Children in Read for Children in Need

Children in Need is the BBC’s Corporate Charity whose “mission is to help ensure every child in the UK is safe, happy, secure and has the opportunities they need to reach their potential”. Every year in November, there’s an appeal show – 19th November this year – but there are various other activities which happen in the run-up such as the Countryfile Ramble.

For the past 7 years, the Children in Read campaign has run to raise valuable funds for this charity through an auction of lots provided by authors, illustrators and publishers.

You can find the full auction here.

At the time of writing this post, there are a whopping 740 lots available covering a huge variety of genres, and therefore catering to all tastes. £14,365 has already been raised but, with 18 days still to go, that will hopefully significantly increase.

There are books donated, limited editions, signed copies and a whole host more. Here’s a screen shot of the different filters you can search on…

I have donated lot 594 – a signed and dedicated set of the three ‘Christmas on Castle Street’ paperbacks – which you can access directly here. The series consists of:

  • Christmas Wishes at the Chocolate Shop
  • Christmas at Carly’s Cupcakes
  • Starry Skies Over The Chocolate Pot Café

My lot currently has 7 bids on it and is at £25 which is fabulous … but, as each book retails at £8.99, that’s less than these could be bought for if purchased separately outside the auction! Hopefully it will rise a little higher for the charity.

Over on Twitter you can find the appeal on @ChildrenInRead Please do bob on over and share the links all over the socials to help boost the bids on all these amazing lots. Could be fabulous for a spot of special Christmas shopping!

Big hugs
Jessica xx

Happy Book Birthday to Starry Skies

I’m celebrating another book birthday today with Starry Skies Over The Chocolate Pot Café hitting its first birthday since the re-release through Boldwood Books.

Originally independently published in 2018 as Christmas at The Chocolate Pot Café, I do tend to think of my Boldwood birthdays as the official birthdays as so few readers discovered my work before I joined them.

I love this story and, with over 1700 reviews/ratings on Amazon – 94% positive – and more than 35,000 copies sold in a year, it seems readers do too. Thank you to everyone who has bought/borrowed/listened and left a review/recommended this story. I appreciate that so much.

Starry Skies Over The Chocolate Pot Café is best read after Christmas at Carly’s Cupcakes as the two books feature friends Carly and Tara with businesses next door to each other and follow on chronologically.

Officially, Christmas Wishes at the Chocolate Shop is the 1st book in the Christmas on Castle Street Series as it’s set chronologically before the other two but it isn’t as closely connected as they are.

Happy book birthday Starry Skies xxx

Big hugs
Jessica xx

Here’s the blurb…

Cosy up with a mug of hot chocolate for some festive sparkle from bestseller Jessica Redland.

Everyone is getting into the festive spirit on Castle Street – snow is falling, fairy lights are glistening and Christmas shopping is underway.

But for Tara Porter, owner of thriving cafe, The Chocolate Pot, this is the most difficult time of the year. From the outside, Tara is a successful businesswoman and pillar of the community. Behind closed doors, she is lonely. 

With a lifetime of secrets weighing on her shoulders, she has retreated from all friends, family and romance, and shut her real self away from the world. Afterall, if you don’t let them in, they can’t hurt you. She’s learnt that the hard way.

But as the weight of her past becomes heavier and an unexpected new neighbour moves onto the street – threatening the future of her cafe – Tara begins to realise that maybe it’s time to finally let people back in and confront her history. It could just change her life forever…

Happy book birthday to Carly’s Cupcakes

I’m celebrating a first book birthday for my first Boldwood Books Christmas release, Christmas at Carly’s Cupcakes.

Originally an indie release in October 2017 (under the same title), Carly’s Cupcakes is a little older than one but I think of today as the official one-year book birthday because that’s when the new, longer, improved version was released; the version which has been enjoyed by way more readers than had been discovered when I was an indie author.

At just under 60k words, it’s my shortest novel. To put this into context, the average length of a novel is 60-100k and most of mine are at the higher end of that between 90k-105k words.

The reason my novels usually come in at the top end is that I usually have several sub plots running in the story which add additional layers. Some have a second person perspective so the story is seen from two sides, naturally lending itself to more word count.

In Christmas at Carly’s Cupcakes, there is intentionally a less intricate plot for several reasons:

  • It was originally planned as a novella (although I failed abysmally to stick within the 40k word count required for that!)
  • It was always intended as a lighter Christmas read
  • It covers a shorter span of time, all the action unfolding across December
  • It’s a single perspective story

Just because it’s a shorter, lighter read, it doesn’t mean that it doesn’t address some deeper issues. Bullying and mental health are covered in this story but, while some of my books have readers reaching for the tissues, I’d say this will tug at the heartstrings but is less likely to bring on the tears than some of my other reads.

It’s the story of the relationship between two sisters, Carly and Bethany, in the run-up to Christmas. It’s the busiest time of year for Carly but Bethany, who works with her in Carly’s Cupcakes, has zero talent when it comes to cake decorating and a big talent for courting disaster. She’s more of a hindrance than a help but, as the story unfolds, we discover the reasons why Carly can’t and won’t dismiss her sister even though each Bethany-shaped problem causes more and more problems for the business.

It’s also a love story. While Bethany is preparing for her Christmassy wedding (also not without disaster), Carly is wondering whether she can be courageous enough to tell her long-term best friend, Liam, how she really feels about him when he comes home on leave from the army.

I loved writing this story and am delighted that (most) readers have loved reading it too. At the time of writing, it has a whopping 2,239 reviews/ratings on Amazon so I’m hoping it will make it to 2,500 as we get into the festive season. They have a 90% positive rating (5 or 4 stars) which is amazing. I’ve posted a selection of the comments from 5-star reviews across this post and am so grateful for the book-love.

I say most readers have loved reading it because you’ll never please all the people all of the time. “One star is more than it deserves” reads a review from last October. Ouch! There are also the two hilarious two-star reviews given because “it’s too early for Christmas”. Tip: So don’t download a Christmas book with the word Christmas in the title in August if you don’t like reading about Christmas in the summer!

It isn’t meant to be a book full of twists and turns. It isn’t meant to be a literary masterpiece designed to change world-thinking. It’s meant to be lovely, warm and fuzzy, Christmassy-infused escapism and I will always be proud of this tale of love, family and friendship. A huge thank you to all those amazing readers who have loved it for exactly what it is.

Happy book birthday Christmas at Carly’s Cupcakes. You’ve done me proud. The eBook is available for Kindle here and on Apple and Kobo. It’s currently in a buy one get one free deal on Kobo as I’m the Author of the Month there. You can also listen to it on audio download and streaming services, buy a large print or paperback version, or get in touch with me if you’d like a signed paperback.

I recommend then going on to Starry Skies Over The Chocolate Pot Cafe to find out what happens next for Carly when we pick up the story of Tara Porter, the owner of The Chocolate Pot next door to Carly’s Cupcakes. This is a longer, deeper and more emotional read set across a whole year.

Big hugs
Jessica xx

It’s the most wonderful time of the year…

It’s December on Castle Street; the fairy lights are twinkling, snow has settled and the festive season is in full swing.

For Carly, the owner of Carly’s Cupcakes, it’s the busiest time of year getting everyone’s Christmas treats ready on time. However with her clumsy sister, Bethany, as a co-worker, it’s proving a difficult task. They say you shouldn’t mix work with family. Maybe they have a point…

As Christmas approaches, Carly is also eagerly awaiting the return of her best friend to Whitsborough Bay. Liam has no idea he’s been the object of her affection since their schooldays. After years of pining after him, can Carly pluck up the courage to finally tell him how she really feels by 25th December?

Could a little festive magic make all of Carly’s wishes come true this Christmas…?

Discover 6 of my books on Audible Plus

At the end of July, Audible launched a new programme for their UK subscribers called Audible Plus. This programme was rolled out in the USA previously and is all about giving subscribers additional free unlimited content so, if you’re an Audible user, do check it out.

The Audible Plus catalogue consists of thousands of carefully selected audiobooks, podcasts and Audible originals which subscribers can listen to as many times as they want for no additional charge.

Audible say: “The new Plus Catalogue offers an exciting opportunity to introduce more audiobooks, podcasts and Audible Originals to members, on top of their credits. New and existing members will be able to discover more titles for the first time at no extra cost, which we believe will increase member listening and allow them to discover new authors or similar genres and themes. The Plus Catalogue provides extra content our members will love, and forms part of our ongoing commitment to present value-added offerings to consumers.”

I’m really excited to have a whopping SIX out of my twelve titles included in this special programme from day 1:

  • Making Wishes at Bay View (book 1 in the Welcome to Whitsborough Bay series)
  • New Beginnings at Seaside Blooms (book 2 in the Welcome to Whitsborough Bay series)
  • The Secret to Happiness
  • Christmas at Carly’s Cupcakes
  • Starry Skies Over The Chocolate Pot Café
  • Finding Love at Hedgehog Hollow (book 1 in the Hedgehog Hollow series)

I hope that this will introduce new listeners to my worlds of Whitsborough Bay and Hedgehog Hollow who will perhaps go on to use their usual credits to explore my other titles.

Let me know if you’ve discovered any fabulous new listens through this programme.

Happy listening!

Big hugs
Jessica xx

Making Wishes at Bay View makes wishes come true

The first book in my ‘Welcome to Whitsborough Bay’ series, Making Wishes at Bay View, has reached a huge ratings/reviews milestone on Amazon today, passing the 1,000 point. Woo hoo!

This is the sixth of my books to pass the 1k milestone, joining Finding Love at Hedgehog Hollow, New Arrivals at Hedgehog Hollow, The Secret to Happiness, Christmas at Carly’s Cupcakes and Starry Skies Over The Chocolate Pot Café. and I still have to pinch myself that this has happened.

Before I joined Boldwood Books, this particular book had somewhere in the region of 30-40 reviews on it and none of my books had reached the 100 point, never mind 1,000!

I’m so chuffed that they’re mainly positive too. Thank you to all the readers and bloggers who have taken the time to share the book love and to pass on their recommendations to friends and family. It makes such a difference.

I’m now watching the remaining books in the series. They’re all way past the 700 point with which I’m delighted.

It looks as though Coming Home to Seashell Cottage – the final book in the series – will make it to 1,000 first. I love all the books for different reasons but this is my personal favourite as I love the many twists and turns in the story. I’m not sure whether it has the most reviews out of the remaining three because more readers loved it or because not all readers have reviewed the previous books, instead rating book 4 with their thoughts on the whole series. Whatever the case, this is a very happy sight…

Thank you again for helping Making Wishes at Bay View achieve this amazing milestone today.

Have a fabulous week.

Big hugs
Jessica xx

Celebrating four amazing milestones this week

This week, I’m celebrating four amazing milestones for reviews/ratings on Amazon.

The Secret to Happiness which was the book that secured me my publishing deal with Boldwood Books, released in September 2019, has reached 1,000 ratings/reviews. Woo hoo! I’m thrilled with that.

But there’s more…

Both Hedgehog Hollow books out so far – Finding Love at Hedgehog Hollow (book 1) and New Arrivals at Hedgehog Hollow (book 2) have hit a whopping 1,500 ratings/reviews. Eek!

I posted a couple of weeks ago about book 2 surpassing the number of reviews for book 1 and this has continued with New Arrivals hitting 1,500 before Finding Love, despite only being released in January this year compared to July last year for book 1.

This still surprises me and I have to assume that readers are joining the series at book 2 and feeling settled enough with the story that they aren’t going back to book 1.

For those who are loving their visits to Hedgehog Hollow, Family Secrets at Hedgehog Hollow is out on 4th May but available for pre-order now and I’ve just started to write book 4. This doesn’t have a title yet but will be out in January next year.

But it doesn’t end there…

My final milestone is a whopping 2,000 reviews for Christmas at Carly’s Cupcakes which was a re-release in August last year, although the title remained the same as before. Oh my goodness! TWO THOUSAND!!!!!

What’s even more special is that these aren’t just huge milestones; they’re milestones full of love for the stories with more than 90% positive reviews/ratings (4 or 5-star) and the majority of them being 5-star.

I’m so grateful to readers and bloggers/reviewers for sharing their kind words and recommending my stories to others. I look at these volumes of reviews and still can’t believe they’re for the characters and plots that I created. I’m so incredibly humbled and thankful xxx

Have a fabulous week.

Big hugs
Jessica xx

Amazing Kindle Deals in Australia TODAY ONLY

Happy Easter everyone!

Down in Australia, the Easter bunny is delivering a fabulous basket of treats for Kindle readers because a whopping eight of my ebooks … yes, EIGHT of them … are on a very special offer for ONE DAY ONLY.

The four titles in the Welcome to Whitsborough Bay Series, one of my Hedgehog Hollow books, and three more of my Whitsborough Bay books are all reduced to the ridiculously low price of $0.99 for SUNDAY 4th APRIL ONLY:

  • Making Wishes at Bay View (Welcome to Whitsborough Bay book 1)
  • New Beginnings at Seaside Blooms (Welcome to Whitsborough Bay book 2)
  • Finding Hope at Lighthouse Cove (Welcome to Whitsborough Bay book 3)
  • Coming Home to Seashell Cottage (Welcome to Whitsborough Bay book 4)
  • The Secret to Happiness
  • Christmas at Carly’s Cupcakes
  • Starry Skies Over The Chocolate Pot Café
  • New Arrivals at Hedgehog Hollow (Hedgehog Hollow book 2)

And All You Need Is Love and Finding Love at Hedgehog Hollow (book 1 in the Hedgehog Hollow series) are both only $1.89 on offer at the moment too.

So you can get all ten of my Boldwood Books releases for only $11.70!!!

You can find my Amazon Australia books here.

The only book not on offer is Charlee and the Chocolate Shop because that’s due an edit and re-release from Boldwood Books in July so I’d encourage waiting until then to read the fresh version.

Happy Easter and happy reading! Please tell your friends and family and I wish you a fabulous Easter weekend.

Big hugs
Jessica xx

The hedgehogs are absolutely smashing it

I’ve been a bit obsessed with checking my reviews/ratings for book 2 in the Hedgehog Hollow series – New Arrivals at Hedgehog Hollows – for two reasons:

  1. They have accumulated at a rate I’ve never seen before on any of my books
  2. There weren’t any 1 or 2-star ratings among them and I was intrigued as to how many I’d get before I received my first

The book was released on Thursday 7th January so it is day 19 now. After only a week, I was astonished to have gathered 100 ratings/reviews. Only two of those were 3-star which, although classed as ‘negative’ on Amazon doesn’t unduly concern me. Readers use the ratings differently and for some this is a case of enjoying a book but not having your socks blown off by it.

I hadn’t expected to get to 100 without any 1 or 2-star ratings/reviews so, once I did, figured it would only be a matter of time before that happened. This is not me being negative; it’s an inevitability that not everyone likes the same thing and there will always be those who don’t enjoy what an author writes and shares that feedback through negative reviews/ratings.

The number passed 200. Then 300. Still no 1 or 2-star ratings/reviews. Surely there was no way I’d get to 400. But I did. This afternoon, I got a screen shot at 402 reviews with no 1 or 2-star ratings/reviews. I’m a bit gutted as I’ve just realised that my screen shot doesn’t actually tally and it says 402 ratings at the top but 399 in the breakdown box but I did refresh it later and it was showing 402 in both boxes but I didn’t take another screen shot as I hadn’t realised it had been incorrect before.

Another refresh took me up to 405 and 2 x 2-star ratings (no review) had crept in. So now there are two properly negative verdicts (alongside 20 x 3-stars) but I am absolutely thrilled to have got beyond 400 before that happened. I doubt it will happen again so thank you to the hedgehogs for capturing readers’ hearts and to everyone who has left kind words or a positive rating. This spurs me on to keep writing.

They have also reached their highest UK Kindle chart position so far at #169.

If you haven’t already downloaded New Arrivals at Hedgehog Hollow, the price is a bargain 99p on Apple, Kindle and Kobo so grab a bargain now.

And as the second batch of hedgehogs hit their 400 milestone, the first batch in Finding Love at Hedgehog Hollow have just hit a mammoth one passing 1,000 reviews/ratings this afternoon. Woo hoo! Hurrah for those hedgehogs!

Finding Love at Hedgehog Hollow joins Christmas at Carly’s Cupcakes and Starry Skies Over The Chocolate Pot Café in the 1,000 Club although Carly is well on her way to 2,000 with 1,799 at the time of writing.

Thank you for the hedgehog love. And the Christmas books love. And all the love for any of my other stories.

Wishing you all a fabulous week.

Big hugs
Jessica xx

You can find my author page on Amazon here.

Starry Skies has reached for the skies

It’s the first Monday in January 2021 and, for many, the return to work after a Christmas break. With a writing deadline for later this week, I returned to my desk on Saturday so I’m very disorientated about what day of the week it is! And school is back tomorrow, initially from home, which will throw me even more.

This is just a quickie as Starry Skies Over The Chocolate Pot Café has followed in the trail blazed by Christmas at Carly’s Cupcakes and has just passed a whopping 1,000 reviews/ratings on the UK Kindle chart. It still has an orange #1 Best Seller Tag and I’m so delighted that 92% of the reviews are positive (4 or 5 star).

If you’ve read and reviewed or rated this book, I cannot thank you enough. It’s such a thrill to know that Tara’s journey has been loved by so many.

It’s still only 99p but is unlikely to stay at this price for long so do grab yourself a bargain if you haven’t already done so (see below for the blurb).

You can buy it on Amazon here although I would recommend reading Carly’s Cupcakes first (also only 99p). It’s also available for Kobo and Apple Books, as well as on paperback and via audio and streaming services.

If you don’t fancy the idea of a Christmas book after Christmas, the good news is that Starry Skies is set across a whole year. It is front and back-ended by the festive season but isn’t pure Christmas … although Carly’s Cupcakes is purely set in December so is Christmas-themed throughout if you read that one first.

Thank you again for such kindness. You’ve started year with a blast with an amazing writing dream achieved.

Big hugs
Jessica xx

Everyone is getting into the festive spirit on Castle Street – snow is falling, fairy lights are glistening and Christmas shopping is underway.

But for Tara Porter, owner of thriving cafe, The Chocolate Pot, this is the most difficult time of the year. From the outside, Tara is a successful businesswoman and pillar of the community. Behind closed doors, she is lonely. 

With a lifetime of secrets weighing on her shoulders, she has retreated from all friends, family and romance, and shut her real self away from the world. Afterall, if you don’t let them in, they can’t hurt you. She’s learnt that the hard way.

But as the weight of her past becomes heavier and an unexpected new neighbour moves onto the street – threatening the future of her cafe – Tara begins to realise that maybe it’s time to finally let people back in and confront her history. It could just change her life forever…

The one where I visit the ‘real’ Castle Street at Christmas

A theme that comes through in reviews of my Whitsborough Bay books, particularly my Christmas ones, is how much readers would love to visit Castle Street and I sometimes get asked if it’s real.

Castle Street is not real. Sorry. But it is definitely inspired by real places and I see it as a blend of three, which I’ll come to in a moment.

Whitsborough Bay is a fictional North Yorkshire seaside town but it’s predominantly inspired by my hometown of Scarborough. It has the same geographical set-up as Scarborough: North Bay and South Bay separated by a headland with a castle on it, and the town up the cliff from South Bay. The large image below is a view of South Bay and the castle on the cliff from an area called South Cliff.

In my books, I’ve even called these areas North Bay and South Bay. I originally called them North Beach and South Beach to be different but decided ‘beach’ didn’t make sense when the town was called Whitsborough BAY so I stuck with bays.

There are many much-loved locations and landmarks in Scarborough that appear in my Whitsborough Bay stories but with different names:

  • The Sea Life Centre in North Bay becomes the Sea Rescue Sanctuary (bottom left above)
  • Peasholm Park, also in North Bay, is Hearnshaw Park in my books
  • The colourful beach huts in Whitsborough Bay’s North Bay (top right above) are a direct match to those in Scarborough but the shops and cafés nearby take on different identities
  • In Scarborough’s South Bay, there’s a lighthouse and harbour and I have the same in Whitsborough Bay but the lighthouse is red and white striped in my books instead of white (bottom right above), and the approach to it is different

The main difference geographically between Scarborough and Whitsborough Bay is that Whitsborough Bay has a river which runs through the Old Town and along the South Bay side of the castle. It is crossed by a swing bridge. This is very much inspired by Whitby up the coast from Scarborough; a place I’ve adored since childhood.

Back to Castle Street, it is fictional but, as I said before, it is inspired by a blend of three places:

  • Bar Street in Scarborough (which is a narrow street housing independent shops and cafés)
  • The cobbled streets of Whitby’s south side
  • The cobbled streets of Robin Hood’s Bay (which is between Scarborough and Whitby but closer to Whitby)

I imagine Castle Street to be wider than any of these streets (more the width of Huntriss Row if anyone is familiar with Scarborough) and with old-fashioned grey cobbles, more like these ones in this photo of Whitby at the bottom of the famous 199 steps up to St Mary’s Church and Whitby Abbey.

I love Bar Street at Christmas. It has waves of simple white lights running down the street from one end to the other and I describe these in my Christmas books but have them connecting between the buildings instead.

Last week, hubby, munchkin and I took our sprocker spaniel, Ella, for a wander round the lights just as the shops were closing (so we could capture the lights in the shops but visit when there weren’t many folk about).

The large picture below is looking down Bar Street with our backs to the town. The shops are Steampuss Cat Lounge (which I visited with the munchkin a few months back) and a bridal shop which is partial inspiration for The Wedding Emporium which I mention in a few books. In Christmas at Carly’s Cupcakes, Bethany gets her wedding dress and the bridesmaid dresses for her Christmas wedding from there.

I’d been eager to get a photo of the giant illuminated teddy bear on the main precinct when I spotted him in town last month but the lights didn’t show very well during the day. So much better at night. I love him!

On Boxing Day evening, we took Ella down to the harbour where many of the boats were lit up, as was the viewing wheel along the seafront. Very pretty. But very cold!

I think I might need to make more of the harbour in future books as it really is beautiful with all the lights on the masts and sails. My pretty poor phone photography doesn’t even come close to doing it justice. On the top row, the lit-up building on the top left pic which is bigger on top right (at the far left of the pic) is The Grand Hotel. Owned by Britannia Group it has changed a lot over the years but it was once one of the largest and most impressive hotels in Europe. You can see it in daylight in the top set of images, bottom middle.

In my stories, The Grand is The Ramparts Hotel (Alison works there in The Secret to Happiness and Callie has a meal there near the end of Making Wishes at Bay View) and I position it as Whitsborough’s only 5-star hotel and very luxurious.

In the top middle photo, you can just about make out Scarborough’s Lighthouse. If you look above the boat lit by red lights, there’s a bright light. Move along to the boat behind it and there’s another light and just to the right of that is a triangle shape of light. That’s the lighthouse. Hubby took a better pic of it, though, looking back over the Old Town. What looks to be a strip of lights above the Old Town in his photo is the castle walls illuminated.

Hope you enjoyed your trip to Whitsborough Bay’s Castle Street and harbour at Christmas. If you’d like to read about it, Christmas at Carly’s Cupcakes and Starry Skies Over The Chocolate Pot Café are both still only 99p but act quickly as Starry Skies will probably have a price increase in the not too distant future. They’re best read in that order as Starry Skies is set after Carly’s Cupcakes and the two businesses are next door and run by friends Carly and Tara so we find out what happens to Carly after her story finishes when Tara picks up the reins.

You can find all my books for Kindle here although they’re also available as eBooks for Kobo and Apple and a gazillion other formats depending on your reading or listening preferences.

Big hugs
Jessica xx