Monday, 25 May 2015

Hi Res, Hi Res, Hi Res!

On 13th April I posted about the joys of pitching one idea, but being commissioned for something slightly different ( Well, that ‘different’ piece has now been published, and if you haven’t already bought the June issue of Writers’ Forum, then take care when turning to pages 14 and 15. To have me looking at you through one photo is bad enough, but to have seven more photos of me staring up at you must be horrifying! (And several people have also commented that the way I’ve morphed from Terry Pratchett into Simon Whaley is quite an achievement too, particularly as it involves a pink wig.)

Anyway, if you buy a copy of the magazine and scrutinise the penultimate image you’ll see it looks quite blurry. This was intentional, but not because I’m trying to hide any wrinkles or lines, etc. No, it’s what happens when an editor is sent a low resolution author photo image when, for magazine purposes, they really need high resolution photos.

Now, many of you may say, “But I’m not an author. I don’t need an author photo.” Rollocks, to that. Every writer needs a head and shoulder’s photo of themselves, because magazines are asking for them these days. Go through Writers’ Forum magazine and the short story winners all have photos at the end of their stories. Pick up BBC Countryfile, My Weekly, Country Walking, Country Living, or The Simple Things, to name a few, and you’ll see that magazines often use a This Issue’s Contributors at the front, containing photos of some of the writers. 

It doesn’t matter whether you write articles, short stories, non-fiction books, poems or novels, at some point you’re going to get asked to provide an author photo. So, why not buy a copy of the June issue of Writers’ Forum to consider my suggestions about what you should, and shouldn’t, include in a photo? And then head over to my website, where, if you click this link:, you’ll get taken to a post where you can download my free (yes free) PDF guide to how to ensure your author photo is of a high enough resolution.

Good luck! 

Monday, 18 May 2015

Six Years In the Making

I’ve done it. After six year’s of submitting, rewriting, resubmitting, and getting critiques from short story friends, I’ve finally sold a story I was convinced was publishable. I’d even entered it into competitions, where it had been shortlisted, and even highly commended a couple of times, but all of the fiction magazines had rejected it. Until last week.

The irony is the magazine that has accepted it rejected it back in 2009. But, of course, the version they’ve accepted is different to the version they saw back then. Every time I resubmit a story I review it, edit it and rewrite it slightly, so the version this magazine has bought could, technically, be classified as version 18.

But it just goes to show that you should never give up. The fact that the story was highly commended in a couple of competitions, and some (regularly published short story) writer friends commented that it was a publishable story, gave me the confidence that the story wasn’t complete cack! But finding the right market isn’t always easy, especially with fiction, because you don’t always know exactly what the editor is looking for.

Of course, what’ll be interesting to see now is whether the editor makes any changes when it is published.

So if you have an idea that you think works well, have conviction in your creativity. Keep developing the idea and reworking it. Never give up, because you don’t know when success is just round the corner.

Good luck.

Monday, 11 May 2015

It's Criminal

It all started with a burglary. Or rather, an attempted burglary. There’s a property down my road that is empty since the owner died, and it’s been on the market for a couple of weeks. The other day a young policeman knocked on the door. (I now I’m getting older, because the policeman are getting younger. In fact, one elderly neighbour called him a police cadet!) 

Anyway, the policeman informed me that there’d been an attempted break in at the empty property, and he wanted to know if I’d seen any people hanging around, or taking a particular interest in it. (The temptation to remind him that the house was on the market, and therefore there were lots of people driving along the road, and slowing down as they passed by, because that’s what happens when a property is for sale, was great.)

Of course, being a writer, this got me thinking, and so far, it has generated three projects:

1) a short story about some prospective house hunters,
2) an article for a financial institution magazine about extra security tips when selling a property,
3) an article about the history of the Neighbourhood Watch scheme.

And I don’t doubt that it will stop there. 

There’s no reason why any writer should be stuck for ideas. Just look outside your window. There are loads out there. You could say it would be criminal not to do anything with them.

Good luck.

Monday, 4 May 2015

Opportunities Round Up

I’ve had a few opportunities for writers been sent to me recently, so I thought I’d collect them all together and share them with you here:

Writers Abroad Anthology 2015 - Closing Date 15th June
Organised by expat writers group - Writers Abroad, Writers Abroad will be publishing their fifth anthology, entitled Kaleidoscope. They are seeking submissions of short stories, flash fiction and poetry on the theme of light, because 2015 is the International Year of Light and Light-based Technologies. The theme is open to interpretation: your light might dispel evil, or reveal something unexpected in the darkness; perhaps your character ‘sees the light’ in a revelation; or light may have an important role in your setting. Firelight can destroy or warm and illuminate; or you may be inspired by the difference in light in other countries. The anthology will be print published and later available as an e-book.

This year Writers Abroad will be donating all profits made to: Room to Read, an international charity striving for a world in which all children can pursue a quality education, reach their full potential and contribute to their community and the world. To achieve this goal, they focus on two areas: literacy and gender equality in education. They work in collaboration with communities and local governments across Asia and Africa to develop literacy skills and a habit of reading among primary school children, and support girls to complete secondary school with the life skills they’ll need to succeed in school and beyond.

Author Christopher Allen will be writing the foreword for this anthology. He is the author of Conversations with S. Teri O'Type (a Satire), an episodic adult cartoon about a man struggling with expectations. Allen's writing has appeared in a wide range of publications. A finalist at Glimmer Train in 2011, Allen has been nominated for Best of the Net and the Pushcart Prize twice. 

2015 Doris Gooderson Short Story Competition - Closing Date 13th July 2015
I mention this one because it’s one being run and organised by the writers’ group that I attend. For the third year running, we’re donating all profits from the competition to our local hospice, the Severn Hospice ( In the last two years we’ve donated over £620 from the competition.

We’re seeking short stories of up to 1200 words on any theme. There’s an entry fee of £3 per short story. First Prize = £150, Second = £70, Third = £40. For full details and how to submit visit:

Please do read the rules of entry - we do disqualify entries every year because they don’t meet the rules!

Erewash Open Sort Story Competition 2015 - Closing Date 24th September 2015
Right, best behaviour everyone for this one, because I’m judging it! 

Short stories of up to 2,000 words on any theme are sought here. Entry fee = £3. First Prize = £100, Second Prize = £50, Third Prize = £25, Fourth Prize = £25.

Please remember - as I’m judging this one, do not get in touch with me directly about this, otherwise you’ll break the anonymity of the judging process (Rule 2).

Good luck!