The writer is a lonely hunter


# 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.



Going it alone

You may remember I won a prize in 2012 to have a collection of my short fiction titled Four Buses printed. While it was lovely to win a competition, I didn’t realise what was involved in producing a print-ready pdf of the collection. I was fortunate to have the help of Julie Musk with the process but how do others approach the task of self-publishing?

The Dorset Writers’ Network drew upon the support of Helen Baggott to help in the production of a wonderful anthology of short stories titled This Little World. It occurred to me that others might be interested to know how Helen can support writers wishing to self-publish.

Helen Baggott

Helen Baggott, Copy-editor and Proofreader. Partner Member of the Alliance of Independent Authors (ALLi) and an Associate of The Society of Authors.

Helen edits and proofreads manuscripts, she also works with authors preparing their documents for self-publishing – as e-books and paperbacks. A lack of confidence in computer skills shouldn’t be the reason a writer can’t experience the thrill of seeing their work published.

She’s passionate about supporting indie authors and as a member of ALLi, she is able to pass on tips and hints that might not be easily accessible to anyone embarking on a self-publishing journey. ALLi is committed to raising the standard of self-published books.

She often half-jokes that no-one will come knocking on an author’s door, asking if they have a book to sell. Marketing is also part of the self-publishing journey and she is able to help with advice on that too. You can find Helen at

Helen has done some work for me in proofreading a manuscript and she’s recently supported Sue Stephenson in putting together an e-book. Sue has seen a massive increase in the traffic to her blog where readers have been searching the archive to find posts of a story called Powerless – The Year The Lights Went Out. The story has proved so popular that Sue’s taken the step of self-publishing Powerless as an e-book. You can find out more about it here, or visit amazon to purchase a copy. It’s a wonderful story that imagines what it would be like to suddenly have to live without power. The characters show such resilience and resourcefulness – it’s a fresh and absorbing read.


Back to normal

I’ve finished the fourth week of a new job, have submitted my transfer paper to PhD and printed out what I hope will be the final draft of my novel How to be Brave. One last read through, then the manuscript will be off to a proof reader. We have had a house full of visitors and done several long walks. I’ve rejoined the Dorchester Film Society for the seventh year (very good film called Ida screened last week) and I’m continuing my work with the Dorset Writers’ Network. More news about from the network soon, including an exciting day for writers in November at Dorchester Library.

There are currently free writing workshops on offer in Dorchester with the Boris Starling. I’ve signed up for one on 6 November about plotting. You can find further details here.

Happy writing!


All quiet at the Writer is a Lonely Hunter

It’s been very quiet on this blog over the summer. While I have been busy writing, there has also been some time away. I had a fantastic week at the Edinburgh International Book Festival where I was introduced to writers including Etgar Keret, who talked about his recently published  The Seven Good Years. In this memoire, he shares the experience of living in Israel with parents who were holocaust survivors. The memoire covers the period from the birth of his son to the death of his father. I bought a copy of his short fiction titled Suddenly, a Knock on the Door and he signed the book in a unique style. And, although I’m not much of a photographer the light in Edinburgh one evening was so amazing that I took the shot below.

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Writing places: a new project

Thomas Hardy's Cottage

Thomas Hardy’s Cottage

The National Trust, Literature Works and the Poetry Archive have formed a new partnership to offer to offer a programme of events celebrating the literary heritage of the South West. The launch of the programme was held on 2 July (the birth date of Thomas Hardy) at Max Gate. As an invited guests, I toured the house, listened to Andrew Motion read from a forthcoming collection of poetry and found out more about the project. Five National Trust properties with strong literary connections, including Max Gate and Hardy’s Cottage,  will have professional writers appointed to act as writers-in-residence. The purpose is to explore ‘the domestic lives of some of the country’s greatest writers, revealing how the houses and landscape that they loved inspired them to create their masterpieces, and how these places continue to be relevant today’.  A programme of workshops and events will be developed so that writers and visitors can contribute to the project. Find out about developments as the programmes progress by visiting the Writing Places blog.

As a result of the launch, I’ve discovered it’s well worth visiting the Poetry Archive.  I spent a delightful couple of hours listening to poets read from their work. By following  a tour of the archive with Mark Grist and David Almond (there are many tours to choose from), I was introduced to new poetry, which I loved. The experience encouraged me to try my hand a writing a poem – the first one since school days!


How to find a pen name

At one particularly difficult writing group meeting, when I yet again presented the synopsis of my novel for discussion, a fellow writer told me that it wasn’t worth bothering with a synopsis, as I was too old to be published! Although I am probably one of the youngest members of the group, there is a grain of truth in the comment. Many of the debut novelists that I follow, some now into their second or third book, do have youth on their side. This got me thinking.

Chuck Palahniuk’s advice, which I’ve written about here, suggests getting an author photograph taken while young, and reuse it frequently. Not that I am young or that I’ve done anything about this, but the idea remains. Another problem is my name. Many first names are indicative of the timeframe of birth and although Gail was never a particularly popular name, it does have echoes of the 1960s. Indeed, when I checked this out, I found that Gail was the 94th most popular name in America in 1961.  If you click on the screenshot that follows and insert the information required, you can find out what your name would be today, according to the ranking of popularity for your year of birth.

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Blogs to follow

I have been doing a little work for the Dorset Writers’ Network in compiling a list of blogs to support flash fiction writers. You can find the link by clicking here. In the process, I reflected on the blogs which I find helpful and came up with the following. This is not an exhaustive list, just a taster of what’s out there. If you have any blogs you’d like to recommend, please let me know by clicking here to contact me. Enjoy!

I first became interested in writers’ blogs after attending a social media workshop delivered by Emma Newman. I wanted to gain ideas for promoting my writing and reporting on writing progress through a blog. Emma suggested following a few blogs before launching myself onto the web and I duly took her advice. I still find Emma’s blog worth reading and it’s especially pertinent for writers working in the genre of young adult fiction, post-apocalyptic fiction and the science fiction and fantasy genre.

Em’s place

A particularly useful blog which promotes free to enter writing competitions is offered by Patsy Collins. She has an established reputation for writing short stories published in women’s magazines.

Patsy Collins – words about writing and writing about words

Patsy has also taken over the popular womag writer’s blog so you can learn more here:

Emma Darwin attended the same part-time, distance learning MPhil studies in creative writing that I’m currently undertaking with the University of South Wales. She now has two well-received historical novels published and offers an erudite blog to support others.

This Itch of Writing

In terms of poetry, Josephine Corcoran’s blog has a substantial following. Her recently published pamphlet, The Misplaced House, is now available and she writes regular posts about the process of writing.

Josephine Corcoran

Joanne Philips is a prolific indie writer. She has self-published romantic fiction, a collection of short stories and the Flora Lively Mystery series. To find out how she achieved this success, see:

A writer’s journey

I always look forward to reading posts on Helen Yendall’s blog. She writes about the trials of trying to make progress as a writer within the context of a busy life. Her posts are funny and informative.

Blog about Writing