I’m celebrating a very exciting 1st book birthday today because it’s not just a book that was born but a series. Happy 1 year anniversary to the first book in the Hedgehog Hollow series, Finding Love at Hedgehog Hollow.
I was nervous about the publication of this book on 2nd July last year because, until that point, every book I’d written was set in the fictional North Yorkshire seaside town of Whitsborough Bay. I knew readers loved that setting but it didn’t right for Hedgehog Hollow. I wanted my hedgehog rescue centre to be in a countryside rather than a coastal setting. I only hoped my Whitsborough Bay readers wouldn’t mind the change.
The great news is they didn’t. Phew! In fact, the series has hooked in a huge number of new readers who were drawn in by the hedgehogs. Many of them have then gone on to read the Whitsborough Bay books too which is lovely.
When I first decided to set a book in a hedgehog rescue centre, I imagined it as a standalone story. Silly me. I should have learned by now that I don’t think that way. I nearly always think bigger than a single plotline and manage to introduce a cast of characters, each of whom has their own story to tell and, before I know it, I have a sequel or a series on my hands. Hedgehog Hollow was no different.
In the first book, we meet my heroine Samantha and find out how she came to be the owner of Hedgehog Hollow. The hedgehog rescue centre doesn’t open until the end of the first book so it definitely needed a sequel to see her taking in lots of gorgeous rescue hedgehogs. But it would just be two books. Definitely. Although…
As I wrote book 2, New Arrivals at Hedgehog Hollow, (which came out in January this year) more stories emerged and there was no way I could end it at book two without ever telling them.
Family Secrets at Hedgehog Hollow was published in May this year telling one of those stories but there are plenty more to come. There will definitely be five plus a prequel. There may be six. There could be more! Some characters won’t have a book focusing on them because much of their backstory has come out in other books and I would only ever make a person a focus of a book if I feel that there is a good story to be told and a good story would not be regurgitating what the readers already know. For example, I don’t see Samantha’s mum Debs as a focus because readers already know a lot about her past *pauses as readers cheer because nobody likes Debs*
I wrote the first three books in the series back to back. I also worked on the edits for some of my backlist books in the midst of that, preparing them for re-publication through Boldwood Books. After writing book 3, it was time to take a break from Hedgehog Hollow as Whitsborough Bay was calling. Over the past few months, I’ve been writing Snowflakes Over The Starfish Café which is set just outside Whitsborough Bay. This will be out on 31st August and, true to form, there’s more than one story to tell. It will definitely have a sequel but it may become a trilogy.
It was good to have a break from Hedgehog Hollow but oh so lovely to return to the farm and my friends for book 4. I’m partway through writing A Wedding at Hedgehog Hollow which is out on 6th January 2022 but available for pre-order now.
I get so many messages and comments on social media from readers telling me they can’t bear the wait for book 4 and I need to write faster! This is exceptionally flattering, knowing that readers are clamouring to find out what happens next. That might have something to do with the unexpected cliffhanger I dropped at the end of Family Secrets at Hedgehog Hollow. The thing is, it can take readers a day (or less) to read a book but it takes just a smidge longer than that for an author to write one so I’m afraid there has to be a bit of a wait between books. Really sorry to those who are waiting patiently … or not so patiently! Don’t they say that all good things come to those who wait?
I love this series so much. I can vividly picture myself at the farm, sitting on Thomas’s bench, looking out over the wildflower meadow sowed by Thomas and Gwendoline with the farm cat Misty Blue draped across my knee. Every time I write a scene there, I can almost smell the flowers, hear the buzz of bees, feel the gentle breeze kissing my cheeks. It’s so tranquil. I keep telling my husband that I want to live in the real Hedgehog Hollow. Need a Netflix deal before that would ever be financially possible!
I’m so exceptionally proud of how well those hedgehogs have done in finding a place in readers’ hearts. The three books so far have sold over 120,000 units combined (i.e. a copy in any format) in the space of only a year and Finding Love at Hedgehog Hollow is on its way to being the first of my individual books to join Boldwood’s 100k Club and will hopefully be there in the next few months. Go hedgehogs go!
The hedgehogs have scampered into the UK Kindle Top 100 for all three books, with Finding Love at Hedgehog Hollow peaking at #31 and they’ve had some impressive positions on the Apple Chart with an amazing #2 for New Arrivals, Top 10 in Australia and New Zealand and Top 100 in the USA. The latter is especially impressive when there are no wild hedgehogs in the USA! Family Secrets also stormed the Apple chart with #5 in the UK and Top 200 in the USA.
But the thing I am most proud of is the reviews they’ve gathered and it is so fitting on the book birthday of the series that I am close to celebrating another milestone. Family Secrets at Hedgehog Hollow is just 15 shy of received 2000 ratings/reviews on Amazon and it hasn’t even been out for two months yet (released on 4th May). Hopefully it will even hit that milestone by the two-month anniversary.
I’ve never experienced anything like this. At the time of writing this, Finding Love at Hedgehog Hollow (book 1) has 2,291 reviews and New Arrivals at Hedgehog Hollow has 2,724 with a 4.7/4.6/4.7 average rating across them. Wow! The love is definitely there for the hedgehogs.
So as the hedgehogs and I party and celebrate one year of this new series, we would like to thank everyone who has made all of these achievements possible. In no particular order as everyone is extremely important in this list:
Readers and listeners without whom I wouldn’t be able to keep doing this. You are absolutely amazing
Bloggers and reviewers who have been on the blog tours or independently shared their kind words about the series
The gorgeous community on Redland’s Readers, my Facebook group for those who love my stories. You can join Redland’s Readers here if you’re a fan and want to immerse yourself in the worlds of Whitsborough Bay and Hedgehog Hollow
The team at Boldwood Books, particularly my amazing editor Nia for her insightful feedback and her encouragement
The authors at #TeamBoldwood for their support
Emma Swan, James Dryden and Lucy Browhill for their amazing narration and ISIS Audio and Ulverscroft for the production and distribution of the audio versions
My tribe – the wonderful Write Romantics and the other talented authors out there who champion my work
My mum who is my number 1 fan and an absolute star
My Auntie Gwen, a hedgehog rescuer, for providing the inspiration in the first place
All the amazing rescue centres whether large scale or small around the country for the incredible work you do in helping protect these gorgeous creatures
If you haven’t already dived into the world of Hedgehog Hollow, the hedgehogs are waiting to welcome you. You can buy in a stack of formats – eBook for Apple, Kindle, Kobo, Nook, paperback, hardback (only book 2 and 3 at the moment), large print, audio and streaming via Spotify. And if you’re still not sure, here’s a couple of quotes from reviews, including ones from the audio version…
It is bucketing it down with rain where I am now but I have a lovely offer to brighten the day up.
Finding Love at Hedgehog Hollow – the first book in the Hedgehog Hollow series – is on a special offer on AppleBooks at the moment in the following territories:
In the UK, it’s the ‘Free book of the week’. There isn’t an equivalent offer in the other territories but it is part of their ‘Romance of the Week’ FREE promotion! Woo hoo!
So, if you are an Apple user and live in any of those territories, here’s a great opportunity to start at the beginning with this series for FREE!
The offer started on Monday afternoon (24th May) UK-time and runs for a week so, at some point on Sunday/Monday (30th/31st May), depending on your time zone, it will end so do act fast.
The second book in the series – New Arrivals at Hedgehog Hollow – is also available at a reduced price on Apple:
Australia – $1.99
Canada – $1.99
UK – 99p
USA – $0.99
And you could always consider picking up the third too – Family Secrets at Hedgehog Hollow – to complete the set so far (book 4 is out in January 2022).
I’m delighted to say that Finding Love at Hedgehog Hollow is already #1 in the FREE UK chart, Top 30 in Australia, Top 50 in USA, and Top 100 in Canada so thank you for all the readers who’ve taken advantage of the offer so far.
The hedgehogs are waiting to welcome you to the farm…
Can love really be found when you stop looking for it…?
As Samantha Wishaw watches the love of her life marry another woman, she’s ready to give up hope of finding her happy ever after.
But when a chance encounter leads Sam to find friendship in Thomas – a lonely, grumpy elderly widower living at derelict Hedgehog Hollow – her life is about to change forever.
Glad to have a distraction from family feuds and match-making, Sam vows to fulfil Thomas and his wife, Gwendoline’s, dreams of restoring Hedgehog Hollow to its former glory, and to open a hedgehog rescue centre.
Throwing herself into the task at hand, little does Sam realise that the keys to love and happiness may also be found at Hedgehog Hollow, when she least expects it…
Escape to Hedgehog Hollow this summer with top 10 bestseller Jessica Redland for the perfect uplifting, feel-good read.
So, it’s finally arrived. The end of 2020. The year many people have wanted to “do one” for a long time.
It’s probably not a bold statement to say that it’s the strangest year that most of us will ever have experienced and, pretty please, can it be the last time we do?
But while this may be a completely bonkers surreal year that many will want to push to the back of their minds filed under ‘grim’, 2020 has been an amazing year for me professionally, seeing so many dreams come true. So, while there are many reasons why I want to send 2020 to the naughty step, I want to high-five it too.
This is a rundown, quarter by quarter, of what 2020 has looked like for me personally and professionally, presented in order of occurrence. When I originally wrote it, it was nearly a novel in itself so I have massively cut it down to highs and lows. Even so, it’s still long as so much has happened professionally this year. I honestly don’t know if anyone other than my mum or hubby will read it all but thank you if you do! xx
JANUARY to MARCH 2020
Happy New Year and the start of a new decade. How exciting! I eagerly anticipated the year ahead with a whopping seven Boldwood releases made up of six of my back catalogue and one new novel, and I hoped this would be the year I could leave my day job as an HR Tutor and write full-time.
Little did we know that reports of a flu-like illness in China were going to change our lives beyond all recognition.
Release of the entire re-edited ‘Welcome to Whitsborough Bay’ series:
Making Wishes at Bay View (14th Jan)
New Beginnings at Seaside Blooms (20th Feb)
Finding Hope at Lighthouse Cove (20th Feb)
Coming Home to Seashell Cottage (12th Mar)
Seaside Blooms broke into the UK Kindle Top 1,000 on 19th March and kept climbing
Making Wishes at Bay View was selected as Apple’s free book of the week (9th – 15th March) propelling it to the top of the free Apple Books chart
A massive knock-on effect on the rest of the series with a #3 for New Beginnings at Seaside Blooms, #13 for Finding Hope at Lighthouse Cove and #24 for Coming Home to Seashell Cottage. They all made it into the Top 5 on the Romance category occupying positions #2, #3 and #5 at one point
Celebrating hubby’s 50th birthday with a meal with his parents just before going into a national lockdown
Normality for almost three months, regularly meeting up with Sharon Booth (great friend and super talented author) and attending the RNA’s Beverley Chapter meeting
Saying goodbye in January to our beloved cat, Felix. After nearly 14 years with us, I was – and still am – heartbroken to have lost him
The munchkin, age 13, experienced a scary bullying incident on the bus home from school, so serious we needed to involve the police who classified it as an assault
Lockdown. I don’t think I need to expand on that! Although munchkin’s grumbles at being made to do the Joe Wicks PE session every weekday morning provided us with great amusement!
APRIL to JUNE 2020
This quarter started with a second month of panic-buying where household staples like toilet roll, pasta, cans of soup and flour were like gold dust. Hand sanitiser, paracetamol and disinfectant were also in short supply.
Zoom – something I personally had never even heard of until this year – became a life-saver for keeping in touch, as did social media (although you had to be careful not to be sucked down the rabbit hole of scary statistics and conspiracy theories!)
I’m going to swap it around for this month and start with the lows because they directly led to the highs in this quarter. I will just remind you that these are presented in order of occurrence rather than severity.
An unprecedented increase in work volumes as students took advantage of lockdown to race through their assignments. Enrolments of new students soared through the roof and, whilst financially amazing, the stress levels in trying to keep up were extraordinary. All without support or thanks from our manager
I couldn’t face celebrating my birthday and chose to largely ignore it
My older brother turned 50 and couldn’t have the celebrations planned with his friends or family – a common story for so many this year
Cancellation of two theatre trips – a day trip to Leeds to see Sister Act and a weekend away to see Six
Family holiday to Portugal over May half-term cancelled
The unexpected and sudden loss of our brother-in-law, aged only 50. RIP, Richard, with love xx
Resigning from the day job and becoming a full-time writer from 8th June. It had always been my dream to be able to earn enough to be able to write full-time and it had finally happened. The increased income would give me a buffer while my writing royalties (hopefully) increased from my new releases
Apple asked if they could repeat the UK promotion in the USA. Making Wishes at Bay View made it to #16 in the free chart and the series sold well on the back of this
Amazon selected New Beginnings at Seaside Blooms for a Prime deal. It was already inside the Top 100 by then but it peaked at #14 on 17th May thanks to being in Prime
People were turning to books for escapism, comfort and boredom relief. Uplifting stories of love and friendship – exactly what I write – fit the bill perfectly and this was reflected in my sales
Receiving messages from readers who’d binge read my Boldwood releases and the rest of my indie back catalogue and wanted to thank me for giving them such an uplift and welcome escape. Wow! I certainly hadn’t been expecting that
During the summer, Making Wishes at Bay View made it to #144, Finding Hope at Lighthouse Cove to #145 and Coming Home to Seashell Cottage to #165. I’d never experienced chart positions like this. I’d barely hoped to dream of them and kept waiting for someone to pinch me and tell me it was a dream
How proud the munchkin made us. She moaned about Joe Wicks but not about studying and, with only a few nudges to ask her teachers for more work when she’d run out, she showed amazing maturity, never once moaning about being in lockdown and missing her friends
JULY to SEPTEMBER 2020
Restrictions had lifted in the UK but I pretty much remained a hermit. It’s not so much that I was afraid to go out but more that there seemed no point taking the risk. Being substantially overweight I am in a higher risk category and, with so many holiday-makers flocking to the coast, I felt my local town and beach were no-go areas. I managed a few local walks with the dog, hubby and munchkin – and even did an evening walk along the main seafront before the holidays hit – but that was about it. And my bottom has just expanded and expanded as a result!
The first book in a series set in a hedgehog rescue centre – Finding Love at Hedgehog Hollow – was released on 2ndJuly. I was a little bit nervous about it as it was a new setting for me but the hedgehogs captured the hearts of readers
An impressive number of pre-orders meant an astonishing UK Kindle chart position of #291 on publication day, peaking at #86 in mid-August. My second Top 100 book. Yay! It made it to #40 in Canada and #11 in Australia
The Secret to Happiness appeared in branches of The Works. I chatted to the staff and took photos but I never thought to ask if they’d like me to sign copies. Muppet. Missed opportunity!
Boldwood celebrated one year since their first release. What an amazing first year of trading they’d had. We were invited to a summer moment on Zoom to celebrate which was pretty special
Release of the re-edited Christmas at Carly’s Cupcakes (13th Aug). Initially it was free and reached #8 in the free UK Kindle chart, #43 in Australia, #20 in Canada and #15 in the USA
Release of the re-edited Starry Skies Over The Chocolate Pot Café. An impressive number of pre-orders saw an amazing release day chart position of #204
Met my parents outdoors on a couple of occasions
Sharon and I also managed one meeting but not for as long as usual. It was brilliant to be able to meet in person but the time went far too quickly
The munchkin returned to school and started three years of study towards her GCSEs. One of the bus bullies apologised (I think lockdown gave her plenty of thinking time), a truce has been reached and there’ve thankfully been no further incidents
Hubby and I celebrated our 15th wedding anniversary with a mid-week visit to Thorp Perrow Arboretum. It was a gorgeous day and there were very few people around so it was the perfect place to go. And, being only a short drive away from my parents, we stopped off at theirs for a socially distanced cuppa before coming home
The Works stocked another book – Making Wishes at Bay View – and this time I signed them. Proud author moment!
I was astonished and thrilled to be offered another contract with Boldwood for a whopping 12 brand new books. I nearly fell off my chair! The first book in that contract will be a brand new Christmas story in September 2021. Before that, there’ll be four more books released in January, March, May and August to see out the original contract: books 2 and 3 in the Hedgehog Hollow series (January/May) and the remaining two in my back catalogue (March/August)
After only a week back at school, unable to see properly with her mask on, the munchkin tripped over a raised drain cover, went splat, landed awkwardly and broke her arm. Cue scary dash up to school and a trip to A&E to get a pot put on
She later fell down the stairs at school, also struggling to see properly in her mask, and made a right mess of both of her shins, scraping the skin off and badly bruising them both. The good news was she didn’t break her arm again!
The increased attention on me and my books massively exacerbated my imposter syndrome and I struggled to feel worthy of the amazing things happening to me. Writing a week-long series of posts about what this meant and how it manifested itself did me the world of good and I have been able to continue to make great inroads in quietening my ‘you’re not good enough’ demons since then, although I don’t think they’ll ever completely disappear and I’ve still had the occasional moment
OCTOBER to DECEMBER 2020
Now with the country in tiers, each tier dictating a specific set of rules, it seemed there was no end in sight. Another lockdown. Then came a ray of hope: a vaccination had been approved and would be rolled out imminently. Hurrah!
As Christmas approached, with a new strain of the virus spreading at an alarming rate, Christmas plans changed for many.
All ten books sported an orange Amazon #1 Best Seller tag at the same time. TEN! Wow! What a special moment that was! (13th Oct)
A socially distanced Hallowe’en BBQ at my parents’ house. A BBQ in late October in this country was certainly a first but a big brolly kept the rain off and the patio heater worked its magic!
The Works wanted another of my books and squeezed in an order of Finding Love at Hedgehog Hollow. I managed to see it in my local branch – and sign the copies as well as another batch of Making Wishes at Bay View – before going into the second lockdown
Christmas at Carly’s Cupcakes – no longer available for free – became my third book to get inside the Top 100, reaching #93 on 1st November. It only stayed inside the Top 100 for two days but that doesn’t matter. It still made it which, considering how many thousands of free copies it shifted, I wasn’t expecting
Starry Skies Over The Chocolate Pot Café broke the Top 100 too, peaking at #24 in the UK, #11 in Canada and an astonishing #3 in Australia. Woo hoo! With the exception of one day, it stuck around in the Top 100 right until Christmas Eve. I was a bit gutted it didn’t stay in the Top 100 for Christmas but over a month in the Top 100 wasn’t too shabby!
Christmas at Carly’s Cupcakes achieved 1,000 reviews/ratings (16th Nov). At the start of the year, none of my books had more than 100 reviews. Today, it has hit 1,600. Still can’t quite believe it!
The Secret to Happiness went on a USA BookBub deal – the only of my books to have done this – and it got to #32 in the USA in mid-November. That market is enormous and I certainly never expected that!
Guest speaker slots on a Facebook Live with Kim The Bookworm and with Exeter Libraries
Part of a Boldwood Christmas books panel on My VLF (My Virtual Literature Festival) which was great fun
Interviewed by a reader, Liz Clifton, about confidence and motivation
Guest on Julie Morris’s blog – A Little Bookish Problem – twice
The Welcome to Whitsborough Bay series continued to perform well and, in mid-December, all of them passed 500 reviews/ratings on Amazon
Cancellation of my graduation ceremony after achieving my Masters in Creative Writing through Open University in late 2019
Cancellation of our October half-term holiday to Lancaster (to give us access to Blackpool and the Lake District) as Lancaster was in tier 3 so we (in tier 2 at the time) couldn’t travel there
Not able to see my side of the family over Christmas or my husband’s sisters
The tragic news that my second cousin died just before Christmas. Aged only 42, my heart is broken for his mum (my cousin) and her family and for another lovely man taken far too soon. RIP, Gary, with love xx
AND TO CLOSE…
Whether you’ve read the Dickens classic A Tale of Two Cities or not, you probably know the beginning: “It was the best of times, it was the worst of times…” And that pretty much sums up my 2020.
For the best of times, I have achieved my dream of writing full-time, I am fortunate enough to work with the most incredible publisher with a wonderful team who support and respect all their authors as well as making us all feel equally important. Through Boldwood, I’ve had four books inside the Kindle UK Top 100 and Apple Top 100 this year, a Top 3 in Australia and Top 40 in the USA. All of my books have sported bestseller tags at the same time. Every book Boldwood has released has passed 500 reviews/ratings with one exceeding 1,600 and another marching towards 1,000. Quite honestly, it has been phenomenal.
But for the worst of times, I’ve lost my brother in law, a second cousin, and our gorgeous cat, and my daughter was assaulted. The disappointment of birthdays, holidays, theatre trips, weekends away and a graduation ceremony all cancelled pales into insignificance when faced with such loss and sadness.
I haven’t seen my brothers or their families since last Christmas although we did a regular family Zoom across the first lockdown. Hubby and I have never had much of a social life – we’re home bunnies and only have a few friends in the area – but we do miss being able to meet up with the small number of people we know and, as writing tends to be a lonely business, I’ve really missed my fortnightly meet-ups with Sharon.
I send my love and best wishes to my family affected by loss, and to anyone else for whom this year has been particularly tough whether that be through illness, bereavement, employment (or lack of it), finances, loneliness or any of the many other challenges that may have been faced.
My eternal gratitude goes to Boldwood Books and, in particular my editor, Nia, for making my dreams come true and being such a joy to work with. And thanks to my fellow Boldwood authors for all the support you’ve given and any reviews/promotions of my work.
Thank you to all the book bloggers/reviewers who’ve been so kind this year and to Rachel Gilbey for organising my blog tours.
I can’t thank enough all the amazing readers who’ve bought, borrowed, downloaded, and/or streamed any or all of my books. Thank you for choosing to take a journey to Whitsborough Bay and/or Hedgehog Hollow and for all the lovely messages on social media. You give me the encouragement to keep making stuff up!
To Sharon and my fellow-Write Romantic family, you’re my writing rocks and I couldn’t imagine how I’d have navigated my way through the troubled world of publishing without you all. It’s been lovely having such good virtual friends supporting each other in this difficult year. And to the Beverley chapter, I’ve loved our catch-ups.
Thank you to new writing friends I’ve made this year – Sam Tonge, Vicky Walters, Kim Nash and many others who’ve supported or promoted my work and whose books I’ve enjoyed reading. I hope we can meet in person next year.
And finally, to my biggest fan – my mum – my amazing husband and our wonderful daughter, thank you for all your excitement and encouragement. It really does keep me going. I know my dad is also super proud so thank you daddy bear too.
For anyone out there with a dream, chase it. Because dreams really do come true and I’m living, breathing proof of that.
When I finish writing a book, I love typing ‘The End’. Despite all the amazing things that have happened for me this year, I am relieved to stamp ‘The End’ on 2020 and look ahead to exciting writing achievements and some sort of normality in 2021.
Yesterday started with disappointing but very expected news. Our family holiday to Portugal over May half term was officially cancelled. But the day ended with two bits of excellent news. Firstly, the UK’s Prime Minister, Boris Johnson, came out of intensive care which is wonderful news and also a beacon of hope to show that people do recover from this horrific virus. That doesn’t mean it’s okay to invade parks, beaches, villages and beauty spots this bank holiday weekend, though, people. Stay safe. Stay at home!
Secondly, something really exciting happened for my ‘Welcome to Whitsborough Bay’ series of books. During the week, three of them had gained the little orange Bestseller tags over on Amazon but the final book in the series, Coming Home to Seashell Cottage, did me proud and obtained its own little flag meaning all books in the series became Bestsellers at the same time. Woo hoo! And another two of my books – Bear With Me and Christmas at the Chocolate Pot Cafe – also had orange tags bringing that up to six bestsellers at one time. Such a dream come true.
And they’re not in random categories either – all of the categories do have a direct link to a key theme in the book e.g. Making Wishes at Bay View is set in a care home and is about family relationships across generations so ‘aging’ and ‘aging parents’ [USA spelling on Amazon] is the category. New Beginnings at Seaside Blooms is set in a florists so ‘floral crafts’ is appropriate.
All four books have broken through the Top 1000 on Amazon at some point this week with New Beginnings at Seaside Blooms reaching #352 this morning which was a lovely Easter gift. Better than chocolate any day. Or is it? Mmm. Chocolate…. Is it too early to crack my Easter egg open?
I know there are many people around the world who are understandably struggling right now and many have turned to books for comfort and escapism. It’s been so heartwarming to receive messages and reviews to say that the stories I’ve created have helped readers through lockdown. When I wrote the series, I always hoped that readers would find the stories uplifting but I never, ever dreamed it would be in an unprecedented scenario like this. When the world needs warmth and comfort, I feel so honoured to play a very small part in that.
If you would like to take a trip to the stunning North Yorkshire Coast this weekend, then please do it through the written or spoken word. You can visit the world of Whitsborough Bay on Kindle, Kindle Unlimited and audio formats here. Some of the eBooks are 99p just now and they are, of course, free if you’re in KU.
You can find me on Apple and Kobo too. Apple are running an Easter promotion on The Secret to Happiness for 99p and Kobo are featuring the first two books in the series in their Easter sale. If you have access to the uLibrary App through your library, The Secret to Happiness is available on there.
Finally, if you are or know someone who is a hero right now, whether in the NHS or other key worker roles, then my amazing publisher, Boldwood Books, are running an offer over on Twitter to gift a book by me or any of their other fabulous authors to a #NHShero or #Localhero. You need to DM Boldwood on Twitter by midnight tonight (10th April 2020). Don’t worry if you miss tonight’s deadline as it will be running weekly and there’ll be other amazing offers to thank all those amazing heroes for what they’re doing. You can follow Boldwood on @BoldwoodBooks
Wishing you all the best, with love and virtual hugs
Have you ever achieved something that wasn’t even a goal of yours because it seemed so out of reach that having it as a goal would have been too unachievable? I’ve done that this month and it’s been the gift that keeps on giving.
For week commencing 9th March, book 1 in my ‘Welcome to Whitsborough Bay’ series, Making Wishes at Bay View, was the AppleBooks Free Book of the Week. This meant that it appeared on a scrolling banner on the AppleBooks home page and immediately topped the free book chart. Exciting!
What was more exciting was the impact this had on the rest of the series. Books 2 and 3, New Beginnings at Seaside Blooms and Finding Hope at Lighthouse Cove were placed on a 99p promotion on AppleBooks and, on the Thursday of that week, the final instalment, Coming Home to Seashell Cottage, was released for £1.99. So a reader could buy the entire 4-book series for less than £4. Super duper bargain!
All books on Amazon show the chart position for the whole chart and the specific category charts. On AppleBooks, you can only see your chart position when you enter the top 200. I eagerly watched the chart, hoping the rest of the series might break the top 200 and was so excited when they did. But across the course of the week, they gradually crept up that chart and did things I never dreamed they’d do.
I was beside myself with excitement when New Beginnings at Seaside Blooms made it inside the Top 10 in the Romance Chart and reached number 37 in the overall chart by the Friday of that first week. But it didn’t stop there…
Last week saw books 2-4 all reach the Top 10 on the Romance chart … and then the Top 5! Wow! New Beginnings at Seaside Blooms peaked at #2, Finding Hope at Lighthouse Cove reached #3 and Coming Home to Seashell Cottage made it to #5.
But they weren’t finished there. I couldn’t believe it when my editor emailed to say that New Beginnings at Seaside Blooms had made it to #6 on the overall chart i.e. all categories joined together. Then it crept up to #5. Then #4. At the time of writing, it’s still at #4 although that does change from day to day. Finding Hope at Lighthouse Cove made it as high as #13 just today and Coming Home to Seashell Cottage made it to its highest overall chart position of #24.
You can click onto ‘Top Authors’ in the AppleBookstore and I actually appear on there. But look who I appear alongside! Oh. My. God!!!! Never in my wildest dreams would I have imagined this.
Apple don’t hold anywhere near the share of the marked that Amazon have with Kindle but it’s a growing market and I am beyond thrilled that my series is right at the top of the charts just behind or ahead of huge household names like James Patterson, Dean Koontz and Hilary Mantel, including some of my absolute favourite authors – Paige Toon and Lisa Jewell. Feels like some sort of surreal dream to see one of my books right next to Lisa’s when I’ve been a huge fan of her writing for years.
And it doesn’t even end there. Despite thousands of readers downloading Making Wishes at Bay View, it has still charted, making it to #131 at the highest so far in the whole chart. And my first Boldwood release, The Secret to Happiness, has also charted again with #160 in the overall chart and as high as #30 in the Romance chart. Eek!
So, in the last few weeks, dreams that weren’t even dreams for me have been achieved and, in these strange and troubled times, I’m so grateful to my amazing publishers, Boldwood Books, who gave me this opportunity to stand out. This gift that keeps on giving has been such an amazing tonic, making me smile instead of cry, and I hope that these books have brought some comfort to those needing and welcoming an escape.
Will they ever make it to the #1 slot. I don’t think they will. You’d probably hear me screaming if they did! Thank you everyone who has made this possible.
Sending much love to you and your families to stay safe.
I’m sure I’m not alone in saying that, every so often, a headline appears on Yahoo!’s home page that intrigues me and that, instead of doing what I’m meant to be doing (writing!), I click through to it. Come on, you know you do it … that’s why advertisers pay a fortune to appear on these links. Sometimes I’m glad I did as I read something genuinely funny or interesting but, more often than not, it’s a waste of my time.
About a week ago I was particularly intrigued by was this one:
I studied marketing at university and, although I’ve never followed a career in marketing (I went down the HR route instead), I’ve always been fascinated by adverts and product placement. I confess I have neither read nor seen The Secret Life of Walter Mitty but I’m now curious to do so simply because of the apparent randomness of product placement. Over the years, this is something I’ve noticed become more and more blatant in films and TV programmes and it’s quite often laughable. I imagine Coca Cola and PepsiCo have quite brutal fights over the right to have the stars drink their brand of pop when, truth be told, it wouldn’t make a jot of difference to me as I’d pick the one that I like the taste of best (Diet Pepsi in case you’re curious). However, it clearly makes a difference to those who are perhaps slightly more influenced by these things. Or they wouldn’t bother.
A couple of favourite examples of product placement are two films that blatantly satire it: Wayne’s World and The Truman Show. Two very different films but love them both … and their approach to advertising!
So what does this have to do with writing? Quite a lot actually. It’s only a matter of time before the massive reach of books is exploited by advertisers. There are examples out there already but nothing on as grand a scale as TV and films but how long will this last?
In my debut novel, Searching for Steven, my protagonist has two cats. Good friends of mine had two cats who they’d named Caffrey and Guinness. As our student days weren’t long behind us and we were very fond of Irish ales, this seemed a great pair of names. Inspired by this idea, I named Sarah’s cats Cadbury and Buttons. I love chocolate so why not? But then I started work as a Recruitment Manager for Nestle and it seemed very wrong to be promoting the competition so I changed the names to Kit and Kat which I thought was genius on another level (small things amuse me!) I also thought it would be a great little story when (if) I got my publishing deal and I could maybe try and wangle some sponsorship out of my employer in the meantime. It wasn’t to be. I never got the book finished while still working for them! When I left Nestle four-and-a-half years later, I decided to change the names again. But I couldn’t do it. I’d lived with Kit and Kat for so long and the poor little things didn’t deserve another identity crisis.
Last weekend, I went away to a lovely lodge overlooking a lake and asked my husband to take some photos of me writing on the balcony to use on this blog. His twin sisters were with us and they decided that the pictures should include a little bit of product placement. Except it wasn’t a little bit. They dragged every branded item they could find out of the cupboards. What do you think?
Hmmm. Even The Truman Show would be proud of that one!!!
Personally I prefer the slightly more under-stated Apple product placement …
Plus it’s a far more flattering shot of me. Not that I’m vain. But that first one is pretty grim and a reminder that I really need to get the diet back under control. I will just point out that I didn’t then go on to trough the Flake, Walker’s Crisps, box of Thorntons etc. Well, not all in one go anyway!
Over to you. What do you think of product placement in books? Have you come across it in any books you’ve read? Have you done it in yours? Would love to hear more