Short Story News

KaPow1. The Bad News

I’ve not had much luck with my stories in the last couple of weeks.

For example, THREE rejections on one day from Woman’s Weekly, in what can only be described as an ‘email-of-doom’ and then, just as I was picking myself off the floor – WHAM! I was hit with another one a few days later…Aaaagh! (sorry, I’ve gone a bit ‘comic strip’! WHAM, BAM.. err… KA-POW!! There, got it out of my system).

Anyway, it seemed like quite a lot of work down the pan, at first but I’ll just have to rewrite them or tweak them and do something else with them, won’t I?

There’s a very inspiring guest post on Womagwriter’s blog here, along those lines, by Wendy Clarke, who’s a relatively new writer but who’s enjoying quite a lot of success.

It’s not because she’s a complete genius, (although of course, I’m sure she’s talented!). No, she is, by her own admission, working very hard, submitting lots of stories and not giving up or getting downhearted when the (plentiful) rejections come in. There’s a message there somewhere!

2. The Good News

But there is good news too.

Namely, (small drum roll), I am one of the 10 winners of the Mumsnet/Walkers Books Children’s Bedtime Story competition!

They had 350 entries so I’m very pleased to be ‘chosen’ and my story will be published in the book (and illustrated!) which is coming out in the Autumn. Exciting stuff!

What’s weird is, I really want to be a fiction writer/novelist and I’ve had the most success, so far, with poetry and children’s stories! Does anyone want to swap?

But I’m not complaining, of course. The £500 prize will come in very handy too. I’ll have to find out if I have to declare that to the tax man! Does anyone know? I’ve read conflicting reports. Some say, if it’s a competition and you haven’t paid to enter then no, it’s not taxable but other articles I’ve read say yes, if it’s skill-based and constitutes part of your ‘income’ then you have to declare it. Pah!

And finally, I am not the only ‘winner’ around here… Jacqui Cooper left a message to say she’d won the January Writers Bureau ‘first paragraph’ competition, ‘The Year the World Burned’.

Well done, Jacqui!

This is the fourth person who’s won a Writers Bureau correspondence writing course from this blog and/or my classes now! So I’m now expecting it to happen every month.

Don’t forget to get your entries in for their love poetry competition which ends on 28th Feb!

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25 Responses to Short Story News

  1. Glad to hear other people get rejections not only me. Two from take a break this week, and remember we only get those because we’ve submitted stories in the first place. Thing is,you get plenty of acceptances as well. Well done on the children’s stories. You’re a writer, I don’t think it matters of what does it? I’ve sent in my love poem.

  2. Fantastic news on the Mumsnet Competition, Helen!

  3. chloefb says:

    Congratulations on the Mumsnet story! That’s great.

    I’m not an expert so definitely don’t take my word for it, but my understanding has always been that you don’t have to declare competition winnings up to a certain (very large) amount – but it hadn’t occurred to me to check if skills competitions are different! I have to say I declare it anyway because I feel that if I spend my working hours writing, then I should treat money I get from that as income, but as I never earn enough from writing to pay tax anyway it’s a token gesture at the moment!

  4. Jenny Roman says:

    Congrats, Helen. And don’t worry about the rejections – they come with the territory – it’ll just be a blip. If it makes you feel any better, this week I’ve had the same story both accepted and rejected by the same magazine. Confused? You bet! 😉

  5. Susie says:

    Many congratulations on your win, Helen. I called HMRC a few weeks ago about prize money and you don’t have to pay tax on it.

  6. Wendy Clarke says:

    It’s me – the very talented (no) hardworking (yes) never downhearted (I was this week with five rejections) writer of the womagwriter guest post! Thanks for mentioning me Helen and brilliant news about your competition win.

  7. YAY! Congratulations, Helen! That’s brilliant 🙂

  8. KH says:

    Fantastic news, Helen – well done on your competition win!
    Re: rejections, I’ve had a bumper week too – six from TAB and one from WW. They’ve now all been tweaked and resubmitted elsewhere in the shrinking market. Good wishes KH

  9. If you like writing humorous children’s stories have you come across the Greenhouse Funny Prize competition? http://greenhouseliterary.com/index.php/site/funny_prize
    I’m sure you have as you’re my first source for all things competition based but I thought I’d mention it in case it had gone under your radar. Congrats on the Mumsnet comp. As a reader of children’s stories I am always VERY grateful for well written / funny ones instead of cheesy rhyming (good rhyming is fine) / moralistic / just plain awful stories. Particularly when they become the kids’ favourites! 😀

  10. Sara Kellow says:

    Congratulations on winning the Mumsnet competition! I’ll definitely be reading that book to my kids, over and over again, knowing them. (See how I’m trying to be lovely and magnanimous even though my story didn’t make it to the final 10, like I haven’t really been kicking the furniture and shouting “why, why?”)

    • Aw, Sara, I’m really sorry about your story. I did check the list of the final 10 to see if you were there and felt a pang for you when you weren’t. I’m sure you must have been really disappointed. BUT remember, that’s clearly a very good story – you got in the final 20 out of 350 entries, so you must try to do something else with it – enter if for another competition, turn it into a children’s book… there’s a competition here that Amanda has kindly pointed out. http://greenhouseliterary.com/index.php/site/funny_prize
      that might be of interest. Good luck – and thanks for your congrats.

      • Sara Kellow says:

        Thanks for thinking of me! Knowing that there were 350 entries has softened the blow somewhat. Also I have to admit that it was written and submitted with very little time to spare and I always regretted the boring title, so I think some tweaking is in order and then who knows…

  11. valhari says:

    At least you are sending work out Helen. I am still hesitating. Congratulations on winning Mumsnet competition!

  12. Philippa says:

    Wow, big congratulations to you Helen for the Mumsnet win!! How excellent to know your story will be illustrated, published and read aloud to many little future readers. So just sip the honey (the win) and throw away the poison (rejections). Congratulations to Jacqui too, love that first paragraph.

  13. Bernadette says:

    Many congratulations on the win, Helen.

    As far as tax goes, I think it’s worth speaking to your own tax-office to see what they say. Mine (after being passed from pillar to post) said it should be declared (unlike Susie’s!). These links might also help.
    http://www.christopherfielden.com/short-story-tips-and-writing-advice/are-writing-competition-prizes-taxable.php
    http://www.hmrc.gov.uk/manuals/bimmanual/BIM50710.htm

    It seems fair to me that they should be included (as long as you can claim entry fees as an expense) but if you can get your tax office to say differently, then at least they can’t come back at you with it!!

  14. Tracy Fells says:

    What bad news? I’m focusing on your FABULOUS good news. Being one of the top ten winners for this competition is fantastic Helen. CONGRATULATIONS! Particularly as lots of competition on this one too. Re tax declaration, I think it’s safer to declare all income and all expenses (and entry fees count as expenses) and let them work it out – sorry.

  15. Linda says:

    Being chosen as a prize winner by Michael Rosen? That surely cancels out a few other rejections! Well done!

  16. Lurker says:

    I’m going to win the rejections prize. I had 12 rejections from FF. 6 on Friday. 6 on Monday.

    I’ve thrown my laptop down the toilet.

    • Oh dear, Lurker (although you did make me laugh with your comment about the laptop), that’s not good but they do tend to have a ‘clear out’ every so often, don’t they, so all rejections come at the same time, which is a bit painful. 12 rejections though means you actually wrote and submitted 12 stories (more than some people write in a lifetime – even those who claim they want to be a writer), so you can still do something with those. Have a look at them, tweak them, lengthen/shorten/merge 2 into 1 and send them out again to a competition or another magazine. Do not give up!!

  17. cathos says:

    Congratulations to you Helen on the Mumsnet win – how fab – I bet it was incredibly competitive and also lovely to have it after the bad news! Well done to Jacqui too from a fellow Writer’s Bureaus winners via this blog! I must start cracking on with my prize a bit more!

  18. Helen Lowry says:

    Well done on the Mumsnet win – enjoy your prize money!

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