Friday, 30 September 2016


Sorry, all the quick links to magazine guidelines as well as some other stuff has vanished from the blog (thanks to Enid Reece for alerting me). I'm hoping this is just a temporary glitch and they'll be back soon, but if not I'll reinstate them within the next few days.

In the meantime, here are some Belted Galloway cattle.

Saturday, 24 September 2016

That's Life! (Australia) guidelines

The fiction editor at That's Life has kindly sent their latest guidelines for the blog -

that's life! Fast Fiction Guidelines
that's life! Fiction Guidelines
There are two ways we publish fiction:
- A one-page story in the weekly edition of that's life! magazine
- A range of one, two, three and four page stories in our quarterly Fast Fiction magazine, released seasonally (Summer/Spring/Autumn/Winter)
Sending us a story
We accept only emailed submissions. Posted hard-copy stories will no longer be considered. Email your story, for both the weekly magazine and quarterly magazine, to
If possible, please send your stories in Microsoft Word format, as an attachment to the email. Please do not paste/write your story into the body of the email.
Send one attachment per email - please do not attach multiple stories.
Please do not heavily format the story with tabs or headings, and use single spacing between sentences and single quote marks.
Include your name and contact details.
Include the following in the subject and body of the email:
- Story Name
- Theme
- Word Count
For example: The Magician, Spooky, 650 words
Writer's Agreement
We have a new Writer's Agreement in place and you MUST complete and sign it for your story to be published with us.
If we don't have an agreement from you and we'd like to use one of your stories, we will email it to you, when a story is commissioned, for it to be completed, signed and returned.
In the weekly magazine, we run a wide range of stories and do not publish them with strict themes, except for the annual events below. Please note for these themes we will need to receive submissions around two months before the event.
- Australia Day (Jan)
- Back to School (Jan/Feb)
- Valentine's Day (Feb)
- Easter (April)
- Anzac Day (April)
- Christmas In July (July)
- Mother's/Father's Day (May/Sept)
- Halloween (Oct)
- Melbourne Cup Day (Nov)
- Christmas (Dec)
- New Year's Eve (Dec/Jan)
For the quarterly Fast Fiction, we have SIX themes, so your story should fall into one of the following categories:
- Romance (All things love)
- Heartwarmer (Sweet stories/happy endings)
- Thriller (Keeps you guessing until the end)
- Revenge (Someone gets their just desserts)
- Sixth Sense (Spooky/Scary/Spiritual/Mystic/Fate and Fortune)
- Light Bite (Everything else! A fun, easy read)
Word Counts
1 page = 600 – 650 words
2 pages = 1200-1400 words
3 pages = 1600-1800 words
These are approximate and the final word count printed will depend on the design of the page/s. You don't need to overly cut or edit your story to fit the word counts.
Rights and Exclusivity
We will now accept stories that have either:
- Never been published anywhere previously worldwide.
- Not been published in an English speaking publication. If it's been published in English, in the UK or USA for example, unfortunately we can no longer consider your story, so please do not submit.
If you have not heard anything from us in 90 days, it is unlikely your story will be used at this time. You are welcome to resubmit stories six months after your first submission.
Please understand that due to the bulk of emails we receive, we are unable to reply individually to submissions, nor can we reply to follow up correspondence asking if stories have been received, read or accepted.
If there's a story of yours we'd like to use, you will receive an email indicating that:
- We'd like to publish your story in an upcoming issue of that's life! weekly magazine OR we would like to publish your story in the next edition of the Fast Fiction quarterly
- We will ask if the story is still available to purchase and let you know the amount to invoice for if this is the case
All invoices will be submitted to the finance department when the issue is sent to print.
Please note the payment is for how many pages are published, not the pages/word count of your unedited original submission.
The payment rates are as follows but may vary for special publications:
that's life! weekly magazine (one-page story) = $300
Fast Fiction quarterly
1 page = $200
2 pages = $300
3 pages = $400
Subject Matter
We are looking for humorous, clever, positive, contemporary stories with a strong and easy-to-follow plot. It's a good idea to read several issues of the magazines to get the flavour of the type of fiction we publish.
Avoid straightforward romance - boy meets girl and they live happily ever after. Also avoid stories narrated by animals or babies, and it can be confusing if you have too many characters. A maximum of four is usually best.
If the story has a twist it should arise from the story, rather than from a detail kept from the reader. To check your twist, imagine your story were being made into a film - would the surprise still work?
Please remember that that's life! is a family magazine so graphic murders, sex crimes and domestic violence are not acceptable.
We normally write in chronological order, so please keep events in sequence and avoid 'jumping' around time slots, as this can be confusing.
Common twists to avoid:
  • The heroine/narrator is revealed to be a cat, dog, car, possum, tree or ghost!
  • A partner's mysterious arrangements turn out to be for a surprise party
  • The perpetrator's murder plan backfires and s/he eats the poison
  • A woman meets up with a handsome "stranger" for a steamy rendezvous and it turns out to be her husband
  • Someone nervous about a first day at school turns out to be the teacher; or about a wedding, the vicar; or an interview, the interviewer.
  • A woman spots her boyfriend/man of her dreams with a beautiful blonde lady - who turns out to be his sister
  • Anything involving twins
  • A murder/death actually turns out to be part of a play rehearsal
It's not that we would never use a story with these plot lines, but bear in mind we do get a lot of them. So your story would need a fresh angle to stand out.
If you don't hear from us...
If your story isn't accepted it can be for any number of reasons. Sometimes we have already published, or have in stock, a similar story. Or we may feel it will not appeal to our readers. But this does not mean we will not like another of your stories, so don't lose heart. Keep writing and sending them in!

Thursday, 22 September 2016

Meeting with womagwriter Andrea Wotherspoon

Andrea Wortherspoon lives right at the top of Scotland, where it's not that usual to have womagwriters who just happen to be passing. That wasn't enough to save her from a visit by the travelling writer.

We've known each other virtually for a while and exchanged critiques online, but never met and never chatted much - we made up for that!

To many of our comments on writing the other responded with 'me too'. It's good to know I'm not alone in either having more ideas than I can write, or having to start writing and hope I can drag something together.

Also reassuring was the knowledge I'm not being particularly neurotic (as womagwriters go) to react to a batch of rejections by wondering if I'll ever sell anything ever again.

Something else we have in common is liking a nice walk. Andrea suggested going out to Holburn Head and she's right, it's lovely there. I can easily understand why Andrea uses her local area in some of her stories.

That's the Orkneys you can see in the distance and the ruin you may have spotted in the picture of the two of us is Thurso castle.

Sunday, 18 September 2016

Guest post by womagwriter Sharon Boothroyd

Sharon from Kishboo magazine is today's blog guest.

I was reading the October's issue of Writers' Forum magazine recently.
As a womag writer, I've been eagerly following Douglas McPherson's excellent ongoing series about how writer Helen Yendall won The People's Friend serial writing competition.
However, I was really taken aback to discover that PF Fiction Editor Shirley Blair has her own stories featured in the magazine, published under a different name.
This fact was revealed when Helen attended a PF workshop.
Douglas doesn't make a big thing of it – in fact, he skips over it quite breezily - but when I brought this up with members of my online womag writing group, there were quite a few reactions.
Several people wondered who actually edits Shirley's work before it's published? 
Does she award herself a fee for her stories?
With so many talented womag writers around, I feel puzzled why a Fiction Editor finds it necessary to include their own work in their own magazines. 
As another member of my group pointed out, they are in 'guaranteed publication' position. Is this practice fair to womag writers?
Fiction Ed Karen Byrom of My Weekly used to be a My Weekly short story writer. Is she still one? 
And do Fiction Eds submit their work to other magazines?
We womag writers realise we are competing with other writers, but I didn't realise we were competing with work from Fiction Editors too.
What do you think about this?

Monday, 12 September 2016

Can you help?

Jason has asked a question -
Hi, Everyone.
I submitted a feature article to "The People's Friend" back in the first week of June.
I still haven't heard from them and was wondering if anyone had any idea how long they generally take.

This isn't a market I write for so I don't have a clue. Can anyone else help?

Wednesday, 7 September 2016

Free editing ebook.

My friend Anne Rainbow has written a book on editing - EDITING the RedPen Way - and it's currently free to download!

I was amongst Anne's first 'RedPenners' (which is why the book is dedicated to me and another writing friend, Enid Reece) and still use this system to help me edit my short stories before submission.

Tuesday, 6 September 2016


From the October issue. Thanks to Kerry for the first image - and Beatrice for the bigger one.

Saturday, 3 September 2016


Another update courtesy of Kerry - thanks. This is from the October issue.

Monday, 1 August 2016

WWFS - September issue.

Thanks to KJ Carine for forwarding this image to me (currently away from home so haven't seen my copy yet).

Wednesday, 27 July 2016

Interview with Womag Writer Sheila Crosby

Today's guest is my writing buddy Sheila Crosby.

Sheila, I know that like many womag writers you recently attended one of the Woman’s Weekly writing workshops - which one was that?
I went to the “Plot and Storytelling” workshop in London on June 27th.

What did you hope to gain from attending the workshop?

I've occasionally sold short stories to womags, but I've never sold to WW and I've never sold womag fiction consistently. I hoped the workshop would bring me closer to achieving that.

Can you give us any pointers on plotlines which might be particularly suitable - or otherwise, for Woman’s Weekly?

Stay clear of politics, religion and anything else obviously controversial. Also, you can have serious problems, but nothing unrelentingly bleak. People don't read womag fiction to finish up more depressed than they started.

I certainly hope you thought it was worthwhile, as it’s not exactly local for you, is it?

Definitely worthwhile! Although the cost would have been prohibitive if I'd travelled all the way from a small Canary Island just for the course. I love La Palma, but it's not easy to get to anywhere else. Actually, it was the last day of a holiday in the UK; I went to the course in London on Monday and flew out of Gatwick on Tuesday.

*pretends to look surprised and hopes blog readers won’t realise I’ve visited you over there* Gosh, that must be interesting. Does where you live influence what you write?

Oh yes! One of the womag stories I've sold (to “Yours”) was set on La Palma, and I'm writing a whodunnit set in the astronomical observatory at the top of the island. 

I didn't need to do much research because I worked there as a software engineer for 12 years and a tour guide for 8, and it's much too interesting a setting to waste. I've also self-published a non-fiction guide to the observatory(English version available here)aimed at normal people rather than astrophysicists, which is still doing rather well.

Sheila's also written two story collections - both of which I recommend. 

The Seer's Stone (she says it's a children's book, but it's too much fun to keep it just for them) and The Dodo Dragon and other stories which is sc-fi  (have hankies ready for the first one).
I usually ask interviewees about their writing fuel of choice. It’s trifle, right?

I nibble a lot when I'm writing. I get through far too many crisps and biscuits and my waistline looks that way. *Resists temptation to include that photo of Sheila eating trifle*

Anyway, back on topic - Would you recommend the workshops to other writers?

Definitely, unless they've already sold a bunch of stories to WW.

Tuesday, 19 July 2016

Desknet - update

I've had my first payment through the new system at Woman's Weekly. I didn't doubt it would arrive, but it's nice to have that conformation it all worked properly. Nice to have the dosh in the bank, too!

Also Claire from Desk-Net (not Claire from Woman's Weekly) replied to my last post on the subject, offering to answer any questions we might have. Just send them an email if there's anything you want to know.

Tuesday, 12 July 2016


I have a story in the current My Weekly Summer Special, which is set in the very place Gary proposed to me five years ago. We got married exactly a year later, so I have plenty of reason to celebrate today.

Wednesday, 6 July 2016


I've had a couple of pleas for help regarding the desknet system used by Woman's Weekly, so thought I'd post up what I know here in case others are struggling.

The first you'll hear is an invitation to register and the option to change the password you'll be sent (all communications are via email). This isn't likely to happen until after you've had your first acceptance with them. There's a link to a video you can watch to tell you what to do and an email address to ask for help if you get stuck.

You'll also be asked to print off, complete, scan and return a bank details form. I don't have a scanner so signed it electronically. You probably won't get any kind of acknowledgement back.

The emails suggest you should submit work through descent. Don't. Do it as you always have.

After a story is accepted, which happens by email from Clare, you'll get an email from desknet asking you to invoice your commissioning editor (that's Maureen). Just send it to her as an email. You'll also be asked to upload the story. There'll be a link on the email and you do it very much like attaching it to an email. Don't try to upload anything direct to Desknet without going through the links on the emails.

You'll then probably get about four emails asking you to submit! I just ignored them.


If in any doubt at all either email the desknet help people, or Maureen. After my go last week, I contacted her to check it had worked and she was able to check the system and confirm the story was uploaded OK.