the writer is a lonely hunter

writing by Gail Aldwin and other authors

Life Coaching Benefits

An interesting take on what to do when lack of progress in writing gets you down.

Sally Jenkins

Earlier this year I was feeling despondent about my writing. Over the previous three years I’d had the excitement of securing an agent, working with her on two books and then the subsequent deep disappointment when none of her submissions to the big publishers were successful. The whole act of writing seemed a fool’s game: the short story market was shrinking, publishers preferred to invest in well-known names to guarantee book sales and, during lockdown, everyone seemed to have become a writer. I was on the verge of giving up. Then, on social media, I discovered trainee life coach, Elizabeth Scott. I explained that I was at a crossroads in my writing career and didn’t know how to move forward or whether to give up completely. Elizabeth offered me three virtual coaching sessions.

Did the sessions work?

Elizabeth Scott Life Coach Elizabeth Scott

Yes. Elizabeth didn’t offer direct advice on what to do…

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Navigating Technology as a Writer

I received an email recently enquiring about my skills at navigating technology as a writer. I was invited to share my favourite hacks and short cuts in using Microsoft Word. In answer to the question what’s your best technology tip? I recommend use of the read aloud function. I use a MacBook Air and it’s easy to set up this facility following these easy instructions. You can even choose the gender of your computer-generated voice. For Microsoft support click here.

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Plans for 2023 and Ávila

While I was in Guatemala in 2019, I made a friend who’d volunteered with VaughanTown. I’d never heard of the organisation so she explained how she’d been recruited as a native English speaker to improve the language skills of Spanish business people. The commitment involves six days of timetabled activities to develop the participants’ spoken language skills whilst staying at a good quality hotel located close to Madrid. Travel to and from Madrid is at the volunteer’s expense but all food and accommodation is covered by the organisation. I squirrelled away this information for future reference. Recently, I’ve been thinking about writing a novel with a business woman as the protagonist and realised VaughanTown might make and ideal setting for the action to take place. Call this research, another overseas trip or a working holiday, I sensed an application taking shape.

The online form involves writing a bio including the following information:

  • Please tell us where you are from, who you are, what your interests and passions are, what your background is and about your education.
  • Tell us about places you have travelled to or lived in and what you loved about them. Tell us all about you!
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Reviewing The Artist’s Way: Weeks 7 and 8

Inspiring lessons from Rita E Gould on how to use Julia Cameron’s The Artist’s Way to heal artistic wounds.

Rita E. Gould: An Artful Sequence of Words

After examining some major creative blocks over several weeks, week 7 shifts the discourse by looking into the kind of mindset we should embrace for creativity. With these insights in mind, Cameron returns to dissecting creative blocks associated with time in week 8. Much like week 4, week 8 represents a turning point as we begin to look at healing our artistic wounds.

Week 7: Recovering a Sense of Connection


Providing a welcome respite from reconsidering our negative conditioning, week 7 focuses on practicing what Cameron defines as the right attitudes for creativity, beginning with listening. Cameron reminds us that we’re strengthening our listening skills with morning pages and the artist’s date, which respectively helps us hear past our inner censor and tap into inspiration. Describing inspiration as “getting something down” instead of “doing”, she asserts that another party (God, the universe) accomplishes the “doing”. Connecting inspiration to listening…

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Botanical Short Stories: call for submissions

Emma Timpany won the Dorchester Literary Festival writing Prize in 2019. See what she’s up to now!

Emma Timpany

I am looking for short stories by new, emerging and established writers which are approximately 3,000-5,000 words long. Please see the submission guidelines on the Botanical Short Stories website for further details.

From tokens of love to neolithic burial gifts, bridal bouquets to seasonal wreaths, healing potions to artistic masterpieces, flowers and plants have a multitude of meanings and a long and complex relationship with all our lives. They are the stuff of myth, of gods’ metamorphoses and the emblems of kings and saints. They brighten our homes and bring joy to our senses, delight us in gardens and countryside, convey our emotions, symbolise new birth and human mortality, and yet are often overlooked as an inspiration for writers of fiction. This stunning collection of contemporary fiction will celebrate the world of flowers and plants and the meanings they hold, in twelve intriguing and surprising new short stories.


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How to win a publishing contract

For anyone on Twitter, you may have come across online pitching events that encourage writers to compose a tweet using 280 characters to get their story under the eyes of literary agents and publishers. If the tweet is ‘liked’ there’s an opportunity to submit a query letter, synopsis of the work and the first three chapters for consideration. It’s a good way to bypass the slush pile and I’ve attracted some interest by honing my elevator pitch to the size of a tweet. In previous twitter pitches I’ve used the following to describe my latest novel (the words in capitals suggest comparable titles):


Menopausal journalist rediscovers her mojo by developing a true crime podcast about a missing West Country teenager in 1979. The dual timeline reveals the girl’s story of infatuation and exploitation with an unforgettable twist. 

Earlier this year, I saw another twitter pitch advertised by Bloodhound Books, a leading independent publisher based in Cambridge.

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The joy of an itinerant life

I’m back in Dorchester after five and a half months away. Although the weather is autumnal, I’m still feeling the buzz of summer. We had a splendid time in London, renting a room from friends and travelling into town for visits to theatres and other venues. I enjoyed Witness for the Prosecution based on an Agatha Christie short story and staged in County Hall. My grandpa worked for the London County Council until retirement and it was great to be in a grand committee room and imagine he was once there.

The one musical I saw was Dear Evan Hansen about a young man who sells his soul to Facebook. I enjoyed the show where meaningful songs and ideas around redemption provide counterbalance to tragedy. Twice we went to Holland Park Opera where free shows were offered on the steps outside the building. Here’s a photo of two performers from the opera Little Women.

Our niece sang and played during Piano Friday nights at the Tabard Inn in Chiswick.

We also did a lot of walking in preparation for our trip from Porto to Santiago de Compostela at the beginning of September. It wasn’t a proper camino as we didn’t have enough time to cover the distance but with friends we walked 15 miles each day for one week (and took three train journeys). Here are some highlights.

It’s great coming home after an extended period away to see Dorset in a new light. I’m looking forward to what the autumn has to offer.


A little writing progress

The completed novel I’ve been querying with agents since January has a new name. It started life as Little Swot, then changed to Extra Lessons. Following advice from a bestselling author, it became The Girl and the Tutor and now with feedback from a publisher it’s become The Secret Life of Carolyn Russell. The novel remains the same, a dual timeline mystery with a menopausal journalist digging into the cold case of a missing teenager from 1979 to create a true crime podcast. I came close to gaining representation for this novel from a literary agent when we had a Zoom call to discuss the project last month. There were a few things she said which caused concern so I was almost relieved when she emailed the next day to say we weren’t a good fit. Now I’m back in the querying trenches – wish me luck!

Can you find my picture here?

In the meantime, I’ve had a little success with competition entries to the Page Turner Awards. I submitted my completed novel into the Writing Award and my work in progress Escape Village Resort into Writing Mentorship (for unfinished manuscripts). Both have been awarded a finalist badge which means they’re in the running but against many many other entries. Next hurdle is the longlist. Keep your fingers crossed for me!


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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