Sharing with you the excitement of launch week

I wrote this post for Take Five Authors. It’s been an exciting week!

Take Five Authors

Hello!

Helen with JFTH RNA Summer P Editor Helen Huthwaite from Avon Books UK with JFTH at the RNA Summer Party on publication day

After a saturated end to last week in Northamptonshire, when I was soaked to the skin dashing through Northampton to get to BBC Radio Northampton for my interview on the Bernie Keith Show, by Monday summer had arrived! Before my BBC Radio Cambridgeshire spot with Jeremy Sallis I was able to sit outside at a nearby pub to eat my lunch. (I only drank water and tea, honestly.) It was glorious!

The week has continued in the same vein. Yesterday I met friends in London and then went on to Romance in the Court, hosted by Goldsboro Books of Cecil Court. Standing outside the shop, drinking fizz and chatting to many author friends plus quite a few readers, it felt as if we were in the Mediterranean. (I had a chocolate brownie…

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Interview with Sue Moorcroft

An interview reblogged from Chellsandbooks. Thanks for inviting me to chat, Chells!

Chellsandbooks

Interview

Sue Moorcroft has very kindly agreed to appear on my blog and has agreed to an interview. First I would like to say thank you Sue.

Best-selling author Sue Moorcroft writes contemporary fiction with occasionally unexpected themes. The Christmas Promise rose to #1 in the Amazon Kindle chart; The Wedding Proposal, Dream a Little Dream and Is this Love? were all nominated for Readers’ Best Romantic Read Awards and Darcie’s Dilemma for Readers’ Best Short Romance. Love & Freedom won the Best Romantic Read Award 2011 and Dream a Little Dream was nominated for a RoNA in 2013. Sue’s a Katie Fforde Bursary Award winner, a past vice chair of the RNA and editor of its two anthologies.

Sue also writes short stories, serials, articles and writing ‘how to’.

Sue’s next book: Just for the Holidays

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Here is our interview. I hope you enjoy reading this as much…

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Just for the Holidays by Sue Moorcroft

‘ … sometimes I thought I knew what would happen but what actually happens is so much better’ EXACTLY what I aim for! Great review from Chells and Books.

Chellsandbooks

16Pre-published review

Title: Just for the Holiday

Author: Sue Moorcroft

Blurb: Summer in the south of France. Think long, lazy lunches, endless days stretched out by the pool, and carafes of wine on tap. Perfect, unless you have the world’s most troublesome family…

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…

Publisher: Avon

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Hooray! Publication Day!

IMG_2120Waiting for publication day is a bit like waiting for my birthday when I was a kid. The last few days seem to go slowly and I’m filled with that ‘Can’t wait!’ feeling. Mixed in, though, is a nagging worry that nobody will come to my party.

As it happens, there’s not an actual launch party for Just for the Holidays as, with magnificent timing, the Romantic Novelists’ Association has chosen 18th of May for its Summer Party so I’ll be there this evening. There will be plenty of people to raise a glass with (but nobody to sell the book!).

But, anyway, publication day is HERE, finally, and I can watchJust for the Holidays, my latest book baby, set out into the world. And check my Amazon rankings obsessively and look for the paperback in bookshops and supermarkets. And go on the radio, and have lunch with my agent, and hang out on social media a lot.

Just for the Holidays …

Set: Mainly in France, the gorgeous and individual Alsace region. The action comes back to the UK for the final chapters.

About: Leah, who has avoided having a husband and children, ending up looking after her sister’s husband and children. Luckily, there’s a grounded helicopter next door, Ronan, who helps her with the language barrier and decoding the mysterious ways of teenagers. Things look pretty promising between Leah and Ronan until he receives an unexpected and unwanted guest.

Leah’s job: Chocolate taster. Yes, seriously, this is a job. It is! It is! I Googled ‘cool jobs’ and this came at the top.

Favourite research: Being taken up in a helicopter for a pretend crash. However, four days in Alsace and experiencing what the region has to offer (Cremant d’Alsace being a favourite) comes only a hair’s breadth behind.

Happy reading!

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What is a blog tour and how do I get one?

JFTH Blog tourI’ve been asked for my tips on creating blog tours. I’ve been doing them for some time so tend to forget they were ever a mystery to me, and I’ve usually had the luxury of someone else doing a lot of the work! But here we go:

You can see from this lovely graphic created for me by my publisher, Avon Books UK, that Just for the Holidays has a two-week tour. Team Avon has a lot of experience so let’s work with that timescale (although I have also found my own opportunities for additional guest posts for blogs such as Mark West’s Strange Tales, Booktrail, French Village Diaries, and TripFiction). We’re talking about 14 posts but you don’t necessarily have to write a guest post for all of them. See ‘What will the author have to do’, below.

Where will authors find bloggers to host the posts?

  • Social media. Facebook is particularly good because there are groups that exist specifically to bring authors and bloggers together. Twitter works too. Just post that you’re putting a blog tour together, say a few words in terms of genre and blurb and ask whether any book bloggers would be interested in hosting you.
  • If you already have relationships with book bloggers, contact them directly and ask if they’d be interested in being part of your tour.
  • Blogger/author meet-ups. Personal relationships between authors and bloggers are not only fun and stimulating, they’re useful.
  • Sometimes bloggers offer, especially if they like any previous books you’ve had published. Being approached is a bonus!
  • Pay for someone to run a blog tour for you. There are various people who provide author services and will put together something professional, useful, functional and appropriate (i.e. the correct book bloggers for your book). You can search for them on the internet but it would be reassuring to have a recommendation from another writer.

What will the author have to do?

  • Plan the tour: blogger A on date 1, blogger B on date 2 etc. (I alway think you need to be good at doing sudoku.)
  • Either provide advance copies of the book or get your publisher to do so, in time for it to be read ahead of the tour.
  • A stop on one of my blog tours would typically comprise of a post from me OR an excerpt from the book OR a competition to win a copy of the book PLUS, in each case, a review from the blogger, but some bloggers are happy to simply provide a review, on its own. NB If the blogger has offered, I think they’d probably expect a post from you.
  • Provide whatever else the book blogger needs: cover art, blurb, buy links, other pix, to fulfil the competition if there is one, i.e. send the book to the winner of the comp.IMG_2120
  • Create a book tour graphic and send it to everyone on the blog tour with a request that they include it in the post.
  • Say thank you. The author-blogger relationship is one of working together. If the blog tour is a success the author will get more out of it than the book blogger.
  • Promote every stop of the blog tour on your social media outlets, remembering to tag the book blogger in question. The blogger will do the same and, if you’re lucky, all the book blogger’s book blogger friends will share the posts too.
  • If you have a blog of your own it makes sense to run the blog tour graphic on it (as I am doing with this post!) and, if it works for the style of your blog, reblog some or all the blog posts on the blog tour. It’s blog etiquette to link the URL of any blog you name – as I have done in the second paragraph of this post.

Good luck! And don’t forget to ask each book blogger to post their review on online review sites such as Amazon and Goodreads.

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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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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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Is there a right way to write?

I don’t think so. If you want to write hanging upside down from a lamppost with an Etch-a-sketch, you go right ahead. (If you do write hanging upside down from a lamppost with an Etch-a-sketch, please get someone to take a pic and post it on social media so I can see how it’s done.)

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Some of us plot roughly, some plot minutely, some don’t plot at all and ‘write by the seat of their pants’, therefore winning themselves the title of ‘pantsers’. I make use of notes, timelines and mind maps and others say this would drive them demented.file-17-02-2017-08-32-09

 

 

 

 

I like to write in silence. This, in the not too distant future, is going to earn me an office at the bottom of the garden so my silence doesn’t disturb anyone else’s noise. If I don’t have silence I play music. Sometimes it’s classical but I also have an ever-growing and eclectic writing playlist consisting of Pink Floyd, Damien Rice, Jimmy Nail, Neil Young, Rod Stewart, Billy Joel, Eddie Vedder, David Bowie, Mark Knopfler, Leonard Cohen, Harry Nilsson, Carole Bayer Sager and Cat Stevens. It’s what I think of as ‘in the zone’ music and I have an almost Pavlovian response to hearing it … it’s time to work. My friend Elizabeth Chadwick writes with heavy metal music playing and constructs a different playlist for every book. Some people write in cafés or at work during lunch, with the children running laps of the kitchen or while the TV’s on at night. Some say silence would agitate them.

I think you should write in the way that’s right for you – but I do suggest that you try other ways from time to time. You never know when something’s going to work. And if it doesn’t – then you never have to do it again.

Happy writing.

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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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