Thursday 27 August 2020

Guest post by womagwriter and novelist, Jane Bettany

Today's guest is Jane Bettany.

In January 2019, after several years writing short stories for the womag markets, I decided it was time to start the crime novel I’d always dreamed of completing. In this short post, I explain what happened next, and reveal how being a subscriber to Patsy Collins’ blog helped turn my dream into a reality.

Making a start

I began my novel by developing a cast of characters and getting to grips with their backstories. Next, I focused on the plot, which grew from the following premise:

When DI Isabel Blood is called to investigate the discovery of a body on a local housing estate, she realises the crime scene is the property she grew up in as a child. The forensic team estimate the body has been in the ground for up to forty years – coinciding with the time Isabel’s family lived in the house. . . and Isabel’s father vanished without a trace when she was fourteen years old.  

My aim was to create a novel that involved the unravelling of a family mystery, as well as the solving of a crime. I planned the first five chapters carefully, and the rest developed organically once I started writing.

I made my protagonist, DI Isabel Blood, the same age as me (56 at the time of writing the book). However, unlike me, Isabel has three children, goes running regularly, and has spent the whole of her career in the police force.

What happened next…

By July 2019, as I was nearing the end of the first draft, I received an email from Patsy Collins, with one of her
regular blog updates. In this particular post, Patsy shared information about a novel writing competition from Gransnet and HQ. It was for women writers over the age of 40 who had not previously had a novel published, and the novel’s main character also had to be a woman over 40. As Isabel and I easily met the age criteria, and it was free as are all the competitions Patsy features, I thought I’d give it a whirl.

Entrants were asked to submit the first 20,000 words and a synopsis by 30 September 2019, and anyone longlisted would be expected to send in the full manuscript. This deadline gave me the impetus I needed to finish the first draft and move on to the editing process (which I really enjoyed). I submitted my novel a few days before the competition closing date.

To my delight, I received an email a few weeks later asking me to send the full manuscript. Needless to say, when I eventually received the phone call to tell me my novel had been chosen as the winner, I was (quite literally) jumping for joy.

I’m immensely grateful to Patsy. I always enjoy reading her blog and, if I hadn’t subscribed to her posts, I wouldn’t have known about the Gransnet HQ competition.

My novel, In Cold Blood, will be published by HQ Digital (part of Harper Collins) as an eBook today and released as a paperback on 12 November.

Congratulations on your publication, Jane – and thank you so much for letting me know I played a small part in helping to make it happen. I'll be continuing to post links to more free to enter writing competitions, so hopefully more of my blog readers will be able to share their own good news in the future.

Tuesday 25 August 2020


Womag News

Lynn Ely is leaving as fiction editor of South African magazine YOU, at the end of this month.  I wish her well for the future, as I'm sure does everyone who has submitted to this market.

Lynn has built up a good stock of stories and scheduled them until the New Year. If yours are among them, you will have been contacted by now. Submissions are temporarily closed, but will reopen once the current stock of stories have been published.

If you submit to The People's Friend, you might want to take a look at Fiction editor Lucy Crichton's blog post, where she answers questions writers have been asking.

From the last monthly 'over to you' post – Free to enter writing competitions

Erewash Writers have a three free short story and poetry competitions running, with small cash prizes.

The latest Insecure Writer's Support Group anthology contest is open for submissions until 2nd September. This time they're looking for science fiction stories of 4,500 to 6,000 words.

If you'd like to join the Insecure Writer's Support Group, you can do that here. It's free and offers support to insecure writers in various ways, including a monthly blog hop, Facebook group, competitions and website. You can join in as much or as little as you wish.

Sunday 23 August 2020

Over To You

Do you have any womag news?

Are you researching, writing, subbing? Had any acceptances or rejections? Any other news?

Do you know which author used this desk? Feel free to use the as a picture prompt. If you'd like other writing prompts, short exercises and story/scene suggestions then you might find this book useful.

I'd love to hear your competition news.

Have you entered any writing comps? Had any luck? Heard about interesting contests? Got any tips to pass on? (Although I only feature free to enter competitions in my posts it's fine to share news about other competitions too.)

Do you have writing tips to share, questions to ask, or suggestions for this blog?

Thursday 20 August 2020

Guest post by Womagwriter Charlotte Sabin.

Today's guest is Charlotte Sabin, talking about her very first womag sale.

I’ve been writing stories since high school and after I enjoyed a home study course in creative writing I decided to improve on my craft and go to university to study a degree in the creative writing and English literature but due to my mum becoming terminally ill I returned home early before completing my course so transferred my studies to distance learning and then years later achieved enough points to gain a higher education diploma which covered all aspects of creative writing and English literature. I knew I wanted to become a writer but having a family took priority so over the years I self published many children’s books with my fiancé, Andy Wegg, using kdp self publishing platform on Amazon but I still had this burning desire to write short stories for women magazines.

I had submitted and failed with many attempts over the years but it was only recently I thought 'I’m going to give it one more shot', so I wrote a handful of stories and sent them off to several magazines. I’ve had a few rejections so far, actually a lot, but I now know you should never give up on your dreams.

I have had my first success and had my ghost story – The Pink Ball published in this months edition (August) of Yours Fiction and another acceptance from Yours for another ghost story to be published in their October edition.
I sent the story to them via email, following their guidelines back in April and they sent me an email of acceptance in June with a copy of a contract attached and said the date of publication and how much I would be paid.

I was doing cartwheels around my living room and I am looking forward to going out to celebrate with Andy somewhere very special.

Seeing it on the shelf in Tesco was just surreal and seeing it in the magazine was so amazing and I couldn’t stop smiling – it looks fantastic and I can’t wait to see my next story in print and how it will look.

The advice I can give to writers is that never, ever give up and keep writing and keep sending your stories out as one day you could see your name in print and you can feel very proud of yourself! And I will mention use the support of those around you, especially family and loved ones as they are your readers and your proof readers and really listen to their opinions as I really couldn’t have achieved what I have set out to do without their help and their support.

Congratulations on your first sales, Charlotte. I'm sure there will be more, especially if you follow your own excellent advice to keep writing and submitting.

You can find Charlotte's children's books here.

Monday 17 August 2020

A little help

Womag news

I've had an email from Alan Barker. He says, "I’ve just been corresponding with Sean Nolan, editor of Ireland’s Own, asking about their maximum word count for short stories. He said that 2,000 is the standard length and 2,300 the maximum. Hope this helps."

It does, thank you, Alan. I knew 2,000 was the standard length, but hadn't realised it was OK to exceed it by so much.

There don't seem to be any official guidelines available online, but submissions are mentioned on the 'contact us' page of their website.

Womag / free entry writing competition

Thanks to Chris Sutton for the photo from Best magazine, with details of their latest competition. As she says, the T&Cs are very small. If you're reading this on a computer you should be able to click on the image and open a bigger version (please let me know whether or that works for different kinds of devices). It might be better to buy yourself a copy though – and it will definitely be better for the magazine, and show them the benefit of running these competitions, if sales increase.
Reading a few current issue of any magazine you hope to be published in is always a good idea. It helps you understand what they're looking for and learn about their readership. It also helps ensure the magazine stays in business long enough to accept your submissions.

Wednesday 12 August 2020

Going up?

Womag News

I'm told the winning short story from Best Magazine's competition is in the current issue. Congratulations to the winner – I don't know who it is, as I've not yet seen a copy. Hopefully there will be a good response from readers, proving to the publishers that people enjoy reading short fiction in their weekly magazine. It appears the magazine may run more short story competitions in the future.

Make sure your ALCS details are up to date, just in case you qualify for a September payment. I'm not sure how they determine who is, but I got one once, so presumably other womag writers might also get lucky.

Free to enter writing competitions

Mountaineering Scotland are running two competitions, one prose (up to 2,000 words) and one poetry (up to 200 words). Entries are to be about mountains or mountaineering. UK residents only. £200 first prize in each category.

I've climbed mountains. Small ones, with paths you can walk along – not the kind of places you need ropes and ice picks. The pictures are from Ben Wyvis, taken a couple of years ago.

If you're based in Scotland, over 40, and an emerging writer, you might like to apply for Scottish Book Trust's bursary which offers lots of help and support, a retreat and £2,000.

The Perito Prize is open to writers around the world. £500 is on offer to the writer of the winning short story, on the theme of accessibility and inclusion. The maximum word count is 2,000.

My news

My latest novel, a romantic crime story, is now in the final stages. I've even done the dreaded synopsis!

If you sign up for my newsletter you'll get a free short story – as well as occasional writing related news, when there's something exciting to report.

Friday 7 August 2020

Woman's Way guidelines

Here are the latest guidelines for Woman's Way. This Irish publication don't pay for the stories they publish. Personally I don't think it's fair that readers pay for the magazine, yet none of that money reaches the writers. I'm including the guidelines here because my aim is to provide as much information for writers as possible, and allow them to decide what they want to do.

Woman’s Way Fiction submission guidelines
·         We only accept stories via email and we cannot accept stories by post
·         Stories must be previously unpublished. 
·         We will not accept poetry, scripts or an opinion piece
·         Stories will not be considered if they are offensive to gender, sexuality, religion or race.
·         We will not consider stories that contain unnecessary or graphic violence or language
·         We will not accept serialized stories – the story must stand on its own
·         Word count: One page stories of a maximum of 800 words
·         All stories must be in English
·         Stories may edited to Woman’s Way’s house style
·         Woman’s Way will not enter into any discussion on stories that are not chosen for publication

By sending Woman’s Way a story you are agreeing that:
•              You are the original creator of the work submitted   
•              You are the copyright holder of the work

We currently have stories as far as January 2021.

I've added more to the womag information on my website, do let me know if you have suggestions for improvement, or if you know of other publications which could be included.

Wednesday 5 August 2020


Wednesday word of the week

To combine is to join together or unite for a common purpose, to coalesce into one substance or cause this to happen, a big old machine for gathering grain, or co-operation.

Slightly Spooky Stories II combines 24 of my stories in one book (as do I and III !)

Another meaning is to possess qualities which are usually distinct, for example writing combines imagination with discipline.

I'm combining my other blog with this one, and all future posts for both will appear here. I'm not sure precisely how the combination will work out – it's very much a work in progress. Please let me know what you think, and if you have suggestions for improvement.

Insecure Writer's Support Group

For a time last week, I was a very insecure writer. I was wrongly accused of copyright infringement. At first I was deeply distressed, fearing I'd get into all kinds of trouble and, even worse, people might think me capable of deliberately stealing another person's work. Thankfully my on-line friends, many of them writers, were extremely supportive. They offered help and reassured me.

It makes so much difference to know others are on our side, can sympathise with our problems and possibly even help. That's why Alex set up the Insecure Writer's Support Group, and it does a great job. You can join here.

Free to enter writing competitions

Under the Hood are looking for short stories about facing down monsters. The prize is publication and $100.

The Rebecca Swift Foundation is offering £1,000, support and coaching for the winner of The Women's Poetry prize.

What qualities do you combine? Are you ever insecure about anything to do with your writing? Do you enter writing competitions?

Womag stuff

I'm (very slowly) creating a database of guidelines posts and official links for all the womags on my website. Does it look as though it might be useful?

Monday 3 August 2020

My Weekly guidelines

Here are the latest My Weekly pocket novel guidelines. Unlike with the weekly magazine, submissions are accepted from all writers.

New guidelines for short stories have also been released, which means if you've not heard back about anything sent in June or July, it hasn't been accepted. My Weekly don't accept unsolicited fiction submissions. Stories will only be considered from those who are on their list of approved writers. If you feel you should be on this list and haven't been sent the latest guidelines, you'll need to contact the current fiction editor.