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Welcome, Kate G. Smith

Can I offer you a drink? Tea? Wine?

Hi Suzan, thanks so much for welcoming me to your blog, it’s lovely to be here. I shall have a cup of tea please, or a can of Irn Bru if you’ve got one?!

*Hands Kate an Irn Bru*

A huge congratulations for both of your books being nominated for the Romantic Novelists’ Association (RNA) Joan Hessayon Award. How does it feel? (Readers: I will post the link to the Bookseller at the end of this interview.)

I am so excited to be nominated for the Joan Hessayon Award. The Romantic Novelists’ Association have been pivotal in my career as an author. I can honestly say I don’t think I’d be here without them. My readers’ report for You’ve Got Mail was so positive and supportive and made me realise that I could write and that I was ready to submit to agents and publishers. It’s a brilliant organisation and I’d urge any budding romance authors to join the New Writer’s Scheme.

In one paragraph can you tell me about yourself?

I am a writer of uplifting romantic fiction and an occupational therapist working in social services. I live in the most wonderful city of Norwich with my daughter and our elderly cat. You can find me either tapping away at my keyboard, reading, whisking something up in my KitchenAid, or painting wildflowers. I also love to immerse myself in a bit of PS5 when I have any spare time, particularly scary games that have me switching the hallway light on at night time!

I’m currently reading The Love Note and like your voice.

Yay! Thanks so much, I’m glad you’re enjoying it. I feel like my voice has developed over the five years I have been writing seriously. Of course, all the characters will have their own voices but the constant voice that runs through the book is just me (probably quite sarcastic!)

How did you come up with the story?

The story for The Wedding Dress came to me when I was scrolling Twitter and I saw a thread about a missing wedding dress. An idea sparked in my head: where was this dress? Why was it missing? Maybe it was missing for a reason. Maybe it had been hidden away. And the story kind of grew from there.

I get a lot of my ideas from the world around me and I always make sure I give myself this creative time

How did you make your characters relatable?

Aw thank you, I try! I use a lot of personal experience—not exact experience or people, of course, but the feeling I get when I’m with friends or going through something sad. I always try to make my main characters people that my readers will fall in love with. A little bit flawed, because nobody is perfect (Henry Cavill notwithstanding) and characters with good hearts. And if they have a good heart then I think that readers can learn to love their flaws too.

I also love the side characters, who I go a little off piste with sometimes because there’s nothing better than a quirky best friend or a beast of a mother when it comes to thinking up great scenes.

Are you a planner or panster?

I used to be very much a panster. I’d sit at my keyboard and see where the day took me. Now I do a bit of both. I have a rough outline, an A to B, but I’m not always sure how I’ll get there. I often find that my characters, who I know inside out before I start, lead the way. In fact, the twist in The Wedding Dress was a complete surprise to me when it happened, because it was character led!

Do you have any tips for aspiring writers?

Write! No matter what you think about what you’re writing, just keep going until it’s finished. And don’t expect to be great at it from the get-go. We wouldn’t sit down at a piano and immediately expect to play Beethoven’s Fifth, so why should writing be any different. We get better with practice (though the self-doubt never goes away!)

Also read as much and as widely as you can.

What is your writing routine?

I write better first thing in the morning; it feels like the words come easier and more naturally then. However, as an OT working on the front-line and a single mum, that’s easier said than done! So if I can’t get my words down first thing in the morning (and I mean when I get up at 6.30, I don’t get up at 5 specifically to write!) then I will make myself write in the evening when everything is done and my daughter is in bed, but this feels like a slog.

I always try to write at least 1000 words a day when I’m in the writing stage of a new book.

Do you have an editing process?

Does crying into a bowl of Coco Pops count?

No, actually sometimes I can enjoy the editing process, especially the first round of edits when a book is newly finished. I love reading over what I have written, because immediately prior to this is when I’m at that stage of hating all the words, it makes the book come back to life for me. I will give it a once over and amend any glaring plot points and blank pages where I’ve helpfully written something like make this weep worthy romantic. Then the next round of edits I normally do character by characters, starting with the side characters first, to make sure they have a good story each. And this takes a bit of time as I do as many edits as there are characters. Then one final big prose edit before sending it to my agent. Phew!

Then there are the edits my agent sends me, the edits my publishers send me, and copy and line edits (which is when I break out the Coco Pops!)

Edits from agent and publisher. Here, you need a box of Coco Pops. In fact you need two, one for each.

Haha, yep! It does feel like that sometimes. But I’m very lucky to have the best agent ever!!! She totally understands my writing and my voice and adds plot points that really enhance my work. The same can be said for the editor I work with at Orion Dash, she’s so on the ball with her suggestions. So even if I have to eat my way through bowls of chocolaty cereal to get there, all the edits make my books better for my readers. 

Where can people find you on the internet?

Facebook: http://www.facebook.com/kategsmithauthor

Twitter: http://www.twitter.com/writingittoday

Insta: http://www.instagram.com/writingittoday

Is there anything else you would like to share with your readers?

A massive thank you to everyone who has taken the time to read, review, talk about, share, or sing about my books. I appreciate every single one of you and I hope that I can bring you more books to enjoy.

If you have read either You’ve Got Mail or The Love Note an Amazon review is so helpful as it does something to their algorithms that I don’t really understand but it makes the publishers smile. So please review if you would like to.

Thanks again Suzan for having me on your blog. x

You’re very welcome x

Dear Readers, If you would like to have a look at and/or purchase Kate’s books please click on this link https://www.amazon.co.uk/Kate-G-Smith/e/B08WLZ5MQW?ref=dbs_a_def_rwt_hsch_vu00_tkin_p1_i0

Orion Dash does double on RNA Joan Hessayon Award shortlist

https://www.thebookseller.com/news/orion-dash-gets-double-listing-rna-new-writing-award-1277826

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Welcome, Sue Moorcroft…

Thank you for taking the time to talk to me today, despite recovering from Covid. (Dear Readers, please note that Sue and I did not meet up for this interview.)

Can I offer you a drink? Tea? Wine?

I’m right off tea at the moment! I love it, usually, but Covid seems to have changed it. I’ll have a nice glass of chilled white wine, please.

*Hands Sue chilled wine*

Congratulations in having a book out this Thursday. I just love this cover. In fact, I like all your covers. I hope you’ll be well enough to celebrate on the day of publication. How many books is this now?

It’s a tricky question. Nineteen novels and a writing guide is the cautious answer but A Home in the Sun is a relaunch of my very first novel, Uphill All the Way; Family Matters was a hardback that was rewritten as Want to Know a Secret? in paperback and ebooks and I have a few short ebooks that began life as serials and then went on to large print. I don’t count the serials in the nineteen, nor count a book again when it comes out in a different guise, even though there are actually two editions on my shelf.

Many readers say that they’d like to write a book but don’t where to start. I say that their first book doesn’t need to be a full novel. It can be an article for a magazine, a novella or of course, if they want to write a full novel then go ahead. Not everyone plans at the beginning of their work and here Sue will tell us how she gets an idea to a finished full novel.

I agree with you. After two awful novels that publishers couldn’t return to me fast enough, I aimed at short stories for magazines. I sold the first in 1996 and had placed eighty-seven before I sold a novel – what is now A Home in the Sun. I’d also sold a serial and some writing ‘how-to’. My rule was that if it earned money and was connected with writing, I’d do it. It’s actually been a great pleasure to rework my first published novel. The story is the same as it was and I still like it but I had the opportunity to make a structural change to the beginning and edit it in line with my current writing capabilities.

Where did the idea for this book come from?

I was on holiday in Malta when I saw a guy leaving for work by climbing down the balconies of his apartment block to the street and decided he had to go in a book. I was also reflecting on how much I’d hated leaving Malta as a child and how it would be as an adult. I then read an article in the Times of Malta about there being no divorce in Malta (then) and how it left people in separation limbo. I put those things together. Divorce in Malta is now legal but as the book is set 2000-2005, that doesn’t matter.

One of the army quarters in Malta Sue lived in as a child.

How did you know that this idea would have potential for a full novel?

It was actually the eighth novel I’d written so I was getting the hang of it! Later, I was able to go back and sell three of the earlier ones, after further work. Another became a serial. Publishing can be a funny game but it pays not to throw anything away.

Do you write to a specific wordcount? If you do, how do you know you will able to write to that whilst keeping to the story?

I think there’s a lot of myths surrounding word count. Coming from a background of short stories for magazines, where you’re given a word count and expected to make it work, it’s not that hard. I have a feel for how much conflict and how many goals I need for the two main characters and if I’m falling short I can explore one a little more deeply and if I’m coming up long I can edit down. The latter is my norm. I’m contracted for 95,000-100,000 and my first draft is generally around 110,000. I rip it down in my next draft, the one I send my editor. Then she does the structural edit, which invariably calls for additions rather than subtractions, so I have to tighten again. I always get anxious at the end of the rough draft and think I’m going to mess it up but it’s like a lump of clay. All the material is there. I just have to mould it into the shape I want.

Do you write profiles for all your characters or just the main ones?

Main. I like to know a lot about their conflicts and goals and their lives till now. I don’t feel characters are born on page 1 and when I know who they are already, I know how they’ll react to what I throw at them. I also like to know what other characters think of them. In real life, my husband, son and brothers will each know different versions of me and the Sue my mum knew was different again. I reflect this in my writing.

Do you make up images of your characters or get photographs from the net?

Some of each. I don’t normally resort to photos unless the mental image is hard to keep still in my imagination. I like to know hair and eye colour, general stature, whether hair is curly or straight or if someone has a particularly attractive feature, like a smile.

Do all of your characters have goals to achieve?

Yes, I think so, even if the goal is known to me but not to them. In A Home in the Sun, for example, Judith returns to the UK because she feels there’s nothing left for her in Malta after Giorgio’s accident. However, she immediately begins putting her life in order and adapting to being back in the UK. She worries about her family and wants to help. She also wants her house back, which is tricky because her old school crush is her tenant and doesn’t feel like giving the house up till he has to. Sub-consciously, Judith’s seeking a new status quo but consciously she thinks she’s drifting. If I can give characters goals that conflict with the aims of a different character, so much the better, so at the end Judith can move back to Malta … but not with Adam. What’s she going to do?

At what point do you visit the place in the book?

In normal times, I visit Malta several times a year. It has always been ‘home’ to me.

Sue and her brothers in a different army quarter in Malta.

If the setting is Italy or France, for example, I’ll try and visit early in the process and maybe later, too. All very tricky in Covid times, which is why my earlier book this year was set where I’d set a book before, Umbria in Italy, and next summer’s book be set in France, as Just for the Holidays was. I already have loads of research pix, as well as my memory bank.

How do you build a plot?

I rely on what I call ‘my plotty head’. I give it material in the form of conflicts and goals that interest me and let it begin to weave. I’ve learned to rely on it quite a lot. It likes help from a notebook and pen where I ‘think aloud’ onto the page. Logic plays a big part, too, because I believe everything’s included for a reason, in fiction. If something is part of the story then it has to earn its place. It took me a while to learn that.

Do you use a white board, post it notes, planning apps e.g. Scrivener?

It varies book to book but I’ve never used Scrivener or similar. I get bored by the idea of learning to use software and when I’m planning I do like good old paper and pen, whether that’s on cards or stickies, a notebook or just a big sheet of paper. Maybe I’m missing something good but paper works for me.

At what point do you know when its time to start writing the book?

When Chapter One wants to be written and I don’t want it to escape. I love beginning a book. It’s like being on the starting grid of a Formula One race – everything is possible and you haven’t gone off at the first corner.

Do you write the first chapter then the next and the next or write the beginning and the end and fill in the middle?

Mostly, I write in order, but if a scene or chapter is pulling at me I write it in note form. I find the disadvantage of that is that by the time it falls into place it’s probably wrong. I often put thoughts at the foot of my manuscript and review them periodically to see whether it’s time to pull them in or time to delete them.

My last question: where can readers find you on social media?

Website [www.suemoorcroft.com]

Blog [http://suemoorcroft.wordpress.com]

Facebook profile [Sue.Moorcroft.3]

Facebook author page [https://www.facebook.com/SueMoorcroftAuthor

Twitter  [@suemoorcroft]

Instagram [https://www.instagram.com/suemoorcroftauthor/] @SueMoorcroftAuthor

LinkedIn [https://www.linkedin.com/in/suemoorcroft]

or you can just use my Link Tree linktr.ee/SueMoorcroft

Thank you, Sue. I’m now off to pre order my copy.

Thank you very much! It’s been a pleasure to chat to you, Suzan. Thanks for inviting me.

This title will be released this Thursday, 19th August and available in #paperback #ebook #audio.

Pre order now:
https://www.amazon.co.uk/Home-Sun-Sue-Moorcroft-ebook/dp/B08TG2171R/ref=sr_1_1?crid=10EG856Z82ROJ&dchild=1&keywords=sue+moorcroft&qid=1628774209&s=books&sprefix=sue+moor%2Cstripbooks%2C158&sr=1-1


If you would like to have a look at and/or purchase any of Sue’s books please click on this link https://www.amazon.co.uk/s?k=sue+moorcroft&i=stripbooks&crid=10EG856Z82ROJ&sprefix=sue+moor%2Cstripbooks%2C158&ref=nb_sb_ss_ts-doa-p_1_8

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Beta readers

My last blog was on Finished writing first draft. What next? And today I want to talk about beta readers and to answer some questions I am sometimes asked.

What is a beta reader?

‘An alpha reader or beta reader (also spelled alphareader / betareader, or shortened to alpha / beta), also pre-reader or critiquer, is a non-professional reader who reads a written work, generally fiction, with the intent of looking over the material to find and improve elements such as grammar and spelling, as well as suggestions to improve the story, its characters, or its setting. Beta reading is typically done before the story is released for public consumption.[1] Beta readers are not explicitly proofreaders or editors, but can serve in that context.

Elements highlighted by beta readers encompass things such as plot holes, problems with continuity, characterisation or believability; in fiction and non-fiction, the beta might also assist the author with fact-checking.2]’  

Source: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Beta_reader  (June2015)

I have a few beta readers, some for my fiction and some for my non-fiction. It is important to get the right beta readers for the job. I say ‘job’, but it’s not paid and I don’t give them a contract. Although I do give them a list of open-ended questions to answer. If I didn’t they could come back and say, ‘I enjoyed reading it’ or ‘It’s fine’. But how does that help me, the writer? It doesn’t.

Do I need one?

It is a good idea to have more than one. I have four beta readers for each genre I write. For some of my writing I have a first beta read and a final beta read.

Have you got people who can give you objective and constructive feedback? Some people think that their partner or friend can be a beta reader and some can, but be aware that some may fall into the category of the ‘I enjoyed reading it’ brigade.

How do I get one?

As a writer you will have a platform whether it be a Blog, Facebook or Twitter account, or all three. (And if you haven’t got any of these you may consider having at least one.) Once you have one or more of these you can give a call out for some beta readers.

What skills do I want in a beta reader?

A reader who normally reads the genre you are writing

Someone who can give helpful objective criticism

Someone who says they can meet your deadline, and does (I usually give a two week deadline)

If you are writing about a different country try and get a beta reader from that country

Someone who has the knowledge required e.g. when I write my non-fiction this is usually workbooks for staff who work in social care so my Beta readers are staff and Managers who work in this field.

When I write fiction e.g. My Chatty Cat series my beta readers are cat lovers and when I write romance my beta readers are readers of romance. Along with choosing beta readers with the knowledge you also want them to have a good degree of skills in grammar, plotting etc.

What do I give to my Beta Readers?

Be up front about what you want the beta reader to do/to look for

How will the beta readers receive your work email, hard copy? Can they write on the hard copy? Do you have a preference on the pen colour they should use? If it’s on email do you want them to use ‘track changes’?

When you want the work returned.

What do I do when they give me their feedback and comments?  

The feedback they give you will be constructive advice and you should not see it as criticism but see it as they are helping you with your writing If they didn’t give you this type of feedback then they are not doing their job right.

Plan some time to sit and relax and read through their comments and feedback.

Don’t forget to make contact with your Beta Readers and thank them.

Should I acknowledge Beta readers in my book?

Some authors do and some don’t. Beta readers play an important part in a writer’s life and I name them and thank them in my book for their support. I also send them a personalised signed copy of the book.

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The Waveney Author Group

All working to write and publish individual books by 10th July.

All working to write and publish individual books by 10th July.

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We [Just Write It!] held our first writing workshop this Autumn and were delighted to see so many people, all enthusiastic and wanting to write. 

  20141122_105639                                                                                                     20141123_125122

 

 

 

 

 

The workshops included: Getting started, Planning, Researching, Editing,  Publishing and Marketing. I joined authors/tutors: Ann Bowyer, Glynis Smy, Jayne-Marie Barker, Jo Wilde and Rosy Thornton.

Jayne Marie Barker 

Rosy Thornton Jo and Denise

Feedback …

“I had a great time with some great people. Thank you for inspiring me to ‘Just Write It!”

“Thank you for the uplifting weekend. I take away renewed interest. These workshops have geed me up to move on with my work.”

“A lovely and inspirational weekend. It has been great to get to know more like-minded people and share time and ideas.”

“Thank you so much – I feel more alive than I have felt in months.”

“I absolutely loved this experience.”

“Thank you for a great weekend. I have enjoyed meeting other would-be authors and I feel truly empowered to write my book/s.”

Watching the fox and ducks

Watching the fox and the ducks tease each other.

20141122_110537                                                                                   Ann Bowyer and writersGlynis and Jo

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Some of the group have made a commitment to write and self publish a book [small, medium or large] by July 10th 2015. This group call themselves ‘Waveney Author Group’ [WAG] and will hold monthly meetings to support each other with their writing projects. I have agreed to be part of this WAG group and look forward to meeting up with the group in January 2015.

Wag

Just Write It offers a variety of writing workshops-

Getting Started and Planning Fridays

Editing and Different Styles of Publishing Saturdays

Pitching to Publishers/Agent and Marketing Sundays

If you would like more information on our writing workshops please click www.justwriteitworkshops.com

SAMSUNG CAMERA PICTURES

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We held our first writing shop this Autumn and was delighted to see so many people, all enthusiastic and wanting to write.                                      20141122_105639     Writers in the sunshine

Our workshops included: Getting started . Planning . Researching . Editing . Publishing and Marketing. We would like to give a big thank you to our tutors who helped make this such a success: Ann Bowyer, Glynis Smy, Jayne-Marie Barker, Jo Wilde, Rosy Thornton and Suzan Collins.

Jayne Marie Barker      Rosy Thornton Jo and Denise

Feedback …

“I had a great time with some great people. Thank you for inspiring me to ‘Just Write It!”

“Thank you for the uplifting weekend. I take away renewed interest. These workshops have geed me up to move on with my work.”

“A lovely and inspirational weekend. It has been great to get to know more like-minded people and share time and ideas.”

“Thank you so much – I feel more alive than I have felt in months.”

“I absolutely loved this experience.”

“Thank you for a great weekend. I have enjoyed meeting other would-be authors and I feel truly empowered to write my book/s.”

Watching the fox and ducks

                                      Watching the fox and the ducks tease each other.

20141122_110537       Ann Bowyer and writersGlynis and Jo

Some of the group have made a commitment to write and self publish a book [small, medium or large] by July 10th 2015. This group call themselves ‘Waveney Author Group’ [WAG] and will hold monthly meetings to support each other with their writing projects. We look forward to catching up with them in January 2015.

Wag

Just Write It offers a variety of writing workshops-

Getting Started and Planning Fridays

Editing and Different Styles of Publishing Saturdays

Pitching to Publishers/Agent and Marketing Sundays

If you would like more information on our writing workshops please click www.justwriteitworkshops.com

SAMSUNG CAMERA PICTURES

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Just Write It! offers writing workshops in beautiful Suffolk surroundings.

The workshops will be taking place in the beautiful surroundings of Gunton Hall Coastal Village, where participants will enjoy the 50 acres of gardens and secluded woodland, and will be able to draw inspiration from walks around the fresh water lake or in the walled garden.Walled Garden 1

The workshops are facilitated by published authors who are experienced and successful, and who are delighted to be passing on their skills and knowledge. The whole writing journey from idea to printed page is covered, and will include getting started, planning, researching, persevering, editing, finishing, publishing and marketing.

The workshops run from Friday 21st November to Monday 24th November.  It’s possible to book a single day, or sign up for all four.  Prices start from as little as £12 for a day, and there’s a discount for anyone signing up for the four days.  But… there are only a few places left!

The atmosphere at Gunton Hall Coastal Village is ideal for new writers who want support and have questions, or more experienced authors who would like time free from distractions to finish that novel or biography. Participants are free to join in any of the writing workshops, and/or join other writers for meal times and optional readings.  There will also be the entertainment in the evenings for those who would like to stay. There will be time in between workshops to write, think, walk or swim.

About the featured authors:

Ann Bowyer

Ann Bowyer – completed her first novel at fifteen, and now lives and writes in Norfolk.

 

 

Glynis

 

Glynis Smy – shortlisted for The Festival of Romance New Talent Award 2014.

 

Jayne~Marie Barker 1

Jayne-Marie Barker – author of the DCI Allen series of crime novels.

 

Rosy Thornton

 

Rosy Thornton – winner of the fiction prize at the 2012 East Anglian Book Awards.

 

4a57a4e7334c0a20e32f77.L._V388702702_SY470_

Suzan Collins – shortlisted for The People’s Book Prize 2014.

 

Yvonne Newbold

 

Yvonne Newbold – author of “The Special Parent’s Handbook”.

 

Please see website for further details www.justwriteitworkshops.com

For accommodation:

http://www.warnerleisurehotels.co.uk/hotels/gunton-hall-holiday-village/overview/

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We bring people together in beautiful surroundings to write, think, discuss, listen and gain knowledge.

We have had an amazing response to our November writing workshops and now only have a handful of spaces left, so book your place today!  www.justwriteitworkshops.com

Flyer for Nov workshop~FINAL

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Interesting writing workshops coming up this month. For anyone looking for tips on #Planning  #Researching #Editing  #Publishing #Marketing. With 6 published and successful authors. FEW PLACES LEFT, BOOK NOW! http://justwriteit1.wordpress.com/

Flyer for Nov workshop~FINAL

 

 

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I am delighted that author Rosy Thornton will be  talking about pitching to agents at the Just Write It! Workshops in Lowestoft this month.

Rosy Thornton

These workshops run from Friday 21st November to Monday 24th November.  It’s possible to book a single day, or sign up for all four.  Prices start from as little as £12 for a day, and there’s a discount for anyone signing up for the whole course. ONLY A FEW PLACES LEFT!

The whole four days will include: getting started, planning, researching, persevering, editing, finishing, publishing and marketing.

Please see website for further details. http://www.justwriteitworkshops.com/

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