Tuesday, 22 September 2020

Six free to enter writing competitions.

As promised, here are some free to enter writing competitions. Half a dozen – to make up for the lack over the last couple of weeks.

Thanks to my talented writing friend Sheila Crosby for providing the links to the following two competitions. This is us looking windswept and interesting, and pretending Lee-on-the-Solent was as warm as Sheila's home in the Canaries. Do visit her blog if you fancy a virtual tour of La Palma. 

This one from Curtis Brown is for unpublished female novelists in the UK or Ireland. The prize is £5,000 plus representation by the agency.

This one from Penguin has all the above restrictions, plus entrants must be under 30. A publishing deal is on offer for the winner, and there's a 'writing camp' for runners up.

Here's a monologue competition, from Soundwork. The prize is to have your work professionally recorded and made available on the site. (Feel free to scroll down the page a little and see who made the shortlist of their last short story competition!)

This competition is for work involving 'new media' which means although you may submit a story, poem, piece of non-fiction etc, you can't just send the text. You need to include stuff which makes the most of digital media. There's £1,000 on offer.

If you're an unpublished (or self published) novelist who has a story with murder or a serious heart at the centre, you could try this competition, which has a $10,000 advance as the prize. Entrants may be of any nationality.

This short story competition, from the Writers' and Artists' yearbook, offers a place on an Arvon course as its prize.

Is that enough competitions for now, or do you want more?

Friday, 18 September 2020

Allas, Allers and Hemmets

Womag news

I've been asked about the style of stories accepted by Allas magazine, and as I have a story in the current issue, now seems a good time to write the post.

The magazine is weekly and usually contains three stories, sometimes more. As it's published in Swedish, and I can't read that, I can only tell you about the ones I've written. My story in this issue is a spooky one. I've sold them quite a few not very scary ghost, or sixth sense stories, some revenge ones, a couple of twist ending tales and even one on local politics! Most though have been relationship based (romances and family stories). 

The maximum length I've had accepted is 1,500 words. Some have been a bit shorter. They'll consider previously published stories. I do rewrite these for the Scandinavian market, taking the culture into account as much as I can, changing place and character names and considering the location and climate. Sometimes I write stories just for them. I submit in English.

If your story is accepted, you'll be asked to sign a contract, which allows them to reuse the story in Allers and Hemmets. You'll need to invoice for each story and will be paid, for the first use only, by bank transfer. You won't be notified about reprints, but each time your story is used, you'll be sent a copy of the appropriate magazine.

Submissions should be sent to lotta.gustavsson (at) allas.se It's not usual to get a rejection if your story isn't going to be used. If the story is accepted you'll generally hear back within a few weeks, but it can be longer. One of mine was accepted after three months, so I suggest leaving it a little longer before assuming a story won't be used.

If you've subbed to this market, please do share your experiences, to help build up a more complete picture of what's wanted, response times etc.

Wish me luck – I'm going to attempt to recreate the dish on the cover for our tea tonight. I'll have to guess most of the ingredients. I'm not entirely sure whether having a good imagination is going to help with that!

Competition news

I'll be doing a post with links to free to enter writing competitions soon. If you know of any, please let me know (in the comments, by email or on Twitter.)




Monday, 14 September 2020

Over To You



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.


I'd love to hear your competition news.

Have you entered any writing comps? Had any luck? Heard about interesting contests? Got any tips to pass on? (Although I only feature free to enter competitions in my posts it's fine to share news about other competitions too.)

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

My news is that I had a story in last week's Hemmets magazine, I'll have one in the 26th September issue ofMy Weekly, and two in the next People's Friend Special.

I also have a story up on Longshot Island. Submissions are open for this market, which offers a small fee. Previously published work will be considered – provided the author has retained copyright.

My short story collection Coffee & Cake won't be released until December 1st, but as an experiment, it's available to 'pre order'.


Friday, 4 September 2020

Publishing with Unbound

Today's guest is Theresa Davis, who has kindly agree to share her experience of trying to get published with Unbound.

Unbound is a publisher like no other, they believe in giving the reader a choice in what they publish. The method that they use to achieve this is crowdfunding. Crowdfunding is a method of raising the finances for a project by asking people to pay a donation. In the case of Unbound this is in the form of a pre order for a first edition of the book.

As a writer in a niche market Unbound is an attractive publisher as their funded model can make them open to books that more traditional publishers might not be willing to take on commercial grounds. Unbound's projects can take the range from traditional thrillers to a coffee table book featuring comments and analysis of the rear ends of video game characters.

How does one go about getting published with Unbound? There are a couple of methods to pitch an idea to them.

Firstly they hold regular sessions on social media where they ask people to submit ideas for appraisal. The second is to submit a pitch directly on their website. In both cases these pitches need to be short and precise, under 500 words, great practice in tight and structured pitches.

If your pitch is successful then you will be given a meeting with one of the commissioning editors. Due to the Covid crisis this in my case was handled online. This isn't a formal interview or anything it's an introduction to allow you and the editor to get to know each other. They will be your champion within Unbound and able to help guide you through the process.

Next comes the business end of the process, while your editor is off calculating the print costs, editing requirements, or in my example the need for a legal read through for possibility of libel, you will be given a task to prepare the blurb and one line summary, and your bio ready for the web site. These can be edited by Unbound with your permission to fit with the house style or for improved marketing effectiveness. I'm currently on about the 3rd revision of text on my project.

At the end of this you will receive along with the breakdown of all the costs to produce your book, the publishing agreement.

The production cost which will vary considerably depending on the binding, size and if there are illustrations. This is the amount you will have to raise through funding, all this is set out in the agreement. If you are worried, in the event of the project not reaching its target, all rights to the work revert to you on the ending of the contract.

Once the agreement has been signed, then it's time to move on to the next phase the preparation of the site page ready for the fund-raising campaign. A provisional cover will be designed, I was given a choice of 9 different options to choose from, three of these, including the one I selected, are shown.

To offer a bit of incentive to people pledging for the book there may be other items available like mugs, tote bags, posters in addition to digital, signed and plain copies of the books. There are other perks which are offered , such as 
book club visits and special mentions in the front of the book. All pledges receive their name listed in the back of the book.

In preparation for launch day you will be introduced to the Crowdfunding Campaigns Executive who will be your guide to making the most out of online funding and there to help with any issues and requests you may have. She will give you a pack with a set of useful templates for emails and social media, you will be asked to attend a workshop to help you get the most out of the funding process. 

Then comes the fun part, starting to raise the funds required for your campaign. Ideally you should start a few days before to tease the upcoming campaign, with social media posts. Then on the big launch day shout as loud and as wide as you can. It can be a long process to get funding, but don't be discouraged, you may be given targets to meet but these are not pass of fail points, try to keep up interest in the campaign with regular updates and posts on the site itself. Keep an eye out for campaigns and promotion codes being given out by Unbound and use these to boost sales around holidays and events, you may be given your own personal codes at times to help you boost sales. 

This is as far as I have gotten in the publishing process with Unbound as my own project, a memoir Falling Upwards is currently in the funding process on Unbound. Why not check it out and make a pledge and maybe you can join me one day and become a member of the unbound family. 

To learn more about Theresa, follow her on Twitter, read the 'project synopsis' of her memoir, or pledge to support her project and be one of the first to read Falling Upwards.

Wednesday, 2 September 2020

September stuff


Insecure Writer's Support Group

It's the first Wednesday of the month, so time for another Insecure Writer's Support Group post. If you're an insecure writer you might like to join up here. I'd be very surprised to learn that anyone reading this blog has never felt insecure over their writing. Please let me know if you haven't – I like to be surprised.

This month's optional IWSG question is – If you could choose one author, living or dead, to be your beta partner, who would it be and why?

I'm opting for Alexander McCall Smith. I love his writing, he's very prolific and successful, and he seems like a lovely man, so why wouldn't I want his advice? Getting to read his books at an early stage and gaining some insight into how he perfects them would be fantastic too.

There's another reason – I've been told that my writing is slightly similar to his. Mostly I think that's because our work is easy to read. Recently, when I mentioned this to writer friend Sheila Crosby, she said there's also 'a certain niceness' in the books of us both. It would be wonderful to be involved in a partnership which added to the niceness in the world.

Who, if anyone, do you think you write like?

For those who've read any of my work, do you think there's any similarity between my writing and that of Alexander McCall Smith – or any other author?

Free entry competition news

If you missed it, do have a look at Jane Bettany's guest post, explaining what happened to her after she entered one of the free competitions I blog about.

The Query Letter are running a book blurb competition, with a $500 prize. They don't want you to write the whole book, just a 100 word blurb.

Here's a limerick competition, with book tokens as the prize. I do like a good limerick, and everyone loves a book token, don't they?

Cash makes a good prize too, and that's what's on offer for the Commonwealth short story prize – £5,000!

My news

The first three chapters of my latest novel, a romance I've called Acting Like A Killer, have been sent off to a couple of publishers – and after months and months at home, I'll soon be away on a trip in the mobile writing retreat!

Thursday, 27 August 2020

Guest post by womagwriter and novelist, Jane Bettany

Today's guest is Jane Bettany.

In January 2019, after several years writing short stories for the womag markets, I decided it was time to start the crime novel I’d always dreamed of completing. In this short post, I explain what happened next, and reveal how being a subscriber to Patsy Collins’ blog helped turn my dream into a reality.

Making a start

I began my novel by developing a cast of characters and getting to grips with their backstories. Next, I focused on the plot, which grew from the following premise:

When DI Isabel Blood is called to investigate the discovery of a body on a local housing estate, she realises the crime scene is the property she grew up in as a child. The forensic team estimate the body has been in the ground for up to forty years – coinciding with the time Isabel’s family lived in the house. . . and Isabel’s father vanished without a trace when she was fourteen years old.  

My aim was to create a novel that involved the unravelling of a family mystery, as well as the solving of a crime. I planned the first five chapters carefully, and the rest developed organically once I started writing.

I made my protagonist, DI Isabel Blood, the same age as me (56 at the time of writing the book). However, unlike me, Isabel has three children, goes running regularly, and has spent the whole of her career in the police force.

What happened next…

By July 2019, as I was nearing the end of the first draft, I received an email from Patsy Collins, with one of her
regular blog updates. In this particular post, Patsy shared information about a novel writing competition from Gransnet and HQ. It was for women writers over the age of 40 who had not previously had a novel published, and the novel’s main character also had to be a woman over 40. As Isabel and I easily met the age criteria, and it was free as are all the competitions Patsy features, I thought I’d give it a whirl.

Entrants were asked to submit the first 20,000 words and a synopsis by 30 September 2019, and anyone longlisted would be expected to send in the full manuscript. This deadline gave me the impetus I needed to finish the first draft and move on to the editing process (which I really enjoyed). I submitted my novel a few days before the competition closing date.

To my delight, I received an email a few weeks later asking me to send the full manuscript. Needless to say, when I eventually received the phone call to tell me my novel had been chosen as the winner, I was (quite literally) jumping for joy.

I’m immensely grateful to Patsy. I always enjoy reading her blog and, if I hadn’t subscribed to her posts, I wouldn’t have known about the Gransnet HQ competition.

My novel, In Cold Blood, will be published by HQ Digital (part of Harper Collins) as an eBook today and released as a paperback on 12 November.

Congratulations on your publication, Jane – and thank you so much for letting me know I played a small part in helping to make it happen. I'll be continuing to post links to more free to enter writing competitions, so hopefully more of my blog readers will be able to share their own good news in the future.

Tuesday, 25 August 2020

News

Womag News


Lynn Ely is leaving as fiction editor of South African magazine YOU, at the end of this month.  I wish her well for the future, as I'm sure does everyone who has submitted to this market.

Lynn has built up a good stock of stories and scheduled them until the New Year. If yours are among them, you will have been contacted by now. Submissions are temporarily closed, but will reopen once the current stock of stories have been published.

If you submit to The People's Friend, you might want to take a look at Fiction editor Lucy Crichton's blog post, where she answers questions writers have been asking.

From the last monthly 'over to you' post – Free to enter writing competitions

Erewash Writers have a three free short story and poetry competitions running, with small cash prizes.

The latest Insecure Writer's Support Group anthology contest is open for submissions until 2nd September. This time they're looking for science fiction stories of 4,500 to 6,000 words.

If you'd like to join the Insecure Writer's Support Group, you can do that here. It's free and offers support to insecure writers in various ways, including a monthly blog hop, Facebook group, competitions and website. You can join in as much or as little as you wish.

Sunday, 23 August 2020

Over To You

Do you have any womag news?

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


Do you know which author used this desk? 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.


I'd love to hear your competition news.

Have you entered any writing comps? Had any luck? Heard about interesting contests? Got any tips to pass on? (Although I only feature free to enter competitions in my posts it's fine to share news about other competitions too.)

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


Thursday, 20 August 2020

Guest post by Womagwriter Charlotte Sabin.

Today's guest is Charlotte Sabin, talking about her very first womag sale.

I’ve been writing stories since high school and after I enjoyed a home study course in creative writing I decided to improve on my craft and go to university to study a degree in the creative writing and English literature but due to my mum becoming terminally ill I returned home early before completing my course so transferred my studies to distance learning and then years later achieved enough points to gain a higher education diploma which covered all aspects of creative writing and English literature. I knew I wanted to become a writer but having a family took priority so over the years I self published many children’s books with my fiancé, Andy Wegg, using kdp self publishing platform on Amazon but I still had this burning desire to write short stories for women magazines.

I had submitted and failed with many attempts over the years but it was only recently I thought 'I’m going to give it one more shot', so I wrote a handful of stories and sent them off to several magazines. I’ve had a few rejections so far, actually a lot, but I now know you should never give up on your dreams.

I have had my first success and had my ghost story – The Pink Ball published in this months edition (August) of Yours Fiction and another acceptance from Yours for another ghost story to be published in their October edition.
I sent the story to them via email, following their guidelines back in April and they sent me an email of acceptance in June with a copy of a contract attached and said the date of publication and how much I would be paid.

I was doing cartwheels around my living room and I am looking forward to going out to celebrate with Andy somewhere very special.

Seeing it on the shelf in Tesco was just surreal and seeing it in the magazine was so amazing and I couldn’t stop smiling – it looks fantastic and I can’t wait to see my next story in print and how it will look.

The advice I can give to writers is that never, ever give up and keep writing and keep sending your stories out as one day you could see your name in print and you can feel very proud of yourself! And I will mention use the support of those around you, especially family and loved ones as they are your readers and your proof readers and really listen to their opinions as I really couldn’t have achieved what I have set out to do without their help and their support.

Congratulations on your first sales, Charlotte. I'm sure there will be more, especially if you follow your own excellent advice to keep writing and submitting.

You can find Charlotte's children's books here.

Monday, 17 August 2020

A little help

Womag news

I've had an email from Alan Barker. He says, "I’ve just been corresponding with Sean Nolan, editor of Ireland’s Own, asking about their maximum word count for short stories. He said that 2,000 is the standard length and 2,300 the maximum. Hope this helps."

It does, thank you, Alan. I knew 2,000 was the standard length, but hadn't realised it was OK to exceed it by so much.

There don't seem to be any official guidelines available online, but submissions are mentioned on the 'contact us' page of their website.


Womag / free entry writing competition

Thanks to Chris Sutton for the photo from Best magazine, with details of their latest competition. As she says, the T&Cs are very small. If you're reading this on a computer you should be able to click on the image and open a bigger version (please let me know whether or that works for different kinds of devices). It might be better to buy yourself a copy though – and it will definitely be better for the magazine, and show them the benefit of running these competitions, if sales increase.
Reading a few current issue of any magazine you hope to be published in is always a good idea. It helps you understand what they're looking for and learn about their readership. It also helps ensure the magazine stays in business long enough to accept your submissions.

Wednesday, 12 August 2020

Going up?

Womag News

I'm told the winning short story from Best Magazine's competition is in the current issue. Congratulations to the winner – I don't know who it is, as I've not yet seen a copy. Hopefully there will be a good response from readers, proving to the publishers that people enjoy reading short fiction in their weekly magazine. It appears the magazine may run more short story competitions in the future.

Make sure your ALCS details are up to date, just in case you qualify for a September payment. I'm not sure how they determine who is, but I got one once, so presumably other womag writers might also get lucky.

Free to enter writing competitions

Mountaineering Scotland are running two competitions, one prose (up to 2,000 words) and one poetry (up to 200 words). Entries are to be about mountains or mountaineering. UK residents only. £200 first prize in each category.

I've climbed mountains. Small ones, with paths you can walk along – not the kind of places you need ropes and ice picks. The pictures are from Ben Wyvis, taken a couple of years ago.



If you're based in Scotland, over 40, and an emerging writer, you might like to apply for Scottish Book Trust's bursary which offers lots of help and support, a retreat and £2,000.

The Perito Prize is open to writers around the world. £500 is on offer to the writer of the winning short story, on the theme of accessibility and inclusion. The maximum word count is 2,000.




My news

My latest novel, a romantic crime story, is now in the final stages. I've even done the dreaded synopsis!

If you sign up for my newsletter you'll get a free short story – as well as occasional writing related news, when there's something exciting to report.

Friday, 7 August 2020

Woman's Way guidelines

Here are the latest guidelines for Woman's Way. This Irish publication don't pay for the stories they publish. Personally I don't think it's fair that readers pay for the magazine, yet none of that money reaches the writers. I'm including the guidelines here because my aim is to provide as much information for writers as possible, and allow them to decide what they want to do.

Woman’s Way Fiction submission guidelines
·         We only accept stories via email and we cannot accept stories by post
·         Stories must be previously unpublished. 
·         We will not accept poetry, scripts or an opinion piece
·         Stories will not be considered if they are offensive to gender, sexuality, religion or race.
·         We will not consider stories that contain unnecessary or graphic violence or language
·         We will not accept serialized stories – the story must stand on its own
·         Word count: One page stories of a maximum of 800 words
·         All stories must be in English
·         Stories may edited to Woman’s Way’s house style
·         Woman’s Way will not enter into any discussion on stories that are not chosen for publication

By sending Woman’s Way a story you are agreeing that:
•              You are the original creator of the work submitted   
•              You are the copyright holder of the work

We currently have stories as far as January 2021.

I've added more to the womag information on my website, do let me know if you have suggestions for improvement, or if you know of other publications which could be included.

Wednesday, 5 August 2020

Combine

Wednesday word of the week

To combine is to join together or unite for a common purpose, to coalesce into one substance or cause this to happen, a big old machine for gathering grain, or co-operation.

Slightly Spooky Stories II combines 24 of my stories in one book (as do I and III !)

Another meaning is to possess qualities which are usually distinct, for example writing combines imagination with discipline.

I'm combining my other blog with this one, and all future posts for both will appear here. I'm not sure precisely how the combination will work out – it's very much a work in progress. Please let me know what you think, and if you have suggestions for improvement.


Insecure Writer's Support Group

For a time last week, I was a very insecure writer. I was wrongly accused of copyright infringement. At first I was deeply distressed, fearing I'd get into all kinds of trouble and, even worse, people might think me capable of deliberately stealing another person's work. Thankfully my on-line friends, many of them writers, were extremely supportive. They offered help and reassured me.

It makes so much difference to know others are on our side, can sympathise with our problems and possibly even help. That's why Alex set up the Insecure Writer's Support Group, and it does a great job. You can join here.

Free to enter writing competitions

Under the Hood are looking for short stories about facing down monsters. The prize is publication and $100.

The Rebecca Swift Foundation is offering £1,000, support and coaching for the winner of The Women's Poetry prize.

Questions
What qualities do you combine? Are you ever insecure about anything to do with your writing? Do you enter writing competitions?

Womag stuff

I'm (very slowly) creating a database of guidelines posts and official links for all the womags on my website. Does it look as though it might be useful?

Monday, 3 August 2020

My Weekly guidelines

Here are the latest My Weekly pocket novel guidelines. Unlike with the weekly magazine, submissions are accepted from all writers.

New guidelines for short stories have also been released, which means if you've not heard back about anything sent in June or July, it hasn't been accepted. My Weekly don't accept unsolicited fiction submissions. Stories will only be considered from those who are on their list of approved writers. If you feel you should be on this list and haven't been sent the latest guidelines, you'll need to contact the current fiction editor.

Friday, 31 July 2020

Updates on all the stuff

My news

Firstly, thank you so much to everyone who commented here and on social media about the copyright infringement accusation made against me – and to the friend who offered to put her law degree to use should that be needed! I very much appreciate all the support. At first I was deeply distressed, but your kindness went a huge way to alleviating that.

I was especially pleased that not one person suggested I may actually have infringed anyone's copyright, even accidentally. It had been my fear that some might think me capable of that and I've been greatly reassured.

Blogger have still not responded, but I have heard from two people connected to the blog whose copyright I allegedly infringed. They both assured me they did not raise the complaint and have no quarrel with me. They expressed sympathy and offered to contact Blogger to try to get this sorted out. They've done that, making the situation very clear, and copied me in. I don't see how they can do more. Their kindness is also very much appreciated. To paraphrase one of them, 'the internet is great – there are just a few idiots who spoil things'.

Another thing which cheered me up yesterday was the sale of a story to Allas. The cherry on the top of the support and kindness I'd received from so many online friends.

Womagwriter blog news

As mentioned previously, I've been considering combining my blogs. Although I'm yet to work out the best way to do that, I've made the decision that this will happen. For now, posts from my other blog, will appear here, along with womag stuff. I'm going to try using headings, as in this post, in the hope that makes things easier.

I'm also experimenting with adding Womagwriter to my website. I'll be duplicating relevant posts (or parts of posts such as the bit below) there to build up the information to a useful level. Obviously there's not much there yet, but please take a look and let me know if you're able to find womag stuff, if you think it will work, and if you have suggestions for improvement.

Womag news

I asked ‘my’ editor at The People’s Friend which story lengths and subjects are most in demand. He says it’s ‘the usual culprits’ by which he means 2000 and 3000 word stories as these are always in demand. Also, stories set around events and holidays – Christmas, Advent, Bonfire Night, Easter, Valentine’s etc are appreciated.
The cover featured is an old one – but as it has me name on the front, I like to make sure it’s seen!