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. 

Saturday, 22 October 2022

Over To You


Womag news

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.

Free entry writing competition news

I'd love to hear your competition news.

This free competition has the best prize I've seen $100,000, plus publication. You need to write 3,000 on why the rule of law has become fragile and be willing to expand on that if you win. 

Other publication opportunities

If you know of any markets, calls for submissions or other ways for people to get their work in front of readers, please share them. (Paid or unpaid.)

One I've found is Northern Gravy. They pay £100 for poems and short fiction accepted for publication. (UK and Irish authors only.)

Here's something I was sent by the commissioning editor at Improbable Press. Atlin says, "
Improbable Press has a new call for submissions for our fiction anthology Anna Karenina Isn't Dead. It's a paying market, the deadline is January 31, 2023."

Other writing stuff

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

My news


Thanks to everyone who bought my new book of garden themed short stories and/or helped make others aware of it. The special offer finishes tomorrow so if you'd like a copy, grab it now before the price goes up.

Saturday, 15 October 2022

Free entry competition good news and other stuff for writers

Free entry writing competitions

Thanks to Sharon Bee who kindly sent me the following competition links – The Daily Mail are running a novel writing competition with a £20,000 advance as the prize. This is for 'first-time authors who have not had any work of fiction published before' so I'm not eligible. Brilliant opportunity for someone though.

The Top prize for the Commonwealth Short Story Competition is £5,000. I'll be having a go at that one.

Thanks to Alyson for the link to this competition from W&A It's for those who are starting work on a novel and don't have an agent or publishing contract. (I don't think having had short stories published would be a problem.)

This competition is for 6 word stories and has a $100 prize.


Banbury Writers Cafe are offering £50 for the best story written to one of their photo prompts.

There's a $10,000 advance on offer in this crime writing competition.

Other publication opportunities

Prairie Fire are looking for 'fiction, poetry and creative non-fiction that looks at the depth of peace.' This is a paying market.

The Rialto want poems and pay £20 for those they publish.


Fanaticalmag are looking for sci-fi and fantasy inspired by tabletop games. They pay £20.

This publication seems to be for a similar genre. They pay £25.

I doubt I'll have time for any of these as we're getting ready for another trip in the van! There will be photos.


Womag news

Sharon Reid is now editor of Yours Fiction Special. I know because I got an acceptance from her! 

There's a new sub editor at The People's Friend. I know that and no more detail because I saw something on Facebook which I can no longer find.

I've been informed that all the Friend Christmas stories have now been selected for this year.

Help for writers

In the comments for last week's post, Alyson asked about eligibility and benefits of The Society Of Authors and I promised to find out more. Tweeting the SOA seemed worth a try and I was rewarded by a speedy response from Martin who has added information and useful links in a comment of his own. If you missed it then it's worth taking a look - there are loads of useful looking free guides on offer. Click here and scroll to 13th comment.

My news

Remember the summer themed short story competition from The Horses Mouth I mentioned about a month ago? Well, I won! Obviously I'm pleased on my own account, but it's also nice for the blog that I'm able to confirm these competitions are genuine and real people win them. I hope my good fortune inspires you to have a go at some and that you'll be able to come back and report your success.

From tomorrow, 16th October, my new collection of short stories Beyond The Garden Wall goes on special offer. Both the ebook and paperback versions are at least £1 /$1 less than the usual selling price. This promotion lasts until 22nd October. (The book can be ordered through libraries and book shops, but unfortunately this offer only applies to purchases through Amazon.)

This collection contains 24 plant, garden and flower themed stories – giving me the perfect excuse to strew this post with flower photos!

Anything you can do to help spread the word, including sharing FB posts and tweets will be much appreciated.

Saturday, 8 October 2022

Featuring five fab freebies and feathers.

I find it hard enough thinking up interesting, relevant titles for stories, but it's even worse with blog posts. If I call them something original, it probably won't be clear what I'm blogging about. If they're all called something like 'free entry competitions and writing news' people won't be sure if it's a new one, or one they've seen before. That's part of the excuse for all the photos – I'm assuming you saw this and thought, 'Oh, birds. What's she up to now?' and not 'Oh, birds again? This must be an old one'.

Maybe I should just use the date – but you can't go too far wrong with a bit of alliteration and some assorted aviation action, can you?


Womag news

I'd heard that Andrew Shaw (fiction editor of Woman's Weekly, Woman and Woman's Own) was no longer sending rejections, and asked him to confirm whether this was the case. His response was –

"Yes, this is the case. If writers don't hear back from me within 16 weeks, then they can assume that their story isn't right for us. 
Writers are of course free to submit their stories to other publishers at any point. I have no problem with a writer letting me know that a story I have on file is no longer available. 
A story is only accepted for publication once I have found a place for it in the schedules. I will then contact the writer and inform them. I cannot guarantee that a story held on file will be published."


Ideally every submission would receive either an acceptance or rejection within a few months of submission, but I think we all realise that editors are very pressed for time meaning this isn't always possible. A definite cut off period seems to me to be preferable to waiting for replies which may take years to come, or never arrive at all. Unfortunately these particular markets still take all rights on published stories, so I still don't submit to them.

Free entry writing competition news

Thanks to Jenny Worstall for making me aware of the Welkin Prize. There's a top award of £100 on offer for the best 400 words of narrative prose, plus additional prizes for those who qualify. I'm very tempted to have a go.


And thanks to Alyson Hilbourne for passing on the information that Inkitt are running a couple of free contests. There's a publishing contract on offer for a 
horror, thriller, mystery or suspense novel and another for heart-wrenching tales. 

I won't be entering, as I'm working on a long project already and the genre isn't suitable. In case you're thinking that winning such a competition is impossible, I'd like to assure those who didn't know, and remind those who did, that I know that's not the case. My first ever novel was published after I won a free entry competition. That was a long time ago and the publishing company concerned no longer exists – but the book still does!


The Society of Authors have a variety of awards for different types of writing. They're all free to enter, but there are restrictions on some, such as age restrictions or being limited to either unpublished authors only, or to those who already have a published book. Most exclude me one way or another, but there are good prizes on offer for those who qualify.

And thanks to my beloved husband for telling me about this crime novel writing competition. The publishing deal and cash prize sound brilliant and my current project is another crime story, but sadly there's little chance of me having it finished by the end of the month. (And it's just been pointed out that it's for writers of colour, so I don't qualify anyway.)

This competition from Siar Sceal is for poetry or prose with the theme of Sunlit Mornings/Ebbing Tides and offers a top prize of €200.

If you're female, funny and can (quickly) write a story of 5,000 to 15,000 words you could send it here and possibly win £1,100. Thanks to Sharon Bee for sending the link to that one. Some people say I'm a bit funny and I am female so I need a different excuse not to enter this one. (Yes, I know it's six competitions now I've added this one, but I'm NOT going to think up a new blog title.)

Other publication opportunities

Drabblecast have a call for submissions. If short and strange is your thing, you could earn 6 cents per word. I'm not tall - which is all I have to say on the topic.


Why I ask for comments on this blog

Asking questions/giving answers/sharing information makes the blog more valuable for all readers.

Comments show me what people are interested in, so helps me provide the information you really want. (And quite often someone rashly says they like the photos which justifies me bunging them in all over the place.)

Comments show others that the blog has readers and therefore makes it more likely that editors, competition organisers etc will share information with me, so I can pass it on to you.


My news

Soon after publishing last week's post I heard back about three different competitions, run by The Anansi Archive, Secret Attic and Globe Soup (and all previously mentioned on this blog). I didn't win any of them, but my entries all got a special mention or were selected for inclusion in an anthology. That's encouraged me to try a few more and see if I can do better.

If you're interested in reading more about my writing and published stories, then take a look at the blog on my website.

Saturday, 1 October 2022

Autumn the 1st

Firstly - a big thank you to everyone who responded to last week's request for help and downloaded the new version of my free collection of short stories. Your support means a lot to me. (It's not too late to do me a favour and get a copy either from Amazon or Apple, or a selection of other retailers.)

It's all gone a bit autumnal, hasn't it? Nothing wrong with that - the leaves get pretty and the weather perfect for staying in and writing. 


Free entry competition news


Fusilli have another flash fiction competition. They want 200 words with a twist. The prize is publication on their site and social media promotion.

Chorus want people to share stories about their favourite local businesses. There's £750 in prize money apparently. The rules and stuff are long, but please read them before submitting anything.


Blue Mountain are running a poetry competition with a $350 prize. If I could poet, I'd enter this one.

The London Society want 'Love Letters To London' which can be in the form of poetry, short stories or non-fiction. The prize is £500. I'm not a fan of cities so would struggle with this, but if an idea does come to me, I'll have a bash.

Publication opportunities

Thanks to Liz Filleul who has just alerted me to this call for submissions. You're asked to write a different ending to the stories of women from classic literature in up to 5,000 words. The pay is 5 cents per word. I've not got out the calculator, but that doesn't sound bad.


Guts publishing want 'ballsy book about life" and are "
primarily interested in publishing memoirs, creative nonfiction and autobiographies. We’re also open for submissions in autofiction and literary fiction, especially with a nonfiction tone" and they "encourage submissions from debut writers, women, BAME, disabled, working-class and LGBTQ+ writers."  They are "looking to publish writers from the UK and Ireland." 


That's not my kind of thing at all, but if you're working on something appropriate it could be a good opportunity.

Phobica Books want stories on the theme of 'Heavy Metal Nightmares' and will pay £20 plus a copy of the anthology if you're in the UK, or the equivalent of £25 if you live elsewhere. 

Horror isn't my kind of thing either, so that's another I'll be giving a miss.

This ghost story competition run by a wine company and offering a $5,000 prize is much more in my line.Unfortunately you have to live in the USA to enter. I don't, but I think some of my blog readers do?


Btw, I sometimes I come across free entry writing competitions or other opportunities which will be out of date by the next blog post. I share these on the womagwriter twitter account

Womag news

Prima are still running their short story competition with a £100 prize – and it's still an extremely unfair rights grab. If you want to try, send your story to 
yourwinningstory@hearst.co.uk but be aware that the moment you do it's no longer your story, as they take all rights for all entries, whether they publish them or not.


Saturday, 24 September 2022

Over To You and some from me


Womag news

The People's Friend seem to be working through their backlog – I and others have recently received replies on work submitted two or more years ago. 

Do you have any womag news?

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

Feel free to use the 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.

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?

Here's some I've found –

Six Word Wonder are looking for entries of any type of writing as long as it's really short. The prize is $100. I'm definitely going to have a go.

ServiceScape want more words, but they're offering a bigger prize – $1,000. You can enter fiction or non fiction.

If you're an 'early career' writer who can produce 'new writing on innovation and experimentation in the moving image' you could try winning £500 with the Michael O'Pray Prize.

Publication opportunity news

Do you know of any markets (paid or unpaid) looking for submissions?

Here's one I've found –

Short Fiction magazine is a new publication looking for short stories and poetry. They don't pay for most submissions, but if your piece gets the most reader votes you'll receive a £1,000 prize.

Personally I think it would be better to divide that money between all contributors, but then I'm not a fan of popularity type contests (because I never win!)

Thanks to Marguerite who has passed on a link to this paying market for work connected with the moon, plus the news that Secret Attic is back!


My news


I'm doing a book marketing course. As part of that I've republished my small, free, short story collection Not A Drop To Drink. 

You'll be doing me a favour and make me happy if you download it from Amazon, Apple or one of the other places it's available.
You might even enjoy reading it! In that case leaving a review would be an even bigger favour – thanks to all those who've already done that.

Saturday, 17 September 2022

A change to the blog - plus the usual free comps and womag news

The photos are all from trips in the mobile writing retreat, as I've not been anywhere for AGES and am missing it.

There still seems to be an issue with subscribing to this blog. People report they can do it (by using the link in the right hand column, just above the links to all my lovely books!) but they get a scary message saying it's insecure and that their email address can be seen by anyone. I don't think that's the case – I don't have access to any details about my subscribers. I don't even know how many there are! I've subscribed myself to test it out and other than the warning there have been no problems. However I totally understand people being reluctant to click on it.

To make things easier for non subscribers I'm going to try posting regularly, every Saturday morning. That will mean some posts are rather long, and others light on information, but at least you'll know when to look for what I do have.

In case you're wondering – the only advantage to subscribing is that you get an email when there's a new post. You don't need to subscribe to see posts or comments, or to comment yourself, and subscribing doesn't benefit me or the blog in any way. (If you want to help the blog, please leave comments, share info or tell others who might be interested that it's here.)

This issue doesn't apply to my newsletter. You're welcome to sign up for that if you'd like updates on my writing.

Free to enter writing competitions

It's not all that often getting a rejection can be seen as an advantage, but it can happen. If it's a poem you've had rejected then you might like to enter it into this competition which has a $100 prize. (I'm sure any poetry I submitted would get rejected, but as I've not written any in a very long time, I'm not eligible.)

There's $1,000 on offer for the winner of this new media competition. (Usually anything I consider current is old hat, so I'm going to pass.)

This themed short story competition has a £100 prize. (I've already sent in my entry.)

Storyhouse are running an animal themed non-fiction writing competitions, for unpublished writers, each with a $200 prize. (I'm not eligible - otherwise I'd be very tempted to have a go.)

Here's a competition for comedy horror. The prize is $750. (I don't think this is one for me.)


Publication opportunities


From The Horse's Mouth accept submissions of just about anything – videos and photos as well as writing. I don't think there's a fee.

Storyhouse welcome submissions from unpublished authors. No fee appears to be offered.

Although I don't personally submit work where's no fee, I know that some people are happy to do this occasionally, so I'll post details of such opportunities when I find them. I'll also look out for paying markets.

Womag news

I did update my last post with a link to this blog post from Lucy at The People's Friend. All those who've already had work accepted by TPF, have had an editor assigned to them, and currently have five or more stories under consideration should contact that editor before submitting anything else.

The procedure for those who've not yet been published by TPF, or who have fewer than five stories waiting for a response is unchanged.