I hope you’ve had a lovely day so far. Mine has been a very ordinary Saturday – doing a stack of washing, the dog has been for a groom, and I’m doing some prep work for something I’m involved in online throughout January. But, actually, I like that it’s been back to normality. I really struggle with the feeling after Christmas Day that I’m on holiday but not actually away on holiday.
Writing-wise, two of my books have hit amazing reviews milestones today.
Reviews for Snowflakes Over The Starfish Café came in slowly and steadily at first which we expected as it was released in late August and we knew a lot of readers would save it until they picked up their wintery/Christmas reads.
I noticed reviews coming in much quicker during December with 1,500 reached mid-month. With that sort of momentum, I hoped that it might hit the whopping 2,000 milestone on Kindle before the end of the year.
It actually hit it this morning and, across the day, an astonishing 50 reviews/ratings have been added taking it way past that and 92% are positive. If you’d like to see why readers are loving it so much, it’s still on a 99p deal and you can buy it on Kindle UK here.
In the meantime, I’ve been willing the hedgehogs along. Book 2, New Arrivals at Hedgehog Hollow, hit a 3,000 milestone a few months back and book 3, Family Secrets at Hedgehog Hollow, has been edging closer but not quite making it. Until today. 3,000 reviews/ratings! Woo hoo! And 94% of them are positive!
On Kindle, the series has attracted a whopping 9,068 reviews/ratings so far. Add in a further 636 on Apple Books and an amazing 1,712 on Audible, and there’s definitely a lot of love around for those hedgehogs.
Which is just as well as book 4 will be out on Thursday (6th January). Eek! It can be pre-ordered for Kindle UK here and Audible UK here.
Happy New Year to you and thank you so much to everyone who has left reviews/ratings for any of my books but especially these two milestone-achievers.
On Christmas Eve Eve, subscribers to my newsletter were treated to an exclusive cover reveal of the second book in The Starfish Café series with a full cover reveal on Christmas Eve. (You can subscribe to my newsletter here). I’d like to say I wanted to delay my reveal on my website until after the big day as followers probably had loads on then, but the truth is I completely forgot. Oops!
So here’s the reveal of Spring Tides at The Starfish Café and the accompanying blurb (a little further down).
It’s out on 5th April and is available for pre-order on Kindle now through these links:
It will be available for pre-order for other eReaders including Apple Books but Kindle is the only provider that permits pre-orders so far in advance of the publication day. The Audible version should also go up for pre-order nearer the time and it will be available as a hardback, paperback and large print versions from publication day.
I’d like to say a huge THANK YOU to everyone who has taken Hollie and Jake’s emotional story into their hearts. Snowflakes Over The Starfish Café spent much of November in the Kindle Top 100 and all of December right until Christmas Eve when it dipped out. It has also performed really well on Apple Books although there’s no way for an author to track performance like there is on Kindle.
I’ve been thrilled at all the gorgeous reviews and ratings coming in and, at the time of writing this, it’s nearly at 1,900 so will soon be celebrating a whopping milestone of 2k on Kindle.
Spring Tides at The Starfish Café picks up Hollie and Jake’s story a few months on from where Snowflakes Over The Starfish Café ends and readers will meet a new character.
Here’s the blurb:
Welcome back to the Starfish Café – where you will find stunning views, delicious food and lifelong friendships.
A new season…
As winter turns to spring, Hollie – owner of The Starfish Café – is feeling content as she settles into her new life with her loving boyfriend, Jake, and their adorable dog Pickle.
But when an unwelcome visitor threatens the future of her café, Hollie must stay strong to protect her family’s legacy…
A leap of faith…
Emerging from an unhappy relationship, Tori finds herself with nowhere to stay and nobody to talk to. The long-hidden secrets of her past weigh heavily on her until a chance encounter with Finley, struggling to come to terms with his own secrets, provides an opportunity to open up.
Can she find the strength to stop hiding from her past and face up to her family? Especially when that would mean letting her guard down and learning to trust again…
A fresh start…?
Little do Hollie and Tori know that their lives are about to collide at The Starfish Café and they may be able to help each other with a fresh start. After all, with good friends in your life, nothing is impossible…
The plan is for The Starfish Café series to be a trilogy with the final part released in 2023. Each of the first two books tells a complete story with no cliffhangers so anyone reading/listening to Spring Tides at The Starfish Café at the point of publication won’t be left hanging on a cliff edge until the following year.
Thank you to everyone who has already pre-ordered Spring Tides at The Starfish Café. I really appreciate that support.
Hello and welcome to Boxing Day. How was Christmas Day? If you were celebrating, I hope you had a fabulous time.
I’m really excited today as seven of my books are on a very special offer on Kindle UK. It’s known as a ‘gold box’ and is only available on a Sunday for eBooks. To be eligible for a gold box offer, an author must have at least six books with the same publisher and they need to have been retailing at £2.99 for at least two months before the 99p gold box deal is secured so that readers are genuinely getting a good offer.
You can usually spot which author has a gold box deal because, late on Sunday afternoon and into Monday morning, those books are usually doing very well near the top of the Kindle charts. This is because they’re featured in the Kindle newsletter and on the daily deals pages and heavily marketed by Amazon themselves.
Yesterday, there was a special Christmas day gold box on the Cadfael series of books by Ellis Peters. At one point yesterday evening, I spotted a whopping 19 of the 21 books in the Top 50. Wow! That’s serious chart domination! They’re still riding high this morning as I’m writing this although they’re back up to the £3.99 price now so they’ll drop position later. There’s always a lag in the sales figures having an impact on the chart.
Unusually, today’s gold box is a joint Boldwood Books one with Jennifer Bohnet who has four of her titles in the deal alongside my seven and it looks like another Boldwood author, Rosie Clarke, has a daily deal with Stormy Days on Mulberry Lane.
My gold box books are:
Making Wishes at Bay View (Welcome to Whitsborough Bay book 1)
Finding Hope at Lighthouse Cove (Welcome to Whitsborough Bay book 3)
Coming Home to Seashell Cottage (Welcome to Whitsborough Bay book 4)
Starry Skies Over The Chocolate Pot Café
Finding Love at Hedgehog Hollow (Hedgehog Hollow book 1)
New Arrivals at Hedgehog Hollow (Hedgehog Hollow book 2)
Family Secrets at Hedgehog Hollow (Hedgehog Hollow book 3)
We’re not really sure why book 2 in the Welcome to Whitsborough Bay book – New Beginnings at Seaside Blooms – wasn’t selected alongside the rest of the books in the series but it’s less than £6 for the full four-book series, even paying full price for that title, which is still a great deal.
With book 4 in the Hedgehog Hollow series – A Wedding at Hedgehog Hollow – out on 6th January, this is the perfect time to catch up with the three books in the series so far but only pay the price at which one book usually retails. Even though each book in this series is a complete story, it’s a far richer reading experience starting from the beginning and watching the characters develop across the series.
All my Christmas/seasonal books are on a 99p offer at the moment too, although not part of the gold box deal. These will probably stay at 99p until at least the end of December but the gold box is ONE DAY ONLY. There is a slight possibility that Starry Skies Over The Chocolate Pot Café may stay at 99p a little longer as Amazon had been price-matching that to an Apple Books offer but I wouldn’t take that chance:
Snowflakes Over The Starfish Café
Christmas Wishes at the Chocolate Shop
Christmas at Carly’s Cupcakes
So you can pick up a whopping TEN of my books on Kindle UK for only 99p each today – £9.90 total.
For another £7.77, you could add in the three books that aren’t on offer just now – New Beginnings at Seaside Blooms, All You Need is Love and The Secret to Happiness meaning you’d have the entire Whitsborough Bay collection and Hedgehog Hollow series released so far – 13 books – for £17.67, averaging £1.35 each. SUPER BARGAIN!
You can get to my Amazon UK author page here where you’ll be able to find all my books.
I’ve seen so many of these gold box deals secure astonishing chart positions, albeit for a brief window of time, and I’m trying not to get too excited about the idea of seven books in the Top 50 together or even Top 20 success. My absolute dream would be a book in the Top 10 in the UK. I’ve managed that in Canada and Australia but #14 is the highest I’ve had in the UK Kindle charts with Seaside Blooms when it was on a Prime Deal last year. None of the other books in the Welcome to Whitsborough Bay series have been in the Top 100 so it would be amazing if they got there.
I’d be ever so grateful if you could share the news if you’re UK-based or have friends/family in the UK who might like to take advantage of this offer. Wishing Rosie Clarke all the best with her daily deal and Jennifer Bohnet every success with her four gold box books. Go Boldwood!
Five more sleeps until Christmas. Eek! Are you all sorted? We had a quick nip into town first thing, before it got busy, and bought the last of our gifts. I wrapped them as soon as I got back so I think we’re there now.
If you’re an Audible UK subscriber and fancy something Christmassy to listen to while you’re wrapping the gifts or preparing the Christmas dinner, look no further because Christmas Wishes at the Chocolate Shop is in their sale for £3 right now. It was a thrill to see the audiobooks storming straight into the Top 100 and almost getting into the Top 50, peaking (so far) at #51.
If you’d like something non-Christmassy to listen to, the third book in my ‘Welcome to Whitsborough Bay’ series, Finding Hope at Lighthouse Cove, is also £3 in the sale. It was meant to be on this offer a few weeks back but it didn’t get activated so they’ve added it in now. It also went straight into the Top 100, peaking (so far) at #65 which is so lovely to see.
It was also special to see them side by side in the two top positions in the audio Women’s Fiction chart…
These sales usually last a week but, because of Christmas, they’re on for a fortnight, ending on 3rd January 2022.
Thank you to all the lovely listeners who have bought them during the Audible sale so far. Please do spread the word!
I’ve had a couple more reviews/ratings milestones on Amazon in the past few days. Christmas Wishes at the Chocolate Shop has hit the 1,000 mark and Coming Home to Seashell Cottage, the fourth and final book in the ‘Welcome to Whitsborough Bay’ series has hit 1,500.
An enormous thank you to anyone who has helped them get to these amazing milestones. I have to still pinch myself to see my books having so many reviews.
A TRIP TO WHITBY
And, finally, we had a lovely trip up the coast to Whitby yesterday. I was concerned it might be a little busy as there are lots of delightful gift shops, ideal for Christmas gifts, but it was actually fairly deserted. The weather probably didn’t help as it was cold, misty and damp as you can probably tell from the photos.
There’s a fabulous heritage trail with amazing wire sculptures depicting the fishing industry in Whitby. Hubby snapped these couple of pics. I love how you can see iconic images in the background like the lighthouse on the one on the left and St Mary’s Church (near Whitby Abbey) in the one on the right. There were several other sculptures and hopefully we’ll return soon and go round them all.
There’s s a lifeboat station at Whitby and, on the other side of the river, an RNLI shop where the lifeboat station used to be. I couldn’t resist a few purchases, especially when Snowflakes Over The Starfish Café strongly features the RNLI in its storyline.
The quote on the tote bag and the wooden box – the call from Sir William Hillary, founder of the RNLI in 1823 to form a national institution to save lives at sea – appears at the start of the book and is a recurring theme throughout. I love it so much.
There’s a branch of The Works there so we popped in to see if they had any of my books in. Starry Skies Over The Chocolate Pot Café appeared to have sold through but the hedgehogs were there. I definitely don’t think they’ll sell through quickly this side of Christmas when readers of this genre are after their festive reads, but hopefully they’ll fly off the shelves in the New Year.
On the Abbey side of the river, there are two lovely discount bookshops on the same street almost opposite each other, one having a range of books, jigsaws and toys – Good Reads Whitby – and the other focusing purely on Whitby with Whitby-based books, merchandise, photographs etc.
Whenever we see an independent bookshop, I like to go inside to see whether there are any of my books or books by Boldwood Buddies. This is because, when there’s a print run from The Works, more books than they need are printed to make the low cost of selling them financially viable. The excess are bought by a third party and distributed round the UK to indie bookshops, garden centres, post offices, local supermarkets etc., and others go abroad, particularly to Canada to an online retailer/bookstore called Indigo.
We paused to look in the window and how delighted was I to see Starry Skies Over The Chocolate Pot Café in there! What a treat!
Inside, there were loads of Boldwood Buddies which is always so exciting to see. And two more of my books! There were copies of Making Wishes at Bay View and The Secret to Happiness.
So if you live in or near Whitby and didn’t get a chance to pick up these books while they were in The Works, now’s your chance!
In a world where so much continues to be confusing and frightening, I’ve been making the most of the happier things that have happened across the past week: adding the finishing touches to the Christmas decorations, a phenomenal semi-final on Strictly, a glowing report from my daughter’s virtual parents’ evening and a lovely day out to a stately home with an author friend.
The past week has brought much to celebrate in my writing too…
Today, I hit a fabulous milestone for two of my books. Snowflakes Over The Starfish Café passed 1,500 reviews/ratings on Amazon and Christmas at Carly’s Cupcakes hit 2,500.
I’m absolutely delighted! It shouldn’t be long before I’m celebrating Christmas Wishes at the Chocolate Shop hitting 1,000 and Starry Skies Over The Chocolate Pot Café reaching a whopping 3,000. The former will probably get there by the weekend and the latter will hopefully make it by the end of the year.
Isn’t it funny how all four of my seasonal books will hit an exact milestone at around the same time?
DOUBLE TOP 100 SUCCESS
I was absolutely delighted to see Snowflakes Over The Starfish Café and Christmas Wishes at the Chocolate Shop in the Kindle Top 100 in the UK at exactly the same time. They danced around each other a bit at the bottom of the chart with Christmas Wishes passing Starfish Café on one occasion.
Although Christmas Wishes didn’t stick around in the Top 100 for long, it was wonderful to see Charlee’s story there. Starfish Café has done me so proud, hanging around in the Top 100 fairly solidly since mid-November and peaking as high as #56.
There was also some success for Christmas Wishes on the Apple Books chart with a Top 10 position in the Fiction & Literature Chart and Top 100 in the overall chart too.
Snowflakes Over The Starfish Café was selected by Boldwood’s reading community as their choice for the very first #BoldBookClub which started with a readalong this week. There’s a book club question posed each day and various competitions and giveaways running so do pop over to Instagram – look for @BookandTonic – to join in.
I’ve been delighted with the buzz and the amazing answers to the book club questions so far. Tonight, there was an Instagram Live where 3 amazing bloggers – Fiona, Meena and Jav – joined me to ask questions and I did a quick reading. You can find the Live here. A huge thank you to Fiona, Meena and Jav for the great questions, to Claire for keeping me right with the technicalities (newbie here!) and to all those who stopped by.
FAVOURITE READS OF 2021
It’s the time of year when book bloggers/reviewers start sharing their favourite reads of the year.
Joanne from Portobello Book Blogs delighted me with the news that All You Need is Love was one of her top reads of the first quarter of the year! Wow! It’s one of my favourite books that I’ve written so this was a particular honour for me. You can find the blog post here. Thank you so very much, Joanne.
Then yesterday I received the amazing news that Claire at Book Lovers Anonymous (find her on Facebook here) had announced her top 5 books of 2021 out of 300 she’s read and A Wedding at Hedgehog Hollow was at #5. It isn’t out until 6th January but Claire, as a blogger, had an advanced copy so it fell into her 2021 reading.
Claire wrote, “fantastic addition to a phenomenal series. I love Samantha and I hope the series never ends”. Awww!
The good news didn’t end there as Snowflakes Over The Starfish Café also featured in her top 5. At number 1!!!!! Eek!!!! I am so thrilled.
Claire wrote, “Another fantastic book by the super talented Jessica Redland [pauses to blush and pinch self]… Honestly, never has a book made me feel so much emotion, and it will be a book I will love forever”. Seriously, I was welling up reading that!
Claire sent me a badge to put on my website so hopefully I’ll remember how to do that and get it added soon but here it is in the meantime. Isn’t it pretty?
Thank you to everyone who has played any part in all these wonderful things. I appreciate it so very much. It’s still hard to believe that this time three years ago, I was at my lowest ever point with my writing and seriously questioning whether to call it a day. Writing is who I am so I knew I could never really let go but it was so hard back then. So to anyone for whom life is tough just now, who’s facing challenges, who’s feeling low, hang on in there as I’m living proof that time can change everything. Stay strong, stay safe, and stay believing in yourself.
It’s two weeks today until Christmas Day! Eek! I am unbelievably disorganised this year. I had an unusually busy diary in November and an editing deadline and it has completely knocked everything out for me. The trees are up but there are still boxes everywhere still which need clearing today. I’ve had a couple of fairly unsuccessful shopping trips so still have some gifts to buy. My daughter’s birthday is 6 days before Christmas so we need double the ideas for gifts from us, both sets of grandparents, my brothers and my husband’s sisters. I met up with my side of the family last weekend and was organised enough to take their Christmas cards with me but I haven’t written any others. I think it’s going to need to be a busy Christmassy catching-up weekend for me.
Speaking of Christmas, there are some fabulous deals on my four festive books right now. Three of these books are in a series although each works as a standalone book:
Christmas Wishes at the Chocolate Shop (formerly Charlee and the Chocolate Shop)
Christmas at Carly’s Cupcakes
Starry Skies Over The Chocolate Pot Café (formerly Christmas at the Chocolate Pot Café)
These are part of a series called ‘Christmas on Castle Street’ but it’s really only a series connected by the fact that they’re all set at Christmas in businesses on Castle Street. However, this is the order they’re written in and the businesses and characters get mentioned in subsequent books so there are some small spoilers if you read books 2 and 3 out of order but nothing much if you read book 1 out of order.
My latest release – Snowflakes Over The Starfish Café – is the start of a brand new series but is a complete story with no cliffhangers. It mentions Christmas and it has chapters set on Christmas Eve and Christmas Day but this is more of a seasonal book than a Christmas one and has a very different feel to the other two.
In the UK, these books are on various deals which should keep them all at 99p throughout December. They are this price on Kindle and Apple Books and three of them are 99p on Kobo but Starry Skies is £2.99 on Kobo at the time of writing this.
In the USA, there are offers on three of the four reads on Kindle. At the time of writing this, Starry Skies was $3.99 but prices do sometimes change as Amazon price matches. Apple Books currently has different deals. Starry Skies and Christmas Wishes are both $0.99, with the Starfish Café and Carly’s Cupcakes at $1.99.
In Canada, there are some fabulous Kindle offers on all four books. The current Apple Books offers are the same as shown below for three of them. The only exception is that Starfish Café is currently $1.99 on Apple.
And finally to Australia, there are also great deals to be had. All four of these books are currently $1.99 on Apple Books Australia.
So loads of amazing deals to be had in all these territories although do bear in mind that prices can change, particularly on Amazon as they frequently price-match other sites.
Happy festive reading!
If you’ve already read these but have friends/family members/colleagues/neighbours who you think will enjoy them, please do spread the word!
Right, best get into Christmas mode and try to get organised!
At the start of this month, I posted about the Children in Read auction – an amazing auction of books and book-related items in aid of BBC’s Children in Need. You can read the post here.
At the time, I explained that I’d donated my Christmas on Castle Street trilogy as a lot. It had 7 bids and had already raised £25. I’m thrilled to report that, with still 8 days to go until bidding closes, an 8th bid has raised it to a whopping £45. Eek! Delighted with that.
This is the final part of my blog about our family week away in the Yorkshire Dales. Apologies it’s a day late – something urgent cropped up yesterday (work-wise).
Still staying with the James Herriot theme, I’ve selected another book title – All Things Bright and Beautiful – which is, of course, part of the hymn from which All Creatures Great and Small comes.
I’m focusing on an eclectic mix of beautiful things for this part, whether that’s beauty in nature, food, or simply things that make me happy.
Gayle Beck which runs off the River Ure passes through Hawes and we were staying in a holiday cottage just round the corner from it called The Old Surgery. It was a brilliant location, right at the edge of the town centre so very accessible for everything.
On Sunday morning, the day after we arrived, we went for a little wander and I took a photo of the waterfall – probably one of the most photographed sights in Hawes. As you can see, there was a gentle but steady flow of water. Very beautiful.
As the week progressed and the rain persisted, the flow strengthened…
And by the time we left, it was a raging torrent!
There used to be a mill across the beck from our holiday cottage on the other side of the bridge that that waterfall above flows under. There was an old enlarged photo in the cottage showing what it used to look like with the mill wheel. On the bottom photo, you can clearly see the wall around the wheel although the wheel itself is long gone. What’s particularly interesting is that there appears to have been a wall across the beck, presumably to keep the water higher for the wheel to turn. That’s gone too.
Hawes has a few lovely gifts shops and a particular favourite was one called The Mulberry Bush which stocked Jellycats (I love them) and some gorgeous Christmassy gifts.
A shop I always love to visit is Bear Cottage. It’s an interior designs business but it stocks some lovely gifts and I like to have a hug with the two bears outside although I was conscious this time of not putting my paws on them in this strange Covid world so I had to do a sort of hover thing!
There was a gorgeous bear inside too although it wasn’t so easy to get his photo. I wished I could have taken him home. He’s so gorgeous.
Mid-week, the rain was so torrential with no sign of let up so the munchkin and I left hubby back in the cottage with Ella (our sprocker spaniel) and took a walk to the other end of the town to visit the Wensleydale Creamery.
There’s a visitor centre there and a visit includes cheese-making demonstrations but we were on a mission for a cream scone! We were the only ones in the café at first. The scones were still warm – mmm. I’m not a massive fan of fruit scones, preferring a plain or cheese one. They had cheese but I wanted jam and cream so it had to be fruit. I will eat some of the fruit but then I hit the point where I have to remove it as it’s too much. If you’ve read Snowflakes Over The Starfish Café you’ll know what I mean when I said I did a Mrs Sultana.
Various pictures by my favourite artist, Lucy Pittaway, were displayed around the café and I was particularly pleased to see two of the images from ‘The Home Collection’ hanging right next to each other as, combined, they remind me so much of my Hedgehog Hollow series. I have the print of ‘Happiness is Homemade’ with the hedgehogs surrounded by wildflowers, just like in Thomas’s meadow. The three-storey house in ‘Dream Big’ reminds me of the farmhouse as shown on the cover of Finding Love at Hedgehog Hollow.
Lucy Pittaway’s art also inspires part of the storyline in Starry Skies Over The Chocolate Pot Café.
The gift shop at The Creamery is lovely and we had a good browse (and little purchase) before stepping back out into the torrential rain.
In the afternoon, we went over to the Dales Countryside Museum a few minutes’ walk from the cottage. It’s all about the people and activities in the Dales over the years and there are lots of activities to keep young children amused – or 14 year olds on a wet miserable day!
We managed to catch a break in the rain with a trip out to Richmond and Leyburn, including a visit to Richmond Castle. There are fabulous views from the castle and the changing colours of the trees looked lovely, but the photos on a gloomy day like that don’t quite do justice to them.
While we were away, we celebrated a special publication day with the release of my very first foreign rights translation – Starry Skies Over The Chocolate Pot Café being translated into Italian. It’s called Festa Sotto La Neve and I hope sales in Italy go well.
And how do you celebrate an Italian publication day? With a takeaway pizza of course! We’re so sophisticated!
I hope you’ve enjoyed seeing the photos from another beautiful part of North Yorkshire, mainly caught during rare breaks in the rain. The ones I posted in Part 2 on our walk were the only day we saw blue sky across the whole week which was a shame and did somewhat hamper our plans for the week, although I’m just grateful for the opportunity to get out and about a bit after so long at home.
Right now, the eBook is 99p (or overseas equivalent) and this is on all platforms so, if you haven’t already taken a trip to The Starfish Café, this is the perfect opportunity.
Set in Whitsborough Bay, this is the start of a brand new series, but this book is a complete story with no cliff hangers. The second book will be out on 5th April 2022.
Warning: Although like all my books, it’s uplifting and heartwarming with a happy ending guaranteed, it’s an emotional one so you may need tissues!
If you know anyone who you think would like this book, please do spread the word.
Big hugs Jessica xx
‘Heartbreakingly moving and yet beautifully uplifting, I cried for all the right reasons!’ Jo Bartlett
‘I fell in love with this story from page one’ Helen J Rolfe
‘Achingly poignant, yet full of hope – You will fall in love with this beautiful Christmas story’ Sandy Barker
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…
Join top 10 bestseller Jessica Redland for a magical winter at the seaside, where love blossoms and lifelong friendships are made.
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.
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.
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 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.
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.