Tuesday, 15 January 2019

Good start to the year

I have a story in the current (February) edition of Woman's Weekly. It was accepted over a year ago under the old terms. Voodoo Val is about a change of management upsetting all the workers, and someone deciding to release tension by sticking pins into an image of the new boss. There's a happy ending not because of any black magic, but because everyone stuck together.
In other news, I've had acceptances so far from three different womags. Two more editors are either holding onto stories for possible use, or have passed them on to the senior team for consideration. 
Thanks to Sharon Boothroyd's guest post I've also had a story accepted by Love Sunday magazine (it comes with the Sunday People newspaper.) I gave it a try for research purposes and as a result will have a story in the 20th January issue. I'm hoping it might encourage more people to take a look at my books.
Guest posts, relevant to womag writing, are always welcome. If you'd like to share information or an experience, pass on tips or news, even just ask a question do get in touch. (Auto correct keeps trying to change womag to wombat – if you do happen to be a wombat who writes fiction, I'd be delighted to hear from you too!)
There's a People's Friend special, due out on 23rd January which will contain one of my stories. That's a 1,200 word one. It seems they still get a good supply of these and that longer stories may stand a better chance.
How are you getting on so far this year? Have you submitted anything, had replies, or are you expecting work to be published soon?

Tuesday, 8 January 2019

The other side of the desk

I'm sure many of you will remember Clare Cooper from her time on the fiction team of Woman's Weekly. Today she's sharing her experiences of life on the other side of the submissions desk.

Wanted: Writers to fill pages in magazines. Must have thick skins and be prepared to take criticism, rejection and incredibly long waiting times on the chin. Must learn to bite their tongues and not get stroppy, or they will be sent to the naughty desk. Must accept that not everything they write is going to see the light of day but must put their keen disappointment to one side, keep the faith and carry on regardless. Is there anybody out there mad enough to take on such a seemingly thankless job?

As I have mentioned before on here, the best part of my previous job as Deputy Fiction Editor on Woman’s Weekly was reading and selecting the short stories that appeared in the magazine each week and also in our monthly Fiction Special. The second-best bit was contacting the writers to let them know we wanted to buy their story. We always marvelled at how our brilliant band of writers continued to rise to the challenge and provide us with a never-ending supply of great fiction.

Fast-forward a year (and a bit more) since I left my job. Let’s face it, my previous role sounds quite cushy from where I’m sitting now, not doing a great deal and spending unhealthy amounts of time on social media. I have an idea for a novel but I’m stuck on it at the moment. I don’t feel motivated. How do people get inspired? Where do their ideas come from? Where do all those thousands of words come from? Do they feel like failures if they haven’t kept to their self-imposed deadlines, while others are getting on with it and producing their third novel in the same amount of time? It feels as though the world and his wife are writing books and social media is full of them promoting their work and plugging their friends’ work, to boot.

It’s all rather daunting and disheartening and, while I am struggling to get my novel idea off the starting block, I have been mulling over something I wrote on this website at the beginning of 2018, about getting writing fit for the coming year. Inspired by some kind comments, I thought I would try and see if anyone would like to publish it. I have never had to put myself “out there” and sell something to anybody, other than within my old company and to people I already knew, so it took a lot of nerve and effort to write the email and send my feature off into the ether – well, to Jonathan Telfer at Writing Magazine, anyway. To my relief, he liked it and it’s going into the February issue. Then, blow me if he didn’t get in touch to ask me to write about something else – for the same issue, as it turns out. Typical! You wait a year, and then two come along at once…

Yes, the view from the other side of the desk is more than a bit scary and it’s very early days, but I’d like to think there will be more literary gems dropping from my computer keyboard at some point. If not, and I’ve peaked too soon, at least I now have a much better understanding of what it’s like for everyone else – and I respect and salute you all! I feel I have an awful long way to go. Now, where did I put the application for that seemingly thankless job?

The February issue of Writing Magazine containing Clare's article is available from newsagents now. You might also like to visit her blog Hampton Caught.

Sunday, 30 December 2018

Happy New Year!

If you're interested in a quick look back on my writing year and learning some of my plans for 2019 take a look here.

Happy New Year!

Sunday, 16 December 2018

All the best

This blog is going to Take a Break as My Weekly time will be taken up with other things for a while. I'd like to thank everyone who has contributed and supported Womagwriter over the last year – by leaving comments, providing guest posts or information (even if it wasn't quite Weekly News ;-) ) or helping to publicise it. You People are my Friends!

(If anyone has womag related news (especially good news!) or would like to do a guest post which they feel will be of interest to readers of this blog, I'll still be happy to post them up – I just won't be actively searching for news and regularly checking all the info on here is up to date myself. My other writing blog will remain active.)

Allas, I can't guarantee it (That's Life! I suppose)  but I wish YOU success with your writing and hope that Yours will be a happy 2019. If you stay In the Moment and trust in Spirit and Destiny, it could happen.

Monday, 10 December 2018

Over to You

Here's another monthly random photo for use as a story prompt. 

It's also your chance to share success (or otherwise) ask questions*, report any womag news, tips, advice you may have, or make womag related comments or observations. (If you have news or a question relating to a particular magazine, it's also fine to add it as a comment to the latest post for that magazine.)

*If you can answer these, please do.

How has your writing year been? Are you planning any changes for 2019?

Thursday, 29 November 2018

Top tip for subbing to The Weekly News

I'm very pleased to have had my story Jack and Jill accepted for The Weekly News. It will be in the 22nd December issue (possibly under a different title). I very nearly missed out though, as Shirley Blair only just spotted that it was a Christmas story in time for it to be included. 

Along with the acceptance she gave me this bit of advice, which I'm repeating here with her permission –

Top tip:  it does help if you mention if it’s for a particular season in the subject line or your email. Then it’s more likely to catch my eye in time.

Shirley is also fiction editor for The People's Friend and blogs about that, so do take a look for more writing and submission tips, plus story starter ideas.

Monday, 26 November 2018


Allers is the Finnish sister magazine to the Swedish Allas. Under the terms of the standard contract with Aller media, a story sold to one magazine can be used by another within the group. That recently happened to one of my stories, which originally appeared in Allas two years ago.

I love the illustration!

If my friend Beatrice Charles hadn't spotted it on Readly I wouldn't have known about it. There's no requirement for them to notify authors this has happened. There's no requirement for them to pay extra either. Still, it's nice have more readers (who knows, some might go on to discover my books) and to be able to say my short stories have been published in nine different countries (I'm counting the UK as one.)

One thing to be aware of, if you sell rights allowing the story to be published elsewhere (as is the case with most contracts) this will restrict where else you can submit it. For example I couldn't offer first Australian rights for a story sold to Take A Break (or the Fiction Feast) in the UK as the publishers may already have published it in one of their Australian magazines without my knowledge.

This doesn't restrict your right to offer it to places which don't require first rights, or to use the story yourself somewhere. (Of course if you've sold all rights you needn't worry about any of this as you no longer own the story and can't offer or use it anywhere at all.)

Saturday, 24 November 2018

Free ebook

Are We Nearly Famous? is a free ebook, written by me and three of my writing friends. It contains a short story, some information about how we got started as writers and where we're going, and a sample chapter from each of us.

This collection of short stories is about journeys; literal, metaphorical and literary. Those both of the characters and the authors.

Ailsa travels to Scotland and begins the journey of recovery after life-saving surgery. The Smith family take two trips in one, and their reactions to each bring them closer as a family. Esperanza doesn’t just switch locations but swaps one life for another, each change taking her away from everything she knows and ever closer to the independence she needs to be truly happy.

In Italy, Pedro learns about the cycle of life, death and rebirth. Lisa’s journey also begin with a death, which leads her on a search for the truth about her own life.

Marty, just like her creator, moves to the Island of La Palma and takes strides forward in both her career and love life. Although Saffy and Jess both remain in the United Kingdom, their own emotional journeys are similar in several ways. They each want to make a difference with their work, and meet men who share this passion and ignite their own.

Patsy, Rosemary, Sheila and Lynne are four friends who, although successful in specific writing fields, aren’t yet well known to the general reading public. Together we’re raising awareness of our work, and hope you’ll help us do the same by reading this free collection, telling others about it and leaving us a review. We’re not really asking ‘Are We Nearly Famous?’ as we know the answer!

You can download it for free here.

Do you have a book you want to promote? If so, feel free to mention it in a comment to this post – and if you've not already seen Sharon's gust post about a way to get your book mentioned for free in a high circulation national magazine, do take a look.

Wednesday, 21 November 2018

Guest post and new 'market'

Today's guest is Sharon Boothroyd, who is sharing details of a new (to this blog) short story outlet.

Free Book Publicity
It's great when you come across a free opportunity to plug your book. I stumbled across the Love Sunday fiction slot on social media a while ago.

Love Sunday is the supplement (a magazine) of The Sunday People newspaper. They publish a short story once a week. It's open to any genre.

If your story is chosen for publication, sadly there's no payment for the writer – however, they do offer a free book plug. (An advert in a national magazine or newspaper would cost hundreds of pounds – far more than most of us can earn from selling one story.)

This is a national popular newspaper, so for me, it was worth having a think about finding a home for some unsold womag work and grabbing some precious publicity for our charity e- anthology, Paws For ThoughtMy hubby and I produced this e-book in 2017. Income generated from sales is donated to the RSPCA. 

There's a pick n' mix of fiction, from ghosts and twists, to romance and crime. It includes work from well- known womag writers such as Patsy Collins, Fran Tracey, Alan Williams,Tara Westgate, Beatrice Charles and Jacqui Cooper. Please check out our website for further information: http://ryecorn.orgfree.com

I was delighted when Flavia (She's in charge of the fiction section) accepted a story of mine called Skin Deep

When it appeared, it was really nicely illustrated and I was pleased with how it was set out. I'm more than happy to consider submitting another story in the future.

If you'd like to submit a story to Love Sunday (who unlike some magazines don't take all rights) they require a max of 1, 500 words. Please email Flavia: f.bertolini (at) mirror.co.uk

Wednesday, 14 November 2018

Found Sparkle?

We've just been on holiday (no, not another one – the trip to Scotland was a working trip ... mostly). Whilst in Greece I spotted a newsagent stand with British mags on it and couldn't resist flicking through to see if I was in any of them and was surprised to see I was (although not as amazed as I appear in the photo). The magazines must take a while to reach Greece.

Have you ever seen UK magazines while abroad?

Or looked at the magazines published in the countries you've visited?

For those wondering, the story was in Woman's Weekly (submitted and accepted under the old terms) and appeared in the UK a couple of weeks ago.

Tuesday, 6 November 2018

Paragraph indents, or lack of

Hi everyone - greetings from Greece! (I know those aren't Greek flags, but I wanted something to wave at you (and I haven't downloaded yesterday's photos yet – we were too busy winning the quiz.) Can you tell from them where we were a couple of days ago?)

I was asked a question via twitter, which I've only just seen. It went something like this ...  'When an editor asks for no paragraph indents, what should I do? Add a space or symbol? It looks odd with nothing.'

As one person is wondering, it seems likely others are too, so I've decided to answer on here. All you do is leave out the indents (or if, as is likely, you can't help but put them in as you write, take them out again afterwards).

If you think about it logically, the editor will have asked for the story to be sent without indents because she doesn't want them (if you look in the magazines, many don't use them). If you have indents, or anything else including blank lines, then these will have to be removed. That takes time; not much time per story perhaps, but it is 'one more thing'.

I do agree that it looks odd – and I confess that I can't write without something to diferentiate the paragraphs, but I do try to remove them before submitting if that's what the guidelines request.

Thursday, 1 November 2018

Anyone there?

Is it worth me writing posts this month, or are you all doing NaNo and so too busy to read them?

Friday, 26 October 2018

Studying the market

Us writers are often told we need to study (or research our markets). Not everyone does this. A lucky few of those who don't will naturally write in a style suited to wherever it is they're submitting to. Many more will keep getting rejections, unaware that they'd have more success either submitting elsewhere, or giving their work a few tweaks so it's just what the editor wants.

My tips for studying the womag fiction market ...

1. Start by looking at as many different magazines as possible and deciding which publishes fiction closes to the way you naturally write.

2. Check it's somewhere you can submit to and one which doesn't insist on terms you'd be unwilling to accept. (My magazine quick links on the right will help with that.)

3. Buy several issues over a continuos period, and read each just as though you were any regular reader. DO NOT rely on old copies. It was never a good idea to do that, but it's even more unwise now that so many publications have made big changes in their editorial teams.

4. Read the stories again, making a note of anything they seem to have in common. This might include age rage of main characters, whether they have happy endings, locations, if they're mainly seasonal stories, the gender of main characters...

 5. Now do the same with the way they're written. POV(s) used, tense used, presented chronologically or with flashbacks, told traditionally, or in a less usual style (via letters or emails, diary entries etc.)

6. Take all these into account when plotting your next story for this magazine. I don't mean you must use them all, or that you can't add other elements, just that there should be enough similarities for the editor to recognise it as suitable for the magazine.

7. Before editing, look at the magazines again. Do the stories contain many long words, are there lots of 'colourful' speech tags or is 'she said' preferred? Single or double quotes for dialogue? Tweak yours so it really looks the part.

Are these kind of tips useful to you? If they are, you might like this book.

Do you have any more suggestions for either studying the market, or using the information gathered to help your chances of success?

Monday, 22 October 2018

Seasonal stories

Womag editors are very keen on seasonal stories. I'm using the term 'seasonal' in a very broad sense here – it covers spring, summer, autumn and winter of course, but also Valentine's and Christmas, the holiday season, anniversaries of historic events ...

At the moment there are more ghost stories than usual (I have one in Take A Break's Fiction Feast). Soon there will be bonfires and as we're coming up to the 100th anniversary of the end of World War 1 I'm sure that will feature in some magazines.

Here are a few things to keep in mind when writing a seasonal story –

1. Get it in early. In many cases six months in advance could be too late.

2. You don't need to be too obvious. For example a story about fresh starts or self improvement might be suitable for an issue with a New Year theme, even if you don't mention January 1st.

3. Don't write too many stories with a non annual seasonal theme. An Easter story which doesn't sell one year can be subbed elsewhere the next. A leap year story will have a longer wait and any spare Royal wedding ones you have left over might be gathering dust for a long time to come.

4. You can add seasonal details to almost any story with careful choice of the clothes people wear and food or drink they consume – wellies and roast chestnuts, ice cream and flip flops.

These can be switched if required. I've just had what was written as a summer story accepted for a People's Friend special which will go out in January. The original ice cream will be swapped for hot chocolate so it's a better fit.

5. If subbing abroad, remember their seasons, and even special days, may be different. You'll have a tough job selling a story about a Christmas snowball fight, or March Mother's Day to That's Life in Australia.

Do you prefer reading and writing seasonal or non seasonal stories? (If you like reading the kind of spooky stories which appear in womags at this time of year, you'll enjoy my latest short story collection, Slightly Spooky Stories II ).

Do you have any tips to share, questions to ask, or words of warning about writing seasonal stories?

Can you think of any 'seasons' I've not mentioned, but which could be used in a womag story?

Monday, 15 October 2018

Over to You

Here's another monthly random photo for use as a story prompt. 

It's also your chance to share success (or otherwise) ask questions*, report any womag news, tips, advice you may have, or make womag related comments or observations. (If you have news or a question relating to a particular magazine, it's also fine to add it as a comment to the latest post for that magazine.)

*If you can answer these, please do.

What made you want to write fiction?