Claire King


Archive for May, 2011

Versatility, Baby!

Posted on: May 26th, 2011 by Claire - 17 Comments

I love it when people say kind things about my blog. Recently Oscar Windsor-Smith said kind things, and then passed me a Versatile Blogger Award.

These things come with rules – tell your blog readers 7 things they probably don’t know about you, and pass on the award to seven more blogs that you appreciate. Righty-ho.

I have already posted a number of nuggets of mis-information over here, when awarded a Beautiful Blogger Award by Martha Williams, so have wracked my brain to think of new things you may consider interesting and I may consider (more or less) prudent. I’ve decided to include an untruth in this post: one of the following statements is made up. See if you can spot the lie.

1) I talk in my sleep. A lot. Apparently it is usually quite ‘creative’.

2) Twenty years ago I appeared on The Crystal Maze. Knock yourself out.

3) I often have dreams that someday soon Bloomsbury will call and tell me they re-read my manuscript and it’s all been a big mistake. When I wake up I have to go back and read all the saved enthusiastic emails from my editor to calm myself down.


4) I was once attacked by a hippo in Uganda. This is a mountain gorilla, not a hippo, because I didn’t take a photo of the hippo, you know because it was sort of…cross.

5) I invented The Rule of Jenga. This is a useful rule for travelling around France in a convertible, using a Michelin 1-50,000 scale map, to find wine regions to sleep in.

6) At university I represented my college at rugby. I played prop. I also represented my university at Modern Pentathlon. I was great at show jumping, very good at pistol shooting and fencing, highly average at running and an appalling swimmer. I am still an appalling swimmer (and am now a well below average runner). In fact I’m crap.

7) When I was 24 I moved to Ukraine to sell soap powder.


That’s all folks.

Now, here are some truly great blogs for you to go and have a look at:

Inky Girl aka Debbie Ridpath Ohi, who probably won’t do the posting seven things thing as she just posted about internet distractions…which in itself is a good reason to have a look!

Marcus Speh because versatile is what he does.

Vanessa Gebbie who was also awarded the Versatile Blogger by Oscar, but I wish to second it because her blogs are so good.

Jane Smith at How Publishing Really Works. Jane handles the debates that go on there with professionalism and aplomb…

Emma Darwin at This Itch of Writing for her straightforward, no-nonsense writing tips.

Nik Perring for interviews, commentary and now literary flash mobbing…another one nominated by Oscar but that just goes to show!

Joanne Harris This is not actually a blog but a website. And it’s a treasure trove.


No-one is buying debut novels

Posted on: May 24th, 2011 by Claire - 53 Comments

No-one is buying debut novels these days. Publishers don’t want them. Agents don’t want to take on new writers because they can’t sell debuts. Booksellers are closing down and the way forward is 99cent ebooks. It’s all doom and gloom out there. So why bother? The chances are infinitesimally slim that you will ever get the book deal your heart is set on. Why not go to the pub, or get comfy and watch re-runs of Friends instead?

‘They’ would have us believe that this is true. I wonder if the reason ‘They’ would have it that way is because ‘They’ are writing their own books and don’t want the competition? Maybe not. Maybe just because dismal news seems to sell. Unlike debut novels.

But wait!

For about 18 months now I’ve been using Twitter to meet and chat with writers all around the world. A few of them were already published writers, but most were like myself – scraping time to write in jam-packed days, entering writing competitions, occasionally getting shortlisted, or getting short pieces accepted in literary magazines. For me it’s been one of the best things I ever did in my writing career – in my Twitter stream I’ve found encouragement, wisdom, cheerleading, information, coaching, tips, consolation…and I hope I’ve managed to give back, which is in the spirit of Twitter.

And recently, in the last few months, some of the debut novelists on my twitter network are having breakthroughs.

These people are not different from you and me. They are not better educated. They are not richer. They are not people with industry connections. They are people who sat down and wrote. A lot. And re-wrote. They have families and day jobs and they are busy too. These people are getting agents and they are getting book deals. Three cheers for these people:

Maria Duffy, who signed with Sheila Crowley at Curtis Brown last autumn and has just signed a two book deal with Hachette Ireland. Her debut novel, Any Dream Will Do, will be published November 2011

D.J. Kirkby, who writes fiction and non-fiction and after self publishing her first novel, Without Alice, has just signed up with Judith Murray at Greene & Heaton

Liz Fenwick recently signed with Carol Blake at  Blake Friedman and signed with Orion for her debut – A Cornish House – and a second novel…

Claire LeGrand (Who is 24, by the way!) has just sold her debut novel to Simon & Schuster

Kate Brown who just signed with Jamie Coleman at Toby Eady Associates for her debut historical novel.

Mariam Kobras who just signed her contract with Buddhapuss Ink independent publishers for her debut contemporary romance The Distant Shore

Kerry Hudson whose debut novel TONY HOGAN BOUGHT ME AN ICE-CREAM FLOAT BEFORE HE STOLE MY MA comes out from Chatto & Windus in summer 2012

Claire McGowan whose debut novel sold in February to Headline and will be published in 2012. See her blog post about living the dream here.

Jonathan Pinnock whose debut Mrs Darcy versus the Aliens is out this September from Proxima Books

Rebecca Emin whose children’s novel New Beginnings will be published next year by Grimoire books.

Hip, hip, HOORAY! And many congratulations to all these writers!

I’m NOT saying that it’s easy. The market is difficult at the moment and I know several brilliant writers who have got great agents and are still waiting for a publisher to buy their book. That must be so frustrating after that magic moment of finding an agent raises your hopes…But what they aren’t doing is sitting around moaning about it. They are all, without exception, writing the next novel.

And as well as those people there are still many of my twitter friends submitting to agents, getting rejections, revising and submitting again. And of course there are those still climbing the first draft mountain. But I’m convinced that many of them will succeed because it’s clear they are determined to do so.

So, what’s stopping you?  Write. Write today. And come and find us on Twitter – make friends, watch others succeed and be encouraged (keep an eye on the #writegoodnews hashtag). Or occasionally drown your sorrows together.

Claire King on Twitter


Story starters – get your inspiration here

Posted on: May 10th, 2011 by Claire - 2 Comments

My husband is an avid stumbler* (do this if you must but restrict yourself to times when really, you have nothing better to do. You risk falling down a rabbit hole)…and after stumbling upon this site is now insisting I write some stories based on the photos. It’s true they make great writing prompts.

If you’re looking for more inspiration, here’s a previous post with further suggestions.

Happy writing, and if you do post a story based on one of these, please do send me the link, I’d love to read them!


*Stumble Upon


It’s home, Jim, but not as we know it.

Posted on: May 8th, 2011 by Claire - No Comments

My interview with Miriam Drori, on life as an expat, is now up here!

Read ‘Bone Fire’ at The View From Here – Front View

Posted on: May 7th, 2011 by Claire - No Comments

Click to read A.J. Ashworth’s haunting short story ‘Bone Fire’.