While I was on holiday last week, the Hedgehog Hollow series hit a major milestone. Book 1 in the series – Finding Love at Hedgehog Hollow – passed the 2,500 reviews/ratings milestone on Amazon.
The other two books had already passed this with the second book – New Arrivals at Hedgehog Hollow – passing the 3,000 mark earlier this month!
Book 3 – Family Secrets at Hedgehog Hollow – has only been out for just over four months so I remain completely astonished at the phenomenal number of reviews/ratings it has gathered in such a short space of time.
I keep having to pinch myself that what started off as an exercise on my MA in Creative Writing grew into such a beloved series. Thank you to everyone who has taken Hedgehog Hollow into their hearts and shared the love.
I’ve just had the edits back on book 4 – A Wedding at Hedgehog Hollow – and I’m thrilled that my editor, Nia, loved the story and there aren’t that many changes to be made. I need to add in a few scenes and develop a couple of the secondary characters a little further but it shouldn’t be a hefty task to do that.
Did you see the cover reveal? It’s my favourite of all the Hedgehog Hollow books and possibly my favourite of all my books, although I’ve got so many gorgeous ones that it is a tough competition between them.
Book 4 is out on 6th January 2022 and available for pre-order now on Amazon here. It will go up for pre-order on Kobo and Apple too but it can’t go up this early on those sites. And if you’re an audio listener, it will be out on audio from publication day as well as in paperback, hardback, and large print.
Amazon shows that each book is number 1/2/3/4 out of 4 but don’t let that fool you. It’s not possible to set it up to show that a series will be longer than the books already out or up for pre-order. There’s still more to come from Hedgehog Hollow after book 4…
I’m planning two more books in the series. Book 5 (unnamed so far) is provisionally planned for summer 2022 and book 6 will be my Christmas release the same year. Yes, we’re having Christmas at Hedgehog Hollow which I know will please lots of readers!
Then that’s it. Or at least for now anyway. It feels like six brings me to a natural end with the stories I want to tell and the amazing journey Samantha goes on. I’d never want to drag a series on just for the sake of it.
Having said that, I still intend to write a prequel book telling Thomas and Gwendoline’s story but that’s a future project and definitely won’t be out in 2022. I’m also planning a spin-off story which will be strongly connected to Hedgehog Hollow and will still feature the rescue centre and many of the characters readers love but it will not be based at Hedgehog Hollow or narrated by Samantha. That’s all I’m saying on that one! It will probably be out in 2023.
Thank you once more for all the amazing reviews. If you’ve read and loved the series, please do tell your friends and family. Recommendations are invaluable in keeping your favourite authors writing.
I’m celebrating a very exciting 1st book birthday today because it’s not just a book that was born but a series. Happy 1 year anniversary to the first book in the Hedgehog Hollow series, Finding Love at Hedgehog Hollow.
I was nervous about the publication of this book on 2nd July last year because, until that point, every book I’d written was set in the fictional North Yorkshire seaside town of Whitsborough Bay. I knew readers loved that setting but it didn’t right for Hedgehog Hollow. I wanted my hedgehog rescue centre to be in a countryside rather than a coastal setting. I only hoped my Whitsborough Bay readers wouldn’t mind the change.
The great news is they didn’t. Phew! In fact, the series has hooked in a huge number of new readers who were drawn in by the hedgehogs. Many of them have then gone on to read the Whitsborough Bay books too which is lovely.
When I first decided to set a book in a hedgehog rescue centre, I imagined it as a standalone story. Silly me. I should have learned by now that I don’t think that way. I nearly always think bigger than a single plotline and manage to introduce a cast of characters, each of whom has their own story to tell and, before I know it, I have a sequel or a series on my hands. Hedgehog Hollow was no different.
In the first book, we meet my heroine Samantha and find out how she came to be the owner of Hedgehog Hollow. The hedgehog rescue centre doesn’t open until the end of the first book so it definitely needed a sequel to see her taking in lots of gorgeous rescue hedgehogs. But it would just be two books. Definitely. Although…
As I wrote book 2, New Arrivals at Hedgehog Hollow, (which came out in January this year) more stories emerged and there was no way I could end it at book two without ever telling them.
Family Secrets at Hedgehog Hollow was published in May this year telling one of those stories but there are plenty more to come. There will definitely be five plus a prequel. There may be six. There could be more! Some characters won’t have a book focusing on them because much of their backstory has come out in other books and I would only ever make a person a focus of a book if I feel that there is a good story to be told and a good story would not be regurgitating what the readers already know. For example, I don’t see Samantha’s mum Debs as a focus because readers already know a lot about her past *pauses as readers cheer because nobody likes Debs*
I wrote the first three books in the series back to back. I also worked on the edits for some of my backlist books in the midst of that, preparing them for re-publication through Boldwood Books. After writing book 3, it was time to take a break from Hedgehog Hollow as Whitsborough Bay was calling. Over the past few months, I’ve been writing Snowflakes Over The Starfish Café which is set just outside Whitsborough Bay. This will be out on 31st August and, true to form, there’s more than one story to tell. It will definitely have a sequel but it may become a trilogy.
It was good to have a break from Hedgehog Hollow but oh so lovely to return to the farm and my friends for book 4. I’m partway through writing A Wedding at Hedgehog Hollow which is out on 6th January 2022 but available for pre-order now.
I get so many messages and comments on social media from readers telling me they can’t bear the wait for book 4 and I need to write faster! This is exceptionally flattering, knowing that readers are clamouring to find out what happens next. That might have something to do with the unexpected cliffhanger I dropped at the end of Family Secrets at Hedgehog Hollow. The thing is, it can take readers a day (or less) to read a book but it takes just a smidge longer than that for an author to write one so I’m afraid there has to be a bit of a wait between books. Really sorry to those who are waiting patiently … or not so patiently! Don’t they say that all good things come to those who wait?
I love this series so much. I can vividly picture myself at the farm, sitting on Thomas’s bench, looking out over the wildflower meadow sowed by Thomas and Gwendoline with the farm cat Misty Blue draped across my knee. Every time I write a scene there, I can almost smell the flowers, hear the buzz of bees, feel the gentle breeze kissing my cheeks. It’s so tranquil. I keep telling my husband that I want to live in the real Hedgehog Hollow. Need a Netflix deal before that would ever be financially possible!
I’m so exceptionally proud of how well those hedgehogs have done in finding a place in readers’ hearts. The three books so far have sold over 120,000 units combined (i.e. a copy in any format) in the space of only a year and Finding Love at Hedgehog Hollow is on its way to being the first of my individual books to join Boldwood’s 100k Club and will hopefully be there in the next few months. Go hedgehogs go!
The hedgehogs have scampered into the UK Kindle Top 100 for all three books, with Finding Love at Hedgehog Hollow peaking at #31 and they’ve had some impressive positions on the Apple Chart with an amazing #2 for New Arrivals, Top 10 in Australia and New Zealand and Top 100 in the USA. The latter is especially impressive when there are no wild hedgehogs in the USA! Family Secrets also stormed the Apple chart with #5 in the UK and Top 200 in the USA.
But the thing I am most proud of is the reviews they’ve gathered and it is so fitting on the book birthday of the series that I am close to celebrating another milestone. Family Secrets at Hedgehog Hollow is just 15 shy of received 2000 ratings/reviews on Amazon and it hasn’t even been out for two months yet (released on 4th May). Hopefully it will even hit that milestone by the two-month anniversary.
I’ve never experienced anything like this. At the time of writing this, Finding Love at Hedgehog Hollow (book 1) has 2,291 reviews and New Arrivals at Hedgehog Hollow has 2,724 with a 4.7/4.6/4.7 average rating across them. Wow! The love is definitely there for the hedgehogs.
So as the hedgehogs and I party and celebrate one year of this new series, we would like to thank everyone who has made all of these achievements possible. In no particular order as everyone is extremely important in this list:
Readers and listeners without whom I wouldn’t be able to keep doing this. You are absolutely amazing
Bloggers and reviewers who have been on the blog tours or independently shared their kind words about the series
The gorgeous community on Redland’s Readers, my Facebook group for those who love my stories. You can join Redland’s Readers here if you’re a fan and want to immerse yourself in the worlds of Whitsborough Bay and Hedgehog Hollow
The team at Boldwood Books, particularly my amazing editor Nia for her insightful feedback and her encouragement
The authors at #TeamBoldwood for their support
Emma Swan, James Dryden and Lucy Browhill for their amazing narration and ISIS Audio and Ulverscroft for the production and distribution of the audio versions
My tribe – the wonderful Write Romantics and the other talented authors out there who champion my work
My mum who is my number 1 fan and an absolute star
My Auntie Gwen, a hedgehog rescuer, for providing the inspiration in the first place
All the amazing rescue centres whether large scale or small around the country for the incredible work you do in helping protect these gorgeous creatures
If you haven’t already dived into the world of Hedgehog Hollow, the hedgehogs are waiting to welcome you. You can buy in a stack of formats – eBook for Apple, Kindle, Kobo, Nook, paperback, hardback (only book 2 and 3 at the moment), large print, audio and streaming via Spotify. And if you’re still not sure, here’s a couple of quotes from reviews, including ones from the audio version…
Less than a week ago, I reported that the third book in the Hedgehog Hollow series – Family Secrets at Hedgehog Hollow – had passed a whopping 1,500 reviews/ratings milestone over on Amazon. It’s gone a bit beyond that now:
A little while before that I’d reported that book 1 – Finding Love at Hedgehog Hollow – had passed 2,000. It has also exceeded that since:
The hedgehogs have been waiting for book 2 – New Arrivals atHedgehog Hollow – to meet another milestone so they could have a big party and celebrate milestones for all three.
And yesterday book 2 reached it, passing the 2,500 mark. Woo hoo! Go hedgehogs go!
New Arrivals only came out in January so that milestone has been reached in a little over five months but Family Secrets was only published six weeks ago today and is already storming towards the 2,000 mark.
I’d been surprised when New Arrivals gathered more reviews than Finding Love as I’d have thought that readers would have read the series in order and, as there’s an inevitability that some readers won’t love it, the numbers of reviews would dip with each book. However, with the rate that Family Secrets is gathering reviews, I don’t think it will be long before it has the most.
I do read all my reviews and I know that several readers say they loved book 2 or book 3 and will go back to read the one(s) they missed so that could account for some disparity. Or perhaps a reader who reads two or three back to back only leaves a review for the latest? I guess I’ll never get to the bottom of it.
What’s interesting is that for my ‘Welcome to Whitsborough Bay’ series, book 1 – Making Wishes at Bay View – has the most reviews/ratings but book 4 – Coming Home to Seashell Cottage – isn’t far behind … but that both supports and contradicts my theory above!
There was a time with the Hedgehog Hollow series when it seemed that the love for the hedgehogs got stronger with each book. While Family Secrets is still storming ahead with a whopping 83% 5-star ratings/reviews, the other two are pretty much equal. Both of them have an accidental 1-star rating where the review talks about how much the reader has loved it, one for HH1 even saying ‘one of my favourite books of late’ but the reader has managed to click on the 1-star instead of the 5-star rating which is a shame.
There are some cutting reviews for all three books, especially the 1-star for HH1 entitled ‘total waste of time’ but I do find it easier to cope with those these days. It certainly helps looking at all the hedgehog love. I remind myself it’s just one person’s opinion and you can’t please all the people all of the time. And I also remind myself that negative comments say more about the reviewer and perhaps what’s going on in their life at that time than they do about me.
With so many gorgeous reviews/ratings and so much excitement about the fourth book in the series – A Wedding at Hedgehog Hollow – my biggest concern right now is not a handful of negative comments. It’s whether book 4 can measure up to the high bar set by the previous books, particularly Family Secrets. I’m meant to be writing it at the moment and I’ll admit to procrastinating massively on getting going because of THE FEAR! What if it isn’t good enough? What if there’s this huge build-up to the cliffhanger reveal and all the excitement about the release (and a long wait) and readers are disappointed?
I have this 2-star review for Family Secrets: I couldn’t be bothered to finish this. The first two books in this series were fine, but the author is now trying to stretch the theme too far – rather boring. Ouch! 96% of readers disagree so I’m not unduly concerned about these comments but what I fear is these sorts of comments for book 4 onwards. I completely disagree with them. I am not stretching a theme too far. There is a setting and there are stories to tell and I have lots of great stories in mind … but what if the unexpected twists and turns of Family Secrets was the peak and it’s downhill from there? Argh!
One of my favourite films is A Cinderella Story. From 2004 and starring Hilary Duff, it’s a modern-day reimagining of the Cinderella story as you can probably guess from the title and it’s fabulous. The main character is called Sam and her dad used to run a sports-themed diner. When he died, Sam’s ‘wicked stepmother’ took it over and refurbished. She redecorated it pink and made the staff wear roller boots. Near the climax in the film, a door slams and something falls off the wall revealing the baseball-themed quote Sam’s dad had up there: Never let the fear of striking out keep you from playing the game”. I love that!
This quote is in my mind as I approach writing book 4 and I’m pushing aside that 2-star review. It’s partly the reason why I have decided to do a really intensive blitz of the book next week as I’ve been spending too much time thinking and worrying and not getting the words down on the paper. I do have a great story to tell. It’s different from book 3’s story but all the stories are different otherwise I would accept the ‘rather boring’ accusation. I also have an amazing editor who will help knock it into shape so we’re bringing out a great book that doesn’t disappoint the hedgehog fans.
Tell you what, if writing a book was as simple as having an idea and getting it down on the page, my job would be so easy. It’s the thinking and worrying that causes the problems. But I absolutely love what I do and, although I could do without THE FEAR, I would choose it with the fear rather than not do it at all. Which brings us to another quote: Feel the fear and do it anyway!
I have the rest of the week to get organised and do the research I need to do to enable me to get my head down for next Monday and write. No way am I expecting to write a full book in a week but I’m certainly going to give it a good go!
Hope you have a fabulous week and thank you for all the amazing love and support for this series. I really appreciate all the lovely reviews, the comments on social media, the recommendations, and the direct messages I’ve had from so many lovely readers. They’re such a boost.
It has been another amazing week in the world of Hedgehog Hollow.
Today, on the 4-week anniversary since the release of book 3 in the series – Family Secrets at Hedgehog Hollow – the first book is celebrating a major reviews/ratings milestone. It has now passed the 2,000 point on Amazon. Woo hoo those hedgehogs!
But book 3 has hit another amazing number. 1,300 is maybe not a number we’d call a milestone but when we say that 1,300 was achieved in only 4 weeks, my gaster is well and truly flabbered (which auto correct wanted to change to my Easter is blabbered!)
And with over 2,300 reviews, the 2nd book – New Arrivals at Hedgehog Hollow – is well on its way to a 2,500 milestone.
Meanwhile over on Apple, the hedgehogs have been enjoying more celebrations. I posted to say that Finding Love at Hedgehog Hollow had been chosen as Apple’s Free Book of the Week in the UK and Ireland as well as being free Romance of the Week in Australia, Canada, New Zealand and the USA. That week is over now. Well, I say the week is over but it still is showing as FREE in some territories so, if you’re an Apple user and haven’t already grabbed it, you may still get it for free.
Giving away a book for free may seem a strange thing to do as it obviously brings in zero income for an author and we do have bills to pay. It’s a strategy that can work well when the book is the start of a series as it’s effectively giving readers a free sample. If they like what they try, they’ll hopefully go on and read the other books in the series and, as they’ll be buying those, some income is still generated.
In March last year, the first book in the ‘Welcome to Whitsborough Bay’ series – Making Wishes at Bay View – was the Free Book of the Week in the UK and made it to the #1 position, with #3 for Making Wishes at Seaside Blooms, #13 for Finding Hope at Lighthouse Cove and #23 for Coming Home to Seashell Cottage (#2, 3 and 5 respectively in the Romance category chart). I hoped similar things would happen for the hedgehogs.
And I’m delighted to say they have…
FINDING LOVE AT HEDGEHOG HOLLOW topped the overall chart in UK and Ireland, and the Romance category in both those territories and Australia. Top 6 everywhere else!
It was so lovely seeing it at the top of the overall free chart…
NEW ARRIVALS AT HEDGEHOG HOLLOW came so close to the top in the UK and I thought at one point that it might just nudge up there… but there was a new E L James released today. The hedgehogs are not going to topple Mr Grey!
I was absolutely delighted to chart in the USA with it being such an enormous market. Apple shows the Top 200 positions but gives no indication of chart positions outside that so it’s such a special moment spotting it visually represented.
A particular thrill was becoming a sandwich in the Apple Books UK chart with Richard Osman and Matt Haig who have two of the biggest selling books of the year. What an honour! I’d bought both paperbacks recently so couldn’t resist recreating the sandwich in my office.
And this was my #2 moment, so very close to the top. As you can see, book 3 was still working its way up the charts at this point. It’s so surreal when I see some of the HUGE names with whom I’m sharing ‘shelf-space’ and also particularly lovely to see a fellow Boldwood author, Diane Saxon in there too…
FAMILY SECRETS AT HEDGEHOG HOLLOW didn’t chart in Ireland but did well in all the other territories and potentially could still climb higher but I wanted to write this post today as it’s the 4-week anniversary since the release of Family Secrets.
It was particularly great capturing book 2 and 3 today in the Top 5 together:
At one point, books 2 and 3 were Top 5 together while book 1 was top of the free chart so they were all featuring on the home page in the UK. Don’t imagine I’ll see that again!
A huge thank you to all Apple users who’ve made this possible this week and to all the Amazon users who’ve helped achieve those amazing review/ratings numbers.
As I say, Finding Love at Hedgehog Hollow still appears to be free in most territories for Apple so do check yours out if you haven’t already grabbed it. It’s also still in Prime Reading on Amazon and all my books are in Kindle Unlimited so free if you subscribe to that.
We’ve reached the end of the month. Where did May go? So here’s my monthly round-up…
With so much time in my editing cave, May has been another month where I’ve read very little I’m afraid. I finished reading the final book in Sharon Booth’s fabulous Kearton Bay series, The Whole of the Moon, and loved it. The book was released on Friday and you can get it here although I’d encourage you to start at the beginning and enjoy the whole series. Sharon writes gorgeous stories of love, friendship, family and community with lots of warmth and humour.
I’m reading a book called Escape to Honeysuckle Hall by Rebecca Raisin at the moment which I was send in advance for a quote. I’m nearly a third of the way through and really enjoying it so far. I read several of Rebecca’s books quite a few years ago while on holiday and thoroughly enjoyed them so it’s lovely to be back reading one of hers.
Line of Duty finished. Let’s not talk about that underwhelming ending eh? And I Can See Your Voice also finished and I really hope it returns for a second season.
I watched the Friends Reunion which I loved. It was funny and emotional and I wish it had been longer as I could happily have watched several hours of it. Friends remains one of my all-time favourite programmes and I loved seeing the genuine friendship and affection the six main cast members had for each other.
I’ve started watching Virgin River on Netflix. I’m only three episodes in but it’s nice gentle viewing so all good so far.
We’ve only managed to squeeze in one film this month: Tenet. Lots of action, lots of explosions, visually impressive… and I have no idea what it was all about. Far too clever for me I’m afraid. The general consensus is you need to watch it a twice and things start to make sense but, with a running time of two and a half hours, I think I’ll pass on that.
I completed my final proofread on the edited version of Charlee and the Chocolate Shop which will be out on 3rd August as Christmas Wishes at the Chocolate Shop. That’s now with production and you can pre-order it here.
I’ve also finished the second round of edits on book 13 – Snowflakes Over The Starfish Café – which is out on 31st August and can be pre-ordered here. It was the toughest of edits but I’m really happy with the way it has turned out and hope readers love it too.
Today, I dived back into the world of Hedgehog Hollow and started on the fourth book in the series – A Wedding at Hedgehog Hollow – which is out on 6th January and can be pre-ordered here. I haven’t written many words yet as I needed to do some preparation around the backstory for one of the main characters, but I will hopefully get about halfway through by the end of June. I wrote the first three Hedgehog Hollow books back to back so, after working on two Whitsborough Bay ones since, I need to reset my head away from the coast and into the countryside!
I started off the month with my birthday and, on 4th May, celebrated the release of Family Secrets at Hedgehog Hollow. I was a little nervous about it as I’d had a few negative comments on NetGalley but it seems to have gone down a storm with bloggers and readers. I shared my fears on a blog post here.
With a high Kindle chart position of #38 at the time of release thanks to a phenomenal number of pre-orders, it made the Bookstat eBook Top 10 in The Bookseller for sales that week (see blog post here). Four weeks on, it’s still in the Top 200.
The rate at which reviews have been coming in has astonished me. After a fortnight, I was thrilled by 300. By two weeks, there were over 800. After three weeks it had passed 1,000 and a day ahead of the four-week anniversary, there are nearly 1300 reviews/ratings on Amazon, 83% of which are 5-star. Wow! I still can’t quite believe that quantity or quality. Thank you so much everyone who has left a review or rating on whatever platform.
Book 2 – New Arrivals at Hedgehog Hollow – celebrated passing 2,000 reviews/ratings on Amazon and Starry Skies Over the Chocolate Pot Café passed the 1,500 milestone.
Finding Love at Hedgehog Hollow has been on an amazing promotion over on Apple. In the UK and Ireland, it has been the free book of the week and it was selected as the (free) Romance of the week in Australia, Canada, New Zealand and the USA. This has had some amazing results for this book, the other two in the series, and also The Secret to Happiness. I’ll write a separate post about this in the next few days.
I celebrated six years as a published author. I’m certainly in a very different place now to how I was back then. You can read all about it here.
As it was my birthday at the start of the month, we went out for a walk along Scarborough’s South Cliff. It might not sound the most exciting when we live in Scarborough but it’s beautiful and, on a bank holiday weekend, the roads get so snarled up around here, we never venture far from home.
I had my hair cut for the first time in nearly 18 months and had a quick whizz around town afterwards, and I also had my second covid jab. These events should not really feature as the most exciting things I’ve done this month but I think it speaks volumes for the world in which we live in that they do just now.
Other than that, I really haven’t been anywhere. That’s partly to do with being heads down for deadlines but also a bit of nervousness about being out and about again. Or is it nerves? I don’t know. I don’t feel anxious when I’m out so perhaps it’s more about routine. I’m so used to not being out and about that home feels more comfortable. And safer. And less peopley. Really must try to leave the house more than three or four times in June!
It is bucketing it down with rain where I am now but I have a lovely offer to brighten the day up.
Finding Love at Hedgehog Hollow – the first book in the Hedgehog Hollow series – is on a special offer on AppleBooks at the moment in the following territories:
In the UK, it’s the ‘Free book of the week’. There isn’t an equivalent offer in the other territories but it is part of their ‘Romance of the Week’ FREE promotion! Woo hoo!
So, if you are an Apple user and live in any of those territories, here’s a great opportunity to start at the beginning with this series for FREE!
The offer started on Monday afternoon (24th May) UK-time and runs for a week so, at some point on Sunday/Monday (30th/31st May), depending on your time zone, it will end so do act fast.
The second book in the series – New Arrivals at Hedgehog Hollow – is also available at a reduced price on Apple:
Australia – $1.99
Canada – $1.99
UK – 99p
USA – $0.99
And you could always consider picking up the third too – Family Secrets at Hedgehog Hollow – to complete the set so far (book 4 is out in January 2022).
I’m delighted to say that Finding Love at Hedgehog Hollow is already #1 in the FREE UK chart, Top 30 in Australia, Top 50 in USA, and Top 100 in Canada so thank you for all the readers who’ve taken advantage of the offer so far.
The hedgehogs are waiting to welcome you to the farm…
Can love really be found when you stop looking for it…?
As Samantha Wishaw watches the love of her life marry another woman, she’s ready to give up hope of finding her happy ever after.
But when a chance encounter leads Sam to find friendship in Thomas – a lonely, grumpy elderly widower living at derelict Hedgehog Hollow – her life is about to change forever.
Glad to have a distraction from family feuds and match-making, Sam vows to fulfil Thomas and his wife, Gwendoline’s, dreams of restoring Hedgehog Hollow to its former glory, and to open a hedgehog rescue centre.
Throwing herself into the task at hand, little does Sam realise that the keys to love and happiness may also be found at Hedgehog Hollow, when she least expects it…
Escape to Hedgehog Hollow this summer with top 10 bestseller Jessica Redland for the perfect uplifting, feel-good read.
Two weeks ago today, it was publication day for the third book in the Hedgehog Hollow series – Family Secrets at Hedgehog Hollow – and I am so in awe of how much readers have taken the hedgehogs to their hearts and wanted to convey my heartfelt thanks.
When I had the idea to set a book in a hedgehog rescue centre, I was only thinking of writing a standalone book but, as is often the case when I’m writing, the setting and the characters burst into life and had so much more to offer than one story. And the hedgehogs had me too. The more I learned about them, the more I wanted to write about them. Just gorgeous. (Photo credit for top photo: Sarah Howell).
It’s quite scary not only committing to writing a sequel but to working on it before knowing whether readers like the first book. Finding Love at Hedgehog Hollow was released on 2nd July 2020 and, at that point, all of my books had been set in the fictional seaside town of Whitsborough Bay. I was worried that readers might not like the change of setting and not want to take a trip to Hedgehog Hollow. It never even entered my head that a whole new group of lovely readers might be attracted because of the mention of hedgehogs and would discover my writing through this series instead.
I’d almost finished writing New Arrivals at Hedgehog Hollow when the first book in the series was released and it was such a huge relief that readers responded really positively.
But when New Arrivals was released in January this year, the fear set in again. Would readers love book 2 as much as book 1? I was particularly nervous about this because my confidence had been knocked by two particularly negative reviews from readers who’d received an advanced reader copy (ARC). I have always been open and honest about the writing process and the highs and lows I’ve experienced along the way so I shared this negative feedback in my acknowledgements at the back of Family Secrets at Hedgehog Hollow:
“…The first few reviews were gorgeous, but then two came in together that stopped me in my tracks. Both reviewers declared that it had been a big mistake turning the first book into a series and one called book two ‘cringeworthy’ with ‘nothing to add, just padding’ before concluding that she was ‘very disappointed’. Wow! How was I supposed to continue writing a third book when I’d read something like that? The answer is, I couldn’t. I was creatively paralysed for days. I’d pitched the idea to my editor for a fourth book by that point but was now questioning whether I should even finish writing the third one. Yes, I’ll admit it, those reviews made me cry.”
I always read the acknowledgements but I’m conscious I do this with my author head on, curious about the journey the author has been on, where they got their idea (if they share that detail) and getting to know them a bit better. I have often wondered whether readers look at them.
Some certainly do because I have received so many gorgeous messages from readers and have read reviews which specifically address what I put in my acknowledgements. I’ve been quite overwhelmed by the outpouring of kindness, asking me to never let the negativity get to me as those readers love my work and don’t ever want me to stop writing! I appreciate all of the lovely comments I’ve received so very much. In a world where you can be anything… be kind. And those readers absolutely have been and it has been so touching.
While I know and understand that there will always be readers who don’t like what I write – we all like different things after all – I suffer quite badly from imposter syndrome and comments like this really play to my insecurities. I continue to work hard on this and, with every kind message and review, I’m finding it easy to mute the voice that says, ‘You have no right to be here, your recent success is a fluke, you’re not good enough, and you’ve just been found out!’ Gosh, I hate that voice!
Family Secrets at Hedgehog Hollow went up as an ARC earlier this year and, funnily enough, the same two reviewers I’d referred to in my acknowledgements came back for more, despite having hated book two. They both gave me a 4-star rating this time although they still choose to have a dig about book 2: ‘I love all of this author’s work. Wasn’t a fan of book 2 in this series but this book certainly makes up for it. Absolutely gripping!’ and ‘I will literally read anything by this author. Book 2 of this series was a bit of a let down and after the first couple of chapters of this book I wasn’t holding out much hope. BUT things then began to come good and I suddenly found it was 1am and I really needed to sleep but couldn’t until it was finished!’ Perhaps a bit of a backhanded compliment, praising book 3 while still criticising book 2 but I’ll take it and keep focusing on the lovely parts!
I did get some negative ARCs from readers who struggled to get into the story but they mainly seemed to be from those who hadn’t read the first two books. The blurb did make it clear it was the third book in a series and readers would have a richer reading experience starting at the beginning so I wasn’t too concerned by those.
Overall, I didn’t get as positive a reaction from the book 3 ARCs as I’d received for the first two books so I approached publication day for Family Secrets with some trepidation once more. Especially as I knew how much one of the main characters, Chloe, was not a fan favourite.
I have, however, been blown away by the response since release date.
Not only did this book gather the most pre-orders I’ve had on any other book – something which helped place me in a chart in industry specialist publication, The Bookseller (see above), for the first time ever – but the hedgehogs and I have received more than 800 reviews/ratings in just two weeks. With 83% of those at 5-star and a 4.8 star average, it is also my joint-best reviews score on Amazon (tied with Charlee and the Chocolate Shop whose reviews have been transferred onto the fresh version coming out in August under the new title of Christmas Wishes at the Chocolate Shop). Absolutely thrilled with this!
At this rate of reviews, I think we could well be at 1,000 within a month of release but… ssshhh… I didn’t say that as I don’t want to jinx it!
Speaking of milestones, New Arrivals at Hedgehog Hollow has passed a massive 2,000 reviews/ratings milestone recently and the hedgehogs are holding big celebrations. Finding Love at Hedgehog Hollow just needs 130 at the time of writing to hit that milestone too.
As well as the lovely comments about the story and my writing that I see in reviews, something that absolutely makes my day is when a reader comments on what they’ve learned about helping hedgehogs. I’ve had readers going out and checking their gardens to make sure they’re accessible for hogs, setting up feeding stations, leaving out food and water, and even volunteering at a local rescue centre on the back of reading my books. Wow! How amazing and humbling is that?
Since publication day, the third instalment of Hedgehog Hollow has held fast in the Kindle Top 100 to which is absolutely amazing so thank you to everyone who pre-ordered or and downloaded across the past fortnight.
Family Secrets at Hedgehog Hollow is now finally out on Audible as of today so thank you to all those who have been patiently waiting for that. Woo hoo!
It also appears to be properly available as a paperback via Amazon although it’s showing a UK price of £9.99. The RRP is £8.99 which is showing on the Waterstones website and you can ask at any good book shop and they’ll be able to order it in for £8.99. Or if you want a signed copy, get in touch with me via DM on any of my social media platforms. It’s £12.99 including UK p&p for any one book but I’m offering signed copies of the series so far for £35 including UK p&p.
Thank you again for all the hedgehog love. Have an amazing week.
Back in January, I wrote a post entitled ‘One book, one week, one hundred reviews’ celebrating the phenomenal speed at which book 2 in the Hedgehog Hollow series – New Arrivals at Hedgehog Hollow – was gathering reviews. You can read it here. I’d never known anything like that before…
As you can probably guess from the title of this blog post, book 3 has smashed it. At lunchtime today, 4.5 days into publication, Family Secrets at Hedgehog Hollow passed the 100 mark on Amazon. In fact, it did it so quickly that it jumped from 90 when I looked earlier to 110 the next time I checked and it’s now at 122!
In January, I was also astonished at how many reviews I got before any 1 or 2-stars crept in. It actually passed a whopping 400.
Of the 122 reviews/ratings showing at the time of writing this post, there are 2 at 2-star so I’m not going to match that record, but there is still a stack of love for the hedgehogs with 92% of those 122 being at 4 or 5-star.
The hedgehogs and I are so very grateful. When I was a struggling indie author making little impact with my writing, I used to see the excitement from readers as a favourite author released their book and devoted fans raced to read it. I’ve even done it myself with one of the books in J K Rowling’s Harry Potter series, buying it on release day and devouring it across the next three days, and with a couple of Jill Mansell’s books. I never ever imagined this happening to anything I’ve ever written yet the speed of reviews coming in and the lovely messages from readers tell me it is. It really is a dream come true.
In the meantime, Finding Love at Hedgehog Hollow (book 1) and New Arrivals at Hedgehog Hollow (book 2) are both speeding towards the 2,000 reviews/ratings mark. Eek!
And book 4 – A Wedding at Hedgehog Hollow – is up for pre-order on Amazon here. With no cover and no blurb yet, it is already heading for the Top 1,000 which is also astonishing. Double eek!
Enjoy the rest of your weekend and thanks again. Hedgehogs dos and don’t will still be coming later but I had to quickly dip in to share this news!
Yesterday (4th May) was the publication day for the third book in the Hedgehog Hollow series: Family Secrets at Hedgehog Hollow. Woo hoo!
When I was a struggling indie author, publication day was a fairly ‘normal’ day. I’d post about it on social media and a few family members and friends would congratulate me, then I’d get on with my day to day work. I might nip go out for lunch with the hubby or maybe even an evening meal to celebrate but it was fairly low key because so few readers had discovered my work. I didn’t excitedly watch the charts because there wasn’t an impressive chart entry moment.
Since joining the amazing Boldwood Books, this has completely changed. Publication days are now an excited frenzy of activity on social media, responding to loads of gorgeous congratulations messages, and the start of a blog tour. I’ve learned not to attempt to write or edit as there’s too much else going on but I did slip in an appointment with the hairdresser yesterday and that was a mistake in terms of time but, my goodness, how nice was it to have my hair cut and professionally coloured for the first time since December 2019!
I debuted it during a Facebook Live with my fabulous editor Nia Beynon last night. If you weren’t able join the Live, you can catch up with it here. Thank you to all those who joined us on the evening and for the lovely comments and questions.
It was the perfect opportunity to also debut my new hedgehog print dress (awww) and show off a couple of my soft friends. Thank you to my friend Nic for the lovely knitted sparkly hedgehog, Erin.
The blog tour has started and the reviews yesterday along with the first review I’ve seen posted today are absolutely gorgeous. I also had two lovely reviews from bloggers not on the tour. Thank you to everyone who has signed up. I’m excited and a little trepidatious (is that a word?!) to hear all the comments.
I wrote a post for Boldwood’s blog about one of the themes of this book – forgiveness – which you can find here and I wrote a post for my own blog about the risks of writing about an unlikable character which you can find here.
Fabulous publication day biscuits arrived from my publisher. I love these. It’s so adorable seeing my book in biscuit format. They’re made by a company called Enchanting Bakes if you want to check them out. Amazingly they are still unopened but I suspect they won’t last beyond the morning!
We unveiled the winner of the ‘Name the Hedgehog’ competition for Family Secrets at Hedgehog Hollow. A draw was made from those who’d signed up to my newsletter and the winner, Kaye, chose Prickles as the name. As we did with the amazing Snoop Hoggy Hog who appears in New Arrivals at Hedgehog Hollow, my hubby created a cartoon of Prickles. We saw him as a cheeky Yorkshire chappie in a flat cap, drinking his Yorkshire Tea, standing in the meadow at Hedgehog Hollow. Isn’t he fabulous?
We’ll be running another competition to name a hedgehog for book 4 so watch out for details of that late next month.
Speaking of book 4, we revealed yesterday in the Facebook Live that book 4 will be called A Wedding at Hedgehog Hollow. We don’t have the blurb or cover yet but it’s available for pre-order now right here! It can only appear as a pre-order for Kindle this far in advance but it will be available for pre-order on Kobo and Apple nearer the release date. It’s out in January 2022.
Finally, let’s talk about those hedgehogs scampering up the charts! I knew I’d had a large number of pre-orders for this book – way bigger than anything I’ve experienced before – so I was hoping I might end up with a Top 100 on Amazon. The chart is meant to update hourly but that doesn’t seem to happen and yesterday it was super slow at moving. I made it to #77 by the end of the day and the full impact or those pre-orders was finally shown this morning at #38. I can’t quite believe that. Hubby had asked me what I would be happy with. Obviously I’m happy with it all and I had anticipated perhaps Top 100 on the back of pre-orders but had hoped maybe 70s. A dream would be Top 50 but I genuinely didn’t think that would happen … yet those hedgehogs went one better with Top 40! So proud!
This position has put the hedgehogs at #11 in the Hot New Releases chart and #1 in the same chart in several categories.
Family Secrets at Hedgehog Hollow is sporting #1 Best Seller tags in the UK, Australia, Canada and USA which is such a thrill and it was up to #59 in Australia yesterday. Even more fabulous was that 9 out of my 10 released books had a #1 Best Seller flag at the same time. Wow! Six of them are currently sporting one in the UK.
I’ve just checked the USA chart and am astonished to be a little outside the top 1,000 (#1,259) which is such a thrill knowing how enormous the US market is. And the hedgehogs have cracked the top 1,000 in Canada at #785 just now.
Over on Apple, they made it to #43 in the overall chart yesterday and #9 in the category chart of ‘Fiction and Literature’. They’re on the home page of Kobo too as ‘New and Notable’!
My huge apologies to anyone who is wanting to obtain the paperback version or get it from Audible. Amazon are showing the paperback as ‘currently unavailable’ despite it being a print on demand book and very much available. This is an error on their part and my publishers are working hard to rectify it but they’ve had this with another paperback recently and it did take a week so thank you for your patience. It is showing available for order on Waterstones website here. It doesn’t appear to be on Barnes and Noble yet either but should do soon. It can also be ordered from bookshops, as can any of my paperbacks.
As for Audible, it only appeared yesterday afternoon but it appeared as a pre-order with delivery in a weeks’ time. My publisher is also working with them to rectify this and we are hopeful it will properly be available today or tomorrow. Fingers crossed. Thank you so much for your patience if you’re waiting for either of these formats.
I’ll end by saying a huge THANK YOU to all the amazing readers who pre-ordered Family Secrets at Hedgehog Hollow, making these amazing chart positions possible. THANK YOU to all those who bought or borrowed on publication day. I’m so grateful to everyone who has shared or commented on social media or sent me a private message wishing me a happy publication day and/or telling me how much they’ve loved reading it. It is such a thrill that readers have devoured the book in a day with some even saying they couldn’t sleep until they’d finished it. Wow! That just blows me away!
If you haven’t delved into the Hedgehog Hollow series already, I do strongly recommend starting at the beginning as, although the story in each book is complete, there are themes that carry across the series and threads that further develop. It’s a richer reading experience for starting at the beginning and the great news is that, if you read eBooks, the first two – Finding Love at Hedgehog Hollow and New Arrivals at Hedgehog Hollow – are both still on offer. But grab them fast as the prices will go up soon. Finding Love at Hedgehog Hollow is also in Prime Reading but won’t be for much longer and ALL my books (this series and the Whitsborough Bay stories) are in Kindle Unlimited.
Hope you all have a fabulous week. The hedgehogs and I send you our love and gratitude.