Tuesday, 15 December 2009

An early Merry Christmas!

I'm going to be away next week, skiing in France. The week after we have hundreds of relatives turning up for New Year. So I'll wish you all a very Merry Christmas, and a happy and prosperous 2010. May Santa bring you everything you've asked for! I'll be back blogging in January.

Monday, 7 December 2009

Woman's Weekly latest guidelines

Writer Geri forwarded me the following updated guidelines for Woman's Weekly. Apparently Clare Cooper of Woman's Weekly specifically asked her to forward them to me to post here! Which makes this blog kind of official, don't you think?!


We regret we can’t accept stories by email. Please include an sae in case we have to return your manuscript.

Fiction is a vital ingredient of Woman’s Weekly, the place where readers can escape and switch off. This doesn’t mean predictable plots or old-fashioned
romances. Escapism means getting involved in a really gripping tale with believable characters. Above all, we are looking for originality and a wide variety of themes and moods, such as mystery, humour, relationships and family issues, with warmth still an important factor. Try to be subtle in your writing and remember the maxim: “Show don’t tell”. We recommend you read several issues of Woman’s Weekly and Woman’s Weekly Fiction Special to get a feel for our audience.

Unfortunately, we can’t offer criticism, but if your writing shows promise, we will contact you.


For the weekly magazine:
Short stories of 1,000 and 2,000 words
Serials in 3 parts of 3,800 words each

For Fiction Special (At least 20 stories 10 times a year):
Stories of 1,000 to 8,000 words


- We read only typescripts. Handwritten work or disks can’t be considered.
- Double line spacing on one side of the paper only and wide margins.
- Number each page and make sure your name is at the top of each page.
- If sending stories from abroad, please enclose an international reply coupon.
- If you would like us to acknowledge receipt of your manuscript, enclose a stamped, addressed postcard.
- Please note that it can take up to sixteen weeks for manuscripts to be considered, and that we are unable to enter into any correspondence by email.

Please send stories/serials to:
Fiction Department, Woman’s Weekly, IPC Media, Blue Fin Building,
110 Southwark Street, London, SE1 0SU.

Note the maximum word length for the fiction specials - up to 8000 words, which would be a pretty meaty story! And it's great to see a fiction market which is prospering, and actually wanting writers' guidelines to be widely circulated.

Good luck with your submissions. It's not a market I've had much luck with. Maybe I should specifically target it in 2010.

Thursday, 3 December 2009

Cover Girl

Cally Taylor, who lives on Cloud Nine these days, is on the cover of the latest Writers' Forum magazine, now out. She's had an amazing year, and is interviewed in WF by fellow blogger Helen.

Also in WF is a feature by Olivia Ryan about writing under a psuedonym. She should know, that's hers!

Add the start of a new series by Della Galton on novel writing, Sally Q's regular competitions column and the back page 'where I write' feature with Australian womag writer Glynis Scrivens and you've got a brilliant edition of the mag. One of my favourite regular features which I haven't gushed about before is Hugh Scott's quirky Tales of my Guru. I'll be off to bed early tonight to read it cover to cover.

Ask for a subscription for Christmas!

Wednesday, 2 December 2009

This isn't good news...

Thanks to LilyS for passing this on. New writers asking for My Weekly's writers' guidelines are being sent the following email:

Dear Contributor,

Thank you for your interest in our current guidelines.

I am very sorry to disappoint you but unfortunately due to the volume of short stories currently flooding into our offices, I am, for the foreseeable future, unable to read and therefore accept unsolicited stories from authors who have not already had an acceptance from My Weekly.

If you have contributed to My Weekly in the past I thank you for your submissions, if not, I’m sorry I can’t offer you, at this time, the opportunity to have your work published with us.

The very best of luck with your writing.

Yours sincerely,

Liz Smith
Commissioning Fiction Editor.

What a shame. My Weekly, in the days when they had more staff dealing with fiction, were one of the nicest and most helpful magazines to submit to. It seems those days have gone.

Monday, 30 November 2009

Sally's new competition calendar

For those of you who like entering writing competitions, check out Sally Q's new competition calendar, here. Hundreds of competitions listed by closing date. Invaluable resource for writers, bookmark it NOW!

Monday, 23 November 2009

Get your name in print!

And raise money for an excellent charity at the same time. Here, novelist Kate Long is auctioning the chance to name a character in her forthcoming novel. What a fantastic idea, and a great cause! If you can't afford to bid please do pass this message on, or consider making a direct donation to Quintessentially Foundation.

I quite fancy reading about a character named Sleb Ritty. So to save poor Kate the challenge of working him into her novel (he's a journalist with no sense of morals or ethics, writes for the tabloids by the way), get over there and outbid me!

Sunday, 22 November 2009

Woman's Weekly - more fiction specials

As of next year, Woman's Weekly are planning to publish ten fiction specials a year rather than eight. That's good news for us - they'll need to buy another fifty stories a year to fill the extra issues. Great to see one fiction market increasing! And it's not that long since they increased from six to eight a year. Proves good fiction is really popular!

Thursday, 19 November 2009

Discussion time

One reader of this blog left the following questions under a recent post, and I thought it might be worth having an open discussion about these points, so I've copied her comment here:

What are your views about the length of time taken by mags to respond? Not that one can do anything about it except stop sending. Six months seems unfair and unreasonable. So does the delay in payments once accepted. How would editorial staff like to wait months for their salaries?

Six months is a long time to wait for a response. It's even longer to wait for a non-response (I particularly hate My Weekly's policy of not sending rejection notifications and just telling you to assume it's a rejection if no news for six months). To be fair, some magazines do respond much quicker than that.

And the delay in payments is irritating. You end up spending valuable writing time chasing payment. At the moment Take A Break seem a bit behind - I'm awaiting payment for one and have heard of other writers who are also owed for several stories.

So, come on, what do you all think? Let's have a rant and a moan. You never know who might be reading this. This blog allows anonymous coments so feel free to make full use of that facility!

Friday, 13 November 2009

Early work

I was updating my submissions spreadsheet yesterday and found myself scrolling back up to the top, and my beginnings as a writer back in 2003. I log all submissions on this spreadsheet, in date order. Hits get highlighted in bold so it's easy to see the fallow periods when lots were submitted but nothing sold.

It was interesting looking at the lists of old, unsold stories. Those I wrote in 2003, 2004, 2005 got sent out 3 or 4 time, and always came back. I had the occasional hit during these times - a fluke vaguely literary story got shortlisted in a few competitions; I had a few unpaying internet publications; and my one and only Woman's Weekly sale back in 2004 (anyone know who you have to sleep with to sell another??)

Then there are the good periods, with lots of bold-highlighted lines on the spreadsheet. Stories subbed March-May 2007 looks particularly good - 9 hits from that period. Mid-July to November that same year was terrible. Everything came back unloved and unwanted.

Those early endless rejections taught me perserverance. I could have given up, but I didn't - because I enjoyed writing and the few acceptances had given me such a buzz I had to do all I could to recapture that feeling (though nothing ever feels as good as the first sale!)

And all those unsold early stories? When I re-read them now I can see why they didn't sell. Stories which start ok then peter out with no real resolution. Stories full of cliches, adverbs and dialogue tags. Stories with too many characters. Experimental stories written in weird and wonderful formats. Stories which should really never have seen the light of day. I feel vaguely sorry for the magazine editors who had to read them. But I thank them too, for not black-listing me and for accepting some of my stories once I'd learned enough craft.

BUT - those stories were my apprenticeship. They earned their keep, because through writing them, editing them, subbing them and getting them back again I learnt what works and what doesn't. I learnt how to structure a story. How to balance description and dialogue. How to tighten a story, reducing it to just the right number of words, where every word counts and every word works. I got better at writing. I'm still learning.

And a few of those stories contain half-decent plots I can reuse. I've rewritten one (a complete rewrite, starting from scratch I mean, not an edit) and sold it. I think there are others which could be resurrected and used. (Here's one, the second story I ever wrote: unknown woman turns up at the door with a sob story about needing to take her son to a hospital appointment but no money for petrol and she won't be paid till Friday. Does your MC take her on trust and lend her money? Or not and live with the guilt the woman might be genuine? Feel free to use this if you like. We'd all write completely different stories from this starting place, and though they wouldn't all sell, the best ones might.)

Although I know of a few writers who sold the first story they ever submitted, most follow the kind of path I have. It's slow and sometimes tortuous. And once you begin to sell there's no guarantee you'll keep selling. I've just logged today's rejection from Take A Break, sob sob.

But the only certain thing in this game is, if you don't write you won't improve; if you don't submit you won't sell. Keep at it, keep smiling, and good luck!

Thursday, 12 November 2009

Double down under!

I'm grinning ear to ear today, having sold two stories to That's Life Fast Fiction (Australia) for their Summer issue, out in December.

I've also heard of three other blogging pals who'll be in that issue. All four of us are in the Story-A-Fortnight group, and most of the stories bought by TL are from that group. Proof that getting together with other writers to motivate and encourage each other, as well as critting each others' stories, definitely works!

Saturday, 7 November 2009

Subbing under a pen name

A blog reader left a question on the Submissions Etiquette post asking about how to present submissions when using a pseudonym.

I realised I didn't know the answer, so I asked a woman who does - Sally Quilford (that's not her real name, but is the name she writes under. And she'll always be Sally to me!)

And here's her answer:

When I send out stories to magazines, I always add a cover sheet. I start with the title, word count and my pen-name, centred and in bold and about size 18 font, about five lines down the page, then put the address in ordinary size 12 font about another five lines down, but on the left, as so:

Title of Story

(word count 0000)


Pen Name

Real Name
(Writing as Pen Name)
My Street
My Town
phone number

That's always been enough for me when dealing with professional editors, who are used to dealing with pen-names.

Blogger won't format this quite as Sally sent it, but you get the idea. Thanks, Sally!

Friday, 6 November 2009

Fame at last!

Can't keep this to myself another second.

The latest issue (99) of The New Writer contains both an article by me and an article about me.

The former is a little ditty likening running to writing, written while I was training for that triathlon back in the summer. The latter is a piece by my good mate Sally and is all about me - me the womagwriter blog that is, not me the person! I'm chuffed to bits she's been inspired enough by this blog and all that it stands for to write an article about it. Many thanks to all those who provided quotes for her article, especially Della.

If you don't already subscribe to TNW, there'll be no better time to do so than now (not being in any way biased of course, ahem). Next issue will be the 100th and I know there's a very special edition planned.

I'm also in the latest TAB Fiction Feast, just out, along with several writing buddies. A good week for me, publication-wise. :-)

Tuesday, 3 November 2009

Guest blog post: Cally Taylor

I'm delighted to welcome Cally Taylor to this blog today, as part of her world blog tour following the publication of her book, Heaven Can Wait (which is brilliant, by the way!)

As most visitors to this blog are short story writers, I asked Cally to write about her background as a short story writer. So, over to Cally!

Like most writers I’ve written short stories since I was a child but it wasn’t until 2005 that I started to write them ‘seriously’. ‘Seriously’ is a strange word, it implies I was messing around with writing until 2005. In a way, I was. I mostly wrote for myself and wouldn’t have dared send a story I’d written to a magazine or a competition. Competitions and magazines were for ‘proper’ writers, not dabblers like me. Or that’s what I thought.

2005 was the year I discovered the BBC Get Writing website (now defunct). I was drawn there by a competition I’d seen on the TV – to complete stories written by famous authors – and was looking for hints and tips. I found lots of great advice but what I hadn’t bargained on were the forums where you could post your work for critique. Initially I lurked, actually I lurked for quite a long time, because I was scared to post my work online for other people to judge, but I grew increasingly curious. How did my stories compare to the ones that had been posted by other people? Were they any good? Was I any good? Tentatively I posted one of my stories and waited for the onslaught.

It didn’t come.

Instead I received some really positive comments (as well as some helpful suggestions about how I could improve the story). I started critiquing other people’s stories and posting a few more of my own. Before I knew it I was a fully fledged member of the site. The more I participated the more fascinated I became with the craft of creating a great short story. I bought books on the subject, read online articles and nosed around on competition websites to see what the winners’ stories were like. Gradually I started to improve as a writer and when one of my stories was included in the first BBC GetWriting anthology I was over the moon. Yes it was ‘just’ a downloadable PDF, but I’d been published!

When BBC GetWriting was closed due to cuts I looked for another forum where I could continue to grow as a writer. I’d sent off some of my stories to competitions and magazines and hadn’t had any luck so knew there was still a lot to learn. Finally I found a forum that had a fantastic, if scary, reputation. The leader of the group was a well respected short story writer – and hugely knowledgeable – but he had a reputation for being very...well...blunt... and I ummed and ahhed for ages before joining. I learnt a lot – a hell of a lot – about the importance of openings, theme, pace, language and characters and gradually my story ‘hit’ rate (getting accepted for publication or winning a prize in a competition counted as a ‘hit) began to increase. I had a short story published in a charity anthology by Leaf Books in December 2005, a piece of flash fiction accepted by Aesthetica in January 2006 and won a small flash fiction competition in February. In April 2006 I won my first short story competition (Bank Street Writers). So far so positive, right? The truth is the blunt critiques were starting to knock my confidence. Yes I was getting work published, and even winning competitions, but all my (anonymously critiqued) stories were receiving similar feedback – not literary enough. Too ‘womag’. Too ‘light’. I started to doubt myself and my ability. Maybe I wasn’t cut out to be a writer?

Everything changed in June 2006 when I was called by the editor of “Woman’s Own” magazine. My story “Wish You Were Here” had beaten thousands of other entries and I’d won the runner up prize and publication in the magazine! I was gobsmacked. People like me didn’t get stories into women’s magazines – professionals like Della Galton and Teresa Ashby did. The day I went into a newsagents and bought a copy of the magazine with my story and photo in it was one of the happiest days of my life.

I continued to write stories but something inside me had changed. I stopped worrying about whether my stories were literary or not and started writing what I felt compelled to write, in a style and voice that came naturally. I continued to enter my more literary stories into competitions and kept the commercial ones back. I searched the internet for fiction guidelines for the womags (this was before lovely Womagwriter created her fantastic blog) and started to believe that maybe, just maybe, I wasn’t a one hit wonder and I could get another story published in a women’s magazine.

I sent my stories out, dozens of them, to Bella, Best, Take a Break, Woman’s Weekly etc and..nothing. Brown envelope after brown envelope plopped onto my doormat. What was I doing wrong? I wasn’t actually reading the magazines that was what! I bought armfuls and studied them, getting a feel for the types of stories, themes and tones the editor liked. And I wrote more stories and sent them off. I’d set myself a challenge – I WOULD get another story published in a woman’s magazine, no matter how long it took.

Finally, in April 2007 I did it! My Weekly sent me a letter asking if they could publish my story “Secrets and Rain”. Could they? Of course they bloody could! (it actually took them two years to publish it but that’s another story...). I didn’t get another womag ‘hit’ until January 2008 when I received a call from Take-a-Break’s Norah McGrath asking if she could buy “The Little Box of Wishes”. It was a fantastic start to what was to become my most successful writing year, ever. I sold another four stories to Norah, a very short story to My Weekly and crossed some of my other ambitions off my list (to get a story in QWF, to place in the Writers Bureau competition – I came third - and get some flashes in the Your Messages anthology). Then, in September 2008, the most amazing thing happened - after a year of sending out my novel, revising it and sending it out again - I got an literary agent! One month later and I had a two book contract with Orion and a handful of foreign deals.

As I’ve been writing this guest post a couple of things have occurred to me about my writing adventure (I hate the word ‘journey’!):

1) I spent a lot of it feeling scared but overcame my fear so I could learn and progress as a writer (putting work up for critique, sending my stories out to magazines, sending my novel to agents etc)

2) I constantly gave myself challenges – get a story published online, get a story published in print, get a story published by a womag, win a competition, get a novel published - and whenever I achieved a challenge I’d come up with a new one*

3) I never, ever gave up. Not when my stories were being slated in the critique group, not when brown envelopes piled up on my doormat and certainly not when my agent told me my novel needed a lot more work before he’d even consider signing me. Yes those things hurt me, yes I went off and had a sulk or a cry (or a bottle of wine!) but I picked myself up and I tried again.

Yes you need talent to get a short story or a novel published but hell, you need a lot more than that. You need guts, determination, drive and resilience. And you need to believe - believe that one day it could be you. Because you know what? It really could be.

Cally Taylor

Author of “Heaven Can Wait”, a supernatural romantic-comedy about a woman called Lucy who dies the night before her wedding and tries to become a ghost so she can be reunited with the love of her life.

* One challenge I haven’t achieved yet is to get a story published by Woman’s Weekly. I’ve been trying for four years now and I’m not about to stop!

P.S. I wanted to ‘Pay Forward’ my big break with Woman’s Own by running my own short competition to celebrate the launch of my novel. Three prize winners will win a one-on-one consultation with the Darley Anderson Agency as well as some great prizes. You can find out more here:

Thanks Cally, fascinating story of your, ahem, 'journey'! I'm blushing here after your kind comments about this blog :-)

Cally has also kindly offered a signed copy of her novel to a person picked at random from anyone who responds to this post. Deadline 6pm Friday 6th November. I will put all names in a hat and ask one of my sons to pick one out. So if you'd like the chance to win a copy, post a comment below!

Thursday, 29 October 2009

Latest Prima Wise Words subject

You know you're turning into your mother when...

Complete the sentence and email to wisewords@natmags.co.uk remembering to include your postal address so they can send you a cheque for £25 if they use yours. They tend not to tell you they are using it, just send you the cheque.

I could give you all a teensy insight into latest developments chez Womag's Mum and complete the sentence with ...when you find yourself stuck in a wheelchair and surrounded by far too many clothes your bully of a daughter is trying to steal from you to take to charity shops.

But that's not particularly funny or poignant so is not what they are after. Good luck everyone!

Tuesday, 27 October 2009

Sally Z on the short story

The talented and experienced Sally Zigmond has started a series of blog posts about the short story. This will be well worth following, and because she does this sort of thing far better than I ever could, all I can do is link to her blog and draw your attention to her posts.

First one is on story openings - here. Read it and learn!

Monday, 26 October 2009

Cally's Blog tour

Hope you're all following and enjoying Cally Taylor's virtual book tour of Blogland to promote her book! Today's interview with Sally Q is a gem not to be missed.

Cally will be stopping by this blog next week, with a guest post on her background in short story writing. So come back then to be inspired!

Thursday, 22 October 2009

The Weekly News - Jill's maternity leave

The fiction editor of The Weekly News, Jill Finlay, is off on maternity leave next month. While she's away, Billy Higgins will step in as fiction editor. So email subs to him instead of Jill at whiggins@dcthomson.co.uk for the next six months.

Good luck to Jill for the birth of her baby!

Thursday, 15 October 2009

Book by a Buddy now available to buy!

And another quick post to blow Cally Taylor's trumpet - her book Heaven Can Wait is now out! Cally will be a guest blogger here next month, as part of her tour of the blogosphere. She's a versatile writer, having won literary competitions and been published in women's magazines as well as publishing this novel, and another one's on the way. Well done Cally!

To celebrate publication Cally's running a writing competition - details on her website here. Winners get £100 and a one-to-one with a member of the Darley Anderson Literary Agency. Definitely one worth entering, I would say!

A My Weekly publication

Just a quick post to blow my own trumpet - I'm in the new My Weekly dated 17th October, on p10. This story is one of my favourites, written ages ago but I had such lovely comments on it when I sold it to My Weekly, I feel really fond of it now!

Wednesday, 14 October 2009

Blogging competition

News of this blogging competition reached me via the grapevine. Looks to be a great cause, so why not give it a go?

LOROS is a hospice in Leicestershire so your entry fees will go to a good cause.
Please distribute this notice freely.

Blogging for Britain Competition! Win £100!!!

Are you a keen writer? Do you enjoy blogging? Fancy winning £100? Then why not enter the LOROS 'Blogging for Britain ' Competition? Simply write up to a 500 word blog extract about a day in British Life.

Entry fee £2 per entry. All cheques made payable to 'LOROS'. Name and contact details on a seperate sheet to your entry(ies). Author's name must not appear on the entry.

Closing date 31st October 2009. For further information please call 0116 231 8431 or email fundraising@ loros.co. uk

Entries to:
'Blogging for Britain ' Competition
c/0 Nancy Taylor
LOROS Fundraising
LOROS Groby Road
Leicester LE3 9QE

Thursday, 1 October 2009

Researching your market

Time I posted something useful on this blog, beyond just magazine guidelines! This will all be old hat to you experienced writers, but could be useful for some of the less experienced readers of this blog.

Well you'll all have heard the mantra of 'research your market'. But what exactly does that mean, and how do you go about it?

Firstly, and obviously, if at all possible get hold of a couple of issues of the magazine and read them. Cover to cover, and not just the fiction. You glean a lot from the types of articles published, the sorts of readers' letters and tips they publish (pictures of cute grandchildren, or tips on getting football kits sparkling clean?) You're trying to build up a picture of the kind of person who reads the magazine, therefore the kind of person your story needs to appeal to.

Google the magazine title, and find its website. Somewhere, probably, will be a link to an advertisers package. Take a detailed look at this - there should be details on the type of reader the magazine is aiming at, their age, demographic, etc, as well as the style of the magazine.

Then nick the advertisers' research. Whereas we writers have nothing to lose by sending stories everywhere (just the cost of a stamp and envelope), advertisers have to pay to advertise in the mag. So you can be sure they'll have researched and targetted the right magazine. You can borrow this research simply by noting what ads appear in each magazine. Stair lifts or follow-on milk? Health spas or lunch-box snacks? This all should help you build up a profile of the mag's readers.

It's not just typical reader age you need to know. Demographics are useful too. The Lady has a Situations Vacant column, in which you'll find people looking for butlers and Norland Nannies (Norland Nanny = very posh childcare, for my overseas readers!). You won't find that in Take A Break. Their readers are more likely to pay a local childminder than employ a Norland Nanny.

Now I don't mean that you absolutely could not sell a story involving a Norland Nanny to Take A Break. But your story must appeal to Take A Break readers, or it won't sell to them.

Don't ask me to define story appeal. It's undefinable, but the magazine editors know it when they see it, because they know their magazine so well and have years of experience. Our best bet as writers, is to also get to know the magazine well, and build up experience, until we too know by instinct when a story is likely to appeal to a given market.

OK, so once you think you understand the target readers, you write stories about those types of people, right? Sorry, it's not as simple as that. You won't see many stories about old people ailing in nursing homes in People's Friend, for example, even though such people make up a substantial part of their readership. But you put yourself in those readers' shoes, and think about what sort of story they would like to read. (Nostalgic 1950s first loves, or contemporary young family stories reminding PF readers of their grandchildren?)

Your readers must be able to relate to the characters you write about. And by knowing your readers, you should be able to build characters and storylines they can relate to.

Well, there you are, my tuppence worth for today. (And if you do sell a Norland Nanny story to Take A Break, do let me know!)

Wednesday, 23 September 2009

The Lady - some snippets of news

Couple of things have reached me via the womagwriter grapevine -

Firstly, fiction in The Lady may not be completely dead, I heard there's a chance they will reinstate it at a later date. So keep checking it, all might not be lost yet. And do consider writing in the meantime (or getting your mum/aunt/granny to write) lamenting the loss of the fiction!

Secondly, the Viewpoint slot is to be discontinued (thanks to Teresa W for letting me know). It's to be replaced in October with a new slot, called The Lady and I. Write about how The Lady changed your life in some way, about 350 words, to fill this one.

I'm sorry I've no more detail than that for now. If you hear anything, please add a comment here to spread the news.

I think my Mum's got a recent copy of The Lady. Perhaps I'll nick it when I next visit her in hospital. Although that's the wrong way round, isn't it - I should be taking magazines and grapes to her!

Saturday, 19 September 2009

That's Life Fast Fiction

I have a story in the latest That's Life Fast Fiction (Australian) and my contributor's copy arrived the other day. It's a really nice looking magazine and I am delighted to be in it - my first Australian publication. There are numerous other blogging pals in it, and I'm honoured to share pages with them.

The only changes I noticed made to my story, are to change the names of the characters. I guess names have different connotations on the other side of the world. My female MC's name was changed from Dee to Ada. Now to me, Ada is the name of someone's Granny, whereas my character is a young, not-long-married woman. And her hubby's name was changed from Jim to Hamish. I would only call a character Hamish if he was to be a caricature Scotsman. But I guess things are different down under.

Finding the right names for characters is always important. But I hadn't realised that names which are right for one market, might not be right in another. Interesting, isn't it?

Wednesday, 16 September 2009

thank you all

for your good wishes for my Mum.

She's in hospital at the moment, which is the best place for her while they sort out what's wrong. I'm not going to say too much here as it's not what this blog is about, but so many left a comment on my post last week wishing her well, that I felt I should post a thank you. It does mean a lot!

Anyway - don't miss the 3 posts below this which I have just very quickly added.

The Lady - no more fiction

See Patsy's blog here for the sad news that yet another fiction market has bitten the dust. :-(

Good job the big markets - My Weekly, Woman's Weekly, Take A Break, People's Friend - are still going strong and taking plenty of stories.

My Weekly pocket novels guidelines

Please address: For the Attention of Maggie Seed

Love! Romance! Passion! Adventure!
Avid fans of romantic novels can get their fix from My Weekly Pocket Novels!
Two published every fortnight.

We look for stories with a strong, developing romance between two identifiable characters. Within the time it takes to read one of the novels, we would like the reader to share and experience the breathless/breath-taking excitement of a growing relationship.
Do: Create characters our readers can identify with, rejoice with or grieve with. They can have flaws.
Do: Thrill and intrigue the reader. You have two hours (roughly) to take the reader through a gamut of emotions and resolve the dilemma, mystery, pitfalls and obstacles.
Do: Include a heart-stopping moment! Key moments to consider: She realises she likes him; she thinks he is lost to her forever; that second-chance moment when she realises happiness can be hers…THE KISS!
Some questions you might like to answer: How can she resist him? How did he misjudge her? What kind of a woman is she?
Do: Set our pulses racing (ooh la la!) BUT remember we want passion, not pornography!
Do: Use dialogue so the reader can participate in the story’s development rather than being told in large chunks of straight narrative.

Sometimes: There can be a secondary plot to help develop the romance. For instance, there are often complications and misunderstandings between the hero and the heroine, or there is something vital at stake, such as a child, an inheritance, a relationship etc.
Crime and intrigue can feature, as long as they don’t distract from the developing romance.
Who: Our heroines vary in age from their early twenties to middle-age and are compassionate and morally sound. They are more modern in their relationships, thoughts, feelings and experiences when the novel has a contemporary setting.
Where and When: Stories can be set anywhere in the world and can be contemporary or historical.
How: The story is usually told from the woman’s point of view, although occasionally it is from the man’s.

Please send in a synopsis and the first three chapters in manuscript form or via email.
If we wish to proceed, we will ask you to send in the full novel electronically.
Word count: around 30,000 words, no more than 32,000.
Double spacing, double quotes, single space only between full stop and next sentence.
If accepted for publication the completed novel must be presented electronically in a format compatible with ours (i.e., Word or rich text format)

Please send to:
My Weekly Pocket Novels
D.C. Thomson & Co., Ltd.,
80 Kingsway East
Dundee DD4 8SL
Email: myweekly@dcthomson.co.uk

My Weekly latest guidelines

Briefly (as I'm short of time! and the way the guidelines are laid out won't cut and paste easily onto Blogger)

For January/February issues My Weekly are looking for:
1400-1600 words Twist in the Tail. Particularly light hearted or very moving themes.
700 word Coffee Break. Again, light hearted or moving.
1200 or 2000 word Romance stories. Light hearted themes.
2500-3000 Long Reads.

Remember no MSS will be returned now, so if you hear nothing after 6 months consider it rejected. No need for SAEs (though I am sure most people email subs to them these days). Only send one sub a month.

Wednesday, 9 September 2009

Just a quick update

Sorry for the lack of posts lately. Lots of family worries at the moment - Mum needing a lot of support. Work is stupidly busy too, but they know about Mum and I am able to take the time off when I need to help her, so that's ok.

Some bits and pieces:

The triathlon I was training for was last Sunday. My goals were (a) finish, (b) finish running, (c) finish in under 1hr 45 min and (c) not be last of the women. Guess what! I achieved all 4 aims! And I will probably never do another triathlon. Ever. It HURT!

Latest call for Wise Words for Prima magazine, is 'My most embarrassing party moment...'
Under 50 words, email to wisewords@natmags.co.uk, include your postal address so they can send you the £25 if your contribution is printed. They don't tell you they've accepted one, they just send you the cheque!

Sunday, 30 August 2009

Drying out

Well you lot forgot to pray for good weather for me, didn't you? Come on, own up. And I did ask so nicely...

It was wet, cold and windy in Pembrokeshire. And seasoned camper that I am, I forgot to pack any footwear other than sandals. We did get a few sunny days, so we had a good time anyway, and I came back to a sale to Fiction Feast so it's not all bad. Here's our tent on a rare good day:

And here's the state of the waterlogged field and my poor, poor, miserable feet:

The kids had fun. We went to a reconstructed Iron Age village. Here's my son, fearsomely warpainted with woad:

Other than that we saw plenty of rainbows. Considered mugging fellow campers for their wellies. Learnt that the tent leaks in three places. Worked out an arrangement for cooking inside the tent. Visited St David's Cathedral and Pembroke castle. Walked miles of clifftop paths. Brought home a set of slate place mats and a lot of muddy clothes.

And read a book about the last invasion of Britain - in 1797 a motley crew of Frenchmen led by an American landed near Fishguard in an attempt to rally the British peasants in revolt against the government. They failed, and were rounded up by a Welshwoman named Jemima. (And you all thought 1066 was the last time Britain was invaded, didn't you? Glad to have taught you something new!) There's a tapestry depicting this invasion, too. Bayeux, eat your heart out.

Friday, 21 August 2009

Sunny Pembrokeshire

It IS going to be sunny in Pembrokeshire for the next week, isn't it? Promise me, please? We're off for a week's camping. The day job's been hideous for the last couple of months so I badly need to de-stress. Best way I know is to lounge around outside a tent, with a glass of wine and a good book. In the sunshine.

See you all in a week or so.