The one where you can find The Secret to Happiness in The Works

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Did you know that you can find The Secret to Happiness in branches of The Works? Well, maybe not the actual secret to happiness but you can find my first Boldwood release of that title. Yay!

It appeared online a couple of weeks ago and we nipped into Scarborough last Tuesday to see if stores had taken delivery of it but it hadn’t yet arrived.

IMG_8440I’d hoped by leaving it over a week and going in yesterday that it would definitely be there but it wasn’t on the shelves. Cue sad face. However, I asked one of the very helpful staff and she said they’d not had a chance to fully unpack Tuesday’s delivery. She went upstairs to search and kindly came down with a pile of ten of my books. Yay!

The two staff members in there were so lovely and enthusiastic when I shared that I was the author and that it was a book set in a fictional version of Scarborough written by a Scarborough-based author. They were keen to take a photo of me with my books to send to their Regional Manager and said they’d be directing everyone to my book and telling them the author had just been in. How lovely is that?

There were a couple of other Boldwood authors books in there – Jennie Bohnet’s Villa of Sun and Secrets and Maxine Morrey’s #NoFilter. Jennie lives in France so won’t be able to visit a branch of The Works herself so it was lovely being able to take a shelfie for her. I’ve read both those books and they’re fabulous.

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IMG_8438My hair’s looking pretty messy thanks to me having my hood up in the rain but it was certainly a proud moment. When I was first published with my original publisher, my local Waterstones kindly stocked my books after I asked nicely and it was lovely seeing them in there but yesterday was something extra special, knowing that copies of The Secret to Happiness are not just in my local store but in stores nationwide.

If you’d like to explore The Secret to Happiness (blurb below), you can take a trip into your local branch of The Works or buy online at http://www.theworks.co.uk You can go directly to my book by clicking here.

Alternatively, you can get the eBook for AppleBooks, Kindle or Kobo or choose the audio version.

Thank you so much, Boldwood Books, for fulfilling another writing dream.

Big hugs

Jessica xx

*The Top 10 Bestseller*

Everyone deserves a chance at happiness…

Danniella is running from her past, so when she arrives at the beautiful seaside resort of Whitsborough Bay, the last thing on her mind is making friends. After all, they might find out her secrets…

Alison is fun, caring and doesn’t take herself too seriously. But beneath the front, she is a lost soul, stuck in a terrible relationship, with body confidence issues and no family to support her. All she really needs is a friend.

Karen’s romance has taken a back seat to her fitness business. But she doesn’t want to give up on love quite yet. If only those mysterious texts would stop coming through …

When the women meet at their local bootcamp, a deep friendship blossoms. And soon they realise that the secret to happiness is where they least expected to find it…

An uplifting story of friendship and finding the strength to come to terms with the past. Perfect for fans of Tilly Tennant and Cathy Bramley.

What readers are saying about The Secret To Happiness:

‘An emotional but uplifting page turner. The Secret to Happiness is a beautiful story of friendship and love’ Fay Keenan

‘I loved how realistic and flawed the characters were, no perfect people, just honest characters with real problems.’

‘Easily Jessica Redland’s best novel so far. The amount of heart and depth that has gone into it is astounding.’

‘This is a story that will have you enthralled from the start to the end with its many twists and turns. Jessica has the knack of drawing you into her “heroines”. She always includes some humour in her books but wow, does she know how to bring you to tears as well.’

‘Reading this book is the secret to happiness. Wow!’

‘Loved the characters and didn’t want it to end.

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My author copy (the version available via Amazon or other bookstores) alongside the one from The Works with a glossy cover

 

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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An Author-ly Good Couple of Days

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Happy weekend! I’ve had an incredible end to the week, thanks to three amazing things that have happened.

1. My Very First Author Talk!

I’ve received wonderful support from my local libraries. A year ago, before I knew I had a publishing contract, I met a woman called Sharon at a works careers fair. She works for North Yorkshire Libraries. We got chatting between conversations with job-seekers and I told her I was a writer. I also explained that I was a Brown Owl and that I’d be interested in bringing my Brownie Pack to our local library (her base) at some point to complete our Booklover Badge. Earlier this year, I was able to get in touch to organise the Brownie night … and to tell her that I had a publishing deal. Sharon was thrilled to bits about this. My husband also has a contact at the library through his photography and, between both contacts, we organised for me to talk at Scarborough Library and also a smaller library on the outskirts of the town. The latter one isn’t until September, but Scarborough Library was on Thursday night. Eek!

10945679_10153485965344073_4084184173099668412_nI was a little nervous about it. A lot of writer friends are very nervous about the idea of speaking to an audience but I’ve been a Trainer for years so this doesn’t phase me at all, although it’s a little different presenting about me instead of work-based subjects. What made me nervous was the thought of nobody turning up. Or, even worse, a couple of people turning up, realising I’m a romantic comedy writer, turning round and walking out in disgust! I was stunned and delighted when I had an audience of twelve, plus Sharon, and the presentation was incredibly well received. I really enjoyed delivering it and got some great questions afterwards. Four attendees even bought a copy of my book and a couple said they’d download it onto their Kindles.

Thank you so much to Scarborough Library for hosting the event. Sharon also confirmed a great piece of news. I submitted Steven to be considered for the library stock and she was able to confirm that they’ll definitely be stocking it at all the libraries in North Yorkshire. Wow! Not only that but, as a local author, I’ll appear twice: in the main section and in the local author section. Very excited about this. I love the idea that my writing can be enjoyed by more and more people by being available in so many different places.

2. Riding High in the Charts

11401501_432174206971006_984189043329891591_nSearching for Steven was selected for a BookBub promotion on Thursday. BookBub are a US company who promote quality books when they’re at significantly reduced prices. Publishers have to apply to appear on this and they’re very selective about who they pick so I was thrilled when my publisher’s application for Steven was accepted. People join mailing lists, picking their preferred genres of books, and BookBub email them with the books they’ve accepted for promo each day. This can boost sales but nothing quite prepared me for how significantly it boosted mine. There are over 400,000 books registered on the UK Amazon charts and, today, I reached number 399! I also peaked at number 25 in the romantic comedy chart which is an incredibly competitive one.

With being a US promotion, Steven has also shot up the Amazon.com chart to number 143,990. I have no idea how many books are registered on there but, if there are over 400,000 on .co.uk, we’re probably talking millions on .com!

To participate in the promotion, Steven was reduced to a 99p download and is going to be available at that price for a short time longer so, if you haven’t already bagged yourself a bargain, now’s your chance!

3. Local Support

Spurred on by the success of Steven today, I decided to visit Waterstones to see if they’ll stock my book. I spoke to a lovely manager and she was exceedingly complimentary about Steven, telling me it was the most professional cover she’d ever seen on one of the local author books they’d stocked and that it would likely sell very well as romcoms are very popular, especially one that’s set in a fictional version of Scarborough like mine is.  I would imagine that it will take a while before they go through their process and obtain the stock, but I’m so thrilled that they’re going to stock it.

Thank you so much to everyone who came along to my talk, to everyone who has downloaded Steven whilst on promotion, and to Waterstones for being so lovely today. And thank you to my lovely hubby for a couple more amazing promo photos 🙂

Have a great weekend everyone xxx

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Whoop Whoop for National Stationery Week!

P1060266It’s my birthday today and hubby absolutely came up trumps for the second year in a row. For ages, he’s been strangely reluctant to buy me any stationery. He’s always said I’m difficult to buy for because there’s rarely something specific I want as a gift. ‘That’s ridiculous!’ I’d cry. ‘I love stationery, books, films, music, jewellery, teddy bears … How can you possibly be stuck for present ideas?’ I don’t know whether it was me stepping up the gear with my writing last year (I started submitting my MS in September 2013) or just a reluctant acceptance that stationery may not be his bag but is absolutely mine, but something prompted him to make a number of stationery purchases last year and he’s surpassed himself again this year.

P1060268I love teddy bears, but I also love owls and these are extremely popular at the moment with some amazingly cute cartoon images available. My owl thing has come more from the fact that I’m a Brown Owl for a pack of 24 x Brownies (I’ve done this for five years now), although I do think they’re lovely in the rare event that I see one. Owls were a bit of theme this year with the lovely Bramble Wood collection that WH Smiths carry. He bought me an A4 notepad in this range, a couple of lovely boxes, some giant paperclips and a set of post-it notes. I have two gorgeous files that we use at Brownies in this range. One is a ring-binder full of colouring pages and puzzles for Brownies who finish a craft early or who need some quiet time on a games night, and the other is an expanding one in which I keep welcome cards and certificates. We also have ‘Owlbert’ (see what I did there?) who we give out at the end of each meeting for the best Brownie-like behaviour. The girls adore Owlbert. Anyway, I hadn’t owned any of this collection myself (have had to try to be restrained) so I’m thrilled to have some now.

He also got me a lovely notepad from Waterstones in a new range I haven’t noticed before, along with a mechanical pencil. He got an ickle bit confused, though, cos he thought he’d bought me a posh pen for signing copies of my paperback during my launch party in June, bless him. To be fair, it looks like a posh biro … but the words ‘Mechanical Pencil’ written clearly across the front, and the instructions on the back about what types of lead it takes are a slight giveaway!

P1060272‘My Future Listography – All I Hope To Do In Lists’ was a fabulous book purchase for me. I love lists. I love writing. I love writing lists. What’s not to love about this gift?

I did purchase a tiny part of my pressie for him: a gorjuss phone holder. I absolutely love the gorjuss range of stationery (as you can see by my fabulous collection), but I’m hugely drawn to three specific girls: one of the original line-up in a turquoise dress with the quote “I found my family in a book” (see pencil case and beer mat) which always feels so appropriate for a writer, the more recent girl in a red dress balanced on a pile of books (like on my phone case) and the girl in a purple dress with the quote “we can all shine” – also appropriate for a writer (see top of tall stack of tins and beer mat).

My gift wasn’t just about stationery. I’m actually going to spend the day in London with a couple of friends of mine at some point over the summer so I’m going to get a bargain plan-ahead ticket for that but, today, he also got me Now 90. The Now series is something I’ve collected for years. I have numbers 1-3 and 10 on vinyl! I then started collecting them on cassette from about Now 13-35 but I listened to them in the car and they got so warped from heat and over-use that I chucked them all years ago. I’ve gone back and managed to get most from 20 up until 90 on CD although I have a few small gaps. I feel a little out of touch these days as I never have time to listen to the charts or watch music TV. If it’s not played by Yorkshire Coast Radio, I don’t hear it so the Now albums are usually an education. I discover some gems of tracks … and, let’s face it, some absolute crap too!

P1060265Rounding up the gifts (which I should point out where also from the munchkin) was ‘Ever After’ on blu-ray. Starring Drew Barrymore, Dougray Scott and Angelica Huston as the most incredibly wicked stepmother, this is a brilliant interpretation of the Cinderella story and one of my all-time favourite films. I owned it on DVD but I haven’t been able to watch it as it wasn’t a UK-region purchase and, unfortunately, our blu-ray player refuses to recognise it. After watching Disney’s latest Cinderella release at the cinema, I was keen to show it to the munchkin as I think Ever After is far superior. We settled down to watch it and realised I’d completely forgotten about the region problems. We’ll find time this weekend. Lovely.

Slight digression there away from stationery. My lovely colleague from work, Joanna, also bought me some fabulous stationery. She knows how to make me happy 🙂 I have a thing for notepads (see a very small part of my collection below), pencil cases, pretty coloured pens and post-it notes so I’ve really been spoiled by her and hubby/munchkin.

P1060271My mother in law also came up trumps. She usually gives me some money (which this year I’ll be able to put towards a launch party outfit) but she also got me this sign this year. I posted it on Facebook then my mum called. She’d also bought the exact same gift for me! What are the odds?!

Did you know that today is National Stationery Week? It runs from 27th April to 3rd May and is about celebrating the written word and all things stationery. Sounds pretty good to me! Wednesday was World Stationery Day too. I don’t think I’ll be able to get away with suggesting a trip around the world to celebrate the wonders of stationery, though, so I’ll gaze at my lovely new collection and my existing collection and let out a contented sigh instead. It really doesn’t take much to make me happy.

What stationery do you love the most and why? Have a great bank holiday weekend xxx

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A blast from the past: Childhood memories before my eyes

Last week I got very excited in Waterstones. I was actually birthday present shopping and Waterstones have quite a nice gift section so I decided to browse. Only it was a really small Waterstones and the gift section was tiny so I had a little browse through the children’s section instead. Out of the corner of my eye, I spotted the title of a book that took me right back to my childhood.

_MG_4498When I was about seven, my older brother brought a book club leaflet home from school and I was allowed to order a book. I chose one called ‘My Best Fiend’ by Sheila Lavelle. I don’t remember the reason. Maybe I liked the cover, maybe I liked the blurb or maybe he suggested it. Either way, this lovely new book arrived and from the very opening paragraph, I was hooked. It was the very first book I read more than once. In fact, I probably read it a dozen times or more (as you can see from the battered state it’s in!) Imagine my delight when ‘The Fiend Next Door’ was released three years later in 1982. Another gem to be read many times over.

It didn’t just appeal to me at that age. In early secondary school, I still loved it and even wrote a book review on it although I was absolutely devastated when it came back with a low mark and “fiend” corrected to “friend” throughout. To this day, I’m still annoyed with myself for not challenging the teacher to up my marks because I had spelt it correctly. You see, the story is about Charlie and her best friend Angela who lives next door. Only Angela is what we might call a “toxic friend” these days as she repeatedly drops Charlie in it and behaves like a right little madam, hence “fiend” being a more appropriate descriptor.

_MG_4499So, back to last week, I was stunned to spot the books on the shelves. Nobody I know has ever heard of them and I assumed they’d have gone out of print long ago. I quickly purchased the pair for my seven year old (figuring that mine might fall apart if I gave her those) and I hope she enjoys them as much as I did.

For some strange reason, these are just about the only paperbacks I’ve retained from my childhood. I wonder what made me hang onto them. 

_MG_4492Another book that had a big impact on me was one that was read to us at school. ‘Run for Your Life’ by David Line tells the story of Szolda and Woolcott who overhear a conversation between two men and believe they’ve heard a murder plot. They then get into danger trying to prove they were right. I don’t know if it was on the curriculum or if it was just a book our teacher selected but it was absolutely gripping and I can still remember the desperation for them to get home safe and sound. A few years ago, I decided to see if I could track it down to re-read it and was delighted to find it’s still in print.

I’m going to become more predictable now with my final childhood memories. I absolutely loved and adored Enid Blyton. I admit that I haven’t read any of some of her famous works like The Secret Seven, St Clare’s, Naughtiest Girl etc. but I absolutely adored:

  • The Famous Five
  • The Enchanted Wood/Faraway Tree series
  • Malory Towers

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I read all of these many times over and I suspect that the reason I don’t still have them is that they were so well-read that they fell apart!

_MG_4502I’d like to say I loved Roald Dahl but I confess I’ve only ever read two books by him: ‘James & The Giant Peach’ and ‘Fantastic Mr Fox’. I don’t know why I’ve only read these (and, again, several times over) rather than trying others. I know ‘James & the Giant Peach’ was one we read in class at primary school so that’s why I got into that one. Perhaps we read ‘Fantastic Mr Fox’ too. Really can’t remember. My little girl has a box set and she adores ‘The Enormous Crocodile’.

_MG_4496My final blast from the past is another slightly predictable one: ‘Anne of Green Gables’ by Lucy Maud Montgomery. This is my only other original paperback besides the Fiend books. Again, not sure why I kept it. I actually had it for years and never read it but then I watched the wonderful Canadian TV drama series (1985) on a repeat several years later and absolutely loved it. I read my book and borrowed the rest in the series from a friend. Such a lovely story and what a hero Gilbert Blythe is.

That’s my trail through part of my childhood. It doesn’t represent everything I read but it does represent my absolute favourites. I’d love to hear yours and I’d really love to hear from anyone who is familiar with Sheila Lavelle’s wonderful books or ‘Run for Your Life.’

Thanks for reading.

Jessica xx