The one where the hedgehogs are in some amazing deals right now on Apple, Kobo, Kindle & Audible

It’s an exciting time for the hedgehogs at the moment as there are various great promotional deals for them. Let’s start with Kobo…

If you’re a Kobo listener and haven’t tried any of the Hedgehog Hollow series, Kobo are running a special ‘Spring into a New Series’ deal in the UK and ‘Fall into a New Series in Australia and New Zealand. As the first in the Hedgehog Hollow series, Finding Love at Hedgehog Hollow is included at a discounted price. In the UK, this is 99p.

This offer ends on 23rd May.

The next deal is from Apple Books in the UK, Ireland, Australia, New Zealand, USA and Canada.

The eBook of the fourth novel in the series, A Wedding at Hedgehog Hollow, is part of Apple’s ‘Romance Tropes’ promotion running until 28th May. This sees a price drop in all these territories. In the UK, this is 99p.

And because Amazon tend to price-match, the price has also dropped on this eBook on Kindle UK. I suspect it will run at this price for at least as long as the Apple promotion runs but I wouldn’t delay, just in case…

And for those who love listening, A Wedding at Hedgehog Hollow is in the Audible UK ‘2 for 1 Sale’ starting today and running until Sunday 22nd May…

As with all their week-long promotions, a helpful countdown shows on Audible showing how long there is left to take advantage of this. It’s lovely to see Jo Bartlett’s A Spring Surprise for the Cornish Midwife featuring in the same promotion so there’s a great pairing you might like to go for. Jo’s series is fabulous and I’m actually reading this one myself at the moment – also the fourth in the series – and loving it.

I’ve had some amazing chart positions on Audible recently, with several Top 100 placings for my audiobooks on offer but also for my newest release Spring Tides at The Starfish Café which has been extra special as that wasn’t on a promotion. I’ll therefore be eagerly checking the charts later this afternoon to see how high those hedgehogs scamper, which isn’t ideal as I’m on a deadline for writing the sixth Hedgehog Hollow book this weekend so really need to be head down.

Please do spread the word if you know of anyone who might be interested in any of these deals and thank you so much if you take advantage of any of them yourself.

Don’t forget that Finding Love at Hedgehog Hollow is FREE via Audible Plus, Family Secrets at Hedgehog Hollow (book 3) has just gone into The Works, and all my Hedgehog Hollow books (and all my Whitsborough Bay books too) are FREE if you’re a Kindle Unlimited subscriber.

And although it has nothing to do with hedgehogs, I just have to pause to say a huge congratulations to Ukraine for winning the Eurovision Song Contest last night and for Sam Ryder for being phenomenal in representing the UK and coming second. What an absolute star he was last night.

Have a fabulous Sunday.

Big hedge-hugs
Jessica xx

The one where Family Secrets has an extra special reason for celebrating its one-year book birthday

Today – 4th May – is the one-year book birthday of the release of the third book in the Hedgehog Hollow series, Family Secrets at Hedgehog Hollow. And, as it’s Star Wars Day today – May the fourth be with you – I couldn’t resist a photo shoot with my adorable Grogu alongside copies of the book and a couple of knitted hedgehogs. Grogu is even the right colour for accessorising with the book!

The knitted hedgehogs are from the talented team at Wolds Hedgehog Rescue and did contain creme eggs. But not for long!

It’s an extra special one-year birthday anniversary for Family Secrets at Hedgehog Hollow because it has just gone into The Works! It appeared online today and you can grab it here for £2 or as part of the 3 for £5 paperbacks offer.

Paperbacks will also be going into branches of The Works so should be on the shelves this week/next week depending on when your local store takes deliveries.

I love this story and took a risk with it because it is partly narrated by our heroine Samantha and partly by her cousin Chloe who readers hate … and for good reason as she hasn’t treated our Samantha very well at all. By the end of this book, some readers end up loving Chloe, some like her and others still hate her but understand her better. For me, this was never about trying to get readers or listeners to like her; it was about me telling an interesting and unexpected story.

It amuses me when I see reviews for either this book or others in the series saying that the reader still doesn’t like Chloe no matter how much I’m trying to convince them to do so. I’m not trying to do anything of the sort! How a reader feels about Chloe is entirely their choice. What I’m doing is showing that antagonists aren’t necessarily all bad by presenting Chloe’s positives alongside her flaws. I imagined her at the start as a Marmite character – love her or hate her – and that’s exactly what she’s become. Do I love her or hate her? That’s my secret!

This is the third book and can be followed as a standalone story but I would urge readers/listeners to dive into the series from the start to fully understand the characters and the journeys they go on. The order is Finding Love… New Arrivals… Family Secrets… A Wedding… and we have Chasing Dreams at Hedgehog Hollow out next month and one more to come in early September to conclude the series.

This book does end on a whopper of a cliffhanger so be warned!

If you do see a copy of Family Secrets in your local branch of The Works, please do take a shelfie and tag me into it in social media as I don’t think the novelty of seeing my books out in the wild will ever fade.

Big hedge-hugs
Jessica xx

The one where I turned fifty

It was my birthday yesterday (1st May) and I hit the half-century which doesn’t feel real because I still don’t feel any older than I did at thirty, although my body would beg to differ. I try to avoid sitting on the floor these days as it’s touch and go as to whether I can get up again!

I don’t normally go big for birthdays and I’m not one for big nights out drinking but specifically wanted to celebrate turning fifty, especially when so many people I know (my husband and older brother included) were unable to celebrate big occasions during lockdown.

With going away to the Lake District for a fortnight over Easter, we didn’t want to venture very far. We have two Forest Holidays sites near us called Cropton and Keldy – both just 45 minutes drive away – and we’ve been to them both in the past when our daughter was young and we could stay out of season (cheaper!) Even though a bank holiday weekend was going to be pricey, we decided to go for it with it being a special occasion.

Look what I found in the gift shop in the reception! I had to have him! His name’s Bramble and he is soooo adorable.

The great thing about going on holiday somewhere so local is getting there quickly and being able to enjoy your evening rather than spending it travelling. We were there as soon as check-in started and we had a little wander round the site before having a relaxing evening in our log cabin with food delivered from the on-site restaurant.

Saturday morning – the day before my birthday – dawned with beautiful blue skies and sunshine. We decided to go for a walk round nearby village Thornton-le-Dale then visit Pickering, get some lunch, and take it up to the castle.

I’ll admit it does feel a little weird being on ‘holiday’ and visiting places that we regularly visit anyway but the point was to get away and have a relaxing time. If we’d stayed at home, I might have taken my birthday off but I’d have worked for the rest of the weekend.

Thornton-le-Dale is such a picturesque village and it was gorgeous to see ducklings on the river and the pond. So cute. There are some stunning houses and I always joke they’d be where an author would live as the views are inspiring. I doubt they come on the market very often and, if they did, they’d be way out of our price bracket but it’s nice to have dreams.

We’ve not visited Pickering Castle as a family before so it was great to explore the ruins and the grounds and generally enjoy the sunshine. Pickering Castle is an English Heritage site and you can find out more about it here. It’s a lovely place to visit and the views are fabulous.

We returned to the cabin with time for a Cornish cream tea which my fabulous friend and super talented author, Sharon Booth, sent me, followed by a sneaky glass of wine in the hot tub before getting ready to go out for a birthday tea.

On the evening, we met my parents at a nearby pub. They’d brought their caravan to a site in the area so they could see me for my birthday. The person who’d taken the booking over Facebook Messenger hadn’t written it down which was a bit fraught as they were full but they made space for us, thank goodness.

I won’t name the pub as these things happen and so much of the hospitality industry is struggling with lack of staff but it was a lesson learned for me never to make a booking for any pub via Messenger in future. I only did it that way because it was out of hours but I’ll wait and do it via the phone when the pub is open going forwards!

The following day – my actual birthday – it was pouring when we woke up and it put a real dampener on things (literally). It had been such a gorgeous day before and the thought of traipsing through the forest in the rain didn’t appeal.

We decided to take a trip to the market town of Malton but hadn’t paused to think about whether the shops would be open on a Sunday. Most weren’t. So we had a walk round (mainly closed) Malton although the good news was it had stopped raining and I gazed longingly in the gift shop windows.

I wanted some cakey loveliness and had been hoping to find some in a nice independent bakery but there were none open. We nipped into a farm shop and a garden centre on the way back to the cabin but it was mission unsuccessful. Hubby, bless him, did a detour via the high street in Pickering so we could nip into the cafe/bakery where we’d bought lunch the day before – Russell’s Cafe & Traditional Bakery. They had a window full of the most delicious-looking slices of cake. They were on a deal where it was cheaper to buy three but the munchkin wanted something not in the offer so, after asking for hubby’s, I had to pick two for me. It would have been very wrong not to! And, oh my goodness, they were delicious. If you go to Pickering, definitely visit Russell’s. The sandwiches for lunchtime the day before were delicious too.

We returned to the cabin and decided that, as it was dull, we’d relax and watch a film but we couldn’t find anything we particularly fancied. We went for the recent re-make of The Secret Garden starring Colin Firth and Julie Walters but it’s a slow story and I was getting fidgety. I will watch the end but we put it off and went for a walk along one of the forest trails instead although I was a bit full after my double-cake indulgence and could probably have been rolled round the trail.

The munchkin and I had time for another dip in the hot tub, this time with some champagne (for me) before Mum and Dad came over to the cabin on the evening to look around and join us for a birthday tea. They brought a balloon and cake with them which was lovely.

We had planned to do something today (bank holiday Monday) but it was another dull day and we decided that, as we still hadn’t settled back in after our Easter trip, it would make more sense to get back home and get organised. I only have a couple of weeks left to write my final Hedgehog Hollow book and I’m only a fifth of the way through it so I have a lot to do. Catching up today (or trying to) means I can be head down from tomorrow. Or at least that’s the plan!

I couldn’t really think of anything I wanted for my birthday but my Kindle is on the way out so I got a new Paperwhite and hubby and daughter surprised me with a lovely new watch. From my parents and brothers, I got some money to buy a teddy bear but instead treated myself to a limited edition Herdy while I was in the Lakes. It’s made by Merrythought who are a longstanding UK-based teddy bear manufacturer (so nearly a bear!) and I’m completely in love with him.

A huge thank you to everyone who sent cards, gifts, flowers and best wishes, helping to make my fiftieth a special day.

Hope you’ve had a lovely bank holiday weekend and, if you’ve worked it, hope you get a break soon.

On a final note, even though it’s my birthday, I’m giving away some gifts. The wonderful The Friendly Book Community over on Facebook have been celebrating their first birthday with some amazing giveaways across the week donated by the lovely Admin team and some of the authors. If you haven’t already joined this group and you love books, you might want to do so, as it’s a warm and friendly space to be. And then you can be in with a chance to win one of my bundles. There are 4 for UK-based readers and 1 for overseas readers. You can find the group here and you have until Friday to be in for a chance of winning on my giveaways.

Big birthday hugs
Jessica xx

The one where we had a gorgeous Easter in the Lake District Part 2

At the start of the week, I posted about our first week away in the Lake District over Easter and promised the second part would follow. Here it is!

Although we enjoyed our first week, our second was extra special. But we always knew it would be because we were spending it in our absolute favourite place: Keswick. Keswick has everything – a beautiful lake which you can walk right round, dramatic mountains and fells surrounding it on all sides, a couple of beautiful parks, stunning countryside, and a pretty market town full of lovely shops.

The cottage we were staying in was called Pippin Cottage and it was on the main road into Keswick so there was some traffic noise but that didn’t really bother us as it was so ideally located for walking everywhere. Once we’d arrived, we didn’t use the car again until the day we left!

Despite visiting Keswick on many occasions, we’d never actually been to Fitz Park which was opposite. Can’t believe we’ve missed out on it as it’s lovely!

We wanted to attempt a couple of the climbs but decided to start easy by climbing a hill called Castlehead with some lovely views across Derwent Water although do excuse the weird extra half-dog situation in the panoramic pic in the middle. Ella decided to move while I was taking the pano!

Opposite the holiday cottage is a bus stop inside of which is the most wonderful painting of Goldilocks and the three bears along with an explanation of why it’s there. Apparently the story started off with three bears and a grumpy elderly woman but it evolved into the story with the young girl we’re more familiar with these days.

On Easter Sunday, I met the amazing artist Lucy Pittaway for breakfast. I love her paintings (and have several prints) and she loves my books and it’s so fascinating to talk to another creative who does something slightly different to me. She’s become a friend over the past year and happened to be visiting Keswick over the bank holiday, where she has one of her galleries, so it was wonderful being able to have a catch-up.

Before I met her, I’d noticed there were a stack of dog walkers milling around all wearing orange clothes and I wondered if there was a special event on. When I pointed this out to Lucy, she observed that a huge number of the dogs were spaniels. At lunchtime, when I went for a family walk round Derwent Water, I found out what was going on. There was the most amazing spaniel known as ‘Miracle Max’ who was awarded the equivalent of an OBE for animals in 2021 for his services to others. It’s quite a lovely story and you can find out about about Max, his owner Kerry, and why he was awarded this in a BBC article here.

Sadly, Max passed away this month, aged 14, so the walk was in remembrance of him. His collar had been orange so those doing the walk were asked if they’d wear orange. What a happy and hopeful colour to see everywhere.

One of Max’s many amazing achievements had been during the pandemic where videos and photos of him, his owner, and two other spaniels called Paddy and Harry provided comfort around the world to those who were able to get out and about vicariously through them. You can find out more on the Max out in the Lake District website and there’s also a book about Miracle Max by owner Kerry Irving whose life Max saved.

Here’s the hubby and our (sprocker) spaniel Ella on Max’s statue in Hope Park near the water’s edge.

The clockwise walk round Derwent Water is one we did in August last year but we went a little further this time. The weather had picked up from the week before but it wasn’t quite bright blue skies, but was still nice for pics.

I’d have happily walked even further but, for some random reason, the munchkin hadn’t put on her proper walking boots and we hadn’t noticed she was only wearing trainers so she moaned about going further. She and I caught the small ferry back and hubby walked back the way we’d come with Ella.

On the Tuesday, we decided to take a walk anti-clockwise round Derwent Water and see how far we could get. We set off on foot from the holiday cottage and this meant a walk through town, along farm tracks, by the river and through a village called Portinscale before getting to the water’s edge. It was a beautiful walk and, as you can see, the sun had properly come out and brought some bright blue skies.

Isn’t that shoreline beautiful? We wandered a little further and came across a most enticing-looking place called the Lingholm Estate where Beatrix Potter used to holiday with her family so we decided to explore and partake in some refreshments. What a lovely place!

A woodland walk took us to the foot of Catbells. We want to get fitter and be able to tick off the 214 Wainwrights – the hills/mountains/fells documented by Alfred Wainwright – over many visits to the Lakes and we’d hoped to tackle a couple of smaller ones while away. Catbells isn’t one of the smaller ones but we hadn’t appreciated our walk round the lake was going to take us to the foot of it. It seemed a shame not to give it a try while we were there. The munchkin was not impressed but we set off anyway.

The sign says 1 mile, 1 hour but that’s probably for experienced walkers and not for overweight unfit authors! At 451m (1,480ft) it’s quite a climb and very steep in parts. It was too much for the munchkin and she dipped out at a large grassy area partway up the first incline to be collected again on our descent. Hubby, Ella and I continued our climb.

It was hard work – more on the muscles than the stamina – but the views were absolutely incredible… and also a good reason to keep stopping! The view below is looking down on the Lingholm Estate where we’d stopped earlier.

This view looks out over Bassenthwaite Lake in the distance…

Catbells is a bit of a deceptive walk for those who aren’t familiar with the shape of it as you make your way towards what looks to be a summit and there’s quite a scramble to get up to it. However, once you’re there, you can see you’re not really there. The actual summit is some way further on, down a dip, then up again with an even steeper incline and summit.

We made it to the top of that 1st summit and I was so proud of myself as I’ve been in a home-based sedentary job for seven years, I barely left the house during the first 18 months of the pandemic, even when we were allowed, I am twice the body weight I should be for my height, and I’m not very fit anymore. So to climb up that far was a pretty amazing achievement for me and I felt quite emotional at the top.

We could have gone on but we had concerns. The weather was coming in and rain was expected. You can see the dark clouds in that last photo above. Hubby had left his coat with the munchkin to ensure she didn’t get cold while waiting for us but the weather had changed and it was cold up there. I’d given him my waterproof to keep the wind off him but that meant I’d have no waterproof when the rain started. We were conscious of the munchkin waiting for us in the rain and that we’d probably be another hour to get to the proper summit on top of the time we’d already been, plus the descent time. And I had no walking poles with me because this had been a spontaneous climb. I wasn’t sure my knees would cope with another scramble and the descent down both without the support of the poles so we gave up and said we’d return and conquer it again on another visit. And, yes, it did start raining as we descended.

We returned to the holiday cottage the way we’d come and, as this meant passing the Lingholm Estate, we popped in for more sustenance! They run alpaca walks and the alpacas were being fed as we passed. Aww! Next time, I neeeeeed to walk by the lake with an alpaca.

Walking back across the farm tracks, there were the most gorgeous Herdwick sheep watching us. I love them so much. Even though we hadn’t conquered Catbells, we’d done a pretty impressive walk because setting off from the holiday cottage meant a round trip of roughly ten miles. Well done us!

The following day was the penultimate full day of our holiday and, after aching from our walk, we had a more leisurely day visiting the Pencil Museum which is fascinating and the Keswick Local Museum in Fitz Park as well as a wander round some gift shops.

On our final day, we were determined to conquer our first Wainwright and set off for one of the smaller ones at the other side of Fitz Park – Latrigg. This is 368m (1,207ft) but also a gentler climb. In the first photo below, you can see it peaking behind Fitz Park.

It was another gorgeous day and it turned out that the first part of the walk up through the forest was actually the steepest. After that, the path zig-zagged quite a bit. We could see people taking steeper shortcuts but the proper pathway was good for us!

As anticipated, the views from the summit were absolutely stunning but it was certainly chilly up there despite the blue sky!

So that’s our very first Wainwright ticked off and logged in the book. 213 to go!

What an amazing second week and overall a brilliant fortnight away. Hubby and I both needed to work so we weren’t out and about all the time but we certainly managed to fit a lot in. And I got my inspiration for my Lakes series of books. I’m not going to say what it is yet as I’m waiting for my proposal to be approved by my editor but if she does give it the green light, I absolutely can’t wait to write it.

Already planning our return trip to this beautiful part of the world.

Big hugs
Jessica xx

The one where Spring Tides hits a milestone and my publisher wins big

Yesterday (Wednesday 27th April), two special things happened that I wanted to share with you that made me feel very proud.

The first thing was a personal success. Spring Tides at The Starfish Café hit a whopping milestone of 1,000 reviews/ratings on Amazon after just three weeks. Actually, it was the three weeks and one day anniversary to be specific.

Thank you so much to everyone who has left a review or rating, making this milestone possible. Thank you to all those who’ve done this on Apple, Kobo, Audible and anywhere else as I appreciate all reviews, wherever they’re left. I only tend to shout about the Amazon ones because they’re the larger source.

When we released the first book in the series, Snowflakes Over The Starfish Café, we were a little nervous about it. It was the most emotional story I’d ever written, it was set in winter and included Christmas but wasn’t a Christmas book, and it was a new location, albeit within Whitsborough Bay. What if readers didn’t like it? What if they didn’t take to the new setting? What if they thought it was too sad? What if they wanted all the Christmas feels and didn’t like that a warm and fuzzy Christmas glow wasn’t what the book was all about and it centred on characters who struggled at that time of year? As it turns out, we needn’t have worried at all. It’s my most reviewed book to date (4,363 reviews/ratings on Amazon alone at the time of writing this) and possibly my fastest-selling so far!

You’d think that, with that success, I wouldn’t have been nervous about the release of the sequel, Spring Tides at The Starfish Café, but I was. Readers/listeners had actually loved how emotional Snowflakes was but the heartstrings are pulled when Hollie and Jake’s tragic pasts are revealed. In Spring Tides we already know about their pasts and they’re moving forward into the next stage of their lives so this story isn’t as emotional. Would readers reject it for that reason? Thankfully no as the reviews show.

Is this book the quickest to get to the 1,000 milestone? Not quite but almost. That record is held for me by the third book in the Hedgehog Hollow series, Family Secrets at Hedgehog Hollow. Released in early May 2021, HH3 hit 1,000 on the three-week anniversary exactly so Spring Tides is just one day behind! Book 4 in that series, A Wedding at Hedgehog Hollow, reached 1,000 on its four-week anniversary so Spring Tides ‘beat’ that one although I am inclined to think that reviews came in at a slightly slower rate as some readers were still on the Christmas reads at that point and/or waiting until they’d settled into the return to school/work routine after the New Year before reading it.

I’m so proud of those hedgehogs as they keep gathering fans and hedge-hugs with well over 12.5k reviews/ratings between them on Amazon now, each well past the milestone listed below:

The second win yesterday was actually a double win for my amazing publisher, Boldwood Books. They only opened for submissions in February 2019 with their first four titles released in August that year so haven’t even hit their third publication anniversary yet but have already taken the publishing world by storm. Some seriously impressive stats include 77 authors, over 200 titles published, 6 million books sold, 60 top 10 bestsellers, 2 USA Today bestsellers and over 250,000 Amazon 5-star reviews. That’s absolutely amazing! They’ve won several awards during this short time and have been shortlisted for others.

Yesterday at the IPG (Independent Publishers Guild) Independent Publishing Awards 2022, they scooped the win for Trade Publisher of the Year and for Independent Publisher of the Year. Woo hoo! Absolutely amazing and I’m so proud to be part of such an impressive, innovative and friendly team. Photo credit: Boldwood Books, shamelessly nicked from Twitter!

So yesterday was a very happy day for celebrations. And in other happy news this week, I’ve had the title confirmed for the sixth Hedgehog Hollow book and have seen the cover. I love both and can’t wait to share them with you … but that’s for another day.

Big hugs
Jessica xx

The one where we had a gorgeous Easter in the Lake District – Part 1

I’m writing my seventeenth novel at the moment (eek! how did that happen?!) and all the books I’ve written so far are set in one of two places: the fictional North Yorkshire seaside town of Whitsborough Bay or Hedgehog Hollow, a fictional hedgehog rescue centre in the Yorkshire Wolds countryside.

Last year, conscious that the Hedgehog Hollow series would reach a natural end point, I spoke to my publisher about adding a third location to my repertoire. I have the coast and the countryside already and I wanted to add lakes and mountains by setting a series in the stunning Lake District National Park. I was delighted when they said yes.

I love the Lakes and have been a regular visitor since childhood. My parents have been longstanding caravaners and would often take the caravan across to the Lakes – usually the southern ones. In my teens, they bought into a timeshare on the shores of Lake Windermere for a week in early February and, when education then work allowed, I sometimes stayed there. In the August before going away to university, my best friend, older brother and some of his friends went camping there and it holds so many fond memories. We won’t talk about the disastrous camping trip with an ex-boyfriend where it rained constantly, we piled the soggy tent into the back of the car and left early, our relationship ending not long afterwards. Not such fond memories!

Anyway, having secured the Lakes as a future setting for my books, I needed to do some research and we booked a week’s holiday near Thirlmere last August which was amazing. You can read about it and see the photos here.

I also booked for us to have a working/research holiday over this Easter. We spent the first week staying in Bowness by Lake Windermere and the second week in our absolute favourite place: Keswick.

As I have lots of photos, I’m going to divide them across two blog posts and this post is therefore all about our first week in Bowness.

We wanted to be central so that, if hubby and I were working, our daughter (15 and a half) could wander into town on her own from the cottage to explore her favourite store, Neon Sheep. Sadly, Neon Sheep – a gifting store set up by the owners of Mountain Warehouse – has ceased trading so that fettled that!

I found a holiday cottage called ‘Jessica’s Cottage’ so absolutely had to book it. A sign! It felt like it was calling to me. I had hoped to get a photo of me pointing to the cottage name but it only appeared on the gate and was very worn which was disappointing.

The cottage itself had the potential to be lovely but was a bit dated and unloved inside and we had a few problems with a blocked sink, toilet cistern not working consistently and a leaking boiler which put a bit of a dampener on things (literally). The sink and toilet did get sorted fairly quickly but the boiler needed a part and we had to put up with the leak all holiday which wasn’t ideal and I’m waiting to hear back about a partial refund. But this isn’t a moaning post so let’s move onto some photos…

At the end of a row of cottages at the top of a very steep hill, Jessica’s Cottage didn’t have a lake view but we could see Windermere at the other end of the row where it joined the road and I was excited to see a hedgehog crossing area sign on the way down the hill although I didn’t see any hedgehogs while we were there.

Behind the cottages were steep fields and we were able to join a walk up to Brant Fell where there are stunning views over the lake and surrounding countryside. This is the field behind us although our holiday cottage is hidden behind the right one of the pair of trees in the middle of the pic.

Hubby and I had a weekend in the Lakes on our 10th wedding anniversary seven years ago and we discovered Brant Fell then via a slightly different route so it was lovely to go up and see those views again. Shame the weather wasn’t better. As you can see from all my photos from week one, it was very, very dull and grey so the pictures don’t show the Lakes at their absolute best. When there’s a bit of sun and blue sky, they are breathtaking.

The following day I’d arranged to meet up with my fabulous author friend Helen Phifer (do check out her amazing crime books set in the Lake District here). She lives in Cumbria so drove across to Bowness for a scone and coffee. We’d also met up when I was in the area last August and we forgot to take a photo. Guess what? We forgot to take one again this time! Too busy chatting. It was lovely to catch up with her, though, although we couldn’t have done without the torrential downpour that started while we were out and didn’t let up for the rest of the day.

I booked the family in for a visit to Hill Top on the Monday which was one of Beatrix Potter’s farms and is run by the National Trust who have kept the house very much as Potter had it. We’ve visited before but I hadn’t imagined Hedgehog Hollow back then so was keen to return and couldn’t resist wearing my latest Popsy Clothing Helena hedgehog dress and taking my daughter’s childhood Mrs Tiggywinkle with me (much to her mortification) to get some hedgehog-themed pics.

That day we also visited Tarn Hows which is one of my favourite places for a short circular walk round the water. Last time we visited, the munchkin was only little – maybe five or so – and it was a sweltering hot day. It was a slight contrast this time although at least it didn’t rain.

The absolute highlight of our walk was a little incident with a Belted Galloway. There were several notices explaining that this breed of cow was grazing, like this one. Another larger sign had said they were very docile.

We hadn’t made it very far round the tarn when we came across several of the cows munching on the grass and a couple of them on the path. Ella, our sprocker spaniel, was on her lead and we gave them a wide birth and took a couple of photos.

But one of the cows which had been on the path – this one right here…

… clearly didn’t like posing for photos. As the hubby crouched down to get his camera out his backpack, the cow got closer and closer. ‘Cow!’ the daughter and I repeatedly said, perhaps a little unhelpfully. Next moment, the cow gave hubby an almighty shove on the elbow. He dropped his (expensive) camera, whacked himself in the jaw with his shoulder, and nearly toppled over. We shouldn’t laugh, but….!

The daughter moved well away with Ella and that seemed to placate the cow who left the hubby alone and joined its mates for a munch. No cows were hurt in this incident and thankfully no cameras were either although hubby’s jaw was painful for a couple of days afterwards!

We moved on to Hawkshead next where we had the most enormous ice creams. Mmm. Or rather the daughter and I did as hubby wasn’t too fussed. It was only a two-scooper but it was actually a bit too much for me. Definitely not a ‘little’ ice cream! Nice, though.

The day finished with a wander along the Lake Windermere in Bowness where I found ‘my’ boat.

Our destination for later in the week was Ambleside. We caught the ferry from Bowness and, once again, it was a cool and dull day. I had to take the photo that everyone who visits Ambleside takes of the little house on the bridge. If you’d like to know about the history of Bridge House, you can read about it here.

Our week in Bowness was rounded off with a trip to Brockhole which is just outside Windermere. We’ve visited several times and it’s a great place for families as there are stacks of activities but do book online in advance or you may be disappointed. We’d pre-booked for the daughter to go go-carting and decided to add her into archery on arrival but the only slots available were the very end of the day when we’d have been long-gone. The high ropes course is very popular but it’s huge so can take a lot of visitors at once although, again, I’d still book ahead.

If you don’t want to pay for activities (although you will need to pay to park), there’s a huge playground and the grounds are lovely for walking around.

Ooh, and they do the most amazing hot chocolates in the cafe! Nom nom nom. I will point out that they weren’t both for me!

We were ready to move onto Keswick, especially after the boiler problems, but couldn’t get into our second holiday cottage until teatime so we took a trip via Kendal on Good Friday which was fairly deserted, and then stopped at Thirlmere for a walk down to the water’s edge. The sun even made a very brief appearance, although the sky remained grey.

Did I end the week with some inspiration for my Lakes series? Sadly, no, but that – like the weather – was all about to change when we moved to Keswick. I’ll be back before the end of the week with my second post.

Big hugs
Jessica xx

The one where I thank everyone for the amazing Spring Tides Blog Tour

Spring Tides at The Starfish Café – the second book in The Starfish Café series – was released on 5th April and has been on a blog tour. Officially the tour ended on Tuesday but there were a couple of bloggers unable to post on time so I wanted to watch out for those before I posted my thank you. And I was away on holiday and it’s so much easier being on my bigger screen at home.

I was a little apprehensive about how the blog tour of Spring Tides might go as the first book in the series – Snowflakes Over The Starfish Café – had been so well-received. Many of the positive comments were about how emotional the book was, really drawing readers in.

The second book isn’t anywhere near as emotional because readers already know Hollie’s and Jake’s sad stories and this is about them moving forward. Thankfully, the verdict was really positive.

I’ve included some quotes from across the tour. I loved reading every single review so if I you were a blogger on the tour and I haven’t included a quote from you, please be assured it wasn’t that I didn’t like what you had to say. These are all randomly selected from the ones I’ve been given (and I don’t have visuals from all the posts).

Thank you to Rachel Gilbey from Rachel’s Random Resources for organising the tour on behalf of my fabulous publisher Boldwood Books and to all the amazing bloggers/reviewers who took part and shared their lovely comments about the story and my writing. It’s appreciated so much.

Thank you also to several fabulous bloggers/reviewers who kindly posted reviews during the first fortnight outside of the official blog tour and to all the readers who have posted reviews and ratings. At the time of writing this post, there are over 800 of these on Amazon which is so amazing.

I’ve been blown away by how well this book has done. Pre-orders in the first week put me into the Top 3 on the Bookstat E-Book chart shared by The Bookseller. This chart is made up of sales of eBooks, print books and audio titles online. Most charts record physical book sales only so it’s wonderful that this chart exists and an honour to be so high. The last two Hedgehog Hollow books made it into this chart but I think they were both #6 or #7. Having said that, the sales volumes were very similar – possibly higher – so where a title appears in this chart is very much around what else is out at the time.

Two and a half weeks since release, the eBook is still in the Kindle Top 100 and the Audible Top 100 which is such a thrill. These amazing reviews and recommendations will have helped it stay there.

Book three – Summer Nights at The Starfish Café – will be out on 3rd April 2023 and is available for pre-order on Kindle here now. It will be available in other formats nearer the time.

Thank you again for all the book love for Spring Tides at The Starfish Café. It’s made for a very happy month.

Big grateful hugs
Jessica xx

The one where I wish you a Happy Easter and share an offer in Australia

Hello everyone and Happy Easter. Whether the bank holiday weekend has religious meaning for you or not, I hope you’ve had a restful one so far and haven’t over indulged on chocolate!

I’ve been self employed for about seven years now so a bank holiday doesn’t always mean a break for me but, when I was employed, I used to love the long four-day weekend, particularly when Easter fell in April meaning the May Day bank holiday weekend would follow soon after. If there were three four-day weeks in a row, that was such a special treat although this year we have one full week before the May Day weekend.

I took a few photos of my books in Easter poses (can books pose?) intending to share them across the weekend but I didn’t think to schedule them and, as we’re away at the moment, I forgot to share any until yesterday. I thought I’d therefore share a few here instead of waste them! Hope you like them.

Today – Monday 18th April – most of my books are on offer in Australia. It’s nearing the end of the day in Australia as I write this but please do spread the word if you read it and it’s still Monday in Australia!

Six of my books are on a one-day Goldbox deal at 99c: Making Wishes at Bay View, Finding Hope at Lighthouse Cove, Coming Home to Seashell Cottage, Finding Love at Hedgehog Hollow, New Arrivals at Hedgehog Hollow and Family Secrets at Hedgehog Hollow.

The offer doesn’t end there. Another six of my books are in the Kindle Monthly Deal: All You Need is Love and the three books in the Christmas on Castle Street series – Christmas Wishes at the Chocolate Shop, Christmas at Carly’s Cupcakes, Starry Skies Over The Chocolate Pot Cafe – are all only $1.29. New Beginnings at Seaside Blooms and The Secret to Happiness are also in the Kindle Monthly Deal although they’re $2.59 and $3.19 respectively.

And in case you wanted to almost complete the set, A Wedding at Hedgehog Hollow and Snowflakes Over The Starfish Cafe are both on a $2.19 offer. So many bargains to be had!

Enjoy the rest of your Easter weekend.

Big chocolatey hugs
Jessica xx

The one where it’s publication day for Spring Tides at The Starfish Café

Happy publication day to me! Spring Tides at The Starfish Café – book 2 in the series – is out today. Yay!

A huge thank you to everyone who has pre-ordered it on eBook or audio formats, or has purchased it today. That’s so kind of you. Happy reading/listening!

I love this story and hope readers and listeners will too. Anyone who read the acknowledgements in the back of book 1 – Snowflakes Over The Starfish Café – will know that part of this story was originally in that book. I submitted it thinking something wasn’t quite right but couldn’t pinpoint what. Thankfully my amazing editor, Nia, could and it was that I had two stories in one book but didn’t have the word count to do justice to either of them. So Snowflakes focuses purely on Hollie and Jake meeting and their tragic backstories, and Spring Tides is about their developing relationship with the storyline removed from Snowflakes and a couple of new characters.

Spring Tides at The Starfish Café embarks on a 15-day / 45 stop blog tour from today. That’s epic! Thank you so much to the amazing bloggers/reviewers who’ve signed up and the amazing Rachel Gilbey of Rachel’s Random Resources for organising it. Thanks also to the reviewers who aren’t on the tour but have already or will share their reviews.

One of my Boldwood buddies, the lovely crime author Mary Grand, asked me this week whether I still get nervous about publication day now that I’ve written so many books. The answer is yes! This is my 15th release through Boldwood Books but it’s actually my 28th publication day, having had nine indie release days and four with my original publisher. I’m into more of a rhythm about what to expect but the nerves are always there, bubbling away beneath the surface, typically triggered by my pesky imposter syndrome: What if this is the book readers/listeners hate? What if this is the one where they realise I can’t write?

I’ve been working hard on my imposter syndrome and I don’t feel quite so worried with this release. It helps that there’ve been so many lovely reviews from ARCs (Advance Reader Copies). There have, of course, been some who haven’t enjoyed it – there always are – but it’s overwhelmingly been positively received.

Today I’ll be mostly sharing on social media and responding to the lovely comments that come through. The lovely Fiona Jenkins and Sue Baker are hosting a publication party over on Heidi Swain and Friends – A Facebook Book Club – which is very kind and generous of them. My friends over on The Friendly Book Community have a publication day interview with me and there’s lots more going on. Thank you to everyone who gets involved and makes this day so special.

On Thursday this week, I have a very exciting event planned. I’m going to be joined by members of the RNLI – specifically Scarborough Lifeboat Station – for a Facebook Live. It’s at 6pm on the Book and Tonic Facebook Page and will be available to watch afterwards if anyone can’t join us live. If you can join us live, though, there’ll be an opportunity to ask questions. The crew are so inspirational and I’m so looking forward to chatting with them.

In related news, I was so excited to see Snowflakes Over The Starfish Café reach a whopping review milestone yesterday of 4,000 reviews/ratings over on Amazon. This is my most-reviewed book now, despite it being one of the most recent releases. It hit 4k yesterday, just in time for publication day so what a lovely way to celebrate.

If you haven’t already read Snowflakes, you can grab it for free if you’re in Prime Reading or Kindle Unlimited globally, and it’s only 99p (or equivalent internationally) for the eBook so this is a great opportunity to discover Hollie and Jake’s origin stories before reading Spring Tides. You can read Spring Tides as a standalone book and I do inject some of the backstory so readers aren’t lost but you’ll get a much richer experience if you’ve read the full series.

And, finally, I’m delighted to announce that book 3 – Summer Nights at The Starfish Café – is now available for pre-order on Amazon. Please don’t get annoyed with me but there’s a year to wait for this one. It’s out on 3rd April 2023 and you can pre-order it for Kindle here. The reason for the year is I have the Hedgehog Hollow series to finish first (two books out in June and September) and there’s either going to be a Castle Street standalone book out in January or the start of a new series. Spring Tides doesn’t end on a cliffhanger, though, so hopefully readers/listeners will forgive me for the year and remember that many authors only write one book a year and some even write one every two years.

Big publication day hugs
Jessica xx

Author Interview – Jessica Redland

Thank you to My Sanctuary for this lovely interview last month x

My Sanctuary

Jessica Redlandwas born in Teesside but now lives on the stunning North Yorkshire Coast which inspired the creation of the fictional seaside town of Whitsborough Bay where she sets all her books.

She lives with her husband, daughter, Sprocker Spaniel and is a self-confessed stationery addict. She loves chocolate, although it doesn’t love her, 80s music, collectible teddy bears and lighthouses.

Her dream is to be able to write full-time one day but, until then, she has a day job as an HR Tutor and tries to balance her time – usually unsuccessfully – between that and writing.

What inspire you to write a book?

All sorts of things. Ideas come from so many places. The first book I wrote was inspired by a real event that happened to me. Another was inspired by my experience of setting up and running my own shop. I have one where the…

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