Snow Chance – My Book Extract

Today I was thinking about colder weather and decided that I would share one the of the first short stories I published, which is now in my little Kindled Unlimited book, ‘Short Dates’.

AFF- There is an affiliate link within this article for which I would get a kickback if you chose to buy.

As the 8:40 bus disappeared into the distance, I knew that I was without any alternative. I had to run to University if I stood any chance of getting there in time for my lecture. Mark had shown me a short cut once and today was my chance to try it. The only thing making it difficult was the fact that the ground was covered with half -melted snow. The white sludge had moments of darkness which I suspected might be black ice. I hoped that an awkward slip didn’t finish me off, especially as I had already missed this lecture three times this semester and I really could not get into trouble. The thought of a painful injury was also unappealing.


As I swung round the corner, passing the newsagents, I noticed that the bad weather filled the newspaper adverts. ‘Worst winter in ten years!’ and ‘UK at a standstill due to icy blanket’ were the types of hype that this bad spell had been attracting. Right now, I began to wonder why Uni was even open today. After all, the local schools had opted for a snow day and lecturers seemed like the types to appreciate time off. Plus, there was more snow forecasted. I guess the fact that I had a submission deadline today was adding to my torment. Midday was the cut off for my essay about Soil formation. Oh what an exciting night I had had looking up synopses about how soil accrues when rocks deplete and weathering takes on natural materials. I was meant to give in the essay before my lecture as I had three hour-long sessions in a row and there was some distance between the lecture hall and the handing in room.


Anyway, I went for it, brushing against a guy who was stood right in the middle of the path, trying to take a snow selfie. I think I definitely photobombed his shot but he did not realise until I was already long gone. I heard him shout, ‘Oi!’ moments later, in a disgruntled yell. Facing forwards, I carried on, crossing the road and nipping through the park. My mind returned to thinking about that credit card bill. I needed to get a few more extra shifts in at Waitrose if I was ever going to bring my balance down. Maybe I could see if they had any shifts tonight. The trouble was, the more work I did for them, the less energy I had for Uni. But an Ibiza holiday was calling and so I knew my card would take a massive hit when I finally booked up. I sighed out loud as I slid slightly, crossing the slushy grass, trying to shave yet more seconds off my journey.


Only now did I realise that I was drastically out of breath. My chest was heaving and a painful stitch had grasped my body, causing me to stop for a moment, leaning forward to suck in the wintry air, seemingly anaesthetising my mouth each time I inhaled sharply. A random dog sniffed at my shoes as I leaned there, prompting myself to get a move on and take off again. My legs seemed weighted down suddenly, but perhaps this was due to the layer of heavy snow engulfing the grass and attempting to infiltrate my shoes, wetting my feet. It came to my attention that this park was pretty much untouched by human tracks this morning and there was hardly anyone around.

For another extract from the book ‘Short Dates’ click here.

Remember What You Read (Studying Tips)

Throughout my career I have always worked in the field of education. From marking University essays to tutoring and moderation, I have done it all. This article will link my love of reading to my passion for learning. I thought it would be helpful to share some learning advice just before everyone gets back to studying.

Learning involves remembering what you have read.

So let’s begin by talking about making notes. When we study we read a lot of content, but unlike when reading a story, we usually are bombarded with a lot of facts that we have to try to remember. Stories come and go but learning needs to somehow stick.

Here are a few pieces of advice regarding learning to remember facts.

1) The devil is in the detail.

Yes, education requires a lot of factual recall. In the old days, you would write facts down hundreds of times until you remembered them, just as children rewrite their spellings multiple times before doing a weekly spelling test. The trouble with repetition is that after a while you move on to repeating new facts by rote and these ones take over from the previous ones. Kids often learn spellings for a test and then not use those words again for a while and so forget how to spell them again.

What am I saying here? Don’t try to learn every single detail. Learn and remember the facts that are most important. Then find ways to link these ‘super facts’ to smaller snippets of information or reference points. For instance, when learning about water transference in cells, by all means commit to memory the term ‘osmosis’. Then learn an associated example or reference point.

Some facts take a while to get rooted in your memory.

Remember ‘Osmosis’.

Related info – tree roots transfer water into their roots because the roots have a lower concentration of water molecules than the soil.

2) Technology can’t remember things for you.

We all depend on technology and I am no exception to this. I feel like my arm is detached if ever I cannot find where I left my phone. However, past experience has taught me that notes on paper and in notebooks can be so much more accessible than typed information stored on a laptop or iPad.

That tried and tested method of making maps of facts with connecting arrows is still a very efficient way to make sense of a subject. If my topic was glacial geomorphology (the study of glaciers and how they alter the landscape) I may have a map (formerly know as a mind map) with bubbles for key terms and lots of bullet point lists scattered around under headings. I could wake up in the morning and revise a series of facts before I’ve even had my breakfast, merely by consulting a wall map.

3) Annotation

Highlighter pens and post-it notes are still relevant.

Just like when an author edits their story, making notes across your work is very useful. Coloured pens and highlighters got me prepared for many an exam over the years and certainly have their place in the learning process.

Having a system where you know how to find vital revision facts or case studies is useful. Perhaps you could use green post-it’s for pages linked to key topic overviews and orange for pages with diagrams on and maybe red for hot topics or examples that stand out for you.

4) Little and often.

Revision can consume you so it is important that as you start to learn a subject you give yourself reference points as you go along. Also, throughout the year, return to different subjects regularly, especially those which do not stuck in your memory so easily. With me, learning geography, I always found facts about rivers easy to recall but anything to do with soils always went straight over my head. Therefore I would have to keep recapping details related to soils on a regular basis.

Trying to list key terms or five examples of something or other was my way of revisiting a topic and trying to keep it fresh. For example, I might list soil composition types. Lists and mini self-tests are tried and tested methods for keeping information locked in.

5) Practise test skills

Just like in school, it is important to keep the skills you need to answer questions under pressure up to date. Sometimes timing yourself to write an essay can help you to focus on a subject and keep you fresh. By fresh I mean used to writing answers against the clock. If you do not train your mind to apply this very specific way of doing things then you may find yourself stuck in a real exam. Practise makes perfect, so making opportunities to rehearse unpicking a question and formulating an answer in a given time is really good.

I find that rehearsing the process really helps when it comes to revision generally as it removes distraction and room for finding other things to do. When I set aside 30 minutes and challenge myself to practise the steps of sequencing my answer on paper, I also find areas I am remembering effectively and can then work out where my gaps in subject knowledge lie and build my revision around these.

If you enjoyed this article please drop a comment below. I will write more tips for students in the future as it all links in with my reading theme. Please consider following my blog and helping me to grow.