Monday 31 July 2023

 Guest Post with Ella Cook

Today I'm joined by fellow Joffe  author, Ella Cook. Her latest novel, Healing Hearts in the Litlle Village, was published on July 25th and is described as '...a heartwarming romance about second chances.' 

Welcome to the blog, Ella. I think you're going to talk to us about confidence and mental health. It's over to you!

Thank you. Something happened recently that really shook my confidence – so I’m really grateful to Jan for giving me space on her lovely blog to chat about it.

I got my first negative reviews as an author: it’s actually about this new book (be warned!)

The thing is, I thought I was prepared for this moment, that I knew how I’d respond. I mean, I’ve been a business writer for years and had countless critiques of my work. And like most authors I know, I got plenty of rejections before I got that amazing ‘yes, we love your book and want to publish it’ moment.

But I wasn’t even close to ready to handle it. I don’t make any secret of the fact that I have bipolar – I’m quite open about it because I think it’s something people should feel able to talk about. What I am, most of the time, is stable. I’ve worked really hard to be able to identify and deal with triggers, and to be able to roll with the punches that life throws at us. Work stress? Fine. Bereavements? Heart-breaking, but sadly a normal part of life. Health issues? Something you just learn to deal with. Rejections? Part of being a writer.

Bad reviews? Just another, albeit less-than-pleasant part of being an author, right? Well, actually, no.  It was a total meltdown that sent me into a depressive spiral – probably one of the worst this year (I’m writing this in July, by the way). I’m only just starting to pull myself together now – after a lot of tears, quite a lot of swearing, and huge amounts of love, support and reassurance.

(The good thing about having the rapid cycling flavour of bipolar is, that although the moods swings can be vicious and severe, they tend to be much shorter lived).

And I’m really grateful to Jan today, because I promised her this blog before the miserable-making reviews – and in nearly fifteen years of business writing I’ve learned to write even when I’m feeling dreadful, and never missed a deadline (and I’m not planning on starting now!). So it’s forced me to shine a light on the shadows that a not nice review has brought back out to the surface. Much like the shadowy monsters of some of the best fairy tales and fantasy stories, the creeping darkness that unkind review brought into my world didn’t come alone – instead it opened the door for years of self-doubt to return, bringing with it the misery caused by years of that dreaded imposter syndrome, and memories of all the times I – or someone else – told me I wasn’t good enough.

And I realised that it couldn’t really be more timely than when I was writing a blog about Healing Hearts in the Little Village – because it’s pretty much a theme for this novel, although it wasn’t one that I’d planned. Our main character Olivia Emery–she’ll probably tell you to call her Liv – is a highly accomplished doctor who has studied some of the hardest and most demanding types of medicine there is – and she really is very good at what she does.

But personally, she can be really, really very hard on herself.

She’s a lot like a lot of people I know, and – if I’m totally honest – me. She doesn’t always realise it, but she carries a lot of voices in her head and baggage: unkind things that have been said to her in the past that she hasn’t completely dealt with. And it’s not until she faces a new trauma that we learn how much those past shadows still haunt her, and influence her behaviour. She’s scared, so used to being hurt and let down that she almost expects it, and therefore finds it really hard to trust people.

Fortunately, the rotten author who gave her such a dark back story (me again!) isn’t really that mean, and wrote in a hero – and a glittery little fairy princess – who are going to do their best to help Liv find some self-confidence again, to remind her how to be kind to herself – and hopefully love herself again. This leads me nicely to one of my favourite lines in this book, which I liked so much that I had it printed on a mug!

So, thank you, Jan – for reminding me that sometimes I need to take a page (or at least a quote!) out of my own book…

And to everyone else: make sure that the voices you pick to listen to, the
ones that influence your behaviour and how you feel about yourself, are kind ones. Maybe when you’re next having a bit of a wobble, or a hard time, change the message and story you are telling yourself… speak to yourself the way your friends would talk to you. Or how you would talk to them. Instead of being your own harshest critic – just for a few minutes try being your own, biggest cheerleader. Because you are awesome, you are unique and you are worth it.

You might be surprised how effective a few minutes of self-kindness can be.

And now that I’m feeling a bit less sorry for myself, I’m going to go and pull on one of my favourite happy dresses (made by Popsy, by the way – you cannot beat them for feel-good, confidence-inspiring dressing!) – maybe skip around in some flowers, and try to practice my own advice and be a little bit nicer to me for a bit.


Thank you for your interesting post, Ella. I'm sorry you've had a hard time dealing with some negative reviews. Here's one of the lovely comments and positive reviews you've had already for your new book instead:

'A fabulous feel-good read from Ella Cook that will tug your heartstrings in all directions. Really great storylines for both Dr Olivia Emery and Dr Callum Mcpearson that will cleverly draw you in to a couple of heart-stopping moments when their tentative relationship comes unstuck.'

About the author

Ella’s been obsessed with books since the moment she could reach to pull them off the shelf by herself, and has wanted to write for as long as she can remember.

She grew up in London where fairies lived at the bottom of her Grandma’s garden, and she still looks for magic – and often finds it – in everyday life.

She won the SWWJ Floella Benjamin Award in 2019, and published her debut, BEYOND GREY with Choc Lit and Ruby Fiction in 2021. Her books are now published by Joffe Books, who won the IPG Trade Publisher of the Year in 2023. She doesn't plan to stop writing any time soon.

When she emerges from her fictional worlds, she writes bids for children’s services and lives in Warwickshire (where there are probably more fairies) with her ever-loving husband who reads all her stories first and makes gallons of tea in magical cups that keep drinks warm for whole chapters.



One broken-hearted city doctor. A countryside surgery in need of a new GP. The perfect love story bound to get your pulse racing . . .

Dr Liv Emery is at her wits end. Her perfect life was within her grasp. Instead she’s dealing with the fallout of being dumped by her long-term boyfriend in the cruellest way possible.

Then on top of everything else, a patient goes berserk on her. It’s the final straw, and there’s only one thing for it . . . A new start.

So she jumps at the chance to cover her former professor’s GP surgery in the Cotswolds and waves goodbye to the city. And good-for-nothing men.

Life in the village of Broclington is a far cry from London — and her cottage is a welcome change from her old shoebox flat. But her relief is short-lived after meeting her prickly boss Callum.

But perhaps he has his reasons . . . It’s not easy juggling being a single parent to a fairy-obsessed six-year-old while staving off bosses breathing down his neck about funding cuts.

The more Liv gets to know Callum and his daughter, the more she realizes she may be able to help them — and the village practice — more than she could have imagined.

But will her time in Broclington be the healing experience she so desperately needs, or could she end up heartbroken once again?

Fans of Beth Moran, Alison Sherlock, Cathy Bramley, Heidi Swain, Marie Laval or Lisa Hobman will fall head over heels for this cozy romance full of heart.

⭐⭐⭐⭐⭐ ‘A lovely feel-good book.’ Rosamond C.

⭐⭐⭐⭐⭐ ‘Brilliant characters and a great insight into village life.’ Gill K.

⭐⭐⭐⭐ ‘A sweet story.’ Evangelia M.

Buying Links

Summer’s Christmas (Broclington Book 1 – in case you missed it)

Healing Hearts in the Little Village (Broclington Book 2 – don’t worry, it reads well as a standalone novel, although obviously I’d recommend starting with Summer!)

Thank you for reading. Writers, how do you deal with things when your confidence in your writing takes a knock?

You may also follow me on Twitter @JanBaynham, on my Jan Baynham Writer Facebook page and on Instagram janbaynham.

To find out more about me and my books, please visit my AMAZON PAGE. Thanks.