Welcoming Sue Moorcroft back to Novel Kicks is a lovely way to kick off a Monday morning. She’s here with the blog tour for her latest novel, The Little Village Christmas which has recently been released by Avon digitally with the paperback release following at the beginning of November.
Alexia Kennedy – interior decorator extraordinaire – has been tasked with giving the little village of Middledip the community café it’s always dreamed of.
After months of fundraising, the villagers can’t wait to see work get started – but disaster strikes when every last penny is stolen. With Middledip up in arms at how this could have happened, Alexia feels ready to admit defeat.
But help comes in an unlikely form when woodsman, Ben Hardaker and his rescue owl Barney, arrive on the scene. Another lost soul who’s hit rock bottom, Ben and Alexia make an unlikely partnership.
However, they soon realise that a little sprinkling of Christmas magic might just help to bring this village – and their lives – together again…
Christmas wouldn’t feel like Christmas, even in October, if there wasn’t a new Sue Moorcroft novel to enjoy – I was not disappointed.
Will that do? It should suffice as the line above should be all you need to know, assuming you’re familiar with the stories of Ms Moorcroft. If you’re not, then read on, but by the time you get to the end of this review and have then purchased the book, savoured the beautiful front cover and finally sat down to read said story, I’m certain you’ll be in agreement with my succinct review above.
Still not convinced? Very well, but be warned, if you want a more complete story outline, I suggest you go elsewhere. That’s not my style. I tend to give a brief overview of what happens, and concentrate on the writing style and characterisation, plus a small deal of procrastination thrown in for you fellow writers out there.
So, who do we have here? Our main characters are Alexia, an Interior Decorator who’s taking on one final project in her home village of Middledip (hurrah!) before, she hopes leaving for bigger things in London. However, as they do, the best laid plans fall apart when conmen steal all that’s worth stealing from The Angel Community Cafe she’s thrown into a steamy relationship with Ben, relatively new to the village who’d previously kept to himself for reasons that become clearer as the story progresses, that flounders and very nearly burns before it’s had time to get started.by
Hi Bella. It’s lovely to have you back on Novel Kicks. Your book is called Escape to Willow Cottage. Can you tell us a little about it?
Hi Laura. I’m so happy to be back, I love you guys!
Escape to Willow Cottage is the story of Beth who is running away from a bad relationship and Carly who is trying to secure the future of hers.
Beth has her young son, Leo, to protect when she impulsively buys Willow Cottage at auction. When she finally uncovers the cottage from underneath the boughs of a weeping willow tree, Beth realises this is far more of a project than she bargained for and the locals are more than a little eccentric! A chance encounter with gruff Jack, who appears to be the only male in the village under thirty, leaves the two of them at odds but it’s not long before Beth realises that Jack has hidden talents that could help her repair more than just Willow Cottage.
What’s your writing process like? How has your writing process changed since writing your first novel?
My writing process is very structured. I am a project manager by profession so it feels natural to me to apply the same approach to my writing. I spend a lot of time getting to know my characters and working out my plot and story threads before I start to write. There are always lots of post-it notes involved!
It has changed in that I know a bit more about what I’m doing now whereas with the first book I just happily bumbled along and then did lots of editing later on.
If you were able to go back and give yourself advice when you were a new writer, what would you say/tell yourself?
Start writing a whole novel NOW! I have always written but it took until 2013 for me to challenge myself to write a full-length novel and I wish I had done this years ago because I enjoy it so much.
What’s your favourite word and why?
Shenanigans – it makes me smile.
What are your ideal writing conditions? Any writing rituals?
Somewhere warm with custard creams – that pretty much covers my requirements. I use our spare bedroom as my writing room but if I win the lottery I would really like a shepherd’s hut – oh well, a girl can dream. I don’t have any writing rituals, as such, but I like to celebrate finishing a novel with a glass of fizz (basically any excuse to pop a cork).
What’s the best and also most challenging aspect of being a writer?
The best thing about being a writer is … writing. I know that sounds dumb, but to be able to sit down and write the story that’s in your head is what I was always meant to be doing. If books were banned tomorrow I’d still need to write. When readers enjoy my books that’s the cherry on the cake.
The thing I find most challenging is maintaining focus and not being distracted by new ideas. This was what used to stop me from finishing stories in the past, I would be derailed by a new shiny story that just had to be written. To try to pigeonhole my thoughts I have a file on my computer called ‘Random Thoughts’ where I jot down ideas – it currently stands at twelve thousand words!
I am very pleased and super excited to be welcoming the fabulous Sue Moorcroft and the blog tour for her new novel, Just For The Holidays, released today by Avon Books.
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…
Mick has reviewed the book but first, Sue shares her top tips for surviving summer holidays. Over to you, Sue.
I love summer. I was brought up for several years in Malta and it’s there I think I must have developed my love of the sun. Here are my top tips for surviving summer holidays:
• Take plenty to read. Whether it’s your eReader, print books or magazines, just make sure everybody in your party has something. I know you’ve got your phones on which to browse the Internet or tablets to let you watch DVDs but airport delays or beaches lead to flat batteries, low signal or extortionate phone bills. I find a book a day a nice starting point. Loading my eReader for a trip is such a pleasure! And I generally take a magazine just in case something makes it impossible to read on my eReader and the app on my phone.
• Choose a holiday you actually want. This might sound like stating the flippin’ obvious but if you’ve browbeaten your holiday companions into going where you want, you may find that nobody has a good time – and that includes you if they remind you every five minutes and sulk. (Of course, if you’re the browbeaten one and you didn’t actually want to spend your holiday in a theme park, put your friends/family in a queue for a ride, find a sunny bench and take out your book …) Leah in Just for the Holidays allows her sister, Michele, to coax her into a holiday she doesn’t want and things go seriously wrong from the first. (It doesn’t help that Michele has a couple of secrets, including quite an important one that she hasn’t shared with Leah.)
• If you can afford it, treat yourself to a pre-holiday pamper. Leg-waxing and gel nails can keep you feeling good all through your long-awaited holiday.
• Stay safe. It’s a shame we have to think this way but many a fabulous break has been ruined by theft of money and/or passports and returning to find the home ransacked. Be aware, use the hotel safe, visit one of the ‘information for travellers’ websites for advice pertinent to the place you’re visiting.
• Take at least one sweatshirt and a raincoat. Even hot countries have summer storms or freak weather.by
OK, I admit it, I already have the Christmas songs playing and if I could get away with it, I would already have my tree up. I adore this time of year. I love the songs, the lights and any excuse to dig out the Christmas films whilst eating mince pies.
One of the things I love the most are the Christmas themed novels. I am very excited to say that Bella Osborne is with Novel Kicks today (welcome back, Bella,) with the blog tour for her latest Christmas themed novel, Christmas Cheer which is the second book in the Willow Cottage series.
Beth is running away. With her young son Leo to protect, Willow Cottage is the lifeline she so desperately needs. Overlooking the village green in a beautiful Cotswolds idyll, Beth sees a safe place for little Leo.
When she finally uncovers the cottage from underneath the boughs of a weeping willow tree, Beth realises this is far more of a project than she bargained for and the locals are more than a little eccentric!
A chance encounter with gruff Jack, who appears to be the only male in the village under thirty, leaves the two of them at odds but it’s not long before Beth realises that Jack has hidden talents that could help her repair more than just Willow Cottage.
Over the course of four seasons, Beth realises that broken hearts can be mended, and sometimes love can be right under your nose…
Thanks to Bella and Avon, we have an extract from Christmas Cheer. Enjoy…
‘Carly!’ said Beth, her voice sharp.
Carly spun in Beth’s direction with an exaggerated movement. With slow blinks she looked at Beth until something registered.
‘Beth! This is … um … what was your name again?’ She swung precariously back towards Jack who stopped her falling on him with one hand whilst holding the pub table steady with the other.
‘I know who it is.’ Beth was trying to suppress the annoyance that was rapidly developing within her.
‘He’s lov-erly,’ cooed Carly whilst she stroked his arm in a deliberate action.
‘I’d like to know what he’s planning on doing with my drunk friend?’ Beth retorted. Jack let go of
Carly as if she were a lit firework.
As the accusation slowly registered, Carly looked hurt. ‘I’m not dunk!’ she protested as she slowly slid towards the floor.
Jack was looking blindly from one woman to the other as if he’d just been teleported there. ‘I was just …’
‘For someone that wasn’t looking for a relationship a few hours ago you’ve sure as hell come round to the idea quick!’ Beth stepped forward and grabbed Carly by one arm and hauled her into a standing position. ‘Come on! We’re leaving now.’
Carly wobbled on unsteady legs, grinned inanely at Jack and was towed away.by
You may have noticed that a well known UK Superstore is now stocking my novel – ‘It Started At Sunset Cottage’ and if you haven’t then I suggest you hot foot it down to the store where ‘Every Little Helps’ to check it out for yourself. To be honest I’m guessing most folk are not quite as excited as I am to see it on a shelf (I could stand there staring at it for hours but apparently they’re not very keen on that, or so the nice security guard man said as he showed me out).
So how did this happen? (Grab a cuppa and I will update you).
Apparently my lovely editor at Harper Impulse, Charlotte Ledger, has been encouraging everyone she knows to read my book and one of the people she offered it to was Caroline Kirkpatrick from Avon (no not the curly paged magazine that gets poked through your door and then an odd-looking man comes to demand it back a few days later – not that. This Avon is another imprint of Harper Collins and thankfully has no curly pages or odd-looking men). Luckily Caroline enjoyed the story and this is where I get a little hazy as to what happened next, so I may have to make bits up.
After various discussions deep within the nooks and crannies of the News building in London they decided to repackage my novel and make it ‘supermarket friendly’. I wondered if this meant it would have a sell by date and come with two packets of custard creams (well, a girl can dream). Apparently, the supermarkets are very specific about what they want and what their experience tells them will sell. So with that in mind my cover was tweaked – it gained some bunting and the cottage was thatched but sadly we lost the dog in the handbag and the pineapples hidden in the floral arrangements. But overall the revised cover was definitely striking.by
I am excited to be welcoming Trisha Ashley back to Novel Kicks. Her latest novel, Creature Comforts was released by Avon on 26th February and as part of the blog tour for the book, Trisha and Avon have shared an extract with us. Enjoy.
When we first met, it felt so right that I thought falling in love with him must be part of my preordained destiny. Even though my best friends, Lulu and Cameron, teased me about my conviction that I had a near-death experience and went to Heaven while I was in a coma after the accident, and was sent back only because I had some important purpose to perform in life, I knew it was real. Since then I just had to tune inwards to the voice of my guardian angel from time to time to check I’d taken the right turning … only with Kieran, I think I must have fallen for him so hard that I misread the message.
My path through life had appeared clearly marked till then, for after studying Textiles and Design, I’d accepted a job with the Women’s World Workshops Foundation, which sent me on assignments all over the world, though the majority were in India. The pay was minimal, but the job satisfaction immense: discovering the skills and artistic heritage of each area and finding ways of utilising them in the making of beautiful garments, the sale of which could transform the lives of the local women involved in the scheme and, through them, those of their families and even their whole communities.
And all the time I was amassing a huge portfolio of colours, designs, patterns, ideas and contacts, ready for the day when I would finally go home for good to Halfhidden, the small village in west Lancashire where I grew up, and set up my own business selling retro-inspired clothes.by
Izzy has broken off her engagement to her feckless fiancée Kieran and returned to her childhood home – the sleepy village of Halfhidden.
She soon realizes that life in the village is anything but peaceful – for one thing she’s living with her mad aunt Debo and her pack of dogs, and for another, Izzy has a lot of unanswered questions.
When she was a teenager, Izzy was involved in a terrible accident, involving various inhabitants of Halfhidden. As she sets out to discover what actually happened on the night of the accident, she realizes that her painful past is actually standing in the way of her future happiness. So when a handsome stranger comes to Halfhidden will she let love back into her life?
I have loved Trisha’s previous novels and I was excited to receive a review copy of her new novel, Creature Comforts. I always find a warmth and humour in Trisha’s novels and this one was no exception.
Izzy is a lovely character and I liked her from the beginning. She has a relatable quality to her and I wanted her to be OK throughout the course of the book. She simply wants to get on with her life and the only way she can do this is to find out what happened the night of the accident she was involved in when she was sixteen. She is a lovely girl but is not someone who is going to be walked over and I loved this about her.
The other characters are endearing. I loved Debo and Judy and I loved Lulu and Cameron together. I did not warm to Dan or Kieran at all but I think that was the point. Rufus was a great character and I knew from the beginning that he wasn’t going to be what he seemed or as horrible as people made out. I felt quite sorry for him actually – with all of the things he was having to deal with.by