Celebrating Publication Day for Family Secrets at Hedgehog Hollow

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.

Big hedge-hugs
Jessica xx

It’s publication day and I’m wondering if readers will like my unlikeable character

It’s publication day today for book 3 in the Hedgehog Hollow series – Family Secrets at Hedgehog Hollow – and I face the day with the usual blend of excitement, anticipation and also nerves! I’m sure all authors have the same questions whirring round their mind the day a book is released:

  • Where will it chart?
  • When will the first reviews come in?
  • Will readers like it?

When writing a series, there’s the added worry: Will readers like it as much as the last one? 

The bar has been set high for the series with the first two books being extremely well received. At the time of writing Finding Love at Hedgehog Hollow has just over 1,700 reviews/ratings on Amazon with 94% at 4 and 5 star and New Arrivals at Hedgehog Hollow has nearly 1,850 with 93% at 4 and 5 star. That’s a lot of pressure on Family Secrets at Hedgehog Hollow and, while readers love the main character Samantha Wishaw, they do not love her cousin, Chloe Turner.

And this book is partly Chloe’s story…

The first book – Finding Love at Hedgehog Hollow – was told purely from Samantha’s perspective. She’s one of the kindest women ever but she’s had a rough time and there are some family members who don’t treat her well but in whom she still tries to see the best. Readers get to know Samantha, discover how she comes to be the owner of Hedgehog Hollow, and follow her as she gets the hedgehog rescue centre up and running.

Book 2 – New Arrivals at Hedgehog Hollow – continues Samantha’s story with Hedgehog Hollow now open for business. Part of the book is told from her perspective but part of it is from boyfriend Josh’s perspective as we find out all about him and the challenging relationships he has with family members but for very different reasons to the challenges Samantha has.

This dual-perspective approach will continue across the series. Book 3 – Family Secrets at Hedgehog Hollow – adds Chloe’s perspective to Samantha’s. Chloe is Samantha’s cousin and she’s one of the family members who causes Samantha major problems. Readers don’t warm to her and it isn’t surprising as, right at the start of book 1, she marries Samantha’s ex-boyfriend. Eek! That’s going to hurt. I won’t give any spoilers about what else she does for those who might not yet have read the first book, but it’s not good and the overall feeling is that she’s spoilt and selfish and Samantha would be better off without Chloe in her life. 

It therefore may seem like a risk for me to have written a novel where I’m focusing on an unlikeable character but it’s not actually the first time I’ve done this. In the Welcome to Whitsborough Bay series, the second, third and fourth books (New Beginnings at Seaside Blooms, Finding Hope at Lighthouse Cove and Coming Home to Seashell Cottage) include a character called Clare O’Connell who comes across initially as spiky, cold and sarcastic. Coming Home to Seashell Cottage is Clare’s story and readers discover why she’s the way she is and there are so many reviews where the reader comments that they didn’t initially like Clare but, by the end of the book, she’s their favourite.

Could the same be said of Chloe?

What I’m hoping for here is that readers will finish Family Secrets at Hedgehog Hollow understanding Chloe better even if they still don’t like her. I’m sure there will be readers who find that they like her and even a few who can feel themselves starting to fall a little in love with her but I think the latter may be in the minority because of everything that’s gone on before.

What worries me is having some readers who didn’t like Chloe from the previous books (completely understandable) who still don’t like Chloe in this book and, instead of looking at the whole story, they will rate/review the book based on whether or not they’re in Chloe’s fan club.

Whether a reader likes a character or not can massively affect their review for a book. I’ve seen it so often for other authors – Great story but I didn’t like [name of character] – and they give it a 1 or 2-star rating because that character wouldn’t have been on their list of drinking buddies. Yet they’ve acknowledged the story was great. This seems very unfair but I can see the point if that character is the only main character or there’s a book where there are several characters and none of them are likeable. I read a book recently with five or six main characters and none of them were likeable and I have to admit I struggled with the book. I wasn’t rooting for any of them but I kept going believing they were going on a journey and, by the end, I would be cheering for them. It didn’t happen. And here’s why…

There’s a brilliant ‘how to’ book called Save the Cat! by Blake Snyder. (There are also variations like Save the Cat! Goes to the Movies (also Snyder) and Save the Cat! Writes a Novel (Jessica Brody)). The original book is about screenwriting but the lessons can be equally applied to writing a novel. Snyder states, “liking the person we go on a journey with is the single most important element in drawing us into the story” and this is where he gets the title from. He writes about how a movie could have a real badass detective or gangster as the lead character who is potentially not very likeable … BUT there is a scene early on where he saves a cat and this makes the viewer warm to him because we see his nice-guy side and find ourselves rooting for him. This makes me think of the John Wick series of films starring Keanu Reeves. John Wick is an assassin and kills lots of people in those films but we see how much he loved his wife and his dog and that makes us warm to him and root for him.

So can the reader root for Chloe?

Chloe is selfish and self-centred but she has plenty of ‘Save the Cat!’ moments. While she does offload baby Samuel onto Samantha the second she turns up at Hedgehog Hollow, there are many moments where we see how caring and protective she is towards him. She says and does things that upset people but she recognises this and struggles as she reflects on her own behaviour.  And, of course, Samantha keeps giving her chances and we find out why this is the case, again seeing the ‘Save the Cat!’ moments through Samantha’s reflections.

This book is also Samantha’s story and readers love her so it’s understandable they don’t want to see anyone hurt her or take advantage of her. I love it that readers may feel defensive towards her and outraged by Chloe’s initial behaviour. But Chloe’s treatment of her enables Samantha to develop further herself and it also has another positive outcome (but I won’t say what that is to avoid spoilers).

Even if readers still don’t like Chloe, I hope they’ll still enjoy the book because of their love for Samantha, Josh and, of course, the hedgehogs. Afterall, it is ultimately their story and Chloe is just the ‘featured guest’ this book if you like. 

Overall I hope that, whether readers finish the book disliking Chloe or waving a banner declaring #TeamChloe, they will understand her, appreciate the journey she goes on, and love Family Secrets at Hedgehog Hollow as much as the previous two. Fingers crossed!

If you’ve pre-ordered or purchase the book (in any format) at any point today or in the future, a huge thank you to you. Happy reading!

Big hugs
Jessica xx

Making Wishes at Bay View makes wishes come true

The first book in my ‘Welcome to Whitsborough Bay’ series, Making Wishes at Bay View, has reached a huge ratings/reviews milestone on Amazon today, passing the 1,000 point. Woo hoo!

This is the sixth of my books to pass the 1k milestone, joining Finding Love at Hedgehog Hollow, New Arrivals at Hedgehog Hollow, The Secret to Happiness, Christmas at Carly’s Cupcakes and Starry Skies Over The Chocolate Pot Café. and I still have to pinch myself that this has happened.

Before I joined Boldwood Books, this particular book had somewhere in the region of 30-40 reviews on it and none of my books had reached the 100 point, never mind 1,000!

I’m so chuffed that they’re mainly positive too. Thank you to all the readers and bloggers who have taken the time to share the book love and to pass on their recommendations to friends and family. It makes such a difference.

I’m now watching the remaining books in the series. They’re all way past the 700 point with which I’m delighted.

It looks as though Coming Home to Seashell Cottage – the final book in the series – will make it to 1,000 first. I love all the books for different reasons but this is my personal favourite as I love the many twists and turns in the story. I’m not sure whether it has the most reviews out of the remaining three because more readers loved it or because not all readers have reviewed the previous books, instead rating book 4 with their thoughts on the whole series. Whatever the case, this is a very happy sight…

Thank you again for helping Making Wishes at Bay View achieve this amazing milestone today.

Have a fabulous week.

Big hugs
Jessica xx

Celebrating four amazing milestones this week

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

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

But there’s more…

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

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

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

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

But it doesn’t end there…

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

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

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

Have a fabulous week.

Big hugs
Jessica xx

Amazing Kindle Deals in Australia TODAY ONLY

Happy Easter everyone!

Down in Australia, the Easter bunny is delivering a fabulous basket of treats for Kindle readers because a whopping eight of my ebooks … yes, EIGHT of them … are on a very special offer for ONE DAY ONLY.

The four titles in the Welcome to Whitsborough Bay Series, one of my Hedgehog Hollow books, and three more of my Whitsborough Bay books are all reduced to the ridiculously low price of $0.99 for SUNDAY 4th APRIL ONLY:

  • Making Wishes at Bay View (Welcome to Whitsborough Bay book 1)
  • New Beginnings at Seaside Blooms (Welcome to Whitsborough Bay book 2)
  • Finding Hope at Lighthouse Cove (Welcome to Whitsborough Bay book 3)
  • Coming Home to Seashell Cottage (Welcome to Whitsborough Bay book 4)
  • The Secret to Happiness
  • Christmas at Carly’s Cupcakes
  • Starry Skies Over The Chocolate Pot Café
  • New Arrivals at Hedgehog Hollow (Hedgehog Hollow book 2)

And All You Need Is Love and Finding Love at Hedgehog Hollow (book 1 in the Hedgehog Hollow series) are both only $1.89 on offer at the moment too.

So you can get all ten of my Boldwood Books releases for only $11.70!!!

You can find my Amazon Australia books here.

The only book not on offer is Charlee and the Chocolate Shop because that’s due an edit and re-release from Boldwood Books in July so I’d encourage waiting until then to read the fresh version.

Happy Easter and happy reading! Please tell your friends and family and I wish you a fabulous Easter weekend.

Big hugs
Jessica xx

The hedgehogs have just done something unexpected

I like to keep an eye on my reviews. It’s lovely to read kind comments and I like to celebrate milestones like reaching 500 or 1,000 reviews although I still remain astonished that my books have received those sorts of volumes.

This evening, something unexpected happened with the hedgehogs. I’d seen the potential for it happening over the past couple of weeks but wondered if it really would. And it has.

The first book in the Hedgehog Hollow series – Finding Love at Hedgehog Hollow – has been really popular and has gathered an amazing number of reviews/ratings (nearly 1,400 now). It was released in July last year. The second book – New Arrivals at Hedgehog Hollow – has blown me away. Released in January this year, it had already received a whopping 1,000 reviews/ratings on its 2-month anniversary.

And now that second set of hedgehogs have done something else unexpected by overtaking the first set of hedgehogs with their number of reviews.

I’d wondered if this might happen because New Arrivals seemed to be gathering reviews so much quicker than Finding Love. This evening, I noticed there were only 2 reviews in it…

Then only 1…

And then New Arrivals edged ahead!

I hadn’t expected the second book in the series to sell quicker and have more reviews than the first and this certainly isn’t my experience with the Welcome to Whitsborough Bay series where book 1, Making Wishes at Bay View, has the most reviews/ratings out of the four. But the hedgehogs have achieved it.

I find myself wondering why this is the case. It’s doesn’t appear be because readers love New Arrivals more than Finding Love because they both have a 4.7 rating average and the percentage difference is negligible. All I can think is that more readers have dipped in at book 2 and the ‘story so far’ recap at the start has given them sufficient detail about the back story that they haven’t felt the need to go back to the start.

If you can think of another reason why this might have happened, I’d love to hear it!

Well done hedgehogs! If anyone hasn’t yet checked out the series, Finding Love at Hedgehog Hollow is still in Prime Reading and both books are 99p but that price won’t last.

Despite the recap in book 2, I do urge readers to start at the beginning as the actions/reactions of the characters in book 2 make so much more sense after meeting them in book 1. Book 3 – Family Secrets at Hedgehog Hollow – is out on 4th May and available for pre-order now and I definitely wouldn’t recommend that readers dive straight in with that book because they miss out on so much if they do.

Thank you to everyone who has bought/borrowed these books and shared the love. Another month and they should be both past 1,500 reviews. Eek!

Big hugs
Jessica xx

The hedgehogs have conquered America

The first book in the Hedgehog Hollow series – Finding Love at Hedgehog Hollow – was on a BookBub promotion yesterday in the USA.

Starting the day with a chart position of #7,047 those hedgehogs were going to need to work hard to scamper up the charts but they did it! With a peak position of #71, I’m absolutely delighted that they reached the Top 100. Go hedgehogs!

They gathered a stack of #1 best seller tags for different categories on their journey. That little orange tag is such a happy sight and I don’t think I’ll ever grow tired of it.

There was also a knock-on impact on the second book – New Arrivals at Hedgehog Hollow – jumping up the chart too and also the third book on pre-order – Family Secrets at Hedgehog Hollow. The latter might not seem that high a chart position but when you look at the jump of over 74,000 places, it gives more context.

The first two books are still on offer at 99c for a limited time so if you were a BookBub subscriber and missed the offer, it’s still available. You can find Finding Love at Hedgehog Hollow here.

Thank you to my publishers, Boldwood Books, and all the readers who bought these books for making a Top 100 in the USA possible. The hedgehogs are doing a very happy dance today.

Big hugs
Jessica xx

Two months, one book, one thousand reviews

There’s a lot of love around for hedgehogs and my Hedgehog Hollow series is absolutely feeling it because, two months from release, book 2 in the series – New Arrivals at Hedgehog Hollow – has just hit one thousand reviews/ratings on Kindle UK. Eek!

Thank you so much to anyone who has bought/borrowed and shared their love for New Arrivals at Hedgehog Hollow. I posted in January that the book had hit 100 reviews after a week but hitting one thousand on the exact two-month anniversary (it was released on 7th January) is quite astonishing.

And they’re nearly all positive too! Yay!

Have just had a hot chocolate to celebrate. Gosh, I know how to party!

Big hugs
Jessica xx

Reflections on February

It’s a new month so I thought I’d have a look back over February. I confess that I’ve also just signed up to a free trial of Canva Pro so it’s a good excuse to create a few more graphics!

I’ve read some great books this month and have managed to read more than I usually do as I’ve been making a concerted effort to try to read a bit each night before bed. They’re all 5-star reads for me and you can click onto my Goodreads review if you want to know more:

Dreaming Under an Island Skye by Lisa Hobman – Goodreads review here
The House by the Sea by Louise Douglas – Goodreads review here
The Secrets of Meadow Farmhouse by Katie Ginger (available for pre-order) – Goodreads review here
The Juggle by Emma Murray – Goodreads review here

I’ve also read a fabulous novella called The Other Half by my good friend Sharon Booth. This was available exclusively to newsletter subscribers and introduced us to the families who will be the focus of a new series she’s bringing out later this year. You can find out more about subscribing and getting your free copy of the novella here.

I’ve just started Summer Secrets at Streamside Cottage by Samantha Tonge and I’m only three chapters in but I’m gripped by it already so very excited to see where that goes.

I don’t watch a huge amount of TV but hubby and I do try to get a film night in occasionally. At the start of this month we watched The Help which I’ve been meaning to watch for years. By sheer coincidence, it was the third film in a row we’d seen featuring people of colour during the last century (the others being Hidden Figures and Green Book – both brilliant) and the segregation broke my heart.

On my parents’ recommendation, we watched a Netflix film called The Fundamentals of Caring. Knowing Paul Rudd was in it, I was sold on it already but it’s a fabulous film and highly recommended. Funny, poignant and just lovely.

We also watched The Dig on Netflix which we both loved. It was slow and gentle yet somehow completely mesmerising.

Last weekend we watched To Olivia which is a Sky Original about Roald Dahl’s family. Jim Broadbent and Keeley Hawes were amazing as the main characters and it was a really good film but I think I went into it with expectations that it would feel a bit like the brilliant Miss Potter with elements of magic among the darker moments. There were a few but not quite enough for me personally to make it feel like an uplifting film. As I say, I thought it was really good but it was very sad.

That’s a lot of films so I think I might have dipped into January there!

On TV, we’ve started watching Bloodlands which is a BBC1 drama starring James Nesbitt. The first part was brilliant. The second part last night was a little confusing and hubby isn’t so sure but I’m really enjoying the twists and turns of it.

I adore Dancing on Ice and have watched every single series since it started but, my goodness, has this series been plagued with injury and illness. They’ve had to skip a week as they lost so many celebrities early on but have still lost another since then. The poor producers must be tearing their hair out as they probably expected some Covid challenges but not so many injuries. It’s good but I think all the drop-outs have massively impacted on the contestants as I think some have left who might not have done otherwise.

And, finally, the addition of Star to Disney Plus means that I have been able to introduce the munchkin to the brilliant Castle. This US series stars the gorgeous Nathan Fillion as a crime author who shadows detective Kate Beckett who provides the inspiration for the lead character in his new series of books. It’s clever and funny but I had previously only watched a couple of seasons. We thought the munchkin (now 14) might like it and it may stop her binge-watching Pretty Little Liars for the third time. She loves it but isn’t impressed that she can’t binge it and needs to wait for me to have time to watch. We’re going to be working our way through that over the next few months. If you’ve never tried Castle, I highly recommend it.

I’m working on a brand new Christmas novel which will be out on 31st August. It’s a story I originally started writing four years ago to be my first ever Christmas novella but I realised that it was a longer story than that so I parked it. I thought it would be easy returning to something with 10k words already written. It wasn’t. I’ve actually found it my hardest book to write so far. Eek!

Last week I had a catch-up phone call with my editor and we discussed why I was struggling. Part of it is that what I’d written is four years old. My writing has developed since then and I don’t remember where some of the ideas I’d planted were going. But the biggest challenge is that, because it’s several years old, I have been thinking about this book for a long time and have therefore developed so much of the plot in my head. And that goes against my natural style. I am a pantser. I know my main characters really well, I know the premise of the story and I know how it’s going to end but I let the story unfold as I go. I really love seeing where the characters take me but, with this book, I haven’t had quite the same freedom and I’ve found it stifling.

Having said that, now that I’ve worked out why I was struggling, I’m finding it easier and am now up to 45k words. I have five weeks to double that and knock it into shape but I’m really good with deadlines (she says writing a blog post instead of getting on with it) so I’m confident it’ll all come together at the eleventh hour.

It’s been an exciting month with a few amazing achievements for my books:

  • It was a book birthday for New Beginnings at Seaside Blooms and Finding Hope at Lighthouse Cove which were both released on 20th February last year and continue to do me proud with sales and reviews
  • Finding Love at Hedgehog Hollow was accepted for Prime Reading and, just yesterday, got to its highest ever UK Kindle chart position of #31. I’d seen it previously at #34 and have a screenshot of that but it was lovely to see on Author Central (a tracker that shows authors their historic chart positions) that it rose a little higher. It also hit #8 in the Prime Reading chart
  • New Arrivals at Hedgehog Hollow was on a BookBub promotion which peaked at #77 in the UK Kindle chart making it my fifth book to crack the UK Top 100. Woo hoo!
  • Finding Secrets at Hedgehog Hollow entered the Top 400 at #383 and it’s not even out until 4th May so this is based on pre-orders alone. Woo hoo! It was also trending on Kobo as one of the most popular pre-orders. That’s some pretty big names the hedgehogs are partying beside! And it has already eclipsed my own personal record for pre-orders set by New Arrivals with two months still to go. Thank you so much to everyone who has pre-ordered it. I’m so very grateful

I’ve been out and about this month more than I have been for the past few months…

I had my first dental check-up in eighteen months which was a combined appointment with the munchkin. I’ve been suffering from vertigo since mid-January and, although it’s really mild, I didn’t want to risk driving so hubby drove us. Our dental practice is right by Sainsbury’s so hubby did the weekly shop while we had our appointment. When he returned to the car, it had a flat battery and Green Flag would be at least two hours so we needed to get a local garage out to jumpstart us then fit a new battery. Glad hubby was with me as I’m more than capable of sorting that out but prefer to leave car-related stuff to him.

I also left the house to get my first Covid vaccination. I’m not in the age group but I have underlying health conditions. I was so impressed with the efficiency of the set-up of the whole thing. I’m relieved to have had my first jab but will feel more relaxed when hubby’s had his. I’ve heard about the side effects some friends have had and count myself very fortunate that mine were very limited. About an hour or so afterwards, I felt very fluey for about half an hour – sweats, shivers, headachy – but it soon went. My arm ached and felt heavy and I struggled to sleep that night but it was fine by the end of the next day.

I’ve also been out for a couple of walks to stop me being welded to the office chair. We’re lucky that we have the coast right on our doorstep but what used to be a quiet coastal walk where you’d only see the occasional dog-walker has become a phenomenally popular walk and extremely people-y. And many of those people seem to struggle with the concept of social distancing despite having a road rather than a path to walk along (the road was blocked off for vehicles years ago). Being in a higher-risk group (but not one high enough to self-isolate), it puts me on edge which is why I barely leave the house.

As the Government guidelines permit travel within the local area and of a short distance to find an open space, we went to the south part of South Bay in Scarborough yesterday (usually not too people-y as there aren’t many amenities at that end) and to a forest just outside Scarborough the Sunday before. There was quite a difference in temperature between the two weekends, as you can see by me being bundled up in my hat and scarf in the forest!

Wishing you a fabulous start to March and another step closer to being able to meet with friends and family again. Right, really must get some more of this novel written…

Big hugs
Jessica xx

Two books in the UK Kindle Top 100 at the same time. Woo hoo!

I’m very tired this morning. Actually, I’m tired most mornings but I was super-duper extra tired this morning because I’d been up at various points in the night checking chart positions. I assure you I’m not normally that committed – or perhaps I should say obsessed – but New Arrivals at Hedgehog Hollow was on a BookBub promotion in the UK, Australia and Canada yesterday/overnight which is always exciting as it can mean high positions.

What is BookBub? Avid readers can sign up to it for free in exchange for details of book promotions. You choose the genres you’re interested in reading, your favourite authors, and whether you like ebooks, audio or both. Every day at around 3pm GMT, BookBub email a newsletter to their subscribers with details of a small number of promotions based on the selections they’ve made. For an author/publisher to secure a BookBub deal, a book must be on offer – I think it has to be at least half price – or free. It’s a great way for readers to keep on top of bargains.

BookBub’s subscriber database is ginormous and having a BookBub promo usually has a significant impact on chart positions. Even though the Kindle charts are meant to be updated hourly, this isn’t always the case and there’s often a lag. There is also a time difference across the regions so the greatest chart impact can often be in the UK’s early hours, hence my nocturnal activities last night!

New Arrivals at Hedgehog Hollow was already close to the Kindle Top 100 in the UK before the newsletter came out so I was pretty sure it would make it inside the Top 100 but wasn’t sure how far. Those hedgehogs scampered up to #77.

All my previous BookBub promos have resulted in higher chart positions in Australia and Canada than the UK so I was particularly excited to see how high New Arrivals at Hedgehog Hollow would reach in those regions. Finding Love at Hedgehog Hollow had made it to #40 in Canada and #20 in Australia when it was on a BookBub last October but The Secret to Happiness and Starry Skies Over The Chocolate Pot Cafe had made it even higher in both regions. How would the second hedgehog outing fare?

This time, the hedgehogs didn’t perform quite as well in Canada with a peak of only #263 late last night. It’s still a great chart position and something that, 18 months ago, I never dreamed I’d ever achieve but it’s significantly lower than the other four promos I’ve had (Making Wishes at Bay View was also in a BookBub last year and, although it didn’t get as high as the other three, it still made it into the Top 100). I don’t know why New Arrivals didn’t do as well as my other books and I could go into circles speculating so I’ll celebrate the Top 300 position instead and be very happy with that.

It was also a lower chart position in Australia than the previous four but the hedgehogs did still crack into the Top 100 with a peak of #67 late this morning in Australia meaning all five of my Aus BookBubs made it into the Top 100. Thank you Australia!

So a very valiant attempt by the hedgehogs and I’m very proud of their performance. But what is even better is ticking off yet another goal that wasn’t even a goal: two books in the UK Top 100 at the same time!

Finding Love at Hedgehog Hollow (book 1) is currently in Prime Reading and was already in the Top 100 but it was so lovely to see New Arrivals at Hedgehog Hollow (book 2) joining it. I managed to capture them at #58 and #77 respectively. They’ve both dropped a few places now although, at the time of writing this, they’re still both in the Top 100. They both remain on promotion in the UK at only 99p and will stay that way for a limited time, with Finding Love still being in Prime Reading for another couple of months. New Arrivals at Hedgehog Hollow will remain on offer in Canada and Australia for a short while too.

A huge thank you to everyone who has helped both Hedgehog Hollow books to get into the Top 100 at the same time. Yesterday, my amazing publisher Boldwood Books announced a new record for their authors with a whopping eight titles in the Top 100. New Arrivals joining them today made a new record of nine. Massive congratulations to Shari Low, Rosie Clarke, Gemma Rogers, Judy Leigh, Louise Douglas and Portia MacIntosh – writing across a variety of genres – for their Top 100 success. Go Team Boldwood!

And, to help the celebrations, it’s amazing to see six of my books with bestseller tags today in the UK, including the third book in the Hedgehog Hollow series – Family Secrets at Hedgehog Hollow – which is still only on pre-order but storming the charts. Thank you so much to everyone who has pre-ordered it.

Wishing you all the best for a great end to the week and a relaxing weekend.

Big hugs
Jessica xx