FREE Romance of the Week in MORE territories

I blogged yesterday to say that Finding Love at Hedgehog Hollow was the FREE Book of the Week on AppleBooks in the UK. It’s currently #1 in the overall FREE chart and the Romance category chart.

I have exciting news! It is also the FREE Book of the Week on AppleBooks in IRELAND where it is also currently #1 in both free charts. Woo hoo!

FREE Book of the Week in UK and Ireland

And there’s more!!!!

I announced that Finding Love at Hedgehog Hollow was the FREE Romance of the Week in Australia, Canada and USA. More news… it’s also on that promotion in NEW ZEALAND too!

So loads of AppleBooks territories around the world where you can grab the start of the Hedgehog Hollow series for absolutely nothing.

Romance of the Week in Australia, Canada, New Zealand & USA

I’m really excited to see the hedgehogs have just entered the Top 20 in the USA’s and Canada’s free charts this morning.

And perhaps treat yourself to books 2 and 3 – New Arrivals at Hedgehog Hollow and Family Secrets at Hedgehog Hollow – while you’re at it!

The hedgehogs and I wish you happy (free) reading!

If you’re not an Apple user but you have friends/family who are, please do spread the word!

This offer will continue across the weekend but I believe it will be back up to normal price on Monday (depending on timezone).

Big hedge-hugs
Jessica xx

A golden day down under and the bears were out climbing

I had a really busy Easter weekend, finishing editing book 13 and a couple of exciting promotions on my books.

The first promotion was a Kindle Goldbox in Australia. This is a special promotion that Amazon Kindle run on a Sunday. The author needs to have at least six titles with the same publisher and they need to have been at £2.99 or more (or the overseas equivalent) for at least two months. If accepted for a Goldbox, the price will drop to 99p for a 24-hour period and Amazon will heavily promote the deal.

I’d noticed this in the UK charts for the first time last year but didn’t know why. I spotted that all the books in the Hitchhikers Guide to the Galaxy series were in the Top 50 and I wondered whether it might have been the anniversary of author Douglas Adams’s birthday or death but it wasn’t. I noticed the same happening for other authors over subsequent Sundays and discovered from my publisher about the Goldbox promotion.

On Sunday, eight of my titles went on a Goldbox promotion in Australia and I can’t thank the readers in Australia enough for responding so positively to the deal and delivering these amazing results:

  • #10 for The Secret to Happiness
  • 3 x other titles in the Top 50 (New Beginnings at Seaside Blooms, Finding Hope at Lighthouse Cove and New Arrivals at Hedgehog Hollow)
  • 3 x more Top 100 titles (Making Wishes at Bay View, Coming Home to Seashell Cottage and Starry Skies Over The Chocolate Pot Café)
  • #1 Best seller Tags on all the books

And what was even more amazing was all seven of these titles were in the Kindle Top 100 at the same time!

The only title that didn’t make it into the Top 100 was Christmas at Carly’s Cupcakes which wasn’t really a surprise considering it’s a long way from Christmas (even Australia’s Christmas in July celebrations). It still did me proud with a #149 position. (For some reason, I don’t seem to have a screenshot of it but I do have one of the Movers & Shakers chart showing the jump up the chart).

It was tricky keeping watch of the promo due to the time difference so I confess I got very little sleep on Saturday night/Sunday morning.

Then around mid-afternoon GMT on Sunday, it was the turn of the bears. All You Need Is Love (set partially in a specialist teddy bear shop, hence the reference to the bears) was on a BookBub promotion in the UK, Canada and Australia. This is where an email goes out to thousands of subscribers alerting them to books on offer. The bears climbed up the chart to #45 in Australia, #81 in Canada and #127 in the UK. Well done those bears!

I got very little sleep on Sunday night/Monday morning keeping my eye on that promotion too! Soooo sleepy now.

The Goldbox offer has ended but there is still a discount on All You Need Is Love so not too late to bag a 99p (or overseas equivalent) bargain. The first two Hedgehog Hollow books are also discounted just now.

A huge thanks to my amazing publisher, Boldwood Books, for making this possible and achieving yet another dream that wasn’t even a dream with 7 Top 100 books in Australia at the same time. That feels pretty special.

Hope you have an amazing second week of the Easter holidays.

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 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

The one where I find The Secret to Happiness in the USA

Today, one of my books cracked the Kindle Top 40 in the USA and, if I wasn’t full of my delicious tea (thanks hubby), I’d be doing a happy dance round my office right now!

The Secret to Happiness – my first release from publisher Boldwood Books back in September 2019 – was accepted for a BookBub promotion. It was the very first promotion I’ve had for any of my books in the US market so how it might perform was very much an unknown entity.

With such an enormous number of books available in the USA, impact on the charts would be a challenge. I hoped that it would make it into the Top 1,000. Secretly I hoped for Top 100 but realistically didn’t expect it.

A year ago, the same book got to #9 on a BookBub in Canada and #20 in Australia but we’re talking smaller markets here.

The starting position yesterday afternoon when the BookBub newsletter landed in inboxes was #43,248 so it had a lot of climbing to do!

The Secret to Happiness clambered away and it must have been at peak fitness as it certainly did me so proud. At bedtime, it was up to #660 and had gained several category #1 Bestseller Awards. In the early hours of this morning, it hit #138, then #53 and, shortly after 6am, it was at #35! Eek!!!!

I figured that would be it – no chance of going higher – and a slight drop late morning today to #37 suggested it had peaked. But it climbed those 2 places again and another 3 more a bit later this afternoon, reaching #32.

THANK YOU so much to the amazing Boldwood Books for putting me forward for the promotion, to BookBub, and to anyone in the USA who has downloaded The Secret to Happiness. I hope you enjoy it. I love the story of Alison, Karen and Danniella and it will always be a super-special one to me as it’s the book that secured me a publishing deal with Boldwood and completely changed my life.

If you’re not a BookBub subscriber, do check out Amazon.com as I believe it may be 99c for the eBook for a smidge longer.

If you’d like to find The Secret to Happiness, it’s available as an eBook for all formats, on Kindle Unlimited, paperback, on streaming services, for audio download, physical audio formats and via the uLibrary app in UK libraries or Hoopla for US libraries. You can find it on Amazon Kindle here.

Thank you again.

Big hugs

Jessica x

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…

An uplifting story of friendship and finding the strength to come to terms with the past. Perfect for fans of Tilly Tennant and Cathy Bramley.

My name’s Jessica and I have imposter syndrome – Part 2

Yesterday, I issued the first of a week of blog posts about imposter syndrome. Here’s the plan for the series:

  • Monday – The theory behind it – what it is and how it manifests itself
  • Tuesday – Where it comes from and how mine started
  • Wednesday – How it affects me as an author
  • Thursday – Coping strategies
  • Friday – Recognising it in others and helping them

You can go back to read Monday’s post here.

Warning: Today’s post is longer than yesterday’s and also more personal.

Why does imposter syndrome happen? 

The concept – originally called ‘imposter phenomenon’ – was first identified by psychologists Suzanna Imes and Pauline Rose Clance in 1978. At the time, it was thought to apply to high-achieving women. It’s now recognised that it can affect anyone regardless of gender, work background, skill level or expertise. So basically any of us can experience it and most of us will.

In fact, according to Cuncic’s article (referenced yesterday), “it is estimated that 70% of people will experience at least one episode of this phenomenon in their lives”. Wow! Big percentage!

Image by Keshav Naidu from Pixabay 

Have you ever started a new job and initially felt out of your depth because it’s all so new? I certainly have. It usually takes time to get up to speed, work out who’s who and what’s what. It’s natural to worry during this transition period that you’ll disappoint the person who recruited you and that you might have both made a big mistake. This is imposter syndrome. But you usually soon settle in and start contributing and those feelings go away. 

I say usually because this is not the case for everyone. For some, this feeling of imposter syndrome sticks around for much longer, like a guest at a house party who’s just opened another can when all you want to do is crawl into bed and sleep.

Why do we feel like this? Why is this feeling of being an imposter so much longer and more intense for some?

Image by Free-Photos from Pixabay 

Various things can trigger imposter syndrome ranging from how an individual was treated during their childhood to experiences years down the line as an adult in employment.

Examples include:

  • Coming from a high-achieving family where expectations are very high
  • Only being praised for high success and never for a good attempt
  • Never being praised for succeeding or perhaps being ignored
  • Only ever receiving criticism
  • Having flaws pointed out when there has been success e.g. You got 99% on your test – what happened to the other 1%? You scored 3 goals but you would have scored 4 if you’d passed the ball properly. We won the client’s business but only after you sorted out those problems you’d caused
  • A role change e.g. starting college, university, a new job, a promotion
  • Being passed over for a promotion, training or other opportunities at work
  • Being over-looked for bonuses and/or a pay rise at work

For me, I will put it straight out there that my imposter syndrome is nothing to do with my parents. I remember being encouraged to work hard, being praised when I did well and not being criticised when anything was a struggle. I feel the need to emphasise that because my mum will be reading this and I know she’ll worry. Mum – it’s absolutely nothing you or Dad did or didn’t do so please relax xx

Image by StartupStockPhotos from Pixabay 

Having said that, it did start for me in childhood and became worse when I entered the world of work…

How did my imposter syndrome start? 

Right at the start of yesterday’s post, I said I suffer from imposter syndrome. It’s a term I started using loosely about six or seven years ago without a real understanding of what it meant and how badly I’d suffered from it in the past. At the time, I was an aspiring writer and had joined the Romantic Novelist’s Association (RNA). I attended a conference where I brushed shoulders with really famous authors. Eek! We’re talking authors whose books I’ve read and loved. Authors I idolised. And I had this overwhelming feeling that I had no right to be there, that I didn’t belong. 

At this point, I must emphasise that this wasn’t any RNA members saying or doing anything to make me feel like this; this was all my issue. I never even approached any of them to introduce myself because, in my mind, why would they want to speak to me – a nobody – when I was so clearly out of my depth?

Image by StockSnap from Pixabay 

Thoughts raced through my mind preventing me from saying “hello”:

Author A is soooo famous

Author B is a Sunday Times No 1 Bestseller

Author C has sold millions of books worldwide

I could never achieve that. Why am I even here?

I felt like I didn’t belong and never would and, for someone who is normally confident, I felt extremely inadequate and anxious in that social setting. It was ridiculous. I knew it was ridiculous but I couldn’t seem to change how I felt.

Yes, there were some very famous and successful authors there. But there were also mid-listers, authors with whom I was unfamiliar, authors who’d written a couple of books years ago and attended for the social aspect. Plus, there were large numbers of attendees who, like me, hoped one day to be published. I’d find myself watching the latter in astonishment as they chatted easily to published authors and wished I could do that. I wished I felt like I had a right to be there.

I thought it would be different a couple of years later when I braved the conference again, this time as a published author. It wasn’t. I still felt this sense of not belonging. Of being a failure. 

This time a whole new set of thoughts ran through my mind:

I had a publishing deal but my publisher ceased trading so it’s nothing special, is it?

My books don’t sell well

My books don’t climb the charts

I don’t get #1 Best Seller tags on Amazon

I’ve never had a Kindle bonus for pages read

I’ve never been contacted by a reader to say they love my work

Again, this sense of not belonging was nothing anyone said or did but it was my own internalised feelings brought on by the dreaded imposter syndrome.

Away from other authors, I couldn’t even bring myself to admit that I was one. “What do you do?” someone might ask. Stock answer: “I work in HR.” Because there was the fear that, if I admitted I was an author, there’d be the dreaded question: “Would I have heard of you?” Er, no. I’m a nobody. Only my mum and a very small number of friends and family have ever bought and read my books.

Then this year, something strange, unexpected and perhaps a little bit scary happened. Actually, it was something quite amazing and wonderful and signalled all of my dreams coming true … but my reaction to it made me realise that I absolutely do suffer from imposter syndrome in the truest sense of what it means. It’s not just about me being in awe and a bit fan-girly when I’m surrounded my famous/successful authors. It runs so much deeper than that. I’m going to talk a lot more in tomorrow’s post about how imposter syndrome has affected me as an author but, first, I think it’s important to understand where it came from because that’s something I’ve only just realised myself in the past month or so. 

In order to do that, the starting point is to look at the types of imposter syndrome I demonstrate.

Types of imposter syndrome

The theory suggests that there are five main types of imposter syndrome and I recognise three of these in myself so these are the ones I’m focusing on:

Image by WhisperingJane_ASMR from Pixabay 

The perfectionist: 

This individual believes their work can always be better and tends to focus on any flaws or mistakes instead of focusing on what they’ve done well.

Image by Wee Siang Toh from Pixabay 

The superhero:

Because of feelings of inadequacy, this individual feels they must push themselves to work as hard as possible. This could involve working long hours, taking on extra responsibilities, and/or going over and above what’s expected or needed.

Image by ds_30 from Pixabay 

The expert:

This form of imposter syndrome is where the individual is always trying to learn more and doesn’t feel satisfied with the understanding they already have. They undervalue their expertise even though they may actually be highly skilled/knowledgeable. They may focus on what they don’t know/can’t do instead of what they do know/can do.

The perfectionist trait is where I suffer the most. It’s something I’ve been aware of all my life. At senior school, I always put in that bit extra effort with my homework because I felt like one of the invisible kids who didn’t excel but didn’t cause trouble and therefore flew under the teachers’ radar. ‘Quiet’ was a phrase that regularly appeared on my school reports.

I didn’t have a huge circle of friends and was bullied at school so I threw myself into studying figuring I might fail at being popular but I could aim for perfection in my grades. This, in turn, led to further bullying! Irony eh?

I joined a graduate scheme for a high street bank after university and felt invisible again. A clique formed among the majority of other graduate trainees and I was one of a handful of outsiders to this. It didn’t seem to bother the others as they had partners but I was single at the time and it definitely bothered me. It gave rise to all sorts of feelings of inadequacy: They don’t want to spend time with me. I’m obviously boring. I’m no fun. I’ve got nothing of value to add to the group.

My feelings of inadequacy triggered the superhero mode. I threw myself into my job, working hard, working long hours, being enthusiastic about my work, sharing ideas and was rewarded with … my first of many experiences of bullying in the workplace.

Image by Gerd Altmann from Pixabay 

While on the graduate scheme, one manager gave me a project that was set up for failure then reprimanded me for limited progress. Another repeatedly allocated me very little work then would suddenly have something urgent I had to do on a Friday afternoon. I’d have to work late to complete it when she knew I went away at weekends to see my then-boyfriend who lived a couple of hours away.

It was a few years later that I discovered independently from colleagues on each of those teams that both managers had been vocal about how they resented me for being on a fast-track programme to management, didn’t like that I was enthusiastic and confident in voicing ideas when I was so new to work and should know nothing, and therefore they wanted to take me down a peg or two. Who does that?

Graduates completing the scheme were appointed into permanent positions at grade M5 or M4 (M for management, 4 being higher). An opportunity arose that was perfect for my skills (training design and delivery) but it was a higher grade of M3. I applied and, to my surprise and delight, I got the job. An M3 appointment was practically unheard of for those coming off the graduate scheme yet I’d secured it. Yay!

My joy was short-lived. One of my fellow graduate trainees – a clique leader – was on a training course with me and asked if the rumours were true about my appointment at M3. When I admitted they were, she looked me up and down with her lip curled and said: “How on earth did you get an M3 position?’ I’m only 5’ 2” so I feel pretty small every day but, that day, I’d never felt so small and insignificant. 

We’re talking 25 years ago and I still vividly remember how I felt. That’s how much it impacted on me. Still does.

And do you know what I said in response? I gave a classic imposter syndrome reaction and down-played my success: They couldn’t confirm whether the role would be Birmingham or London so not many people applied. I therefore got it by default. 

Yes, the thing about location was true but my new manager had specifically told me that I’d been the best person for the job and she would never have appointed me if she didn’t think that. She’d also said that she’d been advised by the graduate manager that she could offer me a M4 grade which was more usual but she personally felt that my skills and experiences justified the M3 appointment. I knew that. Yet I didn’t share it. Because I didn’t feel I had the right to have that grade because of how the bullying managers had made me feel. I couldn’t find the words to declare proudly that I had the skills and capability because they had made me doubt it.

The bullying continued throughout my working life. I had some amazing managers for whom I’m eternally grateful – including the manager who gave me that first management position – but it’s the bullies who escalated my imposter syndrome. I’d learned the hard way that a confident young manager caused resentment so I embraced my inner perfectionist, superhero and expert by working long hours, lapping up all the knowledge I could to become an expert in my role and hopefully provide justification for any future progression. I hoped that my high-quality, perfectionist work would speak for itself and I wouldn’t need to shout about any achievements.

This plan back-fired.

I’ve always worked in Human Resources and my roles have typically been unique specialist ones. At a result, I had lots of manager changes both at the bank and in other roles because the business couldn’t quite decide where my specialism should sit on the structure chart. It was worst at the bank with a new manager roughly every 6-12 months. Every single one of those managers passed me over for the annual bonus.

Image by bluebudgie from Pixabay 

I remember sitting in the office of one manager who’d never bothered to get to know anything about me or my role. He said, “I think I’ve allocated you a small bonus but I can’t remember how much.” He’d printed out a spreadsheet for everyone in the team. My maiden surname was Williams so I was at the bottom of the alphabetical list. I watched him scroll down with a piece of paper, revealing amounts ranging from £500 up to a whopping £5k. Then he got to mine. £0. “Oh yes, that’s right,” he said. “You’ve not been on my team for long and I don’t really know you so I haven’t allocated anything this year.” He didn’t even have the emotional intelligence to sound apologetic or to appear embarrassed that he’d just shown me everyone else’s bonus and I was the only one with nothing. The ONLY one. Would the person with £5k really have noticed much difference if they’d received £4.5k instead and I’d got £500? I smiled politely, thanked him (why????), returned to my office and sobbed my heart out. It wasn’t about the money although, as a skint graduate up to my eyeballs in debt, it would have come in very useful. Instead, it was the principle. I couldn’t seem to win. Show confidence and be vocal with ideas and I got bullied. Get on with my job quietly and I got ignored.

It became a recurring theme for the rest of my career. The bullies made me feel so inadequate that, the couple of times I did get promoted, I kept waiting for someone to tap me on the shoulder: We’ve made a mistake. We meant to appoint someone else. You’re not good enough and never will be. And when I got over-looked for other bonuses or promotions or was the only person on a team to be made redundant, it was a self-fulfilling prophecy: See! I wasn’t good enough and they knew it which is why this happened.

I mentioned in yesterday’s post that imposter syndrome isn’t about lack of self-confidence or self-esteem but is instead about self-doubt. I’m actually a really confident person in most situations. With a background in recruitment and training, I’m used to speaking in public and I love it. Gives me such a buzz. As for self-esteem, I’m very conscious about my weight but it doesn’t affect my self-esteem most of the time. My food demons also go back to being bullied but that’s a separate issue and nothing to do with imposter syndrome so I won’t talk about it now. So I don’t have a lack of self-confidence and I don’t have low self-esteem. But I frequently crumble with self-doubt because of my imposter syndrome. Damn you imposter syndrome!

Throughout my time in HR, I worked my socks off, being the perfectionist, superhero and expert. I achieved some awards, I exceeded objectives, I had amazing feedback from customers and, as stated earlier, I did have some fabulous managers who made me feel valued. I knew I was good at my job because of the effort I put into it and because of those who were kind. Yet I never felt good enough. I never felt like I deserved a management position. I kept waiting for it to be taken away from me and, when I was made redundant several times, that felt like my punishment for trying to be more than I really was. Despite all the successes and the many occasions where I had positive feedback, the voices that spoke the loudest came from the manager who seemed to get a kick out of making me cry (something he did on more occasions than I care to remember), the manager who laughed at me and asked me why I cared so much about my job, the HR Director who rolled his eyes at me and didn’t even try to hide how bored he was when I asked for his advice, the manager who passed off my work as her own then put me forward for redundancy, the two managers who bullied me on the graduate scheme, the one who showed me my zero bonus…

Those voices have stayed with me for over two decades. Those voices have carried over into my writing career. Those voices have given me imposter syndrome.

This year, my amazing publishers, Boldwood Books, have done things for my career as an author that have been beyond my wildest dreams. But that damn imposter syndrome has been there throughout every success like a fly buzzing around my ear, stopping me from enjoying every amazing moment.

Tomorrow, I’ll talk about what that looks like…

Big hugs

Jessica xx

The one where I become an international bestseller

IMG_6926

All writers have dreams and I’m no exception. Yet this week I achieved a dream that actually wasn’t even a dream. It felt like something so out of reach that I’d never even contemplated it for my wish list so I was astounded and thrilled when I became an international bestseller last night. Eek!

My new-found status comes on the back of a BookBub promotion in Australia and Canada. BookBub promote eBooks for free or bargain prices to their 10 million subscribers. The Secret to Happiness was offered for $1.64 in Australia and 99 cents in Canada. The promotion didn’t kick in until mid-afternoon yesterday but, once it started, it was so exciting refreshing the Amazon and Apple Australia and Canada sites to see progress.

It was particularly lovely for me to have a BookBub in both of these countries because I’ve visited both and it’s brought back fond memories…

IMG_7140CANADA

When I was 8, I visited Canada very briefly. And I mean very briefly as in for a few hours. My family went on a big holiday to the USA and took in Niagara Falls as part of that trip so we disembarked the Maid of the Mist on the Canadian side for an explore.

Twenty-five years later, I returned for my honeymoon and, this time, it was a few weeks instead of a few hours.

Hubby and I married in late September so we were actually in Canada this time 14 years ago. We decided to focus on British Columbia, starting in Vancouver.

IMG_7146
Whale-Watching on Vancouver Island

We spent a few days there, then caught a seaplane to Vancouver Island where we stayed for a few nights. After another night back in Vancouver, we took The Rocky Mountaineer up to Jasper. Such a beautiful place.

After a few nights there, we hired a car and made our way to Banff via Lake Louise where it started to snow.

The hills and mountains were all covered in snow and some of the roads to more remote lakes were already closed off ready for the heavy snowfall.

Our final stop was Calgary although we much preferred Jasper, Banff and Lake Louise.

 

We were hoping to go to Canada again for hubby’s 50th next year but he’s a keen photographer so wants to time it right for good photos, which doesn’t time right for school holidays. We may need to postpone a few years when our daughter has finished school. It’s such a stunning part of the world and the people are so friendly.

And there are lots of bears. We saw a few from the window of The Rocky Mountaineer which was amazing. Looking through the photo album, I noticed a bit of a trend of me having my photo taken next to stuffed or wooden carved bears. Good times!

Amazon Canada No 9 in Paid ChartBack to the BookBub promo in Canada, here’s a few stats:

Starting position #256,592 on Amazon Canada

Ending position #9 in the overall Amazon Canada Paid Chart

Achieved #1 bestseller in all these categories, some of which are slightly dubious but it’s Amazon’s algorithms at work and out of our control:

  • Clean & Wholesome Romance (hmm, not quite)
  • Holiday Fiction
  • Holiday Romance
  • Mashup Fiction
  • Sea Adventures (Yo ho ho and a bottle of rum me hearties!)
  • Sea Stories
  • Small Town & Rural Life

On Apple Canada, the top position reached was #7 in the overall chart and #3 in the Fiction & Literature chart.

Apple Canada No 6 in Paid ChartThank you so much, Canada. Yesterday was actually Thanksgiving in Canada. We were in Jasper for Thanksgiving on our honeymoon (it fell on 10th October) and, at that time, I had written about half of quite a poor novel. As we tucked into our Thanksgiving meal and celebrated with the locals, I never dreamed that 14 years later, my tenth book would make it to the top ten of the Canada charts! I am very thankful to the readers in Canada for helping The Secret to Happiness to soar so high.
AUSTRALIA

IMG_7132Twenty years ago, one of my best friends, Catryn, asked me if I’d like to go to New Zealand with her to visit her sister who’d emigrated out there. Yes please!

If we were going to travel to the other side of the world, we decided might as well go for a month and take in Australia and Bali too. Yeah, I know! Way too ambitious. In a month, we’d have only covered a small part of New Zealand or Australia alone, never mind both of them and Bali too! It worked out roughly at 10 days in NZ, 10 days in Aus, and 6 in Bali.

We spent February 2000 there and our trip to Australia was split between Sydney, Alice Springs/Uluru, and Cairns/The Great Barrier Reef. The weather was very inclement. It was overcast when we visited The Sydney Opera House and horrendous when we went to Uluru. You know when you see photos of people at Uluru and it’s a vibrant red/orange colour with a bright blue sky behind it? That wasn’t us.

Our trip took in a fairly nice sunset the evening before but our actual visit to the rock the following day was in a thunderstorm! We had to wear bin liners and negotiate floods as we made our way around the base.

Climbing the rock wasn’t an option as it was too dangerous. In some ways, I was quite pleased about that because I was having a moral dilemma about whether to climb or not. Part of me wanted to climb for the experience but a bigger part of me didn’t want to because I knew that the traditional owners wished against this in respect of their laws and culture. I didn’t think I had the right to over-ride that. I actually thought that the climb had since been stopped permanently but I Googled it and have discovered this will finally happen later this month.

We were actually lucky to get to Alice Springs and out to Uluru at all because the previous trip had been cancelled due to flooded roads.

The weather didn’t improve for a few days diving on The Great Barrier Reef either. The reef was all churned up and choppy and looked more like The North Sea than the stunning turquoise images we’re used to seeing.

It was an amazing experience, though, and I’d love to go back one day but take more time. Oh, and I wish I was as fat now as I thought I was when I was there. It’s scary how you can perceive your own body. I thought I was enormous. Hmm.

Onto my BookBub promotion in Australia. Being ten hours ahead of us, it was only late evening when I started moving up the Australian charts and I had a feeling it was going to be the early hours of the morning when it peaked and I’d miss it. I couldn’t stay awake, though. After retiring at about 12.45am, I awoke again around 3.00am and was thrilled to see I’d made it to #22 although I rose a little higher earlier today.

Amazon Australia No 20 in Paid ChartStarting position #174,463 on Amazon Australia

Ending position #20 in the overall Amazon Australia Paid Chart

Achieved #1 bestseller in even more categories, some of which are also slightly obscure:

  • Family Life Fiction
  • History (very random)
  • Holiday Fiction
  • Holiday Romance
  • Mashup Fiction
  • Parenting & Relationships
  • Sea Adventure Fiction
  • Sea Stories
  • Small Town & Rural Fiction
  • Travel
  • Women’s Fiction About Domestic Life

On Apple Australia, the top position reached was #26, and #7 on the Fiction & Literature Chart.

Apple Australia No 26 in Paid Chart
Thank you so much to all those readers in Australia who downloaded The Secret to Happiness and helped it get so high.

I cannot thank my publishers, Boldwood Books, enough for the amazing job they are doing in promoting and supporting all their authors. As I said right at the start, this wasn’t even on my radar as a dream so I am quite overwhelmed. It’s very likely the chart position will drop now that the promotion has ended but I’m thrilled to be able to say I got there and I have a million screenshots to prove it!

Jessica xx

An Author-ly Good Couple of Days

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Happy weekend! I’ve had an incredible end to the week, thanks to three amazing things that have happened.

1. My Very First Author Talk!

I’ve received wonderful support from my local libraries. A year ago, before I knew I had a publishing contract, I met a woman called Sharon at a works careers fair. She works for North Yorkshire Libraries. We got chatting between conversations with job-seekers and I told her I was a writer. I also explained that I was a Brown Owl and that I’d be interested in bringing my Brownie Pack to our local library (her base) at some point to complete our Booklover Badge. Earlier this year, I was able to get in touch to organise the Brownie night … and to tell her that I had a publishing deal. Sharon was thrilled to bits about this. My husband also has a contact at the library through his photography and, between both contacts, we organised for me to talk at Scarborough Library and also a smaller library on the outskirts of the town. The latter one isn’t until September, but Scarborough Library was on Thursday night. Eek!

10945679_10153485965344073_4084184173099668412_nI was a little nervous about it. A lot of writer friends are very nervous about the idea of speaking to an audience but I’ve been a Trainer for years so this doesn’t phase me at all, although it’s a little different presenting about me instead of work-based subjects. What made me nervous was the thought of nobody turning up. Or, even worse, a couple of people turning up, realising I’m a romantic comedy writer, turning round and walking out in disgust! I was stunned and delighted when I had an audience of twelve, plus Sharon, and the presentation was incredibly well received. I really enjoyed delivering it and got some great questions afterwards. Four attendees even bought a copy of my book and a couple said they’d download it onto their Kindles.

Thank you so much to Scarborough Library for hosting the event. Sharon also confirmed a great piece of news. I submitted Steven to be considered for the library stock and she was able to confirm that they’ll definitely be stocking it at all the libraries in North Yorkshire. Wow! Not only that but, as a local author, I’ll appear twice: in the main section and in the local author section. Very excited about this. I love the idea that my writing can be enjoyed by more and more people by being available in so many different places.

2. Riding High in the Charts

11401501_432174206971006_984189043329891591_nSearching for Steven was selected for a BookBub promotion on Thursday. BookBub are a US company who promote quality books when they’re at significantly reduced prices. Publishers have to apply to appear on this and they’re very selective about who they pick so I was thrilled when my publisher’s application for Steven was accepted. People join mailing lists, picking their preferred genres of books, and BookBub email them with the books they’ve accepted for promo each day. This can boost sales but nothing quite prepared me for how significantly it boosted mine. There are over 400,000 books registered on the UK Amazon charts and, today, I reached number 399! I also peaked at number 25 in the romantic comedy chart which is an incredibly competitive one.

With being a US promotion, Steven has also shot up the Amazon.com chart to number 143,990. I have no idea how many books are registered on there but, if there are over 400,000 on .co.uk, we’re probably talking millions on .com!

To participate in the promotion, Steven was reduced to a 99p download and is going to be available at that price for a short time longer so, if you haven’t already bagged yourself a bargain, now’s your chance!

3. Local Support

Spurred on by the success of Steven today, I decided to visit Waterstones to see if they’ll stock my book. I spoke to a lovely manager and she was exceedingly complimentary about Steven, telling me it was the most professional cover she’d ever seen on one of the local author books they’d stocked and that it would likely sell very well as romcoms are very popular, especially one that’s set in a fictional version of Scarborough like mine is.  I would imagine that it will take a while before they go through their process and obtain the stock, but I’m so thrilled that they’re going to stock it.

Thank you so much to everyone who came along to my talk, to everyone who has downloaded Steven whilst on promotion, and to Waterstones for being so lovely today. And thank you to my lovely hubby for a couple more amazing promo photos 🙂

Have a great weekend everyone xxx

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NEWS FLASH! Raving About Rhys is FREE!!!

CoversSearching for Steven was launched on Wednesday this week (buy him here) and it’s been an amazing couple of days having my dream come true. I’m going to blog about that in the next few days, but I wanted to write a quick post today to promote my novella, Raving About Rhys.

11411854_873568086015826_6774707983694355485_oTo celebrate Steven‘s launch, we’re offering Raving About Rhys for Kindle download absolutely free. Yes, you read that right … FREE! Wow! That means you can buy two large bars of chocolate or a couple of huge bags of Maltesers to eat while you read it and still have change left over from a fiver! You can find him here.

My husband, bless him, has become very excited and perhaps a little obsessed with watching Rhys climb the charts on Amazon today. The peak so far has been to reach number 249 in the free Kindle chart and number 34 in the romantic comedy chart which is apparently a really tough chart to move up so I’m absolutely thrilled at that.

Rhys will only be on promotion for a short time so please bag a bargain (is it still called a bargain if it’s free?), enjoy a read that’s been gathering lots of amazing 5-star reviews, and please spread the word to anyone you know who has an eReader or a smart phone with a Kindle App! My mission is to get into the Top 100 overall chart and Top 10 romantic comedy before the promo ends. Can you help me do it?

Thank you to everyone who has downloaded Rhys, and  particularly thank you to friends, family and the lovely Write Romantics who’ve shared Facebook posts and Tweeted about it. I really appreciate the support 🙂 xx