Tuesday, 31 July 2012

My Weekly's Easy Reads

I announced in a previous post that My Weekly were calling out for more pocket novelists. Well, I've just had an email from Maggie Seed, the pocket novels editor at My Weekly, explaining why. They are relaunching pocket novels as Easy Reads, publishing four a month, with a cover price of £1.99. There are four categories: Caress, Liaison, Intrigue and Suspense - details below. The flyer shows the books will have lovely modern covers which I suspect are designed to appeal to a younger readership. I think they look great! (Sadly I don't seem to be able to copy the flyer here or attach it. It's a PDF. If anyone knows how to attach PDFs to a blog let me know! Alternatively email me via the link above and I'll send it to you. Edited - Sally Q has attached the flyer on her blog which uses a different platform than this one, clearly better!)

Maggie says in her email: We are going to remove the branding and re-launch the novels in a special display unit on magazine shelves in October. We are planning to publish four a month, so I am going to need lots of new novels – many of them from the followers of Womagwriter, I hope!  (I hope so, too! Do let me know of your successes.)

Email entire manuscript (50,000 words) or synopsis and first 3 chapters to easyread@dcthomson.co.uk

I have emailed Maggie to ask if there'll be any change in the pay rate, and will let you know. Edited - I've heard back from Maggie. They are going to introduce a progressive pay rate where the pay goes up with each novel bought from a writer. I'm assuming (she didn't say) that the starting point will still be £300. This is very encouraging! 


Moving and enchanting reads that sweep the reader away to share in the developing romantic  relationship between a man and a woman.
What: Sweet romance, thrilling emotional drama
Who: Active, attractive, gorgeous heroes; attractive, feisty, unique heroines
When: Modern settings and dilemmas; also historical romance
How: Get our couple together dealing with an issue they hold dear, and see the sparks fly
Remember: Passion not pornography!


Intense romantic drama, adult themes and relationships, “open door” compelling, modern reads for women
What: Thrilling, contemporary reads, for switched-on savvy women 
Who: Dangerously attractive, alpha men; passionate, real, modern women of any age
How: Storylines of temptation, desire, and modern dilemmas
When: Modern settings, today’s world
Please: Open door, and open-minded!


Detective, murder mysteries; clues and red herrings abound to puzzle and absorb the reader!
What: There’s been a murder – now gather the clues to solve the crime
Who: Detectives, amateur sleuths, police officers


Thrilling, chilling psychological reads – the ones where the reader gasps – and then has to sleep with the light on! A real writing challenge.
What: Enthralling, absorbing, spine-chilling reads, that explore the dark corridors of the human mind in gripping drama

Edited: More details on exactly what Maggie wants in each category over on Sally's blog - here.

Sunday, 22 July 2012

The Amazing Wiggins

Just a tiny post to say well done to Team Sky for their amazing performance in the Tour de France this year! I've loved every minute of it. Wiggins, Froome, Cavendish and the rest - congratulations on your achievements but don't rest too much, now you've got to win us some gold medals as part of Team GB!

Last year I managed to link the TDF with writing, with some rather tortured analogies - here.

Wednesday, 18 July 2012

Take A Break latest guidelines

In the September edition of Writers' Forum there is a page giving the latest fiction guidelines for Fiction Feast. In general the guidelines haven't changed much from the old ones on this blog, but do note:
  • there is no longer a fiction slot in the weekly magazine
  • 750-3000 words, though once you've sold them a few they'll consider longer stories as well
  • postal submissions only
  • response should be in 12 weeks, but if you haven't heard, email Norah McGrath (the fiction editor) stating the name of the story, date submitted and a 2-line plot outline and she'll get back to you
  • all stories are read by Norah McGrath. Promising stories are then read by other members of the department including the editor of FF, whose word is final. If you get a rejection and 'SR' is pencilled in the corner, you know it got to the second read stage.
  • but a rejection is a rejection, not an invitation to tweak and re-sub it.
  • No feedback is given.
  • Pay remains at £200 for 1 page rising to £400 for 3000 worders
  • Send seasonal stories six months in advance
Submission address: Norah McGrath, Fiction Editor, Fiction Feast, 24-28 Oval Road, London NW1 7DT.

Tuesday, 17 July 2012

Wanted - Pocket Novels!

My Weekly are actively seeking manuscripts for pocket novels. You don't have to have sold anything to them before. They've recently changed their guidelines and added categories Murder and Thriller. Perhaps you've got an unpublished MS around 50,000 words you could edit and send in? 

Here are their latest guidelines. Apologies for formatting - this is cut'n'paste from a PDF document. To see the guidelines in their full technicolour glory, email myweekly@dcthomson.co.uk  and ask for them. Or go to Sally Q's blog where she has a link to them. 

Pocket novels are exciting, thrilling reads that sweep the reader away for adventures and intrigue, drama and romance! The focus is on the developing relationship between our two main characters, which of course will end in love, but how will they get there? That’s where the adventures and intrigue come in – we want you to excite and thrill, charm and alarm the reader, and have her (or him) gripped, unable to stop reading until the very last page.
DO: Create real characters the reader can believe in – they can have flaws.
DO: Have a plot – it can be thrilling or chilling, puzzling or alarming – that brings our heroine and hero together. They must have a murder or a mystery to solve, or something precious to save (a child, an inheritance – even their pride and independence) that keeps them communicating, and builds a relationship.
DO: Keep the tension building, paying particular attention to drama in every chapter ending. Let’s make the story a real page-turner for the reader. 
DO: Set our pulses racing, BUT remember we want passion not pornography, (so no explicit descriptions of either physical details or intimate action).

PLOTTING: Keep the pace building and compel the reader to turn the page with cliff-hanging chapter endings.
PEOPLE: Characters are real people with real characteristics, dreams and hopes, virtues and failings. Make sure the villains get their come-uppance!
HOW: Get over the action and explain the plot through your characters talking and doing, rather than telling the reader (ratio: 60/40 talking/telling). Don’t tell the readers what to think!
WHO: Our heroines vary in age from their late teens to middle-age, and are compassionate and morally sound. They are modern in their relationships, thoughts, feelings and experiences. The story is usually told from the woman’s point of view, although occasionally it is from the man’s.
WHERE AND WHEN: Modern or historical, set in the UK and interesting, exotic or dangerous locations around the world.
ROMANCE  Traditional Modern Historical Medical
CRIME  Murder Thriller

SYNOPSIS: Please send a synopsis and the first three chapters via email. We will ask to see the rest of the
novel if we are interested.
WORDCOUNT: 50,000 words
PAY: £300
Please note: Double quotes, single space only between full stop and next sentence.
Please email to myweekly@dcthomson.co.uk

Sally Q tells me a friend of hers, who has only recently started writing, sent in a synopsis and 3 chapters as her first ever submission. And the editor, Maggie Seed, wants to see more! Well done that writer!
Remember, although £300 isn't much for 50,000 words, you can usually resell your novel to Ulverscroft as a large print novel, and earn Public Lending Rights payments for ever afterwards. 

Sunday, 15 July 2012

Two events for womag writers up north

We in the south of England are feeling very left out. And I apologise in advance to blog readers from other parts of the world. It seems that the place to be during August and September if you write fiction for women's magazines is northern England. Or possibly southern Scotland. Move to Newcastle or Carlisle perhaps and you'll be well placed to attend both these events. Meanwhile down here in Dorset I'll just spit with jealousy.

Firstly - on 26-27 August Edinburgh plays host to MAGFEST - the International Magazine Festival. As part of this festival there is a workshop on How To Get Published. One of the editors taking part is People's Friend fiction editor, Shirley Blair. If you're able to get to Edinburgh that weekend this will definitely be worth attending!

And secondly - on 13-15 September Manchester hosts the Woman's Weekly Live show. This is billed as Creative Stitches and Hobbycrafts show, and most of the exhibitors are crafts companies, but there will also be workshops, including one with the fiction editor Gaynor Davies on how to write a successful short story for WW. For more details about the workshops, I'd recommend buying the latest WW Fiction Special (#7).

So, it's all happening up north.

Beer's cheaper there, too.

Saturday, 7 July 2012

Use your common sense(s)

See it, hear it, touch it, taste it, smell it. We all know what the five senses are. But do we always include them all in our writing? 

I don’t – at least not in the first draft. I’m so focussed on getting the story written, bringing out character and unfolding the plot, that I tend to forget about everything other than what the characters see and what they are saying. I don’t even mention other things they can hear except the speech. 

But when editing, I make a point of trying to use all the senses. In each short story, I think all the senses should be used. In a novel, I’ll try to get most of them into every scene. It’s not always possible and not worth forcing it – in a scene where a teacher is dealing with unruly pupils it’s tough to get ‘taste’ into the scene, for example,  but think for a moment and you’ll certainly find a way to get ‘smell’ in there.  

Take another scene – a heart-to-heart chat between a couple walking along a cliff top path in early summer – my first draft would be all about their conversation. But in the edit, I’d have them notice the vanilla scent of the gorse, taste the salt in the air, feel the breeze on their cheeks, hear the rhythmic crash and suck of the surf on the shingle on the beach below. I’d add some colour – startling blue sky, vibrant yellow gorse; and maybe, if I was feeling vicious or wanted some contrast, I’d give one of them a sharp little stone in their shoe.  

If you want your reader to really BE there, in your scene, when they’re reading it, you need to employ all their senses when describing the scene. But as I said in an earlier post, try make those descriptive details work in more than one way, and add more to the story than just colour. In the scene above, if the heart-to-heart is a break-up discussion, the beauty of the scene could be set in contrast with the ache in your character’s heart. How can something so terrible happen on such a gorgeous day? Or the scene can compliment their emotions. This is the calm before the storm, the last lovely, carefree day, and the contrast comes later. Or, something about the scene can remind your character of something from their past – they say that the sense of smell is most closely linked to memory, so use that to cue a flashback… 

I remember one short story by Della Galton in which a beautiful garden was described in all its detail. The twist was that the main character was an elderly blind woman living in a nursing home, and the non-existent view from her window was being described to her by her well-meaning daughter. The old woman knew (from her other senses) there was no garden, only a concrete yard, but didn’t let on to her daughter that she knew. So senses can provide you with a twist. Another friend used the condition of anosmia (lack of sense of smell) to provide the twist to a prize-winning story.  

So, use the senses to add colour, cue flashbacks, provide a twist. Make your reader experience your scene, not just read it. Involve all the senses. This is where the written word has an advantage over TV and film – until they invent scratch’n’sniff TV, at least!

Monday, 2 July 2012

2 comps, both free to enter

Two new competitions from Circalit, both free to enter. No prize beyond publication, but could be good exposure for you and a decent home for your sci fi or literary stories.

Cosmos, founded in 2004, is a literary science magazine that reaches 40,000 readers every month around the globe, and covers everything from science fact to science fiction. Cosmos are now on the lookout for innovative science fiction short stories that that make you think about the future in a different way. The winning short story will be printed in the next issue of Cosmos Magazine, and the two runners-up will see their work published on Cosmos Online. For more information and to submit your work, please visit www.circalit.com/screenplay/competitions/view/client/cosmos.

Eclectica, founded in 1996, is one of the longest running online literary publications, publishing a wide range of fiction from all different genres. Now Eclectica have teamed up with Circalit to host a flash fiction competition. Simply write a story on any theme in under 800 words and get your flash fiction published in the October/November issue of this notable ezine. For more information and to submit your work, please visit www.circalit.com/screenplay/competitions/view/client/eclectica.