Fault, writing

You can barely see the scar now

Vintage inscription made by old typewriter

I’m back! Well, kind of. Maybe a little.

When I released Fault last Autumn, I had no idea how much my confidence was going to be shaken by the experience. After all, it was my third release and I was happier with it than I had been with my previous two books. I knew that the book world had changed since my previous release but I hadn’t appreciated quite how much until then. Fault didn’t manage more than a whisper amongst the many sellers shouting about their wares. I don’t want to whinge, and I know my reduced online presence was a significant contributing factor, but the whole experience hurt, financially and emotionally.

Other than attending a signing being run by friends, I’ve stayed in the shadows to lick my wounds. I’ve been researching and doing a bit of writing. But mainly I’ve been asking some big questions of myself.

As much as I love to write, I can’t afford for it to be an expensive hobby; and publishing Fault was a very expensive lesson. I know that I don’t have to pay for editing, a nice cover, formatting, a release tour etc. but I also know that I couldn’t put something out there that wasn’t as good as I could make it – and therein lies the problem. I can afford to write but I can’t afford to publish in a way that I would be proud of.

So what does this mean?

My head tells me that I should continue to write (because I would miss it too much not to) but not to publish. My heart tells me I should trust it will all work out fine with my next book.

Anyway, I am writing and I guess we’ll have to see if it ever makes it beyond a Word file.

Thanks for reading.


Uncategorized, writing

Tick Tock

Pocket watches on chain isolated

There’s a line in Andrew Marvell’s poem To His Coy Mistress that I love: ‘But at my back I always hear / Time’s winged chariot hurrying near’.  The voice in the poem is that of a man persuading a woman to consummate their relationship and it always enabled some great classroom discussions when I taught it.

However, it is one of those images that sticks in your mind so much that they become part of your own language.  Like many people trying to cram as much as they can into life, I am very conscious of the sound of that winged chariot.  As a teacher, my daily work life is split into units of time, all of which have responsibilities allocated to them.  At home, my husband works shifts which also dictate how certain pockets of time need to be spent.  Inevitably, and as I’ve blogged before, the only flexibility my time often has is my writing.  I took a break a few months ago to help give me more time for the things that were more pressing then.

But, this summer break, my writing life has been put to the top of the to-do list.  We are not taking a lengthy summer break, I have not over-committed myself socially as I usually do, and I’ve made myself sit and write before doing anything else.

And guess what?  I’ve finished the draft of Fault!  That is only the start of the release process though and there are now many deadlines and dates to add into the calendar.  Once I have had feedback from my beta readers, I will return to my manuscript and try to make it as good as it can be.  I have to send it to my editor in early September, work on their suggested changes, and then send to my formatter in early October.  And, fingers crossed that the above stages go without a hitch, Fault will be ready to be released on 21st October!

Thank you to everyone who has patiently waited for Fault, who has supported me during the dark days when writing wasn’t happening, who has kept their faith in me.  I hope you feel that 21st October brings you enough in return.




Looking Into The Light

Light bulb

The last time I posted was to share that I was taking a break from being an author.  My new non-writing job had taken over an even bigger share of my life and I was struggling to keep up with the book-world.  It had become stressful which is ironic, given that the reason I started writing was as a coping mechanism at a tough point in my life.

A few months have passed and I now have a slightly different perspective on the role of writing in my life.  You see those light bulbs in the photo?  Imagine all of them are on; that’s what my day to day work-life is like.  I love my job but it’s mentally and emotionally challenging.  The voices in my head are incessant, chattering away about every different decision that has to be made.  Keeping those bulbs lit meant I hadn’t got the energy to power the one that represented me as an author.  The character’s voices were the only ones I could allow myself to switch off.  So, how has this changed?

Over the Christmas break, I allowed myself to open up the Word document of my current work in progress (that’s been in progress for almost eighteen months!) and re-read it.  All of a sudden, I was transported back into the world I had created.  I stayed at home for a couple of days and wrote, just for the joy of it.  And do you know what?  Those work voices shut up.  For the first time in six months, I could hear myself think about something other than work.  It was wonderful.

And that’s when I realised that now, more than ever, I need to write.  I need to give my brain a break from the stress of work and the decisions that affect other people’s lives.  I need to give myself the time to be creative, to inhabit a space where the decisions I make don’t have consequences for real people in real life.

I’m sure someone would be able to explain the process that means, by switching on that one bulb, the others go off.  From my Physics GCSE days, I’m sure there’s a circuit involved in the explanation.  But what I do know is that, by switching to that one bulb, the room gets a little darker, more relaxed and the buzz of electricity quiets to a gentle hum.  And, although the opportunities are infrequent, I’m determined to grasp them.

I’m writing for me again.  And it feels good.

Curve, Heart, writing

London Calling

London love - heart with many vector icons

In a few days’ time I will be attending the British Book Affair signing in London AS AN AUTHOR!  To say I’m feeling apprehensive is like saying that Edward Cullen was a little interested in blood, or Mr Darcy has a small cottage known as Pemberley…well, you get the idea.

I’ve blogged before about being a natural introvert and finding the whole concept of talking to people I don’t know challenging.  I know, I spend much of my time talking to groups of thirty young people – but that is a completely different beast.  Trust me!

I love social media; and the security of communicating from behind the safety of my laptop or iPad.  And I would never have got to this point as a writer (see, I still struggle with using the word author!) if it wasn’t for the online Indie community.  Possibly the best feeling is receiving a message or email from a reader and chatting with them about Curve or Heart – and inevitably more!  But every time I have to step away from the screen and talk face to face, I freeze, wishing that I could just click my heels three times and find myself back home.

When I went to the Edinburgh signing, it was lovely to meet up with a couple of people I’d got to know online, one of whom has become a very good friend since then.  But I could count on one hand the number of non-authors I spoke to – and that’s because it’s very difficult to ask them to sign a book without talking to them!  At the Peterborough signing, I spoke to a couple of bloggers and a number of authors about the signing experience as London was weighing heavy on my mind – and my lovely sister-in-law was making me talk to people. Everyone was friendly, some amazingly so, and my troubled mind was temporarily stilled.  But starting every single one of those conversations was so difficult.

Since then, I’ve channeled my nervous energy into swag designing / making and writing my third book, trying to pretend that the London signing is ages away.

I can hide no more.

If you’re coming to London, please do come over and say hello.  Talk to me about books (they don’t even have to be mine), the other authors, yourself, anything really.  Please.  And if we’ve had any sort of communication online, tell me – it will make it easier if I feel I know you already!

I hope to blog again, after the signing, about how wonderful the experience was and how much I enjoyed talking to people…

Wish me luck!



Backwards and Forwards


In my other life, I am a teacher and there is a fantastic blogging trend called #nurture1415.  Each year many educators use the same structure to reflect on five positives from the year that has passed, and to share five hopes for the year ahead.  I’m going to blatantly steal the concept for my obligatory end of year blog…


  1. Writing.  In notebooks, in pencil. This turned out to be the only way I could draft Jake’s sections of Heart and, thanks to him, I have rediscovered the joy of writing longhand. Hmm, notebooks with tactile covers. If you’re ever wondering what to get a writer..!
  2. Books. Maybe Someday and The Law of Moses: best reads of the year.  Both made me want to be a better writer but also think the bar was maybe beyond my reach.
  3. Critique partners. Writing doesn’t get any easier.  Seriously, there were moments when, if I felt I had any choice, I would have given up on writing.  However, my wonderful critique partner Karli got me through, and helped to make Heart so much better than it started out.
  4. Hearts. Forget rats and goats…this has been the year of the Heart for me.  From publishing my second book to my themed Christmas tree to my endlessly supportive husband, I’m thankful for every heart of the last year.
  5. Online friends. Through my writing, I’ve made some fantastic friends who mean so much to me. Social media at its best.


  1. Signings. I am attending my first signing as a writer (well, two actually!).  As scared as I am that I will be the only writer at her table, being studiously ignored by hundreds of attendees, all of who are fangirling over everyone else, I know that I need to push myself out of my comfort zone.  I am naturally reserved and the idea of having to be so sociable freaks me out!
  2. Writing. I want to finish the third novel in the Define series and then try something different.  I fancy trying a historical novel, but am worried that it will be a step too far for the small but loyal fanbase I am growing.
  3. Time. I don’t believe in resolutions but I aim to spend less time lurking on social media and more time writing…are you laughing at me?!
  4. Reading. I want to read books which challenge and inspire me, not more of the same.  If I’m going to push myself as a writer, I need to do the same as a reader. This may mean moving away from Goodreads to broaden my recommendations.
  5. People. I hope that I can give back to friends (and I include my husband in this!) as much as I get from them.  Friendship makes the world go round, don’t you know?


Much love.


Heart, writing

In My Heart of Heart

heart illustration

Shakespeare coined the phrase ‘in my heart of heart’ (it’s said by Hamlet) to describe the centre of one’s heart.  As Heart is about to be released, I’ve naturally been doing a lot of thinking about who is at the heart of my Heart. There are so many people who have contributed, directly and indirectly, and I have tried to say thank you in the acknowledgements to Heart.  Just in case you don’t get to see them there, I’m going to copy them here as well, just leaving out the one spoiler-y thank you.  These people fill my heart (not Heart!) with gratitude.


It is less than two years since I started writing, yet I can no longer imagine a life without it. As much as I write for me, I know that I write for my words to be read and so my first gift of thanks must go to you: to every person who has read Heart or Curve. And if you’ve left a review, it’s an even bigger gift, wrapped in shiny paper. And if that review was completely spoiler-free, then this gift is nestling in a small box, topped by a discreetly expensive bow. Never forget how much those reviews mean to authors trying to get themselves known in the great book universe.

Thank you.

There were some individual moments which helped me to bring Heart to life. Watching Holly get a tattoo at the wonderful Shakespeare Ink (yes, the shop and Dave really exist) turned a smidgeon of an idea into two of my favourite scenes. At a couple of dark writer moments, Joanne and Lisa kept me going: I’ve met both through writing and their friendship and support knows no bounds.

Thank you.

If you fell in love with Jake, you have Karli Perrin to thank. She was my critique partner and her input transformed Heart. Seriously, you wouldn’t be reading this if it wasn’t for Karli.

Thank you.

As with Curve, my beta readers cared for me enough to read the draft of Heart and give me the feedback that was easier to receive from friends than via reviews. Brittainy, Hayley, Helen, Holly, Joanne, Lisa, Niki and Sam: you are such wonderful friends at exactly the right time that I need it.

Thank you.

Before writing Heart came writing Curve. Before writing Curve came reading Hopeless…and everything else Colleen Hoover had written. I just wouldn’t have started writing without the mighty CoHo. Once Curve was out there in the great book universe, it remained a speck, rarely seen, known only to a select few. Until Colleen read the copy I gave her at a signing. And posted about it on Facebook. Twice. My book went from a speck to a small star, still surrounded by millions of the same, but giving out a little more light and more easily spotted. Via Colleen I also met Weblich: you know who you are and your support and friendship has made so many of my days brighter.

Thank you.



Most importantly.

My husband.

My heart.

Thank you.

Thank you.

Thank YOU.


Putting the pieces together

Heart Jigsaw

Last year, when I was writing Curve, I honestly had no idea what I was doing.  Google and the Indie writing community taught me everything.  I hadn’t intended to publish my writing so there was never any big plan or sense of deadlines.  I was just writing, writing, reading, writing.  There were key milestones: setting up my author page on Facebook, deciding to publish, putting together my first teaser.  But the focus was always the writing.

This year, writing Heart has been so much more difficult.  Maybe it’s because the story for Curve had been burning inside me for a couple of years.  Maybe it’s because my other job has been so much more demanding this year.  Maybe it’s because social media is the easiest way to procrastinate.  It’s probably all of those things.  However, this year has also been affected by knowing the scale of the undertaking.  Last year, I only ever had to worry about the nest step; I had no concept of how many more there were going to be.

This year, I know what it takes to write and self-publish a novel.  I know how many pieces have to be fitted in to complete the jigsaw – and this is one of those 1000 piece jigsaws.  You know the ones – all sky and fields.  The ones where, once you’ve got the straight edges sorted, you’re overwhelmed by the idea of how to get the bloody thing finished.  The ones where you reach a point, several times over, when you consider packing it back in the box and hiding it at the back of the wardrobe.

Writing Heart, and it’s still not finished, has been one of the biggest challenges I’ve faced.  I’ve had to be honest with myself about my limitations and my weaknesses.  I’ve had to take criticism, from both Curve reviewers and myself, that has made me doubt myself.  Yes, I’ve thought about giving up writing and just getting back to being a reader.  Many times.

But I know that writing is an important part of my personal jigsaw: without it, I wouldn’t feel complete.  The lows of being a writer do not outweigh the highs: the days when the ideas come so fast, your typing can’t keep up or receiving a message from a reader.  It’s just difficult to remember that sometimes, when all of the pieces are starting to look depressingly similar to each other.

So, thank you to everyone who has helped me find that next piece and keep going.

We’re almost done!

feminism, writing

Girl Power

Jane Eyre quote


Inevitably as a writer, the negative comments in reviews resonate more than the positive feedback.  It is incredibly hard not to take them personally or, worse still, respond to the reviewer.  However, one criticism of Curve has irked me more than the rest: the idea that Cass should be a stronger young woman in the face of what happens to her.  That, in some way, she is wrong for her mis-placed blaming of Flynn.  As I’m now in the depths of writing Heart, with Neve as the central character, I know I will be again opening myself up to criticism when it is published in the autumn.  Again, I have not written a ball-breaking heroine.   Deliberately.

I am a feminist.  I believe that every woman, every girl, deserves to be treated with equality and respect.  I believe that, if women had equal status in the decision-making spheres of government and large corporations, the world would be a fairer, kinder place to live.

But the reality for many girls is that they have not been brought up in a family or culture or education system that means they have a strong sense of self-worth by the end of their teenage years.  Heck, I’m forty, with a decent career and a great relationship, but I still have self-esteem issues (you only need to read my last post as proof!).

When I shaped Cass and Neve, I consciously wanted to create Everygirls.  Not strong heroines for readers to look up to and emulate from the outset.  Real girls, with issues and worries, struggling to make sense of the world and what it does to them.  I want readers to empathise with the situations that confront them, and the decisions they have to make in response.  Sometimes they make mistakes – but don’t we all?

As a reader, I have always been drawn to the character arc as much, if not more than, as the narrative.  I love the way Jane Eyre is shaped by Charlotte Bronte.  The fact that it is Jane who, in the end, chooses to return and is, in many ways, the hero of the story, is a fantastic message for female readers.  Yet she starts her time with Rochester very much lacking in equality and confidence.  The events of the narrative drive her character development – we see her change and flourish.

Life isn’t easy, especially if you’re a girl.  All we can hope for is that, when faced with what it throws at us, we are able to make the best decisions we can.  If they prove to be the correct decision, great.  If they don’t, that we learn from them with grace.  I hope that my readers see that in Cass and Neve: girls like themselves just doing the best they can.

Like you are.

Like I am.



Four little words

Hi.  I’m Nicola Hudson.

I am an author.

My novel’s called Curve.

Have you read it?

Would you like to?


I am naturally shy, verging on the introverted.  I feel really uncomfortable meeting people I don’t know.  And I have that seemingly inbuilt English reserve.  So I’m sure it comes as no surprise that I’m ill at ease with the whole concept of self-promotion.   I’m more than happy to chat with people on Facebook or Twitter but the concept of real life interaction as an author scares the bejeebus out of me.  I mean, how do I even start that conversation?  My full-time job means that I can’t have a public identity as an author so there’s not even a bio pic to make the introductions any easier; nobody would have the foggiest who they are talking to, unless I introduce myself.


Why am I worried about this?  In November, I went to the London author event and got to meet many authors.  As a reader.  I fangirled with the best of the many lovely people in attendance – and stood in almost silent awe at Colleen Hoover’s table.  I had self-published Curve three weeks before the event so you’d think I’d have dropped it into conversations left, right and centre, wouldn’t you?  Wrong.  Other than a pre-arranged meet-up with another author I know through Twitter, I managed to mention it to a grand total of three people.  Yes, three.  Now, maybe part of it was naivete, having not thought to take any swag etc. with me, but almost all of it was not having the courage to put it into words that I was an author.  Any combination, or all, of those simple four word sentences above would have done the trick, but I couldn’t do it.


In July, there is another author event, in Edinburgh.  I have tickets but have still not sorted my transport or accommodation.  Whilst the expense is niggling at me (it’s the cost of the cover and formatting for Heart), I know that my procrastination is about more than that.  Do I go just as a reader and not mention my author name?  There’s something to be said for my work-enforced pseudonym, after all.  Or do I try to adopt a more confident persona and brave it out as Nicola Hudson?  Because, either way, there is an element of duplicity to my choice.  Which is why a part of me is secretly hoping that Flybe run out of seats on the only flights I can fit around work.  I still don’t know what I’m doing, even though there are a couple of people I would like to meet after getting to know them on social media.


Maybe it’s shyness.

Maybe it’s because I don’t fully think of myself as an author.

Maybe someday it will get easier.





Mothers and Daughters

baby nic bath

In the UK at least, tomorrow is Mother’s Day and so it seemed appropriate to blog about the unique bond that exists between mothers and daughters.

In Curve, the relationship between Cass and her mum is an integral part of the story.  As is often the case, Cass lives with her mum and stepdad, which brings its own tensions.  Cass is on the verge of going to university and it is clear that, whilst this is daunting for her, it is an idea that upsets her mum, even though she is determined that Cass will become a strong, independent woman.  However, when Cass suffers a horrible event (no spoilers here!), it is her mum who supports her and is there for her.  By the end, their relationship is definitely stronger and more honest.

The reshaping of relationships with parents is a critical part of becoming an adult so feels very appropriate to the New Adult category,  Yes, at that age we often move away from home and parents, and sometimes the distance is more than physical, but, in my experience, most people still end up with a close relationship with their parents.  Close but different, maybe.

This was certainly the case in my own life.  Like Cass, I grew up without really knowing my dad.  My mum was a real matriarch, with every decision in my life coloured by the idea of ‘What would Mum do?’.   The tension between us ebbed and flowed; sometimes we were like friends, sometimes we struggled to co-exist under the same roof.

When I went to university, I spent more and more time away from home, and Mum.  She couldn’t cope with the newly independent me.   I couldn’t cope with the limits she wanted to impose on my freedom.  Almost as soon as I graduated, I moved out of home permanently.  Even though I lived in the same town, I would sometimes go weeks without seeing her.  However, without fail, just like she had when I was at university, she rang me every Friday evening.  I could visualise her routine exactly: watch Eastenders, mute the TV, pick up the phone and dial Nic’s number.  My husband knew there was no point picking up the phone.  We didn’t need caller ID.  It was Mum.

As the next few years passed, Mum was my support when life didn’t go to plan: the end of relationships, health problems, career woes.  And I hope that she felt I supported her as well, especially when she lost her own mum.

Four years ago, we were probably at the best point in our relationship.  Neither of us expected the other to change.  Neither of us wanted the other to change.  She would be as excited about school holidays as I was, as it meant we would be able to spend time together, even if it was just popping to the garden centre or out for a pub lunch.

I can remember Mother’s Day, four years ago.  I bought her a digital photo frame and uploaded it with photos from her life, secretly borrowed over a series of visits and scanned.  I can remember switching it on and watching the joy on her face as the memories from her childhood, from my childhood, came to life.  A few weeks later I visited and, unusually, there was no TV on.  Mum was sat in the semi-dark, watching the rolling display of photos.  It was possibly the best material thing I ever gave her.

In June of that year, Mum became ill.

In July of that year, Mum passed away.

Losing Mum is, without doubt, the hardest thing I have had to deal with.  Being at her side as she drew her last breaths was strangely comforting.  Planning her funeral in the way I thought she would want it was difficult; we had never had reason to discuss it.  Packing up her house, her belongings, her life, was heartbreaking.  And then I had the prospect of a six week school holiday looming in front of me.  And no mum.

So I started writing.

I suppose it’s not much of a surprise, therefore, that the relationship between Cass and her mum is so important to Curve.  I’m sure that I was coming to terms with some of my grief through writing it.  I know that one of the later scenes between Cass and her mum made me cry so much when I wrote it that I can still barely read it.   Like this blog entry.

Four years but I still think ‘What would Mum do?’.

Four years and I still miss that Friday night phone call.

Four years…


Happy Mother’s Day, Mum.