Wednesday, 2 December 2009

Feature in Writer's Forum - and a successful talk

Like all of us, I get my share of rejections and disappointments! - so it's specially gratifying when a couple of better things happen in my writing life in fairly close succession, making me feel a bit more successful again!

Hot on the heels of the publication of my story in last week's Woman's Weekly, I've now had my feature on pseudonyms published in 'Writer's Forum' magazine ('Name Games' on p44).

It's the January 2010 issue, which is out this week - weird thinking about January already when I can hardly believe it's December yet!

Several lovely fellow members of the RNA (Romantic Novelists' Association) contributed their thoughts to the article, so I hope everyone will find it interesting and informative! My 'real' photo appears on the page together with the 'young me' one that I used when I was first reinvented as Olivia. Quite amusing to see them both side by side!

I've also got a snippet in the 'Members' News' pages of the new issue of 'Writers' News', revealing my 'Olivia Ryan' identity as Sheila Norton ... I sent this in a few months ago when I first 'came out', but it's taken a while to be published! Still, it includes a bit about the latest book so I'm hoping it might catch a few readers' eyes.

The other thing might not sound particularly glamorous or amazing, but I gave a talk one evening last week to a local Rotary Club. Being an all-male club, and as the books and short stories I write tend to be quite female-oriented (although I must point out here before they contradict me, that I do have male fans and I'm dead chuffed whenever I hear from them!) - I was wondering how to target my talk and whether they'd find it interesting or if they'd all doze off after their dinner! I decided to talk about the realities of life as a writer - good and bad! - including various facts & figures, and quotes from better-known authors. And I'm pleased to say they were very appreciative and - always a good sign - I got asked lots of questions at the end. And sold some books too! So, together with the lovely meal provided for myself and the husband, it made it a successful evening for me.

I've given quite a few talks since having my books published; it's not a natural thing for me, and at first I was very nervous. But I'm a lot more confident now and actually enjoyed last week's one so I'm keen to continue building on that - it's all good PR and I hand out business cards and/or handouts about my books, as well as selling a few books if I can. I never would have thought, years ago, that I could cope confidently with this type of thing (I much prefer writing to talking!), so I'm quite chuffed to have gained a new skill at my advanced age!

And I've just seen that I've got a nice five-star reader review on Amazon for 'Tales From a Honeymoon Hotel' - which has really cheered me up!

Now to concentrate on the magazines I'm failing to 'hit'. Julie over at Julie's Quest ( and I, have made a joint challenge to ourselves to go back to basics by studying the relevant mags again, and trying to work out what sort of stories they're accepting and why ours aren't hitting the mark. I've just bought my first couple of 'research' issues ... so I'll be back soon with my thoughts!


  1. At least we won't have to bother with My Weekly though eh? Well I won't. Have you been published in My Weekly, Olivia? I can't remember. If you go ovet to Womag's blog you'll see the sad news that MW aren't taking unsolicited short stories unles you've been published with them before!

    Which mags are you starting with? I thought I'd have a crack at Take A Break and The Weekly News first - I have a full year's worth of past Fiction/feasts and a few month's worth of the TAB main mag stories to go through.

    I'm so glad that the Rotary talk went well and I have yet to read The Lamp but I did enjoy your article in Writers' Forum. That's both you and Helen in there! Well done both. It does boost the confidence doesn't it.

    I wonder what gems our research will throw up!

    I only hope we can come up with something useful for ourselves and other writers!

    Julie xx

  2. Thanks Julie. I know - I read Womag's blog about My Weekly last night and couldn't believe it. I have been published in My Weekly, but the last time was in 2003! I'll take a chance and continue subbing to them ... in fact it was one of the mags I was starting my research with, as I've had no luck there recently.

    Like you,I'm also starting with TAB and would like to do The Weekly News but can never seem to find it in the shops around here! These are the two mags I can't get a foot in the door with. I've just bought a TAB Fiction Feast to go through - but I badly need to read some copies of The W.N. so will keep looking out for it!

  3. A really interesting and inspiring post, Olivia. I’ve seen your name all over the place this week. It really seems to be your time at the moment – and very well deserved too.

    Your article in WF was very thought provoking. Names paint such vivid pictures, don’t they? Every writer knows how important it is to find just the right one to make a character come alive. Why shouldn’t the same thing work for the writer? I personally think it is a great idea to use a pseudonym (although in my case it was because I found another writer on Google with my name) If I’m honest though, it’s quite nice to climb into my writer persona when I sit at my computer – and my pen-name really helps me to do this. I’d be interested to hear what others think.

    PS: How brave of you Olivia, to take on that Rotary club talk. I would never have had the courage to do that. They’ll be no stopping you now.

  4. Thank you so much, Rena. Well, all I need is a new book contract now ...! (Fingers very much crossed, or is that bad luck?)!

    Yes, I think the whole pseudonym thing is quite fascinating. I'd never dreamed of using one until I was asked to - but it's been fun, as well as sometimes confusing, writing under two different names! I like your point about having a different 'persona' to climb into.

    Yes, the Rotary Club was quite different from any other talk I've given! Usually there are more women than men in the audience (writers' groups, reading groups, libraries etc) - and this time, not a single female to make jokes about men to!

  5. Great news about the article, the review and the Rotary Club - and good luck with the new book contract and the short story subs. You're definitely taking the right approach. I used to do the same thing for features - I had a spreadsheet so I could see fairly easily what kind of features each magazine covered in my area, and what they didn't. And also what they'd done recently, so I didn't waste my time sending those ideas. (Blimey, when I think back to how many magazines I used to buy each month...)

  6. Thanks, Kate. Yes - I've bought lots of mags for 'research' over the years. (Deductable expenses for tax of course!). I don't 'do' spreadsheets but have a fairly well-organised file where I keep all the updated requirements of the various magazines. But although I have some success with several, I'm niggled by those I can't break into - so at Julie's suggestion, I'm re-researching those ones! Hope it will help.

  7. I loved your article in WF. I always planned to use a psuedonym if I ever got published and one of my first stories had the byline Isabel Douglas (family names) which I thought sounded quite friendly and writerly - only used that one once though.

    Well done on doing that talk. You are brave. And congratulations on the 5 stars - you deserve every one of them.

  8. Ah, thank you Teresa! Glad you enjoyed the article. Strangely, Writing Magazine had a feature about pseudonyms in their new issue too!! Mm, Isabel Douglas is good! (But I like Teresa better actually!). Why did you only use it once?
    Must admit I was pleased to get the 5-star review as I hadn't had any reader reviews on the new book up till now. It looks much better with the stars!

  9. Well done Olivia - a very productive time and always inspiring to hear just how hard you work - although at the same time you make me feel slightly guilty! I have just had a clear out for Xmas of all the mags I keep for 'research' for my non-fiction and occasional fiction sumbissions and honestly, I filled three bin bags. Goodness knows how much I've spent on mags over the years!

  10. Thanks Helen! Don't feel guilty. Around this time of year I don't get much done at all. I can't understand why I seem to be too busy to get much writing done at Christmas, even now I'm retired from the day job! Ridiculous. Could be something to do with spending time with that gorgeous baby grandson, though ...!