Finding Hope at Lighthouse Cove is in Audible UK’s 2 for 1 Credit Sale

In September, Audible offered New Arrivals at Hedgehog Hollow in their 2 for 1 credit sale. In October, they offered Family Secrets at Hedgehog Hollow. In November, they’re offering Finding Hope at Lighthouse Cove.

Finding Hope at Lighthouse Cove is the third book in the ‘Welcome to Whitsborough Bay’ series but book 1 – Making Wishes at Bay View – and book 2 – New Beginnings at Seaside Blooms – are already free to Audible UK subscribers as part of the Audible Plus programme so this is an opportunity to add the third book in the series to that at a big discount, just leaving book 4 – Coming Home to Seashell Cottage – at full price. So you can access the whole series extremely cheaply!

The ‘Welcome to Whitsborough Bay’ series is where it all started for me. New Beginnings at Seaside Blooms (book 2) was actually the first book I ever wrote and I’d never intended to write a series but, once I created the two best friends for protagonist Sarah – Elise and Clare – I realised they both had stories to tell and I had a trilogy on my hands. Book 1 was then a prequel which sets the scene in Whitsborough Bay and introduces a couple of the key characters.

Each book is a complete story and focuses on a different heroine each time. However, the story builds across the series and I would definitely urge readers/listeners to explore books 2-4 in order as they feature the same three women and reading/listening out of order gives massive spoilers. You can get away with exploring book 1 last, but there’s a richer experience from following the pure order.

The 2 for 1 credit sales last exactly a week so this will end at 23:59 on Saturday 13th November although there’s a handy countdown on Audible’s website showing when the deals change.

The two Hedgehog Hollow books rocketed into the Top 100, just outside the Top 50, when they were on offer so I’m wondering it Elise’s story will do the same. Fingers crossed!

Happy listening! Please spread the word.

Big hugs
Jessica xx

The blurb:

When it feels like everything is against you, sometimes you just need a little bit of hope…

Married to her childhood sweetheart for over twelve years, Elise feels like starting a family is the next natural step. However her husband, Gary, has other ideas…

Suddenly single, Elise is completely heartbroken and struggling to start over on her own. But when she’s enlisted to be bridesmaid to her best friend, Sarah, she has to put on a brave face, put her own feelings aside and find a way to get over Gary. Fast.

So when she meets handsome, recently-divorced, Daniel, she thinks he could be just what she needs. But why can’t she shake the feeling that he must be too good to be true?

Will she ever be able to take that leap and trust again?

An uplifting read of love, loss and finding yourself from top 10 bestseller Jessica Redland.

This book was previously published as Getting Over Gary

A happy dance for the Welcome to Whitsborough Bay series

I’m delighted to say that all four books in the Welcome to Whitsborough Bay series have now passed the 1,000 reviews/ratings milestone on Amazon and want to thank every single reader who has taken the time to leave a review or rating, especially if it’s a positive one!

Book 1 – Making Wishes at Bay Viewwas the first to get there quite a few months ago and has already passed the 1,500 milestone, next stop 2,000. This made sense to me as the first book in a series is often the most widely read.

Book 4 got there next – Coming Home to Seashell Cottageand is well on its way to the 1,500 milestone now. Again, this made sense to me as, reading the reviews, quite a lot of readers have referred to the whole series as though they have perhaps just rated the final one.

It was therefore a battle between New Beginnings at Seaside Blooms (book 2) and Finding Hope at Lighthouse Cove (book 3) as to which would get to 1,000 first. Seaside Blooms took that crown nearly a fortnight ago on 16th September and, at the time, Lighthouse Cove only needed seven more reviews to reach the milestone. But there were none the next day… or the day after.

Finally, today, book 3 was jubilant and hit the big 1,000.

Between the four books and the box set, there are well over 5,000 reviews/ratings on Amazon and 92% of those are a positive 4- or 5-star rating. I’m thrilled that readers have taken this series to their hearts and shown such love for Callie, Sarah, Elise and Clare’s stories.

No matter how many books I write, this will always remain an exceptionally special series for me as it’s where my writing journey started. I often get asked which my favourite book is and I love them all for different reasons.

Seaside Blooms, although book 2 in the series, is the first book I wrote so that will always hold a very special place in my heart. Seashell Cottage is probably my favourite story as I felt something shift in my author voice when I wrote that story, moving from a lighter romcom style into the deeper emotional women’s fiction category. Clare fascinated me as she arrived on the pages of Seaside Blooms all feisty, spiky and guarded and I didn’t know why. It was a wonderful thing unwrapping her story in book 4.

But I love Making Wishes because octogenarian Ruby is one of the most fun and fabulous characters I’ve ever created, and Lighthouse Cove has one of my favourite romances in it. So, yes, I love them all and I’m thrilled that readers do too. Thank you again.

A huge thank you also to my amazing publishers, Boldwood Books, and my brilliant editor Nia Beynon without whom I wouldn’t be celebrating milestones like this.

What a lovely start to the week. If you haven’t yet taken a trip to Whitsborough Bay, I hope you’ll be tempted to dive in.

Big hugs
Jessica xx

Celebrating three review milestones in two days

Some authors steer clear of their reviews and I can completely understand why. A negative review can be so hurtful and destructive that it can leave them unable to write for the rest of the day and sometimes even longer. I know that to be true as it’s happened to me.

But not all reviews are negative and it seems a shame not to read the lovely comments shared by readers who’ve loved a story. I feel they’re so special and something to celebrate. I therefore read every single review posted on Amazon, including the negative ones. The latter do still hurt but they are massively outweighed by the positives and I’ve been working hard to keep the negative few in perspective.

This week, I’ve been thrilled to reach review/ratings milestones for three of my books. Woo hoo!

Just under a month ago, I announced in my Facebook readers group that three books were heading for the 1,000 milestone and asked members which they thought would get there first:

New Beginnings at Seaside Blooms at 980

Finding Hope at Lighthouse Cove at 957

All You Need Is Love at 949

As the first two have been out a year longer and the rate of reviews had massively slowed, I did wonder if All You Need Is Love might just race ahead. It came very close but Seaside Blooms pipped it to the post. Just.

I logged on yesterday morning and New Beginnings at Seaside Blooms had hit the 1,000 mark.

And then, this morning, there was a surprise. A book not even previously in the race – The Secret to Happiness – had stormed ahead hitting the bigger target of 2,000!

Not to be outdone, All You Need Is Love also hit the 1,000 mark this morning. I knew the bears could do it!

Finding Lighthouse Cove isn’t far off the target either with 993 reviews/ratings at the time of writing this so hopefully we’ll be celebrating that milestone by the start of next week. Come on Lighthouse Cove. You can do it!

To all those lovely readers who have taken the time to share a review – whether detailed, a couple of sentences, a few words or even just a rating – I am so grateful. I get such a buzz out of reading all the gorgeous comments and it drives me to keep writing and wanting to bring you loads more books.

Please keep sharing the book love for all your favourite authors as you never know when a few kind words might be the lift they need at a time when they’re struggling with edits or deadlines, feeling disillusioned by lower sales or weaker chart positions, have been wounded by a negative comment, and may be questioning whether it’s all worth it. You really can make a difference. No pressure!

Big squidgy grateful hugs to you all
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

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

Celebrating a very special book birthday

It’s a busy end to the week as I was celebrating the publication day for All You Need Is Love yesterday and, today, I’m celebrating a special book birthday.

Today is one year since the final part of the ‘Welcome to Whitsborough Bay’ series was released through Boldwood Books. Woo hoo! Happy book birthday to the series!

The four-book series had previously been published under different titles and the rights were acquired by Boldwood as part of my original publishing deal. They all had a fresh edit and were updated for a quick-succession re-release between January and March 2020. My writing was largely undiscovered before joining Boldwood and the idea of four novels being released so close together was to build my name and create an appetite for the next part in the series.

This plan absolutely worked and I still can’t quite believe how well my debut series (which is also available as a boxset with additional exclusive content) has done during this year after five years of struggling to get noticed:

  • More than 130k copies of the books combined (across all formats) since being re-released by Boldwood
  • Nearly 3000 reviews/ratings on Amazon, 93% of which are 4 or 5-star
  • Making Wishes at Bay View (book 1) going into The Works
  • Making Wishes at Bay View being free book of the week on Apple UK and USA and reaching #1 on the free UK chart/#16 in the USA
  • Making Wishes at Bay View breaking the Top 100 in Australia and Canada
  • New Beginnings at Seaside Blooms (book 2) going into Prime Reading and reaching #14 in the overall UK Kindle chart
  • All the books making it into the UK Kindle Top 200 and staying there for the whole of the summer
  • Books 2-4 making it into the Apple Romance Chart Top 5 at the same time and the overall Top 25
  • Best seller tags for all books at the same time

I often get asked which of these books is my favourite and I love them all for a different reason:

  • Making Wishes at Bay View (book 1) was such a fun story to write and Ruby is one of my favourite characters. She was fascinating to create and I love the banter she has with Iris
  • New Beginnings at Seaside Blooms (book 2) was the first book I ever wrote. The main character, Sarah, is predominantly based on me and the premise of the story is a true-life event. As this was where it all started, this book will always have a special place in my heart
  • Finding Hope at Lighthouse Cove (book 3) is a lovely story of how to pick yourself up after everything in your life falls apart. I love Elise’s journey and I also love the way the friendship dynamics between the main characters in this series begin to shift. The relationships with friends and family are a very important aspect of my stories and often take centre-stage over the romance
  • Coming Home to Seashell Cottage (book 4) is Clare’s story and I have to confess it is my favourite as I love the plot. Clare arrived in book 2 as a spiky character with a mysterious past and here we discover why she’s the way she is. It’s a story full of twists and turns and I’m so proud of this book

I have amazing reviews for all the stories which makes me so very happy but New Beginnings at Seaside Blooms does have a few more negative reviews than the others. In some quite angry ranty 1 and 2-star reviews, Sarah is accused of being silly and her actions childish or selfish. While I completely accept that everyone likes different things and not everyone is going to love my work, I do feel sad that those readers have missed the point of a character arc. Sarah does make some some questionable decisions early on but her journey is one of learning from those and she experiences major character development over the course of the book.

At the start of the book, Sarah has stayed in a relationship for a year too long (not an abusive relationship; just one that isn’t right) and there are also reviews commenting on how ridiculous that is and that she should have just left him/nobody stays in a rubbish relationship for that long. Who are these people as I’d like to congratulate them? I am in huge admiration of anyone who can be in a long-term relationship and walk away just like that but I would suggest that the reality of most relationships is that walking away is not that easy. The person may be very aware that the relationship is not right for them but there can be a million reasons why they don’t walk away including fear of being alone, financial challenges, where to live, children, self-esteem, mental health and so on. Sometimes what lies on the other side doesn’t seem more appealing than what they already have. I know this because I was in a relationship like that. I knew it was wrong all along but I wasn’t in a place where I could deal with walking away. I know so many men and women who would admit to the same. Thankfully hundreds of readers do relate to Sarah, find her scenario very realistic, and are rooting for her all the way.

One of my aims for 2021 was not to be hurt by negative reviews and to remain focused on the positive ones and I’ve made great progress with this but I have to admit that I was a bit (a lot) wounded by a particular scathing 2-star review I spotted on Audible for New Beginnings at Seaside Blooms a couple of days ago. I’ve pasted it below as it’s quite a long review:

Ouch! There are so many interesting things about this review. Firstly, book 1 of the series is not the chocolate pot cafe (Starry Skies Over The Chocolate Pot Café). That particular story is set in Whitsborough Bay but is not part of the ‘Welcome to Whitsborough Bay’ series. It was written several years later. Therefore the last paragraph all about the links is inaccurate because there aren’t meant to be links. The Chocolate Pot is mentioned a couple of times in New Beginnings at Seaside Blooms because it’s on the same street as Seaside Blooms but, at the time the book was written, Tara and her story from Starry Skies… did not exist.

So if we remove the comments about the two books not following on from each other, we have that the story was ‘flat’ and ‘like the writer had a multi book deal and had to bang out something else.’ Wow! That’s a bit harsh! Every author starts somewhere and, although New Beginnings at Seaside Blooms is book 2 in the series, it is the first book I wrote as book 1 was written afterwards as a prequel/introduction to the world of Whitsborough Bay. Seaside Blooms is my debut – my first book baby delivered into the world and I am immensely proud of it. It does have twists and turns in it. They may not have the same shock/surprise as a couple of the revelations in Starry Skies… but they’re still there. When I started out writing, I intended to write romantic comedies but my ideas developed and my writing style developed and I now write contemporary women’s fiction. My later books are more emotional than my early ones and some of the plots are more intricate. It’s common and natural for a writer to adjust their style the more books they write. Their voice will develop and their confidence will grow and they may well experiment with style and genre. That’s not to say romcoms don’t have complex plots – they absolutely do – but my natural style moved away from the comedy and more into the angst although all my books are warm and uplifting and do still contain humour which balances the more emotional moments.

The real shame about this is that I have lost a reader/listener who clearly has some gripes about the story but, given a significant focus of the review is the lack of link to a story it’s not meant to be linked to, I can’t help feeling that this misunderstanding on the reader’s part has heavily influenced their contempt for this story. I’m trying to put myself in their shoes and, if I wrongly believed this was a follow-on from Starry Skies… I’d be confused too. The thing is, Audible clearly does show which books are in the series (see below), as do Kindle, Apple, Kobo, Fantastic Fiction…

Stung by this review – and thinking of the small number of negative ones for New Beginnings at Seaside Blooms – I decided to conduct a poll in my Facebook readers’ group asking members who’d read the full series to let me know which was their favourite. We’re talking a small sample here but the results were interesting:

  • New Beginnings at Seaside Blooms – 53%
  • Coming Home to Seashell Cottage – 32%
  • Making Wishes at Bay View and Finding Hope at Lighthouse Cove tied – 7%

Many of those who voted did add a comment that they absolutely loved all of them but I had pushed them to pick one as I was curious as to the results and it was both surprising and reassuring that more than half the vote went to the book that has generated the most negative comments. I’m going to focus on the hundreds who love it and thank them so much for sharing that love.

So happy birthday to the Welcome to Whitsborough Bay series and thank you to everyone who has bought/ borrowed/ downloaded any of the stories, loved them, and reviewed/ rated/ recommended them. You are absolute superstars. Callie, Sarah, Elise, Clare and the rest of the cast of characters in Whitsborough Bay send you hugs of appreciation.

And thank you to Boldwood Books and my amazing editor Nia for breathing fresh life into these stories and taking them to such a wide readership. I’m forever grateful.

Big hugs
Jessica xx

The one where I was Top 3 in Australia

I had a lovely moment a week ago when one of my Christmas books – Starry Skies Over The Chocolate Pot Café – secured a pretty fabulous chart position in Australia.

Last Thursday (5th November) it climbed to number 3! Eek! That’s number 3 in the overall kindle chart.

This is the highest chart position that any of my books have achieved anywhere in the world in overall rather than category charts, the previous highest being #9 in the Canada Kindle Chart for The Secret to Happiness last year.

Prior to that, my highest position in Australia was #11 with Finding Love at Hedgehog Hollow so it was really exciting to break the Top 10 and even more exciting to get into the Top 3 down under.

I’d be lying if I said it didn’t enter my head how incredible it would be to achieve the #1 position but I knew there was no chance and that wasn’t me being negative. The latest Jack Reacher outing written by Lee Child and his brother Andrew had just been released and was #2. I was never going to outsell Jack Reacher! The top slot was held by Imogen Clark’s The Last Piece. It was certainly a proud moment to be sharing chart space with them both.

Starry Skies Over The Chocolate Pot Café is currently on a monthly Kindle deal in Australia which will have helped propel it up the chart and I’m thrilled that, a week later, it’s still in the Top 50.

The first and third books in my Welcome to Whitsborough Bay series – Making Wishes at Bay View and Finding Hope at Lighthouse Cove – are also in Kindle monthly deals in Australia so are on offer there. (Making Wishes at Bay View) is also on a UK monthly deal just now. These deals are throughout November so still plenty of time to bag bargains.

Thank you to all those readers in Australia who made another writing dream come true for me. It’s certainly something I could never have imagined happening this time last year!

Big hugs

Jessica xx

My name’s Jessica and I have imposter syndrome – Part 3

We’re now midway through a week of blog posts about imposter syndrome. Here’s the plan for the series:

  • Monday – The theory behind it – what it is and how it manifests itself
  • Tuesday – Where it comes from and how mine started
  • Wednesday – How it affects me as an author
  • Thursday – Coping strategies
  • Friday – Recognising it in others and helping them

You can go back to read Monday’s post here.

You can go back to read Tuesday’s post here.

I explained yesterday how my imposter syndrome developed through bullying at school and in the workplace as well as when I first experienced it in the presence of famous/successful authors. Today I want to talk more about how it has affected me recently.

Yesterday, I finished with these words:

This year, my amazing publishers, Boldwood Books, have done things for my career as an author that have been beyond my wildest dreams. But that damn imposter syndrome has been there throughout every success like a fly buzzing around my ear, stopping me from enjoying every amazing moment.

I want to explain what I mean by that but, first, I need to recap on a couple of quick bits of theory as I’m going to refer to these. On Monday, I said that imposter syndrome manifests in these ways:

  1. Fear of failure – desperation not to fail so pushing for continued or bigger success
  2. Feeling like a fake – feeling like a fraud and waiting for someone to acknowledge the success has been a mistake
  3. Downplaying success – making out any achievements were nothing/luck/fluke

Yesterday, I talked about the three types of imposter syndrome that I demonstrate:

  1. The perfectionist – believes their work can always be better and focuses on flaws
  2. The superhero – feels they must push themselves to work as hard as possible to overcome feelings of inadequacy
  3. The expert – always trying to learn more and may focus on what they don’t know/can’t do instead of what they do know/can do

So let’s pull all of this together and talk about how it has affected my writing career.

As an author, I constantly have a fear of failure but I would suggest that most authors have this and it’s not unique to having imposter syndrome. Failure or rejection comes with the territory. In the same way that someone applying for a job might not secure an interview or might progress to interview stage but not be offered the job, authors will likely receive several rejections from publishers and/or agents during their search to find a home for their manuscript. It happens to most authors and it’s widely documented that exceptionally successful authors like J K Rowling and Stephen King, for example, had many rejections before finding their publishing home.

On an aside, isn’t ‘rejection’ such a horrible word? In my recruitment roles in HR, I was always trained to use the term ‘regret’ instead of ‘reject’. Same outcome but kinder sentiment.

It’s scary out there!

Anyway, it’s scary applying for a job/submitting a manuscript and knowing you might get that rejection but it happens to us all and we do have to accept it and develop some resilience because nobody sails through life getting everything they want when they want it. The difference between a general fear of failure and the fear from someone with imposter syndrome is how that fear of failure manifests itself once you’re successful because, remember, imposter syndrome is something that is associated with those who are doing well; not those who are on the first rungs of the ladder.

As it happens, when I started out submitting my debut novel to agents and publishers, I actually didn’t struggle with rejection because imposter syndrome wasn’t at work here. I was an aspiring writer with no books out there and therefore no readership, no reviews, no track record, simply wondering whether there was a chance my MS was good enough to be published. When a ‘no’ came back, I had a moment of disappointment then looked to see who was next on my list. I never shed any tears.

A few years later when I was a published author and looking for a new publishing deal, imposter syndrome kicked in and I took rejection very hard. I had an 8-strong back catalogue, a readership (small), sales record (limited) and reviews (small in number but mainly very good). It was limited success but it was success because I knew those who discovered my books loved them. Rejection at this point floored me. I could barely write. I could barely sleep. I felt low all the time and frequently broke down in tears. It wasn’t pretty. I even toyed with giving up but the perfectionist and superhero in me actually became a positive here, pushing me to keep trying.

And then I got my Boldwood Books deal. Yay!

Thanks to the amazing work from my brilliant editor, Nia, and the wider team at Boldwood Books, I started to climb the author career ladder at the back end of last year with the release of The Secret to Happiness and I clambered much higher this year. My stories became visible for the first time ever and a large readership built. 

Some achievements have included the following (all of which are UK and Kindle unless otherwise stated):

  • #1 Best Seller tags on all of my books which remained for weeks/months instead of for an hour or two
  • #1 Best Seller tags showing on 9 out of 10 of my books at the same time
  • Top 10 in Canada and Top 20 in Australia for The Secret to Happiness
  • #14 with New Beginnings at Seaside Blooms
  • #8 in the free chart, #15 in the USA, and #20 in Canada with Christmas at Carly’s Cupcakes
  • #1 in the free Apple chart and #16 in the USA with Making Wishes at Bay View
  • #86 with Finding Love at Hedgehog Hollow and over 250 reviews within 2.5 months of release
  • Top 200 for the remaining books in the ‘Welcome to Whitsborough Bay’ series and Top 100 on Apple
  • Several very successful blog tours
  • Two books in The Works
  • Lots of tweets, Facebook messages and emails from readers saying how much they’ve loved reading my books
  • Contract addendums to sign-up my remaining indie books, resulting in a total 12-book contract with Boldwood
  • 140,000 copies sold through Boldwood
  • 3 Kindle bonuses for pages read on my indie books that haven’t yet been re-released through Boldwood

Last year, before my first Boldwood release, all of the above felt like a distant unachievable dream. I sold very few books, had very few pages read, loitered anywhere between 20,000-120,000 in the UK Kindle charts and made zero impact overseas.

So, looking down that list of achievements, I should be bouncing up and down doing a happy dance, right? I should be grinning from ear to ear. I should be buzzing. Even better, all of this has enabled me to leave the world of HR and become a full-time author which is absolutely my dream come true. Writing full-time was always my goal. It was never about sales or reviews or chart positions; it was always about this thing that I’m so passionate about, that is completely part of me, being my job instead of the ‘hobby’ I squeezed in on an evening and weekend around a demanding day job.

But the only buzzing was that imposter syndrome fly in my ear saying: You don’t belong here. They’re going to find you out. No point enjoying it because it won’t last. Yes, classic imposter syndrome feeling like a fake.

I can’t deny looking at the above list that I have achieved writing success. If any of my author friends told me they’d achieved any of those things, I’d be so thrilled and excited for them. So why couldn’t I be for me?

Image by Bellezza87 from Pixabay 

Do you know what I tend to do if anyone mentions how well my books have done? I downplay success.

I was lucky. It was good timing. Boldwood re-released my ‘Welcome to Whitsborough Bay’ series just before we went into lockdown

People wanted escapism and turned to books so I was in the right place at the right time

There happened to be a free promo planned on Apple for book 1 in March and Apple USA decided to do it too

Amazon put book 2 in a Prime deal in May which pretty much guarantees a Top 100 so it was thanks to them that I got a #14

Yes, I was definitely lucky. Right place. Right time. Nothing to do with talent

And, as I read that commentary back, I’m telling myself some truths:

  • Apple USA wanted the free book deal for Making Wishes at Bay View (book 1) because they were so impressed with how the promotion had gone in the UK. It wasn’t necessarily about volumes of free books but about the rest of the series selling on the back of it. Which it did. Very well
  • Amazon only put books in Prime that they see as being the best because they want to offer a quality product to their Prime readers
  • New Beginnings at Seaside Blooms (book 2) would not have stayed in the Kindle Top 100 for four months solid if it wasn’t getting good reviews and recommendations
  • Readers would not have gone on to buy the other books in the series, keeping them all in the Top 200 for spring/summer if they hadn’t enjoyed the first ones

My logical mind is screaming: REJOICE! 

But imposter syndrome is screaming: BEST NOT. IT’LL ALL FALL APART SOON LIKE IT ALWAYS DOES.

As well as the imposter syndrome traits rearing their ugly heads, there are also the types of imposter syndrome at play:

The perfectionist in me was not impressed, wanting to push for bigger success and always somehow finding and focusing on the flaws:

  • You got to #14 in the UK Kindle chart. Hmm. It’s not Top 10 is it?
  • Books 1, 3 and 4 didn’t make it into the Top 100. Tut tut
  • Look! You got some 1/2/3 star ratings. One of your 1-stars says, “Absolute pish. I didn’t know it was possible to publish something so bad”. Wow! Take it in! You’re not all that, are you?
  • 9 out of 10 books with #1 Best Seller tags? 10 would have been more impressive

Argh!!!! Make the voices of doubt stop! 

Image by Pete Linforth from Pixabay 

While I was an indie author, I dreamed of cracking the Top 1000 but, the second it happened, I wanted Top 500. Then Top 200, Top 100, Top 50… those goalposts kept moving further and further away and, instead of celebrating each amazing achievement, I’d give myself a kicking for not reaching the next goal.

This summer, I became obsessed with chart positions, barely able to concentrate on writing because I felt the need to refresh my screen hourly to see if there’d been any change, feeling instantly deflated if any of my books dropped down the chart. When a book looked like it was climbing that evening, I’d frequently wake up during the night to check its position. This nocturnal activity also became obsessive after discovering that my books seemed to climb a little higher in the early hours.

I needed screen shots of everything. Even though authors can access something called ‘Author Central’ on Amazon which produces a graph showing the highest position achieved for each book each day, I felt that if I didn’t have the screen shot from Amazon rather than the bar chart on Author Central capturing the actual moment it was at the highest position, it was like it never even happened. Yeah, I know, I hear how mad this all sounds!

This was worst with New Beginnings at Seaside Blooms because, once a book is in the Top 100 on Amazon, the whole of the Top 100 is depicted visually. Instead of just seeing a chart position among the details about page length, publisher, publication etc, you can click into the chart and see a picture of your book alongside the rest of the Top 100. And it’s pretty exciting when you’re brushing spines with super-famous authors or perhaps even higher than them for a moment.

Image by Csaba Nagy from Pixabay 

The superhero was desperate to do better. Okay, so New Beginnings at Seaside Blooms didn’t make it into the Top 10 but could brand new book Finding Love at Hedgehog Hollow achieve thatThe obsession began again when it was released in July. It peaked at #86 in mid-August and even though I kept telling myself that it got to this position without a Prime deal and without being on a BookBub promotion which was brilliant, I couldn’t help feeling disappointed. Fear of failure crept in. You peaked with writing the Welcome to Whitsborough Bay series. They were the first books you wrote and you obviously can’t do better than that. You’re not improving. You’re getting worse. Why did you take a chance on a new setting when you knew readers liked Whitsborough Bay? What a muppet! 

Yet, even though Finding Love at Hedgehog Hollow didn’t get quite as high as New Beginnings at Seaside Blooms, it has stuck around in the Top 200 for 2.5 months and it has nearly as many reviews as Seaside Blooms which originally came out under a different name five years ago. Which must mean readers love it.

Yes, but, will they love the sequel? Imposter syndrome took a grip again as I wrote book 2 in that series: New Arrivals at Hedgehog Hollow. I had started to accept that readers had warmed to the new setting. The chart positions, the blog tour feedback and the reviews were all pointing in that direction but fear of failure set in again. What if book 2 doesn’t sell as well? It’s not as emotional as book 1 and if readers loved the emotional punch, they’ll be disappointed with book 2. It’s written in a different way to the Welcome to Whitsborough Bay series because it’s the same main character instead of a different character with each book. What if that doesn’t work? What if they say the Hedgehog Hollow series is okay but not a patch on my first series?

The voices of self-doubt made it extremely hard to write that book. Procrastination took over and, now a full-time author, I wasted full days staring at my Mac, obsessively checking chart positions, drifting in and out of social media yet not paying much attention to any posts. And panicking. Lots of panicking.

My deadline loomed and I have never missed a deadline in my life – the perfectionist would absolutely not allow that – so I knuckled down and somehow finished it by working a lot of long hours. I was actually pretty pleased with it. It wasn’t a sequel for the sake of it. I did have a good story. But was it as good as the first book? Jury was out. When my edits came back, there was quite a lot of work to do. The feedback was that the story itself was great (phew!) but the emotion of the story – my trademark – wasn’t coming across strongly enough and there were several other adjustments to make. I agreed. Every point my fabulous editor made was extremely valid and would definitely improve the book. But imposter syndrome was there.

I’d already edited eight books with Boldwood and this one needed the most work. Instead of systematically working my way through it, the expert focused on what I didn’t know/couldn’t do – you don’t have the ability to write a sequel involving the same character – instead of focusing on what I could do – you’re brilliant at writing emotion and all your books are linked so writing a series in whatever format that takes is absolutely your thing. You’ve got this! And this stopped me in my tracks. I found anything to do but tackle the edits.

I’m pleased to say that, after a lot of procrastination and down days, I did knock it into shape. Or at least I hope I have! I have a phone call with my editor this afternoon and will find out for sure.

Image by Gerd Altmann from Pixabay 

In the meantime, I’m back to square one. I’m meant to be writing book 3 but the challenges of editing book 2 and the self-doubt from that are stopping me from writing it. The perfectionist wants each book to do better than the one before and fear of failure is there in case it doesn’t and I’ll be outed as a fake. The superhero has me working evenings and 7-days-a-week to try to succeed, even though I shouldn’t need to work these crazy hours now that I write full-time. The expert keeps reminding me what I don’t know/can’t do and I can’t stop downplaying successes as luck/right place at the right time and nothing to do with ability to write. Procrastination is still rife.

Do you know what I did on Monday? I was meant to be writing but I had 8 coloured mini bulldog clips on my desk. I carefully clipped them together. Then I unclipped them and clipped them together in a different pattern. Then another. I now have a rainbow of bulldog clips sitting in front of me and I’m shaking my head. What the….? And all because imposter syndrome has me in its tight grip and I’m finding all the excuses in the world not to tell the story. The crazy thing is I have a great story to tell. It’s not like I’m struggling with ideas or anything like that!

Image by Victoria Loveland from Pixabay 

Last year, I graduated from Open University with a Masters in Creative Writing. Even that was driven in part by imposter syndrome. There is absolutely no requirement whatsoever for an author to have a qualification in creative writing yet I felt I needed one to prove that I was an expert if I ever made it. I want to use my skills as a trainer and tutor creative writing in the future. Again, no requirement to have a MA in it but I convinced myself I wasn’t good enough if I didn’t because my writing career at the time (pre-Boldwood) wasn’t enough to give me any credibility so I needed something.

I took a superhero approach to studying, working super-long hours to do my MA, hold down my demanding full-time job and still write. I was a perfectionist with my assignments, gutted if I got less than a distinction. But I’m already a published writer and I’ve studied my craft for years. How can I only get a pass or a merit?

Yes, I hear it, I see it, I know it all sounds bonkers but this has been my day to day existence, constantly berating myself for not doing better, pushing myself to do better all the time, worrying it will all end soon, rendering me unable to enjoy all the positives. Of course, there is a little thing called Covid loitering in the background which I think is exacerbating all these feelings because, let’s face it, I am soooo sick of these four walls! Aren’t we all?

I’ve realised this can’t continue and, although it will be a long journey, I have already taken some steps to stop imposter syndrome controlling my life and that’s what I’m going to talk about tomorrow. I’ll share some more examples of my erratic behaviour/thoughts to help illustrate the changes I am making or trying to make.

If you’re recognising the traits or types in yourself, hopefully tomorrow’s post will help you in some way. I know that writing it down has already helped me massively. That and a big hug from the hubby who has just been reading yesterday’s post. I love a hug, I do. So here’s one for you…

Big hugs

Jessica xx

The one where I remember the Top 40 singles chart

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Image by Pexels from Pixabay

When I was young, Sunday was ‘visiting day’; the day where we had our Sunday lunch then bundled into the car and visited my mum and/or dad’s family who lived about 35 miles away. It wasn’t every week but it was regular.

IMG_6892We’d stay for tea at my grandma and granda’s house or occasionally dine with or visit other relatives. Tea was always afternoon tea-style food with sandwiches and scones and cakes. Lovely. Ooh, I could just fancy a bit of cake right now. Nom nom.

On the way home in the car, we’d catch part of the UK Top 40 Singles Chart on BBC Radio 1. We’re talking the late 1970s and most of the 1980s here and this was way before the days of digital downloads. In fact, most of that time was before CDs, with the charts compiled purely on the sale of vinyl records. Showing my age here!

In those days, singles would typically enter the charts and gradually climb up week on week, sometimes only one or two chart positions at a time. It would be exciting listening out for whether our favourite records would have gone up that week and, if so, how far and it would be so disappointing if they’d dropped, especially as that would typically mean the song wasn’t played.

What was even more exciting was predicting who’d be in the Top 3. One of the DJs – can’t remember which one now – used to get listeners to phone in with their predictions.

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Image by Martin Ludlam from Pixabay

Many amazing records didn’t make it to number 1 but still sold in significant quantities and the ones that did make it to that coveted position often stuck around at the top slot for weeks. Anyone remember Bryan Adams being at number 1 for eight years with ‘(Everything I do) I do it for you’? from the film Robin Hood: Prince of Thieves? Okay, so it was 16 consecutive weeks really but it felt like eight years although I never fell out of love with that song despite it being played constantly. This was 1991 and Bryan Adams still holds the record (literally) these days for having the longest number of consecutive weeks at number 1 in the UK.

You might be wondering where I’m going with this on a blog predominantly about writing and I promise there’s a link!

Over the past month or so, the four books in my Welcome to Whitsborough Bay series have been steadily climbing up the Kindle charts and, over Easter, I blogged about how excited I was that they’d all received a best seller tag for at least one of their categories and that they’d all broken into the Top 1000 with Book 2, New Beginnings at Seaside Blooms, storming ahead at #352 on the morning of 10th April. You can read that blog post here.

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Breaking the Top 1000 was so exciting for me. All the books had previously been released under different titles across 2015-2016 and, after my publisher ceased trading, I re-released them as an indie author. They had never got anywhere near this type of chart position so this was an absolute dream come true. But it kept getting better. By late April, they’d all cracked the Top 500 and, a week into May, they’d all cracked the Top 400 with the trailblazer, Seaside Blooms, making it into the Top 100 at #91 on 5th May. Wow!

Screenshot 2020-05-05 at 23.14.38It didn’t end there and this is where the chart connection comes in. Once a book makes it into the Top 100 on Amazon in any chart – including category charts – then you can see all the books in that Top 100 displayed beautifully in a chart showing the covers rather than just a number at the bottom of the book details.

It’s a lovely visual representation of how your book is performing and which authors have the books out either side of yours.

Screenshot 2020-05-10 at 20.08.24New Beginnings at Seaside Blooms made it to #51 in the overall Kindle chart a couple of days later on 7th May and suddenly a new milestone of Top 50 seemed realistic. The next day, it got to #42. Was the Top 40 possible? Yes, the following day, it reached #32. But that meant another potential milestone of Top 30. Could it? Would it? The day after – Sunday 10th May, it did. And, not only that, it also reached the Top 25 on the same day. Eek!!!!!

I will admit that, by this point, chart-position-watching had become a bit of an obsession. I think all ‘firsts’ are for writers. I remember staying up until midnight on the day of my first release to watch it arrive on my Kindle. I don’t do that now.

The charts are meant to get refreshed hourly but my experience is they don’t seem to – more like bi-hourly or even every three hours. I couldn’t sleep at night, waking up every couple of hours, wondering if I’d have made it even higher. I am still shattered from several days of doing this. I have, thankfully, got it out of my system now. I wasn’t setting an alarm or anything like that – I’m not that desperate – but it was like my body clock would go, “Right, you, a couple of hours have passed so it’s time to get up and check the charts”. So up I got and padded into my office across the landing to see where I was.

In the very early hours of the Monday morning, I hit #20. Top 20!!! Yay!!!!

But, of course, I wanted more. That’s the problem with achieving a goal; you instantly make a new one! Could I actually get inside the Top 20 into the teens?

It didn’t look like it. On Monday 11th May, Seaside Blooms began to drop to the mid-twenties. Boo. But 20 was absolutely amazing and when it first dipped inside the Top 1000, I’d never have dreamed of reaching that sort of number.

Like the UK singles chart where records go up and down, Seaside Blooms did the same. A good friend of mine tagged me on Facebook on Wednesday 13th May with a screenshot to show #19. I’d done it! I’d made it inside the Top 20 and figured that surely it would end there, especially when it began dropping again.

Up and down, up and down, it gradually moved towards the Top 10 with the highest position to date – #14 – being secured on Sunday 17th May. At some point over the past few weeks, it has held every single position from 14 to 30!

My mum and husband were convinced I’d make it into the Top 10 still but, with a few days having now passed since hitting #14, I think Seaside Blooms has definitely peaked. Although I thought that at #20 and, a few days later, it hit #19 so you never know.

Meanwhile the other three books are all doing me proud:

  • Making Wishes at Bay View (Book 1 in the series) is currently at a personal best of #157. Top 150 next?
  • Finding Hope at Lighthouse Cove (Book 3) has a PB of #182 from Monday but has mainly hovered around #200 since then. I’m hoping it will follow Book 1 and 2 nearer the top of the charts as readers steadily work through the series
  • Coming Home to Seashell Cottage (Book 4) achieved a PB of #214 earlier today so I’m hoping it will break the Top 200 soon. It would be so amazing to have the entire series in the Top 200 together. Even better if they were in the Top 100 together! I achieved that on AppleBooks UK back in March with all of them being in the Top 75 at the same time which was another really thrilling moment.

I am absolutely delighted and so very grateful to my amazing publishers, Boldwood Books, for giving me this opportunity and to all the readers who have helped the series rise. I will admit, though, that it doesn’t feel real. When I was at #14, it didn’t feel possible that only 13 books in the UK out of the millions of eBooks on Amazon were higher in the charts than mine. As I’m typing this, it feels like something that must be happening to someone else; not to me.

Without wishing to sound pessimistic, I don’t think this is something that will happen to me again unless one of my books is on something like a BookBub promotion. I think a combination of factors have all come together at the same time to lead to the current positions enjoyed by Seaside Blooms:

  • Lockdown Time – people have the time to read a lot more and sales of eBooks have rocketed
  • Lockdown Comfort – readers want escapism and they want books that will uplift and hug them, which is what I write
  • Whole Series – because these are re-issues, the whole series are out at the same time, creating an appetite for binge-reading and more so during lockdown
  • Prime Deal – Seaside Blooms is currently on a Prime deal so lots of Prime members are downloading it too

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I don’t have another whole series in my back catalogue to re-issue and I hope we are never, ever in a scenario of lockdown ever, ever again so the above set of circumstances won’t happen again. Or at least I hope the lockdown scenario doesn’t happen again.

Going forwards, I will never forget the moment I broke every goal I dreamed of and those I hadn’t even dared to imagine.

I’ll never forget that unreal moment at 4am, lying back down in bed thinking, ‘I’m at number 14 in the charts!’ and having to fight the urge to wake up hubby to tell him.

I’ll never forget watching my books steadily moving up the charts, just like when I listened to my favourite songs moving up the charts on ‘visiting day’ as a child.

And I’ll never forget those who I’ve been unable to visit for many years. RIP, Granda Wiseman, Grandma and Granda Williams, Uncle Stan, Uncle George and Auntie Olive. Sending love and I hope I’ve done you proud.

Jessica xx

The one where I’ve nearly topped the AppleBooks chart

Apple BOTW Making WishesHave you ever achieved something that wasn’t even a goal of yours because it seemed so out of reach that having it as a goal would have been too unachievable? I’ve done that this month and it’s been the gift that keeps on giving.

Making Wishes - Apple Promo BannerFor week commencing 9th March, book 1 in my ‘Welcome to Whitsborough Bay’ series, Making Wishes at Bay View, was the AppleBooks Free Book of the Week. This meant that it appeared on a scrolling banner on the AppleBooks home page and immediately topped the free book chart. Exciting!

What was more exciting was the impact this had on the rest of the series. Books 2 and 3, New Beginnings at Seaside Blooms and Finding Hope at Lighthouse Cove were placed on a 99p promotion on AppleBooks and, on the Thursday of that week, the final instalment, Coming Home to Seashell Cottage, was released for £1.99. So a reader could buy the entire 4-book series for less than £4. Super duper bargain!

Jessica Redland Series Pricing

All books on Amazon show the chart position for the whole chart and the specific category charts. On AppleBooks, you can only see your chart position when you enter the top 200. I eagerly watched the chart, hoping the rest of the series might break the top 200 and was so excited when they did. But across the course of the week, they gradually crept up that chart and did things I never dreamed they’d do.

I was beside myself with excitement when New Beginnings at Seaside Blooms made it inside the Top 10 in the Romance Chart and reached number 37 in the overall chart by the Friday of that first week. But it didn’t stop there…

Last week saw books 2-4 all reach the Top 10 on the Romance chart … and then the Top 5! Wow! New Beginnings at Seaside Blooms peaked at #2, Finding Hope at Lighthouse Cove reached #3 and Coming Home to Seashell Cottage made it to #5.

Books 2-4 - No 2, 3 & 5 in Paid Romance Chart

But they weren’t finished there. I couldn’t believe it when my editor emailed to say that New Beginnings at Seaside Blooms had made it to #6 on the overall chart i.e. all categories joined together. Then it crept up to #5. Then #4. At the time of writing, it’s still at #4 although that does change from day to day. Finding Hope at Lighthouse Cove made it as high as #13 just today and Coming Home to Seashell Cottage made it to its highest overall chart position of #24.

You can click onto ‘Top Authors’ in the AppleBookstore and I actually appear on there. But look who I appear alongside! Oh. My. God!!!! Never in my wildest dreams would I have imagined this.

Top Authors Visual - Showing all R Authors

Screenshot 2020-03-27 at 19.40.29Apple don’t hold anywhere near the share of the marked that Amazon have with Kindle but it’s a growing market and I am beyond thrilled that my series is right at the top of the charts just behind or ahead of huge household names like James Patterson, Dean Koontz and Hilary Mantel, including some of my absolute favourite authors – Paige Toon and Lisa Jewell. Feels like some sort of surreal dream to see one of my books right next to Lisa’s when I’ve been a huge fan of her writing for years.

Making Wishes - No 131 in Paid Apple ChartAnd it doesn’t even end there. Despite thousands of readers downloading Making Wishes at Bay View, it has still charted, making it to #131 at the highest so far in the whole chart. And my first Boldwood release, The Secret to Happiness, has also charted again with #160 in the overall chart and as high as #30 in the Romance chart. Eek!

So, in the last few weeks, dreams that weren’t even dreams for me have been achieved and, in these strange and troubled times, I’m so grateful to my amazing publishers, Boldwood Books, who gave me this opportunity to stand out. This gift that keeps on giving has been such an amazing tonic, making me smile instead of cry, and I hope that these books have brought some comfort to those needing and welcoming an escape.

Will they ever make it to the #1 slot. I don’t think they will. You’d probably hear me screaming if they did! Thank you everyone who has made this possible.

Sending much love to you and your families to stay safe.

Jessica xxx

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