Sue Moorcroft - Sue's Blog

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06/02/2016: Hello!

It has been a while since I last sent out a newsletter. I prepared one just before Christmas, and then had trouble with the software! Then I became involved in my edits for a book, then edits for the next book ... So I got a bit behind. :-)

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06/02/2016: Lovely lunch

Before Christmas, my lovely new publishers, the Avon team from HarperCollins, took me and my agent to lunch. It was more a social event than a business meeting, although we did squeeze in a little chat about how excited we all are to see my first Avon heroine, Ava, hit the shelves in autumn 2016. Other subjects covered included what we’d be reading over Christmas, baking, helicopters, dancing, and the private lives of elephants. We did agree that it would be nice for Ava’s book to have a title, but we’re not quite there, yet. I formally signed my contract and my agent bought me champagne. :-)

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06/02/2016: Competion winner

I’ve also run a couple of competitions, one for readers of my newsletter and one for members of my street team. I asked both winners if they’d kindly do a mini interview for the newsletter, so here they are.

This month: Morton, winner of the Newsletter competition:

I live in Worcestershire with husband, little son and Lily the Maltese. Big son lives nearby with his lovely girlfriend. An aspiring author and member of the RNA New Writers’ Scheme, I have spent the last few years exploring creative writing. I have had some successes with competitions and always enjoy my yearly NaNoWriMo writing challenge. This year I wrote a civil war novel. I have also written several contemporary novels and a time slip.

I am planning a family Christmas Day and Boxing Day. My husband works abroad, so it is nice to just be home as a family unit.

My aim for 2016 is to finally send my writing out into the world. I sometimes make resolutions at New Year. The one I have successfully kept for two years running is to keep a happiness jar – a jar I which you place a note about anything that makes you happy during the year.

My favourite colour is turquoise.

My favourite movie is The Holiday.

My favourite holiday in the UK is at Bamburgh or Woolacombe. Abroad would be Rome or the Bahamas.

My favourite food is chocolate.

My favourite drink sparkling water or a latte.

My favourite Sue Moorcroft book is Starting Over, although have read them all and also like The Wedding Proposal and Is This Love. However, I will always be in love with Ratty from Starting Over.

Lots of people seem to have a thing about Ratty. He remains my most popular hero and has been interviewed and even received his own fan mail. He is so popular that Choc Lit specifically asked me to write him into Dream a Little Dream. I meant to bring him into the wedding reception of Cleo and Justin but, sadly, he didn’t want to come on stage. I think it must have been because there was no real role for him. When my characters try to tell me something, I always listen!

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06/02/2016: Hoooooeeee Helicopter!

I have had such a fantastic helicopter experience! The pilot who’s helping me research the second book in my contract, presently entitled 'Just for the Holidays', took me on a flight experience and performed autorotations to show me what Ronan, my hero, would have experienced. For the uninitiated, an autorotation is what you do when your engine cuts out in midair. It’s amazing how quickly you can get down from 2000 feet and yet land safely. You can read more about in on my blog at https://suemoorcroft.wordpress.com/2015/12/05/research-pretend-crash-a-helicopter/. FYI, most people on the Facebook thread about this experience thought I was mad to go up in a helicopter and pretend to crash. But I LOVED it.

Not much else to say, this time, but welcome to new subscribers, and I hope to soon have the cover of the new book to share with you!

Best wishes,
Sue

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14/10/2015: Today's newsletter brings you:

News of my new publishing deal and of a chance to win a silver charm, and a full round up of the events on my calender.

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14/10/2015: A new publishing deal!

I'm truly thrilled to be able to announce that my next two books will be published by Avon UK, a division of HarperCollins. The first, which we're just calling 'Ava' until a suitably Christmassy title has been decided upon, is scheduled for September 2016 publication. It's the story of Ava Blissham, whose couture millinery business, 'Ava Bliss Millinery', isn't going well. Her ex-boyfriend is threatening her with revenge porn, her mum and dad have retired to France so she's feeling a little unloved, it's Christmas ... and Ava doesn't like Christmas. Sam Jermyn has all the trappings of success, but his lovely mum, Wendy, is in the unenviable position of having had surgery and knowing her chemotherapy will begin when the Christmas season is over. Sam's giving Wendy Christmas, never having given anybody Christmas in his life before. He decides that he'll give her something really memorable and luxurious, and decides upon a bespoke hat.

The second book is the one I'm writing and is scheduled for summer 2017. It has the working title 'Just for the Holidays' and it's about Leah Beaumont who has avoided the roles of mother and wife, ending up looking after her sister Michele's husband (in fact, very-recently-ex-husband) and children in France. Ronan Shea is a helicopter pilot nursing his injuries from a forced landing and being bewildered by his 13-year-old goth son, Curtis.

Here's the press release from the Bookseller:

'SUE MOORCROFT SIGNS WITH AVON

Avon has won two new novels from Sue Moorcroft at auction. UK & Commonwealth rights were bought from Juliet Pickering at Blake Friedmann Agency.

Publishing Director Eleanor Dryden says: "I am thrilled to welcome Sue Moorcroft to Avon. She is a wonderfully warm and witty writer with a great track record and masses of fans and she creates very special characters who stay with you. I fell for Ava in the first novel wholeheartedly on my first read. Christmas 2016 can't come round fast enough!"

Sue Moorcroft says: "I'm excited to be joining Avon, with their reputation for successfully publishing fiction to extensive audiences. Eleanor and her team impressed me with their enthusiasm and drive, their ideas and the welcome they offered to me in my new home."

Juliet Pickering says: "Sue's novels, with their smart, funny characters and very fresh, modern dilemmas, are perfectly matched with the energetic, ambitious team at Avon. We're very excited to embark on this new relationship, and see Sue published at the level she thoroughly deserves. Roll on Christmas 2016!"

The first novel will publish for Christmas 2016 with the second novel planned as a summer read in 2017.'

Ooh, exciting!

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14/10/2015: Win a silver charm!

To celebrate my lovely new deal I'm running a competition. If you'd like your name to be put in the draw to win this sweet little silver filigree Maltese Cross charm suitable for a bracelet, phone case, bag etc, just post on Twitter or write a status update on Facebook, before midnight on 28th October 2015, stating your favourite of my books, using the words 'My favourite Sue Moorcroft book is ...' and the hashtag ‪#‎readSueMoorcroft‬. If you want to add why that's your favourite book, that would be even better. I'll check out the hashtag at the close of the competition, put the names in a hat and draw the winner!

The hashtag's essential! I won't find your entry otherwise.

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14/10/2015: Events, Courses and Workshops

And, to round off, here's my current list of events:

17 OCTOBER 2015, 10.00am-4.00pm - Derby Writers' Day, the QUAD, Derby. A fantastic a range of panels, interviews, booksales and much more. Two panels featuring Sue Moorcroft: Women's Fiction, Workshops and Teaching. To book: http://www.derbyquad.co.uk/special-event/derby-writers-day

19 OCTOBER 2015, 2.00pm-3.00pm - Jeremy Sallis's Lunchtime Live! radio show, BBC Radio Cambridgeshire. Sue will be a guest on Jeremy Sallis's arts and culture slot, chatting about relationships amongst mature people. Listen in for news about Sue's writing, too! 95.7 MHz (Peterborough), 96.0 MHz (Cambridge) RDS: BBC CAMB, 1026 kHz (AM), DAB

12 FEBRUARY 2016, 10.30am-4.30pm - Writing Romantic Fiction workshop, Writing School, Nottingham. A fun, interactive one-day course, studying the romantic fiction genre and arming participants with useful writing and storytelling techniques to write romantic fiction of their own, with a discussion on how to sell work, or self-publish. Book: http://www.writingeastmidlands.co.uk/courses/writing-romantic-fiction/#post_content.

18 FEBRUARY 2016, 10.00-4.30, 'Write and Sell Your Novel' with romantic novelists Sue Moorcroft and Nikki Moore, Purbeck Literary Festival. Further details TBA.

13-20 JULY 2016 - Great Writing. One-week course at the fabulous Arte Umbria: fiction and/or autobiography. Group tutorials, private writing time and one-to-ones. Gorgeous venue with fabulous hospitality. Book: www.arteumbria.com

Thanks for reading my newsletter, good luck with entering the competition (don't forget the #readSueMoorcroft hashtag) and I hope that wherever you are you're having a lovely day.

Sue :-)

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15/08/2015: The Wedding Proposal - Kobo promo!

Sorry to send you another newsletter but I was notified almost as I pressed 'send' on the last one that The Wedding Proposal is to be £1.99/$2.99 on Kobo until Monday!

https://store.kobobooks.com/en-US/ebook/the-wedding-proposal-choc-lit

Have a happy weekend! :-)
Sue

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13/08/2015: Writing East Midlands Romantic Fiction course

I'm looking forward to running a one-day Writing Romantic Fiction course on 12 February 2016 at the Writing School Nottingham, run by Writing East Midlands. I've even made it onto the front of WEM's Nottingham brochure. I'm a cover girl!

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13/08/2015: Events, Courses and Workshops

26 SEPTEMBER 2015 - Get Writing Conference, West Herts College, Watford. Workshop: Matchmaking Heroes and Heroines. Book: < href="http://verulamwriterscircle.org.uk/news/137-get-writing-2015" target="_blank">verulamwriterscircle.org.uk/news/137-get-writing-2015

2 OCTOBER 2015, 7pm - Hunts and Peterborough WI Literary Reception, 6a Walden Road, Huntingdon, PE29 3AZ. Speaker.

17 October 2015 – Derby Writers' Conference. Member of two panels, Women's Fiction, and Workshops and Teaching. Booking details to be announced.

12 FEBRUARY 2016, 10.30am-4.30pm - Writing Romantic Fiction workshop, Writing School, Nottingham. A fun, interactive one-day course, studying the romantic fiction genre and arming participants with useful writing and storytelling techniques to write romantic fiction of their own, with a discussion on how to sell work, or self-publish. Book: www.writingeastmidlands.co.uk/courses/writing-romantic-fiction/#post_content.

13-20 JULY 2016 - Great Writing. One-week course at the fabulous Arte Umbria: fiction and/or autobiography. Group tutorials, private writing time and one-to-ones. Gorgeous venue with fabulous hospitality. Book: www.arteumbria.com

Thanks for reading - enjoy the rest of the summer!

Sue

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13/08/2015: Malta and France

I love the summer – when we get sunshine, that is. Maybe it's something to do with being brought up in a hot country but when the sun beams on me, it raises my mood.

I'm about one-quarter of the way into the first draft of a new novel, currently titled Just for the Holidays, set in summertime France. It ‘puts me there' to sit in a patch of sunlight streaming through my study window. And soon I really will be ‘there' as I'm travelling to Strasbourg for a four-day research trip. Happily for me, I have a lovely friend living in the Alsace region, and she's offered me hospitality and to show me around. This makes my research exceptionally easy and enjoyable!

And, talking about hot countries, as many of you know, I have a favourite – Malta, where I spent much of my childhood. I'll be returning there in September and may even be able to combine a little business with pleasure, as I've been approached by the Malta Tourism Authority to do something with them. Fingers crossed.

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13/08/2015: Arte Umbria

Welcome to everyone who has signed up for the newsletter in the last few weeks. It's lovely to have you aboard. I'm thrilled by how easy my lovely new website makes the sign up.
I had the most fantastic week in Italy, running a course for Arte Umbria. There's something about a classroom halfway up a mountain with views over the tree-clothed slopes.
The weather was hot, with a few dramatic storms to calm things, but there's plenty of shade on the terrace and in the house and grounds. And plenty of places to write, in company or alone.
Whether you're writing a novel, novella, short story or serial, the course aims to help you focus on your story telling and writing techniques via interesting and interactive workshops, tutorials, tutor review, peer review. Private writing time and one-to-ones make for a varied and stimulating week.
I love tailoring the course around its participants, meeting individual as well as group needs, encouraging the flexing of writing muscles and investigation of the world of publishing.
From 2016, we're opening the week up to writers who might like to use the week as a retreat, too.
This year we went to Perugia for our day off. The hosts drove us to the bottom of the funicular railway that begins in the suburbs and we were carried through six stations to the city at the top, full of fascinating buildings, astonishing views, cafés and gelaterias. We watched a wedding, ate a fantastic lunch at a pavement café called Lunabar Ferrari (picked by me), and rounded out the afternoon in a bar overlooking the city walls.
If you fancy joining me next year, the course is already booking at www.arteumbria.com, 13-20 July 2016. You'll be welcome!

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13/08/2015: Arte Umbria

Welcome to everyone who has signed up for the newsletter in the last few weeks. It's lovely to have you aboard. I'm thrilled by how easy my lovely new website makes the sign up.
I had the most fantastic week in Italy, running a course for Arte Umbria. There's something about a classroom halfway up a mountain with views over the tree-clothed slopes.
The weather was hot, with a few dramatic storms to calm things, but there's plenty of shade on the terrace and in the house and grounds. And plenty of places to write, in company or alone.
Whether you're writing a novel, novella, short story or serial, the course aims to help you focus on your story telling and writing techniques via interesting and interactive workshops, tutorials, tutor review, peer review. Private writing time and one-to-ones make for a varied and stimulating week.
I love tailoring the course around its participants, meeting individual as well as group needs, encouraging the flexing of writing muscles and investigation of the world of publishing.
From 2016, we're opening the week up to writers who might like to use the week as a retreat, too.
This year we went to Perugia for our day off. The hosts drove us to the bottom of the funicular railway that begins in the suburbs and we were carried through six stations to the city at the top, full of fascinating buildings, astonishing views, cafés and gelaterias. We watched a wedding, ate a fantastic lunch at a pavement café called Lunabar Ferrari (picked by me), and rounded out the afternoon in a bar overlooking the city walls.
If you fancy joining me next year, the course is already booking at www.arteumbria.com, 13-20 July 2016. You'll be welcome!

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13/08/2015: My Weekly

Keep an eye on My Weekly later this month. My story Shane's Pride will include a giveaway – a competition you can enter to win a copy of Starting Over, the first of my Middledip books.

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13/08/2015: Writers' Summer School, Swanwick

I've just had a fantastic time running a short course on romantic fiction for Writers' Summer School, Swanwick. I'd never been to Swanwick, though I'd heard a lot about it. It was just as lovely as I'd hoped, full of friends old and new. www.swanwickwritersschool.org.uk

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30/06/2015: Brentwood Writers' Day and BBC Radio Northampton

What a great weekend!

On Saturday I was the speaker at the Brentwood Writers' Day. My thanks to the organising committee for making me so welcome, the lovely lunch, the comfortable venue; and to the group members for being so responsive and friendly. The morning session concerned 'Sue Moorcroft's Short Story Recipe', and in the afternoon we got more into the trickier bits of writing fiction. But, in response to questions, we also covered the admin and professional side of being a writer, how to submit to magazines, whether it was OK to chase a submission, and whether it's OK to harvest someone's kidney. (NB That last point was part of a discussion about plotting!) Finally, we had a Q&A panel and I was joined by fellow writers Frances Clamp, Patrick Forsyth and Sylvia Kent.

The photo shows me with Frances, who so ably chaired the day.

On Sunday it was off to lovely BBC Radio Northampton to go on air for a review of the newspapers. Chris stood in for usual presenter Helen Blaby and we had a great time discussing how much it costs to be a guest at a wedding (much more than I'd really considered), identity theft, and the BBC TV licence. The time whizzed by too quickly but my thanks to Chris, and his producer Stefan, for making it such a fun experience.

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28/05/2015: "How do you begin a book?"

Previous posts have concerned how I feel in the middle of a book, and at the end. Now seems a good time to cover how I begin, as I'm at that stage with 'Just for the Holidays'.

Beginning a book is a little like falling in love. I think of it when I should be thinking about something else, I don't hear everything that's said to me, I feel a little uncertain, a little apprehensive, a lot excited. What will happen? What if...?

Every book's different but here, loosely, is where and how a book begins:

Idea

Ideas come to me through reading or hearing something, thinking about my past, or just, apparently, out of the ether. If an idea sticks in my mind, my subconscious plays with it. Inconveniently, the ideas my subconscious likes often come halfway through another book, so I have to try and keep the new idea bubbling on the back burner.

'Just for the Holidays' originated from a story told to me over a meal. My friend's holiday with her sister had gone from bad to worse as the sister dropped bombshell after bombshell on her. I asked if I could use the idea, suitably modified, explored it a bit more, decided what would suit me and what would need to be changed, and in which sort of direction I'd take things.

Characters

My characters come to me early in the process. I begin with hero and heroine. My subconscious plays with them, too, and I find myself making decisions that I'm not completely aware of making.

For 'Just for the Holidays' I decided that Leah is, like me, a bit of a petrolhead. This is going to allow me to have some fun with the research, as she does track days and goes to motor sport events so, naturally, so will I have to! One big element to her character was established by the initial idea: Leah has chosen not to get married or have children. She's a free spirit and likes her life exactly as it is. I wanted her to have a cool job and found a suitable one, one most people wouldn't count as a job. Importantly, Leah has an older sister, Michele, who's quite different: a teacher, married with children. Between the different lifestyles of the two sisters lies a lot of emotion and conflict.

Ronan is a grounded helicopter pilot. I've tried to make him something else because I've written about helicopters once before but he came to me as a grounded helicopter pilot and my subconscious has turned obstinate about it. Again, research is a pleasure. And if anyone would like to take me up in a helicopter, please get in touch.

The work

Now comes the part where I take these few facts and develop something bigger. I create secondary characters to impact on the hero, the heroine and the plot. I give Ronan and Leah conflicts, I explore their lives, their histories, their goals. I mull over what's drawing them together and what will keep them apart. I look at them from the points of view of other characters – what does her sister think of Leah? What does Ronan think of her? What does her employer think of her? What does Leah think of him? What does his son think of him? etc etc. I feel this technique gives me properly rounded characters.

For some reason, I almost always plan on paper, with a pen. Maybe I think better with a pen in my hand. It's certainly not because I like handwriting, or that my handwriting is attractive. I'm now fortunate enough to have a second desk for when I'm writing by hand.
The second desk

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On the opposite wall is an area I can use to cover with sticky notes, if that's what seems a good idea at the time.
My planning wall with The Wedding Proposal's plot just beginning

My planning wall with an earlier book, The Wedding Proposal, just emerging

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Sometimes I simply write out my thoughts and ask myself questions. At other times I create plans. This usually happens when I have a central issue and I want to explore it. The next picture is of a successful plan. I began with my central issue and explored all the outcomes I could think of, with consequences.

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Not going quite so well, this time...

It began well. But I introduced a second issue that would impact on the first and found it wasn't working with the same logic and ease. Everything I thought of seemed to give rise to more and more to think of – hence the additional bits of paper stapled together as my exploration got too big for the page. Stuck, I paused for thought. Should I buy a new stationery tidy, now I have this second desk? Ooh, look, I didn't realise that my long-arm stapler could extend its reach just by moving something along a bit ... I clicked my pen and stared at the plan. By the end of the day all I had decided was that the second issue wasn't working.

During the evening, my subconscious kept drawing my attention away from the TV, my dinner, and the book I was reading, worrying at the second issue. Just as I was going to bed – bingo! I realised what was wrong with my issue (too close to something I'd used in another book) and what I could do to change it.

The important thing, to me, is that the plan did its job. Knowing when something isn't working is as important as knowing when it is.

So, back to my second desk, this afternoon, to work on secondary character bios, drawing all the many pieces of my jigsaw together. It will probably be a couple of weeks before I feel ready to type 'Chapter 1′ into a new Word document on my Mac. Me and my subconscious have a lot to do before that.

NB My subconscious isn't the only thing I listen to. Conscious thought does a lot of puzzling – and an agent and/or publisher might have some input, too.

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23/05/2015: #1 Bestseller in contemporary romance

The Wedding Proposal was selected for a UK Kindle Daily Deal promotion on Wednesday – lucky me! The promotion worked so brilliantly that The Wedding Proposal actually topped the Contemporary Romance chart the following day, climbing to #10 in the Kindle Paid Chart. Joy! So far as I know, this is the best Kindle chart position that any of my books has achieved, so I was doing a happy dance all day.

I'd never even noticed before that Amazon awards your book a pretty little ribbon if it's #1 in a chart but as soon as I was alerted I took the above screen shot to save the moment for posterity. (And to put on Facebook and Twitter and my blog.) The Wedding Proposal is a summer read, being the story of what happens when Lucas (who hates secrets) is stuck sharing a boat in Malta with Elle (who has a lot to hide) for the summer, and quite a few people told me they'd downloaded it ready for their holidays.


To add to the happiness of the day, the Summer Party of the Romantic Novelists' Association took place at the Royal Over-Seas League in the evening. I'm tired and have a sore throat, so I know I had a good time! Congratulations to all those who were contenders for the Joan Hessayon Award, especially Brigid Coady, who was the talented winner.

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15/05/2015: Sue's Dos and Don'ts for professional submission of work

During my years as a competition judge for the Writers' Forum Fiction Competition (now handed over to the fabulous Lorraine Mace), and as an editor of a couple of anthologies, I've encountered a some odd and off-putting ways of submitting work. Here are a few 'don'ts' compiled from that experience. Some of them might make you smile:

DON'T

  • Send with your submission extraneous additional material such as newspaper clippings, links to the newspaper stories that prompted your idea, photographs, drawings, or letters from other competitions proving that this story didn't win or letters from editors saying they like your work.
  • Ask for the material to be returned unless its the last copy on Earth and you will never have access to a printer for the rest of your life - especially if you don't include a stamped self-addressed envelope. Sorry if this sounds mean but it costs you postage and cost the judge or editor time in going to the postbox.
  • Send your story printed on the other side of old material, especially if you don't cross out said old material.
  • Send two different versions of the same story at the same time.
  • Send two identical versions of the same story, apart from the fact that they're printed in two different fonts. (I'm mystified by this one.)
  • Say that you decided not to pay for a critique available as part of the competition, but please could the judge tell you what's wrong with the story?
  • Send in original and irreplaceable material related to your story (such as a letter from a now-deceased famous person), which the competition judge or editor will feel morally obliged to ensure is returned to you safely.
  • Don't use a fancy or jokey font, or print in purple, or use orange paper.
  • Write or email to tell the judge or editor that they're wrong if they don't count your story as a success.
  • Write or email the judge or editor to tell them how to judge/edit properly. Especially if the letter or email is long.
I wouldn't categorise any of the above techniques as successful. Satisfactory submission is really simple:

DO
  • Follow the competition rules or submission guidelines. If you don't, you're wasting any entry fee or postage you may have paid, and your valuable time.
  • Learn about standard manuscript presentation and utilise it. There's information on the Manuscript Preparation tab of this blog if you're unsure. Poor presentation can detract from your work instead of allowing the judge or editor a pleasant reading experience.

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01/05/2015: Italy, the company of writers ... what's not to love? Visit Arte Umbria!

Although I work on my own mostly, and like it that way, sometimes I get the opportunity to work with other writers. I love their company and the feeling of being with people like myself, who live partly in the worlds of their imaginations.

Sharing the world another writer is creating, as they create it, is really exciting. I'm able to dip in and out of these worlds-in-progress whenever I run a workshop or share an ideas storm with a writing friend - but, once a year, I'm able to share a special experience, a writing ‘holiday', in a special place.

At Arte Umbria (www.arteumbria.com), halfway up an Italian mountain in beautiful Umbria, my classroom is a sunny/shady terrace with panoramic views. I'm able to tailor what I offer to the participants: workshops, one-to-one tutorials, mentoring, peer review, publishing insight and private writing time. Writers of all abilities and experiences from novices to second- or third-time novelists come on the holiday to progress their work, expand their knowledge, write, and leave the workaday world behind.

The Poggiolame Estate is wild and beautiful, full of places to walk. There's a swimming pool, places to write, and the house itself is 300 years old, furnished in a way that's somehow gracious and quirky. The food and wine is fabulous and the hosts, Sara and David, are welcoming. We only leave the estate to go on a couple of local excursions. As course leader I'm busy all day, but even I find time to write, without pesky domestic chores to bother me.

To find out more or to book, go to www.arteumbria.com.

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My Next Event

2017-08-12
Specialist course: Writing Popular Fiction

The Hayes Conference Centre, Swanwick, Alfreton, Derbyshire DE55 1AU
6 days
This year Sue will be joining Swanwick, Writers' Summer School for the entire six-day feast of writing and teaching a 4x1 hour course on Writing Popular Fiction
...More information...
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