The one where I have the most amazing news

Followers of my blog will have seen that, last week, I wrote a series of blog posts about imposter syndrome. This is something which has plagued me for pretty much all of my adult life and became particularly troublesome this year when my books started climbing the charts and this previously invisible author stepped out of the shadows.

Something happened in the middle of that series of posts that could not have been more perfectly timed for proving to me that I am not an imposter and do deserve to enjoy the success my stories have had this year: an offer of a new publishing contract from the amazing Boldwood Books.

And not just any contract. A 12-book publishing contract! Eeeekkkk!

I am so surprised, thrilled and excited by this and can’t wait to see where this continued partnership with Boldwood takes me over the next few years.

In 2021, I will still be working out my original contract:

  • Hedgehog Hollow book 2 out on 7th January – New Arrivals at Hedgehog Hollow (available for Kindle pre-order here. It will also be available in due course for AppleBooks and Kobo pre-order)
  • The revised refreshed re-edited version of Bear With Me (title TBC) out in March
  • Hedgehog Hollow book 3 out in May
  • The revised refreshed re-edited version of Charlee and the Chocolate Shop (title TBC) out in August

Then my new contract will begin in September with a brand new Christmas release. This is set in The Starfish Cafe on the cliffs south of Whitsborough Bay above a seal haven. It’s run by Hollie and regular readers will already have encountered the cafe in Coming Home to Seashell Cottage and Bear With Me although Hollie is only briefly mentioned in one of these books.

It’s actually a story I began writing to release as a Christmas novella in 2017. I hadn’t got very far into it before I realised that the story was quite meaty and it was going to turn into a full-length novel so I parked it and wrote Charlee and the Chocolate Shop and Christmas at Carly’s Cupcakes instead. Poor Hollie has therefore been waiting in the wings for quite some time and I can’t wait to get back to the 12k words I’d already written and finish telling her tale.

From 2022, there’ll be a mixture of standalone books and series. There may be some sequels. I even have an idea for a prequel. We’ll return to Whitsborough Bay, go back to Castle Street, and continue to explore the area around Hedgehog Hollow. I have some new settings planned but they’re all in the vicinity of the places readers already know and love.

All twelve of the books on my new contract will be brand new stories as Bear With Me and Charlee and the Chocolate Shop are the last of my back catalogue to get the Boldwood re-touch.

I have been quite overwhelmed with all the lovely congratulations messages I’ve received on social media since announcing my news last night. It’s been extra lovely that some of my fellow-Boldwood authors and a couple of other authors have been in touch privately to express their delight. It means so much to be part of such a supportive community.

From the moment I had my first conversation with my editor, Nia, back in March last year, I knew I’d found the perfect home for my books. Nia and the team at Boldwood have done so much for my career as an author already in just one year and I’m so excited to see where the next few years take us.

If you would like to watch a video of me announcing the news, you can find it here.

Wishing you all the best for an amazing weekend.

Big hugs

Jessica xx

The one where ‘Making Wishes at Bay View’ is in The Works

I adore my Kindle (other eReaders are available!) but I’m sure most people who love reading will admit to getting a little thrill from browsing a bookshop or even simply pausing in a section of a store where books are displayed. A happy place.

As an author, that thrill is multiplied several-fold when the shelves contain one of my own books. I don’t think that feeling will ever get tired!

At the weekend, I was delighted to visit my local The Works store in Scarborough and not only see Making Wishes at Bay View on the shelves but to sign them! The manager in there is lovely and recognised me from when I’d been in to visit The Secret to Happiness at the start of summer just after restrictions were lifted and shops opened again.

Making Wishes at Bay View in the Scarborough branch of The Works with the special home-made ‘signed by author’ sticker

I’d never thought to ask if I could sign copies of Secret but I’d seen photos of other authors signing their books in their local stores and the manager was delighted for me to do so with Making Wishes at Bay View.

What a surreal moment perching on the till and signing the seven remaining copies. They didn’t have any ‘signed by author’ stickers – probably don’t get as many local authors as a large city store might – but she created her own version which was lovely.

Despite the mask, you can probably tell there’s a huge grin on my face!

Today I went into Beverley, East Yorkshire (about 75 mins drive away from me) for a socially-distanced catch-up with my fabulous friend and fellow-author, Sharon Booth. It was the first time since mid-February that we’ve seen each other and we suspect it will be next year before it happens again.

I took the opportunity to nip into town as the branch of The Works in Beverley is about twice the size of the Scarborough one and therefore with much more space dedicated to fiction. Making Wishes at Bay View was in there. I was going to see about signing them too but there was a queue at the till and only one member of staff serving so I thought I’d best not pester anyone!

Making Wishes at Bay View in Beverley’s The Works

It makes me so proud to be on the shelves with other Boldwood authors, a few of whom I met in person at the back end of last year. I’ve taken a few shelfies in Scarborough but, with a bigger selection in Beverley, how lovely it was to see so many Boldwood authors together (okay, so a little re-arrangement was needed to get them all together but I did put them back where they came from!) This is the selection of feel-good books – a mixture of romcoms and contemporaries. That’s twelve amazing titles and, on the 3 for £5 offer, you could therefore get them all for only £20. Bargain!!!

This is the thrillers/crime/other selection looking fabulous too:

You can buy Making Wishes at Bay View from The Works for £2 (or 3 for £5) or online from The Works here. I’ve included the blurb below.

Alternatively, you can download it for Kindle, Kobo and AppleBooks, order a paperback from Amazon or any other good bookstore (it will be a different price as they are printed differently) or on various audio formats including Spotify.

Wishing you a fabulous week.

Big hugs

Jessica xx

Making Wishes at Bay View (Welcome to Whitsborough Bay Book 1)

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?

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

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

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

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

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

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

Yesterday, I finished with these words:

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

It’s scary out there!

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

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

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

And then I got my Boldwood Books deal. Yay!

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Image by Bellezza87 from Pixabay 

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

My logical mind is screaming: REJOICE! 

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

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

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

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

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

Image by Pete Linforth from Pixabay 

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

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

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

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

Image by Csaba Nagy from Pixabay 

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Image by Gerd Altmann from Pixabay 

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

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

Image by Victoria Loveland from Pixabay 

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

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

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

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

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

Big hugs

Jessica xx

The one where I visited Steampuss Cat Lounge

I love cats but was never allowed pets as a child. When I was at senior school, I lived several miles from school but my best friend lived a short walk away so I’d go to her house at lunchtime. One summer’s day, we found a litter of 4 kittens abandoned in a cardboard box in a cut-through by a main road. Who does that?! I dread to think what would have happened to the poor little things if they’d got out and ventured onto the road. My friend and I carried two each to her house. In a gesture of extreme gratitude for rescuing them, one of them peed down my white school shirt! Yummy! I wanted to keep one but wasn’t surprised when I was told a resonating no. Fortunately my friend’s mum found them all new homes.

It was many years later before I owned my first pets when, fourteen years ago, my husband and I adopted two RSPCA rescue kittens: Felix and Pixie. Sadly they’ve both crossed the rainbow bridge. We lost Pixie six years ago and Felix left us in January this year.

No longer having my own cats to fuss over, I was really keen to visit Steampuss Cat Lounge which had opened in Scarborough in 2019. Then Covid hit and that wasn’t an option.

Last Tuesday was the one-year anniversary of The Secret to Happiness – my first release through Boldwood Books – and it was also the last day before my daughter, Ashleigh, returned to school so I booked us in to visit the cats as a special treat. What a lovely hour! In fact, some might say purrrr-fect!

The cafe is on Scarborough’s Bar Street which provides partial inspiration for Castle Street which appears in many of my books. There’s a ground floor room which, when we were there, had two tables and a lower ground room also with two tables. Booking is advisable to avoid disappointment as spaces are limited. This can be done via their website or Facebook page.

There are twelve cats who go home with the owners each day rather than living in the cafe but they’re not all there every day. We were told that there were eight cats there during our visit and we saw seven of them. There’s an area on the lower ground floor for staff and cats only so a cat may occasionally go in there for a complete break.

Ashleigh and I were thrilled to be allocated a ground floor table by the bay window because it’s in the window where the cats tend to congregate. There’s a large scratching post/sleeping tower in the middle and vintage suitcases either side which the cats were curled up in.

Most of the cats are named after characters in films/books and there’s a lovely booklet on the table including pictures and giving detail about each cat from breed to age to who its best friends are. Awww! It’s perfect for trying to identify the cats although a few of them have similar markings so we’re not convinced we were accurate with our guesses!

The menu includes hot and cold drinks and cakes but there’s a large choice within that and vegan/gluten-free choices too so it caters for all dietary needs. Ashleigh and I both had the most delicious milkshake we’ve ever tasted. Mine was caramel and vanilla and hers was white chocolate and vanilla. To eat, she chose chocolate cake and I had a Victoria sponge with passion fruit topping although her chocolate cake was enormous and she let me have the last bit. Nom nom!

Delicious as it was, a visit to Steampuss was not about the food for us. It was all about the experience of being there among the adorable cats. You’re allowed to stroke them when they’re asleep (which several were) but are asked not to try to wake them up and definitely not to lift them. Full guidance on getting the most out of your visit and treating the cats with care and respect is on the website.

When we first went in, the largest cat – Hagrid – was in the middle of the floor, staring at us. It was as if he was telling us it was his domain and checking us out. Loved that! Once he was satisfied we were friends rather than foes, he settled into one of the beds on the scratching post.

There were six cats including Hagrid spread out in the window area but then another appeared. Lots of shelves were built into the walls in a way that made an accessible climb for the cats so that one decided to hang out on one of the higher shelves.

Ashleigh absolutely loved the experience. She’s 13 and I think children young and old and adults (as long as they like cats) will adore a visit. Actually, scrub that, even if they’re not cat-people, it’s such a lovely experience. Do it!

The cats are so soft and happy and lovely. A friend of Ashleigh’s has visited and it sounds like they were more active during her visit. Having been a cat owner myself, I would imagine that there are times of the day when they might be prowling more than sleeping, either of which will be amazing.

It costs £5 for an adult and £4 for a child to have an hour in the Steampuss Cat Lounge and then, of course, you do pay for your food and drinks on top of that. There are also various gifts available.

We’ll definitely be back in person but I hope to be back in my imagination too because, of course, the cogs are now whirring and I have a story forming. I would love to add a cat cafe to Castle Street. I think it would be perfect in Whitsborough Bay and not in competition to Tara’s The Chocolate Pot because it’s a very different experience to what Tara offers.

Because I was celebrating my book publication anniversary, I just happened to have a paperback with me for a photo shoot!

I highly recommend a visit to Steampuss Cat Lounge. You can find their website and all the details about the cats here. They’re also on Facebook here. The Twitter and Instagram accounts are @Steampuss with Twitter not active since last year but Instagram full of regular picture updates for a gorgeous fix of beautiful cats.

Have you ever been to a cat cafe? I’d love to hear about your experiences.

Big hugs

Jessica xx

The one where Starry Skies Over The Chocolate Pot Cafe is published

It’s publication day for Starry Skies Over The Chocolate Pot Café. Yay! Happy publication day to me!

Starry Skies Over The Chocolate Pot Café was previously available under the title of Starry Christmas at The Chocolate Pot Café. Just like my ‘Welcome to Whitsborough Bay’ series which got refreshed and re-released under new titles earlier this year, it’s one of my back catalogue books that my fabulous publishers, Boldwood Books, have acquired and breathed fresh life into.

If you’d like to know more about the changes, you can read my previous blog post about this here.

The prequel, Christmas at Carly’s Cupcakes, was released last month and it didn’t make sense to have a blog tour for both when there was only three weeks separating their publication dates so, instead, we have an enormous 3-week 63-stops ‘Christmas on Castle Street’ tour. Some bloggers will review both – which is why some names appear twice – and some will review just one.

A huge thank you to Boldwood Books, Rachel Gilbey from RachelsRandomResources, the tour organiser, and everyone who is participating. Book bloggers don’t take any payment for reviewing books. They do it because they are passionate about reading and the support they provide in promoting the work of authors is invaluable.

The links and blurbs for both books are at the end of this post.

What am I doing today? I have finally learned that there’s no point trying to write on publication day as there’s so much activity on social media that it’s hard to concentrate so, for the first time ever, I have taken the day off. I still have lots to do. We had some new bedroom furniture delivered yesterday and it’s still in boxes around the house which will get unpacked later, in between me responding to all the lovely congratulations messages and excitedly checking chart positions!

Tonight I’m on a Facebook Live in conversation with my fabulous editor, Nia Beynon. It will be at 7-8pm over on the Book and Tonic Facebook page so hope you can join us.

Have a fabulous day and hope to see you later at the Facebook Live.

Big hugs

Jessica xx

CHRISTMAS AT CARLY’S CUPCAKES

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

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

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

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

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

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


You can buy it here.

STARRY SKIES OVER THE CHOCOLATE POT CAFE

Cosy up with a mug of hot chocolate for some festive sparkle from bestseller Jessica Redland.

Everyone is getting into the festive spirit on Castle Street – snow is falling, fairy lights are glistening and Christmas shopping is underway.

But for Tara Porter, owner of thriving cafe, The Chocolate Pot, this is the most difficult time of the year. From the outside, Tara is a successful businesswoman and pillar of the community. Behind closed doors, she is lonely. 

With a lifetime of secrets weighing on her shoulders, she has retreated from all friends, family and romance, and shut her real self away from the world. Afterall, if you don’t let them in, they can’t hurt you. She’s learnt that the hard way.

But as the weight of her past becomes heavier and an unexpected new neighbour moves onto the street – threatening the future of her cafe – Tara begins to realise that maybe it’s time to finally let people back in and confront her history. It could just change her life forever…

Starry Skies Over The Chocolate Pot Café was originally released as Christmas at The Chocolate Pot Café. Now re-released with a new title and new cover, this version has been freshly edited and features several new chapters.

You can buy it here.

The one where Seaside Blooms has done blooming well

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

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

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

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

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

Ouch!

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

Also ouch!

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

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

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

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

Big hugs

Jessica xx

From those who loved it…

The one where The Secret to Happiness is a year old

One year ago today, The Secret to Happiness was published. Happy book-birthday to me! It’s an exceptionally special book-birthday because this was the first of my books released by my amazing publishers, Boldwood Books. It was the book that secured me my publishing deal.

Originally titled Wish I Could Tell You Goodbye, it tells the story of three women – Alison, Danniella and Karen – who are struggling to let go of something/someone from their past. They all meet at a beach-based bootcamp run by Karen and it explores whether the power of friendship can give the women the strength to move on and find the happiness they deserve.

It’s an emotional but uplifting story which I love and I was sure that, after several years as an indie writer, it would secure me a publishing deal. It didn’t at first. When Boldwood opened for submissions, it had been rejected by five different publishers. Five rejections is not a lot in the grand scheme of things but I took each one to heart and was crushed by them. Because I’d already released nine books, originally with a publisher and then via an independent route – all with great feedback – I started to seriously doubt myself. I wondered if I’d tried to be too clever writing about three women instead of just having one protagonist (like in all my books except Bear With Me which has two). I wondered whether I’d lost my writing mojo.

On the shelves in The Works

But this is a positive post and I want to focus on the amazing things that have happened since what became The Secret to Happiness found its home at Boldwood. I have pasted my rejection feedback at the end if anyone is curious. For authors, this may give the encouragement to keep going as, what one editor passes on, another may feel passionate about.

Thankfully, Boldwood thought differently to the other five publishers and offered me a 9-book deal for this book plus another three new ones, and five novels from my back catalogue! Wow!

And I couldn’t be happier. I’m a firm believer in everything happening for a reason. I believe I was always destined to join Boldwood so I’m grateful for those rejections because they meant I could find my true home.

What has The Secret to Happiness done for me?

  • Over 9k paperbacks in branches of The Works around the UK
  • Sold nearly 500 audio copies*
  • Sold nearly 15k eBooks*
  • #122 in the UK Kindle Chart
  • #9 on the Canada Kindle Chart
  • #20 on the Australia Kindle Chart
  • #35 on the overall AppleBooks Chart and #10 on the Romance Chart
  • Secured 123 ratings/reviews on Amazon UK, 92% of which are 4 or 5-star
  • Secured 43 ratings on AppleBooks UK, all of which are 4 or 5-star

* Up until end June 2020

Reviews/Ratings on Amazon UK

This book took a struggling indie writer and turned her into an international bestselling author! Eek! Still can’t quite believe that!

I cannot thank my amazing editor, Nia Beynon, enough for believing in this book and helping shape and polish it ready for publication. And thank you to the team at Boldwood Books and the fabulously talented authors there who’ve supported and promoted my work.

If you haven’t yet read it, now’s your chance as it has been selected for Kindle UK’s September Monthly Deal and is 99p for the whole of the month. Kobo and AppleBooks also have it for 99p.

You can find it for Kindle here or on Audible here.

If you prefer paperbacks, The Works sold out really quickly online but you may still be able to find a copy in your local branch. Alternatively paperbacks can be ordered via Amazon. Or you could win a copy!

Yes, to celebrate The Secret to Happiness’s 1st book-birthday, I’m giving away THREE signed copies. There’ll be one book given away in a competition on Facebook, one on Instagram and one on Twitter. I’ll share details from my various social media accounts but they’ll appear first on Boldwood’s social media. You can find them as:

  • Book & Tonic on Facebook and Instagram
  • @BoldwoodBooks on Twitter

So watch out for news of how to win!

In the meantime, have an amazing week/weekend and thank you once more to everyone who has discovered The Secret to Happiness or is about to discover it!

Big hugs

Jessica xx

And, as promised, here’s the rejections…

“Concept intriguing and writing engaging [but] not suitable for our list.”

“Created a great ensemble cast .. setting well delineated … [but the] concept wasn’t quite ‘hooky’ enough to stand out in a very crowded market.”

“While the premise is fun and engaging and original, we just feel the bootcamp idea is not quite right for us at this time. I do think it’s very well written, however, so please don’t let this stop you – you just need a cracking idea and you’ll be on your way.”

“I absolutely loved diving into the world you’ve conjured here … [but] as the story went on I struggled to empathise with the characters as much as I wanted to. Rather than being invested in their journeys I felt they lacked the necessary depth and layers, I wanted to see more of their emotions and feelings on the page. In such a competitive book market we have to ensure we feel passionate about the book and characters and sadly I just couldn’t find myself getting lost in Alison or Karen’s story as I couldn’t connect with them. In terms of next step I recommend looking at how you can weave more depth into the characters, offering readers different layers to uncover from them all.”

“Your writing is great, and there is huge warmth and emotion in your narrative. All of the women’s stories are hugely poignant, but because there were three of them, it felt at times like there wasn’t quite enough space for each story, including the tragic events before the book begins, to be fully explored. The women’s fiction market is so tricky at the moment, and what we tend to be looking for at the moment are in-depth emotional stories with a tight scope, or high-concept stories that can be pitched in a single line. I’m afraid that Wish I Could Tell You Goodbye didn’t quite hit the mark for me.”

What’s on my wall? (Part 6) Monday Motivation

Happy Birthday AliceToday’s #MondayMotivation is a metal sign that we bought in a furniture store in York shortly before Christmas at Carly’s Cupcakes was released.

IMG_8728The reasons for the purchase are hopefully fairly obvious but I was also thinking about this sign a year later when I wrote Starry Skies Over The Chocolate Pot Cafe. I describe The Chocolate Pot as having vintage metal signs all over the walls which are both beach-themed and cafe-themed and I imagine this being one of them.

This sign couldn’t be more appropriate for today because I woke up to some quite astonishing chart positions overseas for Christmas at Carly’s Cupcakes.

UK PB #17 Free Kindle Chart Visual - 20:08:20This book was re-released on 13th August through Boldwood Books after a completely fresh edit and it quickly made its way into the Top 50 on the UK’s free Kindle chart. It has twice peaked at #17 which is very exciting.

I was very pleased with how well it was doing overseas but it surpassed all my expectations today.

In the USA, it hit #15 today which was completely amazing, especially when you think of the size of the US market! I certainly never expected to get higher in the USA chart than in the UK one!

Christmas at Carly’s Cupcakes also reached #20 in Canada today and #43 in Australia.

STARRY SKIES HI RESObviously I don’t make any money from these high chart positions with the book being free but the hope is that readers might read it, love it and be inspired to read the sequel, Starry Skies Over The Chocolate Pot Cafe, which has also been edited and expanded and will be out on 8th September. Fingers crossed!

Thank you to everyone who has downloaded a free copy in any territory worldwide. If you haven’t got it already, here’s the links to those four markets but you can buy it from your local Amazon site anywhere in the world as it’s free globally.

UK: https://amzn.to/3iJGvIV

AUS: https://amzn.to/2CupTp3

CA: https://amzn.to/3iJnW7D

USA: https://amzn.to/2CsU0gs

It should also be free on Kobo and AppleBooks but hasn’t appeared on either site yet. Not sure why. Hang on in there if you use either of those eReaders as it should appear free on both very soon.

So why is this my choice for #MondayMotivation? It was always there on my wall as a reminder of having written two of my books – a proud achievement in itself – but now it gives me motivation in reminding me of the time I reached #15 in the USA!

Somebody pinch me! Eeeeeeekkkkkk!!!!!

Have a fabulous week.

Big hugs

Jessica xx

Carly's Cupcakes Tagline Twitter

It’s the most wonderful time of the year…

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

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

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

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

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

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

The one where you can win a chance to name a hedgehog in my next book

This week, Boldwood Books announced a fabulous competition we’re running on social media.

What’s the prize?

  • A chance to name a hedgehog in the second book in my Hedgehog Hollow series
  • The paperback of the second book in the series in which you’ve named the hedgehog
  • A gorgeous Wrendale Designs hedgehog bookmark – ‘Awakening’

Hedgehog Hollow Competition Twitter

How do you win?

  • Follow Book & Tonic on Facebook and/or @BoldwoodBooks on Twitter and share/retweet the competition post. On Twitter, this is the pinned post at the time of writing
  • Sign up to my newsletter by 30th August 2020. You can do this following this link: http://bit.ly/JessicaRedlandNewsletter
  • Anyone already signed up to my newsletter will also be included in the draw
  • A winner will randomly be drawn and announced on 31st August and that person will then be asked to name a hedgehog and will win the goodies

 

Screenshot 2020-08-19 at 10.36.07What if I win?

Boldwood Books will ask you for your chosen hedgehog name. It might be that you want to name him/her after yourself, a friend or family member. It might be that you choose the name of a family pet. Or you might get creative.

There are a few suggestions we won’t be able to accept:

  • Any swear words/racism/sexism or anything along those lines that is inappropriate
  • A hedgehog name that is already used in the first book – Finding Love at Hedgehog Hollow – but there are only six names used: Spike, Spikette, Sonic, Mrs Tiggywinkle, Mr Snuffles and Quilly
  • A name that matches any of the characters in the first or second book as it would be confusing to have a person and a hedgehog with the same name!

I’m editing this book at the moment and have a part of the story saved where I will slot in the name of the chosen hedgehog so I can’t wait to hear what’s picked.

We have a name for the second (and third) book but they’re being kept under wraps for the moment. The cover for book 2 should be revealed next month but the editing process will be ongoing so the book won’t actually be ready for print for some time yet but a copy will be put aside with your name on it (and your hedgehog’s name in it!) as soon as it is.

You can read the full T&Cs here: https://www.boldwoodbooks.com/competition-terms-conditions/

Good luck!

Big hugs

Jessica xx

 

 

The one where Christmas at Carly’s Cupcakes is published

Carly's Cupcakes Tagline 2 Twitter

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

What has changed?

Length: The story is longer by about 12k words

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

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

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

Carly's Cupcakes Tagline Twitter

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

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

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

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

Carly's Cupcakes Review FB

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

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

Screenshot 2020-08-13 at 16.36.36

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

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

 

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

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

WOO HOO!!!!!!

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

Where can I find out more?

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

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

Big hugs

Jessica xx

It’s the most wonderful time of the year…


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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Screenshot 2020-08-13 at 16.26.43