Sunday, 29 November 2015

Return of the Christmas Spirit launch party - Competitions - open until Tue. Amazon vouchers and e-books to be won

Keeping it simple, no Rafflecopter, nothing. Simply leave a comment with your email address or Twitter handle, as well as your country, telling me what you'd do in each situation and I'll choose a winner from across the blog comments/twitter and Facebook on Tue for each comp.

Competition number one -
You win £5000 to spend on the Christmas of your dreams. What do you do?

Competition number two - By some twist of fate, you get cast as a character in a Christmas movie. Which movie would it be and who would you play?

Competition number three - For those of you who have ever spent Christmas away from home/your family, what were the high points and low points, and did you do it again?!  For those of you who haven’t, would you? Why/why not?

And here's the rest of the launch info again (the post below this one, but here it is again for your convenience!). Buy links also here!

Saturday, 28 November 2015

Return of the Christmas Spirit launch party!

It's here. Return of the Christmas Spirit - my fourth novel - is now live! I can scarcely believe it.

and you can buy it here:

So what's happening for the launch? On Sunday 29th November, there will be a marathon 12 hour launch party on Facebook. - party with me from 9am until 9pm GMT/until 4pm EST/1pm PST.
There'll be Christmas tunes including requests made by fans and followers. I'm still accepting requests, so leave me a comment here or on FB or Twitter (susan_buchanan) and I will try to include your song. Today we'll be talking about all things Christmas, so Christmas number ones, decorations, food and drink, what would make your Christmas, Christmas traditions, etc. There will be plenty of themed topics throughout the day, but do feel free to bring your own too! Just pop in for a chat and to share. Anyone attending the FB party will be entered into the ebook draw.

 Twitter - I'll be there periodically during the day, but the only dedicated event is between 3-4pm. Use hashtag #ROTCS to join in the fun. Or check my timeline at susan_buchanan. Anyone entering the Twitter party will be entered into the ebook draw.

So, what's happening? At both parties and here on the blog, I'm giving away 5 e-copies, yes, that's 5 copies, really, of each of my first two novels, Sign of the Times and The Dating Game to 10 lucky readers. One lucky person will also win £15 or $20 of Amazon vouchers.
But you have to be in it to win it, right?

So, how do you enter? There will be three competitions on Sunday 29th. To give everyone in the different time zones time to enter, I will leave the competitions open until Tue. Then I will pick a winner for each competition and they will be entered into the Amazon voucher draw. Anyone who comments on the blog will be in with a chance of winning the ebooks. Please leave a note of the country you're from and your email address or Twitter name, so I can contact you.

 If you buy (or have pre-ordered) a copy of Return of the Christmas Spirit, just as I did two years ago with The Christmas Spirit, if you email me your proof of purchase, minus any personal details, eg address, to you will be entered into the Amazon voucher draw.

It will be similar over on FB and Twitter, so join in however you prefer.

For now, all that remains for me is to ask, are you in the Christmas spirit yet?!
Sooz x

Thursday, 19 November 2015

Blurb for Return of the Christmas Spirit, pre-order details and launch party info - hurrah!

Hi everyone
Well, I did say you'd get a post on Friday re the blurb, but the truth is, I got caught out on Thursday, as by some miracle, I actually managed to load the Amazon pre-order within their timeframes. So, first of all, here's the blurb:

Christmas is just around the corner when Star begins working at Butterburn library, but not everyone is embracing the spirit of the season.

Sixteen-year-old Arianna’s mock exams are looming and she’s feeling under pressure. With her father living abroad and her mother working three jobs, she doesn’t have much support at home.

The bank is threatening to repossess Evan’s house, and he has no idea how he’s going to get through Christmas with two children who are used to getting everything they want.

Patricia’s cliché of a husband, after 23 years of marriage, has announced he’s moving out of the family home, and moving in with his secretary.

Daniel is doing the work of three people in his sales job, as well as looking after his kids and his wife. Pulled in too many different directions, he’s feeling stressed out.

Can Star, the library’s Good Samaritan, help set them on the path to happiness this Christmas?

And you can now pre-order your copy (releases 28th Nov) here:-

So, feel free to download already and it will arrive in your Kindle at some point next Saturday!
And, for those of you who don't already know, and those who do, there will be a Facebook party from 9am-9pm on Sunday 29th November at and a party on Twitter from 3-4pm. On the blog next week there will be competitions and prizes, including £10/$15 of Amazon vouchers and free ebooks. You've got to be in it to win it, as they say, so stay tuned!

Wednesday, 18 November 2015

Interview with author Wendy Janes

Hello again all,
As promised, I'm interviewing author Wendy Janes today. If you didn't catch my review of her book What Jennifer Knows on Monday, please click here to catch up!

But first, a little about the author:

Wendy Janes lives in London with her husband and youngest son. A number of her short stories have recently appeared in anthologies, and 2015 sees the launch of her first solo novel, What Jennifer Knows. Her writing is inspired by family, friends, and everyday events that only need a little twist to become entertaining fiction.

As well as writing contemporary fiction, she loves to read it too, and spread the word about good books online and in the real world. 

Wendy is also a freelance proofreader, and a caseworker for The National Autistic Society’s Education Rights Service.

Wendy was kind enough to agree to be interviewed, so here goes.

I love to hear how authors choose the names for their characters. How did you choose yours and did any have any special significance?
I’m so pleased you’ve asked me this, I love talking about how I choose names for my characters. Let’s focus on Jennifer’s friends, Abigail Winston and Freya Kerr. Abi is the head teacher of a successful secondary school, a no-nonsense professional. She needed a strong name. To emphasise this, I chose her first name for its hard ‘b’ and ‘g’, and her surname for its associations with Winston Churchill and Professor Robert Winston. In contrast to Abi, Freya lacks confidence, and she’s also a softer, more gentle woman, which I think is reflected in the light ‘eya’ sound at the end of her first name. She is a chef, so her surname is a little joke for those of us who may recall the TV chef Graham Kerr (anyone remember his show, The Galloping Gourmet?).
Are any of the characters or facets of the characters modelled on anyone you know? If so, you don’t need to tell us who!
Again, another question I love to answer. Jennifer and her husband Gerald are loosely based on my parents. Jennifer has my mother’s elegance, the wonderful ability to draw people to her, and her love of dance, although my mother didn’t have a Jennifer’s professional career. Gerald has my father’s rather eccentric take on life. They are both wonderful company, funny, clever, holding fierce opinions that they are unafraid to voice. I’m pleased to say that my parents are very happy with their fictional selves.
There are a lot of twists in What Jennifer Knows. How did you go about setting these up and did they come to you as you wrote, or did you have them planned from the beginning?
A real-life dilemma provided the central twist and inspiration for the story, so the biggest twist had been dropped into my lap before I even started plotting the book. The majority of the other twists arose as I developed the plot, with the last one springing forth in a very late but joyous eureka moment as I searched for a way to conclude the story.
Your story is set in 2012. Why did you choose that year?
Living in London during the 2012 Olympics and Paralympics was very special. Using the games as a backdrop to my story allowed me to share some of the excitement. Also, being new to writing novels, I needed something to help me structure the timeline of my story, and so things like the selling of tickets and the opening and closing ceremonies really helped with that aspect of the writing.
The male romantic lead has some pretty appalling traits. He acts rather brazenly during the novel. Do you think there are people out there who would really have the gall to do as he does, or is the point that he is over the top?
Yes, I think there are people who behave as he does. In fact, in the real-life story the romantic lead’s behaviour was even worse, but I didn’t think people would believe it, so I had to tone things down for What Jennifer Knows.
Jennifer’s husband, a minor celebrity, is a total stirrer! The book would have been a lot less rich without him as he liked to play devil’s advocate a lot. Yet, towards the end, I think we see that he cared more for his wife than he perhaps made apparent throughout their marriage. Was he your most complex character to write? If not, who, and why?
As much as I love Gerald in all his complexity, I think Jennifer has been the most complex character to write. It has been quite challenging to work out how to ensure her decisions and emotions feel genuine, and portray her as the moral heart of the story. Her relationships with all the other characters needs to feel authentic, so that her roles as wife, mother, grandmother, friend and work colleague all come together to make a ‘real’ person who readers will relate to. Even if they don’t agree with her decisions, I want them to care about her and her choices.
If you could make What Jennifer Knows into a TV drama, who would you have play the main characters?
Despite many hours of thought and discussions with friends and family I’m disappointed to say that I’ve not managed to find my ideal cast. Suggestions from readers are very welcome.
This is your first novel, although you’ve had several short stories published in anthologies. (More about them later!) What can you tell us about what you’re working on now? I assume you are working on something now?
I had a lot more to say about some of the characters in What Jennifer Knows, but the novel wasn’t the place to tell their tales. So I’ve written six stand-alone short stories, each set in a specific year from the 1960s to the 2000s, describing a crucial moment in the life of a friend or relation of Jennifer. I’ve particularly enjoyed offering glimpses of Jennifer in these stories and ensuring there are no spoilers for anyone reading the novel or the stories first. I hope to have them ready for publication as a single small volume early in 2016.
I’m also working on another novel. It’s another contemporary drama with a family in crisis at the heart of it.
Were you in Jennifer’s situation, would you have found it difficult to come to a decision about whether to speak out or not? And, would you have told Abi and Freya?
I would have found it incredibly difficult to decide whether to speak out or not. I still don’t know what I would have done.
Which character did you enjoy writing most and why?
I adored writing Gerald. His lines were a joy to write, many of them making me smile or laugh out loud. He’s mischievous, mercurial, and adds a spark to whatever gathering he attends/scene he appears in. I make no secret of the fact that he’s my favourite character in the book, and it gives me much pleasure to hear that he’s many readers’ favourite character too – although I know he wasn’t yours, Sooz. J
Fun stuff
As always, my first question, who is your Rupert Penry-Jones? (I am daft about him!)
Rufus Sewell
Trivial Pursuit or Scrabble?

Ooh, difficult one because I love both. If I have to choose, I’ll say Scrabble.
Favourite author of all time
This question is even more difficult! OK, if I really have to choose one, it has to be Jane Austen.
Favourite Christmas tradition (it’s that time of year)
When my children were little we always read ‘The Night Before Christmas’ on Christmas Eve as a bedtime story. My eldest son is carrying on the tradition with his daughters. 
Takeaway or fine dining
Takeaway from our favourite Indian restaurant round the corner.
Fave holiday destination been to and not been to
Been to: Cornwall (for the beaches and the waves)
Not been to: Hawaii (for the beaches and the waves)

Favourite genre (outside of your own) to read
Literary fiction
Period dramas or romantic comedies? (movies)
Romantic comedies

Do you play any sports? Which? or watch?
Oh, can you hear me laughing? And now can you hear my family laughing too? I’m the least sporty person, ever. I think it stems from shivering on a freezing cold hockey pitch when I was at school, or maybe it’s due to my lack of talent. I do enjoy watching sports, mainly athletics.

Can you cook? If so, what’s your best dish and if not, what would you most like to be able to cook?
I’m an OK cook. I used to cook a lot more when all the children lived at home. I love preparing a Sunday roast when they visit. Actually, it’s the chatting around the dinner table and seeing my children and grandchildren tuck in to their food that I enjoy more than the food preparation.
I don’t have a best dish, but I’d love to be able to make a juicy carrot cake.

Well, that's that - thanks so much for taking part, Wendy. Great to learn some more about you.
Ooh, and we have a treat for you now - here's the trailer for What Jennifer Knows

And you can catch up with Wendy and follow her writing via the following means:-

 and buy the book from Amazon UK -
and Amazon US -

Tune in on Friday when I will be revealing the blurb for Return of the Christmas Spirit. Only 11 days to go until launch day!

Monday, 16 November 2015

Book Review of What Jennifer Knows by Wendy Janes

Well, I did say I would be doing more on the blog now that I'm back from mat leave, and what better way to get back into the swing of things than by reviewing Wendy Janes' debut novel, What Jennifer Knows. For those who like to know the genre in advance, we're talking contemporary fiction.

First, here's the blurb:
A vital member of her Surrey community, Jennifer Jacobs is dedicated to her job as a dance therapist, helping children with special needs to express themselves through movement. Wife of a successful though reclusive sculptor, Gerald, she is known for having a deep sense of empathy, making her a trusted confidante. So when two very different friends, Freya and Abi, both share information with her that at first seems to be an awkward coincidence, she doesn’t tell them. But as the weeks roll by, the link revealed between the two women begins to escalate into a full-blown moral dilemma – and also brings to the surface a painful memory Jennifer believed she had long since forgotten. What is the right thing to do? Should she speak out or is the truth better left unsaid?

And here's what I thought: I rated it 4.5 stars

I'd already read and enjoyed a couple of short stories by this author, and was looking forward to her first full-length novel. I wasn't disappointed. From perhaps about a third of the way in, you can see the 'car crash' waiting to happen, as you are meant to, however the journey to get to that point is what keeps us hooked, and wanting to read more. I found myself being annoyed by the household tasks which got in the way of my being able to read more, always a good sign! I liked Jennifer, and to a slightly lesser extent her husband, who I thought was a bit up himself. But I did think Jennifer would have been an interesting person to meet, and a helpful soul. Abi, her friend, would have been interesting to meet too, but I liked her a bit less. She was very self-absorbed, but was meant to be. Only later in the book do we find out much more about Abi, her emotions and the reasons for her behaviour. Freya, Jennifer's new friend, is the antithesis of Abi, and you could imagine people walking all over her, as she was so nice. The dilemma facing Jennifer when she unearths a common link between her two friends, old and new, is an age-old, and tricky one. I'd like to say I would have done the opposite of what Jennifer did, but who can tell. This is the kind of novel which you could happily debate with your friends about whether the right choice had been made. I particularly loved the ending, and found it a little unexpected. The gall and the audacity of the male lead in all of this knew no bounds and I would certainly give him a piece of my mind if I ever met him. The writing style is easy to read, yet the prose is beautiful. A very well-crafted book for a debut novel, with the various strands being seamlessly woven together, and the denouement coming as a bit of a shock. I think we have a new contemporary fiction author to watch. I look forward to the next book

You can buy the book on Amazon

Tune in on Wednesday when you can find out all about Wendy in my pull-no-punches interview.

Friday, 13 November 2015

Cover Reveal - Return of the Christmas Spirit

It's finally here - well, I say that, I inadvertently gave all of my Facebook followers a sneak preview of it on Wednesday night when I set up the Facebook launch party - doh!
The cover! Yes, the cover for Return of the Christmas Spirit.
It would be fair to say that I am very excited about the release of my fourth book (already working on the fifth and sixth books - yes, really) and what better way to get even more excited about it than by showing off my new cover to you. Brad "Genius" Covey has done it again - my wonderful cover designer has taken my comments on board and produced this truly gorgeous cover. I have to say I was worried, as I absolutely adored the cover for The Christmas Spirit, and I was wondering how he was going to improve upon that, but he did.
Anyway, I'll let you decide for yourself. Here's The Christmas Spirit cover from 2013

And here's the cover for Return of the Christmas Spirit - ta da!

You will notice there are similarities, and rightly so; it is a series, of sorts, after all.
Anyway, I hope you like it. Tune in next week for an interview with author and proofreader Wendy Janes, plus I'll be reviewing her debut novel, What Jennifer Knows, on the blog as well  - and a cracker it was too! Then, next Friday I will be sharing the book blurb with you all. Yes! Just to get us in the mood in the run-up to launch day on the 29th November, as things are going to get very exciting indeed - but more on that later.
And, if you've been living on a galaxy far, far away until now, and haven't read The Christmas Spirit, then there's still time before its follow-up comes out in 2 weeks. That said, they are both stand-alone novels, so don't worry if you haven't. In case you need them, here are the links:-

Right, it's bye for now. Off to do writerly things.
Sooz x

Monday, 12 October 2015

Upcoming Release - A Time To Tell by Maria Savva

That's right, Sooz is back - well, almost!
I have so much to impart to you, but for those of you who didn't know, I've been on maternity leave. I thought I'd phase my return, though, and what better way to start than by promoting author Maria Savva's new book, A Time To Tell.

And, here's the blurb!
A family saga spanning fifty years and three generations... Cara fell for the tall, dark, handsome stranger, fifty years before. Now Frederick is about to return to her life. Can true love stand the test of time? When Cara’s granddaughter, Penelope, flees her home to escape a violent husband, Cara’s world is turned upside down. She returns to Huddlesea, the town she grew up in. Her estranged sister Gloria is less than happy to see her again. Can they rebuild their relationship after the tragic circumstances that tore them apart? Benjamin, Cara’s eldest son, has been missing for sixteen years. She longs to see him again. Will their reunion be everything she had hoped for? In this romantic drama, history repeats itself for a family lost in secrets. After the lies, the TIME has come to TELL.

And since Maria is more tech-savvy than moi, she even has a trailer! Have a peek here -
A Time To Tell

And thanks to those good folks at Amazon, you can now pre-order titles, so here are the links, although the book will go live on 14th October.
Or, if you fancy a paperback, you can buy it here:

So, just to sum up, I'm back, and you can expect book reviews, interviews and news of my own new book and lots more real soon! Stay tuned!