The one where the hedgehogs are in some amazing deals right now on Apple, Kobo, Kindle & Audible

It’s an exciting time for the hedgehogs at the moment as there are various great promotional deals for them. Let’s start with Kobo…

If you’re a Kobo listener and haven’t tried any of the Hedgehog Hollow series, Kobo are running a special ‘Spring into a New Series’ deal in the UK and ‘Fall into a New Series in Australia and New Zealand. As the first in the Hedgehog Hollow series, Finding Love at Hedgehog Hollow is included at a discounted price. In the UK, this is 99p.

This offer ends on 23rd May.

The next deal is from Apple Books in the UK, Ireland, Australia, New Zealand, USA and Canada.

The eBook of the fourth novel in the series, A Wedding at Hedgehog Hollow, is part of Apple’s ‘Romance Tropes’ promotion running until 28th May. This sees a price drop in all these territories. In the UK, this is 99p.

And because Amazon tend to price-match, the price has also dropped on this eBook on Kindle UK. I suspect it will run at this price for at least as long as the Apple promotion runs but I wouldn’t delay, just in case…

And for those who love listening, A Wedding at Hedgehog Hollow is in the Audible UK ‘2 for 1 Sale’ starting today and running until Sunday 22nd May…

As with all their week-long promotions, a helpful countdown shows on Audible showing how long there is left to take advantage of this. It’s lovely to see Jo Bartlett’s A Spring Surprise for the Cornish Midwife featuring in the same promotion so there’s a great pairing you might like to go for. Jo’s series is fabulous and I’m actually reading this one myself at the moment – also the fourth in the series – and loving it.

I’ve had some amazing chart positions on Audible recently, with several Top 100 placings for my audiobooks on offer but also for my newest release Spring Tides at The Starfish Café which has been extra special as that wasn’t on a promotion. I’ll therefore be eagerly checking the charts later this afternoon to see how high those hedgehogs scamper, which isn’t ideal as I’m on a deadline for writing the sixth Hedgehog Hollow book this weekend so really need to be head down.

Please do spread the word if you know of anyone who might be interested in any of these deals and thank you so much if you take advantage of any of them yourself.

Don’t forget that Finding Love at Hedgehog Hollow is FREE via Audible Plus, Family Secrets at Hedgehog Hollow (book 3) has just gone into The Works, and all my Hedgehog Hollow books (and all my Whitsborough Bay books too) are FREE if you’re a Kindle Unlimited subscriber.

And although it has nothing to do with hedgehogs, I just have to pause to say a huge congratulations to Ukraine for winning the Eurovision Song Contest last night and for Sam Ryder for being phenomenal in representing the UK and coming second. What an absolute star he was last night.

Have a fabulous Sunday.

Big hedge-hugs
Jessica xx

The one where Family Secrets has an extra special reason for celebrating its one-year book birthday

Today – 4th May – is the one-year book birthday of the release of the third book in the Hedgehog Hollow series, Family Secrets at Hedgehog Hollow. And, as it’s Star Wars Day today – May the fourth be with you – I couldn’t resist a photo shoot with my adorable Grogu alongside copies of the book and a couple of knitted hedgehogs. Grogu is even the right colour for accessorising with the book!

The knitted hedgehogs are from the talented team at Wolds Hedgehog Rescue and did contain creme eggs. But not for long!

It’s an extra special one-year birthday anniversary for Family Secrets at Hedgehog Hollow because it has just gone into The Works! It appeared online today and you can grab it here for £2 or as part of the 3 for £5 paperbacks offer.

Paperbacks will also be going into branches of The Works so should be on the shelves this week/next week depending on when your local store takes deliveries.

I love this story and took a risk with it because it is partly narrated by our heroine Samantha and partly by her cousin Chloe who readers hate … and for good reason as she hasn’t treated our Samantha very well at all. By the end of this book, some readers end up loving Chloe, some like her and others still hate her but understand her better. For me, this was never about trying to get readers or listeners to like her; it was about me telling an interesting and unexpected story.

It amuses me when I see reviews for either this book or others in the series saying that the reader still doesn’t like Chloe no matter how much I’m trying to convince them to do so. I’m not trying to do anything of the sort! How a reader feels about Chloe is entirely their choice. What I’m doing is showing that antagonists aren’t necessarily all bad by presenting Chloe’s positives alongside her flaws. I imagined her at the start as a Marmite character – love her or hate her – and that’s exactly what she’s become. Do I love her or hate her? That’s my secret!

This is the third book and can be followed as a standalone story but I would urge readers/listeners to dive into the series from the start to fully understand the characters and the journeys they go on. The order is Finding Love… New Arrivals… Family Secrets… A Wedding… and we have Chasing Dreams at Hedgehog Hollow out next month and one more to come in early September to conclude the series.

This book does end on a whopper of a cliffhanger so be warned!

If you do see a copy of Family Secrets in your local branch of The Works, please do take a shelfie and tag me into it in social media as I don’t think the novelty of seeing my books out in the wild will ever fade.

Big hedge-hugs
Jessica xx

The one with 2 audiobook offers, 2 milestones & a trip to Whitby

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.

AUDIOBOOK OFFERS

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!

MILESTONES

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!

Big Christmassy hugs
Jessica xx

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)

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

Starry Skies Over The Chocolate Pot Café goes into The Works

I’m very excited to bring the fabulous news that The Works have taken on another of my titles.

Starry Skies Over The Chocolate Pot Café is now available online right here and should be appearing in branches of The Works very soon. A huge thank you to my amazing publisher Boldwood Books for making this happen.

This is the fourth of my titles to appear in The Works after The Secret to Happiness and Making Wishes at Bay View went in during summer 2000 and Finding Love at Hedgehog Hollow snuck in as a late addition just before we went into a second lockdown in the autumn.

All three of these sold out online fairly quickly last year but there may be the odd copy still to be found in stores, particularly if they’ve been positioned on the higher shelves (which means books don’t sell as quickly).

I’m in town tomorrow for an eye test so will be checking out the Scarborough branch of The Works but it usually appears in-store a short while after appearing online so I’m probably a bit early to catch it, especially when today is the first day Starry Skies has been available online.

All paperbacks in The Works are £2 or 3 for £5. Such a huge bargain and what a great excuse to treat yourself to three books… or six… or maybe nine! You could start your Christmas shopping with these great stocking-fillers.

The blurb:

Everyone is getting into the festive spirit on Castle Street – snow is falling, fairy lights are glistening and Christmas shopping is underway.

But for Tara Porter, owner of thriving cafe, The Chocolate Pot, this is the most difficult time of the year. From the outside, Tara is a successful businesswoman and pillar of the community. Behind closed doors, she is lonely. 

With a lifetime of secrets weighing on her shoulders, she has retreated from all friends, family and romance, and shut her real self away from the world. Afterall, if you don’t let them in, they can’t hurt you. She’s learnt that the hard way.

But as the weight of her past becomes heavier and an unexpected new neighbour moves onto the street – threatening the future of her cafe – Tara begins to realise that maybe it’s time to finally let people back in and confront her history. It could just change her life forever…

With over 1,700 reviews/ratings, 78% of which are 5-star and 16% of which are 4-star, this has been very warmly received by readers. Hot chocolate, Christmas and a giant house rabbit called Hercules … what more could you want?

If you do spot any of my books in a branch of The Works (or a garden centre, post office, local shop), please do post a shelfie on social media and tag me in. As my books don’t get stocked in the major bookshops or supermarkets, it’s a thrill to see them out and about.

Big hugs
Jessica xx

Happy 2nd Birthday to Boldwood Books

Today I’m delighted to wish my amazing publisher, Boldwood Books, a Happy 2nd Birthday. Woo hoo!

Boldwood officially launched in February 2019, opening up to submissions that day, and I was all ready with my manuscript the moment we passed midnight and was thrilled to get ‘the call’ the following month and join the team as one of the first twenty authors.

The reason today – 1st August – is the official birthday is that this is the date the first release went out into the world. Nina Manning’s The Daughter in Law – a psychological thriller – was a huge success, as were the other August releases: romcom Honeymoon for One by Portia MacIntosh and contemporary women’s fiction Villa of Sun and Secrets by Jennifer Bohnet.

My Boldwood debut, The Secret to Happiness, was the first September release and it was so exciting seeing a new release out pretty much every week as the portfolio grew.

During their two years, Boldwood have delivered exactly what they promised: publishing reimagined. They have taken the ‘digital first’ concept and said ‘but that doesn’t need to mean digital only’ and, right from the start, all titles were released in several formats: eBook on all platforms, paperback, physical audio and audio download. But they haven’t stopped there. All titles are available in large print formats too and all titles released since March this year have come out in hardback (and older titles will, over time, retrospectively be available in that format). Streaming services have also been added meaning that, whatever a person’s reading or listening preferences, Boldwood have it covered.

They established a programme with The Works and I was thrilled to have three books – The Secret to Happiness, Making Wishes at Bay View and Finding Love at Hedgehog Hollow – go into The Works stores and online in 2020. This programme has also seen additional stock distributed around the UK, Ireland, USA and Canada meaning that books could appear in garden centres, post offices, small and large supermarkets in those countries. I’ve personally spotted one of mine in two local garden centres and a friend sent me a photo of one in her local post office which was such a thrill.

Two of my books in The Works together

Another amazing deal saw many books go into supermarkets in Australia. The distributor specified crime and thrillers only so mine weren’t included but I was still able to enjoy the moment vicariously seeing shelfies from down under featuring books by my Boldwood buddies.

Across the two years, Boldwood have been nominated and shortlisted for various industry prizes, winning the regional heat of the Publisher of the Year in the British Book Awards 2021 and winning the Best Newcomer award at the Independent Publishing Awards 2020.

Team Boldwood have also:

  • Sold 4 million books (across all formats)
  • Had 45 Top 10 Bestsellers
  • Signed more than 60 authors
  • Published over 160 titles
  • Received more than 100,000 5-star reviews on Amazon
  • Expanded to a team of 8
  • Acquired over 15,000 social media followers

That’s a lot of amazing achievements in only two years! Very much looking forward to where the next two years take us. I’m already aware of some exciting new opportunities which will be revealed in due course, and I’m sure there’ll be many more.

First to Last Release in Two Years (well, give or take a couple of days!)

For me personally, two years brings an amazing milestone. On Tuesday (3rd August), the final book in my first twelve-book publishing contract is released. Christmas Wishes at the Chocolate Shop is also the final book in my backlist, all of which Boldwood acquired, and was previously out as Charlee and the Chocolate Shop. Then, later this month, Snowflakes at The Starfish Café is published (31st August) which sees the start of a brand new twelve-book deal and a new series. I can’t believe I’m already on my second contract! When it came to resigning with Boldwood, I didn’t even need to think about it. A resounding YES!

A month before Boldwood’s first birthday, I added Hedgehog Hollow to my settings and have been overwhelmed with the love for the hedgehogs. There are now three books out there with a fourth on pre-order and more to come from the hedgehogs in 2022.

The dawn of a new series

A huge CONGRATULATIONS to the whole team at Boldwood Books for creating such a warm, friendly, innovative company and for being so supportive. My particular gratitude goes to Amanda Ridout, our Founder and CEO, for her passion, enthusiasm and tremendous vision and to my editor (and Publishing / Sales & Marketing Director), Nia Beynon, who is an absolute dream to work with. Nia has been my editor from the start and therefore knows, understands, and loves the worlds of Whitsborough Bay and Hedgehog Hollow as much as I do. She is my sounding board and a shoulder to cry on and I have learned so much from her exceptional editing skills about how to turn a good story into a great one.

A thank you to Megan Townsend, Publishing Executive, who works behind the scenes preparing the books for publication and Claire Fenby, Digital Marketing Manager, who only joined the team fairly recently but has already made such a tremendous impact on our social media channels with her digital innovations.

I’m so grateful to the team of authors at Boldwood for being such a supportive, friendly group. Very excited to hopefully meet them all in person at some point. Congratulations to you all for writing such amazing books. I’m a very slow reader but I think I’ve maybe read about twenty Boldwood releases so far and they’ve all been exceptional. My mum, bless her, has read (and loved) nearly all of them!

Finally an enormous THANK YOU to all the readers and bloggers/reviewers who buy the books in whatever format, leave reviews, spread recommendations, send messages, and share the love. We wouldn’t be here without your support. Huge hugs to every single one of you.

Happy 2nd Birthday Boldwood. Here’s to an exciting third year…

Big birthday hugs
Jessica xx

Thinking of the book industry during a tough year

A memory came up on my Facebook feed from a year ago: an announcement from The Bookseller about Boldwood Books launching their traditional print programme with The Works. This was so exciting as it was an opportunity to see our paperbacks out in the world and every author who’d signed with Boldwood at the time was guaranteed at least one book going into this programme. Woo hoo!

But at the time of that announcement, as I celebrated the great news and looked forward to visiting my first book in The Works, none of us had no idea what was about to hit us. None of us had any idea how much our world was about to change.

The Secret to Happiness – my Boldwood debut book – was scheduled to go into The Works around Easter which would coincide with the start of the tourist season in Scarborough. I had visions of my local store quickly selling out of the book before I’d even seen it as locals and tourists recognised the Scarborough scene on the front cover. But my book didn’t go into The Works at Easter because we went into a national lockdown. Stores closed and we retreated indoors. The programme was on hold.

The Secret to Happiness went into The Works in June instead when restrictions were lifted and I was both delighted and surprised when they took another two of mine – Making Wishes at Bay View and Finding Love at Hedgehog Hollow – before stores closed once more in late 2020.

I felt a mix of emotions as that announcement from a year ago popped up on my feed today. So many amazing things have happened for me as an author during the past twelve months yet so many tragic, shocking and heartbreaking things have happened around the world, changing life as we know it both now and for the future.

Today I’m thinking of all book sellers in the UK and around the world whose doors are currently closed or who have been closed at points during 2020 and 2021. Some of them for good.

I’m thinking of all book sellers whether high street chains, small independents, market stalls or those for whom books are part of a bigger product offering. I’m thinking of how they lost their valuable Christmas season and how 2020 barely existed and 2021 hasn’t even started.

I’m thinking of the indies who don’t have an online presence or a way of operating a click and collect process so no way of making sales.

I’m thinking of all the owners of these businesses, particularly indies, and the staff they employ. 

I’m thinking of all the businesses connected with book retailing like printers and distributors who may have been furloughed/lost jobs/ceased trading. And perhaps less obvious connections like the arts. My husband is a freelance typesetter and everything he was working on was put on hold during the first lockdown. One of his clients produces plays. With theatres closed, there were no plays to typeset.

I’m thinking therefore of all the freelancers in the business whose work may have slowed down or dried up: typesetters, editors, cover designers and so on. There will be exceptions and some may have been busier than ever but not in our household.

I’m praying the industry is able to ride the storm and, despite the hardest year ever to face retailers, I’m hoping they’re back when some sort of normality returns. I’m hoping they all remain part of our ‘new normal’.

It’s been tough for authors too. At the ever-innovative Boldwood Books where all our books are available in a stack of formats with a big emphasis on the digital offering (ebook, audio or streamed), we’ve still been able to reach our readers. Authors with the bigger traditional publishers derive much (most?) of their income from the sales of hardbacks and paperbacks and have had to rely on sales through online retailers. With Amazon needing to prioritise warehouse space for ‘essentials’ like medical supplies, even that route became a challenge.

Last year, launches were pushed back with one crazy day in September where hundreds of new titles were released. Debut authors who might have waited years for this to happen may have been lost in the masses. Even successful authors might have experienced limited impact. Book signings, launches, festivals, fairs and conferences would normally generate income and provide an invaluable opportunity to meet and engage with existing readers and find new ones. And, of course, the organisers of these events and the venues where they’d have been held have also missed out.

Some of my fellow Boldwood authors didn’t get their opportunity to go into The Works, perhaps because they’d written a Christmas book and the shifting schedule would have made it out of season or simply because the moving schedule didn’t have the space to fit them in. And some authors had their books instore but couldn’t visit them because that would involve unnecessary travel. I was very fortunate that my local branch stocked all three of my books and I was able to visit them all. I also tried to get photos of other Boldwood Books like this fabulous romance collection in the Beverley branch of The Works last September when travel was permitted.

And finally my thoughts are with our amazing libraries and the passionate, book-loving knowledgeable staff who work for them, whether employed or as a volunteer. Such a valuable resource, libraries have struggled for many years for funding and support and this past year has provided new and unexpected challenges but it’s been amazing seeing how libraries around the country have worked hard to engage with users and bring them new content, even when the library doors have had to close.

Of course, the book industry isn’t the only industry to have had a tough year. Hospitality, travel and tourism, leisure, retailing as a whole, the creative arts … I could go on and on as I doubt there are many (if any) industries not touched by the pandemic and that’s before we even think about healthcare. But this is a post prompted by Boldwood’s The Works Programme announcement so the focus of the post is purely on the book industry.

Spring is approaching as is the one-year anniversary of the UK lockdown. Let’s hope year two is kinder.

Big hugs
Jessica xx

Happy New Year and a warm welcome to 2021

Has 2020 gone? Can someone triple check?

If you read my 2020 round-up post yesterday, you’ll know that I’ve had mixed feelings about saying goodbye to 2020. For me, it was the most wonderful and astonishing year so far in my writing career. I fulfilled long-held dreams and achieved so many goals, including some that weren’t even on my writing bucket list because I never, ever expected to achieve them. 

But, for so many other reasons, 2020 was pants wasn’t it?

Anyway, it’s behind us now. Welcome to 2021 and a new colour for the blog (previously pale blue). This year sees the start of my first full year as a full-time author and I have plans.

Brand New Releases

New Arrivals at Hedgehog Hollow – the second book in my Hedgehog Hollow series – is out on Thursday 7th January and is available on Kindle here. Advanced reviews are mainly positive so hopefully the blog tour will go well. 

I’ll try to ignore the two reviewers who were “very disappointed” with it and left feedback that I shouldn’t have extended this into a series, particularly the one who said she’d loved my previous books but “this one was cringeworthy and had nothing to add, just padding”. Ouch! Thankfully there were plenty who loved it and can’t wait for the third instalment. Phew!

Family Secrets at Hedgehog Hollow – book 3 – is out on 4th May and will be up for pre-order as soon as the cover is ready.

Ooh, is that the first time you’ve heard that title mentioned? Fabulous isn’t it? I’ve been a little vague about the name until now, tending to refer to it as ‘book 3’. We were going to call it Life Begins at Hedgehog Hollow which you may have heard me mention in interviews. It felt like a good title for the end of a series. However, book 3 is no longer the end so it wasn’t as appropriate. 

My editor, Nia, came up with ‘Family Secrets’ and I absolutely love it. It’s possible that ‘Life Begins’ will be used for book 4, or we may come up with something else. It won’t be out until January 2022 so there’s still time to decide.

Family Secrets at Hedgehog Hollow is written and I’m working on my edits now but I won’t write book 4 until later this year.

Re-releases

The final two books in my back-catalogue acquired by Boldwood as part of my original publishing deal will come out this year:

All You Need Is Love is available for pre-order now (click here) and will be out on 11th March. This was previously available under the title Bear With Me. The original version was only ever available as a Kindle eBook and was taken down from sale just before Christmas. I wrote a blog post about what the changes involve which you can find here.

Charlee and the Chocolate Shop will be re-released in August. I haven’t had edits through for this story yet but I don’t anticipate any major changes. It could be that additional chapters are added in, like with my other two Christmas stories, but the fundamental story and main characters won’t change. I don’t know whether there’ll be a new title or not but watch this space for as and when I have news.

My Writing Plans

I’ll have my edits finished on Family Secrets at Hedgehog Hollow within a week and may or may not have a second round of edits before it goes through the copy editing and proofreading processes.

Then I get cracking on a brand new book, which I’m really excited about, especially as it’s a return to Whitsborough Bay. This will be my first release from my second Boldwood publishing deal and will be my Christmas release (out in September 2021).

Although it’s a brand new book for readers, it’s not completely new to me. I’ll be returning to a story I started but abandoned three years ago. I wanted to release a Christmas novella in 2017. I had the idea, the setting, the main character and even did a stack of research. As soon as I started writing it and my male main character arrived on the scene, I realised it was definitely not a novella. It needed to be a dual perspective full-length novel so I parked it after 10k words. I absolutely love the story and it has been nudging at me all that time so I can’t wait to return to it.

After that, I’ll be back to Hedgehog Hollow for the fourth (and final???) instalment.

I had originally talked with my editor about a new series for 2022 – which I’d start writing this year – but I’ve thrown a spanner in the works with my fourth Hedgehog Hollow book so I’m not sure whether I’ll still be starting work on that new series this year (for a spring 2022 release) or working on some of my standalone ideas with a view to the series being out in 2023 instead. 

I also want to return to The Chocolate Pot at some point soon. It’s been lovely seeing reviews and comments on social media hoping for a follow-up. I have mixed opinions on exactly how I want this to work. For those asking about Zoe, who appears at the end of Starry Skies Over The Chocolate Pot Café, we will find out what happens to her. I have big plans for her which will ultimately impact on another business in Castle Street. I haven’t decided yet how I want that to work and whether that business will come into play in the Starry Skies follow-up or as a third book further down the line. Hmm. Decisions decisions!

Writing-Related Plans, Hopes & Dreams

I’m hoping to set up a reader’s group on my Facebook page but want to think some more about how I best do this in a way that engages with my readers who are keen to know more about Whitsborough Bay and Hedgehog Hollow without me taking too much focus away from novel-writing. It’s a delicate balance.

I’m also working on some writing tips and plan to share these on my blog and You Tube simultaneously. To ensure regularity of posts, I want to have most of these prepared pre-launch so I’ve written the first few blog posts this week.

Other hopes and dreams include:

  • At least one more book in The Works. I have been spoilt by having three in the space of six months last year so I’m kind of hoping for more than one
  • Appearing on the Books by the Beach Festival programme (Scarborough’s literary festival in June). I keep pestering the poor organiser and hoping!
  • A UK Kindle Top 10. Not hopeful of this one but you’ve got to have dreams!
  • Foreign rights for any of my books
  • A film or TV deal. Come on, Netflix! Christmas on Castle Street? Hedgehog Hollow? Gorgeous!!!!
  • Not letting imposter syndrome spoil my enjoyment of achieving my dream to become a full-time author
  • Not letting negative reviews upset me. I thankfully don’t get many but those I do get can knock me back for days and I shouldn’t let them
  • Getting more of a work:life balance and accepting I don’t need to work evenings and weekends
  • Reading more and not feeling guilty if I spend a day reading instead of writing

And other hopes and dreams…

Personally, I’m looking forward to a return to some form of normality and being able to see friends and family again. Roll on vaccination time!

I have developed a very bad case of lockdown-lard-arse which I absolutely must address. I start every New Year saying I’m going to lose weight and get fit to the point where it has become a standing joke because I know I have no intention of putting in the effort. A distinct lack of movement in 2020 alongside some understandable comfort eating has definitely exacerbated an already large problem. I’m not a vain person and my size doesn’t bother me that much because I’m used to it, but the potential impact on my health does bother me and 2020 was scary, knowing that my food demons had made me more susceptible to the virus. I turn 50 next year and I don’t want to be fifty and fat.

I have tickets booked for a number of gigs at our local outdoor concert venue – Scarborough Outdoor Theatre – across the summer and hope all will go ahead. Our tickets for Six at Leeds Grand Theatre were rescheduled for July so hopefully that will go ahead too but Sister Act has been completely cancelled. I’m just praying our poor theatres will have survived a horrendous year for many of The Arts. Still can’t get my head around why it was okay to fill aeroplanes but not theatres when restrictions were lifted in the summer but let’s not go there!

What are your plans for 2021? Hope it treats you more kindly than 2020 has.

Big hugs
Jessica xx