Wednesday, 27 March 2019

Quirks, Passions and Guilty Secrets

Rejections. We all get them!

All too often the ensuing silence means eventually you accept it’s a ‘No’. If you’re lucky then you receive a polite ‘No, thank you’. But if you’re really lucky then you will receive some feedback: ‘This didn’t work because...’

One of the frequent reasons I received for rejection was ‘the characterisation was too weak’. But as I only write short stories, how can I make room for character development within a limited word count? So I asked the question of my fellow writers at the weekly #writingchat on Twitter (every Wednesday at 8pm, all welcome!).

Amongst many useful ideas I received, one which I found worked well was to assign each character a quirk, a passion and a guilty secret. These three simple pointers do indeed help to add depth to the inhabitants of a story who have only a few short lines to make their impact on the reader.

Those three ideas became the basis for an A-Z of character development which has now been published in the April edition of Writers’ Forum magazine.

So my thanks again to the writing community of Twitter. What useful advice have you received from fellow writers?

Sunday, 17 March 2019

People’s Friend

The first edition, 1869
One of the magazines for which I write is The People’s Friend. I have been fortunate to have several short stories and articles published with them.

The magazine has been officially recognised by Guinness World Records as the world’s longest-running women’s weekly magazine: first published in 1869, that is 150 years continued publication of short stories!

J Campbell Purr, maybe?
As part of the anniversary celebrations it has fitted out the ground floor reception area of its Fleet Street offices as a cosy living room, complete with a very purry cat. 

I called in on Friday afternoon and had a cuddle with the as yet unnamed feline.

Unlike many other magazines in the Womag market, ‘The Friend’, as it is affectionately known, still accepts unsolicited submissions, the editorial staff are renowned for their willingness to engage and work with their writers, and it does not demand copyright. 

My first Friend publication, 2014
They are though very exacting in their requirements and you would be well advised to follow their guidelines with care and to read several copies of the magazine before submitting any stories to ensure you understand precisely what it is they are looking for.

It is wonderful to see that there is still a market for short story fiction. And as magazines are often shared between friends it means your writing may be read by over a third of a million people. 

Long may The People’s Friend continue to flourish! (And long may I continue to be one of its writers!)

Wednesday, 13 March 2019

Over to Sharon Bee : Guest Post

Copyright Debbie Ridpath Ohi,
I’m delighted to welcome long-standing writer chum Sharon Bee to my blog today.

Sharon runs Fiction Addiction, a writing group of established Womag writers who meet remotely via email.

I have been a member of Sharon’s group for several years and have appreciated the practical help, support and friendship shared between members.

Over to Sharon:

Calling all Womag Writers!
Are you a published short story writer for women's magazines?
Would you like to receive honest (yet kind) feedback on your work to help increase your rate of sales?
Then why not join Fiction Addiction?
Fiction Addition is a free to join email critique group. 
We are a small group of womag writers with a high record of publication, therefore we warmly welcome published writers.
The idea of the group is test our work on members, and with their feedback, we adjust our work before subbing it to magazines. 
And it works!

For more information, please visit my website: 

I look forward to hearing from you!

Friday, 8 March 2019

National ‘Something-Or-Other’ Day

World Book Day, 7th March
I have volunteered to contribute a weekly blog post for the wonderful Jesmond Library. My focus is to explore happenings in the wider community which may be of interest to the library’s many users.

Other volunteers add regular posts about forthcoming events and activities within the library.

Researching for interesting topics I have been amazed at the number and variety of awareness days, weeks and months that exist. 

St David’s Day, 1st March
In March alone there are saints’ days (St David and St Patrick), various charities’ fundraising days (eg Comic Relief), social/political days (today is International Women’s Day), and there are foodie days (National Peanut Butter Lovers’ Day, anyone?). There are so many interests clamouring for attention.

Topics relevant to readers and writers this month include:
World Book Day - 7th March (outside the UK this is celebrated on 23rd April)
World Poetry Day - 21st March (but the UK celebrates poetry on 3rd October)
World Storytelling Day - 20th March (the UK conforms to the international diary for this one!)

National Stay-in-bed Day?
What do you think? Are there too many awareness days?

Any new topic days you want to suggest?