That Time I Met Noreen Flanagan [10k Coffees Meet up]

Bursting the Bubble, Lifestyle/Personal

Yesterday I was part of a lucky group of three that got to sit down for coffee with Noreen Flanagan, Editor-in-Chief of ELLE Canada. The group-chat was set up by Ten Thousand Coffees, a website I am currently obsessed with. For an hour, myself and two talented photographers got to bounce questions off of one of the most successful women I’ve had the pleasure to meet.

Noreen Flanagan greeted us in a warm and friendly manner, she had a look in her eyes that resembled quiet excitement. She was genuinely pleased to spend time with us, she even brought cookies. The four of us sat down with tea and coffee, and chatted about the publishing industry from both a writer’s and a photographer’s standpoint. Noreen gave us honest and whimsical answers — she’s a storyteller in her own right. She told us the blunt facts, gave us several suggestions, and even made us laugh. Sitting there, I felt like I was catching up with a co-worker or discussing future projects with a mentor. I’ve listed some of her advice below, but what I took most from coffee with Noreen was: Creativity and passion are key to landing any job. No matter how you communicate with people (media, writing, photography), FIND YOUR VOICE and be yourself. Dare to be different. Don’t be afraid.

Tips from Noreen Flanagan 

  • Ensure a concise 360 degree pitch. Show that you understand how the story will work in the book, on the iPad, Twitter, Facebook, Instagram etc.
  • When you apply for a job that you really want, find a human to talk to. A lot of times the first round of HR is done by a computer, if you don’t fit all of the criteria no one will even see your resume.
  • The six words of the subject of your email are the most important words you will ever write. Use these to get your potential editor’s attention and ensure that you’re contacting the right editor.
  • When you go for an interview create a narrative about yourself, something your interviewer will remember, but don’t lie. Come prepared with loads of questions and practice interviews with family members or friends.
  • Practice your phone manners, it really is a lost art.
  • If you’re trying to be a freelance writer, get a full-time job. It doesn’t matter what it is, just pay the bills.
  • Learn more about SEO, Google Analytics, and videography, they’re the way of the future.
Embrace the butterflies, what’s life without them?
 – Noreen Flanagan

– Vanessa

A HUGE thank you to Noreen for taking time out of her day to let a few aspiring writers and photographers pick her brain! An even greater thank you to Grace from Ten Thousand Coffees for making it all possible. Your website is a true gift for young people with big dreams! Oh and thank you to the older gentleman who was leaving the public parking lot and gave me his parking ticket so that I didn’t have to purchase my own ❤ !

Interview with Kathy Buckworth

Book Reviews, Just for Fun, Lifestyle/Personal

f735e57991607d9a0b55636a21dc0882Ten Thousand Coffees is a website that connects recent graduates with experts in different fields. You invite an expert for coffee, answer a few questions, and hope that they will agree to meet with you so that you can pick their brain. I frequently browse their newest experts in Publishing and Writing in case I come across someone I’d love to meet or ask for advice.

Recently I sent an invitation to Kathy Buckworth. I first heard her name while interning at Random House of Canada. Her book I’m Am So The Boss Of You had just been published and there was quite the buzz going on in the office about it. I’ve read her articles on The Huffington Post, and love her straightforward approach to writing and her warm voice. Kathy is a public speaker, television personality, and award-winning author. From our correspondence so far (mainly Twitter, email, and Ten Thousand Coffees) I can tell that she is kind, approachable, and really wants to help out.

Guess what, Kathy agreed to have coffee with me! Since her schedule is pretty packed, we decided to start off with a few questions via email and then meet up for coffee sometime in November — awesome, right? I am so curious about the writing world and have a feeling that once I sit down with her, I’m going to have tonnes of questions to ask. Below you’ll find a little chunk of our email-interview. Enjoy!

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What are you reading right now?

Actually just finishing Andrea Martin’s biography “Lady Parts”, right on the heels of finishing Lena Dunham’s book. Both very smart, very funny ladies, at opposite ends of their careers. Great to read one after the other.  I read loads of fiction also and have a Lindwood Barclay waiting for me as well as the latest Rosie Project book.

Which books had the biggest impact on your life?

As a kid I read everything Stephen King wrote. My favourite was “The Stand”.  But the book of his I love the most, as an adult is “On Writing”, which every writer should read.  Also Anne Lamott’s “Bird By Bird”.  I still read loads of top ten fiction books – John Grisham, Jonathan Kellerman, Gillian Flynn, anything I can get my hands on. I also read a lot of business books – mostly written by successful women. I loved “Lean In” by Sheryl Sandberg.

Where do you find your inspiration to write?

Mostly from my family, but almost as often from current news stories.  I’m always looking (in my case) for family/parenting/women oriented issues and read at least one daily newspaper (either in print or online). I read the magazines I write for and my Twitter stream is full of news feeds. I also listen to what people are interested in on social media.  I watch morning television to see ‘what’s hot’ and constantly listen to 680News radio. I also search surveys and research studies online (associated with parenting) to see if a stat/finding can give me inspiration. I also just listen to what people are saying at Starbucks (I should have a warning sign around my neck, really). Get out and observe people and listen to what they’re saying.

Do you think maintaining a blog is a good way to get your name “out there”?

I do. A blog post doesn’t have to be long (as I’m sure you know) but a blog does have to be relevant and up to date. I don’t have a blog, but I do have a website and I do occasionally blog for other people. But as a starting writer it does a few things – gets your work in public domain, helps with your SEO, and also helps you to practice writing, especially if you set deadlines for yourself (ie blogging once a week etc). I know some ‘social media experts’ will say that you should only blog when you have something to say, but if you are trying to go beyond the blog, blogging on a regular basis is a great discipline.

What do you think is the key to becoming a successful writer?

Sounds ridiculous, but just keep writing. Pitch local papers and websites who might not pay, but will give you credentials and allow you to pitch bigger places.  ALWAYS submit before your deadline, NEVER go over on word count, and be EASY to work with.

“Write every day, and read more than you write. Don’t be afraid to share your articles and to ask friends/family to share them too. Pitch everyone you think would like to run/print what you have to say.”

– Vanessa