Tag Archives: christmas

Who reads Christmas books? #AmReading #AmWriting #RespectRomFic

Image showing book covers for Under the Mistletoe, The Christmas Promise, Christmas Wishes, The Little Village Christmas, A Christmas Gift and Let it Snow.

When I decided to write a post about Christmas books, I first solicited feedback from two large, active readers’ groups on Facebook. I asked: ‘If you read Christmas-themed books, whether they’re romance-at-Christmas or crime-at-Christmas, can you tell me why?’

Overwhelmingly, the most popular answer was:

  • ‘I love Christmas books!’

Almost as popular was:

  • to get in the Christmas mood and/or feel immersed in the season of goodwill.

Others included:

  • reading Christmas books is a part of the run-up to Christmas, a tradition
  • many Christmas books have happy endings, increasing the positive feelings (this possibly isn’t true of crime-at-Christmas)
  • to reflect on the spirit of Christmas
  • to ‘live’ the sort of Christmas the reader would like to have, but doesn’t, including having a vicarious Christmas if spending the season alone
  • escapism – Christmas books tend to focus on what’s important: family, charity, hope and community, rather than commercialism
  • Christmas books are frequently uplifting
  • they heighten the romance of the season.

Stanley Unwin said: “The first duty of any publisher to their authors is to remain solvent,” so it’s not hard to see why publishers publish Christmas books. Christmas stories sell in large numbers. Most of mine have charted in the Official UK Top 50, UK Kindle Top 100 (one went to #1) and some the Top 20 Mass-Market Fiction. Magazines, newspapers and websites include them in Christmas gift guides. The season is short but intense.

I write Christmas books, and not just because they sell. (Here comes the writing bit.) I think my ‘plotty head’ recognises the possibilities arising from the heightened stakes of a book set at Christmas time.

I view it like this: during the festive season, good things seem better and bad things seem worse.

Let’s take an example of ‘good’ – a couple getting engaged at Christmas. Their wonderful news only doubles the celebrations; they meet more friends and family at Christmas and each time make their announcement, show off the rings, talk about future plans. A Christmas engagement is memorable and romantic, bedecking Cloud Nine with glitter and fairy lights.

On the other hand, how bad does it feel to get a redundancy notice in the week before Christmas? The good time had by others highlights the plight of the character who’s lost their job and money woes leap into hard focus. How will the Christmas credit card bill be paid, the Christmas food bill, the tickets for the latest Christmas movie or fuelling the car for Christmas visits across country? The January pay packet may be the last for a while. Family members are about to be let down just when they were expecting to be flying high.

This heightening of stakes makes my plotting life easier. Contrasts between ‘haves’ and ‘have nots’ are greater (hence Charles Dickens writing A Christmas Carol to bring attention to the plight of the poor), conflicts are tougher, celebrations more joyous, goals more important. A bad Christmas experience can taint Christmas forevermore… unless a novelist comes along to weave into the story a reason to enjoy Christmas again and for scars to be healed.

For me, writing Christmas books has an unexpected benefit – I’m part of so many Christmases! People read my books to get in the festive spirit and gift them to each other (there are few things easier to wrap than a book). If someone messages me with a request to buy a signed copy they often ask, ‘Do you mind?’

No, I don’t mind – I’m delighted! It’s a privilege to be, in a small way, part of Christmas. 

Image of more Christmas books

3 Comments

Filed under Sue Moorcroft

What do I do when I finish writing a book?

Finishing writing a book is an odd feeling. DSCF9022For one thing, I know the book isn’t actually finished. I’ve completed the major edits and returned the book to my agent but I know it needs at least one more polish and probably tweaks. And that’s before a publisher has even got hold of it …

Still, it’s a milestone, a feeling of accomplishment and lightness that it’s off my hands for a week or two. I’m not the kind of writer to grab the opportunity for loads of time off (not sure why) and I am the kind of writer to have left a lot of other jobs while I got my edits done. So here are the post-edit headlines:

  • I tidy my study. To be honest, there’s not that much difference to be seen, except the timeline is no longer lounging seductively across a drawer while I obsess about it and there are no longer any notes hanging in the copyholder beside my monitor. There’s a little less on the floor.
  • I do my annual accounts. I hate doing my accounts. Seriously hate it. I hate it so much that I had to eat two packs of Quavers in one afternoon to get me through. At least I didn’t cry, this year. (It’s not that I can’t do them – I used to keep other people’s books. I. Just. Hate. Them.)
  • I understand why people who have jobs they hate hang out on Facebook.
  • I work through my ‘to do’ list, which includes booking two holidays to Malta. Yes, two! For me! In one year! Whoop! I did this before I’d got to the bottom line in the annual accounts, but I’m not cancelling.
  • I look at booking a ticket to the London Book Fair.
  • I add some more things to my To Do list while I think of them.
  • I relax. It’s a nice feeling to know that a huge project is coming to the end. Two, if you consider the hideous accounts.
  • I go on with the course I’m adapting from Love Writing and think about the novella I’m to adapt for My Weekly. (Oh look – two more big projects!)
  • I look forward to a complete weekend off.
  • I begin to wonder about whether my agent will like my revisions. I feel slightly anxious, and not so relaxed.
  • I think about the next book. I think I want it to be set in summer. Writing a Christmas novel and a Christmas serial this year has fried whatever Christmas spirit I have. (Not a great deal.)
  • I consider having lunch with my gym friends and don’t feel guilty, even though I’m having dinner with them this evening.
  • I hang out on Facebook and Twitter more than usual, mainly to whine about having to do my accounts.
  • I read a lot of articles and watch podcasts about writing/publishing that have been stacking up. This is helpful but not, you know, actual work …
  • I look at my website and decide what needs updating.
  • I feel good.

4 Comments

Filed under Uncategorized

So how was it for you?

It’s January the 2nd and I’m back at my desk. The only sound is of the birds singing outside. Dawn’s just breaking (dawn’s pretty late in my part of the UK at this time of the year – 8am) and the sky is orange and purple. My lovely Mac computer has just been upgraded and I’m content.

Why? It’s because I don’t like Christmas.

Sorry! I know it’s not a popular point of view but I’m one of Santa’s little elves who make Christmas possible for everybody else. I shop for the presents and wrap them, I shop for the food and cook (and cook and cook) it. Even when someone else is the hostess my conscience won’t allow them to shoulder the burden alone, so I spend the day in their kitchen instead of mine!

Puppy-in-law in a chilled moment on New Year's Eve

Puppy-in-law in a chilled moment on New Year’s Eve

But I’m not completely ‘bah, humbug!’ I love to see my family and it was great that my son, his girlfriend and their puppy were able to come for three weeks ‘home town time’. I enjoyed chats with my brothers and their families, who I don’t get to see all the time. I went to see ‘The Hobbit’, which was absolutely fantastic and I enjoyed every second. I managed to squeeze in two Zumba classes and attendant cuppas with my gym bunny buddies, I found two days where I snatched a few hours to write, I had a day where I refused to cook and sat by the fire reading whilst the rain poured down outside. I enjoyed the several Christmas lunches and dinners I got to earlier in December (ie cooked by restaurant personnel).

I had a pretty chilled New Year and now we’ve crossed that sacred date line I am very happy to be back at my lovely Mac without having totally lost the plot (ho ho) of my book thanks to those two days I managed to write. I’ll be back at yoga at lunchtime, on BBC Radio Cambridgeshire with the lovely Sue Dougan tomorrow and meeting a close protection officer for research purposes on Monday. I’m book in for Zumba on Thursday, Friday and Tuesday. Blissful sighhhhhhhhh …. I feel I’m in my own skin again.

Is it just me? Am I just a curmudgeonly moany guts? Did you all have a fantastic time and you’re sorry to get back to normal life? I really really hope so.

And I hope that 2013 is a healthy, happy and prosperous year for you. x

PS Dream a Little Dream came out in Australia yesterday. I’m a bit jealous it’s over there without me because I’ve always wanted to go. Maybe that’s how I ought to spend next Christmas …

26 Comments

Filed under Uncategorized