Friday, 5 February 2016

Yours magazine fiction guidelines

I asked Yours magazine for their current fiction guidelines. They swiftly supplied both these and some non fiction guidelines. I've posted these as I suspect some of you may be tempted to have a go at writing a nostalgia post - am I right?

There's a lot of information here. Do read it carefully before you start work as both their rights requirements and submission procedure are a little different from many other magazines. Some of the advice, particularly 'what to avoid' might well be useful even if you decide not to submit to this particular publication.

Short story (fiction) guidelines



YOURS is always looking for good short stories. Every submission is read but we receive more than a hundred manuscripts a month and are able to publish only one short story per issue.


Please allow up to six months for reply and enclose a stamped, self-addressed envelope if you would like your manuscript to be returned. Submissions should be 1000-1,200 words long and not have been published elsewhere before. Manuscripts must be TYPED on one side of the paper and the title page must include the following:

  • 100 - 150 word synopsis.
  • An accurate word count.
  • Your full name (and real name if you write under a pen name), address and telephone number

If we can’t use your submission and you would like it returned to you please enclose a SAE with enough postage to cover the cost of the submission/s.


Know your audience

It is essential that you study three or four published stories in YOURS before writing anything for us.

Many manuscripts are rejected because, although they may be well written, the stories are aimed at a completely different market, such as younger women or a largely middle-class readership.

Read several issues of YOURS. This will give you a good idea of the type of reader you should be writing for and the general tone we use.

Our readers range in age from fifties upwards, with most in their mid-sixties and seventies. They are mostly women, although YOURS is read by some men, so don’t ignore their interests!


Good subjects

Some of the most popular themes with YOURS readers are romance, families, grandchildren, nostalgia and wartime comradeship. A lot of our readers did war work and/or had husbands or boyfriends serving in the Forces. Don’t be limited to these subjects though; the style and tone of what you write about must appeal to our readers as much as the content.

The first line of your story should grab the attention; it is all too easy to start a story with a bang, which quickly turns into a damp squib by the end of the first page. Keep up the reader's interest until the end or they will not bother to get that far - and a brilliant surprise ending will not make them read it in the first place.


What to avoid

Avoid stereotypical images of older people as ill, frail and lonely. Make sure your story is plausible and realistic and do not rely on unlikely coincidences. Try and avoid the hero turning out to be a cat or dog.

Avoid downbeat subjects such as death, widowhood, illness and loneliness, or write about them in a positive way that does not dwell on negatives.

Try not to rely on obvious plot devices such as twists in the tale and memory flashbacks. These are very common and, unless cleverly written, can be predictable. A good story does not always need a surprise.

Remember this

Always think of YOURS readers, not just as older people, but as ordinary human beings who have experienced everything in life - childhood, growing up, starting work, falling in love, friends and family, joy, sorrow, heartache, longing and laughter. YOURS readers have their own interests and needs which match their years of experiences but many of their hopes, fears and dreams are shared by all of us and they still enjoy a good story.

Send your manuscript to*:
Short Stories
Yours Magazine
Bauer Media
Media House
Peterborough Business Park
Peterborough, PE2 6EA

Or by email to: yours@bauermedia.co.uk (Subject: Short Story Submission) – email submissions must include contact telephone number and address details.

All successful submissions are accepted on an All Rights basis that gives Bauer Media exclusive copyright




*PLEASE NOTE: If you would like us to return your submission, please include an SAE with the correct postage amount on it. We regret that any submissions without an SAE will not be returned.



NOSTALGIA NON-FICTION ARTICLE GUIDELINES


Every article is read with interest but the Features department
receives more than 100 manuscripts a month, and is able to
publish only one a fortnight. Due to the number of articles
submitted we aren’t able to reply to everyone. If we are able
to use your article we will of course let you know.

  • Submissions should be up to 300 words approx for a half-
page article. It is rare for Yours to read, or to publish any article of greater length than this.

  • Manuscripts must be typed on one side of the paper and the title page should include: an accurate word count and your full name, address and telephone number.

  • Please try to enclose relevant photographs to illustrate your article, marked with your name and address on the back

  • You should include a short CV of yourself, together with a clear, colour head and shoulder picture of yourself

  • All photographs should be marked with your name, address and telephone number

  • If you would like your manuscript return please state that and include an SAE.

IMPORTANT

  • Any article submitted must not have been published elsewhere and, if published by us become exclusive to Yours magazine on an all-rights basis.

  • Yours magazine reserves the right to edit, alter or shorten any article submitted and it may not appear in its entirety and it may appear in any of our publications.

  • Although all reasonable care is taken, Yours magazine can assume no responsibility for the safety of unsolicited articles or photographs, so it is a good idea to send copies. Please enclose a stamped addressed envelope if you would like your manuscript returned.



Know your audience

Before submitting any articles, it is essential that you study at least six issues of Yours magazine. Most submissions are rejected because the subject matter and/or the style of writing is unsuitable for readers.

Reading back issues will give you a good idea of the sort of person who reads YOURS and the general tone we use - which is informal and chatty.


Subjects

We are currently looking for inspirational stories and adventures to inspire our readers.


Style and tone

Your article should grab the reader from the first sentence. Our style is friendly and warm - after all, your contributions are what makes YOURS the magazine it is! And 400,000 readers a fortnight can't be wrong.

Send your manuscript marked ‘Follow Your Dream’ to:

Non Fiction Submission
Yours Magazine
Bauer London Lifestyle
Media House
Peterborough Business Park
Peterborough, PE2 6EA

Or by email to: yours@bauermedia.co.uk (Subject: Non Fiction Submission)

*PLEASE NOTE: If you would like us to return your submission, please include an SAE with the correct postage amount on it. We regret that any submissions without an SAE will not be returned.








Wednesday, 3 February 2016

Word counts

I've had a few queries lately about word counts for different magazines. Below is the latest information I have - but do keep checking guidelines as they can change.

Allas (Sweden)

This Swedish magazine count characters not words and will translate any accepted stories into Swedish, so getting it right won't be an exact science for those writing in English.

They ask for either 8,000 to 9,000 OR 12,000 to 14,000 characters. 

I estimate this to be either just under 1,000 words or approximately 1,500 and have been successful with submissions at those lengths.

Woman's Weekly (UK)


Either 900 to 1,000 words, 1,800 to 2,000 words or 2,300 to 8,000 words. 

The cannot use anything between 1,000 and 1,800, so please don't send those.

That's Life (Australia) 

1 page = 600-900 words
2 pages = 1200-1500 words
3 pages = 1600-2000 words
4 pages = 2200-2600 words
"These are approximate and the final word count printed will depend on the design of the page/s. You don't need to overly cut or edit your story to fit the word counts."

People's Friend (UK)

1,200 to 3,000 for the regular magazine. 4,000 words are accepted for the specials. They can also consider 10,000 word crime thrillers.

The Weekly News (UK)

1,200 to 1,500. 2,000 word stories may be used occasionally, but Jill will request these.

Take a Break's Fiction Feast (UK)

Confirmed today - They can be a little flexible but prefer 700, 1,200 or 2,000 words. Although they do publish some longer stories, newer writers are requested to stick to these guidelines. 

I have just been sent the latest guidelines and will post them in a few days.

My Weekly (UK)

Varies according to their needs and this market is currently only open to those who've been previously published by them.

Prima (UK)

It was 800 words the last I heard. I'll check up on this.

Candis (UK)

2,300. Commissioned work only.

You (South Africa)

1,500 words

Yours (UK)

1,000 to 1,200 words - confirmed today.

Woman's World (USA)

Last I heard it was 800 words, but that was some time ago and I've requested new guidelines.

Ireland's Own (Ireland)

Confirmed today 1,000 to 1,400 or 2,000.  Further guidelines will be posted in a few days.



I will post any updates and changes I hear about, but PLEASE check official guidelines yourself before writing and submitting work.

Friday, 22 January 2016

Interview with Womagwriter Glenda Young

Today's guest is Glenda Young (aka Flaming Nora).

1. When did you start writing, Glenda and how did you get into writing for womags?

I can’t remember a time when I haven’t written. Ever since I was a child I have been a voracious reader and have always strung words together to make up stories in my head. I’ve attended lots of different creative writing classes over the years and absolutely love writing. I recently attended a course called Wonderful Words which was run by Sunderland Women’s Centre and that really fired up my desire again to start writing fiction. The course was very nurturing and encouraging and the tutor was over the moon when I told her I’d had a short story accepted.

I started writing online back in 1995 with regular weekly updates of Coronation Street for fans all around the world. This has grown (more on that later in the interview!) and continues to provide a regular creative slot for my brain. I also blog regularly at Flaming Nora.

However, as much as I love watching Coronation Street and have been published because of it, my foray into writing for women’s magazines is very important to me. Having spent much of my writing life writing about a TV show – in effect, telling someone else’s story – it’s a huge, enjoyable challenge to now write my own stories. I wanted to see if I could tell my own story, make up something from scratch and succeed in getting it published.

The first thing I did was go to the library and I took out a book called How to Write and Sell Short Stories. The book was written by Della Galton, a name I would become familiar with when I ventured into the woman’s magazine short story world! I devoured every word of Della’s book and didn’t skip any of the exercises she recommended. When the book said “stop reading and do this exercise”, I did it. I researched the market, read lots of different woman’s magazines over a couple of months and only then did I even think about sitting down to write my story. In my market research I discovered this Womag Blog which has been enormously helpful. Without it, I would have been posting stories on spec in the wrong word length to the wrong people at the wrong magazines.

I’ve since bought Della Galton’s next book
Moving On: From Short Story to Novel. However, I haven’t allowed myself to open it and start reading it yet. I don’t want to run before I can walk. I’ve promised myself I’ll start reading it the minute I have my second short story accepted - fingers crossed!

2. You've just had your first acceptance - what's that for?

It’s for The People’s Friend and the story will be published in the spring of 2016. I won’t be using a pen name because I’m very proud of my work and I want the world to see it’s me being published in such a well-loved magazine.

3. How did you feel when you got the news?

I was alone in the house when the email came through to say it had been accepted. I shouted, I screamed and I did a little dance. It’s fair to say I was over the moon! I still am!

4. Are you going to concentrate on writing for People's Friend now, or will you try other markets?

I’ve also submitted stories to Woman’s Weekly and Take a Break magazine but I’m still waiting to hear back from those. Again, on the advice of the Womag Blog, I knew not to submit to My Weekly magazine as they’re not taking stories from any new writers. I’ll continue to submit to People’s Friend and I hope to go on one of their writer workshops this year to help understand their requirements even more closely.

What I have found – and I’d love to know if other writers experience this too – is that writing for woman’s magazines fires me up to take on other projects and write for other markets too. For instance, a story I might write for a woman’s magazine can set off a creative process and give me ideas for another, much darker, story along the same theme. This has happened a few times and I’ve entered some of those darker, more literary stories into competitions. It’s almost like a Jekyll and Hyde way of story writing – and I like the way my brain works doing this.

5. Are you a disciplined writer producing a steady stream of stories, or do you wait until you're in the mood?

I have to wait until I’m in the mood but when I’m not writing I’m collecting – words, phrases, ideas, characters. They all sit in my head until there’s no more space and I have to put them down on paper. Sometimes when I’m in the mood for writing, but not for story telling, I make lists of the types of characters and stories I want to write when the mood strikes. This fires up creativity in itself, I find.

6. What are your biggest inspirations when it comes to writing?

I live in Sunderland, a city on the coast so the sea is important to me. I’m lucky enough to live just a short walk from a beautiful beach and I use the beach, the shore, the sea, flotsam and jetsam, all that kind of thing, a lot. I also use the beach for walking on, usually daily, and for beachcombing too. With the sea crashing and the sand underfoot, the beach is my favourite place to walk and think and create new ideas.

Also, I have to admit I’m terrible for eavesdropping on conversations. I love real-life dialogue and have used snippets that I overhear in my work. Whether it’s in a coffee shop or on public transport, if I hear people in conversation (and I find two old men talking to each other the most interesting!) I will automatically tune in, listen and sometimes even make notes.

7. You're a Coronation Street fan, I believe. Care to tell us about that?
Yes, I am a huge Coronation Street fan and have watched it since I was a child. I set up and edit the Coronation Street Blog which is a fan site that’s been online since 2007. There’s a team of 12 of us who contribute to it and we’re always open to others joining the team if they wish – so if you fancy writing a blog post about Coronation Street do please get in touch!

My love of Coronation Street has led to being published with the following books: Deirdre: A Life on Coronation Street; A Perfect Duet - the diary of Roy and Hayley Cropper;

Norman Bates with a Briefcase - the Richard Hillman Story. I was also commissioned to update the Coronation Street Saga in 2008 and the same book again under the changed title of the Coronation Street Novel in 2010.

As much as I love watching Coronation Street and writing about it, my foray into writing for women’s magazines is very important to me. Having spent much of my writing life writing about a TV show – in effect, telling someone else’s story – it is an enjoyable challenge to now write my own stories.

8. The right writing snacks are very important - what's your fuel of choice?I try not to snack when I’m writing, I just crack on with the task in hand. I do however, love my cups of hot tea and can’t imagine writing, or life, without a good brew.

9. Do you have any advice for other writers who're still waiting for their first womag success?

  • Research the market thoroughly – immerse yourself in the woman’s magazine world before you submit anything
  • Double check that you’re sending the right stories to the right magazines in the right word length
  • Join a creative writing group
  • Have someone you trust read your stories before you submit them and ask them for feedback
  • Write for the pleasure of it, every day. The more you write, the bigger your creative muscle will be.
  • Bookmark the Womag Blog and check it regularly for updates on changes in the woman’s magazine market.   

Wednesday, 20 January 2016

The Weekly News latest guidelines.

Weekly News Short Story Guidelines
Thank you for your interest in The Weekly News fiction section. I hope you find these guidelines useful. 
The Weekly News has a largely older readership which is evenly split between the sexes, so we are looking for general interest tales — crime, humour (especially), spooky stories (although we’ve had plenty of these recently), or “coffee break” dramas which wouldn’t be out of place in any popular TV soap. 
At the moment, I’m also interested in stories with a bit more “edge” that are slightly darker.
Although an old-fashioned love story may occasionally be appropriate, I’m not looking for “slushy” romantic fiction, or anything “twee”. And although it’s a popular style, I don’t generally take “chick-lit”.
Similarly, I don’t want anything too racy or gory. As The Weekly News is a family paper, I wouldn’t use anything with any sexual content.
Many stories we publish have an interesting twist to surprise the reader, as these seem to be popular. But if your twist is “it was all a dream” or “he/she/it was a ghost”, or the main character is actually a pet, it won’t get through!
• Aim for something light-hearted, perhaps centred around family life or a recognisable situation.
• If your main character is strong enough, you can have them carry the whole story.
• A positive outcome is favoured, but this can be reached by a good bit of double-crossing, or the comeuppance of the “baddie”.
• Be playful – have some fun with your characters at their expense ie in embarrassing social situations.
• I also like sensitive stories which may involve a death, an illness a fear etc. If the situation doesn’t come across as too dark and depressing and has an uplifting end, then it may make it through.
Stories can vary in length from about 1,000 to 1,500 words at most, though we reserve the right to edit them as appropriate.
Also, I rarely accept stories written in the first person or present tense.
Please note that, at present, I use two fiction items at each week and, even if an item is accepted, it could be some time before it is published.
I always have plenty of stories to read through, so it could be a couple of months at least before I can respond to submissions.
Due to time constraints, as of April 2014, I’m now only able to able reply to stories which are accepted.
If you haven’t heard from me within three months of submission, it means you have been unsuccessful on this occasion and you’re free to submit the story elsewhere.
Here are some DOs:
• Use strong, identifiable characters – but remember they don’t always have to be likeable.
• Use natural-sounding speech. I tend to avoid dialect, as we like to be a bit “geographically vague” to add to the universality of the stories.
• Check your historical facts fit your time-frame and characters.
• Be thought-provoking if you want – be topical.
• Read and check your punctuation and paragraphing. The easier your work is on the eye, the easier it is to make an informed decision.
• Work within reality – this is fiction, but it does have to be believable.
• Do include your email address, postal address and phone number on your story.
• Full stories, please. I can’t get enough detail or “feel” for a piece from a pitch or synopsis.
And some specific DON’Ts:
• No murdered spouses, dreams or pet twists.
• No first person or present-tense stories.
• No hard copy.
E-mail is now our only method of delivery. Please send to: jfinlay@dcthomson.co.uk
Thanks,
Jill Finlay,
Fiction Editor.

Wednesday, 13 January 2016

Woman's Weekly Want Your Words!



The fiction editors at Woman's Weekly have sent out a letter to their 'regular contributers' and as last year I was given permission to reproduce these here I thought I'd pass on the following information about word lengths.

"One-pagers – 900 to 1,000 words
Two-pagers -  1,800 to 2,000 words

Please don't send us stories of 1,100, 1,200, 1,300, 1,400, 1,500, 1,600 or 1,700 words as our layout department don't know what to do with them!

However (just go with this!) we can accept stories of any length between 2,300 and 8,000 words. They are the 'longer' ones which go in Fiction Special."

Woman's Weekly will consider submissions from new writers. If you've not previously been published by them you should submit by post. The address is - Blue Fin Building, 110 Southwark Street, London, SE1 0S. Do include a stamped addressed envelope for the reply and expect this to take around 16 weeks although it can be quicker.

Thursday, 7 January 2016

Seasonality

If you think about it, it's obvious that magazine editors will need stories in advance of the season in which they're set. Christmas stories are published before the big day, not in the new year and the February issue of the monthly specials are often out before twelth night.







It takes time for the editor to even get around to reading our submissions and making a decision, then she must decide in which issue it will appear. Illustrations have to be found and the magazine laid out, printed and distributed.








How early then should we send our stories? Sometimes editors will provide information regarding the time scale to which they're working, or you can make a guess based on the stories they're currently buying. In the absence of any clues, I suggest aiming for four to six months ahead of when you'd hope the story would be published.





How do you handle the issue of seasonality? Do you write Valentine's tales at Hallowe'en and work on summer ones in the depths of winter? Perhaps you write them at the time they're set and hold onto them until it's time to submit them? Maybe you avoid the issue altogether by producing stories which work year round?


My own method is to write whenever an idea occurs to me, regardless of whether it's the right time, and then ... forget all about it when it comes round to the correct time of year to submit it!

Tuesday, 22 December 2015

Until 2016...

Wishing you a happy Christmas/Solstice/winter break/Hogmanay/birthday - and anything else you may like to celebrate.

Will you be making the most of seasonal inspiration and writing Christmas stories for next year, or sending your imagination into long, warm days and conjuring up something to submit early next year? Maybe you'll read instead, or take a complete break from the printed word. Have fun however you spend your time.

Best wishes for 2016.






Saturday, 19 December 2015

Just to say ...

My romantic novel Escape to the Country is currently available for 99p/99c. Offer ends on the 21st.

I do try not to post too annoyingly often about me and my writing here. Those of you who're interested in what I'm up to can find the details on the news page of my website.

Monday, 14 December 2015

Changes at My Weekly

After 45 1/2 years of working in fiction, LizSmith, fiction editor at My Weekly has decided to retire. She'll leave on December 18th.

I'm sure I'm not the only person who'll miss her.  Liz always responded to every submission (although as a one woman fiction team she did have to restrict these) giving reasons for any rejection and often suggesting improvements to the story.

Last year I was lucky enough to meet Liz in person and if anything she's even nicer than she seems online.

Best wishes for the future, Liz!

Liz's replacement is Karen Byrom, who has worked for DC Thomson for thirty years.

Hello, Karen. I, and many others I'm sure, look forward to working with you.

Thursday, 3 December 2015

Update

It seems I may have jumped the gun, or jumped to conclusions with my last post. Possibly both! Katherine Davison is still with That's Life Fast Fiction and it seems Judie Durrant is dealing with fiction for the weekly magazine. If I find out more, I'll update the update!

I don't have a photo of me jumping anything, but here's one of me standing near a gun (taken by my boss at the time as we were actually working and absolutely definitely not having a snowball fight).


Wednesday, 2 December 2015

News from Down Under

Thanks to Alan Williams for an update on That's Life in Australia. There is now a new person in charge of fiction - Judie Durrant.

When work is accepted, new author agreements will be sent out for signature. If they're the same ones as can currently be found on the website with the guidelines, there doesn't seem to be any change. Do PLEASE read it through and be sure you understand and agree before signing though. The same thing applies to any other agreement or contract any publisher may send out.


Tuesday, 24 November 2015

Now is a good time ...

... to drop 'subtle' hints about what we'd like for Christmas. How about a womag subscription? They're non fattening, help with market research, support the publications we'd like to write for - and provide great fiction to read.

Here are a few links, just to make it really easy for your loved ones.

Fiction Feast    Woman's Weekly   

Woman's Weekly Fiction Special

My Weekly   Ireland's Own   The People's Friend 

The Weekly News  Yours

Of course books make great gifts too. ;-)


Thursday, 12 November 2015

Interview with womagwriter Glynis Scrivens

My guest today is Glynis Scrivens.

1. When did you start writing, Glynis?

In a sense, I’ve always written. Not for publication, of course. But writing’s always been my best way of conveying what I think and feel. When I turned fifty, I gave myself permission to be a writer. To see where it could lead. I’d enrolled in an editing course and quickly realised I wanted to be the one doing the writing. There was nothing left to hold me back.

2. What persuaded you to try writing for women's magazines?

I read Woman’s Day, New Idea and Women’s Weekly and always wondered how to become the person writing their stories. I’d see the same names over and over again. Then I heard of a teacher at the local high school who’d just sold a story to Woman’s Day for $300. Only that morning I’d been in a nice boutique trying on a $300 jacket I couldn’t afford. I sat down and wrote a story. The next night I wrote another. When Julie Redlich accepted the second story, I was hooked.
It’d never occurred to me that a magazine would pay so much. And we needed the money. I didn’t end up buying the jacket. My sales to Woman’s Day went on things for our home such as nice kitchen chairs and good cutlery – and a steady supply of decent coffee beans.

3. There aren't many magazines which publish fiction in Australia, are there?

That’s Life with its quarterly fiction special is our main story market. There are other magazines. Cosmos uses sci-fi stories. Bauer has a presence over here. For example, Take 5 puts out a quarterly fiction special but these contain reprints sourced mainly from Fiction Feast (UK).
Only ten years ago stories were the norm – in Woman’s Day, Woman’s Weekly, New Idea, Family Circle and other magazines that have since disappeared.

4. What are the main difficulties with regard to writing for foreign markets, and how to you overcome them?

When I decided to try selling stories abroad, finding details for the markets was the first hurdle. These days the information is more freely available but it used to be closely held.
Getting hold of a recent copy was also a challenge. In Australia we could buy English women’s magazines such as Woman’s Weekly and People’s Friend, but to read Fiction Feast it was necessary to take out a subscription. And People’s Friend arrived by ship, three months after publication.
Nowadays most magazines have a Facebook presence and a website or blog. These give a feel for the magazine and who its readers are.
I suppose the biggest change over the years for me is that I now write stories specially for certain overseas markets, rather than just sending them the stories I haven’t been able to sell in Australia.
Working out what to send non-English magazines will always be a challenge. Gauging length, style, genre etc. And of course they continue to change and evolve. I usually go by what they’ve accepted already and send more of the same, although sometimes I try my luck and sometimes get surprised.
I haven’t been able to sell stories to Woman’s World (US) yet. All I can do there is ask American writing friends to check for colloquialisms, and follow TV dramas for things like police procedure.
Nothing beats being able to read a magazine regularly, but when that’s not possible, it doesn’t mean we can’t break into that market. It’s a matter of perseverance – and good luck.

5. You've written a book on editing, how did that come about?

Writing a book was on my bucket list so when I read on Facebook that John Hunt Publishing (UK) wanted one on editing fiction for their Compass Points series, I was interested. At that time I’d just got together all my Writers’ Forum articles, wondering whether to put them out as a book. I had 30,000+ words. This seemed to be the way to do it – and gave me the confidence I’d be able to find enough material.
I was surprised how much work was involved in putting together a proposal, but thankfully my friend Lynne Hackles was at hand encouraging me and making sure it got done.
There wasn’t space in the book for any of the WF articles, as it turned out. So maybe that original project will see the light of day after all?

You can get the book from Amazon.co.uk or Amazon.com and is on sale at 99p/99c over November.

6. I've heard that some writers use real people and situations in stories, especially if something has annoyed them. Do you ever do that?

Yes, probably more often than I should. Whoever said writers don’t need a psychologist was right in my case. If I’m wronged, the perpetrator often meets a grisly fate soon afterwards. Preferably something appropriate. I’ve even killed off editors in stories.

Generally whenever life throws something at me that really gets under my skin, I know it’s potentially a story. I’ll write it, often using real names and details. Then I let it cool off and come back to it later to change names, sometimes the sex or age of a character, setting etc.

Sometimes it’s just a phrase someone has used that stays in my mind until I’ve thought of a story around it.

7. What is it with possums? The Aussie magazine guidelines want us to avoid them - is that hard to do?

I hadn’t realised guidelines actually mentioned possums. Where I live in Brisbane they cause all kinds of problems as they like to live in the space between the ceiling and roof of a house.


You probably wouldn’t put a flying fox, dingo or toad in a story either.

8. What's your happiest or proudest writing moment so far?

It’s hard to imagine anything surpassing the thrill of holding my first published book. The realisation I’d actually done it. And it opened doors. If I could do this, what else could I do?
With stories and articles, every acceptance gives me a buzz, especially if it’s somewhere I haven’t been published before.

9. Are you a disciplined writer who plans everything out and sticks to a schedule?

I’m probably the antithesis of that by nature. I can be disciplined if I need to, but it doesn’t come naturally. If I’m writing a series, such as the best how-to books one for Writers’ Forum, that has to be carefully planned before I start. And I worked to a schedule for my book, setting aside a week every month to write a chapter.
But things tend to take on a life of their own and head off in a different direction to what I envisaged.
When it comes to fiction, I think my inspiration would dry up altogether if I tried to be disciplined. I can go for weeks without writing any stories and then produce five in a fortnight. I just have to trust my own process.
I seem to need chaos. Maybe that’s why I enjoy having chickens and ducks roaming around the garden?

10. Can you pass on any advice to other womagwriters?

I suppose the fundamental thing is to simply write your own stories. The ones that only you can write. Don’t be worried if they’re completely different to what everybody else is writing – or reading.

And if you believe in one of your stories, don’t give up on it. It can take a while for a story to find its home. Some of mine have well-worn passports. One I wrote in 2004 was consistently rejected. I’ve sold it twice this year. Another I wrote in 2012 sold to 4 different magazines in the space of 4 months earlier this year after being previously rejected by all and sundry.

Thursday, 5 November 2015

A request for help

My new book Firestarter launches today. It's a romantic comedy with a hot fireman and a few flames. I have a favour to ask (on top of ignoring the fact this isn't connected to womag issues other than by the fact I've written it) Could you please help spread the word about the book?

You could do that by telling people who are interested in the genre, retweeting me, or sharing my Facebook updates, or author updates, or doing the same with my guest posts and interviews, or my website post.

Naturally I'd be delighted if you bought the book, or borrowed it from your library (some already stock it, if yours doesn't they should be able to order it for you).

If you do read and enjoy Firestarter, I'd also be very grateful for a review on Amazon, Goodreads, or your blog.