The one where I explain why the Hedgehog Hollow series is ending

What a busy day it has been! Not only has it been the publication day of Chasing Dreams at Hedgehog Hollow but we’ve also had a cover reveal for the final book in the series: Christmas Miracles at Hedgehog Hollow. I absolutely love the cover – I mean, what’s not to love about hedgehogs wearing Christmas hats?

Book 6 will be out on 6th September so not long to wait and can be pre-ordered on Kindle UK here. It will go up for pre-order on Audible and other eBook sites nearer the time. A little heads up on the audio version is that, while we aim for all formats to be available on publication day, there will be a slight delay with the audio and it will be available a week to ten days later so please bear with us on that.

I’ve been out for most of the day and have had no WiFi connectivity which has been a bit frustrating so I was able to respond to messages first thing but not since. I hope to catch up tomorrow. Thank you everyone who has wished me publication best wishes and said kind things about the story. I’m so very grateful.

I’m still reeling at the current chart positions too. Chasing Dreams at Hedgehog Hollow is currently #27 in the overall Kindle chart and #42 in the Audible chart. I can’t quite believe it! The only eBook of mine that has reached a higher chart position on Kindle UK is New Beginnings at Seaside Blooms which happened when it went on a Prime deal. This is purely on pre-orders and purchases today and I’m so overwhelmed. Keep having to pinch myself!

So let’s talk about book 6 going up for pre-order and the series ending…

Since book three, I’ve been transparent about the series coming to an end and, after the release if book 4 – A Wedding at Hedgehog Hollow – in January, I’ve been very clear that there would be two more books, both out this year.

It’s so flattering that readers and listeners love Samantha, Josh and all the other characters so much – human and spiky – and want the series to keep going and I’m so grateful for that love and support. There’ve been expressions of disappointment, requests for me to keep writing the series indefinitely and a joke among some lovely fans of the series about staging a protest in my front garden (during which I must feed them biscuits) which has been great fun, making me laugh. What hasn’t been quite so fun are a couple of reviews stating that I’ve let readers down by ending the series. A particular advanced review said very little about the book and was instead a rant about how annoyed they were with me for this being the penultimate book. Eek! That’s a bit harsh! It’s not like I’ve abandoned it mid-series with a gazillion unfinished plot points.

The Hedgehog Hollow series has been exceptionally successful. What started out one book – a blending of an exercise I did on my Masters in Creative Writing with the desire to set something in a hedgehog rescue centre, inspired by my auntie’s work as a hedgehog rescuer – grew into something I don’t think any of us ever imagined. There’s a lot of love out there for hedgehogs. And quite rightly so!

Readers/listeners might therefore think I’m a little bonkers to end a series which is so popular so I thought I’d explain several reasons behind this decision:

Reason 1 – Not staying too long at the party

Anyone who read the acknowledgements at the back of book 3, Family Secrets at Hedgehog Hollow, will know that a couple of early reviews of book 2, New Arrivals at Hedgehog Hollow completely put me off my stride. Those reviews said I should have stopped at the one book because nothing happened in book 2 and it was all padding. Ouch! That hurt so much that I couldn’t write for several days and had a huge panic about agreeing with my publishers to extend the series.

Thankfully more lovely reviews came in and the pre-orders, sales figures and quality of reviews have shown that, while there will always be some readers who decide they’ve had enough and dip out of a series, the vast majority of my readers have loved all the books and can’t get enough of Hedgehog Hollow.

But there’s always that fear at the back of my mind that, if I keep going on indefinitely, I will hit the point where those ‘should have stopped earlier’ comments are valid criticism and even I agree with them. 

For me, for my amazing cast of characters and for those wonderful hedgehogs, I want the series to end on a high.

Reason 2 – Having enough stories to tell

There’s a large and fascinating cast of characters connected with Hedgehog Hollow and they all have stories to tell but some are more interesting than others so, in creating this series, I’ve needed to think about who has something interesting to say, ensuring the main storyline remains fresh and very different from book to book while keeping some of the series threads and themes going.

Many of the characters are so closely connected to each other that in telling one character’s story, I’ve revealed much of another’s story too, meaning there’s insufficient left to explore in a separate book.

If we take Samantha’s parents, for example – Jonathan and Debs – their lives are so tied in with Samantha’s storyline and much of their backstory has already come out within Samantha’s narration. I did toy with a book where Jonathan was the narrator (then changed my mind) but I was always adamant that Debs wouldn’t narrate one. This is because the relationship between Samantha and Debs is a key thread across the whole series and giving Debs a book would lessen the impact of following that thread through Samantha’s eyes. We’ve already discovered why Debs is the way she is through information shared across the series and we know the relationship history between Debs and Jonathan through other books so, if I told her story (or Jonathan’s) I’d have been regurgitating known information which would take away the excitement of a backstory reveal.

It’s the same with Josh’s parents, Connie and Paul. Enough of their backstory has already been revealed through Josh in New Arrivals at Hedgehog Hollow and we’ve kept a track of how they’re doing with their new partners throughout the series. They don’t need books of their own. I could write them but the ‘staying too long at the party’ criticism would be deserved if I did.

Reason 3 – Giving Samantha her happy ever after

This is actually the biggest reason for stopping at six books. The way I set up this series was to have Samantha as the narrator all the way through. This makes sense. After all, Samantha is Hedgehog Hollow. She’s the person who set it up, she’s the person who runs it, she’s the connection to all the other characters.

From book 2 onwards, a guest narrator whose life is connected to Samantha’s has told their interlinked story. While the ‘big’ story is usually the one belonging to the guest narrator, Samantha does need to have key things happening in her life to keep her story interesting and not just padding.

SPOILER ALERT – Skip over these next 2 paragraphs if you’ve just started the series

In New Arrivals, we found Samantha struggling to balance the needs of the rescue centre alongside her full-time role as a tutor, resulting in her collapsing at work and accepting she couldn’t do both jobs. In Family Secrets, she started experiencing PTSD episodes as a result of the vendetta from the Grimes family and, in A Wedding, she was planning her wedding while dealing with the theft of the rescue centre’s money and the subsequent arrival of Phoebe and Darcie. 

There have also been three key relationship threads developing across the series – with Josh, her mum and Chloe – where something has changed in each book to move those relationships forward. With Josh, this has been the stages in their relationship, with Debs it has been the gradual thawing of hostilities, and with Chloe this is about Samantha standing up to her during her selfish moments, developing Samantha’s confidence and resilience.

NO SPOILERS FROM NOW…

So there’s always been a conflict/challenge facing Samantha in each book running alongside the ongoing relationship threads.

I sometimes get messages from readers, see comments on social media, and read remarks in reviews telling me to lay off Samantha and asking when I’m going to let her have her happy ever after. I love that readers adore Samantha and want her to be happy but my response is always that, if I give Samantha her HEA, the series ends. Without conflict, there’s no story to tell.

Much as I understand this desire for Samantha to settle down with Josh, have babies, have a calm and quiet life rescuing hedgehogs, no more family conflicts and no more trouble with the Grimes family, do readers really want to read about a ‘normal’ happy life? Of course not! They want to be excited, moved, drawn into a story. And a HEA doesn’t do that.

Which is why the series must end.

My amazing editor, Nia, had also questioned the sense in ending the series when it’s doing so well but, when she read my first draft of Chasing Dreams, the reasons clicked into place for her. She could see what I was saying about how increasingly difficult it would be to have a story for Samantha to tell. I had conflict planned for her in books 5 and 6 but where else would I go beyond that?

There’s conflict I could bring in to keep the series going. I could mess things up for her and Josh. I could introduce a number of scenarios leading to arguments or even a split … but why would I do that? For a start, they are such a well-suited couple. They don’t argue. They’re a partnership, supporting each other through everything so this wouldn’t sit with the relationship I’ve built. I doubt the readers would appreciate it either. Why invest in a couple only for the author to then split them up? And Samantha and Josh certainly wouldn’t thank me for it. One of the things that was really important to me was that, when they got together, it would work for life and I know from reviews that readers have loved how solid they are.

What to expect from the final book

There is one more story I want to tell which is Fizz’s. I loved her from the moment she turned up unexpectedly on the page. With her pink hair and sparkly unicorn T-shirt, she made a strong first impression and I just knew she was going to become a key character.

Running alongside Fizz’s story, Samantha will have one more challenge to overcome before I finally give her a happy ever after.

The final book – Christmas Miracles at Hedgehog Hollow – is available for pre-order on Kindle now and will have conclusions for many of the supporting characters. It will go up for pre-order on Audible and other eBook formats nearer the time and be available as a paperback from publication day. I’ve shared the blurb at the end of this post.

Is that it for Hedgehog Hollow?

The great news is that, although this is the end of the series, it’s not the end of Hedgehog Hollow. I still plan to write a prequel book telling Thomas and Gwendoline’s story which I’m excited to write. This is currently penned in for release in July 2024 on the 4-year anniversary of the release of the first book in the series – Finding Love at Hedgehog Hollow – but no definite promises on this just yet. Things can and do change in publishing.

I’m also planning some spin-off books which will tell the stories of people who become connected in some way with Hedgehog Hollow, whether as volunteers or for some other reason. I can’t give too much away as that would give spoilers for what’s coming up in Chasing Dreams and Christmas Miracles but readers will get to catch up with what’s going on at the rescue centre without Samantha being the narrator (and without me having to mess up Samantha’s life!)

I’m really looking forward to writing the first one of these – which I can confirm will be out in January 2023 – and I think readers will be happy with the glimpses into life at Hedgehog Hollow through the eyes of new characters.

So that’s why the series is ending! Would I ever write another Hedgehog Hollow book (other than the prequel)? Never say never but I’m not planning to do so for the moment.

Thank you to everyone who has fallen in love with the series and with hedgehogs. Your support and kind words have meant the world to me. For those who are disappointed, please don’t be sad – feel happy instead that you travelled to Hedgehog Hollow and made new friends and know that there’s more to come from the Yorkshire Wolds, Whitsborough Bay and my new setting in 2023 of the stunning Lake District.

Big hedge-hugs
Jessica xx

It’s the countdown to Christmas at Hedgehog Hollow Wildlife Rescue Centre, and everyone is gearing up for a festive season to remember…

It should be the most wonderful time of the year for Samantha and Josh as they prepare for the arrival of their first baby. But life at Hedgehog Hollow rarely goes to plan and the pair are faced with adversaries, old and new, and unexpected challenges to overcome.

Fizz’s job at the heart of the rescue centre is a dream come true but her personal life is more like a nightmare. With her love life a disaster and her past about to dramatically catch up with her, she needs the love and support of her Hedgehog Hollow family more than ever.

As the snow falls over Hedgehog Hollow, will Samantha and Fizz find the Christmas miracle they need to overcome their heartache and find happiness?

Top 10 bestseller Jessica Redland welcomes you back to Hedgehog Hollow this Christmas for the final time in this series for a heartfelt story of love, family, friendship – and hedgehogs of course!

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Big hugs
Jessica xx

The one where two of my audiobooks crack the Audible Top 20

Two of my audiobooks have been on Audible UK daily deals. All You Need Is Love was on offer on 19th March and New Arrivals at Hedgehog Hollow was on offer yesterday (1st April).

I’ve had a few of my audiobooks make it into the Top 100 on a 2 for 1 credit or BOGOF deal but these were my first daily deals and I’ve been so thrilled with the results.

All You Need Is Love cracked the Top 20 at #17 but New Arrivals at Hedgehog Hollow climbed even higher to #13.

Both audiobooks made it into the #1 slots in two categories with All You Need is Love a best seller in Contemporary Romance and Friendship Fiction and New Arrivals a best seller in Romance and Women’s Fiction

Hurrah for the bears and hedgehogs!

At one point yesterday, the hedgehogs were in a Harry Potter sandwich which made me smile. They were also #1 in the Movers and Shakers’ chart for such a massive move up to #13. I don’t think I’ve ever been at the top of that chart before.

Thank you so much to everyone who bought either or both of these titles making another writing goal come true. I’m so grateful to you all xx

Wishing you a fabulous weekend.

Big hugs
Jessica xx

The one where the hedgehogs exceed 10,000 reviews/ratings on Amazon

A couple of days ago on 2nd February, I was delighted to see the fourth book in the Hedgehog Hollow series – A Wedding at Hedgehog Hollow – pass the 1,000 reviews/ratings milestone on Amazon. This was on the four-week anniversary of release, less than a month after publication (it came out on 6th January).

It hasn’t gathered reviews quite as quickly as book 3 – Family Secrets at Hedgehog Hollow – which hit this milestone on its three-week anniversary but four weeks is still amazing! Go hedgehogs!

The other three books all hit special milestones this year and, added together, they have exceeded 10,000. I know I’ve said it before but this is so astonishing because I spent five years dreaming of just one of my books reaching 100 reviews and it shows how much has changed since Boldwood Books took a chance on me.

The hedgehogs and I are so very grateful to Boldwood, to my amazing editor Nia who works her magic during the editing process, and to everyone who has left a rating or review. THANK YOU!

The 10,000 is just on Amazon. I’ve had a quick look on Audible where the series so far has gathered well over 2,000 reviews and Apple Books where there are 667. Lots of love around for those hedgehogs.

Big hedge-hugs
Jessica xx

The one with a lovely writing start to the New Year

Happy New Year!

I hope you’ve had a lovely day so far. Mine has been a very ordinary Saturday – doing a stack of washing, the dog has been for a groom, and I’m doing some prep work for something I’m involved in online throughout January. But, actually, I like that it’s been back to normality. I really struggle with the feeling after Christmas Day that I’m on holiday but not actually away on holiday.

Writing-wise, two of my books have hit amazing reviews milestones today.

Reviews for Snowflakes Over The Starfish Café came in slowly and steadily at first which we expected as it was released in late August and we knew a lot of readers would save it until they picked up their wintery/Christmas reads.

I noticed reviews coming in much quicker during December with 1,500 reached mid-month. With that sort of momentum, I hoped that it might hit the whopping 2,000 milestone on Kindle before the end of the year.

It actually hit it this morning and, across the day, an astonishing 50 reviews/ratings have been added taking it way past that and 92% are positive. If you’d like to see why readers are loving it so much, it’s still on a 99p deal and you can buy it on Kindle UK here.

In the meantime, I’ve been willing the hedgehogs along. Book 2, New Arrivals at Hedgehog Hollow, hit a 3,000 milestone a few months back and book 3, Family Secrets at Hedgehog Hollow, has been edging closer but not quite making it. Until today. 3,000 reviews/ratings! Woo hoo! And 94% of them are positive!

On Kindle, the series has attracted a whopping 9,068 reviews/ratings so far. Add in a further 636 on Apple Books and an amazing 1,712 on Audible, and there’s definitely a lot of love around for those hedgehogs.

Which is just as well as book 4 will be out on Thursday (6th January). Eek! It can be pre-ordered for Kindle UK here and Audible UK here.

Happy New Year to you and thank you so much to everyone who has left reviews/ratings for any of my books but especially these two milestone-achievers.

Big New Year hugs
Jessica xx

The one where I thank you all for your support in 2021 and wish you a fabulous 2022

Last year, I wrote a really detailed blog post looking back over 2020, broken down into the highs and lows of each quarter in what was a very strange year for us all. It was really interesting reading it earlier so I decided to replicate something similar for 2021.

I’ve just spent three hours working on it, pulling together everything that happened across the year, and I’ve lost the will to continue. Not because there aren’t amazing highs to share or that it isn’t interesting to look back but simply because I think it’s more interesting for me than my readers. So I’ve ditched it.

Instead, I’m going to write a much shorter thank you post to those who have made 2021 another special year for me professionally.

Thank you in no particular order to:

  • Everyone who has supported me and my books this year. To my readers and listeners, thank you so much for buying, borrowing, streaming, reviewing, promoting, and recommending some or all of my books
  • Anyone who has participated in a blog tour (especially those who’ve joined them all) and to the amazing Rachel Gilbey for organising these
  • Readers/reviewers who have named one or more of my books as their favourites of the year. What an absolute honour!
  • Bloggers/reviewers who’ve kindly featured me on their blogs/websites as a guest this year
  • Readers who’ve sent me messages or emails telling me what my stories have meant to them
  • The amazing members of my Facebook community, Redland’s Readers, who share their love of the worlds I’ve created and gorgeous pictures of hedgehogs, lighthouses, the sea and so on
  • The admins and members of some fabulous book communities for embracing and promoting my work including The Friendly Book Community, Heidi Swain and Friends – A Facebook Book Club, Jenny Colgan and More Great Books and Book Swap Central
  • The Boldwood readers community who voted for Snowflakes Over The Starfish Café as the first #BoldBookClub readalong and shared their thoughts, and to the fabulous Claire Fenby for creating this
  • Sharon Booth, super talented author, for friendship and encouragement
  • The Write Romantics, my original writing family, for friendship and support through the highs and lows of our journeys – Jo Bartlett, Sharon Booth, Jackie Ladbury, Deirdre Palmer (also writes as Zara Thorne), Lynne Pardoe, Helen Phifer, Helen Rolfe, Rachel Thomas, Alys West
  • All the fabulous authors at Team Boldwood, most of whom I’ve only met virtually, for being so friendly and supportive
  • New friends I’ve had the pleasure of meeting this year including the lovely Eliza J Scott
  • A wonderful community of authors who’ve been shared posts and been amazing in the author community. Too many to name but I specifically want to shout out to Sandy Barker, Kim Nash (aka Kim the Bookworm) and Ian Wilfred who have done so much for me and other authors this year
  • My mum for being my biggest fan who shows unwavering interest in everything that’s happening with my books
  • My brilliant husband Mark for being the most supportive and understanding husband ever, and our gorgeous daughter Ashleigh for never moaning about how much time I spend drifting off in my fictional worlds
  • Everyone involved in the process of getting my books to the market – Cecily my copy editor, Sue my proofreader, Debbie my cover designer and Megan at Boldwood preparing all the books for digital upload and distribution
  • The amazing team of narrators and distributors at ISIS Audio and Ulverscroft
  • The amazing library staff who’ve stocked and promoted my books/audiobooks, especially Middlesbrough Libraries who had me as their author of the month during December
  • The Works for taking another two of my books this year and specifically to the manager Jamie and her fabulous team at The Works Scarborough for being so welcoming and promoting my books to their customers
  • The RNA (Romantic Novelists’ Association) for championing romantic fiction and challenging the appalling snobbery this genre receives
  • The best editor in the world ever, Nia Beynon, for editing excellence, empathy, and encouragement. Fifteen books down, nine to go… and hopefully many more after that!
  • And last, but by no means least, the whole team at Boldwood Books for another amazing year. Five more books released, three of them brand new, and sales of half a million earlier this year have been phenomenal. Amanda our CEO continues to drive an innovative, inspirational publisher where the author is at the centre of everything they do. I can’t wait to see what new ideas 2022 brings

I hope 2021 has brought you kindness and happiness, despite the continued strangeness and I send you best wishes for 2022. Hope the year starts well and brings dreams and wishes fulfilled.

Big New Year hugs
Jessica xx

I’ll finish with a gallery of some of this years writing-related highs including five new releases, two books into The Works, an Italian translation, an amazing competition in conjunction with Lucy Pittaway artist, and so much more …

The one with 2 audiobook offers, 2 milestones & a trip to Whitby

Five more sleeps until Christmas. Eek! Are you all sorted? We had a quick nip into town first thing, before it got busy, and bought the last of our gifts. I wrapped them as soon as I got back so I think we’re there now.

AUDIOBOOK OFFERS

If you’re an Audible UK subscriber and fancy something Christmassy to listen to while you’re wrapping the gifts or preparing the Christmas dinner, look no further because Christmas Wishes at the Chocolate Shop is in their sale for £3 right now. It was a thrill to see the audiobooks storming straight into the Top 100 and almost getting into the Top 50, peaking (so far) at #51.

If you’d like something non-Christmassy to listen to, the third book in my ‘Welcome to Whitsborough Bay’ series, Finding Hope at Lighthouse Cove, is also £3 in the sale. It was meant to be on this offer a few weeks back but it didn’t get activated so they’ve added it in now. It also went straight into the Top 100, peaking (so far) at #65 which is so lovely to see.

It was also special to see them side by side in the two top positions in the audio Women’s Fiction chart…

These sales usually last a week but, because of Christmas, they’re on for a fortnight, ending on 3rd January 2022.

Thank you to all the lovely listeners who have bought them during the Audible sale so far. Please do spread the word!

MILESTONES

I’ve had a couple more reviews/ratings milestones on Amazon in the past few days. Christmas Wishes at the Chocolate Shop has hit the 1,000 mark and Coming Home to Seashell Cottage, the fourth and final book in the ‘Welcome to Whitsborough Bay’ series has hit 1,500.

An enormous thank you to anyone who has helped them get to these amazing milestones. I have to still pinch myself to see my books having so many reviews.

A TRIP TO WHITBY

And, finally, we had a lovely trip up the coast to Whitby yesterday. I was concerned it might be a little busy as there are lots of delightful gift shops, ideal for Christmas gifts, but it was actually fairly deserted. The weather probably didn’t help as it was cold, misty and damp as you can probably tell from the photos.

There’s a fabulous heritage trail with amazing wire sculptures depicting the fishing industry in Whitby. Hubby snapped these couple of pics. I love how you can see iconic images in the background like the lighthouse on the one on the left and St Mary’s Church (near Whitby Abbey) in the one on the right. There were several other sculptures and hopefully we’ll return soon and go round them all.

There’s s a lifeboat station at Whitby and, on the other side of the river, an RNLI shop where the lifeboat station used to be. I couldn’t resist a few purchases, especially when Snowflakes Over The Starfish Café strongly features the RNLI in its storyline.

The quote on the tote bag and the wooden box – the call from Sir William Hillary, founder of the RNLI in 1823 to form a national institution to save lives at sea – appears at the start of the book and is a recurring theme throughout. I love it so much.

There’s a branch of The Works there so we popped in to see if they had any of my books in. Starry Skies Over The Chocolate Pot Café appeared to have sold through but the hedgehogs were there. I definitely don’t think they’ll sell through quickly this side of Christmas when readers of this genre are after their festive reads, but hopefully they’ll fly off the shelves in the New Year.

On the Abbey side of the river, there are two lovely discount bookshops on the same street almost opposite each other, one having a range of books, jigsaws and toys – Good Reads Whitby – and the other focusing purely on Whitby with Whitby-based books, merchandise, photographs etc.

Whenever we see an independent bookshop, I like to go inside to see whether there are any of my books or books by Boldwood Buddies. This is because, when there’s a print run from The Works, more books than they need are printed to make the low cost of selling them financially viable. The excess are bought by a third party and distributed round the UK to indie bookshops, garden centres, post offices, local supermarkets etc., and others go abroad, particularly to Canada to an online retailer/bookstore called Indigo.

We paused to look in the window and how delighted was I to see Starry Skies Over The Chocolate Pot Café in there! What a treat!

Inside, there were loads of Boldwood Buddies which is always so exciting to see. And two more of my books! There were copies of Making Wishes at Bay View and The Secret to Happiness.

So if you live in or near Whitby and didn’t get a chance to pick up these books while they were in The Works, now’s your chance!

Big Christmassy hugs
Jessica xx

The one where I signed New Arrivals at Hedgehog Hollow in The Works

I posted over the weekend to say that New Arrivals at Hedgehog Hollow – the second book in the Hedgehog Hollow series – had appeared online at The Works and also in stores but I hadn’t seen copies in my local branch.

The munchkin stays for drama club after school on a Monday so I need to pick her up and it’s on the other side of town. I arrived early today but she’d got out early which gave us just enough time to nip into town on the way home and scoot to The Works to see if my book was in. And it was!

The lovely manager Jamie was there and she’d been hoping I’d appear. The books were placed on the shelves on Saturday and half of them have already sold which was exciting so I only had a pile of five to sign but I’ve now done that.

Please excuse the state of me in these photos! This was an impromptu visit prompted by the munchkin being early so I have no make-up on, haven’t run a brush through my hair, and have my super-casual jogging pants on. But that didn’t detract from the excitement of signing copies of my paperbacks in a real shop. This is the fifth book of mine in there and the fourth time I’ve signed copies (never entered my head to ask the first time) and I don’t think it will ever get boring!

It was lovely to hear Jamie telling me that Starry Skies Over The Chocolate Pot had sold out really quickly and that they’ve had customers in really excited to get their hands on New Arrivals, hence half of them selling already. I also massively appreciate that they always place my books in the eye line buy line position in the middle of the shelves.

Thank you to Jamie and all the staff in The Works Scarborough who are always so welcoming and friendly.

Big hugs
Jessica xx

Celebrating a super sales milestone

Last week, I had a Zoom meeting with my publisher where they shared the most amazing news about a milestone that my book sales have achieved. I wanted to write a blog post about it, but I was chasing a deadline and could only manage a quick share on the socials. Thank you so much for all the amazing and supportive comments I received. I appreciated them so much.

The milestone was a whopping 500k – or half a million (sounds more somehow!) – sales of my books through Boldwood Books. This is across all formats and all titles released through Boldwood from my first one – The Secret to Happiness – which was released in September 2019 right up to the end of September 2021, therefore covering a two-year period and thirteen titles, although two of those had only just been released in August so haven’t had a chance to gather many sales yet.

If you’ve followed my blog or my journey for a while, you’ll understand how much this milestone means to me and what a big deal it is after such a shaky start as an author.

When I secured a 3-book publishing deal with my debut novel back in 2014 – following 23 rejections – I thought I’d made it. You would, wouldn’t you? I actually had two offers come through round about the same time so had a very happy decision on my hands. My first full-length novel through my chosen publisher was released in June 2015 but we released a novella just before it which acted as a great introduction to the series. The remaining books came out in March 2016 and August 2016 respectively. My publishers were lovely and enthusiastic but they were a new entrant to the market and had overestimated their ability to make an impact. Having achieved fewer than 1,500 sales across the four titles in the space of 18 months, the publisher ceased trading and my rights were returned in autumn 2017. It was a crushing blow.

My husband hurriedly designed some new covers and, in November 2016, we released all 4 Kindle books as an independent author under the imprint ‘Little Bear Books’, Little Bear being my nickname. They tanked. That first November, I sold no eBooks. In December, I sold 7. In January, I sold 6. I’m sure you can imagine how soul-destroying that was!

I’d been working on another new novel which was called Bear With Me (since re-edited and rereleased through Boldwood as All You Need Is Love) and I thought that a new book on the market would make a huge difference. It made little impact.

A couple of Christmas releases in October finally gathered some momentum but, on the whole, I massively struggled as an indie author. I had days where I sold no books at all and, as the number of books I’d written steadily rose, that was increasingly disheartening. The frustrating thing was that those who read my books seemed to love them, but readers weren’t finding them. I did several free promotions in the hope that reading one book would generate sales of other books. It didn’t seem to. I knew I needed to spend time and money investing in advertising but where do you find time when you’re already working 7 days a week with the day job and where do you find money when writing isn’t making you any? It’s a Catch-22 situation where you need to invest to earn but you need to earn to be able to invest.

I decided to go on another round of submissions in late 2018 but, after being burnt first time around, was very selective about where I submitted. I received another 8 rejections, although some were from the same publisher for different books after giving me positive feedback and an open invitation to keep submitting. Each rejection made me crumble a little more and seriously question whether I was kidding myself that I had any talent. But writing is who I am. I couldn’t imagine not creating stories so I kept going even though it was looking like writing full-time was a dream I’d never achieve and that making it financially viable alongside a demanding full-time day job wasn’t looking good either.

And then Boldwood Books started up and I submitted on their very first day. I’d decided that this was my final attempt and, if it was a no too, I’d remain an indie author and keep hoping … or finally admit defeat. Thank goodness they said yes!

I’ve just done some number crunching. During my indie years – November 2016 to August 2019 – I sold 4,789 eBooks and gave away a frightening 3,558 eBooks for free, meaning ‘sales’ totalled 8,347 in just shy of 3 years. Add in my original publisher’s sales and we’re talking 9,814 copies shifted (only 6,256 of which generated any income) across 9 books in the space of 4 years and 2 months. Eek! This figure doesn’t include pages read on Kindle Unlimited as there isn’t an easy way for me to work out the equivalent of that in books sold.

So to have half a million sales in two years – an increase of about 5000% – makes for on extremely excitable, astonished and happy author. As a very rough calculation (if I’ve done my maths correctly), that’s an average 6 books a day (including the free ones) pre-Boldwood and 657 a day post-Boldwood. A tad different!

I have so many people to thank, without whom this wouldn’t have been possible:

  • My readers and listeners – whether you’ve supported me since the start or I’ve been recent discovery for you, I can’t thank you enough for falling in love with Whitsborough Bay and Hedgehog Hollow

    All the amazing bloggers and reviewers who have spread the word through your blogs and/or the socials, and recommended my books to your friends and followers. This is one of the most amazing things you can do for an author you love as recommendations make such a massive difference

    The amazing Facebook writing communities such as the wonderful The Friendly Book Community, Heidi Swain and Friends – A Facebook Book Club, and Jenny Colgan and More Great Books for your unwavering support and recommendations

    The wonderfully lovely members of my own Facebook group, Redland’s Readers, who make me smile every day with their hedgehog pictures and gorgeous feedback

    Rachel Gilbey of Rachel’s Random Resources who organises my blog tours for Boldwood but who also arranged several for me as an indie author. Thank you for such fabulous tours and for being a champion of my stories from the very start. I’m so grateful
  • My original writing family, The Write Romantics, for being there through the highs and lows of this bumpy journey, particularly Sharon Booth and Jo Bartlett who have helped raise me up or helped me unravel troublesome plot points. You are all absolute stars
  • My more recently adopted family, Boldwood Books. Not only have I achieved so many writing dreams since joining Boldwood, but I’ve joined the most fabulous group of people. Thank you to Amanda and Nia for believing in me and taking me on in the first place, to Claire and Megan behind the scenes, to those involved in all other aspects of the book’s journey – cover design, copy editing, proofreading – and all the wonderful authors who are so friendly and supportive
  • A second mention to my phenomenal editor, Nia Beynon, whose brilliant advice and editorial guidance is what shapes my words into the final version the readers and listeners experience and I could never have achieved this without her. Nia, I can’t thank you enough for being such a dream to work with
  • My amazing audiobook narrators – Lucy Brownhill, Emma Swan, James Dryden and Gareth Bennett-Ryan – for bringing the books to life and the team at ISIS Audio and Ulverscroft for the distribution
  • My mum, daughter and husband for being so amazingly supportive

I’m the first Boldwood author to have reached this milestone, although that’s mainly because I’m also the author with the most books released so far due to Boldwood taking on my entire backlist. My next target is to have an individual title join the 100k club. The first one to get there will be Finding Love at Hedgehog Hollow, the first book in the Hedgehog Hollow series although, with sales so far just below 77k, it’s still got a little way to go. Several of my Boldwood buddies have already achieved this, some with more than one book, which is absolutely phenomenal!

Thank you again, everyone. Here’s to the next half a million!

Big enormous happy hugs
Jessica xx

PS Apologies for the missing bullet points. I swear I’ve added them in but WordPress is refusing to play ball!

A happy dance for the Welcome to Whitsborough Bay series

I’m delighted to say that all four books in the Welcome to Whitsborough Bay series have now passed the 1,000 reviews/ratings milestone on Amazon and want to thank every single reader who has taken the time to leave a review or rating, especially if it’s a positive one!

Book 1 – Making Wishes at Bay Viewwas the first to get there quite a few months ago and has already passed the 1,500 milestone, next stop 2,000. This made sense to me as the first book in a series is often the most widely read.

Book 4 got there next – Coming Home to Seashell Cottageand is well on its way to the 1,500 milestone now. Again, this made sense to me as, reading the reviews, quite a lot of readers have referred to the whole series as though they have perhaps just rated the final one.

It was therefore a battle between New Beginnings at Seaside Blooms (book 2) and Finding Hope at Lighthouse Cove (book 3) as to which would get to 1,000 first. Seaside Blooms took that crown nearly a fortnight ago on 16th September and, at the time, Lighthouse Cove only needed seven more reviews to reach the milestone. But there were none the next day… or the day after.

Finally, today, book 3 was jubilant and hit the big 1,000.

Between the four books and the box set, there are well over 5,000 reviews/ratings on Amazon and 92% of those are a positive 4- or 5-star rating. I’m thrilled that readers have taken this series to their hearts and shown such love for Callie, Sarah, Elise and Clare’s stories.

No matter how many books I write, this will always remain an exceptionally special series for me as it’s where my writing journey started. I often get asked which my favourite book is and I love them all for different reasons.

Seaside Blooms, although book 2 in the series, is the first book I wrote so that will always hold a very special place in my heart. Seashell Cottage is probably my favourite story as I felt something shift in my author voice when I wrote that story, moving from a lighter romcom style into the deeper emotional women’s fiction category. Clare fascinated me as she arrived on the pages of Seaside Blooms all feisty, spiky and guarded and I didn’t know why. It was a wonderful thing unwrapping her story in book 4.

But I love Making Wishes because octogenarian Ruby is one of the most fun and fabulous characters I’ve ever created, and Lighthouse Cove has one of my favourite romances in it. So, yes, I love them all and I’m thrilled that readers do too. Thank you again.

A huge thank you also to my amazing publishers, Boldwood Books, and my brilliant editor Nia Beynon without whom I wouldn’t be celebrating milestones like this.

What a lovely start to the week. If you haven’t yet taken a trip to Whitsborough Bay, I hope you’ll be tempted to dive in.

Big hugs
Jessica xx