I posted at the weekend that Family Secrets at Hedgehog Hollow had broken the record (for me) set by New Arrivals at Hedgehog Hollow by reaching the 100 milestone for reviews/ratings in 4.5 days instead of one week.
It has just smashed it again.
Today, on the one-week anniversary of the release of book 3 – the equivalent time when book 2 reached the 100 milestone – Family Secrets at Hedgehog Hollow has hit 300 reviews/ratings on Amazon (310 at the time of writing this).
Just a short blog post to say an enormous thank you to everyone who has left a review or rating including the fabulous bloggers on the ongoing blog tour. The hedgehogs are having a party!
My batch of paperbacks have just arrived too along with my large print edition. All three of the books are available as large print (left pic) and will all ultimately be available as hardback too but only books 2 and 3 are currently available in that format.
Signed copies of any of my individual paperbacks can be ordered directly from me by getting in touch via DM on social media. It’s £12.99 including P&P to the UK per book but I have deals on certain multiple purchases: a full set of 11 books, the Welcome to Whitsborough Bay series, the 2 x Christmas releases and will also be adding in a deal for the 3 x Hedgehog Hollow books purchased together.
As well as my paperbacks and large print book, there was another arrival: my latest furry hedgehog to add to my collection. He’s a limited edition Charlie Bear called Diddle Daddle. Isn’t he the most gorgeous? He can’t wait to dive into the Hedgehog Hollow series and read all about his friends!
Finally, it’s been lovely to add my gorgeous Book Crown onto Family Secrets at Hedgehog Hollow. It has been waiting patiently! If you love this, you can order this and stacks of other variations of charm and colour from Book Crowns on Facebook here. They do hedgehogs! I have one of those for Finding Love at Hedgehog Hollow and a gorgeous butterfly on New Arrivals at Hedgehog Hollow.
It’s the last day of the month and time to reflect on what’s happened in April…
I’ve had another month of not reading much as I’ve been deep in my editing cave (more on that later) but I have read an early copy of the first book in a new series from Nicola May. Nicola has had some phenomenal success, topping the Kindle chart for what seemed forever a couple of years back – an impressive feat anyway but extra impressive for an indie author. Her paperbacks now have a publishing deal and I was asked if I’d read Welcome to Ferry Lane Market. I thoroughly enjoyed it and it will be out in the summer so watch out for that. It’s available for pre-order on Amazon here.
I’ve also just started beta reading the final book in the four-strong Kearton Bay series, The Whole of the Moon, by super talented author (and bestie) Sharon Booth. It’s out at the end of May and it’s so fabulous to be back among old friends. You can pre-order it on Amazon here although I’d definitely recommend the full series. And all the rest of Sharon’s books for that matter!
The fabulous Line of Duty continues to grip hubby and me on a Sunday evening although last week’s episode was a little confusing as it felt like there was a plot hole. Hopefully it will all become clear in Sunday’s final episode. Will we discover who ‘H’ is? I would so love to think so but I’m pretty sure I’ve read that there’s another series to come so I suspect we might not.
I love watching The Hit List with the lovely Marvin and Rochelle Humes on a Saturday teatime. It’s a fun format so, even if you’re not into music, it’s worth watching. I love Rochelle’s facial reactions and how she clings onto Marvin in the final round when the contestants panic, their minds go blank, and the money starts slipping away from them.
Speaking of fun formats, I have a new viewing pleasure for a Saturday evening: I Can See Your Voice on BBC hosted by Paddy McGuinness with a celeb panel helping a pair of contestants deduce who from a line-up of six can sing and who can’t. Over a few rounds, they gradually eliminate 1-2 ‘singers’ and at that point we discover whether their sleuthing was accurate and they’ve eliminated someone who’s tone-deaf. When they get down to the final ‘singer’, the contestants win £10k if that person can sing but the ‘singer’ wins £10k if they are tone-deaf and have fooled everyone. I’d seen trailers and dismissed it as something I wouldn’t be interested in but then caught a clip on Gogglebox which looked great fun. We laughed so much on Saturday night when the final singer turned out to be completely off-key and the singer on the celeb panel – Ronan Keating that night – had to duet with her. If you haven’t already checked it out, I highly recommend it. Great family fun!
Finally, we managed a film this month but I’m still undecided about it. I saw it trailered a lot when it came out in 2018 and it had me intrigued, especially as it’s based on a true story: Welcome to Marwen. It stars Steve Carrell as aspiring artist Mark Hogancamp who was horrifically assaulted by a group of 5 men and left for dead. Brain damaged from the attack, he has no memory of his previous life and can no longer draw so he turns to photography, constructing a miniature WWII village called Marwen and creating stories using Barbie-like dolls. A lot of the film is played out by the dolls whose experiences, albeit in the WWII backdrop, mirror what Hogancamp is going through. Why did I struggle? Probably because so much of it was with the dolls. I wanted to know more about Hogancamp himself and what happened to his attackers when the case went to court but there seemed to be gaps. I’m probably missing the point and I’m sure others would feel that everything that needed to be told was told by the dolls but it just didn’t quite work for me personally.
It has been a crazy-busy month with writing. The edits came through for the final book in my backlist to be re-released: Charlee and the Chocolate Shop. I haven’t read this since it went up for publication in 2017 but it has had great reviews. My editor commented on how much my writing style has changed over the years and I was surprised at that as this was the 6th book I’d written and I thought my style had changed much earlier. When I re-read it, I had a bit of a shock! I’ll write a separate post with more detail about this but I wasn’t happy with the book. The story was still great but the way I told it needed work so it took me about six times as long to edit as it would have done if I’d just made the editorial tweaks here and there. I feel much happier with it so it was time well spent.
I also finished writing book 13 and it has been a huge struggle. Again, I’ll cover this in more detail in a future blog post but I knew something wasn’t quite right with it and had my suspicions as to what that might be. When the edits came back a week ago, those suspicions were confirmed. I had effectively tried to cover two stories in one book and, as a result, hadn’t given enough attention to either. The exciting news is this means a sequel which is already partially written but the challenging part for me is stripping one plot line out and stitching the story back together. Lots of hard work and re-thinking but it will be worth it in the end. My editor, Nia, is phenomenal. She is so insightful about what needs work but also so supportive and encouraging.
I’ve had some exciting events to celebrate in April:
AUSTRALIAN GOLD BOX – Seven of my books were in a special gold box deal on Amazon Australia where they are offered for the equivalent of 99p (or thereabouts) for a 24-hour period only. All but one of the books reached the Top 100 with one of them – The Secret to Happiness – peaking at #10 which was amazing. The only book that didn’t make it into the Top 100 wasn’t far outside and it was Christmas at Carly’s Cupcakes. Given the time of year, I wasn’t at all surprised it wasn’t storming the charts!
ALL YOU NEED IS LOVE – There was a BookBub promotion in the UK, Australia and Canada which saw Top 100 in Canada and Top 50 for Australia although it peaked at #127 in the UK. As this book had previously been out as Bear With Me, I wasn’t sure if it would climb so high so I was really pleased with these positions.
We think that the timing of Easter Sunday for this promotion and the Gold Box one may have had an effect on sales as I know of lots of people who were off social media and making it family time so, instead of seeing that as a negative, I prefer to think of it as even more impressive how high the books got considering it was Easter Sunday and there were so many other distractions.
SIGNED PAPERBACKS – I started selling signed copies of my paperback and had a really positive response with quite a few readers wanting the entire back catalogue which was lovely. I still have loads of paperbacks as I haven’t pushed it since so do DM me on any social media format if you’re interested.
REVIEWS MILESTONES – Making Wishes at Bay View and The Secret to Happiness both passed 1,000 reviews this month, meaning six of my books have now done so. The love for the hedgehogs is strong with both Finding Love at Hedgehog Hollow and New Arrivals at Hedgehog Hollow passing 1,500 and Christmas at Carly’s Cupcakes passing a whopping 2,000 milestone! Can’t believe how many reviews/ratings my stories have been gathering. Thank you so much to everyone who has shared the book love. It means the world to me xx
Restrictions have lifted and we met up with my parents at Thorp Perrow arboretum at the start of this month for a lovely (but very cold) wander around. I hadn’t seen them since October half term so it was brilliant to catch up in person although weird not hugging. Don’t like that 😦
Piano lessons have resumed face to face but I’m going to return to Zoom lessons from next week. I struggle for time to practice around writing and, to allow for traffic and roadworks getting across town to my lesson, I end up losing about 45-50 mins travelling. My daughter’s learning piano and she does this in a group lesson (although there are only 2 in her group). I think it’s important she has the face-to-face interaction but I don’t need it. I can already play (badly) and am rekindling the skill after a 30-year gap without touching the piano. I’m also playing for fun rather than exams so it’s a different set-up. My travel time can be devoted to practice instead and, as my piano teacher has to be at the opposite end of the room to me due to distancing, there is no benefit in us being in the same room.
On the way back from my first face-to-face lesson, I passed a local garden centre called Dean’s Garden Centre and decided to nip in to see if I could get some artificial spring flowers for my Insta posts. I managed that but was also surprised and delighted to spot Making Wishes at Bay View in there alongside some other Boldwood authors! When The Works stock our books, the print-run includes a number that are sold to another book distributor who sends them mainly to the USA and Canada. However, they can also be distributed around the UK and will appear in retailers with small selections of books such as post offices, garden centres, local supermarkets and so on. I feel I may also need to check out our other local garden centre soon in case there are any in there!
Other than that, I haven’t ventured out at all. I started to paint the fence a couple of weekends ago and managed 5 out of the 11 panels but I’ve been in my editing cave since then so it will be end mid-May before I manage the rest. Quite pleased with the result so far, though. Ella wasn’t impressed. She spent the time trying to eat a plant pot instead!
I have a busy May coming up. It’s my birthday tomorrow and publication day of Family Secrets at Hedgehog Hollow on Tuesday which is exciting (but nerve-wracking as it’s always scary awaiting the verdict!) I’m also getting my hair cut for the first time since December 2019 on Tuesday. Yay!
I have until the middle of May to finish the huge edit on book 13 and then I’m back to Hedgehog Hollow to write book 4 in the series; my 14th book in total.
Hope April has treated you well and, if it hasn’t, that May is kind to you.
Yesterday was publication day for Starry Skies Over The Chocolate Pot Cafe and, on the evening, I participated in a Facebook Live with my fabulous editor, Nia Beynon.
I was thrilled with the number of attendees and how many have watched the video since. If you would like to watch it, you can access it on Boldwood’s Book and Tonic Facebook page here.
There were some fabulous questions posed before the event and some great ones on the night. One came from the 10-year-old daughter of fellow Boldwood author, Emma Murray (do check out Emma’s witty and uplifting debut novel, Time Out, if you haven’t already done so – find it here). Ava asked: “Do you reward yourself for reaching writing milestones? And if so, what do you reward yourself with?”
My initial response was to say that no I don’t, but I probably should and then it struck me that there is something I used to do which I hadn’t really thought of as a reward for reaching a writing milestone yet it is exactly that. More on that later.
When my debut novel – New Beginnings at Seaside Blooms – was originally released in June 2015 (under a different title), I held a launch party for friends and family. I certainly wasn’t expecting presents but I was spoilt with flowers, bubbly and other gorgeous gifts. One of my friends, Carrie, gave me a leather thong bracelet with a Trollbead charm on it in the shape of three books. This was extra perfect for me as that novel was originally part of a trilogy (it is now the 2nd book in a 4-book series).
Carrie’s husband’s family owned a jeweller’s at the time but they were selling up as Carrie and her family were emigrating to Canada. We therefore took advantage of their closing-down sale and brought several more troll beads which I felt represented my writing journey so far.
The bracelet is now (almost) full and takes me from first putting fingers to keyboard until the publication of my last pre-Boldwood release. All of my back catalogue has already been or will be re-published by Boldwood so the only books not represented here are the ones that were new for Boldwood Books: The Secret to Happiness and Finding Love at Hedgehog Hollow. I need to decide whether to buy charms to represent them and squeeze them onto the bracelet, to start a new bracelet or to think of something different. Hmm. If I did stick with charms, a hedgehog is the obvious one for Finding Love… but I’m not sure about Secret. Again, hmm.
I’m so delighted that my friend brought me my first Trollbead. My bracelet of charms means so much to me. Going back to Ava’s question, I originally thought that adding a charm was simply to remember each book I published but it’s really to celebrate a major milestone achieved and all the highs and lows that may be experienced in getting that book out to publication. Thank you so much, Ava, for making that connection for me as I honestly hadn’t thought of it like that.
I hope you enjoy my journey through my Trollbeads. Do you do anything to celebrate milestones achieved, whether that’s relating to writing or any aspect of your life? I’d love to hear your comments.
PS Apologies for the formatting. It looked perfect until I uploaded it and I’m too lazy to change it as I haven’t got my head around the new block layout yet!