The one where I signed New Arrivals at Hedgehog Hollow in The Works

I posted over the weekend to say that New Arrivals at Hedgehog Hollow – the second book in the Hedgehog Hollow series – had appeared online at The Works and also in stores but I hadn’t seen copies in my local branch.

The munchkin stays for drama club after school on a Monday so I need to pick her up and it’s on the other side of town. I arrived early today but she’d got out early which gave us just enough time to nip into town on the way home and scoot to The Works to see if my book was in. And it was!

The lovely manager Jamie was there and she’d been hoping I’d appear. The books were placed on the shelves on Saturday and half of them have already sold which was exciting so I only had a pile of five to sign but I’ve now done that.

Please excuse the state of me in these photos! This was an impromptu visit prompted by the munchkin being early so I have no make-up on, haven’t run a brush through my hair, and have my super-casual jogging pants on. But that didn’t detract from the excitement of signing copies of my paperbacks in a real shop. This is the fifth book of mine in there and the fourth time I’ve signed copies (never entered my head to ask the first time) and I don’t think it will ever get boring!

It was lovely to hear Jamie telling me that Starry Skies Over The Chocolate Pot had sold out really quickly and that they’ve had customers in really excited to get their hands on New Arrivals, hence half of them selling already. I also massively appreciate that they always place my books in the eye line buy line position in the middle of the shelves.

Thank you to Jamie and all the staff in The Works Scarborough who are always so welcoming and friendly.

Big hugs
Jessica xx

The hedgehogs are back in The Works

I was delighted to get the news a couple of months ago that a fourth title of mine – Starry Skies Over the Chocolate Pot Café – was going into The Works so I absolutely wasn’t expecting to have another title in there but I have exciting news…

I have another book available on The Works right now – New Arrivals at Hedgehog Hollow.

I was planning to share this news as soon as the book appeared online but it hasn’t appeared on the website yet. However, my great friend and fellow author Jo Bartlett, spotted a copy in her local branch of The Works today in Broadstairs, Kent so it’s out there in some stores and will hopefully appear online really soon.

A Jessica sandwich of book my books with fellow Boldwood authors Lisa Hobman and Rosie Clarke in Broadstairs, Kent

New Arrivals at Hedgehog Hollow is the second book in the Hedgehog Hollow series. The first book – Finding Love at Hedgehog Hollow – went in during the summer so it’s fabulous having book two following its lead.

New Arrivals at Hedgehog Hollow can be read as a standalone book and I know plenty of readers who’ve loved it and followed the story well without reading the first book, especially as I provide a handy ‘story so far’ at the beginning. But I personally think that readers will enjoy a much richer reading experience and get to know the characters so much better by starting with Finding Love at Hedgehog Hollow and reading the series in order.

As I’m with a small (but rapidly growing) independent publisher, you won’t find my books in supermarkets or book shops so it’s a real thrill to see them on the shelves of The Works. I nipped into Scarborough’s branch on Thursday and the hedgehogs weren’t there and I was in the Beverley branch today and they weren’t there either so I’ll try Scarborough again next week and hopefully be able sign copies again.

If you spot either book in your local branch, please do share a photo with me on Facebook or Twitter. I love seeing them in the wild (no pun intended for the hedgehogs!)

Starry Skies Over the Chocolate Pot Café appears to have completely sold out online but there should still be copies in store. I think they’re also selling through quickly in store. There are none left in the Scarborough branch, there was one left in Beverley today and any other selfies I’ve seen only seem to have 1 or 2 copies on the photo which is exciting (I put the one copy below in front of someone else’s books for the photo opp!)

Go hedgehogs go!

Big hugs
Jessica xx

One copy of Starry Skies left in Beverley The Works (East Yorkshire)

An amazing visit to Scarborough Lifeboat Station

Anyone who has read my latest release, Snowflakes Over The Starfish Café, will be aware that there is a very strong connection to the RNLI (Royal National Lifeboat Institution) in the story. It isn’t mentioned in the blurb because it’s all part of how the story unfolds and explaining the connection would give spoilers.

I’ve mentioned in previous posts that I originally had the idea for this book back in 2017 and had planned to release it as a Christmas novella that year. I visited Scarborough’s lifeboat station over the summer to undertake some vital research but, when I started writing the story, it soon became apparent it was much bigger than a novella so I parked it and returned to it this year.

A photo opportunity with some of the crew before they changed for launch

I am in awe of the amazing work that all the staff and volunteers at the RNLI undertake. Living on the coast, I am very much aware of the danger of the sea and how quickly things can change. The town has been affected by many tragedies over the years, some of which have inspired aspects of this book.

Last week, I was fortunate enough to be invited to Scarborough Lifeboat Station as a special guest. Covid-based restrictions are gradually easing but the stations aren’t yet open again to the public, so I was very honoured to have a special invite and the chance to meet some crew, bombard the Lifeboat Chairman – a lovely man called Colin – with a million questions, and watch a launch.

Me with the ILB. Check out my starfish-themed Popsy dress to match my book!

Actually, I got to watch three launches. It was their training evening and the ALB – the Shannon-class All Weather lifeboat (the big one) was going out to see to practice anchoring. The ILB – the D-class inshore lifeboat (the little one) was out for practicing capsizing and righting the craft. Scarborough’s ILB is brand new so they also had its predecessor in the water and it was that boat they were capsizing, not wanting to risk damaging the brand new one.

It started raining shortly after I arrived and it was absolutely bucketing it down by the time the ALB and ILB were launched so I watched from inside, hence some blurry pics a bit later as I took them through a rain-battered window! The fabulous side-on ones are from my husband who was waiting for me on the pier.

The Shannon-class ALB being pushed by the tractor ready for launch
The shore crew are there to ensure a safe launch and to keep the public back – although that wasn’t so much of an issue in the torrential rain!
The kit room before the crew arrived

The boats and equipment they have are seriously impressive. There’s a large tractor (right below) and trailer for the ALB and a smaller version for the ILB (left below) and there are crew whose specific role it is to drive the tractors.

The ALB pre-launch beside the old ILB
All 3 boats and the door open to the ramp
The ramp. At high tide, this will be partially under water
The tractor returning to the beach after launching the ALB
The ILB being taken down the ramp with the ALB in the background
Both ILBs in the water ready for the capsizing practice

I’ve selected Scarborough Lifeboat Station as my charity for this year and will be making a donation in the New Year to thank the crew for their help and support and the amazing work they do to save lives at sea.

Hope you’ve enjoyed the photos. Apologies for the grey grainy ones but I firmly blame the weather for those! A huge thank you to all the crew at Scarborough Lifeboat Station for this amazing opportunity which has given me loads of inspiration for the second book in the series, Summer Nights at The Starfish Café, out on 5th April 2022 and available for pre-order now.

I’ve delayed posting this as I was hoping that our local paper would be running an article but there’ve been two editions since my visit and nothing has appeared so far. Hopefully it will still be covered at a later date but I didn’t want to not share the photos in case it doesn’t, especially when I was granted special permission to visit the lifeboat station for this photo opportunity.

For more information about the RNLI, please click here.

Big hugs
Jessica xx

Signing Starry Skies in The Works

On Tuesday this week, I posted the exciting news that Starry Skies Over The Chocolate Pot Café – my Boldwood Christmas release from last year – had gone online at The Works.

I was in town for an eye test on Wednesday and it hadn’t gone onto the shelves of my local store but I needed to go into town again today to help hubby pick some frames for his new glasses and was excited to pop into the Scarborough branch to find that the festive books had arrived.

The staff in there are lovely and immediately moved the copies to ‘eye level – buy level’ (not at my request, I hasten to add) and cleared some space for me to sign the copies. I have no idea why I still had my sunglasses on in the above pic or my bag on my shoulder. Too excited!

And, yes, that is a hedgehog dress! It’s a Popsy and, since I discovered Popsy Clothing last year, I’ve been hoping they’d introduce a hedgehog print design and was thrilled when it came into stock last week. You can find this particular design here. I love it. It has a blouson style top which I’d worried might be tight on me but thankfully isn’t, and pockets. Gotta love a dress with pockets!

I can’t imagine I’ll ever tire of seeing my books in a shop and being able to sign them. Thank you so much to the lovely team for letting me do that.

If you do spot one in your local store, I’d love you to take a shelfie and tag me into it on social media.

Big hugs
Jessica xx

Reflections on July

I should really have posted this yesterday but I’d hit my fill of storage on WordPress and couldn’t add any more images. I didn’t have the brain power to tackle that yesterday so, this morning, I’ve upgraded and can post my look back although I apologise as this means three posts in one day as there has been so much happening today with Boldwood’s 2nd birthday to celebrate and Yorkshire Day too!

I have no idea where July has gone. Do I say that about every month? It really has zoomed by so here’s what’s been happening:

Another slow month of reading for me – not because the books I’ve chosen are slow but because I’m a slow reader and still struggling for time.

The only book I’ve read in full is Life’s What You Make It by Sian O’Gorman who’s a fellow Boldwood author. It’s set in a small coastal village near Dublin and is a lovely story of starting over and finding home. I very much recommend it.

The munchkin and I continued with our viewing of Castle and are now halfway through season five. We don’t fit in many episodes at a time but we’re still loving it, and hubby and I watch The Rookie each week, also starring Nathan Fillion (star of Castle). Season three has just finished and ended on a cracking cliffhanger.

I forgot to mention in my June review that I had watched Virgin River as I’d heard so many good things about it and decided to give it a try. I’d therefore not long finished it before season three appeared. I didn’t enjoy it quite as much as the previous two seasons. What I’d enjoyed previously was that there was a balance of laughter and tears but this season seemed to be more about the tears. Don’t get me wrong, I like a good cry, but the balance didn’t seem to be there and there seemed to be lots of rushed decisions the characters made with massive consequences. I assume there’s a season 4 as it ended on a cliffhanger but I can’t decide whether I’m going to tune in or not. Jury’s still out on that one.

We’ve continued our eduction of the munchkin in films we’ve loved in the past and, after watching Armageddon last month, we decided to keep the disaster movie theme going and planned to watch The Day After Tomorrow. Unfortunately, we had a huge DVD clear-out last year and gave hundreds of them to charity as we didn’t have the space, and we think The Day After Tomorrow must have been one of them. It wasn’t on streaming and we weren’t going to pay to rent something we’d previously owned so we went for the dramatic but not quite as good 2012 instead. I remember watching that at the time and thinking 2012 seemed so far away! The munchkin loved it.

Hubby and I watched a film he’d seen a couple of times before and thought I’d love, partly because it’s really good and partly because Chris Hemsworth is in it! It’s called Heart of the Sea and is about the story that inspired Herman Melville to write Moby Dick. He was right. It was really good. Do watch it if you have a chance.

Finally, we’ve just started watching A Discovery of Witches. We’re three episodes in and enjoying it so far. I have a feeling I heard someone say it’s slowish to start but really takes off from about episode 4.

I’ve been busy working on A Wedding at Hedgehog Hollow, the fourth book in the Hedgehog Hollow series. I started the month having got to roughy the 50k words point and have finished the month at just shy of 93k words so I’m very close to the end. It will probably be about 110k words and then I’ll remove a few thousand in the editing process. I can’t wait to get to the end and start editing. It’s very lumpy at the moment but I’m confident I can smooth it out and then my editor will work her magic and suggest even more brilliant changes.

I celebrated one year of Hedgehog Hollow at the start of the month, 2nd July 2020 being the day the first book in the series – Finding Love at Hedgehog Hollow – was published.

All You Need is Love went into Prime Reading. I thought this was just in the UK but it’s globally so do look for it if you’re in Prime overseas. It also went into a one-week sale on Audible and entered the Top 100 which is the first time any of my audiobooks have done that so that was a lovely moment.

We did the cover reveal for Snowflakes Over The Starfish Café and it’s always so lovely getting such positive responses to how pretty a cover is. It’s now available on NetGalley for bloggers/reviewers and I’ve had 100% 5-star feedback in so far. That’s only nine reviews but it’s still 100%. I know the bubble will burst at some point but I’ll enjoy it for now!

Christmas Wishes at the Chocolate Shop has also been doing exceptionally well on NetGalley. With 80 reviews so far, there weren’t any 1 or 2 stars and only 1 x 3-star, with by far the most being 5-star reviews. Yay! Then yesterday a 2.5 star and another 3 star came in. Boo! Oh well, you can’t please all of the people all of the time and I’m delighted to have pleased a very large number!

I took part in a ‘Northern Lasses’ Book & Tonic Banter Facebook Live which was great fun. My fellow-panelists were Jane Lovering and Sheila Riley. You can catch up on that here. I also interviewed Jo Bartlett and chatted about how we met and our books on an ‘in conversation’ here.

I was thinking I’d barely left the house in July but a flick through my diary tells me I’m a big fat liar! The month started with a trip to Leeds to see Six The Musical, and a whole weekend away with the munchkin. I loved the show but didn’t particularly enjoy the weekend away although it was nice to spend some time with my daughter, of course.

I met my bestie and fellow author Sharon Booth in Beverley (East Yorkshire) for lunch and an afternoon of chat about all things writing. The hours go by in the click of a finger.

I attended the RNA’s conference, albeit virtually. There were some really great talks, all of which I took something from which is great.

The munchkin made her promise at Rangers down on Scarborough seafront and, while she was doing that, hubby and I grabbed some chips and took the dog for a walk. It was the midst of the heatwave but pleasantly cool on the evening by the coast.

August is shaping up to be a busy month with two publication days, a month of birthday celebrations for Boldwood and a couple of other exciting developments. Watch this space! Wishing you a fabulous August.

Big hugs
Jessica xx

Happy Yorkshire Day 2021

It’s 1st August which means it’s Yorkshire Day. Happy Yorkshire Day 2021 to everyone who who was born in Yorkshire, lives here now or has ever lived here, to all those who’ve visited this beautiful part of the country or would love to do so, to those who write about it/read about it/watch it on TV, those who drink Yorkshire Tea and anyone who has any connection to or fondness for Yorkshire.

I love Yorkshire. I was actually born in Teesside but was raised in a market town called Guisborough which borders the North Yorkshire Moors so I very much think of myself as a Yorkshire lass. And I’ve lived in North Yorkshire since 2003 and Scarborough since 2004; the longest time I’ve lived anywhere.

All my books (so far) are set in Yorkshire. North Yorkshire alone is the largest county in England. Add in East, West and South Yorkshire and we’re massive. So it’s no surprise that an area this size has so many inspiring settings from coast to country to city.

I’m delighted to present some of our local scenery and the books that are inspired by it…

The ‘Welcome to Whitsborough Bay’ series, a location inspired by Scarborough, Whitby and Robin Hood’s Bay
The Hedgehog Hollow series (so far) set in the stunning Yorkshire Wolds
Take a trip to Castle Street, inspired by Scarborough’s Bar Street and the cobbled streets of Whitby and Robin Hood’s Bay, full of independent shops and cafes
Whitsborough Bay’s North Bay (heavily inspired by Scarborough’s North Bay) features in many of my books but especially All You Need is Love and The Secret to Happiness
Scarborough Spa at the far end of South Bay is the inspiration behind The Bay Pavilion which features in Starry Skies Over The Chocolate Pot Café
The views over Scarborough’s South Bay are stunning. This is one of the first views Tara sees when she moves to Whitsborough Bay in Starry Skies and, in new release Snowflakes Over The Starfish Café, it’s an area called Sea Cliff where heroine Hollie lives
The Starfish Café is the setting for a new series. The location is completely fictional but the beach below – Starfish Point – is a colony to 200 grey and common seals, inspired by the beach at Ravenscar
Scarborough’s harbour aka Whitsborough Bay harbour is mentioned in several books and there’s a key scene set there in Christmas at Carly’s Cupakes

I hope you’ve enjoyed a little glimpse into the real Yorkshire inspiration behind Whitsborough Bay and Hedgehog Hollow.

Do you love Yorkshire? Do you live here/have connections here/have fond memories of holidays here? I’d love to hear from you in the comments if you do.

Big Yorkshire hugs
Jessica xx

Reflections on June

It’s the final day of June so time to look back over the past month under my usual headings…

I started the month reading an ARC (advanced reader copy) of Escape to Honeysuckle Hall by Rebecca Raisin which I’d been asked by her publisher if I’d like to read. Many years ago, I read several of Rebecca’s books while on holiday and had really enjoyed them but then I got out of the habit of reading and didn’t read any more (not that that stopped me adding a few to my Kindle!) I do enjoy a new beginnings story and this is one of those with a beautiful setting and some interesting characters. You can find the blurb and pre-order the book here.

I then moved to Cornwall (not physically!) to catch up with the Cornish Midwife series penned by my good friend, Jo Bartlett, who is now also with the same publisher as me: Boldwood Books. I had already read the first book in the series The Cornish Midwife before Jo joined Boldwood but, like my backlist, it had some edits before being released as a Boldwood publication. I could see from the blurb that a particular plot point had changed so I did a speedy read through it to immerse myself back into the story and see the changes before moving on to book 2.

A Summer Wedding for the Cornish Midwife is out tomorrow and I should finish reading it tonight. Both books are fabulous – full of warmth, a gorgeous setting and fabulous characters. You can find them on Jo’s author page on Amazon here although they’re also available in a stack of other formats/from other retailers.

If anyone has read any of Jo’s books or is interested in finding out more, I’m in conversation with Jo on the Book and Tonic Facebook page tomorrow night (1st July) at 6pm GMT celebrating publication day and talking all things writing so hope you can join us.

You can find the Book and Tonic Facebook page here and, if you can’t join in on the day, you will be able to catch up from that page afterwards.

Another month with very little viewing. The munchkin and I are still working through Castle and we’re now up to season 5. Still loving it.

Last weekend we had a family film night and watched Armageddon. It’s the first time the munchkin (age 14) has seen it and she loved it, although it made her cry. I remember seeing it at the cinema. Such a good film. I’m thinking we maybe need to introduce her to some other disaster movies like 2012 and The Day After Tomorrow.

I’ve been very busy with writing in June. Right at the start of the month, I returned my second round of edits on my next brand new book, Snowflakes Over The Starfish Café. My editor loved the changes and it has since been through the copy edits and proofreading stage. I’ve done the final read-through so that book is now parked from my end and I’ll look forward to an official cover reveal next month.

Around those editing stages, I’ve been working on the fourth book in the Hedgehog Hollow book: A Wedding at Hedgehog Hollow. I had a bit of a slow start with it because I was struggling to get some answers for some of my research and I had a bit of a panic because the third book, Family Secrets at Hedgehog Hollow, has had such phenomenal feedback and I was feeling the pressure of the bar being set very high. I wrote a blog post about it here.

I found I was procrastinating loads – something I’ve been aware of for the past year since becoming a full-time author – so I decided I would try to break the bad habits I’d fallen into and see if I could blitz a book in a fortnight. I wrote a blog post about it here initially wondering if it was possible to write a book in a week if everything else was ignored. I didn’t think it would be feasible to do that but figured it would be good to even manage to write half a book in a week and maybe get to the end within a fortnight. As for whether I’ve managed that, I’ll let you know next week when the fortnight is up so watch this space!

My big celebration this month was reaching one year as a full-time author on 8th June. Earning enough money from writing to be able to leave the day job was always my goal so it’s been wonderful being able to live the dream for a year. My heartfelt thanks to all the amazing readers who have made that happen.

We had a cover reveal for my final backlist book – Christmas Wishes at the Chocolate Shop – and I had lots of positive comments about the gorgeous cover. It’s out on 3rd August and you can pre-order it here. It should be £1.99 but it’s only £1.59 on Amazon just now so, if you haven’t read the original version (Charlee and the Chocolate Shop), you might want to grab a bargain now.

I’m not a fan of clothes shopping, not helped by being overweight and there being very few shops where I can find clothes. However, every so often, I have to submit to letting the munchkin drag me round Primark. In the half-term holiday at the start of this month, we had a day out to Monks Cross which is a small retail park (with a Primark) just outside York, an hour’s drive from us. We made a day of it and grabbed some lunch while we were there. While I can’t say I loved the shopping, it felt like a small step towards some sort of normality.

The next day, we went over to my parents’ house for a BBQ with my family. I have two brothers who are both married with two girls each and we hadn’t seen any of them since Christmas 2019 so it was lovely to see everyone again and a relief that the weather was good so we could get together outside.

The munchkin started going to Rangers last month (for Guides once they’ve turned 14) and decided she wanted to do her Young Leader’s qualification. She’s also started her Duke of Edinburgh through school and needs to do a volunteering unit as part of that. She figured she could combine the two and arranged to help out at a Rainbow unit (age 5-6) in a village on the other side of Scarborough to us called Scalby. As it’s a bit of a drive across town and Rainbows is only on for an hour, hubby and I decided we might as well drop her off and go for a wander with the dog. I’d never really explored this village before and it was lovely to look around, fantasising about being able to afford a property there (no chance!)

After her second session, we pushed the boat out and went for a meal afterwards, although it was a bit nippy in the beer garden for my liking. The joys of outdoor eating in the UK!

The jaunts didn’t end there. I attended a talk as part of the Books by the Beach Festival in Scarborough. It was Rowan Coleman talking about her writing of The Brontë Mysteries as Bella Ellis after which I took the munchkin down to South Bay for an ice cream although it was heaving down there (bit too scary for me). I went on a retreat run by Rowan a few weeks ago and we arranged to meet up on the evening for a meal.

I went to Beverley and spent an afternoon with my bestie and fellow-author Sharon Booth. Four and a half hours whizzed by over food and chat and it was time to go home all too soon. Sharon and I used to meet up roughly fortnightly and we managed to squeeze in a September get-together between lockdowns but it was so good to see her again face to face. If you haven’t checked out Sharon’s amazing books, you can find them here.

I also had a hair cut and colour this month. I had decided to go grey and had my hair lightened last time to make it less obvious, leaving the roots grey, but I decided I didn’t like it and wasn’t ready, so I’m back to fully coloured and feel so much better for it!

I had a meal out with my mother in law and one of Mark’s sisters and that was the end of my planned outings. Then we had an unplanned and not so pleasant one. The munchkin texted last week to say she was being sent home to self-isolate and could we collect her. Students in her year had been sent home in groups over the previous few days due to a high number of Covid cases and she was in the third batch. Then the whole year was sent home. Then the whole school closed! As she was in one of the groups specifically asked to isolate, we were instructed that we all had to have PCR tests. Thankfully we all tested negative. Hubby and I are double-jabbed so we hoped we would be, but it was a relief that the munchkin hadn’t picked anything up. She does lateral flow tests every couple of days too.

So, other than the last unexpected trip out, it has been a busy month and it has been so lovely to be able to talk about going out after months of having very little to write in this section. I do feel a little on edge when in crowds but I’m more worried about the munchkin than I am about me now. She says they’re going to get vaccinated at school in September but I’d love it if it could roll forwards. The new variants that keep appearing are a concern.

Hope you had a great June and wishing you a fabulous July.

Big hugs
Jessica xx

Brontës, Bella, books, and a busy beach

Strictly-speaking, it’s still spring but I can’t bring myself to put ‘out and about – spring’ as the header after the gorgeous weather we’ve had this weekend, so I’ve declared summer!

I went out this weekend. Proper out. Among people! Eek!

It was Scarborough’s Books by the Beach Festival this weekend – a slightly shorter (and later in the year) event than usual. When the line-up was announced, I was excited to see that Rowan Coleman would be speaking. What made Rowan’s presence extra special is that many of the events this year were in a change of venue: St Mary’s Church in Scarborough’s old town near the castle. Anne Brontë died in Scarborough and is buried in the churchyard there and Rowan is both passionate and extremely knowledgeable about the Brontë family. She is two books into a series called The Brontë mysteries under the pen name Bella Ellis imagining that, before the sisters became authors, they were sleuths. Isn’t that a delightful idea? So where better for Rowan to speak about this series than in the resting place of one of the sisters?

I took my fourteen-year-old along for company (with the bribe of an ice cream afterwards). She doesn’t know anything about the Brontës but she enjoyed hearing about the mysteries and, after reading the blurb on the back of the couple of books I bought and had signed, she declared she may well snaffle them for a read. The hour-long talk and Q&A session was really interesting and Rowan was, as always, exceptionally engaging.

It was lovely to spot another writing friend outside, albeit briefly, before going in and it was lovely to be out, even if being at an event meant wearing masks and being socially distanced in the church. I couldn’t take any photos during it as we were struggling to find somewhere to sit that wouldn’t be too close to anyone and ended up off to a side with a column partly blocking our view. We could still hear perfectly, though.

Congratulations to the team at the Books by the Beach Festival for organising a safe, enjoyable event. I’d imagine that there’s a lot of work goes into organising an event like this anyway but even more so when trying to make it Covid-safe.

The munchkin and I went for our ice cream afterwards. Scarborough’s South Bay was absolutely heaving. Wandering along the seafront, it would be so easy to believe that life is back to normal with no masks in sight and very little social distancing. I thought I’d feel a bit more anxious than I did. I think being double-jabbed probably helped with that.

We had an ice cream and leaned on the railings above the heaving beach, took a walk along the pier, past the harbour, then walked back up to town. It was great to be out in that sunshine but I was relieved to be away from the crowds. That wasn’t just pandemic-related. I’m okay with crowds but I don’t enjoy being in places that are heaving. I much prefer peace and quiet.

On the way back up to town, we had a chance to pay a visit to my favourite shop – White Beach Designs – and maybe make a couple of purchases.

I went out again on the evening. I know! Get me! I know Rowan, having attended a writing retreat she ran in West Yorkshire a little over three years ago. She gave me some really helpful advice about my writing career for which I’m very grateful. As she was staying over in Scarborough, she’d asked if I fancied meeting up outside of her talk so we’d booked to go for dinner. I really enjoyed the chance to have a catch-up. It is so long since I’ve spoken face to face to someone who isn’t family and it was great to feel some sort of normality. Thank you so much, Rowan, for the wonderful company xxx

As we walked to the restaurant, Rowan asked how come I hadn’t been speaking at the festival. It would be an absolute dream come true – Scarborough author who writes about Scarborough on the bill of a Scarborough-based festival – and I did put my name forward. Maybe one day.

Hope you enjoy the pics of Scarborough aka Whitsborough Bay looking resplendent in the sunshine. Ooh, and I’m going out again tomorrow! There’s no stopping me. I’m off to Beverley to meet my bestie and fellow author Sharon Booth. We used to meet up a couple of times a month but obviously haven’t been able to for a long time and video chat isn’t the same. Really looking forward to seeing her face to face again.

If you’re venturing out and about again, hope it’s going well for you. It certainly helps that the nice weather means we can be outside seeing the people we love.

Big hugs
Jessica xx

Reflections on May

We’ve reached the end of the month. Where did May go? So here’s my monthly round-up…

With so much time in my editing cave, May has been another month where I’ve read very little I’m afraid. I finished reading the final book in Sharon Booth’s fabulous Kearton Bay series, The Whole of the Moon, and loved it. The book was released on Friday and you can get it here although I’d encourage you to start at the beginning and enjoy the whole series. Sharon writes gorgeous stories of love, friendship, family and community with lots of warmth and humour.

I’m reading a book called Escape to Honeysuckle Hall by Rebecca Raisin at the moment which I was send in advance for a quote. I’m nearly a third of the way through and really enjoying it so far. I read several of Rebecca’s books quite a few years ago while on holiday and thoroughly enjoyed them so it’s lovely to be back reading one of hers.

Line of Duty finished. Let’s not talk about that underwhelming ending eh? And I Can See Your Voice also finished and I really hope it returns for a second season.

I watched the Friends Reunion which I loved. It was funny and emotional and I wish it had been longer as I could happily have watched several hours of it. Friends remains one of my all-time favourite programmes and I loved seeing the genuine friendship and affection the six main cast members had for each other.

I’ve started watching Virgin River on Netflix. I’m only three episodes in but it’s nice gentle viewing so all good so far.

We’ve only managed to squeeze in one film this month: Tenet. Lots of action, lots of explosions, visually impressive… and I have no idea what it was all about. Far too clever for me I’m afraid. The general consensus is you need to watch it a twice and things start to make sense but, with a running time of two and a half hours, I think I’ll pass on that.

I completed my final proofread on the edited version of Charlee and the Chocolate Shop which will be out on 3rd August as Christmas Wishes at the Chocolate Shop. That’s now with production and you can pre-order it here.

I’ve also finished the second round of edits on book 13 – Snowflakes Over The Starfish Café – which is out on 31st August and can be pre-ordered here. It was the toughest of edits but I’m really happy with the way it has turned out and hope readers love it too.

Today, I dived back into the world of Hedgehog Hollow and started on the fourth book in the series – A Wedding at Hedgehog Hollow – which is out on 6th January and can be pre-ordered here. I haven’t written many words yet as I needed to do some preparation around the backstory for one of the main characters, but I will hopefully get about halfway through by the end of June. I wrote the first three Hedgehog Hollow books back to back so, after working on two Whitsborough Bay ones since, I need to reset my head away from the coast and into the countryside!

I started off the month with my birthday and, on 4th May, celebrated the release of Family Secrets at Hedgehog Hollow. I was a little nervous about it as I’d had a few negative comments on NetGalley but it seems to have gone down a storm with bloggers and readers. I shared my fears on a blog post here.

With a high Kindle chart position of #38 at the time of release thanks to a phenomenal number of pre-orders, it made the Bookstat eBook Top 10 in The Bookseller for sales that week (see blog post here). Four weeks on, it’s still in the Top 200.

The rate at which reviews have been coming in has astonished me. After a fortnight, I was thrilled by 300. By two weeks, there were over 800. After three weeks it had passed 1,000 and a day ahead of the four-week anniversary, there are nearly 1300 reviews/ratings on Amazon, 83% of which are 5-star. Wow! I still can’t quite believe that quantity or quality. Thank you so much everyone who has left a review or rating on whatever platform.

Book 2 – New Arrivals at Hedgehog Hollow ­– celebrated passing 2,000 reviews/ratings on Amazon and Starry Skies Over the Chocolate Pot Café passed the 1,500 milestone.

Finding Love at Hedgehog Hollow has been on an amazing promotion over on Apple. In the UK and Ireland, it has been the free book of the week and it was selected as the (free) Romance of the week in Australia, Canada, New Zealand and the USA. This has had some amazing results for this book, the other two in the series, and also The Secret to Happiness. I’ll write a separate post about this in the next few days.

I celebrated six years as a published author. I’m certainly in a very different place now to how I was back then. You can read all about it here.

As it was my birthday at the start of the month, we went out for a walk along Scarborough’s South Cliff. It might not sound the most exciting when we live in Scarborough but it’s beautiful and, on a bank holiday weekend, the roads get so snarled up around here, we never venture far from home.

I had my hair cut for the first time in nearly 18 months and had a quick whizz around town afterwards, and I also had my second covid jab. These events should not really feature as the most exciting things I’ve done this month but I think it speaks volumes for the world in which we live in that they do just now.

Other than that, I really haven’t been anywhere. That’s partly to do with being heads down for deadlines but also a bit of nervousness about being out and about again. Or is it nerves? I don’t know. I don’t feel anxious when I’m out so perhaps it’s more about routine. I’m so used to not being out and about that home feels more comfortable. And safer. And less peopley. Really must try to leave the house more than three or four times in June!

Hope your May was kind to you. Welcome June…

Big hugs
Jessica xx

A lovely May Day birthday

I cancelled my birthday last year. We were only a few weeks into lockdown when I was asked the ‘what would you like for your birthday?’ question and I had a mini-meltdown. Even though I’ve never really made a huge thing out of my birthday in previous years, I didn’t like the idea that I couldn’t even if I wanted to so I told hubby and the munchkin not to bother with gifts and we’d do a birthday later in the year. Then I found a couple of Lucy Pittaway prints which I ordered for the office so I did get a gift after all even if there was no celebration 😉

This year, we’re not in lockdown but restrictions are only just easing so it we still couldn’t plan much. I did, however, lift the ‘no presents’ thing and was spoilt with some lovely gifts.

There was a bit of a hedgehog theme with the most adorable plush Steiff hedgehog from the hubby, a sewing project for a hedgehog and hoglet and a cute pen holder with a hedgehog reading a book in it.

Loving my new lighthouse and looking forward to featuring it on some photos with my books soon.

A huge thank you to my amazing friend Sharon for the gorgeous flowers, candle, bear and chocolates and to my lovely friend Jo for the hedgehog and bear scarves.

Sharon also sent me the most amazing card. It’s a card containing cake. I never knew such a thing existed and, being the huge fan of cake that I am, it made me very happy. I can’t wait to dive in and would have had a piece today but my in-laws dropped round surprise afternoon tea so we ditched our plans for a takeaway and had that instead and I am now full of cake. It was sooooo yummy. But there’s always tomorrow. Nom nom. And I have a birthday cake too!

Thank you to everyone who has sent me lovely messages on social media. Very much appreciated.

Back to editing tomorrow but it’s been nice to have a rare day off today.

Big hugs
Jessica xx