the writer is a lonely hunter

writing by Gail Aldwin and other authors

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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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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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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R3COMM3ND3D from Damp Pebbles

Towards the end of each year, Emma Welton at Damp Pebbles invites book bloggers, bookstagrammers and published authors to choose three must-read titles published in that year. There are 50 posts in total for 2021 and currently there’s over 110 individual publications listed including This Much Huxley Knows. Thank you so much to Julie Morris at A Little Book Problem who recommends my novel and says:

This is a book that will have slipped under many people’s radar as it isn’t published by a mainstream publisher and I think that is a great shame because I don’t think I have ever read a book that so clearly describes life from the point of view of a child or captures so brilliantly the joy and pain of being a seven-year-old that doesn’t quite fit in. This is such an individual book, both saddening and uplifting to read and it deserves a really wide audience. I hope including it encourages more people to pick it up.

In other pre-Christmas news, I was interviewed by Melanie at Grab The Lapels in one of her regular Meet the Author posts. The interesting questions generated discussion amongst readers which you can follow here.

We’re away over the Christmas week (all being well) but we still decorated our tree. Doesn’t it look pretty?

If I don’t post again before the holidays, please accept my good wishes for Christmas.

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Small press promotion

I’ve learnt about the positives and pitfalls of publication with small presses by the process. Rather than dwell on the pitfalls, I’d say one of the huge advantages to working with small presses is the support and encouragement gained from other authors with the same press. It’s great to feel part of the group and to support each other by offering early reviews, sharing posts on social media and generally being a cheer leader for each other’s successes.

When Black Rose Writing author, Christina Consolino offered an invitation to fellow authors to join her in a Christmas Giveaway, I jumped at the chance. I’d read and thoroughly enjoyed her women’s novel Rewrite the Stars which considers the options for a mother of three as her marriage implodes due to her husband’s PTSD. Other authors involved in the giveaway include Linda Rosen. Her latest novel is Sisters of the Vine and you can read all about Linda and her writing in the interview I conducted here. I also enjoyed reading Jason Lady’s middle grade fiction Super Problems. I am in the process of reading books by other authors in the giveaway but from what I’ve read so far, I can thoroughly recommend you enter to win a bumper prize of eight electronic books. It’s easy to do, just lick on this link, which takes you to a google form where you’ll need to add your name and email address. The giveaway is open from today (14 November) until 14 December at noon ET when the winner will be selected.

The form only takes a minute to complete, what not give it a go?

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Having a blast at the Mani Lit Fest

Over the weekend, I was delighted to present a workshop and talk at the Mani Lit Fest in the Peloponnese, Greece. The invitation came as a good excuse to continue our itinerant lifestyle and we’re spending the next month roaming around the country. Stoupa makes a delightful starting point and the Mani Lit Fest was a wonderful event to be involved with. I delivered a Get Creative! workshop where I shared prompts and exercises to generate ideas for short fiction. One of the participants had read This Much Huxley Knows and throughly recommended my novel to the gathered group. The following day, I gave a talk about my experience of being published by small presses. This was well received and an email arrived soon after from a member of the audience who said my input was thought provoking and reassuring.

There was a real buzz around the Lit Fest. The highlights for me included a talk from James Heneage (founder of the Chalke Valley History Festival and Ottakar’s bookshop chain) who shared stories from his new book The Shortest History of Greece. Carol McGrath gave a hilarious presentation on Sex and Sexuality in Tudor England (the name of her forthcoming non-fiction book) and then there was a delicious introduction to the cookbook Salt and Honey from Nicholas Tsakiris and his daughter. (David followed a chilli lentil recipe last night which was very tasty.)

The Lit Fest was held at a local restaurant where the venue created a cocktail in honour of Huxley. A non-alcoholic drink (Huxley is only seven years old) can you guess what it contains?

There was also delicious cake (enough for two) called Ekmek Kataifi. It’s made with a layer of syrupy shredded filo pastry, another of vanilla custard, a layer of whipped cream and topped with pistachios. It goes very well with Greek coffee although I think it’s also good with tea.

If you’d like to enter the Mani Lit Fest Flash Fiction Competition (I’m the judge), send up to 1000 words on the theme of return. The competition is free to enter and is open until 30 November 2021.

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Newsflash: competition longlist

For those of you who aren’t active on social media, I’d like to share the news that my work-in-progess has been longlisted in the Novel London Literary Award. This competition invites international submissions for complete works of fiction, which may be unpublished, self published or newly published. As my manuscript is up against published novels I don’t expect it will get any further in the competition but it’s good to see my details on the publicity poster. Well done to all longlistees.

I’m continuing to work on the manuscript following feedback from beta readers. I’ve also changed the title from Little Swot to Extra Lessons which better reflects the novel. Here’s the draft blurb:

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