the writer is a lonely hunter


Visiting Troutie McFish


I’m pleased to join fellow Chapeltown author, Mandy Huggins, on Troutie McFish Tales today. You can read about my experience of writing about place and how I create characters. Do pop over and have a read.

If you’d like to purchase a copy of Paisley Shirt and you live in Dorset, Serendip in Lyme Regis and The Swanage Bookshop hold copies and I’m in negotiations with Gullivers in Wimborne, The Book Shop in Bridport and Waterstones in Dorchester to stock Paisley Shirt, too. You can also find Paisley Shirt in October Books,  Southampton.


For those who prefer ordering online, Amazon continues to show an ‘out of stock’ message so try ordering through the Book Depository  or another online retailer such as Waterstones. Any good bookshop will be able to order a copy if you quote the  ISBN  9781910542293.


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Welcome: Mandy Huggins

I’m delighted to welcome fellow Chapeltown Books author Mandy Huggins to The Writer is a Lonely Hunter. She is a prolific writer whose name appears frequently as a winner or runner-up in a range of competitions and her stories are widely published on websites and in print anthologies. Brightly Coloured Horses, her collection of flash fiction has received rave reviews and I’m keen to learn more about Mandy.



What do you do for a day job? How does working in a different context affect your writing?

I work in engineering, so it’s a completely different world to writing. I enjoy getting out and talking to people every day, and writing is a solitary pursuit, so it actually makes for a good mix. The only real way my day job affects my writing is by severely restricting the time I have to actually write! I have a half hour walk to work, which is useful thinking time, so I’m often jotting down notes as soon as I arrive.

You’re widely known as the writer Mandy Huggins, but you’re also called Amanda and Troutie McFish. How are your different personas distinguished?

Troutie McFish is a nickname that was given to me by a colleague when I lived in London, and it became my Twitter handle and blog name long before I was promoting my writing. It always raises a smile when I tell people my email address!

I recently made a decision to use the name Amanda for my forthcoming short story collection, Separated From the Sea. All my family, friends and work colleagues know me as Mandy, but it feels like the right moment in my writing career to start using my full name as my author name. I just hope I don’t confuse everyone!

You’ve enjoyed considerable success with travel writing and short fiction. Do you think there is elitism attached to different types of writing?

Yes, sadly I think there is elitism attached to different types of writing, and genre fiction such as horror and fantasy is often perceived to be less ‘worthy’ than contemporary literary fiction. However, I think things have changed in the poetry world. The new wave of performance poets has led to a sudden upsurge in sales of poetry collections, and I think this is one form of writing that is becoming much less elitist.

Do you have ambition to be published in any particular journal or anthology? Where are your favourite places to be published? Do you have any recommendations for platforms to seek publication or particular resources?

I dream of having a short story published in The New Yorker, and it would be lovely to be included in Salt’s Best British Short Stories. However, I’m lucky to have been published in an interesting mix of journals, websites, newspapers and anthologies, and I’m grateful to every editor that has ever liked my work enough to have me!

The main resources I use for competition listings and publication opportunities are the Competition Guide supplement that comes twice-yearly with Writing Magazine, Mslexia’s Indie Press Guide, and the writer Paul Mcveigh’s wonderful blog.

Do you ever get jealous of the success of other writers?

No, not at all. I’m always delighted when writers I know are published or win an award.

Brightly Coloured Horses, your newly published collection of flash fiction has consistently received 5* reviews. What were the challenges in putting the collection together?

I selected the stories I wanted to include in Brightly Coloured Horses from around 50 pieces of flash fiction I’ve written in the last five years or so. In the end it wasn’t that difficult to choose. The 27 stories that made it were the ones that just seemed to fit together naturally as a cohesive collection. I’m a very slow writer, and a lot of work had already gone into honing every story.

What’s next for you, Mandy?

I’m thrilled to say that I have another book coming out in June – my first full-length short story collection, Separated From the Sea. I’m currently working on the final edits with Amanda Saint at Retreat West Books, and the cover reveal is imminent! Two books coming out in the same year is wonderful, but it’s not for the faint-hearted! The promotional side of things is hard work and time-consuming, as you know, and I’m finding I have no time left over to write anything new. The third book could be a long way off!

Thank you for joining me on The Writer is a Lonely Hunter, Mandy. What an exciting year you have ahead.





Woman on the Edge of Reality


I’m over on Linda Parkinson-Hardman’s blog today answering a range of questions including:

  • Are there occupational hazards to being a writer?


  • How do you remain sane while working?

Why not pop over and take a look at my answers? Click here.


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Visiting Maria Donovan

I am delighted to be on Maria Donovan‘s blog today sharing my strategies and techniques for writing flash fiction. Maria is an experienced writer of short fiction with two collections to her name: Pumping up Napoleon and Tea for Mr Dead. I was absolutely delighted when Maria agreed to endorse Paisley Shirt by describing my flash fiction as ‘sensitive, surprising, unnerving, tender and crucial’.


Maria’s debut novel The Chicken Soup Murder has recently been published. It is narrated by eleven-year-old Michael who shares his experiences of family, community, loss and integration in a story which involves a suspected murder. It’s a beautifully crafted novel and well worth reading.

Do pop over to Maria’s blog to find out more about how I approach the writing of short fiction.


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Words for the Wild

I am delighted to have a poem published on Words for the Wild. This platform for new writing has been organised by Amanda Oosthuizen and Louise Taylor in response to the threat of development on the remaining pockets of countryside in urban Eastleigh. Amanda and Louise urge all writers to celebrate the countryside through stories and poetry thereby demonstrating the value of green spaces in order to help protect them for future generations.

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My poem “Glimpses” is beautifully presented on the website – it’s thrilling to see my work mounted so evocatively. And I’m chuffed to find my poem alongside the work of other writers I respect such as Claire Fuller, Calum Kerr and Amanda Saint.

Do pop over to Words for the Wild and take a look. I hope you enjoy “Glimpses”.


Visting Patsy Collins

Check out the power of purple – I’m chatting with Patsy Collins today. Why not pop over to her blog for a read?  Click here.

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Visiting Kathy Sharp


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I’m over on Kathy Sharp‘s blog today, sharing my experiences as a writer in Dorset. Why not pop over and have a read? Or you might like to check out “Watered Down” a quirky story by Kathy which is published on CafeLit.

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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.



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!