Diapatches From The Querying Trenches - June. Guest Blog By Kirsten Dougal... or Possibly Jones or Peters...

Posted on 30th June, 2017

If you are a regular reader of this blog, you'll know that since the end of January, Kirsten  has been writing a regular post at the end of each month, giving us a sneaky look at her writer's life. Here is her final post, with a look back, not just at June, but at the whole six months.


* * * *


And suddenly June is over and here is my last guest slot on this wonderful blog.

It’s been an unsettling few months hasn’t it? And I hate good byes. Really hate them.


So, instead, here is a round-up of all the really wonderful writing-related things that have happened to me over the past six months.


  • Firstly, I’m really honoured to have shared this space with Susanna during the launch of her debut novel. I’ve spent the last couple of evenings curled up with The Deserter’s Daughter and am LOVING it. Well done Sue, you clever old thing. A huge achievement. A huge success.

  • Not strictly writing-related, but you may remember that, in February, my WIP ground to a halt because my lovely son was having some issues. Lots of you have been kind enough to ask after him and I’m really delighted to report that he’s much, much better. He’s just finished his A levels, is currently working at the Henley Regatta and is about to go to China for a few weeks! What a difference a few months can make. One happy mum!

  • Which leads me on to my WIP! Edits finished, I have duly sent The Space Between The Words off to the RNS NWS for a critique. I’ve also sent the full to two of the agents who requested it several months ago. Yes, I know, I know – I should wait for the critique to come back. I guess curbing my impulsive edge is something I still I need to work on ….

  • Writing this blog has confirmed that I need to change my name to protect the innocent! I want to keep the Kirsten because that’s me, but I need a new surname. So far the contenders are Dougal (part of my maiden name), Jones and Peters. Thoughts?

  • Writers really are the most lovely, generous and supportive bunch around. I knew that anyway, but the #authorsforgrenfell initiative really has been extraordinary. I’m sure you’ve all read about the joint bid of over £20K to name a character in the next Philip Pullman novel after a young girl who tragically lost her life in the fire. How heart-warming was that? I’ve been wanting to make a donation for a while so I bid for a novel critique by Alison May. I was pipped to the post at the last minute, but Alison has very kindly offered to critique my novel too. And how lovely is that?

So loads and loads of positives.


Thank you for following my ramblings over the past six months and particularly to those who have taken the trouble to leave kind, thoughtful or downright hilarious responses on the blog.


And thank you, again, Sue. It’s been a blast.


Onwards and upwards.


Over and out.



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Comments (24)

Great advice, Kate - thank you. So much to bear in mind. I've just ordered your book, BTW - can't wait to get stuck in! Thank you for all your support xx
Thanks, Wendy. Yes - I'm thrilled by my feedback on my NWS submission - really blown away. Just wish I hadn't messed up the chapter numbers - I'm such a dolt sometimes! xx
It's been great to read about your journey on Susanna's blog, Kirsten. I've just read, on Twitter, that you were very happy with your NWS submission - well done and good luck with the agent hunt x
I'm sorry to see the end of this blog series.
Another thing to consider when choosing a pen name: where will you be on the shelf of the library / bookshop? Is it better to have a surname near the start of the alphabet, in case readers browse alphabetically from 'A'? Are there similar authors that you would like to be close to, so their readers might also pick up your book?
Good luck choosing! x
Jen, you make an important point. Surnames with more than one spelling aren't a good idea. And of course there is the practical question about whether you can get the domain name.

I'm so pleased you are enjoying The Deserter's Daughter, Jen.
Kazzie, I think you've hit upon two serious possibilities in Henley and Douglas. And I know what you mean about missing Kirsten's monthly round-ups. They have been so interesting and readable. I have loved them.
Jen - thank you for all your support on here and on Twitter. I have always really looked forward to your comments and I shall continue to follow you and am looking forward to your next book. Lots of love xx
Thanks Kaz. I like both your suggestions for surnames - I'd considered Henley in the past actually and, to me, Douglas is a better counterbalance to Kirsten. Hmm - what to do, what to do ?? Thank you so much for all your # LL support and hope to see you soon xx
I've really enjoyed your posts, Kirsten. I shall miss you but will keep following your writing journey and cheering you on from afar.

As for a pen name, one thing to consider is to make sure the website domain is available in your chosen name, as well as social media profiles. Once you've chosen your name, make sure to buy the domain asap so you have it when you need it.

Although I like 'Dougal,' I always want to add another 'l' on the end of it! You need a name that everybody can spell correctly straight away!

A note for Susanna too...I'm loving 'The Deserter's Daughter.' If my family cooperates (i.e. they don't interrupt me!) I hope to finish it tonight. xx
I will SO miss your blog posts, Kirsten. Have very much enjoyed reading about your adventures! I think your real surname is fab & unusual, but understand why you feel you need to change it. Like Thornton Rigg, Dougal makes me think of the Magic Roundabout. What about Douglas, or Kirsten Henley. That has a rather nice ring to it. Best of luck with the submissions. I have everything crossed for you xx
Thank you Vanessa - I'm so please you enjoyed these posts! I know exactly what you mean about Dougal .- in fact my nicknames growing up were Florence, Zebedee and Ermintrude! My instinct was for Jones too - but there are already several creative types called Kirsten Jones. Kirsten Smith? Kirsten Kennedy? This is tough!! xx
Thank you Julie. I remember your lovely comment from my very first blog post very well and it didn't feel that you were at a distance. I love my name too - the Hesketh bit is all lovely and northern and Viking - and I would love to use it but there are definitely times when I have been about to write something and have checked myself in case someone from my children's school stumbled across it. I think I'd be able to write more freely and honestly without it. Does that make sense? xx
Of course I did, Sue. It's brilliant! xx
I'm going to miss these posts, Kirsten! xx Writing can be such a lonely business and blogs like this really help.

To the matter of Pen Names ... ahha! Yes protecting the innocent and all that - I quite agree. Thornton is my middle name. :D
Personally Dougal sounds a little too Scottish and possibly a little too Magic Roundabout for me - but that's probably MY AGE.
As Kirsten is a beautiful and quite unusual name, I would go for a plainer surname to make the whole thing easy to remember. My vote would be for Kirsten Jones.
So happy that you've come through the dark days Kirsten. Its been a delight to follow your journey from a distance. Personally I dislike the idea of changing to a pen name - it's a matter of identity for me. I love your real name; Hesketh is much more unusual and memorable. Julie xx
Kirsten, thank you for loving The Deserter's Daughter! I'm so pleased and proud that you enjoyed it xxx
Phew! I'm test-driving Dougal here and on Twitter at the moment. Thanks for your feedback xx
Dougal, auto correct begs to differ with me!
Hi Catherine, thanks so much for your comment. Do you mean Dougal or Douglas? I hadn't thought of Douglas, I've just finished TDD. Isn't it wonderful? Well done, Sue. So proud of you x
Thanks, Catherine. I am delighted you are enjoying The Deserter's Daughter. It has been such a pleasure to have Kirsten on my blog every month. I'm going to miss her!
Kirsten Douglas wins my vote! I've enjoyed our visits to Susanna's blog, maybe you could have one of your own? I'm also reading The Desserters Daughter and it is wonderful
Thank you both. I'm so grateful to you for hosting me Sue, and thank you so much for your kind lovely words. Moira, I remember when you asked us for helping finding a new first name ... and look how natural Maddie seems now! xx
Hi, Maddie. I've been so pleased to host Kirsten's guest blogs. She has built up quite a following and deservedly so. Her blogs are always so lively and honest. As for your ideas about a surname, you were supposed to take it seriously.....
Great series of blogs and a fascinating insight into a writer's life. (New name, hmmmm. Aardvark, Acme....)