Saturday 29 October 2016


There's a poll over there --->

Sorry, with my usual technological brilliance, I've made it tricky to read. The choices are:

I write womag fiction and have had some published.
I write and submit womag fiction, but haven't had anything published - yet.
I'd like to write and submit womag fiction.

If you could click on the answer which best suits you, and then on the 'vote' button, I'd be very grateful. The survey is anonymous and you don't need to be a blog follower to take part.

I'm asking because I'm very nosey. If I was a bird, I'd probably look like this.

Please feel free to add more info in the comments.

Friday 28 October 2016

Yours magazine guidelines

YOURS is always looking for good short stories. Every submission is read but we receive more than a hundred manuscripts a month and are able to publish only one short story per issue.
Please allow up to six months for reply and enclose a stamped, self-addressed envelope if you would like your manuscript to be returned. Submissions should be 1000-1,200 words long and not have been published elsewhere before. Manuscripts must be TYPED on one side of the paper and the title page must include the following:
  • 100 - 150 word synopsis.
  • An accurate word count.
  • Your full name (and real name if you write under a pen name), address
    and telephone number
    If we can’t use your submission and you would like it returned to you please enclose a SAE with enough postage to cover the cost of the submission/s.
    It is essential that you study three or four published stories in YOURS before writing anything for us.
    Many manuscripts are rejected because, although they may be well written, the stories are aimed at a completely different market, such as younger women or a largely middle-class readership.
    Read several issues of YOURS. This will give you a good idea of the type of reader you should be writing for and the general tone we use.
    Our readers range in age from fifties upwards, with most in their mid-sixties and seventies. They are mostly women, although YOURS is read by some men, so don’t ignore their interests!
    Some of the most popular themes with YOURS readers are romance, families, grandchildren, nostalgia and wartime comradeship. A lot of our readers did war work and/or had husbands
page1image16872 page1image17032 page1image17192 page1image17352

or boyfriends serving in the Forces. Don’t be limited to these subjects though; the style and tone of what you write about must appeal to our readers as much as the content.
The first line of your story should grab the attention; it is all too easy to start a story with a bang, which quickly turns into a damp squib by the end of the first page. Keep up the reader's interest until the end or they will not bother to get that far - and a brilliant surprise ending will not make them read it in the first place.
Avoid stereotypical images of older people as ill, frail and lonely. Make sure your story is plausible and realistic and do not rely on unlikely coincidences. Try and avoid the hero turning out to be a cat or dog.
Avoid downbeat subjects such as death, widowhood, illness and loneliness, or write about them in a positive way that does not dwell on negatives.
Try not to rely on obvious plot devices such as twists in the tale and memory flashbacks. These are very common and, unless cleverly written, can be predictable. A good story does not always need a surprise.
Always think of YOURS readers, not just as older people, but as ordinary human beings who have experienced everything in life - childhood, growing up, starting work, falling in love, friends and family, joy, sorrow, heartache, longing and laughter. YOURS readers have their own interests and needs which match their years of experiences but many of their hopes, fears and dreams are shared by all of us and they still enjoy a good story.
Send your manuscript to*: Short Stories
Yours Magazine
Bauer Media

Media House
Peterborough Business Park Peterborough, PE2 6EA

Or by email to: (Subject: Short Story Submission) – email submissions must include contact telephone number and address details.
All successful submissions are accepted on an All Rights basis that gives Bauer Media exclusive copyright
*PLEASE NOTE: If you would like us to return your submission, please include an SAE with the correct postage amount on it. We regret that any submissions without an SAE will not be returned.

Yours also give some advice on getting published in other ways as well as their non-fiction guidelines here.

Wednesday 26 October 2016

Sweet success

Allas magazine are one of the few who still send complimentary copies. I can't actually read Swedish,  in fact sometimes I have a great deal of trouble working out which of my stories they've published, but I instantly recognised this one.

Isn't that illustration great?

What kind of illustrations do you like best – or don't you take much notice of them when reading stories?

On a less cheery note, My Weekly are closed to fiction submissions until the end of the year.

Sunday 23 October 2016

From Story Idea to Reader

This rather marvellous book will be available soon. It includes an entire chapter on writing for womags – by a writer I'm sure many of you will have heard of ;-) There's also lots about finding ideas and the time to write, grammar, formatting work, creating characters, competitions, self publishing ...

It will be out in time for Christmas (in paperback as well as in ebook formats) so start dropping those subtle hints now ...

Saturday 22 October 2016

Patsy to Patsy

No, I'm not talking to myself this time... Another Patsy has asked a question on the 'got a question?' page.

Hi Patsy

I've nearly finished writing a short story that involves the main character (teenaged boy) arriving at self-knowledge through getting drunk for the first time. Trouble is I'm now wondering if mags like People's Friend and Woman's Weekly will consider a story involving alcoholic consumption.
If you or anyone else could advise me I'd be most grateful.

Patsy 2

I have seen mentions of people drinking alcohol in some of the magazines. It seems fine for an adult to have a few glasses of wine, even one too many. Not sure if it would be acceptable for a teenage to do it though. What do you think?

Thursday 20 October 2016

More on blogs etc

Thanks to everyone who responded to my query about blogs and websites. I've decided to set up a new page for this – eventually, when I get round to it ...

If you know of any blogs or websites you feel might be useful to other womagwriters, please put the link and brief description in a comment. It's fine to suggest your own blog.

I'll post up the list here and it will include the first dozen which are mentioned in comments to this post. As I come across more (and get the time) I'll update it – which could involve deletions as well as additions.

This photo isn't of a blog ... it's a log!

Update. The page is now live. It will be updated with suggestions posted as replies to this post and possibly with other useful ites and blogs I come across.

Tuesday 18 October 2016

For inspiration?

Penny A suggested I post up occasional pictures or short poems to act as story prompts. Great idea, Penny - thank you. I'll give it a go and see how much interest there is. Anyone have a suggested name for this feature?

Photos are no problem – I take loads. My poetry is another matter ...

If there are any poets out there who'd like to contribute something, please email me. I'll be happy to include a photo of the author and link to their blog if they wish, but that's not compulsory.

Poems can be writing related, thought provoking, inspiring, funny or downright weird. They contributor MUST hold the copyright to any submitted poem, but it's fine for it to habe been published elsewhere.

If you like word prompts then take a look at the Wednesday word of the week on my other blog.

How do you find inspiration for your stories?

Sunday 16 October 2016

YOU (South Africa) updated guidelines.

South African magazine YOU have updated their submission guidelines. (I know the date says 2015, but I checked them very recently and they still had out of date information on them then.)

I think this bit is new too –

The photo isn't of you, it's of me!

Friday 14 October 2016

Allas update

Thanks to Simon Whaley for letting me know that the editor of Allas magazine has confirmed they WILL consider stories which have been previously published outside of Sweden. He's also the man we have to thank for providing an English translation of the guidelines.

Hmmm, wonder was his music collection looks like?

There's no need to translate the story as they accept submissions in English. For UK writers Allas pay £100 direct into your bank account.

Submissions should be sent to lotta.gustavsson (at)

Thursday 13 October 2016

Jacqueline Zacharias

If anyone knows of a Jacqueline Zacharias who has submitted stories to Dreamcatcher magazine, can they ask her to contact the editor, John Gilham. 

On a related note, when submitting work anywhere, other than competitions requiring anonymous entry, do make sure your full contact details are on the covering letter or title page, so that if the editor has good news to give you, they'll be able to get in touch. You might like to consider putting your email address in the header or footer too, in case one sheet gets detached.

If an editor can't easily contact you, they might well give up and try someone else.

Wednesday 12 October 2016


You might find this link useful if you're trying to find the ISSN so you can register your stories with ALCS.

You are doing that, aren't you?

Tuesday 11 October 2016

Blogs and websites

One of the things which vanished when Blogger threw a wobbly, leaving behind a crumbling ruin, was the list of womagwriter's blogs.

Would it be useful to have that back?

If so would you prefer a short list, compiled by me, of interesting blogs I know about – or a separate page where people could add details of their own blogs and websites?  Or maybe you can think of an even better way of providing this information?

Anything else you'd like to see on this blog?

Sunday 9 October 2016

Possible market

Alfie Dog Fiction are currently open to short story submissions. (Submission window closes on October 16th.) They publish stories in a huge range of genres and are willing to consider previously published work (assuming of course the author has retained the right to offer it). Perhaps you'll find a first home for a story which wasn't quite right for a womag, or a second home for one which was.

Please follow the submission guidelines - and be aware that not all work is automatically accepted. If it isn't considered right for Alfie Dog then it may be rejected, or a rewrite requested, even if it's been published before. Payment is on a royalty basis.

I have over 100 stories up on the site myself. For a free taster of stories by several authors (including me), click here.

Thursday 6 October 2016

My Weekly Pocket Novels - guidelines and helpful hints.

Maggie Swinburne has kindly supplied not only the guidelines for the My Weekly Pocket Novels,
which she edits, but also some very useful tips about what she does and doesn't like.

What makes me happy is having lots of thrills and drama; turmoil and emotional adventures, having a great heroine and an attractive hero. Cake!

I really hate:
Bad weather
Pesky kids
Old people being depicted as past it

Would like a change from: Heroines with red hair and green eyes as so many of them have these desirable attributes.

The word count of 50,000 words is flexible either way, but no more than 55,000 or less than 48,000 please.

I am so pleased when there is interest in the Pocket Novels.

Happy Writing! 

Tuesday 4 October 2016

Take A Break's Fiction Feast guidelines

Update 28/1/2018 - Magazine guidelines keep changing. Use the search facility on this blog, or the labes below the post to find the latest info about each.

Eg This post about TAB FF has been superceded by this one.

Here are the latest TAB FF guidelines. I've been told they'll be updated again towards the end of the year, so will do another post then.

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 (approx. 700 words) £200
2 Page (approx. 1,200 words) 

3-4 Pages (approx. 2,000 words) £250 to £275
Please note: the above word counts are a guide, your final payment will be based on the number of pages printed NOT word count.
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 publication.
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 700 - 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 characterʼs mysterious arrangements turn out to be for a surprise party
* the woman discovers her husbandʼs 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 6-8 weeks before a decision is made concerning your manuscript, so please be patient. If your story has not been returned after twelve 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
NW1 7DT 

Monday 3 October 2016

WW FS - November issue

Here's the contents page from November's Woman's Weekly Fiction Special.

Well done to all my issue buddies!

As you may have noticed, some things have vanished off this blog, such as blog lists and guideline links. It's not my fault - honest! I'm working on putting back anything that's useful.

What IS useful?