Wednesday, 8 December 2021


Did the blog post title grab your attention? It would have worked on me! 

It's not just click bait, I promise. There is a relevance to writing. I have a tendency to include lemon drizzle* in my stories – they're a kind of delicious citrusy motif.

Do you do anything similar? Maybe a lot of your characters drive the same kind of car, or ginger cats often lurk ready to jump into the action, or there's a particular name you frequently use?

* Other cakes are available. I know – I've done the research!

Womag news

Thanks to Jane Ayres for passing on the ISSN for Seven Days. It's 2753-1295. I had asked ALCS, but they told me they couldn't find it so it was safe to assume there wasn't one!

Free entry writing competition news

Secret Attic have a monthly short story competition which is free to enter, however the prize of a $20 Amazon voucher is only awarded to members and membership isn't free. Winning stories will be published, whether you're a member or not, but you may opt out of this if you wish.

There's also a 'weekly write' which again is free to enter, but only members receive the cash prize. All winning entries will be published.

This competition is for fables of up to 350 words, written in the style of Robert Louis Stevenson. The prize is £100 and you've got until early April next year to enter.

If you're a playwright with east or south east Asian heritage, then take a look at this competition which offers a £1,000 prize. I'm not massively keen on competitions which are only open to a restricted group of people, but I accept there are often good reasons for them.

There are prizes on offer for this poetry competition. They don't say what they are, other than that they'll be 'exciting experiences'. As the competition theme is 'A Life After Conflict' I find that just a bit alarming! 

This competition is for flash fiction with a twist. At first I assumed they meant a twist ending, but then I thought about the picture and blog name and now I'm not absolutely sure about that. Anyway, the prize is publication and promotion on social media. If you wish you can pay £3 for feedback on your entry.


Sharon boothroyd said...

Many thanks Patsy.
As for bad writing habits... well, I tend to stick my working characters in call centres!
I suppose I could set some in warehouses, supermarkets or factories but I'm not sure how that would go down with fiction eds.
If I was more specific: eg 'they worked in the council's housing dept' or a zoo, then the fiction ed would want to know why it was relevant to the story!
I get a bit stuck with work settings sometimes.

Eirin Thompson said...

Sharon, I have literally just written a story where a main character works in "the council's housing department"! (And it was slightly relevant.) But I am guilty of having too many people working in just "the office" and could definitely do with freshening that up a bit. Meanwhile, I have just read a book which might be of interest to womagwriters and others - it is called "Solo - How to Work Alone (and Not Lose Your Mind)" by Rebecca Seal. The author has been a freelance journalist and broadcaster for over ten years and has lots of useful things to say about her experiences and those of other solo workers she has interviewed. A good read for anyone working part-time or full-time as a writer, I think. Patsy, thanks again for all these updates, and wishing you and all your correspondents a very merry Christmas and a happy, peaceful and productive 2022.

Sharon boothroyd said...

Ha Erin! I did set one in a council planning dept but it was relevant to the story.
Yes, wishing Patsy and everyone a very merry Christmas and Happy new year.
Warm wishes and the best of luck with our writing careers in 2022!

Patsy said...

@ Sharon – I don't consider that to be a bad writing habit. Re using the same old plot over and over would be, but using one small detail more than once shouldn't be a problem.

I think call centres make great story workplaces. Readers can easily picture the scene, you don't need to do masses of research or include lots of technical detail, plus you can have any type of character work there.

@ Eirin – I may have used 'the office' myself a few times. I think it's OK if work doesn't impact on the story eg 'I was late leaving the office so missed the bus' might be fine, but a scene set there probably needs a little more detail.

That book does sound interesting.

Sheelagh said...

Very timely Patsy I have just finished a story with cake in the title!! Thanks for the competition information, I think I will have a go at the fables competition especially if I have until next April. As ever December seems to be slipping by so quickly that I'm doing well to do any writing at all & over Christmas I am looking forward to putting the feet up & catching up on lots of reading, yours included as I can't seem to get time to read at moment. So Merry Christmas & a very Happy New Year to one and all.

Marguerite said...

Tea, spaghetti and Gemma seem to be feature in my stories (Who is Gemma? I don't even know one!)The pasta competition looks good - very apt ;) I am guessing it is a 'twist' story but the contact details... hmmm...,.

ados123 said...

Ha! I love the photos of the cakes, Patsy. My stories are often set near the sea and often include dogs (I don't live near the sea or have a dog but wish for both...)
Thanks for the SevenDays number. Having trouble finding the mag in the shops still.

Sue McV said...

I tend to have a recurring male character. He has black hair streaked with silver. I think I'd just quite like to meet him in real life!
Happy Christmas to all my fellow writers.

New girl on the block said...

My stories often feature a teacher - probably because that's my own profession. Need to step out of my comfort zone! However, I am currently working on a story set in a health food store. My central male character often has twinkly/sparkly blue eyes!

Denise said...

Lemon drizzle is a great motif. I magpie friends and family jobs for storylines because they often give me peculiar details that I like to add.

Patsy said...

@ Sheelagh – I hope you get some undisturbed reading time. (I hope I do too!)

@ Marguerite – Maybe Gemma is your muse?

@ Alyson – It's good that you can walk a dog on the beach in your imagination.

@ Sue – If you do ever meet him, I hope he's willing to participate in detailed research...

@ New Girl – It makes sense to include things you know about, especially if they'll be less familiar to the reader.

@ Denise – Friends and family who supply peculiar details sound like an extremely valuable resource.

lionsshare said...

Happy Christmas and best wishes for 2022 to all writers! Thanks so much, Patsy, for this blog which always has amazing info and is much appreciated. I tend to feature cats and dogs a lot in my stories as I am an animal lover and they can't answer back (mostly!). Work settings can be tricky but I have avoided setting any of my stories in 'lockdown' so far as I think people want a it of an escape from that.
I put in the ISSN number kindly provided by Jane but got a message from ALCS telling me it was for an American publication with the same title ('Seven Days') and couldn't be used. So it doesn't appear we can claim copyright payments for this title. Best wishes Linda.