Tuesday, 17 September 2019

Over to you

This month's discussion topic – Which womags do you read? And how do you get hold of them? Subscribe, buy from a newsagent, via Readly, borrow from a friend, in the library, something else?

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

Please share success (or otherwise!) report any womag news, tips, advice you may have, make womag related comments or observations and ask questions – and answer them too if you can help.

Friday, 13 September 2019

Oustanding stories and response times.

I know I'm not alone in having had stories accepted by Woman's Weekly on the old terms, eighteen months ago, and not yet used. A month ago I asked for an update, but have not yet had a reply. Oddly even some writers who now submit stories on the new terms, but for the old pay rate, are in the same situation – including the lack of information about the older stories. It seems they're hoping that if they ignore this issue it will go away!

Take a Break have also had some of my stories for quite a time, without being either rejected or accepted. My recent query into these was answered promptly, to say that they are still under consideration, but that if I wished to withdraw them the fiction editor would understand. Slightly frustrating not to get a definite answer, but at least I know they, or the response, haven't just got lost and I'm not being ignored.

Some magazines only respond if they wish to publish the story. With The Weekly News, if you've not heard after three months it's a no. (My story in this mag last week is pictured - thanks, Carrie!) The same applies with any version of Australian magazine That's Life!, but after six months, and Woman's World after four months.

With My Weekly, there's also a four month cut-off period, but the editor also sends out new guidelines every other month and confirms that stories submitted up to a certain date have all been considered. (If you're one of those permitted to submit to My Weekly and don't get these updated guidelines, do ask to be put on the list. They're very helpful.)

The People's Friend always reply to every submission. There's more information on how they do that here. Don't be too disheartened if all you get are the standard rejections. I did too, lots of them over a long period, until I got my first acceptance with them.

South African magazine YOU also reply to all submissions, usually within three weeks. I'm told that Yours also reply – eventually!

Some other magazines don't always reply and have no definite cut of period. These include Ireland's Own and Allas. Prima don't respond to submissions / competition entries unless you're the winner.

Please not, Take a Break, That's Life! and My Weekly only accept submissions from those on their lists of approved authors. The others are open to submissions from everyone. If you'd like to know more about submitting to any magazine, click on its title below this post, or from the list in the right hand column.

Tuesday, 3 September 2019

Any ideas?

Over on the People's Friend Blog, Lucy Chrichton has asked "Where has all the fiction gone?"

What do you think? Has it just been reduced because of the reasons she suggests, or are there other factors?

As a reader, does the inclusion of fiction make a difference to whether or not you buy a magazine?

Tuesday, 27 August 2019

Spam and comment moderation.

I've been getting a lot of spam on the blog – far more of those than real comments – so I've enabled comment moderation.

I won't be moderating your replies any more than previously, simply checking that they're actual replies to the post, not someone offering any one of a range of dubious services.

When I'm out in the van* I don't get online very frequently, so there may be a delay in any comments appearing. Sorry about that.

Talking of comments, if you leave one anonymously PLEASE try to remember to give yourself a number, initial, nickname etc, so people can easily reply to you.

*the pictures are recent views 'from the office'.

Tuesday, 20 August 2019

Over to you

This month's discussion topic – How long do you wait until deciding a story hasn't been successful, and do you 'chase up' a reply if you've not heard back?

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

Please share success (or otherwise!) report any womag news, tips, advice you may have, make womag related comments or observations and ask questions – and answer them too if you can help.
 (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.)

My own 'news' is that I'm presenting a workshop on creating characters and bringing them to life through dialogue, on 7th September in Nottingham. It's £10 if booked in advance – not bad for four hours?

Thursday, 25 July 2019

A very friendly reception

Our travels in the 'mobile writing retreat' took us to Dundee. We visited some of the major attractions, such as the historic ships, Unicorn and Discovery, nearby castles and of course the DC Thomson office. Despite knowing the address by heart, from sending so many submissions, I had a job locating it, but when we passed Bash Street knew we must be close.

Shirley Blair was very friendly and welcoming, as were the rest of the fiction team, and editor Angela Gilchrist.

Starting top right, there's Sarah Holliday (illustrations) Lucy Crichton, Shirley, me and Tracy Steel. (Yes, I was given tea in a special People's Friend mug!) Angela somehow escaped being in the photo, and 'my' editor Alan Spink was on holiday.

I also met Jill Finlay, former fiction editor of The Weekly News, and the first editor ever to accept one of my stories.

Of course I didn't just chat – I snooped about and asked questions.

The office was very tidy and modern looking, with most work done on computers. The stacks of paper you see are submissions. Due to increased numbers of these, and the 150 year celebrations, there are still some stories sent in April waiting to be read. I asked if any restrictions would need to be brought in to cope with the rise in submissions and was assured there are no plans to do this. Stories by new writers are very welcome – but please be aware it might be quite a while before you get a response. It's felt that although readers enjoy stories by favourite regular authors, they also like to see new names and enjoy quite a wide range of genres.

I tactfully refrained from photographing the fridge full of cheese, but here's the litte red box, containing details of all the stories 'in stock'. (That's those accepted, but not yet scheduled.) It's relatively empty, as Shirley has just scheduled the September issue and a special. Despite the heat (and it really was HOT in Dundee) she's now working on early winter and Christmas stories.

I had a riffle through and recognised quite a few names. Each card contains details of the author, the story, and comments for the illustrator, just to jog memories. The illustrator reads the whole story and may suggest illustration ideas.

There weren't many 3,000 word stories in the box. The entire fiction team mentioned wanting more at this length. Well most mentioned, one pleaded! 200 of these are needed each year – it's 300 in the case of 2,000 word stories, but these are recieved in large numbers.

Stories stay in the box for varying lengths of time, as each issue requires a mix of story lengths, styles and genres. It's possible that a seasonal story might not get included in the appropriate issue for that year and so be kept for the next, or the annual, but that's unusual.

Talking of a good mix – it's to get a good balance that story titles may be changed. Shirley said quite often stories have fairly similar titles, so these will be altered. If a character name is used in more than one story in the issue then this too may be changed. Shirley says she prefers not to do this, as she knows authors take care to select the right name. That suggests unusual names might be a good idea, but Shirley cautioned against those which a reader 'doesn't know how to say in their head'.

I asked for a top tip for new writers and was told, 'include dialogue'. A story is 'most unlikely' to be used without any. (I'm presenting a dialogue/charaterisation workshop in Nottingham in September)

My own tip is to check out Shirley's blog. Along with all kinds of advice, she provides story prompts (there's no requirement to use these, but if you do then let her know as she enjoys seeing how one image can lead to very different stories).

After leaving the fiction desk (via the cake shop Shirley directed me to!) we went up Law Hill to see the 'Our Wullie' painted by Sarah. The building over his hands is the DC Thomson offices.

Picture credits – Mr Patsy ;-)

Monday, 22 July 2019

Writing workshop in Nottingham.

Nottingham Writers' Club have a four hour writing workshop in September. It's not exclusively aimed at womagwriters, but the subjects covered are important for that genre – and the presenter has sold hundreds of stories to that market!

Maybe I'll see you there?

Thursday, 18 July 2019

Over to you

This month's discussion topic – does the weather influence your writing?

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

Please share success (or otherwise!) report any womag news, tips, advice you may have, make womag related comments or observations and ask questions – and answer them too if you can help.

 (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.)

Saturday, 13 July 2019

Meeting womagwriter Bea Charles

I spent a lovely day in Newcastle today, thanks to a guided tour conducted by fellow womagwriter Bea Charles.

We've known each other virtually, and as critique buddies for years, but this is the first time we've managed to meet in person.

We walked miles, saw a lot of bridges, artwork and kittiwakes. We chatted just a bit too, so we needed a few stops for refreshment ;-)

I don't know what or when, but I'm sure something from today will end up in one of my stories – and possibly in one of hers too.

Do you know your writing friends online, face to face, or both?

Do you ever put them in stories?

Sunday, 7 July 2019

MW PN guidelines

The latest pocket novel guidelines from My Weekly.
How is everyone? We're currently away in the mobile writing retreat – although I confess I'm not doing all that much writing. More of my time has been spent on the beach and visiting castles and gardens. You'll believe me if I say it's research, won't you?

Tuesday, 18 June 2019

Over to you

This month's discussion topic – When do you write seasonal stories? Have you submitted any Christmas ones yet?

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

Please share success (or otherwise!) report any womag news, tips, advice you may have, make womag related comments or observations and ask questions – and answer them too if you can help.

 (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.)

Sunday, 9 June 2019

Magazines which accept unsolicited submissions and My Weekly

I have a story in the current issue of My Weekly.  This magazine is currently only open to fiction submissions from those 'already known' to them. If you're on the list you'll get regular emails listing their current requirements. 

If you're not on the list you may still submit letters and tips (£25 is paid for each one published, except the star letter which earns £50.) 
You can also submit non-fiction and pocket novels. Success with either of these two would mean you could be added to the list if you wished.

Some magazines will consider submissions from anyone, whether or not they've been previously published. Currently these are –

Woman's World
Love Sunday (non paying)
Woman's Weekly (take all rights)
Yours (take all rights)
Ireland's Own
The Weekly News
Prima (take all rights)
The People's Friend
Spirit and Destiny (take all rights)

And now, a word from our sponsor ... My delightful romance, Escape To The Country, is currently reduced the 99p (99c) for the Kindle version. A paperback is available for £7.50 or can be borrowed from some libraries.

Sunday, 2 June 2019


I have another story in Allers magazine. This publication, available in Norway and Finland, is a sister magazine to Allas in Sweden. The stories of mine which have appeared are reprints of those previously used in Allas (allowable under their contract).

Perhaps coincidentally they've each been published after a two year interval – using the same illustration. This time I was sent a complimentary copy – that hasn't happened before.

Have you had a story published n Allers? (That you know of – they didn't notify me about mine.)

If so was it previously published in Allas? Did you receive a copy?

Have you ever submitted to them directly?

Wednesday, 29 May 2019

Guest post by Womagwriter Jane Ayres

Today's guest is Jane Ayres

Tenacity pays (eventually!)

For the past forty years, I have been a writer of books for children and teenagers – mostly about horses and ponies. I’ve been traditionally published, and also republished my out of print backlist using Amazon’s KDP, so I suppose I would be termed a hybrid author.

But I always wanted to get my stories for adults published in women’s magazines. I think far too many other writers radically underestimate the skills involved in producing work for this very particular market. It’s a skill I have struggled to master. I’ve lost count of the hundreds of rejections I’ve had over many years, and my admiration and respect for those who are successful in this field has grown and grown.

I did have a glimmer of success in 2002, when Bella magazine took a racy short story called Yes Please – but then wrote saying they thought it was too risqué for them, paid me the fee anyway, and wished me luck in placing it elsewhere. I sent it to Chat, who published it and I got paid again. I was elated. However, try as I might, I could not get any more stories published in women’s magazines. I never managed to crack the Woman’s Weekly or Fiction Feast markets and when they closed submissions to writers they hadn’t already published, I gave up. It was not to be and I had to accept that.
But The People’s Friend, another magazine I had been sending stories to on and off for nearly 20 years, still encouraged submissions from new writers and in 2018, aged 56, I felt more connected to the magazine than when I was younger. I could draw on personal experience, really writing from the heart. My partner is visually impaired, and often returns from his runs telling me about the problems he encounters in the local park, and what goes through his mind, and this gave me the inspiration for the story I sent to The People’s Friend in April 2018. In July 2018, when we were setting off for Heathrow Airport for a short break, an email came through from People’s Friend saying they had enjoyed my story but could I make a few tweaks by adding more dialogue to the first few pages? Of course I could! I wanted to leap up and down with joy, but then got anxious because I couldn’t do anything about the edits until we returned. So I quickly sent off an email explaining this, and as soon as I got back home, I immediately did the edits, and emailed these back.

August came and went. Perhaps they didn’t like the edits. Had I blown it? I was reluctant to chase, but I sent an email gently enquiring about the story. Nothing. So I phoned and was informed it was probably somewhere in the system and that it took time to go through all the stages of the editorial process. I just had to be patient. Then it was November, and December.

“They don’t want it,” my partner said. “Just forget it.”
But I couldn’t. I had got too close to give up. I rang the week before Christmas and to my surprise, Shirley Blair herself answered. She was lovely, and it turned out they had never received my email with the amends! For some reason, my emails weren’t getting through, so I re-sent a hard copy, which Shirley kindly acknowledged, and then I had to be patient again. Finally, in January 2019, the story was accepted, and soon after, the paperwork arrived, and I was paid. Staying on Track (renamed Back on Track) was scheduled to appear at the end of May 2019. I am so glad I was tenacious!

I’d had another little success in December 2018. A Christmas story I really believed in had been rejected by all the womags the previous year, and I thought it might work well for Your Cat, so in March 2018, I’d rewritten, sent it off and was delighted that it was accepted in September 2019, with a request to cut it from 2600 to 1500 words, which I happily did, and which improved it, and it appeared in their December issue with a beautiful illustration. Again, I received payment before publication, which was a lovely surprise.

My first port of call if I want to find out about submission guidelines is always the Womagblog, which has been invaluable. Without it, I would never have known about That’s Life Fast Fiction in Australia, never sent off a thriller/revenge story to them, (which had been rejected by UK womags) and never have been published in their 2019 Summer Special. What a buzz that gave me! Spurred on by this, I have since sent a further 11 stories to FF, but none have yet hit the mark, and recently sent off stories for the first time to Ireland’s Own.

I’ve checked my records notebook, and since March 2018, I have sent off a total of 38 stories, of which 3 were accepted, and the rest either rejected, or not yet heard from. Since People’s Friend took my story, I have submitted a further 6 stories to them, all of which have been rejected. I have sent 7 to Allas – 2 were rejected, the rest I haven’t yet heard about.

The only way to combat the feeling of disappointment at rejection is to keep writing and keep sending work out. I try to make sure that the same day a story is rejected, I revisit it, see if I can edit to make improvements, and then send it off to another magazine. Luckily, I enjoy the editing process, and a story undergoes many edits before I am ready to send it out into the world to find a home.

Most of the success I have had getting published has been with
magazines I enjoy reading myself. I have never lost the thrill of seeing my work in print, and am sure I never will. And that’s what keeps me trying. Tenacity is paying off – albeit slowly!

You can find all Jane's books here. The royalties from Matty Horse and Pony Adventures got to Redwings Horse Sanctuary and for Coming Home they go to Cats Protection. 

Jane will supply pdf copies of her books in exchange for honest reviews.

Friday, 24 May 2019

Guest post by Womagwriter Bea Charles

Today's guest is Bea Charles who is kindly sharing details of magazines which accept poetry.

There are not many free submission opportunities for poets in the magazine market and few pay well, if at all. But if you do write poetry and want to see your name in print, and perhaps receive a modest reward, these are the ones I am aware of.

The People’s Friend
By far the largest market for poetry. As well as publishing poems in both the weekly and three-weekly specials, the Friend also use poetry in their Annual and in their Fireside Book.
Payment is £15 per poem, although poems on their ‘Between Friends’ letters page are rewarded with a tea caddy.
Lucy Crichton is the Poetry Editor and she has written this useful blog post on what the Friend is looking for.

Up to one poem per issue on their Meeting Place letters page, plus some poems used in the Annual. These are usually rhyming poems, sometimes but not exclusively humorous, 8-16 lines. Payment is a £10 high street shopping voucher.

Woman’s Weekly
Although they don’t usually publish poetry, Woman’s Weekly in association with the Folio Society currently has a poetry competition. To enter you will need an original coupon from either the weekly magazine dated 28th May or the July issue of Woman’s Weekly Fiction Special. The theme is ‘nature’. The competition is only open to anyone who hasn’t previously had a poem published in print. The three winning entries will be published in Woman’s Weekly and will receive a selection of poetry books.

Requires a more literary style, including themed editions and competitions. Payment is £25 per poem published. Their requirements are here

The Oldie
Runs a free monthly poetry writing competition. Each poem published (usually 4) receives £25 with one winner receiving a bonus prize of Chambers Dictionary of Modern Quotations. You need to read the current month’s magazine for details of the next month’s theme.

Does anyone know of any more magazines offering free submission / competition opportunities for poets?