Saturday 2 September 2023

Autumn awaits

Summer was a bit variable, wasn't it? Maybe things will settle down as we move into autumn and maybe not, but a new season always feels to me like a new opportunity to get things done and hopefully achieve positive results. Do you feel the same way?

Free entry writing competitions

Here's a short story competition with a £500 prize.

Thanks to Fiona for the link to this competition. Both short stories and poems can be entered, but only by women who were born, or have lived, in Scotland. Do you think a couple of months in a campervan counts?

Fiona also reminded me about the Commonwealth short story prize. For those who qualify, this really is an excellent opportunity.

And thank you to Sharon Boothroyd for sending the link to this riddle writing competition which offers a £200 prize. As Sharon says, it does sound like fun.

Womag news

It seems that, after some time out of office, April from Best of WW is now back to accepting stories and answering queries. If you've got work which has been outstanding for a while, or unanswered pitches or questions, now might be a good time to give her a nudge. Note – this market takes all rights. I don't recommend subbing there for that reason.

If you submitted a story to The People's Friend, prior to 2022 and have not yet had a response, then the story hasn't been successful. See here for more details - and news about Christmas stories.

I'm hopeful that this has cleared the decks a bit and responses will now be swifter than has sometimes been the case over the last couple of years.

My news

The first book in my cosy crime series has been sent to a variety of publishers. It will most likely be a couple of months before I hear back from the majority of them. Those who reply that is, not all do.
While I wait, I'm working on book 2. The first draft is over a quarter complete. Most of my writing time is spent on that, but I have written and submitted a few womag stories.


ados123 said...

Thanks for the competitions, Patsy, a good luck with the novel that is out.
TPF seem to be really stretched at the moment. It's a shame they will no longer publish what's in the magazines. I'm not sure how Twitter will work for that. I guess we have to wait and see.
I haven't done much new writing this summer (?) - when it gets wetter and colder I'll retire to the study!

Ruth/Becca said...

Thanks for these competitions. I don't enter many competitions but have one that might suit "The Uncanny" theme.
I always find it difficult to motivate myself in August. I'm always left feeling I should have done more with the time but I guess that's a hangover from teaching. (Just retired? Did I mention? I am mentioning it constantly - haha! ) Personally, it's a relief to be back in September and I aim to branch out and do a bit of screenplay writing, maybe even adapt and extend one of my short stories. That's why it's important to retain the rights Patsy - absolutely agree with you.
I wonder, has anyone ever repurposed a short story in this way?

Sheelagh said...

Well done Patsy on new book (look forward to reading it) and good luck with your publisher quest. Amazing (to me at any rate) that you are so far on with your latest book.
Pity that TPF will no longer have their weekly updates of contents posted on their website but I suppose I will get use to reading it elsewhere.
I had good news this week when April got back to me and accepted all 3 of my submissions to the BOWW with a promise to purchase this coming week, really pleased about that.
As Alyson said earlier I haven't written much over the summer either, so I look forward to settling down later into Autumn & Winter when I will have more time for writing. We are finally experiencing a glorious Indian summer here so I intend to make the most of it out in the garden as sunshine has been thin on the ground for a while.

Sharon Boothroyd said...

It still feels like summer here, Patsy! I've noticed that it doesn't start to get cold until the end of October.
Some writers have noticed that TPF are changing the 'saids' in their stories to speech tags. Quite a few of these speech tags are negative, such as complained, grumbled, etc.
I would have thought this was a no- no for TPF, but it seems things are changing.
Well done to all who have acceptances and good luck with the publishers, Patsy.

Anonymous said...

Great to hear everyone's news. Special congratulations to Sheelagh on a triple success! Patsy, best wishes with the cosy crime, which seems to be the genre of the moment - perhaps readers have had their fill of psychological thrillers by now. Sharon, I don't see any problem with using terms like "complained" and "grumbled" en route to a positive, upbeat resolution in a story written with "The People's Friend" in mind - especially if there is also use of "exclaimed" and "cried", "teased" and "joked" by way of contrast. The term I had to let go of was "she smiled" - as in "'You're very kind,'she smiled". After noticing that my use of this was consistently changed to: "she said with a smile," or similar, the penny finally dropped for me that you can't smile actual words. Lesson learned. I will say that I find it very reassuring to know that the "Friend" team is meticulous about what appears in their pages and will almost certainly never allow me to embarrass myself in print with a silly mistake. Good luck to everybody for a productive September.

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

Oops. Not sure what I did there. The "Anonymous" above is me, Eirin Thompson/E.D. Thompson.

Elizabeth McGinty said...

Thanks Patsy for comp info and lovely photos. I am delighted to have a novel with a publisher, which will, fingers crossed, be available in May/June next year. I don't want to jinx it, so like you am keeping my head down working on next one. I have not submitted many short stories to mags lately, so unsurprisingly, I have no news on that front, except that I can now cross a TPF story off the list I was waiting to hear about. Hopefully things become a bit more manageable for the fiction team now.

Fingers crossed you hear back from publisher/s soon with a positive result.

Marguerite said...

Thank you, as always, for the competitions. The riddle one does sound fun :) Good luck with the cosy crime, Patsy, but still awaiting the next Spooky Stories... ? ;) I sent to BOWW yesterday and got an immediate automated reply with a message, so, yes, things looking good for answers. As for Ruth/Becca... 12 years out of teaching and NOT looking back! I thought I'd really miss those fraught Sundays/Sunday evenings getting everything sorted... would take me years to let it go... it so didn't!

Patsy said...

@ Alyson – Twitter notification doesn't sound ideal, but if the saved time means faster responses then I'm in favour.

@ Ruth / Becca – I believe that several films began as short stories. I don't know if it was the original author who adapted them though.

@ Sheelagh – Congratulations! That's a good result.

@ Sharon – I've heard about this but not seen it for myself yet. It seems a strange move to make, particularly if they're adding negativity. Presumably there's a reason.

@ Eirin – I'm very much in a favour of sticking with said, but accept editorial changes and am grateful if an error is corrected.

@ Elizabeth – Ooooh, exciting for you. I hope it does well.

@ Marguerite – I'm hoping to release another spooky stories collection later this year.

Alex J. Cavanaugh said...

Good luck on that cozy! Hopefully someone snaps it up.

Ruth/Becca said...

Ah yes, I know a lot of films began life as short stories - "The Birds" was an absolutely brilliant short story by Daphne du Maurier and very different from the movie. I was more wondering if anyone in this group had ever developed an existing short story into anything else? "It's My Shout" (BBC Wales) is opening its script submissions for short 10-12 minute films from October 1st and I am wondering about adapting something for that? Many of my short stories are based in Wales. "It's My Shout" are on facebook/twitter/instagram.
Marguerite - how wonderful - I am so glad to be joining you. I plan to do something special this coming Monday at 9 a.m. and it won't involve a register!!!

Anonymous said...

The recent proliferation of alternative speech verbs in TPF gives the impression it's being edited by a primary school student who's been told not to use the word 'said'.

It's amateurish and shoddy.


Fiona said...

All the best with the novel Patsy and thanks for the photos. Where is that amazing statue? Congratulations to those with acceptances too - what great news Sheelagh!
Ruth/Becca, years ago I developed a short story I’d had broadcast on Radio Scotland into a one act play, which won third prize in a playwriting competition. The judge said the ending was too quick so I changed that and it was performed in the Scottish Community Drama competition, winning two heats and the regional cup, as well as being on for a week in my home town in Scotland. I had such good feedback that I tried to get it published, but no luck. I loved seeing it come alive on stage, so I’d say definitely send something to “It’s My Shout!” Good luck!

Patsy said...

@ Alex – Thanks.

@ Ruth/Becca – Go on, give it a go!

@ Unimpressed – Oh dear, is it really as bad as that?

This does seem to be a big, and very sudden, change in house style. I'm very surprised at that, as sudden changes aren't something I associate with The Friend. It's odd too that when this was decided on, no change was made to the guidelines. Surely it must take up a fair bit of editorial time to find suitable alternative words.

@ Fiona – I think it was Copenhagen Town Square – definitely somewhere Baltic.

Oooh, well done re the play!

Liz said...

I feel for the PF team - it must be so hard dealing with such a heavy workload with a vastly reduced staff. It makes sense that they don't have time for the blogs, but it is sad that there is less reader engagement on the website.

I too have noticed the change in dialogue tags from the standard, unintrusive 'said' to more flowery ones. I don't really understand why PF have suddenly brought in a style that's regarded as old-fashioned, but I'm more concerned about the errors that have crept in as a result of changing 'said' to something else. I appreciate that writers are more likely to notice errors than readers are, but it's still an uncomfortable development.

Jenny Worstall said...

I remember a brilliant short story course with Shirley Blair and Alison Carter. We discussed speech tags and Shirley said to just use 'said' as the reader doesn't notice it, whereas if you cast around for alternatives, you might use something like 'opined' which sticks out of the text in a disconcerting way (perhaps a bit old-fashioned, too?). I've had a look at the recent PF magazine and agree there seems to be a change of policy with regard to speech tags. There are no guidelines to consult at the moment on the website but I'm fairly sure the old ones used to say we should use 'Jim said', as opposed to 'said Jim', which I know is about word order, but did also suggest that the use of the word 'said' was not discouraged.
In short, we need the new guidelines!

Ruth/Becca said...

Wonderful, Fiona. I bet it was fabulous to see your story brought to life on stage. Thanks for the encouragement, Patsy too :) I will let you know if this comes to anything X

Anonymous said...

Hearing of writers now ‘embarrassed’ by the editing in the latest PF mag. The mag has a new editor, assume the style change is down to him?

Ann On.

Anonymous said...

Good luck with your cosy crime novel, Patsy. And congratulations to Sheelagh! I might drop April at BOWW a reminder regarding a summer story I subbed back in March. (Probably too late to use this year now, even if it was accepted). I also subbed her a story in July, which I suppose is a little too early to chase up. Though if she’s working through her backlog of files now, who knows?

I finally managed to get hold of the new Yours Yearbook with my story in last week. Just love the illustration that goes with it.

Have a few good ideas for stories to write over the autumn.

Michael D

Susan Wright said...

April bought another of my stories this week, which I was very pleased about.
Almost made up for the fact that Lucy at PF rejected every one of my submissions the previous week.
Sounds as if I should be pleased about that though if they've started doing weird editing.
Thanks for the reminder about the Yours Yearbook, Michael.
I've got a story in there, but I keep forgetting to order a copy so I can see it.

Marian said...

Thanks for the latest news, Patsy. I love this time of year and am definitely feeling keen to settle down to more writing. It sounds as if there are a lot of acceptances and new projects for a lot of people - congratulations to everyone.

Patsy said...

@ Liz – Yes it must be hard. I get the impression they'd like to be able to interact with writers more, but simply don't have the time.

I don't understand the change in house style either – and surely it's generating extra work? I'd be very interested in learning why they've done this.

@ Jenny – Yes, new guidelines would be very helpful.

@ Ann On – Yes, the new editor is most likely responsible.

@ Michael – I hope you get good news (or at least some news) from April soon and I'm glad you like the illustration for your story. A nice one makes a publication even better.

@ Susan - congratulations on the acceptance.

@ Marian – I hope it's a productive season for you.

Liz said...

@Ruth/Becca - meant to respond to your post earlier, but got distracted when I saw the dialologue tag comments. I'm toying with the idea of reworking one of my short stories as a play (for the stage) - I attended a really helpful play writing masterclass a few weeks ago. I have a local theatre willing to do a reading for me when I've written it, which is great. I just need to carve out time to focus on it.

Graeme Simsion initially wrote The Rosie Project as a screenplay, then turned it into a novel - and then rewrote it as a screenplay!

@Fiona - it must be such fun to see your work on stage!

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

@Liz - that's so interesting about Graeme Simsion. I LOVED The Rosie Project. Good wishes for your play, and also to @Ruth/Becca and @Fiona with your dramatic works. You're a very versatile lot!

Anonymous said...

On Twitter - The People's Friend
We've been made aware of some ongoing concerns around using 'said' in fiction submissions. Just to confirm there are no changes to our house style. It's business as usual!

Patsy said...

@ Anonymous – Yes, I saw that. Not quite sure what to make of it, but hoping business as usual means that said will be appearing in the magazine in future.

Anonymous said...

15 is obviously a response to their 'tag' issue and the discussion here. It appears they don't want writers talking to each other openly in case it damages their 'image'.


Anonymous said...

Might as well shut this place down then.

Sharon boothroyd said...

Apologies if I've upset or offended anyone by raising the TPF speech tag topic on here.
I wish I hadn't bothered. I certainly won't be doing this in the future. I'll be keeping things to myself from now.
I don't feel comfortable passing on or sharing any kind of womag information/ updates in the future.
I thought this was a public arena to discuss and share aspects that concerned womag writers, but it seems I've made matters worse.
Sorry everyone but I honestly didn't realise that I had done anything wrong. Sorry again.

Patsy said...

@ ANN – Thanks for the link – but I think it's a big leap to assume that the last point refers to any particular issue, or any particular discussion on it. I know that many different groups have discussed the perceived change in speech tag policy at The Friend, and other topics such as waiting times for responses, from that magazine and others. Writers always talk to each other and I'm sure always will.

@ Anonymous – If by 'this place' you mean this blog, I shall continue to run it whilst I have the time to do so and feel it's useful to my fellow writers.

@ Sharon – This blog is indeed "a public arena to discuss and share aspects that concerned womag writers". That was it's purpose when Kath first set it up and it's been my aim since I took over.

You haven't offended or upset me and I don't feel you've done anything wrong. I hope other readers of this blog will be about to assure you of the same thing.

Sheelagh said...

This blog is a brilliant resource for womag writers all over the world & it's great to be able to openly & respectfully discuss issues here that affect us all. & if our discussions result in feedback, updates or corrections from magazines isn't that a good positive thing & means we are being heard which is what we want I would have thought

Anonymous said...

Sharon, you have done nothing wrong. You always make a valuable contribution to the blog, and I hope you continue to do so.

Patsy said...

@ Sheelagh – that's how I feel.

@ HB – Totally agree.

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

@Sharon - I am always interested to read your comments, as you often discuss matters that I haven't thought about before. Sometimes I will agree, sometimes I may disagree, but I always consider you a virtual writing friend via this blog and your published stories. @Patsy - the blog is a treasure. Hope it continues for a long time to come.

Elizabeth McGinty said...

Patsy this blog is a valuable resource and I for one hope it continues in the same vein where we can all discuss openly the things that worry, concern or delight us about writing or reading.

Sharon, I hope you can see that your input is welcomed by many of us and it would be a very sad day if you felt unable to comment.

Anonymous said...


Liz said...

It's important that writers continue to post information that affects us all, whether that be waiting times or potential style change alerts. So I hope no-one stops doing that. I for one have found this blog invaluable as a source of information.

Anonymous said...


@Sharon I'm sorry you feel that you're no longer able to share your comments/thoughts and any Womag information. As a new writer, who has only recently started subbing, I enjoy reading your comments, just as I enjoy reading the comments of all the contributors to this blog. Every single person has something to contribute and nobody should feel uncomfortable or inhibited sharing information/advice/concerns e.t.c. We can all benefit from other people's input, irrespective of how far along we are on the writing journey. Much of the information that is shared on here is invaluable and I am very grateful to Patsy for her continued efforts to keep it going and to every single person who contributes to it. I hope that you will continue to post on this blog.

Pamela Gough said...

Just read the latest issue of 'Yours.' There are several stories with no author's name. Is this a new thing?

Patsy said...

@ Elizabeth – that's how I hope it will continue.

@ Kate – I'm not entirely sure when it did stop. I assume that if we suspect we've missed one that it will be OK to email our assigned editor to check.

@ Liz – I too hope we continue to share appropriate information that's relevant to others writing for this market.

@ Pamela – I've not seen that. As you mention 'several stories' I assume this is Yours Fiction and not the regular mag?

Ruth/Becca said...

@Pamela, I saw this too and was wondering about it? Hmmm...

Patsy said...

@ Ruth/Becca - you've got me wondering now! I'll see if I can find a copy.

Patsy said...

I've found the mag - it's the current issue of the regular magazine. I couldn't find any author names either. I could well be wrong (there are plenty of precedents for that kind of thing) but there's something about the style which makes me think they didn't have different authors.

I'll be very interested to see if anyone else thinks the same, and if I'm right. Either way, it doesn't explain the missing bylines, but that could be a simple mistake and not a change of policy.

Pamela Gough said...

@Patsy let's hope it's not AI!