Celebrating four amazing milestones this week

This week, I’m celebrating four amazing milestones for reviews/ratings on Amazon.

The Secret to Happiness which was the book that secured me my publishing deal with Boldwood Books, released in September 2019, has reached 1,000 ratings/reviews. Woo hoo! I’m thrilled with that.

But there’s more…

Both Hedgehog Hollow books out so far – Finding Love at Hedgehog Hollow (book 1) and New Arrivals at Hedgehog Hollow (book 2) have hit a whopping 1,500 ratings/reviews. Eek!

I posted a couple of weeks ago about book 2 surpassing the number of reviews for book 1 and this has continued with New Arrivals hitting 1,500 before Finding Love, despite only being released in January this year compared to July last year for book 1.

This still surprises me and I have to assume that readers are joining the series at book 2 and feeling settled enough with the story that they aren’t going back to book 1.

For those who are loving their visits to Hedgehog Hollow, Family Secrets at Hedgehog Hollow is out on 4th May but available for pre-order now and I’ve just started to write book 4. This doesn’t have a title yet but will be out in January next year.

But it doesn’t end there…

My final milestone is a whopping 2,000 reviews for Christmas at Carly’s Cupcakes which was a re-release in August last year, although the title remained the same as before. Oh my goodness! TWO THOUSAND!!!!!

What’s even more special is that these aren’t just huge milestones; they’re milestones full of love for the stories with more than 90% positive reviews/ratings (4 or 5-star) and the majority of them being 5-star.

I’m so grateful to readers and bloggers/reviewers for sharing their kind words and recommending my stories to others. I look at these volumes of reviews and still can’t believe they’re for the characters and plots that I created. I’m so incredibly humbled and thankful xxx

Have a fabulous week.

Big hugs
Jessica xx

One book, one week, one hundred reviews

Oh my goodness! I can’t quite believe what has just happened! New Arrivals at Hedgehog Hollow, the second book in this series set in a fictional hedgehog rescue centre in the Yorkshire Wolds, only came out on Thursday last week (7th January) and it has just received its 100th review/rating on Amazon.

So that’s one book, one week, one hundred reviews. Eek!

It took me five years for the first of my books to hit the big 100! Granted, most of that time was pre-Boldwood when I was a struggling indie author and, as I’ve often said, Boldwood completely changed my life.

All my other Boldwood releases have steadily (sometimes quickly) gathered reviews and my two Christmas releases have both passed the 1,000 mark but the speed at which the hedgehogs have reached 100 is astonishing. One week?!

And, not only that, but it’s 100 reviews full of love. Two readers have given it a 3-star rating without review (which is classed as a negative rating on Amazon’s scale) but all the others have given 4-star and 5-star.

I know that won’t last – and that isn’t me being negative as the more reviews a book gathers, the more negative ones it will gather as it won’t suit everyone – but I’m certainly going to revel in it for now.

Thank you so much to my amazing editor, Nia. We’ve both been frantically refreshing our screens this afternoon as it was on 99 for a tantalisingly long time and we were really hoping to get to the 100 within the week! Goal achieved!

And, of course, thank you to everyone who has read and reviewed or rated New Arrivals at Hedgehog Hollow. You have made this author do a happy dance round her office today!

If you haven’t read it, click here to order it on Amazon and I’ve popped the blurb below. It’s also available on Kobo and Apple Books, as a paperback, large print, physical audio, audio download and via streaming services so oodles of ways to read or listen.

Big hugs
Jessica xx

New Arrivals at Hedgehog Hollow

New Arrivals at Hedgehog Hollow is the second book in the Hedgehog Hollow series and is best enjoyed after reading Book 1 – Finding Love at Hedgehog Hollow.

With new arrivals comes new responsibilities…

The sun is shining, wild flowers are blooming and Hedgehog Hollow is officially open for business.

For Samantha, the proud owner of this beautiful rescue centre, life has never been busier. But with an influx of new hogs and hoglets to take care of, not to mention a full-time job and ongoing family issues, can she accept the possibility that she has taken on more than she can handle?

Fortunately, she has the love of her life, Josh, by her side for support and encouragement. But Josh has his own family troubles to deal with. And soon he must decide if he’s ready to do the one thing he swore he’d never do – forgive his father.

For both Samantha and Josh it’s a season of change and for figuring out whether the past can ever truly be forgotten.

Escape back to wonderful Hedgehog Hollow with top 10 bestseller Jessica Redland for the perfect uplifting read full of love, hope and forgiveness.

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