>A secret hero

>Last night before I went to bed I am certain there was a dead body in the yard. Not a mangled one, or the leftovers of one, but a poor little bird. I didn’t feel up to moving it last night, decided to do it this morning. But this morning, there it was gone.

It could have been my next door neighbour’s bloke that moved it, who knows I don’t really like disposing of such things and thinks it’s highly amusing that I chose to live in a semi-rural location when I dislike the life-and-death part of it so much. But his heart is in the right place. It could have been a tom cat that’s been hanging around for a couple of months that I sometimes feed that took it away. It could have been Holly, who has taken to taking dead bodies into either her own kennel (a cat kennel in the yard) or next door’s kennel (um, where an alsatian and a rottweiller live … brave cat) to play with them. Or it could have been something else.

Whichever, I seem to have a secret hero who answered my request yesterday.

Today it’s pouring with rain. I forgot that today was St Swithun’s day (thank you, Sue). That means it’s going to rain for the next 40 days … I don’t mind the rain at all, but I’ve noticed since moving to Yorkshire that when it starts to rain here, it does in fact forget to stop. Perhaps it will have rained itself out by 24 August.

This morning I’m at work again and already I’ve discussed an article by email and had a long phone conversation with the deputy editor/Smoggie snapper. At 11:30am I have someone coming to discuss a new poster campaign with me – I don’t just work on the magazine and newsletter you know. This afternoon I must finalise my magazine page plan and at least know who I’m emailing and what they’re providing. I think we’re also going to have a newsletter this time as we have plenty of local (UK) information. I still have a technical report to proof too.

Diary of an article submission
And so last week I came up with the spark of an idea for an article for a parenting magazine. The idea occurred when I was snooping on someone else’s Facebook status update. I fired off a query to the Facebook owner, and I think I have at least one mum and child and one dad and child to feature in a possible case study/multi interview/product review kind of thing. I’d like at least 2 more mums and offspring, but I can secure those if and when I get a commission.

The next thing I did was go and scan the parenting titles in our local WH Smiths. It must have been the wrong time of the month for baby magazines, though, as there was just a handful. I was able to discount most of them as they were either one-off specials or notorious as being purely staff-written (I wasn’t a markets correspondent for writers for 10 years for nothing). There weren’t any from IPC there, which is a shame as I know they do produce them. However, I did pick up 3 to take home and study.

Of the 3, another 1 has been discarded. I have a Bauer and an independent title, the 3rd was National Magazines, but a quick scan of the editorial masthead suggested that even if they were interested in ideas for features, they might not be very receptive. So I chose the 2 that made it clear they do welcome articles and ideas. If there’s another thing I’ve learned, it’s find the submission-friendly markets first.

I browsed the magazines first, looking at the style, type and length of existing articles and stories, then I read the features that looked to be quite meaty. I don’t need to scan the ads as I think I already know who reads the magazines, although it’s true that some of the ads will reveal how affluent or not the readers are. I’m not generally an ads person, though. I prefer to read the content and, if anything, the readers’ letters. (I mean, there’s the old standard that just because People’s Friend carries ads for stairlifts and incontinence pads, doesn’t necessarily follow that this is what the readers want to read about.) (Although I do have a short story idea that features a stairlift …)

I think I’m going to slant my query to suit the independent one first, because they may receive fewer submissions than the big boys. Some people think you should aim high and work your way down, and I often agree. But as I’ve never written for the parenting titles before, as I’m not a parent, and as I’ve had a few years off, I’m going to take what I hope will be the more receptive option.

So, next step – draft query. Keep everything crossed.