Friday, 30 April 2010

Strictly Writing Award

The first shortlisted story for the Strictly Writing Award is now on their blog - see here. They'll be choosing a story a month to showcase, and the final winner gets £300.

This month's story is beautiful, written directly from the heart. Do go and read it. Very well done to the author!

Wednesday, 28 April 2010

People's Friend Story Collection guidelines

Courtesy of Sally Q, whose had recent amazing success with My Weekly pocket novels, here are the guidelines for People's Friend pocket novels:

The People's Friend Story Collection is a satellite publication of the popular weekly magazine. It offers in one volume of 130 pages the kind of story that would normally be serialised over several weeks in The Friend.

Thus we are looking for stories with a strong emotional situation as their central theme, peopled by believable characters who the reader cares about, sympathises and empathises with, and roots for in whatever crises they may face. The characters are almost more important than the plotline. As the People's Friend themselves say in their own guidelines, the reader will remember good characters long after they have forgotten other details.

The hero or heroine are generally in their twenties or early thirties, although often the heroine of the story is in fact the mother figure who we feel for as she charts the tricky waters that being the matriarch of the modern family can entail. But when we talk about a modern family and the troubles they may face, we're talking in terms of broken love affairs, overcoming a bad patch in a marriage, lost jobs, disappointed dreams; we are not looking for drugs or sex or anything that could possibly be described as sordid or offensive.

The characters move the storyline forward to a satisying conclusion, so that when the reader turns the last page she feels a sense of pleasure that things had turned out the way she had hoped, although it might have looked a little doubtful at times! It's fair to say that almost all the stories are romances, although in a family saga the romances happen along the way rather than being the central action of the piece.

Dialogue is an important part of both the story's telling and in giving the reader an insight into each character. After all, we always get a different impression in a face-to-face meeting with someone as opposed to going by a third person's description. Dialogue also helps to keep a narrative lively.

Stories can be modern, wartime, even turn of the 19th/20th century, but not too distantly historical; they can be set in Britain or abroad. And in what way do they differ from a People's Friend serial? Only in the respect that because the story is available to the reader all at once, it doesn't require the same end-of-chapter tension that a weekly serial depends on to make the reader want to come back next week.

Stories are around 50,000 words, and a synopsis and the first couple of chapters are required in the first instance to assess both the storyline and the writer's style. These should be sent to People's Friend Story Collection, DC Thomson & co ltd, Albert Square, Dundee, DD1 9QJ.

So there you are - another market for those pocket novels. I don't know how much PF pay for them, but I imagine it's about the same as My Weekly pay - around £200.

Sunday, 25 April 2010

Your Name in Lights!

Take a look at this fascinating post by Amanda Brittany. She's attempting to list all womag writers, along with an indication of how many stories each has sold.

If your name is missing, or has the wrong number of stars, comment on her post or email her.

It's great to see how many of us are writing and selling stories, and I bet there are loads more names to add to the list!

Friday, 23 April 2010

Young Fiction Writer of the Year 2010

Take A Break's Fiction Feast is hosting the second Young Fiction Writer of the Year award this year. Last year it was a huge success with over 2000 entries received. Judged by Anthony Horowitz, whose books my 12-year old has recently got into. (He currently spends half his life in the library tracking down each novel, and the other half reading them.)

Stories 500-1000 words. Open to ages 8-18. Closing date 23rd July. There are prizes for individuals and for their schools, so it's a great opportunity.

Either buy the latest (June) copy of Fiction Feast for an entry form, or go here. So if you have youngsters or know any, lend them your laptop and get them writing!

Get Wasted This Weekend!

No, no, no, I am not advocating getting plastered, rat-arsed, blathered or even just plain drunk, though you might want to do that as well.

Nicola Morgan's latest book, Wasted, is now available. To celebrate, she's set up a blog where there are weekly chances to win a copy for all followers. She's going to publish reviews and stories about her inspiration. The first chapter is up there now, if you'd like to get an idea of what the book's about.

There seems to be a real buzz surrounding this book! My copy arrived yesterday and I can't wait to get stuck in.

Wednesday, 14 April 2010

That's Life Fast Fiction submission process

Thanks to Glynis and Writers' Forum for this snippet of news:

TLFF has a new editor - Anthony Lambert. From now on, he'll send confirmation of receipt of stories, and acceptances, but not rejections. If you hear nothing for six months assume it's a rejection.

Also it's ok to resend a previously rejected story to him if you think it's a good one. It might just not have been right for the issue they were filling at the time.

Send submissions to

Further guidelines on this blog under the That's Life link on the right.

I had two stories in the last Fast Fiction, and my contributor copy arrived in the post a couple of days ago. It's a lovely looking mag, very colourful. A bit like the My Weekly fiction specials in appearance.

Sunday, 11 April 2010

Strictly Writing Award and other bits of news

I tried, honestly SW folk, I did try to add a link to my last post before going on holiday, to advertise the Strictly Writing award. But blogger kept crashing when I clicked on Publish. Anyway, if you haven't already seen it do click on the link and take a look at the SW competition- prize £300, no entry fee, best story each month showcased on the site for readers to vote on. Sounds like a great opportunity!

Publication news - I had a story in My Weekly last week (dated 3rd April). First publication for ages, and there are no more in the pipeline which is a bit of a miserable state of affairs. Just as well the sun's out.

I've just been out to buy a My Weekly pocket novel - The Secret of Helena's Bay by my good friend Sally Q. It's the first of three she's sold to them recently. They publish 2 a month, guidelines here. If you like writing longer stories it's a great market. This afternoon I am likely to be found curled on a rug on the beach, with Sally's novella in hand.

(By the way, I had a fabulous holiday in the Lake District, had good weather on all but 2 days, walked up several mountains and, hurrah, my knees held out. Kids loved it too, and we've decided to make it an annual event every Easter.)

Thursday, 1 April 2010

One more post before I go away....

Here are some blogs I've been enjoying lately. All connected with writing, though not exclusively with womag writing. But go take a look at them, if you have a few spare minutes.

Linen Press - marvellous little publisher. Currently running some posts on the blog which give a good insight into the world of the small press. Feels more like a family than a business! If you enjoy the blog, do consider buying one of the books they publish via this link as small presses need all the help they can get.

Mistakes writers make - if you sometimes wonder where you're going wrong this blog may have the answers. From Alex Gazzola of Writing Magazine fame.

Dovegreyreader - probably the best book review blog around. Either she reads at the speed of sound or she has too much time on her hands. I love books, love reading, would like to read everything she recommends, but simply can't!

And Susan at Stony River is another good one to visit for regular writing exercises you can join in, and market listings.

There you are. That'll keep you going!

Away for Easter

I'm off to the Lake District with husband and sons for a week. Hoping to walk up a few mountains, weather and knees permitting.

I'm all kitted out with maps, compass, Wainwright books, knee supports, and in case of rain, the last couple of Fiction Feasts to catch up on.

See you all when I get back, happy writing over the Easter break!