Friday, 13 October 2006

History Matters

Taken from the History Matters website:

History Matters - pass it on is all about raising awareness of the importance of history in our everyday lives and encouraging involvement in heritage in England and Wales. Our goal is to build public support and interest in looking after our history and heritage - today and in the future.
We know that history is something many people feel strongly about. But in the rush of our daily lives it's all too easy to take it for granted. And when it comes to the order of public priorities history is often sidelined. We urge you to join the campaign and show your support. Collectively the events taking place and opinions expressed will demonstrate the importance of history and heritage to the nation and become a unique record of our time.

Wednesday, 11 October 2006

Want to know why you can't sell your stories to the women's magazines?

First off, it probably has nothing to do with how well you write. That doesn't mean you can send out a sloppy ms. Note: See FAQ on guidelines in the archives.
It means, no amount of literary prose will impress a magazine editor unless it's what she/he is looking for. It must 'fit' his/her magazine (look I'm sick of being PC and writing 'his/her' so in future it's 'her' okay?).

I've seen some beautiful writing by folk with far greater experience/literary talent than I have, yet they can't sell to the womags. So, what are the eds looking for?

'I'll know it when I see it', is their usual response. I think they go as much with gut instinct as anything. But, they are experts at it and let's not forget their jobs rely on them getting it right.

So how do we please them?

  • Your story has to be a satisfying read - a hook at the beginning, no saggy middle and you must tie up all the loose ends at the finish. A reader should go 'Ahhh' at the close, not 'What the f***?'

  • The characters must be well-drawn, the sort their readership would recognise and identify with. You don't find many tattooed, bikers living with unmarried mums in The People's Friend, or wool shop owners wearing Tweed (the cloth or the perfume take yer pick) in Take A Break...see what I mean?

  • Your character must come up against a problem which she resolves in a satisfying and believable way. The solution must be something she works through, not a sudden 'cavalry coming over the hill' type of closure. Remember Bobby Ewing waking up in the shower in Dallas?

  • And this is the hardest criteria to must be something an ed hasn't seen before. Something original. Or at least a different 'take' on an old plot.

Sorry? You've made sure your story meets all the above requirements and still you can't get an acceptance? Then there's always the other reasons for non acceptance...

  • It was the right story at the wrong time. Magazines plan about 4 mths ahead. Don't send a summer holiday story out in August. Likewise don't send a Christmas one out in November.

  • The ed loves your story but she needed a 1000 word story and you sent in 2000 and there isn't time to ask you to cut it, so she chooses the next in the slushpile.

  • The story was well-written with great characters and a smashing ending BUT the editor regrets she took something similar last week.

  • The editor has bought far too many recently - enough for another six months. Make a note of this and re-send when the six months are up.

I'm sure there're a dozen other reasons if I had time to think of them (I have to feed the family sometime)

Conclusion: If you know you can write, don't take a rejection to mean your story is unsaleable. Try a different mag. One with similar guidelines, obviously, unless you're prepared to edit to fit...which a writer with a professional approach will almost certainly do.


Two sales to report today after a rather bleak couple of weeks - hurrah! One to UK mag the other to an Australian publication. The Oz one is going in over three pages, so more dosh than usual, yay! Maybe I should've plumped for the more expensive laptop?

Tuesday, 10 October 2006

Laptop update

I've ordered a Fujitsu Seimens Amilo L7320G after a really nice guy from Comet talked me out of different model I 'thought' I wanted. He pointed out that I get more memory, the same processor speed PLUS Microsoft Works for the same price...I only hope he wasn't on commission for the Fujitsu..oh, he was?

Is It Me?

I'm thinking of updating my laptop - got a buyer for the present one and I have a bit of cash put by from a recent sale to Woman's Weekly so I trotted off to a well-known store full of expectations. I've come home sans laptop. Why?

Because the model I wanted comes with extras such as an infra red mouse, carry case, and Norton Security - none of which I need or want, BUT I DO need Microsoft Works/Office which the model doesn't have installed.

Why, I asked, couldn't I swap the free goodies for Works?
Because that's not the deal, said the assistant.

No amount of begging would sway her so I left without making a purchase...which would have been around £600. Seems ridiculous to me when Office cost around £119 and the 'free' goodies were the same price.

Oh well, I shall search the Internet instead and when 'well-known' store moans they're having to cut staff in-store, I'll know why!