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 with all the birthdays

We’re celebrating three birthdays in our house today – 11th March 2022 – and another one tomorrow. Today it’s my husband’s birthday, our dog’s, and I have a book birthday today and tomorrow.

A huge happy birthday to my amazing husband, Mark, who is impossible to buy for so has chosen his own gift today. He is such an amazing supporter of my writing and I’m so exceptionally grateful and lucky to have him.

Happy 6th birthday to our sprocker spaniel, Ella, who may now be 42 in human years but still believes she’s a puppy.

And happy 1st book birthday to All You Need Is Love.

Many of my books have two birthdays – like the Queen! That’s because they were originally released by me as an indie writer or through my original publishing deal but, as they barely made any impact pre-Boldwood, I count their re-release through the amazing Boldwood Books as their official birthday.

All You Need Is Love is one of my personal favourites. I absolutely love Jemma and Sam’s emotional story intertwined with the challenges Jemma’s mum is facing and the backdrop of a specialist teddy bear shop on Whitsborough Bay’s Castle Street. A few lovely achievements during its first year include:

  • 40,000 copies sold across all formats
  • Over 1,600 reviews/ratings on Amazon
  • Over 300 reviews/ratings on Audible
  • Kindle UK Top 100 (highest position #81)
  • Kindle Australia Top 50
  • Audible UK Top 50
  • Several #1 Best Seller category tags

I have another book birthday to celebrate tomorrow so I’m including that here too rather than doing a separate blog post. Coming Home to Seashell Cottage is two tomorrow (12th March).

This is another personal favourite of mine. It’s the fourth (and final) book in the first series I penned – ‘Welcome to Whitsborough Bay’ – and it’s the book where I found my voice and the type of book I really wanted to write. Full of twists and turns and packing an emotional punch, it was a game-changer for me and I’ll always be immensely proud of it. Across two years, it has also had some lovely achievements:

  • 43,000 copies sold across all formats
  • Over 1,800 reviews/ratings on Amazon
  • Nearly 325 reviews/ratings on Audible
  • Kindle UK Top 200 (highest position #165)
  • Kindle Australia Top 100
  • Audible UK Top 50
  • Apple UK Top 25 (and #5 in the Romance category)
  • Several #1 Best Seller category tags

Coming Home to Seashell Cottage is currently on a 2 for 1 Audible Credit Deal which ENDS TOMORROW at 11.59pm (Saturday 12th March) so it’s the final chance to get this on a deal.

I’m so thrilled to see it in the overall Audible Top 50 as I write this! THANK YOU xxx

So a HAPPY BIRTHDAY to my man, my dog and two of the books in my life!

It’s funny looking at the sales figures for the two because All You Need is Love got off to a bit of a slow start and it looked like it was going to be my least-sold book but that has changed and it is only just behind Coming Home to Seashell Cottage in sales figures but in half the time. Which then makes me feel sorry for Coming Home to Seashell Cottage. I wonder if it’s because All You Need is Love can be read as a standalone book so new readers are more likely to pick that up than a four-book series. Hmm.

I can tie yourself into knots wondering why some books sell better than others so it’s best not to think about it too much and just focus on how incredibly grateful I am that they sell at all!

If you’re celebrating a birthday today, tomorrow or any time this month, I wish you all the best. Thank you as always to everyone who has bought/borrowed/downloaded these two books (or any others) in any format, and/or has spread the word. It’s so much appreciated.

Big birthday hugs
Jessica xx

The one with the Whitsborough Bay tour round Scarborough’s North Bay

We made a decision to aim for one family day out each weekend but couldn’t go very far this weekend just gone. The munchkin was on a Duke of Edinburgh practise walk from one end to the other of Scarborough’s sea front (about 4 miles) on Saturday afternoon and we were expecting a plumber to quote for some work on Sunday.

As we needed to pick the munchkin up at the end of her walk, we decided to go early and have a wander round North Bay. It was a very cold and windy day – preparing for Storm Malik – and I took quite a few pics to show different parts of North Bay from my books.

STANLEY MOFFATT

Freddie Gilroy is an oversized statue of a former soldier who sits on his giant bench overlooking the sea at South Bay. You can read more about who he is and the story of the statue on this Wiki page.

He’s so iconic that he had to feature in my Whitsborough Bay stories but, as Whitsborough Bay is fictional, I needed to change his identity.

In my stories, he’s Stanley Moffatt, a fisherman who was saved by the RNLI. He’s first mentioned in The Secret to Happiness and features in Snowflakes Over The Starfish Café and the forthcoming Spring Tides at The Starfish Café.

As you can see, Freddie’s (or Stanley’s) bench looks a bit wet. It hadn’t been raining. This was from the earlier overtopping caused by the high tide and the wind so I took these photos very quickly while keeping an eye on the sea just in case.

You see the buildings on the top of the cliff? That’s where Danniella rents her flat from Aidan in The Secret to Happiness, although her flat would be a smidge further round off camera.

THE SEA

The dangers of dodging waves is one of the themes I explore in The Starfish Café series. In Snowflakes Over The Starfish Café, I talk about bollards being put up on the slipway after several tragedies. Although the details have been changed slightly on one of these, it is based on a true story from 2005 which resulted in the slipway near Freddie being permanently closed. Signs remind the public of the dangers of the sea yet people still take chances.

When we were down on the seafront on Saturday, it was a couple of hours after high tide. There were a few high waves and some spray but we stayed well back because we’re not daft.

The photo above shows the slipway that is permanently closed. Without giving spoilers, this is where an incident in Jake’s childhood occurs in Snowflakes Over The Starfish Café.

THE BEACH HUTS

Scarborough’s North Bay beach huts are gorgeous. Painted lime green, sky blue, red, orange and yellow, I decided not to change any aspect of them and they appear in my books exactly as they appear on North Bay.

They feature in loads of my books. In The Secret to Happiness, Karen’s bootcamp often takes place on the promenade in front of the huts which was inspired by my own experiences of doing two different bootcamps at 6am three mornings a week for a few years. Couldn’t do that now!

Clare walks along here on a visit to Whitsborough Bay in Coming Home to Seashell Cottage and they feature a few times in All You Need Is Love. And I’m sure you can see why.

SEA RESCUE SANCTUARY

Although I haven’t set a story there (yet), I do mention the Sea Rescue Sanctuary in several books, especially The Starfish Café series. In Scarborough, it’s really the Sealife Centre and it’s the pyramid shaped building in the background here (which I’ve changed to domes in my books).

HEARNSHAW PARK

Near Scarborough’s North Bay is the fabulous Peasholm Park, re-named as Hearnshaw Park in my books. Again, it features in several stories, perhaps most notably in Making Wishes at Bay View when Callie walks round the lake with Ruby and discovers the secrets from Ruby’s past.

Dusk was approaching so the pics aren’t the best as it wasn’t quite bright enough to pick out the colour but not quite dark enough to pick out the illuminations. But here you go…

Hope you enjoyed your little tour round Whitsborough Bay.

It’s February tomorrow – how did that happen?! Wishing you an amazing second month of the year.

Big hugs
Jessica xx

The one with some really special Christmas gifts

I know I’ve just posted about New Year but I was just scrolling through my photos and realised that I took several for a blog post, then forgot to write a post, so let’s dip back to Christmas for a moment when the lights were twinkling on the tree (ok, they still are), the gifts were looking gorgeous in their wrapping, and the dog was stealing things she shouldn’t have. Oh wait, Ella does that EVERY day, not just at Christmas…

There wasn’t anything the hubby or I particularly wanted this year so we agreed to treat ourselves to a picture we’d fallen in love with on holiday in the summer and get a few bits and bobs. The hope was to get the picture framed and up on the wall for Christmas but, well, you know how it is!

I find it pretty much impossible to think of anything for him beyond the supply of socks he needs every year after putting holes in them throughout the preceding 12 months, a dark chocolate orange, and his annual Landscape Photographer of the Year book but he usually comes up trumps with a few special gifts for me and this year was no exception.

I love the ‘On Air’ sign so watch out for that in my next Facebook Live on publication day of A Wedding at Hedgehog Hollow (6th January). The ‘I’m a Best Selling Author’ colouring book made me laugh. It’s full of positive affirmations about my brilliance ha ha ha! The book has unusual words in it and the fluffy socks are bears. Perfect.

The hedgehogs in the next pic are mittens and they’re so gorgeous and soft. I wore them when we had our wander down to the harbour and they kept me so warm and snug. The munchkin bought me the hedgehog stress ball which I’m sure will be very useful when pondering tricky plot points.

The necklace (shown larger below) is adorable. It’s a hedgehog but its tummy is made from Whitby jet which combines my two worlds of Hedgehog Hollow and Whitsborough Bay in one necklace (as Whitsborough Bay is based on a mix of Scarborough, Whitby and Robin Hood’s Bay). What a gorgeous idea!

The lovely hedgehog notepad above was from my friend Liz (who also sent me some delicious mint chocolates) and there’s a Finding Love at Hedgehog Hollow key ring from one of the fabulous admins, Marie, at The Friendly Book Community Facebook group (who also sent me a large bar of Galaxy – nom nom). I’ll post a bigger pic of that (the key ring, not the Galaxy!) further down as it’s fabulous. It was very unexpected and extremely kind.

Hubby also bought me the latest Westlife CD (I’m a bit old school and enjoy CDs for my favourites) and a lovely starfish necklace and heart one… although I admit I picked those myself when we visited York Christmas Markets.

The face masks were sent in a care package with some tea and coffee from Fiona, one of the lovely admins in Heidi Swain and Friends – A Facebook Book Club – which was very kind of her and the lovely friendship heart hanger is from my good friend, Write Romantic and Boldwood Buddy Jo Bartlett.

My bestie, Sharon Booth, and I always exchange Christmas gifts and she is so much better than me at buying them. This lovely selection were so fabulous that I have to up my game next year as mine for her weren’t anywhere near as good.

I’ve added a larger picture of the wooden shop below. Isn’t it gorgeous? In All You Need is Love, part of the story is centred around a specialist teddy bear shop on Castle Street called Bear With Me. Main character Jemma and her mum make artist bears under the brand name of Ju-Sea Bears for her mum and Ju-Sea Jem bears for the smaller ones Jemma makes. The shop was inspired by my own teddy bear shop called Bear’s Pad and Ju-Sea Bears was the brand I used for the handful of bears I made.

Sharon has been building up a collection of these wooden businesses for a new series she’s working on for release next year and I’ve been admiring the photos on her Insta account but nothing quite beats seeing one up close. They’re amazing. I may need to start a Castle Street collection!

A huge thank you to everyone for these gorgeous gifts. I feel you all know me so well as these are simply perfect.

Tomorrow I will place my first entry in my ‘Happy Jar’ from Sharon. Absolutely love that idea and, as I’m celebrating a very big birthday in 4 months’ time, I hope that I have a lot to celebrate in 2022.

Big hugs
Jessica xx

The one where I have lots of lovely things to celebrate in this troubled world

In a world where so much continues to be confusing and frightening, I’ve been making the most of the happier things that have happened across the past week: adding the finishing touches to the Christmas decorations, a phenomenal semi-final on Strictly, a glowing report from my daughter’s virtual parents’ evening and a lovely day out to a stately home with an author friend.

The past week has brought much to celebrate in my writing too…

REVIEWS MILESTONES

Today, I hit a fabulous milestone for two of my books. Snowflakes Over The Starfish Café passed 1,500 reviews/ratings on Amazon and Christmas at Carly’s Cupcakes hit 2,500.

I’m absolutely delighted! It shouldn’t be long before I’m celebrating Christmas Wishes at the Chocolate Shop hitting 1,000 and Starry Skies Over The Chocolate Pot Café reaching a whopping 3,000. The former will probably get there by the weekend and the latter will hopefully make it by the end of the year.

Isn’t it funny how all four of my seasonal books will hit an exact milestone at around the same time?

DOUBLE TOP 100 SUCCESS

I was absolutely delighted to see Snowflakes Over The Starfish Café and Christmas Wishes at the Chocolate Shop in the Kindle Top 100 in the UK at exactly the same time. They danced around each other a bit at the bottom of the chart with Christmas Wishes passing Starfish Café on one occasion.

Although Christmas Wishes didn’t stick around in the Top 100 for long, it was wonderful to see Charlee’s story there. Starfish Café has done me so proud, hanging around in the Top 100 fairly solidly since mid-November and peaking as high as #56.

There was also some success for Christmas Wishes on the Apple Books chart with a Top 10 position in the Fiction & Literature Chart and Top 100 in the overall chart too.

#BOLDBOOKCLUB

Snowflakes Over The Starfish Café was selected by Boldwood’s reading community as their choice for the very first #BoldBookClub which started with a readalong this week. There’s a book club question posed each day and various competitions and giveaways running so do pop over to Instagram – look for @BookandTonic – to join in.

I’ve been delighted with the buzz and the amazing answers to the book club questions so far. Tonight, there was an Instagram Live where 3 amazing bloggers – Fiona, Meena and Jav – joined me to ask questions and I did a quick reading. You can find the Live here. A huge thank you to Fiona, Meena and Jav for the great questions, to Claire for keeping me right with the technicalities (newbie here!) and to all those who stopped by.

FAVOURITE READS OF 2021

It’s the time of year when book bloggers/reviewers start sharing their favourite reads of the year.

Joanne from Portobello Book Blogs delighted me with the news that All You Need is Love was one of her top reads of the first quarter of the year! Wow! It’s one of my favourite books that I’ve written so this was a particular honour for me. You can find the blog post here. Thank you so very much, Joanne.

Then yesterday I received the amazing news that Claire at Book Lovers Anonymous (find her on Facebook here) had announced her top 5 books of 2021 out of 300 she’s read and A Wedding at Hedgehog Hollow was at #5. It isn’t out until 6th January but Claire, as a blogger, had an advanced copy so it fell into her 2021 reading.

Claire wrote, “fantastic addition to a phenomenal series. I love Samantha and I hope the series never ends”. Awww!

The good news didn’t end there as Snowflakes Over The Starfish Café also featured in her top 5. At number 1!!!!! Eek!!!! I am so thrilled.

Claire wrote, “Another fantastic book by the super talented Jessica Redland [pauses to blush and pinch self]… Honestly, never has a book made me feel so much emotion, and it will be a book I will love forever”. Seriously, I was welling up reading that!

Claire sent me a badge to put on my website so hopefully I’ll remember how to do that and get it added soon but here it is in the meantime. Isn’t it pretty?

Thank you to everyone who has played any part in all these wonderful things. I appreciate it so very much. It’s still hard to believe that this time three years ago, I was at my lowest ever point with my writing and seriously questioning whether to call it a day. Writing is who I am so I knew I could never really let go but it was so hard back then. So to anyone for whom life is tough just now, who’s facing challenges, who’s feeling low, hang on in there as I’m living proof that time can change everything. Stay strong, stay safe, and stay believing in yourself.

Big hugs
Jessica xx

The one where two of my audiobooks are on a Black Friday deal

If you have been anywhere near your emails or social media this week, you will have been bombarded with Black Friday deals. Some are bargains, some not so much. But Boldwood and Audible UK have a definite bargain this week.

Four audiobooks by Boldwood authors are available this week for only £3 each. Two of my titles are included:

  • All You Need Is Love
  • Coming Home to Seashell Cottage (book 4 in the Welcome to Whitsborough Bay series)

And there are two other fabulous Boldwood titles:

  • Life’s a Beach by Portia MacIntosh
  • Prisoner by Ross Greenwood

The offer started on Monday and my two books immediately stormed the Top 100 which was amazing to see. I caught screen shots of Coming Home to Seashell Cottage at #77 and All You Need is Love at #90 although my sales history shows that they made it as high as #70 and #86 respectively on Monday.

I don’t know if the offer ends at midnight on Friday or whether it will continue over the weekend so best grab it before the end of Friday to be sure. Don’t forget, a whopping 6 of my titles are available for FREE as part of the Audible Plus programme. Portia and Ross also have audiobooks in the Audible Plus programmes, as do other Boldwood authors.

Happy Black Friday!

Big hugs
Jessica xx

Celebrating three review milestones in two days

Some authors steer clear of their reviews and I can completely understand why. A negative review can be so hurtful and destructive that it can leave them unable to write for the rest of the day and sometimes even longer. I know that to be true as it’s happened to me.

But not all reviews are negative and it seems a shame not to read the lovely comments shared by readers who’ve loved a story. I feel they’re so special and something to celebrate. I therefore read every single review posted on Amazon, including the negative ones. The latter do still hurt but they are massively outweighed by the positives and I’ve been working hard to keep the negative few in perspective.

This week, I’ve been thrilled to reach review/ratings milestones for three of my books. Woo hoo!

Just under a month ago, I announced in my Facebook readers group that three books were heading for the 1,000 milestone and asked members which they thought would get there first:

New Beginnings at Seaside Blooms at 980

Finding Hope at Lighthouse Cove at 957

All You Need Is Love at 949

As the first two have been out a year longer and the rate of reviews had massively slowed, I did wonder if All You Need Is Love might just race ahead. It came very close but Seaside Blooms pipped it to the post. Just.

I logged on yesterday morning and New Beginnings at Seaside Blooms had hit the 1,000 mark.

And then, this morning, there was a surprise. A book not even previously in the race – The Secret to Happiness – had stormed ahead hitting the bigger target of 2,000!

Not to be outdone, All You Need Is Love also hit the 1,000 mark this morning. I knew the bears could do it!

Finding Lighthouse Cove isn’t far off the target either with 993 reviews/ratings at the time of writing this so hopefully we’ll be celebrating that milestone by the start of next week. Come on Lighthouse Cove. You can do it!

To all those lovely readers who have taken the time to share a review – whether detailed, a couple of sentences, a few words or even just a rating – I am so grateful. I get such a buzz out of reading all the gorgeous comments and it drives me to keep writing and wanting to bring you loads more books.

Please keep sharing the book love for all your favourite authors as you never know when a few kind words might be the lift they need at a time when they’re struggling with edits or deadlines, feeling disillusioned by lower sales or weaker chart positions, have been wounded by a negative comment, and may be questioning whether it’s all worth it. You really can make a difference. No pressure!

Big squidgy grateful hugs to you all
Jessica xx

All You Need is Love is on an Audible offer

Just dropping by quickly to let you know that All You Need is Love is currently on an Audible offer. It’s included in their £3 sale so, if you’re an Audible listener, you can pick it up for a bargain price.

The deal went on yesterday and only lasts a week so will come to a close this coming Saturday (24th July).

This is a standalone story although it features some cameo appearances from a couple of the characters who appear in other Whitsborough Bay books. You don’t need to have read any of the other books to enjoy All You Need is Love.

I was so excited to see it storming into the Top 100 Amazon Audible Chart yesterday at #64! It has dropped a little today but is still Top 100 which is amazing. I don’t think I’ve had anything close to an audio Top 100 before.

It was really lovely to see it as #1 in the Audible Friendship Fiction category and #4 in Contemporary Romance. Look at who’s ahead of me. Wow! Romance royalty!

And if you’re not an Audible listener but would like to read this book, it’s in Prime Reading and Kindle Unlimited so free to subscribers of either of those programmes, and it’s currently only 99p or worldwide equivalent for all eBook formats so a bargain whatever your reading/listening preferences.

Big bear hugs
Jessica xx

When you’ve loved and lost, how do you find the strength to let love in again?

Jemma thinks she’s found the love of her life. Scott is everything she ever dreamed of and she can’t wait to begin the next stage of their life together. But just as she is heading for her happy ever after, a shock revelation shatters Jemma’s life as she knows it. Left to pick up the pieces, Jemma’s friends and family rally round to help her find the courage to move on.

Sam think he has his future all worked out. A thriving career, lovely home and an amazing fiancée. But when tragedy strikes, he finds himself alone, far from everyone he cares about. Did he do the right thing by running away and trying to rebuild the tatters of his life alone?

This is the story of Jemma and Sam. Two lost souls, desperately trying to find closure and happiness. When a chance meeting brings them together a friendship is formed, but the guards are up. 

Will it finally be their turn for a happy ever after? Or will the secrets from their pasts prevent them from moving on?

Escape to Whitsborough Bay for an emotional, uplifting story of love and friendship from top 10 bestseller Jessica Redland. 

This book was previously published as Bear With Me.

The story behind the story of All You Need Is Love

All You Need Is Love was added into Prime Reading at the start of last week so is available as a FREE eBook for those who subscribe. It’s also FREE – along with all my other books – to those in Kindle Unlimited. And if you’re not a Prime reader, you can grab it for only 99p or overseas equivalent on Apple, Kindle, Kobo and Nook so it’s a great time to pick up this book if you haven’t already read it.

Here’s the blurb and then I’ll tell you a bit about the story behind the story:

When you’ve loved and lost, how do you find the strength to let love in again?

Jemma thinks she’s found the love of her life. Scott is everything she ever dreamed of and she can’t wait to begin the next stage of their life together. But just as she is heading for her happy ever after, a shock revelation shatters Jemma’s life as she knows it. Left to pick up the pieces, Jemma’s friends and family rally round to help her find the courage to move on.

Sam think he has his future all worked out. A thriving career, lovely home and an amazing fiancée. But when tragedy strikes, he finds himself alone, far from everyone he cares about. Did he do the right thing by running away and trying to rebuild the tatters of his life alone?

This is the story of Jemma and Sam. Two lost souls, desperately trying to find closure and happiness. When a chance meeting brings them together a friendship is formed, but the guards are up. 

Will it finally be their turn for a happy ever after? Or will the secrets from their pasts prevent them from moving on?

I wrote this book across 2016-17 and originally released it as an indie author in April 2017 under the title Bear With Me. My publishers, Boldwood Books, acquired the rights to all my back catalogue and Bear With Me was taken down from sale last year, given a fresh edit, and re-released as All You Need Is Love in March this year.

As mentioned in previous posts, I’m a pantser rather than a plotter, which means that I typically have an idea for a story and I let it write itself. Therefore a lot of the plot points unfold as I write and often take me by surprise but I always know what the premise and setting will be right from the start.

For All You Need Is Love, the setting was the starting point. I’d always wanted to write a story set in a specialist teddy bear shop because I’m an arctophile – collector/lover of teddy bears – and I used to have my own specialist bear shop so I had direct experience I could draw on.

Me in Bear’s Pad after winning the Best Newcomer Award in 2004

My shop was called Bear’s Pad and was based at the top of a street called Finkle Street in Richmond, North Yorkshire. I set it up from scratch and ran it for two years from May 2003, closing it down because I’d married and moved to Scarborough which was two hours away.

Some days in the shop were amazing with great sales and fabulous conversations with bear-mad customers. Some days were horrendous. Here’s a few examples of some of my more traumatic days:

  • A local woman who used to delight in visiting the independent sole traders in town and telling them their business would fail because all new businesses did. The first time I met her, she spent an hour in the shop telling me this and she made me cry
  • Turning up on several occasions to find that somebody had vomited in my doorway and having to clear that up before opening for the day
  • A woman in with her daughter who asked if I had a toilet the daughter could use. I said no (I wasn’t insured to let the public use my toilet which was out the back by the safe and spare stock) but explained that the public toilets were 2 minutes’ away. Instead of taking her daughter to the toilets, she continued looking round and her poor daughter wet herself on my floor. Which would have been easily cleaned up if I had tiles or wooden flooring but I had carpet tiles. The mother then abandoned the items she was going to buy and stormed out telling me it was my fault for not letting her use my toilet and leaving me to clean up the mess. Needless to say, she never returned to buy the abandoned items
  • A really ‘lovely’ man came in wanting a large plush bear from the top of a cabinet. The shop was busy and I said he could get it down himself, especially as he was taller than me, but he made out he didn’t want to knock anything and could I do it. So I locked the till and helped him. He said he’d go to the ATM, get some money, and be back later. It had all been a distraction. His accomplice (who I hadn’t noticed at all) had tried to empty the till but couldn’t because I’d locked it, but he stole my mobile phone from under the till instead. They’d been working their way round the town targeting the smaller businesses
  • A woman asked if I’d be interested in stocking some pictures she’d painted of teddy bears. They were lovely but I was only willing to do this on sale or return basis as I had no idea if they’d sell. She told me how much she wanted for them and I told her the mark-up I’d need to put on them to ensure the space I gave them earned the same as other products. She was fine with that. Until they didn’t sell and she stormed in one day to collect them, hurling abuse at me about how they’d have sold if I wasn’t such a “greedy cow” for how I’d priced them!
  • Only making £4 of sales one day because it rained non-stop and I only had one customer all day
  • Several shoplifting incidents
  • Mums sending their children to ‘play in the bear shop’ while they went on a sunbed in the tanning salon opposite, leaving me with a random child or two to ‘babysit’ who touched everything, dropped lots of things, and had no money to spend

I could easily have written a book set purely in a bear shop and included these incidents and many more but it wouldn’t have made a story as they’re all anecdotes, although these incidents may well appear in other books as it’s all good material. A story is made up of so much more than a series of bad days so it wasn’t about me replicating my experiences of running my own teddy bear shop.

I was also conscious that not everyone understands the idea of an adult collecting teddy bears and I didn’t want to risk alienating readers so I didn’t want to have the whole story set in a bear shop.

My idea was for a mother and daughter team, Jemma and Julie, who were keen arctophiles and bear artists (makers of teddy bears) but to have the mum owning the shop rather than the daughter, therefore only using the bear shop as a partial setting.

I established Jemma’s mum Julie as the owner/manager specialist teddy bear shop Bear With Me on Castle Street in Whitsborough Bay but positioned Jemma as a curator at a children’s museum in London who, despite living far away, was very close to her mum and younger brother.

I needed a way for Jemma to return to Whitsborough Bay and had an idea to do that on the back of Julie being diagnosed with a life-changing illness. I went back and forth between several conditions but settled on Parkinson’s. My auntie had recently been diagnosed with it and my parents’ next-door neighbour had it and was very willing for me to spend some time quizzing her about all aspects of living with Parkinson’s. The chance to speak to someone directly was invaluable so my decision was made.

What I was really keen to show was not just the impact Parkinson’s could have on the person with it but also on their family. Because the story is told from Jemma’s perspective rather than Julie’s, I’m able to do this.

This story is a dual perspective one. It’s the first book I wrote in this way and the first time I tackled a male perspective too. At the start of the book, Sam’s and Jemma’s lives are unconnected but, as the story progresses, they meet through a mutual friend when Sam, a neurologist, provides Jemma with some advice and expertise in relation to Julie’s diagnosis.

I can’t remember where the idea of the dual perspective came from. I don’t remember making a conscious decision to do this but equally don’t remember starting writing single POV and then changing it to dual. I therefore suspect it was something that just felt right for this story.

As for everything else that happens in All You Need Is Love, that’s completely down to the characters and where their stories took me.

Authors are often asked which their favourite book is that they’ve written and it’s a really difficult question to answer. Quite often, books will be special for different reasons. I don’t have an outright favourite from my backlist but All You Need Is Love is definitely one of my favourites. I love Jemma and her family so much, I love Sam, and I love their story. It’s such a beautiful tale of having loved and lost and trying to find the courage to take the chance of letting love in again.

Because I love this story so much, I do struggle to understand why it has the fewest sales out of all my books. There’ll always be a weaker-performing book but I do wonder why it’s this one. Thankfully those who read it do seem to love it so hopefully being in Prime reading and on a 99p offer will generate more interest.

Under the previous guise of Bear With Me, I did wonder if the teddy bear-themed title and blurb might put off anyone who isn’t interested in teddy bears, but the new version has no mention of bears and it still hasn’t sold as well as my other books. Strange. If you are a reader who doesn’t feel excited by bears, please do give it a try. Any bear-related details are gently fed into the storyline and don’t provide the main focus of the book so please don’t let that deter you from diving in. I have several reviews where readers ay they weren’t bear fans but they now are!

As I write this, I’m thrilled to see the bears climbing back up the charts. The eBook is currently just outside the Top 300 on Amazon at #309. The previous highest was #127 when on a BookBub promotion in April. They’re also Top 50 in the Prime Reading chart and Top 20 in the Romance Prime Reading chart. Go bears go! Do us proud!

Big bear-hugs
Jessica xx

Three amazing offers on my eBooks

A much shorter post today (I promise!) to announce three amazing offers that have just come on this week for my eBooks on all platforms. So whether you’re an Apple, Kindle, Kobo or Nook user, you can bag yourself these bargains.

MAKING WISHES AT BAY VIEW

If you haven’t already read the first book in the ‘Welcome to Whitsborough Bay’ series, now’s your chance to grab it for just 99p in the UK. This is part of Amazon’s ‘first in a series’ promotion for this month only.

Never give up on a wish for a happy ever after…

Callie Derbyshire has it all: her dream job as a carer at Bay View, finally she has found the love of her life. Everything is perfect.

Well, almost.

Ex-partners are insistent on stirring up trouble, and Callie’s favourite resident, Ruby, hasn’t been her usual self. 

But after discovering the truth about Ruby’s lost love, Callie is determined to give Ruby’s romantic story the happy ending it deserves. After all, it’s never too late to let love in again. Or is it?

You can get it on Kindle UK here.

ALL YOU NEED IS LOVE

This book, set in Whitsborough Bay, can be read as a standalone story. There are cameo appearances from a few characters in earlier books but you don’t need to have read those books first to enjoy this story.

I’m delighted to say that All You Need Is Love has just entered the UK’s Prime Reading programme so, if you’re a subscriber, you’ll be able to read it for FREE!

For those not in Prime, it’s on offer too. At the time of writing, it hasn’t quite dipped to the 99p offer on Kindle UK but it should do soon (hopefully overnight) so keep a watch. It is 99p on Apple and Kobo and the prices indicated overseas too.

When you’ve loved and lost, how do you find the strength to let love in again?

Jemma thinks she’s found the love of her life. Scott is everything she ever dreamed of and she can’t wait to begin the next stage of their life together. But just as she is heading for her happy ever after, a shock revelation shatters Jemma’s life as she knows it. Left to pick up the pieces, Jemma’s friends and family rally round to help her find the courage to move on.

Sam think he has his future all worked out. A thriving career, lovely home and an amazing fiancée. But when tragedy strikes, he finds himself alone, far from everyone he cares about. Did he do the right thing by running away and trying to rebuild the tatters of his life alone?

This is the story of Jemma and Sam. Two lost souls, desperately trying to find closure and happiness. When a chance meeting brings them together a friendship is formed, but the guards are up. 

Will it finally be their turn for a happy ever after? Or will the secrets from their pasts prevent them from moving on?

You can get it on Kindle UK here.

FAMILY SECRETS AT HEDGEHOG HOLLOW

The third book in the Hedgehog Hollow series has been reduced for the first time but, unlike All You Need is Love, I would not encourage reading this if you haven’t read the earlier books i.e. the first two in the series.

Although each book does tell a complete story (with a sneaky cliffhanger at the end of books 2 and 3), the books are a proper series following on from each other in the same setting with the same main characters.

There is a ‘story so far’ catch-up at the start and readers have dipped in at book 2 or 3 and caught up through this but have tended to acknowledge that, while they loved the book, they think they’d have loved it even more if they’d started from the beginning. I really do urge readers to do that for a much richer reading experience. You’ll understand the relationships between the characters, the past history, and the motivations.

As book 3 is on offer now, why not grab it and also get the other two? Finding Love at Hedgehog Hollow (book 1) and New Arrivals at Hedgehog Hollow (book 2) are only £1.99 each at the moment so you can get the whole series so far for less than a fiver!

Book 4 – A Wedding at Hedgehog Hollow – is out on 6th January 2022 and available for pre-order now. I’ve just seen a first cover concept and, oh my goodness, it is absolutely stunning! I can’t wait to be able to share it with you soon. I can categorically say right now that it is my favourite so far and that’s only on the basis of a draft cover!

Every family has its secrets, and at Hedgehog Hollow there is no exception…

It was always Samantha’s dream to run her beautiful rescue centre, Hedgehog Hollow, full-time. But just as her wish comes true, she becomes a victim of her own kindness when she finds herself with a house full of guests – all with their own problems and secrets – looking to her for support.

When her self-absorbed cousin, Chloe, unexpectedly turns up at the farm – swiftly handing over her baby to Samantha to care for – trouble is definitely brewing. Especially as Chloe won’t tell anyone why she’s left her husband, James…

As Samantha juggles new hedgehog arrivals, family dramas and her own health challenges, it soon becomes clear that she needs to start putting herself first for once. Little does she know that life-changing secrets from the past are about to unravel and turn their lives upside down…

You can get it on Kindle UK here.

If you’re a Kindle Unlimited subscriber, all my books are available there for free and, if you’re not an eBook user, they’re available as paperbacks, large print editions, some are in hardback (but all will be in due course), physical audio, audio download and on Spotify. So many options!

Big wishes, bear hugs & hedge-hugs
Jessica xx