The one where I turned fifty

It was my birthday yesterday (1st May) and I hit the half-century which doesn’t feel real because I still don’t feel any older than I did at thirty, although my body would beg to differ. I try to avoid sitting on the floor these days as it’s touch and go as to whether I can get up again!

I don’t normally go big for birthdays and I’m not one for big nights out drinking but specifically wanted to celebrate turning fifty, especially when so many people I know (my husband and older brother included) were unable to celebrate big occasions during lockdown.

With going away to the Lake District for a fortnight over Easter, we didn’t want to venture very far. We have two Forest Holidays sites near us called Cropton and Keldy – both just 45 minutes drive away – and we’ve been to them both in the past when our daughter was young and we could stay out of season (cheaper!) Even though a bank holiday weekend was going to be pricey, we decided to go for it with it being a special occasion.

Look what I found in the gift shop in the reception! I had to have him! His name’s Bramble and he is soooo adorable.

The great thing about going on holiday somewhere so local is getting there quickly and being able to enjoy your evening rather than spending it travelling. We were there as soon as check-in started and we had a little wander round the site before having a relaxing evening in our log cabin with food delivered from the on-site restaurant.

Saturday morning – the day before my birthday – dawned with beautiful blue skies and sunshine. We decided to go for a walk round nearby village Thornton-le-Dale then visit Pickering, get some lunch, and take it up to the castle.

I’ll admit it does feel a little weird being on ‘holiday’ and visiting places that we regularly visit anyway but the point was to get away and have a relaxing time. If we’d stayed at home, I might have taken my birthday off but I’d have worked for the rest of the weekend.

Thornton-le-Dale is such a picturesque village and it was gorgeous to see ducklings on the river and the pond. So cute. There are some stunning houses and I always joke they’d be where an author would live as the views are inspiring. I doubt they come on the market very often and, if they did, they’d be way out of our price bracket but it’s nice to have dreams.

We’ve not visited Pickering Castle as a family before so it was great to explore the ruins and the grounds and generally enjoy the sunshine. Pickering Castle is an English Heritage site and you can find out more about it here. It’s a lovely place to visit and the views are fabulous.

We returned to the cabin with time for a Cornish cream tea which my fabulous friend and super talented author, Sharon Booth, sent me, followed by a sneaky glass of wine in the hot tub before getting ready to go out for a birthday tea.

On the evening, we met my parents at a nearby pub. They’d brought their caravan to a site in the area so they could see me for my birthday. The person who’d taken the booking over Facebook Messenger hadn’t written it down which was a bit fraught as they were full but they made space for us, thank goodness.

I won’t name the pub as these things happen and so much of the hospitality industry is struggling with lack of staff but it was a lesson learned for me never to make a booking for any pub via Messenger in future. I only did it that way because it was out of hours but I’ll wait and do it via the phone when the pub is open going forwards!

The following day – my actual birthday – it was pouring when we woke up and it put a real dampener on things (literally). It had been such a gorgeous day before and the thought of traipsing through the forest in the rain didn’t appeal.

We decided to take a trip to the market town of Malton but hadn’t paused to think about whether the shops would be open on a Sunday. Most weren’t. So we had a walk round (mainly closed) Malton although the good news was it had stopped raining and I gazed longingly in the gift shop windows.

I wanted some cakey loveliness and had been hoping to find some in a nice independent bakery but there were none open. We nipped into a farm shop and a garden centre on the way back to the cabin but it was mission unsuccessful. Hubby, bless him, did a detour via the high street in Pickering so we could nip into the cafe/bakery where we’d bought lunch the day before – Russell’s Cafe & Traditional Bakery. They had a window full of the most delicious-looking slices of cake. They were on a deal where it was cheaper to buy three but the munchkin wanted something not in the offer so, after asking for hubby’s, I had to pick two for me. It would have been very wrong not to! And, oh my goodness, they were delicious. If you go to Pickering, definitely visit Russell’s. The sandwiches for lunchtime the day before were delicious too.

We returned to the cabin and decided that, as it was dull, we’d relax and watch a film but we couldn’t find anything we particularly fancied. We went for the recent re-make of The Secret Garden starring Colin Firth and Julie Walters but it’s a slow story and I was getting fidgety. I will watch the end but we put it off and went for a walk along one of the forest trails instead although I was a bit full after my double-cake indulgence and could probably have been rolled round the trail.

The munchkin and I had time for another dip in the hot tub, this time with some champagne (for me) before Mum and Dad came over to the cabin on the evening to look around and join us for a birthday tea. They brought a balloon and cake with them which was lovely.

We had planned to do something today (bank holiday Monday) but it was another dull day and we decided that, as we still hadn’t settled back in after our Easter trip, it would make more sense to get back home and get organised. I only have a couple of weeks left to write my final Hedgehog Hollow book and I’m only a fifth of the way through it so I have a lot to do. Catching up today (or trying to) means I can be head down from tomorrow. Or at least that’s the plan!

I couldn’t really think of anything I wanted for my birthday but my Kindle is on the way out so I got a new Paperwhite and hubby and daughter surprised me with a lovely new watch. From my parents and brothers, I got some money to buy a teddy bear but instead treated myself to a limited edition Herdy while I was in the Lakes. It’s made by Merrythought who are a longstanding UK-based teddy bear manufacturer (so nearly a bear!) and I’m completely in love with him.

A huge thank you to everyone who sent cards, gifts, flowers and best wishes, helping to make my fiftieth a special day.

Hope you’ve had a lovely bank holiday weekend and, if you’ve worked it, hope you get a break soon.

On a final note, even though it’s my birthday, I’m giving away some gifts. The wonderful The Friendly Book Community over on Facebook have been celebrating their first birthday with some amazing giveaways across the week donated by the lovely Admin team and some of the authors. If you haven’t already joined this group and you love books, you might want to do so, as it’s a warm and friendly space to be. And then you can be in with a chance to win one of my bundles. There are 4 for UK-based readers and 1 for overseas readers. You can find the group here and you have until Friday to be in for a chance of winning on my giveaways.

Big birthday hugs
Jessica xx

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 I thank everyone for the amazing Spring Tides Blog Tour

Spring Tides at The Starfish Café – the second book in The Starfish Café series – was released on 5th April and has been on a blog tour. Officially the tour ended on Tuesday but there were a couple of bloggers unable to post on time so I wanted to watch out for those before I posted my thank you. And I was away on holiday and it’s so much easier being on my bigger screen at home.

I was a little apprehensive about how the blog tour of Spring Tides might go as the first book in the series – Snowflakes Over The Starfish Café – had been so well-received. Many of the positive comments were about how emotional the book was, really drawing readers in.

The second book isn’t anywhere near as emotional because readers already know Hollie’s and Jake’s sad stories and this is about them moving forward. Thankfully, the verdict was really positive.

I’ve included some quotes from across the tour. I loved reading every single review so if I you were a blogger on the tour and I haven’t included a quote from you, please be assured it wasn’t that I didn’t like what you had to say. These are all randomly selected from the ones I’ve been given (and I don’t have visuals from all the posts).

Thank you to Rachel Gilbey from Rachel’s Random Resources for organising the tour on behalf of my fabulous publisher Boldwood Books and to all the amazing bloggers/reviewers who took part and shared their lovely comments about the story and my writing. It’s appreciated so much.

Thank you also to several fabulous bloggers/reviewers who kindly posted reviews during the first fortnight outside of the official blog tour and to all the readers who have posted reviews and ratings. At the time of writing this post, there are over 800 of these on Amazon which is so amazing.

I’ve been blown away by how well this book has done. Pre-orders in the first week put me into the Top 3 on the Bookstat E-Book chart shared by The Bookseller. This chart is made up of sales of eBooks, print books and audio titles online. Most charts record physical book sales only so it’s wonderful that this chart exists and an honour to be so high. The last two Hedgehog Hollow books made it into this chart but I think they were both #6 or #7. Having said that, the sales volumes were very similar – possibly higher – so where a title appears in this chart is very much around what else is out at the time.

Two and a half weeks since release, the eBook is still in the Kindle Top 100 and the Audible Top 100 which is such a thrill. These amazing reviews and recommendations will have helped it stay there.

Book three – Summer Nights at The Starfish Café – will be out on 3rd April 2023 and is available for pre-order on Kindle here now. It will be available in other formats nearer the time.

Thank you again for all the book love for Spring Tides at The Starfish Café. It’s made for a very happy month.

Big grateful hugs
Jessica xx

The one where it’s publication day for Spring Tides at The Starfish Café

Happy publication day to me! Spring Tides at The Starfish Café – book 2 in the series – is out today. Yay!

A huge thank you to everyone who has pre-ordered it on eBook or audio formats, or has purchased it today. That’s so kind of you. Happy reading/listening!

I love this story and hope readers and listeners will too. Anyone who read the acknowledgements in the back of book 1 – Snowflakes Over The Starfish Café – will know that part of this story was originally in that book. I submitted it thinking something wasn’t quite right but couldn’t pinpoint what. Thankfully my amazing editor, Nia, could and it was that I had two stories in one book but didn’t have the word count to do justice to either of them. So Snowflakes focuses purely on Hollie and Jake meeting and their tragic backstories, and Spring Tides is about their developing relationship with the storyline removed from Snowflakes and a couple of new characters.

Spring Tides at The Starfish Café embarks on a 15-day / 45 stop blog tour from today. That’s epic! Thank you so much to the amazing bloggers/reviewers who’ve signed up and the amazing Rachel Gilbey of Rachel’s Random Resources for organising it. Thanks also to the reviewers who aren’t on the tour but have already or will share their reviews.

One of my Boldwood buddies, the lovely crime author Mary Grand, asked me this week whether I still get nervous about publication day now that I’ve written so many books. The answer is yes! This is my 15th release through Boldwood Books but it’s actually my 28th publication day, having had nine indie release days and four with my original publisher. I’m into more of a rhythm about what to expect but the nerves are always there, bubbling away beneath the surface, typically triggered by my pesky imposter syndrome: What if this is the book readers/listeners hate? What if this is the one where they realise I can’t write?

I’ve been working hard on my imposter syndrome and I don’t feel quite so worried with this release. It helps that there’ve been so many lovely reviews from ARCs (Advance Reader Copies). There have, of course, been some who haven’t enjoyed it – there always are – but it’s overwhelmingly been positively received.

Today I’ll be mostly sharing on social media and responding to the lovely comments that come through. The lovely Fiona Jenkins and Sue Baker are hosting a publication party over on Heidi Swain and Friends – A Facebook Book Club – which is very kind and generous of them. My friends over on The Friendly Book Community have a publication day interview with me and there’s lots more going on. Thank you to everyone who gets involved and makes this day so special.

On Thursday this week, I have a very exciting event planned. I’m going to be joined by members of the RNLI – specifically Scarborough Lifeboat Station – for a Facebook Live. It’s at 6pm on the Book and Tonic Facebook Page and will be available to watch afterwards if anyone can’t join us live. If you can join us live, though, there’ll be an opportunity to ask questions. The crew are so inspirational and I’m so looking forward to chatting with them.

In related news, I was so excited to see Snowflakes Over The Starfish Café reach a whopping review milestone yesterday of 4,000 reviews/ratings over on Amazon. This is my most-reviewed book now, despite it being one of the most recent releases. It hit 4k yesterday, just in time for publication day so what a lovely way to celebrate.

If you haven’t already read Snowflakes, you can grab it for free if you’re in Prime Reading or Kindle Unlimited globally, and it’s only 99p (or equivalent internationally) for the eBook so this is a great opportunity to discover Hollie and Jake’s origin stories before reading Spring Tides. You can read Spring Tides as a standalone book and I do inject some of the backstory so readers aren’t lost but you’ll get a much richer experience if you’ve read the full series.

And, finally, I’m delighted to announce that book 3 – Summer Nights at The Starfish Café – is now available for pre-order on Amazon. Please don’t get annoyed with me but there’s a year to wait for this one. It’s out on 3rd April 2023 and you can pre-order it for Kindle here. The reason for the year is I have the Hedgehog Hollow series to finish first (two books out in June and September) and there’s either going to be a Castle Street standalone book out in January or the start of a new series. Spring Tides doesn’t end on a cliffhanger, though, so hopefully readers/listeners will forgive me for the year and remember that many authors only write one book a year and some even write one every two years.

Big publication day 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 where I went to the RNA Romantic Novel of the Year Awards

I was thrilled to be announced as a finalist for the RNA’s (Romantic Novelists’ Association’s) Romantic Novel of the Year Awards. Snowflakes Over The Starfish Café was one of five finalists in the Christmas/Festive category.

On Monday night, it was the Awards ceremony down in London. I decided to make a trip of it and stay over an extra night on the Sunday to catch up with a friend from university who lives there so it was lovely to see him and it meant I didn’t need to worry about delayed trains and cancellations on the Monday.

Monday was a packed day. I had breakfast with author Rowan Coleman who I’d travelled down with, went for a walk down to the river, had lunch with my editor, then got ready for the ceremony. The weather was a bit grey on my walk but I took a couple of pics of my shortlisted book with nearby sights Tower Bridge and The Tower of London. It’s not easy to hold a book and hold a phone!

All the finalists – five in each of the categories – gathered for a photo shoot before the ceremony. There were only three of us there from my category so the photo shows (L-R) me, Sheila Norton (Winter at Cliff’s End Cottage) and Jenny Bayliss (The Winter of Second Chances).

They were both really lovely and we posed for another unofficial photo together…

I was feeling quite nervous at this point. I didn’t think I had any chance of winning but the last time I attended an Awards ceremony was about 20 years ago when I was up for a business award so this isn’t an every day thing at all.

The reason I didn’t think I would win was nothing to do with me thinking the book wasn’t good enough or anything like that. It was purely down to it being an extremely emotional story which might not have been quite what the readers wanted for that category.

When the photos were done, I joined my publishers, Boldwood Books, down in the bar.

Some of the Boldwood Team and authors

After a quick catch up and photo op, we made our way into the function room for the ceremony.

It was beautifully laid out and we were fortunate enough to be on one of the front tables. The Boldwood team, authors and guests had two tables as there were three of us up for awards – Portia MacIntosh with Life’s a Beach in the Jane Wenham-Jones Romantic Comedy category and Shari Low with One Summer Sunrise in the Contemporary category.

Because I hadn’t expected to win, I hadn’t prepared a speech or even thought about what I was going to say. When the first Award was presented and the winner gave a short speech, I had a sudden panic. What if I did win? What would I say? For one very brief moment, I thought it could be possible and I should have been more prepared.

But I didn’t need to worry about a speech because I didn’t win. Congratulations to Sheila Norton who won in my category.

My category was the first of the ones in which Boldwood was represented so I was hoping one of the other Boldwood authors would bring home the win. One of our authors, Anne-Marie Brear was also up for an award as an indie (entered pre-Boldwood) in the Romantic Saga category with A Distant Horizon so we were rooting for her too but it wasn’t our night. None of us won our categories.

Enormous congratulations to all the winners and all the finalists. You can read the RNA’s article containing all the category winners here.

I have a certificate and a beautiful brochure to commemorate a special evening and would like to say thank you to everyone who congratulated me on being a finalist, wished me luck and said kind words about this book. I really appreciate all the gorgeous comments.

It was lovely to be able to spend time with my publisher, some of the other Boldwood authors, and to catch up with some other authors and it was certainly an honour to be a finalist.

Thank you so much to everyone in the RNA for organising and hosting a wonderful evening.

The following morning, the sky was bright blue so I couldn’t resist another walk down by the river to get some nicer photos so here’s a little selection of my pics from Tuesday morning in a very sunny London.

Big hugs
Jessica xx

The one with the cover and blurb reveal for Chasing Dreams at Hedgehog Hollow

Second post of the day from me, but I’ll keep this one short too.

I’m delighted to bring you the stunning cover reveal for the next book in the Hedgehog Hollow series. Chasing Dreams at Hedgehog Hollow is the fifth book and will be out on 28th June.

I’ve loved all my Hedgehog Hollow covers and my favourite so far has been A Wedding at Hedgehog Hollow which I didn’t think could be topped… until this landed in my inbox. Those colours! Those hot air balloons! Those hedgehogs! This is now my new favourite and depicts a key scene near the end of the story.

Here’s the blurb:

Samantha has a secret. Returning home from her dream honeymoon to the normality of running her beloved Hedgehog Hollow rescue centre, she’s ready for the next chapter of her life with Josh. Or is she? Samantha is hiding something which could forever change the dreams they shared and bring their happy ever after crashing to the ground.

Lauren has given up on love. Twenty-seven years ago the love of her life, Shaun, left her a note and was never seen again. Two painful divorces later she still can’t face opening up to anyone. But little does Lauren know that the closure she’s dreamt of for all these years may be closer than she thinks, and perhaps the only way to let new love in is to forgive and forget.

Samantha and Lauren will need the love and support from the Hedgehog Hollow family more than ever. After all, some dreams are worth chasing…

Top 10 bestseller Jessica Redland welcomes you back to glorious Hedgehog Hollow where love, family and friendship conquer all.

Don’t they look so pretty together?

In other news, I have a confirmed release date for book 6 which will be the final book in the series. It’s out on 6th September this year. I can’t confirm the title yet as we’re deciding between two and it depends which fits best on the cover.

Chasing Dreams at Hedgehog Hollow is available for pre-order on Kindle here and will be up for pre-order on other eBook formats and Audible nearer the publication date. As with all my books (and all others published through Boldwood Books), it will be available in a multitude of formats from publication day – eBook, paperback, hardback, large print, physical audio and audio download with audio streaming on publication day too or soon afterwards.

Hope you love the new cover as much as I do.

Big hedge-hugs
Jessica xx

The one with two audiobooks in the Audible UK £3 sale and a double book birthday

Hi there and happy Sunday to you! Hope you’re having a fabulous weekend.

I’m on the penultimate day of writing my 5th Hedgehog Hollow book – Chasing Dreams at Hedgehog Hollow – ahead of submission to my editor so am only briefly emerging from the story to bring you the exciting news of two audiobooks in the Audible UK £3 sale this week.

The first title included is book 3 in the Hedgehog Hollow series – Family Secrets at Hedgehog Hollow – is included. Book 1 – Finding Love at Hedgehog Hollow – is free with AudioPlus anyway and book 2 – New Arrivals at Hedgehog Hollow – has previously been in the £3 sale.

The second title is Snowflakes Over The Starfish Café, currently a finalist in the RNA’s Christmas/Festive Romantic Novel of the Year.

Even though I’m frantically writing to meet my deadline, I know I’ll find it impossible to resist checking the Audible chart. All the other audiobooks I’ve had in the £3 offer have made it into the Top 100 which is very exciting.

Don’t forget the offer only lasts one week. There’s a helpful countdown on Audible’s sale page…

If you’re an eBook reader instead, Snowflakes Over The Starfish Café is still on a 99p offer on all eBook formats.

I’m also celebrating a double book birthday today.

Books 2 and 3 in the ‘Welcome to Whitsborough Bay’ series – New Beginnings at Seaside Blooms and Finding Hope at Lighthouse Cove – were re-issued through Boldwood Books two years ago today on 20th February 2020.

The re-launch of this series in quick succession across a 2-month period heralded a big change for my writing and, after years of struggling, I finally started to sell more than a handful of books each week. A few months later, I was able to realise my dream of writing full time.

Birthday book New Beginnings at Seaside Blooms is still on a Kindle Monthly Deal for 99p in the UK and an equivalent price in Australia.

Coinciding with its birthday celebration, I’m thrilled to have had the news this week that New Beginnings at Seaside Blooms has passed an amazing sales milestone of 50,000 units so far with Finding Hope at Lighthouse Cove only 7,000 units behind so hopefully that will reach the 50k mark very soon too.

Thank you, as ever, to anyone who has bought/borrowed/downloaded any of my books and, to the Audible UK subscribers, I hope you enjoy these two audiobooks on offer. If you’ve already listened to them, do please spread the word to any friends/family members who might be interested.

Happy listening!

Big hugs
Jessica xx

The one where it is an enormous big news day – loads to tell you

Today has been a big news day. Enormously big news! So let’s crack on.

AWARD NOMINATION

A few weeks ago, I was in bed reading when a text came through shortly before 10pm from my fabulous editor, Nia, saying “You need to check your email!” So I did and it was to the amazing news that Snowflakes Over The Starfish Café had been shortlisted for the RNA’s Romantic Novel of the Year Awards in the Christmas / Festive Romance category.

You know the phrase 3rd time lucky? Well this was 3rd time lucky for me with Boldwood Books but actually 7th time lucky overall as I’d submitted four of my indie titles before joining Boldwood. Keeping the faith pays off!

I’m thrilled that fellow Boldwood authors Shari Low and Portia MacIntosh have also been shortlisted in the contemporary and romantic comedy categories respectively. I believe this is a second time for each of them since joining Boldwood so fingers crossed for the win.

Also, congratulations to AnneMarie Brear. AnneMarie is a Boldwood author but only joined us recently and she’s therefore shortlisted for one of her indie titles (as these are all for books released during 2021).

And of course congratulations to all the finalists. You can read the full announcement and list here.

Finalists are asked to keep the news under wraps until the big announcement so I’m delighted it is now out in the open. I’ve had so many amazing comments on social media and really appreciate all the support.

The Awards ceremony is in London on 7th March so I’m looking forward to a trip down to the capital and, because I’m going that far, I’ve arranged to meet with a good friend from my university days on the Sunday evening. Last time I saw him, I was down in London for an RNA event and Boldwood had just launched so we have a lot to catch up on!

Which brings me to my next piece of news…

BOLDWOOD BOOKS’ 3RD ANNIVERSARY

Boldwood are celebrating 3 years today since their initial launch. I remember sitting up until midnight on 31st January 2019 so that I could send my manuscript – The Secret to Happiness – in as soon as February arrived. Then I panicked that they might not actually receive submissions until the working day officially started so I sent it again!

I was thrilled to be invited in late March that year to be one of their first twenty authors and it’s been the most phenomenal three years so far. Here’s to the next three!

To celebrate their astonishing growth to about 70 authors, nearly 6m sales, hundreds of bestsellers and thousands of amazing reviews, they’re running a competition to win a Kindle. This is over on their Book and Tonic Facebook page or you can find it on Twitter by following @BoldwoodBooks

The T&Cs are here. Good luck!

Wishing Amanda, Nia, Claire, Megan, Caroline, Sarah, Emily, Tara and Laura and all the amazing authors at Boldwood a very happy 3rd anniversary.

And for my final piece of big news today, I return to the RNA…

RNA LEARNING COURSE LAUNCHED

I’m excited to announce that I’m going to be running an RNA Learning Course across March all about how to write a novel or series set in a country or coastal setting because, well, that’s what I know quite a bit about!

Before I became a full-time author, I worked in HR and specialised in recruitment and training. I’ve therefore run training workshops, designed materials and even trained trainers for nearly three decades so was delighted at the opportunity to put some of those skills into use again.

This course runs flexibly online where students can access materials from 1st March up until midnight on 31st March and therefore work at their own pace within that month. There will be specific times within that where I will provide live input and support.

The session will suit anyone who is writing or thinking about writing in these settings and the great news is you don’t have to be a member of the RNA member to participate, although the price is more for non-members.

To find out more, please click here. This is also where you can sign-up if you think it’s for you.

I’m really looking forward to running this course and sharing my knowledge and experiences as well as those of other authors who write in these settings who have kindly shared their thoughts with me.

My February is going to be jam-packed as I need to pull together the training materials, finish writing Chasing Dreams at Hedgehog Hollow which is currently only one-third written, and I have a gig and a holiday this month too. Who needs sleep?

By the way, Snowflakes Over The Starfish Café is still only 99p for all eBook formats so there’s still the opportunity to grab yourself a bargain (or free in Kindle Unlimited).

Wishing you a fabulous February.

Big hugs
Jessica xx

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Big hedge-hugs
Jessica xx