The one where it’s audio publication day for Christmas Miracles at Hedgehog Hollow

It’s publication day! Yay! This time it’s still the hedgehogs returning for their sixth instalment but with the audio version.

There isn’t normally a delay between publication formats – releasing a book simultaneously globally in all formats is one of the many amazing things my publisher Boldwood Books do so well. However we needed to have a delay this time around. The fabulous voice actor Emma Swan who has narrated the part of Samantha throughout the series wasn’t available to record the audiobook in time for the 6th September release date due to other commitments. I was given a choice of using a different voice actor or delaying and it was a no-brainer for me. Emma is fantastic and it would be very wrong to change the voice of Samantha on the final book, disorientating listeners and likely getting negative feedback so I held off.

I’m not sure why Audible had a further two-day delay this week to bring out the audio version today instead of Tuesday as planned but the great news is it’s out there now and you can find it on Audible here. I’m delighted to see that it’s already in the Top 500 first thing this morning and should rise higher later today.

Thank you so much to everyone who has been patiently (or perhaps not so patiently!) waiting for the final instalment. I really hope you enjoy listening to Samantha’s final story alongside Fizz’s whose chapters are narrated by Lesley Harcourt.

The Audible Narration add-on for Kindle purchases is also available from today.

Christmas Miracles at Hedgehog Hollow

It’s the countdown to Christmas at Hedgehog Hollow Wildlife Rescue Centre, and everyone is gearing up for a festive season to remember…

It should be the most wonderful time of the year for Samantha and Josh as they prepare for the arrival of their first baby. But life at Hedgehog Hollow rarely goes to plan and the pair are faced with adversaries, old and new, and unexpected challenges to overcome.

Fizz’s job at the heart of the rescue centre is a dream come true but her personal life is more like a nightmare. With her love life a disaster and her past about to dramatically catch up with her, she needs the love and support of her Hedgehog Hollow family more than ever.

As the snow falls over Hedgehog Hollow, will Samantha and Fizz find the Christmas miracle they need to overcome their heartache and find happiness?

Top 10 bestseller Jessica Redland welcomes you back to Hedgehog Hollow this Christmas for the final time in this series for a heartfelt story of love, family, friendship—and hedgehogs of course!

Big hedge-hugs
Jessica xx

The one where it’s publication day for Christmas Miracles at Hedgehog Hollow

The hedgehogs are back for one final outing of the series. Christmas Miracles at Hedgehog Hollow is out today on paperback, hardback, large print and eBook formats. The audio will follow on 20th September.

Yesterday, I wrote a blog post about a publication day wobble I was having. I’d have had one anyway with it being the final book in a much beloved series which many readers don’t want to end, but a particularly cruel 1-star review on NetGalley (an early reviews site) floored me with its personal attack. I have been so overwhelmed with the outpouring of support I’ve received from readers and authors with comments on the blog itself, my Facebook page and direct messages. It has been humbling and uplifting reading all those messages and I’m so grateful.

I had a lovely message of support from Karen Louise Hollis, book reviewer and author, with a great analogy which she’s given me permission to share. A lot of this reviewer’s comments came from her joining a six-book series at book six. She complained about there being too many characters and too much tragedy happening to them. The thing is, the issues explored were across six main characters in six books and 600,000 words. They weren’t all in one book. Karen says, “Of course if someone comes in at the end, they won’t get the most out of it. It’s like turning up to a party late, finding out your mates have already gone home and you don’t know anyone. You can stay and try to make an effort, chat and get to know someone, or – like your reviewer – turn around, flounce off and moan it was the worst party ever…” Isn’t that just perfect? Thank you Karen. You can find the first book in Karen’s 1980s-based series, Welcome to Whitlock Close here.

Today is a new day and the hedgehogs and I are going to enjoy every minute of it despite the trolls.

A blog tour starts today, organised by the fabulous Rachel Gilbey of Rachel’s Random Resources who celebrated five years of her business this last week. Happy business birthday, Rachel.

Thank you to everyone who has signed up to participate in this tour. Really excited to read all your comments.

How am I spending today? I’ve just been working through all the wonderful messages from readers in response to my blog post yesterday and will be responding to the publication day messages now. I have an Instagram Live with Fiona Jenkins at 1pm over on her Instagram page. It will be between 30-60 mins of chat and we’d love to have questions from anyone who can join us. You can find Fiona’s page here.

Tonight I’m off out for a meal with the hubby and daughter to celebrate publication day. I often have a Facebook Live on the evening with Boldwood Books so don’t get a chance to do this but we’re doing a lunchtime live next week instead – 12noon on Friday 16th September – as we’d like to give readers a chance to read some (or all) of Christmas Miracles first. That will be over on the Book and Tonic Facebook page found here.

Thank you to everyone who has shown the hedgehog love. Much appreciated.

Big hedge-hugs
Jessica xx

The one where I have a massive wobble about tomorrow’s publication day

It’s publication day for Christmas Miracles at Hedgehog Hollow tomorrow. When asked how I feel about publication day, I often say I’m nervo-cited – a mixture of nerves and excitement – but this time I’m far more nervous than excited and kind of thinking I’d like to hibernate for the day.

This is my seventeenth book but, as nine of my titles are re-issues, it’s actually my twenty-sixth publication day so you’d think I’d be used to it by now and not be fazed at all. Not the case. If anything, I think it gets harder and this one is the ‘worst’ yet.

I always knew that publication of this particular book would be a toughie because it’s the last book in a six-book series and there are so many readers out there who absolutely don’t want the series to end. Seeing comments on social media about being sad that the series is ending and how reading the last book will be bittersweet is exceptionally flattering, but it brings with it guilt and pressure.

I feel guilty that I’ve ended the series. I stand by it being the right thing to do, but I feel like the mean adult who has taken the toys away from the lovely children!

And I feel the pressure of wrapping up a six-book series in a way that satisfies, thrills and delights. Having said that, I’ve felt that pressure all along with each new book declared by many as ‘better than the last’. Part of my reason for ending the series at six was to end on a high note and not stay too long at that party, but there’s always been the fear that the next book would be the one that stayed too long. Would readers think book six was that one?

Early copies of the book go onto a site called NetGalley which is meant to be for genuine book bloggers/ reviewers/ influencers with a big platform of followers who get a free copy of the book in return for an honest review which will hopefully entice their following to make a purchase. Unfortunately this system massively gets abused and there are readers on there who grab free books without a second thought as to whether the book/ author/ genre is actually right for them. But that’s a separate story.

When used properly, NetGalley reviews give the author and publisher a sense of how well the book is going to be received on actual publication day and it should also give them some great early reviews to use in promotion.

There are always negative reviews in there – we can’t all like the same thing – but I’ve had more negative reviews than usual for Christmas Miracles. It has been so frustrating as they’re nearly all from readers who claim not to have realised this was the last book in the series and this is the first one of the series (and often the first one of mine) they’ve read. Personally, I think the parts of the blurb I’ve popped in capitals here would be a bit of a clue that it’s the last in the series: Jessica Redland WELCOMES YOU BACK to Hedgehog Hollow this Christmas FOR THE FINAL TIME IN THIS SERIES for a heartfelt story of love, family, friendship… but that’s obviously not clue enough.

Several of these negative reviews comment on there being a lot of characters and how confusing it was to keep track of everyone and their back stories. Of course it is! You need to have read the whole series to gradually meet everyone and get to know their stories. This cast wasn’t there from the first chapter of book 1. They have steadily grown.

In the main, I’ve been able to ignore these reviews because this is not a standalone book and I certainly wouldn’t recommend anyone diving in at this point because it won’t make sense. It isn’t meant to. But over the weekend, I read a review (also from someone who hadn’t read any of the other books) that floored me…

It began with these words: “In the acknowledgements, the author says she is a “pantser” when it comes to writing, and girl…. I can tell.” Ouch! Clearly written by someone who has no idea what pantser means or an understanding that it’s not an inferior approach to writing. I got the full meaning of her comment here – that I’d just slapped down any old rubbish and had no idea what I was doing.

She writes, “I have never really understood when people write super mean book reviews but I honestly wish I hadn’t wasted my time on this book” and then guess what happens? She goes on to be that person who writes a “super mean book review” with a horrendous 1-star 550-word rant including one of the meanest comments ever: “Color me shocked when I realized this author has published 17 books and this is the 6th in this series… I am in complete shock that even one book like this got published, let alone 6.” This is really personal now. I get that she didn’t like the story and I completely understand why she’d be confused when she hadn’t read the others, but to suggest I can’t write and should never have had 17 books published! There’s no need for that.

Her closing words are: ““Miracles” is a bold word to use in your title when you made fictional characters just to give them horribly traumatic life experiences. I see no miracles in this fictional world, only pain, like the pain I feel when I realize I spent 5 hours of my life on this. Do not recommend.”

Wow! She certainly didn’t hold back on how much she hated the book. And me!

One of the key objections in the main body of the rant – which I haven’t shared because of spoilers – is the subject matter. I write about life and life can throw some tough blows. Across this series, there have been a number of difficult issues explored and they are alluded to in the final book along with the issues handled in that instalment, but this reader lists them all as though they all happened in one book. So I do know that part of the reason she hated it so much was that she hadn’t read the rest of the series and I keep telling myself that, but I just struggle to understand why someone can be so nasty … especially when they’ve declared that they can’t understand why people do this either!

Life’s too short to read a book that you’re not enjoying. You don’t need to invest ‘5 hours of my life’ on a book you hate, that you’re not following, whose subject matter you aren’t enjoying. Shut down the Kindle and accept it wasn’t for you. You haven’t paid for it. Nobody has forced you to read it. Walk away.

I know I should take that advice and walk away from this review and, in other circumstances, I’d probably lick my wounds and do that, but I’m struggling this time because I’m a bit stressed and rundown at the minute. I tend to get problems with my eyes when that happens and the worst-case scenario is that I get conjunctivitis which I have right now. It’s a virus and, although stress doesn’t cause a virus, the body is more likely to pick one up when a person’s rundown so this is my body telling me I need to take care of me a bit more – something I’m not very good at. In the great scheme of things, conjunctivitis is nothing compared to what many people are facing so I can’t really complain, but I think it has made me more sensitive to the Negative Normans and more worried about publication day tomorrow as a result.

I don’t shy away from tough storylines and, while there are loads of readers who love that about my books, there will always be something that somebody doesn’t like. Many of my regular advance readers have given superb reviews and commented that, although the storyline was tough, I’ve tackled it with my usual sensitivity. But a couple of my regular readers who have loved the series so far have said they haven’t liked this book as much as the others, with some even giving negative ratings because one of the topics I’ve covered is an uncomfortable one. Yes, it is, but it is not uncommon so I have included it. I also don’t give any specific detail. Having a couple of big fans of the series drop a couple of marks for that reason is adding to the nervousness around tomorrow.

As I can’t get away with hibernating – far too much work to do – I’ll smile and face tomorrow but my stomach will be churning all day, far more than usual.

A huge thank you to the wonderful Boldwood authors who have been so supportive and encouraging during my wobble. You are superstars.

To anyone who is going to be reading Christmas Miracles at Hedgehog Hollow this week (or listening to it from 20th September – slight delay on the audio version), I hope you love the story as much as I do. I’m very proud of this end to the series and, despite the negative comments from some, I wouldn’t change a word of it. It’s the story that Fizz and Samantha needed to tell and I’m honoured to be that conduit for telling it. I already know that a couple of readers have resonated with some of the subjects explored and have found it immensely cathartic.

Wish me luck for tomorrow! Brave face on!

Big hedge-hugs
Jessica xx

The one where it’s publication day for Chasing Dreams at Hedgehog Hollow

Almost exactly two years since the first book in the series was published (Finding Love at Hedgehog Hollow on 2nd July 2020), we return to the hedgehog rescue centre for the fifth instalment with Chasing Dreams at Hedgehog Hollow.

I am so touched by how much love there is for this series. The first four books combined have already sold more than 200,000 copies across all formats. Thank you so much to everyone who has made this possible.

Chasing Dreams at Hedgehog Hollow is out today in all formats. Publication days are exciting but also a little nerve-wracking, awaiting the verdict. The early reviews have been very encouraging so I hope it will continue that way.

Boldwood Books through Rachel’s Random Resources have organised a blog tour so thank you to the amazing bloggers/reviewers who are participating. The first two reviews in have been gorgeous 5-star ones which have helped allay some of the nerves.

My publication biscuits from Boldwood Books made by Enchanting Bakes have arrived and look delicious and my husband bought me the most gorgeous publication day plant. I love flowers and plants but I’m not very good with them. This one looks pretty hardy so fingers crossed it will last! My mum and dad also gave me the most adorable publication day card. It’s by a North Yorkshire-based artist called Bree Merryn who specialises in wildlife drawings. You can find her website here and she has some stunning hedgehog prints and cushions. Just search ‘hedgehog’ and you’ll feel very happy!

So how am I spending publication day? I’m in the Beverley chapter of the RNA (Romantic Novelists’ Association) and we meet on the last Tuesday evening of the month so it’s our meeting tonight. As Beverley is an hour away from me, I like to make the most of the trip out so meet my bestie Sharon Booth for lunch and we are always amazed how six-and-a-half hours can whizz by before we need to head to our meeting. I only saw Sharon yesterday when we met up with another amazing author, Eliza J Scott, but we’ll still have loads to talk about.

Thank you to everyone who has pre-ordered Chasing Dreams at Hedgehog Hollow on eBook, audio, paperback or has ordered a signed paperback from me. I’ll be anxiously checking my chart position across the day. I was very excited to see it at #7 in the overall AppleBooks chart first thing and #1 in the Fiction and Literature category.

It’s Top 250 (not that that’s a thing!) in the Audible chart already and just outside the Top 500 on Kindle but will hopefully make it into the Top 100 before the end of the day based on pre-orders and first day sales. Keep scampering, little hedgehogs!

Tomorrow, Fiona and Sue over on Heidi Swain & Friends – A Facebook Book Club are kindly hosting a publication day party for me. This is a lovely book group so if you’re a fan of Heidi Swain’s wonderful stories and books like those, do consider joining the group. They’re also hosting a Facebook Live with me on Monday 4th July at 7pm. You can join that event here although it’s possible you may need to be a member of the group first. Not 100% sure on that one.

I’m off to eat my publication day biscuits now. Nom nom nom.

Big hedge-hugs
Jessica xx

Samantha has a secret. Returning home from her dream honeymoon to the normality of running her beloved Hedgehog Hollow rescue centre, she’s ready for the next chapter of her life with Josh. Or is she? Samantha is hiding something which could forever change the dreams they shared and bring their happy ever after crashing to the ground.

Lauren has given up on love. Twenty-six years ago the love of her life, Shaun, left her a note and was never seen again. Two painful divorces later she still can’t face opening up to anyone. But little does Lauren know that the closure she’s dreamt of for all these years may be closer than she thinks, and perhaps the only way to let new love in is to forgive and forget.

Samantha and Lauren will need the love and support from the Hedgehog Hollow family more than ever. After all, some dreams are worth chasing…

Top 10 bestseller Jessica Redland welcomes you back to glorious Hedgehog Hollow where love, family and friendship conquer all.

The one where it’s publication day for Spring Tides at The Starfish Café

Happy publication day to me! Spring Tides at The Starfish Café – book 2 in the series – is out today. Yay!

A huge thank you to everyone who has pre-ordered it on eBook or audio formats, or has purchased it today. That’s so kind of you. Happy reading/listening!

I love this story and hope readers and listeners will too. Anyone who read the acknowledgements in the back of book 1 – Snowflakes Over The Starfish Café – will know that part of this story was originally in that book. I submitted it thinking something wasn’t quite right but couldn’t pinpoint what. Thankfully my amazing editor, Nia, could and it was that I had two stories in one book but didn’t have the word count to do justice to either of them. So Snowflakes focuses purely on Hollie and Jake meeting and their tragic backstories, and Spring Tides is about their developing relationship with the storyline removed from Snowflakes and a couple of new characters.

Spring Tides at The Starfish Café embarks on a 15-day / 45 stop blog tour from today. That’s epic! Thank you so much to the amazing bloggers/reviewers who’ve signed up and the amazing Rachel Gilbey of Rachel’s Random Resources for organising it. Thanks also to the reviewers who aren’t on the tour but have already or will share their reviews.

One of my Boldwood buddies, the lovely crime author Mary Grand, asked me this week whether I still get nervous about publication day now that I’ve written so many books. The answer is yes! This is my 15th release through Boldwood Books but it’s actually my 28th publication day, having had nine indie release days and four with my original publisher. I’m into more of a rhythm about what to expect but the nerves are always there, bubbling away beneath the surface, typically triggered by my pesky imposter syndrome: What if this is the book readers/listeners hate? What if this is the one where they realise I can’t write?

I’ve been working hard on my imposter syndrome and I don’t feel quite so worried with this release. It helps that there’ve been so many lovely reviews from ARCs (Advance Reader Copies). There have, of course, been some who haven’t enjoyed it – there always are – but it’s overwhelmingly been positively received.

Today I’ll be mostly sharing on social media and responding to the lovely comments that come through. The lovely Fiona Jenkins and Sue Baker are hosting a publication party over on Heidi Swain and Friends – A Facebook Book Club – which is very kind and generous of them. My friends over on The Friendly Book Community have a publication day interview with me and there’s lots more going on. Thank you to everyone who gets involved and makes this day so special.

On Thursday this week, I have a very exciting event planned. I’m going to be joined by members of the RNLI – specifically Scarborough Lifeboat Station – for a Facebook Live. It’s at 6pm on the Book and Tonic Facebook Page and will be available to watch afterwards if anyone can’t join us live. If you can join us live, though, there’ll be an opportunity to ask questions. The crew are so inspirational and I’m so looking forward to chatting with them.

In related news, I was so excited to see Snowflakes Over The Starfish Café reach a whopping review milestone yesterday of 4,000 reviews/ratings over on Amazon. This is my most-reviewed book now, despite it being one of the most recent releases. It hit 4k yesterday, just in time for publication day so what a lovely way to celebrate.

If you haven’t already read Snowflakes, you can grab it for free if you’re in Prime Reading or Kindle Unlimited globally, and it’s only 99p (or equivalent internationally) for the eBook so this is a great opportunity to discover Hollie and Jake’s origin stories before reading Spring Tides. You can read Spring Tides as a standalone book and I do inject some of the backstory so readers aren’t lost but you’ll get a much richer experience if you’ve read the full series.

And, finally, I’m delighted to announce that book 3 – Summer Nights at The Starfish Café – is now available for pre-order on Amazon. Please don’t get annoyed with me but there’s a year to wait for this one. It’s out on 3rd April 2023 and you can pre-order it for Kindle here. The reason for the year is I have the Hedgehog Hollow series to finish first (two books out in June and September) and there’s either going to be a Castle Street standalone book out in January or the start of a new series. Spring Tides doesn’t end on a cliffhanger, though, so hopefully readers/listeners will forgive me for the year and remember that many authors only write one book a year and some even write one every two years.

Big publication day hugs
Jessica xx

Celebrating my first foreign translation

I am thrilled that today is publication day for my very first foreign rights deal. Starry Skies Over The Chocolate Pot Café has been acquired by Italian publisher Newton Compton and is released today as an eBook and paperback under the title of Festa sotto la neve.   

Isn’t the cover gorgeous?

I don’t speak any Italian so I asked Google translate to help me out and came up with ‘Party in the snow’ which is a little different to the original. Spotting a couple of promotional posts and copying them into Google translate, I also had ‘Party on the snow’ and ‘Party under the snow’ coming up. Which was it? Probably none of them!

I contacted friend and author Isabella Tartaruga who is Italian and she kindly advised me that ‘festa’ does indeed mean party but it also translates as holiday as in festive season as in Christmas although Natale is the actual word for Christmas. Therefore, in this context, the title translates as ‘A holiday under the snow’ or ‘A snowy holiday’. Aw, isn’t that lovely?

The tagline of La magia del Natale, alla fine, conquista tutti… means ‘the magic of Christmas will eventually conquer all’.

Newton Compton describe it as Il libro perfetto per rifugiarsi sotto le coperte e aspettare Natale which translates as the perfect book to take refuge under the covers and wait for Christmas.

A huge thank you to Newton Compton for taking on this book. I’m keeping everything crossed that it will do well and that they might be inspired to take on some of my other titles. 

Although the title and cover is different, the story will be exactly the same – just translated into Italian. I’m really looking forward to getting my paperback version so I can see what The Chocolate Pot is in Italian. You can order direct from Newton Compton here or find the listing on Amazon here.

If you have friends/family living in Italy, please do pass this on. If anyone sees a paperback out in the wild, I would be so thrilled to see a shelfie.

Big Italian hugs

Jessica xx

An amazing holiday in the stunning Lake District

We’ve been back from our holiday for exactly a week now and it already seems like a distant memory. Although the suitcases on the landing waiting to go back into the attic and the pile of walking trousers/thick socks/breathable T-shirts I’d bought for the trip and don’t have a home for in my wardrobes do keep reminding me it wasn’t that long ago.

The Lake District is one of my favourite places in the UK. I remember family caravanning holidays as a child, paddling in the lakes in flip flops or wellies, and visiting the gorgeous towns and villages around the national park. As an adult, I’ve visited many times.

I often dreamed of living there and, in my late 20s, I actually had an interview to be a trainer at an outdoor activity centre on the shores of Lake Windermere. I was gutted when I didn’t get the job. I’m a firm believer in everything happening for a reason and there were other plans in place for me. If I’d got the job there, I’d probably never have become an author.

My husband and I have visited many times with our daughter and we also went on our own for a weekend to celebrate our 10th wedding anniversary in 2015 so we have many fond memories. Usually, we stick to the towns but this time we were determined to get walking. After 18 months of hibernating thanks to a certain pandemic, even the low fells were perhaps a bit ambitious but there was nothing to stop us walking round the lakes and what a treat that turned out to be.

Our holiday cottage was a gorgeous building in a small hamlet on the southern tip of Thirlmere which is a reservoir serving Manchester. We couldn’t see the water from the cottage because of the woods but it was very close by. The views out of the lounge window were stunning.

DAY 1 – GRASMERE & RYDAL WATER

The weather was stunning for our first full day so we had a wander round the pretty village of Grasmere then set off towards the lake. It’s quite a walk from the village to get to the edge of the lake but it’s absolutely worth it. At every turn, there was a new photo to take.

I’m proud to say that all of these are mine taken on my phone and the only one my talented photographer husband took is the bottom one in this batch.

We continued from the northern part of Grasmere towards Rydal Water where we’d heard there were some caves in hills which we’d never visited before. It was a bit people-y around the cave but I was keen to have a go crossing the stepping stones, praying I wouldn’t be the one person who went splat in the water. (Thanks to hubby for the batch of pics below):

It was worth making the crossing as the cave was fabulous although I was too embarrassed on my own to do what I normally would – a deep ‘mwah ha ha ha ha!’

Outside the view was gorgeous and there were loads of amazing stacks of stones. We were pretty hot at this point so didn’t stop to create our own.

We’d covered a lot of miles in the heat by this point and stupidly weren’t prepared as we hadn’t packed any lunch or brought enough water with us. Thankfully, the pathway at the northern tip of Rydal Water opened out onto the road immediately opposite The Badger Bar so that was us sorted for lunch and drinks. It didn’t take much (any) persuading to get the bus back to Grasmere instead of walking!

From there we drove onto Ambleside for something a little more leisurely – a game of crazy golf. Hubby sat on a bench with Ella (the dog) while the munchkin and I played a round. She would claim she won, but she cheats!!!

DAY 2 – FERRY TRIP TO BOWNESS-ON-WINDERMERE

We decided to take a catch the big steam ferry from Ambleside to Windermere on the Sunday which, with hindsight, was a bit of a mistake because Bowness on a bank holiday weekend was crazy busy. I’ve seen it busy many times but this was something else. It was so calm before we boarded the ferry, and the boat itself was fairly empty but we disembarked in Bowness and there was a sea of people everywhere and a wall of noise. Eek!

It was a grey day but still really warm (although a bit chilly on the ferry itself). We had lunch followed by a wander round a lovely market and the town, but we were keen to get back on the ferry and return to some peace and quiet (and an ice cream) in Ambleside.

DAY 3 – BUTTERMERE

Bank Holiday Monday was another grey day but there was no rain forecast so we decided to drive up to Buttermere. We’d heard it was a lovely walk around it. At 4.5 miles, that seemed do-able. And we were prepared with a packed lunch this time!

The sat nav directed us on the terrifying route via Honister Pass or, as the munchkin kept calling it, Hoisin Pass. OMG! If you’ve not done it, it takes you high – very high – past a slate mine with sheer drops and extremely narrow roads. My knuckles were white as I clung onto the door handle! (I will point out that hubby was driving!)

The photo opportunities were very different from our previous lake walk and I even turned on the black and white filter (get me using the tech!) to catch some moody shots!

The walk was lovely and I certainly brightened up a dull day in my red fleece!

We had a lovely treat on the route back up the other side with a few cows lying down by the side of the footpath, taking it all in. Aren’t they gorgeous? And there was an amazing waterfall too which hubby scrambled up to it while the munchkin and I had a little rest. The single cow and waterfall pic are courtesy of hubby.


DAY 4 – LAKESIDE, HAWKSHEAD & BROCKHOLE

It was publication day for me for Snowflakes Over The Starfish Café but we had no WiFi at the cottage so I drove out to a lay-by near Grasmere first thing to pick up 4G and do some sharing of social media posts! After that, we all headed down to Lakeside at the southern tip of Lake Windermere and hubby and munchkin took Ella for a walk while I met my fellow Write Romantic and fabulously talented crime writer Helen Phifer. Helen lives in Cumbria so it was such a great opportunity to catch up with her. We were so busy chatting, we completely forgot to take a photo. Oops!

The family and I then headed up to Hawkshead which is one of my favourite villages and had a wander round and a delicious publication day lunch outside a pub called The King’s Arms.

Although we’ve visited HillTop before, I thought it would be fitting to visit Beatrix Potter’s former home on the day one of my books was released but they were taking bookings only which had never even crossed our mind so that was a no-go.

We caught the car ferry from Hawkshead and headed to Brockhole on the shores of Windermere instead. The munchkin had a freezing cold paddle with Ella (as you might be able to tell from her facial expression on the first pic) and a go-cart ride so she was a happy bunny.

DAY 5 – THIRLMERE

Our plans to do the walk around Derwentwater were a bit scuppered today when munchkin woke up complaining of stomach ache and feeling sick. We stayed at the cottage for the morning hoping it might wear off but she was sick and definitely couldn’t go out and about.

I read and hubby went off for a walk with the dog but I was going a bit stir crazy after lunch so, with munchkin being at an age she can be left alone, we left her sleeping and walked to Thirlmere.

The reservoir was very low after a lengthy dry season and we came close to a stuck-in-the-mud disaster, fooled by the crusty surface! (Top 3 pics are hubby’s).


DAY 6 – KESWICK & DERWENTWATER

It had obviously just been a 24-hour bug as the munchkin woke up feeling much better and, although we decided it would be pushing it to walk the full perimeter of Derwentwater as planned, we reckoned she could manage partway.

We’ve always loved the walk past the theatre and down to the lake shore but have never done the walk round the lake and we can’t believe what we’ve been missing out on because it is stunning. It helped that we had the same gorgeous weather from the start of the week. Just like our walk round Grasmere, there was a photo opportunity with every few paces.

We were so sad to have to say goodbye to our cottage and head back home. We all agreed that, even with the munchkin being ill one day, it was the best UK holiday we’d ever had. I think that was for a combination of reasons – the gorgeous weather, the stunning scenery, properly switching off from work (no WiFi certainly helped) and a break for the first time in nearly two years. Perfect.

I can’t wait to start writing my new series set in the Lake District which does, of course, mean lots more trips there are needed. No hardship whatsoever!

I hope you’ve enjoyed looking at the pictures. I’d love to hear from you if you’ve been to any of these places or you have recommendations for others. Our holiday cottage was gorgeous but it had a few shall we say ‘interesting’ decorative touches. I leave you with the fish vase, the squirrel bin (which weighed a ton), the frankly terrifying ‘Catbells’ artwork (Catbells being a famous fell overlooking Derwentwater which features in the top photos on the above section), the scary rabbit dish thing and the disproportionate squirrel acorn situation.

Big hugs
Jessica xx

Publication Day for Snowflakes Over The Starfish Café and belated Happy Birthday to The Secret to Happiness

Ooh, I’m so late with these! I’ve returned from a wonderful week in the Lake District (post and pics to follow soon) and I meant to write and schedule three posts before I went away – one to celebrate publication day, one to reflect on August, and one to celebrate a book birthday – but time escaped me and none of them got written.

With no WiFi at our holiday cottage, I had to leave it so I’ve combined two of them and decided not to do the reflections posts anymore. Instead, I’ll post more regularly but shorter posts. Me? Short posts? Well, I’ll try!

Firstly, publication day. My 13th novel, Snowflakes Over The Starfish Café, came out on Tuesday 31st August and gathered a category bestseller flag on day one which was lovely. Less than a week after release, it has 69 reviews (at the time of writing this), 85% of which are 5-star which is amazing.

It’s on a super-lengthy amazing blog tour and the feedback so far has been so touching with a mix of regular reviewers and newbies reading my work for the first time. Thank you to everyone taking part.

I may have caused a tissue shortage in the country (and possibly other countries – Belgium has been cited!) as this book is a weepie. It is NOT a light Christmassy rom-com and it doesn’t claim anywhere to be one as you’ll be able to tell from reading the blurb (see below).

I never intentionally set out to write a story that will make readers cry but this was the story that these characters needed to tell and, while there will always be a few critics who call it ‘depressing’, I am blessed with so many amazing readers who completely get the story, who love the light that appears among the tragedy, and who feel the hopeful and uplifting message.

“With courage, nothing is impossible” (Sir William Hillary, RNLI Founder) is a theme throughout. Hollie and Jake have had tragic pasts, but the beauty of this story is how they find their way forward … with the help of the most gorgeous dog who readers have fallen in love with.

Hot on the heels of publication day, I’m celebrating a book birthday.

Friday 3rd September was TWO YEARS since The Secret to Happiness was published by Boldwood Books. And what an amazing two years that has been! (Blurb below too)

This was a book I submitted when I knew I was failing to make an impact as an indie author. I did have some regular readers but I only sold a handful of eBooks a week and there was no way I’d was ever even going to come close to being able to write full-time; my absolute dream.

A few rejections of the manuscript floored me and I had to as myself some tough questions about whether I really was good enough to make it as an author. I could have easily given up at that point but writing is part of who I am and I couldn’t let go.

Around that time, I saw an advert for a newly-formed company called Boldwood Books and thought, “maybe one last try”. Thankfully they loved it and took me on. Boldwood found me my readers and my readers have loved Whitsborough Bay and Hedgehog Hollow and have made my dreams come true. I’m so incredibly grateful to you all.

It’s particularly appropriate that I’ve ended up posting about these two events together because, almost exactly a year from publication of my first Boldwood release, Snowflakes Over The Starfish Café is not only my 13th release but also the start of a brand new 12-book publishing deal with Boldwood Books.

The books in my first contract were a mix of new books (The Secret to Happiness and the three books so far in Hedgehog Hollow series) and re-edited versions of my backlist. Starting with Snowflakes Over The Starfish Café, everything I release from now on will be brand new, never been released before, which is really exciting for me and my readers.

Thank you to everyone who has bought/downloaded/borrowed either of these stories – and any of my others – and shared lovely feedback about them. I cannot thank Boldwood Books enough for taking me on and my amazing editor Nia Beynon for her continued enthusiasm, belief and expertise which help shape each of these stories into the final versions the readers/listeners fall in love with.

Wishing you an amazing start to September.

Big hugs
Jessica xx

Snowflakes Over The Starfish Café is available as an eBook on all platforms, a paperback, a large print, a hardback, as a physical audio, for audio download and audio streaming. Please contact me if you’d like a signed copy of the paperback.

Here’s the blurb:

Welcome to The Starfish Café – where you will find stunning views, delicious food and lifelong friendships.

Two broken hearts.

Since she inherited The Starfish Café, Hollie has poured her heart into the business, striving to keep her mother’s traditions and warm-hearted spirit alive. But behind closed doors Hollie is searching for true happiness as she grieves the tragic loss of her family who were once the beating heart of the café…

An unexpected meeting.

Jake lives by two rules: don’t let anyone get close and don’t talk about what happened. Little does he know that a chance meeting at The Starfish Café, facilitated by a fluffy lost dog, is about to turn his world upside down…

The chance to love again.

Can Hollie and Jake break down the barriers that have been holding them back from finding love and happiness, before Christmas comes around? After all, with courage, nothing is impossible…

The Secret to Happiness is available as an eBook on all platforms, a paperback, a large print, as a physical audio, for audio download and audio streaming. Please contact me if you’d like a signed copy of the paperback.

Here’s the blurb:

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…

Publication day for Christmas Wishes at the Chocolate Shop

It’s publication day today for Christmas Wishes at the Chocolate Shop, the final book in my backlist to be freshly edited and re-released through Boldwood Books (previously available as Charlee and the Chocolate Shop). If you’ve read the original version and are curious about what’s changed, here’s a blog post I wrote about it.

Publication day is always really exciting. This is my 12th book out today but I’ve had way more publication days than that with being published by a different company, then going indie, then getting my Boldwood deal and re-publishing my edited backlist. And, despite 24 publication days, it doesn’t get any less exciting. I know of authors who are 30/50/100 books down the line and say it still doesn’t wear off which is great to hear.

For my very first couple of books, I waited up until midnight to watch the eBook ‘magically’ appear on my Kindle. That was really thrilling! I don’t do that now but I do often struggle to sleep as I keep thinking about it! It’s like the excitement of waiting for Christmas Day to dawn!

When I was first published and when I was an indie author, my books didn’t sell very well so, although I’d keep my eye on the Amazon chart (Amazon being the only place they were available back then), I didn’t expect high positions … and didn’t get them! Reviews would be slow to come in and I wouldn’t get many of them either. And I was working in a demanding day job so I just needed to work as normal and not really think about publication.

Since last year when my writing took off (thanks to the amazing Boldwood Books) and I was able to resign and write full time, publication days have been very different. Initially I’d write but now I find they’re so busy that I never plan to write as I would probably wouldn’t get much done.

Why are they busy? There are publication posts to share on social media, a blog to write and so many gorgeous congratulations messages coming in to respond to. There’s usually a blog tour starting although we’re not having the one for Christmas Wishes… until October to generate a buzz for the book closer to Christmas. There are early reviews to read and I do regularly check chart positions hoping, just hoping, the book might edge close to the Top 100. I’m pretty certain Christmas Wishes… won’t come close, though, as it’s the final backlist book to come out and there are many readers who read it as Charlee and the Chocolate Shop. Pre-orders have been low (probably for that reason and because some readers don’t buy Christmas books out of season) which was expected so they won’t boost it massively up the charts today.

But alongside the publication day excitement there’s nervousness as various questions race through my mind:

  • Will readers love/hate/feel indifferent towards this book?
  • Will it climb the charts or bomb?
  • If it’s the start of a new series, will they engage with that series or not?
  • If it’s a sequel, will they think the previous book(s) was/were better and perhaps even tell me I should never have written this one?

It makes for a rollercoaster day/week/month while the verdict is coming in!

For this particular book, I don’t have those same nerves I might usually have. It had already gathered nearly 450 reviews on previous release and 83% of those are 5-star and 13% 4-star so I already know readers love this story. It has also had 85 ARC reviews (advanced reader copies) on NetGalley from reviewers/bloggers and they are overwhelmingly positive. Phew!

But I do have a little apprehension about chart position as I said. I’m not expecting it to do brilliantly… but there’s always that little sliver of hope!

Overall, any publication day is an amazing day, even with those nerves/worries. It never ceases to amaze me how many gorgeous messages and congratulatory posts come in from readers and authors and I am so very grateful for every one of them.

Today, I was at the hairdresser’s first thing and was scrolling through my Twitter feed while my colour was developing and, since returning home, I haven’t been off social media.

I’m so grateful to everyone who has sent me lovely messages today, shared any promotional posts, has pre-ordered, bought or borrowed Christmas Wishes at the Chocolate Shop.

For those who are coming to Charlee’s story for the first time, I hope you love it and aren’t craving chocolate too much! For those who’ve already read it but loved it so much that you wanted to come back for the new version, you’re absolute stars and I can’t thank you enough.

And, as always, THANK YOU to my amazing publisher, Boldwood Books and my super talented awesome editor Nia for all her brilliant advice. Ooh, and this amazing box of Krispy Kreme doughnuts (pics below the blurb). Yum yum!

Big chocolatey hugs
Jessica xx

Sometimes you just need a little Christmas magic to make your wishes come true…

When master chocolatier, Charlee, takes the leap to move to the picturesque seaside town of Whitsborough Bay, she is determined to follow in her grandfather’s footsteps and set up a chocolate shop.

Luckily, she finds the perfect location for Charlee’s Chocolates on beautiful Castle Street… Now she just has to refurbish it in time for Christmas!

With a useless boyfriend and countless DIY disasters, Charlee doesn’t know if she’ll make it in time. With no ‘traditional’ family to support her, she feels lost in her new surroundings and the secrets of the past are weighing her down.

But the warmth and festive spirit of the Whitsborough Bay community will surprise her, and when plumber, Matt, comes to the rescue, it might be that all of Charlee’s dreams could come true this Christmas, and she could learn what family really means…

I’m in conversation with Jo Bartlett tonight

Today is the publication day for the second book in the fabulous Cornish Midwives series by Jo Bartlett: A Summer Wedding for the Cornish Midwife. Huge congratulations, Jo.

The first book in the series – The Cornish Midwife – is Jo’s first release with Boldwood Books and is performing exceptionally well, still sitting high in the Kindle Top 100 two and a half months on from release, having racked up a Top 10 position. So exciting!

Book 2 looks set to follow. At the time of writing, it’s already #8 in the Apple UK Romance category chart and just outside the Top 300 overall Kindle chart but will rise as the day goes on as it’s usually later in the day when a book gets its highest publication day position on Kindle.

The series – which is planned at seven books – tells the story of the midwives based at the community midwifery unit in the fictional Cornish village of Port Agnes and the books are lovely, warm stories about love, friendship, family and community in a stunning setting. I’ve put blurbs and links below my signature.

I’ve read both and absolutely loved them. This is a quote from me about the first:

‘I love second chance stories. I love returning home stories. So a book combining both is an absolute winner for me. The Cornish Midwife is simply gorgeous. Stunning setting, wonderful characters, and oozing with warmth. A triumph from Jo Bartlett and a cracking start to what promises to be a fabulous series’

I don’t normally celebrate publication days of other authors on my blog (as I’d never get any writing done if I did!) but there’s a special reason for this one. It’s because Jo and I have a joint event planned today…

I’m very excited to be ‘in conversation’ with Jo tonight on a Facebook Live. The session will be hosted on Book and Tonic’s Facebook page which you can find here and will start at 6pm GMT this evening (Thursday 1st July) and last up to an hour.

I’ll be asking Jo questions about her writing journey and the series itself but it will be more of a conversation than an interview so I’ll be sharing some snippets too.

I’m really looking forward to this as, not only are Jo and I publishing buddies, we’re friends in real life. As to how we know each other, all will be revealed during our conversation so I hope you can join us.

We’ll be inviting questions from the ‘audience’ during the Facebook Live and anyone who asks a question then will be put into a draw to win a copy of the paperback of A Summer Wedding for the Cornish Midwife.

If you can’t attend live, then you will be able to catch up on the recording on Book and Tonic’s Facebook page, although wouldn’t be able to ask questions/go into the draw.

We’ll be reuniting on Monday 6th September where the roles will be reversed and Jo will be question-master, helping me celebrate the publication of Snowflakes Over The Starfish Café. The book itself is out on 31st August but we’re waiting until after the distraction of the school holidays to host the Live.

Really hope you can join us tonight. Happy publication day to Jo!

Big hugs
Jessica xx

THE CORNISH MIDWIFE

A fresh start…

Midwife Ella Mehenick left the small Cornish town of Port Agnes for London and never looked back. But when her seemingly perfect life crashes down around her, there’s only one place she can heal her battered heart – the place she once called home.  

A new arrival…

Ella is quickly welcomed into the small community midwife team and loves her new job caring for mums and their precious babies – it’s what she does best! But being back also means facing ex-flame Dan Ferguson…the first man to break her heart. 

A second chance at love?

Dan is still as gorgeous as ever, but he’s never forgiven Ella for leaving. And now she’s back it’s clear that there is unfinished business between them. As Ella settles into her new/old life, she can’t stop the memories of how she once loved Dan so completely – and maybe never stopped.

Maybe coming home to Cornwall is Ella’s chance to love again…

Meet The Cornish Midwives of Port Agnes- where community, friendship and love are always delivered.

An uplifting and escapist read, perfect for fans of Christie Barlow, Jessica Redland and Holly Martin!

This book was previously published as Return to Port Agnes.

You can buy it here on Kindle UK but it’s also available as an eBook for Apple and Kobo, as a physical audio, for download, to stream on Spotify and as paperback, hardback and large print formats. It’s also available for free to Kindle Unlimited subscribers.

A SUMMER WEDDING FOR THE CORNISH MIDWIFE

It’s wedding day in Port Agnes!

The venue is booked, the dress is picked, and Senior Midwife Anna Jones only has to say ‘I Do!’ to the man she loves! Theirs might have been a whirlwind romance, but Brae Penrose is everything Anna dreamed her husband would be and she can’t wait to start a new life with him…and if they are lucky, maybe even a family of their own. 

But as the big day approaches disaster strikes, and their perfect day looks destined not to happen at all. Anna’s certain it’s a sign to slow things down.

The other midwives won’t hear of Anna and Brae postponing their big day, but can they and the community of Port Agnes pull together to make sure the Penrose summer wedding goes off without a hitch?

Meet The Cornish Midwives of Port Agnes- where community, friendship and love are always delivered.

An uplifting and escapist read, perfect for fans of Christie Barlow, Jessica Redland and Holly Martin!

This book was previously published as Christmas with the Cornish Midwives.

You can buy it here on Kindle UK but it’s also available as an eBook for Apple and Kobo, as a physical audio, for download, to stream on Spotify and as paperback, hardback and large print formats. It’s also available for free to Kindle Unlimited subscribers.