Comments are now closed. I'll post the winners sometime before 4 pm ET today!
It's time for a Celebrate Simple Week contest! I have quite a few prizes to give away, so I think I'll break up the prize-giving into three separate posts. I'll use random.org to help pick the winners! And yes, you may enter more than once, but only once on each post.
For my first walk down memory lane today, I thought I'd document how I came to work for Simple. I think it's a good story : ) If you really want to go back in history, you'd find that when I was younger, I decided I wanted to do one of three things when I grew up: be a teacher, work at a magazine, or be a graphic designer. At some point it became clear to me that running Seventeen or equivalent probably wasn't in the cards, and my plans to major in art in college were derailed by an unfortunate incident with my senior art studio teacher, so I happily pursued a degree in education instead.
And then fast forward to 2002, when Maddie was born. I opted to put teaching on hold indefinitely to stay home with her, and eventually discovered more time to tinker around with art and crafting again; photography had always been a constant in my life, but I began to spend more time working on it then, too. On a routine visit to a tiny little stamp store in Cheyenne, I discovered the first issue of Simple Scrapbooks magazine (and immediately sent in my subscription card); I discovered Two Peas in a Bucket from a materials list caption on a layout created by Tara Whitney in one of those first issues. Though I hadn't actually scrapbooked anything yet, I began to absorb every single detail in every single issue—spending a lot of time soaking in everything at Two Peas, too. It was clear: this was the art form for me.
By mid-2004, I decided to enter a contest that Simple was hosting: The Coolest Album Ever contest. Jill and I had taken a wonderful trip to Santa Fe, New Mexico and I had been slowly working on creating a scrapbook of the trip. I have Shelby Valadez to thank for my newfound dedication to completing an album in such a fun way; she was hosting a weekly Art Inspiration challenge on Two Peas at the time and I nervously signed up and faithfully completed my weekly inspiration "assignment" during Maddie's naptime. This developing album seemed like a good fit for the contest, which had an entry division for travel.
I won! It was very exciting. As soon as I got off the phone with Stacy Julian, who probably thought I was an absolute blathering idiot, I immediately called Renee to tell her. She doesn't mind that I am sometimes a blathering idiot : )
Right after this extremely exciting event, I got a call from Mark Zoellner, a former editor at the magazine. I had only recently begun submitting pages for publication calls, and he wanted to publish a page I made about Great Falls High School in his column, Write From the Heart. He didn't know yet that I was one of the winners in the contest.
Sorry for the dark scan. I wonder how many times I used maps in pages that appeared in Simple. My guess? A LOT. And, it is not lost on me that my first appearance in a magazine featured my chosen career field. Sniff sniff.
This layout appeared in the March/April 2005 issue, my first publication in the regular magazine. I credit two people for giving me the confidence to pursue my next harebrained scheme, which was to query the magazine to write an article. Mark Zoellner was one; his eloquent encouragement and input really built my confidence. Jill's mom Bunny was the other—her invaluable advice about writing for magazines (and her donation of an old Handbook for Magazine Writing) sealed the deal. After a few more page publications here and there, I finally worked up the nerve to write my query letter to Angie. I was extremely scared of Angie at this point, because she was The Editor. This is kind of funny to me now, because if there is one thing Angie is not, it's scary.
My harebrained query letter was about writing a feature tied ino the movie Big Fish. Understandably, it never got picked up as a feature idea. I tend to have strange, abstract ideas sometimes : ) But, because I submitted this query, I got a chance to be tested for an assignment. I saved the answering machine message from Scary Angie for years, until Bridget slipped away a few months ago into my bedroom and started pushing buttons on the answering machine, erasing it and a number of other precious messages in one fell, irretrievable swoop. But I will always remember how excited I was to get that assignment! It was a Simple Schemes column, and I got to choose two people to work with, a rare but fun opportunity. I chose Renee and Susie. It was also not lost on me that my dear friend Renee appeared in both my first and last column for Simple. (In fact, this moved me to tears more than once this month). Or, that for two years, I had the privilege of writing Mark's column, Write From the Heart. Or, that I actually fulfilled my childhood dream of working for a magazine. One with a graphic design twist.
If you made it through the end of this long story that ended up probably being most interesting to me, congratulations! For the first drawing, leave a comment about how you came to find Simple. It does not have to be a book. (Scary Angie—I mean Not-Scary Angie—is rolling her eyes right now, because she knows how I love to write a book. Word count, word count, word count....) I'll draw winners tomorrow for each of the three contests today. I'll close comments for each of the three contests tomorrow morning, so feel free to enter until it won't let you post!
The first two prizes (two winners will be chosen):
The March/April 2006 issue, where my first full-length feature appeared—a "sequel" to the Scrapbook Inspiration special issue. This was always one of my favorite topics, and I am developing a Big Picture Scrapbooking class this year along the same lines! Also, a copy of a more current special issue—Quick and Easy Photo Albums—and a very cool little black photo album that would be perfect for a photo album scrapbook of your own.
Four blank mini-albums ready to be turned into something wonderful!
I'll ask the two winners if they have a preference between prizes; if it's the same prize, we'll just flip a coin. Thanks for playing, and be sure to check out
for giveaways too! And don't forget to check back here for two more contests today.