The one where I look back on an unusual May

I always think there’s something extra special about the start of a month being on a Monday – fresh week, fresh month, fresh start. Lovely.

And as we step into June, I thought I’d take a moment to reflect on May because it’s been an unusual month with a few disappointments but, oh my goodness, what a delicious set of delights. Which is perhaps a little odd considering the whole of May was spent in a COVID-19 lockdown.

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Definitely not me celebrating my birthday                                               Image by Alexas_Fotos from Pixabay 

 

DISAPPOINTMENT – I hate to start on a negative but the month started with a disappointment. I’m a May Day baby and I really didn’t respond well to a lockdown birthday and had a little strop about it which actually surprised me as I don’t really both much with my birthday. I tend not to work, I love gifts, and I like to go out for a meal with my husband and daughter to acknowledge the day. The fact that we couldn’t go out made me unhappy and my reaction was to ignore my birthday rather than have a half-hearted non-event. I made a ‘no gifts’ rule and sort of regretted that when the day arrived …. although I then broke it by ordering myself a stunning Lucy Pittaway print for my office. I can’t put it up yet because I can’t get it framed but it will make my heart sing when I can. And, actually, I might have ordered two. Well, there was 25% off and it would have been rude not to!

Screenshot 2020-05-11 at 22.17.16DELIGHT – I worked in the day job on my birthday but I took the following week off – a much needed break after working some extremely long hours since the start of March. When I returned to the work as a home-based HR Tutor, it was to a big delight because I handed in my notice. I really enjoy my day job but to write full-time is a dream come true and, whilst I will not be matching the income from the day job, I will be doing what I love and finally have a work:life balance; something I haven’t had for well over five years. Six days and counting…

DISAPPOINTMENT – There’ve been a couple more disappointments. Like so many people, there were plans in place which had to be cancelled in May – a shopping and theatre trip to Leeds to see Sister Act with the munchkin and a family half-term holiday in Portugal.

IMG_7561DELIGHT – I’ve missed my fortnightly meet-ups with my very good friend and fellow-author, Sharon Booth, but we had a lovely virtual catch-up this month and it was so good to see her/speak to her. Last week, I also caught up with a really good friend who I met when I was on TSB’s graduate programme in the mid-90s. We haven’t seen each other since I had my daughter (who will be 14 in December) so it was great to see/speak to her online too although that’s a lot of years to try and catch up on! One of the things that has come out of lockdown for a lot of people is reacquainting with old friends and that’s definitely a delight.

 

DELIGHT – I’ve received lots more delights this month with readers getting in touch with me. I’ve had tweets, emails and messages on Facebook from readers thanking me for writing my books which they say have seen them through lockdown. Every single time I receive a message like that, it humbles and astonishes me. I’m so grateful that (a) my stories have helped provide escapism during these challenging times and (b) that they’ve thought highly enough of them to take the time to find me and contact me. How lovely is that? Thank you to everyone who has made contact in May or prior to that. It really is so kind and thoughtful of you.

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Image by Thanks for your Like • donations welcome from Pixabay

DELIGHT – And the month of May finished on an absolute delight. One of the things that many readers have been saying is that they’ve binge-read my entire back catalogue. My fabulous publishers, Boldwood Books, have re-released five of my books (two shorter ones were packaged together as one to make it a four-book series release) and I’ve signed a contract with them for my remaining four but, for now, those four are out there as indie releases. I can therefore log into the author information on Kindle and see how many eBooks have sold each day and how many pages have been read.

Prior to the re-release of the Welcome to Whitsborough Bay series, I had a steady but not impressive number of pages read and eBooks sold. Nothing to make me particularly visible in the charts. Nothing to write home about. Nothing to make me feel I could ever do this full-time. But the re-release, the promotion on these books and the lockdown scenario have steadily boosted sales and pages read of all of my books. This morning, my Kindle stats told me that I had well over 1million pages read during May from readers borrowing my four indie books on Kindle Unlimited (Bear With Me and my three Christmas books). Eek! I have never come close to that before. I had a look back at the same month from last year and we’re talking just shy of 197k pages and that was for nine books, not four! And even if I just go back one month and look at April, pages read were 443k so they have more than doubled in one month and increased nearly six-fold in a year. Wow!

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For years, I’ve felt invisible. I’ve felt I was failing. I always believed in my ability to write but I just couldn’t seem to make an impact. And now it’s happened. I cannot thank my publishers, Boldwood, enough for helping get my name out there and to all the readers who have bought or borrowed my Boldwood and my indie releases. Because of you all, I will be a full-time author this time next week. If I didn’t have writer’s bottom, I’d be doing a happy dance round my office right now! I hope to make you proud with more time to write and therefore more uplifting stories to read.

I know that June is going to bring a couple more cancellation disappointments but hope it brings another box of delights too. Hope it also brings delights your way.

Big hugs

Jessica xx

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The one where I celebrate National Teddy Bear Day

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Today is National Teddy Bear Day; a day that celebrates the history behind the teddy bear. Do you know the history? It’s quite a fascinating story.

Stuffed animals had been around for some time and this even included stuffed bears with Steiff including a bear toy in its 1894 catalogue although it was more reminiscent of a grizzly bear than the cute and cuddly teddy bears we think of today. So how did a stuffed grizzly bear – possibly a bit scary-looking – morph into what we more commonly know as the teddy bear today. It was actually the result of a bit of clever marketing in the early twentieth century…

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My Steiff Paddington – a wedding gift from hubby – and a gorgeous reading artist bear

The president of the USA at the time was President Theodore Roosevelt (in office from 1901-1909). In November 1902, Roosevelt visited Mississippi to work on a tricky political situation around boundaries between Louisiana and Mississippi. Roosevelt had a reputation as a rugged hunting/shooting/fishing type so, to help him relax between difficult negotiations, a bear-hunting trip was organised on 14th November (yeah, I know, but do bear in mind [excuse the pun] that we’re talking nearly 117 years ago and these things were viewed very differently back then). Anyway, it was all going a bit wrong and, as the day drew to a close, the President hadn’t been successful. Keen to end the day on a high, the hunters chased and stunned a small black bear and tied it to a tree so that the President could shoot it. Argh! But don’t panic. It does end well because, even though it obviously didn’t bother him to shoot one of these beautiful animals in the wild, he refused to shoot a captive animal and demanded they, “Spare the bear!” So the bear was cut loose. Hurrah!

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One of my many bear-related ornaments

News of fair play was all over the papers and a cartoon by Clifford K Berryman appeared in the Washington Post with the clever caption “Drawing the Line in Mississippi” which linked to his political reasons for being there as well as drawing the line against killing a captive animal.

A Brooklyn-based Russian couple, Morris and Rose Michtom, were shop-owners and fans of stuffed bears. Delighted by the story, Rose made a jointed bear from soft fabric and put it in the shop window alongside the newspaper cartoon. It sold immediately and so did many replicas. Rose called the bear ‘Teddy’s Bear’ and it’s alleged that Morris wrote to the President asking permission to use the name, receiving a hand-written note giving his permission. Aww. I love that.

IMG_6868The story goes that Roosevelt wasn’t a very sentimental person (possibly not surprising given the “rugged man” image) and didn’t actually like teddy bears, but the publicity did him no harm and the teddy bear as we know it now went from strength to strength.

I could go on and on about the history of the teddy bear because I personally find it interesting about how any product gets developed and has such amazing longevity, but I’ll stop there for now. If you want to read a little more about National Teddy Bear day and see Berryman’s cartoon, click here.

As followers of this blog will know, I’m an arctophile which means I’m a friend/lover (collector) of teddy bears. I love real bears just as much and I hope to go and see polar bears in the wild for my fiftieth birthday in a few years’ time.

IMG_6866As a young child, I had a teddy bear: the aptly named Big Bluey because he’s big and he’s blue. He was a Christening gift and he sits in my office watching me write. His fur is a bit squashed and he’s been repaired at the seams a few times but he’s not doing too badly for a 47-year-old.

I was probably in my mid to late-teens when I really started to really like teddy bears. I don’t know what specifically prompted it but suspect that it was Forever Friends bears being everywhere at the time. I absolutely adored them (and still do).

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Bear Coasters

Over the years, I’ve had all sorts of bears and bear-related gifts from friends and family: stationery, ornaments, tea-towels and pretty much anything you can think of. The scariest gift was an upright vacuum cleaner cover my mum once bought from a craft fair. It was a bear in a dress (the dress covered the upright part of the cleaner and the head rested on the handle) and I’m afraid I don’t have photographic evidence of it but it was definitely scary although it gave all the family a good laugh.

My fascination with proper collectible bears didn’t come until I was in my late-twenties. I’d heard of Steiff but had never seen one. My boyfriend of the time took me into a specialist teddy bear shop in his hometown of Lincoln and it changed my life. At first I was astonished at the price tags. Used to paying £10-20 for a plush teddy bear, prices started at an eye-watering £50 and that was for a small, cheap one. I left the shop muttering that I wouldn’t pay that sort of money for a bear … but returned to it later because I couldn’t stop thinking about a Dean’s bear called Scruff who’d caught my eye. I winced as I handed over £70 but that little bear has bought me so much joy and has lasted way longer than a pair of shoes or a handbag of that price might have done.

IMG_6498My collection grew and then I took my interest to the extreme when I packed in a well-paid job as a Graduate Recruitment and Development Manager, moved from Reading to my roots in North Yorkshire, and opened a specialist teddy-bear shop of my own. (The boyfriend was no more at this point).

I ran Bear’s Pad in Richmond, North Yorkshire (not the one in London) for nearly 2 years and it was such a joy to be surrounded by teddy bears and bear-related products every day. I had some wonderful regular customers who shared my passion, but also had some shockers:

  • The woman who allowed her daughter to urinate on my carpeted floor instead of taking her to the public toilets then made out it was all my fault because I hadn’t let her use my staff toilet (which I had no insurance to let customers use and would have meant clambering over my stock and past my safe so that wasn’t going to happen)
  • The many occasions where I arrived on a weekend to find somebody had vomited in my doorway so I had that to swill away before opening up
  • The seemingly lovely man who distracted me by asking me to get a large bear down from the top of the display shelves, saying he’d return later with the cash. In the meantime, his accomplice slipped behind the till and tried to empty it. Fortunately I’d locked it but that didn’t stop him stealing my mobile which was on a hidden shelf below the till
  • The local woman who made it her mission to go around all the independent shops and tell them they were going to fail because all independents did sooner or later
  • The parents who’d send their kids to “play in the bear shop while mummy goes on the tanning beds” in the shop opposite
  • The various others who’d damage or shoplift

Ooh! I just had an unexpected rant there! Back to National Teddy Bear Day…

I met my husband a couple of months after opening Bear’s Pad. We met online and, as we lived a couple of hours away from each other, our first date was in the small market town of Helmsley. I took a small jointed teddy bear with me and decided that, if I liked my date, I’d give him the bear to remember me by. Yeah, soppy. I did like him and I did give him the bear although I was gutted to discover recently that he’d completely forgotten this! Rude! The bear – Hermann (named after the German manufacturers) – became our holiday bear, going away with us on all our holidays with a little backpack we got off a cheap doll. Hubby knew Hermann was our holiday bear but had completely forgotten how he came to be in his possession. Men, eh?

When we married, we had a Cherished Teddies bride and groom on the top of our cake and plush bears on the top table.

Searching for Steven (New Cover Design 3)Bears have remained a strong theme and influence for me. My book, Bear With Me, is inspired by my experiences of having a teddy bear shop and learning how to make artist bears, although you don’t have to like teddy bears at all to enjoy it as the teddy bear shop (called Bear With Me) just happens to be the setting; bears aren’t the main theme.

In every book I write, I ‘plant’ a bear. It is usually there to give the protagonist comfort and is often a reminder of the past. Sarah in Searching for Steven turns to her childhood bear, Mr Pink, for comfort. Elise in Getting Over Gary hurls her bear, Marmite, across the room because he was a gift from her husband who has just betrayed her. In Callie’s Christmas Wish, a musical bear is a valuable link to the past for octogenarian, Ruby, and, in Christmas at Carly’s Cupcakes, Carly gives her sister a bear purchased from Bear With Me to convey a special message. A picture I bought of a bear and the words ‘Be Brave’ inspired part of the storyline for Christmas at the Chocolate Pot Cafe. These teddies and collectible bears certainly have some power!

IMG_6881Some people don’t get why a grown adult would love teddy bears but I can’t see my interest ever waning. I don’t buy many plush bears anymore, tempted though I might be, as I don’t have the room. Over the years, I’ve given about 20 binbags full of teddy bears to charity. I find it so hard to say goodbye but I tell myself that they’ll go to loving homes! I have a cabinet in the office full of collectible bears and a few others spread around the room. It’s not possible to feel down when surrounded by their pudgy faces and outstretched arms, waiting for a cuddle.

IMG_6876My plush bears have certainly given me comfort over the years and, as I say, they’ve changed my life. If I hadn’t bought that first collectible one, I wouldn’t have opened a bear shop, I wouldn’t have met my husband, and I probably would never have finished writing my first book.

Happy National Teddy Bear Day. Why not give your teddy a cuddle and thank him or her for being there for you over the years?

Jessica xx

 

 

The one where Steven and Gary win awards

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Hi there. Remember me? Very, very intermittent blogger? I’m sorry I haven’t been around much. I will endeavour to rectify that. But I’ve said that before, haven’t I? Oops!

This is just a quick post to announce the great news that Getting Over Gary won an award. But when I looked back over the blog, I realised I’d neglected to say that Searching for Steven won one too. Double oops.

Award LogoThey have both won a Chill With A Book Readers’ Award. This is given to independent releases. A group of prolific readers are asked to review the books against the following questions:

  • Were the characters strong and engaging?
  • Was the book well written?
  • Did the story / plot have you turning the page to find out what happened next?
  • Was the ending satisfying?
  • Would you recommend to someone who reads this kind of story?

Those who fulfil all these criteria will be awarded a Chill With A Book Readers’ Award. Bear With Me won one last May so I wondered whether the trilogy would be able to follow in Bear’s footsteps.

The answer, so far, is a resounding YES! Searching for Steven won the Award in February 2019 with some amazing reader feedback:

I enjoyed this so much that I have since read the other two books in the trilogy. Well written and feel good. The characters were brilliantly formed.”

I enjoyed this one, a nice little love story well written and with a decent plot.”

Award Logo with Steven

Hot on his heels, Getting Over Gary won an Award this month with this lovely reader feedback:

“I loved this book.”

A really enjoyable story well thought through with plausible characters.”

 

Award Logo wth Gary

Dreaming About Daran is waiting for his opportunity to be read so watch this space for news as to whether he scores the hat-trick for the trilogy and makes it four out of four. He’s my favourite of the trilogy so I am hopeful he’ll have his own little Award too. Fingers crossed!

A huge thank you to Pauline who runs these great Awards and all my readers. You can read more about them here.

Best wishes

Jessica xx

 

The one where I wish Bear With Me a Happy 2nd Book Birthday

Searching for Steven (New Cover Design 3)

Today is a book birthday and my head is currently so full of my day job and my current work in progress that I nearly missed it!

So this is just a really quick post to say Happy Book Birthday to Bear With Me, released two years ago today. You can find him on Amazon here.

This was a really special book for me for several reasons:

  1. It is partly set in a specialist teddy bear shop. I set up and ran my own teddy bear shop between 2003-2005. The setting up of the shop provided some inspiration for the plot of my debut novel, Searching for Steven, and I started writing that novel while I had the shop. I’d work on it during quieter days and that experience of having a teddy bear shop is inextricably linked with my writing so I always wanted to write a book partly set in one
  2. It explores a life-changing diagnosis and was the first time I needed to do some really in-depth research for any of my books. I learned such a lot about Parkinson’s and dementia from my research, much of which I didn’t already know. My Auntie, to whom the book is dedicated, sadly passed away last year, far too young, suffering from Parkinson’s and dementia
  3. It was the first book I’d released outside of a publishing deal. My publisher had ceased trading and, in order to keep momentum going, I chose not to seek a new publisher, releasing this as an indie author instead. Terrifying yet exciting!

I’ve received some amazing feedback about Bear With Me from bloggers on a book tour last year and also from readers. He currently has only 4 and 5-star reviews on Amazon, 78% of those being at 5-star which gives me a warm and fuzzy bear hug moment.

Bear with Me by Jessica Redland

He’s also received a Chill With a Book Readers’ Award and a Chill with a Book Cover Award too. It’s definitely like bear hugs all round!

Cover of the Month Award. MAY

And if you’re not into teddy bears, it’s worth giving this book a chance because, as many of the reviews acknowledge, it’s about so much more than that.

Happy Book Birthday, my book baby ❤

Jessica xx

 

Bear With Me

Jemma has the job of her dreams as curator for the children’s section of a museum in London. She spends each day surrounded by the one thing she’s absolutely passionate about: teddy bears. When boyfriend, Scott, shows a genuine interest in her passion instead of laughing at her for “playing with teddies all day”, she knows he’s a keeper.

Returning home to the North Yorkshire seaside town of Whitsborough Bay to celebrate her birthday, Jemma thinks she’s heading for her happy-ever-after when Scott unexpectedly proposes. So, a few days later, why isn’t he retuning her calls or responding to her texts?

Julie has always been a wonderful single mother to Jemma and her little brother, Sean. As owner of specialist teddy bear shop, Bear With Me, and the creative genius behind the successful range of Ju-Sea Bears, she inspires Jemma with her ability to balance a demanding career with home life. So why is the shop now in disarray and why is Sean so upset?

Sam thought he had his future all worked out. With a promising neurology career, a home, and a devoted fiancée, life was looking good. But now he’s all alone in a strange city, far from everyone and everything he cares about, struggling to rebuild the tatters of his life. Did he do the right thing by running away? What does the future hold and is he strong enough to face it?

Sometimes love finds us when we least expect it. But sometimes love leaves us, just as unexpectedly. When you’ve loved and lost, can you bear to let love in again?

Bear With Me, as all will be revealed …

 

When will it ever be enough? A little poem for you

Followers of this blog will have noticed that I haven’t posted for a very long time. That’s not because I haven’t been blogging, but because I launched a new website a couple of years ago and I blog over there, albeit not nearly as often as I should. My website appears to be poorly, though, and while I’m waiting for it to be fixed at IT Hospital, I thought I’d take to my WordPress site because there’s something I want to say.

As I’ve mentioned before, I’m part of a writing collective called The Write Romantics and we celebrated five years together in April. When we formed, a publishing deal was a very distant hope. For some of us, simply fiRaving About Rhys NEW COVERnishing our first book was the more immediate goal and we hadn’t thought much beyond that. Five years later with about 80 books released between us as a combination of indie releases and traditional publishing deals. We share our writing experiences – highs and lows – with each other and one of the things we’ve noticed recently is that we keep shifting the goalposts for ourselves. For example, that book we wanted to write became a book we wanted to have published by a small publisher which became a book that we wanted published by a big publisher. And cracking the top 100k in the Amazon charts became cracking the top 50k, then the top 10k, then … well, I think you get the picture. It can be so easy to keep chasing after the new goals that you forget how far you’ve come.

Yesterday morning, I was thinking about this as I loaded the washing machine (typical Saturday morning exciting task) and a poem started to form with these shifting goalposts in mind and I thought I’d share it…

Never Enough by Jessica Redland

Searching for Steven NEW COVERAll I want is one idea
How difficult could that be?
A plot that has some mileage
That would be enough for me

All I want is to write a book
What an achievement that would be
300 pages, a brand new world
That would be enough for me

All I want is for someone to read it
A friend or family
If they said it was good; that I could write
That would be enough for me

Getting Over Gary NEW COVERAll I want is an eBook publisher
How amazing would that be?
To believe in my story and share my work
That would be enough for me

All I want is to make some sales
Just one, or two, or three
A handful of readers to download to Kindle
That would be enough for me

All I want is some good reviews
How flattering would it be
For strangers to say they love my work?
That would be enough for me

Dreaming About Daran NEW COVERAll I want is to climb the charts
It would make me so happy
To see my ‘baby’ go up and up
That would be enough for me

All I want is a bestseller tag
In some obscure category
That orange flag would scream success
That would be enough for me

All I want is to break the top hundred
I know there’s no guarantee
But then I’d know I’ve got some talent
That would be enough for me

IMG_1212All I want is to be top ten
Can anyone hear my plea?
Side by side with my favourite authors
That would be enough for me

All I want is a number one
I’d barely contain my glee
That coveted slot and all those sales
That would be enough for me

All I want is a paperback
Something I can hold and see
To say “I wrote this”, oh my word
That would be enough for me

Searching for Steven (New Cover Design 3)All I want is to write full time
A lady that lunches? So me!
Full days in my office, creating away
That would be enough for me

All I want is an audio deal
Listening while sipping my tea
Those accents, those sounds, my world brought to life
That would be enough for me

All I want is my books on the shelves
Of a supermarket: big four. Or three
The sales, the success would remove all the stress
That would be enough for me

_MG_4712All I want is a top five publisher
The validation? My pants I would pee!
I’d finally know that I really can write
That would be enough for me

All I want is to make foreign sales
Australia? France? Germany?
Translations galore, the world at my door
That would be enough for me

All I want is the film to be made
The big screen for everyone to see
Amazing reviews, the compliments ooze
That would be enough for me

Charlee and the Chocolate Shop CoverAll I want is an Oscar win
I’d really be top of the tree
Best screenplay? Oh my, I think I would cry
That would be enough for me

All I want is some book two success
And the same for book number three
Doing even better than first out the grid
That would be enough for me

 

All I wanted was one idea
To write a book, just for me
But the goalposts kept changing, my life rearranging
And it’s never enough for me

11163942_10153485965149073_2015482777000081150_nIt’s easy to feel so overwhelmed
When sales aren’t what I’d hoped
And reviews are mean and personal
And very unprovoked
When all the writers that I know
Seem to do so great
And the day job takes priority
So my writing has to wait

 

So it’s back to the start to recapture that feeling
When first I typed “the end”
When someone said, “I loved it!”
Even though they were a friend
Christmas at Carlys Cupcakes CoverWhen I sat at my keyboard and laughed and cried
As my characters found their voices
When the publishing world was unexplored
But filled with exciting choices

The task once seemed impossible:
To write a full-length story
A big fat tick against that goal
I should bask in the glory
That I achieved what many don’t
And repeated it six-fold
I am a writer BECAUSE I WRITE;
Not for how many I’ve sold
I hope you enjoyed it. Granted, I’m no incredible poet (my novels are much better, I promise!) but I thought I’d share this as a reminder for anyone who keeps shifting their own goalposts to remember all the great things you’ve achieved so far – simply writing that first draft being one of them – and enjoy every moment of it instead of constantly reaching for the next goal.

I’m actually in a really good place with my writing at the minute. I’m coming to the end of the first draft of a new full-length novel and I have another shorter one nearly finished. Ideas are forming for a Christmas one and I have other works in progress. I had some successful meetings with editors at the recent RNA conference who are all interested in my latest WIP. Even if it doesn’t lead to anything, it’s been a huge confidence boost.

So, what do you think? Does the poem resonate? Would love to hear your thoughts.

All the best

Jessica xx

If you’re interested in finding out more about my books (or making a sneaky purchase), you can find me on Amazon here.

Trolls aren’t always nasty

What do you think of when you hear the word ‘troll’? Do you revert to your childhood and recall the Three Billy Goats Gruff (Goat’s???) and the troll who lurked under the bridge, waiting to munch on the poor creatures? Or do you think more modern-day and those despicable individuals who hide behind their computers bullying, tormenting, and generally making the lives of others difficult?

When I think of trolls, I don’t think of either of those things. Instead, I think of a very special piece of jewellery: my Trollbeads bracelet.

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It all started at my launch party for Searching for Steven last June. Some of the guests very generously (and most unexpectedly) brought me cards and gifts. Friends of mine, Carrie and Andrew, gave me a leather Trollbeads strap with a lovely little silver charm consisting of a pile of three books. Very appropriate for a writer. I loved it. The only problem was, my little book charm was a little bit lonely on its own. But Christmas was just around the corner.

When I was looking at the Trollbeads to decide which I might like as a Christmas gift, it struck me that I had the opportunity to build a really special bracelet that related purely to my writing journey.

Andrew’s family own a jewellery shop, but it’s closing down. His parents are retiring and Andrew, Carrie and their children are emigrating to Canada so there are some amazing bargains to be had in Sizer Jewellers. I admit that I might have added a little more than my Christmas beads as I only have until the end of this month to bag a discount, with my most recent addition being the silver bracelet and lock that hubby bought me for Valentine’s Day as I was concerned the weight of all the charms might be a problem for the leather strap.

I have beads that summarise my writing: a teddy bear (I started writing Steven when I owned a teddy bear shop and I’d write in the shop on quiet days, plus I have an ‘Easter Egg’ of a teddy bear appearing in every book as a nod to this), the little pile of books, a glass bead with hearts round it (the purple/pink one above) to symbolise me writing romance, and a shell with a heart on it (next to the purple/pink bead) to represent that my setting is by the sea on the stunning North Yorkshire Coast.

_MG_3735-EditI have a bead (or two) to represent each book. In Steven, Sarah runs a florist shop. The orangey-red glass bead on the left has flowers around it and it’s also the colours of the writing on the cover of the novel. Although you probably can’t quite see it in the photo, there’s a silver charm to the left of it made up of flowers.

My second full-length novel (out on 3rd March) is Getting Over Gary. The colour focus for the cover is green so I have a green glass bead. The main character, Elise, has a lime green Beatle (which is why I went for green on the cover) and I have a lovely Beatle charm too.

_MG_3748-EditI didn’t want to forget about my novella, Raving About Rhys. I confess I couldn’t think of an item that symbolised Rhys like flowers symbolised Steven and a Beatle symbolised Gary but I could still go with the colour scheme. Rhys has purples on the front so I went for a purple glass bead.

My final full-length novel of the trilogy isn’t finished yet and it isn’t out until late summer, but Sizer’s won’t be open then so I’ve sort of pre-empted it. The green glass bead that represents Gary also has links with book 3 (working title: Discovering David). David is Clare’s story and Clare is Irish. The green bead appears to have little shamrocks on it. Perfect. But I would still like something else to represent David. I have something in mind, but the stock at Sizer’s is understandably running low so I’m going to need to look elsewhere for that.

_MG_3746-EditIn a really naughty pre-emptive strike, I have also made a purchase that represents my fourth full-length novel: Bear With Me. It’s a polar bear cuddling a baby polar bear and is perfect for the story I have in mind.

I absolutely love my bracelet and have to thank Carrie, Andrew and family for such a thoughtful generous gift that’s kick-started a lovely memento of my writing career. If you’d like to bag yourself a bargain, you can find Sizer’s website at http://www.sizerjewellers.co.uk but don’t leave it long. Closing date is 29th February.

To any writers out there, do you have a collection that you add to each time you write/launch a book? I’d love to hear about it.

Jessica xx