Saturday 25 March 2023

How to find an ISSN

Here's how to find an ISSN to enter a claim under ALCS (if you don't know what ALCS is see these posts or visit the website).

1. Log in to the ALCS site.

2. Click on 'add new work', select 'magazines and journals', click on 'search for publications' as shown in this example.

3. Type in the name of the publication and click search. The ISSNs associated with that publication will then be displayed.

If you don't claim ALCS (it's not a legal requirement or anything you're obliged to do if you'd rather not) then I don't think you'll ever need the ISSNs - if you do use them for any other purpose please let me know as I'm interested in this stuff.

Saturday 18 March 2023

Over To You

Do you have any womag news?

Any market news? Are you researching, writing, subbing? Had any acceptances or rejections? Still waiting to hear back on outstanding submissions? Do you have a question? Can you offer tips or encouragement to other writers?

Any other writing related news, questions and comments are also welcome.

My womag news

Sharon Reid who usually edits Yours Fiction has bought a story from me to go in a Yours Easter special pull out thing (possibly not the official description.) This sale is extra to those in the regular magazine. Maybe they'll be doing more of that kind of thing, perhaps a coronation special as Elizabeth suggested in the comments of the last but one post, so the temporary halt of Yours Fiction won't be such a blow?

Free entry competition news

Thanks to Fiona for sending this link for a short story competition with publication and $500 as the top prize. On the home page it states entries must be unpublished.

And this is from Vivienne Moles  – Fictionette is looking for subs and competition entries.  Lipstick and Lies is under this umbrella.

There's a lot included in the subs - short story, flash, micro, poetry and novellas. 
Competitions are varied according to the schedule, currently 'flash' - 150-700 words by 31.3.23

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

Don't forget to check the submissions database for details of which magazines publish fiction under what terms, and how to submit.

For those who didn't see my comment on Thursday's post –   I have a policy of only giving out information which is already available online (even if it's usually hard to find) or which the editor or whoever has given me permission to share.

In some cases there may be value in sharing information that can't be obtained elsewhere, but on balance I feel this blog can be most useful if those suppling me with information trust me only to share what they want shared, or which is already 'out there'. I'm not just protecting editors. If I, for example, happen to learn your pen name or any personal details, I wouldn't pass those on to anyone without your permission.

Thanks to everyone for your comments. As well as allowing us all to share information, help and encourage each other, comments also show editors, competition organisers and others that the blog is read and will therefore be more likely to provide information for me to share with you.

The next scheduled post is 1st April.

Thursday 16 March 2023

How to ask a question or post a comment on this blog

Recently I've been contacted by a couple of people who are struggling in different ways with the technical aspects of commenting on this blog. As this is likely to come up again, I'm putting the instructions here so I can send a link to them rather than keep typing them out. 

1. Find the most recent post on the blog. If you use this link it should be the first one you come to. The date will be at the top of the post. If you don't think it's recent, or aren't sure, click on 'home' which can be found on the left towards the top of the page.

(All examples are screen shots - clicking on those won't do anything.)

2. Read or scroll to the bottom of the post. There you will see information such as who made the post, labels for other posts on the same subjects, buttons to share the post. There will also be the word 'comment' if nobody has yet commented or a number and 'comments' showing how many comments have so far been made. Click on that.

3. You'll be able to see any comments already made (well worth a read as people frequently answer the questions raised by others, share useful links, tips and encouragement). Below the comments you'll see this –

4. Type your comment or question in the big box. 

5. Choose an identity, by clicking on one of the little circles under where it says 'Choose an identity'. There are three options.

If you're signed into an appropriate account you'll see your name where this example shows 'Google account'. You can leave that as it is, or pick one of the other two options. 

If you click the middle one (Name/URL) you'll see this.

Type a name in the box after where it says 'Name'. That can be your real name, nickname, writing name, initials.

If you have a blog or website and would like a link to that displayed then you can copy that into the URL box. You don't have to do that.

Alternatively select 'Anonymous'. If you choose that one it will be helpful if you can add a name, initials, nickname or number somewhere in your comment. That just makes it easier for people to respond to you.

6. Click in the box next to where it says 'I'm not a robot' (even if you are!).

7. Click on the button which says 'Publish Your Comment'.

That's it - you're done. You deserve cake! Once you've done it a few times it will seem much easier, I promise.

Feel free to try it out by replying to this post (even once it's got old) telling me your favourite colour, guessing what mine is, or even talking about writing! You can try all the options if you like, to see how they look. Of course those who already to know how to comment are welcome to join in.

Usually your comment will appear immediately. Sometimes comments are moderated, meaning I need to press a button to make them appear. If that's the case, there should be a pop up message saying so.

In case you're wondering – If you use the first identity option, I will be able yo see your email address. I and others will be able to identify you. If you use the middle option and copy in a link, it will be possible for me and others to identify you that way. If you choose the middle option and don't copy in a link, or choose the anonymous option, all I or anyone else will see is the name, initials etc you choose to give yourself. 

Even when comments are 'moderated' I allow all except those which are obviously spam, are truly offensive or are anonymous rants. In all the years I've been blogging, other than spam, I've deleted fewer than five such comments. If a post is clearly a duplicate due to a technical difficulty I'll probably delete that too.

If you have a blog yourself – Feel free to link to these instructions if they might help your readers. If it's a writing blog you think my readers might enjoy or find useful, comment here with a link and I'll add it into the list below.

Other writing blogs you may like to visit –

For those new to this blog, this is me. I regularly share information about submitting to various markets, particularly woman's magazines and also maintain a database of that information, I share links to free entry competitions and generally chat about writing. I also randomly sprinkle posts with photos from my garden, baking sessions or adventures in the mobile writing retreat (campervan).

The next scheduled post Saturday 18th March. 

Saturday 4 March 2023

Fiction guidelines for Woman's Weekly, free entry writing competitions and more

Free to enter writing competitions

The BBC short story award offers a top prize of £15,000. You must be either a UK national or UK resident and have 'a prior record of publication'. Thanks to Sharon Boothroyd for the link.

Thanks to Linda Casper for telling me about this competition with a $500 prize for a factual piece about love on the road. As Linda says, that's a theme I can relate to – just not sure the judges will want ALL the details!

This competition is for poets and spoken word artists who are disabled or have 'long term impairment.' The prize is the chance of £300 in fees - but you need to do quite a lot to earn it.

Here's a chance for female or non binary playrights to win £12,000. The website was making me feel a bit dizzy, so I hope I've got that right.

In this competition someone will win $200 for the best piece of writing advice. My advice to you is - have a go!

Womag news

I've contacted Sharon Reid at Yours Fiction to ask whether the next issue of the magazine really will be August. Unfortunately her reply was - "I’m afraid it’s not a typo – the next issue of Fiction will be August. There are various other specials on different subjects in the pipeline between now and then, although I realise that’s not really helpful for fiction fans."

Not what we wanted to hear, but it's better to know than to keep submitting stories which can't be used, and to wonder if it's ever going to come back. (nb This only applies to Yours Fiction - not the regular Yours magazine.)

I contacted Andrew Shaw, who is the fiction editor for Woman, Woman's Own and Woman's Weekly to ask for the current guidelines. He said, "We are currently only accepting new fiction submissions for Woman's Weekly," and supplied the latest guidelines, which I've copied below. (Stories are sold on an all rights basis

Fiction Guidelines for Woman's Weekly

Firstly, we recommend that you read issues of Woman’s Weekly to get a feel for our audience and the type of stories we do publish. 

Fiction is a vital ingredient of Future's Women's Lifestyle magazines, 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 being vital factors.

A common misconception is that short stories should end on a big 'reveal'. This is just one kind of ending. Your story may simply make the reader go 'awh'. However, all stories should end on a positive note. ‘Uplifting’ is the word to keep in mind. 

We are not looking for stories set in care homes/hospitals/prisons, or stories that mention Covid/lockdown, or have plots that dwell on death, illness, or physical/mental abuse... 

Consider every type of person who might be reading your story. Think how certain plotlines or descriptions might be upsetting to the elderly, bereaved or ill. Sensitivity in your writing is vital. 

Remember the maxim ‘Show, don't tell.’ For example… 'Emily's cheeks flushed pink' instead of 'Emily was embarrassed'.  

Plus, a purely descriptive story can be heavy going. So keep things interesting with lively dialogue between the characters. And always ask yourself… 'Would someone actually say this in this situation? Is it natural?'

Attractive locations and stories about animals are often an opportunity for us to include appealing photo illustrations. And think how your story might 'stand out' from other submissions. Maybe the lead character has an unusual job and your story gives us an insight into a different world. 

WORD COUNTS (can be under but not over)

Single page in magazine: Approx 800 words 

Double-page spread: Approx 1700-1800 words


  • Submissions should be my email on a Word (or equivalent) document, not in the body of the email.  
  • Single quotation marks throughout. Single space between sentences. 
  • 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 16 weeks for manuscripts to be considered.

If your story is right for us, we will contact you. If you do not hear from us within 16 weeks, please assume that your story isn't right for us. 

Please be advised that stories may be edited as part of the publishing process. 

We are unable to give feedback on rejected stories, or enter into any correspondence by email. 

Please send submissions to:

(nb This applies to the regular Woman's Weekly, not to Best Of Woman's Weekly. For the guidelines to that magazine, see last week's post.)

Thanks to everyone for your comments. As well as allowing us all to share information, help and encourage each other, comments also show editors, competition organisers and others that the blog is read and will therefore be more likely to provide information for me to share with you.

The next scheduled post is 18th March, and will be 'Over To You' as well as any interesting news or free entry competitions I come across.