The writer is a lonely hunter

gailaldwin

A sense of place fiction workshop

Flyer for Rosanna

I am delighted to announce that in partnership with Waterstones Dorchester, the Dorset Writers Network are offering the following workshop with Rosanna Ley at Waterstones in Dorchester on Sunday 5 November 2017, 1:30-3:30pm.

A Sense of Place Fiction Writing Workshop with Rosanna Ley

Does your fiction lack a sense of place? By the time you leave the workshop you will:
  • understand the role of place in fiction: where to go and what to do in terms of research for your story or novel
  • develop atmosphere in your descriptive writing using all the senses and visualisation
  • learn how to connect your viewpoint character with their surroundings
Places limited to 12
Cost £15
Click here to book through the DWN website.
Rosanna Ley has written numerous articles and short stories for magazines. Her novels The Villa, Bay of Secrets, Return to Mandalay, The Saffron Trail, Last Dance in Havana and The Little Theatre by the Sea have been published in the UK and widely overseas. Rosanna has also worked as a creative writing tutor for over 20 years. She has led courses for colleges and universities in England, and runs her own writing retreats and holidays in the UK and in stunning locations in Europe. She lives with her artist husband in West Dorset and her favourite writing place is anywhere with a sea view.
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Salisbury half

It was a year ago when I was in Salisbury with friends from New Malden at the time of the Salisbury half marathon. The finish line is close to the cathedral and as we watched participants walk away in specially printed T-shirts and wearing medals, my friend Deborah suggested we should enter the following year. She said it would be a great achievement, a target for our exercise plans and a life changing event. I had never run before (apart from occasions when I needed to catch a bus) and had no interest in running. But, by the end of the day, I had agreed to enter the Salisbury half in 2017.

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Before the start, Salisbury half

I spent the next couple of months trying to work out how I could get out of this commitment. By November I realised no excuses would be accepted and bought a pair of running shoes. At the end of December, I went to park run for the first time and completed the 5km route although I did walk the hilly bits in Richmond Park. The next park run was the flat course at Weymouth where I found that running wasn’t too bad. It was in January 2017 that I signed up for the half marathon – you can see I was one of the first from the number 3 I wore.

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On 1 October 2017, I completed my first half marathon. My practice runs hadn’t been more than 10 miles, so this was the longest course I’d ever completed. I was determined to run all the way round and to finish before the three-hour limit. In spite of rain, I ran the course in 2 hours 51 minutes and am now the proud owner of this medal.

I’m now thinking of entering the Casterbridge half which takes place in Dorchester on 27 May 2018.  Who would have thought it?

 

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Happenings in Dorchester

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I was invited to the launch of the Dorchester Literary Festival last week to represent the Dorset Writers’ Network. Held at Duke’s Fine Art Salesrooms there was a mingling of sponsors and supporters plus writers including Kate Adie. It was a splendid event and included the launch of a new competition. The DFL Local Writing Prize invites self-published authors in the South West (and those who have been published by an independent publisher in the South West) to submit copies of their full-length fiction or non-fiction books for this prize. This is a wonderful opportunity for a local writer to gain national recognition and a chance to win £1000. Find more details here.

While I was happy chatting with fellow DFL volunteers, my friend decided we should make an effort to talk to others. We introduced ourselves group who turned out to work for WessexFM and Breakfast in Dorchester. This was the most successful piece of networking I’ve ever done! The next day I was contacted by Breakfast in Dorchester and invited to talk about National Poetry Day. You can hear the recording of me (I speak at 1:57:39, Sarah Barr at 42:41 and Myriam San Marco, Bournemouth Poet Laureate at 1:19:30) by clicking here. (The recording is available until 27 October 2017.)

As part of the interview, I was able to promote the Dorset Writers’ Network Open House at Dorchester Library on 7 October from 10am-1pm. This is a free event for anyone who is interested in writing. Whether you’re new to writing or want to make a start, we can offer advice and encouragement. If you’re a published writer wishing to meet others, the Dorset Writers’ Network is here to support you. I hope to see some of you on Saturday!

 

 

 

 

 

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Writers’ Open House

Do come along to this event if you’re a published writer or just beginning your writing journey.

Flyer for 7 October

About the Dorset Writers Network

Run by a voluntary steering group, the Dorset Writers Network offers support to writers across the county including isolated writers in rural areas. Their last funded project resulted in the publication of an anthology by Dorset writers titled This Little World.

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In Vienna

We spent five days in Vienna in early September. It is a great city to walk around and when we got tired it was easy to catch a tram or tube back to our hotel. (I can recommend the Kugel Hotel in a good location with outstandingly helpful staff and an excellent breakfast). We were based in the museum quarter and went to loads of galleries with exhibitions of Klimt and Schiele (the Upper Belvedere was particularly stunning with displays that showed connections between the two artists). Hotel staff recommended a visit to the opera and after an hour long wait (those wearing shorts were turned away) we got standing tickets to Il Trovatore for three euros each.

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with my very tall family members

The food was another highlight:

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melon cocktail with a rasher of streaky bacon as a garnish

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cake and tea for me

 

 

 

 

 

But the highlight was eating beside the Danube canal at Meierei at Stadtpark  (hotel staff made the reservation) where we enjoyed a delicious meal and I ordered venison goulash.

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venison goulash with curd cheese toast, broccoli and black walnut

 

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Edinburgh International Book Festival 2017, best bits

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Photograph by Jim Barton

I was fortunate to attend many different events at the book festival this year but these are my highlights:

Ian Stephen and Philip Hoare shared their passion for sailing and the sea. Ian read from his brilliant new book Waypoints (I bought a copy and am looking forward to diving in) and Philip talked about his wonderful obsession with whales.

A ten minute reading at 10am by Yrsa Sigurdardottir had me enthralled by her new novel The Legacy.

The Bosco Theatre on George Street was venue for a remarkable poetry performance by Scottish poets Jenny Lindsay and Michael Pedersen who were joined by poets from Australia Luka Lesson and Omar Musa.

I also attended a workshop offered by Elizabeth Reeder which discussed the novel Skating to Antarctica by Jenny Diski. Another one for my reading list.

 

 

 

 

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White Stuff, Edinburgh

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Besides the fringe shows and book festival events I found a wonderful distraction in White Stuff on George Street, Edinburgh. When I went to try on a jumper I found an amazing passage of wardrobes with each door leading into a changing room uniquely decorated.

There was the Havisham room with a discarded wedding dress hanging from a peg.

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Behind another wardrobe door was a potting shed complete with equipment.

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This is my favourite, a 1950s kitchen.

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The changing room entered through the yellow wardrobe door was the last one I visited.

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I had to laugh when I saw what was inside.

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Following me into the changing room, the assistant warned me that the toilet was not plumbed in. I wonder if they’ve had accidents in the past!

In case you’re wondering, I did buy the jumper.

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Flat out July

 

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After four years of hard work I submitted my novel and thesis to the University of South Wales on Friday 28 July. This is in partial fulfilment of a PhD in creative writing.  The next hurdle is the viva but in the meantime I’m savouring the feeling of being unencumbered with studies. But the writing does not stop here. I’m going through my novel with edits to try to secure a publisher for The String Games and a collection of flash fiction is currently with the editor of Bridge House Publishing and will be released later this year.

Looks like it will be flat out August as well!

 

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# Finally getting to grips with hashtags

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I have revived my interest in Twitter (you can find me @gailaldwin) and I’m now seeing the benefits of using hashtags. This is a way to find likeminded people on social media and the current hashtags I’m using frequently are:

#dorsethour – a chance to touch base with others who are passionate about Dorset. Online every Monday from 7:30pm – 8:30pm

#Devonbookhour – chat about books online each Monday from 8pm-9pm

#Tuesnews – lots of members of the Romantic Novelists’ Association use this hashtag to share information on Tuesdays

#women_writers – highlight the achievements of women writers by using this hashtag

#digitalinclusion – came across this hashtag as part of the digital story project where I made the two-minute film  Journey

#womenintranslation –  find out about notable female authors whose work has been translated. Also see #WITmonth held in August which celebrates women in translation

For further information on how to make the most of hashtags see Neetsmarketing.

 

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Fashion as an inspiration for writing

The Wimborne Writing Group went on a summer outing this week to the Blandford Fashion Museum. Tucked away behind the market square in a delightful Georgian house, the fashion collection of the founder, Mrs Betty Penny, forms the basis of the displays. I loved looking at garments from the 1960s and 1970s and remembered owning dresses with Laura Ashley flower prints. My favourite exhibit was a mini dress and hot pants set made from lime green cotton with white trim. It was sleeveless with off centre decorative lacing on the skirt in matching white cotton.

Sarah Barr  who leads the  Wimborne Writing Group, provided some prompts for writing as we browsed the displays. She suggested we find an outfit we liked and to imagine:

  • who the owner would have been
  • what they were like
  • their name, age and occupation

Why don’t you have a go at writing a short piece of prose by using Sarah’s prompts and applying them to this lovely exhibit?

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1960s Mini Dress and Hot Pants Set

Get in touch if you’re willing to share your story.

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