Monday 30 August 2021

Guest post by writer and magazine editor Jo Derrick

You may have heard that The Yellow Room magazine has reopened for submissions. I've invited the editor, Jo Derrick onto the blog to tell us more.

Thanks for joining me today, Jo. Can you tell me why you've decided to relaunch the Yellow Room?

It was really a snap decision I made following the death of a very good friend and fellow writer, Jane Wenham-Jones last week. We first met through Quality Women's Fiction Magazine (QWF), which I launched in 1994. I published some of Jane's first short stories and she was a huge supporter of the magazine, as well as of my future endeavours in both publishing and writing. I realised how much I missed being part of a community of women writers and publishing their work. I also need something to keep me busy, as my daughter is off to university in September and I'm finding I have more time on my hands. I'm also having a break from writing, and editing a small press magazine will fill the gap nicely. 

It's great news for writers when any market opens or reopens, as we seem to be losing more than we gain. Do you have submission guidelines?

I have published very basic guidelines for now. Prospective contributors will have more of an idea of what I'm looking for once they have read a copy of the magazine. Unfortunately, I don't have any back issues left. 

The Yellow Room is a place where women writers can gather together for support, encouragement, inspiration and friendship. Editor Jo Derrick is always on the look out for new talent as well as short fiction by more established writers. Female writers are invited to send in short stories of between 800 and 3000 words in length. Please only submit one story at a time and the story should not have been previously published elsewhere either in print or online. Jo will consider stories in any genre, but is particularly looking for those which highlight the female experience and psyche. Please send stories as an attachment (preferably Word or docx) with a title page stating the word count and that First British Serial Rights are offered. Double spacing on the manuscript, please. 

Send to:

What kind of style are you looking for? The sort of story which might be published in a woman's magazine, or something darker, more literary?

This is a difficult one to answer. I don't want anything too dark. Edgy might be a better description. I do enjoy literary short stories, but they must be accessible to the reader and not too experimental. I'm not keen when writers start to mess around with structure or language, for example. In some ways I'm a bit of a traditionalist and believe a good story comes from character. I enjoy reading womag fiction, but some of the stories don't have enough oomph for my taste. Having said that, some of my favourite short story writers are regular contributors to magazines such as Woman's Weekly, Take A Break Fiction Feast and The People's Friend. The Yellow Room Magazine will feature stories that are slightly quirkier, allowing the writer to take more risks. I have received five submissions so far and have accepted one of those. The story I've accepted highlights the issues surrounding the murder of Sarah Everard, but in a very subtle way. I don't want the reader to be preached at. I am looking for stories which resonate.

Do you have a top tip (or tops tips!) for those submitting to you?

I've kind of answered that question above. I would say read a current copy of The Yellow Room before submitting. That won't be possible until Issue 10 is published, but potential contributors may email me for a pdf of a back issue to give them an idea of the sort of thing I’ll be publishing. Read the guidelines carefully. I do state a minimum word count and someone has already send a story of fewer than 800 words. I would also encourage those hoping to submit to 'Like' The Yellow Room Magazine Facebook page to see regular updates of what I'm looking for, to follow me on Twitter (@yellowjo) and read The Yellow Room Editor Blog: The Yellow Room Editor If you scroll through older blog posts, then there are some good tips for writers and I think the blog posts give a good idea of who I am. I hope to get a website back up and running before too long, simply because this will allow people to subscribe and order copies of the magazine more easily. I would also encourage writers to email me with any queries or suggestions. I assume that potential contributors are avid readers of all kinds of fiction. Most importantly I want stories which haven't previously been published online or in print.

How long should writers expect to wait for a response, and will you reply to everyone or operate the policy of 'if you've not hear within X months it's a no' which some other magazines have adopted?

I think it's very important to respond to a submission as soon as possible. I can't stand having a backlog of submissions waiting to be read. I got back to those first five submissions in a matter of days, as there were so few. I can't always promise I'll do that. If I'm inundated, then it will take me longer to read the stories. I will reply to everyone who sends in a story and I do try to give very brief feedback. If I reject a story, it's not a reflection of how that person writes. It will simply be a question of what is right for that particular issue of the magazine and my personal taste. 

Do you take all rights?

Certainly not!! I abhor magazines that do this. It shouldn't be allowed. A writer should always be entitled to own the rights to their stories. I take First British Serial Rights. 

Will you be offering payment?

We hope to make a small payment to writers whose stories are included in the magazine. This will depend on subscription take up. Contributors will always be sent a copy of the magazine in which they feature. Sometimes I offer a free subscription instead of cash payment. As anyone who has ever published a literary magazine will know, cash flow is one of the main obstacles. 

It's always a good idea for writers to read the publications they hope to submit to – how can we do that?

Keep an eye out on The Yellow Room Facebook page as to whether I can find a pdf of a back issue to email to potential subscribers. There will also be news of when the next issue will be available to buy. 

And now for the tricky question – why yellow?

That's an interesting question! I guess it's partly to do with that famous short story by Charlotte Perkins Gilman, The Yellow Wallpaper. It's mainly to do with the fact that when I started QWF Magazine back in 1994, the room I worked in was painted yellow. Several years later when I moved to our current house, the office I wanted to use was painted yellow. What a strange coincidence, I thought. It was as though it was meant to be. And yellow is such a pretty colour, isn't it? Great for magazine covers! 

Thursday 26 August 2021

Guest post by womag writer and author Cat Lumb

Today's guest is womag writer, novelist and writing coach, Cat Lumb who has a fantastic free offer for you! (Talking of free, did you see my last post with five free to enter writing competitions?)

Have you ever felt like your writing isn't good enough - that you'll never be a 'good enough' writer to be published?

I used to be that writer.

I would hide my work in folders or notebooks and never showed anyone in case it proved that my writing was sh*t. Slowly I started to share it with friends and family, who were obviously kind and didn't want to hurt my feelings (that's the only reason they complimented me, right?). Even when I joined a writing group I thought they were just being nice to welcome me into the fold. 

I never believed I would be 'Good Enough'. 

But then I learned how to challenge these thoughts and accept that I can be good enough.

And now I've had my short stories win competitions, been published in anthologies, and even have a novel out there in the world - all of which have received positive reviews and feedback that I actually believe. 

If you want to discover that confidence, and truly understand that you *are* a good enough writer to have those dreams come true - sign up to this FREE Masterclass I'm delivering and I'll show you how. 

Believing You're a Good Enough Writer: Sat 28 Aug | 2-3pm (UK)

Can't make the Masterclass? Check out the blog I shared On Being a Good Enough Writer here for some tips:

Thanks, Cat. I'm sure many of us have at some point wondered if our writing is good enough. I certainly have. 

Wednesday 25 August 2021

Five free entry writing competitions – and some travel pics.

I've not been stuck in the mud at home over the last few weeks, as we've had a few trips away in the van and climbed two mountains! OK, maybe they weren't actual mountains, but they had the word mountain in the name and we climbed up them, which is good enough for me.

I'm 'chuffed*' to say we're going to be on more campervan adventures for the next few months. That will make keeping this blog updated more difficult, but I'll do my best. 

You can help out by passing on any womag info, free entry competition links, or other useful stuff you come across. Put them in comments, email me or message me on twitter with those.

Please ask any questions via comments on the blog. Doing that means others also see both question and answer meaning you may get help from other writers, and the response might help others too.

Here are five free to enter writing competitions to keep you busy while I pack the van and we plan our route.

This competition from Mills and Boon is for 'romance writers from underrepresented ethnic backgrounds'. The prize is a book contract wort £2,000 plus £,500 'to support your writing'.

For this competition from Inkitt, you're required to post a mystery or suspense story of up to 7,500 words. If you can then persuade enough people to like, share and review it you could win $500. I won't be giving this a go. I dislike both the popularity contest part and the strong possibility of publishing work without any reward.

If you're a 'beginning professional' in speculative fiction writing, you can enter this competition from Dream Foundry and be in with the chance of winning $1,000. 

The Foxes Retreat competition is for poetry, prose or scripts of up to 500 words on the theme of other worlds. The prizes are 1 to 1 coaching and workshop places.

The New Media Award offers various prizes up to £1,000.

* Sorry!

Monday 23 August 2021

Yours and Yours Fiction rejection policy

Recently I've seen a few comments from people who've submitted to Your or Yours Fiction and after not hearing back for a few months are wondering if they should consider their stories to have been rejected. 

This is from their official guidelines.

"Rejection policy 

For short stories submitted to Yours magazine, you will receive a rejection slip if we are unable to use your story. 

However, for short stories submitted to Yours Fiction, because of the volume of submissions, we are unfortunately unable to provide individual letters of rejection. If you would like your posted short story returned to you, you are welcome to include a Stamped Addressed Envelope with your submission. Please note, however, that it may take up to six months to return these stories."

When you make a submission, you'll get an auto response, which includes this –

"Our review period is x6-12 months. As a result, if you haven't heard from us by the end of 12 months, it's safe to assume we haven't been able to use your submission. 

Space in the magazine is very tight, so please don't take it too badly if we haven't been able to publish your submission."

So, we need to wait 12 months with either publication, unless we get a rejection before then. Just to add to the confusion, it's not uncommon for a story to be passed from one editor to the other. I'm not sure if that story would then jump the queue, or if there could be a further 12 month wait.

Usually the response, if there is one, takes less than 12 months but I don't think it's safe to assume that what has usually happened in the past will necessarily be the case for current submissions.

Wednesday 18 August 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.)

Talking of competitions, the winner of one of Glenda Young's novels, as offered in this post is – Carrie Congratulations! Please contact me with the UK address you'd like it sent to.

Friday 13 August 2021

A bit of an update

At time of writing, the view from the (mobile) office window, was almost exactly like this, but sunnier.

The ALCS issue, now resolved thank goodness, has slightly overshadowed other posts on this blog. In case you missed the posts on other topics...

Glenda Young has written an encouraging guest post which I think will be of interest to anyone considering taking their writing in a new direction – or to anyone who'd like to win a signed copy of one of her books.

I recently posted links to five free to enter writing competitions.

Just to clear up any possible confusion, this blog is run solely by me, Patsy Collins. I also have a Womagwriter twitter account for writing related stuff. The views expressed by me in either place are entirely my own. Those views expressed by people who write guest posts for this blog, or leave comments, are theirs. I very appreciate people leaving comments, but don't necessarily endorse all the points made. In exceptional circumstances I will remove a comment, if I feel that's the best thing to do. Thankfully that's very rare – except for obvious spam. I get plenty of that!

There are online groups and blogs connected with womag writing which you may like to join or follow. Those who run them are welcome to post links / descriptions in the comments. I am in no way connected with any of these and can take no credit nor blame for their activities. 

Wednesday 11 August 2021

A statement from ALCS

 I've received the following statement, to be posted on the blog, direct from Alison Baxter at ALCS.

Claiming for articles from ALCS for My Weekly and The People’s Friend


We have received a number of queries recently from contributors to My Weekly and People’s Friend, published by DC Thomson who have been unable to add these publications to their accounts via our website and been advised that they are no longer eligible. 


Please let us first of all apologise for the way in which your queries have been handled by the ALCS team, for any distress caused and for the length of time that it has taken us to respond appropriately and accurately up to this point. 


There appears to have been some confusion internally about the status of some titles published by DC Thomson and ALCS’ entitlement to collect for them and this has unfortunately been miscommunicated to several of our, understandably very concerned, members and incorrectly changed on our website.  


This miscommunication by ALCS, which suggests that DC Thomson have changed their processes causing their titles to be ineligible for ALCS payments, is incorrect. The publications that have been specifically mentioned (My Weekly, The People’s Friend) are currently included in the ALCS payment scheme, and the functionality on our website will be rectified shortly to reflect this.


As part of a wider review of our Article claims system we are in the process of reviewing our internal policies to ensure that we do fully adhere to the UK regulations on collective rights management, so should any titles that you currently claim for be considered in the future to fall outside of our payment remit we will advise you of this individually and in advance of any changes. Changes may be made to the scheme in future, but it is always our aim to individually inform members wherever possible of changes that will directly impact them, particularly in what has been a very challenging couple of years.


We understand that DC Thomson have been extensively contacted over this by many of their contributors so we will also be contacting them directly to explain the situation. If any individuals have any specific concerns, please contact

Angela Gilchrist from The People's Friend has also written a blog post on this subject.

Guest post by womag writer and novelist Glenda Young


Today's guest is Glenda Young

Why your comfort zone is bigger than you think

Hi everyone, I’m Glenda and I’m a womag writer and bestselling author published by Headline. My novels are set across two genres which are 1) gritty sagas set in a northeast mining village in 1919 and 2) cosy crimes set in modern-day Scarborough on the Yorkshire coast. I’ve also written TV tie-in books for ITV’s Coronation Street, I run a Coronation Street fan blog and am an award-winning short story writer. I’ve also got a unique claim to fame as the writer of Riverside, the first ever weekly soap opera published in The People's Friend magazine.


That’s quite a lot of different genres to write in. And as if that wasn’t enough, whenever I get time, I love to pen short stories for women’s magazines. Over the last few years, I’ve had hundreds of womag stories published. And as all womag writers know, each story was tailored to the magazine it was submitted to, because knowing your market is key. However, not all of my stories were in the same genre. For instance for women’s magazines, I’ve had stories published about a cowboy searching for his father, horror stories, cosy crime, mysteries and plenty of comic short stories. I even wrote the first same-sex romance to be published in My Weekly magazine. As I'm not gay it's further proof that the margins of what you are capable of writing about can - and should - expand to the market's requirements.

But even though all of these short stories, and my novels, may appear at first glance to be in different genres, what I’d like to remind anyone reading this is that they were all written for the same market. As womag writers know, we tend to write for women. And that’s exactly who I keep in mind whether my story is about cowboys or comedy, whether my novels are sagas or cosy crime. I slant each story or novel to fit the market and have fun with what with I’m doing.

What I’m trying to say in a roundabout way (sorry Patsy, I’ll get to the point, promise!) is that just because we’re writing for women’s magazines, doesn’t mean you can’t try something new and surprising, as long as it fits the magazine’s specifications. And if you want to write a cowboy story, for instance, it doesn’t mean you have to leave your comfort zone. Think of it more as expanding your comfort zone around you, pushing it a little to give you more room to breathe.

Because after all, when we’re writing for women’s magazines or any particular market, writing something that might at first appear difficult and daunting, as long as you tailor it to the market you’re writing for, it isn’t that different at all. You’re simply playing with the genre and having a great deal of fun at the same time. And when you have fun in your writing, I truly believe your reader will find it fun to read too.

Glenda Young's  Website, Twitter, Facebook

From Patsy – With the reduction in markets for womag fiction, many of us are considering other types of writing. That might seem daunting but, as Glenda says, new doesn’t need to be completely different. If we think of subjects we’ve used in our stories, and know something about, we may come up with ideas for articles too and could attempt those with the same readership in mind. 

Glenda has kindly said that she'll give a signed paperback copy of any one of her books, plus some bookmarks, to one person who comments on this blog. (The books are stand alone, so you don't need to worry about picking the right one to start with.) Anyone may enter the draw, but the book can only be sent to a UK address. To be in with a chance, leave a comment on this post by midnight UK time on 16th August, making it clear that you'd like to take part. Of course comments from those not entering the draw are equally welcome.

Monday 9 August 2021

Busy, but... five freebies

I have lots going on at the moment*, but I've made time for this quick post to share a few free entry writing competitions.

For the Weird Christmas story competition there are several prized of $50 and one of $75 for stories of 350 words, written to the provided prompts.

The Perito prize offers £200 for 'outstanding new short fiction of between 1000 and up to 2000 words'

Thanks to Alyson for the links to both of those.

If you write audio drama you could win £3,000 through the Imison Award. There's also a Tinniswood Award for the same form. I'm unsure about the prize for that one.

The Barbellion Prize is for 'an author whose work has best represented the experience of chronic illness and/or disability'. Last year's prize was £1,000.

The Frank Moffett Mosier Fellowship for Works in Heightened Language offers $1,500 for one act plays, or $3,000 for full length works.

*The cake, as well as being rather yummy and eaten onboard a ship which was not yet in service, is a great metaphor for the way I'm packing so much into a limited time.

Thursday 5 August 2021

11/8/21 update on the PF/ALCS issue

Update 11/8/21 I've seen nothing official direct from ALCS, but have been forwarded messages saying in effect this was all a mistake by ALCS, we can claim, and that they'll sort out the website soon. I've also had reports that people have now successfully registered some DCT published work.

original post...

Jenny Worstall contacted the ALCS for more information on this issue and received the following response, which she thought might be of interest to readers of this blog.

"In regards to the publisher, D C Thomson they have always mandated with the NLA for some time. ALCS has reviewed the mandates of publishers and in order to adhere to Government regulations, we could no longer pay out on publications from Publishers who were mandated by the NLA as, we receive our revenue for journals and magazines from the CLA who do not have a licence to collect monies for NLA publishers.
To that end, ALCS allowed a ‘cool off’ period whereby, we still honoured the existing claims submitted by our members which has now come to an end. Although DC Thomson the publisher is mandated with the NLA, it does not reclassify any journals or magazines to a newspaper. D C Thomson still retain their published journals and magazines.
We can only advise that you contact your publisher to see if you can now claim via them for the money that you were previously eligible to receive from ALCS. This may be something that is included within your contract. Our understanding is that the NLA will pay your publisher any fees due contractually, but this is something that you will have to ask them about directly.
This will be brought to the ALCS Distribution and Membership Committee who will be looking into ways of how to get this message out to our members once we have established how many ALCS members are actually affected by this.
The most recent publishers to date are;
• William Reed
• Pageant Media
• Aspermont Media
• PEI Media
• Incisive Media
• Euromoney Institutional Investor
• Stage Media Company"

And in a further update, I asked ALCS on twitter if you could still claim ALCS for stories in MW Annuals and PF Annuals and they said yes, because these publications have an ISBN.

I do feel we don't have the complete picture yet and hope ALCS (and DC Thomson) will be able to shed more light on this situation soon. I'm trying to be patient!

I looked at my contract (from 2016) but couldn't find any mention of ALCS. But it would appear that DC T was mandated with NLA then. So, unless I'm understanding this incorrectly, it is not DC Thomson that has changed, it's to do with a review (and government guidelines?).

I think the situation is beyond an individual writer or writers now and I hope that maybe writers' organisations will be able to shed some light on this and/or speak up for writers in some way.

Any thoughts?