The one where something special happened a year ago today

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I opened up Facebook this morning and was presented with a memory from one year ago which momentarily confused me. It was stunning bouquet of flowers but why? My birthday is in May, Mother’s Day is before that, and my wedding anniversary is in September. So what was significant about 18th June 2019 that warranted flowers? Hmm.

IMG_6343Then I scrolled down the memories a little further and all was revealed. One year ago today was the day Boldwood Books officially announced their first twenty authors. I’d been sitting on the news about my 9-book publishing deal for three months so it was so thrilling to see the full announcement go out and to be able to finally share the amazing news with the world. Woo hoo! You can read about the announcement here.

A year on, what a difference Boldwood have made to my writing career. After years spent languishing in the lower echelons of the Amazon charts, I have officially become an international bestseller with a Top 10 in the Kindle Canada charts, Top 20 in the Kindle UK and Australia charts, and Top 3 on AppleBooks UK. Eek! I never, ever imagined chart success like that.

My 9-book deal with Boldwood extended to a 12-book deal when I signed contract addendums this year for the rest of my back catalogue to be re-edited and re-released through them. When I first submitted to Boldwood in February last year, I was drawn to their promise to work with the author on developing their career and they have absolutely delivered on that. Earlier this year, for the first time ever, I felt like a real author.

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And, thanks to Boldwood, this month I achieved a long-held dream of becoming a full-time author. A year ago, I hoped it might be possible one day. Six months before that, it seemed like an unreachable goal.

If anyone reading this is an aspiring writer and struggling, hang on in there and keep believing as you never know when it might happen for you. I wrote about my journey to publication here and it certainly had many dips in the road before I found my home with Boldwood.

My gratitude to the team at Boldwood Books is enormous, for believing in my stories in the first place and for delivering everything they promised – and so much more. They have ‘reimagined publishing’ in so many ways: by bringing out all books for all authors IMG_7016in all formats (eBook on all platforms, audio, paperback and now large print), by treating all authors equally whether debut or with a huge back-catalogue, and by having an individual brand and marketing strategy for each author. Everyone is friendly, supportive, passionate about what they do, and I’m so lucky to be part of the team. #TeamBoldwood which has now grown to 38 announced authors (may well be others lined up for a future announcement) is a pretty special place to be. My editor, Nia Beynon, is an absolute delight to work with and I have learned so much from her expertise in editing my work.

Happy announcement-anniversary to Boldwood and thank you. It took a lot of years and some major disappointments but I am so glad I found my home with you. The first year has been amazing beyond my wildest expectations and I look forward to a long and happy relationship.

Big hugs

Jessica xx

The one where I celebrate another special anniversary

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A couple of weeks ago, I shared a blog post celebrating five years as a published author and I’m being a bit greedy and sharing another one because it’s also a special anniversary today – 3rd June 2020. As it happens, this should actually be my anniversary for five years as a published writer because my first book – a novella released on 23rd May 2015 – was not originally part of the plan.

3rd June 2015 was the publication day of my very first full-length novel, Searching for Steven, now re-edited and re-packaged as New Beginnings at Seaside Blooms.

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My husband had my debut novel and novella covers printed onto canvas with this gorgeous message. The middle one is on my office wall, above my desk – a reminder of the day when life really did change for me

This was such a momentous occasion that I held a launch party for friends and family in my hometown of Scarborough. I was so excited about it but it didn’t quite go to plan…

IMG_0584A cock-up at the printer meant I had no paperbacks which made me cry. A lot. A book launch with no books? Hmm.

The day itself was very hot and muggy and the function room that should have been fine at that time of year was unbearably melting. My hair was plastered to my head and I had no choice but to expose my arms as the lacy shrug I’d bought to go with my outfit made me too hot.

My sister in law made an amazing cake and I completely forgot to cut it and hand it out.  I promise it wasn’t a deliberate ploy to keep it all to myself! Although it might have been a bonus that I did have lots of cake to eat afterwards.

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One of the few photos that got taken – after everyone had left!

My husband was on photography duty but got so tied up speaking to friends and family that barely any photos got taken so I have very few pictures from the event. I had to put my dress back on the follow day and pose for some photos in the garden.

I did my best to circulate round the room but the hours flew by and I didn’t get to speak to half the guests which made me feel awful and, even five years on, I still feel guilty about it. Mind you, I still feel guilty about guests I didn’t have a chance to speak to at my wedding and that was nearly fifteen years ago! This is something I might need to work on. As the song says, let it go!

As a result of circulating, I was too late for the buffet and didn’t get anything more than a mini sausage roll and a few crisps. Soooo hungry.

I made a speech and forgot what I planned to say including forgetting to thank my SIL for the amazing cake. My daughter (eight at the time) got overwhelmed by it all and burst into tears mid-speech which didn’t help with my recall!

So it definitely didn’t go to plan. But it was still wonderful because it was a once-in-a-lifetime moment. After all, I will never have another debut novel.

I’m so grateful to everyone who travelled to Scarborough to share my special day with me, to those who placed orders for books, and to my publisher at the time who was so gutted for me about the books cock-up that they sent me a teddy bear in the post. She knew how to cheer me up! They also got the printer to cover the postage of sending my books out to everyone after they finally turned up.

Earlier this year, I’d briefly wondered whether I might have another launch party to celebrate the release of Finding Love at Hedgehog Hollow – the start of a new series – and five years as a published writer. Then a little virus started circulating and quashed any further thoughts of that. I will have a special celebration this weekend, though, as I mark my last ever HR assignment and deal with my final student query then hang up my tutor hat to become a full-time author.

new-years-eve-3894621_1920It’s been five years since my first novel was published but eighteen since I had the idea for it and seventeen since I started writing it. Good things come to those who wait and, my goodness, that’s been a lot of years of waiting, Happy anniversary, me! Cheers!

Have a great week.

Big hugs

Jessica xx

 

 

 

The one where I celebrate 5 years as a published author

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Image by S. Hermann & F. Richter from Pixabay

Today – Saturday 23rd May 2020 – is a very special day for me because today is the day I first became a published author. Happy anniversary to me!

My first full-length novel was released on 3rd June 2015 but my publishers at the time – So Vain Books (no longer trading) – asked me if I’d write a short story linked to the series that they could release ahead of Searching for Steven (now refreshed and reissued through Boldwood Books as New Beginnings at Seaside Blooms). I was up for the challenge but ‘short’ proved to be a bit too much of a challenge and I actually wrote a novella.

The original cover, then two versions as indie releases

8. Callies Christmas Wish COVERAt the start of Searching for Steven, Sarah returns home to Whitsborough Bay for a weekend and helps her Auntie Kay, the owner of flower shop Seaside Blooms, prepare the flowers for a wedding. The brother of the bride, Nick, collects them and my idea for the novella was to tell the story of how his sister, Callie, met the man she’s about to marry.

Raving About Rhys, released on 23rd May 2015, acted as a prequel to the trilogy that So Vain Books were going to publish, introducing the reader to the world of Whitsborough Bay and introducing Nick as one of the main characters in the trilogy.

A few years later, an idea for a sequel to Raving About Rhys kept nudging at me and Callie’s Christmas Wish – a short novel – was born.

My publishing deal with Boldwood Books was for a combination of new books and those from my back catalogue. We made the decision to combine Raving About Rhys and Callie’s Christmas Wish into one full-length novel – Making Wishes at Bay View – to be released as book 1 in the Welcome to Whitsborough Bay series. The full four-book series is available right now as an eBook on Kindle, Kobo and AppleBooks, as well as paperback and audio formats:

  • Book 1 – Making Wishes at Bay View
  • Book 2 – New Beginnings at Seaside Blooms 
  • Book 3 – Finding Hope at Lighthouse Cove
  • Book 4 – Coming Home to Seashell Cottage

 

Jessica 4 Covers

So much has changed in the five years since that first book was published. It’s been a half-decade of highs and lows.

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Image by Sasin Tipchai from Pixabay

Lows:

  • My original publisher ceasing trading
  • Failing to make an impact as an indie writer
  • Many days of zero sales and limited writing income
  • Being rank-stripped twice by Amazon
  • Giving a talk as part of a creative writing event in a cafe in town and nobody attending except two friends, the boyfriend of one of them, and two passers-by the embarrassed owner dragged in off the street
  • Rejections when I looked for a second publishing deal
  • Imposter syndrome
  • Trying – and usually failing – to fit in writing on evenings and weekends around my demanding day job
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Image by Jill Wellington from Pixabay

But these were definitely outweighed by the highs:

  • Securing my first publishing deal – and having two offers on the table
  • Seeing my work out there for the first time ever
  • Having a launch party for my friends and family
  • Receiving great reviews
  • The support of the blogging community, some of whom have been there since my very first release
  • The Secret to happiness by Jessica RedlandWriting and releasing another five more novels as an indie writer
  • Obtaining a Masters in Creative Writing
  • Giving talks in my local libraries
  • Securing my publishing deal with Boldwood Books
  • Releasing another brand new novel – The Secret to Happiness – through Boldwood Books
  • Some amazing successes with the reissued Welcome to Whitsborough Bay series including Top 5 in the AppleBooks chart for Books 2-4 and #14 in the overall Kindle chart for Book 2
  • Officially becoming a UK and international bestselling author, with The Secret to Happiness reaching #11 in Australia and #9 in Canada
  • Holding the Boldwood paperbacks and audiobooks in my hands for the first time
  • Readers emailing me or contacting me on social media to say how much they’ve loved my stories
  • Readers telling me they’ve binge-read my entire back catalogue during lockdown and have valued the comfort and escapism my words have given them
  • Finally feeling like a ‘real’ author
  • Being able to resign from my day job to write full-time (two weeks left to go!)

Five years ago, I was wide awake at midnight, watching for Raving About Rhys appearing on my Kindle – a magical moment. I hoped it and the subsequent three books would be well-received but my dreams didn’t go much further than that. I’d written three books and a novella and I genuinely had no idea where that would take me. Would anyone want to read the ones I’d written? If so, would I be capable of writing more?

During those five years, I’ve had times when I’ve felt so low about poor chart positions, lack of sales, rejection and imposter syndrome that I wondered whether it was time to call it a day.

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But all good things come to those who wait – not easy for someone like me who is so impatient when it comes to their career – and they certainly did. I will be forever grateful to Boldwood Books for believing in me and making me one of their first twenty authors.

Happy five year anniversary to me and I’m so excited about what could happen in the next five years. Boldwood have helped me tick so much off my author’s bucket list in the nine months since The Secret to Happiness was published, who knows what other amazing goals they’ll help me achieve next.

A huge thank you to Amanda, Nia, Megan and the rest of the team and fellow-authors at #TeamBoldwood. You’ve made my five-year anniversary a very happy one. Cheers!

Big hugs

Jessica xx

PS If you haven’t already done so, you can sign up to my newsletter here: http://bit.ly/JessicaRedlandNewsletter

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Image by Free-Photos from Pixabay

Happy Anniversary to Me!

There’s a phrase I often use: “What a difference a day makes“. I’m not sure of the original origin (it didn’t come up on the first page of Google and I was far too lazy to look further), but it’s the title of a few songs, including the lovely Dinah Washington classic so I’ve linked it through to You Tube if you fancy a listen. The song talks about Dinah’s world changing from blue to joyous when the man of her dreams becomes hers. This isn’t usually the context in which I use the phrase myself. I tend to use it more to describe those occasional days that change an aspect of your life. For me, a very life-changing day happened exactly a year ago today (17th September). It was the day that I received my publishing deal from So Vain Books because that email and subsequent phone call made me into the published author I am today.

11312759_890004877705480_5647299591566996495_oAs it happens, I was already on the path to publication because a little over two weeks before, on 1st September, I’d received an offer of a three-book publishing deal with another company. I’d verbally accepted it and was going through the paperwork, but I had one or two concerns. Although they’d said they loved Searching for StevenI got the sense that they wanted to change it quite significantly and I was concerned that it wasn’t going to end up the story that I set out to write. When the offer from SVB came through, my gut instinct told me that they were going to be the better home for Steven and I’ve never for one moment regretted that decision.

So that was a day that made a difference, but it’s really been a year that’s made a difference that I wanted to talk about in this blog post. It’s certainly been an eventful year. In the non-writing part of my life, there’ve been some significant events:

  • _MG_6896Both of my parents have turned 70 (well, Dad turns 70 in two week’s time but it’s nearly within the year!)
  • Our gorgeous cat Pixie lost her battle with diabetes and left us at the young age of nine
  • We took our daughter (seven at the time) on her very first holiday abroad
  • I was made redundant completely unexpectedly, but thankfully walked straight into another job
  • Hubby and I celebrated our 10th wedding anniversary (again, I’m extending the year slightly because it’s actually a week today but that’s close enough between friends, isn’t it?)
  • I re-joined bootcamp and have been rising again at 5.20am three mornings a week for the past year
  • Hubby decided to take his interest in photography to the next level and has grown into an incredibly talented photographer who has taken pictures at his first wedding as well as undertaking his first corporate commission. Very proud!

_MG_5008In the writing part of my life, I can’t believe what’s happened to me! I’ve:

  • Released a novel (Searching for Steven) AND a novella (Raving About Rhys)
  • Peaked at number 399 in the overall Amazon chart with Steven
  • Received x50 reviews for Steven and x33 for Rhys
  • Only got 5-star and 4-star reviews (so far; always preparing myself for that first 1-star review and promising myself I won’t sob for hours when it appears!)
  • Been a contributor to an anthology of short stories (Winter Tales), raising money for Cystic Fibrosis Trust and Teenage Cancer Trust
  • Appeared in the local press: The Scarborough News, The Yorkshire Coast, The Scarborough Review, and The Scarborough Comet
  • Talked and signed books at two libraries, and secured talks at two others
  • 1972459_10153485966594073_1735178700762728074_nHad Steven stocked across North Yorkshire Libraries
  • Got Waterstones to stock Steven in the Scarborough branch
  • Had a launch party attended by lots of incredibly supportive and lovely friends and family
  • Had a blue plaque named for me (OK, so it was a DIY-special courtesy of my dad but it’s still pretty special!)
  • Finished my second novel, Getting Over Gary (well, it will be finished within two weeks as that’s deadline time)
  • Planned my second novella. (Confession: when I say ‘planned’, I mean there’s an idea in my head and I’ll just run with that and see where it takes me, but I took the same approach with Rhys and it worked so let’s hope second time will work too!)

Blue PlacqueYes, what a difference a year makes! I still find it hard to believe that I’m a published author. It still doesn’t feel real. I wonder if it ever will. Thank you so very much to everyone who has supported me over the last year and before that too. Thank you So Vain Books for taking a chance on me, thank you to everyone who has bought/read/reviewed Steven and all those who’ve promoted and recommended it to their friends and family. You’re amazing, every last one of you. I’ve been touched and overwhelmed by how supportive some people have been. I’ll admit I’ve also been very disappointed at the lack of support from some people who I thought would have been pleased for me and passed word on. If you’re a prolific Facebook user, how difficult is it to like and share a post and say something like “My friend wrote this. I’m not a reader myself but if any of my FB friends are, it’s got great reviews so why not give it a go?” I’d certainly have done that if roles had been reversed. I won’t dwell on this, though, as this is a happy post and the non-supporters are absolutely in the minority. Plus it’s their choice. I just thought …. *slaps wrist and tells self to stop dwelling on it* Thank you to North Yorkshire Libraries for their support, particularly Sharon Houghton from Eastfield Library, and to Waterstones for ordering copies of Steven. Huge thanks to my mum, Joyce Williams, who has left postcards on noticeboards whilst on holiday, and talked so many of her village residents into buying a signed copy of the paperback. Thanks to The Write Romantics for their eternal support. And finally thanks to hubby and the munchkin for letting me disappear into my world of imaginary friends on a regular basis without moaning that I’m neglecting them xxx

I can’t wait to see what the next year brings …

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