The one where I become an international bestseller

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All writers have dreams and I’m no exception. Yet this week I achieved a dream that actually wasn’t even a dream. It felt like something so out of reach that I’d never even contemplated it for my wish list so I was astounded and thrilled when I became an international bestseller last night. Eek!

My new-found status comes on the back of a BookBub promotion in Australia and Canada. BookBub promote eBooks for free or bargain prices to their 10 million subscribers. The Secret to Happiness was offered for $1.64 in Australia and 99 cents in Canada. The promotion didn’t kick in until mid-afternoon yesterday but, once it started, it was so exciting refreshing the Amazon and Apple Australia and Canada sites to see progress.

It was particularly lovely for me to have a BookBub in both of these countries because I’ve visited both and it’s brought back fond memories…

IMG_7140CANADA

When I was 8, I visited Canada very briefly. And I mean very briefly as in for a few hours. My family went on a big holiday to the USA and took in Niagara Falls as part of that trip so we disembarked the Maid of the Mist on the Canadian side for an explore.

Twenty-five years later, I returned for my honeymoon and, this time, it was a few weeks instead of a few hours.

Hubby and I married in late September so we were actually in Canada this time 14 years ago. We decided to focus on British Columbia, starting in Vancouver.

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Whale-Watching on Vancouver Island

We spent a few days there, then caught a seaplane to Vancouver Island where we stayed for a few nights. After another night back in Vancouver, we took The Rocky Mountaineer up to Jasper. Such a beautiful place.

After a few nights there, we hired a car and made our way to Banff via Lake Louise where it started to snow.

The hills and mountains were all covered in snow and some of the roads to more remote lakes were already closed off ready for the heavy snowfall.

Our final stop was Calgary although we much preferred Jasper, Banff and Lake Louise.

 

We were hoping to go to Canada again for hubby’s 50th next year but he’s a keen photographer so wants to time it right for good photos, which doesn’t time right for school holidays. We may need to postpone a few years when our daughter has finished school. It’s such a stunning part of the world and the people are so friendly.

And there are lots of bears. We saw a few from the window of The Rocky Mountaineer which was amazing. Looking through the photo album, I noticed a bit of a trend of me having my photo taken next to stuffed or wooden carved bears. Good times!

Amazon Canada No 9 in Paid ChartBack to the BookBub promo in Canada, here’s a few stats:

Starting position #256,592 on Amazon Canada

Ending position #9 in the overall Amazon Canada Paid Chart

Achieved #1 bestseller in all these categories, some of which are slightly dubious but it’s Amazon’s algorithms at work and out of our control:

  • Clean & Wholesome Romance (hmm, not quite)
  • Holiday Fiction
  • Holiday Romance
  • Mashup Fiction
  • Sea Adventures (Yo ho ho and a bottle of rum me hearties!)
  • Sea Stories
  • Small Town & Rural Life

On Apple Canada, the top position reached was #7 in the overall chart and #3 in the Fiction & Literature chart.

Apple Canada No 6 in Paid ChartThank you so much, Canada. Yesterday was actually Thanksgiving in Canada. We were in Jasper for Thanksgiving on our honeymoon (it fell on 10th October) and, at that time, I had written about half of quite a poor novel. As we tucked into our Thanksgiving meal and celebrated with the locals, I never dreamed that 14 years later, my tenth book would make it to the top ten of the Canada charts! I am very thankful to the readers in Canada for helping The Secret to Happiness to soar so high.
AUSTRALIA

IMG_7132Twenty years ago, one of my best friends, Catryn, asked me if I’d like to go to New Zealand with her to visit her sister who’d emigrated out there. Yes please!

If we were going to travel to the other side of the world, we decided might as well go for a month and take in Australia and Bali too. Yeah, I know! Way too ambitious. In a month, we’d have only covered a small part of New Zealand or Australia alone, never mind both of them and Bali too! It worked out roughly at 10 days in NZ, 10 days in Aus, and 6 in Bali.

We spent February 2000 there and our trip to Australia was split between Sydney, Alice Springs/Uluru, and Cairns/The Great Barrier Reef. The weather was very inclement. It was overcast when we visited The Sydney Opera House and horrendous when we went to Uluru. You know when you see photos of people at Uluru and it’s a vibrant red/orange colour with a bright blue sky behind it? That wasn’t us.

Our trip took in a fairly nice sunset the evening before but our actual visit to the rock the following day was in a thunderstorm! We had to wear bin liners and negotiate floods as we made our way around the base.

Climbing the rock wasn’t an option as it was too dangerous. In some ways, I was quite pleased about that because I was having a moral dilemma about whether to climb or not. Part of me wanted to climb for the experience but a bigger part of me didn’t want to because I knew that the traditional owners wished against this in respect of their laws and culture. I didn’t think I had the right to over-ride that. I actually thought that the climb had since been stopped permanently but I Googled it and have discovered this will finally happen later this month.

We were actually lucky to get to Alice Springs and out to Uluru at all because the previous trip had been cancelled due to flooded roads.

The weather didn’t improve for a few days diving on The Great Barrier Reef either. The reef was all churned up and choppy and looked more like The North Sea than the stunning turquoise images we’re used to seeing.

It was an amazing experience, though, and I’d love to go back one day but take more time. Oh, and I wish I was as fat now as I thought I was when I was there. It’s scary how you can perceive your own body. I thought I was enormous. Hmm.

Onto my BookBub promotion in Australia. Being ten hours ahead of us, it was only late evening when I started moving up the Australian charts and I had a feeling it was going to be the early hours of the morning when it peaked and I’d miss it. I couldn’t stay awake, though. After retiring at about 12.45am, I awoke again around 3.00am and was thrilled to see I’d made it to #22 although I rose a little higher earlier today.

Amazon Australia No 20 in Paid ChartStarting position #174,463 on Amazon Australia

Ending position #20 in the overall Amazon Australia Paid Chart

Achieved #1 bestseller in even more categories, some of which are also slightly obscure:

  • Family Life Fiction
  • History (very random)
  • Holiday Fiction
  • Holiday Romance
  • Mashup Fiction
  • Parenting & Relationships
  • Sea Adventure Fiction
  • Sea Stories
  • Small Town & Rural Fiction
  • Travel
  • Women’s Fiction About Domestic Life

On Apple Australia, the top position reached was #26, and #7 on the Fiction & Literature Chart.

Apple Australia No 26 in Paid Chart
Thank you so much to all those readers in Australia who downloaded The Secret to Happiness and helped it get so high.

I cannot thank my publishers, Boldwood Books, enough for the amazing job they are doing in promoting and supporting all their authors. As I said right at the start, this wasn’t even on my radar as a dream so I am quite overwhelmed. It’s very likely the chart position will drop now that the promotion has ended but I’m thrilled to be able to say I got there and I have a million screenshots to prove it!

Jessica xx

What’s your favourite word? And which ones make you grimace?

_MG_5249I recently came across a blog devoted to the word “moist” and how much the writer – and many others – hate this word. It brought a smile to my face as it’s a word that one of my good friends, Catryn, absolutely loves. I understand why some hate it because it tends to be used in quite a dirty context. But I have to admit, it’s a word I find quite amusing.

I have a word that I love: undulating. Don’t ask me why; it just has a gorgeous sound to it. From where we live, there are a few different routes to drive into town and one of them’s a country lane which is very undulating. My daughter loves it because it makes her belly go up and down like a rollercoaster and I love it simply because it’s undulating!

_MG_5264There are other words I really love too like scrumple, gargantuan, drenched and ditzy. The thing all of these words – and undulating – have in common is that they sound like the thing they describe. At first I was thinking this is onomatopoeia. (Now that’s a tricky word to spell but a beautiful word to say). But I think that’s words like splash and bang and plop which do actually make the sound of the word. I do think undulating and gargantuan sound like what they describe … but perhaps that’s because I know what they are.

I’m sure I’ll think of loads more words I love when I’ve posted this. Ooh, grimace is another one.

However, it also works in the reverse. Many of the words I hate also sound like the thing they describe: insipid, lubricate, smear. I don’t like the colours grey and taupe. Actually, I have nothing against the colours themselves; I just can’t bear their names! Such incredibly dull, boring words. And nobody can seem to pronounce the latter one; torp or toap? I have put “lol” on there in honour of my writing friend, Jo, who hates it as a phrase. For me personally, I don’t mind the phrase providing it’s not overused but I do hate it when people actually say “lol” as a word in a normal sentence. Shudder.

_MG_5248Of course, there are other words I don’t like that are rude and I didn’t want to spell them out on my scrabble board but I’m sure a few have popped into your heads already.

Returning to lovely words, I did a quick straw poll on Facebook a short while ago. My good friend Jackie responded with several corkers: mermaids, serendipity, pelagic, odyssey and zephyr. I love serendipity both as a concept and a word. Wasn’t quite enough room for it on my scrabble board! She also said “arse”. Now arse is a hilarious word which has provided Jackie, Catryn and me with hours of entertainment. Many years ago, Catryn and I were on holiday in Turkey and we invented “the arse game”. This involves finding as many words as possible with the word arse in them like gl-arse, arse-pedistra, p-arse-ly and so on. However, you do need to say the “arse” part in a Bristol or Devonshire accent. It has a far greater impact that way. We taught it to Jackie when we met her on a diving holiday and, between us, we’ve taught it to loads of people. What was hilarious was that Catryn went out to Egypt to dive one year and someone on the dive boat tried to teach it to her! It was our legacy and a proud moment. Very childish. Very funny.

Anyway, other suggestions included “strewth!” from my friend Sharon “with the emphasis on the !” I suspect she may be having a bad day. “Tibbletastic” came from my friend Karen whose surname is Tibble so I suspect she’s made that one up (although it should be a word cos it’s fabulous) and “chocolate” from my cousin Janice. Amen to that. And another friend, Carole, joined in with squidgy (love that word!) and doppelganger. Nice choices ladies 🙂 My best friend from school, Susan, suggested Timbuktu and merry-go-round. Fabulous words. And former work-colleague Sharan came up with some gems: flabbergasted, genesis, chanel (and coco!), quintessential, Mississippi and tea (as a word and a beverage). Lovely words. Thank you all for contributing.

My friend Liz said she didn’t have a favourite word but she does sign language and she had a favourite sign which is the one for “fire”. Unfortunately that’s not going to translate here but thanks for playing, Liz. My older brother, Mike, was a late-comer but he was rude. I loved one of the words he suggested but my husband looked it up. Yep, not going to put that in the post! My younger brother, Chris, suggested music and beer. I’d say that both brothers were very predictable 😉

_MG_5268What are your most loved and hated words and why? And if you can think of an arse word, do join in and play the game! I think we’ve exhausted them but are always excited about the possibility of discovering a new one. The gauntlet is laid down!

Photos are copyright of my talented husband, Mark Heslington and huge apologies to Mark for missing the ‘h’ out of drenched so that he had to put the board together again for me after he’d done all the photos. Oops!