Some goal-smashing advice!


We’ve got an interesting post on the blog this week, from Nicola Findlay, as part of her blog tour for Live Like You Give a F**k, her new book about how to identify and set goals, then go get them! I don’t know about you, but I know I’ve set myself plenty of goals over the years, and not always quite got around to reaching them, in writing and ‘normal’ life. So, we thought this might be a good read for TNP, and here’s Nicola, talking to us about what inspired her to write the book, and how she got it done. Having read the book myself, I think we could all learn a lot from her plans!

I grew up with mum juggling jobs to make ends meet.  Logically, my expectations for the future at this point were low.  I thought the best I could do would be to muddle and struggle through life like my mum. In my early twenties, I found myself in a boring job that I hated, too much month at the end of the money, credit cards maxed out on emergencies like a cute biker jacket from Zara and being in a dead end relationship where my partner felt more like a lodger than a lover!

I could have stayed this way but fate, destiny, the universe or whatever the hell you call it stepped in and and guided me in a different direction.!

An older, wiser colleague at work often asked me , “what the heck are you doing stuck in this stale office! Get the hell out of here and live a life of adventure and fun – you are too young to settle for a 9-5 boring office job’ As much as I new it to be true, the security of the job would always drag my sorry arse back.

The unexpected death of him was a lightening bolt to my system. Would I continue living a life that didn’t feel like mine or I could grab life by the balls and go live a better version?

In what seemed like a moment of madness, in a heartbeat, I took the first step that we all have to do to make change happen. I decided to take a leap of faith into the unknown!

From that point everything started to change pretty quickly.  I ditched the boyfriend and the job.  Moved down south and started an awesome career travelling the world as an air stewardess.

I loved my new life, work and new friends. Within a year I met a guy that blew my socks off.  I still can’t shake him off, I guess that’s because I married him.  One day I was introduced to my first self development book which was quite alien to me  as my usual reading materials consisted solely of OK and Hello magazine.  But I absolutely fucking loved it, and was so hooked and hungry for more.  That initial book started a trail into the ‘self help bubble’ which led to more life changing books, weekend seminars, an nlp practitioner course and running self development workshops in Brighton where I lived.  This journey of personal growth and development was pleasantly interrupted by the arrival of my baby daughter Melia and I stepped back to focus on my most prized possession.

Live Like You Give A F**K! is my debut title and it all started with a beermat type of idea I had almost two years ago to the day. I was sipping on a mimosa and writing my goals, on a cruise ship somewhere between Florida and the Bahamas. I usually make a list of the self development books that I want to read the following year when it struck me that the book I really wanted to read; one that had plenty of mojo in the motivation, was inspiring and practical as well as being funny as fuck hadn’t been written yet and I toyed for the very first time about writing a book. Of course I was immediately swamped with the usual fears and doubts; ‘You’re not a writer, no one is going to want to read what you’ve written, you haven’t got anything valuable to say’, so taking my own advice I slowly took another sip of my mimosa and told my fears and doubts to f**k off.

The only writing I’d previously done was for my courses and trainings so it was a huge leap for me to then commit myself to writing the 40,000 words for the book. I’m sure mine has been a typical journey that many writers face. The initial excitement that has you typing away for hours on end followed by lulls where you hit the brick wall and can’t string a sentence together for love nor money, which is frustrating as hell. The scariest part of all, is when you think you’re ready to submit your manuscript only to find that with the pressure of a deadline you now what to make a gazillion changes.

The hardest part for me was signing off the final proof. No more edits, no more changes and no more turning back.  As a writer you soon realise that you have to be fine with there being an end to the process, which is great,  because that’s when the book gets to deliver on it’s promise by getting into people’s hands and sprouting it’s message;  Empowerment, Motivation and Confidence!

And for all the ideas and thoughts that didn’t make it to print this time, well, I’ll just have to write another book.


It’s true, there is a lot to Nicola’s book which is common sense. But, sometimes, we ignore common sense, and need somebody to sit us down, and tell us exactly how it is. In this book, Nicola does this in spades. It’s a no-nonsense approach, going through the ins and outs of how to identify the life you want, then giving you the tools to get out there and get it. Throughout, Nicola’s voice is striking, and a bit like being given a pep talk by your best friend, which is basically what most of us need! So, grab yourself a notebook, get reading, and get planning your new life…

Live Like You Give A F**K!

NF V1.2

The No Nonsense Philosophy for Smart Girls who Want to Smash It!

Boss a bitch? Diet a hot mess? Broke after payday? Ghosted on tinder?

If life feels like a constant hangover why not take five f**king minutes for yourself to decide what you really want. Slam on the brakes, kick off your heels and unplug from the social media circus.

Stop Surviving – Start Thriving

Live Like You Give A F**K will show you how to create the future you want, not the one that’s been shoved down your throat. It will shake and wake you from the hypnosis of modern living. The triple shot of empowerment, confidence and motivation will unleash the badass in you.

Nicola Findlay is the straight-talking, bold, coaching diva who isn’t afraid to tell it like it is. If you ask her advice about your lame partner she’ll give you a bitch slap, tell you to raise your standards and get rid of that loser.

She’s your best friend, your enemy, your punchbag and your cheerleader. Some people call her a diva, some people call her a badass bitch but whichever you decide you will get results.

WARNING: If you’re afraid of a few swear words on a page put this book down and go cry to your Mama. I’m not here to offend anyone.  I’m here to tell you how to rock your world, and because I’m so passionate about it I’ll be shouting and swearing from the rooftops.

Purchase from Amazon UK

Purchase from Barnes & Noble

About Nicola

Nicola Photo 1

Nicola Findlay, a former British Airways air stewardess, is a qualified neurolinguistic practitioner and accredited international coach with over a decade of experience. She runs personal group workshops, 1-2-1 coaching and corporate training working with companies such as Specsavers and Stella & Dot. Previously she managed the Brighton branch of Life Clubs where she ran weekly personal development workshops with different themes each week before starting her own company The Coaching Diva in 2015. In 2018 she is planning a series of live events in London and New York including; Attracting Mr Right and Live Like You Give A F**K! Nicola lives with her 7 year old daughter and husband in Surrey, England

Website –

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Pure Talent next week

What does  “Dystopian novel” mean? We’ve taken the phrase as our theme for this Thursday’s Pure Fiction event at The Old George in Newcastle. Fancy joining us to listen to Sue Miller and Emma Whitehall reading from and discussing their work?

Pure Fiction celebrates writers of fiction and their work. Previous events have featured Jennifer C Wilson, Kitty Fitzgerald, Sandy Chadwin, Carol Clewlow, L.A. Craig, Rod Glenn and Victoria Watson. On Thursday 16th November it’ll be the turn of writers Sue Miller and Emma Whitehall. Host Elaine Cusack will let them run with the Dystopian novel theme and we’ll have the chance to ask questions and chat with them afterwards. Elaine’s colleague, Sandy Chadwin will kick off the evening with a Tall Tale.

Doors open 6.45pm and the evening starts at 7pm. Tickets cost £3 and can be bought in  advance or on the door. Here’s more information on Thursday’s authors…

emmapicEmma Whitehall is a writer, reviewer and spoken word performer based  in the North East of England. Emma specialises in supernatural fiction, and has been published in the United Kingdom, America, Mexico and Ireland. Her Flash Fiction has been longlisted for the Bath Novella in Flash Award, and shortlisted for the Fish Flash Fiction Award.

For more years than she wants to remember, Sue Miller  worked with families and communities locally and nationally as a psychologist, teacher and manager. Those experiences have given her knowledge and insight into the stories we all become: ordinary people often made extraordinary by what life throws at us. Sue’s debut novel 20/20 Vision They Didn’t See it Coming was published earlier this year and on Thursday she’ll  read from her current work in progress, a prequel to 20/20 Vision.

Sue Miller



Top of the Pops

Last Thursday’s talk They Walk that Should Not about ghost stories has prompted Sandy Chadwin to list his favourite writers and stories:

Top Three Ghost Story Writers (in alphabetical order):

Robert Aickman
EF Benson
MR James

Top 10 Ghost Stories (in no particular order):

1/ ‘The Yellow Wallpaper’ – Charlotte Perkins Gilman
2/ ‘Three Miles Up’ – Elizabeth Jane Howard
3/ ‘The Screaming Skull’ – F Marion Crawford
4/ ‘Man-Sized in Marble’ – E Nesbit
5/ ‘How Love Came to Professor Guildea’ – Robert Hitchens
6/ ‘The Turn of the Screw’ – Henry James
7/ ‘The Ghost-Ship’ – Richard Middleton
8/ ‘The Signal-Man’ – Charles Dickens
9/ ‘The Haunted and the Haunters’ – Lord Lytton
10/ ‘The Red Lodge’ – HR Wakefield

MRJames1900Catch Sandy talking about MR James this coming Thursday in Newcastle’s Old George

October is the busiest month

We managed to sellotape Sandy “Busy Bee” Chadwin to his laptop for 10 minutes so he could write this blog…

For reasons that escape me, but are partly do with the time of year, I have a fair bit to do this autumn. Three gigs, to be precise, with two of them on the same day but it should be fun.

SandyFirst out of the hatch is They Walk That Should Not Walk, a talk that Elaine Cusack and I will be giving at the Northumberland Park Community Room (it’s attached to the café, or so I’m told) at 1:00pm this coming Thursday the 12th  of October. It’s part of the ‘Age Takes Centre Stage’ shenanigans that the council have put together for this month and it’s free though I think you need to register. Fuller details are here. If you’ve not been to the park (it’s between the golf course in North Shields and the Tynemouth Lodge pub) it’s a charming little place complete with its own pet cemetery and remains of a mediaeval hospital. And there’s a café. The talk (or chat more likely) will look at the history and fascination of the ghost story and if you’re coming, bring along memories of your favourite whether it’s one from Charles Dickens, EF Benson, Mrs Gaskell, or one of the James boys – Henry and MR. Should be fun, albeit in a somewhat macabre way.

Following that, I will have a brief pause before heading off to the Exchange in North Shields where, along with the Cracketts (a husband and wife folk duo) I’ll be presenting Tales from the Dead House at 7:30. This is an evening of spooky and macabre stories (from me) and songs (courtesy of the Cracketts) and is ticketed at £3.00, available on the door. Storytelling is a thing I do, unless politely but firmly stopped, and fits nicely with folk music and as the nights creep into the day, it’s the time to sit and listen, if only to escape the darkness outside. In the US they have the tradition of the campfire tale, a creepy and often gory story told while sitting round the fire while camping. Many of the urban myths we are so fond of probably started off as such tales – you know the kind of thing I mean. The Vanishing Hitchhiker (driver gives lift to girl only she disappears while still in the car and on subsequent investigation he discovers that she was run down and died on that very spot); Hairy Hands (woman gives lift to old lady but notices that she has suspiciously hairy hands and so when the old lady gets out at a garage to visit the toilet, the driver drives off and when she looks inside the bag left by the old lady, she finds it full of bloodied knives and a police investigation finds the clothes of an elderly woman in the toilet at the garage) and there are many others. I was actually told the hairy hands one by a friend back in the late ‘70s with the addition that the old lady was in fact the Yorkshire Ripper, who was still at large.

 MRJames1900Then, a full week later, I shall be giving a talk on the aforementioned MR James at the Old George in Newcastle at 7:30pm on the 19th. That has the bargain price of a mere £2.50. Buy your ticket in advance here. MR James is, I will be arguing, one of the best, if not the actual best, ghost story writer in English. He used to write them to tell to his Cambridge fellow dons on Christmas Eve and they are a potent mix of donnish humour and subtle horror. I did my dissertation on him back in the mid- ‘80s when you weren’t meant to take things like ghost stories as serious literature. My supervisor spent the first week or so constantly thinking I was writing about Henry James (no mean slouch at the ghost story himself as anyone who’s read ‘The Turn of the Screw’ will attest) and the external examiner mourned that I had wasted my time on such a petty subject. But now, Newcastle University does a module on them as part of its Eng. Lit degree or certainly did so a few years back, and you cannot buy a critical study of James or ghost stories in general for less than £30 odd. Hmm, perhaps I should dig out that dissertation…

Guest post: P.J. ‘Red’ Riley


Today, as part of the tour for Kisses from Nimbus, we’re joined by Captain P.J. ‘Red’ Riley, who is going to tell us about his autobiography, covering his time in the SAS.

So, tell us, how did you go about constructing the book?

I didn’t really. At first I just wanted to leave a few details of my life for my children and grandchildren, then someone came up with the suggestion that I should write a book. Now, I have been called many things during my long and often less than illustrious career with Her Britannic Majesty’s Government, but never an author. Nevertheless I decided to get started. I was introduced to a ghost writer but after only a couple of sessions it became clear to me that I wasn’t going to like what was being produced so we parted company. I then recalled the profound words of my dear departed father. ‘If tha wants owt doin, do it tha Sen’.

A new Poundland shop had just opened in Oswaldtwistle, a village not far from Accrington, so I decided to pay it a visit. I purchased a packet of twenty pens for a pound – yes that’s right – a pound! They used to cost more than that for one, for goodness sake! Sorry, I digress. But it just doesn’t seem to be possible that anyone can manufacture twenty pens, package them, ship them half way around the world and make a profit for only five pence each. I don’t know how many US cents that is, but it can’t be many. Where was I? Oh yes. Constructing an autobiography.

I simply sat down with my packet of pens and five note books ( I am now fighting the urge to prattle on about how much the note books cost and where I got them from),  and started to scribble. I quickly learned the importance of double-line spacing and only writing on alternate sheets. The amount of amendments and insertions rapidly made the pages indecipherable.

But slowly, memories turned into written words and the words became a story, which then became Kisses From Nimbus.

I spent most of my time writing, on my own, in my small villa in the mountains of Spain. I transposed the manuscript on to my iPad and sent a few hundred words at a time as an email to my wife Carol. She would then correct the grammar and the appawling spelling (see what I mean ?) and knock it in to some sort of shape acceptable to a literary agent or publisher. I was determined not to create another military history or an expose of the British Secret Intelligence Service, concentrating instead on the more personal side of my career. It wasn’t long after I started to write that I was contacted by the Government’s legal department and warned that I should not write ANYTHING, be it autobiographical or even fiction. And that if I did then I was likely to be indicted and possibly prosecuted under the Official Secret Act. The view of my lawyers is that my human rights take precedence over any other law, and I therefore decided to proceed towards publication.

I have been careful not to identify any individuals or give details of any on-going operations which could endanger the lives of agents or their families and aimed to build a vagueness into the details of any operations that I have mentioned.

One element of the book which was particularly hard for me to write was the sex scene, and I apologise unreservedly for that. I succumbed to pressure from my wife and daughter who were adamant that any secret agent worth his salt, simply had to have the raunchiest of sex lives.

I am well aware that, by writing every word myself, I have made it unlikely that I will be in line for any literary prizes apart from perhaps the annual ‘bad sex’ award.

About Kisses from Nimbus:

PF 3.2

Shot at, bombed, imprisoned and arrested for murder. His is the story the establishment doesn’t want you to read.

Captain P. J. “Red” Riley is an ex-SAS soldier who served for eighteen years as an MI6 agent.

Riley escaped internment in Chile during the Falklands war during an audacious top-secret attempt to attack the Argentinian mainland.

He was imprisoned in the darkness of the Sierra Leonean jungle, and withstood heavy fire in war-torn Beirut and Syria.

In 2015, he was arrested for murder but all charges were later dropped.

In this searing memoir, Riley reveals the brutal realities of his service, and the truth behind the newspaper headlines featuring some of the most significant events in recent British history. His account provides startling new evidence on the Iraq war, what Tony Blair really knew about Saddam Hussain’s weapons of mass destruction before the allied invasion, and questions the British government’s alleged involvement in the death of Princess Diana.

Chaotic, darkly humorous and at times heart-wrenchingly sad, Kisses From Nimbus charts the harrowing real-life experiences of a soldier and spy in the name of Queen and country.

Buy the book:

Amazon UK  –

Barnes & Noble –

About the author:

Born in 1946 in Lancashire P.J ‘Red’ Riley joined the British Army at the age of eighteen. After basic training he volunteered for Pilot Training and qualified as an operational helicopter pilot going on to service in Germany, Northern Ireland, Canada, Belize and Cyprus. He was later appointed Flight Commander SAS Flight Hereford. At the age of thirty-six years old he left the Army Air Corps and transferred to the SAS. In 1989, when Riley left the army he was quickly recruited by Mi6 where he served until 2015. Now retired Riley splits his time between the UK and Spain

Guest Post: Graham Swann


Today, we are joined by Graham Swann, as part of his book tour for Kimmy the Koala Helps the Honey Bees in Summertown Wood, a story about how a kindly koala, Kimmy, helps out the dwindling honey bees.

Graham has written the following about his inspiration, and his process of writing for children.

The inspiration for the books of course comes from my grandchildren Dan, Leah, Max and Naomi. I have two great nephews Taylor and Ethan who are four and two years old who are also a source of inspiration. All the kids in the family have a love of animals as I did and still do. As Leah is getting older she is now eight and requests birthday or christmas gifts when asked to be certificates to sponsor all sorts of animal charities, not gifts for herself.

On reflection children are generally born with a love of animals and no bias and as AA Milne discovered they totally get a bear walking hand in hand with a boy or a tiger.

So my characters started from my past. When I was small there was a Guerrilla in London zoo that I loved called Guy and this was the first character I came up with. Guy to my mind as a child looked sad as he lived in a concrete and metal cage affair not like today with zoos having large compounds with animals having space to move around. So the thought of living free in a wood came to me and the other characters started to come along.

All the characters are very different with a mix of genders like Mini the mole who is a girl but wears a hard hat and loves to be in her garden digging and tending her flowers. The books have nine characters in all plus the addition of Warewood the talking tree who is old and wise and is always able to advise the characters in the best possible way so they can help each other out.

Eventually I invented Guy the guerrilla, Ronnie the rat, Mini the mole, Denny the donkey, Woo the owl, Hayley the hare, Lami the sheep, Penny the panda and Kimmy the koala who are all friends and help each other out so with nine characters that meant I had a starting point to write nine stories, one for each character.

Kimmy the Koala Cover

The books are simple stories, some have educational elements like the Kimmy story helping the bees, others are just stories that celebrate the first day of spring, or a boat race or a character needs a new home so everyone helps out. All the stories have a sense of caring about and helping each other as a group of friends and I try to involve as many characters in the stories as I can.

The visual style of the books is very important to me. The hand drawn style of the books is very deliberate. The characters are all hand drawn and I wanted the books to be different from other publications and have a fresh, colourful hand drawn style with plenty of interest on the page that can be included in the story telling when mum or dad are reading them to their children.

I wanted the children to engage with the characters in the books so I had the idea of adding coloring pages at the end so when the story finishes they can color in their favourite characters in any color they like and have a bit of fun.

Generally I think the books are universal as most children in this world have a fascination or love of animals and I hope they enjoy my stories as much as my family do.

Kimmy the Koala Helps the Honey Bees in Summertown Wood 

Purchase from Amazon UK –

Purchase from Barnes & Noble –


Graham Swan has worked as a graphic designer in the UK and is currently a college lecturer in Fife, Scotland. He currently lives in Kirkcaldy, Fife, Scotland. This is his first published book.

Parked ‘n’ Written

Jennifer’s thoughts on last weekend’s workshop…

Jennifer C. Wilson

On Sunday, The Next Page strayed from our usual haunts of North Shields and Whitley Bay Libraries into the wilds of Wallsend, to host “Park ‘n’ Write”, in the Community Pavilion of Richardson Dees Park. Despite having spent huge chunks of my childhood in Wallsend, it’s a place I only visited earlier this year, when Elaine and I went to explore one Sunday afternoon. We were so inspired by the place, we decided we had to do ‘something’ there, and so Park ‘n’ Write was born.


Taking inspiration from the park, our little band of writers came up with a range of semi-memoir, fantasy and history, showing that writers can always find a new and quirky slant on any prompt. I can never write when I’m leading on a workshop, with one eye on the clock and the other checking everyone seems to be ok, but I’ve come away with some…

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