Tag Archives: books

Parents: An amazing story book on disability that every child should read

9781781322031_100dpiHad the utter joy of meeting my wonderful friend (who I met this year at Hawkesbury Lit Fest) Jo Allmond today – one half of the Jess the Goth Fairy books. Jo, along with her amazing, talented daughter (and also my very good friend) Jess, have written a series of books for children that encourage understanding of disability through beautiful, fairy flying fiction. If you have young kids, I’d urge you to get them these books – not only do they foster understanding of difference, they are delightfully written and beautifully illustrated – and would make the most wonderful TV series! It’s an amazing story book series on disability that every child should read
I’ve popped the link for you below, plus a few pics of Jo, Jess – and of course, the fairy 🙂


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Merry (bookish) Christmas :-)

Hey there!

Merry Christmas! Hope you have a cracking one with lots of rest, (nice) family time and maybe a mince pie. At our house, we’re having

A Christmas tree - made of books!
A Christmas tree – made of books!

the whole family over on the big day, but only problem is out oven’s on the blink. Cue parents-in-law having to cook the turkey for us in their oven on Christmas eve, then haul it to our place in the car…

Whatever your plans are this festive season, I hope you have a peaceful, happy time – and plenty of time to read.

Have a very merry (and bookish) Christmas. And a huge thanks for reading my blog this year 🙂

Nikki x

BREAKING: Spider has a new title & a new cover!! #Subject375

Morning!! Well, I’m posting on a Saturday, which is soooo, unlike me, but I have some (nail biting) news to share and would LOVE  to hear your opinion on it. So, here’s the BIG REVEAL….

I have a not only a NEW TITLE for my book, Spider, but a NEW COVER. Plus, on top of that it’s been chosen for the Amazon Kindle Christmas sale (whoop! Only 99p, it’s on for! Festive bargain!!)

Same book, new title & cover.
Same book, new title & cover.

I’m so excited about the new direction and very keen to hear what you think. You may be wondering why we changed the cover etc. Well, while I love Spider, the title, and lots of you guys did, too, with hindsight, the feeling was that the original title was intriguing but too ambiguous for the genre – and that with the success of the genre and authors like Charles Cummings, Tony Parsons etc, my clever, lovely publishers at Harper Collins/Mira wanted a simpler, cleaner approach to both titling and image. Makes fine sense ☺

Equally, as there is such a strong sense of place in the novel, we all wanted a cover that would reflect the setting and the tension.

On top of that, by retitling and rejacketing, we’ve put Dr Maria Martinez (God, I love her so much) at the heart of the book – she is such a strong protagonist, so getting her front and centre with book one of the Trilogy will ensure (hopefully!) readers are hooked into her journey right from the word go.

So there you have it – one book, one name change and one cracking new cover. Ooo, and only 99p on Kindle between now and Christmas (very excited about that, as, apparently, it’s a big deal to get on the Amazon xmas sale promo!! Yay!)

Would dearly love to know what you think. Am biting my knuckles in anticipation! It means so, so much to me about what you guys think of it, as, without you, my book doesn’t get read, basically, and the fact that anyone reads anything I write in the first place makes me very, very grateful indeed. I am welling up.

Ok, so, drying eyes, calming down and waiting to see what you say.

Big love, Nikki xx

PS To grab the 99p Kindle copy of Subject 375, if you fancy it (or not!) click here 🙂

Diary of a hopeful author: Why we should ALWAYS laugh at ourselves

It’s “Wednesday Wafflings” when I post the latest entry in my Diary of a Hopeful Author…Photo of a Diary

Things are going great. My book is with my agent. I’ve got to a stage where I think, heck, maybe I’m not so bad at this writing lark after all. Blimey, even my hair’s looking pretty okay these days, despite the extensive chlorine damage inflicted from a 4-day-a-week swim training commitment. (I’ve signed up for a triathlon – that’s what happens when you drink too much Cointreau on a Saturday night. Be warned…)

But, thing is, while it’s all very exciting, while my fingers are crossed solid for a very successful 2014 writing wise, here’s the thing: some things never change. I am still me. I still mess up royally. I still fall on my backside after tripping over on NOTHING. I fall off ski lifts BEFORE I get on them. I have kids who puke on me. I have knees that (literally) creak when I go up stairs. And that – those things – they are the funnies that keep everything real. Because life is bloody funny. And messy. And wholly nuts. And we should ALWAYS laugh at ourselves, because, otherwise, we end up taking ourselves far too seriously.

So, to that end, here’s something I wrote a couple of years ago about something hilarious I did. By mistake. Something nuts and daft and very, very funny. Like I said, we should always laugh at ourselves. Though, it seems I make this task easier than most…

So, to the story. One day, let us say three years ago, we were returning from a brief family trip away. At the time our girls were aged 7 and 5 and at an age when we needed to stop at the delightful motorway services for a nature break or three. My bladder never quite being the same after two babies (sorry, men folk), I also needed to stop. The girls having now falling asleep, we agreed that I would nip out to use the facilities and run back.

Now, it is important to point out here that I was , even then, in the iron-grip of writing and had a deadline to meet for a Guardian travel writing competition. Needless to say, I was keen to get out and get in with maximum speed and with my skirt not in my knickers.

All goes well. I run in, do what I need to do, and then, my mind on the Guardian job, I sprint out of the automatic doors and into the car park. Scanning the cars, my impatient autopilot kicks in, and, spotting our red Freelander, I peg it over and, hauling the door open, throw my self on to the passenger seat panting, ‘Come on! Let’s get a move on!’  Now, I don’t know about you, but do you know that dream when you are walking somewhere and then you look down and you are completely naked, in the nuddy, and you feel a wave of mortification wash over you? Can you recall that feeling? Well, this feeling is what came over me when, glancing from the corner of my eye I notice that the car seats in the back are different to my girls’ seats. Strange. And then my eyes fall to the seat covers – leather. What the? Ours are fabric. And then it hits me. I am in the wrong car. The wrong car.

I look up to see a man, mid-forties, balding, frowning, staring at me, mouth agape, finger, probably, hovering over 999. ‘OhmigodI’msorry!’ I blurt, and, faster than you can say, ‘naked dream’, I am out of that car and breathing like a phantom caller in a film sketch scanning the parking lot like a crazy woman.

When I eventually locate our family car, my husband and girls are in fits of laughter, the whole sorry episode not having missed their unforgiving eyes, and it has made their day. ‘Mum got into a strange man’s car!’ they yelp. ‘Just drive,’ I mutter. But it is a good five minutes before we can leave because my husband is laughing too much for his eyes to focus.

Any “funnies” of your own that keep things real for you? Do anything daft on a regular basis? Come on, fess up

**Out tomorrow “Thursday Thoughts” where I post my latest Gazette newspaper column to my blog…**

Diary of a hopeful author: How sports mantras can help your writing

It’s “Wednesday Wafflings” when I post the latest entry in my Diary of a Hopeful Author…Photo of a Diary

So, there I was, at Christmas, up a mountain. I was bricking it. I could see over the edge. It was snowy. My skis were on and in my hands were my poles. I was with my ski school team and, bar the odd tumble, all was safe. So why, oh why did I lose it? And I don’t just mean lose it, but totally and utterly melt right on down and get scared on the mountainside.

The reason was this: I told myself I couldn’t do it. That’s it. No more, no less. I mean, sure, the previous day I had fallen off the edge of a chair lift BEFORE I had even gotten on it. And yes, my backside, along with my skis, were sticking in the air. And of course, the nice French ski lift operator laughed and said, ‘I will take a photo.’ And, indeed, the only way to handle it was to stand, smile and wave. But that was then. Standing on near the top of a mountain with a long way down? This was now. And I was not liking it.

So, two things happened. First up, I realised I was being an idiot. Why? Because I was telling myself I couldn’t ski. Trouble is, when that sets in, that negative thought, like a germ in a petra dish, it grows. Until what you have immobilises you and you f**k up. Second, was someone (our instructor…) said I was a chicken. He was being funny. We got on really well. But that was the thing – he’d clocked me, knew what I was like. You tell me I’m a chicken? Then I’ll show you…

And then it happened. I got down the mountain. And the day after that. And the day after that. I got down by telling myself, ‘I can do it.’  (and by making chicken noises…Got some strange looks) I got down by reminding myself that if I fell, I could get up. And if anyone – anyone – called me chicken, I’d show them just what I could do. And, tell you what, I had an absolute ball in the process. The best time ever.

I’m at home now. My limbs are in one piece. My mind is rested. I re-began the final editing of my book last week. And that is when I realised something: that I was better at knowing how capable I was; that anything was possible. Skiing had taught me something about myself. It had taught me that if you think positively, you can do it. You can, quite literally, conquer mountains. And that it is a whole heap of fun on the way.

So, on that note, I give you, below, a link to the mantras that sports people use for running (my favourite sport) to get them in the right mind set for a race. My advice? Adapt them for yourself and use them when you hit a low point in your writing. Feel you can’t write a paragraph, never mind a book? Feel as if there are so many authors out there better than you? Then apply a mantra. A positive mantra. For running, they use ones like: ‘Be steady. Be strong.’ Or : ‘Better. Faster. Stronger.’

Because you see, whether it’s running or writing or getting a promotion at work, a bit of positive thinking can help you go a long way. Or, in my case down a mountain (or to a big book deal!).

So, mantras: required. Broken limbs: optional.


Out tomorrow “Thursday Thoughts” where I post my latest Gazette newspaper column to my blog…**

Diary of a hopeful author: Don’t stop believin’…

It’s “Wednesday Wafflings” when I post the latest entry in my Diary of a Hopeful Author…Photo of a Diary

You know those days, right? Those days when you are so tired you can hardly keep your eyes open – and it’s only 9 a.m. Those days where, so it seems, no matter what you do, you are just a tad bushed, a tad doubtful, a tad deflated.

Well, this past week has been one of those times for me. No biggie, just a bit of fatigue. And when those times strike, it’s easy to start feeling a bit sorry for yourself, to wallow a touch in your own thoughts, to think, ‘I can’t do this,’ or words to that affect. So when these times strike, I let myself wallow for five mins tops then I give myself a good old talking to. ‘Get a ruddy grip,’ is my fave phrase. Another is, ‘I am very lucky.’ Because lucky I am. I live in the UK, a country that is not war-torn, a country that is not ravaged by drought, or by 200-mile-an-hour hurricanes. I live in a country that has free healthcare and universal education and really, really generous people. My house is warm. I have food in the fridge. My health is pretty great, thanks, and, oh, I have the best family IN THE WORLD.

I could go on, but, instead, at this festive time of year, I will leave the sayings to another, and that other is rock band, Journey. And the saying is this: ‘Don’t stop believing.’ Ok, the cast of Glee said it, too, but, cheesy though it is, the song is bang on. When times are tricky, no matter why – writing block, work sucks, your car’s broken – we should not stop believing that everything will be great, because we are the lucky ones, and we owe it to make the most of what we have.

So, on that note, here’s a You Tube clip to fire you. It’s an amazing choir of kids in New York, called PS22. There’s something about kids singing popular songs that just makes the whole thing more poignant, that just makes you pause for a second and think how lucky we all are.  So this week, I bring you the kids of PS22 and their version of Journey’s, ‘Don’t stop believing’. Brilliant stuff. Have a good week.

Out tomorrow “Thursday Thoughts” where I post my latest Gazette newspaper column to my blog…**

Diary of a hopeful author: How schools kill creativity

It’s “Wednesday Wafflings” when I post the latest entry in my Diary of a Hopeful Author…Photo of a Diary

I remember my school days. Do you remember your school days? And how where they for you? Fun? Deeply profound? Or mind numbingly boring ala the film Ferris Bueller’s Day Off in the scene where the kids are asleep on the desks, dribbling, as the teacher’s mouth hangs open like a carp, saying, ‘Bueller….Bueller.’

School’s a funny thing. It’s like educational marmite: you either love it or hate it. Call me a nerd, but I loved school. Not the horrendous who’s friend with who bit – you can leave that stuffed in a locker – but I mean the study bit. Come sixth form, and I may have gone off the rails a tad (I went to a college run by nun’s..), staged a small teenage rebellion, but I still loved a good study.

Thing is, as a writer, I think the big question is, does school do the job? In terms of encouraging creativity, how do schools perform and could they do any better? Take that one step further, and how, once you have left school and you are dumped by  the busy motorway of life, does school equip us to be creative?

So this week, as I put the final finishes to my book before it goes off to Adam the Agent, I’m taking us back to school. But don’t panic. This back to school is via TED talks and Sir Ken Robinson with his formidable, thought-provoking, hilarious  talk on how schools kill creativity – and what they should do to win it back. You don’t have to have anything to do with a school to get some handy thoughts out of this one.

Bell’s gone. End of lesson. Cue Sir Ken Robinson…

Does school kill creativity? How did cool play a part in your career, in your writing? Let me know. 

Out tomorrow “Thursday Thoughts” where I post my latest Gazette newspaper column to my blog…**

Diary of a hopeful author: funny alert: “Really” with Amy & Seth

It’s “Wednesday Wafflings” when I post the latest entry in my Diary of a Hopeful Author…

Photo of a Diary

I am in the middle of a huge (and, please God, final) edit. And I have been writing while simultaneously laughing my head off and spitting my food out all over my laptop to sketches from Saturday Night Live – the mecca of seriously funny writing.

The one posted below is a “Really” sketch with Seth Meyers, Amy Poehler and Tina Fey. What’s that now? You haven’t seen it? Really?

Enjoy. Happy writing…

Out tomorrow “Thursday Thoughts” where I post my latest Gazette newspaper column to my blog…**