Tuesday, 25 April 2017

Guest post by womagwriter Keith Havers

My guest today is womagwriter and novelist, Keith Havers


Always On The Lookout

I had the pleasure of meeting Patsy a few weeks ago and an off-the-cuff comment by me over the coffee and biscuits is the basis of this post.

I happened to remark that, as an almost full-time writer, I consider myself to be at work during all my waking hours. By that I don't mean that I'm constantly writing or that my mind is consciously working on stories, but I am always on the lookout for ideas and inspiration.

I think this stemmed from a few years ago when I had just begun sending off short stories to competitions and magazines with very little success. My wife and I were walking along the seafront at some English resort and watching the activity on the beach. It was a cold day and there weren't many people about but my wife challenged me to concoct a story based around some of the things going on. I actually managed to come up with two stories, one of which was eventually published.

From then on I was constantly aware that there are story ideas all around and almost anything can be used as a basis for fiction. It has now become second nature for me to latch on to an overheard conversation, an unusual event or a news item on TV and begin to turn things over in my mind.


Since then I have had published stories based on TV shows, family life, national events and many more. Since becoming a writer I've become more observant and a bit of an eavesdropper but it has paid off.

You can find my blog here.

Keith has recently self-published Youthtopia, a children's adventure story aimed at 11 to 13 year olds. It features seven youngsters from diverse backgrounds who have to work together to outwit a criminal mastermind.

A sequel is in process.

Are you like Keith, always on the lookout for story ideas, or do you switch off from your writing when you're away from your desk?

Friday, 21 April 2017

Guest post by womagwriter Tracey Walsh

I'm joined today by womagwriter and pocket novelist, Tracey Walsh.

This week's #writingchat (Wednesdays 8pm-9pm on Twitter) was on the subject of Writing Tips. I was slightly off subject when I tweeted:

Bought PF mag today. Showed shop assistant my story. Her response: "You wrote it? Why did you do that?" Discuss! #writingchat

It had been niggling me all day. Whenever I've had a story published before I've had overwhelmingly positive comments. The only other odd comments were things like:

"Do you make them up in your head?"

And:

"They pay you?!"

But the lady in Tesco really took the wind out of my sails. The next day I nearly headed to another shop for the morning papers but I decided to be brave. After serving me the (same) sales assistant asked, "Did you show your story to anyone else?" 

So, come on folks. Share some of the interesting comments you've had about your stories.

Monday, 17 April 2017

New address for The People's Friend

As of today, anything posted to The People's Friend should be sent to 2 Albert Square, Dundee, DD1 1DD (That's not too hard to remember, is it?)

All other submission details are unchanged.

UPDATE Those who already have an editor at PF might have been given a different postcode. If so, they should use that. This address is for those who've not yet been assigned an editor there.

Friday, 14 April 2017

Taking a break?

Good Friday is a traditional time for gardening and the weather is lovely, so that's mainly what I'll be doing this Easter.

These pictures are all from my garden. Can you guess which is my current favourite flower and see why so many of my stories feature plants?





How about you - will you be gardening, writing, or doing something else this long weekend?

Tuesday, 11 April 2017

Plots, plans and pals

There haven't been many posts lately, but I have managed to come up with an excuse perfectly valid reasons for this. Firstly there doesn't seem to be a great deal of womag news about (if you have any to share, particularly good news, please get in touch).

Secondly I've been out in the campervan (aka mobile writing retreat) meeting writing friends and making plans. At the end of March I met up with Anne Rainbow (we're considering running a residential writing course next spring).

Then more recently pocket novelist Susan Jane Jones popped into the van for a quick cuppa and long(ish) chat about (amongst other things) our current novels in progress.

On the same trip I visited Alfie Dog editor (and co-author of From Story Idea to ReaderRosemary J Kind. We have an idea for another writing book - if we can fit it in around our other projects.

Then it was off to Nottingham where I met up with Keith Havers, Linda Sprott, Maria Smith and Carol Bevitt.

It was a gloriously sunny day and we'd been on a walk around the lakes, so we really did need to sit in the shade and eat ice creams, even though we'd started off in the cafe. (If you want to see the 'informal' group photo, take part in tomorrow's #writingchat.)

Is that too much name dropping for one post?Not quite I don't think ...

My last meeting was with People's Friend author Enid Reece. Niddy and I have known each other online since we both started writing but this is the first time we've met for real.

We chatted over a cup of tea and hardly any cake, before going for a walk.


It was lovely to meet up with so many writing friends and I'm now full of enthusiasm for my current, and future, writing projects. Thank you all for your company and inspiration.

Wednesday, 5 April 2017

Any luck?

I have a story in the current (May!) issue of Woman's Weekly Fiction Special - and I'm delighted to be issue buddies with several of my writing friends.

My story is about a lucky red pen. One of those wouldn't help me as I do nearly all my writing straight onto the laptop, but when I submitted work by post, I tried to use lucky postboxes to drop them into. Sometimes it worked!

Do you have anything which you consider lucky or helpful when it comes to your writing?

Monday, 20 March 2017

Changes at The People's Friend

The People's Friend staff will soon be moving offices. For now, continue to send submissions to 80 Kingsway East, Dundee 8SL.

The editor, Shirley Blair, mentions on her blog that writers may have to wait a little longer than usual to get replies and asks that they 'bear with us' for a time.

Friday, 17 March 2017

Every Day Fiction

Every Day Fiction is a paying fiction market. Don't get too excited – it's only a token payment of $3.

Regularly published writers have probably lost interest by now. Those who're newer to submitting might feel that having someone so keen to publish your story they're willing to pay, is worth more than the sum involved.

For those who are still with me, stories may be any length, up to 1,000 words and of any genre. If you have a piece which you'd love to see published, but which doesn't fit into the womag market, this could be a good place to try it. There's also a reasonable chance you'll get useful feedback on your work and, if published, there's an opportunity to promote your blog or even books. Either of those could be valuable.


Sunday, 12 March 2017

Two years!

It's now two years since I took over the Womagwriter blog.

If I'd realised in time there would have been cake, but someone ate it. Here are some flowers instead. They're biennial wallflowers, which sort of makes them sound appropriate if you don't think about it for too long.

Under the circumstances, I hope you'll forgive a plug for this rather excellent guide to writing fiction. It's not just me saying it's good - there are a baker's dozen 5 star reviews.

Shouldn't have mention baking and the lack of cake. I'll be in the kitchen if anyone wants me.

Wednesday, 8 March 2017

Guest post by womagwriter Maggie Cobbett

Today's guest is Maggie Cobbet.

Thank you very much for inviting me to guest on your blog, Patsy. ‘Fillers’ have long been a supplementary form of writing income for me and are a particular comfort whenever a painstakingly crafted story is rejected. I’ve given talks, written articles, run workshops and even been persuaded to publish a handbook on the subject. (Sales of Easy Money For Writers and Wannabes have far outstripped those of my other books, so I must have got something right!) 

Womag devotees will already know of the ‘filler’ opportunities offered by the women’s magazine market but may not have looked much further afield. There are publications out there linked to just about every human activity and a great many editors welcome snippets to complete their pages. One of the first successes that I chalked up was a reader’s letter to a DIY magazine popular with my father, but over the years I have also contributed to titles dedicated to antiques and collectables, cookery, current affairs, family history, film & television, gardening, health, lifestyle, music, pets, regional interest, satire, sports, travel and even writing. Magazines and editors come and go, but keep an eye on your newsagent’s shelves and you’ll be amazed at what you find. 
 
For now, I’d like to focus on Reader’s Digest. You’ll probably all be familiar with out of date copies gathering dust in your doctor’s or dentist’s waiting room. Pick up a current one the next time you’re out shopping and take a good look at page 4. On offer in the February 2017 issue are:

£50 for the star letter and £30 for regular letters; 
£50 for the true stories, anecdotes, jokes in Laugh! and You Couldn’t Make It Up...; contributions to end-of-article fillers and My Great Escape (travel column).

I’ve had repeated success in all these areas, so why not you? Good luck, everyone!

Saturday, 4 March 2017

Guest post by editor Rosemary J Kind

Today's guest is writer and editor, Rosemary J Kind

At the heart of setting up Alfie Dog Fiction was a recognition that so many good womag stories aren’t published, or are published once and then find no more readers. Alfie Dog Fiction set out to provide an additional or alternative home for short stories. We wanted somewhere that would carry the best of all fiction, regardless of whether it had been published before and which generated royalties for the authors.

Over the five years since we began we’ve grown to become one of the biggest paid short story download sites in the world and been delighted to have stories we’ve nominated accepted for the Write Well Awards on both of the last two years.

We now have two submission windows a year and the next one opens for four weeks from the 5th March. We are looking for good quality stories. Stories that will leave the reader satisfied at the end. Whether it is romance or horror, general fiction or crime we do want a good story line. Our full submission criteria are on the site.

What aren’t we looking for is often more useful. Avoid clich├ęd storylines or characters. If I can guess your twist ending while still on page one then it isn’t that much of a twist. If you can surprise me with a twist ending that is consistent with the story then you will certainly have me hooked. If you can move me to tears or make me laugh out loud then you’re in with a pretty good chance too. Although I have read quite literally thousands of short stories in recent years, I’m still a reader at heart. I love a good story.

If you haven’t sent off short stories before then there is lots of good advice in the book that Patsy and I wrote together. From Story Idea to Reader was born out of the experiences we have between us of writing and publishing.

Depending on the volumes of submissions I will try to give some feedback if I can, particularly if a writer shows promise. If you want more detailed feedback we do offer a paid critique service for work you want to place elsewhere. The other thing worth doing before you submit is to download some of the stories we have on the site to get a feel for them. We do offer a few for free and many hundreds on a paid download basis, including many of Patsy’s.

Thursday, 2 March 2017

Guest post by aspiring womag writer Julie Day

Today's guest is Julie Day.

Why I write womag stories

I've been writing (or trying to write) short stories for women's magazines for about five years now, but it's only been the last couple of years that I have taken it seriously; submitting and reading the magazines. I've been to a few Woman's Weekly workshops and met the Fiction Editor, and it's these that have made me really want to get a story in Woman's Weekly.

Within the last year, I have found a Facebook group for womag writes, who have been very supportive. It also helps to know that I'm not the only one submitting and being rejected. Through this group I have found a blog to put my stories on for feedback, and the advice I have got there, especially from experienced writers, has been helpful and I've learnt a lot. I feel that my writing has improved because of it. I am continuing to use this blog to help me improve more.

Even though the market for womag stories has shrunk even more, I am not giving up. I am more determined to carry on. I will keep on reading the magazines, and finding new markets to write for, even outside the UK.

I have had short stories published in small press magazines over the years but not a national one. So, to see a story in a womag with my name next to it will give me such a buzz, knowing that I am starting to get there with my story writing.

So, if you want to write for womags, here are some tips:

1. Don't give up
2. Read the magazines and study them.
3. Read their guidelines
4. Keep an eye out for new markets
5. Find a group on or off-line for feedback
6. Take their advice, esp from published womag writers
7. Don't give up
8. Join an online group for support. You won't feel you are the only one.

Saturday, 25 February 2017

Top tips

Take a Break magazine use 'brainwave' tips as fillers and pay £50 for those with a photo and £25 without.

Some are more useful than others. As an example, "To stop cakes going stale, eat the whole thing in one go."

Or there's one in the current issue advising people to smear peanut butter on their campervan.

Hmmm, odd people these campervanners, especially if they also happen to be red headed writers.

If you know of any opportunities to write fillers and would like to write a guest post about one of them, please contact me.

Wednesday, 22 February 2017

New windows, love?

Annalisa gives some tips for submitting any written work, in which she describes the writer as a cold caller offering double glazing. I think that sums up the submission of unsolicited fiction to womags very well.

Just as everyone needs windows, the editors do need our stories. And just as we would, they'll only buy as many as they need, when they need them. They're also more likely to buy from those with a good reputation, or who at least seem as though they understand the business they're in.

It's our job to offer our product when there are gaps to be filled and to ensure what we're providing is a good fit - no massive Georgian bays to a sleek, modern flat. We also need to convince the buyer that our windows are as described and that we haven't also fitted them to their rival just across the road.

Are the windows you're trying to sell exactly right for the establishment you're offering them to?

Saturday, 18 February 2017

Your Cat Magazine

Your Cat Magazine will consider unsolicited features or articles. You may pitch the idea, or submit the finished piece.

"The magazine’s style is relaxed and chatty, yet informative." Most womag stories are relaxed and chatty and everyone knows female writers are cat owners*, so maybe some of you will be able to create "Articles relating to everyday life with a cat, a story about a very special cat, or how to deal with problems in cat ownership."

*Mine is fictitious, but I do have one.

Your Cat also publish short stories – about cats, obviously. They're not overly encouraging about the submission of these. "We do carry monthly fictional short stories, but these are written by established novelists and tend to be planned 12 months in advance."

Are you interested in non-fiction writing opportunities about cats – or any other subject?