Saturday 22 July 2023

Writing Group?

In a comment to my last post Sheelagh mentioned that, for her, this blog functions a little like a writing group, allowing her to feel part of a writing community. I love that idea! 

Are there any ways you feel this blog could do more to offer support and encouragement to those who read it? I can't guarantee to adopt your suggestions, especially time consuming ones, but all suggestions are welcome. 

A few random ideas of mine are –

Post weekly with the posts between the current regular twice monthly posts being discussion topics.

Extra posts with invitations to share your social media, blog or website links.

Posts inviting blog readers to share links to their books or other published works.

More frequent 'over to you' posts.

All those are things which I could set up in advance and could still run in my absence, so needn't take up too much of my writing and travelling time.

Talking of writing groups, if you use Facebook, here's one you might like to join.

The photos are all views from the mobile writing retreat (campervan) taken at stops during our recent trip to France. As well as photos, I got a few story ideas. One has already been written and submitted, another is being woven into a novel. See, I really am a travelling writer!

Free entry writing competition news.

Thanks to Sharon Haston for telling me about this short story competition from The Sunday Post. Sadly it's one of those where you give up all rights on your story just by entering. I wonder if the big name authors who are judging realised that before agreeing to get involved.


Anonymous said...


Ooh, am I the first to comment? Thank you Patsy, as always, for your posts. I love the photos and am sure that they will provide inspiration for a story. I don't have any suggestions at the minute but will put my thinking cap on. Thank you for the link to the Facebook group as well. I don't have much in the way of writing news but in the past couple of weeks, I have entered half a dozen writing competitions. One of my New Year's resolutions - not that I tend to make many - was to make an effort to enter more writing competitions. Happy Writing everyone!

Marguerite said...

This is a difficult one because I know we are all at different stages, have different interests and generally, well... we're different! I often feel I would like to share some useful books I've read (writing-based) but, we get into the realms of advertising? It might be specific websites I've used or authors I've found have written useful writing books or even courses. I am not a 'blogger' and laugh out loud at the very mention of the word 'influencer', so I'm not sure how recommendations work on t'internet? Equally Patsy, you have written your own very useful tomes - the prompts and the 'From Story Idea...' Just flagging it up there...
Also, a focussed theme running for the discussion post might help explore different facets from all the different people in the group?
Yes, it is lovely to think of us as a writing group - a supportive community :)

ados123 said...

Thanks for the post, Patsy. I love the blog as it is. I read it for the womag news really, but the competitions are a bonus - I've entered one or two. Keeping up to date with different magazine requirements and any new (or failing) markets is very useful as I don't alway see this information elsewhere.
The 'over to you' weeks are good - it's nice to see other people having success with various markets and competitions.
I'm not sure what I would suggest to change or add.
I glad your holiday in France was successful, work wise, and enjoyable. I'm very envious of your van...

Liz said...

I echo everything Alyson said - I think the blog is great as it is.

Sheelagh said...

Thanks Patsy for info, competition & great photos & for thinking about this issue. I like the idea of 'Post weekly with the posts between the current regular twice monthly posts being discussion topics/ over to you combination.
On a separate issue, I recently heard from Andrew Shaw (Woman's Weekly) that a story of mine was to be reused in Sept in Woman magazine. It's a story that was first published a couple of years ago. Its one that I have considered as a possible future novel & so I checked with Andrew on the viability of this due to selling the all rights. He very helpfully brought this up with their legal department & they confirmed that there was no issue with using the idea to expand it into a novel. To quote verbatim
'Our contracts cover the copyright for the exact piece of content written for/supplied to us. If you were wanting to reprint/re-use this exact same piece of writing then you would need our permission. However, as you are re-writing it into a longer form for a novel then you don't need our permission for that. We don't have rights to the idea, just the piece of writing that was originally published.'
It's just something that might be useful for people to know.

Anonymous said...


Just to add that I'm more than happy with the blog as it is and don't feel that it needs to change at all but that's my personal preference. As someone who has yet to receive an acceptance from TPF, I would be very keen to hear from established writers who have been published in TPF, regarding what has worked for them and what hasn't and the types of stories that have been accepted. I do keep an eye on the Fiction Ed's blog but given that they don't offer any feedback on rejections, subbing a story is starting to feel like playing darts in the dark, so I feel that I could benefit from some guidance and encouragement from people who have had acceptances, to be steered in something resembling the right direction. I'm sure that there are others would benefit from this.

@Sheelagh That's very useful to know regarding Woman's Weekly and what constitutes all rights, so thank you for that.

Sharon boothroyd said...

I'd also appreciate advice and guidance about how to have stories accepted for TPF.
I've subbed fiction to them for years without success, although some have been passed up the line and Shirley Blair gave me feedback on 2 stories several years ago.
Every time I've written a story and I think I've cracked it, it's rejected! One this year was held for a week before a reject.
I've even paid for a critique to find out where I'm going wrong!

ados123 said...

@Sheelagh Thanks for sharing that definition. Very helpful... I've also wondered about reusing the idea for a longer story.

Patsy said...

With regard to all rights – Sheelagh will be fine to write her novel as she's got permission to do so. But generally all rights really does mean everything. Although it's true that ideas aren't subject to copyright, plots and characters (amongst other things) can be.

The fact that one publisher gave one writer permission to extend one story doesn't automatically mean that other writers can do something similar. However, it does suggest that if that's what you'd like to do, it may well be asking for permission.

Fiona said...

Thanks as always for this post Patsy. I enjoy the blog as it is. It’s great getting updates on womag news and changes, plus good to hear other writers’ news. And I really appreciate the competitions as I’ve had quite a few successes, often in ones I’ve only discovered here.

Liz said...

@Ally27 - I've been selling stories and features to TPF for almost 4 years now, and the only advice I can give is to read the magazine. When I decided to have a go at writing a story for them, I bought a few copies of the weekly and a couple of Specials, then sat down and read them all from cover to cover - including the ads and the letters page. Once I had a good feel for the 'tone' of the mag, I asked myself which of my story ideas would sit well between those magazine covers. I did the same thing before successfully submitting a mystery to Woman's World in the US. And, when I have a bit more free time, I want to sit down with a bunch of Ellery Queen and Alfred Hitchcock Mystery Magazines and have a go at writing something for them as well. So, basically, I write the stories I want to write - but first I work out which market they'd be best suited to, and tweak the characters and plot accordingly.

Sharon boothroyd said...

Thanks Liz.
I find getting tone right (and their house style narrative) for their fiction the most difficult.
They've stated in their advice to writers that it's a good enough reason to reject material.
I'll take the advice on board and try again later when I feel ready to tackle it again.
Just to add - I've sold TPF rejects elsewhere.

Eirin Thompson/E.D. Thompson said...

Gorgeous pics, again, Patsy. Thanks for sharing. Like others, I very much like this blog as it is and enjoy the opportunity to feel part of a writing community as I don't know any other fiction writers in real life. Like Liz, I've been submitting work regularly to The People's Friend for a few years. In my case, I had quite a few rejections to begin with, but with these came a lot of learning. I would say there is definitely no magic formula for successful stories, but there are a number of suggestions I can make (in no particular order, and with no authority whatsoever, merely personal experience as a contributor). 1. The "Friend" reader enjoys stories of female friendship, of family and of romance, and a fresh angle on any of these seems to go down well. 2. Some outlets will happily feature stories including somewhat monstrous characters, but not the "Friend", I think: it seems perfectly acceptable to have a character who is somewhat flawed, but not aggressively so, and, by the story's resolution, they should see the error of their ways and emerge a better person. 3. A main character should not knowingly behave unkindly. 4. Gentle humour seems to be popular, arising perhaps from a main character's quirky viewpoint or teasing banter between two featured characters. 5. A main character generally needs a challenge or problem of some sort to work through in order to create a story (drama is conflict, as the saying goes). 6. Warmth is pretty much essential. 7.The main character needs to earn the reader's sympathy, somehow. If these seem like stating the obvious, please forgive! And I still get my share of stories declined, so am far from being an expert. Also, regarding the previous blog post comments, I absolutely agree that, if you do not wish to write novels and prefer short stories, then that is what you must do! I have two novels, representing months of work, that never found publishers, and that is hard to take.

Sheelagh said...

Thanks Liz & Eirin for those comprehensive insights into what worked for you re submitting to TPF, really useful suggestions there which I intend to take note of & thanks to Sharon for bringing it up. I'm relatively new to the world of TPF acceptance having only had my first acceptance within the past year & just 3 in total so I wouldn't dare to offer advice as yet. I'm still in the thrilled to have had any stories accepted phase!

Marian said...

I've just thoroughly enjoyed reading this week's blog and all the comments. I also feel as if I'm in a writing group when I come on here - I gained so much insight when I started to submit during the pandemic and everyone is so generous with their time and advice.

Like Sheelagh, I still feel a very new writer to TPF, but a piece of advice I found very useful (and this was from Patsy!) was to read the story I was hoping to submit in between reading a few from an edition of the magazine to see if mine felt like it would fit in. I still do that and I find it really helps me.

Patsy said...

@ Ally – I don't plan to change the blog much, but might add to it a little if that would be helpful – and when I have time.

I keep meaning to enter more competitions, so good luck to both of us.

@ Marguerite – Oh yes, those are excellent books! ;-) I could have a post where we could share info on resources we've found helpful.

I like being part of something where we're at different stages. That means many of us can both learn and pass on information - especially as people are at different stages in different things.

@ Alyson and @ LIz – I agree the blog is working pretty well as it is. I've no plans to remove anything.

@ Sheelagh. I'm glad you got the answer you wanted. I doubt there will be any trouble over it, but do keep that email in case of queries.

@ Ally and @ Sharon – there's good advice from other people hear. I agree with it all. My own addition is to focus exclusively on TPF (or whichever market you wish to aim for) over a few weeks. Read the latest issues, anything the editor puts on social media and try writing stories just for that market, so you're totally immersed in that mind set. Also try to get a feel for their average reader - the letters pages can help, and try to imagine what interests them.

One thing I find difficult with TPF is that, although they like main characters to change, they don't want them too upset, nasty, sad etc at the start, so some storylines might not work for that market.

@ Fiona – It's always good to hear from winners. It reminds us that success is possible and encourages us to have a go ourselves.

@ Liz - Yes, reading current issues is a very good idea. That's especially so when there are changes, such as the new editor at TPF. They won't suddenly start publishing horror and erotica, but there may be subtle changes.

Patsy said...

@ Sharon – You can definitely write great womag stories _ I know because I've read some of them. Your case proves that rejections don't necessarily mean a story isn't good enough to be published, just that it's not right for that magazine.

The tone is important with all womags, but especially so with TPF I think. Unfortunately it's also the hardest thing to give precise rules and guidance about. Their stories are almost a separate genre.

@ Eirin – Good advice. I do agree about the no magic formula, but once we do get a feel for what the editor wants it does get a bit easier.

@ Marian - Top tip there! And I agree (with myself) read the story, not just to look for ways to improve it, but also to check if it fits with the market you have in mind. Some stories just can't be made to fit some markets, others can be tweaked and adjusted so they do – and the odd few are perfect as they are.

Eirin Thompson/E.D. Thompson said...

Sheelagh, I am still very thrilled with every single acceptance, too! I don't think that's ever going to change.

Liz said...

I agree with Eirin that warmth is essential in a TPF story.

Ruth/Becca said...

A bit late to the party as usual, but I always enjoy this blog so much, so thanks Patsy and all. My womag-related news is I've taken early retirement as of last week after 35 years teaching, and now I can dedicate myself to writing. Hooray! Having had published several novels for children/young adults, I'm more than happy taking a break from crafting longer pieces of fiction, especially the exhausting editing process, although I have enjoyed working with some lovely editors over the years and love that relationship. It's still a heck of a lot of work. Also, so many books come out month by month and to me, the market seems saturated so the term 'shelf life' is very relevant. To write short stories is a breath of fresh air by comparison. That's not to say I won't try my hand at another novel - and indeed the PF & My Weekly pocket novels are very tempting, since a loyal readership is already guaranteed. My own two bits of advice re: writing for TPF is keep the word 'heartwarming' in mind and don't include deceitful characters as apparently, this is a big no-no.

Sharon Boothroyd said...

Many thanks everyone, for that advice. I've taken notes.
I'll try to do my best!

L said...

I love this blog. Although I seldom have anything to report, which is down to me doing little writing and even less submitting, I do enjoy hearing of the success of others.

Patsy said...

@Eirin – Our first acceptances are the most exciting, whether that's first ever, first for a particular publication, or for a new (to us) length or genre, I think, but I'm still very pleased with every one. I

@ Liz – Yes, very much so.

@ Ruth/Becca - Congratulations on having more time to spend on writing. I totally agree that novels are a lot of work and can understand not wanting to rush into starting one.

I think a TPF character who lied would need a really good reason, and we'd have to see it at the time, not find out later in the story, as might work for other markets.

@ Sharon – Good luck!

@ L – I'm glad you enjoy the blog, even if you're not currently writing a great deal.

Anonymous said...


@Liz, @Eirin and @Patsy - Sorry for being so slow to reply but I just wanted to thank you all for your tips/advice/suggestions regarding subbing a story to TPF. I have taken them all on board and I must say that I'm feeling slightly more hopeful about subbing and less like I'm walking a tightrope blindfolded:) I'm definitely going to read more issues of TPF to get more of a sense of the tone and the types of stories that they accept. Writing a story for TPF does feel like fine tuning a radio - more so than writing for any other publication. Also, I tend to write twist in the tale stories, which come more naturally to me but I realise that such stories are probably not favoured by TPF. I will keep at it. Thank you once again and happy writing!