• Blog

    A Christmas Guest post from author of The Christmas Spirit, Susan Buchanan


    The Christmas Spirit - CoverWell, not long now – one week to go!

    How many of you don’t have your presents yet?

    I am fortunate enough, because of the launch of The Christmas Spirit being on December 1st, to have done almost all my Christmas shopping in November. In recent years, I had adopted the practice of buying everything I could online, as I hate shopping at busy times and I loathe queues. For me there is nothing less Christmassy than feeling stressed, being jostled by fellow shoppers and being faced with weary looking shop assistants. But buying online doesn’t always go to plan and often involves driving miles to some courier depot to pick up the parcel (cue me on Christmas Eve a few years ago) as otherwise it won’t arrive in time.

    Three years ago, we had terrible snow and deliveries were backed up so bad, that orders I placed on 20th Dec arrived on time but those placed on 6th didn’t! It was a logistical meltdown. Then there’s having to return items, which is just a pain in the backside.

    This year I did still order some items online, but was surprised to find more than half was actually bought in person. OK, I took my then seven-month-old daughter shopping in October to Mothercare, just to see what toys she liked, and then bought them, so that’s how that trend started.

    Our high street where we live isn’t much good (Mothercare was in the next town), but I managed to buy clothes for my nephews, although their toys were bought online. Quite a few members of the family have asked for vouchers (which I must remember to buy before the big day!) but we did have one proper shopping expedition as a family – to an out of town mall. We actually bought some things there this year – last year we went and returned empty-handed.

    I saw a programme recently about supporting your local high street and I thought about what I had bought locally – clothes, cards, and well, not really a great deal else. Everything had been bought from retail parks, out of town malls or online. Sad, but true. To my knowledge there is no longer a toy store in my town, so where was I to buy gifts for children? We have no bookstore, only a newsagents doubling as one. And this in a town of 50,000 people…

    Meredith in The Christmas Spirit, although initially coming across as a bit of a Bah Humbug, is very generous where gifts are involved and always manages to pick out the perfect present, with no expense spared. I like to pride myself in being the same – although since I am not massively rich like Meredith, I do have an upper price limit! This year Meredith needs some help with her present buying and her assistant Sophie does source a lot of it online.

    Rebecca, whose finances have been somewhat constrained by having split from her boyfriend, and having to fund a property on her own, breathes a sigh of relief that she already bought one of the most expensive presents months ago, but still has to pare back on what she buys everyone else.

    Stanley has never had to think about presents before, except for those for his darling wife, Edie; she always took care of the rest.

    Strapped for cash, Jacob, imposes an upper limit on presents with his wealthy sister, which she duly ignores. My siblings and I have an unvoiced, agreed upon amount!

    For me, the best thing about Christmas shopping, should I ever have to be out in actual shops at this time of year is the carol singers. They really do put me in the Christmas spirit – kids from primary schools in shopping centres across the country the last two weeks before Christmas. So, for all of you who still have a lot to do, or who are going to be zipping around on December 24th frantically buying last minute gifts, good luck and take heart from those carollers! Merry Christmas

    Susan Buchanan
    About Susan

    Susan Buchanan lives in Central Scotland with her partner, Tony and baby daughter, Antonia. The Christmas Spirit is her third novel, published Dec 2013. Her fourth novel, What If, is expected to be released summer 2014.

    Here is Susan Buchanan talking about The Christmas Spirit

    I always wanted to write a Christmas novel – I just didn’t know it was this one! The Christmas Spirit took me by surprise, as I lay in bed one night trying to get to sleep. The title and the idea came at the same time and then I created the characters piece by piece. I love Christmas, but I started wondering how it would be for those who had little to look forward to this Christmas. And I figured they needed a helping hand!


    Contact Susan

    Twitter – susan_buchanan Facebook – www.facebook.com/susan.buchanan.author

    Blog – www.susancbuchanan.blogspot.co.uk

    Buy The Christmas Spirit

    http://amzn.to/1ewbuRY – Amazon UK

    http://amzn.to/1dFw0TJ – Amazon US


    Susan Buchanan
    12/20/2013 05:29:09 am

    thanks for hosting me, Monique. Merry Christmas, Sooz x

  • Blog

    Taste of Tuesday with Susan Buchanan


    The Dating Game - Susan Buchanan - Cover1. Do you prefer sweet or savoury foods (i.e. cheese or chocolate)?

    Too difficult to choose. I have a sweet tooth, but if you told me I could never eat cheese again, I would be in floods of tears. One of the things I am missing because of being pregnant is being able to eat Dolcelatte, Cambazola (my favourite) and generally blue cheeses, which I love.
    2. Red wine or white? (Wine obviously) – like both, but in recent years have developed a taste particularly for Marlborough Sauvignon Blanc from New Zealand. I can’t see past it!
    3. Do you have a favourite food memory? – Not really just one. I have a least-favourite – which is my foolishly telling my mum I liked Findus Crispy Pancakes and her basically giving them every other meal for 2 years, despite my protests!

    I suppose eating pumpkin ravioli in this amazing restaurant in Verona, chosen by my distributor (I worked for Digital Equipment back then) is very high up the list, as is eating farinata, a precursor to pizza, in Turin are a few of the best ones. My best food memories I suppose are mainly linked to Italian food in Italy!

    4. Does food feature in your novel(s)?
    Oh yes! In Sign of the Times, the novel starts in Italy and I have had many reviews saying the reader loved the description of the food, it was mouth-watering and they were starving after reading it! The Dating Game, by its very nature, sees Gill go on a series of dates, many involving fine dining restaurants. Plus she jets off to Barcelona with her friends, so tapas is covered as well a Catalan food in quite a lot of detail. In, fact, in my new novel, What If, it’s the first time there won’t be so much food detail.

    5. What recipe are you sharing with us and why?
    Chorizo and butifarra negra in a spicy tomato sauce. Rarely do I find that tapas restaurants in the UK equal or are even close to those in Spain, but one of my favourite tapas restaurants, a small chain, does the most amazing version of this. It’s hearty and ideal for a winter’s day. Butifarra negra is the Spanish equivalent of the Scottish black pudding. Not a good idea to have to many of these, as it’s tantamount to a heart attack on a plate, but every so often!

    Chorizo and butifarra negra in a spicy tomato sauce

    100g black pudding (doesn’t really matter whether sliced or not, but probably the non-sliced one works better for this)
    100g good chorizo ( you can buy cheap stuff, but it will taste cheap, nasty and grizzly – pay the extra!)
    tin of tomatoes (chopped or sliced, or even a passata carton)
    1/2-1 red chilli depending on how hot you like it. Don’t slice it, just put it in, as you will be removing it at the

    Mince the black pudding and chorizo up by chopping really finely or passing through a mincer (should you have one – I don’t!) Then fry it in a little olive oil until cooked through. Shouldn’t take long as minced.

    In a separate pan prepare the tomato and chilli- pour your tomatoes in, cutting up any large pieces, add the chilli, bring to the boil and then simmer for around 25 minutes.

    Add the chorizo and black pudding to the sauce and heat through for a further five minutes.

    Remove the intact chilli.

    Serve with good crusty bread and enjoy

    NB: if you leave any of this, there is something seriously wrong with you (unless of course you know in advance you don’t like black pudding!)

    The Dating Game
    Workaholic recruitment consultant, Gill McFadden, is sick of her friends trying to match-make for her. Up until now her love life has been a disaster and she’s going through a drier spell than the Sahara desert.

    She realises she has to act, as work keeps piling up and at this rate she will have retired before she has time for a relationship.

    Seeing an ad on a bus one day, she decides to visit Happy Ever After dating agency. She quickly discovers men are like buses. They all come along at once. Unsure what her type is, Gill decides to keep her options open. Soon she has problems juggling her social life as well as her work diary. Will she ever strike the right balance?

    Before long she is experiencing laughs, lust and… could it be love? But like everything in Gill’s life, nothing is straightforward and she ends up wondering exactly who she can trust.
    As they headed back towards the car park, he kissed behind Gill’s ear and said, ‘We don’t have to go back, you know.’

    Gill stared at him. Being outside had made the alcohol she had drunk treble in effect. Her head was starting to spin, whether from the booze or the company, she couldn’t quite make up her mind.

    ‘How do you mean?’

    ‘I booked a suite, just in case you wanted to stay.’

    ‘You what?’ Gill tried for indignant, but it didn’t quite come out that way, as she was privately a little impressed.

    ‘No pressure. I just took the precaution in case we were having so nice a time, we didn’t want to drive back tonight.
    What do you think?’

    What did she think? She wasn’t sure – although a lie down sounded like a great idea at the moment.
    She really shouldn’t have drunk so much wine.

    You can find Susan and her books at the following places:

    Twitter – @susan_buchanan
    – The Dating Game Amazon UK

    – The Dating Game Amazon US and other .com sites

    Amazon author page

    Goodreads – http://www.goodreads.com/author/show/4216164.Susan_Buchanan


    Samantha Stroh bailey
    2/11/2013 10:58:53 pm

    One of the things I love most about Susan’s books are the mouth watering descriptions of food. Amazing interview! You had me at chorizo.

  • Blog

    Q&A with Susan Buchanan about her writing getting to #1 spot on Amazon


    Susan Buchanan
    1. What was the inspiration for your current novel?
    I had seen lots of contemporary fiction novels focus on days of the week, months of the year, seasons etc. One day I thought why not the signs
    of the zodiac. From that I went on to research and flesh out 12 well rounded main characters, whose lives, careers and personalities would reflect their star sign. The deeper I went into it, not generally being particularly interested in astrology, the more fascinated I
    became and the more real the characters became.

    2. How important is setting/place in your writing?
    Very. I think to depict places you have to have either been there (preferably) or know a lot about it. If you can draw the places well, your readers can imagine them so much more easily. Most of Sign of the Times is set in Scotland, so I wanted to mention landmarks and streets which the average Scottish reader and also any tourist would know. The beginning of the novel is set in a tiny village, called Bibbiena in Tuscany where I went on holiday ten years ago. I have been lucky enough to travel quite extensively, although unfortunately not Australia just yet! Am making do with your wine for now! There will be many places I’ve been to featured in future novels, as I love reading novels set in exotic places and other cities, so naturally enjoy writing about them too.

    3. Do you have a favourite character (s) in your current novel?
    Mmm…favourite male is Ben, the mountain rescue volunteer. Apart from being gorgeous, he’s very
    understanding, has had a bit of a rough ride and deserves happiness.

    Favourite female character –well, it depends. I loved writing Maria’s chapters the most. Holly is great and in many ways is similar to me (although not based on me, I must point out) simply because she is Sagittarius. But there is one character who I think is amazing and that’s because everyone loves to hate her. You’re going to have to read it to find out who!!

    4. What’s the best piece of writing advice you were ever given?
    Just write –get the thoughts down. You can fix it in the edit.

    5. You chose to enrol in KDP select exclusively What motivated that decision?
    I had read Jeff Bennington’s book The Indie Author’s Guide to the Universe. In it, and I am paraphrasing here, I
    believe he said that after analysing his sales data, 90% of sales came from Amazon (this was pre KDP days).
    So, for the amount of work that went into having it on Smashwords and all the other platforms, it was a no brainer.
    I figured that was pretty good advice. And quite frankly, promoting on one platform is labour-intensive & all-consuming enough. This advice was also replicated in several writers forums I had viewed.

    6. Can you tell me how you promoted your free days on the program?
    Twitter. Pretty much 95% Twitter. I mentioned it on FB, but I am not a big FB user (I am trying now, but it doesn’t come as naturally to me as Twitter). I didn’t get everything right for this promo. I should have submitted to Digital Book Today well in advance, but didn’t do it in enough time. There are a few other sites, again whose deadlines I missed. It was the first time for me and whilst I did a lot of things well, I also missed some things. I used the bots – BYNR, writersRT etc and I was retweeted by my followers a ridiculous number of times (thanks to any of them who are reading this). I mentioned on Goodreads that I was having a free promo & joined a few FB groups for free books.

    7. I notice you promoted the Amazon UK link. Was the book free in the US at the same time? If so why did
    you choose to promote the UK over US (I realise you’re in the UK so that may be the answer).
    Actually during the promo I tweeted constantly both links, sometimes on the same tweet & sometimes on separate tweets. This was purely for space reasons. When you only have 140 characters and you want to get a message across, an excerpt or a quote, you don’t want half of it taken up by links. It is true, however, that in the last few weeks, I have mainly been tweeting the UK link and that’s simply because I am in the UK and the vast majority of my sales have been here. But I am aware I have to do more non-UK link tweets too.

    8. You had phenomenal success over that period? How has it been in the weeks after?
    Thanks. Well immediately after the free promo, you drop down into the paid chart around, very low down, in my case about 35K, but in 3 days it rose to #202. It was number 8 in contemporary romance. In the month following the free
    promo, I sold twelve times more copies than normal. Obviously once you reach your peak sales, there’s a gradual decline, with the occasional rally. Reviews, interviews, good blog posts, interacting with readers etc can all help bring your chart position up again.

    9. Can you tell me a little bit about what you are working on now?
    I’m currently writing The Dating Game due out later this year. I am almost half way through and am busy redrafting the earlier chapters. I don’t have an official blurb for The Dating Game yet, but here’s a little taster:

    Workaholic recruitment consultant Gill McFadden is sick of her friends trying to match-make for her.
    Up until now her love life has been a disaster and she’s going through a drier spell than the Sahara desert.
    Seeing an ad on a bus one day, she decides to visit Happy Ever After dating agency. Before long she is experiencing laughs, lust and… could it be love? But like everything in Gill’s life, nothing is straightforward and she ends up wondering exactly who she can trust.

    10. What advice would you give to a fledgling indie writer to assist them on their journey?
    Visit my blog – www.susancbuchanan.blogspot.co.uk. There are too many issues to mention in answer to this
    question and I cover them periodically in my blog, where I post at least once a week. Everything from Marketing, Redrafting, Dialogue and Taking Criticism is covered there. And of course, believe in yourself. Start marketing before your novel is launched. I wish I had done and have been making up for it ever since!

    Finally – Good luck!

    Sign of the Times - Susan Buchanan - Cover


    Pamela Cook
    6/25/2012 04:49:32 pm

    Interesting interview. The whole idea of giving away your book sounds so bizarre but seems it actually works. Love the sound of the book too!
    6/25/2012 04:58:39 pm

    It’s a weird concept isn’t it? Takes some adjusting to.

    Terry Tyler
    6/26/2012 07:28:52 am

    Nice interesting questions and answers. As Susan knows, though, Amazon seems to have changed things so that you don’t get the post free promo visibility anymore – think Susan just caught the end of it! It’s a great shame because it was a really good way of getting yourself ‘out there’ a bit – but all good things come to an end, alas!

    6/26/2012 08:08:18 am

    Great choice of questions. I enjoyed this interview.