‘Just for the Holidays’ hits the shelves!

JFTH Ebook cover smallPublication day!

Yes, today Just for the Holidays will be hitting shelves, shopping trolleys and e-readers. It’s the culmination of a lot of work, not just for me but for my agent, editor, publicists, assistants, sales team, cover artist and everybody else who’s involved in the publication of a book. Huge thank yous to every single one of them.

Thanks also to all the lovely readers who buy my novels and make my life as an author possible. Every book’s special to me and it fills me with joy when you contact me on social media to tell me what you thought.

So what’s Just for the Holidays about? It’s about Leah, who’s mad on cars and chocolate but not mad on the idea of a husband and children. She gets roped into looking after her sister’s husband and children with only a Porsche and a pilot to cheer her up.

What else can you expect to find within the pages? France, teenagers, more chocolate food technology, lovely sunshine, a Goth, furry creatures, an unexpected guest and a helicopter.JFTH Blog tour small

If you’d like to follow the blog tour, here’s the schedule.

 

‘My next book’ – all three of them

Question: which of these statements is true?

Answer: they all are.

How can that be? Because what constitutes ‘my next book’ depends upon the context of the conversation.

  • Just for the Holidays – ‘is my next book to be published’. (18 May 2017 in ebook, paperback and audio, if you’re interested. And you can order it here.) This is also the next book to be promoted, which will involve me in writing blog posts, social media, radio interviews etc.
  • Give Me Till Christmas – ‘I’ve just sent my next book to my editor’. (9 October 2017 in ebook, 2 November paperback, audio tba. I was a little shocked to be told last week that you can order this, too.) This will be the next book to be edited. Structural edits first (ironing out all the plot lines that aren’t quite working etc.); next come line edits (minutiae and punctuation etc.); finally the proofreading.
  • The Summer of Finding Out – ‘I’m just about to begin researching and planning my next book.’ (Scheduled for Summer 2018) This will be the next book to be written, in between the promo of Just for the Holidays and the editing of Give Me Till Christmas.

In case you’re wondering, I am no special case. Many novelists work in this way. Personally, I love it. I choose to see it not as a pressure but as an affirmation that I’m a commercially published author. I don’t groan when I’m asked to do promo because whoever has asked me is helping me to sell my books. I don’t go into a huff when I receive my editorial notes, line edits or proofreading because we’re all working to produce the best book I can. (That sentence is grammatically incorrect on purpose – a team works to produce my book. How cool is that?)

Lest you think I’m polishing my halo, there are things I don’t react well to – spurious interruptions, people wasting my time unnecessarily, unreasonable people etc. etc. Here’s a recent example:

Phone rings. I answer. It’s the bank, asking to speak to another member of my household, one who is out of the house during the working day. This is the fifth time in two days that they’ve called with the same request. The first four times, I pointed out politely that the person is not here because he doesn’t work here but I do. Please, could the bank stop these calls? They’re interrupting me. On the fifth occasion, I’m half way through a difficult scene and my temper snaps along with the thread of what I’m trying to write. I find myself rising vertically from my chair. ‘Look! I keep telling you that he doesn’t work here! I DO! Look in your records for his daytime number and RING HIM THERE! It’s DAYTIME! I’ve told you and told you and told you this and you persist in interrupting me! I’m self-employed and I’m TRYING TO DO MY JOB! Why don’t you GO AWAY AND DO YOURS? And if you’re stupid enough to ring here again with the same request I’m going to take all my money out of your bank and put it somewhere else. Plus, I’m going to speak to your supervisor and tell him or her that you’re stupid! Right?’

And, you know what, she didn’t ring back and I was able to get on with my next book.

Cover reveal and the London Book Fair

Drrrrrum rrrrroll please! It’s my pleasure this Sunday evening to share my new book cover!

JFTH Ebook cover small

 

Avon Books UK has given me another fabulous cover, one I’m proud to have on my book. Paperback, ebook and audio book will all be released on 18 May 2017 and you can get your preorder in hereJust for the Holidays is about Leah Beaumont who, having made a decision not to marry or have children, finds herself stuck in France looking after her sister’s husband and kids. But, hey, it’s just for the holidays, right? Well, whether you’re headed for an exotic beach or prefer something closer to home, Leah’s holiday is probably going to make your summer feel pretty good.

Apart from getting excited about that pretty cover, I spent three days last week enjoying the delights of the London Book Fair. It’s a giant trade fair where agents, publishers and those who provide services or products to them, can meet to do business. There are two massive halls and two big galleries filled with stands from all over the world.

So, what is an author doing there? I treat it rather like a conference and go along to absorb information. As well as an opportunity to see what publishers are publishing this year, there are many talks/panels/presentations taking place. Many of them aren’t aimed at me but I’m interested, so in I go. My personal highlights were a debate on whether Brexit will be good for publishing; a talk by Michael Morpurgo, children’s author; and meeting face-to-face for the first time Karen Byrom, the fiction editor of My Weekly. Expect to see a short story and Just for the Holidays giveaway in My Weekly in May, a Christmas two-parter in December, and a little promo idea Karen and I cooked up that I’m sitting on for now.

I also use the Fair as a place to meet other authors and friends for a cuppa, a chat, lunch or dinner. It’s tiring; I walked an average of seven miles a day, but I love it. To share the love, I put together a bit of a pin board for you below.

 

LBF 17 pastiche

Top row, L-R: Michael Morpurgo, the view from the gallery, the audience gathers ahead of Mr Morpurgo’s talk, spring hits London Olympia, the HarperCollins stand.

Bottom row, L-R: pity they didn’t have my size, London and the Thames in the sunshine (no, this isn’t close to Olympia), Christina Courtenay and I are not afraid of some big shark, the Independent Publishers’ Guild stands, decorative rather than for reading.

 

Sue Moorcroft’s ideas factory

One of the most common questions I’m asked at events or on social media is where my ideas come from. I don’t have an Ideas Shop just down the road from where I live – but I do have an Ideas Factory. It’s this:

I listen to people talking and I think about what they say.

You might be disappointed by my ‘revelation’ but here’s how it works. If a person finds a situation remarkable enough to tell me about, then that’s an indication that there’s something worth exploring. ‘Remarkable’ is good.

Sometimes it can be a central idea. Over dinner, a friend told me about her holiday from hell. I laughed until I cried as she made it sound very funny but in amongst the extraordinary happenings was a story of a family in crisis, a woman who was acting bizarrely because she’d fallen violently in love with a younger man. She’d kept another big secret, too, and the truth came out during the holiday.

screen-shot-2017-01-19-at-07-43-52

(Cover under construction)

It’s no coincidence that my next release is called Just for the Holidays because I asked my friend if I could use some of the basic facts of her holiday from hell. I haven’t used all of them but what I have used is what I thought about: the confusion and fear of the woman with the secrets, the impossible situation she got herself into and the incredible fallout in her family. In fact, it’s her sister who’s the heroine of my novel, because she’d chosen to be single but ended up in France looking after her niece, nephew and brother-in-law. This irony underpins the story.

 

This technique has worked for me with novels, short stories and serials. If someone tells me an anecdote about a little girl who wouldn’t come home from the park or a lady who went to the funeral of Eric Brown and realised when Eric Brown tapped her on the shoulder that she was actually at the funeral of Eric Green, I begin thinking about the emotions involved. Why did X do this? How did Y react? And, what message or messages would I like to put across?

To show you how important I believe a message to be to my writing, here’s an example of someone giving me something to think about and my taking a message from it. It’s not a happy story but I hope you forgive me that.

file-08-02-2017-08-28-53A girl of six was at school. Sitting next to a boy she didn’t like at lunchtime she deliberately spilt his orange juice over him. Almost immediately, she was called to the headteacher’s office and was walked along the school corridors in silence, heart pounding because she thought her moment of meanness had been observed and now she was in big trouble. In the headteacher’s office, she found that her daddy was waiting for her. He’d come to tell her that her mummy and her baby brother had been killed that morning in a car crash. The little girl’s first thought was ‘At least I’m not in trouble for the orange juice.’

What I took from this sad story is: our first reaction to something is not the most important or most far-reaching. It has set off a whole chain of thoughts about bizarre reactions in crisis and what the consequences of them could be. My story will not be about orange juice or bereavement. It will be about first reactions.

Next time you’re short of ideas listen to the stories of others and just think about them. You don’t have to lift entire stories but just use one aspect as a starting point. What if …? Why …? 

Do you believe everything you read?

too-much-information-1As an author, it’s my job to make readers think that the characters and situations in my books are believable.

Most writers research their books carefully to make their work credible and to enrich them with telling details that bring the story to life for the reader. I’m absolutely not taking a pop at them. It’s just that I think I’m a particularly quirky reader because I sometimes find myself reading something I sort of trip up over and then have to stop reading to think about, something that nobody else ever seems to feel the need to mention. I do understand that there are some things that readers just do not need to know, and I’ve been on the receiving end of ‘Too much information!’ messages from editors, but I’m still going to share a few of my reading quirks with you.

  • Hero and heroine leap into bed together. Whaaat? Nobody needed to nip to the loo first? And the heroine hasn’t taken off her make up.
  • Hero and heroine wake up together and immediately begin making love, including lavish kisses. See above! Plus, what about morning breath? And is the heroine’s mascara now forming great black smudges beneath her eyes? That is not a good look.
  • Heroine has had a baby and hero has no inkling, despite having made love to her. So she doesn’t have a single stretch mark? Not ONE? Wow. Did she use bio oil?
  • Villains fire off round after round of automatic weapon fire at hero and he crouches, wincing, behind a rock, but doesn’t suffer a scratch. He, on the other hand, with a handheld gun, is able to pick the villains off at will. So, if he gained this prowess via military service, was he categorised as a marksman? With this particular weapon?And how long ago was that? Maybe it’s a facility that doesn’t need honing at regular intervals? Or maybe being in fear of his life just bring it back in a hurry?
  • Character has a dog. I watch carefully to make certain someone takes the dog out regularly and feeds it. Otherwise, I will have to make a report to the RSPCA. (NB Every time I have a dog in a book I swear it’s the last time. The damned thing is almost as much trouble as a real one.)
  • Characters get soaked, either by torrential rain or through falling into a body of water. They get no opportunity to change their clothes and they just seem to cope. I must be such a wimp. I feel physically uncomfortable until I know they’ve been able to change, preferably after a nice warm shower and a cup of tea.

I can imagine readers everywhere saying ‘But I seriously do not need to know that my characters go to the toilet or pick up after the dog!’ and I completely agree. But it doesn’t stop me thinking …

Is it only me? Or do you have reading quirks, too?

screen-shot-2017-01-19-at-07-43-52Sue’s next book, Just for the Holidays, has just entered production ready for 18th May publication. You can see that the cover isn’t quite ready but here’s the blurb:

The #1 bestselling author returns for summer! Grab your sun hat, a cool glass of wine, and the only book you need on holiday…

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…

A glorious summer read, for you to devour in one sitting – perfect for fans of Katie Fforde, Carole Matthews and Trisha Ashley.