Month: February 2014

Bridesmaids brunch and mason jars

My six bridesmaids live in four different states, so it was a pretty amazing feat for us all to gather today for brunch and dress shopping. With over a year to go until the big day, it’s a little early to actually place orders — but the ogling and trying-on of dresses is (more than) half the fun. I had a perfect, wonderful day with six of my favorite girls, and it was sunny and warm! Couldn’t ask for more.

I made a small gift for each bridesmaid: a simple mason jar with candy and name tag. They were a lot of fun to make, and a good first DIY project to ease myself into the crafting I’m hoping to do for the big day. I bought the mason jars and candy at ShopRite, and the paper and rubber stamps I bought last week at Paper Presentations. I had the gold ribbon on hand. Here are some photos:

First I cut paper hearts out of metallic paper and rubber-stamped (love those rubber stamps) on each girl's name. Filter used here to show how nice and sparkly they are.

First I stenciled and cut paper hearts out of metallic paper and rubber-stamped each girl’s name. Filter used here to show how nice and sparkly they are.

I glue-sticked (glue-stuck?) confetti stars in our accent colors on either side of each name, then hole-punched the top left and strung a ribbon through.

I glue-sticked (glue-stuck?) confetti stars in our accent colors on either side of each name, then hole-punched the top left and strung a ribbon through.

Here's another angle where you can see how I tied them to the mason jars. I curled the end of the ribbon, and filled the jar with blue and cold candy.

Here’s another angle where you can see how I tied them to the mason jars. I curled the end of the ribbon, and filled the jar with blue and gold candy.

If I could do it again, I'd probably have punched the hole further up on the heart, so they hung a little straighter. But here's the whole bunch!

If I could do it again, I’d probably have punched the hole further up on the heart, so they hung a little straighter.

Happy mason-jar-holding bridesmaids!

Happy mason-jar-holding bridesmaids!

A simple project, but fun and pretty easy to do. I hope the girls enjoy them. Thanks again for a lovely day, ladies!

*Update: I forgot to mention that I purchased the rubber alphabet stamps after reading an article in the Australian magazine Modern Wedding DIY. The magazine is gorgeous, gorgeous, gorgeous. The stamps were featured as one of the seven DIY basic essentials every crafting bride should buy. Seeing how fantastic the stamped projects are turning out, I’m definitely going out to buy the other six this week.


President’s Day at Paper Presentation

I’m kind of obsessed with paper, probably more than your average human. I buy more stationary than I need and more journals than I could ever fill up. I’ve bought designer, $8.50 birthday cards — and never sent them, because I didn’t want to part with them. Really. I still have them. And you have the 99-cent flimsy Hallmark card. Sorry about that.

If I were craftier or more artistically inclined, I’d probably take up scrapbooking or paper craft or letterpress or collage. But “crafty” isn’t my middle name, unfortunately. (It’s Lynn.) So I buy paper products because they’re pretty, because they feel nice, because I like them. Sometimes I write on them. Sometimes I don’t.

I’m sounding a little creepily Gollum-esque about paper, so I’ll get to the lede: Matt and I went to the paper store today. It was oh-so-nice.

Field trip to: Paper Presentation
Objective: Pick out wedding colors and buy a set of rubber alphabet stamps
Mission: Complete!

So many colors, and this is only a sampling... Looking at these envelopes makes me want to send a letter.

So many colors, and this is only a sampling… Looking at these envelopes makes me want to send a letter.

Color-coded storage containers, too? Now this is exciting! (I think I have a problem.)

Color-coded storage containers, too? Now this is exciting! …I think I have a problem.

Playing with my lowercase alphabet stamps when we got home -- they work!

Playing with my lowercase alphabet stamps when we got home — they work!

And the main objective of the trip was to find paper that would match our imagined wedding colors (green, blue, yellow). Matt was a really good sport about the whole thing — he doesn’t feel quite as strongly about the differences between aqua, aquamarine, and Bermuda blue as I do, but when we landed on our final combination, even he couldn’t help gasping in awe* at its beauty!

(*I may be exaggerating a bit.)

Green, blue, and yellow -- or, to be more precise, metallic botanic, Bermuda, and soleil.

Green, blue, and yellow — or, to be more precise, metallic botanic, Bermuda, and soleil.

A productive day, a fun trip, and a final decision* on the wedding shades! Abe and George would be proud. Happy President’s Day, y’all.

(*Final, meaning there’s 98% chance I’ve changed my mind by the time you read this.)

On Mindfulness in “Screenworld”

Cartoon by Mick Stevens. Source: The New Yorker via Condé Nast Collection

Cartoon by Mick Stevens. Source: The New Yorker via Condé Nast Collection

I’ve been thinking a lot lately about how much time I spend each day looking at a screen — computer, cell phone, TV — and how much of that time is useful and focused, versus how much of that time is due to lack of inertia. It was serendipity that, in my doctor’s waiting room today, I came across an article in the August 2013 issue of Mindful that covered the very same subject. The more I read about mindfulness, the more I feel like it’s something I need more of in my life. This article brought up many excellent, provocative points that I want to share and add my thoughts to.

The article is a conversation between three people, all leaders in the technology field, about how they’ve found ways to focus their energy and attention, becoming more productive, creative, and engaged. They certainly aren’t anti-technology, obviously; they are all supporters of using technology in a way that connects us rather than disconnects us, improves our quality of life rather than detracts from it.

I think this piece is a must-read for anyone who finds themselves absentmindedly clicking into a social media site at work, swiping at their cell phone for updates seconds after they’ve just put it down, checking their Blackberry or iPad during meetings, bringing mobile devices into what Irene Au of Udacity calls “sacred spaces, so to speak” (yoga class for her, dance class for me). It’s about being present, and actively engaging in technology only as it serves to strengthen your life. They aren’t saying, “Don’t watch funny cat videos.” They’re saying, “Only watch funny cat videos during the specific time you’ve created for yourself to recharge while watching funny cat videos — and maybe that time shouldn’t take up a significant chunk of your day, yeah?”

Part of the article is a page titled “Take Control of Your Tech Habits,” and that’s something I would like to focus on at this point in my life. With that in mind, I borrow the following goals as my own:

  1. “Come back to your body, to doing one thing at a time and knowing why you’re doing it.” This is key. This mantra can be applied to so many parts of my life — work, food, dance. I want to strive to be in the moment, fully present, as I work to achieve a healthy and fulfilling life. (Worth noting that I haven’t checked Facebook or my cell phone once while writing this post!)
  2. “…agree on when it’s acceptable for each of you to be on your devices and when it’s not.” I’m too often guilty of the terrible millennial trait of putting my phone on the table when I meet a friend for dinner. It’s entirely too acceptable to say, “I’m here with you, until something or someone else pops up, at which time I’ll give you about 50% of my attention, if that.” No more for me, and I don’t think it’s unreasonable to ask my friends and my Matt — poor Matt, always getting dragged into my whims — to join me in this.
  3. “Choose your sources wisely, budget the time you spend there, and when you feel your mind tiring, move on.” Again, this quote is meant to be about technology and information overload, but it resonates for so much more. It’s about choosing where and with who you invest your time. It’s about being an active participant in the way your life is run.

Yes, yes, I do realize the seeming irony of me staring at a screen as I write this post — and, for that matter, of me staring at a screen as I read the rest of the article. (Darn doctors being on time for their appointments and not letting me finish my magazine…) But it’s not ironic at all. It’s exactly the point. I chose to engage myself in this article and this blog post, and I did. And now I’m done with screens for the evening. As soon as I check Facebook. And then I’m really done.

Apologizing for grammar

Part of my daily job is to review all of the sales materials our marketing team creates. I check for proper grammar, spelling, and punctuation, and review for general correctness. (Is the image of the book cover right? Has the book title changed since marketing wrote the copy? Are the price and trim size OK?) Here’s how a typical e-mail exchange goes:

Marketing designer: Here is an ad for you to check. Let me know if you have any changes.
Me: Sorry, but there should be a comma after [word] and “[other word]” is misspelled. Can you please fix?
Marketing designer: Sure. Here’s a revised file.
Me: Sorry, sorry, I missed that the address at the bottom is incorrect. It needs to be updated. Thanks very much.

I used to think I was being polite, but I’m now thinking Mom’s been right all these years: I’m over-apologetic. I apologize for everything. If you bump into me on the street, I’ll probably say I’m sorry. If I ask a waitress to make any sort of alteration to my order (“Hold the cheese,” “extra crispy,” etc.) I’ll apologize while I’m doing it. I think the worst of it is when I’m walking down the hall, accidentally catch someone’s eye, and quickly apologize. For being seen? For obscuring your line of vision? For existing? Sorry, sorry, sorry!

And so, I’m done apologizing for grammar. It’s the least of my worries. It’s not my fault that you need a period there. I don’t need to feel bad that I’m correcting a misspelled word. Because I’ve talked to that lovely marketing designer, and she has assured me she doesn’t feel personally offended when I help improve the quality of whatever it is she’s working on. In fact — shocker! — she’s happy for the check. So, sorry I’m not sorry, bad grammar. Make your own apologies from now on.

Pub Internships #1: The Search

Before I started working full-time, I took on internships at a bunch of different places. My first one was at a local newspaper in Trenton, NJ, covering amateur sports events. My second and third internships were both for Simon & Schuster, first in their adult production department, and then for children’s editorial. My last internship before landing a full-time gig was the summer after I graduated college; I spent four days a week with one of Penguin’s children’s editorial teams. Currently, at DK, I hire and manage our seasonal editorial interns. I think I’ve directly managed about six now, maybe more.

All of this is just to say, I know a little bit about internships. Especially publishing internships. I’m sure it was Joni Mitchell who said, “I’ve looked at [internships] from both sides now,” and I, like her, think I have some insight to offer. So, let this post be the first in a series where I discuss how to find, land, and make the most of internships in the publishing industry. I’ll probably also deviate from that plan and talk about what it means to hire, supervise, and mentor interns. I’d love for these posts to turn into discussions from both sides, so feel free to post any questions and thoughts in the comments.

Onward! This post’s topic: Finding internships.

There are so, so many ways to find internships online. From general search sites like Internship Finder and Intern Match, to more specific industry-related sites like Bookjobs and Mediabistro, to even more specific publisher sites, it’s easy to find all sorts of internship opportunities on the web. What’s not easy, though, is actually getting these internships, because everybody is looking at these sites. Everybody. Sometimes hundreds of internship-hopefuls apply for a single internship; you don’t have to be a mathematician to figure out those odds.

I’m not saying you shouldn’t check out these sites — and if you do, know that the industry- and publisher-specific sites are probably your best bet. What you do need to keep in mind, though, is that your leg-up will come from finding internship opportunities in more unlikely locations. As anyone trying to secure their first internship will tell you, every leg-up you can get helps. (They say it’s hard to get an internship without internship experience, and you can’t get internship experience without an internship. They’re right.)

I get it. We’re living in an online world. It’s easy to search, point-and-click, mass-apply. But if the searching, pointing-and-clicking, and mass-applying isn’t working, try one of these five alternatives:

  1. Talk to your classmates. If you’re in college, chances are good that you have friends, older classmates, or maybe even a lovely creative-writing-club former president (hey, Aly!) who have either completed an internship or are currently interning. I used to love passing along new names and resumes to my old internship coordinators for two reasons: One, it provided me an excuse to get back in touch with HR, which I hoped would keep me fresh in their mind when I started applying for full-time work. And two, it made me feel cool. (What? It did. Haters gonna hate.)
  2. Talk to your professors. I’m five years removed from college, and I still keep in touch with many of my professors. This is good for you, future interns, because if they ever got in touch with me to recommend someone for DK’s internship, I’d listen. I’d definitely listen. Especially if you’re an English major, it’s likely that your professors have connections at a publishing house, either through friends, former students, or maybe even their own editor. If they like you, maybe they’ll throw you a bone. (Don’t harass them, though. Ask once, ask nicely, then let it go.)
  3. Go to industry panels. Groups like Young to Publishing (of which I’m a member) have specific committees that travel to colleges, talking up book careers and making connections with publishing hopefuls. If you catch wind of an industry panel at your college, or even at a college nearby, and you don’t attend, you’re just silly. I’ll need to have an entire post devoted to networking etiquette, but for now, the basics: Do your research ahead of time so you know who you’re networking with. Bring copies of your resume but don’t give them out unless they’re asked for. Request business cards from people so you can contact them later. Send thank-you notes or e-mails! (Really! It helps!)
  4. Find publishers’ career handles and pages on social mediaThere is a real, live person maintaining these sites, and their entire purpose is to find and connect with you. Facebook pages like Penguin’s and Simon & Schuster’s are great examples. Publishers are on Twitter and Tumblr, too. What’s really great about going this route is last-minute opportunities often get posted; for example, if a Penguin imprint needs an intern to start the next week, you’ll definitely read about it on their newsfeed. It’s worth noting that you should make sure your social media presence shows you in your best light — but, again, that’s another post altogether.
  5. If you want to edit, read the kind of books you’d want to work on someday. It’s not hard to figure out who the editor is on any book; scan the acknowledgments, go to the author’s website, or check industry listings. Once you’ve got that editor’s name, use your Sherlock Holmes sleuthing skills to devise their publisher’s e-mail address formula (it’s usually along the lines of [firstname].[lastname], [firstinitial][lastname]… you get the idea). Write them a note introducing yourself, letting them know you enjoyed the book, and asking if they have any internships available. Tread lightly here: Be complimentary, but don’t suck up. Be clear and concise. Send one e-mail, and maybe one follow-up two weeks later if you don’t get a response. Don’t send 20 e-mails a day. (That should go without saying, but sadly… it doesn’t.)
We got creamed that day in softball by the CBS Sports interns, but really, what did you expect?

The Simon & Schuster interns of summer 2008 say, “You can do it!”

How did you find your first internship?