Watling Street Writers

Wednesday, December 22

A Good Year

It has been a good year for the Watling Steet Writers. Competiiton success and a lot of output reviewed at our weekly meeings meant for a very positive first year for the group.

Added to that the visits of guest speakers and our links with other groups such as Tring have given us some good momentum.

After a lovely Christmas meal last week at the Black Lion it is now time to take a break for a couple of weeks and re-charge the creative batteries over the hoiday period.

The next meeting is on Thursday the 6th January and for those of you wishing to take part we are encouraging you to write anything on the subject "New Beginnings".

The location for the meeting on the 6th is the White Hart Hotel but please watch this space for updates.

Happy Holidays and Merry Christmas all!!

Monday, December 6

Story Slammin on the 9th December

Back after our frosty interlude of last week..

This week's meting will be held at the Friends' House in St Albans.

Rather than the ususal workshop we willl be holding a story slamming session...bring along a short story to read out that is approximately 3 minutes long (aim for 500-600 words).

The rest of the writers group/audience will vote on each entry and the winners will receive prizes....yes, prizes!

Hope to see you there!

Wednesday, November 24

Meeting on the 15th November - Open Mike at the Goat

Remember this Thursday we will be attending the Open Mike session at the Goat as one of the National Short Story week events.

Each slot is a 3 minute (800 word) slot so there should be plenty of variety.

The website recommends to get there for 7.00 p.m if you want a seat as the event starts at 7.30 p.m.

Alternatively just come a long to show your support, enjoy other poeple's stories and have a beer!

Wednesday, November 17

Meeting 17th November

The meeting this week is in the White Hart Hotel and is a normal manuscript review meeting.

Start time 7.30 pm.

So brave the cold and hope to see you there!

Friday, November 12

Meeting 10th November - Thanks to Tring Writers Circle

Thanks to Tring Writers for hosting us Wating Street crowd and organising for the writing talk by Dave Smith.

Dave provided insights on article writing for magazines and newspapers as well as anecdotes from his time as a stand up comedian.

Much of Dave's advice such as the 'rule of 3', his ideas on revising work and 'finding your voice' are appropriate to fiction writing as well as his style of humourous articles.

Thanks again to all involved!

Monday, November 8

Comedy Workshop 10th November

Just a little note to remind you that this week we don't have a thursday meeting as we have a road trip to Tring for a comedy workshop on Wednesday 10th.

Remember if you need a lift to tring to email Paul or Tracey before Wednseday.

If you don't need a lift the location is the Red Cross Hall in Tring and the talk/workshop starts
at 7.30 p.m.

Hope to see you there!

Tuesday, November 2

Get Writing 2011 - One Day Conference

The Verulam Writers Circle are once again putting on their one day conference in Hatfield, Hertfordshire.

It is on Saturday 19th February 2011 and has speakers, workshops, editor/agent pitches.

£55 gets you the whole day and by all accounts last year's conference was well received and very popular.

Follow the above link to see more details and booking information. (You can pay after booking or immediately using PayPal.)

Sunday, October 31

Shortlisted for Circalit Competition

Lara has been shortlisted for her story The Real Me in the Broken Identities competition on Circalit.

You have to register with the website to view it but that will also mean you can upload your own work to the website should you so wish.

Lara's entry was shortlisted out of over 200 entries for which the standard was described as 'extremly high' by the judges - so congratulations to Lara for being adding to our growing list of success stories!

Tuesday, October 19

Fiction Markets

Hi there - I stumbled upon this resource today and found it hard not to spend too much time delving through the vast amount of data in it.

In any case if you are looking for a fiction market then this website provides daily updated lists of many markets and details them by how much they pay, how fast they respond, whether they respond personally etc.

Looks like a productive way to spend your lunch hour and could be helpful if you have that one piece of fiction you have yet to find a home for...!

Anyway..check out Doutrope's Digest and get submitting!

Friday, October 15

Next Meeting 21st October 2010

Thanks to Austin and Rosemary for hosting us last night. A very enjoyable evening, being plied with food and drink definately helps the manuscript reading process!

Next week as we are still homeless from the White Hart Hotel, we will be back at theBlack Lion in Fishpool street. It will be a normal manuscript evening.

For those of you interested some themed work we are looking to read out suitably spooky manuscripts on the 28th October so you have a fortnight to work on anything ghostly/horror related. You may find some inspiration here, home of spooky urban myths.

See you soon,


Tuesday, October 12

Next Meeting 14th October

Once again we are on the move, having gone back to our origins at the Black Lion, this week we will be at the Guest's. (Please email us for details if you need their address.)

It is a normal manuscript review meeting so please feel free to bring along any finished work or work in progress.

Going forward you should be able to find us by using the programme page above - it lists where we are planning to be, week by week.

Hope to see you soon!

Friday, October 8

Not one winner but two!!

In Watling Street Writers' continued efforts for global competition domination I am delighted to announce that both Kat and Austin were winners of the Milton Keynes Romance Competition.

Kat won first prize for her short story Twenty Million Trees.
Austin won third prize for his story Making Things Happen.

Follow the link above to see Kat's winning entry.

Kat's win can also be seen in the local news.

Congratulations once again to you both!!

Thursday, October 7

Meeting on the 7th October

Apologies for the late posting on this one but we have a different location for tonight.

We will be abck in the Black Lion, St Albans from 7-7:30.

(We will be the people reading out in hushed tones so as not to spook the diners around us.)

Hope to see you there!

Wednesday, September 29

Meeting on the 30th September

All - as we are unable to use the White Hart this week we thought we would have a little outing instead.

Therefore rather than do a normal manuscript evening we will be meeting at the normal time (7.30 pm) outsiode the Alban Arena to visit the annual St Albans beer festival.

You can either treat it as a social outing or an opportinity to flex your creative muscle by finding new ways to describe the colour, taste and smell of the different drinks on offer!

Hope to see you there!!

If you were looking to bring work along to the manuscript evening to be reviewed then please take the opportunity to upload your work to the members area (link above) and receive some online comments.

Saturday, September 25

Meeting on the 23rd September

By all accounts the meeting on Thursday was small...but perfectly formed!

Next week we will be meeting at a different venue as the White Hart is booked. Watch this space for an update..

Wednesday, September 22

Next Meeting 23rd September 2010

Will be meeting tomorrow night at the White Hart Hotel, St Albans from 7.30 or a little earlier if you want!

A normal manuscript evening so please bring along anything you want to read out.

Nano, micro, flash fiction to poetry short stories or plot outlines. We will happily feedback on all!

Saturday, September 18

Paying Short Story Markets

I was planning to compile a big list of paying markets for Sci-Fi/Fantasy/Horror short stories and discovered these lists already available on the net. Surely one of them will want my story about the taxidermist who wears his neighbour's skin as a suit. No...?

Some of these lists are a bit out of date and not all the links work, but they're a good place to start.

Short story markets in general: http://www.jbwb.co.uk/markets.html

Sci-Fi markets: http://scifi.fictionfactor.com/markets.html

Fantasy: http://fantasy.fictionfactor.com/markets.html

Horror: http://horror.fictionfactor.com/fiction.html

Erotica: http://erotica.fictionfactor.com/markets.html

Mystery/Thriller, Mainstream/Literary, Humor, Romance and Erotica Markets: http://www.fictionfactor.com/fiction1.html

Friday, September 17

Competitions Closing Soon

Looking for inspiration or something to focus your energies on over the next few weeks?

Here are a selection of some competitions closing over the next 6 weeks or so. Nothing like a looming deadline to get you motivated!

Writing Magazine September Issue: Closing Date 15th October. Note is a postal submission rather than email/online. Short Fiction 1500-1700 words. Prizes: £200, £50. £4 Entry or £3 for subscribers.
....develop an interesting short story which begins with the line: ‘We’ve been here before,’ said a voice Mary was sure she recognised.

Flashstories.net Quarterly Flash Fiction Competition. Closing Date 31st October. Entries are online or by post and need to be no longer than 500 words. Prize: £500. £5 entry. Note that the judge is the editor of Dark Tales so stories may have to a little more speculative than not..

Leaf Books Teeny Weeny Writing and Drawing Competition. Closing Date 31st October...
EITHER writing that is no longer than 140 characters, which includes letters, spaces and punctuation, (not the title but don't make that more than 30 characters) OR a piece of black and white art no bigger than half a post card. Obviously you can send both, but as separate entries. Prize: £75. £2 Entry.

Blow My Own Trumpet

Well done to me for achieving a small step on the way to world publishing domination..

I managed to get picked for the August selection of the Dirty Dozen, a micro fiction competition run by the Vestal Review.

To enjoy more innuendo or to view my entry follow the links above.

Monday, September 13

Next Meeting 16th September 2010

Hi All - this week we will be again meeting in the White Hart Hotel, Holywell Hill, St Albans.

It is a regular manuscript/ideas review meeting.

We will be in a room above the bar (go through the door marked 'Toilets' and up to the Residents' Bar).

The meeting starts at 7.30 p.m.

Look forward to seeing you there!

Friday, September 10

Stuck with your plot?

Stumbled upon this site whilst in the midst of a huge writing avoidance excercise.

You have to love the magic of the interweb - a struggling writer in St Albans can watch a plot guru in California and get some much needed inspiration to keep going.

Its fun - the plot whisperer gives some bite size advice on plotting - with useful examples from classical and contemporary stories.


Plot Whisperer Video Tutorials

Monday, September 6

Emotion and Scene-Setting Thesaurus

Interesting web site with lots of ideas on how to convey emotion in a non-telling way, plus some good scene-setting descriptions.

thebookshelfmuse - showing anger

Scroll down and check out the lists on the right of the page to find more examples.

Friday, September 3

Next Meeting 9th September 2010

Thanks to those who turned up last night and brought work along to read out.

Next week we have a change of venue - just to keep you on your toes!

We will be at the White Hart Hotel, St Albans from 7.30.

We will be in a room upstairs from the main bar.

Look forward to seeing you there and trying out a new venue!

Wednesday, September 1

Next Meeting 2nd September 2010

Apologies for the late posting!

Good to see so many at the Duke of Marlborough last week. Some good debate around the Watling Street Writers future logo and discussion on several ongoing projects.

We will be there again on the 2nd September so if you are in or around St Albans we hope to see you there.

Tuesday, August 24

A short and saucy competition

Just browsing Kat's list of flash fiction competitions and conscious that we have not set a theme for the Watling Street Writers weekly meeting homework for a week or so....

This leads me to a suggestion for this week/next week.

The Dirty Dozen is a 12 word micro fiction contest run by the online flash fiction magazine Vestal Review.

Entries need to be "somewhat risqué, but not X-rated."

The competition rules for entry can be found here along with some examples of previous winners.
Note that you will be directed to their submission manager to upload.

Prizes aren't huge but it could be a bit of fun!

Friday, August 20

Meeting 19th August

Hi all

We had a good meeting last night. Thanks to those who prepared something for us to discuss.

It was great to see Phil again last night and hope that he will be able to attend on more regular basis.

Next week meeting at the usual place (Duke of Marlborough) between 7 -7.30pm.

Hope to see as many of you as possible (with something to read out)



Wednesday, August 18

Competition - Win £20K!

Noticed this Monopoly competition on the prize magic website. It's not strictly a writing competition but you do have to wite a bit of fantasy in 75 words (I.e what you would do with the money if you won it) .

Visitors to the web site vote on your ideas for spending the money and the most popular get shortlisted...

Have a look and think about what you would do with all that money...!

Competition closes on 3rd September 2010.

Monday, August 16

Next Meeting 19th August 2010

Its been a quiet couple of weeks at the Watling Street Writers with members allowing their creative juices to stew whilst taking time out to move, have holidays and do the other important things in life.

However the weekly meetings continue and the next one is on Thursday 19th August at the Duke of Marlborough pub. It will be a regular manuscript/ideas/news catch-up meeting so look forward to seeing you all there!

Thursday, August 5

Genomics Poetry Comp

Genomics poetry competition

Looking for a poem of no more than 50 lines on the theme of ‘improving the human’.

First prize is £500, 2nd is £200 and 3rd is £100.

Entry is free.

The deadline for entries is 7 October 2010 (National Poetry Day)

Tuesday, August 3

Congratulations to Matt - txtlit competition

Congratulations to member-in-spirit Matthew King on being shortlisted for the June txtlit competition!

On the theme 'The Mistake', Matt's entry was:
Found at the coast, these undulating banks of wind-blown sand are often topped with wispy clumps of tall grass. This is the Dune competition, right?

From the Txt Lite web site:
Txt Lit is a new literary genre of creative writing using a mobile phone texting system, or SMS (Short Message System). A single mobile phone text message contains just 160 characters, including spaces and punctuation. We like to call stories written within these parameters Micro Stories.

Prize for winning is £50.

Monday, August 2

Flash Fiction Markets

Flash fiction is usually defined as stories of less than 1,000 words but is sometimes capped at as little as 150 words. Despite their brevity, these stories follow the usual fiction rules in that they have a plot rather than being vignettes or interesting observations. Below are some competitions and web sites that publish flash fiction. I've tried to focus on those which pay for stories.

1000 words or fewer
All genres
$3 token payment

1000 words or fewer
They don't appreciate romance stories, nor work with excessive gore or violence, "goth" vampire tales, hard-core science fiction, rhyming poetry, or works of a religious nature.
$5-25 payment
Submissions are quarterly

500-1000 words
Any genre
$50 payment

Up to 500 words
Stories up to 100 words (excluding the title)--10 cents a word.
Stories between 101 and 200 words--5 cents a word.
Stories between 201 and 500 words--3 cents a word.
Their reading periods are:
1. February-May
2. August-November

Up to 150 words
Subject for stories varies, check web site
£20 payment
Print magazine for women, women only submissions

Under 1000 words
Special Sci-Fi, Horror and Fantasy issue
Closes Aug 31st
Feedback with their rejection letters
£25 payment

Up to 1000 words

Up to 1000 words
Literary fiction

250-750 words
400 - 500 entries. 90 - 95% of those entries of an extremely high standard
£1000 first prize
Competition closes 14th September
£9 entry

Up to 500 words
£250 first prize
£5 entry
Closing dates of 31st March, 30th June, 30th September and 31st December.

300 words or less
£1000 prize
£14 entry
Close March 20th 2011

Saturday, July 31

Congratulations to shortlisted members

We're going to be published the success stories from WSW members on this web site. So far, we've had a couple of people shortlisted in competitions and will soon be announcing our first published member.

Belated congratulations to Paul who was shortlisted by Writing Magazine for his Sherlock Holmes story and to Austin, who was shortlisted by Writers' Forum.

Check back here for more success stories soon to be making their way onto the shelves in WHSmiths...


I am new to writing. I decided last year to to take up a hobby and decided to join the creative writing class held at Oaklands College in St Albans. I found I really enjoyed the writing process and was surprised at the positive feedback I received. From the writing course the watling Street Writers emerged and I am currently secretary (posh term for the one that sends out all the e mails!). I concentrate on short stories at present as I continue my writing learning curve and feel that I have yet to discover my writing genre. I now have the distinction of being rejected by both the magazines I've sent work to.

Friday, July 30

Next Meeting 5th August 2010

Thanks so much to Helen for hosting last night's manuscript evening at her home. Excellent food, drink and company made for a memorable eveninhg.

Next week the group will return to the Duke of Marlborough for a normal manuscript evening. Catch us in the usual place, in the function room through the back of the patio.

Friday, July 23

Writing Workshop - 22nd July 2010

The Watling Street Writers first worskhop was a great success. Thanks go out to our first guest, Sue Moorcroft, for helping us to improve our characterisation and interview our alter egos!

It was also great to meet the members of the Tring Writers' Circle who also travelled over to St Albans on a very rainy night to take part in the event.

We are looking forward to future joint ventures with Tring and also having Sue back for another workshop later in the year.

Thanks to all who helped organise the event, setup the room and manage refreshments (especially those who baked!)

Tuesday, July 20

I Write Like...

Copy and paste a chunk of your writing into this site and it will let you know what famous author you most closely resemble in style.

An attempt to trick the site with a published novel extract came back with the result that Stephen King writes like...Stephen King. I actually think this web site might just be smarter than your average human.

So I got pasting my own books and am pleased that one story was most similar to Margaret Atwood, who just so happens to be my favourite author. Although a tweet by Margaret Atwood revealed the site thinks she writes like Stephen King. So does that mean I write more like Margaret Atwood than Margaret Atwood? Also got one which was like Ray Bradbury and another Ursula Le Guin. Yes, I do have too much time on my hands.

Monday, July 19


Co-chair of the group, Gemma is working on a dark SciFi-style novel as well as short stories in a variety of genres. She likes to dabble in poetry from time to time. Living outside St Albans, Gemma rarely gets to drink at group gatherings, much to her disdain.

Friday, July 16

Next Meeting 29th July 2010

Morning all
Hope everyone is well. Good to see so many last night and to welcome back an old face who has been away.
Please remember that there is NO cricle meeting next week (22nd July 2010) It is the characterisation workshop at the Friends House in Upper latimore Road.
We will be sending out a separate e mail with details of entry etc but we would ask that you try and arrive bewteen 7pm and 7.20pm. The workshop is due to start at 7.30 and there is setting up to do first.
There will be tea and coffee available. If anyone feels like baking and bringing something along please do so (approx 21 people).
By the way for those who haven't yet done so, please try and update your bio's on the website.
See you all next week

Friday, July 9

Next Meeting 15th July 2010

Morning all
Just a few things to mention this week.
Starting with the homework, could everyone please come on to to the website and put in some details about yourself, ie interests, what kind of thing you write or read, just a bit of a bio. if you've had anything published, about to be published, shortlisted etc please include this.
If you're not sure how to access the website please contact Kat who will provide the link.
Secondly, if you or anyone you know has any artistic leanings and would like to have a go at creating a logo for the group please do so. Obviously it would need to incorporate the letters WSW.
Happy writing and hopefully see you all next Thursday

Thursday, July 8


Joint Treasurer, i.e. gets to use Excel as well as Word. Distrustful of calculators. Can still do times tables and long division. Still possesses a slide rule but has forgotten how to use much of it. Hobbies include operating ATMs and ordering from Amazon.


Joint treasurer and former Oaklands College Creative Writing student. Originally from the North West, Lara moved to St Albans in 2006 after 9 years in London. Genres of interest include modern fiction, travel, drama and romance.

Monday, July 5


Currently co-chair of the group and both surprised and a bit nervous about that much responsibility, Paul is a St Albans based father of three who constantly strives to find the time to write. When he does he works on his current children's fantasy novel or competitions in any genre.

Monday, April 19

Little used english

A website that has some interesting words to fit into your latest masterwork. Little used english words which could be useful if you are writing historical fiction or have a character that is overly verbose.


Hope it is idoneous and helps promote some badinage.


Saturday, April 3

Next Meeting 8th April

The subject of children in the crime genre was picked for those who wish to have a go. Word count up to 1000 words (approx).

Friday, March 26


Something I have used in the past to help with plotting and research for a novel is mind-mapping.

This enables you to easily pull data and ideas together with notes, references and even URLs to further research areas.

Plot outlines, characters, locations can all be held together in one place - even scene synopsis.

I use Mindjet at work but there is a free version I am currently playing with (Freemind)

Here is a link:


Hope it is of some use and may help with plotting!

Thursday, March 25

Next Meeting 1st April

The next meeting is Thurs 1st April and the theme for the short story is 'April Fool' in any genre.

Saturday, March 20

Next Meeting Thurs 25th March

Our next meeting will be Thursday 25th March at 7 p.m. in the Black Lion. Please bring along something to read and, if you're stuck for inspiration, the short story theme is 'a daily routine' to be written in 2nd person! Around 800 words.

New Web Site

Welcome to the brand new Watling Street Writers web site! Questions about the site should be addressed to Kat via kat(at)ilovebacteria.com. Queries about the writing group to Gemma: watlingstreetwriters(at)gmail.com


Kat is an occassional visitor/ex-member and generally writes steampunk short stories and novels, often involving talking birds. By day, she's a research scientist who'd love to model herself on Dr Frankenstein if that sort of thing wasn't frowned upon.

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