Welcome to our fourth Publication Party! Last session with Alex J Cavanaugh was met with the usual enthusiastic response from all of you aspiring authors. Now we've settled into the routine, we'll all just grab ourselves something to eat and drink and get right into this session.
But first, congratulations to last week's prize winners. Random.org chose 2 Aussie girls this week - nice! Amie Kauffman won the novel, Belly Dancing for Beginners by Liz Brynski, and Lynda Young won Relentless by Dean Koontz.
Today we have a change of pace, from published novelists to published short story writer. Writing short stories is my bread and butter. Publishing a novel can take years, but if you learn the craft of the short story you can hone your writing skills, get published (hopefully) and earn quite a tidy sum. That is why I've invited Helen to speak to us today. Helen gets her stories published in so many magazines (I can't even pick up my favourite fiction mag in Australia without seeing one of her stories looking at me) so I have asked her to tell us how she achieved such stupendous success in a relatively short time.
For those of you who don't know the very English Helen, here is a short bio:
She has also had real life stories published by My Weekly, This England and Evergreen magazine, and articles in Writers’ Forum and The New Writer magazine. Helen is also in the early stages of writing a novel.
You can find her writing blog at http://fictionisstrangerthanfact.blogspot.com and her book review blog at http://bookersatz.blogspot.com .
I was delighted to be asked by Denise to take part in her Publication Party. We’ve been following each other’s blogs for a while now and it’s been great to learn so much about the life of a writer on the other side of the world from me.
Denise has asked me to share some thoughts about my journey to becoming a published short story writer.
I started writing just over five years ago and short stories have always been my first love. I went on a course at my local adult education college in September 2005 and wrote my first ever short story. And that was it, I was hooked on writing short stories and haven’t stopped since. I carried on writing stories and slowly got better and learnt how to write stories that other people might actually want to read.
Eventually my story ‘Shredding The Label’ was published by Momaya Press (a wonderful press based in the UK and US which runs a prestigious competition every year – http://www.momayapress.com/ ).This was a very significant moment for me as it was my first fiction publication.
Since that first publication, I have continued to write short stories and also short non-fiction pieces. I have been fortunate to be published by magazines such as My Weekly, Woman’s Weekly, Writers’ Forum and This England. There is still nothing to beat the feeling of having a story accepted and published.
Although I spend quite a lot of time now writing non-fiction and I’ve started on a novel, I’m sure I’ll continue to be inspired to write short stories as no matter what other writing I do, the characters and situations that turn into short stories keep appearing in my head. There is a very special feeling of achievement from writing a complete short story in a relatively short space of time, editing it until it shines and then sending it out into the world to see how it fares.
My tips for writing short stories for the women’s magazine market:
- I would advise initially concentrating on targeting one or two magazines. All magazines have different requirements and like slightly different types of story. It’s more manageable if you look at a limited number of magazines in great depth at a time.
- Always remember that magazines are looking for stories that are similar in style and tone to the ones they are currently using, but at the same time they need to be different enough to catch an editor’s eye.
- Write lots of stories and keep sending them out. It’s helpful if you can set yourself a quota. For example, I’m aiming to write one new story a week at the moment. If one magazine rejects a story, look at it again, tweak it if necessary and send it elsewhere. Just because one editor doesn’t like it, that doesn’t mean another won’t love it. Once you are writing to a publishable standard, the more stories you have out there, the more chance of acceptance you have.
- Join a critique group, either online or in the real world. It’s great for support and motivation and essential for feedback. Make sure that at least some people in the group are being published in the area you are aiming for.
- Beginnings and endings of stories are very important. You need to grab an editor’s attention with the beginning of your story and leave them with a smile on their face or a lump in their throat at the eFor further information and advice I highly recommend:
Teresa Ashby’s blog (http://teresaashby.blogspot.com/ ) and
Della Galton’s website (http://www.dellagalton.co.uk/ ).
As I’ve said, beginnings and endings are both key to selling short stories. So I will be offering a critique of the first hundred words of a short story to one of the commenters on this post. Please also feel free to ask questions in the comments and I will pop back and answer as many as I’m able to.
Thanks again to Denise for inviting me to be a guest on her blog.
Great to have you with us Helen.
Now before I move onto the prizes I recommend How to Write and Sell Short Stories by Della Galton. It has made all the difference to my success in the short story realm.
PRIZES! TODAY everyone who comments and leaves their email address will be in the draw to win EITHER a book of short stories or a critique by Helen of the beginning of your short story (100 words):
So thank you all for coming today. Before you leave would you mind doing the following:
•leave a comment with your email address if you want to be in the draw for this week's book prize or critique by Helen or the GRAND PRIZE and giveaway books and writing paraphanelia at the end of the series (you must comment on each post to win, starting at the first post. If today is your first day, go back to the previous sessions, read and leave a comment. I'm keeping track...)
•tell us whether you'd like to win the book or the critique
•ask Helen a question
•if you're published (book/short stories), tell us about it in the comments
•tell us if you'd like to find a Crit Partner. If you have nominated to be in the CP pool, please fill out the questionnaire you have been sent and return pronto!
Thanks for coming everyone! Winners for this week will be posted at the next party Wednesday February 9. Don't forget you have until Monday February 8 at 8 pm NY time to enter for this week's prizes.
Next Wednesday February 9 we have the amazing storyteller Lisa Maliga, author of Notes from Nadir coming to our party to speak to us. Don't miss what she has to say!
Here are the links to the previous Publication Parties if you'd like to catch up!
Session One - Author Christine Bell
Session Two - Author Clarissa Draper
Session Three - Author Alex J Cavanaugh