Head Space in Oxford

A few weeks ago I packed up my pens, notebooks & laptop and headed to the wonderful city of Oxford.

Every year I endeavour to find a few days to cut myself off, put my head down, and do nothing but write. Time to fully immerse myself in my writing is as rare as hens teeth in my world so, when the time comes around I grab it with both hands and dive in.

This was my first time ‘retreating’ in Oxford, and it did not disappoint. I stayed at a wonderful place owned and run by nuns (yes, seriously I did), and at times it felt like I had landed somewhere between Call the Midwife and Inspector Morse!

There was a library, a chapel and a TV room, but I spent pretty much all of my time writing in my room. My friend and fellow writer Rosie Canning and I would get together each day over lunch and dinner but outside of that is was all about the words!

I had time to think, time to stare into space, and time to imagine. In the few days I was away I managed to write over 7000 words. I was as pleased as punch with my achievement and it gave me a much needed kick up the behind! My WIP now stands at just under 30,000 words, and with a fair wind and perhaps another few days away in Oxford later this year anything could happen!

How could you not write?? Just look at those windows!
A well deserved meal out on our last night in Oxford and a cheeky glass of rose to boot!

Aftermath ~ A Response by Writers to the Covid 19 Pandemic

This week sees the release of Aftermath a collection of work by writers in response to the ongoing Covid 19 pandemic. When disaster strikes most writers turn to words – I am no different and my piece ‘Sailing’ is featured.

Aftermath will have your emotions roller coasting this way and that. It features messages of hope, cries for help and random acts of kindness in a variety of forms. It includes short stories, poetry, flash fiction, memoir, script and everything in between.

We are all living in extraordinary times and this collection of mainly fictional tales offers insight into what the world looks like from multiple perspectives. It has been wonderful to be involved in such an important and insightful part of history making, thank you Bridge House Publishing.

Aftermath is available in both hardback and e-book direct from Bridge House Publishing here or via Amazon below. I hope you enjoy reading it.

May Tidings

UK bookshops have recently reopened (hurrah) and this alone makes me feel a whole lot better. I’ve had my first vaccination, with my second one due in a few weeks time – things are definitely on the up!

Like so many I’ve now had 2 lockdown birthdays (no I’m not the Queen), and this years celebrations were a vast improvement on last years. We managed to sit outside and have brunch at our local vineyard a few weekends ago, last year it was a take away curry and another box set on Netflix!

On the writing front I am still rocking the two book parallel writing theme, and have set down 10,000 historical and 3,000 contemporary new words. Whilst this is good news it could have been a lot more. With no writing retreats to run off to, juggling my day job and everything else has proved a real challenge. I think this is true for a lot of people who’ve been working from home. My day job, or as some like to call it my ‘real job’ (heathens!) has crowded into the spaces where my writing used to be; what was once my sacred writing space is now my day job office. With restrictions easing I’m hoping to claw it back and actually leave the house to work at some point in the future – now wouldn’t that be nice?

On the plus side I have been reading tons in an attempt to decompress from endless Teams meetings. Don’t get me wrong, I think virtual engagement is a wonderful thing but there is just so so much of it. You can still be working without the need to be on screen the whole time.

I recently re visited The Handmaid’s Tale by Margaret Atwood – this book gets me every time. I find her writing inspiring, and visceral, and scarily real, and absolutely bloody brilliant!

As I stroll around my garden I stare down at the daisies. I recall a line from the above mentioned book which makes me smile.

“Don’t let the bastards grind you down.”

And on that cheery note….

A Pocket Full of Words Podcast

I have always loved short stories and today marks a first for me. I have recorded my first ever short story podcast!

Each month I shall be adding one of my short stories to my Pocket Full of Words series of podcasts. This month I’ve decided to record my heartfelt story of love and loss – Come Tilly Come. I’ll warn you now, this one’s a bit sad!

All of my stories are under 30 minutes in length, and designed to be listened to in one sitting. So if you’re making the tea, on the bus, or just need to go someplace else for a short while, please give my podcast a listen. I’d love to know what you think.

I am not one for public speaking and have always been content to be somewhere in the shadows so this has really challenged me. It’s funny when you hear your voice played back, I thought goodness, is that really how I speak??

My Pocket Full of Words podcasts will eventually be available across all platforms, currently it is available on Spotify.

I think I sound a bit nervous, and am hoping as the months go by I’ll sound a lot more confident but I can’t promise anything!

I hope you enjoy listening to Come Tilly Come 🙂

Break a Leg…

I’ve written this post in the 5 minutes or so I am allowed to keep my leg in what’s considered a normal position. It’s fair to say that February has so far been anything but normal. Let me explain, we have a feral cat who likes to pop it’s ginger head into our garden about tea time looking for tasty snacks. Of course, there are always tasty snacks to be found left by yours truly. Last Saturday was particularly rainy and grim and with my garden shoes on and cat food in hand I went to leave said tasty snacks at the bottom of the garden. Unfortunately I never made it that far, and with about as much grace as a baby elephant I slipped on a very muddy section of grass. I wished it had been more poetic, but it wasn’t. However for comedy value it was exceptional! A quick dash to A&E ,and a few hours later I am now the proud owner of a broken fibular and dislocated ankle! Why thank you very much 🙂

This week has been a steep learning curve. I have had to negotiate crutches, elevate my leg for what feels like forever, and avoid searching for ‘broken ankle recovery time’ on the internet! I am due an operation over the coming days and then the long road to recovery begins.

Looking on the bright side here’s three positive things that I have learnt this week:

  • My upper body strength is improving
  • You can indeed write whilst staring up at the ceiling
  • The power of a small bell is vastly underrated!

I’ll keep you posted on my one legged adventures…

If you are stuck for something to read, pop on over to my little bookshop and see if anything tickles your fancy!

When you’re bored and decide to ‘pimp up’ your plaster cast!

A Pocket Full of Words

It is an honour to have my small piece ‘A Remembered Dance’ published in the literary journal From The Depths 2020. My Penny Fiction piece of exactly 20 words can be found wriggled in among some amazing authors. From The Depths is a beautiful journal full of poetry, prose poetry, and fiction which is released once a year in both print and digital formats. It is published by Haunted Waters Press, an independent publisher located in the Shadow of the Blue Ridge Mountains of Virginia. If you haven’t come across them before I urge you to pay them a visit, it really is the most beautiful literary journal and can be found here.

From the Depths 2020

Happy Reading 🙂

Haunted Waters Press

Well, There We Have It!

‘Well, what a rotten year,’ said everyone in the world!
‘Can we do things differently next year?’ asked everyone.
‘Yes, let’s, but where do we begin?’
‘With a small step, one foot in front of the other, see?’
‘OK, Iet’s try.’


This year there is no looking back, just forward. There is no thinking what could have, should have, would have been. No New Years resolutions, or eating less, exercising more mantras. Today I have set my eye’s toward the horizon and will be waiting on tomorrow’s sunrise.
From my house to yours here’s wishing you health and happiness in abundance for 2021. Stay safe and well and I hope to see you on the other side . Happy New Year & here’s to 2021 – Nicole xx

A Christmas Eve Tradition

In Iceland since 1944 it has been traditional to give a book on Christmas Eve. Unlikely other parts of Europe, during the Second World War paper was not rationed, and the tradition of Jólabókaflód was born. Whilst reading and storytelling has been a intrinsic part of Icelandic culture for centuries Jólabókaflód, (loosely translated as ‘Christmas book flood’) has been instrumental in continuing to birth a wonderful nation of book lovers.

I often think of a tradition as something that began way back in the annals of time. Now, whilst 1944 may be just that to many, it is still our recent past, and that got me thinking. Broadly speaking you need three things for something to become a tradition – a large group of people participating, the activity being passed from one generation to the next, and respect and acknowledgement of the past.

This year, my family will be receiving a book on Christmas Eve – who knows, one day this may become a family tradition!

Here’s wishing you all a Happy & Healthy Christmas.

Nicole x

A Vacation for Your Mind

In my opinion, their are few things lovelier than browsing the shelves of a book shop. All those wonderful unread stories sitting patiently waiting to be explored, it’s like being able to choose a vacation for your mind, something I think we all need right now.

With continuing restrictions thumbing fresh pages and getting that wonderful woody hit of paper is not always possible. However, you can still do your bit to support those small businesses who have been hit badly by this pandemic. Before you take the ‘major corp’ easy option and press the ‘buy now’ button, take a breath and think. Is there a local business that needs you more?

Local books shops are a part of our communities – your community! Local booksellers are a font of knowledge, and can often recommend new and exciting books you may not otherwise have thought of. By definition of where they are (ie. near you), they can point you in the direction of local authors or books with a local twist. Even if you can not visit the shop in person there is still a way you can support them.

Bookshop.org is an online bookshop with a mission to financially support local independent bookshops. Their aim is to build up the network around local book shops and those who support them in an effort to keep local bookshops an integral part of our culture and community. You can use the map to look up your local bookshop, buy online and the store you’ve chosen gets 100% of the profits.

If you’d like some recommendations please take a peak at the books I’d be happy to recommend here. All the books featured within my Bookshop.org store front I have read. I’ll be adding to the lists regularly. So, what are you waiting for? Happy Shopping!

Disclosure: If you buy books linked to my site, I may earn a commission from Bookshop.org, whose fees support independent bookshops.