I am thrilled to be part of the launch celebrations for The Christmas Promise by Sue Moorcroft. The Christmas Promise was published yesterday, 6th October 2016, by Avon Books, an imprint of Harper Collins, and is available in e-book and paperback from your local Amazon site and by following the publisher links here.
Sue Moorcroft has previously been kind enough to give an interview to Linda’s book Bag which you can read here. Today, Sue has provided a highly thought provoking guest blog on the dangers of over-sharing.
As part of the celebrations for The Christmas Promise, I’m not only reviewing but I’m making my own promise too:
The Christmas Promise
For Ava Bliss, it’s going to be a Christmas to remember …
On a snowy December evening, Sam Jermyn steps into the life of bespoke hat maker Ava. Sparks fly, and not necessarily the good ones.
Times are tough for Ava – she’s struggling to make ends meet, her ex-boyfriend is a bully, and worst of all, it’s nearly Christmas.
So when Sam commissions Ava to make a hat for someone special, she makes a promise that will change her life. She just doesn’t know it yet…
Over-sharing Can Be bad For You
A Guest Post by Sue Moorcroft
Has anybody shared anything of yours without your permission? I don’t mean taken a bite from your Mars Bar or borrowed your best dress for a date. I mean taken an image of you and posted it on social media? It’s a situation I use in The Christmas Promise, combined with a vengeful ex-boyfriend.
Celebrities come up against this issue all the time. They’re out having a particularly junky junk-food meal with their kids; they’re having a row with their partner in a park; they’re letting their cellulite wobble on a beach … and somebody takes a picture on their phone. Time was, the person taking the pic would have hoped to make money out of it by selling it to the tabloid press (and maybe they still do that) but by far more common is that they simply set it free in the wilds of social media.
Before they know it the celebrity’s trending with a hashtag before their name because the image has awoken some emotion in people: sadness, laughter, resentment, schadenfreude, anger. It has been retweeted, it has been captioned, opinion has been passed. It’s been made into a meme or is the subject of blogs.
This may come with the territory for celebrities, who know that fame has its downsides. And no publicity’s bad publicity, right? Hey, their publicity department might even have helped this to happen as ‘going viral’ can be a publicity dream.
But what if you’re not a ‘’sleb’? What if you feel safe to sun yourself in your bikini in a private garden and your friend takes a pic showing your stretch marks and varicose veins in glorious detail, the chilled wine’s so refreshing that you’ve drunk a bottle each so you’re howling with red-faced laughter and her camera-work’s shaky.
And what seems absolutely hilarious to your friend at that moment … is to post that image on social media.
You begin to sober up. Seriously? She didn’t really just do that, did she? She did. And she’s tagged you so it will appear on your timeline and all your friends can see it. All her friends can see it. Friends from both accounts begin sharing it and all their friends can see it. Your colleagues. Your kids, nieces and nephews. Maybe even some of your clients/customers/students/lecturers.
You make your friend delete it instantly and you do the same. Your friend’s full of shamefaced apologies. You vow never to get yourself in that situation again.
But once that image is up on the internet it has gone from your control.
All you can usefully do is wise up for the future by combing through your settings for useful features.
- Limiting your posts to ‘friends’ can slow the spread of material through your account but even then, is having your boss as a social media friend such a good idea?
- You can untag yourself from pictures you hate so anybody searching your name or your timeline won’t stumble across them.
- Changing your settings so that you have to approve tagged posts before they appear on your timeline can keep your own timeline from being sullied by the bad stuff.
- Selecting ‘private’ in settings wherever practicable is a good baseline from which to work. Social media’s default setting is rarely private but it doesn’t take long to make manual changes that will make you more comfortable.
- Remembering that you have the power to block people and report them can save you anguish. Do it if you feel the need!
It’s wise, of course, not to make yourself vulnerable in the first place (especially to that hopefully mortified friend) but so many hands hold camera phones every day that images are bound to go astray. Just look at the trouble Ava gets into in The Christmas Promise! #MyPromise is that the situation seriously gets away from her.
My review of The Christmas Promise
When her ex-boyfriend won’t take no for an answer, her finances are at rock bottom and her least favourite time of the year, Christmas, is looming, Ava thinks life can’t get much worse. She’s wrong.
I cannot believe that The Christmas Promise is my first Sue Moorcroft book. Am I mad? Chick-lit, women’s fiction, romance, call it what you will, The Christmas Promise is the perfect embodiment of fabulous story-telling and I utterly adored it.
Firstly, The Christmas Promise deals with topical and moving themes of finance, health and the abuse of social media so that there is a depth and quality to the writing I wasn’t expecting. I actually learnt a lot from reading this book. The quality of research that has gone in to the theme of millinery, for example, is so impressive and enhances the experience of reading, but it is the salutary lesson about the use of social media that really packs a punch. Those who read this book might just find themselves safer online – and know what to do if things go wrong.
The characterisation in The Christmas Promise is wonderful. I loved Ava and Sam especially, but even the smallest supporting character felt very real so that it was as if I was reading about people I knew. I even shed a tear over Wendy. If I said I wouldn’t mind meeting Sam in a darkened room you’ll know what I mean. The romantic passages were just lovely and very natural and sensual so that I could imagine myself as Ava.
The plotting is incredible. I felt as if I couldn’t bear what was happening to Ava and yet I was transfixed and couldn’t stop reading on. My heart went out to Ava, Wendy and even the awful Harvey in some ways because Sue Moorcroft has presented their lives and actions so convincingly. Just when I thought there was a resolution to their problems, off we went again so that The Christmas Promise was exciting as well as emotionally satisfying.
The Christmas Promise is a wonderful read, and not just at Christmas. I can’t recommend it highly enough.
About Sue Moorcroft
Award winning author Sue Moorcroft writes contemporary women’s fiction with occasionally unexpected themes. The Wedding Proposal, Dream a Little Dream and Is This Love? were all nominated for Readers’ Best Romantic Read Awards. Love & Freedom won the Best Romantic Read Award 2011 and Dream a Little Dream was nominated for a RoNA in 2013. Sue’s a Katie Fforde Bursary Award winner, a past vice chair of the RNA and editor of its two anthologies.
Sue also writes short stories, serials, articles, writing ‘how to’ and is a creative writing tutor.
You can find out more about Sue on her website, blog, Google+, LinkedIn, Goodreads, Take Five Authors, Facebook and her Facebook author page. You can also follow Sue on Twitter. There’s more with and from Sue by following the #MyPromise and with these other bloggers too: