Behind The Scenes: SAW Conference 2018


I’m currently ploughing my way through a batch of short story competition entries for the Scottish Association of Writers, who hold an annual conference each year in March.

This is the second time the SAW Conference have asked me to adjudicate the Women’s Short Story Competition for the Margaret McConnell Trophy. Last time the competition received 70+ entries, which was a terrific response – though a LOT of reading!

Highly Commended

This year the competition secretary emailed to tell me that the entries were in the post to me, in two packages. Two parcels? It sounded like even more reading than last time!

In fact, I’ve received 52 stories, all between 1500 and 2000 words, all directed at the women’s magazine market.  I have to choose a 1st, 2nd and 3rd, a Highly Commended and a Commended, and that’s the worst part – choosing winners out of such a terrific selection. How do I make the decision between second and third? It requires careful consideration.

It’s a fine dilemma to have though, and I’m enjoying the reading. Some of the stories are quite different from what we usually receive as Friend submissions. (Oh, and I’m doing it in my own time so no one has to worry about stories for the People’s Friend or the Weekly News being shunted on to the back burner.)

What Editors say and what they mean

The conference is over a weekend in March, 23rd -25th, at a nice hotel in Cumbernauld, and it’ll be good to catch up with some Friend writers like Kate Blackadder, Anne Stenhouse, Anne Pack and Maggie Powell.

I’ve been invited to conduct a workshop, too. A topic of my choosing. I’ve done a few workshops now in past years at their conference, so I racked my brain to come up with something different and settled on What Editors Say And What They Mean. I hope it proves useful!

Shirley Blair

Fiction Ed Shirley’s been with the “Friend” since 2007 and calls it her dream job because she gets to read fiction all day every day. Hobbies? Well, that would be reading! She also enjoys writing fiction when she has time, long walks, travel, and watching Scandi thrillers on TV.

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