Frazzled – the battle with adrenaline

I’ve been so far out of my comfort zone for so long, I’m not sure I know my way back.

In the last 6 months, I’ve been drawn away from the pleasure of writing, to be called upon for public speaking events. Moving away from the private relationship between writer and page into a pubic life of presenting the published book to unknown audiences. It’s uncomfortable. It sounds ungrateful, and sulky, but for those of you, who long for the label of published, let me give you an insight into what is then expected of you.

The book launch itself was a huge party. Surrounded by friends and family I was supported throughout the whole event and I loved every minute. A lot of hard work studying the craft had paid off, and seeing my name of the front cover of a picture book was a dream come true.

Beyond that, I was asked to travel to the other side of the country to read in a major bookshop in Essex, during the town’s first birthday celebrations. Packed with families with expectant faces, I read my book whilst learning to juggle the page turns and display the fabulous illustrations. It is a children’s picture book after all. From the gesticulating and arm waving of the publisher, at the back of the room, I was encouraged to project my voice more. After 5 hours storytelling, my voice had all but disappeared.

This was the beginning of experiencing the adrenaline roller coaster; the sleepless nights and anxiety before an appearance, the peak and blind spots during the performance and the crash that surely follows once safely home.

The intensity of focus whilst presenting creates a muffled bubble around me. I can’t process information or hear clearly when blood is pounding at a rate of knots in my ears. This leaves me unaware of how the reading actually went. Of course there is the immediate feedback given by those who invited you to attend, but is the praise genuine? I can’t tell.

Quickly after, library invitations were received. Smaller groups of families gathered, waiting to hear a story read to the children. It should have been more relaxed, but all eyes are focused on you, listening to every word – that’s the point obviously – the adrenaline returned.

A book festival held in Cumbria, on a freezing winter’s day saw a 10 hour day travelling, reading, engaging children in creating their own stories, hand shakes with a councillor and journalists. Thankfully, there was an unexpected perk on this trip. A child came over to me and asked if it was okay to give me a hug. “Of course,” I replied, “they are my favourite things”… a line of children formed, each and every one hugging me on their way out of the school library. I’ll never forget that memory. I didn’t need any feedback from adults that day. I floated back to Cheshire.

Carried along on the high, I felt immortal! I decided to take a further leap into the unknown and did something I’d wanted to do for years. I booked a Vision Board Workshop. I booked, planned and presented a 2 hour workshop to teach how to create and use a vision board to focus on your goals and move towards achieving them. 2 hours later, I was losing my voice yet again.

Why would I willingly book the workshop you may ask, if I’m uncomfortable in a public arena? After months of being pushed into the spotlight to promote my book, I wanted to use the experience I had gained for to achieve a personal goal. I believe so firmly in the power of vision boards, it was a message I wanted to share, and as a result I had great fun with the ladies who attended. So much so that the venue manager invited me to attend another public event there; Harry Potter Day.

One tweet about the day said “If you mention the word Harry Potter, you’d better book Wembley Arena”. The crowds who poured into the Art Gallery that day were queued around the building for hours in icy winds and snow. The buzz attracted the BBC film crew. Every child dressed in full Hogwarts attire. After teaching spell writing to 640 children. I ached from head to foot. An occupational therapist friend of mine explained, bending down to speak to a child at their level was the equivalent of “squatting”. I had performed a thousand squats that day and my thighs screamed their resentment to me.

In the last week, I’ve battled the Beast from the East on World Book Day, to get books and equipment to a local school, in time to hold two school assemblies, followed by over seventy book signings engaging each child individually in the process. This time the pain was felt in my swollen hand, signing so many books. I shan’t complain!

As I write, an email has popped up asking how I can be booked for another school event. I shall reply enthusiastically. No matter how uncomfortable, no matter how physically and mentally challenged, no matter how the adrenaline messes with my mind, the children are the stars. One smile from a child is enough reward. The sea of hands thrust into the air eager to answer questions and join in the story making, is enough.

I have indulged here in a whine, wallowing in the hardships of public speaking, but I’ve vented, I feel better. Thank-you for listening, and if you do chase the dream of the label “published,” well, you’ve been informed of all it involves; aching feet, stiff back, hoarse voice and all. Now close this blog, ignore all I’ve said and go after that dream. I wish you every success x

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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A Muggle’s Spell

Yesterday, at Harry Potter Day held, at Stockport War Memorial Art Gallery, I promised the spell-writing children that I would create a spell poem from the unique ingredients they conjured up. Here it is in all it’s glory;

 

A Muggle Spell

by Nicola Hulme

hogwarts

 

A muddle of magical muggles,

A sensational spectacular scene,

Wizarding costumes everywhere

An incredible Hogwarts dream.

Quill-Paper-and-Wax

 

Unique ingredients invented,

Imaginations running wild

Spells cast on the unwitting

By a most innocent looking child.

potion

 

Heads were filled with potions,

Hands quilled beautiful lines.

It warmed the heart to see their smiles

Though mischief was on their mind …

 

Here’s a list; a bizarre selection

of the ingredients captured that day,

a spell written to bond and bind them

for good or evil, who can say?

Into the cauldron

 

Into the cauldron dark and deep

Add a snore from a big sleep.

Add the wing from a hippogriff

This will make the mixture stiff!

Hippogriff-5e

 

Two purple ants, two Muggle eyes

Fan the flames until bubbles rise.

Killer’s blood, just a drop,

Add a teaspoon of troll snot!

Spider eyes and Hagrid’s beard

beard-hagrid

 

 

 

 

 

 

For a potion wild and weird.

A feather from a phoenix wing

Spit from snake, keep stirring!

dragon claw

 

Nails from a dragon’s toes

(You might want to hold your nose)

Finally a giggle of newt’s laughter

To give us the spell that we are after….

 

 

Ingredients provided by the children of Hogwarts Stockport

on Harry Potter Day 11th February, 2018

Portia The Pear, receives 5 star reviews

I was delighted to open up Amazon and read all the kind reviews left for Portia, here are some of my favourites:

Beautifully written book with such a great message for kids. I will look out for more titles by this fabulous author.”

“My 2 boys love this book! Beautifully written and great message behind the story. Definitely recommend”

“A fantastic read with an inspirational message that all kids should hear.”

Thank-you to everyone who has taken the time to post a review it really is the best present an author can receive. Although, receiving this festive depiction of the main characters in the form of a gorgeous Christmas poster, illustrated by the fabulous Elena Mascolo, is a very close second!

Thank you Elena your work always amazes me.

christmas portia

The Sycamore Prince

Slender branches silhouette

beneath his golden crown.

Sparks thrown out by the silver sun

ignite his flaming hues.

The autumnal prince towers above

ethereal mists, caught between earth and sky.

In a final flourish, passionate embers

of saffron and copper smoulder.

Only to cool as the light fades

and chill winds blow.

Each yellow fingered leaf, I mourn

as it falls and returns to it’s roots.

I will his warming glow to remain

to comfort my spirits during

November’s nip and winters depths.

Knowing my protests cannot halt

ruthless frosts from calling “time”.

November 2017

Portia The Pear – the book launch.

 

book launch signing

Portia The Pear, my first Children’s Picture Book, was launched in September this year and is now on sale in bookshops, on Amazon and even in the gift shops at Tatton Park in Cheshire.

 

The launch party was an amazing event with more people attending than I ever imagined. Book sales were crazily high, I couldn’t move from the signing table. Children were busy sticking, painting, and creating at the craft tables. Those with more energy bounced on the bouncy castle and chased balloons. There was even a music maestro playing acoustic guitar in a quieter area for those who preferred to stay out of the mele.

book launch peopl

I can’t thank enough, the team of people who helped me to organise and manage the event. I had volunteers in the kitchen, help setting up the buffet, friends supervising the crafting and one dear friend even took charge of meeting and greeting. What a bunch of superstars. The day’s success was all down to their fantastic spirit of “all hands on deck” – angels every one!

book launch craft

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

So here is a link to find my book, which makes a superb Christmas present for little ones. Book reviews can be found on Amazon, to see what people think so far.

amazon

To any budding authors out there, be ready to take part in marketing events organised by your publisher. My feet haven’t touched the ground since launch day. I’ve been as far south as Foyles in Chelmsford and I’m on my way north to Barrow-in-Furness next, with Apple Day Festivals in between and pit stops at libraries it takes a lot of energy to support your book, so be prepared!

book reading

I leave you with a link to the book and the publisher for more information …… did I say Portia makes a great stocking filler????

https://matthewjamespublishing.com/product/portia-pear-nicola-hulme/

christmas portia

 

 

What a wonderful gesture

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I’d like to thank Smitha at Silver Linings for nominating me for this award. I’m fairly new to the blogging world so when I received my nomination I had to check twice to see that I had read it correctly! Smitha and I “met” whilst completing the Napowrimo challenge, recently. During which time, she sent wonderful words of support and encouragement, for which I am eternally grateful. Her posts on Silver Linings are uplifting and very touching, please visit her beautiful blog and see for yourself. The way she presents her work is a masterclass to us all; Silver Linings Smitha V

So here is what I must do now I’ve been nominated for the award;

RULES OF THE VERSATILE BLOGGER AWARD:

  • Thank the bloggers who nominated you and share their links.
  • Nominate at least 10 bloggers for the award and provide links to their blogs. Also, inform them about the nomination.
  • Reveal 7 facts about yourself that your readers may not know.

 

7 Fun Facts about me:

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  • I once met Prince Charles (sadly it was his first public appearance after the death of Princess Diana) to lighten the mood, he asked me if he was delaying our lunchtime by being there. I replied “Yes, there will be a stampede to the restaurant once you’ve gone”. He laughed; nice man.

 

  • I went to the same school and drama class as Julie Hesmondhalgh, who played Hayley in Coronation Street. The school was in Accrington, where Jeanette Winterson OBE, author of “Oranges Are Not The Only Fruit” grew up. If anyone is interested in how life in a Lancashire Mill Town was in the 1970’s, read her later book “Why Be Happy When You Can Be Normal” it’s scarily accurate. I thought I was reading my life story!

 

  • Comedian Jim Bowen presented my High School Awards in English Literature to me when I was 12 years old. He shook my hand and said his famous catchphrase “Super, smashing, great.”

 

  • I was filmed by the BBC on a trip to the local tip. My partner and I were clearing out the remains of a kitchen ceiling. I had cement dust in my hair, dirt on my face and was wearing my scruffiest clothes, when a cameraman thrust his camera into our faces and asked if we would be interviewed. Of course we agreed! (Check out “Money For Nothing” on BBC iPlayer episode 9). 

Original Windsurfing regattas & photos

 

  • I had to be rescued by a speedboat off the coast of The Isle Of Man, in the North Sea, whilst learning to windsurf. I stood on the board, lifted the sail and the wind carried me out to sea. I didn’t know how to stop it, I was too scared to let go, the wind kept blowing and off I went.

 

  • I have a Children’s Picture Book due to be published on 7th September 2017, which I wrote whilst on a creative writing course called “Learn To Write Like Roald Dahl”. It isn’t in the Dahl league but a local publisher liked it enough to take a chance on publishing this yet unknown writer, and to them I am forever grateful. It’s a dream come true.

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  • My final fact is a cheat; two facts rolled into one: I have two beautiful children whom I adore and a very handsome fiance who is my world… and I live by the following rule “Always believe something wonderful is about to happen”… and do you know what? It always does.

 

My Nominees:

The Laughing Housewife

discoveringsooz

unclephilsblog

 

Thank-you again Smitha, just as your name says, you made me smile xxx

 

 

 

From new girl to “writer”

A creative breakthrough at my local writing group; promotion from “new girl” status to “meeting chair” albeit for one session only (for now, but I can dream!)

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Is this validation that my writing and knowledge has reached a point worthy of sharing with other writers? If so, couldn’t be more thrilled!

Last year, I joined a writing group; Stockport Writers, based at the very beautiful Stockport Hatworks Museum. We meet once a month to write with various prompts to help stir the creative juices. 

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One of the charms of this writing group is it’s ever-changing attendee list. Some group members have been attending since the group first formed, others have joined over the past year; some new members are just beginning their writing journey.

Each writer has their own unique skill set, genre, preferred writing style. From the impact of short stories, to the challenge of a novel, everyone has their own path. Whether editor or poet, college student or student of life, who writes purely for the pleasure in doing so, all are welcome. It’s a magical mix.

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Each month, a writer leads the group through the session; from free-writing warm up, to a reading of last month’s homework (or any other piece) through to the use of prompts, followed by more readings, and finally the closing prompt or exercise to close.

When I was asked to step up to the role at next month’s meeting, I was honoured to do so. It’s an absolute privilege.

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Now all I need to do is come up with a plan of what topics we can cover. Errrrmmmmm…

Any ideas from fellow writers? 

I’ve just got back from meeting my publisher…

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I like to say that.

I will take every opportunity to say that.

I do not apologise for being ecstatic that I can say that!

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During a very civilised conversation over a cup of tea at the fabulous Cloudberry Cafe, Marple, my publisher and I

(oops! I did it again) discussed the upcoming marketing strategy for my new book. 

 

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I am so excited I may spontaneously combust – stand well back!

Talking for 2 hours about all things bookish, is an absolute pleasure. 

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Watch this space over the coming weeks for details.

My face is literally aching from smiling so much.  

I will be ordering my own book from Amazon because I can.

I will be ordering my book from Waterstones because I can. 

Ouch! My cheeks hurt.

Success; I Did It! Napowrimo 2017 (with a short sprint to the finish line!)

It’s the last day of Napowrimo. It’s the last day of my first year and first attempt of the Napowrimo challenge. I was doing so well throughout April, submitting a poem each day, until the last few days. Life got in the way as it tends to do and I was distracted. However, I’m not a girl to give up so easily, once a gauntlet has been thrown down, so here on my final Napowrimo post, you will find not 1, not 2, not even 3 but 4 poems, which complete the challenge.

Day 27 – on Day 30

The Prompt: Write a poem that explores your sense of taste.

My Response:

Heaven In A Tea Cup

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First the crunch satisfies.

The chocolate drops close my eyes,

as pleasure begins to rise

and swirls around inside me.

A cup of tea to wash down

the jewel in this perfect crown.

No greater pleasure is found

than a cookie and a cup of tea.

Day 28 – on Day 30

The Prompt: Write a poem using Skeltonic verse.

My Response:

Never Give Up

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Napowrimo has almost ended.

During April my mind has bended.

My honour now must be defended,

as I finish these final days.

The last three days, I’ve lagged behind.

I must complete the final deadline.

Whether or not it actually rhymes,

I don’t think anyone actually minds!

Day 29 – on Day 30

The Prompt: Take one of your favorite poems and find a very specific, concrete noun in it. For example, if your favorite poem is this verse of Emily Dickinson’s, you might choose the word “stones” or “spectre.” After you’ve chosen your word, put the original poem away and spend five minutes free-writing associations – other nouns, adjectives, etc. Then use your original word and the results of your free-writing as the building blocks for a new poem.

My Response:

(From To Autumn, by John Keats, the word “mists”)

bee

 

The mist lies above the lawn,

hovering; a spectral form.

Beautiful yet surreal scene,

mystic haze, a ghostly dream.

 

Day 30 – on Day 30

The Prompt: Write a poem about something that happens again and again

My Response:

Sweet Addiction

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Again and again

I give in

to temptation.

All it takes is

a mere suggestion,

of sweet treats.

Destroys all

my good intentions.

I can’t resist 

the taste sensation.

 

That’s it. 30 poems written in 30 days. Would I do it again? Maybe. I need a lie down before I think about answering that. Were the poems any good? Some have potential, some need to be filed under “rubbish” immediately. It’s been a fantastic experience and I have learnt a lot. The main lesson, is that a good poem takes time. A first draft to meet a deadline is fine, but to produce something good needs time to ruminate, cogitate and deliberate. Poetry can’t be rushed.

Now for that lie down. 

I have illustrations!

Picture a lady who is old enough to know better, bouncing around like Tigger on his happiest and bounciest day. 

Picture the biggest smile on a child’s face.

Picture someone who can’t sit still and is yabbering on at speed and at a pitch only dogs can hear.

That’s me, right now, as I look at the illustrations created for my new children’s book. 

It’s every Christmas morning rolled into one. 

My baby now has a face, a colourful, beautiful face and I could kiss it – but that would be too weird.

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