The one where I’ve joined Book Aid for Ukraine

Book Aid for Ukraine is an online auction which has been set up to raise funds for British-Ukrainian Aid who support “people suffering from the war and humanitarian crisis in Ukraine by aligning UK and Ukrainian efforts [by providing] assistance to vulnerable individuals who have been physically, mentally or socially disadvantaged, including the injured and wounded, orphaned children, the elderly, internal displaced persons, refugees and families who have lost their main earners” (quote from their website found here).

Authors, publishers, agents and various others involved in the publishing industry have donated a variety of lots from signed books and bundles to advice and mentoring packages. There are a whopping 347 lots available to bid on and there’s something to suit all tastes.

You can read more about the auction here which, at the time of writing this, has already raised over £37,000 in bids and donations (as you can pledge on the site without bidding on a lot). In addition to this, publisher Pan Macmillan will match the highest bids so this figure will significantly rise.

Bidding has already started and the auction ends on 20th March at midnight GMT. There’s a countdown running online.

I’ve donated 2 lots.

LOT 1 – Books

The first is a UK-only one of signed paperback copies of each of the 4 books in my ‘Welcome to Whitsborough Bay’ series. I can also dedicate these. This lot can be found directly here. The books in the series are: Making Wishes at Bay View, New Beginnings at Seaside Blooms, Finding Hope at Lighthouse Cove and Coming Home to Seashell Cottage.

LOT 2 – Zoom Call

I am also offering a Zoom chat for contemporary romance/romcom author or aspiring author: I’m offering a 1-hour Zoom chat to anyone who is writing or is interested in writing a contemporary romance/romantic comedy novel or series. My particular areas of speciality include characterisation, building a setting (particularly a coastal or country one) and writing a series although I’m happy to discuss other aspects of writing.

This lot is available internationally and can be found directly here.

Several author friends have donated lots and I hope the auction helps raise some valuable support. Please do take a look and spread the word to friends and family. Thank you.

Big hugs
Jessica xx

Reflections on April

It’s the last day of the month and time to reflect on what’s happened in April…

I’ve had another month of not reading much as I’ve been deep in my editing cave (more on that later) but I have read an early copy of the first book in a new series from Nicola May. Nicola has had some phenomenal success, topping the Kindle chart for what seemed forever a couple of years back – an impressive feat anyway but extra impressive for an indie author. Her paperbacks now have a publishing deal and I was asked if I’d read Welcome to Ferry Lane Market. I thoroughly enjoyed it and it will be out in the summer so watch out for that. It’s available for pre-order on Amazon here.

I’ve also just started beta reading the final book in the four-strong Kearton Bay series, The Whole of the Moon, by super talented author (and bestie) Sharon Booth. It’s out at the end of May and it’s so fabulous to be back among old friends. You can pre-order it on Amazon here although I’d definitely recommend the full series. And all the rest of Sharon’s books for that matter!

The fabulous Line of Duty continues to grip hubby and me on a Sunday evening although last week’s episode was a little confusing as it felt like there was a plot hole. Hopefully it will all become clear in Sunday’s final episode. Will we discover who ‘H’ is? I would so love to think so but I’m pretty sure I’ve read that there’s another series to come so I suspect we might not.

I love watching The Hit List with the lovely Marvin and Rochelle Humes on a Saturday teatime. It’s a fun format so, even if you’re not into music, it’s worth watching. I love Rochelle’s facial reactions and how she clings onto Marvin in the final round when the contestants panic, their minds go blank, and the money starts slipping away from them.

Speaking of fun formats, I have a new viewing pleasure for a Saturday evening: I Can See Your Voice on BBC hosted by Paddy McGuinness with a celeb panel helping a pair of contestants deduce who from a line-up of six can sing and who can’t. Over a few rounds, they gradually eliminate 1-2 ‘singers’ and at that point we discover whether their sleuthing was accurate and they’ve eliminated someone who’s tone-deaf. When they get down to the final ‘singer’, the contestants win £10k if that person can sing but the ‘singer’ wins £10k if they are tone-deaf and have fooled everyone. I’d seen trailers and dismissed it as something I wouldn’t be interested in but then caught a clip on Gogglebox which looked great fun. We laughed so much on Saturday night when the final singer turned out to be completely off-key and the singer on the celeb panel – Ronan Keating that night – had to duet with her. If you haven’t already checked it out, I highly recommend it. Great family fun!

Finally, we managed a film this month but I’m still undecided about it. I saw it trailered a lot when it came out in 2018 and it had me intrigued, especially as it’s based on a true story: Welcome to Marwen. It stars Steve Carrell as aspiring artist Mark Hogancamp who was horrifically assaulted by a group of 5 men and left for dead. Brain damaged from the attack, he has no memory of his previous life and can no longer draw so he turns to photography, constructing a miniature WWII village called Marwen and creating stories using Barbie-like dolls. A lot of the film is played out by the dolls whose experiences, albeit in the WWII backdrop, mirror what Hogancamp is going through. Why did I struggle? Probably because so much of it was with the dolls. I wanted to know more about Hogancamp himself and what happened to his attackers when the case went to court but there seemed to be gaps. I’m probably missing the point and I’m sure others would feel that everything that needed to be told was told by the dolls but it just didn’t quite work for me personally.

It has been a crazy-busy month with writing. The edits came through for the final book in my backlist to be re-released: Charlee and the Chocolate Shop. I haven’t read this since it went up for publication in 2017 but it has had great reviews. My editor commented on how much my writing style has changed over the years and I was surprised at that as this was the 6th book I’d written and I thought my style had changed much earlier. When I re-read it, I had a bit of a shock! I’ll write a separate post with more detail about this but I wasn’t happy with the book. The story was still great but the way I told it needed work so it took me about six times as long to edit as it would have done if I’d just made the editorial tweaks here and there. I feel much happier with it so it was time well spent.

I also finished writing book 13 and it has been a huge struggle. Again, I’ll cover this in more detail in a future blog post but I knew something wasn’t quite right with it and had my suspicions as to what that might be. When the edits came back a week ago, those suspicions were confirmed. I had effectively tried to cover two stories in one book and, as a result, hadn’t given enough attention to either. The exciting news is this means a sequel which is already partially written but the challenging part for me is stripping one plot line out and stitching the story back together. Lots of hard work and re-thinking but it will be worth it in the end. My editor, Nia, is phenomenal. She is so insightful about what needs work but also so supportive and encouraging.

I’ve had some exciting events to celebrate in April:

AUSTRALIAN GOLD BOX – Seven of my books were in a special gold box deal on Amazon Australia where they are offered for the equivalent of 99p (or thereabouts) for a 24-hour period only. All but one of the books reached the Top 100 with one of them – The Secret to Happiness – peaking at #10 which was amazing. The only book that didn’t make it into the Top 100 wasn’t far outside and it was Christmas at Carly’s Cupcakes. Given the time of year, I wasn’t at all surprised it wasn’t storming the charts!

ALL YOU NEED IS LOVE – There was a BookBub promotion in the UK, Australia and Canada which saw Top 100 in Canada and Top 50 for Australia although it peaked at #127 in the UK. As this book had previously been out as Bear With Me, I wasn’t sure if it would climb so high so I was really pleased with these positions.

We think that the timing of Easter Sunday for this promotion and the Gold Box one may have had an effect on sales as I know of lots of people who were off social media and making it family time so, instead of seeing that as a negative, I prefer to think of it as even more impressive how high the books got considering it was Easter Sunday and there were so many other distractions.

SIGNED PAPERBACKS – I started selling signed copies of my paperback and had a really positive response with quite a few readers wanting the entire back catalogue which was lovely. I still have loads of paperbacks as I haven’t pushed it since so do DM me on any social media format if you’re interested.

REVIEWS MILESTONES – Making Wishes at Bay View and The Secret to Happiness both passed 1,000 reviews this month, meaning six of my books have now done so. The love for the hedgehogs is strong with both Finding Love at Hedgehog Hollow and New Arrivals at Hedgehog Hollow passing 1,500 and Christmas at Carly’s Cupcakes passing a whopping 2,000 milestone! Can’t believe how many reviews/ratings my stories have been gathering. Thank you so much to everyone who has shared the book love. It means the world to me xx

Restrictions have lifted and we met up with my parents at Thorp Perrow arboretum at the start of this month for a lovely (but very cold) wander around. I hadn’t seen them since October half term so it was brilliant to catch up in person although weird not hugging. Don’t like that 😦

Piano lessons have resumed face to face but I’m going to return to Zoom lessons from next week. I struggle for time to practice around writing and, to allow for traffic and roadworks getting across town to my lesson, I end up losing about 45-50 mins travelling. My daughter’s learning piano and she does this in a group lesson (although there are only 2 in her group). I think it’s important she has the face-to-face interaction but I don’t need it. I can already play (badly) and am rekindling the skill after a 30-year gap without touching the piano. I’m also playing for fun rather than exams so it’s a different set-up. My travel time can be devoted to practice instead and, as my piano teacher has to be at the opposite end of the room to me due to distancing, there is no benefit in us being in the same room.

On the way back from my first face-to-face lesson, I passed a local garden centre called Dean’s Garden Centre and decided to nip in to see if I could get some artificial spring flowers for my Insta posts. I managed that but was also surprised and delighted to spot Making Wishes at Bay View in there alongside some other Boldwood authors! When The Works stock our books, the print-run includes a number that are sold to another book distributor who sends them mainly to the USA and Canada. However, they can also be distributed around the UK and will appear in retailers with small selections of books such as post offices, garden centres, local supermarkets and so on. I feel I may also need to check out our other local garden centre soon in case there are any in there!

Other than that, I haven’t ventured out at all. I started to paint the fence a couple of weekends ago and managed 5 out of the 11 panels but I’ve been in my editing cave since then so it will be end mid-May before I manage the rest. Quite pleased with the result so far, though. Ella wasn’t impressed. She spent the time trying to eat a plant pot instead!

I have a busy May coming up. It’s my birthday tomorrow and publication day of Family Secrets at Hedgehog Hollow on Tuesday which is exciting (but nerve-wracking as it’s always scary awaiting the verdict!) I’m also getting my hair cut for the first time since December 2019 on Tuesday. Yay!

I have until the middle of May to finish the huge edit on book 13 and then I’m back to Hedgehog Hollow to write book 4 in the series; my 14th book in total.

Hope April has treated you well and, if it hasn’t, that May is kind to you.

Big hugs
Jessica xx

The one where Finding Love at Hedgehog Hollow is published

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My tenth novel, Finding Love at Hedgehog Hollow, was published yesterday – Thursday 2nd July – and what a busy day it turned out to be. So busy that I didn’t even get a chance to write a blog post!

The first thing I did when I woke up was log onto Amazon to see my chart position and was thrilled to be #1,891 on the Kindle chart. I hoped to make it inside the Top 1,000 but was both surprised and delighted when I moved up to #557 just after lunch, #324 by mid-afternoon, #295 by teatime and #291 by bedtime. Wow!

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I secured two category best seller flags and even pushed my own book off the top spot in one of them!

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There was lovely news over on AppleBooks too with a #10 in the Romance chart and #27 in the overall chart.

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And then fabulous news later that day with Kobo selecting Finding Love at Hedgehog Hollow as one of their books of the month.

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And it wasn’t just about chart positions. A blog tour kicked off with three of the most gorgeous five-star reviews (you can click on the blog name if you want to read the full review):

Being Anne said: “The characterisation is exceptional … This whole book entirely enchanted me from beginning to end – I lived every twist and turn of the story, and felt a real sense of loss when I reached the end”

Portobello Book Blog said: “It’s a delightful story of friendship, kindness and love and of being true to yourself. It’s a wonderfully heart-warming story which I recommend if you are looking for a really feel-good read”

Books and Bookends said: “This book just hit me hard in the feelings. There’s some really toxic family dynamics and equally some amazing relationships in this story…. It’s well and truly a feel good story with a gorgeous Yorkshire setting and amazing characters”

Thank you so much to all three of you for such wonderful, heartwarming reviews.

Finding Love at Hedgehog Hollow Full Tour Banner

Over on my publisher Boldwood’s blog, I talked about my Auntie Gwen who is a real-life ‘hedgehog lady’. She’s rescued sick, injured and abandoned hedgehogs for forty years and is such an inspiration. You can read the post here.

The day before, I was guest on good friend and super talented author Sharon Booth’s blog talking about the change of setting in this book and why hedgehogs. You can read that post here. Thank you, Sharon, for being a fabulous host.

Boldwood Books hosted a ‘Summer Moment’ on Zoom for all their authors. They’d have organised a summer party under normal circumstances but this was the next best thing and they sent us a bottle of fizz so we could raise a toast. It was lovely to see the faces – albeit it spread across four different screens – and hear the voices of a writing community with whom I’ve engaged with through social media but, in the main, not met or spoken to.

I needed to dip out of that early as I was hosting my first ever Facebook Live on Book and Tonic’s Facebook page. I had so much fun doing that, answering questions submitted beforehand or posed on the evening, and reading Chapter 1 from Finding Love at Hedgehog Hollow. I had an awkward moment at the start where I wasn’t sure there was anyone there and, when I knew there was, whether they could hear me so, if you do listen, you might want to skip past the first minute. It does get better after that, I promise! You can connect to the recording here.

Thank you to everyone who made publication day so special and to all those who pre-ordered or have since bought a copy of Finding Love at Hedgehog Hollow. It’s available on eBook for AppleBooks, Kindle and Kobo, audio, large print and paperback so something to suit everyone. Here’s the Amazon link if you fancy meeting the hedgehogs.

Wishing you all the best for a great weekend.

Big hugs

Jessica xx

Can love really be found when you stop looking for it…?

As Samantha Wishaw watches the love of her life marry another woman, she’s ready to give up hope of finding her happy ever after.

But when a chance encounter leads Sam to find friendship in Thomas – a lonely, grumpy elderly widower living at derelict Hedgehog Hollow – her life is about to change forever.

Glad to have a distraction from family feuds and match-making, Sam vows to fulfil Thomas and his wife, Gwendoline’s, dreams of restoring Hedgehog Hollow to its former glory, and to open a hedgehog rescue centre.

Throwing herself into the task at hand, little does Sam realise that the keys to love and happiness may also be found at Hedgehog Hollow, when she least expects it…

Escape to Hedgehog Hollow this summer with top 10 bestseller Jessica Redland for the perfect uplifting, feel-good read.

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