Monday, 21 February 2011

Macmillan Heroes and Heartbreakers submission guidelines welcomes submissions of original short romance stories in all subgenres (contemporary, paranormal/urban fantasy, women’s fiction/chick lit, historical, romantic suspense, etc).
We are not interested in “true confessions” or other non-fiction material. We are particularly interested in stories between 6,000 and 15,000 words, although exceptions may be made. Simultaneous submissions are allowed.

Original short stories acquired for this program are edited by both in-house editors and freelance editors who are experts in the romance genre.

We pay $1,000 against a 25% royalty. (The royalty enters the picture with respect to downloadable versions of the work.) Although we will consider edge cases, “original” means original—not previously published.

In your cover letter, please include the following:
  • The subgenre of your story
  • Confirmation that the story has not been previously published
  • If you are a published author, and if so, for whom you write
  • If your story is connected to a larger universe in which you already write
This is not required, but please feel free to include your Twitter and Facebook URLs in the cover letter.

Stories should use standard manuscript format (Our preference is 12 point, Times New Roman, double-spaced) and be emailed as Word or RTF. Please send it with a cover letter including the elements described above.

Submissions and questions about the acquisitions process should be emailed to

The Weekly News submission guidelines - February 2011

Weekly News Short Story Guidelines

The Weekly News has a largely older readership which is evenly split between the sexes, so we are looking for general interest tales — crime, humour (especially), ghost stories (although we’ve had plenty of these recently), or “coffee break” dramas which wouldn’t be out of place in any popular TV soap. At the moment we're also interested in stories with a bit more 'edge' that are slightly darker.

Although an old-fashioned love story may occasionally be appropriate, we're not looking for slushy romantic fiction, or anything twee. And although it’s a popular style, we don’t generally take chick-lit. Similarly, we don’t want anything too racy or gory. As The Weekly News is a family paper, we wouldn’t use anything with any sexual content.

Many stories we publish have an interesting twist to surprise the reader, as these seem to be popular. But if your twist is “it was all a dream” or “he/she/it was a ghost”, or the main character is actually a pet, it won’t get through!

  • Aim for something light-hearted, perhaps centred around family life or a recognisable situation.
  • If your main character is strong enough, you can have them carry the whole story.
  • A positive outcome is favoured, but this can be reached by a good bit of double-crossing, or the comeuppance of the baddie.
  • Be playful – have some fun with your characters at their expense i.e. in embarrassing social situations.
  • We also like sensitive stories that may involve a death, an illness, a fear, etc. If the situation doesn’t come across as too dark and depressing and has an uplifting end, then it may make it through.
Stories can vary in length from about 750 to 2,000 words at most, though we reserve the right to edit them as appropriate. Also, we rarely accept stories written in the first person or present tense.

Please note that, at present, we use three fiction items at each week and, even if an item is accepted, it could be some time before it is published.

We always have plenty of stories to read through, so it could be six to eight weeks before we can respond to submissions.

  • Use strong, identifiable characters – but remember they don’t always have to be likeable.
  • Use natural-sounding speech. We tend to avoid dialect as we like to be a bit geographically vague to add to the universality of the stories.
  • Check your historical facts fit your time-frame and characters.
  • Be thought-provoking if you want – be topical.
  • Read and check your punctuation and paragraphing. The easier your work is on the eye, the easier it is to make an informed decision.
  • Work within reality – this is fiction, but it does have to be believable.
  • Do include your email address, postal address and phone number on your story.
  • Full stories, please. We can’t get enough detail or feel for a piece from a pitch or synopsis.
  • No murdered spouses, dreams, ghosts or pet twists.
  • No first person or present-tense stories.
  • No relationship-centred stories.
  • No hard copy. Email is now our only method of delivery. Please send to  You'll receive an auto-reply from this address so you know we’ve definitely received your email.

Mummy, mummy, mummy

Woe is me. I’ve had a couple of rejection letters back from People’s Friend and Take a Break, and I now eagerly await my rejection letter from Woman’s Weekly, which I’m sure is just days away! Back to the drawing board – I need to conjure up another story or two from my flagging imagination and whisk them out into the world.

I had a peculiar yet productive weekend. Sunday was a day of conveyor belt pattern cutting for the crafty items I’m making. I have called my little sideline Hearts & Finds (because I like making heart-shaped things and I decorate them with stuff what I have found – see what I did there?!), and have set up a shopfront on – although it’s entirely empty at present. I shouldn’t be too long before I have some completed items to upload for sale.

And on Saturday Jak and I had a very useful meeting with Charlie, the young artist who’s helping us with our Irma Vep publicity and programme. He was splendidly enthusiastic and I am feeling most positive about the artwork aspect.

The other thing Jak and I did on Saturday, was start creating two sarcophaguses (or should that be sarcophagi?). Having made back boards out of 7’ tall sheets of cardboard, I wrapped myself liberally in chicken wire to create a shape and then lay on the cardboard whilst Jak staple-gunned the wire in place around me. For any drama-exercise enthusiasts out there, this is a much better trust game than falling backwards and hoping someone catches you.

So anyway, once we had built our ‘skeletons’ we set about papier-mâchéing them – slimy work and I got through several pairs of rubbery gloves. But even if I do say so myself, by the time we’d finished they looked pretty darned good. We’ll have to keep building them up over the next few weeks and eventually, once we’re happy with the shape, we’ll start on the painting. For the next few months Jak has to live with two enormous mummy coffins in her living room. I imagine she’ll enjoy the company, but I’m as certain as can be, she won’t share her KitKats. 

The middle

The beginning

The slime

Monday, 7 February 2011


My life feels full to bursting at the minute. In an ideal world I would be able to organise my days in neat little lists, lots of straight lines and lashings of order. But it never seems to work out that way. I currently have several little nibbly bits going on that I can’t pin down in my brain, but still, better full than empty, better busy than bored.

Nibbly bit No.1: I have a new client. This is quite exciting as I have been gradually doing more and more hours for a local newspaper and, although this is great because it’s relatively guaranteed income and has become my financial bread and butter, I had recently started to feel like all my freelance eggs were nestling in just the one basket. So this new client is a glossy local magazine and I’m writing their property page for the next couple of issues. That’s why it’s nibbly. It’s not certain that after these two articles that I will get any more work from them. I hope I will, but you never know.

Nibbly bit No.2: I finally seem to be getting my writing mojo back – about flipping time! I hesitate to use the word ‘rattle’ as it sounds hasty and rough around the edges, but last week I did indeed ‘rattle’ off a short story as I surfed on a rocking wave of inspiration. I posted it on one of the writers’ forums I’m on and received great feedback. So I tidied it up based on everyone’s critiques and this afternoon will be sending it out to Take a Break to see if they’ll take if for Fiction Feast. I also have two other stories that I sent out last year that were rejected (leaving me not defeated but momentarily deflated), so I’m also posting those out to Woman’s Weekly and People’s Friend. So this is nibbly because nothing’s guaranteed and I have to sit on my hands and wait to hear from others. No control.

Nibbly bit No.3: I have joined a choir. Oh yes, because writing and theatre just isn’t enough for me, I’ve become a member of Rock Choir. It’s great fun, although there is an awful lot of ‘dancing’ – you know the thing, gospel swaying and clapping, and a little bit of salsa stepping thrown in for good measure. Thing is, I have two left feet. Try as I might, there is a connection missing between my brain and my feet, so any kind of dance movement invariably ends in me treading on a neighbour’s toe or simply falling over. But I’m prepared to stick it out because the singing is fab and the people are nice and the choir master is a talented loon, which I appreciate immensely, and in May we’re going to be singing at Wembley. Oh yes. But this is nibbly because at some point I’m probably going to have to stop choir so I can concentrate on Irma Vep rehearsals, but I don’t know for definite and I don’t know precisely when, and I don’t think I really want to.

Nibbly bit No.4: Speaking of Irma Vep, things are now truly underway. We have enlisted our costume maker and will be accompanying her at some point to a fabric warehouse in London – muchos funos. I have, I hope, also enlisted the talents of a young artist to design the artwork for posters and programmes, but we haven’t had full discussions yet. Jak and I have started making a list of set dressing and flats we need to order, and know a handy man with a handy brush ready to paint them and make them look glorious. And we have found a wig big enough for a man’s head – it’s not the right colour or style, but it’s progress. But this is all nibbly because auditions aren’t until May so we can’t firm up many of the things we want to firm up – actors, for example.

Nibbly bit No.5: Jak and I went to the 2012 planning meeting for the theatre a week or so ago. This is just all-round NIBBLY because we put forward six plays we wouldn’t mind directing, but we haven’t read any of them yet, and we haven’t even started rehearsals for 2011 yet, and it’s just really difficult to think ahead to next year when this one’s only just started.

Nibbly bit No.6: You may recall that last year Jak and I had a little sewing lesson, in order to know how to use a machine so we can fix costume boo-boos during Irma Vep rehearsals. Well, the other day I had another sewing lesson and learned how to make cushion covers, so now I have many cushion covers. And this got me thinking about making things to sell for a little bit of extra income, and so I spent the weekend making heart-shaped lavender bags, which are looking pretty good even if I do say so myself. But this is nibbly because I can’t decide where to sell them. There’s a website I found that I can set up a little shop on, and I could try to see if the lady who owns the gift shop I work in on Tuesdays would take a few, and if she did then I could see if other shops might take them, and I could also maybe get a stall at craft fairs. But I don’t know yet, and I need reassurance from someone in the world that they’re good enough to sell anyway. Nibbly, nibbly, nibbly.

So there you have it, my nibbly life. If anyone has any tips on how to un-nibbly it, I’d be more than happy to hear from you.

Also, on a little extra positive note - Darker Shores swept the board winning various awards at the theatre's end of year 'awards', including best set and best technical - I'm sure it won other things too but I can't remember exactly what, it did remarkably well anyway. And I won best actress for my role in Skylight! How thrilling is that?! So, all's well that ends well.