Thursday 25 July 2019

A very friendly reception

Our travels in the 'mobile writing retreat' took us to Dundee. We visited some of the major attractions, such as the historic ships, Unicorn and Discovery, nearby castles and of course the DC Thomson office. Despite knowing the address by heart, from sending so many submissions, I had a job locating it, but when we passed Bash Street knew we must be close.

Shirley Blair was very friendly and welcoming, as were the rest of the fiction team, and editor Angela Gilchrist.

Starting top right, there's Sarah Holliday (illustrations) Lucy Crichton, Shirley, me and Tracy Steel. (Yes, I was given tea in a special People's Friend mug!) Angela somehow escaped being in the photo, and 'my' editor Alan Spink was on holiday.

I also met Jill Finlay, former fiction editor of The Weekly News, and the first editor ever to accept one of my stories.

Of course I didn't just chat – I snooped about and asked questions.

The office was very tidy and modern looking, with most work done on computers. The stacks of paper you see are submissions. Due to increased numbers of these, and the 150 year celebrations, there are still some stories sent in April waiting to be read. I asked if any restrictions would need to be brought in to cope with the rise in submissions and was assured there are no plans to do this. Stories by new writers are very welcome – but please be aware it might be quite a while before you get a response. It's felt that although readers enjoy stories by favourite regular authors, they also like to see new names and enjoy quite a wide range of genres.

I tactfully refrained from photographing the fridge full of cheese, but here's the litte red box, containing details of all the stories 'in stock'. (That's those accepted, but not yet scheduled.) It's relatively empty, as Shirley has just scheduled the September issue and a special. Despite the heat (and it really was HOT in Dundee) she's now working on early winter and Christmas stories.

I had a riffle through and recognised quite a few names. Each card contains details of the author, the story, and comments for the illustrator, just to jog memories. The illustrator reads the whole story and may suggest illustration ideas.

There weren't many 3,000 word stories in the box. The entire fiction team mentioned wanting more at this length. Well most mentioned, one pleaded! 200 of these are needed each year – it's 300 in the case of 2,000 word stories, but these are recieved in large numbers.

Stories stay in the box for varying lengths of time, as each issue requires a mix of story lengths, styles and genres. It's possible that a seasonal story might not get included in the appropriate issue for that year and so be kept for the next, or the annual, but that's unusual.

Talking of a good mix – it's to get a good balance that story titles may be changed. Shirley said quite often stories have fairly similar titles, so these will be altered. If a character name is used in more than one story in the issue then this too may be changed. Shirley says she prefers not to do this, as she knows authors take care to select the right name. That suggests unusual names might be a good idea, but Shirley cautioned against those which a reader 'doesn't know how to say in their head'.

I asked for a top tip for new writers and was told, 'include dialogue'. A story is 'most unlikely' to be used without any. (I'm presenting a dialogue/charaterisation workshop in Nottingham in September)

My own tip is to check out Shirley's blog. Along with all kinds of advice, she provides story prompts (there's no requirement to use these, but if you do then let her know as she enjoys seeing how one image can lead to very different stories).

After leaving the fiction desk (via the cake shop Shirley directed me to!) we went up Law Hill to see the 'Our Wullie' painted by Sarah. The building over his hands is the DC Thomson offices.

Picture credits – Mr Patsy ;-)

Monday 22 July 2019

Writing workshop in Nottingham.

Nottingham Writers' Club have a four hour writing workshop in September. It's not exclusively aimed at womagwriters, but the subjects covered are important for that genre – and the presenter has sold hundreds of stories to that market!

Maybe I'll see you there?

Thursday 18 July 2019

Over to you

This month's discussion topic – does the weather influence your writing?

Here's another monthly random photo for use as a story prompt. 

Please share success (or otherwise!) report any womag news, tips, advice you may have, make womag related comments or observations and ask questions – and answer them too if you can help.

 (If you have news or a question relating to a particular magazine, it's also fine to add it as a comment to the latest post for that magazine.)

Saturday 13 July 2019

Meeting womagwriter Bea Charles

I spent a lovely day in Newcastle today, thanks to a guided tour conducted by fellow womagwriter Bea Charles.

We've known each other virtually, and as critique buddies for years, but this is the first time we've managed to meet in person.

We walked miles, saw a lot of bridges, artwork and kittiwakes. We chatted just a bit too, so we needed a few stops for refreshment ;-)

I don't know what or when, but I'm sure something from today will end up in one of my stories – and possibly in one of hers too.

Do you know your writing friends online, face to face, or both?

Do you ever put them in stories?

Sunday 7 July 2019

MW PN guidelines

The latest pocket novel guidelines from My Weekly.
How is everyone? We're currently away in the mobile writing retreat – although I confess I'm not doing all that much writing. More of my time has been spent on the beach and visiting castles and gardens. You'll believe me if I say it's research, won't you?