the writer is a lonely hunter

writing by Gail Aldwin and other authors

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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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):

THE WIDOW x HIGH FIDELITY

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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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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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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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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