Sunday, 21 July 2024
UK Charity Week 2024 - Sponsored by Sinclair Method UK
Sunday, 21 July 2024

Talkback UK: In Harmony with Nicola

It’s been quite a journey for Nicola Martin!

Diagnosed with Asperger’s Syndrome at the age of 15, and more recently, Hyperacusis, Nicola originally joined Talkback as a member. A testament to her talent and determination, Nicola has recently celebrated her first year as a valued staff member on the Talkback Communications Team. A regular contributor to our website and the staff newsletter, she has also been published nationally in Charity Today.

Nicola has also shared her own experiences and perspectives to deliver ‘Insights into Autism’ training, both for Talkback staff and external organisations like the Department of Work and Pensions.

Winner of the Learning Disability and Autism Leaders Award 2021, Nicola constantly conquers new challenges and would like her achievements to inspire others.

With her first novel, Harmony’s Big Decision, published in 2018, Nicola is now working on a follow-up, which she hopes to publish this year. 

Nicola said:

“I had never dreamed about getting a novel published. My writing was more about creating a world to escape to when things got tough. In the end, after a huge amount of encouragement, I decided to look into getting the novel published, hoping other people might enjoy escaping to another world as much as I did.”

Here, Nicola shares her thoughts on the process of:

Writing A Book


Many people believe that you need the ability to read, write, spell and be good at grammar to write a book. Although these skills are helpful, you can write without them, thanks to computers that correct spelling and grammar for us.

There are many benefits too, like getting to use your imagination, relaxation, escape, and many more. It does not have to be a long book – it can be short, or a book with lots of pictures.

What It Takes

Writing a book takes time and dedication. There are lots of processes, some depending on whether you are writing a book for fun or to get it published. A creative imagination is a good tool to have when writing. Patience for when things do not go to plan.

How To Do It

  • Idea: Think about what you would like to write about and then pick one idea you would like to work with. 
  • Planning: Where you make notes of the who, what, where, when, how and why.
  • 1st Draft: For putting together a rough outline of your story with the beginning, middle and end.
  • Read It Through: This is a good time to see if you have got all the events of your story included.
  • 2nd Draft: After reading through the first draft and making sure the story runs smoothly it is then time to add the finer details to make the story come alive.
  • Read Through and Edit: The editing of spelling and grammar is not too bad, as the computer highlights the things that are wrong and then gives you the right word or punctuation.
  • Are You Happy? It is now decision time as to whether you are happy with your story or if you need to write another draft. You may choose to ask someone else to read it to help you make the decision.
  • The Professionals: At this stage, you can employ a professional proofreader and editor if you wish to get further advice.

Ideas And Where They Come From

Ideas for stories can come to you in many ways. For me, a lot of my ideas come from my love of history; some from family tree research and others from the way people lived. Quite a lot of people get their ideas from dreams. My idea for Harmony’s Big Decision came from my love of rural life and wanting to live off the land.

One example from Harmony’s Big Decision is a horse called Blizzard. When I went to my local riding school there was a horse called Strike who I used to ride. She was one of those one in a million horses who I loved. I wanted to show people the close bond you can form with a horse. Strike sadly went blind in her old age and had to be put to sleep, which hit me quite hard as she had taught me everything I knew about horses and riding. The name Blizzard came from my favourite season, Winter, and I like snow.

When writing, especially the first time, try picking something you are interested in that you will enjoy writing about. After picking a topic, make a rough plan and then just start writing and see where the story takes you. That is one thing I enjoy about writing – going on a journey with the characters I created.


One thing to remember is it does not always go right the first time. If your first idea does not work, try another one. Writing a book takes time and it is trial and error, but when an idea does work it is very rewarding at the end of it. You can then read the story, enjoying your achievement of writing it.

The great thing about writing a book is that anyone can do it and I would encourage you to give it a try. I did and it is now my favourite thing to do.

By Nicola Martin


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