Tuesday 28 April 2015

Hjemmet - update

Thanks to the Kath who replied to my last post about Hjemmet magazine to say she'd had a reply to her query and learned "Our short stories usually are approx. 3 000 words and romantic- or suspense stories. We don’t have any written guidelines, but if you send me something you have written I give you feedback when I have read it. You can send it to sara.hemmel (at) egmont.se." 

Thanks also to Elaine Chong who contacted Kari.bjornstad (at) egmont.com last week and was told (in Danish) they want crime or romance stories of between 2,500 and 3,000 words.

Two fiction editors with slightly different requirements and different addresses? Seems almost as though there are two different magazines, doesn't it? Actually there aren't, there are three! I did have three different sets of different info at one time, but thought they were three editions of the same magazine and a few things had got lost in translation (see the Allas post for how that might happen!) The address I had for the Norwegian magazine was also for a Kari but no longer seems to work. Last I heard they wanted 3,000 word, romance or crime stories.

There's a big snag though. Kari Bjornstad informs me they can only buy from "from pesons who have their own registered company with a VAT no." I don't - do you?

Sunday 26 April 2015

You (South Africa)

The guidelines for YOU magazine are here. They want 1,500 word stories which are suitable for male and female readers in a large age range.

They're a South African magazine so it might be a good idea not to set too many stories in the UK. Consider changing place names and the currency. I can't promise that will help, but it's something to think about.

Some stories are like the sun - they can be set anywhere. (Sorry - but I got up really early to take that picture so want to make use of it)

I do know YOU will accept work from British authors as they've just bought one of mine. They pay by electronic transfer which makes things easy.

Have YOU ever subbed to them? Any luck?

Thursday 23 April 2015

Interview with Womagwriter Helen Hunt

Today's guest is Helen M Walters (formerly Helen M Hunt)

1. What made you first start writing womag fiction?

I first started writing short stories about ten years ago. I’d gone along to a creative writing course at my local adult education college and once I’d written one short story, I found I couldn’t stop. I was addicted! After a while I decided I might as well start trying to sell them, and that started the long journey towards publication.

Since then, I’ve been published by Woman’s Weekly, My Weekly, The Weekly News, The People’s Friend, Take A Break Fiction Feast, Yours and Best in the UK as well as a few non-UK magazines.

2.Is there a particular genre within the womag market which you particularly enjoy writing?

I like to try different things. I don’t write a lot of romance stories as I prefer to write about a wider variety of relationships, including those between family members, friends, and even total strangers. I aim to write about things that are a bit unusual whenever possible – in the past I’ve written about alopecia, organ transplant, egg donation and sex change amongst other things. I enjoy pushing the boundaries of women’s magazine fiction.

3.Are you a disciplined writer producing a steady stream of stories, or do you wait until you're in the mood?

I’m not disciplined at all, I’m afraid. My story writing tends to go in fits and starts, depending on how many ideas I have. For example, at the moment I have five ideas waiting to be turned into stories, and I can’t find time to write them. But sometimes I can go for a couple of weeks without having any ideas. Those barren times are awful.

I also have to balance my short story writing with other writing commitments. I write a column for Writers’ Forum, which has to hit the deadline every month, other pieces of non-fiction and book reviews. I’m also working on a novel at the moment.

4. How do you deal with rejections? (I'm assuming you're not that one writer who never gets them - apologies if that's the case.)

Some rejections are harder to deal with than others. It’s all part of the job and you have to let it be like water off a duck’s back most of the time, but every now and then there’ll be a story you really love, and that you think was perfect for a particular magazine and they’ll turn it down. That always hurts. The only way to get over it is to keep going. Send the rejected story back out to another magazine, tweaking it first if necessary, and write more stories. Never give up!

5.The right writing snacks are very important - what's your fuel of choice?

Chocolate. Always.

6. I've heard that some writers use real people and situations in stories to work off frustrations or put something right. Do you ever do that?

To a certain extent, yes. I think we all put our own personal experiences into our work. It’s inevitable because it’s what we know and feel most deeply. And writing about what you feel most deeply helps you write more emotionally authentic stories. I do think you have to be careful though, to make sure that if you do that you’re not doing it in a way that could cause people to recognise themselves in your writing and take offence.

7. You teach writing don't you?

Yes, at the moment I’m mainly doing residentials for West Dean College and the WI College at Denman. I teach ‘Creative Writing for Beginners’, as well as an ‘Introduction to Short Story Writing’ and a specialised ‘Short Stories for Women’s Magazines’ course. All the details can be found on my website http://www.helenmhunt.co.uk. And I’m happy to answer questions about any of these courses if people want to get in to

My next specifically Women’s Magazine course is at West Dean from 5-7 June.

These are residential courses in lovely surroundings with excellent food laid on and will give people the right conditions to make really significant progress with their writing.

I’ve included photos of West Dean so that people can see how beautiful it is.

I love teaching because it’s always great to meet writers who are keen on finding out more about the craft. I always find that I learn from the students as well as them learning from me, and I always come away feeling inspired, if somewhat exhausted.

8. What do you think is the biggest hurdle for beginner writers?

That’s a difficult one. I suppose it’s getting your first publication really. You might find you have to make a lot of submissions and deal with a lot of rejections before you get that far, but it does get easier after that. And then ‘cracking’ each individual magazine will help you on your way. I think it’s true to say that with each magazine once you’ve had one acceptance, it is easier to get subsequent ones. The editors start to get to know your name, and trust your writing.

It took me a long time to get over that hurdle. I start writing in 2004, and started submitting in 2005. My first publication was in 2006, and that was a non-fiction piece for My Weekly. My first piece of fiction was published in 2007 by Momaya Press, as the result of a competition, and my first womag story was published by Woman’s Weekly in 2009.

That was quite a long and difficult journey, and I felt like giving up many times. Looking back, I’m not quite sure why I didn’t!

9. What has been your happiest or proudest writing moment so far?

That first womag fiction publication in 2009 was a very proud moment. I feel proud every time something I write is published though, I think it’s important to hold on to that and not become jaded with the whole process.

10. Can you pass on a tip for other womag writers?

Concentrate on actually writing. It sounds obvious, but there are so many things out there to distract aspiring and beginner writers. Talking about writing, networking on social media and going to lots of writing events won’t make you a writer. Only writing and getting published will.

And if you’re serious about being published by womags, then you have to read them and study them in depth so that you know the market inside out. It’s nice to write for yourself, but if you want to be published, you have to write for the market.

Thanks so much to Patsy for having me as a guest on her blog. If anyone has any questions, please do leave them in the comments section and I’ll pop back and answer.

Sunday 19 April 2015

Allas - Guidelines

Thank you to Simon Whaley (author of The Positively Productive Writer - and lots more) for hunting down the Allas guidelines and translating them (with help from Google) into English. I did think of just picking out the key points, but decided they're much more fun as they are.

6.1 Fiction

Fiction is a strong reason to buy single copies and subscribe to Everyone. Fiction in Everyone's entertainment, feel-good reading, but pointers. It seats excitement, emotion and humor, bright hopeful end, surprise effects and unexpected solutions. We want to offer the reader before both long and short reading, with an emphasis on short. We publish: serial (novel), short stories, detective novels and five-minute short story (= short story).
We want to promote ourselves by offering good, new, Swedish reading of established authors. We do this in the form of specially written short stories in the paper, especially in the high season, ie Christmas, Easter and during the summer, when our readers are free. Our ambition is to offer new, specially written long reading.

6.2 The short story

The short story is about relationships between man and woman. The stories are contemporary and the female protagonist should not be too young. 30-45 is a good age. The reader should feel good after reading a short story in Everyone. This is entertainment and the plot must not be black and hopeless. There must be an opening, a candle, a turnaround, development and future. It should as well be okay ...
It is important to have a genuine, happy personal and original tone of the text.
There must be emotion in the story, which can be emotional but also humorous.
We say no to: Intrigue to the effect that the woman stands and falls with her husband, where the woman's great fear is that the man will leave her.
We decline: Novels dealing with violence and abuse, assault, incest.
We say no to: Predictable, templated love stories.
The length should be between 8000 and 9000 characters, spaces included. A good story is longer, it is often short if needed. Can not do this, and the story is really good, we will publish it anyway.

6.3 5-minute story

5-minute story is of course shorter than the short story. Here is the higher ceilings. It can be about all kinds of relationships, friends, children, parents, siblings, coworkers, and others.
Our short story can be emotional and / or funny.
Sometimes, the surprise at the end, sometimes it approaches kåseriets shape.
The length may not exceed 6000 characters

6.4 Criminal short story

Criminal short story is exciting, but we avoid violence, gluttony in blood, beatings and other abuse.
Can not punkta up exactly what is ok and what is not. One should trust their gut feeling when reading the material.
The length is the same as the novel lens, about 8000-9000 characters long

6.5 The serial / novel

The serial must contain a love story between woman and man, but feel free to also be exciting (thriller). There are many demands on a story that will function as a serial. Our novel is simply a chapter of its own:
The story must be manageable.
It may not play out over too long a time (no long family histories spanning decades and centuries)
It is preferable to have a straight chronology, and a fairly simple plot.
It may not be too many people involved (preferably not more than seven).
It must not have too many sidings and delberättelser (preferably none at all).
The length should be between 12 000 and 14 000 characters, including spaces.

6.6 The language

We win puts us on a clear, simple and easy to read language with good balance between dialogue and narrative. The text should have depth, give experience, identification and arouse emotions - empathy, excitement, warmth, etc.

6.7 Headings

Headlines and vignettes will arouse curiosity, expectation and love of reading. They must rhyme with the text, tone and mood. They can give a feeling or revealing an exciting part of the action.

6.8 introductions and synopsis

After heading, the preamble's turn to lead further into the story. It will attract and capture the reader before, making her curious and excited that she "needs to know" what happens. The preamble to the feel and style tune with the rest of the text.
Brief, which is an important part of the serial, is on a compressed, yet legible way to provide information on the sequence of events so far, a "just in time" basis, so that the browser before without problems can continue to read and follow the action even if you missed something or more sections.

Friday 17 April 2015

My Weekly

Unfortunately My Weekly are still only accepting fiction submissions from authors who've previously been published in the magazine. If you have been do say so on the covering letter/ email to ensure the submission is seen by the fiction editor. 
Photo is of fiction editor Liz Smith and myself taken last year.

If you've not been published by My Weekly before you may still submit features and pocket novels (and if one of these is accepted you'd then be able to submit fiction)

 From the guidelines - 

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 - danadams@dcthomson.co.uk
Real Life - srodger@dcthomson.co.uk 
Fashion/beauty/diet - Audrey Patterson apatterson@dcthomson.co.uk 
Travel, Cookery - Susan Anderson sanderson@dcthomson.co.uk 


50,000 words  Pay rate is £300 First Cheap Paperback Rights 

WE look for stories with a strong, developing romance between two identifiable characters.

We want to sweep the reader away in time and space to share and experience the breathless/breath-taking excitement of a growing relationship. 

Do: Create believable characters our readers can identify with, rejoice with or grieve with.

They can have flaws.

Do: Thrill and intrigue the reader. You have the time it takes to read the novel to take the reader through a gamut of emotions, thrills and dilemmas to resolve the mystery, pitfalls and obstacles.

Do: Keep the tension building up, paying particular attention to every chapter ending, to make a page-turning read for the reader.

Do: Set our pulses racing (ooh la la!) BUT remember we want passion, not pornography!

SECOND BUT: No descriptions of breasts or nipples or explicit action.

Do: Use dialogue so the reader can participate in the story's development rather than being told in large chunks in straight narrative.

Do: To develop the relationship between the main characters, include an intriguing plot. 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.

Remember that all the villains need to receive an appropriate outcome. 

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. Paranormal romances will also be considered.

How: The story is usually told from the woman's point of view, although occasionally it is from the man's. 

Key Points For Writers

Plotting: Keep the pace building - compel the reader to turn the page with cliff-hanging chapter endings.

Give the main characters something to get together over  - something they care about.

People: Characters are real people with real dreams and hopes (plus faults and failings).

Power: Get the action over in dialogue rather than prose (ratio: 60/40 talking/telling). 

Synopsis: Please send in a synopsis and the first three chapters, either in manuscript form or via email.

If we wish to proceed, we will ask you to send in the full novel electronically.

By Post: My Weekly Pocket Novels, DC Thomson & Co, 80 Kingsway East, Dundee DD4 8SL

EMAIL:  myweekly@dcthomson.co.uk 

Sunday 12 April 2015


I don't know very much about this magazine, except that they're Danish and have rejected everything I've sent them! They have sent rejections though rather than stating they don't accept submissions, so I keep trying now and again.

Requests for guidelines have recieved no response. I've been told they're on the website, but even using Google translate I couldn't find them. I believe they like stories of around 3,000 words. The email address I use is - serner (at) hjemmet.dk

I'd appreciate any information anyone else has.

I asked my husband for a photo of me in Denmark to illustrate this post. Considering he's a professional photographer I don't think it's that great. Either he thinks I need soft focus or he was focussing on something other than my lovely face!

Thursday 9 April 2015

Interview with womagwriter Helen Yendell

Today's guest is Helen Yendell.

1. I know you've had a lot of short stories published now, Helen but I'm betting you still remember your first?

You bet! It was a long time ago, when there were still plenty of magazines publishing fiction (oh, happy days!) but I hadn't yet dipped my toe into the womag water. Encouraged by my Creative Writing tutor, I entered a short story competition in Bella magazine and I was delighted to be chosen as one of the runners-up. My story was a 'twist-in-the-tale' with more than a touch of romance. It was published in the Valentine's Day issue and I was paid handsomely for it. It was such a thrill to see my name, finally, in print.

2. Is there a particular genre within the womag market which you particularly enjoy writing?

Not really. It's very satisfying to have that 'light bulb moment' and get an idea for an original twist-in-the-tale story, so when that happens, I do enjoy writing those kind of stories (because, once you've got a great idea, they almost write themselves!). But mostly, I write character-lead stories and I like to add a touch of quirkiness or humour, if I can.

3. Are you a disciplined writer producing a steady stream of stories, or do you wait until you're in the mood?

I'm getting better but I'm definitely not as disciplined as I should be! One thing that helped me focus last year was a target I set myself, to submit 52 stories (one a week) to the womags. I managed it by the skin of my teeth, by zapping off stories 51 and 52 on 31st December (and, amazingly, both stories sold). I've set myself the same goal for 2015 (they don't have to be new stories. If one story is rejected and I'm able to tweak it and resubmit it elsewhere, then that counts as 2 submissions) and it definitely helps to keep me 'on track'. and writing more stories.

4. I know you've done quite a bit of historical research recently, has that encouraged you to write more historical stories or put you off?

A bit of both! I think it's opened my eyes to the scope there is for original story ideas and settings if you choose to write historical fiction but the research can be very time-consuming. It's probably ultimately more satisfying to write a good historical story but in my experience, it's also much harder work than setting a story in the present day.

5. The right writing snacks are very important - what's your fuel of choice?

I'm a bit of a sucker for tea and biscuits but I do try to limit them, in order to avoid WB (Writer's Bottom).

5. I've heard that some writers use real people and situations in stories to work off frustrations or put something right. Do you ever do that?

I often use my real experiences - good and bad - in my stories. I wrote a story which Woman's Weekly published as 'The Sunshine Board' about someone whose marriage failed after just a few months. That was actually based on me but I changed the 'real' ending and made it a happy one, with the couple getting back together, so I suppose, in that sense, yes I do. And it can be very cathartic.

6. I believe you've published a collection of short stories which includes some previously published in womags, care to tell us more?

Yes, earlier this year I self-published an e-book called 'Paperchase and other stories'. It contains 12 stories and 7 of them have been previously published in Woman's Weekly and are particular favourites of mine, so it was nice to be able to give them a 'second life'. It was a new challenge for me to self-publish and very satisfying to see the end result! And the feedback I've had from readers has, so far, been very encouraging.

7. What has been your happiest or proudest writing moment so far?

There have been so many, it's really hard to choose, but nothing beats getting your first acceptance from a magazine and it took me a long time to 'crack' both Woman's Weekly and, more recently, Take A Break, so those were all very happy moments for me.

8. Can you pass on a tip for other womag writers?

If I can only give one tip then it's this: try to be original. Being able to write well is only half the battle, when you're submitting stories to the womags: fresh angles and ideas are vital, too. The editor of Woman's Weekly, for example, often complains that they receive too many stories about women 'finding themselves' and about retirement, weddings and adoption. Try to write about an unusual situation or a scenario that they haven't covered before and you'll be half way to an acceptance!

Saturday 4 April 2015

Take a Break's Fiction Feast

The current guidelines are copied below (with permission)

Thank you for enquiring about submitting stories to us. We are happy to receive unsolicited manuscripts from authors but, for the present, request that these be no longer than 2,000 words. Should you wish to submit longer stories for consideration, Iʼll drop you a line or telephone you. Please donʼt be discouraged, as we are always on the lookout for new talent.
I enclose the Take a Break guidelines for your general assistance with presentation and plots to avoid. The basic requirements of a strong plot and a twist in the tail also hold good for Fiction Feastʼs 1 page (700 words) and 2 page (1200 words) stories. Stories of between 1200+ and 2000 max words neednʼt have a twist in the tail, but must have a compelling plot. Because Fiction Feast has so many stories, weʼre looking for more variety in the type we publish so, whatever the length, mystery, romance, crime, offbeat, macabre, science fiction, spooky tales — just about anything really — is welcome.
We can be flexible about story length, but, as a guide our wordcounts and payment rates are:
1 Page (700 words) £200 2 Page (1200 words) £250 3-4 Pages (2,000 words) £325 to £400
All stories must be from an original idea, all your own work, not previously published in the UK and not currently on offer to any other magazine or publisher. We pay on acceptance.
It can take 6-8 weeks for a decision to be made on Fiction Feast stories, so please be patient. If you havenʼt had a story returned after 10 weeks, please drop a line outlining the plot and Iʼll get back to you ASAP. I look forward to reading your work.

GUIDELINES FOR AUTHORS (Take a Break and Fiction Feast)
Basic Requirements: We are looking for contemporary stories aimed at women from their mid-twenties upwards. We require 1100 - 1200 words with a strong plot and a good twist in the tail. The twist should arise out of the story, rather than from a detail kept from the reader. To check your twist, imagine your story were being made into a film and ask yourself - would the surprise still work? We do not have a weekly serial, so stories must be complete.
Subject Matter: We particularly like settings and situations which readers can recognise and relate to, rather than say, country house murders or stories about drugs rings or jewel thieves. Itʼs essential to read several issues of the magazine to get the flavour of the type of fiction we publish before writing a story aimed at Take a Break. Many writers waste a lot of time and effort because they havenʼt done this. Please avoid straightforward romance ie, boy meets girl and they live happily ever after. Also avoid historical backgrounds, science fiction and stories narrated by animals or small children. Take a Break is a family magazine so graphic murders or sex crimes are never acceptable.
Common plots to avoid:
* the heroine/narrator is revealed to be a cat, dog, fox, car (or tree, u-bend...) * the policeman/woman is really a singing telegram
* a character
ʼs mysterious arrangements turn out to be for a surprise party
* the woman discovers her husband
ʼs secret lover is a man, or vice versa

* the murder victim ends up on a compost heap
* anything to do with poisonous mushrooms or tampering with car brakes

* a shifty antiques dealer dupes an old lady out of what he thinks is a priceless antique and it turns out she is making them by the dozen
* anything to do with twins or nosy neighbours
* someone nervous about a first day at school turns out to be the teacher; or about a wedding, the vicar; or an interview, the interviewer
Because our stories are so short, a maximum of four characters is usually best. The main character — a woman. Stories must be your own idea and original work, previously unpublished and not on offer to any other magazine or publisher at the time sent to us. Should your story be accepted we will probably have to edit it. Presentation: Typed manuscripts are preferred, but if you canʼt get your story typed, write clearly in double line spacing. Please ensure your name, addresss and

telephone number — and an accurate wordcount — are on the title page; and your name and story title on subsequent pages. Please, please include a stamped addressed envelope large enough to hold your story. Self-seal envelopes are especially appreciated. Itʼs advisable to keep a copy your story to guard against the remote chance of loss.
Features and articles should be sent directly to the Features Department with a covering letter. It can take 4-6 weeks before a decision is made concerning your manuscript, so please be patient. If your story has not been returned after six weeks, please drop me a line giving me the story title, a brief synopsis of the plot and the date sent. I will get back to you ASAP.
Should your story be rejected it may be we have already published or have in stock a similar story. More likely though, I feel it will not appeal to our readers. This does not necessarily mean I will not like another of your stories, so donʼt lose heart.
Stories sent for specific issues, such as Christmas, Easter, Halloweʼen etc., must be sent at least three months in advance of the issue date.
Please send stories to me, Norah McGrath (Fiction Editor), at the address below. I look forward to reading your work. Norah McGrath, Fiction Editor, Take a Breakʼs Fiction Feast Academic House, 24-28 Oval Road, London NW1 7DT

If I were able to persuade one of the TAB/FF editors onto the blog, what would you like to know?

I've heard some people have been sent new contracts - have you had one? And if you have, do you understand it?

Friday 3 April 2015

Over the Garden Fence

Today is the launch of Over The Garden Fence a collection of 24 of my short stories. Many of the stories have been previously published in womags, others have been placed in competitions. They all have a vaguely garden/plant/flower/ theme, but you don't need to be a gardener to understand or enjoy them.

It's available as an ebook or paperback. Any help with spreading the word will be greatly appreciated.

There's a launch party on my personal blog and my facebook author page. Do pop in if you have time. There are ecopies of the book to be won.