I've just returned from The Festival of Romance at Hunton Park in Hertfordshire - a get together with writers and readers of romance. That's Fenella, a fellow pocketeer and myself above at one of the sessions. In a country house setting with superb food, lively talks, coffee on tap and even a demonstration on how to make your own chocolate, what's not to like?! I thoroughly enjoyed it and can recommend it to anyone. Our very own pocketeer, Kate Allan in the second picture above, dreamt up the whole idea and turned it into reality. It was superbly organised including a website with chatrooms which got the whole thing buzzing before we even arrived.
I particularly liked the presentation by Helen Hunt on markets for short stories. She said that although many magazines such as The Lady had cut out their fiction slots, others like Woman's Weekly were increasing the output of their fiction specials. Writing short stories is an art, you have to encapsulate an idea, an episode, an emotion in as little as a thousand words. People have been doing it for centuries, check out Shakespeare's sonnets if you want to see how writers have always loved a challenge - only fourteen lines to convey life's big issues, love, jealousy, whatever. For the women's magazines, you get a few more lines and you don't have to be as accomplished as Shakespeare. But you do need to give the reader an emotional fix or make them think, 'I didn't see that coming'. If you're interested in having a go at short stories, take a look at http://womagwriter.blogspot.com/ where all the guidelines are regularly updated.
Loved the Festival Kate, and can't wait to book for the next one.