A Rising Tide

It was just another Friday afternoon when I checked my emails. Nothing about the day gave any hint of extraordinary. I had begun my weekend wind down and was thinking about squeezing my ambitious writing plans into the limited time I had available. Most writers still have day jobs, me included. We cram ‘normal’ into space we’d prefer to use for writing and dream that one day we’ll be able to unshackle ourselves from being beholden to ‘the man’. But this Friday was not that day; this Friday was about planning and sorting and organising in anticipation of my carved out two-hour window on Saturday. I checked my email and my world lit up…

A quick back track – about 18 months ago I entered a short story competition, I didn’t win or get placed but my short story did make the anthology, and for that I was grateful.

OK, back to Friday. The email was from the chair of the short story competition. He wanted me to know he’d felt that my story was by far the best both then and now, and he wanted me to see the comments he’d made at the time which had not been forwarded –

A superb and sensitive piece of writing. I loved the gentle way in which the story unfolded. By far my chosen best entry.  Such a caring piece of well-observed storytelling. A delightful, fabulous story. Full of sensitive humour; warm, insightful descriptions and heart-warming, painful truths. I cried.  A winner!

Please write again Nicole… more and more…

I was blown away, literally blown away. I have never ever received such an email. My flushed cheeks reddened further, and I felt a little overwhelmed. Here was someone who did not know me, who had nothing to gain by contacting me, yet his email’s effects are still positively reverberating. I do not write to be validated, my words order better on paper than in my head, and through them, I can explore diamond truths hidden just beneath the surface. Most of the time, I do not know why I write; I just know that I must. But writing is a lonely pursuit and feelings of inadequacy, of being a fraud are never far away. Receiving this feedback was bloody marvelous! Whenever things get covered in mire or my work gets rejected for the umpteenth time, I will look at this email – hell, I might even frame it!

I have shared my experience to encourage you. You may never know the affect of your words, but know that kindness is a gift to pay forward, and it matters! If you have read something that has touched you, tell the author – no matter how long it’s been. Your words will always have an impact and kindness and encouragement are what we all need.

International Woman’s Day 2020

Happy International Women’s Day brothers and sisters! In celebration I wanted to share with you some of the woman writers whose books have inspired me over the last 5 or so years. This is by no means a complete list, and given eternity perhaps I could fill it. I have highlighted only the last 5 years because we all know the classics which have been listed to death! The books on my ever growing list are those which for one reason or another have had a profound effect on me. Books can do so many things, they can educate, inspire and help you make sense of the world. Any book that makes me feel is more precious than gold, and the books listed below did exactly that. As the wonderful Maya Angelou said


“I’ve learned that people will forget what you said, people will forget what you did, but people will never forget how you made them feel.”
― Maya Angelou

If you haven’t read some of these books I would urge you most strongly to seek them out and allow them to work their magic. In no particular order…

  • Sealskin ~ Su Bristow
  • The Goldfinch ~ Donna Tartt
  • The Hiding Places ~ Kathryn Webb
  • A Little Life ~ Hanya Yanagihara
  • Eleanor Oliphant is Completely Fine ~ Gail Honeymoon
  • The Salt Path ~ Raynor Winn
  • The Giver of Stars ~ Jojo Moyes
  • Grown Ups ~ Marian Keyes
  • The Binding ~ Bridget Collins
  • The Miniaturist ~ Jessie Burton

You can find all links below. Happy reading!

Gifts Worth Giving…

In this crazy world of fake news and dwindling access to reality, books are more important than ever. As a child I stood outside my local library many times waiting for it to open. I was desperate to trace my fingers across the shelves and find books that would stimulate, educate and inform.

I’m saddened to think that children today have far less opportunity than I did to access such a rich seam of knowledge. Libraries encourage freedom to think, they give you courage to be who you are. Almost a fifth of UK libraries have closed since 2010 – it is a shocking statistic.

Organisations which support reading projects get a big thumbs up from me, which is why I want to draw your attention to the charity Give a book. They promote reading for pleasure and give books where they will make a difference. They work within many settings including prisons and schools across the UK.

From December 3rd – December 10th if you donate to the charity through The Big Christmas Give link here your donation will be match funded!

Poor reading is linked to economic disadvantage and reduced life opportunities. If you truly want to give a gift worth giving please donate what you can.

Photo credit ~ Jarred Craig Unsplash

Update

According to the Cambridge Dictionary to update is to~

“Make something more modern or suitable for use now by adding new information or changing its design.”

That is a lot to live up to, but I’ll give it a go!

I live in a continual state of updating, whether personal or professional. I think the key is to keep pressing forwards – a blog post here, a  red pen edit there, a finished novel here, another red pen edit there, a new blend of coffee here – coffee, did someone say coffee? I’ll admit I am not the best blogger in the world, and as life crowds in my blog gets pushed down the list of ‘to do’s’. The frequency of my posts leaves a lot to be desired, but like any good cookie will tell you (digital not edible), there is always something going on in the background. Continue reading “Update”

These are the Days

These are the days that seem to vanish into clouds. Days when each past moment is forgotten and only now remains. Am I talking nonsense? Quite possibly, but as fellow writers will affirm the moment really is ‘the moment’ and on a good day it lasts forever.

I apologise if I have lost you, I am of course talking about writing. It has been the best of days, it has been the busiest of days and I wouldn’t change it for the world.

Now time is precious so I won’t spend hours talking about writing, because the more I spend chatting the less time I can devote to actually writing or reading or doing whatever I’m supposed to be doing which is embarking on another adventure… So here’s a re cap…

Imagine – you have 1 day to go until your holiday, a holiday you have looked forward to, planned for, I mean really planned for. It involves the whole family, boats, lists, internet searches.

You finish work (your day job), you pack the dogs off to their holiday home, you pick up dinner and now its time to pack. But wait, what’s that? A thought, an idea? You shake it off because you don’t have time, not now, not today. Today is all about planning, being organised. The idea refuses to leave and renders you incapable of rational thought. OK, so it will only take 10 minutes to write down, then you can pack and feel smug. You won’t be the one holding everyone up, you’ll be ready…

The reality…

Six hours later, you crawl into bed. You’ve have 4 hours sleep and still haven’t packed. If you could go back and change things would you? Hell no! Because that’s what it’s all about, that’s what’s so glorious about writing and I love it!

So that was my day – how was yours?

Hey Shorty!

This week I received an exciting piece of news. A short story I entered into a competition made the Short List. As a writer it is the sort of news that sends tingles down your spine and puts a smile on your face.

Rejection is part and parcel of the everyday when you write, it comes with the territory. So when you get a short list or long list placing you can be assured that your story has had an impact – it is a wonderful feeling. Some days writing is thankless and hard, it can feel as if you are wading through treacle. You try your hardest to make your story sing only to have it land flat. Moments that make you fly are so important. They serve as a reminder that sometimes, just sometimes you can hold a tune!

Thankfully I do not have to wait too long for the results.

The Journey…

My current work in progress has been a long hard slog. It has danced fast and slow, and at times come to a halt. There were moments when I wondered if it was to be an ‘eternal’ work in progress, destined to be placed on the back burner and dusted off every now and again. But I have pulled myself together and viola!

As many of you know, I have been working on an historical fiction novel for the past few years. This has involved an enormous amount of research. I have read books both fiction and non fiction, spoken to historians, and tried to get under the skin of the time period. I have realised that amidst the changes brought on by moderisation and technology, hidden within the cracks of wars and disasters, lies a truth which transcends everything – we, ‘people’, we don’t really change that much. Certain aspects of who we are have remained constant. Like night following day we continue to love and laugh and cry. It has been a wonderful journey, full of so much richness and discovery. Quite what I shall do once I finally hang up the red pen on this one I’m not sure, but one thing I do know is that it has been well worth the ride!

Happy New Year – Again!

2018 spat me into 2019 before I felt ready! The good news is now I’m ready! So, belated New Year greetings!

I have a plan for 2019, well sort of. I slumped my way towards the end of last year after an action packed Spring, Summer and Autumn. I don’t have a crystal ball but this year is not about puppies or kittens or any other sort of fluffy fur-balls as far as I’m aware. This year is about my writing. Thanks to my wonderful diary courtesy of Charlie at Urban Writers Retreats I can hold myself to account. I shall be either patting myself on the back, or slapping myself around the face, depending on how things are going! I’m happy to report so far no faces have been slapped! 🤣 Happy New Year!