The one where I’ve emptied the emails and put a permanent out of office on. The day job is no more!

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I have just marked my final assignment, dealt with my final query, emptied my email folders and put on an out of office which says: “I no longer work for XXXX…..”

Five years in my day job as an HR Tutor have come to a close and I feel… What do I feel? Free? Elated? Excited? Scared? All of those and perhaps a little bit in denial that it has actually happened. I never thought the day would come.

If you were to ask my good friend and fellow author, the super talented Sharon Booth, what my writing goal has been in all the years we’ve known each other, she’d say, “To write full-time.” Some authors might specify their writing goals in terms of securing a  deal with a certain publisher, being taken on by a specific agent, winning an award, achieving a certain chart position or level of sales. For me, it has always been to be able to earn enough income to write full-time.

Why? Because I love it. It’s part of me. It’s who I am.

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I actually loved being a writer years before I even thought about writing a book. That may sound a little odd to say but my career has always been in HR, other than a brief diversion into retail when I opened and ran a teddy bear shop. My HR roles mainly specialised in recruitment and L&D (learning and development). The tasks that excited me were the ones where I got to write, whether that was a job advert, an assessor’s manual or a training exercise. The writing activities that gave me the biggest buzz were designing case studies or group exercises for recruitment or training purposes. Looking back, this was I was creating characters. I was developing plots. Of course, I had no idea that it was the start of me developing my skills ready to become an author. Destiny had plans for me!

Writing has always had to take a back seat to my day job and it’s been a tough old slog fitting it in but I’ve toiled away, writing on evenings and weekends, always hoping that I could one day write in a ‘normal’ 9-5 day. And now I can. Yay!!! The income won’t be nearly as much as I earn from the day job but I’ve managed to build up some day job savings that I can draw on in the hope that, one day, my writing income will be enough to do this forever.

So why do I feel a bit in denial? I suppose it’s because leaving a job where the office is my home and my colleagues and customers are all virtual is different than leaving a regular office job. When someone leaves an office job, they often say the thing they’ll miss the most is the colleagues they’re used to seeing every day but that isn’t the case for me because I’m a remote worker. I have a few colleagues who I am good friends with who I’ll definitely stay in contact with, one of whom I used to regularly meet up with pre-virus so I’m looking forward to being able to see her again. We have more than the job in common.

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I ran webinars and needed a reminder note on my desk so I wouldn’t forget it was webinar day! Felt strange recycling my notes. They’ve served me well!

When a teacher leaves a job, they would typically say they’ll miss their students but being an online tutor is different there too. I tutored two subjects, each of which have three compulsory and three optional practice assignments. I worked with some students on both subjects and others on only one. Some students wouldn’t pass a single assignment first time around and would ask lots of queries so, although we never met or spoke, we’d have a good working relationship. Others never interacted beyond submitting their assignments. Some were a delight to work with and were so enthusiastic to learn. Others not so much. But, because it was a constant churn as students moved through the qualification, the relationship was short-term so I don’t miss “my class” because I never had a class. That said, there are some students – recent and from some time back – who I will always remember for being an absolute pleasure to support on their journey.

There have been some major frustrations and I have massive empathy and respect for anyone in the teaching profession as a result of my five years as a tutor because … oh my goodness … so many students do not listen! Or read. Or pay attention. Argh! Which prompted my super talented husband to draw the amazing image at the top of this post of me at my desk with steam coming out my ears when even the basics couldn’t seem to be mastered.

For example, when running a webinar explaining the assignment:

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Image by Gerd Altmann from Pixabay

Me: This assignment is 500 words. There’s a 10% leeway meaning you can submit between 450-550 words. This applies to the WHOLE assignment, not per question. If you submit an assignment over or under the allowable word count, it won’t be marked….

Student 1: Is it 500 words per question?

Student 2: Can you go over word count?

I could write pages of examples but it would make for a very boring blog post for anyone except my colleagues who’d be nodding and smiling and rolling their eyes with me. I’m sure most people can relate to the picture, though, whatever job you’re in.

So tomorrow is a new dawn, new day, new era. Very, very exciting. And scary. But mostly exciting…

Thank you so much to my long-suffering husband and daughter who have never moaned at the ludicrously long hours I’ve had to work to try and keep two full-time jobs going.

Have a great start to the week. I’m certainly going to!

Big hugs

Jessica xx

 

 

 

 

The one where I took a big step in building the tomorrow I’ve always dreamed of

Boldwood Books posted this meme on their Facebook site yesterday and it could not have been more appropriate for me because, yesterday, I grabbed my opportunity to build the tomorrow I want. Yesterday, I resigned from my day job!

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I’ve always needed to fit writing around a full-time day job which has not been easy. Over the years, I’ve held some very demanding roles where I’ve barely written because extremely long hours and/or business travel has prevented it. And it didn’t really matter at first because, when I was writing my debut novel, it felt a more like a hobby. Could I learn how to write a book? Could I get to the end? Would it be readable? I never actually thought beyond that but, once I’d joined the Romantic Novelists’ Association (RNA) and received positive feedback from readers on the New Writers’ Scheme (NWS), I began to imagine that there could be something beyond a finished manuscript loitering on my computer.

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Image by Welcome to all and thank you for your visit ! ツ from Pixabay 

And there was.

Five years ago, I became a home-based HR Tutor.

Five years ago, my first book was published.

Five years ago, it was no longer a hobby.

Five years ago, I dreamed that I would one day be able to write full-time.

And five years later, it’s happening. Or at least it will be when I’ve served my four weeks’ notice.

And then I’m going to lie on a chaise while a scantily-clad Adonis drops grapes into my mouth while dictating my amazing new novels to a harassed secretary. Oh, wait, have I stolen a Little Britain sketch there?

What I’ll actually be doing is writing but I’ll be able to do it every day. And I’ll be able to do it during the day instead of late on evenings or across weekends like I’ve had to since I started writing. Which means I may actually have some time to spend with my immediate (household) family, extended family (post lockdown) and actually find time to exercise the lard off my rather enormous writer’s bottom!

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Image by Alexas_Fotos from Pixabay 

I am so very grateful to the brilliant Boldwood Books and particularly my editor, Nia. Without my publishing deal with them, my dream would have remained just a dream. Their passion and enthusiasm has taken me from ticking over in the charts with a small number of sales each week to being an international bestseller who has sold 30,000 books (eBook, paperback or audio) through them since my first release in September last year. Wow!

I can’t help but smile at the words ‘international bestseller’ because, in my mind, that conjures up the likes of J K Rowling, Dan Brown, Catherine Cookson, Jackie Collins and Stephen King (picking from a mix of genres here). It’s not me! However, you are officially classed as a ‘bestseller’ if you get into the Top 100 on the Amazon charts and I’ve managed that:

Screenshot 2020-05-11 at 02.20.52The Secret to Happiness – #9 in Canada

The Secret to Happiness – #20 in Australia

New Beginnings at Seaside Blooms – #20 in the UK

Eeeeeekkkkkk!!!!!!!!

Leaving my day job is scary. I’m walking away from a decent monthly income. I’m leaving behind a career choice I made when I was eighteen (a loooong time ago!) My income from writing will be a small fraction of what I earn normally but that drop in income will be worth it for the joy of being able to spend time every day ‘making stuff up’ and finally getting a work:life balance.

To anyone with a dream like mine, keep holding onto it. It might not come to fruition quickly or easily. I’ve certainly had my fair share of rejection, disappointment, self-doubt, and more disappointment along the way. About eighteen months ago, I felt so down about things that I even wondered whether to give up completely. But I couldn’t not write. It’s part of who I am and I’d be lost without it. So I took a deep breath, tried not to cry too much about the many days with zero sales and the low chart positions despite the great reviews and keep believing that, one day, it would happen to me.

And it has.

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Image by Alexas_Fotos from Pixabay 

Roll on Friday 5th June – my very last day. Each webinar run, each assignment marked, and each query answered will take me a step closer to living my dream.

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Image by Gerhard Gellinger from Pixabay 

Thank you to everyone who has supported me and believed in me along the way, especially my amazing husband, Mark, and our daughter, Ashleigh, who have always accepted that I have two full-time jobs and not a lot of time.

Thanks to my mum – my biggest supporter who tells everyone she meets about her daughter, the author.

Thanks to all those who have ever beta read my work (in alphabetical order) – Clare, Liz, Debbie, Jo, Mum, Nicola, Sharon, Sue and Susan with an extra huge shout-out to Sharon who has been my shoulder to cry on, my champion and an inspiration. Can’t wait to meet up and eat (lots of) cake when we’re through the other side. Yes, I know that defeats the bottom-reducing plan but needs must!

And, of course, a huge thanks to so many amazing bloggers and readers, some of whom have been around since the start, through my indie years, and are still with me now and others who’ve just recently discovered my work and have been so lovely and supportive.

Every single one of you have made my dream come true and I can’t thank you enough.

Big hugs

Jessica xx

If you want to read my uplifting stories of love and friendship set on the stunning North Yorkshire Coast, or find out more:

My books are available on Amazon, AppleBooks, Kobo in eBook, paperback and audio formats. You can find my Amazon page here.

You can find my Boldwood Books on Audible here.

You can sign up to my newsletter here.

 

The one where Making Wishes at Bay View is published

Making Wishes Twitter 1It’s publication day today for Making Wishes at Bay ViewThis is my second release from Boldwood Books and the first re-release from my back-catalogue.

The first book in the four-book ‘Welcome to Whitsborough Bay’ series, Making Wishes at Bay View combines two previously published books –  the novella Raving About Rhys and the short sequel novel, Callie’s Christmas Wish.

The remaining three books in the series are going to be released over the next two months. On February 20th, books 2 and 3 will be out:

New Beginnings at Seaside Blooms (was Searching for Steven)

Finding Hope at Lighthouse Cove (was Getting Over Gary)

On 17th March, the final part of the series will be released:

Coming Home to Seashell Cottage (was Dreaming About Daran)

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Books 2-3 are currently still available for Kindle download only as their old titles but will be taken down from sale as soon as the brand new covers are available and will be replaced by pre-order links for the new versions.

All new titles will be available on all eBook formats, globally, audio, paperback and large print. The audio version of Making Wishes at Bay View is out now but the other three will all be released together on 17th March.

If you are a library user, they’ll all be available on the uLIBRARY App from Ulverscroft through libraries that support that App. Making Wishes… is available on uLIBRARY right now.

Clearly there are new titles across the series and there are also brand new covers. What else has changed?

The plot and characters remain the same as before. In theory, a reader could read a mix of the versions to get through the series and they won’t be confused. The new versions simply have a fresh edit. This could mean:

  • Some superfluous detail has been removed to tighten a scene
  • Some additional detail has been added to extend a scene
  • Tweaks to the flow of a conversation
  • Slight adjustments to the way a character reacts to something
  • A couple of removed scenes
  • A couple of new scenes

The changes very much vary from book to book.

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So what has specifically changed in Making Wishes at Bay View and do you need to read it again if you’ve already read Rhys and Callie?

It’s entirely up to you. If you loved the stories first time round and fancy meeting the characters again and seeing if you can spot the changes, then delve right in!

The plot is still the same as before and so is the cast of characters. No characters have disappeared and no new ones have been added in. Callie is still exactly the same although she’s now 25 instead of 21. Octogenarian, Ruby – my most favourite character ever – hasn’t changed at all. Iris is still in there and there’s a bit more banter between her and Ruby which I loved adding in. I wish those two existed in real life. I’d love to spend time with them!

The main change is Callie’s best friend and work colleague, Maria. I don’t want to give any spoilers for anyone who hasn’t read either version, but there’s a bit more detail about Maria and Callie’s friendship in Making Wishes at Bay View. Also, a couple of plot points involving Maria play out a little differently. I hope you like the changes.

IMG_7863How did I spend publication day?

I wish I could say that I had a lovely relaxing day celebrating but it was day job as normal for me. I marked 12 assignments and dealt with 15 student enquiries, slopped my lunch down my top, got crumbs all over my keyboard, and jumped every time the dog barked at someone passing. Standard day! What was lovely was occasionally breaking to share news on social media, thank others for sharing it, and eat a gorgeous box of biscuits that my publisher sent me with the book cover on!

I was a guest on my fabulous friend Sharon Booth’s blog, talking about how the combination of the books came about and why friendship is important in my stories. You can read the post here. And I was on the Boldwood Books blog talking about the inspiration behind my Whitsborough Bay setting. You can find that post here.

Making Wishes Blog Tour

My blog tour started with a lovely review from Joanne at Portobello Books Blog – read it here – who said: “Making Wishes at Bay View is a lovely read, one which I whizzed through as I was so taken with the characters, particularly Callie. It was lovely to return to fictional Whitsborough Bay again. Making Wishes at Bay View is a book which is sure to leave you with a warm feeling inside, a proper feel-good piece of writing.” Aw! Thanks Joanne.

I also had a lovely surprise from new ‘fan’ Little Miss Book Lover 87’s blog which made my day too. You can read that here. She said, “I knew that this was a fab book from very early on. This is another new author for me and I am already eagerly adding more books to my TBR. This is a book I devoured in hours and found it completely impossible to put down. I cannot say anything negative about this book, it is absolutely fantastic. Redland is able to pull the reader in and make it extremely hard for them not to fall in love with the story. This is a delightful read which I highly recommend to anyone who loves women’s fiction. I am definitely a huge fan after reading this book.” Actually, you probably don’t need to click into this one as that’s the full review! Lovely, isn’t it?

Thank you to everyone who has supported me up to and on publication day, the advance readers/bloggers who have left a lovely review on NetGalley, and anyone scheduled for the rest of the blog tour.

Have an amazing week.

Jessica xx

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