The one where Making Wishes at Bay View has been nominated for the Not The Booker Prize and needs your votes

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I’ve been nominated for the Not The Booker Prize. Eek!!!!!!

What is it?

You’ve probably heard of The Booker Prize but were you aware of the existence of the Not The Booker Prize?

It was launched by The Guardian in 2009 so this year is its twelfth year. Whereas The Booker Prize is judged by a panel of experts, the Not The Booker Prize invites public participation and the aim is therefore to have a wider commercial appeal.

The longlist is derived purely from public nominations. Launched on 20th July, the public had until 1st August to nominate a book which met certain eligibility criteria (e.g. had to be written in English and published between certain dates). You can read about this stage here.

Making Wishes at Bay ViewWhich book was nominated?

Yesterday, the longlist was announced (you can read the article here) and I am thrilled to say that one of my books was included. An enormous thank you to the person or persons who nominated Making Wishes at Bay View.

There are a whopping 211 books on the longlist representing a vast array of genres and publishers and there are some HUGE names on there such as David Mitchell, Phillip Pullman, Dorothy Koomson, Marian Keyes and Hilary Mantel. Wow! Just to be in company like that is thrilling … and super-duper overwhelming!

What happens next?

The next stage is to whittle down the longlist to a much more manageable shortlist of three. Yes, three out of 211! The public are needed again here as they’ll be the ones to help whittle it down.

And this is where I need you…

Have you read and loved Making Wishes at Bay View? Would you be willing to write at least 100 words on why you loved it?

Voting is via the comments section on the longlist article so your starting point is to access the article here and scroll down to the bottom of the page where it says ‘comments’ (see bottom left of screen shot). This is below the longlist itself, below the bit about subscribing, and below all the adverts. You do need to register but there’s no cost.

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Some rules:

  1. You can only vote once but you need to vote for two books. These MUST be by 2 x different publishers but I’m the only Boldwood Books author on the list so this won’t be an issue
  2. You need to put the word ‘vote’ in your comments box
  3. You need to name the book, author, publisher for each book
  4. You need to write 100 words + for at least one of the books you’ve chosen, showing your passion and love for this book/why you care about it. This means you do not have to write reviews for both the books

So, in your comments box, it would look something like this:

Vote 1: Making Wishes at Bay View by Jessica Redland (Boldwood Books)

Reasons: [insert 100+ words e.g. brief outline of story (use the blurb for help – pasted at the bottom of this blog post) but the main focus would be what you loved about it which could draw on the style of writing, the plot, the setting, the main characters and their relationships, the secondary characters, sensitivity of how difficult subjects are handled, humour v emotions, how it made you feel and so on]

Vote 2: [Name of book] by [Author] [Publisher]

Reasons: These do not have to be provided for the 2nd vote but can be

Please do follow these rules carefully as a scroll through the comments boxes so far reveals so many that are not going to count because they have only given one vote and/or there’s not a proper review of at least 100 words. It would be such a shame to go to the effort then have the vote disqualified for not meeting the criteria.

Not The Booker Prize Jessica Redland

What’s the deadline?

Voting is already coming in thick and fast. At the time of writing this on the morning after the shortlist was released, there are already 201 comments (although not 201 votes as there are some comments among them and some double-comments where the voter has forgotten to add in their second vote – oops).

The deadline is end of the day on 16th August 2020 with the shortlist announced the following day. Why not act now while it’s in your mind?

Why do I need you?

The romance genre is often over-looked and dismissed as ‘fluff’ yet is one of the most widely read genres, more so recently when escapism from the worldwide pandemic is needed by so many. Ironically, very few books I’ve read don’t contain romances – romantic relationships are, after all, a huge part of our lives – but they simply aren’t packaged as romances. It would be amazing for our genre to have a book that has provided pure escapism during such a challenging time to be represented in the shortlist. Of course, I would be personally thrilled but I feel there’s a bigger picture here.

And, of course, looking at those HUGE names on the list, I’m a tadpole in an enormous lake so any support would be so very much appreciated. So far, a quick scan has suggested I don’t have any votes… yet. But I’m hoping that will change! Or I might cry. A lot!

Thank you in advance. I can’t tell you how much I appreciate this. If you haven’t already read Making Wishes at Bay View, it’s available on eBook on AppleBooks, Kindle and Kobo and there’s time to squeeze it in. The blurb is below.

Big hugs

Jessica xx

Bay View Review Twitter 8

Never give up on a wish for a happy ever after…

Callie Derbyshire has it all: her dream job as a carer at Bay View, finally she has found the love of her life. Everything is perfect.

Well, almost.

Ex-partners are insistent on stirring up trouble, and Callie’s favourite resident, Ruby, hasn’t been her usual self.

But after discovering the truth about Ruby’s lost love, Callie is determined to give Ruby’s romantic story the happy ending it deserves. After all, it’s never too late to let love in again. Or is it?

A heartwarming and uplifting novel of finding love and friendship in the least expected places from top 10 bestselling author, Jessica Redland.

This book was previously published as two novellas – Raving About Rhys and Callie’s Christmas Wish.

What readers are saying about Making Wishes at Bay View:

‘I really enjoyed this book and the characters and most of all I am happy that it will be a series’

‘This book did not disappoint in the slightest’

‘It is written really beautifully’

‘Absolutely adored the charming storyline’

‘This book exceeded my expectations’

‘From start to finish, I was hooked’

‘It is totally heart-warming’

‘What a sweet, charming, and enjoyable read about finding love and discovering who you are yourself’

 

 

 

What’s on my wall (Part 3)? Motivation Monday

Happy Birthday Alice

Hello and welcome to another fresh week and also a fresh month. For #MotivationMonday, I bring you a picture today rather than a saying. This large canvas is on my wall right above my computer screen and I absolutely love it.

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I bought it from Next Home several years ago because it’s a coastal image and because I loved the calming colours. It’s such a happy picture and looking at it instantly transports me into the seaside setting of my Whitsborough Bay books.

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Scarborough’s beach huts on North Bay

It doesn’t look like Whitsborough Bay, though.

There is a pier leading to Whitsborough Bay’s lighthouse but it’s nothing like this traditional-style one; it’s large rocks with a path across the top.

And the beach huts in Whitsborough Bay are an exact match for Scarborough’s bright orange, blue, yellow, red and lime green ones rather than pastels like in this canvas.

But the feel is still there and I find it inspiring. Wishing you an inspiring start to the week and the month.

Big hugs

Jessica xx

The one where the hedgehogs are doing me proud. Let’s do them proud

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A month ago today – 2nd July 2020 – my tenth novel, Finding Love at Hedgehog Hollow, was released. The start of a new trilogy set in a hedgehog rescue centre in the Yorkshire Wolds, it features one of the most loved animals in UK wildlife.

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Photo credit: Sarah Howell

The book is doing me proud but, before I come onto that, last week was a sad week for hedgehogs. It was announced that they are now formally classified as ‘vulnerable to extinction.’ In the 1950s, there were an estimated 30 million hedgehogs across England/ Scotland/ Wales. Today, it’s estimated there are only 1 million so it’s not surprising that this has happened.

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Photo credit: Sarah Howell

Why such a demise? There are several factors but the main one is the same thing that leads to reduced numbers across so many species around the world: changing habitat. Hedgehogs need two things to keep them happy – something to eat and somewhere to sleep – and both are provided by rough pasture, hedgerows and woodland, all of which have depleted over the years.

Hedgehogs roam huge distances on an evening – often 2km (1.25 miles) searching for food. Once upon a time, they could roam from garden to garden but housing estates – which have encroached onto land they might have previously roamed freely – get built with fences to the ground meaning roaming is a challenge and therefore finding food is a challenge.

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Photo credit: Stan Potts

I was personally hoping that one positive outcome of Covid 19 would be a boost to the hedgehog population with fewer cars on the roads, particularly in the babies season of May-July, but I haven’t seen any reports to suggest this has been the case.

All is not lost. There are loads of things we can do to help increase population numbers. I did a blog post of do’s and don’ts a little while back which you can find here. There’s loads of helpful information on the British Hedgehog Preservation Society’s website here and People’s Trust for Endangered Species here. Both are charities seeing financial support.

Screenshot 2020-07-23 at 11.55.08As for how the hedgehogs are doing me proud, they stormed up to #291 on the Amazon UK Kindle Chart on publication day and immediately secured orange bestseller tags. They steadily scampered up the charts over the next few weeks, making it as high as #91 on Tuesday which was amazing. They spent two days in the Top 100 but keep trying to get back in there so I’m hoping they’ll make it. Go, hedgehogs, go!

They also made it to #27 in the overall AppleBooks chart and #8 in the Romance category chart, and #12 in Australia’s Kindle chart.

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What’s been even more amazing is the number of reviews on Amazon. In only one month, they’ve already gathered a whopping 80 reviews or ratings; a speed I’ve never seen for any of my other books. Therefore a huge thank you to anyone who has bought or borrowed Finding Love at Hedgehog Hollow and an extra huge thank you to anyone who has reviewed it or even simply provided a rating. I’m so thrilled that readers are loving their journey to Hedgehog Hollow.

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The sequel is with my editor at the moment so I anxiously await the verdict. It will be out in January 2021 and, for anyone who wished there were more hedgehogs in the first book, there are loads of them in this one!

Wishing you a great week and do please put out some food and fresh water for hedgehogs if you’re able to. Water is especially important in the summer months when rainfall may be limited. Those little hedgehogs are going to be pretty thirsty.

By the way, if you’re a Kobo user, my publisher, Boldwood Books, have an amazing offer on Kobo running until 9th August. Readers can buy ANY Boldwood Books release on a 3 for 2 mix and match offer. All six of my Boldwood releases are part of the offer including Finding Love at Hedgehog Hollow. There are so many fabulous books you could choose from (the image below shows just a small selection). Happy reading!

3 for £3 Kobo (1)

Big hugs

Jessica xx

The one where Boldwood Books are celebrating one year of publishing

Author Shareable Twitter

Boldwood Books, my amazing publishers, are celebrating the one-year anniversary of their first published book and what a year it’s been for Boldwood as a publisher and for me personally as one of their authors.

They shared a graphic on their social media this morning which I’ve shamelessly stolen, summarising an amazing year:

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I was the 5th author to be published with The Secret to Happiness released on 3rd September 2019. My re-edited ‘Welcome to Whitsborough Bay’ series came out in the first quarter of the year and Finding Love at Hedgehog Hollow – the start of a new series – came out last month. Six of those 59 titles published are therefore mine. Greedy, aren’t I?

I’ve had such an amazing first year as a Boldwood author.

I’ve gone from languishing in the charts and failing to make an impact to being a Top 10 international bestseller… Woo hoo!!!! All of my books have been in the UK Kindle Top 200 with two of them entering the Top 100. Just yesterday, New Beginnings at Seaside Blooms (which has been in the Top 100 since the start of May, peaking at #14) and Finding Love at Hedgehog Hollow were in the Top 100 at the same time which was lovely. Five titles have been in the Top 30 on the AppleBooks chart and the other – Making Wishes at Bay View – only didn’t make it quite that high because it was on a free offer and #1 in the free chart.

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I’ve gone from days and days of zero sales to… well, watch this space as I should have an announcement about that next week when July’s sales figures are in. Eek! It’s something I could never, ever have dreamed I’d achieve until I joined Boldwood.

IMG_8440I’ve gone from having my titles in eBook only… to 9 formats. Wow! You’re going to ask me to name them all, aren’t you? Argh! I think it’s eBook on 3 platforms (Kindle, Kobo, AppleBooks), paperback, large print, audio MP3, audio CD, digital audio and one more format that I know about but there’s not been an official announcement yet so I’d better not say just yet). The Secret to Happiness has appeared in The Works stores around the UK and online and it is always a dream to hold (and sniff and stroke) your own paperback. It’s not just me. I promise. We all do it!

I’ve gone from having a demanding day job… to being a full-time author and I could not be happier to be able to spend my days chatting to my fictional friends and making stuff up. And procrastinating a bit on social media. Okay, procrastinating a lot! Although I did write 80k words of my second Hedgehog Hollow book since leaving the day job so I’ve got my head down too.

I’ve gone from feeling like a failure… to feeling like a real author who isn’t just wasting their time slapping a few words on a computer and hoping somebody will read them. If anyone asked me what I do, I’d always say I work in HR (true) and only occasionally add in an embarrassed voice that I also write books. Why? Because I dreaded the next question: Would I have heard of you? Cringe! Er, no. Only my mum has! Or the classic: I’d love to write a book… if only I had the time! (As if to suggest that I clearly had loads of spare time on my hands!) Or the glazed-over eyes/disinterest/disbelief and swift change of subject.

Now, I proudly declare I’m an author – or I did before Covid turned me into more of a hermit than usual – while trying to push that pain in the backside, Imposter Syndrome, back in his box. Ooh, he’s a little tinker.

Now, readers get in touch with me to say they’ve loved my work. Now, other authors ask me to read and endorse their books. I have to pinch myself every time these things happen and wonder if they’ve got the right person!

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So on Boldwood’s 1-year publication anniversary, my thanks go to so many people who have changed my life over the past year:

  • Boldwood Books for inviting me into their fold and believing in me – Amanda, Nia, Caroline, Sarah, Megan and Ellie (and welcome Emily!)
  • Our audio partners, Isis Audio, and Ulverscroft who run the uLibrary App and produce our large print books. Your work is fabulous and my audios, voiced by Lucy Brownhill and Emma Swan are brilliant
  • My superb, passionate, talented and lovely editor, Nia Beynon, whose support and advice I value so highly
  • My fellow Boldwood authors for being such a supportive community
  • My husband, Mark, and our daughter, Ashleigh, for being amazing and never moaning about the crazy hours I had to work trying to balance a day job with writing
  • My mum for being my number one fan!
  • The amazing book blogger community, some of whom have been with me since my debut release. You are such amazing champions of my work and I appreciate all your kind words and promotion so much
  • Any of my family and friends who’ve read/reviewed/promoted my books. You know who you are and I’m so very grateful
  • My writing bestie and super-talented fellow author, Sharon Booth, for tea, cake, advice, encouragement and sympathy
  • My other Write Romantic buddies for being there with virtual hugs during hard times and congratulations during the good
  • The Beverley Chapter of the RNA who are so much fun to be around. So glad we’ve managed to keep our meetings going virtually
  • A whole host of authors, some of whom I’ve met, some of whom I only ‘know’ virtually who’ve been so supportive and encouraging
  • And last, but absolutely not least, all you lovely readers. Boldwood say they’d be nothing without their authors and I’d be nothing without my readers. You are absolute stars, every one of you

If I had some cake, I’d be tucking into it right now but, instead, I’ll take a sip of Diet Pepsi (I so know how to party!) and toast Boldwood Books and their team of amazing authors.

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If you’re an author, Boldwood are currently closed for submissions but will be open again later in the year. I cannot recommend them enough as a home for your books so do follow them on social media and watch out for news.

Big hugs

Jessica xx

 

 

What’s on my wall (Part 2)? Monday Motivation

Happy Birthday Alice

Last Monday, I started a weekly #MondayMotivation blog post about what inspires me in my office and here’s the second post in the series.

In the UK, it’s evening now but the late posting is not because I’d forgotten (although with my sieve for a brain, that was very likely). I’ve actually been on a book deadline so needed to prioritise getting the manuscript for my second book in the Hedgehog Hollow series to my editor. Which I’ve now done. Eek! The anxious wait for the verdict starts now.

So, onto my wall and today’s choices is…

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I picked up the picture in a gorgeous independent gift shop in Derby in November 2017. I’d love to give the shop a plug but remember that thing I said just now about having a sieve for a brain????

I’m part of a writing collective of ten authors called The Write Romantics who were all members of the New Writers’ Scheme (NWS) run by the Romantic Novelists’ Association (RNA) when we met virtually. Seven years later and we’re all either independently published, traditionally published or hybrid with well over 100 books between us. We’re spread around the country so meeting up is a challenge but, a few years ago, half of us managed to coordinate diaries for a weekend away. None of us were familiar with Derby but it seemed like a pretty central point to meet.

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Half of the Write Romantics – L-R Me, Jackie Ladbury, Sharon Booth, Jo Bartlett, Helen Phifer

Being a huge fan of bears, the image immediately drew me in but the words were what made me buy the picture. BE BRAVE. Because, as authors, there are so many points in our writing journey when bravery is needed:

  • When we first ask someone – a friend or family member – to read our manuscript (MS) and prepare to receive their honest verdict … which may not be the positive response we’d have hoped for
  • When we submit our MS to a publisher or agent … which may result in rejection
  • When it’s publication day … and our book may fail to make an impact on the charts
  • When a negative review comes in … and we have to keep telling ourselves it’s only one person’s opinion/it’s not personal when it really feels like the world hates our work and it’s very personal
  • When we speak at an event … and hope someone turns up!
  • When we finish our next book … and worry it may not be as well received as the one before
  • And a whole lot more

At the time of our Derby meet-up, I was particularly trying to be brave about writing. I’d been indie for about a year after my original publisher ceased trading and it wasn’t going particularly well. Battling self doubt about my ability to make it as an author thanks to poor sales and weak chart positions, the bear spoke to me. Loudly. Yet gently.

The picture hangs above my desk and I look at it several times a day and draw strength from it. Be brave. Keep being brave. And sometimes that bravery will pay off and great things can happen. They did for me.

Wishing you a fabulous week.

Big hugs

Jessica xx

Scarborough was looking mighty fine last night

IMG_8565Dolphins are frequently sighted along the North Yorkshire Coast so we decided to take a little drive to Scarborough seafront last night, take a walk around Marine Drive, and hopefully spot them.

Typically, they weren’t around last night but Scarborough was looking mighty fine so I thought I’d share some lovely photos.

Here’s our 4-year-old sprocker spaniel, Ella, who wanted to have a go at walking along the sea wall (safely on a lead, of course!)

 

These are all taken in Scarborough’s South Bay harbour. Isn’t it pretty?

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Scarborough Castle stands proudly on the hill above the harbour and the Old Town
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Looking from the lighthouse over towards the old toll house
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The ‘Diving Belle’ in front of the lighthouse
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Scarborough Lighthouse. In my books, where Whitsborough Bay is predominantly inspired by Scarborough, the lighthouse is red and white striped instead of plain white

The sun was setting over North Bay on our way back…

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But the sky was still brilliant blue looking back towards Scarborough Castle…

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Hope you enjoyed a little flavour of Scarborough. I’m so proud of living in this beautiful town and you can probably see from these photos why it’s such an inspiration for the fictional North Yorkshire seaside town of Whitsborough Bay in my books.

Big hugs

Jessica xx

 

 

What’s on my wall (Part 1)? Monday Motivation

Happy Birthday Alice

Hello and welcome to Monday. A new day, a new week and perhaps a new start for some of you.

Rather than a fresh start, I’m actually hoping for the end today. By which I don’t mean anything macabre! I’m simply hoping to be at the point where I am able to type those two amazing words ‘the end’ at the end (obviously) of my WIP. Knowing me, another plot point will present itself and make the book even longer and need tomorrow too but, if the characters behave themselves, I should achieve my aim today. Then the harder work starts when I need to go through it and fill in the plot holes, remove the repetition, sort out the inconsistencies and make sure there’s a good pace.

On social media, it’s #MondayMotivation and it struck me that the place I spent most of my day – my office – is packed full of motivation. I painted it the most gorgeous shades of bluey-purple last year … and then promptly covered the walls with pictures that inspire me and quotes that motivate.

So I’m starting a new feature called: What’s on my wall? Bet you can’t guess what it involves! 😉

IMG_6926So here’s my first post in what should be a series (if I remember to keep writing the posts!) I bought this sign several years ago before I had a publishing deal. I had a dream of being an author and the sign seemed perfect. I had no idea whether it would happen but I’d frequently gaze at the words and hope that maybe one day, it could be me.

Today sees the start of my seventh week as a full-time author with ten books published, hopefully about to type ‘the end’ on book eleven. Eek!

Dream BIG because dreams really do come true. What’s yours?

Big hugs

Jessica xx

The one where I thank all the bookbloggers who joined Hedgehog Hollow’s blog tour

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The blog tour for the publication of Finding Love at Hedgehog Hollow has just finished and what an epic tour it has been. Across 13 days, there have been a whopping 37 stops.  36 of the bloggers gave reviews and one provided an extract only. What fabulous exposure!

 

Those damn nerves…

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Image by Mirko Sajkov from Pixabay

It’s exciting but also a little nerve-wracking when one of my books goes on a blog tour. The dream is that every single participant has loved it, waxes lyrical about how amazing it is and insists that everyone simply must read it. The reality is that there will be mixed opinion because we don’t all like the same things. I just have to hope that those who don’t love it don’t hate it either.

When I see the names of familiar bloggers on the schedule, there’s a momentary feeling of relief – they’ve loved my other books so they’re bound to love this one – followed by panic – what if they think this is the one where I’ve lost my touch and they say it’s okay but not a patch on xxxxx?

When I see the names of new-to-my-books bloggers on the schedule, there’s a mixture of hope – they could become a new ‘fan’ with a huge following who highly recommends my book and reads my back catalogue – followed by that panic once more – what if they regret trying a different author and they don’t like my voice or what I write?

So there I am with this fission of nerves, waiting for the first review to come in. Please let the first one be a nice one! With all this turmoil, who’d be an author, eh?

 

Did they like it?

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Image by autumnsgoddess0 from Pixabay

Overwhelmingly yes. Phew!

Not all bloggers give ratings. On this tour, 21 (60%) of the 36 reviews included one and they were all positive with the majority at the top end:

  • 14 x 5-star (66.5%)
  • 1 x 4.5 star (5%)
  • 6 x 4-star (28.5%)

 

What did they think of the main character?

A consensus was that everyone loved the main character, Samantha, and were rooting for her right from the start of the book. I love Samantha. She’s a genuinely kind and caring person but she is taken advantage of for this. I worked hard on developing a rounded, realistic character and was conscious that I didn’t want her to come across as a complete pushover who could not stand up for herself. I was thrilled that nobody saw her that way and understood that the problems lay with those around her rather than Samantha being weak. If they wanted to shout at someone, it was those who used her rather than Samantha.

Another common thread was the love for Samantha’s relationship with Thomas, the owner of dilapidated farm Hedgehog Hollow. I love creating inter-generational relationships. I first did this with Callie and Ruby in Making Wishes at Bay View and it was such a pleasure to create a very different relationship between Sam and Thomas but with a similar age gap.

 

What did they think of the antagonist(s) (baddies)?

Most books will have one or more antagonists – the person(s) who make the hero’s journey difficult. This could be a deceitful partner, an ex, a sibling, a parent, a bully, a friend, their boss, a neighbour…. the possibilities go on and on. This is reflective of real life where we simply cannot get on with everyone but some relationships affect us more negatively or hinder our growth more than others.

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Image by Tom und Nicki Löschner from Pixabay

I loved how passionate some of the bloggers became about Samantha’s family – specifically the female members – and my absolute favourite quote ever comes from Ginger Book Geek who called them ‘numpties’ (one of my favourite words) and said she wanted to give them ‘a darn good slap with a wet flip flop’. I actually laughed out loud when I read that.

I was particularly nervous about how bloggers would react to how Sam’s family treated her because I had a couple of scathing comments about this over on NetGalley including a reviewer who gave the book 3-stars and wrote, ‘I devoured this book but honestly the relationship between Sam and her mum was so painful to read about that I cannot recommend this as an escapist read… I would remove [that plot line]… disgusted me… can’t rate higher due to the nastiness’. Eek and ouch! Hence my nerves ahead of the blog tour.

The thing is, Sam couldn’t have gone on the journey she went on without those ‘baddies’. The story wouldn’t have been the story. And then I’d have received criticism for it being bland or nothing happening.

Also, fiction is based on reality and, sadly, the reality is that there are people out there who behave like Sam’s family. I know we would all love the world to be a happy place where everyone is kind and tolerant and considerate. But they aren’t. Family feuds and toxic relationships exist and a couple of bloggers proved this by sharing personal insights into how they could relate to Sam’s plight based on difficult relationships with their own families. For those in this situation, I send you my best wishes.

Despite a couple of other negative comments about the toxic relationships on NetGalley, the bloggers on the tour seemed to understand the whole premise of the story: that sometimes blood is not thicker than water, that the real meaning of ‘family’ can be found in unexpected places, and that sometimes there are people in your life who don’t deserve to be and being kind can mean being kind to yourself by walking away from those who continually bring you down.

 

What about the romance?

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Image by Ben Kerckx from Pixabay

The title of the book ‘Finding Love…’ relates to so many aspects of this story and it’s not just about a romantic love; it’s about loving your family, your friends, and yourself.

I like to mix up the way I tell my stories. Some of them are very much driven by the romance such as New Beginnings at Seaside Blooms whereas other stories are much more about friendships and/or family such as The Secret to Happiness and Finding Love at Hedgehog Hollow. There will always be a romance story but it’s not always the main premise.

On the tour, one blogger thought the romance was ‘a little shoehorned in’ and the book could have done without it but thankfully most loved the romance and felt it rightly took a back seat while the other themes had the opportunity to shine.

 

Were they reaching for the tissues?

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Image by Alexas_Fotos from Pixabay

It was fascinating to read how emotional bloggers found the book. I sobbed my heart out while writing a few of the scenes but I confess that I’m a sobber. Everything makes me cry! Would others have the same reaction to Finding Love at Hedgehog Hollow?

It seems it certainly did draw on the emotions from bringing a tear to the reader’s eye to them crying rivers with comments such as ‘this book just hit me hard in the feelings’ (Books and Bookends), ‘I laughed, I cried, I felt like I was there’ (Reading Girl Reviews) and the most gorgeous accolade from Book Reviews by Shalini who called me the ‘queen of hearts’ – ‘the story unfolded so brilliantly that at times my heart shattered into a million pieces where each piece was laden with so many emotions that I didn’t know where one began and the other ended’. Hugs to you, Shalini ❤

 

And did they love the hedgehogs?

Yes, overwhelmingly the hedgehogs were a hit. Which is just as well because the next two books in the series will have LOADS of hogs in them.

 

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Image by Ryan McGuire from Pixabay

Thank you so much…

Thank you to everyone who participated in the tour. It goes without saying that I love reading the reviews where it’s the dream I described earlier – you’ve loved my work, you wax lyrical about how amazing it is and recommend it to all your followers. Anyone who has described it as a ‘page-turner’ and/or stated ‘I couldn’t put it down’ – including the fabulous anecdote from Yvonne at Me and My Books who wrote ‘I started it as I got in the bath, 2 hours later I decided I really need to get out the bath! I then got dry, warmed up in PJs and finished reading the book, it was that good!’ – has filled my heart with joy.

As I said at the start, we don’t all like the same things and I equally value the opinion of those who have liked but not loved my work. I find it most helpful when there’s a reason given for this because I don’t think writers ever stop learning. If something is raised by one blogger on a 37-stop tour, I’m going to put it down to personal tastes. If something is raised by several bloggers, then this gives me something to think about in future books.

In my previous job as a trainer and coach, there was a saying, ‘feedback is a gift.’ That might sound a bit cheesy but I do agree with the sentiment. The gift is one of learning and, as a writer, I can only continue to improve if I continue to learn.

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Image by Michael Schwarzenberger from Pixabay

Here’s the rub…

The thing about gifts is that some are thoughtfully packaged in shiny paper with a pretty bow and presented to the recipient with care and, even if the gift inside may not be exactly what the recipient might have hoped for, the recipient still feels the kindness and the overall experience is positive.

Other gifts are poorly-wrapped in barely-stuck-together newspaper or not wrapped at all and are tossed towards the recipient like a hand grenade.

I’m fortunate that I’ve received 37 beautifully-packaged gifts on the blog tour for Finding Love at Hedgehog Hollow for which I am ever so grateful. And very relieved!

Thank you to everyone who has shared their reviews on Twitter, Insta and/or Facebook and RT’d those that others have shared, helping spread the word.

And my final thank you goes to my amazing publisher Boldwood Books and Rachel Gilbey of Rachel’s Random Resources for organising and executing such an amazing tour. I’ve worked with Rachel on several blog tours as an indie writer and was absolutely delighted when Boldwood engaged with her to deliver all the BW author tours. She is brilliant at it!

I look forward to seeing what my next (now full) blog tour brings – a joint one for the refreshed re-released Christmas at Carly’s Cupcakes and Starry Skies Over The Chocolate Pot Cafe starting 8th September when Starry Skies is released.

Big hugs

Jessica xx

You can buy Finding Love at Hedgehog Hollow on Amazon here. It’s also available via AppleBooks and Kobo and is out in audio, paperback, eBook and large print formats.

THANK YOU:
Rachel’s Random Resources – find her website here
Boldwood Books – find their website here

And all these bloggers who participated in the tour (hyperlinked to their review):
Being Anne
Portobello Book Blog
Books and Bookends
Brmaycock’s Book Blog
From Under the Duvet
Donna’s Book Blog
Two Ladies and a Book
Shalini’s Book & Reviews
Bookish Jottings
Books, Life and Everything
Tizzy’s Book Review
Love the Smell of a Book
Jane Hunt Writer
The Cozy Pages
Emma’s Things to Read
Lu Reviews Books
Afternoon Bookery
Reviews in Heels
Carla Loves to Read
Jess Bookish Life
Lilac Mills
Coffee and Kindle Book Reviews
Satisfaction for Insatiable Readers
Audio Killed the Bookmark
On the Shelf Reviews
Ana’s Column
JenJen Reviews
Book Reviews by Satabdi
Kraftireader
Splashes Into Books
Just Katherine
Ginger Book Geek
Books Are Cool
Me and My Books
Reading Girl Reviews
Dash Fan Book Reviews
Jessica Belmont

 

 

The one where my Finding Love at Hedgehog Hollow paperbacks arrived

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I love it when a delivery arrives in the post but, as an author, the most exciting deliveries are book ones. There’s something so thrilling about opening a parcel and seeing my book baby in paperback form for the first time. I adore stroking the cover and having a quick flick through (while ensuring I don’t bend the cover or break the spine).

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Sunday morning was dry and bright so we took one of my paperbacks on a walk with the dog around a quiet local village and found a few countryside photo opportunities.

I’d like to go into the Yorkshire Wolds at some point and take some pictures in the place that inspired the setting for Hedgehog Hollow but, for now, the village of Brompton-by-Sawdon, just under ten miles from Scarborough, will do nicely.

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We saw another perfect opportunity with a curious horse looking up at us but he decided he was a bit camera shy when we got the book out so we didn’t get that shot.

As I write this, I’m very excited to report that Finding Love at Hedgehog Hollow is:

  • Loitering just outside the Top 200 on the UK overall Kindle chart at #204
  • A Best Seller in two categories
  • A mover and shaker on the Kindle chart
  • #60 in the overall AppleBooks chart
  • #14 in the Apple Romance chart

Woo hoo! A very good start to the week. Happy author 🙂

Wishing you all an amazing week.

Big hugs

Jessica xx

 

 

 

The one where I talk about the amazing Eurovision Song Contest: The story of Fire Saga

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Image by FlorenceEH from Pixabay

I’m one of those people who can watch films I love over and over again. I have a collection of favourites I’ve probably seen 20-30 times – possibly more – and I never get tired of them. I think there’s something wonderful about the familiar when I’m perhaps a little tired and don’t want to concentrate. And there’s something in particular about romcoms when I fancy a pick-me-up, knowing that my chosen film has all the feels and is going to leave me with a warm and fuzzy moment.

IMG_8547A brand new addition to this collection is the Netflix film Eurovision Song Contest: The Story of Fire Saga. A film based around the Eurovision Song Contest was always going to be a must-see for me. I’ve adored it since I was a little girl. One of the very first vinyl singles I bought was Milk and Honey’s ‘Hallelujah’ which was the winning entry for Israel back in 1979 (I was seven). I’ve just had a rummage through my old 7” vinyls and have unearthed:

IMG_85461980 – ‘Love Enough for Two’ by Prima Donna

3rd place

Super cheesy and reminiscent of a poor version of the amazing Brotherhood of Man (who won in 1976 with ‘Save Your Kisses for Me’. Brilliant). This song has not stood the test of time but I still love it … although perhaps in more of a nostalgic way!

 

1981 – ‘Making Your Mind Up’ by Bucks Fizz

IMG_8549WINNER!

This song started me as a lifelong Bucks Fizz fan. The first gig I ever went to was Bucks Fizz in Middlesbrough Town Hall when I was about 13 and I’ve seen them three times since. I had a crush on both the boys and desperately wanted one of those double skirts Cheryl and Jay wear for this routine. I was devastated when my friend’s mum over the road made her one and one each for a pair of twins we played with … but not one for me 😦

 

IMG_85451983 – ‘Never Giving Up’ by Sweet Dreams

6th place. Luxembourg won that year but the song doesn’t ring a bell at all

I still love this song! Interestingly enough, the last time I went to see Bucks Fizz, the male member of this group joined them as the 2nd male member and they sang this. What a treat! I used to want the outfit the blonde woman wore but in the red colour the brunette had

 

IMG_85501984 – ‘Love Games’ by Belle and the Devotions

7th place. Sweden’s ‘Diggi-Loo Diggi-Ley’ by The Herreys won that year. Ooh, I remember those golden shoes!

This has such a fabulous 60s vibe and I adore 60s music which I think is why I loved this so much (and, yes, still do!) Not sure about the outfits, though! I remember loving that they all had different hair colours – red, white and yellow. Class

 

IMG_85441985 – ‘Love Is’ by Vikki

4th place. Norway won with ‘La Det Swing’ by Bobbysocks which I also remember. “Let it swing you let it rock and roll….”

Another song I still love. I used to sing this constantly and have just realised I can still remember all the lyrics. How crazy is that? I can remember the lyrics to our non-winning Eurovision entry from 35 years ago and I can’t remember my mobile phone number that I’ve had for ten years or where I put my house keys earlier!

 

IMG_85481990 – ‘Give a Little Love Back to the World’ by Emma

6th place. Italy won that year but the song doesn’t ring a bell either

Aw, bless her. She looks about ten. From when we believed that a song about peace was very ‘Eurovision’ and would win. Nope.

 

This is where my vinyl collection ends. It doesn’t mean I didn’t love any others but I started university in October 1990 and had traded a record player for a ghetto-blaster and CD player. Several other entries appear on Now albums after that point but, for me, the 1980s entries were the heyday of Britain’s entries. I’m just gutted I never bought Bardo’s ‘One Step Further’ from 1982 to have a full run-through from the early 80s. They came 7th and I loved their entry so I’m not sure why I didn’t by it.

If you want to see a short clip of all of these – and any other UK entries through the year – you can visit the BBC’s Eurovision page here.

 

Screenshot 2020-07-10 at 22.00.55So let’s go back to the film. It tells the fictional story of life-long friends, Lars (Will Ferrell) and Sigrit (Rachel McAdams) who, as Fire Saga, have a long-held dream of representing their home country of Iceland in the Eurovision Song Contest. And winning it, of course.

The munchkin and I watched it for the first time together last weekend. I loved the opening scene where a young Lars, mourning the loss of his mother, is captivated by Abba’s 1974 winning performance of ‘Waterloo’. Who wouldn’t be? That song is A-MAY-ZING! It then jumps to present day where they’re performing one of their songs ‘Volcano Man’. I knew in those five minutes or so that I was going to absolutely love this film. And I did.

It’s funny, it’s heartwarming, it has an amazing soundtrack (which I have had on constant repeat ever since) and Dan Stevens (Matthew Crawley from Downton Abbey and The Beast from the Disney live-action remake). Sigrit’s voice is stunning and did I mention Dan Stevens? With a Russian accent? I love that Graham Norton is the UK’s commentator and says very typically Norton-esque comments. The elves – fabulous. The song-along with stars from Eurovision-past – what a treat. The song ‘Jaja Ding Dong’  – genius (and ever so rude but I didn’t realise that at first – hee hee). Oh, and Dan Stevens.

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Image by David Mark from Pixabay

I spotted a BBC news article running through an enormous list of things that are ‘wrong’ in the film e.g. there’s a joke about how the UK never win yet the final is set in Edinburgh meaning the UK would have had to have won the year before, the presenters are not from the host nation, one of the acts had too many dancers and so on. Yeah, yeah, blah, blah, blah. For goodness sake, people, this is a piece of light-hearted fiction based around a real event. It was never going to be a perfect match for how Eurovision works, especially given how slick the actual event is, because the story wouldn’t have been fun and silly and simply divine if it was. And who doesn’t need a bit of light relief with the year 2020 has turned out to be so far?

I have so many favourite parts of the film but the bit that knocks me right in the feels is when Fire Saga perform ‘Husavik (My Hometown)’. Absolutely sensational.

I started today feeling really nervous and anxious with no reason to be. After about an hour, the feeling wore off and I was able to do what I’d planned but I felt that need for comfort and warmth this evening. This was the perfect go-to film and I feel calm and uplifted now.

Even if you don’t like The Eurovision Song Contest, I’d give it a go. Beautiful scenery, humour, fabulous soundtrack, elves and Dan Stevens. What’s not to love? Don’t believe me? Check out this trailer on You Tube here.

Big hugs

Jessica xx