The R Word

not accepted

It’s been a mixed few days. Out of the pieces of work I have ‘out there’ at the moment, four pieces have returned unaccepted – yes I did just avoid the R-word. Not gonna use it either. It stings a little too much. Four pieces came home unaccepted in six days. Ouch.

The first was MOLP 4, which I wrote about on here last week. This wasn’t too much of a stinger. It was a contest that I paid a small fee to enter but I got to support an amazing charity and have a tree planted in Kenya. That made me smile and took the edge off.

The second was a quick submit to Writers Forum magazine mainly because I could pay extra for some feedback. The story had weaknesses but I wanted it confirmed that I was right about what they were. Well, I was. It’s a story where ‘nothing much happens’. However, I did get some lovely comments. Having had feedback from the same person before, I know I should take the good bits to heart as she doesn’t just throw them out there. ‘An easy to read writing style…clearly have lots of talent…I hope to see more of your work’. All positives. Right? *happy dance*.

The third was from Glimmer Train. I sent this off ages ago but wasn’t expecting it back for another few weeks. The magazine is run by two sisters who apparently read every submission they receive. The email they sent was personally addressed to me, named my story, said how much they’d enjoyed reading it but unfortunately weren’t going to accept it. I love that they took the time to send something personal. I’ve responded with a brief, polite thank you for their encouraging words. I’m sure their inbox is bursting at the seams but a short note can’t hurt, right? And I genuinely did appreciate it. They said they liked my story and hope to see more of my work. *another happy dance*

Fourth and last was The Strokestown International Prize for poetry. I was probably a little ambitious entering this one. I don’t write a lot of poetry just happen to have a few pieces lying around from ages ago. No form email or feedback from Strokestown, just a link to the shortlist, which I scanned whilst pretending not to have my heart in my mouth but ultimately my poem wasn’t on it.

So, it’s been a bit of a rollercoaster of ‘Yay, someone likes my writing’ and ‘Boo, they don’t want this piece’.

It feels a little like I’m almost there but not quite and nobody can seem to help with getting from Not Quite to actually There. It seems there are no definites of where ‘There’ actually is. Is it really that indefinable?

So, it’s time to pick myself up, keep writing, keep pulling apart what makes a great story, keep practicing my skills, keep learning new stuff.

And keep writing.

What about you? How were your early days of submitting? How do you handle work coming back? Were you first misses sent back with nice encouragement or form letters or just an acceptance deadline passed with nothing?

(And, in case you’re reading this, many thanks to the lovely friend who’s been on the receiving end of Rollercoaster Valley this week. You know who you are and you’re awesome.)




Magic Oxygen Contest 2018


Magic Oxygen Literary Prize – MOLP for short – released their poetry and short story shortlist #4 a couple of days ago. I had entered as a last minute thing, so being invited to log into Facebook Live to watch the shortlist announcement was pretty exciting stuff. I wasn’t on the list but it was still a funfilled few minutes viewing.

Magic Oxygen is a publishing house – and writing contest – with a difference. Your £5 entry fee and proceeds from the sale of the competition anthology supports the community in Bore, Kenya, including the building of a new classroom for Kundeni Primary school, and each entry buys a tree to be planted in the same area.

The idea is to build a ‘word forest’ and help the area recover from mass deforestation due to charcoal burning, settlement expansion and conversion of land to agriculture. At the last update, this legacy forest is now 11 times the size of Wembley Stadium and growing. Not only will it replenish life-giving trees, it offers the community in Bore a potential future income.

In the grander scheme of things, Bore is close to the equator, meaning that trees grow quickly which makes the area incredibly efficient at balancing CO2 and oxygen for the benefit of the whole planet.

MOLP #5 opens in October 2018 and I’ll definitely be entering again. Got a suitable poem or short story? Why not add it to your contest list and give it a go?

Love reading and want to support our environment?

I’m adding the anthologies to my ‘must read‘ list, knowing the proceeds are going to a good cause and I’ll get some interesting new lit to read. I use a lot of paper, I read a lot of books. It’s nice to know I’m doing something to contribute back and supporting an amazing community at the same time.






Today Is A Good Day To Write


The holidays are over and I spent most of it preparing my head for 2018. I think I’m doing okay. I have nine pieces of work out at various markets and contests and am putting them completely out of my head as I’m not likely to hear anything about any of them until end of February at the earliest and late May at the latest.

This means it’s time to get some new stuff down.

MsLexia is looking for themed work on ‘Weather’ by the beginning of March and I’m penning what’s turned into an historical piece for that. I haven’t had much luck with MsLexia in the past but I do think they’re not my ideal market. I don’t think my work fits the tone. Why write a piece specifically for their prompt? Because it gives me a deadline and some inspiration. If it doesn’t get anywhere with MsLexia there are plenty of other places to try later and at least it’s another finished piece to add to my files.

I also have an idea for a Sci-Fi short. Well. I have a character. I just need a story to go with her.

I have a third, more contemporary, idea, this time with character, plot and setting but I need to give it more thought before I wade in. It’s set in a culture I’m unfamiliar with so I need to world build and research more before I take off with it.

Holly Lisle has a freebie course on flash fiction which I’ve just started working through. So far there are three promising ideas coming out of that. Holly says minimum five but the other ideas I came up with didn’t really grab me so I will have to see how the course pans out. I do love her no-nonsense way of teaching and there’s always a lot of encouragement so she comes highly recommended by me.

Sadly, the Novel in Progress is still on the back burner.

Are you a one at a time WIP type or do you prefer to jump around multiple projects? Let me know in the comments 🙂