The one where we travelled up the coast to Redcar and Saltburn

I’m a bit of a workaholic and, as my job is also my hobby, I do have a tendency to work 7 days a week including evenings although, as I’ve mentioned in previous posts, this time at my desk isn’t always spent productively. I’ve pretty much perfected the art of procrastination!

Anyway, in an effort to break the constantly working thing, we’re trying to have one day each weekend where we go out as a family. A week ago we had a lovely visit to Sandsend and Whitby and on Sunday we decided to venture a little further up the coast to Saltburn.

Saltburn – or to give it its full name Saltburn-by-the-sea – is fifty miles from Scarborough but we’re talking slow coastal roads to get there so over an hour’s drive. It’s still in North Yorkshire but within the borough of Redcar and Cleveland and it’s very close to where I was raised. I was born in Middlesbrough but lived in the market town of Guisborough from when I was was three until I officially left home for my first job after graduating university. None of my family live in Guisborough anymore so it’s not an area we usually visit.

Guisborough is only five miles from Saltburn so we’d sometimes visit the beach there when I was younger and, when I was at college, I occasionally frequented a club there called Philmores which was the place to go if you wanted to get in under-age! It closed in the 1990s and is now a hotel.

As we neared Saltburn, I mentioned that I was curious to visit Redcar which is another six miles or so further up the coast. A similar distance from Guisborough as Saltburn, Redcar was where I went to college. I didn’t fancy doing A levels at the local sixth form, choosing instead to study a BTEC in Business & Finance at Redcar’s technical college (Cleveland Tech). I left college in 1990 and visited a few times in the years that followed as I had a couple of friends who lived there but it has to be at least twenty-five years since I last went and quite possibly more.

It was a particularly cold and grey morning when we arrived in Redcar and we parked at the far end in Coatham where the natural beauty of the beach and sand dunes sit alongside the man-made – Teesside Wind Farm with container ships passing by, and British Steel. The munchkin was not impressed with the industrial setting but hubby and I find the views quite fascinating, especially when the sun made an appearance on our return walk.

While we differed in opinion on whether the view was horrendous or interesting, we were all in agreement that one addition since I last visited Redcar wasn’t the prettiest. My photos really don’t do it justice because they’re too dark but if you click on the Redcar link earlier, you can see the ‘Redcar Beacon’ in glorious purple and golden-yellow colour.

At seven floors and 80ft high, this attraction was built in 2013 and provides panoramic views of Redcar. It looks like a helter-skelter wrapped round an old tower block. To me, it was reminiscent of a mini version of the 1960s built round tower block I lived in at Loughborough University! I wasn’t aware of its existence until Sunday but hubby seemed to think it had come under tremendous criticism.

I’ve just had a quick look on TripAdvisor and didn’t need to scroll through the reviews as the low-rating conveyed the strong opinion, as did this 1-star rating: “This structure is an abomination, a giant carbuncle on a seafront that has enough already. Whoever approved it’s construction was either insane or the recipient of a bung”. Hmm! I’m sure the views are fabulous.

When I was at college in Redcar, there were four of us who’d hang around together. At dinner time, we wandered into town and ate our packed lunches in some old wooden shelters on the seafront, regardless of the weather. Brr! Sometimes we’d grab a drink or snack in Woolworths or M&S as we cut through them to get to the front. Woolworths has long gone and M&S is also no more. It was weird seeing the back of the buildings as one of the buildings hadn’t changed at all since my college days of 1986-88, but I couldn’t decide if it had been Woolworths or M&S. I can barely remember what I did from day to day so thinking back thirty-four years is a stretch too far!

The seafront has changed with fresh paving, new shelters and some artwork. I didn’t think to take any photos although I don’t have any from my college days to compare them to as those were the days before mobile phones so we didn’t tend to take snaps.

Redcar town centre was pretty much unrecognisable. Like most town centres these days, there were lots of empty shops, but there were quite a few people around. I nipped into The Works. My brother had posted a photo a couple of weeks earlier of the shelves in the Redcar branch after my nieces rearranged them but there was only one copy of New Arrivals at Hedgehog Hollow left which was lovely to see.

We walked back along the beach and took a drive via Markse-by-the-sea and onto our original destination of Saltburn. The sun which had made a brief appearance in Redcar had gone so I’m afraid the photos are a bit dull and grey. It was late afternoon so it was only a brief visit and wander along the cliff top.

Whenever I think of Saltburn from childhood, I think of the extremely windy road to get down to the beach and the pier. I love piers. Opened in 1869, it’s 450m long and is the most northerly pier still in Britain today, which I hadn’t realised.

The funicular wasn’t in operation, being out of season, so we didn’t get a chance to ride on that. We decided not to wander down to the pier as we needed to get something for tea before the shops closed, but hopefully we’ll go back another day to have more of a wander.

I tried to get a selfie of me with the funicular and pier behind me but I still haven’t perfected the art of the selfie. My head just doesn’t work with the angle and I always look cross-eyed but here you go…

The munchkin is brilliant at doing selfies but I think that’s a generational thing. It’s like they were born instinctively knowing how to do it!

Hope you enjoyed my pics from a little further up the coast. It was good to visit Redcar again after all these years but strange to see how much had changed/how little I recognised. Hopefully we’ll have another trip out this coming weekend – destination as yet undecided – so watch this space!

Hope the last week in January treats you well.

Big hugs
Jessica xx

The one where I thank the reviewers on the blog tour for A Wedding at Hedgehog Hollow

On the fortnight anniversary since the release of A Wedding at Hedgehog Hollow, the blog tour has finished. Actually, it officially finished yesterday but one of the posts hadn’t appeared so I wanted to give until the end of today to see if it did. Sometimes a time difference can mean delays or a reviewer might be caught up with work or life and be a little late, although sometimes the review doesn’t appear at all.

I used to panic about ‘no-shows’ on a blog tour thinking it was a sign that the reviewer hated my book and couldn’t find the words to convey how much… but I gave myself a stern talking to, realising it very likely was nothing to do with the book at all.

The amazing bloggers/reviewers who are involved in the tours do this because they love books and want to share that love. They do this alongside day jobs/ family commitments/ caring responsibilities/ illness/ and a big pile of other responsibilities. And sometimes they just don’t get the opportunity to read the book. Or they read it but don’t get the opportunity to write a review. Stuff just gets in the way. And I completely understand that and would hate to think that anyone might ever feel stressed about missing their date. Reading should be a delight.

We had 41 stops scheduled across 14 days and, although there were 3 no-shows, there were 6 lovely posts from bloggers not on the tour so we’ll include them and call it 44 stops. There were also several reviews on Instagram outside of the tour too for which I’m very grateful.

I usually do some sleuthing to try to track down the star ratings for those who haven’t given one with their reviews but I’m really against it with a writing deadline so I haven’t done that this time. The stats are:

  • 26 x 5-star
  • 2 x 4.5-star
  • 1 x 4.25 star (it was an 8.5/10)
  • 4 x 4-star
  • 11 x no ratings given (so I’m going to call them all 5-star ha ha ha!)

My favourite star-rating (which I’ve counted in the 5-star stats) has to be 5 billion. Thank you to Ceri’s Book Blog for that!

There was a lot of love out there for A Wedding at Hedgehog Hollow and for the series in general – as you can see from a random selection of the quotes I’ve included in this post – which warmed my heart so much across the cold January days!

There were some reviewers for whom this was the first visit to Hedgehog Hollow and others who’d read the whole series and had been eagerly awaiting the resolution of that massive cliffhanger from Family Secrets at Hedgehog Hollow and it was interesting to read the perspectives from both.

An enormous THANK YOU to all the bloggers/reviewers who participated. I always try to comment on all blog and Instagram posts but sometimes I’ll miss an Insta if it’s in addition to the blog post and I haven’t been tagged in so I do apologise if I have missed any. And a huge THANK YOU as always to the fabulous Rachel Gilbey from Rachel’s Random Resources for organising it all on behalf of my amazing publisher, Boldwood Books.

I’m writing the 5th book in the series at the moment and it’s a relief to see there’s certainly appetite for more from the cast of human and spiky characters at Hedgehog Hollow. Chasing Dreams at Hedgehog Hollow will be out on 28th June and is available for pre-order on Kindle now (other formats will be up for pre-order later).

I’d also like to thank some of the amazing Facebook groups like The Friendly Book Community and Heidi Swain and Friends – A Facebook Book Club for their support on publication day and beyond, and to Book Swap Central for hosting me as author of the month to coincide with publication date.

And not forgetting the amazing members of my own reader’s group, Redland’s Readers who’ve shared such kind feedback about this latest instalment. You’re very welcome to join us on Facebook. It’s not a book review group as there are fabulous groups who already do this so well already. It’s simply a warm and friendly space to talk spoiler-free about my books and settings and share pictures of hedgehogs, the seaside, beach huts and bears – all lovely things relating to my books – and to get a few insights into the world of publishing.

Big hedge-hugs
Jessica xx

The one where we escaped the fog to visit Sandsend and Whitby

I learned a new phrase about the weather on Saturday from watching Celebrity Catchphrase of all things and it was spookily appropriate to describe the weather in Scarborough that day – a ‘pea-souper’. I am familiar with the phrase ‘the fog’s as thick as pea soup’ to describe particularly thick fog, but I’ve never heard of the shorter version ‘pea-souper’.

The munchkin had planned a day out with her friends so hubby and I had decided to take a trip up the coast to Whitby. We were a little apprehensive looking at the thick fog but hoped it would clear by the time we got to Whitby. It actually cleared as soon as we were out of Scarborough and what a contrast just a short distance up the coast with blue skies and sunshine!

We started with a trip to Sandsend just north of Whitby. I thought I was familiar with Sandsend but it appears I’m not as there’s a whole section of village I’ve never explored before as I usually park on the south side and explore the area round the beach there.

Transected by a river, half of this unfamiliar part of the village was bathed in bright sunshine but the other half was still covered in frost so it’s amazing to think that these photos were taken minutes apart of houses on the opposite side of the river!

From what we could tell, this part of the village mainly seemed to be holiday cottages owned by an estate but they were some sympathetically-build new builds nestling among very pretty old period cottages and a church.

We moved onto Whitby for a chippy lunch (rude not to) and caught the swing bridge opening for a couple of yachts to come through. Although the geography of Whitsborough Bay is predominantly modelled on Scarborough, I do have a river with a swing bridge which brings in this aspect of Whitby.

Whitby has always been one of my favourite places and I love being there on days like Saturday where it’s cold and crisp and there’s a buzz but it’s not heaving with people.

We spotted the most fabulous aeroplane trail which looked like it was coming straight out of the 199 steps up to St Mary’s Church!

I wish I’d thought to take a photo of Scarborough as, when we got back, it was still a pea-souper and it would have been great to compare the two. But I didn’t so here’s a few more pictures of Whitby looking fabulous…

It’s Blue Monday today – allegedly the most ‘depressing’ day of the year because of the combination of post-Christmas, cold days/dark nights and time since last payday – so I hope these help bring a smile to your face instead.

Big hugs
Jessica xx

The one with the chart neighbours who make me smile

I love watching the chart positions of my books. I’m probably a little more obsessed about it than I should be but there are a few reasons for this:

  1. It’s such a thrill to see my books doing so well after all the years of struggling and I find I need to look just to reassure myself that I’m not just dreaming
  2. My mum keeps a watch (thank you, Mum) so I need to be on the ball too!
  3. There are certain moments that really make me smile which I’d miss if I didn’t keep an eye out

What do I mean by the moments that make me smile? It’s those snapshots in time where my book appears in the chart next to:

  • An author friend
  • One of #TeamBoldwood (my publishing buddies) who are, of course, also friends but most are only virtual friends as Boldwood have mainly existed during a pandemic world so we’ve never met
  • An exceptionally famous author / an author I’m in awe of
  • A non-fiction author who is an expert in a subject connected to my books
  • An author who has a connection to my past

This first instance I can remember of this happening was before I joined Boldwood. In the year I released Christmas Wishes at the Chocolate Shop (called Charlee and the Chocolate Shop at the time) and Christmas at Carly’s Cupcakes (title unchanged), I put them in relevant category charts where they toppled experts from the #1 spot. Christmas Wishes at the Chocolate Shop appeared in a chart about cooking ingredients (chocolate), knocking Jamie Oliver into the #2 position and Christmas at Carly’s Cupcakes was in cake-making and did the same to Mary Berry. I probably do have the screenshots somewhere but no idea where I’ve filed them!

Of course, Jamie Oliver and Mary Berry will have sold absolutely monster quantities of their books as hardbacks but this brief snapshot of time where I was next to these experts in the charts was a special (and amusing) moment.

There were many occasions after that where I was chart buddies with my writing family, The Write Romantics, including when the Top 10 in the Christmas category chart was dominated by our Christmas releases. Aww.

Yesterday, I checked the UK Kindle Top 100 first thing and was greeted by this lovely sight:

As you can see, A Wedding at Hedgehog Hollow is at #58 in this screenshot but positions #54 to #57 are all held by Boldwood authors! Jo Bartlett, Alex Stone and Alison Sherlock are all publishing buddies and Jo is also the co-founder of the Write Romantics with me so what a special moment this was. Not quite sure who invited Kazuo Ishiguro to the party but he was welcome to join us as long as he’d brought cake with him!

The past few days have also brought some special moments over on Audible but before I share those, I have to share a special moment of a different kind because the hedgehogs surpassed themselves in the Audible Top 100 yesterday…

I casually checked the Audible chart first thing, wondering if they were even still in the Top 100 as they’d been at the lower end over the past couple of days so I was astonished to see that they’d made a huge leap into the Top 40. Only just – at #40 itself – but that’s still Top 40 so I’m claiming that status! Book 4 had also finally hit the #1 position in the Romance chart which was thrilling.

But back to the special chart neighbours moments… The first was on Thursday when, as I said before, the Audible position of A Wedding at Hedgehog Hollow was a little lower. When I was at university, many moons ago, I studied Banking & Finance with the intention of becoming a bank manager. Except I hated the finance part of it which was a bit of a problem. Thankfully, among the dreaded accountancy, economics and quantitative analysis modules, there were interesting subjects I did understand like HR, marketing, management, strategy and banking law.

In our management module, we studied the work of an American management guru called Stephen Covey. First published in 1989, it was a huge bestseller. Sitting in lectures discussing Covey’s principles, I could never have imagined there’d be a day where I’d be an author sitting beside that man in the charts. I literally couldn’t have imagined it because the audiobook wasn’t invented then – although the precursor of listening to books on cassettes and CDs had been – and being an author wasn’t even close to being on my radar then. I’d already sussed that being a bank manager wasn’t for me either but writing was an idea that emerged about a decade later.

After graduating, I followed a career in HR, specialising in recruitment, training, coaching and mentoring, and Covey’s work frequently popped up.

Then this morning, I had another blast from the past moment with another management guru. I was sponsored to go to university by TSB which basically meant I received a book grant each year (and text books were expensive so it was very much needed!), did a year out with them in my third year, and undertook holiday work in a local branch. I knew I wanted to work in HR or marketing at this point and managed to secure a placement in their Head Office in Birmingham for my year out.

One of my roles was organising and managing the Learning Resource Centre (LRC) which was a room full of books, cassettes, CDs and videos relating to leadership and management. I loved working in there. It was like being in charge of my own little library. There were workstations where staff would work their way through interactive videos – huge laserdiscs (the size of a vinyl album) where they could watch a scenario, make a decision on how they’d handle it, and watch that good or bad decision play out.

Anyway, one of the resources was Dale Carnegie’s How to Win Friends & Influence People and who should I be next to in the Audible UK chart this morning but Mr Carnegie himself? In the LRC, it was such a popular book that it had a waiting list and I frequently had to chase staff to return it. Again, who’d have thought that when I was working in my own little library that books I’d written would one day appear in libraries? Or that I’d be one step ahead in the charts of the book that was the most popular when I ran that little library?

So there you go. A few moments that have really made me smile. I hope there are many things that make you smile across the weekend. Have a good one!

Big hugs
Jessica xx

The one where Making Wishes at Bay View makes a 2nd birthday wish

I’m celebrating a book birthday today! Making Wishes at Bay View – book 1 in the Welcome to Whitsborough Bay series – is celebrating its second book birthday today. Woo hoo!

14th January 2020 was the start of a quick-release schedule for the four books in the series aimed to create an appetite for my writing and build my readership. Book 2 and 3 – New Beginnings at Seaside Blooms and Finding Hope at Lighthouse Cove were released in mid-February with the final book, Coming Home to Seashell Cottage out in mid-March.

It’s so strange to think that two years ago today, we were merrily going about our business, aware of the news of some flu-like bug that had taken hold in China, but with absolutely no idea of what was about to hit the world. A few days after book 4 was released, the UK went under restrictions around travel and working from home. Lockdown.

But we’re not here to talk about that! We’re here to celebrate!

Making Wishes at Bay View was the second title of mine to go into The Works and the first one I signed there which was a fabulous moment. In fact, so lovely that I got to do it twice as they had a second batch in when I went in to sign Finding Love at Hedgehog Hollow stocked a little later (which is why I have 2 different masks on in the pics below).

I’ve seen it in two of my local garden centres too – Irton Garden Centre (British Garden Centres) and Dean’s Garden Centre – although I was too chicken to alert staff to me being the author and ask if they’d like me to sign them. Actually, that’s not true. When I first spotted it in one of the garden centres (won’t say which), I mentioned in a nervous garble that I’d written it and the sales assistant couldn’t have been less interested. I walked out mortified and really wished I hadn’t been brave and spoken up.

Looking back, it’s very possible she didn’t actually pick up what I’d said as we were all getting used to the world of mask-wearing and how muffled it makes the voice. Yes, that definitely could have been it. I’ll go with that!

I had the exciting news this week that the Welcome to Whitsborough Bay series hit the New Year with more than 185k sales. Each individual book has sold over 40k copies with Making Wishes at Bay View out int he front with 53k copies. My wish is for the other books to make it over that 50k hurdle and to reach the 200k mark for the series. What a special moment that will be.

It was interesting looking at my sales figures as my best selling individual book is Finding Love at Hedgehog Hollow. I’d never totted up sales figures across each series but I always imagined that the Hedgehog Hollow series had sold the most because it seems to be the one most readers talk about. I was therefore surprised to see that the Welcome to Whitsborough Bay series was significantly further ahead. Granted, all the books in the W2WB series have been out longer and book 4 in the Hedgehog Hollow series has only just been released so it’s not quite a level playing field but, as I say, it was a surprise. A pleasant one. I sometimes feel sorry for these books because the hedgehogs get so much love and I’m so proud of them and love the stories. Great to see that they’re holding their own!

So happy birthday to Making Wishes at Bay View and thank you to anyone who has bought/borrowed one or more book in this series. As ever, I’m so very grateful.

Big hugs
Jessica xx

The one where I spent a day in the REAL Hedgehog Hollow

The Hedgehog Hollow books are the gift that keeps on giving. They bring escapism, pleasure and knowledge to thousands of readers and listeners. For me, they are an absolute joy to write.

Those hedgehogs kept scampering up the charts on publication day yesterday for A Wedding at Hedgehog Hollow acquiring a #1 Best Seller flag, reaching #39 on the overall Kindle UK chart, #88 on Audible and #11 on AppleBooks.

And they have brought me two unexpected new friends and a special new role…

I set up a Facebook community about a year ago called Redland’s Readers for those who love my books and would like to find out more about the worlds and characters I’ve created. A lovely reader called Angela joined after discovering my Hedgehog Hollow books and told me she was a real life hedgehog rescuer for a rescue centre in the Yorkshire Wolds – the real life Hedgehog Hollow country!

I immediately followed Wolds Hedgehog Rescue on Facebook and enjoyed seeing posts of the hedgehogs and hoglets being treated by the team. I’d had an open invitation to visit all year but with Covid restrictions, holidays and book deadlines, only managed to get my act together to visit in mid-November.

What a fabulous day I had! Ann runs the rescue centre’s base from ‘The Hoghouse’ in her back garden in a village called Hutton, not too far from Driffield in East Yorkshire (Reddfield in my books!) She works closely and supportively with another rescue centre – Walkington Rescue Centre – in the area although they are two independent set-ups.

A team of volunteers are essential for the amazing work they do. Wolds Hedgehog Rescue has foster carers who rehabilitate hedgehogs whose needs are no longer urgent enough to hog a crate (excuse the pun!) in the Hog House e.g. hedgehogs who need to gain weight ahead of hibernation.

Angela’s role is very specific as a hoglet nanny although she’s a foster carer outside hoglets season. She runs a nursery from her home in Hull during hoglets season (spring and autumn), feeding the hoglets around the clock, toileting them and cleaning up after them because hoglets (and many adult hogs too) tend to be a smidge (or a lot!) on the messy side!

The help doesn’t end with Angela and the foster carers. There are volunteers with a variety of other roles – fundraising, helping in/cleaning out the Hog House, making crafts to sell for funds and so on.

Ann’s husband – ‘Man Who Can’ – makes hedgehog houses and can turn his hand at anything practical. Angela’s husband – Mr Hedgehog – turns wood, creating beautiful products for sale. Nobody is asked to do anything they wouldn’t feel comfortable doing and any skills are very much welcomed.

So, back to my visit, I asked Ann and Angela lots of questions (just stopped short of an interrogation!) about how they both became involved with rescuing, what sorts of cases they dealt with, highs and lows, the practicalities of running a rescue centre. It was such a valuable opportunity to gather more information for my future books. I do loads of research and I have an auntie who runs a small-scale operation but it was great to see firsthand how a bigger set-up runs.

In theory I helped Ann with the daily activities. In reality, I probably got in the way as I took photos and wrote copious notes, but I was made to feel so very welcome.

When Angela arrived, I looked under a microscope at the poo samples from a new admission to work out the treatments required, after which came my absolute highlight: an opportunity to hold a hedgehog. Found on Remembrance Day and appropriately named by the person bringing him in as Poppy, he had a slight name change to Mr Poppy after he was sexed.

You’l notice I’m appropriately dressed in a hedgehog Popsy dress!

Ann has a beautiful long garden with a log pile, trees, leaves and lots of hedgehog houses and feeding stations: a hedgehog paradise.

I had such a wonderful day with a spot of lunch and a chance to meet another rescuer (and interrogate her too!) I’ll be back again soon and will also visit the nursery during hoglets season.

Yesterday, to celebrate launch day, I was absolutely thrilled when Ann and Angela agreed to be my guests on a Facebook Live. What an inspiring, engaging and passionate duo they were, full of fascinating insights.

We had a special guest appearance from Cactus, currently in Angela’s care, and she talked us through the equipment needed in the nursery. If you would like to be captivated, entertained and learn so much along the way, please do check out the video on my publisher’s Facebook page here.

I mentioned at the start that I now have a special role. I came off the Facebook Live feeling inspired and eager to help out. The reality is that I can’t be a hedgehog rescuer or foster carer. While it’s not something I’d completely rule out at some point down the line, my home, career and personal circumstances just now mean this isn’t an option for me. I don’t have the time or the facilities. I’m also local but not handy local.

I thought about what Ann said about different volunteers coming with different skills and I realised I had a set of skills that I could contribute remotely. As an author, I regularly engage with my readers and listeners on social media and prepare visuals to support the messages/news I have to share so I put a proposal to Ann and Angela.

I’m delighted to say that I’ve been welcomed into Team Wolds Hedgehog Rescue and am now an Admin on their Facebook page where my first task today was to activate the reviews facility and encourage service users to leave feedback. Within five minutes of doing this, the first review came in. I’m so thrilled!

Ann, Angela and I need to get together to talk about how I can bring the best benefit them in my new role. We also need to decide on a job title for me. If anyone has any inspired ideas, do shout up! I’m looking forward to seeing them already, especially as cake might be involved!

The Facebook links for both rescue centres are below:
Wolds Hedgehog Rescue
Walkington Hedgehog Rescue

As well as the team of volunteers I mentioned earlier, rescue centres also need the support of the general public to provide funds and equipment. Wolds Hedgehog Rescue have a PayPal donation facility but most valuable and helpful for them is having items purchased from their wish list which includes food, cleaning materials, and equipment. This is set up on Amazon and Ann regularly updates it with the priority items and quantities needed. If you don’t wish to shop on Amazon or would like to shop around for different deals, you can always use the wish list for inspiration; it’s not essential you make your purchase there. There are items on it to suit all budgets and all donations are gratefully received. The links are:
PayPal
Wish list

And, of course, you can support by attending open days or events. A date for your diary is Sunday 1st May for an open day at the Hutton Hoghouse where there’ll be tours, talks, stalls, tombola, raffle and a whole pile more to entertain and enlighten the family. More details will be advertised nearer the time. I won’t be there as I have a landmark birthday that day but I’ll do whatever I can to promo and support the event before.

Finally, as well as leaving the Hoghouse in November with lots of pictures, information and some new friends, I left with a chair which was a little unexpected! Ann’s an upholsterer and she created this gorgeous chair which I knew would be perfect in the corner of my office so I had to make a swift purchase. It only just fit in the back of my car as I’d forgotten there was already a dog crate in there!

In theory, it’s a reading nook. In reality, it’s home for my ever-growing hedgehog cushions and soft toy collection!

What’s even more special about this chair is that it’s stuffed with the fleece from the two sheep, Rosie and Rita, who live in Ann’s neighbour’s garden who you can just see in the background of this photo (one is central and the other is to the left just behind the cluster of leaves on the branch). How delightful is that?

I hope you’ve enjoyed looking at the photos and I really hope you’ve watched the video. Believe me, I could have chatted to Ann and Angela all night as they were absolutely brilliant! A huge thank you to them both from me, the team at Boldwood Books and all the listeners who absolutely loved it.

The great news is the dynamic duo have already agreed to come back for another Live in hoglets season and I can hardly contain my excitement at the idea of a live hoglet feeding session.

Whether you’re local or not, if you can help out with any donations, that would be amazing.

Big hedge-hugs
Jessica xx

Q and A with Author Jessica Redland

Re-blogging the second of two posts today on my own website. This is my Author Q&A with Fiona Jenkins. Thank you for being a fabulous host, Fiona, and for the great questions xx

Inspired by my PMDD

1. Do you ever consider an end to the Hedgehog Hollow Series or will it continue on as the series popularity continues to soar?

Hedgehog Hollow the story so far…

Great question! The end is actually planned and will happen this year with the release of the final three books in the six-book series.

Book 5 is called Chasing Dreams at Hedgehog Hollow and is up for pre-order now and out on 28th June. This is a hot off the press title reveal and I’ve just started writing it. It’s lovely to be back at Hedgehog Hollow after a Starfish Café break.

Book 6 will be Christmas at Hedgehog Hollow (also a hot off the press title reveal) and out in late September, exact date TBC. That will go up for pre-order later in the year.

When I started writing the first book, Finding Love at Hedgehog Hollow, I…

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Fionas FactFile with Author Jessica Redland

Thank you to Fiona Jenkins for featuring me on her Fiona’s FactFile and her Author Q&A today. I’m re-blogging both on my own website. Here’s the FactFile first…

Inspired by my PMDD

I totally agree teddybear

Please name 5 facts about you. (Pics if you have any)

  1. Jessica Redland isn’t my real name. It’s Julie but I find it easier to have everyone connected to writing to refer to me as Jessica. I decided to write under a pseudonym for a variety of reasons and chose Jessica because it’s a timeless name that I’ve always loved. I wanted my surname to be something that had a connection to my writing. The idea for my debut novel came to me when I was living on a street called Redlands Road. I ditched the ‘s’ and kept the Redland part

  • I’m an arctophile – a collector/lover of teddy bears. I love them so much that I took a career break from HR in 2003 and set up and ran my own specialist teddy bear shop. I started writing my first book on quiet days…

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The one where I reveal the title for Hedgehog Hollow book 5

While celebrating publication day for A Wedding at Hedgehog Hollow today, I’m delighted to bring some more exciting news for fans of this series.

I can confirm that we have a title for book 5 and I absolutely love it. It may be my favourite one so far. It’s … drum roll … Chasing Dreams at Hedgehog Hollow.

It has gone up for pre-order on Amazon today and you can order it for Kindle UK here. It will go up for pre-order on Apple and Kobo and other platforms nearer the time, as well as on Audible but Amazon is the only place where it can go up this early. The cover will follow in due course as well as the blurb. We can’t write the blurb yet as I’ve only just started to write the book!

Those who’ve read A Wedding at Hedgehog Hollow already will have seen that it doesn’t end on a big cliff hanger like book 3 but it does leave a few suggestions of where the story may be going which will be picked up in the final two books of the series.

Yes, you read that correctly. The series WILL be ending.

Chasing Dreams at Hedgehog Hollow is out on 28th June and the final instalment will be out in September (I think – exact date TBC). Provisionally, that’s called Christmas at Hedgehog Hollow and I think you can therefore guess what time of year it features! However, I have just proposed a slight title tweak to my editor and we’ll see what she thinks so that title may stay or it may change slightly.

It feels so weird saying that there’ll be a final instalment this year. I have absolutely loved writing the Hedgehog Hollow series and continue to be blown away by the gorgeous comments from readers who’ve fallen in love with the characters, the settings and the amazing hedgehogs.

Before anyone turns Kathy Burke in Misery on me and demands I continue, the end of the series won’t mean we never visit Hedgehog Hollow again or hear from the amazing cast of characters but the time feels right to end it after two more books.

I get messages from readers asking me to keep going forever but, in the same breath, telling me off for giving our wonderful heroine Samantha a hard time. That’s the predicament. You see, to write an engaging page-turning story, there needs to be drama and conflict. Bad things need to happen alongside the good which does mean that Samantha has to experience turmoil. I love her very much and I want her to have her happy ever after but, once she gets that, there’ll be no story to tell as who wants to read about a happy couple picking out new curtain fabrics?!

The plan is to tell two more stories alongside Samantha’s from a the perspective of a guest narrator – the format used from book 2 onwards – and wrap up all the the threads that have continued across the series such as Samantha growing in confidence and standing up for herself and the relationship with her mother. I’m not telling you whose stories will come out or how I’ll wrap up those long-standing threads but I do have a plan. There are other stories I think readers will be happy with the two I’ve chosen.

I do still plan on writing a prequel book where I tell Thomas and Gwendoline’s story but I can’t make any promises around when that will be. As for returning to Hedgehog Hollow, I’m planning books that will be set in the Yorkshire Wolds and involve Hedgehog Hollow – just not narrated by Samantha.

I’ve started to write Chasing Dreams at Hedgehog Hollow and will finish that late next month then move on to book 6. It’s such a delight to be back at the farm, telling a story that has been burning to be told for quite some time!

Big hedge-hugs
Jessica xx

The one where the hedgehogs go on their fourth blog tour

It’s publication day today for A Wedding at Hedgehog Hollow. Woo hoo! I’m so excited (and also a teeny bit nervous) as those hedgehogs make their way out into the world for the fourth time.

The blog tour kicks off today so an enormous thank you to the fabulous Rachel Gilbey for organising this and to all the amazing bloggers/reviewers who have volunteered to take part and share their views.

Some participants have read some or all of the books and, for others, this will be their first trip to the rescue centre. Early reviews coming in suggest that the book can be read as a standalone which is true. I carefully craft all of my books so that a complete story is being told within that book.

However, nearly all of them say they wish they’d read the others first to get the full feel of all the family dynamics. I’m not geeky enough to number-crunch on it but my first impressions are that this fourth instalment has attracted a huge number of 5-star reviews but a large proportion of the 3 or 4-star ones are from readers who’ve not read the previous books and therefore haven’t had the richer reading experience of following the threads that travel through the series. It’ll be interesting to see if this trend is reflected in the bog tour reviews. Having said that, a 4-star is still amazing. The hedgehogs and I will take that!

You can get hold of A Wedding at Hedgehog Hollow here:

Kindle UK

Kindle USA

It’s also available from today as a paperback, large print, hardback, physical audio, audio download and will soon be available for audio streaming.

Let the fortnight commence…

Big (crossed fingers) hugs
Jessica xx