Tag Archives: literature

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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Shortlisted! Romance Reader Awards

TWP_RGBpackshotAbsolutely thrilled to hear this week that The Wedding Proposal has been shortlisted in the Romance Reader Awards for Best Romantic Read. This is the first year that the entry has been open to all so I’m beyond delighted to be in illustrious company. You can read the complete lists for all categories here but this is the line up for mine:

Best Romantic Read
(Sponsored by Headline Eternal)
Two Weddings and a Baby by Scarlett Bailey (Ebury)
The Memory Book by Rowan Coleman (Ebury)
The Cornish Stranger by Liz Fenwick (Orion)
After The Honeymoon by Janey Fraser (Arrow)
The Unpredictable Consequences of Love by Jill Mansell (Headline Review)
One Hundred Proposals by Holly Martin (Carina)
The Wedding Proposal by Sue Moorcroft (Choc Lit)
The Proposal by Tasmina Perry (Headline Review)
One Step Closer to You by Alice Peterson (Quercus)

Rowan Coleman is currently flying high as a Richard & Judy pick and Jill Mansell has long been a mega-bestseller so you can see what I mean by ‘illustrious company’.

The award ceremony is at the Festival of Romantic Fiction on the evening of Saturday 13th September 2014 at Leighton Buzzard Theatre. I’m attending the Festival all day on the Saturday, to be part of the book fair in Leighton Buzzard High Street from 10am to 3pm and the Traditional Afternoon Tea with the Authors at The Green House, Market Square, Leighton Buzzard. I’m glad I booked a hotel for Saturday night as drinking fizz at an awards ceremony is a basic human right … and I’m rather a fan of it.

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There are many ways to enjoy a wedding …

When we think of weddings we tend to think of all the traditional things – big venue, bride in gorgeous white dress, long black cars, bridesmaids, pageboys, guests in suits and hats. It’s an incredibly expensive undertaking.

For some, the price is just too much.

Recently, I discovered that the wedding plans of the son of friends had been badly affected by an unexpected redundancy notice. They had to look at the wedding expenses and see what they could cut. An obvious candidate was the wedding car at nearly £500. The dad said that he’d drive the happy couple, instead, but that would mean double journeys and fallback plans for others in the family.

2014-06-28 17.08.34It so happens that there’s a nice middle-aged sort of Jag in my family, so I volunteered to turn myself into a chauffeur for the day.

It was great! As soon as the ribbons were on the car I found that traffic stopped for me, even when I didn’t even have the bride and groom on board. (I’ve stored this information up for future use and may always keep a supply of white ribbons in the glove compartment.)

I ended up going to the wedding reception in the afternoon and then back to the extended family reception at the parents’ house in the evening. (By that time I was off duty and could indulge in a few glasses of Pimms.) I had time to chat with members of their family that I hadn’t seen for years, as well as meeting a few new ones.

TWP_HIGHRES 150dpiThe Wedding Proposal was at the printers, by this time, but this lovely wedding day did make me wonder what kind of wedding Elle and Lucas will have in the end. Will they do the traditional thing at a stunning venue? Run off to Vegas, as Elle once suggested? Or get married on a beach, somewhere exotic …

I wonder if they need a driver?

 

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Publication day!

ITL?_new packshotToday is publication day for ‘Is This Love?’

I was going to say that a publication day is like Christmas and my birthday all rolled into one – but, actually, it’s more fun.

The lovely publicists at Choc Lit have lined me up a lot of online interviews and blogposts to go live today, fantastic friends on Facebook and Twitter are sending me nice messages, and I’m on BBC Radio Cambridgeshire this afternoon, after recording a segment for Bookmark at Community 105. And I’m going out with friends this evening to celebrate. (I’ve even been able to arrange for somebody else to drive.)

Publication Day is Publication Day, even though the ebook came out a month ago and the online bookstores shipped the paperback copies last weekend. Mere details! Publication Day is the marker, the day I pause in my usual work to enjoy the moment. It’s also a good excuse for a bit of hoopla.

Happily for me, Publication Day more-or-less coincides with the Festival of Romance, which begins tomorrow, in Bedford, so I have an interview on the Nick Coffer show on BBC 3 Counties Radio at 12.30 and a booksigning at Waterstones 1.30pm till 3.00pm tomorrow (Friday 8th November). Then I can relax and watch other authors do their stuff at the ART AND ROMANCE EVENING, The Higgins Museum & Art Gallery.

Saturday is a chance to be in two places at one time as 10am to 3pm sees the ROMANCE FAIR at the Harpur Suite, Corn Exchange, but I’m appearing and reading 10.30am to 12noon at the COFFEE AND CAKE MORNING at The Lane … and 12.45pm to 3.45pm myself and Christina Courtenay are leading the IRRESISTIBLE HEROES WORKSHOP at the Central Library. Other Choc Lit authors Jane Lovering and Laura James are being so kind as to sell my books at the Romance Fair. Of course, they’re busy with their own events so Jane’s partner has kindly volunteered to take over. I’m not sure if he knows this yet.

Don’t anybody expect any real work from me until Monday! Because today is Publication Day and I’m managing to make it stretch over the weekend.

Even Amazon is celebrating with me – ‘Is This Love?’ is available at a special price for Kindle users because it’s part of the 100 Kindle Books promo.

A few of the first blogposts, interviews etc:

Bookgirl of Mur-y-Castell

Female First

ARRA (Australian Romance Readers Association)

Mark West’s Strange Tales

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What do I think about self-publishing?

I’ve recently been asked what I think about self-publishing, so I decided it blog about it. Everything I’m going to say now is ONLY my opinion, drawn from my experiences, and not the only opinion, or the only way of going about things.

I would always go for a traditional publisher ahead of self-publishing, when you don’t have a track record as an author. Publishers are still gatekeepers in terms of quality control and you learn a lot whilst you’re with them. There are, and have been, some fabulous successes in self-publishing, but it wouldn’t be my first choice. However, there are more good books out there than publishers able to publish them, so self-publishing would definitely be my second choice!

WebUphill All The Way2In fact, I have self-published a novel that’s now out of print, Uphill All the Way, plus a few novellas that began liFour togetherWhereTheHeartIs_Cover_KINDLEfe as magazine serials then became large print books for libraries and so I put them out there as a service to readers – some had seen those books on Amazon, but out of print, and asked me about them. These titles bring me in a useful sum each month.

Some authors, who used to have big audiences but went out of favour with publishers, now self-publish and make more money than they ever did when with a publisher. That’s a fact. If you have the audience already, self-publishing can work wonders.

But when you have no track record as a writer, or, at least, not a writer in the field in which you’re considering self-publishing, you do have to look at the whole situation.
i) You can choose Amazon KDP select, which means you can’t sell your book through other channels. It’s supposed to be beneficial because it means you can put a book up for free once in a while, which can cause a spike in sales in your other books, particularly if you put book 1 up free and everyone loves it so much they instantly download book 2. I only have Where the Heart Is on Select and it has never been borrowed but I have put it up for free once in a while and sometimes it has made my other sales go up a bit.

ii) However, the rest of my stuff is available on Smashwords, too, which means it goes onto all platforms,  and I get a useful sum from Smashwords once a quarter. I don’t feel the need to take the rest of my stuff away from Smashwords and put it on Select. For me, to have one sacrificial lamb is enough.

iii) I recommend that if you self-publish, you pay for a professional editor. Unedited work is painful to read and attracts a lot of negative reviews online. Avoid negative reviews if possible, although to have one or two is meant to show that your reviews are real and not just created by best friends.

iv) Ditto the cover. Get it done professionally.

v) Do the tutorial on Smashwords and Amazon (or just Amazon, if you go the KDP select way) and make sure your formatting is correct. Bad formatting also attracts a lot of negative reviews. This is a vexed area because even when you’ve got it right, the occasional reader will still say it turned out wrong on her particular tablet or ereader. Go figure.

vi) Or, like me, get someone else to do it, someone with experience. I was v lucky to have a friend who did it for me. I just supplied the text and got the covers done.

vii) Marketing – go for it, because nobody does it for you. Social media is especially useful and every reader expects every writer to have Twitter and Facebook accounts, and maybe LinkedIn, Pinterest and whatever looks as if it’s going to do you good. Look at Goodreads and their giveaways, also.

viii) Blog and website are indespensible. Get on other people’s blogs when you can, too, ditto book review sites. This is where social media comes in because you can see where other writers get interviews/posts/reviews and you can go on the same blog and check it out and ask if they’d do something with you. Some writers have put out so much stuff on their blog (E L James) that it has led to massive success (Fifty Shades). A small proportion, though.

ix) Give people your Twitter and Facebook names wherever possible (@suemoorcroft on Twitter, sue.moorcroft.3 on Facebook). Link everything together, ie have Twitter and Facebook ‘follow’ buttons on your website and blog. I’m just looking into having Pinterest buttons, too, although I’m weary of the whole necessity to do so.

x) Educate yourself. Go to writers’ conventions, network, do workshops, get information out of others.

xi) Hit on local newspapers, local radio. Send press releases. If you can get national, then do so, obviously! But remember that ‘author writes book’ isn’t a story. You need more than that. ‘Author writes book while being held hostage by pirates’ will gain more interest.

Lots of the above applies whether you traditionally publish or self publish. It’s promo promo promo and then, after that, promo!

Good luck.

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Pitch your novel across the Pond and Beyond. Oxford Author Courses tell you how to do it

OxfordYou’ve written your novel, and you want to sell it into the biggest and most prestigious markets in the world. But you don’t know how to begin, or what to do. Attend Oxford Author Courses’ day-long crash course, Pitch Across the Pond and Beyond, at St. Hilda’s College, Oxford on 13th April and you’ll come away knowing exactly what you should do.

You’ll hear from a very savvy and highly successful US agent who’ll tell you what’s hot and what’s not.  Christine Witthohn is founder of Book Cents Agency, which she started in 2006. Her approach is simple: she loves a great story, but more importantly wants to be the one to sell it. She represents both published and unpublished authors.

Stéphane Marsan, founder of successful, independent French publisher, Bragelonne will talk about the kind of books that have made his company such a force within the French publishing industry. Fresh from the Paris Book Fair (held late March) he’s actively looking for books in romance, horror, fantasy and young adult genres. Come and hear what he’s looking for now and how to submit your novel to his company – and don’t worry, Bragelonne do the translation!

Lynne Connolly is a British author who sells almost exclusively to the American market. She writes sexy, sophisticated romance in contemporary, historical and paranormal genres. Lynne writes mainly for digital-first publishers in the USA. It was her agent who suggested she try America when her first book was turned down in England. She it to the USA, it was accepted and she’s never looked back. She’ll tell you how she made herself successful in America with tips and hints of how to approach this biggest and richest of all English speaking markets.

Other bestselling British authors, who specialise in pitching, selling and marketing their work abroad, will tell you their secrets: how they do it – and continue to do it.

What works for other countries?

Which way to go – traditional, independent or self-publish?

Enjoy a fact packed day and come you away buzzing with ideas and enthusiasm for venturing away from the UK’s shores and into larger, more profitable markets. Broaden your horizons for just £120* with Oxford Author Courses Pitch Across the Pond and Beyond day.

For more details and booking form go to http://www.oxfordauthorcourses.com.

*Discount available for writers’ groups as detailed on the website.

For further information please contact: Maggi Fox, Press Officer, Oxford Author Courses, maggi@oxfordauthorcourses.com, 07770 754811

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Goodreads Giveaway

AllThatMullarkey_Cover:Layout 1If you want to win a copy of All That Mullarkey, you can enter the Goodreads Giveaway here.

Choc Lit are working with Goodreads – just follow the link and click ‘Enter to Win’.

 
All That Mullarkey is about Cleo, who discovers that the writing’s on the wall for her marriage – the bedroom wall – and hurtles off for a bit of an adventure …

The lovely Justin is happy to benefit from her moment of wildness and their encounter sets off a series of events that turns life upside down for both of them.

Tempted? Just enter.

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What happened at the RoNAs

Jane Wenham Jones introduces Judy Finnigan and Richard Madeley

Jane Wenham Jones introduces Judy Finnigan and Richard Madeley

Well, I had an excellent time!

I didn’t win my category – that honour went to the lovely Katie Fforde – but I had an absolute blast at the party at the RAF Club in London’s Piccadilly. It’s a gorgeous venue and the staff kept the canapes and wine coming all evening.

And almost as Jane Wenham-Jones introduced the guests of honour, Richard & Judy, someone tripped or something and sent me absolutely flying. So I arrived on my bum pretty much at the feet of Richard and Judy to begin the proceedings with a bang. You’d think they’d have given me the RoNA just for that, really, wouldn’t you? But no …

Here’s the full list of winners:

Contemporary Romantic Novel winner – Katie Fforde
Epic Romantic Novel winner – Rowan Coleman
Historical Romantic Novel winner – Charlotte Betts
Romantic Comedy Novel winner – Jenny Colgan
Young Adult Romantic Novel Winner – Victoria Lamb

And the winners above go forward now to the Romantic Novel of the Year Award in May.

RoNA Rose – Sarah Mallory

Sophie Kinsella presented with Outstanding Achievement Award

Congratulations to them all. You can find photos on the Romantic Novelists’ Association’s website here.

My thanks to everybody concerned in the running of the RoNAs. I know a huge amount of hard work went into it and the event was just amazing, honestly. Slick and controlled (apart from the odd person flying through the air) and joyous.

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