some parts, convinced others don’t work AT ALL, and that I’ve got this relationship COMPLETELY WRONG and that relationship NOT AT ALL CREDIBLE. This is exactly how I always feel at this stage.
  • I kept a greater number of notes and a more detailed timeline. I don’t feel the time was wasted. The second draft profited from it and I think it saved me time.
  • Knowing that during the second draft I would have to cut a thread that didn’t work did prey on my mind a bit. In the past, I would have gone back as soon as I realised it needed doing and made what I’d written so far work before going forward. This is the part of the process I’m probably least secure about. Time will tell (or my editorial notes will tell) whether I’ve done an OK job or not.

At this point, I do believe that writing quickly and leaving more to the second draft has worked, so the ‘edit slowly’ part might have been unduly pessimistic. This bodes well for my tight publishing schedule.

Will I try the ‘write quickly’ technique again? Absolutely! I’m a convert.

(At least until I get those first editorial notes …)Write quickly-

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Bad Train Behaviour is not OK

My home’s only an hour out of London by train, which I visit regularly both for business and pleasure.

I suppose we all have our ‘train behaviour’ pet peeves. I’m irritated by the seat partner who not only takes over the central arm rest but overshoots it to intrude into my space. Or the passenger who watches a movie on a device and doesn’t bother with ear buds, so I’m subjected to the soundtrack whether I like it or not. But these pale into insignificance in comparison to noisy, aggressive drunks.

In my view, being a noisy, aggressive drunk is not OK. And it doesn’t make it OK if the noisy drunks are mature men wearing expensive-looking suits with First Class tickets.

Here’s a message to the mature men wearing expensive-looking suits in First Class on the 8pm out of St. Pancras on Thursday 16th March from the woman travelling alone who got up and changed carriages to avoid you.

It wasn’t OK that you crashed around the carriage bellowing and laughing, that when a fellow passenger asked you to consider others you rounded on him collectively and aggressively and showed him with cold clarity that it was a fight he could only lose. It wasn’t OK that you bought more alcohol from the buffet – your journey to Bedford was only 40 minutes’ long! It wasn’t OK when you whipped yourselves up to fresh anger over being asked to quieten down, making audible intimidating remarks. It wasn’t OK that you used obscene language so loudly that even when I put my earbuds on and listened to Green Day I could still hear you.

After I’d gathered up my coat and suitcase and moved to the next carriage I did complain to the train manager about you. He was great. Other passengers had complained and he’d spoken to you about your boorish behaviour. He spoke to you again and returned to my new location several times to reassure me.

But, mature men wearing expensive-looking suits in First Class on the 8pm out of St. Pancras on Thursday 16th March, it’s not that I was scared of you. You were just unpleasant to be near and I objected to being subjected to your obnoxiousness. I’d had a busy four days in London and I wanted to read for an hour, not have to listen to your inane braying and self-important posturing or feel unsettled by your anger.

I don’t suppose you’ll read this. You might not recognise yourselves if you do. You probably think your behaviour was OK.

But it wasn’t. You need to have a word with yourself. (A quiet one.)

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Write quickly, edit sloooooowly

A few weeks ago, I realised that I had a self-imposed deadline coming up. I looked at my diary and saw six days in Dubai at the Emirates Airline Festival of Literature fairly quickly followed by four or five days in London. As I was moving into the last third of my work-in-progress, currently entitled Makeover at the Angel Café, I could see a problem looming. If I didn’t finish my first draft the time I left for Dubai then by the time I arrived back at my desk for the second half of March, my memory would have been wiped.

Picking up all the threads in order to finish the first draft would have been impossible. I’d have to go back to the beginning and edit my way through until I could gather my thoughts again. This did not appeal.

I don’t think I’m a particularly fast writer. I find the first draft takes a lot of thought, of toing and froing while I tweak plotlines and characters. But this time I was determined to reach the finish line by 1 March. If I didn’t, I could see myself being put back at least a month in my busy publishing schedule.

I decided to adopt the practice of writing quickly and editing slowly. It sort of goes against my usual MO but I thought it was worth a try. Here are my strategies:

  • Abandon the technique of writing myself into each session by editing the words written the day before. It takes time and I am going to edit those words again in the second draft.
  • file-17-02-2017-08-32-33Instead, at the end of a writing session, write a few notes in my ms about What Happens Next, so I don’t lose my flow when I come back to the book.
  • When I have my middle-of-the-evening thoughts about my ms, type them into my phone and email them to myself so I can add the good ones to my ms the next morning.
  • Accept there will be a greater number of ugly sentences and redundancies than usual when I reach the second draft. But my second draft is always for giving my WIP a rigorous shake up, so that’s fine.
  • Reduce the opportunity for interruptions. This meant reducing my time on social media.
  • Use the pockets of time I’d normally spend on social media to do small jobs (such as updating my blog).
  • Work smart. For me, this has meant: making notes when I think of things that need to be changed in what I’ve written so far, rather than going back and changing them;
  • file-17-02-2017-08-32-09and keeping a more detailed timeline than usual. On the face of it, this might seem like more work, but it saves me a lot of time when the information I might be hunting through my ms for is right there in my sprawly crawly handwriting.
  • file-17-02-2017-08-21-20Roughly – very roughly – work out the ending to my book, expressing it as plot points on sticky notes and getting them (roughly, very roughly) in the correct order.
  • Write almost every day. I know I can’t do this forever. If I don’t go out and enjoy the world, what am I to write about? But it’s fine for, say, a month, to write 6 or 7 days a week and it keeps my head more thoroughly in my storyline.

The second draft, of course, will be vital, to incorporate those notes and sort out continuity errors as well as the ugly sentences etc.

By the beginning of March, I should be able to tell you that the first draft is done. A few weeks later I hope the second will be, too …

Watch this space.

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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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Audiobook: The Christmas Promise by Sue Moorcroft

Audio books are a growing market and the voice of the actor is part of a book’s success. This is a lovely review of the audio version of ‘The Christmas Promise’ and I’m reblogging it because it illustrates the importance of the narrator’s voice.

splashesintobooks

“Modern issues dealt with in a festive romance”

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Overall 5*
Performance 5*
Story 5*

I just didn’t want to switch this audiobook off. A superbly crafted story complemented so well by Laura Kirman’s use of different ‘voices’ for the characters and her expressive reading of the story bring it to life, make a fantastic listen.

What was one of the most memorable moments of The Christmas Promise?

The comparisons of how Ava is treated by her bullying, drunk and threatening ex-boyfriend contrasts dramatically with the usually more supportive reactions of Sam Jermyn, though he, too, has his moments! All the moments with Sam’s Mum, as she endeavours to enjoy the festive break recovering from major surgery before starting chemotherapy are also very moving and memorable.

What does Laura Kirman bring to the story that you wouldn’t experience if you had only read the book?

Laura Kirman uses changes in pace…

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The Christmas Promise by Sue Moorcroft @SueMoorcroft #FridayReads #ContemporaryFiction

Let’s round off 2016 with this lovely positive review for The Christmas Promise from Cathy Ryan on Between the Lines! I’ve been thrilled by the reaction to The Christmas Promise – a Kindle #1 for goodness sake! Talk about wildest dreams! – and thank you, Cathy, for understanding so well what I wanted to achieve with Ava and Sam.

BetweenTheLines

  • 32227415Author: Sue Moorcroft
  • Published: December 2016 by Avon
  • Category: Contemporary, Romance
  • four-half-stars

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. Sparks fly, and not necessarily the good ones.

Ava Bliss is struggling to scrape a living from her bespoke hat making business and, although she shares a house with her best friend Izzy, finding the rent is becoming a real worry. Her dreams of running a successful high-end millinery business are fading fast and to top it all it’s Christmas, Ava’s least favourite time of the year. Money troubles are not the only problems for Ava. Her ex boyfriend is harassing her and threatening to make public some photos Ava deeply regrets agreeing to.

There’s one upside though – Sam Jermyn commissions her to make a hat for his mother, Wendy…

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Catching up with Sue Moorcroft!

I was asked by lovely Valerie Holmes to update an interview I did on her blog in 2014. Here’s the result. I’m genuinely amazed at how much has changed in two years!

valerie holmes, author

15044728_1345143528830561_1521520340_oIt has been exciting to catch up with Sue Moorcroft to see all that has happened in her career since I interviewed her back in September 2014.

Hi Sue and welcome back! I know that 2016 has proved to be an exciting year for you, so tell us how much has changed.

This is an interesting idea – to be asked to update an old interview! I’m genuinely surprised by how much has happened in a little over two years and really thrilled that so much of what I was just beginning to work towards in 2014 has come to pass.

I had to look at my life and make some decisions. I wasn’t getting where I wanted to be writing-wise and I felt under tremendous time-pressures. I examined everything I did under three headings:
– What makes me happy/unhappy
– What’s good for me/bad for me
– What…

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The Christmas Promise – Sue Moorcroft

Thanks to Sophie Newton for this wonderful review of The Christmas Promise!

Sophie Newton

9780008175528.jpeg.pngDon’t let the title pull the mistletoe over your eyes with this one – this novel will have you gripped from start to finish and you’ll be laughing until you’re crying – literally.  The author makes you feel as if you know the main characters of Sam and Ava and of their warmth, love and passion for one another.

The Christmas Promise is also a novel with deep, relatable meaning of how Ava, a milliner, manages to deal with abusive bullying from her ex-boyfriend with the tedious financial issues of day to day life.  You cannot help but feel for Ava, she is so well described in every aspect of the novel, drawing you in to her; you want to be both her friend and her mother, to console her when things go wrong, and to cover your eyes when things go right! Sam has a kind hearted…

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