Sunday, 10 January 2010

Next Christmas?! - and serial possibilities

OK, so Christmas was over much too quickly for my liking but it surely is over now - isn't it?
The tree's been taken outside, the decorations have been taken down, and we've even found the usual remaining bauble hidden under a chair and the red-nosed-reindeer that I forgot was sitting on the windowsill in my study. We've swept up pine needles for the second time and finished the last piece of Christmas cake. It's over.

So imagine my surprise when I had an e-mail from one of my favourite magazine editors the other day, offering to buy the Christmas story I'd sent her in August! I'd assumed by now that they didn't want it, and I'd planned to submit it elsewhere during the summer. I guess they're keeping it for next Christmas! I know they like to plan ahead, but this is amazing, and makes me think that maybe we need to submit Christmas/winter stories even earlier in the year in future!

So that's two short story sales since Christmas - a lovely start to the new writing year. I've now written about 15,000 words of the first draft of my new novel, (regardless of whether or not it ever sees the light of day), and have also been approached about writing a serial.

Hmm. Hands up if you write serials? I've tried before, but I must admit I gave up ... I found the length very awkward - to say nothing of needing cliff-hangers at the end of each part. I guess I just need more practice. I'm so comfortable writing 2000 word stories, and 100,000 word novels - I 'feel' my way through those lengths of story almost instinctively now. But now I've got the opportunity to try a serial again, I've got the urge to rise to the challenge. It won't be easy, and it'll certainly get in the way of getting on with the novel ... but after all, I'm fortunate to have no real restraints on my time any more. Should I give it a go? Any tips from successful serial writers out there?

Well, the weather is giving me the perfect excuse to stay indoors and write. Warm and snug, with my cat purring away on my lap and a nice hot cuppa on the desk ... I'm SO grateful I don't go out to work any more. Like Christmas, it was good at the time, but it's over now! Good luck with all your writing and may all your snow be melting soon!


  1. I'm grateful I don't go 'out' to work as well, Olivia! Mind you I've just taken on a part-time lunchtime supervisor job at my daughter's school - hey ho! But it's only a few hours a week so I think I can cope with that! So glad that I can walk to it though - wouldn't like to drive in this weather.

    Well done on the Christmas story sale! Blimey - getting in early for next year. And well done on the 15000 words of your next novel. I'm sure you'll do a grand series too, Olivia - best of luck with that too.

    Julie xx

  2. Thanks Julie! And yes, congrats on your new job, I think you'll enjoy it and it'll fit in so well around your writing and your daughter. So nice to be able to walk to work, too! We're very fortunate. It isn't long since I was getting up early to de-ice my car, on mornings like these, before driving a horrible journey to work. Hopefully never again. x

  3. I have what I still think is a lovely Christmas story that I wrote last February and submitted in June to WW and People's Friend. It was turned down by both and I don't think there are any other markets for it. The story is just the kind I'd like to read myself, with snow and a carol service and a sherry party at the vicarage, but slightly sent up, and I like to think it has a nice message as well. I've notice WW Christmas fiction over the last few years tends to be more about homeless shelters and the like though. Maybe my stories are too middle class. Might email it to my son and daughter-in-law next Christmas.

    Congratulations though, Olivia! Good luck with the serial. They must be fun to do, once you've got into the rhythm. In the tradition of Charles Dickens too!

  4. Congrats on the story sales, and good luck with the serials!

  5. Congrats on story sales. I've written a couple of shorter serials (10000w ish) but never attempted the PF 12 parter plus type- they seem so involved and detailed. Actually a novelist like you would be great at those: they're more like a novel anyway. Good luck with it and great that they approached you!You're having a great start to the year! - still trying to get myself in proper shape!

  6. Thanks, all - I really appreciate your support and it's nice to know you have more confidence in me (re the serial) than I do in myself!!

    Sorry to hear your Christmas story was rejected, Kath. I'd have thought it was right up PF's street, from the sound of it. I had a (different) one rejected earlier last year too - and like you, it was one I was personally quite pleased with, but I got it back too late to try elsewhere. Trouble is, these days, it doesn't take long to exhaust the possible markets for any story, does it - there are sadly so few left. x

  7. I've never attempted a serial Olivia, but good luck with it (lovely to be approached!) and well done on the sales :o)

    TaB have still got a Christmassy one of mine, which I assume will be winging it's way back any day!

  8. The potential markets do seem to be shrinking, but TAB is till elusive for me, so if anyone has the magic formulae, do please tell! You targeted the two main markets there, Kath -I think MW is mainly commissioning Christmas fiction now and seems to be moving towards "names". Maybe you should try introducing some sunshine and trying the Australian market?!! x
    Best of luck with serial, Olivia. I look forward to reading it! x

  9. well done on the commission for a serial.
    I write short ones that are character driven so the reader thinks they know what to expect and then WHAMO! Then I lull them again and BAM right out of left field, which leaves the reader wondering what the hell will the character do next because they are under the assumption they knew the person intimately.

  10. Thanks Karen - and you never know, your Christmas story might NOT bounce back - maybe there's a new trend for hanging onto them for a year!

    Lydia, I'm the same as you - can't get a foot in the door of TAB, no matter how I try. I think it's the only one of the 'main' UK magazine markets now that I haven't had at least ONE story in! Wonder what we're doing wrong!

    Thanks Kerry but it's NOT a commission, as the editor pointed out - just an invitation to give it a try. So there's no guarantee it'll be successful. But I must say, she's being really supportive so far. I'm writing the first part and enjoying it, but not holding my breath!

  11. I bet you'll write a terrific serial, Olivia. And that's brilliant news on the Christmas story sale x

  12. Thanks Teresa. It remains to be seen (about the serial) - I feel a bit like a new girl, in the wrong class, doing an assignment she hasn't been trained for! But I'm in the mood for a challenge. I'll let you know ...