Wednesday, 18 May 2022

Over To You


Womag news

Do you have any womag news?

Are you researching, writing, subbing? Had any acceptances or rejections? Any other news?

Feel free to use the as a picture prompt. If you'd like other writing prompts, short exercises and story/scene suggestions then you might find this book useful.

Free entry writing competition news

I'd love to hear your competition news.

Do you have writing tips to share, questions to ask, or suggestions for this blog?

Friday, 13 May 2022

Do you (still) enjoy reading fiction in magazines?

I know many of my blog readers like writing short stories and hope to have them published in magazines – and wish there were more submission opportunities.

I've been wondering why there has been such a decline in the markets over the last few decades. Maybe there are only a few of us left who appreciate short stories?

I don't think that's the case, and apparently neither do DC Thomson as they've increased the amount of fiction in both The People's Friend and My Weekly. I'd love to know your thoughts.

Do you enjoy reading fiction in magazines?

Did you use to enjoy short stories, but now prefer celebrity gossip, adverts and whatever else has replaced the fiction in magazines which no longer publish it?

Does your like / dislike of fiction influence your decision on whether or not to read a particular magazine?

Responses (as comments on this blog please) are welcome from all who have an opinion, whether they're writers or not.

Wednesday, 11 May 2022

Things are looking up

Free entry competition news

The Anansi archive have competitions for flash fiction, short stories and poetry, all with small cash prizes. I've sent them a flash piece.

There's a much larger prize – £1,000 on offer for this poetry competition. Poetry isn't really my thing, but that prize is very tempting.

Competition / womag news

In The People's Friend this week there's a competition to write a short story withe the theme of Scotland. Thanks to Liz Filleul for pointing it out - as I'm away I've not seen the mag yet. I do however know there's a story of mine inside and a lovely illustration of one of my favourite castles on the front.

Update 12/5/22 I've just checked the 'small print' and learned that simply by entering this competition authors will give up all their rights to their stories.

"Entrants (including the winners) hereby assign all intellectual property rights and waive all moral rights in their entry to D. C. Thomson."

I am very surprised and disappointed that DC Thomson are treating writers in this way, as they're usually so fair and supportive. 
I strongly urge writers NOT to give up their rights, even in exchange for a prize or publication fee, and certainly not just for the chance to send in an entry.

Womag news

My Weekly are following The People's Friend in increasing the amount of fiction they publish. This market is not currently open to unsolicited submissions (meaning you need to be 'on the list' to send work in) but I think it's still encouraging that some publishers, and their readers, obviously do value short stories.

My news

The photo says it all!

Sunday, 8 May 2022


Sorry if you saw the rather unpleasant spam comments. Because some are creeping through Blogger's defences, and I'm going to be on the road quite a bit so not able to keep a close eye on things, I've decided to put comment moderation back on.

That does mean any comments might take a little while to appear, but I'll get to them as soon as I can and still appreciate them all just as much. These flowers are for everyone who leaves actual comments, not spam ones.

Wednesday, 4 May 2022

A quickie about stuff

Hi. Just a quick post today as I'm busy with 'stuff'. Writing of course, but also gardening and getting ready for adventures in the van - we'll be staying in at least five different locations and three different countries before the end of the month and it all starts today.

Womag news

I've still not heard anything from Stylist magazine, nor do I know of anyone who has. I did spot that they've changed their submission requirements a little.

Lipstick and Lies
have temporarily closed to submissions. They've contacted everyone who has had work accepted. Were you one of the lucky ones! (I hadn't even decided whether or not to sub when I discovered they'd closed.)

My womag news

This kind of thing doesn't happen often, but I currently have a story in Yours, The People's Friend and People's Friend special.

Free entry competition news

This competition is for literary novels over 30,000 words and offers £1,500 plus publication to the winner.

Any questions?

If you have any womag or other writing related questions I'm very happy to try to answer them – provided you do it as a comment on this blog.  Sorry but I simply don't have time to answer individual queries by email and social media. Often more than one person asks the same thing and even when it's just one person the chances are that someone else was wondering. If you ask on the blog, not only can others benefit from the answer, but more people will see the question so you're more likely to get a helpful reply.

Whether you have questions or not, please do leave a comment if you find the blog useful, interesting or otherwise worth me taking time out from all the other 'stuff' I have going on!

Here's how to leave a comment. (It's free and you don't need to create an account.)

Wednesday, 27 April 2022

It's all about the competition

Free to enter writing competition news

Thanks to Sharon for the following (posted in a comment) - the Best mag comp's next theme is Summer.

The closing date is 27th May. There's a max of 1, 200 words.
£500 for the winner, £200 for the 2 runner- ups.
It's free to enter and writers keep copyright.
Good luck to all who enter!

And thanks to Alyson Faye (who co-runs this site) for telling me about this poetry competition with the theme of water. It looks as though publication and publicity are the only prizes, but it's probably quite good publicity.

Alyson also told me about the Hengisbury Head writing competition. Unfortunately I can only find a link to last year's. It doesn't close until August so perhaps the details will be added to the website later. There is a flyer which states the competition is in its 8th year, with a new theme, and g
ives the same contact email as is shown on the website.

Reader's Digest have a 100 word competition with a £1,000 prize!

This novella competition offers publication and $1,000 dollars. They do want a lot more than 100 words, but there will probably be fewer entries than with the Reader's Digest one.

My competition news

A while ago I posted about a novel writing competition from Black Spring Press. Ive just heard I've been longlisted. Final results will be announced late this summer.

Womag News

Just in case you hadn't heard – The People's Friend staff are back in the office. Hopefully once they're settled that'll speed up response times. 

My other news

We'll be away in the van soon. It seems so long since we've done that for more than one night and I'm really looking forward to it. The views from the windows show our destination, but I'm not expecting anyone to recognise it.

Wednesday, 20 April 2022

Over To You - and a new market


Womag news
Thanks to Marguerite for passing on details of this interesting new market for short stories, flash fiction and poetry.

Lipstick & Lies is a new magazine, looking for stories between 1,000 and 2,500 words. Full submission requirements are on the website.

I contacted Eva who has set this up to enqure whether this is a paying market and to invite her onto the blog to discuss fiction in the magazine. 

Her response – "As we are brand-spanking new, we are starting off as a non-paying market.
However, should there be plenty of submissions, we will be offering payment at a later stage.
The 'Guest Post' sounds exciting - I shall give that some thought."

Anyone had any kind of response from Stylist? I sent a submission, but haven't had any acknowledgement or reply.

Do you have any womag news?

Are you researching, writing, subbing? Had any acceptances or rejections? Any other news?

Feel free to use the as a picture prompt. If you'd like other writing prompts, short exercises and story/scene suggestions then you might find this book useful.

Free entry writing competition news

I'd love to hear your competition news.

Do you have writing tips to share, questions to ask, or suggestions for this blog?

My news

I've published a new collection of short stories called Making A Move.

Here's the blurb – No matter if it’s taking a walk, catching a bus or jumping out of a perfectly good aeroplane, the way we move can get us where we want to be.

Our journey could be on land, sea, by air or all in our mind. We might travel with others, get there by ourselves, or need help to make the journey.

The moves we make aren't always from A to B. We may change direction, take steps to improve our lives or start a relationship. We could be the driver, passenger or equal partner in a dance into the future.

Whether they're making a move on someone, moving upwards and onwards, or going round in circles, anyone who doesn't stay put has a story to tell. This book contains 24 of them.

It's available from Amazon as a paperback or ebook, or can be ordered through bookshops and requested in libraries. As always anything you can do to help spread the word will be much appreciated.

Monday, 18 April 2022

A wee bit of cheer

Womag News

Some good news! The People's Friend are going to publish even more fiction. Full details can be found here.

Free entry competition news

This competition is for writing about 'what Scotland means to me' offers "free enrollment to the "Become a Successful Author" course (a value of $1,500 USD), plus access to our library of author training resources (up to $500 value)" as the prize. I feel it also totally justifies me for posting some pictures of my trips to Scotland!

Thanks to Alyson for your continued support of this blog and for passing on more great links. The latest are for this short story competition with a £500 prize and this one which offers prizes of $1,000, $2,000 and $3,000!

Blog news

Thanks to Beverley who alerted me to the fact that the option to subscribe by email to this blog had disappeared. I don't know how I managed to remove it, but I think I've now managed to reinstate it. You should be able to find it in the right hand side sidebar (possibly only on computers and tablets, not phones). 

I've tried it out myself and it seems to work, but I did get an alarming message saying it's not secure. Sorry, I don't know how to fix that. If you do, and can explain it in very simple terms, please get in touch!

However you find my blog posts, please do leave a comment on any you find of interest. This lets me know what to post more of and motivates me to do so. Comments also have the potential to improve the blog – both by the sharing of information and the possibility of getting responses from editors, competition organisers etc and attracting interesting guest bloggers. Such people are more likly to be interested if the blog clearly has readers and the only way they'll know that is if you leave comments.

Wednesday, 13 April 2022

Why Your Writing is Important – guest post by Cat Lumb

My guest today is womagwriter, author and writing coach Cat Lumb.

Why Your Writing is Important

As writers, it’s easy to put off our writing for another day. Especially when other people are vying for our attention, tasks need completing, and there’s always just ‘one more thing to do’. We postpone our solitary session in front of the page because our friends or family need us - a quick favour, or phone call, or trip to the shops. Every distraction is a reason to step away and one more delay to our writing progress. 

As a Writing Coach I see this often in my clients’ lives. Because their writing is only important to them it gets pushed down the to-do list. We justify it because there isn’t a looming deadline, and the consequences of not writing that day seem less impactful on those around us. After all, it’s just ourselves we’re letting down, not anyone else. And we do this so much that writing rarely reaches the top of the endless list of things we promise to everyone else first. 

But why is it that our own writing dreams are less important than a trip to the supermarket, a phone call with a friend, or that unanswered email?

In part it’s because it’s easier to neglect our writing than it is to ignore a human being. We don’t want to let other people down, and our writing will always be there for another day, right? While our dream might be important to us, it’s not to anyone else, and it’s certainly not urgent: not like the cacophony of demands from people around us. 

So we put it off, and hope that we can get back to it another day.

Except, of course, tomorrow is exactly the same as it was yesterday and today, and in a world of instant and immediate communication it’s assumed rude to ignore a message for more than a few hours. 

Yet, whenever we ditch our writing we feel disappointed in ourselves. We take it as a sign that perhaps we’re not meant for writing, and that our dream is just that - a dream, a fantasy, nothing that we deserve given we can’t seem to sit down to it. Because it can feel selfish to take an hour or so out of your day to indulge in your imaginary world. How can you defend spending time with characters that don’t exist off the page when your kids, pets, or family - very real, tangible beings - are calling for you in the background.

But if our writing time is not important enough for us to protect it from all the distractions in our lives, why should other people respect that time we spend writing too? The more often we dismiss our writing ourselves the more regularly people assume we aren’t serious about it.

This is why one of the first things I embed with my clients is the statement: “If my writing is important to me; it’s important.” No justifications or explanations necessary. 

Writing is precious and therefore we need to take care of it. Even when those around us can’t understand it, we have to advocate for our dream because nobody else will. And the best way to do this is by putting clear boundaries in place around our writing time. 

Imagine a life where you don’t delay your writing dream. When instead of saying ‘Yes’ to something someone else is asking, you say ‘Not right now, because I’m writing’. How much more progress would you make if those in your life respected and accepted your writing time and therefore didn’t interrupt or distract you from it? 

The only way this can happen is if you see your writing that way too.

So, the next time you find yourself promising to write, and then never showing up for it - remind yourself that your writing dream is important, it deserves to be protected, nurtured, and permitted to grow. If you believe that your writing is worthy of your time and act accordingly, others will respond in kind. Then perhaps that dream will have a chance to become a reality.

Say it with me: If my writing is important to me, it’s important.


Try This: 

As The Write Catalyst I advise this simple exercise to review how you prioritise your writing time in advance - making the decision ahead of time means it’s easier to carry it out in the moment.

Make a list of the things that are MORE important to you than your writing dream (medical emergency, time with children, paid-work). Then make a list of all the things that are LESS important than your writing dream (housework, doom-scrolling, gossiping on the phone). 

The next time you are scheduled to sit down to write the ONLY things you are allowed to prioritise above it are those things on the MORE list. If someone calls you for a chat, or the kitchen needs a tidy - those things don’t count; go and write instead! 


Cat Lumb is a writer with published fiction in Women's Weekly, Writing Magazine, Comma Press and on Amazon - including her debut novel In Lies We Trust which reached #16 in the Spy Thriller bestseller list in March 2021. She is also a Writing Coach under the alias The Write Catalyst, and supports writers to finally write that novel they dream of using positive encouragement and her decade of writing experience. She also offers advice and support through her blog and social media communities, in addition to online Masterclasses and 1:1 Coaching offers.
Check out her blog: 
Join The Write Catalyst Facebook Community; Follow The Write Catalyst on Instagram; or find her on Twitter.

Monday, 11 April 2022

Why bother?

Womag news

Submitting to YOU magazine is now resulting in the following automatic response –

 Dear writer, 

Thank you for your story.
Due to the sheer volume of submissions, the YOU Fiction mailbox will be closed until further notice. 

Appreciate your understanding,
YOU Fiction Editor

Hopefully this is only temporary, to allow the editor to catch up with submissions. 

There are a lot of us writers submitting to a small number of markets – if most of us simultaneously send something to the same place, which tends to happen when submission windows or new markets open, the editors will feel swamped. I'm not saying don't submit, but maybe think twice before sending everything on your hard drive which is the correct word count?

My news

I'm doing some updates on this blog and my website. If you happen to notice any broken links, daft typos or anything else which needs attention, please let me know.

The photos above are of the illustrations for stories I have in the current The People's Friend and Take A Break's Fiction Feast. If you submit to either magazine you'll know which is which. If you don't you're not reading the current issues and I strongly advise that you do.)

I have a new short story collection coming out soon.

Sometimes, when I get a rejection, or I've had no book sales I can wonder why I bother. Other days something happens to make me glad I do. Yesterday was one of those times. I got a review for this collection of garden stories. Naturally I was pleased by the 5 stars, but it was the person saying they'd bought the book to read to their mother who has dementia which made the impact.

I feel the real value of womag type stories is their ability to provide a few minutes escapism and pleasure. They don't change the world or people's lives, but they can sometimes raise a smile – and that's important.

Wednesday, 6 April 2022

Five fabulous freebies! (and flowers)

I've found five free competitions for my friends. Have fun figuring out fine and fabulously formatted entries. First here are a few of the frivolous flowers I'm famous for. (I photographed them on my phone, but that only works phonetically.)

Free entry competition news

The Anansi Archives spring competitions are open. There are small cash prizes for short stories, flash fiction and poetry. I expect I'll have a go at that one.

The Fitzcarraldo Editions novel prize offers publication with a $10,000 advance for works of at least 30,000 words. I don't have anything suitable for that and probably won't have by the 1st June when it closes.

Although the BCSA competition is for writing about the links between Britain and 
the lands now comprising the Slovak and Czech Republics or society in the republics, anyone may enter. First prize is £400, publication and the option to have the award presented at a dinner in London.

That's not for me. I don't know enough about the subject. No doubt that applies to a lot of people, so if you do have some knowledge or are prepared to research your chances might be quite good.

This competition from W&AYB is for British and Irish writers who consider themselves working class. They want the opening of a work in progress and are offering a prize bundle which includes £200 and mentoring.

I don't have anything started for this either, but it doesn't close until 18th July and they only need a short sample, so if inspiration strikes I could give this a go.

The Perito prize is for work on the theme of inclusive environments, accessibility and inclusive design and offers a £500 prize. The winner and selected entries will be published in an anthology. The theme interests me, so I'll try to come up with something.

Are you tempted by any of these? If not, why not?

Wednesday, 30 March 2022

New market, my birthday, copyright stuff

Womag news

Stylist magazine will be publishing one short story a week from April. These should be under 1,000 words and can be of any genre. The fee is £200 and they don't take all rights. Sounds pretty good to me!

They say they'll consider submissions from anyone, but 'Stylist Short Stories is designed to offer an opportunity to those who are particularly underrepresented in commercial publishing such as female-identifying, trans and non-binary writers' full details are here

Copyright stuff

Recently I've had queries from a couple of people uncertain about the rights they gave up when a story was published in the past. Unfortunately it isn't always possible to answer that query.

If I sold to the magazine at the time I'll know what my contract said – because I always read mine, check I understand and keep a copy. If you sold to the same magazine at the same time it's likely the contract you signed will be the same, but it might not be. When terms change contracts aren't always sent to everyone at once. Sometimes stories are accepted on one set of terms but not published until after the new contracts comes into force so different stories in the same issue could be subject to different terms. It's also possible that an author may have negotiated terms which differ from the standard contracts. (I have, very occasionally, negotiated terms which don't require me to give up all rights when others in the same publication have signed theirs away.)

Please, please, please
– read any contract and be sure you understand it BEFORE signing, and keep a copy. You may think now that you don't mind what rights you give up so it doesn't matter and then find in the years to come that you feel differently. If you can't check which rights you gave up, you can't assume you can legally use the story.

Free entry competition news

Thanks to Alyson for the link to this short story competition. There's £500 on offer, plus a free virtual workshop to get help with your entry.

Now the really important part. It's my birthday. I know I'm getting money to spend on plants and plan to spend part of the day choosing and planting them. That will make me hungry, so please leave cake in the comments.

Wednesday, 23 March 2022

The Art Of Re-drafting by Womag Writer S. Bee.

Today's guest is my writing friend and critique buddy S. Bee. She's kindly sharing the amount of work, rethinking and perseverance it sometimes takes to get a womag story accepted for publication. 

Some writers can be precious about their work and refuse to change even a word, let alone the character's name or the main plot. I used to feel like that when I set out in 2010, trying to sell my work to the woman's magazine market. Over time, I changed my mind when I realised that in order to sell, I needed to adopt a more flexible approach.

This piece outlines my experience of how I re-drafted a story several times in order for it to be finally accepted.

I first wrote a story called 'Too Good to be True' around eight years ago. It was about a middle-aged hairdresser (Marion) who, on her day off at home, answered the door to an out of the blue caller – her twenty-something daughter's primary/ infant school friend, Lisa.

Marion hadn't seen Lisa for years, so hardly recognised her, but invited her in for a cuppa. Daughter Abbey was away on holiday. Over tea, Lisa spun Marion a story of woe. She was currently homeless and had been kicked out of a hostel because (apparently) they needed her room. She was unemployed, too. She asked if Marion would consider her as a live- in housekeeper.

Feeling sorry for her, and put on the spot, Marion said yes – but she came to regret her decision. Lisa didn't do any housework and played her music loud.

Mild-mannered Marion tried to confront Lisa, but nothing had changed. Lisa was taking her for a ride, with free food, shelter and bills. The loud music attracted a dishy male neighbour, Ken. He asks Marion out. They go on a date and work as a team, to come with options for Lisa. When they return to Marion's, they discover that Lisa has disappeared. As a parting gift, she's cleaned the house. 

And that was the end of the story. Marion found romance and the 'Lisa situation' had solved itself!

I subbed it around the magazines, but it didn't get anywhere. For a start, social problems aren't very womag friendly. No-one wants to reads about hostels and unemployment.

Marion's daughter didn't appear anywhere in the story, either. Lisa was the connection to Abbey, so Abbey ought to have made an appearance. And why would Lisa change her ways, then suddenly disappear?

I still liked the idea of a ID fraudster taking advantage, so put the story aside until I felt ready to begin version 2, called 'The two Lisa's.' The basic plot was the same as before, but I'd dropped the dishy neighbour. Marion arrived home from work to find Lisa had disappeared again (leaving the house in a mess). 

This time, Abbey rocked up early from her holiday, with yes, you've guessed it, her school pal, Lisa – she'd bumped into her at the airport. The real Lisa explained she knew Trina, who was also a childhood pal.

Trina had posed as Lisa, preying on the parents of her former school friends, in order to gain free lodgings and food. She found these friends online. It was around fifteen years since anyone had seen Lisa, so like Marion, the parents wouldn't recognise her – so she got away with it.

Lisa explained that Trina had probably run off to join a boyfriend in Paris, as this was her pattern of behaviour. Marion's head whirled (mine did too!) When Lisa left, they suspected them of being in cahoots. The last line was when Marion turned to Abbey and asked 'How do we know that was the real Lisa?'

How indeed!

Although I'd left the ending open, I was convinced it had a fantastic twist. With hopes high, I subbed it to suitable magazines again. Yet there was no joy. It was only with the distance of time that I could clearly see that the plot was too complicated.

It raised more questions than answers. If Trina and Lisa were partners in crime, what exactly did they get away with? Nothing was actually stolen. I didn't like the 'tracking down folk via a website' aspect, either. It was way too sinister. And as my womag writing critique friends said, certain parts of the plot just didn't ring true. 

Why would Lisa / Trina go to all that trouble, just for the sake of grabbing 2 week's free nosh? If she had a fella in Paris, why wasn't she with him? And why would the real Lisa help Trina scrounge like this? What would she get out of it? It was also bit of a coincidence that she'd bumped into Abbey at the airport. Surely, if Lisa was a rip-off merchant, she'd want to avoid her?

I couldn't think of a way around it that was less complex. I was seriously struggling. So I asked myself, what was the important angle, for me, with this story? Well, I wanted to emphasise the 'never trust a stranger' idea.

When inspiration struck, I ditched the whole 'daughter's fake school friend' set-up. But passive, polite Marion needed someone on her side, so I kept Abbey.

Version number 3 was called 'The Doorstep Stranger.' It had never occurred to me to bring in her job – Marion was a hairdresser. But this time, I did. 

The big question was – had Marion been conned by Linda, who called herself a market researcher? I'd try and keep the reader guessing whether Linda was genuine or not. 

Abbey made an appearance at the half-way point, to listen to her to mum's reservations – and to confront Linda. I also cut down on the words to make it short and snappy, plus to suit the mag's length.

The new plot involved Marion discovering that Linda had stolen her jewellery whilst pretending to need the loo. Linda turned out to be the daughter of Marion's new work- mate. Marion had found this new recruit difficult, and had given her a telling off. So the newbie and her daughter had cooked up a revenge plot!

I was hugely relieved when in early 2022, Take a Break's Fiction Feast accepted it. So the moral of the story is - don't give up on a tale you have faith in, even if it requires the art of re-drafting!

Monday, 21 March 2022

Fiction guidelines for YOU magazine

Here are the guidelines for YOU magazine, reproduced with permission from the fiction editor.



Length: 1 500 words  


Genre: Any, including romance although we'd like to feature more whodunits and detective stories.   


Plot: General, but including contemporary issues such as the internet, email, family and social relationships, etc. The main criteria are that the story should be an entertaining, compelling read, and not too highbrow or morbid. Stories with an interesting twist always make for fun reading. Finally, there must be a definite storyline; sketches will not do.   


Target market: YOU is a family magazine and ideally we'd like our short stories to appeal to both male and female readers (young adults and adults).   


Presentation: Only emailed manuscripts will be accepted for consideration. Email them to  


To facilitate our production process please:  

  • Use double quotation marks.  
  • Use only one space after full stops, commas, semicolons, question marks, etc.  
  • Press the ENTER key only once to make a paragraph; do not use indents.  

    We pay: R1 950/story  


I invited the fiction editor, Illana Frantz onto the blog and she replied that she'd like to take me up on that offer sometime. If you have any questions you'd like her to answer, please put them in the comments. I can't guarantee she'll be able to answer them all, but I will pass them on.

Wednesday, 16 March 2022

Over To You

Womag news

My womag news – Over the last week I've sold to My Weekly and Yours. All sales are good of course, but I'm especially pleased about these as it's been a long time since I had an acceptance with either of them. In the case of Yours that's partly because I didn't sub for quite a few years (due to them taking all rights during that period). With My Weekly I obviously just wasn't sending quite what the editors wanted.

Do you have any womag news?

Are you researching, writing, subbing? Had any acceptances or rejections? Any other news?

Feel free to use the as a picture prompt. If you'd like other writing prompts, short exercises and story/scene suggestions then you might find this book useful.

Free entry writing competition news

There's still (just) time to enter the BBC National Short Story Award. The prize is £600 – for runners up! Top prize is £15,000.  The rules refer to 'the extreme volume of entries' so our chances aren't high, but somebody has to win, don't they?

I have sent a few entries but no successes to report. 

I'd love to hear your competition news, if you have any.

Call for submission

The Black Spring Press are inviting poems for an anthology to raise money for Ukrainian refugees.

Other stuff

Do you have writing tips to share, questions to ask, or suggestions for this blog?