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 )


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 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)


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
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!

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
X Use clichéd situations and dialogue


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


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
Celebrity, General Features – Susan Anderson
Real Life – Sally Rodger
Fashion/beauty/diet - Audrey Patterson
Travel – Gladys Sturrock
Cookery – Alison Graves

Please address: For the Attention of Maggie Seed

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

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

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.

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

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?!

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: 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

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


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


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:;


Warmest regards

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 . 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!