Wednesday, 28 July 2021

Where to send your short stories – and why you write them


I know some people write entirely for their own pleasure. There's absolutely nothing wrong with that! For most though, the real satisfaction comes when it's selected for publication, chosen as a winning entry, read and enjoyed by others and/or when they get paid for it. 

Here are some places you can send your short stories in the hope of achieving one of those outcomes –

Free entry writing competitions

Thanks to my writing buddy Sheila Crosby for passing on the details of this short story competition. Entrants must be resident in the UK or Ireland. Stories can be up to 4,000 words and the prize is £3,500. I'm definitely having a go!


And thanks (yet again!) to Alyson Hilbourne for telling me about a competition.
Future Folklore is a 'speculative fiction contest that imagines a world where equitable climate change initiatives have been set in motion'. The prize is $400 for a story between 1,400 and 2,000 words.

A reminder that Secret Attic run regular competitions and challenges. There's a £20 for the best story in each of the monthly competitions. Other selected pieces are also published.

Submission opportunities


There's no payment for either of these, but money isn't everything.

Paragraph Planet are still accepting 75 word pieces to publish on the site. These can be complete mini stories, scenes or extracts from longer pieces. Published pieces are promoted on Twitter.

Cafelit want 'thought-provoking and entertaining stories, though ones which might be a tad different from what you normally read in a woman’s magazine'. These can be tiny, 3,000 words or anything in between. Successful pieces will be published on the site and may go into the 'Best of' anthology. You may submit a mini biography to be published alongside your work.

Women's magazines

My submissions database is a guide to which magazines will consider unsolicited submissions, what they want and how to submit them.



Do you write for fun, in the hope of publication, prizes or payment, or for another reason? 

For me there are lots of reasons, including it being something to keep me occupied on rainy days during our campervan trips.

Wednesday, 21 July 2021

Over to you! (and free entry writing competitions)

The winner of the copy of Violet's War as offered in my last post is Lindsay Bamfield. Congratulations! I'll be in touch soon to arrange delivery of the ebook.

I'd love to hear your competition news.

My apologies for accidentally publishing the half finished version of this post last week and having to quickly take it down as it conflicted with something else! And thanks to Liz who spotted what I'd done before I did and commented with a link to this free to enter novel writing competition.

Thanks to Alan Barker for sending me a link to this competition, which he spotted while on holiday.  They're looking for poetry and short (500) word stories with the theme of 'touching the wild'. Work cannot have been previously published – you may submit up to three pieces.

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 any
 womag news?

Sorry, I don't yet have an update on the ALCS issue with DCT publications (which I posted about here). Do you know anything more?

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


Feel free to use this photo as a picture prompt. If you'd like other writing prompts, short exercises and story/scene suggestions then you might find this book useful.

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



Wednesday, 14 July 2021

Guest post on writing historical fiction, by Rosemary J. Kind

Today's guest is my friend Rosemary J. Kind. She's the author of several novels including the excellent Flynn and Reilly series, and co-author of From Story Idea to Reader. I've asked her to visit the blog to share some insights into writing her latest historical novel, Violet's War.

You've written several historical novels, Ros. Which comes first, the story idea or the research?

Definitely the story idea. Once I’ve got a story then I know when and what I need to research. Usually, I’ll come across something and just feel compelled to tell the tale that’s behind it, in a way that can bring history to life.

Violet's War is set at the time of the first World War. What made you chose that period?
 

The period was chosen by the story idea. In 1921 the English Football Association banned women’s football from their members’ grounds. Women’s football had become very popular as a result of factory teams raising money for charity during WW1. I wanted to bring that story to a much wider audience.


Which publications / resources have been most useful for your research?

There was a Preston based team called Dick, Kerr Ladies Football Team. They were one of the teams that made women’s football famous in their day and thankfully there are books dedicated to what they did. I read books specifically about the team and generally about women’s football. As the subject grew I also had to do a lot of research into WW1 and conditions and life in the trenches. I watched many YouTube videos of original footage and documentaries from the period. I’m also very fortunate to have a good friend who is an expert in the field and how was happy to answer my many questions.

Your characters' names seem just right for the period. How did you chose those? 

That was really fun. For one thing, I asked my readers for the names of their ancestors from that time. I had so many wonderful responses that it gave me good variety to choose from. I also use census records where I need to, in order to make sure I do get names which are typical for both the period and the location.

Violet Dobson is a football player. Were you already interested in the history of women's football, or did you have to learn it all for the novel?

When I was young I wanted to play football. I spent all my childhood out on a football pitch up until I was about ten. Then I went to our teachers, on behalf of myself and some of the other girls and asked if we could have a girls’ football team, instead of playing netball. This was in 1975 and I was very firmly told ‘no’ we could only play netball. It was an unforgivable response, but typical of the time. Sadly I left football behind because I was so cross about the response. I wish I’d known about the history of the women’s game then and had fought for our right to play. I’m just glad I know now.

Attitudes to women playing have changed quite a lot. Is there an extract you can share, without giving away too much plot, which shows some of the off pitch issues the teams faced?

‘Violet was just wondering whether to carry on when an older man walking a dog paused alongside the pitch. “You girls should be ashamed of yourselves, parading around like that. You,” he pointed his stick at Florrie, “the one in the shorts. Put some clothes on, young lady, before I have you arrested.”

Violet gasped, but Florrie was unfazed.

“Do you want to join in?” Florrie called to the man, who was smartly dressed and standing very upright for a man of advanced years.

He waved his stick at her and marched away from the ground.

Violet shook her head sadly; that was exactly the sort of thing she was afraid of.’


Did you learn any facts which caused you to change parts of your story?

That happens all the time. The biggest change was realising I needed to include chapters from Billy’s point of view and tell the story of him going off to war, in parallel to Vi working in munitions back home.

Can you share an example of historical detail and how you used it in the novel?

I had to understand what the girls would wear both working in a munitions factory and playing football. I deliberately don’t give the reader reams of descriptive passages, that’s not my style. However, it is vital that the tiny details that are fed in throughout the story are accurate. It took me quite a time to find the details for Billy, where he would have trained, how many slept in a room even how much their kit weighed. It’s all vital to making the story feel authentic.

I know from my own writing that your research will have provided more information than


you could use in one book. How do you decide what to leave out?

I only include what is necessary to give the reader a picture. That can be tiny details such as telling you that Vi traced the rose pattern on the wallpaper with her eyes while she was thinking. There is a lot of fascinating information, but I’d rather give you a list of my sources in case you want to read more than overdo the description so that the story gets lost. For me, it’s all about the story feeling authentic. If my readers want non-fiction description they would look elsewhere.

Violet's War really is a good story. You can get it here. You might also like to read The Blight and the Blarney, which is the first in Ros's Flynn and Reilly series and currently free, and Are We Nearly Famous? which is another freebie by Ros, myself and two of our friends.

Ros is giving away an ebook copy of Violet's War, which can be sent anywhere. To be in with a chance of winning, leave a comment saying you'd like a copy by midnight UK time 19th July. I'll announce the winner a few days later.

Tuesday, 13 July 2021

ALCS and TPF/MW

 It's currently not possible to make ALCS claims for The People's Friend and My Weekly. This is because 'DC Thomson have moved their mandate from the Publishers Licensing Society to the Newspaper Licensing Agency.' This applies not just to new stories, but also those which were published several months ago. I don't know if the situation can be reversed/resolved, but it is being investigated.

The Friend fiction team have promised to keep writers updated, which I'm sure they will do. 

Monday, 12 July 2021

Table for two and doubling up.

Free to enter writing competitions

For this competition from Briefly Write, you're asked for short poems. There's a £50 prize.

The Val Wood prize offers £100 and publication for the best feel good short story of up to 2,000 words on the theme of Now and Then. 

Sticking to the sequence, the prize for the Beechmore Books writing competition is £200. You can enter fiction, non-fiction or poetry. The theme is Perspective.

My news

My 30th book, a lovely new romantic short story collection, Love Is The Answer is out today! It's also our wedding anniversary. That is not a coincidence.

Here's the blurb – Love is something that many people go to great lengths to find, and to keep hold of. Willow helps others find theirs through a combination of meticulous programming and random chance, Sal stumbles into romance through a series of embarrassing accidents and Gran discovers love on a protest march.

Margaret makes a very practical arrangement to secure her share of love and happiness, Doreen has to call on a friend to help discover it and Nadine uses a dog to track it down. Lorna wins her happy ever after through a dangerous aim at a coconut shy.

Lynn and Andrew's marriage has gone aground like a stricken ship, but it and the vessel eventually refloat. Weirdly it is Thomas Telford who helps Nikki relocate it. For Patrick and Angie it's a kite which does the trick, and Rachel has to break her arm to heal her relationship.

Whether they're together forever, broken-hearted, or still trying to make it work, anyone who has loved has a story to tell. This collection contains 24 of them.


With a bit of luck, Gary and I will be enjoying a romantic meal tonight – from the comfort of our campervan.

Friday, 9 July 2021

Book promotion ideas


If you've got a book published, whether with a big name publishing house, you've done it yourself on a shoestring, or anything in between you're going to need to promote it. Writers are often told we need to 'build a platform' on social media, so tweeting and making Facebook posts is an obvious thing to do.

Personally I do think it's sensible to mention our books that way – but only now and then. I've seen writers send out multiple tweets per day, sometimes even per hour, all just asking people to buy their book. I can't tell you if they're still doing it, as I've unfollowed or muted them all. It's better, I think, to tweet about the book and your writing life, and include some non promotional stuff too, than do nothing but masses of straightforward promotion on social media. After all, if you want to buy books is that where you look? And when you use social media is it a stream of adverts you're hoping to see? (By the way, here's the twitter profile for this blog and here's my personal one.)

It's possible to pay for social media advertising. I don't do that myself, for the reasons above, plus it's expensive and sounds complicated, but I know they can work well for people who are prepared to put in the time and risk some money. Paid advertising on Amazon is something I've dabbled in. To me that makes more sense as we're targeting people who want to buy books like ours, but might not otherwise find them amongst the millions of others on offer. Again it takes a little time to learn how to use them, and there's a risk of spending money for no result, but you can set daily limits and it's easy to make changes.

Winning a writing competition would be good publicity. My first novel publication came about after I won a novel writing competition. Although that wasn't a massive success and I've since got the rights back to Escape To The Country, it was a big boost to my confidence at the time and in the long run helped me become in Indie author. (I'll be back with more free to enter writing competition links soon.)

Newsletters are an excellent idea, as people will only sign up if they actually want to hear from us and learn about our latest releases, promotions and other news. It's a requirement that people can easily unsubscribe which is good because we know those who remain on the list really want to be. It's common to offer a 'reader magnet' which is usually a freebie, often something exclusive to newsletter subscribers. For my newsletter, I offer a free short story. As a lot of my books are collections of short stories, that seems sensible.

Another thing you can do is have a blog and pepper it with mentions of your own books, along with everything else you post about. You might have noticed I do that! If you don't have your own blog then I don't blame you – they are time consuming. In that case you might like to write guest posts for someone else's blog. You'll need to do a little more than send out blanket emails to every blogger you know asking them to promote you though. Read the blog, and leave comments so you're not approaching as a stranger. Think about the type of post which might interest readers of that blog and offer something appropriate. If you do more than one guest post to different blogs, don't send exactly the same text with exactly the same photos. That's not fair.

A website is another possibility.
Here's mine. They do take time to maintain, but are a good way of making it easy for interested readers to find out more about you and your books.

Perhaps you could get interviewed, or otherwise included, on a podcast. I've done a few of those.

Local newspapers are a good place to try. That could be paid for ones, the free ones and online newspapers. The latter are likely to be easiest to get into as they're not restricted for space the way 'real' papers are. Whichever you try, don't just send them a 'buy my book' promotion, but try to make it personal – local papers like pieces about local people. To further increase your chances of it being accepted, make the article as locally relevant as possible. Even if it wasn't set in your home town, maybe you wrote some of it in a local coffee shop, or used the local library for research.

Here's an example of something I recently sent to my local online paper.

You could try national publications, but unless you're well known and/or pay well you're unlikely to be successful. However if you are one of their writers you might be lucky – it's definitely worth at least mentioning your book to your usual contact. This is what happened when I told 'my' People's Friend editor about my first audiobook.

If you've got an interesting angle (as opposed to 'author writes book') it might be worth contacting your local radio, or even TV station.

If you're going to try to persuade bookshops and libraries to stock your book, you may like to create an advance information sheet to send them, or deliver in person. Perhaps you could also leave some of the sheets for readers to pick up, or offer bookmarks or business cards with the book details on. (It might be possible to leave some of these in other venues such as cafes or your dentist's waiting room.) If you're feeling really brave you could ask about giving talks or holding a book signing in the library or bookshop – or contact local groups and clubs to see if they'd like you to visit. Oh, and anywhere you can get away with it, drop in links like this, which show all your available books. Have you tried any of these marketing methods, or attempted something different? Which interesting promotional attempts have persuaded you to buy books? Have I tempted you to take a look at any of mine?

Tuesday, 6 July 2021

Winner announcement and womag updates

The winner Eirin picked to recieve a copy of I Know I Saw Her by E D Thompson, as offered in this post is – CHARLIE. Congratulations! Please email me (address on the questions and contact page) and I'll put you in touch with Eirin to arrange delivery.

Womag news

I've recently updated my guidelines database. I hope you find this useful. As ever, if you learn of any changes, or hear of other potential markets please let me know. For those either leave a comment to any post, or email me using the address on the questions and contact page.

Yours and Yours Fiction have new guidelines, which you can find here. These guidelines explain their rejections policy. Thanks to Pamela Gough for bringing them to my attention.

For Yours the guidelines state – "We also publish longer stories that are serialised over three issues. These should be approximately 3,000 words long and the first two parts must end on a cliff-hanger so that readers will be eager to find out what happens in the next issue."

It's not clear to me if they mean 3 x 1000 words or 3 x 3000 words. Anyone know?


Susan Watson will be returning as My Weekly's fiction editor in September. Claire Gill, who covered her maternity leave, will be remaining with the magazine working on virtual events and digital content. The magazine is currently (still!) closed to unsolicited submissions.

My News

My short story collection Coffee & Cake is now available as an audiobook, as well as in paperback and ebook formats. The paperback can be ordered through your local bookshop, or library, if you prefer not to use Amazon.

Thursday, 1 July 2021

Guest post by novelist Eirin Thompson

Eirin Thompson regularly comments on this blog, so when I heard about her good news I thought others of you would like to share in it and learn how it came about.

I am surprised and delighted to share with you the news that I’m having a book published on 1st July. It’s called ‘I Know I Saw Her’, with the author name E.D. Thompson, published by Hachette. It’s a mystery/suspense novel, and the main action takes place in a quiet suburban street over one sultry summer. Big among my influences were the Hitchcock film ‘Rear Window’ and Paula Hawkins’ novel ‘The Girl on the Train’.

I am surprised because, some time ago, I thought I’d had my moment as a writer and it was over; I gave up, retrained in something else and set writing dreams aside. But then I discovered the possibility of writing short stories for women’s magazines. After a stuttering start, I began to get acceptances and some very buoying feedback, and to grow in confidence. I also learned, with practice, how to write fictional dialogue properly for the first time!

On the face of it, I’ve accumulated a few bits and bobs over the years that might equip me as a writer. I trained as a newspaper reporter with the National Council for the Training of Journalists and worked for some years in that capacity. I have an English Literature degree with First Class Honours and a Masters in Creative Writing. I got a two-book deal in my thirties for a darkish comedy drama about family life and a sequel set in the workplace.

But when my two-book deal ended, not having set the world on fire with sales, the third novel, on which I had worked so hard, languished in a folder on my shelf.

My writing ‘career’ was caput and, my three children all now at ‘big’ school, I looked elsewhere for a living.

Where were my writing qualifications now? All muddled up with the many other roles I’d played during a messy life that, far from being strategically-aimed at the literary, also included stints as a waitress, a civil servant, a chambermaid, a cleaner, an usherette and even a fairground attendant.

I retrained in Children’s Care, Education and Development and then in Playwork and spent several fulfilling years working with children and young people.

Forced to take some weeks off from my new employment to recover from surgery, I was brought a few women’s magazines and became intrigued by the fiction sections – were these filled by in-house writers, or did they consider submitted work?

I can’t recall exactly what homework I did – it might have been then that I invested in The Writers’ and Artists’ Yearbook – but of a bunch of three tales that I sent off, one was accepted. I was extremely lucky, because that was all it took for me to believe that there was at least the possibility of building something and I tentatively began to submit more.

I discovered helpful and interesting blogs like this one, and Helen Yendall’s blog-about-writing, and I found that I absolutely loved writing for what are fondly known as the ‘womags’. One of the wonderful things about conjuring up such a variety of stories is that it makes excellent use of a life lived messily – no experience is wasted; it can all be used to inform and fuel the fiction. Nobody at the magazines asks what your qualifications to write are, either, or whether you’ve failed in the past – the editors are interested in what’s on the page you submit. The nice ones – and I’ve only encountered nice ones – are interested in you, too.

With some success achieved, I eventually started to consider the notion of trying my hand at a novel again – daunting, when you’ve had to write off one before. I studied Stephen King’s ‘On Writing’, had a gnawing idea for a mystery/suspense story, and finally decided to go for it.

The result is ‘I Know I Saw Her’, which I sent to my former agent, who passed it on to my former

editor at Hachette, who said yes!

The fifty-one-year-old main character, Alice, is a supply teacher who is struggling with work and with other things. She often feels fragile, but she’s stronger than she thinks she is, which is just as well, given what she’s about to stumble into – dark dealings in suburbia, a neighbour’s life in danger, and local police who dismiss her as a crank.

I’ve worked hard in an effort to make the book a page-turner and a thumping good summer read – because I really want readers to enjoy it. When you get right down to it, that’s pretty much the reason we write anything, isn’t it?

But I really don’t think I’d be in this position if I hadn’t started writing for women’s magazines. The boost it gave me to be accepted for publication, and the lessons it taught me about writing for a discerning readership were invaluable. You can buy ‘I Know I Saw Her’ by E.D. Thompson here.

Surprised, delighted and wishing much writing success to all the womagwriters and competition-enterers who follow Patsy’s blog.

Eirin

P.S. I have a copy of the book to give away (UK or RoI only, I’m afraid). If anyone would like to be considered, please pop your name in the comments section below and I’ll pull one from a hat, if there’s more than one of you. Thanks!

If you'd like a copy of Eirin's book, please say so in the comments. Entries close midnight 5th July (UK time) and I'll announce the winner soon after. They'll be asked to email Eirin with the UK or ROI address they'd like the book sent to.

Sunday, 27 June 2021

A few more freebies

Free entry competitions

Evesham Festival of words are running a limerick competition, with a £25 book token as the first prize.

The first prize for this flash fiction competition from FCES is $20,000! There are runner up prizes too. Entries accepted from anywhere in the world.

For this competition from Bath Spa University you just have to say why you love your favourite book, poem or play to win £300. You don't even have to write the answer – you can record it instead if you prefer.

My writing

Here's one of my short stories you can read for free.

Womag news

Yesterday I received a copy of Ireland's Own in the post and discovered they'd published a story I'd submitted last October. Usually, if they're going to use a submission, I hear back within a couple of weeks. I'm sure in this case that it was just an oversight or technical glitch. Fortunately I'd not since sent it anywhere which only takes unpublished work, so it was a nice surprise without any potential drawbacks, but that might not have been the case.

This isn't the first time I've not known about a story being accepted until I've seen it in a magazine, or got a payment. It happened with my very first submission and as far as I can remember at least three times since. More commonly (although not actually common) is to hear back about a story long after the usual response time. 

When considering whether or not to re-submit a story elsewhere, keep in mind that neither editors nor technology are infallible. Just because you usually hear within a few weeks doesn't mean you always will. If the editor usually sends rejections then, after a suitable period, query any non response. With those who say that after a certain period stories can be assumed to be rejected then wait at least as long as they say, even if you've always had any acceptances much more quickly. If the magazine uses social media, has a blog or sends out contributor emails, check these in case they contain news of a delay or change in the way they handle submissions. 

If you do discover that, for any reason, you've submitted a story somewhere that you've since realised you shouldn't have sent, contact the editor immediately, marking the email as urgent and explain what has happened. The sooner they know, the less of a problem it's likely to be.



Friday, 25 June 2021

Update about The People's Friend submissions

In the last over to you post*, there were queries about submissions to The People's Friend made prior to the first lockdown in 2020. I contacted Lucy Crichton to ask whether these might still be under consideration and what authors should do about these. She responded very swiftly. Thanks, Lucy!

The good news is that although the fiction team are still working from home, she has now been able to get into the office, so all postal submissions can now be read. I didn't ask how big the pile was, but it must be enormous.

Lucy says that anyone who has already been published by The Friend should raise any queries directly through their assigned editor.  Because there was already something of a wait for responses prior to lockdown, it is possible that stories sent then have still not been read. These are now being processed and authors should have a response within the next few weeks. 

My advice to people who are as yet unpublished by The Friend, and still waiting to hear about pre lockdown stories is to be patient just a little longer. Answering queries will take up time which could otherwise have been used to read submissions.


Don't forget that The Friend submission guidelines have now changed. Following the new requirements will help process our stories (a little) more quickly, so try to remember about the file names etc.

* It's still fine to comment there. I do check these and do my best to find answers to any questions raised whenever they're asked.






Wednesday, 23 June 2021

Over to you!

 


Do you have any womag news?


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


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?

The #WritingChat topic tonight is using humour in our writing. Everyone welcome to join in by tweeting 8-9 UK time, using the hashtag.

Wednesday, 16 June 2021

Eight free to enter writing competitions!

I have a big batch of writing competitions for you today! If you would like me to keep posting about these, then please leave a comment on this post. (This blog post – not the sign post!)

This competition from the University of Southampton is for radio plays. The prize is a script appraisal and treatment from the Literacy Consultancy.

For this short story competition from On The Premises, you're asked to write about a monster. The prize is $250.

Secret Attic run a monthly short story competition. You can submit anything you like, including previously published work, as long as it's under 1500 words and not poetry. There's a £20 Amazon voucher for the best entry. That story, and selected others will be published in 'a booklet' which will be available as hard copy and pdf. Everyone who has a story selected will receive a pdf copy.

The winners for the current competition will be announced on our wedding anniversary, so I'm quite tempted to send something romantic!

A reminder about Wordhound's regular competitions for children 12 years and under. There's a new prompt each month, a prize and they do their best to give some kind of encouragement to each entrant. Writers may submit from anywhere.

You can write fact or fiction for this competition from BCSA. Anyone may enter, as many pieces as they wish, but do read all the details about what they're looking for. There's a £400 first prize.

This poetry competition has a £150 prize.

If you consider yourself to be working class, live in the UK or ROI and are over 18, you can enter this competition from W&A. There's a £200 prize. They're looking for the beginning of an unpublished work.

For this competition from Black Spring Press you can send anything, even if it's rushed and imperfect, from anywhere. (You'll need to sign in to Submittable to see the details). The prize is a publishing contract offer, with an advance. I've got lots of imperfect unfinished stuff and am really tempted to give this a go.

Are you tempted to try any of these? If not, is that because you don't like to enter any kind of competition, or have I just not found one to suit you?

Sunday, 13 June 2021

Just a quickie


Here's a photo from my novel research, writing competition and one of my short stories for you to read.

The Hysteria Writing Competition is free to enter, has categories for poetry, flash fiction and short stories with a £50 prize for each. Writers of any nationality may enter. Unpublished work only and this must be available for the anthology. 


Wednesday, 2 June 2021

In a rush...



IWSG


Ooops! I nearly missed posting for the Insecure Writer's Support Group post. I'm blaming the bank holiday, the sunshine and being busy – in a good way. That's not only left me unsure what day it is, but also means I've not had time to feel insecure. 




Do you like being busy? I do, as long as I'm not too busy, but I know some people to have a period of calm after any activity or project, to prepare them for whatever is coming next.

Busy as I am, I do know it's June and will make sure I have time to stop and smell the roses. I photographed these at Mottisfont Abbey yesterday.


 

Womag news


Just in case you missed the news, The People's Friend are no longer accepting postal submissions (I don't think any of the magazines do now?). There's an update on what's happening with existing submissions here.


Free entry writing competition news


This competition is only open to 'underrepresented' writers in the UK. If you qualify, you're in with the chance of a prize which includes £10,000. You do need to act fast though!

This one is also only open to UK residents, and also requires that they've not previously had work published. Winning entries will recorded to form part of the stories festival and the author will get free tickets.

My news

In my last post I mentioned I'd found an outlet for some of my non-fiction pieces. I've since decided to try some fiction there too. Here's my story.






Friday, 28 May 2021

Something different


Writing isn't my only interest – I'm also a keen gardener and photographer. I've found a way to combine these into one project. There's even the possibility I could make a little money from it...




I'm publishing articles on herbs through Medium a website which delivers ad free informative articles, news stories and opinion pieces to paying readers. Visitors can read a few articles for free each month, but need to join up at a membership of $5 a month or $50 a year for unlimited access. A proportion of this money goes to the writers.


As I write articles for my local horticultural society I have a stock of pieces I can upload quickly and easily. They only allow three per day, so I'll be adding fresh content for the next fortnight at least. It's too soon yet to say if it will be worth my time to write new pieces after that – I'll update you in a couple of weeks.



The photos in this post are all ones I've used on the Medium website. Here are a few links to articles of mine –

https://patsy-collins.medium.com/echinacea-echinacea-purpurea-f7da0e89d10d

https://patsy-collins.medium.com/chinese-chives-allium-tuberosum-garlic-chives-d4bfe2b5a9b8

I think this one has the best colour combination – https://patsy-collins.medium.com/dill-anethum-graveolens-822e248700cf


If there's a subject you're passionate about, or you have opinions you'd like to share, then maybe you'll be interested in writing for this, or a similar website. I'll be interested to hear which topics you'd chose if you did give this a try.

Saturday, 22 May 2021

Free entry writing competitions.

There haven't been many free entry writing competitions lately. Either that or I've not been very good at finding them. I did spot these two though.

 Secret Attic have a free to enter short story competition. There's no theme and you can even submit previously published stories. Maximum word count is 1,500. All selected stories will be published in a booklet which will be available as a hard copy and online. The best story wins a £20 Amazon voucher and hard copy of the booklet. Other contributors will receive a pdf copy.



There is a theme of family for this poetry competition. The first prize is £150 and a 'large large, bespoke commemorative plate'. 

Family is also the theme of my latest short story collections, Happy Families.

Thanks to Alyson for the link to this competition. On the Premises are offering $35 for a story of 25 to 50 words. That's a heck of a rate per word!

Wednesday, 19 May 2021

Over To You!

 


Do you have any womag news?


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


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?

My news – I now have a second book available in audio format as well as paperback and ebook.



Sunday, 16 May 2021

Fiction guidelines for Woman's Weekly, Woman and Woman's Own.


These guidelines have been kindly supplied by fiction editor Andrew Shaw.

 Woman's Weekly Fiction Guidelines

Fiction is a vital ingredient of Woman's Weekly, the place where readers can escape and switch off. This doesn't mean predictable plots or old-fashioned romances. Escapism means getting involved in an engaging tale with believable characters. Above all, we are looking for originality and a wide variety of themes and moods, such as mystery, humour, relationships and family issues, with warmth and hope still an important factor. “Uplifting” is the word to keep in mind. We are not looking for stories about Covid, lockdown, or stories that dwell on death/illness/hospitals... Try to be subtle in your writing and remember the maxim: "Show don't tell".

We recommend you read several issues of Woman's Weekly to get a feel for our audience. Unfortunately, we can't offer feedback, but if your writing shows promise, we will contact you. Please be advised that stories may be edited as part of the publishing process.

WHAT WE ARE LOOKING FOR: For the weekly magazine: Short stories of 800 and 1,800 words.

GENERAL TIPS

  • Submissions should be my email.

  • Single quotation marks throughout.

  • Your name, address and contact details should be included on the first page.

  • The title of the story and the word count should be in the document name.

Please note that it can take up to sixteen weeks for manuscripts to be considered, and that we are unable to enter into any correspondence by email.

Please send stories to: andrew.shaw@futurenet.com

Andrew says, "The same guidelines apply to Woman and Woman's Own, however, we are only looking for 1800-word stories for those publications. All submissions should be by email. We are no longer accepting hard copy submissions.... All fiction stories for Woman's Weekly, Woman and Woman's Own are on an 'all rights' basis.

Thursday, 13 May 2021

Feedback, families and the future.

Hi. How are things with you? We've been able to get out in the van a bit recently, and I'm trying to get back into the habit of using it as my mobile writing retreat. 

Feedback on your writing

One of the things The People's Friend mentioned in a recent tweet is that they can't critique stories or give detailed feedback. As far as I'm aware no magazine editor does this – please correct me if you know of any that do. This service is sometimes offered to competition entrants, either as part of the entry fee, or for a small additional charge. It might well be worth the money, especially for an ongoing competition.

Feedback, critiques, constructive criticism – whatever you call it, it's very valuable for a writer. That's especially true when we start out, but most experienced writers (myself included) also have at least one other person read their work critically before they submit it, as they've discovered how useful this is.

If you're really lucky there will be a local writing group which provides just the type of feedback you need. Often that's not the case – there might not be a group you can attend reasonably conveniently, or they might not be at the appropriate level for you, or might write in a very different genre. That's where online groups, forums, and critiquing partnerships can be immensely useful. If you know of an online group or site which is open to new members, please post details in the comments. And do the same if you'd like to swap critiques with someone else, or offer a feedback service, or are looking for somewhere to ask for feedback. Hopefully a few of you can find a suitable match.

You might like to consider joining the Facebook group run by Rosemary J. Kind and I in association with our writing book. We don't offer a full critique service, but you can ask for help and advice, plus there's sometimes an opportunity to post up a short extract for feedback.

Womag news

The People's Friend have given more information about submitting via email on their Twitter page. The gist of it is to only use the email address for short stories and that, just as with postal submissions, these must comply with their submission guidelines.

Following the guidelines is important with all markets. The magazines can only publish stories of certain lengths and they're sent plenty of these. If yours is too long, or too short, they would either have to request that you altered it, or do so themselves. Obviously this takes time, something no editor has lots of. I think you can see that they'd much rather buy a story from someone who has followed the guidelines and supplied something they can use without a great deal of further effort.


I've been in contact with Andrew Shaw at Future who has confirmed that fiction for Woman's Weekly, Woman and Woman's Own can only be accepted on an 'all rights' basis.  Stories submitted to him will be considered for all three magazines.  If I'm supplied with guidelines for any of these I'll share them in a future* post. Andrew doesn't deal with the 'Best of' magazine – that's a different department with different requirements.

*See what I did there? Future publishing, get it?

My news

I have a new book out! Happy Families is a collection of 24 family related short stories. The paperback can now be ordered from Amazon, your local bookshop, or in some cases your local library. The ebook is on 'pre order' and will be available in a few days.

I'll be back with more news, and some free to enter writing competitions soon.






Monday, 10 May 2021

Guest post on self publishing with Ingram Spark

Today’s guest is Sarah Holroyd. She is the owner of Sleeping Cat books, which offers publishing services for independent authors. 

Thanks for joining me today, Sarah, and sharing some of your publishing know how! Would you like to tell us a bit about yourself, the company and your role as editor and book designer

Thanks for having me, its great to be here! Im American, and a native English speaker. I have a degree in archaeology, which obviously was very useful. [laughs] I started Sleeping Cat Books in 2010, but Id been doing freelance copyediting work since 2006. I provide copyediting, proofreading, and book design services to indie authors. But beyond that, I consider myself a bit of a guide through the whole publishing process. A lot of my clients are completely new to this business, so I try to provide as much guidance and advice as I can to help them navigate what is, admittedly, a very complex world.

You're right, it is complicated! 

I recently posted some information on publishing with Amazon, but of course they’re not the only option. I know you suggest that authors use Ingram Spark, can you tell us a little about this company and why you recommend them?

IngramSpark (IS) is owned by Ingram Content Group, the largest US book distributor. For many years, Ingram has operated a self-publishing company called Lightning Source, Inc. (LSI). As other platforms, like CreateSpace (later KDP Print) gained in popularity, indie authors began to find LSI as well, which had, until that point, catered mainly to small independent publishers. LSI wasnt really set up to deal with indie authors brand new to the business. So Ingram spun off IS for individual authors and small publishers with fewer than 30 titles in their back catalogue. LSI remains available to small publishers with more than 30 titles in their catalogue. So IS is like LSIs little sister. Since both print on demand (POD) platforms are owned by Ingram, they both benefit from the widest US distribution possible, along with a global distribution network through Ingrams Global Connect program.

IS publish ebooks, paperbacks and hardbacks. Would you suggest an author use them for all three?

IS is great for print books, but not so much for ebooks. They keep too much of the revenue from ebooks compared to going direct to ebook retailers or using a distributor like Draft2Digital or Smashwords. Also, some ebook retailers and platforms provide promotion opportunities (such as KDP and Kobo) that you can only access if youre direct with that platform. IS also doesnt give the publisher much control over ebooks on their platform. You have much more control through other distributors.

I'm pleased to hear that, as I'm currently using KDP for my ebooks! 

Would it be a good idea to put the IS paperbacks on Amazon as well? 

Absolutely. You can get the best of both worlds by using both KDP Print and IS for the identical paperback. But the key is to use the same ISBN for the same book on both platforms, which means you must own that ISBN. There have been cases recently of one or the other rejecting the ISBN as being in use with this method. My suggestion to avoid any such issues is to set up the project on both, through entering the ISBN and imprint information, and then saving your progress. Once both platforms have accepted that ISBN, you should be fine to proceed in whichever order you wish.

A good tip, thanks. I'll make sure I do that as like you I've heard of the rejection of ISBNs.

There are no up front costs with Amazon. That’s not the case with IS is it?

No, its not. IS does charge a $49 title setup fee, and a $25/file revision fee for any changes after youve approved the online digital eProof file. But members of some professional organizations may get an IS discount code as a benefit of membership, and its sometimes possible to find other codes to waive these IS fees.

Yes, I'm a member of Alli and they have a code members can use. 

Are there benefits to using IS that authors don’t get with Amazon?

Other than the widest possible distribution? True, KDP offers Expanded Distribution (ED), which lists the book in the Ingram catalogue. But the wholesale discount for KDP ED is fixed at 60%. IS allows the publisher to set the wholesale discount as low as 30%, so you can potentially earn a *whole* lot more through IS than through KDP ED. IS also allows the publisher to accept returns, which KDP doesnt do. So if your goal is to get on brick & mortar shelves, youll need to allow returns (and set a 55% wholesale discount) through IS.

I’m already a convert. I’ve begun uploading my back catalogue and will publish all my new books through IS as well as Amazon. For those who are thinking of doing the same, can you explain how to publish with IS? 

It can be intimidating using the IS website for the first time, especially if youre already familiar with the KDP website. The good news is that I have a step-by-step guide to the IS title setup and file upload process: https://sleepingcatbooks.com/wp-content/uploads/2020/09/IS_Print_Guide-1.pdf. And Im always interested in improving my guides, so if you see any gaps in my documentation, or theres anything you wish Id included, feel free to contact me through the website and let me know!