The one where I interview – or should that be interrogate? – Sharon Booth

Anyone who reads my blog or follows me on social media will know that my bestie is also an author – Sharon Booth. We first met a decade ago and have navigated the (sometimes) crazy world of publishing ever since. Sharon’s books are absolutely gorgeous and I have read every single one of them so far, with her latest on my TBR pile for as soon as I’ve finished my current read.

I’ve been saying for ages (years!) that I’d have Sharon as a guest on my blog and I finally got my act together and sent some questions over to Sharon. I put something on my notes to her which she said I had to keep in because it’s funny so here we go…

Thank you very much for agreeing to appear as my first guest in what will not be a regular slot on my website as I can’t be arsed to manage it! 

Hee hee! Please excuse my language. I’m not very sweary usually but I do find ‘arse’ a particularly funny word and, although I use it flippantly here, it does take a lot of time managing guest slots and I don’t think I can find that time at the moment. Maybe one day. Anyway, let us crack on with Sharon’s interview…

Please introduce yourself

Hiya, Jessica. Thanks so much for inviting me onto your blog. I write contemporary romantic fiction, and lighthearted paranormal romances. My stories are set in pretty villages and quirky market towns, by the sea or in the countryside, with a guaranteed happy ending. You’ll find a gorgeous romance in each, but community, friendship, and family relationships always play their part too. I’ve been an indie author for eight years, but recently published my first book with Storm Publishing.

Have you always wanted to be an author? 

Yes, I have. I just didn’t know it was possible for people like me. I thought authors lived in big, country houses and had pots of money and “spoke posh”. I was basing my assumptions on my favourite author, Enid Blyton, who lived in the famous Old Thatch and Green Hedges. I grew up in a council house in a small town near Hull, and there was nothing posh about the way I spoke. Still isn’t! 

It didn’t stop me dreaming about being an author, though. In fact, we had to write an essay about ourselves for school, and one of the questions was, “What do you want to be when you grow up?” I said an author. Mind you, I also said I’d quite like to be a showjumper or a vicar’s wife. Interesting career choices there!

What prompted you to write your first full-length novel?

I was ambushed by three characters who popped into my head and refused to leave until I started to tell their story, even though I had no idea what that story was. They became Joe, Lexi, and Will in my Kearton Bay series, and they started everything for me. I quickly realised Lexi’s dad had his own story, and he became the focus of my first book.

When you started writing that book, what did you think/hope would happen next and how close was that to what actually happened?

Honestly, all I wanted was to finish the book. I’d written so many Chapter Ones over the years and never progressed beyond that. Then, after I got married and had kids, I gave up writing altogether. When I decided I needed to tell my Kearton Bay story, my one and only goal was to get to the end of it. I never imagined in a million years I’d end up publishing it, nor that I’d go on to write another twenty-seven books after it!

You write full-time now but, for many years, you had a day job. How did you manage to fit in writing time around the day job?

It wasn’t too bad because, for four out of five days, I was only working in the afternoons, so I’d get up early and start writing until twelve. Mondays were out because I worked ten hour shifts that day. I was late for work quite regularly, though, because I’d get so absorbed in my writing that I’d keep tapping away at the keyboard when I should have been getting ready to leave the house. Oops!

You’ve released 26 books so far as an indie author. What prompted you to go down the indie route and what have you found to be the highs and lows of self-publishing?

I always intended to be an indie writer. When I was writing There Must Be an Angel I did a lot of research about publishing, and there was such a buzz around self-publishing that I thought it would be an incredible and exciting thing to do. 

I love it. I love the control. I like choosing my own covers and titles, arranging my own editing schedule, deciding when and where I will publish. I love the self-publishing community, and the enthusiasm and generosity of the people who work within it. 

The lows are the few people who persist in sneering at self-published writers, and the difficulties in getting visibility in a very crowded market. Some doors are still shut to indie writers, which is a great shame. Hopefully, one day they’ll finally open. 

Summer in Tuppenny Bridge is your first release through Storm Publishing. What can readers expect from this book and from the rest of the series? Is it connected to anything you’ve written before?

Summer in Tuppenny Bridge is a cosy romance in a similar vein to my Kearton Bay and Bramblewick books. 

Where the Bramblewick characters were connected through the country practice in the village, my characters in this series are connected by an event which occurred fourteen years before the series starts. 

Tuppenny Bridge is a pretty market town in the Yorkshire Dales, and it’s populated with a large cast of colourful and interesting people. There’s a strong-knit community, which is always important in my books, and there’s also romance, friendships, and humour. 

The town first appeared in my The Other Half series. It appeared briefly in How the Other Half Lies and was the setting for How the Other Half Loves

Summer in Tuppenny Bridge focuses on Summer Fletcher. She’s moved to the town to be with her mum, and develops a strong attraction to lovely local vet, Ben Callaghan. Readers should note that it’s a standalone story, and you don’t have to have read The Other Half series to read this book.

This is your first experience with a publisher. What prompted you to explore that route?

I found it increasingly hard to get noticed as an indie. There are so many books published these days that I felt I was becoming invisible. Plus, there’s an awful lot to do when it’s all on you. It’s not just a case of sitting down to write. There are so many other tasks to carry out, and decisions to make. 

I felt I needed some help after going it alone with twenty-six books, and Storm Publishing was a new publisher whose founder, Oliver Rhodes, had such a strong background in the industry that I thought Storm would help me reach new readers and widen my audience. 

How has working with a publisher compared to being an indie author (so far)?

It’s been pretty full-on! I’m contracted for three books, so it’s been a case of getting my head down and getting on with it, because these deadlines aren’t self-imposed ones that I can move about if I want to. 

I’m not used to working on several books at the same time either. Now I’m publicising Summer in Tuppenny Bridge, editing the second Tuppenny Bridge book, and writing the third! I keep forgetting what events happen in which book. It’s also strange having the cover designed and the title chosen for me. It’s been a steep learning curve, that’s for sure, but quite a relief in some ways! 

Between writing the Tuppenny Bridge books, you’ll be writing and releasing the final book in the fabulous Witches of Castle Clair seriesDestiny of the Witch (out on 31st October and available for pre-order now). Can you tell us a little more about how this magical series came about and why you think it appeals to your women’s fiction readership?

Oh, I love my witches! I’ve always loved magical books and tv shows. My favourite programme when I was little was Bewitched, and I was a big fan of Charmed. I had an idea for a book that I called my Magical Mishaps Novel. I only ever intended it to be a one-off, but it morphed into a trilogy. Then I got lots of messages asking for more, and I missed the St Clairs, so I decided to write another three and make it a series of six. 

I’ve now got a spin-off series planned, so it’s way bigger than I ever expected it to be. I know some of my women’s fiction readers are reluctant to read “witchy” books, and that’s absolutely fine. 

They should, however, know that my paranormal novels are very lighthearted, and very much written in my voice. It’s still me! There’s still romance, and family relationships, and friendships, and humour. My witches are ordinary young women in lots of ways. They just happen to be magical, and come from a very special and unusual family!

All your books are part of a series. What draws you to writing books in a series? Have any of your series started off as standalones but grown?

I love writing series, because I enjoy creating a beautiful setting and populating it with interesting characters who I can visit time and time again. Kearton Bay was always going to be a series, as was The Other Half, and Moorland Heroes. 

My Skimmerdale series consists of two books, but I only planned to write one. I loved Eliot and Eden so much I wanted to go back and see how they were getting on, and Emerald had seemed like such an interesting character in Summer Secrets at Wildflower Farm (even though she had a tiny part in it) that I thought I’d like to explore her further. 

Baxter’s Christmas Wish and New Doctor at Chestnut House started out as People’s Friend pocket novels, which were then titled, All Because of Baxter, and Surrender to Love. They went on to become the first books in my Home for Christmas and Bramblewick series. I will admit, though, that the Home for Christmas series is really three standalone novels, whose only connection is that they’re about people who are looking for a home at Christmas. I’m still debating whether to remove the series label and market them as standalones. 

And of course, as I’ve said, Belle, Book and Candle was supposed to be a one-off, too. 

Of all the books you’ve written, what’s your personal favourite and why? What’s your favourite series and why?

Oh my word, that’s so hard! Why are you being so mean?

Who’s my favourite grandchild? Impossible to say! Who’s my favourite child? Also impossible. They all annoy me equally! (Joking—maybe.) 

I suppose I’d say the Kearton Bay books are my favourite because Kearton Bay is where it all started for me, and I absolutely love the setting, which is based on Robin Hood’s Bay, and I’m extremely fond of all the characters there. But The Witches of Castle Clair books were the most fun to write.

Favourite book? I love them all, honestly, and don’t have a favourite as such. I guess if pushed, I’d say the book I’m proudest of is Summer Wedding at Wildflower Farm. It took an awful lot of writing, with six points of view, and a lot of interwoven plotlines. It nearly broke me, writing that book, so when I look at it now it gives me a real sense of achievement. It also reminds me never to write such a complicated book ever again! 

Which of your books or series do you think would work best on the big or little screen and why?

Probably The Witches of Castle Clair. Castle Clair is very much inspired by the North Yorkshire town of Knaresborough, which is a cinematic treat in itself. And I think the mixture of the beautiful setting, quirky characters, legends, and magical mystery would be interesting. On the other hand, The Other Half is quite the funny family drama, so that might work too.

If you could go back to the start of your writing career, is there anything you’d change? What would this be and why?

So many things! But I suppose, three in particular leap out at me. 

One, I’d use a pseudonym for privacy, and I’d also use a different pen name for the Castle Clair books because it’s made marketing a lot trickier using the same name for paranormal and contemporary romances. 

Secondly, I’d think more about my author brand, and be more consistent with covers etc from the start. 

Thirdly, I’d wait until I’d written at least three books in the series before starting to publish, and I’d have published them closer together. I knew nothing in the beginning, and even though A Kiss from a Rose was almost ready to go, I hung onto it for six months after Angel was published thinking that was the right thing to do. I could have published the entire Kearton Bay series in a year, and I do think that would have been a smarter move.

We know it’s a cliché, but being an author is often compared to being on a rollercoaster as it’s full of ups and downs. During the down times, what is it that keeps you going?

You, mostly! Seriously, having a best friend who does the same job as I do, and understands how frustrating and depressing and confidence-sapping it can be, has helped me to keep going many times. Plus you make me laugh, which is always a bonus. Our writing tribes, The Write Romantics, and our local chapter of the RNA.  What else keeps me going? Cuddles from The Husband, who’s proud of me no matter how rubbish I’m feeling about myself. And kind comments and messages from readers who’ve loved my books make it all worthwhile. 

One thing I have found crucial when my confidence is low and the whole thing is getting me down is to switch off social media, walk away from the writing, and focus on family and friends and “normal” life. It soon reminds me that, as much as I love it, writing is my job, and there’s more to life than work.

What advice would you give to any aspiring writers out there or anyone who is at the early stages of their career and struggling a little?

Find your writing tribe. Don’t be alone. Join a writing group or connect with other authors in person or on social media. Romance writers, join the RNA! (Romantic Novelists’ Association.) Read lots about writing, about the business of writing (they’re not the same thing!) and learn as much as you can about this industry. Be prepared for rejections. Don’t expect to get rich. Think very carefully about your brand. If you really want this, don’t give up. Value yourself and your work. Have fun and enjoy the process! 


Where would you like to see your writing career in five years’ time?

I’d like to have at least another fifteen or twenty books out in five years’ time, and I’d love to have had at least one of them in the Kindle top 100, because then I could officially say I was a bestselling author. The closest I’ve come is top 200 with Christmas at the Country Practice. Hopefully I’ll have another magical series and a cosy mystery series out by 2028. Beyond that, who knows? 


Which do you prefer?…

Writing books set in summer or winter?

Ohhh, that’s so hard. Both have their pros and cons! I’ll say winter. 

Writing full-length novels or novellas?


Writing women’s fiction or magical books? 

Why are you torturing me with these difficult questions? Okay. Magical books.

Writing a series or standalone book?


First draft or edits?

Edits. Writing a first draft is like wading through treacle.

Cover reveal day or publication day?

Cover reveal day. Nowhere near as much pressure!

Reading reviews or checking the chart position?

I don’t read reviews unless I’ve been tagged in one, so checking chart positions, though I hardly ever do that either! 

Reading or writing?

Well, reading’s easier!

Reading the book or watching the film?

Depends on the book and film, and how lazy I’m feeling! 

Thanks so much for inviting me onto your blog, Jessica. I’ve enjoyed answering your questions, even though some of them were too cruel! 

Buying link is

Please include links to the socials and author pageYou can find all my links at

A huge thank you, Sharon, for those fabulous answers. Sorry (not sorry) for being mean with my questions!

Big hugs
Jessica xx

The one where I spent a fabulous Easter in the Lake District – Part 4

Easter was quite a while ago now, but I’ve had a couple of back to back deadlines and this is my first opportunity to write the final post about our family holiday in the Lake District. Splitting the post across four has made me really appreciate how much we managed to pack in during that fortnight.

We’re onto the second week now where we didn’t get out and about quite as much because the weather turned and there were several wet days, and also because I had second edits back on my July release, The Start of Something Wonderful, so I needed to do some work.

On Easter Monday we drove to Ullswater – north-east in the Lake District National Park. We started at Pooley Bridge and had a little wander but it was raining on and off so we didn’t stay for long. We moved onto Aira Force – a waterfall I haven’t visited before. It was lovely but some erosion meant one of the best paths for getting to the biggest drop was closed off, which was a shame.

We then travelled to the southern tip of the lake to Glenridding (which sounds to be like it should be in Scotland) which is a small but pretty village. It’s in a really lovely position on the lake with the river Ulls Water running through it, and surrounded by fells, but the photo really doesn’t do it justice on an overcast day.

As hadn’t been as long as expected in any of the places we visited but the cleaner was coming to the holiday cottage late that afternoon (a freshen up and change of bedding/towels with us staying for a fortnight) so we didn’t really want to go back and look like we were watching her work, bless her. We headed back to Keswick but continued south to Grasmere. We’d made it as far as walking into the village when the heavens absolutely opened. Hubby and I hid beneath the trees in the graveyard while the daughter went to get some Grasmere gingerbread. We decided to brave the open, figuring we could move between gift shops, but they were all closing. I don’t know if it was early closing because of the bank holiday or because of the appalling weather so that fettled that and we turned back to the car and went home, very soggy!

The following day, the daughter and I had something very special booked – an alpaca experience at The Lingholm Estate. I’ll talk a lot more about this estate when The Start of Something Wonderful comes out as it has been hugely inspirational for me creating my new setting in that book but, for now, I’ll share a few pics of our walk.

The alpacas are managed by a social enterprise called Alpacaly Ever After which you can find here. We’d paid to go on a private walk round the estate rather than a group walk. I was given Ralph and the daughter had Jebediah and they were both absolutely gorgeous. Ralph was so excited to be out and he made the cutest chirping sound.

If you are in the area, I’d highly recommend taking an alpaca for a walk. They do it elsewhere in the Lakes too, and you can go on more adventurous treks with them such as up Cat Bells. For us, a leisurely walk through the grounds of the estate and by the lake was just perfect.

The guide was incredibly knowledgeable so we learned loads about alpacas and she also took some fabulous photos of us which were then sent to my daughter’s phone by some technical wizardry and I’ve realised she still has them all so must get those from her at some point!

The following day was another experience and, this time, it was hubby’s turn to join me while the daughter stayed in the holiday cottage with our dog, Ella, and revised for her GCSEs.

We woke up to snow! It had come down during the night and looked beautiful on the fells. We’d have loved to stop to take some photos but would have needed to get up earlier to do that. By the time we came back, much of it had melted away.

We’d swapped alpacas for sheep, specifically Herdwick sheep, a hardy breed which thrives on the Lakeland fells. This is run at Yew Tree Farm near Coniston which is another of the farms Beatrix Potter bought and gifted to the National Trust in her will. If you’ve seen Miss Potter, Yew Tree Farm is used inside and out for filming, acting as Hill Top. I hadn’t realised this so I’m going to need to watch Miss Potter yet again (any excuse!) now that I’ve visited it.

We were joined by an older couple and a family of four on this experience which started with a talk about the breed in a barn before moving out to one of the fields on the farm to feed and cuddle them. There were five roaming who we had a stop-off with first.

In the destination field were Herdwicks specially chosen for being friendly and loving being around people. They were so gorgeous. We were asked to sit on the ground (mind the sheep poo!) and they’d come to us and, sure enough, they did!

Aren’t they the most beautiful creatures? Their faces are so beautiful and they look like they’re smiling. The white one with me was called Madge and she got very close! She also had a little munch on the toggles on the zips on my jacket. Apparently she has a fondness for toggles and zips. Thankfully I came away with them all still intact!

I could have spent hours with them but our time was up and the weather was coming in too – more rain! Getting up was a bit of a challenge – little, round authors aren’t designed for getting down on the ground and back up again without help!

You can find out more about Yew Tree Farm here and discover more about/book yourself on a Herdwick Experience here. I’d love to do it again on another visit.

We had one more day in the cottage working then packing, before heading back home. What a lovely fortnight away. We had four seasons in one week, as is often the case in the Lake District, and did lots of things we’ve never done before … but now want to do again!

Hope you’ve enjoyed seeing all the photos across the blog posts.

Big hugs
Jessica xx

The one with THREE festival appearances this year

It has been a dream of mine for several years to speak at a book festival. As a former recruiter and trainer, public speaking is well within my comfort zone although it is a little different talking about yourself rather than from an HR agenda.

I was thrilled last year to secure a slot on the Walking and Books Festival in Richmond, North Yorkshire and was getting all geared up for it when Queen Elizabeth II passed away. Her funeral clashed with my session so it was cancelled. The lovely organisers invited me back this year so I’m very excited that I’ll still have that opportunity.

The Richmond Walking and Book Festival runs between 15th-24th September and, as the name suggests, provides a mixture of walks and literary events. You can catch me here:

  • Thursday 21st September 2023
  • 11am – 12 noon
  • The Station, Richmond, North Yorkshire (not London!)
  • £8

You can find out more about what to expect and see what else is happening that day here. Tickets go on sale on 28th June so I will put out a reminder then. If you’d like to see the full festival programme, you can find it here. So many fabulous events planned.

Richmond is a very special place to me because it’s where I started to write my debut book, New Beginnings at Seaside Blooms. I opened a specialist teddy bear shop in Richmond called Bear’s Pad in May 2003 and, on quiet days, I’d write. Running the bear shop also gave me the inspiration for All You Need is Love which is one of my favourites of all my stories. It therefore feels very fitting to be speaking at a festival in the year I hit one million sales in the town where I wrote my very first words.

As it happens, this won’t end up being my first festival appearance. Stockton Libraries very kindly invited me to speak at Norton Library last September and asked if I’d be interested in participating in a panel discussion at the 2023 Crossing the Tees Book Festival. Absolutely yes!

The Crossing the Tees Book Festival is a collaboration between Stockton, Middlesbrough, Hartlepool, Darlington and Redcar & Cleveland Library Services and runs between 10th-18th June. Tickets are available to all events now and you can find the full programme here.

I’m involved in two very different events so here’s the details of each…

  • Interactive Workshop – How to Create a Memorable Setting
  • Saturday 10th June
  • 10am – 12noon
  • Guisborough Library
  • £5

You can find out more and book here. I recorded a short video about what to expect which you can find on the Crossing the Tees Book Festival Facebook page here (the link should take you directly to the video). (Please note that the photo below is a screen shot, not a link).

I’m particularly looking forward to being at Guisborough Library for this event because it used to be my local library! I was born in Middlesbrough and my family moved to Guisborough when I was three so I was raised there, attending primary and senior school in the town. I loved visits to the library to get my fiction fix as a child and, when I was at senior school, did a lot of homework research there.

I believe the library as I knew it was tragically destroyed in an arson attack so it isn’t going to be familiar to me but it will be great to see how it has been rebuilt.

And onto my second event for this festival…

  • Panel discussion & questions – A Romantic Sunday Afternoon with Jessica Redland, Lisa Hobman and Jane Lovering
  • Sunday 11th June
  • 2pm – 3.30pm
  • Ormesby Library & Community Hub, Middlesbrough
  • £5

I’m really looking forward to appearing at this session with Lisa and Jane. We all write romance books/contemporary women’s fiction for Boldwood Books and will be answering questions from our host and the audience so I hope you can come along for what should be a lovely afternoon of bookish chat.

BSL interpreters will be joining us for this event.

As I mentioned earlier, I was born in Middlesbrough so this is also a special venue for me, returning to my roots.

You can find out more about this event and book here. I also recorded a short video about what to expect. It hasn’t appeared on the Facebook page just yet but it is on Twitter here. (Please note that the photo below is a screen shot, not a link).

It would be amazing to see you at one (or all!) of the events. Please do let me know in the comments if you can. I’ll have paperbacks for sale at all events and can sign and dedicate those for you. If you have books of mine already that you’d like signing, I’m more than happy to pop my paw print on them.

Big festival hugs
Jessica xx

The one where Summer Nights hits a reviews milestone within a month and I talk about the inspiration behind a recurring plot point

Tomorrow, 6th May, marks one month since the final part of my Starfish Café trilogy – Summer Nights at The Starfish Café – but I’ve just spotted the number of reviews/ratings it has attracted so far on Amazon and am so thrilled to see it has hit 1,000 in time for its one-month anniversary.

The Kindle version spent a week in the Top 100 (with a publication day high of #62) and has been in the Top 300 most of the time since, only dipping out on a couple of days. The Audible version also spent its first week in the Top 100, getting as high as #22, and has been in the Top 400 since then which is such an honour, especially when interest in a series can often dip as a series progresses.

Thank you to everyone who has bought, borrowed, downloaded or streamed this story and shared their kind comments (and bah humbug to the 11 who decided it was only worthy of a one-star rating!)

I wanted to write a post today about one of the plot points in this series but *SPOILER ALERT* If you haven’t read the series already, can I suggest you come back later when you have?

About six years ago, we visited Aysgarth Falls while on holiday in the Yorkshire Dales. By the car park, there was a café and gift shop and it’s a standing family joke that I cannot walk past a gift shop. It was full of gorgeous locally-sourced gifts and I was particularly drawn to some cards of a little girl in a pink tutu and red wellies. I had no idea who I’d send them to or why, but I felt compelled to buy them.

A few years later, I began writing the first book in The Starfish Café series – Snowflakes Over The Starfish Café. It’s a story which explores, among other things, bereavement. Hollie’s mum, Heather, has a terminal illness and writes a couple of cards containing advice and encouragement for the dark times ahead. She asks her best friend Angie to pass the first onto Hollie immediately after her death, but entrusts her to hold onto the second card to pass on at a time when Angie believes Hollie may be struggling and could benefit from further encouraging words.

These two cards play an important part in the series. They’re mentioned in book 2 – Spring Tides at The Starfish Café – but carry a strong focus during the final book, Summer Nights at The Starfish Café.

When I had the idea for including cards in my book, I remembered the ones I’d bought that day at Aysgarth Falls. They’d been in my drawer for a several years and now I had the perfect use for them – as inspiration for the cards Heather sent to Hollie.

They’re from the Rosebud Collection by York-based artist Mark Braithwaite, inspired by his daughter. One of them is called ‘Nice Weather for Ducks’ and shows Rosebud standing in a puddle surrounded by plastic ducks, holding an umbrella over her head. Heather’s advice in that first card was to include one of her regular sayings for when things get tough –  “keep dancing in the rain” – so the idea of her sending Hollie a card with a little girl splashing in a puddle was perfect. I felt, however, that the protection of an umbrella contradicted that freeing message. The second card showing Rosebud in the garden blowing on a dandelion puff clock – ‘One O’clock. Two O’clock’ – wasn’t a fit.

I was curious as to whether there were any others pictures in the Rosebud Collection which more closely matched what I was looking for so I visited the website for the Braithwaite Gallery (which the artist owns in York) – see previous link. I found a painting called ‘Splish, Splash, Splosh’ where Rosebud is bouncing up and down in a puddle holding a magic wand. In another called ‘Puppy Love’, she’s running with a dog and I felt drawn to both of them.

The idea of including a dog in Heather’s cards for Hollie particularly resonated because the family had a beloved golden retriever called Willow. I’d hoped to get hold of those two designs in card format so I could create an inspiration board with all three on them, but not all designs were available as cards. I ended up buying prints of them and the original one. They’re been invaluable to look at for inspiration but I sadly don’t have room to display them in my office as wall space is very limited.

Back to the first card from Heather, I reimagined a blend of these three pictures and changed the breed of dog to a golden retriever, As described in Snowflakes Over The Starfish Café, the little girl is, “splashing in a puddle as the rain fell around her. A golden retriever bounced beside her and an open red umbrella lay abandoned nearby”.

In Heather’s second card, there would be more advice which included an extension to the dancing in the rain phrase: “If you stumble, make it part of your dance”. I needed something to illustrate not giving up despite a stumble, but there wasn’t anything in the Rosebud Collection that seemed suitable. Having viewed the full collection, I could imagine Rosebud giving first aid to her teddy bear so I decided to stick with the dancing in the puddle, but change the background – “Behind her stood a first aid case and in front of her sat a teddy bear with its arm in a sling. She had a sticking plaster across her knee and was blowing kisses to the bear.”

The two cards Hollie receives after her mum’s passing are referred to throughout the series and particularly in Summer Night at The Starfish Café when she’s preparing for her wedding to Jake but reflecting on her family not being there. They’re an important part of the plot and I still find it amazing that I felt so drawn to buy those cards that day, and that it was years later when I discovered the reason for my purchase. It was clearly meant to be!

Hope you’ve enjoyed that little insight into one of my plot points and the real-life inspiration behind the illustrations on Heather’s cards.

Big hugs
Jessica xx

The one where I share the cover and blurb for The Start of Something Wonderful

Today is the official cover reveal day for my next release, The Start of Something Wonderful, and I don’t think it’s possible for me to be more in love with one of my book covers than I am with this one. So here it is…

Isn’t it a stunner? Each time I have a cover reveal, I say it’s my new favourite but this has gone right to the top of the charts for me. There’s new branding with my name no longer in an arch and the ‘million-copy bestseller’ tagline which still feels like a dream. It’s so brilliantly representative of the Lake District National Park and perfect for the story.

My main character is Autumn Laine, an illustrator for a greetings cards company, and that’s her on the wooden cover looking out over Derwent Water.

I loved writing this book so much and am already really excited about starting book 2 in the series really soon (untitled so far but out in January 2024).

You can pre-order The Start of Something Wonderful on Kindle right now – do so here – and it will go up for pre-order on other eBook platforms and Audible nearer the time. The audio version hasn’t been recorded yet as we’re just at the final proofread stage with it. ALL versions – audio, digital and print – will be out at the same time on the publication day of 17th July.

I have so much to tell you about the setting and the inspiration behind the story but I’ll save all that until the book is out there.

In the meantime, here’s the full blurb:

Autumn Laine has lost her creative sparkle. After losing her grandad and her job as an illustrator in quick succession, she is at a crossroads in life and needs a break. Spending time with her parents in Paris, even in the artistic community of Montmartre, doesn’t appear to be the answer.

So when her penpal, Rosie, invites her to stay in the Lake District, Autumn jumps at the chance to get away from the hustle and bustle of Paris. After all, where better to re-discover her creativity than the place which inspired her heroine, Beatrix Potter?

Arriving at the picturesque lakeside village of Willowdale, Autumn is swept up by the beauty and magic of the stunning landscape. Welcomed into the community with open arms, she slowly starts to feel like herself again as her creative instincts re-ignite. 

But when she meets Dane, who has escaped to the Lakes for his own reasons, will Autumn’s walls come down to let someone in again after so long? Or will the secrets of her past continue to hold her back?

A new beginning is a daunting prospect, but could it be the start of something wonderful too..?
Join million-copy bestseller Jessica Redland for a brand new series, full of love, friendship and community.

Big hugs
Jessica xx

The one where I spent a fabulous Easter in the Lake District – Part 3

It seems like ages since I posted the first two posts about my Lake District break, but I needed to take a little pause to thank the amazing reviewers involved in the blog tour for Summer Nights at The Starfish Café and bring you news of my million sales milestone and my new publishing deal. But now it’s time to return to the Lakes for part 3…

Our second week in Keswick started on Good Friday and the weather was absolutely gorgeous – bright blue sky, pleasantly warm in the sun but not hot – which made for the ideal conditions for our plan to walk around Derwent Water.

We’d never tried to walk all the way round before, mainly due to lack of time. It’s a 10 mile (18km) walk so, unless you’re a fast walker and want to do it without stops, you really need to set aside a full day. We set off from our holiday cottage round the east side of the lake.

The path takes you right by the lake or very close most of the time. Even when you’re not right by the lake, there’s plenty to hold your interest with the fells all round you, trees, flowers, and farmland. I love that the walking surface is so varied too – tarmac, woodland paths, boardwalks, pebbly beaches. There are a couple of small inclines but nothing major, which was good when my legs were still recovering from the climb up Blencathra (and the scary descent) at the start of the week.

When we were there last Easter, Derwent Water was fairly low so the Centenary Stone had no water around it. Over New Year, it was submerged and we could only just see the top peeking out between ripples. We were hoping we might catch it this year with some water round it – a state we’ve never caught it in – but the lake was just a little too low for that. Still lovely to see. The Centenary Stone features in my first Escape to the Lakes book, The Start of Something Wonderful, but no spoilers as to what part it plays.

On the stretch towards Ashness Bridge pier (where you can catch a lake cruise with Keswick Launch Co.), you can take a high path, attempt to climb across the rocks, or go along the beach. We took the beach route. This would be an easy walk in the summer when the lake is at its lowest but wouldn’t be an option when the lake is high unless you want to wade. Over Easter, the lake was low enough to get round the rocks with feet in the water on a few occasions – hurrah for decent hiking boots keeping the feet dry!

At Ashness Bridge pier, we took a little detour to visit popular tourist spot, Ashness Bridge. Some of the information I’ve read says it’s a ten-minute walk and the Keswick Launch Co. say fifteen but I’m sure it took us longer than that, probably because my legs were protesting at doing a steep climb again!

Ashness Bridge is one of the most photographed places in the area and it’s no surprise as it’s really pretty and there’s a car park right by it for those interested in a quick visit or picnic. As well as the bridge/river/waterfalls, you have stunning views across Derwent Water and the surrounding fells. We stopped for a while to have a picnic lunch. (Photo credit to the hubby for the first photo below).

Rather than coming back the way we’d come, we took a public footpath towards Derwentwater Independent Hostel. The signs warned of a steep descent which made me a little nervous after my Blencathra trauma, but I decided to brave it. I’m so glad I did. It was steep but mainly via steps and there were handrails. The effort was rewarded by several beautiful waterfalls which we’d never have seen otherwise. The photos don’t do them justice at all but what a beautiful route.

The hostel was a fabulous building in stunning surroundings and the cogs are already whirring as to how I might be able to use this as inspiration in my Escape to the Lakes series.

Back to the lakeside (on the opposite side of the road), we picked up signs to the Mary Mount Hotel welcoming muddy boots and dogs. We had both and also a thirst so we decided to check it out. What a lovely place! There was a large beer garden on a couple of sides of the hotel and we sat ourselves at a picnic bench. As we’d already had our picnic lunch, we just ordered drinks but the food coming out to other tables looked delicious. We were so impressed that we’ve booked to spend a weekend there in early July as my birthday present. It’s my birthday today but there’s nothing I want or need so my treat is a weekend without the teenager and dog. The hotel does have dog friendly rooms but we’ve decided to leave her with the in-laws so that we’re not restricted on where we go across the weekend.

Anyway, back to Easter, we finished our drinks and continued our walk although I’d completely seized up so that was a big effort. Derwent Water ends just beyond the Mary Mount Hotel and another larger hotel called the Lodore Falls Hotel and Spa and the landscape was different yet again with channels of the River Derwent running through grassland, and boardwalks for the walkers. (Photo credit to the hubby for the first two photos below).

As we began the return leg of our journey up the western side of Derwent Water, my energy was low and I worried whether I would make it back. There were still cruises running in both directions and I knew of a couple of pontoons to catch them and, in my mind, that was my backup plan. We had a couple of photo and rest stops and, as we approached the final cruise pontoon, I seriously toyed with whether to catch it but I felt as though I’d come so far, it would be a shame not to finish it so continued onwards. (Photo credit to the hubby for the four photos below).

How adorable is this little cottage in the woods? Again, the cogs were whirring! (Photo credit to the hubby for the first two photos below).

We paused by the Lingholm Estate to look at the alpacas grazing in their field and I could barely put one foot in front of the other when we started moving again. Walking through Portinscale, I was struggling a lot but we’ve done that part of the route several times and I kept telling myself we were nearly there and I could (just about) do it!

We’d more than earned a drink and arranged for our daughter to meet us in the beer garden of the Wetherspoons pub which was only a short walk from the holiday cottage. My legs had pretty much seized up at this point and sitting down was a massive chore. Being a bank holiday, we were surprised at how quiet the beer garden was. Hubby went in to get us drinks and came out saying he knew why it was so quiet – there was a queue about 30 people deep at the bar and they were all ordering food! So I had to be hauled up to my feet and pretty much dragged on the final stretch home.

Including the distance between the lake and the holiday cottage and our detour to Ashness Bridge, it was a 13.5 mile (nearly 22km) walk. When you’re only 5 foot 2, that’s a lot of steps! No wonder my poor little legs were aching.

We had a bit of a relax on the Saturday and didn’t have plans for the Sunday either but I decided it would be fun to go out on a motorboat on Derwent Water. Hubby decided to have a walk with Ella while the daughter and I went out. Oh my goodness, how cold was it? The weather had massively deteriorated with rain in the air and the coldest of winds on the lake. My eyes were streaming so much, I could barely see to steer the boat! The daughter loved the opportunity to have a go behind the wheel although I was really jittery about it at first so I already know I’m going to be a disaster when she starts learning to drive at the start of next year and wants to practice in my car!

We warmed up with a drink and snack in the Lakeside Cafe and, typically, the sun came out at that point. Could have done with a bit of that while on the lake. Brr!

That’s it for this third part. One more part to come when I have a chance to write it. I’m off to grab myself a large slab of birthday cake now.

Best wishes
Jessica xx