Archive | November 2012

6 things you should read before entering the National Magazine Awards

The submissions process for the 36th annual National Magazine Awards opens on December 1. Whether you’re new to the NMAs or you’ve been with us for 35 years, here are six things you should read before you enter your submissions this year:

  1. The NMAF’s Eligibility & Rules for magazines and individuals;
  2. The List of Categories — There are 48 categories this year, including 3 new ones;
  3. The NMAF’s Frequently Asked Questions (updated since last year);
  4. What’s New — A complete list of changes to this year’s program approved by the NMAF board of directors in consultation with members of the magazine industry;
  5. The Canadian magazine industry Code of Reader & Advertiser Engagement;
  6. The NMA Archives — Unsure about which category to enter your work? Review the nominees and winners from previous years.

On or after December 1, visit magazine-awards.com to enter your submissions. The deadline for all entries in hand is January 16. The early bird deadline–for discounted submission fees–is January 11.

All About Co-Financing: Discounted NMA Submissions Fees

The submissions process for the 36th annual National Magazine Awards opens on December 1. On that date, the NMAF will begin accepting applications for Co-financing. [Version française ici]

The deadline to submit Co-financing applications is Friday December 14.

What is Co-financing? It is a NMAF partial subsidy of the cost of entering the awards. It is available to small publications with less than $250,000 in total revenue.

There are two levels of Co-financing available: one for publications with under 20,000 circulation; another for even smaller publications with under 2000 circulation.

How does one apply? Applicants must download and complete the application form and return it to the NMAF by December 14 along with a confirmation of circulation (either an AAM or CCAB audited statement, or a copy of the magazine’s most recent print-run confirmation). The application must indicate how many submissions the magazine plans to enter, though the magazine does not have to enter its submissions by December 14.

There is no limit to the number of submissions that Co-financing applicants can enter. All successful applicants will be approved for Co-financing of a minimum of three submissions (unless they’ve indicated they will only submit one or two). As the NMAF has limited resources for Co-financing, successful applicants indicating they plan to enter more than three submissions will be approved for Co-financing on the remainder of their stated submissions on a first come, first served basis until the NMAF reaches its funding cap.

What happens next? The NMAF will notify all successful applicants by email no later than December 20, indicating how many submissions are approved for Co-financing. Applicants will have until the submissions deadline of January 16, 2013 to enter their submissions.

Magazines that have been approved for Co-financing must pay their submissions fees in full when they submit. The Co-financing will be disbursed as a refund once all submissions are received and verified; not later than March 1, 2013.

Co-financing applications are available here.

What’s New This Year at the National Magazine Awards

Each year the National Magazine Awards Foundation conducts surveys, solicits feedback and hosts round-table discussions with key stakeholders in order to ensure that our awards program is in tune with developments in the Canadian magazine industry. Any changes that are made to the program reflect the consideration of numerous experts from relevant fields as well as the Judging Committee and Board of Directors of the NMAF. The NMAF is grateful to those who volunteered their time to provide us with feedback and sit on our 2012 Digital Round Table and other committees.

The following changes have been approved by the NMAF Board of Directors for the 2012 awards year. [Version française ici]

1. NEW CATEGORIES

  • Blogs: This written category is open to a regular series of original written content produced by a Magazine Website that has a recognizable unifying voice or theme. Entries may consist of up to ten (10) blog posts by one or more authors.
  • Online Video: This integrated category is open to a single video produced by a Magazine Website or Tablet Magazine.
  • Tablet Magazine of the Year: This special category is open to any single issue of a Tablet Magazine that successfully fulfills its editorial mission by representing the highest journalistic standards and effectively serving its intended audience by maximizing the possibilities afforded by the medium of tablet publishing.

2. MODIFIED CATEGORIES

Magazine of the Year—Digital is now known as Magazine Website of the Year. [Read definition]

Best Digital Design is now known as Magazine Website Design. [Read definition]

Best Multimedia Feature has been reconfigured as Editorial Package—Web. This award is open to any original package of related or thematic editorial content produced by a Magazine Website that best serves its intended audience by maximizing the potential of web-based publishing, and that reflects collaboration by editors and content creators. Elements may include but are not limited to written content, blogs, video, photography, data visualization, illustration, social media and user-generated content.

3. CLARIFICATION OF TERMINOLOGY

Generally speaking the National Magazine Awards are open to content from all Canadian consumer magazines, whether they are published in print, online or in a tablet edition. Where previously we distinguished between Print and Digital Magazines, this year we are further clarifying the difference between three types of magazine publishing:

  • Print Magazine
  • Magazine Website (companion site or online-only magazine)
  • Tablet Magazine

Most categories are open to content from any of these types, though specific categories have certain restrictions. For all clarifications, see the list of categories, rules and eligibility, and frequently asked questions.

There is now a Special Award for each of these three types:

  • Magazine of the Year
  • Magazine Website of the Year
  • Tablet Magazine of the Year

A single publication may enter any and all of these categories if they meet the eligibility and category criteria.

4. HALF THE PHOTOCOPIES

This year, submissions in Written Categories require only 3 sets of photocopies (plus 1 set of original tear sheets) instead of 6. As usual all entries require a PDF version of the submission in addition to hard copies.

5. NEW ADDRESS

For the past 10 years you’ve sent your NMA submissions hard copies to us at Adelaide Street in Toronto. But this year we have a new address, so be sure to note it before you send in your submissions:

National Magazine Awards Foundation
2 Bloor Street East, Suite 3500
Toronto, ON, M4W 1A8

Off the Page, avec Pascale Millot

La nouvelle série Off the Page est une exclusivité produite par la Fondation nationale du prix du magazine canadien (FNPMC) et qui offre aux anciens lauréats de Prix du magazine canadien une tribune où ils sont invités à exprimer ce que leur prix a signifié pour eux et à nous dire où ils en sont aujourd’hui dans leur carrière. La série « Off the Page » paraîtra périodiquement dans notre blogue à l’automne 2012. Cette semaine, nous découvrons quoi de neuf avec Pascale Millot, rédactrice en chef adjointe du magazine Québec Science.

FNPMC: Au cours de son histoire, Québec Science a remporté 24 Prix du magazine canadien dont 13 au cours des 7 dernières années, notamment dans des catégories telles que Santé et médecine, Société, Dossiers thématiques et Science, technologie et environnement. Quelle est l’importance pour vous, comme rédactrice en chef adjointe, de voir votre équipe reconnue pour son travail? Et, selon vous, ce succès a-t-il un impact sur vos lecteurs?

Pascale Millot (Photo par Christian Fleury)

Pascale Millot: À la rédaction de Québec Science, nous sommes toujours fiers et heureux de voir le travail de nos journalistes reconnu par des prix aussi prestigieux que ceux de la Fondation des magazines canadiens. D’une part, parce que ces prix soulignent le talent de nos collaborateurs.

Ensuite, ces prix montrent la rigueur et l’originalité du travail qui est fait à Québec Science depuis des années. Vous savez, derrière un reportage se cache un important travail d’équipe.

Bien sûr, le plus grand mérite revient au journaliste qui l’écrit, mais le choix du sujet, la révision, le choix des titres et surtout l’encadrement pendant la recherche et la rédaction sont aussi d’une importance capitale et font souvent la différence entre un reportage «publiable» et une œuvre remarquable.

Quant à nos lecteurs, ils sont toujours impressionnés de voir notre récolte de prix. Je crois que cela renforce notre crédibilité.

FNPMC: L’année dernière, vous avez également remporté un Prix du magazine canadien pour votre article « Quand je serai plus là, qui va s’occuper de mes poissons? ». Ce reportage racontait l’histoire d’enfants qui souffrent de maladies mortelles et traitait de la réalité des soins palliatifs pour les jeunes, au Canada. Comment avez-vous été informée de ce dossier et pourquoi avez-vous décidé de faire enquête à ce sujet?

Pascale Millot: J’aime à répéter que, si j’avais eu plus d’audace et pas d’enfants, j’aurais fait du reportage en zone de guerre. Je pense en effet que les journalistes ont la responsabilité de nous faire découvrir des réalités peu connues et extrêmes.

Je ne fais pas de reportage en zone de conflit, mais je m’efforce tout de même de traiter de sujets extrêmes où des hommes et des femmes sont poussés au bout de leurs limites. C’est le genre de sujets qui me passionne et dont j’ai besoin pour garder mon intérêt dans ce métier.

Parler des enfants qui vont mourir, du don d’organes, de la torture, du suicide, de la maladie mentale et de toutes ces situations où l’être humain est poussé au bout de lui-même est ma manière à moi de faire du reportage extrême. En ce qui concerne ce sujet précis des soins palliatifs pédiatriques, j’ai été frappée de constater à quel point la mort, et particulièrement la mort des enfants, est taboue dans notre société.

D’ailleurs, beaucoup de gens autour de moi ne comprenaient pas pourquoi je me penchais sur un tel sujet, comme si c’était trop triste pour en parler. Mais c’est justement pour cela qu’il faut en parler.

FNPMC: Cette année, Québec Science célèbre son 50e anniversaire. Qu’avez-vous fait pour souligner cet anniversaire et quels sont les objectifs futurs du magazine?

Pascale Millot: C’est un gros anniversaire! 50 ans pour un magazine au Québec, c’est une incroyable longévité. D’autant plus qu’il s’agit du seul magazine de science destiné au grand public au Canada.

Pour souligner cette grande année, nous avons produit un numéro spécial qui présente les 50 grands défis de la recherche scientifique. Notre rédacteur en chef, Raymond Lemieux, a également publié un livre, Il était une fois Québec Science (Éditions MultiMondes), qui raconte l’histoire du magazine, mais aussi de la culture scientifique au Québec. Nous avons aussi repensé complètement notre site Internet et nous avons (enfin!) rendu nos archives accessibles en ligne.

Nos objectifs futurs? Produire de l’information sous forme numérique, mais aussi et surtout continuer à produire des reportages de fond, bien écrits, à même d’informer et de captiver un public non spécialiste. Il est de plus en plus difficile de produire de l’information de qualité, de fouiller des sujets, de prendre le temps de comprendre les différentes facettes d’un dossier.

Le reportage magazine demande du talent, mais aussi du temps et de la rigueur, des valeurs qui sont malheureusement de moins en moins dans l’air du temps.

FNPMC: Merci Pascale!

Découvrir plus à quebecscience.qc.ca. Lire la suite des gagnants du magazine Québec Science dans nos archives.

Prix d’Or, catégorie Société, 2010

Prix d’Or, catégorie Science, technologie et environnement, 2010

Prix d’Argent, catégories Santé et Médecine, et Science, technologie et environnement, 2009

Important dates for the 36th annual National Magazine Awards

The NMAF Board of Directors has approved the following key dates for the awards program of the 36th annual National Magazine Awards:

  • December 1: Call for submissions
  • December 14: Co-financing deadline
  • January 11: Early-Bird submissions deadline
  • January 16: Final submissions deadline
  • March 1: Outstanding Achievement deadline
  • May 1: Nominations announcement
  • June 7: 36th annual NMA gala

Stay with us at our blog, newsletter, twitter and facebook for updates along the way.

New Writers.ca portal available from PWAC

The Professional Writers Association of Canada (PWAC) has launched a new online portal to connect freelance writers and magazine editors across the country.

The site writers.ca is being promoted to Canadian magazines and from now through the spring of 2013, the site is free. (After February 14, there will be an annual fee for magazines to join, based on circulation figures. Read more.) Writers who are members of PWAC will be listed on the site. (Join PWAC.)

On the site, editors can find writers for specific projects, writers can find editors who might be interested in their work, and organizations can post jobs for specific needs.

The portal also includes tips such as:

{Hat tip: Canadian Magazines}

Off the Page, with Eighteen Bridges editor Curtis Gillespie

Off the Page is an exclusive series produced by the NMAF that reaches out to former National Magazine Award winners to find out what their awards have meant to them and what they’re up to now. Off the Page will appear each Thursday on the Magazine Awards blog during the fall of 2012. This week we catch up with three-time National Magazine Award-winning writer Curtis Gillespie, editor of the new magazine Eighteen Bridges.

NMAF: Some might call it a bold venture: launching a publication of narrative non-fiction journalism—a magazine of big ideas—in an age when long-form is seemingly subsumed by Internet media and niche publishing. Perhaps that’s a misconception. As an editor and an award-winning long-form writer, what were your founding objectives for Eighteen Bridges; what did the magazine seek to achieve that wasn’t already on the landscape?

Curtis Gillespie: The founding objectives of Eighteen Bridges were very simple: marry sound research with compelling narrative. We wanted to offer a home for great writers who can also do trustworthy research.

Long form is more important than ever, because context is more important than ever. We’re awash in information, but lacking in depth and background, and that’s precisely why the long-form narrative journalism format is, I believe, essential.

This kind of in-depth journalism is expensive, and so most outlets are shying away from it. Digital-age, quick-hit, small-dose journalism is fine, but it needs to be supported by genuine investigative journalism that offers trustworthy and thorough research (to further our insight) along with genuine writing talent (to keep us reading!).

We didn’t see this style on the Canadian landscape. The Walrus is a great magazine, but doesn’t necessarily focus on narrative. Maclean’s is newsy. Brick is arts and culture. All are good magazines and serve their readers well.

The point of doing something like Eighteen Bridges is to create an immersive experience for readers, so that they’re enjoying a story but also gaining context.

Eighteen Bridges, issue #1, Spring 2011

NMAFOne of the pledges Eighteen Bridges makes to the Canadian readership is that it will “initiate vibrant debate.” What has informed this perspective that we’re in need of enhanced public debate in this country, and what is the role of narrative journalism in fostering such discourse that is unique among the myriad forms of Canadian media.

Eighteen Bridges, issue #2, Winter 2011

Curtis Gillespie: The “narrative” aspect is crucial. It’s our base camp, in a way. We believe in story telling as the perfect conduit for in-depth journalism, because we believe a magazine article should be both enlightening and entertaining, and that the two are not mutually exclusive. But this takes talent, hard work, and a clear editorial mandate.

Too often, newspapers and television provide facts, but no context. We learn the issues, but not the subtleties behind the issues. We don’t get to know the personalities in their complexity.

You can’t really have a vibrant debate without feeling well informed. Otherwise, conversations, arguments, debates and discussions are simply an exchange of opinion.

Our goal (if we can ever reach anything like the level of cultural penetration of a major media source) is to offer enough background and context to allow for vigorous discussions based on good research and compelling stories, rather than sound bites and quick hits.

If we can take the principles of narrative (characterization, dramatic arc, psychological and emotional inquiry, and so on) and use those to convey the stories that are shaping our world, then we’ll be creating journalism that people enjoy and value.

NMAFAmong the early measures of success for Eighteen Bridges are the ten National Magazine Awards nominations and 2 wins—Gold for Don Gillmor’s “All In” and Silver for Alissa York’s “Class Mammalia”—that came from just your first two issues from 2011. Was this a key step in the realization of your vision for the magazine, and what have the awards meant to the magazine and its future?

Eighteen Bridges, issue #3, Spring 2012

Curtis Gillespie: I can’t honestly say it was a key step in the realization for our vision for the magazine, since it would be unwise to ever plan on winning awards!

Having said that, we did feel that if we were lucky enough to get noticed at the National Magazine Awards in our first year of eligibility it would help us spread the word of what we are about and who we are trying to reach.

The NMAs mean a great deal to people in the magazine industry and to writers in general; they indicate what is working at a high level and signal to the country what might be worth paying attention to.

We were stunned and delighted to get 10 nominations and two wins in our first crack at it, partly because it means people might notice our magazine and what we’re trying to do with it; that we take issues that matter and create great stories about them. But more because it was recognition for some outstanding writing.

Don and Alissa were rightly recognized, but it also drew attention to many other fine writers.

We think it also showed, in some ways, that our rationale for creating the magazine wasn’t completely without merit!

Curtis Gillespie won 3 National Magazine Awards for his writing in Saturday Night magazine, and has been nominated for a total of 14 NMAs since 1999. He has also served as a judge for the NMAs. Eighteen Bridges was nominated for 10 NMAs last year, and won Silver in Travel (Alissa York, “Class Mammalia“) and Gold in Arts & Entertainment (Don Gillmor, “All In“; featured in the new NMA eBook). Discover more at eighteenbridges.com.

Call for National Magazine Awards Judges

Each year the National Magazine Awards Foundation relies on over two hundred volunteer judges to evaluate the collection of nearly 2000 wonderful submissions we receive from magazines and individuals across the country. [Version française ici]

These judges are not only leaders and experts in their field but also committed to ensuring a strong and vibrant Canadian magazine industry where excellence today serves as the standard for tomorrow’s creators.

This year we are looking for new judges to serve on English, French and bilingual juries for written categories, as well as juries for visual, integrated and special categories, including digital-publishing experts.

Judges ideally should be veterans of the magazine industry in editing, publishing, writing, art direction, illustration, photography, digital production or circulation, or offer expertise in a particular field pertinent to the National Magazine Awards.

Whether you have judged in the past or are new to the National Magazine Awards, we welcome and will consider all candidates.

To nominate yourself or a colleague as a judge, or for more information, please review the NMAF Judging Process and contact our office at staff [at] magazine-awards.com.

National Reading Campaign kicks off with Twitter contest

Launching today, the National Reading Campaign is encouraging Canadians to tell each other about what they’re reading right now–books, magazines, poems and more–for a chance to win one of ten Kobo eReaders preloaded with a bunch of great books.

From now until December 31, anyone who tweets their current reading habits to @readingcampaign with the hashtag #WhatDidYouReadToday will be entered to win one of the prizes.

See what your National Magazine Awards blogger-tweeter is reading at @NatMagAwards. And if you’re reading magazines, share it with us, too!

Here’s a tip: Check out the NMA Archives for award-winning magazine content. Or download our eBook app.

Happy reading!

Student magazine Emerge wins international acclaim

An annual magazine produced by journalism students at the University of Guelph-Humber’s Media Studies program has won seven Gold Circle Awards from the Columbia Scholastic Press Association.

EMERGE Magazine (read the latest issue online at Issu) is produced entirely by students in the journalism stream at UGH.

From the CSPA–which is affiliated with the Graduate School of Journalism at Columbia University–EMERGE received awards in the categories Non-fiction Columns, Headlines, Informational Graphics, Infographics Portfolio, General Portfolio, Multipage Presentation, and Overall Design.

Congrats to a job well done by the next generation of magazine creators!

{Tip o’ the hat: Masthead Online}

Magazines Canada Webinar features NMA winner David Fielding

David Fielding, executive editor of Canadian Business magazine

The next installment of Magazines Canada’s Fall 2012 Webinar Series is entitled “Strategies of an Award-Winning Editor” and will feature David Fielding, a renowned editor who has worked on National Magazine Award-winning stories and packages from Report on Business, Toro, The Grid and most recently Canadian Business.

The webinar will be hosted on Wednesday, November 14 at 2pm ET.

From the event site:

What does it take to get your magazine’s writers into the winner’s circle at the NMAs and other awards programs? Join David Fielding, executive editor at Canadian Business magazine, as he shares the strategies he’s used to help his writers get their best work onto his magazine’s pages—and score some prizes along the way as well.

Visit Magazines Canada for more information and to register for the event. Discount pricing is available for members and webinar packages.

Off the Page, with The Coveteur

Off the Page is an exclusive series produced by the NMAF that reaches out to former National Magazine Award winners to find out what their awards have meant to them and what they’re up to now. Off the Page will appear each Thursday on the Magazine Awards blog during the fall of 2012. This week we catch up with the 2011 winners of Best New Visual Creator: The Coveteur. The Coveteur are designer Erin Kleinberg, stylist Stephanie Mark and photographer Jake Rosenberg. 

NMAFAt this year’s National Magazine Awards The Coveteur was named Canada’s Best New Visual Creator for your spread “Strictly Top Shelf” in Report on Business magazine. First of all, what is The Coveteur, and where does it make the biggest impact on the world of fashion and style?

The Coveteur: Erin Kleinberg, Jake Rosenberg and Stephanie Mark

The Coveteur: The Coveteur takes you into the closets of today’s celebrities and fashion icons so you can discover their unique style. Our site features exclusive photography and videos and provides a behind the scenes community for fashion lovers. Our followers can collect and share their favorite images in their own “closet” and then shop the look of Coveteurs from around the globe—from New York to Paris, London and beyond.

We make an impact by redefining the way people shop and the way they view the still-life by showcasing the styles of today’s tastemakers in a new light that is also shoppable.

NMAF: How did you get involved with Report on Business, and how did you develop your winning piece—which the judges lauded for “magnifying the desirability of objects”; “a perfect balance of style and composition”—for the magazine?

The Coveteur: We are loyal readers of Report on Business and we were thrilled and honoured when they approached us to contribute. We created a holiday gift guide in signature Coveteur fashion and arranged the products in such a way that brings them to life and makes each one appear as a character in an environment.

Our community enjoys the quirk of an image—a stuffed monkey wearing a pair of designer glasses styled amongst other great products—as it highlights the product when showcased in an unexpected, eccentric way. Keeping the sophisticated Report on Business reader in mind, we chose exceptional, high-end products for the feature.

National Magazine Award-winning layout from The Coveteur, in Report on Business magazine

NMAF: Your online “curations” (coveteurs) seem to borrow a bit from traditional fashion magazine layouts while also being remarkably innovative in tapping the power of social media, digital publishing and e-commerce. What have been some of your influences from the world of magazines—fashion, style, design, etc—while developing this unique approach to exhibition?

The Coveteur: We have all had individual and unique experiences working in these different yet connected areas. Erin worked for W Magazine alongside director Alex White who taught her to push stylistic boundaries, which catches the reader off-guard and calls for a second glance. She recalls a photo shoot with model Doutzen Kroes staged in a field and littered with teddy bears—a consistent quirkiness that has remained an integral part of her styling since.

Stephanie, who went to Parsons [School for Design] for fashion marketing and interned with Kate Lanphear at Elle Magazine, has a keen eye for picking great product from across the globe and is our in-house e-commerce wiz.

Jake’s visual inspiration comes from the work of Ben Watts and his vivid editorial imagery as well as Raymond Meier’s ability to bring product to life through editing. His photography is bright, vivid and intimate, adding a certain “glow” which tells a unique story about each subject and their personal style.

The Coveteur have profiled dozens of styles, including that of Miss Piggy!

NMAF: Do you have any other current or upcoming projects in magazines to tell us about? 

The Coveteur: We just shot an exclusive, eight-page spread for the October/November 2012 issue of Air France Madame magazine filled with the best accessories of the season and shot in our distinct stylistic approach. As for what else is coming up? You’ll just have to stay tuned!

Check out all of fantastic curations of Stephanie, Erin and Jake at thecoveteur.com

NMA Winner Patrick Lane to judge Freefall Writing Contest

Patrick Lane

Two-time National Magazine Award-winning author and poet Patrick Lane will serve as the guest judge for the 2012 FreeFall Magazine annual prose and poetry writing contest.

The competition is open to submissions in poetry and short fiction, with $1100 in prize money to be awarded, including $300 to the winners in each category.

The deadline for entries is December 31, 2012.

Patrick Lane won 2 National Magazine Awards for his poetry in Border Crossings and Canadian Forum, and the most recent of his 20 books of fiction, non-fiction, literary criticism and poetry is titled The Collected Poems of Patrick Lane (Harbour Publishing).

Check out other magazine writing contests from our ongoing series.

Related post: Poetry and Pain, as told by NMA Winner Patrick Lane

Off the Page, with Heather O’Neill

Off the Page is an exclusive series produced by the NMAF that reaches out to former National Magazine Award winners to find out what their awards have meant to them and what they’re up to now. Off the Page will appear each Thursday on the Magazine Awards blog during the fall of 2012. This week we catch up with National Magazine Award-winning writer Heather O’Neill.

NMAF: Two years running you’ve won the Gold National Magazine Award for Best Short Feature—“The First Time She Ran Away” (Elle Canada) and “When Your Mother is a Stranger” (Chatelaine)—both of which could be described as memoirs of adolescence. Indeed, one might reasonably infer from your body of work that you’re especially passionate about that stage of life. What do you find particularly special (or challenging) about connecting with your audience through the short, episodic memoir?

Heather O’Neill: The challenge of the short memoir is having such little space to tell a story in. You end up having to make every sentence contain a strong idea. There’s no room for any superfluous thoughts or tangents. It’s like the short program in figure skating championships. I do like the power of that form. I work in it a lot. There seems to be a lot of demand for it anyways in magazines and newspapers.

A short memoir piece is like a very powerful photograph: it’s a short snapshot from my life that is supposed to invoke an entire world.

NMAF: Your acclaimed debut novel Lullabies for Little Criminals began life as a short story in Toronto Life magazine in 2003, since which time you’ve been published frequently in many Canadian periodicals. What is the significance for you, as a young writer, of working in magazines and ultimately winning a National Magazine Award?

Heather O’Neill: I remember when the story was accepted in Toronto Life. I received a mass email from Anita Chong at McClelland and Stewart saying that Toronto Life magazine was looking for stories for its summer issue. I stuck mine in an envelope, wrote the address of the magazine on the front, kissed it and dropped it in the mailbox. It was such a big day for me when they accepted it!

I got a lot of great feedback and everyone at the magazine was effusive and full of praise. It was very validating and it really encouraged me to continue the novel. Or it certainly put a skip in my step as I was finishing the rest of it: knowing that people had taken a peek at it and had approved.  The editor, Sarah Fulford, gave me a lot of feedback and edits on how to make the story stronger, and I applied her ideas to the rest of the novel.

Publishing in Canadian magazines was absolutely indispensible to me. I had to work like a fiend to get in them. Their standards are high. It’s a way to polish your craft and see what is working in your writing and what isn’t. It’s also a way to get the attention of publishers and agents. I sent a copy of that magazine around to different agents. It was like dressing up my story in a tuxedo. It got the attention of an agent though.

I’ve since published frequently in Canadian periodicals. It’s helped me to create a unique voice and develop as a writer. It allows me to write in different forms. I love writing essays and magazines have been the primary home for them. And, depending on the magazine, it gives you new and varied sorts of audiences. It was fabulous fun winning the prize for short essay two years in a row!

NMAF: In addition to your novel and magazine work, you’re also a poet, playwright and radio journalist. What are you working on these days? 

Heather O’Neill: I’m just finishing up my new novel, called The Girl Who Was Saturday Night [forthcoming from FSG/HarperCollins]. I’ve also finished a collection of short stories that will be coming out shortly afterwards.

Heather O’Neill is a two-time National Magazine Award-winning writer whose work has appeared in Toronto Life, Chatelaine, Elle Canada and other magazines. Her award-winning debut novel Lullabies for Little Criminals (HarperCollins) was an international bestseller. She recently published And They Danced By the Light of the Moon, an ePub eBook from The Walrus and Coach House BooksOne of this blogger’s favourite pieces by Heather O’Neill is “How to Date a Writer” (from CBC Canada Writes).

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