At the start of this month, I posted about the Children in Read auction – an amazing auction of books and book-related items in aid of BBC’s Children in Need. You can read the post here.
At the time, I explained that I’d donated my Christmas on Castle Street trilogy as a lot. It had 7 bids and had already raised £25. I’m thrilled to report that, with still 8 days to go until bidding closes, an 8th bid has raised it to a whopping £45. Eek! Delighted with that.
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.
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!
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 Shopis 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…
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 MakingWishes 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.