Thank you to all the reviewers who showed the love for All You Need is Love

Yesterday saw the final stop on my 12-day 36-stop blog tour for my latest release All You Need Is Love and I’m delighted that it was another really successful tour.

Blog tours are such a great way to celebrate the launch of a book. They create a buzz as well as gathering valuable early reviews and, several tours down the line, I still get excited when a new review appears and I can read the verdict (with fingers crossed that it’s a positive one).

I’m delighted to say that the verdict for All You Need Is Love was overwhelmingly positive. Yay! Not all reviewers put a rating on their posts but as a rating is necessary for an Amazon or NetGalley review, I was able to do a little detective work and suss some out. There were only 2 out of the 36 I couldn’t track down. For the remaining 34, there were:

  • 26 x 5-star
  • 1 x 4.5 star
  • 6 x 4-star
  • 1 x 3-star

I think I’d definitely call that a success!

A huge thank you to my amazing publisher Boldwood Books for enabling the tours, particularly Nia and Ellie, and to the fabulous Rachel Gilbey from Rachel’s Random Resources who does such an incredible job of organising and managing the tours.

All You Need Is Love was previously available under the title Bear With Me and had been on a blog tour organised through Rachel when I was an indie author. Therefore, a few bloggers/reviewers who have always been hugely supportive of my writing didn’t participate as this was not a new book to them. It was great to see several familiar faces who’ve discovered my writing since joining Boldwood and a few who were new to my stories.

And thank you too to all of those who’ve spread the word on social media. It’s really appreciated.

This is a story about two people who have loved and lost in very different circumstances and it’s also about a life-changing illness diagnosis. It is emotional and the blurb doesn’t hide that. But, as with all of my stories, it is uplifting and full of hope. Only one reviewer found it too emotional but, thankfully, all the others loved it.

Here’s a handful of my favourite quotes. I could have easily included something from every review as there were so many lovely, kind comments. The bears and I were certainly feeling the love:

“I couldn’t get enough of this beautiful story.  Jessica Redland managed to create a story which accurately reflects the title.  After reading, I genuinely believe that love could be all you need” (Book Escapes With Babs W67)

“This is a powerfully emotive story that tackles some series deep issues, and as much as i love a light hearted seaside read this is so much more because of the nature of it… This was a wonderful read that really packs a punch” (AfternoonBookery)

“What Jessica Redland has achieved with this book is extremely clever, she has taken some really heavy and devastating themes but treated them with such care and respect that this is still a feel good novel that gives you a warm and fuzzy feeling. I don’t think that contemporary women’s romance writers (aka “Chick Lit”) get anywhere near enough credit for being able to pull off books like this” (Louise’s Reading Corner)

“Oh my! What a beautiful emotional love story. I love Jessica Redland stories but this one totally blew me away” (Wendy Reads Books)

“All You Need is Love is a heartbreaking tale of loss and love, of letting go and starting again, and I was totally here for every minute of this enchanting story, even if it did make me cry buckets” (Cara’s Book Boudoir)

“There are plenty of twists and turns… Some moments and experiences will make you tear up, but bear with the book as there is a happy ending… Hope you pick up this book and get a wonderful escape from reality into this gripping story, full of love and hope” (Reading Tonic)

“My Kindle wasn’t glued to my hand but it might as well have been because it went everywhere with me.  I couldn’t bear to miss a single second of this adorable story…. ‘All You Need Is Love’ is superbly written but then to be fair all of Jessica’s books are superbly written… I love the way in which Jessica grabs your attention and draws you into the story. She makes the characters seem so realistic that they seem just as real as you and I and I begin to think of them as friends. Jessica tackles some difficult subjects but she does it in a knid and compassionate way. I kept wanting to leap inside the pages of the book to give various characters a hug. In fact I felt as though I was part of the story and that’s thanks to Jessica’s very vivid and realistic storytelling” (Ginger Book Geek)

“This was such a beautiful, moving story that really captivated me to the very end. The storyline was wonderfully unique, and certainly took us on an emotional rollercoaster as we learn more about the characters and the struggles they have had to face… I have always found Jessica Redland’s writing style completely immersive, and she certainly never fails to make me feel as though I am living the events alongside the characters. A truly engrossing read that I couldn’t recommend highly enough!” (Victoria Wilks Writes)

“I have read and reviewed several books by Jessica Redland but this is my favourite one yet. Not only does it have Jessica Redland’s classic warmth and depth, it has bears… It is one for my forever shelf, and when I get a physical copy, it will be well thumbed with rereads. This emotional romance deals with grief and heartbreak surrounded by bears and is a joy to read. It provided a wonderful relief from lockdown’s loneliness, is highly visual with plenty going on to keep you turning the page. It would make a great film. So, grab your favourite bear to cuddle, a cup of tea and escape to the coast. Just keep your tissues handy” (From Under The Duvet)

“Every feeling the characters go through, was so gripping, honest and real… so many emotional, beautiful moments, that made me forget the hardest bits and I found myself smiling with tears rolling down my face… And the bears added an extra layer of adorability!… I found it an inspirational book about how to dare to look at the future again” (Tizzy’s Book Review)

And I had a couple of gorgeous reviews from reviewers not on the tour so thank you to you too:

“As much as I have really enjoyed reading Jessica’s previous novels, this has to be my favourite by far… I loved how the story develops, there are lots of turns that I never saw coming, I just didn’t want the story to end. I couldn’t and wouldn’t put this book down… This is a story that is relatable and will stay with me for a long time. It is sad and I did cry quite a bit, it made me feel really emotional finishing it which I have never had with a book before. It makes me want to hug my loved ones tighter as you never know what is around the corner” (Echoes in an Empty Room)

“There is something contagiously cosy, welcoming and heartwarming about Redland’s writing. It’s the sort that makes you want to slip into fluffy socks and sip creamy hot chocolate. The sort to entice you into wrapping yourself up in a thick blanket and holding it tight around yourself, feeling comforted in the same way the words comfort the reader. It’s exactly the sort of storytelling I admire and am so very fond of. It washes away the stresses of the day and allows the reader to escape to an entirely different place, a place where the characters feel like friends and the places feel like home” (Becca’s Books)

I’m so delighted with the response and touched by the reaction. This is one of my favourite stories of all the ones I’ve written so it feels extra special knowing it has found a way into readers’ hearts too.

All You Need Is Love entered the Top 500 on the UK Kindle Chart a couple of days ago which was a thrill too. Because a lot of readers had already bought and read this as Bear With Me, I wasn’t sure it would make it inside the Top 1,000 so to get to #417 was quite unexpected. It will be interesting to see if those bears can climb a bit higher!

Thank you again to everyone who has shown the love for All You Need Is Love. I’m so very grateful.

If you’d like to discover this story for yourself, it is available as an eBook for Apple, Kindle and Kobo, paperback, hard back, large print, audio download, physical audio, audio via uLibrary if your library subscribes to that service, and should appear on streaming services soon.

Big hugs
Jessica xx

All You Need Is Love

When you’ve loved and lost, how do you find the strength to let love in again?

Jemma thinks she’s found the love of her life. Scott is everything she ever dreamed of and she can’t wait to begin the next stage of their life together. But just as she is heading for her happy ever after, a shock revelation shatters Jemma’s life as she knows it. Left to pick up the pieces, Jemma’s friends and family rally round to help her find the courage to move on.

Sam think he has his future all worked out. A thriving career, lovely home and an amazing fiancée. But when tragedy strikes, he finds himself alone, far from everyone he cares about. Did he do the right thing by running away and trying to rebuild the tatters of his life alone?

This is the story of Jemma and Sam. Two lost souls, desperately trying to find closure and happiness. When a chance meeting brings them together a friendship is formed, but the guards are up. 

Will it finally be their turn for a happy ever after? Or will the secrets from their pasts prevent them from moving on?

Escape to Whitsborough Bay for an emotional, uplifting story of love and friendship from top 10 bestseller Jessica Redland. 

This book was previously published as Bear With Me.

The one where I thank all the bookbloggers who joined Hedgehog Hollow’s blog tour

Finding Love at Hedgehog Hollow Full Tour Banner

The blog tour for the publication of Finding Love at Hedgehog Hollow has just finished and what an epic tour it has been. Across 13 days, there have been a whopping 37 stops.  36 of the bloggers gave reviews and one provided an extract only. What fabulous exposure!

 

Those damn nerves…

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Image by Mirko Sajkov from Pixabay

It’s exciting but also a little nerve-wracking when one of my books goes on a blog tour. The dream is that every single participant has loved it, waxes lyrical about how amazing it is and insists that everyone simply must read it. The reality is that there will be mixed opinion because we don’t all like the same things. I just have to hope that those who don’t love it don’t hate it either.

When I see the names of familiar bloggers on the schedule, there’s a momentary feeling of relief – they’ve loved my other books so they’re bound to love this one – followed by panic – what if they think this is the one where I’ve lost my touch and they say it’s okay but not a patch on xxxxx?

When I see the names of new-to-my-books bloggers on the schedule, there’s a mixture of hope – they could become a new ‘fan’ with a huge following who highly recommends my book and reads my back catalogue – followed by that panic once more – what if they regret trying a different author and they don’t like my voice or what I write?

So there I am with this fission of nerves, waiting for the first review to come in. Please let the first one be a nice one! With all this turmoil, who’d be an author, eh?

 

Did they like it?

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Image by autumnsgoddess0 from Pixabay

Overwhelmingly yes. Phew!

Not all bloggers give ratings. On this tour, 21 (60%) of the 36 reviews included one and they were all positive with the majority at the top end:

  • 14 x 5-star (66.5%)
  • 1 x 4.5 star (5%)
  • 6 x 4-star (28.5%)

 

What did they think of the main character?

A consensus was that everyone loved the main character, Samantha, and were rooting for her right from the start of the book. I love Samantha. She’s a genuinely kind and caring person but she is taken advantage of for this. I worked hard on developing a rounded, realistic character and was conscious that I didn’t want her to come across as a complete pushover who could not stand up for herself. I was thrilled that nobody saw her that way and understood that the problems lay with those around her rather than Samantha being weak. If they wanted to shout at someone, it was those who used her rather than Samantha.

Another common thread was the love for Samantha’s relationship with Thomas, the owner of dilapidated farm Hedgehog Hollow. I love creating inter-generational relationships. I first did this with Callie and Ruby in Making Wishes at Bay View and it was such a pleasure to create a very different relationship between Sam and Thomas but with a similar age gap.

 

What did they think of the antagonist(s) (baddies)?

Most books will have one or more antagonists – the person(s) who make the hero’s journey difficult. This could be a deceitful partner, an ex, a sibling, a parent, a bully, a friend, their boss, a neighbour…. the possibilities go on and on. This is reflective of real life where we simply cannot get on with everyone but some relationships affect us more negatively or hinder our growth more than others.

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Image by Tom und Nicki Löschner from Pixabay

I loved how passionate some of the bloggers became about Samantha’s family – specifically the female members – and my absolute favourite quote ever comes from Ginger Book Geek who called them ‘numpties’ (one of my favourite words) and said she wanted to give them ‘a darn good slap with a wet flip flop’. I actually laughed out loud when I read that.

I was particularly nervous about how bloggers would react to how Sam’s family treated her because I had a couple of scathing comments about this over on NetGalley including a reviewer who gave the book 3-stars and wrote, ‘I devoured this book but honestly the relationship between Sam and her mum was so painful to read about that I cannot recommend this as an escapist read… I would remove [that plot line]… disgusted me… can’t rate higher due to the nastiness’. Eek and ouch! Hence my nerves ahead of the blog tour.

The thing is, Sam couldn’t have gone on the journey she went on without those ‘baddies’. The story wouldn’t have been the story. And then I’d have received criticism for it being bland or nothing happening.

Also, fiction is based on reality and, sadly, the reality is that there are people out there who behave like Sam’s family. I know we would all love the world to be a happy place where everyone is kind and tolerant and considerate. But they aren’t. Family feuds and toxic relationships exist and a couple of bloggers proved this by sharing personal insights into how they could relate to Sam’s plight based on difficult relationships with their own families. For those in this situation, I send you my best wishes.

Despite a couple of other negative comments about the toxic relationships on NetGalley, the bloggers on the tour seemed to understand the whole premise of the story: that sometimes blood is not thicker than water, that the real meaning of ‘family’ can be found in unexpected places, and that sometimes there are people in your life who don’t deserve to be and being kind can mean being kind to yourself by walking away from those who continually bring you down.

 

What about the romance?

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Image by Ben Kerckx from Pixabay

The title of the book ‘Finding Love…’ relates to so many aspects of this story and it’s not just about a romantic love; it’s about loving your family, your friends, and yourself.

I like to mix up the way I tell my stories. Some of them are very much driven by the romance such as New Beginnings at Seaside Blooms whereas other stories are much more about friendships and/or family such as The Secret to Happiness and Finding Love at Hedgehog Hollow. There will always be a romance story but it’s not always the main premise.

On the tour, one blogger thought the romance was ‘a little shoehorned in’ and the book could have done without it but thankfully most loved the romance and felt it rightly took a back seat while the other themes had the opportunity to shine.

 

Were they reaching for the tissues?

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Image by Alexas_Fotos from Pixabay

It was fascinating to read how emotional bloggers found the book. I sobbed my heart out while writing a few of the scenes but I confess that I’m a sobber. Everything makes me cry! Would others have the same reaction to Finding Love at Hedgehog Hollow?

It seems it certainly did draw on the emotions from bringing a tear to the reader’s eye to them crying rivers with comments such as ‘this book just hit me hard in the feelings’ (Books and Bookends), ‘I laughed, I cried, I felt like I was there’ (Reading Girl Reviews) and the most gorgeous accolade from Book Reviews by Shalini who called me the ‘queen of hearts’ – ‘the story unfolded so brilliantly that at times my heart shattered into a million pieces where each piece was laden with so many emotions that I didn’t know where one began and the other ended’. Hugs to you, Shalini ❤

 

And did they love the hedgehogs?

Yes, overwhelmingly the hedgehogs were a hit. Which is just as well because the next two books in the series will have LOADS of hogs in them.

 

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Image by Ryan McGuire from Pixabay

Thank you so much…

Thank you to everyone who participated in the tour. It goes without saying that I love reading the reviews where it’s the dream I described earlier – you’ve loved my work, you wax lyrical about how amazing it is and recommend it to all your followers. Anyone who has described it as a ‘page-turner’ and/or stated ‘I couldn’t put it down’ – including the fabulous anecdote from Yvonne at Me and My Books who wrote ‘I started it as I got in the bath, 2 hours later I decided I really need to get out the bath! I then got dry, warmed up in PJs and finished reading the book, it was that good!’ – has filled my heart with joy.

As I said at the start, we don’t all like the same things and I equally value the opinion of those who have liked but not loved my work. I find it most helpful when there’s a reason given for this because I don’t think writers ever stop learning. If something is raised by one blogger on a 37-stop tour, I’m going to put it down to personal tastes. If something is raised by several bloggers, then this gives me something to think about in future books.

In my previous job as a trainer and coach, there was a saying, ‘feedback is a gift.’ That might sound a bit cheesy but I do agree with the sentiment. The gift is one of learning and, as a writer, I can only continue to improve if I continue to learn.

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Image by Michael Schwarzenberger from Pixabay

Here’s the rub…

The thing about gifts is that some are thoughtfully packaged in shiny paper with a pretty bow and presented to the recipient with care and, even if the gift inside may not be exactly what the recipient might have hoped for, the recipient still feels the kindness and the overall experience is positive.

Other gifts are poorly-wrapped in barely-stuck-together newspaper or not wrapped at all and are tossed towards the recipient like a hand grenade.

I’m fortunate that I’ve received 37 beautifully-packaged gifts on the blog tour for Finding Love at Hedgehog Hollow for which I am ever so grateful. And very relieved!

Thank you to everyone who has shared their reviews on Twitter, Insta and/or Facebook and RT’d those that others have shared, helping spread the word.

And my final thank you goes to my amazing publisher Boldwood Books and Rachel Gilbey of Rachel’s Random Resources for organising and executing such an amazing tour. I’ve worked with Rachel on several blog tours as an indie writer and was absolutely delighted when Boldwood engaged with her to deliver all the BW author tours. She is brilliant at it!

I look forward to seeing what my next (now full) blog tour brings – a joint one for the refreshed re-released Christmas at Carly’s Cupcakes and Starry Skies Over The Chocolate Pot Cafe starting 8th September when Starry Skies is released.

Big hugs

Jessica xx

You can buy Finding Love at Hedgehog Hollow on Amazon here. It’s also available via AppleBooks and Kobo and is out in audio, paperback, eBook and large print formats.

THANK YOU:
Rachel’s Random Resources – find her website here
Boldwood Books – find their website here

And all these bloggers who participated in the tour (hyperlinked to their review):
Being Anne
Portobello Book Blog
Books and Bookends
Brmaycock’s Book Blog
From Under the Duvet
Donna’s Book Blog
Two Ladies and a Book
Shalini’s Book & Reviews
Bookish Jottings
Books, Life and Everything
Tizzy’s Book Review
Love the Smell of a Book
Jane Hunt Writer
The Cozy Pages
Emma’s Things to Read
Lu Reviews Books
Afternoon Bookery
Reviews in Heels
Carla Loves to Read
Jess Bookish Life
Lilac Mills
Coffee and Kindle Book Reviews
Satisfaction for Insatiable Readers
Audio Killed the Bookmark
On the Shelf Reviews
Ana’s Column
JenJen Reviews
Book Reviews by Satabdi
Kraftireader
Splashes Into Books
Just Katherine
Ginger Book Geek
Books Are Cool
Me and My Books
Reading Girl Reviews
Dash Fan Book Reviews
Jessica Belmont

 

 

The one where Making Wishes at Bay View is published

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

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

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

New Beginnings at Seaside Blooms (was Searching for Steven)

Finding Hope at Lighthouse Cove (was Getting Over Gary)

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

Coming Home to Seashell Cottage (was Dreaming About Daran)

Making Wishes tea

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

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

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

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

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

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

The changes very much vary from book to book.

Making Wishes - stars

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

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

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

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

IMG_7863How did I spend publication day?

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

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

Making Wishes Blog Tour

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

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

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

Have an amazing week.

Jessica xx

Making Wishes FB 2

 

 

The one where I anxiously await tomorrow’s book launch day

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Tomorrow will signal launch day for The Secret to Happiness. The final changes to the manuscript were made a couple of months ago so I’ve been building up to this for a while now although the last few days seem to have whizzed by.

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Image by Felix Lichtenfeld from Pixabay

This is my tenth release but the first with my fabulous new publisher, Boldwood Books. So far, The Secret to Happiness has been available for pre-order on Kindle, but it will be available in a multitude of formats from launch day:

  • eBook on all platforms
  • Audio – physical and streamed
  • Large print
  • Print on demand paperback
  • Available through all libraries

This is all very exciting because my other books are currently only available on Kindle so I’m hoping that a wider readership will be able to tap into them.

I haven’t received my physical author copies yet but look forward to that box arriving very soon and being able to sniff and stroke my book baby (I know, authors are weird!) I’m not sure there’ll be much to sniff about my audio copies but I will give them a gentle stroke.

In my fantasy life, I’m a super-successful author who’ll spend launch day spent relaxing on a chaise-longe, sipping on white or pink wine (not a fan of champagne or prosecco) and being fed cake and chocolates (grapes being far too healthy!)

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Image by Pete Linforth from Pixabay

In reality, I’m taking a day off from the day job of marking assignments, my drink of choice will be water and Diet Pepsi or Ribena Light and I’ll be dreaming about cake, whilst frantically refreshing Amazon every hour. My husband has already joked that I’m going to be an obsessive nightmare,  repeatedly panicking that I’m a huge failure and a massive disappointment to my publishers if my book doesn’t set the charts on fire. He’s right. I can feel the panic welling already!

Hubby and I are going out for lunch, which will be lovely, but that will be via the phone repair shop because I dropped my phone this morning and, although there’s not a scratch on it, I appear to have dislodged the screen and it no longer responds to touch. I suspect that this will be expensive.

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Image by annca from Pixabay

How am I feeling about tomorrow? I am what my 12-year-old daughter would call nervo-cited which is a mixture of nervous and excited. Despite amazing reviews on my other books, I’ve floundered in making an impact on the Amazon charts. It seems that those who find my work love it … but not that many find it.

Thirty-two NetGalley advance copy reviews would indicate that readers are loving The Secret to Happiness too which I’m thrilled about … but will that translate into sales and chart positions and take me one step closer to my dream of doing what I love and writing full-time? Desperately hoping that it will. I’m therefore probably more on the nervous side of nervo-cited as I have high hopes for this release.

There’s still time to pre-order The Secret to Happiness for Kindle for the bargain price of £1 by clicking here. A huge thank you to those wonderful reviewers who have warmed my heart with their amazing comments so far. It’s helped ease the nerves … a little bit, anyway.

Jessica xx

 

Everyone deserves a chance at happiness…

Danniella is running from her past, so when she arrives at the beautiful seaside resort of Whitsborough Bay, the last thing on her mind is making friends. After all, they might find out her secrets…

Alison is fun, caring and doesn’t take herself too seriously. But beneath the front, she is a lost soul, stuck in a terrible relationship, with body confidence issues and no family to support her. All she really needs is a friend.

Karen’s romance has taken a back seat to her fitness business. But she doesn’t want to give up on love quite yet. If only those mysterious texts would stop coming through …

When the women meet at their local bootcamp, a deep friendship blossoms. And soon they realise that the secret to happiness is where they least expected to find it…

 

 

 

 

The one where I look back at July

The end of July has been and gone, signalling that we’re halfway through the year already. Eek! That means we’re on the slope towards Christmas now, which is a bit scary.

So how was my July? Busy. Very busy.

thumbnail-4On 19th July, I was excited to reveal the cover for my new book, The Secret to Happiness, as part of me being Boldwood’s Author of the Day. The novel will be released on 3rd September but is available for pre-order on Kindle, for the bargain price of £1, right here. For any bloggers/reviewers, it’s also available on NetGalley.

Speaking of NetGalley, I went from excitement to disappointment a few days later when my first NetGalley review came through and it wasn’t good. With only a 2-star rating, the feedback was a little strange as the reviewer said she’d really enjoyed the main character’s story but, because it wasn’t the light summer read she was hoping for, she rated it a 2. I won’t even begin to try and understand the logic behind that. Yes, the cover is summery but the blurb doesn’t suggest light and fluffy. I know I have to be prepared for bad reviews but, because it was the first, this one really upset me. Thankfully the second one, a few days later, was 5-star and stated: “I loved this book … Overall brilliant writing, loved the plot, characters were well developed…” Phew!

Blue LogoMy good friend, author Sharon Booth, came through to Scarborough for a day and we loitered with intent in a couple of different coffee shops, having a good old writerly chat, which is always a fabulous way to while away the hours. We came to a difficult decision, though, to cease being ‘The Yorkshire Rose Writers’. Last year, we joined forces under this brand as we both live in Yorkshire, write about Yorkshire, and love Yorkshire. We thought this would be a great way to promote Sharon to my readers and vice versa, as well as have a stronger online presence. We put a huge time commitment in to blog, tweet, insta (is that a word?) and update content on the Facebook page, especially Sharon who is much better at these things than me, but we found it didn’t engage with any new readers as hoped. We also decided that, whilst we love Yorkshire, this is not our brand; our brand is us as individuals and as friends together. We therefore have a new idea that is in early stages of development but will be a little different. The blog has been deactivated and the social media activities have ceased with accounts deactivating shortly. It was short and sweet but these things are always worth a try. We’d probably have continued on Facebook but the imminent changes from pages to groups make us lose the will to live when it comes to that format so bye bye to The Yorkshire Rose Writers and thank you to those who did support our little venture.

During July, I completed a round of edits on book 11 and that’s now with my beta readers for comment. Early indications are good with one of them saying she’s struggling to put it down. I’m not sure whether Boldwood will take this one or not but it was about two thirds complete at the time I signed my publishing deal so there was no point in not finishing it.

My plan was to make some progress with book 12 and 13 but that hasn’t quite happened because I had my penultimate Masters submission due which took more time than I’d anticipated. It was a commentary about the process behind the final submission and the learnings we’ve had so far and I’ve struggled to score highly on these so far. I’ve just had the score through, though, and have achieved a distinction with 90% which is a relief. This puts my Year 2 work at 88% which is a distinction overall (distinction is 85% and above) so I’m thrilled about that. However, to come out with a distinction as my final grade, I have to score 85% or more on the final submission. I’ve done well on my fiction pieces so far, typically scoring in the 90s, but this is a much bigger piece. Fingers crossed.

IMG_6650Outside of writing, I had a short break in The Lake District with hubby, daughter and Ella, our Sprocker Spaniel. It didn’t go as planned. I managed to break my tooth about an hour into the journey eating a toffee. Oops! Thankfully it doesn’t hurt as it was a crown that I’ve snapped off a couple of times before … also by eating toffees. You’d think I’d have learned by now! I don’t think the dentist will be able to rebuild it again this time so I’ll see what he suggests next week.

The broken tooth was probably a bad omen for things to come. Our journey was horrendous. What would normally take about four hours took six including a patch of stationary traffic. We took a detour to get around that but then missed our planned lunch stop and ended up having lunch at teatime instead. The cottage wasn’t quite what we’d hoped for and it was in the middle of nowhere which we hadn’t expected either. Then the weather was poor, with torrential rain one day and storms forecast for our final day. We decided to come home a day early to sleep on a comfortable bed and to go out around home where the weather wasn’t expected to be so bad.

So, on Tuesday we visited a place called Ravenscar on the coast between Scarborough IMG_6732and Robin Hood’s Bay to see the seals. A year or two ago, we did attempt to see the seals but took the wrong path and still ended up on a cliff top with no way down to the beach, so we did the sensible thing and asked this time. The seals were sooooo adorable. The walk is very steep, though, and the journey back up was certainly hard work. I swear I’d shed about two stone in sweat but the scales laughed at me and told me otherwise!

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I went to the cinema just before our mini-break to see ‘Yesterday’. I’d seen the trailer on Facebook some time back and was really keen to see it, although I hadn’t realised at the time that it was a Richard Curtis film. We don’t have a decent cinema in Scarborough but the theatre does show some films so the munchkin so I went to see it there and thoroughly enjoyed it. You do need to suspend a bit of disbelief here and there and just take it for what it is which is a sweet, funny story with lots of Beatles songs.

My final bit of news is that the munchkin got her ears pierced last week (she’s 12) so that they have time to heal over the summer break. I’ve had mine done since I was 13 but I’ve always fancied having the top of my ear – my helix – pierced so I booked in for me to have that done at the same time. Ouch! My goodness, does that hurt! I’ve tried taking a photo but it’s just a stud and it barely shows so I will wait until the 12-week healing period has passed and I can put a pretty earring in it instead.

That’s my round-up of July. I’ve decided that my round-up posts are too long so I’m going to try to blog more frequently but with much shorter posts. Hmm. We’ll see how that goes. Still, the intention of the round-ups was to get me into blogging more regularly again and it has achieved that.

Wishing you a fabulous August.

Jessica xx