Sunday, 12 December 2010

Merry Christmas!

Possibly a bit early but I have a busy week and am away skiing next week, back after Christmas. So I'll send you my Christmas wishes now, using a tiny little Youtube video my 13-year old just made. Perfect in its simplicity, in my opinion!



Click here for the Youtube link, and do consider taking a look at some of 'Raxinoca's' older videos! If you like Lego, that is...

Saturday, 4 December 2010

Cover fashion

Take a look at this brilliant image, from the How to be a Retronaut website. It's a montage of images of the cover of Time magazine, 1923 to 2009, and shows clearly the changing fashions of , magazine covers, from black and white to colour, from single portraits to complex images with busy backgrounds.

It reminded me, I once bought an issue of Woman's Weekly from 1941 via eBay, just to see how the magazine had evolved. Interesting background research for any womag writer.

Thursday, 2 December 2010

Win Kate Walker's How-To book

Kate Walker is a well-known and prolific Mills and Boon writer, and also the author of A 12 Point Guide to Writing Romance.

Head on over to either Sally or Simon's blogs to find out how you could win a copy this month.

Snow in Bournemouth


View from the clifftop at the end of our road - mile upon mile of pristine white.....snow?!


Last year Bournemouth received its first snow for 30 years - just one inch. Last night we had over 4 inches, catching up with the rest of the country!

Wednesday, 24 November 2010

National Short Story Week

is this week! See here for details. Lots of links and interesting stuff there!

How much should you pay?

Yesterday I ordered a book I've been meaning to get for a while: Jane Wenham-Jones' Wannabe A Writer We've Heard Of? I bought her previous how-to-write book, Wannabe A Writer? a few years ago and it's an entertaining and useful read, so the follow-up was a must.

On Amazon, it's £3.50. With free p&p.

BUT - the book's publisher is Accent Press. I like to support small independent publishers (one day I might be sending them all my novel....) and I have a soft spot for Accent. They've always been very supportive of women's magazine writers, having published several Sexy Shorts anthologies which were largely populated by womag writers. They're also Della Galton's publisher, and will publish a new charity anthology next year in which yours truly has a story.

So I went to the Accent Press website to order the book direct from them. It's £9.99 there, plus £1.95 p&p. That's nearly £12.

£12 and stick to my principles, or £3.50. Hmm.

I ordered from Accent in the end. I know the book will be easily worth £12 to me. But what a difference in price! I remember being shocked a while back, when I read on Sally Zigmond's blog that small publisher Linen Press actually made a loss on every book sold via Amazon. I've tried since then to always buy books from small presses direct from the publisher and not from Amazon.

Not easy though, when the price difference is that much. Anyway, the book'll be here in a couple of days and I'm looking forward to reading and reviewing it!

You might note, my link above for the book is to Accent. If you want the book for £3.50 you'll have to search for it yourself on Amazon, but please, if you can afford it do consider buying direct from the publisher.

Monday, 22 November 2010

Ireland's Own - latest guidelines

With enormous thanks to Rena George for sending these to me:

GUIDELINES FOR CONTRIBUTORS
Ireland’s Own includes two short stories and a number of non-fiction items in the regular weekly issue. Each month, we produce a Special issue devoted to a particular theme (i.e., Christmas, New Year, St. Valentine’s Day, St. Patrick’s Day, Spring, Summer and Winter and one specifically devoted to the short story. Material with a seasonal theme should be submitted three months in advance to accommodate publishing schedules. In general, we favour fictional stories of approximately 2,000 words, written in the ‘straight forward’ style, typifying the ‘good yarn’.

The magazine is not an outlet for experimental or impressionistic writing. Tales should reflect the magazine’s ethos, having good general appeal developed through a well-explored story-line, with an Irish orientation where possible.
Non-fiction items of 750-900 words, accompanied if possible by a reproducible illustration, are also used, especially informative articles with a strong Irish background and general appeal. General interest and historical articles are also used, as are filler items of 400 words or less.
We have no requirements for poetry.

Typed copy, double spaced on A4 paper, accompanied by SAE, should be submitted to the editor who reserves the right to alter scripts if editorial adaptation is required.
Email copy may be sent to the addresses at the end.
Emails should be just typed in a straightforward manner, with no unnecessary capitals or spaces between paragraphs or lines. Micro Soft Word documents in the older .doc format would be preferred if possible (we cannot open the newer .docx format); otherwise type in the message area of the email.

We endeavour as far as possible to return all unused scripts, but we do not take responsibility for mislaid or lost texts and we urge all contributors to retain copies of their work. Please ensure that your name and address appears on all submissions as covering letters can become separated from articles/stories in the sometimes long interval between submission and usage.
Please append your land address for the despatch of voucher copies and cheques in the event of acceptance.

We generally pay €65 per 2000 word short story, €50-€60 per article and €15 - €20 per filler piece. Voucher copies are despatched; cheques are issued a few weeks after publication.
While we do not wish to discourage anyone, it should be noted that we have a large corps of regular contributors who look after most of our needs, and we have a considerable stockpile of accepted material on hands. Even when material is accepted, there is likely to be a lengthy
delay before publication.

Phil Murphy, Editor of the monthly specials
email: phil.murphy@peoplenews.ie

Sean Nolan, Editor of the weekly issues.
email: sean.nolan@peoplenews.ie

Ireland’s Own, Channing House, Rowe Street, Wexford.

Friday, 19 November 2010

Understanding Copyright

If you've ever felt at all vague about what copyright is, who owns it and how to establish it, go and look at this post on Jane Smith's How Publishing Really Works, then read the various other posts it links to.

As writers it is essential to understand copyright. If you've written it, it is copyrighted, which means no one can publish your work in any format without your permission.

As a beginner writer I had one little episode where my copyright was breached: one day I idly googled the first line of a story I'd written which had been published in an online journal. It popped up on a Mexican college website of all places, as an example of how to use the future tense in English. I contacted the college, received an apology, then gave them permission to use the story. They had no right to steal my story of course, but I felt kind of flattered to have become part of a curriculum. Wonder if they still teach it?

Edited 20/11/2010 to add this link to a very clear explanation of copyright by Alex Gazzola.

Monday, 15 November 2010

50 stories, How To, Can you help? Dogs

The day-job's been horrible lately and given me no time for the important things in life like writing, blogging and eating chocolate. Catching up now with a few snippets from my in-box -

1. 50 Stories for Pakistan now available to buy - see badge on the right. A great charity initiative, may there be many more from Greg!

2. Don't forget the ongoing How To competitions - the November one is now open and the results from the October competition should be on the website any time now. A great way to win £100 from non-fiction!

3. And a plea from a blog reader:
I wonder if your readers can help. I was delighted when I sold a story to Take A Break in the middle of August. It was all a bit of a muddle because we had just got back from holiday and landed in a crisis, but I was told it was scheduled for Issue 43. It wasn’t in Issue 43, so I have looked in every subsequent copy and it hasn’t been in those either. When I got my Remittance Notification, it had 41/10 on it, which led me to think it was in issue 41 and I’d missed it, but it seems it wasn’t in that issue either. Now I am utterly perplexed. If it hasn’t been in yet, then fine, but if I’ve missed it because it was published earlier than scheduled I shall be rather disappointed because it’s only my third sold and happens to be a favourite of mine.
Did anyone spot a story by Linda Gruchy (or Linda Priestley) about a man and woman meeting on a bus in an issue of TAB since mid August please?


If you can help Linda, send me an email via this blog and I'll forward it to her. It's horrible when you miss a publication.

4. And finally, I've read and loved Della Galton's book, The Dog With Nine Lives. It's the perfect stocking filler for all your dog-loving friends and relatives this Christmas, but be warned, you should supply a pack of tissues with each copy. It's a lovely book, and a great example of how to write from your own experiences. Writing from Life, as Lynn Hackles would say.

Thursday, 11 November 2010

Writers' Resources

Fabulous list of writers' resources here. Go take a look - something for everyone there whether you write romance, sci-fi, novels, shorts...

Thursday, 4 November 2010

Young Fiction Writer of the Year 2010 - results

Earlier in the year I posted about the Young Fiction Writer of the Year competition, hosted by Take A Break's Fiction Feast, and judged by Anthony Horowitz.

The results and winning entries are in the latest Fiction Feast, out today. We have competition, folks, the stories are amazing!

Wednesday, 3 November 2010

Bored with womag?

I think, after a while of writing one form of fiction, most of us probably feel stale, run out of ideas and steam, become formulaic or simply get bored.

It's normal, it's understandable, but don't let it get you down. You're still a writer. The answer is, try writing something else for a while. Something not aimed at the womags. Enter a competition, try some poetry, write something for your blog, start a novel, try NaNoWriMo, or just write whatever comes into your head even if it is nonsense. No writing is ever wasted, in the way that no physical exercise is ever wasted. You're practising, building up muscles and gaining experience. It's worked for me, with the historical novel.

Emma Darwin has written a brilliant blog post on this - you can read it here.

Monday, 1 November 2010

People's Friend - no more contributor copies at all

I posted a while back that People's Friend were suspending the issuing of contributor copies, but would send a PDF if requested. Now (with thanks to Linda for forwarding this news) it seems the PDF idea has not worked out.

PF say:
As you may know we had hoped that we would be able to e-mail a PDF of all of your stories which appear in the magazine. I’m sorry to say that, for a number of technical reasons, this has proved unworkable. I can only apologise for any disappointment this causes.

You will be notified of the issue date prior to publication and if you’re unable to locate a copy of the “Friend” in your local shops, do remember that back issues can be purchased from our Sales Dept. on 0800 318846.


Shame. PF publish about 15 stories a week. Does it really cost that much in money and time to send out 15 contributor copies?

Scribble

With thanks to Christine for reminding me of this market:

Scribble is not a women's magazine, but is a nice little small press magazine which is worth investigating. I know a number of writers who've been published in it, and it has a lovely mix of stories.

Take a look at the magazine's website here for full details. They take 1000-3000 word stories, and there is payment for the best three stories published each issue, as chosen by the readers. All contributors get a contributor's copy.

Sunday, 31 October 2010

Catch-up

Where I was last week with my family - yes we had a fab time!


Came home to the latest issue of Writers' Forum which contains some juicy articles, including an interview with Maggie Seed who is the My Weekly Pocket Novels editor, which is a must-read for anyone considering writing a pocket novel. The guidelines for them are available on this blog. Once you've sold a pocket novel, you can often sell it again to a large-print publisher such as Ulverscroft, who supply books to libraries so then you'll earn PLR (public lending rights) payments for years afterwards. So don't let the low fee from My Weekly put you off writing them!

Also in the magazine is Sheila Norton aka Olivia Ryan's article on short story writers who become novelists, or vice versa. She polled dozens of writers to find out whether people tended to start with shorts or go straight to novels. The results are fascinating, and the consensus seems to be that shorts will help you refine your technique and getting them published is a more attainable objective, so they're worth a try even if your main aim is a novel.


And I was delighted to see that Linda Lewis gives this blog a plug in her column this month. Thanks Linda!


I was at Della Galton's book launch for The Dog With Nine Lives yesterday - here's the cover image:



Got my signed copy, of course! which I shall read next. I also met and chatted with several other writers I hadn't previously met - hi Linda, hi David, hi Sue! I love events like this. It's so nice to chat with other people who share your passion for writing. David reminded me of Amanda's List of Womag Writers. Go and take a look if you've not already seen it. If you've had a good year you might want to contact Amanda to have a star added to your tally!

Saturday, 23 October 2010

Woman's Weekly Guidelines

With thanks to Kath John for this -

Woman's Weekly guidelines are now online, here. Check out the comments at the end - Gaynor Davies herself is replying to queries about submitting.

Well that's me out of a job, then!

Thursday, 21 October 2010

Book news

Della Galton's new book is about to be released - yours truly is invited to the book launch in just over a week's time!

The Dog With Nine Lives is non-fiction, the true story of a very special animal Della rescued from a beach in Greece. One for animal lovers everywhere.


I'm also delighted to be able to tell you about a forthcoming charity anthology - Diamonds and Pearls. It won't be out until next February, but rest assured I'll remind you again nearer the time! Sold in aid of Against Breast Cancer and full of stories by your favourite womag writers, including Della, Sally, and me!

Friday, 15 October 2010

Weeeee!

Good grief, I hear you cry. The woman hardly ever blogs at all these days apart from posting links, then three posts come along at once. What's she on? (Pinot, is the answer btw.)

I'm just on a bit of a roll. A mini roll, I was going to put, but I've given up chocolate for the moment. The novel was progressing slowly but surely, at a pace of about 3000 words a week. It came to a halt about 2 weeks ago on account of pressure at work - the pesky day job, which has become an evening job, a weekend job and a middle-of-the-night-on-callout job, as well.

Yesterday evening at my writing class, we decided on the theme for the end of term competition. Last night, during a bout of insomnia, an entire story came to me, and this evening I have written it in about an hour. Wow that feels so good, and having been novelling exclusively for months it's amazing to have completed something again. It just needs a little edit, and as its under 1000 words that won't take long.

And I also decided, last night, on the next scene for my novel. There should be time tomorrow or Sunday to make a start on that. The great thing about novel writing, I've found, is that I can write in smaller slots of time than I need for short stories. For stories, I need time to write at least half of a story at a time, preferably the whole thing. Which means a couple of hours solid, assuming I already have the idea, the characters, the beginning and the ending firmly fixed in my head.

Whereas with the novel, the characters are known, many scenes are mapped out, I know where I need to get to, and I can leave a scene part written, mid-sentence, and come back to it next time I have ten minutes to spare. I can also write in the sitting room with the TV on, which makes the auld fella think I'm keeping him company (bless). Short stories I need to go hide away in another room. So I leave the novel document open on my laptop, I don't shutdown (just close laptop lid) and therefore can pick up a part written section in seconds.

This is turning into a Friday night ramble. I'll stop there before I lose my way.

Can anyone help Merry?

An appeal for help from a blog reader:

Hello,

I am wondering if you can help me.

I sold a story to That's Life! Magazine that appeared in Issue #19 (or so I was told). I was told I would receive a copy of the magazine, in addition to my check.

I received the check, but have never received the magazine.

I have contacted the editor twice and the magazine contact email twice - and no one responds.

Do you suppose any of your readers would have a copy of that issue so I can add it to my portfolio? I'd be happy to pay for it and the postage.

My story was called THREE WISHES and was supposed to be the middle 3 page spread.

Thank you!

Merry Stahel


I'd suggest contacting Merry via her blog, linked above, if you can help. There are some very cute cat pictures on her blog too...

Circalit/Literary Consultancy Novelists competition

Had this press release from Circalit - could be of interest to aspiring novelists out there. Hey, that's me. Well, maybe when my novel's a little nearer completion perhaps....


Circalit and The Literary Consultancy Launch Free Competition for Writers

Today Circalit launched a free competition in partnership with The Literary Consultancy aimed at aspiring novelists who are looking for the opportunity to get a book deal. The Literacy Consultancy will assess the winning scripts' suitability for publication and fast-track work it deems marketable on to agents and publishers. The winning writers will also receive an in depth editorial report from The Literary Consultancy as well as an invitation to a publishing industry event at the Free Word Centre.

Recommended by The Arts Council England and all major publishing houses, The Literary Consultancy was started 14 years ago by Rebecca Swift and Hannah Griffiths, who is now an editor at Faber & Faber. The company has since made its name as the UK’s leading manuscript assessment service, providing expert, market-aware editorial advice to writers of all kinds. The company holds a strong track record of helping writers get into print, and has helped writers secure book deals with top publishers including Penguin, Orion, Macmillan, Random House and Bloomsbury.

Rebecca Swift, Director of TLC said, “We’re pleased to be launching a competition with Circalit which is encouraging a vibrant online community. Their competitions get participants involved as they review each other's work, and vote for their favourites. We hope that this competition will uncover talented new writers.'

Circalit, which started life as a site where screenwriters could showcase their work to film studios, has already hosted free competitions with companies such as the BBC and Hollywood producer, Julie Richardson. It’s social networking features make it an invaluable resource for writers looking to make industry contacts and it is integrated with Facebook, giving talented writers the means to spread their wings and go viral across the internet.

“The idea behind this competition is to help those up and coming writers who’ve yet to make their mark in the industry or who are unsure where to take their work and need some impartial advice,” adds Raoul Tawadey, CEO and Founder of Circalit, “That’s why we’re incredibly pleased to be doing this competition with The Literary Consultancy, who share the same ethos of helping writers through objective, independent critique. '

The competition will open on the 1st October and will take place quarterly over the next year. The first winner will be announced on 31st December 2010. For more information or to enter your work, please visit www.circalit.com/projects/competitions.

Monday, 11 October 2010

How To - regular competition

Remember this comp for a How-To article I posted about back in the summer? Well, it was a great success and now the website is planning to run the competition monthly, with prizes of £50-£100 each month. See here for the press release, and here for the full entry rules. You need to write a How To article, on any topic. Check out the links on the left for articles already published on the site, so you don't duplicate any. Hope lots of you enter - let me know if you do, especially if you win!

Wednesday, 6 October 2010

Dialogue and dialect

I'm progressing well with my novel - the one I began in June and which made me stop writing womag stories and woefully neglect this poor blog (please keep sending me any news and articles related to womag writing!) In the novel, I want one of the characters to speak in a distinctive voice, and her accent is nineteenth century Sussex. So I've been delighted to find a whole raft of recent blog posts related to writing dialogue and dialect! I also found on the internet a book of Sussex dialect compiled in Victorian times. Fantastic!

Thought I should share these with you all - so here's a bunch of links.

Verily I say unto ye, here's how not to write historical or fantasy dialect courtesy of MD Lachlan
One for the Wurzels, from Sarah Duncan, and another from the same blog.
Um, er, the trick is don't write how you speak, innit, from Nicola Morgan
And the Dictionary of Sussex Dialect I mentioned, online here or to purchase as a proper book here.

Saturday, 2 October 2010

The new New Writer

The New Writer is having a bit of a makeover starting with the next issue - it'll be longer, it'll be sent out every 3 months (subscriptions are 6 issues spread over 18 months), it'll include micro-fiction, book reviews, workshop exercises and other new features, and will have an improved page design.

All for no change to the subscription price! And you can now subscribe and pay by credit card online.

Friday, 1 October 2010

A Worship of Writers?

The things I've got saved in my favourites folder. Just came across this one, which I thought might be useful or at least amusing - a list of collective nouns.

Saturday, 25 September 2010

My Weekly guidelines Sep-Nov 2010

With thanks to Patsy for forwarding these, here's the latest requirements from My Weekly, valid until Nov 20th. Hope these are readable - the formatting doesn't copy & paste into Blogger too well. Note - My Weekly are still unable to accept short story submissions from anyone who has not previously sold to them. :-(

MY WEEKLY GUIDELINES NO. 14. (Sept 23 – Nov 20 )

FICTION ( for JANUARY, FEBRUARY, ISSUES)

Hello and thanks for your continued interest in writing for My Weekly.

Firstly, for all those who are reading these guidelines online and have not received them directly from me, I’m afraid I am no longer able to consider stories from authors who have not already had an acceptance from My Weekly. I am sorry to disappoint you but my reading time is now at a premium.

Please note! This does not apply to Pocket Novel contributions. Maggie Seed, the Specials editor is always looking for new exciting stories. More info about this and Features contributions at the end of these guidelines.

To my regular contributors, I thank you very much indeed for your continuing patience and support and of course the wonderful stories I receive. Lately, we’ve had lots of positive feedback from our readers on the quality of the fiction and I can’t praise you all enough for the constant supply of entertaining themes that come my way.

Don’t despair if you haven’t heard from me lately, please believe me I haven’t forgotten you . On the contrary, I’m working hard to give you the feedback all my writers need and deserve. It’s essential to produce the best My Weekly fiction.

I am always aware that someone out there is waiting to hear from me…

Please read the notes below which are printed in bold as they are very important to you and me!


PLEASE NOTE!!

Please get back to me if your manuscript isn’t acknowledged within two days. Sometimes my mailbox closes when I receive large files and I am then unaware of manuscripts sent.

Please state in your covering letter that you’ve already had acceptances from My Weekly. This will enable the Admin team to process your manuscript when I am on holiday.

It would be a great help if you could supply 30 words of inspiration with each story?


Can I remind everyone that I can consider only one manuscript per month?

Email, postal addresses, phone numbers etc should be marked on the manuscript or Word document

Please pay attention to the story lengths as they are important

For your manuscript to be considered, it’s imperative you mark prominently on your envelope or email into which category your story falls and how many words it is. If you don’t do this, I’m afraid your work can’t be considered.

Do remember NOT to include any formatting such as tabs or page breakers in your Word document.

Lastly, I am not looking for any more sci-fi themes or Christmas/New Year themes in any of the categories, at the moment.

Happy writing!

Liz Smith
(Commissioning Fiction Editor)



PRESENTATION

As we now edit on screen, please take a moment to check your manuscript and ensure that:

Double quotes (“…”) are used for dialogue throughout


You have avoided excessive use of ellipses (…) and exclamation marks
There are only SINGLE spaces between words and sentences (please eliminate all unnecessary spaces)


To enable you to see exactly where spaces and new paragraphs occur on a Word Document, go to the tool bar at the top of your screen and find the button with the “backwards” P. It will say Show/Hide when you move your cursor over it. Clicking on this will bring up these “invisibles”.


If you are emailing your story, make sure it is as a Word attachment and not in the body of the email


You are enclosing only a SINGLE MANUSCRIPT, not several at once, and that your story is in a standard plain type of 12pt.
All manuscripts must be typewritten, with accurate wordage supplied.



How Do I Submit?
Please send stories by email to lsmith@dcthomson.co.uk
or by post to: The Commissioning Fiction Editor, My Weekly, D.C.Thomson & Co. Ltd., 80 Kingsway East, Dundee DD4 8SL.


What Are The Required Categories?
You’ll find our present requirements overleaf, not only the types but the lengths.

Will The Categories Remain The Same?
No, they will change as our stocks fill up in some areas and deplete in others. Therefore, if you have an idea that doesn’t suit our present requirements, don’t despair - it may do so in the future. However, please be guided by the wordage mentioned.

How Will I Know When The Categories Have Changed?
There is an expiry date at the top of the first page of these guidelines. You can then request our latest guidelines by post (please enclose an S.A.E.) or by email
Well, here are the details you’re anxiously awaiting, so get your thinking caps on and good luck!



DO’S √ DON’TS X
Ö Display clear intent X Use black humour
Ö Be uplifting, have message of hope X Describe graphic violence
Ö Offer different points of view X Construct stand-up humour
Ö Have strong central characters X Rely on continuous one-liners
Ö Be evocative and atmospheric X Include overt sexuality or
Ö Use light and shade smuttiness
Ö Use natural, modern dialogue X Rely on formulaic predictability
Ö Portray relationships realistically X Construct contrived storylines
Ö Introduce humour where appropriate X Overlook punctuation/spelling
ÖTry to move the reader and grammar
Ö Uphold family values X Use unrealistic dialogue
Ö Check all facts are accurate for a specific age group
Ö Set stories in other countries X Portray one-dimensional
characters
X Use clichéd situations and dialogue


THESE ARE THE TYPES OF STORIES WE NEED:

I need a limited amount of St Valentine’s Day themes.
Other landmark dates are Shrove Tuesday and St Patrick’s day.


LONG READS (2,500 only) Please note this length has changed

- Emotionally engaging Film: Pay It Forward, Memoirs
- Light and shade Of A Geisha, Something’s
- Strong continuous plot Gotta Give; It’s A Wonderful Life;
- Intrigue Dr Zhivago Gone With The Wind
- Interwoven plot lines Novels: Anne of Green
- Complex relationships Gables
- Recognisable people in recognisable situations
- Escapist
- Adventure
- Balance of surprise vs expectations


Twist In The Tale (between 1400 and 1600 words) Your Inspiration
I’m particularly looking for light-hearted themes, or very moving

- “clues” must not be misleading Film – Sixth Sense, The Others, The Village,
- positive, pleasant outcome The Usual Suspects,
- characters well rounded, need not all be likeable TV: Hustle, Mobile,
- revenge must not be vindictive Fallen Angels, Tales Of The Unexpected
- a nice surprise instead of a “con”
- ensure crime themes have emotional engagement
and some sympathetic characters.




Coffee Break (700 Words Only) Your Inspiration
I’m particularly looking for light-hearted or very moving themes

- include a frisson of excitement, hint of passion Alan Bennett, Radio 4 play, P.G. Wodehouse;
- character studies Victoria Wood
- unusual, offbeat subject monologues, Roald
- humorous Dahl’s Tales Of The
- conversation – can be all dialogue Unexpected, The Twilight
- a moment in time Zone (new version),
- pulse racing, without being sexually explicit “Talking Heads”


Romance (1200 words + 2000 words) Your Inspiration
I’m looking for light-hearted or very romantic themes

- believable characters Film:Truly Madly Deeply;
- unusual theme/situations Love Story; Benny and Joon,
- try not to be too predictable When Harry Met Sally
- doesn’t have to have a standard happy ending Notting Hill, Chocolat,
- engaging dialogue Ghost, Nicholas Sparks
- must still be hopeful novels.
- inspiring
- light and shade work well
- try to ring the changes with themes
- convincing emotions



FEATURES


My Weekly features are written on a commission-only basis. If you have an idea you’d like to pitch to us, please email the following:
Health – Karen Byrom kbyrom@dcthomson.co.uk
Celebrity, General Features – Susan Anderson sanderson@dcthomson.co.uk
Real Life – Sally Rodger srodger@dcthomson.co.uk
Fashion/beauty/diet - Audrey Patterson apatterson@dcthomson.co.uk
Travel – Gladys Sturrock gsturrock@dcthomson.co.uk
Cookery – Alison Graves agraves@dcthomson.co.uk




MY WEEKLY POCKET NOVELS GUIDELINES
Please address: For the Attention of Maggie Seed
Email: mseed@dcthomson.co.uk

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.

Plot: 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.

Presentation
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. No tabs or page breakers.
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

Friday, 17 September 2010

Non fiction markets

Fab list here on Alex Gazzola's blog with links to lots of UK and Irish markets for non-fiction.

If you're not in the UK or Ireland, don't be feeling left out because he's also put together a list of international markets - here.

Definitely worth bookmarking or following Alex's blog which has evolved since I last recommended it, and now includes lots of extremely useful pages of advice for writers.

Tuesday, 14 September 2010

News latest

1. Remember the Mills & Boon/The Lady/National Trust competition I advertised here? Well, although all the links oddly disappeared from The Lady and NT websites, I understand that the winners are listed in the issue of The Lady out this week (dated 14th Sept). I haven't had a chance to go out and look at the magazine today. It's a shame they took down the webpages relating to the competition, and didn't post any updates. Several people contacted me asking if I knew what was going on. Anyway, if you haven't been notified of winning I think you can consider your story free to send elswhere now.

2. Here's one for all Bronte fans - the Bronte Museum in Haworth is running a literary competition. There are categories for short stories, poems and essays. £14 entrance fee, £500 top prize, closing date 31st January 2011. Here's the link, scroll down for the competition details. Thanks to Kath for passing this on.

3. And here's something for all those living in the Midlands - with thanks to Helen for news of the Warwick Words festival and the Birmingham Book festival:

For those of you living in and around the Midlands (and there are 5 million, according to Google!), don’t neglect your ‘local’ literary festivals, coming up in October! It’s inspiring to listen to your favourite authors (or even some ‘new’ ones) speak about their writing and how they got published and there are plenty of events to get involved with, from poetry slams to writing workshops, so why not get away from your desk for an afternoon and mix with the literati? (Don’t forget your notebook!)

Warwick Words (1st – 10th October). This is the ninth Warwick Words Festival and it’s bigger than ever, with lots of writing workshops and talks. There’s even a literary ‘speed read’ which is apparently ‘like speed dating but instead of making a love connection you get three minutes to promote your favourite book, poem, author or poet’. Sounds like a fun way to meet people, discuss books and who knows where it may lead! If not to a new soul mate, or the setting up of a readers’ group - then maybe an idea for a WOMAG short story?!
http://www.warwickwords.co.uk/

The Birmingham Book Festival (5th – 21st October) includes writing workshops on ‘Family Writing’, ‘Flash Noir Fiction’, ‘Short Stories’ and ‘Finding Your Blogging Voice’ (and more!) as well as some free events. It’s worth checking out the website:
http://www.birminghambookfestival.org/ There’s also the opportunity to ‘volunteer’ and possibly attend events for free. If you have some spare time, a passion for books and enjoy talking to people, you could be just what the Festival needs. If you would like to be involved please email joanne@birminghambookfestival.org

4. And for those of you in the south, news of new courses from Della Galton:

Introduction to Creative Writing – Saturday 25 September, 2010
This is a course designed to take the complete beginner through the basics of writing. We will look at short stories, features and poetry. Students will be given the chance to write and gain constructive feedback on their work. A relaxed, informal course designed to inspire confidence.

Kick Start your Creativity – Saturday 16 October 2010
Are you feeling jaded about your writing? Would you like to kick-start your creativity? Whether you want to restart an old writing project, or are simply looking for inspiration to begin something new, this course can help.
Through a series of workshops we will look at fresh ways to bring your words to life.
(Suitable for beginners and experienced writers)

Both courses held in Bournemouth. Email Della for more information or to book.




Monday, 13 September 2010

Forward

I have deleted the post I put up here yesterday, about the Forward Press competitions. Unfortunately I now realise this company is little more than a vanity press. They do not ask for money to publish your work, but they do accept almost everything sent to them, then publish anthologies crammed with poems, with very little editing. As far as I can work out, they make their money by selling the books to the contributors, and in the case of their children's competitions, the proud parents.

Forward Press should not be confused with the prestigious and well-respected Forward Prize for Poetry.

Thursday, 9 September 2010

Pakistan

Remember the 100 Stories for Haiti project? Well, its founder Greg McQueen is now starting a similar project for Pakistan. Donate a story, buy some copies of the anthology, do what you can to advertise it. Every little helps.

Here's Greg's full message - please pass it on!

Once again I have found myself in the position where I cannot ignore the need to do something. This time it is Pakistan ... The United Nations estimates that twenty million people have lost their homes as a result of the flooding that started last July. Add to this the thousands who have already lost their lives, and the thousands who *will* lose their lives because of famine and disease .. And well, it is once again time to do something!

100 Stories for Haiti has raised about £4000 for the Red Cross Haiti Earthquake Appeal. I am honoured and proud of the effort put in by writers and readers in supporting the project ... So, let's do it again!

50 Stories for Pakistan:
I am putting together an anthology of 50 stories, each no more than 500 words. Any subject or genre is acceptable, however, no stories with any violence, death, or mass destruction.

If you would like to contribute to this new project, please visit my new website for details: http://www.facebook.com/l/b485auw9kJOogxSY_IrVvn8Oepw;www.bigbadmedia.com/50-stories-for-pakistan/

Thanks!

Warmest regards
Greg


Visit Greg's site, linked above, for full details. The important bits are - 500 words maximum and deadline 19th September. Stories should be sent to storiesforpakistan@gmail.com . No theme but avoid tales of death and destruction. All proceeds go to Red Cross Pakistan Floods Appeal.

Wednesday, 8 September 2010

Catherine Howard competition 2

A while back I posted about a competition being run and judged by womag writer Linda Lewis (aka Catherine Howard).

The results are now up on her website, here. Linda says she was delighted with the standard of entries and enjoyed reading them all. And I'm particularly delighted that the winner is someone who attends the same writing classes with Della Galton as me! Well done Emma - I remember you reading an earlier draft of your winning story in class one evening, and I was as stunned by it then as I am now, reading the final version on Linda's website.

Well, Linda enjoyed running this competition so much she's organising another one. Details are here .
Entry fee is £5. 1st prize at least £100 plus £50 to a charity of your choice (which I think is a lovely idea). No theme. Closing date 30th November. Linda also offers optional critiques at £5 which is a bargain.

Good luck to all who enter. I do love it when I recognise winners' names!

Monday, 6 September 2010

News round-up

Several bits and pieces for you today - sorry to those who've sent me news snippets which I've been slow getting round to posting. I'm too immersed in the new writing project I'm afraid! Anyway, here's a round-up for you.

1. A while back I posted about a non-fiction competition run by HowTo. Well, the competition's been judged and the winning article can now be seen online here.

2. The Mills and Boon New Voices competition is now in full swing and the first entries to be submitted can be read online here and commented on. Entries must be uploaded by 22nd September so there is still plenty of time if you want to have a go. Good luck to all who've entered!

3. Thanks to Cathy Sibley for sending me a link to this site, which accepts travel guides and articles by freelance writers. Could be some interesting opportunities there for the non-fiction writers amongst you?

4. If you like writing short, really short fiction, take a look at this flash fiction competition, brought to my attention by Eddie Walsh. Max length 300 words, and you could win £60.

5. Or take a look at SlingInk, where a competition is running from now till December, judged by Nik Perring, whose book of flash fiction is current favourite loo book chez womagwriter. (That's a compliment, by the way!)

6. Finally, the Chiswick Book Festival is on from 17th-19th September, and boasts a line-up of speakers which reads like the who's who of the writing world. So if you're within reach of London, it could be worth a visit.


Thanks to all who have sent me these news pieces. I'm well aware none of them are directly related to writing fiction for women's magazines, which is traditionally the main focus of this blog. But there doesn't seem to be a great deal of news from the womag world lately. Also as the number of womag markets dwindles, I think many writers are branching out into longer fiction, non-fiction or competitions. So if you find posts like this useful, let me know. Or if you'd prefer me to stick to the world of womag, tell me!

Sunday, 29 August 2010

Workshop with Kate Walker

My lovely friend Sally went to a workshop last week with prolific Mills and Boon writer, Kate Walker, and very kindly wrote up her notes for this blog. If you are wanting to write longer fiction, womag stories to serials to pocket novels to M&B romances seems a natural progression. Many thanks to both Kate and Sally for this very informative article. If you are inspired by this and want more, do visit Kate's website and consider purchasing her book, A 12-Point Guide to Writing Romance.





Kate Walker’s Workshop

I promised womag I would write a report of my recent visit to Kate Walker’s M&B workshop in Doncaster. As we know many of you who write for womags are also interested in writing romantic fiction, it seemed appropriate. (I met a couple of womag fans there too. Hi girls!)
Kate Walker has been writing for M&B for 25 years, and is one of their top-selling authors. If you read her novels, such as The Good Greek Wife?, you will clearly see why. She is a writer at the top of her craft. That after 25 years she can still write a novel that has me weeping into my tea is, I think, proof of that.

As I don’t want to infringe on any copyrights, I’ve done this in my own words as much as possible. So if I’ve misunderstood or misrepresented Kate in any way that is entirely my fault and not down to her excellent teaching. I should also say that everything I say here is said much better in Kate’s book, 12 Point Guide to Writing Romance (Studymates – ISBN 978-1-84285-131-9 – this book is out of print at the moment as it’s undergoing a revamp but I bought a copy at Kate’s workshop and it is definitely worth having). Also these notes aren’t necessarily in the exact order Kate gave them to us. They’re in the order I remember them, though I have tried to stress her most important points.


Kate’s started with these essential points:

TANR – There Are No Rules

IAITE – It’s All In The Execution

Don’t Imitate – Innovate – in other words, don’t try and write like other M&B writers you’ve read. Use your own voice.

Give the readers what they want – The reason M&B novels are still selling over 100 years after they first started is that they give the readers what they want, and if you want to be an M&B author, you too need to give the readers what they want. This may also mean, assuming you’re lucky to be picked up by M&B, that you will also have to be willing to change with the times, and tailor your novels to the current requirements.

Do read M&B novels, and lots from different imprints, to get an idea of the many different types of story there are.

Kate mentioned those who dismiss M&B romances as ‘formulaic’ (and especially those who think that one writer programmes a computer, churning out novels under different names!). Whilst she accepts that different imprints have different expectations, this is because the readers pick them up expecting a particular type of story. The reason M&B is so popular is because they know what to give their readers. But there is no formula that will create the perfect Mills and Boon novel. However, she advises that there is a framework around which all the books are built.
Heroine+
Hero+
Conflict+
“getting to know you”+
Lowest point (black moment)+
Resolution+
Happy ending
= Romance


Kate defined: ‘What Is A Romance?’

“A romance novel is the story of a man and a woman who, while solving a problem, discover that the love they feel for each other is the sort that comes along only once in a lifetime – leading to a permanent commitment and a happy ending.”
She made a distinction between a novel that contains a romantic element, and a novel that is all about the romance. M&B novels tend to be all about the romance, though there are some lines such as historical and intrigue where there is another storyline running alongside the romance. These tend to be 70k words, whereas the M&B modern romance lines are only 50k, and are predominantly about the romance.

Kate also said that she chose the word ‘problem’ rather than conflict, because some new writers make the mistake of thinking ‘conflict’ means arguments all the time. She discussed a regular newbie error, where the hero and heroine are screaming at each other all the way through, and only decide they’re in love right at the end. Or where the hero is an utter pig for most of the time, and then only in the last chapter(s) do we realise he’s a nice guy really and that everything he’s done has been for a reason. She stressed the importance of ‘getting to know you time’, where the conflicts are perhaps put aside for a short time, and the hero and heroine begin to learn that their first impression of this person might have been wrong.
She listed the four key elements in order of importance:

A man and a woman (character)
A problem which threatens to keep them apart (conflict)
A once-in-a-lifetime love.
A permanent commitment and happy ending (HEA)

Kate says that character is the most important, and that any conflict must arise from the characters, not vice versa. The hero and heroine realise they are the love of each other’s lives, and there must be a happy ending. It is what the readers of M&B novels expect when they pick up the novels. Again it’s something that’s worked for M&B for over a hundred years, so shouldn’t be knocked.

But it is the characters that matter the most. The heroine needs to be someone the reader (mostly female) will relate to, and the hero a man the reader would want to fall in love with. However, she stressed that whilst the hero may often be described as tall, dark and handsome (apparently they don’t like blonde heroes in some parts of South America), it’s worth remembering that he is being seen through the heroine’s eyes. So he may not be the tallest, most handsome man on earth. But to her he is. I was able to give an example of this from a Penny Jordan novel I’d recently read (The Sicilian Boss’s Mistress), where the hero is terrified the heroine will be attracted to his elder brother. When the heroine meets the elder brother, she concedes he is very handsome, but it is the hero who fulfils her spiritually, intellectually, sexually etc etc. Therefore the hero is the most handsome man in the world for her.

Setting is also important, but Kate says not to make the mistake that all M&B novels have to be set in exotic places. She gave the example from one of her novels where the very rich hero from a tropical climate is stuck in a cottage in the British countryside, where it’s tipping down with rain. What’s important is the effect the setting has on the characters. Are they out of their element? Are they trapped where they are? Even the most luxurious palace in the world can seem like hell when someone is going through an emotional crisis.

Novels must have a beginning, middle and end, and when submitting the first three chapters of a novel (or a chapter for the New Voices competition) it is a good idea to have an ending in mind. Kate gave the example of one writer who was asked for the full manuscript after M&B read her first three chapters. Ten years later M&B are still waiting. As Kate says, what a missed opportunity!

The beginning needs a good hook, and you should never end a chapter with ‘She turned the light out and went to bed’, as this is exactly what your reader will do. End each chapter with a cliffhanger, a closing remark, or anything that is going to want to make the reader carry on reading, even if she knows she has to get up with the kids in the morning.

Emotion is essential. Or as one M&B editor put it ‘emotion, emotion, emotion’. Again as with the conflict, this does not necessarily mean the heroine weeping and wailing all the time, or the couple arguing.

Dialogue is essential. Kate warned against great swathes of unbroken narrative. Narrative tends to slow the pace, whereas dialogue picks the pace up. She suggested a ratio of around 60% dialogue to 40% narrative.

Kate discussed the difference between the 'pivotal moment' (as asked for in the New Voices comp) and the 'black moment'. She explained they could be the same, but for her the pivotal moment is the point at which things change, so in a romance this might mean the heroine realising that far from disliking the hero, she's actually in love with him. The black moment is the moment at which everything seems lost. Perhaps she believes he doesn't love her and that they're never going to have a future together.

We had the chance to ask Kate some questions, and one I asked her was about my trio of sexy northern brothers. Kate kindly suggested I waited until M&B were interested in publishing me before I did that, as such series tend to be by invitation, or something you can pitch when you are established. However, and this is an important point, if you do pitch a series, they want the whole lot at once. This is because they’ll release them at one a month, as readers don’t like to be kept waiting ages for them. So for your first submission, or your competition entry, stick to a stand alone title.



Writing Types - M&B provided a handout listing various types of writer, or traps to fall into. Do you recognise yourself amongst this lot?

The Free Spirit - who has no idea on what her story is or where she's going when she begins her book.

The Procrastinator - who 'writers herself in'. She spends two or three chapters unfolding a long, rambling back-story and setting the scene, and there's no romance or hero-heroine action in sight.

Ms No-Man's-Land who doesn't introduce the hero until chapter two ... or even later!

She Who Saves The Best For Last - and who clings to the assumption that readers (and editors) will be understanding and hang in there until Chapter Four or Five when her romance really gets going.

Me-Me-Me uses lots of descriptive narrative, choosing to tell the story and so inserting herself between the readers and characters, rather than letting characters speak for themselves.

The Party Animal - includes loads of minor characters - but who are the hero and heroine?

The Show Stopper thinks of a great opening line or paragraph and then ... her book goes downhill from there!


Many, many thanks, Sally, for this wonderful write-up. If Kate Walker ever heads south I'll be first to sign up for one of her workshops, which sound very inspiring. And I think I've been all of those writing types, at different times!

Saturday, 14 August 2010

Facebook experiment

Don't know what you all think of Facebook - I know many writers are on there. I have a Facebook page: I signed up a few years back when my brother-in-law posted photos of my new nephew online and I just HAD to see them... But I've never really got into it - blogging and the couple of online communities I belong to are enough for me. Or maybe I'm just a bit too old for it...

Anyway, author Nicola Morgan is running an experiment re social networking as a way of getting more people to know about her books. See her post here on the experiment, and if you're a FB fan, consider joining her page here.

Thursday, 12 August 2010

A word from Henry

(It's blog takeover day, over at Sally Q's blog. I wasn't going to take part, having barely caught up after my holiday, but my great-great-great-grandfather has other ideas and wants to write something. So, I've given him a crash-course in computers and typing, and am handing my laptop over to him for a while. Not quite sure what he'll write about, but we'll see....)


I have been told many people will read my Diary, if I write it on this Tablet by tapping the buttons marked with the Alphabet. I admit, I do not understand how it all works, but as I press the buttons the letters appear. I'm told too, that others with a similar Tablet will also be able to see my words. It seems an odd way to Communicate, but I suppose things have changed since I died, in 1855.

I have been brought back to Life. A woman who calls herself my great-great-great-Granddaughter has been rummaging about in some kind of Library which she calls the Inter-Net. She seems unduly interested in all the goings-on of my Life. She wants to know who my parents were, my poor Father who died when I was Six, my Mother the daughter of a Baronet. She has traced my Brother Edward's military career (he won a medal at Waterloo, you know). She has discovered that I was in the army in India, employed by the East India Company. She found out about my disastrous marriage to Caroline, and my later Happiness with Jemima. She says that in her time, no one would care that the grandson of a Baronet set up home with a servant-girl. It seems some things at least may have changed for the Better. (Though in my day, my relationships with both Caroline and Jemima were frowned upon by my family. Indeed, I was passed over by my Uncle's Will, and it was my younger brother John who inherited the family Estate, not me. But I am no longer bitter. I knew Love, which John never did.)

The more she discovers about me, the further I come to Life.

She is writing a Novel about me. I am flattered, though I am having to Bare my Soul to her, to fill in what she calls the Blanks, where the Inter-Net cannot tell her what really happened. I am having to relive all the major Episodes of my Life.

Recently she wrote about the time Caroline and I went up to Cissbury Ring, not long before I found I had to marry her. Readers, take pity on me. She wrote about our most intimate Moments, and left us there, in the Bushes, while she went off to Spain on Holiday. It was a long time to keep going. I was very glad to see her Home again, and already I feel heartily tired of Caroline, though we are not yet Married!

She says Caroline has some News for me when next we meet. I think I know what that will be, and am steeling myself to once more do Right by her. If only I could do things differently this time. But my Writer says we must stick to the Known Facts.

Though, would I really do anything different? Not if it meant foregoing my twenty happy Years and thirteen Children with my love, Jemima, no.

I will stop there. My Writer says she needs the Tablet back to begin the next chapter. I would lend her a pen, but she says she writes best with Lap, Top and Wine. Farewell, unknown Readers. I hope to see you again between the covers of a Book.


Good grief, Henry, don't give away the entire plot! And I really must speak to you about the changing fashions in capitalisation.

Snippets

Hi all - back from camping in Spain and pleased to say we had excellent weather this year and I even managed a slight tan! Have not yet had time to download the photos though. We came home to a housefull of guests - in-laws who'd been using our house as a holiday home for a week. They've gone now but I still haven't had time to unpack or sort out the camping gear, which is strewn around the house. Roll on the weekend...!

Well, there were a few emails in my inbox asking me to pass on news and links so here you are:

1. If you struggle to find good names for your characters, and/or would like to support a very worthwhile cause allowing young Ethiopian girls to regain their lives, then follow this link to Lynn Hackles's blog, where for £2 you can buy a spreadsheet of popular names from 1860 to the current day. Got to be worth supporting!

3. For the romance writers amongst you, Gina Rossi passed on this link to the M&B New Voices competition.

3. From Gavin McCloskey, news of a free competition, raising awareness of depression and related issues:

Circalit And Little Episodes Get Writers to Open Up About Depression With Free Short Story Competition.
July, 29th, 2010 - Today Circalit, the UK’s premier social networking platform for writers, announced a free short story competition on the theme of “Broken Identities” with Little Episodes, an independent publisher and production company who raise awareness for those suffering from depression and addiction through the arts. The competition is peer reviewed, meaning that the public can read the submissions and vote for their favourites. By making all the submissions public, Little Episodes and Circalit hope to encourage writers to open up about mental health issues. Writers can submit their work by creating a free account at www.circalit.com and posting their submissions up online. The deadline for submissions is 15th Sept 2010. Celebrated author and critic, Kasia Boddy, will judge the final winner from a short list of candidates. Kasia Boddy is author of numerous books including The American Short Story Since 1950, and she is currently editing an anthology of the top 25 American short stories of all time for Penguin Classics.

Little Episodes is a growing phenomenon in London, hosting events where people can display their art, play music, recite poetry and prose, or perform stand up comedy to raise awareness for depression. They are currently producing the second volume of their anthology series, “An Expression of Depression” where the winning short story will be published. Actress Sadie Frost, a contributor to Little Episodes anthology, said of the project, “I just thought, what a great thing to do, to channel that energy into something positive... I was in and out of hospital for a couple of years. The one thing that kept me alive at that time was writing.”
Lucie Barât, Founder of Little Episodes, commented, “We’re really excited about the idea of doing a peer reviewed competition and we love Circalit’s approach. With Circalit, it’s not just about having a single winner, it’s about getting the public involved by reading submissions and voting for their favourites. Circalit and Little Episodes have the same ethos, we want to give talented artists who haven’t had the break that they deserve a platform from which to make themselves heard and get some exposure. We both hope that this will be a good opportunity to raise awareness for mental health issues through art.”

Kasia Boddy, Senior Lecturer in English Literature at University College London, commented “I think this is a very worthwhile project and I’m glad to be a part of it. This collaboration between Circalit and Little Episodes demonstrates the strengths of the internet as a social and cultural resource with real potential to change lives.”

Circalit, which started life as a site where screenwriters could showcase their work to film studios, has already hosted free competitions with companies such as the BBC and Hollywood producer, Julie Richardson. It’s social networking features make it an invaluable resource for writers looking to make industry contacts and it is integrated with Facebook, giving talented writers the means to spread their wings and go viral across the internet.
Raoul Tawadey, CEO and founder of Circalit, said, “We’re very happy to be working with Little Episodes, who do a fantastic job destigmatizing depression and encouraging self-expression through creativity. We’re proud that Circalit can be used as a platform to bring these issues to life, and we hope to discover some bright new literary talent. This is a great opportunity for writers to gain exposure, so I encourage everyone to read the short stories and vote for your favourites.”

If you are interested in interviewing Raoul Tawadey, CEO of Circalit, or Lucie Barât, founder of Little Episodes, please contact:

Robert Tucker
Communications Director
www.circalit.com
rob@circalit.com


Thanks all, hope your writing's going well this summer and please keep these news items coming!

Friday, 23 July 2010

Two Weeks Holiday!

Hurray! We're off to sunny Spain tomorrow, camping near Santander. Hoping for better weather than we had in Wales last year .

See y'all when I get back! Don't forget to keep sending me lots of snippets of news and articles while I'm away, so I'll have lots to post up when I'm back!

New romance novel critique service

Liz Bailey sent me this, which might interest those of you working on romance novels:

Author Elizabeth Bailey is now offering a mentoring service to help unpublished novelists achieve publication standard. Liz's credits include 18 historical romances with Harlequin Mills & Boon and a modern mainstream lite lit novel that made the Booker list in 2005. She has read and critiqued for the Romantic Novelists' Association New Writers' Scheme as well as running annual arts festival workshops and seminars for over 15 years. Actress, theatre director, playwright and experienced teacher as well as novelist, Liz is now doing editorial assessments for writers alongside writing historical crime. More details on her services from Liz at eabailey@tiscali.co.uk

And while we are on the subject of Mills & Boon, note they have a new competition out. See here for details. Open to all unagented writers who've not yet published a novel.

So dig out your romance, get Liz to critique it, then send it off to the M&B competition! And good luck!

Wednesday, 21 July 2010

People's Friend - no more contributor copies

Bad news, folks - People's Friend will no longer be sending out contributor copies. They've put this decision down to the difficult economic climate.

Regular contributors can get a discounted subscription rate; also PF will email a PDF copy of your piece as it will appear in the magazine, if you ask for it. But no more posted free copies.

With thanks to Elizabeth for forwarding on this piece of news.

Sunday, 18 July 2010

Assorted...

Write from life
Lynne Hackles is running a competition to win a copy of the second edition of her How To book, Writing From Life. Go to her blog here and then follow the link to her website to find out how to enter. I have a copy of the first edition, and it's one of the most inspiring writing books I've come across. (To my shame I never got round to reviewing it on here. Shame on you, womagwriter. Shame!) Anyway, the new edition has a gorgeous purple cover, so even if you don't win the competition, it's worth buying to brighten up your bookcase, and liven up your writing.

More on Pocket Novels
Over at The Literary Project, Gemma Noon has handily pulled together Sally Q's top tips for writing pocket novels. Definitely worth taking a look. My Weekly are actively looking for new writers of pocket novels at the moment. Although the pay isn't huge, you can most likely sell the novel again to a large print publisher, then enjoy many years worth of public lending rights payments. Check out Sally's other posts on pocket novels, too.

Wacky site which might inspire you
I really like dipping into the How To Be A Retronaut site now and again. Latest post is 15 of the world's most wacky museums. How about a visit The International Banana Museum in California, anyone? There has to be a story idea in each of the museums featured...
I also particularly loved an older post, showing colour film of 1920s London.

Friday, 16 July 2010

How To... win £200 for an article

Here's an interesting site - How To books available free to read online, including some on writing which I really must investigate more thoroughly. And they are expanding - accepting How To articles on any subject for publication online. There is payment - what you get depends on how popular your subject area is, but the payment should keep coming each month once your article is online.

They're running a competition - all articles submitted during the month of July are automatically entered. The one judged the best wins £200, in addition to any money it earns from being published on the site.

I know several readers of this blog write articles as well as fiction. If you can write a How To, why not submit it to the site? Looks like a great opportunity, if you're an expert in something. Hey, you're all experts at womag writing - there's a start!

Thursday, 15 July 2010

My Weekly guidelines July-Sept 2010

With many thanks to those who forwarded these on to me!




MY WEEKLY GUIDELINES NO. 13. ( July 14 – September 8)


FICTION ( for OCTOBER/NOVEMBER/DECEMBER ISSUES)


Hello and thanks for your continued interest in writing for My Weekly.
As I’m sure many of you know, for the past year I have been the sole member of the Fiction buying team. It has undoubtedly been as great a challenge to you as to me. And I can only thank you very much indeed for your patience.


Don’t despair if you haven’t heard from me in the past 6 months, please believe me I haven’t forgotten you. On the contrary, I’m working hard to give you the feedback all my writers need and deserve. It’s essential to produce the best My Weekly fiction.


Please read the notes below which are printed in bold as they are very important to you and me!


Maggie Seed, our My Weekly Pocket Novels Editor, is still looking for novels so don’t forget to read her words of wisdom after your usual category listings. There’s also some info on Features.




PLEASE NOTE!!


Please get back to me if your manuscript isn’t acknowledged within two days. Sometimes my mailbox closes when I receive large files and I am then unaware of manuscripts sent.


Can I please remind everyone that I can consider only one manuscript per month from authors who have already had acceptances from My Weekly.


Email, postal addresses, phone numbers etc should be marked on the manuscript or Word document


Please pay attention to the story lengths as they are important


For your manuscript to be considered, it’s imperative you mark prominently on your envelope or email into which category your story falls and how many words it is. If you don’t do this, I’m afraid your work can’t be considered.


Our author box has changed. Can you please now give me 30 words about your inspiration? Please include this on your manuscript or Word document.


Do remember NOT to include any formatting such as tabs or page breakers in your Word document.


Lastly, I am not looking for any more sci-fi themes in any of the categories, at the moment.


Happy writing!


Liz Smith
(Commissioning Fiction Editor)






PRESENTATION


As we now edit on screen, please take a moment to check your manuscript and ensure that:


Double quotes (“…”) are used for dialogue throughout
You have avoided excessive use of ellipses (…) and exclamation marks
There are only SINGLE spaces between words and sentences (please eliminate all unnecessary spaces)
To enable you to see exactly where spaces and new paragraphs occur on a Word Document, go to the tool bar at the top of your screen and find the button with the “backwards” P. It will say Show/Hide when you move your cursor over it. Clicking on this will bring up these “invisibles”.
If you are emailing your story, make sure it is as a Word attachment and not in the body of the email
You are enclosing only a SINGLE MANUSCRIPT, not several at once, and that your story is in a standard plain type of 12pt.
All manuscripts must be typewritten, with accurate wordage supplied.




How Do I Submit?
Please send stories by email to lsmith@dcthomson.co.uk
or by post to: The Commissioning Fiction Editor, My Weekly, D.C.Thomson & Co. Ltd., 80 Kingsway East, Dundee DD4 8SL.


What Are The Required Categories?
You’ll find our present requirements overleaf, not only the types but the lengths.


Will The Categories Remain The Same?
No, they will change as our stocks fill up in some areas and deplete in others. Therefore, if you have an idea that doesn’t suit our present requirements, don’t despair - it may do so in the future. However, please be guided by the wordage mentioned.


How Will I Know When The Categories Have Changed?
There is an expiry date at the top of the first page of these guidelines. You can then request our latest guidelines by post (please enclose an S.A.E.) or by email
Well, here are the details you’re anxiously awaiting, so get your thinking caps on and good luck!






DO’S √ DON’TS X
 Display clear intent X Use black humour
 Be uplifting, have message of hope X Describe graphic violence
 Offer different points of view X Construct stand-up humour
 Have strong central characters X Rely on continuous one-liners
 Be evocative and atmospheric X Include overt sexuality or
 Use light and shade smuttiness
 Use natural, modern dialogue X Rely on formulaic predictability
 Portray relationships realistically X Construct contrived storylines
 Introduce humour where appropriate X Overlook punctuation/spelling
Try to move the reader and grammar
 Uphold family values X Use unrealistic dialogue
 Check all facts are accurate for a specific age group
 Set stories in other countries X Portray one-dimensional
characters
X Use clichéd situations and dialogue




THESE ARE THE TYPES OF STORIES WE NEED:


I am looking for a limited amount of Xmas/New Year stories, in all the categories, especially twist in the tale and coffee break ­– light-hearted as well as moving and heart warming (no bereavement themes, thank you!)


I have enough Hallowe’en stories in stock, but no November 5th ones


Can you please mark Xmas/New Year/Guy Fawkes’ stories clearly on your envelope or covering letter for priority reading.






LONG READS (2,500-3,000)


- Emotionally engaging
- Light and shade
- Strong continuous plot
- Intrigue
- Interwoven plot lines
- Complex relationships
- Recognisable people in recognisable situations
- Escapist
- Adventure
- Balance of surprise vs expectations


Twist In The Tale (between 1400 and 1600 words) Your Inspiration
I’m particularly looking for light-hearted themes, or very moving


- “clues” must not be misleading
- positive, pleasant outcome
- characters well rounded, need not all be likeable
- revenge must not be vindictive
- a nice surprise instead of a “con”
- ensure crime themes have emotional engagement
and some sympathetic characters.








Coffee Break (700 Words Only) Your Inspiration
I’m particularly looking for light-hearted or very moving themes


- include a frisson of excitement, hint of passion
- character studies
- unusual, offbeat subject monologues,
- humorous
- conversation – can be all dialogue
- a moment in time
- pulse racing, without being sexually explicit




Romance (1200 words + 2000 words) Your Inspiration
I’m looking for light-hearted or very romantic themes


- believable characters
- unusual theme/situations
- try not to be too predictable
- doesn’t have to have a standard happy ending
- engaging dialogue
- must still be hopeful
- inspiring
- light and shade work well
- try to ring the changes with themes
- convincing emotions












FEATURES


My Weekly features are written on a commission-only basis. If you have an idea you’d like to pitch to us, please email the following:
Health – Karen Byrom kbyrom@dcthomson.co.uk
Celebrity, General Features – Susan Anderson sanderson@dcthomson.co.uk
Real Life – Sally Rodger srodger@dcthomson.co.uk
Fashion/beauty/diet - Audrey Patterson apatterson@dcthomson.co.uk
Travel – Gladys Sturrock gsturrock@dcthomson.co.uk
Cookery – Alison Graves agraves@dcthomson.co.uk







MY WEEKLY POCKET NOVELS GUIDELINES
Please address: For the Attention of Maggie Seed
Email: mseed@dcthomson.co.uk


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.


Plot: 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.


Presentation
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. No tabs or page breakers.
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

Tuesday, 13 July 2010

Salt Publishing

I was interested to read on The Literary Project earlier today that Salt Publishing are planning to start a new imprint for romances. It's to be edited by poet and author Jane Holland whose mother and sister were both romance writers, so we can assume she knows what she's doing!



But Salt, like so many other independent small publishers, struggles to keep going. Last year (or was it the year before?) they launched the Just One Book initiative, asking everyone who wishes to see small publishers survive to buy just one book from them. Ideally direct from the publisher. Since then, I've made a point of buying books from small publishers and have read some gems (see my brief reviews on my books blog).



This year, Salt are 10 years old and still feeling the pinch of the recession. So they've launched the Just One More Book initiative. If you care, buy a book and pass the message on. Especially if you've a romance novel tucked away in a drawer that you are thinking of submitting to them some day...

Six months on...

The 100 Stories for Haiti project has raised thousands for the Red Cross. The book is still available to buy, and the need to raise more money and more awareness is as strong as ever.

See here for the background and a link to where you can buy the book. Bi-weekly podcasts about the project are here.

Or just make a donation direct to the Red Cross, here.

Saturday, 10 July 2010

Positive Words

From Sandra James, news of a non-paying Australian market which may be of interest to some of you. Here's her email to me:



Like you, I have been writing stories for women’s magazines for a few years although not as prolifically. I’ve had stories in My Weekly, Woman’s Day (Aus), That’s Life, online and in literary journals and until a year ago, when I moved house, was teaching several writing groups at community centres here in Australia. In 2002, I realised many of my students and fellow writers were becoming discouraged at the limited publication opportunities and decided to start my own magazine for writers. I was a single parent with limited funds, so raised the initial cash selling crafts, plants etc at local markets. The result – Positive Words magazine – has been published every month since November 2002 featuring stories, poems and articles from writers all over Australia as well as the UK, Spain, Luxembourg, USA, New Zealand and Africa. It is sold by subscription and only just manages to cover printing and postage costs (I don’t draw any wage etc), but is hanging in there and providing a great publication opportunity for writers. I have seen some great results, especially when new writers are first published and, of course, from my own experience it all adds up and helps to build confidence. (Hence the Positive - it's all about doing something positive instead of leaving work on a drawer or on the computer.)

I thought some of your followers might be interested. Unfortunately, there is no money for payment but published contributors receive a complimentary copy of magazine. Of course, subscriptions are very, very welcome but contributors do not have to be subscribers although subscriptions help to keep it going, which hasn’t been easy.

Sandra James
Editor: Positive Words magazine
PO Box 798
Heathcote 3523
Victoria Australia

Email enquiries are always welcome at positivewordsmagazine@live.com.au but stories must be sent by post.

International subscription rates for POSITIVE WORDS
Single issue……………$8.00 (Australian) includes postage
Six month subscription………$45.00 (Australian) includes postage
Twelve month subscription……….$88.00 (Australian) includes postage
Sample copy........3 x International Reply Coupons(available from Post Offices)
# For gift subscriptions please send the relevant amount together with address and details of the occasion (birthday, Christmas etc) and the relevant issues with a suitable card will be forwarded to the recipient.
# Payment should be via bank draft drawn on an Australian bank and made out to Sandra James or Rainbow Press (not POSITIVE WORDS). Some people choose to send cash and lthough I have not had any problems over the past eight years, it is at your own risk.
## Alternatively, subscriptions etc can be organised by direct deposit. Please contact me at the address below if you would like to use this option.

Selection Criteria
Positive Words publishes poetry, short stories and articles. Preference is given to poems up to one page and stories and articles up to 1000 words. Please remember that Positive Words is a family magazine and submissions should reflect this (i.e. no bad language or explicit sex scenes). Submissions should be in hard copy first although an email copy will be requested, once accepted, where possible. Please include an addressed envelope and IRC for return and notification. (or an email address)
Positive Words magazine – Sandra James (Editor), PO Box 798, Heathcote 3523, Victoria, Australia. positivewordsmagazine@live.com.au



I like the idea of providing a publishing opportunity for new writers - we all need to start somewhere. Thanks for this, Sandra, and best of luck with the magazine. You've done well to keep it going since 2002 - long may it continue!

Short Story Tutorial

Sally Z's short story tutorial continues with part 5 on Words, words and more words. Click here for the full set so far. If you're a word-freak (and aren't we all, being writers?) you might also like to check out World Wide Words and sign up for their weekly newsletter.

Thursday, 8 July 2010

Cosy Crime

Sally Q has written a post here on the dos and don'ts of writing cosy crime stories and novellas.

As cosy crime stories are required by most of the womags, it's a must-read for all!

Monday, 5 July 2010

Womag gossip

1. With thanks to Norman for this - it seems Liz Smith at My Weekly might be finally getting on top of submissions, after what's been a tough year for her, being left as the only fiction editor there. She accepted one of his stories only three days after he subbed it, which has to be some kind of record! She is still considering stories sent months ago as well, so don't worry if you haven't heard. Just be patient (which I suspect may be the most important trait for any womag writer).

2. While on the subject of My Weekly, I note I failed to pass on the last set of guidelines. I believe they are only valid till next week anyway, so there's not much point posting them here now. Please, if you receive the next set soon, send me a copy for the blog! I'm not actively chasing guideline updates myself any more. (I don't mind getting hundreds of emails forwarding the guidelines - it'll make me feel loved if nothing else.) Note My Weekly are sadly still not able to accept submisions from writers they have not previously bought from.

3. With thanks to Patsy - it seems Ireland's Own is a bit swamped with material at the moment, so only the most outstanding stories will stand a chance of being accepted, and even then it'll be a long wait to publication. Probably best giving that market a miss for a while.

4. Finally, do go look at Patsy's blog, where she often posts details of competitions of interest to romance or womag writers. She's also a brilliant photographer, and you might find story inspiration in the photos on her blog.

Sunday, 4 July 2010

The Lady/M&B - National Trust competition

With thanks to Linda who sent me these details -

Mills and Boon are running a compeition in conjunction with The Lady magazine and The National Trust.

The theme is to create a romantic short story using a National Trust venue as a setting. The deadline is 31 July and the wordcount is 1500-2000 words (max 2000). The winning entry will be published in The Lady and the runner up will receive a hamper of books worth £200. Entry and competition terms and conditions can be found on The Lady website.

(For overseas blog readers, the competition is open to anyone worldwide. The National Trust is a charity dedicated to preserving the best bits of British heritage, whether it's a stately home or a beautiful piece of countryside. Take a look at their website to find an inspirational setting for your story.)

Updated 7th July to correct the details re maximum word count, thanks Ruth!