Saturday 31 December 2022

End of year party!

Welcome to the end of year party! 

Everyone is welcome. All food is calorie and allergen free, the drink won't give you a headache and nobody will take embarrassing
 photos to post online.

To join in all you have to do is say what you're bringing – food, drink, jokes, games, news, reflections on 2022, hopes for 2023 ...

I'm hoping to continue writing stories both long and short whilst travelling in the mobile writing retreat (aka campervan). 

A few more sales would be nice...

Wishing everyone who has contributed to this blog, by commenting and/or providing information, happiness in the year ahead.


As always –

New blog posts are published each Saturday. All blog readers are welcome to use the comment section to share writing news, tips, successes, links to competitions and other publication opportunities, to ask questions and to respond to comments from others.

Saturday 24 December 2022

Warm winter wishes

A stag munching grass
Today is Christmas Eve, the shortest day (in my part of the world) has passed and the days are getting longer and lighter.  That makes me happy. Are these things you celebrate? 

I'm celebrating another flimsy excuse to share some of my photos of Scotland! I do know that's not a reindeer - I mean the first competition link.

Pine trees with a loch and mountain in the background

Free entry writing competitions

Thanks to Fiona for passing on the link to this essay writing competition. "Entrants must be aged over 16 and resident in Scotland, born in Scotland or have a longstanding association with Scotland. " I wonder if I'd qualify? (I don't just go there and take many, many photos – my husband is half Scots.) For those who do, there's a £1,500 prize on offer.

Lochside garden in the sunshine
Thanks to Marguerite who shared a link to Lipstick and Lies in the comments to last week's post. This is a monthly competition with a £10 voucher for the winner and publication of their story and the runner up in a booklet due out in 2024.

WaterfallAnd thanks to Elizabeth McGinty for sharing this flash fiction competition which looks like fun and offers a small prize. 

There's still time to enter the Green Stories novel writing competition and it looks as though they'll be running more competitions for different writing forms in 2023.

Other publication opportunities

Fanatical are looking for sci-fi, horror and fantasy stories. They pay £20 per published piece.

Scots pines silhouetted against a mountain

Womag news

I've had an acceptance from a magazine I didn't even submit to! 

Not quite as strange as it sounds – A story submitted to Yours was forwarded by the editor to her colleague at the sister publication Yours Fiction. 

Heilan coo with big horns

That was an exception. Generally stories (poems, articles etc) will only be bought by the editor you've sent them too, so don't leave them lurking on your hide drive – get them out there! 

Purple fingerless gloves

My news

My hands are toasty warm, thanks to the gloves Fiona made for me. Aren't they great? 

I'm amazed how much difference they make. If you're getting cold hands while typing, it's definitely worth trying a pair.

(Gary took this photo and didn't laugh very much at me trying to position my fingers as though I can actually type.)

path through the cairngorms

As always –

New blog posts are published each Saturday. All blog readers are welcome to use the comment section to share writing news, tips, successes, links to competitions and other publication opportunities, to ask questions and to respond to comments from others.

Happy all the seasonal and festive things to you!

Saturday 17 December 2022


Brrrr! Don't you sometimes wish writing was a more active occupation? I get involved in a story and don't notice how cold I am until I stop and then it takes a lot of tea to warm me up again.

Free to enter writing competitions

The Secret Attic run regular competitions for fiction of various lengths. To qualify for the Amazon vouchers you need to be a member which costs £12 a year, but you can still enter the competitions for the fun and glory (plus publication) without doing that.

The prize for this year's W&AYB short story competition is a place on an Arvon course. I've heard that as well to the useful writing stuff they serve good cake. If you've been, can you confirm that?

The L Ron Hubbard Writers Of The Future contest offers a $1,000 prize every quarter for sci-fi and fantasy stories of up to 17,000 words.

Other Publication opportunities

Thanks to Alyson for pointing out that Bridge House Anthologies are looking for submissions on the theme of 'Gifted'.  Successful submissions will be published and you may earn a small amount in royalties if the book happens to do well.

Womag news

I've sold a couple of stories to TAB, 800 and 1,200 words. One was subbed in January, so don't give up on those which have been out for a while. (This is a 'closed' market.)

If you'd like to share the word lengths and waiting period for some of your successes it will help people judge what's in demand and how far in advance we need to send it.

As always –

New blog posts are published each Saturday.

All blog readers are welcome to use the comment section to share writing news, tips, successes, links to competitions and other publication opportunities, to ask questions and to respond to comments from others.

Saturday 10 December 2022

The way forward ?

Blog news

In my last post I asked for suggestions to help keep this blog going so it's useful to readers without taking up quite so much of my time. Thank you very much to all who replied (or will do so). I'll definitely be implementing some of your ideas. 

Some asked how blog readers can help take the pressure off me. I've replied more fully in the comments, but to sum it up – please share information in the comments. To (hopefully) make it easier to do this, I'm discontinuing the 'over to you' posts and will ask more specific questions in each post. However you're always extremely welcome to share writing related information and experiences, to report your successes (or otherwise!) pass on details of free competitions or submission opportunities, ask questions or for help, in the comments section of any post - and to reply to such posts from others.

If you'd like to send me competition links or general womag news directly via social media or emails that's great – but please only ask questions, share your personal experiences etc in the comments. That's because anything shared on the blog might help other readers - and they might be able to help you.

I like to thank those who provide useful links etc. If you have a website, blog or anything else you'd like me to link to, please provide that along with the info (even if I know you as my memory is terrible!)

I've published a new 'How this blog works' page to let people know what to expect, and how they can help. I expect I'll be revising that a bit over the next few weeks.

This week's specific question – which publications (physical or digital) do you submit to, or know of which are open to submissions? Please share any details you have, plus a link if possible, in the comments. Amongst other things, this will help me keep the submission guideline database up to date.

Free entry competition news

Thanks to Alyson for sending the link to this 400 word competition. First prize is £150. International entries welcome. You can submit fiction or non fiction.

Here's a crime novel competition with a publication contract as the prize.

Thanks to Fiona for sending me the link to this short story competition. Not only is there a £1,000 first prize, but the theme is crime story set in Scotland, so I've got an extra excuse to share a few more photos from my recent trip. It would be criminal to waste such an opportunity!

This short story competition has the theme 'preserve or purge'. The prize is $200 plus publication and you're allowed up to 3,500 words.

Womag / competition news

Best magazine are running another short story competition. The theme is Valentine's, closing date15th Jan and the prize £500, plus publication.

Womag news

I have a story in the current issue of Yours Fiction. Alyson Hilbourne kindly scanned the lovely illustration for me. The story was subbed in July and accepted in October. You'll only get a reply if the story is accepted.

The guidelines, websites etc for this, and all the other magazines I know about, can be found in my submissions database.

Tuesday 6 December 2022

I'm home again

Sorry I didn't manage to keep up with the blog, particularly responding to comments whilst I was away. These photos are the best I can do by way of excuse.

I'm back home now, but not yet 'back' in the sense that normal service has been resumed. That might not ever happen ... Still, I wanted to share this snippet of womag news before it was too late for anyone to act on it. 

Sylvia magazine are briefly open to submissions. For this submission window only they're looking for work on the subject of menstruation. That's not a topic we write about very often, is it? Maybe we should, but on this occasion I don't think I will. They pay 25p per word of prose or £1.75 per line of poetry.

When I put up my last post, saying I was taking a short break from the blog I felt a sense of relief that the pressure was off, so I'm having a think about its future. Any suggestions for making it as useful as possible, without taking up too much of my time, are welcome.

Quick reminder about my free short story collection, Not A Drop To Drink. It would help me if those who are able (you need either a kindle or to download the free reading app) would download a copy. Even better if you enjoy reading it and leave a review!

Saturday 19 November 2022

Over To You

Do you have any
 womag news?

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

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

Free entry writing competition news

I'd love to hear your competition news.

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

My news

As I said in my last post, my travels are making it difficult to keep up with this blog, so you won't see much from me here until I'm home next month.  

The photos might not be much of an excuse, but they're the best I can do! If you'd like to chat and/or see even more photos then pop over to the blog on my website.

I'm taking part in a book fair in Newbury on 3rd December. Do come and say hello if you're in the area - no obligation to buy.

Saturday 12 November 2022

I'm back! - temporarily and with competitions and stuff.

We're still away in the mobile writing retreat (I'm up to chapter 6 of the first draft of my current WIP) but I'm back on the blog today. I hope the photos go some way to explaining why I'm not around much.

As I'm finding it increasingly difficult to keep up with things at the moment, other than an 'over to you post' this will probably be my last one until early December.

Womag news

Best are running a festive fiction competition with a £500 prize.

I've been told that The People's Friend have large stocks of both 1,200 and 1,500 word stories, so aren't looking for more of these at the moment. 

I can't tell you what they do want – for most writers there seems to be a long waiting time before any lengths are read.

Free entry writing competitions

If you've not already signed up for Globe Soup then take a look. They run a range of interesting free (and paid for) competitions, plus a supportive online group.

There's still time to enter the Love Letters to London competition. There are good cash prizes, a wide variety of writing types can be entered and you don't need to be a Londoner to take part.

Other publication opportunities

Timber Ghost Press are looking for flash fiction, poetry and short stories about 'things which go bump in the night'. A small payment is offered.

The Short Fiction Journal are looking for ... well, you can probably guess. They pay 2p per word.

Saturday 5 November 2022

Guest post by Eirin Thompson

I'm currently up in Scotland in the mobile writing retreat (camper van). The scenery is wonderful, so I'm getting plenty of exercise and as the weather isn't so wonderful I'm also getting a fair bit of writing done. Getting online isn't always easy though, so apologies for the lack of competition links etc. Instead, Eirin Thompson is here to offer words of encouragement.

You probably already know Eirin from her womag stories and comments on this blog.

Some Advantages of an Extensive Back-Catalogue

By Eirin (E.D.) Thompson

It’s difficult to dispute that the young are better at lots of things. Gymnastics. Rock music. Getting the most from their phones. 

But here’s the good news (for those of us of a certain age) – when it comes to writing, older might very well be better. At least that’s my opinion.

Clearly there have been some very fine books written by younger authors. But, as regards having a wealth of experience upon which to draw for weaving stories, older writers simply have bigger back-catalogues.

I came to writing for popular women’s magazines later in life. Part of me wishes I’d discovered the opportunities sooner. But another part acknowledges that I might not have been ready.

Seeing my work in the ‘womags’, as they are fondly known, is an absolute thrill and a joy, and I think a big part of the reason I’m having a measure of success is because I’m versatile, and that’s due, in significant part, to my age.

Being older, and close to my mum, for example, I have an eye and an ear for zingy women in their seventies, which has given me Maureen and Jean, a recurring double-act in The People’s Friend about whom I love to write.

But, like a Russian doll, I also contain all the younger versions of myself, and can tap into these for characters of a variety of ages. I thoroughly enjoy writing what the ‘Friend’ refers to as ‘Junior’ tales – those told from the point of view of a child – and I think these work because I can see the situation in the story from the perspectives of both the child and the adults.

More good news is that it is entirely unnecessary to have a carefully-constructed and flawless CV in order to write fiction – all experience is valid. It doesn’t matter if you made mistakes, took time out to raise a family, changed career twice or three times or even got sacked (or dumped, or heartbroken, or lost or hurt in some other way), because everything is redeemable as potential material, and the more, the better.

No one on any magazine fiction desk has ever asked me what qualifications I have to submit work to them. And, now that I am also writing suspense novels, my publisher there has yet to ask me such a question. In both lines of writing, editors seem interested pretty much exclusively in what is on the pages you submit – if the material is good enough, then you’re good enough.

My new novel, Closing In, has at its core a mystery, which I hope will have readers turning the pages compulsively. But it is also a story about relationships and emotions, and I sincerely believe this gives the book a richer texture. I could not have written this novel twenty years ago, and not just because Caroline, my main character, is in her fifties.

I am not anti-younger writers. Not at all. But I am pro-older ones.

‘Closing In’, with the author name E.D. Thompson, is, in nutshell this: Christmas. An old flame. And a BIG secret. It is the product of my fifty-five years on the planet, much of it spent reading. I’d be delighted if you took a look.

There's more information about Eirin and her womag writing here and as I'm not online much to chat, she's very kindly agreed to respond to some of your writing related questions.

Saturday 29 October 2022

Photos - and free writing competitions

We're currently in the Scottish Highlands (there's a cue for photos if I ever wrote one!) which means lots of walking, limited internet access and a fair bit of writing.  Sorry if the blog gets a bit patchy.

Free entry writing competition news

Thanks to Sharon Bee for passing on the link to this competition. They're asking for 600 on the best writing tip you've ever received. The prize is £100 or ta similar amount in other currencies.

And here's another found by Sharon. They want between 1500 and 3500 on the theme of anxiety. The prize is €50.

The Tom Gallon Prize offers £2,000 for the best story of up to 5,000 words.

The Daily Mail are offering £20,000 in their 'first novel' competition.

Do any of you produce short videos? If so, you may be interested in this competition with a £700 prize.

Other publication opportunities

Sharon also sent me this link for Mslexia who offer a wide variety of ways to get published with them.

My news

Just the usual, glamorous stuff involved in being a travelling writer.