The one where the Write Romantics went to York

I’m part of a writing collective called the Write Romantics. Started by myself and fellow Boldwood author, Jo Bartlett in late 2012 with a plan to blog together, we realised that we had very little to blog about – both approaching but not quite being at the submissions point – so we opened it up in spring 2013 and asked if anyone else wanted to join us. Two became ten. We’re based all over the country from as far south as Brighton and as far north as Cumbria so there isn’t a lot of opportunity to get together. I’ve met everyone – most on several occasions – but we’ve never all been in the same place at the same time. Smaller numbers of us have done our best to meet up at RNA events over the years or catch up when we’ve been on holiday or working near one or more of the others.

Last November, six of us went to Stratford Upon Avon and had such a lovely time that we decided to arrange another get together for this November in York and had a whopping seven takers – the biggest number we’d have ever had in one place. Unfortunately, circumstances conspired against us and numbers dropped and only three of us were able to make it – Sharon Booth, Jackie Ladbury and me. We missed the others loads but still had a lovely few days away together.

My parents take their caravan to a site just outside York each year to visit the Christmas markets and celebrate my mum’s birthday and it struck me we’d be there at the same time. My mum’s a voracious reader and has read most of the books the Write Romantics have written and has loved them all so she was very excited at the idea of meeting some of the group. As we couldn’t check in to our hotel until 3pm but had all planned to arrive earlier, we met her for lunch while my dad did a walk round the city walls.

After checking in, we had a little bit of writing downtime then met for tea. I didn’t think to take a photo but I had the most delicious meal. My ‘festive burger’ had turkey slices, stuffing, bacon, a sausage and cranberry sauce with a pig in blanket on the top, served with roast potatoes and gravy. Mmmm.

The forecast for Wednesday – our full day – was looking pretty dire for the morning so we decided there was no point traipsing into the city centre, getting wet and miserable, when it was meant to be clear in the afternoon. We loitered over breakfast and had been told we were fine to do so but felt a bit guilty when they started vacuuming round us so we returned to our rooms for a bit more writing time.

As forecast, the rain lifted at noon and we walked into the city, pausing on one of the bridges to take some photos of a very swollen River Ouse, although it wasn’t as high as it had been over the weekend.

None of us were planning on doing much in the way of Christmas shopping. It was more of a chance to wander round the market stalls, soak in the atmosphere and catch up. I still haven’t quite mastered the art of the selfie as I always find my eyes straying to the button I need to press so please excuse my dodgy gazing!

Here, we have the Christmas Markets, The Shambles, a nutcracker outside the Christmas shop on The Shambles, and York Minster. I had to pop into The Works to get a shelfie which included another couple of Write Romantics – Jo Bartlett and Helen Rolfe – in our trip, albeit in book format.

Speaking of books, I had an amazing surprise in Waterstones. I’d already been to York on Saturday to take my mum out for a birthday meal and my daughter and I had dived into a few shops. I love to go into branches of Waterstones and look at the R shelf, imagining seeing my books there so imagine my surprise when York Waterstones had a copy of Christmas Miracles at Hedgehog Hollow in stock! They don’t stock my books so I’m assuming it was ordered in for a customer who failed to collect. Very exciting to see it there, even if that was the reason!

This is actually me on Saturday. I took Sharon over to the shelf yesterday and pretended it was a surprise to spot it there but I’m a rubbish liar and admitted pretty much straight away that I’d seen it at the weekend. She took a photo of me holding it which I was going to include here but then I realised it was on Sharon’s phone so I’ll get that off her and post it on social media instead.

Back to the Write Romantics trip, there were several nutcrackers around the city centre but I hadn’t noticed at first that they all had names on them. It seems there’s a nutcracker trail which would be a really lovely thing to do but we were nearly done with our wandering at this point. We’d paused on a bench next to a white one and I spotted that his name was Stephen so I had to take a picture. In my book New Beginnings at Seaside Blooms, Sarah goes searching for the man of her dreams called Steven and I’d just found him for her in nutcracker format!

Sharon had a gift voucher for tea for two at Patisserie Valerie so we went in there for a late lunch. I’ve never been in before but have always thought the cakes looked delicious. The afternoon tea looked impressive and we even managed to eat the scones without our usual debate as to how to pronounce the word so we must all have been tired! However, we were extremely unimpressed that there were no toilets in working order. There was a sign on the door saying no toilets and we assumed that was a deterrent for the general public but it was genuinely the case that the toilets were out of order. I’m pretty sure that’s actually illegal and not great when a food stop usually includes a toilet stop.

Sharon and Jackie headed back to the hotel and I stayed in the city centre for a little longer so I could grab a couple of Christmas gifts and catch the lights. My photos really don’t do justice to how pretty York looked as dusk turned to dark but hopefully they give you some flavour of it.

Today, we had breakfast, some writing time, then met for lunch before all heading home. I’ve got a very busy ten days ahead of me to finish writing Summer Nights at The Starfish Cafe. I’ve only written a third of it so far so that’s definitely going to be a challenge but I’ll get there.

We missed our other Write Romantics buddies but did have a lovely few days of writerly and family chat and hope it’s not too long before we can see the others. Thank you, Sharon and Jackie, for the fabulous company.

Big hugs
Jessica xx

The one where Finding Love at Hedgehog Hollow is available from The Works

I absolutely love my Kindle and read most books as ebooks but there’s a special feeling that comes with holding (and stroking) a paperback I’ve written that I don’t quite get from seeing it on my Kindle. And the one thing that beats that is seeing a book I’ve written in a book shop.

I’ve been so grateful and honoured this year to have had two of my books go into The Works. The Secret to Happiness appeared in June shortly after we came out of the first lockdown and Making Wishes at Bay View appeared in September. I thought that would be it until 2021 so I was both surprised and delighted to get an email from Boldwood’s lovely CEO, Amanda, advising me that The Works had taken delivery of Finding Love at Hedgehog Hollow last month, making it three books in The Works in the space of five months. Eek!

Finding Love at Hedgehog Hollow appeared on The Works’ website about a week ago. For the other two books, it took about a fortnight from appearing online to the books appearing in stores. With the announcement at the weekend that England would be entering a 4-week lockdown from Thursday, I suspected I wouldn’t see the hedgehogs in my local branch of The Works until we were the other side of lockdown but I’m delighted to say I was wrong!

I met my daughter off the school bus in town yesterday so she could get a copy of the book she’s studying in English – A Christmas Carol – and pick up a few other bits and bobs. We took a trip to The Works.

I didn’t actually spot the hedgehogs at first because there was a fresh batch of Making Wishes at Bay View on the shelves smiling at me. They’d sold out of them very quickly – perhaps helped by them being signed – so it was lovely to see them re-stocked. Then the munchkin pointed out that Finding Love at Hedgehog Hollow was on the shelves too, right next to Making Wishes... How could I have missed it?

So out came the pen and I signed them all. Several copies of Finding Love at Hedgehog Hollow had obviously sold already as there were only six left out of the ten that they’d been sent. That was quick! The munchkin had been in with her grandparents at the weekend and the hedgehogs hadn’t arrived then and I know from asking before that book deliveries come on Tuesdays! So those hedgehogs definitely proved popular on their first day on the shelves.

Both books are available on the website which you can access here but The Secret to Happiness sold out online a few months ago. There may still be some copies loitering in some stores.

There are lots of amazing books available from Boldwood authors (and lots of other authors too, of course) so why not treat yourself to some lockdown reading and perhaps some Christmas shopping (so you don’t have any postage to pay)? They’re £2 each or 3 for £5.

If you do see a copy of any of my books out in the wild, I’d love to see a photo shared on any of my social media – a shelfie – telling me which store you found it in. Equally, photos of books bought online are fabulous to see.

It’s still a bit surreal imagining that there are people out there reading or listening to my stories, making friends with my characters, snarling at a couple of them, and immersing themselves in Whitsborough Bay or the Yorkshire Wolds.

Thank you to Boldwood Books for making this possible and to the lovely staff in The Works for being so welcoming each time I pop in.

And a final thank you to everyone who has shared their love for the hedgehogs so far. At the time of writing, Finding Love at Hedgehog Hollow is still in the Top 300 on Amazon and has a whopping 595 reviews/ratings, 93% of which are 5-star or 4-star. Seriously delighted author here!

Big hugs

Jessica xx

It’s beginning to look a lot like Christmas … and there’s a reason for it

1522851_784506671588635_6474462348225739404_oDo you prefer the build-up to Christmas or Christmas Day itself? I find Christmas Day quite exhausting and, after the munchkin has opened her gifts, I think a year of hard work usually catches up on me and I just want to sleep for England. So, for me, it’s the build-up I prefer and specifically one aspect: the moment when the tree is up and the boxes have all been put back in the attic and I can settle down on the sofa and gaze at the gorgeous lights and decorations. I absolutely love fairy lights and would happily have them up in the house all year round. We moved house 3 years ago. When we had our kitchen re-done in our old house, we had a couple of sets of shelves that looked perfect with white fairy lights on them all year round. Somehow we lost the plugs in the move so our current kitchen doesn’t have any. However, I’ve just treated myself to a couple of sets for the office although they haven’t quite made it out of their boxes yet.


I don’t particularly enjoy Christmas shopping (I’m not a shopping fan full stop) but I love gathering all the gifts together and wrapping them. I like to adorn them with bows and curly ribbon and can spend hours on the task. This year, I’d done them all just before the end of November in a film-fest of The Proposal and What Happens in Vegas. Usually I would watch Christmas films but they were still in the attic. They came down with the decorations so Saturday was a Christmas film-fest whilst tree-decorating.

P1040382I’m greedy. We have three trees! We have a large artificial one in the bay of our lounge, my daughter has a small pink one on a coffee table in the lounge and we have a third smaller artificial one in the dining room window. This may seem an indulgence but we originally bought this extra one because we had large shelved recesses in the dining room in our old house and, in our new house, the lounge is at the back of the house and the dining room is at the front. I like to see Christmas lights from the road so I simply had to put the small tree on display on the large window ledge there.

I’m ridiculously organised this year. I’ve bought and wrapped nearly all my gifts, have written my cards, and have put up all the decorations. I just have gifts for the hubby to buy. He’s an absolute nightmare to buy for so I’ve put it on the table that I haven’t a clue what to get him this year so ball’s in his court to tell me or he’ll have nothing. So far, he’s suggested a blu-ray so progress isn’t great! I’m not normally this organised. Don’t get me wrong – I’m a pretty organised person – but I’m not normally this far in advance with Christmas which begs the question why. What’s different this year?

I think I know.

IMG_0305I’m procrastinating. I’m going through a phase of self-doubt with my writing and, if I immersed myself in spending two evenings producing a spreadsheet with all the things the munchkin had on her wish-list and posting links to said items at the best price (yes, I really did do this!), if I spent two evenings wrapping gifts, two days putting up all the decorations and an evening writing cards, not to mention a morning’s shopping trip and several hours online, then I didn’t have to write. And I didn’t have to face my doubts. And I could continue to be an ostrich. But the shopping’s done, the decorations are up and the cards are written which means I can’t bury my head in the sand anymore. Eek. I’ll tell you more about the self-doubt in my next post.

What to do now? Should I write? No, I think I’ll get those fairy lights out their boxes …