Trolls aren’t always nasty

What do you think of when you hear the word ‘troll’? Do you revert to your childhood and recall the Three Billy Goats Gruff (Goat’s???) and the troll who lurked under the bridge, waiting to munch on the poor creatures? Or do you think more modern-day and those despicable individuals who hide behind their computers bullying, tormenting, and generally making the lives of others difficult?

When I think of trolls, I don’t think of either of those things. Instead, I think of a very special piece of jewellery: my Trollbeads bracelet.


It all started at my launch party for Searching for Steven last June. Some of the guests very generously (and most unexpectedly) brought me cards and gifts. Friends of mine, Carrie and Andrew, gave me a leather Trollbeads strap with a lovely little silver charm consisting of a pile of three books. Very appropriate for a writer. I loved it. The only problem was, my little book charm was a little bit lonely on its own. But Christmas was just around the corner.

When I was looking at the Trollbeads to decide which I might like as a Christmas gift, it struck me that I had the opportunity to build a really special bracelet that related purely to my writing journey.

Andrew’s family own a jewellery shop, but it’s closing down. His parents are retiring and Andrew, Carrie and their children are emigrating to Canada so there are some amazing bargains to be had in Sizer Jewellers. I admit that I might have added a little more than my Christmas beads as I only have until the end of this month to bag a discount, with my most recent addition being the silver bracelet and lock that hubby bought me for Valentine’s Day as I was concerned the weight of all the charms might be a problem for the leather strap.

I have beads that summarise my writing: a teddy bear (I started writing Steven when I owned a teddy bear shop and I’d write in the shop on quiet days, plus I have an ‘Easter Egg’ of a teddy bear appearing in every book as a nod to this), the little pile of books, a glass bead with hearts round it (the purple/pink one above) to symbolise me writing romance, and a shell with a heart on it (next to the purple/pink bead) to represent that my setting is by the sea on the stunning North Yorkshire Coast.

_MG_3735-EditI have a bead (or two) to represent each book. In Steven, Sarah runs a florist shop. The orangey-red glass bead on the left has flowers around it and it’s also the colours of the writing on the cover of the novel. Although you probably can’t quite see it in the photo, there’s a silver charm to the left of it made up of flowers.

My second full-length novel (out on 3rd March) is Getting Over Gary. The colour focus for the cover is green so I have a green glass bead. The main character, Elise, has a lime green Beatle (which is why I went for green on the cover) and I have a lovely Beatle charm too.

_MG_3748-EditI didn’t want to forget about my novella, Raving About Rhys. I confess I couldn’t think of an item that symbolised Rhys like flowers symbolised Steven and a Beatle symbolised Gary but I could still go with the colour scheme. Rhys has purples on the front so I went for a purple glass bead.

My final full-length novel of the trilogy isn’t finished yet and it isn’t out until late summer, but Sizer’s won’t be open then so I’ve sort of pre-empted it. The green glass bead that represents Gary also has links with book 3 (working title: Discovering David). David is Clare’s story and Clare is Irish. The green bead appears to have little shamrocks on it. Perfect. But I would still like something else to represent David. I have something in mind, but the stock at Sizer’s is understandably running low so I’m going to need to look elsewhere for that.

_MG_3746-EditIn a really naughty pre-emptive strike, I have also made a purchase that represents my fourth full-length novel: Bear With Me. It’s a polar bear cuddling a baby polar bear and is perfect for the story I have in mind.

I absolutely love my bracelet and have to thank Carrie, Andrew and family for such a thoughtful generous gift that’s kick-started a lovely memento of my writing career. If you’d like to bag yourself a bargain, you can find Sizer’s website at but don’t leave it long. Closing date is 29th February.

To any writers out there, do you have a collection that you add to each time you write/launch a book? I’d love to hear about it.

Jessica xx

Putting the Whitby in Whitsborough Bay

Yesterday was a great day for me for two reasons. One was that it was Pancake Day and I just love pancakes. The sight and smell of them takes me back to childhood when my older brother and I used to wolf down pancakes quicker than mum could cook them in an effort to be the one to eat the most. I have butter and sugar on them. Yes, I know there probably couldn’t be much more of an unhealthy topping than that, but if you’re going to pig out, you might as well do it in style! Oink!

IMG_0814The other reason yesterday was a great day was a far more important one. After work, I travelled half an hour up the stunning North Yorkshire Coast to Whitby Library where I attended the final of four talks that I booked through North Yorkshire Libraries last year after the launch of my debut novel, Searching for Steven.

Whilst I don’t get nervous about speaking in front of an audience thanks to years of being a Trainer, there’s always a sense of trepidation as to how many people might actually turn up. And what if nobody does? I was delighted to have an audience of eleven last night, plus library staff.

There’d been a couple of writers in the audience for my very first talk at Scarborough Library last June, but there were several members of the local writing group who attended last night and it was a real treat to have a mix of readers and writers. One of the writers was incredibly supportive. On arrival, she immediately told me that she’d bought a ticket as she loves to hear writers speak, then she’d spotted my book on display so immediately borrowed it, read it, and loved it. Awww. How very kind of her.

IMG_1557I have a standard presentation that I deliver, giving a little bit of background about me (day job, family etc.), why I write under a pseudonym, what got me into writing, where the idea for Steven came from, how I developed the story, the road to publication, and launch day. However, I tweak it every time and am always open to questions. The group had lots of questions ranging from whether I was local, whether I used any software to write on (e.g. Scrivener) and, “What’s the difference between romantic comedy and chick-lit?”

My generous audience then bought six copies of Steven and four copies of Raving About Rhys. This isn’t available to buy as a paperback, but I had a number of copies printed as an exclusive for events such as this.

Whitby was a library I was particularly pleased to speak at because Whitby’s a very special place. I was brought up in a market town about forty minutes inland and north of Whitby and often visited there in my childhood. I have wonderful memories of being there with my late grandparents, of trips into the town as a Guide and Ranger (there’s a Girlguiding House in the nearby village of Egton), and more recently visits with my own family.

P1050480My very first published writing was inspired by Whitby: a short story appearing in the English Heritage anthology Whitby Abbey Pure Inspiration featuring short stories set at or inspired by Whitby Abbey and sold in aid of the Abbey itself.

And, finally, Whitby part of the inspiration for my Whitsborough Bay series of books. Whitsborough Bay is a fictional North Yorkshire seaside town, but it’s pretty much my hometown of Scarborough with a bit of Whitby and Robin Hood’s Bay mixed in there (see where I got the name?)

The lovely writer who’d read Steven said she actually pictured Sarah’s shop, Flowers & Gifts, as being a particular florists in Whitby, with other settings in and around the town. I loved the idea that there was enough detail for her to picture the setting but not so much that she couldn’t create her own sense of place.

IMG_1213.JPGA huge thanks need to go to Chrys, Heather, Sharon and all the other staff at North Yorkshire Libraries who’ve organised such professional, welcoming events for me. I felt particularly honoured last night that there was a banner outside announcing the event. Made me feel quite famous and important! Hee hee! Thanks also to Sainsbury’s who provided a couple of raffle prizes and some chocolates which was very kind of them, and The Whitby Gazette who sent a photographer round and who are going to cover the event in the paper. Exciting!

I don’t have any more talks booked in just yet at the libraries, but I’m sure I’ll do more as the year progresses. My next talk is at the Scarborough Writer’s Circle next month which I’m really looking forward to.

Jessica xx

It’s Time for a Change of Scenery … Nearly

We’ve got our house on the market. I hate moving house. Packing up a house full of belongings takes an eternity and the home becomes less of a place of comfort and more like a warehouse with all the boxes and crates stacked everywhere. Yet it’s exciting too because packing up signals new beginnings. A fresh start. Something different. If it happens. Because even worse than the boxes everywhere is the stage we’re in now: the waiting. When will it sell? Will it sell at all? For an impatient person like me, this kills!

If I hate moving so much, why are we doing it? We like our house but we don’t love it. It’s on a lovely little estate, it’s a good size, and we’ve decorated it how we want, but it’s just not us. You see, we love old properties and ours was built this century. We love thick walls, beamed ceilings, picture rails, sash windows and everything that gives an old property that incredible character and, for me as a writer, gives inspiration.

Which begs the question, why on earth did we buy a new property when it’s not us?

P1020460It was actually a means to an end. We lived in a large three-storey five-bed property in the centre of town, but we wanted to move out of town for various reasons. This was six years ago. The housing market was difficult and we were struggling to sell. We managed to do a house-swap. The owner of the home we live in now wanted to buy a property abroad. He’d been struggling to sell too. Buying our house and renting it out meant he could release equity to buy the property abroad, and we got our wish to move out of town, even if it wasn’t a move to our preferred village or type or property.

Six years down the line and we’ve decided that it’s time for a change of scenery. We’re ready to move to the character property of our dreams. We’ve found somewhere we really like and have to just hope that it’s still available when we get an offer on ours. It’s a three-bed terrace cottage with thick walls and beams, shutters on the windows, and gorgeous features. Even better, it has some enormous workshops that have so much potential to become an incredible creative space for a writer and a photographer (hubby’s passion).

The workshops require work, but the rest of the property is in great condition with just a bit of decorating to do here and there. Today, we thought we’d better check out another property just in case the one we’ve already seen sells before ours. It was a very different type of house. Still old, with thick walls and beams, it was an empty property that hadn’t been updated for many years: a project.

Blue PlacqueI’d like to think that I can see beyond old fashioned decor, swirly carpets, and overgrown gardens to visualise what a property could become. Surely for a writer who imagines new places and people all the time, this should be second nature. And yet I couldn’t quite muster that imagination today. The house has an incredible amount of potential and I’m sure that, with time and quite a lot of money, someone will turn it into a beautiful home. That someone won’t be me. I don’t have the time. I don’t have the money. And I don’t have the will. Because the main difference between the two properties was that the first felt like a home for a writer and the second didn’t. I could picture myself in the third bedroom of the cottage or in the workshop, tapping away at a keyboard and creating a fresh novel. I couldn’t imagine myself doing that in the house we saw today. Something was missing. So when (if) we sell our house, the house for today won’t be our new home. It won’t be the place where I pen my next novel. But I’m glad we looked around it because no experience is a lost experience. The rooms, the garden, and hubby falling through the floorboards in the attic room could all be used at some point, somewhere. Hee hee. Can’t believe hubby fell through a floorboard. I really shouldn’t laugh. We’ve decided that perhaps that was a sign that the property didn’t want us either!

Keeping everything crossed that we’ll get an offer on ours quickly and the cottage is still available. Looking for a new home for the blue plaque my dad made me for Searching for Steven‘s launch day!