Monday, 22 May 2017

Guest post by womagwriter Shane Telford

Today's guest is Shane Telford.

Imagine my excitement when I accidentally discovered a new market for short stories while aimlessly flicking through my Readly app the other night.

Woman’s Way is a weekly publication in Ireland, aimed at women thirty and beyond. I’ve noticed it on shelves before but it was never really on my radar. Once my finger slipped and I’d downloaded the most recent issue onto my phone I decided to go for a bit of a snoop, to pass the time if nothing else. And there it was on the content’s page, ‘Reader’s Fiction’.

I skipped to page forty-one, eager for a read and found a rather cute story about dating in your fifties, the kind of story I’ve read and written in the past. Then I investigated further and discovered that their fondness for a short story was only recent; it had become a regular feature two weeks prior.

So far, so good. I decided to get in contact with the editor and enquire about their fiction guidelines, asking about word count, theme and pay rate.

The editor replied rather promptly, another plus I thought, and sent me a detailed list of guidelines. But before I could begin plotting my first submission to the magazine, I saw a sentence that made my heart sink. ‘We are not currently in a position to pay.’

And just like that, any excitement I had about this new market dissipated until all I was left with was anger and disappointment. I flicked through the pages again and noticed that the magazine were willing to pay for reader’s letters, but when it came to eight hundred words of fiction their purse-strings were tightly pulled and knotted.

That got me thinking: Why is our writing so often treated as second-class, unworthy of payment? In an ever-shrinking market, where it’s becoming harder and harder to sell a story, why do some publications think it’s okay to ask us to just give away our work and be content with a pat on the back?

I suppose the answer is because some people will sell a story and be completely okay with the thrill of publication as the only payment. But that doesn’t help those of us who use our hard-earned writing money to pay the bills. If anything it’s a hindrance.

So, what is the answer? I wish I knew that for certain. I just know that I could never support a publication that takes my work for granted, considers my writing just a hobby, and expects me to fill their pages free of charge. Instead I’ll spend my time and money on those magazines that offer more than just an opportunity to see my name in print. The Womag market isn’t at its healthiest but I think it’s important for us all to appreciate that there are still magazines out there willing to give our work the respect it deserves and pay us what we’re owed. They are the magazines we should be supporting, in whichever way we can, whether it be by subscribing every month or submitting our best work.

Saturday, 20 May 2017

Patsy's periodic prompt

Here's a picture you might like to use as a story prompt - if you use it and sell the story, please do let me know!

I'm rather proud of this photo, so this is really just an excuse to show it off to those who missed it on Twitter.  Generally when something like this happens under my nose, I'm so busy watching, I forget to use the camera.

Do you think you might write about seals? Or have you done so already? (I have in my novel Firestarter.)

Any idea what type of fish that is?

Tuesday, 16 May 2017

Happy Birthday, Alfie!

Alfie Dog Fiction is five years old today!

I know it's a cliché to say so, but it really doesn't seem that long since the first of my stories was published there. It must be though, as I was Alfie Dog's very first author.

As part of the celebrations, there will be special features, reduced price stories and even free books. Keep checking the website and social media, so you don't miss out.

(Picture is Alfie himself, with Rosemary J Kind - Alfie Dog Fiction's editor.)

Saturday, 13 May 2017

Any questions?

I'm spring cleaning the blog and have removed some sections which weren't being used, or didn't seem helpful. One of these was the questions page. Lately people have been posting questions about a particular magazine as comments on posts which feature its guidelines. This seems to work well, so please keep doing that.

If you have a question which isn't specific to a particular magazine, please either ask here or on my latest post (not guest posts please unless the question is for the guest poster, or specific to their post.)

Please post all questions on the blog - that way I will see them. If you email or ask via Facebook there's a chance I'll miss them, plus it's quicker and easier for me to reply here, and the information will then be available to more people.

Anyone is welcome to reply to any questions or comments - I don't know all the answers, but between us, we probably do!

Thursday, 4 May 2017

People's Friend Pocket Novels - latest guidelines.

I posted the My Weekly pocket novel guidelines yesterday.

For People's Friend, the word count is shorter - and of course there are style differences too.

I'm not absolutely sure about the pay rate, but believe they're similar for both.

Wednesday, 3 May 2017

My Weekly Pocket Novels - new guidelines

Here are the latest guidelines for My Weekly pocket novels.

Unlike with the short stories, you don't need to have been previously published by My Weekly to submit a pocket novel.

If a pocket novel is accepted, the author will then be able to submit short stories to My Weekly.


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.