the writer is a lonely hunter

writing by Gail Aldwin and other authors

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?

Leave a comment »

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.

3 Comments »

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:

Read the rest of this entry »
5 Comments »

Acts of kindness on Twitter

If you’re active on Twitter, you’ve probably seen tweets about This Much Huxley Knows bounding around your screen. I’ve been fortunate to have the support of many book bloggers who generously tweet about my recently published novel. And there are others on Twitter who retweet about reviews and posts and yet more who share details. Whenever this happens, I like to find out more about the kind person who is helping to spread the word about Huxley. Often I follow them and sometimes I make contact. This is what happened when I came across a tweet from author Stevie Turner. She has such a interesting website with information about her books, her awards and certificates and much more. There are also pages offering support to other authors including interviews. When I read some of the fascinating conversations with a whole range of creative people, I wanted to be amongst their ranks. And following my moto, there’s no harm in asking, I sent an email request. Stevie was very gracious in her reply. She thought up a list of twenty questions which I answered and Q&A now appears on her website. It’s such a boon to have the support of another writer.

Now that the interview is live, can I encourage you to pop over for a read? And while you’re there, do have a look around Stevie’s website to find out more about this generous, multi-genre author and blogger. Here’s the link.

2 Comments »

Meet Sundy Flor, Book Blogger at Books Unfold

I came across Sundy Flor’s Twitter account when I was investigating book bloggers online. I checked out her website, Books Unfold, and was impressed with the beautiful graphics she creates to accompany her posts and the interesting format for her reviews. I contacted Sundy Flor to see if she would be interested in reading and reviewing This Much Huxley Knows. She agreed and absolutely loved the novel, you can read the review here. We’ve had several email exchanges since then and it occurred to me readers of The Writer is a Lonely Hunter might be interested in learning more about book blogging and the new fangled Bookstagramming. Who better to ask than Sundy Flor?

Q&A with Sundy Flor from Books Unfold

Can you tell readers about yourself, where you’re from and Books Unfold?

I am Sundy Flor from Davao City, Philippines. I am an avid reader of books from Fantasy and Young Adult to Nonfiction. Books Unfold is my blog where I share my thoughts and the things I learned from books.

Read the rest of this entry »
10 Comments »

Round up of activities since publication

It was a fortnight ago that This Much Huxley Knows was released. Since then, lots has happened including a Twitter launch which involved some love authors sharing their experiences of childhood to celebrate my seven-year-old narrator, Huxley.

Read the rest of this entry »
Leave a comment »

You’re invited!

There’s going to be a Twitter launch party at 3pm BST on Thursday 15 July to celebrate the release of This Much Huxley Knows. Everyone is welcome, especially you!

Twitter launches are a lot of fun and provide the opportunity for readers and writers to mingle virtually and chat about books and reading. To join, all you need to do is use the hashtag #ThisMuchHuxleyKnows in your tweets to follow the conversations. It’s best if you use a social media management programme like Tweetdeck (https://tweetdeck.twitter.com) which allows you to filter tweets with searches on hashtags or specific accounts.

This is what my Tweetdeck looks like and you can see from the columns what I’m following.

If you’d like to start using Tweetdeck, Twitter provides two excellent step-by-step guides covering both the basic (here) and advanced features (here). YouTube is also a great source for user generated how-to videos about using Tweetdeck, such as here or here. (Thank you to Women Writers’ Network for the links.)

I’d love to have you join the Twitter launch for This Much Huxley Knows. It lasts for just one hour and there’ll be questions to put everyone at ease and start chatting. If you need a little more advice or encouragement, do get in touch by emailing gail@gailaldwin.com.

Leave a comment »

Come celebrate publication day!

It’s been a long time coming, but today sees the release of This Much Huxley Knows.

The fountain may be dry but the champagne will flow…
Read the rest of this entry »
6 Comments »

Meet author Paula R C Readman

I’m delighted to introduce Paula R C Readman to readers of The Writers is a Lonely Hunter. Paula and I have been previously published in anthologies by Bridge House Publishing and have met at celebration events. As we’ve both had novels published this year, we thought it would be a good idea to share our experiences. Paula’s answers to a series of questions are posted below.

1) What type of books or genre do you write?

I would class myself as a horror writer, or at least, the darker shade of pale because of my love of Victorian ghost stories. It’s the simplicity of how the Victorians told their dark tales without relying on the use of blood, guts and gore which I love most.  I hope I’ve recreated their chilling tension in my stories too. Of course I do add a bit more bite to my tales as and when they need it, but I don’t overdo it or add it for an unnecessary shock element.    

Of course, die-hard horror fans might find my work more cosy horror/crime rather than what they are looking for, but I feel there’s a market for my kind of work. It’s just finding the right place to market my books, which has me stumped as it isn’t quite horror and not quite a crime novel. I categorise my writing as Gothic Crime.  

2) What was your inspiration behind Seeking the Dark book?

Seeking the Dark is a vampire story with a twist. When I first wrote the novel back in 2005 I had no idea how to write a book.  I had some success with writing nonfiction articles about researching my Readman family roots in Whitby, North Yorkshire

 After suffering a couple of rejections with the nonfiction, I decided to turn my hand to writing short stories. I wrote a story about a girl catching the last bus home. In the last paragraph the twist is revealed and the reader discovers that she’s a vampire. I took the short story into work and showed it to a friend I trusted. Lisa liked the story but wanted to know more about the girl. The short story then became a book. It went through many changes as I learnt the skills needed to refine my ability to write. I have sent it out to quite a few publishers over the years. Unsurprisingly, it suffered quite a few rejections, but on receiving plenty of good feedback it kept me motivated. In the end, I set it to one side and focused on writing short stories for publication as I wanted to build a writing CV of published work in hope to increase my chances of finding a publisher. It wasn’t until my third written novel was published that I decided to submit Seeking the Dark after I had finished editing it again.    

3) Give a short taster of your plotline, and introduce us to your main character. 

Investigative journalist, Jacob Eldritch, is obsessed with solving the mystery of the Dead Men Sleeping, a series of unexplained deaths, but he isn’t aware that the Dark force is gathering strength. 

One evening, he spots a man leading a white-haired beauty through the crowds at his local bar.  A few days later, he sees her again at a hotel, in the company of a different man.  A week later, both men are dead and the police add their names to the unexplained death list. 

While conducting some background research at the library, a young girl doing her homework gives Jacob an unexpected clue. This turns the mystery of the Dead Men Sleeping on its head when he discovers they’re linked to the death of a Whitby ship owner two hundred and twenty-four years ago. 

As the Dark closes in, Jacob must fight, but will he survive?  

4) How did you choose the names of your characters?

I have two books which I tend to reach for when deciding on my main characters’ names, plus I collect interesting names from the television while watching the news. 

The Dictionary of Surnames, by Mark Anthony Lower is part of a collection of nonfiction books I kept from my days spent researching my family history. The second book is a Dictionary of Fictional Characters by William Freeman. I pick and mix my character’s name though sometimes the characters tell me their names as they develop in my mind. I’m dyslectic so find it difficult to pronounce certain names. If I keep stumbling over them when reading my work aloud, I have to change it for something that flows off my tongue.     

5) Will your readers find your main character likeable or not?

Yes, I think most readers will find Jacob Eldritch likeable. He’s very much your boy next-door type of a guy, though he can be a bit self-contained as he has a failed marriage behind him because of his obsession. I hope the readers find Amanita Virosa an intriguing character, if a little scary.   

6) How did you choose the title for your book? Had you chosen the title before writing the book, or on completion?

Seeking the Dark has changed titles four times as I was concerned that the first few ideas were too religious and might put readers off. The final idea for the book title came from a comment I heard on a radio show when driving home from work. The radio guest said, “Well, it was like seeking in the dark.” I have no memory of what they were chatting about, as all I could do was just keep repeating the phrase Seeking the Dark until I got home so I could write it down.

7) How did you choose the cover picture? Did you have an idea of what you would like?

I always imagined the book cover would have a woman wearing a large brimmed hat that covered the top half of her face as I always saw Amanita as the lead character in the book. She would be holding a champagne glass, with a half-smile playing on her lips. For years, I had focused on her point of view, but while editing the book last year, I suddenly had a light bulb moment and realised that Jacob was in fact the main character.  This helped when my publisher at Darkstroke asked me to select a cover picture from a website. I first looked on Amazon at the same category as my book came under to see what the norm was. Most of the books under Vampires had bloody fangs and neck chewing. I wanted my book to stand out from the crowd as it isn’t a straightforward vampire novel.  On seeing the cover picture I chose, I felt it had both elements of my plotline and title. I hoped it would speak to the reader as the picture shows Jacob at the bottom and the ominous Dark hanging over him. 

8) If a film maker chose your book to adapt, would you be happy with a based on version film or series, or would you want them to stick as closely as possible to your original idea? What wouldn’t you be happy with .i.e. too much violence, complete change of character etc.? 

Hmm, this is a difficult question to answer because I know that a filmmaker has a limited amount of time in which to tell the story. A novel gives an author more freedom to explore different elements within their storyline. I hope I would at least recognise my characters, and they wouldn’t just focus on the sex and violent parts within my plotline.  

9) Have you started writing your next book? Is it something original or a follow on novel?

As the Crow Flies isn’t quite a follow on to The Funeral Birds as that was a novella. It will be more of a standalone which allows me to go into more background details of the main characters. Most of the readers that reviewed the book wanted to know more about the characters especially Granny Wenlock and who she was. As The Crow Flies will be a darker book with the same sense of humour between the husband and wife private detective agency team.    

10) While writing the book did you have a light bulb moment when everything came together, and what triggered it?  

As I’ve already said, for years I had focused on Amanita Virosa being the main character in the novel. Since 2005 while writing the book and re-editing over the years I had always seen it from her point of view until last year.  For eight straight months, I worked, with an online friend, Kim Martin on editing Stone Angels. In that time I learnt a great deal from her. 

Once my first published novel, Stone Angels was accepted by Darkstroke I then worked alongside the publisher on its final edits. All the skills I learnt from both Kim and Laurence, I then put into action when editing Seeking the Dark. As I was editing the novel, it became clear that Jacob had the stronger point of view. This revelation became the turning point in the novel’s life and made it far easier to edit. I feel it’s a more powerful book too.   

Thank you so much for being my guest, Paula. You’ve give some really good insights into your writing process.

Paula’s novels are well worth reading so do use the links below to buy your copy.

Purchase Links

Seeking The Dark, Stone AngelsThe Funeral Birds, Days Pass Like a Shadow

Social Media Links

Blog: https://paularcreadmanauthor.blog
Facebook: https://facebook.com/paula.readman.1
Twitter: Paula R C Readman@Darkfantasy13

6 Comments »

#GuestPost from Gail Aldwin #Author of ‘This Much Huxley Knows’ ~ A Story of Innocence, Misunderstandings, and Acceptance @gailaldwin

I am delighted to have a piece on Cathy Ry’s blog about the background stories to some of the fictional settings in This Much Huxley Knows. Click here to pop over for a read.

2 Comments »