Posts Tagged ‘publishing’

A light has gone out. Goodbye, Carole Blake.

Tuesday, November 8th, 2016

For those not in the know, Carole was one of London’s fiercest literary agents. She wasn’t my agent (I never dared submit to her) but I met her quite a few times at RNA parties and the London Book Fair, where you would have a conversation with Carole that would take half an hour with most people but under five minutes with her, such was her speed of living. Sadly, this speed of living ultimately translated and she passed away very suddenly, and shockingly, on 26th October.

Finding a literary agent to represent your work is like looking for an elusive eyebrow hair in a haystack. You know what they look like, they’re terribly familiar, and yet you can never quite find one. Any author will be able to describe the work, the dedication, the intense commitment and frustration that go along with trying to get published. Many will eventually follow the diversion signs and trundle off into self-publishing, but for those that choose to battle on in traditional publishing – the fight is real. It’s hours and hours of your life. It’s hundreds upon hundreds of words. It’s your creativity, poured out and shaped on a page. And yet when you submit this precious work to a literary agent for their appraisal, and hopefully representation, it’s all too common to never hear back. We can’t blame the agents, we really can’t. They are all perpetually snowed under. The writing world has burst at its seams and literary agents are the first bastion of support. Nonetheless, it’s very demoralising to never hear a peep about your word-baby.

Carole Blake, co-founder of the Blake Friedmann Literary Agency, was in quite a different class to other agents. She was always interested and devastatingly honest about whatever it was you were discussing. I remember a conversation about ensuring that submissions are properly proof read before they’re sent off, “I love reading the manuscripts,” she told me, “but one wrong spelling and that’s it.” One wrong spelling?! That’s standards for you.

Though I didn’t know Carole, like many others I followed sections of her life through her effervescent use of social media and especially Twitter. In one day you could get photographs of her latest book purchases, what she was eating for lunch and details about her shoe and perfume collections. There wasn’t much that this lady didn’t bring to the table.

And that is why she will be so sorely missed by family, friends, clients and her Twitter followers. Carole had such a genuine enthusiasm for, and engagement with, life that it’s very hard to believe she won’t be ferociously representing her chosen authors any more, or posting thirty tweets a day.

I can’t claim more than a passing acquaintance with this great lady, but those over at Vulpes Libris can:


Good night Carole, and God bless.

And home!

Friday, August 13th, 2010

As the title says, I am now home and, happily, full internet usage can resume. Honestly, it did get wearing in the end having to creep about just so I could get my daily fix of facebook status updates; I can’t rest until I know what’s going on! Who’s together – who’s split up – who has had what baby – who is sad – who is happy – who is drinking what alcohol, etc. etc. This last is quite funny actually, because it ranges from my older, more sophisticated friends with their Pimms and Meursault and champagne right down to my student brothers where I’m most likely to see the words ‘White’ and ‘Lightening’ together.

This week has been very trying one way and another and I am not sorry to see the back of it. I went to Berkshire one person and I have come back as quite another – and with a new phone, a new handbag and minus most of my hair. This began as a whim and ended as a truly cathartic measure; the symmetry to be found in cutting and shaping one’s life and then doing the same to the hair is particularly pleasing to me. And my trip to Toni and Guy in Maidenhead today re-affirmed my conclusion that however much make-up you are wearing (and I put make-up on especially to go) it is NEVER ENOUGH. Don’t make the mistake of thinking that you look passable because when you sit down in those harsh lights and have the direct comparison of the stylist next to you, you will instantly see how wrong you were. What looked acceptable and even nice in your own home will seem paltry, lazy and misguided in the hair salon. Wrong shade of foundation/wonky eyeliner/smudged mascara – I’ve fallen victim to all of these in the past. But today for a change I looked better than the hairdresser, who was wearing no make-up. As she was talking I also drew the conclusion that she was Australian, there was a slight twang to her tone, and I almost asked about it. I was glad I didn’t when I realised that actually she was from Essex  – can you imagine how embarrassing that would have been? Clearly I have been much affected by the Home Counties to leap to the conclusion that a person is from Australia rather than Essex.

To continue on the hair theme, I had rather an unpleasant evening yesterday spent in the company of my two girls, my sister and four brothers – and about fifty thousand nits. Or head lice. Whatever the ones that are big enough to get on the rides at Chessington are called. It was appalling. It had begun that morning when Molly woke up and said her head felt itchy, which immediately rang alarm bells. However I didn’t actually remember to inspect her head until we were in the genteel environment of the John Lewis café – where we were glared at by the older generation for bringing in children and not drinking Earl Grey tea. I dare not think what their faces would have been like had they been aware that we were probably scattering lice like Hansel and Gretel scattered crumbs. When I looked at Molly’s head I could literally see a louse scurrying about in her hair. But considering where we were I didn’t feel justified in expressing this. Instead I quietly murmured to my mother that we might invest in a Nitty-Gritty comb – and quickly. “Rubbish,” she said. “They don’t have nits. My children don’t get nits.” Oh but they do, I confirmed. “No. I’m sure not. Ben’s had his hair checked recently by the hairdresser. He can’t have.” Ben was scratching madly but absent-mindedly at his head during this exchange. “I’ve seen one,” I hissed. “Huge. In Molly’s hair.” Her response? “Well. It’s probably a fly. From the garden.” Yes, of course. Silly me. A fly has flown into Molly’s hair, shrunk a bit, turned brown, lost its wings and half the length of its legs in order to masquerade as a head louse. “Nevertheless,” I said firmly, “I think I’ll get one.” So we stopped at the small, village chemist on the way home where I couldn’t see the comb I was after. When I asked the assistant she gave me a long look before saying “I think I have ONE left.” She then rummaged at the back of a shelf where she had quite literally hidden it behind the toothpaste. I didn’t ask. And upon the combing the children, one was crawling in lice, one had a handful and out of my brothers two of the three older ones had a few in their hair. Which was mildly amusing because it’s not often you have three teenaged boys lining up to have their hair nit-combed. But the minute that word spread through the house that nits had been found, everybody was smothering their hair in conditioner and clamouring to be combed so as the resident expert I obliged. Just to reassure you, the hairdresser made no comment this morning so I’m assuming that I’m clear. I don’t think even nits can withstand the 220 degree heat of my GHDs.

And out of the emails I have been able to pick up this week, I had a vastly reassuring one from my publishers (spot the sarcasm) confirming my publication date of 30th August. Er – no. That is a month too early. I sighed a big sigh and corrected them.

I’m going to have to end here because I’ve realised that wine stocks are running perilously low and it’s Friday. My lovely husband has had approximately five hours sleep over the last few days and is currently travelling back from the very north of England – I don’t think he’s going to be too impressed if I send him out to collect alcohol on his return. That said, he has our debit card so my funds are also perilously low…….White Lightening it may yet be.