Friday, 22 January 2016

Interview with Womagwriter Glenda Young

Today's guest is Glenda Young (aka Flaming Nora).

1. When did you start writing, Glenda and how did you get into writing for womags?

I can’t remember a time when I haven’t written. Ever since I was a child I have been a voracious reader and have always strung words together to make up stories in my head. I’ve attended lots of different creative writing classes over the years and absolutely love writing. I recently attended a course called Wonderful Words which was run by Sunderland Women’s Centre and that really fired up my desire again to start writing fiction. The course was very nurturing and encouraging and the tutor was over the moon when I told her I’d had a short story accepted.

I started writing online back in 1995 with regular weekly updates of Coronation Street for fans all around the world. This has grown (more on that later in the interview!) and continues to provide a regular creative slot for my brain. I also blog regularly at Flaming Nora.

However, as much as I love watching Coronation Street and have been published because of it, my foray into writing for women’s magazines is very important to me. Having spent much of my writing life writing about a TV show – in effect, telling someone else’s story – it’s a huge, enjoyable challenge to now write my own stories. I wanted to see if I could tell my own story, make up something from scratch and succeed in getting it published.

The first thing I did was go to the library and I took out a book called How to Write and Sell Short Stories. The book was written by Della Galton, a name I would become familiar with when I ventured into the woman’s magazine short story world! I devoured every word of Della’s book and didn’t skip any of the exercises she recommended. When the book said “stop reading and do this exercise”, I did it. I researched the market, read lots of different woman’s magazines over a couple of months and only then did I even think about sitting down to write my story. In my market research I discovered this Womag Blog which has been enormously helpful. Without it, I would have been posting stories on spec in the wrong word length to the wrong people at the wrong magazines.

I’ve since bought Della Galton’s next book
Moving On: From Short Story to Novel. However, I haven’t allowed myself to open it and start reading it yet. I don’t want to run before I can walk. I’ve promised myself I’ll start reading it the minute I have my second short story accepted - fingers crossed!

2. You've just had your first acceptance - what's that for?

It’s for The People’s Friend and the story will be published in the spring of 2016. I won’t be using a pen name because I’m very proud of my work and I want the world to see it’s me being published in such a well-loved magazine.

3. How did you feel when you got the news?

I was alone in the house when the email came through to say it had been accepted. I shouted, I screamed and I did a little dance. It’s fair to say I was over the moon! I still am!

4. Are you going to concentrate on writing for People's Friend now, or will you try other markets?

I’ve also submitted stories to Woman’s Weekly and Take a Break magazine but I’m still waiting to hear back from those. Again, on the advice of the Womag Blog, I knew not to submit to My Weekly magazine as they’re not taking stories from any new writers. I’ll continue to submit to People’s Friend and I hope to go on one of their writer workshops this year to help understand their requirements even more closely.

What I have found – and I’d love to know if other writers experience this too – is that writing for woman’s magazines fires me up to take on other projects and write for other markets too. For instance, a story I might write for a woman’s magazine can set off a creative process and give me ideas for another, much darker, story along the same theme. This has happened a few times and I’ve entered some of those darker, more literary stories into competitions. It’s almost like a Jekyll and Hyde way of story writing – and I like the way my brain works doing this.

5. Are you a disciplined writer producing a steady stream of stories, or do you wait until you're in the mood?

I have to wait until I’m in the mood but when I’m not writing I’m collecting – words, phrases, ideas, characters. They all sit in my head until there’s no more space and I have to put them down on paper. Sometimes when I’m in the mood for writing, but not for story telling, I make lists of the types of characters and stories I want to write when the mood strikes. This fires up creativity in itself, I find.

6. What are your biggest inspirations when it comes to writing?

I live in Sunderland, a city on the coast so the sea is important to me. I’m lucky enough to live just a short walk from a beautiful beach and I use the beach, the shore, the sea, flotsam and jetsam, all that kind of thing, a lot. I also use the beach for walking on, usually daily, and for beachcombing too. With the sea crashing and the sand underfoot, the beach is my favourite place to walk and think and create new ideas.

Also, I have to admit I’m terrible for eavesdropping on conversations. I love real-life dialogue and have used snippets that I overhear in my work. Whether it’s in a coffee shop or on public transport, if I hear people in conversation (and I find two old men talking to each other the most interesting!) I will automatically tune in, listen and sometimes even make notes.

7. You're a Coronation Street fan, I believe. Care to tell us about that?
Yes, I am a huge Coronation Street fan and have watched it since I was a child. I set up and edit the Coronation Street Blog which is a fan site that’s been online since 2007. There’s a team of 12 of us who contribute to it and we’re always open to others joining the team if they wish – so if you fancy writing a blog post about Coronation Street do please get in touch!

My love of Coronation Street has led to being published with the following books: Deirdre: A Life on Coronation Street; A Perfect Duet - the diary of Roy and Hayley Cropper;

Norman Bates with a Briefcase - the Richard Hillman Story. I was also commissioned to update the Coronation Street Saga in 2008 and the same book again under the changed title of the Coronation Street Novel in 2010.

As much as I love watching Coronation Street and writing about it, my foray into writing for women’s magazines is very important to me. Having spent much of my writing life writing about a TV show – in effect, telling someone else’s story – it is an enjoyable challenge to now write my own stories.

8. The right writing snacks are very important - what's your fuel of choice?I try not to snack when I’m writing, I just crack on with the task in hand. I do however, love my cups of hot tea and can’t imagine writing, or life, without a good brew.

9. Do you have any advice for other writers who're still waiting for their first womag success?

  • Research the market thoroughly – immerse yourself in the woman’s magazine world before you submit anything
  • Double check that you’re sending the right stories to the right magazines in the right word length
  • Join a creative writing group
  • Have someone you trust read your stories before you submit them and ask them for feedback
  • Write for the pleasure of it, every day. The more you write, the bigger your creative muscle will be.
  • Bookmark the Womag Blog and check it regularly for updates on changes in the woman’s magazine market.   

33 comments:

wannabe a writer said...

What a fantastic interview and good advice too. Well done for your first acceptance. Now I'm off to look at your Corrie blog.

Linda

joanne fox said...

Congratulations, Glenda, on your first sale to People's Friend. Won't it be exciting when you open up that issue, and see yourself in there! I shall look out for your story too. Corrie has been a feature of my own life for a long time, and I look forward to having a good mooch around your blog later.

Flaming Nora said...

Thankyou both for your lovely comments!

Wendy's Writing said...

Congratulations, Nora. Nothing beats that first story sale. We may very well be PF magazine sisters in the Spring.

Beatrice Charles said...

Lovely interview. Congratulations on your first acceptance, many more to come, I'm sure.

Anonymous said...

Lovely interview - enjoyed reading it and will look forward to reading the PF story

Noreen said...

That wasn't anonymous - it is Noreen

Flaming Nora said...

Thankyou all, your comments are very encouraging!

suzy doodling said...

Well done, Glenda. Look forward to reading it.

Kate Blackadder said...

Well done, Glenda - look forward to reading your story. Onward and upward!

Geraldine Ryan said...

Oh Glenda I am an avid Corrie fan too. Have been watching it since it started!

Della G said...

Love what you said, Glenda. Corrie is superb - and so glad about your PF story. love Della x

Dolores Doolittle said...

Highly interesting and inspiring interview, and many congrats on your first acceptance, Glenda

Flaming Nora said...

Thankyou everyone! SO pleased I found this blog, it's a great resource for and community of writers.

Teresa Ashby said...

Lovely interview, Glenda - congratulations on your first acceptance xx

liz young said...

Shouting, screaming and dancing sounds a perfectly reasonable reaction to such news!

Maggie May said...

An excellent interview and some sound advice.

Karen said...

Lovely interview, and congratulations on your first sale to The People's Friend - hopefully the first of many :o)

Denise said...

Despite living a long way away now, in Spain, I was born and brought up in Sunderland. I love Della books too and have also bought, but not read, the novel book! Well done!

Rosemary Gemmell said...

Lovely interview - congratulations on your story sale, Glenda! Many years ago, a then editor of People's Friend told our writing group that we should study Coronation Street if trying to be published in PF as it had such good storytelling and themes (this was especially true years ago). You've been doing the right thing all these years!

Flaming Nora said...

Thanks everyone for your lovely comments, it's really heartening and encouraging. I do hope I get a second acceptance and a chance to open Della's book about writing a novel! It's really interesting about the connection between story telling and soaps... thanks for that.

Sally Zigmond said...

Hi there, Glenda. You'll never forget your first published story. I know I haven't! Your track record is even more amazing. Best wishes for the future. I see it glittering before. And your advice is spot on.

Jan Baynham said...

A great interview, Glendale and Patsy, and congratulations on that first PF sale. I, too, recommend Della's book.

Creaky door writer said...

This is really good to hear - as usual, a useful and inspiring post on this blog. I am trying to get a novel published and am about to give up full-time work to spend more time writing. One of my ambitions is to write for women's magazine, and after several rejections it is great to red your encouraging news and your advice. I am going to buy Della's book right now!Good luck with future stories, and thank you.

Creaky door writer said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Flaming Nora said...

Thankyou to everyone for your very encouraging comments. I promised myself that when I had a 2nd story accepted I would read Della Galton's book "Moving on: From Short Story to Novel". Well, deep breath, today I've had a 2nd story accepted, again by People's Friend. It's time to open Della's book...

Patsy said...

Congratulations!

Dolores Doolittle said...

Blimey, Glenda - that`s Brilliant!

seaviewwarrenpoint said...

Well done, Glenda - I remember the feeling of seeing my first magazine article published (although it was non-fiction)

An enjoyable and interesting interview. Well done. :)

marion

Carolb said...

Congratulations, Glenda. Sure there will be many more successes to follow. :)

Flaming Nora said...

Thanks everyone...! :-)

Sue Blackburn said...

What a fantastic, inspiring interview. Thank you Patsy and Glenda. And congratulations, Glenda, on two acceptances now from TPF. Look forward to reading them xx

Flaming Nora said...

Thankyou so much!