the writer is a lonely hunter

writing by Gail Aldwin and other authors

Busy bees

June has been packed with activities! As we only have a fortnight left until we leave for London, we’re trying to make the most of our remaining time in Edinburgh. My son visited last week and we went on a couple of outings which involved obligatory photos:

A view of Arthur’s Seat from Blackford Hill
Jonny and David in Circus Lane, Stockbridge
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At a loose end around 10:30am today (BST)?

Why not tune into Suzie Grogan’s Talking Books radio show on 10Radio (or use your usual world steaming service) to find me giving away the inside story on writing This Much Huxley Knows and much more. Alternatively, if you’d prefer a breath of Scottish air, here are some photos from our walk in the Pentland Hills (south west of Edinburgh) yesterday.

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Don’t get the flags out yet…

I promised an update on submitting The Girl and the Tutor. Although the news isn’t an offer of representation or publication, it is encouraging. Since 31 January, I’ve received two further full manuscript requests and one partial. The initial full has since been declined. As part of a Twitter pitching event three weeks ago, I was invited to send the full manuscript to the digital-first publisher Bookouture. Although I can’t understand why people think it’s a good idea to send rejections out on a bank holiday, I heard back on Good Friday. So as one door closes, another (potentially) opens. In the feedback I received, it was suggested I develop a dark thread in the contemporary story to echo the one of exploitation in the 1978 timeline. This idea absolutely chimed and I will start revising the novel to show how bad things happen in cozy, beautiful settings. Onwards and upwards!

In the meantime, life in Edinburgh continues with several new walks discovered. Yesterday, we took a bus to Balerno (near the Pentland Hills) and walked back along the Water of Leith walkway. Here are some photos from the eight miles we covered in returning to Stockbridge.

What a lovely day!

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First week in Edinburgh

We’re tuning into city vibes and finding life in Stockbridge very agreeable. We’ve stayed in the one-bedroomed flat many times before and like the locality. Step outside the front door and to the right is Raeburn Place with its many independent shop, cafes and restaurants. Turn left and there’s the Water of Leith Walkway which goes down to the sea at Leith and inland towards the Pentland Hills. We’ve discovered a route where the Water of Leith passes under the Union Canal at Slateford Aqueduct which makes a great circular walk. There’s also the chance to go along wider footpaths which were once railway or tram tracks. We followed one to reach the Colinton Tunnel where there’s a fabulous community project to decorate the tunnel with murals.

Volunteers have illustrated the words of Robert Louis Stevenson’s poem From a Railway Carriage which describes a child’s first journey by train. Here’s an image of the exit to the tunnel.

I was on special look out while walking to the tunnel for a spot where it’s possible to go wild swimming. Although most of the Water of Leith is shallow, here’s an area of deeper water. Who knows – I might don my costume one day for a dip.

There’s a great stopping off point too, at Saughton Park where the cafe serves the best breakfast rolls I’ve come across.

And I mustn’t forget a shout out for the Edinburgh Botanic which we’ve visited once already and we’re looking forward to popping back regularly to watch the plants bloom as the season warms up.

There’s not much to report on the writing submission front although I’m still joining Writers’ Hour each weekday morning at eight o’clock. It’s one way to keep the new novel barrelling along.

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On the road

Me and David are heading off to spend time on the road. It’s hard planning which clothes to take given the weather will be variable. We’re going to Edinburgh first, then London, then Spain, Portugal and Greece. Although I’ve decide to abandon my fleecy coat, I will take my electric blanket which I’ll use while we’re in the UK. Oh, and I’ve packed lots of outfits which involve layers.

I’ll continue writing while we’re away. My work in progress – now titled The Escape Village Resort – is developing well. I’ve fine tuned the elevator pitch to 280-characters – the length of a tweet – to aid online querying. Which version do you prefer?

ABIGAIL’S PARTY x THE SERPENT (This relates to comparable TV programmes)

Six mismatched millennials live it up at a tropical resort: one couple are honeymooners, another get married, the third approach the seven-year itch. A storm threatens. Who’s to blame when one of the women goes missing? 

FOLEY x LOGAN (This relates to comparable authors, Lucy Foley, author of The Hunting Party and T M Logan, author of The Holiday which was recently televised on Channel 5)

Three mismatched couples live it up at a remote island resort. Amongst the group are a flirt, a bully and a show off. During the shenanigans coercive control rules. The temperature rises, storms threaten. Who survives the tropical party? 

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Graphic to illustrate a manuscript

From a post by The Supercargo about header images, my friend and fellow writer John Nixon at Pens Around the World has inspired me to play around with pictures to illustrate my manuscript The Girl and the Tutor. It’s the story of a girl who never grows up due to an early obsession with her maths tutor and here’s what I produced:

I’ll refrain from going into the whole plot but suffice to say I chose a copyright free image of a prefect from Unsplash and another of a tutor from Pixabay. In Canva, I was able to select the heart-splattered background and the leaf image to finish the job. What do you think?

Interestingly, there’s a pitch party launching in April called moodpitch. This is where authors get a chance to write a tweet-length pitch (280-characters) for their novel in the hope of attracting interest from agents and publishers. At this pitch party, there’s also an expectation that the tweet will include a moodboard. Looks like I’m all set to go!

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Book auction and other news

If you have yet to purchase a copy of This Much Huxley Knowshere’s an opportunity for you to bid for the novel and help a worthy cause at the same time. The Jemima Layzell Trust supports children and young people suffering from brain injuries by providing funding for specialist equipment and/or specialist therapy. Authors may wish to donate a copy of your book (the auction remains open to book contributions until 11 March). You can register and make bids from today but the official launch and public auction period is from 11–25 March 2022.

Lately, we’ve enjoyed a few lovely walks through the fields around Dorchester and here are some photos to prove it.

Otherwise, we’re in the throes of preparing for next departure. Come 1 April we’re heading to Edinburgh for thirteen weeks. Watch this space for updates.

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Submission journey for The Girl and the Tutor

As I mentioned in my last post, I’m currently working through a list of literary agents who appear to be a good match for my latest novel, a work of psychological fiction titled The Girl and the Tutor. Every submission requires a different configuration of pitch and synopsis. Here’s the latest information I’ve been sending out:

The Girl and the Tutor is a topical novel with its focus on historic offences and would make a good book club read with discussion around the individual journeys of the two main characters. Although middle aged, Stephanie continues on a path of personal development where the teenage Carolyn grows into an emotionally-stunted adult due to her obsession with the maths tutor who let her down. To include diversity in the novel, Stephanie’s housemate is a successful business woman with Gujarati/Ugandan heritage. Prior to Covid-19, I volunteered in Uganda and with the fiftieth anniversary of the expulsion of Asians by Idi Amin approaching, I feel this is timely.

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News about Huxley!

Following my last post with details of a free giveaway for This Much Huxley Knows during the weekend 8/9 January, I thought you might like to know what happened. My publisher at Black Rose Writing reported there were 2,653 downloads worldwide. This resulted in Huxley hitting the Amazon best seller lists for free downloads in USA, UK and Australia with Canada taking the top ranking where it came #25 for a day. I was also thrilled to see the novel had been downloaded in Japan and made it to #28 of the free foreign language books.

As a result of this promotion, the stats figures on Goodreads have shot up with fifty more readers adding This Much Huxley Knows to their reading lists.

There’s also been an increased number of reviews and ratings, both on Goodreads and Amazon.

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A heads up for you

Happy New Year to all you lovely readers of The Writer is a Lonely Hunter. To celebrate six months since the launch of This Much Huxley Knows, my publisher Black Rose Writing, has decided to make my second novel for adults free to download this weekend. Grab your chance to connect with the adorable Huxley, a wise young narrator who shines a light on the follies of adults. Book bloggers have been enthusiastic in their praise for the story – you can read a snapshot of their reviews here:

Huxley is a totally lovable character that I defy anyone not to adore by the end ⭐⭐⭐⭐⭐ Julie Morris, A Little Book Problem

This warm, compassionate book captures the voice of seven-year-old Huxley perfectly ⭐⭐⭐⭐⭐ Karen Cole, Hair Past A Freckle

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