The hedgehogs have conquered America

The first book in the Hedgehog Hollow series – Finding Love at Hedgehog Hollow – was on a BookBub promotion yesterday in the USA.

Starting the day with a chart position of #7,047 those hedgehogs were going to need to work hard to scamper up the charts but they did it! With a peak position of #71, I’m absolutely delighted that they reached the Top 100. Go hedgehogs!

They gathered a stack of #1 best seller tags for different categories on their journey. That little orange tag is such a happy sight and I don’t think I’ll ever grow tired of it.

There was also a knock-on impact on the second book – New Arrivals at Hedgehog Hollow – jumping up the chart too and also the third book on pre-order – Family Secrets at Hedgehog Hollow. The latter might not seem that high a chart position but when you look at the jump of over 74,000 places, it gives more context.

The first two books are still on offer at 99c for a limited time so if you were a BookBub subscriber and missed the offer, it’s still available. You can find Finding Love at Hedgehog Hollow here.

Thank you to my publishers, Boldwood Books, and all the readers who bought these books for making a Top 100 in the USA possible. The hedgehogs are doing a very happy dance today.

Big hugs
Jessica xx

Two books in the UK Kindle Top 100 at the same time. Woo hoo!

I’m very tired this morning. Actually, I’m tired most mornings but I was super-duper extra tired this morning because I’d been up at various points in the night checking chart positions. I assure you I’m not normally that committed – or perhaps I should say obsessed – but New Arrivals at Hedgehog Hollow was on a BookBub promotion in the UK, Australia and Canada yesterday/overnight which is always exciting as it can mean high positions.

What is BookBub? Avid readers can sign up to it for free in exchange for details of book promotions. You choose the genres you’re interested in reading, your favourite authors, and whether you like ebooks, audio or both. Every day at around 3pm GMT, BookBub email a newsletter to their subscribers with details of a small number of promotions based on the selections they’ve made. For an author/publisher to secure a BookBub deal, a book must be on offer – I think it has to be at least half price – or free. It’s a great way for readers to keep on top of bargains.

BookBub’s subscriber database is ginormous and having a BookBub promo usually has a significant impact on chart positions. Even though the Kindle charts are meant to be updated hourly, this isn’t always the case and there’s often a lag. There is also a time difference across the regions so the greatest chart impact can often be in the UK’s early hours, hence my nocturnal activities last night!

New Arrivals at Hedgehog Hollow was already close to the Kindle Top 100 in the UK before the newsletter came out so I was pretty sure it would make it inside the Top 100 but wasn’t sure how far. Those hedgehogs scampered up to #77.

All my previous BookBub promos have resulted in higher chart positions in Australia and Canada than the UK so I was particularly excited to see how high New Arrivals at Hedgehog Hollow would reach in those regions. Finding Love at Hedgehog Hollow had made it to #40 in Canada and #20 in Australia when it was on a BookBub last October but The Secret to Happiness and Starry Skies Over The Chocolate Pot Cafe had made it even higher in both regions. How would the second hedgehog outing fare?

This time, the hedgehogs didn’t perform quite as well in Canada with a peak of only #263 late last night. It’s still a great chart position and something that, 18 months ago, I never dreamed I’d ever achieve but it’s significantly lower than the other four promos I’ve had (Making Wishes at Bay View was also in a BookBub last year and, although it didn’t get as high as the other three, it still made it into the Top 100). I don’t know why New Arrivals didn’t do as well as my other books and I could go into circles speculating so I’ll celebrate the Top 300 position instead and be very happy with that.

It was also a lower chart position in Australia than the previous four but the hedgehogs did still crack into the Top 100 with a peak of #67 late this morning in Australia meaning all five of my Aus BookBubs made it into the Top 100. Thank you Australia!

So a very valiant attempt by the hedgehogs and I’m very proud of their performance. But what is even better is ticking off yet another goal that wasn’t even a goal: two books in the UK Top 100 at the same time!

Finding Love at Hedgehog Hollow (book 1) is currently in Prime Reading and was already in the Top 100 but it was so lovely to see New Arrivals at Hedgehog Hollow (book 2) joining it. I managed to capture them at #58 and #77 respectively. They’ve both dropped a few places now although, at the time of writing this, they’re still both in the Top 100. They both remain on promotion in the UK at only 99p and will stay that way for a limited time, with Finding Love still being in Prime Reading for another couple of months. New Arrivals at Hedgehog Hollow will remain on offer in Canada and Australia for a short while too.

A huge thank you to everyone who has helped both Hedgehog Hollow books to get into the Top 100 at the same time. Yesterday, my amazing publisher Boldwood Books announced a new record for their authors with a whopping eight titles in the Top 100. New Arrivals joining them today made a new record of nine. Massive congratulations to Shari Low, Rosie Clarke, Gemma Rogers, Judy Leigh, Louise Douglas and Portia MacIntosh – writing across a variety of genres – for their Top 100 success. Go Team Boldwood!

And, to help the celebrations, it’s amazing to see six of my books with bestseller tags today in the UK, including the third book in the Hedgehog Hollow series – Family Secrets at Hedgehog Hollow – which is still only on pre-order but storming the charts. Thank you so much to everyone who has pre-ordered it.

Wishing you all the best for a great end to the week and a relaxing weekend.

Big hugs
Jessica xx

My name’s Jessica and I have imposter syndrome – Part 3

We’re now midway through a week of blog posts about imposter syndrome. Here’s the plan for the series:

  • Monday – The theory behind it – what it is and how it manifests itself
  • Tuesday – Where it comes from and how mine started
  • Wednesday – How it affects me as an author
  • Thursday – Coping strategies
  • Friday – Recognising it in others and helping them

You can go back to read Monday’s post here.

You can go back to read Tuesday’s post here.

I explained yesterday how my imposter syndrome developed through bullying at school and in the workplace as well as when I first experienced it in the presence of famous/successful authors. Today I want to talk more about how it has affected me recently.

Yesterday, I finished with these words:

This year, my amazing publishers, Boldwood Books, have done things for my career as an author that have been beyond my wildest dreams. But that damn imposter syndrome has been there throughout every success like a fly buzzing around my ear, stopping me from enjoying every amazing moment.

I want to explain what I mean by that but, first, I need to recap on a couple of quick bits of theory as I’m going to refer to these. On Monday, I said that imposter syndrome manifests in these ways:

  1. Fear of failure – desperation not to fail so pushing for continued or bigger success
  2. Feeling like a fake – feeling like a fraud and waiting for someone to acknowledge the success has been a mistake
  3. Downplaying success – making out any achievements were nothing/luck/fluke

Yesterday, I talked about the three types of imposter syndrome that I demonstrate:

  1. The perfectionist – believes their work can always be better and focuses on flaws
  2. The superhero – feels they must push themselves to work as hard as possible to overcome feelings of inadequacy
  3. The expert – always trying to learn more and may focus on what they don’t know/can’t do instead of what they do know/can do

So let’s pull all of this together and talk about how it has affected my writing career.

As an author, I constantly have a fear of failure but I would suggest that most authors have this and it’s not unique to having imposter syndrome. Failure or rejection comes with the territory. In the same way that someone applying for a job might not secure an interview or might progress to interview stage but not be offered the job, authors will likely receive several rejections from publishers and/or agents during their search to find a home for their manuscript. It happens to most authors and it’s widely documented that exceptionally successful authors like J K Rowling and Stephen King, for example, had many rejections before finding their publishing home.

On an aside, isn’t ‘rejection’ such a horrible word? In my recruitment roles in HR, I was always trained to use the term ‘regret’ instead of ‘reject’. Same outcome but kinder sentiment.

It’s scary out there!

Anyway, it’s scary applying for a job/submitting a manuscript and knowing you might get that rejection but it happens to us all and we do have to accept it and develop some resilience because nobody sails through life getting everything they want when they want it. The difference between a general fear of failure and the fear from someone with imposter syndrome is how that fear of failure manifests itself once you’re successful because, remember, imposter syndrome is something that is associated with those who are doing well; not those who are on the first rungs of the ladder.

As it happens, when I started out submitting my debut novel to agents and publishers, I actually didn’t struggle with rejection because imposter syndrome wasn’t at work here. I was an aspiring writer with no books out there and therefore no readership, no reviews, no track record, simply wondering whether there was a chance my MS was good enough to be published. When a ‘no’ came back, I had a moment of disappointment then looked to see who was next on my list. I never shed any tears.

A few years later when I was a published author and looking for a new publishing deal, imposter syndrome kicked in and I took rejection very hard. I had an 8-strong back catalogue, a readership (small), sales record (limited) and reviews (small in number but mainly very good). It was limited success but it was success because I knew those who discovered my books loved them. Rejection at this point floored me. I could barely write. I could barely sleep. I felt low all the time and frequently broke down in tears. It wasn’t pretty. I even toyed with giving up but the perfectionist and superhero in me actually became a positive here, pushing me to keep trying.

And then I got my Boldwood Books deal. Yay!

Thanks to the amazing work from my brilliant editor, Nia, and the wider team at Boldwood Books, I started to climb the author career ladder at the back end of last year with the release of The Secret to Happiness and I clambered much higher this year. My stories became visible for the first time ever and a large readership built. 

Some achievements have included the following (all of which are UK and Kindle unless otherwise stated):

  • #1 Best Seller tags on all of my books which remained for weeks/months instead of for an hour or two
  • #1 Best Seller tags showing on 9 out of 10 of my books at the same time
  • Top 10 in Canada and Top 20 in Australia for The Secret to Happiness
  • #14 with New Beginnings at Seaside Blooms
  • #8 in the free chart, #15 in the USA, and #20 in Canada with Christmas at Carly’s Cupcakes
  • #1 in the free Apple chart and #16 in the USA with Making Wishes at Bay View
  • #86 with Finding Love at Hedgehog Hollow and over 250 reviews within 2.5 months of release
  • Top 200 for the remaining books in the ‘Welcome to Whitsborough Bay’ series and Top 100 on Apple
  • Several very successful blog tours
  • Two books in The Works
  • Lots of tweets, Facebook messages and emails from readers saying how much they’ve loved reading my books
  • Contract addendums to sign-up my remaining indie books, resulting in a total 12-book contract with Boldwood
  • 140,000 copies sold through Boldwood
  • 3 Kindle bonuses for pages read on my indie books that haven’t yet been re-released through Boldwood

Last year, before my first Boldwood release, all of the above felt like a distant unachievable dream. I sold very few books, had very few pages read, loitered anywhere between 20,000-120,000 in the UK Kindle charts and made zero impact overseas.

So, looking down that list of achievements, I should be bouncing up and down doing a happy dance, right? I should be grinning from ear to ear. I should be buzzing. Even better, all of this has enabled me to leave the world of HR and become a full-time author which is absolutely my dream come true. Writing full-time was always my goal. It was never about sales or reviews or chart positions; it was always about this thing that I’m so passionate about, that is completely part of me, being my job instead of the ‘hobby’ I squeezed in on an evening and weekend around a demanding day job.

But the only buzzing was that imposter syndrome fly in my ear saying: You don’t belong here. They’re going to find you out. No point enjoying it because it won’t last. Yes, classic imposter syndrome feeling like a fake.

I can’t deny looking at the above list that I have achieved writing success. If any of my author friends told me they’d achieved any of those things, I’d be so thrilled and excited for them. So why couldn’t I be for me?

Image by Bellezza87 from Pixabay 

Do you know what I tend to do if anyone mentions how well my books have done? I downplay success.

I was lucky. It was good timing. Boldwood re-released my ‘Welcome to Whitsborough Bay’ series just before we went into lockdown

People wanted escapism and turned to books so I was in the right place at the right time

There happened to be a free promo planned on Apple for book 1 in March and Apple USA decided to do it too

Amazon put book 2 in a Prime deal in May which pretty much guarantees a Top 100 so it was thanks to them that I got a #14

Yes, I was definitely lucky. Right place. Right time. Nothing to do with talent

And, as I read that commentary back, I’m telling myself some truths:

  • Apple USA wanted the free book deal for Making Wishes at Bay View (book 1) because they were so impressed with how the promotion had gone in the UK. It wasn’t necessarily about volumes of free books but about the rest of the series selling on the back of it. Which it did. Very well
  • Amazon only put books in Prime that they see as being the best because they want to offer a quality product to their Prime readers
  • New Beginnings at Seaside Blooms (book 2) would not have stayed in the Kindle Top 100 for four months solid if it wasn’t getting good reviews and recommendations
  • Readers would not have gone on to buy the other books in the series, keeping them all in the Top 200 for spring/summer if they hadn’t enjoyed the first ones

My logical mind is screaming: REJOICE! 

But imposter syndrome is screaming: BEST NOT. IT’LL ALL FALL APART SOON LIKE IT ALWAYS DOES.

As well as the imposter syndrome traits rearing their ugly heads, there are also the types of imposter syndrome at play:

The perfectionist in me was not impressed, wanting to push for bigger success and always somehow finding and focusing on the flaws:

  • You got to #14 in the UK Kindle chart. Hmm. It’s not Top 10 is it?
  • Books 1, 3 and 4 didn’t make it into the Top 100. Tut tut
  • Look! You got some 1/2/3 star ratings. One of your 1-stars says, “Absolute pish. I didn’t know it was possible to publish something so bad”. Wow! Take it in! You’re not all that, are you?
  • 9 out of 10 books with #1 Best Seller tags? 10 would have been more impressive

Argh!!!! Make the voices of doubt stop! 

Image by Pete Linforth from Pixabay 

While I was an indie author, I dreamed of cracking the Top 1000 but, the second it happened, I wanted Top 500. Then Top 200, Top 100, Top 50… those goalposts kept moving further and further away and, instead of celebrating each amazing achievement, I’d give myself a kicking for not reaching the next goal.

This summer, I became obsessed with chart positions, barely able to concentrate on writing because I felt the need to refresh my screen hourly to see if there’d been any change, feeling instantly deflated if any of my books dropped down the chart. When a book looked like it was climbing that evening, I’d frequently wake up during the night to check its position. This nocturnal activity also became obsessive after discovering that my books seemed to climb a little higher in the early hours.

I needed screen shots of everything. Even though authors can access something called ‘Author Central’ on Amazon which produces a graph showing the highest position achieved for each book each day, I felt that if I didn’t have the screen shot from Amazon rather than the bar chart on Author Central capturing the actual moment it was at the highest position, it was like it never even happened. Yeah, I know, I hear how mad this all sounds!

This was worst with New Beginnings at Seaside Blooms because, once a book is in the Top 100 on Amazon, the whole of the Top 100 is depicted visually. Instead of just seeing a chart position among the details about page length, publisher, publication etc, you can click into the chart and see a picture of your book alongside the rest of the Top 100. And it’s pretty exciting when you’re brushing spines with super-famous authors or perhaps even higher than them for a moment.

Image by Csaba Nagy from Pixabay 

The superhero was desperate to do better. Okay, so New Beginnings at Seaside Blooms didn’t make it into the Top 10 but could brand new book Finding Love at Hedgehog Hollow achieve thatThe obsession began again when it was released in July. It peaked at #86 in mid-August and even though I kept telling myself that it got to this position without a Prime deal and without being on a BookBub promotion which was brilliant, I couldn’t help feeling disappointed. Fear of failure crept in. You peaked with writing the Welcome to Whitsborough Bay series. They were the first books you wrote and you obviously can’t do better than that. You’re not improving. You’re getting worse. Why did you take a chance on a new setting when you knew readers liked Whitsborough Bay? What a muppet! 

Yet, even though Finding Love at Hedgehog Hollow didn’t get quite as high as New Beginnings at Seaside Blooms, it has stuck around in the Top 200 for 2.5 months and it has nearly as many reviews as Seaside Blooms which originally came out under a different name five years ago. Which must mean readers love it.

Yes, but, will they love the sequel? Imposter syndrome took a grip again as I wrote book 2 in that series: New Arrivals at Hedgehog Hollow. I had started to accept that readers had warmed to the new setting. The chart positions, the blog tour feedback and the reviews were all pointing in that direction but fear of failure set in again. What if book 2 doesn’t sell as well? It’s not as emotional as book 1 and if readers loved the emotional punch, they’ll be disappointed with book 2. It’s written in a different way to the Welcome to Whitsborough Bay series because it’s the same main character instead of a different character with each book. What if that doesn’t work? What if they say the Hedgehog Hollow series is okay but not a patch on my first series?

The voices of self-doubt made it extremely hard to write that book. Procrastination took over and, now a full-time author, I wasted full days staring at my Mac, obsessively checking chart positions, drifting in and out of social media yet not paying much attention to any posts. And panicking. Lots of panicking.

My deadline loomed and I have never missed a deadline in my life – the perfectionist would absolutely not allow that – so I knuckled down and somehow finished it by working a lot of long hours. I was actually pretty pleased with it. It wasn’t a sequel for the sake of it. I did have a good story. But was it as good as the first book? Jury was out. When my edits came back, there was quite a lot of work to do. The feedback was that the story itself was great (phew!) but the emotion of the story – my trademark – wasn’t coming across strongly enough and there were several other adjustments to make. I agreed. Every point my fabulous editor made was extremely valid and would definitely improve the book. But imposter syndrome was there.

I’d already edited eight books with Boldwood and this one needed the most work. Instead of systematically working my way through it, the expert focused on what I didn’t know/couldn’t do – you don’t have the ability to write a sequel involving the same character – instead of focusing on what I could do – you’re brilliant at writing emotion and all your books are linked so writing a series in whatever format that takes is absolutely your thing. You’ve got this! And this stopped me in my tracks. I found anything to do but tackle the edits.

I’m pleased to say that, after a lot of procrastination and down days, I did knock it into shape. Or at least I hope I have! I have a phone call with my editor this afternoon and will find out for sure.

Image by Gerd Altmann from Pixabay 

In the meantime, I’m back to square one. I’m meant to be writing book 3 but the challenges of editing book 2 and the self-doubt from that are stopping me from writing it. The perfectionist wants each book to do better than the one before and fear of failure is there in case it doesn’t and I’ll be outed as a fake. The superhero has me working evenings and 7-days-a-week to try to succeed, even though I shouldn’t need to work these crazy hours now that I write full-time. The expert keeps reminding me what I don’t know/can’t do and I can’t stop downplaying successes as luck/right place at the right time and nothing to do with ability to write. Procrastination is still rife.

Do you know what I did on Monday? I was meant to be writing but I had 8 coloured mini bulldog clips on my desk. I carefully clipped them together. Then I unclipped them and clipped them together in a different pattern. Then another. I now have a rainbow of bulldog clips sitting in front of me and I’m shaking my head. What the….? And all because imposter syndrome has me in its tight grip and I’m finding all the excuses in the world not to tell the story. The crazy thing is I have a great story to tell. It’s not like I’m struggling with ideas or anything like that!

Image by Victoria Loveland from Pixabay 

Last year, I graduated from Open University with a Masters in Creative Writing. Even that was driven in part by imposter syndrome. There is absolutely no requirement whatsoever for an author to have a qualification in creative writing yet I felt I needed one to prove that I was an expert if I ever made it. I want to use my skills as a trainer and tutor creative writing in the future. Again, no requirement to have a MA in it but I convinced myself I wasn’t good enough if I didn’t because my writing career at the time (pre-Boldwood) wasn’t enough to give me any credibility so I needed something.

I took a superhero approach to studying, working super-long hours to do my MA, hold down my demanding full-time job and still write. I was a perfectionist with my assignments, gutted if I got less than a distinction. But I’m already a published writer and I’ve studied my craft for years. How can I only get a pass or a merit?

Yes, I hear it, I see it, I know it all sounds bonkers but this has been my day to day existence, constantly berating myself for not doing better, pushing myself to do better all the time, worrying it will all end soon, rendering me unable to enjoy all the positives. Of course, there is a little thing called Covid loitering in the background which I think is exacerbating all these feelings because, let’s face it, I am soooo sick of these four walls! Aren’t we all?

I’ve realised this can’t continue and, although it will be a long journey, I have already taken some steps to stop imposter syndrome controlling my life and that’s what I’m going to talk about tomorrow. I’ll share some more examples of my erratic behaviour/thoughts to help illustrate the changes I am making or trying to make.

If you’re recognising the traits or types in yourself, hopefully tomorrow’s post will help you in some way. I know that writing it down has already helped me massively. That and a big hug from the hubby who has just been reading yesterday’s post. I love a hug, I do. So here’s one for you…

Big hugs

Jessica xx

The one where Seaside Blooms has done blooming well

This week, New Beginnings at Seaside Blooms – the second book in my ‘Welcome to Whitsborough Bay’ series has dropped out of the UK’s Kindle Top 100 after nearly four months. Oh. My. God! FOUR MONTHS!!!

This is the first book I ever wrote and was my debut release in June 2015 under the title Searching for Steven. It shifted about 2,000 copies through my original publisher then as an indie author after they ceased trading. It wasn’t setting the world alight but I was fairly pleased. After all, when I wrote it, I had no plans to become a published author; I simply had an idea for a book and wondered if I could write one.

When Boldwood Books took on my back catalogue and we did a fresh edit on Searching for Steven and re-released it as New Beginnings at Seaside Blooms, never did I imagine that I’d be able to add another zero to that sales figure or experience four months in the Top 100, peaking at #14.

I have to be honest and say that it did dip out of the Top 100 once during that four months when, on 20th August, it was only as high as #101. But that’s pretty close isn’t it? I’m allowing that.

I’m thrilled to have gathered 234 reviews/ratings on Amazon, 92% if which are positive. Of course, you can’t please all the people all of the time and I have a few scathing negative reviews including this accolade:

Ouch!

And this 1-star review from someone who definitely didn’t like the main character:

Also ouch!

But so many people have loved this book and gone on to read – and love – the rest of the series. And I’m so very grateful to those who have shared their love in a positive review.

If you haven’t read it yet, you can download it here for Kindle. It’s available on Kobo, AppleBooks and in paperback and audio formats. You can borrow the audio version from your library if they have the uLibrary App or you can listen to it on Spotify. And, if you’re in Australia, it’s on a special offer on Kindle until the end of September as part of Kindle’s Monthly Deal.

I’m so proud of this book. It was a wallflower in the shadows for a long time but found its sunflower moment under Boldwood and took that moment to shine. Sometimes reader love can bloom when you least expect it!

To anyone struggling to make an impact – whether that is in writing or any other aspect of your life – hang in there because your moment to shine could be just around the corner.

Big hugs

Jessica xx

From those who loved it…

The one where Christmas at Carly’s Cupcakes is published

Carly's Cupcakes Tagline 2 Twitter

Today is the publication day for a brand new version of Christmas at Carly’s Cupcakes through my amazing publishers, Boldwood Books. This story was originally a short novel at 46k words and an indie release from me in October 2017. The title hasn’t changed but it has a new cover and some fresh content.

What has changed?

Length: The story is longer by about 12k words

Perspective: It is now a 1st person perspective story instead of 3rd person like the original version

Story: The overall story is the same but I have added in more detail around Carly’s backstory with her best friend, Liam. There’s also more about Carly’s sister, Bethany, which explains why Carly keeps giving her chances despite her being a liability to the business. As a result there are lots of new scenes for the reader to enjoy

I love this book. It still touches on some emotional issues like all my stories but, being set purely in December, it is a little lighter and more romantic.

Carly's Cupcakes Tagline Twitter

Is Christmas at Carly’s Cupcakes part of a series?

STARRY SKIES HI RESIt’s the start of two books which follow-on from each other and have an overlap of characters.

I would strongly encourage readers to read Christmas at Carly’s Cupcakes before Starry Skies Over The Chocolate Pot Café which is currently available for pre-order here. This sequel was previously released under the title of Christmas at The Chocolate Pot Café but it has been freshly edited too and is significantly longer.

The owner of The Chocolate Pot, Tara, is good friends with Carly and their businesses are next door to each other on Whitsborough Bay’s Castle Street. Tara features throughout Christmas at Carly’s Cupcakes and reveals something about her past to Carly that readers find out a lot more about in Starry Skies Over The Chocolate Pot Café. They’re also able to discover what happens next to Carly in Starry Skies which starts the same Christmas of Christmas at Carly’s Cupcakes but takes place across a full year, front and back-ended by the festive season.

Carly's Cupcakes Review FB

Should I download it if I’ve already read the original? 

Yes please! It’s FREE so why not treat yourself to the refreshed version? Even if you’re not likely to read it again, I’d still encourage you to download it … just in case. I’m hoping to get near the top of the Free Kindle Chart too.

Screenshot 2020-08-13 at 16.36.36

Screenshot 2020-08-13 at 16.39.17At the time of writing this, it had already made it to #313 but, just before posting, Amazon’s chart positions updated and it’s shot up to #73! I hope it will go even higher which should then increase awareness of me as an author among new readers who may then discover my other books. So you’d be helping me a lot if you download this. Thank you so much.

It’s also grabbed several number one slots in the free chart, 3 of which are listed above, although free books don’t get the coveted orange bestseller flags.

 

With New Beginnings at Seaside Blooms at #66 in the overall Kindle chart at the time of writing and a #96 position for Finding Love at Hedgehog Hollow, I’m thrilled to be able to declare something I never thought would ever happen:

I HAVE THREE BOOKS IN THE TOP 100 KINDLE CHART AT THE SAME TIME!!!!

WOO HOO!!!!!!

Thank you to everyone who has made this possible and an enormous thank you to my brilliant editor, Nia Beynon, for her ever-insightful feedback to shape my work to be even better, and to Ellie Foot at Boldwood Books for the gorgeous graphics.

Where can I find out more?

If you’d like to know more about Christmas at Carly’s Cupcakes, I’ve pasted the blurb below and you can read a post on Boldwood Books’s blog about what to expect from the book here.

Hope you enjoy your Christmassy trip to Castle Street. I loved writing this book and hope you love reading it just as much. You can access it for FREE on Kindle here. It is going to be available for free to Kobo and AppleBooks readers too but offering a book for free from publication day rather than as an offer down the line is a little more complicated so it hasn’t materialised on all platforms on the same day.

Big hugs

Jessica xx

It’s the most wonderful time of the year…


It’s December on Castle Street; the fairy lights are twinkling, snow has settled and the festive season is in full swing.

For Carly, the owner of Carly’s Cupcakes, it’s the busiest time of year getting everyone’s Christmas treats ready on time. However with her clumsy sister, Bethany, as a co-worker, it’s proving a difficult task. They say you shouldn’t mix work with family. Maybe they have a point…

As Christmas approaches, Carly is also eagerly awaiting the return of her best friend to Whitborough Bay. Liam has no idea he’s been the object of her affection since their schooldays. After years of pining after him, can Carly pluck up the courage to finally tell him how she really feels by 25th December?

Could a little festive magic make all of Carly’s wishes come true this Christmas…?

A heartwarming, short festive story of friendship and family from bestseller Jessica Redland. You can find out what happens to Carly next through exploring her best friend Tara’s story in Starry Skies Over The Chocolate Pot Café.

This is a new and updated version of Christmas at Carly’s Cupcakes which has been previously published.

What readers are saying about Christmas at Carly’s Cupcakes:

’Pure Christmas magic! Mix in some fairy lights, snow and sweets and you have a perfect holiday tale.’

’It is a feel-good story that lets you escape into a beautiful setting.’

’My first Christmas book of this year and it will be hard to beat.’

’This well-crafted story was a quick and engaging read that captivated, entertained, and squeezed the heart.’

’This was the right story at the right moment: uplifting, heartwarming and engrossing.’

’I can’t begin to tell you how much I love Jessica’s books’

’Jessica Redland can’t put a word wrong, her books are a real pleasure to read, so well written and you feel as though you are part of the story.’

’Another absolutely fantastic read by a truly fantastic author.’

Screenshot 2020-08-13 at 16.26.43

The one where I remember the Top 40 singles chart

record-player-1851576_1920
Image by Pexels from Pixabay

When I was young, Sunday was ‘visiting day’; the day where we had our Sunday lunch then bundled into the car and visited my mum and/or dad’s family who lived about 35 miles away. It wasn’t every week but it was regular.

IMG_6892We’d stay for tea at my grandma and granda’s house or occasionally dine with or visit other relatives. Tea was always afternoon tea-style food with sandwiches and scones and cakes. Lovely. Ooh, I could just fancy a bit of cake right now. Nom nom.

On the way home in the car, we’d catch part of the UK Top 40 Singles Chart on BBC Radio 1. We’re talking the late 1970s and most of the 1980s here and this was way before the days of digital downloads. In fact, most of that time was before CDs, with the charts compiled purely on the sale of vinyl records. Showing my age here!

In those days, singles would typically enter the charts and gradually climb up week on week, sometimes only one or two chart positions at a time. It would be exciting listening out for whether our favourite records would have gone up that week and, if so, how far and it would be so disappointing if they’d dropped, especially as that would typically mean the song wasn’t played.

What was even more exciting was predicting who’d be in the Top 3. One of the DJs – can’t remember which one now – used to get listeners to phone in with their predictions.

robin-hood-4542423_1920
Image by Martin Ludlam from Pixabay

Many amazing records didn’t make it to number 1 but still sold in significant quantities and the ones that did make it to that coveted position often stuck around at the top slot for weeks. Anyone remember Bryan Adams being at number 1 for eight years with ‘(Everything I do) I do it for you’? from the film Robin Hood: Prince of Thieves? Okay, so it was 16 consecutive weeks really but it felt like eight years although I never fell out of love with that song despite it being played constantly. This was 1991 and Bryan Adams still holds the record (literally) these days for having the longest number of consecutive weeks at number 1 in the UK.

You might be wondering where I’m going with this on a blog predominantly about writing and I promise there’s a link!

Over the past month or so, the four books in my Welcome to Whitsborough Bay series have been steadily climbing up the Kindle charts and, over Easter, I blogged about how excited I was that they’d all received a best seller tag for at least one of their categories and that they’d all broken into the Top 1000 with Book 2, New Beginnings at Seaside Blooms, storming ahead at #352 on the morning of 10th April. You can read that blog post here.

Screenshot 2020-04-09 at 22.46.10

Breaking the Top 1000 was so exciting for me. All the books had previously been released under different titles across 2015-2016 and, after my publisher ceased trading, I re-released them as an indie author. They had never got anywhere near this type of chart position so this was an absolute dream come true. But it kept getting better. By late April, they’d all cracked the Top 500 and, a week into May, they’d all cracked the Top 400 with the trailblazer, Seaside Blooms, making it into the Top 100 at #91 on 5th May. Wow!

Screenshot 2020-05-05 at 23.14.38It didn’t end there and this is where the chart connection comes in. Once a book makes it into the Top 100 on Amazon in any chart – including category charts – then you can see all the books in that Top 100 displayed beautifully in a chart showing the covers rather than just a number at the bottom of the book details.

It’s a lovely visual representation of how your book is performing and which authors have the books out either side of yours.

Screenshot 2020-05-10 at 20.08.24New Beginnings at Seaside Blooms made it to #51 in the overall Kindle chart a couple of days later on 7th May and suddenly a new milestone of Top 50 seemed realistic. The next day, it got to #42. Was the Top 40 possible? Yes, the following day, it reached #32. But that meant another potential milestone of Top 30. Could it? Would it? The day after – Sunday 10th May, it did. And, not only that, it also reached the Top 25 on the same day. Eek!!!!!

I will admit that, by this point, chart-position-watching had become a bit of an obsession. I think all ‘firsts’ are for writers. I remember staying up until midnight on the day of my first release to watch it arrive on my Kindle. I don’t do that now.

The charts are meant to get refreshed hourly but my experience is they don’t seem to – more like bi-hourly or even every three hours. I couldn’t sleep at night, waking up every couple of hours, wondering if I’d have made it even higher. I am still shattered from several days of doing this. I have, thankfully, got it out of my system now. I wasn’t setting an alarm or anything like that – I’m not that desperate – but it was like my body clock would go, “Right, you, a couple of hours have passed so it’s time to get up and check the charts”. So up I got and padded into my office across the landing to see where I was.

In the very early hours of the Monday morning, I hit #20. Top 20!!! Yay!!!!

But, of course, I wanted more. That’s the problem with achieving a goal; you instantly make a new one! Could I actually get inside the Top 20 into the teens?

It didn’t look like it. On Monday 11th May, Seaside Blooms began to drop to the mid-twenties. Boo. But 20 was absolutely amazing and when it first dipped inside the Top 1000, I’d never have dreamed of reaching that sort of number.

Like the UK singles chart where records go up and down, Seaside Blooms did the same. A good friend of mine tagged me on Facebook on Wednesday 13th May with a screenshot to show #19. I’d done it! I’d made it inside the Top 20 and figured that surely it would end there, especially when it began dropping again.

Up and down, up and down, it gradually moved towards the Top 10 with the highest position to date – #14 – being secured on Sunday 17th May. At some point over the past few weeks, it has held every single position from 14 to 30!

My mum and husband were convinced I’d make it into the Top 10 still but, with a few days having now passed since hitting #14, I think Seaside Blooms has definitely peaked. Although I thought that at #20 and, a few days later, it hit #19 so you never know.

Meanwhile the other three books are all doing me proud:

  • Making Wishes at Bay View (Book 1 in the series) is currently at a personal best of #157. Top 150 next?
  • Finding Hope at Lighthouse Cove (Book 3) has a PB of #182 from Monday but has mainly hovered around #200 since then. I’m hoping it will follow Book 1 and 2 nearer the top of the charts as readers steadily work through the series
  • Coming Home to Seashell Cottage (Book 4) achieved a PB of #214 earlier today so I’m hoping it will break the Top 200 soon. It would be so amazing to have the entire series in the Top 200 together. Even better if they were in the Top 100 together! I achieved that on AppleBooks UK back in March with all of them being in the Top 75 at the same time which was another really thrilling moment.

I am absolutely delighted and so very grateful to my amazing publishers, Boldwood Books, for giving me this opportunity and to all the readers who have helped the series rise. I will admit, though, that it doesn’t feel real. When I was at #14, it didn’t feel possible that only 13 books in the UK out of the millions of eBooks on Amazon were higher in the charts than mine. As I’m typing this, it feels like something that must be happening to someone else; not to me.

Without wishing to sound pessimistic, I don’t think this is something that will happen to me again unless one of my books is on something like a BookBub promotion. I think a combination of factors have all come together at the same time to lead to the current positions enjoyed by Seaside Blooms:

  • Lockdown Time – people have the time to read a lot more and sales of eBooks have rocketed
  • Lockdown Comfort – readers want escapism and they want books that will uplift and hug them, which is what I write
  • Whole Series – because these are re-issues, the whole series are out at the same time, creating an appetite for binge-reading and more so during lockdown
  • Prime Deal – Seaside Blooms is currently on a Prime deal so lots of Prime members are downloading it too

Screenshot 2020-05-05 at 19.34.50

I don’t have another whole series in my back catalogue to re-issue and I hope we are never, ever in a scenario of lockdown ever, ever again so the above set of circumstances won’t happen again. Or at least I hope the lockdown scenario doesn’t happen again.

Going forwards, I will never forget the moment I broke every goal I dreamed of and those I hadn’t even dared to imagine.

I’ll never forget that unreal moment at 4am, lying back down in bed thinking, ‘I’m at number 14 in the charts!’ and having to fight the urge to wake up hubby to tell him.

I’ll never forget watching my books steadily moving up the charts, just like when I listened to my favourite songs moving up the charts on ‘visiting day’ as a child.

And I’ll never forget those who I’ve been unable to visit for many years. RIP, Granda Wiseman, Grandma and Granda Williams, Uncle Stan, Uncle George and Auntie Olive. Sending love and I hope I’ve done you proud.

Jessica xx