Celebrating a very special book birthday

It’s a busy end to the week as I was celebrating the publication day for All You Need Is Love yesterday and, today, I’m celebrating a special book birthday.

Today is one year since the final part of the ‘Welcome to Whitsborough Bay’ series was released through Boldwood Books. Woo hoo! Happy book birthday to the series!

The four-book series had previously been published under different titles and the rights were acquired by Boldwood as part of my original publishing deal. They all had a fresh edit and were updated for a quick-succession re-release between January and March 2020. My writing was largely undiscovered before joining Boldwood and the idea of four novels being released so close together was to build my name and create an appetite for the next part in the series.

This plan absolutely worked and I still can’t quite believe how well my debut series (which is also available as a boxset with additional exclusive content) has done during this year after five years of struggling to get noticed:

  • More than 130k copies of the books combined (across all formats) since being re-released by Boldwood
  • Nearly 3000 reviews/ratings on Amazon, 93% of which are 4 or 5-star
  • Making Wishes at Bay View (book 1) going into The Works
  • Making Wishes at Bay View being free book of the week on Apple UK and USA and reaching #1 on the free UK chart/#16 in the USA
  • Making Wishes at Bay View breaking the Top 100 in Australia and Canada
  • New Beginnings at Seaside Blooms (book 2) going into Prime Reading and reaching #14 in the overall UK Kindle chart
  • All the books making it into the UK Kindle Top 200 and staying there for the whole of the summer
  • Books 2-4 making it into the Apple Romance Chart Top 5 at the same time and the overall Top 25
  • Best seller tags for all books at the same time

I often get asked which of these books is my favourite and I love them all for a different reason:

  • Making Wishes at Bay View (book 1) was such a fun story to write and Ruby is one of my favourite characters. She was fascinating to create and I love the banter she has with Iris
  • New Beginnings at Seaside Blooms (book 2) was the first book I ever wrote. The main character, Sarah, is predominantly based on me and the premise of the story is a true-life event. As this was where it all started, this book will always have a special place in my heart
  • Finding Hope at Lighthouse Cove (book 3) is a lovely story of how to pick yourself up after everything in your life falls apart. I love Elise’s journey and I also love the way the friendship dynamics between the main characters in this series begin to shift. The relationships with friends and family are a very important aspect of my stories and often take centre-stage over the romance
  • Coming Home to Seashell Cottage (book 4) is Clare’s story and I have to confess it is my favourite as I love the plot. Clare arrived in book 2 as a spiky character with a mysterious past and here we discover why she’s the way she is. It’s a story full of twists and turns and I’m so proud of this book

I have amazing reviews for all the stories which makes me so very happy but New Beginnings at Seaside Blooms does have a few more negative reviews than the others. In some quite angry ranty 1 and 2-star reviews, Sarah is accused of being silly and her actions childish or selfish. While I completely accept that everyone likes different things and not everyone is going to love my work, I do feel sad that those readers have missed the point of a character arc. Sarah does make some some questionable decisions early on but her journey is one of learning from those and she experiences major character development over the course of the book.

At the start of the book, Sarah has stayed in a relationship for a year too long (not an abusive relationship; just one that isn’t right) and there are also reviews commenting on how ridiculous that is and that she should have just left him/nobody stays in a rubbish relationship for that long. Who are these people as I’d like to congratulate them? I am in huge admiration of anyone who can be in a long-term relationship and walk away just like that but I would suggest that the reality of most relationships is that walking away is not that easy. The person may be very aware that the relationship is not right for them but there can be a million reasons why they don’t walk away including fear of being alone, financial challenges, where to live, children, self-esteem, mental health and so on. Sometimes what lies on the other side doesn’t seem more appealing than what they already have. I know this because I was in a relationship like that. I knew it was wrong all along but I wasn’t in a place where I could deal with walking away. I know so many men and women who would admit to the same. Thankfully hundreds of readers do relate to Sarah, find her scenario very realistic, and are rooting for her all the way.

One of my aims for 2021 was not to be hurt by negative reviews and to remain focused on the positive ones and I’ve made great progress with this but I have to admit that I was a bit (a lot) wounded by a particular scathing 2-star review I spotted on Audible for New Beginnings at Seaside Blooms a couple of days ago. I’ve pasted it below as it’s quite a long review:

Ouch! There are so many interesting things about this review. Firstly, book 1 of the series is not the chocolate pot cafe (Starry Skies Over The Chocolate Pot Café). That particular story is set in Whitsborough Bay but is not part of the ‘Welcome to Whitsborough Bay’ series. It was written several years later. Therefore the last paragraph all about the links is inaccurate because there aren’t meant to be links. The Chocolate Pot is mentioned a couple of times in New Beginnings at Seaside Blooms because it’s on the same street as Seaside Blooms but, at the time the book was written, Tara and her story from Starry Skies… did not exist.

So if we remove the comments about the two books not following on from each other, we have that the story was ‘flat’ and ‘like the writer had a multi book deal and had to bang out something else.’ Wow! That’s a bit harsh! Every author starts somewhere and, although New Beginnings at Seaside Blooms is book 2 in the series, it is the first book I wrote as book 1 was written afterwards as a prequel/introduction to the world of Whitsborough Bay. Seaside Blooms is my debut – my first book baby delivered into the world and I am immensely proud of it. It does have twists and turns in it. They may not have the same shock/surprise as a couple of the revelations in Starry Skies… but they’re still there. When I started out writing, I intended to write romantic comedies but my ideas developed and my writing style developed and I now write contemporary women’s fiction. My later books are more emotional than my early ones and some of the plots are more intricate. It’s common and natural for a writer to adjust their style the more books they write. Their voice will develop and their confidence will grow and they may well experiment with style and genre. That’s not to say romcoms don’t have complex plots – they absolutely do – but my natural style moved away from the comedy and more into the angst although all my books are warm and uplifting and do still contain humour which balances the more emotional moments.

The real shame about this is that I have lost a reader/listener who clearly has some gripes about the story but, given a significant focus of the review is the lack of link to a story it’s not meant to be linked to, I can’t help feeling that this misunderstanding on the reader’s part has heavily influenced their contempt for this story. I’m trying to put myself in their shoes and, if I wrongly believed this was a follow-on from Starry Skies… I’d be confused too. The thing is, Audible clearly does show which books are in the series (see below), as do Kindle, Apple, Kobo, Fantastic Fiction…

Stung by this review – and thinking of the small number of negative ones for New Beginnings at Seaside Blooms – I decided to conduct a poll in my Facebook readers’ group asking members who’d read the full series to let me know which was their favourite. We’re talking a small sample here but the results were interesting:

  • New Beginnings at Seaside Blooms – 53%
  • Coming Home to Seashell Cottage – 32%
  • Making Wishes at Bay View and Finding Hope at Lighthouse Cove tied – 7%

Many of those who voted did add a comment that they absolutely loved all of them but I had pushed them to pick one as I was curious as to the results and it was both surprising and reassuring that more than half the vote went to the book that has generated the most negative comments. I’m going to focus on the hundreds who love it and thank them so much for sharing that love.

So happy birthday to the Welcome to Whitsborough Bay series and thank you to everyone who has bought/ borrowed/ downloaded any of the stories, loved them, and reviewed/ rated/ recommended them. You are absolute superstars. Callie, Sarah, Elise, Clare and the rest of the cast of characters in Whitsborough Bay send you hugs of appreciation.

And thank you to Boldwood Books and my amazing editor Nia for breathing fresh life into these stories and taking them to such a wide readership. I’m forever grateful.

Big hugs
Jessica xx

All I felt was love…

Yesterday was the publication day for All You Need Is Love and, I have to say, all I felt was love all day. How amazing are the reading and writing community?

It was my busiest publication day yet with so many lovely comments on social media to read and respond to and lots of activities going on so Ive just got a quick round up, a few links and some photos…

There were biscuits…

My fabulous publisher, Boldwood Books, always send a wonderful publication day gift and this time it was biscuits with book covers and congratulations messages on them. They didn’t last long! I was under strict instructions from my daughter to save her one of the book cover ones and I had a text from her on the bus to school this morning saying she’d been in such a rush, she forgot to pick it up to take it to school. She has been warned I might have the munchies later!

There was cake…

It was hubby’s birthday yesterday so we had birthday cake too. Mmmm. I completely forgot to take a photo of that, though.

There were books…

My paperbacks arrived. I always look forward to the books coming as it’s such an amazing moment to see them, stroke them and, yes, sniff them. But I’d particularly been excited about the arrival of All You Needs Is Love because of those gorgeous sunset colours and it didn’t disappoint at all. So vibrant! My daughter has announced it’s her favourite cover and it might just be mine too as those colours are simply stunning.

The gorgeous wooden campervan (Thor the campervan in the story) has been well admired. I bought him from my favourite shop in Scarborough: White Beach Designs. The lovely owner, Andie, has a Facebook page if anyone is interested in one (they come in different colours). I do highly recommend the shop for gorgeous handmade jewellery, wooden gifts, pebble art and so much more. You can find the Facebook page here.

There was a party…

Last month I was invited to join a lovely Facebook group called ‘Heidi Swain and Friends’ which is run by Sue and Fiona as a readers’ group/book club for fans of Heidi Swain’s gorgeous books and authors who may also appeal to Heidi’s readers. Heidi very kindly supported Sue and Fiona’s suggestion to host a publication day party for me and they ran a day full of fun questions and quizzes relating to All You Need Is Love. It was fabulous seeing all the interaction from readers and joining in myself. A huge thank you to Heidi, Sue and Fiona. If you’d like to join the group, you can do so here.

I also have a readers’ group of my own on Facebook for discussion about anything related to my books and settings. Thank you to everyone who was so supportive on there and for all the kind messages coming through from those who have already read this book or plan to. If you haven’t already joined Redland’s Readers, you can do so here.

There was a blog tour

My blog tour kicked off yesterday with three lovely reviews. There’ll be 36 stops over 12 days and, as usual, I’ll share a round-up at the end. An enormous thank you to all those who have signed up and those who share their posts. It makes such a difference to get these early reviews and spread the word. Thank you also to those who have read this book under its previous incarnation as Bear With Me for sharing the love for this story.

The All You Need Is Love Blog Tour

There were blog posts

I guested on the Boldwood Books blog talking about my own teddy bear shop which inspired part of the story. You can find that post here.

I also guested on the RNA’s blog (Romantic Novelists’ Association) talking about my inspiration for the story and a bit more about my writing. Thank you to Catherine Lawless and the RNA for hosting me. You can find that post here.

There was music

I pulled together a Spotify playlist of songs which link to/inspire All You Need Is Love. You can find that here. They’re roughly presented in the order of relevance to the story so, if you’ve read the book, you can probably guess which part they may relate to. As you’d expect, not all the lyrics are a perfect match but the general vibe is there. Thank you to my editor, Nia, for pulling this together for me. I hope you enjoy listening to it.

There was a video

I created a publication day video about what to expect and explained the difference between plush bears, collectible bears and artist bears (with gorgeous bears to help me) which you can find here.

And the day finished with a Facebook Live

My amazing editor Nia Beynon hosted an ‘in conversation’ on Facebook for an hour and we had some fabulous questions. I also did a reading from All You Need Is Love. Thank you to everyone who joined us live or who has listened to it since. You can catch up with the video here.

Facebook Live Advert – the competition only ran on the evening but you can still watch the video on catch-up

So, as you can see, an extremely busy but lovely day. Thank you to everyone who made it so special and particularly my amazing husband and daughter, Mark and Ashleigh, without whose support I wouldn’t be doing what I do today.

If you’re interested in reading to All You Need Is Love, it’s available as an eBook for Apple, Kindle and Kobo, and in print format as a paperback, hardback and large print. For those who like to listen, it’s available as an audio download or physical copy and will appear on streaming services soon.

Big hugs
Jessica xx

All You Need Is Love

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

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

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

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

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

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

This book was previously published as Bear With Me.

Would you like to join my Redland’s Readers Facebook group?

I’ve done it. After chatting to my good friend and fellow-author, Sharon Booth, about setting up a reader’s group for the past 18 months (maybe even 2 years), I’ve finally bitten the bullet and done it.

Sharon got her act together way before me and runs a gorgeous, cosy group called Love, Laughter, & Happy Ever After so, if you’re a fan of Sharon’s writing (or even if you’re not), you might want to check out her group. It’s lovely.

I love a bit of alliteration so I’ve called my group:

Why does Redland’s Readers exist? The ‘about’ section sums it up so I thought I’d paste that here:

The purpose of this group is to explore together the world of Whitsborough Bay and Hedgehog Hollow (without any spoilers) where I set my stories. 

WHAT WILL I SHARE WITH YOU? 
I’ll reveal some details before they’re generally available such as titles, release dates and book covers. I’ll talk about the project(s) I’m currently working on and may even ask you for inspiration around names of characters, streets, jobs etc. when my creative well runs dry. I may occasionally talk about books I’ve read, music I love and favourite films and I’d love you to join in those conversations.


WHAT WOULD I LIKE YOU TO SHARE? 
I’d love to hear your feedback on my stories (spoiler-free please) and see pictures/hear about connections with Yorkshire. For example:
Do you live here?
Have you visited the area / would you like to?
Do my settings remind you of other places?
Do any of my characters remind you of yourself or someone you know?
Do you know someone with the same name as one of my characters?


Feel free to ask me questions. If anyone follows me on social media or on my blog, you’ll know I’m always honest. I absolutely love what I do and am so very lucky to be able to do this full-time now but that doesn’t mean it’s all shiny so I’ll hopefully give you some insight into what goes on behind the scenes to get a book/ebook/audio to you.

And I’m sure it will evolve as we go… xx

And that last sentence is key. This will definitely evolve depending on the members and what they want from the group/how they’d like to interact.

I went live late yesterday afternoon and am amazed to have 89 members already. I’m having a few problems setting up notifications for myself so have to keep scrolling through as I’d hate to miss anything.

If this sounds like a group you’d like to join, please do ask on Facebook here. There are a couple of simple entry questions and you’ll be asked to accept the ‘rules’ (straightforward things like no spamming, being kind, no spoilers etc.) and then you’ll be welcomed into the fold with a warm virtual hug.

Thank you to everyone who has written a review, emailed me, messaged me, contacted me on any form of social media across the past year to say how much you’ve loved my books. It’s quite overwhelming (in a nice way). Without your kindness, I’d never have set up a group like this and I’m looking forward to getting to know you all a bit better.

If you don’t fancy joining the group but you would like to follow my author page on Facebook, you can find it here.

Big hugs
Jessica xx