Posts tagged ‘Work’

November 14, 2011

Free Books! Seriously.

Today I’m donning my editor hat because I have something really fun to share with you, reader friends—especially you mommies and anyone else who loves picture books.

A few weeks ago, I met with the founder of a pretty cool new digital picture book platform called uTales. It’s a subscription-based picture book service, kind of like Netflix, kind of like Spotify. The cool thing—okay, there are lots of cool things—is that you can not only read picture books, but you can create them, too. The books on the site are not ones you’re going to find at your library or local bookstore. They were created on the site, and while they may be published in print in the future, currently, they’re only digital.

Lest you be wary about the quality, as I initially was, know that there is an editorial panel—of both professionals and hand-picked “uTalers”—who determine which books are worthy of being “published”. From what I’ve read thus far, probably a dozen of the 150 titles, there are a few punctuation issues, but the stories and illustrations are top-notch.

So where do the free books come in?  Well, having met with the founder (fingers crossed that I find a place on the editorial panel in the future), he offered me a free 15-day trial to share with you!

This isn’t a contest; there’s no limit to the number of people who can take advantage of it. It’s simply an effort to get the word out about this new take on what “picture book” means and how readers interact with them.

Here’s the link for the free sign-up: http://utales.com/users/sign_up

I really encourage you to give it a shot. The books work on computers, iPads, and iPhones. The site just launched at the beginning of November, and the more people who try it now, the more the folks behind it will know about the public’s interest. I currently have no professional association with them, I just think it’s pretty cool. So does Jacob. To him, it would only be better if I let him press the buttons on the computer.

Happy reading, reader friends!

P.S. You can also buy individual titles. For now, ignore the “Buy” buttons under the titles. The free trial really is free, and the entire library is open to you!

P.P.S. This one’s for you, Uncle Michael:

August 23, 2011

A Temporary Full-Time Job

Last week I had an unexpected but super fun work engagement change our schedule, big time.  What I thought might be a morning and maybe an afternoon away from home turned into three full days and two evenings.  Which meant that three days of business as usual with the little man turned into half a week with him in New Jersey, living the life of a “real” working mom for the first time.

 

I don’t know that I would have proposed the arrangement on such short notice, but with a fantastic grandma, who happens to be a teacher—and thus has summers off—it seemed like a good deal for everyone.  Jacob and his grandparents got some great bonding time, and I got a taste of what it’s like to be away from my baby all day.

 

Though I spent time with the Peanut in the mornings and the evenings, getting him ready for the day or for bed, and playing some too, it was nowhere near as much time as we normally have together. Thankfully our workspace was close to my parents’ house and I was able to nurse Jacob once each day, when he needed it (the bottle was a no-go).  Still, I’d never before experienced that seeing-him-again-at-the-end-of-the-day thing, and while it’s sad to be away, that moment when we were together again was awesome.  The kid has a killer smile.

 

Because Jacob is eleven months old, nursing less and napping more regularly, and because there was family around to care for him, I avoided the stress I imagine other working moms encounter when choosing childcare for their little ones, post-maternity leave. Knowing how I tend to over-think things, and considering how stressed I am about Jacob’s allergies and what to feed him both now and when he weans, I would guess I would have slept close to never throughout the childcare-choosing process, if John and I had decided to go that route.  Kudos to those who do it with such grace and trust!

 

I know and respect moms who work in a more traditional environment than I do, and I’m grateful to have a glimpse into what their days are like.  To some extent, I think I’ve always understood why some mothers go back to work, when it’s not about money. Before we were married, John and I knew our plan was for me to stay home when children came along, and try my hand at freelance work.  But when the time came to make the transition, I really struggled with it.  I legitimately had my dream job.  But I knew that what God had given, God could take away, and this was a time I could exercise my trust in Him in a real and tangible way.  I also knew that if I didn’t trust in Him, if I went back on what I’d promised my family, we’d all lose in the end.

 

Having eight hours a day to concentrate on something with only minor interruptions and to dig into a project I believe in and see my contribution make progress was great.  I see how valuable that time can be in maintaining psychological balance in one’s life.  I’m still working on work/home priorities and balance, and while I am grateful that I am blessed with the work I have, it’s tough to fit it all in sometimes.  Having a chance to really do one thing at a time was kind of refreshing.

 

Still, it’s not what’s right for me full-time right now. I know that at some point all our kids (God willing!) will be in school, and if I choose to go back to an office environment, hopefully what I’ve been doing in the meantime—both my freelance work and raising kids/managing a household—will help make that a possibility.

 

I’ve been singing “Amazing Grace” to Jacob a lot lately, and these verses sum up my experience pretty well:

 

Through many dangers, toils and snares
I have already come;
‘Tis Grace that brought me safe thus far
and Grace will lead me home.

 

The Lord has promised good to me.
His word my hope secures.
He will my shield and portion be,
As long as life endures.

 

Amen!

 

August 12, 2011

Books for Babies: All the World

Some of you kind reader folks know that before Jacob was born, I worked in children’s publishing. Actually, I still work in children’s publishing, but now I am a freelance editor and writer rather than an assistant at a publishing house or a literary agency.  (Shameless plug: check me out.)

Children’s publishing is a happy, wonderful world of adorable illustrations, sweetly rhyming texts, and—in my experience—brightly colored office doors and lax dress codes.  It’s place where incredibly intelligent, funny, and well-meaning people get together to say “cute” seventeen thousand times a day—and mean it every time.

As incredible as my time in the more corporate side of things was, I didn’t have a complete perspective on what makes a children’s book work before Jacob was born.  Sure, I had books I loved as a child, and I’d read to kids while babysitting and during story time at Borders, but before I was a mother, before I held Jacob in my arms, before I watched him react to the stories I read him, I was missing a very important piece of the puzzle.

Most people take “children’s publishing” to mean simply board books or picture books.  Those are part of the industry, but not all of it.  Middle grade novels (like Diary of a Wimpy Kid) and young adult novels (Twilight and so on) fall under this umbrella as well.  But considering Jacob’s less than a year old, I’ve really only had experience as a mother with picture books.  So now, finally, we can get to the point of this post.

When I was more thoroughly entrenched in the midtown-Manhattan-based part of the industry, I knew which books I appreciated as an adult.  Of course I was more familiar with those published by my house, Simon & Schuster, than any other, so as much as I wanted to make recommendations to friends, I knew I was kind of biased when I did.

Now with some distance (almost a year!) from my time in that office and many, many snuggles with my own little Peanut, I feel ready to make some tried and true suggestions for good books to read to babies.  I hope my recommendations will help moms grab some good reads at the library or the bookstore, or maybe even help someone find a baby shower gift or two.

The first book I recommend is All the World by Liz Garton Scanlon and illustrated by Marla Frazee. (Did you know that in German books, the illustrator of a picture book is often listed first?  It’s not relevant here, just a fun fact I thought I’d share).

 

 

Anyway, All the World is, I admit, published by Simon & Schuster, but not a part that I worked for.  It was also awarded a well-deserved Caldecott Honor, which is one of the highest honors for illustrated children’s books, so there’s proof that more people than just me think this book is something very special.

I knew this book was gorgeous when I was at S&S.  I had a couple of sample pages taped to my desk wall.  I wasn’t the only one.  All of us were in love with the lyrical, ultimately spiritual tone of the book and the perspective that it brought each of us, wherever we were in our lives.  But even with all that, it wasn’t until I read it to Jacob the other day that I just about cried.

All the World follows a family through an ordinary day and takes note of all the simple things that make our world what it is—the good things and the bad, the joys and the mistakes along the way.  There is playing at the beach and sharing of meals, and in the end, it’s all about family and friends, and what we mean to each other.  The text rhymes, but beautifully and richly.  Take one peek at the illustrations and you’ll want to buy an extra copy (or six) to wallpaper your house.  And I don’t even like wallpaper.

I sometimes wonder why we focus on sharing things this pure and true with little ones, and not with older people, who are more likely to be jaded and bitter about the tough stuff.  This book puts things—all the things of this world—in a very true and very accessible light.

Moral of the story:  Read this book.  Then buy a copy for yourself and anyone else you know—baby or adult—who needs a little reminder of all the good that’s in the world, all the love that exists, all the wonderful things that make our world the blessed place that it is.

%d bloggers like this: