Monday, 22 April 2019

Over to you

Here's a random photo for use as a story prompt. (If anyone writes, or even better sells, a story inspired by one of my photos, please let me know.)

This month's discussion topic – What have you been up to writing wise recently? 

One thing I've done is to introduce a new feature on my other blog – the Friday Freebie. Each time it runs there's a chance to win a paperback, just by leaving a comment (one of mine is currently featured). There will also often be links to free ebooks. As well as offering free reads, this is an opportunity for writing friends to promote their books.

Talking of which No Family Secrets is on special offer at 99p/99c.
It includes 25 family related feel good stories, most of which have been previously published in womags around the world.

Please comment on the discussion topic, 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.

Without your input, via comments on here, by sending me news, or offering appropriate guests posts, this blog won't continue.

Thursday, 11 April 2019

My Weekly's new system.

There's a new email address for subbing fiction to My Weekly. If you're one of those who are permitted to send work you should have been notified of this – contact the fiction editor on the old address if not. (I'm not putting it here because that will result in subs and queries from those not on the list and defeat the purpose of this change.)

The idea is that submissions will be acknowledged automatically, saving Karen time. Unfortunately there's a technical glitch with that aspect at the moment. Hopefully it'll be sorted soon. The stories are still getting through though and you should hear back in the usual way.

Update – I've been told the same issue currently applies to subs to The Weekly News too. 

Tuesday, 9 April 2019

Price promotion

A new collection containing 25 of my family themed short stories will be available soon. I've already published three and these will each be on price promotion for a few days.

The first to go is Keep It In The Family, which is currently on sale for 99p/99c. 

One result of the shrinking womag market is that I have more time to spend on putting these collections together – and for working on novels. How's that for looking on the bright side?

Tuesday, 19 March 2019

Over to you

This month's discussion topic – Which part of the world are you from? Does that have any impact on your womag writing?

Here's another 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.)

Monday, 18 March 2019

Changes at that's life!

A while back I heard there were to be changes at that's life! in Australia, but I've only just had it officially confirmed by fiction editor Judie Durrant.

No stories can now be considered from writers new to the that's life series of magazines.

The quartely Fast Fiction has been shelved, at least temporarily. The new Mega Monthly will carry some fiction, up to a max length of 1500 words. The weekly will continue as before with very short fiction 550-600 words.

There are no changes to the contract.

Thursday, 14 March 2019

Guest post by womag fiction collector Jay Mackie

My Fiction Collection by Jay Mackie

Oh how I’d love to turn the clock back to the ‘golden age’ of fiction in British women’s weeklies! For me, this would be the late 80s to late 90s.

My name is Jay Mackie, I am 43 and I live in Nottingham where I am a composer and private music teacher. I have collected magazine fiction (and magazines) on and off since 1988, after looking forward to the Mini Mystery story in my mum’s copy of Bella each week. It’d be the first page I’d turn to. Looking back now and rereading my collection of these spanning some ten years since Bella’s 1987 launch date, these stories had it all; whodunnits, voodoo, unsettled ghosts, UFOs, an encounter with Old Nick himself and much more. These tales displayed varying literary styles and mystery content, but were always constructed with such skilful craft and elegance.

I even had a go at writing my own at the tender age of 14 and sending it to the then fiction editor, Linda O’ Byrne. I received a lovely reply from her stating her enjoyment on reading my tale, but she felt that the characters didn’t have enough ‘bite’ for her. Not bad for my first (and last!) ever story! I accepted this constructive criticism and her complimentary copies of a dozen older Mini Mysteries to add to my increasing collection.

My reason for collecting these was that someone’s careful literary toil and expert storytelling seemed too good to resign to the bin once finished. Plus, it was nice to enjoy again and compare to other stories. Over the years I have added other fiction pages to my collection too from weeklies such as Best, Take a Break and Chat mainly. The early days of Chat’s ‘4 Minute Fiction’ page from the early 90s was nice to compare with Bella, as quite a lot of the stories shared supernatural or similarly off the wall subject matter – and a few of the same writers.
Collecting vintage magazines for me is a lovely hobby if you’re nuts on nostalgia like me. Magazines provide a truly authentic and direct link to the past; the then current celeb news, advertising, vintage fashion and of course the abundance of weekly fiction. In Best’s early days some issues treated us to no less than three stories a week. Sadly as we’re all aware the world has moved on and gradually many weeklies have now ditched their fiction in favour of even MORE banal celebrity sensationalism in my view. The old content is something to be praised for its variety and enjoyed with fondness for the era.

As Japanese decluttering guru Marie Kondo says, only keep something if it ‘sparks joy’. That’s precisely what vintage magazines and their fiction pages do for me. That’s my excuse and I’m sticking to it!

I’d sincerely love to hear from anyone out there who either collects magazine fiction, or magazines in general. You may well have copies of stories which would complete my collection, and vice versa to swap or just chat about. You may have even written mysteries for Bella and the like back in the ‘golden’ days, do leave a comment or drop me an email ( – it’d be super to hear from you!

Monday, 11 March 2019

Womag writing podcast

I was interviewed for a Write Club podcast . They're kind of a recorded writing group, with different features including a discussion on their work, word of the week and guest interviews.

My interview, which is about writing for the womag market, starts at 26 minutes in. It's followed by a group discussion on the subject.

The books I mention can all be found here.

Wednesday, 6 March 2019

Trouble in Womagland

Don't panic – there isn't a new problem. 'Trouble in Womagland' is the title of my short news piece, about recent rights issues, in Writing Magazine.

My thanks to Julie Day, Carrie Hewlett and S. Bee who allowed me to quote them as saying that due to Spirit & Destiny now taking all rights, they will no longer write for this publication. Unfortunately due to this piece being a very late addition to the magazine and needing to be cut to fit, it now reads as though they won't be submitting to TABFF. As no change to the contract terms of TABFF has been confirmed, these authors have not made such a decision. Let's hope they don't have to!

Thank you to Kathy for the photo.

Tuesday, 5 March 2019

Slight change at My Weekly

If you're on the list of writers who may submit to My Weekly then you should have already recieved their latest guidelines, but just in case you missed it, there is a slight change. Due to the lack of time and resources, authors will no longer recieve rejections with feedback. Instead, as with The Weekly News, if we've not heard back in three months we are to assume the story hasn't been accepted and we're free to submit it elsewhere.

Those not 'on the list' can't submit short stories to My Weekly – but you can try a pocket novel, or non-fiction, and an acceptance for either of those would then allow you to send in short stories.

Friday, 1 March 2019

Alex has answered

On my other blog I offered the opportunity to ask Alex Gazzola for advice on breaking into writing non fiction for magazines. His answers have now been posted, plus the winner of the book has been announced.

If there's enough interest Alex might be persuaded to visit this blog with advice specifically on writing non-fiction for womags – would you find that useful?

Thursday, 28 February 2019

Womag fiction competitions – a few words of warning

You've probably gathered that I'm a fan of woman's magazine fiction. You may also be aware that I'm very keen on writing competitions (my other blog has regular links to all kinds of free to enter writing competitions). You'd think then that I'd be in favour of writing competitions run by woman's magazines, offering prizes and publication. In theory I am, but I do urge you to read all the terms and conditions very carefully – including those you have to go online to discover.

Many such competitions require you to give up all rights (search copyright on this blog if you're unsure what that is or why it might be a bad idea). Now you might be thinking that's fine, if you get published and win a prize then you're prepared to give up the rights in that story – but in some cases this condition applies to all entries. Just by submitting it you will have given the publishers the right to do whatever they like with that story, and deprived yourself of the right to ever use it again yourself. 

What are the rights to your story worth to you? I suggest they are at least as valuable as the fee you'd earn if the story was published in another magazine. Assume it's one of the lower payers – £40 – and ask yourself if the competition really justifies that as an entry fee. If not, perhaps you'd be better off submitting it directly to another publication, or entering a competition which is genuinely free.

Tuesday, 26 February 2019

The truth about rejection

If you send out stories to magazines you'll almost certainly get some rejections. You won't like them, nobody does, but you can get used to them and accept them as simply part of the process, rather than a series of crushing blows. If it's any consolation although I've had hundreds of stories published I too get some rejections.

This is what a rejection means –

That particular story wasn't right for that particular magazine at the time you submitted it.

What a rejection doesn't mean –

You are a rubbish writer.

The story is rubbish.

You won't ever be accepted by that magazine.

I'm not saying you're a great writer, or that your story was good; unless I've read it I can't possibly tell. I'm just pointing out that a standard rejection letter means only that the particular story wasn't right for that particular magazine at the time you submitted it.

Here is some information on rejections from The People's Friend. Although some things will apply to all markets, remember that different magazines have different requirements. What doesn't suit one might be just right for another.

Stories may be rejected because they're the wrong length for the publication, or the wrong style/genre/subject. They may be seasonal and have arrived too late. Perhaps the magazine already have enough stories of that length, or genre, or even enough of all kinds of story for now. Maybe they've recently accepted something similar in style, or with a theme or location in common.

If you receive a personal rejection, or any feedback on your work, especially if there's anything positive in it, or an invitation to submit further work, then you should be encouraged. Editors are far too busy to do this for everyone, so will only spend the time if your work shows real promise.

Have you received any rejections lately? What reasons have you been given for a piece being rejected? Any tips for geting over the sting of rejection?

Wednesday, 20 February 2019

Over to you

This month's discussion topic – Do you write fillers? They can be a great way to boost your confidence and bank balance when short story sales aren't as high as we'd like. (Remember they usually have to be exclusive to the magazine, and that the rights they take may not be the same as for fiction. As always, do check the requirements and ensure you comply and are happy with them.)

Here's another 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, 17 February 2019

Copyright poll results

A short while ago I set up a poll to ask if writers were happy to give all rights on their work. 70 people expressed an opinion (2 on the blog post, 68 on the Facebook poll). Of those 70, excactly 100% said they'd like to keep at least some rights.

What conclusions can we draw from that?

Monday, 11 February 2019

Non-fiction in women's magazines

Many of my womag writing friends have said that due to the shrinking market and/or changes to contracts, they're considering other types of writing. That sounds very sensible to me.

One possible option is to write non-fiction for the same magazines you submit fiction to. A quick glance through any magazine will show more pages devoted to non-fiction than to fiction – and every single word had to be written by somebody.

If you'd like to break into writing non-fiction for magazines, but don't know where to start, then getting personal advice from an expert in this area will be useful. Thanks to the generosity of Alex Gazzola, you can do exactly that on my other blog.  (Questions needn't be womag specific.)

One of the people who ask a question on that blog will be awarded their choice of either Alex Gazzola's book 50 Mistakes Beginner Writers Make or 50 More Mistakes Beginner Writers Make, which he'll post to them.

Click here to take part.

Are you thinking of writing non-fiction, or is it something you already do?