This long-running magazine is primarily known for its short stories, which are character-driven, traditional, feel-good tales. The fiction team are hugely encouraging and often offer advice if you’re close to being accepted.
The magazine also publishes features and poetry.
They have recently given their website an overhaul and there are some useful submission guidelines, which can be downloaded.
The weather is a useful tool for producing a certain type of atmosphere. A gloriously sunny day immediately conjures up feelings of warmth and joy, where something happy is about to happen. This may be the atmosphere you want to create for a wedding in your story. Though, perhaps it’s a wedding doomed not to take place. Again, you can use the weather to change the mood of the story and build up a mounting sense of tension, with the wind gathering momentum and thick clouds charging across the sky.
Here is the final instalment of my Harrogate Festival journey. Click for parts one, two, three and four if you missed them. Here is the final instalment of my Harrogate Festival journey.
Sunday morning dawned and we were due to set off for home. The Crime Festival still had half a day to go, but as I explained in parts one, two, three and four, we were only there for Friday and Saturday. However, after talking to my lovely friend, Jill, the night before, I’d discovered that if you’ve missed out on an event as all the tickets have been sold, you can go to the box office ten minutes before the event and queue for unused tickets. The reason being for this, she explained, is because a lot of the attendees have day or weekend rover tickets, meaning they pay a single price, which then entitles them to go to any of the talks they like on those days. But, of course, not everyone is able to, or wants to go to every single talk. So the organisers don’t know how many seats will be filled until everyone takes their seats during each actual event. Often several seats are left, meaning those queuing at the box office are able to buy a ticket and enjoy the talk too.
we knew Jed Mercurio (he wrote Line of Duty and The Body Guard) was being
interviewed by Steph McGovern on the Sunday at midday. We’d been keen to go to
the talk as soon as we saw he was going to be there, but we had been too slow
and tickets had sold very quickly and we’d missed out. Was it worth our going
on the Sunday morning to try and get to see him? Too right it was!
So we arrived back at The Old Swan at eleven thirty and made our way to the box office. We were given tickets, a little like raffle tickets, or the ticket you get when you queue up in Clarks shoe shop to tell you that no, you’re not next in line; in fact, you have about thirty people ahead of you. Out of the two, with a sea of people who seemed to have arrived hours before in front of us, it felt more like being in Clarks shoe shop than it did being at a fete, waiting to see if I’d won a prize.
our turn came and we got to see Jed Mecurio after all. It was definitely worth
waiting for. Steph was a great interviewer and elicited plenty of interesting
answers from Jed, about himself as well as the scripts he writes.
So we left the Crime Festival, and Harrogate, very happy and already thinking about next year’s event…
My Guest Writer this week is the delightful Debbie Ioanna, who I met at the UK Indie Lit Fest recently.
Debbie kindly agreed to write a guest post for me about her writing journey:
I have always wanted to
be a writer. That is such a cliché, right? To be honest, I haven’t always
wanted to be a writer. When I was younger I wanted to be an actor, or a
comedian, then a vet, at one point a nun (after watching Sister Act), also a
teacher (until I realised I would have to interact with children) and various
other short lived dreams. But being a writer was something only people in
London did. All the big books got published down there, nothing ever happened
in Bradford. Not for normal people anyway.
a child, up until my mid-teens, my mum took me shopping every week and I would
always hit the book section of WHSmiths or Waterstones and pick out my next
read. (The Waterstones store in Bradford is a fascinating, historical building
that everyone needs to visit). Books were so magical. They took me to another
world, whether it was a kid mixing marvellous medicine or a boy discovering he
was a wizard. Could I imagine back then that I would have my own books written
and for sale? Absolutely not!
When I was sixteen, way
back in 2004, I wrote my first book. Well, not quite. English GCSE coursework
called for a short story leading up to someone running away, and it was to be
called ‘Homeless’. Writing it, and fighting my way towards a B grade, I
decided I didn’t want it to end at someone running away, I wanted to create a
life for my character after they had run away. And so, ‘The Runaway
Girl’ was born. Would I try to submit it to a publisher though? What was
the point? So, I held on to it, for over ten years.
In 2016, after a prosecco
fuelled discussion with my best friend (who lived and worked in London) she
threw out a phrase I had never heard before. ‘Publish it yourself, be an indie
author’. Thinking I had supped a little too much prosecco, I asked her to
elaborate. She explained that people now forgo the traditional publishing route
and publish their own work, and that I absolutely HAD to give it a go!
So, I did. That September, ‘The Runaway Girl’ was officially on sale on Amazon. All of a sudden, I could google myself and find the book that I wrote, how crazy was that?
I never planned on
writing a second book. What on earth could I write about?
I suddenly had an urge to
read a scary book. The kind that made you too scared to turn the light out at
night. I found a few and got myself tucked up in bed each night, the duvet
ready to hide under from the scary ghosts, but each of the books left me disappointed.
Nothing was scary. I felt so let down and decided then that I should write my
‘Abberton House’ was so much fun to write. Mainly because I stupidly wrote late at night, in winter, when the darkness set in very early. Many nights I ended up freaking myself out, thinking I had a poltergeist on my upstairs landing when really it was my own cats running around chasing each other! In April 2017, it was ready and published for all the world to read.
As time went on, I started
to wonder how I could write something different. Something funny. In
particular, my hilarious dating disasters but in a way that people would not
know it was directly about me. Could I put it in my blog? No, too obvious. How
could I do it? There were so many stories that needed telling. I had to share
them. How could I do it?
Suddenly, the opportunity
was at my fingertips.
Whilst studying Creative
Writing with the Open University, I wrote a short story titled ‘Blind Date’.
A thirty year old woman is set up on a terrible blind date by her best friend
and it is cringe-tastic. And suddenly… I had my chance.
The short story suddenly became a full novel jam-packed with witty stories. The real achievement is that I wrote it whilst on maternity leave with a new-born baby. ‘Blind Date’ has been a small scale success for me. The feedback has been unbelievable, and it was almost a sell-out at a book festival I attended in 2019.
It is by far my favourite
book that I have written. I have been told that witty humour is my ‘niche’ but
really, that attitude comes naturally to me. My blogs (or rants as I’d rather
call them) that I started only a couple of years ago are evident of that. I can
be serious, of course, but I love knowing that something I have written has
people laughing out loud. Maybe that childhood dream of being a comedian is
It has been three years since ‘The Runaway Girl’ was published and so much has changed. I am no longer the closet writer; I am a fully-fledged author and blogger. Some of my mummy blogs have even featured on parenting websites. I have also stretched my wings a little further and become a book reviewer and proof reader. I am slowly edging my way to giving up the day job to have a career focused around writing. Wouldn’t that be a wonderful dream?
• Are you struggling with your short story?
• Has your synopsis sizzled out half-way?
• Not sure which markets to target?
Perhaps you'd just like someone to check your script through. If any of this applies to you, then take a look at my ‘Editing And Advice For Writers’ page to see how I can help.