The one where I talk about my publication day charms

Yesterday was publication day for Starry Skies Over The Chocolate Pot Cafe and, on the evening, I participated in a Facebook Live with my fabulous editor, Nia Beynon.

The very first Trollbead representing being an author

I was thrilled with the number of attendees and how many have watched the video since. If you would like to watch it, you can access it on Boldwood’s Book and Tonic Facebook page here.

I started to write my debut novel and learned my craft while running my own specialist teddy bear shop so a bear had to feature

There were some fabulous questions posed before the event and some great ones on the night. One came from the 10-year-old daughter of fellow Boldwood author, Emma Murray (do check out Emma’s witty and uplifting debut novel, Time Out, if you haven’t already done so – find it here). Ava asked: “Do you reward yourself for reaching writing milestones? And if so, what do you reward yourself with?”

To the right of the bear is a round charm with hearts on it to represent writing books about love and friendship (apologies for slightly blurred image!)

My initial response was to say that no I don’t, but I probably should and then it struck me that there is something I used to do which I hadn’t really thought of as a reward for reaching a writing milestone yet it is exactly that. More on that later.

This conch represents all my novels being set on the coast and the heart was an added bonus linking it back to them being stories of love & friendship

When my debut novel – New Beginnings at Seaside Blooms – was originally released in June 2015 (under a different title), I held a launch party for friends and family. I certainly wasn’t expecting presents but I was spoilt with flowers, bubbly and other gorgeous gifts. One of my friends, Carrie, gave me a leather thong bracelet with a Trollbead charm on it in the shape of three books. This was extra perfect for me as that novel was originally part of a trilogy (it is now the 2nd book in a 4-book series).

This lovely circle of flowers was for New Beginnings at Seaside Blooms because the protagonist, Sarah, runs a florists

Carrie’s husband’s family owned a jeweller’s at the time but they were selling up as Carrie and her family were emigrating to Canada. We therefore took advantage of their closing-down sale and brought several more troll beads which I felt represented my writing journey so far.

I really struggled for something to represent Making Wishes at Bay View which, at the time, was called Raving About Rhys. Rhys is a gardener and the cover had purple flowers on it so I went for a purple glass bead with flowers on it. If I was to buy a Trollbead now, ‘wishes’ would probably give more inspiration (although see the star later)

The bracelet is now (almost) full and takes me from first putting fingers to keyboard until the publication of my last pre-Boldwood release. All of my back catalogue has already been or will be re-published by Boldwood so the only books not represented here are the ones that were new for Boldwood Books: The Secret to Happiness and Finding Love at Hedgehog Hollow. I need to decide whether to buy charms to represent them and squeeze them onto the bracelet, to start a new bracelet or to think of something different. Hmm. If I did stick with charms, a hedgehog is the obvious one for Finding Love… but I’m not sure about Secret. Again, hmm.

In Finding Hope at Lighthouse Cove, protagonist Elise drives a lime green Beetle called Bertie which features quite a lot in the story, hence the Beetle

I’m so delighted that my friend brought me my first Trollbead. My bracelet of charms means so much to me. Going back to Ava’s question, I originally thought that adding a charm was simply to remember each book I published but it’s really to celebrate a major milestone achieved and all the highs and lows that may be experienced in getting that book out to publication. Thank you so much, Ava, for making that connection for me as I honestly hadn’t thought of it like that.

I really wanted a four-leaf clover for Coming Home to Seashell Cottage to represent Clare’s Irish roots and part of the book being set in Ireland. I could only get one as part of a special set with a new bracelet. Any excuse!

I hope you enjoy my journey through my Trollbeads. Do you do anything to celebrate milestones achieved, whether that’s relating to writing or any aspect of your life? I’d love to hear your comments.

Big hugs

Jessica xx

PS Apologies for the formatting. It looked perfect until I uploaded it and I’m too lazy to change it as I haven’t got my head around the new block layout yet!

It’s not so easy to make this one out in the picture but it’s a polar bear hugging a baby polar bear. Although Bear With Me (to be re-edited & re-released by Boldwood next year) doesn’t feature polar bears, it does feature bears so this was a perfect fit, especially as I already had a teddy bear to represent my starting point

My next release was Charlee and the Chocolate Shop: A Tale of Two Christmases (also to be re-edited & re-released next year). I struggled to find anything chocolate-related so went for snowflakes to represent Christmas

Making Wishes at Bay View is the amalgamation of a novella and a short sequel novel (formerly Raving About Rhys and Callie’s Christmas Wish). The star therefore represented Christmas wishes (sort of!)
I so wanted a cupcake to represent Christmas at Carly’s Cupcakes but didn’t manage to find one. A key scene is where Carly makes snow angels in a deserted Castle Street and therefore mittens seemed appropriate for that

And, finally, we have a mug representing hot chocolate at The Chocolate Pot in Starry Skies Over The Chocolate Pot Cafe

The one where Starry Skies Over The Chocolate Pot Cafe is published

It’s publication day for Starry Skies Over The Chocolate Pot Café. Yay! Happy publication day to me!

Starry Skies Over The Chocolate Pot Café was previously available under the title of Starry Christmas at The Chocolate Pot Café. Just like my ‘Welcome to Whitsborough Bay’ series which got refreshed and re-released under new titles earlier this year, it’s one of my back catalogue books that my fabulous publishers, Boldwood Books, have acquired and breathed fresh life into.

If you’d like to know more about the changes, you can read my previous blog post about this here.

The prequel, Christmas at Carly’s Cupcakes, was released last month and it didn’t make sense to have a blog tour for both when there was only three weeks separating their publication dates so, instead, we have an enormous 3-week 63-stops ‘Christmas on Castle Street’ tour. Some bloggers will review both – which is why some names appear twice – and some will review just one.

A huge thank you to Boldwood Books, Rachel Gilbey from RachelsRandomResources, the tour organiser, and everyone who is participating. Book bloggers don’t take any payment for reviewing books. They do it because they are passionate about reading and the support they provide in promoting the work of authors is invaluable.

The links and blurbs for both books are at the end of this post.

What am I doing today? I have finally learned that there’s no point trying to write on publication day as there’s so much activity on social media that it’s hard to concentrate so, for the first time ever, I have taken the day off. I still have lots to do. We had some new bedroom furniture delivered yesterday and it’s still in boxes around the house which will get unpacked later, in between me responding to all the lovely congratulations messages and excitedly checking chart positions!

Tonight I’m on a Facebook Live in conversation with my fabulous editor, Nia Beynon. It will be at 7-8pm over on the Book and Tonic Facebook page so hope you can join us.

Have a fabulous day and hope to see you later at the Facebook Live.

Big hugs

Jessica xx

CHRISTMAS AT CARLY’S CUPCAKES

It’s the most wonderful time of the year…
It’s December on Castle Street; the fairy lights are twinkling, snow has settled and the festive season is in full swing.

For Carly, the owner of Carly’s Cupcakes, it’s the busiest time of year getting everyone’s Christmas treats ready on time. However with her clumsy sister, Bethany, as a co-worker, it’s proving a difficult task. They say you shouldn’t mix work with family. Maybe they have a point…

As Christmas approaches, Carly is also eagerly awaiting the return of her best friend to Whitborough Bay. Liam has no idea he’s been the object of her affection since their schooldays. After years of pining after him, can Carly pluck up the courage to finally tell him how she really feels by 25th December?

Could a little festive magic make all of Carly’s wishes come true this Christmas…?

A heartwarming, short festive story of friendship and family from bestseller Jessica Redland. You can find out what happens to Carly next through exploring her best friend Tara’s story in Starry Skies Over The Chocolate Pot Café

This is a new and updated version of Christmas at Carly’s Cupcakes which has been previously published.


You can buy it here.

STARRY SKIES OVER THE CHOCOLATE POT CAFE

Cosy up with a mug of hot chocolate for some festive sparkle from bestseller Jessica Redland.

Everyone is getting into the festive spirit on Castle Street – snow is falling, fairy lights are glistening and Christmas shopping is underway.

But for Tara Porter, owner of thriving cafe, The Chocolate Pot, this is the most difficult time of the year. From the outside, Tara is a successful businesswoman and pillar of the community. Behind closed doors, she is lonely. 

With a lifetime of secrets weighing on her shoulders, she has retreated from all friends, family and romance, and shut her real self away from the world. Afterall, if you don’t let them in, they can’t hurt you. She’s learnt that the hard way.

But as the weight of her past becomes heavier and an unexpected new neighbour moves onto the street – threatening the future of her cafe – Tara begins to realise that maybe it’s time to finally let people back in and confront her history. It could just change her life forever…

Starry Skies Over The Chocolate Pot Café was originally released as Christmas at The Chocolate Pot Café. Now re-released with a new title and new cover, this version has been freshly edited and features several new chapters.

You can buy it here.

What’s on my wall? (Part 8) Monday Motivation

For part 8 of my ‘What’s on my wall?’ #MondayMotivation series, I’ve selected a really special canvas and probably one of the most important pictures/signs I have on my wall.

My husband, Mark, presented this to me on the day my debut novel was published in June 2015 as part of a 3-set of canvases, the others being the book cover for my debut and for a novella that was released a couple of weeks before.

The two book cover canvases are no longer on my wall because these were the covers from my original publishers who ceased trading. Both books then received a fresh cover when I re-released them as each an indie author. Then another revised one. They have since been re-released through Boldwood Books with different titles and a fourth new cover each!

The quote on this sign is so special:

“The two most important days in your life are the day you are born and the day you find out why” (Mark Twain)

Isn’t that just fabulous?

This quote came up on the credits at the end of a film Mark was watching and it resonated with him as being so appropriate for me in relation to how I feel about writing. If I didn’t write, I wouldn’t be me. I’d be lost. It is very much a part of me and I feel strange when I’m not at my keyboard creating, as though part of me is missing.

The day I finished writing my first book was the day I found out why I’d been born. Writing gave me a purpose and a goal. But this year has brought something unexpected. My books have actually helped others. I’ve been quite overwhelmed by the number of messages I’ve had from readers saying that they have discovered my books and binge-reading them has provided valuable escapism, helping them through these challenging times. It’s really humbling to think that my imagination and words have touched others in this way.

I can’t thank my husband and daughter enough for how supportive they are with my writing and the moments when I’m so lost in my creative world that I’m unable to concentrate on anything in reality. I’ll always cherish this canvas from them, reminding me of the day I fulfilled my first goal of becoming a published author, and the day I became the person I was always meant to be.

Do you agree with this quote? Have you found out your purpose? I’d love to hear from you if you have or you’re on your way.

Big hugs

Jessica xx

The one where Seaside Blooms has done blooming well

This week, New Beginnings at Seaside Blooms – the second book in my ‘Welcome to Whitsborough Bay’ series has dropped out of the UK’s Kindle Top 100 after nearly four months. Oh. My. God! FOUR MONTHS!!!

This is the first book I ever wrote and was my debut release in June 2015 under the title Searching for Steven. It shifted about 2,000 copies through my original publisher then as an indie author after they ceased trading. It wasn’t setting the world alight but I was fairly pleased. After all, when I wrote it, I had no plans to become a published author; I simply had an idea for a book and wondered if I could write one.

When Boldwood Books took on my back catalogue and we did a fresh edit on Searching for Steven and re-released it as New Beginnings at Seaside Blooms, never did I imagine that I’d be able to add another zero to that sales figure or experience four months in the Top 100, peaking at #14.

I have to be honest and say that it did dip out of the Top 100 once during that four months when, on 20th August, it was only as high as #101. But that’s pretty close isn’t it? I’m allowing that.

I’m thrilled to have gathered 234 reviews/ratings on Amazon, 92% if which are positive. Of course, you can’t please all the people all of the time and I have a few scathing negative reviews including this accolade:

Ouch!

And this 1-star review from someone who definitely didn’t like the main character:

Also ouch!

But so many people have loved this book and gone on to read – and love – the rest of the series. And I’m so very grateful to those who have shared their love in a positive review.

If you haven’t read it yet, you can download it here for Kindle. It’s available on Kobo, AppleBooks and in paperback and audio formats. You can borrow the audio version from your library if they have the uLibrary App or you can listen to it on Spotify. And, if you’re in Australia, it’s on a special offer on Kindle until the end of September as part of Kindle’s Monthly Deal.

I’m so proud of this book. It was a wallflower in the shadows for a long time but found its sunflower moment under Boldwood and took that moment to shine. Sometimes reader love can bloom when you least expect it!

To anyone struggling to make an impact – whether that is in writing or any other aspect of your life – hang in there because your moment to shine could be just around the corner.

Big hugs

Jessica xx

From those who loved it…

The one where The Secret to Happiness is a year old

One year ago today, The Secret to Happiness was published. Happy book-birthday to me! It’s an exceptionally special book-birthday because this was the first of my books released by my amazing publishers, Boldwood Books. It was the book that secured me my publishing deal.

Originally titled Wish I Could Tell You Goodbye, it tells the story of three women – Alison, Danniella and Karen – who are struggling to let go of something/someone from their past. They all meet at a beach-based bootcamp run by Karen and it explores whether the power of friendship can give the women the strength to move on and find the happiness they deserve.

It’s an emotional but uplifting story which I love and I was sure that, after several years as an indie writer, it would secure me a publishing deal. It didn’t at first. When Boldwood opened for submissions, it had been rejected by five different publishers. Five rejections is not a lot in the grand scheme of things but I took each one to heart and was crushed by them. Because I’d already released nine books, originally with a publisher and then via an independent route – all with great feedback – I started to seriously doubt myself. I wondered if I’d tried to be too clever writing about three women instead of just having one protagonist (like in all my books except Bear With Me which has two). I wondered whether I’d lost my writing mojo.

On the shelves in The Works

But this is a positive post and I want to focus on the amazing things that have happened since what became The Secret to Happiness found its home at Boldwood. I have pasted my rejection feedback at the end if anyone is curious. For authors, this may give the encouragement to keep going as, what one editor passes on, another may feel passionate about.

Thankfully, Boldwood thought differently to the other five publishers and offered me a 9-book deal for this book plus another three new ones, and five novels from my back catalogue! Wow!

And I couldn’t be happier. I’m a firm believer in everything happening for a reason. I believe I was always destined to join Boldwood so I’m grateful for those rejections because they meant I could find my true home.

What has The Secret to Happiness done for me?

  • Over 9k paperbacks in branches of The Works around the UK
  • Sold nearly 500 audio copies*
  • Sold nearly 15k eBooks*
  • #122 in the UK Kindle Chart
  • #9 on the Canada Kindle Chart
  • #20 on the Australia Kindle Chart
  • #35 on the overall AppleBooks Chart and #10 on the Romance Chart
  • Secured 123 ratings/reviews on Amazon UK, 92% of which are 4 or 5-star
  • Secured 43 ratings on AppleBooks UK, all of which are 4 or 5-star

* Up until end June 2020

Reviews/Ratings on Amazon UK

This book took a struggling indie writer and turned her into an international bestselling author! Eek! Still can’t quite believe that!

I cannot thank my amazing editor, Nia Beynon, enough for believing in this book and helping shape and polish it ready for publication. And thank you to the team at Boldwood Books and the fabulously talented authors there who’ve supported and promoted my work.

If you haven’t yet read it, now’s your chance as it has been selected for Kindle UK’s September Monthly Deal and is 99p for the whole of the month. Kobo and AppleBooks also have it for 99p.

You can find it for Kindle here or on Audible here.

If you prefer paperbacks, The Works sold out really quickly online but you may still be able to find a copy in your local branch. Alternatively paperbacks can be ordered via Amazon. Or you could win a copy!

Yes, to celebrate The Secret to Happiness’s 1st book-birthday, I’m giving away THREE signed copies. There’ll be one book given away in a competition on Facebook, one on Instagram and one on Twitter. I’ll share details from my various social media accounts but they’ll appear first on Boldwood’s social media. You can find them as:

  • Book & Tonic on Facebook and Instagram
  • @BoldwoodBooks on Twitter

So watch out for news of how to win!

In the meantime, have an amazing week/weekend and thank you once more to everyone who has discovered The Secret to Happiness or is about to discover it!

Big hugs

Jessica xx

And, as promised, here’s the rejections…

“Concept intriguing and writing engaging [but] not suitable for our list.”

“Created a great ensemble cast .. setting well delineated … [but the] concept wasn’t quite ‘hooky’ enough to stand out in a very crowded market.”

“While the premise is fun and engaging and original, we just feel the bootcamp idea is not quite right for us at this time. I do think it’s very well written, however, so please don’t let this stop you – you just need a cracking idea and you’ll be on your way.”

“I absolutely loved diving into the world you’ve conjured here … [but] as the story went on I struggled to empathise with the characters as much as I wanted to. Rather than being invested in their journeys I felt they lacked the necessary depth and layers, I wanted to see more of their emotions and feelings on the page. In such a competitive book market we have to ensure we feel passionate about the book and characters and sadly I just couldn’t find myself getting lost in Alison or Karen’s story as I couldn’t connect with them. In terms of next step I recommend looking at how you can weave more depth into the characters, offering readers different layers to uncover from them all.”

“Your writing is great, and there is huge warmth and emotion in your narrative. All of the women’s stories are hugely poignant, but because there were three of them, it felt at times like there wasn’t quite enough space for each story, including the tragic events before the book begins, to be fully explored. The women’s fiction market is so tricky at the moment, and what we tend to be looking for at the moment are in-depth emotional stories with a tight scope, or high-concept stories that can be pitched in a single line. I’m afraid that Wish I Could Tell You Goodbye didn’t quite hit the mark for me.”