Sunday, 16 December 2012

On writing serials

Excellent post here from Della Galton on writing serials for the women's magazines.

Monday, 10 December 2012

Character timeline

Here's a fantastically useful resource for writers - a character or story timeline calculator! If you've ever got your head in a spin trying to work out how old your MC Flossie would have been when she attended her auntie's wedding which was held five years before Flossie's cousin Alfie was born, and Alfie is now 23, only this is a timeslip story so you're writing as though it's 1973 except for the bits which are set in 2012 with flashbacks to Flossie's wartime childhood ...

You get the picture. Help is at hand - plug the relevant dates and events into Wendy's StoryTimeline spreadsheet which can be downloaded from this link, and all the hard work will be done for you. Wendy's husband developed this, so many thanks to him, and to Wendy Clarke for sharing it. (She's happy for you to share it further on your blogs or Twitter/Facebook, as long as you credit her and add a link back to her blog.)

Wednesday, 5 December 2012

Book shelf

I've just updated my Bookshop page - click on link at top of page - to add Della Galton's The Short Story Writer's Toolshed. 

If people have started asking you what you want for Christmas, why not ask for some how-to write books? Mind you, Della's latest is only £1.88 as an ebook so you could probably just treat yourself to that one!

Monday, 3 December 2012

Comings and Goings

If you want an 'advent calendar' with a difference - check in to the Pocketeers' blog daily - for their advent calendar of heroines. 

Sadly, no sooner did we get all excited about the Easy Reads, which replaced My Weekly's Pocket Novels and then ran alongside them, than we hear they're to be axed. Sally Q confirmed this today with Maggie Seed. However, still send in your short novels and they'll be considered for the My Weekly imprint. There will be two published a month, and traditional romances are required. Personally I don't think they've given Easy Reads long enough to get established. I loved them. But I guess the sales figures aren't high enough. So we're back where we were. 

Wednesday, 28 November 2012

Free book and a womag-writer on TV

Patsy Collins's novel, Escape to the Country, is free to download today and tomorrow. It's great isn't it - all these free books to fill up your Kindle for nothing!

And unfortunately I was out on Monday and unable to blog this then, but womag-writer Douglas McPherson (aka Julia Douglas) who many will also know from his articles in Writers' Forum, was on TV talking about circus animals, something he researched in detail for his latest book. The programme is still available on iPlayer here.

Friday, 16 November 2012

Submissions quick reference

Here's a list, just for Kathryn but I'll allow my other blog readers to use it too ;-) of the magazine addresses/email addresses for submissions. There are quite a few posts for some of the magazines on this blog now, and the submission addresses are becoming buried. If you're new to womag writing, please also refer to the main magazine guidelines for lengths and current requirements under the relevant link on this blog, but for a speedy look-up, refer to this post.

My Weekly: 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. NB Only submit to My Weekly if you've already been published by them.

Take A Break & Fiction Feast: Submit by post only to Norah McGrath, Fiction Editor, Fiction Feast, 24-28 Oval Road, London NW1 7DT.

People's Friend: Submit by post to The People’s Friend, D.C.Thomson & Co., Ltd., 80 Kingsway East, Dundee, DD4 8SL. Phone: 01382 462276. 
Email (for queries only, not submissions) 

The Weekly News: E-mail only, to

Woman's Weekly: By post to Fiction Department, Woman’s Weekly, IPC Media, Blue Fin Building, 110 Southwark Street, London, SE1 0SU. NB If they've bought something from you, you're allowed to submit by email. You'll have the relevant email so I won't put it here!  

Yours: By post to Short Stories, Yours Magazine, Bauer Media, Media House, Peterborough Business Park, Peterborough, PE2 6EA  Or by email to: (Subject: Short Story Submission)

Ireland's Own: Email:
Or by post to:  Ireland’s Own, Channing House, Rowe Street, Wexford, Ireland.

That's Life (Australia): Email submissions to

You (South Africa): Email:
Or by post to YOU, PO Box 7167, Roggebaai 8012 marked for the attention of C van Zyl.

Wednesday, 14 November 2012

And ANOTHER market for shorter novels!

My Weekly Pocket Novels are returning, to sit on the shelves alongside (not instead of) the new Easy Reads we were all talking about a month or two ago. This is by popular demand, it seems, so there certainly seems to be an appetite for these little books.

Sally Q's blog has all the details and the guidelines - here. It's the same email address and editor for both MW Pocket novels and Easy Reads, so if you're not sure which imprint your book suits, don't fret, send it off and let Maggie decide.

Thursday, 8 November 2012

Bits and pieces

1.  If you're into  writing children's stories, check out the latest Walker Books/Mumsnet competition which closes on 30th November. Details here.

2.  I posted calls for submission some time back from Writers Abroad, who were putting together a charity anthology of work by ex-pat writers. Foreign Encounters has now been published, and is available to buy here. Proceeds go to Books Abroad, a charity dedicated to getting free books into schools around the world.

3.  A new short story competition launches on Monday - the Sophie King prize. This one is specifically looking for writers of romantic short stories, it's free to enter and you have until January 10th.

4.  Finally, a little plug for a book by a fellow womag writer - this should appeal to anyone who likes country music. Douglas McPherson has published his novel Nashville Cinderella which is available for Kindle here and itunes here.

5.  And finally finally, if I'm plugging Douglas's book I really ought to plug Della Galton's books too - she has been publishing her short stories in collections of five for Kindle, under the series title Daily Della. Here's a link to Love on the Rocks. They're perfect to download to your Kindle for reading in any spare minute. (The latest publication is A Perfect Murder - a collection of twist-ending stories and is currently FREE to download!)

The Yellow Room

Take a look at the updated website for The Yellow Room magazine. Its editor and publisher, Jo Derrick, has updated the submission guidelines, added details of the latest competition (closing date 31st March 2013, top prize £100), and you can now order and pay for the latest issue online.

This is a great little independent literary magazine, run on a shoestring budget by someone who is passionate about good writing. Send them your more literary or quirky stories, which maybe aren't suitable for the womags. There are sample stories on the website so you can see what sort of thing wins Yellow Room competitions.

Wednesday, 24 October 2012

Easy Reads now in the shops

On Saturday I went to my local WHSmith to buy a couple of the new Easy Reads, published by DC Thomson. You'll probably find them near the women's magazines section The first 4 are now out, and are definitely worth a look, whether you want to write them or not. They're beautifully produced, lovely clear font, fab covers, only £1.99 and they really do fit in your pocket even though they're no longer called Pocket Novels!

I have read Sally Quilford's Bonfire Memories, which is classified Crime - Intrigue. She really does keep you guessing who dunnit, and leads the reader skilfully up a whole host of blind alleys. Definitely recommended, and I have the other Crime one, Julie Coffin's Web of Fear, to read next.

They're lovely little books and I really hope they do well.

Thursday, 18 October 2012

Got something to say about a writing competition?

Sally Quilford's competitions column in Writers' Forum will soon be taking on a new format, and she's looking for input from anyone who's had anything to do with writing competitions. Whether you organise them, judge them, win them or just enter them - let her know your tips and experiences.

Go here to see what's happening to the column, and to contact her with your snippets.

Monday, 15 October 2012

Meet the Friends!

Quick post as I'm dashing out to Zumba in a moment but I've just spotted a note on the People's Friend facebook page to say the team will be at the 50+ Show in Glasgow on 9th and 10th November. So if you're in the area, check it out and go meet Shirley Blair in person!

PF Facebook page is here.
PF website and blog is here.

Saturday, 6 October 2012

Writers - what to buy each other for Christmas

I know it's a bit early yet but anyway - take a look at these story cubes. Nine cubes, with a different little picture on each face. Pick any three or more dice, roll them, see what you get and write a story inspired by the three top-side images. Endless fun and endless ideas!

I definitely want a set. They come in a dinky little box, too.

Thursday, 4 October 2012

Wot, no payment?

I wrote a short story way back in 2004 when I was at an early stage in my writing career. I was quite pleased with it, and sent it off to a couple of womags, but it was rejected. Then I sent it to a non-paying online magazine, the Rose and Thorn. They accepted it and duly published it.

Fast forward to January this year. I received an email via the contact page on this blog, asking for permission to republish that same story. It was from a fellow called Robin, not Rose & Thorn. I was naturally a bit suspicious, and emailed back, asking where they wanted to publish it, and would there be any payment? He must have googled my name (I have a fairly unusual surname) and followed links to find this blog and email address.

Robin replied, explaining that he worked for a company who were helping the Texas Education Authority put together exam papers. They wanted my story as part of an English course assessment paper. They offered me US$500, and asked for 10 years exclusive rights over it, after which time all rights revert to me. (For which reason I can't post a link to the story on this blog until mid 2022!)

I googled the company to check them out, and discovered they were huge and definitely legitimate. I agreed to the publication, and was duly paid by bank transfer.

Why am I telling you this? Just to make a point that sometimes, having work published for no payment, can work in your favour. Who knows who might be reading it? That little story of mine earned nearly $1 a word, and is studied by Texan college students, which I find oddly amusing.

I do think that if an organisation can afford to pay writers then they certainly should. I was as incensed as everyone else when a magazine with a good budget and high readership tried to fill its pages last summer by holding a fiction competition with the only prize being publication (thankfully they backtracked and quite rightly ended up paying for all stories they published).

But I also firmly believe there's a place for small, non-paying markets, run by people with enthusiasm, passion but no budget. Professional writers need not use time and effort submitting to these places, but for others - beginner writers, hobbyist writers, or maybe writers with years of experience under their belts and a stack of unpublished stories gathering dust - such outlets are in my opinion, certainly worth investigating.

Wednesday, 3 October 2012

PF on FB

Really quick post to urge all those on Facebook to check out the newly launched People's Friend facebook page - here .

The first of the new look issues is out now - I haven't yet seen it though there's a picture of its cover on facebook. It looks great - really fresh.

Short stories wanted for Android phone app

Sharon, who runs the Fiction Addiction writing group, sent me an email asking if I'd put the following on this blog:

Would you like to see your stories published on an Android phone app?
My husband and I are launching a new project soon – a FREE short story app called A Quick Read.
The good news is, we're not charging any writer to upload the stories on the app.
The bad news is, we cannot pay writers a fee, as we're starting the project as a hobby. However, if we mange to secure funding, we will be able to pay you.
I’ll be sending out lots of press releases to raise publicity.
The categories for fiction are: 
Twist in tale  
The word count we require is 500 -1,000 words.
No swearing, no excessive violence, and no erotica, please.
Also, we require a brief outline (one or two lines) about your story.
Go to to view our website. 
Terms and conditions for writers’ can be found under ‘Information’ on the drop down menu. 
It would be best if you sent us unpublished work. All writers retain copyright.  
You can also see how the app works on the website.
Please e-mail your stories to me, Sharon at:
Many thanks.
PS If you have a website or blog address, we can place this at the bottom of your story on the app. 

This sounds like an exciting project! Even though there's no pay at present, including your website or blog address might bring in more readers, so if you've got some spare stories of the right length it'll be worth sending them to Sharon and Keith.

Hmm, I have an Android phone. This app looks like a great thing to have if you find yourself stuck somewhere without a book or Kindle to read... I'm looking forward to its launch! 

Thursday, 27 September 2012

People's Friend website and link to submission guidelines

Following on from yesterday's post, the new look People's Friend website is already available - here.

And it includes downloads of the submission guidelines for short stories, serials, poems and features - here.

It's a great looking website, and lovely to have the guidelines so easily available. Go check it out, everyone!

Wednesday, 26 September 2012

People's Friend news

I had an email from Shirley Blair, the fiction editor of People's Friend, and she asked me to post the following on this blog. It's great news that PF will be buying even more stories, and I can't wait to see what the magazine's new look is like! And please note, soon there'll be revamped guidelines available on PF's own website. As soon as I know its address I'll post a link on here.

Over to Shirley;

Hi, Womagwriters.
I’ve been too busy to visit your blog lately, but I did catch up with it last week and saw a couple of threads that caught my interest, threads that I think I can help with. So if you don’t mind…
One is the subject of story lengths. And I’ll do this one first because it’s the area of the People’s Friend that’s undergone the greatest change...
That’s news, isn’t it?
In fact The People’s Friend’s just experienced a bit of a facelift! Our design team have been working really hard to refresh our look, and with extra pages and extra features we think we look fabulous. The results are revealed in our October 6 issue. We’re still us, though, with our familiar character and values. The best news for all you Womagwriters, though, is that the extra pages mean we can include more stories; we’ll have seven, a short story for every day of the week. Plus our usual two serials, of course.
Now, this change has seen us move to templates for our story pages, and that means we have pretty specific story length requirements (some of you have already heard this from me and have started passing on the news, thank you). They are now 1200 words, then anything in the range 2000 to 3000 (though 10% extra’s OK because we can cut to fit). That’s why some of you have been getting slightly odd requests from us to lengthen stories! All now becomes clear…!
Now, this is all purely about the weekly; for our specials our story lengths will continue to vary vastly in length from 1500 up to 4000 words, which I know is music to the ears of those of you who just love the chance to tell a longer story.  Again, 10% over’s OK and allows our lovely subs room for manoeuvre.
We’ve redesigned our writers’ guidelines, too, and they’ll go live on our new website this week, but I have to keep that address to myself just for the moment.
All these changes — it’s so exciting!
Next time I drop in, it’ll be to explain about response times.
(I really must get my own blog… Thanks for letting me visit!)
The People’s Friend