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Sunday, 19 October 2014

Almost there?

It has been a slightly more productive week on the writing front, thank goodness. I skived off for lunch out with some ex-teaching colleagues on Wednesday, had to have a filling at the dentist on Tuesday and did some manic kitchen cleaning on Thursday in preparation for my aunt's visit in a week's time.

I started a new story with Woman's Weekly in mind, tweaked another one and entered it in The Word Hut Competition. I was also shortlisted in last week's Write Invite, but the results still aren't out, so I'm still crossing my fingers for a win (the story was inspired by the funeral I attended last Friday). Yesterday I did Write Invite again and I'm quite pleased with the story, which is a bit womaggy and so another potential submission.

Since I started regularly submitting to the womags again in early September, the first rejection has come in. It was from Alison Cook at The People's Friend. This is one market I haven't yet managed to crack. Alison emailed me to say:

Many thanks for sending us your short story “The Blacksmith’s Apprentice.” We are always pleased to receive new submissions for consideration and although this isn’t one for us, we feel that your writing shows a great deal of promise and I’d like to explain more about this story and why it didn’t quite make the grade.

The storyline is pleasant but it’s too predictable. Also, the style of writing makes it a story which lacks warmth and emotion. The reader needs to feel involvement in the characters’ emotions throughout – they are merely told the story from a rather distant viewpoint.

I’m sorry that this isn’t one for us, Jo, but we would very much like to encourage you to send us fiction, period and modern, in the near future and would be delighted to hear from you again.

'Lacks warmth and emotion' hurt a little, but I am renowned for my gritty, edgy style of writing, which does well in competitions, but obviously isn't for the womags. I thought I'd injected a fair bit of emotion and warmth, but obviously not enough. I didn't think the viewpoint was distant, but I must look at the story again to check. As for predictable..... yes, well.....  I'm very encouraged by this rejection and have been re-reading my recent copies of The People's Friend in an attempt to get into their mindset. I want to fire one back out to them this week, if I can.

I should maybe change my usual reading matter for a while, if I'm going to channel The People's Friend readers. I'm currently reading Long Way Home, a crime novel by Eva Dolan, whom I was lucky enough to meet and chat to at the Theakston's Old Peculier Crime Writing Festival in Harrogate this year. The novel sees DI Zigic and DS Ferreira called in to investigate a hate crime in the Peterborough area. The victim is a migrant worker, and both a far-right arsonist and a slum landlord soon come into the mix as suspects. Do you see what I mean? Hardly The People's Friend! I shall choose my next book very carefully.


  1. With Pf you can guarantee the most lovely rejections - it takes away an awful lot of the disappointment, doesn't it. It's encouraging that they like your writing though and I agree that reading in the genre you are wanting to write in yourself helps.

  2. I've had rejections for two stories sent to PF and received basic letters - one saying the story was too downbeat (I thought it was positive!) and the other didn't give a reason, so I think it is highly encouraging to get such feedback. Keep going!